Friday, May 11, 2012

Mordechai Kedar: The Frustrated Intellectual

by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Angelo Pezzana)

A few years ago Tarek Heggy, an Egyptian intellectual, visited Israel and I attended a lecture that he gave. He made a great impression on me, mainly because he spoke frankly and openly about the many deep flaws that exist in Arab cultures. His message was different from that of most Arab spokesmen, because most Arab spokesmen strive to cover up the flaws in their societies, to conceal them and repress them, mainly because of the shame and the feeling of inferiority that these flaws arouse in them.

Tarek Heggy is a totally secular person whose specialty is the management of large businesses. He travels widely and is in great demand as a lecturer in academic institutions and political and media platforms. He is a very prolific writer, and the Internet is full of his articles and essays as well as the many interviews that he does, both in the print and broadcast media, and they are translated into many languages. During recent years he has addressed the situation in the Arab world in general and in Egypt in particular, and when the revolution against Mubarak broke out on January 25, 2011, he supported it enthusiastically. Over time, as it became clear that the big winners of the revolution are the religious factors - the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis - he became very disappointed in the revolution.

Arab Rulers

Hagi points an accusing finger at the rulers of the Arab states who are - in his opinion - responsible for the miserable state of the Arab nation. In November 2011, during the period of the Egyptian elections, and as fears increasingly grew that the Islamists would achieve a majority in parliament, he wrote: "The Arab rulers in the last 60 years (since the Officers' Revolution in Egypt in 1952) are a panoramic picture of ignorance, corruption, tyranny, mental primitivism and anachronistic tribalism. It was under the shadow of their rule and because of them that the Islamist and Salafi movements came into being - those movements which are in total opposition to science and the values of modernism and humanism, which struggled for public freedoms, pluralism, acceptance of the other, the rights of women, coexistence among those who differ with each other, universality of information and knowledge, the raising of human intelligence generally and especially critical thinking. Ignorant, corrupt, primitive and tyrannical rulers have brought us to the current political circus that we are experiencing.

In March 2012 he writes: "One of the fruits of the revolution of 25 January 2011 is the end of the phenomenon of blind praise for the ruler. No Egyptian ruler in the future will have the same kind of aura of glory and holiness with which the Egyptians were wont to wrap the ruler, despite the fact that he was a person without education, or even a hint of intelligence or culture or knowledge, like the ruler that was recently booted out (Mubarak), and the fact that he was the ruler of Egypt is a humiliation without equal".

The Muslim Brotherhood

Tarek Heggy has expressed his opinion of the Muslim Brotherhood in many ways. In March 2012, after it became clear that they, together with the Salafis, took the majority of the seats of the Egyptian parliament by storm, he wrote: "The behavior of the Islamist majority in the current Egyptian parliament is embarrassing because of four key components of their mentality: 1. To their disgrace, it is clear that they do not understand the concept of ability, because the people that they chose for the committee for drafting the Constitution, both within the parliament and outside of it, are people with only a partial education, with a one-dimensional cultural outlook. 2. They clearly operate in tribal style, because the main characteristic of their behavior is loyalty (and not free thought) . 3. They are the sworn enemies of pluralism, which is the basis of modernism, democracy, civilization and culture. 4. Anyone can see how they will operate in the future: it will be a carbon copy of the original style of the defunct "National Party" (of Mubarak), a style of "it doesn't matter what you say, we will act according to our wishes".

The situation in Egypt is fragile, among other reasons because of the lack of a new constitution to settle the new balance of powers between the parliament with both of its houses, the government, the president, the military and the legal system. All of them want to prevent the state from returning to the dictatorial, authoritarian style of Mubarak, but too many of them, chiefly the military, are unwilling to give over to parliament (which has an Islamist majority) the main authority of the state. This is why the constitution and the composition of the committee that is responsible for writing it are so important. The composition of the committee, on one hand, must represent the desires of the majority of citizens who identify culturally with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis, but on the other hand will prevent a dictatorship of one side in this complicated civil equation. In the first phase, the committee that was chosen had a majority of Islamists, but the secular members quit in protest because as a minority, they feared that they would not be able to exert an influence on the drafting of the constitution. On the other hand, the Islamist parliamentary majority is not willing to yield this critical point, because a change in power in the Islamist direction is the heart's desire of most of the Egyptians who gave their votes to the Brotherhood and the Salafis.

Tarek Heggy related to the behavior of the Muslim Brotherhood with great severity and in the way that they tried to impose an Islamist majority on the constitutional committee. In March 2012 he wrote: "If the Islamists write the new constitution of Egypt by themselves, the constitution of Egypt will be full of their ideas; ideas that have no connection with the current era, progress, development, science and modernity. The women and the Copts will be the first victims, and the future of Egypt will depend on the actions of the lovers of freedom, women's rights, citizens' rights, and equal rights for those who are not Muslim (Copts, for example). These freedom advocates may cause a new revolution, which might thwart the attempts of the few with strong arms (the Islamists) to drag Egypt back to the darkness of the Middle Ages".

A few of the Islamist representatives in parliament showed how they relate to the Copts after the death of the spiritual leader of the Coptic minority, Pope Shenouda III. The parliament dedicated a minute of standing in silence to the memory of Shenouda III, and the Islamists did not stand up. Tarek Heggy wrote about this event: "The refusal of a few of the members of the current Egyptian parliament to stand in memory of the deceased pope in Egypt, the great man, Shenouda III, was a cultural, ethical and humanitarian disgrace to those simple creatures, whose attitude earned the scorn and contempt of all people of culture the world over. How can a person fall to such a low level, this lack of humanity?"

In December 2011, after the results of the elections to parliament became clear, questions immediately arose in connection to a constitution that would have a religious-Islamic cast. One of the heads of the Muslim Brotherhood declared: "A woman must be hidden because she arouses the beast of the male that is hidden deep within his soul". This saying was floated to test the public reaction to the idea of legislating a dress code. Tarek Heggy says in response: "One of the strangest things in our culture, that lies crouching deep in the pit of regression, is that we don't hear voices that answer to this logic: "And why doesn't the solution to this problem come in the form of education to you and to that male beast that is hidden within you?

Tarek Heggy relates sometimes also to dictatorial Arab regimes, that get backing from "al-Quds al-Arab", the Arab daily that is published in London without advertisements, which is to say, with the support of the heads of state that it backs up. The editor of the newspaper, Abd Al-B'ir' Ataun, is a fast-thinking, sharp-tongued Palestinian refugee, whom the writer of these lines, "won" the dubious pleasure of debating several times in the Arab media. In November 2011 Tarek Heggy related to Ataun with these blunt words: "The Palestinian journalist Abd Al-B'ir' Ataun, who exalts Qadhaffi, Saddam Hussein and the "Sheikh" Usama bin Laden, does not represent only himself; he totally and exhaustively reflects the confusion that has developed during the last forty years, that first took form in the thoughts of the Islamists and the phony Arab nationalists, and ends in the regimes such as those of Sadam Hussein and Muammar Qadhaffi. To understand this confusion is difficult for anyone whose mind was shaped by human culture and belongs to the movement of civilization, culture and human progress. I don't think that there is one research center in the world that can understand this confusion."


Tarek Heggy understands well the damage that is caused to the Arab world as a result of its rulers' focus on the Israeli problem, because Israel, by its very existence, has supplied these rulers with an excuse to neglect their states and repress the rights of their citizenry. Several years ago he wrote: "The peoples of the states that border Israel - Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Egypt - must come to the realization that ending the Arab-Israeli conflict is the only way to end the many other tragedies in their lives. And it is the only chance to begin a flowering of democracy, economic growth and social peace and to avoid falling into the hands of those who object to knowledge, civilization and culture (=Islamists). And in short: to join in the journey to modernism, progress and science ... what is necessary today is that someone should arise who will lead public opinion in the Arab world to the belief that peace with Israel is a question of life or death for this region. He must open the eyes of the community so that they can see the dangers that lie in wait for us if we go along with the school of "inflated speech", which arose in the countries of the region and cost its people dearly, and it might cost even more if they will choose to accept blindly slogans that from the external point of view are nationalistic or religious, but the effect of these slogans is to destroy our whole reality."

