Latest Analysis and Commentary

Pakistan: Between Civility and Fanaticism

by Salim Mansur  •  January 31, 2015 at 5:00 am

A country made for Muslims has turned into a nightmare for Muslims.

The wish of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the father of Pakistan, was that the country evolved into a modern democratic state where Muslims, as a majority population, could feel at ease.

But the modernizers who succeeded the colonial authorities in taking power aroused expectations that were simply beyond their abilities to deliver.

But religious authorities were agitating, warning the bewildered masses that these defeats were divine punishments for betraying the true message of Islam by not faithfully abiding by its requirements.

Qutb in his writings recast the division in the world from the classic Muslim one between the House of Islam and the House of War, to one between Islam and jahiliyya, a condition of paganism that preceded the coming of Islam to Arabia. Jahiliyya has now become all-pervasive in the modern world, supposedly sparing none, including Muslims, except for that small coterie of Muslims who took flight [hijra] from the corrupted world and prepared for jihad [armed struggle].

Together, Hasan al-Banna, Abul A'la Maududi and Sayed Qutb fashioned political Islam as a closed system, in opposition to all other competing ideologies.

The theology of takfir -- declaring other Muslims apostates or unbelievers; excommunication -- obsessed with "unbelief," has provided the politics of jihad [armed struggle] with the theological justification that arms any Muslim to freelance as a soldier of Allah.

The strategic requirement for advancing global jihad was to convince Muslims that they are liable to be found committing heresy if they support non-Muslim or infidel authorities, such as the United States and its allies, or if they wage war against Muslims, such as members of al-Qaeda.

The theology of takfir and jihad has now come full circle. Many Pakistanis, when they disagree, now find themselves trapped in denunciations that they are unbelievers.

It is from these madrasas that the jihadi fighters come forth as cannon fodder for an endless jihad that has become a growth industry in Pakistan. The entire political elite in Pakistan has profited, just as the Iranian elite continues profiting by doing the same.

For many, being "pure" required separating oneself from non-Muslims.

"The Taliban were not providing strategic depth to Pakistan, but Pakistan was providing strategic depth to the Taliban." — Ahmed Rashid, foremost scholar of the Taliban.

Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, in conversation with India's Mahatma Gandhi

The recent massacre of school children by Taliban jihadists in a Peshawar army school just lowered even further the bar of atrocities carried out under the banner of Islam in Pakistan. As authorities floundered in the face of mounting violence, with serious implications for new wars in the region, the 2014 Global Terrorism Index ranked Pakistan third behind Iraq and Afghanistan among countries most impacted by terrorism. In addition, the "failed states index" elevated the status of Pakistan to being among the top dozen failed states of the world.

According to the intelligence report of the last conversation before the murders, monitored by Pakistan's security agency, one of the jihadists informed his handler, "We have killed all the children in the auditorium." He then asked, "What do we do now?" The handler answered, "Wait for the army people, kill them before blowing up yourself."[1]

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Confronting European Anti-Semitism

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  January 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm

I just completed a three day visit to Prague and the former Terezin concentration camp.  I was there to speak at a conference commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camps.  Many European speakers talked about the efforts they are making to confront the rising tide of anti-Semitism throughout Europe.  But before one can decide how to confront a sickness like anti-Semitism, one must first describe and diagnose the pathology.

There are several distinct, but sometimes overlapping, types of anti-Semitism.  The first is traditional, right wing, fascist Jew hatred that has historically included theological, racial, economic, social, personal and cultural aspects.  We are seeing a resurgence of this today in Greece, Hungary and other European countries with rising right wing parties that are anti-Muslim as well as anti-Jewish.

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Why Is Hamas Smiling?

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  January 30, 2015 at 5:00 am

In 2007, Abbas lost the Gaza Strip to Hamas. Now he seems to be losing the Gaza Strip to his rivals in Fatah. Many of his former Fatah supporters have turned against him.

The last thing the Palestinians and the international community want is another Syria or Libya or Yemen in the Middle East.

This is not a fight about rebuilding Gaza, or reforms, democracy or building a better future for Palestinians. This is not a fight between good guys and bad guys. Rather, this is a fight between bad guys and bad guys -- and it is all over money, ego and power.

More than a war of words. PA President Mahmoud Abbas (left) and Mohamed Dahlan. (Image sources: U.S. State Dept., M. Dahlan Office)

The Palestinian Fatah faction, whose leaders are supposed to be working toward preparing Palestinians for an independent Palestinian state, is currently embroiled in a bitter and violent power struggle between Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas and his major rival, Mohamed Dahlan.

This is a power struggle, however, that casts doubts on Fatah's preparedness to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem.

The Fatah infighting is not new, as Abbas and Dahlan, a former PA security commander in the Gaza Strip, have been waging war against each other for the past four years.

Abbas believes that Dahlan, who is currently based in the United Arab Emirates, has long been plotting to replace him as president of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas has taken a number of measures to undermine Dahlan, including having him expelled from Fatah.

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Is Israel Guilty of War Crimes?

by Denis MacEoin  •  January 29, 2015 at 5:00 am

Can the International Criminal Court [ICC] even be considered an impartial legal body, any more than a Jim Crow court in America's old South?

The supporters of this repackaged anti-Semitism always seem perfectly comfortable "forgetting" that Hamas offers its people no human rights. Thus is a liberal democracy, Israel, maligned by a theocratic tyranny.

It is clear that these illustrious members of the international community are secretly hoping that if they can rig the system so that the Arabs can finish off Israel, they, in the international community, will still be able to preen and congratulate themselves that the obliteration of the Jewish state had nothing to do with them.

Groups such as al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Hizbullah or Hamas are considered terrorists because they do not abide by the principles of international or domestic law. That, as well as the acts they commit, is what identifies them as terrorists. The differentiating factor with Islamist terror organizations is that they do not recognize international law at all.

Islamic law frees Hamas and other such groups from any obligation to abide by international standards, which they demonize as "Western" or "Christian" and therefore "Satanic."

As stated by an official UN report of 2009, among others, systematic and deliberate targeting of civilians violates International Humanitarian Law and amounts to a war crime.

Any movement, such as Hamas, that is openly determined to bring about the abolition of a sovereign state and the genocide of its citizens, breaks every clause in every charter of international law.

Hamas boasted that Palestinian civilians were killed while Hamas's terrorists remained alive, hiding in their underground bunkers and tunnels. (Image source: Hamas video screenshot)

On November 4, 2014, Amnesty International published a scathing report on Israeli "war crimes" in Gaza during the war between Hamas and Israel last year. Entitled, "Families under the rubble: Israeli attacks on inhabited homes," the report accuses Israel of displaying "callous indifference" in launching attacks on family homes in the densely populated coastal strip, and argued that in some cases the conduct amounted to war crimes. The report makes difficult reading. The toll of human tragedy in the conflict was enormous. Over 2,100 Palestinians were killed, about 1000 of them civilians. But did Israel commit war crimes? And is Amnesty reading war crimes legislation in a balanced way?

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Europe's Real "Resistance"

by Bassam Tawil  •  January 28, 2015 at 5:00 am

Europe's policies of encouraging groups such as Hamas, which constantly espouse violence, demolishes the Palestinian effort to achieve a responsible Palestinian state that finally could end the conflict with Israel.

The West has been duped. The French have naïvely taken the bait: they now associate Palestinian "Resistance" with the courageous French underground Résistance that fought the Germans in World War II. They incorrectly assume that the Palestinian "Resistance' must be a good thing, too.

But the Palestinian Resistance bears no resemblance to the French Résistance of Word War II. There is no way to compare them. The Palestinian "Resistance" is nothing more than terrorist organizations repressing their own people. They do not resist an evil force; they are an evil force.

The truth is that the Europeans do not really care about the Palestinians, only about destroying Israel.

Now the International Criminal Court is planning to investigate Israel because it had the gall to defend itself against terrorism, while what did Europe do? Europe, in the face of terrorism, invited every terrorist-sponsoring dictator to join it in a march to protest the very murders that these dictators had paid for.

There is no difference between Hamas's aspirations to be "liberated from the Zionist occupation," and radical Islam's aspirations to be liberated from the "Christian occupation" of Europe.

All "Resistance" should be against radical Islam as embodied by groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Islamic State, among others. They are the ones we should resist. They should not be allowed to rule us in some Islamist "Palestinian State."

A Salafist demonstration in Solingen, Germany on May 1, 2012, moments before it degenerated into a violent riot. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

Europeans, both civilians and law enforcement personnel, may well be on tenterhooks, wondering what thousands of young Muslim men and women, who left their countries of origin to join the Islamist terrorist organizations in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Africa, will do when they return. Europeans have reason to be concerned: many of the returning jihadists were trained to murder civilians.

When they come back to the countries to which their parents fled to escape the political and economic distress of the Arab and Muslim world, many of these mujahideen plan to kill their hosts in the name of extremist Islam. They will call their hosts "infidels," and kill them for the "crime" of not being Muslims.

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Oh Dear, It's Greece Again

by Malcolm Lowe  •  January 28, 2015 at 4:00 am

The new Prime Minister actually believes the economic nonsense that he spouted on his path to power. He now proclaims that "the troika belongs to the past." That is, the Eurozone must continue to hand over money to keep Greece afloat, but on terms dictated by Greece itself.

Just as Turkey's current government is paralyzing NATO policy, the new Greek government may begin to paralyze the ability of the European Council to adopt a common foreign policy.

SYRIZA's Alexis Tsipras gives an election victory speech in Athens, January 25, 2015.(Image source: RT video screenshot)

The world is surprised and horrified by the result of the Greek general election. Readers of this website, however, will not be surprised. To quote from May 2014:

"One consequence of polyglossia is that most Europeans have little idea of what is happening in other EU countries than their own. For example, the Greek crisis has long disappeared from European headlines everywhere except in Greece, where it is in the headlines every day. Nor is it surprising, since this is the first Greek government in history to have seriously tackled the institutional problems that have plagued the modern Greek state ever since its inception in 1832."

So much for the good news of yesteryear. The bad news is that it may have been the last such Greek government.

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How Iran Is Encircling the Gulf and Israel

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  January 27, 2015 at 5:00 am

With bases in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, Iran has surrounded all the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. This encirclement can be comfortably backed with Iran's forthcoming nuclear weapons program.

The Iranians already have Hezbollah sitting on Israel's northern border. All they need now is another terror group sitting in Gaza to the south, in order to create a similar encirclement. And they are working hard to achieve that goal.

"We welcome any party that supports the Palestinian cause." — Osama Hamden, Hamas leader.

Iran is not interested in the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip. The only thing Iran is interested in there is turning Hamas into another Iranian-backed army that would be used to attack Israel.

A ballistic missile on display in Iran. (Image source: Fars News)

As U.S. President Barack Obama continues to seek a negotiated deal on Iran's nuclear program, the Iranians have been working hard in recent weeks to infiltrate the Palestinian arena and re-establish ties with their erstwhile ally, Hamas.

Emboldened by Obama's obsession with the nuclear negotiations, which are set to resume next month, Iran's leaders apparently trust that the Obama Administration is prepared to turn a blind eye to whatever they do.

So the Iranians are apparently feeling free to meddle once again in the internal affairs of the Palestinians, to strengthen their hand still further in the Middle East.

With bases in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, Iran has surrounded Saudi Arabia and all the oil fields of the Persian Gulf. This encirclement can be comfortably backed with Iran's forthcoming nuclear weapons program.

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Justice, Erdogan Style

by Burak Bekdil  •  January 27, 2015 at 4:00 am

Turks facing a serious legal case would probably be better off hiring, instead of the best attorney in town, a senior official of the ruling AKP party.

The appearance this month of the "16 warriors" that guard Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his palace led to much mocking and derision in social media. Dr. Hasan Herken, a professor of medicine and university dean in western Turkey, was threatened and forced to resign after jokingly referring in a tweet to one of the warriors wearing a bathrobe. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

Shortly before parliamentary elections in 2011, a prominent opposition deputy visited Sakarya, a province not far away from Istanbul. Muharrem Ince, from the main opposition Republican People's Party [CHP], hopped on a minibus and made a speech to locals for about 15 minutes. Later, Ince would learn that a prosecutor had charged him with "blocking the city traffic by speaking on a minibus and attempting to wear down the government." The prosecutor was asking parliament to remove his immunity so that he could stand trial.

That never happened, but the indictment against the opposition deputy was the precursor to how Turkey's justice system would evolve and become an instrument to suppress any kind of dissent.

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Islamic Terrorism: The Taboo Topic

by Uzay Bulut  •  January 26, 2015 at 5:00 am

The political violence of the Koran is eternal and universal. The political violence of the Bible was for that particular historical time and place. This is the vast difference between Islam and other ideologies." — Bill Warner, Director, Center for the Study of Political Islam.

The word has turned into a place where free speech is confused with hate speech, and people in positions of responsibility, who take that responsibility seriously, such as the Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, are bullied, marginalized and brought to trial.

So, to a degree are we all mentally ill, but not all mental illnesses are socially acceptable and not every mentally ill person channels his mental illness through a prism of religion that glorifies homicide.

Every time Islamic terrorism is discussed, those who bring up the "Christian terrorism" of the Ku Klux Klan or anti-abortion violence simply block free speech, as if deliberately trying to scramble the main topic. They seem to be saying, "Whether the Islamic State is Islamic or not is irrelevant; there are Christian terrorists as well, so do not talk about Islamic terrorists."

When violence and domination in a religion are so deeply rooted -- and sanctioned with promises of rewards -- fundamentalists will always find people to excite and people to persecute. It is a magnificent ready-made outlet for people who wish to be violent and dominate, or identify with a cause bigger than themselves.

That is why Islamic theology, ideology and goals desperately need to be discussed. They deeply affect the life choices most Muslims make.

Geert Wilders was brought in for interrogation by Dutch authorities, who want to prosecute him for a remark made during a March 2014 speech, in which he asked, "Do you want more or fewer Moroccans?" (Image source: nos.nl video screenshot)

Shhhh! We can talk today of all religions but one. We can question all religions but one today. We know that any question of Islam can be taken as a criticism, and put our lives at risk, as seen most recently in Paris with the murders of the staff of Charlie Hebdo magazine. It is the only religion that people -- including the apologists for "Islamophobia" -- have to think ten times before discussing. At the same time, it is the same religion that is perpetually associated with "peace."

Why should anyone be afraid of a "religion of peace"? Because some of its supporters threaten to kill you, and often do.

Is there even one critic of Islam who has not received a threat, or been able to live freely without worrying about his or her safety? We are now living in a world where, if a prominent critic of Islam stays alive, or out of a court of law, it is considered almost a miracle -- in both the Muslim world and the West.

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Turkey's Dance with Jihadists

by Burak Bekdil  •  January 26, 2015 at 4:00 am

Turkish columnist Anmet Hakan was curious why the articles of the Turkish Penal Code that regulate "praising crime and criminals" were never applied to Islamists, while Turkish prosecutors, citing the same article, have the habit of indicting thousands of other individuals.

Protestors in front of an Istanbul mosque hold signs honoring the terrorists who perpetrated the Paris attacks, as well as Osama bin Laden, January 16, 2015. (Image source: DHA video screenshot)

On January 16, Muslims in Istanbul's devout Fatih district went to the mosque for their usual Friday prayers. Before crowds appeared in front of the mosque, everything looked normal. It was going to be just another day of quiet prayers. But this time, mosque-goers gathered earlier than the usual hour. They were there to hold funeral services (in absentia) for the terrorists who perpetrated the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris -- the Kouachi brothers. Then the worshippers at the mosque held a demonstration with a banner and placards:

  • "If freedom of expression has no limits, be prepared for our freedom to commit actions with no limits."
  • "We are threatening (you)! Do you dare?"
  • "We are all Kouachi" (in what appears like the Turkish response to the Charlie Hebdo slogan 'Je suis Charlie')

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Euroflop: Europe Dilutes the Euro

by Peter Martino  •  January 26, 2015 at 3:30 am

Every criminal printing money can now argue in court that he should be given a medal for "stimulating the economy."

The refusal of some European countries, such as France, to tackle their high debt level and lack of competitiveness, is now also affecting the non-eurozone.

The headquarters of the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. (Image source: Flickr/Solvency II Wire)

Europe now wants the rest of the world to foot the bill for its own economic mismanagement.

Suppose a family can no longer pay its debts and dad decides to solve the problem by going down to the cellar and printing extra money. Society would not approve. Printing money is a form a robbery, stealing from everyone else by diluting the value of their financial assets.

Last week, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank [ECB], announced that in the coming months the ECB is going to pump an additional €1.1 trillion into the economy, at a rate of €60bn a month. When dad does it, it is called "counterfeiting," but when Mr. Draghi does it, it is called "quantitative easing" and one euphemistically speaks of a "stimulus package for the Eurozone." Every criminal printing money can now argue in court that, rather than a jail sentence, he should be given a medal and a reward for stimulating the economy.

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Europe's Civil War: The Politics of Separateness

by Saba E. Demian  •  January 25, 2015 at 5:00 am

The politics of separateness -- whether churning up racial divisions in America or separating Muslims in Europe from their non-Muslim neighbors -- is now a big business.

Europe is in the middle if a civil war, for the grand prize of the dominance of the few over the many. Even presuming that the majority of Muslims in Europe wish to adapt and blend in with the "natives," they are hampered by the violent minority.

The militant minority are a power to be reckoned with, because the prize they offer is so temptingly salacious to youths with still-confused emotional needs. The guiding and funding sources are mostly away from the scene of the fray. If these sources could be dried up, there would be more hope for a peaceful resolution.

Captivating tax incentives for economic growth and upward mobility might also, in addition to addressing the economic malaise in disadvantaged areas, begin to revive at least some of the economies of Europe.

If Europeans practice delusional denials, they are surely marching toward defeat.

The Dutch-Turkish jihadist known as Yilmaz, who left the Netherlands to fight in Syria, has proven adept at the use of social media in Dutch, English and Turkish for jihadist "public relations" and recruitment.

Who captains this continent nowadays? Is it the richest, Germany, or is it the UK, which only linked itself geographically, belatedly, by the building a rail route under the English Channel? France insists on having its own path regardless.

The European countries cannot be lumped together. The countries of the European Union [EU] are not culturally homogeneous. The Euro-Zone countries are economically separated from those outside this zone. Members of NATO -- even the expanded NATO -- are viewed differently militarily than those outside the organization. There are also, of course, distinct differences between the Eastern countries of the former USSR and its satellites, and Western democracies; between monarchies and republics; between Catholics and Protestants; between Muslim Europe (e.g. Albania, European side of Turkey, parts of Bulgaria and Bosnia-Herzegovina) and Christian Europe.

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The Significance of President El-Sisi's Greetings

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  January 25, 2015 at 4:00 am

"Yes, a humanistic and civilizing message should once more emanate from Egypt. That is why we must not call ourselves anything other than 'Egyptians.' This is what we must be -- Egyptians, just Egyptians, Egyptians indeed! I just want to tell you that -- Allah willing -- we shall build our nation together, accommodate make room for each other, and we shall like each other, love each other, love each other in earnest so that people may see." — Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt, addressing Egypt's Christian Copts.

Egyptian President el-Sisi did the unprecedented and congratulated Egypt's Christian minority in their cathedral – a small but courageous step on the long road of what el-Sisi calls Egypt's "religious revolution."

Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi became visits the St. Mark Cathedral during Coptic Christmas Eve Mass. (Image source: YouTube video screenshot)

On January 6, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi became the first Egyptian president ever to visit the St. Mark Cathedral during Coptic Christmas Eve Mass and offer his good wishes to the nation's Christian minority.

Because Islamic law bans wishing non-Muslims well on their religious celebrations, all previous presidents -- Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak, and of course Morsi -- had never attended Coptic Christmas mass.

As expected, the greetings el-Sisi received from the hundreds of Christians present were jubilant. His address was often interrupted by applause, clapping, and cheers of "We love you!" and "Hand in hand" -- phrases he reciprocated. He said, among other things:

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Norway: The People's Revolution vs. The "Religion of Peace"

by Bjorn Jansen  •  January 24, 2015 at 5:00 am

In Norway's educational system, history is not a valued subject. It is included under either "Social Studies" or "Norwegian." Many Norwegians are therefore unaware how their society and democracy were formed, or of the enormous prices paid to attain them. Recent generations seem to take them for granted.

Norway's education system is also permeated with an idealistic vision of equality and a belief in cultural relativism: that everyone, every culture and every religion are of the same value. Schools and even preschools are obliged to work to wipe out class differences. The majority of teachers are idealists who believe in the idealism they are obliged to preach. Islam is presented in schoolbooks as "just another religion" -- attractive, and portrayed as if has already been reformed, a situation just not the case.

There are no debate clubs in Norway. The result is a pressure for consensus of views and thoughts. To express an opinion that runs against the stream can be associated with "being difficult," "argumentative" and that what you think is "wrong," with unpleasant overtones of "you are wrongly programmed."

The media refuses even to look at Islam's doctrines. Rather than investigate Islam for themselves, politicians in Norway put their blind faith in what the imams and the Islamic Council of Norway say is Islam. If the media and the politicians admit there is a problem, they will be forced to retract their belief in multiculturalism and apologize.

How, then, does one express dissent in a country whose politicians and media are rooted in socialist thinking; where discussing religion is a no-go; where politics has replaced religion and where there is a small population ensuring conformity of thought, with the risk of being sanctioned for expressing other thoughts?

Left, the World Islamic Mission mosque in Oslo. Right: Sitting in front of the black flag of jihad is Ubaydullah Hussain, a well known Islamist in Norway who was convicted of hate speech against Jews and threatening journalists.

It seems that most people in Europe -- in the wake of the Paris massacres at the magazine Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket -- have either forgotten, or never been taught, that Muslims have invaded Europe several times before. In the Eighth Century, the Moors (Muslims from North Africa) succeeded in conquering Spain and the early medieval French King, Charles Martel, fought and put a stop to the Moors' invasion of France. It took 800 years to expel Islam from Spain; the final expulsion of the Moors from Andalusia occurred 1492. Later, the Ottomans made it to the gates of Vienna in 1683. How has Islam's nature and history in Europe been forgotten?

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The Case Against the International Criminal Court Investigating Israel

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  January 23, 2015 at 11:45 am

In 2012, my friend and colleague, Luis Moreno Ocampo who was then the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court ruled correctly that "Palestine could not be recognized as a 'State'". He now appears to agree with his successor's conclusion that "Palestine could now join the Rome statute," presumably as a state. I respectfully disagree.

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