Saturday, January 26, 2019

France and Germany: "We Are Committed to the Emergence of a European Army" - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

The continental showdown, which threatens to split the European Union down the middle between Eurosceptic nationalists and Europhile globalists, will heat up in coming weeks, ahead of elections for the European Parliament in late May 2019.

  • "Populism and nationalism are increasing in all our countries. For the first time, a country — Great Britain — is leaving the European Union. Worldwide, multilateralism is under pressure...." – German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
  • "Converging this much with Germany is an abandonment of sovereignty — a betrayal. If we had not alerted the public, this text would have been signed on the sly. The text provides in particular for the need to legislate in the event of obstacles to Franco-German cooperation.... I do not want more convergence with Berlin, be it in social or security matters, or in closer consultation in the UN Security Council." – Marine Le Pen, Le Temps.
  • "Emmanuel Macron is calling for a grand debate to involve citizens in the public life of our country. At the same time, however, the President of the Republic negotiated a treaty on the sly even though it concerns conditions essential to the exercise of our national sovereignty. Neither the French people, nor the Parliament, nor the Constitutional Council were consulted... For many reasons, this treaty undermines our national sovereignty." – Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, leader of the party Debout La France! (Stand Up, France!).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently said that a new pact between German and France aims to build a Franco-German "common military culture" and "contribute to the creation of a European army." Pictured: Soldiers of the Franco-German brigade, a military unit founded in 1989, jointly consisting of units from the French Army and German Army. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have signed a new Franco-German friendship treaty aimed at reinvigorating the European Union, which has been buffeted by the European debt crisis, mass migration and Brexit — as well as innumerable conflicting interests and priorities among its 28 member states.

France and Germany, the self-appointed guardians of European integration, have said that the new treaty is a response to the growing influence of populists in Austria, Britain, France, Italy, Hungary, Poland and other European countries who are seeking to slow, and even reverse, European integration by recouping national sovereignty from the European Union and transferring those powers back to national capitals.

The continental showdown, which threatens to split the European Union down the middle between Eurosceptic nationalists and Europhile globalists, will heat up in coming weeks, ahead of elections for the European Parliament in late May 2019.

The "Aachen Treaty" [Traité d'Aix-la-Chapelle; Vertrag von Aachen], signed on January 22 in the German city of Aachen, consists of 28 articles organized into seven chapters; both states commit to closer cooperation in a series of policy areas. The first eight articles, which encompass bilateral foreign and defense policy as well as the European Union, are the most ambitious and consequential items in the treaty:
  • Article 1 commits both states to deepen their cooperation on European policy by "promoting an effective and strong common foreign and security policy and strengthening and deepening Economic and Monetary Union."
  • Article 2 commits both states to "consult each other regularly at all levels before the major European deadlines, seeking to establish common positions and to agree coordinated speeches by their ministers. They will coordinate on the transposition of European law into their national law."
  • Article 3 commits both states to "deepen their cooperation on foreign policy, defense, external and internal security and development while striving to strengthen Europe's autonomous capacity for action." The two states also pledge to "consult each other in order to define common positions on any important decision affecting their common interests and to act jointly in all cases where this is possible."
  • Article 4 commits both states to "increasingly converge their objectives and policies on security and defense.... They lend themselves to mutual assistance by all means at their disposal, including armed forces, in case of armed aggression against their territories." They also "commit themselves to strengthening Europe's capacity for action and to jointly invest to fill its capacity gaps, thus strengthening the European Union and the North Atlantic Alliance." They "intend to promote the competitiveness and consolidation of the European defense industrial and technological base...they support the closest possible cooperation between their defense industries on the basis of mutual trust...both states will develop a common approach to arms exports with regard to joint projects. The two states will "establish the Franco-German Defense and Security Council as the political body to manage these reciprocal commitments. This Council will meet at the highest level at regular intervals."
  • Article 5 commits both states to "extend cooperation between their foreign affairs ministries, including their diplomatic and consular missions" and coordinate action at the United Nations and NATO.
  • Article 6 commits both states to "further strengthen their bilateral cooperation in the fight against terrorism and organized crime, as well as their cooperation in the judiciary and in intelligence and police matters."
  • Article 7 commits both states to "establish an ever-closer partnership between Europe and Africa...with the aim of improving socio-economic prospects, sustainability, good governance and conflict prevention, crisis resolution, especially in the context of peacekeeping, and the management of post-conflict situations."
  • Article 8 commits both states to "cooperate closely in all organs of the United Nations." They will "closely coordinate their positions, as part of a wider effort of consultation among the EU member states sitting on the UN Security Council and in accordance with the positions and interests of the European Union." They will "do their utmost to achieve a unified position of the European Union in the appropriate organs of the United Nations." The two states also "undertake to continue their efforts to reform the United Nations Security Council." The admission of Germany as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council "is a priority of Franco-German diplomacy."
The remainder of the treaty pledges closer bilateral cooperation in the areas of artificial intelligence, climate change, cross-border issues, culture, economic affairs, education, energy, environment, health and sustainable development, among other issues.

Merkel, speaking in Aachen, noted that the city was home to Charlemagne (742-814), whom she described as "the father of Europe." She said that the new pact aims to build a Franco-German "common military culture" and "contribute to the creation of a European army." She added:
"Populism and nationalism are increasing in all our countries. For the first time, a country — Great Britain — is leaving the European Union. Worldwide, multilateralism is under pressure, be it in climate cooperation, in world trade, in the acceptance of international institutions or even in the United Nations. Seventy-four years — within one lifetime —after the end of the Second World War, what was seemingly self-evident is again being questioned.
"Therefore, first of all, this situation requires a new founding of our responsibility within the European Union — the responsibility of Germany and France in this European Union. Secondly, it requires a redefinition of the direction of our cooperation. Thirdly, it requires a common understanding of our international role, which can lead to joint action. For this reason, there is, fourthly, a need for shared similarities between our two peoples — in institutions, but above all in the daily living together of our peoples; and especially in the area close to the border....
"We are committed to developing a common military culture, a common defense industry and a common line on arms exports. We want to make our contribution to the emergence of a European army."
Macron, also speaking in Aachen, added: "At a time when Europe is threatened by nationalism, which is growing from within, Germany and France must assume their responsibility and show the way forward." He said that the agreement is an "important moment" for showing that the bilateral relationship was "a bedrock which can relaunch itself... in the service of reinforcing the European project." Macron defended the European Union as a "shield against tumults of the world."

The treaty, however, is short on details and may end up being more symbolic than substantive. Merkel and Macron are both facing waning authority and it remains unclear whether they will have the necessary political capital to jump-start European integration. Germany is now looking toward the post-Merkel era, after she announced that she would step down as chancellor in 2021. Macron is grappling with a nationwide wave of anti-government protests that may yet bring down his government.

The treaty has been met with a mixture of anger and indifference.

