Saturday, May 5, 2012

The killing grounds of Idlib, Syria


by Jonathan Spyer

Reports of summary executions in the rebellious northern province highlight the West’s impotence in handling the Syria crisis.
Human Rights Watch released this week a report that offers a devastating picture of the activities of the Syrian regime in suppressing the revolt underway against it.

The report also stands as an indictment of the impotency of Western and international policy vis a vis the regime.

The HRW document details the actions of the Syrian 76th Brigade, which forms part of the 4th Armored Division in the Idlib governate in northwest Syria, in the days leading up to the “cease-fire” that supposedly came on April 10th. It reveals a regime determined to crush dissent by all means deemed necessary in the time available to it. The picture that emerges is one of a country in the midst of a civil war, albeit one in which the two participant sides are grossly mismatched.

In February, the Assad regime began a sustained counter-attack against areas of support for the revolution against it. The brutal pacification of Homs was the first phase of this counter-revolution. The regime then turned its attention toward the rebellious Idlib province.

As United Nations Special Envoy Kofi Annan quibbled with the Assad regime over the precise terms of the cease-fire, the 76th Brigade moved from town to town in Idlib, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.

The HRW report shows how 95 civilians died and hundreds were wounded in the period between March 22 and April 6, as Syrian armor and infantry swept methodically through the towns of Sarmin, Saraqeb, Taftanaz, Hazano and Kelly. These areas had hitherto been precariously controlled by disparate elements of the rebel Free Syrian Army and civilian opposition networks.

Of those killed, the report suggests that 35 were the victims of summary execution by the army or by the Alawi Shabiha paramilitaries who followed it into the towns.

The methods used by the regime forces were the same as those witnessed by the world in Homs. But because of the terrorizing of Western journalists who remained in Homs, no one was present in Idlib to convey the reality of what was happening in real time.

In line with the Homs precedent, the towns targeted were first softened up by sustained artillery fire.

Once this phase was completed, infantry and armor entered the area, accompanied by operatives of Syrian Military Intelligence and supported by helicopters.

In some areas, Free Syrian Army forces put up sustained and determined resistance. In others, the rebels conducted orderly, rapid retreats, aware of their inability to successfully hold back armor and artillery.

But in either case, the result was the same. The civilians of these restive Idlib towns were, after a short interlude, left alone and defenseless before the forces of the regime.

At this point, the process of summary executions, random arrests and terrorizing of civilians began.

The government assault was not characterized by blind rage. Rather, a methodical approach was adopted in which approximately three days were allocated for the pacification of each town. Sarmeen was the first to be targeted, beginning on March 22. Operations in Kelly, the last area to be reduced, were neatly completed by April 6. Taftanaz, the subject of the regime’s attention between April 2 and 4, was the main site of mass executions.

In the dry legalese of the HRW report, “The fighting in Idlib appeared to reach the level of an armed conflict under international law, given the intensity of the fighting and the level of organization on both sides. This would mean that international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) would apply in addition to human rights law.”

The report goes on to note that “Serious violations of international humanitarian law are classified as war crimes.”

As an example of the kind of activities unearthed, the execution of 19 members of a single family, the Ghazals of Taftanaz, on a single day, April 3, is described in detail.

According to an eyewitness report, at 3:30 p.m, 20 men in civilian clothes entered a house where the members of the Ghazal extended family had sought refuge from the shelling. The women and elderly were forced to go down to the basement. The men and boys were held upstairs for “questioning.” Female members of the family later reported hearing gunfire.

At 8:30, they ventured back above. They discovered 16 bodies of male members of their family who had been executed. Five of the corpses had been taken to a deserted shop next door and burned. An additional nine, with bullet wounds to the back and head, were in the house itself.

Three more members of the family, including 75- year-old Ghassan Ghazal, were executed by the roving killer squads of the regime in the hours that followed.

This is one representative story from the 76th Brigade’s pacification of Idlib.

In early February, I spent a week in what were then, with defiant hope, called the “liberated zones” of Idlib. My stay included two days in Sarmeen, one of the towns that witnessed the rampage of the 76th Brigade. I spoke to FSA fighters, civilian activists and ordinary residents of the town.

The mood at that time was one of infectious but entirely unwarranted optimism. The contrast between the determined self-belief of the FSA fighters and the obvious inadequacy of their AK-47s and RPG-7s in the face of regime armor, artillery and helicopters was obvious even then. The men I interviewed were the ones who later sought – and, of course, failed – to protect the people of Sarmeen from the assault. Some of them are now dead. The remainder are in the countryside of Idlib, trying to continue the war, or over the border in Turkey. The mood now is one of fury.

The failure of the West to adequately engage with the Syrian opposition, and to act to prevent the war crimes committed by the Assad regime in Idlib, has not meant the death of the uprising.

Rather, it is serving to turn the revolt against Assad’s rule into what the regime always said it was – namely, an increasingly Sunni Islamist cause.

By avoiding engagement, except though the pathetic offices of Kofi Annan and his UN observers, the West has effectively abdicated the field to three Sunni regional powers and Turkey is sponsoring the political opposition. Qatar and Saudi Arabia, through frontmen and in a chaotic and haphazard way, are seeking to aid the armed rebellion.

Unsurprisingly, the main beneficiaries of these states’ assistance are Sunni Islamist forces. Reports from Antakya on the Turkish border suggest that in addition to sectarianism, Saudi and Qatari efforts are characterized by incompetence.

Rival local militias from northern Syria have their representatives in this border town, all seeking to establish their own channel of weapons and money to their own particular fiefdom. It is a recipe for the deterioration of the rebel forces in Idlib into a series of armed sectarian gangs, rather than their consolidation into a united armed body.

This may suit the agenda of the Assad regime’s regional enemies. It is also a gift to the regime itself.

Assad has long portrayed the opposition to him as “armed, terrorist gangs.” The hands-off approach of the West is helping to make this characterization not entirely a fabrication. The end result will be to allow the members of the 76th Brigade and their comrades to continue the systematic slaughter of civilians in Syria.

Jonathan Spyer

Source: http://www.jpost.com/Features/FrontLines/Article.aspx?id=268635

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

Al Qaeda's Latest Terror Tactic: Forest Fires


by Randy Kreider

Al Qaeda's latest terror tactic: Forest fires

The men who launched al Qaeda's English-language magazine may have died in a U.S. missile strike last fall, but "Inspire" magazine lives on without them — and continues to promote jihadi attacks on Western targets, offering detailed advice on how to start huge forest fires in America with timed explosives and how to build remote-controlled bombs.

[Issue] nine carries equally lethal advice, with "It Is of Your Freedom to Ignite a Firebomb," which gives detailed instructions on how to ignite an "ember bomb" in a U.S. forest, recommending Montana because of the rapid population growth in wooded areas.




Randy Kreider

Source: ABC, http://times247.com/articles/al-qaeda-s-new-terror-tactic-forest-fires

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

New York Times Coverage of Israel: What Comes After Ridiculously Biased?


by Barry Rubin

With the arrival of Jodi Rudoren as correspondent, New York Times coverage of Israel and related issues has now gone to a new level of ridiculous bias, especially after a predecessor who really did try to be fair.

What is most impressive about Rudoren’s record so far is that there is no attempt to give the faintest appearance of balance. She probably doesn’t understand what that concept means. And she certainly knows that the editors and ombudsman won’t hold her accountable.

We in Israel have grown used to media prejudice and, given our low expectations, probably accept more of it without complaint than anyone else in the world.

Yet the following lead was the absolute last straw for me, in an article titled “Palestinians Go Hungry to Make Their Voices Heard“:

The newest heroes of the Palestinian cause are not burly young men hurling stones or wielding automatic weapons. They are gaunt adults, wrists in chains, starving themselves inside Israeli prisons.

This is not news coverage but revolutionary romanticism. And consider the implications:

– The article does not tell us that they are in prison for a reason. These are overwhelmingly people who have murdered or tried to murder civilians during a period, by the way, when their supposed governmental representative, the Palestinian Authority, was not at war with Israel.

