Archive for the ‘Human rights’ category

Iran using imprisoned British mom to con cash from U.K.

May 24, 2018

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 37, and her 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella, were detained in Iran in 2016 while attempting to board a flight to Britain to see her husband Richard Ratcliffe. File Photo courtesy of Change.org

by By Struan Stevenson | May 24, 2018 UPI

Source Link: Iran using imprisoned British mom to con cash from U.K.

{Yet another reason to put the squeeze on the Mullahs. If they can extort using this poor woman, imagine what they will extort using a nuclear arsenal. – LS}

May 24 (UPI) — The British-Iranian Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a 39-year-old charity worker serving a five-year jail sentence, was told in a Tehran court on Saturday that she faces new charges of “spreading propaganda against the state. ”

In a barefaced display of Iranian injustice, Judge Abolghassem Salavati, clutching a 200-page dossier, informed the young mother that she was likely to be convicted. He then dismissed her choice of lawyer as “not approved.”

The move against Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who has been in prison for two years, was not unexpected, as the charge of “spreading propaganda” echoes the accusations made by the Iranian regime following U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson‘s dangerous gaffe regarding her case. Johnson told the foreign affairs select committee in Westminster last November that she had been in Iran “training journalists,” a completely unfounded and ludicrous assertion.

In fact, Zaghari-Ratcliffe works for the charitable Thomson-Reuters Foundation and was on holiday in Iran, bringing her then 22-month-old daughter, Gabriella to meet her parents. She was arrested at Tehran Airport in April 2016 as she tried to board a plane for London. Charged with spying, she was found guilty following a mock 45-minute trial. Full details of the charges against her have never been revealed, even to her.

Insiders say she is being held as a bargaining-counter against an alleged £450 million arms deal debt that Britain had arranged prior to the overthrow of the shah in 1979. The Iranian regime claims the arms were never delivered and although Britain has now agreed to repay the £450 million, there is an ongoing dispute over the amount of outstanding interest accrued over the past four decades. The new false charges against Zaghari-Ratcliffe are the theocratic regime’s way of placing further pressure on the U.K.

The British mother has consistently denied that she was involved in any form of plotting against the state and certainly denies that she was in Iran to train journalists. She has always stated that she was simply in the country on holiday. But Johnson’s reckless outburst now looks set to cost this innocent woman, being held hostage by one of the most dangerous and corrupt regimes in the world, her ultimate freedom.

On Saturday, Zaghari-Ratcliffe pleaded for clemency and asked Judge Salavati to allow her “to go home and have another baby,” stating that as she is nearing 40 it may be her last chance. She told the judge that her daughter Gabriella will be 4 in three weeks, adding, “There is something called clemency. Give me that for the sake of my baby. She hasn’t seen her father for over two years now.”

It is well known that many women are in prison in Iran, guilty of nothing more than opposing the oppressive mullah’s regime, or attempting to uphold human rights. Iran, under the so-called “moderate” leadership of President Hassan Rouhani, has in fact risen to the No. 1 spot globally as the country that executes most people per capita. Over 3,500 men, women and often children have been hanged since Rouhani took office nearly five years ago.

Executions are often carried out in public, as are other medieval and barbaric sentences such as floggings, amputations and eye gouging. Since the nationwide uprising that began in late December and is still continuing in cities throughout Iran, thousands more men and women have been arrested and imprisoned. Fourteen have been tortured to death.

Iran is also the world’s godfather of terror, backing Bashar al-Assad‘s bloody civil war in Syria, the ferocious Houthi rebels in Yemen, the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq and the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon. The Iranian regime’s fingerprints are on every conflict in the Middle East. This is a country that should be openly condemned by Britain for its catalog of human rights abuse and serial misogyny. Yet Britain is standing fast behind the discredited nuclear deal dumped by the United States recently.

The U.K. and other EU countries believe that lucrative commercial contracts with the fascist Iranian regime are of more importance than human rights and the fate of an innocent young mother like Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

Her husband, Richard, has made frantic efforts to have his wife freed, disclosing that she is now ill and suffering from extreme stress, although apparently, she was allowed to phone the “new British ambassador” from prison at the weekend, the first time she had been permitted to have any contact with the embassy in over two years. She was able to update the ambassador on the new charges she faces and she apparently asked him to issue a formal diplomatic note protesting at the invented accusations.

There is no such thing as justice in Iran and it is outrageous that a young mother and British citizen could be facing a further 16 years in a hellhole prison on such trumped-up and ridiculous charges. The White House strategy of maximum pressure on North Korea led to the release of three American hostages and an agreement to hold peace talks. Instead of simpering appeasement, Britain and the EU should be pursuing a policy of maximum pressure on the pariah Iranian regime.

We need to take a firm line with the mullahs in all areas, including renewed diplomatic and trade sanctions, until innocent hostages, including Zaghari-Ratcliffe, are released.

Struan Stevenson, coordinator of Campaign for Iran Change, was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and is also president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.

 

 

Ethnic Slaughter in Bangladesh

April 30, 2017

Ethnic Slaughter in Bangladesh, Gatestone InstituteArnab Goswami, April 30, 2017

(According to Wikipedia, ” Bangladeshis include people of different ethnic groups and religions. Bengalis, who speak the official Bengali language, make up 98% of the population.[2][3] The politically dominant Bengali Muslims make the nation the world’s third largest Muslim-majority country.” — DM)

 

Last year, the police themselves set fire to about 3,000 houses of minority people.

Most recently, the Bangladesh Army killed Romel Chakma, an indigenous student leader. He was only 18 and had one eye. The government forced the media to bury the news.

What is most perplexing is the silence of the international media and so-called humanitarian organisations.

