Latest Analysis and Commentary

Combating Anti-Israel Boycotts
The Underused Strategies

by Malcolm Lowe  •  July 7, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Most boycotters have no commitment to fairness and regard the idea with derision. Against them, one has to use tactics that fall under the rubric "this is going to hurt you more than us." Anti-boycott operations have used this approach sporadically with remarkable success. But the approach needs to be conceived more systematically and implemented far more widely.

  • Such strategies can be summarized under at least four headings: lawfare, counter-boycotts, digging up dirt and self-harming. On the other hand, some Israeli ministerial decisions inadvertently facilitate boycotts; this area, too, needs to be considered.

  • What nobody involved has noticed is that to get Israel's natural gas flowing to Europe may contribute more to combating BDS than everything else together. But that prospect has been deferred to the indefinite future.

Although efforts to boycott Israel have had some success in academia and in mainline Protestant churches, Western political leaders are mostly opposed. Martin Schulz (L), President of the European Parliament, says: "The EU has no intention to boycott Israel. I am of the conviction that what we need is more cooperation, not division." Sajid Javid (R), the British Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, says: "My department will be working hard to boost Anglo-Israeli trade and investment, and I as Business Secretary will do anything I can to support and promote it."

Recently, anxiety sprang up in Israel over anti-Israel boycotts. Ministers met, sessions were held at the Knesset, and commentators pontificated. Yet the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel is a decade old. Moreover, the excitement was provoked mainly by two high-profile incidents, the FIFA and Orange affairs, which were resolved in Israel's favour.

Nothing, in fact, has greatly changed in the overall situation. As before, some petty boycotts have succeeded, major boycotts have failed, and Israel's relations with the rest of the world continue to expand -- for now.

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Turkey's View of Terror

by Burak Bekdil  •  July 7, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • Turkey boldly challenged its Western allies to join them in a fight against terror. But the target was not al-Qaeda or ISIS. Instead, Turkey wanted the West to fight the "terrorist state, Israel."

  • One of Erdogan's favorite statements is his famous line, "There is no Islamic terror."

  • Why are these terrorists terrorizing? What is the ideology they are fighting for? Are they fighting to impose onto others by force the laws stipulated in Christian, Jewish, Hindu or Shintoist holy books? If their acts of terror are not related to Islam, what are they related to?

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (then prime minister) cries over the death of a teenage Egyptian Islamist activist during a televised interview in 2013. (Image source: Cihan video screenshot)

Turkey's Islamist government, now squeezed in a political drama in which it lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002, has in many recent years boldly challenged its Western allies by calling them to join an allied fight against terror. But the target was not al-Qaeda, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or one of the dozens of different Islamist groups designated by the civilized world as terrorist.

Instead, Turkey wanted the West to fight the "terrorist state, Israel."

Turkey's Islamist rulers have a deeply corrupted perception of which acts count for terror and which ones do not: Anyone who kills in the name of a cause other than Islamism is probably a terrorist.

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When Palestinians Die in Jail

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  July 6, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Like the mainstream media in the West, the UN chooses to look the other way when Palestinians torture or kill fellow Palestinians.

  • The Palestinian Authority and Hamas claim that the three men committed suicide.

  • When three detainees die in less than a week, this should sound an alarm. But pro-Palestinian groups and human rights activists do not care about the human rights of Palestinians if Israel cannot be held responsible. Their obsession with Israel has made them blind to the plight of Palestinians living under the Palestinian Authority.

The Palestinian Authority police on parade, January 2015.

Three Palestinian men were found dead in their jail cells in the West Bank and Gaza Strip this past week.

But their stories did not attract the attention of the international media or human rights organizations in the U.S. and Europe. Nor was their case brought to the attention of the United Nations or the International Criminal Court (ICC).

By contrast, the case of 17-year-old Mohamed Kasba, who was shot dead north of Jerusalem by an Israeli army officer as he attacked the officer's car with stones, received widespread coverage in the Western media.

The UN even rushed to condemn the killing of Kasba, and called for an "immediate end" to violence and for everyone to keep calm. "This reaffirms the need for a political process aiming to establish two states living beside each other safely and peacefully," said UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Maldenov.

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Britain's Political Extremists

by Samuel Westrop  •  July 6, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn is running for leadership of Britain's Labour Party, with the support of George Galloway.