– They were in fact “burly young men…wielding automatic weapons” when thrown into prison after trials. Most of them admit — indeed brag about — their crimes and make it clear that they would continue such deeds if released.

– Consequently, these people are not heroes to Palestinians, a macho society generally, because they are pitiful, gaunt, and starving but because they were heroes of an armed struggle defined in genocidal terms.

– The Palestinian Authority and Hamas hold these people as role models to young people so that they will be inspired to grow up to kill more Israelis.

– “Gaunt adults, wrists in chains” seems pulled from the nineteenth century novels of Victor Hugo.

– Remember, these are the people still in prison because of the bloodiness of their crimes after Israel has released hundreds of others in prisoner exchanges or amnesties designed to indicate good will and promote negotiations. They are still in jail not out of cruelty or even out of a sense of justice and self-defense, but because they generally are the most merciless in deliberately slaying those who are weak and helpless.

– The author’s goal is to make readers say, “Those horrible Israelis are so mean and repressive, mistreating those poor people! We must do something!” And it is to make Jewish readers say, “We must distance ourselves from this evil country (or government) that so betrays basic Jewish principles of mercy and justice.” The former call for pressuring Israel in order to hurt it; the latter urge pressuring Israel for its own good and talk about a crisis of Zionism in producing such a terrible system.

In other words, this is not a news article but a work of political propaganda that could have been produced by a Palestinian public relations firm or an American Jewish group that acts as a Palestinian public relations firm. The purpose of this article is not to report or explain what is happening but to elicit sympathy and support for — shall I say it? well, it happens to be true — terrorist murderers or would-be murderers who were foiled despite their best efforts.

Let me again add that there is nothing “liberal” or “conservative” about these facts. Nothing at all. Pretending otherwise is another propagandistic thought-control effort to get people to deny reality in the guise of opposing horrible right-wingers. It comes from the type of people who can ignore the persecution of Christians in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, the Gaza Strip, and other places in the Middle East while fabricating and highlighting claims that Israel is making Palestinian Christians flee.

Recently the Columbia Journalism Review, a publication I revered in my youth, published an article claiming that Israel had more journalists in prison per size of population than any other country in the world. This was totally false and the name of no actual journalist imprisoned was mentioned because there are none. Meanwhile, next door, the world has ignored the Palestinian Authority’s public campaign of suppressing and arresting journalists.

To its credit, after considerable criticism, the Columbia Journalism Review apologized for the article and criticized it. And do you know who wrote that cogent response? An editor who had experienced real repression of journalism in the home country, Iran.

At times we seem to be living in the updated version of Ignazio Silone’s remark, “The final conflict will be between the Communists and the ex-Communists.” All too often, we cannot depend on Western-trained intellectuals in positions of power who either buy into leftist ideology or tremble in fear of being called racists or Islamophobes. This highlights the importance of dissident Muslims and refugees from Middle Eastern tyrannies who have some immunity on those two points. Unfortunately, of course, they are outnumbered by the apologists and the conscious radicals sowing disinformation.

As for the Western world itself today, there seem to be two remaining groups: those who believe whatever they are fed in this manner and those who are so disgusted by such crimes against proper and honorable journalism that they respond by cancelling their subscriptions.

Barry Rubin

Source: http://www.gloria-center.org/2012/05/new-york-times-coverage-of-israel-what-comes-after-ridiculously-biased/

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

National Security Is No Place For Double Standards


by Michael Widlanski

The Obama Administration says it wants to create a special new spy agency in the Pentagon which will focus on emerging threats and needs.

"The Pentagon is revamping its spy operations to focus on high-priority targets like Iran and China," wrote New York Times reporter Eric Schmitt this week, seeming to support the need to expand intelligence gathering capabilities as new threats emerge or older threats grow, and when the CIA is clearly not doing the job on its own.

One can imagine that if George W. Bush, Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld had asked for more data-gathering power they would have been condemned by Democrats and the press for making a naked power play. Indeed, one need not imagine, because this actually happened, several times.

Rumsfeld, Cheney, Assistant Defense Secretary Doug Feith and analyst Richard Perle felt the CIA dropped the ball before and after 9-11. The Bush security team saw CIA needed help. Rumsfeld tried to beef up the Defense Intelligence Agency, the DIA. He and his aides were often attacked by Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) for their efforts.

Worse, the Bush security team was regularly pilloried by liberal media press and Democrats for sabotaging the CIA, for abusing their powers and American liberties.

Times columnist Maureen Dowd and her colleagues slammed Rumsfeld, Cheney, Perle with epithets like "Darth Vader" and "the Prince of Darkness." They and other media voices alleged torture of suspected terrorists at Guantanamo prison, which The Times and presidential candidate Barack Obama demanded be closed.

"Water-boarding" was likened to medieval torture chambers, though it was not torture, only used rarely, and when used , produced tremendous data that saved lives. Today, we know there were few cases of abuse, and most of the journalistic accounts of abuse and torture by CIA agents and military personnel were exaggerated or false.

Newsweek Magazine had to recant one such account, but stories of wholesale burnings of Qurans or flushing them down toilets-vastly overblown or totally false-still led to many deaths of innocent civilians and US personnel due to a swell of media-inflamed-anger in Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

This week, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta -- who has far less of a security background than a Rumsfeld or a Cheney -- made the case for a new spy agency.

This is part of an amazing role reversal under the Obama Administration for Panetta, who had spent 20 years as a cost-cutter at the House Budget Committee and the Office of Management and Budget, without much interest in security matters.

A cynic might raise the possibility that Panetta was aggrandizing his domain at the Department of Defense at the expense of the CIA, shortly after ending his tenure as CIA director, but it is wrong to be a cynic when it comes to national security.

A cynic "knows the price of everything and the value of nothing," and it is clear that Panetta's exposure to intelligence matters in the last three years has made him a believer in high-value intelligence that costs money but saves lives.

After the killing of Osama Bin-Laden, Panetta confirmed what Cheney had long contended: that material from questioning at Guantanamo helped track and kill terror leaders, including Osama Bin-Laden.

To stop terrorists and to meet new threats we need intelligence, and leaders who ask for resources to do the job should not be abused just because they are from the wrong political party. To paraphrase President Obama, there should be no red states or blue states, no Democrats and Republicans playing partisan games on national security.

A few years ago, special intelligence projects by the National Security Agency -- to track terrorists foreign phone calls and bank transfers -- were deliberately "outed" by The New York Times, winning two Pulitzer Prizes. This month the Associated Press won another Pulitzer Prize for articles critical of NY Police anti-terror programs.

The articles were deemed prize-worthy, but they were not praise-worthy. The US and NYPD anti-terror programs all saved lives, and if they had been in effect before 9-11 and before 1993, many terror attacks -- including catastrophic assaults on New York and Washington -- might have been prevented.

President George W. Bush, his cabinet officials, the heads of CIA and NSA all asked the Times not to publish the material on the secret NSA surveillance programs, personally appealing to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and to Times editors, several times, including a special meeting in the Oval Office. That was in 2004-2006.

Bush and Cheney later discussed the matter in their memoirs, strongly indicating that they felt The Times had acted in a shallow and partisan manner.

"What we did was fully authorized under the law," declared President Bush at the time, meeting with soldiers. "The disclosure of this program is disgraceful," he added.

Later, Times Public Editor Byron Calame admitted this. "I haven't found any evidence in the intervening months that the surveillance program was illegal under United States laws," said Calame , referring to programs tracking money transfers by suspected terrorists.

Calame essentially removed the ethical basis of the Times Pulitzer Prize-winning revelation, but his finding was not on the front page. It was buried in a place where most Times readers would have trouble finding it -- in the body of an articleabout something else, deep in the bowels of the Sunday edition of The New York Times.

But Times reporters, crusading Times columnists, like-minded reporters at other media outlets, and liberal political organizations did not admit their error. "The revelation of the CIA's financial spying program is another example of the Bush administration's abuse of power," said the American Civil Liberties Union at the time.

It is a pleasant change that Democrats in Congress and liberal journalists have not yet attacked this new attempt to get a jump on America's enemies and rivals.

Let's hope that redoubling our intelligence efforts to deal with real threats also leads to abandonment of the double standard applied by some journalists and organizations.

