These are all the Blogs posted on Wednesday, 18, 2012.
Wednesday, 18 July 2012
Jonathan Tobin's Good, But Also Slightly Off, Article
There are those who, thinking they are "pro-Israel" -- and therefore apparently immune to criticism from others who are "pro-Israel" -- wish that the Levy Report had never been written, and now wish that it would be buried, covered up with sand. Their reasoning seems to be that in explaining the legal history the authors of the Levy Report have made too good a case for Israel. That legal, moral, and historic claim includes the San Remo agreement and the clear intent of those who created the Mandates system for the League of Nations. One of those mandates was the Mandate for Palestine -- set up for the exclusive purpose of establishing the Jewish National Home (to metamorphose, when the time was right, into the Jewish State), just as other Mandates were set up for other purposes, to meet Arab and Kurdish and, in the case of Lebanon, impliedly a Christian-dominated realm and refuge as well, in the territories that formerly were part of the Ottoman Empire, but at the end of World War I, when that empire crumbled, were left in limbo. The only problem with the Levy Report is that it ought to have appeared not in 2012, but in 1967, after the Six-Day War, and it ought to have accompanied the swift and unapologetic annexation of "the West Bank" and a declaration by the Israelis that they were now taking the territory that was theirs by right, as the Mandates Commission and Professor Rappard (outraged when the British at the Cairo Conference in 1921 simply cut off all of historic Palestine east of the Jordan, and handed it over to a hastily-created "Emirate of Transjordan" which came into existence only in order to soothe the Hashemite Abdullah, who was jealous of his younger brother Feisal being given the throne of newly-created Iraq, and was making threatening feints in the direction of French-held Syria) would certainly agree.
Some of those who wish the Levy Report had never appeared apparently think Israel has done well by refusing to make publicly its overwhelming legal and moral case. Ever since the Six-Day War, successive Israeli governments have been supine and seemingly unable to recognize the vast propaganda campaign that was mounted against the Jewish state. Israelis themselves started to talk, and they still do, about "the Palestinian people" instead of, at every opportunity, holding up for inspection and ridicule that notion, and at the very least, taking care always to use the word "Palestinian" adjectivally, as in "Palestinian Arabs." Even today, the Israelis could make a point of doing so, and so could those who wish them well. What's preventing them from opposing, instead of parroting, the carefully-constructed language of the enemy who wishes them nothing but evil?
Here is an article by Jonathan Tobin. While it takes the right side, it contains statements that, if they are not typos, are examples of the very thing that should always be avoided. At the end of the article, I present two examples.
As I wrote last week, the release of a report establishing the legality of Israel’s presence in the West Bank issued by a panel of Israeli experts chaired by former Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy has been widely condemned. The attacks on Levy’s report have come from both those who support the Palestinians as well as Israelis and friends of Israel who oppose the settlement movement. Among the most prominent examples of the latter came in a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu organized by the Israel Policy Forum, a liberal group that came into existence to support the Oslo peace process and which has been eclipsed in recent years by the failure of the polices they promoted. The IPF letter takes the position that, if adopted by the government, the Levy report dooms the two-state solution to the conflict and “will strengthen those who seek to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist.”
While the concerns expressed in this letter are real, those who signed are mistaken not only about the impact of Levy’s report but also about how to build international support for Israel and the hope of peace. What the signers don’t understand is that it is the opposite tack — Israel’s abandonment of a position that would uphold its rights — that has done the most to convince the world the Jewish state is in the wrong and strengthened the resolve of the Palestinians to never accede to a compromise on territory and two states. While one document cannot undo the damage done by Oslo and 19 years of failed peace processing, the Levy report can at least begin to remind the world the Israeli-Arab conflict is not one of balancing Palestinian rights and Israeli security but the rights of two nations.[is Tobin here accepting the idea of "two nations" -- i.e., two "peoples" -- that is, accepting the heart of the Arab proaganda war against Israel, that rests firmly on the construct of this "Palestinian people"? And doesn't the Levy report remind the world of the very opposite, not that there are "two nations" -- the Jews and the "Palestinians" but, rather, the Jews and the Arabs, and the Arabs already possess 22 sovereign states, more than a thousand times the size of tiny Israel, with vast and unmerited wealth from an accident of geology? Why does Tobin here apparently agree that the issue is between "two nations" with one of those nations apparently being these "Palestinians" when he should be saying -- yes, it's a war, but not between two nations. It's a war between the Arab Muslims (and other Muslims, more distant but those who take Islam seriously, and do not have their own reasons for despising the Arabs - as the Iranians and Turks have in the past shown they do, and as a consequence made shaky informal alliances with Israel when their interests coincided) and the Infidel nation-state of Israel.
