Monday, December 31, 2012

“1967 Borders” Never Existed

From JCPA, Vol. 10, No. 17, 21 Dec 2012, by Alan Baker:
  • The Palestinian leadership is fixated on ... a unilaterally declared Palestinian state within the “1967 borders.” ...
  • But such borders do not exist and have no basis in history, law, or fact. The only line that ever existed was the 1949 armistice demarcation line, based on the ceasefire lines of the Israeli and Arab armies pending agreement on permanent peace. The 1949 armistice agreements specifically stated that such lines have no political or legal significance and do not prejudice future negotiations on boundaries.
  • UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 1967 acknowledged the need for negotiation of secure and recognized boundaries. Prominent jurists and UN delegates...acknowledged that the previous lines cannot be considered as international boundaries.
  • The series of agreements between the PLO and Israel (1993-1999) reaffirm the intention and commitment of the parties to negotiate permanent borders. During all phases of negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians, there was never any determination as to a border based on the 1967 lines.
  • The PLO leadership solemnly undertook that all issues of permanent status would be resolved only through negotiations between the parties. The 2003 “Road Map” further reiterated the need for negotiations on final borders.
...There are no provisions in any of the agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians that require withdrawal to the “1967 borders.” There were never any geographic imperatives that sanctify the 1967 lines. Clearly, there could be no legal or political logic to enshrining as an international boundary an inadvertent and coincidental set of ceasefire lines that existed for less than 19 years
While the above is fully evident to the Palestinian leaders who are actively and daily advancing this policy – principally the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and the head of the Negotiations Department of the Authority, Sa’eb Erekat, both of whom were themselves actively involved in all the stages of negotiation – they nevertheless continue with their fixation to present the concept of the “1967 borders” as an accepted international term-of-art and as an Israeli commitment...
Follow this link to read the entire article, including a summary of the background to the 1967 lines as described in the international documentation.

The Vatican Violates its 1993 Agreement with Israel

From J-Wire, December 28, 2012 by David Singer*:

Diplomatic relations between Israel and the Vatican are set to considerably cool following the Pope granting a private audience to Mahmoud Abbas on 17 December...
Pope Benedict welcomes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican on Dec. 17, 2012.
(Photo: AP, Claudio Peri)

Their meeting came at a time of growing political crisis engendered by the passage of the UN General Assembly resolution on 29 November that reaffirmed
“the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to independence in their State of Palestine on the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967″
The Pope seemingly overlooked any discussion of the implications of this integral part of the resolution that also recognised the State of Palestine as a non-member observer state in the General Assembly – a view confirmed by the following communique issued by the Vatican
“The cordial discussions made reference to the recent Resolution approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations by which Palestine was recognised as a Non-member Observer State of the aforementioned Organisation. It is hoped that this initiative will encourage the commitment of the international community to finding a fair and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which may be reached only by resuming the negotiations between the Parties, in good faith and according due respect to the rights of both.”
The Pope was apparently unaware that the only matter left to be negotiated between the parties as a result of “this initiative ” was the timing of the eviction of 600,000 Jews currently living in this ” State of Palestine” as defined by the General Assembly.
Abbas had made this racist view very clear on 28 July 2010 when Wafa – the official Palestinian news agency – reported the following remark by Abbas in Cairo:
“I’m willing to agree to a third party that would supervise the agreement, such as Nato forces, but I would not agree to having Jews among the Nato forces, or that there will live among us even a single Israeli on Palestinian land.”
Could the Pope have failed to understand that the Resolution also left no room for negotiating the boundaries of this ”State of Palestine” – that the General Assembly had preemptively determined that it should comprise 100% of the territory won from Jordan by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War?
Would cordial discussions have occurred had the Pope taken the opportunity to urge Abbas to recognise Israel as the Jewish National Home and offer Palestinian citizenship to those Jews who did not want to leave their current homes?
Resumption of negotiations by “the Parties in good faith and according due respect to the rights of both” in such circumstances is a pure pipe dream.
The Abbas audience was a papal faux pas for several reasons.
Firstly - the Pope should not have blessed the audience with overt political significance by accepting from Abbas the gift of a mosaic of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem bearing the inscription that it was presented to him by “the President of the State of Palestine” – a farcical nomenclature that had only been sanctioned that very day by the Chief of Protocol at the UN – Yeocheol Yoon.
Secondly – the Pope was clearly violating clause 11(2) of the 1993 Fundamental Agreement Between The Holy See And The State Of Israel which provides:
“The Holy See, while maintaining in every case the right to exercise its moral and spiritual teaching-office, deems it opportune to recall that owing to its own character, it is solemnly committed to remaining a stranger to all merely temporal conflicts, which principle applies specifically to disputed territories and unsettled borders.”
Remaining a stranger to this temporal conflict would have allowed the Pope to escape any criticism as a result of this inappropriate audience.
Thirdly – Article 2.2 of the Fundamental Agreement further avers:
“The Holy See takes this occasion to reiterate its condemnation of hatred, persecution and all other manifestations of antisemitism directed against the Jewish people and individual Jews anywhere, at any time and by anyone”
Failing to condemn the “President of the State of Palestine” during the audience for his known manifestations of anti-semitism makes a mockery of the Fundamental Agreement.
Fourthly – The Pope’s political foray no doubt inspired his own appointed nominee as the top Roman Catholic cleric in the Holy Land – the Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal – to also make a political statement in his annual pre-Christmas homily.

Archbishop Twal told his followers at his headquarters in Jerusalem’s Old City that this year’s festivities were doubly joyful, celebrating:
“the birth of Christ our Lord and the birth of the state of Palestine. The path (to statehood) remains long, and will require a united effort,”
Archbishop Twal – who was born in Jordan – had told Vatican Radio on 21 June 2008:
“The majority of our priests, nuns, schools families are in Jordan. We need a link to Jordan…,”
That link will certainly not come from the State of Palestine designated by the UN General Assembly – since its realisation is simply not going to eventuate.
Archbishop Twal also told in an interview on 22 June 2008:
“If you want to touch Jews, Muslims, Christians, Jordanians, Palestinians, Cypriots, Europeans all together ..then you have to consider every comma”
The Archbishop would have done well to have remembered this sage advice before uttering his Christmas Eve message – understanding that what he said would not touch at least 600000 Jews – but cause them immeasurable hurt.
Indeed those who are playing charades with the newly crowned President of the State of Palestine are engaging in a world of make believe – where the words and commas in the Mandate for Palestine, the Montevideo Convention, Article 80 of the United Nations Charter, Security Council Resolution 242, the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap – are apparently no longer worth the paper they are written on.
One can now add the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel to these discarded international agreements.
This does not bode well for any possible peaceful resolution of the long running conflict between Jews and Arabs.
The last Pope to bear Pope Benedict’s name – Benedict XV – enthusiastically endorsed the Jews’ right to reconstitute their national home in what was then Palestine when he told Zionist leader Nahum Sokolov at an audience in 1917 :
“Nineteen hundred years ago Rome destroyed your homeland and when you seek to rebuild it, you seek a path which leads via Rome…Yes this is the will of Divine Providence, this is what the Almighty desires.”
Violating Vatican vows this time round is certainly not going to entice Israel to beat a path to Rome as it continues to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in its ancient, biblical and internationally sanctioned homeland
*David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network

