Friday, August 05, 2011

Scoring points with Terrorism

From NRO, Clifford D. May*:
Who deserves the blame for the terrorist attacks in Norway? My answer would be the perpetrator and no one else — unless it turns out there really is a modern Knights Templar or some other organized movement that sent him on his mission of mass murder.

But there are those who disagree, who see this atrocity as part of a wider conspiracy — or, perhaps, as a convenient stick with which to beat their political and ideological opponents.

One example: The New York Times last week ran an editorial arguing that Anders Behring Breivik was “influenced by public debate and the extent to which that debate makes ideas acceptable.” The “broader” issue, says the Times, is that “inflammatory political rhetoric is increasingly tolerated.”
...A few days later, the Times brought in reinforcements, publishing an op-ed two Norwegian commentators, Jostein Gaarder and Thomas Hylland Eriksen. They asserted that “the hatred and contempt from which [Breivik] drew his deranged determination were shared with many others throughout the international right-wing blogosphere,” which they characterized as “Islamophobic” and consisting of “loosely connected networks of people — including students, civil servants, capitalists, and neo-Nazis. Many do not even see themselves as ‘right-wing,’ but as defenders of enlightened values, including feminism.”

Gaarder and Eriksen’s meaning is plain too: Those concerned about such issues as gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia, honor killings within Muslim communities in the West, and the genital mutilation of Muslim girls are, objectively, on the side of neo-Nazis and therefore they also should put a sock in it.
Exploiting atrocities to settle political scores through guilt by association is a nasty game, but if we are going to play it, I’d look elsewhere. I’d start with Reuters or, more precisely, what we might call the Reuters Doctrine. After the attacks of 9/11, there were individuals and groups (emphatically including the policy institute I head) making the case that terrorism should be defined as the use of violence against civilians to further a political cause, and that expressing a grievance by intentionally killing other people’s children is never justified.

We argued that civilized people, of whatever religion or nationality, ought to be able to agree on this principle, and, if they did, then those who target innocents would be seen only as terrorists, unequivocally condemned by the “international community.”

Reuters disagreed. The global news agency took the position that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” This expression of moral relativism was embraced by many in the media, on the far left and far right, in academia, government, and transnational organizations. And that may indeed have paved the way for Breivik — who unquestionably fancies himself a fighter for European freedom — to believe he could use terrorism to focus attention on his grievances without de-legitimizing those grievances. If it works for militant Islamists, why not for a militant Norwegian?

In his rambling 1,500-page “manifesto,” Breivik lists the names of many individuals whose writing he has read and who are therefore now being accused of membership in the “Islamophobic blogosphere.” ...Does that imply that those writers share the blame for Breivik’s murders? Shall we burn their books? ...

Or should we reject as illogical and hypocritical the charge that anyone critical of Islamism is beyond the pale and tarred with Breivik’s brush?

Consider: Both the Sierra Club and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski are committed to fighting ecological degradation. Does that mean that all environmentalists have blood on their hands?...

Back to the Times editorial: It states that there is a “disturbing, and growing, intolerance across Europe for Muslims and other immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.” Where is the evidence for that? Which European countries have closed their borders to Muslim refugees? Which European countries have passed the equivalent of Jim Crow laws? Which European mass murderers have targeted innocent Muslims? The answer is none, but of course innocent Muslims have been slaughtered — and continue to be slaughtered — by Iran’s rulers, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, and Tehran-backed Shiite militias in Iraq. Do the math: Muslims, more often than Christians, Jews, or Hindus, are the victims of Islamic militants.

But nowhere in Europe do Muslims suffer oppression and discrimination on the level that religious and ethnic minorities do in most of the 50 or so countries that hold membership in the Organization of the Islamic Conference. (Can you find any editorials on this issue in the Times or other major newspapers?)

To be sure, there may be some Europeans and Americans who suspect that all or most or too many Muslims endorse the crimes of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Anwar al-Awlaki, and other self-proclaimed jihadis. That’s wrong. But it’s no less wrong to encourage the fiction that Muslims are victims and that Christians, Jews, and Hindus are their victimizers.

This construct already has led to a weird sort of affirmative action for Islamic extremists. For example, Naser Jason Abdo was awarded “conscientious objector” status by the U.S. Army not because he was morally opposed to killing but because he was morally opposed to killing fellow Muslims. Imagine if a U.S. soldier had refused deployment to the Balkans saying he couldn’t defend Bosnian Muslims against Serbian Christians. You think he’d have been regarded as a conscientious objector and given an honorable discharge?

If there were ever any doubts about the conscientiousness of Abdo’s objections to taking up arms, he cleared those up following his release from the Army when he immediately stocked up on guns and explosives, apparently intending to replicate the massacre carried out by Maj. Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood.

Hasan is another instance of what might be called reverse discrimination: Had he been a white supremacist instead of a Muslim supremacist, do you think his views would have been ignored and he would have been able to rise in the American military as he did?

Toward the end of his manifesto, Breivik argues that “democratic change” is an illusion and that the only answer is “armed resistance.” He predicts that “more moderate” political efforts will be “persecuted” and that attempts at “peaceful reform will be crushed,” leaving violence as the only alternative.

By demonizing those concerned by the pathologies afflicting the Muslim world and emanating from it, Times editorial writers and their allies are actually giving credence to Breivik’s worldview...

*Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism and political Islam.

Monday, August 01, 2011

PA continues to honor "Martyrs" and not worry about donors' grants

From PMW Bulletin, 31 July 2011, by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik:

Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas' advisor, Sabri Saidam, recently defended the PA's honoring of Palestinian "Martyrs" by naming streets after them and marking their birthdays. Palestinian Media Watch has reported on the PA policy of turning terrorists into role models by naming events and places after them. Abbas' advisor said Palestinians should continue this practice and not be concerned about the condemnation from foreign countries or the possibility that countries who support the PA financially will cut funding:

"Blessings to the souls of our Shahids (Martyrs), whom we will not forget - not for the sake of a grant, not for the sake of a deal..."

Earlier this year, Saidam expressed strong support for naming a square after the terrorist Dalal Mughrabi whose bus hijacking killed 37 Israeli civilians in 1978. The official PA daily reported that he "emphasized that the anniversary of Dalal's Martyrdom-seeking (i.e., her terror attack) should be made greater by inaugurating a [city] square in her name." Following a popular inauguration of the "Martyr Dalal Mughrabi Square," Saidam told Agence France-Presse:

"Every one of us has tried in his own way to express his pride in this Shahida [Martyr Dalal Mughrabi]."

In the recent article he wrote in the official PA daily, he also expressed sorrow over the fact that some Palestinians view the Martyrs "as a burden" and do not wish to commemorate them out of fear of evoking international condemnation:

"How it pains me to see people who view our Shahids (Martyrs) as a burden because the donors will be angry and some countries will complain, or because economic and everyday interests will be harmed... Blessings to the souls of our Shahids, whom we will not forget - not for the sake of a grant, not for the sake of a deal, and not for the sake of a position."

Saidam lamented that Palestinian youth don't know the names of past leaders, and mentioned three Fatah leaders from the 1960s: Abu Ali Iyad, Abd Al-Fatah Hamoud, Ahmad Al-Shuqeiri. Abu Ali Iyad was appointed head of Fatah military operations in 1966, and was responsible for several terror attacks. Abd Al-Fatah Hamoud was one of the founding members of Fatah and Ahmad Al-Shuqeiri was the first chairman of the PLO.

When Palestinian Media Watch publicized the PA's plans to inaugurate a square named after Mughrabi in 2010, international disapproval and criticism forced the PA to cancel the inauguration. However, Fatah went ahead and held informal inaugurations in 2010 and 2011.

As documented by Palestinian Media Watch, the PA has named numerous places and events after Dalal Mughrabi....

Norway's sordid complicity with Nazism and Hamas terrorism

From, by Alan M. Dershowitz:

In a recent interview, Norway's Ambassador to Israel has suggested that Hamas terrorism against Israel is more justified than the recent terrorist attack against Norway. 

... "We Norwegians consider the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel." In other words terrorism against Israeli citizens is the fault of Israel. The terrorism against Norway, on the other hand, was based on "an ideology that said that Norway, particularly the Labor Party, is foregoing Norwegian culture." 

It is hard to imagine that he would make such a provocative statement without express approval from the Norwegian government.

I can't remember many other examples of so much nonsense compressed in such short an interview. First of all, terrorism against Israel began well before there was any "occupation". The first major terrorist attack against Jews who had long lived in Jerusalem and Hebron began in 1929, when the leader of the Palestinian people, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, ordered a religiously-motivated terrorist attack that killed hundreds of religious Jews-many old, some quite young. [Actually the Mufti inspired "fedayeen" earlier attacks in the early 1920s against Jews and also against Arabs who opposed him - SL]

Terrorism against Jews continued through the 1930s. Once Israel was established as a state, but well before it captured the West Bank, terrorism became the primary means of attacking Israel across the Jordanian, Egyptian and Lebanese borders. If the occupation is the cause of the terror against Israel, what was the cause of all the terror that preceded any occupation?
Norway is the most anti-Semitic and anti-Israel country in Europe today. I was not surprised to hear such ahistorical bigotry from a Norwegian Ambassador. Norway is the most anti-Semitic and anti-Israel country in Europe today. I know, because I experienced both personally during a recent visit and tour of universities. No university would invite me to lecture, unless I promised not to discuss Israel. Norway forbids Jewish ritual slaughter, but not Islamic ritual slaughter. Its political and academic leaders openly make statements that cross the line from anti-Zionism to anti-Semitism, such as when Norway's former Prime Minister condemned Barak Obama for appointing a Jew as his Chief of Staff. No other European leader would make such a statement and get away with it. In Norway, this bigoted statement was praised, as were similar statements made by a leading academic.

The very camp that was attacked by the lone terrorist was engaged in an orgy of anti-Israel hatred the day before the shooting. Yet I would not ever claim that it was Norway's anti-Semitism that "caused" the horrible act of terrorism against young Norwegians.

The causes of terrorism are multifaceted but at bottom they have a common cause: namely a belief that violence is the proper response to policies that the terrorists disagree with. The other common cause is that terrorism has often been rewarded. Norway, for example, has repeatedly rewarded Palestinian terrorism against Israel, while punishing Israel for its efforts to protect its civilians. While purporting to condemn all terrorist acts, the Norwegian government has sought to justify Palestinian terrorism as having a legitimate cause. This clearly is an invitation to continued terrorism.

It is important for the world never to reward terrorism by supporting the policies of those who employ it as an alternative to reason discourse, diplomatic resolution or political compromise.

I know of no reasonable person who has tried to justify the terrorist attacks against Norway. Yet there are many Norwegians who not only justify terrorist attacks against Israel, but praise them, support them, help finance them, and legitimate them.

The world must unite in condemning and punishing all terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, regardless of the motive or purported cause of the terrorism. Norway, as a nation, has failed to do this. It wants us all to condemn the terrorist attack on its civilians, and we should all do that, but it refuses to live by a single standard.

Nothing good ever comes from terrorism, so don't expect the Norwegians to learn any lessons from its own victimization. As the Ambassador made clear in his benighted interview, "those of us who believe [the occupation to be the cause of the terror against Israel] will not change their minds because of the attack in Oslo." In other words, they will persist in their bigoted view that Israel is the cause of the terrorism directed at it, and that if only Israel were to end the occupation (as it offered to do in 2000-2001 and again in 2007), the terrorism will end.

Even Hamas, which Norway supports in many ways, has made clear that it will not end its terrorism as long as Israel continues to exist. Hamas believes that Israel's very existence is the cause of the terrorism against it. That sounds a lot like the ranting of the man who engaged in the act of terrorism against Norway.

The time is long overdue for Norwegians to do some deep soul searching about their sordid history of complicity with all forms of bigotry ranging from the anti-Semitic Nazis to the anti-Semitic Hamas. There seems to be a common thread.

The "Jewish Tribe" in Uganda

From, 31 July 2011, by Menucha Chana Levin:

... Uganda is the unlikely location of a devoted community of several hundred people who are not yet converted to Judaism, but who have clung to its tenets for nearly 100 years. 

Unlike other groups who claim to be descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes, these Ugandans simply and wholeheartedly chose Judaism. Though isolated and persecuted, the Abayudaya – the Luganda word for "people of Judah” – practice full Jewish observance and yearn to be part of the Jewish nation.

...The Abayudaya was founded in 1917 by Semei Kakungulu, a warrior and distinguished ruler of one of the eastern provinces of Uganda. After studying and meditating on the Bible, he developed a lifestyle mixture of Judaism and Christianity. He later discarded the Christian elements after studying the verses in Isaiah 56:1-8 promising special blessing for converts who faithfully observe the mitzvot.

In 1919, Kakungulu started a sect known as Kibina Kya Bayudaya Absesiga Katonda ("the Community of Jews who Trust in God"). With great dedication to his new faith, Kakungulu and his followers underwent circumcision – something very foreign to that culture. He also composed a 90-page book of laws based on the Torah – including observance of Shabbat and the laws of family purity – that were to govern the community. Soon after, in 1920, a European Jew named Yosef arrived and during his six-month stay taught them about the Jewish holidays and kashrut.

Inspired by Yosef's teachings, Semei Kakungulu realized the need to establish a yeshiva school for strengthening and transmitting Jewish tradition. Unfortunately, as those dreams were starting to become reality, Kakungulu became ill and died in 1928. Though many of his plans died with him, he had already laid a foundation for the community by training future leaders.

One of Kakungulu’s dedicated followers, Reb Samson, took over and instituted a law which guaranteed the survival of this brave little community for several generations. Starting with his own daughters, Reb Samson insisted that members of Abayudaya marry only within “the tribe.” Without this ban on intermarriage, the Abayudaya community would surely not exist today. Further, Reb Samson trained teachers to lead other synagogues in Uganda, another key to maintaining continuity.

In the 1960s, Reb Samson contacted the Israeli embassy in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. He hoped that some of the Abayudaya would be granted permission to go to Israel, to study Torah, convert, and train to become rabbis. However, before those plans could reach fruition, the dictator Idi Amin captured Uganda in a coup d'etat. This brutal regime, lasting from 1971 to 1979, introduced extremely harsh policies. Amin declared a ban on Abayudaya religious practices: all synagogues were closed and Jewish books were forbidden. His intent was to make life so difficult that the would-be Jews would instead embrace Islam or Christianity.

The unfortunate result was that 95% of the Abayudaya did submit to Christianity or Islam, ending all of Reb Samson's hopeful programs and nearly obliterating the community. Those who remained loyal concealed themselves in bushes, caves or their banana plantations, engaging in “illegal prayers” late at night.
From a peak membership of 3,000, only 150 Abayudaya clung to their beliefs. At that point, the group adopted the name, Kahal Kadosh She'erit Yisrael – “the Holy Community of Jewish Remnants.”

Youth Village
Finally, after eight terror-filled years in which 300,000 Ugandans were brutally murdered, Idi Amin was overthrown and Lt. Gen. Museveni came to power. The new president immediately declared freedom of worship in Uganda, which inspired the Abayudaya youth to revitalize their community.

A farming youth settlement, modeled after a kibbutz, was started at Nabugoye Hill. Parents sent their children there. During the day, the children attended schools six kilometers away for secular studies. At night, they studied Judaism and Hebrew by the light of the moon. The youth village thrived; they built the Moses Synagogue and established a self-sustaining farm...

Torah Tradition
Today, the main Abayudaya community of 150 members resides in the village of Putti in the Pallisa district. A few hundred more are scattered in four other locations. They are subsistence farmers and also engage in brick-making and producing basic Judaica such as kippahs and challah covers. Their houses are small, grass-thatched huts. Yet in one respect these huts are different from other African homes: mezuzot are attached to the doorposts, donated by a man named Simon den Hollander who once visited.

The Abayudaya pray three times a day, with the men wearing tallit and tefillin every morning. The children are taught to say "Modeh Ani” and "Shema Yisrael." Married women go to the mikveh. They light Shabbat candles, make Kiddush and avoid any forbidden activities such as traveling and lighting a fire.

The Abayudaya observe kashrut and did not eat meat until two visiting shochtim from Israel taught them to perform ritual slaughter. Congregants remove their shoes before entering the synagogue, a custom practiced by Jews in biblical times. Lifecycle events, too, conform to Jewish tradition: male children undergo brit milah, and a “chevra kadisha” is responsible for burial ceremonies.

The Abayudaya have gained acclaim for their original music, which combines distinct African rhythms with Hebrew Psalms and prayers. Their religious-themed album, entitled "Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish people of Uganda," was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005.
Their religious-themed album, entitled "Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish people of Uganda," was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2005.
This faithful little community, like many in Africa, lives in terrible poverty unimaginable in the Western world. They know that education is the key to the future, and have put out an appeal for Hebrew instructional textbooks and CDs, as well as English textbooks in all subjects.
Though not yet Jewish, the Abayudaya’s greatest dream is for a complete halachic conversion, to become true “members of the tribe.” A few Abayudaya visited South Africa, prompting one rabbi to write:

"I was impressed with their story and more so with their sincerity. They are clearly not of Jewish descent nor claim to be. I arranged with them to meet with the Beth Din, but it was just a preliminary meeting and no formal process of conversion has been instituted. I do hope they find a sympathetic halachic ear as I have not met people with such devotion to Judaism."
Their spiritual leader, Enosh Keki Mainah, told me of his fervent prayer: “"We yearn to go to Eretz Yisrael - the home of the Jewish people. God will redeem us soon and gather in our dispersed ones from the four corners of the earth."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Breivik and "totalitarian democrats"

There are those that seek to silence conservative thinkers by making a criminal connection between [their] writings and the acts of a terrorist.

Last Friday morning, Anders Breivik burst onto the international screen when he carried out a monstrous act of terrorism against his fellow Norwegians. Breivik bombed the offices housing the Norwegian government with the intention of murdering its leaders. He then traveled to the Utoeya Island and murdered scores of young people participating in a summer program sponsored by Norway’s ruling party.

... Norwegian and Western media have focused...on ...a 1,500-page manifesto that Breivik posted on the Internet. ...certain parts of Breivik’s manifesto read like a source guide to leading conservative writers and bloggers in the Western world. ...[some blame] the ideas propounded by conservative thinkers and the thinkers themselves for Breivik’s heinous acts of murder.

For instance, a front-page news story in the Times on Monday claimed, “The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam.” The reporter, Scott Shane.. quoted left-leaning terrorism expert Marc Sageman who alleged that that the writings of anti-jihad authors “are the infrastructure from which Breivik emerged.”

That is, Shane quoted Sageman accusing these writers of responsibility for Breivik’s acts of murder. is worth considering what separates liberal democracies from what the great Israeli historian Jacob Talmon referred to as totalitarian democracies.

... liberal democracies reject the resort to violence as a means of winning an argument. This is why, for liberal democracies, terrorism in all forms is absolutely unacceptable.

...As Talmon explained in his 1952 classic, The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy, the totalitarian democratic model was envisioned by Jean- Jacques Rousseau, the philosophical godfather of the French Revolution. Rousseau believed that a group of anointed leaders could push a society towards perfection by essentially coercing the people to accept their view of right and wrong.

Talmon drew a direct line between Rousseau and the totalitarian movements of the 20th century – Nazism, fascism and communism.

Today, those who seek to silence conservative thinkers by making a criminal connection between [their] writings and the acts of a terrorist are doing so in pursuit of patently illiberal ends, to say the least. If they can convince the public that [
conservative] ideas cause the mass murder of children, then [their] voices will be silenced.

Another aspect of the same anti-liberal behavior is the tendency by many to pick and choose which sorts of terrorism are acceptable and which are unacceptable...

... Ma’ariv asked [Norwegian Ambassador to Israel Svein] Sevje whether in the wake of Breivik’s terrorist attack Norwegians would be more sympathetic to the victimization of innocent Israelis by Palestinian terrorists.

Sevje said no, and explained, “We Norwegians view the occupation as the reason for terror against Israel. Many Norwegians still see the occupation as the reason for attacks against Israel. Whoever thinks this way, will not change his mind as a result of the attack in Oslo.”

So in the mind of the illiberal Norwegians... it is unacceptable for Breivik to murder Norwegian children, because his ideology is wrong. But it is acceptable for Palestinians to murder Israeli children, because their ideology is right.

...attempts to link conservative writers, politicians and philosophers with [terrorism] are nothing new. The same thing happened in 1995, when [some]
tried to blame rabbis and politicians for the sociopathic Yigal Amir’s assassination of then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The same thing happened in the US last summer with ... insistent attempts to link the psychotic Jared Loughner, who shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her constituents, with Gov. Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

...this tendency ...endangers the future of liberal democracies...

Fatah Youth condemns Norway attacks

From Ma'an News Agency (Bethlehem and Gaza), Saturday 23/07/2011:
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Fatah Youth released a statement on Saturday condemning attacks in Norway which have reportedly killed over 90 people.

"It is with consternation that we have received the dramatic news of an awful terrorist attack against a summer camp ran by our comrades of Norwegian Labor Youth 'AUF,'" the statement said.

The Fatah Youth group had taken part in the summer camp in the past on the Island of Utoya, near Oslo, where over 90 people were reportedly killed in a shooting spree on the Island and a bomb attack in Oslo on Friday, news reports said. 

[Note that the (archive) photo shows the Fatah Youth Secretary General meeting a smiling Norwegian Prime Minister at a (previous?) youth camp at Utoya Island with a T-shirt bearing the slogan "Tear Down the Wall" - SL]

"Fatah Youth declares its consternation about the terror attack. There are no words to describe an attack against people that have been our comrades in our struggle ... Very few people have stood by our side as much as the Norwegian people, and particularly our AUF comrades."

"We know those who have been cowardly assassinated. Those are people that have stood for the human and national rights of the Palestinian people both in Europe and while visiting Palestine.

"Fatah Youth has participated for almost 15 years in the same summer camp ...
We hope that those responsible for this criminal terror attack will be brought to justice. Such sick minds should not have a place in any society..."

[I wonder whether these Fatah "human rights activists" had anything to say about the recent brutal Fogel family murders or the ongoing glorification of terrorism by Fatah? - SL]