Saturday, October 19, 2019

What the developments in Syria mean for Israel - JNS , Yaakov Lappin , Israel Hayom Staff

by JNS , Yaakov Lappin , Israel Hayom Staff

One thing that is clear: The events have no direct repercussions as far as US–Israel relations are concerned.

Israel has been closely monitoring Turkey’s brutal offensive against the Kurds in northeast Syria in recent days.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Turkish invasion on Oct. 10, stating that Israel "warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies," and that "Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people."

However, Israel’s concerns with regard to the Turkish operation extend beyond the fate of the Kurds.

Israel Defense Forces Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate’s Research Division and director general of Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, told JNS that the strengthening of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated extremist Sunni forces in northeast Syria "should disturb us."

He stressed that Turkey had launched its offensive with "problematic, radical forces, who are exploiting the US’s wish to leave this area."

In addition, said Kuperwasser, who is the director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Iran could exploit the situation with its own, Shiite militias.

"Iran could fill in the vacuum left by the United States in northeast Syria, which would enable them to establish a land corridor from Iran to Lebanon," he told JNS. "It could project onto Israel, though not immediately."

Speaking before the Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) signed a cooperation agreement with Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime on Sunday night in response to the Turkish assault, Kuperwasser stated that "if the Kurds feel distressed, and American pressure can't stop the Turks, they will try to link up with Assad, as well as with the Russians and the Iranians, with a request to cooperate with them."

Islamic State, too, will likely benefit from events in Syria, said Kuperwasser, since "all of the others are busy with one another." ISIS has been "hit hard," he said, "but it is not defeated, and if pressure on it is relieved, it could come back."

While Israel can provide humanitarian assistance to the Kurds of northern Syria and also apply diplomatic pressure, said Kuperwasser, military intervention is out of the question.

Asked how the rapidly escalating events in Syria might impact regional security, Kuperwasser said it was still too early to tell.

"The power of the various actors, and the weight of US deterrence, is being tested," he said, adding that "this is still at an early stage. It is not yet clear where it is headed. Hence in this context, we have to wait and see what the repercussions are."

One thing that is clear, said Kuperwasser, is that these events have no direct repercussions as far as US–Israel relations are concerned.

"The depth of the US commitment to Israel is very different" from its commitment to the Syrian Kurds, he said.

Regarding the ongoing threat posed by Iran in Syria, Kuperwasser said that Israel "has no choice but to defend itself by itself, and it will continue to do this."

He added, however, that while Israel "is acting decisively to prevent an Iranian base in Syria, what is important in this context is that the economic American pressure on Iran continues."

Reprinted from

JNS , Yaakov Lappin , Israel Hayom Staff


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

An Open Letter to Sergey Brin, Co-Founder of Google - Dennis Prager

by Dennis Prager

How could the company founded by a man whose parents fled the Soviet Union suppress speech?

Dear Mr. Brin: Fifty years ago this week, when I was a 21-year-old college senior, I was in the Soviet Union, sent by the government of Israel to smuggle in Jewish religious items and smuggle out names of Jews who wanted to escape the Soviet Union and could then be issued a formal invitation to Israel.

I was chosen because I was a committed Jew and because I knew Hebrew and Russian. I was no hero, but the trip did entail risk. The Soviets did not appreciate people smuggling out names of Soviet citizens who sought to emigrate, information the Israeli government and activist groups in America used to advocate on their behalf.

My four weeks in the USSR were, of course, life-changing. This young American, lucky beyond belief to have spent his entire life in the freest country in the world, experienced what it was like to live in a totalitarian police state. People feared merely being seen speaking with a Westerner, lest the KGB arrest and interrogate them. People arranged to meet me at a certain tree in a certain park and only spoke to me while walking to avoid eavesdroppers. I met with Jewish engineers, doctors and professors who could find no work because they were known to the government to be "otkazniki," or "refuseniks" — Jews who had applied for exit visas to leave the Soviet Union and been refused permission. I'm sure you know of them from your parents.

I left the Soviet Union angry and grateful — angry there are people who have the audacity to tell other people what they could and could not say, and grateful beyond measure to have been born in America, where no one could tell anyone what they could say. From that day to this, I have never taken freedom, especially freedom of speech, for granted.

Why I am writing to you about this?

Because, beyond my wildest dreams, two things are happening in America.

One is that for the first time in America's history, free speech is seriously threatened.

In 1977, when Nazis sought to march in Skokie, Illinois — those terrible human beings chose Skokie because it was home to many Jewish Holocaust survivors — virtually every liberal and conservative organization, including Jewish organizations, defended the Nazis' right to march. Because in America — and only in America — it was understood that even if the most loathsome speech was not protected, all speech was at risk.

That has changed.

Today, decent people — people who abhor Nazism and every other form of evil, left or right; people like Jordan Peterson, Ben Shapiro and Ayaan Hirsi Ali — are shouted down, threatened, disinvited or never invited to speak at America's universities.

The other thing that is happening is even more frightening. The company that you co-founded, Google, the greatest conduit of speech in world history, is also suppressing speech. I have asked myself over and over: How could the company founded by a man whose parents fled the Soviet Union do this?

It so boggles the mind that I have to hope you are simply not fully aware of what your company is doing.

So, in a nutshell, let me tell you what Google has done to one organization, Prager University (better known as PragerU). Every week, PragerU releases a five-minute video on virtually every subject outside of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Some of the finest minds in the world have presented these videos — including professors from Harvard, Stanford and MIT; four Pulitzer Prize winners; three former prime ministers; liberals; conservatives; Democrats; Republicans (including never-Trumpers); gays; and, of course, many women and members of ethnic and racial minorities.

Yet YouTube, which Google owns, has placed hundreds of our videos on its restricted list. In addition to the inherent smear of being labeled "inappropriate for children," this means no family that filters out pornography and graphic violence, no school and no library can see those videos. Among those restricted videos is one during former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper defends Israel. Had someone told me 50 years ago that a company led by the son of Soviet Jewish refuseniks would suppress a video by a world leader defending the Jewish state, I would have told them they were out of their mind. That's one reason I can only assume, or at least hope, that you are not fully aware of what your company is doing.

Or how about a video series I present on the Ten Commandments? YouTube is suppressing a number of those, too. When Sen. Ted Cruz asked a Google official why Google restricted one of my videos on the Ten Commandments, the official responded (it's on YouTube) that it was because the video "contains references to murder."

In fact, PragerU has repeatedly asked Google over the past several years why any of our videos are on the restricted list, and we have received either a runaround or silence. We have never received a substantive explanation. We have no desire to see government intervene in private business to protect free speech. But your company has availed itself of protections under law that shield it from liability for defamation, copyright infringement, etc. Your company's arrogance is such that a vast number of Americans — liberals as well as conservatives — are worried that the major conduit of speech in the Free World doesn't care about free speech.

Mr. Brin, along with millions of other Americans, I fought to bring your parents from a land with no freedom to the Land of the Free. None of us has ever asked for anything in return. It was our honor to work for liberty in general and for Soviet Jewry specifically.

What Americans most want from immigrants is that they help keep America free. I never had any doubt that those leaving the Soviet Union would fulfill that mission.

Until now.

Freedom of speech is the most fundamental of all freedoms. It's what your parents yearned for and bequeathed to you. Please don't help take it away from those who made it possible — the people of America.

Sincerely yours,

Dennis Prager


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Does Angela Merkel Deserve a Prize for Zionism? - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

Germany provides millions of euros annually to organizations that promote anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) and "lawfare" campaigns, anti-Zionism, antisemitism, and violence, according to NGO Monitor.

  • German Interior Ministry statistics claim that 90% of the anti-Semitic hate crimes reported in Germany in 2018 were committed by "far right" persons. The EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA), however, found that only 13% of the attacks were attributed to those with a "right-wing political view."
  • Germany provides millions of euros annually to organizations that promote anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) and "lawfare" campaigns, anti-Zionism, antisemitism, and violence, according to NGO Monitor.
  • "Why is Merkel being awarded the Theodor Herzl Award? Because her representative at the United Nations abstains in anti-Israel resolutions — and thereby de facto supports them? The same official who equates Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians with Israel's demolition of the homes of Palestinian terrorists? For not relocating the German embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the United States did, and also warning other countries against taking such a step? For all this, she gets the Theodor Herzl Award?" — Henryk Broder, German Political Commentator, Die Achse des Guten.
  • "And that is just the beginning. There is a great possibility that thanks to today's politics Germany will become Judenrein [free of Jews]. Wir schaffen das (We can do it)." — Dr. Rafael Korenzecher, Publisher, Jüdische Rundschau.

A decision by the World Jewish Congress to honor German Chancellor Angela Merkel with its prestigious Theodor Herzl Award for Zionism has sparked anger and bewilderment among Jewish leaders in the United States and Europe. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

A decision by the World Jewish Congress (WJC) to honor German Chancellor Angela Merkel with its prestigious Theodor Herzl Award for Zionism has sparked anger and bewilderment among Jewish leaders in the United States and Europe.

The WJC, founded in August 1936 in Geneva, Switzerland, to confront the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi persecution of Jews in Europe, bestows its annual award to individuals who act to promote the goals of the late Theodor Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionist movement, "for the creation of a safer and more tolerant world for Jews."

