Saturday, May 12, 2012

New Rules Authorize Government to Destroy Obama's Draft Records


by Alan Jones

Changes in the wording of Selective Service System record-keeping requirements, made days after the opening of an investigation into the alleged forgery of President Barack Obama’s Selective Service registration form, raise serious questions about U.S. government intentions. ...

The Selective Service System’s new privacy rules were published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, September 20, 2011, four days after the September 16 announcement by World Net Daily that the Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff’s Office “Cold Case Posse” was opening an inquiry with full subpoena power into alleged forgery of several documents concerning Obama’s birth and draft registration. ...

Changing the wording of the privacy rules alters the status of federal records, like the requested draft registration records, from “record copies” to “nonrecord copies.” Nonrecord copies are subject to disposal.

Related:

Forgerygate: Ignoring Arpaio's report is a scandal in itself

Flight records missing for week of Obama's birth

Read the original article at Washington Times

Alan Jones

Source: http://times247.com/articles/federal-document-dump-policy-changes-after-obama-probe-begins

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

Caroline Glick: The Lessons of Prof. Netanyahu


by Caroline B. Glick

Today the heirs of the failed utopian movements of the last century have joined forces to deny the Jewish people our sovereign rights to our land.
In all of our many conversations that took place over the better part of the past decade, I never asked Prof. Benzion Netanyahu what led him to become an historian. Certainly it was a function of his concern for his nation and his recognition that our very existence hung in the balance. Certainly, too, it was a function of his insatiable intellectual curiosity.

I don’t know whether his decision was the function of a specific event or simply a natural progression of his life’s path. But through the lessons that he taught me both directly, and through the books he wrote, I can understand why once he embarked on his journey into Jewish history, the path he eventually took became inevitable.

Netanyahu died last week, at the age of 102.

A good place to begin a study of his long life and its impact on his actions is with his first major work, his biography of Don Issac Abravanel, the leader of the Jews of Spain at the time of Spain’s final expulsion of the community in 1492. Abravanel was an extraordinary scholar of philosophy and Jewish teachings as well as a financial genius. The former brought him renown among his people. The latter attracted the monarchs of Portugal and Spain and the leaders of Italian city states.

One of the shocking aspects of the tragic end of the Jewish community is Spain is that Abravanel, and his fellow communal leaders failed to anticipate the expulsion order. For all of his proximity to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, Abravanel had no idea that they were planning to expel the Jews and so was unable to either cancel the expulsion decree or to make preparations for the community to move to another land.

In his biography, Netanyahu described the exiled Jews of Spain as they sought and were denied refuge in port after port.

In his words (translated from the Hebrew edition): “On 24 August 1492 nine caravel ships arrived in the Port of Napoli bearing expelled Jews from Spain. The journey from Spain was one of continuous suffering. The ship owners were unsympathetic, cruel and greedy. The ships were overloaded and lacked sufficient food. The sanitary conditions invited disease, and the plague quickly spread among the passengers. All these conditions left the expelled in a state of abject penury after weeks of suffering. The historian Genovani, who saw some of these exiles when their ship passed through his town’s port, wrote, ‘It was possible to mistake them for ghosts; they were so hollow; their looks were so frigid, their eyes so sunken in their sockets. They looked just like the dead, aside from the fact that with great difficulty, they were still able to move.’”

Netanyahu proceeded to do the only thing he could, when faced with this description. He made the comparison between the plight of the expelled Jews from Spain, and the Jews of Europe during and after the Holocaust. And from this direct line of suffering, one can begin to understand not only the continuity of the form of Jewish suffering – but the continuity the persecution of the Jews over the course of the long exile that began in 70 CE with the destruction of the Second Temple.

NETANYAHU’S RESEARCH into the life of Abravanel led him to his most important historical discovery. While working in one of the libraries in Spain, he came across the writings of Jewish leaders in Spain from the years leading up to the Inquisition and expulsion in 1492. He discovered that in the early and mid-15th century, the Jewish community hated and feared the former Jews who were forcibly converted en masse to Christianity during the first state offensive against the Jews in 1391.

Until Netanyahu came across these writings, he shared the popular view that the so-called Conversos were heroes who led a double life. On the outside, they were Christian, but they remained Jews in secret.

What he discovered was that this heroic posture lasted at most one generation. The children of the Conversos were enthusiastic Catholics. Many rose to power in the Catholic Church.

Whereas the Jews who remained in Spain after 1391 were by and large a pitiful, impoverished remnant of what had once been a magnificent community, the Conversos quickly became the leaders of Spain, and in so doing, angered their fellow Catholic Spaniards who envied their success.

Netanyahu’s findings led to his revolutionary conclusion that the Spanish Inquisition did not target the Jews as a religion, but the Jews as a race. Most of those who died by Torquemada’s sword were loyal Catholics whose only crime was their possession of Jewish blood. The real Jews were not killed. They were expelled. His conclusion from his finding was that there was nothing unique or new about the Nazis’ racial and genocidal hatred of the Jews.

Netanyahu’s intellectual journey shaped and sharpened his perception of the Jewish condition. It fortified his conviction that Zionism is the only means of securing the lives of Jews as individuals and the existence of the Jewish nation.

Netanyahu’s Zionism was not a hyphenated one. It was not Labor Zionism, like the Zionism of David Ben-Gurion and his socialist followers. It was not religious Zionism, like that of the Lovers of Zion movement which formed the core of the initial modern Jewish settlement drive in the Land of Israel.

He learned from the early Zionist leader Yehuda Pinsker’s seminal pamphlet, Auto-Emancipation, that Zionism rejects utopianism. Netanyahu’s own lesson from the Spanish Inquisition is that for Jews, assimilation is as much of a utopian path as socialism. As Pinsker, and later Theodor Herzl made clear, the only way for Jews to be redeemed is by doing it themselves.

In his study of Pinkser from 1944, Netanyahu wrote, “Pinsker thought that normal relations between national groupings are not based on mutual affection but on mutual respect.”

According to Pinsker, what distinguished exile Jews from all other nations was the Jews’ failure to understand this basic truth. For the Zionist movement to succeed in liberating the Jews, its leaders needed to demand and command the respect – not the sympathy – of other nations.

