And peace on you too. A lady goes into a bar and asks for a double entendre. The barman gives her one. Click on the Khasi of Kalabar below, and titter ye not. From The Telegraph with thanks to Esmerelda:
Israelis, in contrast, are like us. They are part of the West. So who does Stephen Hawking choose to boycott? Rod Liddle, from the Sunday Times via the British Israel Group:
A statement issued on [Hawking's] behalf explained that he was persuaded by Palestinian colleagues to boycott an academic conference taking place in Israel, because of its policies towards the Palestinians. Right on, Stevie!
I wonder what Hawking’s hero, the late mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing would have thought of this. A short while ago, Hawking was a leading signatory to a campaign for Turing to be posthumously pardoned — he had been convicted of homosexuality 60 years ago.
Turing would get 10 years in prison in Gaza today, although there is a healthy penal reform lobby within the mosques who think this sentence should be non-custodial — that is, it should be changed to death by stoning followed by being doused in Allah’s cleansing fires for eternity. Indeed, Hawking is boycotting one of the only states in the region where Turing would not have been imprisoned on account of his sexuality. Peculiar, isn’t it? Unless on that occasion — as on this — Hawking was just grandstanding for a fashionable cause.
Or perhaps it’s this: maybe Hawking, who has motor neurone disease and uses a wheelchair, finds Hamas’s non-discriminatory jihadist spirit amenable. The group is determined to afford mentally disabled Palestinians a certain prominence in the fight against the Zionist entity by strapping Semtex to their bodies and cheerfully pointing them in the direction of the Israelis. Hamas will use children and women for the same purpose.
Professor Hawking has a problem, mind. He uses an astonishing speech-generation device that has made his voice recognisable the world over. Its most important component is a fiendishly clever silicon chip that was designed in . . . yes, Israel. It is not clear how Hawking will square this problem. Perhaps he will protest against himself.
Hawking should stick to physics. And stick with his own kind, as even the briefest history of Islamic time will tell.
"Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar," said the Queen's private secretary, Lord Charteris, of Sarah, Duchess of York. It might with more justice be said of Dubai. Trashy buildings, trashy bars, trashy shopping, Dubai seems to embody all that is said to be wrong with the West. But Dubai is Muslim, and Islam is not Western. Nor is it merely different and just as good in its vibrant way. We do not put women in prison for being gang raped, but those who follow Sharia, do, and indeed must. Thanks to Gates of Vienna for this chilling story.
After we posted on the kerfuffle over IRS attacks on conservative Tea Party, Patriot groups and Z Street for viewpoint discrimination, I spoke with my colleague, Lori Lowenthal Marcus, President of the pro-Israel group. We discussed the distinctions between Z Street’s legal action against the IRS versus IRS targeting of conservative groups. The latter had applied for 501 (c) (4) status as social welfare groups while the original Z Street application was for tax exempt status under 501( c) (3). We chanced to view a PBS News Hour program featuring a discussion about these important differences. The segment featured Duke Law School Professor, Richard J. Schmalbeck, an expert on non-profit tax law, and Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ). Sekulow is representing Tea Party and Patriot groups in litigation with the IRS. He and Marcus had met in Israel at a conference during which she explained the facts and basis for the Z Street law suit. It wa soriginally filed original in August 2010 in the Eastern Pennsylvania District Court and since transferred to the DC District Court, where it will be heard in early July. We reached out to Sekulow to see if he might consent to an NER interview about both matters.
Watch this PBS News Hour Discussion of the Tax law Issues Behind IRS Political Targeting with ACLJ’s Jay Sekulow and Duke Law School Professor Schmalbeck.
Marcus, whose day job is US correspondent for The Jewish Press knows these legal issues as a graduate of Harvard Law School and pro bono lawyer on related matters in Philadelphia. She had reached out to the House Ways and Means Committee Monday to suggest expansion of the upcoming hearings to include the Z Street IRS litigation. She was told that this might an agenda item for future hearings on IRS political targeting of viewpoint groups. Committee Chairman David Camp (R-MI) has scheduled hearings on the Tea Party and Patriots groups IRS matter for this Friday. Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller, who took over for outgoing Commissioner Douglas Shulman, a Bush appointee holdover, will testify together with the IRS Inspector General. Attorney General Holder has initiated an investigation into the IRS imbroglio with conservative groups on their 50 (c ) (4)) tax exempt applications. This followed President Obama’s comments at a press conference with visiting UK PM David Cameron on Monday.
A leader of one of the organizations involved, Lori Lowenthal Marcus of Z Street, said Monday that she was convinced the added attention her group got was no accident.
“I can’t believe it was just about Z Street, because it’s a tiny organization,” Lowenthal Marcus said of the group, which has been critical of President Barack Obama for being too cozy with left-leaning Jewish groups like J Street and with pro-Palestinian entities.
Z Street filed a lawsuit against the IRS in 2010 alleging that one of its attorneys was told its application for tax exemption was delayed and sent to a “special unit…to determine whether the organization’s activities contradict the Administration’s public policies.”
Z Street had applied for the 501 (c) (3) status applied to most charities, allowing for tax deductible donations.
Most of the tea party groups known to have come under scrutiny applied for 501 (c) (4) status, which allows advocacy groups to avoid federal taxes on their operations but doesn’t render donations to the groups’ tax deductible.
Both kinds of applications are processed in the same Cincinnati office.
Legal filings show that the problems for Z Street — and apparently for other Israel-related groups — stemmed from an obscure unit in the Cincinnati IRS office: the “Touch and Go Group.” One of the so-called TAG Group’s duties was to weed out applications that might be coming from organizations which may be used to fund terrorism.
In response to Z Street’s lawsuit, an IRS manager acknowledged that applications mentioning Israel were getting special attention.
“Israel is one of many Middle Eastern countries that have a higher risk of terrorism,” wrote Jon Waddell, manager of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations Determinations Group. “A referral to TAG is appropriate whenever an application mentions providing resources to organizations in a country with a higher risk of terrorism.”
“Does your organization support the existence of the land of Israel? Describe your organization’s religious belief system towards the land of Israel,” the IRS asked in a letter sent to the religious group, which asked not to be named.
“If they’re asking that of that group, what else are they asking?” Lowenthal Marcus asked.
She said basing the review for terrorism on where an organization did business was strange and ineffective.
“If their policy was to look at any organization that had anything to do with a country where terrorism exists, I don’t see how that limits anything,” Lowenthal Marcus said. “There’s been terrorism in the United States, in the United Kingdom, in Canada, in Malaysia….and in Boston. Is that now going to be on the list?”
[ . . . ]
In court papers, the IRS denied that its personnel ever told Z Street that there was a special review for groups that might be at odds with Obama administration policy. The tax agency contended that the issue was whether the groups might violate “public policy” — a legal term of art for the notion that the government shouldn’t bestow a benefit on an individual or organization engaged in illegal activity like terrorism, or in an officially disfavored activity such as racial discrimination.
“The application was not transferred to TAG because of an ‘Israel special policy’ or because Z Street’s views on Israel contradict the Obama administration’s views on Israel,” the Justice Department wrote in a brief seeking dismissal of Z Street’s lawsuit.
But note the peculiar origins of the so-called TAG group in the Bush Administration:
The TAG group was created in 2005 during the George W. Bush administration, court papers indicate. Published IRS regulations describe the TAG and its duties, but don’t say which specific countries trigger scrutiny beyond those designated by the United States as state sponsors of terrorism.
The unit appears to have arisen out of the Bush administration’s efforts to crack down on Muslim charities it alleged were funneling funds to terrorism. Several of the largest U.S.-based charities for Muslim causes, including the Global Relief Foundation and Benevolence International Foundation, were raided and had their assets frozen.
Soon after taking office, President Barack Obama took a different tack. He declared publicly in 2009 that he thought government rules were unfairly impeding Muslims from carrying through on their religious obligation to donate to charity.
A Muslim leader active in zakat fundraising said Monday he was not aware of any reduction in scrutiny of Muslim charities after Obama’s statement. “I’m told it’s gotten worse,” said Imad ad-Dean Ahmad of the Islamic American Zakat Foundation.
Other Muslim leaders said the latest headlines struck a familiar chord with them. “When the story came out [about the Tea Party groups], a lot of us said this is the same thing that has been happening to us over the past decade,” said Abed Ayoub of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee.
Ayoub said he was unaware of any significant change since Obama’s remarks in 2009. “There hasn’t been a visible change to the guidelines and the processes within the Department of the Treasury and the IRS. It has been an ongoing battle it’s a constant struggle for us,” he said. “The Tea Party is kind of in the same boat with many Muslim organizations on this issue now.”
See our June 2009 NER Article, “Zakat and Terrorism”. Gerstein would have us believe that there may be an emerging alliance of conservative Tea Party Groups and Muslim charities whose raison d’etre is supporting the way of Allah, Jihad. Nothing could be further from the truth. That amounts to terrorism sponsoring Islamic charities attempting to horn in on the current IRS litigation by the ACLJ and Z Street and Department of Justice investigations. Bizarre.
Watch Z Street President Lori Lowenthal Marcus being interviewed about the group’s litigation against the IRS for viewpoint discrimination by Fox News’ On The Record host Greta Van Susteren.
Yesterday, in the Eastern Michigan Federal District Court, Judge Patrick Duggan struck down a complaint brought by the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) on behalf of a Christian Group physically assaulted at an Arab Festival in Dearborn, Michigan in June 2012 for exercising their protected speech rights under our First Amendment. In the words of AFLC counsel, Robert Muise, Esq. this amounted to granting a ‘Heckler’s Veto’ to the predominately Muslim community in Dearborn to suppress Free speech through violent actions. The Judge’s ruling violated existing Constitutional case law. Muise and co-counsel David Yerushalmi, Esq. of ACFL within minutes of the Federal District Court ruling made application for appeal to the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. According to co-counsel Muise, the AFCL is prepared to take the matter to the US Supreme Court, if necessary to redress this patent wrongheaded decision. This ruling by Judge Patrick may emboldens Muslim advocacy groups in America to commit violence elsewhere until voided by Federal Appellate and, if need be, US Supreme Court action. The Supreme Court has established precedents in rulings preserving protected speech rights under our First Amendment. This ruling by Judge Duggan yesterday should buttress the case for passage of American Law for American Courts at the state level.
A press release by the ACFL noted the peculiar and disturbing aspects of yesterday’s Federal Court ruling in Michigan:
A Michigan federal judge today dismissed a civil rights lawsuit brought by several Christian evangelists who were violently assaulted by a hostile Muslim mob while preaching at an Arab festival last year in Dearborn, Michigan, which has the largest Muslim population in the United States. Video of the Muslim assault went viral on YouTube. [A longer 22 minute version of the original 70 minute video was produced by colleagues at The United West had more than 1.3 million hits since its posting on June26, 2012. It was introduced as part of the evidentiary record by ACFL counsel in support of the complaint ruled on at yesterday’s Eastern Michigan Federal District Court hearing.]
Watch this TUW video of what occurred in Dearborn in June 2012 and note the introductory footage of President Obama speaking at a Dearborn rally during the 2012 Presidential campaign prior to the altercation.
The American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed the lawsuit against Wayne County, the Wayne County Sheriff, and two Wayne County Deputy Chiefs for refusing to protect the Christians from the attack and threatening to arrest the Christians for disorderly conduct if they did not halt their speech activity and immediately leave the festival area.
Judge Patrick J. Duggan, sitting in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, granted Wayne County’s Motion for summary judgment, dismissing the lawsuit. The judge also denied AFLC’s motion requesting that the court issue an order preventing the Wayne County Sheriff and his deputies from restricting the Christian evangelists from displaying their banners and signs on the public sidewalks outside of this year’s Arab Festival, which will be held in June.
In the ruling, the judge stated the following: “The Court finds that the actual demonstration of violence here provided the requisite justification for [the Wayne County sheriffs’] intervention, even if the officials acted as they did because of the effect the speech had on the crowd.”
Robert Muise, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, commented: “The First Amendment was dealt a severe blow today as a result of this ruling. Indeed, this ruling effectively empowers Muslims to silence Christian speech that they deem offensive by engaging in violence. And pursuant to this ruling, the Christian speakers are now subject to arrest for engaging in disorderly conduct on account of the Muslim hecklers’ violent response to their speech. In short, this ruling turns the First Amendment on its head.”
David Yerushalmi, AFLC Co-Founder and Senior Counsel, added: “This fight for our fundamental right to freedom of speech does not stop here. We have filed an immediate appeal of this ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. While Judge Duggan may have been the first judge to rule on this issue, he won’t be the last. Indeed, we are prepared to take this case to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary because it is imperative that our free speech rights not be subject to mob rule. This is the United States, not Benghazi.”
Watch this interview of AFLC counsel Robert Muise, Esq.by Tom Trento of the TUW on TrentoVision about yesterday’s Michigan Federal District Court adverse ruling beginning at the 16 minute mark.
Incredible colour footage of 1920s London shot by an early British pioneer of film named Claude Frisse-Greene, who made a series of travelogues using the colour process his father William - a noted cinematographer - was experimenting with.
London Bridge and the Cenotaph in Whitehall have changed very little. The river has lost her working boats. Take particular note at 4.15 when the photographer visits Petticoat Lane the East End street market (still operating but much changed) one Sunday dinnertime.
The BBC and the nationals are suddenly starting to take an interest in the Oxford grooming (Bullfinch) trial.
They ran it like an organised business. Men who made money from abusing young girls while satisfying their own sexual gratification. In their police interviews, they said little or nothing - even when pressed.
But despite their silence, officers pieced together a harrowing picture of disturbing abuse, which was presented to the jury at the Old Bailey.
Young girls were groomed, raped, abused and sold for sex by the gang of Oxford men, who have now been convicted of a catalogue of sex offences.
Det Insp Simon Morton, of Thames Valley Police, said: "They start out at 11 or 12 as ordinary girls, in our case, and by the time they're finished they're hollow. They are shells of what they should be and the little girl in there is gone
"It's sexual atrocities, it's torture.
"You can't report it, you can't put it on TV, you can't write it down. We have had members of the press in tears in court. It's been horrendous."
I said when it started that I feared it would prove to be one of the nastier grooming trials so far.
Mohammed Karrar was the most prolific offender in the case. The 38-year-old's family is thought to originate from Eritrea, in East Africa, but he grew up in his parents' house on the Cowley Road.
The brothers separately and together subjected victims three and four to a string of violent and sadistic rapes, often leaving them injured.
After grooming them for about a year, they took them to other places around the county to be sold and raped in hotels and "brothels for young girls". Other men paid them to play out sadistic sexual fantasies and gang rape victim four. Mohammed Karrar forced victim four to have an illegal backroom abortion when she became pregnant. She was 12 years old.
The BBC is still omitting to mention these details.
The 'extreme physical and sexual violence on the girls' using knives, meat cleavers and baseball bats. They were 'humiliated and degraded' bitten, scratched suffocated, tied up beaten and burnt.
The CUSTOMERS who " would pay up to £600 to have sex with a 12-year-old girl because of her "soft baby skin",
The branding to show that the slave was his property: Mohammed Karrar, 38, allegedly pushed a metal hair clip he had shaped into an ‘M’ and heated with a cigarette lighter onto her buttock. Prosecutor Noel Lucas QC said: “He told her he wanted people to know she belonged to him.”
A CHILD was gagged, whipped, and tied up while she was made to act out "sexual fantasies" for groups of men, the Old Bailey heard this morning. Known as Girl 4 as she cannot be named, she said: "I have been horse-whipped, I have been cuffed, and I have been tied with a shirt tie."
Witness describes how Mohammed Karrar assaulted her aged 12 with "toys". "I said please don't, it really hurts." Karrar told the child: "This will help you take more."
A GANG of men has been found guilty of grooming, drugging, raping and prostituting vulnerable children in Oxford.
Seven out of nine men were convicted this afternoon by jurors at the Old Bailey on 59 charges which included child rape, sex trafficking, serious sexual assault, and arranging child prostitution.The jury returned their verdicts after more than 17 hours of deliberations following a trial lasting more than four months.
During the trial jurors heard how the girls were gang raped, beaten, burnt, sexually assaulted with knives and a baseball bat, gagged, tied up, and scratched.
Following the verdicts Judge Peter Rook told the jury they were now exempt from jury service for the rest of their lives.
Police and social workers have apologised for not protecting vulnerable schoolgirls who were sexually abused and exploited by a paedophile ring. Joanna Simons, Oxfordshire County Council's chief executive, apologised to the girls.
She said: "We are incredibly sorry we were not able to stop it any sooner. We were up against a gang of devious criminals. The girls thought they were their friends. I would like to pay tribute to the courage of the girls in giving evidence. They have been so brave."
Two sets of brothers, Akhtar Dogar, 32, and Anjum Dogar, 31, and Mohammed Karrar, 38, and Bassam Karrar, 33, were convicted along with Kamar Jamil, 27, Assad Hussain, 32, and Zeeshan Ahmed, 27.
Fighting broke out in the dock at the Old Bailey after two other defendants - Mohammed Hussain and a man who cannot be named for legal reasons - were cleared. Zeeshan Ahmed struck out at Mohammed Hussain after Hussain was cleared. He struggled as dock officers lifted him up and out of court.
The seven men found guilty of offences against the six girls were remanded in custody for sentencing next month. Judge Peter Rook told them: "You have been convicted of the most serious of offences. Long custodial sentences are inevitable. "
CONVERSE COUNTY, Wyo. (AP) -- It happens about once a month here, on the barren foothills of one of America's green-energy boomtowns: A soaring golden eagle slams into a wind farm's spinning turbine and falls, mangled and lifeless, to the ground.
Killing these iconic birds is not just an irreplaceable loss for a vulnerable species. It's also a federal crime, a charge that the Obama administration has used to prosecute oil companies when birds drown in their waste pits, and power companies when birds are electrocuted by their power lines.
But the administration has never fined or prosecuted a wind-energy company, even those that flout the law repeatedly. Instead, the government is shielding the industry from liability and helping keep the scope of the deaths secret.
Wind power, a pollution-free energy intended to ease global warming, is a cornerstone of President Barack Obama's energy plan. His administration has championed a $1 billion-a-year tax break to the industry that has nearly doubled the amount of wind power in his first term.
But like the oil industry under President George W. Bush, lobbyists and executives have used their favored status to help steer U.S. energy policy.
The result is a green industry that's allowed to do not-so-green things. It kills protected species with impunity and conceals the environmental consequences of sprawling wind farms.
More than 573,000 birds are killed by the country's wind farms each year, including 83,000 hunting birds such as hawks, falcons and eagles, according to an estimate published in March in the peer-reviewed Wildlife Society Bulletin.
Getting precise figures is impossible because many companies aren't required to disclose how many birds they kill. And when they do, experts say, the data can be unreliable.
When companies voluntarily report deaths, the Obama administration in many cases refuses to make the information public, saying it belongs to the energy companies or that revealing it would expose trade secrets or implicate ongoing enforcement investigations.
Nearly all the birds being killed are protected under federal environmental laws, which prosecutors have used to generate tens of millions of dollars in fines and settlements from businesses, including oil and gas companies, over the past five years.
"We are all responsible for protecting our wildlife, even the largest of corporations," Colorado U.S. Attorney David M. Gaouette said in 2009 when announcing Exxon Mobil had pleaded guilty and would pay $600,000 for killing 85 birds in five states, including Wyoming.
The large death toll at wind farms shows how the renewable energy rush comes with its own environmental consequences, trade-offs the Obama administration is willing to make in the name of cleaner energy.
"It is the rationale that we have to get off of carbon, we have to get off of fossil fuels, that allows them to justify this," said Tom Dougherty, a long-time environmentalist who worked for nearly 20 years for the National Wildlife Federation in the West, until his retirement in 2008. "But at what cost? In this case, the cost is too high."
The Obama administration has refused to accept that cost when the fossil-fuel industry is to blame. The BP oil company was fined $100 million for killing and harming migratory birds during the 2010 Gulf oil spill. And PacifiCorp, which operates coal plants in Wyoming, paid more than $10.5 million in 2009 for electrocuting 232 eagles along power lines and at its substations.
But PacifiCorp also operates wind farms in the state, where at least 20 eagles have been found dead in recent years, according to corporate surveys submitted to the federal government and obtained by The Associated Press. They've neither been fined nor prosecuted. A spokesman for PacifiCorp, which is a subsidiary of MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. of Des Moines, Iowa, said that's because its turbines may not be to blame.
"What it boils down to is this: If you electrocute an eagle, that is bad, but if you chop it to pieces, that is OK," said Tim Eicher, a former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service enforcement agent based in Cody, who helped prosecute the PacifiCorp power line case.
"U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does not do this for the electric utility industry or other industries," Kevin Kritz, a government wildlife biologist in the Rocky Mountain region wrote in government records in September 2011. "Other industries will want to be judged on a similar standard."...
Experts working for the agency in California and Nevada wrote in government records in June 2011 that the new federal guidelines should be considered as though they were put together by corporations, since they "accommodate the renewable energy industry's proposals, without due accountability."
The Obama administration, however, repeatedly overruled its experts at the Fish and Wildlife Service. In the end, the wind-energy industry, which was part of the committee that drafted and edited the guidelines, got almost everything it wanted...
The following is an expanded version of the speech Mr. Fitzgerald delivered to the New English Review Symposium on June 19, 2010.
Shortly after the 9/11/2001 attacks, that have entered history under the too-casual shorthand of “nine-eleven,” the American government began to plan to conduct a war against those whom, it correctly believed, were those most immediately involved in the attack. These were the members of an identifiable group called Al Qaeda. Its head was a mediagenic son of a Saudi billionaire, Osama Bin Laden, ably seconded by the scion of a prominent Egyptian family, Ayman Al-Zawahiri (his great-uncle Azzam Pasha had been the first Secretary of the Arab League), with others who had, from their lairs in Afghanistan, been plotting against the West at least since 1993, when the first attack on the World Trade Center took place. And within months it carried out that plan, directed not only at Al Qaeda but at the Taliban that had given Al Qaeda refuge and succor in Afghanistan.
For the first few years of that war, the word “Jihad” was seldom used. Instead, the Americans had set out, so American political leaders said, to defeat a “handful of extremists,” those who had “hijacked a great religion.” The two most important leaders in the West, Bush and Blair, both assured the world that Islam was a religion of “peace” and “tolerance” though no historical evidence for this absurdity was adduced. – Blair even let it be known that he carried a Qur’an around in his pocket, which was meant to suggest his appreciative familiarity with its contents.
Nor did the word “Jihad” have any application in the war that began in Iraq when the Americans invaded that country in March 2003, with our leaders having been convinced by Shi’a Iraqis in exile that if only we were to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein, Iraq could become a Light Unto the Muslim Nations, for American policymakers, unaware of the real nature of Iraqi society, and the sectarian and ethnic fissures within it, fell for the line that Ahmad Chalabi and others peddled. They wanted to fall for such a line, of course, wanted to believe that “democracy” could be transplanted to a Muslim country, and wanted to believe, as well, that the combination of “democracy” – what Bush described as “freedom for ordinary moms and dads in the Middle East,” and prosperity, which would surely come if the Americans encouraged all those members of the Iraqi middle class just waiting to give free rein to their entrepreneurial flair under American direction, and this would make Iraq, a “key” country in the Middle East, a grateful and devoted friend of the United States. Nothing was said about the Shi’a-Sunni split, nothing was predicted about a Sunni refusal to acquiesce in the certain loss of power, or in the Shi’a determination to hold onto power that until the American invasion had been held by the Sunnis during the entire history of modern Iraq.
And no one wanted to consider that American interests might be better served by allowing sectarian fissures to fester, rather than to work to diminish them, and that, furthermore, instead of promoting Arab-Kurd reconciliation, or at least the avoidance of hostilities, it might make more sense to support a non-Arab people, the Kurds, in their attempt to extend their autonomy, even possibly to attain an independent state, for the spectacle of a non-Arab Muslim people successfully throwing off the Arab yoke could prove salutary for the 80% of the world’s Muslims who are not Arabs, and who might be made to understand that despite the universalist claims of Islam, the treatment by Arabs of non-Arab Muslims, and many of the practices that Muslims adopt, demonstrate clearly that Islam is a vehicle for Arab supremacism. And the recognition that this is so might make Islam slightly less appealing, or at least more vulnerable to attack, among those 80% of the world’s Muslims who are not Arabs, and do not have an ethnic identity, ‘Uruba, or Arabness, that reinforces Islam.
No, as in Afghanistan, so in Iraq, the subject not to be mentioned was Islam. American soldiers were taught nothing about Islam, and it was only here and there, as in an Arabic class taught by a Jordanian Christian in Tikrit, that some American soldiers were exposed to virulent denunciations of Islam.
The American military went out of its way not to make clear to its soldiers just what the ideology of Islam inculcated, which might, had it been understood, have made the troops more intelligently wary, but would at the same time, if the lessons about Islam had been thoroughly understood, would also have made the American effort in Iraq and Afghanistan seem more obviously foolish to those asked to conduct that war. So they were not taught.
And the entire premise of both wars was that in each country there was something called an “insurgency” and, for some of the Leavenworth colonels who were said to form such an impressive Brains Trust for General Petraeus, there were also said to be “laws” that governed “insurgencies.” Foir example, we were treated to the information that, “in general, insurgencies last about ten years.” This was a ludicrous conclusion, one whose silliness can be seen if, for example, we solemnly declare that “our research shows that, on average, civil wars last 12.7 years” or “our research shows that, on average, wars last 11.2 years.” Such notions offer a false arithmetic certainty. They ignore all kinds of things, but the biggest thing of all that is ignored is that, in Iraq and Afghanistan, the people we thought we were fighting were Muslims, and the people whom we were aiding were also Muslims, if of a slightly less virulent or fanatical brand – though even this does not adequately describe the situation in Iraq, where now Sunnis, and now Shi’a, of different kinds and with different interests, seemed to be the most dangerous enemy of the Americans, and their goals. While the Shi’a were still not certain that they would have control of the country, they were the least difficult to deal with. When some of the Sunni Arabs believed that they had more to gain by collaborating with the Americans, and in any case welcomed all the money and weapons the Americans could give them to fight Al Qaeda (which had made the mistake of attacking local Sunni Arabs), understanding full well that that money and those weapons could be used later on against the Shi’a or, if necessary, against the Americans themselves, they were perfectly wiling to collaborate, in tribal allegiance temporarily assigned to “The Awakening,” and this was misinterpreted by the Americans as a great strategic achievment, when it represented merely the temporary rental of some allies who, for reasons of their own quite different from ours, were willing to fight Al Qaeda in Iraq.
The Americans never allowed themselves to see their task in Iraq and Afghanistan as connected to a larger effort, that effort seen best as a war of self-defense, not by America alone, but by all the non-Muslim nations, against those promoting Jihad. There was a lot of talk about the “center” of the “war against terrorism” – first that “center” was Afghanistan, and then that “center” moved to Iraq, and then that center moved back to Afghanistan, and then it was located hovering somewhere between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and lately we read that perhaps the “center” has shifted to Yemen – or perhaps to Somalia, or somewhere else. It never was suggested that the very idea of a single “center” for Islamic terrorism – or, still more obviously, for those conducting Jihad through other instruments, such as deployment of the Money Weapon, campaigns of Da’wa, and demographic conquest – made no sense. It showed a misunderstanding that the problem was not a “failed state” here, or a malignant regime there, but rather, the ideology of Islam, its appeal, its demands and pressures, that never let up, on non-Muslims, whether those non-Muslims lived in countries dominated by Islam, or whether they lived in countries that had always been peopled by, and developed by, non-Muslims who had, in an excess of negligent enthusiasm for the Idols of the Age, Tolerance and Diversity, had without too much thought, allowed milions of Muslims to settle within their borders. There is no “center” for Islamic terrorism, and no “center” for those who use other, even more effective, because less attention-getting, instruments of Jihad, in order to promote the Cause of Islam. as connected to the world-wide march of Islam, a march – or a Jihad, rather – made possible not because of any changes in the ideology of Islam, but in the ability of Muslims to conduct, or think they could conduct, Jihad against non-Muslims everywhere.
Those changes were threefold. First, there was the money that Muslim peoples, incapable of creating modern economies and thus of becoming rich otherwise, received because so many Muslim states sat on large reserves of oil and natural gas. Those countries received tens of billions of dollars even before the quadrupling of oil prices in 1973. And since 1973, the Muslim members of OPEC have received more than thirteen trillion dollars, without having to lift a finger for any of it, for it was solely the result of an accident of geology. That money has been spent on vast arsenals, and for some countries, on projects to attain weapons of mass destruction. It has been spent to promote Islam, by paying for thousands or tens of thousands of mosques and madrasas all over the world, including the non-Islamic world, and for academic departments and whole institutions carefully vetted by Arab donors, to make sure that the people hired and promoted agree with and promote propaganda on behalf of Islam and Muslims. And some of the money has gone to pay Western hirelings who help in the propaganda effort – businessmen, journalists, and present or former political figures – whose work on behalf of Islam and of Muslim causes has also been paid for quite handsomely. In the entire 70-odd years of its existence, the Soviet Union spent about $8 billion on propaganda throughout the world. Saudi Arabia alone has over the past 30 years spent about $100 billion on furthering the Cause of Islam.
But the Americans, and those who followed the American lead, insisted on speaking and thinking about their response as a “war” in only the conventional sense – that is, a matter of taking on discrete groups, first Al Qaeda, and then the Taliban, and using such instruments of war as soldiers, guns, tanks, helicopters, planes, drones. And in addition to that, the belief grew, as it became clear that the recipients of all our solicitousness, and all our fabulous generosity, as we lavished tens of billions upon some of the poorest people in the world, for some reason was not reciprocated by any gratitude, and for some reason – one that no one could quite figure out or discuss intelligently – we had not won loyalty, or even friendship, and instead of being grateful, when anything went wrong, or goods and services far beyond what the locals had ever enjoyed or had any right to expect were not delivered, it was the Americans and other Westerners who were blamed.
Unused to thinking about Islam as an ideology, because it is called a “religion” and because most Americans treat anything called a “religion” with respect, the Bush Administration preferred to make war, in Afghanistan, on what it took to be a small group of “extremists” who had “hijacked a great religion.” Exaclty how it had hijacked that great religion, exactly what the beliefs of the members of Al Qaeda were, and what textual authority they had concocted or counterfeited to rely on, to think and act as they did, was never ever discussed. We were simply supposed to assume that this was so, and everyone from Tony Blair to George Bush insisted that Islam was a great religion, a splendid inspiration, a religion of peace and tolerance, and so on and so idiotically forth.
So what did the American government then do? Instead of standing back, and analyzing why it was so natural for the people in Iraq (not “the Iraqi people”) and the people in Afghanistan (not the “Afghan people”) to find fault with, to resent, the Americans, and for quite a few of them to begin to forget what it was they had hated (in Afghanistan) about the Taliban, but to find the Taliban newly-appealing, or in Iraq to forget how much they had hated Saddam Hussein, and for Sunnis he was once again their late lamented champion, and the Shi’a never showed the gratitude Americans expected they would for freeing them from Saddam Hussein, but rather, once they had secured their hold on power and no longer needed the Americans, treated them with mistrust and hostility. Only the Kurds in Iraq seemed to be genuinely friendly to the Americans, unlike either the Sunni or the Shi’a Arabs. There are two explanations for this, but only the first explanation has ever been mentioned, and then only very occasionally. And that explanation has to do with the protection offered by the Americans for the Kurds, ever since 1991, when American planes monitored the airspace over northern Iraq, and interdicted that space to the planes of Saddam Hussein. That allowed the Kurds a dozen years, from 1991 t0 2003, to develop their autonomy. And since 2003 the Kurds have been delighted that the Americans removed Saddam Hussein, their cruelest if not their only enemy. Secondly, they know that if an independent Kurdistan were to have a chance, it would have to rely on American diplomatic and military support. But that other part of the explanation for relative Kurdish friendliness was never mentioned.
But this war against “violent extremists” would have a special component, one that a number of military men talked excitedly about with great self-consciousness, as if it were a remarkably new idea. And that extra component was to accompany fighting, through traditional military means, Al Qaeda in Iraq and Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, with a great effort to “win hearts and minds” of the locals. And the ways to win over those hearts and those minds, it was felt, was not by appealing to any common effort, or view of the world that we shared with them and that neither of us shared with those horrible “violent extremists” we had come to fight and allowed ourselves to believe were our common enemy, as antipathetic to the local Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, and for the same reasons, as they were to us, but rather through bribery. That bribery took many forms, and it was called “reconstruction” as if Iraq and Afghanistan had previously been “constructed’ and only the foreign invaders, in their fighting, had so damaged the infrastructure that it now needed “reconstruction.” This was false, and dangerous, but by no means the worst of the many false and dangerous things that the American government, in its inattention to language and the truth, has permitted.
So fantastic sums have been spent, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars, within a larger military campaign that has cost three trillion dollars, once everything is added up. American pilots have told me of seeing planes land in Iraq and Iraqis themselves being allowed to off-load planefuls of pallets loaded with packets of one-hundred-dollar bills, that money supposedly then to be “distributed” correctly, but those who witnessed these operations had the distinct feeling that a great many of those packets of cash were taken by the Iraqis unloading the money. But which Iraqis pocketed these sums is hardly the point: the point is that the Americans kept lavishing these fantastic amounts in Iraq, and now to a lesser extent in Afghanistan, sometimes directly, and sometimes to pay for projects – water-treatment facilities, electric power plants and power grids, hospitals fully-equipped to Western standards, with Western equipkment, schools for both boys and girls, and so on – all on the theory that this will somehow make the locals like us.
And to this was added another element: the deliberate constraints put on the soldiers, so that they would not fire unless they were absolutely certain that they had been fired on first, and the requirement that fire be withheld if it was likely that civilians might be harmed, which has led to an end, in some cases, of air support, and has made life far more dangerous for American and other Western forces than it has to be, and that it should be. But this is done because local Muslims become enraged when there are civilian casualties. But why shouldn’t they? You may ask.
Here’s why. During World War II the Allies were certainly responsible for the killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians in countries that the Nazis had seized, and even responsible for killing tens of thousands in Italy, in the attempt to dislodge the Germans after Italy had left the war. But that did not mean that the locals were against us, and always in danger of going over to the Germans. Not at all. When the American and British planes bombed a Dutch (or was it Danish?) hospital for orphans, by accident, in a raid meant to destroy the Gestapo headquarters next door, the reaction of the Danish (or was it Dutch?) resistance was to urge the Americans and the British to “keep on coming, don’t stop, keep on coming.”
But in Iraq and Afghanistan, there is no understanding of warfare, or rather the local Muslims insist that the non-Muslim soldiers be held to an impossible standard, and they are quick as well to believe the most obviously fake of atrocity stories, with those atrocities being ascribed to the Americans and other NATO soldiers, and are quick, too, to believe conspiracy theories in which everything that “goes wrong” such as the failure in Iraq of Sunnis to get along with Shi’a or vice-versa – is ascribed to the Americans who are blamed, in the end, for everything: for “ruining” Iraq, for “destroying” Iraq, for “preventing” true national reconciliation, and so on and so idiotically and falsely forth.
Shouldn’t the American military and the civilian leaders have asked themselves why it was that they had to worry so much about the reaction of the locals, why it was so obvious that those, such as the Sunni Arabs in the Awakening Councils, who might turn on a dime and go over to Al Qaeda, or if they were Shi’a to support Moqtada al-Sadr or other Shi’a groups that treated the Americans as the enemy, had implanted in their brains a pre-existing grid upon which the universe could be laid, and on that grid, the enemy was always the infidel.
Even those who hated Al Qaeda, or who in Afghanistan had suffered from, the Taliban, might in a pinch lend support to Al Qaeda or to the Taliban. They might oppose those groups for their attacks on fellow Muslims, but never were they seen as opposing those groups because of their attacks on the Americans or other Infidels. Yet this could never be recognized. Neither our military, nor our civilian leaders, could allow themselves to think in terms of Islam, and what the local Muslims had been inculcated with, had been indoctrinated with, since early childhood. They could not allow themselves to see that Islam explained the coldness toward Infidels, the readiness to find fault with and ascribe blame to Infidels, the willingness to entertain the craziest conspiracy theories about Infidels, the willingness to ignore, or even to secretly take delight in, the attacks by Al Qaeda and the Taliban as long as their targets were the Infidels, the great readiness to play those Infidels for all they were worth, to extract ever more preposterous sums of money, and supplies of weapons, from them, sometimes while pledging a brotherly friendship, pledging it so deeply and sincerely, that the Americans continued to believe in such things, or at least to let such pledges have an effect on, and to modify what should have been a steely resolve not to be fooled by any Muslim blague, by any would-be leader, whether national (Ahmad Chalabi, Mohammad Karzai) or local (the gunga-dinnish local commanders who win the trust of this or that American military man, who may not realize that the local military man is merely trying to impose his will, become a local warlord, with American backing, rather than a true fighter for peace and justice) and so on and so forth.
For the American civilian leadership, and the military so eager not to question what the civilians insist upon, are collaborating in a fiction. In this fiction, most of the Muslims living in Iraq and Afghanistan have been talked about as if they can be considered to be our natural allies, if only we treat them with solicitude and work for good government. It does not matter that Good Government is unlikely to be achieved in a Muslim polity, where seizure of political power is ordinarily the only way to help oneself, one’s family, one’s tribe, one’s group, to wealth, for wealth is not created, but rather is received as manna, either from the sale of oil and gas or other natural resources (as those recently made so much of in Afghanistan), or from what naïve Infidel nation-states are inexhaustibly willing to provide, with much of that aid siphoned off for the corrupt ruling class – as by the military and other rulers in Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, the “Palestinian” Authority.
Meanwhile, along with that little affair in Afghanistan, another target was found. This target was Iraq, a country whose monstrous despot had been in the sights of various Washington scopes since the Gulf War. No one understood that when Saddam Hussein tried to make everyone think he had, or was about to acquire, nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, that was not for the benefit of the West – Saddam Hussein never believed the Americans would attack him, because from his point of view that would not make sense, but in order to prevent Iran, the Islamic Republic of iran, a permanent worry, from doing so. Even today it is unclear to me if the various books on Iraq make this point.
The war in Iraq was made by people who thought, as Paul Wolfowitz did, that it would be over soon, that it would be far cheaper than the cost of continuing to impose sanctions, that those WMD would be found, and a new day would dawn in Iraq because that is what the Iraqis in exile, such as the seductive and meretricious Ahmad Chalabi, kept telling them, and they kept believing him, and other Iraqi exiles, not noticing that all of these exiles turned out to be Shi’a in exile, some of whom had not been in Iraq for nearly fifty Years (Chalabi had last been there in 1958, and left at the age of 14).
What was the goal in Iraq? It was to overturn the aggressive regime of Saddam Hussein, ensure that it would never return, and then to bring, as Bush unforgettably said, “freedom to ordinary moms and dads in the Middle East.” And this in turn would be a model for other Arab states, whose rulers and peoples would not be able to ignore the splendid example of a free and democratic Iraq.
Now there were things wrong with this plan. Practically, in fact, everything.
In the first place, there was the political theory of the democratic West, and the political theory that justifies the Muslim ruler: if he is a good Muslim, and enforces the Will of Allah expressed in the Qur’an, and glossed by the Sunnah.
"Bringing freedom” in the Western sense requires centuries of slow time, to develop a political theory, and to develop those who are capable of seeing themselves, and acting as, citizens rather than as subjects, individuals rather than as insignificant members of a collective.
It also requires a certain ability to engage in economic activity. But in Islam, all wealth comes from capture of the power of the state, which will in turn allow those in political power to distribute the wealth of the state disproportionately to their own families, tribes, sects, ethnic groups. That is what happens in Saudi Arabia, in Sudan, in Iran, in all of the Gulf shieiklets. There is no independent and powerful private sector. Why? Well, because of Islam: 1) hatred of Bid’a, or innovation, and 2) inshallah-fatalism, a belief that Allah can whimsically bestow, and just as whimsically take away, property, so for many it makes sense not to work hard, but to wait for the manna from oil and gas wealth, gained by gaining political power, or to wait for aid from Infidel donors, who give and give and give, and from whom Muslim recipients take, pocketing what they are given without any display or any feeling of gratitude to the donors, but rather a feeling of entitlement, of merely pocketing a kind of Jizyah. And the same mimicking of attitudes can be seen in the behavior of the Infidel donors, who act as if the Arabs and Muslims are somehow entitled to this vast transfer of wealth (beyond the trillions transferred by oil-consuming to oil-producing nations).
What has happened in Iraq, since March 2003?
Well, two trillion dollars has been spent. 4,500 troops have been killed, and about 35,000 severely wounded, so severely that they will require lifetime care. Tens upon tens of billions of dollars have been spent on projects, many of which were entrusted to local contractors who failed to build what they promised, or blew up what they built in order to be paid to build it again, and everywhere there have been fantastic examples of grand theft by the Iraqis, and by local Arabs, such as the overcharging Kuwaitis, who supplied the American army with oil and other services, and who took full advantage of the Americans whenever they could.
What about the new Iraq? Is there a democracy? Oh, there were elections, but is there a democracy in the Western sense? Did people vote as individuals, or as they were told to vote by various leaders? Did they vote based on an Iraqi identity, or on ethnic or sectarian identity? Have the Sunnis reconciled themselves to their loss of power? Have the Shi’a decided to share power and wealth with the Sunnis, or are they determined to hang on to what they have obtained through the American invasion? What about Sistani,the great hope of the American military, the man whom Tom Friedman thought should be given a Nobel Prize, and who so impressed Fouad Ajami and others?
Sistani has now come out for the new Shia coalition between Maliki’s Party and the other largest Shi’a party, that includes Moqtada al-Sadr. And Allawi, a Shi’a who was nonetheless sufficiently non-sectarian to have become, for a time, a Ba’athist, and who ran as the Shi’a who would champion –insofar as they have a champion – of the Sunnis, claims to have won but in fact, he obtained only two votes more than Maliki, and far fewer votes than the two Shi’a parties.
Ask yourself this: if you were a Shi’a Arab, and knew that the Shi’a Arabs constituted at least 60% of the population, while Sunni Arabs made up less than 20%, and if furthermore, you knew that in the entire history of modern Iraq, the Sunnis had always lorded it over the Shi’a, regarding them as inferior, and depriving them of oil revenues that came from wells under Shi’a-populated southern Iraq, what would you be thinking of? Giving up power at last gained, to the fearsome Sunnis? Why? Why would you?
And if you were a Sunni Arab, and had always despised the Shi’a, as many Sunni Arabs do, and had even thought of them almost as Infidels or, as some Sunni clerics in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt have said, as “the worst kind of Infidels,” and if, further, you had been used to ruling over the Shi’a, under one regime or another, ever since the founding of modern Iraq, would you watch with equanimity as the Shi’a arrogated power to themselves, and even after the Americans left, insisted on keeping it? And would you, knowing that under the Sunni-populated regions of Anbar and Diyala there was no oil, and no gas, and so you would forever have to depend on what a permanently-Shi’a government would hand to you, would you stand for it? Would you stand for it if you knew that the Sunnis were by nature more aggressive than the Shi’a, and had in the past, under Saddam Hussein, been able to keep the Shi’a under control (and the Kurds too) by brute force, and there was no reason not to do it again, especially since Iraq, to its north, to its west, to its south and southwest, had Sunni Arab neighbors ready to extend a hand to fellow Sunnis who might go to war against the Shi’a, as they stood for what all Sunnis would see as legitimate Sunni rights – well, wouldn’t you think you had a good chance of succeeding?
And now let us look at present-day Iraq from the viewpoint of the Kurds. Notice how, in discussing the Kurds, no one ever bothers to ask whether they are Sunni or Shi’a, and whether it matters. Well, they are mostly Sunnis, but in truth, it does not matter, or does not matter in the Iraqi context, because the Kurds are far more likely to make common cause with Shi’a Arabs than with the Sunni Arabs who were responsible for massacring 182,000 Kurds in what is called the “Anfal” operation, and no Sunni Arabs, as the writer Kanan Makiya noted, in or out of Iraq ever uttered a syllable of protest about this mass-murder of Kurds by Arabs. For Sunni Arabs have always believed themselves superior to non-Arab Muslims, and we can all agree that Islam is, has been, and will be a vehicle for Arab supremacism, as noted by the late Anwar Shaikh, and that the Arabs have not hesitated to murder Kurds, suppress the Berbers and attempt to prevent them from preserving the Berber language and culture, and in Darfur, mass-murdered black Africans, though with the Kurds, the Berbers, and the black Africans in Darfur, all of those victims of Arab aggression and murder have themselves been Muslims – but Muslims of an inferior kind. Indeed, in Afghanistan, the locals came to hate the Arabs who came with Al Qaeda, because of their ill-concealed contempt for the Afghans, and the ways in which they ordered the Afghans about in their own country. And no doubt Pakistanis working in the Gulf bring back to Pakistan their own tales of mistreatment at the hands of Arabs.
Since February 2004 I have written many articles urging the removal of American forces from Iraq. I thought then, and nothing I have learned since – not about a “successful election,” not about the famous “surge” that changed so many doubters about the war into believers – which I never understood, for what did they now believe in? The stated or implied American goals, as making sense? Which goals? Bringing frerdom to ordinary moms and dads? Keeping Sunnis and Shi’a from killing each other, and urging them instead to make certain compromises so that Iraq could stay intact and become prosperous? Keeping Arabs and Kurds from fighting? How realistic were any of those goals? But even more important, in what way would a stable, and unified, and prosperous Iraq help to weaken what can be called the Camp of Islam? In what way would such an outcome make the countries of Western Europe safer from such instruments of Jihad as the Money Weapon (mosques, madrasas, propaganda), well-targetted campaigns of Da’wa, especially in prisons, and above all, the demographic conquest which Houari Boumediene at the U.N. in 1974, and Qaddafy many times since, and many Muslim clerics too – you can see them at Youtube – have predicted would be the Conquest, the Demogrpahic Conquest, by Muslims, of the countries of the West, that is of Western Europe.
I submit that when the Americans finally leave Iraq, the Shi’a will refuse to relinquish power (to Allawi or to anyone else who might be thought to represent Sunni interests). And any outreach to the Sunnis will be superficial and tepid, and that the Sunni Arabs, in turn, will make preparations to take, with the support of Sunnis outside Iraq, what they believe is theirs by right – that is, a large share of political power, far larger than their numbers would ordinarily entitle them. There will be discord, there will be low-level hostilities. And if we are lucky, the co-religionists of both Sunni and Shi’a Arabs will help both sides, sending volunteers, money (as, during the Iran-Iraq War, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait sent 60- billion dollars to Saddam Hussein for weaponry).
As for the Kurds, why should they, who since 1991 have enjoyed a freedom they never had before, thanks to American air cover that protected them while Saddam Hussein was still n power, and after the American invasion, proved to be far more helpful to, and more trusted by, the Americans, than were the Arabs – give up their dream of independence? They have oil, under Kurdistan. There are perhaps 30-40 million Kurds in the Middle East, spread out between northern Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Anatolia, with a distinctive language and culture.
The friendliness of Kurds toward the Americans is not perfect, and it comes in large part from their recognition that whatever autonomy they possess, and whatever independence they might attain, is due, or would be due, to American support, American aid of all kinds. Furthermore, as with many other non-Arab Muslims, where there is an alternative identity – in this case that of being a “Kurd,” that identity helps to dilute the power of Islam. That is true for Iranians, who are keenly aware of their own pre-Islamic past, and of Turks too, but it is not true of Pakistanis, who have no identity other than that of being Muslims, inhabiting a state created of, by, and for Muslims, Pakistan, the “Land of the Pure.” Pakistani Muslims, and Bangladeshi Muslims, have no interest in pre-Islamic India, in “The Wonder That was India,” they have no interest in their own Hindu or Jain or Buddhist ancestors who were forcibly converted, or converted to avoid intolerable conditions under Muslim masters, to Islam. They have no other identity, and that is why Pakistanis are the Muslims closest in their fanatical faith to the Arabs, whose ethinc identity, Arabness, “Uruba, reinforces Islam so that it even causes some Christian Arabs to adopt the worldview, and promote the geopolitical ambitions, of the Umma, the Community of Believers.
American policy in Iraq has resulted in a colossal squandering of men, money, materiel, and of attention too – we focused on Iraq, and by manically focusing on it for so many years, wasted time that might have been spent coming to grasp the meaning, and the menace, of Islam.
Not quite the same, but almost.
Afghanistan is on the other side of the world, ringed by deserts and mountains and itself full of mountainous terrain, difficult to negotiate. And we rely on an airfield in Kyrgyzstan, and then on trucks to travel through Paksitan, which itself is essentially not an ally but enemy territory, and then through the Khyber Pass. The most difficult supply route in the world. What could happen if somehow the corrupt Karzai regime came to an end? We could keep supplying aid to the Pushtuns, and the Tadzhiks, and the Uzbeks, we could supply aid to Sunnis and to the Shi’a Hazazra. We could build schools, not all of which would be burned down, and water treatment plants, and power plants, and electric grids, and everything else. But so what? What would we have accomplished? How would we have weakened the forces of Jihad, that is, the Camp of Islam?
Al Qaeda can be prevented from re-establishing itself in Afghanistan without any Western troops being permanently stationed there. Nor is any kind of makeover, or any aid of any kind to Afghanistan, required to keep Al Qaeda out. Nor need we bring a factitious “unity” to a country that consists of warring ethnic groups (Tadzhiks, Uzbeks, Pashtuns, Hazaras) and, even within those larger groupings, all kinds of tribal and family enmities that it would be impossible to record or remember and play upon for our own purposes, especially since loyalties can only be rented, not bought, and only most temporarily. Afghanistan – it’s a name, not a country in the Western sense -- has never had a strong central government, and whose tribes and families enjoy making war on one another, and always have done so. That does not require transferring large amounts of wealth to them. It only requires monitoring, with drones and planes, the land area – it would have to be done even if there were hundreds of thousands of American troops in Afghanistan, for they could not possibly patrol the whole vast area, and in monitoring, and being vigilant, creating a new reality that has nothing to do with returning Afghanistan, and the Al Qaeda threat, to the status quo ante. We are not prevented, if we withdraw from Afghanistan, from attacking when and if they are deemed necessary, nor in firing missiles now and again from drones. Some talk and write as if an American withdrawal from Afghanistan would somehow deprive us of the ability or right to ever enter, intermittently, and in minimially invasive fashion, Afghanistan ever again. But why would anyone think this? Of course we can return, whenever we want.
Like Iraq, and for reasons only slightly different, Afghanistan represents a further squandering, of men, money, materiel and, also not to be overlooked, uses up attention by government officials, attention that should be spent on many other things, including far more effective and cheaper means to weaken the Camp of Islam and, therefore, the threat of Jihad.
We need not make mention of China, and its dangerous rapaciousness and nationalism, or about anthropogenic global warming which is still not accepted by many of those who, when it comes to Islam, seem to be unfoolable, but apparently their supply of unfoolability is limited, and they've already given at the office.
If we keep still to the subject of Jihad, we find that the most important theatres of war are areas of the world where American inattention, or the wrong kind (because ill-informed) attention, threatens countries far more important to the West than does any conceivable outcome in Muslim Iraq or Muslim Afghanistan or Muslim Pakistan. These are Infidel lands where Muslims are on the march, and where many Infidels outside, and some inside, show a lack of understanding of what is going on, and seem ready to meet Muslim demands, and thereby to help swell the sense of Muslim triumphalism.
Let’s start with the Jihad against Israel. Slow Jihadists and Fast Jihadists, who differ only on matters of tactics and timing. The war has no solution, not a one-state, two-state, n-state solution. We should stop thinking naively in terms of “problems” and concomitant “solutions.” There is no “solution” to Jihad, and certainly not to the Jihad against Israel. There is something else, which is managing a situation, making a threat less threatening, making it such that open warfare is unlikely to occur. The way is clear: deterrence can work, and the Muslims can be forced to explain their inaction, as they have in the past, by relying on the doctrine of Darura.
Darura means “Necessity.” The concept can be invoked, for example, to justify eating pork if a Muslim has nothing else to eat. And “Necessity” can justify not going to war which would otherwise be compulsory. Muslims do not make open war on Israel when they think they cannot win, and right now they think they cannot win. But if they ever come to believe that they can win, or can win without suffering such retaliatory damage as to make it unwise, Arab rulers will have no excuse not to do so – even if they dimly suspect that they won’t win, that damage will be severe.
An Arab or Iranian leader – at least in the Islamic Republic of Iran– needs to explain why he does not go to war. Right now no explanation is necessary: Israel is too strong, and understood to be too strong. But what if Israel is reduced in size? Then what appears on the map to be a ridiculously and hopelessly tiny country then seems to have become even more obviously impossible to defend, then the likelihood of an Arab attack grows. “Darura” may be invoked to justify not waging open warfare on an unsubmissive Infidel enemy if that Infidel enemy remains too strong. So “Darura” can be considered the doctrine invoked when Deterrence, by Infidels, that is the threat of inflicting far greater damage on a Muslim attacker than the Muslim attacker can himself inflict, is successful. Think of “Darura” then as simply a name we can use for Deterrence. For if Israel is not only stronger, but overwhelmingly so, and seen to be so, then there will be no war. There will never be real peace. That is impossible. But so what? The present situation is not bad, and perfectly manageable. Without permanent control of the “West Bank” Israel’s position is NOT manageable, war is more likely, for Arab leaders – including those who succeed Mubarak in Egypt, and King Abdullah in Jordan – will not be able to resist. The temptation of a gang-up will be too great, especially since the Arabs have never really known defeat as Germany and Japan knew it, with the ruination of their countries, lying in smoldering ruins. That Israel has never inflicted, and never wanted to inflict.
What about the other great theatre of Jihad, at present conducted through many different instruments other than terrorism or qitaal – that is, Western Europe? Here the problem was entirely avoidable, but not avoided. It came about because Western leaders, and members of the media, simply assumed that there was no problem with Muslim immigrants, no problem with the ideology of Islam. Now, with some 20-30 million Muslims in the West, they know better, but it is a little late. The Arabs and Muslims like to claim that they were “brought in” to “do the work Europeans wouldn’t do.” This is, with one exception, almost entirely false. That one exception is West Germany, and there, during the economic miracle of Ludwig Ehrhard, Turkish males were encouraged to come, to work as gastarbeiter, juest workers, to send money home, and then, it was assumed, they would leave. Not only did they not leave, but they ultimately were allowed to bring their wives – how many is unclear – and their many many children, and were allowed to stay, and the results you can see in any large German city.
But elsewhere, it simply is not true, and has to be repeatedly and firmly rejected, that the Pakistanis were “needed” to open grocery stores and news stands, or that the Algerian Arabs were desperately needed by the French or the Moroccans by the Spanish, or Moroccans and Turks by the Dutch, or Moroccans and Kurds and Turks and other Arabs by Denmark, Sweden, Norway, or Egyptians and Libyans by the Italians. They were not invited in, but they were ineffectively kept out, and they keep coming, by hook and by crook, managing to arrive, where instead of filling a felt economic need, they tend with their plural wives – all of them deliberately uneducated, and mere breeders of children --- to become burdens on the state, taking advantage of every conceivable benefit, free health care at a level they could never obtain in a Muslim land, free education, of a kind they could never obtain in a Muslim land, free or heavily subsidized housing, and so on. Polls suggest that most young Arabs in North Africa and the Middle East would leave their own lands for Europe in a minute, if they could, that such emigration is their fondest wish. It is the task of the peoples of Western Europe to keep them out, for unlike refugees from the Nazis and the Communists, who came to warn those who gave them refuge about Nazism and Communism, those who flee the miseries of Muslim lands do not recognize the cause of that misery – Islam itself – and come bearing Islam in their mental baggage, undeclared, then unpack it, to the great woe of those among whom they have come to live, and whose lands they regard as, in a sense, belonging by right to them, as Believers, as the Best of Peoples, and only temporarily to the Infidels who live in them. They are interested in the land, the territory, and all of its wealth, but have no idea what it was that created that wealth, or allowed for good government.
In Western Europe, two things can be noted: the first is that the problem with Muslim immigrants is unique and does not occur with any other immigrant group, not Hindus, not Chinese, not non-Muslim black Africans, not Latin American Indians – only with Muslims. And second, the great problem of Muslims is not limited to this or that country, but is observable all over Europe, in every country, and the effects and the distress are most noticeable in two small countries that once upon a time elevated Tolerance and Diversity to the gods of a secular religion, but whose citizens have learned, to their great sorrow, that these ideas have been used to import and protect the bearers, and disseminators, of Intolerance, and Islam itself is the greatest enemy of Diversity – wishing to make the whole world one uninterrupted Dar al-Islam – in human history.
Which now brings me to what, instead of those wasteful wars, and that sentimental messianism, of Iraq, and to a lesser extent Afghanistan, should be done - not to bring “victory” in the war of self-defense against the Jihad now visited, in every sense, upon us, because no “victory” is possible – but, rather, to “redimension” (cut down to size) the problem, to make it less dangerous, to bring down the level of risk. How is this to be done?
In the first place, through self-education and through dissemination of what you have learned about Islam to others. They don’t have to know everything about Islam, but they have to know something. And bookish knowledge should be supplemented by an understanding of Muslim behavior, and how it reflects what Islam inculcates. You don’t have to know a specialized vocabulary, though such words as “Jihad” and “dhimmi” and “taqiyya” are useful to understand, to define for others, and to employ. One should never be at a loss in a room full of taqiyya-and-tu-quoque masters, always able to see through, and to help others see through, the blague, the nonsense and lies, however subtle or oblique may be its presentation.
And then what? Then one would see that the war of self-defense against Islam is primarily an ideological war, and we have to be sure of ourselves, sure that whatever our own great faults, or the faults of our societies, they are as nothing compared to the death-in-life that Islam presents. We need to grasp what Islam teaches, and what the consequences are of growing up in societies suffused with Islam, and what happens to individual liberties, to the enterprise of science, to the practice of art, when one is raised up in a society where everything militates against free and skeptical inquiry, where as a consequence the craziest things, the most absurd conspiracy theories, are deeply believed not, as in the West, by a handful of cranks, but in the Islamic lands, believed by a great many, and disbelieved only by those who are regarded as a handful of cranks.
I maintain that while leaving Muslim states alone, and hoping that their own sectarian, and ethnic and even economic resentments and hostilities will, in the absence of immediate Infidels upon whom to vent one’s wrath, will develop naturally, and that this would be a good thing. The best thing to have happened to the West in the last twenty years was the Iran-Iraq War, and from our point of view, it should have gone on forever, weakening Iran, and Iraq, and using up billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the U.A.E., and for eight years, from 1980 to 1988, keeping the Islamic Republic of Iran busy – since that war has ended, we have seen that the Islamic Republic has had time to start its nuclear project, and to bring it almost to fruition, while supporting terrorist attacks from Paris to Buenos Aires, and now backing Hezbollah in Lebanon, a threat both to the Jews of Israel and to the Christians, and not only the Christians, in Lebanon.
We should welcome, and do nothing to discourage, the sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shi’a in Iraq, and recognize that the aggression and violence, and inability to compromise, that one now notices, is a result of what Islam does – for the Qur’an, the Hadith, the Sira are full of violence. Muslims are taught that there are only two outcomes: the Victor and the Vanquished. It is Muslims who will ultimately be the Victors, and their enemies, the Infidels, who will be the Vanquished. But these categories, and the ways of thought and behaviors that result from such categories, do not disappear when no Infidels are on the horizon, but only fellow Muslims. The same attitude, the same refusal to compromise, though temporary and deceitful bargains may be struck, occurs when one set of Muslims opposes another set – say, Arabs against Kurds or Berbers or black Africans in Darfur, or Sunni Arabs against Shi’a Arabs, or Sunni Pakistanis against Shi’a Pakistanis. That’s not to be deplored. That’s to be observed, and its workings out regarded with grim satisfaction.
In one way we can help things along. That is by encouraging the translation and widespsread dissemination of texts, such as the book by Anwar Shaikh, “Islam: The Arab National Religion,” that show all the ways in which Islam has been and remains, a vehicle for Arab supremacism. We know those ways: the requirement that the Qur’an be read in Arabic, the requirement that one look to seventh-century Arabs, and their mores, as a permanent guide to life, even for non-Arabs living in the twenty-first century, the turning Mecca-wards, that is towards the Hejaz in western Arabia, five times a day, the frequent taking on of an Arab name, the making of Arab history one’s study while the history of one’s own people and land – see Pakistan – is frequently dismissed, forgotten, of no interest. All of this can, if pointed out, be hard to ignore, because it happens to be so obviously and vividly true. Why the hell are people wandering around Pakistan with Arab names, ignoring the history of India, Bharat, and even claiming to be “sayids” that is descendants of the family of the Prophet? It is as if black Africans in Nigeria claimed descent from King Arthur, and wore suits and shoes in the jungle – a comic theme adumbrated in “Mr. Johnson” by Joyce Cary, but a tragic one if truly believed and acted upon by many.
While we should practice non-invasive military surgery –that is, monitoring from the skies and from afar, and from time to time, bombing terrorist training camps, or groups, but whenever we choose to do so, and without sending over large numbers of troops, difficult to maintain, and never again making the mistake of thinking we must win Muslim hearts and Muslim minds through the lavishing of aid and the “construction” (called falsely “reconstruction”) of their countries, which are the way they are, in large part, because of Islam itself.
That is what should be done abroad.
In our own countries, aside from the obvious change in immigration policies, so that all Muslim immigration is halted, and naturalization will in the future include a much larger examination of the true beliefs of those who are asked to swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution, and with a provision that citizenship will be stripped from those who perjured themselves in swearing such an oath, and then to point out that the Shari’a flatly contradicts the American Constitution in both letter and spirit, as the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights, flatly contradicts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, of which it pretends to be merely an oh-so-slight “Islamic” variant.
But most important is for us, the Non-Muslims of this world, to grasp all the ways that Islam itself explains the political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral failings and failures of Muslim polities and Muslim peoples. We should explain how the emphasis on blind submission to Allah’s will has consequences for attitudes toward the Ruler. We should explain the Muslim political theory that relies not on mere man-made expressions of desire – they should not count – but rather on the will expressed by Allah in the Qur’an. There is a reason why almost no Muslim states are democracies, and so many so naturally despotic.
In economic matters, we can point out that the largest transfer of wealth in human history – some thirteen trillion dollars since 1973 alone, to the Muslim oil states, simply because they sat on reserves of oil, and not because they did anything to earn such fantastic sums, has not resulted in modern economies. They are all still dependent almost entirely on the oil and gas revenues, and furthermore, they rely on vast armies of wage-slaves from the non-Muslim lands, for their doctors, teachers, petroleum engineers, for their technical advisers of every sort, their pilots, their mechanics, and it is to the West that the Arabs who can afford to go for health care, and for their children’s education, and for practically everything that they need, for they produce nothing, they make nothing. In Dubai, there are 250,000 natives and more than a million non-natives who are the ones who make the economy, such as it is, go – and the same is true in the other emirates, in Kuwait, in Qatar, in Saudi Arabia. In Libya Qaddafy can’t even build roads, and keeps trying to blackmail the Italians into doing so. Yet the Arabs and Muslims act as if they possess real economies. They do not, and they do not, in large part, because of Islam. The Muslim hostility toward innovation, bid’a, discourages new ways of doing things, discourages local entrepreneurs. And the dislike of work, that Wafa Sultan has noted among Arabs, who have a razzia-mentality, the mentality of the desert raiders, is perhaps attributable not only to the model of seventh-century Arabs who looted for profit, rather than farmed themselves, has something to do with inshallah-fatalism. One has only to compare, by the way, the unemployment rates, and rates of incarceration for crimes, of Muslims and non-Muslims, in Western Europe, to see further evidence of the truths Wafa Sultan offers.
Then there are what may be called the social failures. Societies in which women are kept as sex slaves, or breeders, not allowed lives of their own, at every turn thwarted and kept under male control, are not what we regard as acceptable. And the mistreatment of all non-Muslims – whether Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, or Christians throughout the Muslim world – has led to an outflow of these Hindus, and of these Christians. And since non-Muslims have been a source of economic stimulus and cultural vivacity – there are Egyptian film-makers and writers who lament the disappearance of “old” Alexandria and Cairo – that is, the cities where the Greeks, Italians, Jews, Armenians, all lived and fructified an Egypt that has become more and more boringly monochromatic, and even the Copts, under assault, are made to feel, in their own country (they are the truest and most loyal descendants of the Egyptians, the ones who refused to be either Islamize or arabize, though of course they must use the Arabic language) are feeling marginalized. The movie “The Yacoubian Building” is about a different Egypt, a more secular and interesting Egypt, the Egypt of the 1930s, 1940s, even 1950s, before, under the supposedly secular Nasser – underneath that secularism there was still the firm subsoil of Islam – when the Greeks, Italians, Jews had their property stolen, and were booted out.
The intellectual failures come from the indifference, in Islam, to everything but Islam. Oh, it’s true that somewhere along the line Muhammad is said that Muslims should take knowledge from everywhere, but this single quote is not enough to undo the anti-intellectual smothering atmosphere of Islam – for there is Islam as the final truth, and all else is only important insofar as it can help the triumph of Islam. And that means that fanatical Muslims are perfectly willing to contemplate study in the West of the sciences, because these, they think, will help them to learn the mysteries of military technology that have eluded them, and that is what they want to find out about, or like A. Q. Khan, to simply steal military secrets wholesale. They have no interest in study of how the brain works, how life began, how the universe began, the structure of DNA, the nature of the cosmos. That’s all been dealt with, and for all time, in the Qur’an. But how to build WMD –now that is knowledge worth having, whether acquired in East or West.
We have all read about that U.N. Report on the squalid intellectual state of Arab countries – the one written by those described as “Arab intellectuals.” The report offers statistics as evidence for the lack of intellectual curiosity about all kinds of things, as reflected in the fact that all 22 of the Arab countries manage to translate a mere 330 books a year (many of them junk novels, or military technology, no doubt), that is fewer books than tiny and impoverished Greece manages to translate for the profit and pleasure of Greeks, every year. But what the Arab authors did not do is compare, for example, translation in Pakistan with translation in India, that is to examine other Muslim lands. And what they fail to mention, fail even to hint at, is the role of Islam in discouraging free and skeptical inquiry. For Muslims, Islam is supposed to contain everything, and the rest is merely a footnote, possibly to be consulted when weaponry is needed, but otherwise unnecessary. There is no curiosity about the history, the culture, of non-Muslim lands and peoples, nor about their art, their science, their political theory. That curiosity originates in the West – the same West that Muslims are taught to despise.
Now why should it matter if we understand the reasons for the failures of Muslim societies? First of all it will give us confidence to continue to defend ourselves, and not to give in on this or on that, when Muslims make demands. It will make us much more resolute in our determination not to yield, and not to allow Muslims to undo us from within. It will strengthen the resolve to change our immigration policy toward Muslims, and to refuse to change our own ways to accommodate Muslim demands, but we will, rather, wish all over the West to make our countries less generous and welcoming to those who do not wish us well, and cannot wish us well.
And even more important, if the relating of these many failures to Islam is widely discussed, then those who exist in the prison of Dar al Islam will have to overhear us, and in so doing, will ultimately have to try to rebut what we say. But what we say will be true, and will be impossible to rebut, and the attempts to do so will be clumsy and unconvincing, and more and more of those who are capable of thought, within the world of Islam, will be forced to recognize, possibly at first only for themselves, the truth of what we point out. This will distress and demoralize large numbers of people, who will have to begin to question Islam and its wonderfulness, if it turns out that Islam explains their own backwardness, a backwardness exhibited less in those Muslim countries, such as Turkey, that managed over many decades to constrain Islam as a political and social force (and as Turkey backslidees into Islam, many parts of Turkish society, and even its economy, will suffer).
This is what must be done. Not boots on the ground. Not surges. Not winning of hearts and minds. None of it. Just an understanding – a deep understanding – of Islam and its effects on the minds, and societies, of those who, through no fault of their own, have been born into, and raised up within, it.
The theme of this talk was what was to be done about Islam, meaning, how best might the dangers of Jihad, pursued by adherents of Islam world-wide, through the use of many different instruments, be diminished because, as I noted, there is no “solution” to Jihad, but merely the possibility of reducing its threat to more manageable proportions.
I reviewed with you the twin follies of Iraq and Afghanistan, and suggested that the best way to contain Islam was not to invade, not to conquer, not to try to win Muslim hearts or minds, but simply to take the doctrines of Islam seriously, and to understand that they cannot be reinterpreted away, and so we should act to defend ourselves, and in defending ourselves to husband our resources, by exploiting, cleverly and relentlessly, the pre-existing fissures – sectarian, ethnic,and economic – within the world of Islam, with special attention to disseminating among the 80% of the world’s Muslims who are not Arabs that Islam, despite its universalist claims, is – as Anwar Shaikh called it – “the Arab national religion.” It is not hard to show all the ways in which the practices that Islam reinforce the use of Islam as a vehicle for Arab supremacism. That should be a major theme in the exploitation of those identifiable fissures I have discussed.
And the second point I wished to make is that if we study Islam, we begin to understand all the ways that Islam itself explains the failures of Muslim societies, and that the explanations of those political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral failures are no convincing, and so impossible to rebut, that once stated, and re-stated, and re-stated, by Infidels, speaking among themselves, Muslims will overhear the discussion, and be forced to respond, and will be unable to do so convincingly.
That’s what, answering the question asked by my title “Islam: What Is To Be Done?” I think should be done.
Perhaps, if you have read this far, you will find reasons to agree.
The latest news, that is, aside from the mass riots of hooligans at Trocadero last night -- riots by "casseurs" poorly contained by an unprepared police force . Those hooligans -- whose origins I will leave you to guess - may be compared to others at Trocadero, in a not-so-distant past, when, during World War II, at the Musee de l'Homme (then at Trocadero), a Resistance group, mainly of Russians and Jewish immigrants, was founded. A list of those discovered and shot by the Germans used to be on the wall at Trocadero; among the names was that of Boris Vilde (q.v.). Quite a different group of immigrants from those who now have been allowed to flood into France, but offer no loyalty, no affection, and nothing of value to the French, unless you count the couscous.
Mr Neather said the policy was designed to ‘rub the Right’s nose in diversity’. He said there was ‘a driving political purpose: that mass immigration was the way that the Government was going to make the UK truly multicultural’.
Senior Labour figures have been reluctant to concede they deliberately engineered the influx of migrants who have transformed communities over the past decade.
But, at a rally for the Blairite think-tank Progress, Lord Mandelson said: ‘In 2004 when as a Labour government, we were not only welcoming people to come into this country to work, we were sending out search parties for people and encouraging them, in some cases, to take up work in this country.’
Tory chairman Grant Shapps said: ‘Peter Mandelson’s candid admission that Labour were purposefully letting immigration spiral out of control when in government is yet another damning indictment on their record on immigration.’
Sir Andrew Green of Migration Watch said: ‘This is an astonishing admission from the highest level that Labour’s mass immigration policy was entirely deliberate. It will be a very long time before their own working class supporters thank them for the enormous changes that have been imposed on their communities.’
In the course of research for my study of Islam I have naturally had to familiarize myself with the Western reception, perception, and sometimes misperception of the beliefs and practices of the Muslims. All types of texts swam into my ken. Only a representative sampling need be mentioned here. There was the early guide of Richard Turberville, The Alcoran Alembicked, or, A Short Guide to the Religion of the Turks (1688). There was A Brief and True Relation of a Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, with a description of Stony Arabia (1704), by the pious antiquarian Francis Gascoyne. In 1746 there was Captain Edward Danvers’ A Voyage to Padanaram, in three volumes octavo; volumes 1 and 2 being devoted to descriptions of the ports-of-call visited along the way by The Bonaventure, the East Indiaman under his command, with Volume 3 finally making room for “the manners and customs of the Mahometans.” There was Col. James Withycombe’s Journal of a Residence in Ispahan, 1824 and 1825, together with An Embassy to Tehran and Account of a Visit to Qom, published in 1827. There was Lady Hester Wanhope’s 1846 Letters from Arabia Felix and the Hadramaut. There was Evariste Cinqpère, nom de plume (chosen to avoid confusion with a near-homonymous novelist) of Evariste Bernardin de Saint-Père, whose Essai sur les maronites et les drouses du Mont Liban en Grande Syrie, avec aperçus historiques et chronologiques, appeared in 1856. There was Donato Donati’s Vita, Morte, e Miracoli di Mahometo, the first Western attempt to question the received version of the Prophet’s life, in 1873. There were the pioneering Leiden lectures of Professor van Beck en Donk, published in English as Authority and Isnad in Early Islam. There was the expanded version of Sir Montague Goldsmid’s Göttingen doctoral thesis, which first appeared in 1890 as Das Leben von Muhammad and, in English, as The Life of Mohammed in 1893, a more respectful account than that of the agnostic Donati. There was the three-volume study by Prof. A. S. Kizevetter, on the relations between Islam and the Mongols in Medieval Rus (Zolotaya Orda i Islam v istorii srednevekovii Rossii) which appeared in a sumptuous edition (Aux dépens du Fonds Demidoff), only 400 copies printed, with the French en face, and the Russian en regard, in 1898. In 1904, as an appendix to the second edition of his well-received A Pisgah Sight of Palestine, the Rev. George Underwood included a startling excursus on “Secret Jewry Among the Midianites” about certain tribes of the northern Hijaz. A Whirlwind Tour of Mevlevistan, by the intrepid Canadian adventurer (himself a whirl of Breton, Scots, and Cree Indian) Hector St. John Breakhart, whose cisatlantic public loved him for the dangers he had passed, and who once dismissed the rigors and slopes of the Hindu Kush as “quelques arpents de neige,” appeared in 1913. In 1918, young lads were gladdened when Ralph Dunn (pseudonym of DeCourcey Tagliaferro Dickinson) published, as his valedictory volume in the celebrated Crisscrossing the Continents series, Jaunts inJalalabad, starring the Dunbar boys (Frank and John).
How curious about other creeds those pioneers Turberville and Gascoyne had been, how inquisitive Capt. Danvers and Col. Withycombe, how acute in her sensibilities that English lady of quality Hester Wanhope, how wittily acerb that historian à ses heures Evariste Cinqpère, how skeptical that republican veteran of anticlerical struggles the Tuscan patriot and civic-minded publisher of La Patria Donato Donati, how scrupulous in their weighing of evidence those exemplars of European scholarship at its height -- the Dutchman van Beck en Donk, the Anglo-German Goldsmid, the Russian Kizevetter, how brimful of innocent faith the Reverend Underwood, how daring and undaunted the Canadian Hector Breakhart, how full of Yankee ingenuity those Dunbar boys, Frank and John!
The end of an article that once again upholds the false -- and dangerous -- distinction between "Islam" and something Pipes calls "Islamism." He apparently cannot figure out all the ways that Islam can be, not "defeated" but weakened sufficiently, in both the lands of the Infidels, and within the Camp of islam in Dar al-Islam -- beginning with the exploitation of the pre-existing fissures, sectarian, ethnic, and economic, and continuing with a deliberate campaign, among Infidels, to explain to ourselves how Islam is a vehicle for Arab imperialism, and how it is Islam that explains the many failures -- political, economic, social, intellectual, and moral -- of societies and peoples suffused with Islam. Not being able to figure these things out, or not being willing to accept the suggestions made by others or perhaps unaware of those suggestions, made repeatedly over the past decade, Pipes continues to harp on this business of "moderate Islam" being the "solution." The very word "solution" is misplaced. There is no "solution" to the threat of Islam. There is the possibility of diminishing that threat, of weakening the Camp of Islam and diminishing the hold of Islam on the minds of many -- especially non-Arabs -- of its adherents, through a hundred sundry ways, and I've set out those hundred sundry ways again and again.
Here is the last paragraph of Pipes on "Islam and Islamism" which just appeared in The Washington Times:
"Our killer question is "How do you propose to defeat Islamism?" Those who make all Islam their enemy not only succumb to a simplistic and essentialist illusion but they lack any mechanism to defeat it. We who focus on Islamism see World War II and the Cold War as models for subduing the third totalitarianism. We understand that radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution. We work with anti-Islamist Muslims to vanquish a common scourge. We will triumph over this new variant of barbarism so that a modern form of Islam can emerge."
The Turkish judiciary has become a weapon for settling scores, silencing opponents, restructuring Turkish society as an AKP party-state, and undermining secularism. That is the true nature of Erdogan's program.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, born on February 26, 1954, comes from a shabby Istanbul waterfront neighborhood where children grew up between rusting ships and old tires. He sold snacks on the street as a youth, to help his family. He called himself "the black Turk." He emerged, a parvenu in Istanbul's elegant, secular social strata, as a much-feared religious advocate for the masses. He is now married to Emine, with whom he has four children: two sons, and two daughters. His daughters, like his wife, wear headscarves (hijab).
Erdogan graduated from a religious high school, was a semiprofessional soccer player for various teams, worked in municipal bus services, and served as an accountant and manager in a food company. He completed his education in business administration and served as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998 – but was then tried and sentenced for anti-secular incitement, and spent four months in prison. In 2001 he founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP), which swept the Turkish elections of 2002 in a landslide majority.
Since then, Erdogan has turned Turkey upside-down. The Islamist outsider, the extreme religious believer, the failed soccer player, now determines the future of his country. He is the most powerful Turk since the legendary founder of the republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. His history is that of someone who, in seeking to change his country, was transformed from a fighter to a reformer, and then a ruler.
In 2002 people in Turkey already seem to have viewed Erdogan as an "alpha male;" but his mastery is now obvious. Assistants and advisers crowd around him, bowing and scraping. Does he actually need their support to remain standing?
He had claimed to be seeking "Anglo-Saxon" secularism and was quoted in the London Economist in 2001, saying "I am not an Islamist – I'm just an observant Muslim and that's my own business." That was the genius of Erdogan: to profess loyalty to secularism while, once in authority, acting with determination to dismantle it.
Turkey, he repeated in political speech after speech providing the early basis of his appeal, was administered badly. His party's predecessors in government, in 2000, faced a deep economic crisis. Erdogan argued, "We want a Western standard of living and to join the European Union."
This requires reforms. The old secular elite challenged Erdogan from the time of his rhetorical excess as mayor of Istanbul in 1998, while the army warned the AKP openly in 2007 that it was on dangerous ground and could be removed. Nationalist groups summoned mass demonstrations, which the secular media applauded. The chief public prosecutor attempted to ban the AKP and its prime minister in 2008. The attempt failed and left Erdogan more powerful than before. The military delivered a more subtle series of hints about their willingness to act against the Islamists during the approach to the election of 2011, but was ignored.
Erdogan cultivates the art of provocation, as seen in his confrontational rhetoric toward Israel and Germany. He is self-confident and controlled, but aggressive. He rebuffed Angela Merkel's criticisms of Turkish press restrictions in February 2013, with the result that the dream of rapid EU entry, already clouded, appeared to have failed definitively. He called for more Turkish-language schools in Germany, where people with a family background in Turkey account for about 4.5 million, or 5% of the population. He criticized the Americans over sanctions against Iran and supported defiance of Israel's Gaza blockade by backing the Mavi Marmara maritime attempt to break the embargo, and officially endorsing the Islamist Humanitarian Relief Foundation, or IHH. He currently plans to change the constitution by expanding presidential powers, and for this many citizens are lauding him.
The constitutional referendum he called in 2010 reduced the independence of the judiciary. Three constitutional court judges are now chosen by parliament and 14 by the president. In this way Erdogan and the AKP gained dominance over the court. Similarly, and with the same intent, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors was enlarged, from seven to 22 members. Trials of anti-Islamist public prosecutors and journalists began. A justifiable investigation of conspiracy within the army became a blind pursuit of opponents of the AKP. Generals and lawyers, until then the backbone of the Turkish state, were sentenced to prison. The army, which had long guarded Turkish secularism, was to be expelled from politics, leaving governance to party functionaries.
In every election, Erdogan gained more votes. The AKP has an absolute majority, but the separation of powers in the state is irritating to it. Erdogan seems to think he must be the only boss.
When they hear the way in which he speaks, secular and sophisticated Turks are frightened. At 59 years of age, Erdogan apparently loves to deliver advice. He criticizes the increase of single people living in the cities and calls on the young to marry as quickly as they can. A happy family, according to him, will need to produce three children or "Turks will become extinct." He calls loudly for the reintroduction of the death penalty, abolished in 2004 as an element of the nation's approach to the EU.
Erdogan seems to have two major goals: The first is the protection of his own political future, the second is that of aggrandizing what he sees evidently as Turkey's geopolitical ambitions. His accomplices also appear to envision a new constitutional order in which the president will hold the highest authority. This could work in a federal country or one with other checks on power. But Turkish centralism could easily slide into authoritarianism. The opposition denounces him, and the majority of Turks would reject a dictatorship, but Erdogan, a political rock star, looks likely to be chosen for a new-style, expanded presidency.
His project for the protection of Turkey encompasses some accommodation with the Kurdish minority, who make up as much as a quarter of Turkey's population of 85 million. Worried by the Syrian civil war and the success of the Kurdish autonomous, oil-exporting zone in northern Iraq, Erdogan would do well to solve the Kurdish issue. His representatives negotiated with the radical leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK], Abdullah Ocalan, while he was in jail, and offered political and cultural reforms in eastern Turkey – if the PKK agreed to cease fighting. Were Erdogan to establish Kurdish rights within Turkey he would repair a birth defect of the Turkish Republic and complete the legacy of Ataturk.
At Nowruz, the Kurdish and Central Asian New Year celebration on March 21, 2013, held in the eastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, which has a Kurdish majority, hundreds of thousands of Kurds were electrified by the announcement that Ocalan had declared an end to the PKK's insurgency. At least 40,000 people had died in the struggle. Ocalan endorsed a cease-fire, and the PKK revised its earlier demand for independence, now asking only for autonomy.
Erdogan's presidential system may be a curse, but if Erdogan is still partly a reformer, peace with the Kurds would be a blessing. Erdogan has the future in his hands and many hope he will act wisely. Few really believe in this promise, but hope dies last.
Meanwhile, Erdogan must also face the problem of the Turkish and Kurdish Alevi minority, which also totals about a quarter of the Turkish census, or 20 million. Alevis are heterodox Muslims following a tradition fusing Shia Islam, metaphysical Sufism, and pre-Islamic shamanism. In 1995, an Alevi leader, Izzettin Dogan, launched an "officially-approved" Alevi group, Cem Vakfi. As members of the spiritual movement do not pray in mosques, a cem is an Alevi meeting house.
The Turkish government then used Cem Vakfi to split the Alevi opposition to the regime. The government, even when it was secular, favored Sunni Islam and harassed Alevis. Politically, Dogan represented the extreme nationalist right, and was linked to the fascist Nationalist Action Party or MHP, known as the Grey Wolves, from the title of its paramilitary branch. The MHP supported the military in its campaign against the Kurdish PKK, and the Grey Wolves have been charged with at least 5,000 murders of Turkish and Kurdish leftists, including Alevis, in the 1980s. Today the veterans of the Grey Wolves are intertwined with the state and are responsible for countless abuses of human rights in both the Kurdish areas of eastern Turkey and in localities of the country's western region, where they hold political office.
In 1978 the Grey Wolves committed a massacre of Alevis, calling all "believers" to aggressive jihad, or war on alleged non-Muslims, against Alevis and leftists. The Grey Wolves proclaimed, "One who kills an Alevi will enter paradise, and the death of an Alevi is equal to five hajj pilgrimages to Mecca."
In 1980, after a military coup, the MHP was banned, along with all other political parties. Nevertheless, many supporters of the Grey Wolves achieved careers in the military and state bureaucracy. The ban on the MHP was eventually removed and in the late 1990s the party changed its public orientation in a religious direction. In 1997, Izzettin Dogan introduced his Cem Vakfi in four different towns in the Netherlands, under the auspices of the foreign branch of the MHP, the so-called Federation of Turkish Democratic-Idealist Organizations in Europe or ADUTDF.
Erdogan's government has approached the Alevis in Turkey with plans for ambitious construction of mosques in their communities, even though Alevis meet for their rituals, as noted, in cem houses, and only a few Alevis attend mosque services.
Mosque-building in Alevi villages, therefore, is a waste of public funds, but since the 1980s, pressure for "Sunnization" has been intense and has provoked political protest among the Alevis. Today, Alevis increasingly refuse to conceal their identities, as they might have done in the past; instead, they present themselves openly as Alevis, defending the Alevi faith. Alevi books and magazines are now issued prolifically and Alevism is offered as a counter to Islamist ideology.
Support for Cem Vakfi and Izzettin Dogan by the Turkish state institutions and mass media has failed. The democratic Alevis reject him, and the situation should remain as such.
Nevertheless, the AKP regime, through its apologists, including the journalist Mustafa Akyol, who has performed brilliantly in convincing Washington politicians of his moderation, accuses the Alevis of supporting the bloodthirsty dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad in Syria. There is no serious corroboration of this claim, which has also been made by Erdogan himself. Its proponents assert falsely that the Alevi movement in Turkey is similar to the ostensibly Shia Alawite cult ruling Syria. This is denied by Alevis themselves as well as by authoritative, objective Western academics.
While Erdogan contends with the appeals from Alevis and Kurds for an end to discrimination against them, the AKP's purge trials of military officers and journalists grind on. The Center for Islamic Pluralism has received a communication from Yasin Turker, one of 328 victims sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment in the "Sledgehammer case," in which the defendants were charged with attempting to overthrow the AKP government in 2003. According to Turker, the evidence in the "Sledgehammer" proceedings was falsified by the introduction of unprinted, unsigned, digitally-fabricated documents. Forgery of the material was proven by its appearance in Microsoft Office 2007 format, which did not exist in 2003. Not a single item of evidence or eyewitness testimony has ever supported the indictment.
Turker, a former lieutenant commander of the Turkish Navy, was tried in a courtroom in a high-security prison, away from the public and without any attorney-client confidentiality. The burden of proof was on the defendants to establish their innocence. There was no procedure for evaluating the evidence. The court refused to analyze the authenticity of the digital files included in the indictment, and refused to call witnesses for the defense. No opportunity was provided for the defense to cross-examine the prosecutors' "experts."
According to Turker, the Turkish judiciary has become a weapon for settling scores, silencing opponents, restructuring Turkish society as an AKP party-state, and undermining secularism. That is the true nature of Erdogan's program and reveals the real character of Erdogan as a politician.
The video of the Syrian rebel cutting out the heart of a soldier he has killed, and taking a bite of it proudly for the camera, displaying his fanatical fervor, should remind us of many other incidents, including those by Syrian soldiers working for the Assad regime who used to decapitate captured Israelis and mutilate their bodies (a favorite of the Arabs is to cut off the genitals and stuff them in the mouths of the enemy dead).
The event that many will be reminded of took place in Ramallah in 2000, when two Israeli reservists took a wrong turn, and ended up being captured, then tortured and killed, and then their corpses mutilated, with parts held up for a crowd to cheer over, in Ramallah, the "capital" of the "Palestinian" Authority and the only place where the "Palestinian" Authority's writ actually runs.
You can find out more about that gruesome and telling event here.
Iraqiya List leader and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said that the protests in the Iraq provinces that are home to a Sunni majority won’t stop unless Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government resigns, thus paving a way for a reduced government to be formed to organize early general elections in which its members cannot participate.
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During a meeting with Iraqi journalists at his Baghdad home, Iraqiya List leader Ayad Allawi said demonstrations in the country wouldn't stop unless Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki resigns.
Allawi to Al-Monitor: Demonstrations in Iraq Won’t Stop Unless Maliki Resigns Author: Ali Abel Sadah Translated by: Sami-Joe Abboud and Joelle El-Khoury
During a meeting with a number of Iraqi journalists at his house in the upscale neighborhood of Harthiya in Baghdad, Allawi said, “Maliki did not listen to our advice concerning the need to heed the demands of the demonstrators and attempt to implement as many as possible.” He pointed out that Maliki “went in the opposite direction and described the protesters as terrorists and Baathists.”
Allawi, a secular politician of Shiite roots, heads a list led by mostly Sunni politicians. In 2004, he served as head of the government in the framework of an agreement sponsored by the United States.
“Maliki told us that he has to listen to and contain demonstrators, but instead he described them as terrorists and Baathists, and he even attacked the demonstration squares with arms,” Allawi said.
Allawi believes that the demonstrations will not stop “as long as Maliki is in power.” He said, "The government should resign in order to form a reduced government that can oversee early elections without allowing its members to participate in these elections,” adding, “The second track of the solution may be the return to the Erbil Agreement and the achievement of a prompt partnership."
The leaders of the various Iraqi factions had held a series of meetings in Erbil in 2010, resulting in a power-sharing agreement whereby Maliki became prime minister and the Kurdish veteran politician Jalal Talabani became president. For his part, Allawi headed the council that was supposed to coordinate the process of making important decisions in the country. Allawi said Maliki disregarded this agreement, however, as soon as he received the support of the parliament for a second term.
Allawi firmly believes that Iran — the Shiite eastern neighbor of Iraq — objected to him being placed at the head of the government again. “Iran is determined to confiscate Iraq’s political decision,” said Allawi, who added that he visited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2010 during negotiations to form the Iraqi government. “Assad literally told me: ‘Iran will not allow you to take over as prime minister in Iraq; and, if you want that, you need to go to Tehran and speak to the officials there.’ I absolutely refused to go to Iran, because I do not want [to hold] a position in Iraq that is given to me by another state.”
Allawi denied that his Iraqiya List allies objected to him holding the post of president of the republic during negotiations to form a government in 2010. “All Iraqiya leaders told me that they do not mind if I take over this post, but I refused, because this will provoke our brothers, the Kurds,” he said.
Asked by Al-Monitor about the news reporting that Maliki proposed that he [Allawi] holds the post of president, with the powers of the commander in chief of the armed forces, he replied, “When we went to Erbil to sign the US-sponsored agreement to form a government led by Maliki, we worked on achieving a true partnership in managing the country.
“Maliki, Massoud Barzani and I signed a document that includes pledges to bring about this partnership; the US ambassador in Iraq was a witness on that." He added, “Once we got to parliament to bring this document into reality, the partners turned against us.”
He wondered “what kind of partnership is it, [when] Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi is accused of terrorism, Finance Minister Rafi al-Issawi is being prosecuted and thousands of the Iraqiya List’s supporters are subjected to de-Baathification [laws] or remain in prison on unfounded charges.”
Allawi said he had suggested to his Sunni partners that they work as the opposition in parliament, and do not take part in the Maliki government. Yet, he said, “they were not convinced, because their masses want to be represented in the government.”
Allawi said that he has information showing that Maliki intends to pressure the [Independent High] Electoral Commission to postpone the legislative elections, scheduled in March 2014, for six months, to address the damage — which was revealed in the recent local elections — inflicted to his popularity.
Allawi believes that the recent local election results are a clear message to the State of Law Coalition, led by Maliki, expressing “popular anger with his performance.”
The Iraqiya leader believes that the next stage will produce new political alliances. He praised the performance of the movement led by cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, and the progress made by the Islamic Supreme Council, led by Ammar al-Hakim, in local elections.
On the US decision to invade Iraq, Allawi said that from the beginning, he was not with this decision, and he tried to convince Washington of the need to adopt a different policy — one based on communication with Iraqi army officers and local politicians — to achieve change in Iraq.
“We told them that even if you decide to invade, you need to prune and preserve the state institutions," he said. "Yet, they dismissed the military and allowed the de-Baathification [to happen].”
Maltese PM Meets Muslim Community, Promises Government Help 08/05/2013 19:31:00
Malta Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat (left) during his meeting with the Muslim Community at his office in Valletta
During a visit to the Mariam Al-Batool school at the Islamic Centre in Paola, Maltese Prime Minister Dr Joseph Muscat confirmed to the Muslim community that the government will stick to its promise of wavering a €400,000 loan granted to the school when it was facing financial difficulties. He said the government has initiated the process to issue the formal waiver
Dr Muscat made the promise during a visit to the school before the March 9 election and Wednesday he said the government will stick by it. He said that both political parties had made a commitment in this regard and there is a consensus to honour the pledge both parties had made during the electoral campaign.
The Maltese PM said that the government does not consider the Muslim community as a foreign entity but rather as a minority within Maltese society with its rights and freedoms being totally upheld.
He maintained that it was in the national interest to keep the school open as it is, because as far as he knows, it is definitely, the only school in Europe with Muslim students that offers primary and secondary education and that it is run by a Christian head mistress. He added that wavering of the loan is “an investment in our children and it is in the national interest that the school remains open.”
“Your children, like our children are Maltese and we want the best for them. A school with strong financial foundations is in the country's best interest, especially when your school is a model in integration and tolerance,” Dr Muscat said.
The Imam mentioned the school's plan to expand and requested for the government's facilitation in this matter. Dr Muscat also promised that the Maltese government will proceed with the devolution of land requested for the school’s expansion, a process that is expected to be completed by July.
Dr Muscat further referred to the need to have a flexible approach within different parts of the public framework in a number of issues, like women’s rights, which should be discussed openly.
Imam Mohammed El Saadi said that the Muslim community is currently setting up an Islamic Council for the Maltese and foreign Muslim community in Malta to coordinate the relationship with the Maltese authorities and contribute in the integration of the Muslim community in society.
The leader of the Muslim community Imam Mohammed el Sadi countered that the community is in the process of establishing an Islamic Council for the Maltese and foreign Muslim community in Malta to coordinate the relationship with the Maltese authorities and contribute in the integration of the Muslim community in society and to defend and protect the rights of the Muslim minority in Malta. On behalf of the Muslim community, he suggested that a person be chosen to act as an interlocutor between the two sides.
TRIPOLI - Outraged locals took to the streets of Benghazi on Monday to rail against a government that has failed to bring security to Libya after a car bomb outside a hospital killed as many as 13 people.
The unfolding events of the Boston Marathon Massacre have produced evident abuses of the Refugee Resettlement programs of the US State Department and Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement. The Tsarneav brothers and family were generously granted asylum, family reunification . They were generously supported with state welfare and Medicaid benefits and educated at an elite public high school , community colleges and state universities. Then there was evidence of abuses in the Student Visas by Kazakh accomplices after the fact that may have purposefully destroyed evidence in the dorm room of Dzhorkar Tsarneav. He is the surviving Boston bombing suspect now incarcerated at an infirmary at Fort Devens in central Massachusetts.
Perhaps the most flagrant recent example of abuses of the asylum system was the fraud committed by a Tunisian jihadi, Ahmed Abassi. Abassi was implicated in the alleged radicalization of a fellow Tunisian apprehended by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the Canadian railway bombing plot. Abbasi has been arrested and was allegedly planning to release a bacterial agent in a major municipal water system hoping to kill upwards of 100,000 Americans. US Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan Preet Bahara said at the arraignment of Abassi, "had an evil purpose for seeking to remain in the United States – to commit acts of terror and develop a network of terrorists here, and to use this country as a base to support the efforts of terrorists internationally."
We have written extensively about one groups of refugees, the Somalis. There has been documented evidence of fraud in the family reunification program committed by Somalis in African refugee camps. These resulted in shutdown of the Department of State family re-unification program for three years.
Then there was the recruitment of Somali youths from the US to fight for the establishment of an Islamist Caliphate in war-torn Somalia with the al Qaeda affiliate al Shabaab. (See our NER Article, Foot Soldiers of Islam”).
This week, the Federal District Court in Minneapolis will hold a sentencing hearing on the conviction of 9 Somali refugees engaged in recruitment of refugee Jihadis and funding of al Qaeda affiliate, al Shabaab. Our colleague Ann Corcoran of Refugee Resettlement Watch noted in a post on this event, studiously avoided by the mainstream media. Note this excerpt from the La Crosse Tribune, newspaper:
Nine people convicted in a government investigation of terror recruitment and financing for an al-Qaida-linked group in Somalia are to be sentenced this week in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis.
Authorities say more than 20 young men have left Minnesota to join al-Shabaab since 2007. Some have died, several remain at large, and others have been prosecuted in what the FBI has said is one of the largest efforts to recruit U.S. fighters for a foreign terrorist organization.
In 2007, small groups of young Somali men began holding secret meetings at a Minneapolis mosque, in cars, and at restaurants to talk about returning to their homeland to wage jihad against Ethiopians. The Ethiopians had been brought into Somalia in 2006 by its weak U.N.-backed government, but were viewed by many Somalis as invaders.
Al-Shabaab recruiters in Minneapolis appealed to patriotic ideals and told young men _ some in their teens _ that it was their “duty” to return to Somalia and fight. Recruiters also quoted from the Quran, appealing to religious beliefs to deepen the fighters’ resolve.
The men began leaving Minnesota in small groups to avoid detection, with the first departing Minneapolis on Oct. 30, 2007. Additional groups left in waves over the next months and years, with some raising money for their trips under false pretenses.
The FBI began investigating in 2008. The U.S. declared al-Shabaab a terrorist organization in early 2008.
On May 15th, the Department of State, Bureau of Population, Migration and Refugees will hold its annual hearing on the Refugee Resettlement Program.
Corcoran drew our attention to a letter written by a former member of the International Refugee Committee (IRC), Boston office sent to the Ann Richard. She is Assistant Secretary at the US State Department responsible for management of the refugee resettlement program. The IRC is one of a number of Voluntary Agencies or “Volags” working as contractors in the refugee resettlement program. The author, Michael Sirois, presents ample justification for a moratorium. Here are some excerpts:
I worked for the IRC in several capacities from 1980 until 2004 (caseworker, deputy director of the Boston office). In 2004, amid increasing budget constraints, I volunteered for a lay off. At the time, my heart was still into the work I loved and I continued to volunteer for two additional years, spending 3 days a week working on the family reunification program, in which I was considered an “expert.”
Early on, I grew familiar with the fraud that was rampant throughout the program, from the refugees themselves (sometimes forgivable), the overseas OPE’s (not forgivable) and on up to the UN (most unforgivable). Most of my colleagues were also aware of it, and while they often joked about it, almost no one did anything to change or challenge it.
In our work, it was all about “getting the numbers,” often at the expense of legitimate screening for “real“refugees.
[. . .]
My major concern was helping people re-unite with close and legitimate family members whose relationship I believed to exist in fact. I can’t tell you how many times, after resettlement that those relationships were revealed to be fraudulent. Sometimes the reasons were understandable from a human kindness point of view (claiming an orphaned niece as a sister), but often those “relationships” were simple financial transactions.
In my long years at the IRC, I assisted many ethnic groups. I can say without reservation that the Somalis were among the most duplicitous.
[. . .]
All of us in the field know just how weak the “security screening” was. It’s mostly a very poor and ineffective system of simple name checks from countries that for the most part keep no records.
[. . .]
It is time for a moratorium on refugee resettlement until ORR and the volags get their act together.
[. . .]
The present program is really a “resettle and dump on the community” thing. This is not fair to the communities, the refugees or the volags.
Refugees are not assimilating for the most part. (some argue that refugees should not “assimilate” but “integrate” but, to me, it‘s all the same, since the majority do neither.)
[. . .]
After 9/11, I was, as always, very vocal in defense of refugees and the US refugee program , convinced that no one admitted under the program could possibly be or become a terrorist. Regrettably, my mind has changed.
I do think the US should continue to receive some refugees, but it needs to be a much smaller and very carefully monitored program. The current one is a huge mess and a danger to our security and a detriment to our economy and society.
If you believe that the US Senate in its rush to produce an omnibus Immigration Reform bill have taken the time to examine these patent and dangerous abuses of our US Refugee Resettlement program guess again. Corcoran noted that S. 744, “provides more funding for resettlement contractors and makes it easier for a greater number and variety of refugees/asylum seekers to gain admission to the US.”
In the light of a long trail of abuses, citizens should request that the Senate Judiciary Committee and the “gang of eight” Senators conduct hearings on the Refugee Resettlement program before continuing this threat to our national security.
One place to start is sending a letter expressing your concerns about the Refugee Resettlement program to Ms. Richard at the State Department, Bureau for Population, Refugees and Migration to be included in its hearing record.
Eamon Gilmore, Ireland’s Tánaiste (deputy prime minister) and Minister for Foreign Affairs, is pushing through an attempt to label goods in the EU produced by Jewish Settlements in Judea and Samaria (West Bank). This relates to an aspect of a threat he made to last year to isolate Israel further.
Tánaiste has said Ireland will push for an EU-wide move to label products produced in illegal Israeli settlements, and will introduce labelling unilaterally if agreement is not reached.
Mr Gilmore was speaking after a meeting with a group of retired international leaders, The Elders.
Former US President Jimmy Carter said he was encouraged by a meeting this morning.
Mr Carter was at a meeting at the Department of Foreign Affairs with representatives of 20 EU states, who unanimously supported the labelling move.
The extremism of Gilmore’s stance is illustrated by the fact that he doesn’t so much desire to assist customers in making choices but rather labelling is driven by an intent to produce a de facto boycott:
The Foreign Affairs Minister said Ireland would strongly support a European initiative to label exports from Israeli producers in the Palestinian state to give consumers the choice of whether they want to buy them.
He said this was “in effect” like boycotting the goods. […]
“The High Representative Catherine Ashton has circulated a proposal for the labelling of those goods, for in effect boycotting those goods, from settlement areas and we support that.” […]
Meanwhile, the Tanaiste confirmed a process was in place to introduce a labelling regime of Israeli settlement goods in Ireland.
But he said a European-wide initiative would be much more effective.
The labelling effort is behind a broader intention to have all goods from Jewish settlements declared illegal. Thus Gilmore’s desire to push ahead with this process is with a view to initiating a full boycott:
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has deemed goods from Israeli settlements in the West Bank should be treated as illegal. […]
“Settlements on the West Bank are illegal and therefore the produce of those settlements should be treated as illegal throughout the European Union,” Mr Gilmore said. […]
Last year, Mr Gilmore warned Ireland may push for the EU to ban goods from Israeli settlements if Israel does not quickly change its settlements policy in Palestinian territories.
A response was issued by the Irish4Israel Facebook page, which is the main pro-Israel resource in Ireland:
No other produce from disputed territories will be labeled, goods from Tibet, West Papua New Guinea, Western Sahara or Northern Cyprus will be Chinese, Moroccan, Indonesian and Turkish. […]
Hebron is considered a settlement by the EU, Jews have lived in Hebron for 3,000 years.
Palestinians are employed in Israeli settlements. If there is a boycott of settlement produce, they will loose their jobs.
Irish4Israel noted that Gilmore’s Foreign Office department failed to acknowledge their petition, one yielding a relatively significant number of signatures for what was a fairly peripheral issue in Ireland:
Last summer 3000 signatures were collected on a petition opposing boycotts of Israeli settlement produce. This petition was sent to the Department of Foreign Affairs who REFUSED to acknowledge our voice. […]
A call to action was issued by Irish4Israel because Ireland is likely to act within weeks at an EU level since the country’s revolving six month presidency is due to come to an end in June:
Time is running out and MAXIMUM pressure must be put on the Irish government. Please email Foreign Minister Gilmore and your local TD's…
Minister Gilmore's email address is HQ-TANAISTE@dfa.ie and email@example.com
If you live abroad please contact the Irish Embassy and send Eamon Gilmore a copy of your email. […]
This step to label all settlement produce throughout the EU would greatly assist Israel’s ever-increasing delegitimisation by an international community that is deaf to any modicum of reason. As an old apparatchik of the hard-left Irish Republican Worker’s Party, Gilmore’s views are unlikely to ever change on this issue. However, the Irish government and its fellow European Union member states may still be influenced by some measure of counter-pressure.