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 Attacks

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.