It is a fresh and exceptional approach to say that peace with Israel is in the Arab interest. The meaning of this statement is that Israel does not have to "pay" for peace with its neighbors with territories, because they should desire peace no less than Israel. If the leaders of Israel adopt this form of thinking they will be able to say to their neighbors: "What will you give to Israel in exchange for the peace that Israel will give to you?" An approach such as this must cause a total change in the way that Israel views the situation in the Middle East, and Israel will have to work hard in the United States and in Europe in order to sell Tarek Heggy's idea in the Western capitals.

Below is an article that Tarek Heggy wrote in 2005. If an Israeli or some other foreigner had written an article like this he would be condemned as a racist and slanderer out of hand by one and all. An Arab intellectual can write these things, even if it might arouse some anger among his readers.

Tarek Heggy/The Arab Mentality

In the process of the ten last years I have written many books and articles on the flaws of the Arab mentality, all of which are cultural flaws, which is to say, flaws that are acquired, from three main sources, which are: a general atmosphere of tyranny, a backward educational system and media that were created in the general atmosphere of tyranny to serve the goals of the tyrant. Some of the obvious flaws of the modern Arab mentality are:

  • Limited tolerance of differing ideologies
  • Low acceptance of ideological pluralism
  • Limited acceptance of the "other"
  • Inability to accept criticism, and it is rare that anyone engages in self-criticism
  • Opinions that stem from a tribal or religious basis instead of from various ideologies
  • A deep-seated feeling of inequality compared to others in achievements or in productivity, which is expressed in a feeling of strong and exaggerated honor. But this (exaggerated honor) is just respect based on words, rather than respect based on achievements.
  • We are given to exaggerate in bragging about ourselves; we give to the heritage of the past greater weight than it actually had.
  • We often exaggerate in speech in an effort to cover up for the outrageous lack of practical achievements. Sometimes this culture causes a situation where a person's words are more important than his deeds.
  • We are inflicted with a limited ability to relate objectively and a tendency to personalize.
  • An unhealthy nostalgia stirs within us for the past and a desire to return to it.
  • The culture of compromise is unknown among us, there is no respect for it because we feel that compromise is a kind of defeat and loss.
  • We believe in not relating to women with respect
  • We are prisoners of mental patterns and stereotypes
  • It is extremely common among us to believe that behind everything there is a plot and that the Arabs are always the victims of these plots of others.
  • We do not understand the nature and essence of national identity - are we Arabs or Muslims, Asians, Africans or members of a Mediterranean culture?
  • There is often a connection between the citizen and the ruler, based on exaggeration and imbuing the leader with a quality of holiness outwardly, with a general tendency to glorify people.
  • There are many people who know very little of the world, its trends and the true balance of power.
  • We have a limited ability to value the individual, and so the connections between us are, for the most part, connections of tribe, family, customs or nationality. Humanity is not held to be the most obvious and strongest common denominator.
  • We often have a mentality of fanaticism that stems from a number of factors, chief among them are the Arab tribal mentality at various levels of severity.
  • Because the Arab mentality is characterized by insufficient freedom and cooperation, there is reticence towards freedom and its mechanisms.
Any expert in Middle Eastern affairs can add additional flaws to this list. But all of these flaws are acquired flaws, and therefore they are given to change. They exist at different levels in other societies as well, and there too, they stem from a general atmosphere of tyranny, backwards education and media that are not suitable to our era and whose purpose is to serve the goals of the dictator.

These flaws will remain and their effects will worsen if basic changes do not begin to take place in the political systems, in a way that will allow the individual more freedom, and will allow the public to become used to taking part in the shaping of the present and the future. Great changes must take place in the philosophy of education, curricula and teaching methods. Finally, the media must be liberated from the burden of the governments so that it will be politically and economically free. That is how ideological, cultural and public freedom will be ensured.

About one such as Tarek Heggy it may be said: May he be multiplied in Ishmael...


Dr. Mordechai Kedar ( is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Links to Dr. Kedar's recent articles on this blog:

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

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

The Real Palestinian Refugee Problem

by Clifford D. May

After World War II, the British left India, which was to be partitioned into two independent nations. One would have a Hindu majority, the other a Muslim majority. More than 7 million Muslims moved to the territory that became Pakistan. A similar number of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India. Today, not one remains a refugee.

After World War II, the British left Palestine, which was to be partitioned into two independent nations. One would have a Jewish majority, the other a Muslim majority. About 750,000 Muslims left the territories that became Israel. A similar number of Jews left Arab/Muslim lands. Today, not one of the Jews remains a refugee. But there are still Palestinian refugees — indeed, their numbers have mushroomed to almost 5 million. How is that possible?

Through two mechanisms: A refugee, by definition, lives on foreign soil but for Palestinians the definition has been changed so that a displaced Palestinian on Palestinian soil also receives refugee status. Second, the international organization responsible for resettling refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was cut out from the start. A new organization was set up exclusively for Palestinians: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. In 1950, UNRWA defined a refugee as someone who had “lost his home and his means of livelihood” during the war launched by Arab/Muslim countries in response to Israel’s declaration of independent statehood. Fifteen years later, UNRWA decided — against objections from the United States — to include as refugees the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of those who left Israel. And in 1982, UNRWA further extended eligibility to all subsequent generations of descendants — forever.

Under UNRWA’s rules, even if the descendant of a Palestinian refugee has become a citizen of another state, he’s still a refugee. For example, of the 2 million refugees registered in Jordan, all but 167,000 hold Jordanian citizenship. (In fact, approximately 80 percent of Jordan’s population is Palestinian — not surprising since Jordan occupies more than three-fourths of the area historically referred to as Palestine.) By adopting such a policy, UNRWA is flagrantly violating the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which states clearly that a person shall cease to be considered a refugee if he has “acquired a new nationality, and enjoys the protection of the country of his new nationality.”

But UNRWA’s plan is to continue growing — rather than shrinking — the Palestinian refugee population ad infinitum. According to UNHCR projections, by 2030 UNRWA's refugee list will reach 8.5 million. By 2060 there will be 25 times the number registered by UNRWA in 1950 — even though not one of those who actually left Israel is likely to still be breathing.

Everyone understands what it would mean if all these refugees were actually to be granted a “right to return” to Israel. "On numbers of refugees, it is illogical to ask Israel to take 5 million, or indeed 1 million,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on March 24, 2009. “That would mean the end of Israel.”

But, of course, that’s the goal: The descendants of those displaced more than 60 years ago — when the first offer of what we’ve come to call a “two-state solution” was rejected — are being used as pawns to prevent a two-state solution now or in the future. By increasing the number of refugees, by maintaining that population in poverty, dependence and anger, by understanding that the “right of return” will be demanded by some Palestinian leaders, UNRWA is helping the extremists prevent peace and continue to wage a war of annihilation against Israel. This anti-peace policy is being funded largely by Americans: The U.S. has always been the largest donor to UNRWA, contributing about $4.4 billion since 1950.

A few members of the U.S. Congress have figured out what’s going on and plan to do something about it. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) is working on an amendment to the fiscal year 2013 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that, for the first time, would establish as U.S. policy that only a Palestinian refugee can be classified as a Palestinian refugee — not a son, grandson or great-grandson, and not someone who has resettled and taken citizenship in another country. The Kirk amendment would require the secretary of state to report to Congress on how many Palestinians serviced by UNRWA fit the traditional definition of a refugee.

Rep. Howard Berman, (D-Calif.), ranking member on the House of Representative Committee on Foreign Affairs, also is considering legislative options in response to these problems. At the very least, these approaches would assure that descendants of refugees would be listed — with unaccustomed clarity — as “descendants of refugees.”

They might still be eligible to receive UNRWA “services” but as “Palestinian Authority citizens” who could look forward to becoming citizens of a Palestinian state — if and when the Palestinians come to the conclusion that establishing a Palestinian state is worth the cost: giving up the dream of destroying the Jewish state. Too few Palestinians are there yet. If Congress can rein in UNRWA, more may be moved in that direction.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.


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

Haniyeh: Hamas will not go to war for Iran

by Reuters

"Iran did not ask anything of us, we think Iran is not in need of us," Hamas prime minister says, adding that Netanyahu's coalition deal was for internal reasons, but may have had "external motives."
Hamas will not let itself be dragged into a war against Israel if it attacks the nuclear facilities of Hamas ally Iran, Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Thursday.

"Hamas is a Palestinian movement that acts within the Palestinian arena and it carries out its political and field actions in a way that suits the interests of the Palestinian people," he said at his headquarters in the enclave.

"Iran did not ask anything from us and we think Iran is not in need of us," the prime minister of the Hamas government told Reuters in an interview.

Israel has repeatedly said it rules out no option in its determination to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

"The Israeli threats are declared and they are not in need of analysis. But I think such an issue would have grave consequences on the entire region," the 48-year-old Hamas leader said. "I cannot predict the scenarios but a battle of this kind would have repercussions for the region."

Israel says it would have to reckon with potential attacks from the south by Iranian-supported Hamas and from the north by Tehran-proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon, if it came to war with Iran. Israel says both groups possess stockpiles of rockets supplied by Iran and accuses both of practicing terrorism.

Haniyeh said the grand coalition formed this week by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, which gives him an unassailable majority in parliament, had been established for internal reasons but could also have "external motives".

"On the external level there is no doubt that it was an attempt to absorb the big changes that have taken place in the region - the so-called Arab Spring - and maybe a preparation for several issues," he said.

Asked if Iran might be one of the issues, he said: "Maybe."

On the stalled reconciliation deal with Fatah

Wearing a sober grey suit to complement his carefully trimmed grey beard, the Hamas leader was measured in his responses as he was interviewed in a salon of his office suite.

He displayed an amused irony over the effort to mend the internal split in the Palestinian national movement.

"It's not dead. But it's not moving," he laughed.

Hamas and the Fatah movement led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have curbed the overt hostility that divided them for years, after fighters of the Islamist movement drove the secular Fatah militia out of Gaza in 2007.

But true reconciliation has eluded them.

"We have gone a long way to reach a Palestinian-Palestinian agreement but there are some external and internal obstacles," Haniyeh said, citing United States and Israeli pressure on Abbas not to make any partnership with a movement shunned in the West as a terrorist organisation.

Internally, he said, some factions in Abbas's Palestinian Authority - which administers the West Bank - were dragging their heels because they benefited from the division.

Haniyeh said the Palestinian cause had been "the biggest beneficiary" of the Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

The reconciliation accord of 2011 was brokered with Egypt's mediation, as was the prisoner swap for Gilad Schalit, he noted.

"Governments that had close ties with the Israelis at the expense of Palestinian rights have gone," he said. "Respect for the Palestinian cause among Arab people has been restored."

"Arab nations are increasingly embracing the concerns of the Palestinian people in regard to Jerusalem, prisoners and the (Israeli) blockade on Gaza," he said.

Benefits so far from neighboring Egypt may have been few, but they would come in time "when political life settles" and a new president, parliament and government were in power.

One immediate advantage from the toppling of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 was access to blockaded Gaza from the Egyptian Sinai via the Rafah crossing, he said.

"We hope that with the will of the Egyptian people and political stability in Egypt things will get better and the policies towards Palestine will also be improved," he said.

Asked if Hamas had abandoned armed struggle, Haniyeh replied: "Of course not."

Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation would continue "in all forms - popular resistance, political, diplomatic and military resistance".

Hamas does not recognize Israel, unlike Abbas, who told Reuters in an interview in his West Bank compound on Wednesday that he opposed armed struggle with the Jewish state.

Haniyeh refused to say if Hamas would recognize Israel.

"First of all does Israel recognize the Palestinian people's right to exist in a state and a political entity?" he said. "Let them first answer this question and then we will answer it."

He repeated that the Islamist movement was ready to conclude a truce with Israel which "could last for 10 years or more" in return for a state on lands occupied by Israel after the 1967 Middle East war.

But he said nothing of a comprehensive peace treaty, which Israel insists is the only way to end the 64-year-old Middle East conflict.



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59 Dead in 2 Suicide Car Bombs in Damascus

by Rick Moran

The fact that most of those dead are from the Syrian security forces means that one of the terrorist groups fighting the Assad regime - including Al-Qaeda in Iraq - was probably responsible for the blasts.


The near-simultaneous explosions hit the al-Qazaz district just before 8 a.m. (0500 GMT), residents said. One punched a crater three meters (10 feet) deep in the city's southern ring road. Bloodied corpses and body parts could be seen on the road.

State television also showed at least one overturned lorry. Walls of buildings on each side of the avenue had collapsed.

One resident reported limited damage to the facade of the nearby Palestine Branch Military Intelligence centre, one of the most feared of more than 20 Syrian secret police agencies.

The huge walled complex was the target of a 2008 bombing which killed 17 people and which authorities blamed on Islamist militants. Some residents said access to the section of ring road near the Palestine Branch was later restricted.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll from the bombings at 59 and said most of them worked for the security forces. No group has claimed responsibility.

Rami Abdulrahman, head of the British-based Observatory, said 849 people - 628 civilians and 221 soldiers, of whom 31 were defectors - had been killed since the April 12 truce. The toll did not include Thursday's deaths.

The attacks occurred a day after a bomb blew up near U.N. observers monitoring the ceasefire, which state forces and rebels have both violated, and two weeks after authorities said a suicide bomber killed at least nine people in Damascus.

"This is yet another example of the suffering brought upon the people of Syria from acts of violence," said Major-General Robert Mood, leader of the U.N. monitors, who visited the scene.

Maj.Gen. Mood, a Norwegian, is slowly gathering his force of 300 monitors to patrol Syrian cities and towns where Assad's military is facing off with the protestors. But it will be several more weeks before he gets his full complement of monitors, and by that time, the cease fire is likely to be a dead letter.

Rick Moran


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

Bowing to Islamic Supremacy

by Janet Levy

Resplendent in her royal blue hijab for an official appearance in Bangladesh on Sunday, Hillary Clinton proclaimed that she was deeply hurt by charges brought forth at a public forum that the United States was biased against Muslims.

"It hurts me so much," Clinton lamented. "It's a painful perception to hear about, and I deeply regret that anyone believes that or propagates it."

Even for a woman who had no trouble during her husband's tenure as president consorting with the father of modern terrorism, Yasser Arafat and his wife, Suha -- recipient of the famous Clinton kiss -- it is a remarkable statement. Hillary Clinton voiced no public distress over the findings of the last FBI report on religious hate crimes in the United States, which revealed that the overwhelming majority of hate crimes -- 72% -- target Jews, compared to just 8.4% for Muslims and 6.4% for Christians. Meanwhile, in the Indian subcontinent, Mrs. Clinton also failed to address the decades of oppression and massacres suffered by the Hindus of Bangladesh at the hands of Muslims and the abject discrimination, extortion, and threats that remain rampant today.

Instead, under the guise freedom of religion, Clinton held a summit last December -- the "Istanbul Process" -- that actually promotes the global blasphemy law relentlessly pushed for over a decade by the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation to combat "defamation of Islam." Ironically, in the United States, a country with an exemplary record of upholding freedom of religion and little evidence of anti-Muslim discrimination, Clinton chooses to advocate on behalf of Islam.

Clinton is not alone in her deference to Islam. This bending over backwards to appease and accommodate Muslims has been blatantly displayed throughout the recent arraignment of 9/11 terrorists at Guantánamo Bay Naval Base (GITMO). What should have been a straightforward presentation of charges was instead a showcase for how we are compromising our rules and values in the face of the Islamic threat.