AS NETANYAHU showed in his 1937 article on Herzl’s Zionist doctrine, Herzl, the man who built the diplomatic and legal edifice upon which the State of Israel was created, believed that Zionism rested on two essential foundations: international recognition of the Jews’ right to sovereignty over the Land of Israel; and Jewish military capacity to defend those sovereign rights.

Until his death in 1904, Herzl worked feverishly to build international recognition of the Jewish people’s right to the Land of Israel in its maximalist borders – from the Nile Delta to the Euphrates River. As Herzl understood, it is much harder to secure international recognition of sovereign rights than it is to give them up, and once they are renounced, they are all but impossible to regain.

What Herzl found was that it was much easier to secure international recognition of the rights of the Jewish people than it is to convince the Jews to muster the courage to demand, seize and defend those rights.

Netanyahu wrote his study of Herzl at the same time as the Zionist leadership in pre-state Israel was debating Britain’s Peel Commission’s partition plan. Although it provided for the establishment of a tiny, indefensible Jewish statelet, the plan involved Jewish renunciation of their sovereign rights to the overwhelming majority of the land they had lawfully received sovereign title to under the 1917 Balfour Declaration and the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. That sovereign title included all of present day Israel as well as Judea and Samaria, and arguably present-day Jordan as well.

Netanyahu argued that the tragedy of Zionism is that the leaders who took over after Herzl’s death – first and foremost Ahad Ha’am and Chaim Weizmann – lacked the courage to demand the rights of their nation, preferring to be loved than respected.

Lamenting this failure of will and what it was liable to mean for the future of the Jews as the drums of the next war grew ever stronger, Netanyahu wrote that the one thing that Herzl worked towards but failed to achieve was to change “the character of the nation.”

“This change,” he wrote, “which Herzl believed was critical, was not manifested in the spirit of its leaders, or more precisely, in the spirit of those, who conducted negotiations in the name of the Jewish people, and afterwards managed its affairs. When it was necessary to demonstrate the courage of a sovereign, which Herzl spoke of, when it was necessary to dare and demand from the world the Jewish State and sovereignty over that state, the nation’s representatives issued no such demand.”

In the end, despite Netanyahu’s reiteration of Herzl’s warning, the Zionist leadership accepted the Peel Commission’s partition plan, just as 10 years later they accepted the UN Partition Plan.

Fortunately for their ill-served nation, their willingness to renounce the Jews’ sovereign rights under the League of Nations Mandate was never binding, because the Arabs rejected the plans and so rendered them null and void. The Jewish nation’s sovereign rights to the Land of Israel remain in force today.

In 2005, Netanyahu republished his profiles of Pinsker and Herzl, as well as profiles on Max Nordau, Israel Zangwill and Ze’ev Jabotinsky, which were written between 1937 and 1981, as one collection. He called this book of essays The Founding Fathers of Zionism.

In his introduction to the collection, Netanyahu wrote, “The articles included in this book were written decades ago. They are published here as first written because I saw no reason to correct them....”

And he was right.

Zangwill once wrote, “The past is for inspiration, not imitation, for continuation, not repetition.”

The challenges the world Netanyahu departed last week present to the Jews bear striking similarities to those that faced the Jews throughout our history, and certainly since the dawn of modern Zionism. Unlike the options Abravanel had to weigh, since the dawn of modern Zionism, our leaders have had the option of demanding and commanding the respect of the nations of the world and so securing the lives of the Jews and nationhood of the Jewish people in our land.

Today the heirs of the failed utopian movements of the last century have joined forces with the jihadist heirs of the Mufti of Jerusalem to deny the Jewish people our sovereign rights to our land. If they succeed they will finally and irrevocably destroy Herzl’s greatest achievement.

The most ardent hope that comes through clearly in Netanyahu’s life work is that the Jews find a leader of Herzl’s stature, capable of demanding and commanding the world’s recognition and respect for our rights, and the ability to finish Herzl’s work by convincing the Jewish people that it is our right and our duty to assert and secure our destiny in our land.

Caroline B. Glick

Source: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=269524

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

Taliban Exploits Grief of U.S. POW Family


by Jonathan S. Tobin

The hearts of all Americans go out to the family of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the only known U.S. soldier being held captive by the Taliban. Bergdahl was captured by the enemy in June 2009 and is thought to be in the control of the Haqqani network in the tribal areas of northwestern Pakistan. He has never been allowed to send his parents any word nor has he been visited by the Red Cross. He was last seen in a Taliban video, but U.S. officials believe he is still alive. But after years of keeping silent about the ongoing negotiations that the government has attempted to free him, the Bergdahl family went public today and discussed their son’s plight with the New York Times. Their goal is to heighten the pressure on President Obama and his foreign policy team to give in to the demands of the Taliban on the release of prisoners held by the United States and our Afghan allies.

While their frustration with the slow pace of the negotiations is understandable, we can only hope the president will resist the pressure to give in to unreasonable demands not only on the prisoner exchange but concessions that would affect the future of Afghanistan. Though the United States should make every effort to secure Sergeant Bergdahl’s safe return, his situation should not be used as a pretext for handing Afghanistan back to the Taliban and their terrorist allies.

To its credit, the Times had not previously run a story on the effort to free Bergdahl because it was understood that publicity did not enhance his safety and merely aided the Taliban’s negotiating position. But the recent decision of the Taliban to break off the talks about Bergdahl prompted his family to go to the Times with their complaint that the administration isn’t being sufficiently accommodating to their son’s captors. The Bergdahls are worried that pressure from Congress not to negotiate with terrorists is influencing the president to be too tough. They hope by going public with their son’s story, they can generate pressure on the administration to give in. Moreover, the Times seems to think there are some in the government who welcome this pressure as they, too, would like to craft a deal with the Taliban that would effectively sell Afghanistan out.

I don’t fault the Bergdahls. The fact that, as the Times reports, they are Ron Paul supporters who oppose the war in Afghanistan is irrelevant to their mission to push for any deal to get their son back. Their only interest is in getting him home in one piece. The future of Afghanistan, the Taliban and the security interests of the region or the United States isn’t their concern–but it is the responsibility of the administration. As Bethany noted earlier this week, the administration has considered releasing Taliban prisoners without seeking the release of Sergeant Bergdahl in return.

