Latest Analysis and Commentary

Iran's Mullahs: Loving the Democrats' Presidential Debates

by Majid Rafizadeh  •  August 22, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • "As long as Iran has money, we will have money...." — Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of the Lebanese paramilitary party; CNSnews.com.

  • "Iran Executed 110 In Six Months, Including Minors" — Radio Farda, July 5, 2019.

  • It is not hard to track Iran's aggression and quest for regional dominance in the Middle East.

  • What should come as a surprise, is that the Democratic presidential candidates have apparently not learned a thing from the damage their nuclear deal inflicted -- in Iran, in the region and even as far as Venezuela -- under the leadership of their former president.

The Democratic Party's presidential campaign is receiving massive interest in Iran. Pictured: A Democratic Party presidential debate on June 26, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The ruling mullahs of Iran, whose undue influence and bullying in the region have been significantly restrained by America in times past, have, as expected, been championing hate and dissent against Washington. They have been monitoring events in the United States with keen attention; a vivid example is the massive interest the Democratic Party's presidential campaign is receiving from the Islamic Republic of Iran. The mullahs seem to enjoy a cordial relationship with the Democratic Party -- why not? The former administration of President Barack Obama was most generous and sympathetic to their cause: being able to create a nuclear-weapons capability.

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The Widespread Desecration of Christian Graves

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  August 22, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • While the persecution of a Christian can be motivated by particular circumstances -- conflicts, sexual attraction, convenience, gain, and so on -- attacks on inanimate symbols would seem to reflect a hatred for Christianity and its followers that needs no "reason" and seemingly gains nothing.

  • From one end of the Middle Eastern world to the other -- and in Arab, African and Asian nations, and increasingly in the West -- this sort of hate has become a regular occurrence, seemingly "normalized."

  • Although so-called "mainstream media" reported some of the desecrations -- probably mostly because the Islamic State had already publicized them -- they rarely report that "everyday" extremists also engage in this macabre practice.

  • Sadly, despite the Western establishment's insistence that religiously-inspired terror is a product of anything and everything but teachings, doctrines and text, the widespread appearance of people desecrating Christian graves and their crosses speaks of something else.

Pictured: A caretaker at the Commonwealth military cemetery in Gaza City stands over broken headstones on May 10, 2004 in the Gaza Strip. Vandals with axes and shovels desecrated 32 graves of soldiers killed in World War I, including those from Britain and India. (Photo by Getty Images)

Although the persecution by members of some religions of live human beings, such as Jews and Christians, is certainly more monstrous, attacks on inanimate religious symbols possibly give an even clearer indication of a deadly hate borne for the "other."

Consider, for instance, extremists desecrating and destroying Christian cemeteries and their crosses. While the act itself is largely "symbolic" -- in that no living person gets hurt -- it is also reflective of a committed hatred that transcends, say, responding to a physical threat. While the persecution of a Christian can be motivated by particular circumstances -- conflicts, sexual attraction, convenience, gain, and so on -- attacks on inanimate symbols would seem to reflect a hatred for Christianity and its followers that needs no "reason" and seemingly gains nothing.

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How a US Congresswoman Can Help Palestinians

by Bassam Tawil  •  August 21, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • While Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib is using the controversy surrounding her visit as an excuse to launch scathing attacks on Israel, Palestinians seem to be more worried about failed leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This concern is not something that Tlaib seems to share with Palestinians because for her the only wrong-doing is coming from Israel.

  • "Praising suicide bombers and pushing blood libel is not 'criticizing Israeli policy.'" — Charles Sykes, The Bulwark, August 19, 2019.

  • As a Congresswoman, Tlaib should have been worried that a US Embassy was forced to cancel an event to help Palestinians because of threats and calls for a boycott.

  • It would have been helpful had the Palestinian-American Congresswoman made an effort to persuade Palestinian Authority officials to resume their relations with the US administration and explore ways of boosting the Palestinian economy and improving living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As a Congresswoman, she should be working to build, and not destroy, bridges between her people and the US. Her fierce attacks on Israel and the US administration, however, embolden Palestinian hardliners and fuel hate against Israelis and Americans.

