Binyamin Netanyahu seems to have been the target of some ugly — if off the record — barbs from President Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Speaking privately (they thought) following a news conference in Cannes last week, Sarkozy said “I cannot bear” Netanyahu, adding that he was “a liar.”
“You’re fed up, but I have to deal with him every day,” Obama responded. The conversation was captured on microphones monitored by the press; the French media held back the news for several days before it was reported by a French photo agency Tuesday, and confirmed by a Reuters reporter who also heard the conversation.
This is not exactly a bombshell: It has been known for some time that Obama has poor personal relations with Netanyahu, and blames him for the impasse in the Mideast peace process. Sarkozy, whose government just broke with Washington to vote in favor of Palestinian membership in UNESCO, could be expected to feel the same way.
But are their feelings justified? Though Netanyahu has never been an easy partner for Western leaders, it’s hard to see why he would inspire so much animus from the two presidents now.
Since taking office in early 2009, around the same time as Obama, Netanyahu has been mostly responsive to the U.S. president’s initiatives despite heading a rightwing coalition that views concessions to the Palestinians with distaste, to say the least. Early on he announced his acceptance of Palestinian statehood, something he has never done; he responded to Obama’s misguided demand for a freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem by imposing a six-month moratorium.
Earlier this year Netanyahu reacted angrily when Obama blindsided him with a speech publicly calling on Israel to accept a territorial formula for a Palestinian state based on its pre-1967 borders, with swaps of territory. Less noticed is the fact that the Israeli prime minister has since accepted those terms.
Though Netanyahu has recently allowed new settlement construction, it mostly has been in neighborhoods that Palestinian leders have already conceded will be part of Israel in a final settlement. This week he told his cabinet that West Bank outposts declared illegal by the Israeli Supreme Court would be uprooted.
In other words, Netanyahu has been an occasionally difficult but ultimately cooperative partner. He can be accused of moving too slowly and offering too little, but not of failing to heed American initiatives. And Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas? For five of the six months of the Israeli settlement moratorium he refused Obama’s appeals to begin negotiations; after two meetings, he returned to his intransigence. Rejecting a personal appeal from Obama, he took his bid for statehood to the United Nations, where he may yet force the United States to use its Security Council veto.
France last month joined an appeal from the Mideast diplomatic “quartet” — the United States, European Union, Russia and United Nations — for Israel and the Palestinians to return unconditionally to negotiations. Netanyahu accepted. Abbas said no.
Abbas, it’s fair to say, has gone from resisting U.S. and French diplomacy to actively seeking to undermine it. Yet it is Netanyahu whom Sarkozy finds “unbearable,” and whom Obama groans at having to “deal with every day.” If there is an explanation for this, it must be personal; in substance, it makes little sense.
The U.N. envoy to Libya reports that weapons depots in that country remain unguarded and large amounts of weaponry have gone missing, including thousands of shoulder-fired missiles. At least two sites contain chemical weapons and nuclear material, including approximately 7,000 drums of uranium. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro says terrorist groups have expressed interest in obtaining the missiles, which “could pose a threat to civil aviation.”
The Daily Telegraph reports that Libyan rebel leader Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi has admitted that a significant number of the Libyan rebels consisted of al-Qaeda fighters, many of whom fought U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Numerous news outlets report that in the last two weeks, scores of al-Qaeda flags have been raised over Benghazi and throughout Libya, including over the headquarters of the Libyan rebels.
Given the evident allegiances and sympathies of many of the Libyan rebels, what is the probability that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups will acquire, or already have acquired, at least some of the missing Libyan weapons?
Do we have any basis for determining how many of the chemical weapons and drums of uranium are missing?
Is Libya a lesser threat to U.S. security now than it was a year ago, or is it a greater one?
(Reuters) - Defense Minister Ehud Barak played down on Tuesday speculation that Israel intends to strike Iranian nuclear facilities, saying no decision had been made on embarking on a military operation.
"War is not a picnic. We want a picnic. We don't want a war," Barak told Israel Radio before the release this week of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran's nuclear activity.
"(Israel) has not yet decided to embark on any operation," he said, dismissing as "delusional" Israeli media speculation that he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had chosen that course.
But he said Israel had to prepare for "uncomfortable situations" and ultimately bore responsibility for its own security.
All options to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions should remain open, Barak said, repeating the official line taken by Israel, which has termed a nuclear-armed Iran a threat to its existence.
Israel is widely believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, something it has never confirmed or denied under a policy of strategic ambiguity to keep Arab and Iranian adversaries at bay.
Ahmad Vahidi, Iran's defense minister, cautioned against any military strike on its atomic facilities. "We are fully prepared for a firm response to such foolish measures by our enemies," Vahidi was quoted as saying by Iran's student news agency.
Western diplomats said the report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog is expected to show recent activity in Iran that could be put to developing nuclear bombs, including intelligence about computer modeling of such weapons.
Iran says its uranium enrichment program is aimed at generating electricity only.
"I estimate that it will be quite a harsh report ... it does not surprise Israel, we have been dealing with these issues for years," Barak said.
He voiced doubt, however, that the U.N. Security Council, where Tehran's traditional sympathizers China and Russia have veto power, would respond to the IAEA's findings by imposing tough new sanctions following four previous rounds of measures.
"We are probably at the last opportunity for coordinated, international, lethal sanctions that will force Iran to stop," Barak said, calling for steps to halt imports of Iranian oil and exports of refined petroleum to the Islamist Republic.
Such steps, he said, "will need the cooperation of the United States, Europe, India, China and Russia -- and I don't think that it will be possible to form such a coalition."
Moscow has called for a step-by-step process under which the existing sanctions would be eased in return for actions by Iran to dispel concerns over its nuclear program.
At a news conference in Berlin, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said "militarist statements to the effect that Israel or other countries use force against Iran or any other country in the Middle East" represented "very dangerous rhetoric."
Speculation in Israel about an imminent attack on Iran was fueled last week by the Jewish state's test-launching of a long-range missile and comments by Netanyahu that Tehran's nuclear program posed a "direct and heavy threat."
Pressed in the radio interview about a military option, Barak said he was aware of fears among many Israelis that a strike against Iran could draw catastrophic retaliatory missile attacks by Tehran and its Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah allies.
"There is no way to prevent some damage. It will not be pleasant," Barak said. "There is no scenario for 50,000 dead, or 5,000 killed -- and if everyone stays in their homes, maybe not even 500 dead."
Israel held a wide-scale civil defense exercise last week, a drill that Israeli officials said was routine and scheduled months ago.
Interviews by Reuters with government and military officials, as well as independent experts, suggest that Israel prefers caution over a unilateral strike against the Iranians.
Iran has repeatedly said it would respond to any attack by striking U.S. interests in the Middle East and could close the Gulf to oil traffic, causing massive disruption to global crude supplies.
Many countries like Russia and U.S. allies Germany and France have opposed any strike against the Islamic Republic, saying it could cause "irreparable damages," suggesting that the dispute should be resolved through diplomatic means.
The United States says it remains focused on using diplomatic and economic levers to pressure Iran.
William McCants, One More Expert On "Combatting Violent Extremism" Explains Away The Black Flag Of Islam
A mysterious Islamist banner has been popping up across the Middle East, from Benghazi to Lebanon. Is it a simply a sign of faith or the battle flag of al Qaeda?
[N.B.:for William McCants the Black Flag isn't worrisome because it could be "Simply a sign of faith" -- but what does that mean? What is that faith? What does that faith inculcate? Good God.]
BY WILLIAM MCCANTS|NOVEMBER 7, 2011
Recent days have seen a spate of stories about a mysterious flag appearing in Benghazi, Libya: a black banner that reads "No god but God" in distinctive white lettering with what could be a reproduction of the Prophet Mohammad's seal underneath.
"Were it not for the deficiencies of reporting on Libya in the mainstream Western media," writes John Rosenthal in the National Review, "the appearance of al-Qaeda flags in the capital of the anti-Qaddafi rebellion should come as no surprise." Writing for Vice, Sherif Elhelwa reports that he even saw the flag flying atop the famous Benghazi courthouse that became a hotbed of resistance in Muammar al-Qaddafi's waning days, and that his efforts to find out why it was there were met with suspicion and threats.
Some observers are concerned its appearance presages a growing al Qaeda presence in the country. Others question whether the flag is actually that of al Qaeda, noting that some nonviolent Islamist groups like Hizb al-Tahrir use a similar flag -- and that they, like al Qaeda, are simply following oral traditions about the design of the Prophet Mohammad's battle flag.
Comment: This casual and unconcerned description of Hizb al-Tahrir, described as a "nonviolent Islamist group" - as if it were not implacably, murderously hostile to Infidels --amazes. Still more amazing, and worrisome, is that this remark is made by William McCants, a man who"most recently served as senior advisor on countering violent extremism in the U.S. State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism."
The picture of the flag in question in Benghazi is unclear, but it resembles that of al Qaeda Iraq's umbrella group, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), which is not identical to those used by other Islamist groups, nor is it necessarily a faithful reproduction of the Prophet's battle flag. When the ISI adopted the flag, it issued a statement in 2007 explaining its design. In the statement, the group relates oral traditions portraying Mohammad's battle flag as either black or white (other traditions say yellow) with the words "No god but God, Mohammad is the messenger of God" written on it. The ISI chose black for its flag because most accounts say the Prophet's flag was black, and chose the Muslim testimony of faith because many accounts said it was written on the Prophet's flag.
For the second half of the testimony of faith, "Mohammad is the messenger of God," the ISI reproduces the Prophet's seal. They contend that the seal's design is preserved in Ottoman manuscripts and its three-lined text, "God/Messenger/Mohammad," is mentioned in oral traditions about the Prophet. They have added this seal to their flag, they explain, because some Muslim scholars say that it appeared on the Prophet's flag.
The ISI ends its explanation by expressing its hope that the people of Iraq will adopt the flag when they go out to aid the Mahdi, an allusion to a messianic figure who will appear at the end of times to lead the final battle against the infidel and establish God's rule over the entire Earth. According to a number of traditions, the Mahdi will carry the black flag when he comes from the east.
Many supporters of al Qaeda have adopted the ISI's flag as their own and use it as an emblem for the wider jihadi movement. Its appearance in Benghazi certainly raises questions about the sympathies of some within the movement that ousted Muammar al-Qaddafi, adding to widespread reports of fighters sympathetic to al Qaeda among the rebels.
Nevertheless, the appearance of the flag in other Arab countries is not necessarily evidence of growing support for al Qaeda or terrorist group's presence. It could just as easily be youth taking advantage of their newfound freedom to scare their elders, or repressed Salafis using the most shocking symbol possible to voice their anger in public. There is also an element of "Wish You Were Here" photography to many of the photos of the ISI's flag being unfurled around the Arab world and posted in jihadi forums. This is not to say that the appearance of the flags, particularly in protests, should be ignored. But more corroborating evidence is needed before hitting the panic button.
What follows are some examples of similar flags popping up across the region over the last few months.
William McCants, the founder and co-editor of Jihadica, is a research analyst at CNA's Center for Strategic Studies and an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University. He most recently served as senior advisor on countering violent extremism in the U.S. State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism.
Americans Suddenly Discover That Pakistani Schools Inculcate Hatred Of Hindus (And Other Non-Muslims)
From the San Francisco Chronicle:
US commission: Pakistan schools teach Hindu hatred
November 8, 2011
ISLAMABAD, (AP) --
Text books in Pakistani schools foster prejudice and intolerance of Hindus and Christians, while most teachers view religious minorities as "enemies of Islam", according to a study by a U.S. government commission released Wednesday.
The findings indicate how deeply ingrained hardline Islam is in Pakistan and help explain why militancy is often supported, tolerated or excused in the country.
