Saturday, February 24, 2018

Defending the Rule of Law - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

The dire consequences for Israeli democracy if Netanyahu is forced from office.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

Israel’s system of democracy has been under assault for more than two decades. Since the early 1990s, elected officials have fought a losing battle to maintain their power. The legal fraternity and the police, acting with the enthusiastic support and often at the urging of the politically biased media, have seized politicians’ governing prerogatives and powers one by one. These actions have all been justified in the name of the rule of law.
Today, Israel’s democracy – that is, the ability of the nation to determine its course through the election of representatives that share their convictions – is threatened as never before.

Almost exactly 21 years ago, elected officials lost their most important battle to date. On January 10, 1997, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first government approved the appointment of Ronnie Bar-On to serve as attorney-general. Bar-On was a private attorney in Jerusalem. He chaired the Beitar soccer organization in the capital and his was a close friend and former mentor of then-justice minister Tzachi Hanegbi who did his legal clerkship in Bar-On’s office.
The government’s announcement that Bar-On would serve as attorney-general was viciously criticized by the media and Israel’s legal elite. Much of the criticism was rank snobbery. Bar-On was not a member of the club. He had not served as a prosecutor. He was not a law professor. He was just a good lawyer with friendly ties to Hanegbi. How dare the government appoint him? 

The basic line of the critics was that Bar-On was so unworthy to serve that his appointment must have been corrupt. The allegations against Bar-On, Netanyahu and Hanegbi were so demeaning and hysterical, the news coverage was so hostile that Bar-On decided he had better things to do.

Recognizing that he wouldn’t be able to properly discharge his duties in the atmosphere of animus that greeted him at every turn, Bar-On resigned two days after he was appointed.

Bar-On’s resignation didn’t end the outcry, however. The media storm went on day after day.
On January 22, 1997, the reporters finally found their “rat.” That evening, a young reporter from Channel 1 named Ayala Hasson reported that just as everyone had suspected, Bar-On’s appointment was born of corruption and if he hadn’t quit Israel’s entire rule of law would have been irreparably corrupted.

Around the time Bar-On was appointed, Netanyahu concluded a deal with the PLO to remove IDF units from most of the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Hebron. The Hebron deal was opposed by the ideological Right. To secure its passage in the Knesset, Netanyahu required the support of the Shas party, led by then-interior minister Arye Deri. In 1997, criminal probes that had been opened against Deri in 1994 were intensifying.

Hasson alleged that Deri told Hanegbi that Shas’s 10 lawmakers would vote in favor of the Hebron deal if Hanegbi appointed Bar-On to serve as attorney-general. As attorney-general, Bar-On would offer Deri a plea bargain that would end the criminal probes against him without determining that his actions rose to the level of moral turpitude. Under Israeli law, public servants convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude are banned from public service for seven years.

All hell broke loose as soon as Hasson gave her report. Channel 2 put four reporters on the story. The allegations dominated news coverage morning, noon and night. Although he dismissed her claims as “rubbish,” Netanyahu ordered the police to probe her allegations.

Netanyahu then became the first prime minister to ever be interrogated “under caution,” meaning as a criminal suspect.

After a brief, intense investigation, details of which leaked like a river to breathless reporters, then-chief of police investigations unit Sando Mazor announced that the police recommended trying Netanyahu and Hanegbi for breach of trust. The police further recommended that Avigdor Liberman, then-director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, and Deri be indicted for extortion and breach of trust.

The Hebron-Bar-On affair was the first order of business that then-attorney-general Elyakim Rubinstein adjudicated after being appointed by the government.

Amid a media circus that never died down, in April 1997, Rubinstein delivered the media the bad news.

Rubinstein closed the investigations against Netanyahu, Hanegbi and Liberman for lack of evidence of wrongdoing. He kept the probe against Deri open until 2003, when it too was closed.

Despite the fact that the claims against Netanyahu and his ministers lacked an evidentiary basis, Rubinstein’s decision was not the end of the story. Netanyahu survived in office, but he was massively weakened by Hasson’s false allegations of corruption.

Media allegations that Netanyahu was the enemy of the rule of law didn’t let up after Rubinstein exonerated him. Finally breaking under the weight of unrelenting pressure, Netanyahu surrendered the government’s power to appoint the attorney-general, to the Supreme Court. Since 1997, the government’s power to select the attorney-general is limited to choosing between the two or three candidates who were selected and pre-approved by the justices.

The post-Hebron-Bar-On system has rendered the attorney-general effectively subordinate to the court, rather than to the government. And since the attorney-general is in charge of the state prosecution, the state prosecution is also effectively controlled by the court. Consequently, the attorney-general no longer needs to take the government’s positions into account. He no longer is required to defend government decisions when they are challenged in the court.

Over the past 20 years, the government has found itself repeatedly in the untenable position of having a position that the attorney-general refused to represent before the court.

For instance, in 2011, then-attorney general Yehuda Weinstein refused to defend the government’s appointment of Maj.-Gen. Yoav Gallant to serve as IDF chief of General Staff, when a radical NGO petitioned the court to cancel his appointment. With no representation, the government had no recourse but to cancel Gallant’s appointment.

So while the Hebron-Bar-On affair didn’t bring down the government, and despite the fact that it uncovered no government corruption or illegal action, the media outcry that it fueled dictated an anti-democratic political reality. A weakened prime minister and government were coerced into ceding one of their key powers to unelected judges, who in the ensuing years have used that power to undermine the government’s ability to determine national policy.

The situation today in which Netanyahu is being buried under an avalanche of legally spurious criminal probes is more dangerous to Israeli democracy than the Hebron-Bar-On was. In 1997, Netanyahu himself ordered the criminal probe. Today the probes are the work of a shockingly aggressive and openly biased police investigations unit and police commissioner.

The probes Netanyahu is the subject of have little legal weight. He is accused of discussing the possibility of giving in to extortion from Yediot Aharonot’s publisher Arnon Mozes. Mozes offered him better coverage in exchange for shutting down Yediot’s chief competitor Israel Hayom. While 43 lawmakers voted for a law that would do just that, Netanyahu brought down his government to protect Israel Hayom from Mozes and his 43 lawmakers.

A separate probe alleges that in exchange for tax breaks for Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications company, Netanyahu was supposed to receive less hostile coverage at the Walla Internet news portal. Netanyahu’s friend Shaul Elovitch owns both Bezeq and Walla. The notion that Netanyahu has supported corporate tax breaks for decades and that his friend Elovitch might have wanted to diminish his website’s hostility toward Netanyahu is apparently impossible for the police to accept.

