Latest Analysis and Commentary

Egypt's Blockade of Gaza

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  May 29, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Since the beginning of this year, the Egyptians have opened the Rafah border crossing for five days only. The international community and media often talk about Israel's responsibility for the ongoing blockade of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, while ignoring that the Egyptians have been imposing severe travel restrictions on the 1.7 million Palestinians living there.

  • "We understand Egypt's security concerns in Sinai, but it's time for the Egyptians to reopen the border crossing on a permanent basis, especially in light of the historic relations between Egypt and Palestine." — Salah Abdel Ati, Palestinian human rights activist

  • It is shameful for the Egyptians and other Arabs that, while they are imposing various restrictions on Palestinians, Israel is helping patients from the Gaza Strip undergo surgery in Jerusalem. Ironically, the frustration and bitterness eventually translate into violence against Israel, not Egypt. The Palestinians are well aware that attacking Egypt would draw a very strong response from the Egyptian military.

  • Instead of pointing the finger of blame at Israel, it is time for the international media and community to put pressure on Egypt and other Arab countries to help their Palestinian brethren and to stop torturing and humiliating them.

The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, January 2009. (Source: International Transport Workers' Federation)

Yussra al-Najjar, a 65-year-old woman from the Gaza Strip, died this week while waiting to return from Egypt to the Gaza Strip. She and hundreds of Palestinians had been stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing for the past few months.

Al-Najjar is the tenth Palestinian to die while waiting for the Egyptians to reopen the Rafah terminal. Her relatives said she lost consciousness while waiting inside the travelers' hall on the Egyptian side of the border and was rushed to an Egyptian hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The story of the Palestinian woman who passed away after being banned from by the Egyptian authorities from returning home to the Gaza Strip is unlikely to make it to the pages of major Western newspapers. Her story would have won extensive media coverage had she been stranded on the Israeli side of the border for even one day.

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Universities Should Be Unsafe For Political Correctness

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  May 28, 2015 at 11:00 am

The current code word being tossed around to protect political correctness from competition in the marketplace of ideas is "unsafe."

"I feel unsafe" has become the argument stopper on many university campuses. Efforts have been made to shut down controversial events or speakers, some of which have succeeded, at MIT, the University of Michigan, Northeastern University, Oxford, Hampshire College, Smith College, and other great universities, on the grounds that students would feel "unsafe." Students must, of course, be and feel physically safe in their dorms, classrooms, and campuses. That's what university and city police are for: to protect against physical assaults and threats. But no one on a university campus should be or feel safe or protected when it comes to the never-ending war of ideas.

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Filling the Vacuum in Syria
Islamic State, Al-Nusra Front, and Hezbollah

by Yaakov Lappin  •  May 28, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • The idea that, because Sunni and Shi'ite elements are locked in battle with one another today, they will not pose a threat to international security tomorrow, is little more than wishful thinking.

  • The increased Iranian-Hezbollah presence needs to be closely watched.

  • A policy of turning a blind eye to the Iran-led axis, including Syria's Assad regime, appears to be doing more harm than good.

Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah fighters are deeply involved in Syria's civil war. (Image source: Hezbollah propaganda video)

As the regime of Bashar Assad continues steadily to lose ground in Syria; and as Assad's allies, Iran and Hezbollah, deploy in growing numbers to Syrian battlegrounds to try to stop the Assad regime's collapse, the future of this war-torn, chaotic land looks set to be dominated by radical Sunni and Shi'ite forces.

The presence of fundamentalist Shi'ite and Sunni forces fighting a sectarian-religious war to the death is a sign of things to come for the region: when states break down, militant entities enter to seize control. The idea that, because Sunni and Shi'ite elements are locked in battle with one another today, they will not pose a threat to international security tomorrow, is little more than wishful thinking.

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"Secular" Turkey

by Uzay Bulut  •  May 27, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • A deeper look into the history of Turkey reveals that, unfortunately, Turkey has never been either truly secular or democratic. In Turkey, freedom of conscience and religion is respected -- but only if you are a practicing Sunni Muslim.

  • The problem is that "modern" Turkey claims to be a "secular" republic; a secular republic is supposed to treat all people -- Muslims and non-Muslims -- equally. The objective of the Diyanet (Presidency of Religious Affairs), on the other hand, is to keep religion (Islam) under the control of the state, and to keep the people under the control of the state by means of religion.

  • "Those who are not genuine Turks can have only one right in the Turkish fatherland, and that is to be a servant, to be a slave. We are in the most free country of the world. They call this Turkey." — Mahmut Esat Bozkurt, Turkey's first Minister of Justice, 1930.

In this photo from September 1955, a government-instigated mob of Muslim Turks in Istanbul is destroying stores owned by Greek Christians.

When many Western analysts discuss the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, they rightfully criticize it for its religious intolerance, authoritarianism and lack of respect for secular principles and minorities. They also tend to compare the AKP to former Kemalist governments, and draw a distinction between the Islamist AKP and former non-Islamist governments.

They claim that Turkey was "secular" and somewhat "democratic," until the AKP came to power.

A deeper look into the history of Turkey, however, reveals that, unfortunately, Turkey has never been either truly secular or democratic.

The modern Turkish state, since its founding in 1923, has never kept its hands off religion. It has engaged in religious matters on almost all levels -- by institutionalizing Sunni Islam and by persecuting (or annihilating) other faiths.

Intolerance, even hatred, for non-Muslims was openly promoted -- even by the heads of the state -- from day one.

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Germany's "Demagogue of Armed Jihad"

by Soeren Kern  •  May 26, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • "We want your blood. It tastes so wonderful." — Denis Cuspert, German rapper-turned-jihadist.

  • Such measures, however, are not likely to deter Cuspert from producing more propaganda videos. They arguably pose more of a threat to Germany than his physical presence there.

  • "In Germany, sleeper cells lie in wait... Even while you're in Europe, do your jihad. Allah is going to reward you. Paradise is waiting." — Denis Cuspert.

German rapper-turned-jihadist Denis Cuspert, wearing jihadi battle gear.

A German rapper-turned-jihadist has called on his followers to carry out terrorist attacks in Germany.

In a high-quality video released by the Islamic State in April, Denis Cuspert also warns that terrorist sleeper cells have infiltrated Germany and are ready for activation.

German authorities say they are taking the threats seriously: Cuspert — who has been likened to Nazi Minister for Propaganda Joseph Goebbels — has become the Islamic State's chief propagandist in the German language and is unusually capable of inspiring disillusioned young Germans to become jihadists.

Cuspert's transformation from rapper to jihadist is documented in a 25-page analysis produced by the German intelligence service, which has described him as "quite simply the most interesting propagandist of the Salafist movement in the German-speaking realm."

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How Anti-Israel Incitement Backfires

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  May 25, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel, while the Palestinian Authority (PA) is conducting security coordination with the Israeli Defense Forces. That is enough for their people to turn against them and accuse them of "collaboration" with the "Zionist enemy."

  • Will the PA and Jordan start educating their people about tolerance and peace with Israel? Sadly, that is unlikely to happen, at least not in the near future. The anti-Israel rhetoric has made it impossible even to talk about the possibility of peace with Israel.

Hundreds of Muslims on the Temple Mount, yelling and throwing objects, surround three Jewish men and their children, as about a dozen police officers try to hold back the angry crowd and evacuate the Jews.

For several months now, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Jordan have been strongly condemning visits by Jewish groups and individuals to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

The PA and Jordan have accused the Jewish visitors of "desecrating" the Haram al-Sharif [Noble Sanctuary], the name used by Muslims to refer to the Temple Mount.

The visits, which are held in coordination with the Jerusalem Police, are described by the PA and Jordan as attempts to "storm" the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The charges made by the PA leadership and Jordan have triggered a campaign by Muslims to foil the visits by Jews to the holy site. Almost every day, Muslim hecklers intercept the Jewish visitors by hurling abuse at them and chanting "Allahu Akbar" ("Allah is Greater") in their faces.

In some cases, Palestinians have thrown shoes at the Jewish visitors, including children.

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Turkey: Not-Quite Rule of Law

by Burak Bekdil  •  May 25, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • The testimonies of the prosecutors make for interesting reading, especially for anyone who might be thinking that Turkey is part of the Western coalition fighting the Islamic State.

  • Turkey and its NATO allies have totally different threat perceptions and goals in Syria's war.

Turkish security forces inspect a truck that was smuggling weapons to Syria, Jan. 19, 2014.

Ali Babacan, a world-renowned economist and Turkey's mild-mannered Deputy Prime Minister, put it realistically in a recent speech: "Public trust in the justice system is in steady decline."

How could it not be? Turkey has finally become a country where prosecutors and law enforcement authorities get indicted rather than indict suspects. The latest episode unveils how Turkey's Islamist government (not-so-) secretly supported the radical Islamists in Syria.

On Jan. 19, 2014, the Turkish gendarmerie command stopped and searched three trucks in southern Turkey, heading for Syria. Accompanying the trucks were Turkish intelligence officers, and the trucks had a bizarre cargo: In the first container, 25-30 missiles or rockets and 10-15 crates loaded with ammunition; in the second, 20-25 missiles or rockets, 20-25 crates of mortar rounds and anti-aircraft ammunition in five or six sacks. The crates had markings in the Cyrillic (Russian) alphabet.

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Memorial Day Message

May 25, 2015 at 1:00 am

  • Gatestone Institute wishes to thank the brave men and women of America's armed forces who gave their lives -- and continue to risk them every day -- so that we may sleep soundly in our beds at night. We are in your debt. — The Editors.

Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington National Cemetery. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

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Asylum Seekers, Beheaders and Mega Mosques
One Month of Islam in Europe: April 2015

by Soeren Kern  •  May 24, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Hackers claiming to belong to the Islamic State attacked TV5Monde, a French television network, and knocked it off the air globally. The network broadcasts in more than 200 countries. "Our websites and social media sites are no longer under our control." — Yves Bigot, Director General, TV5Monde.

  • "We hate no one. We fight for our freedom and hence we object to totalitarian Islam, but we do not hate Muslims.... I am happy that we in the Netherlands and in Germany are allowed to demonstrate against each other. Without violence. Without hatred." — Geert Wilders, Dresden, Germany, April 13, 2015.

  • "I've come here [to Syria] to behead infidels. I am ready. At some point, we'll be in Switzerland." — Jihadist who has had a Swiss passport since 1995, in a social media message.

Geert Wilders addresses a rally of PEGIDA supporters in Dresden, Germany, on April 13, 2015. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

In Austria, a new report from the Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt) revealed that 34,070 illegal immigrants arrived in Austria in 2014, a 24% jump over 2013. Most of the migrants came from Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Eritrea and Kosovo. More than half, roughly 20,750 of the migrants, hired smugglers to bring them to Austria; the remainder arrived on their own. More than two-thirds of the migrants arrived from Italy (51.6%) and Hungary (34.4%).

On April 7, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz called on the European Union to launch a military operation against the Islamic State. He also called for a crackdown on so-called foreign fighters in Europe. Kurz said: "We are a militarily neutral country, but in terms of the Islamic State, our position is clear: Humanitarian aid for the victims is necessary, but much more needs to be done."

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Hamas, Europe and How to Get a State

by Uzay Bulut  •  May 23, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Denmark's Foreign Minister, Martin Lidegaard, did not of course address the question: If your neighbor is trying to import weapons while threatening to kill you, what are you supposed to do about that? He also did not address the similar blockade of Gaza by Egypt, which faces the same problem. The more terror tunnels Hamas members build, the more respect they get from the West.

  • As someone born and raised a Muslim in the Middle East, and still living there, I can assure Europeans officials that if they think the recognition of Hamas and Palestinian statehood would encourage Hamas to change its charter and abandon its terrorists attacks, they could not be more wrong. Why then should Hamas change its charter or tactics, or commit itself to a peaceful resolution, when its current terror tactics seem to be working so magnificently?

  • "We do not distinguish between what was occupied in the 1940s and what was occupied in the 1960s... We will continue until the very last usurper is driven out of our land." – Sheik Nizar Rayan, a Hamas leader, Gaza, 2005.

  • The EU authorities speak about "peace talks," and a "two-state solution;" Hamas does not. Hamas openly rejects them. If one compares the language these governments use with the language Hamas officials use, they would appear to live on different galaxies. To Hamas, and apparently to many countries in Europe, Israel as no right to defend itself and no right to exist. But Europe is ready to prop up, with unconditional support, racist, anti-humanitarian organizations such as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Is this really the spirit of pluralism, humanism and tolerance these "good," "moral" European governments and the Vatican support?

Pope Francis greets Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas at the Vatican, May 16, 2015. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

This month, the Vatican signed the first treaty with "the state of Palestine," which it had already recognized in 2012.

The Vatican is not the only European state to have recognized the Hamas and Abbas government as an independent state. The Vatican is just the latest member of a trend that speaks volumes about how alarmingly clueless European states are about the conflict in the region and how blind they have become to see who actually causes terrorism and killings there.

Sadly, last year, Europe showed that terrorism and threats to commit genocide might just be the best way to acquire national independence.

In October 2014, the Britain's House of Commons voted in favor of symbolic motion that stands as initial stage of UK recognition of a "Palestinian state."

Then Sweden's government became the first major European country officially to recognize the state of "Palestine."

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A Century of Genocides: Next Trigger-Man, Iran

by Guy Millière  •  May 22, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • The first priority of most Western governments today seems to sign a deal with Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, who openly calls for Israel's and America's destruction.

  • The next priority of many European governments, and apparently the Pope, is to entrust a state to the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, a movement that does not hide its genocidal intentions.

  • Unless the Obama Administration and Congress stop Iran, we are about to witness the world's next genocide, committed by Iran. By teeing up Iran's nuclear capability and triggering a Middle East nuclear arms race, the U.S. and the negotiators of the P5+1 are creating conditions that can only lead to a disastrous war with catastrophic results.

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei (center), is shown meeting in May 2014 with Iran's military chief of staff and the commanders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. (Image source: IRNA)

On April 28, ceremonies were held to commemorate the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of the Dachau concentration camp. It might seem not a major event, as Dachau was not an extermination camp. Auschwitz-Birkenau, the main Nazi killing center, had fallen three months earlier. The absolute horror of Nazi crimes was fully known. The end of World War II was near: ten days later, on May 8, 1945, the surrender of Germany was signed.

Dachau nevertheless has a special meaning: it was the first camp. After its doors opened in 1933, it became the model for all Nazi concentration camps.[1]

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Who Can Attack Turkish Ships?

by Burak Bekdil  •  May 22, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • This time, there was no request for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council; no talks with the EU, NATO, Obama or Merkel. Instead, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a weak protest note.

  • President Erdogan's reaction to an attack on a civilian Turkish vessel by a foreign army was revealing: "Things would have been different had the ship carried a Turkish flag."

  • By the way, what flag did the Mavi Marmara carry? Comoros.

  • For Turkey's Islamists, "what was done" does not matter much. "Who did it" does.

The Turkish-owned ship Mavi Marmara, which took part in the 2010 "Gaza flotilla" that attempted to break Israel's navel blockade of Gaza. (Image source: "Free Gaza movement"/Flickr)

"This is the first time in history that a foreign army has killed civilian Turks in peacetime!"

This is how government-friendly media justified Turkey's reaction to Israel when, in May 2010, the Israel Defense Forces raided the "Mavi Marmara," a ship in a Turkish-led flotilla off the Gazan coast, and killed nine pro-Palestine activists aboard.

Any reader could be tempted to believe that Turkey was preparing to go to war with Israel.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, then foreign minister, insisted that "This is Turkey's own 9/11."

Turkey asked the United Nations Security Council to summon an emergency meeting. It knocked on other doors too: NATO, the European Union (EU), the Arab League and the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Then Prime Minister (now President) Recep Tayyip Erdogan called to discuss the Mavi Marmara crisis with U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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Defending Freedom of Speech

by Geert Wilders  •  May 21, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • We should never allow ourselves to be intimidated. And here, in America, you are allowed to make pictures and drawings, no matter what the Sharia says. ... If we react to threats over cartoons by no longer making cartoons, the terrorists have won. ... The jihadis want to kill me, but others want to silence me... by legal or political harassment. All this is happening not in third-world dictatorships, as you might expect, but in Western democracies.

  • And may I ask: Where are the demonstrations of Muslims who do not agree with the violence committed in the name of Islam and its prophet? I have not seen any of them, have you? The majority may not commit violence, but they do not oppose it either.

  • A free society should not grant freedom to those who want to destroy it. We should stand with every nation and every people who are threatened by jihad. This includes Israel... whose conflict with the Arabs is not about land; it is a conflict between freedom and tyranny.

  • If we allow ourselves to be self-censored about anything we say about Islam, then soon Islam will start telling us how to live, how to dress, how to breathe. ... That is how civilizations decay.

Bosch Fawstin's winning entry in the Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas, held on May 3, 2015. (Image source: Bosch Fawstin)

Freedom of speech is under threat today. Not only in Europe, where I come from. But also here, in America.

The last time I was in the United States was less than two weeks ago. I was in Garland, Texas, where I gave the keynote speech at a contest of Muhammad cartoons.

The contest was held in a conference center, where after the Paris Charlie Hebdo assassinations, an Islamic organization had convened to demand that freedom of speech be restricted and Muhammad cartoons be forbidden. The Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland was organized to make a stand against this demand. We should never allow ourselves to be intimidated.

The winner of the Garland contest was a former Muslim. There was something very symbolic about the fact that he was an apostate. Under Islamic Sharia law, apostasy is punishable by death. Under the same law, making illustrations of the prophet Muhammad is also punishable by death.

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Fatah's Armed Militias Warn Israelis: "You Must Leave!"

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  May 20, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • The international community and the media often ignore the fact that Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah has a number of armed groups. Their fight is to destroy Israel, eliminate the "Zionist entity" and achieve the "right of return" for millions of descendants of refugees.

  • The Palestinian Authority leadership has never distanced itself from the rhetoric and actions of these groups. Fatah's militias will be the first to reject any peace agreement that includes the slightest concession to Israel.

  • Several Fatah leaders, in fact, often speak in English about the need for reviving the peace process, while in Arabic they praise and endorse the Fatah gunmen.

Gunmen from Fatah's Abu al-Rish Brigades, which describes itself as the "military wing of Fatah," appear in a September 2014 propaganda video.

Many in the international community often refer to the Palestinian Fatah faction, which is headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, as a "moderate" group that believes in Israel's right to exist and the two-state solution.

What these people do not know is that Fatah, the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), consists of several groups that hold different views than those expressed by Abbas and other English-speaking Fatah officials.

Some of these Fatah groups do not believe in Israel's right to exist and continue to talk about the "armed struggle" as the only way to "liberate Palestine and restore Palestinian national rights."

One of these groups is called The Aqsa Martyrs Brigade - El Amoudi Brigade.

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Murders in Bangladesh, Government Looks the Other Way

by Monir Hussain  •  May 20, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • Forty-seven percent of Bangladeshi Muslims said that suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilian targets could be justified to defend Islam from an enemy (compared to Malaysia at 18%, Indonesia at 9% and Pakistan at 3%).

  • It seems clear, therefore, why the dissidents, atheists and secularists in Bangladesh remain unassisted by the society and the government.

Ananta Bijoy Das (left) was hacked to death on May 9 in Bangladesh, with Islamist extremists taking credit for the attack. At right, police collect evidence at the murder scene.

A third brilliant blogger has been hacked to death in Bangladesh since February. On May 9, Ananta Bijoy Das, a banker by profession, and a blogger, was murdered, apparently by Islamist extremists.

Das was murdered in broad daylight on a busy street in the country's fifth largest city, Sylhet. He had written for Mukto-Mona (Free Mind), a website with which the Bangladeshi-American blogger, Abhijit Roy, had worked before being hacked to death himself in February by machete-wielding assailants.

Five weeks after Roy's death, yet another blogger, Oyasiqur Rahman, was also brutally murdered by three men in Dhaka.

Their deaths echoed the murder of Ahmed Rajib Haider on February 15, 2013, and the stabbing in Bangladesh of Asif Mahiuddin in January 2013.

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