Friday, December 9, 2011

Terrorists Said to be Infiltrating Military

by Shaun Waterman

Al Qaeda and other terrorists are trying to infiltrate the U.S. armed forces, which makes military facilities in the U.S. dangerous for American troops, lawmakers said Wednesday.

“The Department of Defense considers the U.S. homeland the most dangerous place for a G.I. outside of foreign war zones — and the top threat they face here is from violent Islamist extremists,” Rep. Peter T. King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said during a special joint House-Senate hearing.

Military officials testified about the homegrown terrorist threat at U.S. military bases in the wake of several attacks, including the November 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas. Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, 41, has been charged in the killing of 13 people and wounding of 29 others in the worst shootings ever to take place on an American military base.

“The Fort Hood attack was not an anomaly,” said Mr. King, New York Republican. “It was part of al Qaeda’s two-decade success at infiltrating the U.S. military for terrorism — an effort that is increasing in scope and threat.”

The Congressional Research Service has identified 54 homegrown terrorism plots and attacks since Sept. 11, 2001. Of those, 33 were directed against the U.S. military, said Sen. Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs and Homeland Security Committee.

“The American service member is increasingly in the terrorists’ scope and not just overseas in a traditional war setting,” said Mr. Lieberman, Connecticut independent.

The publicly disclosed plots and attacks by military insiders “represent the leading edge of al Qaeda’s ongoing effort to infiltrate the U.S. military and to recruit or radicalize vulnerable servicemen to commit future acts of terror,” according to a report published Wednesday by Mr. King’s staff.

There is “reason to believe that the actual number of radicalized troops is far more than publicly realized or acknowledged,” the report states.

Officials and lawmakers went into a closed session to discuss radicalized troops and other matters at the conclusion of the hearing.

After the Fort Hood shooting and a similar, attempted attack in 2010, the Pentagon has developed a series of “behavorial indicators” for radical motivations that troops will be encouraged to report if they detect them in their comrades, Paul N. Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense, said at the joint hearing.

“Expressing sympathy or support for a violence-promoting organization, associating with terrorists, having a copy of [al Qaeda‘s] Inspire magazine on your desk — these are behavioral indicators that we apply to focus on the primary threat,” he said.

Mr. Stockton denied charges from several Republican lawmakers that the military’s approach is hamstrung by political correctness.

“We know who the adversary is. The primary threat is al Qaeda and its affiliates. And everything that we are doing in terms of primary focus of our efforts concentrates on that threat,” he said.

Asked repeatedly by Rep. Daniel E. Lungren, California Republican, about his refusal to use the word “Islamic” or “Islamist” when describing al Qaeda, Mr. Stockton said branding terrorists as Muslims plays into their narrative that the United States is at war with Islam.

“Sir, with great respect, I don’t believe it’s helpful to frame our adversary as ‘Islamic’ with any set of qualifiers that we might add, because we are not at war with Islam,” he said.

Shaun Waterman


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

Is New Moroccan Government Inciting Muslims in Spain?

by Soeren Kern

Some 3,000 Muslim immigrants took to the streets in near Barcelona to protest recent cuts in social welfare benefits.

The protest, which took place on December 5 in the industrial city of Terrassa, about 30 kilometers from Barcelona, was organized and attended by Moroccan immigrants.

The size and spontaneity of the demonstration caught local officials by surprise -- they had been expecting no more than 300 demonstrators -- and reflects the growing assertiveness of Muslim immigrants in the northeastern region of Catalonia.

The protest could confirm the fears of Spanish intelligence agencies that the new Islamist government in Morocco may attempt to incite Moroccan immigrants in Spain to organize demonstrations, in an effort to force Spain's new conservative prime minister, who takes office on December 22, to resolve a series of longstanding disputes between the two countries.

The starting point for the demonstration was the heavily Muslim neighborhood of Ca N'Anglada, which is located in downtown Terrassa. The demonstrators then made their way through the city center to the municipal social security office.

The Moroccans were protesting austerity measures that make it more difficult for immigrants to collect social welfare handouts from the regional government in Catalonia.

Budget cutbacks that entered into effect in July 2011 increase the residency requirements to two years (from one year previously) for immigrants who want to collect welfare benefits. The changes also limit welfare handouts to 60 months.

Local politicians fear the protest was the opening salvo of what may become a more sustained campaign of unrest by Muslim immigrants in Catalonia, which has become ground zero in an intensifying debate over the role of Islam in Spain.

The Muslim population of Catalonia reached 300,000 in 2011, compared to just 10,000 in 1990, thanks to a massive wave of immigration, both legal and illegal.

In Spain as a whole, the Muslim population reached an estimated 1.5 million in 2011, up from just 100,000 in 1990.

The influx of Muslim immigrants on such a massive scale has led to an increasing number of Islam-related controversies in Spain.

In September, for example, Muslim immigrants were accused of poisoning dozens of dogs in the Catalan city of Lérida, where 29,000 Muslims now make up around 20% of the city's total population.

The dogs were poisoned in Lérida's working class neighborhoods of Cappont and La Bordeta, districts that are heavily populated by Muslim immigrants and where many dogs have been killed in recent years.

Local residents say Muslim immigrants killed the dogs because according to Islamic teaching dogs are "unclean" animals. Over the past several months, residents taking their dogs for walks have been harassed by Muslim immigrants opposed to seeing the animals in public. Muslims have also launched a number of anti-dog campaigns on Islamic websites and blogs based in Spain.

In December 2010, a high school teacher in the southern Spanish city of La Línea de la Concepción was sued by the parents of a Muslim student who said the teacher "defamed Islam" by talking about Spanish ham in class.

José Reyes Fernández, a geography teacher, was giving a lecture about the different types of climates in Spain. During the class, Reyes mentioned that the climate in the province of Andalusia offers the perfect temperature conditions for curing Spanish ham (Jamón Ibérico), a world-famous delicacy.

At this point, a Muslim student in the class interrupted Reyes and argued that any talk of pork products is offensive to his religion. Reyes responded by saying that he was only giving an example and that he does not take into consideration different religious beliefs when teaching geography.

The Muslim student informed his parents, who then filed a lawsuit against Reyes, accusing him of "abuse with xenophobic motivations." Article 525 of the Spanish Penal Code makes it a crime to "offend the feelings of the members of a religious confession." The lawsuit was later thrown out by a Spanish judge.

In November 2010, the Spanish cities of Ceuta and Melilla, two enclaves in northern Africa, officially recognized the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice), as a public holiday. By doing so, Ceuta and Melilla, where Muslims make up more than 50% of the total populations, became the first Spanish municipalities officially to mark an Islamic holiday since Spain was liberated from Muslim captivity in 1492.

In October 2010, the Islamic Association of Málaga, in southern Spain, demanded that Television Española (TVE), the state-owned national public television broadcaster, stop showing a Spanish-language television series because it was "anti-Muslim." Muslims accused TVE of violating the Spanish Constitution for airing a program that criticizes certain aspects of Islam, such as forced marriages and the lack of women's rights in Muslim countries.

That same month, residents of the Basque city of Bilbao found their mailboxes stuffed with flyers in Spanish and Arabic from the Islamic Community of Bilbao asking for money to build a 650 square meter (7,000 square feet) mosque costing €550,000 ($735,000). Their website states: "We were expelled [from Spain] in 1609, really not that long ago. … The echo of Al-Andalus still resonates in all the valley of the Ebro [Spain]. We are back to stay, Insha'Allah [if Allah wills it]."

In September 2010, a discotheque in southern Spanish resort town of Águilas (Murcia) was forced to change its name and architectural design after Islamists threatened to initiate "a great war between Spain and the people of Islam" if it did not.

La Meca was a popular discotheque during the 1980s and 1990s. After being closed for more than a decade, the club reopened in August 2010 under new management, but using the original name, La Meca. The mega-nightclub featured a large turquoise-colored mosque-style dome, a minaret-like tower, as well as traditional Arabic architecture common in southern Spain.

But soon after its reopening, Muslims began to complain that the nightclub is offensive and insulting to their religion; a group of Muslim radicals posted a video on the Internet calling for a boycott of Spanish goods and jihad against those who "blaspheme the name of Allah." Spain's intelligence agency, the Centro Nacional de Inteligencia (CNI), warned La Meca's owners that the discotheque was being directly targeted by Islamic extremists.

The nightclub owners agreed to change the name to La Isla (the island) "to avoid further problems and to ensure that patrons keep coming." They also confirmed plans to modify controversial features of the club's architecture, namely a minaret-like tower that has since been converted into a lighthouse-like tower.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group.


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

The Conundrum of the Pro-Hamas Peaceniks

by David Meir-Levi

The freedom-loving humanitarians who profess to defend the egalitarian values that are the cornerstone of civil society in the West are usually strong proponents of the rights enshrined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including:

Equality of persons, without distinction of race, color, sex, language, religion, political opinion, national origin, sexual preference.

The right to life, liberty, and security of person.

Freedom from slavery.

Freedom from torture and from cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.

Equality before the law and equal protection of the law.

The right to enter into marriage as free and consenting adults.

Freedom of thought, conscience, opinion and religion.

Freedom to manifest one’s religion.

Freedom to change one’s religion.

Islamic terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, el-Qaeda, Hizb ut-Tahrir and many others promote a social order which is an anathema to the liberal values of the West. These characteristics include:

Eternal Jihad: the commitment to unending violence to make Islam the sole or dominant religion in the world. Jihad is central to the prosecution of a perpetual war against all non-Muslims.

Imperialism: the jihadist goal of world conquest and the imposition of Islam on all humanity is religiously motivated imperialism on steroids. The Muslim terrorist leaders of Hizb ut-Tahrir held a conference in Boston in 2009 announcing their plan to replace Western governments with Shari’a law…. “Islam uber Alles.”

Supremacism: Arabs are the “best of people” (Qur’an, Surah 3:110) and Islam is the only true religion.

Triumphalism: an end-of-days scenario in which Islam ultimately triumphs over all mankind, displaces or subordinates all other religions, annihilates all Jews, and globally imposes Muslim rule.

Totalitarianism: Islam is, by its own definition, a totalitarian religion, obligating its adherents to complete submission to Shari’a.

Theocracy: The core of Islamic political history is the supremacy of Shari’a over any other form of government. Islam demands that political rule be in the hands of the religious leaders to whom any secular leader must be subordinated.

Gender Apartheid/Misogyny: The deeply misogynistic repression of women is an irrefutable part of Muslim social history, a tragic and gut-wrenchingly brutal assault on women. The indignity and inconvenience of the hijab and burqa, the restricted opportunities for education, and restrictions of a woman’s right to chose her mate are dwarfed by the savagery of honor killings, female genital mutilation, forced child (and even infant) marriages, stoning or vivisepulture as punishment for even the suspicion of adultery, and acid disfigurement or violent beatings for even the accidental appearance of a woman’s ankle in public.

Religious Apartheid: The Muslim doctrine of “dhimma” is the institutionalization of legislated religious apartheid. All non-Muslims living under Muslim sovereignty are subject to oppressive, discriminatory laws. These non-Muslims, legislated into a legal status of inferiority, are known as “dhimmi” (people of the contract or “protected people”). Whatever limited rights dhimmi might enjoy were determined by the local Muslim religious leaders, in exchange for jizya (a poll tax), in accordance with the limitations delineated in the eighth century Pact of Omar. Most Muslim countries in modern times have tended to be lax in the enforcement of dhimma, but it was officially reinstated in Iran after the Islamic revolution in 1979. Pakistan re-instituted dhimma officially in 1956.

Genocide: Leaders of Hamas and Hezbollah have been unabashedly clear that their ultimate goal is the annihilation of world Jewry. Hamas and Fatah officials have repeatedly declared that their objective is the obliteration of Israel. Hassan Nasrallah stated openly: “If (the Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.” In their own words they declare their commitment to the genocide of all Jews worldwide.

Other characteristics of Shari’a law in stark violation of human rights include the legalization of slavery; the implementation of cruel and unusual punishments such as amputation, beheading, and crucifixion; death sentences for homosexuals; denial of freedom to convert out of Islam; denial of freedom to manifest a non-Muslim religion in public; and denial to dhimmi and women equality before the law. Typical of some Arab regimes and terrorist groups are the use of torture, arbitrary arrest, restrictions on freedom of expression, limited or non-existent freedom of the press and other media, total disregard for the Fourth Geneva Convention and humanitarian treatment of prisoners; and the ability to issue unadjudicated death sentences against civilians who are perceived to be enemies of the religion. Perhaps most horrific of all is their use of their own civilians as human shields and their recruitment, training and deployment of homicide bombers, including children.

One might conclude that any defender of human rights would find such a society to be utterly odious, an anathema — but some do not.

The “Stop the War” coalition in London proudly hoisted banners during their street demonstrations in 2006 proclaiming “we are all Hezbollah now.” The UK Guardian deemed these demonstrators to be “…either of profound ignorance or a depraved indifference to human life…” and displaying a “moral idiocy.”

Dr. Norman Finkelstein televised his solidarity with Hezbollah in 2007 by echoing the “Stop the War” coalition’s pronouncement with even greater moral idiocy. Clearly not ignorant, is Finkelstein possessed of a depraved indifference to human life? He is not the only academic displaying moral idiocy or depraved indifference.

In the Arab-Israel conflict we see an oxymoronic alignment of supposedly principled, educated defenders of human rights with the most egregious violators of democratic principles and human rights.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) is possessed of all of the deplorable characteristics listed above, and demonstrates as well a long track record of extreme kleptocracy, corruption, unconstrained education of children into hatred and “martyrdom,” relentless anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hate speech and hate preach, lethal internecine rivalries, lionization of homicide bombers and mass murderers, extreme and sometimes lethal homophobia, and an unconstrained hatred of Israel and America.

The so-called “Freedom Flotillas,” organized by the “Free Gaza Movement” and the “Free Palestine Movement,” seem to have attracted a whole gaggle of putative defenders of human rights who instead defend the right of Hamas to display all the odious characteristics described above. Greta Berlin, one of the first flotilla’s participants, is an energetic, vocal supporter of Hamas. Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro, long-time pro-Palestinian activists who support Arab terrorism against Israel, were also among the organizers of the flotillas, along with Kit Kittredge, Medea Benjamin and Hedy Epstein, all well known anti-Israel activists. So their participation is no surprise.

But what about Pulitzer Prize winner and human rights advocate Alice Walker? She went because she sees “children, all children, as humanity’s most precious resource.” Does she not know that Hamas rockets have targeted school busses and classrooms? She claims to care for “all children” — does she really mean “all except Israeli children?”

One might argue that some participants, like Walker, are sincere defenders of human rights who seek only to assist the impoverished civilians of the Gaza Strip; and they have been duped by Hamas. But how could they not know that from the very onset the flotillas’ declared mission of humanitarian aid was transparently false because there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip?

Moreover, established and efficient mechanisms exist for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to the Gaza Strip. Cargo could be off-loaded at the Egyptian port of el-Arish. Assistance could also be delivered at the Israeli port of Ashdod, cargo off-loaded and inspected, and then delivered to Gaza.

