Thursday, March 31, 2011

So everyone loves the Palestinians?

If you've fallen for the picture of Palestinians, beloved people of the Muslim world and tormented only by evil Israelis, well maybe you haven't seen the whole picture. Here's an insight into today's dynamic: Syria, Libya and Jordan have all accused Palestinians of fomenting revolt in their countries, and the Palestinians living in those countries fear they may be deported. So what's really going on? According to Palestinian political analyst Adel Abdel Rahman, Palestinians have become the "rack on which Arab leaders hang their cowardice and collusion against each other." On the other hand, it may turn out that Palestinians have been joining various opposition groups. Add that to the list of mysteries about these opposition groups!

Pat Condell strikes again

Vonnie just sent me this recent video by British commentator Pat Condell. In it, he takes on the United Nations; Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan; and Islamic violations of women's rights - all in just under 7 minutes. He's smart, funny and devastating; enjoy! If you want more of his blistering commentaries, here's a link to one I posted earlier on the Geert Wilders trial in the Netherlands.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More on Libya

From the liberal blog The Daily Beast, here is a report by two Newsweek correspondents who say that some 200 Libyan Al Qaeda operatives lurking in the mountains of Pakistan may be heading home to fight Libyan leader Gaddafi. As a Taliban observer puts it: "This rebellion is the fresh breeze they've been waiting years for." Not to worry, though, according to the authors: it's a long, long way back and very few Islamist terrorists remain in Libya, since Gaddafi killed or imprisoned so many. Plus, the other Libyan rebels are so moderate that any Islamists will have to take a low profile. Like in Egypt, perhaps?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Buycott Israeli products

Opponents of the state of Israel have called for a boycott of Israeli goods tomorrow, March 30. If you want, you can instead make it a buycott day. Here's a link giving the availability of Israeli goods in various U.S. markets. I intend to buy something - I see that Israeli cosmetics are available in Walgreen's as well as major department stores...

A plea from Pakistan

Libby sent me the link to this video, prepared by MEMRI, of an interview in which Pakistani actress Veena Malik responds to charges that she has shamed her family and her country by appearing in an Indian reality show. She challenges her accuser, Mufti Abdul Qavi, to focus on corruption, bribery, and other problems in Pakistan, including sexual abuses committed by the clergy, which are much more serious than the charges he has brought against her. Malik is a very brave and outspoken woman. Let's hope she survives - today's Pakistan is an increasingly dangerous place for someone like her.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Same old, same old

Classic novels are classic for a reason. If you're feeling despondent about wars being declared overnight, about government incomptence and corruption; about the parlous state of education; about how intellectuals make everything worse; or even about the terrible and destructive proliferation of lawyers - cheer up, there's nothing new under the sun!

Or so I learned when Rachel persuaded me to listen to an audio recording of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Check it out if, like me, you somehow missed it. The discovery that we've been going to the dogs a long time made me positively cheerful.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Our new relationship with Egypt

Yet again, Mideast scholar Barry Rubin provides a perspective largely lacking from mainstream media coverage. This time he recounts warning signs suggesting that the new Egyptian regime will be no friend of the United States:

-- Young Google executive and revolutionary hero Wael Ghonim refused to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her trip to Egypt, citing her previous statements in support of the Mubarak government. Last I heard, the State Department was reportedly working with the internet crowd to foment reform.

-- In fact, the youth movement issued the following statement: "The US Administration took the Egypt's revolution lightly and supported the old regime while Egyptian blood was being spilled." Doesn't sound very welcoming, does it?

Barry draws several lessons from this:

-- "Lesson One: Just because you like them doesn't mean they like you.

-- Lesson Two: Just because you help them doesn't mean they will help you.

-- Lesson Three: Just because you pretend they are really moderates doesn't mean it's true."

Rubin predicts that radicals who hate America, not necessarily Islamists, will take over Egypt. He reports, for example, that the 'secular' youth movement has been working with the Muslim Brotherhood for two years.

It's reassuring to know that President Obama's outreach to the Muslim world has been so successful, isn't it? It's looking more and more like what happened to former President Jimmy Carter's policy toward Iran in the late 1970s.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just imagine

Let's say you're a shaker and a mover in the U.S. administration and you want to really make a difference in our foreign policy toward the Arab world. Would you (A) try to figure out where the tumult in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere is leading, and how we can protect our national interests? Or would you (B) beat up on Israel?

Apparently (B) is the right answer, because that's what we're doing. It turns out that we're threatening to gang up with the EU, the UN and Russia to try to force Israel to accept an independent Palestinian state that includes the West Bank, Gaza and parts of Jerusalem.

Now, don't for a minute think this is part of any 'peace process.' As commentator Caroline Glick notes: "Since [the Palestinian state] would not be established in the framework of a peace treaty with Israel, and since its leaders reject Israel’s right to exist, 'Palestine' would be born in a de facto state of war with Israel."

Nor is there any indication that an independent Palestinian state would help overcome the murderous hostility between Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah. Or that it would stop the Palestinian Authority (remember, we think they're the good guys) from inciting terrorist acts like the Fogel family murders in Itamar and then hypocritically condemning (probably only in English) the subsequent celebrations in Rafah. (Imagine handing out candy to Palestinian children because Israeli children had their throats slit in their sleep.)

We would, however, make our European pals happy. Not only would they get to be in the front row when the 'international community' gangs up on Israel, but they could demonstrate their clout at having gotten the United States to agree to an approach they've pushed a long time.

At least all this is easier than figuring out how to combat Islamist pressures in the Muslim world (let alone at home), oppose Iranian aggression, or decide what to do about Libya. Gee, maybe that's why it's so attractive!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Ellison at the King hearings

The hearing on radicalization of American Muslims held by Peter King (R-NY) included a sobbing presentation by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) about Mohammed Salman Hamdani, an American Muslim killed on 9/11 while trying to rescue others.

Ellison said Hamdani had been smeared by people who accused him of conspiring with the terrorists. Problem is, the story was completely false. Here's how Matthew Schaffer describes the true situation:

"... six weeks after the September 11 attacks — before Hamdani’s remains were identified, which Ellison implies to be the turning point of public perception — Congress signed the PATRIOT Act into law with this line included: 'Many Arab Americans and Muslim Americans have acted heroically during the attacks on the United States, including Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old New Yorker of Pakistani descent, who is believed to have gone to the World Trade Center to offer rescue assistance and is now missing.' That is, Hamdani was actually singled out for particular high honors among the thousands of victims of the September 11 attacks."

So why would Ellison invert the truth like that? Presumably because that was his strongest argument. Truly pathetic.

Today's news

I have lots of things to post to this blog, but have been transfixed by the news from Japan. My heart goes out to all those suffering from the earthquakes and tsunami - what horrifying events!

I did want to note, though, that City Journal just published my review of a book by Russian novelist Elena Chudinova about the Islamization of Europe. I realize there are several orders of magnitude difference in importance between the first and second paragraphs of this entry...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The power of a blog

Dear Readers, you should know that this is one powerful blog - within 24 hours of my last posting, NPR CEO Vivian Schiller stepped down and NPR executive Rob Schiller pre-emptively resigned from the job he was about to take at the Aspen Institute.

So beware of my probing analysis!

Seriously, I suspect that what really caused the turmoil was Ron Schiller's statement that NPR would be better off with no government funding. I can't imagine any House bill including NPR funding at this point; NPR's only hope is to get the Senate to sneak it in as part of some larger deal. But we shall see!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

NPR and the Muslim Brotherhood

Here, thanks to the vigilance of Joe, is a video in which two journalists pose as members of the Muslim Brotherhood and offer funding to two NPR executives.

At just over 11 minutes, the video is a bit long, but watch it until the end.

Then you can reflect over whether taxpayers' money should go to NPR. If you agree that tea partiers are gun-toting racists, that Zionists control the media, and that calling NPR National Palestinian Radio accurately reflects its reporting (all ideas apparently shared by the NPR execs), then this is the organization for you.

As Libby said, the congressional hearings should be fun.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Interesting times

It looks like public awareness of Islamism in America is finally growing - and not a moment too soon.

Remember radical UK Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary, who announced a pro-sharia demonstration in front of the White House on March 3? Well, it fizzled, perhaps because of the counter-demonstrators ready and waiting for him. In fact, Choudary may never have left the UK.

And now New York Rep. Peter King will hold the first hearing on Muslim radicalization in the United States this Thursday. Predictably, he's getting a lot of flak, but recent attacks by home-grown Islamist terrorists make his argument for him. If he calls good witnesses and puts reliable data into the public domain, he will have performed a true public service.

Brotherly love

Amir Taheri reports that Kamal al-Halbawi , one of the front-runners for future shaker and mover in Egypt, had this to say during a visit to Iran, which he termed "a true Islamic state:"

"Egypt and the world of Islam as a whole need leaders like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad." Egypt should join"a new world order with Iran and Venezuela plus Hezbollah and Hamas to chase away the Americans. . . . Every night when I go to bed, I pray to wake up the next day to see Israel is wiped off the map."

Did I mention that al-Halbawi is a leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood? (Thanks to Daily Alert.)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Islamists on the march

Mideast scholar John Lamb pointed out to me that Sheikh Qaradawi, when he addressed Egyptians in Tahrir Square, avoided overt anti-Semitic statements, perhaps in order to appeal to the youthful crowd there (or perhaps with regard to his English-speaking audience). It is true that Qaradawi was more measured than in many of his other speeches - but he did call for a march to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which is code for eliminating the State of Israel. Presumably he didn't think that would alienate the crowd.

Journalist Ftouh Souhail reports (in French) that the new Tunisian government has just legalized an Islamist party close to the Muslim Brotherhood. Called 'Renaissance,' it was founded in 1981 by Rachid Ghannouchi, known for his violent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic diatribes. Ghannouchi has been living in exile in London for the past 20 years, but recently returned to Tunisia. As Souhail describes it (in my informal translation):

"The majority of Tunisians don't want an Iranian-style revolution which will take them towards an anti-democratic Islamic regime. Having learned that the bearded Rachid Ghannouchi, described as a Khomeini, now has an Islamic party at his disposal, Tunisian fundamentalists reacted with immense joy."

Add to that the fact that the Tunisians are about to draft a new constitution, and you can see that the prize isn't just control over the present or future government; it's reshaping the basis of Tunisian law.

And Mideast expert Barry Rubin notes MEMRI reports describing the efforts of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to take over the Islamic institutions in that country. The danger, according to him: "If that can imagine. Once Islamists are in place making the 'official' decisions on what constitutes proper Islam, an Islamist state cannot be far away."

It's difficult to be optimistic with things like this happening. Don't forget: there were many idealistic, freedom-loving young Iranians who supported Khomeini in 1978-79 because they simply didn't understand what was going on. They figured it out too late.

More thoughts on the no-fly zone

Last night on the news I watched Senator John Kerry make an impassioned plea for a U.S. no-fly zone in Libya. It seemed odd to me, somehow: after all, he was the guy who wanted us out of Iraq, if I remember correctly. What is it that makes Libyans so much more attractive?

Why should the United States should go to war - and risk the lives of its military - for people whowould probably sprew anti-American hatred without even noticing it?

Nor can Kerry be influenced by the views expressed by at least one Libyan soldier-rebel. Apparently no fan of dithering, indecisive President Obama, the fellow said: "Bring Bush! Make a no fly zone, bomb the planes." He was apparently refering to the no-fly zone imposed on Iraq in 1991 by then U.S. President George Bush." (Thanks to Pamela Geller.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Seeing the silver lining

Joe convinced me that there is a silver lining to yesterday's Supreme Court's decision in favor of the Westboro military funeral protesters. The fact that the Court upheld the First Amendment in this case, he pointed out, makes it very unlikely that it would side with Islamists who argue that Americans shouldn't say anything that offends Muslims.

It's also true that the Supreme Court decision leaves intact the laws of 43 states requiring the protesters to remain at a certain distance from mourners. So I guess I'll just have to go on gnashing my teeth when I see those protesters on TV.

The decomposition of the Mideast

Here's my (informal) translation of an article in French by Guy Millette that caught my eye:

"The decomposition of the Mid-East

Nothing can tell yet when the fall will end. But what you can already say is that, when you look at the Arab world in several months, you will see not an advance toward democratization, but an advance toward Islamization.

These regimes will not match the dreams of Al Qaeda, of course. Politically correct people, for that reason, will call them 'post-Islamic', but that will not be accurate: these regimes will take as their model the AKP as it now behaves in Turkey.

The big winner will be the Iranian regime, which has added to Syria, its ally for 30 years, two new recruits, Turkey and Lebanon, now controlled by Hezbollah. The passage of Iranian war ships through the Red Sea, by the port of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and through the Suez Canal shows that the new rulers of Egypt, but also those in Saudi Arabia, know which way the wind is blowing.

The destabilization of Bahrain is orchestrated by Iran, as is that of Yemen. In the first case, it's a matter of controlling the Straits of Hormuz. In the second, what is in play is the strategic control of Bab el-Mandeb. Somalia, on the other coast of Bab el-Mandeb, is in the hands of pirates and members of Al Qaeda. Djibouti is under attack. The decomposition of Libya is itself the work of Islamists, and the abominable Qaddafi risks creating a state of chaos in which Islamic armed groups will enforce their own law, while tribalism takes the upper hand. Jordan is far from being stable.

The big loser will be Israel, which will find itself more isolated than ever, constrained to watch the Sinai border, and to discover a bit late that trading land for a piece of paper is worth nothing more than the value of that piece of paper.

The other big loser will be the United States which, 30 years after having lost Iran, is about to lose all its influence in the Mid-East.

Those who because of anti-Israelism or anti-Americanism, both strong sentiments in Europe, rejoice too much, must see that Europe itself will take some blows.

If the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb fall into the hands of hostile regimes, all trade with Asia will be affected, but also the price of energy. Any hopes of returning to growth, even weak growth, will evaporate. There will also be more immigrant surges from the Muslim world which will swell the existing immigrant masses in Europe.

Europe will be more Islamic, poorer, more shipwrecked. The Muslim world, which has no elements of cultural capital that contribute to economic development or individual liberty, will sink gently, with bouts of destructive violence.

This situation is already being followed attentively by Russia, where Putin sees all the short-term advantages for him: Russia being an energy exporter, it has an interest, as does Iran, in rising energy prices. China too is following the situation with attention, as its leaders also see short-term advantages.

Those who see in Obama an artisan of universal peace will perhaps wake up, but I doubt it: Those people tend invariably to believe the moon is made of green cheese. As for those who know that, when a U.S. president shows weakness and indecision, the world is more likely to see wars, explosions and the advance of tyrannies, their fears will be realized. Those who knew that Obama was a man of the far left and very open to Islam expected the worst from him. The worst is happening.

As things are going, in one term Obama may make the world less safe for liberty, while causing permanent damage to the United States.

I think Obama will have a place in history.

And don't tell me that I'm inciting anti-Americanism. I love the United States and liberty. That's why I deplore Obama as the first anti-American president of the United States and the first avowed enemy of liberty to have entered the White House."

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Klavan on multiculturalism

If you want to learn all about multiculturalism in under three minutes, here's a short video by commentator Andrew Klavan that just 'bout sums it up - and you get to enjoy his dry wit at the same time.

Struggling to understand

OK, I know things look different from the inside, but here are some aspects of the U.S. response to the current crisis in Libya that are really bothering me.

-- First, our people wait three days on a ferry while the British send in a warship to evacuate theirs. Huh?

-- Second, the Administration now appears to be encouraging talk of using military muscle against Libyan leader Muamar Qaddafi. So...does that mean we'd be enforcing a no-fly zone to support Islamists revolting in the eastern part of the country? Do we really think that will win us their hearts and minds, perhaps the way we won the hearts and minds of jihadists in Afghanistan in the 1980s? Or confer some type of strategic benefit?

-- Third, does anyone in the Administration have any idea how to project military force, let alone the difference between projecting force and using it?

I console myself by saying that the world knows Obama is weak, so there is little he can do now to damage his image. But it's cold comfort.

Putting it all together

So what about the assumption that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the key - and an absolute requirement - for peace in the Mideast? And how can anyone make this argument with a straight face, given what's going on in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Yemen and elsewhere today? Well, Israeli-American commentator Caroline Glick has some ideas.

She compares the left's silence about the slaughter carried out by Vietnamese and Cambodian communists in the 1970s to the way in which the New York Times omitted the main point of the speech just made by Sheikh Qaradawi, the main 'spiritual leader' of the Muslim Brotherhood, in Cairo. After pointedly refusing to share the stage with the secular internet revolutionary leader Wael Gonim, Qaradawi called for the destruction of Israel.

Qaradawi is the most powerful Muslim 'spiritual' authority (yes, I put it in quotes because it sticks in my craw to call a purveyor of hatred 'spiritual') in the world today, so what he says matters a great deal. If you'd like to see him in action for yourself, here is a some short video from MEMRI (courtesy of Charles).

And, in case you're wondering whether virulent anti-Semitism is really that much of a problem, John Rosenthal has collected a series of pictures showing how Libyan demonstrators label their enemies, including Qaddafi, with the Star of David.

For decades, Arab rulers have deflected the anger of their citizens onto the United States and Israel. Those turkeys are now coming home to roost.