If the Bergdahl case was like the lopsided prisoner exchanges conducted by Israel in order to obtain the release of prisoners like Gilad Shalit, drastic concessions would be understandable if regrettable, as it could be defended as part of the commander-in-chief’s duty not to leave any soldier behind. But as the Times makes clear, the Taliban’s goal is not so much to extract the highest possible price in prisoners for Bergdahl as it is to enhance its diplomatic efforts to force a peace deal that would bring them back to power. That is not something the administration should countenance. Nor should ordinary Americans who sympathize with the Bergdahls allow their emotions to cloud their reason.

Far from helping to free their son, the Bergdahls’ publicity offensive and any pressure they can help generate on the administration will only strengthen the bargaining position of Islamist terrorists. Much as Hamas and Hezbollah used Israeli prisoner families to make it harder for Jerusalem to negotiate, the Taliban will ruthlessly use the Bergdahls as long as it suits them.

The president should do everything in his power to bring Sergeant Bergdahl home including the paying of a ransom of some sort. But he cannot allow the family’s publicity efforts to influence him to sacrifice everything Americans have fought for in Afghanistan in the last decade.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/05/10/taliban-exploits-grief-of-u-s-pow-family/

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

Wahhabi Intolerance in the 21st Century


by Seth Mandel

In early 2011, along with a handful of other American journalists, I interviewed Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon in Jerusalem. Ayalon pressed the need for recognition of Israel on the part of the Palestinian leadership–but not in English or Hebrew. “Say it in Arabic, to your own children and to your own people,” Ayalon had said. The habit of Arab leaders to say one thing in English and another in Arabic has been a hallmark of Palestinian politics perfected by Yasir Arafat, and it’s long been a sticking point in Israel’s objection to Palestinian media manipulation.

“Say it in Arabic” encompasses more than just the Palestinian Authority. American intelligence agencies have been unusually public about their need for Arabic speakers. The language barrier gives Arab leaders unrestrained leeway to say whatever they want, and tracking what these leaders say in Arabic to their home audiences has been an essential part of attempting to hold these leaders accountable. So it’s encouraging to see a new report from the Foundation for Defense of Democracies spearheaded by FDD’s vice president for research (and COMMENTARY contributor) Jonathan Schanzer.

With the understanding that in the age of social media it’s no longer sufficient just to analyze Arab leaders’ public speeches and sermons in mind, FDD contracted with the Washington-based technology firm ConStrat to analyze six months worth of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media messages from Saudi clerics in English and Arabic. The result is contained in the in-depth report, written by Schanzer and FDD research associate Steven Miller, “Facebook Fatwa: Saudi Clerics, Wahhabi Islam and Social Media.” The whole report is worth reading, as is this interview the Jerusalem Post conducted with Schanzer, but the report makes clear there have been both promising and troubling trends:

The tone and tenor of the conversations ConStrat coded was mixed, but was generally marked by an absence of overt militancy. This does not, however, indicate an absence of intolerant or xenophobic positions. According to the data scored with ConStrat’s proprietary VX software, views that were hostile to America, the West, and non-Muslim or secular cultures represented nearly 52 percent of the English data, while in Arabic they represented 75 percent….

Saudi Arabia’s success in reducing militant online content is a positive sign that the Saudi government can, when sufficiently motivated, temper the radicalism that percolates in the kingdom. This is also a sign that when the U.S. properly applies pressure, it can have a noticeable impact.

However, the kingdom’s recent attempts to convince the West that it is promoting “religious tolerance” and embracing change do not resonate with the content mined during this study.

As Schanzer told the Post, that’s not a lot of violence, but it’s an overwhelming amount of intolerance and misogyny. And it explains why Ayalon’s appeal to “say it in Arabic” remains good advice for proponents of true peace and reform in the Arab world.

Seth Mandel

Source: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/05/11/wahhabi-intolerance-in-the-21st-century/

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

What Do Egyptians Want? A Democratically Elected Islamist Dictatorship


by Barry Rubin

Yes, friends, it’s once again time for that exciting game of Spin the Polls by the Pew Foundation. Here are the rules:

Rule 1: Pew does a good job on the poll itself.

Rule 2: The Pew analysis ignores or misunderstands the implications of the poll.

Rule 3: The Western media and government misread the poll, often misinterpreting the results into the exact opposite of what they actually mean. They then adopt the wrong policies.

Rule 4: If correctly interpreted the polls are a gold mine that can help us comprehend the present and predict the future.

Some years ago, for example, I analyzed a Pew poll that we were told proved moderation because it showed that people in Arab and Muslim-majority countries had a low opinion of al-Qaida. In fact, as I wrote the poll showed a shockingly high level of support for revolutionary Islamism, especially in Egypt and Jordan.

Once again we have the misleading spin beginning with the headline: “Egyptians Remain Optimistic, Embrace Democracy and Religion in Political Life.”

If I were writing the headline it would be: “Egyptians Want Radical Islamist State More Than Anything Else.”

To be fair to Pew, the lead of their analysis is something very significant that couldn’t have been imagined before now: “Opinions of the U.S. and President Obama continue to be overwhelmingly unfavorable.” This is somehow spun, however, to imply that there is no real crisis and that U.S. policy need not be reexamined or changed.

After all, the Obama Administration’s role in helping to overthrow not just President Husni Mubarak (a reasonable action) but the entire regime brought no gain for the United States whatsoever. Instead it helped bring to power an anti-American regime likely to destabilize the region and bring war.

The poll concludes that Egyptians still want the same type of relationship with the United States. But what does this mean other than continuing to take U.S. aid money? Using America as a scapegoat—as Middle Eastern dictatorships have done now for more than a half-century—it won’t be long before hate-America rallies, demagogic anti-American speeches, a lack of cooperation on issues, and violence-inciting broadcasts or articles become routine.