And so, Elovitch, his wife and son along with Netanyahu’s former communications adviser and several top Bezeq executives were arrested in raids on their homes in the middle of the night like heroin dealers, and remanded to custody. Since their arrests on Sunday night, these top executives and senior officials have been subjected to abusive interrogations and public humiliations.

The third probe of Netanyahu alleges that in exchange for gifts from his longtime friend businessman Arnon Milchan, Netanyahu lobbied then-finance minister Yair Lapid to extend the time covered by a law that provides tax and tax reporting exemptions on global income to returning expatriates and new immigrants. The fact that Netanyahu has always supported such laws because they encourage capital flow and investment to Israel is beside the point as far as the police are concerned. Milchan supported the proposed amendment and he gave Netanyahu cigars. So Netanyahu must be a bribe taker.

Finally, Netanyahu is accused of offering to appoint a senior judge – then-Tel Aviv District Court president Hila Gerstl – to serve as attorney-general in exchange for closing a criminal probe against his wife, Sara Netanyahu.

Even the most anti-Netanyahu reporters scoffed at this bit of nonsense, which allegedly occurred through intermediaries in 2015. If the allegation is true then not only is Gerstl guilty of failing to report a crime, her friend Supreme Court President Esther Hayut, whom she reportedly confided in at the time, similarly broke the law by failing to report the alleged bribe offer to the police.

But none of this matters to police leakers and investigators. The allegation that Netanyahu decided to repeat the actions he never took in the Bar-On- Hebron affair headlined the news for 48 hours.

Netanyahu’s opponents insist this isn’t personal. This is about the rule of law. If he isn’t forced from office, they say, the rule of law in Israel will be undermined and Israeli democracy will be dangerously weakened.

His critics are right that these investigations endanger Israel’s rule of law. But they have the process and the threat backward.

On their face, these probes are neither supported by sufficient evidence to bring a conviction, nor do they serve the public interest. These are the only two considerations that state prosecutors are supposed to be guided by when they decide whether or not to indict criminal suspects.

In Netanyahu’s case, the police’s insufficiently substantiated, arguably specious claims are the subject of around the clock media coverage, fed by constant leaks from police investigators and underpinned by middle-of-the-night arrests of respected citizens. The undisguised goal of this media coverage is to cultivate a sense among the public – without bringing a case to court – that Netanyahu and his friends and advisers are evil crooks who stop at nothing to get their way.

If these investigations are successful in forcing Netanyahu from office, he will not be the most significant victim of this abuse. If he goes, every current and future politician will know that at any time and under any circumstances he is liable to find himself and his loved ones destroyed by abusive criminal probes. Operating under such terror, no elected leader will ever move beyond the boundaries dictated for him by politicized police investigators, prosecutors, journalists and judges.

In other words, if Netanyahu is forced from office, Israeli democracy will be critically, and possibly irreparably, debilitated.

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit


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Soros Buying A Texas DA Seat - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

Undermining immigration enforcement and elevating sanctuary cities is the goal.

Leftist billionaire George Soros has been pouring big money into a Texas district attorney race as part of his effort to install extremist prosecutors across America who will protect lawless so-called sanctuary cities that obstruct the enforcement of federal immigration law.

We already knew that pressure groups funded by Soros are litigating to keep U.S. ports-of-entry wide open to terrorists and other people who hate America. And leftist propaganda shops like the Brennan Center for Justice, which has taken in about $23 million from Soros since 2000, have churned out reports arguing that state judicial systems need to be reshaped to more closely follow the Left’s agenda.

Soros is using his vast fortune in an attempt to radicalize local prosecutors’ offices in part because he wants to block U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from functioning. The self-styled philosopher wants to cripple law enforcement in order to advance the radical abstraction known as social justice that simplistically breaks the world down into race, class, and sex. Radicals claim that American laws and institutions are corrupt and that these systems protect, for example, wealthy, white, native-born, non-disabled males at the expense of everyone else. In this instance, U.S. immigration law is inherently unfair to illegal aliens, or so the reasoning goes.

Soros’s current target is Bexar County, Texas, District Attorney Nico LaHood, Peter Hasson reports in the Daily Caller. LaHood is a Democrat who oppose sanctuary cities and describes himself as “a conservative guy.”

Bexar County, which includes San Antonio, is the fourth most-populous county in Texas. Knocking off LaHood would be a significant step forward for the Soros agenda.

Soros has already blown through around $70,000 supporting LaHood’s primary opponent, Joe Gonzales, by way of Texas Justice & Public Safety, a political action committee or PAC. The sum includes more than $30,000 devoted to mailers attacking LaHood as “bigoted,” “racist,” and “Islamophobic” in both the English and Spanish languages.

LaHood countered by running an ad titled “Your DA’s Office is Not For Sale.”

“We know George Soros is a billionaire who has purchased at least 10 other district attorneys’ offices around the country, not to mention other political positions,” LaHood said in the ad.

LaHood has an unusual background for a prosecutor. He was arrested in 1994 for selling $3,600 worth of a controlled substance – 200 Ecstasy pills – to undercover police. He pled guilty “and was given deferred adjudication, a probated $1,000 fine and ordered to perform 320 hours of community service,” according to the San Antonio Express-News.

But the one-time drug dealer turned his life around, graduated from law school, and began practicing as an attorney. He is now a born-again Christian.

Although leftists like Soros pride themselves on supporting ex-cons and so-called people of color like LaHood, a Latino, the district attorney has committed some unpardonable sins in the eyes of left-wingers.

Exhibit A: As noted above, LaHood believes U.S. immigration law should be enforced and is opposed to sanctuary cities. He was pleased with Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, when he signed a law banning sanctuary jurisdictions in Texas. “I do not support sanctuary cities,” LaHood said. “I understand the spirit of what the governor was trying to do, and I appreciate it.”

Exhibit B: LaHood’s views on Islam, which he calls “a horrifically violent religion,” are utterly reasonable, which is an instant deal-breaker for leftists. “Islam is basically a political system wrapped in a religion,” he said. “This has nothing to do with whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican or independent or anything in between. It has to do with American values and what’s acceptable in our country or not, period.”

“I don’t get into discussions about Muslims because I have some very, very — and I want to emphasize this — very good friends that wear the label of a Muslim,” has said. “But they don’t follow the tenets or the principle of Islam, more importantly Sharia Law, because they’ve been Americanized.” Terrorists “are truly, militantly following what the text tells them to do.”

Exhibit C: he’s not a Trump-hater. He describes himself as “a conservative guy,” and criticizes the president in only the mildest terms. “Trump’s style, he’s not my style,” LaHood said last year to conservative talk radio host “Doc” Owen. “He’s not wrong on a lot of things. He’s wrong in some things. He’s not wrong in everything.”

Soros intervened financially in another Texas district attorney race in 2016, giving an unheard-of $500,000 in PAC money to Kim Ogg, who beat incumbent Republican Devon Anderson to become DA in Harris County, which includes Houston. Ogg promised a “significant culture change,” including greater leniency in marijuana possession cases and making it easier for criminal defendants to make bail.

According to a Daily Signal analysis, in the 2016 election cycle Soros shelled out almost $11 million in 12 DA races. Democrat candidates backed by Soros ended up winning in 10 of those dozen contests. Soros also funded district attorney candidates in Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Louisiana, and New Mexico.

Soros’s backing helped elect radical leftist Lawrence (Larry) Krasner (D) as Philadelphia DA this past November. In private practice, Krasner had sued police more than 75 times and represented Occupy Philadelphia and Black Lives Matter.

After being sworn in on Jan. 2, Krasner fired 31 prosecutors without explanation on his fourth day in office, Joe Schoffstall reports at the Washington Free Beacon.
A list of those who were purged from the office shows that a number of them came from the homicide division, drug enforcement, and civil asset forfeiture units. The terminations have stalled court cases in the city, where one judge on Monday criticized the office after they asked that a murder trial be postponed due to the assistant attorney general being one of the dozens of people let go by Krasner, according to reports.
Krasner has vowed never to seek the death penalty in any criminal case and to keep Philadelphia a sanctuary city. A segment of his platform titled “Resist the Trump Administration” spelled out his plan to “protect immigrants,” “reject the drug war,” and “stand up to police misconduct.”

Last year Soros gave $1.7 million to the Philadelphia Justice and Public Safety PAC, which was created to support Krasner and listed its address as the Democrat law firm Perkins Coie in the nation’s capital. Perkins Coie was used by Democrats to pay Fusion GPS for its infamous “piss-gate” dossier compiled by Trump-hating rent-a-spy Christopher Steele.

Also last year, a Soros PAC spent $106,000 on behalf of Portsmouth, Virginia Commonwealth Attorney Stephanie Morales (D) without anyone noticing during the campaign.

Black Lives Matter booster and New York Daily News troll Shaun King, a white plagiarist who pretends to be black, hailed Morales on Twitter as, “One of the most righteous, woke prosecutors in the nation, y’all.”

This tells you all you need to know about Morales.

Soros’s plans for sweeping local district attorney races in 2018 was discussed behind closed doors last November at a meeting of the super-rich leftists of the Democracy Alliance at upscale La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, California. The Democracy Alliance, which Soros co-founded, is a donors’ collaborative whose members secretly fund left-wing political infrastructure projects, such as think tanks, leadership institutes, and activist groups.

Democracy Alliance president Gara LaMarche, a former Soros lieutenant, wrote in a letter to conference attendees that President Trump's victory a year ago was "the most cataclysmic election of modern history."

There was a 55-minute "Talk with George Soros" listed on the official schedule obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, as well as an hour-long discussion titled, "Prosecutor Races -- Winning Big in 2018?"

The Left already dominates large swaths of the courts and the legal profession, but that’s not good enough for Soros. He funds efforts to encourage states to fill their respective supreme courts with judges recommended by invariably left-wing lawyer-driven commissions, as John Gizzi wrote for Capital Research Center (my employer) in 2010.

Soros, who turns 88 in August, boasts of giving $32 billion of his own personal fortune to his philanthropy, the Open Society Foundations. Of that total, $18 billion was donated last year, reducing Soros’s net worth to $8 billion. This $18 billion mother-of-all-money-bombs essentially guarantees OSF will remain one of the most important players in left-wing activism long after Soros is gone.

And whatever damage Soros does to law enforcement will long outlive him.

Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the investigative think tank Capital Research Center, is an award-winning investigative reporter and author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


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Paul Joseph Watson Video: How Sweden is Committing Suicide Through Political Correctness -


A case study in a country that is obliterating itself.

In this new video, Paul Joseph Watson unveils How Sweden is Committing Suicide Through Political Correctness. Don't miss it!


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Two more Russian topline Su-57 land in Syria to challenge US, Israeli air might - debkaFile

by debkaFile

DEBKA Weekly’s military sources see President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send the Su-57 fighters to Syria as substantially raising the big power stakes in Syria after the loss of dozens of Russian troops on Feb. 7 to massive US artillery and air strikes

Government sources in Moscow reported Saturday, Feb. 24, that four fifth-generation Sukhoi-57 jet fighters are currently deployed in Syria after a second pair landed Friday.  The first two arrived on  Monday, Feb. 19 at Russia’s Khmeimim air base, along with 4 Su-35 fighters, 4 Su-25 strike aircraft and an A-50U radar command-and-control platform.

DEBKA file reported the first pair’s arrival on Friday, Feb. 23, along with this comment: This top-performance fleet raises Russia’s air strike and defense capabilities in Syria to the highest standards of any air force in the world, with enough power to take on superior US and Israeli air might in the Syrian arena. The Su-57’s weapon bays are designed to carry Russia’s new nuclear tactical X-50 air-launched cruise missile, although it is not known whether the aircraft in Syria are carrying them. DEBKA Weekly’s military sources see President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send the Su-57 fighters to Syria as substantially raising the big power stakes in Syria after the loss of dozens of Russian troops on Feb. 7 to massive US artillery and air strikes that decimated the Russian, Syrian and pro-Iranian forces crossing the Euphrates River. An American radar-invisible F-22 took part in that raid. The Russians have dubbed the Su-57 the “F-22 killer.”

It is also Russia’s response to Israel’s air offensive on Feb. 10, which targeted the shared Russian-Iranian T-4 air base near Palmyra and smashed four Iranian Revolutionary Guards forward command centers in Syria, after downing an Iranian drone. It is also seen in Moscow as a challenge for Israel’s newly acquired fifth-generation US F-35 combat aircraft.

Does Putin intend to order his mighty airborne strike force to go into battle against the US or Israel in the boiling Syrian arena? If he does, he will be launching the first contest between the most sophisticated warplanes ever devised for a test of superior might between the US and Russia and a war escalation unprecedented, even in Syria.

The very presence of the Su-57 across the border has had the instant effect of reducing the Israel air force’s freedom of action over Syria and Lebanon. The landing of the Russian Sukhoi-57 in Syria and its dire implications were first revealed in the latest DEBKA Weekly 790. To subscribe, click here.



