Friday, 27 December 2019
Islamic State terrorists kill 11 Christian (and a Muslim) captives on Christmas Day

From the Nigerian Guardian, the Daily Mail and Nigerian blogger Almad Sakida

The Islamic State West Africa Province have executed 11 captives, mostly Christians, weeks after it killed aid workers.

Ahmad Salkida, a conflict journalist renowned for his monitoring of terrorist activities in Nigeria’s northeast, said ISWAP the captives were executed  “as a revenge for the killings of our leaders, including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abul-Hasan Al-Muhajir in Iraq and Syria.”

A video released on Wednesday showed 13 hostages, 10 believed to be Christian and three Muslim. ISWAP claimed they spared the lives of two of the Muslims. The deaths came after an earlier video saw the hostages plead with the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to negotiate their release. 

But conflict journalists and researchers, including Jacob Zenn, said “it is possible IS ordered ISWAP to kill them.” as it had intervened in other hostage situations.”

He, however, debunked claims by the terrorist group that all victims are Christians.

Ahmad Sakida ascertained the names of the hostages last week. 

The killing comes few hours after Boko Haram jihadists killed seven people on Christmas Eve in a raid on a Christian village near the town of Chibok in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state.

Dozens of fighters driving trucks and motorcycles stormed into Kwarangulum late Tuesday, shooting fleeing residents and burning homes after looting food supplies.

Posted on 12/27/2019 3:10 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 26 December 2019
Likud Leadership Primary in Israel Netanyahu versus Sa’ar – interview with Jason Pearlman

by Jerry Gordon[i]

On the brink of a Likud leadership primary with two candidates, the incumbent Israel PM Benjamin versus leading Likud Knesset figure Gideon Sa’ar, we spoke by phone with Jason Pearlman in Israel. Pearlman is a strategic development and political consultant in Israel. The Likud party leadership primary occurs on Thursday, December 26th, the results of which will be reported early on Friday, December 27th.   Pearlman has worked for in these capacities for the Office of President of Israel, Education and Foreign Ministries, the Israel Embassy in London and the British Jewish Board of Deputies, political, business and sports figures. See his LinkedIn page for additional information. 

The wide-ranging interview covered national and Likud Party polls, the ability to form a ruling government given the electoral stalemate and scheduled third election on March 2nd,  impact on funding on public sector in Israel, functioning of Defense establishment in the midst of intensified regional threats, especially from Iran and proxies, the International Criminal Court prosecutorial investigation into allegations of war crimes by the IDF during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge,  prospects for Basic Law Reform post a third Knesset General Election and the rise of anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism given the 75th Commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz to be held at Yad va Shem Holocaust Memorial on January 27, 2020.

On the Likud Leadership race and ability to form a government. Despite the national polls showing a strong leadership position by long serving incumbent Israel PM Netanyahu, Pearlman contends that internal Likud party polling indicate that that challenger Gideon Sa’ar may be more able to form a government with the right-wing bloc. Netanyahu has been impacted by the prospects of trial given the indictments on bribery and corruption charges.

Impact of Electoral Stalemate on Basic Services.  The impact of the electoral impact on the ability of the government to provide basic services has been “crippling’” as it has been operating without an approved budget. Pearlman cited the absence of adequate funding for hospitals and education as particularly severe.

On the Effectiveness of the Defense Establishment under a caretaker government.  The Defense establishment continues to carry out operations especially against Iran and its proxies in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. However, Pearlman, observed that in the long run there are serious complications given threats in the region, especially with Iran and others.

The ICC investigation of alleged war crimes by IDF during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.  Pearlman felt this was a sad development, given that Israel was a key party to support the ICC formation, even though it did not ratify the 2002 Treaty of Rome. He considers the investigation politicized and hi-jacked by anti-Israel groups, especially the Palestinian Authority that had joined the ICC given its Observer Status at the UN General Assembly.

On the significance of the 75th Commemoration of the Liberation of Auschwitz- Birkenau at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial.  Pearlman considers this an especially crucial time for Israel and the Jewish world given the rise of anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism. That is reflected in a spike of such incidents in the West in the EU and UK, here in the US especially, the attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, California, and the violent murderous attack on a Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City, New Jersey and virulent anti-Israel attacks on US college campuses. In that context Pearlman cited  the significance of the 75th Commemoration of the Liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau and the gathering of 38 world leaders at the Fifth Holocaust Memorial Forum on January 23, 2020 at the  Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem  with the theme of “Remembering the Holocaust and fighting anti-Semitism”. 30 world leaders have indicated attendance including: President of Russia H.E. Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of France H.E. Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of Germany H.E. Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, President of Italy H.E. Mr. Sergio Mattarella and President of Austria H.E. Mr. Alexander Van der Bellen.  Note these comments of Dr. Moshe Cantor President of the World Holocaust Forum at a press conference held at the residence of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in November 2019:

“Jewish life is once again under threat in Europe. It is under threat from the day-to-day harassment and attacks, on the streets, in schools, at universities, online, and even in their own homes. It has become so bad that the overwhelming majority of Jews in Europe no longer feel safe.”

“Antisemitism is a hatred that knows no boundaries, and has been adopted by multiple ideologies. Jews are relentlessly attacked by the Left, the Right, and the mainstream. This is another pivotal point in history where the leaders of the world have to stand up and act. Words are not enough, and I conceived of the World Holocaust Forum to be a place where we can create an action plan to aggressively fight back against antisemitism”.


[i] Jerry Gordon is a Senior Vice President of the New English Review, author of The West Speaks, NER Press 2012, and co-author of Genocide in Sudan: Caliphate Threatens Africa and the World, JAD Publishing, 2017. Mr. Gordon is a former US Army intelligence officer who served during the Viet Nam era. He is producer and co-host of Israel News Talk Radio – Beyond the Matrix.



Posted on 12/26/2019 4:59 AM by Jerry Gordon
Thursday, 26 December 2019
Erdogan At It Again

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The President of Turkey, the well-known comedy artist and antisemite Recep Tayyip Erdogan, charged last Tuesday that awarding the Nobel Prize to Peter Handke would only encourage “enemies of Islam and humanity.” For Erdogan, the chief “enemies of Islam and humanity” are the Jews, specifically the Jews of Israel, as could be seen when he made an appearance at the U.N. General Assembly on September 24 and delivered himself yet again of some anti-Israel remarks.

This was nothing new for Erdogan. Last year, bewailing the continued existence of Israel, he published a plan that proposed the creation of a pan-Islamic military force, with contributions of men and weapons by several dozen Islamic states; that force, he was sure, would be able to “destroy” the State of Israel. No doubt he assumed that Turkey would be the natural leader of such a force. He must have been chagrined to discover that no other Muslim state took up his offer; he apparently did not realize that the Arab states have a long historical memory, and the Ottoman Turks did not endear themselves to the Arabs when they ruled over them for so long.

His attack on Israel at the U.N. was a travesty of history. But even more offensive were the remarks he made, shortly before his speech at General Assembly, when he met with Turkish natives living in New York, in which he compared the murder of Jews during the Holocaust to the “genocide” committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip.

When we look at the genocide Nazis committed against Jews, we should look at the massacre happening in the Gaza Strip from the same point of view,” Erdogan is quoted as saying by the Turkish Anadolu news agency.

And during his rambling speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he attacked Israel several times, Erdogan claimed, “This year, 490 children were killed and 3,000 injured as a direct target of the most modern and murderous weapons in the Gaza Strip of Palestine.”

Children playing on the beaches, running around in parks, taking refuge in mosques and schools, curling up in their mothers’ bosom for safety, were mercilessly killed in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world,” he charged.

In 2018, there were 49 children who died as a result of the weekly confrontations at Israel’s security fence with Gaza. Some of them were hit by projectiles thrown by Palestinians themselves. In 2019, while figures on casualties have not yet been available, there have been no major military operations in the Gaza Strip, which must mean there have to date likely been far fewer deaths than the 49 children who died in 2018. Erdogan simply pulled this figure of “490 children killed” out of the air. As we all know, Israel takes great pains to warn off civilians, using tear gas and rubber bullets, and only using live fire when the security fence is being breached by those throwing Molotov cocktails, grenades, incendiary kites, and occasional gun fire.

Erdogan had his figures off by at least a factor of ten, and his description of the children being killed or injured “as a direct target” was also wrong. The IDF makes great efforts to avoid civilian casualties, and especially of children. But Hamas does the opposite: its operatives encourage children to join the Great March of Return, and herds them toward the front of the marchers; Hamas wants there to be Arab children who are killed or wounded, as part of its propaganda war against Israel; Israel in the meantime tries to minimize such casualties, but given the smokescreen Hamas deliberately creates by burning tires, cannot avoid all such casualties. But Israel has never “targeted” children, as Erdogan claims.

Also in the realm of fantasy is Erdogan’s description of the children who are killed. He sees them as “children playing on the beaches, running around in parks, taking refuge in mosques and schools, curling up in their mothers’ bosom for safety, [who] were mercilessly killed in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world.” What beaches, and what parks, were anywhere near the security fence where the Great March of Return took place? Those children who unfortunately were killed were not “playing on the beaches, running around in parks, taking refuge in mosques and schools, curling up in their mothers’ bosom for safety” – they were being pushed forward toward the head of the Great March of Return by Hamas operatives, eager to have them, in the fog of war, wounded or killed by Israeli soldiers.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the U.N. displayed his special house blend of dezinformatsiya taqiyya, and anti-Israel animus. Not everyone was pleased. He held up four maps, purporting to show how “Palestine” has over time been shrinking as Israel has been aggressively seizing Arab land. The first map showed a place labelled as “Palestine before 1947.” It is in fact a map of the Mandate for Palestine, the territory shown having long before been assigned to the future Jewish National Home. What Erdogan labels as “Palestine” (Filistin) was supposed to be part of a future Israel; Erdogan has simply ignored what the Palestine Mandate was all about, and assumed that an Arab “Palestine,” not a  Jewish state, was the true intent of the League of Nations. Hence, from the river to the sea, this “Filistin.” And now he will show us how that “Palestine” began to shrink under steady Israeli aggression.

Erdogan’s second map shows Israel as it would have been had the U.N. Partition Plan of November 29, 1947 – U.N. Resolution 181 — been accepted. On this map, the Jewish state now contains the Negev, as well as a strip of land on the coast, and some of the Galilee. Erdogan’s point is that the U.N. was willing to give Israel all of that territory, ripped out of “Palestine.” But the Jews were ungrateful. They wanted more. Again, he has his history backwards. It was the Jews who were willing to accept the Partition Plan, despite its meaning they would lose land to which they were, by the Mandate, entitled. It was the Arabs who unanimously rejected the Partition Plan, and thus it was null and void from the beginning. The Arabs were unwilling to accept Israel no matter what its size; they were convinced they would be able to destroy the nascent Jewish state once hostilities began. Erdogan doesn’t mention who accepted, and who rejected, the U.N. Partition Plan.

Erdogan also ignores who started the war in 1948. On May 15, 1948, one day after Israel declared its independence, the armies of five Arab states – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq – invaded Israel in an attempt to snuff out its young life. It was the Arabs who made war on Israel; in defending itself, Israel acquired a bit more territory than the Jews possessed at the beginning of the war. And Israel continued to have a legal claim, based on the Mandate, to all of the territory from the Jordan River to the sea. The fact that when the shooting stopped in 1949, Egypt was in possession of Gaza, and Jordan in possession of the West Bank, did not diminish Israel’s legal claim to both territories. What Israel lacked was the ability to enforce that legal claim, which is different from not having such a claim. Erdogan also ignores the fact that from 1949 to 1967, Jordan claimed the West Bank as its own, while during the same period Egypt lay claim to Gaza. Neither state seemed concerned about the rights of the “Palestinian people,” but of course, why should they have been? The “Palestinian people” had not yet been invented.

The third map Erdogan held up showed Israel as it existed between 1949 to 1967. The Gaza Strip, and the West Bank, are still shown in green as parts of “Palestine.” There have been some slight adjustments – enlargements — to Israel’s territory since 1949, nothing major. But what is surprising is that Erdogan never showed a map of Israel just after the Six-Day War, in which Israel, by force of arms, took possession of the entire Sinai, the entire West Bank, and the Golan Heights. Why didn’t he? Clearly, because he would have had to explain not only why Israel had won the Sinai, but why it had returned it to Egypt as part of the Camp David Accords. That return of 95% of the territory Israel won in the Six-Day War does not fit Erdogan’s narrative of an aggressive Israel, always increasing its size at the expense of the inoffensive Arabs. It would not do to dwell on Israel’s return of the Sinai. Such a map of Israel after the Six-Day War might also raise another point of discussion: how did that war start? For surely that matters; the ultimate disposition of territories won in wars of self-defense is different from territories taken in wars of aggression. Many may not know that the Six-Day War was begun by Egypt’s President Nasser, who in mid-May announced his intention to march into Israel. He announced to hysterical Cairene crowds that he would soon be destroying the Zionists; hundreds of thousands cheered, expressing their unbridled bloodlust. He demanded, and got from the UN’s Secretary-General U Thant, the removal of U.N. peacekeeping troops in the Sinai. He moved tens of thousands of troops into the northern Sinai. He instituted a blockade of Israeli ships at the Straits of Tiran, thus cutting off Israel’s trade lifeline to Asia. He forced Israel into a war it had not wanted, but was prepared to fight. And we all know the spectacular results of that quintessential war of self-defense.

Erdogan’s fourth map showed Israel in 2019, and an ever-shrinking “Palestine” (Filistin). Now most of the territory from the Jordan to the sea was shown as “Israel.” The only parts that still were controlled by the Palestinians were Gaza (which Erdogan knows that Israel withdrew from completely in 2005, but again, he did not wish to draw attention to that voluntary withdrawal), and a series of discontinuous splotches of green, indicating Palestinian villages and cities in the West Bank. We thus were led by Erdogan’s presentation to believe that the Arab “Palestine” of 1947  (that was, in fact, Mandatory Palestine, assigned to the Jewish National Home), shrank under Zionist blows to become a mere rump state, consisting of Gaza and a pitiful handful of Arab population centers in the West Bank.

But aside from this historical travesty, in which the history of modern Israel is presented as a series of unprovoked aggressions by Jews against innocent Arabs, and the Mandate for Palestine misrepresented as if it had been created to ensure not a Jewish, but an Arab state of Palestine from the river to the sea, the most intolerable part of Erdogan’s New York visit was that pre-UN speech in which he compared the treatment of Arabs by Jews as similar to what the Nazis did to the Jews. What could be more offensive to the Jews of Israel, many of whom are descendants of those who managed to survive the Nazi murders? Or come to think of it, what could be more offensive to decent people everywhere?

Erdogan’s comparison is grotesque. The Nazis rounded up Jews in every country that the Germans conquered. They killed them with poison gas in death camps and in mobile killing vans. They shot hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children, positioning their victims on the edges of huge pits into which they would fall. Some were buried alive. They burned people alive in crematoria. They stuffed Jews into cattle cars, on long journeys from which only a handful would survive, the rest having frozen to death, or been suffocated, or starved to death. Children were tossed into the air by bored German soldiers, looking for a little fun, who would then shoot them in front of their parents. Jewish prisoners were forced to fight each other; the loser was immediately killed; the winner then had to fight another prisoner, knowing that when he eventually lost, he, too, would be killed. Fun! Some Jews were hung, others were forced to run onto electrified fences, others torn apart by ravenous guard dogs, beaten to death, or made to undergo hideous “medical experiments” by the sadistic Dr. Mengele and his associates. That was how the Nazis treated the Jews: tormented them, tortured them, murdered them in a dozen horrible ways. Keep that history steadily in mind when someone like Erdogan has the indecency to compare Israelis to Nazis.

Does Israel do anything to its Arab citizens akin to what the Nazis did to Jews? The Arabs in Israel enjoy full civil, religious, and political rights. They serve in the Knesset, on the Israeli Supreme Court, in the diplomatic corps. They even serve, but only if they wish to, in the Israeli Defense Forces, where some have become officers. But what, you might ask, of the “Palestinians” in Gaza and the West Bank? Are they treated by Israelis as the Nazis treated Jews? The terrorist groups in Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have hurled hundreds of rockets into Israel. Were the Israelis like the Nazis, they would have demolished Gaza and everyone in it. When Israel retaliates against such attacks, it takes great care to try to avoid civilian casualties, especially by using its “knock on the roof” technique, the IDF’s practice of dropping non-explosive or low-yield devices on certain roofs to warn civilians to leave a building that will soon be hit. Inevitably, given the terrorist tactic of deliberately firing rockets at Israel from civilian areas, there will be some unavoidable civilian victims. But while Israel does everything it can to avoid such casualties, the “Palestinians,” on the other hand, fire indiscriminately into Israeli towns and cities, hoping to kill as many Jews as possible. Who in this conflict are more like the Nazis?

Does Israel teach hatred of the Arabs in its schools, or inculcate such hatred on children’s television programs? No, it does not. The Israeli government goes out of its way to stress the politics of tolerance, to encourage Jewish-Arab cooperation in schools, workplaces, hospitals. It is the Palestinians alone who inculcate a murderous hatred of the Jews. It is the Palestinians who broadcast children’s television shows where young children announce their determination to kill Jews and are praised by their adult supervisors. But none of that has made an impression on the determinedly antisemitic President Erdogan.

Not even when Arab terrorists, who have murdered Israelis, are caught, does Israel impose capital punishment. In the entire history of Israel, only one person has ever received capital punishment – Adolf Eichmann.

Where are those death camps, those mobile gas vans, those mass killings of Arabs, those crematoria, those railroad cars, that teaching of race hatred, that make Israel’s treatment of the Arabs, as Erdogan insists, akin to the Nazis in their treatment of the Jews? Nowhere to be found. Even terrorist murderers receive more humane treatment in Israeli jails than do those who, for any reason, are imprisoned in Arab, Iranian, or Pakistani jails.

It would be salutary if an Israeli spokesman, well-versed in the art of hasbara, could appear at some public forum – even the U.N itself — to rebut Erdogan’s charges. First, that spokesman should meticulously take apart those maps used as props by the Turkish president, beginning with the colossal dishonesty of his initial misrepresentation, in depicting Mandatory Palestine as an Arab “Filistin,” when the whole point of that Mandate was to create the Jewish National Home. That deliberate error should be constantly re-emphasized, as the spokesman goes through the various wars thrust on Israel: the 1948-49 war that the Arabs started (with five Arab armies invading Israel), the 1967 war that the Arabs again started (when Nasser had the U.N. peacekeepers removed, sent tens of thousands of troops into the northern Sinai, and blockaded the Straits of Tiran), the 1973 war that the Arabs yet again started (with a surprise attack on Yom Kippur), right up to the last map, by which Erdogan meant to horrify us with the amount of territory that Israel now, in 2019, manages to possess. But the sequence of Erdogan’s maps began by depicting “Palestine” instead of, as it should have, the Jewish state that was supposed to extend from the Jordan to the sea. Nowadays, because it won three wars of self-defense, Israel has come almost full circle, and is now close than ever before to the original territorial intentions of those who created the Mandate for Palestine. That’s a result to celebrate rather than deplore, but better not do it, I think, in the excitable presence of that malign padishah, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 12/26/2019 4:49 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 26 December 2019
The Theater of Politics

by Michael Curtis

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances. Last scene of all is second childishness and mere oblivion.

The political stage is akin to that of the theater world. Similarities of the participants abound, a considerable ego, desire for the limelight, ability to think fast or ad lib, willingness to be part of a company or party, desire to be liked and admired, ambition to rise to the top, a realization of the need to compromise and to be clubbable. For many months Washington, D.C., has exemplified political theater with a high boiling point, a mix of accusations of attempted coup, conspiracy theories, deliberate inaccurate characterization of opposing views, abuse of power, state treason, impeachment, bitter personal feuds, anonymous whistleblowers, talk of cover-ups, and war on democracy. 

The political actors in D.C. are not facsimiles of fictional characters, but it may be helpful for them to survey some of those characters and their roles to stimulate thought and open dialogue on Capitol Hill. None of the present personalities in D.C. are likely to be as grand or to act on Shakespearian lines. Nevertheless, these ambitious and powerful figures might consider the various uses of power: Richard III, a clever but warped tyrant or the ambitious Macbeth, refusing to adhere to moral principles and consequently losing their lives as well as their power. Few in Congress today are likely to give up power like Lear or Prospero who did, although for different reasons. 

A famous axiom is that power tends to corrupt. Though this is not automatically inevitable or axiomatic, the struggle for power is at the heart of politics which is concerned with the state, governmental and legal institutions, and with power relations between people and groups. 

Fiction and theater provide the root of real-life imitation. Novelists and playwrights provide helpful illustrations of non-fictional drama about the conflicts and political death of real political actors. Their writing about the theater of politics allows a variety of voices to be heard, echoing different points of view, each with some degree of credibility about current events and central issues of political theories or ideals. These literary examples allow the raising of significant ethical as well as political issues. Does good governance sometimes require the sacrifice of moral standards? Is corruption inevitable as a result of the nature of governance and morality? 

Indeed, is it possible to govern innocently? Does good governance sometimes require the sacrifice of moral standards? Does the end justify the means? Should the focus be on obedience to authority, or posit of personal power? Exercise of power may lead to good people doing unpleasant or terrible things. 

Machiavelli, whose views of human nature, society, and governmen are still controversial, based his views on his assessment of the real world. A ruler should be generous and honest where he can, but he should know how to do wrong when he must. The prince should, if necessary, set aside every scruple.  He needs to know how to conduct himself in the manner of beast as well as that of men. Machiavelli advised it was necessary to be a fox to discover the snares, and a lion to terrify the wolves. 

An initial problem it the fact that political theater is akin to hypocrisy, with political actors who put on masks, constructing personae who create a false impression. Some appear sincere, though indifferent to truth, while others appear artificial, unable to conceal their personal ambition and pandering to authority or the electorate. 

Political theatre deals with the issue of conflicting loyalties, and betrayers. Sophocles’ Antigone presents the problems caused by competing demands of family and the state, between the law of god and the law of man. Dante in Inferno assigns three people to the center of hell: Brutus, Cassius, and Judas. Brutus in Julius Caesar struggles with conflicting attitudes, loyalty to the Roman Republic, and to his friend Caesar, before committing the act of assassinating Caesar. Brutus, who adhered to a moral and ethical code of honor acted in contradictory fashion; he explained, “not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”

Some politicians want to make America great again, or argue like a courtier of Cymberline, King of Britain about the Queen who is plotting to kill Imogen, and give the keys of the kingdom to her idiotic son Cloten: “If it be a sin to make a true election she is damned.” Others are ready to condemn their own country on the model of John of Gaunt, “That England, that was wont to conquer others, hath made a shameful conquest of itself.” 

Political activity is a stage, and political actors assume different personalities, arguing about the interplay of ethical values and political actions. Max Weber wrote of the “tragic hero,” who found doing good in the world and saving one’s soul is contradictory.

Sometimes this contradiction is indirect as in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, a meditation on alienation, guilt, and sin in Colonial America. Rev Arthur Dimmesdale, ordained Puritan minister, is committed to a life of guilt for violation of the moral code, fathering an illegitimate child, regarding himself as a base and worthless man. and can’t disclose his sin. His problem, as Hawthorne states it, is a familiar one in politics. Dimmesdale, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself, and another to the multitude, becoming bewildered as to which may be true. 

Two other works might also be helpful for the denizens of Capitol Hill: Billy Budd by Herman Melville and Jean-Paul Sartre’s Les Mains sales.

Captain Vere, nicknamed Starry Vere, is in charge of the ship Bellipotent, in Billy Budd. He has to deal with problems of legal and moral judgment in times of crisis. He fears disorder. He is concerned to adhere to the law and administer it, a believer in order before justice. He represents reason, universal and necessary laws, an abstract universalism. Billy, pure and innocent, the Handsome Sailor, a model of primitive innocence, is falsely accused of assisting in a mutiny but is helpless in defending himself because of his stutter. His nature in its simplicity never willed malice or experienced the reactionary bite of that serpent. Claggart, master-at-arms, jealous of Billy because of his innocence, is an evil, arrogant person with no moral commitment, anxious to destroy the good Billy. is there any way to overcome evil?  Claggart’s spontaneous and profound antipathy, his passionate hatred, his depravity is innate. The only mystery is that evil is born in him.

The dilemma for the honest Captain Vere is that letting off Billy, who he knows is innocent would be bad for discipline. If the law is to be followed and upheld, sacrifices must be made. With mankind, Vere declares, “measured forms are everything, and this is the impact of the story of Orpheus with his lyre spellbinding the wild denizens of the wood.”

Perhaps the political dilemma is best stated in the play Les Mains sales, (Dirty Hands), by Jean-Paul Sartre first performed in Paris in 1948. Set in a fictional country during World War II, it is the drama of the assassination of a leading politician and whether the motivation was political or personal. The young Hugo, a bourgeois intellectual, joins the Communist party, and is given the task of assassinating the party leader Hoederer who has proposed a policy of cooperating with non CP members, including Fascists, to form a united group opposing the Germans. Hugo insists on purity of party principles and policies, and holds that Hoederer’s proposals are not acceptable. He therefore kills the leader, whom he catches in the act of kissing his own wife. Then Hugo allows himself to be killed to show that Hoederer was assassinated because of his policies, not for personal reasons.

Politics, as Sartre suggested is a question of dirty hands with participants competing and lying. He offers the stark alternative in the conflict of duties with values; one has to choose between alternatives, none of which are entirely satisfactory. The dialogue is challenging. Hoederer puts the case to Hugo strongly; “You cling so tightly to your purity, well stay pure, what will it do? Purity is a concept of fakirs and friars. You intellectuals invoke purity as your rationalization for doing nothing. As for myself, my hands are dirty, have plunged my arms up to the elbows in excrement and blood. Do you suppose it is possible to govern innocently?

Sartre explained, “I raise the problem (Dirty Hands) of ends and means. I do not take sides. A good play should raise problems, not solve them, issues such as of choice, authenticity, individual responsibility, morality.”  Government leaders and legislators might be wise in its present activities to consider various factors: human autonomy, the use of power, impure compromise, the problem of means and ends, obedience to party, pure idealism, self- deception and harmful conflict.

Posted on 12/26/2019 4:36 AM by Michael Curtis
Wednesday, 25 December 2019
Merry Christmas to our Readers

Posted on 12/25/2019 5:36 AM by Rebecca Bynum
Tuesday, 24 December 2019
Iran is Sinking, and Not Just Figuratively

by Hugh Fitzgerald

The moral bankruptcy of the Islamic Republic is displayed every day in every way. The executions of Baha’is, the hanging of homosexuals, the imprisonment and torture of dissidents, the arrest of women who dare to remove their hijabs, the outsourcing of terrorist attacks  to Hezbollah, the hysterical threats to destroy Israel, are all of a piece, along with the remarks of Ayatollah Lotfollah Dezhkham, Khamenei’s representative in Fars Province, who said on January 25, 2019 in Shiraz that “We Will Shout ‘Death to America’ until We Turn the White House into a Shiite Islamic Center.”

But along with the figurative sinking of Iran’s ship of state, the S.S. Naufragium (also known as the S. S. Narrenschiff, there is the literal sinking of the country, which threatens to destroy many structures, including airports, apartment buildings, factories, roads, and highways. Huge sinkholes have opened up throughout Tehran, a city of some 13 million people; one of them is 60 meters deep. Some are fifty feet across.

Here is the report, little noted when it appeared nearly a year ago, on this colossal threat to Iran’s infrastructure, for which there seems to be at this point no remedy and about which nothing has been done since this report appeared:

Stressed by a 30-year drought and hollowed by excessive water pumping, the parched landscape around Iran’s capital has begun to sink dramatically. Seen by satellite and on foot around the city, officials warn that what they call land subsidence poses a grave danger to a country where protests over water scarcity have already seen violence.

Land subsidence is a destructive phenomenon,” said Siavash Arabi, a measurement expert at Iran’s cartography department. “Its impact may not be immediately felt like an earthquake, but as you can see, it can gradually cause destructive changes over time.”

He said he can identify “destruction of farmland, the cracks of the earth’s surface, damage to civilian areas in cities, wastewater lines, cracks in roads and damages to water and natural gas pipes.”

Several things have contributed to this catastrophe. Most important is the nationwide drought, which has gone on for 30 years. In 2018, only 6.7 inches of rain fell in Iran. By comparison, New York City gets 49.9 inches of rain every year. Because of the absence of rainwater, Iranians have been digging more wells, and Iran’s aquifers steadily decline.

Tehran, which sits 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) above sea level against the Alborz Mountains on a plateau, has rapidly grown over the last 100 years to a sprawling city of 13 million people in its metropolitan area.

The huge growth in Iran’s population, and especially in Tehran, naturally requires ever greater water use, at a time when the once-in-a-century drought has supplied only tiny amounts of rainwater. More salty water is pumped up from ground aquifers; this is not good for agricultural use.

All those people have put incredible pressure on water resources on a semi-arid plateau in a country that saw only 171 millimeters (6.7 inches) of rain last year. Over-reliance on ground aquifers has seen increasingly salty water pumped from below ground.

“Surface soil contains water and air. When you pump water from under the ground surface, you cause some empty space to be formed in the soil,” Mr Arabi told Associated Press. “Gradually, the pressure from above causes the soil particles to stick together and this leads to sinking of the ground and formation of cracks.”

Rain and snow to recharge the underground aquifers have been in short supply. Over the past decade, Iran has seen the most prolonged and severe drought in more than 30 years, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation. An estimated 97 per cent of the country has faced some level of drought, Iran’s Meteorological Organization says.

That has caused the sinkholes and fissures now seen around Tehran.

Iranian authorities say they have measured up to 22 centimetres (8.6 inches) of annual subsidence near the capital, while the normal range would be only as high as 3 centimeters (1.1 inches) per year.

Even higher numbers have been measured in other parts of the country. Some sinkholes formed in western Iran are as deep as 60 metres (196 feet)….

By insisting on becoming self-sufficient in food production, which was not an economic but a political decision, based on the Islamic Republic’s worry about the possible effect of  sanctions on its imports, it has used up more of its available water than it had to. Iranian farmers use water inefficiently, unlike, say, the Israelis, who have learned to constantly adjust their methods to make maximum use of the water they do have, and who first came up with advances in drip irrigation that deliver to each plant the exact amount of water that plant needs. Israel has publicly offered to help Iran with management of its water; Iran has rejected the offer. Were Iran willing to forego growing all the food it needs, and return to buying some from abroad — as rice from China, and wheat from Russia, two countries that ignore the American sanctions on Iran — it could save a great deal of water in this time of historic drought. But it appears determined to continue with its ill-thought-out policy of autarky.

Already, the drought and water crisis has fed into the sporadic unrest Iran has faced over the last year. In July, protests around Khorramshahr, some 650 kilometres (400 miles) southwest of Tehran, saw violence as residents of the predominantly Arab city near the border with Iraq complained of salty, muddy water coming out of their taps amid the years-long drought.

The unrest there only compounds the wider unease felt across Iran as it faces an economic crisis sparked by President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has long opposed Iran’s theocratic government, even released an online video in June offering his country’s water technology in a jab at Iran’s leaders.

“The Iranian regime shouts: ‘Death to Israel,’” Mr Netanyahu said. “In response, Israel shouts: ‘Life to the Iranian people.’”

Israel has out of necessity had to become  a world leader in water management. This includes its advances in drip irrigation, which are well known worldwide; it has shared with others, both in the advanced West and in sub-Saharan Africa, its novel techniques of delivering the exact amount of water each individual plant needs.

Israel is also a pioneer in desalination, operating Sorek — the world’s largest seawater desalinization plant — some 10 miles south of Tel Aviv. While desalinization can be an energy intensive and expensive enterprise, the advanced technologies employed at Sorek allow it to produce a thousand liters of drinking water — about what one person in Israel uses in a single week — for 58 U.S. cents.

Israel aims to produce 200 billion gallons of potable water annually through five major desalination plants by 2020, and has shared its expertise in the field to help address water shortages globally, from Egypt to California.

Finally, Israel is the world leader in purifying its waste-water and using it in irrigation, making it the undisputed world leader in this field.  90% of Israel’s waste-water is reused; its nearest rival in this area, Spain, recycles only 20% of its waste-water.

Offered help in water management by Prime Minister Netanyahu, Iranian officials shrugged it off. But solutions to the water crisis will be difficult to find without improvements in irrigation, in desalinization, and in the re-use of waste-water. These are three fields in which Israel is recognized as a world leader. The Israelis are eager to share their expertise, even with their geopolitical enemy. It’s the mullahs who are preventing this….

Sanctions were the foreseeable result of a deliberate decision made by the Iranian regime to prioritize the acquisition of nuclear weapons over the well-being of its people. Sanctions prevent Iran from buying equipment that might be useful in both desalination plants and in waste-water treatment facilities. Iran’s own obstinacy in refusing Israel’s offer of help is further evidence of how it puts its anti-Zionist policy ahead of ameliorating the water crisis for 81 million Iranians.

Iranian authorities have begun to crack down on illegal water wells, closing 100,000 of them. But there are still 30,000 in use, and as fast as the government closes them down, new ones are dug. The Iranians are also exploring using desalinization plants along the Persian Gulf, but they continue to reject having Israel share its technical know-how in this area. Farming practices also need to change including greater use of drip irrigation; Iranian farmers, like many farmers in the Third World, have been reluctant to try new methods.

“We need to shift our development model so that it relies less on water and soil,” Mr Darvish, the activist, said. “If we don’t act quickly to stop the subsidence, it can spread to other areas.”

Thirty years of drought, the worst in Iran’s modern history, has caused Iranians to rely ever more on water from their aquifers. As it is pumped out, the loss of this underground water has created spaces in the soil where the water once was. This has led, in turn, to widespread subsidence of the soil. It is being pushed down, packed more tightly, as the water — and air with it — are sucked out of these aquifers. As the earth subsides, cracks are formed, and sinkholes, some as large as a bus, and 40-100feet deep (one sinkhole is nearly 200 feet deep) have been created. And even where there are no sinkholes, the subsidence of the earth by a few inches can have devastating consequences for buildings.

The sinking can be seen in Tehran’s southern Yaftabad neighbourhood, which sits close to farmland and water wells on the edge of the city. Cracks run down walls and below windows, and water pipes have ruptured. Residents fear poorly built buildings may collapse.

The sinking also threatens vital infrastructure, like Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport. German scientists estimate that land under the airport is sinking by 5 centimetres (1.9 inches) a year.

Tehran’s oil refinery, a key highway, automobile manufacturing plants and railroads also all sit on sinking ground, said Ali Beitollahi, a Ministry of Roads and Transportation official. Some 2 million people live in the area, he said.

Masoud Shafiee, head of Iran’s cartography department, also acknowledged the danger.

“Rates (for subsidence) are very high and in many instances it’s happening in densely populated areas,” Mr Sherif told AP. “It’s happening near sensitive infrastructures like airports, which we consider a top priority.”

The mullahs have no idea what to do. They haven’t yet recognized the need to buy more of the country’s food from abroad — autarky be damned — so as to decrease the use of water for agriculture. They will never accept Israeli help in water management: drip irrigation, desalinization, and purification of waste-water. The more water that must be taken from aquifers in this time of historic drought, the more the earth subsides. And the more the earth subsides, the more cracks in buildings and pipes, with the possibility of collapse, and the more sinkholes into which cars and houses can disappear.

Right now in Tehran, an oil refinery, railroads, automobile manufacturing plants, a major highway, and above all the Ayatollah Khomeini airport, all lie on land that is sinking by nearly two inches a year. And there is nothing, at this point, that can be done to reverse the damage. Had Iran been run by technocrats rather than theocrats for the last 40 years, they might have built desalinization facilities on the Persian Gulf, on the model of Israel’s spectacularly successful plants, might have learned of Israel’s methods of drip irrigation, and promoted them among their own farmers, and might, finally, have been taught by the Israelis just how to purify waste-water most economically for use in agriculture. But instead of choosing to do what it would take to stave off or mitigate the current disaster, including accepting the expertise Israel has offered, the Islamic Republic chose instead to embrace its Qur’an-based hatred of the Jews. Their loss, their pain.

The result is there for all — with satellite imagery — to see. Many places in Iran are sinking, inch by inch, each year, as the aquifers are drained, and with that subsidence of the land, also sinking are its roads, its apartment buildings, its manufacturing plants, even its main airport. Expect to read more, in the next few years, of highways collapsing, of buildings crumbling, of runways gutted by sinkholes, in Iran.

Having been sinking, figuratively, during 40 hideous years of Islamic misrule, Iran has now begun to sink, literally, in the last few years. One more failure of the Islamic Republic. There have been so many.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 12/24/2019 6:22 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 23 December 2019
Michael Rectenwald: Social Justice Warriors & Academia

Dave Janda interviews Michael Rectenwald for Operation Freedom:

Posted on 12/23/2019 11:31 AM by New English Review Press
Monday, 23 December 2019
An Impeachment Role for the Supreme Court?

Do the charges against Trump pass constitutional muster? The justices should decide before the Senate does.

by Conrad Black

In the present overheated state of official Washington, there may be no alternative to charging into an impeachment trial whose outcome is a foregone conclusion. There is no allegation of treason, bribery, a high crime, or a misdemeanor, the four categories of offense the Constitution identifies as justifying the removal of a president, and no evidence of any such offense. The Democrats tried bribery for a couple of weeks after their focus groups were stirred by it, but gave it up as too implausible. The only bribe that has been unearthed was of the Biden family, and not even this rabid ragtag of bloodless assassins has tried treason, though that wicked act was much bandied about in the piping days of the previous Democratic putsch attempt over collusion between Trump and Russia in the 2016 election. The preferable next step would be for the Senate to ask the Supreme Court to determine whether the four grounds cited by the Constitution for removal of a president are exclusive, and accordingly this impeachment bill need not be tried, or those categories are merely illustrative, and Gerald Ford was correct when he said impeachment can be for any reason the majority in the House of Representatives determines.

I believe it is clear that the authors of the Constitution did not want a president removed for anything less than a high crime, and that none of the impeachment efforts in history would qualify. Andrew Johnson had fired the war secretary, which was his right, and he was narrowly acquitted in 1868 in the intense post–Civil War Reconstruction atmosphere. Richard Nixon was charged by the Judiciary Committee with having “made it his policy” to “obstruct,” and having “through his close subordinates and agents” obstructed, the Watergate investigation; and of having “endeavored” to misuse the IRS (not having actually done so, as Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Obama, and others have done); and of impeding the impeachment proceedings by temporary noncompliance with House committee subpoenas. The last was an obviously absurd charge, but even the first two were not high crimes, and there has never been any conclusive evidence that Nixon was guilty of them anyway. But his impeachment case was a model of fairness compared with the present nonsense. President Clinton may have lied to a grand jury about his extramarital sex life, but that was not a high crime either, in constitutional terms, and was rightly judged insufficient to justify his removal.

The country must decide whether, henceforth, impeachment will be a routine clash between a House of Representatives and White House of different parties over policy differences or acute personal abrasions, as this is, or whether the authors of the Constitution meant, and the national interest requires, that it be reserved for accusations of high crimes on the same plane of misconduct as treason or bribe-taking. After all the hair-splitting and righteous posturing by the Democrats and the parrotocracy of their docile media about quid pro quo, a bribe, and other heinous offenses, they have swaddled themselves in the charges of abuse of power and contempt of Congress. (Any observer who isn’t by now contemptuous at least of the House of Representatives is insane, regardless of being law-abiding or not.)

The Democratic strategy is obvious: They claim it’s a “Rorschach test” — there are two sides of equal weight; half the country dislikes Trump and half likes him, or at least thinks he should keep his office until the next election. The two sides are thus equally legitimate and of equivalent rigor and credibility and worthiness of respect. Half the people were mousetrapped into thinking he’s a criminal, though those polls are finally slipping. By grafting an impeachment vote onto their orchestrated hatred of the president, the congressional Democrats are trying to confect the odium of criminal wrongdoing, which will only fail to be confirmed because, they are already claiming, of the blind loyalty of Republicans to their president. This attempt to taint the administration by misuse of the impeachment power, following the attempted overthrow of the elected administration by corruption of the Justice Department and almost certainly the intelligence services as well, must not be so gently discharged. Rejection by the majority in the Senate is not an adequate debunking of this abuse by the Democratic leadership of the House of Representatives of their offices. The country is at a turning point: routinize presidential impeachment or keep it as a last resort in extreme cases of wrongdoing. When the executive and the bare majority of one half of the legislative branch are so severely and antagonistically divided, the traditional tie-breaker is the judicial branch, and it should be consulted.

Only the impartial judgment of the third coequal branch of government can cure the system and both parties of this potentially terminal illness of degrading impeachment into a parliamentary non-confidence motion. This is not just the appropriation of a post-Watergate tendency into an accepted practice; it is a radical alteration of the Constitution without any explicit reinterpretation, much less a formal amendment. The House Democrats are following the sophisticated jurisprudential analysis of those renowned constitutional scholars Maxine Waters, Al Green, Jerry Nadler, and Adam Schiff, as well as Speaker Nancy Pelosi (blinking back tears of anguish at the solemnity of the House proceedings), that they can impeach for anything they don’t like.

The Democrats claim Trump exceeded his powers, without much specificity, and they accuse him of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with a proceeding that gave him none of the relevant rights accorded to defendants by the Bill of Rights. Their battle is not to remove the president, which they know to be impossible, but to be able to claim that half the Congress soberly thought his conduct in office was so dishonest that they “conscientiously” (Pelosi) believe he committed a crime that prevented him from having the moral and legal right to finish his term, and the Republican rejection already is billed as partisan cowardice by Republicans. When this clunker limps out of the House, after Pelosi has adequately whipped her congressional delegation to get it through the doubtless exacting filter of “their consciences,” the Senate should consider voting to send it to the Supreme Court, to determine whether what is afoot is just a naked attempt to embarrass a partisan opponent by attempting to incite public belief that President Trump may be guilty of a very serious offense, without actually alleging one or citing any evidence of one.

This is not just the attempted criminalization of policy differences but the defamatory rendering in legalese of the hatred, frustrations, snobbery, and psychiatric shortcomings and dysfunctions of the Democratic leadership. It is a mockery of the Constitution that should only have the legitimization of a hearing by the United States Senate if the one unimpeachable authority left in the American state, the Supreme Court, deems it necessary for this meritless case to be heard.

First published in National Review.

Posted on 12/23/2019 5:59 AM by Conrad Black
Monday, 23 December 2019
True Tales from the Annals of Adult-Onset Islam

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Arnoud van Doorn

Adult-onset Islam claims new victims frequently. Their stories are worth examining.

1. Heidi Hepworth

Heidi Hepworth, a 45-year-old British mother-of-nine, met a Gambian man, Mamadou’ Salieu’ Jallow,  32, online, and in November 2018 announced to the world — which saw fit to report it — that she had converted to Islam in order to marry her African lover, and was planning her dream wedding in a mosque in the Gambia. How long has she stayed there so far? She’s been there four times. But how long each time?

Heidi Hepworth told the Sun that the majority Muslim nation is “a happier and more caring place than Britain” as she prepares to wed her new beau.

If Heidi Hepworth thinks she was required to convert to Islam to marry “her African lover,” she has misunderstood — it is only the non-Muslim husbands of Muslim wives who are required to convert. But perhaps her future husband made her conversion a condition of their marriage. Or perhaps even without his asking, she just wanted to go that extra mile for him. There has been no news of Heidi since her big announcement, but let’s be sure to follow her continuing saga — surely she has changed her name to Noor or Medina or Asma when she went to live in the Gambia. How long did she stay there before she made her big decision? A week? Two weeks? What did she really know of the country? On what basis did she conclude that Gambia was a “happier and more caring place than Britain”? How likely is it that her husband has “beaten” her, as Qur’an 4:34 says he has a right to do, if she has been in any way disobedient, failed to cook and clean and follow her husband’s orders, as a good Muslim wife should? And has her true love taken other wives, as Islam allows, which Heidi Hepworth likely didn’t bargain for? Polygamy is widespread in Gambia. Did she know that? Did Mamadou perhaps already have another wife, or even several, of whom Heidi was blissfully unaware when she announced her impending marriage? And has she been required to wear a garment called the grandmuba, a cloth that covers a woman down to her feet and covers her arms all the way to her wrists? Perhaps that was fun at first — so exotic! — but for how long will it be before the novelty palls for dozy bint Heidi Hepworth? Her 32-year-old Gambian husband was no doubt counting on her to bring him a fat dowry or mahr, given that she’s British, and therefore, in Gambian eyes, she must be well off. Mamadou may have been in for a big disappointment.

One hopes that the press will once again report on the strange saga of Heidi Hepworth and her looking for love in all the wrong places. Her ex-husband of 23 years, with whom she had nine children, said that she had been “brainwashed” and called her “a buffoon.” He was too kind.

2. Arthur Wagner

Mr. Arthur Wagner is a German political figure of Russian heritage who began his public life as a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party. In a video published in 2017, he is shown saying that although he had once been an admirer of Mrs Merkel, her decision to open the door to hundreds of thousands of migrants during the 2015-16 crisis had proved he had been  “totally wrong” to support her.

So he joined the Alternativ fur Deutschland, AfV, the party which works to end Muslim immigration. Wagner became a top-tier member in a regional branch of that party, and he worried aloud that because of Merkel’s “open-door policy,” Germany would “mutate into another country.”

But then Wagner — who had been a devout Protestant — announced he had converted to Islam. What’s more, he admitted that he had contemplated converting to Islam as far back as 2015. It was in that year that he visited Ufa, a city in Russia that had a large population of Muslim Tartars. But what seems to have pushed him finally to convert to Islam was the fact that Protestant pastors had taken part in a gay rights parade in Berlin. “With children there! That’s just not right,” he said. One may well wonder why he did not choose to embrace another of the Protestant sects, as not all approve of same-sex marriage. Or why did he not look into the Catholic Church, which remains officially opposed to  homosexual marriage? Perhaps he wanted to convert to Islam precisely because it is so homophobic, with homosexuals even subject to the death penalty, usually by hanging or being thrown off a building, in a half-dozen Muslim countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia. To go from deploring a few Protestant pastors taking part in a parade in favor of homosexual marriage, to converting to Islam, a faith that harshly punishes, even mandates the killing of, homosexuals, is quite a leap.

Would it be fair to say that such an extreme reaction suggests there is something slightly off about the way Arthur Wagner thinks? He complains about the “moral decline” of the Protestant church, which is why he felt compelled to convert to Islam. What does he think of the moral standards of Islam, a faith that in the Qur’an commands Believers  to wage violent Jihad against Infidels, “smiting at their necks”? What does he make of the moral standards of Muslims, who regard Muhammad as “the Perfect Man” and “Model of Conduct,” even though he ordered the torture  of Kinana of Khaybar in order to find out where treasure was hidden, and then had Kinana killed; who was gratified to hear of the murders of three people who had mocked him — Asma bint Marwan, Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf, and Abu ‘Afak; who took part in the killing of 600-900 bound prisoners of the Banu Qurayza; who consummated his marriage to Aisha when she was nine years old? What does Arthur Wagner make of the moral standards of Islam, when Muhammad said that  “war is deceit” and proclaimed “I have been made victorious through terror”? Did Arthur Wagner convert without bothering to study the contents of the Qur’an and Hadith? Or was he carefully directed away from certain passages by Muslims guiding him in his conversion?  Or did he know all these violent passages in the Qur’an, and all of the disturbing details of Muhammad’s life in the Hadith, but didn’t care? No, there has been no “moral decline” in Islam, that’s for sure. Its peculiar “morality” has not changed, up or down, in 1,400 years.

One of the reasons (for the conversion) is tied to changes that have taken place in the church, which no longer reflects my values.Also sprach Arthur Wagner. So Islam now reflects his values? Does he now believe in such values as the requirement to wage Jihad until Islam everywhere dominates, and Muslims rule, everywhere? Does he now think Muslims are the “best of peoples” (3:110) and non-Muslims “the most vile of creatures” (98:6)?  Do those now reflect his values? Tell us, Arthur. Help us to understand.

Wagner has been taped discussing his conversion on The Deen Show, with Eddie Redzovic, who is both a loud propagandist for Islam and, fittingly, is also the owner of a martial arts business, teaching “Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.” Their exchange about Islam is worth a view. The one Qur’anic text cited in the video with Wagner and Redzovic in defense of the claim that Islam is fundamentally peaceful is — as you have no doubt guessed — the carefully abridged version of Surah 5:32, which is quoted as saying that “Whoever kills an innocent person it is as if he has killed all of humanity…” Left out, of course, are the exceptions in the full text that allow for killing: “if any one slew a person — unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.” It’s anyone’s guess as to what Arthur Wagner, and the Jiu-jitsu enthusiast for Islam Eddie Redzovic, think 5:32-5:33 means.

It will be fascinating to see if Arthur Wagner, who strikes me not as sinister but as a confused simpleton, makes any further adjustments to his view of the faith once he really begins — if he ever allows himself the mental freedom — to comprehend Islam. His spiritual journey promises to be a bumpy ride. Hold onto your seats.

3. Arnoud van Doorn

Arnoud van Doorn, when still  a member of Geert Wilders’s anti-Islam Dutch Freedom Party (PVV), made an anti-Islam movie, Fitna, for which he has been apologizing to Muslims ever since. The movie argued that Islam is prone to violence and bent on world domination. In an interview with the Saudi Gazette, van Doorn later said: “I have taken a solemn pledge to work day and night in the service of Islam to atone for my previous sins. I hope that Allah will accept my repentance and forgive me.”

Van Doorn was asked to leave the Freedom Party in 2011 — the reason is unclear — and several months later, in 2012, he converted to Islam. Take that, Geert Wilders. Soon after he made hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca Muslims are obliged to make at least once in their lifetimes.

Van Doorn is now the President of the European Da’wa Foundation. He has thus become not just a Muslim, but one whose life is entirely committed to promoting the faith. He receives a salary for this; donations come from Muslims around the world enchanted with his personal tale of conversion. At the same time, he is a salaried lawmaker serving on he Hague’s City Council for the Islamist Party for Unity.

Among the aspects of Islam that have apparently appealed to Arnoud van Doorn is its hostility to Jews. He has been accused of antisemitic remarks, including one about a Jewish Canadian who paid a ransom to free Yazidi and Christian hostages, and about whom van Doorn tweeted “To sell at a profit?” Called out on it, van Doorn claimed he had only been joking. Van Doorn has also described the failed coup in Turkey as the work of “Zionists.” Even Erdogan has not gone that far. On May 4, 2018, National Memorial Day in the Netherlands, when the more than 100,000 Dutch Jews murdered in the Holocaust were remembered, van Doorn said that Palestinians were equal to the victims of the Holocaust. He has also tweeted “May Allah exterminate the Zionists.” That was no joke. He has also tweeted that a day of fasting on Yom Kippur will not suffice to atone for Israel’s sins: “Israel celebrates Yom Kippur tomorrow. I’d make it a month. One day to reflect on all its errors and regret them is not enough.”

Arnoud van Doorn has sometimes been in trouble with the law. In February 2014, van Doorn was sentenced to pay a fine for leaking secret documents to the press, for possession of an illegal flare gun, and for selling soft drugs to minors. Van Doorn claimed to have sold the soft drugs in order to catch a drug dealer. The judge called his explanation “very implausible.”

Arnoud van Doorn is not a simpleton, like Arthur Wagner. He’s dangerously  smooth.. He’s created for Muslim buyers a product — Arnoud van Doorn  as a Revert to Islam — and sells it over and over again to appreciative audiences. They can’t get enough of it. A sinister figure, withal, is this shape-shifter, who has found his market niche, and is exploiting it to the fullest, for the cause that truly consumes him — the care and feeding of Arnoud van Doorn.

4. Maxence Buttey

Maxence Buttey, at the age of 22, was a member of Marine Le Pen’s anti-Islam Front National. That year,  2014, he announced his conversion to Islam and sent a video to party leaders praising the “visionary” qualities of the Qur’an and urging members of the FN to convert as well. He said he had decided to convert after lengthy discussions with the local imam, whom he met while campaigning for election earlier that year. Mr. Buttey, a councillor in the eastern Paris suburb of Noisy-le-Grand, said the Front National and Islam had much in common: “Both are demonised and very far from the image portrayed in the media,” he told Le Parisien newspaper. “Like Islam, the FN defends the weakest. The party denounces exorbitant interest rates charged on the debt of our country, and Islam is against the practice of usury.”

I wonder if this comment about usury just might have a subtext, carefully unstated, of antisemitism. For Maxence Buttey has also said that he found it difficult to believe the “official” version of the September 11 attacks. The main conspiracy-theory “unofficial” version just happens to put the blame for the attack on “the Jews,” and claims that no Jews working in the Twin Towers showed up for work that day. Buttey has also tried to cast doubt on what he calls the “Merah affair” in the south of France in 2012, an attack by a Muslim terrorist, Mohammed Merah, whose intended victims were Jews. Merah killed a rabbi and three small children, two of them rabbis, at a Jewish school in Toulouse. Is that why Buttey chose to “cast doubt” on that particular attack?

And one more detail: a French interviewer reported that Buttey was eager to read a book, The True Face of Manuel Valls, by the far-right (the real far-right) Emmanuel Ratier, accusing Manuel Valls of being far too pro-Israel. That theme seemed to excite Buttey.

Maxence Buttey wants us to know that he’s a nice kind of Muslim. The proof: “I am against the niqab [full-face veil],” he said. And he added that Islam did not call for believers “to cut off heads, as the Islamic State group does.” Whew. That’s a relief. Because otherwise, Mr. Buttey might be forced to start cutting off heads and clearly, as a “moderate,” he would prefer not to have to do that.

He notes that “I was Catholic, but when I reread the Bible I noticed all its inconsistencies. When I read the Koran thoroughly, I understood that this religion is more open.” It’s hard to know what “open” means here. Does it mean  that “it is less inconsistent than the Bible”? Does it mean “I haven’t a clue as to what to say, since I know the Qur’an is full of contradictions, but ‘open’ has a nice moderate tolerant ring to it”? Anyone who thinks the Qur’an is not full of inconsistencies needs, of course, to have his head examined. Muslims themselves recognized that  there are so many contradictions in the Qur’an that they had to come up with the interpretative doctrine of naskh, or abrogation. Does Maxence Buttey know that?

After Maxence Buttey was finally dismissed by the FN, its regional director Jordan Bardella descried Buttey as an “unstable boy, timid and with a limited ability to work in groups.”

In due course we’ll find out if Maxence Buttey turns into a full-fledged denouncer of Jews (that’s my hunch), or becomes even more confused about Islam than he already is, or simply sinks submissively into his chosen role of remaining a Muslim because he has found out — tiens! — that once you’re in, you can’t get out.

5. Shuhada Sadaqat

Sinead O’Connor some time ago announced to the world that she had converted to Islam, that she was no longer Sinead O’Connor, as she had been for roughly the first 50 years of her life, nor Sinead Davitt, nor soon after that, Magda Davitt (that Davitt period  of her existence lasted about a year), nor was she any longer Shuhada Davitt, whom she had been for about a month. No, she now was, and intended to remain, Shuhada Sadaqat.

Soon after announcing her conversion, she added, in that subliterate way that she thinks contributes to her rough charm, that “I never wanna spend time with white people” again. And who are these “white people”? They are those, she explained,  who are also called “non-Muslims.” So she never gonna wanna spend time ever again, see, with those “white people” (a.k.a. “non-Muslims”) whom she calls “disgusting.”

Where does this “disgust” with all non-Muslims (a.k.a. “white people”) come from? Most likely from the Qur’an. She learned that Muslims are “the best of peoples” (3:110). Her new Muslim friends, the ones who spotted her as a likely prospect, given her mental state, and helped convert her, no doubt would want her to know that verse. That’s got to have made her feel good. What’s more, they likely also taught her that all non-Muslims are “the most vile of creatures” (98:6). It’s in the Qur’an. That sentiment really appealed to her. It explained her own lifelong problems, such as her mother (“disgusting”), and so many other people, ex-husbands, ex-lovers, ex-collaborators — every man-jack of whom were, or are, non-Muslims and “white” (including Prince?) and therefore “disgusting.”

But it wasn’t just that all “white people” — that is, all non-Muslims — were “disgusting.” After she received many comments suggesting she had gone off the deep end, Shuhada Sadaqat added to her previous charge. Anybody who wasn’t a Muslim, she now said, was “mentally ill.”

Keeping all that in mind, consider her music career, such as it now is. In November 2018, Shuhada released an album she had recorded earlier in the year, when she was still Magda Davitt (no longer Sinead O’Connor and not yet Shuhada’ Sadaqat) with Ronnie Wood, Mick Mason, and Imelda May. All three of her collaborators were non-Muslims. Shouldn’t Shuhada now distance herself from that album, and tell the world she wants nothing to do with it, given that her three fellow musicians were all non-Muslims and, therefore, it turns out, “disgusting” white people and “mentally ill”? How is Shuhada Sadaqat going to make music,  when she discovers that Islam forbids the use of musical instruments? Shouldn’t she publicly distance herself not just from this latest album, and all previous albums, as having been an insult to Allah, made before she knew better? And from now on, won’t she want to avoid all non-Muslim, “white,” and therefore “disgusting” and “mentally ill” people, including the musicians she used to work with? Perhaps she’ll give up music altogether, as a good Muslim who follows Muhammad’s strictures on musical instruments, and devote her life instead to being a brand ambassador for Islam. There are deep-pocketed Muslims who might provide her with a generous stipend for doing such work.

I don’t know where this tragicomic tale of Shuhada/Magda/Sinead Davitt/O’Connor/Sadaqat goes from here. But surely there are many more surprises to come. Her adult-onset Islam is not likely to be the last stop on her spiritual journey. She’s a publicity hound, and needs to keep startling her audience. She sang the adhan, apparently unaware that women are forbidden to sing it, and her new Muslim friends did not remonstrate with her, for they wouldn’t want to risk offending their celebrity convert. She yearns for more followers on Twitter, and more friends on Facebook. She loves attention. Maybe she’ll change her mind yet again, and decide that “non-Muslims” — “white people” — aren’t so disgusting after all. Maybe she’ll decide that not all non-Muslims are “mentally ill.” Maybe she’s got even bigger surprises in store for us. Perhaps she’ll declare her admiration for Donald Trump. Or proclaim  her desire to marry Vladimir Putin. Or decide to become a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Zoroastrian. Maybe she’ll demand — and given this giddy globe she might well get — her own reality TV show. Or become a nun. Hold onto your seats. With Shuhada Sadaqat, anything is possible.

First published in Jihad Watch. 

Posted on 12/23/2019 5:42 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Monday, 23 December 2019
Is it too late to clear the antisemitism swamp?

Jewish pioneers cleared the swamps of the Galilee a hundred years ago, hoping naively to be left in peace in their own homeland. But how are we going to clear the swamp of antisemitism that has engulfed the world?

by Phyllis Chesler

Daily, Jews are being cursed, defamed, beaten, knifed, shot down, and bombed, both in Israel and around the world. Everywhere, weary scholars are publishing long lists of one incident after another—cemetery vandalisms, swastikas, Holocaust monuments defaced, Jewish students heckled and tormented on campuses, pro-Israel speakers dis-invited or shut down, “Jews to the Gas” chanted at sports events, boycotts of Israeli products and of Israeli professors, pro-Palestine/anti-Zionist marches and resolutions in almost every country on earth.

The world media has failed to connect the dots. Each incident is news without precedent, without context. No one notes that these incidents were inevitable given the massive number of Blood Libels that have infected the world—like a virus, a madness, for the last ninety years, a campaign which was accelerated the day after Israel won its war of self-defense in 1967.

Worthy colleagues write letters, draft petitions, bring lawsuits (which they sometimes win), pen passionate polemics, as Diane Weber Bederman has just done in The Serpent and the Red Thread: The Definitive Biography of Evil. Bederman tries to awaken the sleeping masses by quoting rather seamlessly from the Torah and the Prophets, and as such, has written a hasty but imaginative dirge, a poem, a mystical midrash, a great lament, one in which Abraham, Sarah, Issac, Yeshua, and Paul travel through time witnessing all that happens to the Jews.

The American FBI and the ADL both document the rise in hate crimes against American Jews which far exceeds hate crimes based on religion against any other group and which greatly exceed our existence in the population.

In the mid-1930s, both in Vienna and Berlin, Nazis starting beating Jews up on the streets and in parks. No one stopped them.

In 2019, elderly Orthodox Jewish men are being assaulted in “beat downs” in Brooklyn (my hometown), mainly by young black men, and I wonder if these visibly Jewish men will also be blamed as were the murdered Jews in Jersey City for daring to move in as a group to an all-black neighborhood, as if doing so was so provocative and aggressive an act that it deserved death. Jews Out! Jews Go Home! Ah, but when Jews are home in Israel, the entire world castigates us for taking over someone else’s land.

Back to Brooklyn, still in 2019.  What did that young Israeli Jewish girl do that was so wrong on the train from Tribeca into Brooklyn that could justify what the black Muslim woman unleashed? Her anti-Jewish curses, her repeated “Allahu Akbars,” followed by her breaking her would-be victim’s cellphone and then an all-out physical attack. I noted that the hater’s tongue flicked out malevolently to one side, a sign of evil (or so they say). To her credit, the young Israeli woman fought back, managed to record the altercation, pulled the emergency cord, and called the police.

In both the Jersey City attacks and the one on the train, one could argue that the Jew haters were mentally ill and had lived hard lives. But so what?  Perhaps their madness is precisely what empowered them to act out collective beliefs as individuals. But why scapegoat the Jews for their hard lives?

All over Europe Jews are also under siege. This time, the greatest, if not the only danger to Jewish life hails from sacralized Muslims of color, who are no longer in Muslim lands which are almost completely “judenrein,” but in Europe. This fact makes it difficult for the Western cognoscenti and glitterati to blame the murdering haters because of their color and because they have swallowed, hook, line, and sinker the false belief that something called “Islamophobia” exists.

In France, a Muslim Jew hater can torture-murder his elderly Jewish neighbor and get away with it as long as he’s smoked some marijuana first. So much for La Belle France. It is far easier to betray the Jews of Europe once again than to genuinely wrestle with one’s own history of colonialism and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim racism.

Thus far, Jews in Europe have been advised to remove their Jewish stars and kippahs, and make sure their synagogues are well guarded by armed men. Tell the truth about what’s happening (as Oriana Fallaci, Bat Ye’or, and Elisabeth Sabadischt-Wolf did in terms of Islam in Europe) and you risk being defamed and sued. Our own great truth-teller, Melanie Phillips (Londonistan), was just savaged by the organized Jewish world in the UK for telling the truth about Jew hating in the UK.

Increasingly, my eyes begin to glaze over, my blood pressure soars, and I often stop reading. Full Stop. This madness must end. We must end it. We must pre-empt the “narrative.” We must, like Ya’akov/Yisrael “come from behind” because that is where we are in terms of the cognitive war against the Jews.

I’ve been covering this War for fifty years, first as a speaker and as an activist and, for the last twenty years, as a writer driven by a force beyond my control.

I’ve grown weary and older and find myself still fighting back—and still barefoot, without having been issued a gun, ammunition, boots, a uniform, food—or a common strategy. I am exhausted by having been disbelieved, mocked, censored, and ostracized. And, I am not alone. There is a hardy band of us in this exact position.

Now, twenty years into this, some Jews see that we have a problem. Millions are being promised ($25 million to be exact, offered by Ronald Lauder and by Robert Kraft) to “combat anti-Semitism.” Revered Gentlemen: It is very late in the day and we will need far more in order to fund the various efforts of our best teams, and such teams do exist.

There is no end to what must be done, beginning with funding, distributing, and doing whatever it takes to compose new textbooks on racism that include Jew hatred and that make them mandatory reading; new courses in anti-Semitism and Israel, new courses in the history of Islam and then doing whatever it takes to make sure that they, too, are mandatory; forging anti-indoctrination curriculums that will take 50-100 years before they can begin to exert some influence over the media, human rights organizations, government leaders, leftists, and the Muslim world, etc.

This is trench warfare. This is clearing the swamps, inch by inch. There is no one quick fix.

What about our Jewish leadership? Where have they been? Most have spent the last twenty years focused on white, right-wing Nazi Jew haters, have been too politically correct, and overly sensitive to the sorrows of recent immigrants, to note from whence the danger cometh. How do we re-educate our leaders? Failing that, how do we replace them, and in time to make a difference? How do we insure that this time round, we do not give up our religious brethren or our Israeli brethren? And that we do not surrender ourselves?

Finally—finally, even some left-wing American Jews are a bit frightened, on edge, and are asking the kinds of questions that we all should have been asking fifteen or twenty years ago—maybe seventy years ago if we hadn’t been living in such a “goldene medina” at such a golden time in history.

Now, a few more of us can hear the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse at full gallop.

This just in from a very liberal friend who was born in hiding in Europe and grew up in a DP camp. “Now I’m really getting frightened. My kids and grandkids all look very Jewish. Black hats. Payes. Sheitels. The works.”

This, from another non-religious friend. “This is wild. How can we stop this?”

This, from a former shul mate: “How did you know this would be happening? Are you some kind of psychic, a prophet, maybe a witch?”

Ah, you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing...

Hannukah Sameach—our holiday which celebrates both military might and divine intervention. We need both.

First published in Israel National News

Posted on 12/23/2019 5:24 AM by Phyllis Chesler
Monday, 23 December 2019
Islamist extremists hold Sharia trials and groom young Muslims in British prisons

From the Times, The Daily Mail the Daily Star and The Sun

ISLAMIST extremists are holding Sharia trials in British prisons and grooming young Muslim inmates, a probe found. Punishment beatings have been dished out and banned books have circulated, prompting security experts to seek a review of terrorist radicalisation in jails.

An ex-prisoner claimed he took part in punishment beatings and Sharia courts with a group of prisoners who pledged allegiance to Isis.

Last night security experts called for an urgent review into radicalisation in British jails.

A former prisoner, who spoke to The Times, said he was recruited at HMP Woodhill, Milton Keynes, by a group which included a follower of the hate preacher Anjem Choudary and claimed that he had access to recordings of talks by the al-Qaeda ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki.

The ex-prisoner, who is in his 20s and used the pseudonym Jack, said his former inmates have contacted him offering to help him travel to Syria. He said it was by a group which included a follower of the hate preacher Anjem Choudary and claimed that he had access to recordings of talks by the al-Qaeda ideologue Anwar al-Awlaki. The other hardliners were inmates who had been converted in prison and had histories of violent offending.

The man, who is in his 20s and free on licence, said he found himself sitting in judgment at a cell-block court over two other prisoners who had supposedly disrespected Islam by drinking alcohol. He said that one of the men in the room, Brusthom Ziamani, 24, who was jailed in 2015 for plotting to behead a British army cadet, called for a punishment beating, which then took place.

A description of the sharia trial follows

In a prison cell at HMP Woodhill, the walls of which were lined with religious posters and family photographs, Brusthom Ziamani, 24, a jailed terrorist, and another prisoner, a convicted murderer, sat with two young inmates. Another man, then aged 24 and who will be referred to by the pseudonym Jack, arrived at the door and squeezed into the cramped room. The murderer, a broad, muscular man we have called M, greeted Jack with a bear hug and instructed him to stand beside Ziamani.

These three converts to a warped and extremist brand of Islam had formed a self-styled Sharia court to sit in judgment on the two other prisoners sitting cross-legged on the floor.

The accused were made to stand and announce their names before M told them they had been brought before his court for “disgracing the month of Ramadan”. He said: “You were caught drinking alcohol yesterday evening by the brothers. Due to the overwhelming evidence against you, we find you guilty despite your pleas of innocence.”

M sat for a moment, read an extract from the Koran and stood again. “The brothers will decide your punishment. A hundred lashes or a beating?”

Ziamani abruptly called for a beating. Jack agreed and the two “guilty” men were punched and kicked until “the smaller one couldn’t open his eye, it was swollen completely shut, so we made him tell the screws he had fallen down the stairs”.

He also told how he fell in with extremists after being approached by the “overbearing” self-appointed prison “emir” as he waited in the chaplaincy department for Friday prayers to begin. 

Jack claimed that Ziamani would “patrol” their block to make sure that nobody was breaking fasting rules during Ramadan. Ziamani had, in his own words, appointed himself “chief of the Sharia police”.

Others Jack said he met at Woodhill included Forhad Rahman, who was jailed for funding acts of terror, and Mohammad Saud, 29, jailed for conspiring to commit a terror attack. He also met Khobaib Hussain, one of the “three musketeers” who plotted to behead a soldier.

It was the start of a three-month-long radicalisation process which, Jack claims, included private lessons, in-cell Sharia courts and taxing prison drug dealers. 

The lessons began with M telling Ziamani and Jack to take notes. M lectured them about how the Queen was a false monarch and an enemy of Islam who should be fought to the death. “Allah is the only monarch,” he declared.

From a cardboard box filled with papers and photographs, M allegedly offered Jack a copy of the book Milestones by the Egyptian Islamic scholar Sayyid Qutb. M explained that the book was banned in jail because it was “the inspiration for the 9/11 attacks”.

One evening in July 2016 Jack was in his cell when Ziamani began pounding the wall and telling him to turn on his television. The Nice attacks had just occurred and Ziamani was celebrating. Jack said that he felt sickened.The following morning Ziamani arrived at his cell with a bag of Haribo to celebrate the news that Isis had killed 86 “non-believers”.

Prison officials began to realise that Jack was being groomed by the cell block radicals. “A prison officer approached me and told me that I was making the wrong friends and the wrong people had noticed,” he said. He was transferred out of Woodhill and moved several more times before his eventual release. Jack is now out of prison on licence. He says that he has retained his faith in Islam but has rejected the extremism that tempted him while in prison.

Richard Walton, former head of Scotland Yard’s Counter Terrorism Command, and Ian Acheson, who led a previous review of jail extremism, said that reforms to tackle the problem had stalled and the ability of the Prison Service to deal with it was in question. Professor Acheson’s 2016 report described Islamist extremism in jails as a “growing problem” and outlined measures to counter it. His ideas have met with resistance, however.

Mr Walton said “Regrettably, it is not uncommon for covert counterterrorism investigations to start within prisons — they provide a conducive environment for the most hardline convicted Islamists to plot and conspire.”

The number of prisoners describing themselves as Muslim has increased significantly in the past 20 years. This year there were 13,000 Muslim inmates in England and Wales, making up 16 per cent of the prison population. 

There is, or was, a power struggle between followers of Islamic State and those who favoured Al Qaeda. 

Brusthom Ziamani, 24, defected from a group at HMP Woodhill in Milton Keynes who supported Islamic State to join prisoners supporting al-Qaeda. The Isis group was said to have been led by Simeon Nicholls, 29, who allegedly said: “Woodhill is an Islamic State prison and AQ are not welcome here.”

Posted on 12/23/2019 2:42 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 22 December 2019
Portuguese connection - London - Syria - ISIS

I noticed several stories in the news this week with tantalising snippets of information. I remembered reports about 5 years ago of Portuguese men, some converts to Islam, living in East London and recruiting for ISIS. From, ITV News, ABC News International, the Sunday Times and the Daily Mail

On Wednesday - Prosecutors in Portugal say they are bringing terror charges against eight Portuguese men suspected of fighting for the Islamic State group in Syria. 

Prosecutors said in a statement the men were suspected of involvement in the 2012 kidnapping by the group of British war correspondent John Cantlie and Dutch photographer Jeroen Oerlemens. The case was opened in 2013 after Portuguese authorities received information about the kidnappings from British authorities. Over the past six years investigators have traced the radicalization and movements of the men, the statement said.

They converted to Islam and joined Islamic State group, the statement said, and traveled to Syria with their wives and children. Two of them are in Portugal and have been interrogated, the statement said. The whereabouts of the other six wasn't known.

A couple of them turn out to be living round the corner in East London to where I grew up. The previous week ITV news had already reported that:-

An east London man who joined so-called Islamic State was behind a recruitment network of Portuguese jihadists which helped to recruit young British men and deliver them to the battlefield in Syria.

Nero Saraiva, a Portuguese national who became a permanent resident in the UK, travelled to Syria in 2012 where he continued to organise a recruitment operation using friends who stayed behind in Europe and money raised in London through fraud. The network targeted young men in Lisbon and London, including one “petty criminal” who was arrested during the riots in 2011, according to an investigation carried out by ITV News in conjunction with Portuguese magazine SÁBADO.

Although the importance of the Portuguese cell within so-called Islamic State is well known, their role recruiting British men and evidence of sophisticated tactics they used can only now be revealed.

Saraiva’s work in Syria was supported in Lisbon by friends including brothers Celso and Edgar Rodrigues da Costa, who later went to Syria to fight. They are thought to have married London twins Reema and Zara Iqbal while living under so-called Islamic State. CCTV images contained in a Portuguese police file and seen by ITV News appear to show members of the network at work during the summer of 2013. Reema and Zara Iqbal were transported to Syria while one was heavily pregnant, with the help of a fixer called “Mr Penguin”.

A brother of the sisters, Ahsan, is revealed as a key suspect in the first kidnapping of John Cantlie, the British photojournalist who is still missing.

Today - Cassimo Ture is a suspected member of the so-called 'Leyton Cell', an alleged Portuguese gang in east London which has been linked to notorious terrorist Jihadi John and to the kidnapping of British journalist John Cantlie. Ture, 44, is accused by the Portuguese authorities of helping fighters and jihadi brides from Britain travel to Isis’s former “caliphate” in a scheme allegedly financed by a mass student loans and social services fraud. Ture, a jobless father who moved to the UK from Portugal in about 2005, is alleged to have carried a logbook containing the names of all the bogus claimants.

A 218-page indictment filed by Portuguese prosecutors accuses Ture of 'providing fundamental support to terrorist organisations' and 'rejoicing' in terrorist activities with his fellow gang members.  

His brother, Sadjo Ture, is also a suspected gang member and twice travelled to the Middle East, it is believed. 

Several of the gang members are dead but Cassimo is still living in London with a wife and son, receiving jobseeker's allowance and child benefit, The Times reports. He was identified last week by prosecutors in Lisbon as a suspected member of an eight-man cell from east London who participated in “global jihad”.

A 218-page indictment, seen by The Sunday Times, officially links the men for the first time to the “Beatles” kidnap and beheading gang fronted by Mohammed Emwazi, the Isis killer known as Jihadi John. 

The dossier also says the youngest cell member, Fabio Pocas, became a military instructor for Isis and trained 1,000 recruits in three months. The Portuguese investigation is likely to make uncomfortable reading for British counterterrorism chiefs. Pocas made it to Syria despite previously being stopped at Luton airport with £2,600 and five mobile phones.

Another cell member, CassimoTure’s younger brother, Sadjo, travelled to the Middle East warzone after twice being investigated and released on police bail.

The fact that CassimoTure is living freely in east London after being accused of terrorism offences in Portugal will raise further concern — even though he is almost certain to be under surveillance by the security services.

Above, left Cassimo Ture and right Nero Saraiva

Ture was later seen at a friend’s council flat nearby. “He’s been coming here quite often over the past couple of months,” said a source. “Last time I saw him, he was trying to persuade a visiting nurse to convert to Islam.”

Ture, who has regularly travelled between London and his native Lisbon, is believed to receive jobseeker’s allowance. He has a young son with his wife, and the family is entitled to housing benefit and child benefit.

This newspaper — aided by Portuguese journalists at Expresso and Sabado — first revealed the existence of the east London Isis cell in 2015 after it emerged that six friends had travelled to Syria. 

They included Pocas, Ture’s younger brother, Sadjo, and two other siblings, Edgar and Celso Rodrigues da Costa. The men were led by Nero Saraiva, whose social media posts showed advance knowledge of the beheading by Jihadi John in August 2014 of James Foley, an American photojournalist.

The alleged logistical roles played by Ture and a third da Costa brother, Romulo — who had both remained in London — was not known until the publication last week of the Portuguese indictment. Romulo da Costa, 40, a hip-hop music producer, was detained this year on a visit to Lisbon and remains in custody in Portugal. He denies wrongdoing.

Five of the six men from east London who joined Isis have since been killed in fighting. Saraiva, the only survivor, was captured this year in Baghuz, Syria, where the terrorist group made its last stand.

The Iqbal sisters, who now have five children in total, are being held in Kurdish-controlled detention camps for jihadi brides in northern Syria.

Reema previously told this newspaper that they had done nothing wrong and claimed she wanted to return to the UK because she missed fish and chips. However, the Portuguese indictment provides the first official confirmation — after reports in The Sunday Times in March — that the sisters have been stripped of their British citizenship.

The files also disclose how the group was radicalised by the lectures of Anwar al-Awlaki, a notorious al-Qaeda idealogue, and praised the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, who was murdered outside army barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, in 2013.

Posted on 12/22/2019 10:31 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 22 December 2019
I warned of risk from London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan — and was ignored

From the Sunday Times and the Mail on Sunday

The former police sergeant, who is not being named for security reasons, is also a Muslim and was mentoring Usman Khan through the government’s desistance and disengagement programme (DDP).

The mentor, who cannot be named for security reasons, says Khan, 27, seemed sincere about abandoning his extremist views and helping to deradicalise other prisoners when they first met last November, at Whitemoor prison in Cambridgeshire.

...the mentor recalled how he met Khan twice a week for two-hour sessions between December 2018 and March this year - and that during one meeting, he noticed a sudden and aggressive mood swing.    

He said: 'During the meeting, he went from being measured and calm to suddenly being enraged about something he claimed the probation services weren't allowing him to do.'

Khan had supposedly become frustrated over the licence conditions that had been imposed on him, which included an electronic monitoring tag, curfew and supervised internet access.

The mentor added that Khan then very swiftly 'self-corrected' his behaviour and calmed down, leading the former Scotland Yard officer to believe he had a 'suspiciously rehearsed' persona. 

Despite raising his concerns over Khan's behaviour and that he still held extremist views, the mentor said no action by the Home Office or probation service was taken.

'He should not have been released from prison,' the officer added. 'What the hell happened between March and November, and how the hell has nobody seen the warning signs?'

He said that he had revealed the incident in his session assessment report, which was sent to the Home Office and the probation service, but he heard nothing back.

The Home Office, however, contacted him immediately after the London Bridge terrorist attack on November 29, when Khan killed two people and injured three others — but only to advise him against speaking to the media.

“The Home Office called me and said, ‘It’s likely the media will be in contact with you but we recommend that you don’t comment’,” the officer said.

He said has decided to go public with his story for the first time because he was devastated by the deaths of Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt: “[Khan] targeted the most innocent people. And they did not see him as a former terrorist but as someone they believed was able to reform.”

He said he was ready to debrief the police and security services: “I am prepared to speak to people in authority to ensure that lessons are learnt and that no more innocent lives are lost as a result of terrorist acts. The ideology needs to be challenged without fear of being too politically correct.”

The former Scotland Yard officer was used to mentoring convicted terrorists when he met Usman Khan at Whitemoor prison, Cambridgeshire, in November last year.

The mentor added: “He should not have been released from prison. You can’t deal with former terrorist offenders the same way you treat other criminals. Other prisoners have been convicted based on behaviours such as theft, robberies and so on. But terrorism acts are based on an ideology, which to their interpretation rewards them for evil acts against non-believers. . . "

The mentor said the DDP scheme was a failure because it prioritised former terrorist inmates “complying with licence conditions” instead of focusing on their ideological views and extremist beliefs. After 20 years at the Met, the former officer knew how to spot criminals. He also worked with mental health patients and after leaving the police in 2012 he was a social worker.

“I had so much knowledge, skills and experience and I identified [the red flag] and nothing was done,” he said. “And the reason it wasn’t done is that the system — TUI, the police and probation — were all working independently and we were not targeting what we were supposed to be doing, which is to challenge ideology. To sit someone down for two hours at a time to sort out their CV and not challenge their ideology; to sort out their universal credit and not challenge their ideology — what we don’t want is the same thing to happen again.”

Posted on 12/22/2019 9:54 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 22 December 2019
The Trump Executive Order and Antisemitism

by Michael Curtis  

Sometimes I wonder why I spend the lonely night dreaming of an end to discrimination. The fantasy haunts my reverie.

It is a sad reality that antisemitism and antisemitic incidents in the U.S., as in a number of European countries, have increased in recent years. Shooting Jews in Jersey City, NJ, in San Diego and Pittsburgh, hate crimes in New York City and Poway, assaults on Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, attacks on synagogues and Jewish community centers, graffiti painted over posters of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, board members of the Women's March culpable of antisemitic remarks are the new normal. Most deplorable is the predicament that Jewish students continue to face harassment in schools, colleges, and universities. 

On December 11, 2019 President Donald Trump issued an "Executive Order on Combatting Antisemitism" largely aimed at fighting antisemitism on college campuses. Symbolically, he signed it at a Hanukkah reception in the White House. He regarded it as a "very powerful document." This, he explained, is "our message to universities. If you want to accept the tremendous amount of federal dollars that you get every year, you must reject antisemitism."
The order is based on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that prohibits discrimination on the ground of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.  Title VI does not cover discrimination based on religion, but individuals who are members of a group sharing common religious practices may be protected from discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin. 
The Trump executive order states that the policy of the executive branch shall be to enforce Title VI against prohibited forms of discrimination rooted in antisemitism as vigorously as against all other forms of discrimination prohibited by Title VI. 
The order also calls on official agencies to consider using the definition of antisemitism of the IHRA, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which, among other things, includes extreme criticism of Israel, such as that the existence of the State of Israel is a "racist endeavor," as antisemitism.  Israel is not mentioned in the executive order, but the order clearly indicates a policy of outlawing extreme statements aimed at the elimination of the State of Israel.
Before the exact text of the order was published, critics, including the New York Times, responded, saying that Trump by placing Jews in the "national origin" group, was defining Jews as a separate nation.  But the order did no such thing. It did not classify Jews as a separate nationality group. In any case, civil law already forbids discrimination on the basis of "national origin." It also protects members of groups that have both ethnic and religious characteristics such as Jewish Americans and Arab Muslims. Jared Kushner in an op-ed explained the executive order saying it merely says that to the extent that Jews are discriminated against for ethnic, racial, or national characteristics they are entitled to protection by the anti-discrimination law.
The concept of "nation" is not easy to define. Are the Basques or Catalans nations? "Jews" are particularly difficult to define, considering they may embrace factors such as religion, ethnic, tribe, and individual assessment.  The issue goes back to Genesis, 12.2 where the Lord tells Abram, "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great." Jews may not necessarily be defined by race or religion. In one case Jews may be part of a mixed racial group. In another, non-religious observant Jews are still considered Jews. In a third factor Hebrew is the official language of the State of Israel, but it is not the main language of many other Jews.
In essence in what is tantamount to self-determination, Jews belong to a nation if they think they do, and that identity will include cultural, historic, and linguistic factors among others. A remarkable statement on this came from the renowned and highly honored English philosopher Sir Isaiah Berlin who said, "I am a Russian Jew from Riga, and all my years in England cannot change that. That is how I was born, and that is who I will be to the end of my life."
The Trump executive order does not refer to Jewish nationality, but only indirectly to "national origin" by referring to the Civil Rights Act. That concept is not officially defined but is based, as in the case of Isaiah Berlin, on a nation from which persons originate, regardless of the state in which they currently reside. This is not equivalent to nationality which denotes people with a legal connection and personal allegiance to a specific place. A more encompassing reference to nationality would be to ethnicity, cultural and ancestral descent.
Jews have always been divided politically, economically, socially, ideologically. Nevertheless, research has shown a continuous genetic link between Ashkenazi Jews and the Middle East, thus illustrating that they descended from Jews who fled the area after the Muslim conquest in the seventh century. Jews remained in the area even after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70.
Jews and Judaism are trouble makers for comprehensive definition. They may not fit comfortably in any definitive definition of nation, race, or religion, as Arnold Toynbee once argued, but they are not "living fossils," as he also said. Judaism has been expressed in many forms from the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Karaites to the Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox today, differing on the interpretation of Jewish law, authority of tradition, and on the State of Israel. Clearly, Jews were an ethnic and religious group in their origin in the Middle East.  They can in this sense be termed a nation, because of that common religion, history, and culture, though not citizens of a state except 2000 years ago and in Israel today.
Irrespective of any agreed definition of "nation" or even "national origin," the Trump executive order did not classify Jews as a "nationality," thus avoiding any charge of double loyalty, as Rep. Ilhan Omar has insinuated, or abandoning any belied in universalism.
It is evident that much of the criticism of the executive order stems from inherent antagonism to the State of Israel.  On May 26, 2016, the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, IHRA, in Budapest proposed a working definition of antisemitism, a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. The definition includes Holocaust denial, and antisemitism relating to Israel, applying a double standard to actions of Israel. On June 1, 2017 the European Parliament called on members of the EU to adopt and apply that definition. 
The IHRA definition was adopted in the U.S.  In 2004 , Ken Marcus, then as now in the office of the Civil Rights unit, wrote that the office was aggressively investigating alleged race or ethnic harassment against Arab Muslims, Sikh, and Jewish students, who could be subject to discrimination on grounds of race or ethnicity. Again in 2010 , Thomas Perez wrote that discrimination against Jews, Muslims, Sikh and members of   other religious groups violated Title VI when that discrimination is based on the group's actual or perceived shared ancestry   or ethnic characteristics, rather than its members' religious practice. 
The U.S. Senate on June 13, 2019 unanimously passed a bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Tim Kaine, that the Department of Education should "take into consideration" the definition of IHRA as part of the Department's assessment of whether any practice was motivated by antisemitic intent. Antisemiitism, it held, was a unique form of prejudice stretching back millennia that attacks the equal humanity of the Jewish people.
 The bill tries to illustrate the issue by showing useful examples of discriminatory conduct that crosses the line into antisemitism: prohibition of land ownership, BDS and campaigns to boycott of destroy Jewish businesses, denial of the ability of Jews to practice certain professions, limitations on admission to certain educational institutions, and other barriers to equal justice under the law. 
The bill resolved that the United States should be committed to combatting all forms of antisemitism. That commitment should be made by the U.S. House of Representatives. One understands that the House, especially Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Jerrod Nadler, and  is preoccupied with fantasies of collusion with foreign powers but it is disheartening that the House has been unable to pass a resolution similar as that of the Senate straightforwardly and directly condemning antisemitism. 
Posted on 12/22/2019 5:50 AM by Michael Curtis
Saturday, 21 December 2019
LadBaby beats Stormzy to achieve his second Christmas number one in a row with I Love Sausage Rolls

A little light relief from the serious business of elections, Brexit, rape gang trials and terrorist attacks (foiled or not) 

From the Metro

The Christmas number one for 2019 has been revealed – and for the second year in a row, we’ve all gone crazy for sausage rolls. LadBaby has managed to see off competition from Stormzy to achieve the Christmas number one with his festive track, I Love Sausage Rolls – a savoury take on Joan Jett’s I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The YouTuber, real name Mark Hoyle, his wife Roxanne and their two sons Phoenix and Kobe scored a huge 93,000 chart sales – that 18,000 more than the 2018 Christmas number one from LadBaby, We Built This City (On Sausage Rolls). I missed that last year - I was somewhat distracted with other matters

While some may be a bit miffed that a song about sausage rolls has beat Stormzy (not me! - yippee) to the number one crown, it’s all for a fantastic cause. The Trussell Trust, who organise foodbanks but hope to eradicate their need in due course. 

I'm chuckling with joy at the video. A celebration of one of my favourite foods (pork sausage; only a bacon sandwich is above sausage in the heirarchy of English savoury snacks, in my opinion), a caper set in London, by people with my own accent. What's not to like? But I expect some will have a moan. To which I say, shut yer cakehole (a sausage roll is just the right size) 


Posted on 12/21/2019 8:02 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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