Friday, October 22, 2010

Center alerts NPR, Fox News, CPB: CAIR's role in Juan Williams firing may be violation of Foreign Agents Registration Act


by Mike Hamilton


WASHINGTON, DC: On October 21, 2010, the Center for Security Policy sent urgent alert notices to Juan Williams, news analyst for Fox News and recently fired news analyst for National Public Radio (NPR); Vivian Schiller, President and CEO, NPR; Roger Ailes, President, Fox News Channel; Bill O'Reilly, Fox News Channel; and the Inspector General of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), regarding a possible violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), warning that they may have been the target of an influence operation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which resulted in the firing of Williams.
On October 18 on the Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor," Williams stated "I get on the plane, I got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb and I think, you know, they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried. I get nervous." Two days later on October 20, CAIR issued a press release calling on NPR to take action against Williams. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad called Williams' comments "irresponsible and inflammatory" and complained that "media commentators who launch rhetorical attacks on Islam and Muslims normally do not suffer the professional consequences." CAIR's Awad called on NPR to "address" Williams' statements. NPR publicly announced the termination of Williams' contract the following day, October 21.
Center for Security Policy President Frank J. Gaffney Jr. said, "CAIR's position that journalists like Williams should normally ‘suffer the professional consequences' apparently created a hostile climate which may have led to Williams' firing. Since CAIR's beginnings in 1994, they have conducted targeted influence operations in the U.S. attempting to censor any criticism of Islam, jihad, and Islamic Shariah law. Their targets have included dozens of reporters, elected officials and ordinary citizens, but they have never registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act."
The Center's CAIR Observatory project tracks CAIR's apparent violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). The FARA states that organizations paid by a foreign principal to engage in activities to "influence any agency or official of the Government of the United States or any section of the public within the United States" must register as a foreign agent and report such activity to the Department of Justice. CAIR has never registered.
CAIR received $325,000 from the Saudi Arabia-based Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) to demand opposition to speech that they consider "Islamophobic." The OIC's "Ten Year Plan" calls on the U.S. government and other nations to enact laws "including deterrent punishments" to counter this so-called "Islamophobic" speech. The U.S. government funds NPR, which fired Williams, through Corporation for Public Broadcasting grants.
According to Gaffney, "The foreign payment of $325,000 to CAIR, and the OIC ‘Ten Year Plan' guidance to CAIR to demand ‘deterrent punishments' - or as CAIR's Nihad Awad put it, ‘professional consequences' - appear to have directed CAIR's influence operation targeting NPR, which may have led to NPR firing Williams."
The CAIR Observatory project documents CAIR's receipt of $6.6 million in contributions and $54.5 million in pledges from foreign principals in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iran, over 40 cases of meetings and coordination with those principals, and nearly 100 influence operations against government agencies, military and law enforcement, elected officials, candidates, media outlets and private corporations.
Alert notices were sent to Juan Williams, Vivian Schiller, Roger Ailes, Bill O'Reilly, and the CPB Inspector General on October 21st, and formal notifications will be sent on October 22nd. Copies of this correspondence will be provided to the Department of Justice's Counterespionage Section in the National Security Division, which is responsible for enforcing FARA and prosecuting violations of that act.


Mike Hamilton

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Prof. Chesler: Anti-Semitism Cannot be Equated with Islamophobia


by Phyllis Chesler

Even as Chancellor Angela Merkel pronounces the failure of “multiculturalism” in Germany, the English-language German newspaper reporter, Marc Young, writing for the English-language German news at The Local, proclaims that “bigotry towards Muslims is the new anti-Semitism.”

As the author of a book with the title The New Anti-Semitism (with an edition in German), allow me to remind Mr. Young that one of the things that is “new” about this most ancient of hatreds is that it is pandemic in the Islamic world and in Muslim communities in the West and that the multicultural relativists in the world’s universities, media, and political leadership, are collaborating with it in the name of “political correctness.”

Thus, what both Young and those who run the state-subsidized Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the University of Berlin have learned from the Nazi Holocaust is that Europeans should not discriminate against Muslims as they once did against Jews.

German scholar Clemens Heni strongly disagrees:

“There is no other prejudice or form of racism which you can compare to this centuries-long hatred (anti-Semitism) which has no real justification. If you look at Islam today, there is a point to Islamophobia because Jihadists say, ‘We want to kill the unbelievers.’ Jews never said that. Because as a German I have a responsibility to deal with my own history, and if I see that other Germans want to downplay anti-Semitism and to minimize the threat of Islamic jihad and other forms of anti-Zionism—I think there is something deeply wrong, they didn’t learn the lesson from the Holocaust, they are even downplaying the Holocaust itself.

“I think it’s really important to focus on anti-Semitism as a specific phenomenon. This was the subject of my first article in the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism. Most people in Germany and in academia focus on anti-Semitism as one prejudice among many like racism, colonialism, imperialism, sexism, whatever. That was the reason why Robert Wistrich, the leading historian of anti-Semitism, was never invited to the Berlin Center for Research on anti-Semitism for the last 20 years. Usually an institute, well-funded, with hundreds of thousands of Euros a year—they have to invite the leading scholars. They didn’t invite him. One must ask why.”

Heni has paid a punishing price for his beliefs and values. He has failed the test for political correctness, both in Berlin and at Israel’s own leading “post-Zionist” universities which have, so far, refused to hire him as a professor of German history who specializes in German anti-Semitism—when such positions have actually been available.

Ironic, yes?

Heni has worked with Robert Wistrich in Jerusalem and with Charles Small at the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism. He has written two books about anti-Semitism in Germany: Antisemitism in Germany: Preliminary Studies of a “Heartfelt” Relationship and Antisemitism as a Specific Phenomenon, and co-written the book German Middle Eastern Studies and Islamism After 9/11. He remains an independent scholar without a tenured position.

In a recent interview, Heni explained to me:
“The big controversy goes back to the conference in 2008 that equated Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, literally saying that the Muslims of today are in the same situation that the Jews were in during the late 19th century. And I’m a scholar of German history, I’ve written two books about that topic, including one about the late-19th century, so I know a little bit about what happened at that time. We had specific parties dedicated to spreading anti-Semitism, and right now we don’t have a single party spreading Islamophobia, saying ‘we don’t want any Muslims in our country,’ or that they should be killed.

So on the other hand, the Center says that after 9/11, we had an increase in hostility toward Muslims, which is a strange thing because Mr. Benz, the head of the center, was saying that after the killing of Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands in 2004, we had an increase in hostility toward Islam. He did not say that he was sorry about what happened to Mr. van Gogh, which was one of the most powerful political acts of killing in the last decade in Europe because it was a very Islamist, jihadist action.”

This precise European (and therefore post-Zionist Israeli) view of anti-Semitism was on display in a recent article in the New York Times about a new Hitler exhibit in Berlin. The article is titled “Hitler Exhibit Explores a Wider Circle of Guilt.” Those who were chosen to comment on the wisdom of such a display equated the persecution and extermination of Europe’s Jews with what is now going on in Europe vis a vis Europe’s Muslims. Thus, the University of Berlin’s Center for Research on Anti-Semitism and the post-Zionist Israeli Academy share the New York Times view that a hostile, anti-integration, pro-jihadic Muslim population in Europe is the same as a highly assimilated and/or pacifist Jewish population was in Europe in the past.

Leaping right over what is specific to the extermination of Europe’s Jews, Germans, as well as other Europeans today, are generalizing that tragic and unique history so as to justify the absorption of a far more dangerous and increasingly radicalized Muslim population.

Yes, of course: Germany welcomed “foreign workers” from Turkey whom they either never expected to stay or whom they assumed would be so grateful for a western life that they would happily integrate and become more German than Turkish. And yes, it is true: Germany has a history of racism towards Jews, gypsies, “foreigners.” However, today, Germany and the rest of Europe faces a far different challenge.

I wish to acknowledge the fine work of Esther’s Islam in Europe blog, and the assistance of Nathan Bloom in the preparation of this article.

Phyllis Chesler

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Why New START is a Non-Starter


by Frank Gaffney, Jr.

President Obama must be frantic. Among his most important personal and political priorities is ridding the world of nuclear weapons. Toward that end, he wants the U.S. Senate to rubber-stamp a seriously defective bilateral strategic arms control accord with Russia by which he hopes to set an example for other nuclear powers to disarm.

This so-called "New START" Treaty was in trouble even before it became clear that the window for Senate approval would be the short, post-election lame-duck session. The expected influx next year of conservative Republicans-- to say nothing of the prospect that one of them, Sharon Angle, may replace the Majority Leader Harry Reid, let alone the possibility that Mr. Reid's party may no longer be in the majority after November 2-- all but ensures New START will face even-greater skepticism in the next session of Congress.

Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, the prospects for getting what will soon be yesterday's Senate to go along with his radical disarmament agenda have been seriously diminished in recent days.

There are 41 Republican Senators today and-- thanks to the importance the Framers attached to the Senate's responsibility for providing quality control on international treaties-- just 34 of them can prevent ratification. At least that many, and perhaps virtually all GOP members, can be expected to object to hasty consideration of this particular treaty on three grounds:

New START is unverifiable. The Republican Vice Chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. Kit Bond, has written a classified letter to that effect and he summarized its findings in a conversation with me on Secure Freedom Radio last week: "I think the treaty is weak on verification especially compared to previous treaties like START and the INF treaty. We will have much greater trouble determining if Russia is cheating and given Russia's track record, that's a real problem."

New START will afford the Russians a say over our anti-missile defenses. In 2001, President Bush withdrew from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that had effectively given them a veto in such matters. A number of Senators have expressed concern that the Kremlin is correct when it asserts that the new accord's preamble and other provisions will effectively hobble once again America's ability to protect its people and allies, even from threats emerging from North Korea and Iran - and that Russia will withdraw from the treaty if that proves not to be the case.

For these reasons, Republican Senators led by Senator Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) and have been trying to extract from the Obama administration the New START negotiating record, in the hope of clarifying exactly what U.S. diplomats have promised the Russians on missile defense. These requests have been stonewalled by Team Obama, which has to date deigned to provide only a classified summary - a far cry from the authoritative text.

Critics of New START have been outraged to learn from press accounts that even as this defiant behavior continues, Mr. Obama's minions have been negotiating yet another agreement with Moscow - one that can only impose even more restraints on U.S. options with respect to missile defenses. A letter sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday by Senators Jeff Session and others observed caustically that according to an "October 1, 2010 Bloomberg report, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the U.S. and Russia are close to reaching an agreement on missile defense."

The Senators' letter ups the ante on the fight over the negotiating record. It requests the administration to provide "a copy of all documents (including the...Russian missile threat analysis) exchanged with the Russian Federation incident to the [Under Secretary of State Ellen] Tauscher-[Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey] Rybakov discussions, or any other venue, concerning U.S. missile defenses before the full Senate begins its consideration of the New START Treaty. We would also like to see all cable reporting on these discussions and any others involving U.S. missile defenses."

The Obama administration is not serious about maintaining America's deterrent. To be sure, the President has insisted that, while he seeks to eliminate all nuclear weapons, "As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary, and guarantee that defense to our allies."

Yet, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently disclosed that the deterrent is literally running out of gas. In a microcosm of the deteriorating condition of the U.S. nuclear arsenal more generally, the Obama administration and its predecessors have failed to provide an assured means of supplying tritium, a radioactive gas that is essential to boosting the explosive power of America's nuclear arms. Since tritium decays rapidly, such a failure is a formula - over time - for unilaterally disarming the United States. That may fit the President's denuclearization agenda, but it is inconceivable that 67 Senators will agree with it, certainly not in the Senate the American people will elect in November.

For all these reasons, the United States Senate must not allow itself to be railroaded during the abbreviated lame-duck session that will follow those elections into superficial consideration of an accord whose unverifiability, implicit and explicit limits on missile defense and contribution to this country's unilateral disarmament make New START truly a non-starter.

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. is President of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for the Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, Secure Freedom Radio, heard in Washington weeknights at 9:00 p.m. on WRC 1260 AM.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Travails of Modern Islam


by Daniel Pipes

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

It occurred to me that I should try and fit what I know into the mission of this organisation, so I will try something new. It will be a certain level of abstraction and I invite you in the Q&A to become far more specific.

I am a historian of the Muslim world and, in addition to the day-to-day issues that come up, I look at this civilisational unit as a whole. That's what I'll do now.

To start with, the Islamic religion prevails in majority-Muslim countries stretching from Senegal to Indonesia, and is not simply a Middle Eastern phenomenon. Muslim people can now be found in substantial numbers in Europe, North America, Latin America, and indeed, Oceania.

The Islamic religion is also a civilisation. One scholar gave it the name Islamicate, suggesting it can be seen along the same lines as the Italianate. I find this a useful concept. Islamicate civilisation includes non-Muslims who live in majority Muslim countries and who share certain attributes. For example, art can be called Islamicate. You can usually tell which is Muslim art; it's not exactly Islamic as it's not connected to the religion.

I spent the first part of my career trying to understand the nature of the connection between Islam and other aspects of life. In particular I took a topic that's a little bit exotic for the dissertation and my first book, titled Slave Soldiers and Islam. I examined a form of military organisation which is unique to the Muslim world and asked how can this phenomenon be connected to the religion of Islam, how can slaves be used as soldiers within these organisations? Of course, slaves were used as soldiers in emergency capacities in various places at various times, but the Muslim use of slaves as soldiers between roughly the years 800 and 1800 was not occasional and not only during emergencies. It was a centralised, very significant institution called the Mamluk Institution, or the Janissary Institution, and could be found over the centuries in different continents.

What possible connection could there be with what is happening today? To make a long story short, my thesis was that Islam demands of Muslims are so onerous to fulfil that for various reasons the Muslim populations withdrew from political life. As a result of this, the rulers needed to reach out to non-Muslims and the best way to do that was through this exotic form of slavery. That insight was one a step towards the larger question of how Islam influences politics.

In the broad sweep of history, the Islamic religion got off to a very fast and successful start. Muhammad himself fled Mecca in 622 A.D. By the time of his death, however, he was ruler of Arabia and within 100 years his followers had gone from Spain to India. This was more than just a military conquest. The Muslim faith was successful in culture, the arts, and the economy and created the great empires of its age. Had you looked around the world say precisely a millennium ago, August 20th, 1010, you would've concluded that Islam was the most successful civilisation, more so than those of China, Europe or India.

Starting from about 1200, especially after the Mogul invasions, the civilisation of Islam declined and stagnated for a long time. The striking fact was that Muslims long were generally unaware of this downturn although it finally became vividly obvious around 1800, especially when Napoleon landed in Egypt and wiped out the Ottoman and Mamluk armies. Napoleon brought with him a cadre of scientists who started studying the flora, fauna, and archaeology, savants who would eventually crack the code of Egyptian hieroglyphics. His was not only a military expedition but a scientific one as well. The contrast between the Egyptians and the French was stark and shocked Muslims into realising that, during their long period of stagnation, Europe had surged ahead.

Trauma followed. Muslims had assumed that they were blessed by God in both spiritual and mundane ways. Now they worried that God had forsaken them, which led to a profound reassessment of what it means to be a Muslim. Muslims saw themselves challenged by Europe and more broadly by the West, and this is a challenge that Muslims still face today. How is it that the people who should be on top – militarily, economically, politically, culturally, scientifically, technologically – how is it that they now sit at the bottom in terms of literacy, longevity, Nobel Prizes per capita, Olympic medals per capita? Indeed, whatever index you choose, Muslim states are at the bottom. Muslim people are not doing well; some of the worst countries in the world include Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iraq, all of which are majority Muslim. This is a great strain, a great challenge: What went wrong and how do they fix it? Indeed, Bernard Lewis wrote a book titled What Went Wrong?

How do Muslims explain all this?

Over the course of the past 200 years, there have been three major explanations. The first one was what one might call the liberal Western explanation, namely emulating the French and the British. These nationalities descended upon Muslim lands in particular; they built empires; they offered themselves as models. They were extremely successful and Muslims tended to emulate them. The symbolic figure of this trend was Kemal Atatürk, the ruler of Turkey between 1923 and 1938, who removed Islam from public life, replaced Arabic words with French words, brought in Belgian and Swiss legal codes, and in all made Turkey look increasingly Western.

But this didn't work. By the 1920s and 30s, despite Atatürk, there was a sense that this liberal effort had failed. So Muslim adopted another approach. The approach that appeared at that time to be most impressive was the illiberal Western approach. The 1920s were the hey-day of totalitarian societies, with Mussolini and Lenin in particular showing the way. These offered models that proved very influential; Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt symbolizes this approach to politics. For the next 50 to 60 years, the Fascist and Communist models prevailed in large swaths of intellectual and political life. They didn't do too well either, they didn't solve the problems of weakness and poverty.

So, with the disappointment in these two movements came a third solution, namely the Islamist one. The goal of this movement was not to emulate one form or another of Western ideology or power; it was to return to Islamic experience and to draw on the wisdom and achievements of Muslims in the past and to rehabilitate the Muslim world by learning from Islamic experience. The goal is to do something that is old, that draws on Islamic successes of past centuries. Ayatollah Khomeini symbolizes this approach.