Critics say that Merkel, because her domestic and foreign policies have in recent years made the world less safe for Jews, is uniquely undeserving of the award. These policies include:
  • German government failure to combat rising anti-Semitism. A total of 1,799 anti-Semitic hate crimes — five per day, on average — were reported in Germany during 2018, according to the German Interior Ministry. This represents a 40% increase over 2013, when 1,275 such crimes were recorded. The actual number of anti-Semitic hate crimes in Germany is likely much higher. A survey produced by the Vienna-based European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) found that 80% of Jews who said they were a victim of anti-Semitism did not report the crimes. Almost half of Jews living in Germany said they do not feel safe in the country and were considering emigrating, according to the FRA.
    Germany is home to around 120,000 Jews. A recent survey by the University of Bielefeld found that 85% of German Jews believe there has been an upsurge of anti-Semitism in the country in the previous 12 months; 70% of those surveyed said that they avoided wearing "publicly identifiable Jewish symbols" out of a fear of being attacked; 58% said that they deliberately avoid certain neighborhoods.
    Although Merkel has frequently condemned anti-Semitism, her government has been unable or unwilling to implement effective measures to tackle the problem.
  • German government support for mass migration from the Muslim world. The rise in anti-Semitism in Germany has coincided with the German government's decision to allow into the country more than a million migrants from the Muslim world. The German government denies that that the two are linked. German Interior Ministry statistics, for instance, claim that 90% of the anti-Semitic hate crimes reported in Germany in 2018 were committed by "far right" persons. The University of Bielefeld survey, however, revealed that 81% of the physical assaults against Jews during the previous 12 months were attributed to Muslim attackers.
    The EU's Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) found that most of the anti-Semitism in Europe today is being perpetrated by Muslim immigrants, or by the those on the political left: 30% of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe during the past five years were attributed to "Muslim extremists" and 21% to those with a "left-wing political view," according to the report. Only 13% of the attacks were attributed to those with a "right-wing political view." Another FRA survey found that six out of ten Jews who were victims of "violent physical anti-Semitism" attributed the crimes to "someone with a Muslim extremist view."
  • German government support for anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations. In 2018, for instance, of 21 anti-Israel UN resolutions, Germany approved 16 and abstained on four others. In May 2016, Germany approved an especially disgraceful UN resolution, co-sponsored by the Arab group of states and the Palestinian delegation, that singled out Israel at the annual assembly of the World Health Organization (WHO) as the world's only violator of "mental, physical and environmental health."
  • German government support for anti-Israel boycotts. Germany provides millions of euros annually to organizations that promote anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) and "lawfare" campaigns, anti-Zionism, antisemitism, and violence, according to NGO Monitor.
  • German government's refusal to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. After U.S. President Donald J. Trump moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018, Merkel launched a pressure campaign to stop Central and Eastern European countries from relocating their embassies to Jerusalem.
  • German government support for Iran nuclear deal. Merkel has steadfastly defended the July 2015 Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which critics say puts Iran "on a legal glide path to the bomb." In May 2018, President Trump withdrew the United States from the deal and re-imposed sanctions. "The JCPOA enriched the Iranian regime and enabled its malign behavior, while at best delaying its ability to pursue nuclear weapons and allowing it to preserve nuclear research and development," Trump said.
  • German government's silence and inaction over Iran's threats to destroy Israel. On September 30, Major General Hossein Salami, head of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), said that Iran has created the necessary conditions for "destruction of the illegitimate Zionist regime." In remarks published by Iran's government-controlled Tehran Times, Salami said, "This regime [Israel] should be wiped off the world's geography and this is not a dream anymore." On October 1, the German Foreign Ministry described the comments as "anti-Israel rhetoric" but refused to denounce them as "anti-Semitic."
    In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, the president of NGO Monitor, Professor Gerald Steinberg, said:
    "The Germans, and Merkel in particular, should be the first to condemn Iran's genocidal threats against the Jewish state as anti-Semitism. Instead, by taking refuge behind the canard that 'anti-Israel' language can be distinguished from anti-Semitism, they undermine the international consensus behind the IHRA [The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance] working definition [of anti-Semitism]. Every aspect of Iran's campaign to destroy Israel is anchored in hatred of Jews and Jewish national self-determination, including many of the images that echo Nazi propaganda. In the time she remains in office, Merkel should give high priority to undoing the damage she has done by failing to confront Iran."
    The head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, told the Jerusalem Post that Merkel's "business-as-usual attitude toward Mullocracy makes a mockery of Germany's historic responsibilities to the Jewish people after the Shoah and her assurances of solidarity with Israel."
  • German government efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran. In January 2019, Germany, together with France and the United Kingdom, established INSTEX (Instrument for Supporting Trade Exchanges), an EU barter system that would enable European companies to sidestep U.S. sanctions on Iran. The president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Dr. Josef Schuster, has called for an immediate end to Iranian-German business relations, alleging that the trade benefits the Islamic Republic's terrorism and contradicts Berlin's pledge that Israel's security is non-negotiable:
    "It seems paradoxical that Germany — as a country that is said to have learned from its horrendous past and which has a strong commitment to fighting antisemitism — is one of the strongest economic partners of a regime that blatantly denies the Holocaust and commits human rights abuses on a daily basis. Germany has included Israel's security as a part of its raison d'être. As a matter of course this should exclude doing business with a fanatic dictatorship that is calling for Israel's destruction, pursuing nuclear weapons and financing terror organizations around the world."
  • German government's refusal to outlaw Hezbollah. Merkel has repeatedly dismissed calls for her to Iran-back proxy Hezbollah, which has more than a thousand operatives in Germany, according to German intelligence. Merkel appears reluctant to outlaw the group for fear of antagonizing Iran.
The WJC's decision to present the award to Merkel — normally presented in November — has not yet officially been made public. Prominent European Jews, however, revealed that they had received private invitations to the award ceremony and the controversy has been covered by Israeli media, including by the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom.

