Sunday, 31 December 2017
Suspect admits to planning St Petersburg supermarket attack

MOSCOW (AFP) – The man arrested by Russian authorities over an attack on a supermarket in St Petersburg has admitted to planning the act and planting the homemade bomb that wounded 18 people, investigators said Sunday (Dec 31).

“During questioning, the suspect confirmed having organised and carried out the crime,” the Russian Investigative Committee said in a statement. “He said his act was motivated by a hatred of the organisers and members of the psychological centres he attended”.

The suspect also hid two USB drives that contained “information on the reasons which pushed him to commit the crime and a picture of the explosive device” near the scene of Wednesday’s attack. 

The man had been registered at a psychiatric clinic since the age of 19, investigators said.

The suspect was named as 35-year-old Dmitry Lukyanenko, a resident of Saint Petersburg and member of the nationalist “New Age” movement by Russian news agency Interfax. The man reportedly lived an anti-social life and had previously been convicted for drug possession.

Investigators have now labelled the crime an “act of terrorism” after first classifying it as “attempted murder”.

Posted on 12/31/2017 11:02 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 31 December 2017
Questions, Questions, Questions!


Today is Christmas Sunday and the Feast of the Holy Family, as well as New Year’s Eve. So, as you raise glass in celebration of having survived another turbulent year I thought you might all enjoy another five questions in my seasonal quiz. Answers, as usual, will be on Twelfth Night.

You can find the first twenty-one questions in this quiz here at NER and the five questions posted on the last Sunday of Advent, Christmas Eve that was, also here at NER. The Christmas Day questions can be found on this page.

Please remember that all the answers have something to do with Christmas.


(1)  What does a “thief of the tree” have to do with Christmas?

(2)  What did Sir John Horsley do for Sir Henry Cole in AD1843?

(3)  Which royal personage first used a Christmas tree in the UK?

(4)  What did a saint do in AD1223?

(5)  What was the fourteenth President of the USA the first to do?




Posted on 12/31/2017 10:49 AM by John M. Joyce
Sunday, 31 December 2017
Man held over St Petersburg supermarket blast
A man has been arrested in connection with a St Petersburg supermarket bombing that wounded 18 people, Russia's main domestic security agency said.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) did not identify the suspect or provide any details about his motive. The agency said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies that he organised and carried out the attack on his own.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the blast, but a member of the security committee in the lower house of Russia's parliament cast doubt on the claim, saying it might have been an attempt by IS to gain publicity.

"Now, when the IS defeat in Syria seriously dented its image, it will try to restore its authority and claim responsibility for the attacks by others," Adalbi Shakhgoshev said, according to Russian news wires.

The FSB said it has handed over the suspect to the Investigative Committee, the nation's top investigative agency. The FSB normally deals with terror suspects itself, and the transfer could indicate that the man had other motives.

The Interfax news agency reported that the suspect was a 35-year-old local resident who said he was a member of an occult movement and was taking drugs.

Russian law enforcement agencies stopped short of immediately describing the supermarket blast as a terror attack, but President Vladimir Putin called it one on Thursday. He added that he ordered security agencies to kill terror suspects on the spot if they resist arrest.

Posted on 12/31/2017 2:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 30 December 2017
AMCD Urges Support for Iranian Anti-Government Demonstrators


The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy (AMCD) applauds the proud Iranian people’s peaceful protests over the actions of the few non-elected, self-appointed Iranian regime officials. We encourage the Trump administration to extend active support to the large and growing secular element of Iranian society in their quest for freedom and their will to embrace modernity.

“Freedom and Liberty are God given rights equally owned by Iranians who wrote the first declaration of human rights 2500 years ago,” said AMCD’s founding member Hossein Khorram. “It a shame this resourceful nation with such a rich history has become victim to the tyranny of a handful of mullahs at the head of its corrupt theocratic government.”

As the signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, AMCD insists the US must hold the Iranian regime responsible for the welfare and safety of Iranian people exercising their right to a peaceful protest. 

“Before the Iranian regime expects respect from other nations it must respect their own people and immediately release all of those who have been arrested during these peaceful protects,” declared AMCD’s President John Hajjar.

“The Iranian regime’s failure to respect their citizens’ rights will only deepens the existing mistrust towards that regime and will increase the international community’s sanctions against the regime,” he continued.

“The remarkable will of the Iranian people to denounce terrorism will force the end of terrorist groups supported by Iran such as Hezbollah, Hamas and others who are fomenting instability throughout the entire region,” added AMCD’s Co-Director, Tom Harb.

We at AMCD stand shoulder to shoulder with the Iranian American Community in support of freedom and liberty for the Iranians who have enriched the world with their enormous contributions to humanity. We declare the time has come for the regime to concede their power back to the people of Iran and to allow them to determine their own destiny as full and equal members of the modern world.

Posted on 12/30/2017 1:35 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 30 December 2017
Memory of Cornish coast dwellers kidnapped for slavery 'culturally erased'

I am not the only one who keeps reminding people of this part of our history. From the Telegraph

The memory of thousands of Cornish people who were kidnapped and sold into slavery has been “culturally erased”, campaigners have said.

Academics are trying to revive knowledge about pirates from the Barbary coast in North Africa who terrorised West Country maritime communities during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Also known as the Barbary corsairs, the seafarers targeted settlements across the western Mediterranean and Atlantic European coasts until they were finally suppressed for good in 1830.

Historians say Cornish records reveal family members pleading for ransom money to buy their loved-ones back.

Professor Jo Esra, from the University of Exeter, said the piracy was an “incredibly significant” aspect of the history of the South West. “There’s an element that it has been culturally erased in some way,” she told the BBC.“This was an aspect of history that impacted enormously on those ordinary, maritime communities. They were the ones that were enslaved and they were the ones that were taken, they were the communities that were decimated, through the activities of the barbary pirates.”

The Barbary pirates operated primarily from Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli and Rabat and occasionally sailed as far as Iceland to capture slaves, which they then traded in North African slave markets.

As well as raiding coastal towns, they also capture thousands of ships over almost two centuries.

Every time I attend the Museum of Docklands in East London I leave a note on the 'tribute wall' of the Slavery Gallery (Atlantic black trade only) reminding visitors and curators of the Barbary Coast trade in white Englishmen and women (and Irish, and probably Welsh). (On the other hand, to the museum's credit, their section on the Blitz on east London and the clearances of the Isle of Dogs to transform it into 'Docklands' is excellent.)

Posted on 12/30/2017 11:28 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 30 December 2017
Garry Wills, Qur’anic Scholar

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Garry Wills’s What the Qur’an Meant and Why It Matters begins with a statement of his certainties. He knows that students of the Qur’an, like himself, “must deal with militant misuses of it” and “blatantly distorted reports of what it says.” Garry Wills knows better. For if the militants understood the Qur’an correctly, then they would comprehend the peaceful nature of Islam, and give up terrorism. And if Islamophobes would cease to offer their “blatantly distorted reports of what it says,” non-Muslims could see all the good to be found in the Qur’an. Both Muslims and non-Muslims could then come to agree with that formidable scholar of Islam, Pope Francis, who has written “Authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” That “proper reading” of the Qur’an is what Wills takes as his main task in this book.

But before he gets to that proper reading, he offers what is the least inaccurate, and most amusing, part of his book, which has nothing to do with the Qur’an but is, rather, his scathing description of those who led us into the Iraq War, and the chrestomathy he presents of naive, ignorant, and arrogant statements that American officials, from President George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld on down, made about that colossal error. He reminds us of all the predictions that were so confidently made: “It was unlikely that there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups.” (George Bush); “We will, in fact, be greeted as liberators…It will go relatively quickly…weeks rather than months…”; “The streets in Basra and Baghdad are sure to erupt in joy.” (Dick Cheney); “Once we start this, Saddam is toast.” (Dick Cheney); “Our military can do the job and finish it fast….five days or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.” (Donald Rumsfeld); “Liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk.” (Kenneth Adelman); “It’s a slam dunk.” (George Tenet).

The war in Iraq was not over in a few weeks. It lasted eight years, from 2003 to 2011. It was no “slam dunk” or “cakewalk,” but involved more than two million American soldiers in Iraq (there were more than a million in Afghanistan.) They were not greeted as liberators by any Iraqi Arabs, though the Shi’a, unlike the Sunni Arabs, were at least — at first — not murderously resentful. Only the Kurds displayed genuine gratitude for the protection from Saddam’s air force that the Americans had provided them from 1991 on.

Bush’s confident assertion that it was “unlikely there would be internecine warfare” was an amazing remark, for the Sunni suppression of the Shi’a, including putting down rebellions in 1991 and 1999, was the most salient feature of Saddam’s despotism. How the Sunni Arabs of Iraq, who constituted a mere 19% of the population, managed to hold onto power and keep the Shi’a Arabs, who were 65% of the population, underfoot, and to crush their two rebellions, was surely something Bush ought to have known about. And one prediction that could have safely been made was the very opposite of what Bush suggested. Whatever else happened once Saddam Hussein was removed, there was certain to be a complete upending of the old order and the replacement of the ruling Sunnis by the Shi’a Arabs. The Shi’a Arabs would not relinquish the power they had newly acquired, thanks to the Americans, and  the  Sunni Arabs were never going to acquiesce in their loss of power. As a consequence, this led to more than a decade of that internecine warfare that Bush so cavalierly dismissed; even now, it has not been extinguished.

Wills has great fun holding up for well-deserved ridicule all these people whose baseless certainties help explain how the Iraq fiasco came to be. And Wills is right to criticize the Iraq War. For whatever his despicable behavior inside Iraq (and Saddam Hussein was hardly a unique monster; there were other Arab despots, such as Hafez al-Assad and  Muammar Khadaffy, who rivaled him), he had nothing to do with Al-Qaeda,  and it was not our responsibility to bring truth, justice, and the American way to Iraq, or to any other wretched Muslim despotism, but only to deal with those who were linked to the 9/11 terrorists or to other Islamic terrorists. In Afghanistan, on the other hand, the war was justified, as that country served as the safe haven for Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.

Once Wills turned his attention from Iraq to the Qur’an, I felt the first stirrings of alarm. For he begins by describing his surprise at not finding any mention in the Qur’an of the 72 virgins. He says the virgins are not in the Qur’an but only, he discovered, in some “discredited ahadith.” And thus, he continues, those 9/11 terrorists “were quite ignorant of Islamic teachings.” This does not follow. The 9/11 terrorists  might have been wrong about the 72 virgins (though the textual support for them is not as flimsy as Wills believes), but that hardly makes them “quite ignorant of Islamic teachings.” They may have been misinformed about the precise heavenly rewards awaiting them, and still be good Jihadis, dutifully following the Qur’anic commands to kill the Infidels wherever they are found, and “striking terror” in their hearts.

But there is more here to worry about. Wills claims that the ahadith about the 72 virgins are “discredited.” Does he not know that the story can be found in many different ahadith, including the canonical ahadith collections? One of the authorities for this reward of the dark-eyed virigins  is Al-Tirmidhi (see #2687), a pupil of Al-Bukhari (who greatly respected him), and the compiler of one of the six canonical ahadith collections. On what grounds does Wills claim this story of the 72 virgins has been “discredited”? Did some apologist for Islam tell him that, and Wills gullibly accepted it?

And there is one more thing. Wills says there is nothing in the Qur’an about the 72 virgins. That’s not quite true. Though the exact number of virgins is not to be found in the Qur’an, a detailed description of their sensual delights can be found therein. Avi Perry notes:

The 72 Virgins notion has its origins in the Qur’an. Although the holy book does not specify the number as 72, it does say that those who fight in the way of Allah and are killed will be given a great reward. It goes on to stipulate that Muslims will be rewarded with women in the Islamic heaven. It even describes their physical attributes—large eyes (Q 56:22) and big, firm, round “swelling breasts” that are not inclined to sagging (Q 78:33). The Qur’an refers to these virgins as houri, companions of equal age, but the highly-flavored emphasis of their bodily characteristics, including their virginity, gave rise to many hadiths and other Islamic writings.

Not only are the many ahadith where 72 virgins are mentioned not “discredited,” but a fatwa by one of the Islamic world’s leading scholars of the subject concludes that these ahadith about the 72 virgins are “good” and may be relied on. Wills makes no mention of any of these supporting ahadith, about which more information can be found here.

Why does he give so much attention to this business of the 72 virgins? Wills wants readers to believe that the terrorists were ignorant of Islam (but Al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS, was not the only terrorist leader with years of Islamic study behind him, and degrees to prove it), and if he can show they are wrong about the virgins, then by his weird illogic, they must get everything else wrong about Islam as well.

Something else about the Qur’an came as a surprise to Wills:

What did the scripture of Islam tell me about the duty to kill infidels? Some people are sure it is there, though it isn’t.’

This is an extraordinary statement.

There are 109 verses calling for violent jihad, commanding Muslims to fight — and ordinarily you can’t fight without killing — the Infidel enemy.

Perhaps what Garry Wills meant is that the duty incumbent on all Muslims is not so much to kill Infidels (though killing is called for, he might argue that it is not, strictly speaking, the main point), as to subjugate them and then give them a choice: to be killed, to convert to Islam, or to accept their permanent status as dhimmis, required to pay the jizyah and to be subject to a host of onerous conditions.

That might be what he meant, but if that were the case, then one would expect him to dwell on the “dhimmi” option, that allows the Infidels to live, in order to minimize, if he can, the burden of what was required of them. But instead, Wills never discusses the status of ”dhimmi,” and not once do the words “dhimmi” and “jizyah” appear anywhere in this book on the Qur’an. And it is no accident that he refrains from quoting 9:29, even though it is in this verse that Muslims are commanded not to kill but to “fight,” because it is also the best-known of the Qur’anic verses that sets out the main requirement for dhimmis — payment of the Jizyah “with willing submission.” Wills does want not to draw attention to what the non-Muslims, as dhimmis under Muslim rule, had to endure.

