Posted tagged ‘Islamism’

The Old Arab Fear Tactic That Came to Washington

October 17, 2017

The Old Arab Fear Tactic That Came to Washington, Gatestone InstituteNonie Darwish, October 17, 2017

After a year of being ruled by Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi, the majority of Egyptians turned against the Muslim Brotherhood — a decision that understandably does not sit well with pro-sharia media. These, such as Al Jazeera, are dedicated to trying to save the reputation of the Muslim Brotherhood, sharia and Islam itself, at any cost. Their number-one enemy has become critics of jihad and sharia, especially those who live in Western freedom. The Arab media’s “solution” to a mass defection from extremism is to accuse moderates and critics of sharia not only of being “collaborators” with infidels but also that they “collude” with terrorists.

The current goal of the Arab media, especially Al Jazeera, is to portray critics of jihad and sharia, as well as apostates, as being just as bad as Islamists, if not worse.

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The true threat to the US, the West, and even stable Arab governments, as Egypt is realizing, is political Islam as furthered by groups such the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, al-Qaeda and their offshoots.

This real threat has become a terrible burden to every Muslim head of state and is behind all the political chaos, coups and revolutions currently raging throughout the Islamic world.

In a chaotic, propaganda-prone area of the world, Qatar’s Al Jazeera has always reported sympathetically about Islamist groups and promoters of sharia, and against moderate Arab leaders. No moderate leader could survive under such conditions.

It is unfortunate that the tactics of the Arab media — to accuse people of collusion in order to silence any opposition — have now moved into US mainstream media regarding Trump and Russia, which the US media would apparently like to regard as their new “enemies.” This the same media that defends sharia law and inaccurately insists that Muslim terrorists who shout “Allahu Akbar” have “nothing to do with Islam.”

Now that the note supposedly showing “collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia has been outed by Foreign Policy as mainly an attempted Russian hit-job on William Browder, what is the true threat to the United States?

For months, the lawless FBI has snubbing subpoenas (is complying with subpoenas optional?), and avoiding transparency under Special Counsel Robert Mueller[1] and his equally lawless, crime-“challenged” “investigation.” The true threat to the United states — if not Mueller and the FBI itself — is not the president, his campaign or even the Russians. Moreover, it is not exactly a news-flash that many countries have been spying on one another for ages.

“Collusion with Russia” was just the newest dirty word in American politics created by anti-Trump political operatives and the media. It seems intended to confuse the public in order to tarnish Trump’s reputation and bring down his administration. It is an extremely old ruse.

Collusion,” or the “appearance of collusion,” has been a common fear tactic used by Arab media for centuries. Fear tactics are the only solution in cultures that refuse to deal with the truth in the open.

The major red line that no citizen of a totalitarian system can ever cross is engaging in behavior that might bring about an accusation of “collusion” — collaboration with enemies or perceived enemies. Arab citizens have learned to avoid any contacts, friendships, communication, shaking hands or even being in the same room with “undesirable” enemies of the state. Try asking any Arab diplomat on how he or she acts and feels in the presence of an Israeli official. For decades, when Israeli officials gave speeches in the United Nations, Arabs left the room.

In much of the Middle East, Christians, if they refrain from praising Islam and Muslims or blame them for their oppression, get the same treatment as Jews.

In Egypt, in the days of anti-Semitic tyranny when the mere appearance of any kind of friendship, or just being in the same room with a Jew, could mean death, Christians always had to keep their distance from the Jews: the price to pay was simply too high.

After a visit to the United Kingdom in my youth, after innocently telling a journalist college friend that I had met Jews in the UK and could not believe how nice they were, her response was: “You know what happens to those who collude with Jews? They come back to Egypt in a box.” Shortly after, when a few of us teenagers, speaking English combined with some French and Arabic — not uncommon among some Cairo residents — were stopped in a village on the way from Cairo to Alexandria, the villagers called us Jews and the police were called. It took a while to get out of that mess.

Reality, finally, has hit Egypt. Its enemies’ list had to change in the face of the constant challenge to the stability of moderate governments. The true threat to stable Arab governments, as Egypt is realizing, is not Israel; it is political Islam from groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, and so on. This real threat has become a terrible burden to every Muslim head of state and is behind all the political chaos, coups and revolutions currently raging throughout the Islamic world.

After Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Arab nations developed the courage to demand shutting down Al Jazeera headquarters in Qatar. In a chaotic, propaganda-prone area of the world, Qatar’s Al Jazeera has always reported sympathetically about Islamist groups and promoters of sharia, and against moderate Arab leaders. In an atmosphere such as that, no moderate Muslim leader is able to bring his nation out from under the coercion of jihadist terror and sharia tyranny.

Every Arab leader knows that to bring modernity and serious reformation would be considered a violation of sharia. Islamists are not only feared because of their promotion of terror, but they are also considered the guardians of sharia. Islamic law dictates that every Muslim head of state must rule by sharia, wage jihad against non-Muslim nations and never allow himself or his citizens to collude with, or seek peace with, Islam’s enemies. No moderate leader could survive under such conditions.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia is to be commended for finally issuing a decree that allows half the population of his country, women, to obtain the paperwork to drive — but they usually still need permission from a male guardian to leave the home alone.

As the last thing the Muslim public is ready for is the truth, convoluted games and accusations are the only way that many Arab leaders think they can preserve their legitimacy. The war between moderates, who want less sharia, and Islamists, who want full sharia, consists — regardless of “truth” — of winning over the average Arab citizen and leading him to believe that they represent the “real Islam”.