In France, Marine Le Pen, leader of the populist party National Rally (formerly the National Front), said that the treaty undermines national sovereignty and accused Macron of "selling off" France to the Germans. In an interview with the Geneva-based newspaper Le Temps, she said:
"Converging this much with Germany is an abandonment of sovereignty — a betrayal. If we had not alerted the public, this text would have been signed on the sly. The text provides in particular for the need to legislate in the event of obstacles to Franco-German cooperation. The French nation is one and indivisible and the law cannot be applied differently for the border regions with Germany. There is the letter of this treaty, but also the spirit. I do not want more convergence with Berlin, be it social or security matters, or in closer consultation in the UN Security Council. The permanent seat of France was hard-won during the Second World War and made France a major power. To call it into question would be to defeat what General de Gaulle did."
Nicolas Dupont-Aignan, leader of the sovereigntist party Debout La France! (Stand Up, France!), said:
"In no case should this Franco-German friendship treaty be a pretext for submission. Yet this appears to be the case.
"First, the method of the treaty. Faced with the democratic crisis that our country is going through, Emmanuel Macron is calling for a grand debate to involve citizens in the public life of our country. At the same time, however, the President of the Republic negotiated a treaty on the sly, even though it concerns conditions essential to the exercise of our national sovereignty. Neither the French people, nor the Parliament, nor the Constitutional Council were consulted.
"Second, the content of the treaty. In concrete terms, many stipulations of the treaty aim to share with Germany the sovereign powers and prerogatives of France. Indeed, if mutual defense is integrated into the treaty, France offers Germany the benefits of its military assets, which are envied around the world: (the world's fifth-largest military power, nuclear deterrence, etc.) (Article 4). France offers Germany access to its diplomatic network, the third-largest in the world after the United States and China (Article 5). France offers Germany indirect access to its permanent seat on the UN Security Council by coordinating their positions and coordinating their decisions (Article 8). France wants to give Germany a permanent seat on the UN Security Council by making this objective a diplomatic 'priority' (Article 8). For many reasons, this treaty undermines our national sovereignty.
"Finally, the lack of reciprocity. While Germany is taking advantage of France's strengths as a world power in diplomacy and defense, Germany offers no real counterpart. This is why the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle is not an act of Franco-German cooperation, but of submission of France to Germany.
"In reality, this one-sided treaty is an insult to the friendly relationship that France should maintain with Germany. In view of the concessions made by France to Germany, without compensation, the text signed today in Aix-la-Chapelle constitutes a true act of treason."
In Germany, Alexander Gauland and Alice Weidel, leaders of the populist party Alternative for Germany (AfD), issued a statement:
"The Aachen Treaty is a step in the wrong direction. Under the guise of European cooperation, the treaty is the result of the French interest of transferring and redistributing German power, to the detriment of the German taxpayers. It would also create a Franco-German special relationship that would alienate Germany from other European nations.
"AfD federal spokesman Alexander Gauland explains: French President Macron is unable to maintain order in his own country. The nationwide protests in France are never-ending. This failing president is imposing visions for the future of Germany. The EU is now deeply divided. A German-French special relationship will alienate us even further from other Europeans. This torpedoes exactly those European thoughts that Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Macron summon so intimately. They seem to suspect that this EU will disintegrate in the current form.
"Leader of the AfD in the German Bundestag, Dr. Alice Weidel, adds: This treaty is a unacceptable submission of an elected chancellor to a troubled president. Macron gets what he wants: Germany is committed, in the first article, to strengthen and deepen the Economic and Monetary Union, in other words, to complete the transfer and redistribution of wealth.
"Macron promises better and faster access to German taxpayer money in order to be able to continue the French inflationary policy and to fund his election promises. He has already laid out concrete plans for this and has received plenty of applause from established German parties.
"France should also be the main beneficiary in the planned intensified cooperation of the armed forces for the purpose of joint operations and in the consolidation of the European defense industry, which is also envisaged in the treaty. Article 4 of the treaty opens the door to new questionable foreign deployments in Africa and the further sell-off of German technology under the umbrella of French-dominated joint ventures.
"These policy points of French interests are embodied in the pathetic affirmation of obviousness and a plethora of symbolic measures and well-intentioned declarations of intent. Where this treaty, beyond general Europeanness, should also serve German interests, remains a mystery. This agreement furthers the breach with those EU member states that do not want a Franco-German 'European Superstate.' The Aachen Treaty is therefore not only superfluous, but counterproductive.'"

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.


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“White Skin Privilege” – a Racist Idea - David Horowitz

by David Horowitz

We are facing a totalitarian threat in the Democratic Party.

The hottest political fad in America today is “Get Whitey.” Across the country re-education sessions are routinely held in businesses, professional offices, medical schools, universities and even kindergartens, whose purpose is to teach the “un-woke” about the evils of “white privilege,” and make the whites who participate uncomfortable about their skin color. The bottom line in these sessions: Whites need to own up to the fact that regardless of their intentions, beliefs, behaviors or status in life, they are elite participants in a racist system that oppresses “people of color,” and are so merely because they are white. But discrimination on the basis of skin color has been outlawed in this country for more than 60 years. Therefore one might reasonably ask, “WTF is white skin privilege”?

Here’s my politically incorrect answer: White skin privilege is the gift of being the only racial/ethnic group on the planet which it is okay to single out for abuse. Indeed, handing out such abuse is obligatory for all who regard themselves as “woke,” and aspire to create a brave new world of “social justice.” This is a category that includes the media, the popular culture, the educational system and such racist shapers of public opinion as Don Lemon, Joy Ann Reid, Joy Behar, Brian Stetler, Rachel Maddow, the editorial boards and reporters of the NY Times and the Washington Post, and their clones, and the Democratic Party.

 “White privilege is the privilege of being regarded as untrustworthy, prejudiced, and blind to the injustices one’s whiteness allegedly inflicts. White privilege is the privilege of being damned for alleged crimes like “Stop and Frisk” laws, and also the often imaginary crimes of one’s often alleged ancestors. Thus it is fashionable in today’s politically correct culture to seek reparations for slavery from Americans whose ancestors never owned slaves, were not even in the country at the time, and were oppressed themselves in ethnic and religious ghettos across the globe. Reparations for slavery are also sought from the descendants of Union soldiers who gave their lives to abolish slavery. Facts are irrelevant. It’s all about skin color.

Thus white skin privilege is the privilege of being held responsible for slavery when white America accounted for less than 1% of the African slave trade globally, which was mainly run by “people of color,” while white America led the world in abolishing slavery, an institution which still exists in non-white Africa today.

White skin privilege is the privilege of being scapegoated for every failure of “people of color” who are unable to take advantage of the opportunities America affords to all races, and in particular to the majority of African Americans who have successfully made it to the middle class.

 Our country is now facing a national political crisis over borders because of the poverty and oppression caused by the corrupt politics and leftist economies of Central and South America, which have prompted their citizens to break into our country illegally. Conditions in the resource-rich southern hemisphere are so bad that 20 million of its residents have already broken the law to violate our sovereignty, bankrupt our social services and educational systems and fill our jails. According to the left, to seek a wall to stem this flood is white racism - or, as top Democratic strategist put it recently, “Building a wall says, “If you’re brown turn around.” Such twisted logic would also provide an excuse to open our borders to the world’s Islamic terrorists who are also brown, and have killed hundreds of thousands of mainly brown victims since 9/11.

Here is how the social justice website,, which is run by the Southern Poverty Law Center, explains the invisible powers of “white privilege” to its target audience of K-12 teachers: “It seems logical that a person should have the chance to prove themselves individually before they are judged. It’s supposedly an American ideal. But it’s a privilege often not granted to people of color—with dire consequences. For example, programs like New York City’s now-abandoned ‘Stop and Frisk’ policy target a disproportionate number of black and Latinx [sic] people.”

Stop and Frisk was originally a New York law enforcement policy designed to make random checks for concealed weapons, and thus to prevent potential armed robberies and homicides. It was instituted by conservative Republicans and subsequently “abandoned” by leftwing Democrats as “racist.” To make Stop and Frisk a racial issue, its opponents inevitably left out its specifics, including the profiles of individuals whom the police target for searches. Like all “analyses” promoted by identity politics enthusiasts, the explanation eliminates details like the motivations for the policies, and the characteristics of their applications. It thus obscures from view all the actions of individuals that might account for the disproportionate number of blacks and Hispanics affected, in order to focus on the invisible but sinister oppressor, “white skin privilege.”

In reality, the selective nature of the policy was dictated by the fact that 98% of the homicides in New York are committed by blacks and Hispanics. Blacks constitute only 23% of the city’s population buy they commit 70% of the robberies, while whites are responsible for 4% of the same. In other words, the Stop and Frisk policies that discover “disproportionately” concealed and illegal weapons among blacks and Hispanics have an explanation that is behavioral not racial. So-called white “privilege” is a mirage. The fact is that whites are only 3% of the homicide problem and 4% of the robbery problem. Therefore, law enforcement officials are wise to be less interested in them. On the other hand, more than 90% of the homicide victims of blacks and Hispanics are other blacks and Hispanics. So “Stop and Frisk” should really be seen as a privilege for the black and Hispanic communities who are the potential targets of lethal criminal behavior, and therefore favored for protection. Or were until the left, led by the radical mayor of New York ended the practice.

Most examples offered by proponents of the “white skin privilege” scam depend on attributing all disparities between races to “systemic racism”- a practice outlawed by the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 - rather than to the habits, attitudes and actions of individuals. For example, the article tells us, “the ability to accumulate wealth has long been a white privilege—a privilege created by overt, systemic racism in both the public and private sectors.” doesn’t identify any overt racism or racist acts (which are illegal under American laws) or examine any of the individual behaviors that lead to wealth accumulation. It would be news to Oprah Winfrey, daughter of a share cropper, raised in segregated Mississippi, whose net worth is $2.9 billion, or billionaire basketball player and TV host, Shaquille O’Neill, or hip hop mogul, clothing magnate and outsize celebrity Sean “P. Diddy” Coombs or Snoop Doggy Dog or any of the many blacks who have managed to accumulate tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in a single lifetime.

Seventy percent of black children are born out of wedlock thanks in part to a welfare policy inflicted by leftists on America’s poor that cuts off benefits for homes where a father is present. All other factors being equal, including race, a child raised in a single mother household is five to six times more likely to be poor, than a child raised in a household with two parents. But facts like this are generally excluded from the “studies” that claim the wealth gap is intractable. “Inherited wealth” is often invoked as an insuperable advantage – a privilege that allegedly whites alone can take advantage of. But 70% of all millionaires are first generation millionaires. In other words, they earned their deserts, and did so in a single generation. 

