Latest Analysis and Commentary

An Iranian Dream: "Why Can't I Dance?"

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  August 18, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • To people in the West, it may seem impossible for dancing to become a crime. But as sharia laws get imposed, before you know it, any innocent act of "fun" can suddenly become a crime.

  • Maedeh Hojabri posted video clips of herself dancing on Instagram. For this "crime," the 19-year-old woman was arrested, jailed without due process and without an opportunity to defend herself, and publicly shamed with a televised confession of her "crime."

  • Who will the morality police come for next?

Maedeh Hojabri, shown in this Instagram video screenshot committing the "crime" of dancing. For this, she was arrested by the Iranian police, jailed without due process and publicly shamed.

A Muslim mother in the sharia-ruled country of Iran, was talking about her 10-year-old daughter: "She asked me, 'Why can't I dance? We dance because we are happy. How can being happy be wrong? Why is dancing a crime?'" She spoke about the confusion in her daughter's eyes. "It is a question I don't know how to answer."

Her daughter's life had changed, she said, when she heard that a 19-year-old woman named Maedeh Hojabri had become the target of Iran's Islamist "morality" police. Her crime? Posting video clips of herself dancing on popular worldwide social media sites, like Instagram. The consequences for an act like that are severe. As has happened to other young women who posted video clips of themselves dancing, Hojabri was arrested, jailed without due process and without an opportunity to defend herself, and publicly shamed with a televised confession of her "crime."

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Being Pro-Muslim in a Complicated World

by Denis MacEoin  •  August 17, 2018 at 5:30 am

  • No doubt those who ignore or cover up abuses such as beatings, female genital mutilation or general repression do so out of cultural sensitivity, deferring to traditionalist leaders and self-appointed representatives of various communities, including Muslim bodies. Their sensitivity, however, can end up gravely impairing the lives of literally hundreds of millions of Muslim women in allowing harmful practices to be perpetuated.

  • Genuine humanitarian concerns about injustice to Muslims, however, have been mingled with a political and religious attitude that condemns anyone who expresses even the mildest questioning of Islam -- so much so, in fact, that many well-intentioned Western politicians, human rights advocates, church leaders and journalists have turned Islam into the one and only ideology that must never be criticized, and have called anyone who so much as comments on some of the precepts of Islam as "racist."

  • The view that Islam should not be questioned, seems to have led to a lack of reciprocity: radical Islamic individuals and bodies are often permitted to preach hatred for the West in mosques, centres, and university campuses, but non-Muslims commenting on genuine concerns are frequently the objects of public abuse and even criminal prosecution.

  • What is needed are more organizations that stand out as pro-Muslim in support of bettering the lives of Muslims; many are often too fearful of retribution to speak out.

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), is an example of an American Muslim leader who is critical of radical Islam, speaks out for gender equality and freedom of speech, and supports Muslims who believe in religious tolerance. (Image source: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)

My, how the world changes. When, in late 1978, your humble correspondent presented the first translations into English of passages from Ayatollah Khomeini's book, Velayat-e Faqih ("Governance of the Jurist"), bought in Tehran in 1977, I knew the religious extremists would challenge the shah's rule, but I was certain they had no chance against his army, police, and security services.

I was wrong. In January 1979, the Islamic Revolution took place, and by April, Khomeini declared the foundation of an Islamic Republic headed by himself and, under him, a clerical regime.

In November of the same year, a young Muslim fundamentalist and his followers took control of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, thereby sparking a siege that lasted 15 days and led to possibly 1,000 deaths; intervention by a French counter-terrorism force; a series of executions, and a number of surviving rebels who would years later join the terrorist organization al-Qa'ida.

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France: The Rise and Fall of Emmanuel Macron

by Guy Millière  •  August 16, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • France's Justice Department is not independent of the government; no judge will seek to know more about Macron's scandal. No thorough and deep investigation will take place. The French media are largely subsidized by the government and no more independent of the government than the Justice Department is.

  • Even the French media that are not funded by the state self-censor what they report, because they are supported by businesses that depend on government contracts. No French journalist will try to discover a thing.

  • The economist Charles Gave recently used statistical data to demonstrate that if nothing changes, the non-Muslim population of France could be a minority in 40 years. He added: "What happened to Spain or Asia Minor in the 10th and 11th centuries will happen to Europe in the 21st century, that is a certainty."

French President Emmanuel Macron. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

When Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France in May 2017, he was portrayed as a reformer who was going to change everything in France and beyond.

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In Islam, Jerusalem is not Mecca

by A. Z. Mohamed  •  August 16, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • When the time for the Muslim prayer came, Omar declined the invitation by Sophronius, the patriarch of Jerusalem, to pray inside the Church and instead prayed outside. Omar's fear was that that Muslims who would come after him might establish a mosque in place of the church if he would pray at the site. Omar, then, was conscious of what belonged to the Muslims and what belonged to the Christians.

  • Naming the Jerusalem mosque Al-Aqsa was an attempt to say that the Dome of the Rock was the very spot from which Mohammed ascended to heaven, thus connecting Jerusalem to divine revelation in Islamic belief. The problem however, is that Mohammed died in the year 632, which was 73 years before the first construction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque was completed.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, on Jerusalem's Temple Mount. (Image source: Andrew Shiva/Wikipedia)

Intriguingly, only when non-Muslims are in control of Jerusalem do Muslims seem to remember the city. Otherwise, as history shows, Muslims have never attached real significance to it. They never claimed Jerusalem as the capital of any country or empire. In fact, Muhammad instructed his people not to pray toward Jerusalem, as they had done previously, but to Mecca:

"And We did not make the qiblah which you used to face except that We might make evident who would follow the Messenger from who would turn back on his heels. And indeed, it is difficult except for those whom Allah has guided. And never would Allah have caused you to lose your faith." — Quran 2:143, Sahih International.

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Qatar: France's Generous Financer of Mosques

by Giulio Meotti  •  August 15, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The Great Mosque of Poitiers, for instance, sits in the vicinity of the site of the Battle of Tours, where Charles Martel, ruler of the Franks, stopped the advancing Muslim army of Abdul al-Rahman in the year 732.

  • "We have funds from abroad... it comes from the faithful of Saudi Arabia and Qatar," says Ahmed Jamaleddine, treasurer of the Amal association, which is behind the construction of "the Great Mosque of Saint-Denis." Saint-Denis also happens to be home to a famous Cathedral, the Basilica of Saint-Denis -- which contains the royal necropolis where many of France's kings are buried.

  • The Emir of Qatar appears to have a far greater grasp of French history than many French do.

The Assalam Mosque in Nantes. (Image source: Belgacem Ben Said/Wikimedia Commons)

Qatari activism in France should greatly worry those who care about the stability of European democracies. For years, Qatar has been the focus of many claims about its Islamic fundamentalism and its alleged support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Iran, ISIS, elements of al-Qaeda, Hamas, the Taliban and other Islamic extremists.

Qatar's emir, Tamim bin Hamad al Thani, recently provided solid proof that France is a privileged field of projection for his country, which, for more than a year, has had a severe boycott imposed on it by its Gulf neighbors. A July meeting in Paris between the Emir of Qatar and French President Emmanuel Macron was the third held in just a few months. Contracts worth more than 12 billion euros have already been signed, making Qatar the third largest French customer in the Gulf after Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Qatar, however, casts its shadow not only over the French economy.

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Does Turkey Belong in the Future of NATO?

by Nonie Darwish  •  August 15, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • Loving one's native culture and feeling comfortable in it is normal. Western leaders have respected the rights of new immigrants to love the cultures from which they have come. But unfortunately, those same leaders are tearing apart their own cultures by turning love of one's own country into an unforgivable sin, when it is expressed by native citizens of Western countries. This trend needs to end.

  • Unless the leadership of Europe decides to stop the transformation of the continent with the same determination expressed by some extremist leaders that appear to want to transform it, its future is all too clear.

  • Turkey's President Erdogan has been steadily abrogating NATO commitments, such as, "uphold[ing] democracy, including tolerating diversity," and that members "must be good neighbors and respect sovereignty outside their borders."

Turkey's recent policies and actions reflect how fragile NATO relations have become, due to the breaking down of the cohesive culture that brought NATO members together in the first place. Pictured: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg meets with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlut Cavusoglu on April 16, 2018 in Turkey. (Image source: NATO/Flickr)

US President Donald J. Trump tends to state what many in the world are saying but few are willing publicly to express:

"I think allowing millions and millions of people to come into Europe is very, very sad," he recently said. Standing next to UK Prime Minister Teresa May, he stated his conviction that European immigration policies are changing the "fabric of Europe" and destroying European culture.

It is a warning. Europe, in fact, is being flooded with millions of migrants, often from cultures that are openly anti-democratic.

Moreover, some Muslim leaders are encouraging immigrants to resist assimilation into European cultures. Such deliberate non-assimilation has created cultural clashes across Europe.

The reality is that fundamentalist Islamic cultures are, in many ways, at odds with secular Western values.

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Why is Nobody Talking about the Union for the Mediterranean?

by Judith Bergman  •  August 14, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The EU countries involved in the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) appear unbothered by promoting "integration" -- or even claiming "a common heritage" -- with countries such as Mauritania, where, according to recent reports, up to 20% of the population (Haratines and other Afro-Mauritanian groups) is enslaved, and anti-slavery activists are regularly tortured and detained.

  • There is not the slightest allusion in the UfM yearly report, or in the 2017 Roadmap for Action, to the fact that in most Muslim countries, sharia law influences the legal code -- especially regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody -- and that gender inequality may therefore be institutionalized and not something likely to change, regardless of the number of UfM projects.

  • Given these large sums of money involved, it is remarkable that the UfM and its activities enjoy little to no scrutiny in the European press.

A map of the Union for the Mediterranean members. Blue are EU member states, brown are other members, Libya (red) is an official observer, and Syria (green) is a suspended member. (Image source: Treehill/Wikimedia Commons)

In July, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Most Europeans, however, are unlikely to have heard about the Union, let alone the anniversary. The media rarely reports on the UfM and its activities.

The participating countries in the UfM are the 28 European Union (EU) member states and the Southern Mediterranean countries, which include Albania, Algeria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, "Palestine", Syria (temporarily suspended), Tunisia and Turkey. Libya has observer status in the UfM. The UfM is chaired by a "co-presidency" shared between the European Union and Jordan. The UfM Secretariat maintains the daily operations of the UfM and is run by a Secretary General, presently Nasser Kamel (Egypt).

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Toronto Shooting: Politically Correct Cover-Up?

by Tom Quiggin  •  August 14, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • The Hussain "family statement" was not written by the murderer's parents at all, but rather by Mohammed Hashim, a professional activist connected with the National Council of Canadian Muslims. Its American parent organization, as stated in its own documents, is CAIR, designated as a terrorist entity by the United Arab Emirates.

  • Contrary to what Hashim purportedly wrote in the statement, there is no evidence that Hussain was diagnosed with or treated for a mental illness, even after one of his high-school teachers reported to the police 10 years ago that Hussain had said "I want to kill someone... I just feel it would be really cool to kill somebody."

  • Given the global climate, to which Canada most certainly has not been immune -- as well as Hussain's dubious connections -- the attempt by the government and the media to dismiss potential links to terrorist groups or inspiration from jihadist ideologies, is both premature and politically transparent.

Pictured: Toronto Police officers ride on horseback as they patrol Danforth Ave. in Toronto on July 24, 2018, the day after Faisal Hussain murdered 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis, and wounded several others in a shooting attack in the area. (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images)

On July 22, two youngsters -- 18-year-old Reese Fallon and 10-year-old Julianna Kozis -- were killed, and another 13 people, ranging in age from 17 to 59, were wounded in a brutal shooting attack at a number of restaurants on Danforth Avenue, in Toronto's popular Greektown neighborhood. The perpetrator, who was later identified as Faisal Hussain, killed himself after exchanging gunfire with police.

Hussain's firing stance and ability to reload his 40-caliber Smith and Wesson handgun while on the move suggested that he had experience with firearms.

The following morning, the Toronto Police Service issued a statement that indicated they had already identified the shooter, yet did not release his name until later that afternoon. Meanwhile, a statement allegedly from the Hussain family made the rounds in a number of news outlets.

The statement read, in part:

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UN Enabling Hamas's War Machine

by Bassam Tawil  •  August 13, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • This ceasefire initiative is rather disturbing: it requires no meaningful concessions on the part of Hamas. It leaves, for example, wholly intact Hamas's extremist ideology, which calls for the destruction of Israel, and does not demand that Hamas lay down its weapons.

  • A ceasefire may sound good, but in the current circumstances it will send a deadly message to Hamas and the other terror factions in the Gaza Strip: namely, that long-term terror bombardment of Israel gets you economic and humanitarian projects funded by the United Nations and Western donors, and perhaps even a seaport and airport. The ceasefire would give Hamas five to ten years to continue amassing weapons, tightening its grip on the Gaza Strip, and preparing for its next war with Israel.

  • Any ceasefire agreement will be perceived as a reward for Hamas-sponsored terrorism and violence against Israel. These negotiations will spur other terrorist groups around the world to continue their attacks with the hope of gaining legitimacy and forcing the UN and the international community to negotiate also with them.

  • Why is the UN apparently prepared to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the Gaza Strip while keeping Hamas in power and even allowing it to become stronger? Why is the UN being allowed to play the role of savior of Hamas?

Pictured: The Kerem Shalom Crossing burns on May 4, 2018, after it was torched by Palestinian rioters from Gaza. Kerem Shalom is used to transfer thousands of tons of goods and humanitarian aid from Israel to the Gaza Strip. (Image source: IDF/Flickr)

The Palestinian Hamas terrorist group that controls the Gaza Strip has reportedly accepted, in principle, an Egyptian and United Nations initiative for a long-term ceasefire with Israel. According to some reports, the initiative calls for a ceasefire of five to ten years in return for the easing of economic sanctions and humanitarian and economic aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

This ceasefire initiative is rather disturbing: it requires no meaningful concessions on the part of Hamas. It leaves, for example, wholly intact Hamas's extremist ideology, which calls for the destruction of Israel, and does not demand that Hamas lay down its weapons.

Essentially, the message to Hamas from the international community is that it will reap rich rewards for nothing more than temporarily halting its terror attacks on Israel.

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The Turkish-Palestinian Hate Fest

by Uzay Bulut  •  August 13, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • Ahed Tamimi has called on "Palestinians to murder Israelis through 'martyrdom-seeking operations' (i.e., suicide bombings), stabbing attacks, and stone-throwing..." — Bradley Martin, researcher.

  • If Palestinian Arabs are stateless today, it is by their own choice. Their leaders have chosen to expend their energies on wiping Israel from the face of the earth rather than on establishing a state of their own next to Israel.

  • Palestinian Arabs keep rejecting offers to establish a state of their own, according to David Brog, with Israel, Britain and the UN having offered Palestinian Arabs the opportunity to build their own state on five separate occasions -- in 1936, 1947, 1967, 2000, and 2008.

  • Turkey, on the other hand, has never accepted the right to self-rule of any non-Turkish people living in Asia Minor and historic Armenia, which is today eastern Turkey.

Ahlam Tamimi happily recounts how she blew up a supermarket in Jerusalem, in an interview with Kuwaiti television. (Image source: MEMRI video screenshot)

Ahed Tamimi, a 17-year-old Palestinian girl, was released from an Israeli prison on July 29, after sitting in jail and prison for almost 8 months. In March, she had been sentenced to an 8-month sentence after pleading guilty to charges of assault and incitement. Ahed was welcomed in the West Bank like a "hero". "A crowd of supporters jostled for selfies with the teen," the Washington Post reported.

Ahed became the center of international attention on December 15 when she assaulted an Israeli soldier. The soldier did not respond. Her mother posted the video on Facebook. In the video, Ahed is seen slapping and punching the soldier.

Immediately after her attack on the soldier on December 15, Ahed's mother, who was filming Ahed, reportedly asked her daughter what kind of message she wanted to convey to viewers. Ahed replied, in part:

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UK: Boris Johnson Sparks 'Burka-Gate'

by Soeren Kern  •  August 12, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • "I believe that the public will see this for what it is — an internal Conservative party witch hunt instigated by Number Ten against Boris Johnson, who they see as a huge threat." — Tory MP Andrew Bridgen.

  • "Taken to its logical conclusion, the anti-Johnson brigade's stance would mean that nobody is allowed to offer their view on any matter in case it causes offence. Is that really the kind of country we want to live in? ... We live in a country that used to believe passionately in free speech. As we all know, even when exercised with care and responsibility, free speech can and does offend some people. But timid politicians who take the easy option and prefer not to tell people what they really think about things like the burka are killing this vital right." — Nigel Farage, former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

  • "Boris Johnson should not apologise for telling the truth.... [female facial masking is] a nefarious component of a trendy gateway theology for religious extremism and militant Islam.... The burka and niqab are hideous tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim. Although this deliberate identity-concealing contraption is banned at the Kaaba in Mecca it is permitted in Britain..." — Taj Hargey, imam at Oxford Islamic Congregation.

Pictured: Boris Johnson (the Foreign Secretary) leaves 10 Downing Street following a cabinet meeting on June 12, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

Former foreign secretary (and possible future prime minister) Boris Johnson sparked a political firestorm after making politically incorrect comments about the burka and the niqab, the face-covering garments worn by some Muslim women.

The ensuing debate over Islamophobia has revealed the extent to which political correctness is stifling free speech in Britain. It has also exposed deep fissures within the Conservative Party over its future direction and leadership.

In an August 5 essay published by the Daily Telegraph, Johnson argued that he was opposed to Denmark's burka ban because the government should not be telling women what they may or may not wear in public. Johnson wrote:

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Turkey's Neighborhood Bullies

by Burak Bekdil  •  August 12, 2018 at 4:00 am

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's foreign ministry keeps bullying his country's neighbors and the region, just like his friends, President Maduro of Venezuela and President al-Bashir of Sudan.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan makes a speech at his inauguration ceremony in Ankara on July 9, 2018. (Photo by Stringer/Getty Images)

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's motorcade arrived at his 1,100-room palace on an unusually rainy day in Ankara on July 9. His armored Mercedes was showered with red roses, thrown at the car by crowds cheering him hours before an extravagant inauguration ceremony. A 101-gun salute and an Ottoman military band greeted him along with 10,000 selected guests (this author was on the guest list but, in protest, preferred not to attend).

Whereas pompous scenes from Erdoğan's palace ceremony showed the glittering face of Turkey on July 9, events from the day before were saddening and unveiled "the other Turkey." A passenger train derailed in the Thrace region west of Istanbul, killing 24 and injuring more than 300. On the same day, students from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara were arrested for carrying placards "insulting the president" at their graduation ceremony.

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Europe: Prayer in Public Spaces

by Giulio Meotti  •  August 11, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • These Arab countries know better than Europe that to contain Islamic fundamentalism, it is crucial to control the street.

  • That 140,000 Muslims recently gathered in England for a public prayer event organized by a mosque known for its extremism and links to jihadi terrorists, should not only alarm the British authorities, but those in other European countries as well.

It may not be a coincidence that many British jihadists have come from Birmingham, which has been called "the jihadist capital of Britain." Pictured: Birmingham Central Mosque, in Birmingham, England. (Image source: Oosoom/Wikimedia Commons)

A few months ago, a global media tempest erupted after Polish Catholics held a mass public prayer event across the country. The BBC deemed it "controversial", due to "concerns it could be seen as endorsing the state's refusal to let in Muslim migrants".

The same controversy, however, did not erupt in Britain when 140,000 Muslims prayed in Birmingham's Small Heath Park, in an event organized by the Green Lane Mosque to mark the end of Ramadan.

France is debating whether or not to block prayer on the street. "They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying" Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced.

"Public space cannot be taken over in this way", said the president of the Paris regional council, Valérie Pécresse, who led a protest by councilors and MPs. In Italy, hundreds of Muslims prayed next to Colosseum, and Muslim prayers were held in front of Milan's Cathedral.

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Sweden's Government Funds Anti-Semitism

by Nima Gholam Ali Pour  •  August 10, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • The municipality of Malmö uses taxpayers' money to support "Group 194," an organization that posts anti-Semitic images on its Facebook page -- such as a defamatory cartoon portraying a Jew drinking blood and eating a child.

  • In Sweden, imported Middle Eastern anti-Semitism is funded by taxpayer money, so when scandals occur, they are often addressed by the same people who have participated in spreading its message.

  • No effective actions are currently being taken against the spread of anti-Semitism in Sweden.

  • Just as European anti-Semitism was defeated by rejecting and condemning the ideology after World War II and isolating its proponents, so must Sweden's "new" anti-Semitism be defeated by isolating its advocates and marginalizing all organizations spreading its ideas. This means that all direct and indirect government funding of these organizations has to end. As long as this does not happen, Jews in Sweden will continue living in fear and insecurity.

The synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden was firebombed on December 9, 2017. (Image source: Lintoncat/Wikimedia Commons)

As major Swedish cities such as Malmö have become known as places where Jews are threatened, anti-Semitism in Sweden has attracted international attention. Does Sweden, however, really deserve this bad reputation or is there some misunderstanding?

In December 2017, when US President Donald J. Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, demonstrations broke out in Malmö. Protesters, often people with an Arab background, shouted, "We want our freedom back and we're going to shoot the Jews", and a chapel at the Jewish cemetery was attacked with firebombs. In Gothenburg, the city's synagogue was also attacked with firebombs.

The local newspaper in Malmö, Kvällsposten, described how the Jewish congregation in Malmö -- not Israelis; Swedish Jews -- tries to protect itself:

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Hamas Blackmail, Media Silence

by Bassam Tawil  •  August 9, 2018 at 5:00 am

  • Hamas's strategy is to remain in power forever; to achieve that goal, it is prepared to do anything. Hamas has always acted out of its own narrow interests while holding the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip hostage to its extremist ideology and repressive regime.

  • "Those who claim to be confronting Israel are nothing but corrupt, extortionist bribe-takers. Today, every politician in the Gaza Strip is well aware of the fact that the corruption at the border crossings has become the norm of the official establishment, and not actions by individuals or a certain apparatus." — Hassan Asfour, former Palestinian Authority minister, human rights activist and political columnist.

  • Here one always needs to ask: where is the role of the international media in exposing Hamas's corruption and exploitation of its own people? Why is it that the mainstream media in the West does not want to pay any attention to what Asfour and other Palestinians are saying? The answer is always simple: As far as foreign journalists are concerned, if Israel is not the one asking for bribes or blackmailing the Palestinians, there is no story there.

The Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, says it wants Israel and Egypt to keep the border crossings with its coastal territory open on a permanent basis. The message that Hamas has been relaying to Israel and Egypt has been along the lines of: If you seek a cease-fire, you must reopen, on a permanent basis, the Kerem Shalom commercial border crossing (with Israel) and the Rafah terminal along the border with Egypt.

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