Dr. Michael Widlanski, an expert on Arab politics and communications, is the author of Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat just published by Threshold/Simon and Schuster. He is a former reporter, correspondent and editor respectively at The New York Times, Cox Newspapers, and The Jerusalem Post, and he served Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel's Ministry of Public Security.

Michael Widlanski

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/national_security_is_no_place_for_double_standards.html

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

French elections: Virtue, the Debt, and the Jewish Question


by Nidra Poller

The French presidential elections, initially presented by pollsters and commentators as a pushover for the Socialist contender François Hollande, turns out to be a cliff-hanger.[i] The best comparison with the United States might well be the 1948 Dewey- Truman match. On the eve of the final round, pollsters admit that the gap between the two candidates is gradually narrowing. My prediction is a photo finish, with less than one point of difference. This is the most important presidential election in France since the end of World War 2. The outcome is not only crucial for France but for the free world. I think this is the most clear cut opportunity for a European nation to stand up and confront the wave of conquest unleashed in 1973. There has been some speculation about how this would happen: mass incarceration and deportation of Muslims, civil war, craven surrender... Now, in the European country with the largest Muslim population, the question is going to be treated democratically; not by revolution, not by tribal warfare, but by the exercise of hard won freedom through institutions created and developed over the centuries. French citizens, acutely aware of the high stakes, are riveted on a campaign that has become increasingly articulate and well-defined. It is impossible in the space of this brief article to give a detailed account of issues and events, particularly to an English-speaking readership that has received rather sketchy superficial information. (I will remedy that with an in-depth essay soon.)

The Left tried to focus the campaign on economic issues, which could only fall to the disadvantage of President Sarkozy who had been unable to fulfill his promise to implement extensive structural reforms that would release the untapped potential for growth and significantly reduce the unemployment that has plagued France for the past thirty years. But voters, fortunately, have had their say. While it would be false to claim that the score of Front National candidate Marine Le Pen, who came in third, has no economic component it is impossible to ignore the burning issue that sent so many votes her way: Islam. Nicolas Sarkozy cannot win the second and final round without attracting a significant percentage of the Front National vote. François Hollande, who counts on reaping the total far Left vote, will gladly take in the economically disgruntled who "mistakenly" went for FN but will grant them nothing in exchange. Now, on the eve of the final round, polls are still predicting victory for François Hollande. One issue could make the difference:

Immigration, actually a code word for Islam and/or Islamization, is not a new issue. François Mitterand, the only Socialist president (1981-95) of the 5th République, admitted there might be a "seuil de tolérance" [threshold of tolerance] beyond which immigrants would be rejected. He was confident that a generous policy of regularization of illegals combined with the salutary effects of education, public housing, employment and voting rights would ensure their integration. Close to thirty years later François Hollande is making the same promise. Mitterand, in his baroque manner, engineered the formation of SOS Racisme (Harlem Désir, the first president of the anti-racist movement, is now N° 2 in the Socialist party apparatus) while at the same time underhandedly heightening visibility for the Front National to divide and conquer the Right.

Hollande, like Mitterand in his day, cannot win without the support of the "gauche plurielle" (euphemism for the far Left). France has the most vigorous, retrograde, unashamed, grotesque, far Left contingent of any Western European country. In a broad sweep from the Front de Gauche--an alliance of the Communist Party with newer, fresher versions of same-to the NPA (New Anti-capitalist Party) and including the Green coalition, these parties advocate preposterous economic policies entwined with militant Palestinianism, virulent anti-Zionism, and exuberant Islamophilia. The revolutionary Jean-Luc Mélenchon (Front de Gauche), expected to be the third man, the kingmaker, attracted tens of thousands of fans to his Chavez-style rallies, culminating in a rally on the beach in Marseille with a battle cry for the Maghreb (he was born in Tangiers). Europe is not Christian, he proclaimed, it is diversity. Mélenchon promised a 100% tax bracket for income above 30,000 euros per month, regularization of all illegal immigrants, and a cornucopia of goodies picked from the pockets of the rich. Nathalie Arthaud of Lutte Ouvrière would imprison bosses who don't impose male-female parity. Philippe Poutou (NPA) would prohibit companies from firing workers.

These are a few examples of the policies promoted during the first round campaign, where all ten contenders--nine of them opposed to Nicolas Sarkozy--were given equal time in the media. Why is it considered perfectly normal for François Hollande to scoop up the voters of the far Left-a total of 21.4%-- but outrageous for Nicolas Sarkozy to try to harvest enough Front National votes to win the election? Why? Because Islam has been placed on the positive side of the scale of virtue. This is the European Condition at the dawn of the 21st Century. The failure to correctly designate the "something" that threatens to destroy European civilization causes turmoil, distress, and confusion. If Islam is a religion, if Muslims are victims of discrimination, if immigration from the Arab-Muslim world is exactly like previous waves of immigration, then individuals, groups, or political parties opposed to Islam are simply bad. And "bad" for Europeans means the nationalist, fascist, xenophobic far Right of the good old Nazi days. (Geert Wilders, who has nothing in common with those values or methods, is systematically labeled a far-Right xenophobe... because he combats Islam.)

Fortunately, but tragically, reality clarified the issue. The truth about the Islamic motivation of Mohamed Merah, who executed French soldiers, Jewish children, and a young rabbi in Toulouse and Montauban in mid-March burst into the presidential campaign.[ii] The fact that the mujahid, who resembled, at least outwardly, hundreds of thousands of second and third generation Muslim "youths" creating endless problems for themselves and for French society, could chase down an eight-year old Jewish girl, catch her, grab her by the hair and shoot her point blank in the head, was utterly horrifying.

The Sarkozy government immediately drafted measures that will criminalize preaching and training for jihad, advocating genocide, aiding and abetting terrorists. Members of the recently banned Salafist organization Forsane Alizza were arrested and jailed awaiting trial. Six Islamic firebrands invited to speak at the annual Convention of the UOIF (French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood) were denied visas and President Sarkozy publicly regretted the impossibility of refusing entry to Tarek Ramadan because he travels on a Swiss passport. Refraining from the usual honey-coated reports on the UOIF Convention, the media described Ramadan's speech as violent, virulent, and offensive.

Far from any spirit of resignation, French Jewish voices are speaking clearly and boldly. There are calls for increased police protection as a short term measure and demands to curb the evil at its roots in media incitement to Jew hatred via anti-Zionism. The SPJC (Service de Protection de la Communauté Juive) is recruiting security personnel for Jewish schools, charitable institutions are raising money to pay for them. When Richard Prasquier, the president of the CRIF, expressed concerns of some Jewish citizens that the far Left, essential for Hollande's victory, would influence the policies of his government[iii] he was accused of mixing religion with politics. Sammy Ghozlan, president of the BNVCA (National Office for Vigilance against anti-Semitism), tireless defender of the safety of Jews and indomitable opponent of the BDS movement, has consistently noted the greater incidence of anti-Semitic violence in municipalities governed by communists, with peaks after demonstrations, exhibitions, and anti-Israel rallies.

Meanwhile on the Left, the BDS organizers of the Bienvenu en Palestine Flytilla solicited moral support from the presidential candidates. Centrist François Bayrou, who considers himself the epitome of Virtue, deemed the enterprise worthy and reputable. Nathalie Arthaud (Lutte Ouvrière) declared that Gaza is an "open-air [sic] concentration camp. Green candidate Eva Joly enthusiastically seconded the motion (a member of her campaign committee, Julien Bayou, had participated in the Gaza Flotilla). A few weeks after Jewish children were brutally murdered at the Ozar Hatorah school, the Socialist mayor of Angoulême refused to cancel an apologetic photo exhibition simply named "Hamas."

Mélenchon had sworn he would kick the hell out of the Front National. Voters decided otherwise. Now Marine Le Pen is promising to smash Sarkozy's UMP and take the lead of the recomposed Right. This is unlikely. The FN is a mixed bag with too much volume and not enough political brain. There is no governing principle that can maintain the alliance between a whacko Pujadiste economic policy, hardcore resentment, persistent anti-Semitism, petty ambitions and a loose mass of disappointed conservatives who can't forgive Sarkozy for not doing nearly enough to slash immigration, impose law and order, and resist Islamization. Now the Left accuses Nicolas Sarkozy of veering sharp right in a desperate attempt to woo back those FN votes. They know full well that all of these questions were debated last year in a series of Conventions by which the UMP developed its platform[iv] because they held protest meetings at the time. UMP chief Jean-François Copé said then that the Front National raises the right questions but give the wrong answers... or no answers at all.

During the two weeks of the second round campaign, the debate has intensified day by day. Two radically different approaches to the question of Islam are proposed. François Hollande defends the open-arms humanitarianist, inclusive approach advocated by Mitterand in his time. For Nicolas Sarkozy, a strong national identity is the bulwark against submission to Islam. During the three-hour face to face with Hollande, Sarkozy said it is irresponsible to give voting rights to immigrants at a time of extreme tensions and determined radicalization of these populations. His rival, scandalized, asked if he was associating "immigrant" with Islam. Sarkozy replied: you would have to be deliberately blind not to recognize the fact that the overwhelming majority of immigrants are from Muslim countries in North or sub-Saharan Africa.

The choice on Sunday May 6th is not between two men but between two mutually exclusive visions of the future or, more exactly, the survival of France as a nation. If ever the proverbial Jewish vote would make sense, this is the moment. French Jews would not be afraid to be recognized as Jews, wouldn't fear for their lives, the safety of their children, their very future in France if "immigration" did not import Islamic Jew hatred. The Socialist party, which claims to stand for the vivre ensemble [living together] and accuses President Sarkozy of catering to a neo-fascist Front National, cuddles up to the anti-Zionist Left that sees no evil in the population that spawned Mohamed Merah. The point is not to accuse all Muslims of being jihad killers nor to pretend that there is no connection between Islam and jihad, but to ask how the French nation can resist conquest and avoid collaboration.

[i] Official results 1st round : François Hollande-28.63%; Nicolas Sarkozy-27.18; Marine Le Pen-17.90; Jean-Luc Mélenchon-11.11 ; François Bayrou-9,13 : Eva Joly-2.31, Nicolas Dupont-Aignan- 1.79 ; Philippe Poutou-1.15 ; Nathalie Arthaud-0.58 ; Jacques Cheminade-0.25

[ii] http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/04/toulouse_la_rose_in_the_shadow_of_death.html

[iii] http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/jews-to-face-new-challenges-in-post-elections-france-1.426488 and http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/french-jewish-leader-in-hot-water-over-apparent-endorsement-of-sarkozy-1.427180

[iv] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704471904576228381142773932.

html http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/detail/french-ruling-party-discusses-separation-of-church-and-state

Nidra Poller

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/05/french_elections_virtue_the_debt_and_the_jewish_question.html

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

What the Palestinians Want


by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Palestinians want the US to endorse all their demands and force Israel to give them everything. Palestinians are reminded almost every day that the US, which has been providing them with billions of dollars, is a foe rather than a friend, although no one seems to ask how come a foe is so generous. US aid should be conditioned not only on transparency and accountability, but also on an end to the campaign of hatred and incitement, as officially agreed in the Oslo accords, but never implemented.

No matter how much the US tries to help the Palestinians, it will always be viewed by many of them as an enemy.

Last week, President Barack Obama gave $147 million to the Palestinians. A few days later, Palestinians demonstrated in Ramallah against the US and boycotted a ceremony held by the US Consulate-General.

The protesters carried placards which read: "USAID go out!" and "We reject aid from those who deny our people the right to self-determination."

USAID is the leading provider of bilateral development assistance to the Palestinians. This agency has given the Palestinians more than $3.5 billion since 1994 for programs in the areas of democracy and governance, education, health, humanitarian assistance, private enterprise and water resources and infrastructure.

The demonstration in Ramallah was held outside a hotel where US officials organized a ceremony marking World Press Freedom Day.

Palestinian Authority policemen were deployed outside the hotel to prevent angry demonstrators from disrupting the ceremony.

The protesters chanted slogans denouncing US "bias" in favor of Israel. They accused the US of "covering up" for Israeli "war crimes" and using blocking efforts against the Palestinian leadership to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state.

More than 20 Palestinian professional unions and other organizations announced a boycott of the US-sponsored event for the same reason.

Many Palestinian journalists who were invited to cover the event also decided to stay away. Their representatives accused the US of supporting Israel and working toward "normalizing" relations between Israelis and Palestinians.

In a similar show of hostility, US diplomats who visited Ramallah several months ago had shoes thrown at their vehicles.

As far as most Palestinians are concerned, the "friend of my enemy is my enemy." Palestinians hate the US because of its continued support for Israel. The Palestinians want the US to endorse all their demands and force Israel to give them everything.

As one of the leaders of the demonstrators explained, "The US will remain our enemy for as long as it does not fully support the Palestinians."

US threats to veto Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's statehood bid at the UN have only intensified anti-US sentiments among the Palestinians.

The Americans can pour billions of dollars on the Palestinians every year, but that won't change their hearts and minds, especially toward the US. The same applies to the rest of the Arab world, where the masses continue to strongly detest the US.

The $147 million that Obama released to the Palestinians will probably help pay salaries of civil servants and improve infrastructure in Palestinian cities and villages, but the aid will surely not change the Palestinians' attitudes toward the US.

The anti-US sentiments are the direct result of incitement by the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinians against the US. Palestinians are reminded almost every day that the US, which has been providing them with billions of dollars, as a foe rather than friend, although no one seems to ask how come a foe is so generous.

US aid should be conditioned not only on transparency and accountability in the Palestinian Authority, but also on an end to the campaign of hatred and incitement, as officially agreed in the Oslo Accords, but never implemented.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3049/what-palestinians-want

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

The Muslim Brotherhood in America: A Video Course


by Mark Tapson

Just in time for the President’s reelection campaign to pick up steam, the Obama administration last week declared an end to the War on Terror. A few drone strikes, and voilà – mission accomplished! Yet, in an awkward coincidence, in the same week as that announcement came the release of an online video course exposing the alarming degree to which we are losing the broader war against the enemy we officially refuse to identify.

Of course, it was never a war on “terror” anyway; as many have pointed out, terror is a tactic, not an enemy. We weren’t waging a War on Blitzkrieg in World War II. And terrorism was never the only threat posed by our Islamic enemy, which Obama limits to “al Qaeda and its affiliates.” In fact, our focus on violent jihad has left us vulnerable to the subversive Muslim Brotherhood’s more insidious “civilization jihad,” which continues apace.

Obama himself has been supportive of the Brotherhood’s rise to political power internationally and has opened the door for them at home. He has literally welcomed them into the White House (at least his predecessors made them work for such access by infiltrating), pretending that we are now partners in the political process instead of enemies. But while the Obama administration trumpets this and the waning influence of al Qaeda as the end of the ill-named War on Terror, Frank Gaffney declares that we are no closer to victory than we were on 9/11.

Gaffney runs the Washington D.C.-based Center for Security Policy (CSP), a nonprofit organization for national security research and policy advocacy founded in 1988. In 2010 Gaffney and CSP published Shariah: The Threat to America, a highly acclaimed report on the dangerous reality of political Islam. Now he and his team have rolled out a free, ten-part, online “video briefing” entitled “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: A Video Course,” designed to educate American citizens about “a threat most Americans are even unaware even exists within our country, let alone the peril it represents”:

The threat is the totalitarian, supremacist doctrine its adherents call shariah, and the organized, disciplined, and increasingly successful efforts such adherents – most especially the Muslim Brotherhood – to bring it here.

Gaffney describes the course as a “distillation of all we’ve learned” in the 24 years since the CSP’s inception. Narrated by the quietly intense Gaffney himself, the videos range from fifteen minutes to two hours in length (eight hours total), and define how and why our very civilization is in danger.