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#MeToo in the Mosque - Giulio Meotti

by Giulio Meotti

Will Western advocates of women's rights also stand for the rights of Muslim women, or, in the name of "multiculturalism", the will they keep appeasing those who persecute them instead?

  • "While the brave Iranian women protested against hijab laws, Western feminists celebrated hijab". — Rita Panahi, Herald Sun, Australia.
  • Instead of a celebration of Islamist discrimination against women, the West should promote a #MeToo in the mosque, the idea of an Egyptian, Mona Eltahawi. She would like to raise the issue of rape and sexual abuse suffered by Muslim women during the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.
  • Will Western advocates of women's rights also stand for the rights of Muslim women, or, in the name of "multiculturalism", the will they keep appeasing those who persecute them instead?
While the march for women's rights in Washington this year took place under the banner of #MeToo against sexual harassment, in Iran dozens of women were taking to the streets to protest against theocracy and compulsory wearing of the hijab. The Iranian women waved white flags to fight against the mullahs' obligation to veil. But the white flag was not a surrender; it was apparently a symbol of Western feminists. As the Australian Rita Panahi wrote, "while the brave Iranian women protested against hijab laws, Western feminists celebrated hijab".

On February 1, many of these Iranian women were arrested for not wearing a hijab. On that very day, the World Hijab Day was celebrated in the West, and Western appeasers celebrated the veil. Even British PM Theresa May backed the claim that women should be "free" to wear hijab. A few days after that, the American department store Macy's decided to sell the hijab as an item of fashion clothing. Unfortunately, in some Islamic countries, women are not "free" to wear the veil; they are obliged to wear the veil, as the arrests in Iran show us.

Instead of a celebration of Islamist discrimination against women, the West should promote a #MeToo in the mosque -- the idea of an Egyptian, Mona Eltahawi. She would like to raise the issue of rape and sexual abuse suffered by Muslim women during the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Seyran Ates, a Turkish-German woman, recently opened in Berlin the first mosque where unveiled women and gays are welcome. Her decision was rather braver than a Twitter hashtag. Ates was immediately flooded with death threats, and had to be put under police protection.

In Berlin, Germany, the first mosque to welcome unveiled women and gays opened last year, co-founded by Turkish-German human-rights activist Seyran Ates. In contrast to traditional mosques, males and females worship together in the new mosque. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut recently called feminists "dishonest players" who will not admit to having won the game. In the West, the feminist adventure is, for the most part, over: women have conquered most of their rights and have earned respect.

Feminists would be wise now not to allow their battle to be turned into a grotesque caricature by banning "sexist" poems and art. This has already happened in a museum in Manchester and a school in Berlin. Western feminism, instead, could renew and ennoble itself by embracing the desperate fight of many Muslim women: Nigerian girls abducted by Boko Haram; Yazidi women sexually enslaved by ISIS; Indonesian women lashed for "adultery"; women captured and sold as slaves; girls subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM), girls married off while they are still children to men they do not even know; and girls in Iran now in prison -- and possibly tortured and raped -- for taking off their veils.

Take the three European countries hosting the largest Muslim communities: Britain, Germany and France. In Britain, a new case of female genital mutilation (FGM) is being either discovered or treated every hour, according to National Health Service statistics. In Germany, a nongovernmental organization, Terre des Femmes, has said that 13,000 underage girls living there are at risk of being forced to undergo this brutal disfigurement. A few days ago, reports surfaced that in the suburbs of Paris 30% of Muslim girls are threatened with it.

Will Western advocates of women's rights also stand for the rights of Muslim women, or, in the name of "multiculturalism", the will they keep appeasing those who persecute them instead?

For years, Western cultural relativists have denounced Judeo-Christian values for "repressing women", and "progressives" proclaimed a duty to be "open minded". That is why they fought for female bishops to be appointed to the Church of England and for "egalitarian" Jewish prayer services at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The paradox is that every time it comes to Islam, the same progressives lose their voice.

Western feminism needs to make a strategic choice. The West, which prides itself on being the world of "inclusivity" and "rights", really needs to decide if it stands with Muslim icons of Western elites such as Linda Sarsour, who wished Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a critic of Islam and a victim of genital mutilation, to have her vagina "taken away" (whatever that means), or join with the real reformers in Islam who are fighting to open their religion to kindness, tolerance, reason and modernity.

Fundamentalism or freedom: the choice is up to us.

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.


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Overpopulation in Israel. Really? - Leonie Ben-Simon

by Leonie Ben-Simon

At a recent demographic conference in Israel, experts expressed fears that there will soon be too many Jews in the Jewish state.

Last week a joint conference of the University of Maryland, Tel Aviv University and Zafuf, the Israel Forum for Population, Environment, and Society. took place in Tel Aviv. It was called “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Culture and Sustainable Population Dynamics.”

The conference was the first international gathering of academic experts to focus on the issue of overpopulation in Israel. Experts there claimed that Israel's rate of population growth is 'unsustainable' and that people must be encouraged to have smaller families - a radical change from the ongoing traditional Israeli policy of incentives for family growth in order to make the country strong and keep its majority Jewish. Just a few years ago, in fact, the big fear fostered by the left was that the Arab birth rate would cause the Israeli Arab population to outnumber the Jewish Israelis -  justifying their policy of giving parts of the country to the Palestinian Arabs for their own state.

Today, it seems, there are 40.000 Arab births to 100,000 Jewish births per year and the average Jewish Israeli family has 3.1 chldren per family while the rest of the Western world's families have 1.7. 

Predictions that Israel’s population is expected to reach twenty million by the end of 2065 may be correct.  But should we fear this as a disaster?  It all depends upon whether one believes there is such a thing as “overpopulation" when referring to Jews.  After the Holocaust, overpopulation seems a desirable wish. Can there be such a thing as overpopulation for the Jewish State? The first ones to claim that there are too many Jews around were Pharaoh and Haman, the most recent were Hitler and the Ayatollahs. 

Warnings of overpopulation are based on its impact upon the environment, infrastructure,crowded classrooms, overworked hospitals, poverty and labelling a high birth-rate as unsustainable are simply wrong. There are other root causes of these issues, problems that most societies face today. and they are solvable..

It is barely a hundred years ago that most families had six, eight or ten offspring.  In Western countries this has been truncated to a standard of two children or less.  During the past sixty or eighty years we have seen a collapse of family values, the prevalence of wholesale selfishness, a significant percentage of people who never marry, an even larger percentage of those divorcing - and all this along with a switch to worshipping the holy shekel or dollar at the expense of a family with many children.

