Posted tagged ‘Middle East’

Before and After Sharia Law: A cautionary tale

April 23, 2017

Before and After Sharia Law: A cautionary tale, Rebel Media via YouTube, April 23, 2017

(Please see also, San Diego School District Pushes CAIR-Assisted ‘Anti-Islamophobia’ Plan and Sharia-Advocate Sarsour to Give Graduation Address at CUNY. Worried yet? — DM)

 

Islamist Attacks on Holidays

April 20, 2017

Islamist Attacks on Holidays, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Noah Beck, April 20, 2017

Nearly 50 people were murdered on Palm Sunday when Islamic State terrorists bombed two Coptic churches in an Easter celebration-nightmare. The next day, on the eve of the Jewish holiday of Passover, the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate launched rockets at Israel.

Just before Christmas, a terrorist claimed by the Islamic State rammed a truck into Berlin’s crowded Christmas market, killing 12 people. And in Australia, a group of self-radicalized Islamists planned to attack St Paul’s Cathedral. In 2011, Nigerian Islamists murdered nearly 40 Catholic worshipers in a Christmas Day attack.

Terrorists attack where and when they can. But they seem keenly aware that turning holidays into horror can carry greater shock and terror. In 2002, 30 Israeli civilians were massacred and 140 injured by a Hamas suicide bomber who blew himself up as they sat for the seder, the traditional Passover meal, at the Park Hotel in Netanya.

It isn’t just terrorists who see advantages in striking during holidays. The 1973 Yom Kippur War may be the most famous example, when the armies of two Muslim-majority states, Egypt and Syria, attacked Israel on the most sacred day of the Jewish calendar. That war produced an estimated 20,000 deaths.

Christians and Jews aren’t the only religious groups that have been targeted by Islamists during non-Muslim holy days. The Hindu festival of Diwali has also been attacked. In 2005, a series of bombs killed over 60 people and injured hundreds in Delhi; a Pakistan-based Islamist terrorist group, the Islamic Revolutionary Front, claimed responsibility. Last October, Indian police arrested an Islamist cell inspired by the Islamic State for planning an attack during Diwali.

Muslims are also victimized by Islamist attacks in increasing volume. A 2015 mosque bombing in Yemen killed 29 people during prayers for the Muslim holiday of Eid. Last July, also during Eid, three people were killed at a Bangladesh checkpoint when gunmen carrying bombs tried to attack the country’s largest Eid gathering, which attracted an estimated 300,000 worshippers.

Last May, as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approached, a spokesman for the Islamic State urged jihadists to “make it, with God’s permission, a month of pain for infidels everywhere.” Days later, as Ramadan celebrations stretched past midnight in central Baghdad, a minivan packed with explosives blew up and killed at least 143 people.

Terrorists also target secular holidays. Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, a Tunisian resident of France, killed 85 people and injured hundreds more in a truck-ramming terrorist attack as people gathered for a Bastille Day celebration. In New York last fall, dump trumps were deployed to protect the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, after the Islamic State called it an “excellent target.”

Holidays are often chosen because they are “optimal attack days,” in terms of gathering large crowds into soft targets like houses of worship, religious markets, ceremonial gatherings, and parades. Last November, U.S. officials warned that the coming holiday season could mean “opportunities for violent extremists” to attack.

A terrorist attack on a holiday is also more likely to attract media attention. And because holidays draw tourists, well-timed attacks can amplify the economic damage that would be wrought by terror even on a non-holiday. After a spate of attacks toward the end of 2015, “about 10% of American travelers have canceled a trip … eliminating a potential $8.2 billion in travel spending,” reported MarketWatch.

But ISIS, al-Qaida and other Islamist terrorist groups believe they are waging a holy war above all else. Attacking infidels, be they Christians, Jews or Muslims of other sects, motivates jihadis more than anything else. “Those who targeted churches on holiday celebrations tend to be professional terrorist groups,” Raymond Ibrahim, author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians, told the IPT. By contrast, “mob attacks happen either on a Friday, after an especially potent sermon, or whenever infidels need to be put in their place (e.g., a Christian accused of blasphemy, then the church in his village gets torched).”

In 2015, Islamic State warnings of future attacks against Christians noted that Christians were their “favorite prey” and no longer protected as “dhimmis,” a reference to non-Muslims in Islam who may, in exchange for paying the jizya tax, receive some state protection.

Thus, within the larger context of a holy war, attacks on non-Muslim holy days can be viewed as part of the more general Islamist strategy of humiliation, forced submission to Islam, and the denial of any competing religion. Attacking on Diwali or Christmas or Yom Kippur is essentially declaring that such “infidel” holy days ought to be desecrated rather than respected. The symbolic message is akin to the one communicated by the two Islamists who entered a French cathedral and beheaded an octogenarian priest, Jacques Hamel, during mass services last July.

Attacking places of worship on holy days – when they are most used by and relevant to their congregations – is also a good way to undermine these religious institutions and their supporters. If Islamist terror makes churches the most vulnerable on the days when they are most crowded, how will those houses of worship attract enough followers to sustain themselves? And how will their congregants practice their faith? The Coptic Pope curbed some Easter celebrations in Egypt after the recent Palm Sunday blasts.

Such questions may help to explain why Christians, who have lived in the Middle East – the birthplace of Christianity – for millennia now constitute only about 3 percent of the region’s population, down from 20 percent a century ago.

Indeed, the only non-Muslim country in the entire Middle East is also the safest place for non-Muslims in the region, including Christians, Druze, and Bahai. “Christians and other minorities in Israel prosper and grow,” says Shadi Khalloul, founder of the Israeli Aramaic Movement. “[W]hile in other countries in the Middle East, as well as in the Palestinian Authority, they suffer heavily from the Islamic movement and persecution – until forced to disappear.”

Mission accomplished in Syria

April 12, 2017

Mission accomplished in Syria, Israel Hayom, Clifford D. May. April 12, 2017

(Accomplished or just begun? — DM)

Congress should send Trump the legislation it is now considering, seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran in reprisal for its continuing support of terrorists, its missile tests and its maintenance of more than 35,000 troops in Syria, including its own, those of its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, and Shiite fighters recruited from Iraq and Afghanistan. Suspending Iran’s deal with Boeing/Airbus would be useful, too. Only the willfully credulous believe that Iran’s theocrats won’t use such aircraft for illicit military purposes.

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If you’re still unsure about whether U.S. President Donald Trump did the right thing when he launched 59 cruise missiles at Syria’s Shayrat Air Base last week, consider the alternative.

He knew that Syrian dictator Bashar Assad had yet again used chemical weapons to murder Syrian civilians, women and children prominent among them. He knew that Iran and Russia had enabled this atrocity, as they have many others. He knew he had two choices.

He could shrug, instruct his U.N. ambassador to deliver a tearful speech calling on the “international community” to do something, and then go play a round of golf. Or he could demonstrate that the United States still has the power and the grit to stand up to tyrants and terrorists, thereby beginning to re-establish America’s deterrent capability.

In other words, this was what Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz would call a no-brainer. (Well, loosely translated.) A mission was accomplished. Do harder missions lie ahead? Yes, of course. But I suspect Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster have made that abundantly clear to the new president.

We now know for certain that Russia failed to live up to its 2013 commitment to ensure that Assad surrendered all his illegal chemical weapons under the deal it brokered. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acerbically questioned whether that was the result of complicity or incompetence or whether Russia allowed itself to be duped by Assad.

The strike ordered by President Trump was not “unbelievably small” — then-Secretary of State John Kerry’s description of the punishment then-President Barack Obama decided not to impose in response to Assad’s earlier use of chemical weapons. It was big enough to make clear that American diplomats are again carrying big sticks. (For Obama to insist that diplomacy and force are alternatives was patently absurd.)

Conveniently, Trump was dining with Chinese President Xi Jinping when the strikes occurred. It’s fair to speculate that Xi is today thinking harder about American requests to rein in Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator whose drive to acquire nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the American mainland has become what Tillerson called an “imminent” threat.

Having passed his first major national security test, Trump is now obliged to demonstrate firmness and consistency. What plans might the Pentagon have on the shelf to respond to further provocations? The next round of Tomahawk missiles could permanently ground Assad’s air force. That would make it easier to then establish no-fly zones. If such measures do not alter the calculations of Assad and his Iranian and Russian patrons, consideration could be given to leveling his defense, intelligence and command-and-control centers as well.

Another idea under discussion: setting up safe havens, or, to use a better term, “self-protection zones,” for those fleeing the Syrian regime and various jihadist forces, Sunni and Shiite alike. Israel and Jordan could help the inhabitants of such areas adjacent to their borders defend themselves. The Saudis, Emiratis and Bahrainis could contribute to the cost. Might this lead to the partition of Syria? Most likely, but it’s difficult to imagine a “political solution” that would not include such readjustments.

All this, while useful and perhaps even necessary, should be seen as insufficient. Syria is a major humanitarian catastrophe but only one piece in a much larger geopolitical puzzle. Sooner rather than later, the Trump administration needs to develop what Obama refused to contemplate: a comprehensive and coherent strategy to counter the belligerent, imperialist and supremacist forces that have emerged from the Middle East and are now spreading like weeds around the world.

The Islamic State group will of course need to be driven off the lands on which it has attempted to establish a caliphate. After that, its terrorists will have to be hunted, along with those of al-Qaida, wherever they hide (e.g., Egypt where, over the weekend, they bombed two Coptic Christian churches).

But — and this is crucial — accomplishing these missions must not serve to further empower Iran’s jihadist rulers, who dream of establishing an expanding imamate, the Shiite version of a caliphate.

Most immediately, Congress should send Trump the legislation it is now considering, seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran in reprisal for its continuing support of terrorists, its missile tests and its maintenance of more than 35,000 troops in Syria, including its own, those of its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, and Shiite fighters recruited from Iraq and Afghanistan. Suspending Iran’s deal with Boeing/Airbus would be useful, too. Only the willfully credulous believe that Iran’s theocrats won’t use such aircraft for illicit military purposes.

That the United States cannot solve all the world’s problems was one of Trump’s campaign themes. But the implication is not necessarily, as some of his supporters hoped, that he would turn a blind eye to all atrocities and threats not already within America’s borders.

In the last century, most Americans recognized, in some cases with enormous reluctance, that there was no good alternative to doing whatever was necessary to rout the Nazis and communists, enemies whose goal was to kill off the democratic experiment.

In this century, jihadists and Islamists harbor the same ambition. We can attempt to appease them. We can try to make ourselves inoffensive to them. We can keep our hand extended, hoping that in time they will unclench their fists. Or we can decide instead to plan for a long war that will end with the defeat of these latest enemies of America and the rest of the civilized world. If Trump has grasped that within his first 100 days, he’s not off to such a bad start.

President Trump and King Abdullah II Hold a Joint Press Conference

April 5, 2017

President Trump and King Abdullah II Hold a Joint Press Conference, White House via YouTube, April 5, 2017

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.

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

De Facto Settlement Freeze Only Result of US-Israel Four Day Discussion

March 25, 2017

De Facto Settlement Freeze Only Result of US-Israel Four Day Discussion

Source: De Facto Settlement Freeze Only Result of US-Israel Four Day DiscussionThe Jewish Press | David Israel | 27 Adar 5777 – March 24, 2017 | JewishPress.com

Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with Jason Greenblatt, March 13, 2017.

After four days of talks between the US and Israel on the future of the Judea and Samaria settlement enterprise, the two sides issued a joint statement saying the issues remain “exceptionally complicated” and that the talks have been serious and beneficial. In other words, if they had something new to announce they would have announced it.

The joint statement said that “A principal focus of the discussions was specific measures that could have a meaningful impact on the economic environment in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing the Palestinians to more fully realize their economic potential. The two delegations also discussed Israeli settlement construction.”

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President Trump’s negotiator Jason Greenblatt and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff Yoav Horowitz led the talks, which came only a few days following Greenblatt’s visit to Israel and the PA. One thing the two sides have said they agreed on was that, for now, the Netanyahu government will be minding the Trump Administration’s concerns on settlements construction and expansion. Which probably means an unofficial settlement freeze for the foreseeable future – even though everybody connected to the talks is denying it.

In fact, a senior Trump administration official told the Wall Street Journal that “the notion that Israelis have rebuffed proposals…none of it is correct. […] Nobody is asking for a freeze here—the president has made clear he has some concerns in the context of how we can advance…toward a genuine and lasting peace for the Israelis and Palestinians.”

So, it’s a freeze.