Friday, April 3, 2020

Biden's Anti-Israel Stripes - Hugh Fitzgerald

by Hugh Fitzgerald

What he recently told the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC says it all.

Former US vice president and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden told the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC on March 2 that Israel’s annexation and settlement policies are undermining support for the Jewish state among young people.

What is “undermining support” for Israel “among young people” and others is the failure of those politicians like Biden who consider themselves “pro-Israel” but are misinformed about the legal status of the West Bank, and consequently are not capable of understanding, explaining, and defending Israel’s rights to that area. Biden himself does not know why the settlements are legal, and merely assumes, like tens of millions of others, that they are illegitimate because everyone tells him so — the New York Times, the Washington Post, the BBC, the U.N. General Assembly, the Arab League, the O.I.C. But his statement at AIPAC merely reveals his ignorance of the history of the Jewish state. It is not enough to consider oneself “pro-Israel” – you have to get Israel’s history straight, in order to adequately defend the country. This Joe Biden has not done. He doesn’t dislike Israel, unlike some in his party, including the infamous “Squad” and Bernie Sanders; Biden likes Israel, but doesn’t know enough to make its case.

Let’s review the history of the Mandate for Palestine. Biden does not know that when the League of Nations established the Mandates system, following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, several mandates were created exclusively for the Arabs. France held the Mandate for Syria and Lebanon, Great Britain held the Mandate for Iraq. Those European powers were responsible for guiding the local populations to achieve independence. In the end, as we all know, the Arabs have by now managed to acquire 22 separate states, far more than any other people, places where they treat non-Arab Muslims – Kurds, Berbers, black Africans – with contumely or worse. And in many of those Arab states, non-Muslims are often humiliated, persecuted, and sometimes killed.

The one territory reserved for the Jews was that set aside for inclusion in the Mandate for Palestine. It extended from the Golan in the north to the Gulf of Aqaba in the south, and from an area east of the Jordan River “out into the desert” to the Mediterranean. The British, who held the Mandate for Palestine, then unilaterally decided that all the territory east of the Jordan — 78% of the territory that was originally to be included the Mandate – would be closed to Jewish immigration, so that it would instead become part of the newly-created Emirate of Transjordan (later the Kingdom of Jordan). What was left in the Palestine Mandate for the Jews was 22% of the territory that was originally to have been included. This was the sliver of land that went from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, and from the Golan to the Gulf of Aqaba. That Mandatory territory, that was to have formed the future Jewish state, included all of what became known as the West Bank. I doubt that Joe Biden knows any of this. He doesn’t strike me as having done his homework. He doesn’t feel he has to, you see, because his heart’s in the right place, he’s “pro-Israel.” How wrong he is.

When the League of Nations closed in 1946, soon to be replaced by the United Nations, there remained the question of what would happen to the Mandate for Palestine. Article 80 of the U.N. Charter – “the Jewish people’s article,” as it was called – made clear that the provisions of the Mandate still held, and would be honored by the United Nations as the successor organization to the League of Nations. The Mandate finally came to an end on May 14, 1948, when Israel, the successor state to the Mandate, declared its independence.

In the 1948-49 war, at the end of hostilities the Arab Legion of Jordan held onto those parts of Judea and Samaria west of the Jordan that the Jordanians soon renamed the “West Bank.” In taking possession of the West Bank, Jordan did not establish a legal claim; it remained a military “occupier.” Israel, which did have a legal claim to the West Bank, was not in a position to enforce that claim; that would come only after the Six-Day War. But juridically the West Bank remained, as it had been under the Mandate, part of the Jewish National Home. In 1967, Israel did not establish a new legal claim, but merely became able, through force of arms, to enforce the claim it had always possessed since the Mandate was created . Joe Biden needs to understand the exclusive intent of the Mandate for Palestine – to create the Jewish National Home – and to recognize the territory , including the entire West Bank, that had been assigned to it. He might then take quite a different view of Israeli villages and cities (tendentiously described by so many as “settlements”) and of Israel’s so-called “occupation” of the West Bank. He owes it to Israel, and to himself, to get this story straight.

When Biden tells an AIPAC audience that he thinks Israel’s “settlement and annexation” policies are causing Israel to lose support, instead of blaming Israel, he should have made a different claim: “We who are pro-Israel need to do better to make the case for that embattled country. We need to understand Israel’s overwhelming legal right to the West Bank. Even if, on practical grounds, some may question the wisdom of Israel annexing the entire West Bank, no one should deny that Israel has a perfect right to do so. We need to study the relevant history to make the case for Israel, instead of mindlessly repeating such loaded, and inaccurate descriptions, as “occupied Palestinian lands.”

Biden should deepen his own understanding, by reading – perhaps for the first time though he has been in Washington for the past 40 years — the Mandate for Palestine. The most important part of the Mandate document is the Preamble:
Whereas the Principal Allied Powers have also agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, it being clearly understood that nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.
The declaration of November 2, 1917, which is referred to in the preamble, is the Balfour Declaration, which declared British support for the establishment of the Jewish National Home.

Note the phrase, too, about how “nothing should be done which might prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” The drafters quite deliberately left out any mention of “political rights” because, of course, a Jewish National Home, leading to the establishment of a Jewish state, would necessarily impinge on the political rights of local Arabs.

Article 4 of the Mandate makes clear that it is to lead to the creation of a single Jewish National Home, and not to the creation of two states, Jewish and Arab, in the territory west of the Jordan that was ultimately assigned to the Mandate:
An appropriate Jewish agency shall be recognised as a public body for the purpose of advising and co-operating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine, and, subject always to the control of the Administration to assist and take part in the development of the country.
The Zionist organization, so long as its organization and constitution are in the opinion of the Mandatory appropriate, shall be recognised as such agency. It shall take steps in consultation with His Britannic Majesty’s Government to secure the co-operation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish national home.
Then there is Article 6 of the Mandate, which Biden might profitably commit to memory. It calls on the mandatory authority to “facilitate Jewish immigration” and “encourage…close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands”:
The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.
So to repeat yet again for Joe Biden’s sake, and it deserves this constant repetition, the West Bank was always intended to be part of the Jewish National Home. Thus it was intended by the Mandates Commission, headed by the distinguished Swiss law professor William Rappard, who was outraged when the British ended all Jewish immigration in the land east of the Jordan, which had supposed to have been subject to the provisions of the Mandate. Had the Jews managed to hold onto the West Bank in the 1948-49 war, it would have become, as the Mandate always intended, part of Israel, every bit as much as Tel Aviv or Haifa or Ashdod. No one in the Western world would have objected. When the Jordanian army seized and held territory west of the Jordan in the 1948-49 war, Jordan emulated the Romans, who had renamed “Judea” as “Syria Palaestina” or “Palestine” to efface the Jewish connection to the land. The Jordanians renamed the parts of Judea and Samaria it now controlled as “the West Bank” for the same reason.

Jordan remained the illegal “occupier” of the West Bank from 1948 to 1967; its only claim was that of military occupation. The “Palestinian people” had not yet been invented, so Amman made no move to hand the West Bank over to the non-existent Palestinians. The juridical situation was quite different for Israel, its claim to the West Bank is based not on its “occupation” of the territory since 1967, but on the Mandate for Palestine itself. But, someone might object, hadn’t the Mandates system expired when the League of Nations, which had created the many mandates, ceased to operate in 1946 and was soon replaced by the United Nations?

No, because by its own charter, the United Nations recognized the continued relevance of the Mandates system. The UN Charter, and specifically Article 80 of that Charter, implicitly recognize the “Mandate for Palestine” of the League of Nations. This Mandate granted Jews the irrevocable right to settle in the area of Palestine, anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Professor Eugene Rostow, then Dean of Yale Law School, has explained:
This right [of settlement] is protected by Article 80 of the United Nations Charter. The Mandates of the League of Nations have a special status in international law, considered to be trusts, indeed “sacred trusts.”
Under international law, neither Jordan nor the recently-invented “Palestinian” Arab people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have a substantial claim to the sovereign possession of the West Bank.

To sum up: the Jewish claim to the “West Bank” is based clearly on the Palestine Mandate of the League of Nations, which gave Jews the right to settle anywhere between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, and from the Golan in the north to the Red Sea in the south. That right was not extinguished when the League of Nations came to an end. Article 80 of the U.N. Charter recognized the continuing relevance of the Mandate’s provisions. The West Bank always formed part of the territory assigned to the Jewish National Home, where the British were to “facilitate Jewish immigration” and to “encourage close settlement by Jews on the land.” Jordan was an “illegal occupier” of the West Bank from 1948 to 1967; in 1967, through its military victory, Israel at last became able to enforce the claim it had never relinquished.

Biden is almost certainly unaware that the Mandate for Palestine assigned all of the territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean to the Jewish state. Such ignorance is widespread; few among the political and media elites in the Western world have bothered to read the Mandate, or Article 80 of the U.N. Charter. If they did, they would understand that the Mandate itself gives Israel the right to build settlements – which then naturally grow to become villages and cities – all over the West Bank. Biden’s remarks to AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference in Washington, DC strongly criticized what appears to be growing momentum toward unilateral Israeli annexation of large parts of the West Bank.
Israel has to stop the threats of annexation and settlement activity,” he said. “That’s going to choke off any hope for peace.
Biden has things all wrong. First of all, it is insulting to describe Israel’s people and government discussing the merits of annexation of part or all of the West Bank as constituting “threats.” Israel does not intend to “threaten” anyone in debating the question of how much of the West Bank to annex at first, and according to what timetable. No threats have been uttered or implied. It’s the Arabs and Iranians who have a long history of “threatening” about one thing or another if they do not get their way. Some, like Iran, threaten to wipe out Israel or to attack America. In October 1973, the Gulf Arabs threatened to decrease their deliveries of oil so as to destroy the economies of the West. Iran has repeatedly threatened to shut down the shipping lanes in the Straits of Oman and to hit American bases in the Middle East; Turkey has threatened to close the American base at Incirlik and threatened the leaders of Germany and the Netherlands for not allowing Erdogan’s men to campaign among the Turks in both countries.

Biden believes the very opposite of the real situation. He thinks Israel is “choking off any hope for peace” with its settlement-and-annexation policy. Hopes for peace have been repeatedly dashed not by Israel, but by the Palestinian leaders – first Arafat and then Abbas – who came to Washington, were offered deals by Israeli negotiators that gave them 95%, and then 97%, of the West Bank, but the Palestinians disdained to even consider such offers. They wanted a total Israeli withdrawal and a “return” to the 1949 armistice lines, which the Arabs, who refused an Israeli offer in 1949 to make those armistice lines into internationally-recognized borders, now want to do so. It’s too late. The offer no longer stands. The train left that particular station 70 years ago. And even today, it’s Mahmoud Abbas who is “choking off any hope for peace” by refusing even to discuss the Trump peace initiative.

What keeps the peace between Israel and the Arabs, including both the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, and the neighboring Arab states, is precisely the deterrent power of the IDF. And a critical, even indispensable component of that deterrence is Israel’s continued possession of the West Bank. It needs to have some minimal strategic depth on its eastern flank, so that the IDF can hold off a potential invasion force from the east while Israel reservists are still being mobilized. If Israel were forced to surrender the West Bank – as Biden implicitly thinks it should – it would be all of eight miles wide at its narrowest point, from Qalqilya to the Mediterranean.

Biden warns that such moves –any expansion of settlements, an, a formal annexation of some or all of the West Bank settlements that exist — are damaging Israel’s cause in the US:
To be frank, those moves are taking Israel further from its democratic values, undermining support for Israel in the United States, especially among young people of both political parties. That’s dangerous. We can’t let that happen.
Israel is not moving “further from its democratic values.” In Israel itself, a thriving democracy treats Israeli Jews and Arabs equally. Arabs serve in the Knesset, sit on the Supreme Court, are high-ranking diplomats, and are even officers in the IDF. They study, live, and work beside Jews. There is no apartheid, contrary to the claims of pathological Israel-haters. As for the Palestinians in the West Bank, Israel has welcomed the Trump Plan, which not only contemplates an independent Palestinian state, but also hopes to raise some $50 billion in aid for that new state, a colossal sum that would do much to increase the prosperity among Palestinians. Abbas turned down flat the Trump Plan even before reading it. Nor did he wish to discuss that potential aid of $50 billion for the Palestinians that had been mentioned in the meeting in Manama, Bahrain – a meeting that Abbas refused to attend or to send representatives. Now that Mahmoud Abbas and his sons have amassed a family fortune of $400 million, they don’t appear too concerned about the people, many of them living on the edge, whose interests the Palestinian leadership is supposed to further.

Israel has no desire to rule over Palestinians in the West Bank; it wants them to have a separate state, where they have full control over their own domestic destinies. Israel only wants to ensure that such a state would be sufficiently demilitarized – as, for example, by not having an air force – so as to not be able to threaten Israel. But otherwise, Israel is ready to accept a state of “Palestine,” even on land that Israelis know belongs to them, as long as it will lack the wherewithal to militarily threaten Israel. This readinesss of Israel to yield land on the West Bank so that it might become most of “Palestine” has gotten Israel no credit; Biden should give recognize that sacrifice and give the Israelis the credit they deserve.
You don’t have to be anti-Palestinian to be pro-Israeli,” Biden told the conference. “Israeli and Palestinian children are equally deserving of safety, security, and an opportunity to pursue their dreams.
Is Biden suggesting that Israel standing on its rights, both under the Mandate for Palestine, and according to an entirely independent justification for its holding onto the West Bank, U.N. Resolution 242, which guarantees Israel the right to “secure and recognizable boundaries,” is somehow illegitimate? Are “Palestinian” children, who are raised in a culture of extreme violence, who are taught to hate and to want to kill Jews – on Palestinian children’s shows you can see these serious-faced youngsters, ages four to seven, making stabbing notions with their knives as they chant slogans about killing Jews — really the moral equals to Jewish children, who are not taught to hate at all? And when Biden thinks that “Palestinian children are equally deserving of safety, security, and an opportunity to pursue their dreams,” he’s not taking into account what really goes on.

It’s the Palestinian terrorist leaders who endanger the lives of Palestinian children, by deliberately placing weaponry in schools, hospitals, and in apartment buildings, in order that children will be killed by incoming Israeli fire. It is the terrorist leaders who deliberately place Palestinian children in the front rank of the marchers during the Great March of Return, hoping they will be wounded or killed and thus become grist for the propaganda mill of Hamas. And what are the “dreams” of these Palestinian children? Their main “dream” is to kill Jews, all the Jews. How does Joe Biden intend to undo their entire upbringing, based as it is on the Qur’an itself, and the more than one hundred verses that command Muslims to engage in endless warfare – to fight, to kill, to smite at the necks of, to strike terror in the hearts of, the Infidels, and especially to fight and to kill the hated Jews, the worst enemies of the Muslims. Biden does not realize the depth of the pathological hatred of Jews among the Palestinians, a hatred based on the immutable Qur’an. When he refers to giving the Palestinian children their “opportunity to pursue their dreams,” he should be made to understand that while an Israeli child’s dream might be to become a pilot, or a journalist, or to work in a high-tech or agricultural start-up, the dreams of the Palestinian children are always to kill as many Jews as they can.
However, Biden said, the Palestinians must take steps to advance peace as well.
“Palestinians need to eradicate incitement on the West Bank,” he said. “They need to end the rocket attacks from Gaza. They need to accept once and for all the reality and the right of a secure democratic and Jewish State of Israel in the Middle East.”
Vaste programme, monsieur – as De Gaulle once answered a heckler who had cried out “Mort aux cons!” (“Death to all dopes!”). The Palestinians are not going to “eradicate incitement on the West Bank.” Whether you are a Slow Jihadist of the Palestinian Authority, or a Fast Jihadist of Hamas, you want the same goal: an end to the Jewish state and its replacement by “Palestine.” Biden assumes that Israel is invincible. Sadly, it isn’t true. The numbers of precision-guided missiles, as many as 140,000, that Hezbollah possesses in southern Lebanon aimed at Israel, the similar stockpile of rockets that Hamas has in Gaza, Iran’s bases both in Iran for long-range missiles that could potentially strike anywhere in Israel and, from closer up, in Syria (though Israel has been carefully destroying them) – these are the unprecedented dangers the Jewish state faces. It cannot be expected to perform miracles; it should not be asked to live with dangers no other country has. Israel requires a minimum of strategic depth, and for that it needs the West Bank.

Biden does not realize the Islamic basis of the pathological hatred for Israel. It cannot be waved away. The Palestinians will never eradicate incitement on the West Bank or — still more unlikely — in Gaza. Why did Biden not mention the threat from Gaza? Was it oversight, or his realization that the terrorists in Gaza, those of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, will never stop such incitement to violence against Israel; it is their reason for being?

Biden should say something like this:
Look, here’s the deal: Israel is the only state the Jewish people have. They have lived in the Land of Israel for more than 3000 years. It came into existence against all odds. It was the refuge that took in hundreds of thousands of Jewish survivors of the Nazi camps. A little later, Israel took in 800,000 penniless Jews who had fled or been expelled from Arab countries. It managed to fight, and win, three major wars for its survival. It has fought, and won, many smaller campaigns as well against the PLO, Hamas, and Hezbollah. The Arabs already have 22 states. They are, in fact, more richly endowed with states than any other people in the world. That matters. They’ve proven to be masters of propaganda. The Arabs, with some help from Soviet experts in disinformation, deliberately created the ‘Palestinian people’ in the 1960s and managed to convince the world that the local Arabs were this separate people, so that the lopsided war of the Arabs against on Israel could be presented merely as a conflict between ‘two tiny peoples, each wanting its homeland.’ There was nothing to distinguish ‘Palestinian’ Arabs from other Arabs in the same region. Not language, not religion, not customs, not anything. Zuheir Mohsen, a leader of the Palestinian terrorist group As Saiqah, succinctly explained – and please listen closely because it’s important, and I just wish Bernie was here to hear it — ‘The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism.’
Now – and here’s my other point – it’s not just the Mandate for Palestine that gives Israel the right, should it wish, to hold onto, and allow Jews to settle on, the West Bank. All of the West Bank. There is U.N. Resolution 242. Any of you remember it? Well, it’s very important. It’s the Resolution that was passed by the General Assembly in the fall of 1967. And it gave Israel the right to retain territories it won ‘in the recent conflict’ – the Six-Day War – if it was necessary for its security. The phrase used was to assure Israel it would have ‘secure and recognizable boundaries.’ Now back in 1967, President Johnson had the Joint Chiefs send some military experts to Israel to report on what territories Israel would have to keep for defensive reasons. And they came back the report – I read it recently – that said that in the West Bank, the Israelis would have to keep, at an absolute minimum, the Jordan Valley, so as to protect against invasion from the East. At a minimum. That’s what they said. And Israel’s military has no intention of giving up control of the West Bank. You have to see Israel, as I have –see how very small it is, and how much it needs the West Bank in order to survive.
Lord Caradon, the British ambassador to the U.N. who was the main author of Resolution 242, when subsequently interviewed explained that the Arabs kept trying to change a particular phrase in that Resolution, which calls for Israeli withdrawal ‘from territories’ won in the recent conflict. The Arabs kept trying, and kept failing, to have that phrase changed to ‘all the territories.’ They never got it. And so, reinforcing the Mandate for Palestine, there is U.N. Resolution 242, which gives Israel an independent right on which to stake its claim to the West Bank.
Look, the Palestinians have an offer: a state of their own, with a capital in a suburb of East Jerusalem, and what’s more, $50 billion in aid. $50 billion! Think of what they could do with that money. I don’t agree with President Trump on almost anything. But his peace initiative is worth a try. A half-dozen Arab countries – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Bahrain, Oman – gave it their initial approval, as a starting point. They had to vote with all the others against the plan at the Arab League, and the O.I.C. Nobody wants to stand out. It was a pro-forma protest. But it’s pretty clear to me that many of them are tired of the whole Palestinian business. They’ve got civil wars in Libya, Syria, and Yemen. They’ve got problems with the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic State remnants around the Middle East. Egypt is in a water war with Ethiopia. Lebanon’s economy is cratering, and Hezbollah has taken over the whole shebang. And above all, they’ve got to worry about an aggressive Iran, which is in Yemen, and Iraq, and Syria, and Lebanon, causing as much mischief as it can. That’s gotta be more important than whatever Mahmoud Abbas wants.
The time is ripe for the Palestinians to realize that this is the last, best deal they’re going to be offered. It’s not just me saying that. Not just Joe Biden. It’s the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Bahrainis, the Egyptians. That’s the difference between me and Bernie on the Middle East. He’s just got it in for Israel. It’s weird. He thinks Netanyahu is a ‘racist.’ He thinks Israel is a ‘racist’ state. He might even move the Embassy back to Tel Aviv. I think he’s nuts. My position is clear: I want the Israelis to stay safe, to have their IDF always able to deter any would-be aggressors, and to keep the territory it needs – it’s Israel’s decision, not ours — to make that deterrence credible. There’s a lot I didn’t know before. But now I’ve read the Mandate, and Resolution 242, and a lot else besides. So let’s stop talking about ‘occupied Palestinian lands’ and have Israel’s rights to the West Bank — the whole West Bank — recognized. And let Israel take it from there.
Yes, I know. A fantasy. Feel free to send that fantasy to the Biden campaign. Someone just might persuade him to read it. Stranger things have been known to happen.

Hugh Fitzgerald


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

New York City’s disastrous Democratic leadership - Ron Jager

by Ron Jager

A reasonable observer would expect a minimum level of professionalism from New York City Health Commissioner, and concern, not indifference, from the mayor. By the time they took the pandemic seriously, corona virus was running wild in the city.

A reasonable observer would expect a minimum level of professionalism form New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. One wouldn’t expect that someone charged with protecting New York City’s public health would instead endanger the well-being of New Yorkers by ignoring the severe health ramifications and the very real danger of the Corona virus.

However, while most of the Democratic leadership of New York City was busy criticizing President Trump for deciding to impose travel restrictions on those entering the United States and dismissing the incoming threat of the coronavirus in February, this Health Commissioner was quoted stating the following on numerous TV interviews; "The risk to New Yorkers from coronavirus is low and ... our preparedness as a city is very high."

Barbot said this at a press conference supporting the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade and Festival. "There is no reason not to take the subway, not to take a bus, not to go out to your favorite restaurant and certainly not to miss the parade next Sunday [Feb. 9]."

The unprofessional behavior of New York City’s Health Commissioner, a Democratic Party appointee, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, has been labeled by many health officials as possibly criminally negligent. Under different circumstances she should have been forced to excuse herself and resign immediately pending further legal action.

Over the past few weeks as we have witnessed the snowball effect of the rate of infection of the Corona virus, New York City officials in a Democratic administration should be held accountable for increasing the “risk” for the residents of New York City.  They not only egregiously dismissed the Corona Virus outbreak and Pandemic in its earlier stages, but actually encouraged unrestricted public behavior as if there was no danger of being infected, as if they knew what they were talking about.

The human cost of the Democrat's nonchalant policy has been deadly for New Yorkers. 
Had this incredulous and negligent behavior by the Health Commissioner, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, been an isolated incident, the risk might have been contained to a minimum level. Unfortunately, Mayor Bill de Blasio also failed to shield the residents of New York City, partly through inaction but largely through indifference.

As the deadly Corona Virus emerged from China, invaded Europe and began to spread at an exponential rate throughout the world, the Trump administration was formulating national policies to deal with the high mortality rate expected from COVID-19, understanding that the situation was one of life-or-death. Yet at the same time Mayor de Blasio was busy criticizing President Trump for imposing border restrictions into the United States in an attempt to prevent the import of the Corona Virus through the airports and borders. 

Mayor de Blasio’s indifference to the Corona virus threat probably contributed more to New York City becoming an epicenter of Corona virus infection in the United States more than the actions of his criminally negligent Health Commissioner. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the media at one of his many and highly effective coronavirus response press conferences that he believed New York City schools should be closed.

Mayor Bill de Blasio had consistently refused till then to shut down schools despite fellow Democrats in the tri-state demanding that he do so. De Blasio’s refusal to cancel school a week and more after most other districts in the tri-state had done so, contributed significantly to the acceleration of the outbreak of the Corona virus in New York City.

An additional de Blasio decision that contributed to the pace of the outbreak had to do with instituting a significant reduction schedule in public transportation, primarily with the New York City subway system forcing unusual crowding among subway riders who were largely unprotected. One would expect that at the same time the Mayor instituted a significant reduction in the subway schedule, he would authorize the cancellation of alternate side parking or cancel metered parking, encouraging those still working outside their home to use private cars so as to limit exposure to the potential danger of being infected on public transportation. Instead. his administration encouraged use of public transportation and continued to dis-incentivize the use of private cars. Alternate side parking was suspended only a few days ago and metered parking restrictions are still in effect as of this writing.  

Mayor de Blasio’s incompetent response to the Corona virus  along with his administration’s Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot, most likely doomed New York City to a fate similar if not worse than Italy and Spain. De Blasio’s irresponsible and reckless delays probably cost many deaths that otherwise could have been avoided. The number of infected, hospitalized, and dead is rising at an exponential rate, meaning the worst is yet to come for New York City residents; So far, 36,221 cases of Corona infection in New York City, including 790 deaths (as of March 29th).

In recent days with social distancing and forced stay at home guidelines issued by the Federal and New York State authorities, New Yorkers should hopefully experience a major reduction in infections and deaths over the coming weeks and months. The Democratic leadership of New York City would be wise to examine their policy decisions over the past month so as to avoid repeating similar decisions that can adversely affect the good people of the City of New York. 

Ron Jager grew up in the South Bronx of New York City, making Aliyah in 1980. Served for 25 years in the IDF as a Mental Health Field Officer in operational units. Prior to retiring was Commander of the Central Psychiatric Clinic for Reserve Solders at Tel-Hashomer. Since retiring has been involved in strategic consultancy to NGO's and communities in the Gaza Envelope on resiliency projects to assist first responders and communities. Ron has written numerous articles for outlets in Israel and abroad focusing on Israel and the Jewish world. To contact: Website:


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

China lied about coronavirus, putting world in jeopardy, US intelligence agents say - Barnini Chakraborty

by Barnini Chakraborty

China's decision to downplay its numbers could have deadly consequence for the rest of the world.

As coronavirus cases have jumped in recent days, China misled the world by purposely underreporting its numbers of patients and deaths, three U.S. intelligence officials say.
In a classified report sent to the White House, the officials said that China's public record of COVID-19 infections was deliberately deceptive and incomplete.

Bloomberg, which first reported the news, cited three U.S. intelligence officers who they said they alerted the White House last week to Beijing's misleading numbers. Two of the three sources called the numbers flat-out fake.


While there have been skeptics all along, China's decision to downplay its numbers could have deadly consequence for the rest of the world.

Deborah Birx, the State Department immunologist advising the White House on its response to COVID-19, said Tuesday that China's numbers influenced assumptions in other countries about the nature of the contagion.

"The medical community made -- interpreted the Chinese data as: This was serious, but smaller than anyone expected because I think probably we were missing a significant amount of data, now that what we see happened to Italy and see what happened to Spain."


Since the beginning of the pandemic, China has been accused of multiple coverups. It has shifted its timeline on what it knew and when it knew it and has gone after critics, doctors and whistleblowers trying to sound the alarm.

In recent weeks, China has launched a coordinated campaign to boost its global image. It has rebranded itself, tried to restart its economy and sold supplies to hard-hit countries struggling to contain the virus within their borders.

"The only thing better than playing themselves as a victim is showing that they can emerge as a resilient hero," Greg Barbaccia, an expert in counterintelligence, insider threat and corporate espionage, told Fox News.

Barbaccia, who spent five years on active duty as an intelligence sergeant in the U.S. Army, said China is taking advantage of the current economic landscape and using it to their advantage as other countries like Italy and Iran struggle

Not only has China clogged up its own airwaves with propaganda touting the country's success in taming COVID-19, it has also pledged millions of dollars to the World Health Organization and in return has received public accolades.

A U.N. report released Wednesday praised China for sharing the genetic sequence of COVID-19. What it didn't highlight was that Chinese officials didn't report the first case of coronavirus until forced to and that documents later revealed that China knew about the dangers of the virus two months before reporting it. Had China been forthright, COVID-19 could have been contained.

On Wednesday, there were more than 847,081 confirmed cases of coronavirus around the world. The U.S. surpassed 200,000 cases Wednesday. Globally, the number of those infecting will likely hit the million mark by Friday. In the United States there have been 4,417 deaths. The body count globally stands at 45,497.

Barnini Chakraborty


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Why Italy? - Tracy Beanz

by Tracy Beanz

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-charles Bensoussan

The result of Italy's intense relationship with China

  • Hundreds of thousands of Chinese immigrants now live both legally and illegally in Italy, with 300K legally registered and many more illegal.
  • Italy recently entered into a new economic partnership with China called “One belt, One road”
  • China has revitalized northern Italian ports in order to transport goods more efficiently to the rest of Europe
  • The mayor of Florence initiated a social media campaign called “Hug a Chinese” using Chinese produced video as an engine to dispel the “racism” against the Chinese in Italy
Thirty years ago, Italy saw the beginnings of what would become a serious issue with illegal immigration. What was surprising, was that the immigrants couldn’t just walk over a border to enter the country, they had to flock from China. It began with Italians hiring the Chinese off the books at cheap wages to work making garments in towns and villages renowned for their craftmanship, and morphed into Italians seeing the Chinese learn how to do it faster and cheaper; often times watching as their family owned businesses were shuttered because they were outbid. The Chinese took over the Italian craft and made it their own. What didn’t change was the coveted “Made in Italy” label. The NY Times began documenting the trend in 2010 writing:

Over the years, Italy learned the difficult lesson that it could no longer compete with China on price. And so, its business class dreamed, Italy would sell quality, not quantity. For centuries, this walled medieval city just outside of Florence has produced some of the world’s finest fabrics, becoming a powerhouse for “Made in Italy” chic.

And then, China came here.

Chinese laborers, first a few immigrants, then tens of thousands, began settling in Prato in the late 1980s. They transformed the textile hub into a low-end garment manufacturing capital, enriching many, stoking resentment and prompting recent crackdowns that in turn have brought cries of bigotry and hypocrisy.

The city is now home to the largest concentration of Chinese in Europe; some legal, many more not. Here in the heart of Tuscany, Chinese laborers work round the clock in some 3,200 businesses making low-end clothes, shoes and accessories, often with materials imported from China, for sale at midprice and low-end retailers worldwide.

The trend continued as whole villages in Italy became Chinese villages, with the Chinese displacing the Italians who lived there, creating their own neighborhoods, and pushing out decades of Italian family owned business. They weren’t known for following the rules. It caused much local consternation; the Italians were forced to pay their taxes and follow the employment guidelines, while the Chinese seemed to have built flourishing enterprises by skirting the rules, treating their people poorly, and engaging in rich human smuggling operations, to boot. There was little accountability for the Chinese, and much for the native Italians.

Outside of the typical problems one would see with such an influx of immigrants from a far-off land, were also other, more scandalous ones.

In 2017, the Bank of China agreed to pay a 600,000 euro fine to settle a money laundering case involving its Milan branch, court documents showed. The Florence court hearing the case gave four employees of the Milan branch of China’s fourth biggest bank a suspended two-year prison sentence for failing to report illicit money transfers. Florence prosecutors leading the so-called “River of Money” investigation alleged that more than 4.5 billion euros ($4.78 billion) was smuggled to China from Italy between 2006 and 2010 by Chinese people living mainly in Florence and nearby Prato. About half of the money was sent via BOC, the prosecutors said. The court also ordered BOC to pay back 980,000 euros which it said it had earned through the illegal operations. According to the prosecutors, the proceeds sent to China came from a series of illegal activities, including counterfeiting, embezzlement, exploitation of illegal labour and tax evasion. Bank of China said in a statement it had not committed any crime and was not admitting guilt by agreeing to pay the fine, which was a way of closing the case and saving time.

The wheel of corruption kept spinning, and the Italian people became more and more angry. Sometimes, this led to violence. It also led to a nationwide sentiment that something needed to change, and the populist uprising we have been seeing across the globe also began to take a foothold in Italy.

From 2018:
At a time when Europe is filled with anti-immigrant rhetoric, political extremists have pointed to the demographic shifts in Prato as proof that Italy is under siege. In February, Patrizio La Pietra, a right-wing senator, told a Prato newspaper that the city needed to confront “Chinese economic illegality,” and that the underground economy had “brought the district to its knees, eliminated thousands of jobs, and exposed countless families to hunger.” Such assertions have been effective: in Italy’s recent national elections, Tuscany, which since the end of the Second World War had consistently supported leftist parties, gave twice as many votes to right-wing and populist parties as it did to those on the left. Giovanni Donzelli, a member of the quasi-Fascist Fratelli d’Italia party, who last month was elected a national representative, told me, “The Chinese have their own restaurants and their own banks—even their own police force. You damage the economy twice. Once, because you compete unfairly with the other businesses in the area, and the second time because the money doesn’t go back into the Tuscan economic fabric.”

In March of 2019, Italy entered into a new agreement with China, part of its “one belt, one road” initiative, a sweeping economic agreement with the country that saw the port of Triesta in northern Italy “revitalized” and managed by The PRC.

The project makes enormous infrastructure investments to move Chinese goods and resources. Italy became the first of the Group of 7 nations that once dominated the global economy to take part in China’s “One Belt One Road” throughout Asia, Africa and Europe.

The Trump administration, which tried and failed to stop the deal, focused in the days leading up to Mr. Xi’s visit on blocking any Italian use of 5G wireless networks developed by the Chinese electronics giant Huawei, which Washington warned could be used by Beijing to spy on communications networks.

Italy, which is saddled with crushing debt, hopes to lift its lagging economy by exporting goods to China and inviting more Chinese investment.

But opponents of the project in the Trump administration and in the European Union worry that Italy has turned itself into a Trojan Horse, allowing China’s economic — and potentially military and political — expansion to reach into the heart of Europe.

The detailed reporting on this slow takeover is expansive, and we could continue here for many paragraphs, but let us fast forward to early 2020. As China withheld information about the seriousness and spread of Wuhan corona-virus, many of these immigrants were returning- and arriving – from China. Once news of the virus became mainstream and China felt increasing backlash over the handling of the crisis, they turned to one of their major economic hubs for some help.

It wasn’t chance. It wasn’t age. It wasn’t overall health, and it wasn’t the good-hearted nature of the Italian people that caused the virus to ravage their nation. It was a leadership who are now under the thumb of the Chinese government.

On February 1, 2020, the mayor of Florence initiated something called “Hug a Chinese” day.

This video was released on February 4, and was produced by the Chinese government. Under the guise of being “woke”, the Italian government prodded their citizens to erase the stigma surrounding the virus, and hug one of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese who had been living, recently returned, or recently arrived in Italy. Italy had become dependent on China, and their capital is a large percentage of the Italian economy. When “One Belt One Road” began early in 2019, the Italians made clear they were willing to partner with China in their quest for global dominance, and sadly it appears in their attempt to please the purse strings, they put a large percentage of their citizens in harms way.

This may also explain the enormous amount of aid and assistance flowing into Italy now by way of China. Far from being compassionate, the Chinese are likely looking to protect their investment.

So when folks ask, “Why Italy?” the reasons are clear. Along with an ageing population who may not be the healthiest, there is also a government now beholden to China, who acting at their behest, took extreme measures to the opposite of social distancing. For an in depth look at the cluster history inside Italy, please see here.

China’s global dominance has become clear even to the average observer in recent months, as Americans have become aware of the supply line dependence on China for even our most vital commodity; medicine. UncoverDC columnist Carol King detailed some of those issues in a piece that you can read here. We have even witnessed the legacy media seemingly hold water for the communist nation, choosing to parrot the claim of “racism” against China because our President has chosen to correctly name the virus what it is, the Chinese virus – rather than bow to the propaganda of a foreign nation hell bent on our destruction.

If one positive thing can come of the Wuhan corona-virus, maybe it will be that the world will finally open its eyes to just how sinister China has been over the past few decades, slithering in to our households, seemingly unbeknownst to us, and co-opting even our most basic necessities. Time will tell, but one thing is clear- it appears that “Why Italy?” is more nefarious than anyone could have initially thought.

Tracy Beanz is the Founder and Editor in Chief at UncoverDC. You can follow her on Twitter @TracyBeanz


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Coronavirus Poses a Greater Threat to the Ayatollahs than US Sanctions Do - Con Coughlin

by Con Coughlin

Now the anger of ordinary Iranians at the regime's economic mismanagement has been replaced by outrage at the clerics' attempts to conceal the true extent of Iran's coronavirus outbreak

  • The Iranian regime's failure to grasp the significance of the outbreak in its own country has led 16 other countries in the region to claim that their own outbreaks originated in Iran. These include Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates.
  • The European aid package, which is said to be worth $548,000, is the first transaction conducted under a trade mechanism known as the Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges, or Instex, which has been set up by the Europeans to enable them to barter humanitarian goods and food with Tehran after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.
  • Tehran would be well-advised, though, not to regard the aid delivery as raising the prospect of the sanctions being eased. The new trading arrangements set up by Europe have been designed not to breach the Trump administration's policy of applying "maximum pressure" against Iran, so that Instex can only be used for the delivery of humanitarian aid and food.
  • This means that, while the aid delivery might help to fight the coronavirus pandemic, it will do little to alleviate the pressure on Iran's incompetent, and increasingly unpopular, leadership.

The Iranian regime's disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic could ultimately pose a greater threat to the survival of the ayatollahs than the impact of Washington's uncompromising sanctions regime. Pictured: Firefighters disinfect a street in Tehran, Iran on March 13, 2020. (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

The Iranian regime's disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic could ultimately pose a greater threat to the survival of the ayatollahs than the impact of Washington's uncompromising sanctions regime.

Up until the coronavirus outbreak, the main challenge facing the clerical regime was the devastating impact the Trump administration's hard-hitting sanctions were having on the Iranian economy.

With the economy shrinking at the rate of 10 percent a year, and unemployment hovering around the 20 percent mark, the regime was under increasing pressure from anti-government protesters angry at the regime's mishandling of the economy.

Opposition groups claimed that more than 600 protesters were killed as regime hardliners tried to crush opposition to the regime.

Now the anger of ordinary Iranians at the regime's economic mismanagement has been replaced by outrage at the clerics' attempts to conceal the true extent of Iran's coronavirus outbreak, which has spread to all of the country's 31 provinces.

In its first public reference to the outbreak on February 19, the regime told people not to worry about the virus. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused Iran's "enemies" of exaggerating the threat.

A week later, as the number of cases and deaths surged, President Hassan Rouhani echoed the Supreme Leader's words and warned against the "conspiracies and fear-mongering of our enemies".

He said these were designed to bring the country to a standstill and urged Iranians to continue their everyday lives. More recently, state-controlled Iranian television channels have claimed the coronavirus could be a US-manufactured "bio-weapon", with the Supreme Leader tweeting about a "biological attack".

Consequently, as Iran's ruling elite have been in a state of denial about the scale of the outbreak, the epidemic has spread to the extent that Iran is currently suffering from the worst coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. The latest official death toll by Iran's health ministry claims there had been 2,898 fatalities at the end of March, with more than 44,000 confirmed cases.

Other reports say the death toll could be much higher, and claim 4,762 people had died as of March 31.

The Iranian regime's failure to grasp the significance of the outbreak in its own country has led 16 other countries in the region to claim that their own outbreaks originated in Iran. These include Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates.

The scale of the coronavirus crisis in Iran has resulted in increased tensions between the hardline supporters of Ayatollah Khamenei and the government of President Rouhani.

While the hardliners have flatly rejected offers of assistance from Washington to combat the outbreak, Mr Rouhani has adopted a more pragmatic approach which has resulted in Tehran receiving its first shipments of humanitarian aid from Britain, Germany and France -- the so-called E3, which are also the European signatories to the controversial nuclear deal with Iran.

The European aid package, which is said to be worth $548,000, is the first transaction conducted under a trade mechanism known as the Instrument In Support Of Trade Exchanges, or Instex, which has been set up by the Europeans to enable them to barter humanitarian goods and food with Tehran after the US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal

Britain, Germany and France said last month they had offered a 5 million-euro ($5.5 million) package to Iran to help fight the coronavirus outbreak, and are also planning to send medical material, including equipment for laboratory tests, protective body suits and gloves.

Tehran would be well-advised, though, not to regard the aid delivery as raising the prospect of the sanctions being eased. The new trading arrangements set up by Europe have been designed not to breach the Trump administration's policy of applying "maximum pressure" against Iran, so that Instex can only be used for the delivery of humanitarian aid and food.

This means that, while the aid delivery might help to fight the coronavirus pandemic, it will do little to alleviate the pressure on Iran's incompetent, and increasingly unpopular, leadership.

Con Coughlin is the Telegraph's Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

The EU and the Coronavirus Pandemic - Dr. Tsilla Hershco

by Dr. Tsilla Hershco

The EU functions poorly in crisis situations

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,515, April 1, 2020

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The coronavirus pandemic has exposed many of the EU’s inherent weaknesses, from its total unpreparedness for the crisis, to the open borders that expedited the spread of the disease, to the lack of solidarity reflected in member states’ refusal to help Italy in the initial critical phase of the pandemic. The union cooperates well in non-crisis situations, but its complacency, lumbering bureaucracy, and sluggish decision-making processes hamper its ability to respond to urgent developments.

The coronavirus epidemic has exposed the EU’s gravest flaws. It failed to make plans for state cooperation to combat an epidemic, should one arise. The Union’s open border policy in accordance with the Schengen Agreement, which it considers its cardinal achievement, has turned out to be a major hindrance to the effort to contain the virus. The Union refused to suspend the Schengen Agreement even as the virus rapidly picked up momentum and minimized the dangers of the pandemic to the general public, missteps with grave human costs.

Europeans, often rightly critical of China’s human rights abuses and fearful of Beijing’s burgeoning economic strength, strongly criticized the fierce and undemocratic steps the People’s Republic took in the fight against coronavirus. But they failed to internalize the lessons learned from the human toll of the virus among Chinese citizens and its rapid spread to other Asian countries. Instead the EU pointed to China as an example that would not be followed by enlightened and progressive Europe.

When the virus spread to Italy, several EU countries responded by criticizing Italy for having become a viral hub while refusing to close their own borders with that country, a step that could have curbed the spread of the epidemic across Europe. It was the Chinese and the Russians, not the EU, who supplied desperately needed equipment to fight the plague in Italy. The Chinese also delivered equipment to Spain and France, which soon followed Italy into the heart of the crisis.

It is interesting to note that, in contrast to its non-response to Italy, the Union provided around 20 tons of aid to China as it struggled with coronavirus. It is not yet clear whether this marks a tightening of diplomatic relations between Europe and China to compensate for Europe’s worsening relationship with the US.

Europe’s complacency about the deteriorating situation in Italy was evident in the conduct of many Union countries. In France, for example, mass events took place at the annual agricultural fair in Port de Versailles, which opened on February 22 and continued even after the virus had appeared across the continent. President Macron attended the opening of the fair, where he was surrounded by crowds and talked to people with no apparent concern about either receiving or transmitting the virus. On March 6, Macron and an entourage visited a nursing home to announce a ban on visiting nursing homes—the irony compounded by neither the president nor his entourage taking even elementary precautions while at the site.

On the same day, the governor of the Haute-Rhine district in eastern France held a press conference attended by experts, senior province officials, and health authorities announcing new limitations on public gatherings, closures of educational institutions, and banning of visits to nursing homes. During the meeting, the speakers handed the microphone back and forth in violation of the very precautions they were discussing. Local government elections in France were held as scheduled on March 5, although the second round, which was scheduled for March 22, was canceled due to the rapid spread of the epidemic.

The EU gradually began to internalize the danger of coronavirus as it surged across the continent. On March 6, a special conference on coronavirus was held at the Union Health Ministers’ Forum, where it was decided that the states would cooperate and exchange information on the crisis. On March 17, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen acknowledged that the EU had underestimated the danger and declared the Union closed to citizens of non-European countries. Some EU member states, such as Spain, Denmark, and the Czech Republic, announced a total closure of their borders.

The EU has achieved considerable gains, mainly on economic issues, during non-crisis periods, but it has failed more than once to deal with crisis situations. Over the years, the Union has grown to include 28 member states and has gradually increased areas of integration across many spheres, including foreign policy and security. As a result, the EU has become a cumbersome bureaucratic body with a slow decision-making system that does not match the dynamic pace of events in the global arena or, for that matter, the domestic arenas of the member states. Unanimous decisions are required on key issues, including emergency situations, which makes action slow and difficult.

The EU’s handling of the massive refugee problem, for example, highlighted differences of opinion among its members that would ultimately have implications for the coronavirus pandemic. Eastern European countries such as Hungary and Poland initially balked at receiving refugees. In 2016, the Union reached an agreement with Turkey according to which Ankara would stem the influx of refugees in exchange for financial aid and the Union consented to receive refugees under certain conditions. The EU complied with this agreement, sending Turkey about €6 billion, but Ankara recently allowed refugees to reach the Greek border on the pretext that the Union had breached the agreement.

The Union has essentially put itself in the position of being extorted by Turkey. Greece has had to deal with this latest flood of refugees alone, a surge that was intensified by the recent military offensive in Idlib. This situation, which would be difficult even under relatively normal circumstances, could be dramatically more damaging for the Greek islands as it could lead to a broader local outbreak of coronavirus. Lesbos, for example, is crowded with refugees.

In recent years, the EU has faced harsh internal criticism from Euroskeptic parties in addition to challenging developments such as Brexit and a weakening of German-French cooperation, which has for years been the main engine for deepening and expanding European integration. The coronavirus pandemic should clarify for Europe that it has dangerous flaws that must be corrected so it can cope with global crises.

Dr. Tsilla Hershco is a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies and a member of the Israeli Association for the Study of the European Integration (IASEI).


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Some Toronto-Area Mosques Remain Open Despite Coronavirus Restrictions & Warnings - Christine Douglass-Williams

by Christine Douglass-Williams

The ever-persistent clash of civilizations.

According to a CBC report in Canada: “A group of Ontario imams and Islamic scholars is fighting an uphill battle to convince management at a handful of Toronto-area mosques to completely shutter their doors. They say that while a majority of mosques are closed….a few insist on remaining open. The imams believe the refusal to close the mosques exposes an allegiance to certain foreign scholars not heeding the calls.” This issue is beyond the Muslim community and there is no indication that it is being treated as such. 

On a global scale, the battle continues within Islam on whether to heed the orders and warnings about the coronavirus and practice social distancing, or to listen to Islamic clerics who insist on continuing prayers amid the coronavirus outbreak, and die a martyr if that is Allah’s will. Case in point: in a video that went viral, devoted Muslim Jafar Ghafouri was shown licking the metal gating of a shrine, saying  "I am eating the virus to reassure you and keep you coming to the mausoleum". Another worhipper said: “Stop playing with people's beliefs, coronavirus is nothing in the Shia shrines," while yet another declared “I am licking this and I don’t care what happens.”  

The risky behavior does not stop in Iran. Pakistan was reported to be the coronavirus super-spreader to the entire Muslim world, precisely because of the influence of determined Muslim clerics and an increasingly popular Islamic revival group called Tablighi Jamaat, which Pew Research Center describes as one of the largest faith-based movements in the world. According to an article in Haaretz:
The Tableeghi Jamaat’s reluctance to cite an infectious virus as cause for the disbandment is rooted in its regressive ideology, whose exponents have ranged from militant jihadists to radical preachers to Islamic televangelists unleashing a perilous blend of unscientific fantasies and bigoted fallacies. For these ideologues, cancelling congregational prayers owing to an infectious disease is synonymous with repudiating Allah’s command.
But it isn’t just the “Muslim world” at risk. The danger of spreading coronavirus transcends the borders of Islamic countries and communities which are adherent to the instructions of their clerics. Clerics who spew such fallacies like: coronavirus is Allah’s revenge upon ‘disbelievers’, that Muslims are immune to the virus, and even if they die, well.....they die a shahid (martyr).  In Islam, to die a martyr is the greatest honor which carries superior rewards in the afterlife.
Gaza’s first reported cases of coronavirus involved people who attended a Tablighi Ijtema (affiliated with Tablighi Jamaat) conference “alongside 250,000 Muslims in Pakistan last month that went ahead contrary to government advice.” 

Muslims also continue to gather for Friday prayers in India. Shubham Sharma, author at Asia Times wrote in Jihad Watch:
Now, in the time of coronavirus outbreak, they have increased their gatherings on the ground. Thousands of Indian Muslims are creating mayhem and refusing to go home in order to accomplish their ends. Their outlandish actions at the time of this deadly outbreak are plunging India into uncertainty. These demonstrations are simply spoiling the efforts of the government, which are widely supported by the Indian public, to contain the virus.
And right across the American northern border in Canada, imams who have complied with social distancing are concerned that some of their coreligionist leaders are non-compliant and putting Canadians at risk. These responsible imams “believe the refusal to close the mosques exposes an allegiance to certain foreign scholars not heeding the calls, and in the process endangering Canadian lives.” Although CBC reported that  this "group of Ontario imams and Islamic scholars is fighting an uphill battle to convince management at a handful of Toronto-area mosques to completely shutter their doors", the battle should not be left to Imams but to Canadian authorities. It is no secret that foreign influences from countries like Saudi Arabia, IranTurkey, Pakistan, and the Palestinian Territories have long been a big problem across Western countries, from their propaganda and funding to an exhaustive range of theological influences; and now, coronavirus. In multicultural Canada where political correctness-- particularly offending Muslims--is top priority, it now remains to be seen what action Toronto authorities (and other Western cities which may be facing the same dilemma) will take in light of this threat to the health of all communitie​s.
Christine Douglass-Williams is an international award winning broadcast journalist, news analyst, and author of two books: The Challenge of Modernizing Islam (Encounter Books) and Fired by the Government of Canada for Criticizing Islam (The Center for Security Policy). She's also a former Federal government appointee to Canada's office of Religious Freedoms, and to the Canadian Race Relations Foundation as a director. She is a regular writer for Jihad Watch and Associate Editor to FrontPage Magazine.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter