Latest Analysis and Commentary

Palestinians: When the Mountain of Fire Erupts

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  August 25, 2016 at 6:30 am

  • The Palestinian Authority is now paying the price for harboring, funding and inciting gang members and militiamen who until recently were hailed by many Palestinians as "heroes" and "resistance fighters."

  • Hamas's dream of extending its control to the West Bank now seems more realistic than ever -- unless Mahmoud Abbas wakes up and realizes that he made a big mistake by authorizing local and municipal elections.

  • The blood pouring out in Nablus and other Palestinian towns is proof that Abbas is on his way to losing control over the West Bank, just as he lost Gaza to Hamas in 2007. In an emergency meeting held on August 25 in Nablus, several Palestinian factions and figures reached agreement that it would be impossible to hold the vote under the current circumstances.

On August 18, two Palestinian Authority policemen were killed in an armed clash with gunmen in Nablus (left). In April of this year, a fierce gun battle erupted between Palestinian Authority policemen and members of the Jaradat clan in the refugee camp of Jenin (right). The clash started during an attempt to arrest a clan member.

Hours after his security officers lynched a detainee, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Palestinian businessmen living abroad to support the Palestinian economy by investing in the Palestinian territories. The Palestinian Authority (PA), he asserted, was "working to provide security and safety to encourage investment."

According to Abbas, "The Palestinian territories are living in a state of security stability, which we are working to provide for residents and investors alike by enforcing the rule of law and enhancing transparency and accountability."

It must be nice to create your own reality, especially if your true reality is that of the 81-year-old Abbas.

In his speech before the businessmen, Abbas neglected any reference to the latest wave of "security chaos" in PA-controlled areas in the West Bank, specifically Nablus, the largest Palestinian city.

Continue Reading Article

Luther's Anti-Semitism Back to Life

by Petra Heldt  •  August 25, 2016 at 4:00 am

  • At the Lutheran assembly in New Orleans, there was one resolution to end all US aid to Israel, and one to divest from Israel. Both resolutions, de facto, intend the destruction of the State of Israel. The anti-Israel character of the resolutions fits the old-style Lutheran anti-Semitic diatribes.

  • The ELCA group "Isaiah 58" recommends two sources. One is the book by Bethlehem Lutheran pastor Mitri Raheb, Faith in the Face of Empire, which recommends Islamic sharia law as the remedy against Israeli occupation. The other is the 2009 Kairos Palestine Document of the World Council of Churches, which aims for the elimination of the State of Israel.

  • So who is interested in the anti-Semitic Lutheran resolution? The conclusion is that all those are cheerful about this resolution who like to see Israel disappear, be it with a one- or two-state solution; all those who distribute millions of dollars to Hamas in Gaza to enable the destruction of Israel while the intended recipients -- namely the children in Gaza -- remain deprived; all those who turn a blind eye to the education of Palestinian children in summer camps and schools where they are taught to murder Jews and to destroy the allegedly non-existent State of Israel; all those who fail to put the record straight about the just and right support that many Israelis give to Palestinians.

A generation ago, in 1994, the leadership of the Lutheran Church in the US condemned the anti-Semitism of Church founder Martin Luther (left), and expressed its desire to "love and respect" the Jewish people. Today's president of the Lutheran World Federation, Bishop Munib Younan (right), is known for not upholding the renunciation of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism.

Lutheran Churches worldwide are getting ready to honor the 500th anniversary of their founder Martin Luther. Martin Luther's well-known anti-Semitic diatribes and biblical commentaries have been worked through and are in disrepute with many Lutheran Christians. A generation ago, in 1994, the Lutheran leadership in the US, "in concert with the Lutheran World Federation" (LWF) condemned Luther's anti-Semitism and expressed its desire to "love and respect" the Jewish people:

"In concert with the Lutheran World Federation, we particularly deplore the appropriation of Luther's words by modern anti-Semites for the teaching of hatred toward Judaism or toward the Jewish people in our day. Grieving the complicity of our own tradition within this history of hatred, moreover, we express our urgent desire to live out our faith in Jesus Christ with love and respect for the Jewish people."

Continue Reading Article

Are Jews who refuse to renounce Israel being excluded from "progressive" groups?

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  August 24, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Hard left activists are trying to exclude Jews who do not renounce Israel from "progressive" organizations.