Part 1 lays the groundwork in “The Threat Doctrine of Shariah & the Muslim Brotherhood.” Part 2 elaborates on the Brotherhood’s plan to “eliminate Western civilization from within” in “The Brotherhood’s ‘Civilization Jihad’ in America.” In Part 3, the course takes a closer look at the Brotherhood’s penetration and manipulation of the Republican Party and the conservative movement in America – a development which will come as a shock to those who are concerned only about the complicity and naiveté of the left.

In Part 4, the course examines a case study in such infiltration, the story of a Brotherhood-linked conservative activist named Suhail Khan. Part 5 offers examples of the many ways in which Khan’s mentor, influential tax reform advocate Grover Norquist, and his team are actively promoting the Islamist agenda, and Part 6 scrutinizes how Norquist’s Islamist protégés are running for office as Republicans. In Part 7, Gaffney et al. examine how Norquist’s ongoing Islamist influence operation is advancing the agendas of the civilization jihadists.

In “Part 8: Team Obama & the Islamists,” the course looks at “Brotherhood-associated individuals who have been allowed access to – and, in some cases, given prominent positions in the Obama administration” – figures like the influential Daliah Mogahed. Then in “Part 9: Team Obama & the Islamist Agenda,” the course takes a hard look at Obama’s plan to “fundamentally transform” this country, in a “two-hour deep drill-down into the disastrous policies of the Obama White House, its State Department, Defense Department, Justice Department, Department of Homeland Security, and more.”

The course isn’t solely educational. It also seeks to empower American citizens “to take myriad steps to counter this civilization jihad.” It concludes with “Part 10: What’s to be Done?” in which Gaffney offers practical suggestions on “how to defeat the most serious and imminent of such dangers in our time”: the attempt to impose shariah through violence or stealth. Those suggestions include educating others, engaging the media and elected representatives, and developing a support network. Some of these steps can be undertaken as individuals, some through organized efforts, and others as a nation.

The website also provides Endnotes for documentation, and Resources which include links to books and films on the subject, like Robert Spencer’s Stealth Jihad and Islam: What the West Needs to Know. The Resources section contains links as well to organizations like CSP and the David Horowitz Freedom Center and to activist groups such as Brigitte Gabriel’s ACT for America and Stop the Islamization of Nations.

The site also lists 16 “Key Findings” about shariah and the Muslim Brotherhood, in light of which “there is an urgent need for rigorous congressional oversight and investigations aimed at exposing the extent of the civilization jihad – and the need for corrective action aimed at countering it.” A sampling of those findings:

2. Shariah is principally about power, not faith. Accordingly, acting to realize its political end of overthrowing the U.S. government is seditious and must be prosecuted, not treated as protected religious practice…

15. The conduct of seven key federal agencies suggests the considerable success of the Muslim Brotherhood in destroying us from within by our own hands – starting with the policies and directives emanating from the Oval Office…

A unique and monumental project by Frank Gaffney and the Center for Security Policy, “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: A Video Course” is both an essential guide to comprehending the depth and breadth of the threat posed to America by the Muslim Brotherhood, and a useful plan of action to counter that threat.

Mark Tapson

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/05/04/the-muslim-brotherhood-in-america-a-video-course/

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

The Orwellian Atrocities Prevention Board, Part I


by David Meir-Levi

On Monday, April 23, President Obama officially announced the creation of the “Atrocities Prevention Board” (APB): a comprehensive strategy to prevent and respond to atrocities. On the same day, the APB Board of Directors held its first meeting, chaired by Samantha Power, who declared that the APB would “coordinate action across the entire government on stopping genocide and liaise with the NGO community.” And on that same day, President Obama appeared at a ceremony at the Washington Holocaust Museum, a most fitting place to announce the inauguration of the APB, in respond to criticism about Obama’s having not done enough to stop the atrocities in Syria, and against earlier administrations that sat idly by during the war crimes and genocide in Rwanda and Darfur.

Obama spoke in forceful language there, promising:

“The Syrian people have not given up, which is why we cannot give up. So with partners and allies we will keep increasing the pressure so that those who stick with Assad know that they are making a losing bet.”

“In short, we need to do everything we can to prevent these kinds of atrocities, because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your own people,” Obama said. “Remembrance without resolve is a hollow gesture. Awareness without action changes nothing.”

Inspiring words, superficially. But before we celebrate a new “never again” broadcast from Washington, it is important to look at some of the details of this new government initiative.

The first problem is Syria[i] (we will examine the second problem, APB leadership, in part II of this article).

Numerous critics have asked why innocent blood spilt by Qaddafi in Libya warranted military intervention but many thousands more innocents dead and dying in Syria do not. Thus Wiesel asked poignantly, in his introductory words to Obama, “So in this place we may ask: Have we learned anything from it [the Holocaust]? If so, how is it that Assad is still in power? How is it that the Number 1 Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad is still a president? He who threatens to use nuclear weapons to destroy the Jewish state.”

And Obama answered as he has in the past, with a non-answer: “The United States would continue increasing diplomatic, political, and economic pressure on the Assad regime, but said the U.S. commitment to end atrocities “does not mean we intervene militarily every time there is an injustice in the world.”

Obama’s lame assertion that the US does not need to intervene does not really answer the question. We did not need to intervene in Libya either, but we did.

But perhaps the President had purposely chosen a lame and almost risible response (we do not need to so we won’t, and instead we’ll do things that we know will not work, like tighten sanctions even though they are not working) precisely in order to avoid an honest answer. Perhaps the President does not want the honest answer made public…at least not until after his victory in the coming election.

The honest answer may be more akin to something like this. Libya was an easy mark, little risk, good PR. Syria, however, is different. Its army is more formidable than Qaddafi’s. It is known to be heavily armed with shoulder-fired missiles obtained from Russia and China. And perhaps most important, it is closely allied with Russia and Iran. Obama does not want to alienate either. It is likely that he is preparing for some post-election agreements with Russia concerning nuclear disarmament and elimination of our missile defense systems (remember that “hot mic” incident with Russian president Medvedev?), so he does not want friction with this future partner now.

And regarding Iran, Syria is closely allied with Iran too, and serves as Iran’s proxy in the non-Shiite part of the Fertile Crescent. Obama does not want to precipitate another major armed conflict, especially not with Iran, prior to the elections. If the U.S. were to strike Syria, Iran would probably be forced to take some sort of action, not only to support its proxy and ally, but also to protect its base of operations in Syria and Lebanon, a base which it has been building for more than 30 years. Moreover, Assad’s enemies include the Muslim Brotherhood whose ultimate goal is the creation of a Sunni Caliphate – obviously in competition with Iran for global Muslim domination. So Iran could not stand idly by as the USA intervenes on behalf of Iran’s enemies to bring about the demise of Iran’s ally, and thus an Iranian counter-response would be almost assured. It is also important to recall that Obama has been venting jeremiads against Israel for the very thought of a military strike against Iran. Obama would then be in the untenable position of striking Iran to protect Syrian Arab Muslim civilians from Assad’s massacre, but not striking Iran to protect Israeli Jewish (and Muslim and Christian) civilians from Iran’s nuclear massacre[ii].

Obama doesn’t want voters to think he’s indifferent. So he creates the APB in order to show that he is doing something; but it is also something that Assad and Ahmadinejad can easily ignore. Even with the best of intentions and impressive names and the imprimatur of our President, it is obvious to even the most naïf that boards and committees and NGOs do not stop men with guns. So no harm is done to Obama’s plans to avoid confrontation with Iran and to maintain good relations with Russia, good relations being needed for reasons that Obama does not want to reveal until after his re-election.

In fact, Obama has worked hard over the past year or so to make sure that he can continue to avoid confrontation while maintaining plausible deniability. First, the Syrian opposition was deemed too fragmented, so how could Obama know whom to back? Then, the White House warned the opposition not to take up weapons, lest it forfeit the moral high ground that Secretary Clinton claimed it had captured. Then there was the problem of al-Qaeda infiltrating the Syrian rebels’ ranks; but Obama failed to note that it was Assad who first made common cause with al-Qaeda, causing Obama no consternation. And now, with his new APB, Obama has created plausible deniability for his inaction, even though it means losing an opportunity to advance American vital interests by helping to bring down Iran’s chief regional ally.

And perhaps worst of all, Obama’s endorsement of the doomed Annan initiative means that the US position is effectively the same as Moscow’s. The White House has even told its own allies, especially Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, not to arm the opposition, thus aligning the USA with the Russians.

So the Iranians continue working on a nuclear bomb, and the White House warns Israel against bombing the reactors where the bomb is being made. Bashar al-Assad continues to kill Syrian civilians with Russian weapons and Iranian money, and Obama warns our allies not to interfere and aligns us with Russia and Iran; and just to make sure that no one thinks he is soft, our President unleashes — an advisory board.

As Sen. John McCain recently observed, “… good bureaucratic organization may be necessary to stop mass atrocities and gross human rights abuses, but it is not sufficient. Ultimately, ending violations of conscience requires the political will and moral courage of world leaders, especially the President of the United States. Unfortunately, that will and leadership are lacking in the case of Syria today.”

Notes:

[i] For good summaries of the problems and contradictions in Obama’s Syrian policy see “Syria: It’s Not Just About Freedom“; “While Syria Burns“; “What’s Wrong with Having an Atrocities Czar?“; and “The Spirit of Kellogg-Briand.”

[ii] Special acknowledgement to Dick Nelson, USNA ’64, for part of this analysis.

David Meir-Levi

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/05/04/the-orwellian-atrocities-prevention-board-part-i/

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

Hunger Strikers’ Goal is Not Peace


by Jonathan S. Tobin

For decades, foreign cheerleaders for the Palestinians have sought to portray those fighting against Israel as potential disciples of Gandhi as they seek to portray the Jews as stand-ins for the role of colonial oppressor. But there have always been two main problems with this scenario. The first is the fact that most Palestinians view violence against Israelis as not only a legitimate tactic but also something that is integral to their national identity. The second is that even if they were to adopt a policy of non-violence, the Palestinian goal is not their own state living in peace beside Israel but the end of the Jewish state and its replacement by one in which Arabs will rule.

These obstacles to the creation of a movement of Palestinian Gandhis remain. But that didn’t stop the New York Times from going back to a familiar theme today with a feature by new Israel bureau chief Jodi Rudoren in which a hunger strike by some security prisoners is used as a launching point for a discussion about a possible change in tactics by the Palestinians. Since, as she notes, the peace process is “stalled” and “internal Palestinian politics adrift,” activists hope to use “the hunger strike as a potential catalyst to bring an Arab Spring-style uprising to the West Bank.” But the question Rudoren fails to ask is what do the hunger strikers or their supporters think will come from what they hope will be a new intifada? Do they see it as a path to a Palestinian state or something else? If the goal is a state, then they need not bother with non-violent resistance or violence. What they need to do is to instruct their leaders to negotiate with Israel.

The peace process remains “stalled” for one main reason: the Palestinians won’t negotiate unless Israel guarantees in advance that they will give in on every territorial dispute. But even then there is no guarantee or any likelihood that the leadership of the Palestinian Authority as currently constituted, let alone after it consummates its unity deal with Hamas, would be able to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn.

A new intifada, whether conducted by people throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails or mere demonstrators, is no substitute for a commitment on the part of the Palestinians to live in peace with their Jewish neighbors. With even Israel’s supposedly right-wing government willing to accept a two-state solution, the time is long passed for stunts whose only purpose is to embarrass or intimidate the Israelis.

As it happens, even the supposedly non-violent Palestinians gave away some of the game in Rudoren’s account:

On Thursday in Ramallah, 300 women marched to Al Manara Square, chanting, “Yes for hunger strike, no to submission” and “Down with the olive branch, long live the rifle.”

Is there another way to interpret a chant that calls for an end to peace and the use of “the rifle” but as a call for violent attacks on Israel?

The featured hunger striker, one Thaer Halahleh, is described as a sympathetic character. We are told that he “stopped political activity” soon after his marriage in 2009. But given the Palestinian definition of that term, a more experienced observer than Ms. Rudoren might have concluded that this meant he was a terrorist operative. Because people involved in such activities rarely voluntarily retire, the suspicion of Israeli authorities that he was not innocent is understandable. While the policy of administrative detention which can result in long periods of incarceration without trial may seem contrary to an American sense of justice, it should be pointed out that neither does the usual expression of Palestinian “politics” which is terrorism. As the return to violence on the part of Palestinians released in the Gilad Shalit exchange deal illustrate, the idea that Halahleh, if sent home will not engage in violence, is either naïve or deceitful.

However, the article does accurately portray the difficulties encountered by those seeking to create this new intifada. Their biggest problem is apathy from a Palestinian population that understands this latest plan for confrontation will not improve their lives and won’t lead to self-determination. Despite the obstacles the imperatives of Palestinian political culture of Palestinian society put in the way of peace, perhaps some are starting to recognize that the glorification of those who engage in violence and the identification of communal rights only in juxtaposition to the denial of the same to Jews is a dead-end street.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/05/04/palestinian-hunger-strikers-goal-is-not-peace/

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

Awlaki Acknowledges His Radical Past


by IPT News

When Anwar al-Awlaki emerged as the clear inspiration behind a series of terror plots in 2009, his former associates in America insisted he was radicalized well after leaving the United States in 2002.

But in what might be his last published work, Awlaki explains that his involvement in violent jihad dated back to 1991, and that he hated the American government as far back as his college days.

"Spilling out the Beans: Al Awlaki Revealing His Side of the Story," appeared this week in the final edition of al-Qaida's English-language magazine Inspire.

The clarification flies in the face of claims by American Muslim leaders that he had been radicalized by Islamophobia after the 9/11 attacks, and motivated to violence following his 18 month imprisonment in Yemen, starting in 2006. At the heart of some Muslim leaders' argument was a desire to distance themselves from Awlaki's new public radicalism, and to twist the debate to focus on America's role in creating a vengeful monster.

"While employed at Dar Al-Hijrah, Imam Al-Awlaki was known for his interfaith outreach, civic engagement and tolerance in the Northern Virginia community," a statement from the imam's former mosque in northern Virginia said after Awlaki died in a U.S. drone strike last fall. "However, after Mr. Al-Awlaki's departure from the mosque in 2002 he was arrested by Yemeni authorities and allegedly tortured. It was then that Al-Awlaki began preaching violence," they claimed, while condemning America's assassination of Awlaki in a drone strike.

These claims were echoed by major outlets like the New York Times and National Public Radio. They portrayed Awlaki as a victim of his circumstances, and accepted the moderation of the "eloquent" preacher who claimed he could have been "a bridge between Americans and one billion Muslims worldwide."

But that image has not jibed with other accounts of Awlaki's life. Quotes from his early American speeches, accounts of his family life, and personal insights from friends show someone who idolized the Afghani jihad and Osama bin Laden's mentor Abdullah Azzam. Long before Awlaki preached America's destruction, he already believed that jihad was a key point of Islam and that America was against Muslims.

Spilling the Beans

In the Inspire article, Awlaki weaved the events of his life into a consistent narrative of hate.

"I have had experiences with the US government at quite a young age that most of you would not have in a lifetime. I have seen the other face of America," Awlaki wrote. From the beginning, Awlaki struggled with his relationship with America, while holding his own views close to heart.

Awlaki was born in the United States, but moved with his family to Yemen when he was 7. His father, a university professor in the capital Sana'a, became the country's agriculture minister. His father's clout helped him obtain college scholarships meant for foreign students even though he was an American citizen. Awlaki was influenced by his local environment to a much greater degree than previously believed. A New York Times biographical article states that the Afghani jihad against the Soviet Union was at the top of many people's minds in Yemen in the 1980s and early 90s, but not the Awlakis'. They were focused on using contacts to get a scholarship for their son.

But in his Inspire article, Awlaki wrote he already harbored pro-jihad sentiments and feared the United States saw him as a potential asset.

"Even though I was not fully practicing back then … I had an extreme dislike to the US government and was very wary of anything concerning intelligence services or secret orders," he wrote. "Thus, I was cold when it came to my relationship with the Office of International Students (which in my belief is a front for recruitment of international students for the government and is also a front from spying on them and reporting on them to the authorities). I also received an invitation to join the Rotary Club which I turned down."

