Thursday, 31 December 2020
The ‘intolerance and animosity’ that Muslims exhibit toward non-Muslims is not new — it’s 1,400 years old
by Hugh Fitzgerald
The Palestinian Christian Bishara Bahbah paints a grim picture of the lot of Christians in Hamas-ruled Gaza, but at the same time he misleadingly describes a pollyannish version of how Palestinian Christians live in the PA-ruled parts of the West Bank. In this version, Christians get along swimmingly with their Muslim “friends and neighbors.” The truth is very different.
As part of his attempt to whitewash the treatment of Christians in the PA, Bahbah refers to the Pact of Umar as having “guaranteed rights and spelled out obligations” of Christians in a Muslim-dominated land. He maintains that “the pact primarily represents the commitment of Muslims to respect and protect the religious and property rights of Christians and Jews.” Many scholars believe the Pact of Umar to be a later fabrication, but whatever the truth of when it was composed, and by whom, it is hardly a commitment by Muslims to “respect and protect” the religious and property rights of non-Muslims. It is, rather, an exhaustive list of what non-Muslims must do if they wish to remain alive and able to practice their faith, in a Muslim polity.
Here is the list:
- Prohibition against building new churches, places of worship, monasteries, or a new cell. It was also forbidden to build new synagogues.
- Prohibition against rebuilding destroyed churches by day or night, in their own neighborhoods or those situated in the quarters of the Muslims.
- The worship places of non-Muslims must be lower in elevation than the lowest mosques in town.
- The houses of non-Muslims must not be taller in elevation than the houses of Muslims.
- Prohibition against hanging a cross on the Churches.
- Muslims should be allowed to enter Churches (for shelter) in any time, both in day and night.
- Obliging the call of prayer by a bell or a kind of Gong (Nakos) to be low in volume.
- Prohibition of Christians and Jews against raising their voices at prayer times.
- Prohibition against teaching non-Muslim children the Qur’an.
- Christians were forbidden to show their religion in public, or to be seen with Christian books or symbols in public, on the roads or in the markets of the Muslims.
- Palm Sundayand Easter parades were banned.
- Funerals should be conducted quietly.
- Prohibition against burying non-Muslim dead near Muslims.
- Prohibition against raising a pig next to a Muslim neighbour.
- Christians were forbidden to sell Muslims alcoholic beverages.
- Christians were forbidden to provide cover or shelter for spies.
- Prohibition against telling a lie about Muslims.
- Obligation to show deference toward Muslims. If a Muslim wishes to sit, non-Muslims should rise from their seats and let the Muslim sit.
- Prohibition against preaching to Muslims in an attempt to convert them from Islam.
- Prohibition against preventing the conversion to Islam of some one who wants to convert.
- The appearance of the non-Muslims has to be different from those of the Muslims: Prohibition againstwearing Qalansuwa (kind of dome that was used to wear by Bedouin), Bedouin turban (Amamh), Muslims shoes, and Sash to their waists. As to their heads, it was forbidden to comb the hair sidewise as is the Muslim custom, and they were forced to cut the hair in the front of the head. Non-Muslims shall not imitate the Arab-Muslim way of speech nor shall they adopt the kunyas (Arabic byname, such as “abu Khattib”).
- Obligation to identify non-Muslims as such by clipping the heads’ forelocks and by always dressing in the same manner, wherever they go, with binding the zunnar (a kind of belt) around the waists. Christians to wear blue belts or turbans, Jews to wear yellow belts or turbans, Zoroastrians to wear black belts or turbans, and Samaritans to wear red belts or turbans.
- Prohibition against riding animals in the Muslim custom, and prohibition against riding with a saddle
- Prohibition against adopting a Muslim title of honour.
- Prohibition against engraving Arabic inscriptions on signet seals.
- Prohibition against any possession of weapons.
- Non-Muslims must host a Muslim passerby for at least 3 days and feed him.
- Non-Muslims prohibited from buying a Muslim prisoner.
- Prohibition against taking slaves who have been allotted to Muslims.
- Prohibition against non-Muslims to lead, govern or employ Muslims.
- If a non-Muslim beats a Muslim, his Dhimmi protection is removed.
- In return, the Muslim ruler will provide security for the Christian believers who follow the rules of the pact.
Who, reading this list, thinks that in today’s “Palestine” (i.e., Gaza and P.A. territories), the Pact of Umar “primarily represents the commitment of Muslims to respect and protect the religious and property rights of Christians and Jews”? It’s a list that puts the Christians firmly in their permanently inferior place, where they must strictly adhere to dozens of rules that stress their inferiority to Muslims, or if not, they lose their security, which can mean they may be killed. Of course, most of these restrictions are no longer imposed, but the atmospherics they created long ago – that is, an attitude of Muslim contempt for Christians that has lasted as long as Islam itself – remains, and explains why Christians in Muslim lands are never treated as equals, but subject still to a host of disabilities and threats. Think of how Christians in Pakistan, in Nigeria, in Egypt, in Iran all live in fear of Muslim neighbors. And how could Muslim attitudes be different, given that the Qur’an teaches them that they are “the best of peoples” (3:110) while non-Muslims are “the most vile of created beings.”?
I recall when I was growing up in the Old City of Jerusalem, Ramadan was one of our favorite holidays. We shared food with our Muslim neighbors; we watched the best Arabic soap operas together; and we loved to hear the voice of the Mussaher, the person who goes around before sunrise to wake people up to have their meal before the fast begins. And I remember the good wishes of our Muslim friends and neighbors when we celebrated Christmas.
Bishara Bahbah may have fond childhood memories of growing up in a mixed neighborhood, where the Christians shared Ramadan meals with Muslims and Muslims offered “good wishes” at Christmas to their Christian friends, but he makes too much of this. Such anecdotal evidence proves only that some Muslims he knew were willing to violate the Qur’anic injunction against taking Christians as friends, and the rule that they not recognize – even in a greeting – the religious holidays of Infidels. But he surely knows there are hundreds of millions of Muslims who would not be so accommodating, and it is they, not those childhood “Muslim friends and neighbors” who offered good wishes at Christmas, who are islamically correct.
Hamas, to you I say, we Palestinian Christians have always been an integral part of Palestinian society. We are part and parcel of the fabric of the country. We love our land and nation more than you ever will. You serve a foreign power, Iran, smuggling in useless arms and firing them at your masters’ command.’’
Bishara is not wrong to link Hamas to Iran, which now provides it with missiles and rockets. But his repeated insistence that “Palestinian Christians have always been an integral part of Palestinian society” is wishful thinking. If they had always been an “integral part” of Palestinian society, they would not have been the objects of so many attacks on churches, pastors, Christian faithful. They would not be leaving the PA territories and Gaza in such numbers.
Your bigoted attitude toward Palestinian Christians disqualifies you as a legitimate political party in Palestinian politics. Your zealotry brought intolerance and animosity among our people. Come what may, we will liberate the people of Gaza – both Muslims and Christians – from your despotic clutches. Those who supported you shall be cast out as traitors and racist collaborators. You have lost all semblance of legitimacy in the eyes of the Palestinian people and the world. You represent no one but your pitiful selves.
It is a shame there is no land bridge between the West Bank and Gaza that would allow Palestinian security forces to march into Gaza and forcibly rid it of the cancer called Hamas. And those who support and finance you and those who train you and harbor your leaders are as guilty as you are.
Let it be a lesson to anyone who tries to insult, marginalize or belittle Palestinian Christians, whether from within or from outside: The day will come when Palestinians – Muslims and Christians and many people around the world – will rid Gaza from you and your tyranny.
Oh, and Merry Christmas.
It pleases Bishara Bahbah to believe that it is only Hamas in Gaza that has managed to spoil the warm relations between Palestinian Christians and Muslims. The “intolerance and animosity” that Muslims exhibit toward non-Muslims is not new — it’s 1,400 years old. His fantastical belief – assuming he really has convinced himself of this — that Palestinian Muslims and Christians have always gotten along swimmingly until Hamas came along to spoil, in Gaza, that historic harmony, is false. There are many facts that tell a different tale of Christian-Muslim relations.
Here are some of those facts:
Nablus was home to more than 3,000 Christians just 40 years ago; now there are only 700 left in the city.
Tulkarm had a community of 2,000 Christians 30 years ago; it now numbers 12 families. “We are preparing to move abroad to a place where we can live a better life as said Reverend Dahoud Dimitry, head of Tulkarm’s Saint George Greek Orthodox Church, which was burned to the ground in the September 2006 riots following the publications of the Muhammad cartoons in Danish newspapers.
The Christian population of Bethlehem has fallen to 14% of the population, from 85% in the1950s, to 40% in 1997, to 14% today.Christians in that city still have not forgotten the siege of the 1,400-year-old Church of the Nativity, the birthplace of Jesus, by 100 militiamen loyal to PA Chairman Yasser Arafat in 2002. The Muslim terrorists held dozens of Christians hostage, including priests and nuns, desecrated bibles, emptied the church coffers, and lit sections of the centuries-old church on fire. The former mayor of the city, Hanna Nasser, has bluntly predicted that “There is no future for Christians in Bethlehem.”
Reverend Tomey Dahoud, head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Taubus, a city near Jenin, has said:. “The Islamic people want to kill us. That’s their principle and belief. They don’t want Christians in this country. They don’t want to hear our names; they don’t want to see us. That’s the reality.” His church was firebombed in the September 2006 riots.
Even in Ramallah, which is considered the most liberal city under Palestinian control, threats against Christians are commonplace. Pastor Isa Bajalia, an evangelical Arab-American pastor, who had been living in Ramallah since 1991 with his wife and son, was threatened repeatedly by a Fatah security official from the Tanzim militia. The official demanded $30,000 for protection. As a result of the threats, Bajalia was forced to flee to Jerusalem, where he lives safely under Israeli rule.
Relations between Palestinian Christians and Muslims – despite what Bishara Bahbah wants us to believe, have steadily deteriorated not just in Gaza, but also under PA rule.
Bahbah is correct in maintaining that the situation for Christians in Gaza has been especially precarious since Hamas took control in January 2006, with the imposition of shari’ah, or Islamic, law. Attacks against Christians have become commonplace. There have been several bomb attacks on churches and on the Zahwa Rosary School outside Gaza City. But he ought to have admitted as well that in the PA territories, and all over the Muslim world, the position of Christians is difficult, precarious, and in some places, intolerable.
Had Bishara Bahbah dared to tell the truth, he would have written something like this:
“I remember from my childhood getting on well with my Muslim neighbors in Jerusalem. Fortunately they were from tolerant families, that refused to follow the Qur’anic commands about not befriending Christians or Jews. I was lucky, for there certainly are many Muslims who are not so tolerant, as is evident from the threats and attacks on pastors, churches, and individual Christians all over the PA-ruled territories and, even more frequently, in Gaza. And in every single community where there are Christians – in Nablus, Tulkarm, Taubus, Ramallah, and especially, in Bethlehem, their numbers have steadily declined, irrefutable evidence of the harassment and persecution they have suffered.
“It is true, however, that if the conditions for Christians in the West Bank are bad, they are much worse in Hamas-ruled Gaza. 5,000 Christians in 2006 are down to 750 today. Shari’a has been imposed. Christian churches and at least one Christian school have been bombed. In a few years there will be no Christians left in Gaza, testimony to what they have had to endure and that led all of them, eventually, to flee. Some of them go abroad, to Canada or Australia. Some find refuge in Israel, which is the one place in the Middle East where Christians can freely practice their religion and have their safety guaranteed by the government.”
That’s what Bishara Bahbah ought to have written. But could he ever have allowed himself to deliver such truths? Don’t be silly.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 12/31/2020 4:43 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 30 December 2020
Diego Maradona was not a victim
We have no sense of the tragic, only of victimhood
by Theodore Dalrymple
Reading a report on the Guardian website of the death of the Argentine footballer Diego Maradona, I was much struck by two phrases: “addiction to cocaine took hold” and “his private life spiralled out of control”.
This way of putting it suggested that both his addiction and his private life had an existence independent of anything that he himself did: that addiction, for example, was like Parkinson’s Disease, an illness that could reasonably be said to “take hold” of someone. This is the official, but nonetheless false and simplified, view of addiction, as something that just happens to a person.
And while, no doubt, there are people so victimised by others that their private lives may be said to have spiralled out of control, it seems to me unlikely that Maradona was one of them.
Why this strange way of putting things? I suspect it is because of the great fear that haunts all modern intellectuals, that of being considered censorious, at least about individuals who bring unhappiness on themselves (and often to others). There is, of course, a certain class of person about whom it is de rigueur to be censorious, even ultra-censorious, but Maradona, being an idol of the populace, and of humble origin, was not a member of that class.
He was a tragic figure, a man who did not put the fruits of his natural talent to a use that brought him much happiness. The tragedy was in the choices he made and in their consequences, by comparison with the choices that he might have made. The fact that they were his choices is what made his life tragic. If he had contributed nothing to his addiction or to his private life, he would no more be a tragic figure than is a broken vase or a punctured tyre.
But we have no sense of the tragic, only of victimhood.
First published in The Critic.
Posted on 12/30/2020 6:32 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Wednesday, 30 December 2020
A Palestinian Christian On Persecution By Hamas
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Bishara A. Bahbah
Hamas is the Gazan branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is distinctly unfriendly to Christians, including those who are Palestinian Arabs. Ever since its takeover of Gaza in 2007, when Hamas imposed Shari’a, or Islamic law, the Christian population of the Strip has steadily decreased, from 5,000 in that year to 650 today. Bishara A. Bahbah is a Palestinian Christian, apparently living in Israel, where as is well known, he suffers no mistreatment whatever. He has just now publicly decried the mistreatment of Palestinian Christians in Gaza by Hamas, that have led so many of them to flee the Strip, here: “A Christmas message to Hamas,” Times of Israel, December 23, 2020:
Say what you will about the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian Christians in the West Bank are treated as equal to Muslim Palestinians. In fact, if you look at the composition of the PA government, five ministers are Christian.
Bahbah misreads the situation. Those five Christian ministers in the PA government are useful in dispelling foreign concerns about the treatment of Christians, but their presence is deceptive: their roles tell us nothing about how ordinary Christians fare in the P.A. And the answer is that they fare rather badly. They – their pastors, their churches, their schools — to attack by Muslims; worse still, in no case have any of these Muslim attackers been arrested by the P.A.
Here’s a glimpse at some of what Palestinian Christians in the West Bank endured in just the space of a few weeks in 2019 (the article was written soon after the attacks):
Three grave events occurred involving Christians in the territories ruled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) . They left no mark on either the world or the Israeli media because they are not connected to Israel.
On April 25, the terrified residents of the Christian village of Jifna near Ramallah asked the PA to protect them after they were attacked by Muslim gunmen. The violence erupted after a woman from the village submitted a complaint to the police that the son of a prominent, Fatah-affiliated leader had attacked her family. In response, dozens of Fatah gunmen came to the village, fired hundreds of bullets in the air, threw petrol bombs while shouting curses, and caused severe damage to public property. It was a miracle that there were no dead or wounded.
Despite the residents’ cries for help, the PA police did not intervene during the hours of mayhem. They have not arrested any suspects. Interestingly, the rioters called on the residents to pay jizya—a head tax that was levied throughout history on non-Muslim minorities under Islamic rule. The most recent victims of the jizya were the Christian communities of Iraq and Syria under ISIS rule.
The second incident occurred during the night of May 13. Vandals broke into a church of the Maronite community in the center of Bethlehem, desecrated it, and stole expensive equipment belonging to the church, including the security cameras.
Three days later it was the turn of the Anglican church in the village of Aboud, west of Ramallah. Vandals cut through the fence, broke the windows of the church, and broke in. They desecrated it [urinating and defecating on church floors have been favorite forms of Muslim desecration], looked for valuable items, and stole a great deal of equipment.
As in the two previous incidents, no suspects were arrested.
Such terrorizing of Christians in the West Bank does not appear in Bishara Bahbah’s attempt to convince us that, unlike in Hamas-ruled Gaza, Christians have been treated well in the PA-ruled territories. He knows all about these, and hundreds of similar attacks on Christians since 1994, when Israel withdrew from the West Bank
Here is Bishara Bahbah again:
When I served as Yasser Arafat’s advisor on international affairs, while I was teaching and working at Harvard University, I asked him why he decided to designate a fixed number of seats in the Legislative Council for Christians and one seat for a Jew to represent the Samaritans in the Nablus area. I also asked him why the government decreed that several municipalities including Bethlehem, Ramallah, Beit Sahour, and Beit Jala, should always have Christian mayors irrespective of the number of Christians in Palestine or in those towns.
He answered me: “Don’t be naïve. When I am gone and I am not here to protect you [Christians], one day there could be a [Palestinian] government that, if it could, would eat you alive.”
And it appears, Arafat was right.
On the one hand, Bishara Bahbah quotes with approval Arafat’s statement to him about “when I am not here to protect you” (the Christians), there “could be a [Palestinian] government that, if it could, would eat you [the Christians] alive.” He says that “Arafat was right.” Yet, in complete contradiction to this, Bahbah claims that the Christians in the PA-ruled territories have absolutely no problems with their Muslim neighbors. So which is it? The evidence suggests that Arafat was indeed right: the Palestinian Muslims have been making life very difficult – hellish in some cases – for the Christians in the PA-ruled parts of the West Bank, and things are even worse for the dwindling number of Christians in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
An official advisory issued from a Hamas ministry last week smacks of racism and spite against Christians in general, and, more specifically, against the tiny and dwindling Palestinian Christian community in the Gaza Strip. Addressing the upcoming Christmas holiday, the document recommends a series of measures to “limit interaction” with Christmas celebrations in Gaza, implying that Christianity and Christians should be shunned.
While some have tried to suggest the instructions are motivated by concerns about crowds and Coronavirus, the document itself makes no mention of the spread of the pandemic. It is, in fact, a religious directive from Hamas’s Director-General of the General Authority of Preaching and Guidance in the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Wakf and Religious Affairs.
“The Activities of the General Authority of Preaching and Guidance to Limit Interaction with Christmas,” dated 15 December 2020, calls for the issuance of a fatwa, a religious edict, and instructs various ministries including the ministries of interior and economy, as well the media to ensure its implementation. As a Palestinian Christian, I abhor the document and those who drafted it.
The limit on “interaction” with Christians that Hamas mentions in its “advisory” as needing to be the subject of a fatwa reflects the Qur’anic commands — 3:28; 4:14, and 5:51 – not to take disbelievers as friends, “for they are friends only with each other.” Nor should any recognition be given to Infidel holidays; when a Muslim wishes a Christian “Merry Christmas,” as the well-known Islamic preacher Zamir Naik and many others have said, he is “associating Jesus, whom Christians regard as the Son of God, with God himself,” and in the Muslim view, this constitutes a kind of polytheism, or the sin of “shirk.”
Why does Bishara Bahbah fail to mention that Hamas is merely following Qur’anic commands to shun Christians (and Jews) when it issues an advisory about “limiting interaction” with Christian celebrations? Three reasons: First, it would make Islam look bad in the eyes of Infidels. Second, those Qur’anic commands about not taking Unbelievers as friends, as well as the verses commanding Muslims to conduct violent Jihad (as 2:191-193, 4:89, 8:12, 8:60, 9:5, 9:29, 47:4) amply provide the justification for the mistreatment of Christians by the very group – Hamas – that Bahbah is determined to denounce. Third, mention of those verses would plant the idea that insofar as the PA treats Christian Palestinians as the equals of Muslims (as Bahbah misleadingly maintains) – even allowing five of them to be in the government — it is violating Qur’anic instructions.
On Saturday, after the document had made it to social media and sparked denunciations from Muslims and Christians, Hamas’s Ministry of Wakf and Religious Affairs issued a clarification insisting their policy reflected “the tolerance rooted in Islam, which sanctions freedom of worship.” It added that the Hamas government “secures [Palestinian Christians’] religious rituals and protects their churches and places of celebration.”
Tell that to the Palestinian Christians who left in droves in recent years. Palestinian Christians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem currently number about 46,500. In Gaza the number is about 650. That is less than one percent of the Palestinian population in those areas and represents a historic low. But though Palestinian Christians are few in number, they have always been full partners in Palestinian society with equal rights, influence and stature.
Despite this preposterous assurance by Bishara Bahbah, Palestinian Christians have never been “full partners in Palestinian society with equal rights, influence, and stature.” They have been the object of repeated attacks by Muslims – the three violent attacks that took place in April and May 2019 that I’ve mentioned above are representative, and brief search will turn up many other similar examples – that are never investigated by the PA’s police. That conditions for them are difficult can be seen in the steady outflow of Christians who are leaving not only Hamas-run Gaza, but the PA-ruled parts of the West Bank to live abroad, free from harassment and persecution. Some of them even move to Israel. Bethlehem, that was 85% Christian in 1950, and 40% Christian in 1998, is now only 14% Christian.
As the direct descendants of Jesus Christ’s followers – descendants of Jews and non-Jews who converted to Christianity — we were present in the land of Palestine before Islam arrived in the seventh century. Since then, relations between Muslims and Non-Muslims were regulated by an agreement known as The Pact of Umar that guaranteed rights and spelled out obligations. In today’s Palestine, the pact primarily represents the commitment of Muslims to respect and protect the religious and property rights of Christians and Jews.
The Palestinian Arab Christians are not “descendants” of people “who were in the land before Islam arrived in the seventh century.” They are descendants, rather, of the Arabs who arrived in Palestine no earlier than the 7th century. The Pact of Umar, which many Western scholars, such as Bernard Lewis, regard as a fabrication, is mentioned by Bahbah as having “guaranteed rights and spelled out obligations” for non-Muslims. There was exactly one right – the right to remain as Infidels and not be killed – given to non-Muslims in exchange for their agreeing to a long list of demands, which we will get to in the next installment tomorrow.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 12/30/2020 4:21 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 29 December 2020
Each year, 1,000 Pakistani girls forcibly converted to Islam
This story by Kathy Gannon of Associated Press has been syndicated in several international newspapers especially in India. This is via ABC News. Yahoo News had to turn their comment facility off; it is a subject which people feel strongly about.