Since when has the Jewish people had to play by the rules of other societies?  We believe that G-d provides.  It may be through having more gas or oil revenues than some of the Gulf States, it may be through sales of hi-tech or a totally new form of wealth – from crypto-currency to totally new inventions.

It is the Government’s responsibility to share that wealth among the people, not to let it escape offshore and to reward the high birth-rate as a national priority.

The nay-sayers who forecast that the world would run out of food many years ago were wrong the same as those forecasting that population growth is unsustainable. We have found new ways to grow food, to quadruple harvests, to have productive greenhouses in barren areas and even to plant vertical gardens against hi-rise buildings.  

Was it conceivable years ago that Israel would have desalination plants in a country that used to be barren?  What is missing in the calculations of the great experts who predict doom and gloom is faith:  faith in ourselves to find solutions and faith in G-d.

It is a tragedy that abortions are common.  It is a tragedy that families honestly believe that buying hundreds of toys and clothes with labels plus a dog are what children need.  What they really need are brothers and sisters, the warmth of a family to grow up with, to share life’s experiences with both when they are young and when they are older, to lean on each other and to love each other. They also need to share the responsibility of care of the elderly.  Friends and neighbours come and go, but families are the backbone of a society.

China is a good example of where things went wrong.  The one-child policy introduced in 1979 now being phased out has had disastrous consequences.  Not only is there a dearth of females for men to marry as males are preferred in their culture, but the growing elderly population is too large to be supported by the smaller numbers of workers. Side effects have included theft of female babies and children, elderly people with no support systems and children who have grown up being extremely self-centred.  

European countries dropped their birth-rates again and again, and now have their cultures being replaced by migrants with totally different values to their own, together a very high birth-rate.

Solutions to overcrowded classrooms are only now being tackled in Israel, primarily aimed at the periphery with internet lessons by one teacher being beamed to students in large numbers. Schools are not babysitters but places of learning. The issue of forty children in a class needs a different approach.  Technology can easily take the burden off individual teachers with the bulk of education being delivered differently.  There is a lot to learn from the chavruta method as well as used for older children in yeshivot.  The present model does not have to be the optimum one and should not be part of the discussion of what is falsely labelled “overpopulation.”

The Land of Israel is mostly empty.  Places that were deserts seventy years ago are now blooming. There are vast tracts of land available for building, maybe not in the middle of Tel Aviv but in much of the country. The problem of slowing down housing developments is not the fault of the population. The demand is there and can easily be met as it was when millions of olim arrived in the great aliyot of last century.  Apartment buildings were put up as the ships docked and the planes landed.  As for damaging existing biodiversity it is now the norm to plan new building developments with green spaces and national parks.

Many years ago the Jewish Agency had the population figures of Jews of the World.  They drew a line through the figure for Russia, believing that within a few years those Jews would all assimilate and be lost.  They could not have been more wrong, with over a million Russian Jews suddenly arriving.  Israel has to expect influxes of Jews at all times, whether it be from Turkey or Ukraine today or the United States tomorrow. Jews have no guarantees of living safely anywhere except in Israel.

To say that it is unpatriotic to have many children does seem to be no more than a joke.  How can a tiny Israel surrounded by Arab countries with hundreds of millions with a phenomenal birth-rate even think of reducing its population?  This agenda runs contrary to the strategic understanding of a strong country, a country with a high percentage of youth under the age of fifteen underpinning the older population who in a few years will need their support.

The criticism of the high birth-rate in the Haredi sector must be examined in the light of the possibility that they will reach a significant proportion of the population in a few short years and that they will not have the same values as the secular community. This has been the actual policy of the administration since the days of Ben Gurion when socialism and modernism tried to overrule the traditional Jewish way of life and made it very difficult for traditional Jews to take part in power politics. It is no wonder that the secular decision-makers are aghast at the growing power of haredim and the wholesale demographic changes.

It is no accident that the birth-rate in Tel Aviv is lower than that of Beersheva, Ashdod or Kiryat Gat, not to mention Yehuda and Shomron.  

The poverty in haredi families can be improved. Affirmative action to include haredim in government jobs is just a beginning. Encouraging inclusion of maths and English studies in yeshivot to enable access to well-paid jobs is the next step. Poverty is not a problem that cannot be solved, but it will need cooperation and in particular respect.  

The threat of a dissolution of society is punctuated with pointing out the day-to-day difficulties of driving a car in overcrowded roads, the bane of many.  Is it too futuristic to believe that cars can be replaced by a totally different type of transport, possibly above ground?  Is it realistic to believe that everyone commuting to work may not necessary be doing so in fifty years?  The numbers of online businesspeople in the world who work from home offices are only the beginning of this trend.  Patterning our future developments on the new cities being developed in China can be one way that we can find other ways of transporting people and living our lives.  

Unfortunately, many of our experts have drawn conclusions and given opinions that are irrelevant for Israel.  The aim of the Government should be to use lateral solutions to address issues that have nothing to do with the birth-rate and to create wealth so that all citizens of Israel can live comfortably.  

Leonie Ben-Simon is a freelance journalist with an MBA from Monash University, Victoria Australia.


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U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem to open in May - Elad Benari

by Elad Benari

State Department confirms opening of embassy in Jerusalem will coincide with Israel’s 70th Independence Day.

Current location of the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv
Current location of the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv
Flash 90
The State Department confirmed on Friday that the United States will open a new embassy in Jerusalem in May to coincide with Israel’s 70th Independence Day.

The embassy will be in located in the building that houses the consular operation in Jerusalem before moving to a separate annex by the end of 2019, the State Department said, according to Reuters.

The announcement confirms earlier statements by officials in the Trump administration regarding the embassy.

A senior State Department official had said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had approved a security plan late Thursday for an embassy location to open in Jerusalem.

The embassy would be in an annex of an existing U.S. facility in the neighborhood of Arnona.

The official told Fox News that the hope is for the U.S. to develop only a “footprint” there in May, with a target of a fuller complement and facility by the end of 2019.

Administration officials said that Congress would be notified of the May move on Friday.
Moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was a central campaign promise of President Donald Trump’s. In December, he announced that he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the State Department to begin preparations for the embassy move.

Friday’s news is in line with a recent report which indicated the move to Jerusalem is indeed expected by 2019, with the plan being to convert an existing consular building in Arnona, a neighborhood in western Jerusalem.

Earlier this month, the State Department said it was prioritizing funding for a facility for the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget proposal

A State Department official told Fox News on Friday that Tillerson stressed that the State Department would do nothing to compromise the safety of those who work and visit the embassy.

The May opening of the new embassy is ahead of schedule, as Vice President Pence said that it would open by the end of 2019, and Tillerson initially suggested it could take years.

The first “footprint” of the embassy will consist of just a few offices inside an existing U.S. facility in Jerusalem.

Elad Benari


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The Trump Factor and the Pashtuns - Richard L. Benkin

by Richard L. Benkin

President Trump's reinvigorated foreign policy has inspired the Pashtuns and other oppressed peoples in Pakistan.

On February 6, 2018, the New York Times published a piece about social unrest by Pashtuns in Pakistan. It gave some background on how the Pakistanis have been perpetrating human rights abuses against the Pashtuns for decades. Of course, it also missed completely the big story for Americans: the protesters, their leaders, and many of the minority populations there have been inspired by President Donald Trump and his new, tough policy toward Pakistan and his support for human rights in the area.

This is in line with the Times' and the rest of the mainstream media's anti-Trump bias – a bias they seem quite comfortable with in coloring the prism through which their readers get the news.

Roohul Amin is a Pashtun activist who had to flee Pakistan after being attacked by the military and Taliban, leaving his wife and children behind. He currently lives in Germany, where his asylum request could be ruled on as soon as next month. I was able to talk with him about the Pashtun, and while no one is saying the Pashtun are rebelling because of President Trump, most Pashtun you talk to will tell you he has inspired them and gives them hope that the United States will support their aspirations. They believe that recent statements and actions by the president represent a clear departure from former president Barack Obama's foreign policy. It is interesting that as I speak with these people and many more Asians, it is they who are ecstatic about the United States resuming its leadership role on the world scene – more so than many Americans, including, it appears, the editors of the New York Times.
Amin, along with others, said Trump's strong words calling out Pakistani complicity in Islamist terror galvanized Baloch, Pashtun, and Sindhi in their struggles against their Pakistani. His statements led to an avalanche of tweets praising him. This one from Zar Ali Khan Afridi was typical: "We support His Excellency! President Trump. Very bold man. Long live." Trump's positive impact on our respect and international reputation caused at least one village to praise him and pray for his long life. Trump resonates on an official level, too. Former Afghan president (and Pashtun) Hamid Karzai said: "I welcome today's clarity in President Trump's remarks and propose a joint U.S.-regional coalition to pressurize [sic] the Pakistan military establishment to bring peace to ... the entire region."

It also is leading to grassroots action where Muslims are battling the Taliban. I have been involved in South Asia for over a decade and believe that it will be where we fight the most critical battles for our planet's soul. Pro-democratic forces in the region have faced violence at the hands of the Pakistani military and intelligence services for decades. According to Amin and other Pashtuns and Sindhis I've interviewed, they now feel they have an ally in President Trump and the United States, after previously considering us part of the problem due to our decades-long support for Pakistan.

In the last few days, Pashtun have been protesting publicly and in large numbers against the actions of Pakistan's military and spy agency. Standing up to the Pakistani government can mean a summary death sentence for the individual doing so and perhaps even his family. Yet, thousands have felt emboldened to take that risk. In part, it was finally too much to bear. In part, it was an expectation that they would find support, perhaps even from the world's strongest nation and Pakistan's former bankroller.

The implications of this could not be greater – and could justify President Trump's more aggressive foreign policy that looks for ways to further both U.S. interests and those of the peoples with whom we team. It also marks a watershed departure from the Obama foreign policy that was so roundly condemned by American allies and potential allies worldwide. Not only is Pakistan supporting the terrorists killing American and Afghan troops by allowing them safe haven, something a free Pashtun people say they will stop, but Pakistan also is engaged in an extensive project with China – the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor or CPEC – that would be ruinous to American and Western interests in the region if unopposed.

How much would an emboldened Pashtun populace force Pakistan to shift its resources and concentration away from these anti-American activities? How much more would they be forced to do so if a successful Pashtun emboldened Baloch, Sindhi, Kashmiris, and other nationalities that have been complaining of Pakistani oppression for decades? And all of it without putting a single American in harm's way.

Richard L. Benkin


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Does Jihad Really Have "Nothing to do with Islam"? - Denis MacEoin

by Denis MacEoin

At the heart of the problem lies the fantasy that Islam must be very similar to other religions, particularly Judaism and Christianity, out of which it was, in fact derived.

  • "National Security officials are prohibited from developing a factual understanding of Islamic threat doctrines, preferring instead to depend upon 5th column Muslim Brotherhood cultural advisors." — Richard Higgins, NSC official.
  • At the heart of the problem lies the fantasy that Islam must be very similar to other religions, particularly Judaism and Christianity, out of which it was, in fact derived.
  • The use of force, mainly through jihad, is a basic doctrine in the Qur'an, the Prophetic sayings (ahadith), and in all manuals of Islamic law. It is on these sources that fighters from Islamic State, al-Qa'ida, al-Shabaab, and hundreds of other groupings base their preaching and their actions. To say that such people have "nothing to do with Islam" could not be more wrong.
Recently, US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster once again downplayed the significance of faith by claiming that Islamic ideology is "irreligious"; meanwhile, up to 1.5 billion Muslims continue claiming, as they have done for 1400 years, that it is.

As Stephen Coughlin, an expert on Islam, told Gatestone, "It is the believers who define their religion, not the non-believers. If someone says his religion is that the moon is made of green cheese, that has to be your starting point."

On February 20, 2017, President Trump appointed McMaster, a serving Lieutenant General of the US Army, to the important position of National Security Advisor, after the forced resignation of Michael T. Flynn. McMaster came to the post with a reputation for stability, battlefield experience, and intelligence. According to the Los Angeles Times:
"It is not an overstatement to say that Americans and the world should feel a little safer today," tweeted Andrew Exum, an author and academic who saw combat in Afghanistan and writes widely about military affairs."
After the controversies surrounding McMaster's predecessor in office, McMaster came as a safe hand.

It was not long before divisions opened up within the NSC, however, with quarrels, firings, and appeals to the president. Many controversies remain today. By July, it was reported that Trump was planning to fire McMaster and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. By August, however, McMaster's position seemed secure.

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

It is not the purpose of this article to discuss issues McMaster's spell at the NSC has brought to light, except for one: McMaster's position on Islam and terrorism. It became a cause for contention early in McMaster's incumbency and continues to engender divisions, not just among NSC staff, but also with the president. The general's viewpoint, which he has often expressed, is that international terrorism has nothing to do with the religion of Islam, a notion he seems to believe to the point where he has banned the use of the term "radical Islamic terrorism" -- a term that Trump uses often.