  • If Tlaib really cared about the Palestinians, she should be campaigning against the PA and Hamas leaders engaged in a power struggle over money and power. Moreover, she should be calling for reforms and democracy under the PA and Hamas. The least she could do is demand an end to human rights violations by the PA and Hamas or demand that they hold long overdue presidential and parliamentary elections. She could also demand an end to crackdown on freedom of speech under the PA and Hamas.

As a Palestinian-American Congresswoman, Rashida Tlaib should be working to build, and not destroy, bridges between her people and the US. Her fierce attacks on Israel and the US administration, however, embolden Palestinian hardliners and fuel hate against Israelis and Americans. (Photo by Christ Chavez/Getty Images)

Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib is apparently upset because she was not able to agitate against Israel during a proposed visit to her grandmother there.

"I would like to request admittance to Israel," she had written, "in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa. This could be my last opportunity to see her. I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit. Thank you, Rashida Tlaib."

When her letter was leaked to the media, however, Tlaib quickly backtracked:

"Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart."

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Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Afghanistan and an Opportunity for the West

by Lawrence A. Franklin  •  August 21, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • In the short term, al-Qaeda evidently wants to pressure the United States to withdraw from direct involvement in the Middle East. ISIS, on the other hand, wants to cleanse the region's Arab regimes of secular dictatorships, corrupt ruling elites and insufficiently devout Muslim intelligentsia.

  • There is, however, a serious complication. The Taliban-al-Qaeda coalition is now being challenged by increasingly strong ISIS forces in several Afghan provinces. The United Nations recently estimated that ISIS still have roughly $300 million at their disposal. Moreover, some "disaffected" or hardline Taliban fighters opposed to ongoing negotiations with the U.S. are defecting to ISIS.

  • The West should take no pleasure in the global competition between al-Qaeda and ISIS. It is a competition that incentivizes each terrorist network to upgrade its recruitment appeal for the next generation of jihadists.

  • In its effort to sustain a pro-Western regime in Afghanistan, the United States might instead take advantage of an opportunity already in place. In an area of such unrest, and where it is still unclear what the word of those making promises is worth, it might be wise to keep a modest footprint rather than withdraw all troops. To abandon the area totally, as President Obama abandoned Syria and Iraq, and then find it overrun with terrorist groups, would be, as one saw, a catastrophic mistake.... Although admittedly less than ideal, it still be might be far less costly in life and treasure, as with the Middle East, to safeguard the area and gather intelligence, rather than to leave and then have to go back. It is an opportunity that would be foolhardy to give up.

In its effort to sustain a pro-Western regime in Afghanistan, the United States might instead take advantage of an opportunity already in place... it still be might be far less costly in life and treasure to safeguard the area and gather intelligence, rather than to leave and then have to go back. Pictured: U.S. soldiers on patrol near Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2014. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

While the world's two most prominent and competing jihadist networks, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS), share the ultimate objective of establishing a global Islamic caliphate and ushering in the apocalyptic age of the Mahdi. Their intermediate goal seems to be replacing the liberal nation-state system with a worldwide Muslim Ummah. Their immediate aims are different.

In the short term, Al-Qaeda evidently wants to pressure the United States to withdraw from direct involvement in the Middle East. ISIS, on the other hand, wants to cleanse the region's Arab regimes of secular dictatorships, corrupt ruling elites and insufficiently devout Muslim intelligentsia.

Al-Qaeda and ISIS also differ in strategy, tactics, relations with fellow Muslims, treatment of non-Muslims and methods of proselytization.

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Denmark: How to Deal with Integration?

by Judith Bergman  •  August 20, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • How does a society deal with religious institutions that profess values which are the very opposite of the value system of the Western society in which they live?

  • "When I was in high school, there were around 50,000 people with a non-Western background in Denmark. Today, there are almost half a million. In one generation, our country has changed". — Lars Løkke Rasmussen, then prime minister of Denmark, January 1, 2019.

  • The Integration Barometer -- which measures the degree of assimilation in the municipality among young people with a non-Western background -- showed that almost one third of 18-29 year-olds (31%) believe that "religious and cultural laws must be adhered to, even though they may be contrary to [Danish] law". The issue, then, is whether these young people believe that Islamic sharia law should take precedence over Danish law.... In addition, the number of youths who view democracy in a positive light has fallen from 86% in 2016 to 79% in 2018.

  • It recently came to light... that a committee under the government's Ministry of Church Affairs, which is responsible for formally approving mosques in Denmark, has been handing out approvals for them without knowing "whether they [the mosques] were ruled from abroad, whether women's rights were suppressed, or there were other problematic conditions". Formal approval of a mosque means that the mosque becomes eligible for tax benefits and is permitted to bring foreign preachers to Denmark on a special visa.

  • When the association behind the mosque [asked]... to be approved as a religious community, it had in its statutes a provision saying it operated under the supervision of Iran's 'Supreme Leader', Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. At first, this news was a matter of concern for the Ministry of Church Affairs, but then Ahlul Bait simply rewrote its statutes and the ministry gave its approval.

In his New Year's speech on January 1, 2019, Denmark's then prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, mentioned that religious parallel societies constitute a problem and that immigrants need to learn to "put secular laws over religious ones". (Photo by Rune Hellestad/Getty Images)

Earlier this year, in his New Year's speech, Denmark's prime minister at the time, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, mentioned that religious parallel societies constitute a problem and that immigrants need to learn to "put secular laws over religious ones".

What, however, if, in the community involved, there seems no desire to do that?

"When I was in high school", Rasmussen continued "there were around 50,000 people with a non-Western background in Denmark. Today, there are almost half a million. In one generation, our country has changed".

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Latest Antics from the Israel-Bashing Industry

by Andrew Ash  •  August 20, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • Rashida Tlaib had asked to go to "Palestine," which so far does not exist, on a trip arranged and co-sponsored by a Palestinian not-for-profit organization, Miftah, headed by longtime Israel-antagonist, Hanan Ashrawi. The group is described by Becket Adams in the Washington Examiner as "an exceptionally anti-Semitic group that praises Palestinian terrorists and claims Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover. The organization also publishes Neo-Nazis and calls for the destruction of Israel." Miftah has also called female suicide bombers heroes.

  • "I have never felt more Palestinian, than I have felt in Congress", she defiantly declared to the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights in April 2019. That does seem a bit rich, coming from the same woman who has taken succour in tweeting that Senators who supported a pro-Israel bill "forget what country they represent."

  • She simply seems uninterested in any type of protest that does not involve either noisy eviction or arrest, or in which she cannot get attention or be regarded as a victim. It is hard not to wonder what she is doing for her constituents. Is the wish to bash Israel actually what keeps the good voters of Michigan awake at night? And is anti-Semitism now the accepted new face of the Democrat party?

  • "I have to tell you, we have to understand first, what is the BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] movement? It's an anti-Semitic, basically genocidal movement that wants to see the end of Israel. So make no mistake, these are not moderates coming to visit Israel. Israel per its 2017 law has a right to prohibit activists, especially those who want to see it wiped off the map, from coming in." – M. Zuhdi Jasser, Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.

US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (left) had asked to go to "Palestine," which so far does not exist, on a trip arranged and co-sponsored by a Palestinian not-for-profit organization, Miftah, a group described in the Washington Examiner as "an exceptionally anti-Semitic group that praises Palestinian terrorists and claims Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover." (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D- Michigan) decided to pull the plug on the trip to Israel she was due to make, originally with her fellow "Squad" member, Ilhan Omar, after they both were invited on an official congressional trip but declined.

Although both Tlaib, and the equally outspoken Ms Omar, had initially been refused entry because of their radical views promoting the obliteration of Israel by boycotting it, being boycotted back was not part of the plan, it would appear. Tlaib was finally granted permission on "humanitarian grounds", after an emotive plea to Israel's Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, in which she set out her reasons for wanting to visit her Palestinian grandmother in the West Bank.

The newly minted congresswoman then back-tracked and has now decided to cancel the trip altogether.

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Spain: Law on Citizenship for Sephardic Jews Ends in Failure

by Soeren Kern  •  August 19, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The legislation's main barriers to Spanish citizenship have been obligatory exams on Spanish language and socio-cultural history, the need to travel to Spain and exorbitant fees and costs — all without any guarantee of success.

  • "We want to express our disappointment because this law, which was supposed to restore justice, has become increasingly complicated. If we observe the procedures, the prerequisites, the number of documents to be submitted, the certified translations, the fees, the language and culture exams and the need to travel to Spain, we cannot but wonder about the reason for all of these hurdles." — Jon Iñarritu García, a congressman representing the Basque Country.

  • Although official data on the number of Sephardic Jews who will have obtained Spanish citizenship under the 2015 law will not be available until all applications are processed... initial indications show that the law has failed to "right a wrong."

Spain today has one of the smallest Jewish communities in the EU. Fewer than 50,000 Jews currently live in Spain -- a fraction of the number who lived in the country before 1492, when they were forced to convert to Catholicism or leave the country. Pictured: The "El Transito" Synagogue in Toledo, Spain, which was dedicated in 1357. When the Jews were expelled in 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella gave the building to the Church. (Image source: Selbymay/Wikimedia Commons)

A piece of much-heralded legislation to grant Spanish citizenship to up to 3.5 million descendants of Jews expelled from the country in 1492 is about to end in failure: fewer than 10,000 Jews have been awarded Spanish passports ahead of an October 1, 2019 deadline.

Spanish leaders promised that the law — which entered into force on October 1, 2015 for a period of three years and was extended for one additional year — would "right a historic wrong" and demonstrate that more than 500 years after the Inquisition began, Jews are once again welcome in Spain.

The legislation, however, introduced so many cumbersome bureaucratic hurdles to obtain Spanish citizenship that most prospective hopefuls appear to have been deterred from even initiating the application process.

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After Epstein's Death, Time for Full Justice

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  August 19, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • Let me be clear: I never met Virginia Giuffre, who is now 36 years old. There is documented evidence that until she met her lawyers in 2014, Giuffre never accused me.... In one email, a well-known journalist urged her to include my name because of my fame, writing that although there is "no proof " that Dershowitz had sex with you, he is a "good name for your pitch." Giuffre then included me, but as someone who she met and did not have sex with.

  • And later, after meeting her lawyers who are seeking millions of dollars of compensation, she suddenly "remembered" having had sex with me in seven different locations, despite incontrovertible documentary evidence that I could not have been at those locations during the relevant time periods. The bottom line: There is not a scintilla of evidence corroborating Giuffre's accusations against me.

  • Here is the truth: Secret Service and other records prove that the Gores and [Bill] Clinton were never on Epstein's island. She vividly remembered spending her "sweet 16" birthday celebration with Epstein, but her employment records prove – and she now concedes – that she didn't meet Epstein until a year after she turned 16. This means she was above the age of consent at the time she claimed to have had sex with Epstein's friends. It is not just me, the Gores and Bill Clinton that Giuffre falsely accused.

  • The time has come to investigate Giuffre's claims. Months ago, I published and op-ed asking the FBI to investigate me, as well as my accuser and her lawyers... Lying under oath is a crime. I want both of our accounts fully investigated and the person not telling the truth to be prosecuted. I believe that false accusations of sexual misconduct, deliberately made to obtain money, is a serious crime.

Alan Dershowitz. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images for Hulu)

For nearly five years, I and my family have been victims of a premeditated, financially motivated effort to destroy me personally and professionally.

I believe if the authorities investigated the matter, they would conclude I was a victim of a serious crime. The suicide of Jeffrey Epstein last weekend has again raised the scandal involving him to national headlines.

One of Epstein's accusers, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has accused me of having sex with her when she was below the age of consent.

It is a false accusation, demonstrably so as more documented evidence has emerged that indicates the claims against me were suggested by others who stood to benefit financially by accusing me.

Let me be clear: I never met Virginia Giuffre, who is now 36 years old.

There is documented evidence that until she met her lawyers in 2014, Giuffre never accused me.

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The Extinction of Christians in the Middle East

by Giulio Meotti  •  August 18, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • "I don't believe in these two words [human rights], there are no human rights. But in Western countries, there are animal rights. In Australia they take care of frogs.... Look upon us as frogs, we'll accept that — just protect us so we can stay in our land." — Metropolitan Nicodemus, the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Mosul, National Catholic Register.

  • "Those people are the same ones who came here many years ago. And we accepted them. We are the original people in this land. We accepted them, we opened the doors for them, and they push us to be minorities in our land, then refugees in our land. And this will be with you if you don't wake up." — Metropolitan Nicodemus.

  • "Threats to pandas cause more emotion" than threats to the extinction of the Christians in the Middle East. — Amin Maalouf, French-Lebanese author, Le Temps.

Most Christian churches in and around Mosul, Iraq were desecrated or destroyed by ISIS. Pictured: The heavily damaged bell tower of Saint John's Church (Mar Yohanna) in the town of Qaraqosh, near Mosul, on April 16, 2017. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Convert, pay or die. Five years ago, that was the "choice" the Islamic State (ISIS) gave to Christians in Mosul, then Iraq's third-largest city: either embrace Islam, submit to a religious tax or face the sword. ISIS then marked Christian houses with the Arabic letter ن (N), the first letter of the Arabic word "Nasrani" ("Nazarene," or "Christian") . Christians could often take no more than the clothes on their back and flee a city that had been home to Christians for 1,700 years.

Two years ago, ISIS was defeated in Mosul and its Caliphate crushed. The extremists, however, had succeeded in "cleansing" the Christians. Before the rise of ISIS, there were more than 15,000 Christians there. In July 2019, the Catholic charity, Aid to the Church in Need, disclosed that only about 40 Christians have come back. Not long ago, Mosul had "Christmas celebrations without Christians".

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Could this Be the Year of Persian Poetry?

by Amir Taheri  •  August 18, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • Iran is one of few countries in the world where the list of celebrities at any given time includes a number of poets and where poetry recitals draw crowds that compete with those of pop-music concerts.

  • One of the first acts of Khomeini's regime was to have the young poet Saeed Soltanpour, abducted from his wedding ceremony, and executed on a spurious charge of "Communist militancy." Later, the poet Rahman Hatefi-Monfared, alias Heydar Mehregan, also a noted journalist, was put to death under torture in one of Khomeini's prisons.

  • Celebrating [Esmail ] Khoi's great poetical achievement would be a fit tribute to what three generations of Persian poets have achieved during almost a century of exceptional creativity. Nobel judges should not miss the opportunity to share the joy that modern Persian poetry has given lovers of poetry all over the world.

Whatever you may think of Iran, you are likely to acknowledge it as one of the oldest homelands of poetry. Any list of top poets from all over the world is likely to include at least one or two Persian names -- say Omar Khayyam or Molavi (Rumi). Pictured: Omar Khayyam. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Whatever you may think of Iran, you are likely to acknowledge it as one of the oldest homelands of poetry. Any list of top poets from all over the world is likely to include at least one or two Persian names -- say Omar Khayyam or Molavi (Rumi). Goethe believed that poetry has reached its peak of beauty with Hafez of Shiraz.

I know of only two countries, Iran and Russia, where poetry still finds a mass audience and poets could attain celebrity status.

Ask any Iranian who the persons they most admire are and you are likely to hear a list of poets -- from Ferdowsi and Saadi centuries ago to Iraj Mirza and Forugh Farrokhzad more recently. For the average Iranian, the poet is not only a creator of beauty but also the guardian of the nation's conscience. Iran is one of few countries in the world where the list of celebrities at any given time includes a number of poets and where poetry recitals draw crowds that compete with those of pop-music concerts.

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America Can Stop China from Dominating Artificial Intelligence--And Should

by Gordon G. Chang  •  August 17, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • The People's Republic of China, nonetheless, is already an AI powerhouse, and for America to maintain its edge—and to prevent U.S. tech from being used for exceedingly disturbing purposes —Washington should force U.S. companies to end cooperative AI projects in China.

  • The West should be seriously concerned: whoever wins at AI will both dominate the global economy and field the most destructive conventional military force.

  • Unfortunately, American companies are helping China's leaders in what many call—correctly—crimes against humanity. For instance, AI researchers from Microsoft, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Michigan State University gave keynote speeches at the Chinese Conference on Biometric Recognition in Xinjiang in August of last year on facial recognition, a social-control technology.

  • Some of Google's research is in China. The company has three AI operations there: the Google AI China Center in Beijing, established in 2017, and partnerships with China's two premier educational institutions, Peking University and Tsinghua University....If the labs remain open, the net flow of AI learning will be out of the U.S. into China.

  • Moreover, Chinese researchers, if they could not work for American companies in China, would not, as Vox suggests, necessarily find employment in their homeland. Some of those seeking research slots would follow other Chinese to the United States, and that would exacerbate one of Beijing's big AI vulnerabilities. "China's Path to AI Domination Has a Problem: Brain Drain," is the title of an August 7 article posted by the MIT Technology Review. The U.S. can make that crucial problem even more severe.

Chinese artificial intelligence. We need to ask what would happen if the world's most dangerous regime were to dominate the world's most powerful technology. Photo: Getty Images.

China, writes Amy Webb in Inc., has been "building a global artificial intelligence empire, and seeding the tech ecosystem of the future." It has been particularly successful, Webb, the founder of the Future Today Institute, believes. "China is poised to become its undisputed global leader, and that will affect every business," she notes.

Not everyone shares Webb's assessment that Chinese researchers are in the lead. America, after all, is home to most leading AI tech. The People's Republic of China, nonetheless, is already an AI powerhouse, and for America to maintain its edge—and to prevent U.S. tech from being used for exceedingly disturbing purposes, Washington should force U.S. companies to end cooperative AI projects in China.

Artificial intelligence permits machines to mimic human functions such as driving vehicles, recognizing spoken words, and playing games of skill like chess and Go.

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Is the Palestinian Authority Preparing for a New Intifada?

by Bassam Tawil  •  August 16, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • Needless to say, none of the Jews visiting the Temple Mount was involved in violence or any kind of "provocation." The only violence that took place at the holy site came from Palestinians, who attacked the policemen with stones and chairs and hurled insults at the Jewish visitors.

  • By calling the visits "incursions" and "raids," the Palestinians are trying to create the false impression that Jews are violently storming an Islamic holy site. The Arabic word Palestinians use to describe the visits: Iktiham (storm or break in). This rhetoric is meant to imply that the "extremist settlers" are carrying out a violent action against innocent Palestinians and their holy sites, thus signaling the Palestinians to rise to defend themselves and their mosque.

  • In the eyes of Palestinian leaders, Jews are always the "aggressors," while Palestinians are the perpetual "victims"... in the Palestinian lexicon, a Jew peacefully touring the Temple Mount is an "aggressor," while a Palestinian who throws stones and chairs at police officers and abuses the visitors is the real "victim." This is the image Abbas, Hamas and Islamic Jihad are seeking to create in the minds of their people and the rest of the world.

  • The total number of Palestinians killed in Syria since 2011 now stands at 3,989. Where is the outrage from Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip about that? It is reserved for a Jew peacefully visiting the Temple Mount. For them, such visits are far more important than 250 Palestinian children killed in any Arab country. This sums up the Palestinian leaders' attitude – ruinous disregard for the lives of their own children, and malign intentions for the Jews and their children.

An aerial view of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Israel. (Image source: Andrew Shiva/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 4.0)

The Palestinian Authority (PA) spent the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha this week inciting against Israel because of Jewish visits to the Temple Mount, or Haram al-Sharif in Arabic, in Jerusalem. The site is also sacred to Jews and Christians: it is where the First and Second Temples had stood before being destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BCE and by the Romans in 70 CE. (The Western Wall, or so-called Wailing Wall, sacred to Jews, an ancient retaining wall of the Temple Mount, is all that remains of them.)

Depicting the peaceful visits as "incursions by Jewish settlers and extremists," PA officials and media outlets accused the Israeli government of repeatedly carrying out "provocations and assaults against holy sites in Jerusalem, particularly Al-Aqsa Mosque."

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The Longest-Lasting Conspiracy Theory

by Denis MacEoin  •  August 15, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • "To try to defeat an irrational supposition – especially when it is firmly held by its proponents – with a rational explanation is virtually impossible. Any information that does not correspond with the conspiracy theorists' preferred social, political, or ethnic narrative is ipso facto false. Social scientists have described such theories as having a "self-sealing quality" that makes them "particularly immune to challenge." — Deborah Lipstadt, Antisemitism Here and Now, 2019 pp 7-8.

  • The lies about the State of Israel are amplified in the West through the "mainstream media", such as: The New York Times, The New Yorker, the BBC, The Guardian, MSNBC, and CNN. Churches join in, and of course the United Nations, as well as so-called human rights organizations where pretty well anything goes: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch.

  • This bias is well monitored by a number of websites that work to identify their inaccuracies and deliberate distortions about Israel, the IDF, or Palestinian terrorism. CAMERA, Honest Reporting, UK Media Watch, and BBC Watch all dissect bad reportage, and contact editors to request corrections.

How often have we seen commentaries concerning the situation in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, made with intensity, even passion, which purport to tell readers the "facts" about Israel? They often narrate falsehoods that might put to shame a string of fraudsters, conmen and conspiracy theorists.

It seems, at times, that there is no limit to anti-Semitic modern fantasies about the Jewish state of Israel that overwhelm the even older libels about Jews controlling world affairs, as in the totally fraudulent forgery of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Today, we are given to believe that it is Muslim Palestinian children who are slain by sneering Zionists and that the government of Israel works hand in hand with a global network of Christians and Jewish bankers, politicians, and media bosses.

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Iran: Using Torture, Execution to Defy Human Rights

by Uzay Bulut  •  August 15, 2019 at 4:00 am

  • "[T]orture is widely used against suspects after their arrest and in the pre-trial phase in order to extract a confession," in spite of the fact that "Article 38 of the Iranian Constitution bans all forms of torture and forced confessions." — Latest Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran, Iran Human Rights.

  • "In 2014, a man who had confessed to the crime but was absolved of all charges 48 hours before his execution was to be carried out was asked as to why he had confessed to a murder he had not committed. He answered: 'They beat me up so much that I thought if I don't provide a false confession I would die during the interrogation.'" — Latest Annual Report on the Death Penalty in Iran, Iran Human Rights.

  • "So far in 2019 [just the last six months] at least 140 people have been executed and 80% of them were charged with murder. At least two of them were juveniles, under the age of 18." — Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, a neuroscientist who fled to Norway from Iran, to Gatestone Institute.

  • "The escalation of military tension is something that the Iranian authorities are seeking, as a way of diverting all the world's attention to the Persian Gulf, thus enabling them to get away with abusing their own people. Leaders of the Islamic Republic consider the freedom-seeking Iranian people as their main threat." — Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam to Gatestone Institute.

As a result of torture during interrogation and a lack of a fair trial, many Iranians have been put to death unjustly. "So far in 2019 at least 140 people have been executed," according to the spokesperson for the NGO, Iran Human Rights. (Image source: iStock)

More than a dozen political prisoners in Iran recently launched a hunger strike to protest the unspeakable conditions under which they have been living since their incarceration for civil-rights activities, according to Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam, spokesperson for the NGO, Iran Human Rights (IHR).

Amiry-Moghaddam, a neuroscientist who fled to Norway from the Islamic Republic in the early 1980s, told Gatestone:

"Aside from being placed with often dangerous common criminals, many are in poor health. There is no hygiene in jail. They suffer from abuse at the hands of prison guards."

Amiry-Moghaddam went on:

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Killing Free Speech in Canada

by Judith Bergman  •  August 14, 2019 at 5:00 am

  • As has become standard in such cases, the charter contains no definition of what constitutes "hate", making it a catchall for whatever the Canadian government deems politically inopportune. This is all exhaustingly familiar by now: Germany already has legislation that requires social media platforms to censor their users. France is working on it.

  • The Conservative members of the committee... recommended instead that sanctions regarding hate crimes online or elsewhere should be dealt with under the appropriate sections of the Criminal Code. They also recommended that "The definition of 'hate' under the Criminal Code be limited to where a threat of violence, or incitement to violence, is directed against an identifiable group" and that "rather than attempting to control speech and ideas, the Government explore appropriate security measures to address all three elements of a threat: intent, capability and opportunity".

  • "Sickening ideologies which encourage individuals to take the lives of their fellow human beings have faced a concerning proliferation both at home and around the world. Yet sadly, Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Members of this Committee have tried to use these troubling events as a way to bolster their political fortunes. They have tried to paint anyone who doesn't subscribe to their narrow value set as an extremist." – Conservative Party dissenting opinion in "Taking Action to End Online Hate".

If Canada's government proves sympathetic to the new recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, the prospects for free speech in Canada look increasingly bleak. Pictured: The Parliament of Canada, in Ottawa. (Image source: Saffron Blaze/Wikimedia Commons)

In May, Canada launched a so-called Digital Charter, meant to promote "trust in a digital world". The charter contains ten principles, three of which deal with "hate speech and disinformation".

The charter, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, will target fake news and hate speech online. "The platforms are failing their users, and they're failing our citizens," he said. "They have to step up in a major way to counter disinformation. And if they don't, we will hold them to account and there will be meaningful financial consequences."

"The Government of Canada," the charter says, "will defend freedom of expression and protect against online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions. Canadians can expect that digital platforms will not foster or disseminate hate, violent extremism or criminal content."

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