The Levy Report provides, in detail -- with many legal scholars, of the level of Julius Stone and Eugene Rostow, being quoted -- the brief for Israel. That state, the report maintains, correctly and unapologetically, has a right to hold onto every inch of the territory it took possession of in the Six-Day War. By that war no new legal claim was created, for that existed long before the Six-Day War. What changed was that now Israel could enforce its claim. The Sinai, not part of Mandatory Palestine, was different. In Gaza, which was assigned to Mandatory Palestine but seized and held by the Egyptians in the 1948-49 war, Israelis have simply decided the whole place is not critical, as are those parts of Judea and Samaria renamed the "West Bank," to Israel's survival. I would have thought that Tobin would say that what is at stake is what degree of autonomy can be given to the local Arabs, consonant with Israel's security needs. That's it, and that is exactly what Tobin seems to dismiss when he writes: "the Levy report can at least begin to remind the world the Israeli-Arab conflict is not one of balancing Palestinian rights and Israeli security but the rights of two nations." That sentence has it backwards, and the words chosen are also wrong. Here is how it ought to go: "The Levy report can at least begin to remind the world that the Jihad against Israel is not one about "the rights of two nations" but, rather, about how much autonomy the local Arabs can be given that would be consonant with Israeli security."
One of the letter’s most prominent signers, Shalem Center senior vice president (and COMMENTARY contributor) Rabbi Daniel Gordis, conceded in his op-ed published yesterday in Ha’aretz in which he explained his participation in the IPF letter, that its purpose was not to dispute Levy’s legal position. Indeed, it would have difficulty doing so from a Zionist frame of reference, as the rights of Jews to live and build in the West Bank was enshrined in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine which is the last internationally recognized sovereign in the area. Levy’s point is not that the West Bank only belongs to Israel, but that it is disputed territory to which both the Jewish state and the Palestinians may assert a claim. Those claims can only be resolved by negotiations that could end the conflict with a territorial compromise.
But Gordis and his colleagues believe the mere assertion of Jewish rights in the West Bank, even if it is accompanied as it has been by an offer to negotiate peace and territorial compromise, will never be understood by the world. They believe it will signal Israel’s unwillingness to ever make peace and doom the Jewish state not just to unending conflict but also to the problems that will arise from the presence of a large Arab population under its control. These worries are not without basis. Israel is assailed by the world for its perceived unwillingness to make peace, even though the history of the post-Oslo era has shown that the land for peace formula it embraced brought it neither peace nor security.
But what Gordis and the other 40 signers of the IPF letter miss is that by consciously downplaying its legal rights in the dispute, Israel has unwittingly strengthened the hand of those who oppose its existence, be it inside or outside the green line. By ceasing to speak of the justice of Israel’s case, the so-called “peace camp” played into the hands of those who think Jews have no more right to live in Tel Aviv than in Jerusalem or the most remote hilltop West Bank settlement.
Far from encouraging the Palestinians [Palestinian Arabs] to abandon their dreams of a “right of return” and the eradication of Zionism, the more Israel and its friends treat the West Bank and even Jerusalem as stolen territory, the less likely it is that the Palestinians will ever accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders will be drawn.
Indeed, if the Levy report has any impact on the Palestinians,[Palestinian Arabs] it is a reminder to them that their hopes of achieving the eviction of every Jew from the West Bank as well as from the portions of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967 are dead. If they wish to have a Palestinian [Palestinian Arab] state in the West Bank — something they were offered by Israel but refused in 2000, 2001 and 2008 — they must return to negotiations instead of sitting back and waiting for the Obama administration or the Europeans to pressure Israel into a unilateral withdrawal such as the disastrous 2005 retreat from Gaza.
Even the Obama administration has conceded that Israel will retain many of the settlements in a theoretical peace deal that will include territorial swaps. How can Israel hope to bargain for such an outcome if it is unwilling to state that Jews have every right to live in these towns and villages as well as in Jerusalem? [where is the discussion of Islam, and the fact that any further yielding of control over territory makes peace less likely to hold, even if it brings the ephemeral and meretricious consolation of a "peace treaty"?]
The assertion of Jewish rights is not incompatible with peace talks or even the surrender of much of the West Bank as part of a genuine peace accord. [here Tobin concedes too much -- why does he use, for example, the phrase "genuine peace accord"? Does he think, that in Islam, it is permissible to make a permanent peace with non-Muslims? Has he taken in, fully, what Islam inculates? What the Treaty of Hudaibiyya stands for? That is not facultative, that is a sine qua non for discussing Israel and the without-end Jihad against it, and to understand that whenever the word "peace" is used -- is in "land for peace" -- without writing it, correctly, as "peace treaty," one is accepting and promoting Arab propaganda designed to make us continue in our ignorance of Islam, and the goals, perfectly apparent to other Arabs and Muslims, of those who have manufactured the "Palestinian people" -- "Arabs and Kurds," "Arabs and Berbers," but all of a sudden, the local Arabs who are the shock troops of the Jihad against Israel have become "the Palestinian people." It's absurd.] It is hard to imagine such talks succeeding under any circumstances in the absence of a sea change in the political culture of the Palestinians that would enable them to live with a Jewish state.[and why does Tobin here not write, as he should have: "in the absence of a sea change in the political culture of the Palestinian Arabs, and a change -- impossible of course -- in the texts and tenets and attitudes and atmospherics of Islam. It can't happen. So instead of confusing a "peace treaty" which because of Islam can only be a "truce treaty" with the Infidels, those who wish for an absence of open war should do everything they can to make sure that Israel is not only much stronger than its enemies, militarily (morally, it always was and will be) but that they understand fully how overwhelming that power is. And for that to happen, Israel has to hold onto the territory between Qalqilya and the river Jordan, territory to which it is fully entitled by the League of Nations, and what's more, a right that has been amply reinforced by the numerous wars forced on Israel by its Arab neighbors beginning with that which tried to snuff out the life of the Jewish state at its birth. Not a treaty, but deterrence, is what keeps the peace between Israel and its enemies, who will continue to wage Jihad, but if Israel holds on, there are other forces at work that will lead, that are leading, to a military weakening of its immediate neighbors, and to an economic weakening of those who have battened on the oil and gas revenues. And there are ways to divide and demoralize the Camp of Islam which not only Israel, but the entire menaced West will have to start to promote, instead of trying to save Muslims from the consequences -- political, economic, social, intellectual and moral -- of Islam itself.] But they have no hope of succeeding so long as the Palestinians think Israel can be made to give up all of the land without peace. Nor will the international community ever support an Israel they believe has “stolen” Palestinian land.
A generation of abdication of Jewish rights to the West Bank has not softened the hearts of the world or the Palestinians. If Israel is ever to negotiate a peace that will bring security, it must start by saying that it comes to the table not as a thief but as a party whose legal rights must be respected.
In "Notes On A Century" Bernard Lewis notes the decline in standards in his own profession -- history -- and especially in Middle Eastern history, where a cabal of Muslims and their non-Muslim collaborators have, at MESA and in departments, some of them bought and paid for by the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs (cf. Exeter, Durham, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown, the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at ditto, and so on), have managed to drive out, or to discourage from ever entering, many potentially good students and scholars.
Perhaps the most comical of the beneficiaries of this decline, down to less than zero, in academic standards is Mark LeVine. He is now a columnist for -- unsurprisingly -- Al Jazeera. I won't repeat here what I've written about him before. It's ducks in a barrel.But I do want to present one of those pictures worth a thousand words -- the photograph that Mark LeVine offers of himself to the world:
Mark LeVine Mark Levine is professor of Middle Eastern history at UC Irvine, and distinguished visiting professor at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in Sweden and the author of the forthcoming book about the revolutions in the Arab world, The Five Year Old Who Toppled a Pharaoh.
Mark LeVine is an emerging leader of the new generation of historians and analysts of the modern Middle East and Islam.
... taught Qur'an to Muslim Brothers,
LeVine trusts no one, is suspicious of all sources and all authority. He is not afraid to tell the truth based on the facts and data he can personally confirm, and will challenge the actions and opinions of rulers and ruled, oppressed and oppressor alike.
His wide and deep knowledge of the politics and history of the entire region (from North Africa to Afghanhistan), its religions and its cultures, gives him unique insight into the broader dynamics that have produced the events that constantly dominate the news.
Need anything else be said?
Perhaps you thought that reading Qur'an and hadith and sira, accompanied by hundreds of articles and dozens of books, might help one to understand a belief-system that, unlike Mark LeVine, is not "suspicious of all sources and all authority" and indeed, is based entirely on "sources" and "authority." From what do Sheikh Tantawi, Qaradawi, the "Sunni scholars" of Anbar Province, Ayatollah al-Sistani, Ayatollah Khomeini, and the imams with their khutbas in Saudi Arabia, receive their authority, if not from their familiarity with, and understanding of, the canonical texts? When, on a thousand websites, inquiring Muslims write in, asking for opinions on taxes and hairstyles and avoiding interest and the calculation of zakat and the possibility of permanent peace with Infidels, on what do those offering their opinions and formal rulings base them - if not the authority of the texts, and the commentators on those texts? Yet someone like Mark LeVine, who rushes about the wide world, who is a great believer in his own experiences - teaching Qur'an to Muslim Brothers, interviewing Hamas members, and whatever else it is that he has done (no need for boring book-learning in the stacks) - discounts all that. He, after all, is part of the "new generation of historians and analysts" who are suspicious of "all sources" and "all authority." One wonders by what criteria he decides to stop being suspicious, and to accept any scholarly work by anyone. At what point, for example, would he say that Snouck Hurgronje or Antoine Fattal, to take two disparate examples, have passed all of Mark LeVine's tests and need not be read with such a total refusal to accept "all sources" and "all authority"? It appears that Edward Said and Noam Chomsky are among those who, as "sources" and "authority," have passed some Mark-LeVine-tests. What tests would those be? Perhaps others can apply the same criteria?