KARACHI, Pakistan -- Neha loved the hymns that filled her church with music. But she lost the chance to sing them last year when, at the age of 14, she was forcibly converted from Christianity to Islam and married to a 45-year-old man with children twice her age.
She tells her story in a voice so low it occasionally fades away. She all but disappears as she wraps a blue scarf tightly around her face and head. Neha’s husband is in jail now facing charges of rape for the underage marriage, but she is in hiding, afraid after security guards confiscated a pistol from his brother in court.
“He brought the gun to shoot me,” said Neha, whose last name The Associated Press is not using for her safety.
Neha is one of nearly 1,000 girls from religious minorities who are forced to convert to Islam in Pakistan each year, largely to pave the way for marriages that are under the legal age and non-consensual. Human rights activists say the practice has accelerated during lockdowns against the coronavirus, when girls are out of school and more visible, bride traffickers are more active on the Internet and families are more in debt.
The U.S. State Department this month declared Pakistan “a country of particular concern” for violations of religious freedoms — a designation the Pakistani government rejects. The declaration was based in part on an appraisal by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that underage girls in the minority Hindu, Christian, and Sikh communities were “kidnapped for forced conversion to Islam… forcibly married and subjected to rape.”
Forced conversions thrive unchecked on a money-making web that involves Islamic clerics who solemnize the marriages, magistrates who legalize the unions and corrupt local police who aid the culprits by refusing to investigate or sabotaging investigations, say child protection activists.
One activist, Jibran Nasir, called the network a “mafia” that preys on non-Muslim girls because they are the most vulnerable and the easiest targets “for older men with pedophilia urges.” Does this sound familiar?
The goal is to secure virginal brides rather than to seek new converts to Islam.
In the feudal Kashmore region of southern Sindh province, 13-year-old Sonia Kumari was kidnapped, and a day later police told her parents she had converted from Hinduism to Islam. Her mother pleaded for her return in a video widely viewed on the internet: “For the sake of God, the Quran, whatever you believe, please return my daughter, she was forcibly taken from our home.”
But a Hindu activist, who didn’t want to be identified for fear of repercussions from powerful landlords, said she received a letter that the family was forced to write. The letter claimed the 13-year-old had willingly converted and wed a 36-year-old who was already married with two children.
The parents have given up.
Arzoo Raja was 13 when she disappeared from her home in central Karachi. The Christian girl’s parents reported her missing and pleaded with police to find her. Two days later, officers reported back that she had been converted to Islam and was married to their 40-year-old Muslim neighbor.
In Sindh province, the age of consent for marriage is 18 years old. Arzoo’s marriage certificate said she was 19.
The cleric who performed Arzoo’s marriage, Qasi Ahmed Mufti Jaan Raheemi, was later implicated in at least three other underage marriages. Despite facing an outstanding arrest warrant for solemnizing Arzoo’s marriage, he continued his practice in his ramshackle office above a wholesale rice market in downtown Karachi.
When an Associated Press reporter arrived at his office, Raheemi fled down a side stair, according to a fellow cleric, Mullah Kaifat Ullah, one of a half-dozen clerics who also performs marriages in the complex. He said another cleric is already in jail for marrying children.
While Ullah said he only marries girls 18 and above, he argued that “under Islamic law a girl’s wedding at the age of 14 or 15 is fine.”
Posted on 12/29/2020 8:15 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Tuesday, 29 December 2020
In Gaza, Hamas Is The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Muslims are taught that they are the “best of people” and non-Muslims “the most vile of created beings.” They are commanded by several Qur’anic verses – 3:28, 4:14, 5:51 –not to take Christians and Jews as friends, “for they are friends only with each other.” Furthermore, they are instructed to fight, to kill, to smite at the necks of, to strike terror in the hearts of, non-Muslims (see, e.g.,2:191-193, 4:89, 8:12, 8:60, 9:5, 9:29, 47:4). And they must never recognize nor participate in the slightest way, in the religious observances of non-Muslims. That means, when it comes to Christmas, that there should be no participation by Muslims in the holiday, no matter how devoid of religious content that participation might be. No Christmas trees, no Christmas carols, no toy Santas, no reindeer or elves, no Christmas cards, no mistletoe, no Christmas presents, no Christmas lights, and of course, no wishing Christians a “Merry Christmas.” Needless to say, there are Muslims who despite these prohibitions still get into the spirit of the holiday, which because of television and the Internet manages to penetrate the borders of Muslim states and enter the consciousnesess of individual Muslims –who learn about, and see, those Christmas trees, Santa Clauses, cards and carols, television Christmas specials, and festive decorations seen festooning the dwellings of Christians in the West. All this is anathema to the most observant Muslims.
Recently an internal Hamas document surfaced in Gaza, which showed Hamas’s determination to prevent Gaza Muslims from taking part in anything to do with Christmas. The story was broken internationally at Jihad Watch here, and is here is a report from Israel Hayom five days later: “Leaked Hamas Christmas memo causes Christian dismay in Gaza,” December 24, 2020:
A leaked Hamas memo showing Gaza’s ruling Islamist group wanted to curb Christmas celebrations among Gaza’s Muslim majority has upset the enclave’s tiny Christian community in the run-up to the holiday.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs document, dated Dec. 15, called for “activities by the directorate of preaching and spiritual guidance to limit interaction with Christmas.”
The leak went public last weekend, upsetting Palestinian Christians.
“We set an example for the world in not having any sectarian problems, therefore, we were very upset,” said Samer Tarazi, a Christian journalist in Gaza. He said Christians just wanted life to continue “as normal.”
Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop, Atallah Hanna, called the memo “inflammatory,” but said it “will not harm our unity and good relations.”
Hamas said the reaction was exaggerated and that it only wanted to ensure Muslims marked Christian holidays in accordance with Islamic law.
And “in accordance with Islamic law” there is to be no observance by Muslims, no matter how disconnected from religion, of Christmas or other Christian holidays. That means no Santa Claus or Christmas trees, cards, or carols: these are all seen by the Grinch of Gaza, the terror group Hamas, as a violation of Islamic law.
“There was never any intention to offend Christians or limit their ability to celebrate and perform their religious rituals,” said Bassem Naim, a Hamas official.
No, of course not. Why would Christians take offense if Hamas wants to make sure that Muslims, the “best of peoples,” do not participate in any way, no matter how disconnected from religion that participation may be, in the celebration in Gaza of Christmas by those same Christians?
The ministry, which is tasked with running Gaza’s mosques and looking after Muslim and Christian affairs in the coastal strip, quickly released a statement saying Christians “have the right to hold their religious celebrations and they can’t be offended or be restricted.”
The statement added: “Just as Muslims are commanded to avoid violations of (Islamic law) on Muslim holidays, it is all the more reason for them to avoid (such violations) during the holidays of others.”…
Which means, in plain English, Muslims are supposed to avoid doing anything that would suggest they were recognizing, or taking part in, a Christian holiday. Even wishing “Merry Christmas” in reply to a Christian’s holiday greeting is strictly forbidden. Indeed, it is not only the religious holidays of the Unbelievers that Muslims are supposed to avoid. They are not to observe any secular holidays, either, of the Unbelievers. In America that means for Muslims no Halloween, no Thanksgiving, no New Year’s Day, no Valentine’s Day, no President’s Day, no Memorial Day, no Labor Day. These have nothing to do with Islam, and therefore should be shunned by all devout Muslims.
The world is so suffused with celebrations of Christmas that it is hard to keep non-Christians from wanting to take part. In predominantly Hindu India, in Buddhist and Shinto Japan, and in Communist China, Christmas trees and Santa Clauses are found in major cities; these are no longer limited to the small Christian populations, but have been adopted by many others as well. Presents are exchanged by many non-Christians on Christmas Day. These are part of a worldwide celebration of Christmas, devoid of its religious element, and open to all. Muslims are the only ones who are sternly disciplined by their own leaders and clerics for such infractions.
But despite running a risk of punishment, Muslims are not immune to the attractions of these secularized observances of Christmas; their interest in the holiday appears in recent years only to have increased. It is this which alarms the grinches of Hamas. In several of the Gulf Arab states, especially the U.A.E., there are Santa Clauses in stores holding court for entranced children; there are window displays of Christmas trees gaily bedecked with ornaments; trees, too, are also to be found for sale. All of this would have been unthinkable just a few years ago; now these items – Santa Claus dolls, Christmas trees and ornaments, Christmas cards — all of which were unobtainable just a few years ago,, can now be found in both the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia. This is exactly what Hamas fears may be happening: Christmas slowly suffusing the brains of Muslims, as its non-religious seductions – the cards and carols, the present-giving, the smiling Santas for the children lisping their wish list to him in stores, the sights and smells of a distant northern clime brought into Middle Eastern homes by a well-trimmed Christmas tree—can lead trusting Muslims astray, possibly even causing some of them to look into the religion of those whose holiday, Christmas, in its secular celebration has captivated many Muslims.
What could be more terrible than that? Hence the understandable horror of Hamas apparatchiks in Gaza, determined to stamp out any Muslim fraternizing with the Christian enemy when guards are down during Christmas-time, and preventing Muslim participation, no matter how minor, in any of the secular observances associated with Christmas, including such aspects of the holiday as Santa Claus, workshop elves at the North Pole, Christmas trees, and the exchange of gifts. Who knows what that could lead to? Baptisms? Rosaries? The Eucharist? It’s a slippery slope.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 12/29/2020 6:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 29 December 2020
Frank Gaffney interviews Michael Rectenwald
DR. MICHAEL RECTENWALD, Author, "Thought Criminal," "Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom" and "Beyond Woke," former New York University Professor, Liberal Studies, Twitter: @antipcnyuprof
- Dr. Michael Rectenwald explains why he abandoned Marxism - "social justice warriors"
- How and why Marxism has taken a "stalinist" turn in academia?
- Dr. Rectenwald highlights the plot of his most recent novel, "Thought Crime" - a warning for what is to come?
- Our Constitution affords us rights never granted to the people of Russia and China after their Communist revolutions
- "Big Digital" within the People's Republic of China is working to strengthen the Communists' hold over their own people, the premise of Dr. Rectenwald's other book, "Google Archipelago"
- Dr. Rectenwald predicts that the coronavirus, and its mutations, will increase the Chinese Communist Party's Social Credit System
- China has been the model for the "Great Reset" or "State Capitalism" long before the coronavirus brought the world to a stand still
- How do we respond to social justice warriors and collectivism?
- President Trump is a "firewall," blocking the "Great Reset"
- Donald Trump is one of the only impediments standing in the ways of the Left's plan for America
Posted on 12/29/2020 6:37 AM by New English Review Press
Tuesday, 29 December 2020
A Forbidden Feminist Fantasy
Interview with Phyllis Chesler in Achgut in German. English below.
Phyllis, you started working on Aileen Wuornos at that time and advocating for her, not least to make her story useful to the women's movement. Has that plan worked out?
I was not focused on the women’s movement but on prostituted women who are stigmatized as criminals and whose so-called “work” is the most quintessential form of violence against women. Since the global media was so obsessed with Wuornos, I thought that her case might provide an excellent teaching moment. Also, it seemed a very important story to write about.