The decision to present this year's award to Merkel appears to be the handiwork of Charlotte Knobloch, an octogenarian Jewish woman who was saved from the Holocaust by a Christian family in Franconia, a region of northern Bavaria. She has been active in Bavaria's Jewish community for more than 30 years and is now the head of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria (Israelitische Kultusgemeinde München und Oberbayern). She is also the WJC's Commissioner for Holocaust Memory.

Knobloch has vehemently rejected the idea that mass migration from the Muslim world has contributed to the rise of anti-Semitism in Germany. Instead, she blames the "far right" anti-mass-migration party Alternative for Germany (AfD), the third-largest party in the German parliament.

In October 2018, German Jews established a Jewish group within AfD. The so-called Juden in der AfD (Jews in the AfD, or JAfD) is a response to the open-door immigration policies promoted by Germany's mainstream parties, policies which have allowed in millions of Muslims and are fueling Islamic anti-Semitism in the country.

Emanuel Bernhard Krauskopf, a 69-year-old German Jew who joined the AfD in 2013, said that he founded the JAfD because Germany's mainstream parties are not doing enough to address anti-Semitism. "Every Jew who has been murdered in Europe since 2000 has been killed by Islamofascists," said Krauskopf, whose family fled Poland during the Holocaust and lost 50 family members in Nazi concentration camps. He added that many Jews in both eastern and western Germany were embracing the AfD because they believe that continued mass migration poses a danger to the future of Jewish life in Germany. He has been accused by detractors of being a "Jewish Nazi."

The emergence of the JAfD challenges the long-term narrative espoused by Germany's political establishment that the AfD is "anti-Semitic."

In 2016, Knobloch awarded Merkel with the Munich's Jewish community's Ohel Jakob Medal for her work "to promote and protect Jewish life in Germany and her commitment to the State of Israel."

Knobloch said in her presentation speech that Merkel, like no other German leader before her, "stands with the Jewish community and with Israel in the most determined and unequivocal fashion." This was "an expression of her humanity and her sense of historical responsibility," Knobloch said. She added:
"The safety and well-being of every Jewish person in Germany is for you part of Germany's reason of state and something that is not negotiable. For you, these are more than empty words."
In her acceptance speech, Merkel said that for her receiving such an award was "anything but self-evident."

Given Merkel's long track record of anti-Israel policies and positions, German political commentator Henryk Broder expressed bewilderment at the WJC's decision to bestow Merkel with the Theodor Herzl Award:
"A few days ago, I found in my mailbox an invitation that was probably sent to me by mistake. The President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, and the President of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria, Charlotte Knobloch, are 'honored' to invite me to a festive dinner on the occasion of Her Excellency the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel receiving the Theodor Herzl Award.
"Why is Merkel being given the Theodor Herzl Award? Because her representative at the United Nations abstains in anti-Israel resolutions — and thereby de facto supports them? The same official who equates Hamas rocket attacks on Israeli civilians with Israel's demolition of the homes of Palestinian terrorists? For not relocating the German embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the United States did, and also warning other countries against taking such a step? For all this, she gets the Theodor Herzl Award?"
The Zionist Organization of America issued a statement in which it expressed opposition to Merkel receiving the award:
"The Zionist Organization of America opposes the World Jewish Congress's decision to honor German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the Herzl Award. The ZOA firmly believes that a foreign leader who continues to support the disastrously flawed 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which will enable the Iranian regime in time to become a nuclear weapons state, is a singularly inappropriate recipient of the WJC's most prestigious award."
ZOA President Morton Klein elaborated:
"By any reasonable yardstick, Chancellor Merkel has done little if anything to justify the bestowal of this award and a great deal that should disqualify her as a candidate for this award.
"Which policy she has pursued does the WJC believe distinguishes Chancellor Merkel as a worthy recipient of this award? Her refusal to close down the operations in Germany of the vicious blood-soaked terrorist group Hezbollah? Her opposition to recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Her stubborn support for the Iran nuclear deal that is opposed on bipartisan basis in Israel? Her unabashed claim that Iran is not anti-Semitic, despite its repeated calls for the Jewish State's destruction.
"Whatever else may be said of Chancellor Merkel, she is an entirely inappropriate recipient of an award adorned with the name of the founding father of Political Zionism."
The publisher of the monthly German Jewish magazine, Jüdische Rundschau, Dr. Rafael Korenzecher, greeted news of Merkel's award with a sarcastic post on his blog:
"Our wonderful Chancellor Frau Merkel receives from the highest Jewish representation the high Theodor Herzl Award for special services to the Jewish people and to Israel.
"I think she has earned it. It is to her merit and the merit of her political entourage that the exodus of Jews from Germany has finally led to a significant Aliyah (immigration) to Israel. The Zionist Organization of Germany (ZOD) could only dream of such success rates in all its decades of work in this country.
"And that is just the beginning. There is a great possibility that thanks to today's politics Germany will become Judenrein [free of Jews]. Wir schaffen das (We can do it)."