It might be noted that Wills uses something called The Study Qur’an, which is a massive attempt, 1,988 pages long, by five Muslim co-authors, who are in the business not of elucidation but of obfuscation, attempting to distract those who use their guide with half-truths or, still worse, interpreting verses to mean the opposite of what they say. More on The Study Qur’an can be found here. Wills is especially fond of quoting Joseph Lumbard, a convert and one of the five compilers of The Study Qur’an, of whom you can read more here. Lumbard is one of those who tries to convince you that the Qur’anic command to kill the Infidel really isn’t meant to apply to all Infidels. You’ve got to understand that command, claims Lumbard, as only applying to a particular time and place.

Another book Wills favors is Michael Sells’s Approaching the Qur’an, which offers a bowdlerized Qur’an, that leaves out all the unpleasant passages commanding Jihad warfare, passes over in silence all the many antisemitic passages in the Qur’an, omits the verses dripping with contempt for all Infidels (“the most vile of creatures”), and does this in the service of its mission, which is to present the “aesthetic quality” of the Qur’an as a text to be chanted, for which Sells thoughtfully supplies recordings of Qur’anic recitations to please his readers.

When this Approaching the Qur’an — a work of obvious apologetics — was assigned to incoming freshmen at the University of North Carolina, many people took the side of those parents who did not want their children to be subject to a tendentious abridgment of the Qur’an, heavily blue-pencilled, that was presented, falsely, as a truthful version of that book. Wills mocks William F. Buckley Jr. and Franklin Graham for taking the side of the parents: “Their concern was clearly to keep others as ignorant of the book as they had managed to remain.”

No, that was not their concern. Their concern was to prevent impressionable students from being forced to read not the Qur’an, but a heavily expurgated version of it — that by Michael Sells — that leaves out  the violent passages concerning Jihad and infidels. As Buckley wrote: “This edition is exorcised of any sentiments that might have inspired the 9/11 terrorists.” In Wills’ telling, these islamophobic know-nothings would also have prevented a full version of the Qur’an from being assigned, though there is no evidence of that. Why didn’t the University of North Carolina assign the full Qur’an? By not doing so, and instead distributing an apologetic work (for a bowdlerized Qur’an, making it appear much more peaceful than it is, is a work of apology), it was promoting, proselytizing, shilling for a specific religion — Islam. This was being done at the state-funded University of North Carolina, not at a Muslim seminary, and promoting one religion over others at a public university raises constitutional issues. Wills never addresses that; I suspect it is because, having admitted that Sells’ sanitized version stresses the “aesthetic quality” of the Qur’an (and it would be easy to comb Sell’s text to show just how much, and exactly what, he left out, in order to present the Qur’an in a benign light), he can’t successfully argue that UNC was not promoting one religion over others.

A key chapter in Wills’s study is “Peace to Believers.” It is here that the massive misrepresentation, and misunderstanding, of Qur’anic verses begins, with 5:51. In this verse Allah unambiguously tells the Believers “do not take Jews and Christians as allies” [or “friends”]; it further says that if you take them as allies, then you “become one of them.” Wills sees 5:51 as saying, instead, that Muslims cannot “run under the shield of another people [Jews or Christians] for protection, as if the Quran were not a strong enough pledge on God’s part to protect his people.”

Is that what 5:51 says? Is it merely a way of affirming faith in the Qur’an, a way of saying “there is no need to take Christians and Jews as friends (i.e., protectors) because the Qur’an offers protection enough? And if you seek them as friends or allies then you are demonstrating insufficient faith in Islam?” That’s what Wills wants you to believe. But isn’t it really a reminder to Muslims not to take Jews and Christians as friends  because they are the permanent enemies of Muslims? And if you are friendly with them, and thus become like them, you will then be punished, for “God does not guide such wrongdoers.” Wills does not quote the authoritative Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir, who glosses 5:51 thus:  “Allah forbids His believing servants from having Jews and Christians as friends, because they are the enemies of Islam and its people, may Allah curse them.” Could it be made any clearer? Allah continues in this vein in 5:52-60, excoriating the hypocrites and the People of the Book (most of whom are “defiantly disobedient” — 5:59), reminding them that some of “those whom Allah has cursed and with whom He became angry” were transformed into “apes and pigs” (5:60). For Ibn Kathir, 5:51 is simple and clear: Jews and Christians are “the enemies of Islam,” Allah must curse them, and good Muslims should have nothing do with them. It is only very recent apologists for Islam who have distorted the text’s meaning, interpreting it not as a declaration of enmity to non-Muslims, but as an affirmation of trust in the protection afforded by the Qur’an, so that such “friends” are not needed.

As for the Jews, Wills apparently thinks that only a handful of verses could possibly be called antisemitic. If he thinks that, he cannot have studied the Qur’an, as he claims, with care. As one of the “few” examples (in reality there are more than two dozen) of antisemitism in the Qur’an, he quotes 4:160-62:

For the wrongdoing done by the Jews, We forbade them certain good things that had been permitted to them before: for having frequently debarred others from God’s path; for taking usury when they had been forbidden to do; and for wrongfully devouring other people’s property, For those of them that reject the truth We have prepared an agonizing torment. But those of them who are well grounded in knowledge and have faith do believe in what has been revealed to you [Muhammad], and in what was revealed before you–those who perform the prayers, pay the prescribed alms, and believe in God and the Last Day– to them We shall give a great reward (4:160-162).

Wills apparently did not notice that the “out” that is offered the Jews is nothing less than forced conversion to Islam. For those Jews who remain Jews, an “agonizing torment” has been prepared, and that is all they deserve. But those Jews who have knowledge and faith will believe in what has been revealed to Muhammad, as they do in what was revealed to earlier prophets, and they will fulfill the duties of Muslims — performing the five daily prayers of an observant Muslim, paying the zakat (“prescribed alms”) — required of Muslims, believing in God and the Last Day — and thus become Muslims.

Wills then comments: “This [but this is just one antisemitic verse among so many] has been used to show that the Qur’an is anti-Semitic (though not nearly as anti-semitic as the New Testament Gospel of John or Letter to the Hebrews). And it should be remembered that the Old Testament itself often rebukes God’s people….”

In other words, instead of denying, or even discussing, the antisemitism in this passage, Wills immediately offers a Tu-Quoque defense of Islam: just look, there are many passages in the Gospels even more antisemitic, and don’t forget that in the Old Testament, too, the Jews are rebuked. To that one can only reply: so what? None of that should make us overlook or minimize the antisemitism of this passage — the only antisemitic passage he quotes — nor, more importantly, of the dozens of other antisemitic passages in the Qur’an, which Wills chooses to pass over in complete silence.

Here are the references to twenty-five of those antisemitic passages in the Qur’an, as well as relevant glosses by both classic Qur’anic commentators, such as Ibn Kathir, and by recent Muslim clerics — a steady stream of Islamic antisemitism that Garry Wills somehow managed not to notice but that, fortunately, Robert Spencer has conveniently collected:

The Qur’an depicts the Jews as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the wellbeing of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more.

The classic Qur’anic commentators  do not soften the Qur’an’s words against Jews, but only add fuel to the fire. Ibn Kathir explained Qur’an 2:61 (“They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah”) this way: “This Ayah [verse] indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and that this will continue, meaning that it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly.” Another Middle Ages commentator of influence, Abdallah ibn Umar al-Baidawi, explains the same verse this way: “The Jews are mostly humiliated and wretched either of their own accord, or out of coercion of the fear of having their jizya [punitive tax] doubled.”

Ibn Kathir notes Islamic traditions that predict that at the end of the world, “the Jews will support the Dajjal (False Messiah), and the Muslims, along with ‘Isa [Jesus], son of Mary, will kill the Jews.” The idea in Islam that the end times will be marked by Muslims killing Jews comes from the prophet Muhammad himself, who said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’” This is, not unexpectedly, a favorite motif among contemporary jihadists.

Not just contemporary jihadists, but modern-day mainstream Islamic authorities take these passages seriously. The former Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, who was the most respected cleric in the world among Sunni Muslims, called Jews “the enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs.” The late Saudi sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Sudayyis, imam of the principal mosque in the holiest city in Islam, Mecca, said in a sermon that Jews are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs.”

Another Saudi sheikh, Ba’d bin Abdallah al-Ajameh al-Ghamidi, made the connection explicit: “The current behavior of the brothers of apes and pigs, their treachery, violation of agreements, and defiling of holy places … is connected with the deeds of their forefathers during the early period of Islam–which proves the great similarity between all the Jews living today and the Jews who lived at the dawn of Islam.

From this compilation by Spencer, we can see that antisemitism in Islam, and in the Qur’an, is a huge topic. It deserves a chapter to itself, but instead Wills devotes exactly one short paragraph to a discussion of verses 4:160-62, where Jews are denounced and promised an “agonizing torment”; their only hope of being spared is to convert to Islam. As far as Wills is concerned, that’s an adequate treatment of the extent of the antisemitic verses which, in fact, are to be found throughout the Qur’an.

But let’s take another look at Wills’ understanding of 5:51, which is about Jews and Christians. Wills chooses to believe, as noted above, that when Muslims are instructed in the Qur’an not to be friends (or allies) with Jews and Christians, it’s not because there’s something wrong with the Infidels, but only because by “seeking protection” from them, that would show a lack of faith on the part of Muslims in the protection Allah already furnishes Muslims.

In fact, 5:51 has nothing to do with a vote of confidence in Allah. It expresses the hostility, even hatred, for Infidels that Muslims should feel. That hostility to Infidels reflects the important Muslim doctrine known in Arabic by the term Al-wala’ wa-l-bara’, which means “loyalty and disavowal.” It signifies loving and hating for the sake of Allah, holding fast to all that is pleasing to Allah, and withdrawing from and opposing all that is displeasing to Allah — namely the Kuffar.

Wills does not seem to be aware of this doctrine; he fails to realize how uncompromising are the teachings of Islam about the hostility Muslims must feel for all non-Muslims. He leaves out any mention, too, of Islamic supremacism, as in the description of Muslims as “the best of peoples” (3:110) and of non-Muslims as “the most vile of creatures” (98:6). How, after all, can such straightforward verses be twisted and made to express the very opposite of what they do say? When he can’t do that, Wills simply leaves such verses out, no matter how important they may be to our understanding of Islam. You won’t find either 3:110 or 98:6 anywhere in Wills’s study.

Wills likes, when he can, to suggest comforting similarities between Islam and the other two monotheisms. The Qur’an’s teaching, according to Wills, is close to that of “primitive” or pre-Nicaean Christianity; it is critical of the post-Nicaean Trinitarianism, with Jesus as one of the three, that in Islam is understood and rejected as “shirk” — ascribing partners to God. But Islam does not, he suggests, reject all forms of Christianity. It would be fascinating to ask Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and a dozen other Muslim countries, whether they are consoled by Garry Wills’ claim about Islam’s benign view of many forms of Christianity. Islam’s opposition to the Trinity, Wills maintains, “has not prevented Pope Francis from praying to the One God with his beloved Muslims.” But that “one God” of the Muslims is quite different from, is much more aggressive and bellicose than the “One God” of the Christians.  For Wills, all Christians ought to see Islam as wise Pope Francis sees it, he who has famously said of Islam — in a remark Wills quotes admiringly — “Authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” Is this a case for Credo quia absurdum? For those who have read the Qur’an with care, no can do.

Wills then tackles the issue of “hypocrites” and apostates in Islam, offering a tortured justification of their harsh treatment; historically, the punishment for apostasy in Islam has been death. In its early days Islam “placed a high regard on maintaining fidelity to the group against the threat of persecution. Those who gave in to threats and abandoned the faith were traitors, were turncoats.” Wills seems to regard this as an acceptable view. Notice that he describes the early Muslims as requiring “fidelity to the group against threat of persecution.” What “threat of persecution” of the early Muslims does he have in mind? Once Muhammad had moved to Medina and quickly established his dominance, where were Muslims being persecuted? The history of Islam from then on, for many centuries, was one of constant, triumphant expansion. And how does he explain the much milder treatment of their own apostates by Christians, who indeed were subject to the “threat of persecution,” especially from Muslims?  Wills describes the severe punishment for Muslim apostates as if it were a thing of the distant past, though such punishments are still meted out today, if infrequently. Is he aware of just how great is the support among Muslims for killing apostates? In a 2013  Pew Research Center report, 88% of Muslims in Egypt and 62% of Muslims in Pakistan favored the death penalty for those who left Islam.

And again, in his discussion of apostasy, Wills immediately glides into Tu-Quoque, describing “the hard life of apostates” [from Judaism and Christianity] in the Letter to the Hebrews, and even comparing the Christian treatment of apostates unfavorably to that in Islam, because “it [the Qur’an] always leaves room for God’s inexhaustible mercy and forgiveness.’” That is apparently Garry Wills’ considered judgment on the Qur’an; that it “always leaves room for God’s inexhaustible mercy and forgiveness.” But does it? If apostates are executed, where is the room for “inexhaustible mercy” and “ forgiveness?” And is Christianity, which for many centuries has not punished apostates with execution, really worse than Islam on this score? Garry Wills writes that  “Christians” who betrayed the faith “lost their consecration as bishops or ordination as priests” — not exactly on the same level with the decapitation a “traitor” to Islam (that is, an apostate) faced over many centuries and, in some Muslim countries, still faces today.

Wills claims that the “solidarity of believers in the One God is reflected in the Qur’an’s marriage laws. Muslims may marry Jews or Christians without compromising the religion of any of the parties. Muhammad gave sanction to this by marrying a Jew (Safiyya bint Huyayy)….”