Defense attorney Cheryl Bormann, sporting a black hijab and abaya in court, audaciously requested that the prosecution's female paralegals and FBI agents dress with cultural sensitivity for enemy detainee defendants. Perhaps she was unaware that her call for respect is directed toward followers of a doctrine which commands men to beat wives who fail to meet their husbands' sexual demands, mandates gender apartheid, allows men to enslave infidel women, sanctions female genital mutilation, allows a husband coital relations with his wife up to six hours following her death, demands the stoning of women suspected of adultery, and requires four male witnesses to corroborate a woman's accusation of rape.

While it is doubtful that Ms. Bormann's shameful request will be honored, it is astonishing that it would be uttered in the first place and unconscionable that she would display such insensitivity toward members of the court and especially families of victims of the 9/11 attacks who are following the proceedings. An arraignment for terrorist activities that resulted in the mass murder of innocent Americans is certainly not the venue for catering to jihadist demands. By contrast, a captured enemy combatant in a Muslim country would be fortunate to remain alive with all limbs and vital organs intact. Due process and humane treatment wouldn't even be part of the equation. The five GITMO 9/11 plotters have been housed in a model detention center, afforded all Geneva Conventions rights without fulfilling the required qualifications of military combatants, and are being defended by both military and civilian counsel at U.S. taxpayer expense.

Defiant and disrespectful, the 9/11 plotters refused to answer questions, removed the headphones that were transmitting translations of the arraignment, and provocatively arose from their seats to pray during the proceedings. One defendant mocked the 9/11 atrocity by making a paper plane and placing it on top of a microphone. This was a blatant attempt to sabotage the military commission and stage what appeared to be a well-rehearsed publicity stunt.

In a further show of Islamic appeasement, the court tolerated the indefensible display of the Muslim defendants, including the disruptive prayer break, and failed to mete out appropriate discipline that would normally be conferred in a like situation with non-Muslims. This and the grandstanding of the defense team raise the question: "Where is the equivalent concern and respect for the victims of Islamic terrorism? Why is the focus on how Muslim terrorists are treated, while 9/11 families and traumatized Americans are victimized once again on the taxpayers' dime?"

Defense attorneys harped on the extreme distress and "torture" suffered by their Muslim terrorist clients to justify their behavior in court. Bormann requested a court order preventing forcible extraction of detainees from their cells if they were unwilling to attend the next hearing. Another defense attorney complained about the strip-searching of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed prior to the arraignment, the denial of terrorist detainee sartorial choices for the court appearance, and the regular review by GITMO prison officials of prisoner correspondence. None of these actions on the part of prison personnel appear unusual, given the circumstances, and wouldn't normally warrant an extensive court discussion.

Further, that perpetrators of the largest attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor and their defense attorneys would complain about treatment at GIMTO is beyond arrogant. As I learned during a visit in 2007, GITMO is a model detention facility, where enemy detainees receive balanced meals -- six menu choices per meal, with schedules and content modified for holy periods, clothing, and comfort items -- prayer mats, skull caps and Korans in their native languages, good medical and dental care the same as what base soldiers receive, generous recreational activities, access to attorneys and a library, and visits from the Red Cross in a secure environment in strict accordance with Geneva Conventions.

Further, GITMO guards receive Muslim and cultural sensitivity training and bend over backwards to accommodate the demands of Muslim detainees, despite constant assaults and threats. Astonishingly, troops at GITMO are not allowed to handle the Koran without donning white gloves; are prohibited, as a show of respect, from walking in front of prisoners' quarters during the five daily calls to prayer; and must keep halal meat for detainees in a separate freezer from their non-halal provisions to avoid contamination. Also, at a time when the U.S. is cutting defense spending and threatening health care reductions for our troops and veterans, GITMO is completing a brand-new, $750,000 soccer field financed by taxpayer dollars. This level of appeasement is unprecedented and not afforded to any other prison populations.

Also unusual and observed during the arraignment proceedings was that the defense attorneys and their clients seemed oblivious to the gravity of the charges being presented. While they concentrated on spurious charges of torture, it seemed forgotten that GITMO houses jihadists picked up on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. Of those released to date by the U.S. government, 27% return to jihadist activities, according to a recent report by the House Armed Services Committee. This is the same sort of jihadist fanaticism that spawned the murder of 30 people, including six U.S. soldiers, after the burning of Korans defaced with seditious messages penned by terrorist prisoners in American military facilities. And the jihadists have also been responsible for a series of suicide bombing attacks in Syria.

Indeed, defense attorneys sought to deflect attention away from the actions that led to their clients' capture, incarceration, and arraignment and appeared to be obfuscating who the five GITMO defendants actually are. A cursory review of their records is instructive.

  • Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is the al-Qaeda member who was the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks. He also confessed to his involvement in the first World Trade Center bombings in 1993, the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, and the bombing of the Bali nightclubs, as well as other plots.
  • Walid Bin Attash reportedly selected and trained the 9/11 hijackers. The former Osama bin Laden bodyguard researched airline schedules and flight simulators and allegedly played a significant role in the 1998 East African embassy bombings and the attack on the USS Cole.
  • Ramzi bin al-Shibh worked with Mohammed Atta, who crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center, to mastermind the attacks. He also wired money and passed vital information to the hijackers.
  • Ammar al-Baluchi and Mustafa al-Hawsawi provided funding and logistical support to bring the hijackers into the U.S. Incidentally, Baluchi is married to Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, the incarcerated neuroscientist who, when apprehended in possession of recipes for weapons of mass destruction, instructions for shooting down U.S. drones, descriptions of New York landmarks, and two pounds of cyanide, grabbed a rifle and attempted to murder U.S. interpreters in Afghanistan.

At this point, in what was formerly referred to as the Global War on Terror, it should be no surprise that indicted Islamic terrorists would use obfuscation tactics against any charges. This strategy was documented in the al-Qaeda manual discovered during a terror raid in Manchester, England in 2006. In it, a chapter on "Prisons and Detention Centres" encourages terrorists to claim torture and mistreatment while in prison and to resort to hunger strikes. In fact, one passage states, "At the beginning of the trial ... the brothers must insist on proving that torture was inflicted on them by state security before the judge. Complain of mistreatment while in prison."

We must not forget the words of General Bantz J. Craddock, who, in 2006, explained, "Detainees are held at JTF-Guantanamo because they are dangerous and continue to pose a threat to the U.S. and our allies. They have expressed a commitment to kill Americans and our friends if released. These are not common criminals; they are enemy combatants being detained because they have waged war against our nation and they continue to pose a threat."

As was evident at the GITMO arraignment, even following capture and indictment, Muslim terrorists continue to wage jihad in the courtroom. Our tolerance for this level of disrespect and disruption of our judicial system is an indictment of American leadership and an example of how we are accommodating Islam in our society. If we bow to Islamic requests and demands in the courtroom, how long until we end up bowing to Islamic supremacy altogether and hand ourselves over, ever so politely, to our sworn enemies?

Janet Levy


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Palestinian Politics Jenin Style

by Jonathan S. Tobin

In today’s New York Times, new Israel correspondent Jodi Rudoren writes of how the recently deceased Palestinian governor of the city of Jenin is being viewed as a “martyr” in the fight against gangs and the symbol of the failing struggle to transform the Palestinian Authority into a viable state. Qadoura Moussa, who died of a heart attack following an assassination attempt that is interpreted as part of the battle in which control of the streets is at stake, helped create the idea that there was a “Jenin model” in which good government would replace the mafia-style corruption and violence that had heretofore characterized Palestinian life.

Moussa’s death is rightly seen as yet another blow to Fayyadism, the term that Times columnist Thomas Friedman attached to the efforts of PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to transform Palestinian society so as to allow for the rise of a rational modern state. But, as the insightful journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote just a day earlier on the website of the Gatestone Institute, the truth about the reality of life in Jenin has been apparent for years. The problem is, the foreign and Palestinian press was far too intimidated to report that the illusion of law and order in Jenin was always a lie.

The notion that Jenin, which was the hub of Palestinian terror during the second intifada and the site of a pitched battle between gunmen and the Israeli Defense Force in 2002, had become a PA success story was an attractive theme for journalists eager to paint a more attractive picture of the Palestinians. But as Toameh, who knows more about the politics of the territories than anyone else writing in English, points out, the “Jenin model” was always a myth. The anarchy and lawlessness in the region was not happening in spite of the efforts of the Western-trained PA security forces but in no small measure because of them.

The problem goes deeper than just a few cases of corruption or the fact that many of those recruited into the Palestinian security services are former criminals and killers who quickly revert to their old habits for profit. Rather, it is that Palestinian political culture still treats violence as legitimate. The line between the terrorist groups that double as political parties such as Fatah and Hamas and the armed gangs and clans that the PA fights in the streets of towns like Jenin is razor thin. That’s why any expectation that Fatah or even Hamas can foster law and order other than by their own reign of terror at their rivals’ expense is farcical.

Genuine moderates who desire real change like Salam Fayyad are the outliers, not the criminals. Men like Fayyad also lack a political constituency. That means they are not just outnumbered but outgunned.

Yet this is a tale that has generally been ignored by the Western press that has, as Abu Toameh notes, feared to tell the truth about the Palestinians. The result is that Western governments continue to pour in vast amounts of cash and aid that has done little to help. Fayyadism is a nice idea, but the problem is that it is more popular in American newsrooms than in the streets of Palestinian towns. Though Rudoren’s article in today’s Times gives some belated attention to this problem, it still fails to go to the heart of the cancer eating away at the PA. The rationale for Palestinian statehood as well as for more Israeli territorial withdrawals to further empower these gangsters and terrorists seems more farfetched than ever.

Jonathan S. Tobin


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GOP Seeks to Avert Defense Cuts

by Max Boot

I applaud House Republicans for voting to suspend the sequester which threatens to decimate military spending and replacing it with cuts to social welfare programs. But the Republican leadership knows their legislation has little chance of passage in the Senate. They are simply hoping to set the stage for negotiations later this year that would at least suspend the first stage of the sequester which could cut another $500 billion or so from the defense budget on top of $450 billion or cuts already set in motion last summer.

The question is whether those negotiations will succeed. The conventional wisdom in Washington is that the answer is yes, but I join Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute in being skeptical of that consensus. She points out that there is no intrinsic reason to think Democrats and Republicans, who couldn’t agree on alternative spending cuts or revenue increases until now, will suddenly find some way to sing “Kumbaya” after the election–especially when the composition of Congress will be exactly what it is today. And there are many reasons to expect that an attempt to stop sequestration will not be a high priority item for Congress also grappling with expiring tax cuts and the need to raise the debt ceiling once again.

As the sequestration cuts fall disproportionately on defense (half the cuts slash defense spending even though it’s less than 20 percent of the overall federal budget), Democrats have every reason to sit back and allow the cuts to hit–unless Republicans cave on higher taxes, which they are unlikely to do. Thus, the odds grow of a “perfect storm” that will devastate the defense budget.

I am in the process of touring West Coast military installations–I was just in San Diego where I met with Navy SEALs and toured an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, a Navy aviation maintenance plant, and Camp Pendleton, the West Coast home of the Marine Corps. Everywhere I saw what I have come to expect when visiting our military installations–superbly trained and motivated men and women doing incredible, often dangerous, and usually unheralded work to defend our republic. It would be a tragedy not only for the U.S. but for the entire world if this first-class military, developed over decades and committed to expanding and preserving freedom around the globe, were to be wrecked overnight through a lack of political will in Congress. But that, alas, appears to be increasingly likely.

Max Boot


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Amnesty International and Muslim Discrimination in Europe

by Soeren Kern

Amnesty International omits, however, all instances of discrimination initiated by Muslims against Christians and others in Europe who have taken them in, and who may well feel dismayed by what might be seen as an escalating procession of Muslim demands, threats and attacks. Nowhere does it call on Muslims to accept responsibility – not only for problems brought about by the refusal of many of them to accept the values of the majority, but also for their efforts to displace these values with their own.

A new report from Amnesty International lashes out at "widespread discrimination" against Muslims in Europe. The report directs particular ire at laws banning Muslim veils in public spaces, and excoriates European politicians for helping to "foster a climate of hostility and suspicion against people perceived as Muslim."

Amnesty International omits, however, all instances of discrimination initiated by Muslims against Christians and others in Europe who have taken them in, and who may well feel dismayed by what might be seen as an escalating procession of Muslim demands, threats and attacks.

The report also fails to explain why growing numbers of Europeans are increasingly skeptical about Muslim immigration; it also fails to mention that in country after country, Europeans have been going out of their way to afford Muslims special benefits, rights, privileges and provisions that do not apply to native-born Europeans, and that are establishing the Muslim population as an entitled class in European society.

The 123-page study, "Choice and Prejudice: Discrimination Against Muslims in Europe," says that "Muslims in Europe face discrimination in several areas of life because of their religion," and this "blights their individual prospects, opportunities and self-esteem and can result in isolation, exclusion and stigmatization."

It continues, "[D]iscrimination against Muslims in Europe is fuelled by stereotypes and negative views;" and calls on European politicians to "adopt a more rational approach" and stop portraying Islam "as a system of values which denies gender equality or a violent ideology."

Amnesty International, perhaps welded to notions political correctness, also further fails to mention actions by Muslims themselves that might well have been responsible for fuelling the "stereotypes and negative views" that it accuses Europeans of having.

Consider Belgium, where radical Muslims have launched a propaganda and intimidation campaign aimed at turning the country into an Islamic state. Muslim neighborhoods in Brussels -- the so-called capital of Europe -- have already become "no-go" zones for Belgian police officers, who are often pelted with rocks by Muslim youths.

In Britain, hundreds of Muslim children every year are subjected to forced marriages. In England and Wales, more than 65,000 Muslim women and girls have been the victims of female genital mutilation, and another 24,000 girls under the age of 15 are believed to be at a high risk.

Also in Britain, tens of thousands of Muslim immigrants are practicing bigamy or polygamy, possibly at times to collect larger social welfare payments from the British state. At the same time, radical Muslims have launched a campaign to turn twelve British cities, including London, into independent Islamic "emirates" to be ruled by Islamic Sharia law.

In Denmark, Muslim criminal street gangs have taken over large parts of Danish towns and cities; in Copenhagen, some suburbs have also been transformed into "no-go" zones, off limits to non-Muslims. Meanwhile, over the past decade, the number of Muslim immigrants living on social welfare benefits in Denmark has increased almost ten-fold.

In France, where there are now more practicing Muslims than practicing Roman Catholics, there are 751 Sensitive Urban Zones , also off-limits to non-Muslims apparently because they are too dangerous; in these French "no-go" zones over which the French state has lost control, an estimated five million Muslims currently reside.

In Germany, thousands of Muslim women and children are the victims of forced marriage every year. At the same time, Islamic Sharia courts are operating in all major German cities, and German authorities say they are "powerless" to do anything about them.

In the Netherlands, nearly half of Moroccan immigrants in the country between the ages of 12 and 24 have been arrested, fined, charged or otherwise accused of committing a crime during the past five years. Further, as Islamic legal tradition holds that dogs are "unclean" animals,

a Dutch Muslim politician in The Hague, the third-largest city in Holland, has recently called for a ban on dogs in the city.

In Italy, Muslims have been commandeering the Piazza Venezia in Rome for public prayers; and in Bologna, Muslims have repeatedly threatened to bomb the San Petronio cathedral because it contains a 600-year-old fresco inspired by Dante's Inferno that depicts Mohammed being tormented in Hell.

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

Elsewhere in Spain, Muslim immigrants were accused of poisoning dozens of dogs in the city of Lérida, where 29,000 Muslims now make up around 20% of the city's total population; again, according to local residents, as dogs are considered "unclean." In the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia, Muslims have deployed "morals police" to ensure that practicing and non-practicing Muslims comply with Islamic Sharia law.

In Switzerland, an immigrant group based in Bern said it wants the emblematic white cross to be removed from the Swiss national flag because as a Christian symbol it "no longer corresponds to today's multicultural Switzerland." Further, leading Islamic groups in the country announced that they want to establish a "parallel parliament" so that all of the country's Muslims can "speak with one voice." Based in Basel, the new parliament would straightforwardly operate according to Islamic Sharia law.

These developments in Europe have been occurring during just the last eight years in addition to, of course, the bombing by Muslims of commuter trains in Spain in March 2004; the bombing of public transportation in London in July 2005; the attempted bombing of the Glasgow airport in June 2007; the attempted bombing of the Barcelona metro in January 2008; the attempted bombing of several US-bound airplanes, including that of the "shoe bomber" Richard Reid in December 2009; mass riots caused by the reprinting of the "Mohammed Cartoons" in Denmark in 2005 and 2006; Muslim riots in Malmö, Sweden in December 2008 and in Strasbourg, France in June 2010; and Muslim threats to mobilize 10,000 demonstrators onto the streets of London to prevent a democratically elected member of a European government, MP Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, from entering Britain in February 2009; and Muslim attacks on German police in May 2012.

Muslims in Europe also murdered the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in January 2004; tortured and murdered the French Jew, Ilam Halimi in January 2006; attacked the Swedish artist Lars Vilkes in July 2007; tried to murder the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard in January 2010; killed French servicemen and Jews in March 2012; and attacked Spanish politician Josep Anglada in April 2012.

Muslims in Europe have also been attempting to muzzle free speech, including by "lawfare," the malicious use of costly court trials to intimidate Europeans into silence to shut down the discussion of Islam. In the last few years, Muskims have initiated trials against Geert Wilders in the Netherlands; Suzanne Winter and Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria; Lars Hedegaard and Jesper Langballe in Denmark; Jussi Kristian Halla-aho in Finland; Brigitte Bardot, Michel Houellebecq, and Marie Laforêt in France; and Gregorius Nekschot in the Netherlands;

Muslim gangs have also been found responsible for "Rape Waves" in Britain, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Although Amnesty International lists in its report a litany of "discriminatory experiences" faced by Muslims in Europe, it does not acknowledge that most European countries have granted their Muslims minorities a host of special privileges, all in the name of multiculturalism, and that Muslim values are increasingly influencing European public policymaking.

In Belgium, for example, the government now pays the wages of more than 200 imams in 100 mosques in a bid to end discrimination against Islam. At the same time, dozens of Christian churches are being turned into mosques as Muslims demand more places to worship.

In Antwerp, the second-largest city in Belgium, an Islamic Sharia law court is now mediating family law disputes for Muslim immigrants. The self-appointed Muslim judges running the court are applying Islamic law -- rather than the secular Belgian Family Law system -- to resolve disputes involving questions of marriage and divorce, child custody and child support, as well as all inheritance-related matters.

In Britain, the largest university in London plans to ban the sale of alcohol on campus to accommodate the "cultural sensitivity" of its Muslim students; and the British Broadcasting Corporation admits that it treats Islam with more "protection and sensitivity" than Christianity.

The British Girl Scout Association has designed new uniforms for Muslim students who had "issues" with the existing range of clothing. Across Britain, municipal swimming pools are being closed to the general public to host Muslim women-only sessions.

In British courts, Muslim defendants are frequently the beneficiaries of favorable judicial treatment which does not apply to British defendants.

In Denmark, primary schools will soon begin teaching Islam to all students in the first grade.

In France, all of the slaughterhouses in the greater Paris metropolitan area are now producing all of their meat in accordance with Islamic Sharia law. France 2 television reports that much of the religiously slaughtered meat known as halal is not labeled as such and is entering the general food chain, where it is being unwittingly consumed by the non-Muslim population.

In German courts, judges are increasingly citing the Koran in civil divorce cases that involve Muslims. Muslim employees in German supermarkets are now exempt from handling alcohol on religious grounds. Municipal authorities in towns and cities across Germany have agreed to allow Muslim girls to wear "burkinis" in public swimming pools.

The city of Mannheim is planning to rename a Muslim-majority neighborhood, giving it a Turkish name. At the same time, German taxpayers are paying for four new Islamic theology departments in Tübingen, Münster/Osnabrück, Erlangen/Nürnberg and Frankfurt/Gießen, at a total cost of €20 million ($25 million) to train Muslim imams and Islamic religion teachers.

In the Netherlands, the National Police Union says Dutch police will not enforce a new burka ban. A court in Rotterdam has decided that Muslims may remain seated while all others rise when a judge walks into the courtroom, because Islam ostensibly holds that all people are equal, while the Qur'an and Islamic Sharia law also hold that women and non-Muslims are not equal.

Elsewhere in the Netherlands, dentists open their clinics in the evenings and nights during Ramadan because Muslim clients "cannot swallow their own saliva from sunrise to sunset." Insurance companies and pharmacies offer special "Ramadanchecks" that offer advice on how to take medicine during the month of daytime fasting.

In Ireland, the government recently introduced tax legislation for financial products that comply with Islamic Sharia law.

In Italy, the southern island of Sicily is about to become the proud new home for a multi-million euro mega-mosque, which its supporters hope will become a reference point for Muslims in Sicily as well as the rest of Italy. In Milan, the city council says it will recognize a dozen "mini-mosques." In Rome, the Higher Judicial Council (CSM) recently ruled that on religious grounds, Muslims may wear a veil in Italian courts.

In Spain, the city of Barcelona recently announced plans to build an official mega-mosque with a capacity for thousands of Muslim worshipers. The new structure would rival the massive Islamic Cultural Center in Madrid, one of the biggest mosques in Europe. The Barcelona mayor's office said the objective is to "increase the visibility of Muslims in Spain" and to promote the "common values between Islam and Europe."

In the Spanish capital, the government has authorized two radical Islamic television stations to begin 24-hour broadcasting to Spanish-speaking audiences from new studios in Madrid. The first channel, sponsored by the government of Iran, will focus on spreading Shia Islam. The second channel, sponsored by Saudi Arabia, will focus on spreading Sunni Wahhabi Islam.

In Sweden, the Social Democrats state that they want to turn Ramadan into an official Swedish holiday.

In Switzerland, the army has drafted guidelines outlining special conditions for meals and prayers for its rising number of Muslim recruits. The canton of Aargau has issued a 17-page guideline for accommodating Muslims in public schools and public swimming pools. The cantons of Basel-Landschaft, Basel-Stadt, Lucerne, Solothurn and Zürich have all quietly changed municipal regulations to allow Muslim women to wear the "burkini" in public spaces.

Also in Zürich, the international governing body of football, known as FIFA, says female footballers can wear headscarves when playing in official competitions. The rule change, instigated by the brother of the King of Jordan, Ali bin al-Hussein who is also FIFA vice president, is due to come into effect on July 2.

While Amnesty International has put the entire onus for "Islamophobia" on non-Muslims, nowhere does it call on Muslims to accept responsibility -- not only for problems brought about by the refusal of Muslims to adopt the values of the majority, but also for their efforts to displace these values with their own.

As the Dutch politician Pym Fortuyn put it in a television interview the day before he was killed for criticizing the rise of Islam in Holland, "I think the guests are trying to take over the house."

Amnesty International has missed an opportunity to help Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.


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Jihad Comes to Egypt

by Raymond Ibrahim

Considering Egypt’s presidential elections take place later this month, last weekend’s Islamist clash with the military could not have come at a worse time.

First, the story: due to overall impatience—and rage that the Salafi presidential candidate, Abu Ismail, was disqualified (several secular candidates were also disqualified)—emboldened Islamists began to gather around the Defense Ministry in Abbassia, Cairo, late last week, chanting jihadi slogans, and preparing for a “million man” protest for Friday, May 4th.

As Egypt’s Al Ahram put it, “Major Egyptian Islamist parties and groups—including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafist Calling and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya—have issued calls for a Tahrir Square demonstration on Friday under the banner of ‘Saving the revolution.’ … Several non-Islamist revolutionary groups, meanwhile, have expressed their refusal to participate in the event.” In other words, last Friday was largely an Islamist protest (even though some in the Western media still portray it as a “general” demonstration).

There, in front of the Defense Ministry, the Islamists exposed their true face—exposed their hunger for power, their unpatriotic motivations, and their political ineptitude. For starters, among those leading the protests was none other than Muhammad al-Zawahiri, a brother of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and a seasoned jihadi in his own right, who was only recently acquitted and released from prison, where, since 1998, he was incarcerated “on charges of undergoing military training in Albania and planning military operations in Egypt.”

Before the Friday protest, Zawahiri appeared “at the head of hundreds of protesters,” including “dozens of jihadis,” demonstrating in front of the Defense Ministry.” They waved banners that read, “Victory or Death” and chanted “Jihad! Jihad!”—all punctuated by cries of “Allahu Akbar!” Likewise, Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya—the group responsible for slaughtering some 60 European tourists in the 1997 Luxor Massacre—was at the protests. Even the so-called “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood participated.

Two lessons emerge here: 1) an Islamist is an Islamist is an Islamist: when it comes down to ideology, they are one; 2) Violence and more calls to jihad are the fruits of clemency—the thanks Egypt’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) gets for releasing such Islamists imprisoned during ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s tenure.

As for the actual protests (which, as one might expect from the quality of its participants, quickly turned savage) this Egyptian news clip shows bearded Salafis wreaking havoc and screaming jihadi slogans as they try to break into the Defense Ministry, homemade bombs waiting to be used, and a girl in black hijab savagely tearing down a security barbed-wire—the hallmarks of a jihadi takeover.

More tellingly, jihadis in the nearby Nour Mosque opened fire on the military from the windows of the minaret; and when the military stormed the mosque, apprehending the snipers, all the Muslim Brotherhood had to say was: “We also condemn the aggression [from the military] against the house of God (Nour Mosque) and the arrest of people from within”—without bothering to denounce the terror such people were committing from within ‘the house of God.”

It is worthwhile contrasting this episode with last year’s Maspero massacre, when Egypt’s Coptic Christians demonstrated because their churches were constantly being attacked. Then, the military burst forth with tanks, intentionally running Christians over, killing dozens, and trying to frame the Copts for the violence (all of which was quickly exposed as lies). Likewise, while some accuse the Copts of housing weapons in their churches to “conquer” Egypt, here is more evidence that mosques are stockpiled with weapons.

At any rate, what was billed as a “protest” was quickly exposed as Islamists doing their thing—waging jihad against the infidel foe. Yet this time, their foe was the Egyptian army; as opposed to SCAF—the entrenched, and largely disliked, ruling military council—the Egyptian army is popular with most Egyptians.

As one Egyptian political activist put it, “The public doesn’t differentiate between Salafists, Wahhabis or Muslim Brotherhood any more. They are all Islamists. They have lost support with the public, it is irreversible. Egyptians have seen their army and soldiers being attacked. It has stirred a lot of emotions.” A BBC report concurs: “The army holds a special, respected place in Egyptian society, and as far as many Egyptians were concerned it was attacked, not by a foreign enemy, but by Islamists…. One soldier died in the attack. Egyptian TV also showed dramatic pictures of injured soldiers.”

The remarks of an Egyptian news anchorwoman as she showed such violent clips are further noteworthy. In dismay, she rhetorically asked: “Who is the enemy? They [protesters] are calling for jihad against whom? Are our soldiers being attacked by Israeli soldiers—or is it our own people attacking them? Why don’t you go fight the Israeli enemy to liberate Palestine! Who are you liberating Egypt from? This is unacceptable. Do you people want a nation or do you want constant jihad—and a jihad against whom, exactly”?

To place her comments in context, known that, in Egypt, jihadis are often portrayed as the “good guys”—fighting for Egypt’s honor, fighting to “liberate Palestine,” and so on—while Israel is portrayed as the natural recipient of jihad. After Friday’s violent clash, however, Egyptians are learning that no one is immune from the destructive forces of jihad, including Egypt itself and its guardian, the military. Two weeks before the presidential elections, perhaps Egyptians are also learning that an Islamist president—just like his followers on display last Friday—will bring only more chaos and oppression. Time will tell.

Raymond Ibrahim


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Obama’s Gay Marriage ‘Evolution’ Deception

by Bruce Thornton

In yet another act of election-year cynicism, Barack Obama has just announced, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” This statement follows similar pronouncements by Joe Biden and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. To hear Obama tell it, this change reflects his “evolution” away from his previously stated position, which he made clear in 2008 a few days before the election: “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” That same year he told Reverend Rick Warren that marriage is a “union between a man and a woman,” adding that it is a “sacred union” with “God in the mix.” Both statements contradicted what he had told a Chicago gay newspaper in 1996 while running for the Illinois state senate: “I favor legalizing same-sex marriage.” No wonder this year’s electoral conversion smells suspicious even to Obama cheerleader MSNBC, which on its First Read blog brushed past the personal “evolution” pretext and zeroed in on the political calculus: “Obama’s shift not only speaks to a broad swath of the electorate, which has exhibited increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage in opinion polls, but also gay and lesbian voters who compose a core part of Obama’s base, and have been major fundraisers for his re-election.”

This latest about-face, then, clearly shows that Obama’s 2008 opposition to gay marriage was devised to make him appear a centrist during the presidential election, and that now he believes he can speak honestly and shore up his progressive base.

That Obama would say one thing while believing another is well established by his long track record of shifting his policy positions depending on whether he is pandering to the center or the left––consider extraordinary renditions, military tribunals, Guantanamo, or the surge in Iraq, all of which he vociferously opposed until he supported them. Some might think that he is a rank opportunist who believes in none of these positions, his public statements based on tactical calculations reflecting polls and political necessity. Remember his principled opposition to the evil Bush tax cuts, which he then extended a month after the 2010 electoral “shellacking,” as he called it?

But consideration of the world from which Obama emerged points us to what he really thinks. It beggars belief to think someone who has spent his whole adult life in the progressive purlieus of academe and community activism, where gay marriage, like abortion, is a sacrament, could sincerely be opposed to it. Like taxing the greedy rich, America’s foreign policy sins, endemic white racism, redistributionist economics, global warming, the evils of carbon-based energy, deficit spending, conservative misogynism, and all the other scriptures in the progressive psalter, the rightness and justness of gay marriage are revealed truths that require obedience, not justification.

Indeed, gay marriage is particularly expressive of the progressive gospel, for this issue concentrates all that sect’s fundamentalist doctrines. First, it exemplifies the progressive idea that the traditional wisdom and beliefs of the masses are benighted remnants of their ignorant, superstitious past from which we should be evolving. The collective wisdom of the human race developed over centuries is automatically suspect and to be rejected as irrational justifications for oppression, exclusion, and the defense of unfair privilege. Progressive moderns, supposedly armed with advances in knowledge discovered by the “human sciences,” are better able to arrange society and human relations so that they reflect the reality hidden to our religion-addled ancestors, and thus can ensure justice and equality. So the belief based on faith, tradition, and natural law that marriage is an institution joining a man and woman is to be rejected, and society to be reshaped according to the truths possessed by enlightened progressives.

Next, gay marriage is an important component of the identity politics that dominate the liberal university. Like the other so-called minority victims of historical prejudice, oppression, and exclusion, homosexuals are owed affirmation and reparations in the form of faculty positions, gay-centric takes on traditional disciplines like history or English, and their own departments, majors, minors, or programs. Outside the university, laws and behavior uncongenial to the gay agenda must be fought through the courts and the federal government. To work, though, grievance politics requires grievances, for no matter how successful or powerful a victim-group is, no matter how much progress is made in eliminating prejudice or exclusion from institutions and laws, the group must still find an injustice to fight in order to justify its existence and privileges. For the gay lobby, traditional marriage is the most important target, for it is passionately supported by those constituencies, especially conservatives and people of faith, who stand in the way of the progressives’ agenda of reshaping society and human nature according to their utopian ideology.