“White skin privilege” is not only a racist term, but part of a totalitarian ideology - identity politics - which erases the individual in favor of collective identities based on race and gender. It warps language to conceal the facts that refute its claims. Thus “white skin privilege” is an Orwellian construct to scapegoat whites who in reality, and in alliance with minorities, have created the most tolerant and inclusive society in human history.

The adjective “undocumented immigrant,” for example, is a form of Orwellian DoubleSpeak designed to suppress the fact that millions of aliens have violated the nation’s laws, circumvented its citizenship process and stolen places that belong to those applying for entry legally. It is part of the left’s efforts to eliminate the concept of citizenship along with the obligations it entails in exchange for the rights it bestows.

Similarly, the term “under-served communities,” universally used by colleges to provide privileges on the basis of skin color, suppresses the truth that these privileges are only necessary because the beneficiaries are unable to qualify under the same standards as required of others. In other words, to obscure the fact that nobody is under-serving these communities and the privileges are racist in intention and result. No one in his right mind thinks that the admissions staffs at America’s liberal colleges are excluding minorities for racist reasons. Especially not when the same colleges are paying hundreds of millions of dollars to seek out and recruit qualified minorities. The only reasons for the subterfuge “under-served” are to suppress the fact that the applicants are unqualified and then to create the fiction that minorities are “marginalized” and “excluded” by … whitey.

America is at a crossroads. The progressive left has embraced a racist doctrine in which white people are the villains. Equally disturbing, the left has embraced a totalitarian doctrine that erases the individual – the cornerstone of America’s revolutionary idea that all human beings are equal in the eyes of their Creator, and should be judged according to their merits and not on the basis of their skin color. Is it any wonder that the Democratic Party has formed a “resistance” against a duly elected government that seeks to defend America’s core principles of individual freedom and individual accountability - or are constantly calling for its overthrow?

David Horowitz is the author of the forthcoming book Dark Agenda: The War to Destroy Christian America, which will be published by Humanix Books on February 19.


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Iran's Kidnapping Industry - Majid Rafizadeh

by Majid Rafizadeh

The more the ruling mullahs are appeased, the more emboldened and empowered they become to continue violating human rights.

  • This international breach of justice should be a lesson to the UK and other governments: It does not matter if the mullahs reach out their hands out in peace; the Islamist regime of Iran will continue to harm innocent victims on a daily basis.
  • In response to the snub, the British government should consider bringing to a halt its appeasement policies toward the ruling mullahs. The more they are appeased, the more emboldened and empowered they become to continue violating human rights.
  • It must be made clear to Iran that, apart from its unacceptable nuclear and ballistic missile build up, the UK -- and every country -- will also not stand for the capture, torture and imprisonment of the innocent. If the British government speaks in actions rather than words, perhaps these captives could be free to resume the life they deserve again, and the world could be free of a major nuclear threat.

Two of the hostages Iran is holding are an innocent British mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and her helpless four-year-old daughter, Gabriella. Pictured: Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her husband Richard Ratcliffe in 2011. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

"Sometimes when I come back from the visit with Gabriella, after saying goodbye to her, I feel as if I cannot live without her, I want to go back and hold her. She kisses me so hard. It is hard to say goodbye to her. She blows kisses all the way as she goes up the stairs, and everyone stands there watching." These are the words of a grieving British mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, held in prison in the Islamic Republic of Iran, as she describes saying goodbye to her child.

In 2016, the relationship between the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and the Obama administration seemed to have reached a euphoric level. Many exorbitant concessions were made by the United States to the Islamic Republic. The argument for these concessions was that such policies of appeasement would inspire Iran to change its malignant behavior, and that the freedoms that resulted would trickle down to the Iranian people. People began to think it would be safe to travel to Iran again. As tourism began to increase, however, it soon became clear that there was still rampant danger. People started becoming the new hostages of Iran.

Two of these victims are an innocent British mother, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and her helpless then-22-month-old daughter, Gabriella. Zaghari-Ratcliffe traveled with her baby to Iran to visit her family on Norowz, the Iranian New Year, in 2016. With the change in political climate Zaghari-Ratcliffe, employed as a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the Canadian news agency, Thomson Reuters, assumed they would be safe. As she boarded the plane, she had no idea what she would face at the Khomeini Airport. She was surrounded by The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and arrested.

Immediately, the IRGC confiscated both her and her daughter's passports. Gabriella does not have an Iranian nationality; she was born in Britain. Despite her foreign citizenship, she has not been allowed to return to their there. As is true in many Iranian court cases authorities are not required to, and did not offer, any reason to detain or arrest Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her child.

Zaghari-Ratcliffe not only had her baby taken from her, she was faced with the confusion of why she had even been arrested in the first place. Later, ambiguous and vague charges surfaced. Although the authorities never presented any evidence, Zaghari-Ratcliffe was accused of "plotting to topple the Iranian government." With no ability to defend herself, and no requirement for actual proof that such a crime had occurred, she was sent to prison. The entire situation looks like another instance of Iranian serial kidnapping and hostage taking, starting with the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-81, in which 52 American citizens and diplomats were held for 444 days. When President Ronald Reagan – expected not to look kindly upon the situation – was elected, the hostages were immediately released.
The Iranians proceeded to kidnap more Americans, five of whom were released by then-President Barack Obama for an illegal ransom of $1.7 billion

Former FBI agent Robert Levinson, about whom a "proof-of-life" video from 2010 was released in 2012, is still missing.

In 2007, Iranians seized five Britons from a government ministry building in the Baghdad in May 2007, apparently to stop Iran's diversion of $18 billion to Iraq from being exposed. "Just one, Peter Moore, made it out of Iran alive," according to the Guardian.

In 2016, Iran seized two US Navy boats with their crews, and in 2017, a Saudi fishing boat.
In 2018, Iran kidnapped 58 members of a Qatari royal falcon-hunting party; the government may have paid $1 billion for their release and then have captured two Qatari boats.

Even though the United Kingdom has been providing assistance to the Iranian regime by arguing in its defense to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the "nuclear deal"), Iranian leaders evidently feel no obligation to return the favor. Instead, they continue to hold an innocent citizen of the United Kingdom, and imprison her mother under fabricated charges -- presumably in the hope of yet more ransom money or possibly the continuation of the never-signed nuclear deal that would enable it to advance to deliverable nuclear capability.

The British government and the United Nations have repeatedly reached out to the ruling mullahs of Iran and asked that Zaghari-Ratcliffe and her baby be allowed to return to their home in the United Kingdom. Despite countless attempts made to help Iran, it has ignored their requests. Ms. Asma Jahangir, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, as well as Mr. José Antonio Guevara Bermúdez, Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, have called on Iran to release Zaghari-Ratcliffe:] "We consider that Ms. Zaghari-Ratcliffe has been arbitrarily deprived of her liberty and that her right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal has been violated, she pointed out ... These are flagrant violations of Iran's obligations under international law".

Even though the British government has sometimes come to her defense, the 41-year-old Zaghari-Ratcliffe has faced a worsening situation. The conditions of her imprisonment continue to deteriorate. Her legal rights have been completely scuttled.

With no fair and due process in the Sharia court, she has been consistently denied access to her lawyer. The Iranian regime has even refused to allow the British authorities to have access to her. The Sharia court then sentenced her to five years in prison.

Currently the treatment of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has exceeded 1,000 days in prison as of January 2019, amounts to torture. From what information her family has been able to gather, her situation as a prisoner in Iran is dire, and she has said she will go on a hunger strike.

They explained this while pleading for the United Nations to intervene in her case to free her from the torment she is forced to endure. Although the prison's doctor has promised her medical care, the Iranian authorities are refusing to provide it. The Labour MP for Hampstead, Tulip Siddiq, urged the British government to act because Zaghari-Ratcliffe treatment is "becoming a matter of life and death".

This international breach of justice should be a lesson to the UK and other governments: It does not matter if the mullahs reach out their hands out in peace, the Islamist regime of Iran will continue to harm innocent victims on a daily basis. In response to that snub, the UK should consider bringing to a halt its appeasement policies toward the fundamentalist mullahs. The more the ruling mullahs are appeased, the more emboldened and empowered they become to violate human rights.

The British government should also level appropriate economic and political sanctions against Iran to pressure the regime into agreeing to stop all human rights abuses, and also to release an innocent mother, and her baby, so that they may be reunited and return home. It must be made clear to Iran that, apart from its unacceptable nuclear and ballistic missile build up, the UK -- and every country -- will also not stand for the capture, torture and imprisonment of the innocent.