  • In 2012, Corbyn agreed to speak at a Ramadan celebration with Abdur Raheem Green, a Salafist preacher who has spoken of a "Yehudi [Jewish] ... stench." In addition, Green encourages men to hit their wives to "bring them to goodness," and has called for the killing of homosexuals and adulterers.

In 2009, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn (left) said: "It will be my pleasure and my honour to host an event in Parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking. I also invited friends from Hamas to come and speak as well." London mayoral candidate George Galloway (center) is pictured embracing Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (right) in Gaza.

In the wake of Britain's general election, candidates with ties to anti-Semitic extremists and terror groups are standing for important political positions.

In May, George Galloway declared that he was vying to become Mayor of London. Those concerned with Galloway's work with the Syrian and Iranian regimes expressed dismay at the news.

Now, a month later, the Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn is running for leadership of Britain's Labour Party, with the support of George Galloway.

In 2010, Britain's media watchdog, OFCOM, censured Galloway and Corbyn, after Corbyn appeared on Galloway's television program -- broadcast by the Iranian regime's channel, Press TV. OFCOM ruled that Galloway's description of Israel as a "terrorist gangster...miscreant, law breaking, rogue, war launching, occupying state," and Corbyn's call for economic sanctions against the world's only Jewish state, "did not show due impartiality."

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Turkey Prefers Islamic State to Kurdish State

by Uzay Bulut  •  July 5, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • ISIS terrorists have been attacking Kurds in an attempt to rape their women, sell them on slave markets and annihilate them. This is what happens when Kurds get caught unprepared or cannot fight back. And this is why the demands that the West arm the Kurds directly, and recognize Kurdish self-rule within secure and defensible boundaries, are a matter of life and death.

  • It would be much better if the states ruling over the Kurds would willingly recognize Kurdish rights without shedding any blood, but that is not how the states in this region operate.

Kurdish women make up a large proportion of the YPG militia fighters who are battling ISIS on the front lines in Syrian Kurdistan. (Image source: Mirava News video screenshot)

On June 16, Kurdish fighters in Syrian Kurdistan captured the town of Tel Abyad from the Islamic State (ISIS). The Kurdish victory in Tel Abyad prevents ISIS from having a direct route for importing fighters and supplies, and puts serious pressure on Raqqa, the de facto "capital" of the Islamic State.

As Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, noted, the capture of Tel Abyad was "the biggest setback to ISIS since it announced its caliphate one year ago."

Although this success by the Kurds must have been welcomed by people horrified at such a genocidal terrorist group, Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish state in the region. "I am addressing the whole world," he said: "We will never allow a state to be formed in northern Syria, south of our border."

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UK: Politicians Urge Ban on the Term "Islamic State"

by Soeren Kern  •  July 4, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • "If we deny any connection between terrorism and religion, then we are saying there is no problem in any of the mosques; that there is nothing in the religious texts that is capable of being twisted or misunderstood; that there are no religious leaders whipping up hatred of the West, no perverting of religious belief for political ends." — Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.

  • "O Muslims, Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war... Mohammed was ordered to wage war until Allah is worshipped alone... He himself left to fight and took part in dozens of battles. He never for a day grew tired of war. — Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State.

  • While Western politicians claim that the Islamic State is not Islamic, millions of Muslims around the world — referring to what is approved in the Islamic texts — believe that it is.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) says of the Islamic State, "Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters." Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (R), leader of the Islamic State, say, "Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war. Your Prophet (peace be upon him) was dispatched with the sword as a mercy to the creation."

The BBC has rejected demands by British lawmakers to stop using the term "Islamic State" when referring to the jihadist group that is carving out a self-declared Caliphate in the Middle East.

Lord Hall of Birkenhead, the BBC's director general, said that the proposed alternative, "Daesh," is pejorative and using it would be unfair to the Islamic State, thereby casting doubt upon the BBC's impartiality.

Prime Minister David Cameron recently joined the growing chorus of British politicians who argue that the name "Islamic State" is offensive to Muslims and should be banned from the English vocabulary.

During an interview with BBC Radio 4's "Today" program on June 29 — just days after a jihadist with links to the Islamic State killed 38 people (including 30 Britons) at a beach resort in Tunisia — Cameron rebuked veteran presenter John Humphrys for referring to the Islamic State by its name.

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Who Is Damaging Relations Between Arabs and Jews?

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  July 3, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Some Arab Knesset (parliament) members have devoted much of their time and efforts to helping the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- who have their own leaders, spokesmen, representatives -- at the expense of their own constituents in Israel.

  • How does joining a flotilla to the Gaza Strip solve any problems facing Arab Israelis, such as unemployment and poverty? It is also a betrayal of the Arab voters who sent them to the Knesset to fight for more public funds and services for the Arabs in Israel.

  • Would the two Knesset members be willing to risk their lives for the people who voted for them? It was hard to find Arab Israelis who saw anything positive in Ghattas's decision to sail aboard a ship to the Gaza Strip. In fact, many did not hesitate privately to criticize the decision.

  • It is time for Arab Israelis to endorse a new approach toward their state, and distance themselves from representatives who act against their interests and damage relations between Jews and Arabs.

  • If some Knesset members wish to devote their time and energy to helping the Palestinians, they should consider moving to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Otherwise, they need to start addressing the problems facing their constituents and refrain from causing further damage to Arab-Jewish relations.

Haneen Zoabi (L) and Basel Ghattas (R), Arab members of Israel's parliament, both participated in flotillas attempting to break Israel's legal naval blockade of the Gaza strip.

Once again, it is time to remind the representatives of the Arab citizens of Israel in the Knesset (parliament) who their real constituents are.

It is time to remind these representatives that they were elected by Arab citizens of Israel, and not by Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The reason why the Arab Knesset members need to be reminded of who their real constituents are is because some of them seem to have forgotten that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have their own leaders, spokesmen and representatives.

In recent years, some of the Arab Knesset members have devoted much of their time and efforts to helping the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, at the expense of their own constituents in Israel.

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Palestinians: More Missed Opportunities

by Bassam Tawil  •  July 2, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • It was Palestinian who hurt themselves: When Israelis were not able to hire Palestinian workers, they simply turned to foreign workers, prefabricated construction and other industrial innovations.

  • If the boycott of goods made in the settlements is successful, thousands, if not tens of thousands of Palestinians will find themselves unemployed, hungry, and ripe for radicalization.

  • The world will never give up its computing, medical, agricultural and start-up products for us. The Israelis will continue to prosper. They have already found other markets.

  • Mahmoud Abbas is afraid of Hamas and afraid to enter the Gaza Strip. As a result of rumors that Hamas was working privately to reach a cease-fire agreement with Israel, Abbas is threatening to dissolve the national unity government.

Let's agree not to try to kill each other...
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) shakes hands with Hamas's leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, during negotiations in 2007 for a short-lived unity government. (Image source: Palestinian Press Office)

We Palestinians continue to miss one opportunity after the other. Now, we are about to miss yet another opportunity for peace.

The geographic and political reality of the Middle East does not smile on the Palestinians. The countries that, until the Arab Spring, exerted the most pressure on Israel to negotiate with us have become weak. Some of them are disintegrating and others, in this world of strange bedfellows, consider the Israelis partners in the struggle against their common enemy, Iran.

Our Arab brothers now consider us a nuisance, marginal to their struggle to survive in the face of the threats from the Ayatollahs' increasing nuclear power in Iran and radical Islamists such as ISIS.

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Extremism and Censorship

by Samuel Westrop  •  July 1, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • There are obvious shortcomings in the British government's demand that all "beliefs" deserve "mutual respect." While it is important in a free society to tolerate beliefs we dislike, we should not be required to "respect" them.

  • If the government would stop funding and backing religious separatism, and start using existing laws to prosecute preachers who incite violence and promote terrorism, these measures would go a long way to preventing extremists from operating with impunity. Censorship, on the other hand, will harm everyone.

Islamic preacher Abu Usamah at-Thahabi of Birmingham, England: "Take that homosexual man... and throw him off the mountain. If I were to call homosexuals perverted, dirty, filthy dogs who should be murdered, that's my freedom of speech, isn't it." The Racial and Religious Hatred Act and various Public Order Acts prohibit incitement to violence, but, despite advocating murder, Thahabi has never been charged. (Image source: Green Lane Mosque video screenshot)

On May 27, a few weeks after the elections, Queen Elizabeth II addressed the British parliament with a speech that laid out a number of important proposed bills, including changes to immigration and the welfare system; a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union, and, most importantly, a series of new measures to tackle Islamic extremism.

The "Extremism Bill," the government has announced, will "unite our country and keep you and your family safe by tackling all forms of extremism." It will also "combat groups and individuals who reject our values and promote messages of hate."

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Turkey's Wrong Bet on Syria

by Burak Bekdil  •  July 1, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • Today, instead of the free movement of labor and capital, there is, around the border area, the free movement of bombs and bullets.

  • Ankara considers the real security threat from Syria as not the jihadists, but the secular Kurds who fight the jihadists.

  • Turkey has worked so hard to create a "Peshawar" (Afghanistan) across its border with Syria -- hoping instead to create a Muslim Brotherhood zone.

Hundred of Syrian Kurds gathered along the border with Turkey in the hope of crossing over, as Kurdish militias battled ISIS in nearby Tel Abyad, June 13, 2015. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)

It was supposed to be Turkish gambit: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's days in power were numbered; the Nusayri (Alawite) man would be toppled by Syria's Sunni majority in a popular revolt. The Sunni majority would set up in Damascus a Muslim Brotherhood type of regime that would be subservient to Ankara, and Turkey's southern border with Syria would be now be a borderless Sunni "Schengen" zone; cross border trade would flourish with the free movement of labor and capital. Peace would prevail along the 900-km border, and Turkish and Syrian Sunni supremacists would advance their agenda in the not-always-so-Sunni lands of the Middle East.

Today, instead of the free movement of labor and capital, there is, around the border area, the free movement of bombs and bullets. Turkey's miscalculated foreign policy on Syria has led to the creation of a neighboring Peshawar (Afghanistan) across its border.

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Palestinians: Why Salam Fayyad Lacks Popular Support

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

  • It is no secret that several senior Palestinian officials see themselves as potential successors to Abbas. Like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, Abbas has stubbornly refused to share power with anyone. And like Arafat, he continues to run the Palestinian Authority as if it were his private fiefdom.

  • In Palestinian culture, it is more important if one graduates from an Israeli prison than from the University of Texas in Austin. A Palestinian who carries out an attack on Israel has more credentials among his people than one who studied at Harvard or Oxford universities.

  • It took Salam Fayyad too long to realize that no matter how many good things he does for his people, in the end he will be judged on the basis of his contribution to the fight against Israel, and not how much humanitarian and financial aid he provides.

Former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, pictured on January 25, 2013 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. (Image source: World Economic Forum)

In a surprise move, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has frozen the bank account of a non-profit organization headed by former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

The decision is seen in the context of PA President Mahmoud Abbas's effort to undermine and discredit Fayyad. Abbas believes that Fayyad, who resigned in 2013, is seeking to replace or succeed him as president.

Following his resignation, the US-educated Fayyad established a Ramallah-based group called Future For Palestine. According to Fayyad, the group's mission is to "enhance the resilience of Palestinian citizens in their homeland, especially in marginalized and severely impacted areas, by providing the basic development requirements."

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership did not like the idea from the beginning. Ever since Future For Palestine was established in August 2013, they have been working toward undermining the group and its founder, Fayyad.

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The Strategic Consequences of "Grexit"

by Peter Martino  •  June 29, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • Last January, ISIS revealed that it is smuggling terrorists into Europe by hiding them among the immigrants leaving Turkey.

  • "If Europe leaves us in the crisis, we will flood it with immigrants, and it will be even worse for Berlin if in that wave... there will be some jihadists of the Islamic State, too." — Panos Kammenos, Defense Minister of Greece

  • Greece is a member of NATO. The whole world witnessed how the Defense Minister of one NATO country was threatening other NATO members with unleashing Islamic terrorists on them.

  • A Greek exit will lead to a power vacuum in the southeastern corner of Europe, which Russia (and China) will be only too eager to fill. The Chinese are currently negotiating with the Greek government to acquire an even larger part of the port of Piraeus.

Across Greece, people have been lining up to withdraw money from cash machines, most of which have run out of money, after the government ordered banks to close for six days starting Monday. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)

Last weekend, Greece failed to reach an agreement with its three creditors, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. A bankruptcy of the Hellenic Republic is now imminent. If it materializes, a so-called Grexit will follow: Greece will be forced to leave the Eurozone -- the group of 19 European Union (EU) member states that use the euro as their common currency. Leaving the Eurozone automatically means that, under the EU treaties, Greece will also have to leave the EU.

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UK: Belfast Pastor Faces Prison for "Grossly Offending" Islam

by Soeren Kern  •  June 28, 2015 at 5:00 am

  • James McConnell's prosecution is one of a growing number of examples in which British authorities — who routinely ignore incendiary speech by Muslim extremists — are using hate speech laws to silence Christians.

  • "My church funds medical care for 1,200 Muslim children in Kenya and Ethiopia. I've no hatred in my heart for Muslims... I believe in freedom of speech. I'm going to keep on preaching the gospel. I have nothing against Muslims, I have never hated Muslims, I have never hated anyone. But I am against what Muslims believe. They have the right to say what they believe in and I have a right to say what I believe." — James McConnell, Pastor.

  • "Since the Islamic State took over, it [Mosul] has become the most peaceful city in the world." — Raied Al-Wazzan, Executive Director, Belfast Islamic Center. Al-Wazzan is now trying to leverage the controversy over McConnell's remarks to shame local politicians into providing him with free public land to build a mega-mosque.

Pastor James McConnell of Belfast: "I have no regrets about what I said. I do not hate Muslims, but I denounce Islam as a doctrine and I make no apologies for that. I will be pleading 'not guilty' when I stand in the dock in August."

An evangelical Christian pastor in Northern Ireland is being prosecuted for making "grossly offensive" remarks about Islam.

James McConnell, 78, is facing up to six months in prison for delivering a sermon in which he described Islam as "heathen" and "satanic." The message was streamed live on the Internet, and a Muslim group called the police to complain.

According to Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service (PPS), McConnell violated the 2003 Communications Act by "sending, or causing to be sent, by means of a public electronic communications network, a message or other matter that was grossly offensive."

Observers say that McConnell's prosecution is one of a growing number of examples in which British authorities — who routinely ignore incendiary speech by Muslim extremists — are using hate speech laws to silence Christians.

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Turkey and Israel: Starting Over?

by Burak Bekdil  •  June 28, 2015 at 4:00 am

  • Sinirlioglu, a career diplomat, happens to be one of President Erdogan's most senior confidantes -- a smart diplomat with no Islamist sentiments.

  • If the terribly destroyed fences between Ankara and Jerusalem are to be mended, this is a good time to start the work.

The Israeli press last week reported that Israel's Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold (R) held a secret meeting in Rome with Turkey's top career diplomat, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu (L).

For Turkey's Islamist government, breaking up with Israel, a credible regional ally until 2009, was a calculated move. Then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's famous Davos tirade against Israel's then President Shimon Peres was the beginning of Turkey's willing road accident with the Jewish state: a systematic campaign based on anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric and action that would capture votes at home and help Turkey powerfully emerge with its neo-Ottoman ambitions on the Arab Street. It did, leaving no appetite in Ankara for détente -- at least, until June 7, 2015.

When the Turks went to the ballot box on June 7, they did not know that the way they voted would not only deprive the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), of its parliamentary majority for the first time since 2002, but that it could also forcefully remind the government that it might be about time to revise its nearly bankrupt foreign policy, including relations with Israel.

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Who is Responsible for the Atrocities in the Muslim World?

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

  • If colonialism were the main problem, Muslims, too, still are, colonizers -- and not particularly "humanitarian" ones, at that.

  • Islamic jihad and Islamic violence; the sanctioning of sex slavery; dehumanization of women; hatred and persecution of non-Muslims have been commonplace in the Islamic world ever since the inception of the religion. Deny everything and blame "the infidel."

  • But is it America that tells these men to treat their wives or sisters as less than fully human? If we want to criticize the West for what is going on in the Muslim world, we should criticize it for not doing more to stop these atrocities.

  • Trying to whitewash the damage that the Islamic ideology has done to the Muslim world, while putting the blame of Islamic atrocities on the West, will never help Muslims face their own failures and come up with progressive ways to resolve them.

The family of a Nepalese migrant worker, who died in Qatar, prepares to bury him. Nepalese laborers in Qatar are forced to work in dangerous conditions, and die at the rate of one every two days. (Image source: Guardian video screenshot)

Every time the ISIS, Boko Haram, Iran, or any terrorist group in the Muslim world is discussed, many people tend to hold the West responsible for the devastation and murders they commit. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Blaming the failures in the Muslim world on Western nations is simply bigotry and an attempt to shift the blame and to prevent us from understanding the real root cause of the problem.

When these Islamic terrorist groups abduct women to sell them as sex-slaves or "wives;" conduct mass crucifixions and forced conversions; behead innocent people en masse; try to extinguish religious minorities and demolish irreplaceable archeological sites, the idea that this is the fault of the West is ludicrous, offensive and wrong.

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