He’s missed the most important point about Islam and these inter-religious marriages. They are all one-way: a Muslim man can marry a Jewish or a Christian woman, but a non-Muslim man is forbidden from marrying a Muslim woman. Men and women are unequal in Islam; the man is the master in the marriage. It would therefore be an outrage for a non-Muslim husband to be able to lord it over a Muslim wife. Far from the Qur’an’s marriage laws reflecting the “solidarity” of the monotheists, the rules show clearly the inequality both between Muslim and non-Muslim, and between men and women. Does Wills know that a non-Muslim man cannot marry a Muslim woman? And why? I suspect that he does not know, as he does not know so many other things about Islam. The alternative — that he does know and is deliberately withholding such information from unwary readers for whom he must feel a certain disdain — is even more disturbing to contemplate.

The chapter on Jihad starts with a single paragraph where Wills discusses how best to convey that Arabic word’s meaning. He suggests “zeal” might be best, possibly because it is a positive word, even if “zealot” is not. Then he immediately drops the word “jihad” and veers into a lengthy discussion of the word “crusade,” which for the Christian West, he wants us to believe, is as central a notion and as omnipresent a word as “jihad” is in Islam. He comes up with exactly four examples: it was used by Eisenhower for his book “Crusade in Europe”; Billy Graham called his revivals crusades; others have had their “Crusades for Christ”; George Bush used the term when he invaded Iraq (“this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while”). That’s it. It is, Wills claims, a “hated term” in the Muslim East, for “it is a sign of the Christian West’s age-old aggressions against that whole part of the world.”

Perhaps we might stop and examine that last sentence. What “age-old aggressions against that whole part of the world” by Christians is Wills talking about? It was Christians, and Jews and pagans too, of the Middle East and North Africa, who were the victims of Islamic aggression  soon after Muhammad’s death. Muslim armies swept westward from Arabia, conquering much of the Middle East, Egypt, and North Africa (where St. Augustine and Tertullian, the father of the Latin church, both had lived), all the way across the straits of Gibraltar, up through the Iberian peninsula into France, where the Muslim aggressors were stopped by Charles Martel outside Poitiers. The “age-old aggression” was that by Muslims committed against Christians, and continued with Muslim raids over more than a millennium, along the coasts of Christian Europe, where loot was seized and locals kidnapped, to be brought back to serve as slaves in Dar al-Islam. Those raiding parties went as far north as Ireland and, in one reported instance, Iceland. Muslim raids on Christian shipping in the Mediterranean continued over the centuries, with the seizing of cargo, ships, and Christian seamen who were put to work by their Muslim masters in North Africa.

To the east, Muslim Arabs, having conquered the southern Byzantine provinces of Egypt and Syria, pushed into Asia Minor, subjugating the Christians, and twice laying siege, unsuccessfully, to Constantinople. Other Muslim armies swept through Zoroastrian Persia and then to Hindu India where at first they were repelled, though they kept trying and ultimately were successful, in conquering both Byzantium and India. The “age-old aggression” in all these lands, east and west of Arabia, were committed by Jihadists eager to make war, in order to enlarge the territory of Dar al-Islam. Their victims were Christians, Jews, pagans, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists.

Yet here we have Garry Wills insisting on “the Christian West’s age-old aggressions against that whole part of the world.”

But what about the Crusades themselves? Weren’t they, at least, an example of the Christian West’s “age-old aggressions’? No, they were not. The Crusades were a response to centuries of Muslim aggression, to the takeover of Christian lands, and the subjugation of Christians. The First Crusade was prompted by the behavior of the Fatimid Caliph Hakim, who ordered the destruction of many churches in the Holy Land, above all the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which he had razed to the ground in 1009. The Second Crusade was prompted by the Turkish Muslim conquest of Edessa, a Crusader state, in 1144. The Third Crusade was an attempt to re-conquer the Holy Land from Saladin. In other words, the Crusades were prompted by the  prior Muslim conquests of the Holy Land and territories adjacent to it.

What other “age-old aggressions” by the West against “that whole part of the world” does Wills have in mind? He surely knows that the West — Europeans — first entered the Middle East in modern times only in 1798 with Napoleon. The French were not out to conquer the Egyptians, but to promote their own trade with the East and to weaken Britain’s hold on British India (Egypt being a key post on the route from England to India); they stayed all of three years (1798-1801). Great Britain did not enter  the Middle East until Lord Cromer went out to Egypt in 1878-79, to serve first as controller-general, in order to put the Khedive’s finances on a sound footing, then in 1883 he returned to serve as consul-general. In neither of those posts was Lord Cromer attempting to aggress or seize territory, but to rescue the Egyptian government from corruption and general disarray, and to re-organize the country’s civil service. That was of particular importance in order to assure that the Suez Canal, which had opened in 1869, would remain solvent.

The true imperial power in the Muslim Middle East was not the Europeans, as Wills seems to think, but the Ottoman Turks. Britain liberated the Arabs from the Ottomans by defeating the Turks in World War I. Hundreds of years of Ottoman rule came to an end. Then came the period of the Mandates, and again, the Europeans were not “aggressors” but, rather, mandatory authorities who helped prepare Arabs for independence in four states. The British held the mandates both for Palestine, from which emerged not just Israel, but also the Emirate of Transjordan, in 1946 becoming the independent Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and for Iraq (which became independent in 1932). The French held the mandates that led to independence for Syria and Lebanon. In the Arabian peninsula, the British never penetrated intro the interior, but helped keep the peace among the Arabs with their garrisons on the coast. Only in Aden did the British remain for a long time, from 1838 on, not so much because Aden itself contained any wealth, but because control of its port allowed the British to patrol against pirates attacking British shipping to and from the great colonial prize, India.

Wills ignores the 1400-year history of Muslim  conquest, so eager is he to assign all blame to the West for its putative aggressions. He also makes the astonishing claim that “the Qur’an never advocates war as a means of religious conversion, since ‘there is no compulsion in religion.’” (Quran 2:256). This is probably the single Qur’anic verse most quoted by apologists. But there are a number of problems with it.  In the first place, 2:256  is one of those verses, from Muhammad’s earliest years in Medina, while he had not yet established his power, that has been held to have been “abrogated” by later verses (see 3:85-6; 9:73). But even had it not been abrogated, the actual behavior of Muslims shows an indifference to the supposed principle expounded. First, Muslims themselves are subject to severe punishment, which may include death, if they leave Islam. If you can be executed for apostasy, then surely you are being “compelled” — in the worst way — to remain a Muslim. Second, non-Muslims under Muslim rule were traditionally subject to many onerous requirements, especially the payment of the Jizyah. The Jizyah by itself was a very heavy burden, but there were other requirements, too. These included forbidding non-Muslims from repairing old or building new houses of worship, forbidding them from riding horses, thus non-Muslims had to make do with donkeys, having to move aside for Muslims on walkways, and in some periods and places, having to wear identifying marks — as Jews or as Christians — on their clothing and dwellings. Over time, all of these requirements — but especially the Jizyah — would naturally cause many non-Muslims to choose to convert to Islam so as to remove these burdens. Conversion under such conditions  certainly meets anyone’s definition of  “compulsion in religion.”

Now we come to one of the best-known of the Jihad verses:

Here is the first part of  Qur’an 2:191:

“Kill them wherever you encounter them [that is, even in the sacred area], and drive them out from where they drove you out, for persecution [on religious grounds] is more serious than killing [in self-defense].”

Garry Wills considers this to be a criticism of holy war, not a defense of it. Obviously there is something here that I, and most likely you too, have failed to understand. To me, “kill them wherever you encounter them” means “kill them wherever you encounter them.”

He takes the same view of Qur’an 9:5, about which Wills says that the “‘sword verse” which is “used to foist on Muslims the idea of a holy war against all infidels (including Christians and Jews) proves just the opposite. It is far more forgiving and pacific than Christian heresy hunts….or Hebrew wars of extinction.” This is what  9:5 commands: “Kill the mushrikun [unbelievers] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush.”

“Kill them wherever you find them” — in what way, one wishes to ask Garry Wills, is this “far more forgiving and pacific than Christian heresy hunts…or Hebrew wars of extinction”?

He needs reminding, too, about then and now: Hebrew wars of extinction haven’t been engaged in for 3000 years, and for Christian heresy hunts we would have to go back 400-500 years. But the Muslim holy war against Infidels is never out of season, and the latest installment of Jihadis terrorizing Infidels is as fresh as the day’s paper.

“The religion of the Qur’an’s a religion of peace.” That is his solemn conclusion. Let us pretend that we agree with this preposterous statement, for the sake of argument, and accept his misconstruing of 2:191 and 9:5 as being limited in application. But what about terrorism? Wills mentions the word “terror” five times in the Index. There is “terrorism” “and Internet,” “and ISIS,” “and 9/11 attacks,” “Qur’an erroneously connected with,” “subsequent acts of.” I was intrigued by the statement that the “Qur’an [is] erroneously connected with terrorism” but could not find, in the pages indicated, anything except the results of a few opinion polls — quite different from other polls I have seen that Wills does not cite, where support for 9/11 is much higher — that suggest Muslims are against terrorism, and several statements by Muslim clerics and scholars, declaring that ISIS is wrong in claiming to “be acting from the Qur’an,’’ while others claim that “no believer may join the Islamic state or claim that its efforts are a legitimate jihad.” Being against the takfiris of the Islamic state does not necessarily mean one is against the use of terror as a weapon against Unbelievers; it could just mean that many Muslims are opposed to the use of terror against fellow Muslims, those whom the members of ISIS or similar fanatics deem to be of the wrong sect (such as Shi’a, who are treated as infidels), or Muslims whose faith in Islam is judged insufficiently devout, observant, fanatical. Wills does not mention any of the verses in the Qur’an that expressly command the use of terror. Why not?

Here are some of those verses, and even Garry Wills can’t claim, as he is fond of doing, that they mean the exact opposite of what they seem to say:

“We will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve for what they have associated with Allah of which He had not sent down authority. And their refuge will be the Fire, and wretched is the residence of the wrongdoers.” (Qur’an 3:151)

“When your Lord inspired to the angels, ‘I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.’” (Qur’an 8:12)

“And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know, whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged.” (Qur’an 8:60)

And in the hadith we find Muhammad saying: “I have been made victorious with terror.” (Bukhari 4.52.220). This is clearly an endorsement of terror as a weapon.

Garry Wills claims to have read the Qur’an many times. He had to have read these verses about terror. Terror, after all, is what has brought Islam to our attention during the last few decades. But did he understand them? What do these verses mean to Garry Wills? And why won’t he quote or discuss any of them?

Similarly, he never mentions 9:29, another key verse, not about using terror, but where Muslims are instructed to fight Infidels:

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the Religion of Truth, from among the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

A good reason, noted previously, for Wills to quote 9:29 is that it commands Muslims “to fight” rather than “to kill” (as in 9:5 and 2:191). But he has an even stronger reason for not quoting this verse, which is that it mentions the Jizyah (“pay the Jizyah with willing submission”). Offering his benign view of Islam, he wants to stay away from the harsh treatment of non-Muslims as dhimmis; the whole subject is scandalously scanted. And the words  “jizyah” and “dhimmi” are not to be found even once in Wills’s book. This is extraordinary: a book on the Qur’an that never mentions what happens to non-Muslims who under Muslim rule are tolerated as dhimmis.

Wills devotes only a single footnote to what is surely one of Muhammad’s most disturbing acts: his marriage to little Aisha when she was six, and his consummation of the marriage — that is, sexual intercourse — when she was nine years old. Wills writes: “Aisha is reported to have been nine when Muhammad married her, which has led to a great deal of criticism of the Prophet, but early marriages were common until recently, and no one knows when this one was consummated.”

Wills attempts two kinds of defense of what many of us might unhesitatingly describe as paedophilia. First, he claims that “early marriages were common until recently.” What he may be referring to as “early marriages” were entered into by girls who were in their early teens — thirteen and up; there is a very great difference between a nine-year-old and a thirteen-year-old bride. In the case of dynastic marriages, where two noble houses in Europe were joined through matrimony, two people of roughly the same age would “marry” each other when they were both in their early teens, but of course would not consummate it until they reached a reasonable age (late teens at the earliest); such marriages were not unheard-of, but neither were they “common” as Wills blandly asserts. Muhammad and Aisha are different: in their case, it’s a matter of sexual intercourse between a nine-year-old girl and a 53-year-old man. Is Wills attempting to suggest that that kind of arrangement (nine-year-old girl, 53-year old man) was ever — outside the world of Islam — “common”?

Second, Wills claims that “no one knows when this [marriage] was consummated.” But we have a hadith, from the most reliable of all hadith collections, that of Al Bukhari, and it states that “Aisha narrated that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death)” Sahih al-Bukhari, 7:62:64. On what basis does Garry Wills conclude that in this hadith, the famously trustworthy Hadith scholar Bukhari is wrong, and that “no one knows” how old Aisha was? Isn’t it that he, like all defenders of Islam, wishes to spare Muhammad the charge of paedophilia? Certainly Muslims have always believed that Aisha’s age at consummation was nine, until quite recently, when a handful of  Islamic scholars, recognizing that non-Muslims are shocked by Aisha’s young age, have tried to cast doubt even on Al-Bukhari, and have started to claim, as they felt no need to do before, that “no one really knows her age,” an assertion that Wills was happy to repeat.

For centuries, Muslims have believed that Muhammad had sexual intercourse with a nine-year-old girl, and yet he remained, and remains for them still, despite this, both the Model of Conduct (“uswa hasana”) and the Perfect Man (“al-insan al-kamil”). Surely that is an important aspect of the story of Aisha, with practical consequences, as it legitimates child brides for much older men all over the Islamic lands (marriages now seen mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan). The learned cleric Ayatollah Khomeini certainly thought he was only following the model of Muhammad, the Perfect Man, when he — Khomeini — married his own child bride when she was ten years old. This practice tells us something essential about Muslim morality: whatever Muhammad did, is right.

Wills quotes only a handful of the more than 100 jihad verses that command Believers to make war on Infidels. The few he does quote, despite their unambiguous meaning, he claims do not call for holy war, do not call for killing, mean the opposite of what they appear to say. His method is always to start with a very brief discussion of one Qur’anic verse, and then to shift quickly to much longer disquisitions on Christianity, and the aggression, violence, holy wars of Christians, all greatly exaggerated. By the time he is done, this past master of Tu-Quoque has turned your attention from the Qur’anic verse with which he started, and made you focus on Jewish and, even more, on Christian texts and history. He unsurprisingly finds in Christianity much harsher verses than anything to be found in Islam. That’s because he’s managed simply to ignore so much in the Qur’an.

He claims that there is no verse in the Qur’an commanding the killing of Infidels. What can he possibly mean? Perhaps he means that the verses that call for “fighting” do not always mean to the point of “killing.” Muslims are instructed in 9:29 to “fight the idolaters.” “Fight,” not “kill” — is that the distinction Wills wishes impliedly to make? But how could Muslims, or anyone, be able to fight without killing? And what about those verses that do use the word “killing,” as in 2:191 and 9:5, and more than a hundred others? Perhaps he wants us to believe that where the word “killing” is used, it was meant to apply only to certain enemies of a specific time and place, not to Infidels everywhere. It’s a hard sell; after all, in 2:191 (and 9:5), Muslims are commanded quite clearly to kill Infidels (“slay the idolaters…wherever you find them”). No limit is suggested on either place or time.

Wills does not tell us, but the Qur’an with which he plays fast and loose does, that in order to be spared from being killed, non-Muslims have two ways to save themselves. One is to convert to Islam. So “if they repent” (of their original faith), “maintain the prayer” (that is, say the five daily prayers required of Muslims), “pay the prescribed alms” (zakat), then they have become Muslims and will be left alone. The second way — according to 9:29 — is for them to  “pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” That means to accept the status of being dhimmis.

Part of 2:191 deserves special comment. The first sentence commands:  “kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from where they drove you out.”

The phrase “drive them out from where they drove you out” means that, in the Muslim To-Do List, reconquest of any land that was at one time under Muslim rule (as Israel, or Spain), should take precedence. But 2:191 does not mean that only Infidels who are found in places where Muslims were once driven out are to be killed. “Kill them wherever you find them” is the command. And in the end, the Jihad is worldwide, is to be conducted everywhere, and must continue until the whole world has been subjugated to Islam. There are, however, priorities, and the first priority is to “drive them out from where they drove you out.” Thus, it’s more important for now to reconquer “Palestine” and drive out the Jews, or to reconquer Spain and drive out the Christians, than it is to conquer places where Muslims never ruled, such as Siberia, or Japan, or Argentina. But in the end those places too, will not be spared. Like every other place on earth, they too must be the object of Jihad, so that Islam everywhere dominates, and Muslims rule, everywhere.

The Qur’an requires that Muslims make war on Infidels: to kill them wherever they are to be found. The “verse of the Sword” — Quran 9:5 — is as unambiguous as 2:191:

“When the [four] forbidden months are over, wherever you encounter the idolaters, kill them, seize them, besiege them, wait for them at every lookout post: but if they repent, mention the prayer, and pay the prescribed alms, let them go on their way, for God is most forgiving and merciful.”

Wills insists that this, which he dismissively describes as “the so-called sword verse,” is wrenched from its context by misunderstanders of the Qur’an, and then in a single paragraph he proceeds to: 1) make absurdly much of the fact that the word “sword” never occurs in the Qur’an, by which he means to cast doubt on the violent essence of 9:5; 2) he does the same for the phrase “holy war,” which he insists several times never occurs in the Qur’an, failing to recognize that the concept of “holy war” is properly conveyed by the word “jihad,” even though linguistically that word means “struggling” or “striving” — “jihad” is understood to ordinarily mean “jihad bi al saif” (holy war by means of the sword); 3) then gives the reader three pages of tu-quoque, as he describes what he calls Christianity’s own “sword verse” and its own “holy war.” This is his method throughout: he keeps to an absurd minimum the violent verses — just 2-3 of the more than 100 Jihad verses — he is willing to quote. He will insist that despite the plain language of the text, where the commandment to Muslims to kill Infidels applies broadly, that it was meant to apply only to enemies in a specific time and space. When he claims that Islam nowhere requires the killing of the Infidels, this is flatly untrue. But Wills wants us to think that where killing is not the end in itself, but a means to an end — the subjugation of all Unbelievers — we should not call it “killing.” After all, if the enemy at once surrendered, there would be no need to kill them. And once those Unbelievers do submit, then they are presented with a choice: death, conversion to Islam, or permanent status as dhimmis. And again, “killing” is then not inevitable, but only one of three possible outcomes. So in Wills’s view, these verses do not insist on “killing,” but on “killing” only as one possibility.

And what about that alternative that allows non-Muslims both to survive and to keep their faith? Surely the subjugation, over 1400 years, of hundreds of millions of non-Muslims, and the subsequent conversion to Islam of so many of them, in order to escape their wretched status as dhimmis ought to have been part of this study. But you will learn nothing about the treatment of non-Muslims under Muslim rule from Wills’s study, not even about that most obvious hardship, the payment of the jizyah.

As noted above, the words ‘“dhimmi” and “jizyah” do not appear anywhere in Wills’s book. Nor do a single one of the Qur’anic verses about “striking terror” appear. Nor does he discuss more than a handful of the 109 Jihad verses in the Qur’an. Nor do we learn that non-Muslims are described as “the most vile of creatures.” Nor does he bother to examine more than just one antisemitic verse — out of more than two dozen in the Qur’an–thereby making light of the permanent phenomenon of Islamic antisemitism, that is again making parts of Europe unpleasant and dangerous, even unlivable, for Jews.

In his study of the Qur’an Wills has left out so very much — of the Qur’an. It is hard to judge his motivation. Can he really have remained so ignorant of that book’s most important contents? What linguistic lassitude or mental confusion leads him to claim that the duty of killing is not mentioned anywhere in the Qur’an? Why does he pretend that “jihad” cannot possibly mean “holy war”? Why has he accepted the most implausible claims and twisted interpretations of Muslim apologists? How can he overlook every unambiguous Qur’anic command to wage jihad or to strike terror? He is akin, I’m afraid, to Pope Francis, in his deep need to believe in a sanitized version of Islam, because to understand Islam as Muslims do is simply too terrifying for him to contemplate. His book is, however, not without its value. It will for many be an exemplar, as it certainly has been for me, of how not to understand the Qur’an.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 12/30/2017 8:48 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 30 December 2017
BREAKING NEWS: Further arrest made in Chesterfield terrorism investigation

More from the Derbyshire Times

A further arrest has been made as a result of an ongoing terrorism investigation in which a man from Chesterfield was arrested.

The 21 year old man, from the Fir Vale area of Sheffield, was arrested on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The intelligence led arrest was made in the Firth Park area of Sheffield at approximately 23:00 hours on Friday evening (December 29).  Two addresses, a residential address in Fir Vale and a business address in Firth Park, are currently being searched by officers.

Derbyshire Police and South Yorkshire Police continue to work closely with their partners and communities to reassure local people and protect the public as the investigation continues. South Yorkshire Police Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts said: “I understand that this activity will cause concern, especially as there has been similar activity in recent weeks. I would like to firmly reiterate that we continue to work closely with our colleagues in Counter Terrorism Policing North East to keep our communities safe and identify threat and risk. . . "

Posted on 12/30/2017 7:16 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 29 December 2017
Islamic State claims responsibility for Saint Petersburg supermarket bombing

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)  claimed responsibility on Friday for the bomb attack days earlier that tore through a Saint Petersburg supermarket and wounded 14 people.

"The attack that targeted a shopping centre in Saint Petersburg the day before yesterday (Wednesday) was carried out by an Islamic State-linked group," IS said in a statement via its propaganda agency Amaq.

On Wednesday evening, a homemade bomb placed in a locker at the supermarket in northwestern Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second city and President Vladimir Putin’s home town, went off sowing panic among customers and wounding 14 people including a pregnant woman.

The bombing came after the FSB security service said earlier this month it had prevented a terror attack on a key Orthodox cathedral in Saint Petersburg with the help of America’s CIA, which led Putin to thank US President Donald Trump.

FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov has said Russia remains on alert for a possible return of jihadists from Syria ahead of the World Cup and the March presidential polls.

Posted on 12/29/2017 6:20 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 29 December 2017
Fish and chip shop boss, 31, and his alleged accomplice, 22, 'planned a Christmas massacre by building a remote control car bomb to detonate from a laptop'

The Daily Mail has details of the Chesterfield/Sheffield terror plot from today's remand hearing.

Picture left, Farhad Salah to the left and Andy Star to the right. Court sketches are not meant to flatter so I will reserve judgment on whether Salah really is aged 22 until I see a photograph of him in different circumstances. If the court sketch is accurate then he either had an uphill paper round, or he entered the country under a 'shave the children' scam. 

A chip shop owner terror suspect and his friend appeared in court today accused of planning to build a remote control car bomb to detonate from a laptop for an alleged Christmas massacre.

Andy Star, 31, and Farhad Salah, 22, were arrested on December 19 in a series of early morning raids in the Chesterfield and Sheffield areas of South Yorkshire. Today both appeared in custody at Westminster Magistrates Court via video link from Leeds Magistrates Court. The two men, both Kurdish Iraqis, were dressed in prison issue tracksuits. (They) spoke only confirm their name, age and address, and are both accused of  a single terror count.

They allegedly planned to build an IED that would be placed inside a driverless car, with a laptop controlling the vehicle and detonating the device. 

Prosecutor Thomas Halpin said: 'Both are jointly charged with a single offence of preparation to commit acts of terrorism. . . This is a case in which the Crown say both defendants were researching, developing and manufacturing chemicals to make explosive substances so they could be used in an IED with a view to committing acts in the UK.'

The court heard that they are accused of possessing 'low explosive black powder'.

Jordan Batteson, 25, who lives near the Mermaid Fish Bar, said: 'He was a really nice guy, really friendly. I used to go in there to get my chips. He gave the staff copies of the Koran.' 

A close friend of Star said: 'I can't believe it ... I don't know what happened, he was a nice guy ... I am sure he is innocent'.

The men did not enter pleas at the hearing. 

Posted on 12/29/2017 3:29 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 29 December 2017
On Westminster bridge

I have not see this for myself but Generation Identity England put them up on Westminster Bridge yesterday. The safety blocks put up after an Islamic jihadist murdered 5 people in March on and by the bridge; echoing the words of London's islamic mayor Sadiq Khan who said (while talking about New York) that terror attacks are part and parcel of life in a major city. 

Posted on 12/29/2017 12:20 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 29 December 2017
12 Killed in Attack on Cairo Churches and Christian shops

From Egyptian Streets  the BBC and the Guardian

Twelve people have died in twin attacks on Coptic Christians in the Helwan area south of Cairo, officials say.
Egypt’s Ministry of Health announced that nine people have been killed,  including two police officers, and another 10 were wounded in an attack on Mar Mina Church in Helwan, located in Greater Cairo.

Two armed terrorists reportedly attacked the church shortly before Friday prayers. One terrorist was killed at the scene of the attack. Two policemen died responding to the attack, preventing the armed terrorist from entering the church.

Eyewitnesses told private newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm that a man in a car carrying an automatic weapon opened fire on the church.  Mostafa, an auto-rickshaw driver who was near the church, said he heard several gunshots an hour before the Muslim Friday prayers.

Egypt’s Ministry of Interior claimed in a statement that it managed to foil a greater attack involving explosives.  An explosives belt was found on the dead assailant - suggesting an even more deadly attack was planned, the BBC correspondent says. It was safely defused.

The other gunman escaped but was reportedly later arrested with weapons, ammunition and a bomb.

About an hour later, a Coptic-owned shop in the same area was attacked, leaving two dead.

The Coptic Orthodox church released a statement confirming the attack. “A terrorist attack has targeted the Church of the Martyr Marmina as unknown assailants fired gunshots, killing a person from the security force guarding the church as well as five of the people of the church, in addition to other injured individuals,” it said

The Coptic church statement said a Christian-owned electronics shop in Helwan was also attacked before the church shootout, killing the brothers Romani and Attia Shaker.

Abanoub Ayman, an engineering student at Helwan University who lives below the shop, told the Guardian he was on his way to buy breakfast when he heard gunshots at 10am, and that the shooting lasted for five minutes. He said two gunmen on a motorcycle had stopped at the shop. “One of them stopped and entered the store and killed one of the brothers in front of the shop. The other brother ran after the two men but was also shot dead.”

“The government [police] came and took the bodies and closed the shop,” said Ayman, who prays at the Marmina church. “It has to do with what happened at the church.” He said the gunmen had also fired at another church, Anba Antonios, in the same area, but no one was killed.

Posted on 12/29/2017 7:40 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 29 December 2017
Jesus In the Qur’an

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Jennifer Williams is a great enthusiast not just for Christmas, but for the Muslim Jesus, about whom she is sure you have never heard, and she’s here to enlighten you:

Christmas, as everyone knows, commemorates the birth of Jesus and is a major religious celebration for Christians around the world.

But what many people don’t know is that Jesus is an important figure in Islam, too, even though most Muslims don’t celebrate Christmas (though some, especially some American Muslims, do).

Actually, by now many Infidels all over the Western world do know perfectly well that Jesus is a figure of significance in Islam. They know this because it is a staple of Muslim propaganda. Just look here or here or here.

We are told again and again about Jesus in the Qur’an (just google “Jesus in the Qur’an”), of how revered he is, of the fact that he is mentioned 27 times by name, of how much attention, too, is given to his mother Mary, who has a sura named after her. And these exercises in taqiyya proceed in the same fashion: to exaggerate the significance of the Muslim Jesus, so as to make it seem as if he is more than just a prophet, and the reverence in which he and Mary are held, so as to divert attention of Christians from the basic ineluctable fact, which is that while Muslims respect Jesus, as a prophet, they deny him any divinity, and are commanded in the Qur’an to view those — the Christians –who believe He is the Son of God, with scorn, hostility, even murderous hatred.

