Friday, November 5, 2010

The Latest Trend in Delegitimizing Israel


by Evelyn Gordon


The ongoing delegitimization campaign against Israel has recently started featuring a bizarre new argument: Israel isn’t really a democracy, because its Arab citizens lack basic civil rights. Good examples include last month’s New York Times column by Ahmad Tibi and today’s Jerusalem Post column by Ray Hanania.

Tibi urged the international community to demand that “in any political agreement, Israel would be required to grant full political and civil equality to Palestinian citizens of Israel. American mediators such as George Mitchell and Dennis Ross, rather than pushing the supremacist notion of a Jewish state, should be pressing Israel to provide equal rights and fair treatment to the Palestinian minority in its midst.” The obvious conclusion is that currently, Israeli Arabs lack civil rights.

That conclusion is somewhat marred by the final line: “Ahmad Tibi, an Arab Israeli, is deputy speaker of the Israeli Parliament.” Neither Tibi nor the Times bothers explaining how a country that denies its Arab citizens “political and civil equality” has an Arab as deputy speaker of its parliament — let alone one who uses this prestigious position mainly to slander his country.

But anyone who didn’t read this tagline, or missed its implications, would come away thinking that Israeli Arabs don’t enjoy “political and civil equality.”

Then there’s Hanania, a self-proclaimed “award-winning columnist,” peace activist, and Chicago radio talk-show host.

“Criticism is a hallmark of true democracies,” he proclaims. “The more Israel tries to silence Arab critics, the more it exposes the limits of its democracy.” Specifically, “the backlash against Arabs citizens challenging Israeli policies started with Azmi Bishara, a Knesset member who was very critical.” Now Israel is persecuting the equally critical MK Haneen Zoabi: “Jewish Knesset members have called for her to be prosecuted and stripped of the immunity that Knesset members enjoy … Zoabi symbolizes a crack that continues to grow in the wall of Israel’s claim to the ‘only democracy in the Middle East.’”

In reality, the “backlash” wasn’t against these MKs’ views but their actions. Bishara was indicted for passing information to Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War. Zoabi’s potential indictment (should Israel’s independent prosecution decide to file one) is for trying to run her own country’s blockade of an enemy with which it’s at war. In short, both allegedly tried to aid an enemy during wartime. That’s not voicing “criticism”; it’s a crime in every democracy on the planet.

Yet Hanania implies that Zoabi’s presence on May’s Turkish-sponsored flotilla to Gaza was a mere peaceful protest, while the charges against Bishara were simply trumped up, a crude attempt to silence a critical voice. And uninformed readers might well believe him. They wouldn’t know, for instance, that Bishara himself was acquitted on unrelated charges just a year earlier — meaning he preferred flight and exile to standing trial, not because “critical” Arabs stand no chance in Israeli courts, but because this time the evidence against him was solid.

It’s hard to believe a slander as demonstrably false as that Israeli Arabs lack civil rights could gain traction. But clearly, it has. Otherwise, two such eminently mainstream newspapers wouldn’t have printed it.

Evelyn Gordon

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

Virginia Imam's Long Radical Record


by IPT (Investigative Project on Terrorism) News

As the imam of the Manassas Mosque in suburban Washington, Abolfazl Bahram Nahidian has been a fixture at Islamic conferences and policy meetings in the last decade, often talking about ways to bridge differences between Sunni and Shia Muslims and "the power to change the way you love."

But that benign face belies a more-than-30-year history as one of the main backers in the United States of the Islamic revolutionary government of Iran. That record, documents show, includes promoting the belief that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a conspiracy led by Israel, and using almost $200,000 from an Iranian government-led foundation now targeted by the Justice Department.

On Sept. 3, Nahidian spoke at a rally in Washington's Dupont Circle to protest Israel's control of Jerusalem. There, he said the 9/11 attacks were "not done by Muslims. It is done by the plot of the Zionists in order to justify to occupy the land of the Muslims such as Afghanistan, such as Iraq, such as Pakistan, now moving on to the rest of the areas. They plot and they scheme and no doubt God is plotting and scheming against them too."

That rally featured other speakers who claimed 9/11 was a U.S.- or Zionist-led conspiracy and was dotted with protesters carrying flags of Hizballah, the Iranian-financed terrorist movement most active in Lebanon.

That event was the latest in a series of activities that have tied Nahidian to the Iranian government or its causes. For example:

  • In June 2009, Nahidian criticized President Obama in a letter to the White House complaining about U.S. efforts to promote democracy in Iran after allegations that last year's presidential elections were stolen by supporters of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In that letter, Nahidian quoted the Quranic verse that said "do not take Jews and Christians as your authority."
  • The Manassas Mosque run by Nahidian received a total of $193,000 from the Iranian-run Alavi Foundation in 2004 and 2005, federal tax records show. The tax forms do not indicate the purpose of the grants or what the mosque did with the money. Last November, the Justice Department sought to seize the foundation's assets, claiming it was a tool of the Iranian government and was being used to support Iran's efforts to build a nuclear weapon. Alavi, the Justice Department said in its complaint, was passing money from its interests in the United States to Bank Melli, which was designated a terrorist support organization by the Treasury Department in 2007. The bank, Treasury officials said, was engaged in supporting Iran's nuclear efforts.
  • Nahidian also helped found and operate the Islamic Education Center in Potomac, Md., a mosque and education center built and supported by the Alavi Foundation. In a 1999 deposition in a suit filed in the U.S. against the Iranian government for its financial support of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Nahidian said he and about 15 other people bought the land for the center in 1981 and turned to the Alavi Foundation for more money when they could not secure bank financing.

The Sept. 3 speech was a recent foray by Nahidian into a world of radical Islam in which he had long been an active participant. Since the 1970s, records and news accounts show, he was the leader in the Washington area of support for the revolutionary Iranian government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the stern-faced cleric who led Iran after the ouster of the Shah.

Khomeini's man in Washington

On Nov. 4, 1979, Nahidian was arrested in New York with five other men for climbing the stairs of the Statue of Liberty, unfurling a banner bearing anti-Shah slogans and chaining themselves to the statue's railings. That was also the day that Iranian students stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, setting off a hostage crisis that held more than 50 diplomats captive for 444 days.

One of Nahidian's fellow protesters was a black American convert to Islam, Daoud Salahuddin. According to a 1996 article in the Washington Post magazine, Nahidian gave Salahuddin a room in a home he owned in Washington and a job during the late 1970s.

On July 22, 1980, after Khomeini had taken firm control of Iran, and as the hostage crisis dragged on, Salahuddin went to a home in Bethesda, Md., that was the residence of Ali Akbar Tabatabai, an Iranian exile and Khomeini opponent. Dressed as a postal worker, Salahuddin appeared at Tabatabai's door and said he had a special delivery. When Tabatabai came downstairs, Salahuddin pulled a 9mm pistol and shot Tabatabai three times. He died later that day.

Nahidian said he knew nothing about Salahuddin's plans to kill Tabatabai, although he told the Washington Post that he was "very happy this happened. (Tabatabai) is a man who says why doesn't the U.S. bomb all of Iran. He wants Iran to be destroyed."

Salahuddin fled the United States via Canada and now lives in Iran.

In a Jan. 19, 1999 affidavit given in a civil suit against the Iranian government, Nahidian said he did not convert Salahuddin, whose given name was David Belfield, to Islam. "Nor has Mr. Belfield ever spent a night in my home. Indeed, I never knew David Belfield had been in prison until I was advised of this fact by the Alavi Foundation's counsel."

Mosque wars

Nahidian was never charged in connection with the Tabatabai murder. Despite government scrutiny that included claims he was a conduit for Iranian government money coming into the United States, Nahidian continued to protest U.S. policy toward Iran. He led an Aug. 7, 1980, rally in Washington's Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, in which about 300 Khomeini supporters were pelted with tomatoes and epithets by angry Americans.

"I have no fear of any of this … The maximum they can take is my life, and I am more than happy to do that for the cause of Islam," Nahidian told the Washington Post.

At the time, Nahidian was also embroiled in a fight for control of the Islamic Center of Washington, a large mosque on Massachusetts Avenue in the Embassy Row area of the capital. In the fall of 1980, he led a group of Khomeini supporters who seized control of the mosque's prayer services. "I will not talk about Islam with anyone who is not a Muslim," Nahidian told the Washington Post. "You are an enemy of Islam."

Subsequently, he also led a group of about a dozen demonstrators into the mosque in October 1981 and took it over. They stayed for four months and refused to leave.

In February 1982, a District of Columbia Superior Court judge ruled that Nahidian and his fellow protesters had to leave the mosque. The ruling, Nahidian said, was part of a police effort to "divide the Muslim community."

In January 1984, Nahidian and 31 others were convicted of unlawful entry stemming from a July 1983 disturbance at the Massachusetts Avenue mosque. "It's a defeat for democracy," said Mohammed al-Asi, a radical cleric who was also a partner with Nahidian at a new facility in suburban Maryland.

Islamic Education Center and Iranian money

Nahidian and al-Asi and about 15 partners put a down payment on a former Unitarian Church in Rockville, Md., in 1981, Nahidian said in the 1999 affidavit. The plan was to create the Islamic Education Center. But they were unable to get financing from a bank. So they turned to the Alavi Foundation, Nahidian said in the affidavit.

