Archive for July 30, 2017

Vladimir Putin orders 755 American diplomats to leave Russia

July 30, 2017

Vladimir Putin orders 755 American diplomats to leave Russia, Washington ExaminerKelly Cohen, July 30, 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday ordered 755 U.S. diplomats to leave Russia.

According to AFP, Putin ordered the diplomats to leave Russia Sunday and added there would be no improvement in relations between the U.S. and Russia soon.

The move appears to make good on a promise Moscow made on Friday threatening to cut hundreds of diplomatic staff in response to the new sanctions legislation.

Russia also said it would seize two U.S. diplomatic properties in retaliation to the legislation.

When the bill beomes law, Trump will be unable to ease sanctions against Russia unless he gets congressional approval to do so. The legislation cleared Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support, by a 98-2 vote in the Senate and 419-3 in the House.

The legislation is part of a larger response to Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a conclusion reached with certainty by the U.S. intelligence community.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister said his country’s retaliation over U.S. actions against Russia was “overdue.”

“I think this retaliation is long, long overdue,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on ABC’s “This Week” earlier on Sunday.

“We have a very rich toolbox at our disposal. It would be ridiculous on my part to start speculating on what may or may not happen,” Ryabkov said. “I can assure you that different options are on the table and consideration is being given to all sorts of things, both symmetrical or asymmetrical, to use a very popular word in the world of diplomacy.”

Islamic Reform: How Firm a Foundation?

July 30, 2017

Islamic Reform: How Firm a Foundation? Jihad Watch

Pipes writes with realistic optimism, Islamists “know their movement is doomed because Muslims will opt for the benefits of modern life.” To what extent Muslims can find such modernity within Islam remains an open question illuminatingly posed by Douglass-Williams.

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“If this book [Quran] came from God and it’s divine and perfect, then the Jihadis are justified,” states Islam reformer Shireen Qudosi in The Challenge of Modernizing Islam: Reformers Speak Out and the Obstacles They Face. Her sober conclusion amidst an illuminating collection of interviews with her like-minded colleagues in Christine Douglass-Williams’ indispensable recent book indicates the daunting obstacles facing any Islamic doctrinal reform.

Analogous to the recent thinking of the Muslim apostate Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Douglass-Williams’ interviewees distinguish between Islam and Islamism. For Salim Mansur, Islam is a “personal faith, just as to Christians” while Zuhdi Jasser, a “Jeffersonian type of Muslim” who believes “society should be run by reason,” equates Islamism as “interchangeable with the term ‘political Islam.’” Islamists, elaborates Islam scholar Daniel Pipes in a book forward, are “advocates of applying Islamic law in its entirety and severity as a means to regain the medieval glory of Islam.”

Douglass-Williams herself concedes that “normative Islam is Islamism” and notes the standard objection to any Islam/Islamism dichotomy. “It is often argued that there is no distinction between the words ‘Islamism’ and ‘Islam,’ because Islam is inherently political” as a comprehensive, even totalitarian, belief system encompassing both piety and politics. As Pipes stated to her, an “aggressive Jihadi sentiment, an Islamic supremacist ambition” forms the “hallmark of Muslim life over 1,400 years,” while the Egyptian-American Tawfik Hamid notes that “reformists were killed throughout history.”

Normative Islam’s history is no accident, as Robert Spencer in his own forward reveals in Quran 5:3 a seemingly insurmountable hurdle for Douglass-Williams et al. “Traditional and mainstream Islamic theology holds that Islam is perfect, bestowed from above by the supreme being, and hence not only is reform unnecessary, it is heresy that makes the reformer worthy of death.” As Pipes notes, within and without Islam, reformers “are threatened, marginalized, and dismissed as frauds,” like Mansur in Canada; “I cannot even go to mosque. The leaders of the mosques in my own city have publicly declared me an apostate.”

Ahmed Subhy Mansour, now living in the United States after imprisonment in Egypt, offers a striking contrast between himself and Cairo’s Al Azhar University, where he was once a professor before his dismissal. Sunni Islam’s “leading seminary for more than one billion Muslims…Al-Azhar is like the Vatican for the Catholics,” but “is a stagnant bog of ignorance and traditional ideas that belong to the Dark Ages.” Alternatively, Mansour’s “International Quranic Center, in spite of its role in reforming Muslims overseas, is just one room in my house in Virginia. Our powerful website was destroyed several times by the fanatics.”

Accordingly, Spencer notes that “tension between high hopes and harsh realities runs through these interviews” in Douglass-Williams’ book. Indeed, “not every attentive and informed reader will come away from these pages convinced that every person here interviewed is being in every instance entirely forthright.” Such concerns become evident precisely because the book interviews are “unique in their probing honesty.”

Douglass-Williams’ honesty is part of a critical inquiry into Islam that strives to relativize dangerous Islamic canons on the basis of human reason. “Thinking has to be above and superior to the text to a reformer,” states Hamid. Influenced by Robert Reilly’s study of reason and faith in Islam, Qudosi similarly concludes that “we need to look at natural law and man’s law to understand what God wants for us.”

Jasser seeks Islamic reform “without divorcing Muslims from scripture and without divorcing yourself from the example of the prophet Muhammad,” but various Quran passages make this project difficult. Qudosi first reading of Allah’s supposedly perfect Quran made her “extremely depressed,” while Jasser’s reinterpretation of Quran 4:34, cited throughout Islamic history to justify wife beating, remains novel. Even his reform hermeneutics leave a “passage that is difficult for me,” namely Quran 5:38’s injunction to amputate thieves’ hands, “because that is pretty clear. I prefer to see it as a metaphor, because I can’t believe God can say that.”

Raheel Raza, like Jasser, interprets the Quran in light of her implicit rejection of the orthodox Islamic understanding of Allah as an inscrutable will:

Koran reformists are not changing the words of the Koran, because Muslims believe it is the word of God.  They are instead giving options of other ways it could be translated and interpreted to be more compassionate, humane, and merciful.  If you understand the persona of God to have these attributes, then you will translate his words the same way.

Douglass-Williams goes beyond reinterpretation of Islamic sacred texts and examines the “strong case against the Muslim holy book’s infallibility” as part of the Quran’s “desanctification.” Likewise Hamid and Mansour’s Koranic Movement challenges the authenticity of the hadith, canonical narratives that supposedly relate the seventh-century life of Islam’s prophet Muhammad. Because the hadith emerged centuries after his life, Douglas-Williams writes, the “Koranic movement holds that the Hadith is an unreliable source, and that the Koran is comprehensive and sufficient in itself.”

Rejection of the hadith is central for Hamid’s understanding of oft-noted controversies over Islamic teachings that Muhammad consummated a child marriage with his nine-year old bride Aisha. “Muhammad has nothing to do with this story, because it is not mentioned in the Koran,” Hamid states, although some observers have noted that Quran 65:4 implies consummation of prepubescent child marriage. “If I believed it, I would have never followed this faith. You can’t follow someone who is described in this way of having sex with a nine-year-old child and asking the world to become followers, and see him as a role model.”