As the terrorist nature of the 2nd flotilla emerged, and it became known that the key organizer of flotilla 2, Mohammed Sawalha, had ties with Hamas, and two other members of the flotilla’s “peace activists,” Amin Abu Rashad and Mohammad Hannoun, were Hamas members, the IHH, itself a Muslim terrorist organization and the primary organizers of the flotilla, disassociated from the endeavor; and many participants left the group before the boats set sail.

But what about those who remained? Why do people who represent themselves as non-violent defenders of human rights cast their lot with organizations that flagrantly deny human rights and unabashedly trumpet their intentions to perpetrate acts of terror, war and ultimately genocide? Why do they pledge their allegiance to terrorist institutions that represent the very epitome of all that they say they oppose?

Even if there were some doubt as to the motives and goals of the flotillas and their organizers, Adam Shapiro, a spokesperson for “Free Gaza” and a well-known anti-Israel activist, announced publicly the real purpose of the flotillas:

“Free Gaza is but one tactic of a larger strategy, to transform this conflict from one between Israel and the Palestinia­ns, or Israel and the Arab world…to one between the rest of the world and Israel…”

By setting sail with those who support mass murder and engage in genocidal war, these so-called non-violent defenders of human rights display their obscene hypocrisy. These supposedly noble supporters of western values have chosen to join the ranks of the 21st century’s version of Hitler’s little helpers.

David Meir-Levi


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

Panetta's Panacea

by Yoram Ettinger

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has played a key role in the misreading of the Middle East by the CIA and the Pentagon. Panetta’s severe miscomprehension of the Middle East, as well as his oversimplified worldview, were reflected by his Dec. 2, 2011 speech at the Brookings Institute in Washington, DC.

Panetta was a member of the 2006 Iraq Study Group, which recommended that Iran and Syria be co-opted into the effort to stabilize Iraq. He was unfamiliar with a basic Middle East truism: Iran and Syria have been the historical arch-enemies of Iraq, as well as two of the most ruthless, anti-U.S. terrorist regimes in the world.

Marshaling his experience as a former chairman of the House Budget Committee, Clinton’s White House chief of staff and member of the board of the New York Stock Exchange, Panetta has praised the “Technological Youth Revolution” on the Arab Street. He misconceives the eruption of the Islamic political lava, which consumes and destabilizes relatively pro-Western Arab regimes, as an “Arab Awakening” and the “March of Democracy.”

Panetta supported the 2009 decision to court the (then) illegal anti-Mubarak, anti-U.S., subversive, Islamic-supremacist Muslim Brotherhood. He backed the decision to invite Muslim Brotherhood leaders to Obama’s Cairo University speech on June 4, 2009, which was perceived by Egyptians as the abandonment of Mubarak by the U.S. – a repeat of President Carter’s abandonment of the Shah of Iran.

In 2010, he perpetuated the Assad-placating legacy of the Iraq Study Group, considering the return of the U.S. ambassador to Damascus – after five years of absence – as a worthy engagement with Bashar Assad, who was perceived as a potentially constructive leader by the Obama Administration.

The Dec. 2, 2011 rebuke of Israel, by Secretary Panetta - "just get to the damn table" - was symptomatic of the Iraq Study Group state of mind. The Iraq Study Group believed in the centrality of the Palestinian issue in Middle Eastern politics, as well as in shaping Arab attitudes toward the U.S. Therefore, Panetta and his colleagues assume that a U.S.-driven resolution of the Palestinian issue would be a key panacea to regional conflicts, improving Arab sentiments toward the U.S.

Unimpressed by the Palestinian-free turmoil in each Arab country, Panetta still believes in the Palestinian centrality and in the linkage between the Israel-Palestinian negotiations on the one hand and the seismic developments, which threaten the survival of pro-U.S. Arab regimes irrespective of the Palestinian issue or Israel’s existence, on the other.

Undeterred by the anti-Western about-face of Ankara’s policy and the expected 180-degree turn of Cairo’s alignment in regional and global affairs, Panetta urges Israel to mend fences with Turkey, Egypt and Jordan, as a major step toward regional stability. He maintains that a strategic common ground exists between solidly pro-U.S. Israel and Turkey, which has anointed itself the leader of the Muslim world, Egypt, which is trending toward a Muslim Brotherhood dictatorship and Jordan, which collaborated with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

Panetta warns Israel of its isolation in the Middle East, failing to realize that Israel’s splendid isolation sets it apart from the treacherous, unreliable, unstable and increasingly anti-U.S. region. Contrary to Panetta’s observation, Israel’s isolation from the Arab Street has been its badge of honor, highlighting its shared Judeo-Christian values with the U.S. Israel’s isolation from the hate-driven region has made it a unique unconditional, democratic, added-value ally of the U.S., providing the U.S. with cutting-edge commercial and defense technologies, invaluable intelligence and an unshakable alliance.

Panetta’s simplistic view of the Middle East erodes the U.S. posture of deterrence. His rebuke of Israel forces the Arabs to further radicalize their demands, policy and terrorism, lest they be outflanked by the U.S. from the hawkish side. It does not get them to “the damn table;” it gets them away from “the damn table.”

Yoram Ettinger


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

Jordan Is Palestinian

by Mudar Zahran

Thus far the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has weathered the storm that has swept across the Middle East since the beginning of the year. But the relative calm in Amman is an illusion. The unspoken truth is that the Palestinians, the country's largest ethnic group, have developed a profound hatred of the regime and view the Hashemites as occupiers of eastern Palestine—intruders rather than legitimate rulers. This, in turn, makes a regime change in Jordan more likely than ever. Such a change, however, would not only be confined to the toppling of yet another Arab despot but would also open the door to the only viable peace solution—and one that has effectively existed for quite some time: a Palestinian state in Jordan.

Abdullah's Apartheid Policies

The majority Palestinian population of Jordan bridles at the advantages and benefits bestowed on the minority Bedouins. Advancement in the civil service, as well as in the military, is almost entirely a Bedouin prerogative with the added insult that Palestinians pay the lion's share of the country's taxes.

Despite having held a comprehensive national census in 2004, the Jordanian government would not divulge the exact percentage of Palestinians in the kingdom. Nonetheless, the secret that everyone seems to know but which is never openly admitted is that Palestinians make up the vast majority of the population.

In his 2011 book, Our Last Best Chance, King Abdullah claimed that the Palestinians make up a mere 43 percent. The U.S. State Department estimates that Palestinians make up "more than half" of Jordanians[1] while in a 2007 report, written in cooperation with several Jordanian government bodies, the London-based Oxford Business Group stated that at least two thirds of Jordan's population were of Palestinian origin.[2] Palestinians make up the majority of the population of Jordan's two largest cities, Amman and Zarqa, which were small, rural towns before the influx of Palestinians arrived in 1967 after Jordan's defeat in the Six-Day War.

In most countries with a record of human rights violations, vulnerable minorities are the typical victims. This has not been the case in Jordan where a Palestinian majority has been discriminated against by the ruling Hashemite dynasty, propped up by a minority Bedouin population, from the moment it occupied Judea and Samaria during the 1948 war (these territories were annexed to Jordan in April 1950 to become the kingdom's West Bank).

As a result, the Palestinians of Jordan find themselves discriminated against in government and legislative positions as the number of Palestinian government ministers and parliamentarians decreases; there is not a single Palestinian serving as governor of any of Jordan's twelve governorships.[3]

Jordanian Palestinians are encumbered with tariffs of up to 200 percent for an average family sedan, a fixed 16-percent sales tax, a high corporate tax, and an inescapable income tax. Most of their Bedouin fellow citizens, meanwhile, do not have to worry about most of these duties as they are servicemen or public servants who get a free pass. Servicemen or public employees even have their own government-subsidized stores, which sell food items and household goods at lower prices than what others have to pay,[4] and the Military Consumer Corporation, which is a massive retailer restricted to Jordanian servicemen, has not increased prices despite inflation.[5]

Decades of such practices have left the Palestinians in Jordan with no political representation, no access to power, no competitive education, and restrictions in the only field in which they can excel: business.