"The Alavi Foundation agreed to help us and, thereafter, purchased the Montgomery County property in its own name and leased it to the IEC on a rent-free basis," Nahidian said in the affidavit.

Alavi's tax filings show it spent at least $6 million on the land, building and improvements for the Islamic Education Center. The foundation, which the U.S. government claims is controlled by the Iranian government, funds mosques and centers throughout the United States. The November 2009 civil action filed by the U.S. Attorney in New York City seeks to seize all foundation assets, including the IEC, a New York City skyscraper, and centers in California, New Jersey and Texas.

In the 1999 sworn affidavit, Nahidian said, "while I was involved with the IEC, it did not receive any funds from the Iranian Government or an individual or entity in Iran."

Federal prosecutors say the Alavi Foundation has been controlled by the Iranian government since before the Islamic revolution in 1979 and the government controls the foundation to this day. In 2003, The Washington Post reported that a 1981 newsletter for Iran's Mostazafan Foundation said "'committed brothers and the Islamic Republic government' had reclaimed the Manhattan building through the Mostazafan Foundation of New York, which changes its name to Alavi in 1992."

Al-Asi, Nahidian's partner at the IEC, led the mosque there for 16 years, from 1981 through 1997. A Jan. 1, 2003, article in the Washington Post quoted from a 1994 public letter that al-Asi wrote Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the successor to Khomeini in Iran, in which al-Asi wrote, "I … swear allegiance to you as leader of all Muslims."

Also in 1994, Investigative Project on Terrorism founder and executive Steven Emerson released a documentary, "Jihad in America," in which al-Asi was revealed as telling a 1990 conference that Muslims should take up arms against non-Muslims. "We should be creating another war front for the Americans in the Muslim world," al-Asi said. "Strike against American interests."

Manassas

Since the 1990s, Nahidian has been the imam at the Manassas Mosque, a small facility located in a warehouse section of Manassas, Va. Aside from brief mentions in a handful of publications, he attracted little public attention.

But he remained active in anti-Israel activities, records show. An April 2006 article by Yehudit Barsky, an anti-terrorism expert with the American Jewish Committee, showed that Nahidian participated in a 1998 al Quds day rally in Washington in which he and other protesters declared that the movement of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem "shall be considered an act of war by the Muslims the world over."

Nahidian has also spoken at other Muslim events, such as a May 2007 conference of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in Arlington, Va. There, the event's schedule shows, he appeared on panels such as "The Power to Change the Way You Love" and "Overcoming Our Differences through Good Character."

In February 2007, he was on a panel sponsored by Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies on how to bridge the divide between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

Two years later, Nahidian spoke at an anti-Israel rally in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, to protest Israel's response to missile attacks from Gaza. There, Nahidian accused Israel of destroying every mosque in Gaza and said, "Israel is not a Jewish state, it's a criminal state."

IPT (Investigative Project on Terrorism) News

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

Sharia Deceptions


by Robert Spencer


As Oklahoma has now voted to ban Sharia, and an openly pro-Sharia Imam, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is going ahead with plans to build a triumphal mega-mosque at Ground Zero, Sharia is more in the public consciousness than ever — and so Islamic supremacists such as Reza Aslan are working harder than ever to confuse the American people about what Sharia is, so as to defuse opposition to it.

Aslan, although considered to be a moderate exponent of a modern Islam, is actually a Board member of the National Iranian American Council, a group that is widely regarded as an apologetic vehicle for the Islamic Republic of Iran. He has called on the U.S. Government to negotiate not only with Ahmadinejad but with Hamas — that is, with some of the most barbaric and genocidally-inclined adherents of Sharia. And so it should come as no surprise that on this Australian television show, “Fear of Islam,” from SBS Insight, November 2, he retails some of the most common talking points that Islamic supremacists are circulating these days in order to deceive people as to the nature of Sharia and belittle resistance to the spread of elements of it in the United States and in Western countries in general. (The transcript is full of errors, some slightly amusing — “idea logs” — but is clear enough.)

The program, predictably enough, is focused not on the manifest increase in jihad activity, but on the alleged increase of “anti-Islamic sentiment”:

Anti-Islamic sentiment is on the rise across Europe and the United States. In the Netherlands, Sweden, France, Britain and Germany debate is raging about immigration and the compatibility of Islam with Western values – the latest foiled terror plot originating in Yemen has done nothing to quell people’s fears.

No kidding, really?

In the United States anti-Islamic sentiment is higher now than after the September 11 terror attacks. Recent polls show nearly half of Americans hold unfavourable views of Islam. So, what is driving this increased hostility, that’s what we are talking about tonight and you can join us via Facebook and Twitter as well.

JENNY BROCKIE: Welcome everybody, good to have you all here. I’d like to start by going to the United States, and to you Reza Aslan in Los Angeles, you were an American Muslim, you were born in Iran. Why do you think anti-Islamic sentiment is higher now than immediately after September 11 – is it related to these foiled terror plots or is it deeper than that?

REZA ASLAN, RELIGIOUS SCHOLAR: Well I think there are a number of reasons for it, certainly the economy plays a role in all of this, in times of economic distress, it’s only natural for people – and Americans have done this for many years – to look for a scapegoat. Depending on where you live in this country, the scapegoats are either, frankly, Mexicans or Muslims. So, you know, God save you if you happened to be a Mexican Muslim in America right now.

There are many things Reza Aslan is not, and one of them is an original thinker. He is in this retailing talking points that we saw just recently coming from Rashad Hussain, Obama’s Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference: that the bad economy has people looking for a scapegoat, and that they’ve fastened upon Muslims.

I don’t know who originated this theme, but it is a brazen attempt to divert attention away from the sole and obvious cause of any actual suspicion of Muslims or Islam in the U.S.: the ever-increasing number of terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims who explain and justify their actions by reference to Islamic texts and teachings. That Aslan did not lead with that as his answer to the question about why “anti-Islamic sentiment” is supposedly rising is the clearest indication that he is not intending to clarify matters or deal with this problem honestly.

Aslan continues:


Also part of it has to do with a sense of war weariness in the United States – we have been involved in wars in the region for about 10 years and I think there’s something important here that isn’t talked about enough, and it’s Barak [sic] Obama. One-fifth of Americans, 20% believe that Barak [sic] Obama is, himself, a Muslim and in fact – amongst Republicans that number is almost 40%. Polls show in this country, that the more you disagree with Barak [sic] Obama’s domestic policies, the more likely you are to think that he is a Muslim.

I don’t know by what method of calculation Aslan determined that 31% (which is the actual number of surveyed Republicans saying they thought Obama was a Muslim) was “almost 40%,” but hey, they invented algebra. Anyway, Aslan here is apparently saying that “anti-Islamic sentiment” is rising because people think Obama is a Muslim, and they don’t like Obama’s policies, and so they blame Islam for them. Once again, he is insulting the intelligence of the American people. If large numbers of people believe Obama is a Muslim, it is because of his hostility (unprecedented in a president of the United States) toward Israel, his unwillingness to do anything effective about Iran’s nuclear program, and his indefatigable dedication to coddling and appeasing the Dar al-Islam, even to the point of absurdity, as when he told NASA’s chief that one of his primary responsibilities would be — not space exploration! — making Muslims feel good about the alleged scientific achievements of the Islamic world.

And if there is any actual rise in “anti-Islamic sentiment,” it is not because befuddled American yahoos think that nationalizing health care and the banking and auto industries are Muslim policies implemented by a Muslim president, but because Islamic jihadists just in the last few days sent bombs via UPS to synagogues in Chicago and stormed a church in Baghdad, murdering 58 people. Then there was the Fort Hood jihad shooting, the Arkansas recruiting center jihad shooting, the Christmas underwear bomb jihad attempt, the Times Square jihad car bomb attempt, the Fort Dix jihad plot, the North Carolina jihad plot, the Seattle jihad shooting, the JFK Airport jihad plot, and on and on. But Reza Aslan, not surprisingly, doesn’t mention any of that.

The reason I bring this up is because what’s happened in the United States is something that has already happened in Europe and that is that Islam is become ‘otherised’, it has become a kind of receptacle into which fears and anxieties about the political or economic situation, about the changing racial landscape of this country are being thrown.

This is something common to the United States – Make no mistake – In fact, every single thing that has been said about Muslims, that they are un-American, that they are foreign, that they are exotic has been said in this country about Jews in the 20th century, was said about Catholics in this country, in the latter part of the 19th century, so it’s a common occurrence in the United States.

I think by all accounts in the same way we look back on the anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish sentiments of our history with shame and derision and with a healthy dose of mockery, that’s how we will very likely look back on this sort of anti-Muslim sentiment as well in the next generation.

Here again, Aslan is not engaging in any real analysis or actual thought; he is just repeating talking points that we have heard before from the likes of Muslim Brotherhood-linked Congressman Keith Ellison and Nicholas Kristof, among many others. Christopher Hitchens ably took apart the central claim being made here: “‘Some of what people are saying in this mosque controversy is very similar to what German media was saying about Jews in the 1920s and 1930s,’ Imam Abdullah Antepli, Muslim chaplain at Duke University, told the New York Times. Yes, we all recall the Jewish suicide bombers of that period, as we recall the Jewish yells for holy war, the Jewish demands for the veiling of women and the stoning of homosexuals, and the Jewish burning of newspapers that published cartoons they did not like.”