Of course, you can't go back. You can emulate 7th-century Islam but you can't repeat it. Islamist movements of recent decades have created a new ideology, not revived something old. I am convinced this will be a failure too. The so far number-one experiment, the Islamic Republic of Iran, has failed by any standard, if only because a great majority of its subjects are rejecting it.

Bin Laden and Wahhabi-style Islamism clearly have no future. How can they run countries? Just imagine Bin Laden as ruler; it would be like the Taliban and it wouldn't work. Even a less extreme version, such as that in Iran, is not workable in the long term. Instead, what we're seeing is that the Islamists are evolving into something that is more sustainable. Turkey offers the outstanding model here. The Turkish Islamists run and win elections; they don't depend on violence. They exercise good economic stewardship and good governance more broadly. While Turkey has many problems, its Islamists have shown that an alternative exists. An era has begun in which Islamists in part use violence on the Bin Laden and in part they work the political system.

Many Islamist groups are making a name for themselves by engaging in social services. One of the tensions now in Pakistan is that the Islamists, as happened with the earthquakes some months ago, are coming in first with the most aid for the victims of flooding. They win good will and respect for their work.

Getting back to the central issue, how Muslims answer the question "What went wrong?" Are they approaching a functional answer? I think not but that we are in a very dark period of little creativity, much instability, and much violence. I don't see any improvements soon but I do anticipate the potential for improvement. Anything that can get worse can, logically, also get better, and I expect a working out of the Islamist impulse, to be followed by something more constructive. At some point, Muslims will begin to discard it and to look elsewhere. I don't know what they're going to look for. Will it be return to the 19th century and Western liberalism? Will it be following the Chinese model?

In the meantime, things could get worse. Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons are within grasp and could be used. This threat could lead to far greater instability. There is also considerable anger within the Muslim world as the great majority of Islamist victims have been Muslim, for example in Algeria and Darfur.

Certainly 9/11 was a major event in which some 3000 non-Muslims were killed. Other events like Bali and Madrid were about 200 people. But these are not large numbers by, say, the standards of the two world wars. So far the West has shrugged off Islamism and not seen it as a truly significant threat. That could change. There could be a far stronger reaction. We are at a point of flux. We will see anarchy in the countries that I named, starting with Somalia (which has experienced 20 years of anarchy). There will also be desperation, extremism, violence, brutality and misogyny.

One implication of this is that Muslims will want to leave their homelands. Where do they go? They don't go to other Muslim countries though there are exceptions. (Afghans go to Iran in huge numbers.) But by and large, they don't want to go to Turkey or Egypt or Indonesia. They want to go to the West for its economic well-being, freedom and security. As you in Australia know, with your substantial number of Lebanese, Somali, Afghan, Iraqi and other refugees, distance is not much of a deterrent.

The number of refugees is likely to grow. The challenge of mixing Islam and the West is already a major topic in much of Europe although not so much here in Australia or in the United States. And this is happening at a time when European birth rates are falling. Europeans are having two thirds of the children they need to sustain their numbers. There is an expectation that immigrants will cover the shortfall. In addition, the Christian religion in Europe is declining as is the sense of cultural confidence. At the same time, Muslim immigrants have plenty of children, religion and cultural confidence.

The West has never experienced such a challenge. I expect Europe will go in one of two rather unpleasant directions. One is to continue the trends of the last 50 years with more Muslims, more Islamic law and more tension, until it transits to becoming an Islamic society. The other is that Europeans at a certain point say – "No, we don't like this. We're going to stop it. We're going to use whatever means are necessary to stop it. We're going to throw people out; we might even kill them." It is too early to predict which trend will prevail.

The Muslim world, to sum up, is burdened by a sense of glory of its past success and power. It feels acutely the trauma of modernity. It's looking for excuses. At this moment, Islamism is the favourite solution but I see it as temporary. This population of over a billion people is in general stress and turmoil. I expect things will get worse before they get better. But they will eventually get better.

On that optimistic note, I conclude.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

QUESTION: You seem to intimate that the AKP (the Turkish Justice and Development Party) is the model. But aren't they becoming more and more anti-democratic? They're trying to take over the army. The free press that Turkey had is less free now after eight or so years. It would seem that the AKP can only go in one direction. It's going to become more and more authoritarian and totalitarian. Would you agree with that?

DR DANIEL PIPES: I agree with the facts that you've presented and I could present more evidence along those same lines. As the AKP has felt stronger, particularly vis- à-vis the military, it has stopped being so tentative and careful and has taken these sort of steps. Should it vanquish the military, should it do well in the next election which occurs by July 2011, I expect more squeezing, more pressure.

I agree with you, but I don't see why you conclude that this renders the AKP not a model. It looks like a pretty good model to me. It took power by being electorally attractive and then it changes the system. This is very different from Khomeini. I accept your facts but come to a different conclusion.

QUESTION: The less liberal you become the closer you get to the Iranian position. So alright, it won't happen suddenly with an ayatollah landing at the airport as happened in Iran. It'll just take 30 years rather than an instant landing; that's all I'm saying. Am I off the track there?

DR DANIEL PIPES: No, we're not disagreeing. There are two ways for Islamists to attain power, through violence or through the system. Working through the system is a brilliant evolution away from violence. Islamists were in the past dependent on violence. Khomeini got to power and then wanted to spread revolution, he didn't think about developing political parties. But Hezbollah, for example, which began as a Khomeini artefact in the early 1980's has become a political party of great influence in Lebanon. This is a more supple and flexible kind of approach to taking power than was the case earlier.

QUESTION: To follow the Turkish discussion, what will be the chance of them getting into Europe and can you try and explain why the British government is now favouring their entry to Europe?

DR DANIEL PIPES: The chances of Turkish accession to the European Union are very small. Nobody wants it – the Europeans don't want it and the Turks don't want it. Some leaders are trying to push it through. As for David Cameron, I have the sense that he may be not only the leader of the government, but it seems that Nick Clegg is really running the show.

QUESTION: Dr Pipes, perhaps starting from Gallipoli onwards, there's been a very emotional, special relationship between Australia and Turkey, with a very high regard on both sides. How would you see Australia being able to capitalise on that to influence events in modern Turkey?

DR DANIEL PIPES: The goal of the AKP is not to be a bridge between the West and the Muslim world. It is to be a leader of the Middle East. The foreign minister is a strategist who came up with a notion called Strategic Depth. I don't see where Australia fits into that, despite a century of history.

QUESTION: In relation to the two questions of what went wrong and how do we fix it, do you see a difference between hardcore Islamists and those that are less committed?

DR DANIEL PIPES: They are roughly the same. Various versions of Islamism exist. For example, in Saudi Arabia women can't drive, can't do this, can't do that. In Iran, they can. The Iranian idea is that they've created an Islamic republic where women are safe. In the Saudi vision, danger lurks in every corner and females need to be protected. There are many such differences in both style and substance. But in the end, all Islamists aspire to the same thing which is the application of Islamic law. Islamic law differs slightly in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran and India. They have different schools, but these are again details and in general the aspiration to apply Islamic law is common to all Muslims.

QUESTION: How significant do you think is the link between Turkey and Israel, especially after the Israeli boarding of the Turkish aid boat?

DR DANIEL PIPES: The Turkish government has used anti-Zionism primarily as a vehicle for isolating and discrediting the military. The military is its priority target, for it stands between the AKP and complete sovereignty. The military could at any moment push the Islamists aside, as it did as recently as 1997. But the military now feels weak. It reads the polls and follows elections like everyone else and it doesn't have the confidence to take over. The AKP has accused the military and others of engaging in anti-government activities and is arresting former military officers and wresting control of senior appointments.

QUESTION: Two things jumped out at me. The first related to the successful economic situation experienced by the West, at least until the event of the Global Financial Crisis. The second related to the effective use of technology. What impact did all this have on Islam and how are they likely to evolve?

DR DANIEL PIPES: The Muslim world in general is performing poorly in economic terms. Malaysia and Turkey would be the two exceptions. The great feature of the Muslim world is resources, not too different, in fact, from Western Australia. You don't so much make things as you export commodities. But Western Australia is just a small part of the West. There are almost no inventions from within the Muslim world. Which Egyptian company has an R&D department? Where's the entrepreneurship? It's just not there. There's little creativity. When there is, people go West. There are plenty of very talented Muslims but they don't have the opportunity to develop within their own countries. They go somewhere else – for medicine, computers, whatever it might be. The discovery recently of one trillion U.S. dollars worth of minerals in Afghanistan confirms the trend. Westerners find things and extract them. I see the Muslim world locked into this scenario for a long time to come; it's a little comparable to how the Soviet Union was spying forever on the West and getting its technology, information and insights from it.