In an all-hands meeting of the NSC on February 23, 2017, three days after his appointment as NSC Director, McMaster said jihadist terrorists are not true to their professed religion and that the use of the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" does not help the US in working with allies to defeat terrorist groups:
"The phrase is unhelpful because terrorist organizations like ISIS represent a perversion of Islam, and are thus un-Islamic, McMaster said, according to a source who attended the meeting."
More recently, on December 3, in an interview with Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace, McMaster stated that "we make sure we never buy into or reinforce the terrorist narrative, this false narrative that this is a war of religion". He followed this by elaborating on the criminality and supposed secularism of Muslim terrorists:
"Those who adhere to this ideology are really irreligious criminals who use a perverted, what the President has called a wicked interpretation of religion, in an effort to recruit young, impressionable people to their cause, to foment hatred".
In taking that stance, McMaster has broken with many members of his own staff, several of whom he was later to fire, and with the Trump administration itself. This desire to deny a connection between Islam and terrorism or to distinguish between a "pure" Islamic religion and "perversions" of it had been for many years a characteristic of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, as well as Hillary Clinton's tweets, when "this has nothing to do with Islam" was an oft-repeated refrain.

One of the people whom McMaster fired is Richard Higgins, a top NSC official who had written a memoir in which he warned of the dangers of radical Islam and its alliance with the far Left. In a lengthy document, Higgins wrote:
Globalists and Islamists recognize that for their visions to succeed, America, both as an ideal and as a national and political identity, must be destroyed...Islamists ally with cultural Marxists...[but] Islamists will co-opt the movement in its entirety...
Because the left is aligned with Islamist organizations at local, national, and international levels, recognition should be given to the fact that they seamlessly interoperate through coordinated synchronized interactive narratives...
These attack narratives are pervasive, full spectrum, and institutionalized at all levels. They operate in social media, television, the 24-hour news cycle in all media and are entrenched at the upper levels of the bureaucracies.
Clearly, Higgins did not mince his words, yet what he wrote seems entirely appropriate for the NSC, a body charged with the protection of the United States from radicalism of all kinds. According to Meira Svirsky, writing for the Clarion Project
Lamenting the lack of education given to government officials about radical Islam, Higgins previously wrote, "National Security officials are prohibited from developing a factual understanding of Islamic threat doctrines, preferring instead to depend upon 5th column Muslim Brotherhood cultural advisors." [1]
Higgins's stress on the lack of education about Islam is a vital recognition that something has been going wrong for years when it comes to American and European official responses to the religion and its followers. Rightly cautious about genuine Islamophobia, the growth of hate speech and intercommunal strife, governments and their agencies have adopted policies and measures to preserve calm even in the face of growing levels of terrorism by Muslims. Europeans in Paris, Barcelona, Manchester, London, Brussels, Berlin and Nice, to name just a few places, are at the forefront of attacks inspired by Islamic State, al-Qa'ida and other radical groups. But the US has suffered the heaviest casualties, with thousands slaughtered in the 9/11 attacks.

In the face of a renascent and at times violent Islam, politicians have adopted the policy of denying any connection between terrorist events and Islam. Many religious leaders have done the same. McMaster has adopted this policy, keeping him in line with established approaches:
"HR McMaster, a respected army lieutenant general, struck notes more consistent with traditional counterterrorism analysts and espoused consensus foreign-policy views during a meeting he held with his new National Security Council staff on Thursday".
According to Svirsky:
McMaster believes the "Islamic State is not Islamic," going so far as to describe jihadists as "really irreligious organizations." As did former president Obama, he opposes use of any language that connects Islam to terrorism.
McMaster also rejects the notion that jihadists are motivated by religious ideology. Instead, he says they are motivated by "fear," a "sense of honor" and their "interests," which he describes as the roots of human conflict for thousands of years. He believes U.S. policy must be based on "understanding those human dimensions."
There may be signs that McMaster, though he still has some way to go, at least recognizes that some deeply religious Islamic organizations are a threat to the West. Writing on December 13, Meira Svirsky cites a speech McMaster gave at Policy Exchange in Washington:
"Declaring the ideology of radical Islam an obvious and 'grave threat to all civilized people,' U.S. National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster singled out the Muslim Brotherhood and its brand of political Islam as a specific threat".
In that speech, the general spoke of Turkey and Egypt as two major sources of support for the Brotherhood, including its Palestinian branch, Hamas. He clearly sees the threat, but does not, as yet, fully understand the meaning of its religious dimension (however much other factors play a role in terrorism).

I have no wish to be disrespectful towards McMaster, who carries out a vital task in securing the lives and property of so many Americans, but I fear his statements show that he has little or no knowledge of Islam, its teachings, or its history. Either that or he has invented a form of Islam that bears no resemblance to the religion that many of us have spent most of our lives studying. Not implausibly, he has given ears to advisors, possibly including Muslims, who have sought to play down any possible link between violence and the Muslim faith.

This willingness, even eagerness, to misrepresent Islam plays directly into the hands of anti-Western Muslims, radicals who anticipate the coming of an apocalyptic global Caliphate. In a recent article, Professor Richard Landes of Boston University lists the many ways in which this is done:
Only the most fervent of true believers could think that, even with Allah's help, the global Caliphate was possible. In order to succeed, da'wa [outreach; proselytizing] Caliphaters needed the assistance of the targeted kuffar population to:
  • Disguise their ambition to subject the kuffar, by downplaying jihadi acts of war and their deployment among the targeted population.
  • Insist that "except for a tiny minority," the "vast majority" of Muslims are moderate and peaceful, and Islam is a "Religion of Peace" that has nothing to do with the violence of jihadists.
  • Accept those who fight for the Caliphate with da'wa as "moderates" who have "nothing to do" with "violent extremists."
  • Engage these "moderate" Caliphaters as advisors and consultants in intelligence and police work, as prison chaplains, community liaisons, college teachers, and administrators.
  • Present Caliphater war propaganda as reliable information, as news.
  • Attack those who criticize Islam (including Muslims) as xenophobic and racist Islamophobes.
  • Adopt the Caliphater's apocalyptic enemy as their own, so that the kuffar join in an attack on one of their key allies.
  • Legitimate jihadi terrorism as "resistance" and denounce any recourse to violence in their own defense as "terrorism."
  • Respect the dignity of Muslim beliefs even as Muslims heap disdain on their beliefs.
  • Take seriously Caliphater invocations of human rights when, in reality, they despise those rights for women, slaves, and infidels.
  • Welcome an angry "Muslim Street" in the heart of their capital cities.
At the heart of the problem lies the fantasy that Islam must be very similar to other religions, particularly Judaism and Christianity, out of which it was, in fact derived. This would mean that Islam consists only of doctrines about a single God, heaven and hell, sin and punishment, spiritual endeavor, together with practices such as prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, and alms-giving. There would be nothing to concern us were that the case, and certainly no reason to connect the faith with a few supposedly fanatical people who have misguidedly distorted it and turned to violence.

