Posted tagged ‘Trump and Islamists’

Trump’s Unsung Success in the Middle East

November 15, 2017

Trump’s Unsung Success in the Middle East, PJ MediaDavid P. Goldman, November 14, 2017

Israel Trump

But overall, Trump’s Middle East policy has been a success, in striking contrast to his predecessors. The supposed Middle East mavens among the preening NeverTrumpers (Max Boot, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Bill Kristol et. al) made a mess of things, and Trump has gone a long way to cleaning it up. That’s not bad for one year in office.

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President Trump’s Middle East policy is simple: Back our friends and scare the hell out of our enemies, and negotiate where possible with our competitors like Russia and China. By and large it’s working, unlike the catastrophically failed polices of the previous two administrations. Trump did what he said he would do and succeeded. You wouldn’t know that from the #fakenews media.

Start with Israel: The Muslim strategy to destroy Israel hasn’t envisioned war–not at least since 1973–because Israel in all cases would win. Instead, the objective is to ring Israel with missiles and force Israel to retaliate against missile attacks in such a way that the “international community” would respond by imposing a “settlement” on Israel that would leave Israel vulnerable to further missiles attacks, and so forth. This is stated explicitly by Palestinian strategists cited by Haviv Rettig Gur in The Times of Israel.

George W. Bush and Obama gave aid and comfort to the encircle-and-strangle strategy by tying Israel’s hands. Then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wouldn’t let Olmert attack Hezbollah with full force in 2006. Rice thinks the Palestinian movement is a branch of the U.S. civil rights movement (if you don’t believe that characterization, read her book “Democracy,” which I will review for Claremont Review of Books).

Obama sandbagged Israel during the 2014 Gaza rocket attacks, suspending delivery of Hellfire missiles to the Jewish State. Israel is the only country in the world that embeds human rights lawyers in every infantry company to make sure that its soldiers keep collateral damage to a minimum.

Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese militia, has 150,000 rockets aimed at Israel, and many of them can hit any target in the country. In the case of a major rocket attack from Hezbollah against Israel, military logic dictates the preemptive neutralization of rocket launchers embedded in civilian populations–what an Israeli strategist close to the PM described to me as “Dresden.” There would be tens of thousands of civilian casualties. Trump will not tie Israel’s hands in the case of attack, and will not interfere with Israel’s ability to defend herself. That makes Israel’s deterrent against Iran credible.

Hillary Clinton insisted that the “technology of war,” in particular the rockets ringing Israel, would force Israel to accept a phony peace agreement whose main effect would be to bring the rocket launchers closer to Israel. The photograph below shows the runways and main terminal building of Israel’s international airport from an Arab village in Judea: Hand this over to the Palestinians and primitive short-range missiles can shut down the Israel economy. There’s an easy way to stop the rockets, which is to kill the people who shoot them. That might mean killing the human shields whom the cowardly terrorists put in front of the rockets, but under international law, a country acting in self-defense has every right to kill civilians.

For that reason alone, anyone who claims to be a friend of Israel must support Trump against the alternative. One can criticize Trump all day with justification, but the existential issue of Israel’s survival requires Jews to support him. Jewish never-Trumpers are infected with what our rabbis of antiquity called “baseless hatred.”

The second big issue is Saudi Arabia, which competed with Iran for decades as the biggest funder of terrorists and religious extremists. After Trump’s March 2017 trip to Saudi Arabia, where he read the riot act to assembled Arab leaders, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince has centralized control of the government and seized hundreds of billions of dollars of royal family assets. The $800 billion of royal family wealth targeted is larger than the national reserves of the kingdom. As I wrote in Asia Times last week, Saudi Arabia has gotten its first real government, as opposed to the family regime that allowed every crazy cousin to write checks to terrorists. Of course, the kingdom well might get its second, third and fourth real government in short order if Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman fails. But the de facto coup is a huge blow to Sunni jihadism and a victory for American policy.

Prince Mohammed and his father King Salman had visited Moscow in late September, and the Russian and Chinese press express guarded optimism about the regime change (see the cited Asia Times article). Russia and China have a great deal to fear from Sunni jihadists (virtually all their Muslim citizens are Sunni) and a Saudi ruler willing to close the tap is good for them. As I wrote, its win-win-win-win for the U.S., Russia, China and Israel.

That ought to scare the Persians plenty. The Saudis get very bad press for chopping up the Houthi-led tribes in Yemen, Iran’s allies. They are making a horrible example of the Houthi for the edification of Iran. That is disgusting, to be sure, but that’s the way things are done in that part of the world. The Assad government in Syria did much worse, deliberately bombing civilians to drive out the Sunni majority in order to replace it with Shi’ite colonists.

The Saudis don’t have much of an army, and their air force depends on Pakistani mercenaries, but they do have nearly 300 fourth-generation aircraft (F-15’s, Eurofighters, and Tornadoes) as well as a huge stock of Chinese-made medium range missiles. They can hire Pakistanis or Egyptians to fly them if necessary. Iran has tough soldiers but no air force to speak of. If it comes to war (which it shouldn’t) between Iran and Saudi Arabia, Iran will suffer badly. A dozen power plants provide more than half the country’s electricity, for example, and could not be defended in case of war.

There isn’t much to do about Iran now that its economic ties point eastwards to China, except to terrify the Tehran mullahs. That’s old-fashioned balance of terror–not my favorite way of doing things, but a policy that worked reasonably well during the Cold War. It’s easy to talk about tearing up the Iran nuclear agreement–but now there are two rail lines linking Iran to China, and the West’s influence in the region has vastly diminished. Unfortunately, grand gestures may not bring grand results, and the U.S. has to play tought and sometimes dirty.

Ultimately any regional issue depends on the strategic position of the United States with respect to China and Russia. We continue to lose ground, and Trump hasn’t yet offered an initiative to reverse it (I would begin by a crash program for missile defense, including space-based systems).

There are any number of things to criticize in the administration’s handling of the Middle East. I would have preferred a tougher approach to Iran’s presence in Syria in our negotiations with Russia over a cease-fire, and a more supportive stance towards the Iraqi Kurds’ aspirations for independence (although as Daniel Pipes observes, the fact that the independence referendum backfired was the Kurds’ own fault). And I would like the president to keep his campaign promise to move our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

But overall, Trump’s Middle East policy has been a success, in striking contrast to his predecessors. The supposed Middle East mavens among the preening NeverTrumpers (Max Boot, Reuel Marc Gerecht, Bill Kristol et. al) made a mess of things, and Trump has gone a long way to cleaning it up. That’s not bad for one year in office.

Trump’s Rosh Hashanah Wishes – and Obama’s

September 20, 2017

Trump’s Rosh Hashanah Wishes – and Obama’s, American ThinkerKarin McQuillan, September 20, 2017

Jews across America welcome Rosh Hashanah this week, the Jewish New Year, and receive greetings from our President.  You might assume the annual Presidential greetings are meaningless boilerplate, but they are actually quite revealing of the Presidents’ feelings towards Jews and Israel – and towards the Muslim threat to America.

Here is President Trump, whom the Democrat media would have us believe is a new Hitler:

I am proud to stand with the Jewish people and with our cherished friend and ally, the State of Israel. The Jewish State is a symbol of resilience in the face of oppression — it has persevered in the face of hostility, championed democracy in the face of violence, and succeeded in the face of very, very tall odds. The United States will always support Israel not only because of the vital security partnership between our two nations, but because of the shared values between our two peoples. And I can tell you on a personal basis, and I just left Israel recently, I love Israel.

That is why my administration has successfully pressured the United Nations to withdraw the unfair and biased report against Israel — that was a horrible thing that they did — and to instead focus on real threats to our security, such as Iran, Hezbollah, and ISIS.

Read the whole speech here.

Our former President, Barack Hussein Obama, struck a very different note in his first Rosh Hashanah greetings.  Using his familiar tone of condescending preachiness, Obama told the Jews of America to repent and remember those in need, and promoted the Palestinian cause.  (Remembering, I am overwhelmed with New Year’s gratitude for President Trump.) This was President Obama’s message:

At a time when prejudice and oppression still exist in the shadows of our society, it is up to us to stand as a beacon of freedom and tolerance and embrace the diversity that has always made us stronger as a people…today we had an opportunity to move forward, toward the goal we share — two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

Astonishing for a political holiday greeting, Obama had not one word of praise for Judaism or American Jews.  In fact, he said the word “Jews” only once.

In contrast, Obama’s Ramadan message to American Muslims was a weird outpouring of praise:

Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings. … Islam has always been part of America and that American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country.

Obama false list of Muslim virtues is actually a list of what Islam is not.  Yet these precise virtues are strikingly true of American Jews, for whom Obama had not one good thing to say – nothing.

President Trump’s Ramadan message in May, as the Washington Post noted with dismay, focused on our fight against Islamic terrorism:

This year, the holiday begins as the world mourns the innocent victims of barbaric terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom and Egypt, acts of depravity that are directly contrary to the spirit of Ramadan.  Such acts only steel our resolve to defeat the terrorists and their perverted ideology.

On my recent visit to Saudi Arabia, I had the honor of meeting with the leaders of more than 50 Muslim nations.  There, in the land of the two holiest sites in the Muslim world, we gathered to deliver together an emphatic message of partnership for the sake of peace, security, and prosperity for our countries and for the world.

I reiterate my message delivered in Riyadh:  America will always stand with our partners against terrorism and the ideology that fuels it.  During this month of Ramadan, let us be resolved to spare no measure so that we may ensure that future generations will be free of this scourge and able to worship and commune in peace.

President Trump’s Rosh Hashanah greeting this week was full of warmth and praise.  Where Obama mentioned Jews only once in his message, President Trump spoke affectionately of them ten times:

I am grateful for the history, culture, and values the Jewish people have given to civilization. We forcefully condemn those who seek to incite anti-Semitism, or to spread any form of slander and hate — and I will ensure we protect Jewish communities, and all communities, that face threats to their safety.

I want to thank each of you for the ways in which you contribute to our nation. America is stronger because of the many Jewish Americans who bring such life, hope, and resilience to our nation.

Happy New Year.

 

 

Trump Should Block Obama Move to Send Stolen Jewish Religious Artifacts to Iraq

September 10, 2017

Trump Should Block Obama Move to Send Stolen Jewish Religious Artifacts to Iraq, The Point (Front Page Magazine), Daniel Greenfield, September 10, 2017

I don’t expect Tillerson to care. Between McMaster at the NSC, Mattis on Defense and Tillerson, foreign policy is under the control of the usual Islam Firsters who are very concerned with Muslim feelings, particularly in the oil states, and very little else. And so the old Obama plan to turn over stolen Jewish religious items to a hostile Islamic regime is moving forward.

But President Trump can and should block the move. It’s the right thing to do. And Jewish activists should make that case.

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The Point has been covering this story for a while. This goes back to 2013.

Iraq in the 40s had 350,000 Jews. Today it has somewhere between four and none.

Despite that the Obama administration plans to send the Jewish Archive consisting of religious artifacts, bibles, marriage contracts, community records and private notebooks seized by the Iraqi Secret Police from the Jewish community back to Iraq.

The material is not the property of the Iraqi government, either Saddam’s regime which stole it, or its Shiite successor which claims to want it, but not the Jews who owned it. It’s the property of Iraqi Jewish refugees and their reconstituted communities in America, Israel and anywhere else.

The personal material, like marriage contracts and school books, should go to the families that owned them and to their descendants. The religious material, which a Muslim country that purged its Jewish and Christian communities has no use for, should go Iraqi Jewish religious communities wherever they are now.

Jewish bibles seized from the custody of the Nazi SS would not be sent to the German government. There is no reason to send Jewish bibles into the custody of the Iraqi government.

Despite that, the State Department has announced that the stolen Jewish property will be sent to the Iranian puppet regime in Baghdad.

The United States will return to Iraq next year a trove of Iraqi Jewish artifacts that lawmakers and Jewish groups have lobbied to keep in this country, a State Department official said.

A four-year extension to keep the Iraqi Jewish Archive in the U.S. is set to expire in September 2018, as is funding for maintaining and transporting the items. The materials will then be sent back to Iraq, spokesman Pablo Rodriguez said in a statement sent to JTA on Thursday.

Rodriguez said the State Department “is keenly aware of the interest in the status” of the archive.

“Maintaining the archive outside of Iraq is possible,” he said, “but would require a new agreement between the Government of Iraq and a temporary host institution or government.”

No, it doesn’t. The archive doesn’t belong to the Iraqi government, but to the Jewish population that was ethnically cleansed from Iraq.

The United States recovered the archive and should have turned it over to the Jewish community. Instead we had a bizarre Kafkaesque process in which the archive was restored to be turned over to the thieves who stole it.

Jewish political leaders have invested a lot of energy into looted art in Europe. And that’s a worthwhile cause. Yet this is a far more compelling issue. The archive contains the history of a Jewish community. It matters far more than a Klimt painting. Sadly, the priorities are those of a secular Ashkenazi leadership that is uninterested in the Iraqi Jewish archive because it’s Sephardi and religious. Meanwhile the American Sephardi Federation’s Ashkenazi boss Jason Guberman-Pfeffer seems far more interested in defending the hateful anti-Israel prejudices of David N. Myers, than in fighting for the archive.

And, another factor was the reluctance of a largely liberal leadership to stand up to Obama.

The archive is set to be exhibited at the Jewish Museum of Maryland Oct. 15-Jan. 15. The exhibit page says the items include a Hebrew Bible with commentaries from 1568, a Babylonian Talmud from 1793 and an 1815 version of the Zohar, a Jewish mystical text.

“There is no justification in sending the Jewish archives back to Iraq, a country that has virtually no Jews and no accessibility to Jewish scholars or the descendants of Iraqi Jews,” Gina Waldman, founder and president of Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, said Friday in a statement to JTA. “The U.S. government must ensure that the Iraqi archives are returned to its rightful owners, the exiled Iraqi Jewish community,”

Stanley Urman, executive vice president for Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, echoed Waldman in saying there was no justification for sending back the archive.

“This is Jewish communal property. Iraq stole it and kept it hidden away in a basement. Now that we’ve managed to reclaim it, it would be like returning stolen goods back to the thief,” Urman told JTA on Friday.

It’s exactly like it. Meanwhile here’s the bizarre anti-Semitic justification on the Iraqi side for wanting the archive. Here’s Al Arabiya’s explanation

Experts add that Israel is keen on obtaining the manuscripts in order to prove their claim that the Jews had built the Tower of Babel as part of its attempt to distort the history of the Middle East for its own interests.

Wonderful.

Harold Rhode, who discovered the trove while working as a Defense Department policy analyst assigned to Iraq’s transitional government, said he is “horrified” to think the material would be returned when it had been “stolen by the government of Iraq from the Jewish community.”

“It would be comparable to the U.S. returning to the German government Jewish property that had been looted by the Nazis,” he told The Jewish Week.

It’s exactly like it.

I don’t expect Tillerson to care. Between McMaster at the NSC, Mattis on Defense and Tillerson, foreign policy is under the control of the usual Islam Firsters who are very concerned with Muslim feelings, particularly in the oil states, and very little else. And so the old Obama plan to turn over stolen Jewish religious items to a hostile Islamic regime is moving forward.

But President Trump can and should block the move. It’s the right thing to do. And Jewish activists should make that case.

A Welcome Resignation at DHS

July 31, 2017

A Welcome Resignation at DHS, Power Line,  Paul Mirengoff, July 31, 2017

(Please see also, Break out the champagne: State Department officials quitting over “complete and utter disdain for our expertise.” Another pro-Islam official,  the Director of Countering Violent Extremism, leaves the Department of Homeland Security. — DM)

Selim’s resignation is evidence of a clear and welcome break by the Trump administration from Obama-era policy on countering radical Islam

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I try to write about both the good and the bad of the Trump administration, as I see things.Here’s an important addition to the good column:

George Selim, a prominent Obama administration holdover known for engaging fringe Islamic radicals, has resigned from the Department of Homeland Security. Selim left his post as director of Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). . . .

A DHS source familiar with the situation. . .explained that Selim often clashed with Trump administration officials who sought to do away with the past president’s policies. Senior officials effectively quashed Selim’s efforts to maneuver Obama White House policies and strategies into the new administration, leaving a frustrated Selim with resignation as his only option.

I wrote about CVE here, describing it as a slush fund for CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, Jordan Schachtel of Conservative Review notes that Selim admitted to hosting hundreds of meetings with officials from the CAIR, an Islamic advocacy group that federal prosecutors have labeled as a Muslim Brotherhood front group that was created to achieve the ends of Hamas (a U.S.-designated terrorist organization).

The premise of CVE is that the best way to fight violent extremists is with “non violent extremist” Salafi clergy who have the most influence on them. As Daniel Greenfield has said:

What it really comes down to is paying Muslims to argue with other Muslims on social media. And hope that the Muslims we’re paying to do the arguing are the good kind of extremists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, and not the bad kind of extremists, like ISIS. Even though they’re both vicious killers.

Greenfield added:

CVE not only doesn’t fight terrorism, it perpetuates the whole reason for it by outsourcing our interaction with domestic Muslims to the Saudis and the Muslim Brotherhood. That’s a big part of how we got a terrorism problem in the first place. CVE’s promoters have convinced us that the best way to fight Islamic terrorism is by partnering with Islamic terrorists.

In reality, the best way to fight Islamic terrorism is not to “parse different flavors of Islam,” as Greenfield put it, but to distinguish between those citizens whose allegiance we have and those whose allegiance we do not have. However, to quote Greenfield again, CVE “rejects the idea that Muslims should be expected to show their allegiance [to the United States] and instead demands that the United States show its allegiance to them.” It thus “inverts the balance of citizenship and invests the United States in an unspoken religious debate.”

One of the consequences of this approach was the watering down the FBI’s counterterrorism training materials, including the elimination of valuable information that would help agents identify terrorists. According to Patrick Poole, this “purge” contributed to clues being missed by the FBI in major terrorism cases, including last year’s bombing of the Boston Marathon

Thus, Selim’s resignation is evidence of a clear and welcome break by the Trump administration from Obama-era policy on countering radical Islam.

Trump in Poland: “Our Civilization Will Triumph”

July 7, 2017

Trump in Poland: “Our Civilization Will Triumph”, Front Page MagazineRobert Spencer, July 7, 2017

Trump in Warsaw wasn’t just paying lip service to unattainable ideals, any more than Obama was when he said that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Obama worked very hard to make sure that would be true, and now his successor is working very hard to ensure that Judeo-Christian civilization survives instead. Americans can be grateful that we do not, for the moment, have (as Trump as said) a President of the world, but a President of the United States.

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Interrupted repeatedly by chants of “Donald Trump! Donald Trump! Donald Trump!” as he was speaking in Poland on Thursday, President Trump delivered a ringing affirmation that he would defend Western civilization: “Just as Poland could not be broken, I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail, our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph.”

Now, we’re used to Presidents affirming that civilization will triumph. Barack Obama did it, too. Trump’s remarkable innovation here, and sharp departure from the example his predecessor set, is in declaring that Western civilization would triumph. Barack Hussein Obama, by contrast, was famous for declaring the triumph of Islamic civilization, most notably when he told the United Nations General Assembly on September 25, 2012: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

If the future is not to belong to those who are perceived as slandering the prophet of Islam, Sharia blasphemy laws criminalizing criticism of Islam will have to have been imposed; people aren’t likely to give up criticizing Muhammad voluntarily, especially as jihad terror attacks incited by his teachings become an ever more common feature of life in the West. Thus if the future doesn’t belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam, it will be because the freedom of speech has been extinguished and Islamic values have prevailed: Islamic civilization will have triumphed.

If that was not what Barack Obama wanted, he never gave any indication of it during eight years in the White House. The Democrats constantly pointed to his killings of bin Laden and al-Awlaki as indication that he was tough on terrorism, but amid foreign and domestic policies indefatigably supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and its auxiliaries in the United States, unstinting opposition to the freedom of speech regarding criticism of Islam, and an appalling deal that gave aid and comfort to the Islamic Republic of Iran, those killings only made clear that while Obama evidently opposed violent jihad, he had no serious objection to other methods of Sharia imposition and Islamization.

In Warsaw Thursday, Trump offered a radically different vision. “We are fighting hard against radical Islamic terrorism,” he declared. “And we will prevail. We cannot accept those who reject our values and who use hatred to justify violence against the innocent.”

We cannot accept those who reject our values.” After eight years of Obama acting as if the freedom of speech and the right to bear arms were burdens to be cast off rather than rights to be defended, this is an extraordinary statement. It is also one of the reasons why Trump’s notorious “travel ban” contains a little-noted directive that is clearly designed to preserve American values. The March 6 executive order states:

To be more transparent with the American people and to implement more effectively policies and practices that serve the national interest, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Attorney General, shall, consistent with applicable law and national security, collect and make publicly available the following information:…information regarding the number and types of acts of gender-based violence against women, including so-called “honor killings,” in the United States by foreign nationals.

Muslims commit 91 percent of honor killings worldwide. A manual of Islamic law certified as a reliable guide to Sunni orthodoxy by Al-Azhar, the most respected authority in Sunni Islam, says that “retaliation is obligatory against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right.” However, “not subject to retaliation” is “a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring.” (Reliance of the Traveller o1.1-2). In other words, someone who kills his child incurs no legal penalty under Islamic law. In this case the victim was the murderer’s daughter, a victim to the culture of violence and intimidation that such laws help create.

The Palestinian Authority gives pardons or suspended sentences for honor murders. Iraqi women have asked for tougher sentences for Islamic honor murderers, who get off lightly now. Syria in 2009 scrapped a law limiting the length of sentences for honor killings, but “the new law says a man can still benefit from extenuating circumstances in crimes of passion or honour ‘provided he serves a prison term of no less than two years in the case of killing.’” And in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that “Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values.”

Until the encouragement Islamic law gives to honor killing is acknowledged and confronted, more women will suffer. President Trump is trying to keep women from suffering in this way in the United States.

That element of the executive order is the kind of thing that is involved in ensuring that “our civilization will triumph”: stopping the encroachment of Sharia values in the United States. Trump in Warsaw wasn’t just paying lip service to unattainable ideals, any more than Obama was when he said that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” Obama worked very hard to make sure that would be true, and now his successor is working very hard to ensure that Judeo-Christian civilization survives instead. Americans can be grateful that we do not, for the moment, have (as Trump as said) a President of the world, but a President of the United States.

Trump’s Warsaw Speech Evoked Reagan’s Cold War Rhetoric, Not The Alt-Right’s

July 7, 2017

Trump’s Warsaw Speech Evoked Reagan’s Cold War Rhetoric, Not The Alt-Right’s, The Federalist, July 7, 2017

President Trump gave a stirring defense of western civilization on Thursday morning in Warsaw ahead of the G-20 summit in Germany. In a remarkably candid speech about the threats facing the West, Trump praised Poland for resisting communist and Nazi efforts “to demolish freedom, your faith, your laws, your history, your identity—indeed the very essence of your culture and your humanity.”

Speaking at Krasinski Square in front of the iconic Warsaw Uprising monument marking Poland’s 1944 resistance to Nazi occupation, Trump proclaimed, somewhat dramatically, “Just as Poland could not be broken, I declare today for the world to hear that the West will never, ever be broken. Our values will prevail, our people will thrive, and our civilization will triumph.”

The world hasn’t heard such language from a U.S. president since Ronald Reagan inveighed against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. But apparently it’s racist and fascist these days to talk about resisting tyranny and defending western values—or even to talk about western civilization as such. The Guardian worried about Trump’s use of the word “civilization,” noting that he used it ten times, and claiming the speech “pits western world against barbarians at the gates” and calls for “a clash of civilisations.”

Vox blurted out the headline, “Trump’s speech in Poland sounded like an alt-right manifesto,” calling it “a speech that often resorted to rhetorical conceits typically used by the European and American alt-right. It sounded, at times, not just like the populists of the present but the populists of the past.” The New Republic’s Jeet Heer tweeted that Trump’s speech, “is evidence of how alt right still has a voice in White House” and later posted a commentary saying it “redefined the West in nativist terms.”

Even The Atlantic‘s James Fallows compared Trump’s rhetoric to the Nazi propaganda film, “Triumph of the Will,” saying Trump “represents our country as just another tribe.”

JFK Also Praised Poland’s History and Culture

These reactions belie a worldview that rejects entirely the very idea of “western civilization,” and insists that appeals to Enlightenment principles and cultural cohesion are inherently racist and fascist. And there’s a reason for that. As my colleague David Harsanyi noted, “many of the same people who believe Western values are alt-right dog-whistles want you to adopt a new set of values that have nothing to do with the founding principles and everything to do with their policy preferences.”

But Trump was espousing what used to be considered a fairly standard understanding of western values. “We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression,” he said. “We empower women as pillars of our society and of our success. We put faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, at the center of our lives… And above all, we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom.”

Progressives today reject almost all of this—not because Trump is invoking the rhetoric of the alt-right, but because they have moved so far to the left. In fact, far from echoing the blood-and-soil language of the alt-right, Trump’s rhetoric here sounds a lot like the rhetoric deployed in speeches about Poland by Reagan or John F. Kennedy during the Cold War.

Back then, Poland was under communist control, its government a puppet of the Soviet Union and its people prisoners of a tyrannical regime. In a 1960 speech to the Polish-American Congress, then-senator Kennedy recalled his time in Poland in 1939, and Poland’s history fighting the Nazis during World War Two: “After the war, I visited the Polish cemetery in Italy. Some of you who have been there may recall that at the cemetery are written the words, ‘These Polish soldiers for your freedom and theirs have given their bodies to the soil of Italy, their hearts to Poland, and their souls to God.’”

He went on to address the oppression of Poland by the Soviet Union, saying, “we must never… recognize the Soviet domination of eastern Europe as permanent. We must never do it. Poland’s claim to independence and liberty is not based on sentiment or politics. It is rooted in history, and it is to history that we must address ourselves.”

Kennedy called not only for a defensive military buildup so that the Russians would know “that the route of military force can no longer be open to them,” but also for increasing cultural ties to Poland, saying the United States must “strive to restore the traditional identification which Poland has had with the Western European community, which goes back into history. It is tied by culture ties. Poland has always looked to the West, never to the East.” The Polish people, he said, “have not accepted the idea that their culture, their religious heritage, their traditions, can be destroyed by domination by a foreign power.”

Reagan Invoked God, Heritage, and History

Two decades later, Poland was still under communist rule, its government still a puppet of the Soviet Union, but things had begun to change. When Reagan took office in 1981, the Solidarity movement in Poland was building steam. Led by future Polish president Lech Wałęsa and supported by members of the Catholic Church and the anti-Soviet left, Solidarity organized as a free trade union in opposition to communist rule.

By the end of 1981, Poland’s authoritarian government would declare martial law in an effort to crush Solidarity. Reagan gave a speech on December 23 addressing the situation, and praised the Polish people for showing their resistance by placing lit candles in their windows. He said the exiled former Polish ambassador, Romuald Spasowski, had requested that on Christmas Eve a lighted candle burn in the White House window as a “small but certain beacon of our solidarity with the Polish people,” and urged all Americans to do the same that Christmas Eve, invoking God, heritage, and history:

Once, earlier in this century, an evil influence threatened that the lights were going out all over the world. Let the light of millions of candles in American homes give notice that the light of freedom is not going to be extinguished. We are blessed with a freedom and abundance denied to so many. Let those candles remind us that these blessings bring with them a solid obligation, an obligation to the God who guides us, an obligation to the heritage of liberty and dignity handed down to us by our forefathers and an obligation to the children of the world, whose future will be shaped by the way we live our lives today.

Six months later, in his famous Westminster speech to members of the British Parliament, Reagan cast the Soviet Union in the same stark terms that Trump today reserves for ISIS and North Korea. He warned of “totalitarian forces in the world who seek subversion and conflict around the globe to further their barbarous assault on the human spirit. What, then, is our course? Must civilization perish in a hail of fiery atoms? Must freedom wither in a quiet, deadening accommodation with totalitarian evil?”

Reagan’s answer was an emphatic “no.” He again spoke of about Poland’s role in western civilization and its cultural lineage, saying, “Poland is at the center of European civilization. It has contributed mightily to that civilization. It is doing so today by being magnificently unreconciled to oppression.”

He closed that speech with language that would surely scandalize the progressives at Vox and The New Republic, calling the contest against totalitarianism “a crusade for freedom that will engage the faith and fortitude of the next generation. For the sake of peace and justice, let us move toward a world in which all people are at last free to determine their own destiny.”

Europe’s Political Elites Are a Threat to The West

Trump’s Warsaw speech should be understood in this historical context. The president rightly sees the contest between radical Islamic terrorism and the West as a contest between totalitarianism and freedom. He also rightly sees the growing tension between the European Union and the citizenry of European nations as a contest between authoritarian bureaucracy and representative, limited government. His remarks Thursday were aimed at ISIS, but also at a European elite that doesn’t have the inclination or will to defend its borders or cultural heritage.

That’s why Trump said: “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilization in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

Trump isn’t just referring to ISIS when he alludes to those who would destroy western civilization. He’s also pointing to European political elites who undermine their own societies by cultural relativism and its resulting slavish and destructive adherence to open borders and mass migration.

Reagan and JFK understood that communism sought ultimately to destroy western civilization and replace it with something else. That’s why they often spoke of civilization and cultural heritage during the Cold War. Trump is saying something similar about the political elites who now rule Europe, and he’s not wrong. That mainstream media outlets like Vox and The Atlantic are scandalized by this is evidence not of Trump’s radicalism, but of their own.

John is a senior correspondent for The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter.

Hugh Fitzgerald: No Room at the Inn for an Iftar Dinner

June 26, 2017

Hugh Fitzgerald: No Room at the Inn for an Iftar Dinner, Jihad Watch

The Washington Post has reported — drop a ready tear — that there will be no Iftar Dinner this year in the White House:

For the first time in nearly two decades, Ramadan has come and gone without the White House recognizing it with an iftar or Eid celebration, as had taken place each year under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

And the article by Amy Wang attempts to suggest that the “tradition” of the Iftar Dinner goes all the way back to Thomas Jefferson who, as is well known, was asked by a visiting Muslim envoy of the Bey of Tunis, one Sidi Soliman Mellimelli,  to postpone the dinner to which Jefferson had invited him, along with others, until after sundown, which Jefferson, as a matter of courtesy, did.

The Post continues:

Jefferson’s decision to change the time of the meal to accommodate Mellimelli’s [the envoy from the Bey of Tunis] observance of Ramadan has been seized on by both sides in the 21st-century debate over Islam more than 200 years later. Historians have cited the meal as the first time an iftar took place in the White House — and it has been referenced in recent White House celebrations of Ramadan as an embodiment of the Founding Father’s respect for religious freedom. Meanwhile, critics on the far right have taken issue with the characterization of Jefferson’s Dec. 9, 1805, dinner as an iftar.

Notice how in the Post article it is “historians” (disinterested, authoritative, not to be doubted) who cite that 1805 meal as the first Iftar dinner in the White House,  while those who deny that the meal was an “Iftar dinner” are described as being on the “far right,” apparently for no other reason than that very denial.

What actually happened is clear for those without an insensate need to make Islam, as Barack Obama has repeatedly  claimed it was, “always part of America’s story.” And you can be as left-wing as all get out, and still recognize that Jefferson was not putting on an Iftar dinner. A little history will help:  Mellimelli came to Washington as the envoy of the Bey of Tunis. The Americans had blockaded the port of Tunis, in order to force the Bey to halt his attacks on American shipping. Mellimelli was sent to make an agreement that would end the blockade. Invited by Jefferson to a dinner at the White House set for 3:30 (dinners were earlier in those pre-Edison days of our existence), he requested that it be held after sundown, in accordance with his Muslim practice, and Jefferson, a courteous man, obliged him. There is no hint that the dinner had changed in any way; no one then called it, or thought of it, as an “Iftar dinner.” Mellimelli himself did not describe it as an “Iftar dinner.” There is no record of it being anything other than the exact same dinner, the same menu, with wine (no removal of alcohol as would be necessary were it a real Iftar dinner), the only change being that of the three-hour delay until sunset. Nothing Jefferson said or did at the time, or in his later writings,  indicates that he thought of that delayed dinner as an “Iftar dinner”; nor did he think he was in any way honoring Islam.

In fact, Jefferson had a very dim view of Islam, which came out of his experience in dealing with the Barbary Pirates, that is, the North African Muslims (in Morocco, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli), who attacked Christian shipping and seized ships and Christian sailors, and then demanded ransom. The sums were not trivial; the American Republic found itself spending 20% of its national budget on such payments. These continued until Jefferson became President, stopped the practice of paying such tribute, and instead made war on the Barbary Pirates. And that worked.

In 1786, years before he became president, Jefferson, along with John Adams, met with the Tripolitanian envoy Sidi Haji Abdrahaman in London.  Perhaps by then Jefferson had read the Qur’an he had purchased in 1765 out of curiosity (no one knows how much of that Qur’an Jefferson  may have read, or when, though some Muslim apologists have baselessly claimed he must have bought his Qur’an out of sympathetic interest in Islam.) If he did read it,  it would have helped him to understand the motivations of the North African Muslims. Certainly by the time he became President in 1801, he was determined not to negotiate with the Barbary Pirates, but to implacably oppose with force these Muslims whom, he knew from his encounter with Abdrahaman in London, were permanently hostile to all non-Muslims.

In London, Jefferson and Adams had queried the Tripolitanian ambassador “concerning the ground of the pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury” for the Americans had done nothing to deserve being attacked, and the ambassador replied, as Jefferson reported:

“It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every mussulman who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise.”

And later, Jefferson reported to Secretary of State John Jay and to Congress at greater length, with a nearly identical quote from the ambassador:

“The ambassador answered us that [the right] was founded on the Laws of the Prophet, that it was written in their Koran, that all nations who should not have answered their authority were sinners, that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners, and that every Mussulman who should be slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

These reports do not sound as if they came from someone who thought well of Islam. The more dealings Jefferson had with the representatives of the Barbary states, and the more he learned from them directly of the tenets of the faith, the more he began to understand the aggressive nature of Islam, the centrality of Jihad, the inculcation of permanent hostility toward non-Muslims, and the heavenly reward for Jihadis slain in battle.

The Iftar dinner “tradition” begins not with Jefferson in 1805, and that three-hour delay in a meal that was otherwise unchanged, but with our latter-day interfaith outreach presidents — Clinton, Bush, Obama — each of whom, in his own way, has managed to ignore or misinterpret the texts and teachings of Islam.

That “tradition” of Iftar dinners in the White House is less than 20 years old, as compared with the other “tradition,” ten times as long, that is, the 200 years of Iftar-less presidencies. That short-lived “tradition”  has been ended, for now, by an administration that, for all of its self-inflicted wounds and woes in other areas, continues to exhibit a better sense of what Islam, foreign and domestic, is all about, than its predecessors, and has no desire to obliquely honor it.

The interfaith outreach farce that the Iftar Dinner at the White House embodies, honoring Islam — while, all over the world, every day brings fresh news of Muslim atrocities against non-Muslims, more than 30,000 such attacks since 9/11/2001 alone, not to mention attacks as well  against other Muslims deemed either of the wrong sect, or insufficient in the fervor of their faith — now comes to an end, if only for four years. That is certainly what Jefferson (and John Adams, and that most profound presidential student of Islam, John Quincy Adams), if not The Washington Post, would have wanted.

And since John Quincy Adams has been mentioned, why doesn’t The Washington Post take it upon itself to share with its readers what that most scholarly of our presidents wrote about Islam. It does not date. And it might prove most instructive.