You won’t be surprised to hear that two-thirds of Egyptians want to throw out the peace treaty with Israel. The U.S. Congress has properly determined that this would lead to an end of U.S. aid. So what will the next Egyptian government do? Simple, don’t throw out the treaty formally but just break it in every way possible.

What’s most critical is how Egyptians think of their own country. Here’s a very revealing apparent contradiction. Read carefully.

The Pew poll’s headline says that Egyptians are optimistic but that they also believe the economic situation is not good. Half of them claim things have gotten worse since Mubarak fell. Why then do 53 percent (albeit 65 percent) believe the country is headed in the right direction?

The answer is that they are happy with the political direction—toward radical Islamism—but do not think it will improve their material lives. They make a distinction between material benefit and spiritual-ideological preference. Such a choice is never understood in the West, especially by those who argue that everyone wants the same things in life, so an Islamist regime must deliver prosperity or fall, and consequently that radicals must moderate in order to fill their people’s stomachs.

Remember what Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, architect of Iran’s revolution, said back in 1979: People in the West don’t understand that we didn’t make this revolution to lower the price of watermelons.

No, the substitute for such material success is repression plus finding the right scapegoat and subsidizing certain key constituencies (notably the military), which brings us back to the antagonism against the need to build antagonism against the United States, Israel, and the West, doesn’t it?

Another apparent contradiction is equally revealing. When asked whether they preferred to model Egypt on Saudi Arabia or Turkey regarding religion’s role in government, thy chose Saudi Arabia by a 61 to 17 percent margin. Note that Western pundits and experts keep insisting that there is some kind of Turkish model of moderate Islamism. Aside from the fact that Turks aren’t Arabs, this is a sign of the base of support for a fully sharia state. Remember that as Sunni Muslims, Egyptians are not going to cite Iran as their model. And when they are talking about Saudi Arabia they are not indicating its basic alliance with the United States but its extreme form of Islamic rule in domestic life.

When asked if Egypt’s laws should strictly adhere to the Quran, 60 percent said yes while another 32 percent said it should follow the values and principles of Islam more generally. Let’s say that this 60 percent (see the Saudi model, above) is the firm base for Islamist rule. This is less than the 75 percent the Islamists received in the parliamentary elections, suggesting that 15 percent of these voters are not so totally for an Islamist society.

That 32 percent are not “moderate Muslims” or “secularist Muslims” but they are non-Islamist Muslims. A few years ago there were a lot more of them but their ranks are steadily eroded by the advance of revolutionary Islamism. Since there is no strong alternative theological or political leadership in that direction, this is unlikely to be strong enough to block an Islamist transformation. And who is left as the genuine, secular or for a minimally religious state? The Christians, that’s about all.

Pew makes much of supposed moderation by pointing out that two-thirds of those who endorsed the Saudi model also said democracy is their preferred form of government; 64 percent want a free press; 61 percent want free speech.

But what does this really mean in the context of Egypt? Of course they support “democracy” since the alternative they have in mind is the hated Mubarak dictatorship. And what does democracy mean to them? A landslide victory for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists! Thus, when they think about, “This is what democracy looks like,” that means eternal Islamist victories.

As for a free press and free speech, that means diversity, though we should remember that proportionately newspaper reading in Egypt is tiny compared to the West. Yet what would happen if someone used this free press or free speech for something deemed critical of Islam?

Already we are seeing people brought to court for saying things the Islamists don’t like. Yet the cases are heard by Mubarak-appointed judges. What will happen when the Islamists appoint the judges?

The hypnotized observers in the West keep chanting that the Brotherhood has renounced violence and would never ever use force and intimidation. If you want to know what Egypt has in store consider the following:

In 1992–under Mubarak’s regime–Farag Fouda, a fearless secularist, debated a Muslim Brotherhood leader at the Cairo Book Fair. Five months later, an Islamist assassinated Fouda. At the trial, a Muslim Brotherhood leader testified as a defense witness that the killing was the proper punishment for an apostate, at which point the defendant shouted, “Now I will die with a clear conscience.”

That was a Mubarak court and the killer was found guilty. What will happen in an Islamist regime’s court?

Many Egyptians will die, as will U.S. interests. Will the Western apologists and enablers have a clear conscience?

PS: The Washington Post covered very briefly the debate between two presidential candidates, the radical nationalist secularist, Abu Moussa, and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh. The Post article informs us that Aboul Fotouh is “considered a moderate Islamist.” By whom? In the debate, Aboul Fotouh said he would implement Sharia with supposed moderation. His formula, which the report missed, is that Sharia might not be imposed 100 percent. So much for moderation.

The Post also reported that he called Israel the enemy of Egypt. But the article missed Aboul Fotouh’s signal about Israel, which he called “ built on occupation.” To any Egyptian that says: Israel is an illegitimate entity that has no right to exist. Abu Moussa personally has shown he hates Israel but also demonstrates why he would make a president more likely to keep Egypt out of war and disaster:

“We have lots of disagreements. Most of our people consider it an enemy, but the responsibility of the president is to deal with such things responsibly and not run after hot-headed slogans.”

In broader terms, this is the choice Egypt will have to make–radical ideology and hot-headed slogans or pragmatism. The electorate’s views; size of Egypt’s problems; lack of resources that would allow constructive policies that would improve people’s lives materially; parliament; drafters of the new Constitution, violent Salafists (who support Aboul Fotouh), and probably the president will all be in the former camp.

Barry Rubin

Source: http://www.gloria-center.org/2012/05/what-do-egyptians-want-a-democratically-elected-islamist-dictatorship/

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

Greece's Radical Turn to the Left to be Confirmed in Next Month's Election


by Rick Moran

When you consider that the radical socialist party Syriza won the second largest number of votes in last weekend's election, beating out the establishment socialist PASOK party for second place, the chances are pretty good that some form of far left coalition will emerge after the dust settles next month from the new vote.

That vote has become necessary because the leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, wants all austerity measures implemented in order to receive money from the EU/IMF bailout, to be lifted immediately and he refuses to join any coalition government that refuses to do so.

Reuters:

Greek Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos is expected to turn over the responsibility of forming a unity government to the president of Greece on Saturday after failing to resolve a political gridlock and avert the need for new elections.

On Friday, Venizelos announced the Radical Left Coalition, or Syriza, refused to join the socialists and conservatives in a unity government due to a disagreement on the country's economic austerity program. The Socialist and conservative New Democracy parties have proposed a gradual phasing out of the tough measures imposed by the European Union and International Monetary Fund in exchange for a bailout loan. The leftists want those measures canceled immediately. If there is no lasting agreement by May 17, new elections will be called.

President Karolos Papoulias is expected to call on parties to form an emergency coalition to govern until new elections are held.

Greek voters punished both the Socialists PASOK and New Democracy for having pushed through the tough economic austerity measures in return for huge international loans to avert bankruptcy.

Venizelos is the third Greek leader who tried and failed to form a government after inconclusive elections last Sunday.

Earlier Friday, Venizelos met with the leader of the Conservative Party, Antonis Samaras, for talks on a coalition government. Another possible ally, the small Democratic Left party, said it would not join a government made up only of Socialists and the conservative New Democracy party and that did not include Syriza.

The response from Germany was simple and direct: Greece will get no more money without reforms. During the campaign, Tsipras sold the Greek voters on the idea that this was all a big bluff, that the EU couldn't survive without Greece. I doubt whether even a loony leftist like Tsipras really believes that, but it worked; his party is now a major player in what is going to be a post-EU Greece.

And if the Greek people thought austerity was painful, wait until they experience the torture of default.

Rick Moran

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/05/greeces_radical_turn_to_the_left_to_be_confirmed_in_next_months_election.html

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

Reclaiming State Department Clarity on Jihad and Sharia


by Andrew G. Bostom

Islam's defining doctrine of jihad war against non-Muslims, and resultant 14 centuries of sanguinary imperialism, and accompanying acts of terrorism, through the present, notwithstanding, ad nauseum contemporary State Department pronouncements re-affirm what Muslim propagandists insist--that the creed is an enlightened pacifism.

Glaring examples of this corrosive State Department apologetic on Islam have been provided by the two most recent Secretaries of State, Condoleeza Rice, and the current Secretary, Hillary Clinton. Then Secretary Rice, at The Annual State Department Iftar Dinner, October 25, 2005, amplified the standard "religion of peace" trope, asserting Islam was

...a great faith, of one of the world's great religions, a religion of peace and love.

During her September 15, 2009 Iftar Dinner address, Secretary Clinton used the jihadist Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, Council on American Islamic Relations' (CAIR's) deliberately inflated estimate of US Muslims (~ 7million; hard data from the Pew Forum in early 2010 tallied 2.6 million US Muslims), to claim,

The nearly 7 million Muslims in our country have enriched our culture, have made it stronger because of the contributions that many of you and others across America have given to us.

Clinton then added her own hagiographic editorial comments on Islam, as ostensibly embodied in the celebration of Ramadan (ignoring the association between Ramadan and jihadism, since the advent of the creed), and the supposed benevolent example of Islam's prophet, Muhammad (oblivious to his role, affirmed by institutional Islam, as the prototype jihadist):

Now, this time of self-reflection and clarity reminds us that the principles that are the hallmark of Ramadan - charity, sacrifice, and compassion... we need to be inspired by our leaders to fight poverty, injustice and hate with, "the weapon of the Prophet--patience and righteousness." Well, that, to me, sums up much of what we celebrate tonight as we break fast.

Such obsequious pandering to Islam--despite the daily confirmed, abject failure of these efforts to provide any strategic benefit to the US--was not always enshrined State Department "policy."

Edward A. Van Dyck, then US Consular Clerk at Cairo, Egypt, prepared a detailed report in August 1880 on the history of the treaty arrangements (so-called "capitulations") between the Muslim Ottoman Empire, European nations, and the much briefer US-Ottoman experience. Van Dyck's report--written specifically as a tool for State Department diplomats--opens with an informed, pellucid, and remarkably compendious explanation of jihad and Islamic law (Sharia):

In all the many works on Mohammedan law no teaching is met with that even hints at those principles of political intercourse between nations, that have been so long known to the peoples of Europe, and which are so universally recognized by them. "Fiqh," as the science of Moslem jurisprudence is called, knows only one category of relation between those who recognize the apostleship of Mohammed and all others who do not, namely Djehad [jihad[; that is to say, strife, or holy war. Inasmuch as the propagation of Islam was to be the aim of all Moslems, perpetual warfare against the unbelievers, in order to convert them, or subject them to the payment of tribute, came to be held by Moslem doctors [legists] as the most sacred duty of the believer. This right to wage war is the only principle of international law which is taught by Mohammedan jurists; ...with the Arabs the term harby [harbi] (warrior) expresses not only an unbeliever but also an enemy; and jehady [jihadi] (striver, warrior) means the believer-militant. From the Moslem point of view, the whole world is divided into two parts--"the House of Islam," and the House of War;" out of this division has arisen the other popular dictum of the Mohammedans that "all kinds of unbelievers from but one people."

The witless and self-destructive apologetic on Islam which currently permeates our State Department even includes grotesque, de facto endorsement of Islamic "blasphemy" law, as promulgated by the Muslim avatars of a modern Caliphate, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

We are in desperate need of a strong new Secretary of State willing to purge the State Department of all those dogmatically inculcating such counterfactual, delusive Islamophilia. Diplomats possessed of--or at least receptive to learning--Van Dyck's unapologetic wisdom, must be recruited and installed if we are to survive the violent and non-violent jihad being waged against the US. America employed such informed, clear-eyed patriotic diplomats in the past; we need them now more than ever before.

Andrew G. Bostom

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2012/05/reclaiming_state_department_clarity_on_jihad_and_sharia.html

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

Palestinian Journalists Union Fights Palestinian Journalists


by Khaled Abu Toameh

In recent weeks, Palestinian Authority security forces arrested at least nine journalists and bloggers in the West Bank for exposing corruption. The Palestinian Authority and its media group clearly do not want the outside world to receive information about the situation in the Palestinian territories.

As journalists worldwide celebrated World Free Press Day on May 3, the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank chose to wage a campaign of intimidation against Palestinian reporters who commit the "crime" of meeting with Israeli counterparts.