The Bangladesh government at present is carrying out atrocities against religious and ethnic minorities. Some foreign organisations helped me to flee to safety in Germany after nine of my colleagues were hacked to death by extremists.

Unfortunately, all the minorities of the country are not as fortunate. Last year, the police themselves set fire to about 3,000 houses of minority people. Most recently, the Bangladesh Army killed Romel Chakma, an indigenous student leader. He was only 18 and had one eye. The army decided to pour Kerosene over his dead body and set it on fire.

Romel Chakma. (Image source: Arnab Goswami’s Blog)

The government forced the media to bury the news. It is different in Bangladesh; nobody cares about minority people anyway.

What is most perplexing is the silence of the international media and so-called humanitarian organisations. Please let the world know about the realities in Bangladesh.

This is an article on the murder. It contains the links to the murder news covered.

I know this will not be a popular news, but it is important news. People need to know it.

Arnab Goswami is a Bangladeshi blogger in exile in Germany.

Congress Wants New Sanctions on Venezuela for Ties to Iran-Backed Terrorists

February 9, 2017

Congress Wants New Sanctions on Venezuela for Ties to Iran-Backed Terrorists, Washington Free Beacon, February 9, 2017

(Based on what I read daily in the Latin American Herald Tribune and local Panamanian papers, the proposal would likely do substantially more harm than good. Maduro’s supporters would jump on anything useful to damn American imperialism: “Imperialistic America is interfering in Latin American affairs again!

Panama is still mad at Theodore Roosevelt for creating Panama out of part of Colombia — even though an annual holiday rejoicing over Panamanian independence from Colombia is widely celebrated — and for our “imperialism” in building the Panama Canal– an economic resource we turned over to Panama years ago and which provides mucho dinero for Panama.

Clearly, Maduro is an uneducated, corrupt jerk and has worsened the mess left by el Thugo Chavez. Food? Medicine? Toilet paper? Human rights? Human dignity? freeing imprisoned opposition leaders? Democracy? No way, Jose.  There is little or nothing we can do to improve the lives or to change the regime under which Venezuelans now exist. –DM)

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, speaks during a press conference with international and national press at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. Maduro speaks about the economic war his government have faced and measures to stabilize economy. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, speaks during a press conference with international and national press at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

A bipartisan team of lawmakers is calling on President Donald Trump to immediately sanction Venezuela for its ongoing human rights violations and ties to terrorist organizations that reach the highest levels of government, according to a new congressional communication sent to the White House.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) petitioned the White House this week to take action against Venezuela and sanction leading government officials, including the country’s second-in-command, Tareck El Aissami, who is believed to have ties to radical terror organizations.

Venezuela has been devolving into further chaos in recent months as the oppressive socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro continues its crackdown on dissident voices and other reformists.

Maduro caused an outrage in the United States earlier this year when he appointed former regional governor El Aissami to a high-level post that puts him next in line to assume control from Maduro. Aissami has long been accused of having ties to drug kingpins and radical terrorist organizations.

Rogue nations such as Iran have made overtures to anti-Western nations such as Venezuela in an effort to boost the number of rogue nations thriving in America’s backyard. Numerous experts have claimed Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group, and other terrorist forces have been spotted moving across Latin America.

The call for sanctions by these lawmakers comes as the Trump administration considers ratcheting up international pressure on a range of bad actors, including Iran, North Korea, and others. Many GOP leaders in Congress have been urging the White House to be more aggressive when it comes to dealing with rogue nations across the globe.

“We are writing to request that your administration take immediate action to sanction regime officials responsible for the ongoing dire humanitarian situation, oppressive human rights conditions, and unconscionable corruption taking place in Venezuela,” write Menendez and Ros-Lehtinen, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

“Moreover, Maduro’s recent appointment of Tareck El Aissami puts him next in line to possibly become the next leader of Venezuela, which is extremely troubling given his alleged ties to drug trafficking and terrorist organizations,” the lawmakers write.

“It is extremely concerning that the Maduro regime continues to undertake increasingly authoritative measures against innocent people in Venezuela,” according to the letter, which accuses the Venezuelan leader of committing mass human rights atrocities in an effort to retain power.

“The opposition has been subjected to intense persecution, being vilified on state media by Maduro regime officials, routinely accused of false crimes, and arbitrarily imprisoned,” the lawmakers write, adding that there are more than 100 political prisoners, including U.S. citizens, being held captive in the country.

“We believe that all of them must be freed,” the lawmakers write. “Maduro has also relied on corrupted branches of his regime, such as the Supreme Court and the National Electoral Council, to invalidate actions undertaken by the National Assembly, including an amnesty bill for the country’s political prisoners and a motion for a constitutionally enshrined recall referendum on the presidency.”

The United States must take aggressive action against Venezuela in order to further isolate Maduro’s government and spark regime change, according to Menendez and Ros-Lehtinen.

U.S. business interests also are at stake, according to the lawmakers, who make the case that corruption in Venezuela is harming American interests. Many companies, they say, have been forced to pay millions in bribes to Venezuelan officials in order to complete business transactions in the country.

“We are concerned that over payments of food contracts could likewise represent a potential liability for U.S. companies,” according to the letter. “Thus, we believe that the Office of Foreign Assets Control [OFAC] should issue clarifying regulations to ensure that U.S. companies do not inadvertently engage in business directly with any corrupt regime entity in Venezuela that would violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977.”

The appointment of El Aissami is particularly concerning to Menendez, Ros-Lehtinen, and others in Congress.

El Aissami has been suspected of issuing passports to members of the Hamas and Hezbollah terror groups during his tenure overseeing the country’s immigration bureau.

El Aissami also has been alleged to have played a role in the recruitment of radicalized individuals to Hezbollah.

