Saturday, March 2, 2019

Israel’s Three-Front War Scenario - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

The daunting challenges of confronting symmetrical and asymmetrical threats.

With the conclusion of Operation Northern Shield, Israel’s successful effort to locate Hezbollah-constructed cross-border tunnels, Israeli residents of the north can breathe a sigh of relief. In all, six tunnels of various lengths and complexity were uncovered. While a tense calm prevails in the north, there is still no respite for Israel’s southern residents, particularly for those living in the Gaza periphery who must endure kite terror, periodic rocket attacks and daily violent riots along the border.

Adding fuel to the fire, this week the Gazan-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad unveiled a rocket construction/storage facility housing rockets that the group claims can hit Tel Aviv and beyond. The PIJ alleged that the rocket was designed and developed with assistance from Iran demonstrating once again the Islamic Republic’s malign influence on the world stage.

The PIJ and Hamas, the entity that controls the Gaza Strip, share similar goals and ideologies but their tactics somewhat differ. Both groups are funded by Iran but Hamas is the principle orchestrator and instigator of the ritual weekly riots that occur along the border. Hamas is also the principle schemer behind the systematic effort to cause ecological mayhem in Israel’s south using incendiary balloons. As Gaza Strip’s governing entity, Hamas is constrained by political and military realities and is not as ready to deploy its rocket arsenal as its smaller but no less pernicious ally, the PIJ. Hamas prefers to keep tensions simmering in an effort to maintain relevancy but has no interest in sparking another war that it will surely lose.

Israel holds Hamas responsible for all rocket fire emerging from Gaza. Hamas knows this and has been careful to pull the reins on other affiliate militias within Gaza, whether the PIJ, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or some other Salafist group.

Since last March, Israel has had to endure some 1,500 rocket and mortar firings from Gaza. Thanks largely to Iron Dome, Israel’s rocket-intercepting wonder weapon, casualties and property damage have been kept to a minimum. Ironically, the sole fatality during this period was a Palestinian man.

Though Israel’s intelligence community views the prospect of war on any front to be unlikely in the near future, any miscalculation by Israel’s mercurial enemies could conceivably spark a full-scale conflagration. For Israel, the worst case scenario would be three-front war, with Israel facing adversaries in Lebanon, Syrian and Gaza.

Israel’s current strategy is to prevent Iran and its proxy allies from entrenching themselves in Syria thus preemptively negating a third front. The strategy appears to be working thanks to hundreds of precision strikes by Israel against Iranian and Iranian-allied targets in Syria. In an interview with Bret Stephens, the outgoing Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Gadi Eisenkot, acknowledged that in 2018 alone, Israel had dropped more than 2,000 bombs and precision munitions on enemy targets in Syria.

Israel has been relentlessly training for a two-front scenario and its army is quite prepared to deal with this contingency. The strategy in the north would be to seize land and deal Hezbollah a death blow in shock and awe fashion. This is a realistic goal and many within Lebanon and the Arab world at large would like nothing better than to see Hezbollah defanged.

While no one doubts Israel’s ability to succeed militarily, the Jewish State will also have to win the battle of public opinion. Israel’s enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah, have over the years developed a penchant for preying on the sympathies of gullible Western audiences and mobilizing their useful idiot allies within the Western press to garner sympathetic, and often mendacious reporting.

Israel’s fight for the battle of public opinion has been complicated by the appointment of Jamil Jabak as Lebanon’s health minister. Jabak is a Hezbollah stooge and was hand-picked by the group for this position. In any future conflict, Jabak would serve as Hezbollah’s mouthpiece, releasing fictitious civilian casualty figures to the media while conflating and manipulating casualty data.

During the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah lost 800 to 1,000 fighters but tried to obfuscate this fact while at the same time overstated civilian casualties. The group notoriously choreographed elaborate hoaxes for Western media, in which ambulances transporting fake “casualties” were observed circling the block with sirens blaring but apparently going nowhere.

The same hoaxes were perpetrated by Hamas during the Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense and Operation Protective Edge. During these conflicts, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry released fraudulent casualty figures repeated without challenge by many Western media outlets.

The challenges for Israel in terms of winning the battle for public opinion are daunting but certainly not insurmountable. Support for Hamas and Hezbollah has eroded over the years. Just this week, the British parliament voted to remove the fictitious distinction between Hezbollah’s political and military wings and designated the group in its entirety, a terrorist organization. The key for Israel is to act swiftly and decisively to defeat its enemies on the ground. Past experience has shown that world opinion (at least the world opinion that counts) is with Israel in the initial phases of conflict but erodes when it drags on. Israeli leaders are cognizant of this and this will certainly factor into the decision-making process when Israel orders its military to action against its genocidal enemies.  

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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"Deal of the century" or a plan doomed to failure? - Dr. Mordechai Kedar

by Dr. Mordechai Kedar

The Americans are working on a "peace plan" based on the way Americans, not Middle Eastern people, think. And Iranian Minister Zarif's resignation may be a sign of coming Iranian collapse.

The entire Middle East, with baited breath, awaits the unveiling of Trump's Peace Plan, the plan his advisers have been working on for almost two years.

Jared Kushner was interviewed several days ago for UK Sky News in Arabic and expressed the hope that the "deal of the century" would be achieved by using what he called a "new approach," to the Israel-Palestinian Arab conflict.  He said that the plan is an attempt to advance "just and practical solutions" to the various issues at the center of the conflict, while adapting them to the conditions prevailing in 2019. 

He stressed that "The political plan, which is very detailed, is really about establishing borders and resolving final status issues." Kushner expressed the hope that a single Palestinian government would be established and connect Gaza with Judea and Samaria. 

"Although there is geographic discontinuity between  the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, we would like to see them under one leadership. The Palestinians want a non-corrupt government that takes care of their interests."

According to Kushner, the staff "focused on the following four principles that we’ve used in which to create the plan. The first principle is to have freedom. We want people to be able to have the freedom of opportunity, the freedom of religion, the freedom to worship, regardless of your faith."

"Respect: we want all people to have dignity and to respect each other.

"Opportunity: we want people to be able to better their lives and not allow their grandfather’s conflict to hijack their children’s future.

"And the final one is security."

Kushner explained that the "deal of the century" connects economic and political spheres. In his opinion, a lessening of the tensions between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis will stimulate Palestinian economic opportunities, limited up to now by the absence of peace. He is convinced that the economic impact will be felt not only by the Israelis and Palestinians but by the entire region.