“You cannot reform a faith by saying its founder was an immoral person,” Jasser similarly argues and offers his own understanding of Muhammad and Aisha:

It is definitely part of history that he was married to Aisha when she was nine.  Many Muslims believe that marriage was not consummated for many years after that, and we could debate that it was 15, 18, but I just do not believe it was consummated at the age of nine.  Am I deluded?  All I can tell you is that is what I was taught.

By contrast, Qanta Ahmed examines the Aisha controversy in a cultural context; for seventh-century Arabia, “it’s conceivable that marrying Aisha was appropriate for that era.” Likewise Muhammad’s polygamy “was for tribal and political reasons as a means to unite various tribes in Arabia.” As Raza states, a “reformed Muslim essentially understands that there are issues and practices in the glory days of Islam that are not suitable for this time and place.”

Such views of Muhammad and other Muslim founding fathers as historically-limited justify Muslim reformer rejection of the Islamic doctrine of Muhammad as a “good example” of conduct. Rather than seeing a “perfect man” whose role model should eternally guide all people, Mansour declares that the “prophet Muhammad was not infallible.” “Islam sees Muhammad as infallible, but I don’t,” agrees Qudosi.

Muhammad’s fallibility sounds more credible than some of the questionable claims by Douglas-Williams’ interviewees such as Mansur, who asserts that “Muhammad fought because he was attacked.” Jalal Zuberi similarly argues that Muhammad “never took any personal insult to those people who opposed him,” notwithstanding various Islamic accounts of individuals assassinated on his orders. Zuberi also claims that “although the verses of the Koran contain the punishing of women, Muhammad himself never raised his hand,” despite a reputedly sound hadith recounting his striking of Aisha.

Douglass-Williams’ book demonstrates the struggle of various Muslims to redeem their personal piety amidst unconscionable faith-based political doctrines. As Raza states, the “history of Islam is based on conquests and violence, but there is the spiritual message also which is important to me.” Douglass-Williams similarly references Islamic civilization’s past “Golden Age” achievements and optimistically claims that the “primitive and rigid nature of Islamist theology is a perversion of an ancient pluralistic faith.”

Raza’s theological selectivity reflects Douglass-Williams’ questionable dogma: “In all faiths, humans are the instruments of religious practice and can choose what they accept and what they reject regarding the letter of their faith.” Her oft-made analogy that “Islam needs to have its own reformation similar to the Catholic Reformation” ignores that reason rejects relativism among Catholics such as Reilly and Spencer within a Church that is flawed like all human institutions. The Catholic Church’s papal infallibility doctrine corresponds to the belief, famously advocated by Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 Regensburg address, that an ordered God’s all-encompassing truth regulates both body and soul.

Such objectivity includes the Biblical doctrine that all of humanity is made in the image of a loving God, with universal spiritual and material needs. Despite the “current Islamist hegemony,” Pipes writes with realistic optimism, Islamists “know their movement is doomed because Muslims will opt for the benefits of modern life.” To what extent Muslims can find such modernity within Islam remains an open question illuminatingly posed by Douglass-Williams.

‘Collusion’ Collapses: Dem Congressional Espionage Ring Takes Center Ring

July 30, 2017

‘Collusion’ Collapses: Dem Congressional Espionage Ring Takes Center Ring, American ThinkerClarice Feldman, July 30, 2017

In truth, the Russians “colluded” through GPS Fusion to harm, not help, Trump and the evidence of that is coming out. It’s time to repeal the Special Counsel law which has now been used twice to hamstring two Republican Presidents, has dubious constitutional authority, and will never result in the indictment of a prominent Democratic politician.

Under the Constitution there are three ways to deal with official corruption: the ballot box, impeachment, or criminal prosecution. Instead, in recent years we have tried two different means: the Independent Counsel law, now lapsed, and the Special Counsel law.  Pepperdine Law Professor Douglas M. Kmiec explains the difference and argues that the features of the independent counsel, which the Supreme Court held constitutional, and the special counsel law that has not been challenged, are different, notably that the absence of outside supervision of the prosecutor and failure in both instances of the application of the Special Counsel act — the Plame case, and the Russian interference case now under Mueller — lack what the Court called a necessary predicate for such an investigation: a finding by the attorney general that there is reason to believe that a crime has occurred. That did not occur in the “collusion” investigation. In the Plame case, as I show, the major figures all knew there was no crime before they began the investigation.

In the case of the Independent Counsel investigation of Whitewater, you may recall the prosecutor said that they had reason to believe Hillary Clinton had committed perjury before the grand jury, but as prosecutors should not indict unless they believe a conviction is likely and the case would be brought before an Arkansas jury who would never convict Bill Clinton’s wife, no indictment would be sought.

Absent a dramatic shift in D.C. demography and political sentiment, you can be sure this would be the case should any special prosecutor find criminal wrongdoing by a prominent Democrat, especially Hillary Clinton. She has a ticket to ride (as she did when Comey absolved her of gross misuse of classified information).  In contrast, any prominent Republican tried here already has a strike against him.

My online friend “Ignatz Ratzykywatzky” now describes what we have:

So Comey intentionally leaked his memo to cause Mueller to be appointed to investigate a plan by Putin to generate a fake scandal to fool dopes like Comey.

Top. Men.

But for the addition of a new player, GPS-Fusion, this case is remarkably similar in evolution and cast of characters to the Plame case. The genesis of the Mueller investigation was the recusal of Attorney General Sessions on the ground that he was too close to the subject of the investigation. It was on the same ground that former Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself in the Plame leak case. In both cases the media incited recusal.

On October 31, 2016 David Corn (who worked for the Nation during the Plame case and now for Mother Jones), wrote in Mother Jones “A veteran spy [David Steele of GPS Fusion] has given the FBI information alleging a Russian operation to cultivate Donald Trump.” GPS-Fusion is a smear-for-hire operation. Among the smears created by this outfit of which we are now aware were a number against Mitt Romney, including the tape of his remarks about Obama supporters secretly made at a donors’ meeting; the false claim that the videos of Planned Parenthood negotiating for the sale of fetus body parts was “fake,” and attacks on the credibility of Venezuelan dissidents who had charged Venezuelan officials with graft and money laundering. In addition, they were working to get Russian sanctions via the Magnitsky Act lifted, having been hired to do so by Natalia Veselnitskaya, the woman who tried to entrap Donald J. Trump. Prior to David Corn’s article, GPS met with a Mother Jones “journalist“ according to Steele himself. And that journalist was most certainly the Democrat’s water bearer, David Corn. Steele’s group had shopped the story around and on January 19, 2017 BuzzFeed published the GPS dossier.

After BuzzFeed published Steele’s dossier, individuals mentioned in the dossier sued Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence for defamation. In his defense, Steele blamed Fusion GPS for circulating his dossier among reporters without his permission. However, he admitted “off-the-record briefings to a small number of journalists about the pre-election memoranda in late summer/autumn 2016.” Steele’s defense contended that in October 2016, “Fusion GPS instructed him to brief a journalist from Mother Jones”, as Daily Caller reporter Chuck Ross summarized.