Finally, legalizing gay marriage necessarily requires empowering anti-democratic federal bureaucrats and judges in order to override the stubborn ignorance and bigotry of the people. Whatever polls might say about increasing support for gay marriage, its proponents aren’t about to put the question to the people’s vote. Remember California’s Proposition 8, which in 2008, the same year Obama overwhelmingly won California, defined marriage in the state constitution as solely between a man and a woman? It passed in this progressive bastion, to be overturned later by the State Supreme Court. Progressives prefer to achieve their aims not through democratic elections that reflect the will of the people, but through unelected judges and bureaucrats who share the progressive world-view that the people need to be coerced into believing so they’ll do the right thing. Obama’s current flip-flop on gay marriage is another sign of his preference for using coercive federal power to bypass the will of the states, where such highly contested social issues should be adjudicated through the democratic process.

Obama, of course, for three years has been regularly using presidential power to bypass the people in order to shape policy. Marriage laws may be the purview of the states, but don’t think that that cannot change. Remember, Obama ordered the Department of Justice not to defend the democratically passed Defense of Marriage Act, which was passed in part to protect the integrity of state laws. He also has gone on record as saying the issue will ultimately be determined by the Supreme Court, one or more of whose justices the next president will most likely choose. It’s not unthinkable that some future Supreme Court will find the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and override the 32 state laws defending traditional marriage.

Given how thoroughly the issue of gay marriage expresses the foundational progressive beliefs that define the university and that underlie most of Obama’s policies, it strains credulity to think that support for gay marriage hasn’t been Obama’s actual position all along. Like his breakout 2004 speech at the Democratic National Convention in which be proclaimed, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America––there is the United States of America,” his support for traditional marriage was just one more patch of camouflage hiding his progressive agenda.

Bruce Thornton


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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Soros Opens the Spigot

by Matthew Vadum

George Soros is once again putting his money where his mouth is.

The Left’s favorite Wall Street billionaire and a cohort of his radical confederates are promising to contribute as much as $100 million to help the Democratic Party win this November so it can lay the groundwork for the destruction of what’s left of American civil society.

News of the trust fund tidal wave comes after the Soros-funded Democracy Alliance opted to drown Democrats and President Obama’s re-election campaign in an ocean of cash this year. The ultra-secretive group, founded in 2005, is a financial clearinghouse that recommends to its wealthy members projects and groups that aspire to dismantle America as we know it, transforming the nation into a European-style socialist state. The group has directed untold hundreds of millions of dollars to left-of-center causes.

Soros, a currency speculator and convicted inside-trader, is a practiced hand-wringer who frequently tells gullible reporters he is getting out of electoral politics altogether. This is his mantra between elections even though he never actually follows through on the threat.

The preeminent funder of the Left in the United States, Soros openly favors the collapse of the greenback and the decline of America in general. He has said European-style socialism “is exactly what we need now.” He praises Communist China effusively, saying the brutal totalitarian nation has “a better-functioning government than the United States.”

Soros and his billionaire buddies are going to give a king’s ransom to organizations that focus on grassroots organizing, vote manufacturing, and getting welfare recipients and illegal immigrants to the polls so they can vote themselves more taxpayer-funded benefits. The donors plan to take this approach because they are wary of competing directly with pro-Republican “super PACs,” which are independent political action committees without contribution limits. These left-wing fat cats dislike the Supreme Court’s freedom-affirming Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision that opened the door to unlimited campaign expenditures, the New York Times reports.

But the ever pragmatic Democracy Alliance founder Rob Stein acknowledged that “[s]uper PACs are critically important.” The invitation-only club is meeting this week in Florida for one of its regular get-togethers at which members vote on which groups to bankroll.

Left-wingers think that local efforts and outreach to voters using Internet-based social media such as Facebook “can have an enormous impact in battleground states in 2012,” added Stein, a longtime Democratic operative.

Soros is expected to fork over $1 million to America Votes. The organization says it has “built a permanent advocacy and campaign infrastructure that provides coordination, data and targeting services” to “over 300 state and national partner organizations to advance progressive policies, expand access to the ballot, coordinate issue advocacy and election campaigns, and protect every American’s right to vote.”

Soros is also expected to give $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century, a sleazy super PAC that focuses on assassinating the character of Republicans. The political action committee is run by the acutely paranoid, emotionally unstable David Brock, a gossip columnist who founded the hyper-partisan fake media watchdog group, Media Matters for America.

Soros spokesman Michael Vachon did his best to rationalize his boss’s behavior.

“George Soros believes the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United opened the floodgates to special interests’ paying for political ads,” Vachon said. “There is no way those concerned with the public interest can compete with them. Soros has always focused his political giving on grassroots organizing and holding conservatives accountable for the flawed policies they promote. His support of these groups is consistent with those views.”

Even before the announcement Soros had begun doling out funds for Democrats. In the 2012 election cycle he has given at least $203,500 –for him a modest sum– though that number promises to rise exponentially.

Soros has given $75,000 to House Majority PAC and $100,000 to Majority PAC. House Majority PAC said it plans to spend $340,000 on the June 12 special election to replace former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Giffords aide Ron Barber, a Democrat, is running against Republican Jesse Kelly to complete the unexpired portion of Giffords’s term.

Media moguls giving money to the two similar super PACs include Hollywood producer and playboy Stephen L. Bing ($250,000), Fred Eychaner ($250,000), Anne Cox Chambers ($100,000), Win McCormack ($100,000), and Rob (Meathead to “All in the Family” fans) Reiner ($5,000).

Soros has donated to Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate including Ohio incumbent Sherrod Brown ($2,000), Rhode Island incumbent Sheldon Whitehouse ($1,000), Washington incumbent Maria Cantwell ($5,000), and purported Cherokee squaw Elizabeth Warren ($2,500) of Massachusetts. Warren is using Soros’s wampum to challenge popular Republican incumbent Scott Brown.

Soros has donated to the House campaigns of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California ($5,000), Nita M. Lowey of New York ($5,000), Howard L. Berman of California ($2,500), and ACORN puppet Hakeem Jeffries ($500), a New York Assemblyman. Soros has also donated to the leadership PACs of Nancy Pelosi (PAC to the Future, $5,000) and John Kerry (Campaign for Our Country, $5,000).

In the current cycle American Bridge 21st Century has received donations from several Democracy Alliance members including philanthropist Stephen M. Silberstein ($200,000), Adaptive Analytics owner Paul R. Rudd ($50,000), clothier Susie Buell ($200,000), Massachusetts philanthropist Barbara Lee ($100,000), former Google software developer David Des Jardins ($200,000), investor Judith Avery ($25,000), and Taco Bell heir Robert McKay ($50,000). Although Progressive Insurance founder Peter B. Lewis, a close friend of Soros, reportedly quit the Democracy Alliance in a disagreement over strategy, he still gave the super PAC $200,000.

American Bridge has also received funding from Hollywood producer J.J. Abrams of “Lost” fame ($37,500), oil company president Lee Fikes ($150,000), Stephen L. Bing ($150,000), publisher Win McCormack ($125,000), art historian Agnes Gund ($200,000), and Henry S. Wallace ($50,000) who is the grandson of Franklin Roosevelt’s Communist-loving vice president, Henry A. Wallace.

But not all has been going well for Soros.

“Spooky Dude,” as Glenn Beck calls him, suffered a major setback in his quest to make America a full-blown socialist country when the left-wing Secretary of State Project apparently withered away after a disastrous 2010 election cycle. The Soros-funded “527” political committee that could accept unlimited financial contributions was formed solely to rig elections for Democrats. In most states the secretary of state is the chief elections officer, so the group aimed to install left-wingers in the often-overlooked but critically important office in order to manipulate the electoral process.

Of course Soros may not need the group’s help to steal elections now that Attorney General Eric Holder is bending over backwards to halt all efforts to ensure ballot box integrity. The Justice Department has blocked several states’ new voter ID laws and is discouraging investigations of voter fraud across the nation.

This creates mischief-making opportunities for other groups. Perhaps it’s time for the New Black Panther Party to hit Soros up for some cash.

Matthew Vadum


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