The 1991 Gulf War in Kuwait triggered his hatred while a student back in the United States. "That is when I started taking my religion more seriously and I took the step of traveling to Afghanistan to fight," he wrote. "I spent a winter there and returned with the intention of finishing up in the US and leaving to Afghanistan for good. My plan was to travel back in summer, however, Kabul was opened by the mujahideen and I saw that the war was over and ended up staying in the US."

That account differs sharply from a 2010Time magazine profile. Awlaki wasn't interested in al-Qaida or Afghanistan after visiting in 1993, Time reports, and he "was depressed by poverty and hunger in the homes where he stayed."

Solidifying His Views

After returning to America, Awlaki claimed that he lost his scholarship in part due to his grades and because of what he called his fighting role and service as a Muslim Student Association president. Regardless, he now considered himself a fundamentalist and took up a new position reflecting this status when he moved from Denver to San Diego.

When Awlaki returned from Afghanistan he wore clothes popular with the mujahideen and often quoted Abdullah Azzam. He was also accused by a member of his Denver mosque of encouraging a Saudi youth to join jihad in Chechnya, shortly before he left for San Diego.

There, he became imam for the mosque Masjid al Ribat al Islami in 1996, chosen by "a group of students from Saudi [Arabia] and the Gulf states who formed their own mosque because they "were not happy with how things were run" at the moderate San Diego Islamic Center. Awlaki claimed that his conservatism and good fit with the community was important, because the government actively tried to infiltrate the mosque and recruit him to spy on his community, which he helped to prevent. He also claimed this was the reason why he was "falsely" arrested for soliciting prostitutes.

By 1998, Awlaki was fed up with the United States and ready to leave, but it took "three years and September 11" to "unwind" himself from the United States. During this time, Awlaki solidified his views of America and jihad.

Awlaki began preaching about the glories of jihad and the enemies of Islam in a lecture series from the late 1990s called "Lives of the Prophets." Evil surrounds Muslims in the West, he said, arguing that U.S. foreign and domestic policy are controlled by "the strong Jewish lobbyists." His disdain of Jews, whom he terms "the enemy from Day 1 to the Day of Judgment," is a common theme.

In one sermon, Awlaki prayed to Allah to "free" the al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site of Islam, from what he terms "the Jewish terrorists" who he claims "have taken (it) over" and "give it back to the Ummah of Islam." He called for the broad institution of Sharia law as the basis for society. "Justice is in the heart of the judge," he said, "and that is why we can only have justice through a true Islamic system."

In another, Awlaki preached patience and persistence in pursuit of victory, saying people can get "fired up fast" by "a very hot" sermon about jihad and be "ready to go on the battlefield."

But those emotions can be lost "by the time you step your foot out of the masjid … Very easily fired up, and very easily we cool down," he lamented.

In the "Lives of the Prophets" lectures, well before 9/11 and before his time in a Yemeni prison, he called for a sustained commitment to jihad:

"Talking big is easy, but the sacrifice, and especially long-term sacrifice which jihad needs, that is difficult. Jihad is not only sacrifice, but it is a long term sacrifice. And that is where people fail. If you are asked to sacrifice in one time, you could be fired up by a speech, and then you would give out your money, for example, and you would sacrifice. That could happen. But when you're asked to sacrifice for a long period, then you're suffering hardship for a long time, that is what causes people to fail"

Sacrifice, he said, could take many forms and people should be willing to do whatever is required: "It could be your life, your time, your money, your family, it could even be the Islamic family or brothers that you are with, it could be the scholars that you love. Anything is possible."

Although his language became more direct in later sermons, calling for unlimited attacks on Americans, Awlaki proved that he already embraced violent jihad as a fundamental part of his worldview.

IPT News

Source: http://www.investigativeproject.org/3568/awlaki-acknowledges-his-radical-past

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

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Islamists Seek Vengeance


by Michael Rubin

The Obama administration’s reaction to the Chen Guangcheng case is disgraceful, and will taint America’s name among liberty-seeking dissidents for a generation. While all eyes are on China, however, administration fecklessness regarding liberals, friends, and allies is spreading quickly. When it comes to standing up for principle, Obama’s reaction to Chen is the rule, not the exception.

Take Egypt: Adel Emam is perhaps Egypt’s most famous film comedian, sort of a cross between an Egyptian Steve Martin and Leslie Nielsen. Among his most famous films are Al-Irhabi (The Terrorist) and Al-Irhab wal kabab (Terrorism and Kebab). The first—released at the height of Egyptian Islamists’ campaign of terror—skewered the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist terror masters as cynical, hypocritical, and naïve. The latter took potshots at both religiosity and the inefficiency of the Egyptian bureaucracy. Islamists may tell Western journalists and think-tankers they will honor civil liberties, but nowhere do they tolerate satire or ridicule if they themselves are the target. Hence, their targeting of Adel Emam for films made years ago. Emam now faces three months in prison for “defaming Islam.”

In Turkey, too, Islamists are turning their attention to vengeance. In Turkey, accusation rather than evidence is enough to put anyone in prison. Less than 50 percent of those arrested are ever found guilty, but given the absence of bail, most rot in prison for years before their court dates. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Obama’s friend and confidante, has used this to full advantage. He has used the amorphous Ergenekon plot—more fiction than fact—to accuse past political opponents of malfeasance starting with the man who had faced him in mayoral elections in the 1990s. In recent weeks, the government has begun arresting those involved in pressuring the Islamist party of Erdoğan’s late mentor Necmettin Erbakan to resign. Never mind that the reason for Erbakan’s resignation was his efforts to overturn the constitutionalist order, and that those who urged Erbakan to resign were acting within the law at the time.

While European (and American) diplomats have reconciled the crackdown to the fact that many of those arrested were military officers—as if this exempts them fair targets for a venal prime minister—there are clear signals that civilians are now front-and-center and de facto government mouthpieces like Cengiz Çandar are naming civilians for police to target. There are also signs in the Turkish press that Erdoğan, the Putin of Anatolia, will also move against retired generals like Yaşar Büyükanıt for the crime of issuing a statement urging the government to adhere to the constitution. This was against the backdrop of senior aides like Bülent Arınç, now Erdogan’s chief deputy, to dissolve the constitutional court if it continued to rule against his legislation.

Obama’s worldview may have no place for men like Emam, but his crime was simply to use non-violent means to delegitimize the ideas and actions of a violent Islamist fringe responsible for the deaths of hundreds during Egypt’s Islamist insurgency. The world needs more satire, not less.

Nor may Obama like men such as Bir and Büyükanıt, but these generals were staunch allies who stood by the United States during the Cold War and who fulfilled their sworn duties to maintain the checks and balances within the Turkish system. Friendship should mean something; the United States should not simply sit back silently as a megalomaniacal ruler on borrowed time seeks vengeance upon anyone who has opposed him and his increasingly undemocratic agenda. Turkey may be a model, but it certainly is not one that the White House should want any state to follow. Rather than sit silently, it is time the White House speaks up for dissidents, whether they be blind Chinese activists, Egyptian comic actors, or Turkish generals.

Michael Rubin

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/05/03/islamists-seek-vengeance/

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

Stealing Their Way to Statehood - Part I


by Gil Bringer

This is Part I of a meticulously researched article that describes in detail how Bedouins of the Jordan Valley are used by the Palestinian Authority to take over territory in Area C surreptitiously.

While in Israel they are still talking about renewing negotiations, in the PA they are establishing facts on the ground. The goal, which was declared a long time ago, is to take over areas in the C region and create territorial contiguity. The method: establishing and developing Bedouin settlements with the legal and monetary support of the residents, who increasingly identify with the idea of a Palestinian state. The National Prosecutor's office closes an eye and the civil administration ignores it as well, and conducts a policy of double standards of justice towards the Jews and the Arabs. The Palestinians: Jerusalem is the Gate to heaven and the Jordan valley is the gate to Palestine.

