Monday, 23 September 2019
Tom Woods Interviews Michael Rectenwald on Google Archipelago
Posted on 09/23/2019 7:29 AM by New English Review Press
Monday, 23 September 2019
At the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, Young Muslims Coached to Handle the Media
by Hugh Fitzgerald
A story some time ago about a mosque in central Connecticut with a 400-student Muslim Sunday school offered a house blend of victimhood and resilience.
More guards are on patrol these days. And for the older students in the transition class, talking about Islamophobia is not only welcomed, but encouraged. The teenagers are in their final years of high school and will be heading off to college soon.
In the first sentence, the theme of Muslim insecurity is introduced: “more guards are on patrol these days” around the mosque. Muslims are threatened, Muslims need to be protected. The next sentence supplies “islamophobia,” that mendacious word used to great effect in order to inhibit all legitimate criticism of Islam.
So before they head out into the “real world,” they aren’t just learning the tenets of Islam, said Dr. Reza Mansoor, their teacher on a recent Sunday. He’s coaching them on how to defend their faith from misconceptions.
“By the way, As-Salaam alaikum,” Mansoor greeted them. “If you use an Arabic term and you don’t translate, dinged one point, OK? So As-Salaam-Alaikum means God’s peace be with you all.”
Mansoor is president of the mosque, called Islamic Association of Greater Hartford, and he is big on translating Islamic phrases and words. Take jihad, for instance. It means a struggle — usually a personal, spiritual one — but if you hear jihad in the media, he said, it’s almost always associated with extremists who commit violence in the name of Islam, like the 9/11 terrorists.
“If you use jihadist for terrorist, you unfortunately give the terrorists… a position much higher than what they are,” Mansoor told his students.
Mansoor, like so many apologists for Islam, wants non-Muslims to believe that “Jihad” refers to a “personal, spiritual struggle.” But 109 Qur’anic verses commanding Muslims to wage violent Jihad, and 1,400 years of many Jihads, conducted uninterruptedly somewhere in the world, against Unbelievers, suggest otherwise. He laments the fact that “when you hear jihad in the media…it’s almost always associated with extremists.” But why shouldn’t it be? Since the Muslim terrorists themselves describe their attacks as Jihads, why shouldn’t we take them at their word? Are we to ignore how members of Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Al Shebaab, Al-Nusra Front, Abu Sayyaf, Hamas, and Hezbollah all refer to their respective campaigns as ‘’jihads”?’
“People tend to fear what they don’t know. And when Islam is viewed as a threat, that makes Muslims a target.”
Mansoor’s sympathy is limited to Muslims. It is they who are “a target”; it’s so unfair that Islam should be “viewed as a threat.” Possibly Reza Mansoor is unaware of the nearly 36,000 attacks carried out by Muslim terrorists since 9/11. Given that, it would be madness for people in the West not to view Islam as a “threat.”
Mansoor’s remark that “people tend to fear what they don’t know” has it backwards in the case of Islam. People who know little about Islam — Merkel, Macron, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis — are the ones who are most susceptible to minimizing its menace, and remain the most sanguine and the least anxious about the tens of millions of Muslims who have been allowed to settle in the West, deep behind what they have been taught to regard as enemy lines, the lines of Dar al-Harb. It is those who have taken the trouble to read and make sense of the Qur’an and the most important hadith, in the authoritative collections of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, who in addition have learned something about the 1,400-year history of Muslim expansion, who are most alarmed by the steady encroachments of Islam in the West. When it comes to Islam, the more you learn, the more alarmed you become.
“Just imagine someone calling you a terrorist and telling you to go home,” Aissa Bensalem, 17, said during the class. “I had one of my friends say that they were scared to come to the masjid because they were afraid that they were going to be shot on.” [sic]
Yes, Aissa has unwittingly used the most apposite verb — “imagine.” For how many such claims by Muslims of being the victims of Infidel hostility, from the microaggressions of a fleeting look of disapproval at a hijab, to physical attacks, have been made up, imagined, to win sympathy? Apparently Aissa Bensalem wasn’t afraid of attending the mosque herself; it was “one of [her] friends.” Had there been other fearful Muslims, she would certainly have mentioned them. And why should we believe her report about her friend’s fear of going to the mosque, given how many dubious claims have been made by Muslims about manifestations of “islamophobia” that turn out out never to have occurred? In the case of microaggressions — e.g., a prolonged stare, an oath muttered under the breath — there is often no way of knowing if such claims are real, or are merely claimed so as to deflect criticism from, and elicit sympathy for, Muslims.
Their mosque underwent an active shooter training just the other week. It’s part of a bigger security plan that has involved conversations with the FBI and local police, according to Mansoor, who said security was beefed up after the mass shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.
That “active shooter training” is meant to impress on readers the very real physical dangers that Muslims face. You need to remind yourself that attacks by Muslims on non-Muslims far outnumber those on Muslims worldwide; that Christians are the most persecuted (almost entirely by Muslims) minority today; that antisemitism has increased horrifyingly pari passu with the increase in Muslim migrants, and that this phenomenon is even more pronounced in Europe than in the U.S..
But for Mansoor, a cardiologist by trade, a conversation about security is incomplete without talk of “changing the narrative.” After 9/11, he founded the Muslim Coalition of Connecticut to counter the anti-Muslim rhetoric that he says is perpetuated in the media. Years after the terrorist attack, some Americans still see U.S. Muslims as anti-American.
Why, whatever could have caused “some Americans” to “still see U.S. Muslims as anti-American”? What oh what could explain that? 9/11 was so long ago: Reza Mansoor complains that it’s been “years after the terrorist attack,” but some Americans are apparently harboring a quite unnecessary antipathy to Muslims. He refers to 9/11 as “the terrorist attack.” Has he forgotten all the other attacks since then? Could American worries about Islam have something to do with the attacks by Muslims since 9/11, in New York, Boston, Minneapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, Fort Hood, Little Rock, Orlando, Chattanooga, San Bernardino? And could it be that Americans have also been alarmed by the spectacle of Muslim terrorists in Europe, where they have struck in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris (many times), Lyon, Toulouse, Nice, Montauban, Magnanville, St. Etienne-du-Rouvray, Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Malmö, Helsinki, Turku, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Beslan? Reza Mansoor wants Infidels to forget all that. Sorry, no can do. And from his point of view, what is even more deplorable is the increasing number of non-Muslims who have been educating themselves about Islam, and have been connecting the dots between these many acts of terrorism and what the Islamic texts, especially the Qur’an, inculcate. See, e.g., 3.151, 4:87, 8:12,8:60, 47:4 for verses about “striking terror” in the hearts of Infidels, and Muhammad’s boast in the Hadith that “I have been made victorious through terror.”
Mansoor tells his students that “islamophobia is driven by false information. So he encourages them to be media-savvy and to correct those misconceptions when confronted with them.
”Islamophobia” as a word and as a concept exists only to inhibit or shut down legitimate islamocriticism. We are supposed to believe that all such criticism constitutes an “irrational fear.” Mansoor offers no examples of such “irrational fear” of Islam, nor any examples of “false information” and “misconceptions” about the faith that are circulating. It’s enough, he thinks, that he makes the charge; evidence is not his strong suit.
He wants his students to be “media-savvy” — that is, to learn the art of dissimulation, so useful in correcting “those misconceptions” about Islam that islamophobes harbor. It’s a public relations effort on behalf of a single client — Islam.
“This is your job,” he said. “You are the next generation of Muslims to be able to show that Islamic values and American values are completely compatible.”
What are those American values with which Islamic values “are completely compatible”? It can’t be freedom of religion, for apostates from Islam are to be severely punished, even with death. Muhammad himself said in a hadith: “he who changes his (Islamic) religion, kill him.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari 9:57). Historically, in Muslim societies, non-Muslim People of the Book, that is, Christians and Jews, could continue to remain alive and even practice their religion, as dhimmis, as long as they accepted a set of onerous conditions, most notably payment of the tax known as the Jizyah. Over time, many non-Muslims converted to Islam in order to escape from the dhimmi’s burden. This coercion hardly corresponds to the American value of freedom of religion.
Another American value, perhaps the one most important to maintaining our democracy, is that of freedom of speech. But where, in what Muslim country, is there anything like the American guarantee of freedom of speech? Journalists and others attempting to exercise free speech in Muslim lands are imprisoned (as in Turkey, which has the largest number of jailed journalists in the world), killed (Jamal Khashoggi), or driven into exile (the many Arab journalists now living in London and Paris). The despots of Islam are now, and always have been, hostile to free speech, and over 1,400 years, Islam never developed a culture of promoting and protecting free speech. The worst violations in Muslim lands of the right of free speech are the harsh punishments for “blasphemy” — that is, the perceived mocking of any aspect of Islam, and especially of Muhammad himself, which can result in a death sentence (the murder of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, the attack on Lars Vilks, the threats to Jyllands-Posten and Molly Norris, the death sentence — commuted — for Asia Bibi). How can Reza Mansoor have the chutzpah to declare that “Islamic values” and “American values” are “completely compatible”?
The equality of the sexes is another American value incompatible with “Islamic values.” In Islam, women are treated as inferior to men. Polygyny is legitimate in Islam; one husband, but many wives, naturally devalues women. So does the rules for divorce: a husband need only repeat the triple-talaq to be instantly divorced; a wife who wants a divorce, however, must return her bride-price or mahr, and provide a reason for the divorce that is deemed acceptable. Qur’an 4:34 declares that men are “superior” to women and must serve as their managers. The same verse gives a Muslim husband the right to “beat” a wife if he even suspects her of disobedience. A Muslim daughter inherits half that of a son. A Muslim woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man. Muhammad explains this last rule in a hadith where he insisted that it is “because of the deficiency in her [woman’s] intelligence.”
Another American value is the legal equality of minorities (this wasn’t always an American value, of course, but it certainly is now), which is enshrined in the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment (invoked against the states) and incorporated in the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment (invoked against the federal government.) The equal treatment of minorities is not, however, an Islamic value. In Islam, Muslims are the “best of peoples” (3:110) and non-Muslims the “most vile of created beings.” (98:6). Non-Muslims in a Muslim state have restrictions placed on them as to the building of new religious structures or repairs to existing ones, and often they are required to be restrained in their religious observances. They can be punished severely for any attempts to proselytize, though Muslims may freely do so.
In the Islamic world, severe restrictions on freedom of religion and on freedom of speech, the absence of legal equality for women and for non-Muslim minorities, are sufficient to refute Reza Mansoor’s bizarre claim that Islamic and American values are “completely compatible.”
Students at a Muslim Sunday school in central Connecticut are being taught by Dr. Reza Mansoor to be “media-savvy.” In previous posts, we discussed their sadness at the way Muslims are too often mistreated by those who cannot get beyond 9/11, about their need, according to Dr Mansoor, to clear up “misconceptions” about the faith that some islamophobes still harbor, and to insist that Islamic and American values are “completely compatible” — in short, to be trained in the arts of exaggeration and dissimulation in order to be Defenders of the Faith.
“Students also raised the issue of the controversial Muslim travel ban by President Donald Trump.
“If you’re not welcome to someone’s house, you’re not going to feel safe going there,” said Laila Mehar, 27, a student who is a bit older. “You’re not going to feel at home. Again, cultivating a sense of fear. So we think that we’re seeing a lot of that today with the refugees coming in.”
What the reporter, no doubt channeling Mansoor, uncritically calls the “Muslim travel ban,” needs yet again to be clarified. It is not a “Muslim travel ban.” It is a ban on admitting people from seven countries, two of which were non-Muslim, where the American government believed there was a heightened threat from terrorists, and the ability of the governments in those seven countries to monitor such threats was deemed inadequate. 95% of the world’s Muslims remained unaffected by this so-called “Muslim travel ban.”
Nonetheless, Mansoor told the class, he still thinks America is a great place to practice Islam — that it remains a safe haven for immigrants like himself. Mansoor explained how he came from Sri Lanka almost 30 years ago after his medical school there was bombed.
“We don’t want the Muslim ban and the ‘Islam hates America’ and stuff to change this nation that welcomes immigrants and that has made America such a beautiful country,” Mansoor said.
Much is made, in this report, of the supposed anxiety felt by these Muslim high school students. It is worth noting that Dr. Mansoor could have helped relieve his students of some of their unnecessary anxiety by explaining that the so-called “Muslim ban” was nothing of the kind. He might have explained, too, that reports of attacks on Muslims in this country have been deliberately exaggerated by some of those claiming victimhood (their stories, as they unraveled, can be found online), that given the many Muslim terror attacks in America and Europe, it is perfectly understandable that many Americans are wary of Islam…and that — he could have added — “we Muslims have a duty to confront, not to deny, the Qur’anic verses that have led Muslims to wage Jihad against all others for 1,400 years. We must not flinch from examining the contents of the Quran, to see if a way to establish a real modus vivendi, a true coexistence with those we have been commanded to fight and to kill — let’s not keep up the pretense that such verses do not exist — is possible. Dissimulation, taqiyya, may continue to fool many Infidels, but those many can become few.”
The class was winding down. “All right, good job, guys,” he said. “Time for pizza.”
Outside, one of the security guards could be seen patrolling the property. Eleventh-grader Nisaa Mohamed, 16, said she feels safe at her mosque. But as a Connecticut high schooler who wears a headscarf, Mohamed said she’s had to deal with people calling her a terrorist.
Victimhood is powerful. Mention of the security guard is meant to remind us of the dangers these young Muslims face. And while all over the Western world we see Muslims attacking non-Muslims in attempts to terrorize them, we are supposed to believe that, although Nisaa Mohamad “feels safe at her mosque,” implicitly she does not “feel safe” elsewhere (else she would have said “I feel safe”), and “people” have “called her a terrorist.” Skepticism is in order. How many people have called her that? Twenty? Ten? One? None? It’s an easy claim to make, impossible to disprove.
“My friend and I, who also wears a scarf, we took our time to explain to them that our religion does not motivate or promote violence,” Mohamed said, “and that we’re a religion of peace.”
In other words, Nisaa Mohamed and her friend “took [their] time” to misinform — more exactly, to lie — about Islam, to Unbelievers. It’s not credible that she can truly believe “that our religion does not motivate or promote violence.” The Qur’an is full of violence. Nisaa Mohamed is 16, and presumably by now has read the Qur’an, and if she did, she can hardly avoid having come across at least some of the 109 verses that command Muslims to wage violent Jihad against Unbelievers. Did such verses as 2:191-193, 2:216, 3:151, 4:7, 4:89, 812, 8:60, 9:5, 9:29, 47:4, for example, make no impression on her? What did she think “Fighting is prescribed for you” (2:216) meant? Or “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers’’ (3:151)? Or “Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight in the cause of Satan” (4:76)? Or “(Remember) when your Lord inspired the angels… ‘I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them'” (8:12)? Or the Verse of the Sword, that tells Believers “when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.” (9:5). Even just one of those verses, and there are 109 verses of that ilk, would have been sufficient to show that Islam — the Qur’an — “motivates and promotes violence.” Either Nisaa Mohamed is practicing her taqiyya, or she has no idea what is in the Qur’an. I know which explanation I find more plausible.
Like Mohamed, Ameen Parks is one of the only [sic] Muslims at his Connecticut high school. He tries to be a good ambassador for his faith, he said — just like he’s been taught in Sunday school. But when an incident involving Muslims happens out in the world, he hears the stereotypes and racist jokes.
An “incident involving Muslims” means, for the less demure, “when there is a Muslim terrorist attack.” And what are those terrible, quite baseless “stereotypes” he hears? Something to do, perhaps, with Muslims and terrorism? Now why would any decent person make that connection? Could those 35,000 terrorist attacks since9/11 have something to do with it?As for “racist jokes,” Ameen Parks is, like so many Muslims, deliberately confusing a faith with a race, but by now it is impossible for that obvious point to be accepted.
“I try to clear things up,” Parks said. “But a lot of people you just can’t change. They’re really stubborn.”
How does Ameen Parks “clear things up”? Does he emulate his classmate Nisaa Mohamed and roundly declare, with as much fabricated sincerity as he can manage, that Islam does “not provoke or promote violence” of any kind; that the terrorists in question could not, therefore, be “real Muslims” and thus it’s “case closed,” except for the islamophobes and anti-Muslim racists whose minds are permanently made up — “a lot of people you just can’t change…they’re really stubborn”? Could it be that ever more people, mugged by the Muslim reality, are no longer willing to give Islam a pass, and to pretend that “extremists” who “have nothing to do with the real Islam” are behind all this explosion of terrorism? If they now are “stubborn,” it is because they are tired of having been misled by Muslim apologists for so long, have conducted their own investigation of what the Qur’an inculcates and, properly informed, are now “stubborn” in their newfound, appalled understanding.
First published in Jihad Watch here, here and here.
Posted on 09/23/2019 6:04 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 22 September 2019
In St. Cloud, Minnesota: “I Don’t Mean To Offend You, But…”
by Hugh Fitzgerald
With a cautionary event on surrendering to Islam just canceled, here yet again is the kind of event that never gets canceled, one more variant on the theme of Ask-A-Muslim-Anything, this one from some months ago, chosen more or less at random. Same old same old, as sweeping back the tide of taqiyya is part of the Infidel Man’s Burden. Besides, according to the organizer of this event, a certain Pastor John Gabrielson of the Atonement Lutheran Church, we’re all just folks. Muslim folks. Non-Muslim folks. Pull up a chair and set a spell, and listen in as our four Muslim panelists are asked all about Islam.
The complete report on the evening is here.
Once again, people will have a chance to ask their questions about Islam directly to their Muslim neighbors.
#UnitedCloud and Atonement Lutheran Church are hosting another installment of “I don’t mean to offend you, but …”
The series features a panel of Muslim speakers, ready and willing to answer questions about Islam, and for some panelists, [about] the Somali community.
John Gabrielson, pastor at Atonement for the past few years, said he thinks the event is timely considering the atmosphere in St. Cloud in recent years.
“Looking at the atmosphere of the city and the greater St. Cloud area and … the tensions that we’ve had here, it just seems like a timely thing to give people a chance to have questions asked and answered, and to get to meet their neighbors and share a meal and know each other,” Gabrielson said.
“The tensions that we’ve had here” — and what might have caused those tensions? Might the Muslim terrorist attack in St. Cloud, in which ten people were stabbed just three years ago, have had something to do with causing those tensions?
He said one conversation can make a difference.
“I think that makes it a lot easier for us to function as a ‘we’ than an ‘us’ and a ‘they.’ ” Gabrielson said.
How does Pastor Gabrielson propose to persuade Muslims and non-Muslims to function as a “we” when the immutable Qur’an is already so full of distinctions between “us” (the Muslims) and “they” (the non-Muslims)? How does the good pastor hope to persuade his Muslim neighbors to ignore the 109 verses that command them to wage Jihad against the Unbelievers? How can he hope to convince them to ignore the Qur’anic verses describing the Muslims as “the best of peoples” (3:110) and the non-Muslims as “the most vile of creatures ” (98:6)? Does he know about the verse that instructs Muslims not to take Christians and Jews as friends, “for they are friends only with each other” (5:51)? I suspect he is entirely unaware of all of these verses, that he has been relying on friendly Muslims for his own knowledge of Islam, and hasn’t felt the need to read and study the Qur’an himself. Due diligence, Pastor Gabrielson! You owe it to your parishioners, and to yourself. Read the whole thing.
“Looking at the neighborhood we serve … there are a fair number of Muslim folks that are our neighbors now and that are living and working and raising their families right here,” Gabrielson said.
Just folks, Muslim folks, “living and working and raising their families,” like the rest of us folks, with the same hopes and dreams and worries and sorrows. Except not quite. One of these Somali folks, Dahir Adan, stabbed ten people on September 17, 2016, at the Crossroads Center shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota. As he stabbed his victims, he was shouting “Allahu akbar” — which means “My God is the greatest, is greater than yours,” and is often used as a supremacist war cry. He took care to ask several people if they were Muslims before stabbing those who answered no. And the day after that terrorist attack by a Somali Muslim, the leaders of Minnesota’s Somali-American community held a joint news conference in St. Cloud, where they expressed concern not at the attack, as one might have hoped but, rather, at the rise of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment in response to the attack. There is a time and a place to feel sorry for oneself. This was not it.
Gabrielson said he hopes the conversation brings some understanding.
“I hope the folks who have questions have a chance to ask them, and the four panelists will have a chance to answer things directly, rather than having it just be rumor and innuendo,” Gabrielson said. “And that’s a beginning for folks, for some understanding and community building.”
He said the point is not to convert anyone to Christianity or Islam.
“The folks who have questions.” Ask those questions of our panelists. “That’s a beginning for folks.” The point was never to convert anyone but, as Pastor Gabrielson, a simple and well-meaning soul (who may remind some of Homer Simpson’s pious neighbor Ned Flanders), fails to realize, the four Muslim panelists have quite a different purpose than that of enlarging “understanding and community building.” They are intent on offering the Christians present a sanitized version of Islam, all the while pretending to provide a frank and candid look at their faith, with nothing held back and no holds barred, in order to put paid to all that “rumor and innuendo” about Islam. What kind of “rumor and innuendo”? Oh, that the Qur’an commands Muslims to wage violent Jihad and kill Infidels. That it commands Muslims to “strike terror” in the hearts of Infidels. That Muslims are taught to despise all non-Muslims. That Muhammad said “I have been made victorious through terror.” That he consummated his marriage to little Aisha when she was nine years old. Wild rumors! Crazy innuendo!
“I’m not interested in telling people how to think or what to think, but I would like them to have the opportunity to talk to each other face to face,” Gabrielson said.
He knows that not everybody is ready nor willing to come to an event like that.
“I can’t work with people who aren’t motivated,” Gabrielson said. “It’s their responsibility to be good citizens and neighbors. It’s not something that I can accomplish for them.”
“But the teams from his church and #UniteCloud, which have helped plan the event, have provided a chance for people to step out of their comfort zone.
“If those teams put this opportunity together for the folks who are interested and willing to make an investment of their time and of their energy, that’s worth it to me,” Gabrielson said.
And yet again, “folks.” Folks who are interested and willing to [invest] their time and energy…” Pastor Gabrielson is full of admiration for the “teams” — Muslims and non-Muslims — that “put this opportunity together,” so giving of their time and energy. But he appears to be scolding those non-Muslims who are not motivated to attend this event, to take advantage of this chance. In his view, those who don’t show up are not being good citizens and neighbors. The four Muslim panelists have gone out of their way to provide a forum where they can be asked the most difficult questions; it’s up to the non-Muslims to show that they care enough to “step out of their comfort zone” of “rumor and innuendo” and stereotyping of Muslims. They need to do their part, which is simply to ask away, even at the risk of offending the Muslim panelists, about Islam, and then to listen carefully to those panelists as they answer every question with deep sincerity and refreshing candor.
The session includes a panel, question-and-answer portion and a community meal. Up to 200 people can be served at the meal, but more can attend the panel session.
Gabrielson said the meal is an important part of the event. It’s catered by New York Gyro and will include halal food.
“I think it’s effective because people like to eat,” Gabrielson said. “Having dinner with somebody tends to break down some walls.”
But there’s also something about sharing a meal that’s universal.
“It also lets you sit down and have a little bit longer time to talk with somebody who’s not exactly you,” Gabrielson said. “They can have conversations with somebody who might have a different idea about refugee and immigrant resettlement in St. Cloud, about how we can be a peaceful and prosperous community for everybody’s who’s here.”
Food — especially free food — is a staple of these carefully staged interfaith events with Muslims. Usually it is food made by the Muslims themselves, and it serves as a useful emollient, leaving non-Muslim visitors both charmed by the exotic cuisine and grateful for the kindness shown by their hosts, offering this food. Visitors and hosts sit and break bread together, getting “to know each other as people.” Visitors are put at their ease when they realize, in these cozy interchanges over food, that Muslims are just like them, with families, mortgages, kids with after-school commitments, the same hopes and dreams — or so they are led to believe. Folks meeting with other folks. What could be better?
We can well imagine the kinds of conversations that, along with the food, establish that feeling of fellowship, friendship, and well-being.
“I’m sorry you folks didn’t have a chance to bring Hamed. But the gal who substituted for him on the panel was really great. And what a beautiful hijab! The whole evening has been really great. Eye-opening. Mind-expanding. To tell you the honest truth, I have learned things about Islam that I never could have guessed. I had no idea that Muhammad’s first wife was a businesswoman. Not just that, but he encouraged her in her chosen career path. I’m a small businesswoman myself — Pies By Priscilla — so that meant an awful lot to me. Muhammad was obviously a feminist. I’ve learned — we’ve all learned — so much. I would have loved to have gotten Hamed’s perspective. He’s still going to law school at night, isn’t he?”
“Yes, he’s in his last semester. He’s been asked by one of his professors to help write a brief for the Somali-American community. It’s a request that has been made go the School Board in St. Cloud, to provide prayer rooms in the schools, and to let Muslim students out of class twice during the school day to pray. If you’re interested, you can sign our on-line petition: [email protected]”
“Well, I don’t see why anyone should be against it. We don’t have enough religion in our schools as it is. I’m glad at least some folks are doing something about it. Sure I’ll sign it, and get some of the other folks to sign it, too.”
“I’m so glad you agree. You know, I have three children, two boys and one girl, in the school system, and they keep asking when are they going to get to pray in school. Imran is the older one, Tariq the younger one. They’re just regular kids, only Muslim. They really miss praying in school. They are both doing outreach, showing the other kids how they pray, why they turn to Mecca, what a good feeling they get. Imran keeps saying he wants to become a doctor. He wants to help his own people, back in Mogadishu. I think that’s great. But other places too, where Muslims need help, we have so many people trying to keep us down — you know, Palestine, Syria, Gaza. Tariq loves to build things. He says he might become an architect. No, try this with the basmati rice. I made the lamb curry. My daughter Noor helped with the deserts. Anyway, this year Tariq built a scale-model of Al-Aqsa Mosque for a school project. The teacher kept it on display for a month, and had him give a talk about Muhammad’s trip to the heavens from that mosque. The other kids were enthralled. They didn’t know about any of that. They didn’t know that Jerusalem, Al-Quds, is a Muslim holy city.
“How old? Noor is twelve. She used to say she wanted to be a journalist. But now she says she wants to become the first Muslim President. And wear a hijab in the White House! She was so excited about our Muslim Congresswoman, the one wearing the hijab, with the nice smile. We’re all so proud of her. We need more people in Washington with the Muslim perspective. That’s what Pastor Gabrielson said. He said that we’re really all just the same, except with different perspectives. He’s a very wise man. I was just thinking about how American we are. Last weekend we went apple-picking. You’ve never been? You should try it — my kids love it. Noor baked the apple pies I brought here tonight. I always tease her — “Noor’s as American as apple pie.” Yes, of course I’ll tell her. I’m glad you liked it. Remember to vote for her in a few decades!”
Unwary Infidels chat about this and that with friendly-faced Muslims who are well-versed in Taqiyya and Tu-Quoque, and just-folks neighborliness, who know exactly what they are doing. They are adept at offering a carefully sanitized Islam, or when the occasion warrants, avoiding certain difficult subjects by changing the subject altogether. Every possible cliche is offered by way of soothing summary. Folks are just folks, in every group there are some good and some bad. People are the same the whole world over. We need to realize how much we have in common. What better way to learn about Islam than by meeting and talking with real Muslims? So now, at events like these, the fear disappears, and you see that they are just like all the rest of us, with the same hopes and dreams, and everyday worries about jobs, and kids, and mortgages, and caring for their parents, and the direction this country is taking. And with all that palaver about “what unites us” at these Ask-A-Muslim–Anything, Open-Mosque Nights, I-Don’t-Mean-To-Offend, But…,” the actual contents of the Qur’an and Hadith never receive the attention they are due.
So why don’t we end with a list of twenty questions — they’ve been posted many times before at Jihad Watch — to ask those Muslim panelists who are sure they are ready for whatever questions you might have them in those “I don’t mean to offend you, but….” events.
#1. I hope you won’t mind if I offend you, I certainly don’t mean to but…do Muslims really believe those passages in the Quran that call them “the best of peoples” (3:110) and non-Muslims ‘the most vile of creatures”? What do you believe? Should we be worried?
#2. I’m definitely not out to offend you, but I keep wondering about that verse in the Qur’an that says “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). I’ve read online that many ex-Muslims who became Christians or atheists are afraid to let other Muslims, even their own families, know. Is that true? Are Muslims permitted to change their religion without any consequences? Do non-Muslims in any way feel “compelled” to change their religion? Why did tens of millions of Hindus convert to Islam? Did they just find Islam more appealing?
#3. I’m not trying to annoy any of you, and I’m sure you are as horrified as I am, but why did so many Muslims want to see Asia Bibi executed? Hundreds of thousands of people protested in Pakistan when she was acquitted of blasphemy and released. They tried to find her and kill her. What did she say about Muhammad that made them think she deserved death? Didn’t the Supreme Court in Pakistan acquit her? What punishment do you think she deserves?
#4. Okay, here’s one that’s really been puzzling me. There is a Qur’anic verse that tells Muslims not to take Christians and Jews as friends, “for they are friends only with each other.” Do you think many Muslims still believe that? I mean, we’re here tonight, and we’ve been invited to meet with you, and you look pretty friendly to me. So what gives? Shouldn’t that verse be deleted from the Qur’an?
#5. What should we make of those verses, such as 8:12, in which Allah says that “I will instill terror in the hearts of the Unbelievers.” And I’ve read online a half-dozen other verses about instilling terror in the hearts — practically the identical words — of the Unbelievers. Obviously I know the vast majority of Muslims have nothing to do with any of that. So my question is: “How do you, the peaceful Muslims, stop those crazies in the Islamic State and similar places from taking these verses literally, as they obviously do?”
#6. As a woman, I was really taken aback by that verse — I wrote it down, it’s 4:34 — that says a Muslim man may “beat” his wife if she is disobedient. Is that still the case, or have Muslims decided to ignore that verse? What kinds of behavior by the wife would trigger such punishment? And who decides how hard a man can beat his wife? I don’t want to offend you, but I have to admit that I’m still shocked. I hope something can be done about that verse. Are there any plans to produce a new edition of the Qur’an, with that kind of verse left out? I mean, we have many different editions of the Bible, such as the New English Bible and the King James Bible, so why not do the same with the Qur’an? How hard would that be?
#7. There are many verses in the Qur’an which, I’ve read, command Muslims to fight and kill Infidels until they submit, such as 9:29: “Fight against those who do not obey Allah and do not believe in Allah or the Last Day and do not forbid what has been forbidden by Allah and His messenger, even if they are of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.”� Could you discuss what the Jizyah was, or maybe still is, how burdensome it was, and what happened if non-Muslims couldn’t pay it?
#8. Aside from payment of the Jizyah, could you discuss what requirements are — or were — made on non-Muslims in Muslim societies? When those requirements ceased to be imposed? Is it true that Christians and Jews had to wear differently colored identifying marks on their clothing and on their dwellings? What was that all about?
#9. I don’t want to offend, I really truly don’t, but I’ve read in many places that Muhammad married his last wife, Aisha, when she was six years old, and consummated the marriage — we all know what that means — when he was 54, and she was nine years old. I find that unbelievable. And I also found out that Ayatollah Khomeini, who married his own wife when she was ten years old, succeeded in amending the Civil Code of Iran in 1982, so that the marriageable age for girls was reduced to nine years, emulating the example of Aisha. My question is: what is going on? Can any of this be real? I simply don’t believe it. Please explain.
#10. Could you discuss what “honor killings” are? And why do you think 91% of the world’s “honor killings” are committed by Muslims? Do you think polygamy should be outlawed in Muslim countries? What about for Muslims living in the West?
#11. I don’t mean to offend, but…I’ve wanted to ask this question for quite a while. It means a lot to me. My son-in-law has Jewish relatives who live in France, and they are quite worried. I would like your comments on the letter made public on April 21, 2018, which was signed by several hundred French notables, including former president Nicolas Sarkozy, a former prime minister, Manuel Valls, a famous singer, Charles Aznavour, a celebrated actor, Gerard Depardieu, and many others. And it was also signed by several well-known Muslim leaders and bloggers, including the philosemitic imam of the Drancy mosque, Hassan Chalghoumi.
The letter was prompted by the murders around that time of Jews in France by Muslims, including two elderly women. It asked Muslims to “make obsolete” certain verses in the Qur’an that call for violence, which those who signed the letter believe encouraged antisemitic acts. Do you think that is a reasonable request to have made? Many Muslim leaders were outraged. What do you think? How would you handle the violent verses in the Qur’an?
#12. There are a lot of reasons for thinking women are not equal to men in Islam. But I’d really like your opinion on specifics. My women’s group has been studying what is in the Qur’an, and Hadith, about women. Please correct me if I’m wrong but this is what we concluded. We learned that Muslim women inherit only half as much as men (Qur’an 4:11); that their testimony is worth half that of a man (2:282); that polygamy is allowed (Muhammad allowed himself about — I’m not exactly sure, but I think he had about ten wives, and also some female slaves, which I think he may have slept with, I’m not sure about that. I still can’t quite believe all of it. But as far as I now understand, a Muslim man is allowed to beat his disobedient wife, though “lightly.” A Muslim man need only pronounce the Arabic word “talaq” three times to divorce his wife. Women are described in the Qur’an as inferior to men, for “the men are a degree above them” (2:228); and in the hadith, in Sahih Bukhari (6:301), “[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man? They replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This [is because of] the deficiency in her intelligence.'” What do you think of these examples of misogynuy? Can anything be done to change these quotes, to toss them out, to get rid of them? How can we non-Muslims help Muslims — obviously not any of you — to get beyond these passages, and bring about real equality of the sexes in Islam?
#13. I don’t mean to offend, but…I represent the LGBQT community at my university, and I have prepared a fairly lengthy question about Islam and homosexuality. I’ve been very concerned with some of the photographs coming out of Muslim countries. I have seen pictures of homosexuals who were hung from cranes in Iran, and heard of others who were decapitated in Saudi Arabia, and saw the Islamic State videos of homosexuals being thrown off of tall buildings. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the Qur’an contains unambiguous condemnations of homosexual activity. There’s Allah, in the Qur’an, describing how to punish such people: “And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, ‘Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.’…And We rained upon them a rain [of stones]. Then see how was the end of the criminals.” (7:80-84)
That was Allah speaking about a “rain [of stones],” that is, lapidation. And Muhammad speaks of execution as the punishment for homosexual behavior in a hadith: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘Whoever you find doing the action of the people of Lot, execute the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.’” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4462). He is reported to have said that he feared homosexuality among his followers more than anything else: “It was narrated that Jabir: “The Prophet said: ‘There is nothing I fear for my followers more than the deed of the people of Lot.’”— Al-Tirmidhi: 1457, Ibn Maajah: 2563
This terrifies me. And many Muslims worldwide apparently agree that we should be punished. It’s not just the death penalty. Even in Muslim countries where the death penalty is not inflicted, the treatment of homosexuals can be unusually cruel. In Egypt, for example, the police troll for homosexuals online, using personal ads, then arrest anyone who answers. Some of those they trap have been given five-year prison sentences, and according to Human Rights Watch, some have been — and I quote — “whipped, bound and suspended in painful positions, splashed with cold water, burned with cigarettes, shocked with electricity to the limbs, genitals or tongue.”
Muslim clerics from Morocco to Qatar to Indonesia have denounced homosexual behavior. In 2016, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association listed the 12 countries where same-sex sexual acts are punishable by death: Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Mauritania, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, the UAE, and Iraq. 11 of the 12 are Muslim states, and the 12th, Nigeria, is more than half Muslim. In another dozen states, all of them Muslim, homosexual acts are severely punished, though with prison and flogging, rather than capital punishment.
So I put the question to all of the panelists: what can or should be done to make homosexuality legal in Muslim countries? Or at least, how can we just be left alone? Help me to understand what we in the LGBTQ community can do to protect ourselves or to change Muslim minds. We now have same-sex marriage in the United States. Forty years ago, even thirty or twenty, that would have been unthinkable. But now it’s accepted, and protected. Why can’t something of the same be done in Muslim countries? It might take a little bit longer, but still…Anyway, I’d love to hear your opinion about this.
#14. There have been a few mosques opened in the West — I’ve read about the one in Berlin here men and women now pray side by side. Do you think that’s a change that should be widely adopted, or is there some good reason to keep the sexes apart when they pray?
#15. We often here that Islam is the “world’s fastest-growing religion.” At the same time, the fastest-growing religion in the Islamic Republic of Iran is Christianity. Could you comment on both those trends?
#16. It was not until 1962 that Saudi Arabia finally abolished slavery, under heavy Western pressure. In the same year, Yemen also abolished slavery, and Oman did so in 1970. In Mauritania, slavery kept being abolished — in 1905, 1961, and 1981 — because people ignored the prohibition. It was finally criminalized in August 2007. But even with that, there are still at least 100,000 black African slaves of Muslim Arab masters in Mauritania, at least 200,000 African slaves with Arab masters in Mali, and another 600,000-800,000 slaves in Niger. Could you explain why slavery lasted so much longer in the Muslim lands than elsewhere? Is it more legitimate because Muhammad himself was a slave-owner? Or was there some other reason?
#17. Namaste. I happen to be the only Hindu here tonight. I grew up in Mumbai, before coming to graduate school here, and I have a question that is very specific. I wonder if any of the panelists could comment on the fact that at the time of Partition in 1947, 23% of the population of West Pakistan was Hindu, and now it has declined to 2-3%, and in East Pakistan in 1947, 15% of the population was Hindu and today, in what is now called Bangladesh, is 8%, While the Hindu population has gone down precipitously in Pakistan and Bangladesh, the Muslim population of India has gone from 9%, or 34 million, in the 1951 census to 180 million, or 14.5% of the population today. Why do you think the Hindu population has declined in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and the Muslim population gone up fivefold in India?
#18. I don’t mean to offend, but…I wonder if you have ever asked yourself why there have been so few Nobel Prizes in the sciences won by Muslims. There have been only three, and one of them was to Abdus Salam, an Ahmadi whose own government says is not a real Muslim. So maybe there are only two. Some people argue that Islam encourages a habit of mental submission, instead of the habit of critical inquiry, and that this discourages the questioning and skeptical spirit that the pursuit of science requires. Do you think there is any truth to that? Or is there some other reason that explains the paucity of Nobel Prizes in science for Muslims?
#19. I don’t mean to offend, but would it be okay if I ask the panelists about FGM, female genital mutilation? I’m in the middle of writing about it for my Gov class. I can go ahead? Okay. I’m just curious about a case that recently was brought in a federal court in Michigan. There were eight defendants — two doctors and six others, including several sets of parents. They were being prosecuted for participating in, I think, about ten cases of FGM. In 1996, the Federal government passed a law banning FGM. But the judge in this case said that Congress lacked the authority to ban FGM under the Commerce Clause, and that the law was unconstitutional. He did say that individual states could still ban it. My question is not about the American Constitution, and Section 8 of the Commerce Clause. What I want to know is this: were the doctors and parents in this case right to claim that FGM is mandated by Islam, so banning it might violate the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment, or are those people who say that FGM is only a “cultural” practice, and Islam has nothing to do with it, correct?
#20. Well, you all know me. I’m Pastor Gabrielson, I’ve been given the great privilege of asking the last question. And the even greater privilege of expressing our gratitude. I know I speak for all of the folks here tonight in thanking our four panelists for a great evening. We’ve all learned so much. I have just one final question — we promised to limit ourselves to twenty questions. And some of those previous questions were pretty long. So I’ll try to make mine short. Obviously our distinguished panelists have seen for themselves tonight how eager folks here are to learn, directly from them, about their faith. And judging by tonight’s success, we’re going to have many more such gatherings.
I just have one simple question. I was wondering if Christians in Muslim lands ever put on similar events to explain Christianity to Muslims? Don’t you think that would help clear up many misunderstandings folks in Muslim countries might have about us? Or even here, in America, I’m sure many Muslims would like to ask questions about Christianity. Not to convert or anything – just to try to understand. I’d be glad to get involved in that kind of person-to-person outreach. So I wonder what you think of this idea, and how we might get started, with Muslim folks here and abroad. Any suggestions?
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 09/22/2019 3:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 21 September 2019
Bernie Sanders at the Islamic Society of North America
by Hugh Fitzgerald
The organizers of the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) convention, held in Houston at the end of August, had invited all the Democratic candidates for President to address them. It was a great disappointment to the group – which would prefer that the public not be reminded that it remains an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land case – that of the 15-odd Democrats invited, only two, Bernie Sanders and Julián Castro, accepted the invitation. And of those two, Sanders received the greater media attention and audience applause.
Sanders was indignant about the “bigotry” he claimed was abroad in the land: “We must speak out at hate crimes and violence targeted at the Muslim community and call it what it is: domestic terrorism.” Apparently the hate crimes and violence aimed at non-Muslims by Muslims, domestic terrorism which has been far more deadly than “hate crimes” targeting Muslims, were of little concern to Senator Sanders. He never mentioned, nor alluded to, “hate crimes and violence” aimed at non-Muslims. Perhaps he needs to be reminded of what has happened in this country in recent years. Has he forgotten about the Muslim terrorist attacks, not just in New York and Washington on 9/11/2001, but subsequently, in Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, in Fort Hood, Little Rock, Orlando, San Bernardino, Chattanooga, Chapel Hill, Arlington, Virginia, Garland, Texas? Could Senator Sanders have forgotten all about these Muslim terrorists who have so often set the country on edge? He has been so determined to see Muslims as victims that he apparently is unable to recognize their role as perpetrators of terrorist attacks.
Sanders gave over much of his speech to matters of general, not Muslim-specific, interest. He’s against climate change. He thinks health care “is a human right.” He wants the “billionaire class” to pay their “fair share of taxes.” He wants to “cancel all student debt.” He wants public colleges to be tuition free. “Bold leadership must take bold action.” And so on and so predictably forth. He might have made those banal points anywhere. Then, having delivered the left-liberal boilerplate, he had some tailor-made messages of support sure to win favor with the Islamic Society of North America.
First, Sanders declared he was against Trump’s “Muslim ban” and was proud, he said, when thousands of non-Muslim Americans “rushed to airports” to show their solidarity with Muslims harmed by the ban. Sanders said nothing about the non-Muslim countries – North Korea, Venezuela – included in the ban, nor about the fact that the ban was directed only at countries that were unable or unwilling to share certain information about their citizens with the American government, thereby posing a security threat. He said nothing about why Trump’s security measure had been upheld by the Supreme Court in Hawaii v. Trump. Nor did he mention that two Muslim countries – Iraq and Chad – had been dropped from the list of countries whose citizens were banned, once they improved their collection and sharing of information about those citizens. Most telling of all, 95% of the world’s Muslims remained unaffected by what some, including Sanders, continue misleadingly to call a “Muslim ban.” Sanders did not want to complicate his simple-minded morality tale of Trumpian “bigotry.”
He kept addressing his Muslim audience, cloyingly, as his “brothers and sisters.” I wonder if, in addressing an audience of Catholics, or of Evangelicals, or even of fellow Jews, he would call them “brothers and sisters.” I suspect not. And how many of the 7,000 in his ISNA audience could possibly think of the Jewish senator as their “brother”?
Sanders told the audience that he was “the proud son of Jewish parents.” His father, he told the audience, left Poland to escape poverty and antisemitism. It would be fascinating to find out what Senator Sanders knows about present-day antisemitism in Europe, and who today are the main carriers of that pathological condition. Does he know why Jews are fearful of wearing yarmulkes in many European capitals? Does he know why Jews have been leaving Malmö, in Sweden, moving out of certain neighborhoods in Paris and London, some even leaving Europe altogether, for reasons of safety, to make Aliyah to Israel? Does he know how many Jews have been set upon, harassed, and beaten, by Muslims all over Western Europe? Does he know about the more than a dozen Jews murdered by Muslims in France, including small children shot in front of their father (before he was then killed) outside a Jewish school, and two elderly women stabbed to death in separate incidents, one of them then set on fire and the other thrown out of a window, by Muslim neighbors they had befriended? It seems that Bernie Sanders hasn’t been following the news about antisemitism in Europe. He should look into it. It might provide a salutary shock.
Bernie Sanders could stand to learn more about the Muslim terrorists in Europe, who have murdered non-Muslims in attacks in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris (many times), Nice, Toulouse, Tours, St. Etienne-du-Rouvray, London (many times), Manchester, Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Malmö, Helsinki, Turku, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Beslan. Those attacks should make a deep impression, even on the likes of Bernie Sanders. And what would he make of the fact that Muslim terrorists have been responsible for more than 35,000 terror attacks around the world since 9/11? Anything? Nothing?
Sanders almost certainly does not know what the Qur’an says about Jews – indeed, I suspect he’s never read the Qur’an — but it’s not too late for him to find out. There are several dozen verses instructing Muslims on the topic. Robert Spencer has gathered them for easy reference: “The Qur’an depicts the Jews as inveterately evil and bent on destroying the wellbeing of the Muslims. They are the strongest of all people in enmity toward the Muslims (5:82); as fabricating things and falsely ascribing them to Allah (2:79; 3:75, 3:181); claiming that Allah’s power is limited (5:64); loving to listen to lies (5:41); disobeying Allah and never observing his commands (5:13); disputing and quarreling (2:247); hiding the truth and misleading people (3:78); staging rebellion against the prophets and rejecting their guidance (2:55); being hypocritical (2:14, 2:44); giving preference to their own interests over the teachings of Muhammad (2:87); wishing evil for people and trying to mislead them (2:109); feeling pain when others are happy or fortunate (3:120); being arrogant about their being Allah’s beloved people (5:18); devouring people’s wealth by subterfuge (4:161); slandering the true religion and being cursed by Allah (4:46); killing the prophets (2:61); being merciless and heartless (2:74); never keeping their promises or fulfilling their words (2:100); being unrestrained in committing sins (5:79); being cowardly (59:13-14); being miserly (4:53); being transformed into apes and pigs for breaking the Sabbath (2:63-65; 5:59-60; 7:166); and more.”
The classic Qur’anic commentators do not mitigate the Qur’an’s words against Jews, but only add fuel to the fire. Ibn Kathir explained Qur’an 2:61 (‘They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah’) this way: “This Ayah [verse] indicates that the Children of Israel were plagued with humiliation, and that this will continue, meaning that it will never cease. They will continue to suffer humiliation at the hands of all who interact with them, along with the disgrace that they feel inwardly.” Another Middle Ages commentator of lingering influence, Abdallah ibn Umar al-Baidawi, explains the same verse this way: “The Jews are mostly humiliated and wretched either of their own accord, or out of the fear of having their jizya [punitive tax] doubled.”
Ibn Kathir notes Islamic traditions that predict that at the end of the world, “the Jews will support the Dajjal (False Messiah), and the Muslims, along with ‘Isa [Jesus], son of Mary, will kill the Jews.” The idea in Islam that the end times will be marked by Muslims killing Jews comes from the prophet Muhammad himself, who said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say. ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’” This is, not unexpectedly, a favorite motif among contemporary jihadists.
Many people in the Houston audience certainly would have known what the Qur’an has to say about Jews. I am sure Faiz Shakir, Sanders’ campaign manager, who introduced him so fulsomely in Houston, knows some, and possibly a great many, of these Qur’anic passages. And Muslims in the ISNA audience, too, would have known not just the verses specifically about Jews, but also the Qur’anic verse that tells Muslims that they are “the best of peoples” (3:110) and the other verse that describes non-Muslims as the “most vile of created beings” (98:6). But no one is about to bring these passages to Sanders’ attention; they would only discomfit him; he wouldn’t know what to think. Better to keep him in the dark. And that’s where, on the subject of Islam, by not reading the Qur’an and Hadith, Bernie Sanders has chosen to remain.
Eventually, having discussed income inequality, and global warming, and health care as a human right, and cancelling all student debt and making the “billionaire class” pay their “fair share of taxes,” Bernie Sanders gave the members of the Islamic Society of North America just what they wanted to hear. He denounced Trump for once saying that “Islam hates us.” There are many people other than Donald Trump who believe that Islam hates us. They are not all right-wing white nationalists. The famously left-wing Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci believed, from her extensive dealings with them, that Muslims were taught to hate non-Muslims. The ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali has described being raised in a society where people were taught to hate Infidels. Trump carefully did not say that “all Muslims hate us.” He was referring to an ideology, Islam, and not to the human beings, Muslims, who may accept, or reject, in whole or in part, what the Qur’an inculcates about non-Muslims. Some Muslims clearly do not hate all non-Muslims, do not wish to “fight” and to “kill” them, to “smite at their necks” and “strike terror in their hearts,” as the Qur’an instructs. But many Muslims around the world clearly do. The existence of “moderate Muslims” does not vitiate the claim that “Islam hates us.” We have only to read the Qur’an and some of the most celebrated hadith to come to that melancholy conclusion. One wonders if Bernie Sanders will ever take the time to read the Qur’an, or will he instead remain happily secure within his complacent ignorance, convinced that “of course” Islam, like all religions, must be based on the principles of “justice, compassion, and tolerance.” Doesn’t his own campaign manager, Faiz Shakir, demonstrate those very principles in his dealings with his Jewish employer and friend, Bernie Sanders? And surely, Sanders assumes, Faiz must be a representative, rather than an exceptional, Muslim.
Sanders told his audience that because of Trump, many more Muslims ran for office and won elections in 2018. Is this true? There were two Muslim members of Congress before 2018; now there are three, a gain of exactly one. There does not appear to have been any discernible increase in the number of Muslims elected at the state or local level. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar have simply attracted a great deal of attention as Muslim politicians, and made them seem more numerous and significant than in fact they are. Muslims are 1.1% of the American population; they constitute 0% of the Senate, 0.75% of the House, 0% of the Governors. Sanders needs to look again at the results of the 2018 election before making these psephological gaffes.
Muslims in America and around the world are being unjustly tarred, Sanders insisted, with the brush of “terrorism.” Could the association of Muslims with terrorism have anything to do with the more than 35,000 terrorist attacks by Muslims since 9/11? Could it have anything to do with the existence of such groups of Islamic terrorists as Al-Qaeda, Islamic State, Boko Haram, Abu Sayyaf, Al Nusra Front, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al Shebaab, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad? How much Islamic reality does Bernie Sanders expect us to ignore?
Sanders told his Houston audience that he deplored the rise of authoritarian rulers, which he appeared, confusedly and unfairly, to blame on the West. But he left out aspects of recent history: some of the worst despots in the Islamic world have been eliminated, often with the indispensable help of the Western powers. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein, a sadistic monster, was deposed by the American military. Should we be apologetic for that? Would Sanders prefer that Saddam Hussein were still ruling over Iraq? in Libya, Muammar Qaddafi was removed – killed – by Libyans who had received critical military assistance from NATO, including naval bombardments by American and British ships, and aerial bombings by the French, of Qaddafi’s forces. Was his removal to be deplored? Other authoritarians, like the massively corrupt Ben Ali in Tunisia, were chased out of office by opponents, many of whom – like the technocrat Mohamed Ghannouchi — had been raised in a Franco-Tunisian intellectual milieu, with Western democratic ideals. Ben Ali and his wife grabbed 1.5 tons of government gold and managed to flee to Saudi Arabia, which had always supported Ben Ali and has refused to extradite him. It’s not the West that should be embarrassed about Ben Ali, but the Saudis.
Authoritarianism, whose “rise” Sanders deplores, is nothing new in the Islamic world; the West is not to be blamed. It is the default political system for Islam. In the advanced democratic West, a government’s legitimacy is judged by how well it reflects the will of the people, however imperfectly expressed through elections. In the lands of Islam, a ruler’s legitimacy is judged by how well he reflects the will of Allah, as expressed in the Qur’an. As long as he remains a good Muslim, a despot must be obeyed. The ruling families of the Arab Gulf — the Al-Saud, the Al-Maktoum, the Al-Nahyan, the Al-Khalifa, the Al-Said, the Al-Mualla, Al-Nuaimi, Al-Qasimi, Al-Sabah, Al-Sharqi, Al-Thani – are all authoritarians, but they profit from the legitimacy of being considered good Muslims. They lavish their support on influential clerics; the clerics, in turn, provide their imprimatur to the rulers.
One form of authoritarianism, monarchy, was replaced in Iran by another form, theocracy, when the Shah fled and the Ayatollah Khomeini took his place as Absolute Leader. In Pakistan, a pseudo-democracy has disguised a series of authoritarian rulers, mostly military men, some more (such as General Zia ul-Haq) and some less (such as the politician Zulfikar Ali Bhutto) fervent in their Islamic faith. In Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become increasingly authoritarian, having exploited the failed July 2016 coup attempt as an excuse to imprison thousands of his political enemies, including many journalists, and to cause many others to lose their employment — as judges, lawyers, teachers, civil servants of every type — with the government. Erdogan has even built himself a 1,500-room palace, as befits the Ottoman Sultan he would no doubt like to be. Neither in Iran, nor in Pakistan, nor in Turkey, has the West been responsible for these authoritarian regimes. They are home grown. Sanders’ attempt to blame the Americans for this “rise in authoritarianism” is distinctly unfair. The Americans did not help put the Pakistani rulers in office. Nor did they promote or support Erdogan, who has always been anti-American and has become ever more so as he foresees a military contest “between the crescent and the cross.” Nor can the Americans be blamed for the seizure of power by the fanatically anti-American Khomeini in Iran. The Americans are to be faulted only for a naïve faith in the universal appeal of democracy. They tried, with a colossal investment in men and money, to install real democracy in Iraq; the failure of that attempt should be blamed not on America for trying, but on the Iraqis themselves for being so unwilling to compromise through electoral politics. The minority Sunnis in Iraq refuse to acquiesce in their loss of political and economic power when Saddam fell; the majority Shi’a are unwilling to relinquish any of the power that devolved to them when Hussein’s Sunni rule ended.
Sanders blames America for the rise of ISIS. He didn’t explain this in his Houston speech, but presumably he means that Saddam Hussein had been sufficiently ruthless to suppress the most fanatical Muslims and should not have been overthrown. It was only in the chaos that followed his downfall that ISIS managed to fill the power vacuum in northern Iraq, and from there enlarge the Islamic State to control more of Iraq, including the key city of Mosul, and eastern Syria as well. Should the Americans have foreseen the rise of ISIS? Why? It was an unprecedented phenomenon, an attempt by fanatics to set up what they called a “caliphate” where life would be lived strictly according to the laws of the earliest Muslims. If the Arabs and Muslims could not have predicted the rise of ISIS, why should the Americans be criticized for failing to do so? Sanders might have told his audience the truth: “We went to Iraq with good intentions. We saw Saddam Hussein – correctly – as a monster of oppression and murder. He killed 182,000 Kurds in order to “Arabize” the Kurdish lands. He killed hundreds of thousands of Shi’a Iraqis to maintain the supremacy of his fellow Sunnis. But we underestimated the difficulty of transplanting democracy. It is a plant that requires long nurturing, and in our naïve enthusiasm we failed to realize that. We aimed too high. An enlightened authoritarian might have been the proper goal, as a political way-station on the path to a future democracy.” He might have; it would have been salutary; he chose to stick instead to the script his audience favored: Muslims always as victims.
Bernie Sanders seems, however, to be determined to make the same mistakes that the Americans made in Iraq. He claims that “I will make the promotion of democracy and human rights a priority for the USA.” How does he hope to plant democracy in the stony soil of Islam? Where has a true “democracy” ever been successfully established, for the long term, in any Muslim country? As for “human rights,” how does Sanders hope to have women and minorities treated equally in Muslim countries, given what is said about women and non-Muslims in the Qur’an and Hadith?
Sanders was indignant about India’s action in Kashmir, in abrogating Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which had given the Kashmiris a high degree of autonomy. He claimed that “India’s action is unacceptable…The U.S. government must speak out boldly….in support of a U.N.-backed resolution that respects the will of the Kashmiri people.”
What “Kashmiri people” is he talking about? Does he mean to include the 300,000-600,000 Hindus (the “Pandits”) who were killed or fled Kashmir since 1990? Are they part of the “Kashmiri people” or does that phrase, for Sanders, only refer to the 96.4% of the population that is Muslim, now that so many Hindus have fled? Shouldn’t the hundreds of thousands of Hindus who were indigenous to Kashmir, but fled Muslim persecution and murder, also be counted as part of the “Kashmiri people”? And what about the people in Jammu, which has administratively always been, with Kashmir, part of one state: Jammu-Kashmir, J&K? Two-thirds of the people in Jammu are Hindus. Shouldn’t they be counted as well, as part of the population of the newly-declared “Union territory” of “Jammu and Kashmir”?
Sanders has no understanding of what the Hindus of Kashmir have endured over the past 30 years. He thinks that the Muslims can justly claim to be the only “Kashmiri people” who count. Can Sanders really be unaware of the fate of the Kashmiri Pandits? Yes, I think he can; worse still, he assumes he is well-informed about the matter. Perhaps his campaign manager Faiz Shakir has provided him with a potted Muslim history of Kashmir. And what does Sanders know about Muslim terror attacks inside India? Does he know how many of those attacks were carried out by Pakistan-based terrorists? He fails to mention the role of Pakistan, for example, in supporting the terrorists who struck Mumbai in 2008, killing 166 people. Did he notice that just the day before he gave his Houston speech, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, becoming more hysterical every day, threatened to use nuclear weapons against India if the situation in Kashmir was not resolved to his liking? Shouldn’t Sanders have mentioned that astounding threat, or was he so dead set on taking the Muslim side, for that ISNA audience, that he wouldn’t admit to anything that might give others pause about Pakistan?
Bernie Sanders finally came to the subject his audience was most keen to hear about: Israel. Sanders first offered the usual bland pro forma reassurances, to show he was nothing if not fair-minded: “I am a strong supporter of the right of Israel to exist in independence, peace, and security.” How nice. He supports Israel’s right to exist. Should supporters of Israel be grateful? What other country has to be grateful when assured that it has a right to exist? And as an independent state? And in peace? Goodness, what more could any nation want? And security? My, what concessions.
Then came the take-away, in every sense: “But I also believe that the United States needs to engage in an even-handed approach toward that longstanding conflict which results in ending the Israeli occupation and enabling the Palestinian people to have self-determination in a sovereign, independent, economically-viable state of their own.”
What does Sanders mean by “Israeli occupation”? Not a single Israeli has been in Gaza since 2005. Almost all of them had left by 1997. Gaza isn’t “occupied.” What about the West Bank? Does Bernie Sanders know what was supposed to happen to the West Bank? It was assigned by the League of Nations to be part of the territory of the future Jewish National Home, that would eventually become the State of Israel. The Jordanian army managed to hold onto the West Bank when the guns stopped firing in 1949; that is the only reason the West Bank was not part of Israel from the very beginning of the state. Juridically, its status did not change: it was still part of the territory assigned to the Jewish National Home. The Jordanian occupation did not change that. In 1967, after the Six-Day War, Israel by force of arms came into possession of the West Bank. It could at long last enforce its preexisting claim to land that had been assigned to the Jews as part of the Mandate for Palestine.
Israel did not enforce that claim all at once. In the minds of some Israelis, even though they recognized that the state had a right to claim the entire West Bank, Israel might nonetheless want to give up some of that land if, by doing so, it could obtain a lasting peace. It soon became clear that the Arabs were not interested in anything less than a full withdrawal by Israel, back to the 1949 armistice lines. Israel then went ahead with its own plans, populating the area with Israelis, slowly building settlements that became villages that became cities, so that now there are 600,000 Jews living in what they have since Biblical times called “Judea and Samaria.” (The West Bank was a term concocted by Jordan in 1950 so as to avoid using the toponyms “Judea” and “Samaria.”) If Bernie Sanders thinks the Israeli “occupation” should “end,” then he must state clearly what that he means by that. I take it to mean that Bernie Sanders wants Israel to be forced back within the pre-1967 armistice lines, which Abba Eban famously called the “lines of Auschwitz,” with Israel only nine miles wide at its narrowest. And it means that he is willing to ignore – or he does not know — the provisions of the Mandate for Palestine itself.
Not only does Bernie Sanders likely not know the legal status of the West Bank according to the Palestine Mandate, but he likely is unaware of the other, entirely independent claim that Israel possesses to the West Bank. This claim is based on U.N. Resolution 242, which gave Israel the right to “secure and recognized boundaries.” According to the Resolution’s British author, Lord Caradon, “secure” boundaries meant borders that were “defensible.” According to Caradon, “the essential phrase which is not sufficiently recognized is that withdrawal should take place to secure and recognized boundaries, and these words were very carefully chosen: they have to be secure and they have to be recognized. They will not be secure unless they are recognized. And that is why one has to work for agreement. This is essential. I would defend absolutely what we did. It was not for us to lay down exactly where the border should be. I know the 1967 border very well. It is not a satisfactory border, it is where troops had to stop in 1947, just where they happened to be that night, that is not a permanent boundary… “
In a 1974 statement, Caradon said:
“It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of 4 June 1967. … That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them and I think we were right not to.”
Does Bernie Sanders understand what Israel has a right to claim, based on U.N. Resolution 242? Israel was not required to withdraw from “all” the territories it won in the Six-Day War, but only from “territories” – that is, some of the territories. This was heatedly discussed at the time; Arab delegates kept trying to insert the phrase “all the territories,” but were constantly rebuffed by Lord Caradon, who continued to insist that “withdrawal from [some] territories” was all that was required. Israel has relinquished the entire Sinai to Egypt, which constituted about 95% of the territory it won in June 1967; it has been argued that Israel has given back quite enough of “the territories” already – 95% of them — and need not give up any part of the West Bank. Israel could further argue that continued possession of the West Bank is essential to its “secure” – i.e., defensible – borders. Israel has to maintain control of the Jordan Valley and the heights of Judea, if it wants to secure the invasion routes from the East.
Bernie Sanders, then, does not understand that the West Bank was always meant to be included in the territory of the Mandate for Palestine, and is not “occupied” territory insofar as Israel is concerned (from 1949 to 1967 it was, in truth, “occupied” by Jordan). The League of Nations may have closed its doors, but by Article 70 of the U.N. Charter, the Mandate’s original provisions remained in force until the State of Israel was declared. This is something Bernie Sanders appears not to understand. Nor does he seem to know about Israel’s independent claim to much of the West Bank, based on U.N. Resolution 242.
There is another kind of knowledge that Sanders also lacks: a knowledge of Islam, and especially, an understanding of the doctrine of Jihad. For the Arab and Muslim war on Israel can only be grasped as a Jihad, that Muslims must continue, using various instruments, until the defeat of the Infidel. It’s a difficult and disturbing lesson to learn. It’s certainly not what Bernie Sanders at this point would allow himself to believe. But the best way to keep the peace, in such a conflict without end, is for Israel to rely on the same principle that served the United States so well during the Cold War: the principle of deterrence. That requires that Israel not only be a formidable adversary, but that it be readily seen to be a formidable adversary. To force Israel to yield still more territory, beyond what it has already given back, to squeeze it into something like the 1949 armistice lines that Lord Caradon dismissed, would be to deprive the Israelis of the full deterrent effect of their present borders. For now, Israel can maintain its security by having its eastern border along the Jordan River, but any withdrawal from that eastern border would diminish the effectiveness of its deterrence. Furthermore, Israel has to retain the Golan, as part of its effort to keep “secure” boundaries; the Golan looms forbiddingly over the northern part of the country; when Syria possessed it, the Syrians used the Golan to rain death down on Israeli farmers below; now that Israel has the Golan — which it annexed long ago, to near-total popular approval — it can threaten all of southern Syria.
Bernie Sanders thinks that a “peace agreement” will keep the peace between Arabs and Israelis. He has never heard of the Treaty of al-Hudaibiyya, which Mohammed made with the Meccans in 628 A.D. It was to have lasted ten years; after 18 months, feeling his side had grown sufficiently strong, Muhammad broke the treaty and attacked the Meccans. That Treaty of al-Hudaibiyya has ever since been taken by Muslims as an example to emulate. The principle of Western law since Roman times, that Pacta sunt servanda – “treaties are to be obeyed” – is not a principle Muslims observe in their treaties with Unbelievers. If the peace is to be kept between Israel and the Arabs, it must be through Israel’s deterrence, requiring both military superiority (of men and weapons), and control of strategic territory.
One last observation. Bernie Sanders several times mentions the “Palestinian people.” That’s something he needs to investigate. If he does, he will discover that neither before, nor during, nor for nearly twenty years after, the 1948-49 war, was there any mention of a “Palestinian people.” Nor will Sanders find any mention of them, by an Arab diplomat, in any of the U.N. records, until late in 1967. The “Palestinian people” were invented by public relations experts, with some help from the K.G.B., to make more palatable the Arab war against Israel. Instead of a conflict in which nearly 20 Arab states made war — military, economic, diplomatic — on tiny Israel, that war could be re-presented to the world as between “two tiny peoples, each struggling for a homeland.” The phrase, and the concept, caught on, and now it would be difficult to undo the widespread belief in a “Palestinian people.” But a moment’s thought might give Bernie Sanders pause: what are the features, whether of religion, language, ethnicity, or folklore, that distinguish the “Palestinian people” from the other Arabs, especially those just across the river in Jordan? There are no distinguishing characteristics to identify the “Palestinian people.” Bernie Sanders should commit to memory the famous admission by Zuheir Mohsen, in an interview he gave to the Dutch paper Trouw in 1977: “The Palestinian people do not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism. Yes, the existence of a separate Palestinian identity exists only for tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.” Zuheir Mohsen was no minor figure; he was the head of the Palestinian terror group As Saiqa. His words carry weight.
All we ask of Bernie Sanders is that he learn more about the history of what he calls, a tad too breezily, Israel’s “occupation.” Considering the life-and-death stakes for the Jews of Israel, Sanders can surely take the time to study the Mandate for Palestine, both its text, and the accompanying maps showing the territory included in it. Next, he should read U.N. Resolution 242 and the interpretation of it by its author, Lord Caradon. Finally, he should investigate the origin, and reason for being, of the “Palestinian people.” That’s enough homework for now.
First published in Jihad Watch here, here and here.
Posted on 09/21/2019 3:54 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Saturday, 21 September 2019
Winston Churchill: Patriotic Filmmaker
by Michael Curtis
If they asked him, he could make a film about the way the country acts and looks, and exemplifies patriotism.
It is a truth universally acknowledged except by left wing members of the British Labour Party and unreformed Nazis that Winston Churchill was the most distinguished Briton of the 20th century. Born in Blenheim Palace, Churchill was soldier, journalist and war correspondent, amateur artist, prolific author, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, imperialist, Member of Parliament for both major political parties, organizer of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, leader of the call for British rearmament in the 1930s, holder of a number of governmental offices, and prime minster 1940-45, and 1951-55. Churchill was an ebullient personality, he was the quintessential patriot, if also self-centered and self-absorbed, a complex and controversial figure. He remains a surprising figure. Recent revelations indicate he had at least a hand in the making of a film.
For over a century, films have been related to existing political activity and groups, even constructing a more desirable fictional world. They have been used to picture historical or current events to inform or to stir spectators. Some films portray their political stance openly, such as Rocky, Rambo, Easy Rider, or are propagandistic, attempting to put across the message through a metaphoric narrative. Others do so by inference. Hundreds of films made all over the world touch on political, social, or economic issues, usually controversial ones. People can dispute the merit and value of individual films that have been influential or had dramatic impact but certainly among them would be the Battle of Potemkin (Eisenstein); The Birth ofA Nation (D.W.Griffith); The Triumph of the Will( Leni Riefenstahl); Citizen Kane (Orson Welles); Shoah (Claude Lanzmann); Casablanca (Michael Curtiz).
The drama of Churchill’s life has attracted the making of documentaries, at least 60 films, and more TV series, of which arguably perhaps the best are The Darkest Hour 2017, starring Gary Oldman, and The Gathering Storm. What is surprising is his implied role in the making of the well known film Lady Hamilton, starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, often cited as his favorite film which it is said he saw 80 times. Churchill was always interested in films. In 1929 he visited Charlie Chaplin in Hollywood and tried to interest the comedian in a film in which he would lampoon Adolf Hitler.
Churchill like Chaplin was aware of the power of film in creating a political climate. He was aware of Leni Riefenstahl’s, Triumph of the Will 1935, which chronicled the 1934 Nazi party Congress in Nuremberg and contained excerpts of speeches by Hitler and other Nazi leaders. Hitler personally asked her to make a film about a Nazi party congress and she responded with one that many will agree is one of the most powerful propaganda films ever made. If Riefenstahl exalted Germany, Churchill could exalt Britain, alone at that moment in the fight against Nazi Germany.
Churchill thought of Lady Hamilton as a film extolling past British military successes, presenting a positive Britain, at a moment when European countries had surrendered to or been conquered by Nazi Germany. No doubt the film, among other factors, was aimed at a still neutral U.S., but at the core it was making an implicit parallel between the historical fight against the all powerful Napoleon, and the current single handed conflict against Hitler. It is likely, even probable, that Churchill suggested the concept of the film to Alexander Korda, the ex Hungarian refugee film maker, and even scripted a scene, and encouraged the casting of Olivier and Leigh, then a newly married couple. Korda for his contribution to the war effort, was made a knight, Sir Alexander, the first filmmaker to be so honored. Ironically, he was also scheduled to appear before the US Foreign Relations Committee but his appearance was preempted by the bombing of Pearl Harbor .
The film is both melodrama and propaganda, essentially a love affair, a tragic story, a liaison for six years, 1799-1805, between the glamorous Emma Hamilton, once a exotic dancing hall girl, then mistress to influential men, and finally wife of Sir William Hamilton, Ambassador to the Kingdom of Naples, and the heroic Admiral Horatio Nelson who had won a victory over the French fleet at Aboukir, the Battle of the Nile, after which he was made Duke of Bronte by the King of Naples. Emma plays a role in comforting Nelson, who had lost one eye at 36, and an arm at 40, nursing him in his illness, and at one point helped him provision his ships.
But the film is more important as an implicit call to arms for Britain with Nelson representing the patriotism which was being shown in other British films such as In Which We Serve (Noel Coward, David Lean) or an earlier film by Korda, The Scarlet Pimpernel, 1935. In Lady Hamilton, Nelson expresses views close to those of Churchill during the War. The most striking is “You cannot make peace with dictators, you have to destroy them.” Equally symbolic is the signal sent by Admiral Nelson from his flagship to the Navy before the battle of Trafalgar started on October 21, 1805 Nelson inspired his troops, “England expects every man to do his duty.” They did with remarkable success, against the combined Franco-Spanish fleet of 33 ships, 17 of which were captured and another blown up, without any loss of a British ship.
Nelson has been honored by Britain. The most impressive and striking is the monument to him erected in 1843 in Trafalgar Square in central London with its large column and bust of him, modelled on one in the Temple of Mars Ultor in the Forum in Rome commemorating the victory of Augustus at Battle of Philippi in 42 BC over the assassins of Julius Caesar. Both Caesar and Nelson were killed by enemies but both represented real power. The parallel is clear when Britain was without allies, Nelson’s triumph over Napoleon and the French Navy was akin to victory by Augustus over rivals in Rome.
Nelson prevented any invasion of Britain by Napoleon, a forerunner of the failure by Hitler to mount Operation Sea Lion to invade England. Hitler understood the column was a symbol of British naval might and command of the seas and prowess, and planned to take it to Berlin when the Nazis had conquered Britain. But farewell to Berlin, and Nelson remains atop Trafalgar Square.
Churchill is not renowned as a filmmaker but it is intriguing to consider if the presentation of Nelson was an implicit self-portrait of Churchill. The war time leader had a bust of Nelson in his study, and named his cat Nelson. Both Nelson and Churchill were personalities of courage, leadership qualities, inspirational, skilled at taking advantage of the weakness of opponents, and desirous of securing and advancing the security of the UK. Both were flamboyant, took risks, were vain, eager to publish their successes, and subject to violent mood swings. But above all they were patriots, lovers of their country. Lady Hamilton is a valuable reminder of this.
Posted on 09/21/2019 3:21 AM by Michael Curtis
Friday, 20 September 2019
Iran’s Act of War
The Saudis are far from admirable, but we need to support them in this escalating conflict.
by Conrad Black
Last weekend’s drone raid on the Saudi oil fields, along with the Israeli elections, opens a new chapter in Middle Eastern relations. Whether the attack on Saudi oil production, which has temporarily stopped more than half of it, was launched by Iranian-sponsored Yemeni Houthis or by the Iranians themselves is beside the point, as the Houthis had no independent ability whatever to acquire and use such weapons. The Iranians are behind the incident. There is room for legitimate debate about the merits of the conflicting sides in the Yemen war, but there can be no doubt that by any standards, the direct attack on Saudi Arabia was an act of war, and as it was entirely dependent on Iranian weapons procurement and instruction, it is an escalation of the war-by-proxy between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Yemen with an outright act of war by Iran against Saudi Arabia. There is no reason to believe, or even to recommend, that Saudi Arabia should turn the other cheek and engage in reactive pacifism. Because the Trump administration has ignored the efforts of American political factions, including recalcitrant Republicans, to ditch the Saudis, Washington retains great influence on the Saudi response to what is a severe provocation. This can be seen as a great opportunity, as it furnishes a justification for administering a heavy blow against the most troublesome regime in the world.
The United States would do well to take the trouble to line up allies. The Western alliance will be even more skittish than usual, given that the aggrieved party is the not entirely presentable Saudi regime. Saudi Arabia has been a joint venture between the House of Saud, an old nomadic desert family favored by Britain and France on the collapse of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire at the end of World War I, and the Wahhabi Islamic leadership. The feudal and absolute monarchy paid extensive Danegeld to the Wahhabis as they spread militant Islam throughout the Eurasian landmass and in Australasia and North Africa, in exchange for a free pass for the Saudi royal family. The Saudi regime has gradually, under steady American influence, modernized the structure of the state, spread the petro-money around the population, and withdrawn from the Faustian bargain with fundamentalist Islam. It has followed the Arab version of the Chinese model: economic and (to some extent) social reform and general distribution of prosperity, without relaxing the authority or capacity of self-assertion of the state. The Saudis avoided the catastrophe of Russia and, briefly, Egypt, of trying to introduce democracy without elevating public standards of prosperity and education.
Saudi Arabia is, in any case, a much more reputable regime than the terrorism-promoting, bigoted theocracy of Iran — an almost friendless nation apart from a few other militant Islamic entities and as a nuisance of convenience that China and Russia and even Turkey encourage to irritate the United States and its Middle Eastern allies and protégés, especially Egypt, the Emirates, the Saudis, and Israel. The struggle that is now escalating is among theocratic and secular Muslim countries, militant Islam, and Middle Eastern minorities — the Jewish state and Arab Christians — and the fairly arcane but often fiercely contested distinction between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, as well as a contest between petroleum-exporting countries, a field where Saudi Arabia has generally been preeminent. These waters have been muddied considerably by the effective elimination by the United States of overseas energy imports as its own production has been sharply boosted from shale-fracking and increased offshore exploration. An incidental but useful clarification from this event has been the revelation of the absurdity and irrelevance of the extreme Green nonsense. The president was correct in announcing that he would release oil as necessary from the U.S. national petroleum reserves to stabilize world supply. Even 50 years from now, no part of the solution to such a problem as this will have anything to do with nostrums about windmills and solar panels.
Apart from the removal of the United States as the world’s chief petroleum importer, the Middle Eastern correlation of forces has also been altered by the disintegration of two prominent Arab countries, Iraq and Syria (formerly two of Israel’s most militant enemies), and the encroachment upon Arab affairs of the ancient foes of the Arabs, the Turks and the Persians (Iran). The European rejection of Turkey has helped persuade that country’s strongman, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to imagine that Turkey has a role to play in Arab affairs, and the general clerical and nationalist belligerency of the Islamic Republic in Iran has assisted the Arabs in focusing on self-protection and shelving their diversionary preoccupation with Israel.
The fixation on Israel was always just an invented distraction of the Arab masses from the misgovernment their leaders inflicted on them, but now, and with Turkey and Iran meddling in Syria and Iraq, the Palestinians, who were generally regarded in the Arab world as sharpers like the Jews and Lebanese, are redundant to the pan-Arab interest, and Israel is a vital ally. Now is the time for the imposition of a solution: The Palestinians can have a modest state, but that’s all they get, and it must be conditioned on formal recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state with internationally agreed frontiers. The Israeli election will almost certainly produce a grand coalition between the two main parties that could facilitate an agreement by producing a slightly more flexible government in Jerusalem, i.e. a somewhat more flexible Benjamin Netanyahu (though not one seriously contemplating retirement; the charges against him are nonsense and just part of hardball Israeli politics). Israel would benefit from a government independent of the Arabs, the religious parties, or the far left.
The United Sates must lead an effective coalition response to the Iranian aggression against Saudi Arabia. The NATO states that import oil, especially from Saudi Arabia, should be forcefully invited to join in augmented sanctions, and the United States should require those countries that trade profitably with the U.S. to join an embargo of Iran until it genuinely renounces its sponsorship of terrorist enterprises, including Hezbollah, Hamas, and, as long as the Yemeni civil war is bilaterally deescalated, the Houthi. A serious coalition, including all the countries whose ships ply the Persian Gulf, should, under U.S. leadership, accomplish the internationalization of the Strait of Hormuz, and discourage by force any Iranian attempt to restrict those waters. And the U.S. must (at the expense of the beneficiary countries) install serious air security over Saudi Arabia, the Emirates, Kuwait, and northern Iraq. Foreign drones should never have got anywhere near the Saudi oil refineries and collection points and would not be especially hard to intercept. This attack was planned as meticulously as the 9/11 attacks and, like them, attempted to evade any particular national responsibility. The fact that there was no suicide element may be taken as slight progress for the world’s counterterrorists.
An air assault on Iranian oil facilities and nuclear military sites would be entirely justified, and this measure should be prepared as the next step, with the prior approval of a reasonable range of supportive countries, as the instant response to any further provocations. It would not be a great risk for the United States to lead a punitive air mission that would flatten Iran’s nuclear military program and crush it economically, and such a step would arouse no objections from any civilized country. If the Saudis want to move to this more ambitious phase of retribution now, as long as the administration takes the time necessary to stiffen the backbone of the vocal but often almost invertebrate allies, and as long as it is planned carefully, there is no moral or practical reason to hesitate. Iran is an outlaw regime in chronic need of punishment, and the danger lies not in overreaction but in insufficient retaliation.
First published in National Review Online.
Posted on 09/20/2019 6:50 AM by Conrad Black
Friday, 20 September 2019
Michael Rectenwald on Fox and Friends First
Posted on 09/20/2019 5:39 AM by New English Review Press
Thursday, 19 September 2019
Watch Ken Burns' Country Music
Now playing on PBS - Don't miss it.
A few glaring omissions:
Web Pierce, one of the biggest stars of the 50's and 60's if not even mentioned.
Lefty Frizzell is only mentioned in connection with "Long Black Veil" - a late recording. His early work is omitted. He also comes up in connection with Merle Haggard who immitated him in his early years.
Jim Reeves is heard only briefly in connection with the Nashville Sound. His name is not mentioned.
Burns, true to form, dwells on social and political issues, i.e., race relations and women's lib. Some context is good, but he gives Charlie Pride a lot of time, while leaving out other artists of that time period. Also, a lot on Johnny Cash, who does have an interesting story, but he crowds out other worthy artists for time.
Wynn Stewart is not mentioned in connection with the Bakersfield Sound - only Haggard and Buck Owens.
More gripes sure to come.
Posted on 09/19/2019 2:46 PM by Rebecca Bynum
Thursday, 19 September 2019
Top Catholic Clergy Hail El-Tayyeb-Pope Francis Document as “Clarion Call”
by Hugh Fitzgerald
Breitbart reported less than two weeks ago that “the Vatican has created a special committee to draw out the principles contained in the controversial Abu Dhabi document, signed last February by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar.” The Pope believes something great was accomplished in the U.A.E. when he and Sheikh Ahmad El-Tayeb signed a document about “human fraternity.” He has high hopes it will lead to all kinds of good things — you know, things like Mutual Understanding and World Peace. He’s not the only enthusiast. Senior Catholic clerics in this country were quick to endorse his achievement:
The declaration signed by Pope Francis and Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar, during the pope’s trip to the United Arab Emirates “is a clarion call for robust dialogue that leads to peace,” said the Catholic chairman of the National Catholic-Muslim Dialogue and the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Inter-religious Affairs.
A “clarion call”? For a certain type of mind, all calls are “clarion,” just as majorities are always “vast,” taxpayers are always “hardworking,” growth is always “exponential,” threats are always “existential,” rage is always “unbridled,” and elegance is always “understated.” By their banality shall ye know them.
We have been having, for several decades, all kinds of interfaith “dialogues” which consist of Christians calling for peace and understanding, and expressing their deep respect for Islam, the “authentic” version of which is “opposed to every form of violence,” as Pope Francis famously said. The Muslim clerics pocket those positive remarks about Islam by their naive Christian interlocutors, without offering similar praise of Christianity in return. Now such a “dialogue” has taken place at the very highest level, between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University, Ahmad El-Tayeb.
“In our increasingly hostile world in which violence too often predominates between Christians and Muslims – violence that has led to tragic consequences for the most vulnerable humans – we welcome with great joy this historic joint statement on human fraternity,” said Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago and Bishop Joseph C. Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
It is not we who will decide, but posterity, whether or not this “joint statement on human fraternity” turns out to be “historic,” rather than just one more of the feelgood exercises that people deeply committed to the interfaith racket have been pushing for the last two decades.
“Violence too often predominates between Christians and Muslims” — a formulation that leaves out the fact that the violence always originates from the Muslim side; Christians are the victims who, very occasionally, fight back. There have been over 35,500 acts of Muslim terror since 9/11/2001 alone. In the United States, there have been major terror attacks by Muslims in New York, Washington, Boston, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, Little Rock, Chattanooga, Orlando. In Europe, there have terror attacks in Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Nice, Toulouse, Magnanville, St. Etienne-du-Rouvray, Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Würzburg, London, Manchester, Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm, Malmö, Helsinki, Turku, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Beslan. Muslims have repeatedly attacked Coptic churches in Egypt, killed Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, in northern Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria, and murdered Assyrians in Iraq. Yet these two Catholic clerics, Cardinal Cupich and Bishop Bombera, appear to believe that there is some kind of equivalence between Muslim attackers and Christian victims: “Violence too often predominates between Christians and Muslims” — a curious phrase, with that free-floating “violence” unattached to any actor. That violence somehow “predominates” — how? why? when? — between Christians and Muslims. Not a word from the Christians about what Muslims read in the Qur’an and Hadith that explains that violence. Once you are caught in the interfaith web, it’s impossible to tell the grim truth, that the violence “between Christians and Muslims” comes overwhelmingly from the Muslims, as commanded in the Islamic texts. But no Christian taking part in these interfaith meetings dares to quote the Qur’anic verses about Infidels and Jihad, for fear of offending Muslims who would then break off that “dialogue” by which Christians set such store.
Pope Francis and Sheik el-Tayeb, a leading religious authority for many Sunni Muslims around the world, signed “A Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” Feb. 4 in Abu Dhabi….
But the centerpiece of the declaration was a call on Christians and Muslims to recognize and respect one another and work together for the good of humanity.
One is struck by the likely pointlessness of it all: that declaration between the Pope and his “friend and dear brother” Sheikh El-Tayeb, calling on Muslims and Christians “to recognize and respect one another and work together for the good of humanity” — haven’t we heard this many times before? What does it mean to “respect one another”? Or “to work for the good of humanity”? Muslims believe that in spreading Islam they are indeed working for the good of humanity. How does Pope Francis propose to change their minds about that? Are Muslims really going to ignore the many Qur’anic verses that teach them to despise, fear, hate, and wage Jihad against, Christians and other Infidels because Sheikh El-Tayeb signed some piece of paper with the Pope in Abu Dhabi? How many Muslims will say to themselves that the more than 100 Jihad verses in the Qur’an that command Believers to fight against Infidels wherever they are found, and to “strike terror” in their hearts, no longer apply because of that “Document on Human Fraternity”? How likely is that? Shouldn’t El-Tayeb be asked how he squares the words of that “Document on Human Fraternity For World Peace and Living Together” with Qur’an 2:191-194, 4:89, 8:12, 8:60, 9:5, 9:29? Or whether he thinks Muslims should still believe Qur’an 98:6, the verse in which Infidels are described as “the most vile of created beings”? We can well imagine that Catholic religious all over the world will get busy spreading the glad word about the “Document of Fraternity,”and — save for a few holdouts — will enthusiastically convey to their flocks the glad news about how splendid Muslims are, and how worthy the religion of Islam is, following the inflexible party line laid down by Pope Francis. But how many Muslim clerics do you think will be praising Christianity, and Christians?
Commenting on the document on Feb. 8, Cupich and Bambera urged “all people of goodwill, especially leaders of nations and religious groups,” to read and study the declaration “in the hope that it might serve as a resource to overcome division through a renewed commitment to dialogue and the establishment of goodwill.
So, to sum up, there was that short meeting dialogue in the U.A.E., followed by the joint declaration of bland bomfoggery (“brotherhood of man, fatherhood of god”), which will now “serve as a resource” to “overcome division” through a “renewed commitment to dialogue.” Make sure you follow that now: the “dialogue” leading to what was written in the U.A.E. document will now lead to a renewed commitment to “dialogue.’’And let’s face it: don’t you think this “renewed commitment to dialogue” will again lead to — you’ve guessed it — a further commitment to “dialogue”? Dialogue away, boys, to your heart’s content. It will mean nothing, as long as no one dares to mention, or even deplore, what is in the Qur’an and hadith. Meanwhile, Muslims all over the world will be happy to engage in this visible “dialogue” with their Christian brothers, while they carry on as they always have, for 1,400 years, dutifully following the Qur’an and Hadith, to spread mayhem and murder among the Infidels. El-Tayeb 100, Pope Francis 0.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 09/19/2019 3:47 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Thursday, 19 September 2019
Three 'extremely vulnerable' schoolgirls 'groomed and sexually exploited' by Huddersfield people, court hears
I have been following events at Crown Court Leeds concerning men and women from Huddersfield. There is a partial reporting restriction different from earlier news reports allowed to the Huddersfield Examiner. This is now a new trial.
From the Huddersfield Examiner on Tuesday and yesterday (Wednesday)
Jury sworn in Huddersfield child sexual exploitation trial
Nine people are now on trial in relation to the alleged abuse of three schoolgirls
Nine defendants - eight men and one woman, all of whom are from Huddersfield - are now on trial at Leeds Crown Court in relation to the alleged abuse of three young girls. The men face 14 charges including rape and attempted rape, while the woman faces a charge of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.
Five of the nine defendants cannot be named for legal reasons.
A 38-year-old man denies attempted rape.
A 30-year-old man denies rape.
A 32-year-old man denies rape.
A 39-year-old woman denies arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.
Another 32-year-old man denies five counts of rape.
Banaris Hussain, 36, of Beech Street in Paddock, denies rape.
Umar Zaman, 31, of William Street in Crosland Moor, denies two counts of rape. He is being tried in his absence.
Mohammed Arif, 32, of New Hey Road in Oakes, denies rape.
Samuel Fikru, 31, whose address cannot be reported for legal reasons, denies two counts of rape.
Three of the nine defendants. L-R: Banaris Hussain, Umar Zaman, Mohammed Arif.
Opening the trial Wednesday, prosecutor Richard Wright QC told the jury: "This case concerns the cynical sexual exploitation of young girls who were deliberately targeted by older men who wanted to use those girls for their own sexual purposes."
Mr Wright said the men saw the girls as 'commodities' 'to be used and abused at will'.
Leeds Crown Court heard the alleged victims were socially isolated - one had been bullied at school and another was the daughter of an addict. He said the girls were lured in with friendship, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs and sexually abused in isolated areas such as cars and the defendants' homes.
Mr Wright told jurors that the issues in the case are narrow.
Summarising the men's defences to the allegations, he said: "These defendants are either the victims of a series of mistaken identifications by girls who they have never met or for unknown reasons have made up a series of wicked lies against them. If they are compelled to admit that they have had sex with one of the girls it is then said that it was entirely consensual and that the girls cruelly misled them as to their age."
He also said some of the men who abused the girls remain unidentified and some are yet to stand trial.
The trial continues on Monday
Posted on 09/19/2019 1:29 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Trump’s Only Real Weakness Is His Style
If the president can become a bit more presidential, his reelection will be all but assured.
by Conrad Black
This is the time for President Trump to deprive his enemies of the last weapon that could be employed against him that could cause him any harm: the largely false, but still troublesome, issue of his personality and routine behavior. Other lines of attack have come to naught: Collusion with Russia, accusations of racism provoking outbursts of mass murder (by uttering “racially charged statements,” in the inadvertently Orwellian words of CNN’s most witless talking head, Don Lemon), the verbal recession confected by the world-renowned economists of CNN and MSNBC, all of it has collapsed. Illegal border crossings are in sharp decline as the wall is steadily extended, and Mexico cooperates in arresting the flow of illegal migrants to the United States, all within the framework of a new free-trade agreement and the steady relocation of manufacturing designed for the U.S. market from China to Mexico (and other countries). The only arguments left to the puling and squabbling Democrats are ever more implausible lurches to the left and the lingering sense that Donald Trump, though not the extremist or the incompetent that many had declaimed and predicted, is just not suitable to be president.
It does the president no favors to pretend that there are not still a significant number of people who have an uneasy feeling that although his administration is in policy terms quite successful, and the president has faithfully tried to carry out most of what he promised in the raucous 2016 election campaign, he is yet too bombastic and evidently egocentric to maintain the dignity of his great office. This is a widely held view, even among many who support the president for his policy successes and the well-conceived initiatives that are still in the balance, especially trade and other negotiations with China, and the attempted revival of nuclear non-proliferation in respect of Iran and North Korea.
The entirely admirable Peggy Noonan (Wall Street Journal and Fox News) seems to me illustrative of the best type of these people. She is effectively nonpartisan, extremely knowledgeable, and always very fair, and she wishes every U.S. president well and hopes that whoever is in that position does a good job for the country. Because she worked so closely with President Reagan, she may tend to measure presidents against him, and few in history can live up to his quality, as a man and as a leader. But there is nothing wrong with having high standards. It is clear from some of her columns that she finds the president’s bellicosity toward his opponents, and his tendency to be nasty and personal toward them, disappointing and unsuitable to a president.
In Trump’s defense, no president since Richard Nixon’s last days in office has been subjected to such malicious and widespread hostility as this one, and while most of the obloquy directed against Nixon was based on a minor felony compounded by some more-serious obstructions of consequent investigations, all imputations of possibly illegal wrongdoing by our current president have collapsed and been exposed as malicious or negligent abuse of power by sections of the Justice Department and the intelligence agencies. History is finally beginning to record that Richard Nixon was an outstanding president who was overwhelmed by the propagation of public hysteria over trivial matters in which there is no evidence that he did anything illegal. But there was an illegal source of the problem, and, as Nixon himself acknowledged, he badly mishandled the investigation.
In general, while he could be awkward, Nixon handled a very difficult time with reasonable dignity and retired from the office with exquisite courtesy and, in horrible circumstances, considerable eloquence. FDR and JFK were always elegant; Truman, Eisenhower, and Obama never embarrassed anyone; President Clinton was marred only by the tawdriness of his peccadilloes; and LBJ, Ford, Carter, and the Bushes all had their verbal slips and minor gaucheries, but nothing seriously bothersome or embarrassing to the country. With President Trump, his astute and effective use of social media, the only way to compensate for the wall-to-wall hostility he faces from the traditional media, requires him to be directly in front of the country much more than any other president. Some combination of deliberate tactics and the unprecedented loathing of his opponents causes anything bombastic, silly, or overly self-centered to be played up and employed to reinforce the caricature of him as a blustering, narcissistic windbag. Anyone who knows him knows this is not a fair description of him. And any fair examination of his record in office shows that these infelicities aren’t really relevant to a just evaluation of his performance.
There is also the problem of the president feeling it necessary to respond to almost every slight or insinuation, no matter how implausible or insignificant. No one cares if there was a possibility that Hurricane Dorian would reach Alabama, any more than anyone except his most churlish enemies really noticed that he meant “ports” rather than “airports” in his remarks about the Revolutionary War. The president has steadily improved his delivery, pursued his announced objectives, and discarded the appearance of chaos that arose in his early White House days. But there remains a somewhat ungracious tenor to this administration that could be excised, sloughed like something outgrown, with no loss of counter-fire. This would impress and probably rally about 10 percent of the people.
As the false attacks on the president have failed and the economy has soared, and the other policy initiatives are patiently and effectively addressed, the president’s standing in the polls has inched upward by about ten points from its low in the mid-to-upper 30s. The biases of most of the polling organizations and the reticence of many Trump supporters are probably causing some underestimation of his strength, and 47 percent or so is probably enough to win, given large Democratic margins in California and New York. This leaves out the identity of the Democratic candidate, who will be carrying whatever legal backlash the special counsel brings down on the propagators of the Russian-collusion fraud and the illegal intelligence surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition team, as well as the harebrained climate, immigration, tax, and health-care measures the Democratic candidates have embraced.
His putative chief rival, Joe Biden, claims that Trump “inherited a good economy, as he has inherited everything in his life.” He didn’t inherit billions of dollars, though his father was a wealthy man. He didn’t inherit a television audience of 25 million viewers every week for 14 years. He didn’t inherit a fine and attractive wife and family. And he did not inherit the presidency of the United States. (And the economy he did inherit was a flatlined “new normal” of 2 percent GDP growth, 1 percent per capita GDP growth, bought with annual increases in the accumulated national debt of 10 percent.) But if the president wants to put the election away now, all he has to do is be a bit more gracious: more of a chief of state of a great people and of the world’s greatest power, and less of a backbiting, counter-sniping denizen of the nether political regions. To drain the swamp, he has to get clear of it. He has earned the ability to separate himself from the insalubrious stratum of an officeholder fighting for his life against historic calumnies and malfeasances. All but his most febrile enemies will concede his cunning, determination, and stamina, and, in a slightly rabble-rousing way, his panache. He has won every round in the toughest and highest league in the world. Now it’s time to show some class. Those who know him know he is capable of it. The office sought the man, and the moment seeks the conduct.
Posted on 09/18/2019 6:31 AM by Conrad Black
Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Testifying in Court and Before Congress
by Gary Fouse
Being at the gym today, I jumped on the treadmill and was able to watch the first hour of Corey Lewandowski's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Thus, I was able to hear the opening statements of Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member Doug Collins (R-GA), and Lewandowski. I also got to watch the opening questions from Nadler, Collins, and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) along with some interventions or interruptions by David Cicilline (D-RI). As reported, it was highly contentious. Lewandoski went along with the White House request to limit his testimomy to that already documented in the Special Counsel's Investigation, in which Lewandowski was interviewed. The White House position is that Lewandowski's communications with President Trump are covered under executive privilege. It is Nadler's position that since Lewandowski was never an employee of the administration, there is no privilege. I am no lawyer or constitutional expert, but I know conservative commentator Mark Levin is, and he maintains that the privilege belongs to the president. I will go along with that. The Democrats were trying to make the point that Trump was trying to get Lewandowski to arrange what other administration officials were unwilling to do-get Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed-which would have been perfectly legal to begin with.
Leaving aside the four hours I did not see, I would like to address a side issue. Being retired from law enforcement (DEA) and having testified hundreds of times, I always take an interest in watching when someone testifies. Testifying is an art, if you will, and that does not suggest for a minute that I mean anything other than 100% honest testimony. Law enforcement witnesses generally know that they should not argue or try to spar with hostile questioners (defense attorneys). It is considered proper to answer questions, honestly, briefly, and in a respectful, professional manner. That means, "Yes, Sir, No Sir, Yes, Ma'am, No Ma'am." When an open ended answer is called for, I always made it a point to turn to the jury and address my explanations to them. Even though I might be under attack by an aggressive defense attorney, I refused to allow myself to be drawn into an argument with him or her. My philosophy was always: do your job thoroughly, honestly, and be prepared to testify honestly. If you did that, the best defense attorney in the land couldn't lay a glove on you.
My question is whether that is the proper manner when appearing before a bunch of Marxist idiots in Congress who are attacking your very character while using lies and misrepresentations to make their points. Lewandowski was combative and gave as well as he got, something I never would have done testifying in a DEA drug trial. Similarly, former Customs and Immigration Enforcement chief Tom Homan refused to let himself be abused by the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others during his recent appearances. He vigorously defended himself and his agency against their attacks, and he made me proud.
So my answer to the question is that if I were ever called to testify before Congress, I would try to be professional and show respect, but at the same time, I would follow the example set by Homan. Without trying to be partisan, this current crop of Democrats in Congress is a joke and a disgrace. No witness who comes before them should have to tolerate their insults and character assassinations. No doubt it is difficult because you have a TV audience of millions, and you want to make the right impression. But if you crawl under the table and shrivel up, it only makes them look more effective and possibly on the side of truth - which they are not. Thus, I will not criticize Mr Lewandowski for his combative attitude during his testimony.
Posted on 09/18/2019 4:24 AM by Gary Fouse
Wednesday, 18 September 2019
Seeking a Kingmaker in Israeli Politics
by Michael Curtis
Change partners and dance with me. Speaking on Tuesday September 10, 2019, Leslie H. Wexner, founder and owner of Victoria’s Secret, and Bath and Body works, commenting on his long-time friendship and relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, said “At some point in your life, we are all betrayed by friends, and if we haven’t, we’re really fortunate to have lived a perfectly sheltered life. Inconsistency is a natural human condition, as Alice in Wonderland understood: “I could tell you my adventures, but it’s no use going back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” Politics in Israel illustrates the changing nature of relationships, as 80 year-old President Reuven Rivlin, long time figure in the Likud party, announced he was no longer friendly with Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of Likud and prime minister of Israel. Political deadlock of major parties in Israel does not lead to wedlock between them.
That deadlock has appeared again with the Knesset parliamentary election of September 17, 2019 when no party achieved a majority, and the provisional results of the number of seats obtained by the more prominent parties are as follows without grouping them as left or right: Likud 31, Shas 9, United Torah Judaism 8, Yisrael Beiteinu 8, Yamini 6, Blue and White 33, Labor 6, Democratic Union 6, Arab Joint List 13.
In view of the results of the Knesset election, President Rivlin has a choice since there is no outright victor, who to call to try to form a government, either the incumbent prime minister, 69 year-old Netanyahu who had been PM for 13 years, the longest serving PM, or his political rival 60 year-old Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, or even another Likud personality such as Gideon Sa’ar, former cabinet secretary or Yudi Edelstein, refusnikin the Soviet Union and Speaker of the Knesset, or Avigdor Lieberman. Israel faced a similar problem in 1984 when a choice had to be made between Shimon Peres, Labor, or Yitzhak Shamir, Likud. At that time a compromise, a government of national unity was formed, with Peres being PM for the first 25 months and Shamir as foreign minister, then reversal of the roles.
The magic number is 61, control of a majority of seats in the 120 member Knesset allowing government to be formed and stay in existence. No single party has ever achieved that number, and therefore all governments have been coalitions able to control a majority in the Knesset.
The reasons are complex and vies are variable, a mixture of ideological views and personal ambitions and rivalries. The remarkable iron lady of Israeli politics, the strong willed and straight-talking Golda Meier, explained to Richard Nixon, “You are the President of 150 million Americans. I’m the prime minister of six million prime ministers.” Everyone wants to wear the crown.
At the Knesset election of April 2019, 47 parties competed, but most failed to cross the electoral threshold, 3.2% of the total national vote, in order to gain a seat.
In September, the number of parties dropped to 32, many running on merged lists. In spite of the large number of parties and the overlapping of their political appeals, the election was essentially between right and left groups, though left and right are difficult to define with any precision, and an attempt of Israeli Arabs to be more prominent.
Electioneering in Israel as in other countries, may suffer from deception, evasions, equivocation, and false or inaccurate conclusions drawn from objective true information. The communications of the leader of the right, Bibi Netanyahu whose party Likud has been the leading force, may not have fully accurate or true, but there was no deception about his objectives. His main campaign was on national security issues. He announced on September 9, 2019 that Israel had discovered a new Iranian nuclear weapons site at Abadeh, south of Isfahan. The next day, on September 10 he announced that if remains prime minister he will extend Israeli sovereignty to the 31 Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, including 22 in the Jordan Valley, and some in the northern Dead Sea region. The day before the election, September 16, Bibi announced again he would annex Kiryat Arba and the Jewish areas of Hebron, probably the 4% of the city that includes the Tomb of the Patriarchs, though he would need a mandate to do this.
Netanyahu is clear on two issues: opposition to the Palestinian right of return; and conviction that Jerusalem will remain united. To strengthen his position, Bibi also went to Sochi to see Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian defense chief Sergi Shoigu for at least three reasons: to strengthen security ties and military cooperation between the two countries; to talk about getting Iran out of Syria; but also to woo Russian speaking immigrants in Israel from support of Avigdor Lieberman and his party. It was 61 year-old Lieberman, born in Moldova and once a night club bouncer, Defense and Foreign minister, secular and hawkish nationalist, whose party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) got 17 % of popular vote by drawing on the 1.5 million Russian speakers in Israel, and refused to join Netanyahu’s coalition with religious parties in May 2019. Lieberman and his party want to eliminate the exemption of the Ultra-Orthodox, Haredi, from serving in the military, and are concerned about the large number of unemployed religious students. But the Ultras are Zionists. Will Lieberman, merging security and secularism, be the kingmaker of Israeli politics? For Netanyahu there is a dilemma, the problem of the Ultra-Orthodox population with its monopoly on marriage, divorce, and religious conversions, has gained power in the system and which may be an obstacle to any link between him and Lieberman.
Opposition leader Benny Gantz, former military leader, is notable for a low key style of campaigning, balanced, seen as moderate, who focused on allegations of bribery, fraud, breach of trust against Netanyahu as well as on national security. He is personally well liked, yet he is regarded by only 31% of the population as the best candidate to become prime minister, compared with 46% favoring Bibi. Gantz is liberal on social issues, but to get votes from the right wing he expressed nationalist policies, and took two former Israeli army chiefs as running mates. He and his party, the Blue and White party, also believes in strengthening the settlements in the West Bank and view the Jordan Valley as Israel’s eastern security border, but do not call for annexation of the territories. This point had been made by the former left wing Labor leader Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin who in October 1995, a month before his assassination, declared in the Knesset, “The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley in the broadest meaning of that term.”
The main Arab parties again formed an alliance, the Arab Joint List, led by Ayman Odeh, head of Hadash and self-defined socialist. It merged individuals from different ideological positions, nationalists, Islamists, Communists. In 2015 they had been the third largest force in the Knesset but did less well on April 9, 2019 when they won only 10 seats. Turnout of Arabs who constitute a sixth of the electorate is low, only 49.2%, compared with the national 68% turnout. The Arab Joint List in 2019 was more assertive, gaining 13 seats, even suggesting as Odeh did the Arabs might join a center-left coalition government.
The die is cast. Netanyahu, in what some suggested was an electoral stunt, stole the thunder of the extreme right, the Yamina, religious Zionists, party, and Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power), presenting himself as the guardian of Israel against its enemies, including Iran. Bibi’s proposals mean carving out almost a third of the occupied West Bank, home to 2.7 million Palestinians, and cuts off Jericho from rest of the West Bank. These areas are for Bibi the eastern border of the state of Israel. The Jordan River is a natural barrier and an essential strategic asset, to prevent weapons smuggling into the West Bank. Most of the Jordan valley and northern Dead Sea are part of Area C, already under Israeli security and civil control. This annexation would give secure, permanent borders in the east to Israel for the first time.
The crucial question is whether the Netanyahu proposals bury any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Unilateral annexation of occupied territory is highly controversial, yet there is general agreement that Israel should control the Jordan Valley for a time after a peace treaty, though not annex it. The Jordan Valley of 2,400 square miles, is home to 11,000 Israelis in settlements and 80,000 Palestinians, mostly in Jericho. Nearly 90% is already under Israeli administrative and military control.
Whether to help the Netanyahu campaign of not, the Trump administration has been friendly to Israel on a number of issues, the move of the U.S. Embassy, recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, agreement on preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Trump now proposes a Mutual Defense Treaty with Israel after the election.
Again, in the existing turmoil in Israel politics, Golda Meier is pertinent, “Don’t be cynical. Don’t believe that everything is judged only by expediency. There is idealism in the world.”
Posted on 09/18/2019 3:50 AM by Michael Curtis
Tuesday, 17 September 2019
The Ahmadi Muslims: A Curious Sect
by Hugh Fitzgerald
With an Ahmadi Muslim apologist, Qasim Rashid, running for the Virginia State Senate and charging his opponent with “Islamophobia,” it’s worthwhile to give this sect a closer look.
The Ahmadi Muslims are a curious sect. They make up only 1% of the world’s Muslims — if indeed we accept that they are Muslims at all. Because their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, claimed in 1889 to be both a prophet who came after Muhammad, and the Mahdi, many orthodox Muslims do not accept Ahmadis as Muslims. Indeed, in Pakistan, where the most Ahmadis — four million — live, they are forbidden, by the Second Amendment to the Constitution, to identify themselves as Muslims. They have been subject to large-scale attacks in Pakistan, during the anti-Ahmadi riots in Lahore in 1953, and again in 1974, when dozens of Ahmadi mosques were demolished or set on fire around the country. The last large-scale anti-Ahmadiyya violence ending in many deaths was in 2010, when, during Friday prayers, 94 Ahmadis were killed and more than 120 were injured in nearly simultaneous attacks against two mosques in Lahore. In 2018, a historic Ahmadi mosque, as old as the movement itself, was torn down in Sialkot. And there have consistently been smaller attacks, on one or several Ahmadis at a time, killed for being heretics or Infidels.
Pakistan is not the only Muslim country to treat the Ahmadis as non-Muslims. Saudi Arabia forbids Ahmadis from living in the country. But among the foreign workers, some Ahmadis manage to slip in, and the Saudi government routinely conducts nationwide raids to locate and deport them. Nor does Saudi Arabia allow Ahmadis to make the Hajj to Mecca. Pakistan raises an additional barrier to Ahmadis performing the Hajj. It requires that all Muslims applying for a passport must denigrate the founder of the community, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, and declare that all Ahmadis are non-Muslims. This requirement, naturally, discourages some Ahmadis from applying for a passport.
Ahmadis have been persecuted, attacked, and banned in many other Muslim countries. In 1924, affiliation with the Ahmadiyya became a capital offense in Afghanistan. Since then, no Ahmadiyya Muslims have been reported in Afghanistan. In Algeria, the position of the Ahmadis has worsened in the last few years. In March 2016, Algerian authorities refused an attempt by Ahmadis to register as an association under Algerian law. In June 2016, a planned Ahmadi mosque was raided and shut down in Larbraa. Since March 2016, more than 280 Ahmadis have been arrested and have faced prosecution. Algerian officials have publicly called Ahmadis heretics and a threat to Algeria. In June 2016, the Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments, Mohamed Aissa, described the Ahmadi presence in Algeria as part of a “prepared sectarian invasion.” In February 2017, he stated that Ahmadis are “not Muslim.” In April 2017, Ahmed Ouyahia, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s chief of cabinet, called on Algerians to “preserve the country from the Shia and Ahmadiyya sects.” In Bangladesh, in late 2003, several large, violent marches ended in the occupation of an Ahmadi mosque. In 2004, all Ahmadiyya publications were banned from the country. In India, Ahmadyyas are recognized by the government as Muslims, but they are not permitted by Muslims of other sects to sit on the All India Muslim Personal Law Board. In Indonesia, Ahmadi have been attacked and killed by mobs, and warned by the government not to try to spread their faith. In Malaysia, Ahmadis are forbidden from saying Friday Prayers at the central mosque, which also bears a large sign declaring that “Qadianis [Ahmadis] are not Muslims.”
In the U.K., Ahmadi shops have been vandalized, and Muslims instructed not to vote for Ahmadi candidates. Anti-Ahmadi hate leaflets have been distributed all over London. The Ummah Channel has broadcast interactive television programs on which religious leaders and callers alike said that Ahmadis should be killed. And Ahmadis, such as Asad Shah, have been killed by mainstream Muslims.
All of this shows that the Ahmadis are discriminated against, persecuted, and even killed, in many parts of the Islamic world. Yet the Ahmadis enthusiastically proselytize for Islam in the United States. They never discuss, in their meetings with non-Muslims, what Ahmadis endure at the hands of mainstream Muslims. Many of the Ask-A-Muslim-Anything events are put on by Ahmadis, who also conduct many of the Open-Mosque meetings. The Ahmadi sect is genuinely more peaceful in what it preaches about Jihad than are mainstream Muslims. Ahmadis stress their desire to spread Islam by non-violent means, and their outreach efforts to non-Muslims are sincere. But some of their spokesmen, such as the State Senate candidate Qasim Rashid and Harris Zafar, consistently defend Sunni Muslims, the very people who deny that Ahmadis are true Muslims.
Robert Spencer took on Qasim Rashid two days ago: “Qasim Rashid has for years been a professional liar, a one-man cottage industry of deception and hypocrisy. He has whitewashed Muhammad’s support for torture and the reality of jihad violence and Sharia oppression; dissembled about the Qur’an’s sanction of deception of unbelievers; lied about the presence of violent passages in the Qur’an; lied about the Qur’an’s sanction of beating disobedient women; lied about the nature of Sharia; called for limitations on the freedom of speech and expression to outlaw behavior and speech some Muslims may find offensive; and lied about Muhammad’s stance toward the persecution of Christians. He has even blamed Christianity for Islam’s death penalty for blasphemy. He has also claimed that ‘the teachings of Islam could help us prevent more sexual abuse scandals.’ When challenged about the ‘facts’ he has presented, Qasim Rashid (like virtually all other Islamic supremacists) responds with furious ad hominem contempt, but never answers the refutations of his articles on substantive ground — because, of course, he cannot do so.”
It’s hard to fathom the reasoning of these Ahmadi defenders of orthodox Islam. Perhaps they insist on defending Sunni Islam because they keep thinking that if they deploy their taqiyya convincingly, and if they proselytize not for Ahmadiyya Islam alone, but for mainstream Islam, that eventually they will be recognized by Muslims as full-fledged members of the Ummah. It’s a vain hope. The enmity toward them, because of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s claim to be the last prophet and the Mahdi, is ferocious and implacable.
There is another way. Why do the Ahmadi spokesmen not openly declare, in the physical security of the West, during these outreach sessions which the Ahmadis are so tirelessly organizing, how they differ from mainstream Muslims? For the difference is not just over the claims made by and for their founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, but also in their peaceful understanding of Jihad, an understanding quite different from that of mainstream Muslims.
According to Ahmadiyya beliefs, “Jihad can be divided into three categories: Jihad al-Akbar (Greater Jihad) is that against the self and refers to striving against one’s low desires such as anger, lust and hatred; Jihad al-Kabir (Great Jihad) refers to the peaceful propagation of Islam, with special emphasis on spreading the true message of Islam by the pen; Jihad al-Asghar (Smaller Jihad) is an armed struggle only to be resorted to in self-defense under situations of extreme religious persecution whilst not being able to follow one’s fundamental religious beliefs, and even then only under the direct instruction of the Caliph. Ahmadi Muslims point out that as per Islamic prophecy, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad rendered Jihad in its military form as inapplicable in the present age as Islam, as a religion, is not being attacked militarily but through literature and other media, and therefore the response should be likewise. They believe that the answer of hate should be given by love.”
Concerning terrorism, the fourth Caliph of the Community wrote in 1989:
“As far as Islam is concerned, it categorically rejects and condemns every form of terrorism. It does not provide any cover or justification for any act of violence, be it committed by an individual, a group or a government.
Isn’t this the version of Islam with which we kaffirs just might be able to coexist? Why shouldn’t the Ahmadis spread the word of just how they differ from the mainstream on the matter of Jihad, and why those thinking of converting to Islam should recognize that Ahmadiyya Islam, with its emphasis on peaceful Jihad, and its forthright condemnation of terrorism, truly is what mainstream Islam falsely claims to be?
Ahmadis should cease being apologists for mainstream Islam, as Qasim Rashid and Harris Zafar have so puzzlingly been, and instead should unembarrassedly promote only Ahmadiyya Islam. They should not defend Sunni Islam, whose members have so often persecuted, attacked, and murdered Ahmadis.
The Ahmadis are good at proselytizing, and as their numbers, influence, and power increase in the Western world — they are now the fastest-growing sect of Islam — they may perhaps be able to affect, for the better, the position of Ahmadis in Muslim countries. Some of those countries — especially in black Africa — are already well-disposed to the Ahmadis. It would be wonderful if Muslims in those places, disturbed by the violence and terrorism of mainstream Islam, were to turn to, and embrace, Ahmadiyya Islam. The Ahmadiyya Movement has won converts, despite the obvious danger Ahmadis face not just in the West, but among mainstream Muslims in such places as India, Indonesia, and Egypt. It can be seen as a kind of stepping-stone out of Islam for those who are dismayed by the violence in the orthodox version of the faith, but too afraid to become apostates outright. As for the world’s Infidels, they have a vested interest, too, in having Muslims in their own lands turn toward the Ahmadiyya Movement, for that would lessen the domestic menace of violence and terrorism.
If there were not 20 million Ahmadi in the world, but 100 million, it would be harder for orthodox Muslims to treat them with such contumely and murderous hate. But first, the Ahmadis must distance themselves completely from those in the Ahmadiyya Movement, such as Rashid and Zafar, who have been apologists for mainstream Islam. As for those Ahmadis who continue to serve as apologists for orthodox Islam, they should be held up, as Robert Spencer has done so devastatingly with Rashid and Zafar, for inspection, examination, and condemnation. Instead, Ahmadis should not attempt to hide, but instead openly discuss, the kinds of mistreatment (including murder), that Ahmadis have received from orthodox Muslims, and discuss, too, how very different from the mainstream view is the Ahmadi understanding of Jihad.
At these Open-Mosque meetings held by Ahmadis, whenever a stout defender of Islam, following the Qasim Rashid-Harris Zafar model, is conducting the event, visitors should come prepared to ask questions about two things. First, what are the precise differences in doctrine concerning Jihad and terrorism between the Ahmadis and all other Muslims? This will force the Ahmadi apologist to admit that mainstream Islam sanctions both violent Jihad and terrorism, and the Ahmadiyya Movement does neither. Second, a question about the persecution, discrimination, and murder of Ahmadis by mainstream Muslims will remind visitors to the mosque of the cruelty and barbarousness of Muslims, in dealing with those — in this case, the Ahmadis — who are seen as heretics, or even as Infidels, and thus deserving of such treatment.
What about Ahmadi efforts to convert non-Muslims in the West? Here we need to underline, for other Unbelievers, that the Ahmadis are not regarded as true Muslims in many Muslim countries. Whether by constitutional amendment (Pakistan), or law (Saudi Arabia), or whipped-up popular sentiment (Indonesia), they are in many places discriminated against, persecuted, even murdered. They are not allowed to make the Hajj. Would-be converts in the West should know that joining the Ahmadiyya sect can be a dangerous thing. Surely that will dampen the enthusiasm of some.
We should wish the Ahmadis success in converting those who are already Muslims, wherever they may be, to a “kinder, gentler” form of Islam that may lead them eventually out of Islam altogether. But at the same time, we should wish that their proselytizing in the West not succeed among us, the still insubmissive Infidels, for whom embracing Ahmadiyya Islam would be a step in the wrong direction.
First published in Jihad Watch.
Posted on 09/17/2019 3:39 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Sunday, 15 September 2019
Trump is right to take on China, but Canada shouldn't extradite Meng
Nortel had been the victim of attacks by hackers. Around this time, Huawei began its rapid rise and usurped Nortel’s market position
by Conrad Black
There are many ironies in the controversies over the status of Huawei, the Chinese technology giant in the crosshairs of the U.S. Justice department, and its related issue of the detention in Canada of Meng Wanzhou, the company’s chief financial officer (and daughter of the chief executive and founder, Ren Zhengfei), on an extradition request from the United States. The first place to start from Canada’s perspective is the almost certain fact that Huawei’s business was largely built on one of the most colossal and protracted thefts of information and violations of patent laws in the lengthy history of industrial espionage, chiefly at the expense of this country.
Nortel Networks Corporation, formerly Northern Telecom, was by some measurement the largest corporation in Canadian history, and at its peak in about 2000, it accounted for one-third of the entire valuation of all companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, and employed 94,500 people all over the world. It was a great Canadian success story frequently proudly mentioned as indicative of Canada’s presence at the cutting edge of innovative technology. Suddenly everything went horribly wrong and in 2009 the greatest bankruptcy in Canadian history engulfed Nortel, and scores of thousands of jobs and scores of billions of investors’ dollars were lost, while lawyers and accountants gleefully trousered $2.5 billion to conduct the protracted and complicated obsequies of a great Canadian icon. There is good reason to speculate that this was almost entirely due to the theft of its intellectual property by Huawei.
Huawei’s business was largely built on one of the most colossal and protracted thefts of information and violations of patent laws in the lengthy history of industrial espionage, chiefly at the expense of this country
Huawei had been a contract manufacturer of Nortel products in China. Nortel had been victim of a number of attacks by hackers who invaded their internal systems and accessed huge databases of technical, research, financial, commercial and product planning matters, and internal correspondence — everything electronically recorded everywhere in the company. Around this time, Huawei began its rapid rise and usurped Nortel’s market position, taking advantage of the economies in an under-developed country. It received massive assistance from the government of China, and benefited from relaxed Chinese business ethics which, especially 15 years ago, did not conform to what was customary in World Trade Organization countries.
More venerable readers will recall that this company began as the Northern Electric and Manufacturing Company, mainly owned by the Bell Telephone Company and chiefly engaged in producing telephone equipment for its parent. There is something ineffably Canadian about the relative passivity with which Canada absorbed this great commercial rise and fall. In 2000, as subsequent research has demonstrated, Nortel sales began to soften, and Huawei began to spread its wings very determinedly. Nortel only discovered the security breach in 2004, and it was alleged in subsequent proceedings that it moved at a leisurely pace to check the extent of the breach and take the draconian measures required to protect what was still valuable and exclusive in the company’s intellectual property. As matters deteriorated, some companies that acquired assets from Nortel charged that the company had withheld from them the fact that they were not buying exclusive rights. A number of executives of Nortel were eventually charged with various offences but all were acquitted. Management seems not to have grasped the full gravity of the problem until it was too late to save anything. As frequently happens with Canadian prosecutors and regulators in complicated commercial matters, civil and criminal charges were laid at symbolic targets; the executive team that came in after the initial breach was scapegoated, like the unoffending junior official (John Felderhof) who was accused and acquitted over the Bre-X fiasco in 1997. They, like Felderhof, were not guilty of anything except perhaps Dudley Do-Right Canadian incomprehension of how dangerous it is in less genteel countries than this one, and justice was done in their acquittals.
Huawei could not be charged because all that could be deduced was that Nortel had been hacked by Chinese cyber-intruders. The Chinese authorities did not co-operate, any more than they did in the impeachment trial of U.S. president Bill Clinton when U.S prosecutors wanted to question Chinese nationals over possible connections between the authorization of the sale of defence-sensitive technology to the People’s Republic, and Chinese contributions to the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee in 1996. You can’t convict without witnesses, but if Chinese hackers cyber-looted Nortel and Huawei took off like a rocket at once with similar products, it does not require Sherlock Holmes to figure out what happened, or a descent to McCarthyism to accuse the Chinese. One of the assets that was sold out of the Nortel bankruptcy was a large office building on the outskirts of Ottawa that was acquired as a headquarters by the Canadian ministry of national defence. At huge cost, all the communications wiring had to be stripped out because it was a direct cyber conduit for Chinese industrial espionage.
The current relevance of this unhappy episode is that the West generally should be unambiguously supportive of the ongoing U.S. effort to persuade China to conform to civilized international business practices. That effort has no more strenuous supporters than China’s neighbours, including Japan, India, South Korea and Vietnam. No one wishes to antagonize China and no one disputes that the People’s Republic has accomplished the greatest and swiftest emergence ever of any formerly under-developed country. It is also the first historic Great Power to make the full circle from its status as one of the world’s great nations to a ramshackle state of exploitation and vulnerability, and then come back to being one of the world’s most important and respected countries. “China has stood up!” said Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square in 1949. It did so hesitantly through the Korean War, the Great Leap Forward (1950s), and the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, both unmitigated disasters, and it had to take the economic roadmap of the West to make it, under Deng Xiaoping and his successors since the 1980s. But it has done what no other country has done. This was not just rebuilding a shattered advanced country that had lost a war, like Germany and Japan; this was taking a country that had declined for centuries, been pillaged by the world’s Great Powers through the “Open Door” and the “unequal treaties,” and had suffered a brutal invasion and partial occupation by Japan and a prolonged civil war, and raising it in one generation to the level of a superpower.
All the world respects that, but that does not require us to tolerate lawless commercial aggression, and the United States is again, as it was with previous more destructive lawless regimes that threatened all civilization, the indispensable force in countering these practices and incentivizing the Chinese to raise their game. It’s too late for Nortel, but not for everything else. With that said, we should not have an extradition treaty with the United States. In that country, prosecutors win 99 per cent of their cases, 97 per cent of those without trial because of the hideous deformation and abuse of the plea bargain system that effectively incites the extortion of perjured inculpatory testimony. We should not send anyone to another system that does not approach our own standard of judicial fairness (imperfect though it is). This was demonstrated in the Nortel and Bre-X cases — if the defendants had been prosecuted in the U.S., they would have been falsely convicted. We should require the release of Canadians improperly detained in China, warn China that we will shut our market to them if they commit such outrages again, and release Meng Wanzhou.
First published in the National Post.
Posted on 09/15/2019 4:07 AM by Conrad Black