Last year, Rabbi Susan Talve, a longtime activist on race issues in the St. Louis area was told that her advocacy for Israel was incompatible with the objectives of Black Lives Matter: "Solidarity from Ferguson to Palestine has become a central tenet of the movement" she was informed, because "Israeli and U.S. state oppression are deeply interconnected." Similarly, a student who attended a Black Lives Matter rally at Northwestern University last year was told "you support Israel, so you cannot also support us."

Recently, that seems to be the response of many of the hard left activists who dominate so-called "progressive" social justice movements.

Continue Reading Article

Why There Can Be No "Demilitarized" Palestinian State

by Louis René Beres  •  August 24, 2016 at 5:00 am

  • Any treaty or treaty-like compact is void if, at the time of its entry into force, it conflicts with a "peremptory" rule of international law – that is, one from which "no derogation is permitted." As the right of sovereign states to maintain military forces for self-defense is always such a rule, Palestine would be within its lawful right to abrogate any pre-independence agreement that had (impermissibly) compelled its own demilitarization.

Palestinian Authority leaders, official television, schools and media outlets often display maps showing Palestine stretching from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. The maps do not show the existence of Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), now officially a Nonmember Observer State to the United Nations General Assembly, will likely seek next month a Security Council resolution favoring full Palestinian sovereignty, probably as part of a cooperative Security Council initiative with France. Following such an initiative, the current U.S. president, or the next U.S. president could then be moved to accept the PA position on the grounds of some prior Palestinian "demilitarization." Unfortunately, any such acceptance would be without any legal or practical value; therefore, no state of Palestine should ever be approved because of any apparent promise of demilitarization.

Continue Reading Article

France: The Religious War Few Wish to Face

by George Igler  •  August 24, 2016 at 4:00 am

  • Until a few years ago, the unique recipe for secularism adopted by the French seemed able to guarantee the assimilation of the country's burgeoning number of Muslims, something now, by criminal and terrorist activity in the country, proven a resolute failure.

  • Next year's election results might signal the beginning of the end for laïcité, the long-held French principle of strict prohibition against religious influence in the determination of state policies.

On August 3, French riot police dragged a priest and his congregation from the church of St Rita in Paris, prior to its scheduled demolition to make way for a parking lot. Front National leader Marine Le Pen said in fury: "And what if they built parking lots in the place of Salafist mosques, and not of our churches?" (Image source: RT video screenshot)

The remains of St. Denis, the patron saint of Paris, who was decapitated in the year 250 during the brutal pagan persecution of Christians, lie north of the French capital in the basilica that bears his name.

The church is historically noteworthy as the first proper work of Gothic architecture, a style influenced by the Crusades. The basilica is now a rarely visited Parisian landmark, lying as it does within the profoundly Islamized enclave of Seine-Saint-Denis.

"You Christians, you kill us," were the words of the ISIS knifeman who slit the throat of 85-year old Father Jacques Hamel. The elderly priest officiating at the altar of the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray -- a mere three kilometres from the centre of Rouen in Normandy -- was slain on July 25, as the two terrorists also took nuns hostage. The terrorists were then shot by police.

Continue Reading Article

Hamas, Palestinian Authority Target Journalists Ahead of Election

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  August 23, 2016 at 5:00 am

  • Both of the journalists who were arrested made the mistake of reporting on the suffering of Palestinians living under Hamas rule. These are not the kind of stories that Hamas wishes to see ahead of the local and municipal elections. Rather, Hamas wants to see printed lies of prosperity.

  • It is a puzzle why foreign journalists choose not to report about the campaign of intimidation facing their Palestinian colleagues.

  • One might wonder if the human rights groups neglect these abuses because of their continued obsession with destroying Israel.

Ahmed Said (left) and Mahmoud Abu Awwad (right) are two journalists living in the Gaza Strip who were recently arrested by Hamas security forces. Both journalists made the mistake of reporting on the suffering of Palestinians living under Hamas rule.

Palestinian journalists are at the top of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas hit-list in the crackdown occurring alongside preparations for the Palestinian local and municipal elections, scheduled for October 8.

The crackdown is part of an ongoing campaign by the two rival parties to silence critics in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Neither Hamas nor the PA tolerates a free and independent media -- especially on the eve of a crucial election that could have far-reaching political implications in the Palestinian arena.

A Hamas victory in the upcoming elections would be catastrophic for President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority. Such an electoral outcome would be tantamount to a vote of no-confidence in their policies and performance.

Continue Reading Article

Turkey's Exhausting Zigzagging Between East and West

by Burak Bekdil  •  August 23, 2016 at 4:00 am

  • "What is the moral of the story? Until a few weeks ago, the West was comfortably day-dreaming that, despite his foibles, Erdogan was a staunch U.S. ally and an eager EU candidate. After all, had he not, only recently, downed a Russian jet? Then, suddenly, what do we see? Putin and Erdogan kissing and making up ..." — Fuad Kavur, London.

In July 2016, Erdogan apologized for downing the Russian plane, and in August he went to Russia to shake hands for normalization. Once again, Russia is trendy for the Turks, and the West looks passé. Pictured: Russian President Vladimir Putin with Turkey's then Prime Minister Erdogan, meeting in Istanbul on December 3, 2012. (Image source: kremlin.ru)

Turkey has been a republic since 1923, a multi-party democracy since 1946, and a member of NATO since 1952. In 1987, it added another powerful anchor into the Western bay where it wanted it to remain docked: It applied for full membership in the European Union (EU). This imperfect journey toward the West was dramatically replaced by a directionless cruise, with sharp zigzags between the East and West, after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist AKP party came to power in 2002. Zigzagging remains the main Turkish policy feature even at this day.

Continue Reading Article

UK: Clerics Who Threaten Reformers and Praise Murderers

by Douglas Murray  •  August 22, 2016 at 5:00 am

  • Anjem Choudary has gone to jail. He was the most visible part of the problem. But he was not the greatest or deepest problem in this area. That problem is shown when two extremist clerics with pre-medieval views come to Britain they are welcomed by an ignorant British establishment.

  • "These people teach murder and hate. For me personally I find it sad that a country like England would allow cowards like these men in. Why are they allowing people [in] that give fuel to the fire they are fighting against?" — Shahbaz Taseer, the son of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer, who was murdered for opposing Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

  • "They have got hundreds of thousands of followers in the UK," the imam of the Madina Mosque and Islamic Centre in Oldham, Zahoor Chishti, said of the two clerics.

The conviction of radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary (centre) -- the most prominent extremist in Britain -- has been widely welcomed in the UK.

The conviction of radical Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary -- the most prominent extremist in Britain -- has been widely welcomed in the UK. For years his followers and he have infuriated the vast majority of the British public (including most British Muslims) with their inflammatory and hate-filled rhetoric. They have also provided a constant stream of people willing to follow through the words with actions. More people around Choudary have been convicted of terrorism offences in the UK than any other Islamist group -- including al-Qaeda.

But Choudary's conviction for encouraging people to join ISIS should not be greeted as though that is the end of a matter.

Continue Reading Article

Migrant Issue: Turkey's Dubious Role

by Mohshin Habib  •  August 22, 2016 at 4:00 am

  • The flow of migrants has not been stopped, and the conditions for migrants in Turkey are provoking them to leave and risk their lives in a quest for safety in Greece.

  • "I have a strong fear that Turkey's smugglers have the support of the authorities, who act like they have seen nothing... There are even cases where the smugglers are helped. We have evidence." — Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos.

  • It is doubtful if Turkey will hold up its end of the deal anytime soon.

Migrants set sail on an inflatable boat from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos, August 25, 2015. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)

Despite a deal with the European Union that promised stricter regulations on migrants traveling from Turkey to the EU, Turkey is doing little to prevent them from entering Europe. Turkey has also not done much to care for those stranded within their borders.

This was expected to change last year after a mini-summit led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on November 29 in Brussels, to discuss closer cooperation between the EU and Turkey. Both the parties agreed to three main points: to limit the number of refugees leaving Turkey for the EU; to establish a bilateral readmission process, and to accept migrants expelled from the EU. In return Turkey would receive three billion euros from the EU and the US to aid refugees -- especially the 2.2 million Syrians now living in Turkey. Additionally, EU member-states would allow visa-free entry for citizens of Turkey.

Continue Reading Article

France: "First the Saturday People, then the Sunday People"

by Guy Millière  •  August 21, 2016 at 5:00 am

  • The path of Adel Kermiche, born in France to immigrant parents from Algeria, and one of the two men who murdered the elderly priest Father Jacques Hamel, looks like the path followed by many young French Muslims: school failure, delinquency, shift towards a growing hatred of France and the West, return to Islam, transition to radical Islam.

  • The French education system does not teach young people to love France and the West. It teaches them instead that colonialism plundered many poor countries, that colonized people had to fight to free themselves, and that the fight is not over. It teaches them to hate France.

  • All political parties, including the National Front, talk about the need to establish an "Islam of France". They never explain how, in the internet age, the "Islam of France" could be different from Islam as it is everywhere else.

  • Many French Jews fleeing the country recalled an Islamic phrase in Arabic: "First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people." In other words, first Muslims attack Jews; then when the Jews are gone, they attack Christians. It is what we have been seeing throughout the Middle East.

Father Jacques Hamel was murdered on July 26, in the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, by Islamic jihadists.

The slaughter of French priest Father Jacques Hamel on July 26 in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray was significant. The church where Father Jacques Hamel was saying mass was nearly empty. Five people were present; three nuns and two faithful. Most of the time, French churches are empty.

Christianity in France is dying out. Jacques Hamel was almost 86 years old; despite his age, he did not want to retire. He knew it would be difficult to find someone to replace him. Priests of European descent are now rare in France, as in many European countries. The priest officially in charge of the parish of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, Auguste Moanda-Phuati, is Congolese.

Continue Reading Article

Migrant Problems Still Threaten Europe

by George Igler  •  August 20, 2016 at 5:00 am

  • In September 2015, a Canadian broadcaster, Ezra Levant, suggested that what Europe was experiencing, was not primarily an influx of "refugees" fleeing conflict, but rather a new Gold Rush, in which young men from the Muslim world were seeking to improve their fortune at Europe's expense.

  • Rome-based journalist Barbie Latza Nadeu seriously asked whether Italy was "enabling the ISIS invasion of Europe."

  • Profits in the people-smuggling business often flow to terrorist-backed gangs operating in Italy. The numbers drowning in the Mediterranean continue to mount.

African migrants camp out on the beach in the northern Italian town of Ventimiglia, along the French border, as they wait for the opportunity to cross into France, in 2015. (Image source: AFP video screenshot)

Chaotic scenes have erupted on the coastal Mediterranean frontier between Italy and France. On August 4, for instance, hundreds of migrants, chiefly from Eritrea, Ethiopia and the Sudan sought to storm the crossing in their attempts to make it to Northern Europe.

"Both the Italian and French forces at the border were taken by surprise," remarked Giorgio Marenco, a police commander in Ventimiglia, where tear gas was used to disperse the migrants. Others merely braved the choppy waters of the sea to breach the crossing by swimming towards their goal.

The Italian town contains the last train station in Italy near the border. The besieged terminus lies three miles from the French Riviera. It has been a gathering point for the predominantly Muslim migrants since June 2015. A fractious tent city for migrants has sprung up, mirroring others spread across Italy. The capital of the French holiday district is Nice, which experienced a jihadist massacre on July 14.

Continue Reading Article

The Temple Mount and UNESCO

by Denis MacEoin  •  August 19, 2016 at 5:00 am

  • The attempts to deny any ancient and ongoing Jewish presence in Jerusalem, to say there was never a first let alone a second Temple and that only Muslims have any right to the whole city, its shrines and historical monuments, have reached insane proportions.

  • Is this really what it boils down to? The Islamic State rules the international community? Including UNESCO?

  • The world is outraged when it sees the stones of Palmyra tumble, or other great monuments of human civilization turn to dust. But that same world is silent when the Palestinian Arabs and their supporters Islamise everything by calling into question the very presence of the Jewish people in the Holy Land.

You do not have to be a historian to know that Jerusalem was originally a Jewish city with, later, Christian connections and, later still, weak Islamic connections. The second Jewish Temple, completed by King Herod in 19 BCE, was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE (depicted at left in a 1626 painting by Nicolas Poussin). The current Aqsa Mosque (right) on the Temple Mount was first built in the year 705, seventy-three years after Muhammad's death in 632, and rebuilt several times after earthquakes. (Images' source: Wikimedia Commons)

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, is known throughout the world for the many places it designates as World Heritage Sites. There are more than one thousand of these, distributed unequally in many countries, with Italy at the top, followed by China.

The largest single category of sites consists of religious sites, categorized under the heading of cultural locations (as distinct from natural ones). Within this category, UNESCO has carried out many dialogues with communities in order to ensure that religious sensitivities are acknowledged and guaranteed. UNESCO has undertaken many measures in this field.