"I think that this is a conflict that has been used for many years to rile up extremism. For the last 70 years the unifying principle of the region has been unifying against Israel, but now what we are seeing in this region is that a lot of the unifying principles are the leaders’ love of their people and the leaders’ desire for their people to live a better life."

Citing Iran in particular, he called it the "biggest threat in this region," adding that "everywhere we look where there is destabilisation, where there is terror, where there is rockets, it’s all coming from Iran and their proxies. They are funding a lot of militias, they are funding a lot of terror and that creates instability in the region, which creates refugees, which creates less economic opportunity and that’s really hurting the region."

One important thing that can be learned from Kushner's words is that the Americans are working on a "peace plan" based on the way Americans, not Middle Eastern people, think. For example, take the repeated references to economic issues, leading to the feeling that Americans think they can solve the Israel-Arab conflict by using money, economic success and the good life, which is exactly how America views the world.

So what's the problem? The deal of the century's main flaw is that it is based on the assumption that in 2019, Middle Eastern culture is not the same as it was a century ago, and that the region's nations as well as their rulers, are prepared to accept Israel as a legitimate national entity with the a priori right to exist as a Jewish state or the state of the Jewish people – if Israel gives up Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the settlements. The problem is that this premise is totally wrong, and even those nations who made peace with us do not recognize the Jewish people's right to a state of its own.

Kushner revealed the most serious problem of the "deal of the century" and that is the establishment of a Palestinian State. Democracy will be the political game of this state because Americans do not recognize any other form of government. In order to be democratic to the end, the Jihad, Hamas and Islamic Jihad will be allowed to run in Palestinian elections and possibly win a majority of the seats in the Palestinian parliament.

That is exactly what happened in the elections that took place in January 2006. Alternatively, those parties could stage a violent takeover, which is what happened in Gaza in June 2007. To rephrase, the US is trying to establish a state which may end up run by Hamas-Jihad, because not one American soldier is going to come over here to free Israel from the Jihadist nightmare to be played out in Judea and Samaria, a continuation – "under one leadership," as Kushner said – of the Jihad state that took over Gaza.

This kind of "peace" is the sure road to war, because Israel has learned a bitter lesson from what occurred in Gaza and cannot allow a similar scene in the hills of Judea and Samaria. Israeli retreat from the high ground and the establishment of a Palestinian state will soon bring the IDF back to those places in order to destroy the Palestinian terror state before it destroys Israel.

Past reports indicate that the "deal of the century" is a long document of over 200 pages. Even if that is true, the entire plan will be a dismal failure if it attempts to establish a Palestinian state on the hills of Judea and Samaria. Any responsible government will not allow the establishment or existence of such a state because of the distinct possibility of its becoming another Hamastan.

If Trump's plan includes the establishment of one Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, there is no way to avoid the depressing conclusion that it will join the ranks of the tens of plans suggested by former well-meaning US presidents.  All these dust-covered plans can be found on the American Peace Plans shelf. Excellent and praiseworthy for their good intentions, they all share the basic flaw of not relating to the unique culture of the Middle East.  

Zarif's resignation

Jawad Zarif is seen as a strange bird by much of the higher Iranian governmental echelons, this since the early days of his appointment to the post of Foreign Minister.  His doctorate in International Law is from Denver, Colorado and his English is flawless, his dress Western, his body language vaguely American. Many of the Iranian members of parliament and politicians consider him somewhat ridiculous for attempting to bridge the gap between Iranian Islamic culture and the modern Western culture with which he is in constant contact.

He was the Iranian architect of the Nuclear Agreement which Obama pressured to complete at all costs, despite the anger of hard line Iranians who wanted to accelerate – not freeze – efforts to produce an atom bomb and not capitulate to the demands of world powers to cease its manufacture.  These hardliners are still pressuring to continue development of ballistic missiles that can threaten all of Europe, including the British Isles, whose geographic solitude has survived the centuries.

Zarif, however, failed badly and America's withdrawal from the Nuclear Agreement left him without the weapons that would enable him to defend his achievements. He has lost the last shreds of legitimacy in President Rouhani's eyes.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the fact that Zarif was not invited to be among those who welcomed Bashar Assad during his hurried visit to Teheran this week. Zarif's absence was obvious and the intentional insult he suffered from the organizers of the event was too blatant, too stinging and too important to ignore – so he resigned.  

If those in charge of Zarif do not accept his resignation he will remain in his position until someone is found to replace him.

Zarif, however, is not alone and not the first minister to resign of late. The health minister resigned a month ago, due to the lack of medicines caused by the international sanctions against Iran. It looks as though the resignations of Iranian ministers are a result of the feeling that the days of the gang of ayatollahs running the country are numbered, and that the Middle East is about to undergo a total change after Iran collapses internally and is redivided along ethnic lines – as were the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia.

This feeling of an impending apocalypse can be found among the many expatriate Iranian opposition groups, who have mostly spent the last forty years fighting and weakening one another instead of fighting the Iranian regime. The past few months have seen these organizations begin to consolidate in pursuit of the same objective: ridding Iran of the Ayatollahs'  rule.

What is to happen next? That can be dealt with in the future. Right now there is only the goal of bringing down the government, allowing them to put their conflicting agendas aside and concentrate on that common denominator.    

It is from this forum that I, and surely you as well, my dear readers, wish for a speedy emancipation for the oppressed and persecuted people forced to live under the yoke of the ayatollahs. Their deliverance is also the world's.

Written in Hebrew for  Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky.

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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Virginia Democrats Elect Their First Islamist Anti-Semite - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

How the Dems are mainstreaming the worst kinds of Jew-Hate.

While Virginia Democrats were debating whether to oust Governor Northam for wearing blackface, Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax over alleged rape and Attorney General Mark Herring for also wearing blackface, a much more blatant example of contemporary bigotry by a Virginia Democrat had come to light.

It received virtually no coverage by the media.

Ibraheem Samirah, running in a special election for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, had his social media history exposed. Aside from the usual rants about Israel, Samirah had posted that the Jews had stolen his grandfather’s land and “washed off as the Promised Land for Jews only (using the Torah and Zionist ideology, a 3000 yo religious book and a 100 yo Jew-only philosophy.)”

Samirah’s hatred for Israel wasn’t news. The Jordanian Muslim BDS activist had co-founded a chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (a misnamed pro-terrorist hate group that is neither peaceful nor Jewish), had served as a spokesman for Students for Justice in Palestine, a hate group whose chapters had been involved in numerous anti-Semitic incidents ranging from hate speech to acts of violence, and had spoken at an American Muslims for Palestine conference: an organization accused of supporting Hamas.