This kind of dependence is hard to break. It requires cultural confidence. I've done some work comparing Japan and Turkey. I chose the two countries because Japan had the Meiji Revolution and Turkey had the Atatürk Revolution. Both leaderships not only modernized but Westernized. In Japan, the emperor insisted on ballroom dancing as a facet of Westernising. Likewise, Ataturk banned the turban. But a closer look at this comparison finds that Japanese had an inner confidence that manifested itself in a cultural ease. You can learn, adapt, and remain Japanese. Women, for example, can wear Japanese clothing for formal occasions and Western clothing for casual occasions and it doesn't mean a thing. It's impossible to imagine a Turk donning a traditional outfit without that being a huge cultural and religious statement. Women who wear burqas do not do this on a part-time basis; it's a major cultural assertion. The Japanese can play with cultural differences but not the Turks. The Japanese eat French food one day and on the next eat Japanese – again, it doesn't mean a thing. If you're Egyptian or Turk, however, you eat a certain kind of food and that says who you are. There's this fear among Muslims that they'll lose what it is to be a Muslim. They hold on in a way that the Japanese do not.

QUESTION: You mentioned earlier that the world population of Muslims was well over a billion people. Are you suggesting that all Muslims are Islamists and have hegemonic ambitions vis- à-vis the West?

DR DANIEL PIPES: No, I'm not suggesting that. Somewhere between 10% and 15% of Muslims, roughly an eighth of the Muslim population, seeks the total application of Islamic Law.

QUESTION: Do you believe Islamic and European communities will rise, especially given the migration of large numbers of Muslim people to Europe? Or will this lead to conflict?

DR DANIEL PIPES: There used to be a clear divide between Muslim countries and the West. Until 1955 there were no significant Muslim populations in the West with the exception of some indigenous populations in places like Albania, Yugoslavia and Russia, but certainly not in Western Europe, not here and not in the Americas. Indeed in 1965 there were about 150,000 Muslims in the United States from a population of about 150 million. Now it's more like three million out of a population of 300 million. In France Muslims are thought to be between 5% and 10% of the population. So there is a new-found presence of Muslims in the West. Simultaneously, Christians in the Muslim world are disappearing. In Iraq, for example, attacks on Christians, especially since 2003, have led to a massive exodus. The same has happened in Bethlehem and Nazareth, which have for centuries had Christian majorities, but no longer.

Malaysia presents an interesting case. Things there appear to be in flux and the role of non-Muslims in Malaysia is still open to question. One can easily imagine that the Islamic movement is trying to push non-Muslims out or convert them. Middle Eastern Christian and Jewish communities that have been in place for 1400 years are disappearing. There are virtually no Jews left in Egypt and the Christian population is extremely stressed, especially in the last 30 years, and is leaving. So, simultaneously, the expansion of Islam in the West and the reduction of the West in Islam are taking place.

QUESTION: Given as you say that the search within the Muslim world for an answer to the question of what went wrong, and also the relatively small number of committed Islamists anyway, do you see any potential for some sort of reformation movement developing within Islam as a potential solution to what went wrong?

DR DANIEL PIPES: I am hopeful for a reformation, that there are and will be Muslims who re-read the scriptures of Islam in light of modern times. This is the opposite of what Islamists believe. Islamists take the scriptures and read them in a severe and archaic way. This proves, at any rate, that the scriptures are wide open to interpretation. A debate, I should add, is now taking place in the West between those, like me, who say that Islam is a historical phenomenon that changes and another group that says, "No, Islam is unchangeable, it is an essential core. Jihad is this, the Koran is that. It's unchangeable and Islam is an enemy."

QUESTION: In relation to the European experience in the Islamic Balkans, is there anything that we can take from that and extrapolate more widely? Is there anything that happened in the last 20 years in the Balkans that may lead us to believe that we're not necessarily going into that dark period?

DR DANIEL PIPES: I would, unfortunately, draw the opposite conclusion. Balkan Islam was moderate. Then along came the Wahhabis, the Saudis, their money, their institutions and it's changing toward Islamism as are other parts of the Muslim world. Historically, the more repressive movements came from the Middle East and that they influence the periphery. You can see how powerful they Islamists have become in Nigeria, Bangladesh and Indonesia. People often say, "Well, can you take Indonesian ideas to the Middle East" and I reply, "It's worth a try, good luck", but I doubt the Saudis are going to listen to Indonesians.

QUESTION: Last century I visited Istanbul a couple of times. It impressed me as a modern European city, certainly in comparison with other Muslim cities like Cairo. So my question is why do you think the liberal model failed or is failing at the moment in Turkey?

DR DANIEL PIPES: You are asking "Who lost Turkey?" Of course, it may not be lost and things could still work out. That said, what likely will have lost Turkey was not European coolness. Nor economic problems. Rather, it concerns the seemingly small matter of Turkish electoral law which requires that representation in parliament be limited to parties that win 10% of the vote, a very high threshold. In other countries the threshold is on the order of 1%, 2% or 5%. In 2002 the vote was 34% for the AKP and 19% for the CHP, the leftist party. And the AKP's 34% resulted in it gaining 67% or two-thirds of the seats. Had that election law been different, or had the moderate left and moderate right managed to work together, I the AKP would not have dominated as it did.

QUESTION: So you think rather than Turkish society becoming more radically Muslim, it's just the vagaries of politics and it could swing back?

DR DANIEL PIPES: Yes, it could swing back. I think the next general elections, which take place in 2011, are critical. Should the AKP win this, it's over. They're there for a long time. Should they lose it, it can be redeemed. So, the next election is the key.

QUESTION: How does the Obama Administration, including the top brass in the Pentagon and within State, see the situation? Is there any clarity of understanding or appreciation of the magnitude of this whole phenomenon?

DR DANIEL PIPES: I mentioned the debate between people of my persuasion who think the problem is radical Islam and those who think the problem is Islam itself. But there is a third position I didn't mention. This is the establishment position, which is the position of most of those in government, journalists and academics who believe that the problem really has nothing to do with Islam at all. It's the problem of radical extremism, of terrorism, of Al-Qaeda. Some politicians go so far as to say it's an anti-Islamic phenomenon. This is the prevailing attitude of the Obama Administration. Whatever the topic might be, they bleach Islam out of it.

To give you one example. The Fort Hood Massacre in November of last year when an army major of Palestinian-Muslim background took out a gun and killed 14 people. Every sign indicated he was a jihadi. But the report that came out recently on what happened didn't mention Islam. The cause of this denial here lies deeper than political correctness. If you're going to acknowledge it's something to do with Islam, then you have to address Islamic issues. Institutionally, if you're the US military, that's not easy to do, so you don't.

Daniel Pipes

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

A hypocritical prize nomination


by Michael Dickson

Orit, a female combat medic in the IDF, was awakened one night to see a patient. She found herself face-to-face with one of the most notorious terrorists in the West Bank. He had just orchestrated an attack on a restaurant where his sister killed 21 civilians of all ages. Orit was asked to treat his wounds and save his life. Such challenges occur every day for Israeli soldiers, whose service is mandatory.

Today, Orit is with a group of young ex-soldiers currently on a US speaking tour to share real-life stories of their army service. There was no shortage of volunteers for this tour. Those who served recently see that far too often, the media skews the reality that they know. The misrepresentations fill them with a deep sense of injustice because they risked their own lives and lost friends while doing their utmost to protect both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. They know their military service is vital to a small country like Israel, which is constantly endangered by terrorists and hostile neighbors.

If I had a prize to give, I would give it to Orit and to her friends, who, together with thousands of young people and tens of thousands of citizen reservists give up their time and risk their lives for the safety of people on both sides of a complex conflict.

MOST LIKELY, Orit won’t be receiving any prizes, but another group of former soldiers has been short listed for the European Parliament’s prestigious Sakharov Prize. The group, Breaking the Silence, undermines and defames Orit and her fellow soldiers. The group made its name by promoting a distorted and unfair portrait of the IDF via its website and tours.

It lobbied to get this nomination for the prize worth 50,000 euros, and was supported by the Greens and United Left.

The Sakharov Prize is intended to honor the memory of the late Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet dissident and Nobel Peace Prize-winning human rights activist. Among Sakharov’s comments: “Israel has an indisputable right to exist.” “Israel has a right to existence within safe borders.”

“All the wars that Israel has waged have been just, forced upon it by the irresponsibility of Arab leaders.”

Breaking the Silence is hypocritical about its aims and even its name. If it wanted to present a true picture of the IDF, it would not blatantly omit the context of terrorism, the goals of Israel’s enemies, the deadly rocket fire from Gaza. It would not omit how the enemy hides behind Palestinian civilians and attacks Israeli civilians. It would raise awareness about the moral dilemmas the IDF faces. But instead, it omits this vital context in its reports, which often consist of anonymous, unverified testimony.