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


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

UK: Last Call for Boris Johnson's Brexit Bus - Andrew Ash

by Andrew Ash

Chief EU negotiator Michael Barnier described the new deal as "squaring this circle" on issues around the Irish border after the UK leaves the EU.

  • Having put everything on the line by staking his reputation and premiership in defiance of his detractors' shameless cynicism, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems to be energised by the new Brexit deal. With a bit of luck, his tenacity might just pay off -- and the agonising wait to be free of the EU will finally be over.

Having put everything on the line by staking his reputation and premiership in defiance of his detractors' shameless cynicism, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems to be energised by the new Brexit deal. Pictured: Johnson (left) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker give statements to the media on October 17, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

"We've got a great new deal that takes back control," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted after last minute negotiations with European Union leaders in Brussels. The deal will now require the approval of both the European Parliament and UK Parliament – who have so far tried everything they can to derail the UK's exit from the European Union (EU). According to the BBC:
MPs have voted to hold an extra sitting in the Commons on Saturday to discuss the next steps.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the government would hold a vote on the deal and was not "not contemplating defeat".
But, he added, if the plan did not get the backing of MPs, the alternative was leaving without a deal.
The no-deal Brexit mentioned by Gove is something with which many might be quite happy.
Those who voted to leave the EU in 2016 might well find it hard not view the latest proceedings with a cynical eye, but it finally looks as though a departure from the EU could be real -- despite one half of the Conservative Party's coalition government -- Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) -- failing to support it. Stating the obvious by insisting that the Johnson is "too eager by far to get a deal at any cost", Nigel Dodds, the leader of the Conservatives' DUP bedfellows, appears not quite to get the point. After releasing a statement stating that the DUP could not back the proposals "as things stand," they somewhat unhelpfully failed to provide much further information.

Not surprisingly, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has described the deal as "even worse" than the efforts of Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, to secure an exit from the EU. Mr. Corbyn, having flatly rejected the new deal -- before even seeing all the details of it -- and said his party "will vote against the deal."

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, however, has described the negotiation's outcome as a "fair and balanced agreement for the EU and the UK..." He urged the European Council to accept it.

UK opposition MPs passed a law in September requiring the PM to request an extension on October 19 if Parliament had not by then agreed a deal, or backed a "no deal" Brexit.

Chief EU negotiator Michael Barnier described the new deal as "squaring this circle" on issues around the Irish border after the UK leaves the EU. The new deal's main elements include:
  1. "Northern Ireland will remain aligned to [a] limited set of EU rules, notably related to goods."
  2. "Northern Ireland will remain in the UK's customs territory. It will therefore benefit from the UK's future trade policy. But Northern Ireland will also remain an entry point into our single market."
  3. On the issue of VAT, to "maintain the integrity of the single market but also satisfy the UK's legitimate wishes."
  4. "Four years after the entry into force of the protocol, the elected representatives of Northern Ireland will be able to decide, by simple majority, whether to continue applying relevant Union rules in Northern Ireland or not."
Referring to the final point, Mr Barnier said: "This democratic support is a cornerstone of our newly-agreed approach." Some people see that as a last minute-concession to Johnson, who has previously blamed Brexit-phobic MPs of trying to stop a no-deal exit based on the EU's refusal to compromise on the "backstop".

The weekend vote – the first time MP's have been called upon to sit on a Saturday since 1982 -- will require Johnson to convince the opposition party, the DUP, to reverse its opposition to his deal, or to entice enough Labour rebels to defy Corbyn. If the Prime Minister does not get sufficient backing, the only alternative would be a no-deal Brexit. If Mr. Johnson had not secured a deal this week, he would have been legally required to seek a further three-month delay to the current October 31 deadline.

Having put everything on the line by staking his reputation and premiership in defiance of his detractors' shameless cynicism, Prime Minister Johnson seems to be energised by the new deal. With a bit of luck, his tenacity might just pay off -- and the agonising wait to be free of the EU will finally be over.

Andrew Ash is based in the United Kingdom.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Minnesota persecutes Christian couple - Scot Wolf

by Scot Wolf


Carl and Angel Larsen live in St. Cloud, Minnesota. They are an openly Christian couple who operate Telescope Media Group, a video production company. Their website proclaims: "Telescope Media Group exists to glorify God through top-quality media production. As much as it depends on us, we aim to make God look more like He really is through our lives, business, and actions. We want to magnify Christ like a telescope."

Carl and Angel Larsen

They want to expand into making wedding videos and movies. In keeping with their mission statement, they want to glorify God by focusing only on God-pleasing marriages. Since God defines homosexual acts as sinful in the Bible, these relationships cannot be God-pleasing. The Larsens should have the freedom to choose their clients in a way that fulfills their business plan. (Note: The Larsens are making no attempts to get homosexual relationships banned or force their religious views on others.)

Minnesota disagrees and is using the power of the state to persecute the Larsens and other Christians.

Minnesota's Democrat attorney general, Keith Ellison, has interpreted the state's Human Rights Act to mandate that the Larsens also make films celebrating homosexual same-sex "marriages." Penalties include payment of a civil penalty to the state, triple compensatory damages, punitive damages of up to $25,000, a criminal penalty of up to $1,000, and even up to 90 days in jail. No exemptions for religious freedom.

The Larsens sued Minnesota in federal court for this violation of their constitutional rights. Minnesota eagerly accepted the legal challenge.

Court records reveal the zeal Minnesota has used to force homosexual "weddings" on the citizenry — even setting up sting operations against Christians. "It has even employed 'testers' to target noncompliant businesses, and it has already pursued a successful enforcement action against a wedding vendor who refused to rent a venue for a same-sex wedding [sic]." (The large Somali Muslim community has not been targeted by Ellison to date. Ellison is a Muslim.)

Minnesota won the first round. Minneapolis U.S. district judge John Tunheim (appointed by Clinton) ruled against the Larsens.

The Larsens won round two. On appeal, a three-judge panel on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the Larsens. Judges David Stras (Trump appointee) and Bobby E. Shepherd (W. Bush appointee) ruled for the Larsens; Judge Jane Kelly (Obama appointee) ruled against the Larsens.

Rather than accept this loss, or appealing to the Supreme Court, A.G. Keith Ellison has filed a new case in federal court against the Larsens. This begins to look like lawfare, with Ellison using the massive resources of a state government to force a small business to either surrender or be bankrupted with legal costs. The Alliance Defending Freedom is representing the Larsens to help reduce the massive legal costs.

Notice that every Democrat-appointed judge ruled to create a constitutional compulsion to force video artists to create content they do not believe in, while every Republican-appointed judge ruled in favor of religious freedom. (The Constitution is silent on sexual orientation.)

The Larsens' case offers insight with respect to the positions taken by the national political parties.

The current Minnesota government is hostile to religious freedom for Christians and freedom in general.

Numerous Republican-led states filed court briefs in support of the Larsens. Numerous states with Democrat governments filed court briefs supporting Minnesota.

Did Minnesotans realize they were electing an attorney general who would spend tax dollars seeking out and targeting Christian businesses who did not want to participate in homosexual "weddings"?

If Minnesota's government can force a Christian couple to participate in homosexual ceremonies against their will, can it force pastors to perform the homosexual "weddings"? This is a grave danger to religious freedom.

Scot Wolf is the author of The Bible and Constitution Made America Great By Providing Freedom and Liberty to Citizens, available in hardcover at and at, or as a Nook or Kindle eBook.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Is 'Hate Speech' Dangerous? - H. K. Rivera

by H. K. Rivera

Once you cannot speak out without repercussions, all of the other rights are taken soon after.

As a concept, freedom of speech arguably dates back to Socrates. He said to his prosecutors, "If you offered to let me off this time on condition I am not any longer to speak my mind... I should say to you, 'Men of Athens, I shall obey the Gods rather than you.'" While Plato was busy writing dialogues and showing us that Socrates was advocating for free speech more than 2000 years ago, freedom of speech as a legal right did not actually exist until the 17th century.

The people of both the United States and Britain were ensured certain rights. Both countries grant freedom of speech, although in modern society, speech considered "harmful, hurtful, or hateful" has been deemed, "hate speech" in much of Europe and in Britain.

This new worldview on dangerous words has made its way to the United States. "Progressive" activists such as Antifa and the 3rd wave feminist movement, would see freedom of speech hampered to end speech they find offensive.

Online "hate speech" is currently an arrestable and jailable offense in the United Kingdom. There is an entire branch of law enforcement devoted to policing words on the internet. Many have received jail time over tweets and Facebook posts others did not agree with. How did this happen? Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 made this policing of words and subsequent punishment possible.

An article published by the Independent claims "According to the Register, a total of 2,500 Londoners have been arrested over the past five years for allegedly sending “offensive” messages via social media. In 2015, 857 people were detained, up 37 per cent increase since 2010."

In the U.S., many are trying to push for "hate speech" laws, although the courts have ruled such laws unconstitutional thus far. The First Amendment protects the right to free speech, no matter how much some may not like what is being said. 

While private business can make rules for conduct as they see fit, individual states and factions of the federal government cannot in the United States; the laws about speech are expressly written in the Constitution.
In the United Kingdom free speech was not expressly granted under the Magna Carta, it was granted 400 years later under the British Bill of Rights; however today it is all but stripped completely. The British Bill of Rights (An Act Declaring the Rights and Liberties of the Subject and Settling the Succession of the Crown) was written in 1689 and granted freedom of speech in Parliament. This was the first instance in history that any form of freedom of speech was codified into law. The British Bill of Rights granted sweeping freedoms to British citizens, and became a document looked to for inspiration in other countries. Both the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the United States Constitution used the ideas from the British Bill of Rights when creating their versions.

Today in the United Kingdom the Online Hate Crimes Hub Polices "offensive materials" on social media. It is highly likely that you could wind up in a jail cell for insulting someone on Facebook.

Now the question becomes, what exactly is hate speech? Hate speech laws in England and Wales are found in several statutes. There needs to be an expression of hatred towards someone based upon the following: color, race, disability, nationality (which includes citizenship), ethnicity or national origin, religion, sexual preferences and sexual orientation, gender identity. All of these examples are forbidden. Next, we arrive at “Any communication which threatening or abusive, and is intended to harass, alarm or distress someone is forbidden” – Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 

Rather vague language which can be blurred easily to fit any situation. Now when you add in the Communications Act of 2003, which defines illegal communications as “Using public electronic communications network in order to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety.” Breaking this law carries a fine of up to £5,000 or a six-month prison term. If you call someone a “slut” on Twitter this could land you in prison. If you like a political personality this week, better watch your language online, and that joke you posted to Facebook could also carry a sentence, if anyone feels annoyed or anxious over it.

Many social media platforms are currently demonetizing thinkers they do not agree with (YouTube does this regularly); and in some cases, out and out banning them from utilizing the platform at all, which silences their voices. Steven Crowder was has publicly shown us a “black list” of channels that are hidden via YouTube. Other recent examples of this are Facebook and the subsequent Instagram banning of Paul Joseph Watson. Watson is an outspoken man and free speech enthusiast. His articles, videos, and views on current events tend to send some into a “triggered” state of utter turmoil; believe it or not, that is good thing! Echo chambers do not allow for critical thinking, and equal discussion of the topics at hand. If both sides cannot speak freely, that is oppression of ideas. Facebook had gone as far to label Watson as a “dangerous individual” for not towing the leftist line as they expect from their political users. In an ironic twist of events, after Mark Zuckerberg was found to be holding meetings with conservatives such as Tucker Carlson the opposition on the left is now hollering about “#DeleteFacebook” as the trending item of the last 24 hours. It took meeting with people the left did not agree with, to cause upset with Facebook and its practices.

The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that hate speech is legally protected free speech under the First Amendment. Trying to ban speech that is offensive, or may cause another to become upset, is a slippery slope which causes more risk than the “overall good” intended. There are very clear laws in place that hate crimes are illegal and punishable. These crimes involve bodily injury to another person based on race, creed, religion, sex/gender, etc. Hate crimes also include vandalizing property. Governance over words is an inherently dangerous activity to a healthy, and ultimately free society. Take away the right to voice an opinion, no matter how vile it may be, and you are ever closer to totalitarian rule. However, that seed has been planted by very vocal left-leaning groups who do not want hate speech protected. When a group vocalizes repeatedly about how hate speech is a danger to society, that poison pill has been placed. Many who are not very politically active hear the side that makes the most “chatter” and tend to agree with the popular opinion instead of researching the situation on their own. Many citizens of the United States have no idea that other countries are struggling with free speech, and that we are the last bastion of hope for expression. Clueless that positions in other governments include titles such as “Chief Censor.” If they knew, more outrage over trying to silence hate speech would be front and center.

Once you cannot speak out without repercussions, all other rights are taken soon after. This is how dictators take over countries and oppress the citizens. This model has been seen time and time again. It is absolutely imperative that at least one country on this planet still has freedom of expression. This is how the others will rebuild their own freedoms, much the same way that the United States forged its way using the Magna Carta and British Bill of Rights all those years ago as inspiration.

H. K. Rivera


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Prof Claims Islam Is Not the Root of Islamic Terrorism - Andrew Harrod

by Andrew Harrod

While ACMCU Professor Jonathan Brown moderated, Khalil's responses ironically reinforced the critique of Islam he sought to refute.

