Sunday, 31 March 2019
Taxman kept quiet while £8bn fraud helped fund bin Laden and the 7/7 bombers

From the Sunday Times, and the Mail on Sunday 

A network of fraudsters stole billions of pounds from taxpayers in a 20-year crime spree on an industrial scale, funneling tens of millions to terrorists including Osama Bin Laden, according to police and intelligence files.

...British Asians based in London, Buckinghamshire, Birmingham, northwest England and Scotland mounted VAT and benefit frauds against the exchequer over two decades and made further gains from mortgage and credit card fraud targeting banks and individuals. The group netted an estimated £8bn in public money alone.

The gang, which has links to the 7/7 London bombings in which 52 people died, is alleged to have sent 1% of its gains, or £80m, to al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, where it funded madrasahs, training camps and other terrorist activities, according to the leaked files.

The gang infiltrated multiple government agencies and corrupted local politicians in its war on British taxpayers, the files allege. Much of the detail comes from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and Special Branch, which investigated the network over a 20-year period.

When the 9/11 attacks occurred in 2001, one official warned HMRC chiefs that he had 'basic information' that would be of great interest to MI5. Internal files seen by The Sunday Times show the officer said he was 'ready to meet someone from the intelligence services' with the 'mountains of information available to us' that had 'taken on a whole new significance' after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

'Officers and, increasingly, their direct management have become frustrated at the lack of action,' wrote the officer. His request was refused because HMRC was worried about preserving the taxpayer confidentiality of the terror suspects.

A major break in the case came in the months after 9/11 when, on abandoned laptops found by the CIA in mountains on the Afghan/Pakistan border, intelligence officers discovered al-Qaeda's money was coming in part from an accountant in an English town.

An undercover HMRC officer reported that hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza recruited young Muslims to work for the crime syndicate in the late 1990s, years before he became infamous as an al-Qaeda recruiter. A source said the factories which employed those workers Hamza recruited had extra staff who 'were ghosts claiming benefits and having car crashes'.

The source added: 'A factory of 180 workers only had 120 physical workers. The rest were identity frauds with all proceeds going back to the owners of the companies. This generated around £20,000 a week in benefit claims alone.' But the gang proved extremely difficult to penetrate, the report says. Undercover agents eventually resorted to attaching a camera to a dog and encouraging it to run around inside one of the network's factories just to find out how many people actually worked there.

HMRC intelligence officers also identified the gang’s links to Shehzad Tanweer, a terrorist involved in the 7/7 London bombings in 2005, at least two years before the attack. However, senior HMRC officials declined to use the intelligence to mount prosecutions and take the gang out of operation until after the bombings.

The files show four HMRC investigators pleaded with bosses to prosecute the crimelords but were rebuffed - and one claims he was prevented from sharing HMRC data with MI5 because the Revenue wanted to maintain the confidentiality of the terror suspects' tax records. The Crown Prosecution Service insists reporting might prejudice potential trials of the gang's ringleaders - despite the fact the kingpins fled the country years ago and are believed to be in hiding in the Middle East.

The report found widespread infiltration of government agencies, to obtain false identities and 'sensitive information'. From one company investigators found '20 potential internal fraud cases including [gang] members in government agencies', one intelligence summary said. Another said two Post Office employees seemed to be helping falsify documents, concluding: 'infiltration is widespread'. We know this. My generation of old school, incorruptible Civil Servants was culled from the service to 'increase diversity'. In the CPS placemen wouldn't prosecute certain offences. In MoJ placewomen made sure that the Judiciary think the 'right' way and will make the 'right' decisions. In the Immigration service Muslim placemen make sure that Christian applicants get turned down. Even I am shocked to realise that they are right in the heart of the revenue and cheating money to fund jihad. 

One gang member who can be identified is Afra Syab Ilyas, an accountant with Burnley borough council. The files state that he left Lancashire for Afghanistan in the late 1990s to fight for the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist movement that gave shelter to bin Laden as he plotted his 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan. Ilyas was killed when an artillery shell hit a mosque near the capital, Kabul. It emerged that he had left for Afghanistan not long after hearing Abu Hamza deliver a lecture at a mosque in Burnley.

Nazir Afzal, a leading prosecutor who brought the Rochdale sex-grooming gang to justice in a series of linked trials, said the situation was unprecedented. “The scandal here is that individuals have been to prison and come out of prison, yet the public still don’t know about it,” he said. “I have never heard of reporting restrictions being in place for defendants who have fled the country. You can’t have a situation when we wait several more years to find out what has happened here. This is of major public interest.”

Last night Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the public accounts committee, told the Sunday Times said she would consider launching a parliamentary inquiry and would question Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary and national security adviser to the prime minister, tomorrow.

Posted on 03/31/2019 8:19 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 31 March 2019
In Gaza, Hamas Beats and Tortures Those Who Protest Its Misrule

by Hugh Fitzgerald

In Gaza, it is not Israel, but Hamas that is the great oppressor of the local Arabs. That became clear in mid-March, with spontaneous protests against Hamas erupting all over Gaza.

The story is here:

Hamas is facing the biggest demonstrations yet against its 12-year rule of the Gaza Strip, with hundreds of Palestinians taking to the streets in recent days to protest the dire living conditions in the blockaded territory.

With little tolerance for dissent, the Islamic militant group has responded with heavy-handed tactics. It has arrested dozens of protesters, beaten activists and violently suppressed attempts by local media to cover the unrest….

“There is no political agenda at all,” said Amin Abed, 30, an organizer who has been forced into hiding. “We simply want to live in dignity,” he said by telephone. “We just ask Hamas to ease the economic hardships and tax burdens.”…

Unemployment is over 50 percent and much higher for young university graduates like Abed. Tap water is undrinkable, electricity is limited and travel abroad severely restricted. Hamas’ cash-strapped government recently raised taxes on basic goods like bread, beans and cigarettes.

Protesters accuse Hamas of corruption and imposing the hefty taxes to enrich itself. They used social media to organize protests last week with the slogan “We want to live!”…

“These protests were the largest, the longest and the most violent in terms of Hamas’ suppression,” said Mkhaimar Abusada, political science professor at Gaza’s al-Azhar University….

On Monday, Amnesty International reported that hundreds of protesters have been beaten, arbitrarily arrested, tortured and subjected to ill-treatment. Journalists and human rights workers, including a researcher for the London-based organization, were also roughed up, Amnesty said.

“The crackdown on freedom of expression and the use of torture in Gaza has reached alarming new levels,” said Amnesty’s Middle East deputy director Saleh Higazi….

Other amateur videos have shown protesters burning tires and hurling stones toward Hamas forces. Hamas gunmen can be seen jumping out of vehicles and beating people with clubs. Other videos show Hamas going door to door and carrying out mass arrests….

The Brussels-based International Federation of Journalists reported Monday that 42 Palestinian journalists “were targeted” by Hamas forces in the past five days. The abuses included physical assaults, summons, threats, home arrests and seizure of equipment….

Abed, the protest leader, said Hamas has stormed his family’s house and delivered an arrest warrant for him to his father.

“Hamas doesn’t want us to scream. It wants us to die in silence,” he said.

In Gaza, people are visibly fed up with those who have made their lives increasingly miserable. By this they do not mean Israel, but Hamas, which ever since it seized power in 2007, has pushed the Gazan Arabs into poverty, through its mismanagement of the economy, misallocation of resources to its leaders, and staggering corruption. While the Gazan Arabs suffer increasing poverty, and 70% of young Gazans are unemployed, the leaders in Hamas are thriving; some of its leaders have amassed millions and live in seaside villas; two men who have been leaders in Hamas, Khaled Meshaal and Mousa Abu Marzouk, have each managed to  accumulate the astonishing sum of several billion dollars.

In March, this discontent with Hamas erupted in dozens of protests all over Gaza. The Gazans shouted out their fury over their economic situation, the higher prices on basic foodstuffs, the higher taxes, and the much higher levels of unemployment that they are forced to endure. They threw rocks at Hamas men, they set tires on fire in the streets. They were calling for their Hamas rulers to roll back increases in taxes and higher prices on goods, and to present a plan to end Gaza’s sky-high unemployment.

Hamas responded with great violence, rounding up more than 1,000 protesters, beating and in some cases torturing them. One spokesman for Fatah, which as the military wing of the Palestinian Authority, is the enemy of Hamas, had both his arms and both his legs broken by Hamas fighters, in a warning to other Fatah men. Hamas has charged the Palestinian Authority and Israel with collaborating to foment these protests; no evidence has been presented for this claim, and every report from Gaza makes clear that these protests have not been organized, but are spontaneous in nature: unplanned eruptions of anger at an unbearable economic situation. Israel has not had a presence in Gaza since 2005, and has done nothing, from outside, to foment Gazan discontent with Hamas which would likely only backfire, as a Zionist attempt to sow discord among Muslims. While both Israel and the Palestinian Authority would no doubt like to see Hamas’s rule over Gaza come to an end, this uprising was not their doing.

Fatah simply doesn’t have the presence in Gaza it once did. Hamas has threatened, imprisoned, expelled, or killed, many Fatah members in Gaza over the last dozen years. Until these latest protests began, it appeared to have an iron grip over the territory.

In the dozen years since Hamas seized control of Gaza, it has become increasingly dictatorial, and its members ever more greedy for power and money. In the past, when there were attempts at small-sale protests over economic issues, Hamas simply smashed the protests, beat and detained protesters with sufficient brutality to persuade others not to join in. But in 2019, the economic misery of the Gaza Arabs has become so overwhelming that, driven by desperation, they no longer feared being beaten; people came out to denounce Hamas, knowing full well that they would be put down by brute force. They had a simple slogan: “We want to live.” They were prepared to be beaten and arrested, and more than a thousand of them were.

Seventeen journalists covering Gaza were also arrested since the protests began, and their equipment seized. Of the ten who were released as of this writing, four required hospitalization because of the severity of the beatings they had received. The U.N. envoy, Nickolay E. Mladenov, denounced Hamas for its use of violence against both protesters and journalists.

Hamas may now try to start a real war with Israel, in order to distract the Gazan Arabs from protesting their economic lot under Hamas rule. That might have worked in the past, but after Hamas suffered five defeats in five wars, some quite brief, fought between Gaza and Israel, in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014, a populace now enraged over a catastrophic economic situation might not be as willing as it once was to be distracted by a war with Israel. In fact, such a war would inevitably lead to a crushing defeat of Hamas, and provide more evidence of the terrorist group’s incompetence in every respect, except that of terrorizing and subjugating its own people, the “Palestinians” in Gaza. Worse still, another conflict with Israel would make the economic situation even more dire for the Gazans in two ways. First, the Gazan Arabs would have to  pay for much of the expensive war materiel used up by Hamas in this new conflict; rockets and missiles are not cheap. Second, punishing attacks on Gaza by Israel would destroy infrastructure that the Gazans would have to expensively replace.

Hamas may with its wonted brutality break the back of this protest, but as long as the economic situation remains dismal, there will be other attacks. There are two ways to improve economic conditions in Gaza. One is to convince the rulers of Gaza that putting money into futile war-making against Israel needs to end: no more rockets and missiles to be stockpiled, which are then shot out of the sky by Israel’s defenses, no more expensive tunnels need be dug, only to be found and destroyed by Israeli sappers. Were the rulers of Gaza convinced of the pointlessness of their endless wars with the Jews, they could put the aid money given by donors, that is now being spent on preparing for war, instead on investing in small-scale manufacturing and farming in Gaza. Provided Gaza disarms, the Israelis would no doubt be willing to help with both undertakings.

The second way to improve the economy in Gaza is to stop the fantastic drain of corruption. The Gazans do not know the true magnitude of the problem. Mousa Abu Marzouk and Khaled Meshaal, two Hamas leaders, have each managed to make off with more than $2.5 billion. That’s at least $5 billion that has been stolen from the Gazan Arabs by just two men. There ought to be some way to claw back those billions, either by actions of the donor countries who first provided the money, or by the “Palestinians” in Gaza, bringing suit in their own courts to recover the funds stolen from them. Neither Marzouk nor Meshaal will voluntarily comply with any finding against them, but they can be threatened by those fellow members of Hamas who are not corrupt, resent terribly those who are, and are prepared to use Hamas methods on corrupt Hamas leaders, by making them offers they can’t refuse.

First published in Jihad Watch here and here.

Posted on 03/31/2019 6:48 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 31 March 2019
Why the Criticism of William Barr Is Unfair

by Gary Fouse

Now that the Mueller investigation has finally come to an end, Democrats, the media, and Hollywood celebrities are having a major hissy fit trying to figure out how to keep the collusion mantra going. Some have accused Mueller of being a Russian agent just like President Trump. Far fetched? Of course, but that's the direction that the Democrats and media have gone.

Then there is the matter of Attorney General William Barr, newly appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate. Barr is a much respected professional who served as AG under George H W Bush. He is a convenient target not only because he is a political appointee, and a Republican, but wrote a memo back in 2017 criticizing Mueller's investigation of possible obstruction of justice by the president. His critics are now charging that he took the Mueller report and made the final call on whether to charge any crimes. Thus, the reasoning goes, the final call was made by a political appointee of the president.

On the surface, that may sound like a reasonable argument. The problem is that this is the procedure that was supposed to be followed. The special prosecutor was, indeed, tasked to submit his final report to the attorney general. He could make recommendations, such as to charge certain people or not to charge. Mueller's judgment was that no further indictments were called for, there was no evidence that Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russians, and finally, he could make no conclusion as to the question of obstruction of justice by Trump.

More importantly, it would have been far more troubling had Barr overruled the conclusions and recommendations of Mueller. The special prosecutor situation is somewhat unique within federal law enforcement, but it can be compared to when investigators from a federal agency,  like the FBI, present a case report to the US Attorney's Office. When the investigative team, in this case, led by Mueller, submits its case report to the prosecutor, in this case Barr, it is the latter who makes the decision on whether to go ahead with prosecution, indictments etc.  If the investigators cannot present a prosecutable case to the prosecutor, it would be the height of folly and unethical for the prosecutor to indict. If the investigators want to charge someone, they need to present a solid case to the prosecutor. (Again, consider Mueller to be the investigator here.) This is something Mueller failed to do.

On the other hand, had Mueller presented a prosecutable case to the attorney general, and Barr declined to prosecute, then the Democrats would have an argument. Of course, this is not even taking into account the legal question of whether a sitting president could be prosecuted in the first place.

There is much to criticize Mueller about over the manner in which he conducted this two-year investigation. In the end, he presented, in my opinion, an honest and proper conclusion as to the president. Barr has followed his role to the letter. If the Democrats in Congress want to keep beating this dead horse, they do so at their political peril.

Posted on 03/31/2019 5:38 AM by Gary Fouse
Saturday, 30 March 2019
In Turkey, Antisemitism Right and Left

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Last year, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for the creation of an “Army of Islam” to attack Israel from all sides, in order to destroy it.

That was shocking, but not surprising, for Erdogan has long been outspoken in his hostility to the Jewish state. Before Erdogan, relations between Turkey and Israel had long been close. Trade and tourism between the two countries boomed. Turkey was the favored destination of Israeli tourists. Israeli technicians were modernizing Turkish combat jets. Israeli pilots practiced maneuvers in Turkish airspace. There were also plans for high-tech cooperation and water sharing.

This ended when Recep Tayyip Erdogan was elected president in 2003. He began to speak about Israel as an “oppressor” of the “Palestinians” and of the need for Turkey to express its solidarity with fellow Muslims. When Israel went to war in Gaza to stop rocket fire on its southern villages in 2009, Erdogan angrily denounced Israel for defending itself.

Relations deteriorated much more rapidly because of the Mavi Marmara episode. A flotilla of six ships attempted to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza in 2010. Israeli ships tried to stop them. Five of the six ships offered only passive resistance. Those on board the sixth, Turks on a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, put up a fight against Israeli commandos trying to board, and nine armed Turks were killed, with a tenth severely wounded. This caused a furor in Turkey; Erdogan was enraged. Normal diplomatic relations with Israel were frozen — and would remain that way until 2015, when Prime Minister Netanyahu apologized for the Mavi Marmara deaths and agreed to pay $20 million in compensation. Turkey was in 2015 greatly interested in receiving natural gas — from Israel, so as to break its dependence on supplies from Russia, and that might also help explain its very brief, and very slight, warming toward the Jewish state.

But despite that short period of a scarcely discernible rapprochement, Erdogan soon reverted to type, again constantly denouncing Israel, taking the side of the “Palestinians.” This past March, an article appear in Yeni Safak, a newspaper that is regarded as Erdogan’s mouthpiece, under the title “What if an Army of Islam was Formed Against Israel?” The piece openly called on the 57 member states of the OIC to form a joint “Army of Islam” — presumably under Turkish direction — to simultaneously attack Israel from the east, west, north, and south, in order to destroy it.

So that is where relations stand between President Erdogan and Israel — they could hardly be worse.

Then last summer we discovered, to our chagrin, that Erdogan has been echoed in his hysterical anti-Israel views not only by a leading figure in his ruling AKP party, but also by a leading figure in the opposition, an opposition that many in the West surely assumed was, in contradistinction to Erdogan, sensible, liberal, secular, and above all, rational. How wrong they were.

Turkish Opposition Figure Criticizes ‘Jewish’ Award, After Founder of Ruling Party Claims ‘Jewish Bankers’ Control US Economy

A founding member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accused Zionist Jews on Tuesday of secretly controlling the US economy, days before a leading opposition figure criticized the AKP for accepting a prize from a Jewish-American group.

In a tweet shared by more than 900 people, Burhan Kuzu alleged that a dozen “Zionist banking families of Jewish descent, whose numbers  do not exceed 300,” oversee the printing of US dollars.

Here we go again, with the antisemitic trope of the “Jewish bankers.” Burhan Kuzu needs to be reminded that the “printing of US dollars” is not done by “Zionist banking families,” but by the United States Department of Engraving and Printing, which has been engaged in that task since long before the appearance of “Zionism” or of “Zionist banking families.” It would be fascinating to know exactly how Mr. Kuzu counted up those twelve — count them, twelve — Jewish banking families “whose numbers do not exceed 300.”

After claiming that Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy “were killed by the Zionists” for trying to wrest control of the economy back from “Jewish bankers,” he [Burhan Kuzu] called on President Donald Trump to follow in their footsteps. “But he can’t do it, because they will assassinate him,” Kuzu said. “Try it Trump, and see what happens!”

Again, just to refresh Mr. Kuzu’s curious memory: there were no “Zionists” around (and very few “Jewish bankers”) in 1865 to kill Abraham Lincoln, nor any reason for them to have wished to do so. Lincoln was, in fact, the first president to have extensive social contact with Jews in the United States, as we shall see tomorrow.

Abraham Jonas of Springfield, Illinois, whose sons fought on both sides during the Civil War, was himself an active Republican who helped place Lincoln’s name in nomination in 1860. Samuel G. Alschuler, a Bavarian Jewish immigrant and photographer, took numerous photographic portraits of Lincoln from his days as a young, rising politician to the president’s funeral procession as it worked its way through Chicago en route to his final resting place in Springfield. As president, Lincoln was regularly attended to by a Jewish foot doctor, Issachar Zacharie, who was a favorite of the whole Lincoln family. Burhan Kuzu apparently knows nothing of the philosemitism Lincoln repeatedly displayed.

As for President Kennedy, there have been whole bookshelves dedicated to Lee Harvey Oswald, but though many wild charges have been made about him, no one has yet declared that that homegrown Marxist was a tool of the “Zionists” until Burhan Kuzu came along. Kennedy himself was keenly aware of his own father’s antisemitism, and as president was pro-Israel in both his sentiments and his policies. No “Zionist” would have wanted him killed. And has Kuzu forgotten who killed JFK’s brother Robert in 1968, the brother who, had he lived, might well have become President himself? It was Sirhan Sirhan, a “Palestinian” from Jordan, who calmly explained that he had killed Robert Kennedy for supporting Israel during the Six-Day War. Kuzu could benefit from a little more study of our presidential history. However, antisemitism is by its very nature unhinged from reality; the truth seldom has any effect on those suffering from that mental pathology. So perhaps no amount of study will change Burhan Kuzu’s imperfect grasp of reality.

The lira recently plummeted in value after Trump imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, amidst a diplomatic row over Ankara’s ongoing detention of a American evangelical pastor, which also saw Washington sanction two of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s cabinet members. Turkey — whose economy was already on the brink before the spat — has retaliated by doubling tariffs on certain US imports.

I’m surprised that no one in Turkey has yet claimed that Pastor Branson is really a Zionist agent, with the perfect cover — pretending to be a pastor these past 26 years, spreading the gospel in Turkey, while actually an agent of Mossad — and clever enough to have arranged for his own arrest and imprisonment, so as to worsen Turkish-American ties. Anything is possible when those diabolically clever “Zionists” are involved. Burhan Kuzu, take note!

And then there is the head of the Turkish opposition (CHP), another unhinged carrier of antisemitism:

In a separate Twitter thread on Thursday, Muharrem Ince — who served as the presidential candidate for Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in the June 24 [2018] elections — criticized the AKP’s recent statements about the US, claiming his own party has been on the vanguard of the fight against “imperialism.”

He accused Erdogan’s party of “protecting the outpost of imperialism with every policy” since 1950, and “surrendering the state to the Fetö terrorist organization” led by Turkish preacher Fethullah Gülen, who Ankara blames for a failed 2016 coup.

What does Ince mean by an “outpost of imperialism”? This is a reference to Israel, as the ally of the United States and therefore an “outpost” of American imperialism. Why did Ince mention the date “1950”? It was on January 7,1950 that the first Turkish diplomatic representation in Israel, a legation, was formally inaugurated.

So Erdogan, who has called for an Army of Islam to destroy Israel, is here being denounced by the leader of the opposition CHP as having all along been “protecting” the very outpost of imperialist America — Israel — that he has been endlessly attacking. What’s next in the wild imagination of Muharrem Ince? Does he think Erdogan is actually a Zionist double agent, only pretending to be hostile to Israel while, all along, he’s been “protecting” it?

Just as ludicrous, Muharrem Ince accuses Erdogan of “surrendering the state” to the followers of the Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen. But Erdogan described the 2016 coup as being planned and led from Pennsylvania by Gulen. It was Erdogan who detained more than 100,000 people and arrested 47,500 of them, accusing them of being followers of Gulen. These included thousands of high-ranking officers, judges, lawyers, journalists, media personalities, and writers. All of them were charged with being part of a coup supposedly organized by Fethullah Gulen; it is Erdogan who keeps demanding that the Americans extradite Gulen from Pennsylvania to Turkey. Yet here we have the leader of the opposition charging Erdogan, who has for two years been whipping up anti-Gulen sentiment,  of “surrendering the state” to none other than his worst enemy, Fethullah Gulen. The sheer craziness of Turkish political life is clearly not confined either to Erdogan or to the AKP.

“You are the partners to the Greater Middle East Project for the last 16 years,” Ince added. “You are those who are worthy of the Jewish Courage Prize with the services you have done and deserve this award.”

Many commentators have taken this as a negative reference to the “Courage to Care Award” that Erdogan accepted in 2005 from the US-based Anti-Defamation League, which was dedicated to the people of Turkey for their efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Erdogan was not, pace Muharrem Ince, awarded the Courage to Care award; he only accepted it on behalf of its intended recipients, “the people of Turkey for their efforts to save Jews during the Holocaust.”

Erdogan also accepted a “Profile of Courage” award from the American Jewish Congress in 2004 for his commitment to protecting Turkish Jews and supporting Middle East peace efforts. He agreed to an AJC request to return the award in 2014, following criticism of his “dangerous rhetoric” during that summer’s war between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, president of the Jewish community of Turkey, denounced Ince’s language on Thursday, asking in a tweet, “Mr. Muharrem, what’s the problem with the ‘Jewish’ award?”

“In an environment where the word ‘Jewish’ has become a symbol of hatred and alienation,” he said, “we expect you to remove this tweet that lacks awareness!”

Ince’s comments are not the first to raise concerns about antisemitism in the Turkish left. In November, Ozgur Özel — a CHP parliamentary group leader — claimed that then-Prime Minister Binali Y?ld?r?m would fail to discuss a US clampdown on Turkish visas during a visit to Washington, and would instead “seek support from the Jewish lobby.”

In Erdogan’s earliest days in power, having gone from being Mayor of Istanbul to Prime Minister, when it wasn’t clear how anti-Israel and how antisemitic Erdogan would turn out to be, the American Jewish Congress gave him its “Profile of Courage” award for his “commitment to protecting Jewish Turkish Jews” (which, rhetorically, he did), and his “supporting Middle East peace efforts,” which would, beginning in 2009, turn out to mean supporting the “Palestinians” to the hilt and denouncing Israelis for their attempts to defend their country from Hamas rockets. When that award was given to him in 2004, it still looked as if Erdogan might continue to treat Israel, if not any longer as an ally, at least not as the enemy it subsequently became for him. Indeed, in 2005 he paid a visit to Israel.

Muharrem Ince thinks it shameful that Erdogan should ever have accepted  any awards from any Jewish group. For him, that implies a sinister connection — no need to spell it out — to the “Zionists.” Erdogan was given, and accepted, exactly one award for himself (the other he accepted on behalf of the “people of Turkey”), and when asked by the American Jewish Congress to return that award in 2014 because of his strong criticism of Israel that year, he eagerly complied, taking the occasion to lash out at Israel yet again. But apparently that cuts no ice with Ince. Not even the fact that Erdogan has been described as possibly “the most antisemitic leader now in office” saves him, in Ince’s view, from being too close to the Zionists.

Erdogan’s incessant over-the-top comments about Israel are noteworthy. With his offer to create an “Army of Islam” to destroy the Jewish state, he can hardly be outdone in antisemitic malevolence. But he is not, alas, a lonely figure on the Turkish political landscape. He has plenty of company. There is Burhan Kuzu of the AKP, who knows “Jewish bankers” — a dozen families — control everything in the United States, and have done so since at least 1865, when the Zionists killed Abraham Lincoln. Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, the Koch brothers — please take note. There is Muharrem Ince, the opposition leader who hopes to outdo Erdogan in antisemitism, by accusing him of being too closely linked to the Jews. Pay no attention to how Erdogan has been lambasting Israel for the past 13 years, says Ince, but just remember that in 2004 he accepted an award for  speaking in friendly fashion about Turkish Jewry. Erdogan, for shame!

There must be some sane people in Turkish politics, not unhinged by antisemitism. If you hear of them,  please let me know. I’ll be glad to post both their names and examples of their sanity. For me, it would be a Turkish delight.

First published in Jihad Watch here, here and here.

Posted on 03/30/2019 5:17 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 29 March 2019
Michael Rectenwald on Fox & Friends Saturday, March 30 8:50 AM EST
Michael Rectenwald, author of the bestselling Springtime for Snowflakes:Social Justice and its Postmodern Parentage and the forthcoming Google Archipelago, both published by New English Review Press, will be on Fox & Friends Saturday, March 30, at 8:50 EST.  Be sure to catch him discussing academia today! 


Posted on 03/29/2019 8:43 PM by Michael Rectenwald
Friday, 29 March 2019
London: Brexit Betrayal Rally

To Westminster. Friday 29th March 2019. It should have been Brexit Day. Even last week we still hoped that in the absence of a deal, we would leave on the designated day under WTO terms. But no. So what was concieved as a party, turned into a rally of anger and constructive resolve. I got there late as I had an unbreakable earlier committment. So I didn't see the final leg of the March to Leave which started in Sunderland walk into Parliament Square at 3pm. Whitehall and Parliament Square were full of a well behaved crowd. UKIP had a platform in Parliament Street towards Whitehall and the other groups, Leave EU, The Brexit Party and other groups had a platform opposite St Margaret's church. So we had a choice if we wanted to circulate. 

These are a selection of photographs. 

The English yellow vest movement isn't as widespread as in France; they are concentrating on justice for the three boys killed by a hit and run driver and his passenger. 

Gerard Batten, leader of UKIP was making his first speech as I arrived. 

I will never forget the day in June 2016 when the Fishing for Leave fleet came up the Thames to Parliament. I believe that the foul language of Bob Geldorf, abusing brave fishermen who work hard to put fish on our plates confirmed the vote to leave for many people. 

Apres Brexit - Frexit. There were a lot of French people with tricoleur flags, and the Cross of Lorraine, also a blue and white Fleur de Lys flag. 

This man was either tired or despondent.  When I went past a few weeks ago the memorial on the spot where PC Palmer was murdered by a jihadist who attacked on Westminster bridge was surrounded by flowers. I expect they were moved inside the gates temporarily. 

Alan Craig, whose work in Newham opposing the implimentation of the West Ham 'Mega mosque' I much admired introduced each speaker on the UKIP platform. 

He was sweet; he had a cold wet nose and licked my hand...

Even Darth Vader understood the seriousness of the occasion

The Parliament Square platform sang the hymn I Vow to Thee my Country. 
The man in the tin helmet was French and carried a large tricoleur. I couldn't get close enough to the stage to hear much there, so I decided to concentrate on the UKIP platform, especially as I had a particular interest in several of the speakers. I know that while I was in Parliament square Lord Pearson spoke on the UKIP platform. 

Veterans against Terrorism spoke, their leader Richard Ingram and another. Their first concern (which I share, for reasons I won't bore you with) was the persecution and now prosecution of veterans of the Parachute Regiment for actions during Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland over 45 years ago. British soldiers who were doing their duty, while members of the IRA have amnesty. They were also concerned at plans for the Eu Army, which are not necessarily going to end once we get Brexit. The agreement is a separate one. A British soldier swears alligance to the Queen and her heirs and successors. Who would an EU soldier swear alligance to? George Soros?

Paul Oakley, UKIP General Secretary (whose book is available for pre-order here) spoke. 
He spoke of the decline of the British Fishing industry, the British steel industry, the numerous redundancies as British factories have been closed and moved elsewhere in Europe with EU subsidies. 
EU interference in everyday life, including proposed speed limiters on our cars, which will also track our every movement, and moves to limit the internet and copyright. 

He also spoke about the EU army. Why does the EU need an army? Do they have ideas of Imperialist expansion? Into Ukraine perhaps, and a war with Russia? Or use in civil disturbance, on the streets of Barcelona, the boulevards of Paris. Maybe eventually here, the streets of London. 

While those ordinary citizens who voted Remain may be members of our family and friends we can never forgive the likes of Blair, Starmer, Soubry. 

Sweets....chocolate... now, all free. Like the childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but without any of the charm. They have told the citizens of the EU that they cannot leave the Eu by democratic means. We can and must stop them. 

I had missed Tommy's first speech but he came and spoke again. 

He expressed his affection for the crowd. Our people, the working class who have been overlooked and forgotten. He asked to be allowed to join UK and the reaction from the crowd present was favourable. 

Gerard Batten spoke again. He said that he had given a television interview while other speakers were on stage. The interviewer first mentioned the 'far-right Tommy Robinson'. Batten said that his first remarks were that Tommy is not far-right. If he were he would have nothing to do with him. He joked that Tommy is no saint, and would he please keep out of trouble in future, but he has a lot to bring. 

The rally ended with land of Hope and Glory. It was a good turn out, all sorts of people from all ages and walks of life, other than very few children, this being a school day. 

Hopefully Teresa May could hear (and see) the crowd, safely behind her security at 10 Downing Street, even if she does spend the rest of the weekend at the PM's country retreat Chequers. 

As I made my way to the station others were taking the message into Westminster, around and about. 


Photographs E Weatherwax London March 2019

Posted on 03/29/2019 4:42 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Friday, 29 March 2019
The Absurd Collusion Delusion Goes up in Smoke at Last

It was amply documented that the Russians meddled in the election and made repeated efforts to associate with the Trump campaign, but that all such overtures were rebuffed

by Conrad Black

As the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy vanishes in a flash and puff of smoke, the colossal absurdity of it suddenly becomes clearer. Former senior CIA and FBI officials — John Brennan and Andrew McCabe — said in the last two weeks that the president of the U.S. may be “an asset” of the government of the detritus of the old Soviet Union, a country shorn of more than half of its population and with a GDP smaller than Canada’s. This was always an insane proposition. No U.S. major party presidential candidate would ever have considered colluding with a foreign government to rig an election, and no one who tried to would even get a security clearance. Yet practically the entire Democratic Party and 80 per cent of the American national media bought more or less fully into this Brobdingnagian canard.

The Clinton campaign commissioned a pastiche of defamatory falsehoods collected by a retired British spy and created an echo chamber between the U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, leaking parts of this spurious political assault document to the press and then citing the press references as evidence of its veracity. Even after it was fairly clear that this was what had probably happened, the collusion fable flourished imperishably. The majority of the U.S. national media constantly repeated the refrain for two years that the country’s elected leader had probably committed more grave crimes of national betrayal than those for which Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in 1953 (mere espionage).

Some of us who are published in the United States and appear on current affairs programs there sometimes warned that this was simply impossible and that the politicization of the intelligence agencies, including the FBI, was an extreme danger to constitutional government. Now the most comprehensive investigation in American history, surpassing even that of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, conducted by die-hard Trump haters and Democratic activists who desperately wanted to find some truth in this mad fantasy, found, reassuringly, no evidence that any American colluded in any way with any foreigners to intervene in the election. It was amply documented that the Russians meddled in the election (ineffectually), and that they made repeated efforts to associate their efforts with the Trump campaign, but that all such overtures were rebuffed. The more high-minded American commentators recognized that this verdict was heartening to the whole country.

The attempt by President Trump’s enemies to cling to supposed ambiguity on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice is ridiculous. The attorney-general explained in his letter to the Congressional judiciary committee leaders on Sunday that to charge obstruction (which special counsel Mueller did not recommend), it would be necessary to be confident beyond a reasonable doubt that the suspect had committed an obstructive act with corrupt intent in regard to a judicial proceeding, and that neither he nor the deputy attorney-general, Rod Rosenstein (who had recommended the firing of the FBI director, James Comey, and had appointed Mueller in the first place), nor the independent counsel of the Justice Department, considered that there was any evidence of any of the necessary ingredients for an obstruction charge, and they had been examining the issue for the 30 days since Mueller had forewarned the attorney-general of his findings. That turkey won’t fly any better than the Russian collusion fable.

This astonishing state of affairs arose because Donald Trump successfully attacked the entire political establishment for 20 years of fruitless wars and humanitarian crises in the Middle East, the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression, flat-lined living standards being the “new normal” and a foreign policy that oscillated between George W. Bush’s trigger-happy foreign policy and Barack Obama’s declinist passivity and evaporating “red lines.” Such an election upset caused great stupefaction, especially because Trump had spent much of his career in shadowy, over-publicized, and often hucksterish activities that sometimes were outright flimflam. His career and public personality invited suspicion that he was ethically challenged. From these unique circumstances, the monster of the Russian collusion fraud was born and lurched about for over two years.

The imputation of base motives to Trump is not surprising, but the supreme defamation of treason is the most disgraceful character assassination in American political history. It was part of a largely uncoordinated scheme in which all of the men just named, and the former attorney-general and deputy attorney-general (Loretta Lynch and Sally Yates), as will be deduced from hearings and investigations that are in some cases already underway, politicized impartial national security agencies and attempted to influence a presidential election, and then to undo the result of that election. All the agitation and histrionics of Democratic committee chairmen in the House of Representatives about new investigations is just hot air.

The unearthing of the anti-Trump conspiracy will produce shocking revelations of misconduct by high intelligence and federal police officials; this is the last stop before the outright intervention of the armed forces: tanks on the White House lawn and generals and admirals commandeering television stations to announce the overthrow of the government. It will all be sorted out in a way that discourages a repetition. This is the scandal and the menace, not this unutterable bunk about collusion with Russia. Trump countered the hostile 80 or 90 per cent of the national media with his dominance of the talk shows, local media, social media, and the powers of communication of his office. He is, in his way, a very effective communicator, and he maintained his army of supporters intact in a very hostile media climate. He is already rising in the polls now.

Canada is, of all foreign countries, the most generally informed about American affairs, and it was almost monochromatically credulous toward these nonsensical charges against the president. It need hardly be emphasized that Donald Trump is a singularly un-Canadian personality. He is many things that Canadians are not and don’t generally admire. Nothing is wrong with that; he has no reason to care what Canadians think and Canadians have no obligation to like him. But we do have an obligation to ourselves to recognize and describe American political events accurately and even perceptively. No one seriously expects the Europeans to figure out American affairs. They generally stereotype Americans (along with Canadians) and even the British rarely have any concept of the U.S. apart from New York, Washington and Los Angeles, interesting cities which fortunately don’t much influence U.S. national elections.

The long-impressive magazine, the Economist, is utterly clueless and impenetrably condescending in its American political coverage. (Mercifully, my subscription of 60 years lapsed just after I read in the Economist that the president’s future would be determined by Michael Cohen.) Almost all foreigners missed the greatest American political story in 150 years — the attempted manipulation of a presidential election by the country’s intelligence and federal police forces.

There may have been other commentators than I in this country who warned what was really happening in these controversies, but I don’t recall many. Every time I appeared with other people on television discussing this, there were always complacent assurances that “the noose is tightening on Trump” and “the walls are closing in” and so forth. Our media failed. Our correspondents in Washington just took the feed from the Trump-haters and did precisely nothing to explain what was really happening, or to prepare the Canadian public for the outcome, or even comment intelligently after the collusion bubble burst. Dislike of Trump, I repeat, is quite understandable, but an almost complete failure of our media that focuses on Washington to grasp, even after the revelation of it, what was really unfolding there, is inexcusable.

First published in the National Post

Posted on 03/29/2019 12:15 PM by Conrad Black
Friday, 29 March 2019
Riada Akyol Presents the “Tolerant Islam” of Bosnia

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Riada Akyol wants Europeans not to worry about the ongoing invasion of Muslims — there are now 44 million of them in Europe — but to take heart from the experience of Bosnia, where, she claims, a “liberal European Islam” developed that could serve as a model for Muslims all over Europe.

What is too little noticed, however, is that a tolerant European Islam has already existed for centuries—on the southeastern part of the continent, where Bosnian Muslims, Albanians, Turks, and others see themselves as fully Muslim and fully European. A 2013 Pew Research Center study shows that they’re among the most liberal Muslims in the world. For example, only tiny minorities of surveyed Bosnian Muslims, known as Bosniaks, think adulterers must be stoned and apostates executed, in contrast with large majorities in favor of both stances among Pakistani and Egyptian Muslims.

The majority of Bosnians gradually accepted Islam after the Ottomans brought it to the region in the 15th century. They ruled until 1878, when they lost Bosnia to a longtime rival: the Austro-Hungarian empire. Many Bosniaks at that point felt uncomfortable under their new rulers, not least because classic texts of Muslim jurisprudence had banned living in territory ruled by non-Muslims. From 1878 to 1918, an estimated 150,000 emigrated to Turkey.

Why did the “majority of Bosnians” under Ottoman rule “accept” — i.e., convert — to Islam? They did so, as so many non-Muslims did elsewhere, in order to be free of the many onerous conditions, including payment of the Jizyah, that were imposed on non-Muslim dhimmis. The author leaves the piquant subject of the dhimmi out of her telling. In the case of the Ottoman Turks, there was an additional demand made on their Infidel subjects. From the fourteenth century on, the Turks established the devshirme system, whereby in the Balkans, Christian boys, from the ages of 8 to 18,  were delivered up to the Turks, who would then convert them and raise them up to be soldiers for the Sultan. This was another inducement for Christians to convert to Islam, so as to avoid having to hand over their sons in this cruel system..

It is likely that the 150,000 Bosnians who emigrated to Turkey after Bosnia became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were mostly the more fervent Believers, those who did not believe Muslims should continue to live in a country ruled by non-Muslims; those who remained in Bosnia were likely less devout, and more willing to compromise with their new, non-Muslim masters, than those who left.

But prominent Muslim intellectuals voiced arguments that helped stem the tide of Bosniak emigration. Among them was Grand Mufti M. T. Azabagi?, who argued in the 1880s that a Muslim can in fact live happily under a tolerant non-Islamic state “where he is neither abused nor insulted for his acts of devotion.” In response, Bosniaks accepted Austro-Hungarian rule and began to organize themselves under the secular state.

In 1882, the official “Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina” was established. The organization’s structure continued to evolve in response to shifting historical circumstances, gradually becoming a body that operated with a degree of independence from the state as it sought to govern Islamic affairs such as spiritual education. Eventually, it had an elected leader and its own religious and legislative bodies. It was self-financed, with much of its income coming from membership fees and charitable donations, and was responsible for maintaining mosques, appointing and training imams, drawing up fatwas, and directing theological studies at various schools. (Even today, it is still in place and very much functioning.)

Another pressing issue at the time was the conscription of young Bosniaks into a non-Muslim army. Could Muslims serve in a military led by Christians? The tension was eased when Mustafa Hilmi Hadžiomerovi?, then mufti of Sarajevo, issued a fatwa in 1881 calling on Bosniaks to obey the draft. He then issued another fatwa declaring that the appointment of judges by a non-Muslim ruler was valid, which led the Bosnian religious leadership to accept the modernization of Sharia courts and their gradual integration into the Hapsburg state judiciary’s jurisdiction. This was, notably, based on mutual concession, as the Hapsburgs were flexible enough to allow Sharia to operate in the realm of civil law under their rule. (The Sharia courts were abolished in 1946 with the arrival of socialist Yugoslavia.)

In all of these examples, the true explanation for this “moderation” by the Muslims was that they had no choice. They were in no position to refuse to live under non-Muslim rulers, even though many Muslims believed that they were forbidden to live under such rule. To their rescue came the Grand Mufti M. T. Azabagi?, who argued in the 1880s — just a few years after the Bosnians became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire — that a Muslim can in fact live happily in a tolerant non-Islamic state “where he is neither abused nor insulted for his acts of devotion.” And now that Muslims were drafted to serve in the Christian-led military of the Hapsburgs, a way had to be found to justify their serving. The  fatwa of Mufti Hilmi Hadžiomerovi? provided that justification. He also issued a fatwa supporting the appointment of judges by the non-Muslim rulers, because there was nothing he could have done to prevent the practice.

Bosniaks also debated Muslim women’s issues, including use of the face veil. One of the most renowned debates on the subject dates to 1928. It began when Mehmed Džemaludin ?auševi?, the grand mufti of the Bosnian community and an important religious reformist, argued that the face veil was a product of historical tradition, not of religion per se, so it was possible to change veiling practices without violating Islam. Religious conservatives, who considered covering a woman’s face to be a religious duty, reacted harshly. But through a long and vigorous back-and-forth, ?auševi? eventually earned the support of notable intellectuals and professionals, some of whom soon became the leaders of a self-defined progressive movement.

Again, this was a case of finding an Islamic justification for submitting to superior forces. The Austro-Hungarian rulers discouraged the veiling of women, and finding an “Islamic” justification for what would have to be accepted in any case was a way to avoid a clash between the non-Muslim rulers and the Muslim ruled, a clash that could only lead to the defeat and humiliation of the latter. Furthermore, Bosnia was right next door to Turkey, where by 1928 Ataturk had pushed through much of his grand plan for the secularization of Turkish society, including outlawing the wearing of the veil in the public square (such as universities and all government offices) and giving women the right to vote. This no doubt influenced the religious reformers in Bosnia.

After World War II, during Communist rule in Yugoslavia, the “emancipation” of Muslim women was enacted through authoritarian means. The face veil was perceived as backward—an obstacle to women’s much-needed participation in the socialist rebuilding of the newly formed country. The Women’s Antifascist Front, a state-sponsored organization, organized campaigns to unveil Muslim women in Yugoslavia from 1947 to 1950. At public unveiling ceremonies, women clambered onto stages and removed their zar—a black garment resembling today’s burka—en masse.

State-imposed unveiling ultimately culminated in a legal ban on face veils in 1950. The new law was presented to the public as the state’s response to Muslim women’s mass requests. Although some women did welcome the ban, many ended up more isolated as a result of it; they felt they had to stay home because they couldn’t go outside with their heads uncovered. Written and video testimonies confirm the difficulties they endured.

Concerned for the position of Muslim women in society, Bosnia’s highest official Islamic religious body supported the unveiling campaigns at the time. It made several statements in 1947 asserting that veiling one’s face and covering one’s hands up to the wrists was not required by religious code. Ibrahim Feji?, a mufti who then served as the leader of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina, said Islam asks women to dress modestly, but that this does not require face veiling or isolation from the public. He added, “It is a sin in Islam to allow oneself what the religion forbids; it is as much a sin to forbid to oneself what the religion permits.”

Today, the history and practice of Bosnian Islam yield a number of noteworthy lessons for those seeking to cultivate a liberal Islam in Europe.

One is that an institutionalized, centralized form of Islam can be highly successful, as seen in the case of the Islamic Community. This probably can’t be replicated precisely in other European countries—the Bosnian organization of Islamic religious affairs is distinct in that it is independent of the state and incorporates elements of representative democracy for legislative and representative bodies—but it can still serve as a useful example to the rest of Europe.

The Muslims in Bosnia share a sect and an ethnicity, which allowed them to create a “centralized form of Islam.” The Muslims now all over Europe are identical neither in sect nor, even more important, in ethnicity. The vast variety, of Turks and Kurds, Pakistanis and Afghans, Arabs and Berbers, Iranians and Azerbaijanis, Somalis and Sudanese, black Africans and white converts, would make it difficult to gather them into one Islamic organization capable of representing all of them.

The Islamic Community cites the “requirements of time” (in the words of Bosnia’s top Islamic legal scholar) as one of the principles animating its religious interpretations: Islamic thought can and should offer Muslims answers on how to practice Islam here and now. The result is that “the institutions are given an element of flexibility, while maintaining Islam’s timelessness.” The same institution today asserts its credibility to “serve as a constructive partner for other Muslim communities and EU institutions.”

If some Bosniaks — the author doesn’t tell us how many — think that the texts and teachings of Islam must change with the times (yielding to the “requirements of time”) to be flexible, that is welcome news. But very few Muslims believe that. For them, the Qur’an’s text is uncreated and immutable. It cannot be changed.

Forced secularization—including bans on wearing face veils—can be counterproductive. As the testimonies of Muslim women from Yugoslavia revealed, such restrictions can produce deeply negative consequences, including insults and attacks against veiled women. Instead, Muslims’ own questioning of the religious foundations of the face veil can yield progressive interpretations that feel authentic because they’re coming from within the community. For instance, the Bosniak reformist leadership argued that Islam grants men and women rights and responsibilities, and unveiling is both true to Islam and can facilitate women’s access to fulfilling their given rights. Instead of legal bans or enforced dress codes, democratic Western governments would do better to promote Muslim women’s freedom of choice.

The author believes that by not enforcing a ban on the veil, Western governments are more likely to achieve voluntarily the uncovering of Muslim women. But that assumes that Muslim women really can exercise free will in this matter. All around the world, we see Muslim women being forced, by terrific family and societal pressure, to remain veiled. That pressure can include the threat of physical violence, and there have been many cases of Muslim women and girls being beaten, or even killed, for daring to remove their cover — whether hijab, chador, or niqab. If, however, the power of the state is brought to bear, and wearing the veil outlawed, it becomes much harder for Muslim men to enforce their own dress code on “their” women.

The greatest example of “forced secularization” of a Muslim people occurred in Turkey under Ataturk. It was, by all accounts, a great success. The state now required, among many reforms, that women not wear the veil in most public places (courts, universities, government offices). Turkish women did not rebel at this; most were glad to be required by law not to wear the hijab. Those who wanted — or were forced by their husbands — to wear the veil, could still do so at home. Having lost their empire after World War I, many Turks were sufficiently jolted by this colossal defeat to embrace Ataturk’s reforms, and to share his determination to secularize the country and bring it into the 20th century.

Finally, Islamic modernism, born in the 19th century as an effort to reinterpret Islam with a liberal spirit, is not as ineffective as some pessimistic commentators on Islam believe. In today’s Bosnia, Islam is internally diverse: Many Muslims see it as part of their cultural heritage, while others emphasize the importance of daily religious rituals.

Islam in Bosnia may be “diverse” not in an ethnic or sectarian sense, but in the varied level of religious commitment by its adherents. We have no way of knowing, from Riada Akyol’s piece, how many in Bosnia are “cultural” Muslims, who may not even believe in God, and how many are strictly devout, which can reasonably be taken to mean not only that they think the “daily religious rituals” are important — the author limits herself to mentioning that as the sum total of their devotion, deliberately leaving out the most disturbing aspects of the faith, which requires that they also accept, among other things, the 109 Qur’anic verses that command them to wage violent Jihad against the Unbelievers and to “strike terror” in  their hearts.

Our modernist Islamic tradition is not immune to global trends, including Salafist currents. But Bosnia’s intellectual legacy offers plenty of evidence that Europe and Islam are far from incompatible—in fact, they have been intertwined for centuries.

Europe and Islam have been “intertwined” in the sense that they have been at war for 1,400 years. Muslims in the West conquered the Iberian Peninsula and thrust deep into central France before being halted at Tours by Charles Martel in 732; they remained the masters of Spain for centuries, mistreating the Christians and Jews with whom Akyol says they were (peacefully) “intertwined.” During the Reconquista by the Christians, that lasted more than 700 years, the Muslims lost first one and then another territory, until Granada, the last kingdom to fall, surrendered to the Christians in 1492. In the West, the Muslims made repeated attempts to conquer the Byzantines. Their final victory over the Christians in this theater of war was achieved with the conquest of Constantinople on May 29, 1453. For centuries after, Muslims raided up and down the coasts of Europe, seizing loot, and kidnapping Christians to be slaves, striking as far north as Ireland and, in one recorded case, Iceland. Later still, Muslims — history’s “Barbary pirates” — would prey on Christian ships and seamen in the Mediterranean. That ‘intertwining” was soaked in rivers of blood.

The moderate Islam that the author claims can be found in Bosnia is the result of one thing: the fact that from 1878 on, the Muslims were under the stern rule of Unbelievers, when Bosnia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They had no choice but to compromise, and to find muftis willing to issue fatwas that would justify such compromises as had to be made with the rule of non-Muslim masters.

Riada Akyol does not mention how those “tolerant” Bosniaks demonstrated a much darker side when, during World War II, they formed the S.S. Hanjar Division, that took part in some of the worst atrocities of the Second World War, with the roundup and  murder of hundreds of thousands of Jews. Hajj Amin al-Husseini made a substantial contribution to the Axis war effort by organizing “in record time” recruitment to Muslim SS units.

Altogether, it is estimated that some 20,000 Muslims were chosen to serve in the elite Hanjar (Sword) SS Division — there was no lack of volunteers — where they not only murdered Jews, but also fought against the anti-Nazi  partisans. Along with the infamous Bosnian 13th Waffen Hanjar (or Handschar) SS division, the Nazis also raised the Albanian Skanderbeg 21st Waffen SS division, consisting entirely of Muslims. SS conscription in Yugoslavia during the war produced a total of 42,000 Waffen SS and police troops.

Facing a true test of their “tolerance,” the Bosnian Muslims failed utterly. Riada Akyol makes no mention of this most important chapter in the history of the Bosniaks. It’s easy to guess why.

First published in Jihad Watch here, here and here.

Posted on 03/29/2019 7:14 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 28 March 2019
Two Germany rail sabotage suspects detained in Prague

From the German edition of The Local

Czech authorities said Thursday they had detained two Iraqi terror suspects, a man and a woman, wanted by Austria over their role in 2018 attacks on trains in Germany.

The arrest came on the heels of Monday's detention of a 42-year-old Iraqi in Vienna, also suspected in the case.

"Based on a European warrant issued by... Vienna... Czech police detained two foreigners shortly after their arrival at Vaclav Havel Airport in Prague," Czech police said in a tweet. They said the two were placed in a police cell and that a court would decide on their extradition to Austria.

Marketa Puci, spokeswoman for the Municipal Court in Prague, said the court had received a custody request from prosecutors, on which it has to decide within 24 hours. "The request concerns two Iraqi citizens, a man and a woman," Puci told AFP. Also on Thursday, Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl said in parliament that the two suspects "formed a cell together with the Iraqi".

The detained are suspected of having strung a steel rope across the tracks between the southern German cities of Munich and Nuremberg, damaging the front window of a train in October last year.

Posted on 03/28/2019 11:59 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 28 March 2019
The Lasting Worth of 'Worthless' Books

by Theodore Dalrymple

Cyril Connolly once wrote: “The more books we read, the clearer it becomes that the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence.” This is tosh, of course, for if every book were a masterpiece, no book would be a masterpiece and we could not know a masterpiece when we read it. They also serve who only sit and write trash.

To know the good, we have to know the bad. The precise quantity and degree of the bad that we have to know in order to appreciate the good is debatable, and certainly there is no great difficulty in finding the bad, whether it be bad food, bad films, bad theatre productions, bad behaviour or bad books. Indeed, the only thing that can be said in favour of the current overwhelming prevalence of the bad is that it adds to the pleasure of finding the good — the piquancy both of discovery and relief.

But quite apart from the valuable function that the bad performs in helping us to appreciate the good, I would amend Connolly’s dictum as follows: the more books we read, the clearer it becomes that there is no book, however bad or merely mediocre it may be, that has nothing to say to us, for every book tells us something. Thus reading a book may be a relative waste of time, for we might be doing something better or more useful than reading it, such as reading a better book. But it is never a waste of time in the absolute sense, at least for the inquisitive or reflective mind. For the uninquisitve or unreflective mind, of course, Armageddon itself would be dull and without interest or lessons.

Every contact leaves a trace, said the great French forensic scientist, Edmond Locard; and likewise, every book tells us something (even if, unlike every crime, it appears to leave no trace). This is especially so for those, which is almost all of us, who have access to the internet.

Allow me to conduct a small experiment. I will choose, with my eyes shut and at random, a book from the piles in my study. (If it be objected that the choice will not be random because I know the disposition of books in my study, I can only reply that the objector does not know my study. Ah, if only the hours could be returned to me that I have spent searching in my study on all fours for a particular book, my life expectancy would be considerably extended.)

There, it is done, I have chosen. By happy chance, my hand fell on an ancient book, Via Rectam ad Vitam Longam, or a Treatise wherein the right way and best manner of living for attaining to a long and healthfull life, is clearly demonstrated and punctually applied to every age and consitution of body, by Tobias Venner, published in 1650.

No one would go to this book for medical information or advice, but anything of such an age must be of at least of historical interest, and there is something instructive in it besides. Tobias Venner is by no means a name to conjure with in the history of medicine (like the immense majority of doctors, he discovered nothing), and yet it is not entirely pointless to read him.

We are apt to believe that our own preoccupations are new and unprecedented, but they seldom are. Venner practised in Bath, already a spa town in his day, but “concourse to our Baths was hindered” thanks to “our late unnaturall Civill War, and unparalleld Divisions, [and therefore] I had leasure once againe to take in my hand this Treatise, and to enlarge it with many profitable additions”. Are we not back to “unparalleld Divisions” which hinder our concourse? And although I am inclined to believe that our narcissistic age is uniquely preoccupied with health, it is salutary to read that “Verily Health is the Summum Bonum in this life.” There was more excuse for this attitude in Venner’s day, of course.

In essence medical advice has not changed in the past 369 years as much as one might have supposed. Without benefit of epidemiological studies, Venner tells us that

. . . a fat and grosse habit of body is worse than a leane, for besides that it is more subject to sicknesse, it is for all corporall actions far more inapt . . . And because they are repleated with grosse humors . . . they easily incurre the Apoplexie, shortnesse and heavinesse of breath . . . and sudden death.

Good sleep is necessary also:
I advise all men . . . that they carefully go to their bed with a quiet and free mind . . . if therefore ye desire peacable and comfortable rest, live soberly, eschew crudity, and embrace tranquillity of mind.

On the last page, he says:
It is not sufficient for any that desire to live long and healthily to observe moderation concerning passions and affections of the mind, and to be immoderate and irregular in matter of diet; neither is it sufficient to be moderate and discreet in matter of diet, and to be immoderate and irregular concerning sleep . . . if there be excesse or defect in any one of them, especially often, the state and constitution of the body, though firme and good, is soon vitiated and corrupted, sicknesse occasioned, and life abbreviated, which daily experience doth confirme. To conclude, a discreet and moderate course of life retardeth the coming of an old Age, and when it come maketh it the longer lasting.

Health advice would not be so very different now. There is value, and even consolation, in realising this. Human nature, both for good and evil, remains much the same as ever it was: and just as Spanish kings were obliged to repeat their instructions to their colonial governors over and over again because they never obeyed them, despite their protestations that they would, so doctors have had for centuries to recall their patients to the value of moderation, advice no sooner uttered than disregarded. That mankind will remain for ever stubbornly imperfectible and prey to its own nature is both dispiriting and reassuring, certainly for a writer for whom writing has become an existential necessity: for there will never be nothing to write about and material, alas and thank goodness, will always abound.    

It might be objected that the books to be found in my study, even at random, are unlikely to be utterly valueless to me, for I selected them all myself. To meet this objection to my thesis that every book has something of worth to the reader, I asked my wife to go to the nearest Oxfam shop — Oxfam shops being to British high streets what rats are to urban dwellings: you are never more than a few yards from one — and buy at random an airport novel of the kind that people donate to Oxfam under the misapprehension that, while disembarrassing themselves of household clutter, they are thereby assisting the people of the Third World. Oddly enough, among the pulp novels, biographies of Beckham and discarded cookbooks is often to be found a work of arcane or specialised academic interest, my latest purchase of that description being a multiauthor book on encephalitis lethargica, the mysterious disease whose cause is even more disputed than that of the First World War, which it followed.

My wife returned with a copy of Her Frozen Heart by Lulu Taylor, a best-selling author of whom I had not previously heard. I had asked her to choose at random a well-preserved paperback from among the rows of disposable romantic novels (I have a neurotic distaste for reading paperbacks in bad condition, whatever the merit of the content) to be found on the shelves of all charity shops, with their garish vulgar covers of the kitschiest possible design of a type which presumably appeals to and reflects — oh horrible thought — the taste of the public. It was, unfortunately, 483 pages long, and therefore gave rise to an experiment somewhat longer than I had wanted or anticipated.

Lulu Taylor! Was it a real or an assumed name? If the latter, it was perfectly chosen for a romantic novelist, and if the former it was almost a confirmation of the theory of nominal determinism, namely that a person’s name in some way influenced his destiny or choice of profession. For example the two preeminent British neurologists of the first half of the 20th century were Henry Head and Russell Brain. Lulu Taylor! In the absence of silent films, I should have put her down at once as a likely romantic novelist.

Miss Taylor is, by all accounts, quite unashamedly a producer of entertainment without literary pretension. Her aim is to make the reader care what happens to her characters and turn over the page, and in this aim, which is far from easy to fulfil, she undoubtedly succeeds. Her plot is clever and there are many more ambitious writers who could learn a thing or two about style from her, give or take a few lapses — for even Homer nods. Humour is lacking, the characterisation is simple, the story ends in emotional slush (genres imposing their rules as they do), and there is an undertow of modern psychological cliché to it all — wanting closure, ownership of problems, emotional healing, survival, self-esteem, emotional support and so forth. But the novel as a whole is not without potential as far as reflection is concerned, at least for those who do not read purely for distraction.

There are two stories that run parallel in the book, one concerning a generation that lived through the war and the genuine austerity of the post-war years (anyone who believes that we are passing through austerity now would do well to read it), and a generation that grew to adulthood in the 1990s in an environment of assumed plenty. The two stories are united at the end of the book by a Jacobean mansion in the Oxfordshire countryside.

Despite the difference in the circumstances of the two generations, the same or similar characters and characteristics are seen in both. Egotism, selfishness, self-doubt, and self-sacrifice survive in altered conditions: thus human nature does not change very much and we would therefore be wise not to expect it to do so by a mere change of environment (shades of Tobias Venner). This is a lesson both depressing and reassuring; there being no new thing under the sun, we are rarely as favourably or unfavourably situated as we might suppose.

A book such as this evokes reflection in two ways: first by suggesting analogies with the reader’s own life, which of course will depend on the particular biography of the individual reader, and second by suggesting more general, even philosophical questions.

Among the former, in my case, was the following description of one of the main characters in the story of the contemporary generation. Patrick is a high-flying lawyer who is killed in a taxi on his way from the airport, leaving his young widow to wonder about the exact nature of their seemingly happy marriage. The truth was that Patrick’s whole existence had been dedicated to removing himself from his family and embracing a self he carefully constructed.

This had a powerful resonance in my mind because, while I do not think that I have constructed myself according to some conscious plan or blueprint as cold-bloodedly as Patrick, nevertheless (in retrospect) I can construe the whole of my life as having been a flight from my childhood — on the whole, a successful flight. I surely cannot be the only person of whom this is true, though it will not be true of every reader, who will find other resonances with his or her life.

In the story about the war generation, a young woman known as Tommy (Thomasina) is widowed when her husband, Alec, is killed in France early in the war. Considerably later in the book we learn that she married Alec only because she had been with child by him, and she had been with child by him only because he had raped her. She did not tell her mother, Mrs Whitfield, what had happened, and her mother, being a narrow-minded stickler for propriety and respectability, insisted on marriage. Tommy agreed to this because, at the time (1939 or 1940), it was better for the child-to-be to have a married mother than an unmarried one, the stigma unjustly attaching to the child as well as the parent.

Despite the marriage, which not surprisingly Tommy found repellent to her, Mrs Whitfield did not forgive her daughter, for it was obvious that the child had been conceived out of wedlock, and this was a taint on the family’s respectability. Mrs Whitfield is depicted as a censorious bigot, and there is no doubt that such censorious bigotry as she displays actually existed. I once worked in a mental hospital in which there was a woman who had been a “patient” there solely (at first) because she had had a child out of wedlock in the 1920s, although she had quickly become so institutionalised that it would have been cruel to discharge her. She was by no means the only such “patient”.

Clearly, we are intended to dislike Mrs Whitfield and, by extension, all that she stands for. But romantic novels being what they are (I presume, for I cannot claim to have read many), there must be a reconciliation between mother and daughter at the end, otherwise the reader would go away with the unpleasant impression that some conflicts are above or beyond resolution. In the end, Mrs Whitfield recognises that she had misjudged her daughter.

The implicit condemnation of her previous censoriousness remains, however. But this aspect of the story caused me to think of the great French economist, Frédéric Bastiat, with his fundamental distinction between the things seen and the things not seen (some commentators consider that Bastiat was the originator of the concept of opportunity cost).

We see clearly enough the unpleasantness and bad consequences of Mrs Whitfield’s attachment of importance to respectability. What we do not see is the consequences of the complete absence of importance attached to respectability. It is only on reflection that we realise that, if Mrs Whitfield’s attitude is indeed deeply cruel, a mirror image of this attitude is catastrophic also, perhaps on a larger scale. How to keep the balance between censoriousness and licentiousness has not proved easy; indeed, our current resolution of this tension is to indulge in what might be called censorious licentiousness, according to which anybody who disapproves of any choice of lifestyle or conduct is the subject of disapprobation of the most censorious kind.

I do not want to endow (or burden) Lulu Taylor’s book with a philosophical depth to which it does not pretend. It is entertainment, after all; there are contradictions in it and sometimes anachronisms. But that is not to say that it is contentless, or cannot provide mental sustenance. I think the same would be true of any other book that my wife had brought home, even if it were true that my time might be more profitably employed reading something better.

Nothing written is utterly without value, without something to teach, whatever its intentions. But I am reminded of what Samuel Johnson said of travelling, for it is true of reading also:

He that would bring home the wealth of the Indies must carry the wealth of the Indies with him. So it is in travelling. A man must carry knowledge with him if he would bring home knowledge.

Fist published in Standpoint magazine.

Posted on 03/28/2019 7:37 AM by Theodore Dalrymple
Thursday, 28 March 2019
The Boldness of Bahrain

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Bahrain is a small Gulf Arab state that first stood out from its neighbors by appointing a Jewish woman, Houda Nonoo, in 2008 as its Ambassador to the United States. When other Arabs objected to this choice, claiming she could not adequately represent Bahraini interests, the ruler, Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, dismissed their concerns. Nonoo proved her worth in Washington, and was kept on as ambassador until 2013.

Since then, while it still does not have formal relations with Israel, Bahrain has demonstrated an increasing sympathy with the positions taken by the Israeli government, especially with regard to Iran and Hezbollah. For though the people of Bahrain are 70% Shia, the rulers, the Al Khalifa family, are Sunnis. The Shi’a first erupted in violent protests in 2011, demanding an end to their marginalization, demands which might have led to a democracy, and that in turn, would certainly have resulted in an overthrow of the Sunni regime. It took a full month to suppress the rioters, and both Pakistani and Saudi troops had to be called in to help the Bahraini police.

Seeing Iran’s aggressive hand behind the Shi’a uprising, Bahrain’s ruler have become ever more convinced, as has Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, that Iran is a mortal threat and Israel is a most useful ally in the wider war against Iran. In recent years, the ties between Israel and Bahrain have become steadily closer. At the end of 2017, the Bahrainis sent an interfaith delegation to Israel, bringing unbidden a message of peace from King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

In May 2018, the Bahrainis defended large-scale Israeli air raids on Iranian bases in Syria. The foreign minister, Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa, tweeted that “as long as Iran breaches the status quo in the region and violates states with its troops and missiles, any state in the region, including Israel, has the right to defend itself by destroying the sources of danger.”

When Israel announced that it had found and destroyed Hezbollah tunnels, Bahrain was completely on Israel’s side:

Is Terrorist Hezbollah’s digging of the tunnels under Lebanon’s border not a flagrant threat to Lebanon’s stability, which it shares responsibility for? Who bears responsibility when neighboring countries take upon themselves to eliminate the threat they face?” Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa wrote on his Twitter account, in Arabic.

In November, Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalifa praised Netanyahu for his tweet about Khashoggi’s murder:

Despite the ongoing conflict, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a clear position on the importance of stability in the region, and the role of Saudi Arabia in ensuring that stability,” Khalifa tweeted in response to Netanyahu’s reaction to the killing of Khashoggi.

Netanyahu had stated that the murder is “horrendous and it should be duly dealt with,” according to Israel’s i24 News, but that at the same time “it is very important for the stability of the world, for the region and for the world, that Saudi Arabia remain stable.”

In December, the Bahraini Foreign Minister tweeted that “These words are irresponsible,” in reference to the Arab League’s condemnation of Australia’s decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to West Jerusalem.

“Australia’s position is without prejudice to official Palestinian demands, the first of which is East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine, and it does not contradict the Arab Peace Initiative and the Arab League,” he continued.

Bahrain appears to be a stalking-horse for Saudi Arabia, staking out pro-Israeli positions to see what reaction they bring, and letting the Saudis judge for themselves whether they deem it advisable to follow suit.

Bahrain deserves both praise and something more tangible than praise, for its open support of Israel. While Bahrain already hosts an American naval base, the largest American military base in the  Middle East is the airbase of Al Udeid, in Qatar. But Qatar has ties to terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood. It has also maintained warm relations with Iran, infuriating its Arab neighbors. Last March, the House of Representatives, alarmed at those terrorist ties, was considering a proposal to move the American base from Qatar, with four alternatives under consideration: Al Dhafra in Abu Dhabi, Al Zarqa in eastern Jordan, Arbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, and Bahrain. For now, the Congressional unhappiness with Qatar seems to have died down, perhaps because of the announcement by Qatar that it would be spending several billion dollars on improvements to the air base. That may keep the Americans in place, at least until the treaty giving the Americans the right, and obligation, to use Al Udeid ends in 2023.  But if some attack by a terrorist group linked to Qatar should occur before then, the Americans should give both Qatar its comeuppance and Bahrain its due, by moving our main airbase from the former to the latter. That might help persuade Bahrain to take one more step in the right direction, and to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. And after that, can Saudi Arabia and the Emirates be far behind?

First published in Jihad Watch.

Posted on 03/28/2019 5:01 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Wednesday, 27 March 2019
Austria arrests man suspected of attacks on German trains

From Deutsche Welle

Austrian police arrested a man suspected of carrying out two attacks on high-speed trains in Germany.

The man, believed to be an "Islamic State" supporter, is suspected of having committed attacks on the high-speed rail line between Nuremberg and Munich in October and in Berlin in December, Bavarian State Criminal Police Office said Wednesday.

Austria's Kronen Zeitung reported that elite police raided the 42-year-old's apartment in Vienna on Monday.

In the October attack, a thick wire was stretched across the tracks. It failed to cause any major damage. In December, a similar attack was reported near Berlin, which managed to crack the windshield of a train.

An IS flag and Arabic notes were found near the unsuccessful attacks. Austrian media said

The public prosecutor's office in Vienna identified the suspect as an Iraqi father of five, who was granted refugee status about 20 years ago. Local newspaper Kronen Zeitung reports the father of five served for 15 years in the Iraqi army. He was living in Austria as a refugee and worked for a security company, it says.

He reportedly glorified Islamist terror attacks, including the one in Nice, on Facebook. The Kurier newspaper reported he called for revenge for the right-wing radical attack in New Zealand.

Posted on 03/27/2019 2:39 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 27 March 2019
Still Dreaming of Watergate II

by Conrad Black

Of all the asinine and, at times, almost psychotic misstatements about the bone-crushing victory the president has won, the prize goes, with admirable historical symmetry, to John Dean.

It was Dean who led the destruction of lawyer-client privilege in the Watergate debacle, and with it, of much of America’s claim to be a society of laws. Having been the corrupt source of many of the most fatuous illegalities in the amateur obstruction put forward by members of President Richard Nixon’s entourage, John Dean was the first rat down the hawser, denouncing his client, employer, and benefactor with contemptuous disregard for the truth and in the supreme demonstration of the evil of the American plea bargain system.

This perversion of the justice system, more than anything else, has ensured that prosecutors in the United States, win a percentage of their cases about equal to those of North Korea and Cuba. They extort inculpatory evidence against the main target by threatening witnesses and give the denunciators immunity from perjury and a sweetheart sentence.

Dean’s performance exceeds in venality even the antics of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, American history’s most successful fiction-writers. (At least Gore Vidal acknowledged he was writing historical novels.) Odious though Woodward and Bernstein are, irritatingly imperishable though they are, as far as I know they didn’t break any laws and didn’t dishonor a learned profession. (Having employed thousands of journalists for decades, I can attest that they aren’t part of a profession and few of them are learned.)

With that preamble to remind us of what we are dealing with in John Dean, I cite his tweet on Friday night at 11:55, after news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller had given Attorney General William Barr his report and that he would recommend no more indictments: “Trump and his minions think they dodged a bullet. I have a notion—that Mueller delivered a bomb to AG Barr, who is now trying to figure out how to tell Trump in a way that doesn’t cause him to start World War III. Barr knows he works for a psycho.”

Thus are we reminded of the prescience and integrity of one of the sleaziest characters in American political history, the Michael Avenatti of his times, though thanks to the president he betrayed and traduced, he achieved an ostensibly serious position.

Democrats Vying to Embarrass Themselves
Others who inflict upon themselves more often than I do the cruel punishment of looking at the more egregiously bigoted news outlets are already presenting delicious examples of malicious and dishonest idiocy among the apostles of the Russian collusion fraud.

I cannot resist offering, however,  the two stupidest comments I heard from the bloated dunciad of Democratic presidential candidates. Naturally, the grand prize goes to the vapidest person ever touted as a presidential candidate in my 63 years as an observer of American politics, Beto O’Rourke. Just before the revelation that there would be no further indictments, Beto asserted his knowledge “beyond the slightest doubt” that the president was guilty, in effect, of high treason—that he would only escape the death penalty because the United States and Russia were not at war. (But neither were they when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in 1953.) And the day Trump was completely cleared of the collusion suspicion, O’Rourke declared that the investigation of Trump must continue.

Close at Beto’s heels is the almost equally simple-minded and even more pretentious straw-haired airhead, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Standing in front of the Trump Hotel in Washington on Sunday, she called the president “a coward” and then Gillibrand (“I chose to be brave”) said he was still a prime suspect of collusion with Russia, 90 minutes before the release of the attorney general’s letter to the leaders of the Senate and House judiciary committees. I stop here, but not for any lack of other worthy contestants to win the sweepstakes for malice and foolishness.

In the convulsive aftermath of the sudden death of the whole impeachment fraud, the grievously outnumbered elements of the media who had kept their heads through the whole saga were severely overworked calling the witless majority of media assassins to account. The most durable and contemptible of all American media mythmakers, Carl Bernstein, claimed the role of the anti-Trump media was heroic and entirely admirable. He did so on CNN, and so was not asked by his co-defamer Brian Stelter, who although he is only 33, manages to look like he lost his hair fighting alongside Senator Da Nang Dick Blumenthal in Vietnam. Of course, Bernstein was not probingly questioned. He never has been. This mad and pandemical egotism of the Washington media is precisely the reason why this time, the almost suicidal failure of the media must be run to ground.

No Forgiveness Without Conversion
I am venerable enough to have been a publisher of small daily newspapers at the time of Watergate, and I was one of the very few who warned where the criminalization of policy differences would lead. Eventually, Richard Nixon will be seen as the troubled but courageous, talented, and irrepressible American hero and very successful president that he was, (and was always perceived to be by his scores of millions of followers). He has been short-changed in recognition of his greatness and over-penalized for his faults, but history will sort it out, as he knew. (I had the privilege of knowing him in his last five years.)

The same ghastly group-narcissism that showered media awards among the Watergate jackals flared up again, like Camus’ description of the Plague, with Pulitzers to the New York Times and Washington Post for their obscene campaigns of lies about Trump-Russian collusion. The president spoke nothing but the truth when he said on Monday: “It was an illegal take-down that failed.”

It need hardly be emphasized that the right to freedom of expression is sacrosanct, and any attempt to muzzle or intimidate the media would be anathema. Even so, as the almost certain crimes of Hillary Clinton and some of her inner circle and allies—former intelligence chiefs John Brennan (now desperately backpedaling), and James Clapper, the FBI’s own James Comey and Andrew McCabe, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her deputy Sally Yates, Yates’ successor Rod Rosenstein, and many lesser figures—are resurrected and charged, untainted elements of the media must conduct a process of chastisement and reinduction of their wayward colleagues. The mercy of forgiveness must await those visited by the grace of conversion, in this case to honest reporting and the separation of reporting of facts from tendentious personal opinion. (Both must be expressed, but not commingled.)

Having been the victim of the evils of the American criminal justice system, I would not have it inflicted on others. In any case, I do not believe in the incarceration of nonviolent, first-time offenders. I wouldn’t ask more than some community service for those who seriously broke the law in the 2016 election and its aftermath.

But it was an attempted coup that would never have come to light if Hillary Clinton had won. The perpetrators must be given the opportunity to atone for their crimes and expiate them, and American posterity must understand the sanctity of the constitutional process. Those who deliver great nations from terrible fates are not always people who seem to have been selected by casting studios. This president’s imperfections are not indiscernible, but he has shown himself to be a courageous and indomitable leader in excruciatingly difficult circumstances. And he is the president; those who want him out can vote against him at the next election.

Having expressed my wish for gentle sentencing, I proclaim what must now be the wish of the majority toward those who so gravely threatened the democratic republican system of American government. I am not a pious man, but so important is the proper outcome of this prolonged crisis, I am moved to cite Judeo-Christian Scripture: “God of Vengeance, God to whom vengeance belongs; show Thyself.” Then it will be time for mercy, even unto the most unworthy, who shall be nameless, such as John Dean and Carl Bernstein.

First published in American Greatness.

Posted on 03/27/2019 6:33 AM by Conrad Black
Wednesday, 27 March 2019
All kinds of rockets rain down on Israel

Real rockets are raining down on civilians in Israel, but at the same time, antisemitic rockets are raining down on Jews the world over and there is no respite. Kinda like Heil Hitler in the Nazi era.

by Phyllis Chesler

Real rockets and arson balloons are relentlessly raining down on civilians in Israel—the so-called truce has not been honored—but at the same time, other kinds of rockets are also raining down on both Israel and world Jewry. I am talking about the non-stop, subtle, brazen, and demonic propaganda against Israel and Jews which is now in full force.

There is no respite. There is no effective rejoinder. It just continues and, increasingly, it seems to be...everywhere.

For some time now, whatever I seem to pick up—a newspaper, a book, a book review, a literary journal, an anthology of poems—I find that 'Palestine' has inevitably been slipped into the mix, a signal, a code, for political righteousness.

Kinda like “Heil Hitler” during the Nazi era. People feel they have to say it in order to be published, not shunned by the Censorship Police.

For example, last week, a poet friend gave me an anthology of poems “Riverside Poets Anthology.” Volume 18, 2018. Idly, I turned to the poem titled “Balfour” by Miriam Stanley. The poet does not seem to like Balfour—or her own father who told her: ”We always support Israel no matter what, we circle the wagons/The country protects us and so we protect her.” The poet responds: “This land of emptied Arab villages paved over/Asphalt over the evidence.”

The Women’s Review of Books (they sent me a free copy, I do not subscribe) also arrived a few weeks ago. What did I see? A long and glowing review of a new book “A Rebel in Gaza: Behind the Lines of the Arab Spring, One Woman’s Story” by Asma al-Ghoul.

My God! She is the very woman who reached out to me after she was fired from her job as a journalist on the 'West Bank' and in Gaza, roughed up, and nearly arrested by the Arab Palestinian version of the Taliban. Asma asked me to edit and publish her work on honor killing which I promptly did. Years passed. I never heard from her again—not even when she was brought to New York City and honored. I thought nothing of it. We are all busy people.

Now, according to the reviewer, Israeli-born Hagar Scher, Al-Ghoul is a woman “who has stuck to her convictions despite harassment, ostracism, verbal abuse, surveillance, physical violence, and death threats. Al Ghoul’s unfiltered and vivid dispatches are themselves an act of courage, shedding light on the savagery of the Israeli siege of Gaza and decrying the rise of Islamic extremism and anti-woman repression in her beloved home.”

As best as I can recall, the brutalities and death threats Asma endured were all perpetrated by other Palestinian Arabs because of her feminist work. But the reviewer goes on to position Al-Ghoul’s work in this way: “(this book) pulls no punches in exposing the brutal everyday realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has terrorized the people of Gaza, but a large part of the book’s power resides in Al-Ghoul’s refusal to relinquish joyous memories.”

I have not read this book. Perhaps it is wondrously even-handed. But the reviewer positions her work as a rebel not only against Islamic fundamentalism and Jihad—but against an alleged Israeli occupation. Those unfamiliar with history and lacking all context will easily conclude that Islamic fundamentalism in Gaza and on the 'West Bank' arose in response to alleged Israeli aggression.

If so: How do we explain Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan, a country that has never been occupied by foreign powers? How to explain misogyny in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, countries which have never been occupied by Israel?

Last weekend’s New York Times Book Review had a number of long and glowing reviews of books by and/or about African Americans and an interview with an author (Laila Lalami) who primarily recommends books written about and by African-Americans—a view that comprises a long overdue corrective. However, when asked which writers, both living and dead, Lalami would like to have dinner with, she names two African-Americans (Toni Cade Bambara and James Baldwin) and, Edward Said.

Edward Said! How does he fit in? That consummate Dhimmi, a Christian whose claim to fame was arguing the Islamic and Islamist Palestinian cause, and whose book on “Orientalism” has been most honorably and fully discredited by my dear friend, Ibn Warraq.

White America is in for a long overdue comeuppance—and the New York Times, also owned and run by white men, is leading the charge. Hopefully, they will be seen as above reproach. These days, race even trumps gender. It is presumably the most important identity marker—although being transgender is close behind.

The same issue of the New York Times Book Review features a positive review of a fictional Memoir by Marwa Helal, an Egyptian American. The reviewer quotes Helal as writing an Ode to DJ Khaled; she “imagines his music as a resource for displaced Palestinians: ‘Yours is the rhythm they rebuild to/what do you say/we give them all the keys?’’’

No doubt there are many other passages to quote. The reviewer, Stephanie Burt, chose this one.

But here is where I’m going. These reviews and interviews appear early, on pgs 8, 12, 16 and 18; all but one take up a full page. And then there is a review of award-winning Mati Friedman’s new book,”Spies of No Country. Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel.” It is given a mere half page and appears on pg 21, near the back of the book review.

Neal Bascomb’s review is largely positive but is also somehow vague, minimal. Bascomb (or his editor) carefully, almost purposefully misses some of the most important points of this work, points that do not support the NYT’s version of the pro-Palestine narrative; namely, that men in Friedman’s book who became spies before Israel became a nation, were Jewish Arabs, Jewish men of color, Jewish men who had formerly been occupied both by their Muslim masters and by foreign imperial powers—Friedman is writing about Jewish Arab men of color who were exiled from or who had to flee for their lives from Arab countries.

This deserves a sentence or two, yes? However, Bascomb’s review ends this way: “..over all, Friedman succeeds in portraying the ‘stories beneath the stories’ that acted as a bedrock to the rise of the Mossad and serve still as a window into Israel’s troubled soul.””

A passing reader might assume that Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Iran do not have “troubled souls,” that only Israel does. And should due to their various sins and crimes.

Such pandemic and blatant anti-Israel propaganda both signals and has led to the downfall of independent and critical thinking, the collapse of the American university system, and to the dangerously toxic hatred of Jews and Israel which is rising at quantum speed.

This is precisely why a young woman came to consult with me this past week. She is a radical feminist and a Zionist and can find no place to “be” among her leftist millennial peer group. She has decided she must create such a space since one does not exist. I saluted her and ended our meeting with the well-worn words: “Hazak v’Ematz.”

She will need both strength and courage.

First published in Israel National News.

Posted on 03/27/2019 5:38 AM by Phyllis Chesler
Tuesday, 26 March 2019
Unsurprisingly, Mueller Comes Up Empty

The ‘Russian collusion’ farce limps to an anticlimactic ending.

by Conrad Black

Robert Mueller during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., June 19, 2013. (Larry Downing/Reuters File Photo)

No reader of my previous comments on the subject would expect surprise from me about the verdict of the Mueller report. No one nominated by a major political party to the presidency of the U.S. would have dreamed of cooperating with any foreign power to influence a U.S. presidential election. Aaron Burr, who was thought to be running for vice president but ended by opportunistically challenging Jefferson for president, requiring that the House of Representatives determine the victor, and who was later accused but acquitted of serious crimes, would not have done that. Millard Fillmore, who succeeded to the presidency on the death of President Zachary Taylor and later ran as a third-party candidate in 1856 for the American Party, nicknamed the “Know Nothings,” which opposed immigration and the eligibility of Roman Catholics to hold public office, would not have dreamt of it. The Russian-collusion argument was always an absurd, a practically insane proposition. The fact that it enjoyed the currency it did as long as it did illustrates the cognitive incapacity of the Obama-Clinton majority to accept that they were honestly defeated in 2016. Worse than that, while it was just mad partisanship by most Democrats and most of the political media, the collusion fraud was a crime, of extreme gravity, by its perpetrators.

Even today, mainline Democrats do not understand the country’s reservations about Obama’s flatlined new normal of no growth in family purchasing power, evaporating “red lines” in foreign policy, approval of Iranian and North Korean development of nuclear weapons with which to blackmail America and, in Iran’s case, threaten to exterminate Israel, and generally to blame white male Americans for every evil under heaven. Donald Trump is like a circus actor who excites laughter, and only as he exits at the end of the program is his full talent recognized. He ran against the Bushes as much as the Clintons, and the congressional Republicans gave him no assistance at all for six months. There is very little Never Trump and RINO sentiment left in Congress. But the Democrats signed on almost unanimously to some variant of the Russian-collusion fable and stuck with it to the bitter end, to the point of not realizing that the end has come. The Democrats said Trump was protesting too much and was acting as if he was guilty.

When the hapless Jeff Sessions was replaced by the former Bush attorney general William Barr, preveniently bringing the Bush Republicans largely on board, Barr sagely retained Rod Rosenstein as deputy attorney general, although Rosenstein had supposedly canvassed the possibility of removing Trump from office for mental incompetence two years ago. Rosenstein had approved the firing of James Comey as FBI director and then engaged Robert Mueller as special counsel, as Comey had hoped when he illegally leaked to the New York Times a self-serving memo to himself (that was probably both false and government property). Barr was confirmed by the Senate after promising to get to the bottom of the false FISA surveillance-warrant applications and other skullduggery that had gone officially almost unnoticed as the Trump-impeachment bandwagon careened out of control for two years. Barr attracted three Democratic votes in the Senate confirmation vote, a rare occurrence in this administration, and six weeks later, he finally strangled the mutant monster of fraudulent impeachment. Yet in febrile Democratic minds, it still lives. Much of America’s political and media community no longer knows the difference between truth and lies and political life and death.

Mueller identified Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 election but declared the nonexistence of any evidence that any American of any political persuasion had in any way collaborated with it. The president, in the unanimous company of his fellow citizens, was exonerated. Mueller did not find adequate evidence of obstruction of justice by the president to recommend prosecution. That was the extent of his mandate — to recommend prosecution or not. It is Barr’s decision whether to prosecute, and he explained in his report to the bipartisan Judiciary Committee leaders that laying a charge of obstruction of justice would require proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the president had committed an obstructive act, with corrupt intent, and in contemplation of a real or apprehended legal proceeding, and that in his and Rosenstein’s opinion, that threshold was not met on any of the three required criteria. It was genius to keep Mueller’s old sidekick and benefactor, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, up to this point, as he was responsible for setting up this absurd special investigation at the behest of Comey, whose firing Rosenstein had recommended.

Of all the audible Democrats on Sunday evening, the only one who had the intelligence to try to extricate his party from the cul-de-sac was Senator Chris Coons of Delaware (who two years ago assured us that Trump’s tax returns would prove the Russian collusion). He saw that the game was up and said it was time to change the subject. All the rest are, in terms of Tennysonian grandeur they do not deserve, “riding into the valley of death.” Their flabby, Trump-hating House Judiciary Committee chairman Jerry Nadler said it was “a lie” that Trump had been exonerated: “No surprise that these people lie.” Only a few weeks ago, Rosenstein was being toasted and feted by the Democrats for having allegedly contemplated trying to evict Trump by spurious recourse to the 25th Amendment, meant to deal with mental incapacity. This flushed the depressing spectacle of the ghost of Watergate, Carl Bernstein, out onto our television screens claiming there was a “constitutional crisis” over the president’s mental fitness to hold his office. The other prominent Democrats, including many of the announced presidential candidates along with Schumer, Pelosi, Feinstein, and Schiff, implicitly attacked Mueller, their former hero, in whose behalf they kept presenting infantile congressional bills to protect him from the president, and Barr. Nadler claimed that Barr had “auditioned” for the role of attorney general with legal articles approving the constitutional powers of the president, as if he had not served with distinction as attorney general before, and as if upholding the Constitution were reprehensible.

It is now confirmed, as many of us have been alleging for many months, that the original counterintelligence investigation was set up on the basis of information that former intelligence and FBI chiefs John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, and Andrew McCabe knew to be false. The entire collusion claim was a political smear funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. And all of those just mentioned as well as Mrs. Clinton, former attorney general Loretta Lynch, her deputy Sally Yates, others who made false FISA-warrant applications, and a large group of smaller fry, are up to their eyeballs in criminal abuse of high offices and betrayal of the nation’s trust.

The Democratic cries for immediate release of the entire Mueller report is nonsense, as Barr informed them Sunday that he will release everything he can as soon as his and Mueller’s staff have redacted what is statutorily required to be withheld — basically grand-jury and national-security-sensitive material. With a pause to avoid illegal indiscretions, the attorney general has promised to comply with the wishes of Congress and the president to make the report public. Allegations of spuriously invoked secrecy won’t fly. Collusion and obstruction are dead, bad, pigeons.

The president and his family have endured merciless torment by the intellectually corrupt national media and the lawless opposition. His restraint at the end of the story has shown more taste than his enemies would have thought him capable of; he is owed an apology. All those who said there was clear evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, including dozens of congressional Democrats and scores of prominent political-media figures, should be shamed and ashamed. And the ringleaders in confecting this monstrous aggregation of defamatory lies should be legally punished, with the due process they tried to deny the nation’s leader. Attempts to drive a president from office on the basis of allegations of betrayal of the country that they knew to be false is as close as the United States has ever been to an attempted coup d’état. It is time for the legal system, which has ground slowly to a just verdict, to do the same to those responsible for this disgraceful episode. This must never happen again; not in America.

First published in National Review.

Posted on 03/26/2019 7:15 AM by Conrad Black
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