There isn’t even any “silence” to “break.” Israel is an open and democratic society that regularly criticizes its own actions, and anyone is free to present complaints and findings to government officials and the courts.

Funders of Breaking the Silence have included the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Christian Aid and OXFAM, two charities which have in the past launched vitriolic anti-Israel campaigns, as well as the European Union, which gave them $75,000 to “contribute to an atmosphere of human rights respect and values” and “to promote prospects for peace talks and initiatives.”

The EU is deceiving taxpayers if it is telling them that the funds used to support this organization help promote peace.

Indeed, the work of Breaking the Silence is part of a wave of efforts to attack Israel recently referred to by Tony Blair as “traditional and insidious forms of delegitimization.”

Blair’s message for world leaders was “don’t apply rules to the government of Israel that you would never dream of applying to your own country.”

He was talking about the kinds of double standards that Breaking the Silence presents.

In a powerful address to the Oslo Freedom Forum last year, Sakharov’s widow, Elena Bonner, chose to focus on how the world unfairly targets Israel for defamation. She reminded the audience, “throughout the years of Israel’s existence there has been war. Victorious wars, and also wars which Israel was not allowed to win. Each and every day – literally every day – there is the expectation of a terrorist act or a new war.”

Awarding a prize named after Sakharov to an organization that demonizes the IDF is an exercise in hypocrisy which goes against the grain of his legacy. European political leaders, when dealing with Israel, ought to heed the words of the man they seek to honor and his wife, and avoid pandering to those who seek to misrepresent and delegitimize the Jewish state.

Michael Dickson is Israel director of StandWithUs which educates about Israel through student fellowships, speaker programs, conferences, written materials and Internet resources. Soldiers testimony and tour details can be viewed at www.soldiersspeakout.com.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

U.S. State Department's Duplicity at the U.N. Human Rights Council


by Anne Bayevsky

As the American midterm election campaigns head to the finish line, the Obama administration is trying to convince Jewish voters that its treatment of Israel is not as hostile as it appears. In fact, it’s worse. The U.S. State Department has now adopted a practice honed by Israel’s Arab negotiating partners – saying different things to different audiences. The State Department is distributing for American consumption speeches that it claims were delivered in Israel’s defense at the recent session of the U.N. Human Rights Council. But the remarks American diplomats actually delivered to the U.N. audience, which President Obama so desperately seeks to impress, were strikingly different.

The foreign policy deception involves the U.N. Human Rights Council, which the president decided to join soon after taking office. At the beginning of October the Human Rights Council concluded its fifteenth session, marking the end of a full year of American membership on the U.N.’s lead human rights body. U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Eileen Donahoe marked the occasion by declaring that the Human Rights Council had “made historic progress…in advancing the rights of human rights defenders throughout the world.” But her claim turns on the virtue of legitimizing the demonization of Israel in favor of other people’s human rights.


At this latest session, the Human Rights Council had before it two extraordinarily ugly reports condemning Israel. One was aimed at keeping alive last year’s Goldstone Report, a modern-day blood libel alleging that the 2009 Gaza war was not fought in self-defense but was a deliberate move by Israel to murder Palestinian civilians. The new report, produced for this session, repeats the odious claim that Israel engaged in “violence against civilians as part of a deliberate policy” and goes on to criticize Israel’s legal system for failing to mount a witch hunt for “officials at the highest levels.” Referring to the Hamas internal “investigation,” which repeatedly exonerated itself from all wrongdoing, the U.N.’s team could only conclude that it “is not in a position to ascertain the veracity of any of these assertions.” It was produced by a committee chaired by German lawyer Christian Tomuschat, who once provided legal advice to Yasser Arafat’s PLO.

When it came time for the Human Rights Council to take up the report the Obama administration sought to manufacture a middle ground. Knowing that the committee’s mandate was to implement the infamous conclusions of the Goldstone Report, Ambassador Donahoe told the Human Rights Council on September 27: “We appreciate that the Tomuschat Committee did not jump to conclusions…” She also praised the committee on the grounds that it “did not recommend any further UN action,” despite the fact that the report was written so that it would guarantee the committee’s reappointment. Indeed, the Tomuschat committee was reappointed together “with all administrative, technical and logistic assistance” they could dream of, shortly thereafter.

Then Ambassador Donahoe varied her speech from the version now gracing the State Department website. She dropped these words: “Because Israel has the right and the demonstrated ability to conduct credible investigations and serious self-scrutiny, further follow-up of the Goldstone Report by UN bodies is unnecessary and unwarranted.”

This was not a one-off occurrence. The second Israel-bashing report before the Human Rights Council had been commissioned last June following the flotilla incident, in which 9 Turkish-backed extremists died after they tried to ram an Israeli blockade of Hamas-run Gaza. The Human Rights Council “investigation,” created within 48 hours of the incident, was carried out by a carefully selected three-person group that included one Desmond de Silva. De Silva had jointly headed a British law office with a Palestinian legal advisor, and their law practice had hosted the legal team supporting a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. De Silva was unabashed about his predilection to grease legal wheels for terrorists. He told the Human Rights Council on September 28: “[E]ven if Bin Laden himself was on board the Mavi Marmara” – the vessel on which the deaths occurred – “it wouldn’t have made the blockade legal.”

The flotilla investigative group that included de Silva said it couldn’t trust Israeli video evidence of the incident, and called the thugs who nearly murdered Israeli soldiers “persons genuinely committed to the spirit of humanitarianism.” These “experts” couldn’t think of a single “military advantage” for the Israeli blockade – a key test in determining whether Israel’s action was legal – though the blockade obviously prevents the creation of an Iranian weapons depot on the Mediterranean a few miles from Israeli population centers. Instead, they produced the usual U.N. laundry list of wild accusations and demands, such as prosecuting Israelis for torture. Hamas immediately "hailed the contents of the report…on the massacre perpetrated by the Zionist forces against international activists on board the fleet of freedom.”

When this despicable report came to the Human Rights Council for discussion, the State Department website claims Ambassador Donahoe delivered a speech, saying: “We have received the lengthy report of the fact-finding mission. We are concerned by the report’s unbalanced language, tone and conclusions.” But on September 28 what she actually said to the Council was this: “On an initial reading, we are concerned by the report’s unbalanced language, tone and conclusions.”

And again on September 27, the State Department gave the U.N. a Donahoe speech to post on the U.N. website which includes an important defense of Israel – all of which was omitted from her actual delivery:

In contrast to the unbalanced mechanisms adopted under this agenda item, Israel has been conducting its own process of credible investigations, and Israeli officials have been actively engaged in scrutinizing doctrinal issues. Israel has also established an independent public commission to examine the Israeli mechanism for investigating complaints and claims raised in relation to violations of the laws of armed conflict. This commission is headed by respected Israeli jurist Yaakov Turkel and includes two international observers: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Lord David Trimble and former Canadian Judge Advocate General Kenneth Watkin. This commission, along with the ongoing inquiries and changes in combat doctrine demonstrate Israel's ability to conduct credible investigations and serious self-scrutiny, and we urge this Council to consider these factors as it deliberates.

A few days later, on September 29, the Human Rights Council voted to approve the Goldstone-Tomuschat and flotilla reports. Widespread repugnance in America and Israel over the Goldstone report made it impossible for the administration to support a report following it up. But on the flotilla episode, the administration rejected the Human Rights Council’s flotilla investigation only to bind Israel to an investigation created by the U.N. secretary general. The president pressured Israel to accept – for the first time in Israel’s history – oversight of the Israel Defense Forces by the U.N. The Turkel commission, Nobel laureates and all, were disposable. Of course, if President Obama were ever to agree to put the American armed forces under a similar knife, his presidency would be doomed.

As a result, some acrobatics were required at the Human Rights Council when the Obama administration had to explain its position for and against U.N. investigations of Israel. So on the Goldstone-Tomuschat resolution, Donahoe said: “…we did not support international oversight of domestic legal processes absent an indication that they are manifestly failing to deal seriously with alleged abuses…Extension of the committee of experts at this point is unnecessary and unhelpful.” And on the flotilla resolution Donahoe said: “the Secretary-General’s…panel is the primary method for the international community to review the incident.” Following these contradictory explanations, which inspired no support from the other Human Rights Council members, the U.S. voted against in both cases. The resolutions passed handily.

At the conclusion of this session, the Human Rights Council’s demonization of Israel stood at an all-time high. With the Goldstone-Tomuschat and flotilla resolutions, the Human Rights Council maintained its record of having adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all other 191 U.N. states combined. The Human Rights Council had spent as much time attacking Israel than it did on its one agenda item for “human-rights situations that require the Council’s attention” anywhere else in the world.

But for the Obama administration this was an “historic” session advancing human rights. On October 1, Ambassador Donahoe pointed to the creation of a new investigator on the theme of freedom of association and assembly and a new working group to monitor “discrimination against women in law and practice.” The firm Obama storyline on the Council was articulated by Ambassador Donahoe in an op-ed in the New York Times on September 13: “I have been very pleased by several developments that confirm U.S. participation was the correct decision.”

So. as President Obama would say, let us be clear. This administration’s message is that demonizing Israelis is a price worth paying for the sake of other people’s human rights. “Several developments” for anybody else trump several losses for the Jewish state. Legitimizing the Human Rights Council with American membership and financial support is justified regardless of the threat that it poses to the safety and security of the Jewish people. The Obama administration ought to know better. Equality and human dignity cannot be built on the inequality of the few.

Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Latest From The Spanish, Roman Catholic And Democratic Kingdom Of Spain


by Eamonn McDonagh

El País is a leading liberal and progressive newspaper in the Spanish, Roman Catholic and Democratic Kingdom of Spain. It has long campaigned to put an end to Jewish self-determination and today’s contribution to that campaign comes in the form of an op-ed from M. Á. Bastenier, one of its most senior journalists.

The central point that it seeks to make is that Israel cannot be a state for Jews because it contains an Arab minority. There’s nothing necessarily anti-Jewish about this. All over the world national minorities are struggling to vindicate the collective rights history has denied them. There are now more nation states than ever and there are still plenty of minorities that want one of their own.

However, if you think the national rights of Jews are voided by the presence of the Arab minority in Israel and this view is a reflection of a broader political philosophy and not simply the expression of a prejudice, you need to make this clear. One way you can do so is to point out that there are plenty of other states that have restive national minorities too and that you regard them as equally illegitimate as Israel.

Furthermore, if your name was M.Á. Bastenier and you wrote for El País you wouldn’t have to look farther than your own country to find a good example of such a state. And given that you and your paper have been consistent supporters of its 1978 Constitution, which excludes the possibility of any of Spain’s national minorities deciding for themselves whether they wish to continue forming part of the Spanish, Roman Catholic and Democratic Kingdom of Spain, then it would be difficult to interpret your enthusiasm, and that of your paper, for extinguishing Jewish national rights as anything other than an example of hypocrisy and foul prejudice.

Eamonn McDonagh

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

CBS "60 Minutes" Joins the Arab Propaganda Bandwagon on Jerusalem


by Ricki Hollander

One of the main obstacles in previous peace-making efforts has been Arab unwillingness to accept Israel as a Jewish state and Muslim denial of Judaism's historical and religious ties to Jerusalem. U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross complained that during the July 2000 negotiations at Camp David, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's only contribution was his refusal to acknowledge Jewish ties to Jerusalem, claiming the Jewish Temple never existed there. When talks resumed in Taba later that year, the Israelis agreed to full Palestinian sovereignty on the Temple Mount, but requested Palestinians acknowledge the sacredness of the place to Judaism. They refused. (See "The Battle Over Jerusalem and the Temple Mount") Moreover, Palestinian leaders not only deny the existence of Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem, they falsely allege that Jews are trying to takeover or destroy Muslim holy sites there. In that way, they follow the lead of Jerusalem Mufti and Nazi sympathizer Haj al Amin Husseini who so successfully incited anti-Jewish rioting in the1920's by making his battle cry "Defend Muslim Holy Sites."

The efforts to delegitimize Israel's claim to Jerusalem have generally been limited to Arab and Muslim leaders, but recently, international media outlets have jumped on board to support them. The latest one to join the fray is Lesley Stahl of CBS News's "60 Minutes" in an October 17th segment entitled "Controversy in Jerusalem: The City Of David."

Ms. Stahl did not apparently bother to engage in serious journalism, the kind that involves research and fact-checking. She simply followed the playbook of Time Magazine, the Economist, and BBC's "Panorama" with a "paint-by-numbers" exercise calling on the same cast of characters, repeating the same distorted claims and reading from the same overall script. Echoing colleagues at the aforementioned media outlets, Ms. Stahl demonstrated how to promote Arab political propaganda with shoddy and partisan journalism:

1) Characterize as "controversial" Israel's publicizing of archeological findings of Israelite history in Jerusalem, discredit the field of biblical archeology and dismiss archeological excavations as something run by a "settler organization."

According to Ms. Stahl:

It's controversial that the City of David uses discoveries to try to confirm what's in the Bible, particularly from the time of David, the king who made Jerusalem his capital...
and

...But for all the talk of King David, one thing is glaringly missing here at the City of David. There`s actually no evidence of David, right?

Ms. Stahl dismisses the field of biblical archeology, especially the City of David enterprise, by throwing out a red herring — that there is no archeological proof of a King David himself. But, while it is impossible to uncover archeological evidence of any single individual, there is strong archeological evidence for the existence of a Davidic Kingdom. Stahl omits mention, for instance, that in 2005, archeologist Eilat Mazar uncovered remnants of a massive palace in the City of David dating to the 10th century BCE which is believed to be King David's palace.

It is unlikely that Ms. Stahl would ever challenge Palestinians about the existence of Mohammed, or whether she would question Christians about the existence of Jesus, based on lack of direct archeological proof of those individuals. Her approach, of course, supports attempts by Arab and Muslim leaders to erase any evidence of Jewish history in Jerusalem, whether through the Waqf's unsupervised construction and dumping of artifacts, or whether through the riots that are incited whenever Israel excavates, builds or discovers evidence of its Jewish roots in Jerusalem's holy basin.

Ms. Stahl studiously avoided mention of this issue. She also did not bother to note that City of David archeologists, who are respected internationally for their scholarly contributions to the field, carry out their work under the auspices of the well-regarded Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA). Nor did she elaborate on the strict protocols which govern their work.

Excavations must be supervised by scholars associated with recognized institutes of archaeology, where there is an infrastructure for research, laboratory treatment, and processing. These scholars publish all of their finds (both Israelite and others) according to accepted scientific standards, and they conserve each uncovered layer of the excavated area as required by the Conservation Department of the IAA. But Ms. Stahl chose to smear the excavations as governed by a "settler organization." According to the CBS reporter:

While a government agency oversees the excavations, the dig and the site are largely funded and run by something called El`Ad...which claims they`re not a settlers` organization, though, people we spoke to say they are.

2) Call it political "indoctrination" to teach Jews about their historical roots in Jerusalem.

According to Ms. Stahl:

Half a million tourists visit the site every year, with guides who try to bring King David to life. There's an implicit message: that because David conquered the city for the Jews back then, Jerusalem belongs to the Jews today....
and

...So archeology is being used as a political tool. I mean, I hate to use the word, but indoctrination...

Would Ms. Stahl similarly suggest that archeologists should avoid telling Arabs about their own history in the area? Should Americans not send their children to Washington to visit the Lincoln Memorial? By conveying the attitude that it is somehow sinister to strengthen Jewish knowledge about and connection to Jerusalem, Ms. Stahl reflects the Arab perspective where Muslim rights and connection to the Holy Basin are a given, while Jewish rights and connection to the area are considered dubious and an obstacle to peace.

Needless to say, Ms. Stahl does not mention anything about indoctrination by Arab leaders who deny that Jews have any history in the area.

3) Portray Silwan as an area that does or should belong to Arabs. Describe Jews as interlopers with no right to live or carry out excavations there and ignore "inconvenient" history – both of Jewish habitation there as well as Jordan's illegal and racist occupation that ended it.

According to Ms. Stahl:

Another problem is an inconvenient truth that biblical Jerusalem is not located in the western half of the city. It`s right under the densely-populated Arab neighborhood of Silwan. And according to the Clinton parameters, Silwan should be part of a Palestinian state...
and

...organizations that move Jewish settlers into Arab areas have infiltrated Silwan...
and

...El`Ad has raised tens of millions of dollars, half from the United States, and buys these homes on land the Palestinians claim for a future state......

What Ms. Stahl fails to report is that there was a community of Yemenite Jewish families in Silwan as early as 1882 in the neighborhood known as Kfar HaShiloach, and additional Jewish families from various countries joined them in the following years. In the early 1900's Baron de Rothschild bought several acres of land there for the Jewish community. Silwan's Jewish residents lived in the area until they were forced out by Arab attacks in the late 1920s. The City of David, situated in the Silwan valley, is still 60 percent Jewish-owned, including the area bought by Baron de Rothschild. And it is perfectly legal to continue to buy homes there.

The notion that this area must now be rendered Judenrein — free of Jewish habitation, with Jews prohibited from purchasing homes there — echoes the racist policies of Jordan's 19-year illegal occupation of the area, something that Ms. Stahl assiduously avoids mentioning.

4) Gloss over, minimize or ignore "inconvenient truths" that show Arabs as interlopers in the area.

Ms. Stahl discusses the plans to create a tourist park in King's Garden near the City of David, noting that this "requires demolishing twenty-two Arab homes in Silwan," something she suggests would be an "explosive" action.

Ms. Stahl attributes to the mayor the argument that the "Arab houses were built illegally," and that he plans to relocate them, but viewers are never informed that the land had been set aside as conservation parkland with residential building prohibited long before the Arab homes in question were illegally erected. Instead she concludes, "but the locals want to stay in their homes," as if describing them as "locals" is reason enough for them to be allowed to defy the law governing this archeologically-rich area.

The missing "inconvenient truth" can be found in an article by Ha'aretz journalist Nadav Shragai:

Progress has brought troubles along with it to the King's Valley. For hundreds of years floodwaters drained into the garden of the kings of Judea, east of the Shiloah Pool in Jerusalem. In winter it was a swamp, but in summer it became a blooming garden.

With a bit of imagination and with the help of varied historical sources it is possible to imagine King David strolling in the royal garden with its abundant greenery and water among the olive, fig, pomegranate and almond trees, singing Psalms.

According to one tradition, this is where the Book of Ecclesiastes was composed.

About 20 years ago, the Jerusalem municipality shored up the water runoff there, and in the open green area (al Bustan, in Arabic), which the Turks and the British took care to preserve for hundreds of years as a public area intended for preservation and development of parks and tourism, an illegal Palestinian outpost arose.

Within 18 years 88 buildings went up there, under the noses of mayors Teddy Kollek and now outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Under former mayor Uri Lupolianski, the construction was halted, after the municipality confiscated tractors and heavy machinery from the lawbreakers.

Last summer the director general of the Antiquities Authority, Shuka Dorfman, noted in a kind of "post mortem" that the construction in the King's Garden caused significant and irreversible damage to antiquities.

Representatives of the municipality and Dorfman admitted that they had no good explanation for what has happened in this lovely garden, which is described in the Books of Nechemiah and Ecclesiastes, in midrashim (rabbinic Biblical homiletics) and in many historical sources. Dorfman stressed that together with Tel David, the garden constitutes the only complete archaeological garden of first-rate importance.

5) Challenge Israeli statements with Palestinian accusations.

Ms. Stahl gave up all pretense of journalistic objectivity when she took on the role of court prosecutor with Israeli interviewees. She challenged them by echoing Palestinian allegations:

LESLEY STAHL: So El Ad is doing archaeology and settlements?

DORON SPIELMAN: We are doing archaeology, and we are buying homes and buying land.

LESLEY STAHL: But is it El Ad`s goal to ease the Arabs away from right where we are right now?

DORON SPIELMAN: Put it this way, if there`s a home that an Arab wants to sell and I have the money to buy it and I can move, enable a Jewish family to live there, and I can dig archaeologically underneath it, then I think that`s a wonderful thing to do.

LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): The Arabs say it`s a provocative thing to do.

......and

LESLEY STAHL: I heard you wanted to evict people. Where are-- where are those houses?

NIR BARKAT: That`s-- that`s just not true. To accept--

LESLEY STAHL (overlapping): Well, wait, but if you make a park, then those houses can`t be there anymore.

NIR BARKAT: They mustn`t have been there in the first place.

LESLEY STAHL: Yeah, but so-- so you will evict. You will evict.

NIR BARKAT: Not evict. When you improve their quality of life, the right word to say is that you`re dealing with improvement of quality of life.

LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): His park, he says, will upgrade the area, and he`ll allow the people who`ll be evicted to build new houses nearby. But locals tell us the only way to do that would be to build on top of other homes in Silwan...

...The European Union, the United Nations has criticized this plan to get rid of these twenty-two homes. Public opinion, especially while the peace talks are under way, is-- is looking at this and saying you`re trying to get rid- - move Arabs out of Jerusalem.

NIR BARKAT (overlapping): That`s not true.

LESLEY STAHL: But that`s the way it looks......

6) Do not challenge or fact-check any Palestinian statements. Instead accept, repeat and endorse them.

In sharp contrast to her prosecutorial attitude toward Israeli interviewees, Stahl accepts Palestinian statements without challenge.

LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): Palestinian Jawad Siyam was born in [Silwan] and says he can trace his roots here back nine hundred thirty years. He`s pessimistic about the Palestinians ever having their own state....

LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): Jawad says that El`Ad uses the dig`s archeological prestige to hide its aim of moving the locals out. And he believes that the tunneling is a way for El`Ad to extend its reach deeper into Silwan...

LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): There`s a feeling of encroachment. The Arabs feel it...

LESLEY STAHL (voiceover): But as with the dig, the local Arabs see this as another attempt to gobble up their side of Jerusalem...

7) Avoid mention of anything that might portray Palestinians and Arab leaders in a poor light, or as an obstacle to peace.

There was no mention of Jordan's ethnic cleansing of Jews from the region or their Judenrein policy during their illegal occupation, no mention of attempts by Palestinian and Muslim leaders to erase – both mentally (with denials) and physically (by destroying archeological remnants) Jewish history here. There is no mention of the deadly attacks by eastern Jerusalem Arabs against Jews both in eastern and western Jerusalem — a contributing factor to why Israel does not want Jerusalem divided.

While she mentions "escalating confrontations" near Silwan, Ms. Stahl focuses on one incident which she says "became violent" when a car driven by an Israeli who turned out to be "of all people, the head of Elad," struck two masked Palestinian youths who had been throwing stones. Of course, the incident was violent from the start, as masked Palestinian youths and adults surrounded the car, hurling stones at it. Three people, two of them minors and one adult, were subsequently arrested for thowing stones and smashing the window of a car. There were also many questions about the incident itself, particularly, why so many photographers had converged at the site well before the Israeli driver had entered the scene. Had they been alerted in advance? Had they been told that there would be dramatic distubances or confrontations they might want to photograph? (See: "Silwan Distortions in the Israeli Press") Needless to say, Ms. Stahl did not explore any of this, as it did not support the story she was telling.

8) Suggest instead that it is Israeli actions – whether archeological excavations, purchasing of homes, or enforcing municipal laws – that obstruct the possibility of peace.

According to Ms. Stahl:

Settlements have been a stumbling block in peace negotiations of the past. And ...could become the stumbling block again.

A decade ago, Chairman President Mahmoud Abbas went on record challenging Jerusalem's Jewish heritage and the existence of a Jewish Temple, adding that even if there were one, "we do not accept it, because it is not logical for someone who wants a practical peace." (Kul Al-Arab, August 25, 2000; Translation: MEMRI) Today, he refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish state.

But to Ms. Stahl and CBS, the Palestinians' refusal to recognize Israel and the attempt to erase Jerusalem's Jewish heritage are not the story she wants to tell. To her, the only obstacle to peace is Israel's commitment to its Jewish roots in Jerusalem.

Ricki Hollander

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Who Says Islam Is Totalitarian?


by Andrew McCarthy

Not long ago, Bernard Lewis sounded almost like Geert Wilders.

Who says Islam is a totalitarian doctrine? Well, Geert Wilders does, of course. As the editors point out in Monday’s superb National Review Online editorial, the Dutch parliamentarian has even had the temerity to compare Islam with Nazism. Strong stuff indeed, and for speaking it, Wilders has earned the disdain not just of the usual Muslim Brotherhood satellite organizations but even of many on the political right.

Though they support free-speech rights, and thus grudgingly concede that Wilders should be permitted to say such things, they want you to understand they find his sentiments deplorable. Taking the politically correct view, they assure you that Islam is not a problem at all — it’s just those bad extremists and Islamists who have, as the Bush-era refrain went, “hijacked one of the world’s great religions.”

Emblematic is the estimable Charles Krauthammer, who has described Wilders’s views as “extreme, radical, and wrong.” Dr. K.’s complaint, expressed on Fox News back in March (and published on the Corner), was that Wilders conflates “Islam and Islamism.” The latter, Krauthammer insists, is “an ideology of a small minority which holds that the essence of Islam is jihad, conquest, forcing people into accepting a certain very narrow interpretation [of Islam].”

As I take a backseat to no one in my admiration of Dr. K., I wonder what he’d make of Bernard Lewis’s take on this subject. Professor Lewis is the distinguished scholar widely and aptly admired, including by Wilders’s detractors, as the West’s preeminent authority on Islam. At Pajamas Media, Andrew Bostom has unearthed a 1954 International Affairs essay in which Professor Lewis quite matter-of-factly compared Islam with Communism. The essay, in fact, was called, “Communism and Islam.”

In it, Lewis considered “the very nature of Islamic society, tradition, and thought,” and concluded that its principal defining characteristic is the “authoritarianism, perhaps we may even say the totalitarianism, of the Islamic political tradition.” Expanding on this, he wrote:

There are no parliaments or representative assemblies of any kind, no councils or communes, no chambers of nobility or estates, no municipalities in the history of Islam; nothing but the sovereign power, to which the subject owed complete and unwavering obedience as a religious duty imposed by the Holy Law.#…#For the last thousand years, the political thinking of Islam has been dominated by such maxims as “tyranny is better than anarchy,” and “whose power is established, obedience to him is incumbent.”

But what about the conceit that undergirds current American foreign policy, the notion that Islam and Western democracy are perfectly compatible? Lewis dismissed the idea as so much elite wishful thinking:

Many attempts have been made to show that Islam and democracy are identical — attempts usually based on a misunderstanding of Islam or democracy or both. This sort of argument expresses a need of the uprooted Muslim intellectual who is no longer satisfied with or capable of understanding traditional Islamic values, and who tries to justify, or rather, restate, his inherited faith in terms of the fashionable ideology of the day. It is an example of the romantic and apologetic presentation of Islam that is a recognized phase in the reaction of Muslim thought to the impact of the West.

Clearly, the ensuing half-century has found Western intellectuals — regardless of political bent — joining romantic forces with their uprooted Muslim counterparts. Thus the accusation by Dr. Krauthammer, to take a prominent but by no means singular example, that Wilders fails to perceive the distinction — I’d call it a hoped-for distinction — between Islam and Islamism. Yet this accusation itself conflates Islam with Muslims, as well as Islamists with violent jihadists. This confusion leads Krauthammer to surmise both (a) that only a small minority of Muslims believe jihad is “the essence of Islam,” and (b) that because most Muslims in the West are not terrorists, it should be “obvious” that they are not Islamists.

This is wrong on several levels. First, as Robert Spencer explains, “Jihad#…#is a key element of the Islamic faith according to every single Islamic authority on the planet.” To deny that it is the “essence of Islam” — which is how the prophet Mohammed regarded it — is to deny a basic fact. And though, as Spencer acknowledges, jihad is subject to varying interpretations, Lewis is clear on the preponderant construction. As he has recounted several times, most recently in The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years,

“The overwhelming majority of early authorities#…#citing relevant passages in the Qur’an and in the tradition, discuss jihad in military terms.” This jibes, to quote Ibn Warraq, with “the celebrated Dictionary of Islam,” which describes jihad as an “incumbent religious duty,” and defines it as “a religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad.”

Spencer echoes Lewis when he elaborates that

“all the mainstream sects and schools of Islamic jurisprudence teach as a matter of faith that Islam is intrinsically political and that Muslims must wage war against unbelievers and subjugate them under the rule of Islamic law.”

The fact that most Muslims do not engage in violent jihad, whether out of practicality, indifference, or what have you, does not change what Islamic doctrine says. Nor does it mean these Muslims are “rejecting” that mandate. They are ignoring it.

Moreover, as I’ve noted on several occasions, the point of jihad is to spread sharia, the Islamic legal system whose installation is the necessary precondition to creating an Islamic society. That need not be done by violent means. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood, the world’s most influential Islamist organization, maintains that America and Europe will be “conquered” not by violence but by dawa­ – the proselytism of Islam by non-violent (or, more accurate, pre-violent) means, such as infiltration of our institutions. Spencer calls this phenomenon “stealth jihad.”

Consequently, one can be an Islamist without engaging in violent jihad, which is precisely the case with the vast majority of Islamists. The fact that they are not terrorists does not mean — as we wish it would mean — that they are not extremists. While they abstain from the use of force (particularly against other Muslims), staggering majorities of Muslims throughout the world favor the implementation and strict application of sharia. Andrew Bostom’s essay demonstrates this, citing polling done in 2009 by World Public Opinion in conjunction with the University of Maryland.

Back in 1954, Lewis recalled “the political history of Islam” as “one of almost unrelieved autocracy” that was “authoritarian, often arbitrary, [and] sometimes tyrannical.” Besides this, the most interesting part of his essay is its focus on “certain uncomfortable resemblances” between “the Ulama of Islam” and “the Communist Party.” Though “very different” in some ways, the two, he stated, “profess a totalitarian doctrine, with complete and final answers to all questions on heaven and earth.”

Those answers, of course, are worlds apart in their particulars. Nonetheless, Lewis saw them as strikingly similar in their finality and completeness, and in the contrast they offer with the eternal questioning of Western man. Both groups offer to their members and followers the agreeable sensation of belonging to a community of believers, who are always right, as against an outer world of unbelievers, who are always wrong. Both offer an exhilarating feeling of mission, of purpose, of being engaged in a collective adventure to accelerate the historically inevitable victory of the true faith over the infidel evil-doers. The traditional Islamic division of the world into the House of Islam and the House of War, two necessarily opposed groups, of which the first has the collective obligation of perpetual struggle against the second, also has obvious parallels in the Communist view of world affairs. There again, the content of belief is utterly different, but the aggressive fanaticism of the believer is the same. The humorist who summed up the Communist creed as “There is no God and Karl Marx is his Prophet” was laying his finger on a real affinity. The call to a Communist Jihad, a Holy War for the faith — a new faith, but against the self-same Western Christian enemy — might well strike a responsive note.

In light of this scholarly comparison of Islam to Soviet totalitarianism, is it really so outrageous for Geert Wilders to compare Islam to Nazi totalitarianism? One needn’t agree with the analogy — and, agree or not, one needn’t think it a useful analogy — in order to understand why someone who is not intimidated by political correctness might employ it.

In thinking about how to argue the depth of terrorist depravity to the jury while prosecuting a 1995 terrorism trial, I must confess it crossed my mind that jihad literally means “struggle,” the same word found in the title of Hitler’s manifesto, Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”). I quickly dismissed any thought of mentioning this as too explosive — nothing provokes a mistrial motion faster than a prosecutor’s comparison of defendants to Nazis, and when your evidence is damning, it’s always better to let it, rather than your rhetoric, do the talking. But I certainly didn’t think the point was beyond the pale. As noted by Daniel Pipes (who does not agree with Wilders’s analogy), no less a figure than Winston Churchill described Mein Kampf as “the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message.”

In the middle of the 20th century, before suffocating political correctness took hold, it was not all that controversial to say such things. Note that in 1954, Bernard Lewis obviously felt no need to resort to such devices as “Islamism” — a device I adopt myself in The Grand Jihad — to conform to today’s obligatory but unproved assumption that there exists a moderate, tolerant Islam, scripturally based and doctrinally distinguishable from the Islam of the “extremists.”

In those bygone days, the term “Islamist” was usually used to identify a scholar of Islam — akin to a Sinologist or an Arabist. There was another usage, dating back to the 1920s. It was the one coined by Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna to denote a person who urged Islam as a complete way of life and favored installation of the sharia system. For Banna, there was no difference between Islam and Islamism.

That, by the way, is not only the Brotherhood’s view. It is the adamant opinion of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Islamist prime minister of Turkey who continues to be regarded by the U.S. government as a great moderate, just as he was during the Bush administration. “Very ugly” was his take on the term “moderate Islam” in a 2007 interview. As Erdogan fumed at the time, “It is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam, and that’s it.”

Islam is Islam. That is Erdogan’s position, it seems to have been the position of Bernard Lewis a half century ago, and it is Geert Wilders’s position today. Not that Muslims are bad, but that Islam is a dangerous ideology. Wilders summed up his views in a 2009 interview with Jeff Jacoby (also quoted in Andrew Bostom’s piece):

I have nothing against the people. I don’t hate Muslims. But Islam is a totalitarian ideology. It rules every aspect of life — economics, family law, whatever. It has religious symbols, it has a God, it has a book — but it’s not a religion. It can be compared with totalitarian ideologies like Communism or fascism. There is no country where Islam is dominant where you have a real democracy, a real separation between church and state.

These claims are materially indistinguishable from points Professor Lewis’s made in 1954 — other than, perhaps, Wilders’s assertion that Islam “is not a religion,” although by that, I take him to mean Islam is not merely a religion or a set of spiritual principles but a comprehensive system controlling all of life.

From those premises, Wilders concluded that “Islam is totally contrary to our values.” That is a bracing conclusion. I think the problem people have with Wilders is that he is bracing. He says out loud what they fear is the case, or what they refuse to examine for fear of discovering that it is the case. That makes him inconvenient. It doesn’t make him wrong.

Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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