In 2010, the organization held a seminar on the "Role of Religious Communities in the Management of World Heritage Properties."

Continue Reading Article

"No Room for the Zionist Entity in the Region"

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  August 18, 2016 at 5:00 am

  • "The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Wakf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except Jihad." — Hamas Charter.

  • Hamas's decision to participate in the upcoming local and municipal elections will further strengthen the movement and pave the way for it to extend its control from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

  • "The Zionist entity will not be part of this region. We will continue to resist it until the liberation of our land and the return of our people." — Musa Abu Marzouk, senior Hamas official.

  • How precisely Hamas intends to "serve" the Palestinians by running in the elections is somewhat murky. Abu Marzouk did not talk about building new schools and parks for the Palestinians. When he talks about "serving" the people, he means only one thing: recruiting Palestinians to Hamas and jihad against Israel and the Jews.

Masked Hamas members (dressed in black) prepare to execute local Palestinians who they claim spied for Israel, Aug. 22, 2014, in Gaza. (Image source: Reuters video screenshot)

The dreamers in English still have it: "Hamas and Israel, Israel and Hamas. Maybe one day...who knows." And then the Arabic-language truth rolls in: "Death to Israel, always!"

Some Arab and Western political analysts have mistakenly interpreted Hamas's agreement to participate in the Palestinian local and municipal elections, scheduled for October 8, as a sign of the movement's "pragmatism" and march toward recognizing Israel's right to exist.

They falsely assume that Hamas's readiness to take part in the democratic process shows that the leaders of the extremist movement are also prepared to abandon their dream of destroying Israel and abandoning the "armed struggle" against it.

Continue Reading Article

The Right to Dissent

by Robbie Travers  •  August 18, 2016 at 4:00 am

  • The irony is that these censors and would-be censors, such as the European Commission, the Dutch and Austrian courts, Facebook, Twitter are using their freedom of expression to suggest that someone else be robbed of his freedom of expression.

  • Recently, the BBC stripped the name Ali from Munich's mass-murderer so that he would not appear to be a Muslim.

  • Throughout history, it is the minorities or the lone voices that need from the majority to allow everyone to question, comment on and criticize opinions with which they disagree. Freedom to be wrong, heretical or "blasphemous" -- as we have seen with Giordano Bruno, Galileo, Darwin or Alan Turing -- is the only way that civilisation can grow.

  • Not to allow differing points of view only entrenches positions by depriving people of the opportunity to hear anything that contradicts them. For those doing the censoring, that is doubtless the point.

It would be a fair assessment to conclude that many people consider some statements not what they would like to hear -- whether by Salman Rushdie, Geert Wilders, Ingrid Carlqvist, Douglas Murray, Lars Hedegaard, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Theo van Gogh, the Mohammad cartoonists, Stéphane Charbonnier and other editors at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, among others. To say their remarks are sometimes regarded as controversial would be an understatement. Often, they are vociferous and vocal critics of extremist Islam, immigration, censorship and other policies -- and they have been accused of Islamophobia, hate speech, and inflaming racial and religious tensions. Several have been threatened with jail and death. Some have been murdered for their warnings.

Importantly, though, none of them has ever directly incited violence against a religion, ethnic minority, or sexual orientation.

Continue Reading Article

Iran: Russians Using Iranian Airbases

by Lawrence A. Franklin  •  August 18, 2016 at 3:00 am

  • Iran's deepening military cooperation with Russia serves as a hedge, in the Iranian calculus, against any unilateral Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities during an interregnum between the Obama era and the inauguration of the next U.S. President in January 2017.

  • Moscow probably enjoys filling a vacuum created by U.S. refusal to be drawn too deeply into Syria's civil war. Additionally, Russia's air force is profiting by targeting training under wartime conditions, with little loss of personnel and equipment. Russia also most likely hopes to become the main arms supplier to Iran.

A Russian bomber operating from Iran's Hamadan Airbase drops bombs over Syria, August 17, 2016. (Image source: RT video screenshot)

Iran's Supreme National Security Council admitted on August 16 that Tehran is permitting Russian military aircraft to stage operations against Syrian rebels from an Iranian airbase.[1] Satellite photography previously confirmed Russian military aircraft on the tarmac of Iran's Shahid Nojeh Airfield in 2015.

This is the first time, however, that Tehran is publicly confirming that it is allowing advanced Russian long-range bombers to use its main air base in Hamadan Province.

Continue Reading Article