But that would be to ignore the totality of Islam. Apart from 12 years at the start of Muhammad's mission, Islam has encompassed far more than worship and moral behavior. From the moment Muhammad led his followers from Mecca to Medina in the year 622, his religion became a system of government, of law, and of war. Several battles were fought with his Meccan opponents; the Jews of Medina were either driven out by force or executed and enslaved, and Muhammad returned to Mecca as its conqueror. On his death, his first successor embarked on a two-year war to bring recalcitrant tribes back within the fold, sent out armies to the north and, in just a few years, began the wave of invasions that made Muslims victorious across most of the known world. Of the first four "rightly-guided" caliphs, one was assassinated by an Iranian captive and the other two by other Muslims. Muhammad's grandson, Husayn, was killed with his family in Karbala in 680 by the second of the Umayyad caliphs, before further internal wars. Jihadi wars continued, year in and year out, after that; they are still invoked by modern terrorists. Islam has never been at peace with the non-Muslim world.

The use of force, mainly through jihad, is a basic doctrine in the Qur'an, the prophetic sayings (ahadith), and in all manuals of Islamic law. (For examples, see here, here, here and here.)

If jihad were permitted only in self-defence, then excuses implying aggression, as we have seen, would need to be readily available to justify attacks. As the Washington Post wrote a fortnight after the attack on the United States on 9/11/2001:
At the heart of the bin Laden opus are two declarations of holy war -- jihad -- against America. The first, issued in 1996, was directed specifically at "Americans occupying the land of the two holy places," as bin Laden refers to his native Saudi Arabia, where 5,000 U.S. troops have been stationed since the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The two holy places are Muslim shrines at Mecca and Medina.
In 1998, he broadened the edict to include the killing of "Americans and their allies, civilians and military . . . in any country in which it is possible to do it."
It is on such Islamic sources that fighters from Islamic State, al-Qa'ida, al-Shabaab, and hundreds of other groupings base their preaching and their actions. To say that such people have "nothing to do with Islam" could not be more wrong.

It is not only wrong, it is demeaning to the many ex-Muslims such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Ibn Warraq and reformist Muslims who are fully aware of the connection, but are often apparently considered delusional or even fanatical. Last year saw the publication of Ibn Warraq's detailed study, The Islam in Islamic Terrorism: The Importance of Beliefs, Ideas, and Ideology, which takes the reader through all the violent or violence-promoting individuals and groups in Islamic history, with discursions on the thinking behind them. With few exceptions, these individuals and groups are far from minor or obscure.

In chapter one of his book, Ibn Warraq examines what he calls the "Root Cause Fallacy", whereby politicians, security advisers, and others deflect attention from religion as a motivator for terrorism. He shows that most radicals and terrorists are not primarily inspired or justified by poverty, lack of knowledge of Islam, lack of education, the Arab-Israeli conflict, Palestine, anti-Semitism, U.S. Foreign policy, Western Imperialism, or revenge for the Crusades. He refers (p. 31) to David Wurmser of the American Enterprise Institute and his view that:
"Westerners attribute too many of the Arab world's problems 'to specific material issues' such as land and wealth. This usually means a tendency 'to belittle belief and strict adherence to principle as genuine and dismiss it as a cynical exploitation of the masses by politicians. As such, Western observers see material issues and leaders, not the spiritual state of the Arab world, as the heart of the problem'".
Overall, Ibn Warraq draws on an extensive body of scholarship, mainly from leading Western scholars of Islam and authoritative sources such as The Encyclopedia of Islam. McMaster and others, who repeat the mantra that Islamic terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, are hardly in a position to override comment by individuals who have spent a lifetime deeply involved in the study of Islam through its original sources.

Ibn Warraq, moreover, cites (pp. 139-140) several Western and Muslim scholars who have said repeatedly that the idea that the "true jihad is a spiritual struggle" is completely unauthentic. It is arguments based on a reading of texts in Arabic, Persian, Urdu and other languages that deserve to be treated as the basis for policy-making, identifying which people may be potential terrorists, or evaluating the true intentions of US-based Muslim associations such as CAIR or ISNA.

Clare Lopez, vice president of research and analysis at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, has commented on the broad lack of knowledge about Islam and how it has distorted thinking within national bodies. Beginning with criticism of McMaster, she raises broader issues:
McMaster is just wrong for NSC on so many counts. I think at least in part because, like others across national security at his level, who made rank in years post-9/11, he was systematically denied fact-based training about Islam, jihad, Shariah and the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] – whose affiliates, associates, operatives, fellow travelers and useful fools remain embedded within and close to the federal government and local law enforcement at various levels.
Now, of course, anyone who's ever taken the oath to the Constitution has an affirmative obligation to know the enemy and that McMaster did not do this is his responsibility alone.
Those who got promoted within the military-security establishment over the past eight years got there precisely because of a "willful blindness about Islam".
The problem for the United States government, Congress, Senate -- and many important agencies which find themselves called on to discuss, monitor, report on, or make policies about Islam, American Muslims, Muslims worldwide, and more -- is knowing where to look for accurate and authentic information. In the past, all of these have depended on Muslim academics, uncritical and cosmetic non-Muslim professors and commentators such as John Esposito, Karen Armstrong and the many teachers identified by Campus Watch; numerous university and college Islamicists with vested interests in posts funded by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other Muslim states (see here); self-appointed Islamic authorities such as CAIR, and amateurs within US institutions.

Criticism of Islam has become taboo and has been denounced as a right-wing or even far-right prejudice. The present writer, however, a political centrist, sees nothing wrong in bringing reasoned and fact-based criticism to bear on Islam, just as one would to every other ideology, from Marxism to Fascism. One can also appreciate the stunning contributions Muslims have made to science, art, architecture, calligraphy, music, and the spiritual endeavors of Sufis and Shi'i mystical philosophers. It is important for everyone to step back and bring accuracy and balance to the way we regard a large and expanding religion.

[1] There is evidence that the international Muslim Brotherhood is working for influence in US politics and that it has already placed people within several US bodies. See here.

Denis MacEoin has an MA in Persian, Arabic and Islamic History from Edinburgh University and a PhD (1979) in an aspect of Shi'i Islam in 19th-century Iran. He taught Arabic and Islamic Studies in the Religious Studies Department of Newcastle University and has published many books and articles on Islamic topics.


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