If the British government speaks in actions rather than words, perhaps these captives, just two of many who endure such unspeakable hardship, could be free to resume the life they deserve again, and the world could be free of a major nuclear threat.
  • Follow Majid Rafizadeh on Twitter

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu


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Egypt issues ultimatum to Hamas on cooperation with Iran - Daniel Siryoti

by Daniel Siryoti

Cairo officials: Hamas must decide whether group "takes its orders from Tehran or continues to implement understandings for calm" on Israel-Gaza border

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi
Photo: Reuters 

Israel Hayom has learned that alongside Jerusalem's decision to postpone the transfer of Qatari funds to Hamas following the escalation on Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, Egypt has issued the terrorist organization's political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh an ultimatum. Cairo has made it clear Haniyeh must decide whether "Hamas takes its orders from Tehran or continues to implement the understandings for calm" formulated by the head of Egyptian intelligence Abbas Kamel.

A senior Egyptian intelligence official told Israel Hayom that senior Hamas members, chief among them Haniyeh, had contacted Kamel with the request that Israel be sent the message that "Hamas was not involved in the grave events on the border."

Hamas further asked the Egyptian intelligence chief to "prevent the postponement of the transfer of the money from Qatar." Haniyeh clarified that "Hamas will not ignore the Islamic Jihad's provocations, which were carried out at the direct order of Tehran."

The source said that while "Hamas was furious that senior Islamic Jihad officials did everything they could to bring about an escalation in the security situation in Gaza that postponed the transfer of money from Qatar to the [Gaza] strip," they did not expect the Egyptian ultimatum, which pushed them into a corner.

The Egyptian official's remarks come as Egypt and other Sunni Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states are hoping to keep Iran from establishing itself militarily in Gaza as it has done in Yemen and Syria, at the same time as it eyes other Sunni Arab states.

Israel Hayom has further learned from the Egyptian official that Cairo made it clear to Haniyeh that "Egypt has no plans to take part in the indirect talks Qatari emissary [to Gaza] Mohammed al-Emadi is conducting on the issue of the postponed transfer of funds to Gaza." This is due to the bitter rivalry between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE.

Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi meets with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh 
in Gaza City, Thursday

Qatar has been accused of providing support, funding and shelter to terrorist organizations and their operatives, including radical Sunni Islamic terrorist groups directed by Hamas' umbrella movement movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, which was outlawed in Egypt and other Gulf states, as well as Shiite terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which take their orders from Tehran.

The Egyptian official emphasized that "it was made clear to Haniyeh and the heads of Hamas that Cairo would not lay the groundwork for Qatar's moves in Gaza, and Egypt has no intention of intervening in the event a military confrontation breaks out in Gaza because Hamas is looking the other way at the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's provocations that come at the orders of Tehran."

He said Cairo relayed to Hamas the message that it was to blame for the crisis "and that they will need to deal with it and contain the IDF's attacks so that they can get the money from Qatar."

Daniel Siryoti


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Key document on Bezeq could clear Netanyahu in Case 4,000 - Akiva Bigman

by Akiva Bigman

Document shows merger approved unanimously and PM had negligible impact.

A newly unearthed document could undermine a key premise in Case 4,000, a corruption case in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considered suspect.

Case 4,000 centers on an alleged conflict of interest involving Netanyahu, Bezeq and the Walla news website, which Bezeq owns. The police allege that Bezeq's controlling shareholder, Shaul Elovitch, ensured positive coverage of the Netanyahu family on Walla in exchange for the prime minister promoting government regulations favorable to Bezeq that would cement the telecom giant's market share and be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the corporation.

Police investigators say Netanyahu went out of his way to push for regulation that allowed Bezeq to merge with Yes, a provider of satellite TV, as part of the illicit deal with Elovitch. Investigators say this was clearly a quid pro quo because Netanyahu used his clout to override the objections among various officials in the Communications Ministry and expedited the approval process in a way that gave Elovitch favorable treatment.

But a new document from the minutes of a meeting held by the Communications Ministry's Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Council on June 23, 2015 shows that the merger was approved without any objections and only after the proper procedures were followed.

According to the minutes, which were released after a freedom of information request by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, shows that that council chairwoman asked, "Who is in favor of the merger?" and then she rules: "The merger is approved unanimously."

The minutes also show that three senior officials from the ministry who participated in the meeting did not voice any objection to the merger.

The council signed off on the merger, and only then did Netanyahu, as the newly appointed communication minister, sign off on the merger.

In fact, the council meeting was only the final step in a drawn-out regulatory process. Deliberations on the possible merger go back as early as 2004 and in March 2014, more than a year before Netanyahu became communications minister, the Israel Antitrust Authority gave it a green light.

Netanyahu became communications minister only in May 2015, about a month before the ministry's regulatory council approved the merger. This means that he only had about a month in which he was in a position of influence in the decade long approval process.

Akiva Bigman


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The Palestinian Civil War - Dr. Mordechai Kedar

by Dr. Mordechai Kedar

An article on a pro-Hamas site by a Mr. Ra'afat Mara is brought in translation. Mara expresses in print what Hamas members think of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority he chairs.

The tension between the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas Organization in Gaza is approaching the boiling point, as a result of several factors:

The dire economic situation in Gaza, the unbridgeable chasm between Hamas and Fatah's outlook,  a stalemate in Israel-PLO negotiations, the postponement of any attempts at progress between Israel and the Palestinians during the election period, the approaching date for announcing the US government's "deal of the century" - and the constant leaks about its content - the strengthening of relations between Israel and several Arab states and, of course, the lack of any chance on the political horizon that Israel will pack its bags and return to the 1949 lines.

Hamas is in financial straits because its flow of Iranian support has dried up as a result of the economic sanctions on Iran, while the economic crisis in Turkey casts a shadow on Sultan Erdogan's proteges, the heads of Hamas in Gaza. Hamas members in Judea and Samaria are being hunted down by Israeli and PA security forces, who work hand in hand 24/7 against the terror organization.   

The article I have brought below (in translation), with my clarifications in parentheses, appeared on a pro-Hamas site n early January 2019.

What lies behind Mahmoud Abbas' hysteria

An article by Ra'afat Mara.

"Anyone observing the behavior of Palestinian Authority chairman, Mahmoud Abbas, realizes very soon that he functions under tense, extremely difficult political conditions and that the decisions he has been making are bad ones and detrimental to all Palestinians.

"Anyone observing Mahmoud Abbas becomes aware of the evil impulses he harbors inside him, of how he is an extremist who thinks in terms of settling scores, is ruled by a tendency to take revenge and does not mind causing injury to every Palestinian as long as he can spew poisonous hatred in every direction. There is not one Palestinian or group of Palestinians who have been spared Mahmoud Abbas' blind hatred.

"His criminal acts have caused damage to Fatah itself, the group which has lost the most because of his unstable behavior.   

"About a year ago, Abbas made decisions and decided on punitive measures against all Palestinians, against PLO splinter groups, against the Gaza Strip and against Fatah members. He steadfastly ignored the demands of the PLO splinter groups which refused to assemble the National Palestinian Council and the PLO Central Committee while under the occupation and for as long as there is no real national understanding or peaceful relationship with Hamas.

"Abbas has ceased paying the salaries of Fatah workers, cut the salaries of prisoners, held back funds meant for the sick, suspended the agreement signed with hospital sanitation workers, and cut off Gaza's electricity. 

"Abbas publicized a decision to dissolve the Legislative Council elected by the people, thwarted peace efforts with Hamas and the establishment of an agreed upon government with them, dismissed the PA personnel at the Rafah crossing (which caused Egypt to close its side of the crossing) – and these are not the only bad decisions he has made.

"There are several reasons for this hysterical behavior on the part of Mahmoud Abbas, the most important of which are: 

"1. Hamas' ability to stand strong during the last year in the face of Abbas' sanctions and the siege he laid on Gaza. In fact, the Hamas movement withstood the pressure, managed to overcome the attempted siege whose objective was to weaken the organization, and did not give in. Hamas foiled Abbas' plans by means of good policies, national consensus and several steps that provided public services on the ground.

"2. Hamas continues to commit violent and armed terror attacks against the occupation in the West Bank.  Hamas succeeded in killing several soldiers of the occupation, raising the level of hostility in the West Bank. These operations enhance Hamas' political importance in the eyes of the public, while Abbas and his government played the role of security service providers who collaborate with the enemy and whose mandate is to protect that enemy.

"3. Hamas succeeded in creating a true Palestinian national vision that includes the vast majority of Palestinian society's components by presenting a broad nationalist  outlook vis a vis the dialogue with the PLO,  one based on reconcilitation, cooperation, free elections and building a joint government. Abbas played the part of the person who refuses to accept these suggestions, bringing the entire process to a halt.

"4. The March of Return sustained broad mass momentum involving amazing sacrifice and succeeded in achieving more against the occupation than one victorious moment because it united all the Palestinian forces and the masses of our people, in the country, and out of it in the Hamas camp.

"5. Hamas proved that it is in its power to neutralize disagreements with several influential states in the region, maintain the dialogue it began with them, and develop relations with these states. 