All sides thereby play the game of “collusion”. When Islamists accuse moderate leaders of collusion with the West, moderates respond by accusing Islamists of being the creation of the West. On many Arab media outlets, ISIS is the creation of the West (as was Al-Qaeda before it).

As a moderate Arab leader, it is therefore not easy to survive without the constant threat of an Islamist uprising. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan are considered moderate leaders, and many want them to stay that way, but the pressure from Islamists is immense. Recently Sisi said that he wants to promote a new form of fear, a “phobia against bringing down the State.” One can sympathize with his attempt to put into words the obstacles to governing in a majority Muslim nation. Sisi seems to want to encourage Egyptians to develop a fear of succumbing to radical propaganda that aims to bring down moderate governments. What he seems to be telling Egyptians is that revolutions, coups d’état and assassinations are not the solution to every problem but rather, it is — or should be — the ballot box.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi seems to want to encourage Egyptians to develop a fear of succumbing to radical propaganda that aims to bring down moderate governments. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

After a year of being ruled by Egypt’s former President Mohamed Morsi, the majority of Egyptians turned against the Muslim Brotherhood — a decision that understandably does not sit well with pro-sharia media. These, such as Al Jazeera, are dedicated to trying to save the reputation of the Muslim Brotherhood, sharia and Islam itself, at any cost. Their number-one enemy has become critics of jihad and sharia, especially those who live in Western freedom. The Arab media’s “solution” to a mass defection from extremism is to accuse moderates and critics of sharia not only of being “collaborators” with infidels but also that they “collude” with terrorists.

The current goal of the Arab media, especially Al Jazeera, is to portray critics of jihad and sharia, as well as apostates, as being just as bad as Islamists, if not worse.

Because the views of the critics of sharia and jihad resonate with average Arabs, radical Arab media outlets have no choice but to counter the enthusiasm for modernity and freedom of the public with false accusations: that critics of jihad and sharia are in fact colluding with terrorist groups. The Arab media evidently see such wildly false accusations against critics of jihad as the only way, in their minds, to save radical Islam.

Today, a segment of Egyptian society, especially the vulnerable and uneducated, have been lulled into believing the propaganda that moderates and critics of jihad and sharia are colluding not only with infidel enemies of Islam, but also with radical Muslim groups such as the unpopular Muslim Brotherhood.

A prominent Egyptian magazine, Rose El Youssef, in 2007, falsely portrayed Dr. Wafa Sultan and this author in their front-page as “alt-jihadists” — collaborators with the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood. Yesterday, a close friend in Egypt sent a warning of rumors in the Egyptian media, after the assassination of a journalist by the Muslim Brotherhood, that the Muslim Brotherhood has apostate “collaborators” in the West such as me. This shameless and reckless propaganda is intended to confuse the Egyptian public about who their true enemies and friends really are.

It is unfortunate that the tactics of the Arab media — to accuse people of “collusion” in order to silence any opposition — are now moving into US mainstream media regarding Trump and Russia, which the US media regard as their new “enemies” — the same media that defends sharia law, Islam and Islamic terrorism in the West.

Nonie Darwish, born and raised in Egypt, is the author of “Wholly Different; Why I chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values”

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[1] Like the false investigation that wrongly accused Scooter Libby of a leaking the name of then CIA agent Valerie Plame, that they knew all the while had been leaked by Richard Armitage.

Palestinians: We Have the Right to Poison the Minds of our Children

March 29, 2017

by Bassam Tawil
March 29, 2017 at 5:00 am

Source: Palestinians: We Have the Right to Poison the Minds of our Children

 

  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas wish to continue teaching children that the conflict with Israel is not over a two-state solution, but the “liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” which means the annihilation of Israel. The goal is for the students to believe that Israel is one big settlement that has no place in the Middle East.
  • Along with Hamas, Abbas and his PA plan to continue inculcating Palestinian children with the idea that they should look to terrorists who kill Jews as their role models. It might be illuminating if the conversation between Trump and Abbas were to be informed by these uncomfortable facts.

In an ironic turnaround, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is now the object of intimidation and threats made by many Palestinians.

UNRWA is reportedly planning to introduce some changes to the curriculum in its schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the Palestinians are rather unhappy about it. They claim that UNRWA has “succumbed” to Israeli pressure to make the changes.

The proposed changes are based on leaks to Palestinians and have not been confirmed by UNRWA. Palestinians claim that they learned about the plans to introduce the changes during meetings with senior UNRWA officials.

According to the Palestinians, the changes are intended to “eradicate” their “national identity” and “history” and distort their “struggle” against Israel.

The Palestinians claim that the new textbooks have replaced the map of “historic Palestine” (including Israel) with pictures of a pumpkin and a bird. Palestinian textbooks often feature maps of “historic Palestine” without Israel. Cities inside Israel, such as Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias and Ramle, are referred to as “Palestinian cities.” The Palestinian Authority (PA) media also refer to these cities as “Palestinian cities inside the 1948 Land.”

In one fourth-grade textbook, the Palestinians charge, UNRWA has replaced the map of Palestine with a picture of a traditional Palestinian woman’s dress.

The new textbooks make no reference to cities in Israel; they mention only cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, such as Nablus, Jenin, Gaza City, Jericho and Ramallah.

Unsurprisingly, an UNRWA revision of the Palestinian presumption of Jerusalem as the “capital of the State of Palestine” to Jerusalem as a “Holy city for the Abrahamic religions” did not go over well with Palestinians. In addition, they are angry because the UNRWA textbooks make no mention of the Jordan Valley along the border between Israel and Jordan.

The controversial textbooks have also removed photos of Israeli soldiers patrolling near schools and references to Palestinian prisoners held in Israel for terrorism. Moreover, the new textbooks are missing the previous references to “Palestinian Prisoners’ Day” — an annual event marked by Palestinians in solidarity with imprisoned terrorists.

Palestinians are also protesting the removal of words such as “occupation” and “checkpoints” from the new textbooks.

If true, the proposed changes to the Palestinian textbooks should be welcomed as a positive development towards ending anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian schools, including those belonging to UNRWA. In light of the widespread Palestinian protests and threats, however, it is doubtful whether UNRWA will succeed in making the proposed revisions.

A girls’ school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees. (Image source: UNRWA)

A recent study into schoolbooks used by UNRWA-run schools found that the texts consistently delegitimize and demonize Israel. The schools do not teach Palestinian children to recognize Israel. The research was conducted by Dr. Arnon Gross, who translated the books, and Dr. Roni Shaked, both from the Harry Truman Research Institute at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

In these currently-used books, Zionism is defined as a colonialist movement that was founded by European Jews in order to gather Jews from all around the world and bring them to Palestine. No mention is made of the religious or historical connection of Jews to the Land of Israel or to Jerusalem. Instead, the UNRWA textbooks teach that Jewish holy sites such as the Western Wall, Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are Muslim holy sites.

Not surprisingly, vicious rivals though they are, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have joined forces to thwart UNRWA’s planned changes to the textbooks. This is an issue that these two corrupt regimes can agree on: inciting children against Israel and denying its existence.

Ahmed Bahr, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, warned that any changes to the curriculum would “harm the history and national rights of the Palestinian people, as well as their resistance” against Israel. By “resistance,” the Hamas official means terrorism against Israel, including suicide bombings and the launching of rockets at Israel.

According to the Hamas official, UNRWA and the international community need to understand that “the option of resistance is the only and shortest way for restoring Palestine and liberating our land.”

In other words, Bahr wants to go on teaching Palestinian children to continue perpetrating terror attacks, in order to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. In fact, Hamas has long been teaching precisely this in its own schools in the Gaza Strip. Yet Hamas is making it manifest that UNRWA is to follow suit in its schools. Children studying in the UN agency’s schools are to continue learning that Israel is nothing more than a figment of the imagination.

The past few days have seen Palestinians in the Gaza Strip staging a series of protests against UNRWA. They warned the agency against making the changes, which are designed to “distort the minds of Palestinian children” and which “do not comply with the culture of Palestinian society.”

Hamas has refused to allow UNRWA to teach about the Holocaust in its schools. From Hamas’s point of view, the UN agency seeks to “poison the minds of our children by taking steps that only serve” Israel. “UNRWA is trying to justify Israeli crimes against the Palestinians by teaching the so-called Holocaust in the context of human rights in UNRWA-run schools,” Hamas said. This attitude is far from surprising: Holocaust denial has always been an integral part of Palestinian and Arab narratives.

It is easy to see why Hamas and other extremist Palestinian groups would be opposed to changing textbooks that delegitimize and demonize Israel. More difficult to understand is that the Palestinian Authority, whose president, Mahmoud Abbas, says he is opposed to anti-Israel incitement, also came out against UNRWA’s planned changes.

A statement issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Education in Ramallah warned that it would take “punitive measures” against anyone who tries to change or tamper with the curriculum. “Any attempt to change the Palestinian curriculum will be considered an assault on Palestine and an eradication and dilution of our national identity,” the ministry cautioned.

The language used by the PA is strikingly similar to that used by Hamas to threaten an organization that has for decades helped millions of Palestinians to survive. In this regard, the Palestinians are once again biting the hand that has fed them. Ask Kuwait and other Gulf countries that used to give Palestinians billions of dollars before the Palestinians supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

In his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington in mid-April, Abbas is expected to renew his commitment to combating anti-Israel incitement, according to senior PA officials in Ramallah. One wonders how Abbas plans to account for the PA’s threats against UNRWA regarding the textbooks.

The PA, like Hamas, plans to continue indoctrinating their children through poisonous textbooks that depict Jews as evil occupiers and land-thieves who build “racist walls” and demolish houses for no reason. They also wish to continue teaching children that the conflict with Israel is not over a two-state solution, but the “liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” which means the annihilation of Israel. The goal is for the students to believe that Israel is one big “settlement” that has no place in the Middle East.

Moreover, along with Hamas, Abbas and his PA plan to continue inculcating Palestinian children with the idea that they should look to terrorists who kill Jews as their role models. It might be illuminating if the conversation between Trump and Abbas were to be informed by these uncomfortable facts.

Bassam Tawil is an Arab scholar based in the Middle East.

Mattis says al-Qaeda terrorists “defame Islam”

March 27, 2017

March 26, 2017 6:03 pm

By

Source: Mattis says al-Qaeda terrorists “defame Islam”

The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice.”

It seems as if all those with any power or influence anywhere in the Western world, all across the political spectrum, have agreed to back a fiction and pretend that Islam is other than what it is in its canonical text, prophet, schools of jurisprudence, and history all say it is. Does Mattis think that al-Qaeda defames Islam because it deliberately targets innocent people?

Is Mattis actually unaware that al-Qaeda doesn’t consider its targets innocent, and in 1998 published a fatwa claiming that the United States had been “occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places” and declaring that “the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it”? Mattis may think this a twisting or hijacking or defaming of the Religion of Peace, but actually it is strictly based on Islamic law. All the schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree that when a non-Muslim force enters a Muslim land, defensive jihad becomes the individual obligation of every Muslim (fard ayn) rather than a collective obligation of the entire umma, and need not be declared by anyone. Bulghah al-Salik li-Aqrab al-Masalik fi madhhab al-Imam Malik (“The Sufficiency of the Traveller on the Best Path in the School of Imam Malik,”) says this: “Jihad in the Path of Allah, to raise the word of Allah, is fard kifayah [obligatory on the community] once a year, so that if some perform it, the obligation falls from the rest. It becomes fard `ayn [obligatory on every Muslim individually], like salah and fasting, if the legitimate Muslim Imam declares it so, or if there is an attack by the enemy on an area of people.”

So in calling for the killings of Americans and saying that such killings are a duty, al-Qaeda was working from the Islamic doctrine of defensive jihad. Mattis, and Trump, and all those in power in Washington in both parties should know this: one cannot defeat an enemy one does not understand. What Mattis says here only fosters the ignorance and complacency that has enveloped us as a thick fog for the last sixteen years.

“U.S. strike kills an al-Qaida ‘leader’ in Afghanistan: Pentagon,” Reuters, March 25, 2017 (thanks to Freethinker):

A U.S. counterterrorism airstrike earlier this month in Afghanistan killed an al-Qaida leader responsible for a deadly hotel attack in Islamabad in 2008 and the 2009 attack on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team, the Pentagon said Saturday.

In confirming the death of Qari Yasin, U.S. officials said Yasin was a senior terrorist figure from Balochistan, Pakistan, had ties to the group Tehrik-e Taliban and had plotted multiple al-Qaida terror attacks. The airstrike that led to his death was conducted March 19 in Paktika Province, Afghanistan.

Yasin plotted the Sept. 20, 2008, bombing on the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad that killed dozens, officials said. The victims included two American service members, Air Force Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez of El Paso, Texas, and Navy Cryptologic Technician 3rd Class Petty Officer Matthew J. O’Bryant of Theodore, Alabama, U.S. officials said.

The bus attack in the Pakistani city of Lahore killed six Pakistani policemen and two civilians and wounded six members of the cricket team.

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said in the statement: “The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice.”…

Hamas commander assassinated in Gaza

March 25, 2017

According to a statement from Hamas’ military wing, the terror organization is holding Israel responsible for the attack which claimed the life of one of its commanders; Mazan Fukha was released by Israel in 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal.

Elior Levy|Last update:  25.03.17 , 14:00

Source: Ynetnews News – Hamas commander assassinated in Gaza

Unknown assailants gunned down Hamas operative Mazan Fukha Friday night outside his home in Tel al-Hawa, in the Gaza Strip.According to Hamas’ military wing, Fukha, who was released in a prisoner exchange deal for captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, was shot in the head  four times with a silenced weapon by unknown attackers who fled the scene.

Mazan Fukha after his release from Israeli prison

Mazan Fukha after his release from Israeli prison

Fukha, who was deported to Gaza as part of the Shalit deal, was responsible for planning terror attacks in the West Bank.

In a statement, Hamas’ military wing blamed Israel for Fukha’s death and described him as a commander in the organization.

Husam Badran, Hamas’ international spokesman, issued a statement on Twitter, saying, “The occupation is responsible for this assassination. Netanyahu knows this will not pass quietly.”

Hamas gunmen during the funeral procession (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)

Hamas gunmen during the funeral procession (Photo: Reuters)

Ismail Haniyeh following news of the assassination (Photo: AFP) (Photo: AFP)

Ismail Haniyeh following news of the assassination (Photo: AFP)

Ismail Haniyeh, Yahya Sinwar and Khalil al-Khayeh accompanied Fukha’s body at Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip and later during his funeral procession in Gaza on Saturday, attended by thousands of mourners.

Fukha, originally from Tubas, was sentenced to nine life sentences in 2003 by Israel for his role in the planning and execution of a suicide bombing on a bus near Safed, which killed nine people.

Fukha's funeral procession in Gaza on Saturday (Photo: Reuters) (Photo: Reuters)

Fukha’s funeral procession in Gaza on Saturday (Photo: Reuters)

Mourners in Tubas

Mourners in Tubas

Fukha’s father, who still lives in Tubas in the northern West Bank, also accused Israel of the assassination, saying, “Israeli intelligence officers came to our house many times and gave us messages that Mazen would be liquidated if he continued with his actions.”

Fukha was released from prison in 2011 as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal and was deported to the Gaza Strip.

After his release, Fukha returned to terrorist activities and helped found Hamas’ West Bank headquarters and manage it from Gaza under the command of Saleh al-Arouri. In addition to Fukha, the operation also included Abd al-Rahman Ghanimat, another terrorist who had been released as part of the Shalit deal.

 Together, the three men helped organize and conduct terror attacks against Israelis from the Gaza Strip.

(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)

First published: 25.03.17, 09:56

French Elections: Populist Revolution or Status Quo?

March 22, 2017

“If the Macron bubble doesn’t pop, this may portend the realignment, not just of French politics, but Western politics in general, away from the left-right division that has defined Western politics since the French Revolution, towards a division between

by Soeren Kern
March 21, 2017 at 5:00 am

Source: French Elections: Populist Revolution or Status Quo?

  • “If the Macron bubble doesn’t pop, this may portend the realignment, not just of French politics, but Western politics in general, away from the left-right division that has defined Western politics since the French Revolution, towards a division between the people and the elites.” — Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, French political analyst.
  • “This divide is no longer between the left and the right, but between patriots and globalists.” — Marine Le Pen, French presidential candidate.

The presidential election in France officially got underway on March 18, when the Constitutional Council announced that a total of eleven candidates will be facing off for the country’s top political job.

The election is being closely followed in France and elsewhere as an indicator of popular discontent with traditional parties and the European Union, as well as with multiculturalism and continued mass migration from the Muslim world.

The first round of voting will be held on April 23. If no single candidate wins an absolute majority, the top two winners in the first round will compete in a run-off on May 7.

If the election were held today, independent “progressive” candidate Emmanuel Macron, who has never held elected office, would become the next president of France, according to several opinion polls.

A BVA market research poll for Orange released on March 18 showed that Marine Le Pen, the leader of the anti-establishment National Front party, would win the first round with 26% of the votes, followed by Macron with 25%. Conservative François Fillon is third (19.5%), followed by radical Socialist Benoît Hamon (12.5%) and Leftist firebrand Jean-Luc Mélenchon (12%).

For the first time, the two established parties, the Socialist Party and the center-right Republicans, would be eliminated in the first round.

In the second round, Macron, a 39-year-old pro-EU, pro-Islam globalist (platform here), would defeat Le Pen, a 48-year-old anti-EU, anti-Islam French nationalist (platform here), by a wide margin (62% to 38%), according to the poll.

Macron, a former investment banker, was an adviser to incumbent Socialist President François Hollande, one of the most unpopular presidents in modern French history. A long-time member of the Socialist Party, Macron served in Hollande’s cabinet for two years as economy minister until August 2016, when he resigned to launch his rival presidential bid to “transform France.”

Macron, whose core base of support consists of young, urban progressives, has tried to position himself in the political center, between the Socialists and the conservatives. His meteoric rise has been propelled by a scandal involving Fillon — who is the subject of a criminal investigation over allegations that he used government money to pay his wife and children more than €1 million ($1.1 million) for jobs they never did — and because the Socialists fielded Hamon, a nonviable candidate who has promised to pay every French citizen over 18, regardless of whether or not they are employed, a government-guaranteed monthly income of €750 ($800). The annual cost to taxpayers would be €400 billion ($430 billion). By comparison, France’s 2017 defense budget is €32.7 billion ($40 billion).

Macron’s ascendancy comes amid heightened worries over security. More than 230 people have been killed in attacks in France by Islamic radicals during the past two years. The latest attack, on March 18, involved a 39-year-old French-Tunisian jihadist who proclaimed that he wanted to “die for Allah,” and was shot dead after he tried to seize a soldier’s weapon at Orly Airport in Paris.

Shortly after the attack, Le Pen accused Macron and the rest of France’s political establishment of “cowardice in the face of Islamic fundamentalism.”

In an apparent effort to bolster his national security credentials, Macron on March 18 announced a surprise proposal to restore compulsory military service. He said he would require men and women between the ages of 18 and 21 to serve one month in the armed forces.

“I want each young French person to be able to experience military life, however brief,” Macron said. “This is a major project of society, a real republican project, which should allow our democracy to be more united and the resilience of our society to be increased.” Macron, if elected, would become the first president in modern French history not to have performed military service.

Observers say that Macron’s national service proposal — which copies Le Pen’s proposal to reintroduce compulsory military service for a period of at least three months — is an attempt to siphon votes away from Le Pen and Fillon, both of whose campaign platforms call for a strong national defense.

Macron’s proposal, which will require an estimated €15 billion ($16 billion) upfront, and another €3 billion ($3.2 billion) each year to maintain, has been met with derision because of its exorbitant cost and dubious contribution to national security. Le Monde reminded its readers that France spends a similar amount (€3 billion annually) on nuclear deterrence.

Fillon’s spokesman, Luc Chantel, said the proposal was “absurd and unrealistic” and added:

“Either it is a measure designed to discourage students from quitting school, and this is not the mission of the army, or it is training for the defense of France, and one month is a joke, it is a discovery camp.”

Some of Macron’s other policy positions include:

  • European Federalism: Macron has repeatedly called for a stronger European Union. At a January 14 political rally in Lille, he said: “We are Europe, we are Brussels, we wanted it and we need it. We need Europe because Europe makes us bigger, because Europe makes us stronger.”
  • Single European Currency: In a January 10 speech at the Humboldt University in Berlin, Macron, speaking impeccable English, said: “The truth is that we must collectively recognize that the euro is incomplete and cannot last without major reforms. It has not provided Europe with full international sovereignty against the dollar on its rules. It has not provided Europe with a natural convergence between the different member states. The euro is a weak Deutsche mark, the status quo is synonymous, in 10 years’ time, with the dismantling of the euro.”
  • Migration Crisis: Macron has repeatedly praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open-door migration policy, which has allowed more than two million mostly Muslim migrants into Germany since January 2015.

    In a January 1, 2017 interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung, Macron accused critics of Merkel’s open-door migration policy of “disgraceful oversimplification.” He said: “Merkel and German society as a whole exemplified our common European values. They saved our collective dignity by accepting, accommodating and educating distressed refugees.”

    In a February 4 rally in Lyon, Macron mocked U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge to build a wall with Mexico: “I do not want to build a wall. I can assure you there is no wall in my program. Can you remember the Maginot Line?” he said, referring to a failed row of fortifications that France built in the 1930s to deter an invasion by Germany.

  • Islamic Terrorism: Macron has said he believes the solution to jihadist terrorism is more European federalism: “Terrorism wants to destroy Europe. We must quickly create a sovereign Europe that is capable of protecting us against external dangers in order to better ensure internal security. We also need to overcome national unwillingness and create a common European intelligence system that will allow the effective hunting of criminals and terrorists.”
  • Islam: Macron has said he believes that French security policy has unfairly targeted Muslims and that “secularism should not be brandished to as a weapon to fight Islam.” At an October 2016 rally in Montpellier, he rejected President Hollande’s assertion that “France has a problem with Islam.” Instead, Macron said: “No religion is a problem in France today. If the state should be neutral, which is at the heart of secularism, we have a duty to let everybody practice their religion with dignity.” He also insisted that the Islamic State is not Islamic: “What poses a problem is not Islam, but certain behaviors that are said to be religious and then imposed on persons who practice that religion.”
  • National Defense: Macron supports NATO, and has pledged to increase French defense spending to reach 2% of GDP by 2025 — a level to which all NATO members agreed in 2006. At the same time, Macron believes in the need to create an “autonomous” European defense capability, also known as a European Army, which would duplicate military capabilities which already exist within NATO.

An Ifop poll for the Journal du Dimanche published on March 18 found that French voters are divided into “two quasi-equal blocks” about Macron’s honesty and his ability to govern. According to the survey, only 46% of French people believe he will be “able to guarantee the safety of the French people.” More than half (52%) of respondents said they were “worried” about Macron, while 52% said they doubted his honesty.

In an interview with BMFTV, Laurence Haïm, a Canal+ reporter who was accredited to the White House and who recently joined Macron’s team, described Macron as the “French Obama.” She added: “I think that in today’s world we need renewal, from someone young, who is not a politician. He wants to make the democratic revolution.”

So what is driving Macron’s political ascendancy? French analyst Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry explains:

“The best way to look at Macron is as a kind of anti-Le Pen, or, to stretch the bounds of logic even further, a ‘populist from the top.’ If Le Pen is anti-establishment, Macron is the incarnation of the French establishment, a graduate of ENA, the top civil service school that trains the country’s elites, and a member of the Inspection des Finances, the most elite civil service track. His only experience in the private sector is through the revolving door as an investment banker. And yet, Macron sounds off populist rhetoric: His candidacy, he says, is about sweeping out a corrupt system (even as he is supported by the vast majority of the French establishment).

“It would be only slightly churlish to say that the parts of the system Macron wants to do away with are the democratic ones; witness his full-throated support for the EU in a country that has rejected it at the polls. Macron supports various liberalizing reforms, and Angela Merkel’s welcoming policy towards migrants. He is, of course, a social liberal. In a country that takes culture very seriously, he has argued that there is ‘no such thing’ as French culture; rather, there are many cultures with which the French perform a kind of synthesis. His biggest donors seem to be French tax exiles residing in London and Brussels.

“In other words, he is the mirror image of the political realignment that is transforming Western politics. If the familiar motley crew of populists — Trump, Le Pen — are the candidates for those who lost out from globalization, then Macron is the candidate of the winners. In both cases, they seem to make old left-right divisions obsolete. If the Macron bubble doesn’t pop, this may portend the realignment, not just of French politics, but Western politics in general, away from the left-right division that has defined Western politics since the French Revolution, towards a division between the people and the elites.

Le Pen agrees. At a rally in Lyon on February 5, she said:

“The old left-right debates have outlived their usefulness. Primaries have shown that debates about secularism or immigration, as well as globalization or generalized deregulation, constitute a fundamental and transversal divide. This divide is no longer between the left and the right, but between patriots and globalists.

“The collapse of traditional parties and the systematic disappearance of almost all of their leaders shows that a great political re-composition has begun.”

At that same rally, Le Pen launched a two-pronged attack on globalization and radical Islam. She also promised French voters a referendum on remaining in the European Union in order “to allow us to recover our four sovereignties: monetary, economic, legislative and territorial.”

She went on to articulate exactly what is at stake for France in this election:

In all respects, this presidential election is unlike previous ones. Its outcome will determine the future of France as a free nation and our existence as a people.

After decades of errors and cowardice, we are at a crossroads. I say it with gravity: the choice we will have to make in this election is a choice of civilization.

The question is simple and cruel: will our children live in a free, independent, democratic country? Will they still be able to refer to our system of values? Will they have the same way of life as we did and our parents before us?

Will our children, and the children of our children, still have a job, a decent wage, the possibility of building up a patrimony, becoming an owner, starting a family in a safe environment, being properly cared for, to grow old with dignity?

Will our children have the same rights as us?

Will they live according to our cultural references, our values ​​of civilization, our style of living, and will they even speak our French language, which is disintegrating under the blows of political leaders who squander this national treasure — for example, by choosing a slogan in English to promote the candidacy of Paris to host the 2024 Olympic Games?

Will they have the right to claim French culture when certain candidates for the presidential election, puffed up by their own empty-headedness, explain that it does not exist?

I ask this important question because, unlike our adversaries, I am interested not only in the material heritage of the French, but I also want to defend our immaterial capital. This immaterial capital is priceless because this heritage is irreplaceable. In fact, I am defending the load-bearing walls of our society.

The choice for French voters is clear: Le Pen is the anti-establishment change candidate and Macron is the pro-establishment status quo candidate.

In the current French presidential election campaign, Marin Le Pen (right) is the anti-establishment change candidate and Emmanuel Macron (left) is the pro-establishment status quo candidate. (Image source: LCI video screenshot)

Le Pen is offering voters an historic opportunity to reassess relations with the European Union, reassert national sovereignty and stanch the flow of mass migration from the Muslim world. By contrast, Macron is offering voters increased European federalism, the transference of yet more national sovereignty to the European Union, and the further multiculturalization of French society.

If polls are any indication, French voters appear to be more comfortable with the status quo. The populist revolution that began in June 2016 when British voters decided to leave the European Union, and cross the Atlantic in November when Americans elected U.S. President Donald J. Trump, will not be spreading to France in 2017.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

 

Erdogan: European Headscarf Ban ‘Started a Clash Between the Cross and the Crescent’

March 17, 2017

Erdogan said on Thursday that the EU’s ban on headscarves in the workplace would launch “a struggle between the cross and the crescent.”

by John Hayward

17 Mar 2017

Source: Erdogan: European Headscarf Ban ‘Started a Clash Between the Cross and the Crescent’

MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

In addition to his customary invective against European governments for refusing to allow his ministers to rally Turkish expatriates behind him, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the EU’s new ban on headscarves in the workplace would launch “a struggle between the cross and the crescent.”

“Where is the liberty of religion? They have commenced a struggle between the cross and crescent. There is no other explanation than this. I am saying this clearly: Europe is heading toward the days just before World War II,” said Erdogan, as rendered by Hurriyet Daily News.

Euractiv transcribes Erdogan’s quote as, “The European Union’s court, the European Court of Justice, my esteemed brothers, have started a crusade struggle against the crescent,” which would be even more incendiary. Jihad and Islamist groups perpetually accuse Western powers of conducting another “crusade” against Muslims.

“Shame on the EU. Down with your European principles, values, and justice,” Erdogan told his supporters.

In a tirade on Wednesday, Erdogan said the “spirit of fascism is roaming the streets of Europe,” comparing the treatment of Muslims to how the Nazis treated Jews.

“The fear of the Turks is beginning to appear. The fear of Islam is beginning to appear. They are even afraid of the migrants looking for asylum. They fear everything which originates elsewhere; they are hostile to everything that is not from there,” he thundered.

Also speaking on Thursday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu predicted that “holy wars” would soon begin in Europe.

As translated by Hurriyet Daily News, Cavusoglu said:

Now the election is over in the Netherlands. … When you look at the many parties you see there is no difference between the social democrats and fascist [Geert] Wilders. All have the same mentality. Where will you go? Where are you taking Europe? You have begun to collapse Europe. You are dragging Europe into the abyss. Holy wars will soon begin in Europe.

“They killed each other 100 years ago because they were of different faiths, but they learned a lesson from this and set up the European Union and the Council of Europe,” Cavusoglu continued, prompting a bit of head-scratching from Hurriyet about exactly what he was driving at.

Like Cavusoglu, Erdogan took some time on Thursday to thumb his nose at the Netherlands, taunting re-elected Prime Minister Mark Rutte: “O Rutte! You may have been first in the elections, but you have lost a friend like Turkey.”

He went on to needle Rutte about refusing to have dinner with him because “there is no such prime minister here – give it up, you have lost.” Presumably, this was Erdogan’s way of treating Rutte as beneath his notice.

Erdogan wrapped up his remarks by threatening to scuttle Turkey’s migrant readmission agreement with the European Union.

“They have promised to remove visas. Now they are talking about a readmission plan. What readmission? Get over it! You did not let my minister enter the Netherlands, you did not give permission to my foreign minister to fly to the country and did not let the minister get into the consulate building, which is my territory. Then you are expecting readmission? There is no such thing,” Erdogan said.

The Real Hamas: Sorry, Folks!

March 16, 2017

What Hamas says, day and night, in Arabic, tells the real story. In fact, Hamas officials are very clear and straightforward when they address their people in Arabic. Yet some Western and Israeli analysts do not want to be bothered by the facts. Some

by Bassam Tawil

March 15, 2017 at 5:00 am

Source: The Real Hamas: Sorry, Folks!

  • What Hamas says, day and night, in Arabic, tells the real story. In fact, Hamas officials are very clear and straightforward when they address their people in Arabic. Yet some Western and Israeli analysts do not want to be bothered by the facts.
  • Some reports have suggested that Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh are the ones pushing for the changes in the movement’s charter. However, even if Mashaal and Haniyeh succeed in their mission, there is no guarantee that Hamas’s military wing would comply.
  • Hamas has also denied its intention to cut off its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. “The reports are aimed at tarnishing the image of Hamas in the eyes of the world,” explained a top Hamas official. He also denied that Hamas was planning to abandon the armed struggle against Israel in favor of a peaceful popular “resistance.”

What does Hamas mean when it says that it “accepts” an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem without recognizing Israel’s right to exist?

Is this a sign of moderation and pragmatism on the part of the extremist Islamic terror movement? Or is it just another ploy intended to deceive everyone, especially gullible Westerners, into believing that Hamas has abandoned its strategy of destroying Israel in favor of a two-state solution?

Recent reports have suggested that Hamas is moving towards “declaring a Palestinian state over the 1967 borders.”

According to the reports, Hamas is also contemplating changing its charter so that it would no longer include anti-Semitic references. The charter, which was drafted in August 1988, contains anti-Semitic passages and characterizations of Israeli society as Nazi-like in its cruelty. The same reports also claimed that Hamas’s revised charter will also state that the terror movement is not part of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Some analysts in Israel and the West have interpreted these reports as a sign that Hamas is finally endorsing a policy of pragmatism toward Israel and Jews. They are particularly excited about Hamas’s purported intention to declare (in its revised charter) that its conflict is “only with Zionism and the occupation, and not with Jews around the world.”

Judging from the analyses published by some commentators and Palestinian affairs “experts” in the past few days, one might conclude that Hamas is on its way to making a dramatic change in its vicious ideology. Unfortunately, however, the facts suggest otherwise.

Changes or no changes, the movement has no intention whatsoever of abandoning its jihad to destroy Israel and kill Jews.

The purported shift in Hamas’s policy is illusory. What Hamas says, day and night, in Arabic, tells the real story. In fact, Hamas officials are very clear and straightforward when they address their people in Arabic. Yet some Western and Israeli analysts do not want to be bothered by the facts.

When Hamas talks about “accepting” a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 lines without recognizing Israel’s right to exist, it is actually saying, “Give us a state so that we can use it as a launching pad to destroy Israel.”

Indeed, senior Hamas official Ismail Radwan leaves no room for ambiguity when he explains this point. Hamas, he says, does not oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 “borders,” but this does not mean that “we will recognize the Zionist occupation and that the entire Palestinian land belongs to Palestinian and Islamic generations.” He also repeated Hamas’s opposition to any form of negotiations with Israel.

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar was also quick to refute claims that his movement was headed toward accepting the two-state solution. Calling for stepping up the “intifada” against Israel, Zahar said that Hamas’s goal was to “liberate all of Palestine.”

Hamas has also denied its intention to cut off its ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. “The reports are aimed at tarnishing the image of Hamas in the eyes of the world,” explained a top Hamas official. He also denied that Hamas was planning to abandon the armed struggle against Israel in favor of a peaceful popular “resistance.”

Some reports have suggested that Hamas leaders Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh are the ones pushing for the changes in the movement’s charter. However, even if Mashaal and Haniyeh succeed in their mission, there is no guarantee that Hamas’s military wing would comply.

Hamas’s recent internal and secret election saw the rise of Yahya Sinwar as the top leader of the movement in the Gaza Strip. His election is seen as an indication of the growing influence of Hamas’s military wing. Sinwar, a convicted murderer, was released from Israeli prison a few years ago. The rise of Sinwar to power is also a sign that Hamas is headed toward more extremism and terrorism and preparing for the next war with Israel.

The Hamas military wing has a rather spotty history of following the directives of the movement’s political leaders. For example, recurring attempts by Mashaal and Haniyeh to end the dispute with Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) have been repeatedly thwarted by the Hamas military wing and other leaders of the movement, first and foremost Zahar.

Let’s remember, for a moment, the annual rallies held by Hamas’s military wing in the Gaza Strip. At these rallies, masked Hamas terrorists remind the world that their true goal is to “liberate all of Palestine.”

Armed Hamas militiamen on parade with a vehicle-mounted rocket launcher in Gaza, in August 2016. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)

At one such rally, Zahar announced that Hamas already has an army whose mission is to “liberate all of Palestine.” He continued: “By God’s will, this army will reach Jerusalem.”

Hamas continues to remain committed to all forms of terrorism against Israelis. There are no signs whatsoever that the movement is on its way to endorsing a peaceful and popular resistance against Israel. Quite the opposite is true: Hamas never misses an opportunity to clarify that it continues to encourage terrorism against Israel. The latest assertion from Hamas came this week when one of its spokesmen, Abdel Latif Al-Kanou, issued a statement praising a stabbing attack against two Israeli policemen in Jerusalem. Hailing the attack as a “heroic operation,” the spokesman stressed that the “intifada” against Israel would continue.

This is not the first time that Hamas has talked about “accepting” a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines.

In the past, some Hamas officials were quoted as saying that they do not rule out the possibility that their movement would one day accept such an idea. But these statements always came in the context of Hamas’s effort to rid itself of its growing isolation in the Gaza Strip.

The latest reports concerning floated changes in Hamas’s charter, too, ought to be seen in the context of the movement’s ongoing effort to end its isolation. But it is nothing but a smokescreen to mislead the international community into believing that it is on its way to toning down its murderous intentions.

So, what is prompting this disingenuous “change of heart”?

Reports that the Trump Administration is considering the possibility of designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group. In all likelihood, Hamas is simply seeking to appear as if it is moving toward moderation. In other words, Hamas is prepared to lie — at least in English — about its independence from the Muslim Brotherhood.

Disturbingly, some Westerners are already marketing Hamas’s deception tactics as a “major shift” in the movement’s ideology and plans. Facts, however, are that Hamas remains a terrorist organization that has not and will not abandon its plans to eliminate Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. Here is a dose of deadly reality: Hamas seeks to extend its control to the West Bank as part of its plan to destroy Israel. It wants Israel to give the Palestinians more land so that it would be used as a launching pad to drive the Jews into the sea. This is Hamas, like it or not.

Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.