But in his 2014 Facebook post, Ibraheem Samirah had trafficked in blatant anti-Semitism, attacking not only Israel, but Judaism and Jews. And had received a pass for his anti-Semitism from Virginia Dems.

Democrats stuck by Samirah and he won with 59% of the vote making him the second Muslim in the Virginia House of Delegates, beating out Gregg Nelson, an Air Force vet who had condemned Samirah’s anti-Semitism. “Racism has no place in our Commonwealth,” Nelson said.

Ibraheem Samirah and his fellow Democrats proved him wrong.

But there are even bigger problems with Samirah than an anti-Semitic post from 2014 whose hateful attacks on Jews and Jewish people he had dismissed in his ‘apology’ as merely “ill-chosen words”.

To understand the true nature of the anti-Semitism being mainstreamed by the Democrats, we have to go back to a field trip by a class of seventh and eighth grade girls in the spring of 1997.

The Island of Peace was territory that Israel had gifted to Jordan in a peace treaty. And that Jordan had agreed to lease back to Israel (before it broke that agreement last year).

On a warm spring day, the high school girls had come to see peace in action.

Instead they were gunned down by Ahmad Daqamseh: a Jordanian soldier wielding an M-16.

Seven Jewish teenage girls, 13 and 14 years old, were murdered in cold blood while they were looking at the bright flowers blooming on the formerly Israeli island.

The Muslim terrorist chased the girls as they ran and fired at their heads at close range.

"I saw a girl who was hit in the shoulder. She rolled over in the bushes and stopped breathing," a 14-year-old survivor described.

While the deceased King Hussein’s publicity stunt of meeting with the families has eclipsed what followed, other Jordanian soldiers failed to stop him until he was no longer shooting. They assaulted one of the teachers and waited 40 minutes before letting Israeli ambulances in to care for the wounded girls.

The dead included Karen Cohen, 14, who couldn’t wait for her new baby sister to be born, Natali Alkalai, 13, who had enjoyed helping the elderly, Shiri Badayev, 14, who had escaped with her parents to Israel from Muslim Uzbekistan , Sivan Fathi, 13, who enjoyed playing basketball, Yala Meiri, 13, who lost her father to cancer and rescued stray dogs, and Adi Malka, 13, who had helped her deaf-mute parents communicate with the world.

Ahmad Daqamseh was sent to prison and became a hero and role model to millions of Jordanians.

His most vocal supporters were Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamic Action Front, the local political branch of the Islamist movement, turned the murderer of 7 Jewish girls into a celebrity.

And when the murderer was released, the Brotherhood party declared, “We congratulate Jordan and the family of the hero Ahmad al Daqmaseh on his release from prison."

The Muslim Brotherhood believes that murdering Jewish 13-year-old girls makes you a hero.

In 2017, Dima Tahboub, the spokeswoman for the Islamic Action Front, was asked about the movement’s support for murdering Jewish teenage girls.

“You’re a mother. And you’re quite happy to have 13 and 14 year old girls, just because they are Israelis, killed? Unprotected children, killed?”

“Because they are enemies, they are enemies,” she replied.

Another spokesman for the Islamic Action Front was Ibraheem Samirah’s father.

Sabri Samirah had chaired the Islamic Association for Palestine, a Hamas offshoot. The IAP had published material on its website cheering attacks on America before 9/11.

Sabri had come to the United States on a student visa before losing his legal status. After he left to visit his native Jordan, he was banned from returning in 2003 as a "security risk to the United States".

Under Obama, he, along with other Islamists, was allowed to reenter the United States and took a leading role in Brotherhood groups while still running for public office in Jordan under a Muslim Brotherhood umbrella group.

During his time in Jordan, Al Jazeera described Sabri as a “leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan”. He had also been described as a spokesman for the Islamic Action Front.

Ibraheem Samirah had called his father as a role model who inspired his “Palestinian” activism. His own statements suggest that he identifies with the Muslim Brotherhood.

When Ibraheem was elected, Sabri appeared to post on his Facebook page that his son and Rep. Omar had been attacked over anti-Semitism and that the Democrats were trying to please their Jewish electoral base. During the race, Sabri had been highly active on social media in support of his son.

Anti-Semitism had won in Virginia.

While the media condemned Governor Northam for wearing blackface thirty-four years ago, it gave the anti-Semitism and radicalism of Virginia’s newest Democrat a pass.

In the nineties, a year before the Islamic of Peace massacre, the Islamic Action Front had sent a threat to the U.S. Embassy in Jordan over the detention of a Hamas figure.

"If you hand him over to the Jews, we will turn the ground upside down over your heads," it warned.

"You will lament your dead just as we did to you in Lebanon in 1982 when we destroyed the Marine House with a boobytrapped car, and there are plenty of cars in our country. You also still remember the oil tanker with which we blew up your soldiers in Saudi Arabia."

As Americans continue to lament our dead at the hands of Islamic terrorists, the son of the spokesperson for the Islamic Action Front has become an elected Democrat official in Virginia.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.


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Video: Activists Take Over Colorado Education - Sean Fitzgerald

by Sean Fitzgerald

A new bill seeks to hand over children's education to radical leftists.

Editor's note: Below is Sean Fitzgerald's new video, "Activists Take Over Colorado Education." The video was created in conjunction with the Freedom Center's Stop K-12 Indoctrination campaign. To read our new pamphlet on this issue, "Leftist Indoctrination in Our K-12 Public Schools," click here or order your own copy here.

Sean Fitzgerald is a graduate of John Jay College with a Degree in Criminal Justice and Film. He is the owner and content creator for


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An Ad For Coca-Cola, and For Islam - Hugh Fitzgerald

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The clever mendacity of this advertisement deserves to be examined.

Above is the Coca-Cola ad for Ramadan 2018. It’s a remarkable performance, and I’ve tried to give it the attention it deserves. It lasts for 2:14.

We open to a scene of an obnubilated sky (0:00-0:09); it’s early morning in the outskirts of a city. At 0:10, a pretty young woman, veiled and covered from head to foot, appears. The sun is beating down, but nonetheless, she must stay covered. She is seen running to catch a bus (0:11-0-15), but just as she is about to reach the door, the bus pulls away at 0:16. A look of anguish passes over her. (0:20-0:21). Now she must walk into town, quite a distance, and we see her walking under that pitiless sun, clearly suffering. For her faith. (0:21-0:24) She is now in town, we see from the a crowd of pedestrians around her. As she walks, she has brief encounters with various Infidels, all of them disturbing. At 0:27 she passes people eating — a hard thing for a Ramadan observer to bear. Couldn’t these people eat indoors? may be her fleeting thought. But she will remain strong. A girl who is coming from the the other direction gives her a nasty look as she passes (0:31) Headshot of determined Muslim girl: she will go on! (0:32). Then a young man brushes by her, knocking — it seems deliberately — against her shoulder (0:33-0:34). She keeps walking, persevering in her righteousness. At 0:36, a middle-aged besuited man walks past her and gives her a hostile look. Yet again! She is then seen walking down some steps, where two girls sitting on those steps. As soon as she passes them, one of the girls pulls her hood over her head (0:40), cruelly mocking the hijabbed Muslim girl, and she and the other girl laugh at their unfunny joke. (0:41-0:42).The Muslimah pays no attention.

At this point (0:42) a pretty ponytailed Western jogger appears, in headband and running suit. She glances briefly, it seems, over at the Muslim girl (whom we do not see), and then goes up to the Coca-Cola stand, all bright and shining, where she orders one bottle of Coke from a bearded young man at 0:44. Then we see the Muslim girl, still with that look of anguish on her face (apparently Ramadan is quite an ordeal, to judge by the girl’s expression of agony throughout until she can, at the end, break her fast with a Coke). At 0:45, the jogger looks back at the Muslim girl, a concerned expression on her face. At 0:46, a close-up of the Muslimah’s anguished noble face. At 0:47-0:48 the jogger, clasping her bottle of Coke, looks over at the Muslim girl and, concerned, orders a second bottle of Coke for her. At 0:50, the Muslim girl, still with that anguished expression, moves toward the parapet. At 0:52, a close-up shows her eyes half-closed in anguish. At 0:53, the jogger looks over, while she is being handed a second bottle of Coke, at the Muslim girl. At 0:55, the jogger takes the second bottle; she is now smiling. At 0:56, she starts to walk, a smile on her face, holding the two bottles of Coke, over to the Muslim girl. The Muslim girl’s face is shown, still reflecting psychic pain. (0:57-0:58) She moves to the parapet, wheres she unwraps from what looks like a napkin two dates (1:00-1:01), to be eaten later, at the end of the fast. We see her troubled silhouette at 1:02-1:04. The jogger comes over to the parapet. (1:05) At 1:06, we see  two bottles of Coke. At 1:07, the Muslim girl looks over at the two bottles of Coke, and thinks. Can she? Should she?

At 1:10, each girl takes hold of one of the bottles. At 1:11, the Muslim girl is still thinking. At 1:13, the Muslim girl smiles gratefully, looks over at the jogger, but she cannot — the smile suggests — accept. At 1:14-1:15  is a shot of the hands of both girls, each holding a bottle of Coke. At 1:16, the jogger looks over at the Muslim girl and gives a quizzical look — why aren’t you drinking? At 1:17, both girls are seen in silhouette, both thinking. At 1:18, the jogger puts her bottle to her lips. She holds it there, but without drinking, until at 1:24 she puts the bottle back down. She seems to now have had her epiphany; it wouldn’t be right to drink in front of an obviously parched Muslim. And that’s a lesson for all of us. At 1:26 we have a shot of the two Coca-Cola bottles. At 1:28, both girls lean over the parapet, looking out over the city. At 1:29, the Muslim looks over at the jogger. From 1:30-1:34, the Muslim girl slowly develops a shy smile. At 1:35, a shot of both girls, looking over the parapet again. From 1:35 to 1:41, we see the real stars of this video, the two bottles of Coke. At 1:41-1:42, the jogger is seen in sihouette. At 1:50, the sky suddenly darkens — at last, sundown has come. It only takes a second, apparently, and the Muslim girl now raises the bottle. They both can enjoy their Cokes. A cooling wind is suddenly blowing, too. Clearly all nature is refreshed. The Muslim girl puts the bottle to her lips and keeps drinking until 1:57, when she puts the bottle down. At 1:59, there’s a shot from the rear, as the jogger faces her new friend. A friendship has been formed, as only friendships can, when bottles of cold Coca-Cola are being consumed.

Shyly, the Muslim girl hands her new friend, who offered her hope not hate, one of the two dates she had been saving to eat when she finally could break her fast. At 2:02-2:03, they both eat their dates. At 2:07, we see the two girls, now fast friends, in silhouette, and above them, a bright circle appears in the sky; it’s the Coca-Cola logo, promising heavenly bliss. A thin white Muslim crescent envelops two thirds of it. At 2:06 the Muslim is smiling, happy. At 2:12, four lamps in the Muslim mosque style drop down from the sky. Look closely at them, because the light in each one is in the discernible shape of a Coca-Cola bottle. The girls continue to lean over the parapet, drinking their cokes, eating their dates. It’s a wonderful world. On the screen these words appear: “What Unites Us Is Bigger Than What Divides Us.” And then: “Taste the Feeling.”

There are several themes here. One is of the brave, long-suffering Muslim girl, who has managed to withstand all temptations until after sunset, when at long last she drinks her Coke and eats her date. A second is of the sheer malignity she must endure from Infidels, from the young woman who gives her a nasty look, to the young man who knocks into her, to the older man who passes her with an expression of clear disapproval, to the two young girls who cruelly mock her hijab. It is not until she finds her friend, the jogger, that her calvary ends.

What should a good Infidel do during Ramadan? Do what the jogger did. Don’t drink in front of those who are fasting. Show sympathy. Offer them something, but make sure you do so only after sundown. For What Unites Us — in this case, Coca-Cola, that wonder-working elixir — will overwhelm What Divides Us (those dirty looks, that deliberate shove, that completely uncalled-for mocking of the hijab). Muslims are always ready for friendship, like this noble girl suffering for her faith. It’s we who need lessons in decency and true tolerance.

The clever mendacity of this advertisement deserves to be examined. It’s having its effect. So far it has been seen by more than 3 million visitors at YouTube. So take a look; see, in slow motion, just how they convey their message, both for Coca-Cola and for Islam. You may even conclude from this ad, as I have, that Nothing Goes Better With Coke.

Hugh Fitzgerald


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Unrest on the Temple Mount: Why now? - Rachel Avraham

by Rachel Avraham

foreign governments are trying to buy their way into Jerusalem

After a weekend of unrest at the Temple Mount and the arrest and subsequent release of two waqf officials, an anonymous Palestinian source has indicated that the recent escalation of violence in Jerusalem is connected to the addition of seven new members to the waqf who are affiliated with the Palestinian Authority and not the Jordanian government.  The new members were added after Jordan announced that it no longer wants to have exclusive control over the waqf.  While Jordan attributes this to a desire for Muslim unity, the source claims that foreign governments are trying to buy their way into Jerusalem and that Jordan is violating the status quo by letting the PA come into the picture.

Among the new members of the waqf are top PA and Palestine Liberation Organization officials Hatem Abdul Qader (a former member of the Palestinian Legislative Council) and Adnan al-Husayni (a member of the PLO Executive Committee, PA minister for Jerusalem affairs and former governor of Jerusalem). Jerusalem Grand Mufti Muhammad Ahmad Hussein and Al Quds University President Dr. Imad Abu Kishek, both of whom were appointed to their positions by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, are also now members of the waqf. In addition, Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, whose opinions are known to be extreme and who is linked to the Turkish government, was made a member of the waqf by the Jordanian government.

According to the source, these appointments came at the same time that waqf land is being leased to Palestinian nongovernmental organizations sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and the Palestine Investment Fund in order to build schools and playgrounds such as one in Sheikh Jarrah that was built on the same plot of land where an IDF memorial is located.  The source warned that the monument was in danger of being desecrated and that any works intended might be a trigger for instability and violence.

Of course, the PA is not alone in this game.  The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency, known as TIKA, is also increasingly buying properties in east Jerusalem.  Former Israeli Consul General Dr. Yitzhak Ben Gad noted: "Erdo─čanis an Islamist and he is also trying to change the situation on the Temple Mount."

In the wake of these developments, following both Turkey's and the PA's increased control over east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, Fatah is utilizing its power to "stir up and escalate the situation."

Itamar Marcus, founder and director of Palestinian Media Watch, warned that the Israeli people should expect more violence in the immediate future following this development. "Abbas, whenever he is in trouble politically, even internally, he tries to incite conflict connected to the Temple Mount as a way of putting himself center stage and presenting himself as a fighter for Al-Aqsa. There has been intense incitement over Al-Aqsa for the past few weeks. It could be that what happened just now was directed from Abbas, who is in need of something to improve himself internally."

According to the anonymous source, the status of the Gate of Mercy was not the real reason for the escalation: "It is only an excuse for the new Fatah-influenced waqf." The source added that the Israeli election was also not the real reason for the recent escalation of violence.

According to Marcus, in the wake of Israel's decision to deduct half a billion shekels from the money that it transfers to the Palestinian Authority (the amount of money used to reward terrorists and their families), Abbas is in such a bad financial situation that "he does not know where to turn." Abbas is not only desperate because of the reduction in tax revenues but also wants to ensure that U.S. President Donald Trump's "deal of the century" will never see the light of day. He wants the world community to focus more on the Palestinian issue and less on building a coalition against Iran as envisioned at the recent Warsaw Ministerial.

Marcus noted that previously, when Abbas was desperate to put the Palestinian issue back on the map, he turned to incitement and violence as his way out: "He would use the Jerusalem issue to get the Palestinians to resort to violence. Abbas would tell the Israelis and the U.N. that the violence was because Israel stole its money and that if it wanted the violence to stop, Israel must cancel its deductions from the taxpayers. The message to the people is that you have to fight for the Temple Mount."

Reportedly, due to Abbas' reaction to Israel's latest anti-terror measures, his popularity on the Palestinian street has already risen. Many Palestinians are now volunteering to pay the terrorists' salaries, inspired by Abbas's hard-line stance on this issue.  This development came after "Riad Malki, the PA foreign minister, said that he notified Israel that he will not accept any money transfer if Israel has deducted anything from it.  That means that the PA won't be able to pay salaries and that there will be major cuts." According to Marcus, such a decision will eventually lead to violence: "These kinds of euphemisms happen always before an explosion. This is what Abbas wants."

Noted Middle East scholar Dr. Mordechai Kedar noted that the Temple Mount has always been a battleground for all kinds of organizations and states. He claimed that there was a major struggle within the waqf "between the Muslim Brotherhood and those supporting Arab statehood." Israel supported Jordan, according to Kedar, because Israelis perceived them to be opposed to the "Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Movement in Israel, Hamas, the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir, which has a strong presence in Jerusalem, and other Islamist groups that wanted to radicalize the people against Israel. They viewed Jordan as a state that could bring some stability.  All of these groups are not a partner for Israel. It was much easier for Israel to maintain law and order when the orders came from Amman rather than Hamas or the Islamic Movement.  However, now there is a regime in Jordan that is delegating authority to the PA.  Given this, Israel should not compromise its sovereignty further."

As Ben Gad noted, "Jordan does not have the right to hand over authority."

Rachel Avraham is the president of the Dona Gracia Mendes Nasi Center for Human Rights and a political analyst at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research and Public Relations.

Rachel Avraham


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Palestinians: Marching Backwards as Israel Prepares for Elections - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

The only way for the Palestinians to move forward is by protesting against their failed leaders in the PA and Hamas. Many Palestinians, however, are afraid to speak out against their rulers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

  • Instead of marching Palestinians towards democracy, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas have chosen the model of totalitarianism as a way of governing their people. The pro-Abbas demonstrations organized by Fatah in the West Bank are reminiscent of dictatorships in the Arab world that send their loyalists to the streets to voice support for the ruler. The Hamas-sponsored anti-Abbas demonstrations in the Gaza Strip will not solve any of the crises facing the Palestinians there. These protests are Hamas's way of distracting attention from its failure to improve the living conditions of the people living under its repressive regime.
  • The only way for the Palestinians to move forward is by protesting against their failed leaders in the PA and Hamas. Many Palestinians, however, are afraid to speak out against their rulers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Why would any Palestinian speak out against Abbas when the PA arrests and harasses those who even dare to post critical remarks on Facebook? Why would any Palestinian in the Gaza Strip criticize Hamas when he or she knows that this would endanger their lives?
  • On April 9, Israelis will again celebrate democracy by voting in a free and democratic election. The Palestinians, meanwhile, will mark another year of dictatorship and failed leadership, and will continue to dream about heading to any ballot box at all.

Since its inception in 1994, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has held only two elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC): the first in 1996 and the second in 2006. The PLC is elected for four years only, but political rivalries among Palestinian factions have blocked any agreement on holding the vote on time. Pictured: The PLC building in Ramallah on January 28, 2006, three days after its last election. (Photo by Zharan Hammad/Getty Images)

Israelis are scheduled to head to the ballot boxes on April 9 to vote for a new parliament (Knesset). This will be the fifth general election in Israel since 2006.

The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, on the other hand, have, since 2006, failed to hold a single election for their parliament, known as the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

Since its inception in 1994, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has held only two legislative elections: the first in 1996 and the second in 2006. The PLC is elected for four years only, but political rivalries among Palestinian factions have blocked any agreement on holding the vote on time.

Since 1994, the Palestinians have also held only two presidential elections: the first in 1996 and the second in 2005. Yasser Arafat won the first election with 88.2% of the vote. His only opponent was a Samiha Khalil, a prominent female charity worker, who got only 11.5% of the vote.

Mahmoud Abbas won the second presidential election, which took place on January 9, 2005. After winning 62% of the vote, he was elected to a four-year term as the new president of the PA. The 83-year-old Abbas was one of seven candidates who ran in the election.

Israel has held seven general elections since the establishment of the PA in 1994, and has since elected five prime ministers: Shimon Peres, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. The Palestinians, by contrast, have only elected two presidents in the past 25 years: Arafat and Abbas.

At this stage, it seems unclear whether the Palestinians will manage to hold the long-overdue presidential and parliamentary elections. Abbas has just entered his 15th year of his four-year-term, while the Palestinian parliament has been inoperative since 2007, the year Hamas violently seized control of the Gaza Strip.

Abbas recently decided to dissolve the Palestinian parliament. His decision drew sharp criticism from several Palestinian groups, including Hamas. Abbas's political rivals have condemned his move as "illegal and unconstitutional." Abbas says he wants to hold new elections for the parliament and has instructed his government and the Palestinian Central Elections Committee to start preparing for the vote.

It is anyone's guess as to how Abbas will hold parliamentary elections when Hamas and other Palestinian groups are saying that they will boycott the vote. Under the current circumstances, Abbas may have to hold the elections solely in the territories under the control of his PA in the West Bank, and not the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

What is mainly blocking the Palestinians from holding presidential and parliamentary elections is the continued dispute between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas. ّّIt does not appear that the falling-out/disagreement has run its course. Repeated attempts in the past 13 years by several Arab countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to reach "reconciliation agreements" between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have thus far fallen flat.

In recent weeks, the rivalry between Fatah and Hamas has intensified to a point where they have begun waging street- and online campaigns to discredit each other.

A Hamas-sponsored campaign is calling for the ouster of Abbas on the pretext that he is no longer considered a rightful and legitimate leader because his term in office expired in 2009. Thousands of Palestinians have taken to the streets in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip to protest against Abbas and demand that he be removed from power in the Fatah-run West Bank. The protests are being held under the banner: "Go Away!" The anti-Abbas protesters are particularly angry with the PA president because of the sanctions he imposed on the Gaza Strip more than a year ago. These include cutting salaries to thousands of Palestinians and refusing to pay Israel for fuel and electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip.

Fatah loyalists in the West Bank have launched a counter-campaign in support of their president, Mahmoud Abbas. In the past week, Fatah organized several pro-Abbas rallies in several West Bank cities under the banner: "You Represent Me" and "We Chose You." The pro-Abbas demonstrators are also castigating Hamas for its continued rule over the Gaza Strip and its refusal to allow the PA government to assume its responsibilities there.

The demonstrations, both in favor of and against Abbas, are yet another sign of the deepening crisis between Fatah and Hamas, the main players in the Palestinian arena. The two parties are also accusing each other of arresting and torturing each other's supporters. Last week, Fatah claimed that Hamas has arrested more than 100 Fatah members in the Gaza Strip for their role in organizing pro-Abbas rallies there. Hamas, for its part, says that hardly a day passes without the PA arresting several of its supporters and members in the West Bank.

Fatah says it would be impossible to hold fair and free elections in the Gaza Strip at a time when Hamas is arresting and torturing Fatah activists and other political opponents there. Similarly, Hamas says it would be impossible to hold free and democratic elections in the West Bank at a time when Abbas's security forces are continuing their crackdown on Hamas members and supporters there.

Let the world take note: the two-state solution has been realized in the Middle East. The Palestinians have ended up with two separate mini-states of their own. These mini-states have been at war with each other since 2007. The leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas cannot agree on anything, not even on daylight savings time. If the PA says that daylight savings time ends on a specific day, Hamas rejects the decision and chooses another day, creating two different time zones for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

If the PA and Hamas cannot agree on the time of day, it takes little imagination to understand that they cannot agree on guaranteeing the Palestinians the right to have democratic and free elections.

Once again, Palestinians are left to sit back and watch with envy how Israelis prepare for their upcoming general elections while the PA and Hamas continue slinging mud at each other rather than leading the Palestinian people.

For now, it appears that neither the Palestinian Authority nor Hamas is interested in holding presidential and legislative elections. The two parties feel comfortable with the status quo; the PA and Abbas are the unchallenged rulers of parts of the West Bank and they see no reason why they should risk holding an election that could result in a Hamas victory. Hamas, for its part, is comfortable with its exclusive control of the two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip and sees no reason why it should allow Palestinians to practice their right to elect new leaders.

Instead of marching Palestinians towards democracy, the PA and Hamas have chosen the model of totalitarianism as a way of governing their people. The pro-Abbas demonstrations organized by Fatah in the West Bank are reminiscent of dictatorships in the Arab world that send their loyalists to the streets to voice support for the ruler. The Hamas-sponsored anti-Abbas demonstrations in the Gaza Strip will not solve any of the crises facing the Palestinians there. These protests are Hamas's way of distracting attention from its failure to improve the living conditions of the people under its repressive regime.

The only way for the Palestinians to move forward is by protesting against their failed leaders in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Many Palestinians, however, are afraid to speak out against their rulers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Why would any Palestinian speak out against Abbas when the PA arrests and harasses those who even dare to post critical remarks on Facebook? Why would any Palestinian in the Gaza Strip criticize Hamas when he or she knows that this would endanger their lives?

On April 9, Israelis will again celebrate democracy by voting in a free and democratic election. The Palestinians, meanwhile, will mark another year of dictatorship and failed leadership, and will continue to dream about heading to any ballot box at all.
  • Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.


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The United Church of Christ Wrongfully Attacks Israel - Denis MacEoin

by Denis MacEoin

-- factual errors, which take up so much of the text, are clearly the result of conscious assumptions that have never been checked against reputable facts.

  • Mistakes and falsehoods such as those we encounter throughout the UCC's misnamed guide to "Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel", each one seemingly trivial, cannot be dismissed as the results of a moment's inattention. Much effort has gone into the writing of this Guide, and factual errors, which take up so much of the text, are clearly the result of conscious assumptions that have never been checked against reputable facts.
  • If a body of Christians really cares about Palestinian lives, Muslim and Christian alike, not to mention the lives of Israeli children, the lives of everyone on either side, then supporting an illegal and fanatical use of violence by telling lies and permitting distortions in order to incite an anti-Semitic hatred that will embolden and activate further terrorist attacks is beyond measure a contradiction of normative Christian ethics.
  • The UCC cannot continue to assert its association with Jesus Christ, a man of peace, when they so openly espouse the cause of Palestinian resistance that embraces violence as a solution above any form of peace-making. Jesus said "Blessed be the peace-makers", yet here is a Christian church that blesses men of violence.
The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a shrinking Christian denomination mainly active in the United States, and "perhaps the most liberal of the Mainline Protestant American denominations". With just under a million members and 5,000 churches (down from two million members and 7,000 churches in 1957, when it was founded), it still has prominent congregations in the heartland of the American Congregationalist movements, in states such as Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Although the UCC's membership has included many US governors, senators, Supreme Court Justices such as William H. Rehnquist; some outstanding theologians such as H. Richard Niebuhr, his older brother Reinhold, and Paul Tillich; and several writers, and academics, it is, however, best known today as the church that U.S. President Barack Obama attended for twenty years between 1988 and 2008. For all that time, it was his spiritual home: "Trinity was where I found Jesus Christ, where we were married, where our children were baptized." He attended Trinity UCC in Chicago, with the largest of the denomination's congregations, some 10,000 members. Trinity UCC is a black or "Afrocentric" church that bases itself on the pursuit of love and justice. Its black congregation stands out as different from the wider UCC's mainly white membership.

Obama's "close spiritual advisor" in the church was none other than its senior pastor, Jeremiah Alvesta Wright Jr., who served as pastor there from 1972 to 2008. Wright was not merely a radical, but apparently believed and "preached anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, advocated bizarre pseudo-scientific racial ideas, opposed interracial marriage, praised communist dictatorships, denounced black 'assimilation' ... and really believed that HIV/AIDS was created by the American government to kill black people."

As if this were not enough, Wright harboured deep anti-American beliefs. In a sermon delivered on September 16, 2001, entitled, "The Day of Jerusalem's Fall," Wright appeared to celebrate white America's suffering:
"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye... We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."
It is clear that Jeremiah Wright has a strange understanding of love and justice. And it is also disconcerting that Obama spent twenty years attending his sermons and called him a close spiritual mentor. Perhaps Trinity Church and Pastor Wright are aberrations in the belief and practice of the United Church of Christ as a whole. It could well be that other churches within the denomination are milder in their views and affiliations. On one topic, however, there is clear unanimity between Wright and the wider church. That topic is the Palestinians and Israel. It is there in the above-quoted statement by Wright: "We supported state terrorism against the Palestinians...."

It is even more evident in a speech given by Wright in 2015, in which he declared without blushing that "Jesus was a Palestinian". He also compared young black men and women in Ferguson with the young men and women in "Palestine".

This and other statements were delivered at a Nation of Islam event in Washington D.C. Speaking of the Black Lives Matter movement, Wright said:
"The same issue is being fought today and has been fought since 1948, and historians are carried back to the 19th century ... when the original people, the Palestinians — and please remember, Jesus was a Palestinian — the Palestinian people had the Europeans come and take their country."
The speech was, in short, a farrago of counter-historical nonsense. He said further, citing the modish notion of intersectionality:
"The youth in Ferguson and the youth in Palestine have united together to remind us that the dots need to be connected. And what Dr. King said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, has implications for us as we stand beside our Palestinian brothers and sisters, who have been done one of the most egregious injustices in the 20th and 21st centuries."
Really? More egregious than Cambodia or Maoist China or the Jewish Holocaust or Stalinist Russia?

He then went on to condemn Israel as an "apartheid state", and repeated one of the most ubiquitous lies in modern history:
"As we sit here, there is an apartheid wall being built twice the size of the Berlin Wall in height, keeping Palestinians off of illegally occupied territories, where the Europeans have claimed that land as their own. Palestinians are saying 'Palestinian lives matter.' We stand with you, we support you, we say God bless you."
It is hardly a secret that former US President Barack Obama held the state of Israel in low esteem and disliked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It takes only a small leap of the imagination to attribute that dislike for the state and its leader to the sermons of Jeremiah Wright. In addition, it seems possible that Obama's anti-Israel stance derived from his close relations with the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam and his earlier experience as a nominally Muslim child in Indonesia.

In addition, it appears that "Obama was 'part of the Chicago scene' where [Louis] Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. and radicals would go to each other's events and support each other's causes."

Newsmax reports:
"A former top deputy to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan tells Newsmax that Barack Obama's ties to the black nationalist movement in Chicago run deep, and that for many years the two men have had 'an open line between them' to discuss policy and strategy, either directly or through intermediaries.
"'Remember that for years, if you were a politician in Chicago, you had to have some type of relationship with Louis Farrakhan. You had to. If you didn't, you would be ostracized out of black Chicago,' said Dr. Vibert White Jr., who spent most of his adult life as a member and ultimately top officer of the Nation of Islam."
Here again, the question arises: was this anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel current simply a part of black Chicago radicalism or did it pervade the UCC as a whole?

The answer can be found in two overwhelming votes passed on Boycotts Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) and Israel-apartheid resolutions by the church on June 30, 2015. According to the New York Times:
"Approval came at the church's general synod in Cleveland, where delegates voted 508 to 124 in favor of divestment and boycott, with 38 abstentions. It was one of two resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict debated by the church, which has about one million members and more than 5,000 congregations nationwide."
A second resolution, condemning Israel as a supposedly "apartheid" state received fewer votes (51.4%) and did not pass, but its presence at the synod said a great deal.

