Latest Analysis and Commentary

Bishop Graham Tomlin and the Demonization of Israel

by Denis MacEoin  •  June 24, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • If Israel plays a part in the persecution of Christians, it must be doing a very bad job indeed.

  • "Shortly after the [1967] war, [Israeli Defense Minister] Dayan met with officials of the Muslim Wakf, who governed the holy site, and formally returned the Mount to their control.... the Wakf would determine who prayed at the site, an arrangement that would effectively bar non-Muslim prayer." — Yossi Klein Halevi, The Atlantic.

  • It should be clear from the above that Israel is one of the least likely countries in the world to persecute the followers of any religion. A well-educated and thinking man, Bishop Tomlin ought to have known this or have been able to check the facts for himself. None of the above is remotely secret.

  • "[A]re the world Christian bodies denouncing the Islamic forces for the ethnic cleansing, genocide and historic demographic-religious revolution their brethren are suffering? No. Christians these days are busy targeting the Israeli Jews." — Giulio Meotti, Italian journalist.

Protected by Israel's freedom of religion, Baha'is have built their two holiest shrines in Israel, and on the slopes of Mount Carmel their World Center (pictured): vast terraced gardens and white marble buildings, including the seat of their international governing body, the Universal House of Justice, and central archives. (Image source: US Embassy Israel/Wikimedia Commons)

Anglican Bishop Graham Tomlin, heads the diocese of Kensington in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which has many of London's most expensive residential properties, is undoubtedly a man of brains and good works.[1]

On May 26, 2018, however, he published in The Times an article, entitled, "If this rich vein of wisdom disappears, a part of us dies". The "rich vein of wisdom" to which he refers is the long tradition of Christian thought and experience in the region where the religion first appeared, and was handed down through centuries of Islamic rule. For the most part, the article is a well-argued defence of Christians in the Middle East:

The systematic persecution of Christians in the Middle East is a serious threat. The number of Christians in Middle Eastern countries has fallen from about 20 per cent to 4 per cent in recent years and regular bomb attacks on Christians in Egypt are becoming part of a deadly pattern.

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Iraq: The Banker, the Mullah, the Militia and the Cook

by Amir Taheri  •  June 24, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • The young technocrats around Muqtada al-Sadr get their ideas, especially on economics, more from Milton Friedman's texts than Muhamad-Baqir al-Sadr's "Our Economy".

  • The next step should be to also accept ideological and political diversity. I believe that in the past 15 years, Iraq has made significant progress in that direction.

  • In a system of down-to-earth politics, Iraq would be liberated from utopian illusions that have caused it so much tragedy, and focus on bread-and-butter issues closer to the concerns of both our banker friend and his cook.

Iraq's parliament in session, March 26, 2016. (Image source: World Bank/Flickr)

"How is Iraq?" we asked a friend just back from Baghdad the other day.

"Bad, very bad, my friend," was the reply. "Even my cook has an opinion about how to form the new government."

The Iraqi friend is a prominent banker who spent his youth in exile in the West and returned home only after the fall of Saddam Hussein. However, he seems to have retained the traditional mindset of many of us Middle Easterners, who see ourselves as victims of despotism and yet fear any system in which even the cook has an opinion.

To be fair to our friend, the current political scene in Baghdad isn't exactly reassuring. The general election failed to produce an outright majority and the formation of a new government could take weeks if not months.

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Spain: Ground Zero for Europe's Anti-Israel Movement

by Soeren Kern  •  June 23, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The proliferating anti-Israel activism, driven by the rise to power of the political far-left, is establishing Spain as the EU member state most hostile towards the Jewish state.

  • A Madrid-based organization, Action and Communication on the Middle East (ACOM), which is fighting the anti-Israel BDS movement in Spain, said that Valencia's motion was anti-Semitic and an incitement to hatred.

  • "The BDS movement in Spain acquired its current virulence with the emergence of Podemos, a 'Chavist' far-left party financed by Venezuela and Iran.... As Podemos gained control of the municipal governments in the main Spanish cities, the anti-Israel movement had access to multiple economic, human and organizational resources.... Podemos has driven over 90 such declarations in Spain in jurisdictions covering a population of over eight million people" — Ángel Más, president, ACOM.

The city of Valencia, Spain has approved a motion to boycott Israel and slander it by declaring the city an "Israeli apartheid-free zone." (Image source: Ben Bender/Wikimedia Commons)

Valencia, the third-largest city in Spain, has approved a motion to boycott Israel and slander it by declaring the city an "Israeli apartheid-free zone." The move comes days after Navarra, one of Spain's 17 autonomous communities, announced a similar measure. In all, more than 50 Spanish cities and regions have passed motions condemning Israel. The proliferating anti-Israel activism, driven by the rise to power of the political far-left, is establishing Spain as the EU member state most hostile towards the Jewish state.