The decision to punish Palestinian journalists who hold meetings with Israeli colleagues began after a series of joint seminars that were held in Norway, Germany and France. At these seminars, Israeli and Palestinian journalists discussed joint cooperation and ways of promoting freedom of expression.

The syndicate, dominated by Fatah and affiliated with the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah, threatened sanctions against any Palestinian journalist who engages in "normalization" with Israel.

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate functions more as a political body than a union that is supposed to defend the rights of its members.

The syndicate wants Palestinian journalists to serve as soldiers on behalf of the Palestinian cause. Journalists, according to the syndicate, should first and foremost be loyal to their president, prime minister, government, homeland and cause. As for the truth, it appears at the bottom of the syndicate's list of priorities.

The syndicate's main task should be to defend freedom of media in the Palestinian territories. But instead of fighting for the rights of Palestinian journalists, who are facing a campaign of intimidation under the two Palestinian governments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the syndicate has also decided to join the clampdown on freedom of expression.

A syndicate that reports directly to the office of the president in Ramallah can never serve the interests of Palestinian journalists.

Cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian journalists has never been a new or unique phenomenon. Long before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, representatives of the two sides maintained close ties, often exchanging information and helping each other cover stories both inside Israel and the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But the Palestinian Authority's syndicate is now trying to put an end to this cooperation under the pretext of combating normalization with Israel.

Sanctions include expulsion from the syndicate and a boycott by Palestinian newspapers and other media outlets belonging to the Palestinian Authority.

If anyone stands to lose from the ban on holding contacts with Israeli media representatives, it is the Palestinian journalists themselves. Over the past few decades, Palestinian journalists have helped Israeli newspapers and TV stations cover the story on the Palestinian side. Thanks to this cooperation, the Israeli public learned a lot about what was happening in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In recent weeks, Palestinian Authority security forces in the West Bank arrested at least nine Palestinian journalists and bloggers for exposing corruption scandals and posting comments critical of Palestinian leaders on Facebook. The affected journalists complained that the syndicate did not make a serious effort on their behalf, limiting its response to issuing laconic statements demanding the release of some of the detainees.

The Palestinian Authority and its media group clearly do not want the Israeli public and the outside world to receive information about the situation in the Palestinian territories.

This is why they are now waging the new campaign of intimidation against journalists who are found guilty of meeting with Israeli counterparts.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3058/palestinian-journalists-union

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

Mexican Jihad


by Raymond Ibrahim

"Our porous southern border is a nightmare waiting to happen."

As the United States considers the Islamic jihadi threats confronting it from all sides, it might do well to focus on its southern neighbor, Mexico, which has been targeted by Islamists and jihadists, who, through a number of tactics—from engaging in da'wa, converting Mexicans to Islam, to smuggling and the drug cartel, to simple extortion, kidnappings and enslavement—have been subverting Mexico in order to empower Islam and sabotage the U.S.

According to a 2010 report, "Close to home: Hezbollah terrorists are plotting right on the U.S. border," which appeared in the NY Daily News:

Mexican authorities have rolled up a Hezbollah network being built in Tijuana, right across the border from Texas and closer to American homes than the terrorist hideouts in the Bekaa Valley are to Israel. Its goal, according to a Kuwaiti newspaper that reported on the investigation: to strike targets in Israel and the West. Over the years, Hezbollah—rich with Iranian oil money and narcocash—has generated revenue by cozying up with Mexican cartels to smuggle drugs and people into the U.S. In this, it has shadowed the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Tehran, which has been forging close ties with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who in turn supports the narcoterrorist organization FARC, which wreaks all kinds of havoc throughout the region.

Another 2010 article appearing in the Washington Times asserts that, "with fresh evidence of Hezbollah activity just south of the border [in Mexico], and numerous reports of Muslims from various countries posing as Mexicans and crossing into the United States from Mexico, our porous southern border is a national security nightmare waiting to happen." This is in keeping with a recent study done by Georgetown University, which revealed that the number of immigrants from Lebanon and Syria living in Mexico exceeds 200,000. Syria, along with Iran, is one of Hezbollah's strongest financial and political supporters, and Lebanon is the immigrants' country of origin.

A jihadist cell in Mexico was recently found to have a weapons cache of 100 M-16 assault rifles, 100 AR-15 rifles, 2,500 hand grenades, C4 explosives and antitank munitions. The weapons, it turned out, had been smuggled by Muslims from Iraq. According to this report, "obvious concerns have arisen concerning Hezbollah's presence in Mexico and possible ties to Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO's) operating along the U.S.—Mexico border."

As far back as 2005, an article entitled "Islam is gaining a Foothold in Chiapas" showcased the inroads of Islam in Mexico:

Long a bastion of Catholicism, southern Mexico is quickly turning into a battleground for soul-savers. Islam, too, is gaining a foothold and the indigenous Mayans are converting by the hundreds. The Mexican government is worried about a culture clash in their own backyard… Muslim women in headscarves have become a common sight….

"Life is cheap" in impoverished Mexico. You want a job? Fine, pray five times a day, etc…

Kidnappings, as part of a drug cartel or as part of a jihadist operation, which legitimizes crimes such as kidnapping and child slavery, have become increasingly common. To convert non-Muslims to their cause, Islamists also whip up—and then exploit—a sense of "grievance" against the "white man."

In addition, according to counterterrorism experts in this report, Islamic terrorists blend in better with Mexicans than with Europeans, thereby enabling them to sneak into the U.S. across the southwest border. This Muslim cleric, for example, discusses how easy it is to smuggle a briefcase containing anthrax from Mexico into America, thereby killing at least some 330,000 Americans in a single hour.

Similarly, Michael Braun, formerly assistant administrator and chief of operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said that the Iran-backed Lebanese group has long been involved in narcotics and human trafficking in South America; however, it is relying on Mexican narcotics syndicates that control access to transit routes into the U.S. Hezbollah relies on "the same criminal weapons smugglers, document traffickers and transportation experts as the drug cartels."