There is a final irony here, and it makes matters worse. On the one hand, the UCC shows itself to be profoundly anti-Semitic. Not only do they hold a supersessionist view of Jews and Judaism, but their startling double standards towards Israel fall foul of the international definition of anti-Semitism in the modern age - and at a time when a new anti-Semitism is rising rapidly in Europe and elsewhere.

On the other hand, the UCC loves Muslims and goes out of its way to support them. Of course, there is nothing wrong with befriending others or supporting them when they are subjected to discrimination. Several of the church's online pages make a point of this (for example here and here and here).

According to a June 8, 2016 report by the UCC:
This interfaith Ramadan campaign, a celebration of solidarity, is the result of a partnership between representatives from the Northwest Chapter of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ, and denominational leaders. UCC churches, to honor Muslim neighbors' Ramadan commitments, have been invited to do three simple things during this holy month:
1) Hang a banner or change their message boards in a way that honors our Muslim neighbors.
2) Take time to make an appointment to visit a local mosque or Islamic center to bring greetings from their local congregation.
3) Consider hosting an event to learn more about Islam and make a special effort to speak up against anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Is the UCC unaware that Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is far from being a feel-good interfaith movement for peace and warm relations? It has, in fact, close ties to Islamic terrorism. As far back as ten years ago, its true character was well known:
But there is another side to CAIR that has alarmed many people in positions to know. The Department of Homeland Security refuses to deal with it. Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat, New York) describes it as an organization "which we know has ties to terrorism." Senator Dick Durbin (Democrat, Illinois) observes that CAIR is "unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect." Steven Pomerantz, the FBI's former chief of counterterrorism, notes that "CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups." The family of John P. O'Neill, Sr., the former FBI counterterrorism chief who perished at the World Trade Center, named CAIR in a lawsuit as having "been part of the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism" responsible for the September 11 atrocities. Counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson calls it "a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas."
It is worth pausing here to point out that Hamas is, in fact, the leading terror organization fighting Israel today. Its 1988 Charter is a testament to jihadi intransigence, the absolute opposite of peacemaking. It calls for the slaughter of all Jews in the world, declares that "Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement" and argues that "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

Has no one in the UCC the decency to repudiate this unsuitable connection? Or, in their wider dealings with Islamic groups, to raise the fact that many Muslims across the Middle East have been killing, expelling, and humiliating Christians, Jews and even Muslims (here, here, here, here and here) for a very long time, but especially in recent decades? Will they not admit that the expanding exodus of Christians from the West Bank and Gaza has been precipitated by extremist Muslims and the Palestinian authorities? That under the Palestinian Authority since 1995, the number of Christians has plummeted?

In 2015, Israel's UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, said to the General Assembly:
"After the PA took control of Bethlehem in 1995, Palestinian gunmen seized Christian homes and looted the Church of Nativity. Owing to this persecution, the city's Christian population fell by nearly 70 percent."
In 2002, armed Palestinian terrorists occupied the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, looted it and used it as a latrine. Today, Christians comprise a small minority of their holy city's population. According to the Christian journalist Lela Gilbert:
"In Bethlehem, Christians are not just a minority population in an overwhelmingly Muslim community. They aren't simply marginalized; they don't just suffer discrimination. Too often, they are threatened and intimidated; injured or even killed. They are cautious. They are uneasy. Many of them live in fear."
In Gaza, most Christians have fled in fear of attacks from Hamas gunmen. If there was ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Christians, it was under Muslim rule: two-thirds of Christian Arabs from Jerusalem and its surroundings left the areas between 1949 and 1967, the period when Jordan occupied and annexed the West Bank, and Egypt controlled Gaza -- years before Israel governed those areas. At the end of 2018, as Christianity neared extinction in the lands of its birthplace Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, called for redress.[1]

In July 2017, the UCC passed another resolution, condemning Israel for its alleged mistreatment of Palestinian children held in detention following engagement in clashes involving Israeli soldiers and civilians. This fresh resolution seems to have been inspired by a February report from Amnesty International, which itself has been accused of "Failed Methodology, Corruption, and Anti-Israel Bias" and "singling out Jews in 2019". Amnesty also recently hired two openly anti-Israel activists:
Most recently, in 2017, Amnesty-USA hired Raed Jarrar as Middle East and North Africa Advocacy Director and Allie McCracken as North American Campaigner. These two individuals exemplify the organization's troubling ideological approach to Israel and retreat from the universal principles of human rights.
In addition, Amnesty systematically "ignores the weaponization of Palestinian children."
The Israel Defense Forces have offered refutations of biased attempts to use at best questionable claims concerning Palestinian children to attack Israel and its genuine human rights standards. Moreover, in passing a resolution based on such claims, the UCC made no effort to elicit comment from Israeli military or legal sources. The UCC also did not ask why Palestinian parents permit and often encourage their children to take part in attacks. The UCC also did not discuss deeper questions about aggressive Palestinian behaviour. Israeli troops and civilians do not just face stone-throwing and terrorist fire-kites from children; they also are forced to function in keeping the peace against the efforts of armed terrorist adults.

Building bridges between faith communities is commendable for any church; but to do so in such an uncritical fashion, failing to raise authentic Christian concerns about Islamic persecution, exhibiting the worst possible naïvety about Islamic radicalism and terrorism, and turning with such vehemence against the Jewish world passes far beyond a decent and -- should we not say it? -- Christian expression of faith.

Much effort has gone into the writing of the UCC Guide, and factual errors, which take up so much of the text, are clearly the result of conscious assumptions that have never been checked against reputable facts. But there can be no excuse for this degree of carelessness in such an important document, given the number of lives that have been lost, are still being lost, and may well be lost in future in the course of this unending conflict. If a body of Christians really cares about Palestinian lives, Muslim and Christian alike, not to mention the lives of Israeli children, the lives of everyone on either side, then supporting an illegal and fanatical use of violence by telling lies and permitting distortions in order to incite an anti-Semitic hatred that will embolden and activate further terrorist attacks is beyond measure a contradiction of normative Christian ethics. The UCC cannot continue to assert its association with Jesus Christ, a man of peace, when they so openly espouse the cause of Palestinian resistance that embraces violence as a solution above any form of peace-making. Jesus said, "Blessed be the peace-makers", yet here is a Christian church that blesses men of violence.

[1] For a well-researched and balanced report on Christian flight, by the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, which provides full contexts and suggests a degree of stability, see here.

Denis MacEoin, an Irish and British citizen, is a scholar of Islam and an active supporter of the State of Israel. He serves as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.


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