Despite Steele admitting that his dossier was never verified, and despite specific allegations in the dossier being disproven, Corn has continued to promote the dossier’s thesis, recently publishing an article claiming that “Donald Trump Jr.’s Emails Sound Like the Steele Dossier”. In his recent piece, Corn argued that Donald Trump Jr’s meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya vindicates Steele’s dossier:

Trump and his supporters have denounced the Steele memos as unsubstantiated trash, with some Trump backers concocting various conspiracy theories about them. Indeed, key pieces of the information within the memos have been challenged. But the memos were meant to be working documents produced by Steele — full of investigative leads and tips to follow — not finished reports, vetted and confirmed.

[snip]

But that media firestorm, based on nothing but unverified information — probably fed to GPS by the Russians — from a smear for pay outfit caused Sessions to recuse himself.

In the previous special counsel case – Plame — both Mueller, then head of the FBI, and Comey, then acting attorney upon Ashcroft’s recusal, were informed even before Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed that no one had deliberately “outed” her to punish her husband; that the information Novak published came from Richard Armitage, a Colin Powell underling and that it was absolutely inadvertent. And yet they used that to hamstring GW Bush and his administration and to convict Lewis Libby. That conviction is proving to be, as I argued at the time, a prosecution without a crime.

Last year, Libby sought and received a reinstatement of his law license and an investigation was held, with counsel confirming his innocence:

In the District of Columbia Court of Appeals Disciplinary Counsel’s Report readmitting Libby, the Counsel noted that Libby had continued to assert his innocence. As a result, the Counsel had to “undertake a more complex evaluation of a Petition for reinstatement” than when a petitioner admits guilt. But the Counsel found that “Libby has presented credible evidence in support of his version of events and it appears that one key prosecution witnesses [sic], Judith Miller, has changed her recollection of the events in question.” The reference to Judith Miller, a former New York Times reporter, involved her memoir,The Story, A Reporter’s Journey. In the book, Miller said she read Plame’s memoir and discovered that Plame’s cover was at the State Department, a fact Miller said the prosecution had withheld from her. In rereading what she called her “elliptical” notes (meaning hard to decipher), she realized they were about Plame’s cover, not her job at the CIA. She concluded that her testimony that Libby had told her Plame worked at the CIA was wrong. “Had I helped convict an innocent man?” she asked. Miller went on to note that John Rizzo, a former CIA general counsel, had said in his memoir that there was no evidence that the outing of Plame had caused any damage to CIA operations or agents, including Plame. That statement rebuts the prosecution’s closing argument that as a result of the disclosure of Plame’s identity, a CIA operative could be “arrested, tortured, or killed.”

Who paid for the GPS-Fusion smear job which was used to persuade Sessions to recuse himself and which led to the appointment of Mueller as special counsel? Well, that’s a mystery the Democrats are doing everything to hide.

Kimberley Strassel reports:

What if, all this time, Washington and the media have had the Russia collusion story backward? What if it wasn’t the Trump campaign playing footsie with the Vladimir Putin regime, but Democrats? The more we learn about Fusion, the more this seems a possibility. [snip] We know that at the exact time Fusion was working with the Russians, the firm had also hired a former British spy, Christopher Steele, to dig up dirt on Mr. Trump. Mr. Steele compiled his material, according to his memos, based on allegations from unnamed Kremlin insiders and other Russians. Many of the claims sound eerily similar to the sort of “oppo” Mr. Akhmetshin peddled.

We know that Mr. [Glenn] Simpson is tight with Democrats. His current attorney, Joshua Levy, used to work in Congress as counsel to no less than Chuck Schumer. We know from a Grassley letter that Fusion has in the past sheltered its clients’ true identities by filtering money through law firms or shell companies (Bean LLC and Kernel LLC).

Word is Mr. Simpson has made clear he will appear for a voluntary committee interview only if he is not specifically asked who hired him to dig dirt on Mr. Trump. Democrats are going to the mat for him over that demand. Those on the Judiciary Committee pointedly did not sign letters in which Mr. Grassley demanded that Fusion reveal who hired it.

Here’s a thought: What if it was the Democratic National Committee or Hillary Clinton’s campaign? What if that money flowed from a political entity on the left, to a private law firm, to Fusion, to a British spook, and then to Russian sources? Moreover, what if those Kremlin-tied sources already knew about this dirt-digging, tipped off by Mr. Akhmetshin? What if they specifically made up claims to dupe Mr. Steele, to trick him into writing this dossier?

[snip]

If the Russian intention was to sow chaos in the American political system, few things could have been more effective than that dossier, which ramped up an FBI investigation and sparked congressional probes and a special counsel, deeply wounding the president. This is all to Mr. Putin’s benefit, and the question is whether Russia engineered it.

While the press has been promoting a ridiculous and ass backwards Russian collusion story, it has been sitting on a far bigger story: The likelihood that the Congressional Democrats financed and enabled the largest espionage ring in U.S. history. This story has been percolating on the internet for weeks with no mainstream media coverage. It got a tiny, misleading smattering of coverage this week when the FBI arrested Imran Awan, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s internet employee, for trying to flee the country after transferring almost $300,000 dollars to Pakistan.

Ignatz sums up the media U Turn:

“1. The wsj, nyt and wapo now all agree what wasn’t a crime didn’t occur.

2. Because they all know what was a series of crimes by the Dems, did occur, so now it’s time to move on to more important things… like not seeing Dems in handcuffs.”

The most detailed coverage of how the Awan brothers were hired, overpaid, and had access to all the Democrat’s communications and how Schultz protected Imran and kept him on her payroll even after the Capitol Police denied him and his three brothers further access to the Democrats’ computers was on the Daily Caller:

Should the press decide it’s past time to sit around promoting GPS Fusion smears and do some work?

1. Who coordinated the hiring of the Awan brothers by dozens of Democratic Congressman?

2. Why were they so grossly overcompensated (millions of dollars) for no work?

3. Were they kicking back money to the Democrats, doing “dirty” work for them, or blackmailing them?

4. Why did Wasserman-Schultz keep the Capitol Police from searching her laptop they had confiscated from Imran Awan?

5. Why did Wasserman-Schultz keep him on her payroll after the Capitol Police further barred him and his brothers from accessing Congressional computers?

6. Why did the Iraqi fugitive and Hezb’allah supporter Dr. Ali-al Attar “lend” them $100,000?

7. Who is paying Chris Gowan, a Clinton insider, to represent Imran Awan?

8. Why did the Awan brothers continue to have security clearances when they had declared several bankruptcies and were engaged in financial misdealing?

9. Why were the Awans broke when they were making so much money and living so modestly?

10. Why did eight members of the House Permanent Select committee on Intelligence issue a letter demanding the Awans be granted access to Top Secret information?

11.Were the Awans working for Pakistani intelligence and the Moslem Brotherhood?

12. To whom were the Awans sending data to on an offsite server?

Buckle your seatbelts. Draining the swamp is going to create a lot of waves.

Proliferating Scandals Make Mueller Investigation Ludicrous

July 30, 2017

Proliferating Scandals Make Mueller Investigation Ludicrous, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, July 29, 2017

(Please see also, U.S. Attorney Overseeing Imran Awan’s Investigation Is Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Brother. — DM)

Imran-Awan-arrested

Now let’s play that game from Sesame Street — “One of these things is not like the others.”  Yes, you got it. It’s number one.  In that case, Republicans are under suspicion.  In the other five, it’s the Democrats.  And yet the only one under official investigation by Robert Mueller and crew is one.  Something rotten in the state of…?  You bet!

Supposed bien pensant insiders like Lindsey Graham insist that if Trump fires Mueller, the president is done for.  I am not so sure.  But whatever the case, I have another suggestion.  Don’t fire Mueller.  Cancel the investigation itself and replace it with a global investigation, one that brings together all aspects of the present political crisis, all these scandals, real or imagined.  Indeed, let a hundred scandals bloom.  I nominate John Kelly to oversee this.  It’s going to take a general.

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How many scandals can you fit on the head of a pin — or, in Maoist parlance, let a Hundred Scandals Bloom!  And given the way they are blooming,  Robert Mueller’s “Russia” investigation looks increasingly ludicrous.

Even if Mueller were even-handed and the exact right person for the job — an open question at the moment — no single special counsel could handle all this.  It’s a game of whack-a-mole to beat all games of whack-a-mole.

Let’s enumerate the scandals as of this moment, several or all of which are or could be connected.

  1. The Original Trump-Russia Scan-dahl.  This has been going on for the better part of a century with little to show for it except Donald Trump Jr. demonstrating too much rookie zeal in listening (for a few minutes anyway) to some shady Russian characters and Paul Manafort possibly having made some less-than-savory deals with some equally shady Ukrainian characters.  This would have been before Manafort went to work for Trump (a relationship that in itself lasted only for a short time).  And, oh yes, Mike Flynn.  When all is revealed, and it may never be, I predict what we will find is that Flynn was also guilty of another kind of zeal — wanting to woo Russia away from Iran with the promise of reduced sanctions for Moscow.  Some of us (including me) think this was a fine idea that now will not happen thanks to the berserk partisanship on the part of the formerly Russia-friendly Democrats.
  2. The Unmasking Scandal.  It now turns out that a record number of unmaskings (revealing U.S. citizens’ identities during foreign intelligence surveillance) by the Obama administration  — well over a hundred — took place during and after the election. Most of these unmaskings seem to have been illegal and were of people connected to Trump. Many appear to have been instigated by, of all people, Samantha Power, a person who, as UN ambassador, had no business doing such a thing. Moreover, for a supposedly renowned human rights advocate, Power’s hypocrisy is monumental and her activities reactionary in the extreme. Such unmaskings are the royal road to totalitarianism, making these actions worthy of a major investigation all by itself. Susan Rice is also doubtlessly involved. Connection to #1 above: So far Flynn is the only one we know (there are obviously more) to have been unmasked.  His adamant opposition to Obama’s Iran deal was well known.  Coincidence?  Highly unlikely.  Also, this may indicate that, in a very real sense, Trump was correct: He was wire-tapped. (Related scandal: Obama suddenly changes the long-standing rule and allows all intelligence agencies to see top-secret information for the first time just weeks before Trump’s inauguration.)
  3. Fusion GPS.  Whoa. If you think the unmaskings were nefarious, this is downright sick and evil.  This group  of journalistic lowlifes — sadly including three former Wall Street Journal reporters (the paper is hopefully doing an investigation of its hiring practices because of this) — promulgates disinformation for creepy Russian regime types and, lately, the hideous Venezuelan leaders currently starving millions of their own people to death.  These “genteel scriveners” were the authors of the anti-Trump “dossier” containing the lies about Moscow hotel golden showers, etc.  It’s hard to imagine anything worse than smearing in this manner someone who could become the leader of the free world, unless you hate the free world or, more likely in this case, are despicably greedy.  The big question is who hired these guys. The leader of the group is thus far refusing to say.  No wonder Democrats are in a panic.  They should be.  They’re the primary suspect and fingering the Dems on this one turns the whole Russiagate scandal on its head.
  4. Imran Awan.  The story of the Pakistani-born IT fraudster who had access (for years) to computer data and materials of over two dozen House Democrats plus Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs committees threatens to become one of the most extraordinary scandals of our time. If Awan is merely some low-life con cheating the U.S. government out of a few dollars (okay — four million), why are the Clintonistas so concerned they have assigned one of their key consiglieres to head  his legal defense?  Why did Deborah Wasserman Schultz keep this obviously seriously corrupt individual on her payroll for months until he was finally arrested at Dulles on his way to Qatar by the FBI and the Capitol Police?  The possibilities are so many they could fill a book by themselves.  But the summa is that we have been told ad nauseum to trust our intelligence agencies.  All computer hacking roads lead to Russia. They have proof, they say, although they aren’t showing it to us.  (It would compromise sources and methods, doncha know.)  Well, I’m willing to admit the Russians are up to no good.  They always have been.  But I suspect there are a number of surprises in the sources of much of the hacking and some of the truth may be sitting under Imran Awan’s rock — or on his smashed hard drive he desperately wants back from the FBI.  Let’s hope the road doesn’t somehow end up at Pakistan’s ISI. Or Hezbollah.
  5. The Lynch Non-Mob.  Our previous attorney general has so much more to answer for than our current one — the tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton, insisting the case of the massive Hillary email erasures was a “matter” and not an “investigation” when the alleged crimes would almost certainly send a civilian to jail for life. This undoubtedly contributed to the bizarre behavior of James Comey and to the fact that so much about this “matter” was never  truly investigated, tarnishing the FBI’s reputation perhaps forever. A lot of Republicans think this was a big-time coverup and there’s more evidence for that than there is for Trump-Russia collusion, miles more.  (Comic relief: Lanny Davis still insisting on Fox the other night that the 30,000 plus erased emails were about yoga lessons.)
  6. Clinton Cash and Uranium One.  Was this ever fully examined by anybody, let alone the FBI?  Yet it’s all about Russia and Putin on a level none of the other allegations approach.  If true, Hillary Clinton helped facilitate 20% of U.S. uranium being transferred to Russian hands. Uranium! Before you say this is debunked, think twice.  Historically, collusion with Russia has been far greater by Democrats than Republicans — and I’m not just talking about Obama’s famous whisper to Medvedev or his pathetic cop-out on Assad’s use of poison gas.  We can go straight back to the Cold War when the Democrats constantly attacked Reagan for warmongering the Soviets — until the Soviets collapsed without a shot being fired.

Quite a litany, huh? Are all six connected?   It’s hard to say at this time.  Maybe all are or none are.  I would imagine it’s some, if not all.  But they’re all connected morally — plus beneath all this are the endless leaks, which I suppose could constitute a scandal of their own.

Now let’s play that game from Sesame Street — “One of these things is not like the others.”  Yes, you got it. It’s number one.  In that case, Republicans are under suspicion.  In the other five, it’s the Democrats.  And yet the only one under official investigation by Robert Mueller and crew is one.  Something rotten in the state of…?  You bet!

Supposed bien pensant insiders like Lindsey Graham insist that if Trump fires Mueller, the president is done for.  I am not so sure.  But whatever the case, I have another suggestion.  Don’t fire Mueller.  Cancel the investigation itself and replace it with a global investigation, one that brings together all aspects of the present political crisis, all these scandals, real or imagined.  Indeed, let a hundred scandals bloom.  I nominate John Kelly to oversee this.  It’s going to take a general.

 

The Islamization of History

July 30, 2017

by Uzay Bulut
July 30, 2017 at 5:00 am

Source: The Islamization of History

  • Not only does no other religion in Turkey, other than Islam, have the power, influence or financing of the Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) — whose budget even surpasses that of most ministries; other religions are either not officially recognized (as in the cases of Alevism and Yazidism), or are on the verge of complete governmental elimination — as in the cases of Judaism, Greek Orthodoxy, Assyrian (Syriac) and Armenian Christianity.
  • “…[S]ince the creation of the world there is only one religion and it is the religion of Islam…. therefore, when Islam was not in that area before Mohammed came to it, it should have been there….So any place like this had to be freed, not to be conquered…And therefore, there is no Islamic occupation. If somebody occupies anything, it will always be somebody else, not the Muslims. So, there is no Islamic occupation. There is only Islamic liberation.” — Moshe Sharon, Professor Emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • To be effective, however, policies safeguarding religious liberty must include conducting an honest and open discussion of the history and doctrine of Islam, as well as its contemporary iteration, not as a “religion of peace” — which, in Islam, is to occur only after the entire world has accepted Allah, as well as Islamic law, Sharia — but as one of war and terror.

The debate over whether Islam has been hijacked by fundamentalists — or whether the religion itself preaches the kind of hatred that leads to terrorism — has been raging since the 9/11/2001 attacks on the United States. Although this issue has not been resolved, one thing is clear: in the Muslim world, the demonization of Jews and Christians is commonplace.

Take Turkey, for example, where anti-Semitism has been exhibited publicly for decades by prominent members of government, the religious establishment and the media. In June this year, the head of the government’s Religious Affairs Directorate — the “Diyanet” — joined the chorus.

In a speech he delivered in Gaziantep — a transcript of which was posted on the Diyanet’s official Twitter account — Prof. Dr. Mehmet Görmez announced that Islam was brought to the world by Allah to correct the “distortions” of Judaism and Christianity. At the center of Judaism, he said, was “material, money and wealth.” Christianity, he asserted, took the opposite, albeit equally “wrong,” interpretation of the divine, as it “came up with an understanding that denigrated the world and deemed property and wealth almost forbidden [haram].”

Mehmet Görmez, President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), announced in June that Islam was brought to the world by Allah to correct the “distortions” of Judaism and Christianity. (Image source: Tezkiretul/Wikimedia Commons)

The Diyanet was established in 1924 by the founding government of Turkey, under the Republican People’s Party, after the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate, as a successor to Sheikh ul-Islam, the previous religious-affairs authority. It has many departments, chief among them the High Board of Religious Affairs, whose duties include:

“[M]ak[ing] decisions, shar[ing] views and answer[ing] questions on religious matters by taking into consideration the fundamental source texts and methodology, and historical experience of the Islamic religion as well as current demands and needs.”

Not only does no other religion in Turkey, other than Islam, have the power, influence or financing of the Diyanet — whose budget surpasses that of most ministries; other religions are either not officially recognized (as in the cases of Alevism and Yazidism), or are on the verge of complete governmental elimination — as in the cases of Judaism, Greek Orthodoxy, and Assyrian (Syriac) and Armenian Christianity.

Turkey is not alone in this practice, which brings us back to the question of why “Muslims hate Jews so much.”

According to Andrew Bostom, author of The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History, the answer lies in the Koran, whose “central anti-Jewish motif… is found in verse 2:61 , repeated at verse 3:112.”

They have been put under humiliation [by Allah] wherever they are overtaken, except for a covenant from Allah and a rope from the Muslims. And they have drawn upon themselves anger from Allah and have been put under destitution. That is because they disbelieved in the verses of Allah and killed the prophets without right. That is because they disobeyed and [habitually] transgressed. (3:112) SAHIH INTERNATIONAL

In a 2008 interview, Bostom says:

“This is where the Jews are accused of slaying the Prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah, and so they are condemned and cursed eternally. Verse 2.61 says ‘shame and misery’ are ‘stamped upon them.’ And this verse is coupled to verses like 5:60, and other verses about the Jews being transformed into apes and pigs, which is part of their curse. Verse 5:78 describes the curse upon the Jews by David and Jesus, Mary’s son. There is a related verse, 5:64, which accuses the Jews of being spreaders of war and corruption, a sort of ancient antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. (Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas cited this verse during a diatribe against the Jews of Israel, in 2007.) More generally, the Koran’s overall discussion of the Jews is marked by a litany of their sins and punishments, as if part of a divine indictment, conviction, and punishment process.”

Taking this beyond the Koran, Moshe Sharon, Professor Emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, explains that the

“basic attitude is that all history is in fact Islamic history…that all major figures of history basically are Muslim − from Adam down to our own time. So, if the Jews or Christians are demanding something and basing it on the fact that there was a king called Solomon or a king called David, or a prophet called Moses or Jesus, they say something which is not true or, in fact, they don’t know that all these figures were basically Muslim figures.”

Sharon continues:

“In fact, since the creation of the world there is only one religion and it is the religion of Islam. So, if anybody says ‘Look, there is a place connected with Solomon and that is the place where the Temple of Solomon stood,’ a true Muslim would tell you: ‘Yes, you’re absolutely right. But don’t forget that Solomon was a Muslim and David was a Muslim. And Abraham was a Muslim. And Isaac was a Muslim, and Jesus was a Muslim.’ This is what they mean by the Islamization of history.”

Sharon says that through this “Islamization of history,” there is also an “Islamization of geography,” such that,

“Anywhere which was connected with these people or with these prophets who were all Muslims becomes a Muslim territory. And therefore, when Islam was not in that area before Mohammed came to it, it should have been there. By that area, I mean the Middle East or other parts outside of the Middle East which are now Muslim. So any place like this had to be freed, not to be conquered. They had to be liberated. So, Islam appeared in history in the time of Mohammed — or reappeared in history from their point of view — as a liberator. And therefore, there is no Islamic occupation. If somebody occupies anything, it will always be somebody else, not the Muslims. So, there is no Islamic occupation. There is only Islamic liberation.”

This combination of hate-filled Koranic verses, as highlighted by Bostom, and revisionist Islamist history, as illustrated by Sharon, have created a monster in the form of an existential threat to the Judeo-Christian world. To counter it, the West needs to implement unapologetic policies to safeguard the religious liberty of both non-Muslims and non-extremist Muslims, wherever they reside.

To be effective, however, these policies must include conducting an honest and open discussion of the history and doctrine of Islam, as well as its contemporary iteration, not as a “religion of peace” – which, in Islam, is to occur only after the entire world has accepted Allah as well as Islamic law, Sharia — but as one of war and terror.

Uzay Bulut, a journalist born and raised a Muslim in Turkey, is currently based in Washington D.C. She is a writing fellow of the Middle East Forum.

 

What Is the World Council of Churches?

July 30, 2017

by Malcolm Lowe
July 30, 2017 at 4:30 am

Source: What Is the World Council of Churches?

  • A new period began with the appointment of Emilio Castro as the Fourth General Secretary of the WCC during 1985-1992. Social and political issues had always been a subsidiary concern of the WCC; their role had grown under Castro’s immediate predecessor, Philip Potter (1972-1984). From now on, however, those issues became its most prominent focus. Increasingly, advocacy on behalf of the Palestinians and denunciations of Israel came to top the agenda.
  • If the WCC ceased to exist, few would miss it today. The WCC has become one more NGO that survives largely on magnifying the Arab-Israel conflict at the expense of other conflicts in the world. In contrast to the resources lavished on “Palestine,” the WCC has devoted only occasional words — and not a single “Ecumenical Accompanier” — to the millions of Christians recently displaced from or killed in other Middle East countries.
  • Thus there is a vast gap between the appearance and the reality of the WCC. The appearance is the claim that the WCC consists of hundreds of churches in over a hundred countries working for Christian unity. The reality is a small Secretariat in Geneva financed chiefly by some handfuls of European Protestant bureaucrats.

The World Council of Churches was founded with a noble aim: to overcome the divisions of Christianity and restore the unity of purpose of Christ’s original followers. After the retirement of its founding spirit, Willem Visser ‘t Hooft, it drifted away from its original concerns, a development that accelerated after his death in 1985. Today it has shrunk in effect to a small secretariat in Geneva that draws inspiration from its obsession with the Palestinian problem and has little else currently to its credit or discredit.

Original Purpose

The intention to create a World Council of Churches (WCC) was proclaimed at a meeting in Utrecht in 1938, where its first General Secretary, Willem Visser ‘t Hooft, was also appointed. Because of the Second World War, however, it was only in 1948, at its First Assembly, that the WCC was officially founded. Visser ‘t Hooft remained its General Secretary until 1966. Even after his retirement, he continued to wield considerable influence on its activities by serving as its Honorary President until his death in 1985.

During Visser ‘t Hooft’s period, the WCC placed its greatest emphasis on the need to overcome the multiple divisions of the Christian world. Gradually, the membership was expanded to include numerous Orthodox churches as well as Protestant churches. From 1968 on, Catholics began to appear as observers at WCC meetings. The Vatican, however, has not allowed Catholic churches to join the WCC. It is only Old Catholics, who broke away from the Vatican in the nineteenth century, who have become full members of the WCC.

The peak of this period of the WCC’s existence was reached in 1982-1983 with the publication of two documents: a statement on three key areas of Christian theology (Baptism, Eucharist and Mission: BEM) and a proposed common form of worship (the Lima Liturgy). BEM itself, while trying to identify common ground shared by most or all Christians, testifies to continuing differences. Little further progress has been achieved since then. Thus BEM, practically speaking, was both the peak and the end of this period of the WCC’s existence.

New Management Takes Over

A new period began with the appointment of Emilio Castro as the Fourth General Secretary of the WCC during 1985-1992. Social and political issues had always been a subsidiary concern of the WCC; their role had grown under Castro’s immediate predecessor, Philip Potter (1972-1984). From now on, however, those issues became its most prominent focus. Increasingly, advocacy on behalf of the Palestinians and denunciations of Israel came to top the agenda.

During the last two decades, the WCC has created a whole family of offshoots devoted to the propagation of Palestinian aims. They typically carry imaginative names whose content, if any, is belied by their true character and by their activities.

Thus the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) was founded in 2002. Its website claims to have been “founded in response to a call from the local Heads of Churches in Jerusalem” and in order to “support the local churches.” In practice, however, that long-ago request for help was used as an excuse and subsequently ignored; EAPPI’s programs do little for local Christians, apart from promoting some Palestinian Christian intellectuals in good standing with the WCC.

The volunteers sent by EAPPI, so far nearly 1500 of them, creep into Israel in the guise of tourists, receiving a standard tourist visa of three months. Off they then go to the West Bank, where the WCC uses them as ignorant busybodies while having their heads stuffed with anti-Israel allegations whose veracity they have no opportunity to check. After their visit, they are obliged to spend another three months spreading their pseudo-knowledge among their own churches. Sometimes they have the further thrill of addressing politicians and parliaments, besides acquiring a lifelong status as “experts.”

After arriving in the West Bank, these “Ecumenical Accompaniers” are taken to the checkpoints where Palestinian workers cross daily into Israel. As it happens, there is a highly effective Israeli NGO, Machsom Watch, that monitors those checkpoints. The activists of Machsom Watch speak Hebrew, of course, and have the telephone numbers of the relevant offices and of senior Israeli army officers. So they are able to intervene immediately whenever something is evidently amiss. The “Ecumenical Accompaniers” have none of the necessary inside knowledge, so they can only ignorantly watch or, worse still, agitate and harass. It does not cross their minds that it is a privilege for Palestinians to work in Israel for much higher wages than are paid by Palestinian businessmen.

Other activities include going for half an hour in the mornings and again in the evenings to the gates in Israel’s lifesaving security barrier where Palestinian farmers living on one side cross to fields on the other. Or witnessing the demolition of the house of a Palestinian who murdered Israelis. None of this benefits Palestinian Christians, since the latter are neither farmers nor terrorists.

This author went to a meeting in which one of the early groups of “Ecumenical Accompaniers” was presented to a small local public. They proclaimed, of course, that they had come at the invitation of the local churches and described activities of the kind mentioned. Among the few local Christians present, a priest, asked them what contact they had had with the local churches. One volunteer spoke of having visited the Lutheran church in Bethlehem, another of the Anglican church in Zababdeh, and a third of visiting once an Anglican and once a Lutheran one. That was all (the vast majority of local Christians, of course, are Orthodox or Catholic). Rather than rebuking their pretensions, the priest — who served as the ecumenical representative of the Greek Orthodox Church — courteously told them that they would always be welcome if they found time to pay a visit.

Since 2007, the WCC has a “Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum” (PIEF). Despite the grand title, its homepage makes it clear that it is entirely devoted to mobilizing Christians everywhere against “the occupation.” Its creation was accompanied by the “Amman Call,” a bombastic statement issued in July 2007 at the WCC’s International Peace Conference “Churches Together for Peace and Justice in the Middle East.” The statement called for the removal of Israel’s security barrier, the main obstacle to Palestinian terrorism, and for the implementation of a “right of return” for Palestinians, that is, the creation of an Arab majority in Israel.

A follow-up to the Amman Call was the Kairos Palestine Document (KPD) of December 2009. As this author was able quickly to demonstrate, the WCC falsely pretended that the document had the endorsement of the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem. In fact, the scheme was organized by two WCC employees, Rifat Odeh Kassis and Yusef Daher. The only serving Head of Church among the document’s list of authors was Lutheran Bishop Munib Younan, who subsequently asked for his name to be removed (but his name can still be found on internet in early reports such as this and this). Among the remaining authors, “Patriarch Michel Sabbah” was in retirement and “Archbishop Theodosios Atallah Hanna” has repeatedly been at loggerheads with his own Patriarchate.

Later the WCC promoted the “Bethlehem Call” (2012), a statement so extreme that it was disavowed (“Ich bin kein Vertreter des Bethlehem-Call” – “I am not a supporter of the Bethlehem Call”) by KPD co-author Mitri Raheb, the Lutheran pastor in Bethlehem itself. Anyone familiar with Raheb’s own rants against Israel will be astonished that even he can be outdone.

Besides serving as a repository for pro-Palestinian propaganda, the PIEF’s subsidiaries include its “World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel” and its “Jerusalem Interchurch Centre” (JIC) run by Daher. The JIC does have a Council drawn from local Christians. Daher’s procedure, as it emerged in a recent case, is to write statements, send them to council members by mail, and publish them as statements “from the Churches of Jerusalem” irrespective of whether those members ever get back to him. As Daher puts it, the statements are “shown” to the Council, but the Council is not convened to discuss, modify or approve them. Daher at first had a modest office in a basement flat in the Old City of Jerusalem, but since losing it he operates from a monastery. As Dexter van Zile has repeatedly documented, Daher also specializes in abusing the most solemn mysteries of Christianity, such as the Crucifixion, in order to promote an anti-Israeli agenda that includes anti-Semitic stereotypes.

As with other WCC schemes, the appearance is one thing and the reality another. Yet another such scheme is the “Pilgrimage for Justice and Peace” (PJP).

Why the Diversion of Purpose?

That a pro-Palestinian agenda is now the guiding path of the WCC was confirmed by the appointment of its current Seventh General Secretary, Olav Fykse Tveit (from 2010 on), as well as by its most recent Tenth Assembly in 2013. Tveit was previously co-chair of the WCC’s above-mentioned PIEF. The Tenth Assembly met under the rubric: “God of Life, lead us to justice and peace.” Palestine featured prominently both in the workshops and in the statements adopted. For instance, only the State of Israel — not for instance Assad’s murderous regime in Syria — was criticized in the Statement on the Middle East, which included the ludicrous claim that the “longstanding Palestine/Israel conflict… remains the core problem that is fuelling the logic underlying many of the conflicts in the region, putting at risk international relations and peace.”

Several reasons can be given for this diversion of the WCC from its original main purpose. First, as noted, the theological discussions reached an impasse. This impasse was reinforced when the Orthodox churches that had joined the WCC began to worry that the WCC was trying to impose unacceptable views and behaviour upon them. Their worries were addressed by a Special Commission, meeting during 1998-2002, which recommended limitations on the nature of WCC statements and on decision procedures.

The second reason emerged after the downfall of the Soviet Empire. Many KGB documents came to light that revealed the extent of attempts by the KGB to manipulate the WCC through agents planted in the churches in Soviet-dominated countries. This process began when the Russian Orthodox Church joined the WCC in 1961 and got into full swing after Visser ‘t Hooft’s retirement in 1966. In particular, one document claimed that at the WCC’s Sixth Assembly in 1983 no less than 47 KGB agents were engaged in ensuring that an “acceptable candidate” emerged as the new Secretary General. That is, in the appointment of Emilio Castro. Also the WCC’s Fifth General Secretary, Konrad Raiser (1993-2003), admitted after his retirement that the WCC had been lax in addressing the persecution of dissidents, including Christians, in the Soviet Empire.

Third, the WCC hardly has any other remaining reason for its continued existence. Back in 1948, it was both rare and difficult for the leaders of diverse churches to meet. A General Assembly of the WCC made the unusual possible and exciting. In the meantime, thanks to cheap airfares and changing priorities, church leaders constantly get together without help from the WCC. Thus Pope Paul VI (1963-1978) was the first Pope to leave Italy since 1809, but Pope John Paul II (1978-2005), an avid traveller, is said to have been seen in person by more people than anyone else in history. Likewise, the current Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and recent Archbishops of Canterbury have been constant travellers. Summit meetings of churches in countries and continents are a commonplace.

If the WCC ceased to exist, few would miss it today. The WCC has become one more NGO that survives largely on magnifying the Arab-Israel conflict at the expense of other conflicts in the world. In contrast to the resources lavished on “Palestine,” the WCC has devoted only occasional words — and not a single “Ecumenical Accompanier” — to the millions of Christians recently displaced from or killed in other Middle East countries.

Back in 2002, when the tension between Orthodox and Protestant member churches was at its height, the Bulletin of the German Protestant Churches was prompted to ask: “Will the WCC become superfluous?” The WCC survived only by starkly reducing what little interchurch activity that remained, such as joint worship at its conferences, and seeking unity elsewhere: in a crescendo of joint agitation on behalf of Palestinian aims. The switch testifies that the answer to the question was “Yes.”

Fourth, and maybe most fundamental, is the organizational structure of the WCC. Its General Assembly is theoretically its sovereign body, but this meets only once every seven or eight years to elect a Central Committee. The latter, too, meets only once every two years, to elect an Executive Committee, which meets twice a year. Consequently, the WCC’s Secretariat in Geneva, which runs day-to-day activities, has immense freedom to pursue agendas of its own devising. All the more so, since it is the Secretariat that prepares in advance the agenda, statements and decisions of the Committees and the Assembly.

A related question is the financing of the WCC. I was once told by someone who had worked at the Secretariat that many member churches pay no dues, but that this does not matter because a foundation supplies a considerable income. While we are not in a position to verify such claims, NGO Monitor’s web page on this matter shows that current finance comes largely from a small number of mission organizations affiliated with European Protestant churches. These mission organizations themselves are usually dominated by small groups of individuals who share the agenda of the WCC’s Secretariat and sometimes go on to work there themselves. In 2015, the last year for which NGO Monitor has given figures, the biggest contribution by far (some five million Swiss Francs) came from Brot für die Welt, for which all the German Protestant churches collect money at Christmas.

The Appearance and the Reality

Thus there is a vast gap between the appearance and the reality of the WCC. The appearance is the claim that the WCC consists of hundreds of churches in over a hundred countries working for Christian unity. The reality is a small Secretariat in Geneva financed chiefly by some handfuls of European Protestant bureaucrats. That is, if the State of Israel has problems with a vociferous clique in Geneva, it need not greatly fear that it risks offending Christians worldwide, provided that the State of Israel can clearly document that it has right on its side.

Indeed, Israel has begun to overcome its fearfulness toward clerical Christian antagonists and occasionally even refuses entry to the most obnoxious of WCC-sponsored visitors. Israel’s will to do so was strengthened when in 2016 someone supplied an electronic copy of a WCC document that instructed visitors how to dissemble before the immigration officers at Israel’s airports. (This author was also sent a copy of the file; its internal characteristics confirm that it was created on a WCC computer.)

Yet another question is how much the member churches pay attention and respond, if at all, to the propaganda issuing from Geneva. The same goes for another Geneva-based organization, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which is staffed by like-minded people coming from the same church organizations that mostly finance the WCC, and which promotes a similar pro-Palestinian agenda.

In 2013, the LWF proclaimed a scheme for making the twenty-fourth of every month a special “prayer vigil” for “ending the occupation of Palestine.” It took up a scheme initiated on the previous Christmas Eve, December 24, by the Act Palestine Forum (APF), a group that subscribes to the WCC’s Kairos program and is financed by the same donors as the WCC itself. APF claimed to be acting at the urging of the churches of Jerusalem, but the relevant page on the APF website names only nine parishes or organizations in Jerusalem that have affiliated with the initiative, all of them connected with the WCC or the LWF. Remarkably, of the 64 that have signed up worldwide during more than four years, not one comes from Germany, the heartland of Lutheranism. The LWF President at that time, by the way, was the above-mentioned Bishop Munib Younan (2010-2017) of the Palestinian Lutherans.

Latest Outrage

The same lack of impact may be true of the WCC’s 2016 pro-Palestinian initiative, among the most outrageous ever. It asked all of its 354 member churches, totalling half a billion Christians, to spend the seven weeks preceding Easter 2016 by holding services in which they would solemnly denounce the alleged theft of Palestinian water by Israel. The scheme was launched in the Jerusalem church of the Palestinian Lutherans and was presided over by Bishop Munib Younan. The WCC’s General Secretary, Tveit, preached the sermon. How many parishes elsewhere took up the WCC’s lead has not been established, but 64 may be the upper limit in this case, too. Again, out of the thousands of parishes of the hundreds of member churches of the WCC, that would not be very much. It suggests that the WCC’s attempt to escape insignificance by diversifying into pro-Palestinianism is a fiasco.

The sermon contained, in particular, two shameless deceptions. One was the outright lie that “80% of the ground water from Palestine’s mountain aquifer is pumped underneath all the way to Israel.” The same lie was chanted during the service on the authority of Younan.

The other deception was Tveit’s claim that “the average per capita water consumption in London is 150 litres/day compared to that of only 70 litres/day for an average Palestinian. On the other hand, the per capita consumption for Israel is 300 litres/day.” What is wrong with this claim is not that the figures cited may be false or grossly misleading (the figure for China is similar to that for the Palestinians). Wrong is that the claim is totally irrelevant as an attempt to make Israel responsible for any lack of water for Palestinians.

The truth of the whole issue of Palestinian water can be explained in a few sentences for those who are ready to think clearly as opposed to being swept away in floods of emotions. The central fact is just this: that a considerable amount of rainwater that falls in the mountains, where the Palestinian Authority holds sway, passes underground though aquifers that surface at springs in Israel. Thus the one responsible for this falsely called “pumping” is not Israel but the Creator of the World; Tveit and Younan should address to Him any indignant chants of culpability.

This phenomenon has known parallels in other regions; the standard solution is negotiations between the land of origin and the recipient land, whereby the latter contracts to return a certain proportion of the rainfall to the former. The issue was resolved in 1995 as a part of Oslo II, whereby Israel contracted to supply an annual quantity of water from its springs to the Palestinian Authority. Israel has faithfully fulfilled that obligation ever since. And that is the end of the matter. (Those who nevertheless would like more details can find them here.)

Note that Israel’s obligation is to return a certain quantity of the estimated actual rainfall, irrespective of whether there are 100 Palestinians or 100 million Palestinians. Consequently, the citing of per capita water usage by Palestinians and Israelis is utterly irrelevant. How much it works out per capita depends upon the Palestinian birth-rate, something for which Israel bears no responsibility.

After I pointed out the false denunciations of Israel in Tveit’s sermon, he must have read it, since the WCC responded with an open letter to Gatestone, requesting a “dialogue.” Only, this letter contained a further deception: the WCC claimed that all its figures come from United Nations sources. In fact, Tveit’s sermon explicitly cited pro-Palestinian sources for its accusations against Israel. The WCC Secretariat, in short, is chronically economical with the truth. No dialogue is possible with such a body, as long as it seeks to mobilize the world’s Christians to denounce Israel with mendacious and irrational chants.

World Council of Churches General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit made false accusations against Israel in a 2016 sermon. Pictured above: Tveit in Switzerland, on July 1, 2011. (Image source: ©SEK/Flügge)

Malcolm Lowe is a Welsh scholar specialized in Greek Philosophy, the New Testament and Christian-Jewish Relations. He has been familiar with Israeli reality since 1970.

‘Ready to use force’: US supersonic bombers, Japan & S. Korea fighters fly over Korean Peninsula

July 30, 2017

Published time: 30 Jul, 2017 10:59

Source: ‘Ready to use force’: US supersonic bombers, Japan & S. Korea fighters fly over Korean Peninsula — RT News

One of two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flies mission over the Korean Peninsula, July 30, 2017 © Staff Sgt. Joshua Smoot / Reuters

In response to what North Korea called another successful test of an ICBM on Friday, a pair of supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers joined by Japanese and South Korean fighter jets flew over the Korean Peninsula Sunday in a show of force.

The US Pacific Air Forces said that the 10-hour sequenced bilateral missions were a “direct response” to Pyongyang’s missile test on Friday, and the earlier July 4 launch of what was claimed to be a Hwasong-14 rocket.

The American bombers took off from a US air base in Guam, and were joined by Japanese and South Korean fighter jets, the US Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.

“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” Pacific Air Forces Commander General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said, as cited by AP.

“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing,” he warned.

Pyongyang said it conducted a successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday night, which allegedly proved its ability to strike America’s mainland. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un personally supervised the midnight test launch of the missile, saying it was a “stern warning” for Washington that it would not be safe from destruction if it tries to attack, North Korea’s KCNA news agency reported.

“The successful ICBM test-fire is another great victory which dealt a heavy blow to the U.S. imperialists and its vassal forces keen on obliterating the DPRK’s [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] dignity and its right to existence,” Kim Yu Chol, a researcher of the State Academy of Sciences, told KCNA.

KCNA reported that the Hwasong-14 (the Korean word for ‘Mars’) reached an altitude of 3,725km (2,314.6 miles) and flew 998km (620 miles) for 47 minutes and 12 seconds before landing in waters off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast on Friday.

The Russian military said the weapon was an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), citing data from its missile warning system, adding that it flew 732 kilometers, while the US and South Korea said it was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). While IRBMs have ranges between 3,000 and 5,500 kilometers, known ICBMs can fly out 10,000km or more.

On Saturday, the US and South Korean militaries fired live surface-to-surface missiles from rocket launchers in response to Pyongyang’s missile test. Videos posted by the South Korean Ministry of Defense showed the US-made Tactical Missile System, known as ATACMS, as well as its own Hyunmoo Missile II. The missiles hit the East Sea on Saturday morning, where North Korea’s ballistic missile is believed to have landed, as part of a live-fire exercise to demonstrate its “precision firing ability,” the US 8th Army said.

North Korea has warned of “a stern action of justice” if Washington calls for new sanctions in response to Pyongyang’s latest test.

“If the United States sticks to its military adventurism against us and super-intensive sanctions schemes, we will respond with stern action of justice as we have already declared,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement on Sunday, KCNA reported.

Trump ‘very disappointed’ in China’s reaction

Pyongyang’s main ally, China, said it opposes North Korea’s missile launches, which it says violate UN Security Council resolutions targeting Pyongyang’s banned nuclear and missile programs.

Read more

© KCNA

“At the same time, China hopes all parties act with caution, to prevent tensions from continuing to escalate,” China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

Beijing’s appeal for “all parties” to act with caution was apparently not received well by US President Donald Trump, who said he was “very disappointed in China.”

“Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet..,” the US leader tweeted.

“…they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” Trump said in a subsequent tweet.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, meanwhile, held telephone talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Both reportedly agreed on the need to put “the heaviest possible pressure” on North Korea, AFP reported.

“We confirmed that we will closely cooperate in adopting a fresh UNSC (UN Security Council) resolution, including severe measures, and working on China and Russia,” Kishida told reporters.