Only a few months ago, Washington announced that FBI and DEA agents disrupted a plot to commit a "significant terrorist act in the United States," tied to Iran with roots in Mexico. The increased violence—including beheadings, Islam's signature trademark—is even more indicative that Islamists are well ensconced in Mexico's drug cartel.

The threat is not limited to Hezbollah; back in 2006, according to an ISN, "Mexican authorities investigated the activities of the Murabitun [a da'wa, or missionary-outreach, organization named after historic jihadists along Spain's borders] due to reports of alleged immigration and visa abuses involving the group's European members and possible radicals, including al-Qaeda."

Even innocuous reports, such as this Muslim article, are cause for concern: "Today, most Mexican Islamic organizations focus on grassroots da'wa. These small organizations are most effective at the community level, going from village to village and speaking directly to the people." Although this may not sound problematic, the strain of Islam being spread by many of these da'wa organizations is the radical, "Salafist," anti-American variety. Here, for instance, is a popular Egyptian TV cleric saying that while Muslims must never smile to non-Muslims—who, as "infidels," are by nature the enemy—they are free to do so if the Muslim is engaged in da'wa, trying to win over the infidel into the fold of Islam, especially if the potential convert can help empower Islam in any way.

These are but a few of the many reports on Islam in Mexico. The evidence that many Islamists in Mexico are plotting against the U.S., using all means—such as drug trafficking, which is not forbidden in Sharia law if it serves to empower Islam—is overwhelming.

Under various methods—from the violent to the subversive to the exploitative—Islam allows Muslims to lie and commit other duplicitous acts in the furtherance of Islam. Taqiyya [dissimulation] permits Hezbollah and other Islamists To engage in Mexico's drug cartel, just as "pious" members of the Taliban in Afghanistan pursued the heroin trade. Aside from sheer violence, justified as "jihad," or holy war, tactics pursued by Mexico's Islamists include:

· Kidnappings and enslavement, for which Mexico is already notorious. Sharia permits kidnapping, and even enslaving the infidel, in this situation, any non-Muslim in Mexico. The Quran not only approves of this, but allows male jihadists to have sex with female captives of war (Sura 4, verse 3). Here, for example, is a Muslim politician trying to legalize the institution of "sex-slavery."

· Extortion and blackmail, features of the Mexican landscape, are also permissible in Islam. According to Sharia, during jihad, Muslims are permitted to hold for ransom infidels to be sold back for large amounts of money. Here, for instance, is a popular Egyptian sheikh saying that the Islamic world's problem is that it has stopped plundering and enslaving its infidel neighbors. He even boasts that under true Sharia, he could go to the local market and "buy" a female "sex-slave."

In using subversive elements for da'wa, Muslims might comfortably use false arguments to turn Mexicans against their northern neighbors. They might, for instance, argue that Islam is a religion of "racial equality," whereas Christianity is the "white man's" religion, imposed on their ancestors by racist whites who sought to keep them "impoverished" beyond the border. Islamist strategies in Mexico amount to trying to win the unbelievers over to their side, whether through conversion or just cooperation. For those who refuse to cooperate, they are infidels to be used in any way that seems fit.

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

Source: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/3055/mexican-jihad

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

Russia Wants Obama Re-Elected


by David Meir-Levi



Well, now we know what the “hot mic” incident was all about. The Wall Street Journal’s “Moscow Raises Alarm over Missile-Defense Plan for Europe” (Friday, May 4, 2012), makes the connection.

At an international conference on Thursday, May 3, organized at Russia’s initiative, the Russian delegates showed computer-generated images of a hypothetical Russian pre-emptive missile attack on segments of a missile defense shield and early warning system that the US and NATO want to put in place in Turkey, Rumania and Poland. Quite a scary threat from the former USSR’s 900-pound gorilla and one-time global nuclear super-power.

NATO says that the missile defense system is meant to counter Iran’s threats of a WMD Shi’ite Armageddon. However, the Russians are not comforted, because they fear that the NATO anti-missile missiles could also be used to shoot down Russian nuclear-armed missiles aimed at the West; and such a potential threat from the west could “undermine their country’s nuclear deterrent[.]”

The Russians organized the Thursday conference in order to place their threat on the table, loud and clear, and make public their demand that they get a written agreement that the West will never use its missiles against Russia. Currently, the USA and NATO have refused to put such a promise in writing, although Russia-NATO agreements on missile defense cooperation date back to 2010. The timing of this meeting is important. It comes shortly before a NATO conference due to take place in Chicago later this month at which NATO will publicize its success in getting its missile-defense system up and running. Russia’s pre-emptive threat of a missile war against the West if the West does not agree to its demands puts a big kink in the Chicago conference.

But according to the Wall Street Journal article, Russia’s alarming saber-rattling is really a façade to hide a “tacit agreement to put off serious talks until next year,” by which time Obama, if re-elected, could “clear the way for a deal” and work on Russia’s behalf against NATO to find ways to accommodate the Russian demands. The Russian presenter on Thursday was direct and unambiguous that Russia prefers to work with Obama as a second-term president, and to cooperate with his vision of a “reset” in the USA- Russia relationship, rather than to joust with Romney whose election they feel will make things “surely … more difficult.”

So what the Russians have actually said is: if you want to keep the Russian bear from getting aggressive, elect Obama, not Romney. This is an unusually overt attempt by a foreign power to influence American elections, but it is not surprising since Romney has been harshly critical of Obama’s “reset” vision.

The Wall Street Journal made the obvious connection between this impasse and the “hot mic” incident in March where Obama told Russian Prime Minister Medvedev to tell Russian soon-to-be President Vladimir Putin to temporarily back off regarding this issue since Obama would have “more flexibility” to deal with it after the November 6 elections.

As reporters gathered for a news conference in Seoul, South Korea, Obama leaned over to his Russian counterpart. Without realizing a microphone was open, he said: “This is my last election and after my last election I have more flexibility,” …referring to his ability to reach a deal with Russia on missile defense. Medvedev replied: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir,” a reference to the incoming Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Obama attempted to weasel out of the implications of his gaffe by explaining to reporters in Korea that arms control negotiations are extremely complex and require bipartisan cooperation in the U.S.; so they cannot be a public issue just months before presidential and congressional elections. But “I don’t think it’s any surprise that you can’t start that a few months before a presidential and congressional elections in the United States,” simply does not address the core problem. His intention to hide his willingness to be flexible toward Russia about Russian demands couched in cold-war terminology relating to the possibility of nuclear war bespeak his awareness that these intentions will not be acceptable to the American voting public; and this is all the more reason to make them public.