And as for Aslan’s assertion that “in the next generation” Americans will “very likely look back on this sort of anti-Muslim sentiment” with “shame and derision and with a healthy dose of mockery,” that’s all he has besides borrowed talking points originated by others. Aslan, as I will eventually demonstrate definitively when I publish his emails to me, cannot and will not deal on the level of facts and discuss matters rationally, but instead works consistently from the gutter. It is the only refuge he has given his manifest and abject intellectual vacuity.

Anyway, then the Australian TV show goes on to Nonie Darwish, who states some truths about the Qur’an, which are then contradicted by Muslim spokesmen. The problem with such discussions is that they deal in generalities; there is no time in such a setting for any extended examination of the contents of the Qur’an, and so the discussion amounts essentially to one person’s word against another’s. And so to Reza Aslan’s response:

REZA ASLAN: First of all, I have to say that it’s a weird feeling to have to respond to a Christian leader of an anti-Muslims organisation – it would be like having to respond to a Muslim leader of an anti-Jewish organisation about Judaism so the whole thing is kind of weird. Let me just say it’s kind of convenient to simply pick and choose whatever violent bits and pieces one finds in the Koran and ignore the equally important versus that talk about compassion and peace. There’s nothing strange or unusual about the Koran, the same Tora [sic] that gives us the 10 commandments commands the Jews to enact genocide upon every non-believer of Yaway [sic]. The same gospel telling us to turn the other cheek, also says “Jesus says I’ve come to bring the sword and not peace, and that he who doesn’t have a cloak should sell the cloak and buy a sword”.

The thing about scripture is, scripture talks about war and peace, love and hatred, compassion and bigotry, that is why it’s important, that’s why something that was written 5,000 years ago is still read today because it could be understood how you want to. Only an idea log [sic] or a bigot would choose to only focus on one part of the scripture, and ignore the other parts.

Aslan ignores, and probably hopes that his audience doesn’t know about, the mainstream Islamic theological idea that the chapters of the Qur’an that date from the Medinan period, which contain virtually all of the Qur’an’s directives to wage war against and subjugate unbelievers, take precedence over the chapters from the Meccan period, which teach a kind of grudging tolerance, and that offensive warfare against unbelievers is the Qur’an’s final and binding word on jihad. See here for an Islamic explication of that idea, which dates as far back as the eighth century, when it was enunciated by Muhammad’s first biographer, Ibn Ishaq. Another thing Aslan seems not to want you to know is that it is those Islamic exegetes who are the “idea logs” and “bigots,” as it is they who are focusing on one part of the Qur’an at the expense of other parts (although actually the Qur’an’s material about tolerance is rather thin). The problem is not with people like Nonie Darwish, who merely report on mainstream Muslim understandings of the Qur’an.

Aslan further, whether because of his abysmal lack of analytical abilities or from a deliberate intent to deceive, claims that the Torah “commands the Jews to enact genocide upon every non-believer of Yaway [sic],” which is patently false, and belied in any case by Jewish law and tradition, which have never understood anything in the Torah as commanding any such thing. Aslan likewise misrepresents the Christian tradition, trying to give the impression that Jesus’ saying that he had not come to bring peace, but a sword, was somehow equivalent to the Qur’an’s exhortations to jihad — despite the fact that although Christians have waged holy wars in the past, no mainstream sect of Christianity has ever had a doctrine of warfare comparable to that which is universal among mainstream Islamic sects.

Later the conversation turns to Sharia, at pretty much where it left Aslan — claiming that the Bible is essentially as violent and capable of inciting its adherents to violence as the Qur’an:

JENNY BROCKIE: That’s a point – Plenty of slang and stoning in the Bible too. We are talking about rising anti-Islamic sentiment Europe and in the US, and what is driving it, Reza Aslan, I would like to come back to you, we hear a lot about Sharia law, I would like you to explain from your perspective, what it is, and how important it is to Muslim identity.

REZA ASLAN: There’s really no such thing as just Sharia, it’s not one monolithic Continuum – Sharia is understood in thousands of different ways over the 1,500 years in which multiple and competing schools of law have tried to construct some kind of civic penal and family law code that would abide by Islamic values and principles, it’s understood in many different ways, there are three foundational issues or three divisions that I should say that Sharia fits into, one is penal law of course and that is what gets all the attention, there’s two countries in the world right now that actually have a Federal mandate to enact penal law according to the Sharia, that’s Saudi Arabia, and Iran.

Then there’s financial law, obviously, which has become quite popular, actually in the US and in the west, ever since the global economic meltdown, and then there is something about family law, and that involves marriage, divorce, inheritance, these kinds of issues. So when you say Sharia, even to a Muslim, it’s understood in vastly different ways, in many ways it’s part of an identity and most Muslims when they talk about wanting Sharia to play a role in their lives really mean it in so far as it talks about family law, you know, issues like, as I said marriage, divorce.

The claim that Sharia is “not one monolithic Continuum” is yet another borrowed talking point that Aslan trots out on this show. Islamic apologists in the West routinely insist that Sharia is so multifarious and complex that it is impossible to say definitively what it says about any particular issue. They say this when non-Muslims bring up uncomfortable matters such as stonings and amputations. In reality, the schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madhahib) agree on about 75% of all questions (including those uncomfortable bits about jihad, dhimmitude, the death penalty for apostates, stonings, amputations, etc.), so it is not at all illegitimate to speak of Sharia rules — as Reza Aslan well knows.

Also, Aslan concentrates in his response largely on the aspects of Sharia that make it appear commonplace and non-threatening — marriage, divorce, inheritance laws. He knows, of course, that those aren’t the aspects of Sharia that make people concerned about it (although polygamy and divorce by a single word at the whim of the husband are indeed matters of concern, or should be, for feminists and everyone concerned about human rights). Then he introduces still another set of borrowed talking points:

In the United States we have all across this country, we have dozens of Halakha courts, in which particularly observant Jews can take these issues of family law to an orthodox Court and have that judge, judge for them. In the United Kingdom they do the same for Catholic and Jewish communities, we see the same thing in Europe with Muslim communities, looking to Sharia courts. As long as the courts don’t violate the laws of the land and as long as there’s a room for appeal should one or two parties disagree with the verdict, I don’t see how this would have anything to do with being incompatible with what we refer to as Western ideas of democracy.

Here Aslan echoes the oft-repeated idea that Sharia courts in the West are equivalent to Jewish courts. David Yerushalmi ably dismantled that idea two years ago, here. Above all, Jewish courts (and Catholic courts) deal exclusively with private matters among believers, while Islamic law asserts jurisdiction in the political sphere and over non-believers. But you will never hear about that from Reza Aslan.

JENNY BROCKIE: How comfortably do those values in Sharia law sit with democratic values?

REZA ASLAN: There’s no such thing as values in Sharia law, that is what I was trying to explain, it’s understood in thousands of different ways by tens of thousands of different institutions, who really disagree with each other far more than they disagree with people of other religions, the values that you bring to Sharia are whatever values you yourself have, if you are a bigot, misogynist and a violent person, your interpretation of Sharia will be bigoted, violent and misogynistic, if you are a democrat and a pluralist and someone who is peace loving, that’s how you’ll see the Sharia.

JENNY BROCKIE: Nonie, a response from you?

NONIE DARWISH: This is very evasive – Sharia law is a Malignant law, it’s totally based on the interpretation of the Koran and the Hajid [sic], and the way Islam and the profit [sic] lived. I don’t know understand why he’s white washing the meaning of Sharia – Sharia is a set of laws…..

REZA ASLAN: I’m a scholar of Sharia, that’s why.

NONIE DARWISH: Excuse me…. I’m a scholar of Sharia, too.

REZA ASLAN: Excuse me.

NONIE DARWISH: Sharia is the most oppressive system on earth. It encourages people to lie, if it’s for the benefits of Islam. It doesn’t allow Muslims to leave Islam, and there’s a death penalty in all the schools of Sharia against those that leave Islam. Sharia defines what jihad is. Sharia is very clear. It’s not…

REZA ASLAN: These are patterns of false statements. I’m confused.

NONIE DARWISH: I am speaking, I did not interrupt you.

JENNY BROCKIE: Nonie quickly, then I’ll get a response from Reza.

NONIE DARWISH: Jihad is described as a war against Muslims, to establish the religion, the West is concerned, let’s be open with them. Why this deception.

JENNY BROCKIE: Reza, a quick response from you.

NONIE DARWISH: Moderate Muslims are trying to convince the West that Sharia is good instead of trying to…

JENNY BROCKIE: I’ll stop you there, there’s a lot of other people that want to talk. Reza, quickly a response.

REZA ASLAN: I don’t have a response to that, every word she says is factually incorrect. I don’t really know what to say.

Nonie asserted that Sharia allows Muslims to lie to further the Islamic cause, mandates a death penalty for apostates, and calls for jihad warfare against unbelievers. Aslan, in response, claims that all that is “factually incorrect.” For lying, see here, re Qur’an 3:28. For the death penalty for apostates, see here. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, whom John Esposito classes as a “reformist,” says that “the Muslim jurists are unanimous that apostates must be punished, yet they differ as to determining the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them. The majority of them, including the four main schools of jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi`i, and Hanbali) as well as the other four schools of jurisprudence (the four Shiite schools of Az-Zaidiyyah, Al-Ithna-`ashriyyah, Al-Ja`fariyyah, and Az-Zaheriyyah) agree that apostates must be executed.” Does Reza Aslan dispute Qaradawi’s contention about the schools of Islamic jurisprudence?

And for jihad warfare, see here. Can Reza Aslan produce one recognized school of Islamic jurisprudence (as opposed to an individual innovative scholar) who teaches against lying to unbelievers when under pressure, the death penalty for apostates, and jihad warfare against unbelievers? No, he can’t, because such a school of Islamic jurisprudence does not exist.

Later, back to Reza:

JENNY BROCKIE: Can I get a response from you Reza to the man’s concerns.

REZA ASLAN: Well, as I said, what he’s talking about is the very long penal codes that one finds in the multiple, multiple schools of Sharia. And those are absolutely totally and completely incompatible with human rights, with modernity, constitutionalism, democracy, there’s no question about that, there’s no question that there isn’t a single Muslim individual or institution in the United States that’s calling for those laws. Indeed, passing a law in any state in this country saying that, you know, Sharia cannot be a legal code here is sort of like passing a law forbidding Americans were riding unicorns because we have a constitution, we only have one penal code in the United States, and it applies in every single state, every city, no matter who is there. This is part of the fear mongering, that has gripped the United States, the notion that we need to pass a law forbidding the institution of a foreign Law in the United States when it is forbidden by the constitutions is yet another example of targeting Muslim communities because they are seen as different, or exceptional in other ways.

So because no Muslim is calling for Sharia, which is not established as a certainty, we need not make any provision against it. The problem with this is that everywhere Muslims have ever been in significant numbers, they have ultimately called for imposition of the political aspects of Sharia. Why should the U.S. be different? Reza Aslan doesn’t say. He would rather you simply assume, in defiance of a mountain of historical evidence, that this time it will be different. But it won’t. And he, with all his oily deceptions, detours, and half-truths, is one of the reasons why.

Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, is available now from Regnery Publishing, and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of the forthcoming book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).

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

Islamist “Dead Zones”


by Stephen Brown


Ear-splitting explosions; bloody, whimpering and lifeless bodies strewn across the floor; demented terrorists killing with an insane cruelty; and a building held sacred now ruined and profaned.

It was a scene fit for Dante’s Inferno or a medieval painting of hell, but only the victims weren’t sinners. The people who came to Baghdad’s Our Lady of the Holy Salvation Church last Sunday evening had wanted to get closer to God, but instead were struck by the “hand of the devil.” And once more it was the followers of the Islamist death cult who formed the devil’s fist, their satanic blow costing this time more than 50 of the assembled worshipers their lives.

“They came to kill, kill, kill,” massacre survivor Bassam Sami told the New York Times after his narrow escape from death.

According to survivors, the Islamists stormed the church, firing their weapons, killing many of the 80 to 100 congregation members gathered there for the evening service. According to the Times report, one of the priests pleaded for his parishioners’ lives as he was pushed to the ground, grasping a crucifix, and murdered.

Some worshippers managed to make it to a room at the back of the church where they barricaded the door and prayed. But upon discovering their hiding place, the terrorists threw four grenades through a window into the room, killing several of the trapped and terrified victims.

“They seemed insane,” reported another survivor.

Part of their insanity is demonstrated by the fact the terrorists themselves wanted to die. Two of them were reported to have worn suicide vests, one of which was detonated when security

forces attacked the church. When it was over, a further eight security personnel lay dead in and around the church along with all six Islamists.

The group that claimed responsibility for the savage violence, The Islamic State of Iraq, is an al Qaeda affiliate. The affiliation is the tragedy’s least surprising aspect, since wherever there is the smell of innocent, murdered corpses, al Qaeda can’t be far away.

In their statement issued after the attack, the terrorist group blamed their act of mass murder and destruction on Egypt’s Coptic Church for allegedly holding two women who had converted to Islam. Their other spurious excuse concerned the martyred Baghdad church itself. In the statement, it was called “…one of the filthy dens of idolatry that was always used by the Christians of Iraq to fight the religion of Islam and to support those who fight that religion.”

But the real reason for Sunday’s hellish bloodletting is that Islamist terrorists, as has often been noted, are death worshippers. Several have been quoted as saying that while we (in the West) love life, they love death. Former President George Bush even referred to one of these nihilistic messages in a speech he made in 2004, calling Islamist thinking “a mindset that rejoices in suicide, incites murder and celebrates every death we mourn.” Bush could have been speaking of the Iraqi church massacre.

Some believe this love of death was present even in Islam’s earliest days, such as in the message Caliph Abu Bakr sent to a Persian commander before a battle in 636 bears. It read: You should convert to Islam, and then you will be safe, for if you don’t, you should know that I have come to you with an army of men that love death as you love life.”

But Anna Geifman, a history professor of political violence specializing in pre-revolutionary Russia, sees something deeper in the Islamist death cult’s’ attacks rather than just motiveless and mindless atrocities, or “absurd violence”, as Pope Benedict called the church attack. In her book Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia, Geifman sees the terrorists’ main goal in attacking a target is to turn it into a “mini-replica of a concentration camp” and cites the Beslan school massacre as a prime example of such “ ‘carefully planned mass murder’.”

Islamist terrorists seized School Number 1 in the North Ossetian town of Beslan in 2004 during the first-day-of-school ceremony when many in attendance were of kindergarten age. More than 1,200 children and their relatives were held hostage under inhumane conditions in the school’s gym where they suffered cruel treatment at the hands of their captors, whose sadism may also have been fuelled by drugs.

The drama ended in incredible violence that cost 334 captives their lives, among them 186 children. The terrorists shot the hostages, some only five-years old, in the back as they tried to flee “ ‘as if they were targets in a shooting gallery’.”

“The ruins of the school, where hundreds of prisoners suffered from unbearable heat and dozens perished in flames, were not just the site of another terrorist act; they became ‘a symbol of mass homicide, akin to the chimneys of Auschwitz’,” Geifman writes.

Geifman’s analysis and description could also be applied to the World Trade Center’s twin towers.

In Beslan, Geifman believes the terrorists took “their sacrificial destruction to a new level.” By attacking a town like Beslan where everyone knew each other, all suffered death and bereavement, even if they didn’t lose a child. This in turn has created what psychologists call a “death space” or “zone” where everyone is grieving. But unlike Holocaust survivors who were also “affected for life”, the people of Beslan remain in their town among their dead. Since the tragedy, the locals call their town a “closed ‘infected sphere’ ” where it is like “living in a cemetery.”

Geifman writes such “zones of sadness” rose up after 9/11 “from Ground Zero into areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, as far as Staten Island and New Jersey.” But such massacres “do not stop the lives” of citizens in big cities like they would in Beslan or among Iraq’s small Christian community.

The other comparison between the tragedies that struck School Number One and Our Lady of the Holy Salvation Church is the terrorists attacked that which is held most sacred. In the case of Beslan, the Islamist death worshippers targeted and killed children, the most sacrosanct part of any community. The spiritual essence of Iraq’s Christians was also deeply violated by the killing of co-religionists in one of their holy places during a mass.

“We’ve lost part of our soul now,” said a 16-year-old Iraqi Christian of his dwindling community to the Times. “Our destiny, we don’t know what to say of it.”

It is no wonder Iraq’s Christians are unsure about their future when their enemy is consumed by such a bottomless hatred, he is even willing to destroy himself. But one thing is for sure, it is in the Islamists’ twisted souls where the real “dead zone” lies.

Stephen Brown

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

Will Election Results Affect Israel Policy?


by Dan Ephron


Netanyahu might be pleased with GOP House takeover, but Obama’s setback does not herald big change.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends an awards ceremony at Tel Aviv University.

It wouldn’t be a huge leap to assume that Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish prime minister of Israel, is rejoicing at the large Republican gains in the midterm elections this week. Netanyahu considers Congress his domain in Washington, the place he goes to for protection when the White House presses him to take steps he’d rather avoid. Though plenty of Democratic members of Congress are friendly to Israel, Republicans are more likely to support a Likud government uncritically. And since Obama has shown a greater willingness to lean on Israel than other recent American presidents, a weaker man in the White House should ostensibly mean less pressure on the prime minister in Jerusalem.

But Netanyahu may find the consequences of the midterm election to be more of a mixed bag. For one thing, experience has shown that the composition of Congress does not necessarily determine Washington’s approach to the Middle East. The most relevant example would be President Clinton’s dealings with Israel during his second term. Though Republicans had a majority in both the House and the Senate, Clinton managed to force a recalcitrant Israeli leader into withdrawing from parts of the West Bank under an interim deal with the Palestinians. That leader’s name: Benjamin Netanyahu. “Yes, a Republican Congress will raise the domestic political cost of confronting Israel,” says Jonathan Rynhold, an expert on Israel-U.S. relations at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv. “But there are plenty of ways to pressure Israel without Congress.”