Sunday, December 30, 2012

In response to legitimate questions, the NIF started a campaign of slander and lies

From an article, 27 Dec 2012, about the the New Israel Fund and its financed organizations' delegitimization of Israel and the IDF, by Ronen Shoval, Chairman and Founder of Im Tirtzu, translated by Eytan Meyersdorf, Im Tirtzu at Bar Ilan:

Every time someone dares to criticize the New Israel Fund (NIF), he presented as an extreme right-wing radical, liar, enemy of human rights, democracy, and free speech. This is exactly the way that the NIF responded to an open letter that Jewish American newspapers published. The letter presented clear facts:
The NIF finances organizations that accuse Israel of war crimes in the operation “Pillar of Defense.”
The letter asked the simple question:
Does the NIF agree with these false accusations? If not, what does the NIF intend to do to ensure that these organizations stop their campaign of delegitimizing IDF soldiers?
In response to these legitimate questions, the NIF started a campaign of slander and lies.

Just like the NIF's previous refusal to take responsibility when its financed organizations provided false testimonies to the Goldstone Report (92 percent of the Israeli sources accusing Israel of war crimes in the report came from organizations financed by the NIF), so too now the NIF is refusing to take responsibility when organizations that rely on their financial aid accuse IDF soldiers and Israel of war crimes.
Within this framework, it is worth mentioning some of the NIF's dealings. It gives millions of dollars to Adalah, an anti-Zionist Arab movement that aims to turn the State Israel into a country of “all its nationalities,” meaning, it aims for the elimination of the State of Israel. Until recently, the NIF supported organizations that promoted the boycott of Israel, and today, it finances organizations that file lawsuits against IDF soldiers and Israeli officials in Israel and throughout the world. It highlights itself as an organization that finances “human rights,” but instead of dealing with human rights, it deals with the accusation of Israel and its soldiers as war criminals.
After the operation “Pillar of Defense,” we hoped to see the NIF learn lessons from the past. We were wrong. The organizations that are supported by the NIF are again involved in the delegitimization of Israel.

Adalah contacted the attorney general of Israel to open a criminal investigation on the suspicion of war crimes, and claimed that operation “Pillar of Defense” was a “serious violation of laws of war amounting to war crimes.”
The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel was not satisfied with contacting the attorney general, rather went further and turned to the United Nations and demanded to convene the Human Rights Council. It even accused Israel of “producing a culture of systematic violation of human rights.” B'tselem, Gisha, television networks, and other organizations that receive thousands of dollars from the NIF, joined the “party” as well...

...Instead of slandering and silencing...NIF should take responsibility for its actions and take a historical step back to the Zionist camp long as it continues to act against Israel and the IDF – there will be someone to criticize it.

*Orginial Hebrew article.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Roger Waters: front man for a rock band and hero to genocidal terrorists

Iran is in social and economic meltdown

From Commentator, 26 December 2012 by Wahied Wahdat-Hagh*


With unemployment soaring and the advent of hyperinflation, the plight of ordinary workers just gets worse and worse

Begging in Tehran
Workers' strikes and protests are gathering pace in Iran. In 2012, there were more labor protests than for longer than many can remember. Vast numbers live below the poverty line. Non-payment of wages for months at a time is a fact of life for millions. Inflation is soaring. Beggars in veils line the streets.
And this is not merely a product of sanctions, though they are certainly biting. Gross mismanagement by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government is doing terrible damage to the social fabric all on its own.
Many blame the ham-fisted manner in which Ahmedinejad has sought to privatize significant swathes of the economy.
As BBC Farsi reported in April 2012, privatization led to mass layoffs across the country. Iranian newspapers reported cases in which workers had not been paid for as much as two years.
Corruption and incompetence in the banking sector also play a big role in the disastrous Iranian economy. In one widely reported case, a pipe-making company went bankrupt following privatization only for an entrepreneur promising to resuscitate it to secure a hefty loan from an Iranian bank and then promptly leave the country, taking the cash with him. That is not an isolated example.
Unsurprisingly, people are not taking this lying down.
According to Radio Farda, the Persian broadcasting service of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 20,000 Iranian workers wrote an open letter to the Iranian Minister of Labor in September 2012 complaining about non-payment of wages and the fact that the most Iranian workers live below the poverty line.
Typical monthly wages range between $240 and $320 as against an official poverty line of $800 a month. But it's even worse than it looks. Steve Hanke, Professor of Applied Economics at the Johns Hopkins University, reckons that following the collapse of the Iranian currency earlier this year, monthly inflation rates may be running at 70 percent.
With average wages already so far below the poverty line, hyperinflation is making it increasingly difficult for large numbers of Iranians to put food on the table.
In such conditions, unemployment is predictably soaring. Nobody believes the official reports that the jobless rate (as reported for the first three months of the year) stands at around 13 percent. Most analysts believe it is at least double that level and rising fast.
Working conditions for many who do have jobs are appalling, According to human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, five workers die daily as a consequences of accidents at the work place. In the past decade 9,625 workers have died at their place of work. A report from Radio Farda on December 18, stated that in 2012 alone around 1,100 miners died in Iran, and that figure is the official one. Again, analysts fear the true number may be greater.
As a response to the growing wave of strikes, companies are firing contracted employees and replacing them with casual labor. Speaking recently to the Iranian newspaper Rahe Daneshju, the Iranian trade unionist Fathollah Bayat said that in 2012, approximately one million contract workers were simply dismissed. He added that day-labor hiring practices were becoming ever more common.
On the other hand, the regime has created a kind of "Islamist labor aristocracy" which remains on fixed contracts in order to secure their loyalty. The Iranian dictatorship and its entrepreneurs fear organized strikes (which remain legal, though frowned upon) and must be painfully aware of the parlous state of the economy.
In February 2006, Ahmadinejad pledged to make Iranians richer. He promised Iranian families so called "justice shares" -- financial gifts funded through the sale of state shares. In theory, many millions would have been entitled to up to $800. In reality, few received their dues, and many who did were likely to have been among the most loyal supporters of the regime.
But social justice cannot be achieved through ideological promises. Ahmadinejad didn’t end poverty during his presidential term, though some of his followers did become richer.
Meanwhile, a social catastrophe in Iran continues to unfold.
*Wahied Wahdat-Hagh is a Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) in Brussels

The Fall of Asad - The Winners and the Losers

From The "Middle East and Terrorism" Blog, Friday, December 28, 2012, by Mordechai Kedar:

According to all indications...the end of the dynasty of the house of Asad appears closer than ever. The bloody regime that began in November 1970 ends its life drowning in the endless blood-letting of Syrian citizens. ...who are the winners and who are the losers[?]...
The Citizens of Syria
These are the greatest losers. Until now, taking into account casualties from both sides, about fifty thousand people have been killed in the civil war. The number of wounded is several times larger – and the number of refugees, those outside of Syria and those who have remained within – is more than two million. The number of housing units (houses and apartments) that have become piles of rubble is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. The damage to the infrastructures of electricity, water, sewage, education, health and roads amounts to many billions of dollars, and repairing the damage – even if work continues day and night – will take years. The country is in a state of clinical death resulting from systemic collapse, and for a long time there has been no tax collection in Syria, no organized economic system or effective government. The military is crushed by the desertions of officers and soldiers and the destruction of military bases by the rebels.
The ‘Alawite sect is a big loser because it might lose its controlling status in Syria, and for months the Sunni jihad fighters - Syrians as well as infiltrators from outside – have been carrying out serial massacres against this heretical sect , which has ruled Syria since 1966. Each massacre brings another massacre in revenge, which itself brings about a massacre, and so it continues for the past year and a half. Many ‘Alawites have been slaughtered as of today, and many more will be slaughtered in the near future, after the jihadists bring the country to its end. The last thing that the Islamic jihadists care about is human rights, and when they get the opportunity, they will execute their plot against the‘Alawites to the bitter end.
The other small sects as well – the Christians and the Druze– are among the losers, because the ‘Alawite regime protected them. Now they too will be easy prey for the jihadists knives, and therefore many of them are fleeing beyond the borders of Syria.
However, the citizens of Syria are also great winners from the collapse of the regime, since they have succeeded – at a very high price –to overthrow the regime, which was dictatorial in style and feudal in structure, and only interested in promoting the rights of the Asad and Makhlouf families. The citizens of Syria purchased their freedom at a high price, because freedom is not a natural thing, especially in the Middle East. The question hanging in the air is “who will rule Syria after the war”, because if it is the jihadis, the Syrian citizen might find himself in an Islamic-religious dictatorship after having managed to rid themselves of a nationalist-secular dictator. The civil society in Syria, which is mostly composed of educated people with some economic means, will apparently have no influence on the future of Syria, because even if there are many differences of opinion and trends among the people, the main thing is that they are not violent, and therefore they are treated as if they don’t exist.
Syria will dissolve into a number of political entities: the Kurds in the Northeast, in the Hasaka area, and the Druze in the south, in Jibal a-Druze. An ‘Alawite state may arise in the northwest of the country, to protect the surviving members of the sect. The Bedouins in the east may demand autonomy as well, and the people of Aleppo will be able to establish an entity for themselves separate from the people of Damascus, those who controlled their lives in the past and whom they despise. These homogeneous states have a good chance to establish alternative governmental systems and to achieve –not without difficulties – a state of peace and prosperity, relatively speaking.
This country stands to lose the most from the fall of the Syrian regime, which was Iran’s Trojan horse into the Arab world. Syria was the supporting pillar of the Iranian coalition that extended to Hizb’Allah in Lebanon and streamed weapons, ammunition, missiles, money, fighters and advisers to the Shi’ite terror organization. Despite its economic difficulties stemming from international sanctions, Iran has sunk an estimated twenty billion dollarsin Syria during the past two years in weapons, ammunition and payment of Syrian soldiers’ salaries in an effort to keep them from deserting. Now, with the collapse of the Syrian regime, all of the investment has gone down the drain, and the Iranians understand that the gamble on Asad and his regime was a bitter mistake.
The disagreements among the regime of the Ayatollahs about whether to support Asad have been going on for quite a while, and the collapse of the Syrian regime might cause these disagreements to boil over and shift from nonbelligerent discussion to violence. This situation could cause the controlling elite in Iran to implode, and the world will be unexpectedly freed of the Iranian threat.
The emergence of a Kurdish state from the ruins of Syria might heighten the desire of the Kurds of Iran to intensify their opposition to the Iranian regime and free themselves from the control of Teheran by the use of force. Such a development might also encourage the Baluchis in the south of Iran to escalate their struggle against the Iranian regime, and thus bring about the collapse of Iran as a multi-national state under Persian hegemony.
Another matter of great concern to the Iranians is that in the wake of the collapse of the Syrian regime, documents may be discovered that reveal and prove the Iranian-North Korean participation in the secret Syrian nuclear project, which, according to foreign sources, was firmly and decisively dealt with by Israel on the 6thof September, 2007. Moreover, there is also a possibility that proof will be found of Iranian involvement in terror attacks that have been carried out since the Ayatollahs took over Iran in the beginning of 1979, because Syria may have been involved in these actions in some way.
The Arab Peoples
The collapse of the Asad regime will encourage the Arab peoples in general, and those of the Arabian Peninsula in particular, to stand up to Iran, and this will cause Iran to be even more isolated. Other Arab peoples – of Jordan, Algeria, Morocco, Iraq – might be encouraged by the success of the Syrians, and surge into the streets to achieve their own freedom from domineering rulers . The Palestinians might take an example from the Syrians and begin a third intifada with the hope of duplicating the Syrian success in Judea and Samaria.
One of the biggest losers is the concept of Arab nationalism. This idea – that there is such a thing as an Arab nationality with a unified character and distinct characteristics – served as a fig leaf to hide the sins of the dictators, and as a source of the hollow, empty nationalistic slogans, that the dictators – mainly Asad, the father and the son – used to justify their corruption and cruelty towards the citizens. They presented Syria as the stronghold of Arab nationalism in order to justify their negative deeds towards the citizens: denial of human rights, cancelling political freedoms, shutting mouths and murdering their critics. Anyone who speaks positively about Arab nationalism these days is seen as someone who fell asleep thirty years ago and hasn’t seen or heard that the idea of Arab nationalism was hijacked by dictators and has now become bankrupt.
Arab countries that supported the Syrian rebels – Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan – have won the battle against the Syrian and Iranian regimes. And emir of Qatar, the most powerful man in the Arab world, will now become even stronger. The Al-Jazeera channel, which he runs, the channel that has kindled the flames in these inflamed arenas – Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria – has succeeded in eliminating their rulers and removing their very powerful presidents. Undoubtedly, the Al-Jazeera channel is one of the greatest winners in the war against the Asad regime.
During the last two years, mainly since the American withdrawal one year ago, the Shi’ites, who control Iraq have entered their country into the coalition between Iran, the Syrian regime and Hizb’Allah, and have supplied Asad with weapons, ammunition and cash for the payment of salaries for its military personnel. If and when the Sunni jihadis take control of Syria – or its components – they may take revenge on Shi’ite Iraq by sending weapons, ammunition, explosives, moneys and perhaps even fighters in order to shore up the Sunni minority in Iraq and to further upset the already shaky stability. As a result of this, the land of the two rivers might sink once again into a swamp of blood, fire and tears, which characterized it from 2003 until the end of the previous decade, and the horrors of that era may still occasionally shock the Iraqi streets with powerfulexplosions and dozens of innocent dead and wounded civilians.
There are hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan today. This situation is a great burden on the Jordanian economy because of the needs of the refugees, especially during the present winter season. There are some in the Jordanian government who fear that there may be negative and dangerous elements among the refugees, such as agents of the Syrian regime who might take revenge on Jordan for its support of the Syrian rebels. There might be also Islamist terrorists among the refugees, who may act against the government in Jordan if a wave of protest against the king breaks out, as an extension of the “Arab Spring”.
One of the big losers from the collapse of the Asad regime is the Hizb’Allah organization, because it is reasonable to assume that the land bridge to Iran will be closed off, and Hizb’Allah will need to find more difficult paths for the transfer of weapons and ammunition from Iran to Lebanon. Even the political support that the Asad regime granted to Hizb’Allah will disappear, and this might have an influence on the Lebanese forces who oppose Hizb’Allah and demand them to disarm. Such a demand might heat up the internal Lebanese front and sink this war-torn country once again into a blood bath.
Because of Hizb’Allah’s involvement in the suppression of demonstrations and rebellion in Syria, the jihadis might try to harm Hasan Nasrallah personally, to take public revenge upon him.
On the other hand, it is possible that in order to prevent a civil war, from which there can be only losers, Hizb’Allah will agree to surrender some of the tokens of control in Lebanon and agree to a different division of powers in the country. However, the conflicts that often break out in Tripoli are an indication of the increasing internal tension in the Lebanese internal arena, and give the impression that agreements are not the name of the game, but rather shootings and attacks.
This country finds itself in a complex situation: on one hand, it strongly supported the overthrow of the infidel and anti-Islamic regime, and Erdoğan, who is motivated by radical Islamic political ideas, has succeeded in the complex battle against Asad the heretic, murderer of Muslims. However, as a result of the collapse of the Syrian regime, a Kurdish state might emerge in northeast Syria, right under the noses of the Turks, and this state might intensify the motivation of the Turkish Kurds to escalate their opposition to the Turkish regime in order to finally achieve independence.
The Turkish regime is concerned by the more than a hundred thousand Syrian refugees presently on Turkish soil, because they are a burden on the budget, and Turkish willingness to host them and fill their needs is not unlimited.
According to Syrian government spokesmen, the civil war is a Zionist-American plot that is intended to vanquish Syria after Syria has triumphed over Israel in every battle and war that has occurred since 1973. The collapse of the Syrian regime will remove one of Israel’s sworn enemies, which, despite the quiet that has reigned on the border since June 1974, has helped and supported every terrorist organization acting against Israel for the past forty years: The PLO, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front, the General Command, as-Sa’iqa, al-‘Asifa, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizb’Allah. All were trained, equipped and armed bythe Syrian regime, and its demise means the elimination of one of Israel’s cruelest and most difficult enemies.
But the alternative is not yet clear, because if the ruthless jihadis take over in Syria they might turn Syria into a terror country that will take action against Israel and perhaps even against other countries, just as Afghanistan of the Taliban and al-Qaeda until 2001. If the chemical weapons that are now in Syria fall into the hands of these organizations, they may be quite dangerous, and if Hizb’Allah takes over the chemical weapons, this might represent an effective deterrence against Israel.
Therefore, one may say that Israel will take Asad’s collapse with mixed feelings: satisfaction over the removal of a sworn enemy and fear of a more dangerous enemy.
Even now, thousands of Syrian refugees are knocking on Europe’s doors, which are closed to them, so that they can open a new chapter in their miserable lives. In Europe they know well that an Arab refugee who comes to Europe will never leave, and therefore – with every sympathy for the refugees and their problems – Europe fears the flow of Arabs into its territory and is slowing down their immigration as much as possible. The European hypocrisy towards the Syrian citizens is glaring because of NATO’s reluctance to become involved in Syria, contrary to the massive support that Europe gave to the rebels in Libya. The explanation of the difference is hidden in the matter of oil: Europe wanted to assure the continuation of the flow of Libyan oil to Europe and therefore supported the Libyan rebels, while in Syria there is no oil and therefore – from Europe’s cynical point of view – the blood of the Syrians could be freely spilled in the streets of Homs, Damascus and Aleppo.
If and when the jihadis do turn Syria into a terror state, Europe – which felt no need to protect the Syrians from their own government’s weapons– might eventually have to pay damages, or to suffer an all-out war with these organizations.
Another matter that worries Europe today is what will become of the European investments in the Syrian economy, such as factories in the West that have transferred some of their production lines to Syria. According to the precedent set in Iraq, the new regime has the right to renounce debts incurred by a previous regime, and if the new regime in Syria acts according to the Iraqi precedent then Europe might lose a lot of money.
The collapse of the evil regime in Syria opens an opportunity for many organizations with new ideologies to advance to center stage and take over. The fluidity of the situation creates a governmental and organizational vacuum, which might cause Asad to be remembered as very young, with a nice head of hair and pleasant looking, compared to the jihadis who may succeed his rule. If the jihadi script plays out, the whole world will lose.

UN Israel bashing AGAINST the interests of Arabs on the ground

From Commentary, 21 Dec 2012, by :
The UN General Assembly, as Elliott Abrams noted yesterday, just passed nine resolutions in a single day condemning Israel, mainly for its treatment of the Palestinians, while completely ignoring the real disaster that befell the Palestinians this week: the Assad regime’s bombing of the Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus, which reportedly killed dozens of Palestinians and caused about 100,000 to flee.
But the situation becomes even more surreal when one examines the actual content of the resolutions–because it turns out that while the UN is voting to condemn Israel, its alleged victims are voting the opposite with their feet.
One resolution...slams Israel’s 1981 annexation of the “occupied Syrian Golan” and demands that Israel “rescind forthwith its decision.”
Given what’s happening across the border in Syria, where the ongoing civil war has killed over 44,000 people and created over 500,000 refugees, I suspect most of the 20,000 Syrian Druze on the Golan are thanking their lucky stars to be living safely under Israel’s “occupation.” But you needn’t take my word for it: According to the Hebrew daily Maariv, whose report was subsequently picked up the Winnipeg Jewish Review, Israeli government statistics show that the number of Golan Druze applying for Israeli citizenship (for which the annexation made them eligible) has risen by hundreds of percent since the Syrian civil war erupted...
“More and more people comprehend that this [Israel] is a well-managed country and it’s possible to live and raise children here,” one Druze who acquired Israeli citizenship explained. “In Syria there is mass murder, and if [the Druze are] under Syrian control they would likely be turned into the victims of these atrocities. People see murdered children and refugees fleeing to Jordan and Turkey, lacking everything, and ask themselves: Where do I want to raise my children. The answer is clear–in Israel and not Syria.”
But what the Golan’s own residents want, of course, is of no interest to the UN: It would rather Israel return the area, and its Druze, to the Syrian hellhole “forthwith.”

Then there was the resolution condemning Israel for violating “the human rights of the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”
But in East Jerusalem, too, the number of Palestinians requesting Israeli citizenship has risen sharply in recent years ...
The number of East Jerusalem Palestinians registering for the Israeli matriculation exam rather than the Palestinian one has also recently risen by dozens of percent, meaning these young Palestinians aspire to study at an Israeli university and work in Israel rather than studying and working in the Arab world. This, too, is a sea change: For years, Palestinians refused to allow their children to study the Israeli curriculum; now, private preparatory schools are springing up to enable these children to pass the Israeli exams.
Moreover, repeated polls have shown that if Jerusalem were redivided, many Palestinians–at least a sizable minority, and possibly a majority–would want to remain in Israel. But again, what East Jerusalem residents want is of no interest to the UN.
All of which just goes to show, if anyone had any doubts, that the UN and its member states have no interest whatsoever in the actual wellbeing of those under Israeli “occupation.” All they’re interested in is bashing Israel.

Museum of Polish Jewry opens in 2013

From YouTube, 7 Sep 2012:

The Museum of the History of Polish Jews, built on the site of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, will honor and celebrate 1000 years of Jewish life and culture in Poland. This film documents the Museum's development from its groundbreaking in 2007 and includes footage of volunteers building the replica of the 17th-century Gwoździec Synagogue, a keystone of the Core Exhibition. The film is a succinct and engaging portrait of an enormous work in progress, including breathtaking helicam views of the building exterior. In the film, Dr Elie Wiesel explains why the Museum, opening in 2013, is so important: "The Museum is a geographical place of memory, and you cannot be in the place of the Ghetto Uprising and not feel something very deep. There were 1,000 years of Jewish history in Poland; 1,000 years of activity, of extraordinary aspirations and endeavors and dreams and metamorphoses; 1,000 years, which must be studied and communicated and shared."

New Israel Fund Response to Im Tirtzu is Riddled With Lies

The following, from Algemeiner, 14 Dec 2012, analyses the New Israel Fund's response to an open letter from Zionist youth movement Im Tirtzu (see this previous JIW posting for background):

...The NIF response, posted below paragraph by paragraph with my comments, is astonishing:
In today’s “open letter” to the New Israel Fund chair, the Im Tirtzu organization uses allegation, misrepresentation and outright falsehood to make their case.
* Many fewer civilian lives were lost during Operation Pillar of Defense than in Cast Lead four years ago. This is partially because the Israel Defense Forces, publicly and to its credit, used reports from human rights organizations to improve its operational procedures to better avoid civilian casualties.
The work of NIF-supported human rights organizations saved lives.
The truth is that percentage of civilians killed compared to militants in Pillar of Defense is roughly the same as for Cast Lead, about 1 to 1.
Anyone who has read the IDF responses to Goldstone would know that the processes meant to protect civilians pre-dates Cast Lead. Of course, the IDF is always looking to improve, and it looks at criticism from all corners, but the IDF goes to lengths that are literally unprecedented by any other army to minimize civilian casualties. For the NIF to take credit for this is not only obviously false, but more than a little self-serving. And its comparison of casualties in two completely different scales of conflict is knowingly deceptive.

The NIF’s response is false.
* For three years, Im Tirtzu has accused the Israeli human rights community of being the prime source for the Goldstone report. Repeating a lie loudly and frequently doesn’t make it so. An objective analysis proved that less than two percent of the Goldstone Report’s negative findings about the IDF during Operation Cast Lead were attributable to human rights organizations (link); the vast majority of information came from public sources in the Israeli government and military.
Im Tirtzu does not make that claim in this open letter. It says that the anti-Israel campaign from NGOs culminated in the Goldstone Report and that NIF grantees were cited extensively. Im Tirtzu’s language here is mostly accurate (maybe not “hundreds of times” but well over a hundred.)
NIF’s response is false.
* Not one of the human rights organizations Im Tirtzu attacks accused Israel of war crimes in the recent Gaza action. One organization signed a letter asking for investigation of possible breaches of the Geneva convention by both sides in the conflict.
In Im Tirtzu’s fact sheet, they document the accusations with citations:
A B’Tselem statement the day after Operation Pillar of Defense began accused Israel of targeting civilians: “As was the case four years ago [in Operation Cast Lead], Israeli officials are now using the conduct of Palestinian organizations to justify harm to Palestinian civilians….The fact that one side violates the law does not give the other side the right to violate it as well.” (HERE) Days later, B’Tselem accused Israel of targeting journalists (HERE) despite the fact that the “journalists” were well-known senior terrorists in Hamas and Islamic Jihad. (HERE) Adalah, another flagship NIF grantee – it seeks as an official position the end of Israel as a Jewish State – accused Israel of “a serious violation of the laws of war.” (HERE) Sari Bashi, the executive director of Gisha, accused Israel of “collective punishment” during the conflict. (HERE) Collective punishment is a war crime under Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention. The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel signed a statement claiming, without offering any specifics, “concrete evidence indicating the commission of war crimes” by Israel. The statement also blamed Israel entirely for Hamas’s rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and called for another Goldstone-style “investigation” of Israel at the United Nations. (HERE)
NIF’s response is false.
The NIF response letter continues:
* The right to dissent is often a casualty of war. After Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s human rights community were threatened and vilified and it is now happening again. As in any conflict anywhere, it is the responsibility of human rights groups to monitor and report, and it is their right and everyone’s to offer opinions regarding the conduct of the conflict. While NIF does not necessarily agree with the positions of the many organizations we support, we staunchly defend their right to do their jobs, dissent from the majority based on their own analyses, and point out controversial issues of concern.
Here, the NIF is acknowledging that they cannot defend everything that the organizations they fund do – but they are willing to continue to fund them nonetheless! Is there any oversight? Are there any checks and balances? Are there any reviews of issues that the NIF might find problematic? Or is an organization’s criticism of Israel enough to give it the benefit of the doubt?
Moreover, it is a bit hypocritical to complain about NGO’s being “vilified” when that is exactly what they do to Israel, every day. The simple fact is that the NGOs must adhere to the standards they demand from the Israeli government and the IDF. Demanding that their biases, their sources of funding, their methodologies and the identity and affiliations of their researchers be exposed is simply asking them to be transparent – something that any legitimate watchdog organization should welcome.
They draw conclusions about Israeli motivations using far, far less credible evidence than their detractors use to criticize them. It is when they stonewall on this vital information that we can start to wonder if they are as pure and objective as they claim to be. Any unbiased observer must conclude that they are not – far from it. And this letter from NIF proves it.
This doesn’t mean that what they do is worthless – all democracies must have checks and balances, and Israel is no exception. But when they cross the line from truth into lies, as the NIF response does, it is reasonable to question everything else about them.
It is not a small matter. While the NGOs claim that they are working to save people’s lives, their work can also endanger people’s lives. The debate as to where the line must be drawn between valuing some lives and endangering other lives during wartime is a valuable one, and one that the IDF engages in every day with or without the NIF.
Criticism is fine – but lies are not. This response shows that, apparently, the funder of these anti-Israel NGOs does not know the difference.

Israeli journalist Ben Dror Yemini also published an article, excellently summing up the ramifications of the NIF’s activities during Operation Pillar of Defense, and reaching the unequivocal conclusion that the NIF is continuing its duplicity. Excerpts:
...It is not clear why the NIF insists on denying the fact that organisations it supports indeed hastened to make the usual unfounded allegations against Israel.
Furthermore the NIF's attempt to portray In Tirtzu['s] letter as simply more witch-hunting by the radical right becomes somewhat ridiculous in the light of the list of academics, intellectuals, mayors and former army personnel who signed that letter...

The Nazi Resurgence in Hungary

From American Thinker, 9 Dec 2012:

The dark pedigree of the "Left"

From Caroline Glick, 27 Dec 2012:

...By the early 1980s, the political Left in the US had already abandoned support for Israel.
When I grew up in what would later become Barack Obama's neighborhood in Chicago, the black political machine in the neighborhood and the city, led by the likes of Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan was openly anti-Semitic and pro-Muslim. The white Left was also hostile. The Communists were anti-Israel. The media was anti-Israel....
This was not the case for people who came of age in the 1950s and early 1960s. At that time, the USSR had not yet cut off its relations with Israel. The civil rights movement was a joint Jewish-black movement.
...the NAACP was founded by Jews. The plaintiff in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, the landmark Supreme Court decision from 1954 that opened the path to school desegregation, was represented by the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund's legal team of Jack Greenberg and Thurgood Marshall. The famous Mississippi Burning incident where three civil rights workers were lynched in 1964 involved the murder of one black civil rights worker James Earl Chaney and two Jewish civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwermer.
But starting sometime around 1965, the blacks began the process of expelling the Jews from the Civil Rights movement, as they embraced anti-Semitism and the Arab war for the destruction of Israel. In New York City, this period reached a culmination in the 1968 teachers strike. The strike was caused by the decision of a black school board in Brownsville, Brooklyn to fire many of the Jewish teachers and administrators from the local schools and replace them with black separatist teachers and administrators...
... a fascinating FBI report from 1970 ...was declassified under the Freedom of Information Act in 2009. Titled, "FBI Monograph: Fedayeen Impact - Middle East and United States, June 1970," it is focused on the PLO, and Fatah's penetration of the American political Left....
In the section on PLO operations in the US, The monograph discussed its outreach to the African American political leadership and the radical white establishment. These sections of the report are fascinating and I recommend you take an hour or so to read the entire document yourself.
As the report puts it, "Since the June 1967, war, reports emanating from various sources have suggested that the Arabs have co-opted black extremists in the United States to assist the 'struggle' against Israel in the Middle East and in the United States."
The report makes specific mention of the co-optation of the Black Panther Party, (BPP), the Student National Coordinating Committee, (SNCC), Stokely Carmichael, and the Nation of Islam.
Several BPP leaders participated in anti-Israel conferences in Africa and the Middle East where they gave stridently anti-Semitic speeches calling for the destruction of Israel. In one speech in Algeria in 1969 BPP "Minister of Information" Eldridge Cleaver, "Proclaimed BPP support for the Arab position and criticized 'US-Zionists,' mentioning Arthur Goldberg, Henry A. Kissinger, and Judge Julius Hoffman. He also expressed BPP admiration for Yasir Arafat and al-Fatah. Cleaver and Arafat reportedly hugged and kissed each other and received a standing ovation from those at the conference."
In an interview with the New York Times on August 15, 1967, SNCC leader Ralph Featherston launched an all-out assault against Israel and Jews.
According to the FBI report, in the interview he said that "SNCC is drawn to the Arab cause because it is working toward a 'third world alliance of oppressed people all over the world - Africa, Asia, Latin America - and considers the Arabs have been oppressed continually by Israelis and by Europeans as well in such countries as Algeria.' He denied that SNCC was anti-Semitic, but was interested in indicting only 'Jewish oppressors,' a category he applied to Israel, and 'to those Jews in the little Jew shops in the ghettos.'"
Stokely Carmichael sang from the same song sheet and did so not in Algeria but on US college campuses such as George Washington University and Harvard beginning in 1970.
The Soviet Union openly sided with the Arabs in the Six Day War and cut off relations with Israel immediately following the war. The radical American Left, populated by the Communist Party USA and other Communist front groups and New Left groups abandoned Israel at the same time. This mass abandonment included the Progressive Labor Party; Students for a Democratic Society, (SDS); SDS-Weathermen; the Socialist Workers Party; Workers World Party; and the Communist Party - USA, (CPUSA).
Since President Obama's political world is populated by individuals from all these groups, and since Obama launched his political career in the living room of SDS-Weathermen terror commanders Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, it is worth noting that in the SDS-Weathermen magazine "SDS Fire" December 6, 1969 issue, contained an editorial stating that "Arab peoples, above all the Palestinian people, will not and cannot accept the existence of Israel, a colonial-type creature imposed by outside forces on the area."...
...And so as the decades passed, what were the positions of the radical Left in the 1960s became increasingly the positions of the mainstream Left, until by last summer, they became the positions of the majority of delegates at the Democratic National Convention.

When I was growing up in Chicago, the local Jewish establishment's refusal to support Israel in the 1982 Lebanon War is what made me decide to make aliyah. By the time I arrived at Columbia in 1987, and the Palestinian uprising broke out, it was hard to find Jewish leaders who were willing to stand up for Israel without stuttering.
Today the situation has become simply untenable. Suffice it to say that Bill Ayres's political protégé Barack Obama's success in garnering 70 percent of the Jewish vote is not an aberration....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Know your enemy: How many extremists...?

From the Results of an Opinion Poll by the "Arab World For Research and Develoment" (Ramallah), 15 Dec 2012:

These are the results and analyses of the latest Arab World for Research & Development (AWRAD) public opinion poll, focusing on the aftermath of the UN vote on November 29, 2012 and the Gaza confrontations in the last two weeks of November.....
The questionnaire was fielded December 1-2, 2012, only 2 days after the UN vote recognizing Palestine as a non-member state. The initiative was led by Palestinian President M. Abbas. The poll was also fielded a week after the cease-fire agreement went into effect in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian groups led by Hamas. The agreement was brokered by Egypt and Turkey.
For this survey, 1,200 Palestinians were interviewed in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  All socioeconomic groups were represented in the poll (for more details on the sample, please refer to  The margin of error in this poll is plus or minus 3 percent.  The survey was carried out by AWRAD researchers under the supervision of Dr. Nader Said-Foqahaa, President of AWRAD. 

...The Gaza Confrontation:
...88 percent believe that the results of the confrontation in Gaza prove that armed struggle is the best means of achieving Palestinian independence.
....50 percent believe that the confrontations in Gaza will not lead to real change in the affairs of Palestinians. 46 percent believe otherwise.
...89 percent say that their views of Hamas improved or improved to some extent, while only 8 percent say that their views diminished.
...86 percent say that their views of Haniyeh improved or improved to some extent, while only 9 percent say that their views diminished.
...83 percent say that their views of KhaledMeshaal improved or improved to some extent, while only 10 percent say that their views diminished.
...In addition, 85 percent say that their views of Islamic Jihad improved or improved to some extent, while only 9 percent say that their views diminished.

...Impact on Views of Political Approaches
...For the first timesince 2006, more Palestinians (40 percent) believe that the approach supported by Hamas and other militant groups is preferable to that supported by Fatah and President Abbas (33 percent)....
...Furthermore, the results of the present poll show that respondents are divided on the issue of a two-state solution, with 47 percent supporting and 50 percent opposing. Support for a two-state solution is higher in Gaza (51 percent) than in the West Bank (44 percent)...

...Political Support
Support for Hamas has increased slightly while support for Fatah has declined slightly since July 2012:
...Support for Hamas increased by 7 points from July (15 percent) to the present (22 percent).
...Support for Hamas increased by 7 point in Gaza and 8 points in the West Bank....

Follow this link to download the full report in English.

Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue will be rebuilt

From Israel Hayom, 25 Dec 2012, by Nadav Shragai:
The Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, circa 1940 (photo credit: CC BY Jerusalem Municipality, Wikipedia)

On Friday, May 25, 1948 (Iyyar 12, 5709), several hours before the onset of Shabbat, the Nissan Beck (Tiferet Yisrael) Synagogue collapsed into ruins, along with its beautiful dome. Plumes of fire and smoke ascended upward, and a large cloud of dust at first obscured the destruction. Arab terrorists had managed to hide a large explosive device under the synagogue and detonate it.
Esther Cailingold and a handful of comrades were defending the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City on behalf of the Haganah. They watched tearfully as one of the outstanding symbols of Jerusalem's Old Yishuv collapsed. Nevertheless, the fighting continued around it.
The Jewish Quarter's children, some of them just 9 and 10 years old, were there too. The younger ones strengthened fortifications. Children of 12 and older acted as liaisons, passing along messages, food and even weapons and ammunition to the fighters.
Some of these children took active part in the fighting and were killed, including Yaffa Harush, 16, and Nissim Gini, 10, the youngest person to fall in battle in Israeli history. Four days before the Jewish Quarter fell, at the Karaite site next to the synagogue, Esther Cailingold sustained serious injuries.
She was carried to the Armenian monastery. While on her deathbed, she wrote these final words to her parents in England:

"I am writing to beg you that whatever may have happened to me, you will make the effort to take it in the spirit I want. We had a difficult fight. I have tasted hell but it has been worthwhile because I am convinced the end will see a Jewish state and all our longings ... I want you to remember that we were soldiers and had the greatest and noblest cause to fight for ... I have lived my life fully, and very sweet it has been to be here in our land ... I hope one day soon you will all come and enjoy the fruits of that for which we are fighting. Be happy and remember me only in happiness. Shalom, Esther."

At the beginning of this month, the state paid off another debt to Cailingold and 66 other fighters and civilians who fell defending the Jewish Quarter in 1948. It approved a plan of the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter to rebuild the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue.
Model of the Tiferet Yisrael after the proposed reconstruction (photo credit: courtesy Jerusalem Municipality)
Like its twin, the Hurva Synagogue, which was restored to its original glory several years ago, Tiferet Yisrael's restoration will be faithful to the original. The ruins of the old structure, including the western facade, the southern facade and the ritual baths will be incorporated into the new building.
The famous dome with its 12 windows and surrounding balcony will be restored, along with the landscape scenes in the main sanctuary representing the four seasons. When Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph visited Jerusalem in 1870, he wondered out loud why the building did not have a dome. Jewish representatives responded that the synagogue had taken off its hat in his honor. The emperor took the hint and contributed 1,000 French francs to rebuild the dome and complete the synagogue.
Today, we no longer need contributions from foreigners, nor do we need their approval. Abdullah el-Tell, the Arab Legion commander who conquered the Old City in 1948, may have summarized the battle with the words:

"The Jewish Quarter has been destroyed. This renders the Jews' return to this place impossible."

But the Jews did return, there and to other parts of the Old City, the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.
Of course, this has not stopped Hamas and like-minded groups, who are responsible for endless terror attacks against worshippers at Jewish shrines (Rachel's Tomb, Joseph's Tomb, synagogues in the Gaza Strip's Gush Katif area, and more), to try once again to ignite the atmosphere. After all, that is what they did when the Hurva Synagogue was restored. But we must not let them make us flinch, even if "enlightened" and hypocritical Europe once again condemns us.
We could also share with Palestinians and Europeans the most recent discovery of historian Dr. Aryeh Morgenstern, who exposed the truth behind the incitement and lies of the "Al-Aqsa is in danger" campaign in connection with the Hurva Synagogue's restoration. It seems that what especially bothers the Palestinians, about both the Hurva and Tiferet Yisrael synagogues, is their height, about 23 meters (75 feet), the same as their original height.
It turns out that during Ottoman times the Jews were given special permission to build structures that tower over Muslim religious buildings on the Temple Mount. This permission was given by none other than a Muslim architect named Asad Effendi, who was sent from Istanbul by the sultan to oversee the repair of mosques on the Temple Mount.
That is how the Hurva and Tiferet Yisrael synagogues came to rise to such heights. Now they are rising anew "from amidst the turmoil" — the Temple's destruction and the Exile — as the renowned liturgical poet Rabbi Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz wrote in his famous prayer "Lekhah Dodi."


Christianity is in serious danger of being wiped out in its biblical heartlands because of Islamic oppression, according to a new report from a leading independent think-tank.
But Western politicians and media largely ignore the widespread persecution of Christians in the Middle East and the wider world because they are afraid they will be accused of racism.
They fail to appreciate that in the defence of the wider concept of human rights, religious freedom is the “canary in the mine”, according to the report.
The refusal of young Christians in the West to become “radicalised” and mount violent protests against the attacks on their faith also helps to explain the “blind spot” about “Christianophobia” in influential liberal Western circles.
The report, Christianophobia, written by journalist Rupert Shortt and published by Westminster think-tank Civitas, lays bare the scale of the vendetta against Christians across the globe.
They are more likely to be the target of discrimination or persecution that any other religious group and they are particularly at risk in Muslim-dominated societies. Oppression is magnified by anti-Americanism and the false belief that Christianity is a “Western” creed, even though it originated in the Middle East and has been an integral part of that region’s belief systems for 2000 years.
Mr Shortt quotes expert findings that between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have left or been killed over the past century.
The pace of this assault is now intensifying with the rise of militant Islam in countries such as Egypt, Iraq and now, with the civil war, Syria.
Across the world as a whole, some 200 million Christians (10 per cent of the total) are socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.
Mr Shortt writes: “Exposing and combating the problem ought in my view to be political priorities across large areas of the world. That this is not the case tells us much about a questionable hierarchy of victimhood.

“The blind spot displayed by governments and other influential players is causing them to squander a broader opportunity. Religious freedom is the canary in the mine for human rights generally.”

The report surveys in detail the extent of Christian persecution in seven countries – Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Nigeria, Burma, China and India. And it cites findings from the Freedom House think-tank report to highlight the way that Muslim-majority countries are the most hostile to Christians.
They impose the greatest curbs on religious freedoms and make up 12 of the 20 countries judged to be “unfree” on the grounds of religious tolerance. Of the seven states receiving the lowest possible score, four are Muslim.
Mr Shortt traces the rise of Christianophobia in Egypt to the early 1970s when the quadrupling of oil prices gave Saudi Arabian religious extremists the material means to export their intolerant views around the world.
Atrocities involving the deaths of scores of Christians in the 1970s were followed by steady deterioration in the 1980s and 1990s when the death rate multiplied into the hundreds in many separate attacks.
More recently, in January 2010, 13 worshippers were killed when they came out of St George’s Church in Nag Hammadi, near Luxor.
Mr Shortt illustrates the mounting hostility to Christians by quoting the Salafist website ‘Guardians of the Faith’, which published an article saying “Being a Muslim girl whose role models are the wives of the Prophet, who were required to wear the hijab, is better than being a Christian girl, whose role models are whores.”
The problem is compounded by the fact that “…many Egyptian Muslims think that Copts are implicated in what they see as a Christian assault on the Muslim world, because of George W. Bush’s use of the term ‘crusade’ after 9/11.
“Others maintain that Bush’s ill-chosen words and mistaken policies have provided a convenient excuse for aggression against minority groups which patently have no connection with Western governments.”
Iraq has also witnessed the decimation of its Christian community amid frequent bombings, shootings, beheadings and kidnappings, especially since the invasion of 2003.
In 1990 there were between 1.2 to 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. By 2003, there were only around half a million. Today there are less than 200,000.
Christians are also under pressure in non-Muslim countries.
Mr Shortt points out that more Christians are imprisoned in China than in any other country in the world. It is estimated that almost 2000 members of house churches were arrested during the 12 months after May 2004 alone.
This is in a country where “public security officials have the right to imprison people for up to three years without trial,” he points out.
Mr Shortt asks whether the problem is with Islam itself or contingent factors?
“There is a theory that the idea of jihad is more deeply embedded in Islam than related notions in the other world religions – and therefore that Islam is more susceptible to violent extremism – because of the martial context in which Islam took root.”
However, he does not exclude Christians from committing acts of violence against other faiths, highlighting the activities in the 1970s and 1980s of Lebanese Phalangist militias were dominated by Maronites in communion with the see of Rome.
During the 1990s, Orthodox Christians (and ex-Communists who used their religious heritage as a flag of convenience) were guilty of extreme aggression against Muslims and Catholics in the Balkans.
The author concludes that it took Christian societies many centuries to evolve a tradition of tolerance towards other faiths. He expresses the hope that Islam might eventually reach the same destination.