According to the Minority Rights Group International's World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples of 2008, "Jordan still considers them [Palestinian-Jordanians] refugees with a right of return to Palestine."[6] This by itself is confusing enough for the Palestinian majority and possibly gives basis for state-sponsored discrimination against them; indeed, since 2008, the Jordanian government has adopted a policy of stripping some Palestinians of their citizenship.[7] Thousands of families have borne the brunt of this action with tens of thousands more potentially affected. The Jordanian government has officially justified its position: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Nayef Qadi told the London-based al-Hayat newspaper that "Jordan should be thanked for standing up against Israeli ambitions of unloading the Palestinian land of its people" which he described as "the secret Israeli aim to impose a solution of Palestinian refugees at the expense of Jordan."[8] According to a February 2010 Human Rights Watch (HRW) report, some 2,700 Jordanian-Palestinians have had their citizenship revoked. As HRW obtained the figure from the Jordanian government, it is safe to assume that the actual figure is higher. To use the words of Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of HRW, "Jordan is playing politics with the basic rights of thousands of its citizens."[9]

But Abdullah does not really want the Palestinians out of his kingdom. For it is the Palestinians who drive the country's economy: They pay heavy taxes; they receive close to zero state benefits; they are almost completely shut out of government jobs, and they have very little, if any, political representation. He is merely using them as pawns in his game against Israel by threatening to make Jerusalem responsible for Jordanians of Palestinian descent in the name of the "right of return."

Despite systematic marginalization, Palestinians in Jordan seem well-settled and, indeed, do call Jordan home. Hundreds of thousands hold "yellow cards" and "green cards," residency permits allowing them to live and work in Israel while they maintain their Jordanian citizenship.[10] In addition, tens of thousands of Palestinians—some even claim hundreds of thousands—hold Israeli residency permits, which allow them to live in Judea and Samaria. Many also hold a "Jerusalem Residency Card," which entitles them to state benefits from Israel.[11] Yet they have remained in Jordan. Despite ill treatment by the Jordanian government, they still wish to live where most of their relatives and family members live and perhaps actually consider Jordan home.

Playing the Islamist Card

The Hashemites' discriminatory policies against the Palestinians have been overlooked by the West, Washington in particular, for one main reason: the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was the beating heart of Palestinian politics, and thus, if the Palestinians were empowered, they might topple the Hashemites and transform Jordan into a springboard for terror attacks against Israel. This fear was not all that farfetched. The Palestinian National Charter, by which the PLO lives, considers Palestine with its original mandate borders (i.e., including the territory east of the Jordan River, or Transjordan) as the indivisible homeland of the Palestinian Arab people.[12] In the candid admission of Abu Dawoud, Yasser Arafat's strongman in the 1970s, "Abu Ammar [Arafat] was doing everything then to establish his power and authority in Jordan despite his public statements" in support of King Hussein.[13] This tension led to the 1970 Black September civil war where the PLO was expelled from Jordan and thousands of Palestinians were slaughtered by Hussein's Bedouin army.

With the threat of Palestinian militants removed, the idea of having the Muslim Brotherhood entrenched in a Palestinian state with the longest border with Israel would naturally be of concern to Israel and its allies.

The only problem with this theory is that the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan is dominated by Bedouins, not Palestinians. The prominent, hawkish Muslim Brotherhood figure, Zaki Bani Rushiad, for example, is a native of Irbid in northern Jordan—not a Palestinian. Salem Falahat, another outspoken Brotherhood leader, and Abdul Latif Arabiat, a major tribal figure and godfather of the Brotherhood in Jordan, are also non-Palestinians. Upon President Obama's announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden, tribal Jordanians in the southern city of Ma'an mourned the terror leader's death and announced "a celebration of martyrdom."[14] Other cities with predominantly Bedouin populations, such as Salt and Kerak, did the same. The latter, a stronghold of the Majali tribe (which has historically held prominent positions in the Hashemite state) produced Abu Qutaibah al-Majali, bin Laden's personal aide between 1986 and 1991, who recruited fellow Bedouin-Jordanian, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in a 2006 U.S. raid.[15]

The Hashemite regime is keenly aware of U.S. and Israeli fears and has, therefore, striven to create a situation where the world would have to choose between the Hashemites and the Muslim Brotherhood as Jordan's rulers. To this end, it has supported the Muslim Brotherhood for decades, allowing it to operate freely, to run charitable organizations and youth movements, and to recruit members in Jordan.[16] In 2008, the Jordanian government introduced a new law, retroactively banning any existing political party unless it had five hundred members and branches in five governorates (counties). Since such conditions could only be fulfilled by the Muslim Brotherhood, most political parties were dissolved de jure because they did not meet the new standards, leaving the Islamic Action Front as the strongest party in the kingdom.

Both Jerusalem and Washington are aware of the Jordanian status quo yet have chosen to accept the Hashemite regime as it is, seduced by the conventional wisdom of "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't." The facts on the ground, however, suggest that the devil they think they know is in deep trouble with its own supposed constituency.

The Bedouin Threat

Despite their lavish privileges, Jordanian Bedouins seem to insist relentlessly on a bigger piece of the cake, demanding more privileges from the king, and, in doing so, they have grown fearless about defying him. Since 2009, fully-armed tribal fights have become commonplace in Jordan.[17] Increasingly, the Hashemite regime has less control than it would like over its only ruling foundation—the Bedouin minority—which makes up the army, the police forces, all the security agencies, and the Jordanian General Intelligence Department. The regime is, therefore, less likely to survive any serious confrontations with them and has no other choice but to keep kowtowing to their demands.

What complicates the situation even further is that Bedouin tribes in Jordan do not maintain alliances only with the Hashemites; most shift their loyalties according to their current interests and the political season. Northern tribes, for example, have exhibited loyalty to the Syrian regime, and many of their members hold dual citizenships.[18] In September 1970, when Syrian forces invaded Jordan in the midst of the civil war there, the tribes of the northern city of Ramtha raised the Syrian flag and declared themselves "independent" from the Hashemite rulers.

Likewise, Bedouin tribes of the south have habitually traded loyalty for privileges and handouts with whoever paid better, beginning with the Turks, then replacing them with the better-paying Britons, and finally the Hashemites. This pattern has expanded in the last twenty years, as tribesmen exchanged their loyalties for cash; in fact this is how they got involved in the British-supported Arab revolt of World War I, in which the Bedouins demanded to be paid in gold in advance in order to participate in the fighting against the Ottomans despite their alignment with the Ottoman Empire before joining the revolt.[19]

This in turn means that the Jordanian regime is now detested not only by the Palestinians but also by the Bedouins, who have called for a constitutional monarchy in which the king hands his powers to them.[20] Should the tribes fail to achieve their goals, they will most likely expand their demonstrations of unrest—complete with tribal killings, blockades, armed fights, robberies, and attacks on police officers—which the Jordanian state finds itself having to confront weekly. In 2010, an average of five citizens was killed each week just as a result of tribal unrest.[21]

The Hashemite regime cannot afford to confront the tribesmen since they constitute the regime's own servicemen and intelligence officers. In 2002, the Jordanian army besieged the southern Bedouin city of Ma'an in order to arrest a group of extremists, who were then pardoned a few years later.[22] Similarly, Hammam Balaoui, a Jordanian intelligence double agent was arrested in 2006 for supporting al-Qaeda, only to be released shortly thereafter, eventually blowing himself up in Afghanistan in 2009 along with seven senior CIA officers and King Abdullah's cousin.[23]

Palestinian Pawns

These open displays of animosity are of a piece with the Hashemite regime's use of its Palestinian citizens as pawns in its game of anti-Israel one-upmanship.