"6. There is a strong mutual understanding between the American government and the occupying government. It is this understanding that will bring us "the deal of the century" and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the occupation. This has put to an end to Mahmoud Abbas' hopes to begin to settle the conflict with Israel, to the idea of a Palestinian State (on a portion of Palestine), legitimized the settlements, cancelled the right of return and presented the PLO as a terror organization. What this means is the collapse of Abu Mazen's dream of negotiations.

"7.  The Palestinian public, both within Falestin and outside it, supports Hamas. This received strong expression in more than one way, from free elections held in the universities and elections taking place in countries allowing Palestinian refugees within their borders, as Hamas (as opposed to the PLO) is willing to back the refugees in their pursuit of rights and reparations as well as to protect them.

"These and other reasons contributed to turning Mahmoud Abbas into the person standing in the way of nationalist dialogue, the person destroying national Palestinian aspirations and the enemy of the opposition, without his achieving the political quid pro quo for his aid to the occupation. Over the past few weeks he has raised the level of his declarations  Protecting the occupation, careful to preserve the security coordination (with Israel) and refusing to accept any form of opposition.

"The problem is that the biggest loser as a result of Abbas' hysterical behavior is the Palestinian issue and Palestinian national aspirations as well as the heroic shaheeds, wounded and imprisoned, of whom the Barghouti and Na'alwa families are living paradigms (families of the terrorists who murdered Jews in recent months)."

Mr. Ra'afat's article ends here. He put pen to paper and expressed what Hamas members think of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority he chairs.  

Abbas and his Fatah cohorts, however, did not let him have the last word: They speak constantly about the terrible injury Hamas inflicted on the Palestinian dream when it took over Gaza by force of arms, an eye-opener that led to Israel's realizing that the same violence would occur if a Palestinian state were to be established in Judea and Samaria.

The split between the two forces limits the ability of the Palestinian Arabs to maneuver because it is not clear to the world who represents the Palestinians and who is actually responsible for their fate. The split allows hostile elements such as Iran to entrench their influence in Palestinian Arab society, against the Palestinian desire to take control of their own decision-making. As a result of the split and the accusations hurled from Gaza, as seen in the article brought here, it is clear that Hamas is supported by the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, bringing the probability that Israel will allow the establishment of a Palestinian state there close to zero.

Abbas' supporters claim that Hamas is responsible for the suffering of Gaza residents, because the Hamas takeover put them in charge of what happens in the Strip. Since he has no control over what happens with the money he transfers to Gaza, Abbas, accordingly, has ceased funding the Strip. 

In the final analysis, the split between the PLO and Hamas, Ramallah and Gaza, Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip, is not a controversy, but a deep chasm. And it is permanent.  The reality is one of two cultural patterns, two entities, two agendas, and the world does not contain a bridge long enough to connect the worldviews and behavior of the two sides.

The old and unanswered question lurks behind the scenes, awaiting a definitive response: Is there really a "Palestinian nation?" And the answer is in the negative. In the Middle East there are no nations, only tribes and the tribes living in Judea and Samaria are not the same as those living in the Gaza Strip. This is the incontrovertible sociological fact behind the political split between the PLO and Hamas.

Translated from the Hebrew by Rochel Sylvetsky, Op-ed and Judaism Editor Arutz Sheva.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.


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Why Trump went for a 21-day suspension of the partial shutdown, and what happens next - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

Trump’s stonewall on the shutdown had to end because a choke point had been discovered by the opposition (a group that includes Congressional Democrats and government employee unions along with the media): commercial aviation.

President Trump’s Rose Garden declaration of an end to the partial shutdown was a tactical retreat, a rejection of a Little Big Horn strategy. He found himself in a no-win situation, and rather than bear unacceptable costs, has redefined the contest on better terms: sending the issue to a House and Senate conference committee charged with coming up with a deal that prevents a resumption of the shutdown, and provides border security, something that Democrats say they believe is important. 

Making the best of a bad situation. Rose Garden speech January 25, 2019
Cropped from Fox News, via YouTube

It is important that Nancy Pelosi declined to rule out funding for a physical barrier. We do not know what was said in the process of reaching an agreement to re-start the normal operations of the federal govenrment for the next 21 days. 

Democrats naturally are gloating, calling it a surrender and admonishing Trump to “learn his lesson” and acknowledge his defeat by the wise and all-knowing Nancy Pelosi. This certainly gives them a sugar high while providing evidence for future use that their priority is humiliating Trump rather than attending to the needs of border security.

Nonetheless, as President Trump correctly noted in the Rose Garden address, it was an “agreement.” The Dems agreed to procedural rules that can be used to make the case for border barrier construction. The deal will be hashed out in the conference committee, which will then submit the same legislation to both Houses of Congress, with the 21-day clock ticking. Either chamber can modify the legislation, but that happens under the gun of the ticking clock.

Trump’s stonewall on the shutdown had to end because a choke point had been discovered by the opposition (a group that includes Congressional Democrats and government employee unions along with the media): commercial aviation. It was obvious when the Air Traffic Controllers demonstrated their ability to stymie air travel at the nation’s busiest airports that President Trump, having declared ownership of the shutdown, would be blamed for strangling the economy, and was on the hook for any air traffic control disaster that might, God forbid, happen. The Executive VP of the Air Traffic Controllers Association went on CNN to blame Trump for delays and safety issues. With the Super Bowl next weekend in the city with the world’s busiest airport, not only would business and family travel be impaired, the functioning of the nation’s premier sporting event was in peril. 

It may be coincidence, but this kill shot job action occurred in the wake of extraordinary signs that House Democrats were wavering in their support for Pelosi’s “not one dollar” opposition to a border wall – while the government is (partially) shut down. This gives Trump’s allies something to work with. Steny Hoyer, second-ranking House Democrat, already has conceded that a physical barrier is part of the solution – just not while the government is shut down. The Democrats now own the House majority because new members have been elected from historically GOP-leaning districts, and many of those freshmen fear facing voters in November next year and being painted as Pelosi’s pawns who prevented a border barrier desired by their constituents.

The Senate members of the conference committee have been announced:
The Republicans are Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Roy Blunt of Missouri and John Hoeven of North Dakota, and the Democrats are Sens. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Jon Tester of Montana.
Tester won re-election in Montana, but cannot afford to be too far left. Leahy is the biggest camera hog in the group, and Dick Durbin is a chronic schemer. None of the Republicans are among the highest profiles in the Senate..

I have not been able to locate a full list of the House members, but Rep. Chuck Fleishmann, the Republican ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee is on it.

It is possible that the conference committee will not be able to come up with anything that satisfies both parties, in which case the partial shutdown resumes, but this time with the Democrats shown to be willing to shut down the government in order to prevent a border barrier. Trump will have met their demand to resume government funding, and they will have refused to meet him halfway. And President Trump will be delivering the State of the Union address at a date to be determined, but before the shutdown might resume. This will allow the highest possible platform for President Trump to comment on the negotiations, with Nancy Pelosi sitting behind him.

Will the Democrats refuse to give Trump funds for something his base would accept as a reasonable start on the wall he promised? They certainly might, in which case the government will partially shut down again, with federal workers having received their back pay, but facing another bout of financial stringency. Would Trump then pull the trigger on a national emergency declaration? If he does, the Democrats will find a judge in the Ninth Circuit who believes that a district court judge has the power to overrule the statutory authority clearly granted to the president to declare a national emergency. What happens then? I think it is quite possible that the Trump administration will appeal directly to the SCOTUS, bypassing the Ninth in the name of a national emergency. He might even decide to take a stand against the new concept of district court jurisdiction over the entire United States. 

I have a guess, based on the fact that Trump has not deployed insulting nicknames for either Schumer or Pelosi. I suspect that in the discussions that led to the agreement to set up a conference committee both sides agreed that another shutdown was in nobody’s interest, and that a compromise would benefit both parties. If I am wrong, the Democrats will be going to the mattresses over a barrier free border, a position that may please Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez but would not help the Dems win in 2020. 

Thomas Lifson


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Ten Truths About Hijab - Danusha Goska

by Danusha Goska

"Diversity" should include Muslimas who rebel against the hijab.

In a city I cannot name, on a date I cannot specify, an anonymous woman and I embarked on a risky drive to an institution whose address I cannot disclose. "Aisha" and I had eaten, gabbed, laughed, worked and dreamed together. I had met her family. They were lovely people. They planned to kill her. She had violated their Islamic expectations. Thus our drive to a remote safe house. In the United States. In the twentieth century.

In January, 2019, after Ilhan Omar [pictured above] was sworn in as a new congresswoman, my liberal Facebook friends celebrated her and Rashida Tlaib. They made three false claims: "First refugee elected to Congress! First Palestinian! We celebrate diversity!"

No, Omar was not the first refugee elected to Congress. Jewish refugees, and refugees from Communism preceded her.

No, Tlaib was not the first Palestinian. Justin Amash, a male, Christian Republican, was. Newly sworn-in Donna Shalala, like Tlaib, is an Arab. She is a Catholic who supports Israel. None of the memes celebrating Tlaib celebrated Shalala or Amash. 

The third lie is that celebrations of Omar and Tlaib were celebrations of diversity. At the same time that liberals were elevating Tlaib and Omar to meme stardom, they were maintaining complete radio silence about a story that was rocking the world. Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun is a Saudi teenager who, in early January, 2019, escaped from her family and was granted asylum in Canada. Alqunun described beatings, captivity, and the threat of death for abandoning Islam. She insisted that her case was not unique, and that women in Saudi Arabia "are treated like slaves."

Also in January, 2019, the New York Times brought attention to Loujain al-Hathloul, who has "worked relentlessly to earn Saudi women the right to drive." For her efforts, al-Hathloul has been tortured, water-boarded, and threatened with, and possibly, raped.

Narges Mohammadi and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe are imprisoned in Iran for their human rights activism. In January, Mohammadi and Zaghari-Ratcliffe began a hunger strike. Iranian women activists like Masih Alinejad may be close to ending compulsory hijab. They've been protesting for decades. My liberal friends have never, as far as I know, mentioned any of these women.

If we pull the focus back and look at Arab and Muslim-born-and-raised women liberals don't celebrate, we find Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, Anni Cyrus, Sarah Haider, and Rifqa Bary. Islam's defenders have not only not celebrated these women, some have made death threats against them, and liberal allies have prevented them from speaking publicly (see here and here). Hirsi Ali's enemies prostitute otherwise honorable liberal causes to smear her and to guarantee that she will continue to require round-the-clock armed guards for the rest of her life. They accuse Hirsi Ali of being part of "patriarchy, misogyny, and white supremacy" guilty of "wars, invasion, and genocide" and associating with "white nationalists and far-right politicians" and "colonizers." Finally, she is "not progressive." Liberals have participated in the smearing of the Muslim-born-and-raised women mentioned above, and helped to ensure that these women and their allies, on university campuses and in much media, are non-persons. This is not diversity. It is totalitarian uniformity maintained by the threat of violence. Celebration of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib was no celebration of diversity. It was a selective celebration of two women who align with anti-American, anti-Jewish rhetoric.

Ilhan Omar demanded that US law be changed so that she could wear hijab in Congress. Nancy Pelosi proposed the demanded rule change, in order to "ensure religious expression." Liberals celebrated, the very same liberals who denounced Mitt Romney as a misogynist because, when asked how he would find female candidates for his cabinet, he replied, awkwardly but innocently, that he had "binders full of women." I asked my liberal friends why they celebrated Congress's first hijab. I received no answers. I thought of Aisha. I wondered if they know the following.

1.) Hateful stereotypes are deployed to prevent discussion of hijab.

It's hard to talk about hijab. Stereotypes get in the way. Not stereotypes of Muslims. Stereotypes of non-Muslims. "You bigoted, racist, intolerant Americans are not allowed to talk about hjiab because you are all Islamophobes who want to harm me."

Above a July 1, 2018 Vice article alleging that non-Muslims are violent thugs frothing at the mouth to destroy innocent Muslim lives, Vice ran an image of a sweet and lovely hijabi surrounded by evil, Islamophobic assailants. Nasty Americans and Brits ram their grocery carts into pregnant Muslim women's bellies; they push hijabis in front of oncoming trains.

All decent people condemn real hate crimes. At the same time, one must be mindful of faked hate crimes. See here, here, here, here, here, and here. These crimes were faked to silence any discussion of gender apartheid. One can condemn hate crimes against Muslims and at the same time condemn crimes committed against Muslim women in the name of Islam.

Masih Alinejad, Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, my friend Aisha, and the unknown others like her with no access to safe houses: we speak not for these Muslim women, but with them, Muslim women whom too many choose to erase in the name of political correctness.

2.) Honest discussion of hijab does not equal an attack on Muslim women.

Not all hijabis support compulsory hijab. The My Stealthy Freedom Facebook page features images of hijabis holding signs protesting compulsory hijab. On January 31, 2018, Tarek Fatah shared an incredibly poignant video. A short, stooped Iranian woman, slowed and bent by time, climbed up a small platform in a snowy landscape. Once on the platform, she removed her hijab, wrapped it around her cane, and waved it. She was imitating the image of Vida Movahed, aka "The Girl of Enghelab Street," who gained fame through a viral photo of an anti-compulsory-hijab protest. Movahed was later imprisoned. Prison guards in Iran are alleged routinely to rape imprisoned activists. Those who oppose free speech about hijab want to force this choice on us: love Muslim women or hate Muslim women. Their choice is false. The choice is between freedom and totalitarianism. We who support freedom love Muslim women. We support free speech about hijab.

3.) Islam's canonical documents define hijab as the establishment of two tiers of women, one superior, to be safe from sexual molestation, one inferior and subject to sexual molestation.
No doubt my friends who celebrated Omar see hijab as just another lifestyle choice. Their tolerant celebration of Omar's hijab, they believe, will be reciprocated by Omar's tolerance of their choices in attire – jeans and t-shirts, say.

Dr. Tawfik Hamid is an Egyptian-born, Arabic speaking, former member of an Islamist terrorist group. In his book Inside Jihad, Dr. Hamid quotes the Koran and authoritative interpretations of it. He states that hijab's purpose "is not modesty or to encourage observers to focus on a Muslim woman's personality. Its purpose, according to the most authentic hadiths and interpretations, is to create a society where superior free Muslim women are distinguished from inferior slave women … The hijab … encourages hatred for non-Muslim women who wear modern clothing."

When Americans like Laura Bush and Nancy Pelosi wear hijab, Dr. Hamid writes, "The women seem to be operating under the false belief that the hijab is a neutral – or merely traditional – fashion statement … But the hijab is not simply a clothing accessory. It harbors deep Islamic doctrinal connections to slavery and discrimination. Western women who cover themselves are unwittingly endorsing an inhumane system."

Dr. Hamid goes on to say that when he was an Islamist, he and his fellows despised women without hijab, and cursed them to eternal hellfire. They based this belief on the hadith that says, "The denizens of Hell … [include] the women who would be dressed but appear to be naked," that is, women without hijab.

Hamid cites Koran 33:59, that is interpreted as dividing women into two classes: Muslim hijabis who are not enslaved, and who deserve respect from men, and non-Muslim women who don't wear hijab. These enslaved kufars are acceptable as sexual prey for Muslim men. "The hijab … creates a feeling of superiority among the women who wear it (and their men)." Hamid cites Tafsir ibn Kathir, that interprets Koran 33:59 thus, as Hamid puts it: a hijabi would be safe from sexual harassment, "if a woman was seen without a veil, they marked her as a slave girl and could rape her without guilt … most Islamic authorities and scholars affirm this purpose of the hijab." Hamid goes on to quote various hadiths that support the above interpretation of Koran 33:59.

The dichotomy of superior hijabis = respectable / inferior non-hijabis = sex slaves is not of the ancient past. Modern Islamic websites reinforce it with scripture and interpretation "The respectable women should not look like the slave-girls from their dress when they move out of their houses, with uncovered faces and loose hair;" "the people may know that they are not promiscuous women," non-hijabis are "women of ill repute from whom some wicked person could cherish evil hopes," reports Islamic Studies Info, quoting canonical scholars. "The hijab must not resemble the garments of the kuffar," that is, non-Muslims, counsels the University of Essex Islamic Society.

4.) Hijab covers uniquely feminine evil.

Think about two features of Muslim culture that non-Muslims find it difficult to believe, never mind understand: honor killings and female genital mutilation. All three: honor killings, FGM, and hijab are linked by the same logic.

It is difficult to obtain accurate statistics on honor killings. The UN estimates that thousands occur every year, the vast majority among Muslims. In a typical honor killing, a girl is raped and her family kills her. Daniel Akbari, an Iranian-born lawyer and expert in sharia law, writes that honor killings are not random events, and honor killers are not lone wolves, acting on passion outside of society. Rather, in his book, Honor Killing: A Professional's Guide, Akbari argues that honor killings are not just condoned, but are demanded by Islamic understandings of women.

Honor killers are often not brought to trial. If they are, sentences have often been lenient. As some courts, under international pressure, have become more strict, killers have found new approaches. One approach might be called "honor suicide." The family informs the prospective victim that she must end her life. In 2006, a 17-year-old Turkish girl received a text to her phone from her uncle. He instructed her to kill herself. Some girls are locked in rooms with rat poison, a pistol, or a rope. Another approach is to assign the task to the youngest male in the family, on the assumption that courts are less willing to sentence young boys to lengthy prison terms. Families may be reluctant to kill, but the surrounding community's "social pressure and incessant gossip" drive them to do it.
Not just families, but entire polities acting on sharia law punish women for being victims of sexual assault. In October, 2008, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, a 13-year-old Somali girl, was stoned to death for being raped by three armed men. A nineteen-year-old Saudi girl was raped fourteen times by seven men. In 2007, she was sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail. "Up to 80 per cent of women in Pakistan's jails are charged under rules that penalize rape victims. But hardliners have vetoed an end to the Islamic laws," Dan McDougall wrote in 2006.

Female genital mutilation is practiced by some, but not all, Muslims in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia. Various Islamic scriptures support FGM. The process, which ranges from nicks to the clitoris to its complete excision, and removal of labia and sewing up of a female's external genital opening, astounds non-Muslims.

Approximately ninety percent of women in Egypt have undergone FGM. Egyptian physician Dr. Nawal El Saadawi described her own FGM in her book, The Hidden Face of Eve. She was six years old, in bed, when unknown persons broke into her room, grabbed her, threw her on a bathroom floor, spread her thighs apart, and mutilated her. The pain "was like a searing flame that went through my whole body … I saw a red pool of blood around my hips. I did not know what they had cut off from my body … I called out to my mother for help." Little Nawal tried to summon her mother to rescue her from these fiends; she was horrified to recognize her mother among them. Later, Nawal saw them mutilate her four-year-old sister. "Now we know what it is. Now we know where lies our tragedy. We were born of a special sex, the female sex. We are destined in advance to taste of misery, and to have a part of our body torn away by cold, unfeeling cruel hands."

Research shows that "religious justification is held to be the strongest argument in favor of FGM." In other words, people practice FGM because they believe that their religion, Islam, demands it. Communities support FGM by stigmatizing women who have intact genitalia. Hirsi Ali reports that in her native Somalia's madrassahs, "kinterleey," "girl with a clitoris," is a standard insult. "Severe stigmatization of girls and women who have not undergone FGM are well in place." Any effort to stamp out FGM should focus on convincing Muslims clerics that FGM damages "reproductive health." Note that this World Health Organization publication does not recommend that Muslim clerics be encouraged to consider how FGM hurts women and girls – only how it hurts potential breeders.

Non-Muslims are confused. How could a father murder his own daughter? How could a mother participate in the mutilation of her daughter?

The answer may be found in one of the justifications for hijab. The sight of women causes men to sin. Women are required to disguise themselves. In the logic of hijab, women caused the rapist to rape. She should have covered herself.

Recently, a Muslim preacher described a Muslima who went out in public in a jilbab, that is a long, loose coat, but allowed her face and her high-heeled shoes to be visible. This exposure, he insisted, "tortured" men, because the sight of her face and her shoes forced those men to think about sex – "even though he didn't want to…he has to struggle with himself not to look at this woman."  "All this would be in the book of deeds for this sister." Allah "would give her a double portion of punishment" in the fires of hell for the thoughts that the men thought when they saw her face and shoes. "She is making these men seduced." "She is purchasing a ticket for Jahannam," or hell.

Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali, the Grand Mufti of Australia and New Zealand, preached in a 2006 Ramadan sermon that Australian women raped by Muslim rape gangs are responsible for the rapes. "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street … and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? … The uncovered meat is the problem. … If she was in her room in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred … the responsibility falls ninety per cent of the time on the woman. Why? Because she possesses the weapon of enticement."
During the New Year's celebrations of 2015/16, thousands of women and girls throughout Western Europe were sexually assaulted by Muslim men. A Cologne imam, Sami Abu-Yusuf, said that the sexually assaulted women were the guilty parties. "If they're half-naked and wearing perfume, it's not surprising that such things would happen ... It's not surprising that the men attacked them. Dressing up like that is like pouring oil into the fire."

In citing perfume, the cleric echoes Mohammed himself, who said, "She is an adulteress, as she provokes the lusts of men with her perfume and compels them and whoever else to look at her." Note the word "compel." She, the woman, is responsible for men's behavior. She forced men to sin by wearing perfume. These are not ancient ideas; they are the foundation of sharia law. Men, on the other hand, are allowed to wear strong scents.

Even little girls possess the weapon of enticement. In Iran, compulsory hijab begins at age 7. Hashim Almidini, an Iraqi-born Australian, featured a hijab tutorial created by an Australian cleric using his little daughter as a model. The silent, shamed daughter appears to be six years old. The cleric, though living in Australia, says that Western culture, lead by Satan, is "invading" Muslims. "Western norms" are Satan's tool. Hijab is the key battleground between Muslims and hell. The cleric blasts his daughter for showing her neck, her earlobes, and her sock-less ankles.

In January, 2019 news broke of a Malaysian textbook that warns nine-year-old girls to wear hijab to protect the "modesty of their genitals" lest they be sexually assaulted, rejected by their friends, and bring shame onto their families. The textbook includes an image of a young girl seated in a chair, her head in her hands as she slumps in shame. Azrul Mohd Kalib posted this image from the textbook on twitter, and commented, "Not only does this put the responsibility of preventing sexual harassment solely on the shoulders of a girl, it also implies that she had it coming!" She had it coming: that's the whole idea.

5.) In the logic of hijab, women without hijab are begging to be sexually assaulted.

If wearing hijab communicates that a woman is virtuous, godly, and chaste, lack of hijab communicates that a woman is begging to be sexually assaulted. Egyptian-born Dina Torkia is a successful Muslima fashion and beauty blogger. She lives in the UK with her Pakistani husband. In late 2018, she stopped wearing hijab. On January 1, 2019, she posted a video of herself reading social media messages she received in response to her decision. Reading the messages took forty-eight minutes. Again and again, one theme repeats: she removed hijab because she wants to be sexually assaulted. "Dina didn't get banged enough when she was young. Now she's opening up sexually." "U took the hijab off next time sure would be cock riding or a porn star," "YOU ARE A HOE," "The choice you made is welcoming you to the cock carousel, slut."

Samin, an Iranian activist, created an animation to support those resisting compulsory hijab. "Girls are forced to be liars … you censor yourself when you put it on" but, "If you don't wear hijab, they think you are a whore."

Mostly Muslim grooming gangs have been raping, torturing, and sexually enslaving British girls for several decades. One asks how grown men, husbands and fathers themselves, could commit such hideous crimes against little girls, some of whom they killed. Daniel Akbari explains. "For their entire lives these men have been taught that the women who do not wear a hijab and show skin are like whores … They also assume that only Muslim women who follow sharia rules for women’s dress and conduct, wear a hijab, lower their gaze, do not laugh or eat in public, and do not go out of the house without their unmarriageable kin men escorting them deserve respect."

Indeed, a girl who was abused by a grooming gang said that hijab was used as justification for their abuse of her. "As a teenager, I was taken to various houses and flats above takeaways in the north of England, to be beaten, tortured and raped over one hundred times. I was called a 'white slag' and 'white c- - -' as they beat me. They made it clear that because I was a non-Muslim, and not a virgin, and because I didn’t dress 'modestly', that they believed I deserved to be 'punished'."

6.) Hijab limits women's entire lives, not just what they wear.

Islam demands that "hijab of the clothes should be accompanied by hijab of the eyes, hijab of the heart, hijab of thought and hijab of intention. It also includes the way a person walks, the way a person talks, the way he/she behaves, etc."

Many Muslims interpret hijab as including the command that women not leave their homes. Koran 33:33 commands, "stay in your homes and do not go about displaying your allurements." Islamic Studies Info teaches, "woman’s real sphere of activity is her home … she should come out of the house only in case of a genuine need."

In her book, In the Land of the Blue Burkas, author Kate McCord describes her life lived in intimate contact with Afghan women who wear sky-blue burqas that cover them from head to foot. 
Afghanistan is frequently cited as one of the worst countries on earth to be a woman. The suicide rate for women is shockingly high. Some families raise their daughters as sons, until puberty forces them to assume female roles. And, of course, some desperate boys are groomed to be girls, to serve as male prostitutes.

One Afghan woman described to McCord why she would not dare to sing, even within the confines of her own home, surrounded not only by the house walls, but also courtyard walls. "'If a woman sings and a man hears her, he will think her voice is beautiful and will lust after her. Maybe he will be on the street separated by the wall or in a neighbor's aouli [courtyard]. Maybe he will never see the woman who sings, but he hears her voice. If that happens, he will want her. The sin is hers. She will be punished. That's why a woman should never sing, even in her own aouli.' The women in that gathering agreed unanimously. It's a great sin for a woman to allow a man to hear her sing."

The conviction that women's voices engender sin is not a "long ago, far away" concept. Modern Muslims living in the West discuss, online, the female voice as a source of fitna. Linda Sarsour's voice is allowed to be heard only as long as she is bashing the kufar. Were Sarsour's voice ever used to support the White Wednesday activists in Iran, or potential victims of honor killings, Sarsour would face the same death threats as Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

7.) Many Muslims understand hijab's secondary function as proselytizing for Islam.

Hijab is assessed as an effective way to carry out the Allah-given mission: to spread Islam to all people until no deity is worshipped save Allah (al-Bukhari 8:387). Islam is spread through jihad, but also through "da'wah," or proselytizing. In the article aptly titled, "Hijab Activism," Shaema Imam writes that, "With Hijab, every public moment becomes Dawa." Clothing is used "to demonstrate what groups they belong to … The Ummah must cultivate a distinct identity."

In her article, "The Hijab as Da'wah," Dr. Aisha Hamdan writes, "Many scholars agree that the only reason a Muslim may live in a non-Muslim country is to conduct dawah and bring people to the true religion … In America, where Islam is the fastest growing religion (alhumdullilah), many people are coming to know what this head covering really signifies … The hijab, in effect, is an amazingly powerful tool for dawah … Once a woman begins to wear hijab she completes a large portion of her responsibility for dawah … Each time that she goes to the grocery store, the library, to work, to school, or to any other public place, she is spreading the magnificent message of Islam." One must do this because non-Muslims "are being deluded by Satan and following paths to destruction."

A recent convert to Islam wrote that hijabis "are a walking billboard for your religion … You could be helping open someone's mind to submitting."

In a March 8, 2018 post asking, "Why do Muslim Women Actually Wear the Hijab?" Saulat Pervez wrote, "Conspicuous in their head-coverings, these women have become ambassadors of the Islamic faith."

Misbah Awan wrote in the Huffington Post that "wearing the hijab is a form of dawah … They are targeting … especially youth … It helps to avoid linking Muslims with 9/11 and terrorism. It provides a way of bringing light and warm-hearted thoughts into young minds."

8.) Hijab is kept in place with violence, terror, and intimidation.

Many hijabis insist, stridently, that they don't need to be liberated by anyone, and that hijab is their personal choice. This is no doubt true. What is also true is that hijab is kept in place through violence, terror, and intimidation. No one can ever know if any given hijabi is a hijabi because of her own choice.

Hijab is mandated by law in Saudi Arabia and Iran. In other countries, hijab is kept in place with varying degrees of social pressure, always culminating in death. In Egypt, street harassment of women is routine. In Iran, there have been numerous acid attacks in the midst of calls for punishment of "badly veiled" women.

Aqsa Parvez's father killed her over hijab in Canada in 2007. She was sixteen. Bina, a 21-year-old wife, mother, and Iranian immigrant to Sweden, was killed in 2016 by her husband because she stopped wearing hijab. "'He thought that other people were making fun of him – it was a matter of honor,' said a close friend … a family member said, 'We came here far from oppression, but some people have difficulty living freely.' After he murdered her, Bina’s husband put a hijab on her face and neck." In 2017, a fifteen-year-old Iraqi victim of an honor killing was beheaded. A hijab was wrapped around her decapitated head, which had been thrown into a garbage can.  

Turkish-born, 23-year-old Hatun Surucu, the mother of a little boy, once in Berlin, Germany, "discarded her Islamic head scarf." To her family, "such behavior represented the ultimate shame – the embrace of 'corrupt' Western ways." Hatun was murdered by family members who conspired in her murder, and who said of her, "The whore lived like a German." Her youngest brother, 18, bragged of the murder.

In 2009, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, Mohammad Shafia murdered his three daughters Zainab, Sahar, Geeti – all teens – and Rona, one of his wives. As Michael Friscolanti put it, "the Shafia sisters were caught in the ultimate culture clash, living in Canada but not allowed to be Canadian. They were expected to behave like good Muslim daughters, to wear the hijab and marry a fellow Afghan. And when they rebelled against their father’s 'traditions' and 'customs' – covertly at first, then for all the community to see – the shame became too much to bear. Only a mass execution … could wash away the stain of their secret boyfriends and revealing clothes."

All of these murders, and thousands of others like them, are part of a cultural pattern: honor killings justified with reference to a woman's refusal to wear hijab. For every such honor killing that occurs, there are millions that never happen, but that are hinted at to rebellious daughters, sisters, and wives. You don't want to end up like so-and-so.

9.) Hijab is not intended to, nor does it, create a worldview where women's individuality is valued apart from their physical attractiveness, or where women are seen as anything other than wives, mothers, and whores, all designed to please men, but capable of damning men.

In a January 7, 2016 Daily Show appearance, Muslim activist Dalia Moghed insisted that hijab teaches Muslim women to focus on their own individuality beyond their ability sexually to attract men. That is not the purpose for hijab stated in foundational scriptures. Koran 24:31 advises women wearing hijab not to allow their ornaments to make noise as they walk. That is, it is assumed that a woman in hijab is fully bejeweled underneath her cover. Anyone who has spent any time with hijabis knows that they enter the gender-mixed rooms of parties cloaked in shapeless black from head to foot, but once they are in the area reserved for women, they remove their hijabs to reveal that underneath they are dressed in fashions worthy of the hottest runway. At such parties, women dance competitively with and for other women. The dances are undeniably erotic. YouTube features endless tutorials for hijabis on how to look hot even in hijab. These videos have millions of eager fans who lavish praise on hot hijabi YouTube stars. See for example here, here, here, and here. Linda Sarsour, America's most famous hijabi, is never seen without a full face of makeup.

Hijab manufacturers do not market their products as promoting women's gender-free individuality, but rather as beautiful complements to their physical appearance. One hijab manufacturer says, "In order to build a world where women have beautiful options for every occasion, we’ve designed the standard of luxury for hijab. Crafted from the finest pure silk, tulle and lace opulently adorned with bespoke embellishments, this collection channels timeless elegance." Hijab customers praise their hijabs based on how attractive they are. "Navy is a color I always need with my floral dresses and patterned shirts," and "Beautiful color - Perfect for Fall/Winter!! It goes wonderfully with my dark skin tone and adds elegance to any outfit," and "Such a chic sophisticated color."

Too, Muslim men are quite capable of objectifying women in complete hijab. Dancers at Arab parties may be covered from head to foot, but still required to perform what some call "Arab twerking," a dance that involves highly suggestive movements with the hips and buttocks. Women in full, state-mandated cover have been sexually harassed in Saudi Arabia, including by men who follow them on the street and grab their breasts, buttocks, and groin. Videos of this harassment has been posted to YouTube and sparked public discussion. The Mosque Me Too movement has generated hundreds of accounts of Muslimas being groped, fondled, and violated in the most sacred of spaces, including during the haj. One survivor wrote, "When I visited the Jama Masjid in Delhi, the man lending modest robes to women touched my breasts." Another, "I was ten years old and I thought my sister was gripping my hips as not to lose me in the huge crowd after jumaa prayer. But my sister was next to me and those turned out not to be my sister's hands." Another, "It's a terrible situation when you are in a mosque, in front of the kaaba, where you should feel the closest to God, and the worst thing happens."

Hijab has not solved the problem of the sexual objectification and exploitation of women. It was not designed to.

10.) Hijab's defenders deploy cultural relativism selectively and inaccurately to shield hijab from critique.

"It's just like a nun's habit," they say. No, it's not. Any given nun, from any era, violates several of the criteria for hijab. One can see her face and her hands, one can discern the outline of her form, and one can not only hear her voice, but her voice steers her church. Hildegard von Bingen, Teresa of Avila, Mothers Teresa and Angelica, and Wendy Beckett clearly did not obey hijab's dictates about remaining silently at home, submissive to their earthly spouse. Too, there is no Catholic analog to acid attacks to force women to become nuns.

"It's just a piece of cloth," they say. The Confederate flag is also just a piece of cloth. We must bring the same awareness, honesty, and courage to discussion of hijab that we bring to discussion of the Confederate flag. This discussion is not Islamophobic, any more than discussion of the Confederate flag is "Confederacy-phobic." I speak not for, but with, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Masih Alinejad, and my beloved friend Aisha, who, in spite of the safe house that gave her temporary shelter, in the end, ended up losing so very much that she has never redeemed. The heartbreak – and love – I feel for this rebellious Muslima informs every word of this article. To my liberal friends I say, please expand your concept of "diversity" to include invisible, silenced women you will never meet –  the nameless fifteen-year-old Iraqi girl whose head, wrapped in a hijab, was tossed in a garbage can, Hatun Surucu, the Turkish mother whose relatives called her a whore, and my beloved friend Aisha.

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Photo by Fibonacci Blue

Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars. Her writing has been awarded a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Grant, the PAHA Halecki Award, and others.


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