They come from all over, equipped with vehicles and water trailers, they slow down near the Rimonim Checkpoint, pull over and park next to the Mekorot* pumping station. Higher up, in the guard post, a soldier on watch sees them filling the water trailers by means of a water pipe that awaits them at the spot. No one at the guard post stops them. This is the procedure and this is how the soldiers are instructed to act. From here the Arabs continue onward. They return to their small outpost, situated in a bend in the road. During the journey on Vered Road, which stretches from Rimonim to Jericho they wave to a family member traveling in the opposite direction. He is also making his way with an empty water tank, towed behind his vehicle. He is also on his way to a pumping station. He will also return to the illegal outpost that he lives in with a container of water that was filled courtesy of the government of Israel. This is routine in the realm of the Jordan Valley.

The Bedouin outposts are spreading quickly in this area, desperate for water. Without it, they couldn't exist. Until lately, the tribes would drill a hole in the pipe of the Mekorot and steal water. Sometimes, they wouldn't even bother to connect a pipe to the hole that they drilled, so that the water would flow in the direction of their encampment. The result was a continuous and uncontrolled flow of water. Israel, for its own reasons, chose not to fight this phenomenon and instead decided to supply to the illegal Bedouin settlements with the water required for development. The pumping stations, scattered in different locations in Judea and Samaria, supply the Bedouins all the water they need, purposely and legally. However this new method of obtaining water, even though it is simpler and more orderly, enables the Bedouins to extend the limits of their invasive border expansion into areas that have never had Mekorot water pipes and it requires the Bedouins to have equipment that they traditionally wouldn't have - huge tanks, large water containers and trailers. However, there is someone who is interested in the spreading of the Bedouins, and taking possession of new territories. And he understands the demand for water equipment and therefore supplies to them everything that is required, wholesale. An exploration of the sources of the water containers reveals the method, the means and the goal. Who is behind the new Bedouin settlement in the Valley?

First Stop: The Writing on the Tank

While traveling along the Jordan Valley Road, quick glimpses in the direction of the settlements on the sides of the road are enough to create the whole picture. Hundreds of identical water containers are scattered in the area. The same color, the same size, the same shape. It is obvious that they have all been produced in the same factory and it's clear that one hand is directing their distribution. If you get off the road and take a glimpse from up close, it allows you to see clearly the writing in Arabic printed on each of the containers: "The Bedouin Support Program. Funding: PA. Execution: The Ministry of Local Government".

Next to the yellow containers used for water storage, scattered among many Bedouin outposts in the Valley, are water trailers of another type - silver-colored tanks on wheels. The phenomenon repeats itself - exactly the same trailer in each of the outposts that we checked. On every one of the trailers the telephone number of the producer is printed clearly. When we called that number, one of the workers answered and at our request, passed the telephone to Mr. Rushdi Rafet, who presents himself as the owner of a metal-work shop, the name of which is "Barzaliat Haj Rafet", from the village of Arabe, in the Galilee. I present myself as someone who is interested in buying a trailer and request from Rushdi recommendations on his recent work in the area of the Jordan Valley. He tells me that he produced the containers that are towed by tractors during recent years and that they were supplied to the areas of Jericho, Tekoa, Ramallah, Mishor-Adumim, to a quarry in Anatoth and other places. He has a few different models and colors. Some are galvanized and some are not. "It all depends on what you want to spend", he explains. A few of the containers were ordered by the red cross but most of those that he prepared were ordered by the PA. Rafet suggests that I speak with them about his good work. The containers of the other sort were distributed by him as per the request of the PA in the area of Jericho and Mishor-Adumim, the area in which the Bedouin outposts are concentrated.

The brotherhood that was created between the Bedouins and the Palestinian Authority is very strange to anyone who hears about it, because many of the Bedouin leadership abhor the PA and have been complaining for years that they are neglected. A senior source in the Bedouin sector who speaks with us accuses the PA of corruption in every matter that has anything to do with money that passes to it from outside sources who want to invest in Bedouin welfare. Their Bedouin brothers South of the Jordan Valley who live in the Negev have never heard a word about the Bedouin support of the PA. In that area there are no water containers of any sort, not yellow and not silver-colored. Why does the PA have a support program for the Bedouins in the Jordan Valley?

* Mekorot (literally, "sources") is the Israeli Water Authority

Read Part II here.
Read Part III here.
Read Part IV here.

Gil Bringer

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Source: Makor Rishon weekly Hebrew newspaper; http://myesha.org.il/?CategoryID=335&ArticleID=5365&Page=1

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

Beware 'the Radical Center'


by MK Tzipi Hotovely

Elections for the 19th Knesset will be remembered in the annals of Israel's history as an attempted takeover of Israeli society by "the radical center."

Israeli readers are certainly chuckling to themselves. After years of the media warning us about the radical Right, and reality cautioning us against calamities brought on by the radical Left, what do we have to fear from people who position themselves in the cozy and harmless mainstream?

Top strategic consultants are now sitting in the offices of party chairpeople. A single question occupies their thoughts: How can they capture the hearts, and votes, of the typical centrist voter?

A flood of centrist parties are fragmenting the center, from Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid (There Is a Future) party, to the remnants of Kadima (which may itself undergo a further split) to Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Independence party, which is convinced that it embodies no less than Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion's vision for Israel's future. This, by the way, is just a partial list of centrist parties, one that does not even take into account additional candidates who may found the next new promising center party.

We must marvel at Israeli politics' unconscious addiction to an illusive center. If we try to understand the main problem with this center, it is that its members aren't fighting for anything in particular, but rather running away from choosing a decisive path.

The center represents a flight from the need to tackle our society's fundamental questions. Bills like that proposed by Yair Lapid -- "We won't draft everyone, but we'll try to please both the ultra-Orthodox and those who serve in the army" -- are a good example.

Israeli society today does not need a center. It needs decision makers on a number of diplomatic, domestic and social issues: whether to attack Iran, whether to annex Judea and Samaria or to divide the land (the option to perpetuate the status quo will not persist over time), whether to break up Israel's economic concentration through forceful intervention, whether to restore the people's army to its original mission or allow the Israel Defense Forces to be the army of half of the people. Each of these decisions requires a clear path forward, not fence sitting.

Therefore, despite the desire of some of today's centrist parties to inherit the legacy of Mapai (the Zionist Socialist precursor to the Labor party), it is important to realize that Mapai was never centrist. Ben-Gurion knew how to make tough decisions. Under his leadership, Mapai was able to take the decision to establish a state against all odds, to embark on a nuclear project despite the risks, and to move the Knesset to Jerusalem as a historical statement of the eternity of Israel's capital.

Menachen Begin also knew how to make decisions. He made a peace agreement with Egypt, chose to attack Iraq's nuclear reactor and made an effort to reduce ethnic and social gaps in a country where the Belorussian Meir Feinstein and Iraqi Moshe Barzani both gave their lives to help establish the state. The two were imprisoned in the Russian Compound in Jerusalem awaiting execution, but committed suicide together by detonating grenades, rather than let the British hang them.

The collapse of Kadima and routing of Tzipi Livni were not the personal defeat of a particular politician. Rather, they represented the collapse of the approach that tried to take leave of ideology and making decisions.

The greatest danger to Israel today is not the messiahs from the Akirov Towers or Caesaria (where Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu own lavish homes), as former Israel Security Agency director Yuval Diskin shamelessly referred to them. Rather, the greatest danger is from the false messiahs of the center who promise a different kind of politics, even though no such thing exists. There is the politics of a clear path and leadership, of making tough decisions, and there is the politics of spin and public relations, leaving behind an empty shell when one's term in office is over.

There is a famous Talmudic story explaining how the Second Temple came to be destroyed and the Jewish people sent into exile. This is the story of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza, who engaged in petty, baseless hatred. The story ends with an odd accusation against a lesser-known sage, Rabbi Zechariah Ben Avkalus, who avoided making a decision at a critical moment. Avkalus was trying to be a centrist, so as not to upset anyone. He wanted to stay on the good side of both Halachah (Rabbinic law) and the Romans. The unhappy, bitter end followed not long after.

Even then, the sages of Israel understood that centrism can lead to destruction.

MK Tzipi Hotovely is a Likud member of Knesset.

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=1823

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

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