King Hussein—unlike his peace-loving image—made peace with Israel only because he could no longer afford to go to war against it. His son has been less shy about his hostility and is not reluctant to bloody Israel in a cost-effective manner. For example, on August 3, 2004, he went on al-Arabiya television and slandered the Palestinian Authority for "its willingness to give up more Palestinian land in exchange for peace with Israel."[24] He often unilaterally upped Palestinian demands on their behalf whenever the Palestinian Authority was about to make a concession, going as far as to threaten Israel with a war "unless all settlement activities cease."[25]

This hostility toward Israel was also evident when, in 2008, Abdullah started revoking the citizenship of Jordanian Palestinians. By turning the Palestinian majority in Jordan into "stateless refugees" and aggressively pushing the so-called "right of return," the king hopes to strengthen his anti-Israel credentials with the increasingly Islamist Bedouins and to embarrass Jerusalem on the world stage. It is not inconceivable to envision a scenario where thousands of disenfranchised Palestinians find themselves stranded at the Israeli border, unable to enter or remain in Jordan. The international media—no friend of the Jewish state—would immediately jump into action, demonizing Israel and turning the scene into a fiasco meant to burden Jerusalem's conscience—and that of the West. The Hashemite regime would thereby come out triumphant, turning its own problem—being rejected and hated by the Palestinians—into Israel's problem.

A Pot Boiling Over

The Jordanian government's mistreatment of its Palestinian citizenry has taken a significant toll. Today, the Palestinians are a ticking bomb waiting to explode, especially as they watch their fellow Arabs rebelling against autocrats such as Egypt's Mubarak, Libya's Qaddafi, or Syria's Assad.

The complex relationship between the Palestinian majority and the Hashemite minority seems to have become tenser since Abdullah ascended the throne in 1999 after King Hussein's death. Abdullah's thin knowledge of the Arabic language, the region, and internal affairs, made him dependent on the Bedouin-dominated Jordanian Intelligence Department standing firmly between the king and his people, of which the Palestinians are the majority.[26] A U.S. embassy cable, dated July 2009, reported "bullying" practiced by the fans of al-Faisali Soccer Club (predominantly Bedouin Jordanians) against the fans of al-Wihdat Soccer Club (predominantly Palestinians), with al-Faisali fans chanting anti-Palestinian slogans and going so far as to insult Queen Rania, who is of Palestinian descent.[27] Two days after the cable was released, Jordanian police mercilessly attacked Palestinian soccer fans without provocation, right under the eyes of the international media.[28]

Palestinians in Jordan have also developed an intense hatred of the military as they are not allowed to join the army; they see Bedouin servicemen getting advantages in state education and health care, home taxes, and even tariff exemption on luxury vehicles.[29] In recent years, the Jordanian military has consumed up to 20.2 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).[30]

Government spending does not end with the army. Jordan has one of the largest security and intelligence apparatuses in the Middle East, perhaps the largest compared to the size of its population. Since intelligence and security officers are labeled as "military servicemen" by the Jordanian Ministry of Finance, and their expense is considered military expenditure, Jordanian Palestinians see their tax dollars going to support job creation for posts from which they themselves are banned. At the same time, the country has not engaged in any warfare since 1970, leading some to conclude that this military spending is designed to protect the regime and not the country—a conclusion underscored by the Black September events.

A Path to Peace?

The desperate and destabilizing measures undertaken by the Hashemite regime to maintain its hold on power point to a need to revive the long-ignored solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict: the Jordanian option. With Jordan home to the largest percentage of Palestinians in the world, it is a more logical location for establishing Palestinian statehood than on another country's soil, i.e., Israel's.

There is, in fact, almost nothing un-Palestinian about Jordan except for the royal family. Despite decades of official imposition of a Bedouin image on the country, and even Bedouin accents on state television, the Palestinian identity is still the most dominant—to the point where the Jordanian capital, Amman, is the largest and most populated, Palestinian city anywhere. Palestinians view it as a symbol of their economic success and ability to excel. Moreover, empowering a Palestinian statehood for Jordan has a well-founded and legally accepted grounding: The minute the minimum level of democracy is applied to Jordan, the Palestinian majority would, by right, take over the political momentum.

For decades, however, regional players have entertained fears about empowering the Palestinians of Jordan. While there may be apprehension that Jordan as a Palestinian state would be hostile to Israel and would support terror attacks across their long border, such concerns, while legitimate, are puzzling. Israel has allowed the Palestinians to establish their own ruling entities as well as their own police and paramilitary forces on soil captured in the 1967 war, cheek by jowl with major Israeli population centers. Would a Palestinian state on the other side of the Jordan River pose any greater security threat to Israel than one in Judea and Samaria?

Moreover, the Jordan Valley serves as a much more effective, natural barrier between Jordan and Israel than any fences or walls. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the centrality of Israeli control over the western side of the Jordan Valley, which he said would never be relinquished.[31] It is likely that the area's tough terrain together with Israel's military prowess have prevented the Hashemite regime from even considering war with Israel for more than forty years.

It could be argued that should the Palestinians control Jordan, they would downsize the military institutions, which are dominated by their Bedouin rivals. A Palestinian-ruled Amman might also seek to cut back on the current scale of military expenditures in the hope that the U.S. military presence in the region would protect the country from unwelcome encroachments by Damascus or Tehran. It could also greatly benefit from financial and economic incentives attending good-neighbor relations with Israel. Even if a Jordanian army under Palestinian commanders were to be kept at its current level, it would still be well below Israel's military and technological edge. After all, it is Israel's military superiority, rather than regional goodwill, that drove some Arab states to make peace with it.

The Palestinians in Jordan already depend on Israel for water[32] and have enjoyed a thriving economic boom driven by the "Qualified Industrial Zones," which allow for Jordanian clothing factories to export apparel to the United States at preferred tariff rates if a minimum percentage of the raw material comes from Israel.[33] Hundreds of Palestinian factory owners have prospered because of these zones. Expanding such cooperation between a future Palestinian state in Jordan and Israel would give the Palestinians even more reasons to maintain a good relationship with their neighbor.

Both the United States and Israel should consider reevaluating the Jordan option. Given the unpopularity of the Hashemite regime among its subjects, regime change in Amman should not be that difficult to achieve though active external intervention would likely yield better results than the wait-and-see-who-comes-to-power approach followed during the Egyptian revolution. After twelve years on the throne, and $7 billion dollars in U.S. aid, Abdullah is still running a leaky ship and creating obstacles to resolving the Palestinian issue.

Washington's leverage can come into play as well with the Jordanian armed forces which are, in theory, loyal to the king. With hundreds of troops undergoing training in the United States each year and almost $350 million handed out in military aid, the U.S. establishment could potentially influence their choices.

Recent events in the Middle East should serve as guidelines for what ought to be pursued and avoided. U.S. diplomacy failed to nurse a moderate opposition to Egypt's Mubarak, which could have blocked Islamists and anti-Americans from coming to power. The current turmoil in Libya has shown that the later the international community acts, the more complicated the situation can get. An intervention in Jordan could be much softer than in Libya and with no need for major action. Abdullah is an outsider ruling a poor country with few resources; his only "backbone" is Washington's political and financial support. In exchange for a promise of immunity, the king could be convinced to let the Palestinian majority rule and become a figurehead, like Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

As further assurance of a future Palestinian Jordan's peaceful intentions, very strict antiterrorism laws must be implemented, barring anyone who has incited violence from running for office, thus ruling out the Islamists even before they had a chance to start. Such an act should be rewarded with economic aid that actually filters down to the average Jordanian as opposed to the current situation, in which U.S. aid money seems to support mainly the Hashemites' lavish lifestyle.

