Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Is the Umma Shatter-Proof?

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Those who belong to  the  community of Muslim Believers, or the Umma, are commanded to endorse Al-wala’ wa-l-bara’, literally “loyalty and disavowal,” a concept which signifies loving and hating for the sake of Allah. Among other things, Believers are to love those who are obedient to Allah — that is, fellow Muslims — and to defend and assist them. Hating for the sake of Allah signifies showing anger towards those who oppose Allah, that is all non-Muslims.

A few recent news items suggest that Muslim solidarity is not what it’s cracked up to be.

Here’s a story about Turkish unhappiness with Syrian refugees:

Authorities in Istanbul set a four-week deadline on July 22 for Syrians living without approval in Turkey’s largest city to return to provinces where they are registered or face forced removal to those regions.

It was not immediately clear how many people could be affected by the order, but Istanbul’s new mayor has said that a total of 1 million Syrians live in the city compared with Interior Ministry figures showing 500,000 are registered.

Turkey’s recession-hit economy and high levels of unemployment have fueled anger against the 3.6 million Syrians living in Turkey, the largest refugee population to have fled the eight-year-old civil war in neighboring Syria.

Turks who are resentful of the Syrians view them as offering cheap labor and taking jobs from Turks, and using services including health and education.

Monday’s order in Istanbul follows two clashes in the city earlier this year when crowds attacked Syrian shops and properties. There have also been reports of some Syrians being returned to northern Syria.

Most Syrians live in southern Turkish provinces near the Syrian border but Istanbul province, in the northwest, has the largest Syrian population of any province in the country.

Syrians who have a temporary protection permit must stay in the province where they are registered, and obtain a special permit to travel elsewhere in Turkey.

The Istanbul governor’s office said on Monday that Syrians who have temporary protection permits in provinces other than Istanbul have until Aug. 20 to return to those provinces, and will be returned if they stay after that date.

Syrians who do not have temporary protection permits will be sent to provinces specified by the Interior Ministry, it said.

There have been several reports in recent weeks of Syrians being deported to Syria. Reuters has spoken to three people who said they were sent without their consent to areas of northern Syria controlled by Ankara and Turkey-backed rebels in the past few days.

The three told Reuters they were forced to sign a document that said they were voluntarily returning to Syria. One of the men said he was deported with at least 100 other Syrians.

The Turkish government has not commented on the reports of deportations.

Turkey is a signatory to agreements that bind it to a non-refoulement principle, an international customary law rule that prohibits countries from returning people to a place where they risk facing persecution or threat to life.

The Turks are not inclined to offer continued solidarity with the Syrian Muslims. There are too many of those Syrians — 3.6 million — and they’ve outstayed their welcome. The Turks have had it with Syrians receiving free schooling and medical care from the state. Their anger is quite a contrast with the European nations that continue to uncomplainingly offer Muslim economic migrants not just education and medical care but also free or highly subsidized housing, unemployment benefits (without the need to have first  been employed in the country), and family allowances.

They are also angry that Syrians — those that do work — offer cheap labor, driving down the wages of Turkish workers. That groups of Turks have violently attacked Syrians, for costing them jobs and lowering their wages, is a sign of how bad relations between the Turks and their fellow Muslims from Syria have become.

By sending back to the provinces where they were first registered possibly a half-million people (out of an estimated total of one million Syrians now in Istanbul) the Turkish government is declaring Istanbul, the largest city in the country, off-limits to 3.1 out of 3.6 million Syrians. Those who had not been registered, but been employed by Turks, or had started little shops, will lose those jobs and their shops will close. They will have to start over, if they can, in the provinces. Their lives are now for the second time being uprooted: first when they fled from Syria to Turkey, and now, when they are banished from Istanbul and the lives they had created for themselves. The fact that some Syrians have started to be forcibly sent back to Syria, after first having been made to sign documents claiming they were “voluntarily” returning home, signals that Turkey is determined to rid itself of as many of these Syrians as quickly as possible. Many Turks are just fed up with the Syrians. A recent survey by Kadir Has University in Istanbul found that 67.7 percent of the participants were “not content with the presence of Syrian refugees” in Turkey. A popular hashtag is #UlkemdeSuriyeliIstemiyorum (I don’t want Syrians in my country) that had been around has reappeared on social media. The newly-elected mayor of  Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, after being elected, said that “the refugee issue is a severe trauma” in some districts. And even President Erdogan has noted that Turkey has now spent $37 billion on Syrian refugees.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Muslim economic migrants, including some Syrians, continue to have every possible benefit lavished upon them, without experiencing any of the troubles that Syrians experience in Turkey. Muslim migrants — now mainly Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans — find greater generosity among non-Muslim hosts than among fellow members of the umma; it’s all so confusing.

A second news item comes from Lebanon, where “Palestinian” refugees — that is, the descendants of those Arabs who left what had been Mandatory Palestine just before, during, and after the 1948-49 war — have been engaged in protesting a new law regarding employment of non-Lebanese. Thousands of Palestinians protested in and around their camps on July 19 to demand that the Lebanese government end its requirement that all undocumented non-Lebanese must obtain a work permit to gain employment.

The intensifying protests were triggered by the closing down of two Palestinian-owned businesses last week, with the demonstrators calling on the government to reconsider its crackdown on undocumented non-Lebanese workers that they say is affecting their livelihood.

Critics have claimed that the Ministry of Labour’s recent measures are part of a campaign directed at the larger Syrian refugee population to force them to return home.

Speaking to a local TV station on Thursday, Camille Abu Sleiman, Lebanon’s labour minister, said the ministry was simply enforcing the laws that regulate foreign laborers in the country and denied targeting Palestinians.

True, the new measures did not target the Palestinians. But nor did it exempt them.

But the Palestinian refugees, who are already barred by Lebanese from working in dozens of professions as part of a long-standing policy to discourage them from staying in the country, fear the move will hit their employment opportunities further.

In Lebanon, where Palestinians have lived for decades, they have generally been denied citizenship, unless they marry Lebanese. The majority of them still are confined to camps, living in wretched conditions. They are denied the right to practice many professions. Such treatment has as its main purpose preventing the Palestinians from integrating successfully into the larger society, where they could no longer be held up as people whose situation can only be ameliorated if they are allowed to return to “Palestine.” They are political pawns of the Arab states where they live, which do not wish to improve their lot  but to keep them in conditions designed to win international sympathy for their “right of return.”

“The Palestinian worker is not a foreign visitor but rather a refugee forcibly living in Lebanon,” Fathi Abu Ardat, an official at the Palestinian Authority (PA) embassy, told reporters earlier in the week.

The Palestinians are not forced to live in Lebanon. There are other Arab countries to which some of them could move. There is work for them in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) countries. Many Palestinians already work in the Gulf Arab states, where the natives rely on large numbers of foreign workers. 240,000 Palestinians now work in Saudi Arabia. 200,000 live and work in Kuwait, which is down from 400,000 before the Gulf War, when the Palestinians sided with the Iraqi invaders, and as a consequence many were expelled:. But everywhere in the Arab lands obtaining citizenship is made exceedingly difficult for them to obtain.

The Palestinians now protesting against the new law in Lebanon, whereby the undocumented must obtain work permits, are not just angry about this law. They are angry that they cannot, except in special cases, become citizens, that they are still prohibited from practicing certain professions (though in 2005 70 previously prohibited occupations were opened to them). They are angry that so many of them continue to be made to live in a dozen camps, in wretched conditions, many with open sewers, where they endure miserable conditions so that the Arabs can score political points against the Israelis, who are always to be blamed.

And the Palestinians are no doubt angry, too, at the 1.5 million Syrians who are now in Lebanon, with whom they must share whatever private charitable funds exist for refugees in Lebanon, while previously that money was spent only on Palestinians. They are angry that the Syrians will work for wages even lower than what the Palestinians receive. As for the Lebanese, they  clearly don’t care for the well-being of the Palestinians; they could so easily make their lives easier, just by allowing them to practice more of the professions still prohibited to them, or allowing them to work in the pubic sector, or even giving them the right to own property. And the Lebanese have lost whatever fleeting sympathy they may have had for the Syrians, but now are eager to see them return home, since the civil war has wound down. The Syrians in Lebanon express no fellow-feeling for the Palestinians, whom they see only as rivals for relief. Palestinian protesters in Lebanon were not so much protesting against the new law that requires the undocumented to acquire work permits as they were protesting the application of that law to them.  They don’t care if it applies to the Syrians.

You can preach about Al-wala’ wa-l-bara’ all you want, but in Lebanon, pocketbook issues rule, and among the Lebanese, the Palestinians, and the Syrians, there is no love lost.

A third example of a split in the Umma has to do with the reaction of Muslims, and non-Muslims, to the savage repression of the Uighurs and the campaign against Islam in China. Here is some of what the Chinese government has done:

The government in 2017 passed laws requiring all restaurants to stay open during Ramadan. Further, it has forbidden teachers, civil servants, and all those working in the public sector from observing Ramadan, and if any are caught doing so, “they will be dealt with.”

Muslims have been required to hand in their own Qur’ans to the government if those copies were published before 2012. The reason for this is that in 2012, the Chinese government prepared “new” Qur’ans, heavily censored, with the “meaning’’ of the verses that remained annotated by government experts so as to lessen their anti-Infidel message, and the commands to wage Jihad carefully “contextualized.” The only Qur’ans now legal in China are the versions published by the government.

Muslims in Xinjiang must request government permission to make the hajj. They are asked to register their age, job, health, and economic status. Strict guidelines are put in place for applicants, who must be aged between 50 and 70 and have lived in Urumqi, the region’s capital, for at least five years. They are thoroughly investigated by the government for their political views; anyone who has displayed the slightest hint of being politically unreliable is denied permission to go on the hajj.

Furthermore, all those who apply to go on the hajj must also pledge allegiance to the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and to national unity (and therefore against Uighur independence).

Indeed, Muslims who travel abroad for any reason, not just for the hajj, upon their return are subject to particular scrutiny, especially if they have spent any time in Muslim countries. More than one million Uighurs — recent reports claim a figure of two million — have been placed in reeducation centers, subject to anti-Muslim propaganda, and forced constantly to express their loyalty to the Communist Party, lest they have been exposed to “subversive” ideas about Islam, especially if they have traveled abroad and met with non-Chinese Muslims, or have been exposed to dangerous Islamic websites online.

As for other restrictions on Islam, in Xinjiang, imams have been subject to public humiliation by being forced to dance en masse in public, and at the same time, have been forced to make an oath to keep children away from religion, and as public servants, paid by the state, the imams have been forced to brandish the slogan that “our income comes from the CKP, not from Allah.” Many of the imams were forced to wave Chinese flags during their ordeal. Speeches were made — it’s unclear from the reports if these were by Chinese government officials or by government-approved imams — in which young people were told both to stay away from mosques and that prayer, wherever it was said, was harmful to one’s health. Teachers throughout Xinjiang have been instructed to teach children to stay away from religion; retired teachers have been posted outside mosques during Ramadan to prevent students from entering.

Mosques have been required to push Communist propaganda, swapping inscriptions about Muhammad for red banners that declare, “Love the Party, Love the Country.”

Muslim men have been required to shave “abnormal” or “religious” beards. Punishment is strict; one man was sentenced to six years in jail for refusing to do so. Names given to children must not be “religious.” Twenty-nine names have been banned so far, such as Islam, Saddam, Mecca, Quran, Jihad, Medina; all are now strictly forbidden. Women may not wear any veils that cover the face; even women wearing only the hijab have been prevented in some parts of Xinjiang from using buses. Muslims are required to listen to the official state television (that carries anti-Muslim and pro-Communist propaganda), and cannot prevent their  children from attending state schools, where anti-religion messages are strong.

And now we hear stories of those reeducation camps, where at least one million Uighurs are confined, and subject to non-stop anti-Islam and pro-Party propaganda. There were protests, all right, against this “reeducation.” A letter, signed by 22 nations, was sent to the president of the U.N. Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling on China to end its massive detention program in Xinjiang, a group of 37 countries submitted a similar letter in defense of China’s policies.

In this letter, the signatories express concern about “credible reports of arbitrary detention” in Xinjiang and “widespread surveillance and restrictions” particularly targeting Uighurs and other minorities. The signatories call on China to uphold its national laws and international commitments, including those it has made as a member of the Human Rights Council, and “refrain from the arbitrary detention and restrictions on freedom of movement of Uighurs, and other Muslim and minority communities in Xinjiang.”

Those who signed that letter criticizing China include: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK.

Then a second letter was sent to the same people — the president of the U.N. Human Rights Council, and the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights — supporting the right of China to treat the Uighurs as it is doing. The signatories expressed their opposition to “politicizing human rights” and reiterated China’s defense of what Beijing calls “vocation education and training centers” and critics call detention centers or “reeducation camps.” Reuters quotes a passage in which the signatories justify China’s efforts: “Faced with the grave challenge of terrorism and extremism, China has undertaken a series of counter-terrorism and deradicalization measures in Xinjiang, including setting up vocational education and training centers.”

This second  letter in support of China was signed by 37 countries: Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Gabon, Kuwait, Laos, Myanmar, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Togo, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe.

Eighteen of those countries are Muslim-majority, and they include several of the most important ones — Egypt, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE.

What does it mean when 22 non-Muslim states criticize the persecution of the Muslim Uighurs, while no Muslim states do, but 18 Muslim states are willing to support, by denying, that same persecution of fellow Muslims?

Why did these Muslim states do this? They have weighed in the balance their supposed loyalty to fellow members of the Umma, the Uighurs, with what good relations with mighty China can mean for them. They know the Chinese will not take kindly to those who criticize its policies. Muslim states are a particular worry for China, because their opposition might especially hearten the Uighurs.

