Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Existential Threat from Iran

by Stuart Kaufman

Last week, I attended a symposium that clarified for me exactly why Iran is the single greatest existential threat to the United States and the free world today.

The symposium panel consisted not of some off-the-wall Cassandras, but rather of some the soberest most serious thinkers in the field of national security. Among them were:

I put these names up front to demonstrate that this is not just me trying to stir up the pot.

The reason why the danger is so clear and imminent is because of a confluence of two facts that make up the perfect storm:

1. The nature of the version of Shiite Islam to which the government of Iran adheres; and

2. a natural phenomenon called EMP (electromagnetic pulse).

I will deal with them one at a time.

1. The nature of the version of Shiite Islam to which the government of Iran adheres

The mullahs in Iran practice a particularly virulent brand of Shiite Islam. They believe in the return of 'the 12th Imam,' known as the Mahdi. The Mahdi can best be understood as the Shiite messiah. They believe that when the Mahdi returns he will usher in a 1000-year age of justice, and that the Mahdi will come in response to a condition of chaos and destruction. The added fillip to this is that they believe that they themselves can cause this to happen by creating the necessary chaos and destruction (remember, I am not arguing that this should make sense to you. The point is that it makes sense to them).

2. EMP (electromagnetic pulse)

EMP is a natural phenomenon created by the fact that electrons can be "shocked" into spinning out of control, interacting with other electrons. (Please continue reading. This is very simply presented and easily followed). Therefore, a single nuclear weapon exploded at high altitude above the United States will interact with the Earth's atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetic field to produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) radiating down which will "short-circuit" whatever electric grid it encounters. In simple terms, if a single nuclear bomb is detonated at the appropriate altitude above the mid west, it will DESTROY the entire electric grid of the US, thus cutting off the lifeblood of the US economy. Just to be clear, if this happens, the electricity system won't be capable of being turned back on. It will be finished. Think of it, no lights, no manufacturing, no banking system, no.... nothing - all will be destroyed! There is no way that the United States can survive such an attack as a functioning society.

Now, ask yourselves if you think that those who fall under factor #1 above (Mahdist Shiite Muslims), in order to create the conditions for the return of the Mahdi, would hesitate to resort to factor #2 above (creating an EMP by detonating a nuclear weapon)?

Remember, this is not me saying this. This is General McInerney, General Chrosniak, Reza Khalili, etc. who are saying this.

The US government accepts this as fact, but they don't make a big deal about it because they don't want to create a panic. They are also concerned that the Jon Stewarts and Stephen Colberts of the world will satirize it into oblivion (remember "Star Wars").

The possibility of weaponizing EMP is a problem that will be with us for a very long time, but at a relatively nominal cost we already have the technology to "harden" the electric grid of the United States. This (national security) is a function given by the Constitution to the Federal government, as opposed to (among other things) subsidizing public broadcasting or distributing cheese. We need to act now to put this protection in place.

The immediate, existential situation of Iran can and must be addressed immediately. Fortunately, the mullahs do not have the support of the people of Iran. Furthermore, the vast majority of the Iranian people (this according to the panelists at the symposium) are not Mahdists. If we had supported the revolt in Iran two years ago, we might very well have a friendly Iranian government in power now. It is not too late. There is an incipient revolutionary underway in Iran. We must help that revolution to occur.

There is so much more to say on this subject. For more information, I encourage you to go to:

EMPactAmerica is comprised of an extraordinary group of people. They are not asking for anything from you except your attention.

Please consider what you have just read, become aware of the seriousness of the peril in which we find ourselves, and let others know.

Stuart Kaufman


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

Abbas Gives the Finger to Obama

by Khaled Abu Toameh

By rejecting both of US President Barack Obama's requests -- to avoid a United Nations bid for Palestinian Statehood and to return to the negotiating table -- the Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, is now hoping to join the bandwagon of the few Arab and Muslim leaders who have dared to stand up to the Americans.

For many years, Abbas's Arab and Muslim enemies had condemned him as a "puppet" in the hands of the US.

But his decision to dump the US will certainly help him get rid of that image. Abbas is well aware of the fact that anti-American sentiments remain as high as ever in most of the Arab and Islamic countries. This was the reason he decided that it would be unwise of him to continue swimming against this tide.

By distancing himself from Washington, Abbas has moved closer toward the Arab world's anti-US camp, led by Iran and consisting of Hamas, Hizbullah and other radical groups.

It is no surprise, therefore, that some Hamas leaders have come out in support of Abbas's decision to spit in the face of the Obama administration. In a sign of improved relations between the two parties, Abbas's Fatah faction has now decided to resume unity talks with Hamas in the hope of forming a new government in the near future.

The campaign of incitement against Obama and the US will also whip up anti-American sentiments in the Arab world and could lead to endangering the lives of US citizens and troops in the Middle East.

For weeks, the Obama administration tried to persuade Abbas to abandon his plan to seek full membership in the UN for a Palestinian state, to no avail.

Even threats to cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority and veto the motion at the UN Security Council did not stop Abbas from going ahead with his statehood bid.

Nor did the hundreds of millions of dollars that were granted to Abbas's administration in the West Bank over the past few years help prevent the statehood plan.

Further, Abbas has not only turned his back on the Americans; he is now also whipping up anti-American sentiment among Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world.

The verbal assault on Obama and the US began long before Abbas submitted his application for statehood to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Speaking to journalists in Ramallah, top Abbas aides accused Obama of "surrendering to Zionist pressure" because of his repeated attempts to dissuade Abbas from embarking on a unilateral move at the UN.

The aides also accused Obama of being influenced by "Zionist and pro-Israel" advisors. One official in Ramallah even went as far as calling for a boycott of US envoy Dennis Ross under the pretext that he was "pro-Israel." Ross and another US envoy, David Hale, had both been dispatched to Ramallah to try to persuade Abbas to agree to the unconditional resumption of peace talks with Israel.

Since Abbas delivered his speech at the UN last week, the Palestinian Authority has stepped up its criticism of Obama and the US. On instructions from senior Palestinian officials, demonstrators took to the streets to chant anti-US slogans and burn portraits of Obama in scenes reminiscent of mass anti-American protests by supporters of Iran and Hizbullah.

Abbas and his aides are now hoping that the Arab and Islamic countries would compensate them for the loss of financial aid from the US, which has been giving the Palestinian Authority -- more than $450 million a year. The Palestinians believe that the Arab and Muslim leaders are so afraid of the "Arab Spring" that they will be forced to start funding the Palestinians.

The Saudis were the first to prove this theory correct. Last week, they informed the Palestinian Authority of their decision to channel $200 million in urgent aid to the Palestinians. It now remains to be seen if other countries will follow suit. If that happens, Obama can expect still another finger from Abbas.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Helping Islamists Take Syria

by Ryan Mauro

The U.S. is calling on Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to step down and is increasingly persuaded that the uprising against his rule will be victorious. As the world wonders who will replace the regime, an Islamist-dominated group called the Syrian National Council is being embraced by Turkey and the Obama administration State Department. Genuine secular forces, meanwhile, are being left to the wayside as they struggle to save their country from both Assad and the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has stated, “We have a desire to coordinate the position of the opposition.” With support from the Turkish government and a naïve U.S. State Department, it can achieve this objective. On September 15, opposition activists formed the Syrian National Council in Istanbul, the latest in a long list of umbrella groups to be formed since the uprising began.

Ammar Abdulhamid, a secular democratic activist based in the U.S., published a list of some of the members. Of the 71 named, 34 are Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood has not officially joined the alliance, but many members of it have. The composition of the Syrian National Council is frightening other opposition groups who do not want Syria to become the next Gaza Strip. A leader of the leftist Kurdish Party said, “Turkey supports the Islamists in Syria and puts them out front. These Syrian opposition meetings in Turkey prevent the creation of a democratic, pluralistic Syria in which the rights of the Kurds are constitutionally protected and they are recognized as the second largest ethnicity in the country.”

Shockingly, the U.S. State Department and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Hamas-tied front for the Muslim Brotherhood, are together supporting the Syrian National Council. On September 24, the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR held a townhall event featuring a member of the SNC and Frederic C. Hof from the State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy for the Middle East. This isn’t the first time the U.S. has supported the Islamist opposition in Syria. Files released by WikiLeaks show that the State Department funded the Movement for Justice and Development. The group split from the Muslim Brotherhood and was described in the files as “liberal, moderate Islamists” who sought to “marginalize” the Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, genuinely secular forces seeking to topple the Assad dictatorship are not embraced. European governments have urged these forces to unite in order to compete with the Islamists. On September 17, the Coalition of Secular and Democratic Syrians formed in Paris. “We are all against totalitarianism in any form, and that includes Islamist rule,” spokeswoman Randa Qassis declared.

Abdulhamid told FrontPage that real secular alternatives to the Syrian National Council exist and its influence is being exaggerated. “Opposition councils are now two dime a dozen, they have failed to bring unity or to form a working group worthy of the name. They have contributed to increasing schisms within the ranks of protest leaders inside the country,” he said.

The Reform Party of Syria, a U.S.-based secular opposition group, insists that the U.S. must reach out to the secularists to prevent the Islamists from taking control of the opposition. RPS estimates that only 20 percent of the Syrian population is Islamist. Dr. Barry Rubin, an opponent of democracy promotion, agrees, putting his estimate even lower at 15 percent. He feels the Islamists are unlikely to replace Assad. This is partially due to demographics. In Egypt, 90 percent of the population is Sunni Muslim. In Syria, it is 60 percent (the CIA Factbook puts it higher at 74 percent), with the rest being minorities who greatly fear Islamist rule. Many of the Syrian Sunnis are secular. For example, a Sunni cleric that supports the Coalition of Secular and Democratic Syrians insists that there must be separation of mosque and state.

The Assad regime has worked diligently to convince the West that it is the only alternative to Islamist rule in Syria. In 2006, the regime orchestrated riots in response to the Mohammed cartoons to make this point. It claims that the current uprising is an Islamist revolution led by terrorists. Protesters have rejected this accusation, chanting, “We want freedom, not Salafism.” Hanin Ghaddar of NOW Lebanon writes, “If that is accurate, why are they arresting liberal intellectuals and political activists, such as Suhair Atassi and Fayez Sarah? These two have nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalist groups.”

In this case, the enemy of my enemy is not my friend. Syrian dictator Bashar Assad is a ferocious enemy of the West with a huge amount of American blood on his hands. He is no friend, but neither are the Islamist elements who want to replace him with a Sharia state. If the U.S. fails to accurately distinguish ally from adversary, then the future of Syria belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ryan Mauro


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Palestinian Death Cult

by Giulio Meotti

Israeli families are not paid rewards by their government when their relatives are killed. Israeli soldiers do not use children as shields when they initiate a firefight with terrorists. Israeli schools and summer camps don’t brainwash pupils to undertake violence against civilians. Israeli religious figures do not laud children who engage in terror operations.

So what cause, no matter how deeply held, can motivate the current Palestinian society to sacrifice its generations, its future, to the most horrible form of childhood molestation and child sacrifice? The way in which the Palestinian Authority educates children and society is a key indicator of its true intentions.

Convincing ordinary individuals to sacrifice themselves to kill the Jews is not easy, it requires subhuman ideas and institutions. The logo of the “Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations” – on their website and on top of their official statements at the U.N. – shows the Palestinian Authority’s claim to a Palestine that stretches throughout the entire historical entity of the former Palestine mandate, which had nothing to do with those who call themselves Palestinians today and everything to do with a national homeland for the Jewish people..

Palestinian Media Watch also revealed that Mahmoud Abbas chose an icon of genocidal anti-Semitism, the mother of four terrorists, one of whom killed seven Israeli civilians and attempted to killed twelve others, as the person to launch the statehood campaign with the United Nations.

In a widely publicized event, Abbas had Latifa Abu Hmeid lead the procession to the UN offices in Ramallah and hand over a letter for the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon. It is a measure of how deeply the ethos of martyrdom has penetrated Abbas’ policy, hailed for its “moderation”.

For as long as the PA continues to foment violence and promote hatred, the number of youngsters willing to blow themselves up or to slit Israeli throats will unfortunately continue to mount. The Palestinian Authority is still a font of incitement, spewing forth a stream of Holocaust denial, racial slurs, anti-Jewish epithets and glorification of terrorists.

Palestinian leadership now seeks self-determination at the United Nations, but its daily policy shouts to the world that even after statehood, the fight must continue against the Jews.

The proof is the series of dormitories, schools, streets, sports arenas and events named after about 50 different Palestinian mass murderers. There is no precedent in the history of humanity for this god of martyrdom.

Palestinian apologists and their supporters over the past decade always dismissed the importance of incitement. But Palestinian glorification of terrorism bears no resemblance to other forms of terror violence because it praise both the dismemberment of individual Jews and the total annihilation of the Jewish State.

Today the act of murdering Jews is glorified as the very highest form of political engagement. The root of this dark sentiment lies in the Arab all- consuming hatred of “the Jews”.

Unlike terrorists in other parts of the world, the Palestinian movement aspires to immortality and their violence is always “sacred”. Last year the Palestinian Authority named a town square near Ramallah for Dalal Mughrabi, who in 1978 directed the hijacking of two buses on the coastal road between Haifa and Tel Aviv which led to the murder of 37 Israelis, including 13 children. The terrorists fired indiscriminately at vehicles, killed hostages on board the bus and threw their bodies onto the road.

In 2010, the Palestinian Authority sponsored a youth fencing tournament in Jericho named after Abu Jihad, who masterminded the 1978 massacre.

Mahmoud Abbas then eulogized Abu Dauod, the mastermind of the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Abbas also handpicked five female recipients for the highest medal of heroism. Among them Amana Mona, who lured 16-year-old Israeli Ofir Rahum via Internet chats to a cruel death. Without telling anyone, Ofir put on his best clothes and took the first bus he could. The girl came to pick him up in Jerusalem. The Israeli boy didn’t even realize when the car entered Ramallah. It is difficult to describe what the Palestinians did to him. He was Jewish, poor, naïve and innocent.

A Palestinian Authority government complex was then built on a Ramallah street that is named after arch-terrorist Yahye Ayash, dubbed “The Engineer”. Who is this person who is hailed as a moral example by the Palestinians?

One day in October 1994, in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Street, a bus full of poor devout Jews, Russians or Ethiopians became a smoking wreck dripping with blood, scattering gray matter on the windows of the homes nearby, leaving a hand lodged in the branches of a tree. Pieces of human flesh landed on terraces and in trees.

Two years later another Ayash’s suicide bomber blew himself up in a crosswalk outside the Dizengoff Center. On the asphalt were the remains of a baby stroller. The streets were covered with Jewish corpses, some of them on fire. In the air was the acrid odor of burned flesh and hair.

Generations of PA Arabs are taught to see these terrorist operations as a way to “open the door to Paradise” for themselves and their families. It’s the highest level of paradise, the one reserved for prophets and saints.

Signs on the walls of Palestinian kindergartens currently proclaim their students as “the shaheeds (martyrs) of tomorrow”. Elementary school principals commend their students for wanting to “tear their (Zionists’) bodies into little pieces and cause them more pain than they will ever know”.

Terrorism is sanctified throughout all the PA areas. The streets are plastered with posters glorifying the suicide bombers. Children trade “martyr cards” instead of Pokemon cards. Necklaces with pictures of terrorists are very popular.

A compelling reason that PA Arab parents encourage their children to get involved and killed is the financial incentive offered to families of martyrs. The PA furnishes a cash payment – $2,000 per child killed and $300 per child wounded.

Issa Karake, the Palestinian Minister of Prisoners’ Affairs, last April visited the family of Hamas suicide-bomb mastermind Abbas Al-Sayed, awarding them an official, festive plaque, in celebration of the Passover massacre in Netanya. A soccer tournament has also been named after this suicide bomber. In the Park Hotel there was an enormous pool of blood. The blood of 30 innocent Jews who had wanted to celebrate Passover together that night.

PA leaders are still fighting to expunge an entire people – the Jews – from the face of the Middle East. Call it Palestinian Apocalypse.

Giulio Meotti


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Kurdish-Christian Rivalries

by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi

Among analysts of the ongoing unrest in Syria, it is a truism that the main reason Christians are generally not participating in demonstrations against Assad's rule is because they fear reprisals at the hands of the Sunni Arab majority if the Alawite-dominated regime falls.

Alawites, who have incorporated Christian practices into their syncretic, Shi'a-rooted religion such as the celebration of Christmas and wearing of crosses, have always felt an affinity with Syrian Christians and have thus protected them since the establishment of the Baathist regime in 1963.

Less widely noticed, however, is the problem of tensions between the country's traditionally marginalized Kurdish minority and the Christians. Several aspects of the Kurdish-Christian animosities have recently been documented by Dutch journalist Wladimir Van Wilgenburg. Specifically, disclosures from the U.S. diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks reveal that Christians in the northeastern region of al-Jazirah consider the Kurds to be recent intruders, and fear that the Kurdish presence could lead to the formation of a Greater Kurdistan.

The cables in question date from March 2009, and partly touch on the subject of the fourth anniversary of the Kurdish uprising in Syria in 2005. The Christian community apparently blames the Kurds for causing damages to public property in excess of $2 million during the uprising, while not mentioning that the Syrian security forces opened fire on crowds of unarmed Kurds, who were fleeing riots incited by anti-Kurdish rhetoric.

The Christians of al-Jazirah have also claimed that mass-immigration of Kurds and high Kurdish birthrates have transformed al-Jazirah from an area with an historical 80-90% majority Christian population into one now dominated by Kurds with a 35% Christian minority.

Hence, Kurdish participation in the protests against Assad's rule has done nothing to allay Christian fears. The Syrian opposition, of course, suffers from problems of internal tensions, and during a recent opposition conference, Kurdish figures walked out in protest that most of the attendees wanted Syria to remain defined as an "Arab" country (as per the country's current official name, "Syrian Arab Republic").

Such a development no doubt suggests to the Christians that, if the Kurds are not striving to incorporate parts of Syria into the Greater Kurdistan, they might at least be aiming for an autonomous region similar to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Yet it is surely the example of Kurdish autonomy in Iraq's north that partly underlies the anxiety of Syrian Christians over how Kurds might behave post-Assad. Since gaining autonomy in 1991 after the First Gulf War, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has engaged in an active campaign of discrimination and cultural imperialism against the Assyrian Christians (as well as other non-Kurdish minorities like the Yezidis and Shabaks, who are not recognized as separate ethnic groups in the KRG Constitution), a problem that has only intensified since the American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Most notably, Peshmerga militias have routinely confiscated Assyrian land, and in October 2002, a resolution was passed by the KRG to legalize such thefts by Peshmerga militiamen. In addition, the Iraqi Kurds have attempted to marginalize the legitimate representative of the Assyrian people in Iraq: namely, the Assyrian Democratic Movement. As Assyrian scholar Peter BetBasoo points out, during the 2005 general elections in Iraq, Kurdish authorities tasked with delivering ballot boxes to Assyrian districts in the north failed to do so as part of an attempt to block them from voting, while Assyrian election workers were fired on and killed.

Indeed, as a 2007 report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom notes:

"KRG officials were also reported to have used public works projects to divert water and other vital resources from Chaldo-Assyrian to Kurdish communities…leading to mass exodus, which was later followed by the seizure and conversion of abandoned Chaldo-Assyrian property by the local Kurdish population."

Meanwhile, as part of its cultural imperialism, the KRG promotes pseudo-history in the same way Palestinian media have denied historical Jewish connections to the land of Israel. In particular, the KRG falsely portrays the Kurds as the true indigenous inhabitants of northern Mesopotamia and southern Anatolia. For example, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan- one of two parties in the ruling KRG coalition- recently reaffirmed the claim to oil-rich Kirkuk as a Kurdish city that was supposedly founded by Kurds.

In reality, Kirkuk's foundations date back to 4000 B.C., well before the arrival of the Kurds in northern Iraq in the twelfth century CE. In Old Assyrian it is called Arraphkha, and is one of the four cities that originally formed the Assyrian heartland.

It is therefore no surprise that many Syrian Christians are deeply suspicious of local Kurdish aspirations. Pundits frequently (and rightly) complain of the maltreatment of minorities by those who identify as Arab Muslims. Nonetheless, it is also evident that appreciation of tolerance and diversity is a virtue yet to be learned by Kurds at large. The sooner the KRG is pressured to reverse its discrimination against minorities, the better for future Kurdish-Christian relations, both in Iraq and the wider region.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University and an intern at the Middle East Forum.

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Putin's Reset

by Frank Gaffney, Jr.

To the uninitiated, Vladimir Putin has seemingly just undertaken what President Obama might call a "reset" of the Russian political landscape. In fact, the prime minister's announcement Saturday that he would swap offices with the current president, Dmitry Medvedev, just clarifies an abiding reality: There is not, and since at least 2000 never has been, any power center in Moscow other than Putin, the former KGB operative-turned-authoritarian kleptocrat.

The real question is whether that revelation will make it impossible for the Obama administration to persist in its delusion that a conciliatory U.S. policy towards Russia will encourage the Kremlin to moderate its repression at home and its aggressiveness abroad?

To date, this American reset with Russia has certainly done nothing to ameliorate the plight of journalists, human rights attorneys and activists, independent businessmen and other opposition figures who have become, under the de facto Putin regime, literally endangered species. Neither has it dissuaded the Kremlin from: using energy weapons to force what Putin calls "the near abroad" and even Europe to submit to his demands; selling vast quantities of advanced arms to the world's most dangerous regimes; meddling in the Middle East, Central Asia, Latin America, Europe and anywhere else that the Kremlin's influence can be expanded at the United States' expense; and exploiting U.S. dependence on Russia for everything from access to Afghanistan to access for our astronauts to the space station.

In particular, Obama's reset with Putin's Russia has failed to diminish the Kremlin's continuing commitment to the modernization of its arsenal of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. While the former has shrunk with the retirement of Soviet-era long-range missiles andsubmarines, what remains is being systematically upgraded with modern warheads and platforms. As my Center for Security Policy colleague, Ben Lerner, observes in a forthcoming white paper on the misbegotten New START Treaty, U.S. negotiators ignored this reality and gave away the store in the hope of persuading Moscow to join in the President's fantasy of "ridding the world of nuclear weapons."

Notably, Team Obama gave up on long-range missile defenses of Europe and the United States based in Poland and the Czech Republic to appease Moscow. His representatives reportedly approved language the Russians drafted giving them what amounts to a veto over future "quantitative or qualitative improvements" to U.S. anti-missile systems.

Obama and Company also agreed to terms in New START that forced us to dismantle strategic weapons, but not the Russians. Worse yet, the Kremlin got to keep its entire, vast arsenal of shorter-range, relatively low-yield "tactical" arms. By some estimates, they enjoy a 10-to-1 advantage in such weapons.

Even more ominous is the fact that some of those weapons are believed to be aboard cruise missile-armed submarines known to operate within striking distance of our coasts. And like Russia's strategic forces, these tactical weapons are being upgraded - in some cases with advanced technologies whose military effects, and therefore lethality, are not fullyunderstood by our weapons designers.

In the course of what passed for the Senate ratification debate on New START during the lame duck session late last year, administration spokesmen blithely assured skeptics that the next treaty with Moscow would capture tactical weapons and otherwise correct the myriad deficiencies of the 2010 accord.

On the basis of such dubious promises, Senator Lamar Alexander and a handful of other Republicans joined all Senate Democrats to provide the necessary two-thirds majority. Sen. Alexander evidently enjoyed so much the favorable press and other accolades he achieved for breaking ranks with the rest of the GOP leadership that he has just announced that he will give up his post as chairman of theSenate Republican Policy Committee - presumably in the interest of having more latitude to engage in such defections in the future.

As with other Obama delusions, there has never been any basis for believing the Russians would give up weapons that they assert could be used to shape and prevail in tomorrow's battles. Even if, against all odds, the Kremlin were to agree to curbs on tactical nuclear weapons, their relatively small size and ease of portability means that any such limitations would be inherently unverifiable.

No worries. According to the Washington Times' invaluable "Inside the Ring" column, the administration will not be dissuaded from its goal of ridding at least America of its nuclear arms by Vladimir Putin's continuing recalcitrance or other obstacles. Columnist Bill Gertz reports that Gary Samore, the top arms control guru on President Obama's National Security Council, "noted that if there is no agreement or treaty, ‘even unilateral' cuts are being considered."

In other words, despite the fact that Russia's once-and-future president is not going along - and, for that matter, neither is any other nuclear weapon state, the Obama administration blithely plans to reset America's deterrent. Gone will be the time-tested strategic Triad of intercontinental-range bombers and land- and sea-based missiles. If we are lucky, we will be left with a far-less-resilient "Dyad" equipped with obsolescing, untested weapons. Never mind that the world is becoming more dangerous by the day; a new study dubbed a mini-Nuclear Posture Review has been ordered up to justify such unilateral disarmament.

With the successive budget cuts eviscerating our conventional forces, it is not clear how much of a fight the military leadership will put up to preserve weapons that may be the ultimate guarantor of our security but that some deem unusable. Expect no complaints from Vladimir Putin and his friends. This is just the sort of reset - read, self-inflicted American wound - that he relishes most.

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


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When Muslims Are More 'Radical' than 'Islamists'

by Raymond Ibrahim

What are the differences between the traditional Muslim and the so-called "Islamist"? As words dealing with Islam continue to morph and multiply, it is important to differentiate, for there are real, if subtle, differences.

A recent Arabic talk show on Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak's trial sheds some light. The question was whether Mubarak, in the sight of Sharia law, should stand trial and be punished for, among other things, selling gas cheaply to Israel—or, as popularly portrayed, traitorously giving away Egypt's precious resources to its mortal enemy.

Two Islam authorities debated. Taking the controversial position—that Mubarak should not be condemned—was Sheikh Mahmoud Amer, leader of Ansar al-Sunna, or, those who imitate prophet Muhammad's way of living, which, of course, is what traditional Muslims—literally, Sunnis—have always done. His opponent, arguing that Mubarak deserves to be tried without mercy, was famous Islamist lawyer Montaser al-Zayyat (who most recently professed his "love" for Osama bin Laden).

Sheikh Amer, representing traditional Islam, stressed two points to exonerate Mubarak: 1) Dealing with the enemy (in this case, Israel) is permissible according to Sharia; Muhammad himself often appeased his infidel enemies, including Jews, when to his advantage, "for"—as the Sheikh quoted Muhammad—"war is deceit"; 2) According to Sharia, the only justification for deposing a ruler is if he becomes an infidel; if he is unjust, violent, and tyrannical to his Muslim subjects, that is not reason enough.

In fact, the Sheikh's position is very much in keeping with Sharia: Muslims—particularly their political leaders—are permitted to deceive and dupe non-Muslims, including by playing the role of appeaser, when circumstances call for it; moreover, even Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri admits that Islam's jurists are "unanimously agreed" that "it is forbidden to overthrow" Muslim rulers, even if they are "cruel and despotic," whereas "it is obligatory to wage jihad against" rulers found to be "apostate infidels" (The Al Qaeda Reader, pgs. 121-122, 129).

It's interesting to note, then, how "Islamists," such as Zayyat, who appear tenacious of upholding Sharia, sometimes advocate positions that actually contradict it. To understand this phenomenon, one must first understand "Islamism"—a hybrid abomination of sorts, whereby the better principles of Western civilization are absorbed and rearticulated within a distinctly Muslim paradigm. For instance, the Western stress on human freedom, human dignity, and universal justice, is, for Islamists, transformed into a stress on Muslim freedom, Muslim dignity, and Muslim justice—all, naturally, at the sake of the infidel.

So while the Islamist maintains traditional hostility for infidels, he may exhibit a Western sense of "humanitarianism" to fellow Muslims, evoking things like their "human worth" and "dignity." Zayyat, for instance, repeatedly accused Mubarak of "robbing the people," "betraying the people," "torturing the nation's sons," "denying sons from their mothers and fathers"—language as alien to the traditional Muslim mentality as it is familiar to the Western. Similarly, Islamists influenced by the Western notion of "nationalism" tend to Westernize Islam's notion of Umma, as when Zayyat talked sentimentally about how "the Umma has a right" over Mubarak.

As Sheikh Amer indicated, however, traditional Islam—born of the deserts of 7th century Arabia, and so, ever pragmatic—makes clear that the authority, the sultan, can be as ruthless as necessary with Muslims—Western concepts of fairness and equality be damned. Moreover, the nationalist element evoked by Zayyat is non-existent in Islam proper: Umma originally meant "community" (and in Koran 6:38 is even used to describe communities of animals).

These discrepancies were summed up towards the end of the show, when the traditional Sheikh exclaimed: "I say to Mr. Montaser al-Zayyat that you will be asked on Judgment Day about these claims you're making—that he [Mubarak] took money and was a Zionist traitor. I am here telling you what the prophet said and what the prophet did [that it is permissible to deceive the enemy and that the ruler is above censure], and here you're talking nonsense?!"

Lest it appear that Islamists are more "humane" than traditionalists, it should be kept in mind that the other—the non-Muslim—is viewed by both groups as the infidel enemy. In fact, whatever subtle differences may exist, the similarities between the Islamist and Muslim are many. Thus, while the traditional Sheikh and the Islamist argued over Mubarak's fate, there was never disagreement over two points—enmity for Israel and Jews, and the permissibility of using deceit to undermine them.