Romney said it was alarming that Obama was “looking for greater flexibility where he doesn’t have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia … [Russia is] without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe. They fight every cause for the world’s worst actor. The idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed.”

The New York Times version of this issue made no mention of the “hot mic” incident but did point out that Russian leaders have refused Obama’s request that the Kremlin pressure Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to comply with the UN’s cease-fire plans. The Times also noted that Obama himself stalled the progress of the NATO plans for the early warning and missile defense system because he sought a “reset” in the USA’s relationship with Russia, and Russian concerns about the NATO early warning system were a stumbling block to Obama’s plans. Obama’s willingness to be flexible toward the Russian demands may stem in part from the desire to co-opt the Kremlin into pressuring Assad; but it also seems clear that Obama, not knowing that he was speaking to Medvedev in front of a hot microphone, did not want to let the American electorate know of his intentions for flexibility toward Russia regarding the NATO missile defense system impasse. In other words, his flexibility toward Russia, if it were made public, might hinder his re-election.

And the Russians are not ungrateful. Obama’s pay-back for his willingness to be flexible next year is Russia’s endorsement of his re-election by telling the world, at this conference, that if the USA elects Romney, there might be war with Russia.

An American special envoy to the Russian conference indicated that the American delegation was not sympathetic to the Russian demands and unwilling to offer the limitations that Russia wants. She stated: “There’s nothing I can imagine that will stop us making these deployments on time.”

Well, actually there is: Obama’s re-election.

David Meir-Levi

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/05/11/russia-wants-obama-re-elected/

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

What Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner Really Showed Us About Israel


by Ryan Mauro



The media firestorm over Israeli Lt. Col. Shalom Eisner never seems to end. It all started when video was posted of Eisner violently striking a protester with his rifle, sparking outrage throughout the world. Immediately, the video was shown as proof of Israeli brutality. But is this really a fair depiction?

Eisner was immediately condemned by Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli Defense Forces Chief of Staff. The Israeli media relentlessly covered the incident. He was suspended, has been banned from holding command posts for two years, was reassigned to a training school and is still under investigation. It is very possible that he will face further punishment.

That is the real story here. Israel’s furious reaction to the video debunks what its enemies claim it proves. If the Israelis were so inhumane, this wouldn’t be such a big story. There is no other country in the Middle East that would react the same way if roles were reversed. Ironically, the controversy is showing what is so good about Israel, even if no one notices.

Some context is also needed here. A group of about 250 anti-Israel activists were stopped as they tried to get on Highway 90, as the IDF requires advance notice of such crossings as a security precaution. Keep in mind, the group was part of the International Solidarity Movement, a group that says it is non-violent but supports “the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggles.” In other words, ISM supports violence.

The ISM-affiliated group began illegally blocking the road and the stand-off continued for two hours. The Israeli soldiers didn’t open fire or forcibly disperse them. Eisner was assaulted, breaking two of his fingers. You can see his bandaged fingers in the video. After a Danish anarchist got in his face, Eisner lost his temper and whacked him in the face with his rifle. The ISM got what it wanted, all on tape. A second video surfaced, showing Eisner hitting some others as they tried to force their way past the Israeli soldiers.

The founders of the ISM sought to supplement the jihadists’ violent campaign with a political and psychological campaign. Lee Kaplan, an expert on the ISM and founder of StoptheISM.com, says that a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group designated by the U.S. as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, was instrumental in its creation. His website describes the group as “a front group for Yasser Arafat’s PLO and its affiliated Palestinian terrorist groups, such as the PFLP and Hamas. It works in conjunction with the Palestinian Authority’s propaganda ministries by Saudi funding through the Muslim Students Association on our U.S. and Canadian campuses.”

In 2002, two of the ISM’s cofounders, Huwaida Arraf and Adam Shapiro, said, “We accept the Palestinians have a right to resist with arms” and that fighting Israel must be “both non-violent and violent.” Arraf publicly stated that her group coordinates with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The ISM has intimate ties to the Palestine Solidarity Movement, which recruits students in the U.S. and Europe to go to the Palestinian territories.

In October 2011, Arraf confirmed her support for violence against Israel, saying, “We focus on providing support for the Palestinian unarmed resistance, not because we take a hostile view to the armed resistance, but rather because we believe that unarmed resistance is strategically more advantageous to Palestinians.” To be fair, she did add that “armed resistance MUST adhere to international law.”

Arraf is also the chairman of the Free Gaza Movement, which organized the Turkish flotilla provocation of 2010. The list of its allies is telling. The ISM with an Islamist group called the Foundation for Human Rights and Freedom and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) that has ties to terrorist groups to arrange the flotilla. The ship where the violence occurred had members of the Muslim Brotherhood on board, as well. The incident was designed to ambush Israel and create a violent incident, in accordance with the ISM’s strategy.

Arraf is also on the board of advisors for KinderUSA. The Investigative Project on Terrorism reports that it was formed in 2002 by two top officials with the Holy Land Foundation very shortly after their group was shut down for financing Hamas. That year, KindHearts gave $20,000 to KinderUSA. In 2006, the U.S. government froze KindHearts’ assets because it is “the progeny of the Holy Land Foundation and Global Relief Foundation, which attempted to mask their support for terrorism behind the façade of charitable giving.”

Eisner wasn’t right in what he did. He played right into the ISM’s hands, but there’s another way of looking at this story. He may not have made Israel look so great, but the aftermath did. No other country in the region would have reacted with such furor. No other country would have cared that a member of a violence-supporting group was assaulted after provoking a soldier.

Ryan Mauro

Source: http://frontpagemag.com/2012/05/11/what-lt-col-shalom-eisner-really-showed-us-about-israel/

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

Thursday, May 10, 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."

Israel

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...

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Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) 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.

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