Alongside downsizing the military, a defense agreement with Washington could be put in place to help protect the country against potentially hostile neighbors. Those who argue that Jordan needs a strong military to counter threats from abroad need only look again at its history: In 1970, when Syria invaded northern Jordan, King Hussein asked for U.S. and Israeli protection and was eventually saved by the Israeli air force, which managed to scare the Syrian troops back across the border.[34] Again in 2003, when Washington toppled Saddam Hussein, Amman asked for U.S.-operated Patriot missile batteries and currently favors an extended U.S. presence in Iraq as a Jordanian security need.[35]

Should the international community see an advantage to maintaining the military power of the new Palestinian state in Jordan as it is today, the inviolability of the peace treaty with Israel must be reasserted, indeed upgraded, extending into more practical and tangible economic and political arenas. A mutual defense and counterterrorism agreement with Israel should be struck, based on one simple concept—"good fences make good neighbors"—with the river Jordan as the fence.


Considering the Palestinian-Jordanian option for peace would not pose any discrimination against Palestinians living in the West Bank, nor would it compromise their human rights: They would be welcome to move to Jordan or stay where they are if they so wished. Free will should be the determinant, not political pressure. Besides, there are indications that many would not mind living in Jordan.[36] Were the Palestinians to dominate Jordan, this tendency will be significantly strengthened. This possibility has also recently been confirmed by a released cable from the U.S. embassy in Amman in which Palestinian political and community representatives in Jordan made clear that they would not consider the "right of return" should they secure their civil rights in Jordan.[37]

Empowering Palestinian control of Jordan and giving Palestinians all over the world a place they can call home could not only defuse the population and demographic problem for Palestinians in Judea and Samaria but would also solve the much more complicated issue of the "right of return" for Palestinians in other Arab countries. Approximately a million Palestinian refugees and their descendents live in Syria and Lebanon, with another 300,000 in Jordan whom the Hashemite government still refuses to accept as citizens. How much better could their future look if there were a welcoming Palestinian Jordan?

The Jordanian option seems the best possible and most viable solution to date. Decades of peace talks and billions of dollars invested by the international community have only brought more pain and suffering for both Palestinians and Israelis—alongside prosperity and wealth for the Hashemites and their cronies.

It is time for the international community to adopt a more logical and less costly solution rather than to persist in long discredited misconceptions. It is historically perplexing that the world should be reluctant to ask the Hashemites to leave Jordan, a country to which they are alien, while at the same time demanding that Israeli families be removed by force from decades-old communities in their ancestral homeland. Equally frustrating is the world's silence while Palestinians seeking refuge from fighting in Iraq are locked in desert camps in eastern Jordan because the regime refuses to settle them "unless foreign aid is provided."[38]

The question that needs to be answered at this point is: Has the West ever attempted to establish any contacts with a pro-peace, Palestinian-Jordanian opposition? Palestinians today yearn for leaders. Washington is presented with a historical opportunity to support a potential Palestinian leadership that believes in a peace-based, two-state solution with the River Jordan as the separating border between the two countries. Such leadership does seem to exist. Last September, for example, local leaders in Jordanian refugee camps stopped Palestinian youth from participating in mass protests against the Israeli Embassy in Amman;[39] as a result, barely 200 protesters showed up instead of thousands as in similar, previous protests.[40] As for East Jerusalem, under Israel's 44-year rule, Muslims, Christians, and members of all other religions have been able to visit and practice their faith freely, just as billions of people from all over the world visit the Vatican or Muslim pilgrims flock to Mecca. Yet under the Hashemite occupation of the city, this was not done. Without claiming citizenship, Jerusalem would remain an open city to all who come to visit.

The Jordanian option is an overdue solution: A moderate, peaceful, economically thriving, Palestinian home in Jordan would allow both Israelis and Palestinians to see a true and lasting peace.

[1] "Jordan: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2001," Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, Mar. 4, 2002.
[2] "The Report: Emerging Jordan 2007," Oxford Business Group, London, Apr. 2007.
[3] "Jordan: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2001," Mar. 4, 2002.
[4] "Brief History," Civil Service Consumer Corporation, Government of Jordan, Amman, 2006.
[5] Jordan News Agency (PETRA, Amman), Jan. 10, 2011.
[6] "Jordan: Palestinians," World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples, Minority Rights Group International, 2008, accessed Sept. 20, 2011.
[7] "Stateless Again," Human Rights Watch, New York, Feb. 1, 2010.
[8] The Arab Times (Kuwait City), Jan. 13, 2011.
[9] "Jordan: Stop Withdrawing Nationality from Palestinian-Origin Citizens," Human Rights Watch, Washington, D.C., Feb. 1, 2010.
[10] "Jordan: Information on the right of abode of a Palestinian from the West Bank who holds a Jordanian passport which is valid for five years," Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Oct. 1, 1993, JOR15463.FE.
[11] "Jordan's treatment of failed refugee claimants," Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Mar. 9, 2004, JOR42458.E.
[12] The Palestinian National Charter, Resolutions of the Palestine National Council, July 1-17, 1968.
[13] Al-Jazeera (Riyadh), Oct. 1, 2005.
[14] Amman News, May 2, 2011.
[15] Ibid., May 2, 2011.
[16] Awni Jadu al-Ubaydi, Jama'at al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin fi al-Urdunn wa-Filastin, 1945-1970 (Amman: Safahat Ta'arikhiyya, 1991), pp. 38-41.
[17] Samer Libdeh, "The Hashemite Kingdom of Apartheid?" The Jerusalem Post, Apr. 26, 2010.
[18] CNN, Nov. 28, 2007.
[19] Michael Korda, Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia (New York: Harper, 2010), p. 19.
[20] Hürriyet (Istanbul), Mar. 4, 2011.
[21] Libdeh, "The Hashemite Kingdom of Apartheid?"
[22] PETRA, Aug. 6, 2011.
[23] "Profile: Jordanian Triple Agent Who Killed CIA Agents," The Telegraph (London), Jan. 2010.
[24] Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai), Aug. 3, 2004.
[25] The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 24, 2010.
[26] Los Angeles Times, Oct. 1, 2006.
[27] The Guardian (London), Dec. 6, 2010.
[28] Qudosi Chronicles (Long Beach, Calif.), Dec. 16, 2010.
[29] "Assessment for Palestinians in Jordan," Minorities at Risk, Center for International Development and Conflict Management, University of Maryland, College Park, Md., Dec. 31, 2006.
[30] "Jordan Military Expenditures—Percent of GDP," CIA World Factbook, May 16, 2008.
[31] Ha'aretz (Tel Aviv), Mar. 2, 2010.
[32] Lilach Grunfeld, "Jordan River Dispute," The Inventory of Conflict and Environment Case Studies, American University, Washington, D.C., Spring 1997.
[33] Mary Jane Bolle, Alfred B. Prados, and Jeremy M. Sharp, "Qualifying Industrial Zones in Jordan and Egypt," Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., July 5, 2006.
[34] Mitchell Bard, "Modern Jordan," Jewish Virtual Library, accessed Aug. 11, 2011.
[35] The Christian Science Monitor (Boston), Jan. 30, 2003.
[36] The Forward (New York), Apr. 13, 2007.
[37] "The Right of Return: What It Means in Jordan," U.S. Embassy, Amman, to Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2008.
[38] "Non-Iraqi Refugees from Iraq in Jordan," Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Feb. 20, 2007.
[39] Mudar Zahran, "A Plan B for Jordan?" Hudson Institute, Washington, D.C., Sept. 16, 2011.
[40] The Washington Post, Sept. 15, 2011.