I saw in Wuornos an opportunity to extend the right of rape/self-defense to prostitutes, most of whom are on the front lines of violent misogyny every single day. Life on the edge of the ledge does not necessarily make someone “nice.” I did not expect to “like” her. Our so-called first female serial killer was not required to be a role model for women who dress for success.
In the beginning, I viewed Wuornos as a prostitute who fought back—but I understood that she was no more a political actor than Valerie Solanas was. Solanas is the woman who shot the artist Andy Warhol (he lived)—and she also wrote a brilliant and slightly crackpot Manifesto, titled The Society for Cutting Up Men, which was translated into thirteen languages.
Wuornos and Solanas were embraced by a number of radical feminist leaders whom they promptly abused, wore out, and rejected. Both women were loners: fiercely literal, concrete, explosive, and anti-social. As teenagers, they both gave away babies to be adopted, worked as prostitutes, and were lesbians, bisexual, or asexual. After she was arrested, Solanas was diagnosed as a “paranoid schizophrenic” and warehoused in an asylum for the criminally insane. When they released her, she drifted off to San Francisco, never wrote again, and died in poverty.
Solanas did not become a serial killer.
What drew me to Wuornos’s case was my desire to educate her first jury about how violent prostitution is and how routinely prostitutes are verbally degraded, death threatened, beaten, robbed, tortured, and routinely killed. They are the ones whom male serial killers target. Very few prostitutes are ever able to fight back in self-defense to save their own lives. Wuornos did, at least that first time. I got involved with Wuornos because of these issues. I organized a team of experts for her first murder trial; none of us were allowed to testify.
I did not obtain even a smidgen of justice for her, or for any other prostitute who continues to face violence and death every day. Wuornos was far too damaged to be saved; I could not save her, we could not save her, she was beyond earthly salvation.
What function might the memory of Wuornos and her deeds serve for today's women and today's feminism? Can Wuornos be said to have fought a battle, as it were, on behalf of "the women"? Can she perhaps serve as a kind of "threat" of what men face when they disrespect women? Is she suitable as an icon for the gender movement because, as a woman, she committed acts that until then had been committed almost exclusively by men?
Wuornos is not a role model for most feminists but she does embody a forbidden feminist fantasy, one that other women may share, about going after child rapists, male pornography pimps and their addict customers, male batterers, and male serial killers who mainly kill women.
There is no doubt that Wuornos was “brutalized” and that such brutalization amounted to torture and therefore required drugs and alcohol as well as a “disassociation” from reality. I write about this in Requiem.
Like other feminists and academics, I initially saw her as a quintessential American outlaw who pried the world’s imagination wide open by shooting down seven male authority figures, including former police officers; a Badass, gun-toting lesbian prostitute who became a notorious legend.
She was the original “Thelma and Louise.” After Wuornos, we have seen a great number of female spies and assassins, female paid killers, female CIA and MI5 operatives, battered women who kill husbands, etc. on screen.
In the complex of Wuornos' motives, "revenge" obviously plays a significant role. Commonly, the process of civilization is thought to be a process of overcoming or containing the desire for revenge. In this respect, Wuornos’s case would be a reversion to barbarism. Would there not have been other, more "civilized" forms of response to inflicted injustice for her, or is that a naïve notion?
Battered women who kill men in self-defense often get life sentences without parole in the United States. Fathers who rape daughters and priests who rape children are rarely prosecuted. The mothers of murdered children rarely see justice. Most suffer and accept their awful fates. A mere handful find ways to fight back, get even, get justice, or, if you will, “get revenge.”
For many decades, feminists have hotly disagreed about whether women are always victims or whether they have “agency” and are responsible for what they do.
In her film, A Question of Silence, Marleen Gorris asks whether women have the right to kill any man of their choosing—given that there is a war on against women in general. In the film, women unknown to each other collaborate in killing a contemptuous male clerk. They are all arrested and remain silent. The female psychiatrist chosen to examine them can find nothing psychologically wrong with them; eventually she joins them. The psychiatrist explains that what they’ve done has to be understood as something that happens during a war. Gorris’s male clerk was a complete stranger, but he treated the women with an all-too familiar contempt. He paid the price for what hundreds, maybe thousands of other men had done before him. Did the women snap? Or, did they finally understand that they were the losers in a never-ending war, and were now ready to act as combatants, not prey.
When I first got involved in the Aileen Wuornos case in Florida, I viewed her as a fictional figure, taken right out of the novels written by Andrea Dworkin, Monique Wittig, and Helen Zahavi. I believed (and still do) that Wuornos killed in self-defense the first time. Thereafter, something changed—maybe everything changed. Slowly, reluctantly, I came to a conclusion somewhat different from that of Gorris’s psychiatrist.
At my Facebook page, a feminist approvingly quoted someone who had said: “Seven men (were) not enough...”
A great line but it stopped me in my tracks.
Perhaps such feminists are confusing fictionalized female assassins/holy warriors, a metaphoric feminist Hit Squad—with what it means to actually kill someone and stand trial in a patriarchal court of law for murder. Perhaps these seven male victims did not mistreat Wuornos but they still deserved to die because of how other men had mistreated her.
However, in Wuornos’s case, the entire culture of patriarchy and prostitution was not on trial. That would require a different venue and a more revolutionary moment in history.
Wuornos committed her serial murder in the West, in the USA. In your opinion, what is the significance of this fact? Could an event like the Wuornos murders have happened in non-Western societies at that time? Could something like this happen today in countries with manifest oppression of women, such as Saudi Arabia?
Women in Saudi Arabia and in other Arab and Muslim countries are often honor murdered for inconsequential and even imagined crimes. If they kill their rapists, their cruel Masters, or their husbands in self-defense, they will be tortured and executed. On the other hand, what Wuornos did is quite unusual even in the United States, even in the West. Most women lack military training, do not use guns, and have been carefully trained to accommodate male violence and to blame themselves for it.
How has the phenomenon of female serial killers evolved since Wuornos? What "type" of serial killer was she compared to others?
There are many kinds of female serial killers: “black widows,” women who kill husband after husband for insurance payouts and for real property. Their names are legion. Female nurses (male nurses too) who kill patients, sometimes for money, or “mercy,” but also because they can. In addition, women have lured young girls into prostitution and they torture or even kill them if they try to escape. Sometimes women become pimps or Madams in order to escape the grueling, war-like conditions of prostitution.
Here’s how Wuornos is different from other known female serial killers of men: she killed strangers on the highway of life—outdoors, not inside at home; and with a gun, not with poison.
Other female serial killers only killed male intimates, and they did so for money, (insurance politics, real property), pure and simple.
Wuornos is not like male serial killers—she is a rather unique female serial killer. She is not like other women who’ve been savagely abused but who do not become killers. Nor is she like murderous wives or murderous nurses. Finally, she is totally different from male serial killers who kill mainly women, prostituted women, with erotic perversity, and whom they sometimes pose in grotesque gynecological positions. Read the brilliant Jane Caputi on this point. Male serial killers may kill anywhere from 10–100 women. They strategize their “kills” and are very hard to find. Wuornos had no erotic motive, she did not have orgasms while she killed or post-mortem with corpses, and she left clues everywhere, and was swiftly captured.
Why did you revisit the subject of Wuornos at this particular time? What are you trying to accomplish with the book? What were the reactions to it? Which reactions did you expect? And which ones didn't you expect?
It was accidental. I came across five chapters that I wrote nearly thirty years ago. I could not stop reading. It really flowed. I resurrected my huge Wuornos archive and began reading thousands of pages of legal documents and the interviews I did with Wuornos both on the phone and in person. I found our correspondence and am publishing some of our letters for the first time in this book.
I also organized the hundreds of interviews I did with the entire cast of colorful characters, including her biological mother, the lover who testified against her, a multitude of Florida lawyers, former prostitutes, the team of experts I’d put together and hoped would testify at her trial, and the feminists who worked at Florida’s shelters for battered women and rape crisis centers.
This book is about Wuornos, but it is also about my trying to get inside her head to see it both her way and my way, and to understand us both.
I was a bit younger in 1990, the year she committed most of her murders. Would I get involved now? I doubt it. Physically, I couldn’t do it. Would I still see Wuornos as a feminist folk hero of sorts? Yes, I would, or primarily as a dangerous, damaged, doomed, and demented woman—well, she was that, too.
Would I still be as sympathetic toward this volatile, trigger-tempered, foul-mouthed child-woman, and would I still risk being seen as defending, or advocating for such an unsympathetic woman?
Perhaps—for here I am, writing about her.
Lee is long gone—but she still lives on in my imagination and memory. I titled my book Requiem for a Female Serial Killer because this is my way of finally laying her to rest—by memorializing her life, her deeds, and her death. A dirge of sorts, to mourn what can happen to a girl in this world, a horrifying and pitiful tale with an inevitably sordid ending.
Yes, I know she was a raging drunk, a foul-mouthed, obnoxious, unstable, contrarian—and a serial killer as well—and yet, now that I more fully understand what rape and prostitution can do to an adolescent and to a woman, and what a pitifully damaged child-woman she really was, I have more, not less, compassion for her.
Posted on 12/29/2020 5:16 AM by New English Review Press
Tuesday, 29 December 2020
Signs of the Changing Times
by Eric Rozenman
“Sign, sign/ Everywhere a sign/ Blockin’ out the scenery/ Breakin’ my mind/ Do this, don’t do that/ Can’t you read the signs?”—Five Man Electrical Band, 1971
Ubiquitous before November’s presidential election, the “Hate Has No Home Here” yard signs grow scarce as Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration approaches. So do their more dogmatic companions, the “In This House We Believe” declarations. Mission accomplished.
Their mission? Not only helping defeat—in the guise of nonpartisanship—President Donald Trump, but also advancing the post-liberal left’s fundamental transformation of America’s self-understanding.
The “Hate Has No Home Here” signs, with their medium blue background, white typeface and red, white and blue heart logo, looked like repurposed Obama-for-President” installations. Notwithstanding contrary accounts of their origin, that’s just what they were, at least semiotically.
The heart focal point replaced the Obama “O” and “Hate Has No Home Here” substituted for “Obama for President.” The English slogan repeated multiculturally in Urdu, Arabic, Korean, Hebrew and Spanish.
“Hate,” of course, has become today’s all-purpose label not just for specific bigotries, like anti-black prejudice or hostility toward Jews, but rather for any opinion partisans disagree with. Opposing generic hate, for example, rather than fighting antisemitism, is how the once-fearless Antidefamation League came to partner with the Rev. Al Sharpton—he of the 1991 Crown Heights pogrom and 1995 Freddy’s Fashion Mart arson, both murderous.
When the battle is against “hate” rather than specific prejudices, even Sharpton—a frequent White House visitor in the Obama years—gets repackaged as a civil rights leader.
The Chicago Tribune sourced “hate has no home here” to autumn, 2016. Neighbors in North Park—where local elementary school students came from homes in which 43 languages were spoken—wanted “a peaceful poster to hang in windows. They agreed it should counter the divisive nature of the … presidential election.”
That is, it should oppose Republican candidate Trump’s demeaningly expressed hostility to illegal immigration and, soon after, President Trump’s temporary ban on immigration from seven Muslim- majority countries.
The sign spread rapidly, its success signifying half the country’s “resistance” zeitgeist. A related but more encyclopedic yard sign quickly emerged in Madison, Wisc. On a black background, with lines in white, red, yellow, blue, green and purple, it announced, in the manner of a papal bull:
“In This House, We Believe/ Black Lives Matter/ Women’s Rights Are Human Rights/ No Human Is Illegal/ Science Is Real/ Love Is Love/ Kindness Is Everything.”
Ideological cotton candy as holy writ. Of course, no human being is illegal. But Earth’s 7.8 billion people certainly don’t all have legal right to live in the United States.
Of course, black lives matter. Does anyone, outside a lunatic fringe, claim otherwise?
However, inscribed over the entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court are the words “Equal Justice Under Law.” Each individual’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness matters, regardless of race, religion, sex or national origin. Regardless and even in defiance of identity group politics.
Just so, the Black Lives Matter, Inc. movement requires scrutiny. Its 70-plus page manifesto in 2014, since partially scrubbed, opposed capitalism, whites, the nuclear family, police and prisons, “hetero-normativity,” the Jewish state of Israel and other woke progressive demons.
As for kindness, it counts for much. But not everything. The Talmud reminds us of the law of unintended consequences: “Those who are kind to the cruel end by being cruel to the kind.”
A contrarian yard sign counters the virtue-signaling fatuousness of “In This House We Believe …” It states, “In this house we believe that/ Simplistic Platitudes/ Trite Tautologies/ And Semantically Overloaded Aphorisms/ Are Poor Substitutes/ For Respectful And Rational Discussions/ About Complex Ideas.”
The odds of it too “going viral” in an America suffering social media-induced attention deficit syndrome and leftist “cancel culture” of dissent are small.
One may blame President Donald Trump, anathematized for four years by Democratic leadership, news media, academia and Hollywood, as he refused to say good-bye. But it was President Bill Clinton who gave us “the permanent campaign” and President Barack Obama who, unlike his predecessors, upon leaving the White House stayed in Washington as backstage resister-in-chief.
Obama now profits from his third autobiography and, with wife Michelle, from a deal to produce programs—long-form commercials for themselves and Democratic Party policies—on Netflix. Meanwhile, his former senior staffers populate president-elect Joe Biden’s team.
Neither Obama, Trump nor Biden has or will bridge America’s mile-wide divisions calcified by inch-deep slogans. Can’t you read the signs?
Eric Rozenman is a former congressional staffer, newspaper and magazine editor and author of Jews Make the Best Demons: “Palestine” and the Jewish Question (New English Review, 2018).
Posted on 12/29/2020 4:50 AM by Eric Rozenman
Monday, 28 December 2020
by Phyllis Chesler
Last night I took a tour by car around the fabled city of Manhattan. Despite the surge, the lockdown, and the cold weather, festive lights were everywhere; the Central Park zoo became a magical castle outlined in neon green; the buildings near Central Park South were shining in orange. A long line of cars were waiting to see the Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center.
And yet—every beloved movie theater, Broadway, the Opera House, all remain shuttered and dark. Many favorite restaurants have gone out of business, have a limited take-out only menu, or are closed for the duration, maybe forever. The American-style cafe on my corner no longer seems to have heaters. Other restaurants do. Young people huddle together along Central Park South, dealing drugs, listening to what I call “noise” as if it were music. Some are masked, some are not.
This will be a long, dark winter, one that will test our well being, even our sanity. We are like prisoners, mistrustful of neighbors and strangers. Yesterday a woman in my building nearly freaked out when she thought I would dare to join her in the elevator. Those who are traveling for family holidays are risking their lives to do so, as well as the lives of others. New York City children have lost their regular lives—no classroom structure, peer groups, friendships, or regular learning. What will this mean for them in the long run?
A redemptive perspective: Imagine if we’d all been alive during the Spanish Influenza. No internet, no television, no telephone, probably very few telegrams. We would not know who had lived or died, we’d have absolutely no contact with friends and loved ones, and we’d have only our own company in silence and solitude and that of those who already lived with us.
We are lucky in history. We can Zoom friends and families. But oh, how weary I am of two-dimensional intimacy, no touching, no hugging, no kissing of adult children or of grandchildren...May we all stay safe, stay strong, and stay sane.
Posted on 12/28/2020 1:56 PM by Phyllis Chesler
Monday, 28 December 2020
Finding the Russian Moles
by Michael Curtis
I’ve got my eyes on you so best beware where you roam. I’ve got my spies on you I’m checking all you do. Look you sir, inquire how and who, and where they keep, what company at what expense.
Espionage is an old story. Long ago Moses dispatched twelve spies. a group of Hebrew chieftains, to explore the land of Canaan as a future home for the Israelite people. They reported they had found a land flowing with milk and honey. On December 8, 2020 it was disclosed that individuals, almost certainly Russian, looking for the contemporary version of milk and honey, had hacked the U.S. security firm Fire Eye, only one of the many targets compromised in the cybersecurity industry. It soon became apparent that foreign hackers had attacked both governmental and unofficial organizations. A large-scale espionage campaign has breached the U.S. Treasury and Commerce Departments, and other government agencies. The campaign also affected non-governmental companies: Microsoft and customers were compromised, and emails had been stolen from U.S. private sector companies. The victim of a highly sophisticated targeted attack, Orion Platform, the server of the network management system Solar Winds which produces software for the U.S. government and private companies, was breached.
Corruption and sabotage of network systems has now become an important concern. Cyber-attacks have been made on the White House, State Department, and the joint Chiefs of Staff. The intelligence agencies of Russia are all successor agencies to the KGB, the symbol of the Cold War, and are administratively independent of each other, and most report to the president of Russia. The SVR, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, is concerned with the collection of intelligence of foreign countries. The GRU, or GU, the main intelligence directorate, the primary intelligence agency of the Armed Forces, and reputedly the largest foreign intelligence agency, appeared responsible for hacking the Democratic National Convention in 2016. The FSB, Federal Security Service, designated successor to the KGB, appears to have moved beyond domestic security to operate internationally.
Espionage was not always like this. The traditional world of spies, not completely ended, was different, a world of personal searches, in an organizational context, to seek out information and hunt out traitors on behalf of presumed national security. The death of novelist John Le Carre on December 12, 1989 reminded us of the fictional presentation of the life of intelligence agencies and operatives: international intrigue, personal betrayal, flawed characters, deception, and subterfuge, emotional complexity, and ambivalence about being involved in intelligence activity or spying. These books of le Carre differ from what he called the “cultural pornography” of Ian Fleming’s James Bond fantasies.
In le Carre’s 1974 work, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, the tale was focused on trapping a “mole,” an active double agent for Britain and the KGB the former secret intelligence service, a tale based on or alluding to Kim Philby, the real double agent. Involved is the struggle between le Carre’s protagonist Smiley and the Russian spymaster Karla, a cunning struggle with a minimum of violence. The highly successful book of le Carre, The Spy who Came in from the Cold, the story of a disillusioned British agent involved in a fatal mission in East Berlin was a touching commentary on the tensions and duplicities in the Cold War era. The loyal and upright Smiley held there was nothing dishonorable in not being blown about by every little modern wind in that era where adherence to communism or democracy competed.
Recent deaths and arrest of spies have reminded us of the resemblance of that fiction to reality. One aspect is the formidable and aggressive Russian personal espionage, to some extent a continuation of Cold War espionage. A tantalizing example was the discovery and arrest in June 2010 of Anna Chapman, attractive, Russian born intelligence agent and model, part of the spy ring, the Illegals, network of Russian sleeper agents who posed as ordinary citizens but built contacts with political, economic, and academic figures to obtain information. But more important is the danger of cyber espionage and for the vital need for technology to provide computer protection against interference or illegal intercept of sensitive information by foreign countries.
The reality of espionage may be illustrated by two examples. One is the case of Victor Sheymov the Russian computer expert, a major in the KGB, who died on October 18, 2020 in Virginia, aged 73. He had been responsible for the cyphers and communications of the KBG, and helped prepare daily briefings for members of the Politburo. He defected to the U.S. in May 1980, because of the murder by the Soviet Union of a friend and fellow KGB agent for “dissident activity.” He debriefed U.S. intelligence officials about the KGB’s cryptological network. He told of the KGB plots, one was to kill Pope John Paul II; another was the assassination of the Afghan in 1979. Sheymov knew that two members of the State Department spied for the KGB, and that there was at least one “mole” in the CIA. He also told the U.S. that the embassy in Moscow was completely bugged.
A more well -known double agent was George Blake, George Behar, who died on December 26, 2020 in Moscow, at age of 98. Blake was born on November 11, 1922 in the Netherlands to a Dutch mother and Egyptian father, a naturalized Briton. He came to England in January 1943 and joined the British navy. After the war he studied Russian at Cambridge and joined MI6. He was posted to Seoul, where he was captured by North Korean forces, and interned for three years, during which he, according to his own account, became a committed communist, allegedly because of his expressed horror of allied atrocities in the Korean war.
After release, Blake rejoined MI6, was sent to Berlin where he was supposed to recruit Soviet agents for British intelligence. But the opposite happened. Blake became a double agent, and passed British intelligence to his Russian handlers. He was finally exposed by a Polish defector.
Blake, a master of disguise with his typical English bowler hat and rolled umbrella, had MI6 posts in Vienna, Berlin, Milan, and Beirut, ran agents and betrayed every American and British agent he knew as well as his MI6 colleagues. A major accomplishment was reporting to the KGB Operation Gold, the building by the U.S. of a secret underground tunnel in divided Berlin running from the American sector into the Soviet zone, allowing western agents to tap Soviet phone lines and underground cables and listen to Russian communications. According to the CIA, Blake passed over 7,000 pages of classified British and American documents to the Soviet Union.
At his trial Blake was sentenced to 42 years prison, one year for every agent betrayed, though later he claimed he had betrayed over 400. He was jailed in 1961, but astonishingly escaped from his prison Wormwood Scrubs in 1966. He was smuggled out of the country to East Berlin, and then to the Soviet Union where he spent the rest of his life. He became a lieutenant colonel in the KGB, was honored several times including in 2007 by President Vladimir Putin with the Order of Friendship, the highest Russian honor. Putin called him a professional of particular vitality and courage, a “legendary person who will be preserved forever in our hearts.” Blake lived comfortably in a rent-free dacha thirty miles from Moscow. He was of enormous propaganda value for Russia.
What is significant is that Blake defected of his own accord, cooperating voluntarily with his adversary. This was unlike the defection of the well-known Cambridge double agents, Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt, Guy Burgess, Kim Philby, and John Cairncross, who had been contacted by the KGB .
A Russian operative was General Igor Korobov, head of GRU military intelligence who officially died, aged 62, on November 21, 2018 after a “long and serious illness.” He was accused by the U.S. in December 2016 of malicious cyber-enabled activities threatening the security of the U.S. Korobov was awarded Hero of the Russian Federation in 2017. His “illness” may have been the result of responsibility for some GRU failures. However the GRU had been active: it interfered in the 2016 U.S. election, it had hacked the computer of the international anti-doping agency, it had organized the coup in Montenegro in October 2016, it operated in eastern Ukraine, it snooped on the Dutch organization for the prohibition of chemical weapons in The Hague, organized cyberattacks on the UK and probably caused the destruction of Malaysian airlines flight 17 in July 2014.