Raymond Ibrahim, an Islam specialist and author of The Al Qaeda Reader, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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Is Turkey Going Rogue?

by Daniel Pipes

In a Middle East wracked by coups d'état and civil insurrections, the Republic of Turkey credibly offers itself as a model thanks to its impressive economic growth, democratic system, political control of the military, and secular order.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan effectively bought the June 2011 elections by pumping credit into the Turkish economy.

But, in reality, Turkey may be, along with Iran, the most dangerous state of the region. Count the reasons:

Islamists without brakes: When four out of five of the Turkish chiefs of staff abruptly resigned on July 29, 2011, they signaled the effective end of the republic founded in 1923 by Kemal Atatürk. A second republic headed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Islamist colleagues of the AK Party began that day. The military safely under their control, AKP ideologues now enjoy can pursue their ambitions to create an Islamic order.

An even worse opposition: Ironically, secular Turks tend to be more anti-Western than the AKP. The two other parties in parliament, the CHP and MHP, condemn the AKP's more enlightened policies, such as its approach to Syria and its stationing a NATO radar system.

Looming economic collapse: Turkey faces a credit crunch, one largely ignored in light of crises in Greece and elsewhere. As analyst David Goldman points out, Erdoğan and the AKP took the country on a financial binge: bank credit ballooned while the current account deficit soared, reaching unsustainable levels. The party's patronage machine borrowed massive amounts of short-term debt to finance a consumption bubble that effectively bought it the June 2011 elections. Goldman calls Erdoğan a "Third World strongman" and compares Turkey today with Mexico in 1994 or Argentina in 2000, "where a brief boom financed by short-term foreign capital flows led to currency devaluation and a deep economic slump."

Sending the Mavi Marmara to Gaza amounted to an intentional provocation.

Escalating Kurdish problems: Some 15-20 percent of Turkey's citizens identify as Kurds, a distinct historical people; although many Kurds are integrated, a separatist revolt against Ankara that began in 1984 has recently reached a new crescendo with a more assertive political leadership and more aggressive guerrilla attacks.

Looking for a fight with Israel: In the tradition of Gamal Abdel Nasser and Saddam Hussein, the Turkish prime minister deploys anti-Zionist rhetoric to make himself an Arab political star. One shudders to think where, thrilled by this adulation, he may end up. After Ankara backed a protest ship to Gaza in May 2010, the Mavi Marmara, whose aggression led Israeli forces to kill eight Turkish citizens plus an ethnic Turk, it has relentlessly exploited this incident to stoke domestic fury against the Jewish state. Erdoğan has called the deaths a casus belli, speaks of a war with Israel "if necessary," and plans to send another ship to Gaza, this time with a Turkish military escort.

Stimulating an anti-Turkish faction: Turkish hostility has renewed Israel's historically warm relations with the Kurds and turned around its cool relations with Greece, Cyprus, and even Armenia. Beyond cooperation locally, this grouping will make life difficult for the Turks in Washington.

Asserting rights over Mediterranean energy reserves: Companies operating out of Israel discovered potentially immense gas and oil reserves in the Leviathan and other fields located between Israel, Lebanon, and Cyprus. When the government of Cyprus announced its plans to drill, Erdoğan responded with threats to send Turkish "frigates, gunboats and … air force." This dispute, just in its infancy, contains the potential elements of a huge crisis. Already, Moscow has sent submarines in solidarity with Cyprus.

The Leviathan gas field is the largest of several found recently between Cyprus and Israel.

Other international problems: Ankara threatens to freeze relations with the European Union in July 2012, when Cyprus assumes the rotating presidency. Turkish forces have seized a Syrian arms ship. Turkish threats to invade northern Iraq have worsened relations with Baghdad. Turkish and Iranian regimes may share an Islamist outlook and an anti-Kurd agenda, with prospering trade relations, but their historic rivalry, contrary governing styles, and competing ambitions have soured relations.

While Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu crows that Turkey is ""right at the center of everything," AKP bellicosity has soured his vaunted "zero-problems" with neighbors policy, turning this into a wide-ranging hostility and even potential military confrontations (with Syria, Cyprus, and Israel). As economic troubles hit, a once-exemplary member of NATO may go further off track; watch for signs of Erdoğan emulating his Venezuelan friend, Hugo Chávez.

That's why, along with Iranian nuclear weapons, I see a rogue Turkey as the region's greatest threat.

Daniel Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution of Stanford University. © 2011 by Daniel Pipes.


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Monday, September 26, 2011

Truth about "Palestinian" History

by encounterbooks



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

Multiculturalism and Religiously-Sanctioned Rape

by Pieder Beeli

Ethnically diverse manifestations of behavioral excellence are rightly to be celebrated. However Multiculturalism's moral anarchy beckons a more circumspect examination. Naively concluding that all religions -- including atheism masqueraded as secularism -- are good, may invoke the blissful release of endorphins into the brain. Nonetheless we will show that such Pollyanish thoughts are an acid to our humanity.

The Multiculturalist Dehumanization Agenda

It is a cultural universal to humanize our children by invoking stories, like Hansel and Gretel or Snow White, which involve a contrast between good and evil. Although it is psychologically taxing for a child to imagine an evil witch, such descriptions of evil are used as moral medicine. Name the culture and one can find an analogous popular narrative where redemption is couched in a battle involving a virtuous protagonist facing an evil oppressor.

The more evil and powerful the oppressor, the more it is possible to showcase greatness of character. To be polite in polite company is one thing, to have poise and evidence moral beauty in a context of significant oppression is another.

As children see moral strength they can be inspired to be courageous in their circumstances and to achieve greatness. This moral inspiration is foundational to the time-honored process of humanization. Children are humanized by being exposed to dramas where, even if the good guy gets killed by the villain, good nonetheless conquers evil. Good is inherently superior to evil.

The towering superiority of good over evil compels us to distinguish between good and evil. But in order to distinguish between good and evil, we must have the intellectual freedom to identify evil.

The appeal of multiculturalism then, is as a self-medication of endorphins to relieve us from ailments such as white guilt, "hubristic" notions of cultural superiority, or what Jack Wheeler calls, fear of the evil eye. But seen in the light of our humanization discussion above, multiculturalism is the antithesis of humanization.

Whereas humanization requires the entertainment of evil, multiculturalism requires the denial of evil. Whereas a good parent raises all his children to be moral philosophers, a multiculturalist raises all his children to be morally blind.

Yet the "grown up" multiculturalist man-child is worse than morally blind: He labors to stifle, prohibit and punish moral acumen.

An Example of Multiculturalist Dehumanization Program: The Islamic Rape Sanction

How do we use multiculturalistic counseling to help a rape victim? Of course just denying Islam's sanction to rape non-Muslim women (e.g., Koran 4:3, inter alia) -- even if they are married -- serves to legitimize Islam. Denying Islam's rape sanction also is uncompassionate toward the victims of this Islamic policy. Witness that all 83 of the rape cases in Oslo in 2010 -- where the victim could identify the perpetrator -- were committed by Muslims.

Examples of Multiculturalism's Tendentious Epistemology

In his "Call to Renewal" speech made in 2006, Senator Barack Hussein Obama said,

"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values."

Of course democracy makes no such demands. There is no secularism or religious neutrality. Never mind that atheism is unable to support "Nature and Nature's God," or humankind's beloved "inalienable rights." There is however the ugly political and psychological fruit of atheism. Is that what we want?

But despite Barry Soetero's high minded rhetoric of subjecting religions to scrutiny by even-handed universal principles, when the context is Christianity, Obama -- in the same speech no less -- warns against "sectarianism," supports "secularism" (really, atheism) and naturally gravitates to mocking the Bible. However when the context is Islam, Obama becomes filled with awe and embraces this sectarianism as much as is politically possible (e.g., 911 Ground Zero Conquest Mosque, or the more than 10,000 outreach documents detailing the cozy relationship between Obama and Muslim Brotherhood groups). Following the edict of Koran 9:5, and the example of Mohammad, the Umma kills daily. But rest assured this detail does not give Barack Hussein Obama pause to call repeatedly the Koran, "the holy Koran."

Perhaps the most emphatic statement made over two dozen times by our president is "[The US is not, and will never be,] at war with Islam." From the words and actions of this multiculturalist, one does not get the sense that this statement is the result of subjecting Islam to moral scrutiny. Rather such a statement is a mere reflection of multiculturalist assumptions. (Where is Joe Wilson when we need him to shout out at Obama, "But what if Islam is at war with us?"?)

Providing a meaningful moral evaluation of Islam is not good multiculturalist etiquette. Multiculturalist etiquette further denies the most meaningful metrics of Islam: the Koran, the example of Mohammad, the four historic schools of Sunni jurisprudence and demographics correlating evil behavior and beliefs with Islamic piety and zeal. Instead, in order to "evaluate" Islam, multiculturalists cherry pick taquiyya, cite Meccan and/or early Median abrogated suras (e.g., Koran 2:252), throw in a few tears from Keith Ellison and recall their friendly non-fundamentalist Muslim acquaintance.

As Mosab Hassan Yousef notes, the nominal Muslims -- the half-hearted Muslims who integrate well with Western society, but embody a tepid or superficial commitment to Islam -- provide Islam with moral cover. These nominal Muslims and multiculturalists fog the West's spectacles so that the West cannot identify the enemy in this ludicrously labeled "War Against Man Caused Disasters" (Obama) or "War on Terrorism" (Bush). Even those on the right identify this ideology of terror by "Islamism," "political Islam" or "Islamic jihadism." But such characterizations also suffer from multiculturalist infection: It is the Koran of Islam -- and not the Koran of Islamism or of political Islam or of Islamic jihad -- which serves as the ideological fountainhead for nearly all of today's terrorism.

Example of Multiculturalism's Savaging of the Victim of Islamic Rape

Feminism is great for fomenting hatred against natural law -- the real criterion for cultural superiority -- and hence for undermining the foundation for our precious inalienable rights. But feminism and her multiculturalist mother have only guilt and some dissonant endorphins to offer the Western woman rape victim of Islam.

Multiculturalism and her feminist offspring deny the Western woman raped by an Islamic perpetrator her rightful sense of injury. What is arguably worse than rape is the de-legitimization of the rape victim's sense of violation and ability to forthrightly declare as "evil" an ideology that sanctions rape. Multiculturalism forbids the moral healing from the wound of rape. While in the abstract feminism can admit to the renouncing of rape, such spineless generalizations do not require courage. In the face of Islam's sanction of rape, the kin of multiculturalism are deafeningly silent. When the ideology behind the rape is Islam, multiculturalism's adjudication obsequiously grants the perpetrator invisibility and immunity.

Multiculturalism's commitment to granting unscrupulously moral legitimacy to evil ideologies forbids multiculturalism's compassion to the victims of such groups.

Perhaps feminism's gravest fear is that a systematic evaluation of woman's rights and/or women's happiness might reveal that the most satisfied women are mothers in traditional Western married households where the woman is not a significant wage earner.

Multiculturalism's Dehumanization

Rejecting multiculturalism does not mean that one is denied the benefits of endorphins. We get those endorphins by forgiving others. But in order to forgive, we must recognize the wrong done. Trying to get those endorphins on the cheap, multiculturalism replaces forgiveness with permissiveness.

Multiculturalism's inability to see non-indigenous evil means that she is unable to engage in objective moral evaluation. Multiculturalism is the idiot at the table of morality.

But multiculturalism is not just an inhibitor of healing and a facilitator of evil; multiculturalism is itself an evil. By denying objective evil or disempowering our capacity as moral philosophers, multiculturalism attempts to deny us the legitimacy of our own humanization.

Today's wicked witches are not some long-nose women with warts on their faces, but "educated" -- often Ivy-league -- multiculturalists. These empty suits deny the moral foundation of Hansel and Gretal. For these multiculturalists, 270 million murders in the name of Islam are not enough to bring the multiculturalist to his moral senses.

Dr. Pieder Beeli's (Ph.D., Physics) is a homeschooling father. He founded the Facebook groups: "No 501(c)3 Status for Islam ," "Pro-homosexual Anti-homosexuality" and "The Audacity of Fraud: America's First Photoshop President"

Pieder Beeli


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

The True Story of Moderate Islam

by Robert Small

Ten years after 9/11, our government and most of the media understand as little about Islam as they did before the attack that shook the world. It's clear from the partners they've chosen that "moderate" has been defined as any Muslim group or individual perceived as being remotely helpful in keeping us safe from terrorism.

So eager to start a fresh chapter in U.S.-Muslim relations, they firmly clasped the first Muslim hands extended and forged partnerships out of convenience and fear. What they should have done is seek out partners who believe in our conviction that a nation can be united under God without being governed by a national church or mosque.

Our hastily defined moderates were granted a national stage to correct our perceptions of not only Islam but also ourselves. So they told us tales about Muslim scientific and cultural achievements that surpassed the West during the Middle Ages, how they were first to liberate and empower women, and how Islam is a religion of peace with just a few bad apples. They also told us that to defeat terrorism we must defeat our own "Islamophobia."

To help, they proposed to build a hulking 13-story monument to tolerance two blocks from where the Twin Towers had stood. The mayor of New York City, the state's governor, the country's liberals, and the national media were all convinced this was a splendid idea, and its key sponsor was made a State Department Emissary to the Arab world. It was called Cordoba House, until some "Islamophobe" somewhere bothered to open an encyclopedia and discover that Cordoba was a city in Spain conquered in the year 711 by Muslims who built a mosque from the ruins of a Christian church. Millions of us had already assigned it the more American name "Ground Zero Mosque" and started questioning the background of its sponsors. Mysteriously, donations started drying up and the size and scope of the project was necessarily scaled back, but tolerance prevailed and ground will soon be broken on the less memorably named Park 51.

Sadly, our partners warned, such public resistance to what should have been a global symbol of healing only served to prove we hadn't learned the lesson from 9/11. What they've always been careful to hide is that they aren't moderate at all. To find a true moderate Muslim, you have to know the full story of modern Islam.

It begins in 1925 (seven years before the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was established), when Saudi Wahhabis conquered Mecca and Medina from a rival clan that held those sites for 700 years. They quickly established what remains the official branch of Islam in the kingdom: Wahhabism. Marked by intolerance of all other religions and most other branches of Islam, it's a supremacist ideology couched within an "end justifies the means" movement called Salafism. Salafists, like the late Osama bin Laden, support violent jihad to establish a worldwide Caliphate (Islamic State) governed by Sha'ria (Islamic Law). If Wahhabism represents the political arm of the Islamist movement, Salafism is its army.

The gate to Islam's holiest sites was then literally closed to moderate Islam, especially when it came to a kinder, more mystical understanding of the Holy Qu'ran called Sufism. Sufi leaders in Indonesia at the time sent a delegation to appeal to the Saudi rulers to reconsider and the Saudis refused. In response, they took what was perhaps the first stand against extremism by founding the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in 1926.

The NU remains the largest independent Islamic organization in the world, and Sufis have remained concentrated in Indonesia since, peacefully co-existing alongside other world religions while defending their society from encroaching Wahhabi extremists. And the NU isn't a small minority of Muslims; its membership is close to 50 million -- about double the entire population of Saudi Arabia. In fact, Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country with 306 million of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims.

May marked a new chapter when the NU sent a delegation to Washington, D.C. It was led by Kyai Haji A. Mustofa Bisri, deputy chairman of NU's Supreme Council. His first stop was the Heritage Foundation, where he spoke of the difference between moderate Muslims who seek spiritual truth and extremists who seek to build a global Islamic State.

Quoting his lifelong friend, longtime president of the NU and 4th President of Indonesia Kyai Haji Abdurrahman Wahid, Bisri said, "The true Islamic state is not to be found in the structure of any government, but rather, in hearts which are open to God and all His creatures." Bisri came bearing the first English translation of The Illusion of an Islamic State, a book he hopes will help us better understand our common enemy and how extremism infiltrates a culture.

Accompanying him and serving as interpreter was American C. Holland Taylor, chairman and CEO of LibforAll Foundation. LibforAll is an international organization co-founded by President Wahid and Taylor in 2003 that supports moderate and progressive Muslims and published The Illusion of an Islamic State.

Bisri explained that the dire threat to Muslims comes not from the West but from the struggle, both physical and ideological, within Islam itself. His take on Islamophobia is quite different from that of the Muslim partners we've come to know. He views it as a natural outgrowth of Muslim violence and believes the way to counter Islamophobia is for Muslims to change and improve their own understanding of Islam to eliminate the ideology of hatred, supremacy, and violence so many of them embrace.

Wahhabi ideology is so hard to fight, he said, because it "isn't 100% wrong, but is wrong in key essentials" in its understanding of the Qur'an. And the Wahhabi belief that anyone who disagrees with its opinions is 100% wrong is a "fundamentally flawed and erroneous" way of looking at life.

Bisri and two other highly revered Muslim scholars authored theological rebuttals of extremist arguments that they hope will change the hearts and minds of those being tempted into violence. In this aim, Illusion is being translated into Arabic and other languages and made available for download in places where merchants are pressured not to carry it.

The book's persuasive impact was credited with thwarting Wahhabi efforts to influence Indonesia's 2009 presidential election, but its impact beyond Indonesia remains to be seen. Secretary of State Clinton already acknowledged on her first official visit there in 2009 that the country is a hotbed of moderation, stating, "If you want to know whether Islam, democracy, modernity and women's rights can co-exist, go to Indonesia." President Obama, who spent four years there as a boy, certainly knows Indonesia as well, but they were too busy formalizing ties with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to personally meet with Bisri and accept a copy of his book. (Incidentally, Saudi Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood are sympathetic partners with a history of cooperation.)

The NU/LibforAll delegation got no further than Obama's security advisors and special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a kind of 57-country Muslim United Nations focused on replacing Israel with Palestine, spreading Shariah, and using its Islamophobia Observatory to monitor the "worrying trend" of anti-Muslim bias worldwide.

As Nina Shea of National Review Online reported in July:

"...the administration is taking the lead in an international effort to 'implement' a U.N. resolution against religious 'stereotyping,' specifically as applied to Islam. Many OIC members, including Saudi Arabia, police private speech through Islamic blasphemy laws, which the OIC would like to see applied universally and has succeeded in Western Europe, which has laws against religious hate speech."

Though a member country, "Indonesia and the NU have little influence in the OIC" according to Taylor. In fact, President Wahid (who passed away in 2009) addressed the dangers and ultimate folly of blasphemy laws in his article God Needs No Defense:

"Those who claim to defend God, Islam or the Prophet are thus either deluding themselves, or manipulating religion for their own mundane and political purposes...sanctions against freedom of religious inquiry and expression act to halt the developmental process of religious understanding dead in its tracks...We can see this process at work in attempts by the OIC, the United Nations General Assembly and the UN Council on Human Rights to restrict freedom of expression and institute a legally-binding global ban on any perceived criticism of Islam...'"

The NU's position is that restoring tolerance at Islam's two holiest sites is critical to the future of Islam and humanity, and that America's "entrenchment" with the Saudi government is an obstacle where it could be a force for change. According to Taylor, this means "instead of uncritically supporting the Saudis, the U.S. should encourage and pressure them to allow all streams of Islam to worship and teach freely in those cities."

That would surely test relations with our biggest Muslim partner, but it may also be the only way to show we've finally learned a lesson from 9/11.

Thanks to the efforts of Bisri and LibforAll, we now have the full story of modern Islam.

Bisri's message from the NU was "we will do everything that is within our ability, and will work with everyone who loves humanity and loves peace. Whatever may come...we will do everything we can to overthrow this threat to humanity."

Maybe it's time we embrace a new partner.

Robert Small

The author extends a warm thanks and appreciation to Holland Taylor for his kind help in expanding on the views of Mr. Bisri and the NU as they relate to this article.


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

Indonesian Islam and Nahdlatul Ulama without Camouflage

by Andrew Bostom

Robert Small's AT essay on the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Indonesian Islam reads more like a "Just So Story" than a "True Story."

As per article 2 of the founding NU Statutes of 1926, the goal of this association was:

To uphold one of the schools of (Islamic) law of the four Imams Imam Muhammad bin Idris As-Shafi, Imam Malik bin Anas, Imam Abu Hanifa or Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal -- and to do everything beneficial to Islam.

A 1952 "update" of these founding principles reiterated these goals:

To uphold the law of Islam, in accordance with one of the four schools of law: Shafii, Maliki, Hanafi, and Hanbali[.]

To bring about the application of the precepts of Islam in society[.]

The contemporary Netherlands scholar of Indonesian Islam, J. Boland, in his 1971 "The Struggle of Islam in Modern Indonesia," aptly summarized the implications of the NU's founding principles, adding the NU's own self-characterization:

Over against the modernists (ahli bidah), they (i.e., the NU) liked to call themselves the ahli sunnah wal djamaah, that is, the people who keep to the sunna (usage) of the Prophet, in community with the one great umma or djamaa, in short the orthodox...[A]ccording to article 1 of the by-laws of the NU, membership was dependent on the recognition of the authority of one of the four schools of law. This meant that the reformists or modernists who advocated a return to the Qur'an and Tradition in order to study these sources in an independent way (the so-called "new idjtihad") could strictly speaking not become members of the NU.

Indeed, the NU played a major role in the religious incitement of the mass killings of at least 100,000 non-Muslim ethnic Chinese -- all of whom were deliberately conflated with Communist insurgents during the mid-1960s. The NU and their "youth movement" ANSOR (from the Arabic al-ansar, the Medinan helpers of the Muslim prophet Muhammad) were in the forefront of these violent actions to exterminate the "Communists." Such orthodox Islamic religious incitement was epitomized by the issuance of an authoritative fatwa in November 1965 sanctioning an annihilationist jihad as "A RELIGIOUS DUTY (caps in original)," explaining:

This religious duty is not only recommended, but obligatory, even an individual obligation...And because this action and this struggle must be carried out by consolidating all our strength -- mental, physical, and material -- therefore this action and this struggle are nothing less than a HOLY WAR (JIHAD) [caps in original]. This Holy War, according to religious law, is not (only) recommended, but obligator[y].

Events of the intervening decades, since 1965, which included a period of direct governance of Indonesia by Robert Small's much ballyhooed Abdurrahman Wahid, provide no evidence that he, or the NU, was a successful "moderating" influence:

  • During the 1980s, a frankly genocidal jihad was waged by the Indonesian government against the Christians of East Timor, leaving hundreds of thousands dead. Moreover, for at least the past decade, there have been intermittent Indonesian jihadist pogroms, which have also killed thousands, against the Christians of the Moluccas.

  • The Indonesian government released the jihadist leader Bashir after a trivial sentence despite his role in the Bali bombings. This popular Muslim thug wants Indonesia to become, officially, a theocratic "Allah-cracy." Moreover, during a state-sanctioned visit to Indonesia, Iranian President Ahmadinejad was welcomed by throngs of adoring Muslim Indonesian college students.

  • World Opinion Dynamics/University of Maryland polling data collected late 2006/early 2007 revealed that ~50% of the Indonesians surveyed desired both strict application the sharia and the (re-)creation of global Islamic caliphate.

  • The female genital mutilation rate among Indonesian women persists at well over 90% in Indonesia (97% in Jakarta according to this U.N. report), and the NU opposes the banning of this misogynistic barbarity.

And for some five centuries ongoing, Aceh has been a hotbed of irredentist jihadism. Here is what the great Dutch scholar Hurgronje (who lived in Aceh and was a sympathetic but thoroughly honest student of Acehnese culture) wrote at the beginning of the 20th century (1906) about Aceh:

From Mohammedanism (which for centuries she [i.e., Aceh] is reputed to have accepted) she really only learnt a large number of dogmas relating to hatred of the infidel without any of their mitigating concomitants; so the Acehnese made a regular business of piracy and man -- hunting at the expense of the neighboring non -- Mohammedan countries and islands, and considered that they were justified in any act of treachery or violence to European (and latterly to American) traders who came in search of pepper, the staple product of the country. Complaints of robbery and murder on board ships trading in Acehnese parts thus grew to be chronic.

Finally, with regard to Indonesia, in present-day Aceh, where sharia law officially prevails, during September 2006, Muslim mobs razed a church in response to a forged (i.e., by a Muslim) advertisement inviting Muslims to a Christian revival service. Here is a published account of what transpired:

Witnesses said there were over 100 [Muslim] men present, many of them carrying swords. The mob poured gasoline over the building and set fire to it; they also attempted to burn a second building that was used as a church kindergarten. Some of the attackers came looking for Saragih and Netty at their home, which is nearby. The couple escaped into the nearby jungle and stayed hidden in the undergrowth. Many thought the couple had been consumed in the flames of the church buildings, but a friend found them at around 4 a.m. Christians in a neighboring province have provided shelter for Saragih [the pastor of the Mission Church which was attacked] and his wife, following reports that local police and Muslim leaders are still searching for the couple. It is uncertain when -- or if -- they will be free to return home.

Despite Robert Small's uninformed and heavily redacted apologetics, Indonesia's living legacy of Islam is hardly an advertisement for the so-called "peace-loving" efforts of the NU.

Andrew Bostom


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

Abbas Arrives at the UN With a Bang, Leaves NY With a Whimper

by Leo Rennert

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas arrived in New York with supreme confidence that the United Nations would approve Palestinian statehood and give Israel a black eye. But a funny thing happened on the East Side that sidetracked Abbas's agenda, leaving him sputtering against a joint move by the most potent international players who confronted him with a starkly different course that Israel readily embraced.

To parse what actually happened in New York, one has to recognize that, in delving again into the morass of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there actually were two proceedings going on.

While the cameras were focused on Abbas strutting to the podium of the UN General Assembly, there were more significant, behind-the-scenes meetings of the Quartet -- the United States, the European Union, Russia and the UN. And the Quartet, instead of endorsing Palestinian statehood, put all its influence behind a quite different move to get Abbas to sit down with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and resume serious negotiations --- something Netanyahu repeatedly advocated for the last year.

And here was the real rub: The Quartet's statement called for resumption of bilateral talks "without conditions" -- a slap at Abbas, who kept demanding that Israel freeze Jewish construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and agree to borders along the 1967 lines before talks could even get under way.

No wonder that the Palestinians, suddenly on the defensive, slammed the Qua[r]tet's communique, while Israel signaled its acceptance.

In its call for unconditional talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the Quartet set a tight deadline -- a start of negotiations in one month, comprehensive proposals by each side on borders and security in three months, substantial agreement in six months, and a final two-state peace deal before the end of 2012. And since the Quartet wants the two sides to grapple early on with borders, this means that Jerusalem would be in immediate play. Because if you're going to chart a border between Israel and Palestine, Jerusalem has got to be located somewhere -- whether split in two as Abbas wants or united, as Bibi wants.

What would Abbas have to do if the Quartet were to succeed in dragging him to the negotiating table? Within three months, he would have to show his opening cards, presumably a repeat of his uncompromising address to the UN General Assembly -- a Palestinian state in all of Gaza, all of the West Bank and all of East Jerusalem, including Jerusalem's Old City with the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site.

On security for Israel, Abbas -- judging again by his harsh UN speech -- would provide essentially nothing. He certainly wouldn't dare demilitarize Hamas-ruled Gaza with its thousands of rocket and mortar shells aimed at Israel.

For his part, Netanyahu presumably would give the Palestinians all of Gaza -- please keep it -- but very little if anything of East Jerusalem and about 90 percent of the West Bank, with Israel keeping Ariel, and close-in major settlement blocs like Gush Etzion and Maale Adumim. Bibi's stance would be less generous than Ehud Barak's in 2000-01 and Ehud Olmert's in 2008. But those initiatives were rejected by the Palestinian leadership and history rarely repeats itself.

When it comes to security, the positions of the two parties would be even more divergent because Netanyahu already is on record as demanding a demilitarized Palestinian state and an Israeli military presence along the Jordan Valley -- provisions certain to be rejected by Abbas.

The Quartet's script then gets even more interesting when it comes to attempts to narrow these gaps. Netanyahu might inch toward a compromise with slight changes on his map and with modifications of security arrangements. But Abbas has no room for any flexibility. His intransigent UN speech made that amply clear. And with Hamas looking over his shoulder and threatening sharp reprisals if he dares show an inch of flexibility, Abbas is not about to stick his neck out and invite a Palestinian civil war.

Abbas is boxed in. He overplayed his hand and was left empty-handed as he returned to Ramallah. He still may get a largely symbolic statehood boost from the UN General Assembly, but as the week progressed, he was left without the nine votes necessary for a Security Council statehood resolution that actually would have some teeth, and in any case, the U.S. was prepared to veto any such measure were Abbas to find nine votes in the 15-member council.

As the week ended, it turned out to be a downer for Abbas. He was left licking his wounds, having been repudiated by the Quartet ,which changed the agenda from statehood to genuine negotiations. At the end, it was not Israel that was isolated but the Palestinians

When it comes to defining the much-abused reference to the "international community," whatever that is, Israel didn't do too badly, with a Quartet statement subscribed to by the United States, the European Union, Russia and the UN in the person of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

That's a more impressive "international community" than the UN General Assembly and its political theatrics.

Abbas may have arrived at the UN with a bang, but he left with a whimper, while Netanyahu returned to Jerusalem with a big trophy -- full Quartet support for unconditional resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Leo Rennert


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