One of the efforts this year to convince Christians of the important role of Jesus (and Mary) in Islam was by Vox’s Williams, who was so fond of what she posted last Christmas on the subject that she reprinted it, without change, this year. Its brisk and cheerful mendacity is worth  a look.

Here is Jennifer Williams, and all she thinks you need to know about the Muslim version of Jesus:

In honor of the holiday, here are six things you may not know about the role of Jesus — and his mother, Mary — in Islam:

Jesus, Mary, and the angel Gabriel are all in the Quran (as are Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and a bunch of other Bible characters).

Muslims believe that Jesus (called “Isa” in Arabic) was a prophet of God, was born to a virgin (Mary), and will return to Earth before the Day of Judgment to restore justice and to defeat al-Masih ad-Dajjal (“the false messiah”), also known as the Antichrist. All of which may sound pretty familiar to many Christians.

Mary (called “Maryam” in Arabic) has an entire chapter in the Quran named for her — the only chapter in the Quran named for a female figure. In fact, Mary is the only woman to be mentioned by name in the entire Quran: As noted in the Study Quran, “other female figures are identified only by their relation to others, such as the wife of Adam and the mother of Moses, or by their title, such as the Queen of Sheba.” Mary is mentioned more times in the Quran than in the entire New Testament.

Just as with all the other prophets, including Mohammed, Muslims recite, “Peace be upon him” every time they refer to Jesus.

The name “Jesus, son of Mary” written in Arabic calligraphy, followed by “peace be upon him.” ???? ??????

Muslims believe that Jesus performed miracles: The Quran discusses several of Jesus’s miracles, including giving sight to the blind, healing lepers, raising the dead, and breathing life into clay birds.

So we learn that one of the 114 suras of the Qur’an is named after Mary and that she is mentioned “more times in the Qur’an than in the New Testament.” To which one wants to reply: So what? If a sura is named after her, and if she is mentioned “more times in the Qur’an than in the New Testament,” that hardly means she is more important in Islam than in Christianity. For Christians, she is the Mother of the Son of God; for Muslims, she is only the mother of Jesus, a man and not a divinity, one of the 25 prophets mentioned by name in the Qur’an (there are tens of thousands of prophets in Islam). If she is mentioned, as Mary, “more times” in the Qur’an than in the New Testament, that is because in the Christian Bible there are other ways she is referred to, not just as “Mary,” but also as the “Mother of God” or “Mother of Jesus.’”

It is absurd to draw any conclusion about the relative importance of various figures in Islam based on the number of times they are named in the Qur’an.. Muhammad, for example, is mentioned exactly four times by name. Moses (Musa) is mentioned 136 times in the Qur’an. Jesus is mentioned 25 times. Does that mean that Moses is 5.44 times as important as Jesus and 34 times as important as Muhammad? Or that Jesus is 6 times as important as the Prophet Muhammad? Of course not.

Ms. Williams says that Muslims believe that Jesus performed miracles. Again, so what? Islam has borrowed — appropriated — many figures and stories from the two prior-in-time monotheisms. Islam borrowed Jesus, stripped him of his divinity, refashioned him into an islamized Jesus, a Jesus who is a Muslim. (Moses, too, is a Muslim). Having appropriated him, it is hardly surprising that some aspects of his Biblical being would be retained. And so we find Jesus described in the Qur’an as performing some of the same miracles as he is described as performing  in the New Testament: “The Quran discusses several of Jesus’s miracles, including giving sight to the blind, healing lepers, raising the dead, and breathing life into clay birds.” Isn’t this an attempt to suggest that while Muslims do not accept Jesus as the Son of God, they are certainly most impressed with the miracles — forsooth! — he can perform. Jesus is a miracle-worker. At least give Muslims credit, you begrudging Christians, for recognizing that.

Finally, the story of Jesus’s birth as told in the Qur’an is given in great detail, of how Mary “withdrew from her family” and gave birth though, as she declares, “no man has touched me,” and of the miracle of Jesus speaking as an infant in the cradle who “declared himself to be a prophet of God.” Again there is an attempt to make much of the similarities in the birth scenes in Islam and Christianity, and again we have to remind ourselves that in one case Jesus is the Son of God, and in the other, he is a mortal, one among the 25 prophets named in the Qur’an. And that has made all the difference.

Let’s consider what Christians need to know about Islam’s view of their faith. Not how many times Mary is mentioned in the Qur’an, not that a sura is named after her, not that Jesus (like Moses, Adam, Noah), is one of the figures appropriated by Islam and viewed as a prophet, and in Jesus’ case capable of working miracles. No, what we most need to know is how Muslims are taught to regard Christians and Christianity, which is something Jennifer Williams won’t tell you.

Here are some of the Qur’anic verses about Christians:

The Christians are told that Jesus is only a messenger of Allah, not his Son:

“O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, ‘Three’; desist — it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.” — Qur’an 4:171

Allah did not have a son; he had no need of one; by himself he could accomplish anything and needed no others beside him:

“It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! when He determines a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.” — Qur’an 19:35

Christians are wrong — Jesus was not crucified:

“And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger — they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain.” — Qur’an 4:157

Those who believe in the divinity of Christ are “disbelievers”:

“They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary.” — Qur’an 5:17

Christians “forgot a good part” of the divine revelations they received:

“From those, too, who call themselves Christians, We did take a covenant, but they forgot a good part of the message that was sent them: so we estranged them [the Christians], with enmity and hatred between the one and the other, to the day of judgment. And soon will Allah show them what it is they have done.” — Qur’an 5:14

Those who believe that Jesus is God’s Son are accursed:

“The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth! ” — Qur’an 9:30

Christians who do not become Muslims “are the most vile of created beings”:

“Nor did those who were given the Scripture become divided until after there had come to them clear evidence. And they were not commanded except to worship Allah, sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth, and to establish prayer and to give zakah. And that is the correct religion. Indeed, they who disbelieved among the People of the Scripture and the polytheists will be in the fire of Hell, abiding eternally therein. Those are the most vile of created beings.” — Qur’an 98:6

It’s not enough to despise them. Muslims must fight against and subjugate Christians :

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” — Qur’an 9:29

Propagandists for Islam are out in force this Christmas season, telling us, like Ms. Williams, that Muslims have so much in common with Christians: they revere Mary, they revere Jesus as an important prophet, they share the Christian belief that Jesus could perform miracles and, indeed, the Muslim Jesus performs some of the same miracles that the Christian Jesus does.

But the Qur’an says other, disturbing things, about Christians and Christianity. Jesus was only a messenger, not the Son of God. God (Allah) had no need of a son. Jesus  was not crucified.

Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are not only disbelievers, but have Allah’s curse upon them. Christians who do not become Muslims “are the most vile of created beings.” Muslims must fight and subjugate all Christians, and then offer them the choice, to be killed, to convert to Islam, or to accept the status of dhimmi, with all its onerous conditions.

That is the uncompromising Islamic doctrine concerning Christians:  hostility (“take them not as friends”), contempt and hatred (they are “the most vile of creatures”), and jihad (“fight those who believe not in Allah,” “strike terror” in their hearts). Of course there is not the slightest hint of any of this in Jennifer Williams’s Christian-friendly version of Islam.

But perhaps we are being unfair. Perhaps, in practice if not in doctrine, Muslims have shown how profoundly they respect those others who revere Jesus and Mary? What happened in the Middle East and North Africa, in lands once peopled almost entirely by Christians which were conquered by Muslims? How many millions of Christians were killed in those lands? How many Christians were kidnapped from Europe over the centuries by Muslim marauders who arrived by sea? How many of  those Christians, both those whose lands were conquered, and those who were seized from coastal villages in Europe, and brought back to Dar al-Islam, subsequently converted to Islam, only in order to escape the status of dhimmi which many found unendurable?

We need not go back that far. Even if we limit ourselves to recent decades, what have we observed of Muslim behavior toward  Christians — Copts, Catholics, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Orthodox — in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Egypt, in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in the Sudan, in Somalia, in Bangladesh? Is there any Muslim-majority country where Christians have not been subject to attack and murder? Muslims “revere” Jesus, all right, but only as a prophet, and are told by their Qur’an that those who revere him as the Son of God are Unbelievers who should be killed.

In just the last few weeks, in Pakistan, Muslim terrorists attacked a church in Quetta, killing nine worshipers, one of many attacks on Christians in that country. A Muslim plot to blow up a cathedral in St. Petersburg was narrowly averted by the Russians, thanks to American  intelligence. Christian families have this month been executed in Nigeria, and whole villages have been destroyed by Boko Haram. Christians have been murdered this fall by the hundreds in Iraq and in Syria, and not only by members of ISIS. In Egypt, ever since the fall of Morsi, attacks on the Copts have increased, with 65 churches, convents, Christian bookshops and schools attacked. Coptic pilgrims have been murdered on buses, worshipers murdered in church, individual Copts — storekeepers, pedestrians — attacked in shops or on the streets, Coptic priests hacked to death, and Copts are now living in such fear that the government has felt it necessary to mobilize tens of thousands of  security personnel, including the army, to protect them during their Christmas observance that begins in January. In the last few years, 200,000 Copts have fled the country.

During the Sudanese civil war, hundreds of thousands of Christian black Africans in the south were slaughtered by Muslim Arabs from the north. In Iraq, with the removal of the secular dictator Saddam Hussein (who had his own reasons for protecting the Christians), the Christian population has since 2003 plummeted from 1.4 million to 250,000. It has been the same in Syria, where in 2011 there were 1.25 million Christians and now there are 450,000. The murderous attacks on Christians by ISIS — and by other Muslims, too — account for part of that drop; the rest is due to Christians leaving for safe havens in the West.

And with tens of millions of Muslims now in Europe, a  transformation in that continent is also taking place. Just look, for one example, at the Christmas season as it is now celebrated. Muslims began targeting Christmas markets even before 9/11. The first (aborted) attempt was in December 2000, when four Al-Qaeda operatives plotted to bomb the Strasbourg Christmas market, held right in front of the cathedral. Ever since then, security for these Christmas celebrations has been ratcheted up. Last year Muslim terrorists killed twelve  people at the main Christmas market in Berlin. And this year, the effects of that Berlin attack have been everywhere evident. In France, fear of attacks by Muslims has led to the cancellation of the most famous Christmas market, that held on the Champs-Elysees, in Paris. The Christmas market in Lyons has similarly been called off due to the cost of security. In Germany, two of the country’s famed Christmas markets have also been cancelled. Even where the markets are still being held, crowds of Muslim young men disrupt the celebrations, change the holiday atmosphere to one of fear. In Bad Doberan, despite having been deliberately disrupted by “Palestinian” protesters playing loud Arabic music, the market has so far not been closed. In Italy, a town removed its Christmas tree in order not to offend local Muslims. In the U.K., a plot to blow up a major Christmas Market was narrowly averted. So was an attack on a cathedral in St. Petersburg. What was once a festive occasion for Europe’s Christians has become, in many places, a fearful one, because of Muslim threats that in turn require a large and expensive security presence. Because of the use of cars and trucks in terrorist attacks, many of the markets have erected bollards to provide “hostile vehicle mitigation.” Police and military armed with machine guns patrol the Christmas markets in France and the U.K.and Germany — a sight which reminds people of the omnipresent terrorist threat from Muslims, and is hardly conducive to the Christmas spirit.

When Muslims are commanded, in the Qur’an, “not to take Jews and Christians as friends, for they are friends only with each other,” when they are told to “kill them [the Unbelievers] wherever you find them,” when they are told to “smite at their [the Unbelievers’] necks,” when they are told that Unbelievers are “the most vile of creatures,” and to “strike terror” in the Infidels’ hearts, when a hundred other verses tell Muslims to engage in violent Jihad, we can safely assume — the historical record offers plenty of evidence — that many Muslims take these verses to heart and when they can act on them, they do.

The frequency of the name “Mary” in the Qur’an, the fact that the Muslim Jesus performs some of the same miracles (but not, of course, the water into wine at the wedding in Cana) that he does in the New Testament, and that he is a “revered prophet” for Muslims, does not change one whit those commands in the Qur’an for Believers to strike at the necks of Infidels, to kill them, to strike terror in their hearts, nor does that reverence for Jesus as a prophet in any way lessen the deep hostility Muslims have demonstrated for Christians over the past 1400 years of Muslim-Christian encounters. That grim history supports the melancholy conclusion that observant Muslims do not mean non-Muslims well. If there is ever to be any chance of Muslim reformation (for now a very doubtful proposition), it will have to start with an honest assessment of the texts and teachings of the faith, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Jennifer Williams and many others have tried to convince us that, in its view of Jesus and Mary, Islam teaches a deep respect for Christianity. It does not. Islam teaches respect only for a Muslim version of Jesus as prophet, and contempt, and far worse than contempt, for those who believe in Jesus as the Son of God.

First published in Jihad Watch.

Posted on 12/29/2017 5:33 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 29 December 2017
Two men charged with terrorism offences following Sheffield and Chesterfield raids

From local newspapers the Derbyshire Times and  The Star and national newspaper The Telegraph

Andi Sami Star, 31, of Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, and Farhad Salah, 22, of Brunswick Road, Sheffield, are charged with engaging in the preparation of an act of terrorism contrary to section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006.. Both men appeared before Westminster Magistrates' Court via video link this afternoon. The court heard the pair allegedly researched and prepared bomb ingredients for a suspected attack on the UK and allegedly recorded test explosions on a smartphone.

They have been remanded in custody and are next due to appear at the Old Bailey in London on Friday, January 19.

Another man, aged 36 from Burngreave, remains in custody on suspicion of being concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism; a 41-year-old from Meersbrook in Sheffield was released on Saturday.

Posted on 12/29/2017 3:33 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 28 December 2017
Dancing with death: The Intellectual opposition to Zionism

Some of the opponents of Zionism were great figures, but that did not make them prophets.

by Phyllis Chesler

Some insist that the “new” Anti-Semitism is not all that new—and that anti-Zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitic. In fact, this is the current mantra among pro-BDS and pro-Palestine panels on campus.

One might say that anti-Zionism in the 1920s and 1930s was not necessarily anti-Semitic—but it did condemn European and North African Jews to an industrial-scale genocide.

Herzl understood what the Dreyfus case meant and he both sounded the alarm and provided the solution. The French journalist Albert Londres heard him. The shluchim (messengers) from Palestine who tried to convince the Jews of Eastern Europe to leave before it was too late also heard him. Trumpeldor and Jabotinsky heard him.

But the Jews, who were no longer young or who were far too impoverished or paralyzed by poverty and starvation; and those who were awaiting a call from their vision of Moshiach, could not hear him. However, many wealthy and educated Jews were also deaf to Herzl’s warning and to the vision of a Promised Land.

For example, the extraordinary Bertha Pappenheim, (1859-1936) who is also known as “Anna O,” an early—perhaps the first-ever psychoanalytic patient, was a religiously learned Orthodox Jew and a fearless feminist—and yet she vehemently opposed Zionism. As a wealthy and assimilated Austrian and German Jew, she did not want to give up her place in the European sun.

Many 20th century feminists (Daniel BoyarinMelinda GuttmanMarion KaplanAnn Jackowitz), were interested in how Anna O was able to “transform” herself from being a psychiatric basket case, who was “hysterically” paralyzed in three limbs, an insomniac, given to hallucinations, and unable to speak in her native German tongue—into becoming then mighty Bertha Pappenheim, the founder of Jewish feminism, the protector of trafficked Jewish girls, unwed mothers, and orphans, and the translator of major Jewish, feminist, and Yiddish works into German.

Why such a religious Orthodox Jew—and a proper Viennese woman, would have taken up the cause of Jewish girls who were trafficked into sex slavery and unwed mothers is a bit of a mystery. For now, I will leave it there. What matters is that Pappenheim found her voice and her mission when she courageously stood up to the rabbis on behalf of such victims, translated Mary Wollstonecraft’s On the Vindication of the Rights of Women into German, translated her ancestor Gluckel of Hameln from Yiddish into German, and organized the first-ever Jewish feminist organization in Germany. (Christian feminist organizations would not allow Jews to join them). Orthodox Jews did not encourage feminist ferment.

Freud viewed Bertha as having invented the “talking cure” when she was Breuer’s patient. In 1909, in his lectures at Clark University, Freud stated that "If it is a merit to have brought psych-analysis into being, that merit is not mine." Freud credited Breuer and the young woman whom they called "Anna O" with the earliest beginnings of psychoanalysis.

Lightly hypnotized, Anna O suggested that she “talk” to Breuer; she called it her private theater and “chimney sweeping.” She suggested reliving or detailing what had been happening to her when she first developed her persistent cough, or paralysis, or inability to speak in her native tongue, and the symptom disappeared, at least temporarily.

I believe in such “talking cures” but let’s be clear: Talking did not cure Pappenheim herself who would go on to spend six terrible years in Magic Mountain-like sanatoriums for privileged people. The various torturous treatments (electric shock, the application of electric eels, arsenic, chloral hydrate, morphine), turned her hair prematurely white; perhaps such (mis)treatments cured her in the sense that she never wished to endure them again.

Through her mother, Pappenheim was related to the Warburgs, the Goldschmidts, the Rothschilds. She spoke four languages, loved opera, classical music, rare lace, and antique objects d’art. She was related to Heinreich Heine. Pappenheim was friendly with Martin Buber who agreed with her on the question of Zionism; Buber’s young disciples and their Israeli intellectual descendants modeled both their universities and Tel Aviv night life (or Tel Aviv-on-the-Seine) along Eurocentric lines. Herzl and Ben Gurion’s visions have been battling for the soul of Jews for a very long time.

Jews have always had a hard time leaving Egypt. Its tastes and smells are familiar and dear to us. Being uprooted is difficult, if not dangerous. Leaving civilization (such as it is), for deserted deserts (where a demanding, albeit consoling God may best be found), has little appeal. Jews also pride themselves on being citizens of the world, universalists, commanded to be a “light” unto the nations, not to leave them for narrow, provincial definitions of Judaism. Jews have led or joined nearly every universalist movements on earth, have taken all sides of an issue—and then some.

It is our genius and, some say, also our downfall.

The celebrated author, Stefan Zweig, actually got out of Europe but could not live without the pre-Hitlerian Europe he had known and cherished—and so, he killed himself in Brazil. Herr Dr. Freud, who knew more than a little about Thanatos, (the Death Instinct), and Evil, had to be rescued at the last minute by powerful friends and former patients. He, too, could not bear leaving Vienna, not even after the goons had beaten up a man who resembled him in the very park where Freud himself usually took his daily walk.

Freud did not relocate to Palestine. He went to England. Many of Europe’s most celebrated Jewish intellectuals came to America, not Palestine. Their names are legion and include atomic scientists Einstein, Fermi, Teller, and Szilard; architects Gropius and van der Roe; psychoanalysts Bettelheim, Fromm, and Horney; scholars Arendt, Marcuse, and Strauss. Martin Buber did not choose to immigrate to Palestine.

Other than Arendt, who was still young and in thrall to her Nazi lover, Heidegger, the majority of these intellectuals were mature and wanted to continue to their world-changing work. They did not want to dig ditches, plant trees, lecture to teenagers living in collective settlements, or fight hostile Arabs. Pappenheim also feared that the Jewish state would be a “secular” state, one in which children would be reared collectively without family life.

According to Melinda Guttman, (z”l), after Hitler came to power, Pappenheim held “festive salons” every week. If anyone referred to the “ominous persecution of the Jews,” Bertha would reply: “We are not in the Ghetto. And to the objection, "Miss Pappenheim, we Jews have no space," she answered "We don’t need space, we have Spiritual Space that knows no limits."

In 1935, Pappenheim traveled to Amsterdam to meet Henrietta Szold, who was organizing the emigration of young German Jewish teenagers to Palestine. According to Guttman (whose archives on Pappenheim reside at the Center for Jewish History in New York City), Pappenheim, “believing that somehow under Nazi rule, there was still a place for Jews in Germany, fought this plan with all the strength she could muster. It was not until the passage of the Nuremberg laws later in 1935, that she recognized her error, but she still scorned the collective raising of children in Palestine.”

Like Pappenheim, Buber’s disciples in Palestine envisioned a Brit Shalom between Arabs and Jews that was idealistic, pluralistic, and culturally diverse. Just as Jews had once been a persecuted minority among the nations, now they could create a new and superior kind of state, one in which no minority would be unequal and in which the “Arab” culture of Palestine would retain its character.

Clearly, the Jewish idealists did not understand that Arab culture was a shame-and-honor culture, perpetually fueled by Muslim-on-Muslim and Muslim-on-infidel massacres and cousin-on-cousin feuds; a culture that was not Western and therefore, not heir to Western values such as the evolution of religion, tolerance, self-criticism, and individual rights.

Ironies and contradictions abound.

Although Pappenheim resisted Zionism, in 1934, she also escorted a group of children to a Jewish orphanage in Glasgow, Scotland.

Although she feared Zionism, Pappeneheim still wrote that “We are responsible for each other. We are tied to a Community of fate. For US German Jews, the terrible blow of the Third Reich on April 1, 1933, Nazi boycott day--how it has hit us! How will we survive? How will we bear the hatred and misery? By the suicide of individuals? By the suicide of the Community? Shall we lament and deny? Shall we emigrate and change our economic Status? Shall we act foolishly or philosophically? The Diaspora, even Palestine is exile—yet we may see in the distance, the summit of Mt. Sinai..."

I fear she was talking about an unknown and Biblical Mt Sinai, not a mountain in Palestine proper.

Pappenheim never considered emigrating to Palestine or to America before she became fatally ill with liver cancer.

Should she had opted for Zion, for the children, if not for herself?

After Pappenheim's death, ninety three of the girls of the Beth Jakob School in Poland, which Pappenheim had supervised, committed suicide when the Nazis decided to turn the school into a brothel.

Helene Rraemer, who had been one of Bertha's beloved "daughters" when she was an eight-year-old orphan, took over as director of the home in Neu Isenburg and remained until November, 10, 1938, Kristallnacht. According to Rraemer, the barbarians came with torches and set the home on fire. The wailing of the children was horrifying and heartbreaking. Several girls suffered heart attacks from fear.

Most of the children whom Pappenheim had saved were murdered in the Holocaust.

What terrible, and perhaps wrongful conclusion may we draw—must we draw?

Great souls are not always prophets. Few can see into the future and seeing, radically change their ways. Herzl tried—and was dead within a decade; in my opinion, the war among the Jews about this very issue is what killed him.

Pappenheim, like Zweig, fully embraced a living, lively, pre-WWII European culture. She did not realize that she was dancing with Death, waltzing her people right into the waiting arms of the Nazis and all their many collaborators.

First published in Israel National News.

Posted on 12/28/2017 11:55 AM by Phyllis Chesler
Wednesday, 27 December 2017
Hit and Run

by Theodore Dalrymple

Once when I was driving in Port Harcourt in Nigeria with my friend, Ken Saro-Wiwa (the writer who was later hanged by a military regime), we heard over the car radio an appeal for the owner of the naked man’s body on the side of one the main roads to come and collect it. A few minutes later we drove past that naked body, which was bloating like a barrage balloon in the sun. No one took any notice of it and drove past it as if it were the most natural thing in the world. By then it had been there for two or three days.

Only in Nigeria, we said: but now I am not so sure. Something worse has reportedly happened in South London. A young woman was knocked down by a lorry on a road crossing in Tulse Hill, then hit by another lorry and two cars. None of the four drivers of these vehicles stopped to assist her.

The public’s commentary on this story was interesting, and predictably outraged. Many people wrote that this case typified the behaviour of people in London: but, of course, it was a news story precisely because it was not typical behaviour of people in London, but on the contrary astonishing – if true. The full story is not yet known, and may never be known.

There are many hit-and-run incidents in London every year (currently about 5000), which is highly regrettable of course, and they have increased alarmingly of late years both in absolute numbers and as a proportion of all accidents; but fatalities and serious injuries have not risen in proportion to the number of hit-and-run accidents, suggesting that the increase is mostly in incidents that are relatively minor. As far as I am aware there have been no other accidents in which the victim was allegedly hit by four separate vehicles without the driver of any stopping, as if the victim were merely an injured pheasant in a country lane.

How, then, does one assess the wider significance or meaning of a story such as this? Is it the tip of an iceberg, an augury of the future, or merely a horrible incident (assuming it was as reported) such as will happen from time to time in a huge population such as London’s? Is it any consolation that the situation is worse in Los Angeles County, where the rate of such accidents is about five times higher than in London and the proportion of accidents that are hit-and-run two and a half times higher?  I tend to pessimistic interpretations.

First published in Salisbury Review.

Posted on 12/27/2017 7:35 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Wednesday, 27 December 2017
Italy’s Heroes

by Gary Fouse

Having spent five years in Milan, Italy during my DEA career (1982-1987), I follow the events in that country and try to keep up with the language. Armed with my Firestick, I can enjoy TV shows and movies from around the world. Naturally, I enjoy the Italian crime shows. Along with Scandinavia, Italy is producing the best TV detective series. This week, I watched a two-part movie on Boris Giuliano (Full name, Giorgio Boris Giuliano), who was assassinated by the Mafia in Palermo in 1979. The movie is entitled, Trans-Atlantic Ties or  Un Polizotto a Palermo.

Giuliano's name was very familiar to me when I arrived in Italy three years later because he was one of the true heroes in Italy's fight against the Sicilian Mafia. I would like here to highlight not only Giuliano, but four other notable figures from that era in Italian law enforcement. The others are Rocco ChinniciGeneral Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, and prosecuting magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsalino. All were assassinated by the Mafia in Sicily between 1979 and 1992.

Giuliano left a comfortable position in Milan to return to his native Sicily in order to make a contribution in the fight against the Mafia. Back in Palermo, he became head of the National Police Squadra Mobile (Flying Squad), and aggressively went after the Mafia who were involved in heroin trafficking between Italy and America, the so-called Pizza Connection investigation, which also involved DEA and the FBI. Giuliano worked with both agencies and exchanged valuable information, which led to many high-level arrests and seizures of heroin. Unfortunately, as with the other three, Giuliano's courage and dedication were not matched by many of his superiors as well as many Italian politicians, most notably the Mafia-connected Giulio Andreotti, (who incredibly was prime minister of Italy three times as well as its foreign minister, interior minister and defense minister). As a result, many high-level Mafia figures arrested by Giuliano were soon freed for one reason or another.

As you can read in the link, Giuliano was gunned down by the Mafia in July 1979 as he was having coffee in a coffee bar near the Questura.

Rocco Chinnici was a magistrate in Palermo who created the Anti-Mafia Pool, which also consisted of other magistrates like Falcone and Borsalino to fight the Mafia. Unlike many at the time, he was not afraid to speak publicly about the Mafia. In 1983, he and two of his bodyguards were killed by a car bomb. Eventually, the Anti-Mafia Pool would bring forth the Maxi-Trial against the Mafia with almost 500 indictments (1986-1992). Most of these cases resulted in convictions.

Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa was a Carabinieri general when he was assigned to Palermo in May 1982. He had already achieved fame for his successes against the Italian terror group, Brigati Rossi (Red Brigades). He announced that he would attack the Mafia with the same vigor he had exhibited against the Red Brigades. In September that same year, he, his wife, and his police escort were ambushed and killed in their car by men on motorcycles. The entire country reacted in outrage.

Giovanni Falcone was also a native Sicilian who became one of Italy's most famous prosecutors for his determined campaign to fight  the Mafia. He was part of the Anti-Mafia Pool formed by Chinnici. His greatest success was the Maxi-Trial of Mafia figures which lasted from 1986-1992 and resulted in hundreds of  convictions.

Falcone was eventually transferred to Rome in 1991, but on a regular visit to Sicily in 1992 was murdered by a bomb placed by the side of the road as his car drove by. Also killed were his wife and three police escorts.

Paolo Borsalino, also a Sicilian, was a long-time friend of Falcone and fellow prosecuting magistrate. Like Falcone, he was part of the Anti-Mafia Pool created by Chinnici. Like Falcone, he was tenacious, and like the others was hampered by lack of resources, official corruption, and a lack of will on the part of others to support him. Two months after Falcone's death, Borsalino and five police bodyguards were killed by a car bomb in Palermo.

An Italian movie about the period between the deaths of Falcone and Borsalino is, "Borsalino: The 57 Days". Both that and the movie about Giuliano are very well made movies with top actors. They are in Italian with English sub-titles.

There are many others as well, but these five figures will be remembered by Italian historians. In a particularly violent time in the history of Italy, especially in Sicily, they put their lives on the line and died for a noble cause. Their deaths were met by outrage by Italians across the country including in Sicily. They shame others like Giulio Andreotti and those who were either corrupted or intimidated by the Sicilian Mafia.

Posted on 12/27/2017 5:16 AM by Gary Fouse
Wednesday, 27 December 2017
2017 Was a Year of Amazing Advances for Humanity

Marian L. Tupy's list:

  1. February 6: The age of the bionic body – from robot hands, controlled by your mind, to electronic eyeballs, experts reveal 6 medical marvels introduced by new technology.
  2. February 6: Biologists help deaf mice hear again by inserting healthy genes into their ears – the work shows an ‘unprecedented recovery of inner ear function’ and could be used in humans.
  3. February 10: Computers turn medical sleuths and identify skin cancer – algorithm works as reliably as board-certified dermatologists, study shows.
  4. February 15: For the blind, an actual-reality headset – not just Star Trek fiction, a new visor from eSight is a lightweight, high-contrast vision system for legally blind people.
  5. February 17: Wyoming man receives ‘miracle’ face transplant 10 years after suicide attempt.
  6. February 18: Smartphones to become pocket doctors after scientists discover camera flash and microphone can be used to diagnose illness.
  7. February 20: Hope for millions as scientists discover multiple sclerosis treatment that can slow its progression.
  8. February 22: Life expectancy to break 90 barrier by 2030.
  9. March 2: Teenager’s sickle cell reversed with world-first therapy.
  10. March 3: Terminal cancer patients go into complete remission after groundbreaking gene therapy.
  11. March 3: UTA professor invents breath monitor to detect flu.
  12. March 6: Google’s artificial intelligence can diagnose cancer faster than human doctors – the system is able to scan samples to determine whether or not tissues are cancerous.
  13. March 8: The robot will see you now! Chat-bots that monitor symptoms will become more accurate and quicker at spotting illness than doctors.
  14. March 8: Scientists discover new state of matter called ‘Time Crystals’ – time crystals seemingly break the rules of normal time-keeping and potentially pave the way for quantum computers and quantum sensors.
  15. March 10: Scientists make progress toward engineering synthetic yeast – the work brings to six the number of yeast chromosomes that now can be synthesized, according to new research.
  16. March 13: More people could benefit from BRCA breast cancer drugs.
  17. March 14: Swedish men on target to be first to completely stub out smoking.
  18. March 15: Startup serves up chicken produced from cells in lab – ‘clean meat’ developers say it avoids towering costs of feeding, caring for livestock.
  19. March 15: The next innovation in shipping – Wind Power; Maersk launches trial run of tanker using rotating cylinders that can function as high-tech sails.
  20. March 18: An insect’s eye inspires a new camera for smartphones – a series of eyelets can make cameras much smaller.
  21. March 23: New rotavirus vaccine could prevent thousands of childhood deaths.
  22. March 24: Machines which detect cancer symptoms could be out in a year.
  23. March 27: Can tech speed up emergency room care? A New York hospital system tests a new way to use telemedicine, where E.R. doctors examine patients without being in the same room.
  24. April 2: Plastic-eating fungus may solve garbage problem.
  25. April 6: To handle electronic waste, freeze it and pulverize it – scientists say a new technique can make it more profitable to harvest metals and other materials from circuit boards in old TVs, computers and more.
  26. April 26: Artificial ‘brain in a dish’ is created in a world first: Breakthrough could shed light on conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
  27. May 2: CRISPR eliminates HIV in live animals.
  28. May 4: Scientists engineer baker’s yeast to produce penicillin molecules.
  29. May 5: Iceland drills 4.7 km down into volcano to tap clean energy.
  30. May 11: Scientists have created an exoskeleton to stop elderly people from falling.
  31. May 11: HIV life expectancy ‘near normal’ thanks to new drugs.
  32. May 17: Lab-grown blood stem cells produced at last – two research teams cook up recipe to make long-sought cells in mice and people.
  33. May 18: Antibodies from a human survivor define sites of vulnerability for broad protection against ebola viruses.
  34. May 18: Scientists look to skies to improve tsunami detection.
  35. May 22: World’s largest aircraft completes successful test flight.
  36. May 23: MIT researchers develop a moisture-responsive workout suit with live cells.
  37. June 1: ‘Instantly rechargeable’ battery could change the future of electric and hybrid automobiles.
  38. June 1: Extinct species of Galapagos giant tortoise may be resurrected.
  39. June 3: SpaceX successfully launches reused Dragon spacecraft for ISS resupply.
  40. June 3: ‘Liquid Biopsy’ passes early test in quest to find cancer in blood .
  41. June 13: Live antibiotics use bacteria to kill bacteria.
  42. July 3: This Silicon Valley company wants to ‘make better humans’ through biohacking.
  43. July 6: DNA from sharks that can live up to 400 years could hold the secret to a longer life.
  44. July 6: Robot wars – knee surgery marks new battleground for companies.
  45. July 9: Banks deploy AI to cut off terrorists’ funding.
  46. July 11: Scientists design a solar cell that captures nearly all energy of solar spectrum.
  47. July 17: Bananas – scientists create vitamin A-rich fruit that could save hundreds of thousands of children’s lives.
  48. July 22: This new material could let phones and electric cars charge in seconds.
  49. July 26: New artificial spider silk: stronger than steel and 98 percent water.
  50. July 28: Melanoma: – new, more effective drug steps closer.
  51. July 28: Could stem cells reverse the aging process)?
  52. July 28: Juvenescence AI to develop first compounds generated by Insilico’s deep-learned drug discovery engines.
  53. August 4: IBM storage breakthrough paves way for 330TB tape cartridges.
  54. August 28: Anti-inflammatory drug ‘cuts heart attack risk’.
  55. August 30: Trial raises Parkinson’s therapy hope.
  56. August 30: FDA clears first gene-altering therapy — ‘a living drug’ — for childhood leukemia.
  57. September 7: Shropshire farm completes harvest with nothing but robots; a world-first in automation.
  58. September 12: U.S. middle-class incomes reached highest-ever level in 2016, Census Bureau says.
  59. September 23: Newly engineered antibody could kill off 99 per cent of HIV strains.
  60. September 28: DNA surgery on embryos removes disease.
  61. October 9: Google is going to use experimental high-altitude balloons to provide internet in Puerto Rico.
  62. October 18: Dyslexia link to eye spots confusing brain, say scientists.
  63. October 29: Saudi Arabia to allow women into sports stadiums.
  64. November 13: Brain implant boosts human memory by mimicking how we learn.
  65. November 14: ‘Better than Concorde’ supersonic 1,687mph airliner to ‘revolutionize’ air travel by 2025 (link).
  66. November 15: The firm that can 3D print human body parts.
  67. November 15: US scientists try 1st gene editing in the body.
  68. November 15: US biotech unicorn steps up competition for BioNTech’s mRNA personalized cancer vaccine.
  69. November 24: Cancer breakthrough: Potential cure could be ready as early as next year.
  70. November 26: Diabetes drug ‘could be used to end agony of transplant rejection’.
  71. November 29: Expanding DNA’s alphabet lets cells produce novel proteins.
  72. November 30: Designer proteins—the new generation of HIV vaccines being put to the test
  73. November 30: Trees are covering more of the land in rich countries – the spread of forests is not always popular. But it is sure to continue.
  74. December 1: HIV breakthrough as cancer drug could hold secret to curing the virus.
  75. December 1: In Rwanda, drones deliver medical supplies to remote areas – such services help people in isolated regions – and could yield lessons for making shipments elsewhere.
  76. December 4: China rules aquaculture as fish output triples in decade.
  77. December 7: Bumper crops boost global cereal supplies in 2017/18.
  78. December 10: Democracy is far from dead – in 12 years, the share of the world’s people who live in ‘free’ countries has risen.
  79. December 11: Huntington’s breakthrough may stop disease.
  80. December 11: Tasmanian tigers aren’t extinct (or at least they won’t be for long!) – Scientists unlock mysterious creature’s DNA – and plan to clone it bring the beast back to Australia.
  81. December 13: Streetlights could be replaced by glowing trees, after scientists make plants shine in the dark.
  82. December 14: Haemophilia A trial results ‘mind-blowing’.
Posted on 12/27/2017 4:34 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 26 December 2017
The United Nations Blocks Reality on Jerusalem

by Michael  Curtis

The most moving and eloquent words spoken in the UN General Assembly, the assembly of hypocrisy, incitement, and lies, were articulated by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, after the UNGA on November 10, 1975  had passed the infamous Resolution 3379 that declared that "Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimimation."

Moynihan rose to declare that this is a lie which the UN has now declared to be a truth. A great evil has been loosed on the world. The U.S. did not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act...the abomination of antisemitism ... has been given the appearance of international sanction."

Forty-two years later another candid U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has echoed the derogatory tone of his censure and rebuked the UN  for another infamous Resolution, asserting, "I am here to emphasize that the U.S. is determined to stand up to the UN's anti-Israel bias.

On December 21, 2017 at an emergency session the UNGA passed a Resolution, by 128 to 9 with 35 abstentions and 21 others who did not vote, implicitly referring to the declaration of President Donald Trump on December 7, 2017. In his statement Trump recognized that Jerusalem was the capital of the State of Israel, that the U.S. was planning to relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and that the U.S. would support a two state solution if agreed to by both sides.

The UNGA disgraced itself once again when its new Resolution reaffirmed the thrust of previous Resolutions, nine, since November 1967. It affirmed  that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered  the character, status, or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are "null and void" and must be rescinded. It called on all states to refrain from the etablishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem.  In effect it rebuked the U.S. which was told to withdraw its statement.

It has long been a disgrace in international politics that almost all the agencies of the UN  have no credibity and have been hostile places on any issue concerning  the State of Israel. Indeed, of the 93 UN Resolutions passed this year, 83 ( 86%)were directed against Israel. Nikki Haley forcefully explained that Israel can stand up not only for itself and its security, but also for freedom and human dignity in general.

However, this new UN vote is different in that it attacked the U.S.  for exercising its right, that all states have as sovereign nations, to make decisions of its own. Haley declared that the U.S. would not be told by outsiders where to put one of its embassies. Perversely, it is not the U.S. but the Palestinians and anti-Israeli forces who are throwing road blocks to Middle East negotiations, and causing a stalemate. Indeed, long time, 12 years in his 4 year term, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said he will not accept any U.S. plans for Middle East  peace, as the U.S. is no longer an honest negotiator in the process. Abbas has declared the UN vote is a victory for Palestine, and his UN envoy Riyad Mansou has delighted it is a massive setback for the U.S.

In fact, Palestinian leaders refused to meet with Vice President Mike Pence who had planned in December 2017 to visit Bethlehem and the Nativity Church, as part of the Palestinian policy to refuse the discuss the future of the region with the US. Their action is not only discourteous to the U.S. but a deliberate rebuke to Pope Francis who called in his Christmas Message for prayers  that "the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties (Israel and Palestinians) and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached."

Naturally, the opposition to Trump's declaration came from many countries not generally regarded as peace loving powers or shining examples as protectors of what the UN Resolution called "the unique spiritual, religious, and cultural dimensions" of Jerusalem. Prominent were Venezuela, a world center for illegal drug trafficking, which claimed the U.S. threatened world peace and that the world was not for sale; Syria, still involved in its brutal civil war;  Yemen, where more than seven million are at risk of starvation, helped draft the anti-US Resolution; and North Korea so concerned with the Holy City that it forgot to set off another ballistic missile on the day of the UN vote.

Yet, it is saddening that among the 128 votes for the Resolution were western democracies, including 22 of the 28 EU countries: France, UK, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Italy, and Switzerland, as well as Russia, China, and Iran. The opposition nine embraced Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Micronesia, and Togo, as well as the U.S. and Israel. The 35 abstentions included five EU  states and other normally U.S. allies such as Australia and Canada. Those who did not vote might have feared U.S. warning of funding cuts to them.

Ambassador Haley fought gallantly against the UN Resolution, nonbinding and largely symbolic though it is, as Moynihan did in 1975, and informed UN members that the US was taking names and "we will remember when we are called on to once again make the world's largest contribution to the UN." Since 1994, the US has given over $5  billion to Palestine in bilateral economic assistance, security assistance, and humanitarian assistance. It funds almost 30% of the UNRWA budget.

In this there are problems in implementing the Trump policy. A good part of  US aid funding is appropriated by Congress for particular countries and issues. Unilateral cuts to a specific country are not easy, because they may be related to specific packages in countries. There are in fact different, really three, aid streams; military and security assistance that goes to governments; development aid for those in need and for fighting poverty; and humanitarian aid. One dilemma is that it is difficult to cut development aid, because of both the recent decline in commodity prices in developing countries, and the stuggle of those countries with Ebola.

The US as Haley has said is responding. The Trump administration has already issued warnings about other activities of the UN or individual countries. Because of the actions of Saudi Arabia in blockading  food, water, and medecine to Yemen,  the US  threatened to cut aid to the country. In 2011 UNESCO, the first UN agency to do so,  decided to accept Palestine as a full member, though there is no Palesinian state. The US and Israel both froze anuual funding to UNESCO. US law prohibits funding any UN agencies that recognize Palestine as a state. Now in December 2017, the US followed by Israel announced it will withdraw from UNESCO.

Ambassador Haley has made clear that the Trump declaration on Jerusalem  has not harmed the peace process, but like a good detective has recognized the obvious. Interestingly, the US has been in a similar situation more than thirty years ago. The UN Security Council on August 20 1980, voted Resolution 478, 14 to none with the US abstaining, condemning the Israeli declaration that Jerusalem was Israel's "complete and united capital." The then Secretary of State Edmund Muskie in the Clinton Presidency responded it was another proof of the unbalanced and unrealistic UN texts on Middle East  issues. The Resolution was a disruptive attempt to dictate to other nations. It  did nothing to advance the cause of peace. The continuing problem is that the UN is singing the same discordant tune over and over again. For the US it is time to change partners and advance.

The international uprising against the Trump statement antipated by the usual suspects did not take place, or was far more muted than they proclaimed. The opposite may be occuring.

Guatemala 's President Jimmy Morales, an evangelical Christian, and TV personality, plans to follow the intentions of President Trump and move his country's embassy to Jerusalem. Both the Czech Republic and Costa Rica are considering similar action. And hyprocisy will have its day. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, has unilaterally without negotiations, called for East Jerusalem to be the capital of the Palestinan state. Turkey has announced, in spite of its involvement present war on the Kurds, that "with God's permission," the day is "close" when Turkey will open an embassy in that Palestinian state. So much for the UN condemnations of decisions altering the "character, status, or demographic composition of the Holy City."

Posted on 12/26/2017 6:45 AM by Michael Curtis
Tuesday, 26 December 2017
Mohammedan Mob Forbids Wearing of Santa Hats in Indonesia but Dons Santa Hats - indeed Santa Costumes - for Propaganda Jihad Against Jews in Israel

In Islam, expediency rules.  

Whatever furthers the Jihad, the struggle to make Muslims dominant and/ or  to enforce sharia compliance, is permissible.  In Indonesia Muslims rule, so the most pious Muslims then strive to force full sharia compliance: Muslims ought not to wear Santa costumes.  But in so-called 'palestine' - that is, in Muslim-occupied Judea and Samaria - Muslim Arabs who during Christmas time, when the eyes of the infidel world and its media are focused on Bethlehem, use this time to wage jihad against the Jews, don Santa Claus costumes so as to further the propaganda aspect of their jihad... to subliminally suggest  - via the widely-promulgated images of these faux Mohammedan Santa Clauses, these wolves in sheep's clothing - that the Jooooz are attacking Santa, Christmas, Christianity.  

This story has to be seen, with its attendant pictures, in order to grasp the extent to which Islam is governed by sheer expediency, and the depth and perverseness of the types of deceit that Muslims naturally and frequently engage in.

"Palestinians Dressed as Santa Claus Clash With Israeli Forces in Bethlehem".

That ought to be - "Wolves in Sheeps' Clothing: Muslims in Santa Costumes Attack Jewish Soldiers in Bethelehem in Judaea". 

'Palestinian protestors (sic: Muslim rioters - CM), some festively dressed as Santa Claus (sic: "some wearing Santa Claus costumes to fool western useful-idiots into siding with their genocidal Jew-hatred" - CM) have clashed with (sic: rather "provoked and attacked" - CM) Israeli security forces (Jewish Israeli law enforcement officers and soldiers- CM) in Bethlehem (sic: that should be - "in Bethlehem in Yehudah" - CM), a day before the beginning of Christmas celebrations in the West Bank city revered as the birthplace of Jesus (sic: 'in the city in historic Judea in the land of Israel where Jesus was born" - CM).

'Holding Palestinian flags, the demonstrators, who gathered at an Israeli military tower to protest against (with the claimed excuse of protesting against - CM) U S President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, were pushed back by the soldiers who also used stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the protest (sic: to repel the mob attack - CM).

'There have been regular protests (sic: riots - CM) by Palestinians and pro-Palestinian groups across the Middle East (sic: by local Muslims and by other Muslims of assorted ethnicities in many places - CM)  since Mr Trump announced his decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem earlier this month.

I hope he hurries up and makes the move.  And then surrounds it with US marines charged with shooting to kill any mohammedan mobster that tries to attack it. - CM

'Defying the United States on Thursday, the UN General Assembly (sic: The UN General Assembly, dominated by the Islamintern and its fellow-travellers, Muslim and non-Muslim Jewhaters and America-haters, Useful Idiots, and outright cowards - CM) approved a resolution calling for the United States to drop its December 6 recognition of Jerusalem - a city revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians (sic: the Jews' central and most important historic and religious site, which is of significance to Christians because Jesus the Jew preached and died and was resurrected there, but to which Muslims - for whom it is in fact of negligible significance - lay exclusive claim in order to spite both Jews and Christians - CM), as Israel's capital.

'Resident of Bethlehem (sic; Muslim squatter in Jewish Bethlehem - CM) Mohammad Al-lahham said the Santa costumes were worn to send a message to Palestinian (sic: local Arab mostly-Muslim - CM) children.

"Our message is a message to the children of Palestine (sic: Muslim children in and around Israel; whenever one hears the word 'Palestine' in a Muslim mouth one must bear in mind that such speakers always mean all of historic eretz Yisroel; and that our Mohammed Al-Lahham would envisage either an Arab Islamic state of "Palestine' in which there were no Jews at all, all the Jews having been either driven out - as Muslim Jordan drove out and then kept out all Jews from the Old City of Jerusalem, when Muslim Jordan seized the heart of the City in 1948 - or else killed; or else in which there was an oppressed minority of Jews forced to live as Dhimmis, to be tormented at will by their rapacious and capricious Muslim overlords. - CM) that Papa Noel (Santa Claus) comes to the displaced and suffering people to give the gifts children of Palestine are deprived of", he said.  "Today we are dressed like Papa Noel to give gift which is the resistance on our land".

In other words, this vicious Mohammmedan supremacist has appropriated - stolen, or perhaps, kidnapped and taken hostage? - Santa Claus, for the purposes of Jihad; physical jihad and propaganda jihad.  HIs audience is not only those pickled-in-Jewhatred cradle-Muslim 'children of Palestine', who can be seen aplenty on MEMRI, in Hamas and Fatah kiddy TV shows, or in youtube clips produced by their proud Muslim parents, waving knives, chirping in childish voices their desire to murder Jews; it is also the empty heads in the Western world who are only too eager to buy the mohammedan theatre of victimhood, and whose latent antisemitism is sweetly titillated by the image of poor dear Santa Claus being mistreated by the evil weapon-toting Joooo. - CM  

"A message to the children of Palestine is that we are on the path to freedom, to [get] Jerusalem.  Papa Noel distributes gifts and the occupation distributes bombs today. (Nonsense-and-lies; the bombs are the suicide bombs that Muslims exploded, over and over, amongst the Jews of Israel, choosing especially to target locations where there were women and young children; it is the bombs that Jihad Armed Camp Gaza fires indiscriminately into civilian-inhabited areas of Israel, and which fail only because of Israeli cleverness and preparedness. - CM).  These are the bombs that the Israeli occupation is distributing today, at Christmas."....

Note well that sly and probably whining invocation of a festival for which, as a pious Muslim, Mr Lahham would in fact feel boundless contempt.  Mr Lahham is a Muslim.  Mr Lahham surely knows all about shirk, and not assigning partners to Allah, and therefore, despises Christmas, which involves the celebration of the birth of the incarnate Word of God; as a Muslim he is supposed to view the few Christians left in Bethelehem as people to be despised, abused, exploited, never befriended, though they are temporarily useful in the furtherance of the Jihad against the Jews.  I would bet good money that Christmas is not something he himself cares two hoots about.  He is merely making use of Christmas, as he makes use of Father Christmas/ Santa Claus, for propaganda purposes, for the Jihad. War is deceit. 

Click on the link and look at the pictures.  

Only those Infidel observers with attention spans greater than that of a gnat will bear grimly in mind, as they examine those pictures, other images: the image of the Christians' Santa Claus depicted with bound hands ready to be beheaded by Islamic State jihadis, as recently spread abroad by Islamic State propagandists, and the reports of furious Islamic denunciations of the wearing of Santa costumes for fun or for commercial purposes, in Indonesia, and understand what is really going on when Mohammedan mobsters in and around Bethlehem of Judaea get themselves up in Santa costumes before going out a-rioting. - CM


Posted on 12/26/2017 4:49 AM by Christina McIntosh
Monday, 25 December 2017
Christmas Day Supplementary Quiz Questions


Merry Christmas to all of you who read at NER.

If you have an idle moment or two you may care to try to answer some, or all, of my quiz questions. As usual, all the answers have something to do with Christmas. The answers to the ten questions I ask below all have something in particular to do with today.

You can find the first twenty-one questions in this quiz here at NER and the five questions posted on the last Sunday of Advent, Christmas Eve, also here at NER.


(1)   According to his friend William Stukeley, this person “...went into the garden, & drank thea under the shade of some appletrees...”. Who was he and when was he born?

(2)   “This is the Record of John” is not about the compiler of this quiz, but is an Advent text from St. John’s Gospel set for solo countertenor, or tenor, alternating with a full chorus. Who set it to music and when was he baptised?

(3)   Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi ruled from 15th of February in AD1775 to his death on the 29th of August in AD1799. What did he rule, by what name and regnal number is he better known and, most importantly, when was he born?

(4)   Johann Georg Palitzsch saw something first. What did he see and when did he see it?

(5)   This AD1953 Christmas song was written by Joan Javits (the niece of Senator Jacob K. Javits) and Philip Springer and the singer most associated with it originally recorded it with Henri René and his orchestra in New York City in the July of that year. What was the song called, who was the singer and when did she die?

(6)   In an African war a shell was fired that contained a food item and not gunpowder. What was the war, where was the shell fired, what did it contain and, most importantly, when was it fired?

(7)   The Scottish authoress of “The ewe-buchtin’s bonnie” and the well-known “And werena my heart licht I wad dee” is famous for her poetic songs and her ‘Household Book’. What was her name, how is it usually styled and when was she born?

(8)   The discoverer of Saturn’s rings released the discoverer of Titan, a moon of Saturn, successfully. What are the discoverers called, what was released and when was it released?

(9)   He wrote "Makar's Dream" and he explored spirituality all through his rebellious life. Who was this Russian and when did he die?

(10)  Crème Valaze, that probably included herbs from the Carpathian Mountains, made her name. Who was she and when was she born?





Posted on 12/25/2017 7:23 AM by John M. Joyce
Monday, 25 December 2017
Behold, A Child is Born

Madonna and Child with Saints in the Enclosed Garden by Robert Campin (between circa 1440 and circa 1460)

Posted on 12/25/2017 5:08 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Sunday, 24 December 2017
Quiz Extra

Just a little something extra for the fourth Sunday in Advent, also Christmas Eve.

You can find the first twenty-one questions in this quiz here at NER.

Remember, it's all about Christmas.


(1)  When were carols first sung in churches and who introduced them?

(2)  Traditionally, when does one add the kings, the wise men, to one’s model nativity tableau?

(3)  Which national post office was the first to release a Christmas stamp, and when did it do so?

(4)  Who wrote “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” and what is it better known as today?

(5)  What has a ‘welkin’ to do with herald angels?



There'll be more tomorrow if my internet connection holds together.

Answers, as usual, on Twelfth Night.



Posted on 12/24/2017 1:05 PM by John M. Joyce
Sunday, 24 December 2017
Homeland Security: PA Gunman Who Attacked Police Was Terrorist Brought In By Chain Migration

The Department of Homeland Security describes the shooting spree in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which took place on Friday, as “a terror attack.” The gunman opened fire and targeted police in several locations in the city.

Posted on 12/24/2017 5:43 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Saturday, 23 December 2017
Halal school meals ban could be challenged in court

From the Burnley Express

 A move to ban unstunned halal meat from Lancashire schools could be delayed or overturned after the threat of a judicial review was made to Lancashire County Council. Councillors in Lancashire voted in October that in future any halal meat served in schools must be butchered from pre-stunned animals, with the exception of poultry. The ruling on beef and lamb was due to take effect when the council’s meat supply contract was renewed this month. However, there is a three month period from the time that Full Council made their decision in late October for any party which disagrees with the decision to apply for a judicial review.

The county council has now revealed that it has been served with legal papers from the Lancashire Council of Mosques which effectively puts it on notice that a judicial review could go ahead unless the matter is resolved. Ie, until the Muslims get things to their liking.

County Coun. Geoff Driver, leader of Lancashire County Council, said: “We are due to put on hold the new contract for supply of halal meat to schools.

The Council of Mosques said the decision would “only serve to increase Islamophobia and anti-Semitism”.


Posted on 12/23/2017 11:50 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 23 December 2017
Hundreds Storm Coptic Church in Egypt

From the Wall Street Journal and the Malay Mail

CAIRO—An Egyptian Coptic Christian diocese said Saturday that hundreds of Muslim demonstrators had assaulted one of its churches.

The diocese in Atfih said the incident in Giza just outside Cairo took place after Friday prayers when demonstrators gathered outside the building and stormed it. The diocese said the Prince Tawadros church had been used for almost 15 years and had applied for a licence under a law passed last year meant to ease permits for new churches.

The demonstrators chanted hostile slogans and called for the church’s demolition, the statement said. They destroyed the church’s contents and assaulted Christians inside before security personnel arrived and dispersed them.

It also said the wounded were transferred to a nearby hospital but didn’t elaborate.

Posted on 12/23/2017 11:35 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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