And who else meets the test? Does John Esposito? Does Ibn Warraq? What does Mark LeVine think, since he reads German, of Christoph Luxenberg? And since he reads Italian, this polymath, what does he think of the cofanetto of four works by Oriana Fallaci, all on the subject of Islam, and the Islamization of Europe? Anything? Nothing?
Mark LeVine believes that "the West" - or more specifically, America, or Amerika, is also guilty of "terrorism." It is things that America has done that explain hostility to it. It has nothing to do with America being perceived as an Infidel power. Nor do the world's Muslims bear any animus to anyone outside the West, such as Hindus and Buddhists (or the Zoroastrians of Persia), with whom they have always gotten along so swimmingly. And if a handful of historians, such as K. S. Lal or Sita Ram Goel or Francois Gautier, suggest otherwise, they are simply puppets of the BJP and Hindutva fanatics.
He believes that we all need a cooling-off period. There is nothing in Islam itself, as a belief-system, to worry about. Nothing about the behavior of Muhammad, and then of Muhammad as a model, to worry anyone. Nothing in the hadith, and of course nothing in the Qur'an, that might, just might, cause Believers to behave in a way that might represent a permanent danger to Infidels.
That is because Mark LeVine doth bestride the world like a colossus. He knows languages - many many languages (just try him out in a debate - try speaking to him in French, or Turkish, -- and of course he can also make out Ottoman script as well as modern Turkish - and Italian, and of course Arabic and Hebrew and Persian. A. K. S. Lambton, Bernard Lewis, S. D. Goitein - these people have nothing on him, and he is not about to submit to their "authority." Goitein spent a few decades trying to understand the weight of the jizya on the Jews, and finally felt he had done so, after a lifetime of underestimating it as a burden. But Mark LeVine doesn't have to know what Goitein learned, because he has traveled to the Middle East, and spoken to Hamas members, and even "taught Qur'an to Muslim Brothers."
Did Goitein, did Snouck Hurgronje, did Margoliouth, did Joseph Schacht do that? Can anyone who hasn't wandered through North Africa and the Middle East really and truly undrerstand it? Books are so overrated. The study of the past is so overrated. The study of immutable doctrines, and the hapless attempts by some "reformers" to overcome the immutability of those doctrines, is so overrated. What counts is Experience.
It is a little like Nabokov. He once regretted that he had, in his life, only been a writer, whereas so many American writers had been lumberjacks, soda jerks, oil field hands, taxi drivers, and short order cooks, amassing all those experiences which, of course, had caused their prose to be immortal and his prose - well, you can forget about him. And didn't James Joyce also have a dozen different occupations as well?
So Mark LeVine indeed does represent the newest stage in scholarship: the scholar who doesn't have to bother with scholarship. There is no past. The past exists only if we let it. Say No to the Past. Stick with the present. See what you can see. And since you cannot see into the minds of men, and do not know what it is - what texts, what sermons and societies and atmospherics and attitudes that are based on, or emerge from, those texts - that forms their minds, they will always be a mystery.
Did Arafat mention on at least four occasions the Treaty of al-Hudaibiyya? So what? What is that supposed to mean?
And so what if Majid Khadduri wrote a book which many consider to be the last word on the subject - "War and Peace in the Law of Islam" - in which he sets out clearly the impossibility of any Muslim people or polity making a permanent peace with any Infidel people or polity. Khadduri explains that a "hudna" is to be used only in order to strengthen the Muslim side, or to rescue it from a currently untenable position. For example, it is clear that some members of Hamas believe that the Israeli counter-offensive has been quite damaging, and that Hamas needs a timeout. Yes, but why should Israel give it to them?
And it is also clear that many Muslims are now worried about Infidels learning just a bit too much, and becoming a bit too alarmed, about Islam - about its doctrines, about what Muslims believe, and about the future of Infidel countries where there are large and growing Muslim immigrants. Transparent attempts to protect Islam and Muslims from critical scrutiny, such as the invention, and widespread use, of the scare-word "Islamophobia," are evidence of this fear.
The "Conflicts Forum" of Alistair Crooke, Patrick Seale (who has been in the business of supplying every - and I mean every - desire of Arab paymasters since he was throwing parties for important Arabs, and inviting some attractive young English girls of a special sort to his house in Eaton Square in the 1970s), and the propagandist and public relations adviser to Arafat & Co., Mark Perry, discussed elsewhere at this website, is another example.
And now comes Mark LeVine to embody this new mode of anti-academic academics, where deep familiarity with the texts can be dispensed with, as one can learn so much more from real life, in Beirut and Gaza, in Cairo and Damascus. Scholarship without scholarship - that is the new motto for a new age. And why not?
Perhaps you prefer Mark LeVine to Schacht, Margoliouth, and Antoine Fattal. Perhaps you think Mark LeVine's understanding of the "hudna" is superior to that of Majid Khadduri. But why?
Mark LeVine must really tell us what it is about Snouck Hurgronje on Mecca and Islam in the Dutch East Indies, what it is about Fagnan and Dufourcq and Bousquet and Bat Ye'or on Jihad and dhimmitude, what it is about the Indian historian K. S. Lal and about Francois Gautier, Haish Narain and Sita Ram Goel and a dozen other historians of India under Muslim rule, and what it is about Rumanian historians of Islam (Maria-Matilda Alexandrescu-Dersca Bulgaru) and Bulgarian students (Bistra A. Cvetkova; Snegarov) and Greek historians (Speros Vryonis Jr. and Apostolos E. Vakalopoulos and Vassiliki Papoulia), and Serb historians (including the celebrated writer Ivo Andric, whose Ph.D. thesis, "The Development of Spiritual Life in Bosnia Under the Influence of Turkish Rule" has recently been published in English) that makes him so distrustful of all of them. Is it some internal inconsistency? Is it that they did not know the relevant languages? Is it that they had not had the life experiences, talking to Hamas members, teaching Qur'an to members of the Muslim Brothers, that Mark LeVine has had?
And how well, really, did Majid Khadduri know Arabic? And what did he know about how Muslims think of war, and peace, with Infidels? Did he talk to Hamas members? Or lecture members of the Muslim Brothers? Just how long had Majid Khadduri been studying Islam before he wrote his own book on "War and Peace in the Law of Islam"? Did he get on "Nightline"? Why not? And for that matter, did Elie Kedourie? Or J. B. Kelly? What about his views on Saudi Arabia? Do they have any resemblance to reality? Doesn't the Aramco Handbook tell us so much more, being written as it was for the edification of the real-life oil workers and engineers who spent years right there in Saudi Arabia -- even more time in the midst of Arab Islam than Mark LeVine, and so, presumably even greater experts than he?
And since Mark LeVine is apparently impressed with Edward Said and Noam Chomsky, those two lifelong students of Islam, could he explain what it was about each that made him trust in them as sources, and in their authority? Was there something about Said's "Orientalism" that escaped the historian of British India Clive Dewey? Or that Ibn Warraq failed to notice in his own review of Said's work? Or Keith Windschuttle? Or Bernard Lewis in his celebrated reply to Said, "The Question of 'Orientalism'"? And what was it that caused Mark LeVine to have such confidence in Said's own "The Question of Palestine"? For example, was it the way Said used, or did not use, the testimony of Western travellers, beginning in the late 18th century, to the area known to the West as "Palestine"? Why, for example, does he quote Volney in his "Orientalism" but for some reason leave Volney out of "The Question of Palestine"? Anything about the use of sources there that got Mark LeVine's antennae quivering? What about the quotations, or lack of quotations, from the eyewitness accounts of the Holy Land, of which there were so many? Does Mark LeVine find at all strange the difference, for example, in how Lamartine and Chateaubriand and Mark Twain and Melville are quoted, or not, in Said's book, and how they are quoted in a book of equal length, Katz's "Battleground"?
And as for Chomsky, what with the Sandinistas and syntactic structures, has Chomsky ever had time to study Qur'an and hadith and sira -- or to take seriously a belief-system, and attempt to understand what prompts Muslims to see the universe as many do, by actually looking at the texts upon which that belief-system is so thoroughly based? Does Mark LeVine worry the least bit about a belief-system that offers a Total Explanation of the Universe, and divides that universe mainly into two groups -- Believers and Infidels? Or is this all a fantasy of Donald Rumsfeld, aided and abetted by such neo-con Likudniks as Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the late Pim Fortuyn and Theo van Gogh, right-wingers all?
Yet, these criticisms surely must be unfair. For otherwise, how could Assistant Professor Mark LeVine possibly have concluded the following about Assistant Professor Mark LeVine: "His wide and deep knowledge of the politics and history of the entire region (from North Africa to Afghanhistan), its religions and its cultures, gives him unique insight into the broader dynamics that have produced the events that constantly dominate the news."
Mark LeVine is an updated academic version of Dickens' Mr. Podsnap in "Our Mutual Friend":
Mr. Podsnap was well to do, and stood very high in Mr. Podsnap's opinion. Beginning with a good inheritance, he had married a good inheritance, and had thriven exceedingly in the Marine Insurance way, and was quite satisfied. He never could make out why everybody was not quite satisfied, and he felt conscious that he set a brilliant social example in being particularly well satisfied with most things, and, above all other things, with himself.
Thus happily acquainted with his own merit and importance, Mr. Podsnap settled that whatever he put behind him he put out of existence. There was a dignified conclusiveness - not to add a grand convenience - in this way of getting rid of disagreeables which had done much towards establishing Mr. Podsnap in his lofty place in Mr. Podsnap's satisfaction. "I don't want to know about it; I don't choose to discuss it; I don't admit it!"
Perhaps you trust Mark LeVine, who doesn't want to know about all those scholars, doesn't choose to discuss them at length, doesn't admit the justice of their decades of scrupulous research. He knows better. He has been to the Middle East. He has talked to Hamas members and Muslim Brothers. They tell him things. What more does anyone need?
Perhaps you agree as well with Mark LeVine's guiding motto, that mental bumper-sticker which tells him always to "Question Authority."
GAZA CITY -- Scores of Christians in the Gaza Strip organized a sit-in Tuesday at the Greek Church of Gaza to protest what they call the "kidnapping” of five Christians by an unknown Islamist group seeking to forcibly convert them to Islam.
A smaller protest was held Monday at the church in which Christians, who have long complained of persecution in Gaza, demanded that Hamas, which controls the seaside territory, return the five individuals.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said in a statement Tuesday that the five people had met with their family members and affirmed that they had not been forced to convert.
Family members of the five Christians believe the young man, a woman and her three children are being held against their will by a Hamas lawmaker, and say that it is impossible that they have changed their beliefs.
"If my son is not kidnapped, why don't they just let him go home with me?" asked Huda Amash, mother of Ramez Amash, 25, the missing young man. “My son was brought up as a Christian. His love of Jesus is strong enough to keep him Christian. He cannot change his beliefs all of a sudden."
The Hamas police, however, said the five people had not been kidnapped and that they have converted to Islam voluntarily and without any pressure. Hamas officials said the individuals are staying with a Muslim family under the protection of the police.
Christian leaders in Gaza say there are about 1,500 Christians in Gaza, down from about 3,500 in 2008.
-- Ahmed Aldabba
Photo: Hana, left, and Huda, parents of Palestinian Ramez Amash, hold a picture of their son in their home on Tuesday. Credit: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images
"Israel has blamed Iran after a bus packed with Israeli tourists was blown up at a Bulgarian airport, killing at least seven people and leaving dozens more wounded.
'The bus was carrying around 40 Israelis (that is, 40 Jews from Israel - CM) who had just arrived at Burgas Airport on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast.
'Witnesses described a huge explosion followed by a fire which ripped through the bus.
'The fire then spread to other nearby buses.
'Witnesses described a scene of carnage, with body parts scattered around the burned-out wreckage.
'There are conflicting reports that the explosion was caused either by a suicide bomber or by a bomb hidden in the luggage.
'Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran for the blast (that is, identified Islamic Iran as the attacker - CM) and said Israel would respond.
"All the signs lead to Iran. Only in the past few months, we have seen Iranian attempts to attack Israelis in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other places", he said in a statement.
He needs to speak even more plainly. He could have said, "we have seen Islamic Iran, motivated by genocidal Shiite Jew-hatred, attempting to kill Jews from Israel in Thailand, India, Georgia, Kenya, Cyprus and other places..." - CM.
"Eighteen years exactly after the blast at the Jewish community centre in Argentina, murderous Iranian terror continues to hit innocent people.
Genocidal Shiite Muslim Jew-hatred (which is just as virulent as Sunni Muslim Jew-hatred and issues from the same sources, from the core texts of Islam) continues to motivate attacks upon Jews world-wide. - CM
"This is an Iranian terror attack that is spreading throughout the entire world. Israel will react powerfully against Iranian terror."
He should have said: "we are fully prepared to use deadly force to defend ourselves against the genocidal Jihad that is waged against us - as against all other non-Muslims - by the world-wide Ummah, or Muslim Mob, whether in its Sunni or its Shiite manifestation." - CM
'Bulgarian foreign minister Nikolai Mladenov confirmed that the explosion was caused by a bomb.
"The vast majority of the dead and the injured are Israelis," Israeli foreign ministry's deputy spokesman Paul Hirschson told the AFP news agency.
'The attack came on the 18th anniversary of a 1994 bomb attack on the headquarters of Argentina's main Jewish organisation by an Iranian-backed Hezbollah suicide bomber, which killed 85 people.
That is, "a 1994 bomb attack...carried out by an Arab Muslim Hezbollah 'Army of Allah' murder-'martyr', under the direction of fervently Shiite Muslim Iran, which mass-murdered 85 Jews."- CM
'Burgas airport was cordoned offa fter the attack, with flights being diverted to nearby Varna airport.
'The incident was not reported by Iranian media, and there was no immediate Iranian reaction to the Israeli accusations.
So what, O ABC and AFP. Benjamin Netanyahu would not have publicly identified Islamic Iran as the attacker, had he not had very good reason for doing so. - CM
'One witness who was in a nearby bus described how, "the bus next to us exploded and burst into flames".
"We began to escape from bus number four and run away. All the Israelis gathered and we started counting heads to see who was still around and who wasn't".
'Another said: "We sat in the back, me, my grandmother and my mum, and we heard a very loud bang, and we jumped out the window. The bus began to burn and there were screams. People got out and ran".
'The attack happened in a popular resort area.
Bombings of buses do not just 'happen', like the weather. They are planned and executed by human agents. Let's get rid of that passive voice and switch to the active. "The attackers struck in a popular resort area". Or, 'The bomber or bombers attacked in a popular resort area". - CM
'There had been a threat of possible attacks, and the Israelis had warned Bulgarians in January that they should tighten up security because they were concerned about an incident.
Because they had reason to suspect that the Shiite Muslim Jew-haters were plotting something . - CM
'White House spokesman Jay Carney condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms".
Post scriptum. This mass murder of Jews was carried out by Muslims in Bulgaria: in a country whose indigenous Christian population - having been invaded and overwhelmed and cruelly subjugated by Turkish Muslims - endured for terrible centuries the crushing humiliation, degradation and perpetual physical peril of dhimmitude. When they rebelled, hundreds of thousands of Bulgarian Christians were butchered by their Muslim overlords, in all sorts of horrible ways; there were, for example, the massacres in 1875-76, massacres that were denounced in fiery speeches, and an unforgettable pamphlet entitled 'Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East', by one of Britain's great Prime MInisters, Gladstone, he who once famously held up a Koran in the House of Commons, calling it 'this accursed book' and declaring that so long as it continued in existence, there would be no peace in this world. I have "Hugh Fitzgerald" to thank for telling me about the work of one Ivan Snegarov, whose book "Turkish [sic: Turkish Muslim - CM] Rule as an Obstacle for the Cultural Development of the Bulgarian People and the Other Balkan Peoples [that is, of the Bulgarian and other Balkan non-Muslim peoples - CM] " , was published in 1958. Hugh supplied a list of sub-headings from chapter three of that book, 'the forced decrease of the Christian Population', which sub-headings included 'displacement and extermination of the conquered populations before the mid-fifteenth century' and 'slaughter of the Christian population during the 16th-18th century' and 'violence and cruelty during the Russian-Turkish Wars and Insurrections in Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria'.
In the end, the indigenous Bulgarian non-Muslims prevailed, and achieved their independence, and threw off the iron yoke of the dhimma, and drove out most of their Muslim tormentors; though they may come to regret not having driven them all out, to the last one, for today Bulgaria still contains just under a million Muslims, mostly of Turkish ethnicity though there are some descended from Bulgarians who gave up and joined the Mob, becoming Muslims during the period of Turkish Muslim imperial rule. The petrodollar-funded fomenters of Jihad and pushers of Sharia have been busy amongst them of late; for the Ummah, or Mohammedan Mob, is deeply resentful of the loss of any part of the planet where it once dominated, and the fact that the abused dhimmis of Bulgaria gained their freedom is as great an insult to Islam as is the existence and persistence of the Jewish state of Israel.
The Muslim slogan runs 'first the Saturday people, then the Sunday people'.
The people and government of majority non-Muslim Bulgaria - Bulgaria that, exactly like Christian-and-Jewish eretz Israel, was invaded and colonised and domineered over by Muslims and then, exactly like eretz Israel, miraculously freed itself - should bear grimly in mind the fact that the Jihad which has just murderously struck at Israeli Jews on Bulgarian soil may - tomorrow, or the day after - strike equally murderously at Bulgarians, again on Bulgarian soil, and with the same fundamental aim: to assert the dominance of Islam, to terrify and crush a people who are perceived, resentfully, as 'uppity dhimmis', as former serfs who require to be made once more to know their place, beneath the boot of merciless and capricious Muslim overlords.
In the wake of this Jihad ghazi raid within Bulgaria it would be good to see Bulgaria, in the United Nations, resolutely and defiantly voting with Israel, and against the Islamintern.
â€œI cannot forget the sight of body parts scattered around the busâ€�: Israeli Eyewitness at Bulgarian Terror Bombing Scene
Bulgarian Israeli Tourist Bus Bombing
154 Israeli vacationers, including eight children, on board a flight to the Bulgarian Black Sea tourist destination of Burgas landed at 5:00PM, Wednesday. After landing, the group boarded three buses. Suddenly an explosion ripped apart the third bus instantly killing six Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver injuring more than 35 others, including three in critical condition. The other buses were set on fire by the blast. There was an indication that an unknown person many have boarded the bus detonating the explosives, a possible suicide bombing of the type that Israelis have learned to fear most.
Watch this RT report on the Burgas terror attack on Israeli tourists:
Eyewitnesses among the Israeli tourist described the horror of terror in this CNN report:
Oren Katz, who was on a bus next to the one that blew up, together with his wife and three children, described a bloody scene.
“The moment we got on (the bus), we heard a very loud explosion. It was the third bus next to us. Everyone started running in all directions. There was a big chaos,” he said.
“We took our children with us and ran as far as we could away from the explosion. My oldest daughter is handicapped, so I decided to run back in order to pick up her wheelchair.
“There was a big blaze of fire, and we were not allowed to come near. Suddenly, I noticed an unconscious woman lying next to me, very close to the burning bus. I picked her up together with another man, and we managed to drag her out of the fire that was about to catch her body in seconds.
“I cannot forget the sight of body parts scattered around the bus. Ambulances and fire trucks have just started to arrive.”
President Obama called it a ‘barbaric terrorist act”. In his statement he went on to say:
As Israel has tragically once more been a target of terrorism, the United States reaffirms our unshakeable commitment to Israel's security, and our deep friendship and solidarity with the Israeli people," said Obama, who later called Netanyahu to express his condolences.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States is prepared to assist Bulgaria and Israel in bringing those responsible to justice.
However as the CNN report indicated: “Neither she nor Obama mentioned Iran in their statements.”
Israeli PM Netanyahu unlike President Obama and Secretary Clinton was emphatically clear about who might have perpetrated this dastardly act:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed the finger at Iran, saying it has been behind a string of recent attempted attacks on Israelis in Thailand, India and Georgia, among others.
"All the signs (are) leading to Iran," he said. "This is a global Iranian terror onslaught and Israel will react firmly to it."
Last weekend, the Cypriot government with assistance from Israel foiled what could have been a disastrous attempt to destroy an Israeli aircraft in another popular vacation spot for Israelis. PM Netanyahu noted in his remarks:
Cypriot police arrested a Lebanese suspected of plotting an attack against Israeli interests in the Mediterranean island, the Cypriot media reported on Saturday. On his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to denounce the "Iranian terrorism" after this arrest. "The Iranian terrorism has no borders. After Iran sent its men to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States, its attacks in Azerbaijan, in Bangkok, Tbilisi, New Delhi and Africa, it has now revealed its intention to perpetrate a terrorist attack on the soil of Cyprus," said Netanyahu.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center in a bulletin sent by email noted that today was the 18th Anniversary of the AMIA Jewish Center Bombing in Buenos Aires that killed more than 85 Argentine Jews and Israelis injuring many others. The perpetrator was Hezbollah terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyeh.
In February 2012, we posted on the Iconoclast that the terrorist events PM Netanyahu referred to in his remarks last weekend coincided with the Fourth Anniversary of Mughniyeh’s assassination in a bombing of his vehicle in Damascus. We noted the connections:
[Mughniyeh] was the organizer of the 1992 Buenos Aries Israeli Embassy bombing that killed 29 injuring more than 242 persons and the bombing in 1994 of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 injuring hundreds. Mughniyeh figured prominently in the trial record of the recent Iran Links case decision in the Southern District Court of Manhattan as the key figure who facilitated transit between Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iran for the so-called Hamburg cell of 9/11 perpetrators.
There was speculation in the wake of today’s terror bombing of Israeli tourists in Burgas, Bulgaria that PM Netanyahu might use this as a predicate for the much discussed possible attack on Iran’s nuclear program. Like the foiled Cypriot plot where a Lebanese national suspect was arrested, the suspicion is that a Hezbollah proxy might have been the perpetrator of the Burgas terror bombing. Overarching the earlier attempts and today’s terror bombing in Bulgaria is the supposition that the orchestrator was Iran’s special ops intelligence unit, the Qod’s Force. All the fingerprints appear to be present. Perhaps Bulgarian and Israeli forensic investigations will unearth those connections between proxy and Iranian Qod’s Force masterminds.