Mudar Zahran is a Jordanian-Palestinian writer who resides in the United Kingdom as a political refugee. He served as an economic specialist and assistant to the policy coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Amman before moving to the U.K. in 2010.


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

Sharia's Sinister Smiles

by Raymond Ibrahim

The totalitarian nature of Sharia law can only be grasped when one appreciates how thoroughly it permeates and dictates everything in a believer's life—including when and to whom a Muslim may smile.

Popular Islamic TV preacher Sheikh Muhammad Hassan appears in this video clip asserting that, according to Sharia, it is "not at all permissible" for Muslims to smile at non-Muslims, "except in cases of da'wa."

Often translated as "missionary work," the word da'wa means to "call" or "summon" non-Muslims to Islam. Because it shares the same goals of jihad—empowering and spreading Islam—da'wa is often seen as jihad's nonviolent counterpart.

In fact, Sheikh Hassan himself asserts that "da'wa mode differs from jihad mode. Jihad mode requires power, zeal, manliness—basically, a stern face and such. But when in da'wa mode, you must smile, you must be gentle."

As proof, he pointed out that when Allah ordered Musa and Harun (the biblical "Moses" and "Aaron") to go and persuade that great infidel, pharaoh, to submit, Allah commanded them "to speak to him gently" (Quran 20:44).

Further demonstrating the stealth nature of da'wa, Hassan made abundantly clear that if a Muslim smiles to a non-Muslim "by way of heartfelt friendship, this is wala' which Islam has forbidden, and which contradicts faith according to Muslim consensus."

As proof, he quoted Quran 60:1: "O you who believe! Do not take my enemy and your enemy [non-believers] for friends: would you offer them love while they deny what has come to you of the truth [i.e., while they deny Islam]?"

All of this naturally leads to Islam's infamous doctrine of wala' wa bara', or "Loyalty and Enmity"; the verse quoted by Hassan is but one of many that portray non-believers as enemies to be shunned and subjugated (see also 4:89, 4:144, 5:51, 5:54, 6:40, 9:23, and 58:22).

For instance, Quran 3:28 commands "believers not to take infidels for friends and allies instead of believers… unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions." According to mainstream exegete Tabari, "taking precautions" means:

If you [Muslims] are under their [non-Muslims'] authority, fearing for yourselves, behave loyally to them with your tongue while harboring inner animosity for them … [but know that] God has forbidden believers from being friendly or on intimate terms with the infidels rather than other believers—except when infidels are above them [in authority]. Should that be the case, let them act friendly towards them while preserving their religion.

After interpreting Quran 3:28 as meaning that Muslims may "protect" themselves "through outward show" when under non-Muslim authority, Ibn Kathir, perhaps Islam's most celebrated exegete, quotes a close companion of Muhammad saying: "Let us smile to the faces of some people while our hearts curse them."

Such Islamic texts and teachings provide one with new appreciation for smiling, stealth jihadists operating under non-Muslim authority. Soon after watching the video clip of Sheikh Hassan, I came across the following picture of various CAIR characters, some of whom were convicted of terrorism, and wondered:

Is that what a da'wa-smile looks like (minus, of course, Siraj Wahhaj, whose "stern face" suggests he is in "jihad mode")?


Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Majdalani Effect, The Zawahiri Strategy and the Curse on the Middle East

by Barry Rubin

In a rare glimpse behind the curtain, a Palestinian scandal sheds a lot of light on the Palestinian Authority, Arab politics, and Western illusions. Palestinian Authority (PA) Minister of Labor Ahmed Majdalani was being interviewed by a radio station when, not realizing that his microphone was on, he referred to Palestinian workers as “brothers of whores.” Hundreds of callers complained. Majdalani’s answer? He claimed he was talking about Israelis, not Palestinians!

What does this tell us? First, that Arab and Muslim-majority society ie still, in 2011, extremely traditional. Despite all the rhetoric of popular struggle, leftism, anti-imperialism, and so on, the leaders of both the establishment and, less surprisingly, the Islamists, and even of the “liberals” are extremely reactionary. They have total contempt for their own people and little or no interest in bettering their lot. Aid money goes into their pockets; power goes to their heads.

Where naïve Western leftists, liberals, and often “experts” see some kind of mirror-image of themselves, there is something quite different on display. That’s one reason why the “Arab Spring” has failed and led to something worse, even while the West celebrates it from wishful thinking and many locals do so out of desperate hope.

And then there’s a particularly vivid example of the “old switcheroo,” the con-man’s substitution of a scapegoat to hide his own culpability. No, it isn’t your own leaders who betray you and exploit you, it’s the Jews or the Americans, the Zionists and the Crusaders.

Western observers simply can’t believe that this political con-game works because they see through the scam. Of course, it’s always easier for people to understand another society’s foibles. But, yes, even today it works. We’ve seen the return of the old hatreds to Turkey, where many thought they were banished forever.

Electoral politics brings out the best and worst in people. They can be the domain of reasoned debate but are also the playground of demagogues.

Deep down, most Westerners can’t really believe that people would elect the Muslim Brotherhood in a fair balloting. Such a result, they reason, can only be the result of a deep trauma or of a shallow propaganda trick that can be exposed and reversed. I’m amused to see that even now, in December 2011, with so much evidence available, the main critique of my work is that I exaggerate the power of the Islamists.

Friends and colleagues tell me that people simply don’t want to face the dangers of the situation. For regular people, it is just too unpleasant; for policymakers, though, it requires awareness and action. Egyptians, Iranians, Lebanese, Syrians, and Turks, among others, know what’s going on. Israelis are in a special position to comprehend it also. The same applies to a lot of other people around the world, notably in Central Europe.

There is also, however a profound belief that people and governments are going to be “rational actors.” What is defined as “rational” is a materialistic desire for more goods and for more freedom, as that is defined in the West. It’s not so simple. As Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini explained three decades ago, the revolution is not about lowering the price of watermelons.

That’s also why the Nazi analogy is so used and over-used, in a desperate attempt to find some historical example that can get through to Westerners the idea that non-materialistic factors and an appeal to irrational beliefs can sway a populace.

But aren’t there people like Majdalani in the Western world? Of course, there are. More and more of them. I call this the “Middle Easternization” of the West.

What has happened is that regimes have lost their monopoly on the Majdalani Effect. For decades, for example, the Syrian regime used Israel and the West as a scapegoat for the lack of freedom and well-being in that society. It worked. No longer does it work for the Syrian regime because that government is discredited with its own people—which doesn’t mean, by the way, that it is going to fail when employed by others.

But the technique will still work for the Islamists. Majdalani’s quick thinking might not save his own job, nor did it save the Mubarak regime—because the army wanted the dictator gone–but it will still save and create many a new dictatorship. It is true that new governments are coming into power because of their predecessors’ corruption, repression, and inability to deliver material benefits. But their successors are campaigning on claiming they are able to fight the West and Israel even more effectively.

The best presentation of these points was made in Ayman al-Zawahiri, an Egyptian and a top leader of al-Qaida. True, while al-Qaida planted the seeds, the Muslim Brotherhood reaped the harvest. But that doesn’t make his points any the less relevant.

In a remarkable passage in his book, Zawahiri explained:

“The Muslim nation will not participate [in an Islamist revolution] unless the slogans of the mujahidin are understood by the masses of the Muslim nation….

“The one slogan that has been well understood by the nation and to which it has been responding for the past 50 years is the call for jihad against Israel [and] against the U.S. presence…The jihad movement has moved to the center of the leadership of the nation when it adopted the slogan of liberating the nation from its external enemies and when it portrayed it as a battle of Islam against infidelity and infidels.”

It is misleadingly easy to think that the “Arab Spring” has cancelled out the Majdalani Effect and the Zawahiri strategy. We were told repeatedly that there were no anti-American or anti-Israel signs in Tahrir Square. They didn’t need signs. The slogans are already in people’s heads.

Barry Rubin


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

Assad's Stupendous Nose Growth

by Rick Moran

This must be read in its entirety to be believed. But these are some of the things Syrian President Bashar Assad told ABC News.


In a rare interview that aired Wednesday, Assad told ABC News that although he is president he does not "own the country, so they are not my forces." The Syrian leader said there is "a big difference" between having "a policy to crack down and having mistakes committed by some officials."

Assad questioned the U.N. death toll of 4,000 since unrest erupted in March, saying most victims were government supporters. He also denied the veracity of claims that Hamza al-Khateeb, 13, whose death galvanized protests and inflamed world opinion was killed after being shot, burned and castrated.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner repeated the U.S. view that Assad is engaged in a brutal crackdown on a peaceful opposition movement. He said he finds it "ludicrous" that the Syrian president is "attempting to hide behind a sort of shell game and claim he does not exercise authority in his own country."

If Assad were Pinocchio, his nose would be the size of a cue stick. Either he is oblvious [sic] to the fact that no one believes his lies, or he is so out of touch with reality, he actually believes what he's saying.

Either way, it means the bloodshed will continue.

Rick Moran


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

Court Forbids Muslim Student from Praying in Berlin School

by Stephen Brown

Germany’s leftist school teachers are breathing a tremendous sigh of relief – at least for the moment – due to a court ruling last week that forbids a Muslim student from praying in his Berlin school. German leftists, who used multiculturalism to get Christianity out of the public schools, were relieved Leipzig’s federal administrative court prevented Islam from filling the vacuum they created when it decreed the school had a right to prevent students from performing the Muslim mid-day prayer ritual, since it could disturb school peace.

“This is not a verdict against Islam,” stated Der Spiegel, Germany’s largest news publication, in hailing the decision. “It is a verdict for the sensible separation of state and religion.”

The ruling’s only drawback, however, was that the court stressed its decision applied only to this one school and not to the whole country.

The events leading to the anti-prayer legal ruling actually began in November, 2007, when a Muslim student, Yunus Mitschele, who was then 14, knelt down in a school corridor during a school break along with seven other Muslim students and began to pray towards Mecca, while several other “astonished” students looked on. A teacher fetched the school’s principal, Brigitte Burchardt, who waited until the prayer was finished to speak to the students, telling them, as one German newspaper reported, that “it is perhaps not a good idea what they are doing there…that church and state are largely separate…and about how it would affect other students.” Burchardt also forbid a repetition.

Afterwards, the principal spoke with the students’ parents, since she feared such a demonstrative prayer display could endanger the peace in the multicultural school. The school in question, the Diesterweg Gymnasium, an academic high school for students going on to post-secondary studies, contains students representing 29 different nationalities and five major world religions, including different strains of Islam. The German newspaper Die Welt reports that in the past this religious diversity “has lead to conflicts, and therefore the school administration had to intervene” in this case.

Burchardt came to an understanding with seven of the Muslim students and their parents; but Mitschele’s father, a German convert to Islam, would not accept her prayer prohibition and took the matter to court. In 2008, he obtained a temporary order from a lower Berlin court that would allow his son to perform his prayers once a day at school but only during a break.

“He (Yunus) was the first student in Germany to demand the right to conduct his prayers at school,” Spiegel stated.

Mitschele returned to court in 2009 to have his right to pray in school confirmed, basing his claim on the fact religious freedom is guaranteed in the German constitution. Since observant Muslims pray five times a day, he would have to pray during school hours, it was argued. In September of that year, the court agreed Mitschele did have this constitutional right and therefore should be allowed to pray in school. After the ruling, the Diesterweg Gymnasium allotted Mitschele a prayer room, although the court “did not demand it.”

But one German journalist, writing in May, 2010, wondered how important praying really was to Mitschele, since, in the eight months after the ruling, he had used this prayer room a grand total of only 14 times. In his defense, Mitschele says he couldn’t always find a teacher with a key to the room, which appears rather odd. After all, why would the school take the trouble to provide him with a prayer room, especially after this case had received so much media attention, and then not ensure access? It also appears neither the court nor the German media received a complaint from him or his father regarding his inablity to perform this supposedly all-important mid-day prayer, especially after they had gone to so much trouble to obtain this right.

This leads one to wonder whether the whole Diesterweg Gymnasium affair was simply a provocation, taking after the movement in Europe to bring Islam out of the mosques and into the public sphere. Public spaces, including whole streets, have been taken over in European cities for prayer by kneeling Muslims. These public demonstrations are not so much about piety, but rather more about establishing a dominant position for Islam in European societies by visibly occupying their public areas.

Public schools would be a tempting, and important, target in this drive, since in schools it would also be about the hearts and minds of children. But in Mitschele’s case, once the value gained by the visibility of his praying in the school’s public space, the hallway, was lost by the assignment of a prayer room, his interest in the mid-day prayer may have waned correspondingly.

In 2010, the German legal system appeared to have regained a bit of its sanity when, on appeal from the city’s education authorities, Berlin’s highest administrative court put aside the lower court’s ruling. The leftist coalition that rules the city not only rightly saw the schools’ “religious neutrality” endangered by the 2008 ruling, but also its whole multicultural integration policy for students. This policy is known by the strange moniker “Pacification Through Neutrality,” inferring Berlin schools are potential multicultural war zones.

The administrative court based its decision on the fact that this “religious neutrality” was necessary to maintain a peaceful environment in the Diesterweg Gymnasium, since it contained so many students from different religious backgrounds. The Muslim prayer ritual, the court decided, contained a “considerable potential for violence” if performed in the school and could cause a perception among students of different religious beliefs that they were being denied full religious freedom.

“This is a good day for German schools,” said Principal Burchardt after the ruling, probably very happy her school was going to remain among the pacified.

But Burchardt’s joy must have been short-lived, as Mitschele then launched an appeal of the Berlin court’s decision in the federal administrative court in Leipzig. And although his appeal was defeated last week, the Leipzig court still deemed prayer could, “in principle,” take place in other public schools, depending on the circumstances.

“The school must see whether it is truly necessary for peace in the school to restrict religious freedom,” said Werner Neumann, the presiding judge.

Considering the number of schools in Germany, although he lost his case, Mitschele may still have scored a success. His legal odyssey has possibly opened the door for hundreds of similar legal challenges concerning Muslim school prayer in the future.

This is not the first time Muslim provocateurs have challenged the “religious neutrality” of German schools. Some female Muslim teachers continued to wear headscarves in the classroom after they were banned in most German states. In 2009, the chairman of Germany’s Turkish Association proposed that all students in Germany, both Muslim and non-Muslim, get a holiday on the Muslim festival day that marks the end of Ramadan.

The chairman claimed such a move would be a sign of tolerance when, as one German journalist noted, it is actually a stealthy way to introduce a Muslim holiday into the schools. This, in turn, would promote Islam in the schools at the expense of other religions.

Unfortunately for Germany, the Islamic supremacists, who can never accept Islam being equal to other religions, will never stop trying to establish Islam’s superiority in the schools. So German school authorities can probably expect more court challenges and disruptions.

Ironically, it is Germany’s leftist multiculturalists who paved the way for the Islamic supremacists. Like elsewhere in the West, the multiculturalists were the ones who destroyed the dominant societal position their own native culture enjoyed to create the level playing field the supremacists are now trying to dominate.

And what is particularly evil is that Western multiculturalists culturally levelled their societies not out of love or respect for other cultures, which were mostly unfamiliar to them until they landed on their shores, but rather out of hatred for their own. And as the world has so often seen, and the West is currently seeing with Islamic supremacism, nothing good ever comes out of hatred.

Stephen Brown


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