Mohammad Hassan Khalil

"If you want to identify people who are okay with suicide bombing, I can give you a list," including Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Michigan State University Professor of Religious Studies and Director of Muslim Studies Mohammad Hassan Khalil told me at a September Georgetown University lecture. Khalil theorized before an audience of some thirty people at the Saudi-founded Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU) that Islam's atheistic critics exaggerate the religion's role in inciting violence.
While ACMCU Professor Jonathan Brown moderated, Khalil's responses ironically reinforced the critique of Islam he sought to refute. For the record, Qaradawi's primetime show on Qatar's Al Jazeera network drew an estimated 60 million viewers. Even had he been the lone cleric promoting suicide bombing — which he was not — the size of his viewership reveals the scope of the problem.
At the Georgetown event, Khalil presented his previously recorded discussion of his new book, Jihad, Radicalism, and the New Atheism, in which he disputes claims of many "New Atheists," particularly Sam Harris, "that Muslim terrorism can be best explained by Islamic scriptures." Harris further labels benign interpretations of Islam as "interpretive acrobatics."
Khalil explained his focus on the so-called New Atheists, in which "[m]any of [his] own colleagues and students have been and continue to be more profoundly impacted by the writings of New Atheists than, say, polemical works by far-right religiously-affiliated critics of Islam." Correspondingly, he cited Harris's statement to fellow atheist Bill Maher that "we have to be able to criticize bad ideas, and Islam is the motherlode of bad ideas."
Sam Harris

Although critics such as the ex-Muslim atheists behind the "Awesome Without Allah" campaign would affirm Harris's observations, Khalil accused Harris of "cherry-picking." Reiterating his previous analysis of Islamic canons to argue that jihadists like Osama bin Laden use "interpretative acrobatics" to justify attacks on civilians, Khalil asserted that "Harris's interpretation of Islam is so obdurate and so extreme that it cannot even be ascribed to the man behind 9/11."
Khalil claimed such jihadists are "on the fringes of the jihad tradition" in Islam, despite ample precedent of jihadists applying distinctly Islamic doctrines to fight non-Muslims. "The attempts of al Qaeda and ISIS to justify terrorism on Islamic grounds typically require the abandonment of both strict literalism and the historically prevailing interpretations of Islamic thought," Khalil said. "Before the early 1980s, there was no such thing as a Muslim suicide bomber," Khalil added, although Islamic traditions of suicidal fighting tactics help explain why modern suicide bombing has become such a uniquely Islamic phenomenon.
He next criticized the portrayal of a failed suicide bomber in Harris's book "The End of Faith." Instead of accepting Harris' description of terrorists' motives as religiously informed, Khalil cited common, debunked tropes of socioeconomic disadvantage driving men to violent jihad. Although Khalil emphasized the jihadist's biography of poverty and conflict with Israel, many jihadists globally have comfortable backgrounds. Khalil concluded, erroneously, that "in blaming Islam's foundational texts for contemporary terrorism, while downplaying other factors," arguments of the New Atheists "are just as facile as those of the apologists they criticize."
This continues a common trend of denying the Islamist roots of jihadi attacks, even as survey data show that a deeply disturbing minority of Muslim believers support terrorism. As Israeli analyst Shmuel Bar wrote in 2004, in leading Islamic clerical circles, "radical ideology does not represent a marginal and extremist perversion of Islam, but rather a[n] ... increasingly mainstream interpretation."

Jonathan Brown
During the audience question and answer session at Georgetown, moderator Jonathan Brown failed to assuage concerns about the religious nature of jihad, even as he assailed New Atheists as the "most intense representatives of this sort of white, patriarchal 'West is best' idea." He referenced his 2007 Yemen trip, during which he saw cigarette lighters for sale with themes of Bin Laden and Hassan Nasrallah, the terrorist Hezbollah leader. Brown strained believability to dismiss these images as indicating not support for terrorism, but for individuals "who really stuck it to the man" of Western imperialism — as if mass atrocities were mere protest.
Khalil stated that he is "obsessed with 9/11 in a dark way," a transformative event for a Muslim for whom "religion was always what held me back from being violent." Yet his obsession hardly obviates valid concerns about radical Islamic jihad. Atheists and others – including jihadists themselves – correctly recognize a significant canonical corpus that justifies a long bloody trail of jihadi violence into the present day. In dismissing historically accurate criticisms of radical Islam and Islamism, Muslims like Khalil undermine their credibility — and, by hosting such apologists, ACMCU reaffirms its place as America's leading center of Islamist propaganda.

Andrew E. Harrod is a Campus Watch Fellow, freelance researcher, and writer who holds a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a J.D. from George Washington University Law School. He is a fellow with the Lawfare Project. Follow him on Twitter at @AEHarrod.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter