Statue of Cecil Rhodes on the facade of Oriel College, Oxford
How do we, and how should we, judge people? Should we judge them by our values today or by the context of their time? This question, always difficult to answer, has become ever more compelling with the extent and intensity of BLM protests and demonstrations against oppression, colonialism, abuse of power, slavery, and police brutality. In the United States where statues of Confederate leaders have been removed, the question has been raised of the removal of Washington and Jefferson, two slave owners. The issue has become more complicated as it has moved past one of black slavery in the U.S. to one of systemic racism of all kinds. In Britain, though Winston Churchill was not a slave owner, some seek to topple him from his iconic position as the hero of the West and superb leader, suggesting he was a racist.
Britain for some years has witnessed dispute over toppling of a well-known figure, specifically the statue of Cecil Rhodes on the facade of Oriel College, Oxford. As a colonialist, he promoted Anglo-Saxon rule in the British empire in Africa. Rhodes was the co-founder of De Beers which exploited black miners, and the prime minister of Cape Colony in 1890-96 where his policies paved the way to the development of apartheid regimes in what is now Zambia and Zimbabwe. Rhodes, also a philanthropist, had donated a large sum of money to Oriel College which established the Rhodes Scholarships at Oxford.
As a result of student protests against honoring a colonialist, Oriel voted in favor of removing the statue of Rhodes. But alumni and others argued that if the College did so it would lose financial contributions. The College is now unsure about its decision that Rhodes will fall, and in July 2020 it set up an independent commission of inquiry, headed by Carole Souter, master of St Cross college, to examine all the issues involved.
Rhodes has not and may not fall, but Winston Churchill in Parliament Square in London almost did. The most recent controversy over the issue of colonialism has arisen as a result of a BBC program on July 21, 2020 discussing the criticisms by present-day Indians of Winston Churchill, and the charges that he, while prime minister, did not help Bengal during the Bengal Famine of 1943-44 and thus was responsible for the deaths of three million people. Churchill can’t be blamed for creating the famine, but critics hold he can be faulted for not alleviating the situation when he was able to do so. Indians however are questioning a dark chapter of British colonial history, the case of Bengal, now Bangladesh and East India. Paradoxically, the charges have arisen at the same time as the decision to feature Churchill on the new polymer £5 pound bank note (and Jane Austen on the 10 pound note).
In his long career Churchill confronted criticism on many issues: the attack on Gallipoli in World War I; the bombing of German cities in World War II; his unwillingness to condemn Italy which attacked Abyssinia in October 1935, a country which he held was not a worthy and equal member of the League of Nations; he condoned the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. No doubt his policy regarding Bengal is questionable, But the charge, implicit or overt, of racism about that policy is of a different nature and is particularly disturbing. It is even more troublesome at a moment when some officials want the “Churchill Room,” in the Treasury to be renamed. This action would erase the historic moment when Churchill on VE Day used the balcony in the room to address the thousands in the street.
Bengal had suffered a cyclone and flooding in 1942, affecting crops and infrastructure. The varying reactions about the cause of the Famine involve a variety of factors: Indian nationalism, British imperialism, colonialism, humanitarianism, and the demands for resources for the UK to fight against Nazi Germany. That complexity has consequently led to different views are voiced over the starting problem, what was the primary cause of the Bengal famine that caused the death of three million people, and the consequent starvation, malaria, malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, lack of health care. A study in 2019 by the journal Geographical Research Letters reported that the famine was not caused by a drought but by the failure of Winston Churchill’s policies. The study held that the Bengal famine was the only famine over a 46-year period that did not appear to be linked directly to soil moisture and crop failures.
There were differences of opinion within the British government and British authorities in India about the course of action to be taken in response to the famine in Bengal which remained under British rule until 1947. Officials in India wanted shipments of 80,000 tons of wheat to go to Bengal. Secretary of State for India, Leopold Amery, himself born in India, at first argued that India was overpopulated and that it was best to avoid action on Bengal, but then changed his mind, and urged action on Churchill.
Another actor was Field Marshal Wavell, appointed Viceroy of India in October 1943, who urged prompt food relief to Bengal and ordered the army to distribute supples. Churchill in a letter to Wavell, wrote that every effort must be made, even by the diversion of shipping urgently needed for war purposes, to deal with local shortages, but he also said that every effort should be made by Wavell to “assuage the strife between the Hindus and Moslems to induce them to work together for the common good.”
At the core of the problem for Churchill and crucial in waging World War II was the shortage of shipping and the priorities over its use. Realizing the seriousness of the Bengal famine, Churchill wrote to President F.D.Roosevelt for help, wanting transport for the 350,000 tons of wheat that Churchill had arranged to be shipped from Australia to India. On April 29, 1944 he asked F.D.R. for a special allocation of ships to carry this wheat to India since Britain lacked the ships. The American reply on June 1, 1944 was negative. Roosevelt responded that while he had the utmost sympathy for the difficulties of Churchill, the U.S. Joint Chiefs military had told him they were unable on military grounds to consent to the diversion of shipping.
Any judgment of Churchill’s policy must take account of a number of relevant factors, showing the conflicting demands and priorities in Britain in World War II. Burma had fallen in March 1942 to Japan which had three results: it cut off India as Japanese ships sank an estimated 100,000 tons of Allied shipping in the Bay of Bengal; it drove hundreds of thousands of Burmese refugees into India; it cut off the flow of Burmese rice to India.
Some Indian grain had been sent to Ceylon. However, Churchill realized that relief to Bengal of wheat from Canada, which had offered to help, would take at least two months to reach India, whereas it could come from Australia in 3-4 weeks.
Above all there was the shipping problem, and ensuring supplies for vital operations. Frederick Lindemann, Lord Cherwell, the Anglo-German scientist, a close companion of Churchill, recommended that 60% of the merchant shipping operating in the Indian Ocean should be sent to the Atlantic to increase food supplies to Britain. He argued against sending any relief to Bengal.
The Battle of the Atlantic, when the Allied navies were confronted by Nazi U boats and warships was taking place from 1939 to the end of the war and peaked in 1943. The UK needed more than a million tons of imported material every week to survive. The Allies lost 3,500 merchant ships and 15 warships to German attacks. Churchill himself commented, “The only thing that really frightened me during the war was the U boat peril.”
Further resources and supplies of food were needed for the 8th Army which led by General Montgomery had invaded Italy in September 1943, and for Italian civilians.
But there are three fundamental points: the first is that Churchill was not responsible for the Bengal Famine; the second is that it is too extreme to characterize him as a racist; the third is that his views are typical of those of the majority of Britons of his time, age, and class, interested in bringing change to the less developed countries of the world.
Churchill’s policy did not cause the Bengal Famine. His policy mistakes were not akin to the actions of Stalin in causing the famine in the Ukraine or Mao’s starvation of the Chinese people during the Great Leap Forward.
The evidence indicates he did not send aid to Bengal as quickly or as fully as desirable to save lives, and criticism of his lack of action is legitimate and desirable, but it is understandable in the context of the multiple problems of the war. It is also undeniable that when angry he made unworthy remarks about Indians. Churchill later regretted his intemperate words, uttered when troubled by two Indians: Gandhi with his civil disobedience campaign, hunger strike, Quit India movement, and call for “free India or die in the attempt; and Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian national army, Free India Legion, formed to aid Germany in any Nazi land invasion of India.
There is no doubt that Churchill influenced by eugenics made comments unacceptable today that races are unequal. Giving one example, he said “I do not admit that a wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia by the fact that the stronger race, a higher grade race, a more worldly race has come in and taken their place.” The argument is based on the civilizing role and the development that, as both Churchill and Karl Marx argued, that Britain had brought to India. It is not to prioritize white lives over South Asian lives.
The dispute over Churchill’s action will continue. One useful reminder is his message in February 1944 to Viceroy Wavell, “I will certainly help you all I can, but you must not ask the impossible.”
Bassam Eid is a Palestinian journalist and human rights activist who must publish in Israel and the West, for he exhibits a most unusual characteristic for Palestinian journalists: he tells the truth.
Here is his discussion of Palestinian Airlines, its rise, fall, and continued, phantasmagorical and expensive existence, with no planes but 140 employees.
Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid noticed something strange during his research into the spending of the Palestinian Authority.
I was not aware that there was a Palestinian Airlines either, but then again, I was also not aware there was a a palestinian space agency. Both sound as valid as the palestinian museum.[the Palestinian Space Agency and the Palestinian Museum will be discussed in later posts]
But believe it or not, there is a Palestinian Airlines – and I am not referring to Mahmoud Abbas’ $50 million private jet.The airline can trace its roots back to the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which was signed by both Israel and Palestine in Oslo, Norway in 1995. Under the simply named Oslo II Accord, a joint agreement with the two countries would see the nations of Japan, Morocco, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Germany agree to fund the construction of what would become the Gaza Strip’s main airport.
The airport would come equipped with a terminal capable of handling 700,000 passengers per year, a 10,000-foot runway, a control tower and navigational equipment. Plans called for the airport to be built in the southern end of the Gaza Strip, with the airport’s southern arrivals and departures flying directly into Egypt and avoiding Israeli airspace altogether.
The terminal was supposed to handle 700,000 passengers per year. For the past six years it has handled somewhat less: zero passengers per year.
Once a commercial airport was established, the Palestinian Authority moved forward with a plan to establish a flag carrier for the embattled country. The airline was officially announced in 1995 with financial backing coming from the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia, who donated two Fokker 50s and a Boeing 727 to help start operations.
Nothing spells success for the Palestinian Authority as relying on foreign handouts for everything it tries to do. It is a perennial leach. The entire fleet consisted of donated planes – two Fokker-50s and a Boeing 727.
The newly-formed Palestinian Airlines would also join the Arab Air Carriers Organization, with its introduction to the alliance coming in 1999. While the airline officially started operations in 1997, limits were quickly established on where it could fly. The Yasser Arafat International Airport was still under construction in Gaza, leaving the airline to commence service in the Egyptian towns of Port Said and Arish to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and Amman, Jordan.
Once the airline’s home in the Gaza Strip was completed, all operations were transferred to the new airport. Palestinian Airlines quickly expanded to include service to additional countries including Turkey, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. The airline would also come to take hold of an Ilyushin Il-62 to help with their expansion plans.
The Ilyushin II-62 was also a gift, reportedly paid for by Gulf Arabs.
While the airline was expanding, it was not completely free of Israeli restrictions. Under the Oslo II Accord, Israel had the right to restrict the airport’s schedule, which frequently saw the airport shuttered during the nighttime hours. The airport’s security was also administered by the Israeli government due to fears that the Palestinians would lapse on security due to the economic instability of Gaza.
Unfortunately, the Oslo II Accord soured over time and increased tensions between the Israelis and Palestinians led to the breakout of the Second Intifada in the early 2000s. Palestinian Airlines was forced to suspend operations while Israel and Palestine escalated their conflict.
Fearing that the Palestinians would use Yasser Arafat Airport for weapons smuggling into the Gaza Strip, Israel made the airport a primary target, destroying both the radar and control towers in 2001 before carving up the runway using bulldozers in 2002. In addition to its smuggling fears, Israel also claimed that the dismantling was in response to a Palestinian raid that killed four Israeli soldiers.
With no home airport inside Palestine, the flag carrier fled back across the border and restarted operations at El Arish International Airport in Egypt. However, getting Palestinians to Arish was a struggle, as Egyptian security could take up to a day processing those traveling into and out of the country. To attempt to ease the issue, the airline still manned the ticket counters at Yasser Arafat Airport, hoping to sell tickets to passengers inside Gaza and simplify their flying experience.
With this restriction, and the flag carrier operating 30 miles from its home opposite a major international border, the consumer base for Palestinian Airlines slowly dried up. The airline removed the Boeing 727 and Ilyushin Il-62 from its fleet before suspending operations outright in 2005. The Palestinian Authority would hold on to the two Fokker 50s and lease them to other airlines while they waited for a chance to restart operations.
Nota bene: Palestinian Airways suspended operations for the first time in 2005, and only opened again in 2012, seven years later. But the entire staff remained on the payroll. .
That chance [to re-open] would finally come in 2012, when the airline announced it would restart service using its Fokker 50s and a route map that would, yet again, be based in Arish, Egypt with flights to Cairo, Amman and Jeddah. But much like their previous experience at Arish, Palestine was at too much of a disadvantage to make use of their airline.
The airline would last less than two years before re-suspending operations. The Palestinian Authority returned to leasing their Fokker 50s, with Niger Airlines currently being the home for the two aircraft. Despite having no current operations, the airline is still an active member in the ICAO, IATA and Arab Air Carriers Organization.
From 2012 to 2014, the airline sputtered along with exactly two small planes, each with only 56 seats,using the airport in El Arish, Egypt, before shutting down its service for good. It now leases those Fokker-50s to Niger Airlines. Palestinian Airlines has been without any planes for the past six years.
While Palestine hopes to have the airline flying again, the prospect of coming home to Gaza grows bleaker and bleaker. The airport sustained more damage in recent years, with the terminal and ramps areas taking heavy bombings by Israeli forces in 2014. Given that the Egyptian rehabilitation attempts have proven too costly for the airline, Palestinian Airlines is currently a flag carrier with no home, no service and no clear future.
With 140 employees. Seems legit.
What is the reason for continuing to pay 140 employees, year after year, when there are no planes, no working airport, no passengers, and thus nothing for them to do? But that is precisely one of the secrets of the PA’s success. It is able to provide employment, but without any actual work to do, in return for the undying loyalty of those so favored. These no-show non-jobs are carefully distributed to relatives and friends of the PA’s leaders. That way their loyalty to those leaders is assured, and those leaders are in turn loyal to the Man At the Top, Mahmoud Abbas, who gave them the positions that allowed them to hire their family and friends. Those 140 non-working employees do have the tedious task of depositing their paychecks in their bank accounts a dozen times a year, but with direct deposit they may be spared even that effort. They have nothing else to do.
Palestinian Airlines would be in operation today, if Hamas hadn’t decided to make war on Israeli civilians. It was during the Second Intifada, during the early 2000s, that Israel, fearing weapons smuggling by the Palestinians into Gaza, made the airport a primary target, destroying both the radar and control towers in 2001, and then using bulldozers to dig up the runway in 2002.
The PA doesn’t appear terribly concerned that there is no longer a Palestinian Airlines. Mahmoud Abbas has his $50 million private jet, his $13 million palace in Ramallah, and his $400 million fortune in foreign real estate and foreign bank accounts under his grandsons’ names. That’s what matters to him. His cronies – Saeb Erekat, Hanan Ashrawi, Mohammed Shtayyeh, and another few dozen – are all set for life. And the 140 employees of the Palestinian Airlines who continue to collect their salaries as part of the family-and-friends plan that the corrupt and nepotistic PA has put in place, are doing just fine. The ordinary Palestinians, of course, are another thing. But who – aside from the Israelis, who have persuaded the Emir of Qatar to continue his donations to Gaza, and who offer free medical care to Palestinian children needing advanced treatment — cares about them?
Here is my very own “rosy-fingered dawn,” ever radiant in her pink and orange robes, as she escorts the great and burning sun. How I once loved Homer, the Greek playwrights, philosophers, and myths—which I read as if they were fairytales that held eternal psychological significance.
Nature is a great consolation for those who have food and all the amenities. How far from the “madding crowd” I am—and yet our cities are burning, the economy is dying, the Wuhan Virus continues its medieval rampage, and the parents of young children are at a loss. Will schools open, will they be safe? Will people have to fight each other in the streets for food and water? How many elderly people might die of the heat this summer? When will the time be ripe for beating our swords into plough-shares?
Oh, magnificent and consoling Nature: Soften the blow of these questions, at least for one more day.
William Lyon Mackenzie King was much underestimated in his lifetime and has been largely forgotten in his posterity, but he was a great prime minister
by Conrad Black
William Lyon Mackenzie King campaigns in 1926.
TVO’s Steve Paikin and I may be an absolute quorum of people who took note of the 70th anniversary on Wednesday of the death of Canada’s longest-serving prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. He was much underestimated in his lifetime and has been largely forgotten in his posterity, but after a great deal of research for books I have written about Canadian history, I believe that he was a great prime minister. He was not heroic, and in fact was an anti-hero, which made his political success even more astonishing: he led the Liberal party in seven federal elections, won five, lost one and drew one. He was prime minister for the first sovereign agreement Canada made, about halibut fisheries with the United States in 1923, and was still there when Canada was a co-founding member of the United Nations and the Western alliance almost a generation later.
He was a bachelor, an obscurantist and he believed that he communicated with the dead, including people he never knew, such as British statesman William Ewart Gladstone. He so venerated his mother and father that it verged on ancestor worship. He attributed supernatural significance to mundane events such as his own bowel movements, and believed that his Irish terrier Pat was a divine spiritual messenger in his life. He was indecisive, uninspiring, was defeated four times as a parliamentary candidate and was not particularly popular with his cabinet, which he constantly renewed over more than 25 years. All of this makes him appear a placeman, and even, in Cromwellian terms, a “decayed servitor.”
When he died, the social reformer and McGill law school dean Frank Scott wrote his best poem: “How shall we speak of Canada, Mackenzie King dead? The mother’s boy in the lonely room with his dog, his medium, and his ruins? We had no shape because he never took sides and no sides because he never allowed them to take shape. He never let his on the one hand know what his on the other hand was doing. The height of his ambition was to pile a parliamentary committee on a royal commission, to have ‘conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription,’ to let Parliament decide, later. Truly he will be remembered wherever men honour ingenuity, ambiguity, inactivity and political longevity. Let us raise up a temple to the cult of mediocrity, do nothing by halves which can be done by quarters.” There was some truth in this, but it was far from the whole story.
Canada was a terribly ambiguous country politically, as it still to some extent remains. As King and all great Canadian statesmen starting with Guy Carleton have recognized, the key to Canada’s success is to ensure a double majority, the English and the French in support of any decisive initiatives; if the English majority merely imposed its will upon the French, separation by Quebec would just be a matter of time. From the Seven Years War to the First World War Canada had to winkle its sovereignty out of the British without so irritating Great Britain that it handed Canada to the United States in exchange for other considerations. And since it was assembled as an autonomous jurisdiction in 1867, Canada has had the considerable challenge of keeping pace with the completely unprecedented growth of the United States, which after the conclusion of its Civil War was an unbound Prometheus before an unlimited horizon. It nearly tripled its population in the next 50 years, and Canada has kept up with it ever since then. Canada has never had the panache or confidence of the United States, but has not had the violence or garishness of it either.
The most recent published reflection on King, “Mackenzie King in the Age of the Dictators,” by former Liberal federal politician and External Affairs official Roy MacLaren, confirms the traditional view summarized in senior civil servant and diplomat Norman Robertson’s alleged comment when King died: “I never saw a bit of greatness in him.” Civil servants rarely do; Robertson was what distinguished (half-Canadian) U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson called a “Canadian arm-flapping moralist.” And MacLaren is a sloppy researcher and a rather pretentious and misanthropic careerist and courtier who didn’t evince much greatness himself and is not a plausible source for such Solomonic reflections. King was impressed by Mussolini and by Hitler when he met them, but they could be impressive. Even Winston Churchill included Hitler somewhat hopefully in his 1935 book “Great Contemporaries.” King came well after Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in recognizing the evil of Hitler, but he did recognize it abruptly on Jan. 19, 1939, and announced that if war came Canada would stand with Great Britain. King broke ranks presciently with the Anglo-French appeasers.
He then arranged with his chief Quebec colleagues, Ernest Lapointe, Arthur Cardin and C.G. Power, to intervene in the Quebec election of October 1939 and trade a guarantee of no conscription in exchange for Quebec’s pledge to support the war effort; and inflicted on Maurice Duplessis the only serious defeat he sustained in 28 years and seven elections as a party leader. King arranged a huge landslide for himself in a general election only two weeks before the Second World War began in earnest in April 1940. All had been arranged for Canada to have the extremely successful and brave war that it did, emerging with the world’s third-largest navy and fourth-largest air force. For a year he knew Churchill and Roosevelt much better than they knew each other, and King deserves considerable credit for helping to interpret each to the other. He directly contributed to the contents of one of Churchill’s most famous Demosthenean orations in the famous passage ending “until in God’s good time the new world comes to the rescue and the liberation of the old.” He was the ultimate architect of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which trained up 125,000 allied aviators and aircrew.
And in his way, King fired the opening gun in the Cold War, travelling personally to Washington and London to advise President Harry Truman and Prime Minister Clement Attlee of the full gravity of the Gouzenko affair in which a clerk in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa defected and revealed the extent of Soviet espionage activities in the West. When King retired voluntarily in 1948, Canada was a distinguished victorious ally in the triumph over Nazism and in the containment of the Soviet Union and, as it remains, one of the 10 or so most important countries in the world.
In the 92 years from 1856 to 1948, John A. Macdonald, Wilfrid Laurier and King were the co-leaders of the so-called United Province of Canada (Quebec and Ontario), or prime minister of the Dominion of Canada, for 65 years, and leader of the opposition for the other 27. It was a record of continuity and achievement of three serial leaders with no parallel in the history of the democratic world. They founded and built the country. During the Second World War, when Canadians wished inspiration they listened to Churchill and Roosevelt, not to King, and because he wished Canadians to see him as a person who had some influence with his illustrious allies, he was much more compliant to their wishes than Charles de Gaulle or even the prime ministers of Australia. But though he could not rival them even in the esteem of his own countrymen, nor was he overpowered by them.
King’s apparent diffidence was a mask that enabled him to endure with agility and direct the government of the country with prudence. The country didn’t tire of him because he didn’t distract them very much and always confounded the nine Conservative leaders he faced (counting Arthur Meighen twice). When Roosevelt died and Churchill was defeated by Attlee and Charles de Gaulle resigned to wait for the Fourth Republic to flounder to an end, King wrote in his diary: “Stalin is the only allied leader who has served longer than I, and of course I have led my party longer than he has his.” He deserves to be remembered, and with some respect.
The U.S., Russia, Greece, the E.U., the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew, the Patriarch of Moscow and all Rus’ Kirill, even the left-leaning Israel-demeaning World Council of Churches and many others, have expressed various degrees of “grief and dismay” at the announcement by Turkish President Erdogan that from now on, Hagia Sophia would no longer be a museum, as the secular statesman Ataturk had made it in 1935, but would “revert” to its status as a mosque. One voice, that of Pope Francis, was not in the immediate chorus, but then as one after another of political leaders and religious groups criticized the move, the Pope at last added his voice, saying – with a pained expression on his face — that the Turkish move had “distressed” him. Was that really enough? Having been a defender of Islam, famously insisting despite all the evidence to the contrary that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence,” having embraced as a brother the head of Al-Azhar (and a noted antisemite), Ahmed al-Tayeb, in Abu Dhabi, the Pope could hardly be described as an Islamophobe, which would have made his objections to the “reversion”of Hagia Sophia from museum to mosque even more powerful. He could have said much more than that he was “distressed.”
Perhaps Pope Francis can, in a longer statement, sometime in the coming weeks, tell the world why he is “distressed.” Something like this, for example, would be welcome:
My thoughts go to Istanbul, and to Hagia Sophia, the most important church in Christendom for more than 900 years, from 537 to 1453, and then a mosque for 488 years, from 1453 to 1931. It was in 1935 that the Turkish state wisely made it into a museum where visitors could admire what is surely the summit of Byzantine art, and Christians and Muslims were able to share a sacred space instead of disputing over which believers should have sole possession. It was a place of openness and harmony between civilizations. Now that arrangement has been undone. There is no longer that possibility of an encounter of equals within the walls of what has been, successively, a church, a mosque, and a museum.
We worry, too, about the physical condition of the Byzantine mosaics. I have learned that five times a day, when Muslim daily prayers take place, the mosaics will be covered over by cloths. Covering and uncovering these delicate masterpieces so many times every day increases the chances of damage to them. We are fearful for their physical future. We implore the Turkish president to reconsider this decision, so that Hagia Sophia may continue to be a place for openness and fruitful encounters between Muslims and Christians, as it has been since becoming a museum in 1935.
This, or something very like this, won’t change Erdogan’s mind. But it will highlight for the world’s Catholics that something very wrong has taken place in Istanbul. And it might signal the beginning, at long last, of a change in attitude toward Islam by Pope Francis.
The most impressive response to Erdogan’s decision came from UNESCO, which is deeply concerned about any changes in status made to Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The stern reaction of that organization is here.
The Director-General of UNESCO deeply regrets the decision of the Turkish authorities, made without prior discussion, to change the status of Hagia Sophia. This evening, she shared her serious concerns with the Ambassador of Turkey to UNESCO.
Hagia Sophia is part of the Historic Areas of Istanbul, a property inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. “Hagia Sophia is an architectural masterpiece and a unique testimony to interactions between Europe and Asia over the centuries. Its status as a museum reflects the universal nature of its heritage, and makes it a powerful symbol for dialogue,” said Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
This decision announced today raises the issue of the impact of this change of status on the property’s universal value. States have an obligation to ensure that modifications do not affect the Outstanding Universal Value of inscribed sites on their territories. UNESCO must be given prior notice of any such modifications, which, if necessary, are then examined by the World Heritage Committee.
UNESCO also recalls that the effective, inclusive and equitable participation of communities and other stakeholders concerned by the property is necessary to preserve this heritage and highlight its uniqueness and significance. The purpose of this requirement is to protect and transmit the Outstanding Universal Value of heritage, and it is inherent to the spirit of the World Heritage Convention.
These concerns were shared with the Republic of Turkey in several letters, and again yesterday evening with the representative of the Turkish Delegation to UNESCO. It is regrettable that the Turkish decision was made without any form of dialogue or prior notice. UNESCO calls upon the Turkish authorities to initiate dialogue without delay, in order to prevent any detrimental effect on the universal value of this exceptional heritage, the state of conservation of which will be examined by the World Heritage Committee at its next session.
“It is important to avoid any implementing measure, without prior discussion with UNESCO, that would affect physical access to the site, the structure of the buildings, the site’s moveable property, or the site’s management,” stressed Ernesto Ottone, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Culture. Such measures could constitute breaches of the rules derived from the 1972 World Heritage Convention.
Could the Hagia Sophia now lose its World Heritage Site designation, because of Turkey’s breach of the rules governing such sites? Will the physical access to the building by non-Muslims be prevented, or severely limited, during the Five Daily Prayers, or will they be able to visit, as they do now, at any time? Will the enormous cloth coverings which the Turks intend to use to hide the Christian mosaics, so as not to offend Muslim worshippers at prayer, be both thick enough to conceal the offending Christian art, and also light enough so as not to damage those mosaics, especially if the cloths are going to be put up and taken down five times a day? How will they be affixed to the walls without damaging them? These are all questions for architects and conservators to consider. Will the Turks allow the world’s Christians to have a say, through the input of expert conservators and specialists in Byzantine art, in how those mosaics, that are the heritage of the Christian world, are to be covered, and then uncovered, so frequently, in order to minimize damage?
Could Erdogan at least concede to the world’s Christians the involvement of Western art experts in preserving the mosaics of Hagia Sophia? And if he doesn’t, UNESCO should consider removing Hagia Sophia from the list of World Heritage Sites. That removal would – as the international uproar over the building ‘s change in status has already done — damage the Turkish tourism industry, so vital a part of the economy on which Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman fantasies depend.
Newly displaced people of Misterei, Western Darfur Region, July 26, 2020
The Security situation in Darfur is volatile and worsening as Rapid Support/Janjaweed (RSF/Janjaweed) carried out attacks against villages throughout Darfur. The toll is over 120 dead, 93 injured. These attacks were carried out by the RSF Janjaweed to implement Arab Coalition plan adopted by the former Bashir Khartoum regime completing the ethnic cleansing of indigenous African people of Darfur seeking to occupy the region by 2020. The RSF/Janjaweed attack villagers in their farms, homes, markets and in UNAMID Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. Within the last two weeks of July 2020, there have been killings in Fato Borno, the attacks on farmers in Abu Dilect on the outskirts of al Fashir, the Northern Darfur State Capital in which two people were killed and 16 others wounded. That was followed by the attacks on Abu Dus Village in South Darfur on July 23, 2020 during RSF/Janjaweed troops killed 7 villagers injuring 19 others. The RSF/Janjaweed militias continue to conduct murderous attacks throughout the volatile region of Darfur.
The Misterei attacks in the Western Region of Darfur began in the second week of July 2020 when protesters demanded the government provide security so that the villagers could cultivate their farms. As the RSF/Janjaweed militias occupy Darfurian villagers’ farms they have been opposed by protesters. They attempted to disperse peaceful protesters killing 2 people, injuring 6 others. They attacked protesters in al Geneina killing six people.
On Sunday, July 26, 2020 the RSF/Janjaweed militias organized a large-scale attack on Misterei, killing 61 people, wounding 48. The armed militias attacked the town from four directions. They robbed and burned homes. Several people fled to al Geneina, the Western Darfur State Capital and Chad, seeking sanctuary. The transitional government of Khartoum has been silent while the killing continues throughout Darfur. The RSF/Janjaweed is under the direct command of General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo also known as Hemeti. He is Deputy Chairman of the Temporary Sovereignty Council.
Additionally, 4 villagers, including a 14-year-old boy were killed, 6 others injured in Saraf Omra, North Darfur. The RSF/Janjaweed militias attacks in Darfur are intensifying terrorizing the indigenous people of Darfur. Therefore, we urge the international community to dispatch security forces to protect civilians in Darfur, disarm the extremist Janjaweed militias and remove foreign Arab recruits from Darfur.
[i] Lt. Gen. Abakar M. Abdallah is Chairman of the Sudan United Movement. He is a Native of Kutum, North Darfur who served as a senior intelligence officer and Pan Sahel Counterterrorism unit commander in the Republic of Chad Army. He is a graduate of the US Army Intelligence and Security School and the US Army War College, He is co-author of Genocide in Sudan: Caliphate Threatens Africa and the World, JAD Publishing, 2017.
Massey College's rejection of Margaret Wente serves as yet another example of the potentially terminal malaise afflicting Western universities
by Conrad Black
Diligent readers will recall that I’ve had some differences with Margaret Wente, long a senior columnist of the Globe and Mail, but it is an honour and a duty to defend her against the cowardly and hypocritical treatment she has received from Massey College. Having been nominated for and elected to one of Canadian academia’s less-exclusive groups, Massey College’s Quadrangle Society (apparently a phrenological rather than architectural description), Margaret Wente was abruptly rejected because of the insufficiency of her apparent fervour in proclaiming the ubiquity of racism in Canada and pursuing racists with the determination of U.S. Marines driving the Japanese defenders of Iwo Jima and Okinawa with flame-throwers into caves and incinerating them. It was also objected, with a high affectation of professional exaltedness, that she was an undischarged plagiarist. (I don’t know anything about that, but I doubt it.)
Massey College, founded in the 1960s, was the ultimate expression of English imitativeness in post-colonial Canadian development. It was the brainchild of former governor general, minister to Washington, high commissioner to the United Kingdom, Liberal party chairman and unsuccessful parliamentary candidate Vincent Massey, brother of the distinguished film actor Raymond Massey. The Massey family prospered in the farm equipment business and Massey Harris, subsequently Massey Ferguson, was one of the great manufacturers of tractors and combine harvesters in the world. Vincent Massey was undoubtedly a cultured man full of good intentions for Canada, though of distinctly fallible judgment — he was enthused at the Munich agreement and, as head of the Massey Commission in the Fifties, advocated an absolute radio and television monopoly for the CBC. I met him a couple of times; he was rather pompous and some of that has been transposed to some of the institutions he influenced, including Massey College. It is an elegant Oxbridge replication in the vast domain of the University of Toronto and had as its first master the eminent writer and delightful man, Robertson Davies.
Some recent principals (as they are now called) have been my friends of a great many years. John Fraser and former senator Hugh Segal maintained the standards of the college. But a clear signal that the barbarians of political correctness had pierced the ivy-covered ramparts was sent when Hugh dismissed historian Michael Marrus after one ill-considered racially insensitive joke. Marrus is a reputable historian and though he is not Canada’s most emollient personality, that treatment of him was unjust, and as Hugh Segal is a fair-minded and civilized man, it was clear evidence of the approaching danger. I congratulate Margaret MacMillan, another distinguished academic and historian I have known cordially for a very long time, for both supporting Marrus and resigning from the Quadrangle Society in support of Wente. Vertebrate academics are now our most endangered species. I do not know the new head of Massey College, Nathalie Des Rosiers, but to judge from the chatty messages she sends out to the Massey community, she seems to be a perfect allegorization for the surging tide of militant wokeness that has immersed our entire academic community and transformed much of it into a quagmire of militant societal self-hate.
This is the potentially terminal malaise of Western academia and it has reduced most of the Western media to life-support as well. In an ancient tragedian storyline, Western civilization defeated the perverted assaults of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, Fascist Italy and Soviet Russia, and then flattered itself with notions of what American public intellectual Francis Fukuyama famously described as ”the end of history.” This theory held that political evolution had reached its perfect phase with world-triumphant democracy and the free market. Then, without serious threats from outside, societal suicide became the threat. The endless and constant preoccupation with racism and especially the maniacal requirement to profess to detect racism everywhere, behind every bush and under every bed and lurking within every heart and mind, is now almost a psychosis. The international left, defeated in the Cold War, rallied to the environmental movement and attacked capitalism from a new angle — in the name of saving the planet, on scanty and contested evidence of the mortal danger of carbon use. The racism argument has developed parallel to the Green Terror.
The number of people in Canada and other generally advanced democracies who would actually qualify as racists, people who automatically despise or disdain other people because of their race, is very small. Every public and private organization in Canada and other civilized countries has in its governing documents purposeful statements of opposition to racial and other forms of discrimination. Yet this country has allowed public opinion to be inordinately influenced by people who relish destroying the careers of others by screaming racist epithets at them, even when there is absolutely not a scintilla of justification for it. This is the case with both Margaret Wente and Michael Marrus. Faced with the protests against Ms. Wente, Ms. Des Rosiers, former president of the Law Commission of Canada and counsel to the Canadian Civil Liberties Association as she is, folded like a three-dollar suitcase. This illustrates accurately, I’m afraid, the current rigour and integrity and dedication to free and wide-ranging debate of our universities.
The Quadrangle Society is not of the slightest significance, as former candidate member Wente has remarked with suitable acidulousness. But the internal enemies of our civilization here and in other countries are forcing a showdown between the traditional concept of freedom that has generally ruled in the English- and French-speaking world for centuries and has been gradually amplified and heroically defended, and this new mindless nihilistic fanaticism that is at its gentlest and most innocuous in trivial acts of oppression such as occurred at Massey College. It is essentially the same mentality, stirred to vehemence and armed with all the power of the U.S. Constitution’s reverence for firearms that transformed a repulsive act of police interracial murder in Minneapolis into huge financial losses to vandalism and arson, a score of violent deaths, and assaults upon the statues of such universally esteemed figures as Lincoln, Grant, Frederick Douglass and Winston Churchill. The forces of liberty are under siege from within.
As for our universities, the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed them in their ghastly infirmity as hideously expensive, infested with underworked seditious hypocrites and cowards, overfunded, and largely dedicated to the graduation of marginal disciplines of people barely able to earn a living but brainwashed of the unworthiness of our society. Most courses calling themselves “studies” should be conducted online and academically replaced by preparation for skilled and economically necessary work. Funding should be curtailed to any institution that does not guarantee free discussion and expression. Licensed broadcasters and television stations and distribution networks that do not observe the same standards should be subject to licence review by qualified non-political judges. Our civilization has nurtured a viper that must be defanged. Lincoln and Churchill and John A. Macdonald were more virtuous than Cleopatra, and we should not suffer her fate.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “liberate al-Aqsa mosque” from Israel after “resurrecting Hagia Sophia” as a mosque on Friday [July 10]. The story is here.
The decision to change the status of the ancient Hagia Sophia church, which had been transformed into a mosque in 1453 and then into a museum in 1934, was made controversially last week.
It follows an increasingly religious authoritarian agenda from Ankara that has made Turkey the world’s largest jailer of journalists, seen dissidents imprisoned for “terrorism” and witnessed increasing military invasions of neighboring countries by Turkey.
The resurrection of Hagia Sophia heralds the liberation of the al-Aqsa mosque, the Turkish Presidency website says. “The resurrection of Hagia Sophia is the footsteps of the will of Muslims across the world to come… the resurrection of Hagia Sophia is the reignition of the fire of hope of Muslims and all oppressed, wrong, downtrodden and exploited.”
Erdogan likely thought that the change in the status of Hagia Sophia would be celebrated by Muslims all over the world, but it hasn’t turned out that way. He claims it has brought about the “reignition of the fire of hope”among Muslims, but so far, an insignificant handful of Muslims have praised the “reverting” of Hagia Sophia to its previous status as a mosque. There have been no delirious demonstrations, nor indeed demonstrations of any kind, among Muslims worldwide, save in Turkey itself. Praise came from one minor figure in Pakistan, a local assembly leader of little consequence, one Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. Nothing was heard from Imran Khan, or any other national figure. The Arab Maghreb Union, which is merely a trade group, expressed support, but there was silence from the maghrebin leaders in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya. The Grand Mufti of Oman, Ahmed bin Hamad al-Khalili, expressed his support, but no other religious or political figures among the Gulf Arab states did so. The Muslim Brotherhood was pleased — but praise from the Muslim Brotherhood is not exactly helpful to Erdogan’s image and cause, given how many Muslims regard the MB as a mortal threat. Ekrema Sabri, the preacher of Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, was satisfied. And finally, the terror group Hamas praised the move: “The opening of Hagia Sophia to prayer is a proud moment for all Muslims,” said Rafat Murra, head of international press office of Hamas, in a written statement. And that was it. Nothing from Egypt, the U.A.E., Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Iran. Nothing from Kuwait, Bahrain, Yemen. Nothing from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Nothing from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Afghanistan. Nothing from the Arab League or the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
What surely amazed and disappointed Erdogan was how, with 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, save for the handful of positive responses I’ve listed, there were no public expressions of support from Muslim leaders. In Saudi Arabia, not only was there no support, but instead fury that Erdogan had unnecessarily antagonized the entire Christian world without, in the Saudi view, accomplishing anything of real value for the world’s Muslims.
The speech [by Erdogan], which was in Turkish, was translated slightly differently in Arabic and English, apparently as a way to hide part of Ankara’s full views on how it has linked Hagia Sophia to a wider agenda.
In Arabic the speech says that turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque is part of the “return of freedom to al-Aqsa,” essentially meaning Israel should be ejected from controlling Jerusalem’s Old City where al-Aqsa is located.
Perhaps Erdogan wanted to appeal, in the Arabic version of his speech, for Muslim Arab support – that has so far not been forthcoming, save from the half-dozen individuals and groups that I’ve listed above – to the change in status of Hagia Sophia, by presenting it as a kind of condition precedent to the next step, the conquest of Al-Aqsa.
What Erdogan does not realize is that the Arabs are alarmed by Turkey’s moves to extend its influence and power in Jerusalem, and especially in the Old City. A war for influence in East Jerusalem has been brewing between Turkey and certain Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, over the Turkish attempt to expand its power in Jerusalem. The Turkish government has offered trips to Turkey for Jerusalem Arabs, has delivered aid to Arab neighborhoods, has even supplied teachers to the city’s schools. Turkey’s sustainable investment in Jerusalem is multi-dimensional, through a series of civil bodies, NGOs and grassroots organisations undertaking charitable initiatives and educational programs for the benefit of the Palestinian Arabs. The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Association (TIKA) ,with its headquarters in East Jerusalem, has invested millions of dollars in the restoration of the Old City of Jerusalem and the provision of food parcels to vulnerable people there. It has also supported businessmen and entrepreneurs. Arabs in east Jerusalem have been seen waving Turkish flags.
All of this worries the Jordanians and the Saudis, who recognize that Erdogan would like to extend Turkish influence over the Waqf that administers Al-Haram Ash-Sharif (the Temple Mount), including Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. The Saudis are now in talks with the Israelis and Jordanians over possible Saudi participation with Jordan in the administration of the Waqf, which until now has been completely in Jordan’s hands, in order to keep Turkey out.
Turkey’s president linked the decision to reviving Islam from Bukhara in Uzbekistan to Andalusia in Spain. This terminology, linking al-Aqsa in Jerusalem to Hagia Sophia and Spain, is a kind of coded terminology for a wider religious agenda. In the Turkish translation the same reference to Spain does not appear to be included as in the Arabic.
Erdogan mentions Spain in the Arabic version of his speech. He apparently did not realize that mentioning Spain in such a context — that of Turkey leading a neo-Ottoman caliphate, stretching from Bukhara to Andalusia — would only anger many Arabs, who consider Spain to belong by right to them, as it was the Arabs, and not Turks, who possessed Islamic Spain for 700 years; Spain was never part of the Ottoman Empire.
As for “liberating Al-Aqsa,” to many Muslim Arabs it already seems “liberated.” In 1967 Israel handed administration of the Temple Mount (with Al-Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock) back to the Waqf, under Jordanian custodianship, while maintaining Israeli security control. Israel has bent over backwards to be solicitous of Muslim sensibilities. Jews and Christians are allowed to visit the Temple Mount only at certain times, and they are prohibited from praying or singing on the Temple Mount. Jordan, through the Waqf, is responsible for all other administrative matters. I suspect that the Arabs collectively will be as unenthusiastic about Erdogan’s attempt to expand Turkish power and influence in Jerusalem – perhaps by winning over Palestinian Arabs to demand that Turkey be allowed to take part in the administration of the Waqf – as they were in 2018 about Erdogan’s plans for a pan-Islamic army.
Sermons with swords part of Turkey's tradition, head of Diyanet says
From the English langiage edition of Turkish pro-government newspaper the Daily Sabah. I suppose the attitude of conquest should come as no surprise.
Turkey's religious chief on Friday explained that swords were traditionally held during religious sermons delivered at weekly Muslim prayers as a symbol of conquest.
After leading the Friday prayer at the Hagia Sophia Mosque – the first prayer following its reversion to being a place of Muslim worship – Ali Erbas told reporters: "Khutbahs (Friday sermons) have been delivered with a sword, without interruption, for 481 years. If Allah permits, we will resume this tradition from now on."
"This is a tradition in mosques that are the symbol of conquests," explained Erbas, who heads Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), adding that the Hagia Sophia Mosque is one of those symbols of conquest.
"I hope many people pray in this mosque ... learn their religion here. We'll try to restore the Hagia Sophia Madrassa to function as it did during its magnificent years with Quran lessons in every single corner of the mosque. . . Mosques also function as schools. Just as our prophet was able to raise his companions in mosques, we are trying to raise our youth and children in mosques," Erbas added.
The Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul,
Do we really want to hire a doctor based on their gender and/or the color of their skin? I can understand that women would prefer a female gynecologist or psychiatrist (but not always) and that men might prefer a male urologist or psychiatrist (but not always), but other than that—really? Would you want to have someone who was falsely graded in college and medical school perform surgery on you? Would you hire an athlete or an opera singer who was graded on a forced curve and who can’t exactly hit the ball or the high notes?
And while I’m at it: Why are female athletes so poorly represented in the almost male-only Sports pages? And why so few statues of distinguished women in public places? Is anyone writing or marching about this?
Media Democrats focus on a few non-scandals of surpassing triviality.
by Conrad Black
As the Democratic presidential campaign moves toward its last three months and narrows down to the false claim that the president has mismanaged the COVID-19 pandemic, accompanied by a deluge of misleading polls loaded in favor of the Democrats to show an impending Biden near-landslide, it is almost piquant to hear the most ancient and vociferous Trump-haters still peddling the worm-eaten chestnut of Trump’s moral odium. The historic division between those who approve and disapprove of the president is nowhere clearer than in the Sherlock Holmes–like assiduity of his media enemies excavating ludicrously trivial matters that they portray as monstrous ethical lapses that disqualify Trump from any responsible office. They give new meaning to the concept of the blindfold of justice by overlooking the fact that President Trump has been the victim of the most egregious constitutional illegalities ever committed in the United States. It need hardly be added that the same poisoned-tip spear-carriers of the Democratic media were among the most shameless peddlers of the Russian-collusion fraud and the asinine impeachment that surpassed even Kafka: Trump was not accused of “nameless crimes,” but of acts that not only are legal but for the commission of which by Trump no probative evidence was produced.
Thus we find the compulsively belligerent Rachel Maddow of MSNBC leading the righteous charge. She had breathlessly announced four years ago (having illegally received part of his tax return) that in 1995, Donald Trump paid “only . . . $38 million in federal income tax.” After a comparative hiatus to live down that fiasco, she has now claimed that he is guilty of a sequence of illegalities and improprieties in office that under any other administration would cause both houses of Congress to rise up and remove the miscreant. The amiable animated autocue of the DNC, Juan Williams, echoed the Maddow moral fervor, writing in The Hill on Monday that the fact that “Americans are not allowed to travel to Canada or Europe” is “due to President Trump’s failure to hold down the high rate of the coronavirus infections in the United States.” In fact, all of the larger Western European countries except Germany have had a higher COVID-19 fatality rate than the United States. America now leads the world in testing. Trump suspended direct travel from Western Europe to the United States in February and was much criticized by the Democrats at the time, as he had been at the end of January for suspending direct flights from China. It is amusing to see a Biden-campaign media mouthpiece such as Williams sadly executing such a clumsy pirouette.
Keeping in mind that Maddow and Williams are shock troops in the Democratic campaign, which is being conducted entirely by that party’s chatty marionettes in the media, in the absence of a viable or even remotely responsive designated nominee to perform that role, we may assume that these charges, leveled with the usual histrionic sanctimony, are the most grievous within the limited imaginations of the vast Democratic media mudslinging operation. Forewarned, the latest charges against Trump are: Someone who planned the wedding of one of the president’s sons holds a position as a federal regional housing administrator. Steady, also, the president fired an inspector general who was investigating the secretary of state. The thought that it might have been a frivolous and vexatious investigation for dubious motive, which is the official explanation that no one has seriously contradicted, is an inconvenience that need not be addressed. The Maddow-Williams Torquemada imitation recoils in outraged scrupulosity that Mrs. Trump allegedly advertised what was billed as her own line of jewelry on the White House website. Any of these, according to Maddow, would be “the biggest scandal to ever afflict any other presidency, but by virtue of the sheer number of scandals that surround Trump like flies around the pigpen, they have just become part of what we expect, right?” These are apologists for the regime that seems to have unprecedentedly politicized the upper reaches of the intelligence services and the Justice Department to influence a presidential election outcome, and then unleashed a spurious special investigation of matters it knew (including Joe Biden) to be legally unexceptionable.
The balance of the Maddow-Williams complaints were lifted from the New York Times, which concedes its unwavering hostility to the president, to the point of provoking the resignation of an editor two weeks ago (Bari Weiss, who denounced the Times’ editorial dishonesty). The Times complained that the administration contained a number of senior officials whose backgrounds indicated that they might not be altogether in sympathy with some constituencies who expected continued favoritism from the departments or agencies that they lead. Thus a lawyer now working in the White House had previously been a lobbyist for a firearms group that stood to gain from a regulatory change in arms sales, and the director of the EPA is alleged to be a former lobbyist for the coal industry, which the Democrats wish to eliminate. Defense Secretary Esper (who should be fired for other reasons), in addition to a number of greater qualifications for his office, is accused of being a former lobbyist for Raytheon. And as is now required from all the Democratic propagandists, Attorney General William Barr is ritualistically attacked for intervening to reduce the initial recommended sentence of Trump-campaign supporter Roger Stone. Readers will recall that Special Counsel Robert Mueller reenacted the invasion of Normandy, investing the Stone household in Fort Lauderdale before dawn from land, sea, and air after tipping off CNN, and then taking Mr. Stone, who does not own a gun or have a passport, into custody at machine-gun point in his night attire, disconcerting Mrs. Stone and the family cat. It was a straight political trial, a mousetrap perjury operation, and a customary outrage by the American prosecutocracy. Barr should be commended for urging reduction of the sentence and the president congratulated for commuting it and sparing Stone possible exposure to the coronavirus in prison. National Review called the president’s praiseworthy action “indefensible,” echoing the most deranged and contemptible Trump-hater of all, Mitt Romney, who condemned it as “an act of unprecedented historic corruption.” As a public service, someone should give the former Republican presidential nominee a brief tutorial in American history.
If this is the best the Democratic muckraking cheerleaders and Never Trump Republicans can do, then they have shot their puny bolt. It is time to induce a resumption of the decline of the coronavirus fatality rate and of the unemployment that it generated. The country must focus on the distinction between the administration that relaunched the economy, recognized the Chinese threat, and ended unemployment and almost all illegal immigration, and the quavering alternative pledged to enactment of the Biden–Sanders Marxist unity agreement. A Biden victory would be a catastrophic electoral result.
What the world is witnessing right now is someone hitting Iranian nuclear and conventional weapons and IRGC facilities practically at will.
Iran is facing a total intelligence breakdown.
With another explosion on Thursday night, reportedly at an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps facility, the question is not only how anyone has pulled up to seven attacks off in around two weeks, but how has the Islamic Republic repeatedly failed to stop them….
In general, Iranian counterintelligence is known as performing at a much higher level than most Israeli adversaries. Sometimes they falsely announce arrests of Mossad agents who are just political opposition members, but sometimes they can flush out spies at a professional level closer to the world’s top powers.
Until Israel’s January 2018 operation seizing Iran’s nuclear secrets, Iranian territory was thought of as much harder to penetrate than Syrian territory, where Israel has admitted to thousands of intelligence and airstrike operations.
In the days of Meir Dagan, a score of attacks on Iranian nuclear scientists were attributed to the Mossad….
To the extent that these are cyber-attacks, it might be more understandable that Tehran has caught no one and stopped nothing. Explosions perpetrated through a cyber-attack could have been pre-planted months or even years ago to be set off now.
But even in the cyber arena, US and Israeli officials have been warning that after the 2010 Stuxnet attack, the regime heavily improved as a cyber power.
However, what we appear to be witnessing are the limits of a second-tier counterintelligence force. Up against a premier intelligence or cyber power, Iran is apparently near defenseless…
Iran has been unable even to conclude which of the attacks on its facilities were the result of cyberattacks and which were caused by bombs placed inside military targets. It continues to insist that it does not know, a full two weeks after the most important attack, at Natanz, whether it was a Stuxnet-like cyberattack, as many Western experts now believe (or as they now say, it “was bigger than Stuxnet”), or a huge bomb placed near a gas pipe in the building by Iranian agents of Israel. Nor have the Iranians been able to satisfactorily explain the other six attacks that came in rapid and frightening succession. In every case they have at first minimized the attack’s destructive force, misidentified the source of the explosion (lots of gas tanks were supposedly leaking), and misstated, or passed over in silence, the method used – that is, a kinetic or a cyber attack.
The Israelis are running rings around Iran’s counterintelligence. Imagine the agents they must have deep within Iran’s counterintelligence, to have known just how most devastatingly to attack the new centrifuge plant at Natanz, and the ballistic missile factory at Khojir, where top-secret work was going on which included the preparation of nuclear warheads for intermediate-range ballistic missiles. And who helped the Israelis identify the other, seemingly innocuous civilian sites, some of which may in fact have been military facilities, that Israel struck with such devastating effect?
Think, too, of Iran’s intelligence donnybrook when it failed to protect the records of its nuclear program. Iranian agents had to have identified for Mossad the nondescript warehouse where the records of Iran’s nuclear project were hidden, information that led to the Israelis seizing 55,000 documents and 183 CDs detailing Iran’s nuclear program, in the middle of the night, in the middle of Tehran, working furiously to open dozens of safes with blowtorches, knowing they had to be well out of there before 7 a.m., when Iranian employees arrived. Iran still has not figured out how the Israelis managed to carry off all that top secret cargo, or how they got themselves, and that enormous cache of material, safely out of Iran and back to Israel. But Iranian agents working with Israel– possibly anti-regime Iranians — were certainly involved. And not one has yet been caught.
Israel’s spectacular cyberwarriors have proven themselves to be among the best in the business, fully the equal of those in the U.S., Russia, and China. Were I advising the Iranians, I would tell them to take their licks, not even think of trying to retaliate, and be afraid, very afraid.
Long Arm of Hamas Extends to Dallas-Fort Worth Black Extremist Groups
by Anne-Christine Hoff
As the four-year anniversary of the mass shooting of Dallas police officers passes, a lawsuit has been reopened which alleges that social media outlets allowed the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas to radicalize Micah Johnson, leading the former U.S. Army reservist to take the lives of five police officers while injuring nine others.
Plaintiffs in Retana v. Twitter, Inc. allege that about two years before the attack, Johnson – a black nationalist – began sympathizing with Hamas. According to court documents, Johnson told a woman that he had just returned from Afghanistan and that “he was very much pro-Gaza,” leading her “to believe that he had been radicalized to the Palestinian cause supporting violence against Israel.”
Although three separate lawsuits have yet to present conclusive evidence of connections between Hamas and the Dallas shooting, black identity extremists from Dallas have expressed appreciation for the terrorist group’s violent revolutionary tactics, while Hamas’s local Islamist proxies have co-opted black civil rights causes to bring attention to their own radical agenda.
Plaintiffs in these cases discuss the long-standing connections between Hamas and national black separatist organizations. They point to Hamas sympathizers who furnished advice and support in 2014 to police protestors in Ferguson, Missouri, and they refer to “black separatist hate groups” which took a 10-day trip in 2015 to the Palestinian Territories and Israel. Led by a guide from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, activists from the black civil rights group Dream Defenders participated in a riot against Israeli soldiers and law enforcement.
In Dallas, black identity extremists continue to sympathize with Hamas while lauding its violent tactics.
Founded in 1989 in Dallas, the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) advocates an anti-white, anti-Semitic message of “black unity, collective action and cooperative economics.” Its leaders openly sympathize with the Palestinian resistance while demonizing the “crackers over in Israel” who oversee a “Synagogue of Satan.”
In 2014, NBPP Chief of Staff Chawn Kweli praised the insurgent tactics employed by Hamas and said that African Americans should “learn to fight for [their] land” from the Palestinians. “They don’t have all them tanks … but they got heart. They got will. They got guerilla tactics,” he said.
The Huey P. Newton Gun Club is a black nationalist militia that made headlines in 2014 for carrying out armed community patrols in predominantly African American neighborhoods of South Dallas. Johnson was reportedly affiliated with this racist hate group, and after his death HPNGC co-founder Yafeuh Balogun praised the cop killer and predicted that, “He will be celebrated one day.”
In 2018, Michael Thervil of Voda Consulting trained HPNGC members in marksmanship, community patrolling, and counter protests. As with NBPP members, Thervil praised Hamas as a model for African American insurrectionists to emulate “in terms of combat,” professing his “deepest love for Hamas and those fearless fighters in Hezbollah.”
Just one month after HPNGC members were drilled in “counter protesting,” the black militia put its training to the test when it appeared alongside NBPP members at the George R. Brown Convention Center in downtown Houston. Armed with assault rifles, the black nationalists provided security for the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) during its annual conference.
As recently as the early 1990s, ISNA sent checks to the “Palestinian Mujahideen,” the former name for Hamas’s military wing, and in 2009 a federal judge ruled that there is “ample evidence” tying ISNA to Hamas.
Hamas also has deep roots in the non-black Dallas Islamic community. The most well-known and earliest connection is documented in USA v.Holy Land Foundation (HLF), the largest terrorism finance case in U.S. history In 2008, the founders of the Richardson, Texas, charity were convicted of numerous charges related to financing Hamas, including conspiracy, money laundering, providing material support for terrorism, and tax evasion.
Does Hamas now depend on its U.S. proxies to influence black nationalists?
As with CAIR and ISNA, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is an outgrowth of the now-defunct Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), a Hamas propaganda front group that was dissolved in 2004 for funding terrorism, and several AMP board members were members of IAP before its dissolution.
On June 12, AMP-Texas organized a Black Lives Matter rally with local mosques, including Dallas’s Nation of Islam chapter, a black separatist, quasi-Sunni religious movement commonly rejected by mainstream Muslims. During a similar protest one week earlier, AMP-Dallas Director Fadya Risheq repeated an anti-Semitic smear that effectively holds Israeli Jews responsible for police violence against African Americans.
Risheq was merely parroting views expressed on Hamas’s English-language website, which dismissed racial animosity as the primary cause of police brutality, pointing out that the “militarization of the US police and its use of deadly violence … is a relatively new phenomenon that has been largely imported from Israel.”
Celebrity Imam Omar Suleiman, the founder and president of the Irving-based Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, is perhaps the most celebrated Muslim cleric in Texas – if not the U.S. Suleiman has been a vocal advocate of Hamas proxies such as AMP, and he is featured on its website soliciting donations. He headlined a 2017 AMP rally in Washington D.C., before appearing one year later as a guest speaker at AMP’s annual conference.
Suleiman is also a vocal supporter of Black Lives Matter, and he has tweeted his support for violent Palestinian resistance. On July 14, 2014, he gave this prayer on Twitter:
“God willing on this blessed night as the 3rd Intifada begins, the beginning of the end of Zionism is here. May Allah help us overcome this monster, protect the innocent of the world, and accept the murdered as martyrs. ameen.”
Historically, Dallas has been an incubator for both Islamic extremism and black supremacism. These two movements may not share the same aspirations, but they certainly share many of the same hatreds. Their alliance is an abstract one, drawn together through the demonization of both the Israeli military and American law enforcement, under whose jackboots Palestinians and African-Americans are, ostensibly, jointly oppressed. This conspiracy would link Gaza and Minneapolis as two battlefields in a single war.
And yet black supremacists are largely not Islamist; and Islamists are certainly not truly committed to the idea of black supremacism. One is exploiting the other, using African American grievances to deflect criticism of radical Islam. And Micah Johnson may not be the last radical to be drawn in.
Anne-Christine Hoff is the Dallas Counter-Islamist Grid Research Fellow of Middle East Forum. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.
The leader of Britain's largest Muslim charity has quit after putting anti-Semitic posts on social media. Heshmat Khalifa , a former trustee and director of Islamic Relief Worldwide, said the Jews are 'grandchildren of monkeys and pigs.' Mr Khalifa also described Egypt's president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as a 'Zionist pimp' on his Facebook page, as reported by The Times.
And he called the Muslim president - who ousted President Morsi in July 2013 - a 'pimp son of the Jews' and a 'Zionist criminal'. There were other posts on his page, written in Arabic, that promoted the work of the charity that has 100 offices in 40 countries worldwide. His Facebook page has now been taken down.
Mr Khalifa - who until recently was Chairman of Islamic Relief Australia - also used social media to described Hamas as 'the purest resistance movement in modern history'. He said that declaring its armed wing a terrorist organisation was a “shameful disgrace to all Muslims”.
For many years, Islamic Relief has been forced to deny claims of ideological ties with Islamist organisations. There have also been allegations, again strongly rejected, that its funds were sometimes passed to questionable recipients.
In 2014 the United Arab Emirates outlawed the charity because of an alleged connection to the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.
Islamic Relief is one of the largest Muslim charities in the world and on it's website says its mission is to 'enable people to respond rapidly to disasters and fight poverty through our Islamic values, expertise and global reach.'
With partners including Oxfam, Christian Aid, Save the Children and the British Red Cross, it is one of the 14 members of Britain’s disasters emergency committee. The Times notified Islamic Relief on Thursday last week of its intention to reveal Mr Khalifa’s posts. His Facebook page was taken down a day later. On Tuesday, Companies House received notification of his termination as a director.
Mr Khalifa was born and educated in Egypt but has been a British citizen since 2005. Mr Khalifa told The Times that he was sorry for publishing the posts and regretted the “language and sentiments expressed”, which were unacceptable.
. . . The Charity Commission has now opened a compliance case into Islamic Relief.