The instant crisis over the 90-day ban of some categories of foreigners from the United States is a sideshow and will pass quickly. But, like the treatment of the Mexican-wall issue, it has had some ham-handed aspects. It will not be possible for a while to determine when the president is making a calculated lurching move or a startling utterance – one intended to put down a marker and disconcert opponents before he executes a tactical retreat to where he originally wished to end up — and when he has just been impetuous and has not prepared his initiative with adequate care, as apparently occurred with the executive order on immigration.
What Trump’s foreign and domestic enemies have called “the Muslim ban” is, of course, nothing of the kind, and the administration has made it clear that it is not a sectarian exclusion. About 10 percent of the absurd overreaction to the ban is sage comment that the administration really has to think these initiatives through and formulate them in ways that are less vulnerable to legitimate legal and policy challenge. Opening windows for such ferocious criticism, and Democratic mischief and insubordination by the Obama-appointed deputy attorney general while the confirmation of the attorney general–designate is delayed for partisan reasons, is very stressful for the president’s supporters who fear that too much confrontation could imperil his legislative program. That program is so radical that it will require united and contented Republican congressional majorities and the odd reasonable Democrat as well. (This does not excuse Republican senators McCain and Graham from their irritating habit of masquerading as a judicious and urbane third party of two dispensing unctuous dissent like an oracle.)
The partial entry ban, as modified, is reasonably acceptable for 90 days. In the Mexican affair, the president apparently feels that Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto reneged on some of what he had promised when they met in July. But Mexico, an important country that has made great political and economic progress in the last 25 years, should be treated with more careful diplomacy, as the president effectively promised in his Friday press conference with the British prime minister, Theresa May. The correlation of forces between the two countries is almost as one-sided as it was when President Polk lifted 1 million square miles (about as much as both the Louisiana Purchase and the total territory of the original 13 colonies) on a flimsy legal basis in the war of 1846–48. The president made too much of the formula that the Mexicans would “pay for the wall” when what he meant, as he occasionally explained, was that the reduction in the trade deficit with that country would pay for it. Mexico should be treated more respectfully, but the more vocal Mexican supporters should not be allowed to get away with inciting the inference that Mexico has a perfect right to export unemployment to the United States while depositing millions of its unskilled people in the American welfare, education, and justice systems.
The executive order on the 90-day ban was sufficiently sloppily formulated that it has brought all of Trump’s foes snorting out of the undergrowth, from the far and soft left to the comparatively intellectual right; all are doing a Saint Vitus Dance, imputing the most fantastic incompetence and malice to the president. The administration has responded with a see-saw combination of placatory clarifications and defiance of critics, and seems to be holding a majority of domestic opinion. The main arguments have nothing to do with the textual contents of the order, and are just another fulmination of concern that Trump is a bigot, a madman, and a terminal vulgarian. (The first two concerns are unfounded and the last is an overstated matter of taste.) Critics, hyped by the desperate media, whom about 70 percent of Americans and 86 percent of Republicans don’t trust, claim that the whole world is “nervous” and that this “is just the beginning” of Trump’s dictatorial madness and that all Muslims in the world are about to be reactively transformed into becoming jihadist sympathizers. I don’t think so.
On the night of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush said that the United States would make no distinction between terrorists and states that tolerated terrorism. That line has become blurred and the leaders of many Muslim countries, as well as the bulk of Islamic clergy, have to be shaken into taking sides on these issues. To a large degree, the Islamic terrorists are, in Maoist terminology, “swimming like fish in the sea of the people” in Muslim countries. Most of those governments are very inadequately scourging out extremists, though there has been some improvement since 9/11. The Pakistani sheltering of bin Laden was indicative of the fright and malice that induce ostensibly friendly Muslim governments to straddle this most crucial issue. The reduction of U.S. oil imports will undercut the activities of several terrorist-sponsoring petro-states.
Islam is essentially a congregational religion, with no central authority, unlike most Christian churches, but the record of its elders is a checkered one. Anyone who thinks we are going to defeat terrorism by avoiding the use of the phrase “Islamic extremism” as President Obama and Hillary Clinton did, or by absurd, groveling apologies to the Muslim world such as Mrs. Clinton made on behalf of the United States to cover up the terrorist origins of the Benghazi tragedy, is mistaken. Such weakness only incites escalated outrages, as the under-reaction of the Clinton administration to the initial terrorist outrages (the first World Trade Center bombing, Khobar Towers, East African embassies, USS Cole) demonstrated.
The alarmists about the new regime should note that the most important public statement the president made about foreign policy last week was “A strong and independent Britain is a blessing to the world.” This replaces Obama’s threat to put “Britain at the back of the queue” if it left Europe, and is the beginning of rebuilding the Western Alliance on the great precedents of Roosevelt and Churchill (whose bust has returned to the Oval Office), and Reagan and Thatcher.
As usual in Trump matters, most observers have missed the point and contentedly assured the many millions of nodding and knowing heads that Trump has struck out in the White House after ten days. Some Trump critics have jubilantly announced that Trump has managed to shut down his own honeymoon. There has been no honeymoon and if there ever is one for this president, it will be some time coming. Trump declared war on the entire governing elite of the country — all factions of both parties, almost all the media, Hollywood, Wall Street, academia, the lobbyists, and the federal bureaucracy. He ran a populist campaign to take over one of the main political parties, a little like William Jennings Bryan and the bimetallists in 1896. But he won the election with a campaign that was both radical and in policy terms, conservative.
Though the Clintons, Obamas, and Bushes have gone from Washington, the national media, so accustomed to immense influence in creating and legitimizing and reassuring the groupthink that has governed in the post-Reagan era, remain in the front lines of a fierce defensive action as Donald Trump continues his war against the main body of the political elites, which he and his scores of millions of supporters regard as an anthill of corruption, hypocrisy, and cowardice. This battle will continue to escalate. The Democrats have promised scorched earth; they have no more been honeymooners than were Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows when Ralph Kramden punched his left hand with his right fist and shouted “Pow! To the moon, Alice!” The Democrats are trying to sandbag Trump’s Cabinet nominees, especially those who have promised to promote charter schools, crack down on the abuses of labor organizations, strip all the bunk about global warming out of environmental policy, promote oil and gas production, incentivize job-creating economic growth, reform health care, and reactivate the Justice Department. The Democrats will probably not be able to stop confirmation of his Cabinet nominees, but he will have to engage in some degree of cajolery from the driver’s seat of the Trump bulldozer to get his program through.
The level of antagonism of his opponents is obvious almost every day, and is not unrequited by the president and his supporters. Two of the most vivid examples last week were the New YorkTimes’ outright invention of the claim that Trump had banished the bust of Martin Luther King from the Oval Office, which, as he made clear, was not just false but an accusation of racism, which is also false. The mouthy late-night-talk-show hostess Chelsea Handler said she would not have Melania Trump on her program because “she can hardly speak English.” Against such witless and compulsive animus, the president and his supporters should prevail, but he might like to be more careful and have occasional recourse to subtlety. The reason the country appears so divided is that it is divided. About half the country thinks the entire power structure is flabby, corrupt, and useless; and the other half, including the serried ranks of its members, think it is adequate to commendable and that it has been assaulted by a maniacal demagogue. Most of the Trump program will work if he can enact it, and then he will have his honeymoon.
We are witnessing a struggle for the heart and mind of America, and for the apparatus of its government, on a scale that has not been seen since the Civil War.
“M.I.” refers to the Muslim Interlocutor who has invited others to “Ask a Muslim” any questions they may have about Islam. Once the M.I. has answered (or tried, or refused, to), possible responses to him are given below, merely as a guide and not meant to be exhaustive:
1. What is the meaning of Jihad?
“Jihad” in Arabic means “struggle.” More specifically, it is the central duty of all Muslims, the “struggle” to spread Islam all over the globe until all Unbelievers either convert to Islam or accept the status of dhimmis and pay the Jizyah, or capitation tax. Jihad can take many forms, such as defending Islam from its critics, migrating to foreign soil for the purpose of propagating Islam, demographic conquest, and supporting its growth financially. a central duty of all Muslims. But Jihad’s main meaning involves violence. No major Muslim group has ever repudiated the doctrine of armed Jihad. Violent Jihad is founded on many verses in the Qur’an, but in the Ask-the-Muslim context, have at the ready to quote, especially, the Verse of the Sword: (9:5, “Then when the sacred months are past, slay the idolaters wherever you find them…”).
M.I. will claim that the “real” meaning of Jihad is something like a “struggle within one’s soul” to become a better person, or “self-improvement.” He may offer that hadith where it is written that “Upon his return from battle Muhammad said, ‘We have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad’ (i.e. the struggle against the evil of one’s soul).” But this hadith is of doubtful authenticity. It does not appear in any of the six sahih sittah (“reliable collections”) of hadith. One Muslim authority speaks for all of them when he writes that “this hadith has no source, nobody whomsoever in the field of Islamic Knowledge has narrated it. Jihad against the disbelievers is the most noble of actions, and moreover it is the most important action for the sake of mankind.” And he concludes that the evidence used as proof that Jihad on the battlefield is Jihad Asghar (lesser Jihad) and Jihad against the desires and Shaitan is Jihad Akbar [greater jihad] are weak if not false hadith. (Then urge onlookers, who will have been suitably impressed with your response, to google “Lesser Jihad” and “Greater Jihad” to find out more about this canard.)
2. Why are Christians and Jews required to pay the Jizyah to Muslims?
“Jizyah” is the capitation or poll tax that non-Muslims must pay to the Muslim state in order to be allowed to stay alive and practice their faith. It is the main, but not the only disability, inflicted on those non-Muslims who are the ahl al-dhimma, the People of the Pact, or dhimmis. While your Muslim propagandist will argue that the “jizyah” is not now exacted everywhere, it remains a permanent part of Islamic doctrine (and is, in fact, collected in the Islamic State). Remind your listeners that some Muslims in the West, such as Anjem Choudary, gloating over the vast amounts of benefits Muslim immigrants receive, call these benefits “the Jihad seekers’ allowance.”
3. Why does it say in the Qur’an that Muslims should not take Christians and Jews as friends, for they are friends only with each other?
Here you hope that your Muslim interlocutor simply denies this passage’s existence altogether. You then quote in full Qur’an 5:51, which is at the ready on your smartphone or on notecards. And to get to the reason for 5:51 (and many other passages of similar import, as 3:28, 3:85, 3:118, 7:44, 9:23 could also be quoted), Muslims are in a state of permanent war – violent Jihad, but Jihad conducted by whatever means, including peaceful ones. To prevent any relapse into Unbelief, to keep the Jihad fervor up, they are taught to distrust, and distance themselves from, all non-Muslims, who are depicted as if in a conspiracy (“they are friends only with each other”) against Muslims. It makes no sense for the “best of peoples” (Qur’an 3:110) to become friends with the “vilest of creatures” (Qur’an 98:6).
4. It says in the Qur’an that “there is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2.256). If there is no compulsion in religion, then why are people who leave Islam threatened with death?
The M.I. will have no answer to this, except possibly to claim what is being punished is not an apostate’s loss of belief but, rather, with that apostate’s proclaiming that turn to unbelief and thus harming Islam. The implication is that if an apostate does it quietly then there will be no punishment. But you can have ready 4:89: “They wish that you should reject faith as they reject faith, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them, until they emigrate in the way of God; then, if they turn their backs, take them, and slay them wherever you find them; take not to yourselves any one of them as friend or helper.” 2:217, 9:73-74, 88:21, 5:54, 9:66 are ready examples from the Qur’an and Hadith that make no mention of an apostate only being killed if he makes public his apostasy. Have at the ready as well some of the hadith, as for example these:
Sahih Bukhari (52:260) – “…The Prophet said, ‘If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him.’ “
Sahih Bukhari (83:37) – “Allah’s Apostle never killed anyone except in one of the following three situations: (1) A person who killed somebody unjustly, was killed (in Qisas,) (2) a married person who committed illegal sexual intercourse and (3) a man who fought against Allah and His Apostle and deserted Islam and became an apostate.”
Sahih Bukhari (84:57) – [In the words of] “Allah’s Apostle, ‘Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'”
To which M.I. has NO reply.
5. Why did the Ayatollah Khomeini lower the marriageable age of girls to 9?
The Ayatollah Khomeini was a learned cleric, and he knew that Muhammad, the Perfect Man (al-insan al-kamil) and Model of Conduct (uswa hasana) had consummated his marriage to little Aisha when she was nine (she was betrothed to him at the age of six). What’s right for Muhammad is right for every Muslim, forever. Hence his eagerness to reduce the marriageable age to that of Aisha. Under the secularizing Shah, of course, the marriageable age of Iranian girls was 18 – for a good Muslim like the Ayatollah Khomeini, that was an abomination. Others, but possibly “not my Muslim friend here,” no doubt feel differently.
Again, NO reply.
6. What is the surest way for a Muslim to get to Heaven?
The surest way to Jannah (Muslim Paradise) is by engaging in violent Jihad and dying as a “martyr” while fighting in the path of Allah.
Such people go directly to Paradise,
Quran (8:15-16) – “O ye who believe! when ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them. If any do turn his back to them on such a day – unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)- he draws on himself the wrath of Allah, and his abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed)!” Not only does Muhammad lay down the principle that a Muslim can serve time in Hell, but they may find themselves there for neglecting to kill unbelievers when directed to do so.
Quran (9:39) – “If ye go not forth He will afflict you with a painful doom…” It isn’t enough to believe. Muhammad is telling his soldiers (who do not want to fight) that they will be sent to hell if they do not join the battle.
Quran (3:169-170) – “Think not of those who are slain in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord; They rejoice in the bounty provided by Allah: And with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them (in their bliss), the (Martyrs) glory in the fact that on them is no fear, nor have they (cause to) grieve.“ Martyrs go directly from life to paradise, where they wait for those who must first go through the Day of Judgment.
There are other ways to get to Paradise, some not requiring violence. But if he does so, you must come back to those Qur’anic passages, especially 3:169-170, that rank dying in Jihad as the SUREST AND FASTEST way.
LAHORE, Pakistan — Ten million dollars does not seem to buy much in this bustling Pakistani city. That is the sum the United States is offering for help in convicting Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, perhaps the country’s best-known jihadi leader. Yet Mr. Saeed lives an open, and apparently fearless, life in a middle-class neighborhood here.
“I move about like an ordinary person — that’s my style,” said Mr. Saeed, a burly 64-year-old, reclining on a bolster as he ate a chicken supper. “My fate is in the hands of God, not America.”
Mr. Saeed is the founder, and is still widely believed to be the true leader, of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group that carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, in which more than 160 people, including six Americans, were killed. The United Nations has placed him on a terrorist list and imposed sanctions on his group. But few believe he will face trial any time soon in a country that maintains a perilous ambiguity toward jihadi militancy, casting a benign eye on some groups, even as it battles others that attack the state.
Mr. Saeed’s very public life seems more than just an act of mocking defiance against the Obama administration and its bounty, analysts say. As American troops prepare to leave Afghanistan next door, Lashkar is at a crossroads, and its fighters’ next move — whether to focus on fighting the West, disarm and enter the political process, or return to battle in Kashmir — will depend largely on Mr. Saeed.
At his Lahore compound — a fortified house, office and mosque — Mr. Saeed is shielded not only by his supporters, burly men wielding Kalashnikovs outside his door, but also by the Pakistani state. On a recent evening, police officers screened visitors at a checkpoint near his house, while other officers patrolled an adjoining park, watching by floodlight for intruders.
His security seemingly ensured, Mr. Saeed has over the past year addressed large public meetings and appeared on prime-time television, and is now even giving interviews to Western news media outlets he had previously eschewed.
He says that he wants to correct “misperceptions.” During an interview with The New York Times at his home last week, Mr. Saeed insisted that his name had been cleared by the Pakistani courts. “Why does the United States not respect our judicial system?” he asked.
Still, he says he has nothing against Americans, and warmly described a visit he made to the United States in 1994, during which he spoke at Islamic centers in Houston, Chicago and Boston. “At that time, I liked it,” he said with a wry smile...
I am in Birmingham, England's second city (so they claim) for a few days. So this evening we decided to look in and observe the Birmingham section of the national demo called to protest President Trump's policy regarding immigration for seven Muslim countries.
It was called at short notice for outside the Town Hall. I read the exact time on one of the university websites. I would say that the majority of demonstrators were students, very many young women, mostly idealistic, a little naive but well meaning. There were the usual sprinkling of wooly hatted older people, some families, the usual suspects from the Trades unions and Socialist Worker. There is something pulling their strings from the rear but it was in hiding tonight. The Muslims were groups of young women of the smiling hijab sort; there were no obvious organised groups that I saw from Birmingham's many mosques.
These are the self proclaimed badest Trots in the West Midlands
Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here. According to local newspaper the Express and Star the speakers were Labour Councillors.
Photographs EWeatherwax and her husband England January 2017
Boycotting Historians Denounce Blacklists Just as They Call for Blacklisting Israeli Academics
By Richard L. Cravatts, PhD
American Historical Association founders
Of the many examples of the shameful degradation of values in academia, few are more intellectually grotesque than academic boycotts, which, in their present form, are almost exclusively targeted at Israeli scholars and institutions. In the latest example, at their January annual meeting the American Historical Association (AHA) debated among their members two petitions: the first, which was ultimately rejected by the AHA’s Council, urged the AHA to review investigate “credible charges of violations of academic freedom in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories,” whether by “constituting a fact-finding committee, authorizing a delegation or issuing an investigative report.”
The second petition recommended that the AHA issue a statement, which it did, affirming “the rights of students, faculty and other historians to speak freely and to engage in nonviolent political action expressing diverse perspectives on historical or contemporary issues.” Putting aside the absurdly paranoid notion that any anti-Israel activism is suppressed or otherwise limited on campuses anywhere, what actually terrified these intellectual hypocrites, it seemed, was the possibility that, once they had publicly announced their enmity for Israel, Zionism, and Jewish affirmation, they would be held accountable for their toxic views, that they would be named for what they are: anti-Israel activists whose rabid ideology can, and should, be made transparent, exposed, and understood.
The AHA statement made this hypocrisy clear when it meretriciously stated that, “We condemn all efforts to intimidate those expressing their views. Specifically, we condemn in the strongest terms the creation, maintenance and dissemination of blacklists and watch lists —through media (social and otherwise)—which identify specific individuals in ways that could lead to harassment and intimidation.”
The so-called “blacklists” and “watch lists” referenced in the statement are such databases as Canary Mission (mentioned specifically), Discover the Networks, Campus Watch, the AMCHA Initiative, and other similar organizations, all of which have as their intention to provide students, faculty, and others with information on the ideology, scholarship, speeches, and writing of radical professors and students. These are individuals (and groups) who have very public records of pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel activism and whose words and behavior have been catalogued so that the politicization of scholarship can be exposed and students can avoid courses taught by professors with a predetermined and evident bias against Israel.
The craven AHA members are not the first representatives of the professoriate to recoil in terror at the thought of being included in one of these databases, even though they are perfectly willing, if not eager, to signal their virtue in the first place by publicly expressing their obsessive disdain for the Jewish state. In 2014, for instance, 40 professors of Jewish studies published a denunciation of a study that named professors who had been identified as expressing “anti-Israel bias, or possibly even antisemitic [sic] rhetoric.”
While the 40 academic “heavyweights” claimed they, of course, rejected anti-Semitism totally as part of teaching, they were equally repelled by the tactics and possible negative effects of the report, produced by the AMCHA Initiative, a comprehensive review of the attitudes about Israel of some 200 professors who signed an online petition during the last Gaza incursion that called for an academic boycott against Israeli scholars—academics the petitioners claimed were complicit in the “latest humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s . . . military assault on the Gaza Strip,” just as the AHA members alleged that because Palestinians were being denied access to education as a result of Israeli policy, Israeli academics deserved to be collectively shunned.
Calling “the actions of AMCHA deplorable,” the indignant professors were insulted by the organization’s “technique of monitoring lectures, symposia and conferences,” something which, they believed, “strains the basic principle of academic freedom on which the American university is built.” That was a rather breathtaking assertion by academics, just as it was when the AHA members repeated the same idea; namely, that it is contrary to the core mission of higher education that ideas publicly expressed by professors should be examined and judged, and that by even applying some standards of objectivity on a body of teaching by a particular professor “AMCHA’s approach closes off all but the most narrow intellectual directions.”
Specifically, reports like the AMCHA product clearly indicate which professors have demonstrated that they bring to their teaching a clear bias against the Jewish state; in fact, they have gone even further with that enmity by mobilizing as part of the global boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement to turn Israeli academics in intellectual pariahs by excluding them from the intellectual marketplace of ideas.
Can anyone believe that had the AMCHA Initiative or other organizations issued a report that revealed the existence of endemic racism, or homophobia, or sexism, or Islamophobia in university coursework, and had warned students who might be negatively impacted to steer clear of courses taught by those offending professors, that these same 40 feckless professors or the AHA’s historians would have denounced such reports being “McCarthyesque” or somehow undermining the civility of higher education by actually holding academics responsible for some of the intellectually deficient or corrupt ideologies to which they adhere and which they are more than happy to foist on others—including, of course, their students.
Why should a professor’s political attitudes not be known to students, especially, as in these cases, when those anti-Israel attitudes are extremely germane to their area of teaching, namely Middle East studies and history? None of the mentioned organizations furtively investigated the private lives of the 200 professors, or historians, or campus radicals, nor did they hack into emails accounts, or take testimony from anonymous sources, or delve through association memberships, reading habits, or private writings without the individuals’ knowledge or consent. They were not spied upon nor their courses videotaped furtively by students.
The findings were based on the public utterances, published works, and social media posts of professors and students, behavior and speech they apparently had no problem with making public and for which they were not hesitant, at least initially, to take responsibility. In fact, as often happens when anti-Israel academics are called upon to defend their libels and intellectual assaults against the Jewish state, they wish to freely pontificate on the many perceived defects of Israel but do not like to be inconvenienced by being challenged on those often biased, and intellectually dishonest, views by others with opposing viewpoints.
More hypocritically, these morally self-righteous historians denounced their placement on so-called blacklists but wished to do the very same thing to Israeli scholars by proposing to essentially blacklist an entire nation’s professoriate for the actions of that country’s government—over which, of course, academics, even if they actually agree with those policies, have little or no influence. And the extent of their blacklist is more onerous and less intellectually honest, since they are blacklisting an entire group of academics, irrespective of ideology, without any distinction between those who might share their views and those who hold views that are ideologically opposed to theirs. In its indiscriminate nature, an academic boycott is morally perverse, since, unlike the efforts of Campus Watch, the AMCHA Initiative, Discover the Networks, or Canary Mission (which deal with specific individuals and their publicly professed and articulated beliefs), an academic boycott against a whole nation of scholars is so random and untargeted that it has to be more about anti-Jewish bigotry than a sincere effort to effect productive change and move the Israelis and Palestinians towards peace.
There is no surprise that an academic association like the AHA would call for a boycott against only one country—Israel—precisely because a large number of its ranks are evidently steeped in a world view defined by post-colonial, anti-American, anti-Israel thinking, and dedicated to the elevation of identity politics and a cult of victimhood. That they profess to hold high-minded, well-intentioned motives, and speak with such rectitude, does not excuse the fact that their efforts are in the end a betrayal of what the study of history and the university have, and should, stand for—the free exchange of ideas, even ones bad, without political or ideological litmus tests.
“People we used to think of as harmless drudges pursuing mouldy futilities,” observed the wry Edward Alexander, professor emeritus at the University of Washington, in speaking about a professoriate that has lost its intellectual compass, “are now revealing to us the explosive power of boredom, a power that may well frighten us.”
Richard L. Cravatts, PhD, President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews.
A new sheriff arrived in town with the appointment of Nikki Haley, former Governor of South Carolina, as US Ambassador to the United Nations. In her first speech, she indicated the disproportionate contribution by the United States, 22 % of the UN budget and 28% of UN peacekeeping operations, to the world organization. The UN budget should be subject "strategic cutting," and sometimes withholding of dues.
In picturesque language, Haley spoke of the need for a strong US role at the UN. She had already made clear during her testimony on December 25, 2016, to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the UN had been more consistent and more outrageous in its bias against Israel, the close ally of the US, than regarding any other country.
Implicitly, she criticized the policy of President Barack Obama regarding Israel when the US abstained on the UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016 that condemned Israeli action on settlements and thus allowed the Resolution to be passed. According to President Donald Trump his administration will never abstain when the UN proposes any action that comes into direct conflict with the interests and values of the U.S., or encourages a boycott of Israel.
Political interests and international law are closely intertwined in matters affecting Israel. Condemnations of Israel almost always quote international documents to support political objectives. Ambassador Haley ought now, following a French Appeals Court (the Third Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Versailles) decision on March 22, 2013, to call into question the use of treaties and international conventions by the United Nations, the "international community" in general, and Palestinian-oriented organizations, in order to propose and pass resolutions condemning Israeli "occupation" of Palestinian territory as well as to challenge the legitimacy of the State of Israel.
That Versailles decision follows a number of previous complicated legal, largely technical, proceedings, in French courts. The legal dispute began in October 2007 when the AFPS (Association France-Palestine Solidarite) joined by the Palestinian Authority (PA) filed a lawsuit against two French companies, Alstom, the French multinational company in rail transport, and Veolia Transport, in the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Nanterre, France.
The charge concerned the two companies that had signed a contract in July 2005 to build 37 passenger coaches and more than 50 locomotives and to operate a light rail project that crosses Jerusalem to the east side of the city and the disputed territories, an area under Israeli administration since 1967.
The Palestinians argued that the project should be cancelled because it violated international law since the Israeli presence in any area of the West Bank, such as east Jerusalem, was illegal. They argued that the French companies were aiding Israel's occupation and commission of war crimes, and were violating international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention of August 1949, and parts of the French Civil Code.
The Nanterre Tribunal in April 2009 ruled, and was upheld by an Appeals Court, that it had jurisdiction to hear the case, but it held the PLO could not be a co-plaintiff. The International Court of Justice has indicated that the Conventions only contain obligations for states, and individuals have no rights to claim the benefit of those obligations.
After examining the texts of international law and treaties to rule on the legality of the rail construction, the Tribunal on May 30, 2011 rejected the Palestinian claim that the contract to build the project should be cancelled. The AFPS and the PLO, that were ordered to pay costs, appealed the decision.
Work on the light rail through Jerusalem was completed in August 2011. The PLO then filed a complaint in the High Court , the Tribunal in Versailles, against the two French companies arguing that the construction was illegal because international organizations, the UN, the European Union, and others, considered that the Israeli presence in areas of the light rail, "illegally occupied Palestinian territories,” was illegal. The Tribunal decided that construction of the tramway did not constitute a beach of human rights or humanitarian law. The AFPS and PLO appealed this ruling.
The Versailles Court of Appeals on March 22, 2013 ruled the suit was not admissible on the grounds that the international agreements in question were obligations between states, and not private companies. The court ordered AFPS and the PLO to pay 30,000 euros to each of the companies for their expenses during the lawsuit.
The PLO claimed that the construction of the light rail system was illegal because international bodies had considered that Israel illegally occupies Palestinian territories. The Court however decided that the building of the light rail in Jerusalem was legal.
However, the court did not address the question of the legality of the Israeli occupation or the Israeli settlements, or allegations of violations of international humanitarian law. But it did recognize that there was nothing illegal about Israel as the occupier governing the territory, nor was Israel prohibited from constructing and operating the light rail.
Palestinians and other critics of Israel presence in the West Bank always quote Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva convention: “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” Instead the Court heeded Article 43 of the Fourth Hague Conventions that stated that an occupier “shall take all measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.
The Versailles Court rejected the various Palestinian arguments. Israel had not violated the 1907 Fourth Hague Conventions. The light rail construction had not resulted in the deportation of the Palestinian population nor the destruction of Palestinian buildings and homes. Israel had not violated the law relating to the protection of cultural property.
The Court held that Israel was entitled to ensure peace and order in the region and the light rail helped do this. The occupying power can use all activities generally exercised by state authorities. The political demands of the PLO do not override the well-being of the inhabitants of the area. The law cannot be based solely on the PLO’s assessment of a political or social situation.
The decision of the Versailles Appeals Court has no direct affect on international law but it is and ought to be considered a guide to the objective, unbiased, discussion of the disputed territories and of the behavior and role of Israel. Certainly Ambassador Haley should heed the verdict, and make plain at the UN at least two points. One is that a corporation or organization cannot be faulted for participating in an Israeli project that partly takes part in the disputed territory, and that boycotts are unjustified. The other point is that the Geneva and Hague conventions so often quoted are often misused and are not an excuse for the Palestinians to avoid entering into peaceful negotiations.
Dozens of Syrian refugees already living in the Unites States may have ties to terrorism and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is downplaying it, claiming federal agents missed “possible derogatory information” about the immigrants due to “a lapse in vetting.” Among those who slipped through the cracks is a man who failed a polygraph test after applying to work at a U.S. military installation and another who communicated with an Islamic State leader.
Information about this scandalous security lapse comes from federal agents with firsthand knowledge of the situation. They spoke to a mainstream newspaper on condition of anonymity, as many Judicial Watch sources who expose delicate information do, out of fear. This is the type of case the government works hard to keep quiet and consequences could be serious for those who blow the whistle. The news article reveals that federal agents are now “reinvestigating the backgrounds” of the dozens of Syrian refugees because somehow DHS discovered that the lapse in vetting allowed refugees with “potentially negative information in their files to enter the country.” The newspaper attributes the information to “U.S law enforcement officials” who were not authorized to discuss the matter.
Coincidentally, on the day this story broke a national newswire service reported that President Donald Trump drafted an executive order to stop accepting Syrian refugees. The president also plans to suspend issuing visas for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries—Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Under President Barrack Obama’s lax immigration policies, large numbers of terrorists from some of these nations entered the U.S., including members of ISIS and other radical Islamic groups. They include individuals who have engaged in or attempted to engage in acts of terrorism, conspired or attempted to conspire to provide material support to a terrorist organization or engaged in criminal conduct inspired by terrorist ideology. Some have been convicted and sentenced in American courts.
Additionally, the Obama administration was very generous in granting citizens of Muslim nations special amnesty protections and residency benefits in the U.S. During a five-year period, Obama’s DHS issued around 680,000 green cards to foreigners from Muslim countries, according to the agency’s figures. Somalia, Yemen, Syria and Libya were among the nations. In 2015 Judicial Watch reported on a special “humanitarian” amnesty program offered to illegal aliens from Yemen, an Islamic Middle Eastern country well known as an Al Qaeda breeding ground. Yemen is the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and the State Department has revealed that AQAP militants carried out hundreds of attacks including suicide bombers, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations.
Circling back to Syrian refugees, as Obama let thousands settle in the U.S. his own intelligence and immigration officials admitted that individuals with ties to terrorist groups used the program to try to infiltrate the country and that there is no way to properly screen them. In 2015 the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) confirmed that individuals with ties to terrorist groups in Syria tried to gain entry to the U.S. through the refugee program and that the program is “vulnerable to exploitation from extremist groups seeking to send operatives to the West.” Before that the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Matthew Emrich, admitted during a congressional hearing that there’s no way to adequately screen Syrian refugees because the Syrian government doesn’t have an intelligence database to run checks against. Additionally, FBI Assistant Director Michael Steinbach conceded that the U.S. government has no system to properly screen Syrian refugees.
Importance of Trump’s Executive Order might not be fully understood for generations
by Brian of London
Separating ourselves from the hysteria over Trump’s Executive Order on immigration, this is the crucial paragraph if you want to understand what Trump’s Administration is doing (full text of the statement here). At the end of this article I’ll explain it line by line.
In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles. The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law. In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
As we find ourselves at the end of the first week of the Trump era, we see this weekend’s screaming press outrage over Trump’s Executive Order and the complete shock that he’s enacting one of the core planks of his campaign. For some reason people have been conditioned to believe that promises made by politicians during election campaigns will all be broken.
There’s only one thing that’s happened this weekend which anyone should be mildly concerned about; it has to do with reports of Green Card holders having issues at airports. It’s reasonably clear from the text of the order that this shouldn’t be happening; either the reports are false or rogue elements in the Immigration Service are deliberately being overzealous to cause public issues. David French at National Review has a very good article on the hysterical overreaction:
However, there are reports that the ban is being applied even to green-card holders. This is madness. The plain language of the order doesn’t apply to legal permanent residents of the U.S., and green-card holders have been through round after round of vetting and security checks. The administration should intervene, immediately, to stop misapplication. If, however, the Trump administration continues to apply the order to legal permanent residents, it should indeed be condemned.
The press have gone into a meltdown over the immediate clamping down on movements of people from seven specific countries. Interestingly, the only country mentioned by name in the order is Syria. Seth Frantzman also noticed this and dug a millimetre deeper than the entire rest of the press:
Go back and read it again. Do a “ctrl-f” to find “Iraq”. Where is “Iraq” in the order. It’s not there. Only Syria is there. So where are the seven nations? Where is the “Muslim ban”? It turns out this was a form of fake news, or alternative facts. Trump didn’t select seven “Muslim-majority” countries. US President Barack Obama’s administration selected these seven Muslim-majority countries.
The Department of Homeland Security targeted these seven countries over the last few years as countries of concern. In February 2016, “the Department of Homeland Security today announced that it is continuing its implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 with the addition of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries.” It noted “the three additional countries designated today join Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria as countries subject to restrictions for Visa Waiver Program travel for certain individuals.” [read the rest]
Central to what the press and the usual grievance mongers (CAIR, ACLU, ADL and the usual alphabet soup of far left groups) are doing is to draw a false analogy between refugees from the Middle East today and Jews who tried to flee the genocide of the Nazis. Signing the order on International Holocaust Memorial day (and making a mistake by not specifically mentioning Jews) ensured that the press would jump on this bandwagon. This is done with carefully constructed (sometimes faked) photographs, especially of children. Dead child on a beach and dazed child in a hospital: I don’t even need to include photos, these are etched into your heads.
So I was just wondering if I could ask something of all those people quick to claim that Syrian refugees are the new 1930’s Jews.
UNHCR persons of concern refugee numberFor those Jews who managed to escape Nazi Germany, where were the refugee camps, like the ones in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan today hosting 4,088,099 registered refugees (6th Sept). Because I’ve never heard anyone mention them. I’m sure a lot of Jews must have been saved in those camps.
As far as I know, in 1939 there were precisely zero Jewish countries and zero safe and secure refugee camps. I suspect if there had been a Jewish country or even a refugee camp it would have taken in some refugees. Worse: the major nations of the world, especially Britain, blocked Jews from reaching safety and sent them back to be murdered by Hitler.
Interestingly, the UNHCR “Persons of concern” website where I got my numbers from doesn’t seem to be working right now, so I can’t check for new numbers. The main number still stands: there were no refugee camps for Jews in 1939 and there are today many millions of Muslim refugees in (relatively) safe camps across the Middle East.
What has changed since I wrote that post is the seething societal problems currently ripping apart Europe. Every European nation that has accepted refugees is going through huge internal upheavals. I scarcely need to enumerate the problems, ranging from mass groping all the way up to huge mass casualty terror attacks in Nice, Berlin, Paris and elsewhere. Additionally, also since I wrote about the false equivalence, the UK voted to leave Europe and controlling immigration was one of the big factors in that.
But don’t tell CNN’s chief national security correspondent, who last night tweeted this:
False. False. False. Religious considerations are by law part of refugee policy. And it is entirely reasonable to give preference (though not exclusivity) to members of minority religions. Finally, you can read the entire executive order from start to finish, reread it, then read it again, and you will not find a Muslim ban. It’s not there. Nowhere. At its most draconian, it temporarily halts entry from jihadist regions. In other words, Trump’s executive order is a dramatic climb-down from his worst campaign rhetoric.
So I’ll come back to the very first paragraph I showed you. That is the one that indicates what this new administration is actually thinking. And I believe it indicates that they know exactly what they’re doing. This isn’t something they put together in a week; this is evidence of their entire thinking on Islam and the defence of the west.
They’re going to treat Islam as a hostile political ideology. That is what has been needed for decades. It is the reversal of the “Islam is a religion of peace” doctrine set in place by Bush on September 17, 2001.
In order to protect Americans, the United States must ensure that those admitted to this country do not bear hostile attitudes toward it and its founding principles.
That statement should, quite rightly, strike terror into the hearts of anyone looking to promote Islamic law above the United States’ existing constitution. That is made even more explicit with the next sentence:
The United States cannot, and should not, admit those who do not support the Constitution, or those who would place violent ideologies over American law.
This would apply to a communist overthrow of the United States (I guess), but the only real threat on the global stage today is the ideology of Islamic supremacy.
In addition, the United States should not admit those who engage in acts of bigotry or hatred (including “honor” killings, other forms of violence against women, or the persecution of those who practice religions different from their own) or those who would oppress Americans of any race, gender, or sexual orientation.
If you read that paragraph and immediately think #MuslimBan, then you’re bringing your own impressions of Islam. The text doesn’t mention Islam, but we all know that the leading ideology that sanctions bigotry, hatred, violence against women, and oppression is not Buddhism.
This section, again without mentioning Islam or Muslims, arrives at the heart of the problem. Islamic values always lead to intolerance. Islam’s guiding texts are all fundamentally devoted to separating the world between believers and non-believers. All of our liberal freedoms and our equality stem from a Judeo-Christian belief that all men are created in the image of God and are equal before equitable laws. That is not at the heart of Islam.
Reaffirming the civilizing and historical role of the Islamic Ummah which God made the best nation that has given mankind a universal and well-balanced civilization in which harmony is established between this life and the hereafter and knowledge is combined with faith; and the role that this Ummah should play to guide a humanity confused by competing trends and ideologies and to provide solutions to the chronic problems of this materialistic civilization.
The idea that God made Islam the best nation is not a statement of equality. It is a supremacist statement. The Constitution of the United States doesn’t and obviously shouldn’t begin with “God made White America the Best Nation”. Every Islamic nation considers Islam to be superior to any other ideology.
That is what we are dealing with: 56 nation states and millions of indoctrinated followers who are religiously compelled (with a depth of fervour the godless left can no longer comprehend) bound to profess the supremacy of their civilisation, whilst anyone with open eyes knows the United States Constitution is one of the greatest acts of foundational liberal freedom in history.
America is an astonishing social experiment. If it continues to open its borders, it will be overrun like Europe by those who desire its destruction, and could quite literally sink back into darkness. Whilst being so harshly condemned by those whose freedoms they are safeguarding so determinedly, Trump’s team, in its first week, has put out a document the importance of which might not be fully understood for generations.
A witness, who asked to remain anonymous, told CBC’s French-language service Radio-Canada that two masked individuals entered the mosque.
“It seemed to me that they had a Quebecois accent. They started to fire, and as they shot they yelled, ‘Allahu akbar!’ The bullets hit people that were praying. People who were praying lost their lives. A bullet passed right over my head,” said the witness.
Nick O'Malley in writing about Australia's political party, One Nation, mentions our contribution to its platform, i.e., Islam is not a religion, in the Sidney Morning Herald.
Pauline Hanson and Steve Dickson of One Nation
...This week [One Nation leader Pauline] Hanson announced she was appointing Steve Dickson to be One Nation's leader in Queensland This was a substantial coup. Dickson is not only a sitting MP for the Liberal National Party, but a former state minister. He intends to immediately begin introducing One Nation legislation to Queensland Parliament.
Such is the strength of the resurgent party, which received 20 per cent of the senate vote at some Queensland booths during the federal election, that it could secure balance of power at the coming state election.
"It is very humbling. I have never been the leader of a political party before … and I am very excited about it," Dickson told media at a press conference with Hanson.
Hanson said she would "drain the Billabong".
Addressing the issues, he said he wanted to get on with an 80-year-old plan to drought-proof the state known as the Bradfield scheme.
And he had this to say about Islam: "We welcome anybody from all over the world to come to Australia … If you want to come here and have two or three wives, if you want to treat women like dogs, if you want to mutilate little girls, there are many countries you can do that but none of them are called Australia.
"We are not going to take a backwards step, this is a positive campaign with positive policies."
Dickson has fallen into line with the policies of his new party.
In launching both One Nation's Queensland and Western Australian campaigns, Hanson focussed on a plan to ban the wearing of burqas.
"We're going to lead the way in Queensland, so no drivers' licenses wearing the burqa or anything like that," she told Sky News, though at present Australian law does not permit women to have drivers' licence photographs taken while wearing the burqa.
The party's website details a slew of policies targeted at Islam or Muslims, ranging from the banning of the construction of new mosques to the video surveillance of existing ones to Trump's own suspension of immigration from Muslim countries.
But it is the argument made in Hanson's policy statement that Islam is not a religion that Dorling says reveals much about how right-wing ideas are being transferred from the American right to the Australian.
"Islam sees itself as a theocracy, not a democracy. Islam does not believe in democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press or freedom of assembly," reads the policy document in part.
"It does not separate religion and politics. Many believe that it is solely a religion, but the reality is that it is much more, for it has a political agenda that goes far outside the realm of religion. Islam regulates the Muslim's social and domestic life, their legal system and politics – their total life. Its religious aspect is fraud; it is rather a totalitarian political system, including legal, economic, social and military components, masquerading as a religion."
Dorling notes that though the idea that Islam is not a religion might be a "radically new proposition within Australian public life", it is an idea with a history among right-wing evangelical Christians in the US, where anti-Islamic sentiment rose after the September 11 attacks.
"As early as June 2007 the conservative American Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson told his national radio audience that 'we have to recognise that Islam is not a religion. It is a worldwide political movement meant on domination of the world'," Dorling writes in the Australia Institute paper.
"In April 2008 he broadcast that 'I want to say it again, and again, and again: Islam is not a religion, it is a political system meant on – bent on world domination, not a religion. It masquerades as a religion, but the religion covers a worldwide attempt to exercise power and to subjugate the world to their way of thinking'."
This line of reasoning can be found discussed Breitbart, the online news outlet that helped foster the alt-right movement, as the new white nationalist movement in America has been called. Breitbart's former chief executive is Steve Bannon, who now serves as the Trump's senior counsellor, having helped help run his election campaign and write his "America First" inauguration speech.
Dorling traces the intellectual history of the argument to back further to virulently anti-Islamic scholars and activists.
One is Iranian-born Canadian ex-Muslim activist Ali Sina, who argues that Islam is not a religion but rather "an unreformable, violent, militant political cult".
Sina has offered $50,000 to anyone who can disprove his charge that the prophet Muhammad was "a narcissist, a misogynist, a rapist, a paedophile, a lecher, a torturer, a mass murderer, a cult leader, an assassin, a terrorist, a madman and a looter".
Dorling quotes Sina's website: "I find the word 'Muslim' very derogatory and insulting. It is synonymous to stupid, barbarian, thug, arrogant, brain dead, zombie, hooligan, goon, shameless, savage and many other ignoble things. I don't know whether this most disgusting word elicits the same meanings in you or not. So when I want to show my despise [sic] of someone I call him 'Muslim'. But because Muslims are stupid, they don't know all these things and they are proud of this name. This is a win/win situation because I insult them and they are happy and thank me for it. Isn't that smart?"
Sina's writing has been quoted by Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, who travelled to Australia last year to help launch the Australian anti-Islam party Australian Liberty Alliance.
Dorling traces similar ideas to Rebecca Bynum, publisher and managing editor of the British far-right New English Reviewand an otherwise obscure American former professor of engineering, Bill French, who writes under the name Bill Warner.
Kind of funny that Warner and I are portrayed as agreeing, though our fundamental approach to Islam differs. Warner says the religious aspects of Islam are irrelevant. I tackle Islam as a religion and argue that by theological comparison to other world religions and taking into account what we expect a religion to do for society, Islam should not be classified as a religion at all. Oh, and NER is neither far-right nor British.
Warner has published "statistical analyses" of the Koran and other Islamic texts to argue that Islam is "political, not religious. Islam is a political ideology."
The contention that one of the world's three great Abrahamic religions is not in fact a religion serves a specific purpose in the American context. It allows religious critics of Islam, such as the evangelical right, to argue that it should be stripped of constitutional protection extended to religious thought and expression in the US bill of rights.
Similarly in Australia, he writes: "One Nation seeks to deny Islam's status as a religion and thus deny Australian Muslims constitutional protection for their human rights of freedom of religion and belief."
The paper notes that when asked how the party established its position that Australia was at risk of being "swamped by Muslims", One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts told Channel 10's The Project: "We've got an adviser who goes into all of that called Frank Salter."
Salter is an Australian academic who undertook post-doctoral research at the former Max Planck Institute for Behavioral Physiology in Germany. He contends that discrimination against ethnic minorities is an "inborn response" all humans have, Dorling writes.
"In his view monocultural societies are inherently 'fitter' than multicultural ones, and that ethnic diversity leads to corruption, weak public services and a decline in government institutions. South Africa's former apartheid regime is described as an example of 'aggressive social control' used to preserve the 'fitness' of society."
Both Salter and Hanson declined to be interviewed for this story.
Speaking with Fairfax Media, Dorling said the political purpose of One Nation's adoption of its stance on Islam was simple. Hanson, he said, launched her career by attacking Asians and Indigenous Australians. She is renewing her support by harnessing an international fear of terrorism linked to Islamic extremists.
But, says Dorling, the significance of the development is broader.
He notes that when One Nation first arose in Australia, Parliament House was not linked to the internet, Hanson had no political experience or brand and her ideas were not buoyed by an international movement.
All of that has changed, says Dorling, and today's One Nation is now an effective Australian portal to the ideas of a far-right that is surging in Europe and North America.
"The Trump administration is going to present [One Nation] with a slew of ideas, and the justification of applying the ideas and policies of the emerging Australian alt-right."
Donald Trump will be popular, and Canada will adapt
by Conrad Black
Not since the most tumultuous days of Vietnam and Watergate have American political people and events been so prevalent in the Canadian media. The election, formation, and entry into office of the Trump administration have provided much substantive news. But there has also been a good deal of the usual Canadian media’s condescensions to conservative American politicians and obsequious whitewashing of American liberal office-holders and seekers. The world fears strong American leaders, except when it needs them for their own protection.
Trump has capitalized brilliantly, before and since the election, on the fact that about two thirds of Americans don’t trust the media, and he has used social media and his powerful supporters in the talk-radio industry to counter, confront and overwhelm the sniggering, gibbering claque of the leftist Washington-New York-Los Angeles media and entertainment communities. The American media were part of the problem in not seriously highlighting the passive acceptance of the invasion of the country by 12 million unskilled alien foreigners and the toleration of decades of incompetence in public debt and the international balance of payments.
Canadian governments have not committed errors on this scale and the Canadian media have not been as sleepy and partisan as the Americans; as in most things, we have pursued a middle course. But the foreign media generally take their feed from their American analogues, and don’t realize that they are part of the opposition in the U.S., and have suffered a more severe defeat than the Democrats and the traditional Republicans.
The Canadian media have joined quite wholeheartedly in the pre-electoral chorus of abuse of Donald Trump, and as late as last week the CBC National News hauled in the 20 years-retired Pauline Neville-Jones, once of the British Foreign Office, to attest to the likely credibility of the source of the obscenely frivolous Golden Shower allegations (that Donald Trump had once commandeered a group-urination by prostitutes on a bed once slept in by the Obamas in a Moscow hotel). This scatological canard had drifted for months around the American media, and not even that rutting mink-farm of never-Trumpery would touch it until the scurrilous left-wing blog BuzzFeed picked it up and CNN then claimed it as a scoop that was the fruit of their immense journalistic enterprise. The CBC should have known better than to touch such rubbish, since all sources and supposed Russian contacts of the-then president-elect were anonymous. It was aberrant for the Canadian media to be so risqué, and so irresponsible.
More interesting than continuing lapses into Trump-alarmism on what used to be the character issue — all the bunk and hype about Trump being a sexist and racist and possibly a madman — which has evaporated as he forms his administration and starts to govern, is the awakening recognition of the impact of his presidency on Canada. First is the contrast between the energy with which he is moving to enact his rather radical program and the laid-back pace of the Trudeau government throughout its honeymoon of about a year.
The process of installing Trump’s cabinet members, which requires approval by the Senate, is being dragged out, but cannot be stopped in the teeth of the Republican majority, as he has named an Environment Protection Agency director who wants to dismantle the agency, apart from combatting pollution and promoting painless conservation; an Education secretary who wants to dispense with teachers’ unions, a Labor secretary who wants to protect the workers but decertify the unions, and an Energy secretary who wants to maximize oil and gas production and end the balance of payments deficit. Trump stormed to his narrow victory on a populist pitch focused on dealing with illegal immigration and disadvantageous trade agreements. In his first week he announced that the U.S would not join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and wished to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement, and ordered the beginning of the construction of a wall to assure the impermeability of the southwestern border, something that his numerous critics claimed was impossible. (It was never clear why they thought this — the Chinese Great Wall is 4,000 miles long and was built between the 3rd Century BC and the 17th Century. The concept is not challenging.)
At the same time, he has pitched straight to the traditional conservative and independent middle of the country by announcing the beginnings of health-care reform and nominating department heads who will so radically move to reverse the decline in public education, eliminate the importation of energy, something every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has advocated unsuccessfully, reduce taxes for middle and small income-earners and corporations, end the fiscal free lunch for Wall Street, and reform the manure-heap of campaign financing (as the only candidate in modern times who paid for his own campaign for his party’s nomination). He has a mandate to do all this and has the congressional majorities to put it through and has come out of the gate like a fire-engine. While it was greeted with hilarity or indifference at first, this whole plan of using a populist message to win the Republican primaries, mixing it with a conservative message to win the election, and moving to implement both pieces of his program at once at maximum speed, has been thought out carefully and is being executed with consummate skill.
The circumstances in which the Justin Trudeau government was elected and took office are as different as Canadian politics and sociology are from American. (It is a little-recognized fact that there isn’t much in common between the two countries except about half of their geography and the fact that the majority in both countries speak English.) At the start of the last Canadian election, Liberals were the third party for the first time in history. The polls had a post-dissolution flirtation with the NDP, but that party lost ground to the unambiguous federalists and separatists in Quebec, where it had tried to straddle, and took a node-dive on side-issues of commendable principle. The nine-year Harper government took the lead in the polls, but as fatigue with the incumbents grew, the failure to portray Trudeau as a pretty-faced air-head with a famous name but no capacity to lead floundered. The government was reduced to demagogy about preventing the arrival of “400,000 refugees from Syria” and Muslim female headgear at a couple of citizenship ceremonies, and the torch was fumbled on to the Liberals.
The great achievement of the incoming government was to prove that Justin Trudeau is a plausible prime minister, and he is. But there hasn’t been a very well-defined program. The Liberals have played a fairly artful game of making placatory noises to the environmental and First Nations militants without doing anything completely foolhardy where the militants would lead us into insane measures. But now the Prime Minister is reduced to saying that he was misunderstood when he spoke of “phasing out the oil sands,” and is being sand-bagged in the press when questioned about the unspeakable mismanagement of the energy sector, especially electricity, in Ontario by the provincial Liberals, the more astute of whom have made the life-saving jump to Ottawa.
Justin Trudeau is only the third Liberal leader after John Turner and Paul Martin not to enjoy a stacked deck of massive Liberal support in Quebec, since Edward Blake (who handed over to Wilfrid Laurier in 1887). The Liberals can’t win four out of five elections, as they did from 1921 to 2006 (18 out of 25 in fact, but 15 full terms to four for the Conservatives), all based on a strangle-hold on Quebec that Brian Mulroney ended, or a fragmented opposition that Stephen Harper ended. Trudeau’s re-election is not assured, though he should have an edge if the Conservatives revert to a unilingual leader whom 20 to 25 per cent of the people of the other official language group have to listen to through an interpreter. There will be plenty of time to assess the Conservative leadership race, but we now have the NDP Alberta premier Rachel Notley cheering President Trump’s revival of the Keystone pipeline, and a good deal of overdue Liberal back-pedaling and lane-changing on carbon use and trade.
There is nothing insane about the Trump program and it will be popular, and the administration is not a bit anti-Canadian; presumably, the customary adjustments to sea changes in Washington will be made. Where Trudeau had a honeymoon and didn’t use it, Donald emerged from so acrimonious and revolutionary a campaign that there is no honeymoon — it will come and the skirmishing will end when his program is enacted and seems to work.
Meanwhile, Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”), Samuel L. Jackson, Lena Dunham (“Girls”), Neve Campbell (“House of Cards”), Natasha Lyonne (“Orange is the New Black”), Cher, Miley Cyrus, Barbra Streisand, Chelsea Handler, Jon Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Keegan-Michael Key, George Lopez, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the reprobate posturer Al Sharpton, are among those Americans who promised to emigrate if Trump were elected, and most promised to come to Canada. Apart from Sharpton, it would be a more up-market intake than the anti-Vietnam War fugitives of 50 years ago, and they would add to our talent pool, but they seem not to be moving.
He’s one of a small army of I’m-A-Muslim-Ask-Me-Anything propagandists, moving about our land, attracting small groups of onlookers, and then posting his exchanges with them, which always end with a hug from a newly-enlightened non-Muslim, on YouTube. Here’s one treacly example.
The questions posed are usually of the most anodyne and simple-minded sort, but even these sometimes require a little prefabricated taqiyya, delivered in the most deeply sincere way. In order to make it easier for those who’d like to upset the applecart of these ambulatory propagandists, I’ve made a list of “anythings” that you might want to ask, should you run across one of these Ask-Me-Anything Muslims. Of course, there is always the possibility that once your interlocutor realizes that you actually know something about Islam, and taqiyya is out of the question, he might accuse you of being an “Islamophobe” not interested in “real dialogue,” and attempt to get those onlookers to take his side against you, the troublemaker. You have to be ready with sweetness-and-light, affecting an innocent goshdarnit I-just-want-to-know attitude, which may help, experience suggests, to keep the bystanders on your side and increasingly skeptical of the Ask-Me-Anything mountebank.
You should come prepared with a few dozen questions, to which you possess the answers, with the relevant supporting passages from the Qur’an or Hadith or Sira easily retrievable from your smartphone or notecards. Even though your Muslim interlocutor sees that you are well-prepared, he can’t cut you off right away; he’s got to let you ask at least a few anythings. He may try to find excuses to end the entire Q-and-A session, or at least to stop taking your questions. But that will make him look bad, which is precisely what you want. All of a sudden, the Muslim who made such a big deal about his openness shows himself unwilling to answer perfectly reasonable questions. Your goal is to rattle him, to get him to try to cut you off in front of others, who will then realize that this business of “Ask Me Anything” stops the minute anyone raises an unappetizing aspect of Islam. You’ve spoiled his game, no matter what he does.
Whether you make use of the list below or make up your own (fun for the whole family), you can share these lists with friends eager to do exactly what you’ve been doing, by making life difficult for any Ask-Me-Anything Muslim they might run across. And of course both you, and they, should have a videographer present to capture the discombobulation of the Ask-Me-Anything Muslim, so as to post it for all the world to see on YouTube.
Here’s that Starter Kit of Ask-Me-Anything Questions:
1. What is the meaning of Jihad?
2. Why are Christians and Jews required to pay the Jizyah to Muslims?
3. Why does it say in the Qur’an that Muslims should not take Christians and Jews as friends, for they are friends only with each other?
4. It says in the Qur’an that “there is no compulsion in religion” (Qur’an 2.256). If there is no compulsion in religion, then why are people who leave Islam threatened with death?
5. Why did the Ayatollah Khomeini lower the marriageable age of girls to 9?
6. What is the surest way for a Muslim to get to Heaven?
7. Why did Muhammad attack the Jewish date farmers at the Khaybar Oasis?
8. How many wives did Muhammad have, and why was he allowed more than anyone else?
9. Did Muhammad own slaves?
10. Did Muhammad approve of slavery?
11. Why is Muhammad called the Perfect Man (“al-insan al-kamil”), and the Model of Conduct (“uswa hasana”)?
12. Exactly how many prisoners of the Banu Qurayza tribe were killed while Muhammad watched?
13. How many military expeditions did Muhammad take part in?
14. When, according to the Qur’an, is killing Infidels prohibited?
15. How did Muhammad react when he heard that Asma bint Marwan had been killed?
16. How did Muhammad react when he heard that a 120-year-old Jewish poet, Abu ‘Afak, had been killed?
17. How are non-Muslims described in the Qur’an? (see 98.6)
18. How are Muslims described in the Qur’an? (see 3.110)
19. Why do so many non-Arab Muslims take Arabic names?
20. When does the doctrine of “abrogation” (naskh) in Qur’anic interpretation apply?
21. Under what conditions can a Muslim man beat his wife?
22. What is the Muslim Heaven like?
23. When can a Muslim father punish his daughter without fear of being punished himself?
24. According to Islamic law, what must a Muslim husband do to be divorced from his wife?
25. Why is the testimony of a Muslim woman worth only half that of a Muslim man?
26. In what ways does Islam tend to favor Arabs over non-Arabs?
27. How did Islam spread all the way from the Hejaz to the Iberian peninsula?
28. Why did Muslims blow up the Bamiyan Buddhas?
29. Why did Muslims threaten to blow up a church in Bologna with a fresco depicting Muhammad?
30. Why have there been more than 30,000 terrorist attacks by Muslims since 9/11/2001?
31. Who was Kinana, and what did Muhammad order should be done with him?
32. Does Islam have a Golden Rule?
33. What is the doctrine of al-wala’ wal-bara’?
34. Why are there so many people in Pakistan named “Sayid”?
Fourteen people were arrested in Austria on Thursday as some 800 police investigating possible members of the jihadist group Islamic State carried out raids in Vienna and Graz, authorities said.
The raids however were not related to the arrest in Vienna last week of a 17-year-old suspected Islamist extremist, and investigators did not believe a terror attack was imminent, reports said.
Eight men were initially detained, including three Austrians "with a migration background", two Bosnians, a Syrian, a Bulgarian and a Macedonian, all aged between 21 and 49, a spokesman said. Four of the arrests were in Vienna and four in Graz.
A further three men and three women from the Balkans were later also arrested in Graz. Two of the women are wives of the male suspects, prosecutors said. Up to three Salafist hate preachers were among those arrested, whose ages range from 21 to 49.
Media reports said that as well as apartments, police also raided unofficial mosques, mostly in Graz. They also said the operation targeted individuals from the former Yugoslavia suspected of establishing a jihadist network in Austria.
The Kronen Zeitung tabloid reported that the raids focused on the network of a Muslim preacher from Bosnia who was jailed for 20 years last July in Graz for recruiting young fighters to the Islamic State group.
He was convicted last July for the promotion of jihad and the recruitment of more than 160 fighters for ISIS in Syria, and a bomb-making guide was found on his computer. Numerous speeches about jihad and extremism were uploaded to the internet, and the prosecutor’s office alleges he told a fellow extremist that "the blonde mouse, the Austrian, should be torn apart like a bag of crisps".
Two teens who were brainwashed to join barbaric ISIS in 2014, 17-year-old Samra Kesinovic and her schoolfriend Sabina Selimovic, 15, were the group's “pin-up poster girls” for jihad. Samra, one of the teenagers he recruited, is widely believed to have been killed by ISIS. She reportedly tried to escape several times after being passed around as a sex slave, a former prisoner claimed.
No tears, no fears, today or tomorrow. It was pleasing irony that British Prime Minister Theresa May on January 26, 2017, speaking in the city where the American colonies declared their independence from the mother country, heralded the opportunity to "renew the Special Relationship" between Britain and the United States in this new age. That renewed relationship, she argued, if enthusiasically overstated, can lead the world toward the promise of freedom and prosperity, and one of the greatest forces for progress the world has ever known,
For his part, in a symbolic gesture on his first working day, President Donald Trump brought back to the White House Oval Office the bust of Winston Churchill by Jacob Epstein that President Barack Obama had removed. It was an indication both that the two countries share historical memories, and that they can rely on each other and stand together.
In her speech on January 26 to Republican leaders in Philadelphia, May emphasized those historic links between the two countries as well as the economic and commercial ties, and political similarities. Speaking as a “fellow Conservative” May emphasized the similarities: the qualities and attributes include liberty, dignity of work, nationhood and national self-determination, patriotism, family values, and a democratic system. The two countries are bound by history, by family, by common interests, military, financial, cultural, and political factors.
The Special Relationship, started more than 70 years ago, indeed needs renewing. On May 11, 1953 in the House of Commons Winson Churchill, repeating what he had said to General de Gaulle on the eve of D Day in 1944, made plain British priorities. If Britain had to decide between Europe and the Open Sea it would always choose the Open Sea.
But in the post-World War II period the US, particularly as expressed by President Dwight Eisenhower, did not regard Britain as an equal or as a great or imperial power. In a cutting remark on December 5, 1962 at West Point, Secretary of State Dean Acheson, in debunking the Special Relaionship, remarked that Great Britain had lost an empire and had not yet found a role.
With Churchill back in the White House, the Special Relationship is bound to ignite. At the moment there does not appear to be any deep personal relationship between the incongruous pair who met in the White House on January 27, 2017. Yet it was a fruitful meeting between the exuberant 70 year old President, real estate mogul and television personality turned successful politician, and the less flamboyant 60 year old daughter of an Anglican vicar, who has held a number of government positions and who has been married to the same man since 1980. This does not appear to resemble the warm relationship that existed between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.
Yet sometimes opposites attract. Even with the different personalities it was meaningful that Theresa May was the first world leader to meet with the President.
Her gifts to the President suggest better things to come. Though Trump is a non-drinker, the Prime Minister gave him a quaich, a Scottish drinking cup given to clan leaders in Highland chivalry as a sign of friendship and welcome. Trump after all did have a Scottish mother, and has two Scottish golf courses.
The Special Relationship has both political and economic implications. While other issues are important, May’s immediate concern is to lay the foundation for a trade deal with the US. This is a crucial part of May’s policy to see the future of Britain, after its exit (Brexit) from the EU, as a sovereign free nation able to form free trade agreements with countries throughout the world. Discussion of a free trade agreement between the US and UK was therefore central in her policy meeting with President Trump.
The US has a formidable investment in the UK, $5 billion of corporate assets, 22 % of total US corporate assets abroad. Britain is the largest foreign direct investor in the US. About a million jobs in US are said to depend on British companies based in the US. Companies in both countries are eager to trade in the other country. Yet there is assymetry. The US remains Britain's largest single trading partner, while the UK is only the 7th largest trading partner of the US.
For his part, Trump called Brexit a "great thing," and asserted that Britain had taken its country back. For May, the US and the UK would lead the world together in a variety of ways. It is clear that the Special Relationship is both uneven and subject to sharp differences. Those differences on NATO, climate change, Syria, sanctions on Russia, Iran, illustrate the problem and sometimes the inferior position of the UK. It was Jeremy Greenstock, UK Ambassador to the UN, who remarked that during the Iraq War "Britain was always sitting in the second carriage not in the engine room."
The two leaders are not idelogical soulmates, especially on the fundamental issue of protection or free trade. Trump appears, though it is not clear, to be a protectionist, while Prime Minister May advances free trade and a global Britain. But the two share similar views on the fight against Islamist terrorism, defense and security cooperation. Moreover, Trump who approverd of Brexit, has in a manner exactly opposite to former President Obama, stated that Britain would be at the front of the queue for a bilateral trade arangement.
This is significant even if it needs caution and time since no deal with can be signed until Britain formally leaves the EU. It is also important because Trump in his inaugural speech said that "from this day forward, it's going to be only American first." Yet the free trade deal, and more areas open to competition, is politically as well as economically important. One recent illustration of this is that UK bought US F-35 strike aircraft for UK aircraft carriers.
Of course there are issues on which the two countries will not immediately agree, but many important others in which the countries stand side by side. Both countries agree not only on the fight against ISIS but also on its ideology, Radical Islamist, behind it. And both countries agree on the importance of dealing with the problem of immigration and control of borders.
There is a symbolic relevant reminder of the Special Relationship. Prime Minister May sent President Trump a copy of the speech made on Christmas Eve, December 24, 1941 by Winston Churchill, whose mother was American, talking of his sense of unity and fraternal association with the United States. It would be admirable if Trump, born of a Scottish mother, reciprocates this feeling, and renews the Special Relationship in an ardent manner.