But the GRU was humiliated in failing in the attempt to kill Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, in Salisbury. The former Russian military intelligence officer who became a double agent was called a traitor to his homeland and a “scumbug” by Putin.
Uneasy lies the head of GRU operatives, who are prone to fatal accidents.
Korobov’s predecessor, Igor Sergun, died in 2016 in disputed circumstances, a deputy GRU chief was found dead on a Turkish beach, a major general fell out of a window, a senior official was run over by a car, the deputy head in 1992 was killed in a car accident. But the Russian global espionage campaign continues , made significant by the successful operations of the SVR and its APT 29 or Cozy Bear group. It is incumbent on the incoming U.S. Administration and the UK to identify and dispose of threats to national security. “I spy strangers” should be limited to the House of Commons.
Posted on 12/28/2020 1:04 PM by Michael Curtis
Monday, 28 December 2020
The ethical decline of American journalism
Media demonization of Israel and whitewashing of progressive antisemitism was the harbinger of its descent into anti-Trump absurdity.
by Matthew Hausman
The Jews are frequently analogized to the proverbial canary in the coal mine because their persecution often presages the abuse or mistreatment of others. And this theme is relevant when considering the transformation of American journalism into partisan advocacy.
In attacking Donald Trump and his supporters unrelentingly these last four years – and breathlessly promoting Barack Obama the previous eight – the American press has come to resemble the state-run media found in totalitarian society. Reporters who ignored Obama’s policy failures and antisemitic associations but trumpeted every anti-Trump collusion narrative totally abdicated the oversight function contemplated by the US Constitution. Though many are now realizing how far journalism has fallen, the profession’s ethical fluidity has been apparent for years in its skewed coverage of Jewish issues and disdain for Israel.
The media’s role in democracy is to keep the public informed and monitor the affairs of state, and the Constitution guarantees freedom of the press to facilitate these very functions. The media cannot fulfill this mission, however, when it engages in advocacy, infuses reportage with commentary, and distorts or suppresses facts contrary to a political agenda.
In eighteenth century Europe, the press was dubbed the “Fourth Estate” to distinguish it from the “Three Estates of the Realm” consisting of the clergy, nobility, and commoners. The idea was that the press could impartially report on the doings of all segments of society by eschewing partisan affiliation and staying above the fray. In the US, this sobriquet denoted the press’s independence from the three branches of government and signified its role as the watchdog of government and guardian of civil liberties...
Continue reading here: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/293879
Posted on 12/28/2020 10:15 AM by Matthew Hausman
Monday, 28 December 2020
The Head of the IAEA Says There Is No Going Back to the Original Nuclear Deal
by Hugh Fitzgerald
What will the Biden Administration do about the nuclear deal with Iran? Originally, it seemed clear: the new president promised to return, without any changes to the JCPOA, “to the nuclear deal with Iran.” Were this to happen, it would undo much of the good that Trump’s policy had accomplished, by his pulling out of the deal in 2018, re-imposing crippling sanctions on the country — especially by reducing oil sales by 95% — and forcing the Iranian economy into free fall.
But then other voices were heard from those who are scheduled to be high up in Biden’s foreign policy apparatus, and have begun to express doubts about a return to the original deal. Iran has breached so many of its commitments under the deal, by putting some sites off-limits to IAEA inspectors, being unable to explain the appearance of nuclear material at other sites visited by the inspectors, enriching twelve times the amount of uranium than is permitted under the JCPOA (and at higher levels of purity than agreed). And recently, in the latest example of defiance of the members of the JCPOA, Iran announced it was installing three cascades of advanced centrifuges at its underground nuclear facility at Natanz.
This last violation has greatly alarmed the E3 nations – the U.K., France, and Germany — that condemned the “deeply worrying” plan as being contrary to the nuclear deal. They are even more worried about the Iranian Parliament’s recent passage of a bill demanding that the Islamic Republic suspend all inspections by the nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA – a bill that President Rouhani promises not to sign but that might be passed again, following the elections in June, when his successor – whom analysts predict will likely be someone far more hard-line than Rouhani – is elected.
The E3 nations are now sounding as if they want the nuclear deal modified, so that it will include limits on ballistic missiles, and address Iran’s aggressive moves, involving a series of proxies and allies, in Yemen (the Houthis), Iraq (the Kata’ib Hezbollah militia), Syria (the Alawite-led army of Bashar Assad), Lebanon (Hezbollah), and Gaza (where Shia Iran supports the Sunnis of Hamas against Israel). This is a welcome, and unexpected change. Perhaps the alarm expressed by both Israel and the Gulf Arabs is finally penetrating.
The IAEA’s head wants to make sure that there is not simply a return to the 2015 deal, but that all of Iran’s violations, including its larger-than-permitted store of enriched uranium, and the cascades of advanced centrifuges – are reversed. That will require a new agreement, not a return to the original one from 2015: The report is here: “IAEA chief: Biden must first focus on reversing Iran’s nuclear progress,” Israel Hayom, December 17, 2020:
Reviving Iran’s nuclear deal under US President-elect Joe Biden would require striking a new agreement setting out how Iran’s breaches should be reversed, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said.
Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, has said the United States will rejoin the deal “if Iran resumes strict compliance” with the agreement that imposed strict curbs on its nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Biden did not expressly say that Iran must undo what it has done. Is that what he means when he says Iran must “resume strict compliance” with the agreement? Or is he prepared to let Iran keep any of the gains – part of its store of enriched uranium, some of its advanced centrifuges – it has made by breaching the 2015 agreement’s restrictions?
After President Donald Trump quit the deal and reimposed US sanctions, Iran responded by breaching many of the deal’s restrictions. Tehran says it could quickly reverse those steps if Washington first lifts its sanctions.
In an interview with Reuters, Grossi, whose agency monitors Iran’s compliance on behalf of the UN, said there had been too many breaches for the agreement to simply snap back into place.
The bad faith of Iran – its many breaches of the agreement – has led Grossi to conclude that it is no longer a simple matter of “snapping” the 2015 deal “back into place.” There has to be an ancillary agreement setting out exactly Iran’s commitments to undo what it has done in violation of the treaty. It must reverse course, and hand over to the IAEA the 2.2 tons of the 2.4 tones of enriched uranium it presently possesses (which is 12 times the maximum amount set in the deal), and should also be required by the IAEA to hand over the remaining .2 tons as well, because all of its uranium has been enriched to a purity – 4.5% rather than 3.67% — beyond what was agreed in the original deal. Iran can then be allowed to replace that with .2 tons of uranium enriched to a purity of 3.67%. Furthermore, Iran must be required to un-install the more advanced centrifuges which It was expressly prohibited from using.
“I cannot imagine that they are going simply to say, ‘We are back to square one’ because square one is no longer there,” Grossi said at IAEA headquarters.
“It is clear that there will have to be a protocol or an agreement or an understanding or some ancillary document which will stipulate clearly what we do,” he said.
“There is more (nuclear) material, … there is more activity, there are more centrifuges, and more are being announced. So what happens with all this? This is the question for them at the political level to decide.”…
Grossi is insisting that Iran will have to undo everyone of its violations of the deal. His tone of palpable mistrust of the Islamic Republic suggests that he would favor Iran having to comply with these requirements before American sanctions are removed.
There are two matters that need to be made clear:
First, will Iran agree to undo its violations of the nuclear deal – give up 2.2 tons of its 2.4 tons of enriched uranium, dismantle the advanced centrifuges — and do so before, not after, American sanctions are lifted?
Second, will Iran agree to allow IAEA inspectors free access to any sites they wish to visit, including the underground site at Natanz and another site inside a mountain at Fordow? The Iranian Parliament has passed a bill that calls for ending all IAEA inspections. Can the government of Iran guarantee that despite that bill, IAEA inspectors will not be hampered or prevented from doing their jobs, as has happened in the past?
Third, will the government in Iran agree to a modification of the original treaty in order to address two other issues. The first concerns limits on long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The second requires a commitment by Iran to cease its regional aggression, through proxies and allies, in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza.
Can Biden be persuaded to reconsider his earlier promise to return to the JCPOA as long as Iran agrees to “strict compliance” with the 2015 nuclear deal? After all, he has plenty of evidence that Iran has at no time been in “strict compliance” – including the three years before Trump pulled out of what he called “this horrible deal” — but has, rather, defiantly breached its solemn commitments. And Biden must by now have heard a good deal about those ballistic missiles Iran is working on for one reason: to be able to deliver nuclear warheads. Surely they should be part of the deal about Iran’s nuclear program.
As for Iran’s mischief-making all over the region, it was a mistake not to address it in the original 2015 deal, l but it could now be part of a new and improved version – which the U.S. could insist Iran commit to before It lifts sanctions.
Iran says It will accept nothing but the original agreement, unmodified, and even that only after the U.S. lifts its sanctions. So there will be a contest of wills. It’s Iran’s economy, not America’s, that is in free fall. It’s Iran that has had to slash its financial support for the Houthis, the Iraqi militias, Bashar Assad, and even Hezbollah. It’s Iran that will net less than $5 billion from oil sales this year, down from $53 million in 2017, the year before American sanctions were imposed. Iran has a population of 80 million; more than 60 million of them, three-quarters of the population, now lives below the poverty line. Iranian leaders swagger, but they are desperate. The American government is certainly able – if willing — to wait the Iranians out. Can Biden, chastened by reality, do that? We can only hope.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 12/28/2020 4:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 27 December 2020
Canada racist? Nonsense
To some extent the general Canadian 'systemic racism' self-flagellation in this country is our very own Canadian replication of American phenomena
by Conrad Black
In the absence of anything more original to write at year-end, the politics of this country are discouraging; I lamented as recently as last week the failure of any visible and audible political leader in the country to offer even a slightly uplifting version of what the late president George Bush Sr. used to call ”the vision thing.” Political discourse in this country appears to be confined entirely to climate change, gender issues, native concerns, and the apparently invincible, bone-crushing advance of the juggernaut of political correctness. The entire citizenry seems to have been mobilized to hunt down, root out, pulverize, and incinerate any trace of the ghastly and abominable, ubiquitous bugbear, “systemic racism.” It is an “existential” threat. The phrase means that the social and political system in this case of Canada is rotten throughout, because of its inherent racist prejudices. In practice, many people who bandy this conceptually and acoustically irritating phrase about have no idea what they mean and if asked to think about it, most would say that they believe there has been a good deal of official racism and racially discriminating attitudes and practices in Canadian history, and that to a substantial extent, it lingers yet. This is utter nonsense.
Canada is not remotely and never has been what could be described as a racist society, with a few specific exceptions I’ll discuss later. Every person, even under a totalitarianism regime, possesses freedom of thought, including unkind thoughts about a sectarian or ethnic or behavioural group. Unattractive, ignorant, and even despicable as those sentiments are, every person has a right to hold them, and they cannot be extirpated by laws or regulations, but only by enlightening the holder with the evidence of the fruitlessness and injustice of his own bigotry. Freedom of expression must tolerate a certain amount of obnoxious group comment but that sort of thing cannot go very far without crossing the legal threshold and becoming an incitement to racial antagonism.
When ransacking Canadian history one finds that, apart from the natives, who enslaved each other in considerable numbers, there were never more than a few hundred slaves in New France and the early Atlantic colonies, and after the end of the Seven Years War in 1783, Lower and Upper Canada, (Québec and Ontario). Slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833 before any part of Canada was self-governing, a condition that began in most of Canada in 1848. This was the Canadian echo of the revolutions that swept Europe in that year, driving out the king of France and bringing back the Bonapartes and sending the long-serving chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire, Prince Metternich, packing. The governor of Canada, Sir Guy Carleton, refused to return to General George Washington the American slaves that had fallen into British and Canadian hands during the American Revolutionary War. From 1815 to 1861, Canada welcomed more than 40,000 fugitive slaves from the United States and treated them all as free people. There continued for many years to be de facto social segregation and undoubted discrimination but this reflected unease with the mixing together of non-white ethnic groups; it was contemptible and unjust but with the rarest exceptions it was not racial hatred. John Brown, Harriet Tubman, and Josiah Henson, the model for the chief character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s epochal novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (initial sale of two million copies), all lived at times in Canada. President Lincoln thanked Canadian leaders for their role in receiving slaves and breaking up anti-Union conspiracies cooked up by Southern agitators in Canada. Canada was not a place of “systemic racism” 170 years ago, and it certainly is not one now.
For many years there were outrageous quotas about the number of Jews that could be admitted to some universities and to the study of the learned professions. In the depression-racked 1930’s, there was an official prejudice against the admission of immigrants and perhaps particularly Jewish immigrants. There was and to a slight degree there remains, in the most intellectually squalid corners of society, a distaste for Jews and some other groups. Of greatest current interest, the residential schools for native children were devised to take the young from the grinding poverty of their early years and equip them to participate in society. The goal was, in its bumbling Victorian colonialist manner, a positive one, and while it affronts faddish sensibilities to make the point a great many alumni of those schools, such as Harold Cardinal, have acknowledged that their attendance there facilitated the successful careers that they subsequently enjoyed. The truth and reconciliation movement has traduced white Canada and has, deliberately or otherwise, generated more antagonism and myth-making than it has reconciliation and truth.
To some extent the general Canadian “systemic racism” self-flagellation in this country is our very own Canadian replication of American phenomena. The danger that America has always faced is internecine conflict, not foreign invasion. Abraham Lincoln was quoted to that effect here last week. The U.S. apparently saw off the last foreign threat to its serenity and preeminence in the world with the Soviet Union, (a view that may be revisited now that a resurgent China appears effectively to have had recourse to bacteriological warfare against the world). And the United States has since the end of the Cold War gradually become an atomized nation and engaged in ethnically and behaviourally-based self-criticism and even collective self-loathing. As in all things, some level of imitation pops up in Canada and the masters of the native victimhood industry in this country have exploited it with commendable entrepreneurial and propagandistic zeal. There were certainly injustices inflicted upon the native people and the present policy has not been successful. We must do better but we must also cease to portray ourselves as a nation of racists and bigots. Canada is racially as tolerant a people as there is or has ever been. We can do better but we will not do so by defaming ourselves with blood libels on the English and French colonists of Canada and their descendants.
As the year ends, the new leader of the federal opposition, Erin O’Toole, has tried to balance criticism of the residential schools with recognition that the intentions that created them were not malign. He stumbled inauspiciously, but the slightest deviation from the rigorous national self-abomination that is virtually a political catechism in this country is a ray of hope. So is O’Toole’s effort, (which I doubt will be successful), to climb aboard the climate change bandwagon and adopt the bunk about zero net fossil fuel emissions by 2050 with remedial assistance to the industries affected. What we need is real research into climate and its trends before we commit ourselves to amputating the limbs and petrifying the torso of the Canadian economy. Mr. O’Toole is finding his sea-legs as all new leaders must do, and is trying to broaden the base of Conservative support, somewhat in the Mulroney fashion, so the Conservatives can win an election without being dependent upon the NDP draining large numbers of votes from the Liberals to permit fewer than 40 percent of Canadian Conservative voters to elect a majority government. The trick is to encroach upon the centre and centre-left without demoralizing the authentic conservatives. It requires deft professionalism, and there is room for hope that O’Toole, who sought the Conservative leadership in 2017 as a red Tory and in 2019 as a Harperite, will be equal to the task.
Happy new year to all.
First published in the National Post.
Posted on 12/27/2020 7:38 AM by Conrad Black
Sunday, 27 December 2020
The Great Reset, Part II: Corporate Socialism
by Michael Rectenwald
As I noted in the previous installment, the Great Reset, if its architects have their way, would involve transformations of nearly every aspect of life. Here, I will limit my discussion to the economics of the Great Reset as promoted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), as well as to recent developments that have advanced these plans.
As F.A. Hayek suggested in his introductory essay to Collectivist Economic Planning, socialism can be divided into two aspects: the ends and the means. The socialist means is collectivist planning, while the ends, at least under proletarian socialism, are the collective ownership of the means of production and the “equal” or “equitable” distribution of the end products. Distinguishing between these two aspects in order to set aside the question of the ends and to focus on the means, Hayek suggested that collectivist planning could be marshalled in the service of ends other than those associated with proletarian socialism: “An aristocratic dictatorship, for example, may use the same methods to further the interest of some racial or other elite or in the service of some other decidedly anti-equalitarian purpose.” Collectivist planning might or might not run into the calculation problem, depending upon whether or not a market in the factors of production is retained. If a market for the factors of production is maintained, then the calculation problem would not strictly apply.
The collectivist planners of the Great Reset do not aim at eliminating markets for the factors of production. Rather, they mean to drive ownership and control of the most important factors to those enrolled in “stakeholder capitalism.” The productive activities of said stakeholders, meanwhile, would be guided by the directives of a coalition of governments under a unified mission and set of policies, in particular those expounded by the WEF itself.
While these corporate stakeholders would not necessarily be monopolies per se, the goal of the WEF is to vest as much control over production and distribution in these corporate stakeholders as possible, with the goal of eliminating producers whose products or processes are deemed either unnecessary or inimical to the globalists’ desiderata for “a fairer, greener future.” Naturally, this would involve constraints on production and consumption and likewise an expanded role for governments in order to enforce such constraints—or, as Klaus Schwab has stated in the context of the covid crisis, “the return of big government”—as if government hasn’t been big and growing bigger all the while.
Schwab and the WEF promote stakeholder capitalism against a supposedly rampant “neoliberalism.” Neoliberalism is a weasel word that stands for whatever leftists deem wrong with the socioeconomic order. It is the common enemy of the Left. Needless to say, neoliberalism—which Schwab loosely defines as “a corpus of ideas and policies that can loosely be defined as favouring competition over solidarity, creative destruction over government intervention and economic growth over social welfare”—is a straw man. Schwab and company erect neoliberalism as the source of our economic woes. But to the extent that “antineoliberalism” has been in play, the governmental favoring of industries and players within industries (or corporatocracy), and not competition, has been the source of what Schwab and his ilk decry. The Great Reset would magnify the effects of corporatocracy.
Nevertheless, the aims of the WEF are not to plan every aspect of production and thus to direct all individual activity. Rather, the goal is to limit the possibilities for individual activity, including the activity of consumers—by dint of squeezing out industries and producers within industries from the economy. “Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed.”
As Hayek noted, “when the medieval guild system was at its height, and when restrictions to commerce were most extensive, they were not used as a means actually to direct individual activity.” Likewise, the Great Reset aims not at a strictly collectivist planning of the economy so much as recommends and demands neofeudalistic restrictions that would go further than anything since the medieval period—other than under state socialism itself, that is. In 1935, Hayek noted the extent to which economic restrictions had already led to distortions of the market:
With our attempts to use the old apparatus of restrictionism as an instrument of almost day-to-day adjustment to change we have probably already gone much further in the direction of central planning of current activity than has ever been attempted before….It is important to realize in any investigation of the possibilities of planning that it is a fallacy to suppose capitalism as it exists to-day is the alternative. We are certainly as far from capitalism in its pure form as we are from any system of central planning. The world of to-day is just interventionist chaos.
How much further, then, the Great Reset would take us toward the kinds of restrictions imposed under feudalism, including the economic stasis that feudalism entailed!
I call this neofeudalism “corporate socialism”—not only because the rhetoric to gain adherents derives from socialist ideology (“fairness,” “economic equality,” “collective good,” “shared destiny,” etc.) but also because the reality sought after is de facto monopolistic control of production via the elimination of noncompliant producers—i.e., a tendency toward monopoly over production that is characteristic of socialism. These interventions would not only add to the “interventionist chaos” already in existence but further distort markets to a degree unprecedented outside of centralized socialist planning per se. The elites could attempt to determine, a priori, consumer needs and wants by limiting production to acceptable goods and services. They would also limit production to the kinds amenable to the governments and producers who buy into the program. The added regulations would drive midsized and small producers out of business or into black markets, to the extent that black markets could exist under a digital currency and greater centralized banking. As such, the restrictions and regulations would tend toward a static caste-like system with corporate oligarchs on top, and “actually existing socialism” for the vast majority below. Increasing wealth for the few, “economic equality,” under reduced conditions, including universal basic income, for the rest.
The Coronavirus Lockdowns, the Riots, and Corporate Socialism
The covid-19 lockdowns, and to a lesser extent the leftist riots, have been moving us toward corporate socialism. The draconian lockdown measures employed by governors and mayors and the destruction perpetrated by the rioters just so happen to be doing the work that corporate socialists like the WEF want done. In addition to destabilizing the nation-state, these policies and politics are helping to destroy small businesses, thus eliminating competitors.
As the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) points out, the lockdowns and riots have combined to level a one-two punch that is knocking out millions of small businesses—“the backbone of the American economy”—all across America. FEE reported that
7.5 million small businesses in America are at risk of closing their doors for good. A more recent survey showed that even with federal loans, close to half of all small business owners say they’ll have to shut down for good. The toll has already been severe. In New York alone, stay-at-home orders have forced the permanent closure of more than 100,000 small businesses.
Meanwhile, as FEE and others have noted, there is no evidence that the lockdowns have done anything to slow the spread of the virus. Likewise, there is no evidence that Black Lives Matter has done anything to help black lives. If anything, the riotous and murderous campaigns of Black Lives Matter and Antifa have proven that black lives do not matter to Black Lives Matter. In addition to murdering black people, the Black Lives Matter and Antifa rioters have done enormous damage to black businesses and neighborhoods, and thus to black lives.
As small businesses have been crushed by the combination of draconian lockdowns and riotous lunacy, corporate giants like Amazon have thrived like never before. As BBC noted, at least three of the tech giants—Amazon, Apple, and Facebook—have appreciated massive gains during the lockdowns, gains which were abetted, to a lesser extent, by riots that cost 1 to 2 billion in property damages. During the three months ending in June, Amazon’s “quarterly profit of $5.2bn (£4bn) was the biggest since the company's start in 1994 and came despite heavy spending on protective gear and other measures due to the virus.” Amazon’s sales rose by 40 percent in the three months ending in June.
As reported by TechCrunch, Facebook and its WhatsApp and Instagram platforms saw a 15 percent rise in users, which brought revenues to a grand total of $17.74 billion in the first quarter. Facebook’s total users climbed to 3 billion in March, or two-thirds of the world’s internet users, a record. Apple’s revenues soared during the same period, with quarterly earnings rising 11 percent year-on-year to $59.7 billion. “Walmart, the country's largest grocer, said profits rose 4 percent, to $3.99 billion,” during the first quarter of 2020, as reported by the Washington Post.
The number of small businesses has been nearly cut in half by the covid-19 lockdowns and the Black Lives Matter/Antifa riots while the corporate giants have consolidated their grip on the economy, as well as their power over individual expression on the internet and beyond. Thus, it would appear that the covid lockdowns, shutdowns, partial closings, as well as the riots are just what the Great Resetters ordered, although I am not hereby suggesting that they did order them. More likely, they have seized the opportunity to cull from the economy the underbrush of small and medium-sized businesses in order to make compliance simpler and more pervasive.
In the end, the Great Reset is merely a propaganda campaign, not some button that globalist oligarchs can push at will—although the WEF has represented it as just that. Their plans need to be countered with better economic ideas and concerted individual actions. The only reasonable response to the Great Reset project is to defy it, to introduce and promote more competition, and to demand the full reopening of the economy, at whatever peril. If this means that smaller-scale producers and distributors must band together to defy state edicts, then so be it. New business associations, with the aim of foiling the Great Reset, must be formed—before it’s is too late.
First published at the Mises Institute.
Posted on 12/27/2020 5:18 AM by Michael Rectenwald
Sunday, 27 December 2020
Christian Population in Gaza Sinks, Reuters Blames Israel
by Hugh Fitzgerald
A Reuters report about the decrease in Gaza’s Christian population – it was 5,000 in 2007, and is now down to 1,000 – lays much of the blame on Israel. No mention is made of Muslim discrimination, persecution, and murder of Gazan Christians. A brief previous Jihad Watch report is here, and the story is here: “Reuters Blames Israel for Plight of Gaza Christians, Ignores Hamas Persecution,” by Gidon Ben-zvi, Algemeiner, December 17, 2020:
A December 10 Reuters piece written by Nidal al-Mughrabi rightly draws attention to the plight of Christians in the Gaza Strip. Yet the writer comes down with a case of selective amnesia, neglecting to note the history of persecution of this tiny minority by Gaza’s rulers.
In the article, Israel’s blockade of the Strip — imposed to repel incessant attempts by the Hamas terrorist group to attack the Jewish state — is assigned a disproportionate amount of the blame for the precarious state of the Palestinian enclave’s Christians.
Specifically, Israel is singled out as a key reason for the Christian flight from Gaza:
Its [Gaza’s] Christian population has declined by two-thirds over the past 15 years, a wave of emigration fueled by economic struggles and a desire to escape fighting between militant groups and Israel.
Actually, the Christian population in Gaza has since 2005 gone from 5,000 to 1,000, which is a decline not of 66%, not of 80%. And that “wave of emigration” was fueled mainly by a desire to escape discrimination and persecution by Muslims in Gaza.
The mass exodus is indeed the result of people wanting to get out of harm’s way.
However, Reuters omits the primary cause of their misfortune: It is Hamas violence against the Christian residents of Gaza, not Israel’s ongoing battle against the terrorist organization.
The violence that the Christians in Gaza are fleeing is of two kinds: first, they do not want to be caught in the middle of the violence which Hamas provokes when it attacks Israel and Israel responds; second, and much more important, they are fleeing the endless mistreatment – discrimination, persecution, and violence — visited upon them directly by Gazan Muslims – not only members of Hamas and the PIJ, but also by ordinary Muslims. There is no mention in this Reuters story about the many attacks on Palestinian Christians by Muslims, including vandalizing of churches, and harassment of Christian women (deemed fair game, as Infidels, for such treatment), discrimination against Christians in school admissions and in employment, physical attacks on Christians, vandalizing – including shooting at — churches, and the theft of Christian-owned property, especially land. As to legal remedies for this last, Sharia courts do not give equal weight to the testimony of Christians and Muslims. It is hard for a Christian to obtain justice against a Muslim in such courts.
The piece, “Gaza jeweler struggles to sell Christmas gold,” notes that Christian Palestinians “are feeling the economic sting of the health crisis and lockdowns. The pandemic has deepened economic hardship in Gaza, which is run by Islamist group Hamas and is under blockade by Israel. Egypt also imposes border restrictions, citing, as does Israel, security concerns.”
What goes unmentioned is the systematic persecution by Hamas.
There were approximately 5,000 Christians living in the Gaza Strip in 2005, the year that Israel unilaterally dismantled 21 Israeli settlements, evacuated some 9,000 Jewish residents, and pulled its army out of the enclave.
In 2007, Hamas violently took over the Gaza Strip, which it has ruled as the de facto Islamist authority ever since. For Hamas, Islam is not only a religion that guides its organizational aims, but also a source of law (sharia) to be imposed on all Gazans.
Long before COVID-19 and the blockades, Hamas-affiliated groups like Swords of Righteousness and the Army of Islam were targeting Gazan Christians with forced conversions, discrimination in schools, attacks on businesses, and martyrdom….
There was the forced conversion, for example, of the Christians Hiba Daoud and her husband to Islam. Speaking from the home of a Muslim family with whom she had been staying, and that would not let her leave. Daoud claimed it was her own choice to become a Muslim. But her relatives, including her aunt Hatin Ayad, who heard her speak, insisted Daoud had spoken under duress. The fact that Hiba Daoud was not allowed to leave the Muslim family to return to live with her relatives also strongly suggests continued duress.
Christian-owned businesses in Gaza have been attacked. A Christian bookshop was blown up, as was a Christian-owned Internet café. A prominent Palestinian Christian in the Gaza Strip, Rami Ayyad, director of the Protestant Holy Bible Society, was abducted from his home, stabbed and shot. The murder naturally created great anxiety among Gaza’s ever-decreasing Christian population. Whenever Muslims in Gaza are angered by something Christians may have said or done anywhere in the world, they take it out on the local Palestinian Christians. When Pope Benedict XVI made his famous remarks during a talk at Regensburg, quoting a 14th century Byzantine emperor, this unleashed a torrent of Muslim fury. The Pope had quoted just one sentence:
“Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”
That was enough to set off Muslim rage and violence all over the giddy globe. In Gaza, they reacted by shooting at the façade of the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City.
It’s not surprising that Christians in Gaza would convert to Islam: they are under great pressure to do so. If they want to obtain decent employment, or have their children admitted to better schools, if they want to be free of physical harassment (especially of Christian women) by Muslims who have been taught in the Qur’an to regard all non-Muslims as the “most vile of created beings” (98:6), if they want to be free of the constant insecurity that dhimmis feel in Muslim lands, converting to Islam provides immediate relief. Some Gazan Christians have found another way out: they leave the Strip and move to Europe, America, Australia, where they can practice their faith without fear.
The Christian population of Gaza has been going down since 1948. The only time it did not decrease, but held steady, was between 1967 and 2005, when Israel controlled the territory. In Bethlehem , the story is much the same though the dates are different. From 1948 to 1967, the city, which was 85% Christian at the beginning, under Jordanian rule declined slowly, but during Israel’s control, from 1967 to 1995, remained steady just as it did in Gaza. The Israelis provided protection for the Palestinian Christians from Muslim depredations.. Once the city was turned over to the Palestinian Authority by Israel in 1995, the decline in the Christian population resumed, and greatly increased. Bethlehem, which was 85% Christian in 1948, is 16% Christian today.
Christians in Bethlehem began to suffer greatly for their religious beliefs once the PA took control of the city in 1995. Life in Bethlehem has been increasingly marked by land theft with little to no legal recourse; harassment of Christian women; Christian businesses being forced to pay protection money; discrimination against Christians with regards to job opportunities; and churches being looted and vandalized.
Had Reuters wanted its readers to truly understand the plight of Palestinian Christians in Gaza, it might have included in its report the evidence from Bethlehem that explains that city’s Christian flight – that is, the mistreatment and persecution of Christians by Muslims similar to that they experience in Gaza. And in PA-ruled Bethlehem, where there is no Israeli blockade, there is no possibility of blaming the Jews for the dire situation of the city’s Christians. But Bethlehem was not mentioned in the Reuters report.
The result, similar to Gaza, was emigration en masse. In 1947, Christians comprised about 85% of the city’s population, and that figure has plunged to approximately 16%.
One recent study on the global persecution of Christians ranked the “Palestinian Territories” 49th out of 50. According to the report, “Islamic oppression” is fueling this tyranny against a religious minority. In addition, the study reveals that “Islamic extremist militants are also present in the West Bank, causing Christians to fear being attacked,” and that the persecution is particularly brutal for converts to Christianity.
Surely the Reuters report ought to have mentioned how significant “Islamic oppression” is in the Palestinian territories, making them 49th out of 50 states (or in this case, a pseudo-state) on a list of oppressors of Christians. But the authors of the report were determined to minimize Islamic persecution of Christians and to place blame on Israel, which has never knowingly attacked any Christians, for being Christians, in the Middle East. The Jewish state has instead in the past helped Lebanese Christians to survive attacks by Palestinian and other Muslims during the Lebanese Civil War, even arming and training a largely Christian self-defense force, the South Lebanon Army.
The Reuters article opted not to add a couple of lines of relevant context about the alarming situation of Gaza’s tiny, vulnerable Christian population.
There is thus no secret about why so many Christians have been leaving Gaza and the West Bank, for the safety of the Western, Christian (or post-Christian) lands, of Europe, North America, and Australia. Nor about why some Christians in Gaza and the West Bank, weary of being harassed, discriminated against, persecuted, attacked, and even murdered, would choose – just as tens of millions of non-Muslims (Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists) over the past 1,400 years have chosen — to convert to Islam in order to escape the persecution, the misery, the extortion, that were the lot of dhimmis. And then there are still, in Gaza and the West Bank, those diminishing numbers of brave Christians who chose to neither leave nor convert, but stubbornly hold on as witnesses for Christ in a Muslim sea.
Reuters owes its readers another, more truthful report on the Christians in Gaza. It is Christian women who are harassed by Muslims, it is Christians who are discriminated against in employment, whose children are kept out of good schools, who find their churches attacked, their businesses bombed, even their church leaders, like Rami Ayyad, murdered. Instead Reuters would have you believe that the Jewish state is at fault, because it supposedly provokes violent encounters with Hamas (no, Israel does not provoke – it responds to –the violence that originates with Hamas), with the Christians left helpless and vulnerable in the middle.
Reuters could do even more. It could explain why all over the Middle East Christians have been leaving and moving to non-Muslim lands. Israel had nothing to do with the repeated attacks on Christian Copts in Egypt. Israel had nothing to do, either, with the decline of Iraq’s Christian population from 1.5 million in 2003, to 120,000 today. Reuters should correct its error, and make clear that it is not Israel, but Islamic doctrine, and the behavior it elicits among Believers, that explains the plight of Christians in so many Muslim lands.
Will Reuters have the decency to do this?
Don’t be silly.
First published inn Jihad Watch.
Posted on 12/27/2020 4:51 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald