Sunday, December 21, 2014

Another Charade by Arab Despots Collapses

From Commentary, 18 Dec 2014, by Jonathan S. Tobin:

In the end, there wasn’t much suspense about the Obama administration’s decision whether to support a United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing a Palestinian state.

After weeks of pointless negotiations over proposed texts, including a compromise endorsed by the French and other European nations, the wording of the proposal that the Palestinians persuaded Arab nations to put forward was so outrageous that even President Obama couldn’t even think about letting it pass because it would undermine his own policies. And the rest of the international community is just as unenthusiastic about it.

In a very real sense this episode is the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict in a nutshell: the world wants to do something for the Palestinians but their leaders are more interested in pointless shows than in actually negotiating peace or doing something to improve the lives of their people.

The resolution that was presented to the Security Council was so extreme that Jordan, the sole Arab nation that is currently a member, didn’t want anything to do with it. But, after intense lobbying by the Palestinian Authority representative, the rest of the Arab nations prevailed upon Jordan and they put it forward where it will almost certainly languish indefinitely without a vote since its fate is preordained.

The terms it put forward were of Israeli surrender and nothing more. The Jewish state would be given one year to withdraw from all of the territory it won in a defensive war of survival in 1967 where a Palestinian state would be created. That state would not be demilitarized nor would there be any guarantees of security for Israel which would not be granted mutual recognition as the nation state of the Jewish people, a clear sign that the Palestinians are not ready to give up their century-long war against Zionism even inside the pre-1967 lines.

This is a diktat, not a peace proposal, since there would be nothing for Israel to negotiate about during the 12-month period of preparation. Of course, even if the Palestinians had accepted the slightly more reasonable terms proposed by the French, that would have also been true. But that measure would have at least given the appearance of a mutual cessation of hostilities and an acceptance of the principle of coexistence. But even those concessions, let alone a renunciation of the “right of return,” was not possible for a PA that is rightly fearful of being supplanted by Hamas. So long as Palestinian nationalism remains wedded to rejection of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn, no one should expect the PA to end the conflict or actually make peace.

Though many of us have been understandably focused on the question of how far President Obama might go to vent his spleen at Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government, that petty drama is, as it has always been, a sideshow distraction from the real problem at the core of the Middle East peace process: 

Palestinian rejectionism.

Though the administration has tirelessly praised PA leader Mahmoud Abbas as a champion of peace in order to encourage him to live up to that reputation, he had other priorities. Rather than negotiate in good faith with the Israelis, Abbas blew up the talks last year by signing a unity pact with Hamas that he never had any intention of keeping.

The purpose of that stunt, like the current UN drama, isn’t to make a Palestinian state more likely or even to increase Abbas’s leverage in the talks. Rather, it is merely a delaying tactic, and a gimmick intended to waste time, avoid negotiations, and to deflect any pressure on the PA to either sign an agreement with Israel or to turn it down.

That’s not just because the Palestinians wrongly believe that time is on their side in the conflict, a dubious assumption that some on the Israeli left also believe. The reason for these tactics is that Abbas is as incapable of making peace as he is of making war.

This is not just another case of the Palestinians “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” in Abba Eban’s immortal and quite accurate summary of their actions over the years. It’s that they are so wedded to unrealistic expectations about Israel’s decline that it would be inconceivable for them to take advantage of any opening to peace. That is why they turned down Israeli offers of statehood, including control of Gaza, almost all of the West Bank, and a share of Jerusalem, three times and refused to deal seriously with a fourth such negotiation with Netanyahu last year.

And it’s why the endless quarrels between Obama and Netanyahu over the peace process are so pointless. No matter how much Obama tilts the diplomatic playing field in the Palestinians’ direction or how often he and his supporters prattle on about time running out for Israel, 

Abbas has no intention of signing a peace agreement. 

The negotiations as well as their maneuverings at the UN and elsewhere are nothing but a charade for the PA and nothing Netanyahu could do, including offering dangerous concessions, would change that. 

The sooner Western leaders stop playing along with their game, the better it will be for the Palestinian people who continue to be exploited by their leaders.

The Day Europe Voted for Another Holocaust

From Arutz Sheva, Friday, December 19, 2014, by Giulio Meotti, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio:

Europe sent a clear, strong message: Hamas is a legitimate organization aiming to destroy the Jewish State.

January 20, 1942. In the villa at 56–58 Am Großen Wannsee, the administrative leaders of various Nazi government departments meet for the implementation of the "final solution to the Jewish question". The Holocaust.

December 18, 2014. The European Court of Justice and the European Parliament meet to vote the recognition of the "Palestinian State" and to include Hamas among the legitimate organizations. It is the day Europe planned a new Holocaust. 

In a single day, Europe's highest political and legal bodies voted as just and legitimate the mass deportation of 600,000 Jews from their historic land, the goal of the PLO and Mahmoud Abbas. Europe also gave a legitimacy to the stabbings, rockets, shootings and suicide bombings perpetrated by Hamas and Fatah, which killed over 1,000 Israeli Jews in twenty years.

Europe voted to create a state founded on the ethnic cleansing of every single Jewish man, woman and child between Beersheba and Afula and the Jordan border and Tel Aviv. Europe wants to ethnically cleanse one third of the Judea and Samaria population. 

Mr. Abbas, this Holocaust denier, said it last year in front of those European faces. He proclaimed his Nazi and Stalinist intentions. Lady Ashton, the ridiculous then EU foreign chief, was present. And she stood silent.

On December 18, 2014, Europe voted to see hundreds of thousands of Jews surrendering to expulsion or to becoming refugees like "lambs to the slaughter". 

The Palestinian nationhood argument is a real strategic deception, more dangerous even than the Iranian death cult, the one geared to set up the destruction of Israel. 

Hamas thanked the European Union from Gaza for the "victory of the Palestinian people". Hamas well might return to the blacklist of terror groups, the place where it should stay forever. But Europe sent a clear, strong message: Hamas is a legitimate organization aiming to destroy the Jewish State.

Don't believe to Europe's empty words about "two states", the December 18 vote means: "Israel is illegitimate, it’s the instigator of every type of the world's disorder, it must be disengaged from the Middle East as soon as possible". 

This is the meaning of the French resolution coming to the UN these days and asking Israel to "end the occupation".

And there is a lot of money, Islamic money, behind the vote. You see it from the Islamic finance present in London, the Qatari investments in Paris and so on. Europe sold the Jews for money - and because it hates them. Especially the strong, religious and armed Israeli Jews. 

Meanwhile, in Europe's mosques and on its televisions you hear the same slogans of Al Aqsa's mosque over the Temple Mount: "Idbach al Yahud!" (Slaughter the Jews) and "Falastin baladna, al Yahud kalabna" (Palestine is our homeland, the Jews are our dogs). 

PLO Covenant Article Six declares:
“The Jews, who had normally resided in Palestine until the beginning of the Zionist invasion (usually dated as the mid-19th century) will be considered Palestinians”. 
In other words, 98 per cent of the existing Israeli population must be uprooted and exiled, like the 8.000 Jews of Gush Katif. 

Or slaughtered, like the Fogels. 

Is this the "Palestinian State" envisioned by the European Union and judges? Yes. Brussels supports the establishment of a state that would be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since the Third Reich. 

It is not a coincidence that the vote on "Palestine" came the same day Hamas returned to the club of the good people. As if Hamas never abducted and killed three students in Gush Etzion. As if Hamas never fired thousands of rockets on Israeli homes. As if Hamas never killed 11 people in the last two months of Third Intifada in Jerusalem and surroundings. And the list goes on.

Europe's ability to implement this new Holocaust will now depend only on the Jews. I hope the Jews have enough courage and wisdom to see what the rest of the world is preparing for them. It is the "final solution" - to the "Israeli question"...

We are breaking up with you. For good.

From JPost, 18 Dec 2014, by Anna Berg*:


Despite everything that happens here, I still feel that Israel is the sanest place in the world. In fact, we seem to be the only country that still has its head straight on, while the Europeans run around like ISIS-beheaded chickens. The latest balagan? Hamas is “temporarily” removed from the EU terrorist list due to a technicality, while an anti-Israel conference is being organised in Geneva.

Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Seriously, what is wrong with everyone? The only democracy in the Middle East is boycotted, shunned, ostracised, obsessively criticised, hated, lied about and attacked in every way imaginable – while our terrorist neighbours are left in peace to continue with their dirty, evil deeds.

We are the light unto the nations, even though the rest of the world is too engulfed in their own darkness to see it. We are the bullied new kid on the block that will grow up, move on and shine – while the bullies will get older, stay put and live miserable lives beating their wives and kids.

Look what we have achieved since our beginning as a state in 1948. The heat and desert has not stopped us from making it bloom. Wars have not torned us apart. Suicide bombers have not stopped us from living our lives. Boycotts have not stopped our economy from thriving. Our love for life is still here. Our strong spirit grows stronger every day. Our sense of family and community is unbreakable. We are friggin’ amazing!

So why stay in this stormy, dysfunctional relationship? It’s time to move on. Can you hear it? Israel is calling you to come home dear Jews in the diaspora. It’s time now. You are needed here. Take all the culture, innovation, science, spirituality and chutzpah that you have and come! You are wasting your time in countries that don’t appreciate you. You deserve better. They deserve less. Leave them in the dark and come here and make this country shine even brighter. You know they will miss us, but then it’ll be too late.

It’s time to break up with Europe. For good.

Sorry, we are just not that into you. This relationship isn’t working. It’s not us, it’s you. Really.


*Anna Berg
Anna Berg
Anna Berg was born in Sweden and made Aliyah in April 2014. 
She currently resides in Tel Aviv

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Today Damascus, Soon, Khuzestan

From ArutzSheva, 13 Decemeber 2014, by Mark Langfan:

This war isn’t a Shia-Sunni War; this is a Persian-Arab War and the Arabs are being played for fools by non-Arab Iran.

The recent Israeli daylight strike at the heart of the Iranian Shi’ite project has shown the Iranian-Hezbollah behemoth to be a paper tiger incapable of ultimately defeating the Moderate Sunni-Israeli alliance that is congealing against its hegemonic imperial ambitions.

In February 2013, Mehdi Taeb, a high-level Iranian cleric, speaking to Iran’s Basij (paramilitary group attached to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps), said
"Syria is…[Iran’s] 35th province and a strategic province for us. If the enemy attacks us and wants to take either Syria or Khuzestan, the priority for us is to keep Syria…If we keep Syria, we can get Khuzestan back too, but if we lose Syria, we cannot keep Tehran."  
What was Taeb saying?  Taeb meant that if Iran loses Arabic-Syria, Iran’s "35th Province", nothing will stop the Arabs from cascading eastward and taking the Iranian Arab-majority Khuzestan Province.  Khuzestan holds 90% of Iran’s oil reserves, and is situated, defenseless, west of the Zagros Mountains that form Iran’s western border.  And, without the oil-rich Khuzestan, Iran is nothing but a bankrupt, oil-poor, Bangladesh of an Islamic country.

Fantasy? Aisha Noor in the leading Pakistani daily, The Nation, just wrote in an op-ed:
“The twin crises in Syria and Egypt have marked the emergence of a new superpower coalition in the Middle East, the odd couple alliance of Israel and Saudi Arabia, with Jordan serving as an intermediary and the Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms playing a supporting role.”
By striking Iran’s weakest link, Assad, Israel has brought joy to the hundreds of millions of Sunnis who rightly see the Persian Iranians as their true arch-enemy, not Israel.  And, even better, Iran is impotent to lift so much as a single Hezbollah finger against Israel in retaliation. Consequently, the Israeli raid has given millions of Arab Sunnis hope that Iran’s Shi’ite enclaves, otherwise called “Syria” and “Iraq” will soon be broken, and all the Arabs will come east for their rightful inheritance, the oil-rich Arab region of Khuzestan, the Arabic-speaking Iranian Province which the Persian have stolen and raped it of all its Arab-petrodollars.

In this Arab Shi’ite-Sunni War, what is the Persian Iranians’ big-picture strategy?  Do the Arab Sunnis really want to behead Arab Shi’ites, and vice versa?  Some  do, but most don’t.  Shi’ite-colonizing Persian Iranians have purposefully instigated an Arab Sunni-Shi’ite sectarian holocaust.  The Persian Iranian goal is not for all “the Shi’ites” to win, but for all the Arabs, all the Sunnis and Shi’ites alike, to kill one another and be so divided that the Arabs will have no energy left when the Persian Iranians come in for the kill, and take the entire Arab “Persian” Gulf containing 56% of the worlds oil supply.

This war isn’t a Shia-Sunni War; this is a Persian-Arab War.  But, unfortunately, the Arabs are being played for fools by their Persian Iranian puppeteers.

Hence, Israel’s attack on the Damascus Airport arms depot will, in years to come, be seen as nothing less than a modern-day attack of the Bastille by the French Revolutionaries.  By attacking Damascus, Israel has signaled it stands with the moderate Sunni Arabs, and with all Arabs including Shi’ites, against the Shi’ite colonializing tyranny of the Persian Iranians.

Israel bravely rejected Obama’s mollycoddling, de facto protection, of Assad, Iran’s puppet, and showed itself to be the functional heart of an Israeli-moderate Pan-Arab alliance.  And, with time, this Israeli-Moderate Arab alliance will come to vanquish Iran’s modern-day Shi’ite colonization of the Arab world, and of the earlier Safavid Empire’s Shi’ite colonization of Iran itself.

The time has come to examine UNRWA policy

From Israel Resource Review, December 10, 2014, by David Bedein*:

United Nations Relief and Works Agency spokesman Chris Gunness launched personal attacks this week against a Palestinian critic of UNRWA who wrote an op-ed for The Jerusalem Post, followed by a vitriolic attack against the Post itself for publishing the piece. This past Sunday, however, Gunness related to substantive questions about UNRWA policy in a radio interview on the new Voice of Israel Internet radio network. Gunness’s policy statements deserve close attention.

He argues that there are other refugees in the world whose refugee status extends for more than one generation, under the aegis of the other UN agency (the one that handles all other refugees in the world), the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR). Yet he neglects to mention that Palestinian refugees are the only refugees in the world who are promised the “right of return” by a UN agency.

Gunness states that UNRWA’s mandate comes from the UN General Assembly, and that that is where the UNRWA definition of “refugee” comes from. Yet UNGA 302, which created UNRWA and from which UNRWA gets its mandate, did not define what a “refugee” is.

UNRWA itself invented a working definition of “refugee” in 1950. Its original refugee definition was: “For working purposes, the Agency has decided that a refugee is a needy person, who, as a result of the war in Palestine, has lost his home and his means of livelihood.” So it is UNRWA that decides who is a refugee – not the UNGA.

Indeed, UNRWA changed the definition [of a UNRWA refugee] over time, including, around 1965, the accommodation of children and grandchildren through the male line, and at a later date extending the definition to all descendants.

Gunness states that the only factor that can change UNRWA policy toward refugees is the UN General Assembly, confusing UNRWA policies with the UNRWA mandate. While the UNRWA mandate to handle Palestinian refugees is etched in stone by the UNGA, donor nations can influence any internal UNRWA policy decision which donor nations may find objectionable or inconsistent with UN policies. 

Gunness claims that UNRWA “must” use the host nation’s textbooks, but does not explain that the choice to do so is an internal UNRWA decision that can be changed if a schoolbook or school teacher violates UN principles.

Gunness holds that Nathan Brown, a Professor of Political Science at George Washington University, is his sole source authority on Palestinian education, and ignores the fact that Brown works for pro-Arab organizations. 

Gunness ignores multiple independent studies of the new PA textbooks that were conducted by The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the Vatican, IMPACT and CFNEPR over the past 14 years, all of which concluded that the new PA textbooks, used in UNRWA schools, encourage jihad, martyrdom and right of return to Palestine, by force of arms.

Gunness categorically states there is no evidence that Hamas terrorists are on the payroll of the UN. Yet successive reports of the US Congressional Research also show that UNRWA, which receives $300 million per year from the US government, reports that UNRWA has never vetted its staff to see if UNRWA employs members of Hamas.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament funded a study that documented Hamas’s takeover of the UNRWA unions in March 2009. The pro-Hamas al-Resala newspaper, right before the September 2012 UNRWA union elections stated that, 
“It is noteworthy that Hamas has controlled the UNRWA staff union in the elections since its inception….”
Al Quds, a Fatah-leaning paper, wrote after the elections:
“According to multiple sources within the Election Commission… the ‘Professional’ slate of Hamas won 25 seats out of 27, divided by 11 seats out of 11 in the teachers’ sector and 6 out of 7 in the labor sector elections, and 8 seats out of 9 in the services sector election.”
Gunness states that whenever there are allegations of UNRWA employees violating UNRWA’s neutrality policy, “They are always investigated and disciplinary action is taken up to and including dismissal.”

Yet in March 2013, in my presence, Gunness told staffers of the US Congress that Hamas leader Suhail Hindi, head of the UNRWA teachers’ union in Gaza, had been dismissed.

However, Hindi was suspended for less than a week. Hindi functions in his capacity to this day.

So much for removing Hamas on staff.

In sum, the concern over UNRWA is that, as a UN agency, it is supposed to maintain absolute neutrality. In an interview with the Post, US State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez stated unequivocally: 
“It is imperative that all sides respect the humanitarian and development role of UNRWA. And we expect UNRWA personnel to uphold its stated policy of neutrality so that it can carry out its critical mandate.
In light of the UN policy of neutrality, I have repeatedly asked the US embassy and US AID, which administers funds to UNRWA, why the US does not demand an overhaul of the UNRWA curriculum and an end to Hamas presence in UNRWA schools as a condition to render future US funds to UNRWA.

No response has been received – not from the US embassy and not from US AID.

Perhaps the time has come for the US Congress to hold hearings about UNRWA policies, which have now been clearly articulated by UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness, to determine if UNRWA is indeed preserving the sacrosanct principle of UN neutrality. After all, if UNRWA is found to be employing thousands of Hamas employees, funding for UNRWA from nations which designate Hamas as a lethal foreign terrorist organization could be suspended.

That includes the US, Canada, the UK, the EU and Australia.

*The writer is author of Roadblock to Peace – How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA policies reconsidered.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Boycott of Israel is a “Big Hoax”

From The Tower, 9 Dec 2014:

[Photo: Dave Bender / YouTube ]

Blogger “Elder of Ziyon” published a translated interview with Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid yesterday. The interview with Eid was originally conducted in Hebrew by Ishai Friedman and was published on his blog.

One of the central subjects of the interview was a supposed Palestinian boycott of Israel and Israeli settlements.
Well, what happens?
“Abbas will not feed them and won’t provide them jobs. After Protective Edge, it was agreed to put another 5,000 workers from Gaza to Israel so this they boycott? I beg you to give me more jobs then demand a boycott? And even if they prohibit selling Palestinian produce to Israel your economy will not hurt. Who would hurt are those Palestinians who earn four or five times in Israel than in the territories. ”
And the Authority’s statement about boycotting the settlements?
“It shows you the disconnect between the public and its leaders. That there is no boycott. There is one “hero,” Mustafa Barghouti, who is a very corrupt. He stole money from Saudi Arabia meant to buy them ambulances. He states that he invented the boycott of Israel, and he tours across Europe and talks about a boycott of Israel. Every other day he is in Sweden and they listen to him but let him go and declare a boycott in Ramallah and the refugee camps.”
So the whole story is a bluff?
“This is a big hoax on the part of the Palestinians. What, Arabs from the territories do not work and buy from Rami Levi in Gush Etzion? It is not enforced and can not be enforced. Bir Zeit buys Strauss Ice Cream. Grocery store there, the seller hung a sign, this place sells purely Israeli products.”
The interview also covers Eid’s opinions of Hamas (Gazans don’t support it but “are afraid to talk.”), the Palestinian Authority (“political corruption is a government that the Palestinian public know nothing of what is happening in it.”) the state of human rights organizations (“today all organizations Israelis and Palestinians, all of them deal with Israel.”)  and the funding of these groups (“if I want to establish an anti-Israel NGO, I promise you tomorrow I would get a half a million dollars from Sweden.”)

Eid set off a controversy last week when he criticized the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post. Eid wrote that instead of helping the Palestinians, UNRWA “depends on death and the visual suffering of five million Palestinians who continue to wallow in and around UNRWA facilities.” In order to reform UNRWA, Eid proposed a five point program:
  1. Audit all funds allocated to UNRWA, which operates with a $1.2b. budget.
  2. Introduce UN High Commissioner for Refugees standards to UNRWA, to encourage permanent refugee settlement.
  3. Cancel the UNRWA war curriculum, based on principles of jihad, martyrdom and right of return by force of arms.
  4. Demand that UNRWA schools conform to the UNRWA slogan: “Peace Starts Here.”
  5. Dismiss UNRWA employees affiliated with Hamas, defined by the donor nations to UNRWA as a terrorist entity.
Eid noted that UNRWA couldn’t even provide an exact number of Palestinian refugees, about which it “should be the authoritative source.”

Eid’s op-ed provoked a furious response from UNRWA’s spokesman, Chris Gunness, who called the Post “unbalanced” and demanded a boycott of the paper.

“Elder of Ziyon” noted that Gunness didn’t address the bulk of Eid’s claims, and instead resorted to blasting The Jerusalem Post. The blogger has recently been documenting what Eid refers to as UNRWA’s “war curriculum,” and condemned Gunness for ignoring the charge.
In The Real Palestinian Refugee Crisis, which was published in the May 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Asaf Romirowsky explained how UNRWA perpetuates Palestinian statelessness:
UNRWA’s role in perpetuating and even expanding the refugee problem is a complex one; but, more than anything else, it is the result of the agency’s own definition of a Palestinian refugee—which is unique in world history. The standard definition of a refugee, which applies in every case except that of the Palestinians, includes only those actually displaced in any given conflict. UNRWA has defined a Palestinian refugee as anyone whose “normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.” But it has also continually expanded this definition, now stating “the children or grandchildren of such refugees are eligible for agency assistance if they are (a) registered with UNRWA, (b) living in the area of UNRWA’s operations, and (c) in need.”
As a result, the number of official Palestinian refugees—according to UNRWA— has expanded almost to the point of absurdity. The best estimates are that perhaps 650,000 Palestinians became refugees in 1948-1949; but UNRWA now defines virtually every Palestinian born since that time as a refugee. That number now reaches well into the millions. This is quite simply unprecedented. In no other case has refugee status been expanded to include subsequent generations over a period of decades.

Majority of Palestinians Support Terror Att

From The Tower, 10 Dec 2014:

An overwhelming majority of Palestinians support the recent spate of attacks on Israelis amid heightened tensions over the most sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, according to a Palestinian opinion poll released on December 9.

The poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (Arabic link) also found that more than half of Palestinians support a new violent uprising against Israel and that the Hamas militant group would win presidential elections if they were held today, The Associated Press reported.

Palestinians carried out a string of fatal attacks in Jerusalem over the past month and a half as tensions rose over the holy site shared by two religions, revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

The alarming poll findings come as Palestinian incitement for more terror attacks is continuing. An imam giving a spontaneous sermon at the al-Aqsa Mosque recently called for the “slaughter” of the Jews, the Times of Israel reported.
“I say to the Jews loud and clear: The time for your slaughter has come. The time to fight you has come. The time to kill you has come…Please do not leave in our hearts a single grain of mercy towards you, oh Jews, because when the day of your slaughter arrives, we shall slaughter you without mercy.”
Omar Abu Sara was filmed at the mosque, located on the Temple Mount, on November 28. In a video made available by the Middle East Media Research Institute, he is seen loudly inciting religious hatred to the crowd of worshippers:
“Talking about the traits of the Jews requires one to get into a special mode, because we are dealing with people to whom every single vile trait has been attributed. They were the masters of these vile traits, and they taught their secrets to others. These traits were registered in the Quran, which depicted all aspects of the lives of the Jews in the most abominable images.”
A similar sermon by a different man was filmed at the same location earlier last month, where the speaker called for the destruction of America and Israel and hailed the Islamic State terror group. In his address, the man identified as Ali Abu Ahmad called for Jerusalem’s liberation from “the Jews, the most vile of creatures” and for the annihilation of America and the international coalition against Islamic State.

United Nations is subsidizing terrorists in Gaza

From PJ Media, 6 Dec 2014, by Claudia Rosett:

Will the United Nations ever face up to the awkward reality that it is subsidizing terrorists in Gaza? 
Or is that too touchy a topic because it might interfere with UN demands for more of your tax dollars?

The deputy commissioner of UNRWA — the UN’s enormous agency dedicated entirely to Palestinian refugees — was in New York this week to speak at an UNRWA pledging conference at UN headquarters. This deputy commissioner, Margot Ellis, happens to be an American citizen, educated at Cornell and Columbia, and a former longtime official of the U.S. Agency for International Development. So one might hope she would be at least dimly aware of the responsibilities of a civil servant — as opposed to, say, a hired lobbyist — to present an honest picture when shaking the can for more public money.

But when Ellis spoke to the General Assembly on Thursday, to ask for more funds for UNRWA, her account of Gaza was so neatly trimmed of highly relevant information on the real source of the trouble that it could have been written by the propaganda mills of Pyongyang. Ellis talked about this past summer’s war between Hamas and Israel in terms of “Palestinian vulnerability” and “the extreme material and human devastation of Israeli military campaigns.” She lamented that “we were certain as was the Palestine refugee community in Gaza, that United Nations schools were a safe refuge for families and children,” and she stressed — as she did at a previous UNRWA pledging conference last December — a need for more construction material, and “the lifting of the blockade.”

Here are some things she did not say.
  • She did not make a single mention of Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that rules Gaza, and pours resources into weapons for launching attacks on Israel, while UNRWA — to which the U.S. is the largest donor — picks up a big chunk of the tab for social services.  To hear Ellis talk about Gaza, it is as if Hamas does not exist. Neither do the guns, mortars, rockets and hate-mills.
  • Ellis made not a single mention of the vast tunnel network, discovered by the Israelis this past summer, that Hamas had dug into Israel to facilitate its terrorist attacks. This Hamas venture included more than 30 terrorist tunnels, which by Israeli estimates cost at least $90 million to build, and required an average of 350 truckloads of construction supplies per tunnel. (If UNRWA disagrees with these estimates, perhaps it is time UNRWA — with its extensive networks, facilities and 12,000 Palestinian staffers in Gaza — provided some information on these projects.) 
  • Reportedly Hamas used Palestinian children to help dig these tunnels, an abuse of minors that Ellis also failed to allude to.
  • For that matter, she also made no mention of such horrors as the Hamas mass public execution in August of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. They were paraded, hooded and bound, before a jeering crowd, and then shot to death.
  • Ellis also omitted any reference to UNRWA’s discovery during the summer war of rockets stockpiled in at least three UNRWA schools — it seems that has been magically erased from the picture. 
  • Neither did she mention the rockets fired from near schools and hospitals. One might suppose that an official so concerned with the welfare of client Palestinians would include, in a briefing to the General Assembly, that Hamas uses Palestinian children as human shields. Though of course that is difficult to explain if the entire situation is being presented in terms that condemn the Israelis but make zero mention of the Palestinian terrorists who were tunneling into Israel, firing rockets at Israel, and are dedicated in their charter to the obliteration of Israel.
  • Neither did Ellis explain how Israel might lift its blockade yet remain safe from terrorist attacks out of Gaza, with its weapons, suicide bombers and overlords who delight in slaughtering Israelis — when they can get to them. Perhaps she considers that beyond her brief. But in that case, why does she roll right along from soliciting funds for Gaza construction projects to making specific demands that would profoundly affect the security of a UN member state?

Why would Ellis present this oddly doctored picture? It would be insulting to suggest that she is anti-Semitic, or harbors some extreme prejudice against Israel; that would be unthinkable for an enlightened citizen of the U.S., placed in an influential position within a major UN agency. So let’s default to the likelihood that she thinks her job is to raise money for UNRWA, no matter how much she must censor out of her reports in order to do so.

In 2013, the most recent year for which UNRWA shows consolidated contributions (regular budget, emergency appeals, etc.) the U.S. contributed $294 million to UNRWA, of which some $85 million went to Gaza (while Hamas was pouring resources into terrorist tunnels, and UNRWA’s Ellis was demanding more construction materials for the enclave). 

The U.S. tax dollars keep rolling in. Is it too much to ask, that the U.S. — as a UN member state — request of Ellis a candid accounting of the real obstacles to peace and prosperity in Gaza — and an explanation of why, in asking for U.S. tax dollars for the enclave, she makes no mention that it is run by the terrorists of Hamas?

Monday, December 08, 2014

Crushing Labor Unions, and Other Harbingers of a Palestinian Dictatorship

From Algemeiner, 5 December 2014:

Amidst all the current debate over how Israel should define its national character, an equally important topic has attracted almost no attention: what would be the character of a Palestinian state?
Birds of a feather....
The question has gained urgency in view of the latest — and little-noticed — authoritarian actions by Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Annoyed by some recent strikes, Abbas on November 9 responded by suddenly outlawing the 40,000-member Union of Public Employees, which is the largest Palestinian Arab trade union.
Let us leave aside the rich irony of the progressives’ cause celebre — the Palestinian Authority — banning “Palestine’s” largest public sector union.
Abbas also jailed the president and vice president of the union, Bassam Zakarneh and Moin Ansawi, who were released only a week later. When the head of the Federation of Health and Nursing Unions, Osama al-Najjar, convened an urgent meeting to discuss the outlawing of the union, he too was briefly arrested.
Imagine the president of the United States responding to a wave of strikes by outlawing AFSCME — the American Federation of States, County and Municipal Employees — and jailing its leaders. Such actions would give us a pretty good idea as to the president’s governing philosophy, and the direction in which he intends to take the country.
The PA’s outlawing of the Union of Public Employees is, in fact, just the tip of the iceberg. The State Department’s latest annual report on human rights around the world provides much additional evidence of Palestinian authoritarianism:
*  “PA security forces in the West Bank…continued to restrict freedom of speech and press.” For example, “PA authorities arrested some journalists and bloggers who criticized the PA and PA officials.” One activist was jailed for the crime of “extending his tongue against PA leadership.” PA security forces “harassed, detained (occasionally with violence), prosecuted, and fined journalists several times during the year.” In addition, “the PA blocked access to websites critical of President Abbas.”
*  The PA security services carried out “arbitrary or unlawful killings” of civilians. In one instance, the PA announced there would be an “investigation” of such a killing, but “no further information” about the alleged investigation was ever released.
*  Even though the PA’s “Basic Law” officially prohibits torture of prisoners, there is evidence “that torture and abuse remained a problem” in the year under review (2013). Interrogators’ tactics included “sitting in a painful position for long periods; beating; punching; flogging; intimidation; and psychological pressure.”
*  “Arrests [by the PA] on political grounds occurred in the West Bank and Gaza,” although no numbers were provided. “Palestinian security services often…entered homes without judicial authorization.”
*  The PA’s Basic Law stipulates the right of citizens “to elect their government through democratic means,” but “the PA has not held elections in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 2006.”
The mistreatment of women and children under the PA regime is especially egregious, according to the State Department. PA law “does not explicitly prohibit domestic violence.” The report cited an internal PA study that found 37% of Palestinian women are victims of violence (and those are only the ones who reported it). The PA does not have any law against sexual harassment, “and it was a significant and widespread problem.” Child abuse was likewise “a widespread problem” and “PA authorities rarely punished perpetrators of family violence.”
PA law bans rape, but spousal rape is exempt. Palestinian rapists who marry their victims are immune from prosecution. The police often “treated rape as a social and not a criminal matter and released some accused rapists after they apologized to their victims.” So-called “honor killings” — in which a woman suspected of violating Islamic morality is murdered by relatives — increased by 100% in the PA territories between 2011 and 2012, and the PA’s laws ensure leniency for the killers.
Those who advocate the creation of a Palestinian state – especially self-styled progressives ­– ought to take these developments seriously. First, because a policy of bringing another totalitarian regime into the world is morally unacceptable. There are already too many dictatorships, and too many oppressed people. Second, because history has demonstrated again and again that dictatorships are far more likely to start wars than democracies, a “Palestine” that outlaws trade unions, tortures dissidents, indefinitely postpones elections and oppresses women gives little prospect of being a stable, friendly, or peaceful neighbor.

Partners in Evil: Hitler’s Henchmen in Arabia

From The Daily Beast, December 7, 2014, by Guy Walters:

Berliner Verlag/Archiv/dpa/Corbis

Nazi Alois Brunner’s confirmed death in Damascus reveals an uncomfortable truth: Egypt and Syria have long ties to Nazi Germany and long provided sanctuary to fugitive war criminals. 

When most of us think of the premier retirement destination for unrepentant Nazis, our minds immediately turn to South America. We think of Josef Mengele hidden on a lonely estancia in Paraguay, or Adolf Eichmann ensconced in a two-bit suburb of Buenos Aires.

This perception was magnified by a slew of sensational books that were published in the early 1970s, many of which promoted a very iffy thesis that former Nazis were using the continent as a launchpad for a “Fourth Reich” that would, yes, take over the world.

This culminated in Ira Levin’s 1976 thriller, The Boys from Brazil, in which fiendish Nazis hatch a diabolical plot to unleash several cloned Hitlers onto the world. The book was made into a film in 1978, and starred no less than Gregory Peck and Laurence Olivier, who were presumably behind on the rent.

But as the recent declaration of the death of the former SS officer and Eichmann henchman Alois Brunner reveals, the boys didn’t just go to Brazil. For Brunner, like so many other Nazis, found the Middle East an equally hospitable location, and far less out-on-a-limb than a chalet in Patagonia, no matter how gemütlich.

Brunner, who sent an estimated 130,000 Jews to their deaths, made his home in Damascus, Syria, where he found the conditions much to his liking. Although there has been much guff peddled about Brunner’s postwar activities over the past few days—some of which may be true—there is no doubt that he worked in cahoots with the Assad regime, or at least certainly enjoyed its protection.

However, Brunner was not the only perpetrator of the Holocaust mooching around the streets of the Syrian capital. In terms of gruesome numbers, Franz Stangl, the former commandant of Treblinka extermination camp, had some 800,000 murders on what remained of his conscience, and he arrived in Damascus in September 1948 with the assistance of a Roman Catholic bishop.

Although Brunner is said to have variously worked as an intelligence agent, an arms dealer, and a security advisor, Stangl took more menial positions in textile firms. Life was somewhat frugal, but manageable. Unfortunately for Stangl, the local chief of police took a fancy to his 14-year-old daughter and wanted to add the child to his harem. Stangl didn’t tarry, and packed his bags and shepherded his entire family to—you guessed it—Brazil.

Stangl seems to have been one of the few Nazis who didn’t find the air pleasing in Syria. Most, such as Major-General Otto-Ernst Remer, prospered on Arab Street. Remer was, frankly, a real piece of work, and having founded the swiftly-banned Socialist Reich Party in West Germany in the early 1950s, decided that working as an arms dealer with the likes of Brunner more rewarding.
What made the relationship between these former Nazis and the Egyptians and Syrians so successful was that it was a genuinely two-way deal.

Unlike Brunner, Remer was itinerant, and spent much time in that other nest of postwar Nazis—Cairo. If anything, the Egyptian capital was even more appealing than Damascus, and had been playing host to Nazis immediately after the war, when King Farouk opened his arms to scores of former SS and Gestapo officers.

That hospitality continued even after Farouk was deposed by the Free Officers Movement in 1952, as Nasser regarded German scientific and intelligence expertise as being an essential component of his regime. No less a figure than Joachim Daumling, the former head of the Gestapo in Düsseldorf, was tasked with establishing Nasser’s secret service.

In fact, the list of some habitués of Cairo in the 1950s and the 1960s reads like a who’s who of Nazi Germany, featuring as it did the rescuer of Mussolini, Otto Skorzeny; the ace Stuka pilot Hans-Ulrich Rudel; the leader of a notorious SS penal unit, Oskar Dirlewanger; and the particularly odious and violently anti-Semitic stooge of Goebbels, Johannes von Leers.

What made the relationship between these former Nazis and the Egyptians and Syrians so successful was that it was a genuinely two-way deal. The Arabs offered the Nazis a haven, as well as a market for all their nefarious dealings in arms and black market currency. The Nazis, meanwhile, were able to provide technical and military experts, as well as the knowhow of establishing the instruments of repression.

However, below the back scratching lay a deep and dark underpinning to the relationship between the crescent and the swastika. That was, of course, a hatred of the Jews, and in particular, a desire to see the eradication of Israel. 

That shared exterminationist desire had been born during the war itself, when the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husayni, had made his home in the luxurious Hotel Adlon in Berlin in 1941, and had impressed Hitler with his hatred of the Jews. The Mufti lobbied the Nazis hard to kick the British out of the Middle East, and he was instrumental in raising recruits for a largely Muslim unit of the SS called the 13th Armed Mountain Division of the SS Handschar.

In addition, throughout the war in North Africa, German intelligence had worked closely with the Egyptians, and the Mufti is thought to have been a key intermediary between King Farouk and Hitler himself. If further evidence were needed that the roots of the Nazi-Arab affair were required, then it is worth considering the fact that both Nasser and his successor, Anwar Sadat, had been wartime agents for the Germans.

Throughout the late 1960s and 1970s, many old Nazis managed discreetly to trickle back to what they regarded as the Fatherland. However, others such as the former SS “doctor” in Mauthausen, Aribert Heim—and indeed Alois Brunner—would end their days in the Middle East, dying lonely deaths in obscure dusty back streets of Cairo and Damascus.

It is hard to feel sorry for such lonely demises, but in the end, those Nazis who escaped to the Middle East found permanent sanctuary. Remembering that may seem inflammatory when the West struggles with its relationship with that part of the planet, but it is nonetheless the awkward truth.

Alleged Israel airstrike near Damascus

From Ynet News 7 Dec 2014, by Roi Kais:

Syrian sources release short video reportedly documenting moment of attack on target in town of Dimas; Former Syrian Commander says target may have been arms shipments meant for Hezbollah. 

Syrian sources released on Sunday night a short video documenting the IAF strike on a security installation in the town of Dimas, one of the three targets that were bombed, according to Syrian reports, by Israeli Air Force warplanes. There were no casualties, according to the reports.

Earlier, Syrian television said that IAF warplanes attacked three targets on the outskirts of Damascus, two of which were near the international airport and in the town of Dimas. 

The Syrian army confirmed facilities were damaged ...

Alleged Israeli strike on Damascus installation
Alleged Israeli strike on Damascus installation

Salim Idris, former head of the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army, spoke to a subsidiary station of the Al Arabiya news channel, saying that the target of the alleged airstrike in Syria may have been shipments of weapons that were to be delivered to Hezbollah.

Since Syria's conflict began in March 2011, Israel has carried out several airstrikes in Syria that have targeted sophisticated weapons systems, including Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles and Iranian-made missiles, believed to be destined for Israel's arch foe – the Lebanese Hezbollah militant group.

Israel has never confirmed the strikes, and on Sunday the Israeli military said it does not comment on "foreign reports."...

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors the country's civil war through a network of activists on the ground, said the strike near the Damascus airport hit a warehouse for imports and exports, although it was unclear what was in the building.

The Observatory also said that around 10 explosions could be heard outside a military area near Dimas. It had no word on casualties in either strike.

Alleged IAF strike
Alleged IAF strike

While Israel has tried to stay out of the war in neighboring Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly threatened to take military action to prevent Syria from transferring sophisticated weapons to its ally Hezbollah. Israel and Hezbollah are bitter enemies and fought an intense monthlong war in 2006.

In May 2013, a series of Israeli airstrikes near Damascus targeted what Israeli officials said were shipments of Iranian-made Fateh-110 missiles bound for Hezbollah.....

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Holy Russia...?

From Spengler, 6 Dec 2014, by David P Goldman:

Russian President Vladimir Putin took a lot of ridicule in the West for his assertion that Crimea is as sacred to Russia as the Temple Mount is to Jews and Muslims. Even in the context of Orthodox theology, Putin struck a cognitive dissonance. But there should be no surprise at the invocation of Holy Russia. Russia has considered itself holy since the fall of Byzantium, when the headquarters of the Orthodox Church passed from the “second Rome” at Constantinople to the “Third Rome” of Moscow.

Laugh at Putin at your peril. The bell tolls for you. Every nation that ever has existed considered itself holy in some way. It is impossible to have a nation except on the premise of the sacred. Men cannot bear mortality without the hope of immortality, and it is the continuity of our nation that vouches for this hope. We are not immortal as disembodied spirits playing harps on clouds, but concretely, in our earthly form. Nations that give up their hope of immortality roll over and die, often through infertility, for example today’s Germans, Italians, Spanish, Hungarians and Poles.

To be sacred is not necessarily to be good: the Aztec priest excising a captive’s heart had a sense of the sacred as intense as Mother Teresa’s. Putin’s assertion of the sacred character of his country is no more or less than a statement that Russia intends to survive. After all we have read of Russia’s impending demographic collapse, Russia’s fertility rate has climbed back to 1.7 last year from just 1.2 a decade ago, an unprecedented peacetime recovery. America’s total fertility stands at just 1.86. Russia is in much worse demographic shape because of the extremely low birth rates of the past generation, to be sure. THe point is that Russia won’t be written off.

America’s mishandling of Putin shows once again the utter bankruptcy of secular political science. The devotees of Locke, Hobbes, Montesquieu and Machiavelli, the game theorists and systems analysts, the liberal idealists and neoconservatives, failed to grasp that Russia would look on any attempt to sever Crimea from Russia as an existential threat. Russia threw itself into the arms of its old rival China, and the Russian population rallied behind Putin, in a response that leaves America at a strategic disadvantage.

It isn’t simply that Russia wants a warm water port at Sevastopol: the dismemberment of historic Russian territory is an assault on Russia’s self-conceived sanctity. The difference between Russia and other European nations is that among the Europeans, Russia is the last to give up the religious nationalism that drove European politics during the past millennium. I do not assert that Putin’s nationalism is a good thing. But Europe knows only two states of mind: national self-sanctification and moribund quiescence. That is Europe’s tragedy, and Vladimir Putin’s.

....From the Gothic invasion of Italy in A.D. 401 to the defeat of the Magyars at Lech in 955 and the conversion of St. Vladimir in 1015, the barbarians often entered Christian life not as individuals joining the new People of God but as tribes brought into Christendom through conquest or alliance. Christian universalism triumphed over the ethnocentric impulses of the converted tribes through a supranational political model, from Constantine to Charlemagne and finally until the time of Charles V (when Christian polity broke up in the Reformation and Wars of Religion).

Because Christians are a new people called out of the nations, Christian theocracy must be supranational in character. The various political states of Europe were fostered by the Church, which furnished them with language and culture; but those states were ­subordinated, in some sense, to a Latin-speaking supranational Church that was senior partner to a ­universal empire.

No Christian thinker from Augustine through Thomas Aquinas doubted this. Never has the Church taught that the destiny of each ethnic group must be realized independently. On the contrary, Christianity can only flourish within a political model that transcends nationality such that the Christian’s citizenship in the People of God takes precedence over citizenship in a Gentile nation. As a citizen of a universal empire, the individual Christian was subject to a supranational political authority that stood above the Gentile nation and suppressed its ethnocentrism.

Apart from this European model of universal empire, only one other political form has appeared that fosters Christian universality. That is the nonethnic state embodied in the United States of America. Americans, too, belong to no single ethnicity. If a special grace accords to America, then it is by design rather than accident that America is both the most Christian of all industrial countries and home to the largest ­Jewish population outside the State of Israel.

Despite the thousand-year reign of Christian ­universal empire, the ethnocentric impulses of the ­converted tribes never disappeared. Indeed, Christianity gave them a new and in some ways more pernicious morphology. As Franz Rosenzweig observed, once the Gentile nations embraced Christianity, they abandoned their ancient fatalism regarding the inevitable extinction of their tribe. It is the God of Israel who first offers ­eternal life to humankind, and Christianity extended Israel’s promise to all.

But the nations that adhered to Christendom as tribes rather than as individuals never forswore their love for their own ethnicity. On the ­contrary, they longed for eternal life in their own ­Gentile skin rather than in the Kingdom of God promised by Jesus Christ. After Christianity taught them the election of Israel, the Gentiles coveted election for themselves and desired their own people to be the chosen people. That set ethnocentric nationalism in conflict both with the Jews”the descendents of Abraham in the flesh”and with the Church, which holds itself to be the new People of God.

...After the fall of Communism, the majority of Western strategists assumed that liberal democracy would spread eastwards from NATO and the European Community, enveloping Russia in an expression of manifest destiny. The trouble is that Western Europe is hardly a model to be emulated: it will disappear, or at least become unrecognizeable, during the present century. Putin knows this and denounces the moral deterioration of the West.

Russia’s response (and the response of the Russian population above all) confounded Western policy: more than four decades after Nixon went to China, we stood godfather to a new Eurasian power bloc uniting Russia and China (and probably India before long).

None of this was inevitable, as Henry Kissinger argued last month in an interview with Der Spiegel. Putin’s form of religious nationalism is the same nasty variety that set the world on course for the First World War. I do not share the admiration for Putin that some religious conservatives display: the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend.

I am concerned first of all with America’s strength, and we have weakened our position materially, perhaps decisively, by misreading Russia. Hurling insults at Putin will have all the impact of a small child displaying his courage in front of the lion cage at the zoo. How many disasters will befall us before our policy-making elite stops to consider the basic flaws in its thinking?

Arabic-language branches of the Nazi Party

From Spengler, 23 Nov 2014, by David P. Goldman:

The overriding, terrible theme of the 21st century is the suicide of cultures. Small civilizations die for any number of reasons; great civilizations die because they want to...

The suicide of cultures is incomprehensible to liberalism... We flounder in the face of suicidal cultures because we lack the intellectual tools to confront them. Men do not always seek the good, as Aristotle opines in at the outset of the Nicomachean Ethics: often they seek nothingness.

When in history have so many volunteered to commit suicide to murder civilians, as the jihadists now do? When in history has a combatant tried to maximize the number of casualties among its own civilians, as does Hamas? The liberal mind reels with horror at the phenomenon of mass suicide.

We learn how to grapple with cultural suicide from Ecclesiastes, from Augustine’s reflections on Ecclesiastes, and from Goethe’s reflections on Ecclesiastes in Faust, which take us to Kierkegaard, Rosenzweig and Heidegger. The latter’s embrace of “Non-Being,” as Michael Wyschogrod observed in his masterwork The Body of Faith, is consistent with his support for Hitler. Our highbrow culture averts its gaze from the philosophical inquiry into Non-Being; our popular culture cannot take its eyes off the personification of self-destruction in the form of zombies and vampires. Our popular culture is infested by existential horrors which our intellectual culture refuses to acknowledge.

Muslim soldiers of the Handschar Waffen SS reading a pamphlet authored by Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini titled 'Islam and Judaism.' They wear distinctive Handschar tarboosh headgear, and insignias (curved-blade weapons and swastikas) on their lapels.

The Muslim Brotherhood (and its Palestine chapter, Hamas) and ISIS are the Arabic-language branches of the NSDAP [German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei - Nazi Party], and they employ the same theater of horror to demoralize their enemies. Mere rationalism quails before such horrors. We require a phenomenology of the irrational to address it.

We simply do not understand the world in which we live. That is why we mistook the terminal decline of Muslim civilization for an opportunity to extend Western democracy to the Middle East. That is why we mistook Russia’s desperate efforts to revive its old nationalism as an antidote to cultural despair for a replay of Munich in 1938. These have had baleful consequences: we destroyed an ugly but efficient system of governance in the Middle East and left chaos in its place in Libya, Syria and Iraq. We undid one of the premises of Cold War victory, namely keeping Russia and China apart, and stood godfather to a new Sino-Russian alliance. And we did this systematically and deliberately, because we think the wrong way.

In doing so we demoralized a generation, much as the failures of Vietnam motivated the counter-culture of the 1960s. The inability of evangelical Christians to retain a majority of their young people has a good deal to do, I suspect, with disillusionment over America’s frustration in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have lost the confidence of the American public in foreign interventions through overreaching. Our blunders helped elect Barack Obama, the gravedigger of America’s influence in the world.

Alas: there is no-one left to teach the intellectual tools required to repair the damage. I could sketch a full curriculum in philosophy, history and politics (as I have for literature); if a billionaire wrote a blank check, he couldn’t find the faculty for it. Prof. Wyschogrod was among the last (he is now frail and retired). Perhaps there still are a few survivors hiding in remote crevices of academia.

We will make more mistakes. If there is a consolation, it’s that God looks out for drunks, small children, and the United States of America. America never looked worse than it did in 1859, and never looked better than it did in 1865. Abraham Lincoln, as Mark Noll observes in “America’s God,” had no institutional precedent or formal connection to the theology of his time, yet he was his era’s great theological mind. That is as close to a miracle as we are likely to get in politics. I believe in miracles, and I am praying.

Mourn for the voiceless Christians of the Middle East

From The Australian, 4 Dec 2014, by Greg Sheridan:

Christians have been present in Iraq for almost 2,000 years. In 2003 they numbered approximately 800,000 and although suffering discrimination, the community enjoyed relative freedom and security under the Ba'ath Party rule.
Today their numbers have dwindled to a mere 200,000. The rest have fled their homeland, as they stand unprotected before the threats, kidnappings, forced marriages, and killings by terrorists, religious extremists and organized crime. Clergy have been murdered and churches bombed.

...The persecution and effective ethnic cleansing of Christians from the Middle East during the past century is one of the most profound and important historic changes we have witnessed. The mass killings of Turkish Armenians a century ago was its first big episode.

..The nonsensical Edward Said popularised the idea that the West dehumanises the “other” by making it exotic. Thus we are warned in every part of our culture not to demonise the other. That is quite right, so far as it goes. But this translates into a weird reflex in which any group at war with the West is presumed to be, at least in part, virtuously the “other”. We demonise ourselves, and we especially demonise anything which smacks of Western civilisation in any part of the world which was once colonised.

Middle East Christians suffer from this prejudice in the West. Israel does, too. 
As part of Western civilisation, it earns whole layers of extra hostility. Hating Israel is part of hating Western civilisation, the default position of the inheritors of the detritus of Marxism in successor ideologies like the Greens.

This is only a small part of ­Israel’s problems of course. Trad­itional Arab anti-Semitism is also a big part. But anti-Western bias among Western commentators also contributes to the shocking ­silence on the Middle East’s ­Christians.

Once there were large Christian and Jewish communities all over the Middle East. Almost all are gone. 

The two big remaining Christian communities are the Copts in Egypt and the Christians in Lebanon. The Copts are under perpetual siege. Their position is a little better, it seems, under the new military dictatorship than it was under the brief rule of the Muslim Brotherhood brought about by the Arab Spring.

The Arab Spring was an unmitigated disaster for the Middle East’s Christians. 
In Syria, Bashar al-Assad was a dictator. But before the civil war broke out he was nowhere near as brutal as his father or numerous other Middle East dictators. Because he relied on a religious minority among his country’s Muslims — the Alawite sect of Islam — he made de facto accommodations with other minorities. Regimes based on minorities, while they may privilege their own minority in various ways, tend to operate a secular system to avoid being overwhelmed by the religious majority.

The Syrian civil war has been a catastrophe for Syria’s Christians. 
Many have been killed. Many have fled. When Syria is one day reconstructed it will be substantially without what was until recently its big Christian minority. That is not to say Christians have suffered more than others, just that the civil war has played its part in cleansing the Middle East of its remaining Christians.
.. Christians fared a little better in Iraq under Saddam Hussein than during the past 10 years. 
For the sad reality is that more political freedom in the Arab world has almost always meant more Islamism, and at the least a greater civic emphasis on Islam and greater discomfort for Christian minorities.

Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that rules Gaza, makes life extremely uncomfortable for the Christian minority. 

Bethlehem was once a Christian city. No more. 

Australia has benefited enormously from the immigration of Lebanese Christians but this is evidence of that community’s decline in Lebanon. 

In Saudi Arabia it is illegal to practise Christianity, even for US troops when they were stationed there to protect the kingdom. 

Hatred of Christians is common across the Middle East. It was hostility to Christian infidels on Saudi soil that first motivated Osama bin Laden.

Nobody is going to do anything to help Christians in the Middle East. We might at least mourn their tragic and terrible passing.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Iran seeks post on key U.N. committee, Israel deems it "absurd"

From Reuters, 2 Dec 2014:

Iran is seeking a senior post on a United Nations committee that decides accreditation of non-governmental organizations, a move that Israel on Tuesday compared to gangster Al Capone running the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Iran was elected to the 19-member committee in April for a four-year term from 2015. The United States and Israel are also members of the committee, which acts as a kind of gatekeeper for rights groups and other NGOs seeking access to U.N. headquarters to lobby and participate in meetings and other events.

When Iran was first elected to the committee, the United States sharply criticized it as a "troubling outcome" because of what it said was Tehran's poor human rights record. The U.S. mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment on Iran's bid to become vice chair of the committee.

In a letter obtained by Reuters, Iran presented its candidacy for vice-chair of the committee, which will begin meeting in late January.

Israel, which views Iran and its nuclear program as an existential threat, was clearly displeased by the idea.

"Imagine if Iran ran this committee in the same way it runs its country - human rights activists would be detained, journalists would be tortured, and anyone with a social media account would find himself arrested on fabricated charges,"
Israeli U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor told Reuters.

Iranian officials were not immediately available to comment on Prosor's remarks.

...Late last month a U.N. General Assembly committee adopted a resolution condemning Iran's human rights record and urging the government to make good on promises of reform.