Thursday, December 01, 2011

It is time for Muslims to extend the hand of reconciliation and peace to the Jewish people

From A Letter to Gaza, 15 April 2010, by Nonie Darwish:

...Dear Gaza resident,
... I am not the enemy of Arabs and I assure you that I love my original culture and people. What makes me different is that I do not only love Arabs, but I also love the Jewish people. I am speaking my conscience.  I respect their right to live in peace in their tiny homeland, Israel. I understand how that could be puzzling and unbelievable to many Arabs, to love both Jews and Arabs.
We Arabs have suffered from an unnatural and consistent indoctrination into Islamic supremacy and Jew hatred for over 1400 years. Thus it has become unfathomable to the Arab mind to comprehend loving both Arabs and Jews and wishing both well. Our culture has deprived us for many centuries from loving all of humanity as equals, through intense religious indoctrination resulting in self-imposed isolation and non-integration with other cultures. This isolation and jihad against non-Muslims has become increasingly difficult to maintain. Muslims everywhere are trying desperately to save face, reform Islam’s image and deny the undeniable. But they also want to have their cake and eat it too. While they are telling the world Islam is a religion of peace, they still want to continue with the jihad against non-Muslim countries. While one leader says, let’s kill all the Jews and take over Rome, another says to Western media that Islam is a religion of peace and we are deeply offended by the anti-Islam rhetoric. To play this sick game, Muslim culture must live a dysfunctional double life where everyone is deceived, including Muslims.
Thus to do the kind of jihad that Bin Laden, Ahmadinejad, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Assad, Nasser, Saudi jihadists etc, do and which is dictated by Sharia, Muslims find it hard to be honest. Thus, Muslims must claim victimhood in order to justify jihad. The entire Muslim world is using your people, the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza, to justify their jihad against not only Israel, but also all non-Muslim countries. That includes Iran, which supports Hamas and Hezbollah.
Your people in Gaza should have realized this game a long time ago, but you refuse to see and be open about who is your true oppressor. Arab and Muslim media is using and abusing your people in order to justify their Islamic jihad around the world. That is why they never want to resolve your problem and want you to suffer and live in constant terror against Israel.
Under Islamic law, non-Muslim countries are never equal to Muslim countries and actually their sovereignty as a non-Muslim nation must always be challenged by Islamic jihad. Islamic law codified jihad as a permanent war with non-Muslims to establish the religion. Muslims thus have to use Taquiyya, lies, to legitimize their aggression on Israel and the West. That is why Muslim countries can never abandon the constant hate propaganda, lies and misinformation about Israel and the West. If that ends, their jihad ends. The UN must be constantly bombarded by complaints from Arab countries against Israel. The Arab street must be constantly bombarded with ridiculous accusations and Zionist conspiracies. Lately on Syrian TV a Syrian intellectual accused Israel of stealing human organs in Haiti while they were helping them after the earthquake. This is not something new; it started in the 7th century, when the prophet Mohammed accused the Jews of treason to justify killing and expelling them and taking over their wealth. To explain this away, he stated that Jews are worthy of this treatment since they are the descendants of apes pigs and enemies of Allah. Muslims still use the same dynamic and the world still falls for it every time.
The Arab mind was trained to never venture outside of the box of Islamic superiority, and that prevented us from treating the rest of humanity as equals. It is alien to Muslim preachers today to preach love to all of humanity and wishing non-Muslims the same human rights as Muslims. I have never heard that from a Muslim preacher. Only after 9/11 and in the West today, do we see some Muslim preachers trying to preach some Western values and engage in interfaith dialogue, in order to rehabilitate the image of Islam in the West and attract more converts.
I often get mail from secular Muslims who ask me: I can understand that you chose to leave Islam, but how can you support the Jews? I get mail like this because, in the Muslim mindset, loving, accepting and feeling good about Jews or Christians and thinking of them as equals, is unthinkable and an act of treason to Islam itself and even worse. It is as though the whole religion of Islam is dedicated to hating and killing Jews.
After centuries of this kind of education, the Muslim world produced a dysfunctional society, unable to relate to the rest of the world. While wanting to convince the world they are a religion of peace, do not be afraid of Islam, they are still hell-bent on conquering the world for Islam. That is Islam’s dilemma today.
What I, and a few others, are trying to do is to bring the truth to both Muslims and non-Muslims to finally face this sick game. We want to encourage Arabs to look at Jews and others as human beings and not as enemies to conquer.
What kind of God will tell his followers to kill more than half of humanity if they don’t submit to Islam? The Muslim world today is a disaster waiting to happen. Ahmadinejad, who is not an Arab, wants to continue the Islamic jihad against Jews by destroying Israel. I have news to especially the Left in Europe and America: Islamic jihad will not end with Israel; you will be next.

...Our rejection of life is not a coincidence: since jihad does not value life, then it must value death. The first casualty of the jihad principle is peace and that is why I never learned peace as a value in Gaza. I have never heard a peaceful song in Arabic. To think of peace with the Jews is equal to treason to Islam. Rejection of peace has detrimental consequences to the healthy functioning of the Arab personality, family, society and the whole region. It is not a coincidence that Saudis reject under the law any celebration of Valentine’s Day, reject celebrating love between a man and a woman, teaching peace and compassion to their children towards the others. Just look at our Islamic law books and see the most cruel and unusual punishments ever created in any culture on earth. Only a culture that demands war and terror can promote such cruelty.
...Dear Gaza resident, yes, I cannot blame the Jewish people, or the government of Israel, for what you call the ‘misery’ of the Palestinians. I can only blame Arab and Islamic culture which used and abused you and which you allowed. I believe that this is an Arab self-inflicted crisis that has nothing to do with Israel.
Arab education has never told us the truth about the Israeli people and the story from their side and what Jerusalem means to them. We were told that Jerusalem was a Muslim city simply because Mohammed dreamt one night that he went to the farthest mosque but he never mentioned Jerusalem. The Koran never mentioned Jerusalem, which is mentioned hundreds of times in the Bible as the heart and soul of the Jewish people.
We as Muslims never respected other religions holy cites and always claimed them to Islam; even Spain and India are being claimed as Muslim land. It was the tradition of Muslim conquerors to convert churches and temples to mosques and that is exactly what happened to the Jewish Temple Mount when 100 years after the prophet Mohammed died, Muslim conquerors built the mosque right on top of it. Just imagine if Jews or Christians had built a temple on top of the Kaaba in Mecca. This is how Islam has treated the Jews.
It is time for Muslims to seek redemption and forgiveness and to extend the hand of reconciliation and peace to the Jewish people.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

‘Mysterious Explosion Damaged Iranian Nuclear Site’

From The London Times, 30 Nov 2011, by Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu:

A blast damages an Iranian nuclear site. "It was not accidental."
Iranian nuclear site after explosion
Iranian nuclear site after explosion
Institute for Science and International Security 
The explosion earlier this week that Iran said was at a uranium enrichment site actually damaged a nuclear plant and was far from accidental, The London Times reported Wednesday.
The newspaper quoted Israeli intelligence officials as saying that satellite photos revealed extensive damage from the explosion at Isfahan, near Tehran. The Israeli sources, so far unconfirmed, added that smoke was seen pouring out from a conversion plant and that it was clear that the blast was not accidental.
The government-controlled Fars News Agency had claimed that the explosion was caused by a military exercise, after having initially denied any incident took place.
Two week ago, an explosion at a military base that killed a top general and 16 others also resulted in extensive damage, according to published satellite images.
The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security told The New York Times, “It was pretty amazing to see that the entire facility was destroyed. There were only a few buildings left standing.”
The institute’s report author Paul Brannan added that his sources indicated the explosion occurred during work that was supposed to be “a major milestone in the development of a new missile.”
One of the casualties was Gen. Hassan Tehrani Moghaddam, founder of Iran’s missile program, and the explosion appeared to take place at a missile base.

Tunisia's new constitution to oppose Zionism, ties with Israel

From Israel Hayom, Newsletter, Monday November 28, 2011, by Shlomo Cesana:

Two largest Tunisian parties support draft of new Tunisian constitution, which includes clause condemning normalization with Israel • Foreign Ministry officials fear government-sponsored hatred of Israel may spread to other Middle Eastern countries.

Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda party in Tunisia, which won a majority of the votes in recent parliamentary elections. Photo: Reuters 

The new Tunisian government is gearing up to ratify a new constitution, and its language includes a section condemning Zionism and ruling out any friendly ties with Israel.
Tunisia was the first country to experience a popular uprising in what would later be known as the Arab Spring, sending former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fleeing to Saudi Arabia in January. Tunisians held their first open elections on Oct. 23 in which the moderate Islamist Ennahda (Renaissance) party, lead by Rachid Ghannouchi, won 30 percent of the 217-seat assembly. The second largest percentage of votes went to the secular and liberal Democratic Progressive Party.
Both leading parties are believed to support constitutional clauses that oppose the normalization of ties with Israel.
Israeli officials are concerned that government-sponsored hatred of Israel in Tunisia will spread to other Middle East countries, such as Egypt, potentially destabilizing the entire region. The officials noted that Tunisia is considered a moderate Arab country and has maintained friendly relations with Israel since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993.
A senior official said that if Tunisia's new constitution is ratified with the anti-Israel clause intact, it could endanger the Jews living in the country. The clause, the official said, could lead to violence against Jews and encourage radicals to block any attempt to forge closer ties between the two countries.
Aviva Raz-Schechter, deputy director-general of the Middle East Division of the Foreign Ministry, held a meeting on Sunday to discuss strategies for keeping the anti-Israel clause out of the Tunisian constitution. Raz-Schechter said that if the clause was inserted, "It will inevitably affect other Middle Eastern countries as well."
Foreign Ministry officials were reportedly considering recruiting the help of other Western countries, to offer and apply economic sanctions and incentives to pressure Tunisia to drop the anti-Israel clause. One channel being considered is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, of which Tunisia is a member.

The Arab world refuses to acknowledge that the Jewish state of Israel is here to stay

Mr. President,
...It takes a well of truth to water the seeds of peace. Yet, we continue to witness a drought of candor in this body’s discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict...
For any who have been here on November 29th before, today is déjà vu. Some of you may have noticed that some minor changes have been taking place in the Middle East lately, but any changes in this body’s resolutions condemning Israel are very, very rare.
Indeed, it didn’t take a creative writer to craft the language in these resolutions. The exact same text is copied and pasted, year after year – much of it dating back five decades.
The account we heard today is one-sided. It is unilateral. It is unjust. And it is unhelpful. It presents a distorted and impartial version of history.  It transforms the cause of Palestinian self-determination into a deliberate attempt to denigrate, defame, and delegitimize the State of Israel.
...Let me take a moment to remind this Assembly about what actually occurred on this day 64 years ago – and in the days that followed.
On November 29, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition then British-Mandate Palestine into two states: one Jewish, one Arab. Two states for two peoples.
The Jewish population accepted that plan and declared a new state in its ancient homeland. It reflected the Zionist conviction that it was both necessary and possible to live in peace with our neighbors in the land of our forefathers.
The Arab inhabitants rejected the plan and launched a war of annihilation against the new Jewish state, joined by the armies of five Arab members of the United Nations.
...As a result of the war, there were Arabs who became refugees. A similar number of Jews, who lived in Arab countries, were forced to flee their homes as well. They, too, became refugees.
The difference between these two distinct populations was – and still is – that Israel absorbed the refugees into our society. Our neighbors did not.
Refugee camps in Israel gave birth to thriving towns and cities. Refugee camps in Arab Countries gave birth to more Palestinian refugees.
We unlocked our new immigrants’ vast potential. The Arab World knowingly and intentionally kept their Palestinian populations in the second class status of permanent refugees.
In Lebanon for many years and still today, the law prohibits Palestinians from owning land – and from working in the public sector or as doctors and lawyers. Palestinians are banned from these professions.
In Kuwait, the once significant Palestinian population was forcibly expelled from the country in 1991. Few remain.
In Syria, thousands of Palestinians had to flee refugee camps in Latakia last August when President Assad shelled their homes with naval gunboats.
In the vast majority of Arab Countries, Palestinians have no rights of citizenship. It is no coincidence that the Arab World’s responsibilities for the “inalienable rights” of these Palestinians never appear in the resolutions before you.
Mr. President,
The basic question underlying our conflict for 64 years has not changed. That question is: has the Arab World – and particularly the Palestinians – internalized that Israel is here to stay and will remain the Nation-state of the Jewish People?
It is still unclear whether they are inspired by the promise of building a new state, or the goal of destroying an existing one.
Two months ago, President Abbas stood at the podium in this very hall and tried to erase the unbroken and unbreakable connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.
He said the following:
“I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the birthplace of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him).”
This was not an oversight. It was not a slip of the tongue. It was yet another deliberate attempt to deny and erase more than 3,000 years of Jewish history. The Arab leaders from those two nations that sought peace have offered a different message.
For example, in 1995, King Hussein came to the United States and said (quote): 
“For our part, we shall continue to work for the new dawn when all the Children of Abraham and their descendants are living together in the birthplace of their three great monotheistic religions.”
In 1977, President Sadat came to Israel’s Knesset and quoted this verse from the Koran: 
“We believe in God and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes and in the books given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets from their lord.”
President Sadat and King Hussein spoke of THREE monotheistic religions, not ONE or TWO.
Mr. President,
The resolution that gives the 29th of November significance – General Assembly resolution 181 – speaks of the creation of a “Jewish State” no less than 25 times. We still do not hear Palestinian leaders utter the term.  
The Palestinian leadership refuses to acknowledge Israel’s character as a Jewish state. You will never hear them say “two states for two peoples”. ...
Palestinian leaders call for an independent Palestinian state, but insist that the Palestinian people return to the Jewish state. This is a proposition that no one who believes in the right of Israel to exist could ever accept.
The idea that Israel will be flooded with millions of Palestinians is a non-starter. The international community knows it. The Palestinian leadership knows it. But the Palestinian people aren’t hearing it. At this very moment, the gap between their perception and reality remains the major obstacle to peace.
Let me repeat that: the so-called right of return is and will remain the major obstacle to peace. It is not settlements. It is not the laundry list of baseless accusations launched against Israel in today’s resolutions.
...For decades, this body has rubberstamped nearly every Palestinian whim, no matter how counter-factual or counter-productive. What has this accomplished? The lip service of this body has only done a disservice for peace.
Mr. President,
True friends of the Palestinians have a responsibility to tell them the truth. 
They will stop promoting the distorted version of history that characterizes this day, and start delivering the real lessons of history that the Palestinian leadership now refuses to heed. ...bilateral negotiations are the only route to two states, for two peoples – living side-by-side in peace and security; negotiations that resolve the outstanding concerns of both sides... they continue to run away from the negotiating table, the Palestinian leadership continues to move closer into their embrace of Hamas – an internationally recognized terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel....
...Even more than the words spoken in the speeches here today – or the words in the resolutions before you— it is the words not spoken that speak volumes. This Assembly has made clear that it does not stand in solidarity with many people in our region today.
In this hall, I hear no solidarity with the one million Israeli men, women and children who live under the constant rain rockets, mortars and missiles from the Gaza Strip.
I hear no solidarity with the 16-year old boy who was killed last April when a Hamas anti-Tank Missile struck his school bus. Or the thousands of other Israeli civilians who have been killed and injured.
I hear no solidarity with the Israeli children who learn the alphabet at the same time that they learn the names Kassam, Grad, and Katyusha – the rockets that keep them out of school for weeks at a time.
I hear no solidarity with the Palestinians who are victims of brutal Hamas rule – with the political opponents who are tortured, the women who are subjugated, or the children who are used as suicide bombers and human shields.
And – Mr. President, today I hear no solidarity with the many people in the Middle East who are being repressed and slaughtered every single day for demanding their freedom. From Syria to Iran to Yemen, these people are no longer content with their leader’s explanations that Israel is to blame for all the problems of the Middle East – a fiction that is advanced through resolutions like those before us today.
Today the People of the Middle East demand real answers for their plight.
I also heard no discussion today about the incitement that continues to fill the West Bank and Gaza, where the next generation of Palestinian children is being taught that suicide bombers are heroes, that Jews have no connection to the Holy Land, and that they must seek to annihilate the State of Israel.
From cradles to kindergarten classrooms; from the grounds of summer camps to the stands of football stadiums; from the names of public squares to the public pronouncements of Palestinian leaders, these messages are everywhere.
Just last month, President Abbas declared that the Palestinian Authority would provide a grant of up to $5,000 to every terrorist released in exchange for Gilad Shalit, Israel’s kidnapped soldier.
These are people like Ibrahim Shammasina, who helped to murder four Israelis, including two teenagers. People like Walid Anajas, who planned bombings in the heart of Jerusalem and Rishon Lezion, which killed 32.
People like Wafa-al Bis, who unsuccessfully tried to blow herself up in an Israeli hospital.
Washed in the blood of innocents, these terrorists are being held up as role models for the next generation of Palestinian children.
Palestinian Authority television broadcast President Abbas’ remarks to these released terrorists last October. He said, “You are people of struggle and Jihad fighters for Allah and the homeland... Your sacrifice and your effort and your actions were not in vain.”
Mr. President,
Sustainable peace must take root in homes, schools, and media that teach tolerance and understanding so that it can grow in hearts and minds.
It must come from a Palestinian leadership willing to tell its people about the difficult compromises that they will have to make for statehood.
It will come through the hard work of state-building, not the old habit of state-bashing...
Thank you, Mr. President

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Did Hamas ‘Defector’ Mosab Yousef Dupe All of Us?

The popularity of a recent YouTube video prompts me to post this article from PJ Media, 11 May 2011, by Walid Shoebat:

Listen to what the former Israeli spy and Son of Hamas author says when he speaks Arabic: it’s clear he’s more double agent than turncoat.
While a prisoner of Israel in 1996, Mosab Hassan Yousef — the son of Sheik Hassan Yousef, a founding member of Hamas — was approached by Shin Bet agents who looked to recruit him to spy within Hamas. He agreed. Mosab’s information soon had Shin Bet calling him “the most reliable source in the Hamas leadership,” and Israeli lives were undoubtedly saved as a result of Mosab’s collaboration.
Despite this success, Yousef has since revealed himself to be more double agent than turncoat.
During the initial contact within Israel’s Maskubia (Jerusalem’s central prison), Mosab agreed to collaborate in exchange for Israel not targeting his father. After years of providing valuable intelligence, in 2007 Mosab declared his conversion to Christianity, moved to California, and went public with his story. His tale was a sensation, drawing attention and praise from U.S. pro-Israel organizations. But his tale has since been revealed to be a “long con,” the evidence coming from when he speaks publicly in Arabic.
Mosab did not convert to what the West would recognize as Christianity, but to a fiery, Palestinian brand of the faith that is vehemently anti-Israel. According to Mosab, his main goal in coming to the U.S. is to infiltrate the main source of international support for Israel: the American church. From an interview with Al-Arabiya:
During my tours in universities and even churches, [I found] the real support for Israel stems from the church in the West. … We need to understand the difference between “revenge” and “resistance” and once the Palestinians do, we will have our victory against Israel.
Activists like Mosab know very well that Western media rarely translate their doublespeak. He continues:
Israel is the problem and as an occupation it needs to end. … There are many ways to do this besides the coward explosive operations.

Mosab’s formula? Infiltrate the West with his book:

This will be the first time in history that a Palestinian book will find success so that the Western reader can see for himself the reality of what goes on over there. People in the West do not know what happens over there.
On the Arabic-language show Daring Question, Mosab wore the symbol of pro-Palestine advocates, the kaffiyeh:
With a balanced approach I discuss the life of the Palestinian child under the Israeli occupation, of course my life suffered under all the problems of murder and the criminal operations that were carried out by the Israeli occupation against my people, my family, myself, and against humanity.
To Mosab, the Palestinian struggle was lacking: while he praises Hamas leaders as “heroes and glorious defenders,” he instructs them to enlist more educated political defenders like himself:
With regret, our great leaders and mighty heroes and glorious defenders over there did not realize that instead of spending their wealth and monies on silly issues, they needed to enlist in their ranks writers and educated individuals in order to reverse the image of the Palestinian struggle.
Mosab stated that he is only against Hamas methodology, but not their agenda:
It appeared at first that my desire was to seek revenge against Hamas. … How could I do such a thing … revenge [against] my own father? He is one of the leaders of Hamas.
Perhaps the most shocking revelation: Mosab asks Arabs not to report terrorist activity. The host of Daring Question asked a caller:
If you were in Mosab’s position and have two choices: either someone from Hamas will be killed, or school children in a bus will be killed, will you report it?
The Arab Christian caller vacillated, then Mosab spoke:
If I was in your shoes, you should not report it to Israel.  I do not encourage anyone to give information to Israel or collaborate with Israel. If anyone hears me right now and they are in relation to Israeli security I advise them to work for the interest of their own people — number one — and do not work with the [Israeli] enemy against the interest of our people. They should collaborate with the Palestinian Authority only.

Most in the West do not understand the Arab “Christian” position when it comes to Israel. Witness the Daring Question host Rasheed, a Christian convert from Islam himself, pardoning Mosab from any wrongdoing: the pardon is not for Mosab’s connection to Hamas, but for his collaboration with Israel. To Rasheed, Mosab’s collaboration was during his Muslim life, while he was still unforgiven:
He [Mosab] did not become Christian then collaborate with Israel. He used to collaborate with Israel, then became Christian.
Mosab’s book Son of Hamas — published in English — does not express Mosab’s views as openly as his Arabic statements do, and the book is additionally littered with factual errors and exaggerations.
For example: Mosab portrays the Jerusalem prison as a center for torture and persecution of Palestinians. The reality is much kinder; each inmate has his own bed and an in-the-cell shower as well.
I know this — I was a prisoner there myself.
We ate three full meals a day, and drank tea or sweet punch. And Mosab fails to mention that the Maskubia had Jewish inmates as well, who received the same treatment as the Palestinians and ate out of the same menu. Yes, you were beaten by security when lives were at stake: I witnessed first-hand Israeli soldiers in the corridor beating an inmate who attempted to kill his cellmate (I was selected to clean the mess afterward). What was so shocking to me at the time? The attempted murderer was a Jew.
I have never heard of Israelis killing Palestinians in prison. Yet Palestinian prisoners do kill each other, as Mosab himself describes. Palestinian inmates killed my landlord Muneer Abu-Sayb’a from Bethlehem, yet his death was blamed on Israel. My friend Basem Hanuneh was brutally murdered — his privates removed and stuffed in his mouth — which was also blamed on Israel.
Mosab is now touring churches to end Israel’s lifeline. Many Jews and Christians in the West are unable to determine friend from foe in the Mideast; they are not able to read what is said in Arabic. They must seek translations, and must be aware of double agents like Mosab.

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing: The Islamist Justice and Development Party in Morocco

From JCPA, November 28, 2011 by :

The Justice and Development Party (Hizb Al-Adala Wa At-tanmia), which is identified with the Muslim Brotherhood, has won the elections in Morocco held on 26 November 2011. 
The party won 107 of the 395 parliamentary seats. The party said in an official announcement that, according to not-yet-final results, it had won over 100 of the 395 parliamentary seats. According to a constitutional amendment, King Mohammed VI will have to assign the task of forming the government to the leader of the largest party – Abdelilah Benkirane, head of the Justice and Development Party.
This party is the political wing of the Uniqueness and Reform movement which represents the Muslim Brotherhood in Morocco. 
Its victory constitutes a further triumph for the Islamist movement in the context of the “Arab Spring,” so soon after the victory of the Ennahda movement in the Tunisian elections.
  • In Egypt, the three-stage elections begin on 28 November 2011, and the Muslim Brotherhood has a chance to make substantial gains. 
  • The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria, which is fighting to overthrow the Alawite regime of Assad, is backed by Turkey, which regards it as an alternative to the existing government. 
  • In Libya, the new government has undertaken to make Sharia law a primary source of legislation. 
  • In Yemen, the Islamist movements have played a central role in the revolt against the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. 
  • Earlier, in 2006, the Hamas movement – the branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Palestinian territories – triumphed in the Palestinian Authority elections, and since then Hamas has entrenched its rule in Gaza and, for all intents and purposes, has become an independent political entity.
The Muslim Brotherhood branches in the various countries are full partners to the worldwide movement’s ideology. Each one, however, has freedom of action to devise its own tactics in line with specific political conditions. 
In Morocco, the Justice and Development Party chose to downplay the extreme Islamist message and mainly focus on fighting corruption and improving the economy, issues that took the lion’s share of its electoral platform.
That platform, in its brief political section, stated that the party would aim to strengthen dialogue and cooperation with all of the EU countries and Canada while, in Morocco’s relations with the United States, pursuing an appropriate diplomacy and safeguarding national interests. The formulation in the Israeli context was restrained, and included a commitment to the “defense of the just issues of the people and first and foremost the issue of Palestine, and the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and the establishment of its independent state whose capital is Jerusalem, the Palestine problem being a national problem.”1
The ideological platform of the parent party, the Uniqueness and Reform movement, reveals its true Islamist face. The section on the movement’s goals states that it seeks to instill the Islamic religion in the heart of the individual, the family, the society, the state, and the ummah, and to help spread Islam throughout the world.
The movement expressed unequivocal support for the armed struggle against Israel in the context of the Second Intifada, and for the terror attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. It referred to “Zionist and American aggression” as “the greatest and most dangerous manifestations of terror that modern history has known.”
In recent years Abdelilah Benkirane, leader of the Justice and Development Party and the designated prime minister, has made harshly anti-Israel statements that deny Israel’s right to exist and favor the armed struggle against it. Below are some quotations from his words.
From an interview to the Al-Mashaal weekly in 2011:
As for Israel, it has a special status. It is not like the United States but rather, in our view, a state that is waging a war against the people of Palestine. We, not as the Muslim Arab people but as the Moroccan people, do not see the Palestinian problem as a problem of our brothers the Palestinians alone, but as our own problem….If Israel were to live with the Palestinians within a single state as occurred in South Africa, our position would change. However, at present we regard Israel as a hostile state.
From an interview to the Hamas website that is documented on the Uniqueness and Reform movement’s website, at the time of Benkirane’s arrival in Gaza in March 2009:
The inhabitants of Arab Morocco do not think there is only a duty to identify with the Palestinians, but want to wage a jihad struggle alongside them….Most unfortunately, the political circumstances, the borders, the soldiers, and the legal and military barriers that exist between the Muslims prevent these feelings from being expressed as they should….The Moroccans see the Islamic resistance movement Hamas as the mother of resistance and steadfastness. The Moroccans very much love the Hamas movement…and they love to recall at every occasion the acts of heroism and sacrifice of this great and mighty movement….All of the Moroccans stand beside the Palestinians and the noble Al-Quds [Jerusalem], and if the borders are opened to the Moroccans and the obstacles are removed, you will see how the masses come to help Al-Aqsa and Al-Quds.
Benkirane, along with tens of other Muslim religious savants, signed two manifestos that openly declare support for jihad as the only way to liberate Palestine in its entirety and call for a hostile stance toward the United States. Below are quotations from the manifestos.
From the manifesto in support of Gaza:
No condemnation of the [Palestinian] struggle; instead, recognition of its legitimacy….Official condemnation of the U.S. stance of supporting and assisting the occupying entity and a call to ambassadors to hold consultations and reconsider relations [with the United States]….The importance of seeking to prepare an untrammeled Islamic legal manifesto that will clarify the Islamic dimension of the Palestine issue and the legitimacy of the jihad and the struggle against the occupying Jews….Adoption of the approach of an economic boycott against Israel and the Zionist entity….An economic jihad to help our brethren in Gaza….Emphasis on support for the path of struggle and for the legitimate jihad in Palestine as the means of its liberation.
From the manifesto calling for the lifting of the siege on the Palestinian people:
We the undersigned on this manifesto emphasize the complete support of the ummah for the legal and noble Islamic position of the leaders of the Palestinian people, who belong to Hamas and other jihad organizations, in refusing to recognize the state of “Israel” and its fraudulent right to exist in Palestine. We regard recognition [of Israel] as a violation of the tenets of Islamic law and the consensus of the ummah….
We emphasize the right of the Muslim Palestinian people to struggle aggressively for its land…and we view this resistance as legally, Islamically mandated warfare and a political interest, it being forbidden to call for its condemnation or evade it.
We regard every signature on agreements or treaties that renounce the right of struggle, or the right of return of the refugees, or the right of the Islamic identity of Al-Quds in particular and of Palestine in general, as an offense to the ummah, a deviation from its fundamental principles, and a sacrifice of its interests.
We view the jihad-fighting Palestinian resistance, with all of its organizations, as one of the shining stars in the skies of jihad-fighting Islam….
The undersigned affirm to the masses of the ummah that the duty of liberating Jerusalem and rescuing the captured Al-Aqsa Mosque is not only a duty of the Palestinians alone but of the entire ummah, and therefore solidarity with those who cling tenaciously to the sacred land is not an act of voluntary will but, rather, an Islamic legal obligation and a historical responsibility.
In sum, the media’s accounts of a “moderate” Justice and Development Party winning the Moroccan elections do not accurately reflect this party’s ideology. The purported “moderation” is a tactic aimed at gaining a political foothold, a capacity, as part of the government, to enhance the public’s readiness for Islamic jurisprudence as the source of the country’s constitution and laws.
A party that is a wolf in sheep’s clothing has won the Moroccan elections, and despite its platform’s declarative commitment to strengthen ties with the West, the party’s outlook, its leaders’ statements, and the platform of its parent party point clearly to the stance of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is hostile to the West and its culture and views Israel as a cardinal enemy. The victory of the Muslim Brotherhood in Morocco further energizes the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt for the elections beginning on November 28, and encourages the Brotherhood’s branches that are fighting the existing regime in other countries. The domino effect that began with the revolt in Tunisia is coloring the Middle East green, as the Islamic revolution gradually alters the regional balance of power and, eventually, could well forge a new front to challenge the existing world order.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Radical Islamist Threats in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The turmoil in the Arab world is changing the strategic landscape around Israel. However, one area that has received little attention is the eastern Mediterranean basin, where elements of radical Islam could gain control. In this region, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey display Islamist tendencies, leaving Israel and Greece as the only Western allies.

A review of the political dynamics in the states on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean generates great concern about the ability of the West to continue enjoying unrestricted access to this area.

Evolving political events in Libya indicate that radical Islamic elements will definitely play a greater role in the future of the country. If the transition to a new regime descends into civil war, the ensuing chaos may allow greater freedom of action for Muslim extremists from the shores of this Mediterranean country.

Next to Libya is Egypt, which is in the midst of a great confrontation between the military and the Islamist parties over the future of the country. In any case, the planned elections will in all probability catapult the Islamist parties into a dominant role in the emerging Egyptian political system.

Apart from managing important ports on the Mediterranean, Egypt also controls the Suez Canal, a waterway that links Europe to the Persian Gulf and the Orient. This is a critical passageway that might fall into the hands of the Islamists.

Significantly, Egypt has already opened the Suez Canal to military vessels belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran. This enhances the ability of radical Iran to supply its Mediterranean allies, such as the current regime in Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza. Moreover, it has enhanced Iranian access to Muslim states in the Balkans, namely Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo, thereby increasing its influence in that part of the Mediterranean.

Even if the Egyptian military is able to curtail the Islamist forces in the state, its grip over the Sinai Peninsula is a different issue. The tenuous control of Egypt over Sinai has weakened since the fall of the Mubarak regime. Sinai has become a highway for weapons smuggling into Gaza and a base for the activities of several Muslim terror organizations. This situation could lead to the “Somalization” of Sinai, negatively affecting the safety of naval trade along the Mediterranean, the approaches to the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea.

Next to Sinai is Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, a radical Islamist organization allied with Iran. Israel's enforced naval blockade on Gaza has increasingly been criticized by the international community. Considering the recent political changes in Egypt and their detrimental impact on the Egyptian-Israeli relations, the containment of the Islamist threat from Gaza will become even more challenging in the near future.

North of Israel, along the Mediterranean coast, sits Lebanon, a state dominated by radical Shiite Hizballah whose ports are inhospitable from a Western perspective. Hizballah has already laid claim to some of the huge Israeli-found gas fields in the sea that could diminish Europe’s energy dependence on Russia and Turkey. Moreover, Syria, an enemy of Israel and a current ally of Iran, exerts considerable influence in Lebanon. Its Mediterranean shores, north of Lebanon, are also hostile to the West and its ports even supply services to the Russian navy. The Assad regime in Syria faces great domestic opposition and may fall. Considering the current trends in the Arab world, a Syrian successor regime could also be Islamist and anti-Western.

The next state on the eastern Mediterranean coastline is the AKP-ruled Turkey. The country has over the past few years shifted away from a pro-Western foreign policy, instead adopting a radical stance on many issues. Its current government supports Hamas and Hizballah, opposes sanctions on Iran and holds strident anti-Israel positions. This reflects the AKP's clear Islamic coloration. Moreover, Turkey has displayed huge ambitions for leadership in the Middle East, Central Asia, the Caucasus, the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean. A combination of Turkish nationalism, neo-Ottoman nostalgia and Islamic-Jihadist impulses has pushed Turkey into an aggressive stance on several regional issues.

Turkey has flexed its naval muscles, threatening Israel that it will escort flotillas trying to break the blockade on Gaza. It has also threatened Cyprus in order to secure its share of the potential energy riches south of the island. Turkey is interested in gaining control over the maritime gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean as this would help fulfill its ambitions to serve as an energy bridge to the West, thereby creating a dependence on it. This may lead Turkish troops, stationed in the northern part of divided Cyprus, to complete the conquest of the island started in 1974. Such a Turkish takeover would not only hurt Western geo-economic interests, but would constitute a significant Western loss of the strategically situated island. The Cypriot island served as a bone of contention in the past between Persia and the ancient Greeks, and between the Ottomans and Venetians. In short, it represents the struggle between East and West.

West of Turkey is Greece, a democratic Western state with a clear interest to protect the Cypriots from Muslim domination. Its current economic crisis, however, might erode its limited military ability to parry the Turkish challenge alone. With the exception of Israel, all other eastern Mediterranean states would likely favor the return of Cyprus to Muslim rule and the ascendancy of Islam in the eastern Mediterranean.

Western influence in the eastern Mediterranean is being challenged by the growing radical Islamic influence in the region. The access of Iran to Mediterranean waters, the disruptive potential of failed states, and the competition across countries for energy resources is destabilizing the region. But it is not clear that Western powers, particularly the US, are aware of the possibility of losing the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea to radical Islam or are preparing in any way to forestall such a scenario. Foolishly, they seem to believe that the so-called “Arab Spring” heralds an improved political environment and that Turkey represents “moderate Islam.” American naiveté and European gullibility could become extremely costly in strategic terms.

*Efraim Inbar is a professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.