The Valencian measure, introduced by the far-left party València en Comú, was approved during a plenary session of the city council on May 31. The motion, which commits the city to refrain from engaging in business contacts or cultural events with Israeli authorities or companies, aims at establishing Valencia as "a global reference for solidarity with the Palestinians."

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Germany's Migrant Policy: Why Trump was Right

by Vijeta Uniyal  •  June 22, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • According to the narrative peddled by the mainstream media, after a series of horrendous migrant crimes and string of deadly terrorist attacks perpetrated by newly-arrived Muslim migrants, towns and cities across Germany were reverting to some sort of idyllic harmony.

  • According to Germany's 2017 crime statistics, more than 1,100 foreigners were charged with murder or manslaughter, as opposed to around 1,500 suspects holding German passports. Given that Germany was home to roughly 10 million foreigners as opposed to 70 million German nationals, these are staggering numbers.

  • "The number of homicides rose by 3.2%" and "the number of sexual assaults had risen as well," the Süddeutsche Zeitung disclosed, while correctly maintaining that the crime report showed an overall drop of 9.6%.

US President Donald Trump attacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel's migrant policy on June 18, writing, "Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!" Pictured: Trump and Merkel meet in Washington, DC, on April 27, 2018. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump attacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel's migrant policy this week. The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition," he tweeted on June 18. "Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!" he added.

President Trump's comments come at a time when Merkel is facing the biggest crisis of her career. She is struggling to hold her government together, with the Bavarian Catholic party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), threatening to leave the governing coalition over immigration. The CSU wants the police to have the authority to turn away illegal migrants at the border, a move bitterly opposed by Merkel.

While Trump slammed Merkel's handling of the migrant crisis during his presidential campaign, until now, he has refrained from publicly criticizing her over the issue.

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Palestinians: How to Achieve a Better Life

by Bassam Tawil  •  June 21, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • "It's become safer to demonstrate against Israel than against Abbas or the Palestinian Authority. Israel is at least a country of law and order and they have human rights organizations and a powerful media and judicial system. We can only continue to dream of having something like what the Jews have." — Palestinian activist.

  • At the end of the day, Palestinians know that the power struggle between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas is not between good guys and bad guys, but between bad guys and bad guys. These bad guys are no different from other Arab dictatorships that enslave and kill their people. Anyone who thinks that Mahmoud Abbas is eager to go back to the Gaza Strip is living in a dream world.

  • If the Palestinians ever wish to seek a better life, the first thing they need to do is rid themselves of the "leaders" who have destroyed their lives.

Hundreds of Palestinian protesters took to the streets of Ramallah on June 13 to condemn the sanctions placed on the Gaza Strip by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. On instructions from Abbas, dozens of Palestinian policemen attacked the protesters with brute force, using clubs and tear gas. (Image source: Wattan video screenshot)

In the past two weeks, Palestinians received yet another reminder that they are living under undemocratic regimes that have less than no respect for public freedoms.

The regimes of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip never miss an opportunity to remind their people of the dire consequences that await anyone who speaks out against the leaders. The two Palestinian regimes have been forcing it down the throats of their people for many years.

Still, some Palestinians seem surprised each time the PA or Hamas send their police officers to break up (or, more precisely, to break bones in) a demonstration in Ramallah or the Gaza Strip.

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A Canadian U-Turn on Iran?

by Tom Quiggin  •  June 21, 2018 at 4:30 am

  • Most alarming to the U.S. has been Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's position on Iran, where the regime seems to want to increase its influence in Canada due to its proximity to the U.S. Trudeau has been enabling this penetration.

  • The discord between Canada and the U.S. was evident on a series of matters related to the North American Free Trade Agreement, but what went on behind the scenes was far more critical.

  • As long as leaders in the West who hold such views remain in power, Canada will be on the watchlist of those who oppose the spread of Islamic extremism and theocratic dictatorships. Canada may well be living through its highest-risk moment since World War II.

Pictured: U.S. President Donald Trump and Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau converse at the G7 Summit, on June 8, 2018 in La Malbaie, Canada. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

On June 12, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau led the Liberal Party in supporting a Conservative Party motion condemning "the current regime in Iran for its ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world, including instigating violent attacks on the Gaza border." It also called for designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.

Trudeau's vote marked a sudden, unprecedented U-turn from more than 10 years of his personal and very public support for pro-Islamist causes and Iran, beginning in 2008 when he entered the parliament.

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Why Democracies Should Support Tough U.S. Iran Policy

by Jagdish N. Singh  •  June 21, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • "On one level, Iran acts as a legitimate Westphalian state conducting traditional diplomacy... At the same time, it organizes and guides nonstate actors seeking regional hegemony based on jihadist principles: Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria; Hamas in Gaza; the Houthis in Yemen." — Henry Kissinger, 2015.

  • Last week came to light "... details about a second building at the Parchin site involved in high explosive work related to nuclear weapons in an explosive chamber. This building has not been visited by the IAEA... [There was also] direct evidence that the secret Fordow enrichment site was being built to make weapon-grade uranium." — David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security.

  • It is time for everyone to join the U.S. and President Trump in their efforts to prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from having the ways and means to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.

Pictured: A launch of an Iranian Emad missile -- a precision-guided, intermediate-range ballistic missile. (Image source: Tasnim/Wikimedia Commons)

President Donald Trump's May 8 announcement that the United States was withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and considering fresh sanctions on Iran is a step in the right direction toward defending the country against Iran's growing nuclear-weapons program and open aim to destroy both Israel and America.

In addition, last week came to light in testimony by the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright, that Iran had:

"... blueprints for the production of all the components of nuclear weapons, the location of planned nuclear weapons test sites, [and] details about a second building at the Parchin site involved in high explosive work related to nuclear weapons in an explosive chamber. This building has not been visited by the IAEA... [There was also] direct evidence that the secret Fordow enrichment site was being built to make weapon-grade uranium."

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Switzerland Welcomes Radicalization

by Judith Bergman  •  June 20, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • There are approximately 250 mosques in Switzerland, but the authorities do not know who finances them. By rejecting the proposal compelling mosques to disclose who finances them, the Swiss authorities can now remain willfully blind.

  • The Muslim World League is behind "a whole network of radically-oriented mosques in Switzerland... with the clear intention of spreading Salafist thought here". — Saïda Keller-Messahli, expert on Islam in Switzerland.

  • Above all, the Swiss government seems not to have considered the rights of Swiss non-Muslim citizens, who are the ones left to live with the consequences of the government's ill-thought-out policies.

(Switzerland photo by Monk/Wikimedia Commons)

Switzerland has just rejected a proposed law preventing mosques from accepting money from abroad, and compelling them to declare where their financial backing comes from and for what purpose the money will be used. According to the proposal, imams also would have been obliged to preach in one of the Swiss national languages.

While the proposal narrowly passed in the lower house of parliament already in September 2017, the upper house recently rejected it. The proposal was modeled on regulations in Austria, where already in 2015, a law banning foreign funding of religious groups was passed. The Austrian law aims to counter extremism by requiring imams to speak German, prohibiting foreign funding for mosques, imams and Muslim organizations in Austria, and stressing the precedence of Austrian law over Islamic sharia law for Muslims living in the country.

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Turkey: Erdogan's "Holy War" Obsession

by Burak Bekdil  •  June 20, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • When non-Muslims deny Muslim minorities the rights that Muslim-majority countries systematically deny non-Muslim minorities, extremist Muslims in Turkey seem to have the habit of threatening non-Muslim lands with holy war.

  • President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who spoke of "a war between the cross and the crescent" because the Austrian government closed down seven mosques, does not seem to bother with any of those visible, documented cases of religious discrimination against non-Muslims and against Islam's minority sects.

  • Muslim leaders complain of travel bans on some Muslim nations, but many Muslim countries have travel bans against other Muslims in addition to banning Israelis.

American Pastor Andrew Brunson, pictured with his wife Norine, has been in a Turkish jail for more than a year and a half on spurious charges of terrorism and espionage. He faces up to 35 years in prison.

When non-Muslims deny Muslim minorities the rights that Muslim-majority countries systematically deny non-Muslim minorities, extremist Muslims in Turkey seem to have the habit of threatening non-Muslim lands with holy war.

"Soon religious wars will break out in Europe. You are taking Europe toward an abyss. That's the way it's going," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, predicted in a 2017 speech. The minister was angry with the European states that had banned Turkish Islamist political shows in their territories.

On June 10, Erdoğan said: "These measures taken by the Austrian prime minister are, I fear, leading the world toward a war between the cross and the crescent."

So, once again, we are hearing promises of holy war, and an angry Islamist threatening a Christian state because a Christian state had decided to close down seven mosques and expel some 60 Turkish-funded imams as part of a crackdown on extremist Islam.

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Post-Ramadan Reflections on the Muslim World

by Salim Mansur  •  June 19, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Muslims, in effect, are trapped in a state of bewilderment over how to repair their broken cultures, or how to build them anew -- when they are full of doubts about what is new, what is modern and what has been built by others belonging to a different faith and culture.

  • Muslims in general are a "third world" people whose understanding and practice of Islam remain fixed in their pre-modern cultures. To many Muslims, due to their pre-modern worldview, this paradox is mostly incomprehensible. It is also hugely obstructive in easing their transition to modernity.

  • The fury of the internal upheaval inside the Muslim world will eventually exhaust itself when a sufficiently large segment of the Muslim population reconciles reason and revelation to discover that God never meant any religion, including Islam, to be a burden preventing man from threading a relationship with Him in harmony with human nature. Embracing modernity does not mean abandoning God.

In Baghdad, the Arab capital of the Abbasid rulers as Caliphs of Islam during the early Middle Ages, inquiry and debate took place about revelation and reason. Pictured: An image from an Abbasid manuscript, produced in the year 1237. (Image source: Académie de Reims/Wikimedia Commons)

As Ramadan drew to a close this year, the spectacle of a contrived Muslim rage on the last Friday of Islam's sacred month -- branded "Al- Qud's [Jerusalem] Day" by Iran's late leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – was on display across the Muslim world and in the West.

The Qur'an, Islam's sacred text, calls upon Muslims to fast during Ramadan as part of prayers and quiet reflection "to ward off evil." Extremist Muslims, instead, call upon their co-religionists to display their rage against their real and imagined enemies, especially Jews. Most Muslims, however, steer away from such angry demonstrations, which degrade the meaning and purpose of their devotion to fasting and prayers during the month in which the Qur'an was first revealed to Muhammad.

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Turkey: Glorification of Murder, Martyrdom and Child Soldiers

by Uzay Bulut  •  June 19, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • The celebrations are not just about the glorification of guns and killing for national or religious purposes. The events are also marked by historic revisionism in which the genocide victims are blamed for their own extermination.

  • There are many factors that drive the hysteria in Turkey extolling deaths, killings and attempts to brainwash children and turn them into "voluntary martyrs": Systematic racism, ultra-nationalism, Islamic jihad and belief in martyrdom as well as the denial of the Christian genocide combined with pride in having waged it.

  • The 2015 "Islam Law" of Austria, which Erdogan was protesting, states that "The freedom of religion is secured in the Austrian Constitution – individually, collectively and cooperatively" -- and that this freedom should not be allowed to be exploited by those who incite hate or violence for any group.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned the Austrian government that "...measures taken by the Austrian chancellor are, I fear, leading the world towards a war between the cross and the crescent." (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz recently announced that the government was shutting down a Turkish nationalist mosque in Vienna and dissolving a group called the Arab Religious Community that runs six mosques, according to the Associated Press. "Parallel societies, political Islam and tendencies toward radicalization have no place in our country," Kurz told reporters.

"The move comes after images appeared on Twitter in April of children in a Turkish-backed mosque playing dead and reenacting the World War I battle of Gallipoli (in which an allied invasion of Ottoman Turkey was defeated). Their "corpses" were then covered in Turkish flags. The mosques association called the event 'highly regrettable,'" according to the CBN News.

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Palestinians: Victims of Arab Apartheid

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  June 18, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Tens of thousands of Palestinians are now living in a Lebanese ghetto called Ain Al-Hilweh, and the world seems to be fine with that.

  • No one cares when an Arab country mistreats and discriminates and kills Palestinians. But when something happens in the West Bank or Gaza Strip, the international media and community suddenly wake up. Why? Because they do not want to miss an opportunity to condemn Israel. One can only imagine the uproar in the world were Israel to pass a law denying Arabs jobs or the right to inherit property.

  • There are no protests on the streets of London or Paris. The UN Security Council has not -- and will not -- hold an emergency session to condemn Lebanon. Of course, the mainstream media in the West is not going to report about Arab apartheid and repressive measures against Palestinians. As for the leaders of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, they do not have time to address the problems of the camp residents. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are too busy fighting each other, and the last thing they have on their minds are the interests and well-being of their people.

A July 2015 street celebration in Lebanon's Ain al-Hilweh camp. (Image source: Geneva Call/Flickr)

Lebanon is one of several Arab countries where Palestinians are subjected to discriminatory and apartheid laws and measures. The plight of Palestinians in Arab countries, however, is apparently of no interest to the international community, pro-Palestinian activists and groups around the world.

Recently, the Lebanese authorities placed electronic screening gates at all entrances to Ain Al-Hilweh, the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon. The move has sparked a wave of protests in Ain Al-Hilweh and among Palestinians living in other refugee camps in Lebanon, who are describing the installation of the electronic gates as collective punishment.

Until a few years ago, Ain Al-Hilweh had a population of 75,000. However, with the influx of refugees from Syria, which began in 2011, the camp's population is now estimated at more than 160,000.

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Gaza Media Coverage: Snipers and Lies

by Ruthie Blum  •  June 18, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • "We will take down the border [with Israel] and we will tear their hearts from their bodies." — Yahya Sinwar, Hamas political leader.

  • "[W]hen we talk about 'peaceful resistance,' we are deceiving the public. This is a peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies, and enjoying tremendous popular support." — Mahmoud Al-Zahar, senior Hamas official, on Al Jazeera.

  • When a doctor in Gaza announced that a congenital heart defect was likely the cause of her death, the Gaza health ministry removed her name from the list of those killed in clashes with Israel, pending an autopsy.

  • "Hamas' goal is to have Israel kill as many Gazans as possible so that the headlines always begin, and often end, with the body count. Hamas deliberately sends women and children to the front line, while their own fighters hide behind these human shields." — Alan Dershowitz, Esq.

Razan al-Najjar, a 21-year-old Palestinian paramedic who was killed during a violent riot along the Gaza-Israel border, declared during a television interview at the scene of the riot that she was there to "act as a human shield" for the rioters. (Image source: IDF video screenshot)

On May 14, as United States officials ceremoniously relocated the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza -- many of them members of Hamas and Iran-linked Islamic Jihad, along with other residents paid to participate -- engaged in violent demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel border fence. Dubbed the "Great March of Return," these protests were launched on March 30 and timed to crescendo six weeks later, on the day of the U.S. Embassy move, which coincided with the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the state of Israel.

For weeks, rioters stormed the border, firing weapons and hurling Molotov cocktails and rocks at the Israeli soldiers who guard the area to prevent terrorist incursions into southern Israel.

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Europe: Ramadan Roundup, 2018

by Soeren Kern  •  June 17, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • In France, the government, which previously vowed to reduce foreign influences on the practice of Islam in the country, approved visas for 300 imams from Algeria and Morocco to lead Ramadan services in French mosques.

  • "Every message, no matter how poisonous the message is, should have the right to be expressed." — Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

  • "The Turkish minister of foreign affairs tried to teach me a lesson about my Islamic identity. It is going too far if a foreign state, which is far away, tries to teach the mayor of Rotterdam about Dutch law and how I should apply it." — Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

In London, Southwark Cathedral hosted an iftar dinner — a meal after sunset during the month of Ramadan — as part of the program of events to mark the anniversary of the London Bridge attack. (Garry Knight/Wikimedia Commons)

Muslims across Europe are marking the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, which in 2018 was observed between May 17 and June 15, in accordance with the Islamic lunar calendar.

Ramadan, a major topic for public discussion in Europe this year, received considerable media coverage, a reflection of Islam's rising influence.

Muslim leaders sought to leverage the media attention to showcase Ramadan — a time when Muslims abstain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset, to commemorate, according to Islamic tradition, the revelation of the Quran to Mohammed — as the peaceful nature of Islam in Europe.

European multiculturalists, normally strict enforcers of secularism when it comes to Christianity, made great efforts to draw up guidelines, issue instructions and carve out special privileges to ensure that Muslims were not offended by non-Muslims during the festival.

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Salute to Two Intellectual Giants: Bernard Lewis and Richard Pipes

by Lawrence A. Franklin  •  June 17, 2018 at 4:30 am

  • Richard Pipes heaped scorn on those who romanticized Russian revolutionaries, whom he viewed as mere Bolshevik thugs who raised funds through a string of bank robberies and blackmail plots.

  • Bernard Lewis had the intellectual courage to navigate the third rail of relations between the Islam and the West.

  • Let us hope that those whom Professor Lewis enlightened will be equal to the task of defeating the ongoing challenge of what many see as the third totalitarian wave of religious triumphalism, just as Professor Pipes was equal to the task in combating Soviet totalitarianism.

Bernard Lewis (left) and Richard Pipes. (Image sources: Lewis - Levan Ramishvili/Flickr; Pipes - Mariusz Kubik/Wikimedia Commons)

It is appropriate for all free men and women to honor two scholars who helped preserve Western Civilization from totalitarian aggression. Both became American by choice.

Sadly, both, one British, one Polish, died this May.

Bernard Lewis and Richard Pipes, both veterans of World War II, risked their lives against the modern world's first wave of authoritarianism, Nazi fascism. Their bold and far-sighted analyses of new threats to liberty were driven by the totalitarian ideologies of Soviet Communism and Islamic triumphalism, and received the expected condemnation from acolytes of these enfolding systems.

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