“The nexus between corruption, drug trafficking, and the influence of extremist terrorist organizations in Venezuela is well documented, many of these nefarious and illicit activities are associated with El Aissami,” the lawmakers write.

Now is the Time. A Bad U.S.-Cuba Policy With a Good U.S.-Latin American Policy

December 16, 2016

Now is the Time. A Bad U.S.-Cuba Policy With a Good U.S.-Latin American Policy, Center for Security Policy, Luis Fleischman, December 16, 2016

obamaandche

Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor warned President –elect Donald Trump that reversing the normalization process with Cuba could have harmful consequences.

Mr. Rhodes gave a number of reasons including that the death of Fidel Castro  offers an opportunity for a political transition as  Raul Castro, the current president announced he will retire in 2018. He also added that closing off Cuba now is likely to embolden the hardliners. In addition, Rhodes believes that closing the doors to Cuba at this juncture could harm relations between the United States and other Latin American countries.

Interestingly enough, President –elect Trump never spoke of stopping the normalization process or specifically returning to the situation before December 17, 2014. Mr. Trump, through his spokesman pointed out that he will demand religious and political liberalization for the island including liberation of political prisoners.  However, Rhodes suggested that insistence on demanding respect for human rights in Cuba has only led to more repression.

The arguments brought by the Obama Administration are difficult to sustain.  According to Pedro Roig, a Cuba expert, who published a detailed report in 2014, there is an entire structure in place aimed at guaranteeing the continuity of the regime even after Raul Castro leaves office or dies.

The regime secured key supporters in the armed forces and in the government bureaucracy. The armed forces control 65% of the economy. More than half of the 14 members of the Politburo are military men. Furthermore, there is a younger generation of people in high office that are also part of the central committee of the Communist Party. By the same token, Fidel and Raul’s children as well as members of their extended family and children of other high officers, occupy important positions. Many of them are in their fifties. As such they are likely to keep the regime in place for many years, if not decades to come.

Therefore, neither Raul’s retirement nor his eventual death can secure a transition as the Obama Administration asserts.

By the same token, Obama’s contention that relations with countries in Latin America would be at risk if the normalization process changes course is false.

For more than a decade and a half the left dominated the political scene in Latin America and indeed they pressured to de-isolate Cuba and reintegrate it into the family of the Americas. However, the political scene has now changed.

Most recently, Cuba’s strongest ally in the region, Venezuela, was suspended from MERCOSUR, the South American common market trade block.

The suspension was due to Venezuela’s lack of compliance with MERCOSUR’s rules and violations of human rights and democratic governance.

In two other key countries, Brazil and Argentina, the left is no longer in power. In Uruguay a moderate left-wing government also voted to suspend Venezuela.

The bottom line is that Venezuela has become isolated after 16 years of stealing the limelight. Therefore, it is logical that Cuba may no longer enjoy the regional status it once did. The MERCOSUR decision on Venezuela is a powerful sign of this development. The countries that still remain zealous supporters of Cuba are Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua, all part of the Bolivarian Alliance and led by authoritarian leaders.

A Trump Administration is in a position now to take the upper hand in relation to Cuba as well as to Venezuela and their allies. This is a perfect moment to apply pressure on Cuba to change human rights policy. It is also a great moment to develop an overall new strategy aimed at neutralizing countries that still maintain the legacy of Castro and Chavez. Such a legacy is still highly problematic, to say the least, as these countries maintain relations with Iran, with terrorist elements and with drug cartels.

Trump’s appointment of General John Kelly as head of the Department of Homeland Security is an encouraging sign. Kelly has denounced a Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards presence in Latin America which are mostly harbored by countries associated with Cuba and Venezuela. He also understands very well that ISIS can take advantage of the vulnerable American Southern border. Most recently Southern Command confirmed the infiltration of Sunni Arabs to the U.S. through that border.

A new policy in the Western Hemisphere will require a strong diplomatic effort and cooperation from Latin American countries.

We do not need to treat the Western Hemisphere as a battlefield. Latin America is about more than this. However, treating the hemisphere only in commercial terms, ignoring all the issues mentioned above, or making a reconciliation policy with Cuba a centerpiece of what requires a much larger approach, should not continue to be our official policy.

All About Amona

November 24, 2016

All About Amona | Anne’s Opinions, 24th November 2016

(Human rights work only in one direction apparently, not only outside of Israel, but even within its own judicial system. Why is it that the word of Palestinians is automatically taken at face value, whereas the words of Jewish settlers are immediately suspect? The injustice eats away at me. –anneinpt).

 

A very menacing caravan in Amona

A very menacing caravan in Amona

The community of Amona in the title has been the subject of much controversy over the past couple of years, reaching a head in the last couple of months.

The background to the story is a familiar one in the Israeli domestic landscape. (One caveat – I am writing from memory because I’m having a problem finding links in English. If I have facts wrong, please correct me in the comments and I will edit the post accordingly).

A small settlement, consisting of only about 40 families, was established with government permission or at least without official rejection. The land was purchased by the Jewish settlers (there, I said the bogey-word!) and all was quiet for 20 years (!) until an Arab “owner” was found by Israeli leftists who can’t bear the idea of Jews returning to their ancestral homes. This ostensible Arab owner suddenly “remembered” that part of the land is his and laid a claim to it.

The case went to court, which is where it has been bouncing around ever since. Israel’s hyperactivist High Court ruled in favour of the Arab (of course – it is very rare for the High Court to ever rule in the Jews’ favour). The Israeli government was duly horrified and has tried various tricks of the political trade to try and mitigate the High Court’s ruling.