What can the Muslim nations lose by criticizing China’s crackdown on the Uighurs? China is now the biggest importer of oil in the world; it carefully spreads its imports among more than a dozen states, and it could  easily drop a few of its current suppliers — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Oman come immediately to mind — were they to have been critical of its Uighur policy.

As for Egypt, it is heavily dependent on Chinese aid, investments, and tourists. China has invested more than $20 billion in Egypt in recent years. The China State Engineering Corporation has been contracted to build 20 towers in New Cairo, including what is billed as the tallest tower in Africa, in a separate contract. The Chinese conglomerate TEDA-Suez is expanding its industrial zone near the Red Sea port of Ain Sokhna.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Egypt more than doubled in 2017 to 300,000, from the year before, and in 2018, 500,000 Chinese tourists went to Egypt. In 2019, the Egyptians expect a similar increase from the year before; these visits are encouraged by the ever-expanding number of charter flights between the two countries.

All of that — the investments, the aid, the tourists — could have been lost had Egypt criticized China’s Uighur policy. The decision was easy.

Had the Pakistani government  criticized the Chinese over the Uighurs, that would have had a catastrophic effect on the country. For China and Pakistan have forged a close military connection. China has far surpassed the US as the biggest weapons supplier to Pakistan. In 2018, Beijing declared its largest defense export deal, one worth $4 billion, to supply eight new submarines to Pakistan. China now calls Pakistan its “iron brother”; China is its main weapons supplier, as well as Pakistan’s preferred training partner for complex military exercises, including the use of modern technology for air battle. If Pakistan had dared to criticize the treatment of the Uighurs, it could have lost its most important arms supplier, and military ally.

In Turkey, resentment of the Syrian migrants has led to attacks by Turks on Syrian-owned stores; half-a-million of the one million Syrians in Istanbul have been given a month to return to the provinces where they are officially registered. Some Syrians have even been “escorted” back to Syria. The new mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu, has described the Syrian refugee situation as a “severe trauma”; Erdogan has publicly noted, with chagrin, the huge cost to Turkey of funding these Syrians — $37 billion and counting.

In Lebanon, the Lebanese, weary of playing host, would like both the Palestinians and the Syrians to leave. They have just passed legislation requiring non-Lebanese to obtain work permits for any employment; the Palestinians promptly protested, hysterically describing this as “racism.” The Lebanese lack of enthusiasm for enduring the refugee presence has become palpable. The 1.6 million Syrians are also being urged to return home, now that the civil war has essentially ended. On May 9, Lebanese president Michel Aoun declared that Lebanon would never survive if half a million Palestinian refugees and 1.6 million Syrian refugees remained in the country. Many Lebanese, not only the Christians, agree with him. And meanwhile, the Syrians and the Palestinians in Lebanon vie for the menial jobs that are open to them, a competition that only increases the hostility they already feel for each other.

The last example of a splintered Umma is the failure of a single Muslim state to make common cause with the Uighurs. Not a single Muslim state signed the letter denouncing China’s mistreatment of the Uighurs, while 18 Muslim states supported China’s policy. Up until February, Ankara condemned China’s “reintroduction of internment camps in the 21st century.” But then, in July, on an official visit to China, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an said that Uighurs lead happy lives in China. He went on to say that some governments were seeking to “abuse” the Xinjiang crisis to jeopardize Turkey’s economic relationship with China. The Chinese knew that the Turks, closely related by ethnicity to the Uighurs, were the most important to convince not to criticize China’s policy. Chinese economic threats must have been enormous and in the end, Erdogan capitulated. Raison d’etat prevailed, with him as with every other Muslim leader.

These three examples suggest that in the end, despite all the talk of the unbreakable bonds among Muslims, those bonds can and do break, quite easily in fact. We have seen in Turkey, between Turks and Syrian refugees, in Lebanon among Lebanese, Palestinians, and Syrians, and in all the Muslim lands, where China’s economic power is felt and feared, and loyalty to fellow Muslims — in this case Uighurs — crumbles into dust. The Umma is not shatter-proof. If you are an Infidel, that’s comforting to know.

First published in Jihad Watch here, here and here. 

Posted on 07/31/2019 4:44 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 30 July 2019
Rashida and Ilhan’s Excellent Adventure

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has wisely decided to permit Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to visit Israel. Now Israel must make the most of this trip, which the two Congresswomen plan to use to further their anti-Israel agenda. The Israelis should suggest, in the most respectful possible way, that while Rashida and Ilhan will be giving most of their attention to the “Palestinians,” “we would be pleased to show certain places of significance in Jewish and Israeli history.” If the Congresswomen accept, those sites will tell a tale, not just to them, but through the members of the media accompanying them on their visit, to the American public. And if they refuse to visit these sites, they will be put in a bad light, seen as unwilling to consider the visible evidence of the Jewish connection to the land.

At the airport in Tel Aviv, the Israeli officials welcoming them should include Jews from Arab lands, as well as Indian Jews, Yemeni Jews, and Ethiopian Jews (far darker than Ilhan Omar or Rashida), reminding the world that Israel’s Jews come from all over, and that Israel is not a “colonial-settler project” of “racist” white European Jews imposed on the Middle East. Many of those journalists covering the brief airport ceremony, and their cameramen, will note this multiracial aspect of the welcoming committee.

Then the Israelis should take Rashida and Ilhan on their excellent adventure to “places that we hope you will want to learn about, places that provide you with more than 2000 years of Jewish history.” What can Rashida and Ilhan say? “Sorry, no. We came here to visit only the Palestinians, who get so little attention,” a palpably absurd remark about the most-reported-on minority in the world. And were they to reply “We are not here for a history lesson,” that wouldn’t go over well; what are they afraid of learning? So I’m betting they would have to agree to see at least some of the  things the Israelis wish to show them.

What places would one wish to show them? Here are ten suggestions:

1. The Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum, a visible reminder that Jews were already living in the Land of Israel in 150 B.C., when the first scrolls were written. What better evidence of the Jewish presence, 800 years before any Muslim Arabs arrived?

2. Masada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where Jews — survivors of the Jewish Revolt against the Romans — held out against far larger Roman forces that besieged them, until the last fighters, with their families, decided to commit suicide rather than surrender to the Romans in 73 A.D. Again, a reminder of the early Jewish presence, and Jewish tenacity, early on.

The tour guide might also explain to Rashida and Ilhan, and their media entourage, that it was the Roman king Hadrian who, in the Second Century A.D., determined to wipe out the Jewish identity of Israel-Judah-Judea, imposed the name “Palastina” or “Palestine.” At the same time, he changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina. Another important history lesson, one which explains the use of the toponym “Palestine” to deny the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

3. The Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism, built about 20 B.C., is part of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount. Their visit should include the briefest of commentaries, in which they — and the reporters accompanying them — are reminded that Jews had always been allowed to pray at the Western Wall, except from 1949 to 1967, when the Jordanians  held the Old City.

4. A walk through the Old City. The visitors — and accompanying cameras — will see for themselves that the Jewish Quarter looks quite different from the Muslim, Christian, and Armenian Quarters. Their buildings are all old stone, while — the guide explains — “the Jewish Quarter, as you can see, looks positively brand new. And that’s because it is. So much of it was destroyed by the Jordanians, including 58 synagogues that were demolished, that it had to be largely rebuilt after 1967. That’s why it looks so new.” What can Ilhan and Rashida respond?

5. The Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives. This is the oldest and most important Jewish cemetery in Israel. Burial on the Mount of Olives started some 3,000 years ago in the days of the First Temple, and continues to this day. The cemetery contains anywhere between 70,000 and 150,000 tombs. Here Rashida and Ilhan should be shown the oldest of tombstones, testifying to the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel dating back to 1000 B.C. They should also be shown the places where 38,000 tombstones had once been, but were uprooted by Arabs during the Jordanian occupation of the Old City, with some of the tombstones used to line the floors of Jordanian army latrines, and others crushed into gravel and used at building sites.

6. Yad Vashem. The well-known photograph that shows the meeting of Haj Amin Al Husseini, the leader of the Palestinian Arabs from the 1920s to the late 1940s, with Adolf Hitler, properly enlarged, should be put up on a wall at Yad Vashem where the visitors cannot avoid seeing it. The guides at Yad Vashem can explain in a few sentences who Al Husseini was and what he did during the war years from 1940 to 1945, when he lived contentedly in Nazi Berlin. Al-Husseini urged Hitler not to let any Jews escape to Palestine; he helped raise three brigades of S.S. troops from among Bosnian Muslims; he became friends with Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Eichmann, in whose company he may have visited Auschwitz. During this time his popularity rose among the Arabs in Palestine; after the war he resumed his role as leader of the Palestine Arabs, with no Arabs objecting to his Nazi connection. It was only after the Arab defeat in the 1948-49 war, for which some Arabs blamed him, that Al-Husseini lost his position as leader of the Palestine Arabs, and went into exile in Cairo.

7. The Knesset. A quick visit to Israel’s parliament, where Ilhan and Rashida — and the reporters accompanying them — will see this raucous institution at work. Among the members of the Knesset are twelve Arab MKs, some of them routinely denouncing Israel, while other Arab MKs — this might surprise Ilhan and Rashida — are members of the Zionist Union and Likud parties. Jewish and Arab MKs can thus be seen on camera expressing themselves to their heart’s content, in the Middle East’s only democracy.

8. Hadassah Hospital, where Jewish and Arab doctors and nurses work side by side, and the patients — again, both Jewish and Arab — receive the highest standard of care in the Middle East. Let Tlaib and Omar meet the Palestinian doctors on staff who have received their medical training in Israel, and Arab patients who are being treated, often for free, thanks to the Peres Center and other charities, in Israeli hospitals. It might make them reconsider their views about those “oppressive” Israelis.

9. The Technion or the Weizmann Institute of Science. Either will do, for both provide a view of Israel as the original start-up nation. Rashida and Ilhan will no doubt be surprised at the astonishing list of Israeli inventions and innovations. In the field of medicine alone, they could learn about Israeli advances in the last few years, including: new ways of treating multiple sclerosis and pancreatic cancer; new aids to coping with loss of limbs (ReWalk), new diagnostic techniques (the Sniffphone), new medical devices (the PillCam, the Flexible Stent). Even if they refuse to be impressed, the members of the media will still have conveyed the information about these Israeli achievements to the American public.

10. Finally, they might briefly visit a startup Israeli company where innovations are brought to market, and where the workforce consists of Jews and Arabs. This ruins the narrative that Tlaib and Omar have been feeding the American public, about cruel Israelis and miserably treated Palestinians.

Summary: The Congresswomen, and the American public, will be given rapid but indelible lessons about the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel. They will have seen the Dead Sea Scrolls (150 B.C.), the Western Wall (20 B.C.), Masada (73 A.D.), the venerable and vandalized Mt. of Olives Cemetery (the oldest tombs date from 1000 B.C.), each offering a very different kind of mute testimony to the Jews in their land. At Yad Vashem, they — and the American public — will learn about the connection of the man who was leader of the Palestinian Arabs for nearly 30 years, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, to the Nazis and the Holocaust. They will glimpse Israel’s rambunctious democracy at work in the Knesset, a sharp contrast to the authoritarian rule in the Palestine Authority, where the colossally corrupt Mahmoud Abbas, with his 400-million-dollar family fortune, was last “elected” to a four-year-term in 2005, and hasn’t felt the need to hold an election since. Then they will see Israel at work: Jewish and Arab medical personnel together treating Jewish and Arab patients with equal solicitousness; Jews and Arabs working side by side in research, development, and manufacturing, in all sorts of companies, but especially in high tech. One example of such collaboration the Israelis might want to mention is the tech company Mellanox, recently sold to the American company NVIDIA. The Arab engineers at Mellanox are set to share a $3.5 million payout. Not exactly the “oppression” that Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib insist is the real story of Israel.

Let their excellent adventure in the Land of Israel be turned into a teaching moment. Not for them, but for the American and world public, who will be kept informed by the reporters and cameramen who accompany them. It’s not what they wanted or expected, but they weren’t what many of us wanted or expected. So let’s just call it even.

First published in Jihad Watch

Posted on 07/30/2019 6:57 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Tuesday, 30 July 2019
My response to the "author" of "Compendium of the Authoritarian Nationalist Right: Pt. 9, INDEX," on which my name appears

by Michael Rectenwald

Senator Joseph McCarthy

You write: "It doesn’t include mainstream libertarians, moderate Republicans, or philosophical conservatives, although there is a compelling argument to be made that white nationalists have hi-jacked the GOP. All included are public figures and/or publicly recognizable organizations. *** I have not drawn a hard and fast distinction between these classifications."***

Might that be because you are a not a scholar but rather a sloppy slinger of plug-n-play "social justice" argot and meme-laden tripe? Just for example, you have my name listed beside "Citizens for Legitimate Government" (which is now CLG News). I sold the website over fifteen years ago, and maybe once a year, or once every two years, contribute an article to the site. Otherwise, I have nothing to do with it. The assignation of the site to me is the equivalent of calling a freelance contributor to the Nation its owner--oh, I mean "governor."

Also, I am a civil libertarian, so according to your exclusions, I do not belong on your list. But then again, your list is nothing but a meaningless collection of bogies haunting a febrile, McCarthyist left, a neocon left, a cocksure but ideologically-deranged left, whose delirious self-righteousness makes you and your hordes of bots far more dangerous than any neo-reactionary grouping of approximately five guys in their basements, a group that hasn't killed anyone, let alone the 94 million murdered by the epigones of Marx.

Yours is a left that proudly dons its professorial gowns and decorates them with virtue-signaling buttons, like it's great to kill 9-month-old babies postpartum, even when the "gender they were assigned at birth" was "girl." What wonderful people. God forbid those pro-lifers, who object to mass-murdering female babies in the name of anti-patriarchy.

All together, I see nothing in your list but a conflation of disparate categories, histrionics, and amazingly, a firm and zealous belief in your own innocence, an unabashed certainty that leftism is the default no-fault ideology, that your moral probity is indubitable, and that you are a superior moral human being to those on your scrwal of shame. Meanwhile, you screech like a dervish hellbent on vengeance, or a Red Guard zealot in the Maoist Cultural Revolution; you sound like someone who would have relished the opportunity to conduct struggle sessions and put the ideologically impure on trial, and worse.

I have news for you. Four times more people were killed in the name of "equality" than in the name of "supremacy." Leftists in power are the most murderous political contingent in world history. The score is 94 to 25 million, and the left is "winning." (Oh, I forgot that murder for a noble abstraction is fine, utterly exempt, and not even murder!)

Get off your moral high horse, because it's nothing but a painted merry-go-round pony. And yes, it's phony, just like the simulacrum that your news media produces for you daily.

But no, it's the "alt-right," and "them Russians them Russians" (Allen Ginsberg, "America," 1956; he'd have despised your sickeningly censorious "social justice" authoritarian lunacy). And it's that alt-right--where "alt-right" means anyone right of Stalin (you don't even get the irony I bet), everyone who's "incorrect" because they're wrong, wrong because they are not unhinged, a requirement for being declared sane in leftist land, where Cartesian self-affirmation amounts to "I don't have to think, therefore I'm correct."

Enjoy your list-keeping. But if you libel me again, I will sue for all the pacifiers in your safe space.

Posted on 07/30/2019 6:36 AM by Michael Rectenwald
Monday, 29 July 2019
Robert Mueller Can’t Recall

by Conrad Black

Even I, as someone who has been blue in the face shrieking that the Mueller inquiry would be an unutterable fiasco since the day it was announced, could not have imagined such a terrible shambles as the world watched, gape-mouthed (like the witness much of the time), when Robert Mueller appeared before the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees on Wednesday.

The Democratic line that began with the president being a traitor who would be removed from office and imprisoned, and descended to impeachment but clinging to the Oval Office furniture by the grace of Republican senators, to general odium for moral turpitude, is now reduced to hypocritical pieties about ethics and the robo-repetition that “No one is above the law.”

Wednesday marks the decisive turning from squeezing the last drop out of the lemon of the president’s alleged crimes, to the long-delayed investigation of the investigators.

The revelation that the Steele dossier—cited in Hillary Clinton’s election memoir as evidence of Trump’s treason—was commissioned and paid for by the Clinton campaign was dismissed as a ”talking point” by the Washington Post and the Democrats generally. The fact that it was the basis of false foreign intelligence surveillance applications was disputed and then allowed to pass and fade with full media silence.

The Strzok-Page text messages revealing a rabid partisanship on the part of some of Mueller’s leading collaborators, the instant transition of Clinton’s official whitewashers into Trump’s defamers and tormentors was dismissed as improper aspersing of distinguished professionals. Mueller was portrayed as a virtual Superman of law enforcement integrity, a “Republican” war hero and peerless exemplar of faithful, selfless public and patriotic service, and the most knowledgeable and formidable of the country’s experts on law enforcement and clean government. He would unmask and destroy the perfidious ogre who had swindled, flim-flammed, and sleazed his way into the White House.

Mueller may once have deserved some of that iconization, though a number of episodes, including his handling of the FBI corruption case in Boston, the Atlanta Olympic bomber affair, and the Uranium One affair, leave room for some reservations. But it became clear on Wednesday that he did not remember much of anything about “his” report, could not even retrieve from memory the much bandied-about word “conspiracy,” contradicted himself, and stonewalled the committees on many questions that appeared to be appropriate for him to answer, (though many questions he rightly declined to answer).

Still, it was a bit rich that Mueller criticized the president in his written answers for stating that he (Trump) did not remember the correct answer to some of the special counsel’s (Mueller’s) questions, given the porosity of his own memory. Never mind the invocation by his successor at the FBI, James Comey, 250 times under oath that he didn’t recall recent matters highly germane to his official duties and actions.

David Axelrod, current spiritual holder of the of the Saul Alinsky Prize for slippery political conjuration, tweeted after a couple of hours that the hearings were “very painful.” They were, and not just for those who were hoping that the hearings would grease the skids for the Democratic presidential impeachment launch. Mueller was drawn, pallid, hesitant, and inarticulate, and very unfamiliar with much of what he had been asked to recall and answer. He appeared to be ill and in no condition to deal with such a challenging session, and implausible as the real guiding force behind this massive and completely redundant inquest.

By the end of the day, there was a general recognition that the page had been turned. The more rabid Democrats may continue to huff and puff and shake their fists at the sky like King Lear, and promise vigilance against the machinations of the Kremlin. But those responsible for this monstrous disgrace to the intelligence services and the FBI that merged parts of them with the dirty tricks division of the Democratic National Committee, cannot delay their day of reckoning much longer.

The Coming Backlash for Democrats
The real origins of this satanic sequence of outrages and the real authors of this ridiculous special counsel report will be unmasked. The Democratic impeachers will be overwhelmed by the gathering backlash.

Mueller has been a respectable front for a ghastly assault on the Constitution, and at the end, he was, understandably, a reluctant witness, but—brave old soldier and Bronze Star winner that he is—he took a bullet for the platoon rather than accept the attorney general’s offer of assistance if he wanted to ignore the House subpoenas to appear. He wanted to retain his professional standing while fronting a horrible mutation of the political system. It was a little like Theresa May, the British prime minister who left office the same day, trying to leave Europe and remain in it simultaneously.

As Washington Dinsdale said in the 1939 Marlene Dietrich-James Stewart film “Destry Rides Again,” one “must choose between the bottle and the badge.” Mueller tried to turn an inability to exonerate—a standard that he admitted has never been asked or expected of any kind of American prosecutor—into something the Democratic congressional allies of his investigative team could use to continue their malicious and illegal harassment of the president. He never should have published the second volume of his report, which is a pastiche of selective and spliced scraps scarcely more rigorously composed than the Steele dossier and apparently intended, with no more success, to serve the same partisan interests.

It is a great sadness, a great victory, and a great irony. The spectacle of a stooped and aged Robert Mueller, after he had (voluntarily) been so dishonestly used by the president’s enemies, was an objectively sad one, a sorry swan-song to a substantial career. The victory of the Trump Republicans is seismic, and announces the imminent exposure and punishment of those who abused the system to attack the president and deform the political system.

The irony is two-fold. If Trump’s enemies had not launched the Russian collusion nonsense, all their pre-electoral skullduggery would not have been unearthed—if they had given him the normal honeymoon for incoming presidents, a serene ambiance would have settled Washington down, at least for a year or so, and they would now be wallowing in their Washington lobbying and other sinecures.

The second irony is that there is plenty of room to attack this president in more traditional and acceptable ways. His policies have mainly been successful; but he is too bumptious, egocentric, and stylistically annoying for many people, and the Democrats could have made something of an issue out of his personality.

Instead, they have struck out, will have no window through which to fire live ammunition at Trump, and will have to take the heat for their corrupt actions. They promised “scorched earth,” and are immolating themselves.

We are now between the lightning and the thunder.

First published in American Greatness

Posted on 07/29/2019 11:08 AM by Conrad Black
Sunday, 28 July 2019
Fears over Muslim parents withdrawing children from 'non-halal' flu vaccine

From the Telegraph

Muslim parents are refusing to allow their children to take part in a nationwide flu vaccine drive after the Muslim Council of Britain ruled the treatment was forbidden by Islam.

Public health officials have raised concern over the number of Muslim children expected to be withdrawn from a major programme beginning in schools next month.

For the first time, every healthy child of primary school age in England will be offered a nasal spray vaccine to protect people of all ages from the virus.

But Muslim parents across the country have been told that the Fluenz spray is not permitted because it contains gelatine derived from pigs, which are considered unclean. In some areas the “vast majority” of Muslim parents have vowed to withdraw their children from the programme, community leaders revealed.

Tonight the Royal College of Public Health said the situation “added to the risk of major flu outbreaks” and urged the government to offer a halal alternative vaccine acceptable to Muslims.

Public Health England documents seen by the Telegraph reveal concern that uptake in Muslim areas has already been “significantly lower” than the average. “Vaccine uptake is significantly and independently associated with increasing deprivation, ethnicity and areas with the largest Muslim populations,” the document says. Across England, the document adds, the most common reason for refusal given by parents was “vaccine contains porcine gelatine”.

NHS England has urged Muslim parents to consider making an exception because the vaccine can be “considered different from ingesting food”.

But the Muslim Council of Britain told the Telegraph that it was advising imams to tell parents that Fluenz is “not acceptable in Islam”. 

Dr Shuja Shafi, chairman of the MCB's research and documentation committee, said: "We have consulted the scholars and this is their view. Since then we have been giving people the information so that they can make their judgement. We need another vaccine which is halal and can be offered to all. We urge the government and the industry to make this happen.”

Azhar Ali, leader of the Labour group on Lancashire County Council, said the “vast majority” of Muslim parents in his county planned to withdraw their children from the programme. “Many mosques have been promoting that this vaccine is not halal, so children shouldn’t use it,” he said. 

Jewish leaders have already ruled the vaccine permissible because the pork gelatine is not eaten.

Posted on 07/28/2019 5:16 PM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Sunday, 28 July 2019
The inconvenient truth about Trump — he's doing what he said he would

To the extent to which his record in office conforms to pre-electoral promises, Trump’s record has been the best of any U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge

by Conrad Black

In The Globe and Mail last month, one Ian McGugan wrote a piece that was titled, very aptly but probably not in the way intended, “Dumb and Dumbest.” He quotes Simon Wren-Lewis, a quasi-Marxist economist and economic advisor to the British Labour Party (deep) shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, an authoritarian quasi-Marxist, and to his leader, the antediluvian, anti-Semitic national embarrassment Jeremy Corbyn. Other than as a former Oxford academic economist, McGugan did not introduce the source of the sage question that inspired his think-piece: “Why are we governed by incompetents?” McGugan helpfully chimed in that in “a growing number of countries, the only qualification for high office appears to be a complete lack of qualifications.” The next apercu was inexorable: “The most glaring example of a dolt-in-chief is Donald Trump. He is averaging a dozen false or misleading claims a day, according to a tally compiled by the Washington Post.”

The Washington Post abandoned that nonsensical claim to count the president’s liberties with the truth 18 months ago, and it was counting every instance of Trump’s casual hyperbole as if it were a direct violation of his Constitutional oath. In fact, by the ultimate litmus test of the integrity of holders of high political office, the extent to which his record in office conforms to pre-electoral promises, Trump’s record has been the best of any U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge (1923-1929), who promised, and did, nothing, in the piping days of American isolationism, Prohibition and complete absence of requirements for collateral in borrowing to buy equities. (This was a bi-partisan policy trifecta that eventually gave us Al Capone, Hitler, the Great Depression and the Second World War.)

Trump promised prosperity, tax cuts, renegotiation of disadvantageous trade deals, the annihilation of ISIL, the establishment of a southern border that would control entry to the country, the shaping up of the military, revival of the concept of nuclear non-proliferation regarding Iran and North Korea, withdrawal from the inane and self-punitive Paris Climate accord, a resuscitation of education through non-unionized schools and incentives to the reintroduction of free speech in academia and the end of NATO’s condition as a gang of defenceless freeloaders (such as Canada), generously accepting a military guaranty of their territory by the United States without paying for it.

Trump’s record has been the best of any U.S. president since Calvin Coolidge

The fact that he has delivered wholly or partially on all of this is, to borrow a phrase from one of the great charlatans ever elected to U.S. national office, Al Gore, “an inconvenient truth” that the conventional media of the Western world have great difficulty acknowledging. The Canadian media would have to be scrutinized by a veritable Sherlock Holmes to unearth the facts that the United States now has 1.6 million more positions to be filled than unemployed people, that per capita GDP growth has tripled, the economic growth rate is more than three times that of the European Union, more than 50 per cent above the Obama record, and that working- and middle-class income and purchasing power are growing for the first time this millennium.

Never mind, Trump’s the dolt-in-chief, as the whole world knows. Of course he has a complete lack of qualifications for this position. The facts that he made billions of dollars putting up high-quality buildings, founded a television program that pulled in about 25 million viewers every week for a decade and a half, that he made an astounding comeback from insolvency, paying all his creditors, is the only person elected president of the U.S. never to have held any public office or military command, devised a pioneering strategy of branding, self-promotion, social media and talk-show support to become president — all of this merely proves his lack of qualifications to do anything. (His foray into the casino business was a junk-bond operation, where everyone knows the risk.)

Of course, his stature is pathetic and dwarfish except for the additional inconvenient truth about Trump — that he has achieved more prior to being inaugurated president than any of his 43 predecessors except three co-founders of the country, two victorious commanders of great armies in just wars, and the great distributor of war relief in Europe in and after the First World War, respectively Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Grant, Eisenhower and Hoover. But McGugan and Jeremy Corbyn’s economic guru, Wren-Lewis, who may have inspired the current Labour Party’s admiration of the Venezuelan economic miracle, acknowledge that Trump has competitors in “wind-baggery:” the British Brexit leaders Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.

They “never really thought through what departing the European Union would mean in practice,” and were unaware that there had been a border between Ulster and the Republic of Ireland. In fact, they started and led the successful Brexit campaign and never wavered in their views. Farage has been the most capable British party leader since Margaret Thatcher and Johnson has risen in 25 years from Daily Telegraph Brussels correspondent to editor of the Spectator (I appointed him to both positions, where he was very successful) to mayor of London, foreign secretary and now prime minister of the United Kingdom.

Even allowing for the incontestable Delphic exaltation of McGugan and Wren-Lewis, Europe is a socialistic house of cards. Economic co-operation and the end of intra-European war are splendid. But Brussels isn’t answerable to the major EU powers or the ludicrous and powerless talking shop of a European Parliament. It isn’t democratic and that is the main reason why Britain is leaving. Without Britain, the EU will become a Franco-German hegemonic zone continuing, for notorious historic reasons, to pay unsustainable quantities of danegeld to organized labour and the small farmers, and treading water economically. If it does not adopt a two-tier system — a common market for all and political integration only for the countries that wish it, the European Union will disintegrate. Whatever happens in the EU, Britain will sever its excessive intimacy, but not its good relations, with western Europe. The fear-mongering of Mark Carney and others will be exposed as unfounded. Trump said two years ago that “A strong and independent Britain is a blessing to the world.” Johnson and Trump will strengthen the Anglosphere, the most positive force in world affairs for 200 years, and will in some respects revive the productive relations of Churchill and Roosevelt and Thatcher and Reagan. With the rise of China, this could be the most important strategic development since the end of the Cold War.

Also in recent editions of The Globe and Mail were columns by Omar El Akkad and Samra Habib, predictably attacking Trump as a racist, inciter of violence and head of a vast movement of hate-filled people. He and his followers welcome a million legal immigrants a year; his government is allied with many Muslim countries, and most Americans support his view that those who seem to think little of their country are welcome to leave it. (Trump is, admittedly, a strange cat and not to everyone’s taste including, sometimes, mine, but he is very accomplished.)

There are many competent democratic leaders apart from Trump and Johnson: Morrison (Australia), Salvini (Italy), Abe (Japan), Modi (India), Netanyahu (Israel), Merkel, though she has reached her sell-by date, (Germany), and possibly Macron (France), are among them. (If Corbyn and McDonnell last to the next British election, they will never be heard from again after that.) A greater problem than quality of political leadership is the almost unrelievedly banal groupthink and complacency of our Western media, as the Globe so helpfully reminds us. As Montreal’s Irving Layton wrote of anti-Americanism in Canada 50 years ago: “Cowardice is wisdom; mediocrity, sanity; philistinism, Olympian serenity; and the spitefulness of the weak, moral indignation.”

First published in the National Post.

Posted on 07/28/2019 4:14 AM by Conrad Black
Sunday, 28 July 2019
Democratic Transition in Tunisia

by Michael Curtis

Arab Spring Demonstration in Tunisia

The stars are aglow in the heavens, but only wise men and Dizzy Gillespie know that they guide you in a Night in Tunisia. The death on July 25, 2019 of Beji Caid Essebsi, President of Tunisia, has reminded observers of the political stars aglow in the country seeking to promote peace and democracy in the area devoid of light in the Middle East and in North Africa. The so-called Arab Spring began in Tunis, resulting from the civilian protests after a young street vendor, troubled by not having a license to sell fruit and vegetables, on December 17, 2010 set himself on fire. The protests after his death led in Tunisia to the ousting of the ruler Zine Ben Ali, and to similar protests and demonstrations in Arab and Islamic countries. It was the first time an Arab dictator had been removed by action of the people, not by a coup d’etat. In Tunisia, the first president after the country gained independence from France, Habib Bourguiba, who ruled from 1956 for 31 years was overthrown by a coup after which Ali in 1987 took power. However, Ali himself was forced to leave the country in 2011 at the start of the Arab Spring. 

Tunisia has remained peaceful and  interested in becoming more liberal in an area more accustomed to belligerent and repressive activity: the coup in Egypt and the continuing conflicts in Libya, Syria, Lebanon, with the Hezbollah, and Yemen. 

The Arab Spring toppled dictators, but all countries except Tunisia returned to violence and authoritarianism. Unlike countries like Syria, Libya, or Yemen, Tunisia took a different path, if not a smooth or complete one. It is a free, independent, sovereign state, based on citizenship, the will of the people, and the supremacy of law.  According to the constitution, the people possess sovereignty and are  the source of all powers. Women have equal rights and duties. There are limits on executive power, presidential term limits, a constitutional court with power to impeach, and an independent judiciary. 

Tunisia is a small country, 63,000 square miles, with a population of 11 million, 98 per cent of whom are Muslims. During World War II it was controlled by as regime that supported Vichy applied the Vichy antisemitic laws and discrimination against Jews, the wearing of the yellow star. Among Tunisian Jews were the distinguished writer, author of The Colonizer and the Colonized, Albert Memmi, and Victor Perez, the World Flyweight boxing champion. Memmi was imprisoned in a forced labor camp from which he escaped. Perez was transported to Auschwitz, sent to slave labor, and died in the death march from Auschwitz in January 1945.

Essebsi was too young to be a resister but he has played an important, indeed historic, role in Tunisia, starting as an official during the autocratic regimes set up after independence from France. Born in 1926, he came from an elite family of Italian origin, studied law in Paris, became an advisor to, and protégé of Habib Bouguiba and supported the movement for independence that Bouguiba led. Among his official positions were Ambassador to France and Germany, president of the Chamber of Deputies, and served in a number of government posts, interior, defense, foreign affairs, and prime minister in 2011 for a few months. 

Essebsi was controversial because of his support for the repressive regimes led first by  Bourguiba who became president after the country became independent from France in 1956,  and then by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who ruled for 23 years. He was accused of being complicit in the bad treatment, even torture, of prisoners in 1965-69. 

Essebsi retired from politics in 1994 but then returned as the major figure in shaping the political system of the country and taking it in a secular direction after the 2010-2011 upheavals. He became president in 2014, and helped to draft the constitution. His historic significance is that he is the democratic elected president in the Islamic world, and the first to engage in power sharing with Islamists. He said he would not run again in the next presidential election in November 2019.

Essebsi founded a new party, Nidaa Tounes of non-Islamists, and led opposition to the Islamist party Ennahda. He defeated his rival, Islamist  Moncef Marzouki in the presidential election in 2014, promising to restore political stability and  democratic rule. He called for a strong state, a secular society, and legislation to promote women’s rights. He sought to modernize Tunisia, allowing women to be able to marry non-Muslims, and obtain equal inheritance, and called for banning the wearing of the niqab which covers the whole face. 

Most important, he entered into compromise politics with the help of the Islamist parties. He was a secularist who understood that Islamists have a place in society. He emphasized patriotism above party politics. He made a compromise agreement with Rachid Ghannouchi, head of Nahda an Islamist party that has the largest number of seats in the Tunisian parliament.

The first free election in the Arab world took place on October 23, 2011. 81 parties competed; Ennahda won 41.4 per cent, 89 seats on the 217 constituent assembly. In October 2014 election, Nidaa, the secular party of Essebsi, eclectic, including business people, trade unionists and politicians, won 85 seats to 69 of Ennahda.   .

The new Tunisian constitution of January 26, 2014 is a series of compromises, with divided executive power, and gender parity. It protects freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. It protects Jews from official or unofficial discrimination. Jews whose presence in the country goes back 2,000  years, amounted to 100,000 in 1948, but now only 0.1 per cent of population. Tunisia during World War II had been led by Vichy, applying antisemitic laws, the wearing of the yellow star. Some Jews were sent to forced labor camps, and others  to extermination camps. 

Article 3 of the constitution states that the people possess sovereignty and are the source of all powers. Article 31 provides for freedom of opinion, thought, expression, information, and publication; these shall not be subject to prior censorship. This is a democratic system in which executive power is exercise jointly by the president, the head of state who is elected by direct universal suffrage, and by the head of government, able to control a majority in parliament.

Tunisia faces multiple economic and political problems, high unemployment strikes, and attacks by suicide bombers and by militant groups. It is a fragile democracy, but important as the only country engaged in democratic procedures after the April Spring that failed in all other countries. Essebsi was a pillar of the transition to democracy. It is a fitting tribute that in October 2015 the Nobel Peace Prize was given to a Tunisian group known as the National Dialogue Quartet, formed in 2013, an alliance of representatives of workers, employers, lawyers, and human rights activists. They were honored for their quest in contributing to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia. The honor is more meaningful in the realization that others being considered for the Nobel Prize included Pope Francis, Angela Merkel, and John Kerry. 

Posted on 07/28/2019 3:58 AM by Michael Curtis
Saturday, 27 July 2019
ISIS-inspired youth wanted to poison Mumbai's water sources

And not just the water, Hindu temple sacred food as well as experimenting with explosives. And they were 'students' of Zakir Naik
From India Today and DNA India

Members of an "IS-inspired" terror group arrested from Maharashtra in January for allegedly planning mass killing at a temple were inspired by speeches of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, according to an ATS charge sheet filed in a Mumbai court.

They had tried to poison the temple's 'maha prasad' (holy food) at the temple, it said, adding that they also underwent training for making explosives and poison and participated in blast trials at a hill near the Mumbra bypass in Thane district.

Four days after the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad filed a charge sheet ... the ATS has revealed that the men had a bigger sinister plan – to poison water sources. The men had conspired to put later a lethal substance into water sources in Mumbai, which could have catastrophic consequences.

One of the prime conspirators, Jaman Nawab Khuteupad, has been identified as a chemical expert. The 32-year-old Mumbra resident worked as a pharmacist at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and played an instrumental role in concocting the poison to be used in the 'prasad' to be offered at the temple.

According to the charge sheet, "the accused were inspired by speeches of Naik", against whom charges of money laundering have been filed by the Enforcement Directorate. The ATS found several videos featuring Naik and his images on social media profiles of the accused, it said.

According to the charge sheet, some of the accused arrested also attended physical training sessions for terror activities at a stadium in Mumbra.

The accused have been identified as Abu Hamza, Fahad Ansari, Talha Potrik, Mohsin Khan alias Abu Marya, Mohammad Takky Khan alias Abu Khalid, Atai Waris Abdul Rashid Shaikh alias Mazhar, Salman Khan alias Abu Ubeda, Mushahed Ul-Islam, Jaman Nawab Khuteupad alias Abu Kital and a minor.


Posted on 07/27/2019 7:44 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Saturday, 27 July 2019
Speech - The People’s Party of Canada Position on Immigration and Multiculturalism

Maxime Bernier, Leader of the People’s Party of Canada spoke at an immigration rally in Mississauga, July 24, 2019

I want to discuss with you today the People’s Party position on immigration.

For decades now, there has only been one acceptable position among our political and intellectual elites: more, and more, and more immigration.

There is a taboo around this topic. As soon as you raise a concern about the level of immigration, someone will accuse you of harbouring anti-immigrant views and being racist or xenophobic.

The result is that all the other parties have the same position. They are all in favour of mass immigration.

The Liberals have increased immigration levels from an average of 250,000 per year during the last decades to 350,000 in 2021, a 40% increase.

Andrew Scheer gave a speech on immigration a few weeks ago. He did not say anything relevant or significant. He did not mention any number. Instead, he spent half an hour pleading that he is not racist.

No lessons to receive

I’m not going to spend 30 minutes rejecting accusations of racism. Only 30 seconds. That’s all I need to refute a false and ridiculous accusation.  

I don’t care one bit about people’s race or skin colour. I have said many times that racists and bigots are not welcome in our party. We care about shared values, culture and identity.

You can be of any ethnic background or faith, and be a Canadian, if you share fundamental Canadian values, learn about our history and culture, and integrate in our society.

There are nominated candidates of all races and religions in the PPC. With names like Salim Mansour, Rocky Dong, Jigna Jani, Tahir Gora, Jude Guerrier, Jing Lan Yang, Salomon Rayek, and many, many others.

We have no lessons to receive from anyone about openness and inclusiveness.

And the journalists who don’t want to recognize this and keep coming back with questions about bigotry can just take a hike!

No taboo

Immigration is a very important question. It’s completely absurd to turn it into a taboo subject.

And the majority of Canadians agree with us.

The reason those in favour of mass immigration don’t want to have any debate on this issue is because they know they would lose it.

Every survey that has come out in recent years shows that a large proportion of Canadians, depending on the question, support a lower immigration level.

In an Angus-Reid poll last year, 49% said it was too high, while only 6% wanted Canada to accept more immigrants.

Who are the extremists? The left-wing media and activists say we are extremists because we want to cut immigration.

But they are the extremists! The Liberals are the extremists! We are the mainstream!

Canada already accepts more immigrants than almost any other country: 21% of our population was born outside of Canada. More than one in five.

Our ratio is higher than in the US, where it is 15%. It is almost double that of European countries like France, Germany and the UK, where the foreign born constitute only 12% of the population. And where there have been for many years social tensions related to immigration.

Canada has always been a country largely open to immigration, because of its vastness and its relative youth. I believe that by and large, our immigration policy has been very successful.

But that doesn’t mean this will always continue, as we keep increasing immigration to new record levels. We are not immune to the conflicts and social tensions happening elsewhere.

I want Canada to still be a peaceful, prosperous and harmonious society 25 years from now, with well-integrated immigrants.

Maintaining Canada’s national identity

So let’s ignore the critics and discuss the specific reasons immigration levels should be lowered.

Most fundamentally, it has to do with social harmony and the maintenance of our Canadian national identity.

Last year, in August, just before I left the Conservative Party, I published six tweets that caused quite a controversy.

I was criticizing Justin Trudeau’s slogan that “diversity is our strength.” I attacked the Liberal cult of diversity and extreme multiculturalism.

I recognized that of course, Canada is and has always been a diverse country. We have First Nations and Inuit, two official languages, a multiethnic population, and very different regional cultures. The culture of Cape Breton is very different from that of the Eastern Townships in Quebec, or that of southern Alberta, or Nunavut.

All these regional cultures are intrinsically Canadian. They developed in Canada. They don’t exist anywhere else in the world. They deserve to be nurtured and to survive.

My problem with Trudeau’s slogan, and with the policies that go with it, is not that I am against diversity. It’s the belief that more and more diversity is always better. And that there is no limit to it.

As I wrote in one of my tweets, if anything and everything is Canadian, does being Canadian mean something? Shouldn’t we emphasize our cultural traditions? What we have built and have in common? What makes us different from other cultures and societies?

In the past, immigrants who came here gradually integrated into our society. They kept some aspects of the culture of their country of origin, of course. And that influenced and changed our society. They became Canadian, but with a distinct flavour.

This is a type of multiculturalism that enriches our society. And it is perfectly fine.

But that is very different than coming here to recreate the society and culture you left behind.

Living permanently in an enclave apart from the larger Canadian society.

And moreover, being officially encouraged by the government to continue to do so rather than to integrate into Canadian society and adopt Canadian culture and values.

A nation must be based on a sense of belonging, of participating in a common national project, sharing the same values, being different from the rest of the world.

It’s only when these sentiments are widely shared that we can develop the trust and common understanding necessary for our institutions to function.

Our country was almost torn apart because of the misunderstandings between Francophone Quebecers and the rest of Canada.

Many First Nations members feel alienated from Canadian society.

So why would we want to emphasize cultural, religious and ethnic differences, which have been one of the main causes of conflict throughout human history? This is insane.

We can already see the consequences in the way ethnic politics has become the norm among the other parties. They don’t talk to Canadians. They address themselves to ethnic voting blocs. To Ukrainian Canadians, Italian Canadians, Chinese Canadians, Muslim Canadians, Sikh Canadians.

Trudeau does it, Scheer does it, Singh does it.

Even our foreign policy now depends on appealing to these ethnic political clienteles, instead of being based on the interests of Canada as a whole.

If we continue on the present course, all these little tribes will have less and less in common, apart from their dependence on government in Ottawa.

Multiculturalism and balkanization

Some people have accused me of abandoning my free-market ideas because I talk about these issues. But this is totally misguided.

Mass immigration, open borders, unvetted immigration, extreme multiculturalism: all of this has nothing to do with freedom.

On the contrary, it’s a very dangerous type of social engineering. It amounts to large-scale government intervention in society and culture.

It will bring increasing cultural balkanisation, distrust, social conflict, and potentially violence, as we are seeing in other countries where division has reached a critical level.

In his 1991 book on multiculturalism, the late advisor to John F. Kennedy, Arthur Schlesinger, warned that “countries break up when they fail to give ethnically diverse peoples compelling reasons to see themselves as part of the same nation.”

Three years later, Canadian author Neil Bissoondath published Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada. That’s a very good title!

Bissoondath wrote that encouraging ethnic differences leads immigrants to adopt a psychology of separation from the mainstream culture. And he blamed multiculturalism for creating enclaves that isolate ethnic groups, at the expense of the unity and cohesion of our society.

Let me cite one more scholar. In his current research, Canadian political scientist Eric Kaufmann shows that lower immigration rates also help newcomers themselves. Because the lower rates bring greater integration, while also making the established population more welcoming.    

In case there is a CBC journalist reporting this. Please note that these writers are not Far Right white supremacists. Just trying to help my good friends at CBC here!

Protecting Western Values

And let’s stop being politically correct. We must recognize that not all values, not all social customs, not all cultures, are equally valuable.

Our distinct values are those of contemporary Western civilization. They include democracy, individual rights and freedoms, including freedom of religious belief and freedom to criticize religion.

Our distinct values also include equality between men and women, the equal treatment of all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, the rule of law, separation of state and religion, tolerance and pluralism, and loyalty to the wider society instead of to one’s clan or tribe.

When I say that newcomers to Canada must integrate into our society and share our values, it is to these Western values that I am referring.

Values that our ancestors fought for. Values that explain why we are one of the freest, most dynamic, and most prosperous societies in the world. Classical liberal values.

In most non-Western societies still today, these values are not widely accepted or practiced. In fact, that’s precisely the reason why millions of people from around the world want to come to Canada and other Western countries.

Among the threats to our values and way of life is political Islam, or Islamism, the fastest-growing and most dangerous radical ideology in the world today, which is responsible for so much violence in so many countries.

There is growing evidence that Islamists are pushing their agenda here in Canada, with the support of money from the Middle East.

One of the main critics of Islamism in Canada is our star candidate, Salim Mansur. He too wrote a book about multiculturalism a few years ago.

In it, he described official multiculturalism, sponsored by the state, supported by taxpayers, and enforced by human rights commissions acting as the thought-police, as a lie.

A lie based on the idea that all cultures are equal. A lie destructive of our Western liberal democratic heritage, traditions, and values based on individual rights and freedoms. 

The biggest peddler of this lie in Canada is of course Justin Trudeau.

He simply doesn’t care about Canada’s culture and identity, heritage and traditions. He sees himself as a citizen of the world.

That’s why he described Canada as the first post-national state, with no core identity. This fits with his support for globalism, and for the United Nations.

I’m not exaggerating when I accuse the Liberals of putting Canada on a road to destruction. Because if we allow Trudeau to implement his globalist vision, Canada will eventually cease to exist as a distinct nation.

We have to reverse this trend if we want to make sure that we, and our children, still have a country that is like the Canada we know, with its values and its unique identity intact, 25 years from now.

The downsides of mass immigration

Let me move on to other arguments.

The main argument that is presented in favour of immigration is the economic one. Immigrants bring their skills, their entrepreneurship, and their dreams. They fill manpower shortages, as our society ages and our workforce declines. This makes our society richer, younger and more dynamic.

This is certainly true, but only to some extent. It depends on the kind of immigrants we welcome.

Immigration is actually very costly for governments. There’s all the government programs to manage it of course. But a larger cost is the fact that immigrants pay on average about half as much in income taxes as other Canadians but absorb nearly the same value of government services.

A study from 2011 put the cost to taxpayers at roughly $6,000 per immigrant. For a total annual cost of somewhere between $16 billion and $24 billion.

$24 billion is a lot of money. Eight years later, and with a much higher level of immigration, the costs can only have gone up.

One reason for this is that immigrants generally have lower wages than non-immigrants.

But another key reason is that the proportion of immigrants who come to Canada because they have the right skills, based on their education, work experience and knowledge of an official language, is not very high. And it has been dropping under the Liberal government.

Right now, only about 55% of newcomers are selected through the economic program. The rest come through the family reunification program or are refugees.

But even that 55% does not tell the whole story. It consists of the principal applicants and their immediate family. If you remove the spouses and children, only 26% of all the people who come to Canada every year actually fulfill our economic needs.

If you are not grasping the significance of this, let’s look at it from the other side. It means that three quarters of all immigrants who come to Canada are dependents, do not have the right qualifications that we need, may not master any of our official languages, or are too young or too old to work.

These people do not contribute very much or at all to our economy. But they cost a lot in terms of social services.

Canadians are a compassionate people and we should be. But at what cost? Are Canadians happy to subsidize 74% of our current immigrants?

If the main objective of Canada’s immigration policy is to fulfill the economic needs of our country, it’s an obvious failure.

And it won’t be fixed by simply increasing the total number of immigrants. That will cost us even more.

Another justification we often hear for an increase in immigration levels is that we are an aging society, and we need immigrants to reverse this trend. 

However, demographic studies have shown that this is a myth. Newcomers are a bit younger on average than Canadians, but not enough to have a noticeable impact on the rate of aging.

The Liberal government is making matters worse by increasing the number of parents and grand-parents accepted under the family reunification program every year, from 5000 to 20,000.

This, of course, is an easy way for them to pander and buy votes among immigrant communities. But again, it defeats the purpose.

I can understand why immigrants would want to bring the rest of their extended family here, including older ones who will benefit from our health care system.

But we cannot be the welfare state of the planet. Canadians know that government funding is limited and we already fall short of caring for our own. We have long waiting lists for surgeries, and so many other problems to solve here first.

Another economic downside of mass immigration is that it inflates housing prices in our big cities. More than 41% of all immigrants to Canada settle in Toronto and Vancouver, which have some of the least affordable housing among big cities in the world.

There are other reasons for these sky-high prices of course, including zoning laws and monetary policy. But lower immigration would bring demand down and allow more Canadians in these cities to afford a house.

All these economic arguments in favour of reducing immigration levels are rarely discussed. It’s time to break the taboo and have a real debate.


Finally, there is the issue of refugees.

There are horrible cases of wars, persecution and human rights violations in the world. With the result that there are about 25 million refugees.

It’s absolutely tragic. I encourage Canadians to do what they can to help through private organizations. But at the level of government, my duty, my moral obligation, must be to first help those in need among our own population.

Justin Trudeau however sees himself as some kind of world minister already, managing a file in a world government. And so in 2018, Canada welcomed more resettled refugees than any other country. More than the United States, a country with ten times our population. And as many as all of the European Union.

In addition to this, we have had to deal with tens of thousands of asylum seekers illegally crossing our borders over the past three years.

Accepting all these refugees will cost Canadian taxpayers billions of dollars.

The UN’s Global Compact for Migration, which the Liberal government signed last year, aims to normalize this kind of situation, and to make it easier for millions of people to move to Canada and other Western democracies.

What is going on is exactly what you would expect. The Liberals haven’t lost control of our borders. They are deliberately attempting to erase it.


Given all these considerations and principles, here are the policies that the People’s Party of Canada proposes to implement if it forms the next government.

First: immigration levels.

Canadian society cannot successfully integrate 350,000 immigrants and refugees every year, as the Liberals, and probably also the Conservatives, are planning to do.

This is equivalent to adding one Nova Scotia to our population every three years, or one Manitoba every four years. And pack the majority of them in a few crowded cities.

Support for immigration will continue to diminish, and social tensions are likely to rise, if we continue doing this. We need to slow down.

A People’s Party government will substantially lower the total number of immigrants and refugees we accept every year, from 350,000 to between 100,000 and 150,000, depending on economic and other circumstances.

Second: Multiculturalism.

In a free society, immigrants have the right to cherish and maintain their cultural heritage. It should be clear that the People’s Party will never support any government measure to force them to abandon it. But that doesn’t mean we have any obligation to help them preserve it either, with government programs and taxpayers’ money.

When they decide to move from their country of origin to this one, immigrants must be willing to leave some of their life behind, and be prepared to become full members of their new country.

The vast majority of Canadians rightly expect them to learn about our history and culture, master one of our official languages, and adopt widely shared Canadian values.

Official multiculturalism is based on the false idea that there is no unified Canadian society, no distinct Canadian culture, to integrate into. That we are just a collection of tribes living side by side.

We are all Canadians. We must focus on what unites us as Canadians, not what divides us.

A People’s Party government will repeal the Multiculturalism Act and eliminate all funding to promote multiculturalism. We will instead emphasize the integration of immigrants into Canadian society.

Third: Focusing on economic immigrants.

If the main economic benefit that we derive from welcoming immigrants is that they answer the needs of sectors where there is a scarcity of manpower with specialized skills, then we should make sure we have a much higher proportion of skilled immigrants who can fulfil this need.

It’s irresponsible to have only 26% of all immigrants and refugees in this category. If we reduce the total number of immigrants, but double that proportion to 50%, there will be no reduction in the absolute number of economic immigrants compared with previous years.

A People’s Party government will reform the point system and the various programs to ensure that our immigration policy is focused on accepting a larger proportion of economic immigrants with the right skills.

We will accept fewer resettled refugees and will considerably limit the number of immigrants accepted under the family reunification program, including abolishing the program for parents and grand-parents.

And we will change the law to make birth tourism illegal. Canada is not a shopping centre, where any foreigner expecting a child can come and buy a citizenship or future education and employment opportunities for their children, without following the proper immigration channels.

Fourth: Selecting immigrants who share our values.

The safety and cohesion of our society depends on citizens accepting the basic Canadian values and societal norms I mentioned earlier.

A People’s Party government will ensure that every person hoping to immigrate to Canada undergoes a face-to-face interview and answers a series of specific questions to assess the extent to which they align with these values and societal norms.

We will increase resources for CSIS, the RCMP and Canadian Immigration and Citizenship to do these interviews and thorough background checks on all classes of immigrants. With fewer immigrants to process, there will be more resources available to achieve this.

Immigrants whose responses or background checks demonstrate that they do not share mainstream Canadian values will be rejected.

Finally, on the issue of refugees.

A People’s Party government will take every measure necessary, in partnership with our American neighbours, to stop the flow of illegal migrants at the border.

We will declare the whole border an official port of entry and send back to the US anyone trying to enter illegally.

Instead of making it easier to enter Canada and helping these illegal refugees, as the Liberal government has done, we will make it more difficult, by fencing off the areas where it takes place such as Roxham Road in Quebec.

For resettled refugees, in addition to accepting a smaller number, we will rely on private sponsorships instead of having the government pay for all the costs of resettling these refugees in Canada.

We will stop our reliance on the United Nations for refugee selection. And we will give priority to refugees belonging to persecuted groups who have nowhere to go in neighbouring countries.

For example, Christians, Yazidis, and members of other minority religions in majority Muslim countries. Members of the Ahmadi community, and other Muslims in these countries who are persecuted because they reject political Islam and adhere to Western values. And members of sexual minorities.

And finally, we will take Canada out of the UN’s Global Compact for Migration. Our immigration laws will be made in Canada, for the interest of Canadians.


This has been a long speech. So my conclusion will be brief.

The primary aim of Canada’s immigration policy should be to economically benefit Canadians and Canada as a whole.

It should not aim to forcibly change the cultural character and social fabric of Canada, as radical proponents of multiculturalism want. Canada has its own distinct identity, worth preserving, among the nations of the world.

It should not put excessive financial burdens on the shoulder of Canadians in the pursuit of humanitarian goals. Canadians are generous, but it is not our responsibility to solve all the world’s problems.

And it should not be used as a political tool to pander and buy votes among immigrant communities. This kind of ethnic politics practiced by all the other parties will lead to even more social division.

We are all Canadians. The People’s Party will unite Canadians with an immigration policy designed to benefit all of us.

Thank you.

Posted on 07/27/2019 3:41 AM by Geoffrey Clarfield
Friday, 26 July 2019
Colm Gillis: The West Owes “an Immense Debt to Islam”

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Dr. Colm Gillis

Boris Johnson’s recently-unearthed observation that Islam kept Muslims centuries behind the West prompted a series of letters to The Guardian taking issue with this, claiming instead that the West owed an “immense debt to Islam.”

The first and most indignant letter, representative of many, was from Dr. Colm Gillis, an “independent scholar” who appears to have no background in Islamic studies:

Johnson is painfully ignorant of the immense cultural, economic, and scientific contributions of Muslims (Islam kept Muslim world centuries behind the west, Johnson claimed, 16 July). Western civilisation owes an immense debt to Islam, whether in the form of algebra, the saving of ancient Greek heritage or the free-market economics of Ibn Khaldun.

Let’s start with “algebra,” which always heads the list of “Muslim” contributions to civilization. The word “algebra” comes from the Arabic “al-jabr.” From that we are expected to believe that “algebra” was first developed by Muslim Arabs. The word “sugar” also comes from the Arabic, (“sukkar”), but this does not mean that Muslim Arabs discovered sugar. Algebra was not invented by Arabs or Muslims, but in India, by Sanskrit mathematicians. Muslims then translated and commented on these Indian works. The  word “al-jabr” was first used in the treatise Book on Addition and Subtraction after the Method of the Indians, written by the 9th-century Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn M?s? al-Khw?rizm?. In the very title of his book we find acknowledgement of the Indian origins of algebra — “After the Method of the Indians.” But this information continues to be ignored by those who still insist on claiming that algebra was invented by Muslims.

Many of those who like to claim “algebra” for the Muslims also insist that “Arabic numerals” were invented by Muslim Arabs, but here, too, it is the Indian mathematicians who came up with these numerals. They were transmitted from India  to the West  by the Arabs — hence their misnomer “Arabic numerals.”

Often cited as examples of the inventiveness of Muslims are paper and gunpowder. But both were invented by the Chinese and then brought to the West by Muslims, who are often credited with inventing what they merely transmitted.

What about Muslims’ “saving of ancient Greek heritage”? That’s a fantastic claim. Muslim rulers, in Baghdad, Toledo, and Cordoba, commissioned the translation of certain Greek works — not the entire “ancient Greek heritage.” Works of rhetoric, poetry, histories, and dramas were not translated into Arabic, since they were viewed as serving political ends which were potentially dangerous in  the eyes of such rulers. Instead, philosophical and scientific works were almost the entire focus of translation into Arabic. The translations were done not  by Muslims, but by Arabic-speaking Christians (including Nestorian, Melkite, and Jacobite monks in Palestine and, later in Baghdad, and by Catholics in Cordoba and Toledo), and Jews in Cordoba,Toledo, and Baghdad. Al-Mansur, the 2nd Abbasid caliph, was the most important Muslim ruler to commission these translations. The most significant  works that were translated were those of Aristotle — but not even all of his corpus. The word “saving” implies that these Greek works from classical antiquity would otherwise have disappeared. But that misstates the case. Translation did not “save” that heritage, but made these Greek texts more accessible, for once they had been translated from Greek into Arabic (sometimes being put first into Syriac, and then from Syriac into Arabic), they were then made accessible to a large Arabic-speaking, but not necessarily Muslim, population. They could then be translated yet again, by these Christian and Jewish translators, from the Arabic into Latin, and these Latin texts would then be transmitted to the West. There was no “debt to Islam” for “saving ancient Greek heritage.” The debt was to those Christian and Jewish translators for first producing  Arabic translations of Greek philosophical and scientific works, and then to still other Christians and Jews who translated those Arabic texts into Latin, thus making them more accessible to scholars in the West.

As for the third claim, so casually tossed-off, about the “free-market economics of Ibn Khaldun,” there are a handful of articles online — by Muslims — that describe Ibn Khaldun as an economist who prefigured Adam Smith’s “free-market” economics. But there is nothing in ibn Khaldun about the “free market” or the Invisible Hand; he did point out the economic benefits of the “division of labor,” whereby an item is most efficiently and inexpensively manufactured when each worker concentrates on manufacturing only one part. Ibn Khaldun took this observation and applied it not only to what went on in rudimentary factories, but also among countries: hundreds of years before Ricardo, Ibn Khaldun noted that if one country had a comparative advantage in producing a particular good, it made sense for it to specialize in making that good and for other countries to buy it from them. Ibn Khaldun also made some remarks about how increasing taxes could lead in the end to less revenues for the government; some may see this as prefiguring supply-side economics and the Laffer curve. But he did not, unlike Adam Smith, provide a unified and coherent economic theory; his were disjointed observations. But most significant was that they had no effect in the West, were not part of any “debt to Islam,” because these economic observations found in his Muqaddimah remained unknown in the Western world and could not have influenced Adam Smith, David Ricardo, or any other classical economists of the 18th and 19th centuries. There is no “debt to Islam” in the West for Ibn Khaldun’s economic writings because they became known only long after Western economists had elaborated their own free-market theories. They made no use of, and therefore had no debt to, Ibn Khaldun.

Colm Gilllis continues his attempt to eviscerate Boris Johnson for daring to suggest, 12 years ago, that Islam is the cause of Muslim lands falling behind the West:

Johnson is correct that many Muslim-majority nations are beset by social and political problems. Yet the same holds true for numerous Christian-majority nations such as Russia, Honduras, Haiti and South Africa. He also makes a “false equivalence” argument in comparing stable western democracies to war-ravaged countries like Bosnia, seemingly blaming Muslims there for being attacked. Curiously, Muslim extremists promote the same arguments as Johnson, albeit for different aims. Neither depiction is true nor helpful.

Gillis is ignoring the fact that it is not “many” Muslim-majority nations are “beset by social and political problems,” but almost all Muslim-majority nations that have been, and are now, beset with such social and political problems. There are civil wars going on in Syria and Yemen, Islamic terrorists are active in Somalia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan, sectarian warfare is going on between Sunnis and Shi’a in Iraq and Yemen, the Wahhabis suppress Shia in Saudi Arabia, the Sunni ruler of Bahrain suppresses the Shia majority, in Libya a “national government” based in Tripoli is fighting a militia based in Benghazi, there is political intrigue, social unrest, and infighting in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia. In Egypt, the military regime remains engaged in suppressing the Muslim Brotherhood; in Tunisia, the secularists led by Caid Beji Essebsi are in conflict with the Islamists of Rachid Gannouchi and the Ennahda party; in Algeria, Berbers, having been suppressed for years, have been demanding that the ruling Arab junta recognize the Berber language and culture. In Nigeria, both the Muslim Hausa in Boko Haram and Muslim Fulani herdsmen continue to burn down churches, kill Christian villagers, kidnap Christian girls.

In Turkey, the Kemalists have been outmaneuvered and crushed by Erdogan, while the Turkish army continues the  war against Kurdish insurgents of the PKK that it has been waging since  1978. In Iran, the majority Shi’a continue to fight the Sunni Baluchi minority in the east.

Yet this author claims, in a bit of tu-quoque, that there are Christian-majority nations “such as Russia, Honduras, Haiti and South Africa” that also are “beset by social and political problems.” But this handful of Christian-majority countries — four in all — can hardly compare with the dozens of  Muslim countries where strife — sectarian, religious, ethnic — is the rule. Russia has no internal conflicts of peoples; there are people trying to undo, through electoral politics, the iron rule of Vladimir Putin, but there are no armed groups fighting each other. Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, but that’s the result of gangs fighting for territory and control of the drug trade and other criminal activities; it has nothing to do with the sectarian, ethnic, and religious strife found in Muslim lands. It’s the criminals versus the rest of society that is caught, literally and figuratively, in the crossfire. Haiti is still suffering from the effects of the 2010 earthquake, but also from a decades-old deforestation problem, overpopulation, a lack of sanitation, natural disasters (of which the 2010 earthquake was only the most dramatic example), and food insecurity. These problems, again, are not akin to what plagues Muslim lands, which are conflicts among its groups. Haitians are plagued by environmental problems, some of them unavoidable (as earthquakes), while others are the result of bad stewardship of the land (as deforestation), and still others the consequence of poverty (as a lack of sanitation) and of overpopulation, for Haiti is unable either to sustain, or to contain, its current population.

Another pathetic observation by the next British PM concerns the Ottoman empire. Johnson takes one oddity of the Turkish dawlah – the resistance to the printing press – and passes over achievements of the sultans such as religious tolerance and the architectural feats of Sinan. He claims this one act of backwardness negates the entire history of Islam, although resistance to technology is apparent even in British history, the luddites a classic case in point.

The failure to introduce the printing press for Muslim use in the Ottoman Empire until 1727 was not an isolated “oddity” at all, but reflected a more general mistrust among Muslims, especially clerics, of innovation, or bid’a. Another example of this reluctance to innovate, in another domain, was the continued use by Ottoman armies of stone cannonballs, long after those made of iron had been in use everywhere else. Muslim clerics reasoned that if new ways of doing things, or thinking about things, were to be permitted, this could conceivably lead some Believers to question aspects of the faith.

Dr. Gillis then complains that Boris Johnson passed over the “achievement of the sultans such as religious tolerance.” The treatment of Christians, mainly Greeks and Armenians, was not what we in the West think of as “religious tolerance.” In the 19th and 20th centuries, a myth arose of “Ottoman tolerance.” This was akin to, and even perhaps prompted by, the myth of a tolerant “convivencia” (coexistence) in Islamic Spain that was promoted by such writers as Washington Irving in The Alhambra, and by Chateaubriand in Les Aventures du dernier Abencérage; that view has been thoroughly demolished by the most recent scholarship, especially that by Dario Fernandez-Morera in his study The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise: Muslims, Christians, and Jews under Islamic Rule in Medieval Spain.

Another possible explanation for claims made for an Ottoman Empire more “tolerant” of non-Muslims than other Muslims is that when the Ottomans began slaughtering their Christian subjects in earnest, beginning in 1821 with the anti-Greek massacres in Constantinople, which then led to attacks on Greeks all over the Ottoman Empire, and then widened into the series of attacks throughout the 19th century on the three groups of Christians — Armenians, Greeks, and Assyrians — some in the West may have thought an appeal to the Ottoman authorities, making reference to some  “tolerance” in the past, might possibly shame the Ottomans of the late 19th century into behaving better. If that was the hope, it failed.

From the 15th,16th, and 17th centuries, the reports that Christian envoys to the Ottomans sent home painted a grim picture of the treatment of Christians in the Empire. Paul Rycaut was the most important of these historian-diplomats. As the British consul at  Smyrna in the 1660s, he wrote several of the most important studies of the Ottomans, including The Present State of the Ottoman Empire and The Present State of the Greek and Armenian Churches, Anno Christi 1678 Written at the Command of His Majesty. In his study of the Greek and Armenian Churches, he describes what the two Christian communities endured. They were allowed to live, and to practice their religion, but they could  do so only as dhimmis, subject to a host of onerous conditions, including payment of the Jizyah. And there were sometimes other financial burdens to bear, for when an Ottoman sultan felt he needed to raise more money, he could always squeeze the Christians. In 1568, for example, the Sultan confiscated all of the property owned by the Greek Orthodox Church throughout the empire. That meant not just every  Greek Orthodox church, but also every monastery, that were even more important, in educating monks, for the continuation of the Greek Orthodox community. Having taken away all that property, the Sultan then graciously allowed the Greeks to buy back their own property, of course at exorbitant prices.

The Ottomans were hardly  being “tolerant” when, beginning with Murad I in the 14th century, they instituted the infamous devshirme system, whereby Christian boys in the Balkans were seized, enslaved, and converted to Islam;  they were later employed either in the Janissary military corps or the Ottoman administrative system.

And then there were the massacres in the 19th century, of hundreds of thousands of Assyrians, hundreds of thousands of Armenians, and hundreds of thousands of Greeks, with more killed in the early 20th century; these massacres culminated in the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915.

As for the Greeks, ever since the Greek War for Independence in 1821, the Ottoman Muslims had been engaged in massacring Greek civilians, while beheading and hanging their senior clerics, in a dozen parts of the Empire.

The  Constantinople massacre of 1821 came first. The full horror of it deserves to be described:

The Sultan requested a fatwa allowing a general massacre against all Greeks living in the Empire[ from the Shaykh al-Isl?m, Haci Halil Efendi. The Shaykh obliged; however, the Patriarch managed to convince him that only a few Greeks were involved in the uprising, and the Shaykh recalled the fatwa. Haci Halil Efendi was later exiled and executed by the Sultan for this.

The Ecumenical Patriarch was forced by the Ottoman authorities to excommunicate the revolutionaries, which he did on Palm Sunday, April, 15 [O.S. April, 3] 1821. Although he was unrelated to the insurgents, the Ottoman authorities still considered him guilty of treason because he was unable, as representative of the Orthodox population of the Ottoman Empire, to prevent the uprising.

Although the Patriarch found himself forced to excommunicate the revolutionaries, he still failed to appease the Ottoman rulers. Later, on the same day as the excommunication, the Sultan ordered the execution of the Grand Dragoman, Konstantinos Mourouzis. He was arrested at the house of the Reis Effendi and beheaded, while his body was displayed in public. Moreover, his brother and various other leading members of the Phanariote families were also executed, although in fact only a few Phanariotes were connected with the revolutionaries.

