Tuesday, March 31, 2009

State Department and sharia law

Harold Koh, the Obama administration's nominee to be Legal Adviser to the Secretary of State, apparently sees no problem with adopting sharia law in the United States. According to an editorial in the Investor's Business Daily: "A New York lawyer, Steven Stein, says Koh in 2007 told the Yale Club of Greenwich that 'in an appropriate case, he didn't see any reason why Shariah law would not be applied to govern a case in the United States.'"

Koh, former dean of the Yale Law School, is in general sympathetic to the idea that U.S. constitutional law should be superseded by international law - including, apparently, sharia law. Wonder what he considers 'appropriate' ... and what commitments he will undertake for the United States if confirmed in his State Department post.

Chic antisemitism

The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens reviews here a play he just saw in New York, where it arrived after a run in London. Entitled "Seven Jewish Children," the play traces the history of a family from the Holocaust to modern-day Israel, depicting the Jews in the story as having morphed from victims into perpetrators.

Stephens reports that the play, which has been appeared in "small but respectable venues to sophisticated audiences," is being well-received. He doesn't claim that its theme is yet mainstream fare, but warns that it can nevertheless poison the American cultural and intellectual scene.

As he puts it: "Racism has become taboo in American society, and that's a very good thing. Anti-Semitism used to be taboo, but that's been eroded by an obsessive criticism of Israel that seems to borrow freely from the classic anti-Semitic repertoire ('tell her they're filth') while adopting the brilliant trick of treating Jewish victimization as a moral ideal from which modern Israel has sadly deviated."

(Thanks to Libby.)

Monday, March 30, 2009

UK turns the corner?

Analyst Barry Rubin argues here that the United Kingdom has turned a corner in dealing with radical Islam. He cites three decisions:

-- to bar Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim El Moussaoui from entering Britain (see this earlier entry);

-- to cut ties to the Muslim Council of Britain, an Islamist group that had been advising the government on how to combat radical Islam;

-- and a new policy of focusing on combating Islamist ideology (one hopes this replaces the earlier speech code in which the term 'Islamist' was never used).

Rubin rightly notes that pressure for the first two decisions came from a new think-tank, the Centre for Social Cohesion, that publicized the cases. In addition, it threatened to sue the government if Moussaoui were allowed to enter.

As for the new policy, let's hope it's 'for real'. After all, it was announced by the same Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, who a month or so ago barred Geert Wilders from entering the UK to watch a viewing of his film Fitna at the House of Lords. She is now calling on British citizens to defend their values - which sounds like an excellent idea.

One way the government could demonstrate its commitment would be to terminate its endorsement of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board. As Rubin puts it:

"The Board has generally, for eight of the last nine years, boycotted the Holocaust day commemoration because it says that Israel is carrying out 'genocide' against Muslims. Its leadership has condemned homosexuality as unacceptable, blamed terrorism in Britain exclusively on the country's involvement in invading Iraq, and advocated a law that would — at least in its interpretation — bar criticism of Islam as religious hatred. This is the group that the British government has entrusted with preparing materials for Muslim schools."

The ability of a small group of researchers to expose facts that, in turn, forced the government to change its policies, confirms the importance of freedom of speech.


People who criticize Islam or Muslims are often accused of Islamophobia - and Islamophobia is increasingly compared with antisemitism. The argument is that Western society now victimizes Muslims as earlier it victimized Jews.

Australian professor Paul Sheehan argues that this is not so. Instead, in the vast majority of cases, negative reactions to Islam and Muslims result from the actions of Muslims themselves. They are the result of cause and effect, not some irrational emotion. He offers the current crime wave in Australia linked to Muslim gangs as evidence - and offers plenty of data. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

What is going on?

Palestinian journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, who recently spoke at several American universities, reports that "there is more sympathy for Hamas there than there is in Ramallah." He encountered a barrage of hate from small groups of non-Arab, non-Muslim extremists.

"I never imagined that I would need police protection while speaking at a university in the U.S. I have been on many Palestinian campuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and I cannot recall one case where I felt intimidated or where someone shouted abuse at me.

Ironically, many of the Arabs and Muslims I met on the campuses were much more understanding and even welcomed my 'even-handed analysis' of the Israeli-Arab conflict."

Why should this be so? In his view:

"What is happening on the U.S. campuses is not about supporting the Palestinians as much as it is about promoting hatred for the Jewish state. It is not really about ending the 'occupation' as much as it is about ending the existence of Israel."

This, folks, is a really dangerous state of affairs, whether you're a supporter of Israel or not. Thugs should never be allowed to dominate academic settings - or anywhere else, for that matter. (Thanks to Melanie Phillips.)

No minaret

An Islamic community near Stuttgart, Germany, opted not to build a minaret on their new mosque after they were the recipients of an outpouring of hate via the internet. As the head of the community put it, they are more concerned to maintain good relations with its neighbors.

Outpourings of hate are bad, no matter what the provocation. But they are more likely to occur if the government and elite refuse to address the problems connected with Muslim immigrant groups - including their susceptibility to being dominated by Islamists seeking to overthrow Western political systems.

If you're wondering what was so wrong about a minaret, I found out when I was in Sarajevo. If the minaret uses loudspeakers for its calls to prayers, five times a day, it's extremely intrusive. (Thanks to Islam in Europe.)

Getting it right

This video shows a cute two-year-old Muslim girl in New York being quizzed on her knowledge of Islam. Note, among other things, her derogatory answers regarding Jews and Christians.

If you're wondering where this kind of teaching leads, UK authorities have just announced that an estimated 200 schoolchildren, some as young as 13, are potential security threats, given their vulnerability to Islamist radicalization. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Finnish dhimmitude

A court in Finland, an EU member state in good standing, has ordered Finnish politician Jussi Halla-aho to stand trial for blasphemy and incitement of an ethnic group. His transgression: posting an entry on his blog calling Mohammed a pedophile for marrying a 6-year-old girl and consumating the marriage when she was 9. (The account of this marriage comes from reliable Islamic sources.)

The EU prides itself on standing for Western values; does anyone remember what those values are? Freedom of speech or freedom of religion, anybody?

(Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Friday, March 27, 2009

I'm confused

This morning's news is that the Obama administration has a new approach to combat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan; that Al Qaeda represents a very serious threat to the United States. This threat analysis is confirmed here, in an article on the administration's commitment to keep counterterrorism as the top priority of the Department of Justice and the FBI.

Why then is Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano talking about 'man-caused disasters', rather than terrorist acts? She says the terminology is intended to move the American public away from the politics of fear, and that it represents a radical departure from Bush administration policies.

I think the new language is simply a further extension of the speech code advanced at the end of the Bush administration: anything to avoid calling Islamist terror by its real name. That would also explain why we now apparently are to talk about 'global contingency operations' rather than the 'global war on terror.'

This is no way to win the war of ideas.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A sea change

Remember when Candidate Obama reassured a Jewish audience that he would support the State of Israel? Well, as is the case with so many campaign promises, this one may be honored primarily in the breach.

Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi cut short a trip to Washington earlier this month after he failed to obtain meetings with any Cabinet member, or with his counterpart, Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Israel Defense Forces played down the schedule changes, saying Ashkenazi returned home to attend a meeting regarding abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, that he had not planned to meet with Mullen, and that he spoke on the phone to officials he couldn't meet. (Thanks to Smooth Stone.)

So what really happened? Ashkenazi was in town to lobby against the planned U.S. dialogue with Iran. Obama officials probably wanted to signal that they want to talk about Palestine, not Iran, and that they want Israel to legitimize Hamas and Hezbollah. That message would be consistent with Obama's video message to Iran, and with the recent announcement by Paul Volcker, Brent Scowcroft, Lee Hamilton and others that the U.S. should talk to Hamas. (Hamilton was co-chair of the study group that wanted to declare defeat and pull out of Iraq.)

Ashkenazi may also have been hoping to obtain weapons and systems that the Bush Administration had blocked for fear they could be used to attack Iran's nuclear weapons facilities. The Israelis must now know this won't happen. Once Benyamin Netanyahu becomes prime minister, expect the temperature to drop further.

I suspect Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and others are also lobbying the Obama administration not to cozy up to Iran. After all, if - or is it already when - Iran gets the bomb, they'll be on the frontline too. However, so far there is no sign that the administration is responding to such pressures.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

JetBlue to the rescue

In case any of you are feeling despondent, try watching the three JetBlue ads at this link. Won't fix any of your problems, but will make you smile! (Thanks to Joe.)

Shifting sands

President Obama, in his recent offer to the Russians, appeared to propose abandoning the missile defense system that the previous administration wished to install in Poland and the Czech Republic. The quid pro quo was Russian support for keeping Iran from obtaining the missiles that the system was designed to stop.

The Russians are highly unlikely to help out with Iranian missiles, especially as it was they who sold Iran the missile technology in the first place. Obama, in a further unnecessary weakening of the U.S. position, implied that he might abandon the missile defense system anyway, since it represented 'unproven technology'.

So where did that leave the Czechs and Poles? With both feet firmly planted in midair, wondering if once again they'd been sold out by a great power. The Czech parliament has yet to approve the deal (the prime minister had to delay the vote for fear it wouldn't pass). And the Polish Foreign Minister has just wondered out loud whether his country will regret trusting the United States.

If you can stand to read the details, this editorial from Investor's Business Daily kinda sums up the problem.

The financial mess

The Center for Freedom and Prosperity Foundation has just released an excellent short video with the best explanation of the financial mess that I've encountered. The video points out that government intervention caused the mortgage crisis, whether it was rapid expansion of subprime lending by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, or the Basel II international banking rules that gave banks incentives to conceal their operations and engage in risky lending.

Why is this so important? Most of the remedies now under consideration involve more government intervention. Most likely, they'll only make things worse. My fellow taxpayers, take heed!

Monday, March 23, 2009

The missing link

The Weekly Standard reports, as did other media outlets, that the British were offended by the offhand, dismissive reception Prime Minister Gordon Brown received during his recent trip to Washington. Among other things, when a British reporter asked why there was no formal dinner, a spokesman for the State Department replied: "There's nothing special about Britain. You're just the same as the other 190 countries in the world."

Diplomacy often hinges on knowing just what to say and when. If the UK diplomats had intimated that the United Kingdom was on the way to becoming a Muslim country, would President Obama have given Brown more favorable treatment?

If at first you don't succeed...

President Obama must agree with this sentiment, because he certainly keeps on trying. As reported earlier, his very public overture to Russia was rebuffed, and now the same fate has befallen his videotaped message of peace and friendship to Iran. Iranian Ayatollah Khamenei called it merely a 'slogan.' Obama's response: keep on trying.

What I don't understand is why this administration prefers to lead with its most valued asset. Normally, diplomats or special envoys work behind the scenes to set up a deal; only when everything is in place is the prestige of the President put on the line. Once Obama has been rebuffed personally, what tools does he have left? And what does any of this have to do with fixing the problem, which is Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons and their missile delivery systems?

Women in Islam

Here are two videos of a talk given in January 2008 by the fearless Wafa Sultan. Wafa Sultan's talk begins about 7.5 minutes into the first tape. She recounts personal stories of women living under sharia law, and warns that she repeatedly heard Muslims in her California mosque talking about replacing the American Constitution with sharia law. Nonie Darwish, another outspoken critic of Islam and author of Now They Call Me Infidel, appears briefly at the end of the second tape.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bulgarian islamists arrested

The Bulgarian authorities have arrested two individuals, Ahmed Bashev and Murat Boshnak, who were recently accused of seeking to impose radical Islam on traditional Muslim villages in Bulgaria. They will be investigated for "exerting pressure on others to force them to practice religion and for instigating religious hatred and ethnic hostility." Sounds like the Bulgarians know a bad situation when they see one. (Thanks to Jihad Watch.)

Home Office decides

The Home Office decided to bar Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim el Moussaoui from entering the UK. As reported earlier, Moussaoui was supposed to teach a short course on political Islam to police officers and other government officials.

The Centre for Social Cohesion had threatened to sue if the Home Office did not declare Moussaoui at least as much of a security threat as Geert Wilders, the Dutch parliamentarian who was barred from entering Britain last month. Geert's sin: a short, revelatory film about radical Islam.

From this distance, it's hard to tell just what the Home Office's motives were, but this is a good decision.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Turning the corner

According to a recent report, polling data suggests positive trends in Iraq. In a survey conducted by ABC News, the BBC and Japan's NHK, 85% of Iraqis considered their neighborhood security to be good. And, according to a CNS News report, 64% of Iraqis support democracy and 58% consider the situation in Iraq to be very good or quite good. (Thanks to Investor's Business Daily.)

Would it really be that painful to admit that we occasionally succeed? I'm not saying life in Iraq is perfect - but it is apparently safer there than in certain spots in Mexico.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A sickening exchange

Anne Bayevsky of Eye on the UN has obtained the transcript of a conference call between a senior State Department official and various human rights and UN organizations regarding U.S. participation in the Durban II conference and in the work of the UN's Human Rights Council. The transcript comes at the end of this article from Pajamas Media (preceding portions describe the politics and issues involved). These NGOs want the United States to engage - to be a 'player' once more at the UN. If that means pandering to gross human rights violators, well, that's not a problem.

Essentially, the Obama administration is trying to maneuver around a rather large obstacle: to curry favor in the UN, the United States must abandon many of its principles. Among other things, it must agree to turn the concept of human rights on its head. That doesn't appear to bother the administration or these NGOs, but difficulties arise when the U.S. public catches on to the game, as it did with the Durban II negotiations.

The administration backed off Durban II but reaffirmed its desire to participate in the work of the Human Rights Council. Expect outrageous U.S. positions as the United States tries to curry favor with Iran, Cuba and Libya, leading lights in the Council.

Iranian missiles

Russian General Vladimir Dvorkin, head of Moscow's Center for Strategic Nuclear Forces, spoke publicly of his concern that Iran will soon have intercontinental missiles capable of striking Europe. Once married with nuclear warheads, he expects those missiles will expand Iran's support of Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist acts and in general boost Iran's ability to dominate the Middle East. (Thanks to Investor's Business Daily.)

I doubt if Dvorkin's views will influence official Russian policy. Russia appears to give more weight to profits from technology sales to Iran, and to the possibility of being a regional player in the Middle East in opposition to the United States. So far the Russian leadership appears unconcerned that Russian territory will also be within range of those missiles.

Wouldn't it be great if someone in the Obama administration were listening to Dvorkin?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Letting justice be done

The International Criminal Court in the Hague just issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for the crimes committed by his government in Darfur. Sounds great, doesn't it? Well, maybe not. John Rosenthal argues here that the ICC has aimed at the wrong suspect; al-Bashir is not as bad as his chief rival, Hassan al-Turabi, who stands to gain most from the attack on al-Bashir.

Turabi is the Islamist leader who welcomed Osama Bin Laden into Sudan in the 1990s, and reportedly fell out with his erstwhile ally al-Bashir when the latter expelled Bin Laden in response to international pressure. He is also the inspiration for one of the two rebel factions in Darfur, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). What, you may wonder, are the politics of JEM? Well, like those of the other rebel faction, they include sympathy for Osama Bin Laden.

If your head is reeling and you really don't know how to untangle this mess...take it as a sign of mental health. What is unhealthy is thinking that, often on the basis of partial or misleading information, you can solve a complex problem by hauling someone before a foreign court in a distant land.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The new Geert?

Douglas Murray, head of the UK think tank Centre for Social Cohesion, has written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith urging her to deny entry into the UK to Dr. Ibrahim el Moussaoui. El Moussaoui is a well-known spokesman for Hezbollah and head of political programming at al-Manar TV, the Hezbollah channel that has been banned in France and Germany for inciting hatred and violence against Jews. Murray argues that, if the Home Office denied entry to Geert Wilders for threatening public security, it certainly should not permit this individual to enter. Murray threatens to sue if the Home Office lets el Moussaoui in.

Of course, one could argue that the circumstances of the two men are quite different. After all, el Moussaoui is being paid to teach a week-long course on political Islam at the University of London for government officials and police officers. Guess that tells you all you need to know about who's socially and morally acceptable for many in today's Britain.

Chas can't take the heat

Chas Freeman has withdrawn his name from consideration for the post of chairman of the National Intelligence Council, according to Politico. His decision followed a hearing in which Senator Joe Lieberman grilled him on his opposition toward Israel and sympathy toward China.

Freeman's publicly stated views are fair game for a Congressional hearing; you can agree or disagree with him, but they certainly should be a topic for discussion, and I find it hard to imagine that he didn't expect to be challenged. The real scandal is that he was even considered, given his financial links to the Saudis and Chinese.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Follow the money

The dust in Gaza is settling and the wallets are out again. The international community, including the U.S. government, is busy reimbursing the Palestinian Authority for the costs of waging unceasing war against Israel.

As Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld points out here, much of the money will go to Hamas, despite protestations to the contrary. And it ain't peanuts; the Palestinians receive an astonishing amount of cash, particularly as compared to the victims in Darfur or those hurt by the tsunami. The result:

"The billions of dollars poured into Gaza since Hamas took over in 2005 have resulted in the strengthening of the radical Islamic Hamas. It keeps the Palestinians under its thumb poor and oppressed and uses their children and women as human shields. Hamas strives not only for the destruction of Israel. It hosts other terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, and uses the Gaza Strip as training grounds. With Iran's help, it threatens to undermine pro Western regimes in the region."

Please, can anyone tell me why my tax dollars are being spent for this?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Italy pulls back from Durban II

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini has announced Italy's withdrawal from the Durban II negotiations, citing 'aggressive and anti-Semitic statements' in the draft final text. A foreign ministry spokesman said Italy would not participate unless the document was changed. (Thanks to Smooth Stone.)

This sounds a lot like the U.S. position. Canada and Israel, on the other hand, have definitely said they will not attend the Durban II conference. The other EU member states continue to waffle.

Don't forget - the evils of Durban II are not not restricted to attempts to de-legitimize Israel. The Organization of the Islamic Conference wants the Durban II conference to approve the resolution, passed last December by the UN General Assembly, that makes 'blasphemy' (eg criticism of any kind) of Islam illegal in international law. The OIC could then argue that this concept has gained worldwide approval - another nail in the coffin of freedom of speech and religion. See this earlier entry for details.

The skinny on anti-Zionism

A couple of days ago I argued that, the vast majority of the time, anti-Zionism equals antisemitism. For any who still doubt my assertion, here's support for my views from a credible source: an Egyptian cleric (thanks to Jihad Watch and MEMRI).

No, Muhammed Hussein Ya'qoub argues, it would not be sufficient for Israel to give Palestinians a state; it is the very existence of the Jews that is the problem. He then quotes a series of Koranic verses (Robert Spencer adds the specific citations in case you want to check them out) to make his case. They are not enemies for occupying land; they are enemies because Allah has called them infidels.

What do you think - will our new special envoy to the region, George Mitchell, understand this? Or will he assume, as have all his predecessors, that the struggle is over territory?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Bulgaria and the caliphate

Chris Deliso, in his book The Coming Balkan Caliphate, included a chapter on growing Islamist trends in Bulgaria, a country that just joined NATO and the EU. Well, thanks to Jihad Watch, here are several examples of one time-honored technique for pushing such change: targeting the schools.

In one village, the school principal is forcing his staff and female students to wear traditional Muslim garb. Parents who refuse to go along are cursed in the Friday sermons. In another, the principal of the high school regularly attends classes in an illegal local fundamentalist school.

Like Bosnia, Bulgaria has for centuries had a local Muslim population that co-existed more or less well with its neighbors. Now the Saudi influence is changing all that - and at the same time wiping out the constitutional rights and freedomes of Bulgarian citizens. (If you want, you can read my review of Deliso's book here.)

Another stellar appointment

UK columnist Melanie Phillips presents here the damning case against former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman, the Obama Administration's nominee for chairman of the National Intelligence Council, or the gatekeeper on the intelligence that will cross the President's desk.

Not only does Freeman have questionable financial ties to Saudi Arabia, China and Iran, but he has publicly defended China's 1989 massacre at Tianamen Square and offered excuses for the 9/11 attackers.

These are serious charges, but what was worrying me most was that Freeman seemed to lack the most important qualification - evidence of tax evasion - for an appointment in this Administration. However, it turns out that he never filed a financial disclosure statement (a document required for every incumbent of a senior-level post in the State Department, so obviously he knew he had to do so). I guess the vetters figured that, since Freeman didn't need to be confirmed, such details were unnecessary.

The inspector general of the National Intelligence Council is now looking into these matters, and the White House is saying Obama didn't approve the appointment. Maybe we'll be in luck and Freeman will join those other inconvenient souls who have already been thrown under the bus.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A view into Hezbollah

Here's a fascinating video clip, courtesy of MEMRI and The Investigative Project, of an interview with a former Hezbollah member who was head of the Hizbullah Students Union at American University in Beirut. He describes how kids are radicalized in the street; and what they are told about the rules for sex and marriage. Remember: you have to register (for free) to see the clip.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sneaky music

Recently, I reported that the State Department withdrew from the negotiations over the UN's Durban II conference. Well, according to Anne Bayevsky of Eye on the UN, the withdrawal wasn't absolute. Rather, it was conditioned on whether a better text could somehow be produced. Since the purpose of Durban II is to demonize Israel, it's hard to see what this means, except that the door is still open a crack.

The State Department also promised to 'participate' for the first time in the UN's Human Rights Council, a travesty dominated by the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The OIC is happy to support any human rights that are consistent with sharia law; at least that's what its Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam states. The Council, in its brief existence, has passed numerous anti-Israeli resolutions - but no other resolutions condemning individual states.

A month ago, President Obama sent a letter to the OIC proposing closer cooperation. The letter's contents were not made public. Perhaps because they would have provoked public outrage?

Anti-Zionism, antisemitism and Holocaust denial

Have you ever wondered why, if anti-Zionism means opposition to the State of Israel, violence against Jews outside Israel spikes when, for example, Palestinians unleash the second Intifada in 2000, or the Israelis fight Hezbollah (2006) or Hamas (2008-09)? After all, the victims of these attacks are citizens of other countries and, for all you know, never had any dealings with Israel.

How about a simpler explanation: anti-Zionism is the new, respectable moniker for antisemitism. An anti-Zionist typically believes that Jews control the media and government in the United States, perhaps in Europe, or maybe Jews want to dominate the whole world. Widespread throughout the Muslim world and increasingly common in the West, these ideas are the same as those used by the Nazis. All Jews, not just Israelis or the State of Israel, are the real target.

And if you want to watch this sickening sequence come full circle, read John Rosenthal's article showing how Germany and other European countries are tacitly accepting Iranian assertions that the holocaust never happened. There's a reason why Iran is pushing this line: if the holocaust never happened, then there was no reason to set up a Jewish state in Israel, hence there's no reason not to wipe it off the map. (And John is too kind to the United States: we also attended the Munich Security Council but did not walk out when Larjani repeated this policy.) Anti-Zionism is much, much more than a response to Israeli policies; people often oppose policies of countries but rarely do they seek to destroy the countries themselves.