In fact, in some ways Obama might now be more inclined to confront Israel. The Republican House majority could well narrow his scope for major domestic achievements, making him hungrier for foreign-policy successes. There’s no bigger one than advancing peace in the Middle East.

Then there’s the matter of Iran. Israelis view the coming year as critical in the campaign to halt Tehran’s nuclear program. Republican congressmen might be more amenable to the idea of considering military options in case sanctions don’t work. On the Sunday talk shows and on the floor of the House of Representatives, the idea of attacking Iran’s nuclear installations will be floated more often.

The results of the election could have more of an effect in Tehran itself—and this should be Israel’s main concern. President Ahmadinejad and other hardliners are surely feeling emboldened by the perception that Obama is now a weaker president. That perception will likely make it harder for Washington to compel Iran to stop its enrichment program.

The bottom line: U.S. policy won’t change much as far as Israel is concerned. Netanyahu might be toasting the results of the election now. But when the dust clears, he can expect renewed pressure to resume the settlement freeze in the West Bank and get serious in talks with the Palestinians.

Dan Ephron

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

Will Election Results Affect Israel Policy?


by Dan Ephron


Netanyahu might be pleased with GOP House takeover, but Obama’s setback does not herald big change.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends an awards ceremony at Tel Aviv University.

It wouldn’t be a huge leap to assume that Benjamin Netanyahu, the hawkish prime minister of Israel, is rejoicing at the large Republican gains in the midterm elections this week. Netanyahu considers Congress his domain in Washington, the place he goes to for protection when the White House presses him to take steps he’d rather avoid. Though plenty of Democratic members of Congress are friendly to Israel, Republicans are more likely to support a Likud government uncritically. And since Obama has shown a greater willingness to lean on Israel than other recent American presidents, a weaker man in the White House should ostensibly mean less pressure on the prime minister in Jerusalem.

But Netanyahu may find the consequences of the midterm election to be more of a mixed bag. For one thing, experience has shown that the composition of Congress does not necessarily determine Washington’s approach to the Middle East. The most relevant example would be President Clinton’s dealings with Israel during his second term. Though Republicans had a majority in both the House and the Senate, Clinton managed to force a recalcitrant Israeli leader into withdrawing from parts of the West Bank under an interim deal with the Palestinians. That leader’s name: Benjamin Netanyahu. “Yes, a Republican Congress will raise the domestic political cost of confronting Israel,” says Jonathan Rynhold, an expert on Israel-U.S. relations at the BESA Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv. “But there are plenty of ways to pressure Israel without Congress.”

What You Missed: Midterm Elections in 7 Minutes Haven't been paying attention this election season? Here's everything you need to know in brief

In fact, in some ways Obama might now be more inclined to confront Israel. The Republican House majority could well narrow his scope for major domestic achievements, making him hungrier for foreign-policy successes. There’s no bigger one than advancing peace in the Middle East.

Then there’s the matter of Iran. Israelis view the coming year as critical in the campaign to halt Tehran’s nuclear program. Republican congressmen might be more amenable to the idea of considering military options in case sanctions don’t work. On the Sunday talk shows and on the floor of the House of Representatives, the idea of attacking Iran’s nuclear installations will be floated more often.

The results of the election could have more of an effect in Tehran itself—and this should be Israel’s main concern. President Ahmadinejad and other hardliners are surely feeling emboldened by the perception that Obama is now a weaker president. That perception will likely make it harder for Washington to compel Iran to stop its enrichment program.

The bottom line: U.S. policy won’t change much as far as Israel is concerned. Netanyahu might be toasting the results of the election now. But when the dust clears, he can expect renewed pressure to resume the settlement freeze in the West Bank and get serious in talks with the Palestinians.

Dan Ephron

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

Netanyahu: Palestinians Trying to Bypass Negotiations


by Roni Sofer


Earlier this week, Netanyahu addressed the peace process during a Likud faction hearing at the Knesset. When asked about the possibility of the resumption of settlement construction freeze he replied there was no concrete US proposal and that the matter was on hold.

Prim Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a special Knesset debate titled "The world against Israel – how the Netanyahu administration isolated the State of Israel in the international arena." A request to hold a discussion on the matter was signed by 40 Knesset members, including Amir Peretz, Eitan Cabel and Daniel Ben-Simon.

First to speak was MK Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima), who slammed Netanyahu. "Before you go off to a visit in the US you should sit down and read Thomas Friedman, the most prominent US commentator. Maybe this time the sound of danger suggested in his articles will sound clearer. In the first round he called our leadership 'drunk drivers.' In the second round, he claimed the cabinet was inhabited by lunatics. Friedman's words point to bad times of changes in Israel's relations with the US and it's not because of any particular president."

Bar-On repeated President Shimon Peres' statements calling for an immediate political decision. "Do you need a clearer warning sign? You know, it's never too late to fix things. Make a bold, uncompromising decision and go for it. We'll be there for you and for ourselves."

MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) said, "You've been running the country for a year and eight months, what decision have you made except create one committee after the other. Shunning responsibility is not leadership; it's a weak, indulgent and irresponsible government."

Freeze on hold

Addressing the stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said, "Rejecting Israel's right to exist certainly doesn't advance reconciliation between the nations and our desire to bring about a peace agreement. The Palestinians made an official commitment in this regard – as part of the Wye agreement and other agreements. I promise to discuss this commitment during the process, but for now I want the process to move forward without preconditions.

"If (the process) fails, it will be because the Palestinian Authority is trying to bypass the negotiations and move the process to the international track," he said.

As for the public uproar surrounding the yeshiva student bill, Netanyahu said, "We are doing exactly what has been done for the past 30 years. The haredim are part of our nation, and should be treated as such. This public should be encouraged to work."

Likud MK Ofir Akonis responded to the Kadima claims and said, "Your Alzheimer's is really advanced. You decided to take a cynical, political ride on the backs of Israeli students," he said. "Have you no shame – to insinuate that Israel is to blame for the Marmara flotilla?"

Akonis noted that substantial stipends were given to haredim during the Kadima administration and presented a newspaper with the title: "Livni to Shas: Receive NIS 1 billion (about $280 million)." He was then escorted from the podium by security guards for violating Knesset protocol. Later, Kadima's Yoel Hasson was also removed from the hall after verbally attacking MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu).

MK Nissim Zeev (Shas) addressed the Labor MKs and said: "You can’t crush the coalition from the inside because of problems with your party chairman. I have unresolved business with the defense minister. I think he made a fool of himself, with the Galant document, with his foreign worker…they caught the most dangerous terrorist in the world – Virginia."


Roni Sofer

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

Arms for the King and His Family: The U.S. Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia


by Joshua Teitelbaum

  • On October 20, 2010, the U.S. State Department notified Congress of its intention to make the biggest arms sale in American history - an estimated $60.5 billion purchase by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The package represents a considerable improvement in the offensive capability of the Saudi armed forces.

  • Saudi Arabia's armed forces are compartmentalized by royal family faction, and do not share communications. They include the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF), Saudi Arabian Royal Guard (SARG), and Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). This system is at once a form of coup-proofing and power-balancing.

  • SANG, headed by King Abdullah and his sons, is slated to be particularly blessed with 156 new helicopters, significantly increasing its mobility and attack capabilities. Abdullah has significantly upgraded the SANG, which amounts to the personal militia of his family faction.

  • The U.S. was keen to point out that the arms transfer would increase "interoperability" with U.S. forces. In the 1990-1991 Gulf War, having U.S.-trained Saudi forces, along with military installations built to U.S. specifications, allowed the American armed forces to deploy in a comfortable and familiar battle environment. This new deal would increase these capabilities, as an advanced American military infrastructure is about to be built.

  • Totally offensive in nature, the package, with its attack planes, helicopters, and "bunker-buster" bombs, was clearly designed to deter Iran and to send a strong signal, perhaps previously lacking in the Obama administration, that the U.S. would stand strongly by its allies. U.S. officials have also begun to refer to the "Persian Gulf" as the "Arabian Gulf," a hot-button issue for the Iranians.
On October 20, 2010, the U.S. Department of State notified Congress of its intention to make the biggest arms sale in American history - an estimated $60.5 billion purchase by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Information on the deal had been leaking since August, as the White House tested congressional opinion.

The U.S. has a strong defense relationship with Saudi Arabia. The Congressional Research Service has described the history of arms sales to the kingdom:
The United States has long been Saudi Arabia's leading arms supplier. From 1950 through 2006, Saudi Arabia purchased and received from the United States weapons, military equipment, and related services through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) worth over $62.7 billion and Foreign Military Construction Services (FMCS) worth over $17.1 billion (figures in historical dollars). These figures represent approximately 19 percent of all FMS deliveries and 85 percent of all FMCS deliveries made worldwide during this period. The largest single recent U.S. foreign military sale to Saudi Arabia [until now - JT] was a $9 billion contract for 72 F-15S fighter aircraft. The contract was signed in May 1993, and delivery of the F-15S aircraft was completed in 1999.1
Components of the Sale

The announcement of the sale was formalized in four separate notifications to Congress, representing various arms of the Saudi armed forces, and reflecting the divided control of the Saudi military between two main royal family factions:

1. The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF)2 was prepared to purchase 84 F-15SA aircraft, 1,100 GBU-24 PAVEWAY III Laser Guided Bombs (2,000-lb.), and 1,000 GBU-31B V3 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) 2,000-lb. bombs, along with 193 LANTIRN navigation pods (3rd Generation-Tiger Eye), 170 APG-63 (v)3 Active Electronically Scanned Array Radar (AESA) sets, Harpoon, HARM (anti-radar), and Sidewinder missiles. Also included are the upgrade of the existing RSAF fleet of 70 F-15S multi-role fighters to the F-15SA configuration, communication security, site surveys, trainers, simulators, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistical support services, and other related elements of logistical and program support. The estimated cost is $29.432 billion.3

2. The Royal Saudi Land Forces (RSLF)4 were to receive 24 AH-64D Block III Apache Longbow helicopters and associated missiles and electronics. Also included are trainers, simulators, generators, training munitions, design and construction, transportation, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $3.3 billion.

3. The Saudi Arabian Royal Guard (SARG)5 signed up for 10 AH-64D Block III Apache Longbow helicopters with the requisite missiles and electronics. Also included are trainers, simulators, generators, training munitions, design and construction, transportation, tools and test equipment, ground- and air-based SATCOM and line-of-sight communication equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $2.223 billion.

4. The Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG)6 component was 36 AH-64D Block III Apache helicopters, 72 UH-60M Blackhawk helicopters, 12 MD-530F light turbine reconnaissance helicopters, and 36 AH-6i light attack helicopters, along with missiles and electronics. Also included are trainers, simulators, generators, munitions, design and construction, transportation, wheeled vehicles and organization equipment, tools and test equipment, communication equipment, spare and repair parts, support equipment, personnel training and training equipment, publications and technical documentation, U.S. government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services, and other related elements of program support. The estimated cost is $25.6 billion.

The Significance of the Hardware

There is no doubt that the package represents a considerable improvement in the offensive capability of the Saudi armed forces. The RSAF is promised 84 new F-15SAs, and an upgrade of its current 70 F-15Ss to F-15SA standard, giving it a total of 154 advanced aircraft. This comes on top of its already formidable squadrons of 80 American F-15C/Ds, and British-made Typhoons (72) and Tornados (about 100).

One of the most interesting developments concerns the helicopters.7 Saudi Arabia's armed forces are compartmentalized by royal family faction, and do not share communications.8 This system, put in place by King Faysal (d. 1975), is at once a form of coup-proofing and power-balancing. SANG, headed by King Abdullah and his sons (particularly the commander of SANG, Mut'ib), is slated to be particularly blessed with 156 new helicopters, significantly increasing its mobility and attack capabilities far beyond its traditional role of defending the royal family, controlling Shiites, and protecting strategic locations, such as oil installations. SANG was not known to have any air power at all. Of course, Crown Prince Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz and his son Khalid, who control the RSLF, RSAF and SARG under the Ministry of Defense and Aviation, are getting some pretty hefty hardware as well. Particular attention should be drawn to the SARG Apache Longbows, since the SARG was not known previously to have had helicopters, although it might have drawn them from the RSLF (of which it is officially a part) when needed. The recent deal seems to generally be keeping the balance of power, although Abdullah has significantly upgraded the SANG, which amounts to the personal militia of his family faction.

In both the State Department announcement of the deal by Andrew Shapiro, Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs, and the Department of Defense notifications to Congress, the U.S. was keen to point out that the arms transfer would increase "interoperability" with U.S. forces. This is a key point. It was proven in the 1990-1991 Gulf War that having U.S.-trained Saudi forces, along with military installations built to U.S. specifications, allowed the American armed forces to deploy and operate in the theater in a comfortable and familiar battle environment. This new deal would increase these capabilities through the purchase of American arms and training by American personnel.

In essence, as in 1990-1991, an advanced American military infrastructure is about to be built. The U.S. is not relying on joint Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) forces, which do not approach the level of interoperability with each other that the U.S. possesses and aspires to expand even further with the Saudis.9 As the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, Persian Gulf deployment becomes even more critical. In a manner of speaking, the deal amounts to a kind of pre-positioning of U.S.-manufactured war materiel and U.S.-trained personnel in a very strategic theater. At the very least, it would free up U.S. forces to be deployed elsewhere.

The package notably does not include any defensive capabilities, particularly ballistic missile defense (BMD). The Saudis are particularly sensitive to the presence of U.S. troops in the kingdom - indeed, that presence during the Gulf War was one of the reasons cited by Usama bin Ladin for the formation of al-Qaeda - and have dialed down the U.S. footprint significantly as a result. BMD would require a significant presence. But Saudi Arabia has most probably not been abandoned to ballistic missiles. Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the UAE all have U.S.-manned Patriot missile batteries, and U.S. Aegis Combat System-equipped cruisers frequent the Persian Gulf.10 Additional Aegis ships can provide coverage from the Red Sea. It is likely that there are Patriots in Iraq as well. It seems, therefore, that much, if not all, of Saudi Arabia is already covered for BMD from neighboring countries and seas.

Iran: The Elephant in the Room

In fact, totally offensive in nature, the package, with its attack planes, helicopters, and "bunker-buster" bombs, was clearly designed to deter Iran and to send a strong signal, perhaps previously lacking in the Obama administration, that the U.S. would stand strongly by its allies. The deal falls within the general policy announced by President George W. Bush in July 2007 to arm the Gulf states against Iran. At the time, a senior administration official stressed: "This is a big development, because it's part of a larger regional strategy and the maintenance of a strong U.S. presence in the region. We're paying attention to the needs of our allies and what everyone in the region believes is a flexing of muscles by a more aggressive Iran. One way to deal with that is to make our allies and friends strong."11 And this time around, U.S. officials were even bolder. "We want Iran to understand that its nuclear program is not getting them leverage over their neighbors, that they are not getting an advantage," a senior administration official said as news of the planned sale began to trickle out. He emphasized: "We want the Iranians to know that every time they think they will gain, they will actually lose."12

That the deal was aimed at Iran was particularly noticeable in Shapiro's press conference. In particular, Shapiro used the loaded term "Arabian Gulf" in one out of three references for the body of water that has traditionally and officially been termed by the U.S. the "Persian Gulf." This is a hot-button issue for the Iranians, and was a strong signal both to Tehran and the GCC countries, which call it the Arabian Gulf (al-khalij al-‘arabi). It is hard to believe this phrase was unintentional. The use of the same phrase by Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, less than a week later suggested a more aggressive U.S. stance.13 (A website called www.persianorarabiangulf.com invites readers to vote on which term they prefer. As of this writing, Persian Gulf leads 71 to 29 percent, with over 100,000 responses. Iranians are very patriotic.)

Israel did not raise objections to the sale, except to say that it was "not thrilled about it,"14 but U.S. officials were at pains to stress that there had been previous high-level consultations with Israel, and that the Jewish state's qualitative military edge was being maintained. Israel was also scheduled to receive the latest in aviation warfare, the F-35, in 2015, the same year the F-15SAs were scheduled to be sent to Saudi Arabia. The Israelis have apparently given the nod.

One prominent member of the royal family, former head of intelligence and former ambassador to Washington Turki Al Faysal, did not seem particularly grateful for the security cooperation. He used a speech to the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations to upbraid the administration for its support of Israel in less than graceful terms. Israel was a "drain on the United States, not as asset," he averred. "Within the makeup of this administration," Turki confided, "there are officials who rationalize, excuse, and condone Israeli intransigence." He railed against the idea of independence from foreign oil, calling it a "canard," and referred to supporters of Israel as "live human muppets...who are run by AIPAC."15

While there was only very muted congressional opposition to the sale, President Obama's public thanking of Saudi Arabia for help in the interdiction of two Yemen-originating bombs headed for Chicago synagogues on October 29 was set to assure smooth sailing for the deal on Capitol Hill.16 The warning had come personally from the Saudi Minister of Interior, Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz.17 Nayif controls the Ministry of Interior and its special security forces, and represents another royal family faction.

Finally, the boost to the ailing U.S. economy should not be ignored as a motivating factor.18 The stakes were particularly high for Missouri, which had Boeing's F-15 production line with 14,000 jobs, as well as Arizona, Florida, Ohio, and New York.

The sale is sure to be approved by Congress, and with the approval, the U.S.-Saudi security relationship is back on an even keel. Although the two countries do not share many values, they do share security interests. Israel shares many of these interests as well.

Notes

1. Christopher Blanchard, "Saudi Arabia: Background and U.S. Relations," Congressional Research Service, June 14, 2010.

2. http://www.dsca.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2010/Saudi_Arabia_10-43.pdf

3. Only the most important aspects in the notification are included in these lists.

4. http://www.dsca.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2010/Saudi_Arabia_10-45.pdf

5. http://www.dsca.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2010/Saudi_Arabia_10-46.pdf

6. http://www.dsca.osd.mil/PressReleases/36-b/2010/Saudi_Arabia_10-44.pdf

7. See Yiftah Shafir, "The White Army Against Iran: The Saudi Arms Deal - Part Two," Mabat Al, October 28, 2010, www.inss.org.il (Hebrew).

8. See Joshua Teitelbaum, "A Family Affair: Civil-Military Relations in Saudi Arabia," Draft Paper Presented to the Fourth Mediterranean Social and Political Research Meeting, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, Florence, March 2003.

9. http://www.susris.com/2010/09/17/us-saudi-security-cooperation-impact-of-arms-sales/

10. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/31/world/middleeast/31missile.html?_r=1

11. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/27/AR2007072702454.html

12. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/18/world/18arms.html

13. http://www.state.gov/p/eap/rls/rm/2010/10/150035.htm

14. http://www.forward.com/articles/132611/

15. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/oct/23/prominent-saudi-royal-blasts-obama-israel/

16. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN3026296820101030

17. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/01/world/01terror.html

18. http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/125595-60b-arms-sale-to-saudi-arabia-a-needed-boost-for-defense-companies

Joshua Teitelbaum, Ph.D., is Principal Research Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He holds research positions at the GLORIA Center, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, and visiting positions at the Hoover Institution and the Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, both at Stanford University.

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

Israel takes aim at Palestinian 'incitement'


by Ian Deitch


Israel announced Wednesday it will officially monitor "incitement" by the Palestinians, taking aim at what it says are widespread provocations against the Jewish state that undermine efforts to reach Mideast peace.

The announcement further strained an atmosphere that has grown increasingly tense in recent weeks following the breakdown of U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace talks. Palestinians accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of trying to divert attention away from the impasse in the negotiations and its own failures to live up to obligations, such as a settlement freeze.

Israel has long claimed that Palestinian leaders promote - or tolerate - hatred in school textbooks, public speeches and their official media. Israel have especially bristled at maps in schoolbooks and documents that do not designate Israel, and Palestinian TV broadcasts of mosque leaders denigrating Jews.

All this feeds off - and perhaps amplifies - what Israelis consider a hostile atmosphere, reflected in the fact that militants who carried out deadly attacks against Israeli civilians are widely regarded as heroes in the Palestinian territories, and streets and other public domains are often named after them.

Both sides committed themselves to curbing incitement in a 2003 U.S.-backed peace blueprint - the so-called "Road Map," which also calls for a settlement freeze. President Barack Obama has urged the Palestinians to "not look for excuses for incitement" and ensure "they are not engaging in provocative language."

The Palestinians say they have cracked down on official incitement and accuse the Israeli side of engaging in its own manifestations of hostility. They point to statements by extremist religious figures and nationalist politicians who occasionally speak derisively of Arabs.

The dispute underscores another cultural disconnect: Israelis would say radical statements from their side draw widespread criticism from liberal Israelis and the debate becomes a news item in the freewheeling media. They distinguish that from broadcasts on Palestinian state TV, which is linked to the government and goes unchallenged.

Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib dismisses such arguments. He said Israel "cannot set the definition of incitement unilaterally and then apply it to our side." He said for the matter to be addressed fairly would require "either a neutral body or both of us (to) agree on what incitement is - and then it has to apply to both societies."

Speaking at Israel's parliament Wednesday, Netanyahu said his government would begin monitoring Palestinian media and compiling an "incitement index." His office said the index will examine "incitement to violence, encouragement of an atmosphere of violence and terror ... and lack of educating hearts to peace."

Itamar Marcus, director of Palestinian Media Watch, an advocacy group that already monitors the Palestinian media, said incitement has increased since peace talks resumed in September. Although the Israeli government's focus is the Palestinian Authority, Israel's ostensible peace partners, Marcus said incitement is broadcast also by the Hamas militants who control Gaza.

Marcus said Palestinian officials have recently claimed that Israel spreads AIDS in Palestinian territories, and his most recent report cites an example of a TV host describing Jaffa, a port in Israel proper, as "occupied area in the occupied territories."

He also pointed to a Palestinian TV show in May showing children singing "I want to carry a machine gun and a rifle. I won't care about you, my enemy, or about the West. And we shall strike Israel, we shall strike Israel."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has acknowledged there have been problems in the past, but said he is dealing with the issue. "I can't deny that some of our people make incitement. We want to eliminate this. We have to work on it," he told a group of Jewish American leaders during a trip to the U.S. in September.

Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian lawmaker, called the initiative "another Israeli attempt to draw attention away from the (peace) talks" that started in September and swiftly stalled over the Israeli resumption of settlement-building. She said that "there is incitement and discrimination on the Israeli side" as well.

Incitement does exist on the Israeli side but it is not mainstream and is always condemned by the majority of society and in the media.

Israel's ultranationalist foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has repeatedly questioned the loyalty of Israel's Arab minority, pushing attempts in parliament to require them to take loyalty oaths.

Ovadia Yosef, an influential Israeli rabbi, recently said in a sermon Abbas should be struck with a plague and "perish from this world." He later apologized for the comments.

And a main highway that cuts through the West Bank is named after the late Rehavim Zeevi, a far-right politician who advocated transferring Palestinians out of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Zeevi was killed by a Palestinian assassin in 2001.

Ian Deitch

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

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Durban III Set for New York City in September 2011


by Anne Bayefsky

The United Nations is planning to hold “Durban III” in New York City in September 2011, marking the tenth anniversary of the 2001 Durban conference, and the non-governmental forum which preceded it, held in Durban, South Africa in 2001.

Durban I produced the infamous Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), which charges Israel with racism but names no other state in the world. Durban II, held in Geneva in April 2009, was headlined by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who saw the occasion as ideal for issuing another denial of the Holocaust and an endorsement of genocide against the Jewish state. Timing Durban III for the annual opening of the General Assembly is meant to guarantee the extensive involvement of presidents and prime ministers, most of whom eluded organizers of Durban I and II.

The U.N. will now be marking the 10th anniversary of Durban I at the same time and place as the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Durban I, the platform for violent, pro-terrorist, and anti-Semitic rhetoric that included such speakers as Yasser Arafat and Fidel Castro, ended just three days before 9/11.

The intergovernmental working group charged with preparing next year’s commemoration session just wrapped up its first planning meeting in Geneva. It adopted a series of “conclusions and recommendations” and indicated that Durban III is intended to “reaffirm that the DDPA provides the most comprehensive UN framework for combating racism.” The U.N. General Assembly is now occupied with the delicate matter of finalizing “the modalities” of Durban III, and New York-based diplomats are hard at work negotiating the details.

The United States and Israel walked out of Durban I in disgust, while Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland and the United States boycotted Durban II. Even though these states were not represented, U.N. officials have continued to claim that the Durban Declaration was achieved by consensus, despite the fact that consensus clearly eluded both the Durban Declaration and the final product of the Durban Review Conference, which reaffirmed the Declaration. But at last October’s Geneva planning session, the European Union walked backwards. It agreed as a whole to recommend to the General Assembly that Durban III produce an “outcome,” knowing full well that the pressure will now be on to manufacture a new statement of unanimous support for the Declaration and the effort to further demonize and isolate Israel.

The Libyan representative in Geneva let slip a few more details about the intentions behind the 10th anniversary event, including drawing attention to the alleged “escalation of Islamophobia,” citing such affronts as the Danish cartoons and threats to burn books in Florida.

Though the Obama administration did not send a formal representative to the Geneva planning meeting, the administration’s ideological embrace of the U.N. has fueled speculation that the U.N. process of attrition may also affect U.S. attitudes towards Durban III. The Bush administration, represented by Congressman Tom Lantos, not only left Durban I – it consistently voted against the twelve General Assembly and Human Rights Commission resolutions dedicated to Durban follow-up that it confronted over the years. When Durban II was in the planning stages, the Bush administration refused to participate.

By contrast, the Obama administration sent a delegation to Geneva to figure out how to get into the Durban II act, and didn’t pull the plug on U.S. participation until a mere 48 hours before the conference, when the administration realized they couldn’t sell support. American fence-sitting was the key stumbling block in efforts to build a large coalition of democracies prepared to boycott Durban II, a dangerous tool for tolerating the intolerant. And last June at the Human Rights Council, the United States decided for the first time not to cast a vote against the Durban follow-up resolution, even though the resolution promoted two celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the original conference: in June 2011 at the Council and in September 2011 at the General Assembly. The resolution also urged widespread participation by civil society in the festivities.

The role of “civil” society in Durban I is best remembered for producing out-of-control NGO mobs. These gangs broke into the one NGO session on combating anti-Semitism, forcing it to end. After threats of violence, they necessitated the closure of the Durban Jewish Community Center, which had been the meeting place for Jewish NGOs attending the conference. They disrupted a press conference of Jewish NGOs who were seeking to raise alarm bells. They required Jewish representatives from all over the world to flee the final session with a police escort because their safety couldn’t be guaranteed if they remained. In the end, the alleged “anti-racism” NGO community deleted from their declaration multiple references to combating anti-Semitism and added that the self-determination of the Jewish people, or Zionism, was a form of racism.

The conclusions of October’s intergovernmental working group appear to be setting the stage for another NGO debacle. They read: “The Working Group…invites…NGOs to participate fully in the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the DDPA [and] invites…civil society…to organize various initiatives to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the DDPA with high visibility…”

In the next three weeks, the Obama administration will have to vote on the General Assembly resolution containing the “modalities” for September’s Durban III in New York City. The administration should not only vote no, but must also respond clearly and unequivocally to the following question. Does President Obama plan to attend Durban III, and will his administration take immediate steps to prevent the U.N.’s use of New York City as a vehicle to encourage anti-Semitism under the pretense of combating racism?

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 Age of Dissimulation


by Caroline Glick


Maarat_hamachpela_2.JPG
Years from now, when historians seek an overarching concept to define our times, they could do worse than refer to it as the Age of Dissimulation. Today our leading minds devote their energies and cognitive powers to figuring out new ways to hide reality from themselves and the general public.

Take US President Barack Obama's senior counterterrorism advisor for example. On Sunday, John Brennan spoke on Fox News about the latest attempted Islamic terrorist attack on American soil.

Since the Obama administration has barred US officials from referring to terrorists as terrorists and effectively barred US officials from acknowledging that Islamic terrorists are Muslims, Brennan simply referred to the Islamic terrorists in Yemen who tried to send bombs to synagogues in Chicago as "individuals."

Today, practically, the only individuals willing to speak honestly about who Islamic supremacists are and what they want are the Islamic supremacists themselves.

For instance, in an interview last week with Reuters, the Islamic supremacist Hamas movement's "foreign minister" Mahmoud al- Zahar told the Christian West, "You do not live like human beings. You do not [even] live like animals. You accept homosexuality. And now you criticize us?"

Al-Zahar also made the case for Islamic feminism. As he put it, "We are the ones who respect women and honor women ... not you. You use women as an animal. She has one husband and hundreds of thousands of boyfriends. You don't know who is the father of your sons, because of the way you respect women."

Finally, al-Zahar claimed that Westerners have no right to question Islam or criticize it. In his words, "Is it a crime to Islamize the people? I am a Muslim living here according to our tradition. Why should I live under your tradition? We understand you very well. You are poor people. Morally poor. Don't criticize us because of what we are."

Al-Zahar can sleep easy. The citizens of the West have rarely heard anyone in any positions of power and influence criticize Islamic supremacists "because of what they are."

In fact, the most remarkable thing about al- Zahar's interview was not what he said but that Reuters decided to publish what he said. By letting its readers learn what al-Zahar thinks of them, Reuters inadvertently gave Westerners a glimpse at the simple truth its editors and their counterparts throughout the Western media routinely purge from coverage of current events.

Rather than discuss the nature and threat of Islamic supremacism, the Western media along with nearly all Western political leaders and academics deny and dissimulate. Rather than address the threat, they accept the Islamic line and blame Israel for everything bad that happens in the world.

THE ONE group of people that can almost be forgiven for this crime against reality is the non-Muslims who live under Islamic rule. On Sunday, we received a grim reminder of the plight of such minorities with the Islamic terror attack on Baghdad's largest church, the Our Lady of Salvation Catholic church.

As some one hundred worshipers celebrated evening mass, Islamic terrorists stormed the church. According to an eyewitness account, they walked straight up to the priest administering the mass and executed him. The Muslim terrorists then took the Christian worshipers hostage.

As Iraqi military forces stormed the church under US military supervision, the Islamic terrorists threw grenades at the worshipers and detonated their bomb belts. By Monday, the death toll had reached 52.

It will be interesting to see how Catholic officials in Iraq and throughout the world respond to this attack. At the Vatican's Synod on the status of Christians in the Middle East last month, Emmanuel III Delly, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq proclaimed, "The population of [Iraq] ...is 24 million, all Muslims, with whom we live peacefully and freely...Christians are good with their fellow Muslims and in Iraq there is mutual respect among them."

As the noted Islamic expert Robert Spencer wrote last week in Frontpage Magazine, Emmanuel has not always been so outspoken in his praise of Muslim Iraqis. In 2008, when US forces were still in charge in Iraq, Emmanuel made a statement that more accurately reflected the plight of his co-religionists.

Then he said, "Christians are killed, chased out of their homes before the very eyes of those who are supposed to be responsible for their safety...The situation in some parts of Iraq is disastrous and tragic. Life is a Calvary: there is no peace or security... Everyone is afraid of kidnapping."

Christian clergy in Muslim countries are so terrified of Islamic aggression that they systematically hide the truth of their oppression and often distort their own theology to win the tolerance of supremacist Islamic authorities. Spencer noted that the head of that Vatican Synod, Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, who presently heads the Eastern Catholic church in the US, and in the past served as archbishop of Baalbek in his native Lebanon follows a similar pattern of dissimulation.

In Bustros's case, his prevaricating goes beyond false depictions of the plight of Christians. In his bid to win the favor of his Islamic supremacist overlords in Hizbullah, Bustros has regularly engaged in theological revisionism.

At last month's synod, Bustros repudiated the teachings of the Catholic Church's Second Vatican Council and embraced the discredited supersessionist theology that Vatican II denounced. Bustros claimed that God's covenant with the Jewish people and his promise to give us the Land of Israel "were nullified by Christ."

In his view, "There is no longer a chosen people."

Bustros did not simply assert a theological view at odds with the doctrine of the Catholic Church. He used his replacement theology to politically delegitimize Israel. Bustros said, "The theme of the Promised Land cannot be used as a basis to justify the return of the Jews to Israel and the expatriation of the Palestinians."

Bustros is set to return to Lebanon soon to serve as the archbishop of Beirut. The fact that he used his position as the head of the Vatican's synod on the plight of Christians in the Middle East to earn him the protection of Hizbullah when he returns is made clear when his statements at the conference are compared to a speech he made in 2006, when he was still comfortably ensconced in the US.

As Spencer notes, in a speech Bustros made at St. Thomas University in Florida in 2006, Bustros minced no words about the plight of Christians in the Middle East. Addressing the Islamic precepts on relations with non-Muslims, Bustros said, "The doctrines of Islam dictate war against unbelievers....[T]he concept of nonviolence is absent from Muslim doctrine and practice....Peace in Islam is based on the surrender of all people to Islam and to God's power based on Islamic law. They have to defend this peace of God even by force."

FEAR OF Islamic massacres of Christians - like the one in Baghdad on Sunday - goes a long way towards explaining anti-Jewish and pro-Islamic pronouncements by Christian clergy in the Islamic world. But what can explain the West's embrace of lies about Islam?

Why would people who do not live under the jackboot of the likes of Hizbullah, Hamas or their sister groups in places like Iraq obsequiously parrot untruths about Islamic history and theology and deny the very existence of Islamic supremacism?

The most notable case of such behavior in recent weeks came with the UN Educational, Science and Cultural Organization's Executive Board's declarations about Israel and Jewish history. At its October 21 meeting, the governing board of the UN agency charged with naming and preserving world heritage sites engaged in a shocking episode of historic revisionism in the service of Islamic supremacism.

UNESCO's board issued five declarations regarding Israel. In addition to its routine condemnations of the security fence, Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem and Israel's refusal to give Hamas control over its border with Israel, UNESCO's board asserted that the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, where Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah are all buried, is a mosque. Rachel's Tomb, where Rachel is buried, is also a mosque, according to UNESCO's governing body.

It is not surprising that UNESCO's Muslim members pushed for these declarations. Islam is a supersessionist religion. It claims that all the Jewish patriarchs and matriarchs as well as all the Jewish prophets, kings and judges were Muslim. It similarly claims that Jesus, Mary and the apostles were Muslims. It is standard Islamic practice to transform Jewish and Christian holy sites in lands conquered by Islam into mosques.

It is this Islamic practice that led Yasser Arafat to shock and disgust Yitzhak Rabin in July 1995 when he proclaimed that, "Rachel was my grandmother."

Arafat's statement was the first time that a Muslim leader in modern times claimed Rachel's grave is a mosque. Arafat made his preposterous claim in the course of negotiations about the disposition of Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. Due to its significance to Jews, Israel demanded full security control over the tomb. Arafat based his counter-claim on standard Islamic historical revisionism.

While Rabin rejected Arafat's baseless assertion, last month UNESCO's executive committee, whose membership includes France, Belgium, Spain, Japan, Poland, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Italy, the US and India accepted Arafat's wholly false rendition of the historical record. In so doing, they collaborated with an Islamic attempt to eradicate Jewish history.

Why would they do this? They are not bishops who have to worry that their communities will be annihilated if they step out of line.

No doubt, fear of Islamic terrorism fuels some of their behavior. But fear can't be the full explanation. Most Westerners have no contact with Muslims. And Islamic terrorist attacks in the West are not a daily occurrence.

The West's newfound obsession with Islamophobia probably also has something to do with it. Western elites are terrified of being accused of racism. This is particularly true when - as is the case with Islamophobia - the charge is leveled on behalf of people who were oppressed in the past by Westerners.

But while fear of the charge of Islamophobia does play a role in Western kowtowing to Islamic supremacists, the West's aversion to the perception that it is oppressing those it once oppressed fails to provide an adequate explanation for its willingness to collaborate with Islamic supremacist attempts to blot out Jewish history. The West's history of oppressing Jews is far bloodier and longer than its record of oppressing Muslims.

In the end, there is only one credible explanation for the West's willingness to lie about the nature and goals of Islamic supremacism. There is only one credible explanation for the West's willingness to collaborate with Islamic supremacists as they purge the historical record of the Jewish roots of Western civilization. There is only one explanation for the West's willingness to accept the Islamic supremacist assertion that Israel is to blame for Islamic aggression against Jews and Christians alike.

But if I mention anti-Semitism, I will be attacked as a paranoid Jew.

Caroline Glick

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

Share It