"Teaching discrimination increases the likelihood that violent religious extremism in Pakistan will continue to grow, weakening religious freedom, national and regional stability, and global security," said Leonard Leo, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Pakistan was created in 1947 as a homeland for the Muslims of South Asia and was initially envisaged as a moderate state where minorities would have full rights.[who thought this? Who, knowing Islam, could ever for a minute have thought this?] But three wars with mostly Hindu India; state support for militants fighting Soviet-rule in Afghanistan in the 1980s; and the appeasement of hardline clerics by weak governments seeking legitimacy have led to a steady radicalization of society.
Religious minorities and those brave enough to speak out against intolerance have often been killed, seemingly with impunity, by militant sympathizers. The commission warned that any significant efforts to combat religious discrimination, especially in education, would "likely face strong opposition" from hardliners.
The study reviewed more than 100 textbooks from grades 1-10 from Pakistan's four provinces. Researchers in February this year visited 37 public schools, interviewing 277 students and teachers, and 19 madrases, where they interviewed 226 students and teachers.
The Islamization of textbooks began under the U.S.-backed rule of army dictator Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, who courted Islamists to support his rule. In 2006, the government announced plans to reform the curriculum to address the problematic content, but that has not been done, the study said.
Pakistan's Islamist and right-wing polity would likely oppose any efforts to change the curriculum, and the government has shown no desire to challenge them on the issue.
The report found systematic negative portrayals of minorities, especially Hindus and, to a lesser extent, Christians. Hindus make up more than 1 percent of Pakistan's 180 million people, while Christians represent around 2 percent. Some estimates put the numbers higher. [at Partition, 15% of the population of what was then West Pakistan -- before the Bangladeshi War -- was non-Muslim.]
There are also even smaller populations of Sikhs and Buddhists.
"Religious minorities are often portrayed as inferior or second-class citizens who have been granted limited rights and privileges by generous Pakistani Muslims, for which they should be grateful," the report said. "Hindus are repeatedly described as extremists and eternal enemies of Islam whose culture and society is based on injustice and cruelty, while Islam delivers a message of peace and brotherhood, concepts portrayed as alien to the Hindu."
Attempts to reach Pakistan's education minister were not successful.
The textbooks make very little reference to the role played by Hindus, Sikhs and Christians in the cultural, military and civic life of Pakistan, meaning a "a young minority student will thus not find many examples of educated religious minorities in their own textbooks," the report said.
The researchers also found that the books foster a sense that Pakistan's Islamic identity is under constant threat.
"The anti-Islamic forces are always trying to finish the Islamic domination of the world," read one passage from a social studies text being taught to Grade 4 students in Punjab province, the country's most populated. "This can cause danger for the very existence of Islam. Today, the defense of Pakistan and Islam is very much in need."
The report states that Islamic teachings and references were commonplace in compulsory text books, not just religious ones, meaning Pakistan's Christians, Hindus and other minorities were being taught Islamic content. It said this appeared to violate Pakistan's constitution, which states that students should not have to receive instruction in a religion other than their own.
The attitudes of the teachers no doubt reflect the general intolerance in Pakistan — a 2011 Pew Research Center study found the country the third most intolerant in the world — but because of the influence they have, they are especially worrisome.
Their views were frequently nuanced and sometimes contradictory, according to the study. While many advocated respectful treatment of religious minorities, this was conditional upon the attitudes of the minorities, "which appeared to be in question," the report said. The desire to proselytize was cited as one of the main motivations for kind treatment.
According to the study, more than half the public school teachers acknowledged the citizenship of religious minorities, but a majority expressed the opinion that religious minorities must not be allowed to hold positions of power, in order to protect Pakistan and Muslims. While many expressed the importance of respecting the practices of religious minorities, simultaneously 80 percent of teachers viewed non-Muslims, in some form or another, as "enemies of Islam."
Policy Madness: Obama Promises Erdogan, Our Enemy In NATO, American Drones
Turkey Eyes U.S. Drones In PKK Fight
by Dorian Jones ISTANBUL -- Ankara is claiming a major diplomatic triumph after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he recently received a commitment from U.S. President Barack Obama to allow Turkey to use U.S. Predator drones.
The drones are seen by Ankara as a decisive weapon in its battle against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the Kurdish rebel group.
"The atmosphere seems to be that Turkey did indeed receive a positive reply from the U.S. that some of those Predators currently in Iraq will be transferred to Incirlik and potentially made available for the use of the Turkish military," says former Turkish diplomat Sinan Ulgen, a visiting research fellow at the U.S.-based Carnegie Institute.
Turkish diplomatic sources suggest Washington had resisted for years Turkish requests, citing its need for the drones in its war against Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
Ulgen says Obama is rewarding Turkey for its support in the region, in particular its decision to participate in NATO's antimissile system, which Washington says is aimed at countering threats from rogue states including Iran.
"The big element in this equation was Turkey's acceptance for hosting the early warning radar, for the missile-defense initiative, and now Ankara's policy with regard to Damascus has been closely concerted with Washington," Ulgen says. "Now the two sides are on the same page -- and [in] part of that overall equation the U.S. gave [a] positive signal regarding...the Predators to Turkey."
The drones are seen as potentially key in the Turkish armed forces' fight against the PKK. Until recently it had used Israeli-made Heron drones. But their use has been severely curtailed since Israeli technical support ended. Ankara severed all military ties in September following Israel's deadly assault last year on a Turkish aid ship, the "Mavi Marmara," seeking to break the embargo on Gaza. According to Turkish media reports, six Herons sent to Israel for repair have not been returned.
Tensions with Israel could still pose problems for Ankara's goal of securing new drones.
"This is not a secret. This topic is being influenced by the Turkish-Israeli relations" said Alexander Vershbow, the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security.
A U.S. Predator unmanned drone leaves its hangar at Bagram air base in Afghanistan in 2009.
It also remains unclear whether the U.S. Congress would need to ratify the drones' use by Turkey.
Asked about Erdogan's claim, a Pentagon spokesperson would only say, "The United States strongly supports Turkey in its fight against terror and will continue to work with the government of Turkey to combat terrorism in all its forms."
The spokesperson added that the United States was "committed to continuing our engagement and consultation with Congress on Turkey's defense needs."
The official did confirm that the Defense Department had notified Congress of a "possible foreign military sale" to Turkey of three AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters, along with training and logistical support, at an estimated cost of $111 million.
A Pentagon press release said the proposed sale "will improve Turkey's capability for self-defense, modernization, regional security, and interoperability with U.S. and other NATO members."
No Simple Task
Turkey's own defense industry is developing its own drones but has suffered several setbacks; those unmanned aircraft are not expected to enter service until late next year at the earliest.
There is added urgency for the Turkish armed forces with the PKK stepping up its fight, killing 24 soldiers last month in one of the largest and deadliest operations carried out by the group in decades. The attack was launched by the rebels from bases in neighboring northern Iraq.
"The biggest problem for Turkey in fighting against terrorism is the infiltration of PKK terrorists from northern Iraq," says Metehan Demir, a defense journalist for the Turkish newspaper "Hurriyet." "Turkey has been trying to take measures to stop the infiltration but always failed. Predators are one of the key instruments to survey the area from the air -- also some of them armed."
According to a Turkish diplomatic source, U.S. drones operating in Iraq are already providing "real-time, actionable" intelligence on PKK members based in Iraqi territory. But that supply of information is likely to end with the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq due at the end of the year. The Turkish armed forces are increasingly turning to technology in the battle against the Kurdish insurgency. Drones are part of Ankara's wider strategy, according to defense journalist Demir.
"Turkey for a long period tried to use soldiers -- thousands upon thousands of soldiers on the rocky mountains on the southeastern part of Turkey," Demir says. "Now we understand it is not that easy to hold the border. Because if you know the area, it is very rocky and mountainous; also, it's a huge border. Therefore you should closely observe and professionally track the terrorists. And this will be possible with the help of technology."
Time Frames And Determination
The Turkish prime minister has indicated that Ankara expects U.S. drones to be deployed this spring at the latest. That would coincide with the deployment of more than 5,000 newly trained elite counterterror police officers and professional soldiers. Until now, much of the fight against the PKK was done by conscripts.
Cengiz Aktar, a political scientist of Istanbul's Bahcesehir University, says the success of the Sri Lankan government in its wiping out of a similar decades-long insurgency by the Tamil Tigers group is influencing thinking in Ankara.
"In Ankara among the so-called specialists, antiterror action specialists mainly, for these people the Sri Lankan final solution of May 2009 is very attractive and they think they can do it," Aktar says. "The problem is that the conflict did not start in the so-called Kandil Mountains; did not start with PKK. It's a 100-year-old problem, and it could be solved only at the negotiation table."
The government has committed itself to introducing a new constitution that it claims will address many of the demands of its Kurdish minority. But at the same time, security forces have detained more than 1,000 members of the country's main, legal, pro-Kurdish party under antiterror laws since June's general elections.
Defense journalist Metehan says it's unclear which direction Erdogan is heading in resolving the PKK conflict, but he believes he is determined to do so.
"Some people who voted for Erdogan started to say the only thing that Erdogan cannot solve so far is terrorism, [and] Erdogan is very well aware of such critics," Metehan says. "In behind-the-scenes meetings, he says this issue will be solved as soon as possible during this government's term. Therefore, he can take surprise steps in the coming months. Maybe he will be more nationalist, or he will be more diplomatic. We really don't know, but there is a plan in his mind and we will see this plan in the coming months."
Drones are widely seen as the United States' most potent weapon in its counterinsurgency campaigns, which is why the Turkish Army is attaching such importance to their acquisition. Their deployment, observers say, can only add to those voices who argue that the insurgency can still be defeated militarily.
Sarkozy Called Papandreou "Crazy" and "A Depressive"
Nov. 8, 2011
Selon les information du Parisien, Nicolas Sarkozy a qualifié de "fou" et " de dépressif" le Premier ministre grec Georges Papandréou au cours d'une conversation -censée être privée- avec son homologue américain Barack Obama, jeudi dernier lors du sommet du G-20 à Cannes.
La discussion entre les deux chefs d'État a pu être entendue par plusieurs journalistes français, via les boîtiers destinés à assurer la traduction, pendant un entretien bilatéral entre Sarkozy et Obama qui se déroulait juste avant une déclaration à la presse.
Selon le Parisien, ils ont jugé que Papandérou avait commis une énorme énorme erreur en annonçant un référendum sur le plan de soutien européen avant d'y renoncer.
Le site Arrêt sur image avait déjà révélé lundi qu'à cette occasion, le président français avait qualifié de "menteur" le Premier ministre israélien Benyamin Nétanyahou. "Tu en as marre de lui mais moi, je dois traiter avec lui tous les jours!", lui avait répondu Barack Obama, selon la traduction de son interprète en français.[notice that Obama did not agree with Sarkozy; he simply said "I've got to deal with him every day" -- an unpleasant remark, but not on the level of "he's a liar"]
Those Translators In Their Box, Or Up-Close Chuchotage?
An audio system gone awry, or not turned off, or made accessible to too many, so that they could hear the translators translating what Sarkozy said to Obama and what Obama said to Sarkozy, is what has allowed to world to listen in.
The more traditional way, when one bigshot meets another at the Elysee for a little chat or negotiation, or the White House, or their equivalent, is that the translators sit right next to those for whom they are translating, and whisper, whisper, whisper --hence that beautiful word "chuchotage" which is used universally by translators, and not just the in-and-out-of-French ones.
The word puts me in mind of the Muslim fears about Satan, Shaytan, always whispering whispering whispering, into the ears of Muslims, trying to lead them astray. The Higher Chuchotage.
Malacca will amend its state Islamic enactment to prosecute gays and lesbians by applying the same type of Syariah legal mechanism used against deviant Muslim sects.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said homosexuals and lesbians could be tried at the Syariah Court once the enactment was gazetted as Syariah law. “We will revise the current enactment to specifically deal with homosexuals and lesbians in the state, including groups that promote such uncanny sex,” he said
Mohd Ali, who is also Malacca Islamic Religious Department chairman, said the enactment had to be revised as there was no specific law at present to prosecute such groups. “We will suggest the enactment to also cover bisexuals and transsexuals,” he said, adding that action could also be taken against any non-governmental organisation promoting and supporting such sexual practices. “We don't want such unsavoury culture creeping in and damaging the moral fabric of our society,”
Just to give you a sense of how frightened I am, I tell you this: I’m more frightened of Islam than I am of being called a bigot or an Islamophobe.
Now I don’t think I am an Islamophobe because I don’t think my fear of Islam is irrational, and phobia, when used properly, signifies an irrational fear.
These days, lots of people improperly use the word Islamophobia to describe people who are critical, skeptical or fearful of the Muslim faith.
If that’s your definition, then I am an Islamophobe, but I don’t think your definition is accurate.
I think you are just trying to shut me up.
I’m afraid of Islam for a number of reasons:
First, I am afraid because of its teachings regarding non-Muslims, Christians and Jews especially. A number of sources that comprise the Muslim tradition about such things call for Jews to be subjugated and oppressed.
This bothers me. I happen to be a Christian myself and a lot of my friends are Jews. Because I am a Christian and have Jews as friends, I’m predisposed to be fearful toward movements, religious or otherwise, that call for the subjugation of Christians and Jews.
I’m funny that way.
These days, if Christians are being murdered, there is a good chance Muslims have done the killing. Not every Muslim behaves this way, of course, but these days, the people who do are usually Muslims, and they use the Koran to justify their behavior.
And a plain-text reading of the passages in the Koran they use to justify their actions indicate that they are standing on solid ground in their interpretation. They aren’t coming out of left field, so to speak.
When the Koran tells Muslims to fight non-Muslims until they submit, it seems reasonable for Muslims to think that the Koran calls on them to fight and kill non-Muslims until they submit.
That scares me.
And while some Muslims condemn this behavior and assert that Islam is a religion of peace, they don’t seem to be making much headway in convincing their co-religionists of the error of their ways.
That, too, scares me.
I also do no not like Islam’s teachings regarding women. By my lights, Islam institutionalizes hostility toward women and that makes me sad and frightened.
I like women.
I married one.
She has gifted me with two beautiful daughters I hope to see grow up as women living in a free society. I do not want them to wear burkas, or subject to violence because they do not. That happens in areas where Islam is present. Muslims do not have to be the majority population in a country for this to behavior to manifest itself, but when they are the majority in a country, it seems to happen on a regular basis.
I am also frightened by the message Islam sends to men. Instead of encouraging men to work to get along with one another and to treat the women in their lives with greater respect, it encourages them to dominate the people around them.
Instead of constraining the male propensity to violence, which seems to be rooted in our evolutionary psychology, Islamic scriptures seem to inflame and direct it at non-Muslims, Muslims with different understandings of the faith, and women.
That is not a good thing.
That is a bad thing.
Another reason why I am afraid of Islam is its teachings regarding democracy, free speech and the right to individual conscience. The religion’s teachings regarding these principles are antithetical to the functioning of a free society.
I like living in a free society.
Shariah law is a catastrophe for the women and non-Muslims who live under it, but it’s also not much fun for Muslims themselves who want to leave the faith or behave or have a differing interpretation of the faith.
It should also be noted that when Muslims are killed by terrorist acts, it is most likely Muslims who have done the killing, giving me reason to believe that there are at least some Muslims who are, like me, afraid of Islam. Maybe they are Islamophobes too. We need more of them
I am also afraid of Islam because of the way some of its adherents respond to criticism and theological challenge. Muslims often resort to violence to protect their faith’s reputation among believers and non-believers and its position as the dominant force in the societies in which it exists.
If you say that Islam is not a religion of peace because, well, a fair number of Muslims have killed people in the name of Islam, you might get killed for denying that Islam is a religion of peace.
Prominent Muslim leaders call for people who criticize or leave the religion to be killed. Muslims act on these instructions often enough to scare me. A number of writers and artists have been killed or driven under ground by the threat of violence.
I can’t draw very well, but I do fancy myself a writer and I don’t want to go on the lam for saying something critical of a religion adhered to by more than 1 billion people.
People tell me I should be heartened by the existence of some passages in the Koran that call on Muslims to acknowledge the rights to individual conscience in matters of religion, but I am not, because these passages, have, according to influential Muslim scholars, been abrogated or superseded by more violent passages that came later in Mohammed’s career.
I am also frightened by the way some Muslims work to obscure the tenets of their faith to the rest of the world. They gloss over obvious problems with the religion’s teaching toward non-Muslims and women and then tell the non-Muslim world that it is they who are bigots because of their fear of the religion or suspicion of the religion.
I am also frightened by how Islam teaches its adherents that they need to take over the world in the name of Islam, and use force and deception if necessary, in the pursuit of this goal. Muslim extremists have been able to manipulate international governmental institutions such as the United Nations, and non-governmental organizations, such as the World Council of Churches to further these goals.
I am not just frightened of Islam. I am also frightened by its apologists who seem intent on protecting the religion from scrutiny, analysis and criticism.
Some of these apologists aren’t even Muslim.
Prominent and influential scholars have based their careers on defending a faith not their own, especially when its adherents do bad things. Liberal concern over Islamophobia seems to erupt not when Muslims are attacked by non-Muslims, which frankly doesn’t happen as often as people seem to think it does.
Instead, concern over Islamophobia comes to the fore when Muslims kill people in the name of Allah. When this happens, the anti-Islamophobia brigade comes forward and tells us Islam had nothing to do with the violence, even though Muslim clerics have in fact, called on their followers to kill people.
It has happened.
Here’s how it breaks down.
Muslim Imams call on Muslims to kill people invoking passages from the Koran. They don’t seem to be torturing the passages to say something they do not mean. A plain-text reading of the verses they quote seems to encourage people to Muslims to attack non-Muslims.
A Muslim follows these instructions, shouts Allahu Akbar (an Islamic battle cry meaning “God is greater!” or more to the point, “Our God is greater!”) in the course of his attack, and then tells the people who captured him he did it in the name of his religion.
Afterwards, people come forward tell us we can’t be sure why he killed all those people, so, don’t even think of blaming Islam for this, because it’s the religion of peace you’re talking about, you Islamophobic bastard.
The weird thing is that when a Westerner, particularly a white male Westerner, does goes on a rampage and kills people, people are pretty quick to attribute this violence to a religious or ideological viewpoint and hold the people who espouse this viewpoint somehow responsible for violence they did not commit even though they have never called on anyone to kill anyone.
I am also frightened at the way people who point out Islam’s tendency to oppress non-Muslims have been mercilessly attacked, bullied and have had their names blackened by non-Muslim intellectuals who view themselves as defending individual rights and freedom.
I am also frightened by the way many Western intellectuals who have studied Christianity and Judaism and condemned the hateful passages of their scripture have an irrational fear, a phobia if you will, of analyzing hateful passages in the Koran.
This is not just weird.
It is scary.
I am also frightened by way people who defend the rights of Muslims to practice their religion without acknowledging that the religion calls for the rights of non-Muslims to be diminished or abrogated.
In the West, Muslims claim their right to propound their faith, which when it achieves the majority in a society, denies non-Muslims the right to propound or practice theirs.
This is a conundrum that I do not how to resolve and it frightens me. I know people have a right to practice their religion, but what if their religion calls on its followers to impede my right to practice mine?
What if this religion declares notions of individual conscience and individual freedom to be a human invention and a violation of God’s will for humanity?
Then what am I supposed to do? Worry about being a bigot?
In light of this, the prospect of Islam spreading out into the world farther out from where it currently resides frightens me. It frightens me a lot.
As I said, it frightens me even more than the prospect of being called a bigot or an Islamophobe.
If worrying about Islam’s impact on the safety of Jews and Christians makes me an Islamophobe, then I guess I’m an Islamophobe.
If worrying about the impact of Islam on the rights of women, gays and lesbians makes me an Islamophobe, then I guess I am an Islamophobe.
If worrying about Islam’s impact on civil society in Europe and the United States, makes me an Islamophobe, well then, I am an Islamophobe.
And if worrying about the impact of Islam on international politics makes me an Islamophobe, then I am an Islamophobe.
If not wanting to live under the shadow of the Koran, the way people (Muslim and non-Muslims) do in the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, and even parts of Europe makes me an Islamophobe, well I guess I am an Islamophobe.
DUDLEY Muslim Association’s defence to Dudley Council’s application to buy back land at Hall Street has been thrown out by the High Court.
A judge made the decision yesterday, which has been welcomed by council bosses.
The council lodged the court bid to pursue the buyback clause, which maintained the council was entitled to buy back the Hall Street land, if the mosque was not substantially underway by December 31, 2008.
However council bosses confirmed they would go back to court to get any future amended defences thrown out, which would ensure the matter is resolved without the need for a full High Court hearing, currently scheduled for the end of 2012.
During the hearing the judge also made reference to any future legal action from the DMA could obstruct a practical solution being worked out between the parties.
Illegal Afghan Asylum Seekers in Serbian Town Gang Rape British Tourist
A tip of the hat to our intrepid colleagues at Vladtepesblog who sent us this graphic report on what occurred in the wake of an influx of Afghan and Somali asylum seekers in a Serbian Spa town on the Drina River, Banja Koviljaca. The tourist community is located 137 kilometers from Belgrade on the western border. Over 2,500 Somali and Afghan asylum seekers have inundated this small community of 6,500.
Separately, the vladtepesblog website has been the subject of more than five DDOS attacks so far this week from locations in Holland and Germany.
Note this background report courtesy of Valdtepesblog from Austrian Times on the incident and the contrast with The Daily Mirror report:
The brutal gang rape of a British woman by five Afghan refugees has sparked a massive protest against illegal immigrants in a Serbian spa town. The 38-year-old woman – who bravely managed to film the attack on her mobile phone – was repeatedly raped after befriending a group of Afghan men in a park in Banja Koviljaca. Despite handing the video footage to police, only one alleged attacker – identified by police only as Abdurashid D., 25 – has been arrested. Now local mothers have told police they are boycotting local schools from next week (Nov 7) unless they clear out a local refugee centre containing more than 2,500 illegal immigrants which was built to hold just 120.
“These people are always hanging around the parks and streets during the day causing trouble,” said one mum. “They have no respect for us, no respect for women and we want them gone because they have no right to be here. “My daughter isn’t going to school again while four refugee rapists are still on the streets,” she added.
The British victim had travelled to Serbia after striking up a Facebook friendship with a man who told her he lived in a town called Lozinca. When she couldn’t find him, the woman flew on to the spa resort Banja Koviljaca where she began chatting to three Afghan men in a local park. But when they invited her for a drink at a local hotel, they met up with two other men and she was dragged behind the building and raped repeatedly. Police said that Abdurashid D. has admitted sex with the woman, but claims it was consensual, although he was unable to explain medical evidence showing injuries suffered by the woman. The case has shocked locals in the region, which is the most popular spa resort in the country and regarded as one of the mainstays of Serbia’s tourism business. http://www.austriantimes.at/news/Around_the_World/2011-11-03/37324/Brit_Womans_Refugee_Gang_Rape ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Now compare this to British newspaper coverage of a UK citizen being raped……The Daily Mirror
Illegal immigrants ‘gang rape British woman in Serbia
A BRITISH woman secretly filmed a gang rape by five Afghani immigrants on her phone after flying to Serbia to meet a Facebook friend, police say. The 38-year-old, who has since returned home, was attacked on Thursday after failing to find her online pal. A 25-year-old man has been arrested. Locals in Banja Koviljaca, in the west of the country, have complained over the drunken behavior of the town’s 2,500 illegal immigrants.
Now watch this Vladtepesblog BBC video report Serbians on the November 7th protests in Banja Kovijaca. Note the comments about Serbian border difficulties caused by this influx of illegal Muslim refugee asylum seekers.
It looks like the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is arm twisting the Serbs to accept illegal Muslims refugees from Afghanistan and Somalia. Then consider the Muslim mafia who run the drug and human trafficking trade in breakaway Kosovo.
Bajina Koviljaca overlooks the fabled Drina River. For a history of Balkan history under the Ottoman Caliphate check out The Bridge on the Drina. That novel won a Nobel literature prize for its Yugoslav author, the late, Ivo Andric, of Croatian family heritage who depicts the dershime system and dhimmitude under the occupying Turks in Bosnia. There is a monument to Andric in Belgrade, who passed away in 1975.
It documents alleged Iranian work on the kind of implosion device that would be needed to detonate a nuclear weapon.
On Wednesday, a defiant Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country will not budge "one iota" from its nuclear programme.
He said the IAEA report was based on "empty claims" provided by the US.
"Why do you damage the [UN] agency's dignity because of America's invalid claims?" he said in a televised speech.
Addressing the US he added: "We will not build two bombs in the face of your 20,000. We will develop something that you cannot respond to, which is ethics, humanity, solidarity and justice.
"You should know that no enemy of the Iranian people has ever tasted victory."
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the seriousness of the report warranted a meeting of the UN Security Council.
"If Iran refuses to conform to the demands of the international community and refuses any serious co-operation, we stand ready to adopt, with other willing countries, sanctions on an unprecedented scale," he told French radio.
Mr Juppe said tough sanctions were needed to "prevent Iran from continuing to obtain resources that allow it to pursue its activities in violation of all international rules".
A senior US official said Washington would consult with partners on "additional" pressure and sanctions on Tehran.
"We don't take anything off the table when we look at sanctions. We believe there is a broad spectrum of action we could take," the official said, quoted by AFP news agency.
The EU said the report "seriously aggravates" existing concerns.
"Overall these findings strongly indicate the existence of a fully-fledged nuclear weapons development programme in Iran," said a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Baroness Ashton represents six world powers - the UK, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US - in stalled negotiations with Iran over its uranium enrichment programme.
The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says China is also unlikely to support further sanctions against Iran.
Last Sunday Israeli President Shimon Peres said a military strike on Iran was becoming more likely.
"There is an impression that Iran is getting closer to nuclear weapons," he told the Israel Hayom daily.
How an implosion device could trigger a nuclear bomb
Cross section of implosion device
1. Detonators triggered
2. Explosives create shock- waves and compress core
3. Initiator kick-starts the fission process
4. Compressed fissile core (of uranium or plutonium) becomes unstable and starts nuclear chain reaction
5. Tamper layer contains neutrons and expansion briefly, to maximise fission
The Once And Future Greater Azerbaijan, Or, When The Red Army Ruled Northern Iran
Watch here,, and get a sense of Soviet propaganda about the separate Azerbaijan People's Government, set up by the Red Army, with Jafar Pishevar at its head, in Northern Iran, from 1945 until 1946. Imagine if the Soviets had, using their ruthless methods, managed, as they did in Central Asia, to crush Islam sufficiently so as to create a group of secular people who, whatever their faults, at least were not the mental prisoners of Islam.
And now you may feel -- you who might once have deplored the Red Army in northern Iran, and been pleased that the Americans "freed Iran" from the Soviets -- those strange mixed feelings that, let's face it, you should by now most certainly have.
And then take a look, on-line, at the Soviet-sponsored Republic of Mahabad.
A Retrospective Of The Scholar Who Provided The Intellectual Ammunition For The Iraq War
Bernard Lewis has just moved to a small apartment in the manicured suburbs on Philadelphia’s Main Line. At 95, it was time for the man the Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing calls the “most influential postwar historian of Islam and the Middle East” to leave Princeton—his home for more than 35 years—for a senior living facility known for attracting retired academics.
“I’m getting old, I’m no longer sure about dates,” he tells me in his polished British accent, though this moment of self-deprecation is hardly convincing: Our conversation reflects his uncanny ability to recollect dates, time lines and facts—both from his lifetime and several centuries before. As we talk, Lewis recalls the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 as easily as the Turkish elections of 1950. He also regales me with stories, though it is impossible to predict which millennium they will date to. One minute, it’s the Marx Brothers skits he shared with the Shah of Iran in the days before the revolution, the next, an eighth century Arabian joke about a sinful woman praying to Allah for mercy before she dies. And he speaks with eloquence, his ideas organized into complete paragraphs. [Lewis is famous for offering anecdotes in which he, and some world-famous leader, are shown in casual intimacy]
In his new home, Lewis is surrounded by bookcases, some filled with collectors editions of his own works. He has published prolifically throughout his seven-decade career: His first scholarly article —on the origins of Ismailism, a branch of Shia Islam—came out in 1937 when he was 21, and his most recent book, The End of Modern History in the Middle East, hit bookstores earlier this year. In between, he wrote more than 20 books, some of them New York Times bestsellers, plus numerous scholarly tomes, racking up countless honors, including the National Humanities Medal, which President George W. Bush presented to him at the White House in 2006.
The Old World gentleman dressed in slacks and a button-down Oxford shirt may be retired, but there is nothing retiring about him. As the scholar who coined the term “the clash of civilizations” to describe the headlong confrontation between Muslim and Christian worlds, Lewis has been extremely outspoken about his belief that the failure of large swaths of the Islamic world to reconcile itself to modernity can be blamed not on Britain or the U.S., but on internal decay. These opinions, coupled with his influence, have made him a lightning rod for the schisms that rock academia and the nation. Both friends and enemies are plentiful: They have strong feelings about him, whether they know him or not, and few, it seems, fall in the middle.
The late Columbia University professor Edward Said, author of the 1978 book Orientalism, accused Lewis of “demagogy and downright ignorance,” and more recent critics have accused him of fanning the flames of Islamophobia. But he is a prophet to his tight circle of admirers, which includes influential policymakers, many of whom served in the administration of President George W. Bush. They include former Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Defense Policy Board Chair Richard Perle, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and National Security Council for Near East and North African Director Elliott Abrams.
“Bernard Lewis is the great Orientalist of our time, and we shan’t see the likes of him again,” says Fouad Ajami, senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institute. Ajami, who was born and raised in Lebanon, describes himself as a “self-appointed disciple” of Lewis. The two have been close since Ajami’s days at Princeton some 35 years ago and Ajami gushes freely about his mentor. “His ability to track Islam’s journey over the 70 years of his career and really see the deeper currents of Islam—that is his genius. He is able to bridge the gap between scholarship and modern affairs and make a seamless connection between the past and the present.”
Comment: Like Lewis, Ajami has never quite faced up -- directly -- to the problem of Islam and its effects on the minds of its adherents, and its effects, its connection to the political, economic, social, moral, and intellectual failings, of societies and states and individuals suffused with Islam. His special pleading for the Shi'a in Iraq, his great enthusiasm for Ayatollah Sistani, his seeming indifference to the colossal expense of the American effort in Iraq and the little it could conceivably achieve, all contribute to making Ajami much less trustworthy a guide than he once seemed to be, when he was mocking Saddam Hussein ("I wear pants. You wear pants.") or smiting Said hip and thigh.
Although Lewis hasn’t particularly revelled in the media spotlight, he hasn’t shied away from injecting his ideas into the political debate. As Ajami, a note of reverence in his voice, tells me: “Bernard Lewis is not a coward.” [his refusal to review "Why I Am Not A Muslim" for the TLS might, for some, constitute cowardice]
Many Jewish boys study Hebrew in preparation for their bar mitzvahs, but few fall passionately in love with the language. That ’s what happened to Lewis. Born in London in 1916 and raised by “twice-a-year Jews,” as he puts it, he accompanied his parents—a businessman who dealt in real estate and a homemaker—to a “nominally Orthodox” synagogue on the High Holy Days and Passover.
“It was a new language and a new history, and it was my supreme good fortune that the Hebrew teacher my parents found for me was a scholar, a real maskil, who responded to my childish enthusiasm,” he recalls. Lewis has recounted this 80-year-old story countless times, but his eyes still light up at the memory. His parents were willing to continue funding his Hebrew studies after his bar mitzvah and so he continued his language instructions, adding Aramaic as well. This, of course, was in addition to the French, Latin and German he studied as part of his regular school curriculum. He was also deeply taken by history. “When we learned about British history and the wars with France, I became interested in French history, and later, when we learned about the Crusades and the eastern question, my interest in Islamic history was first aroused. I was always interested in hearing the other side,” he says of his attraction to the Islamic world.
In 1936, Lewis completed a bachelor’s degree in history with a concentration in the Middle East, graduating first in his class from the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. He started graduate studies and when, a year later, a professor asked if he’d like to travel to the Middle East, Lewis jumped at the opportunity. With no funds to speak of—“I could no more go to the Middle East than I could go to the moon”—but with a stipend provided by the Royal Asiatic Society, he explored Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Turkey for six months. “I felt like a Muslim bridegroom meeting the bride with whom he is to spend the rest of his life, and seeing her for the first time after the wedding,” he wrote of the trip in his 2004 From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East, one of many passages that critics cite to accuse him of eroticizing the “exotic” east.
On his return to London, Lewis was offered an appointment as an assistant lecturer in the School of Oriental Studies at the University of London. But World War II intervened, and in 1939, Lewis was drafted into the army and placed in a tank regiment. “I didn’t stay there long, either because of my aptitude for languages or my ineptitude for tanks,” he says. Transferred to intelligence, he was stationed in London for the most part, but also toured the Middle East, with stops in Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. (That was his last visit to Iraq, he tells me.) “It gave me direct insight, which I previously lacked,” he says of his wartime experience, “and I got a feeling for what people think and what they say—and the difference between the two.” When the war was over, Lewis was appointed chair of the University of London’s Near and Middle Eastern History Department. He was in his early 30s and it was clearly a feat, but Lewis credits the dearth of academics in the post-war years—rather than his own merit—for his promotion.
Though his original interest was the Arab world, out of necessity Lewis quickly branched out. As a Jew in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he would have been denied a visa to most Arab countries in the wake of Israel’s independence.“Some people lied [and didn’t disclose their Jewishness], which I was not prepared to do—and which was not very effective,” he says. The result was that he shifted his research to include Turkey and Iran, focusing on the Ottoman period. As luck would have it, he was in Istanbul when the Turkish government opened its archives in 1950. As an up-and-coming scholar, he was the first westerner granted access to these storied treasures, which helped cement his prominence in the field.
He wrote extensively about the Ottoman Empire and Arab history as seen through the lens of the newly opened archives. “He’s the first true historian of the Middle East,” says Martin Kramer, a former student, now a senior fellow at the Shalem Institute in Jerusalem. “Before him, there were linguists and philologists who dabbled in history, but he was the first to bring historical methodology to the study of the Middle East.” Lewis, he says, pioneered fields from Jews in Islamic history to issues of slavery and race in the Ottoman Empire: “These were sensitive areas that required a deft hand, and Lewis had it.”
While in Turkey, Lewis also witnessed that country’s first free election, in which the Democratic Party officially ended the country’s one-party era—something, he says, “that had never happened before in the Middle East and hasn’t happened very often since.” Being present for the “dawn of Turkish democracy” left a deep impression. “It helped me understand the political process in the Middle East,” he says. His 1961 book, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, is still considered by many to be a landmark analysis of that country. Lewis also wrote The Arabs in History, now in its sixth edition, as well as other works, quickly gaining an international reputation in a field he readily admitted was becoming “an obsession.”
In 1974, his 27-year marriage to Ruth Hélène Oppenhejm, a Danish Jew, (they had two children —Michael, now 57, who works for AIPAC in Washington, DC, and Melanie, 60, an art educator, who lives in Pittsburgh) fell apart, and he left England for a prestigious position at Princeton University. He was appointed the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies, a joint position between the Institute for Advanced Study and Princeton, where his chair was endowed by the family that founded the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA). His new job required him to teach only one semester a year, leaving him with more time to research and write. Settled in America, Lewis published at an increasingly dizzying speed. Becoming an American citizen in 1982, he was poised to take on the role of a public intellectual.
Lewis’ friendship with Henry “Scoop” Jackson, the Democratic senator from Washington, catapulted him into his new country’s corridors of power, where he became a powerful intellectual influence on the burgeoning neoconservative movement. Jackson was a fierce anti-communist and opponent of détente, with close ties to the Jewish community. In 1974 he co-sponsored the Jackson–Vanik amendment, which restricted trade relations with the Soviet Union in response to taxes it levied on Jews seeking to emigrate. As the leading defender of Israel in the U.S. Senate, Jackson was also critical of Soviet support for Arab regimes in the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Lewis’ scholarship, which in its criticism of Islamic culture flew in the face of the so-called Arabists at the State Department, fit well with Jackson’s worldview. “Each of them brought something to the table: Jackson had tremendous political skill, while Lewis provided the view of a preeminent historian, which helped inoculate Jackson to the claim that he was running against all expert opinion,” says Robert Kaufman, author of Henry M. Jackson: A Life in Politics. “Senator Jackson believed the main problem in the Middle East was not Israel, but a broader culture of tyranny. Lewis deepened those instincts.”
Their relationship was mutually beneficial, Kaufman adds. In the 1970s, as a member of the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Jackson invited Lewis, then in his late fifties, to Washington to testify before Congress, giving him his first taste of “policy prominence.” Jackson brought Lewis into a circle of ambitious young men who, like him, were convinced that a tough stance with the USSR was vital to American interests. Among them were Jackson’s aides, two of whom—Wolfowitz and Perle—had been students of University of Chicago professor and early neoconservative thinker Albert Wohlstetter. Lewis’ relationships with this group of policymakers ensured that his influence on policy decisions would remain strong long after Senator Jackson passed away in 1983. These up-and-coming “Jackson Democrats,” as they were known, supported Ronald Reagan’s bid for president after Carter defeated Jackson in the Democratic primaries. Their shift to the Republican Party was cemented following the 1980 election, when many of them went to work for Reagan in the White House. In some ways, it was the watershed moment for the neoconservative movement—an ideology that went on to concentrate its foreign policy efforts on promoting liberal democracies in other countries.
“Lewis is the elder statesman of the neoconservative movement,” says Jacob Heilbrunn, author of They Knew They Were Right: The Rise of the Neocons. “He provided the intellectual scaffolding for the belief that something was very wrong with Arab societies. His worldview was antithetical to the dominant one and he essentially reversed the terms of the debate.” Neoconservatives, with Lewis’ backing, argued that Israel was not the obstacle to peace; the problem lay in the makeup of Arab societies. Lewis, long a strong defender of Israel, has close ties to the Jewish state: He gives annual lectures at Tel Aviv University and owns an apartment there as well. “He sees Israel as a liberal democracy,” Kramer says, “the kind of democracy we hope for in other parts of the Middle East.”
Lewis’ close ties to Israel may be one of the reasons he changed his opinions about Turkey, the first Muslim nation to recognize the Jewish state and its longtime ally. In the first edition of The Emergence of Modern Turkey in 1961, and in a second that followed seven years later, Lewis had termed the Armenian genocide a “holocaust.” But by the third edition, published in 2002, he had a change of heart, replacing “holocaust” with the word “slaughter” and adding a reference to Turkish deaths as well. In 1985, he urged the U.S. Congress to refrain from passing a resolution that would condemn the event as “genocide,” and after he published a 1993 article on the subject in Le Monde, he was fined a symbolic one franc by French courts under the country’s Holocaust-denial laws. “There is no doubt the Armenians suffered a terrible massacre, but to compare it to what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany is an absurdity,” he tells me.
Lewis’ reversal took the Armenian community by surprise, says Rouben P. Adalian, director of the Armenian National Institute in Washington DC. “For the Armenian community, it’s a huge preoccupation to have this history recognized and so, when Bernard Lewis enters the fray, it provides ammunition to the Turkish government in denying that a genocide took place. And so here we are, 95 years after the genocide, with piles of evidence, still having this conversation.”
Looking back, Lewis says that he felt comfortable in the neoconservative camp, and continues to feel that way. “Yes, I feel that ‘neoconservative’ is not an inaccurate description of me,” he says when I ask. Then he paraphrases the popular, though somewhat apocryphal Winston Churchill quote: “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.”
In choosing to blame Islam for its own decline, Lewis was bucking the new paradigm through which the region was being seen: post-colonialism, which attributed the Middle East’s current problems to the colonial era. Lewis argues that imperialism—while certainly one of the roots of the problems that now plague the modern Middle East—hardly explains the region’s malaise. Those very problems brought colonialism to the region in the first place, he’s insisted: “Why did colonialism come to the Middle East? Because [the region] was relapsing into total backwardness.”
During Lewis’ seven decades as a scholar, the study of the Middle East changed dramatically. When he was a student and a young professor, Oriental studies—as it was then known—drew on European experiences of the Crusades, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment. Modern Middle Eastern studies departments didn’t come into existence until after World War II, when the U.S. began to place greater emphasis on studying the region due to its strategic significance. The government began to pour money into the field, and in 1958, as part of the National Defense Education Act, funded Title VI fellowships to support graduate students in what became known as “area studies.”
With the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, these programs became increasingly politicized. Lewis’ Israel sympathies set him apart early on, but were hardly the only thing that separated him from colleagues in the discipline. Many in these newly formed area studies departments focused on methodology and theory, whereas Lewis remained committed to the “objective” study of history—a notion that had come into question in the field.
In 1978 when Edward Said published Orientalism—a work that became a handbook for post-colonial theory—Bernard Lewis’ status in the field came under intense scrutiny for the first time in his career. In the book, Said posited that the study of the Middle East was yet another manifestation of imperialism and implicitly insists that the study of the east belongs to the people of the east. “Orientalists” (the term became a pejorative) like Bernard Lewis, he argues, barely conceal their disdain for their subject matter. At the core of Westerners’ study, Said claims, is a “subtle and persistent Eurocentric prejudice against Arabo-Islamic peoples and their culture.” He calls Lewis, his primary target, a “perfect exemplification” of an “Establishment Orientalist” whose work “purports to be objective liberal scholarship but is in reality very close to being propaganda against his subject material.”
Lewis responded in kind, publishing a screed against Orientalism in the New York Review of Books. He famously asserted, “If westerners cannot legitimately study the history of Africa or the Middle East, then only fish can study marine biology.” At the crux, Lewis tells me, is “the difference between scholarship and politics; they insist on seeing everything as politics and they see Orientalists as imperialists, which is absolute nonsense. The Orientalist scholarship in the western world began in the Middle Ages long before there was a question of French or British imperialism.” [but he never goes far enough -- he never states that "Arab imperialism," using Islam as its vehicle, has been the longest-lasting and most successful imperialism in history, the one which has convinced many different non-Arab peoples that they are "Arab" or, if they are not Arabs but Muslims, that they must mimic Arab ways, and forget their own histories, and cultures, and rely on the model of seventh-century Arabia, as set down in the Hadith and Sira]
Shortly before his death in 2003, Said attended a round table discussion organized by the Arabic weekly Al-Ahram in which he claimed that Bernard Lewis “hasn’t set foot in the Middle East, in the Arab world, for at least 40 years. He knows something about Turkey, I’m told, but he knows nothing about the Arab world.” Some 25 years had passed since the publication of Orientalism, but the rage—whether academic or otherwise—was still simmering, as raw then as decades before. Much of the debate took place on the pages of the New York Review of Books, but it also spilled over to conferences sponsored by the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the reigning umbrella association of Middle East scholars founded in 1966, and which was eventually, in Lewis’ words, “taken over by Saidians.” Said and Lewis met only once, at a MESA conference, and their meeting was brief and uneventful, Lewis tells me.
Lewis believes he became a target primarily because he was Jewish and British. “We all tend to judge others by ourselves; that’s human nature,” Lewis says. Edward Said, a Palestinian born in Jerusalem and an English professor, was bitterly and viciously anti-British, he says. “He assumed that an Englishman who was a professor of Arabic would have the same attitude to his subject as he had to his.”
[this business Lewis spouts about Said being "anti-British" misses the main point: Said was not Muslim, but a typical Islamochristian, in his promotion of the Jihad against Israel. Said was, in effect, an atheist, with Christian parents, who had the worldviews of a Muslim, for in the end his sense of being an "Arab" -- which provided him with a narrative that proved so very useful in American academic life, and as a "Palestinian" he became particularly attractive -- "Our Edward" -- to Jewish professors, who were pleased and proud to count him as a friend, and knew nothing about Islam, and were political naifs].
With the eighth anniversary of Said’s death approaching, this debate continues to rage across American college campuses, where a new generation of scholars has taken his lead. “Bernard Lewis is an influential scholar, but his writings, particularly over the past years, have become increasingly polemical and ideological,” says Nader Hashemi, a Middle East expert at the University of Denver and an outspoken critic of Lewis. “He assumes there is a fossilized Muslim core that determines the way Muslims will always behave and ignores changing social conditions in the Middle East.”
Comment: That "fossilized core" that Nader Hashemi dismisses is Islam itself, the canonical and immutable text of the Qur'an, the Hadith (and the ranking of muhaddithin, and by muhaddithin, and Sira, the latter two offering a view of the "Perfect Man" (al-insan al-kamil) Muhammad that intelligent non-Muslims find hair-raising.
Indeed, Lewis has become persona non grata in Middle Eastern studies departments on college campuses across the U.S. Hashemi includes one of Lewis’ books in his syllabus, but mostly as an example of the kind of Orientalist scholarship students should learn to avoid. Lewis himself acknowledges the phenomenon: He was a guest lecturer several years ago at a university in the Midwest and says that while students representing various disciplines flocked to his lecture, not a single student from Middle Eastern studies was present. As a graduate student later told him, attending the lecture “would have harmed his career.” Says Hashemi: “Lewis’ reputation within the community of Middle East scholars has really sunk to an all-time low.”
“In most American universities,” says Ajami, “the battle of ideas between Lewis and Said was, alas, won by Said and his disciples. To me, that is a tragic outcome.”
When the Twin Towers came crashing down on September 11, 2001, Lewis’ book What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Eastern Response was at the printer. When it was released in December, its thesis was on everyone’s mind. As Lewis says, “Osama Bin Laden made me famous.” Kramer phrases it this way: “Bernard Lewis became a household name after 9/11, at a time when followers of Said thought they got rid of him.” No longer just relegated to the Ivy League and the pages of high-brow journals, the academic dispute over the Islamic world now became central to explaining Osama bin Laden and his global jihad.
“Clash of civilizations” thundered across the airwaves, three words often associated with the Harvard political science professor Samuel Huntington, who borrowed it for the title of his landmark 1993 Foreign Affairs article, which was later expanded into a book with the same title. Huntington, a titan in his field, died in 2008, and Lewis hesitates to take credit for the phrase, telling me he never called his theory “the clash of civilizations” per se. “It was an idea I came to in stages after studying the long history of jihad and crusade and counter-crusade and so on throughout the centuries,” he explains. Nevertheless, he believes in its fundamental truths: Christians and Muslims both believe they are the recipients of God’s final word, which they are obligated to share with the rest of humanity—a message that is both universal and exclusive. “This inevitably led to conflict, to the real clash of rival civilizations aspiring to the same role, leading to the same hegemony,” Lewis said during a 2006 Washington, DC event hosted by the Pew Forum. It is not their differences that lead to the clash but their similarities, he adds.
And what about the clash of Islam with Hindus and Buddhists and every other sort of non-Muslim? Why does Lewis insist on limiting himself to a "clash" between two monotheisms making universalist claims? Why not look beyond the Middle East, where Islam underlies everything, and see how Muslims treat non-Muslims, non-Christians especially, outside the MIddle East?
To his admirers, his views of the two civilizations made Lewis nothing less than a modern-day seer. Says Ajami: “Islamic fundamentalism, which became the story of the world—he foresaw it before anyone. He has an ability to see things, buck the trend, differ from his contemporaries and step out of the consensus. The 1990s were an era of globalization, when people talked about the differences in the world being erased by a common marketplace. There were two men—Bernard Lewis and Sam Huntington—who said, ‘it ain’t so.’”
For Lewis, the clash of civilizations had finally made it to America’s doorstep. The situation had reached a dangerous boiling point and could no longer be ignored. The attacks of 9/11, he warns, must be seen as a battle in a larger war of jihad. According to the first stage of jihad, infidel rule in Islamic lands must end. “That has been, in the main, completed. All the states that were formally ruled by Russians and Frenchmen and Englishmen are now ruled by people of their own land.” The second stage, he says, is to recover lost lands of Islam—i.e., countries like Israel and Spain that were once ruled by Muslims but no longer are. The third and final phase is extending Islamic rule to the whole world, where inhabitants can either embrace Islam or become second-class citizens. “There is no doubt” that 9/11 is part of this struggle, he insists. “Osama bin Laden expressed himself quite clearly —this is part of global jihad and initiation of the final phase, bringing the true faith into the lands of unbelievers.”
Israel and the unsettled Palestinian question is not—as so many claim—the root of Arab hatred of the U.S. “Israel serves as a useful stand-in for complaints about the economic privation and political repression under which most Muslim people live, and as a way of deflecting the resulting anger,” Lewis says in a November 2001 issue of The New Yorker.
Since American foreign policy under George W. Bush was conducted by a group of men with whom Lewis was well-acquainted, he had rare access to the White House after September 11th, 2001. He had a “quite friendly relationship with Cheney” at the time, he recalls, and he was a guest speaker at the vice president’s residence only weeks after the attacks. On the eve of the Iraq invasion, Cheney, appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press, invoked the name and philosophy of the then-octogenarian professor. “I firmly believe, along with men like Bernard Lewis, who is one of the great students of that part of the world, that strong, firm U.S. response to terror and to threats to the United States would go a long way, frankly, toward calming things in that part of the world.” President Bush reportedly read a well-worn copy of What Went Wrong, which was given to him by Condoleezza Rice, who also met privately with Lewis, according to reports. And Karl Rove is said to have invited him to address White House staffers, military aides and staff members of the National Security Council in a closed meeting, where Lewis reportedly discussed the failures of contemporary Arab and Muslim societies and shared his opinions about the origins of the Muslim world’s anti-Americanism.
Once again Lewis was instrumental in providing an intellectual foundation for government policy, but this time the men he influenced were in control. Peter Waldman called this framework the “Lewis Doctrine” while describing Lewis’ outsized influence in shaping Middle East policy in the Wall Street Journal in February 2004. “Though never debated in Congress or sanctified by presidential decree, Mr. Lewis’ diagnosis of the Muslim world’s malaise, and his call for a U.S. military invasion to seed democracy in the Mideast, have helped define the boldest shift in U.S. foreign policy in 50 years,” Waldman writes. “As mentor and informal adviser to some top U.S. officials, Mr. Lewis has helped coax the White House to shed decades of thinking about Arab regimes and the use of military power. Gone is the notion that U.S. policy in the oil-rich region should promote stability above all, even if it means taking tyrants as friends. Also gone is the corollary notion that fostering democratic values in these lands risks destabilizing them. Instead, the Lewis Doctrine says fostering Mideast democracy is not only wise, but imperative.”
Comment: so how has the "democracy" worked out in Iraq? The only certain result is that 70% of Iraq's Christians have fled the country. The Shi'a still have no intention of giving up the gains they have made, and the Sunnis no intention of submitting meekly to their new status. The Kurds are still worried, as they should be, about their place in an Arab-run polity, one that defines itself, in its Constitution, as an "Arab" state.
Why does Lewis believe that "fostering Mideast democracy" is imperative? Some might suggest the only imperative is to make sure that these Musilm states are deprived, as much as possible, of the weaponry with which they can harm non-Muslims, and weakened internally, as much as possible, by doing nothing to prevent internecine conflicts, sectarian and ethnic, from spreading, and certainly nothing -- as through foreign assistance of all kinds -- to delay the day when the most advanced Muslims are forced, as Ataturk was forced, to recognize the connnection between the failures of Muslim societies and Islam itself.
Lewis was not unwilling to combine his academic expertise with policy advice. He published op-eds frequently and in one 2002 Wall Street Journal piece appropriately called “Time for Toppling,” he predicted “scenes of rejoicing” in Iraq should “we succeed in overthrowing the regimes of what President Bush has rightly called the ‘Axis of Evil.’” He did the talk show circuit as well. When Charlie Rose asked him in a 2004 interview why invading Afghanistan would not have been enough to prove that the U.S. was more than a “paper tiger,” as Bin Laden called it, Lewis said plainly, “Afghanistan was not sufficient; one had to get to the heart of the matter in the Middle East.” During that same interview, he also backed his friend Ahmed Chalabi, the controversial Iraqi politician who claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. When pressed by Rose on whether the Iraq invasion was “worth it,” Lewis replied pointedly: “Yes, I think it was necessary to do something. One has to consider what the alternatives were.
Comment: The alternative that Lewis refuses to describe is this: do nothing about Saddam Hussein at all, and allow him to remain a threat to Iran. Does anyone doubt that he would, if given some kind of signal or aid from the West, have invaded Iran again, in order to stop its nuclear project? Was the Iran-Iraq War not a good thing for the West? Why was that not one of those alternatives that Lewis simply can't bring himself to envision?
Lewis’ influence on the formulation of the Bush administration’s controversial Middle East policy drew critics en masse. Michael Hirsh, chief correspondent at the National Journal and author of the highly critical 2004 article “Bernard Lewis Revisited,” says that Lewis’ credentials gave the Bush administration’s policies “intellectual credence.” “It was a mistake to say [that 9/11] was an expression of anger that represented the mainstream of the Arab and Muslim world,” Hirsh tells me. [this is nonsense, but just because those who are most outrageously anti-Lewis are usually Muslim apologists or non-Muslim dopes doesn't mean that he is to be uncritically endorsed]. “Really, the U.S. had to just wipe out Al Qaeda, but instead, they took on the entire Arab world. That’s where people like Lewis led us astray and I don’t think anyone would cite him today without some sense of irony.” Hirsh goes on: “By his own volition, he left the academic world to become a political figure and that was the beginning of the end of his reputation.”
Hashemi also questions Lewis’ understanding of the situation: “Lewis is a medievalist and he tries to interpret contemporary Islamic politics by going back to an earlier time period where an ‘essential’ Islam allegedly existed. He uses this framework to explain events that happen half a millennium later. He plays into a neoconservative right-wing agenda that wants to control, manipulate and dominate the Middle East. His apocalyptic narrative fits well with a Fox News audience, but it’s not serious political analysis or scholarship.”
When I ask Lewis about his role in the formulation of the Bush administration’s Middle East policy, he minimizes it and calls any reference to a “Lewis Doctrine” misleading and “worse—it’s false.” He tells me that the White House asked him to email his opinions from time to time, which he did, “but I don’t know that they took any notice of it.”
He takes pains to distance himself from the military invasion, and despite some of his earlier writings, says that he advocated for the U.S. to recognize an independent government in the north of Iraq, which would have potentially fomented democratic movements in the rest of the country. As he tells me repeatedly: “It was a profoundly mistaken decision to invade Iraq. What should have been done was to help the people in the north. But to invade the country was a mistake; I said so at the time and I’ve said so ever since.”
“Do you think people misrepresented your opinions?,” I ask. “Definitely,” he says. Ajami, for his part, says he doesn’t remember his mentor’s opinions about the Iraq invasion.[He doesn't? He can't remember what Lewis, whom he claims to revere, said about the Iraq invasion? No memory of it at all?] But he says the malice coming from both the Ivory Tower and elsewhere about Lewis’ role in the Bush administration is misguided. “For enemies of Lewis, he became the godfather of the Iraq war, which was ridiculous,” Ajami says. “Academics don’t lead governments to war.”
As Lewis knows well, what his legacy will look like depends largely on who writes the history. He is reluctant to predict what contours it will take; most likely, the work will be left to his disciples, much as Said’s worldview continues to live and thrive—both in academe and elsewhere—thanks to his followers. But in 2007, Lewis and his coterie took a step toward reshaping the academic battleground. They founded the Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa (ASMEA), an academic group meant to counter the influence of MESA. “In the democratic world, universities are free and you don’t have an imposed orthodoxy,” Lewis tells me. “That’s not the case [in Middle Eastern Studies departments] where you have an imposed orthodoxy to a greater degree than any other time since the Middle Ages. It makes free discussion, if not impossible, very difficult.”
With Lewis as its chairman and other big names like Ajami on board, ASMEA hopes to challenge MESA’s hegemony. At 1,100 members, it’s significantly smaller than its competition (MESA has more than 3,000, according to its website), but David Silverstein, the group’s executive director, says its ranks are growing. For the most part, it is funded by member dues, as well as organizations like the Bradley Foundation, a Milwaukee-based group that aims to strengthen capitalism and limited government and also supports conservative thinktanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation. “ASMEA is restoring competition in the marketplace of ideas in Middle Eastern studies,” Silverstein says. “This is an issue of ongoing concern to [Lewis] because of his love for the discipline and his horror at the way it slid from its former glory to something so politicized.”
Back in his apartment, Lewis tells me he is slowing down, but, again, this is relative. “He is so unlike the stereotypes of aging,” says his partner of 15 years, Buntzie Churchill, who has co-authored two books with Lewis and is former president of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia. Lewis attends ASMEA events (“people call just to make sure that he will be there,” says Silverstein. “They just want to be in the presence of a great man”), and he is currently putting the finishing touches on a memoir, What and When, How and Why: Reflections of a Middle East Historian, due out next year. Rather than focus on current political events in the Middle East, which he has been following on television, he has been sorting through old notes and turning his attention to poetry. Right now, he’s at work on a collection of poetry he’s translating from Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Hebrew—four of the dozen or so languages he’s mastered.
Lewis remains an ardent student of Islam, which despite his criticism of its present-day manifestations, he admires as one of the world’s great religions. [what is it he "admires" about Islam? One would like the details.] It could be this love, says Ian Buruma, writing in The New Yorker, that has led Lewis to overreach in his belief that the west may be able to save his beloved Muslim civilization. Wrote Buruma, “Perhaps he loves it too much.”[Ian Buruma, who has been an apologist for Islam-- see, for example, his atrocious comments on Ayaan Hirsi Ali -- now is quoted, misleadingly, as if he were a stern critic rather than a Defender, of the Faith. Amusing.]
That is a margin of less than 0.5 percent, certainly sufficient to have the Democrat opponent of Ramadan request a re-count. This Virginia state legislature race got national attention, because Ramadan had the backing of Virginia’s GOP Governor Bob McDonnell, US House Majority Leader, Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor, former US Attorney General Edwin Meese and Grover Norquist, the King of K Street GOP Lobbyists in Washington, DC and facilitator of MB infiltration into the GOP and conservative circles.
On his website today Ramadan trumpeted his razor thin election victory:
As many of you know, last night was a long night. But, at the end of the day, we won! To those who say that every vote counts, you couldn’t be more right! By 50 votes and through a lot of hard work and thousands of doors knocked, our message prevailed.
I want to thank my wife, my family and all my supporters for their belief in me and what we can achieve. Today, we will go through the canvassing process, whereby we certify the numbers submitted. I have no doubt that by the end of the process confirmation of victory will be made.
Thank you all so much, God Bless each of you, and God Bless the United States and the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
See our blog post about Norquist’s acolyte, former Bush Administration appointee and Washington lawyer, Suhail Kahn, of the American Conservative Union caught on a video at CPAC in Washington this past February responding to questions about Shariah and the Muslim Brotherhood. Kahn said; “Shariah doesn’t exist in America” and that there was “No Muslim Brotherhood in US.” Norquist was a business partner of convicted terrorist financier Abdurahman Alamoudi.
Note these comments from the BRF blog post;
Many conservatives view Mr. Ramadan as a fellow-traveler of Political Islamists if not one himself.
National voices weighed in on this Virginia delegate race — both supporting and opposing David Ramadan’s candidacy.
Grover Norquist was a key backer and, we believe, orchestrated the entrance of former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese into the contested 87th district GOP primary in behalf of first-time candidate Ramadan.
No-new-taxes advocate Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, before Ramadan’s candidacy, had sent to state center-right coalitions Ramadan’s letter (see additional signers as well) to the GOP Congressional leadership in behalf of the Ground Zero Mosque.
The governor of Virginia himself spent some political capital in behalf of David Ramadan. In doing so, he obviously sent what many conservatives would regard as a questionable political signal.
One can be sure that both candidate Ramadan and his friends at the top of the Virginia GOP will ensure that they have industrial-strength talent looking over the shoulders of officials during any recount.
But whether Mr. Ramadan — running with the backing of GOP heavy hitters – - wins or loses in the 87th district of Virginia, the very closeness of this election shows that voters in the key Virginia jurisdiction of Loudoun County are coming to understand the need to check Political Islam.
“Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Paul Sperry, a Hoover Institution media fellow and author of Infiltration and Muslim Mafia. The latter, co-authored with P. David Gaubatz, exposes the radical Muslim Brotherhood and its fronts in the United States.
. . . . . . . . . .
I would like to talk to you [Sperry] today about how the Muslim Brotherhood penetrates the Republican Party and especially the latest disturbing evidence you have on Grover Norquist and Suhail Khan in this context. As you know, David Horowitz called out both Khan and Norquist on this issue in his speech at CPAC on Feb. 12, 2011.”
Readers can weigh for themselves the material Paul Sperry presents on Mr. Norquist and Mr. Ramadan in Glazov’s interview
And we’ll be tracking any further developments in the 87th district election!
The IAEA has done what Der Spiegel called a “veritable u-turn” from the positions previously held by the agency’s former Director General, Egyptian Mohamed ElBaradei. He is a 2005 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate now running for Egypt’s Presidency. That “u-turn” has vindicated Israel and its allies in the US, displeased and frightened EU leaders and raised questions about whether the US can rein in Israel from undertaking a unilateral pre-emptive action against Iran’s nuclear bomb making and delivery systems.
Israeli critics are calling El Baradei a “collaborator” with the Islamic Republic in obfuscating the real progress towards domestically produced nuclear weapons. There have been allegations by ex-CIA spy and IRGC defector Reza Khalili that Iran already has a number of nuclear devices. Some speculate these may have been obtained from rogue Russian sources, although A.Q. Khan’s Pakistani network is not to be counted out. However, Iran has never tested these ‘purchased’ nukes.
Leaked to the international media and already published on the website of ISIS, the IAEA report provides the most damning assessment to date from the nuclear watchdog substantiating Western intelligence claims that Iran's atomic research is being conducted to build a bomb, not for civilian purposes as the country has long maintained.
In "Game Changer," author HJS Political Director Davis Lewin outlines the key charges against Iran, examines international efforts to bring it into compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and anticipates the likely diplomatic repercussions the IAEA report will have.
As the briefing's executive summary states:
◊ The latest IAEA report on Iran strongly suggests that Iran is seeking to weaponise its nuclear programme, finding "credible" information to support this allegation.
◊ Crucially, the report finds evidence that Iran has:
(a) procured "nuclear related and dual use equipment and materials by military related individuals and entities;"
(b) developed "undeclared pathways for the production of nuclear material;"
(c) acquired "nuclear weapons development information and documentation from a clandestine nuclear supply network;"
(d) worked "on the development of an indigenous design of a nuclear weapon including the testing of components."
◊ The report also states that while some of the "activities identified... have civilian as well as military applications, others are specific to nuclear weapons."
◊ The consensus that Iran's nuclear programme has a military aim is long established among Western diplomats but the report will mark a paradigm shift in the decade-long diplomatic effort to isolate Iran over its nuclear ambitions.
◊ Six successive Security Council Resolutions calling on Iran to halt uranium enrichment have been ignored by Tehran. Iran has spurned outright or failed to respond to multiple offers of significant concessions to come to an agreement to bring its nuclear activity under the control of proper safeguards, with the international community making clear that Iran has a right to peaceful nuclear technology.
◊ Alarm over the nature of Iran's intentions focuses both on the technical nature of the nuclear programme, a significant part of which does not have a civilian application, as well as the clandestine nature of its location and the evasion of IAEA safeguards. In 2010 Iran was exposed to have been building a secret underground uranium enrichment plant in a mountain near the city of Qom.
◊ A clandestine war between Iran and the West is discernible, manifesting itself in Iran's evasion of sanctions both financial and in terms of procurement on the one hand and in the assassinations of Iranian physicists and the Stuxnet cyber-attack on nuclear power plant control systems on the other.
◊ With media reports of Israel's serious consideration of a preemptive strike on Iran, possibly aided by the United States and Great Britain, the key question is whether the IAEA report will strengthen diplomatic efforts to bring Iran into compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty or if a military confrontation of some kind is now inevitable.
As noted earlier, the just released IAEA report has confirmed Israel’s worst fears and raised accusations against former IAEA Chief ElBaradei.
At first glance, the report comes as no surprise. In military circles, it is an open secret that Iran has been trying to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons and to develop a nuclear explosive device. Eitan Livne, an Israeli expert on Iran, told the German news agency DPA on Wednesday that Israel and Western intelligence agencies had known most of the information in the report for "years."
What is new, however, is that the IAEA has now joined the ranks of those who are warning of the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. Under former director general, Egypt's Mohamed ElBaradei, who headed the IAEA from 1997 to 2009, the reports from the Vienna-based agency always read the same: The IAEA had asked Iran for more cooperation and transparency, but Tehran had turned a deaf ear and only granted limited access to IAEA inspectors. Year after year, the conclusions that ElBaradei drew from the brief reports sounded similar: There was no proof against the Iranians, so they were left alone. In 2005, ElBaradei, together with the IAEA, won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work. In 2009, he was succeeded by Yukiya Amano of Japan.
Since taking office in Vienna, Amano has taken a new tack. Under his aegis, the agency has now presented its most extensive and detailed report on Iran to date. Amano has proved that the UN agency has bite -- and in the process sparked a debate about the loyalties of his predecessor.
The report has triggered a heated reaction in the Israeli media. The IAEA had known for years what the Iranians were doing with their nuclear program, wrote commentator Ben Caspit in the Maariv newspaper. But the agency, which is precisely the institution that is supposed to stop nuclear proliferation, stood idly by as Iran attained the capacities to build an atomic bomb step by step, he claimed. Caspit accused ElBaradei, who he dubbed an "Egyptian clown," of being a "collaborator" with the Iranian regime. He claimed that ElBaradei had given the Iranians the "valuable time" they needed.
The fact that ElBaradei, who is being accused of siding with Iran, is running as a candidate in next year's Egyptian presidential elections has caused additional concern in Israel. The report must trigger "hard questions" in Egypt, writes the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
There are some interesting aspects of this IAEA report. It refers to information provided by a member state. Is that the US or the UK? Doubtful. Israel is not presently a member of the IAEA so that puts it out of contention on the surface. Or is it some other IAEA member who has direct access to privileged information from countrymen employed directly in assisting the Iranian nuclear program, Russia. After all, Russians employed on Iran’s nuclear program, do return home on holiday to visit with families and "others." Perhaps they even come back with useful tidbits captured on their memory sticks, as one source speculated. Israel also has a large Russian émigré population and a fairly effective Intelligence capability. Perhaps, it may also have acquired the information through indirect means from Russian and possibly Iranian sources. That is the opinion of Jerusalem Post military analyst Yaakov Katz, who expressed the view that Israeli might have supplied some of the intelligence backing the IAEA findings on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, see here.
Now that the world has seen the intent of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, what could be done about it? Yaakov Katz in a Jerusalem Post report, based on Reuters’ analysis, speculated that it might ratchet up sanctions against the Bank of Iran and there has been talk of more sanctions against IRGC leaders. They are alleged to have offshore wealth in the Gulf region and elsewhere. Think of Dubai and Bahrain that have been veritable financial free trade zones for the IRGC leadership. Realize that Iran has its financial back channels. If you think that tougher procurement sanctions are fool proof, guess again. Turkey, China, Russia and Pakistan will facilitate shipment of strategic materials from outside sources to the Islamic Republic.
Given the unfortunate open microphone remark of French President Sarkozy at the Cannes G-20 meetings, bashing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel is isolated and has difficult choices when it comes to military options. We have discussed a number of these and IDF capabilities including a possible EMP attack via a Jericho III ICBM, or cruise missiles launched from Dolphin submarines, UAV swarming attacks, or cyber warfare with the launch of Stuxnet 2.0. Israel must first deal with the threat from Iran’s proxies next door, Hizbullah with its tens of thousands of rockets and missiles in Lebanon and Hamas with its arsenal of Kassem and Iranian supplied Grad rockets.
Perhaps the most realistic options are a combination of more cyber warfare and covert ops, coupled with something that we and others have promoted: embargo of gasoline shipments from refineries in the Gulf region, the EU and India. By disrupting, the IRGC’s command and control and industrial infrastructure operating software ala Stuxnet 2.0 and denying Iran’s economy and population with gasoline, internal command and control communications, and economic havoc might result. The hanging sword of Damocles might be the EMP attack threat that Israel credibly demonstrated last week with the test launch of a Jericho III ICBM. The missing component, that the US and the West has shamefully neglected, is creating a secular Iranian civil opposition to foster the regime’s collapse. Those hated Basij thugs would have no gas for their motorbikes to attack the opposition.
Those are some of the things that Israel and the West could try. The issue in the wake of the release of the IAEA report is will they and how soon? The Obama Administration is unlikely to pursue a military option, could it be cajoled to undertake the alternatives? If not, Israel can’t wait until a possibly friendlier President is in the Oval Office. It may have to act soon, by itself.
However Small, Still It's Something To Cheer Us Up
Iran Halts Oil Exports to Pakistan as Sanctions Bite, Mehr Says
November 09, 2011
By Shaji Mathew
Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Iran stopped exporting oil to neighboring Pakistan after a refiner in the South Asian nation failed to obtain financing for a purchase due to U.S. and European Union sanctions on Iran, Mehr news agency reported.
National Iranian Oil Co. signed a contract to sell 12,000 barrels of oil a day to state-owned Pakistan Oil Refining Co., state-run Mehr reported today, citing Pakistan’s Minister for Petroleum and Natural Resources Asim Hussain. Some banks in Pakistan rejected the Karachi-based refinery’s requests to open letters of credit in favor of the Iranian company, according to the report.
Iran, the second-largest OPEC producer after Saudi Arabia, was the sole supplier to the refiner, which has closed for unspecified “technical reasons,” Hussain said, according to Mehr. The date for the halt in exports, and whether any other Pakistani importers might be affected, was unclear.
The Persian Gulf country is under U.S., EU and United Nations sanctions because of its nuclear program. The restrictions make it difficult for many foreign companies to do business with Iran.
Tense reconciliation begins with Libya's Saharan tribes
By Oliver Holmes
OBARI, Libya | Wed Nov 9, 2011
Nov 9 (Reuters) - "Let us all speak frankly, the Tuareg were with Gaddafi," the revolutionary fighter spat across the table.
Ali Aghali, a Tuareg tribesman, calmly pulled his hands out from under his turquoise robe and placed them on the table. He made sure that the fighter had finished speaking.
"We are not Gaddafi supporters. Everyone was with Gaddafi before the war, we have left him," he said smiling with his eyes, his mouth covered by a pastel yellow head scarf.
The fighter, from the northwestern Libyan town of Zintan, interrupted: "They were."
Meeting in a compound that used to be Muammar Gaddafi's private retreat outside the desert town of Obari, Zintan fighters and a civil and military delegation from the capital of Tripoli are here to make sure the revolution has fully arrived.
Tensions are running high. Many Tuareg nomad tribes, who roam the southern Sahara desert spanning the borders of Libya and its neighbours, backed Gaddafi late into the war.
The Arab fighters of Zintan, on the other hand, pride themselves on the speed at which they turned on Gaddafi. Zintan brigades came here to fight loyalists of the late Libyan leader in June and some have stayed behind, saying they intend to disarm the Tuareg, mediate disputes and reconcile the region with the interim government in the north, the National Transitional Council (NTC).
Many look upon the nomads with suspicion.
"I've been sent from the Ministry of Defence to sort it out here," said one commander, accusing the Tuareg of fighting for Gaddafi and raping women in the northern cities of Misrata and Zawiya, where bloody battles raged during the civil war.
"I will fix it. We are from Zintan and we are real revolutionaries. We need to stay in control here," he added.
The NTC faces the huge task of reconciling groups all over the country now that Gaddafi is gone after 42 years, and has sent delegations to sensitive areas around the country.
In towns around Libya, locals say people have been killed in raids by former rebel brigades seeking revenge against men they believed had fought on Gaddafi's side. There are fears of regional violence, especially in the previous Gaddafi stronghold towns of Sirte, Bani Walid and Sabha, only 200 km (125 miles) from Obari.
This region was one of the last bastions of Gaddafi in Libya and was only fully taken over by forces loyal to the NTC a month after he was toppled.
Many Tuareg backed Gaddafi because he supported their rebellion against the governments of Mali and Niger -- where there are large populations of Tuareg -- in the 1970s and later allowed more than 100,000 to settle in southern Libya.
The tribes are important to regional security because the Tuareg have huge influence in the vast, empty desert expanses which are often exploited by drug traffickers and Islamist militants as a safe haven for their operations.
Porous borders, discontent and availability of arms make this region one of the potential hot spots to present an armed challenge to the interim government.
The Tuareg say they are the victims of bad press, named as Gaddafi mercenaries because he used black Africans to fight in the north and accused of giving shelter to Gaddafi's family and his loyalists, a claim that many in the north uphold, including the prime minister of the interim government.
"There are still a lot of Gaddafi supporters in the desert, most are black people who speak Arabic. They thought if Gaddafi fell they would become slaves again. Life was very difficult before Gaddafi for them," said Aghali, who has come to meet the Zintani fighters and discuss what will happen next.
"But most Tuareg are not supporters of Gaddafi, we saw a lot of planes bringing mercenaries from African countries to fight in the north (during the war)," he said.
Aghali spent most of his life living just outside Gaddafi's walled villa and as a child used to play in the fields on which the compound was built in 1990.
He went into the actual compound for the first time only a few days ago, and now he sits drinking tea at the dining room table, surrounded by Gaddafi's expensive glassware.
"Most Gaddafi supporters (here) are staying in their houses and a lot try to join the revolution. Now, slowly, life will become good," he said.
The Tuareg tribesmen are a blur of flowing robes in Gaddafi's living room as they discuss their qualms with the country's new rulers.
Although the region does have second and third generation Zintani inhabitants, many of the fighters came during the war and act like an occupying force -- armed to the hilt and patrolling the streets in convoys.
A Tuareg man was recently shot dead by a Zintani, but few are willing to speak of details and mediations are held behind closed doors -- tribal feuds can spiral into further violence, they say.
"One man was walking in the street and revolutionaries shot him," said Ahmed Matu, a Tuareg mediator from Obari, a town of around 400,000 people filled with impoverished migrants, many of them Tuareg from Mali, Niger and Chad.
Outside, the sprinklers had been turned back on and Matu sits in a room full of chandeliers. Most of the cabinets are empty --
At a college in central Obari, the NTC Tripoli delegation has come to hold a "town hall" style meeting with around 200 Tuareg elders and some of the Zintani fighters.
"I should care about Libya, not only my village or myself," a representative of the NTC said over a microphone.
"A doctor from Obari is the same as a doctor from Tripoli or Benghazi," he added, to the crowd's cheers.
Both the Zintanis and the Tuareg want to give the impression that progress is being made and laugh and joke together, but the mood becomes tense at times.
Tuareg were given the chance to express their grievances.
One man said that he had cars stolen and another demanded that imprisoned Tuareg who fought for Gaddafi in Zintan would be released.
An NTC military commander said the prisoners would be released after the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha this week, but from the depths of a crowd of Zintanis one fighter shouted out, "They have blood on their hands. The Tuareg signed an agreement with Gaddafi."
The room erupted with shouting as the Tuareg tried to refute the claim, desperate to appear to be cooperating. The Tuareg fear reprisals and during the meeting tribesmen try to portray themselves as victims too.
"We got nothing from Gaddafi," one elder cried to roars of applause. In towns around Libya, locals say people had been killed in raids by former rebel brigades seeking revenge against men they believed had fought on Gaddafi's side.
Members of the NTC Tripoli delegation make some progress but still leave feeling battered and exhausted.
"We'll have to come back," said a member of the military delegation.
"First we need to solve the personal dispute then we need to put the people here on the right course. We need to get all the guns. We need to open the schools. Because you know the revolution came later here. Some of the southern villagers do not even know that there was a revolution," he sighed.
Mossa Elkony, a Tuareg representative to the NTC, says the war has left "psychological wounds that demand a focus on reconciliation."
"I hope that Tuareg can restore confidence that has been lost. Unfortunately, they have been involved in this war," he said, just before boarding a military transport aircraft back to the capital. "This makes haters against the Tuareg. We are afraid of a spark. We need to get rid of it at the beginning because it could become a roaring fire."
In Bani Walid, Warfalla Tribe Members Vow: Vengeance Is Ours, We Will Repay
Gaddafi loyalists thirst for revenge
2011-11-01Bani Walid - Members of Libya's powerful Warfalla tribe say they are thirsting for revenge after their bastion Bani Walid was looted and pillaged by anti-Gaddafi fighters.
"Tomorrow is another day. We will get our revenge sooner or later," said a Warfalla tribesman, pointing to shelled and burnt-out buildings in the oasis town, southeast of Tripoli.
Refusing to be filmed, and giving his name only as Suleiman, he said he fears the new regime's fighters, who defeated Muammar Gaddafi’s beleaguered loyalists in Bani Walid two weeks ago after more than a month of fierce fighting.
"We stopped fighting when we ran out of ammunition. Then we secured a safe passage for the volunteers," he said, referring to loyalists who had come from other regions.
"Most of the town's residents hid their weapons and stayed in their homes; others joined the rebels," he added.
Lingering tensions between supporters of the National Transitional Council and former Gaddafi strongholds are potentially one of the biggest problems facing Libya's interim government.
The point was highlighted in a Human Rights Watch report released on Sunday that accused NTC militia of revenge attacks on the displaced residents of Tawargha because of their alleged participation in atrocities committed by Gaddafi’s forces in the nearby town of Misrata.
Jubilant NTC fighters entered Bani Walid on October 17, after weeks of fierce resistance, astonished by the sudden capitulation and disappearance of the pro-Gaddafi fighters. The town was virtually empty.
"When the thwar [revolutionary fighters] failed to find the Gaddafi brigades they had been expecting, they were furious. They shot at dogs, at houses, they looted and burned apartments and public buildings," said Suleiman.
"Now the whole town is angry. The thwar punished everyone, by destroying their homes, stealing their cars and killing their relatives," he added, in a voice full of hatred and sadness.
"Bani Walid is a tribal society. We don't have foreigners here. There is only the Warfalla tribe and no one can govern us... We will act sooner or later, here and even in Tripoli," he warned.
The Warfalla, Libya's largest tribe with one million members, in a country of six to seven million, are divided into dozens of clans spread across the nation, with other strongholds in the eastern Cyrenaica region.
Warfalla opposition towards the ousted despot, mainly in Cyrenaica, dates back to the 1990s, when dozens of army officers were rounded up, charged with conspiracy, and some executed.
But Bani Walid's inhabitants were staunch supporters of the Gaddafi regime.
Now the town, just 170km from the capital, epitomises the problems the NTC must resolve, especially the reconciliation process it must undertake if it is to bring cohesion to the liberated but fragile nation.
Despite an air of desolation hanging over Bani Walid, efforts are underway to repair and rebuild.
"But it is very difficult," said Mohammed Ahmed, his hands covered in paint as he attempts to make his apartment inhabitable once again.
He says gunbattles are still common between the residents and NTC fighters.
Unlike in other Libyan cities, the red, black and green flag of "Free Libya" is barely visible, while there are signs of normal life resuming, but only very slowly.
In the town centre, where volunteers sweep away the bullet cases and rubble, one young man, Al-Sahbi al-Warfalli, sells vegetables from an improvised stall.
Speaking under his breath, he admits to fighting alongside the Gaddafi loyalists.
"Yes, I fought against those thieves. It is a revolution of thieves. They destroyed everything, they stole everything," he said.
"Bani Walid paid the price for supporting Gaddafi. But we love him, and we are waiting for the sign to take up arms again," he added.
His cousin agrees.
"We have defended our houses and our honour. We will avenge every person killed and every house raided," he said.
L'ambassadeur de France à l'ONU Gérard Araud a critiqué aujourd'hui "l'indifférence" d'une partie des membres du Conseil de sécurité face à la répression des manifestants en Syrie, son homologue américaine appelant le Conseil à remplir "ses responsabilités".
"Le Conseil a abdiqué ses responsabilités : certains (Chine et Russie, ndlr) ont opposé leur veto à une action même limitée du Conseil de Sécurité. D'autres ont choisi l'abstention, c'est-à-dire l'indifférence", a ajouté Gérard Araud lors d'un discours prononcé devant le Conseil.
"Alors que le gouvernement syrien continue de tirer sur sa population, l'assiège, recourt aux arrestations arbitraires par milliers, aux disparitions forcées, et à la torture, le Conseil de sécurité n'a donc pu jouer son rôle en matière de protection des civils", a-t-il dit lors d'un débat sur la protection des civils en zones de conflit armé, évoquant un "échec grave". "La France continuera à oeuvrer avec détermination afin que le Conseil, qui a maintenant pu constater le coût de son inaction, joue enfin son rôle", a encore souligné l'ambassadeur.
L'ambassadrice américaine à l'ONU Susan Rice a de son côté estimé que la Syrie représentait, en termes de protection des civils, le défi le plus "immédiat" pour le Conseil de sécurité. En dépit du double véto russo-chinois, "la crise en Syrie demeure au programme du Conseil de sécurité et nous ne nous arrêterons pas jusqu'à ce que ce Conseil remplisse ses responsabilités", a-t-elle ajouté. [And the Americans, too, appear not to understand what the collapse of the Alawite regime would mean for Christians and other minorities in Syria]
Le 4 octobre, le Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU n'avait pas réussi à adopter une résolution qui condamnait le régime syrien, après un veto de la Chine et de la Russie, membres permanents du Conseil. Le Brésil, l'Inde, l'Afrique du Sud et le Liban s'étaient alors abstenus. La France, la Grande-Bretagne et l'Allemagne ont indiqué qu'elles rechercheraient de nouvelles voies pour que le Conseil de sécurité, à défaut, condamne les violences en Syrie. Plus de 3500 personnes ont été tuées en Syrie depuis le début des manifestations contre le président syrien Bachar Al-Assad.
‘I conceived at Naples a tenfold deeper loathing than ever of the hideous heritage of the past – & felt for a moment as if I should like to devote my life to laying railroads & erecting blocks of stores on the most classic & romantic sites.’
You don't know, do you? And you want me to give you a hint. But I can't. I won't.
Okay, you've waited long enough.
Google away, and then pull up what you've caught from McElligott's Pool.