Archive for October 11, 2017

Trump Admin Will Not Commit to Designating IRGC as Terror Group

October 11, 2017

Trump Admin Will Not Commit to Designating IRGC as Terror Group, Washington Free Beacon , October 11, 2017

Members of the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps / Getty Images

Trump last week signed new sanctions legislation mandating that the United States extend a terror designation to the IRGC, marking the first time in U.S. history a foreign country’s military branch would be hit with such a designation.

However, the State and Treasury Departments would not confirm Wednesday that the administration intends to make good on this law, which was approved by Congress with bipartisan support.

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The Trump administration will not commit to designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, Iran’s elite fighting force, as terrorists, despite a congressional mandate to do so by the end of the month, according to multiple U.S. officials and other administration insiders who told the Washington Free Beacon that holdovers from the Obama administration are working to stymie the effort.

While President Donald Trump is expected to announce this week that he will not certify Iran as in compliance with the landmark nuclear deal, it remains unclear if he will follow through with congressionally approved plans to extend a terror designation to the IRGC, a move that has prompted Iran to threaten greater attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East.

The IRGC is responsible for numerous terror attacks on American troops over the years and has played a key role in interfering with U.S. operations in Syria. A bipartisan consensus in Congress has already backed such a designation, but key Obama-era holdovers and top national security officials who have the president’s ear are urging him to refrain, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Free Beacon.

Top lawmakers and insiders who spoke to the Free Beacon about the growing uncertainty over how best to hold Iran accountable for its terror activities expressed frustration over what they view as the administration’s inability to follow through with its foreign policy promises, particularly as they relate to Iran, which has increasingly targeted U.S. forces with military action.

New reports emerged Wednesday afternoon that Trump’s planned speech on Iran may be scaled back and not take place until Friday, if it does at all.

Trump last week signed new sanctions legislation mandating that the United States extend a terror designation to the IRGC, marking the first time in U.S. history a foreign country’s military branch would be hit with such a designation.

However, the State and Treasury Departments would not confirm Wednesday that the administration intends to make good on this law, which was approved by Congress with bipartisan support.

The administration may be getting cold feet due to the objections of key U.S. officials and those in the Treasury Department who view such a designation as harmful to American companies that have business interests in Iran, where the IRGC controls a majority of the economy, sources said.

“The IRGC is responsible for wreaking havoc throughout the Middle East and, through its Quds Force, for killing hundreds of American troops in Iraq,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and chair of its National Security Subcommittee, told the Free Beacon.

“The IRGC represents a quintessential terrorist group and should be designated as such,” DeSantis said.  “Whereas the Obama administration flew pallets of cash to the IRGC, the Trump administration should act to hold the IRGC accountable.  Designating it as a terrorist group is a good first step.”

Neither the State Department or White House would confirm to the Free Beacon plans to follow through with this designation, prompting speculation that the process may be held up over objections by Obama-era holdovers in the Trump administration who view the move as a shot at dismantling the former president’s nuclear deal.

“Congress didn’t ask the president to designate the full IRGC,” according to one veteran Middle East policy advisor who lobbies Congress on Iran sanctions. “They told the president to do it by veto proof majorities. Obama holdover lawyers and his establishment staffers are telling him he can use loopholes to just go after some entities and circumvent Congress.”

These same voices are continuing to advise Trump against decertifying Iranian compliance with the deal, despite the president’s personal belief that the Islamic Republic has flagrantly violated what he has repeatedly described as a bad deal.

“These are the same people advising him to certify the nuclear deal, which was also rejected by bipartisan majorities in Congress,” the source said. “They’re wrong and if they stay wrong, lawmakers will eventually make it an oversight issue.”

A State Department official declined repeated requests for clarification on what the administration intends to do about the IRGC, but told the Free Beacon officials remain “deeply troubled by Iran’s longstanding provocative activities including its support for terrorism and destabilizing activities in the region.”

“We are committed to holding Iran accountable for its behavior,” the official said. “The United States retains the authority to respond to Iran’s support for terrorism, human rights abuses, and destabilizing activities. The U.S. government constantly reviews information, through an interagency process, to evaluate potential sanctions violators for targeting under existing sanctions authorities.”

A Treasury Department official did not respond to a request for comment on the matter.

Iranian officials vowed last week to strike U.S. forces and bases in the region if the Trump administration moves forward with extending a terror designation to the IRGC.

Rep. Sean Duffy (R., Wis.), a vocal opponent of the Iran deal, told the Free Beacon that Iran would be wise to back down from its threats.

“President Obama’s terrible Iran deal predictably emboldened the Iranian regime to build up their military and antagonize the region,” Duffy said. “Iran may have been able to bully our previous president, but the American people elected President Trump to stand up for the United States on the world stage.”

“The Iranian regime is already on notice for being the world’s largest state-sponsor of terror, and it would be wise for them to back down from their belligerent posture,” Duffy added.

Iran on Pathway to Fully Restart Nuclear Weapons Program

October 11, 2017

BY:

Top lawmakers urge Trump not to leave deal

Source: Iran on Pathway to Fully Restart Nuclear Weapons Program

Iran is on the pathway to fully restarting its contested nuclear weapons program due to insufficient international inspections of its military sites and caveats in the landmark nuclear deal that permit it to reengage in nuclear enrichment work within the next several years, according to experts who testified Wednesday before Congress.

Ahead of President Donald Trump’s expected announcement to decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal, top lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee urged the administration to preserve the agreement and focus on more aggressive enforcement.

Reps. Ed Royce (R. Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), the chair and ranking member of the committee, both advised the Trump administration to “enforce the hell out of” the deal, rather than abandon it.

They offered this advice despite testimony by leading nuclear experts that Iran has repeatedly violated agreement and could be back on the pathway to a nuclear weapon within the next five or six years.

While Trump is expected to lay out his plan later this week, White House officials have remained mum about what exactly the president will say and how he will proceed with either enforcing or leaving the agreement.

Congress is set in the coming weeks to consider a range of new sanctions and other measures to target Iran’s growing military influence in the region, as well as its continued aggression against U.S. forces operating in Syria and other areas.

David Albright, a prominent former weapons inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, told lawmakers that Iran has violated key portions of the agreement and remains just as committed to nuclear weapons work as it was before the deal was struck.

“Given Iran’s current trajectory, the risk is great that Iran will seek nuclear weapons once the nuclear limitations start to end, or these JCPOA limitations begin to sunset,” Albright said. “The first nuclear sunset of note is eight years after Adoption Day, or six years from now, when Iran can scale up advanced centrifuge manufacturing.”

Within the next three years, Iran will be permitted to transfer and move arms across the region. While the Islamic Republic has already engaged in this behavior, despite current bans, the removal of this prohibition would allow the country to legally purchase and build sensitive technology to enable its weapons work.

“Iran has merely temporarily frozen its most threatening nuclear weapons capabilities,” Albright said. “It has stated as a matter of policy that it will not allow inspections of its military sites, even though some are known to have been the site of secret gas centrifuge manufacturing and nuclear weapons development work.”

Other military sites that cannot be inspected encompass those tied to nuclear weapons development and other sensitive equipment.

Iran has “violated the deal on many occasions,” according to Albright, who outlined efforts to avoid verification requirements and exceed the limits of heavy water, another nuclear byproduct.

Iran also has run more advanced nuclear centrifuges than permitted under the agreement, another key violations, according to Albright.

Despite the evidence of violations, both Royce and Engel were in agreement that Trump should keep the deal and find ways to more forcefully police it.

“I believe we must now enforce the hell out of it,” Royce said. “Let’s work with allies to make certain that international inspectors have better access to possible nuclear sites, and we should address the fundamental sunset shortcoming, as our allies have recognized.”

Engel said that if the United States pulls out of the deal, it would send a message to the globe that America “cannot be counted on to keep its word.” Such a move also would erode the United States’ ability to counter the North Korean nuclear threat, according to Engel.

Gen. Charles Wald, former deputy commander of U.S. European Command, told lawmakers that the deal has weakened America’s ability to respond to Iranian aggression in the Middle East and elsewhere.

“Iran is already moving more directly and brazenly against U.S. interests and our allies,” Wald said in his testimony. “This stems in part from what the JCPOA does: it removes the aforementioned restrictions on Tehran’s power projection resources. Yet this also results from what the JCPOA represents: the weakening of U.S. credibility to push back as Iran aggravates the growing security vacuum in the Middle East.”

Iran, now flush with cash as a result of the deal, has strengthened its missile programs, which already were among the most advanced in the region.

“For the first time in decades, Iran is at daggers drawn with U.S. ships in the Persian Gulf,” Wald said. “It is assisting its Houthi proxy in Yemen with attacks on U.S. ships and our allies—including a steady hail of ballistic missiles targeting Saudi cities and bases. Flush with rising revenues from sanctions relief, Iran is also consolidating control over the heart of the Middle East and directly undermining U.S. efforts to stabilize Syria and Iraq.”

Beijing sends frigate & jets to warn off US destroyer near disputed South China Sea islands

October 11, 2017

 

Source: Beijing sends frigate & jets to warn off US destroyer near disputed South China Sea islands — RT News

FILE PHOTO. CNS Huangshan (FFG-570) © Wikipedia

China sent a guided-missile frigate, two fighter jets and a helicopter to warn off the USS ‘Chafee’ near disputed islands in the South China Sea, accusing the US of damaging the country’s sovereignty and security interests in the region.

Beijing condemned the mission of the guided-missile destroyer USS ‘Chafee,’ which on Tuesday sailed within 16 nautical miles of the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, within the framework of a so-called “freedom of navigation” operation.

“In the face of repeated provocation by the US forces, the Chinese military will further strengthen preparation for combat at sea and in the air and improve the defenses to resolutely defend national sovereignty and security interests,” China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement, quoted by the South China Morning Post newspaper.

Read more

FILE PHOTO: USS Chafee destroyer © Hugh Gentry

The guided-missile Type 054A frigate ‘Huangshan,’ two J-11B fighter jets and one Z-8 helicopter were sent to identify the US vessel and make it leave the waters.

The incident with the USS ‘Chafee’ would affect trust between the militaries of the two countries, the ministry stated, adding that further operations of such nature might trigger “unwanted incidents.”

China’s Foreign Ministry has also urged the US to “respect the sovereignty and security” of the country and stop such “erroneous acts.”

“The US destroyer’s behavior violated Chinese law and relevant international law, severely harmed China’s sovereignty and security interests, and threatened the lives of military personnel of both sides,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing.

The destroyer, however, did not violate the 12-nautical-mile territorial limits of the islands, according to a Reuters report, citing US military officials. The mission was carried out to challenge “excessive maritime claims” in the region, according to the officials.

READ MORE: US damages ‘peace & stability’ with S. China Sea warship maneuvers – Beijing

US ships have repeatedly sailed past the disputed islets in the South China Sea, triggering an angry reaction from China. Beijing accuses the US of violating its sovereignty, while Washington claims the missions support “freedom of navigation” in the region.

Small uninhabited islets in the resource-rich South China Sea are contested by multiple nations. The Paracel archipelago is claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam, while the Spratly Islands are additionally contested by the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

CAIR Conducted Sensitivity Training for Philadelphia Teachers

October 11, 2017

CAIR Conducted Sensitivity Training for Philadelphia Teachers, Investigative Project on Terrorism, John Rossomando, October 11, 2017

(Please see also, CAIR Loses San Diego Schools Partnership. — DM)

Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director, testified before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last spring that CAIR was a religious organization whose primary purpose is to spread Islam.

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Philadelphia’s public school system allowed the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to conduct sensitivity training for its teachers last year, CAIR press releases and school district documents obtained by the Investigative Project on Terrorism show.

CAIR attorneys conducted a presentation for educators on Election Day, focusing on Islamophobia and the civil rights of Muslim students, a November press release said. The seminar was described as the first in a series of planned workshops on those issues.

“In the current political environment, Muslim American students are facing increased rates of bullying, emotional abuse, physical threats, and verbal epithets due to their faith, race, or ethnicity,” CAIR Philadelphia said in the release.

CAIR Philadelphia provides zero evidence to support this assertion.

Still, the director of the school system’s Multilingual Family Support Center argued that, “We need CAIR helping our schools.”

Asheq Fazlullah, a member of CAIR Philadelphia’s executive committee, and then-CAIR attorney Ryan Houldin conducted the Nov. 8 training, a school district email shows.

For a subsequent session, Fazlullah and Houldin would discuss “issues of diversity, equity, and fairness” at a January 3 professional development day, Colette Langston, principal at Philadelphia’s Swenson Arts and Technology High School, wrote in an email to teachers. The morning seminar was called, “Cultural Sensitivity and Diversity Workshop #1 Topic: Islamophobia.”

The school district did not provide course materials in response to the IPT’s public records request. School district officials did not respond to queries as to whether they conduct sensitivity training for other religious groups including Christians, Jews, Sikhs, or Hindus.

The school district’s reliance on CAIR could raise constitutional issues because the group’s executive director has described CAIR as a religious ministry.

Nihad Awad, CAIR’s executive director, testified before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last spring that CAIR was a religious organization whose primary purpose is to spread Islam.

“[Awad] testified at length about the Employer’s role in conducting educational services in the fields of religion, culture, education, society, and history concerning Islamic issues. These services are provided to both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. [Awad] described the Employer’s role in explaining the Islamic faith itself,” Charles L. Posner, regional director of the National Labor Relations Board, wrote in an April 7 ruling.

Awad’s acknowledgement prompted the San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) to publicly back away from a CAIR-sponsored anti-bullying program. The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund (FCDF) was suing to bar CAIR from influencing public school programming.

San Diego’s anti-bullying plan violated California law, along with students’ 1st and 14thamendment rights because CAIR is a religious organization and because the program gave Muslim students special treatment, the lawsuit said.

Those arguments could apply equally to Philadelphia’s public schools. “The San Diego case is far from over, so there is no doubt it could have precedential value in a legal challenge to Philadelphia schools’ partnership with CAIR,” FCDF Executive Director Daniel Piedra told the IPT.

School districts may not aid one religion, one religion over another, or religion over non-religion, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) legal bulletin said. It cites the seminal 1972 U.S. Supreme Court case, Lemon v. Kurtzman.

“Under the so-called ‘Lemon test,’ a court must inquire (1) whether the government’s action has a secular or a religious purpose; (2) whether the primary effect of the government’s action is to advance or endorse religion; and (3) whether the government’s policy or practice fosters an excessive entanglement between government and religion,” the ACLU bulletin said.

In the San Diego case, FCDF argued that CAIR’s definition of Islamophobia is too vague and that what it considers bullying could ensnare legitimate criticisms of Islamic practice. FCDF also asserted that the SDUSD’s “anti-bullying” program unconstitutionally established Muslims “as a privileged group within the school community.”

FCDF cited a 1993 statement by CAIR’s national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper to The Minneapolis Star-Tribune as part of its complaint against SDUSD. Hooper told the paper he “wouldn’t like to create the impression that I wouldn’t like the government of the United States to be Islamic sometime in the future. … I’m going to do it through education.”

“We know that CAIR is committed to advancing its anti-Islamophobia initiative nationwide, so we are equally committed to making sure it dies in San Diego. Ideally, that would be done by a precedential court decision,” Piedra said.

None of the school district records indicated that the program is being repeated this school year. The Philadelphia School District declined to comment whether the San Diego case would impact future decisions about working with CAIR.

State Department picks hijab-wearing Somali Muslim to represent American youth at UN

October 11, 2017

By – on

Source: State Department picks hijab-wearing Somali Muslim to represent American youth at UN – Geller Report

Drain the State swamp. This is how the State department sees our future.

State Department picks hijab-wearing Somali Muslim to represent American youth at UN

Here is yet more evidence that the State Department is a swamp that has yet to be drained, and may never be drained.

Munira Khalif may be a wonderful U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations, even if her statement here is full of the expected platitudes (“empower,” “diversity,” “globalized world,” etc.). But she was clearly chosen for her symbolic value. She is a living, walking symbol of the State Department’s anxiousness to show that the United States is not “Islamophobic.” She is a demonstration of the State Department’s determination to “empower” Muslims and show our “diversity,” so as to refute the jihadist narrative that the U.S. is at war with Islam, which will keep Muslims in the U.S. from becoming “alienated” and joining the jihad.

The whole idea is based on the assumption that Muslims turn to jihad because of the injustices suffered by Muslims at the hand of the U.S., and so if the U.S. is nice to Muslims, the jihad will end. This is based on completely ignoring the teachings about jihad in the Qur’an and Sunnah, and so is doomed to failure, but that doesn’t keep the deep state State Department wonks from trying and trying, again and again.

I’m so honored and excited to have been selected as this year’s U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations. To start off the year, I wanted to officially introduce myself.

My name is Munira Khalif, and I was born and raised in Minnesota. I study Economics and minor in Government at Harvard University. As a Somali-American, I grew up aware of the reality that not all children have the opportunity to attend school—especially girls. By no fault of their own, millions of children are deprived of the opportunity to advance their own lives and that of their families and communities.

There is an African proverb that exclaims, “If you educate a boy, you educate an individual. If you educate a girl, you educate a nation”. Education has the power to transform — not only individuals — but our world. With this in mind, I co-founded Lighting the Way. The youth-run organization focuses on making education more accessible for young people in East Africa — especially girls. Lighting the Way works to provide scholarships, build libraries, and sponsor teachers. In addition, I served as a Teen Advisor for the United Nations Foundation campaign Girl Up. Girl Up mobilizes American girls to empower and support the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls in developing countries to be safe, healthy, educated, counted, and positioned to be the next generation of leaders. Through Girl Up, I have had the opportunity to speak on the importance of girl’s education at the United Nations Head Quarters on the first inaugural Malala Day and to lobby alongside other youth advocates to pass the Girls Count Act.

I applied to be the next U.S. Youth Observer because I believe in the power of young people to bring forth immeasurable change. Often times, international institutions like the United Nations can seem daunting. In turn, we believe that our voices don’t matter. But the reality is that the United Nations needs a diversity of voices to be able to solve the complex issues of the world. More importantly, when issues that affect young people are being discussed it is intrinsic that we have a seat at the table. As the U.S. Youth Observer, I will work to ensure that young Americans have a seat at the table. I will leverage my platform to amplify the voices, ideas, and concerns of young Americans at global policy discussions.

As the year unfolds, I look forward to connecting with young people from across the country to hear about the global issues that are at the forefront of their minds. I hope that over my tenure I will be able to instill a sense of global citizenship. We live in a globalized world and our futures and lives are more interconnected than ever before. Being a global citizen means caring about not only what is happening within our own borders — but also outside of them. Because the problems of others can quickly become our own. We must speak out where others have been silent.  We must take action where others have stood still. We must shine our own light in the hopes of illuminating the way for others.

Pamela Geller’s shocking new book, “FATWA: HUNTED IN AMERICA” is now available on Amazon. It’s Geller’s tell all, her story – and it’s every story – it’s what happens when you stand for freedom today. Buy it. Now. Here.

Martin Armstrong Warns “Spain Is The Blueprint For How All Governments Will Act”

October 11, 2017

Source: Martin Armstrong Warns “Spain Is The Blueprint For How All Governments Will Act” | Zero Hedge

Authored by Martin Armstrong via ArmstrongEconomics.com,

What is going on in Spain is the blueprint what what other governments will do.

The Spanish people themselves outside of Catalonia are deeply divided.

Many see the Catalan vote as offensive and yet others see the government as offensive.

The real issue is that people band together, creating society and civilization, and then government abuses its power and the process of decline begins. This is throughout history and it really does not matter what culture or country. It is all the same.

Spain’s Constitutional Court, the puppet of Rajoy, on Thursday ordered the suspension of Monday’s session of the regional Catalan parliament. Rajoy is demonstrating that government will not tolerate losing power.

You can always write a law and claim it is unconstitutional to separate. That does not make it legal, moral, or ethical.

Reuters reported:

 “The suspension order further aggravated one of the biggest crises to hit Spain since the establishment of democracy on the 1975 death of General Francisco Franco.

But Spanish markets rose on perceptions the order might ward off, at least for now, an outright independence declaration.”

The structure of the EU in attempting to federalize Europe required a single federal debt. That is what they failed to do so you ended up with a half-baked cake.

This is why we have the problems in Europe as we do. But make no mistake about it, this is a political problem and what happens in Europe will be a contagion as it was in 1931.

This will eventually cause major problems politically in the States as well.

 Justice Scalia I greatly admired.

However, his letter on the separatist movement in the USA said that the civil war decided there was no right to separate.

 

 

I disagree with that opinion, but that is my opinion.

There are those who object to my writing about Catalonia from the Madrid side. They create a list of hateful names directed at me personally and then say I know nothing of Spain.

They are making the same mistake as government. They assume that government and Rajoy is Spain. The people are the sovereign of Spain – not Rajoy nor his Constitutional Court.

If you cannot see that government is supposed to be “elected” by the people, they are not to be the ruler of the people as some monarch, then you have missed the entire point of history. You can hate me all you want, but it is your life you are surrendering to government and that of your posterity.

We have a choice. We either understand that government when unchecked will go too far and surrender as sheep, or we stand up and try to make the future better for our posterity.

I strongly urge that you read just  Common Sense written by Thomas Paine.

Spain is merely the blueprint. Watch carefully, for all governments will act the same.

 

Please READ also :

Spanish Government Begins Process To Suspend Catalan Autonomy

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-11/spanish-government-begins-process-suspend-catalan-autonomy

What Is Article 155 Of The Spanish Constitution? This Is How Madrid Would Suspend Home Rule In Catalonia

https://www.thespainreport.com/articles/1129-170916162558-what-is-article-155-of-the-spanish-constitution-this-is-how-madrid-would-suspend-home-rule-in-catalonia

Palestinian Normalization — With Hamas, Not Israel

October 11, 2017

Palestinian Normalization — With Hamas, Not Israel, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, October 11, 2017

The most widespread conspiracy theory, which has been floating around for decades and can be heard in almost every coffee shop on the streets of Cairo, Amman, Ramallah and Beirut, is that Zionist Jews, together with American capitalists and imperialists, have a secret plan to take control over the Arab and Islamic countries and their resources.

How exactly are the “Zionists and imperialists” trying to “undermine” the Palestinian “national project”? And what, precisely, is this project? Is it the project of Hamas and many other Palestinians that seeks the destruction of Israel?

The corrupt Arab and Palestinian leaders spread such rumors to divert attention from problems at home, such as corruption and dictatorship. These leaders want their people too busy hating Jews and Westerners to demand reform, democracy and transparency from their leaders. Those valuables, of course, are what Arab and Palestinian leaders still refuse to offer their people.

Why do many Palestinians prefer peace with Hamas? Because they identify with Hamas’s dream of destroying Israel and killing Jews. It may be an unpleasant a truth, but that is the bottom line.

When Palestinian women took part in a march with Israeli women for peace this week, they were condemned in the harshest terms by many other Palestinians, who called for their punishment. The Palestinian women who participated in the October 8 event, organized by a group called Women Wage Peace, have been denounced by many of their own people as “traitors” and “whores.”

Conversely, when Palestinian Authority (PA) officials held “reconciliation” talks with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip and Egypt during the same period, many Palestinians praised them as “heroes” and “brave.”

Judging from the reactions of many Palestinians, especially on social media, they prefer peace with Hamas rather than with Israel.

The thousands of Palestinian women who participated in the march with Israeli women are being accused of promoting “normalization” with Israel. This, in the eyes of their critics, is an abhorrent and despicable act, tantamount to “high treason” — an offense punishable by death.

Palestinian and Israeli women from the “Women Wage Peace” group participate in an event on September 30, 2017. (Image source: Women Wage Peace/Facebook)

Prior to the women’s march, Palestinian activists waged an online bid to stop the Palestinian women from taking part in the “shameful” event. It was a vicious campaign that lasted for several days and that accused the Palestinian women of treason for promoting “normalization” with the “Israeli enemy.” One group, The Women’s Campaign for Boycotting Israeli Merchandise, said in a statement that the planned march was “hurtful to Palestinian and Arab and international efforts to boycott and isolate Israel.” The group pointed out that the march coincided with a “Zionist-imperialist onslaught to undermine the Palestinian national project.”

Exactly which “Zionist-imperialist” conspiracy these protesters are referring to remains unclear.

Such rhetoric, however, reflects the mindset in the Arab and Islamic world. The most widespread conspiracy theory, which has been floating around for decades and can be heard in almost every coffee shop on the streets of Cairo, Amman, Ramallah and Beirut, is that Zionist Jews, together with American capitalists and imperialists, have a secret plan to take control over the Arab and Islamic countries and their resources.

What does a peaceful march of Israeli and Palestinian women have to do with Zionism and imperialism? How exactly are the “Zionists and imperialists” trying to “undermine” the Palestinian “national project”?

And what, precisely, is this project? Is it the project of Hamas and many other Palestinians that seeks the destruction of Israel? Is it the project that still talks about a phased plan to destroy Israel by demanding a Palestinian state next to Israel so that it would be used in the future as a launching pad to eliminate Israel?

Palestinian and Arab leaders have long advanced anti-Israel, anti-Jewish and anti-Western conspiracy theories. Why do these leaders do so? For one purpose: distraction.

The corrupt Arab and Palestinian leaders spread such rumors to divert attention from problems at home, such as corruption and dictatorship. These leaders want their people too busy hating Jews and Westerners to demand reform, democracy and transparency from their leaders. Those valuables, of course, are what Arab and Palestinian leaders still refuse to offer their people.

Back to the controversial women’s march.

The abusive comments hurled against the Palestinian women who took part in the march are frankly embarrassing to read. Even the PLO committee that permitted the participation of the Palestinian women in the march is being pilloried by many Palestinians, with some calling for holding the PLO officials involved accountable.

The verbal abuse is reminiscent of the experience of teenage Palestinian girls who recently participated in a summer camp with Israeli girls in the US. The Palestinian girls endured a massive smear campaign for attending the summer camp, which was organized by Creativity for Peace, an organization in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Like the women from the march, the teenage girls were also cursed on social media and dubbed as “sluts” and “traitors.” The abuse reached the parents of the Palestinian girls, for allowing their daughters to commit the sin of dancing and mixing with Israeli (Jewish) girls. The girls, like the women, were also accused of promoting “normalization” with Israel.

Sadly, only a handful of Palestinians have thus far dared to come out in defense of the summer camp girls or the women who participated in the October 8 march.

While many Palestinians may be opposed to the brutal and senseless attacks on the girls and women, they are terrified of voicing their views in public. No one wants to get targeted by the abusers, especially if some of these people are affiliated with terror groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Palestinians have an unfortunate habit of allowing thugs and terrorists to intimidate them, control the discourse and set the agenda. This is certainly not new. Most Palestinians prefer to sit on the fence instead of speaking their minds. This is what happens when you live under ruthless dictatorships such as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that suppress freedom of expression.

Yet this most recent exhibit has an ironic twist. Just as the women were shamed publicly for taking part in an event with Jewish women, many Palestinians were celebrating the “reconciliation” between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip took to the streets to express their jubilation over the “accord,” and when the PA Prime Minister and his delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, scenes of kissing and hugging were easy to spot.

What does all this teach us?

First, that many Palestinians continue to consider any form of contact with Jews and “normalization” with the “Zionist entity” an act of treason.

Second, that Palestinians do not hesitate to designate their own women as prostitutes and traitors for engaging in the most basic activities with Jews. Such disrespect for women is not, by the way, something that should surprise us about conservative Arab and Islamic societies.

Third, that for many Palestinians, the priority remains making peace with Hamas and not Israel. Why do they prefer peace with Hamas? Because they identify with Hamas’s dream of destroying Israel and killing Jews. It may be an unpleasant a truth, but that is the bottom line.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.