Despite the efforts of the Orthodox Patriarch to profess his loyalty to the Sultan, the latter remained unconvinced. One week after the excommunication, on Easter Sunday, April, 22 1821, he was grabbed by Ottoman soldiers during the liturgy and hanged at the central gate of the Patriarchate.Thus, although he was completely uninvolved with the Revolution, his death was ordered as an act of revenge. On the day of the hanging of Gregory V, three bishops and a dozens of other Greeks, high officials in the Ottoman administration, were quickly executed in various parts of the Ottoman capital.  Among them were the metropolitan bishops, Dionysios of Ephesus, Athanasios of Nicomedia, Gregory of Derkoi, and Eugenios of Antilles.

Moreover, the execution of the Patriarch signaled a reign of terror against the Greeks living in Constantinople the following weeks, while fanatical Muslims were encouraged to attack Greek communities throughout the Ottoman Empire.Thus, groups of fanatical Turks, including janissaries, roamed the streets of the city, as well as the nearby villages. They looted Greek churches and property, initiating a large scale pogrom. Around 14 Christian Churches suffered heavy damage, while some of them were completely destroyed. The Patriarchal complex also became one of the targets. Eugenius II, the newly elected Patriarch, saved himself at the last moment, by escaping to the roof. During this period, the Ottoman authorities sought prominent Greeks from all over Constantinople: in government service, in the Orthodox Church, or members of prominent families and put them to death by hanging or beheading. In addition, several hundred Greek merchants in the city were also massacred.

By May 1821, restrictions on the local Greeks increased, while churches continued to be assaulted.On May 24, Patriarch Eugenius presented a memorandum to the Ottoman authorities, begging them to be merciful towards the Greek people and church, claiming that only a few Greeks revolted and not the entire nation. Eugenius also repeated the excommunication of Gregory toward the revolutionaries. Nevertheless, public executions of Greeks were still a daily occurrence in Constantinople. On June 15, five archbishops and three bishops were executed. Additionally, in early July, seventy shared the same fate. Additionally, 450 shopkeepers and traders were rounded up and sent to work in mines.

The same state of affairs also spread to other major cities of the Ottoman Empire with significant Greek populations. In Adrianople, on May 3, the former Patriarch, Cyril VI, nine priests and twenty merchants were hanged in front of the local Cathedral. Other Greeks of lower social status were executed, sent to exile or imprisoned.

In Smyrna, numerous Ottoman troops were staged, waiting orders to march against the rebels in Greece. TheyC entered the city and together with local Turks embarked on a general massacre against the Christian population of the city which amounted to hundreds of deaths. During another massacre in the predominantly Greek town of Ayvalik, the town was burned to the ground, for fear that the inhabitants might rebel and join the revolution in Greece. As a result of the Ayvalik massacres, hundreds of Greeks were killed and many of the survivors were sold as slaves.

Similar massacres against the Greek population during these months occurred also in the Aegean islands of Kos and Rhodes. Part of the Greek population in Cyprus was also massacred. Among the victims was the archbishop Kyprianos, as well as five other local bishops.

Other Ottoman massacres of Greeks occurred at Chios, on Crete, where tens of thousands of Greeks were killed in 1822.

Ottoman forces destroyed the entire  Greek population — approximately 7,000 people — on the island of  Psara in 1824.

During the Hamidian massacres (1896-1898), 800 Greeks at Candia, on Crete, were massacred, by irregular Muslim troops.

From 1914 to 1922, Greeks in Ottoman Turkey were subject to massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary execution, and the destruction of Eastern Orthodox cultural, historical, and religious monuments. According to various sources, several hundred thousand Ottoman Greeks died during this period. More about the genocide of Greeks at the hands of the  Ottomans  can be found here.

It wasn’t just Assyrians, Greeks, and Armenians who suffered from Muslim attacks. Bulgarians were also victims. In 1876, Ottoman irregular troops destroyed the Bulgarian community in Batak, with 7,000 killed. This led to Gladstone’s famous thundering against the savagery of the Turks in his essay “Bulgarian Horrors and the Question of the East.”

Armenians suffered from pogroms in a dozen Armenian cities during the “Hamidian massacres” of 1894-1896; 400,000 Armenians were killed in those years. In 1909, there was another attack on Armenians in Adana, with 20,000-30,000 killed during a series of pogroms in that province. Smaller attacks continued until, in 1915, the greatest massacres of the Armenians took place, with 1.5 million Armenians murdered. More on the genocide of Armenians can be found here.

Assyrians started to be massacred by irregular Muslim troops in 1843 and 1846 at Hakkari, where 10,000 were killed. A series of small-scale attacks during the last half of the 19th century kept Assyrians in a permanent state of fear, which turned out to be warranted, for far worse was what  happened to them in 1894-96, when not only Armenians, but 300,000 Assyrians were killed by Muslim troops. More details about the Assyrian genocide can be found here.

Has Colm Gillis read Paul Rycaut on the treatment of Christians in the Ottoman Empire  in the 17tn century? Is he aware that Christians were “tolerated” only because they were dhimmis, who had to fulfill a number of onerous conditions in order to be allowed both to stay alive and to practice their faith? Does he know what the Jizyah is, and how burdensome at was? Has he heard about the seizure of Greek property by a greedy sultan who then sold it back to its original owners? Has he heard of the devshirme system? What does he know about the many massacres and pogroms of Greeks, Assyrians, and Armenians by Ottoman Turks, from 1821 on? Questions for study and reflection.

Colm Gillis also mentions, in his excoriation of Boris Johnson, as “an achievement of the sultans,” the architectural feats of Mimar Sinan (“the great architect Sinan”). But those feats were not achievements of the sultans — they merely paid the bills. They belonged to Sinan himself, as his personal achievement. And Sinan, it might be noted, was born a Christian — whether Armenian or Greek is still disputed — and raised in a Christian milieu. He only became a Muslim when, at the age of 22, he was drafted into the Janissary Corps. Surely the fact that the leading mosque architect in the Ottoman Empire was born and raised a Christian is worth noting, even if it undermines Colm Gillis’s claim that Sinan’s buildings should be considered “an achievement of the [Muslim] sultans.”

Finally, in a fit of tu-quoque, Gillis offers, by way of a riposte to Boris Johnson’s observation that the Muslims did not make use the printing press until nearly 400 years after it had been introduced in the West, that the West had its “luddites,” too. But the Luddite movement as a force to be reckoned with lasted only from 1811 to 1816. it was not an expression of societal hostility to everything new, but only reflected the opposition of workers in a few industries, opposed to those machines that necessarily led to a loss of jobs, or to the use of lower-paid workers who would operate the machines. There was no general suspicion of innovation in England, as the cascading inventiveness of its industrial revolution amply demonstrates, nothing comparable to the unwillingness of the Ottomans, for many centuries, to make use of the printing-press.

Johnson’s authority for his ignorance is Winston Churchill. If Churchill said it, it must be true. However, Churchill was neither a historian nor a sociologist. He was a myth-maker whose literary skills were devoted to “demonstrating” the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race over all others. To achieve this sleight of hand, Churchill had to simultaneously denigrate other cultures, including Islam. It seems that Great Britain under Johnson will be beset by similar doses of myth, fantasy and supremacist doctrines.

Johnson was not mindlessly endorsing everything Churchill said. He was referring to Churchill’s by-now celebrated observations on Islam and Muslims that appeared in The River War. That particular quote was one of the most brilliant analyses of Islam, and its effect on its adherents,  that anyone has yet produced, and Johnson was right to allude to it.

But what is positively fantastic is the claim by Colm Gillis that Churchill was not “a historian.” Churchill was not an academic historian, he never had to pass a Ph.D. exam or labored over a doctoral dissertation that few would wish to reread. He was something far better than that. In his life, Churchill was an army officer, a journalist, a government official, a politician, and a historian. He studied history by constant reading. One of his most famous remarks was his advice to a young man: “Study history, study history. In history lies all the secrets of statecraft.” Till the end of his life he remained a student, as well as a writer, of history. He was always a keen observer of men and events. And for more than half a century he was a direct participant in the most important events in British, and even world, history.

No other historian has ever held so many, so various, and such important, positions in his own government, and engaged in so many occupations — journalist, writer, lecturer — outside of it. He reported on British imperialism as a military man and journalist, in Sudan, India, and South Africa. During World War I, he was again at the center of things, as First Lord of the Admiralty. In the 1920s, he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. In the 1930s, it was Churchill, though in the political wilderness, who alone warned the British elite, and through his journalism the  British public, that Germany was rapidly rearming, that Hitler was an unprecedented threat, that Europe would almost certainly be engulfed, because of relentless Nazi aggression, in a Second World War, and that Britain had itself to rearm to counter Hitlerism. As British Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945, he was at the very center of world events. In 1945, he then resumed his career as a historian, working on his mammoth History of the English-Speaking Peoples, until he returned again as Prime Minister from 1951 to 1955.

The distinguished historian Professor H. C. Allen of London University once suggested that when we consider the total bulk of Churchill’s  historical work, “judged as an historian alone, and setting aside all his other manifold and in some cases greater achievements, Sir Winston Churchill’s fame would be secure.”

He wrote many kinds of histories; about his own life, about his distinguished ancestors, about World War II. The Oxford historian A.L. Rowse thinks his masterpieces are his  4-volume Life of Lord Marlborough and his  4-volume History of the English-Speaking Peoples, a history of Britain and its former colonies and possessions throughout the world, covering the period from Caesar’s invasions of Britain (55 BC) to the beginning of the First World War (1914). It’s hard to imagine that one man could have written a work that seamlessly covers nearly 2000 years of history, and that has earned the respect of such distinguished historians as H. C. Allen, A. J. Rowse,  Andrew Roberts, and Martin Gilbert, among many others. Churchill was, in the writing of history as in so much else, a one-man multitude.

When Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953 “for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values,” he was only the second Nobel winner who was given the literature award primarily for his works of history; the first was Theodor Mommsen in 1902, for his History of Rome. No doubt those who awarded Churchill the Nobel for his historical works did so only after learning from eminent historians about Churchill’s achievements as an historian.

But perhaps we should instead listen to Colm Gillis. Why should the opinions of Professors A. J. Rowse, H. C, Allen, Andrew Roberts, Martin Gilbert and a hundred other historians of similar distinction, matter? And what do those unnamed historians who nominated Churchill for the Nobel Prize, or those who were later consulted by the Literature Prize committee as they made their choice, know about history? They’re all part of a credulous cult of Churchill-worship. Why should we care what they think? Colm Gillis knows better; he dismisses Churchill, who he claims was “neither a historian nor a sociologist,” but a mere spinner of “myth, fantasy and supremacist doctrines” who exalted the white, English-speaking peoples above all others. Gillis mocks the attitude he attributes to Boris Johnson that “If Churchill said it, it must be true.”

“Question authority!” is the ipse-dixit message of Colm Gillis. To whom many of us will want to reply: “Why should we?”

First published in Jihad Watch here, here and here.

Posted on 07/26/2019 4:23 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Friday, 26 July 2019
Will Japan Change its Image?

by Michael Curtis

In the middle of World War II, the intrepid Humphrey Bogart in the spy film, Across the Pacific, played a secret U.S. agent trailing Sydney Greenstreet, a British spy for Japan, who is determined to blow up the Panama Canal. Today, a less than secret agent is trailing and is at war with his Japanese partner on the golf course. Rather they are allies, both concerned with similar troubling problems of China and North Korea. There are reports that the Japanese leader has proposed his American ally for the Nobel Peace Prize because of his ongoing dialogue with North Korea. 

In May 2019 President Donald Trump visited Japan and played a round of golf with Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, and awarded the winner’s trophy to a professional Sumo wrestler, before beginning serious trade talks with Abe and celebrating their meeting with a meal of delicious salmon roe with grated and marinated sea cucumber guts. The telegenic and outspoken Abe favors a strong economy, Abeconomics with monetary policy, fiscal stimulus, deregulation, and low unemployment. For the U.S., and the Trump administration today, his significance is that he is a right wing nationalist who regularly visits the controversial Yasukuni Shrine. This is a Shinto shrine housing the souls of those involved in wars, 1867-1951. The problem is that it includes about 1,000 souls of those named to be war criminals by international military tribunals. More personally, Abe’s grandfather had been arrested, though later released, by U.S. troops on suspicion of being a war criminal.  

At the time of the meeting with Trump, Abe was preparing for the election on July 21, 2019 of Japan’s upper chamber which his party Liberal Democracy Party, LDP, and its coalition partner Komeito won.

Abe, now 64 years old, is on the way to become Japan’s longest serving prime minister. He had been prime minister 2006-7, the youngest one in Japan, had resigned after his party defeat in 2007, became head of the LDP and prime minister again in 2012. Abe’s coalition won control of the lower house in 2017, winning 313 of the 465 seats, and 67 per cent of the vote. In the vote on July 21, 2019 for the upper house, the coalition won 71 of the 124 contested seats, and now has 141 of the 245 total seats. The turnout was low, perhaps because of heavy rain on polling day. More important, this number of 141 is short of two-thirds of the total, the number needed in each chamber to revise the constitution, together with approval by majority of the people voting in a referendum. 

The Constitution of Japan was written when the country was occupied by Allied forces under the Supreme Command of General Douglas MacArthur after World War II to replace the military system and absolute monarchy. Much of the drafting was done by U.S. senior army under his command. The Constitution was promulgated on November 3, 1946, and came into effect on May 3, 1947. It set up a liberal democracy, a bicameral parliamentary system, both chambers directly elected, the House of Representatives and the upper House of Counselors. The PM and cabinet must be members of Parliament. The Emperor, who has studied at Harvard, has lost all power and is named as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the People, but his role is almost entirely ceremonial. The Constitution has not been amended since 1947. 

The Japanese constitution is distinctive from those in other countries by its advocacy of pacifism. The preamble proclaims that “We, the Japanese people… resolved that never again shall we be visited with the horrors of war through the action of government.” The most striking clause, Article 9, is unique. There are different versions of the source of this clause, but it is most likely that it was a member of the staff of the Supreme Commander for the allied powers, and perhaps General MacArthur himself. Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes. To accomplish this aim, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war material, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized. 

However, though it does not use the word, Japan does have armed forces, is allowed Jieitai, Self Defense Forces, SDF., air, maritime, and ground. Some critics have regarded this as unconstitutional, but the ruling party does not. Three factors are pertinent. One is that Japanese troops have taken part in international peace keeping arrangements, and in a non-combat mission in Iraq, 2004-6. A second is that the U.S. has been interested in getting more cooperation from Japan in maintaining its military security. The third factor is the impact of the Japanese Supreme Court case, Sunagawa, in 1959 that upheld the right of Japan to defend allies, in this case the U.S, which has hosted a large military presence in Japan, as part of its self-defense, and the maintenance of peace and security. 

Abe has insisted on the Japanese right to collective self-defense. In 2007 he set up a new defense ministry to “respond to a change in the security environment,” and make Japan more assertive on the world stage. When he took office in 2012, Abe pledged to revive the economy, and to bolster the security posture of the country. In July 2014 the government approved a policy that gave more power to JSDF, allowing it to defend allies if war was declared against them. The JSDF could provide material support for allies engaged in combat. The ban that kept the military from fighting abroad was ended, and forces could be more aligned with the militaries of other nations. In 2019 Abe proposed revision of Article 9, but he fell short of the necessary two-thirds majority in upper house needed to change the constitution. He needs to get the support of opposition members to win.

Is change in Article 9 like to come? If so, is it desirable for the U.S.? Japan is changing demographically. It has a declining population and an aging society, contrary to trends in some of the countries in the West. Turnout at elections is low ang young 20-30s. In the lower house, only 47 of 463 are women. Abe wants gender equality. 28 women were elected to the upper house on July 21, 2019, gaining 23 per cent of the total, though 16 of them came from outside Abe’s coalition parties. A record 28 per cent of candidates were women. By the 2018 gender law, political parties must try to get an equal number of male and female candidates, but no penalty as attached for non-compliance. It is no longer a question of poor butterfly.

Posted on 07/26/2019 4:09 AM by Michael Curtis
Thursday, 25 July 2019
MSM Talking Point: “Trump Not Exonerrated”

by Gary Fouse

There isn't much to add to what has already been said about Robert Mueller's catastrophic performance yesterday, but having followed the reportage of Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, there is a very important point to be made. While Fox News correctly observed that the idea of impeaching President Trump is now a joke, the talking heads at the other two cable news networks were running a by-line at the bottom of the TV screen - and stressing that - Mueller did not exonerate Trump.

Even before yesterday's horror show, Mueller had been criticized for stating that his (?) investigation and report had not "exonerated" Trump as to the question of obstruction. In fact, exoneration has no legal place in American jurisprudence. The principle is "innocent until proven guilty" not "guilty until exonerated." Indeed, it is highly improper for Mueller or any prosecutor to make such a statement. You either charge someone or you walk away and keep your mouth shut. The legal burden is not upon the President or any other American to be exonerated.

All of this was lost on CNN and MSNBC though even they had to confess that Mueller had laid an egg the size of which has not been seen since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Yet, the only talking points they had left were that Mueller - in his most animated moment - had stressed that he had not exonerated Trump, that Russian meddling was not a hoax, and that he had not conducted a witch hunt against the President. The countless times Mueller had refused to answer questions and the embarrassing points brought out by Republican representatives were lost beneath their radar.

Though Russian meddling in the 2016 election was real and not a hoax, I would argue that Trump's alleged connection to it was a hoax, one cleverly concocted by disgraced leaders at the FBI and others. That right there argues that the investigation into Trump and his campaign aides was a witch hunt and no charges were brought against the President after two years of investigation.

Shamefully, the mainstream media is clinging to those last talking points in the face of an embarrassing defeat. They are still trotting out Democrats who insist that an impeachment inquiry must be launched in Congress because, after all, Mueller did not "exonerate" Trump. Many others had their lives ruined over the course of this investigation.

Robert Mueller, notwithstanding his past accomplishments as a soldier and civil servant, has tarnished his final reputation. It is sad, but not as sad as the damage that has been brought upon our legal system. Equally sad is what this entire saga has done to the profession of journalism. I had heretofore thought that they couldn't sink any lower. It seems the ocean has no floor.

Posted on 07/25/2019 1:08 PM by Gary Fouse
Thursday, 25 July 2019
Extraordinary moment a Muslim tourist orders local Bali families off a public beach while 'brandishing a knife' - so his wife wouldn't see other 'partially-dressed' men

From Daily Mail Australia

Extraordinary footage has emerged of a Muslim tourist in an angry row with Balinese locals after he ordered them off a public beach so his wife wouldn't see 'partially-dressed' men.

The man told locals that they were not allowed to use the beach outside the luxury villa he had rented, while they insisted it was a public beach and they had a right to be on it.

The tourist reportedly flashed a knife at one point during the confrontation.

After the altercation the family were ordered to leave their accommodation in Temukus Village in the Buleleng Regency, directly north of Kuta, on Sunday night.

The resident, identified as Gede Arya Adnyana, said he was playing on the beach with his three-year-old toddler on Sunday night when he was approached by a young Arabic-speaking boy who asked why he was there. Arya told the boy the western side of the beach was too mossy. 

After a few minutes, his father came and started talking rudely, trying to send me away in English. Basically, he said that if I wanted to use this beach I have to ask for permission because he's rented the whole place, from the villa to the beach,' Arya told Indonesian news website Kumparan.

'I asked what the reason is? He replied, 'I and my children are Muslim and do not allow her (wife) to see other boys, especially you only wear boxers.'

The pair continued to clash before Arya eventually called his brother, a village official, who arrived with other residents to help try to resolve the matter. 

Arya claimed the tourist brandished a knife towards residents during the heated discussions and that police were later called.

Still unable to resolve the matter, the villa caretaker later asked the tourist to leave the premises. The tourist reportedly apologised and pleaded to be allowed to stay there, which was refused by the local residents.  'He and eight of his family left from there, we escorted to the border of Temukus Village. [We told them] to visit other places outside of Bali,' Arya said. He called on village officials to issue a regulation stating the beach is public where  everyone is welcome.

From what I can see in the video the local man is wearing more clothes than the tourist. 

Posted on 07/25/2019 11:10 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Thursday, 25 July 2019
Trump Derangement Syndrome and Presidential Egocentricity

He drives his critics insane.

by Conrad Black

Like many others, I have for some time been trying to understand Trump Derangement Syndrome, the phenomenon of otherwise reasonable people reacting irrationally to some peculiar quality of the president, a quality especially in evidence when he is in the presence of his supporters.

Some of it is easy enough to comprehend. Unlike any president since at least Jackson, he was elected by attacking the entire political class from right to left and practically all leaders of both parties and the parties themselves. He managed to stir up enough discontent to win the nomination of one of the parties and then got just enough votes in the right places to win the election. Since he had opposed everyone in both parties, they all opposed him, and the Republicans, almost as much as the Democrats, wanted to get rid of him. If there had been any truth at all to the gigantic fatuity about Trump-campaign collusion with Russia, there would have been bipartisan enthusiasm and relief in throwing him out of the White House like a large dead mouse.

He was not only the first president who had never sought or held a public office, elected or unelected, or a military position. He also had no knowledge of the official procedures and attitudes in the upper approaches to the presidency. And as he had changed parties seven times in 13 years looking for his chance to try the novel theory of turning celebrity, and often rather crass celebrity, into electability, and had countered media skepticism with social-media direct contact with the people, supplemented by support on the talk-radio circuit, which generally enlists the attention of a lower-middle- and working-class demographic, he had no cadre of political loyalists to assist him. He thus had no bedrock of support in either party or any part of government, and was not treated to the traditional “honeymoon” period with Congress. He was like a threatening alien to the powers that have always been, and they reacted with almost uniform hostility. They generally hoped that he had colluded illegally with the Russians, so they could be quickly rid of him. The proportions of that gigantic fiasco have been appreciated by the president and his supporters, but the effect of it on his enemies has been the bitter embarrassment of the defeated and unconvinced.

Richard Nixon was probably cheated out of the 1960 election; at the least, we don’t know who really won, as with the 2000 Gore–Bush election. But he liked and respected John F. Kennedy, and he had come up through and respected the rough-and-tumble political system. He declined a formal contest of the election, even though President Eisenhower urged him to do it and promised Nixon that Ike’s wealthy friend would pay for it. Richard Nixon declined to put the country through such a wrenching ordeal (as he did over impeachment 14 years later, though there remains no probative evidence that he committed crimes, despite the self-serving claptrap of imperishable Nixonocides who inflict themselves on us on television with depressing frequency). Nixon respected the system. There has been almost no such acceptance of the Trump victory by Democrats. Republicans have generally noticed the side their political bread is buttered on, and many prominent Never Trumpers, such as former Speaker Paul Ryan and Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, have retired. But for most partisan Democrats, he remains a horrible, unimaginable usurper.

Cory Booker, struggling to get to 1 percent in the polls, began his campaign by telling Iowans that fighting climate change was like the D-Day landings to liberate western Europe, and has moved on to the assertion that Trump is worse than George Wallace. Wallace, some of us remember, said “segregation today, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!” The comparison is unutterably stupid and dishonest, but indicative of where the four congresswomen are pushing their party. All of these elements produce a partial derangement about Trump in the minds of many.

It must be added that there is a last ingredient: His refusal to make it difficult for his detractors. No serious person can still claim that Trump is a fool, given what he has achieved, before he was president and in that office. But he invites questions about his egocentricity. On Monday, while sitting in the Oval Office with the Pakistani prime minister, Imre Khan, he was asked if he supported the beleaguered governor of Puerto Rico. He replied: “No. I know Puerto Rico. I did a great job for Puerto Rico — great place. I know it better than anyone,” or something very close to that. It wasn’t what the journalist asked; it wasn’t strictly accurate. And it was the response of a caricature of the 1950s Ugly American, a boorish braggart. The people who elect a president have the right to expect him to be gentlemanly on normal occasions, and with almost no exceptions in living memory they have had that, at least in public. This president is often gratuitously uncouth in public, and almost unrecognizable to those who know him as a congenial, courteous, and charming man and a fine raconteur. These traits are less frequently in evidence than in earlier days.

Like all of us, the president gets better at his job the longer he holds it. But this would be an easy problem to correct, and that would leave the intense disparagement of Trump exclusively to the extremists and the decayed servitors he has served the country admirably by driving from office.

First published in National Review

Posted on 07/25/2019 4:20 AM by Conrad Black
Wednesday, 24 July 2019
'Dangerous' Sheffield man jailed over foiled terror plot

From local Yorkshire newspaper The Star 

It took a jury over 15 hours of deliberation to find Farhad Salah guilty of preparing to commit acts of terrorism, following a five week trial at Sheffield Crown Court.

During this morning’s hearing, Judge Paul Watson QC jailed Salah for 15 years, with an extended license period of three additional years, due to the ‘significant risk of serious harm’ the 24-year-old is deemed to pose to the public.

Farhad Salah, aged 23, of Brunswick Road, Burngreave, Sheffield, was found guilty of preparing to commit an act of terrorism after a trial at Sheffield Crown Court earlier this month and was sentenced this morning. He must also serve an extended license period of a three further years due to the danger he is deemed to pose to the public.

As a result, Salah must serve at least two thirds of his sentence, instead of one half behind bars. The maximum sentence for preparing an act of terrorism is life imprisonment.

Judge Watson told the court that the picture of Salah police had been able piece together after seizing his mobile phone during raids at his home at the Fatima Community Centre, Burngreave in December 2017 was of someone ‘who had become wedded to extremist ideology and was preparing to take action of give effect to those views’.

“By the verdict of the jury, that action was to be something which involved killing people, seriously injuring people or, at the very least, causing very serious damage to property. Given that your chosen method was to achieve your aims by the use of explosives, the risk of causing death or serious injury, is obvious,” 

Judge Watson said that while Salah’s preparations to carry out an act of terrorism, the specific target of which has never been discovered, were still in their ‘infancy’ when police arrested him ‘there can be no doubt’ what his intentions were.

He said: “You were in contact with other extremists, you were viewing material on social media which depicted utterly depraved and sickening imagery, said to be carried out in the name of the extremist cause which you had espoused….your attitude to extreme violence and loss of life, sometimes in unimaginably horrifying circumstances, indicates clearly to me that you, had you carried your preparations through to conclusion, would have had no hesitation in causing loss of life of the infliction of terrible suffering.”

The court was told how Salah, who worked as a barber in Stocksbridge, would most likely be deported at the conclusion of his sentence.

During the course of the trial, the Crown said Salah wanted ‘to do something meaningful to prove his allegiance to IS (Islamic State)’. In a message Salah sent to an online contact, he revealed his plan to carry out a terrorist plot using a driverless car. "My only attempt is to find a way to carry out martyrdom operation with cars without driver everything is perfect only the programme is left," he said.

Officers also recovered ‘deeply concerning messages which revealed an affiliation with Daesh and a belief in violent Jihad’.

Jurors failed to reach a verdict in the case of Salah’s co-accused, Andy Star, 32, of Sheffield Road, Chesterfield, who was accused of the same offence. They were the second jury to try the pair, and Judge Watson confirmed a third trial would not be sought in Mr Star’s case and recorded a not guilty verdict.

Samuel Green QC, defending, said Salah still does not accept that he is guilty.

Posted on 07/24/2019 7:34 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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