These tricks have included legislation to retroactively legalize all settlement outposts, (which Sweden expressed deep concern over, as if they have nothing better to be concerned about in their refugee-infused crime-infested cities), setting up a “Cyprus commission” to examine competing land claims in a manner similar to the commission set up in Cyprus to arbitrate between Greek and Turkish claims, and assorted other delaying tactics.

The High Court ordered that compensation be paid to the Arab owner, in which case there is no reason to destroy the community.

Nevertheless it now looks like Amona is going to be destroyed because after all, you cannot have actual Jews living on Jewish land in the Jewish State can you? The world would never be the same!

A very menacing Amona resident with her 2 very dangerous children

An Amona resident with her 2 children

Adding insult to injury, when the government came up with a plan to move the Amona houses a few hundred yards up the road, the US State Department objected to that too! There is no pleasing those Jew-hating politicians.

Meanwhile, the demolition of an illegal Bedouin village in southern Israel has been delayed (via Reality) because of the objections of human rights activists. I wonder if those activists will turn up at Amona on demolition day. Or do human rights only apply to Arabs, and not to Jews?

For more reading on this very painful subject (which I admit I have been avoiding precisely because the outrage at the injustice of the decisions so upsets me), here are some illuminating articles:

Here are eight crucial things you need to know about Amona: (via MP):

1. Jordan had no right to parcel out lands
When the Amona case first reached the Supreme Court, a representative of the land registrar for the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) argued that despite the fact that the location was a bald and abandoned mountaintop, there existed documented parcels of land which had been registered by the Jordanian government as belonging to area sheiks and clans. However, as an invading and occupying power, Jordan had no right to award these lands. Jordan’s rule over the “West Bank” was not recognized by the vast majority of UN member states save for the UK and Pakistan, and so this local Arab “ownership” is based on a lie.

2. Only 0.5% of the Amona land is registered to private Arab owners
… in Jerusalem Magistrate Court it was discovered that out of the nine Arab petitioners, seven own land that is entirely outside the Amona perimeter, and have had no problem working their land had they been so inclined. The remaining two owned only a sliver – about half an acre altogether, out of the 125 acres of the Amona territory – less than .5%. The remaining land is registered to names of non-existent people who do not appear in the 1967 census.

3. COGAT didn’t differentiate between the parcels with known and unknown ownership
Despite the above facts, the COGAT prosecution related to the parcels whose owners are unknown as being privately owned, declaring that some 15 acres in the southern part of the settlement belonged to real private owners. They then told the court that, in fact, there was no difference between the various parts of the community and that the half-acre that became 15 acres was, in effect, indistinguishable from the rest, and the entire community had to come down.

4. The Settlement Arrangements Act does not violate international law
Regarding the Settlement Arrangements Act, which the left, as well as senior Netanyahu cabinet officials, are saying violates international law, former Tel Aviv University president and international law expert Prof. Yoram Dinstein has argued that “when an occupier appropriates the power to legislate in an occupied territory, said power belongs to the occupying state and not to one of its organs (COGAT).” […]

5. International law compels Israel to care for the rights of Jewish and Arab resident
Another popular argument against the Settlement Arrangements Act is that it violates international law because it sanctions the impounding of Arab owned land for the sake of a Jewish community. However, it has been noted that international law compels the occupier to care for the needs of all the civilians under its rule, Jews and Arabs alike, and the right of a government to expropriate private property for public use, with proper payment of compensation (eminent domain) is inherent in exerting such care.

6. The Settlement Arrangements Act is consistent with the pre-67 law in Judea and Samaria
… the Settlement Arrangements Act is consistent with the legal systems that were in use in Judea and Samaria before 1967. Both Ottoman law and Jordanian law determine that in a case where a man built and planted in good faith land belonging to another, should the value of the construction exceed the value of the land, the land owner is compelled to receive compensation.

7. Israel legislates retroactively when needed
Another argument against the Settlement Arrangements Act is that it retroactively alters a court ruling. But the state of Israel regularly legislates retroactively, as in the amendment that reversed many hundreds of court sentences of Arab terrorists, to facilitate the Gilad Shalit deal with Hamas.

8. The Settlement Arrangements Act is not unconstitutional
Finally, the most crucial argument against the Settlement Arrangements Act is that it is unconstitutional – the constitution in this case being Israel’s Basic Laws. Setting aside the paradox whereby one Knesset law is inapplicable in the territories while the same Knesset’s basic laws are applicable – does Israel’s basic law really dictate that 40 families with their 200 children who have lived in Amona for 20 years be evicted to satisfy the alleged rights of two claimants who own less than .5% of the land and have never lived there? Has the court become so immoral as to be the enemy of its constituents without any foundation?

Caroline Glick, always a very worthwhile read, writes about Amona and the rule of law: She succinctly summarizes the issue and points out the naked bias in the court’s ruling: (emphases are added):

Yehuda Yifrach reported Friday in Makor Rishon that once the suit was filed, the Jerusalem District Court acted to ascertain the actual scope of the ownership rights under question. It was determined that a mere half-acre of Amona was built on lands to which the Palestinians made claim. The rest of their claims pertained to land outside of the community altogether.

In other words, once the actual claims of ownership were examined it worked out that a mere fraction of the community was built on privately owned land. It further worked out that the precise areas that were owned by claimants are non-contiguous and indiscernible, but all were generally located on smidgens of plots on the southern side of the community.

Others have disputed Yifrach’s findings. But that is part of the problem of ascertaining the validity of ownership claims.

At any rate, as Yifrach noted, rather than say that the owners would be compensated for the half acre, whose specific locations were unclear, the Attorney General’s office decided that all the plots that included privately owned land had to be destroyed. Thus the Attorney General’s lawyers magically transformed a half acre into 15 acres, covering the entire southern part of Amona.

The government then decided it would raze only the homes located on those 15 acres and move the families to new homes in Amona on undisputed plots in the northern half of the community.

The Supreme Court would have none of that, however.

The justices insisted that their initial decision that all 60 acres be razed to the ground still stands.

Glick next addresses the Arrangements Law, which was intended to legalize or regulate “illegal” outposts:

Given the specious nature of Mandelblit’s legal reasoning, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that in writing his opinion he was not acting as a lawyer, but as a political activist. Mandelbilt’s purpose was not to protect the rule of law – which his opinion ignores and distorts. Rather his goal was to protect the rule of lawyers who use their positions as officers of the court to advance their political agenda.

Faced with the specter of Mandelblit’s legally unsupported “legal” opinion, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu first tried to get the court to delay the deadline for destroying Amona for several months.

Unsurprisingly, the court, which is fighting not for justice but to prove that it is more powerful than the government, rejected his request.

Caroline Glick’s conclusion is one that we should all pay attnetion to – but unfortunately I am pretty sure our government won’t and certainly our judicial system will studiously ignore:

The timing of this showdown between the rule of law and the rule of lawyers couldn’t be worse. It comes in the twilight of the Obama administration which has shown consistently that the actual legal basis for Israel’s actions in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem is irrelevant.

President Barack Obama and his advisers condemn every action Israel takes because they oppose Israel’s presence in the areas for ideological reasons that have nothing to do with law.

Unfortunately, we can’t always pick the timing of our great battles.

Mandelblit and his comrades have left our lawmakers no choice. They must pass the Arrangements Law, and override Mandelblit. This is the only way to ensure the Knesset’s position as Israel’s lawmaking body is respected.

This is the only way to secure Israel’s position as a nation governed by the rule of law, rather than the rule of unelected, unaccountable lawyers.

It is as much the empowering of our enemies (including our enemies within) as the judicial outrage which infuriates me. “צדק צדק תרדוף”, “Justice, Justice shall you pursue” we are enjoined by the Torah. But the Torah did not mean that we should pursue justice right out of our system.

Justice should be meted out to Israeli Jews as well as to Palestinians. Someone should remind our holier-than-thou activist courts of this point.

Venezuela, Iran, USA and Narco-Terrorism

October 13, 2016

Venezuela, Iran, USA and Narco-Terrorism, Gatestone Institute, Susan Warner, October 13, 2016

There are an estimated six million Muslims living in Latin American cities, who provide a fertile terrorist recruiting environment.

“Iran has opened up more than 80 cultural centers in Latin America in order to export its toxic brand of political influence and serve its interest, focusing on partnering with nations well known for their anti-American rhetoric including Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.” — US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in testimony for the House Sub-Committee on the Middle East and North Africa.

Amidst the unspeakable economic distress facing residents of Venezuela today, security experts have identified yet another major cause for concern emanating from this once prosperous, oil-rich nation: Iran is moving in, partnering with Venezuela’s prosperous drug traders and creating a foothold there, as well as in other “friendly” Latin American countries. Iran is laundering money in Latin America and presumably secretly plotting to accomplish a strategic long-term goal to penetrate the Western hemisphere.

Iran’s terrorist activities, its partnership with Venezuelan drug traffickers and the general criminal atmosphere affects the citizens of Caracas so much that people reportedly are fearful of even going to the store to wait in the endless lines for food.

In Venezuela, security analysts say, the corruption starts at the very top with President Nicolas Maduro himself, who is looking frantically for money in every crevasse to keep the nation and his presidency afloat. Reports estimate that in Venezuela one police officer dies every day and the number of homicides per capita in Caracas is the highest in the world.

National crime statistics, however, seem to be just the start: deeper and more alarming than the Venezuelan homicide toll, there appears to be an imminent threat to the entire Western hemisphere from partnerships between Venezuelan drug traffickers and terrorist networks like Hamas and Hezbollah, two groups that act a proxies for Iran.

Together, terrorism and illegal drugs represent a significant export for Venezuela. Iran and Venezuela partner together to move terrorist cells and drugs to hubs in the United States and throughout North America.

This alliance has already come to the attention of the House Sub-Committee on the Middle East and North Africa; in 2015, Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen headed a hearing entitled, “Iran and Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere.”

“Drug trafficking funds terrorism,” said Ros-Lehtinen. “The need for a comprehensive strategy must address this fundamental cause of the problem.”

“Recent reports of the connections between Hezbollah and the FARC [Colombia]; the murder of the special prosecutor of Argentina, Alberto Nisman, and the alleged conspiracy between the Argentine Government, Venezuela and Iran to cover up Hezbollah’s activities and involvement in the AMIA [Jewish Community Center] bombing do nothing to quell doubts about Iran’s activities in Latin America.”

Through its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist proxy in Lebanon, Iran is spreading its roots through legitimate enterprise “laundries” throughout Latin America.

Iran has set up banking entities, embassies, cultural centers and business enterprises, through which it is building an infrastructure to advance expansionist strategies.

Vanessa Neumann wrote in 2011:

“Besides its sponsored terrorist groups, Iran also has a growing direct influence in Latin America, spurred by three principal motivations: 1) a quest for uranium, 2) a quest for gasoline, 3) a quest for a base of operations that is close to the US territory, in order to position itself to resist diplomatic and possible military pressure, possibly by setting up a missile base within striking distance of the mainland US, as the Soviets did in the Cuban Missile Crisis”

“FARC in Columbia, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Al Qaeda all have training camps, recruiting bases and networks of mutual assistance in Venezuela as well as throughout the continent,” the Foreign Policy Research Institute reported.

Jaime Daremblum wrote in 2011:

“An official involved in the fight against terrorism said that the relation between Venezuela and Iran is becoming a strategic association. How to explain otherwise reported regular flights between Caracas and Tehran, for which no tickets are sold and no immigration or customs inspections are required?”

Rachel Ehrenfeld, in her 1990 book on terrorism funding (page xiii), defined the term “narco-terrorism” as “the use of drug trafficking to advance the objectives of certain governments and terrorist organizations.” Two decades after the book’s publication, the term narco-terrorism has almost become a household word, with Venezuela as a hub of activity in the Western hemisphere.

A U.S. State Department report stated:

“Venezuela remained a major drug-transit country in 2014. Venezuela is one of the preferred trafficking routes for illegal drugs from South America to the Caribbean region, Central America, the United States, Western Africa, and Europe, due to its porous western border with Colombia, weak judicial system, sporadic international counternarcotics cooperation, and permissive and corrupt environment.”

Hezbollah’s annual budget of more than 100 million dollars is provided by the Iranian government directly and through a complex system of finance cells scattered around the world, from Bangkok and Paraguay to Michigan and North Carolina.

Far from being the passive beneficiaries of drug-trafficking expats and sympathizers, Hezbollah has high-level officials directly involved in the South American cocaine trade and its most violent cartels, including the Mexican crime syndicate Los Zetas. Hezbollah’s increasing foothold in the cocaine trade is facilitated by an enormous Lebanese diaspora.

There are an estimated six million Muslims living in Latin American cities, who provide a fertile terrorist recruiting environment. Vanessa Neumann writes:

“The Free Trade Zones of Iquique, Chile; Maicao, Colombia; and Colón, Panama, can generate undetected financial and logistical support for terrorist groups. Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru offer cocaine as a lucrative source of income. In addition, Cuba and Venezuela have cooperative agreements with Syria, Libya, and Iran.”

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was established by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979. Today it plays a leading role in Iran’s expansionist enterprises. The IRGC has become a wide-ranging political, social, and economic corporation — with holdings in industry, security, energy, construction, and communications. It is the most robust economic organization in the country. According to reports, many of its former members currently hold senior political and bureaucratic positions in the Iranian government.

According to a 2013 report in Military and Strategic Affairs:

“… the Revolutionary Guards are active on two major complementary levels. First, the organization leads the efforts to export the Iranian Islamic Revolution, seeking to expand the republic’s political, ideological, and religious influences in the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Secondly, the Revolutionary Guards continuously exert efforts to undermine the influence of the United States in the Middle East by harming the superpower’s regional interests and its allies. … the Revolutionary Guards make extensive global use of asymmetrical strategies in their struggle against the West and its allies, preferring tactics of subversion and terrorism.”

The Quds Force, an arm of IRGC, is in charge of exporting the Islamic Revolution and organizing terrorist and subversive activity against Iran’s enemies, according to a 2013 report from theAmerican Center for Democracy

The Quds Force uses proxies as a way to disguise Iran’s involvement in terrorist activity. The force’s most prominent ally is the Lebanese Hezbollah, which was established in 1982 with the help of the Revolutionary Guards.

Alongside their efforts to battle their own serious homegrown drug problems in Iran, the Revolutionary Guards are also reportedly working to harness the strategic and tactical potential of the international drug trade in order to advance Iran’s expansion.

Venezuela and Iran seem to have been friendly since the establishment of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in 1960. They have been reinforcing their bonds since May 2001, when then President Hugo Chavez paid a visit to Tehran. There he coordinated their anti-Western narrative, stressing opposition to all forms of “imperialism and oppression” in the Third World — a code for “lets agree to stay away from any relationship with Western capitalist powers: the United States, Israel and their allies”. This “anti-imperialist” mantra has been used by both Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, along with Iran as a unifying cry against the U.S. and its allies.

1944Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (right) meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Tehran, January 10, 2015. (Image Source: TeleSUR video screenshot)

According to the testimony of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:

“Iran has opened up more than 80 cultural centers in Latin America in order to export its toxic brand of political influence and serve its interest, focusing on partnering with nations well known for their anti-American rhetoric including Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua.”

Hamas and Hezbollah, both Iranian proxy terrorist groups, have also established offices in Caracas.

Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Jeff Duncan and others say this is an appropriate time for the United States to pay more attention to activities happening in its own backyard.

The Need for a U.S. Response

In his statement to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Jeff Duncan asserted at the 2015 hearing, that the U.S. and its allies must do more to counter Iran’s goals to develop nuclear weapons, export terrorism and develop alliances with the narcotics trade.

Since the (unfortunate) approval of “Iran Nuclear Deal” in 2015, the United States has largely dissolved international sanctions against Iran, which leaves the IRGC free to make uninhibited alliances with networks of transnational organized crime organizations to finance its aspirations. Along with United States’ recent payment of $1.5 billion to Iran, there may be a grave risk to our own national security as Iran marches north from Venezuela into Central America and further into the United States through our southern border with Mexico.

In 2015, according to the US Department of State, U.S. President Barack Obama determined that Venezuela had failed to adhere to its obligations under international counternarcotics agreements. Even so, the US issued a waiver, allowing for continued assistance to be granted to Venezuela “in the interest of U.S. national security“.

The State Department admits that Venezuelan authorities do not effectively prosecute drug traffickers, in part due to their political corruption. Additionally, Venezuelan law enforcement officers lack the equipment, training, and resources required to significantly impede the operations of major drug trafficking organizations.

The U.S. Treasury Department has sanctioned multiple Venezuelan banks and Venezuelan regime operatives, including the former Minister of Interior and Justice. The U.S. State Department has cited Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, PDVSA, and CAVIM, the Venezuelan weapons company, for their role in helping Iran circumvent the sanctions that the U.S. has now lifted altogether.

At the same time, the U.S. administration continues to purchase 10% of its oil (roughly 300 million barrels per year) from Venezuela, the same entity that it sanctioned in 2011 for shipping gasoline to Iran.

This is all happening while terrorist groups are regularly connecting to drug cartels in the region, and forging a deepening narco-terror machine that in turn is funding terrorist activities.

While the US administration — apparently in denial about the clear threats posed by Iran’s expansionist and nuclear aspirations — dismisses Israel’s concerns as “hysteria,” Iran quietly continues its unfettered march westward.

France: Human Rights vs. The People

September 22, 2016

France: Human Rights vs. The People, Gatestone InstituteYves Mamou, September 22, 2016

♦ French politicians seem to believe they are elected NOT to defend French people and the French nation, but to impose a “human rights ideology” on society.

♦ The rule of law is there to protect citizens from the arbitrary actions of the State. When a group of French Muslims attacks the entire way society is constructed, the rule of law now protects only the perpetrators.

♦ For Western leaders, “human rights” have become a kind of new religion. Like a disease, the human rights ideology has proliferated in all areas of life. The UN website shows a list of all the human rights that are now institutionalized: they range from “adequate housing” to “youth.” At least 42 categories of human rights fields are determined, each of which are split into two or three subcategories.

♦ With what result? More than 140 countries (out of 193 UN members) engage in torture. The number of authoritarian countries has increased. Women remain a subordinate class in nearly all countries.

♦ “Saudi Arabia ratified the treaty banning discrimination against women in 2007, and yet by law subordinates women to men in all areas of life. Child labour exists in countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Powerful western countries, including the US, do business with grave human rights abusers.” — Eric Posner, professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

♦ Human rights, originally conceived of as an anti-discrimination tool, became a Trojan horse, a tool manipulated by Islamists and others to dismantle secularism, freedom of speech and freedom of religion in European countries.

On August 13, the Administrative Court in Nice, France, validated the decision of the Mayor of Cannes to prohibit wearing religious clothing on the beaches of Cannes. By “religious clothing,” the judge clearly seemed to be pointing his finger at the burkini, a body-covering bathing suit worn by many Muslim women.

These “Muslim textile affairs” reveal two types of jihad attacking France: one hard, one soft. The hard jihad, internationally known, consists of assassinating journalists of Charlie Hebdo (January 2015), Jewish people at the Hypercacher supermarket (January 2015) and young people at the Bataclan Theater, restaurants and the Stade de France (November 2015). The hard jihad also included stabbing two policeman in Magnanville, a suburb of Paris, (June 2016); truck-ramming to death 84 people in Nice on Bastille Day (July 14), and murdering a priest in the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, among other incidents. The goal of hard jihad, led by ISIS, al-Qaeda, and others, is to impose sharia by terror.

The soft jihad is different. It does not involve murdering people, but its final goal is the same: to impose Islam on France by covering the country in Islamic symbols — veils, burqas, burkinis and so on — at all levels of the society: in schools, universities, hospitals, corporations, streets, beaches, swimming pools and public transportation. By imposing the veil everywhere, soft Islamists seem to want to kill secularism, which, since escaping the grip of the Catholic Church, has become the French way of “living together.”

1347-1Scenes from the “hard jihad” against France; the November 2015 shootings in Paris, in which 130 people were murdered by Islamists.

No one can understand secularism in France without a bit of history.

“Secularism is essential if we want the ‘people’ be defined on a political basis” wrote the French historian, Jacques Sapir.

“Religious allegiance, when it turns into fundamentalism, is in conflict with the notion of sovereignty of the people. … the Nation and State in France were built historically by fighting feudalism and the supranational ambition of the Pope and Christian religion. … Secularism is the tool to return to the private sphere all matters that cannot be challenged comfortably …. Freedom for diversity among individuals implies a consensus in the common public sphere. The distinction between the public sphere and the private sphere is fundamental for democracy to exist.”

And this distinction is secularism.

The Problem Now is Political

French politicians seem to believe they are elected NOT to defend French people and the French nation, but to impose a “human rights ideology” on society. They also seem unable to understand the challenges that common people in the streets are currently facing. They are also unable or unwilling to defend the country against either hard or soft jihad.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, for instance, said in a July 29 interview for Le Monde:

“We must focus on everything that is effective [to fight Islamism], but there is a line that may not be crossed: the rule of law. … My government will not be the one to create a Guantanamo, French-style.”

Only Yves Michaud, a French philosopher, dared to point out that the rule of law is there to protect citizens from the arbitrary actions of the State. When a group of French Muslims attacks the entire way society is constructed, the rule of law now protects only the perpetrators.

The same is true for French President François Hollande. After the murder by two Islamists of the Father Jacques Hamel in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray in July 2016, he said: “We must lead the war by all means in respect of the rule of law.”

Elisabeth Levy, publisher of the French magazine, Causeur, wrote in response:

“We need to know: by all means? … Or in respect of the rule of law? What is this rule of law that authorizes a judge to release an Islamist interested in waging jihad in Syria and, because he could not go to Syria, was free while wearing an electronic bracelet, to walk the streets to slit the throat of a priest?”

She concluded: “If we want to protect our liberties, it might be interesting to take some liberties with the rule of law.”

The ideology of human rights is common to all European countries. Because authorities in European countries act, speak and legislate on the basis of human rights, they put themselves in a position of weakness when they have to name, apprehend and fight an Islamist threat.

In Sweden:

A 46-year-old Bosnian ISIS jihadi, considered extremely dangerous, was taken into custody by the Malmö police. The terrorist immediately applied for asylum, the Swedish Migration Agency stepped in, took over the case — and prevented him from being deported. Inspector Leif Fransson of the Border Police told the local daily newspaper, HD/Sydsvenskan: “As soon as these people throw out their trump card and say ‘Asylum’, the gates of heaven open. Sweden has gotten a reputation as a safe haven for terrorists.”

In Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a press conference, at the end of July 2016, that her mission was not to defend German people and German identity but “to fulfill humanitarian obligations [towards migrants].” She added it was “our historic task… a historic test in times of globalization.”

For Western Leaders, Human Rights Has Become a New Religion

The human rights movement was born in 1948 with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, launched by Eleanor Roosevelt. For 70 years, nine major “core” human rights treaties were written and ratified by the vast majority of countries.

Like a disease, the “human rights ideology” has proliferated in all areas of life. The United Nations website shows a list of all the human rights that are now institutionalized: they range from “adequate housing” to “youth” and include “Food”, “Freedom of Religion and Belief”, “HIV/AIDS”, “Mercenaries”, “Migration”, “Poverty”, “Privacy”, “Sexual orientation and gender identity”, “Situations”, ” Sustainable Development”, “Water and sanitation.” At least 42 categories of human rights fields are determined, each of which are split into two or three subcategories.

With what result? More than 140 countries (out of 193 countries that belong to the UN) engage in torture. The number of authoritarian countries has increased: “105 countries have seen a net decline in terms of freedom, and only 61 have experienced a net improvement” reported the NGO, Freedom House, in 2016. Women remain a subordinate class in nearly all countries. Children continue to work in mines and factories in many countries.

Professor Eric Posner of the University of Chicago Law School, writes:

“Saudi Arabia ratified the treaty banning discrimination against women in 2007, and yet by law subordinates women to men in all areas of life. Child labour exists in countries that have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Uzbekistan, Tanzania and India, for example. Powerful western countries, including the US, do business with grave human rights abusers.”

What is disturbing is not that the “religion” of “anti-discrimination” has become a joke. What is disturbing is that human rights, originally conceived of as an anti-discrimination tool, became a Trojan horse, a tool manipulated by Islamists and others to dismantle secularism, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion in European countries. What is disturbing is that human rights and anti-discrimination policies are dismantling nations, and placing States in a position of incapacity — or perhaps just unwillingness — to name Islamism as a problem and take measures against it.

The Religion of Human Rights as a Tool of Europe’s Muslim Brotherhood

Jean-Louis Harouel, Professor of the History of Law at the Paris-Panthéon-Assas University, recently published a book entitled, Les Droits de l’homme contre le peuple (Humans Rights against the People). In an interview with Le Figaro, he said:

“Human rights, are what we call in France ‘fundamental rights’. They were introduced in the 70’s. The great beneficiaries of fundamental rights were foreigners. Islam took advantage of it to install in France, in the name of human rights and under its protection, Islamic civilization, mosques and minarets, the Islamic way of life, halal food prescriptions, clothing and cultural behavior — Islamic laws even in violation of French law: religious marriage without civil marriage, polygamy, unilateral divorce of wife by husband, etc.

“Through the assertion of identity, Islamists and mainly UOIF [Union of Islamic Organizations of France — the French branch of the Muslim Brotherhood] exploited human rights to install their progressive control on populations of Northern African descent, and coerce them to respect the Islamic order. In particular, they do all that they can to prevent young [Arab] people who are born in France from becoming French citizens.”

The human rights and anti-discrimination “religion” also gave Islam and Islamists a comfortable position from which to declare war on France and all other European countries. It seems whatever crime they are committing today and will commit in the future, Muslims and Islamists remain the victim. For example, just after the November 13 terrorist attacks in France, in which more than 130 people were murdered by Islamists at the Bataclan Theater, the Stade de France, cafés and restaurants, Tariq Ramadan, an Islamist professor at Oxford University, tweeted:

“I am not Charlie, nor Paris: I am a warrant search suspect”.

Ramadan meant that because of the emergency laws and because he was a Muslim, he was an automatic suspect, an automatic victim of racism and “Islamophobia.”

In another example, just after the terrorist attack in Nice on July 14, when an Islamist rammed a truck into a crowd celebrating Bastille Day, killing at least 84 people, Abdelkader Sadouni, an imam in Nice, told the Italian newspaper Il Giornale: “French secularism is the main and only thing responsible for terror attacks.”

Global Elites against the People

The question now is: have our leaders decided to cope with the real problems of the real people? In other words, are they motivated enough to throw the human rights ideology overboard, restore secularism in society and fight Islamists? The problem is that they do not even seem to understand the problem. What Peggy Noonan, of the Wall Street Journal, wrote about Angela Merkel can apply to all leaders of European countries:

“Ms. Merkel had put the entire burden of a huge cultural change not on herself and those like her but on regular people who live closer to the edge, who do not have the resources to meet the burden, who have no particular protection or money or connections. Ms. Merkel, her cabinet and government, the media and cultural apparatus that lauded her decision were not in the least affected by it and likely never would be.

Nothing in their lives will get worse. The challenge of integrating different cultures, negotiating daily tensions, dealing with crime and extremism and fearfulness on the street — that was put on those with comparatively little, whom I’ve called the unprotected. They were left to struggle, not gradually and over the years but suddenly and in an air of ongoing crisis that shows no signs of ending — because nobody cares about them enough to stop it.

The powerful show no particular sign of worrying about any of this. When the working and middle class pushed back in shocked indignation, the people on top called them “xenophobic,” “narrow-minded,” “racist.” The detached, who made the decisions and bore none of the costs, got to be called “humanist,” “compassionate,” and “hero of human rights.”

So the fight against Islamism might first consist of a fight against the caste that governs us.