Tag: christianity and Islam

CHRISTIANS & OTHER NON-MUSLIM MINORITIES HAVE GRIM FUTURE IN M.E. OUTSIDE ISRAEL

Dhimmis No More Christians’ Trauma in the Middle East: Daniel Pipes, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 21, 2017 — A new strain of thought has developed in Sunni Muslim thinking: ethnic cleansing. It’s not genocide, but it involves expelling non-Sunni populations.

How Roger Waters Stole Christmas: Bradley Martin, Christian Post, Dec. 12, 2017— Pink Floyd founder and anti-Israel activist Roger Waters announced that he will perform a closed-circuit pre-Christmas show to be broadcast in Bethlehem's Manger Square, scheduled to take place later this month.

Europe: The Islamization of Christmas: Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 24, 2017— This year's Christmas season has been marked by Islam-related controversies in nearly every European country.

Condemning the Jewish State in Jesus' Name, Theologian Gary Burge is Making a Comeback: Dexter Van Zile, Jerusalem Journal, Dec. 15, 2017 — For a while, it looked like Gary Burge’s career as a prominent anti-Zionist in the United States had come to an end and that he was going to suffer a fate similar to his theological twin across the pond in England, Anglican Priest Stephen Sizer.

 

On Topic Links

 

Countering Christmas Jihad: Hany Ghoraba, IPT News, Dec. 19, 2017

Christian Reaction to Trump's Jerusalem Speech: Are We Headed to a Major Reset in Jewish-Christian Relations?: Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, Christian Post, Nov. 30, 2017

America’s 20 Most Influential Pro-Israel Evangelical Christians: Eliana Rudee, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 24, 2017

Critics Highlight Iran’s Persecution of Christians as Foreign Minister Zarif Issues Christmas Greetings: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Dec. 24, 2017

 

 

 

DHIMMIS NO MORE CHRISTIANS’ TRAUMA IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Daniel Pipes

Breaking Israel News, Dec. 21, 2017

 

A new strain of thought has developed in Sunni Muslim thinking: ethnic cleansing. It’s not genocide, but it involves expelling non-Sunni populations. Its spread means that non-Muslim minorities have a grim future in Muslim-majority countries; and some may have no future there at all. I shall trace the origins of ethnic cleansing in the Middle East, note its impact especially on Christians, and consider responses to it.

 

To begin, let us look at the standing of non-Muslims in Muslim-majority countries before 1800. Muslims viewed non-Muslim in two categories: monotheists recognized by Islam as adhering to a valid faith (this being mostly Jews and Christians) and polytheists (especially Hindus) lacking that recognition. The former category, our topic here, are known as People of the Book (Ahl al-Kitab). Muslims were relatively tolerant of People of the Book – but only if they accepted becoming dhimmi (protected persons) who acknowledged the rule of Muslims and the superiority of Islam; in other words, if they accepted an inferior status. They had to pay special taxes (called jizya) could not serve in the military or the police or, more generally, exercise authority over Muslims. Sumptuary laws abounded; a Christian or Jew should walk or go by mule but not on a horse and should defer to a Muslim on the street. (Of course, actual practice differed from one country to another and from one era to another.)

 

The recognized place granted to religious minorities made Muslim-ruled countries quite unlike premodern Christendom. Christians under Muslim rule enjoyed better conditions than Muslims under Christian rule; in 1200 or so, one would much rather be a Christian living in Muslim Spain than a Muslim living in Christian Spain. Likewise for Jews: Mark R. Cohen observes that “the Jews of Islam, especially during the formative and classical centuries (up to the thirteenth century), experienced much less persecution than did the Jews of Christendom.” But we must not romanticize the dhimmi status. Yes, it offered a degree of tolerance, cohabitation, and deference – but these were premised on the assumption of Muslim superiority and non-Muslim inferiority. It could also be abused at whim by Muslims. No modern citizen would accept the disabilities that accompanied living as a dhimmi.

 

Indeed, the dhimmi status came crashing down in modern times, which is to say after 1800, as European powers (British, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and others) overwhelmed nearly the whole Muslim world. Even those few countries – Yemen, Arabia, Turkey, Iran – that escaped direct European control felt Europe’s predominance. Christian imperialists flipped the dhimmi status on its head, favoring Christians and also Jews, both of whom showed greater willingness to accept the new rulers, learn their languages and skills, work for them, and serve as intermediaries to the Muslim-majority population. Naturally, majority Muslim populations resented this heightened status of Christians and Jews.

 

When European rule came to its inevitable end, Muslims on returning to power put the minorities roughly back in their place – and worse, for the dhimmi status had earlier been discarded and was not to be revived. Unsure of themselves, the new rulers generally looked darkly at Peoples of the Book, angry at their having serviced the imperialists and suspicious of their abiding connections to Europe (and in the Jewish case, new ones to Israel). One could say that the second-class dhimmi status now became a third- or fourth-class post-dhimmistatus. The break-up of the Ottoman Empire witnessed more persecution of Christians and Jews than perhaps ever before, starting with the Armenians of Turkey in the 1910s and culminating with recent Christian traumas in Iraq and Syria.

 

Before continuing with the Christian experience, a few side words on the Jewish one. Ancient Jewish communities disappeared as a result of the collapse of the dhimmi status and the creation of Israel in 1948. Jews decamped or were pushed especially out in the 20-year period after World War II. The small but lively Jewish community of Algeria offers perhaps the most dramatic illustration of the post-imperial changes. The Jews there had so connected themselves to French rule that the entire Jewish community fled the country along with the French rulers in July 1962.[i] In 1945, the Jewish population in Muslim-majority countries numbered about a million; today, it hovers between 30,000 and 40,000, nearly all of whom live in Iran, Turkey, in Morocco. No more than a handful live elsewhere: maybe 60 Jews in Egypt, 9 in Iraq, and even fewer in Afghanistan; these nearly defunct communities of the elderly will no longer exist within a few years.

 

As the expression goes, “First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.” And now is the Christian turn. Christians are now recapitulating the Jewish exodus. From 1500 to 1900, Christians made up a consistent 15 percent of the Middle East’s population, according to David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson. In 1910, that number had dipped to 13.6 percent, according to Todd M. Johnson and Gina A. Zurlo; and in 2010, Christians had been reduced to a meager 4.2 percent, or less than a third as large as a century earlier. The downward trend, of course, is steeply continuing. As the journalist Lee Smith puts it: “Being Christian in the Middle East has never been easy, but the wave of uprisings that has swept the region over the past year has made the situation for the region’s Christian minority almost unbearable.” The examples are alarming, and in many ways unprecedented in the long history of Muslim-Christian relations…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

 

Contents

HOW ROGER WATERS STOLE CHRISTMAS

Bradley Martin

Christian Post, Dec. 12, 2017

 

Pink Floyd founder and anti-Israel activist Roger Waters announced that he will perform a closed-circuit pre-Christmas show to be broadcast in Bethlehem's Manger Square, scheduled to take place later this month. "I have to sadly accept the reality that I'm banging my head against the brick wall of the occupation," said Waters. It would appear all that banging has made Waters' head comfortably numb. Waters has been deemed an anti-Semite by the Anti-Defamation League who has performed with a giant pig-shaped balloon emblazoned with a Star of David. It is doubtful that this show is meant to encourage peace on earth and goodwill towards men.

 

But Waters would do well to remember that performing a pre-Christmas show in Bethlehem is in extremely poor taste. In Bethlehem, along with the rest of the Palestinian-controlled territories, the Christian population is facing the very real threat of extinction. In the birthplace of Jesus, Christians once comprised more than 70 percent of the city's population. Today, Christians constitute less than 15 percent of the population. Under the Palestinian Authority, Christian holy sites are routinely desecrated and destroyed. The PA has shown contempt for Christian holy sites, as exemplified when Yasser Arafat turned the Greek Orthodox monastery near the Church of the Nativity into his own personal domicile during his visits to the city.

 

However, the most outrageous act of desecration in Bethlehem occurred in the Church of the Nativity itself. In 2002, an estimated 180 PA gunmen took over the church, holding the priests, nuns and monks hostage. The terrorists looted the church of its food and valuables. Catholic priests at the site said that some of the Bibles in the church were used as toilet paper, while many valuable sacramental objects were looted.

 

When the hostages were released and the terrorists left the church, it was found that altars, religious objects and furniture were fouled by urine, cigarette butts, and human excrement. Churches, monasteries and convents throughout the Palestinian-controlled territories are frequently desecrated and destroyed, most recently in 2016, when the ruins of an 1,800-year-old Byzantine church in Gaza City was bulldozed by Hamas in order to make room for a shopping mall.

 

Christians are subject to systemic discrimination by both the PA and Hamas. This is to be expected, since Islam is the official religion of both governments. As a result, Christians have been relegated to dhimmi status, a somewhat tolerated but inferior class. The PA's judicial system does not ensure the equal protection of Christians, with injustices such as forced conversions to Islam, physical violence, and even murder. Palestinian Muslims are allowed to seize Christian property with impunity. Due to this ethnic cleansing, the Christian population in the Palestinian-controlled territories dropped from 15 percent of the population in 1950 to less than 1.3 percent today.

 

While Christians under Palestinian rule literally have their backs to the wall, the situation in Israel is quite the opposite. Since the Jewish State declared independence in 1948, the Christian population has enjoyed a five-fold increase, to an estimated 158,000 citizens. According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, Christian Arabs fare the best in terms of education when compared to any other religious group in Israel. Christians are to be found in every facet of Israeli civil and political life, exercising considerable influence in Israeli society that is disproportionate to their minority status. Salim Joubran, a Maronite Christian and Israeli Supreme Court judge, was in charge of overseeing Israel's 2015 legislative election. While Joubran retired earlier this year, another Israeli Arab Christian (George Karra) presideson Israel's Supreme Court.

 

Though Waters is apparently oblivious to the bleak reality facing Palestinian Christians, he continues to engage in anti-Semitism. Rather than raise awareness and condemn the ethnic cleansing of Christians under Palestinian rule, Waters prefers to bash Israel every chance he gets. Rock 'n' roll, at its best, is supposed to be about tolerance, peace and love. Does Waters truly want to commemorate this Christmas with even more bigotry and indifference to the suffering of others?

 

Bradley Martin is Deputy Editor for the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research

           

                                                                       

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EUROPE: THE ISLAMIZATION OF CHRISTMAS

Soeren Kern

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 24, 2017

 

This year's Christmas season has been marked by Islam-related controversies in nearly every European country. Most of the conflicts have been generated by Europe's multicultural political and religious elites, who are bending over backwards to secularize Christmas, ostensibly to ensure that Muslims will not be offended by the Christian festival. Many traditional Christmas markets have been renamed — Amsterdam Winter Parade, Brussels Winter Pleasures, Kreuzberger Wintermarkt, London Winterville, Munich Winter Festival — to project a multicultural veneer of secular tolerance.

 

More troubling are the growing efforts to Islamize Christmas. The re-theologizing of Christmas is based on the false premise that the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus (Isa) of the Koran. This religious fusion, sometimes referred to as "Chrislam," is gaining ground in a West that has become biblically illiterate. In Britain, for instance, the All Saints Church in Kingston upon Thames recently held a joint birthday celebration for Jesus and Mohammed. The "Milad, Advent and Christmas Celebration" on December 3 was aimed at "marking the birthday of Prophet Mohammed and looking forward to the birthday of Jesus." The hour-long service included time for Islamic prayer and was followed by the cutting of a birthday cake.

 

The prominent Christian blog "Archbishop Cranmer" rebuked the church for its lack of discernment: "Note how this event is 'Marking the birthday of Prophet Mohammed,' but not looking forward to the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Mohammed gets his prophethood, while Jesus gets neither his prophethood nor his priesthood; neither his kingship nor his messiahship. It's the exalted Prophet Mohammed along with plain old Jesus, because to have added any of his claims to divinity would, of course, have alienated many Muslims (if they hadn't already been alienated by the haram [forbidden by Islam] celebration), which wouldn't have been very interfaith or sensitively missional, would it?"

 

The blog added that exalting Mohammed in churches effectively proclaims that Mohammed is greater than Jesus: "Every time a church accords Mohammed the epithet 'Prophet,' they are rejecting the crucifixion, denying the resurrection of Christ, and refuting that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, for Mohammed denied all of these foundational tenets of the Christian faith."

 

Previously, a passage from the Koran denying that Jesus is the Son of God was read during a service at a Scottish Episcopal Church in Glasgow on Epiphany, a festival commemorating the incarnation of God in the person of Jesus Christ. One of the Queen's chaplains, Gavin Ashenden, referred to the Koran reading as "blasphemy." He added that "there are other and considerably better ways to build 'bridges of understanding'" with Muslims.

 

In London, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, a parliamentary group composed of members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, issued a report, "A Very Merry Muslim Christmas," aimed at drawing attention to the "humanity" of Muslims during Christmas. The report states:   "Too often, Muslim charities come to our attention because of negative media coverage… What we hear even less about is the 'Muslim Merry Christmas.' The soup kitchens, the food banks, the Christmas dinners, the New Year clean-up — work Muslim charities will be busy doing during the Christmas period."

 

In Scotland, the regional government was accused of "undermining" Britain's Christian heritage by promoting "winter festivals" for ethnic minorities while ignoring Christmas. Scotland's International Development Minister, Alasdair Allan, pledged nearly £400,000 ($535,000) to fund 23 events during the winter months. He described them as "key dates in our national calendar" and said the "exciting and diverse" program would help Scots "celebrate everything great about our wonderful country during the winter months." None of the events, however, has any connection to Christmas. A spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland said:

 

"It is deeply disappointing that the Scottish Government has chosen not to recognize the religious reality of Christmas in its Winter Festival events. Over half of the population stated their religion as Christian in the last census. Catholics, and other Christians, may quite rightly wonder why this publicly-funded Festival does not include any events designed to help Scots celebrate the birth of Christ which is undoubtedly the most significant celebration in the winter months." Gordon Macdonald, of Christian charity CARE, added: "It is part of the general secularization that has been taking place within the Scottish Government for a number of years where our Christian heritage and value system has been undermined as a direct result of government policy."

 

In Denmark, a primary school in Graested cancelled a traditional church service marking the beginning of Christmas in order not to offend Muslim pupils. Some parents accused the school of having double-standards: it recently held an event called "Syria Week" in which children immersed themselves in Middle Eastern culture. Ignoring parents, the school board sided with the school: "The board backs the school's decision to create new traditions [emphasis added] that involve children and young people." Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen, who attended the school as a child, said the decision should be reversed. Health Minister Ellen Trane Norby added: "Danish primary schools have a duty to spread education — and teaching the cultural values and knowledge connected to Christmas is an essential part of that."…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

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CONDEMNING THE JEWISH STATE IN JESUS' NAME,

THEOLOGIAN GARY BURGE IS MAKING A COMEBACK

Dexter Van Zile

Jerusalem Journal, Dec. 15, 2017

 

For a while, it looked like Gary Burge’s career as a prominent anti-Zionist in the United States had come to an end and that he was going to suffer a fate similar to his theological twin across the pond in England, Anglican Priest Stephen Sizer. This past Easter, Sizer retired. His long career in the pulpit was marred by a number of unforced errors, such as promoting the notion that Israel was responsible for 9/11 and participating in a Holocaust-denial conference organized by, of all countries, Iran. After these debacles, his superiors in the Anglican Church finally told him to stop talking about the Arab-Israeli conflict altogether. They had had enough.

 

To add insult to injury, the folks at InterVarsity Press in both the United Kingdom and the United States decided that they too had enough and stopped printing his books which promoted the notion that God had abandoned the Jewish people and therefore no longer had any right to live in the Holy Land. For his Anglican superiors, Sizer’s retirement must have been a relief. For a while it looked like Burge, who made similar arguments about the illegitimacy of Jewish claims to the land in his notoriously counter-factual book, Whose Land? Whose Promise? What Christians Are Not Being Told about Israel and the Palestinians, might suffer a similar fate to Sizer.

 

Instead, Burge, who retired from Wheaton College, an Evangelical school in Illinois in 2016, is enjoying a boomlet of sorts. Recent thrust for his reignited star include an article in The Atlantic and an appearance on National Public Radio. Burge, now teaching at Calvin Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was given a platform by these outlets to articulate his response to the controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s December 6, 2017 acknowledgement that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and that the U.S. will eventually move its embassy to the Holy City.

 

Predictably enough, Burge expressed concerns about the action, telling folks that not every Evangelical supports Trump’s decision and that the Evangelicals who do are making a mistake if they root their support in their reading of the Bible. In The Atlantic article, Burge argues that Jews who live in Israel really have no connection to the Israelites in the Bible and therefore, really don’t have any claim to the land of Israel. Moreover, he says, conservative Evangelicals who support Israel may not understand that the modern state of Israel isn’t anything like biblical Israel. After all, he asserts, “[W]hen you build a bridge from biblical Israel to modern Israel, there is an enormous gap in history and theology.”

 

These are interesting arguments for an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA to be making. Given the enormous gap of history and theology between Christ’s declaration that Peter was the rock upon which he would build his church and the founding of the PCUSA in 1983, one could just as easily argue that his denomination’s claim to salvation is as broken and attenuated as Burge says the Jewish claim is to Jerusalem.

 

A lot has happened over the past 2,000 years. But God is free and sovereign. If he can find a way to grant salvation to Presbyterians despite what has happened in the realm of Christianity over the past 2,000 years, maybe he can also use the modern secular state of Israel to demonstrate the firmness of His Promises to Jews in the 21st Century. If he can extend his promise of salvation to Christians in spite of all that has happened since the anointing of St. Peter as the leader of his church 2,000 years ago, maybe he still has a place in his heart for the Jews…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Countering Christmas Jihad: Hany Ghoraba, IPT News, Dec. 19, 2017—"Soon on your holidays," a sentence that would typically befit the celebrations of the Christmas festivities, was turned into a terrifying threat posted recently on an ISIS-related network vowing to attack major European cities during the Christmas holidays.

Christian Reaction to Trump's Jerusalem Speech: Are We Headed to a Major Reset in Jewish-Christian Relations?: Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, Christian Post, Nov. 30, 2017 —President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital was met with enthusiasm by most American Jews. Christian reaction to the announcement, however, has been an eye-opener, and might have greater impact upon future Jewish-Christian relations than the President's announcement will ultimately have on the politics of the Middle East.

America’s 20 Most Influential Pro-Israel Evangelical Christians: Eliana Rudee, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 24, 2017—Newsmax has recently published its 100 Most Influential Evangelicals in America list, ranking pastors, teachers, politicians, athletes, and entertainers “from all walks of life whose faith leads them to live differently and to help others in a variety of ways.” Breaking Israel News wondered: How many of these prominent Christians use their influence to support Israel through investment and advocacy? Below, find BIN’s exclusive list of the top 20 pro-Israel Christians in America.

Critics Highlight Iran’s Persecution of Christians as Foreign Minister Zarif Issues Christmas Greetings: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Dec. 24, 2017—Iran’s foreign minister encountered an angry response on Sunday when he took to Twitter on Christmas Eve to wish a “happy and peaceful Christmas to all.” Citing a verse from the Quran, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif – a key architect, with former US Secretary of State John Kerry, of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal – declared: “May Christ’s universal message of peace be embraced in the coming year.”

                                                              

 

 

AMID WESTERN CRISIS & DECLINE, RUSSIAN F.M. CALLS FOR A “POST-WEST WORLD ORDER”

Do We Still Want the West?: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 20, 2017— In the late 1980s Stanford University did away with its required Western civilization course after Jesse Jackson led students in a chant of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!”

What Does 'Western Culture' Mean Anyway?: Giulio Meotti, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 20, 2017— In a Wall Street Journal column, Bret Stephens recently wrote that Western societies lack the “civilizational self-belief” that others have.

Fear a ‘Post-West World’: Noah Rothman, Commentary, Feb. 21, 2017— Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did the world a service this weekend when he abandoned coyly evasive and tiresome Russian diplo-speak by outright advocating for the creation of a “post-West world order.”

Europe: "The Era of Liberal Babble": Judith Bergman, Gatestone Institute, Mar. 14, 2017— Europe, so many years after the Cold War, is ideologically divided into a new East and a West.

               

On Topic Links

 

Whose West?: Daniel Larison, American Conservative, Feb. 21, 2017

It's OK to Say Western Civilization is Superior: Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, Mar. 14, 2017

"Celebrating" Orientalism: Richard Landes, Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2017

The West has Finally Woken Up: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 17, 2017

 

                                      

 

 DO WE STILL WANT THE WEST?

Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 20, 2017

 

In the late 1980s Stanford University did away with its required Western civilization course after Jesse Jackson led students in a chant of “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Western Civ has got to go!” Campus conservatives tried to bring it back last year, but the effort failed in a student vote by a 6 to 1 margin. They should try pushing Western Civ again. To adapt the line in that Passenger song, you only know you love it when you let it go.

 

The thought comes to mind following Sergei Lavrov’s Orwellian speech last week at the Munich Security Conference, in which the Russian foreign minister called for a “post-West world order.” He also used the occasion to deny Moscow’s involvement in hacking U.S. and European elections, to announce that his government would recognize passports issued by its puppet state in eastern Ukraine, and to call for an end to the “post-truth” and “post-fact” state of international relations.

 

Mr. Lavrov understands something that ought to be increasingly clear to American and European audiences: The West—as a geopolitical bloc, a cultural expression, a moral ideal—is in deep trouble. However weak Russia may be economically, and however cynical its people might be about their regime, Russians continue to drink from a deep well of civilizational self-belief. The same can be said about the Chinese, and perhaps even of the Islamic world too, troubled as it is. The West? Not so much.

 

The United States has elected as president a man who has repeatedly voiced his disdain for NATO, the World Trade Organization and other institutions of the Western-led world order. He publicly calls the press “an enemy of the American people” and conjures conspiracy theories about voter fraud whose only purpose is to lend credence to his claim that the system is rigged. He is our first post-rational president, whose approach to questions of fact recalls the deconstructionism of the late Jacques Derrida: There are no truths; reality is negotiable.

 

Then there’s Europe, where youth unemployment runs close to 20% and centrist politicians wonder why they have a problem. In France, the National Front’s Marine Le Pen is gaining in the polls, despite expert predictions that she can’t possibly win the presidency. In Holland, nationalist politician Geert Wilders says of Moroccan immigrants: “Not all are scum.” Where have we heard these things before?

 

In Munich on Saturday, Mike Pence implored NATO members to spend more on their defense—a complaint Europeans also heard from the Obama and Bush administrations. Sigmar Gabriel, Germany’s foreign minister, instantly brushed the vice president’s plea aside. “I don’t know where Germany can find billions of euros to boost defense spending,” he said, “if politicians also want lower taxes.” Berlin spends 1.2% of its GDP on defense, well below the 2% NATO requirement and among the lowest in Europe. As of 2014, it could deploy a grand total of 10 attack helicopters and one submarine. Does Germany still want the West, insofar as it’s able to contribute to its collective defense?

 

What about other countries? Twenty-five years ago, becoming a part of “the West” was the dream from Budapest to Ulan Bator. Not anymore. Russia took itself off the Westernization track shortly after the turn of the century. Turkey followed a few years later. Thailand is on its way to becoming a version of what Myanmar had been up until a few years ago, while Malaysia is floating into China’s orbit. Ditto for the Philippines. Mexico may soon follow a similar trajectory if the Trump administration continues to pursue its bad-neighbor policy, and if a Chavista-like figure such as Andrés Manuel López Obrador comes to power in next year’s presidential election.

 

One can point to many reasons, specific and general, why the West no longer attracts imitators. Let’s point to the main reason. There was a time when the West knew what it was about. It did so because it thought about itself—often in freshman Western Civ classes. It understood that its moral foundations had been laid in Jerusalem; its philosophical ones in Athens; its legal ones in Rome. It treated with reverence concepts of reason and revelation, freedom and responsibility, whose contradictions it learned to harmonize and harness over time. It believed in the excellence of its music and literature, and in the superiority of its political ideals. It was not ashamed of its prosperity. If it was arrogant and sinful, as all civilizations are, it also had a tradition of remorse and doubt to temper its edges and broaden its horizons. It cultivated the virtue of skepticism while avoiding the temptation of cynicism.

 

And it believed all of this was worth defending—in classrooms and newspapers and statehouses and battlefields. We’ve since raised generations to believe none of this, only to be shocked by the rise of anti-Western politics. If you want children to learn the values of a civilization that can immunize them from a Trump, a Le Pen or a Lavrov, you can start by teaching it.

 

 

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WHAT DOES 'WESTERN CULTURE' MEAN ANYWAY?                                                                 

Giulio Meotti

Arutz Sheva, Mar. 20, 2017

 

In a Wall Street Journal column, Bret Stephens recently wrote that Western societies lack the “civilizational self-belief” that others have. Daniel Larison in the American Conservative replied to him that “in modern times, ‘the West’ has often been even more narrowly defined to exclude nations that objectively share the same intellectual and religious heritage for contemporary political reasons”.

 

Larison is right: “Western culture” is not what liberals have in mind. Europe’s political establishment is still suffering from shock at the election of Donald Trump and the wave of populist movements, from France to the Netherlands. “The West”, the liberal establishment repeats as a mantra, is under threat from Russian expansionism. But what are these “Western values,” according to our élites?  Gender ideology? Multiculturalism? Secularism? Ideological and mandatory open borders? Pacifism? Slander of Israel? Eugenics? Feminism? Cultural sanctimony?

 

Take Emmanuel Macron, the most Western of the French presidential candidates, the icon of the pro-European élite. He just decried French colonialism and preached more open borders for Europe. Malia Sorel-Sutter in an interview with Le Figaro explained the difference between Macron and his contender, Francois Fillon: “For one, French culture does not exist, when for the other it is part of a desire to continue France from a cultural point of view,” said the author of Decaying France.

 

Think about what just happened to Charles Murray, the conservative guru, who was almost lynched at the liberal college of Middlebury. “Western culture” for these liberals means that a conservative philosopher cannot take the podium in the socialist state of Vermont. “Western culture” for these liberals means that the Norwegian minister Sylvi Listhaug can be slammed for wearing a crucifix.  Western culture” for these liberals is under attack if Trump defunds the shameful abortion provider Planned Parenthood. “Western culture” for these liberals is under threat if the US Supreme Court refuses to hear the case for transgender rights in restrooms.

 

Steve Bannon’s ideas about the West, capitalism and the threat of Islam to the Judeo-Christian civilization seem much better to me than the oped pages of the New York Times or the London University students’ ideology, who just asked to remove from their curricula Plato and Kant, among other Western philosophers, because they represent “colonialism”. “Western culture” for me means Goethe’s books, Leopardi’s poems, Bach’s cantatas, the French abbeys, the Sistin Chapel, Solzenitsyn’s Gulag Arcipelago. For these puerile liberals, “Western culture” is a caricature to be protected by trigger warnings and safe spaces. No wonder Europe and the West are not respected today.                                  

                                                                       

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                               FEAR A ‘POST-WEST WORLD’

                                                   Noah Rothman

                                                               Commentary, Feb. 21, 2017

 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov did the world a service this weekend when he abandoned coyly evasive and tiresome Russian diplo-speak by outright advocating for the creation of a “post-West world order.” These comments, made before an audience of European and American security professionals who are already sufficiently spooked by Donald Trump’s campaign-trail flirtation with the abandonment of the Atlantic alliance, surely disturbed the conference’s Western attendees. Good. It is about time that someone properly framed the stakes of the ideological and strategic competition between revisionist powers and the Western-led post-War order. The West’s intellectual elite certainly are not up to the task.

 

Wall Street Journal editor…Bret Stephens observed in a recent column that the constructs of the West—cultural, educational, and geostrategic—are no longer defended by their inheritors and chief beneficiaries. Indeed, Western elites have for too long evidenced only shame in their shared heritage. A self-hating strain of liberal intellectual culture that equates the advancement of Western values and interests as some form of exploitive imperialism isn’t new (although adherents of this view are rarely so critical of revisionist powers’ military and commercial exploits). What is both new and worrisome is that this impulse among prohibitively self-critical Westerners has not abated even as revisionist powers like Russia are presenting as clear and unattractive a contrast with the West as they have in a generation.

 

Moscow is a unique threat to Western intellectual life, in part, because it is so interested in engaging in it. Unlike China, which makes no pretense toward democratic aspirations, Russia pretends to be a representative republic. It devotes extensive effort and vast sums to influencing the Democratic process in the West and to courting its agents of influence (or, in the Soviet parlance, “subconscious multiplicators,” aka “useful idiots”) to advance its self-serving propaganda. As its active measures campaigns intensify, so, too, do its abuses and crimes.

 

On the international stage, Moscow has become the first European power to invade and summarily annex territory in a neighboring country since Stalin absorbed portions of Poland in 1945. Those sovereign territories it does not seize and appropriate outright it destabilizes and gradually reintegrates into the Russian sphere (the Donbas region of Ukraine now joins the mock sovereignties of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are being integrated into the Russian Federation). Moscow has discovered that it doesn’t need to invade and occupy whole nations in its near abroad to paralyze them and enjoy a veto over their political evolution.

 

The West often pursues its geopolitical interests in ways that trouble its critics on the populist right and the socialist left, but neither can convincingly draw a moral or strategic equivalence between these actions and those of Western capitals.

 

These are only the most destabilizing actions taken by Moscow that threatens to topple the post-War order. The way in which Moscow has partnered with its illiberal allies in Damascus and Tehran provide us with a window into what a “post-West” world would look like. In Syria, Moscow directed and participated in direct attacks on civilians, hospitals, and first responders, including the alleged use of bunker-buster and incendiary munitions on civilian targets. There is clear evidence that Russia has abetted in and facilitated starvation campaigns targeting whole cities.  The United States has provided evidence implicating Russia in an attack on a United Nations aid convoy that would have relieved the siege on rebel-held Aleppo.

 

Moscow’s disregard for civilian life in a warzone is as much deliberate is it is careless. The not-so-frozen conflict in Ukraine’s East opened with an attack by Russian-armed-and-funded “separatists” on a civilian airliner using a sophisticated surface-to-air missile, killing over two hundred Western civilians. The most recent flare-ups along the contact line between Ukrainian troops and separatists have often been preceded by OSCE monitors suddenly discovering truckloads of grad rockets headed for the front. These deliberate violations of the so-called “Minsk process” and the lives that are lost are of strategic value for the Kremlin. No international agreement or multilateral framework prevents Russia from pursuing its near-term objectives.

 

This is to say nothing of how Moscow treats dissenters on the home front. Modern-day Moscow is a place where prominent opposition figures are repeatedly shot within eyesight of the Kremlin, where auditors who allege government-sanctioned corruption are imprisoned on trumped-up charges and tortured to death, and where reporters who investigate the conduct of military campaigns are targeted for assassination. It is a place where homosexuals are attacked for their deviancy, where church life is regulated, and evangelism is legally prohibited. It is a place where abortions are prolific, and life expectancy is short.

 

Given all this, it boggles the mind that any classically liberal Westerner would even entertain the notion that a “post-West world order” is a desirable alternative to the order stewarded by the West and the United States, in particular. American voters flirting with the prospect of shrugging off the burdens bequeathed to them by the ambitious, self-sacrificing predecessors are playing with fire. Though they might imagine it as such, a “Post-West world order” is not one that absolves Americans of thankless responsibilities to global peace. Indeed, it would be one that would demand of them sacrifices they cannot possibly imagine.       

                                                                           

                                                                           

Contents

 

EUROPE: "THE ERA OF LIBERAL BABBLE"

Judith Bergman

Gatestone Institute, Mar. 14, 2017

 

Europe, so many years after the Cold War, is ideologically divided into a new East and a West. This time, the schism is over multiculturalism. What Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has termed "liberal babble" continues to govern Western Europe's response to the challenges that migration and Islamic terrorism have brought, especially to personal security. The Western European establishment considers arming oneself against terrorists, rapists and other ill-wishers outlandish, even in the face of the inability of Europe's security establishments to prevent mass terrorist atrocities, such as those that took place in Paris at the Bataclan Theater or the July14 truck-ramming in Nice.

 

The European Union's reaction to terror has been to make Europe's already restrictive gun laws even more restrictive. The problem is that this restrictiveness contradicts the EU's own reports: these show that homicides committed in Europe are mainly committed with illegal firearms. In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, it is still normal to want to defend yourself. Last summer, Czech President Milos Zeman even encouraged citizens to arm themselves against Islamic terrorism. "I really think that citizens should arm themselves against terrorists. And I honestly admit that I changed my mind, because previously I was against [citizens] having too many weapons. After these attacks, I don't think so".

 

Since the president's remarks, the Czech Interior Minister, Milan Chovanec, has proposed extending the use of arms in the event of a terrorist attack. He explained that despite strict security measures, it is not always possible for the police to guarantee a fast and effective intervention. Fast action from a member of the public could prevent the loss of many lives. Such reasoning, often seen as laughable in Western Europe, reflects an understanding of the fear that has become a recurring theme on the continent. In Germany, a recent poll showed that two out of three Germans are afraid of becoming the victim of a terrorist attack and 10% perceive an "acute threat" to their safety. Among women, the figures were even higher. 74% responded that they sometimes feel unsafe in crowded places, and 9% said they felt permanently threatened and scared.

 

Western European leaders, on the other hand, pretend not to understand this fear. In 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was asked how Europe could be protected against Islamization. Merkel, who does not move without her own personal security team consisting of 15-20 armed bodyguards around her, working in shifts, answered: "Fear is not a good adviser. It is better that we should have the courage once again to deal more strongly with our own Christian roots." In December, she told members of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), who were asking how to reassure the public about integrating migrants, "This could also broaden your horizons." (This is the same Merkel, who in 2010 said that multiculturalism had "utterly failed").

 

As Western Europeans are discovering, however, that the state is increasingly unable to protect them, they have begun acting on their fears: In France, a survey showed an increase of almost 40% in gun license requests since 2011. "Before the beginning of 2015, it was only a vague trend. Since the 'Charlie Hebdo', Bataclan and Nice attacks, [gun license requests] have become a growing phenomenon", wrote Le Nouvel Observateur.

 

In Belgium, requests for gun license applications soared in one major province, Liège, doubling in just five years. "The explanation may lie in the current security context, which generates feelings of insecurity among the population", said officials from Liège's Arms Service, the state body in charge of granting gun licenses in the province. In the wake of mass sexual attacks by migrants in Cologne, major German cities all reported an increase of requests for weapons permits. Cologne police estimated that they received at least 304 applications within just two weeks of the mass sexual assaults. In 2015, the city's police force saw only 408 applications total over the entire year.

 

Switzerland has also seen a drastic rise in gun permit applications, with all 12 cantons reporting an increase from 2015. Interim 2016 figures show a further escalation. "There's no official explanation for the rise, but in general we see a connection to Europe's terrorist attacks," said Hanspeter Kruesi, a police spokesman in the Swiss canton of St. Gallen. Gun sellers in Austria also said that interest in weapons grew after a large number of refugees arrived. "Fear is very much a driving force," said Robert Siegert, a gun maker and the weapons trade spokesman at the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.

 

Uninhibited by the obvious alarm of their citizens, the EU nevertheless carries on its immigration policies. "I believe Europeans should understand that we need migration for our economies and for our welfare systems, with the current demographic trend we have to be sustainable," said Federica Mogherini, the EU's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy. She added that the continent "does not and will not close its doors" to migrants. Mogherini is probably not interested in a recent Chatham House study, in which an average of 55% of the people across the 10 European countries surveyed wanted to stop all future immigration from mainly Muslim countries. Only two of the countries surveyed were from Eastern Europe. A ban was supported by 71% of people in Poland, 65% in Austria, 53% in Germany and 51% in Italy. In the UK, 47% supported a ban.

 

Ironically, Western political elites consider this clearly widespread sentiment against Muslim immigration "racist" and "Islamophobic" and consequently disregard it — thereby empowering anti-immigration political parties. Several countries in Eastern Europe, such as Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, have refused to take in more migrants, and several Balkan countries have completely closed their borders. Czech President Milos Zeman has openly stated, "The experience of Western European countries which have ghettos and excluded localities shows that the integration of the Muslim community is practically impossible"…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents                                                              

 

On Topic Links

 

Whose West?: Daniel Larison, American Conservative, Feb. 21, 2017—Bret Stephens thinks Western societies lack the “civilizational self-belief” that others have: Mr. Lavrov understands something that ought to be increasingly clear to American and European audiences: The West—as a geopolitical bloc, a cultural expression, a moral ideal—is in deep trouble.

It's OK to Say Western Civilization is Superior: Tarek Fatah, Toronto Sun, Mar. 14, 2017—Are those of us who believe contemporary Western civilization, rooted in Europe’s Enlightenment, is superior to what, say, modern China or Egypt have to offer, racist?

"Celebrating" Orientalism: Richard Landes, Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2017—Whether one views the impact of Edward Said (1935-2003) on academia as a brilliant triumph or a catastrophic tragedy, few can question the astonishing scope and penetration of his magnum opus, Orientalism.

The West has Finally Woken Up: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Mar. 17, 2017—Sometimes it's a good idea to take a step backwards, look at reality from a distance, and see the larger picture, taking in the whole forest rather than just the individual trees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WESTERN LEADERS IN DENIAL OF ISLAMIST THREAT AS TERROR WAVE STRIKES EUROPE & MIDDLE EAST

 

Merkel Government Still in Denial: Vijeta Uniyal, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 20, 2016 — Monday's terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market killed at least 12 people and injured 50 others.

Jordan’s Image as a Stable Oasis Takes a Hit After Karak Attack: Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 20, 2016 — Jordan’s King Abdullah visited King Hussein Medical Center in Amman on Sunday to check on the condition of security forces and civilians injured in the attack in southern Jordan that killed seven officers…

Turkey Gripped by Terror as Russian Ambassador Killed in Ankara: Barın Kayaoğlu, Al-Monitor, Dec. 19, 2016 — A suicide bomber struck a bus full of Turkish army conscripts on leave in the central Anatolian town of Kayseri on Dec. 17, killing 13 and wounding more than 50.

Resurgent Terror in Egypt: Yoni Ben Menachem, JCPA, Dec. 18, 2016— The suicide bombing at the Coptic church in central Cairo on December 11, 2016

 

On Topic Links

 

Turkey, Russia and an Assassination: The Swirling Crises, Explained: Max Fisher, New York Times, Dec. 19, 2016 

Egypt’s Deadliest Church Attack: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 13, 2016

The Fall of Aleppo Is a Huge Gift to ISIS : Michael Weiss & Hassan Hassan, Daily Beast, Dec. 18, 2016

Hezbollah vs. ISIS. vs. Israel: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 12, 2016

 

 

MERKEL GOVERNMENT STILL IN DENIAL

Vijeta Uniyal

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 20, 2016

 

Monday's terrorist attack on a Berlin Christmas market killed at least 12 people and injured 50 others. Islamic State took responsibility for the truck-ramming attack, as recommend by the al-Qaeda magazine, Inspire, and similar to the July 14 attack in the French city of Nice, and countless car-rammings in Israel. Now Europeans feel what Israelis live with every day.

 

Earlier this year, Germany was hit by a series of ISIS-inspired attacks and failed terror plots. Despite that almost all the perpetrators were recent Syrian or Afghan migrants, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in the middle of a re-election bid, has stuck to her claim that there is "no connection" between terror attacks in the country and uncontrolled mass migration from Arab and Muslim lands.

 

Ahead of an election year, Merkel and her coalition partners also want to avoid another mass sexual attack — in Cologne. Adding insult to injury, the Mayor of Cologne, Henriette Reker, is planning to put on a big show this coming New Year's Eve in the city's main square. After an elaborate year-long cover up, the city will be lighting up the crime scene as part of a multi-media show. "The City of Cologne has announced plans for a spectacular multi-media show in the area immediately surrounding the famous Gothic cathedral, close to the main train station," state-run broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

 

"Cologne will send good images to the world," says the city's mayor. The taxpayer-funded spectacle has been named "Time Drifts Cologne." The "light artist" running the show, Philipp Geist, considers last year's crime scene "a fantastic place for an art installation." Of an estimated two thousand exclusively Muslim men who raped, assaulted and robbed more than 1200 women, almost all the attackers have managed to walk free. Ralf Jäger, Interior Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, admitted recently that "most of the cases will remain unsolved."

 

An estimated 1,800 police officers will be on duty in Cologne on New Year's Eve, compared to just 140 last year. Barricades have been erected in the city center to check the flow of the crowd. The city's historic cathedral and adjoining area have been placed under a crush barrier. Police will man observation posts and fly helicopters to monitor the crowd, and deploy mounted police and six armoured vehicles for riot-control. "No expense will be spared," assured the mayor. In an important election year, the government wants to defend the city to the last taxpayer dime.

 

Even before it can face any real onslaught, however, Merkel's fortification is showing some serious cracks. Just days ahead of the News Year's Eve, the police union in the eastern German state of Thuringia has issued an open letter describing the crumbling law-and-order situation amid the rising migrant crime. "[You] are abandoning us completely helpless to a superior force," says the desperate note addressed to the Interior Minister of Thuringia. The union claims that politicians have been repeatedly briefed on the deteriorating conditions under which police have been working. "But what changes? Nothing. One instead gets a sense of uninterest."

 

Unwilling to acknowledge the breakdown of law and order in face of the rising migrant crime wave, the German media and politicians are going after the messenger. Their latest target is the head of German Police Union, Rainer Wendt. Wendt's crime, after a series of rape crimes this December, was to speak the obvious truth. "The criminals are using open borders," he said. Ralf Stegner, deputy leader of Social Democratic Party (SPD) and a fervent supporter of Merkel's "Refugees Welcome" policy, denounced Wendt's statement as "politically disgusting and stupid as one can get." …

 

The Merkel government can turn the center of Cologne into an impenetrable fortress for a day or two, but the threat is not going away. The problem lies in the Ruhr region that encircles Cologne. "Have foreign clans turned Ruhr region into a No-Go-Area?" asks the leading German newspaper, Die Welt, just days ahead of News Year's Eve. Meanwhile, representatives of Arab community were reported telling the police in Ruhr, "The police will not win a war with us because we are too many."

 

Chancellor Merkel, Germany's ruling elites and the media can continue putting a happy face on uncontrolled mass-migration from Arab and Muslim lands, or suppress news reporting on rising migrant crime, as much as they want, but they cannot wish away the country's deteriorating law-and-order situation. As the desperate plea of the police union shows, the Merkel government has decided to ignore the plight of law enforcement, at least for now. It should be evident to even a casual observer that her government still does not care about the victims of its own failed "refugee" policy: Germany appears to be heading toward another rough year.                                                               

 

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  JORDAN’S IMAGE AS A STABLE OASIS TAKES

A HIT AFTER KARAK ATTACK                                                                             

Ben Lynfield                                                                             

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 20, 2016

 

Jordan’s King Abdullah visited King Hussein Medical Center in Amman on Sunday to check on the condition of security forces and civilians injured in the attack in southern Jordan that killed seven officers, two Jordanian civilians and one tourist from Canada. Another casualty of the attack, the bloodiest and most audacious in recent years, is Jordan’s self-image as an oasis of stability amid the turmoil swirling around it, notably the civil wars and devastation in Iraq and Syria.

 

The attack, in addition to its human toll, is threatening at many levels. It reached its bloody conclusion at Karak castle, a popular tourist site that became the venue for an hours-long standoff between Jordanian security forces and the gunmen. This is a powerful symbolic blow to Jordan, and the fallout for the kingdom’s already faltering tourism industry will be substantial.

 

Another cause for concern is the geographical scope of the attack. It started when gunmen opened fire on police in Qatraneh, nearly thirty kilometers north of Karak. Gunmen then drove to Karak and went on a shooting spree aimed at officers patrolling the town before holing up in the castle. This means that not only were the security forces unable to detect plans for the attack, they were unable to prevent it from spreading. “There is a lapse in the field security here,” said Daoud Kuttab, a columnist for the Jordan Times. “But the public is extremely supportive of the regime and that shows how isolated are the individuals who carry out these acts.”

 

Still, it must be cause for concern for authorities that the attack took place in an area of Jordan that has traditionally been a bastion of support for the Hashemite monarchy. “If this was an Islamic State attack, it shows that there are holes in the intelligence system since they managed to penetrate the stronghold of the regime,” said Oded Eran, former ambassador to Jordan and a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies.

 

A not insignificant number – estimates range from hundreds to 2,000 – of Jordanians have gone to Syria and Iraq to fight with Islamic State and other radical Sunni groups, and a spate of attacks over the last nine months indicates that there is a spillover of radicalism into Jordan as well as homegrown extremism. Last month, three US military trainers were shot dead at a southern Jordanian base. According to Reuters, they were shot when their car failed to stop at the base’s gate by a Jordanian soldier in an incident in which Washington did not rule out political motives.

 

On June 21, an ISIS attack killed seven Jordanian soldiers at a Syrian-Jordanian border checkpoint. Two weeks earlier, an attack on a Jordanian intelligence post in Baqa refugee camp killed five members of the security forces. In March, seven members of a jihadist cell in the northern town of Irbid were killed in a clash that left one soldier dead.

 

Still, the violence, while worrying, is not seen by Israeli analysts interviewed by The Jerusalem Post as threatening the monarchy. “There is nothing in these attacks to suggest that the fundamental stability of the regime is in danger or that there is a serious deterioration of the legitimacy of the regime in the eyes of the population,” said Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, a specialist on Arab politics at Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center. “The monarchy at this point is sufficiently rooted in the society as a symbol of Jordanian identity and has made sure to cultivate the loyalties of key sectors of society. There are often rumblings in those sectors but fundamentally the key sectors that make up the elite – civilian and military – view the monarchy as a bulwark against radicalism and chaos that they see breaking out all around them,” he added.

 

Eran put it this way: “The regime is stable because when you are in Jordan, when you watch television and see the atrocities in Aleppo you think twice, three times, four times before you want to get into that situation. The population is close to the destruction in Iraq and Syria and doesn’t want to rock the boat.” Moreover, there is no organized opposition beyond parliament, which the regime monitors, Eran said. “There isn’t any leader or any contender with charisma to attract support. The regime doesn’t face any movement that captures the imagination of people.”

 

Eran contrasts the situation in Jordan with that of Egypt, where Islamic State has a territorial foothold in Sinai. “There is nothing like that in Jordan, there is no danger to the regime. Even if tomorrow morning something happens to the monarch, there will be change but there will be no power or any force that takes over from the current regime.”

 

Still, King Abdullah is on the hot seat with no easy solutions for important issues. Youth unemployment is soaring at about 30% and poverty is widespread. The 630,000 registered Syrian refugees and a similar number of unregistered ones strain the economy and take jobs from Jordanian citizens. The government prides itself on having been able to hold parliamentary elections in September but turnout was low and the legislature lacks legitimacy and power. Sunday’s attack adds to the sense that the former oasis is increasingly becoming a deeply troubled country.

 

Within this setting, Israel should maintain the close security cooperation with Jordan and help Amman grapple with its Syrian refugees, says Maddy-Weitzman. “We should be extending humanitarian aid, assistance without a footprint, to help with the refugees, whatever Jordan thinks would be helpful, be it medical supplies [or] vital humanitarian aid.” At the same time, Maddy- Weitzman advocates “being extremely sensitive to Jordanian concerns on Jerusalem, the holy sites and the peace process and taking a more proactive approach on the Palestinian issue.”

                                                           

Contents

 

TURKEY GRIPPED BY TERROR AS RUSSIAN

AMBASSADOR KILLED IN ANKARA

Barın Kayaoğlu

Al-Monitor, Dec. 19, 2016

 

A suicide bomber struck a bus full of Turkish army conscripts on leave in the central Anatolian town of Kayseri on Dec. 17, killing 13 and wounding more than 50. The attack, allegedly perpetrated by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), comes in the wake of the dual suicide bombings on Dec. 10 that targeted riot police outside a soccer game in Istanbul. TAK claimed responsibility for the Istanbul attack that killed 36 officers and eight civilians.

 

While these tragic events have worsened tensions in Turkey, many observers emphasized the symbolic value of attacking unarmed troops from the 1st Commando Brigade. Some media outlets referred to the brigade, also known as “Kayseri Hava Indirme” (Kayseri Airborne), as “the PKK’s nightmare” for its role in fighting the militant Kurdish group. Kayseri Airborne’s sister unit, the Hakkari Mountain and Commando Brigade on the Iraqi border, also serves as a vanguard in the front lines of the Turkish state’s decadeslong struggle against the PKK.

 

Meanwhile, many Turkish media outlets underscored that the Kayseri attacker had received “military training” and snuck into Turkey from the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani, controlled by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which the Turks accuse of aiding the PKK. The English edition of the Sabah newspaper, which is close to the Turkish government, specifically emphasized how the bomber had received training at camps run by the PYD. Today’s front page of pro-government Yeni Akit ran the sensational headline “The swamp in Qandil should be drained,” referring to the PKK’s various bases in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan.

 

Turkish news outlets, however, overlooked a critical aspect of the story. Groups such as the PYD, PKK and TAK often emphasize the retaliatory nature of attacks like the ones in Istanbul and Kayseri. As several Al-Monitor writers have pointed out in recent months (including Kadri Gursel, who is currently in pretrial detention for his journalistic work), militant Kurdish groups often attack “softer” targets in western Turkey instead of directly confronting security forces. The PKK and TAK legitimize their attacks against civilians or security forces in western Turkey as a way to avenge the Turkish government’s heavy-handed operations in the country’s predominantly Kurdish southeast. In turn, the government’s vengeful responses after PKK and TAK strikes worsen the vicious cycle of violence in Turkey.

 

In other news, as this article went to publication, reports came in that Andrei Karlov, Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, had been shot and killed by a Turkish police officer at an art opening in the Turkish capital Ankara. Observers as diverse as Iranian-American scholar Trita Parsi, neoconservative pundit Bill Kristol and Al-Monitor’s own Laura Rozen compared the episode to the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in June 1914, an event that triggered World War I. The attacks in Istanbul, Kayseri and now Ankara prove that without a Christmas (or New Year) miracle, 2017 is poised to be even more unpleasant than 2016 for Turks. At the moment, Turkey looks helpless.

 

                                                           

Contents

 

RESURGENT TERROR IN EGYPT                                                                           

Yoni Ben Menachem                                                     

JCPA, Dec. 18, 2016

           

The suicide bombing at the Coptic church in central Cairo on December 11, 2016, which killed 25 and wounded 50, and the terror attack a few days earlier on the road to the Giza pyramids that killed six police officers, reflect two fateful developments: the Muslim Brotherhood’s recovery from the blows inflicted by the Sisi government, and the slackening of the government’s security efforts and possibly its fatigue from fighting terror.

 

There is growing public criticism of the security failures that allowed these attacks. Egyptian authorities have already announced that they are considering new plans for augmenting the military and security laws that pertain to the war on terror. The public has reacted to the attacks with fury. Even the newspaper, Al-Ahram, which is the government’s official mouthpiece, has published articles on the security failures and the need for enhanced measures such as installing cameras in crowded places and using sniffer dogs. A December 13, 2016, article in Al-Ahram by writer Masoud al-Hanawi called on the Egyptian government to learn from Israel and Turkey about how to wage all-out war on terror and strike it with an iron fist.

 

The Muslim Brotherhood appears to be recuperating from the assassination a few months ago of Muhammad Kamal, who headed its military wing, by Egyptian security forces in a raid on the Cairo apartment, where he was hiding.

 

On December 13, 2016, the Islamic State issued an official announcement that it was behind the bombing of the Coptic Church. Egyptian security officials, however, believe the attack was a joint operation of the Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood. Although the Muslim Brotherhood office in London issued a statement condemning the attack, the Egyptian authorities claim the condemnation was made out of fear of Western countries’ reactions.

 

Some of the Facebook pages of Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled to Qatar expressed elation over the attack. Earlier, an organization known as Hassam released a statement pinning the blame for the attack on police officers who, it said, had set an ambush on the road to the pyramids in Giza. According to Egyptian security officials, this organization is part of the Muslim Brotherhood. In recent months, its members have perpetrated a string of terror attacks against the police and against a judge in one of the trials of the previous president, Mohamed Morsi. They also tried to assassinate Dr. Ali Gomaa, the former mufti of Egypt.

 

This is not the first time radical Muslims have struck at the delicate social fabric between Egyptian Muslims and Christians of the Coptic community, which forms about 10 percent of the population.  In January 2011, a car-bomb attack on the Al-Qiddissin Coptic Church in Alexandria killed 21. The newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi reported on December 13, 2011, that since Sisi became president, there have been 130 attacks on Coptic churches and property in Egypt. These appear to be radical Muslims’ acts of vengeance for the Coptic Church’s support for Sisi’s government, which has outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood. Muslim Brotherhood members accuse the Coptic Christians of abetting the overthrow of former President Morsi’s government.

 

Official statements by the Egyptian Interior Ministry and reports in the Egyptian media indicate that the attack on the Coptic church was carried out by a cell whose creation was initiated by Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Qatar, which gives political refuge to the movement’s operatives, and by Muhammad Kamal’s successor as head of the military wing, with help from the Islamic State branch in northern Sinai. Egyptian security officials’ investigation indicates that Kamal’s successor is 32-year-old Mohab Mostafa el-Sayed Kassem, whose codename in the Muslim Brotherhood is “the Doctor.” It was the Doctor who recruited Mahmoud Shafiq, who carried out the attack on the Coptic Church with a suicide vest, and the other members of the cell.

 

The Doctor has been able to evade the Egyptian security. However, it appears from the interrogation of four members of the cell who were quickly captured that he went to Qatar a few months ago. There he seems to have met with some of the Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled from Egypt, the most prominent among them is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It was in Doha that the attack was planned – as retribution for the Copts’ support for Sisi’s government and also in an effort to damage Christmas tourism in Egypt. The Doctor returned to Cairo via the Sinai Peninsula, where he received military training from Ansar Beit al-Makdis, the Islamic State branch. He then recruited the other members of the cell including the suicide bomber.

 

President Sisi’s government now faces a new challenge of waging a war on terror. The Muslim Brotherhood, having failed to organize mass anti-government demonstrations on November 11, 2016, against the backdrop of the country’s difficult economic situation, appears more determined than ever to overthrow Sisi and destabilize the country by resuming terror attacks. Recently a Cairo court annulled the death sentence that had been meted out to Morsi.  This was seen as Sisi’s signal to the Muslim Brotherhood that he was prepared for reconciliation. The movement, however, hastened to issue a statement a few days later that it rejected any possibility of mending fences with Sisi’s government.

 

During the funeral of those killed in the attack on the Coptic Church, Sisi called on the government and parliament to make changes in legislation that would enable a tougher struggle against terror. He denied that there had been a security failure. Members of parliament, however, are already calling for electromagnetic gates to be installed at the entrances to the country’s churches. The government emphasizes the fact that the terror endangers both Muslims and Christians. The parliament, for its part, is already considering changes in the constitution that would enable the military’s legal system to try civilians suspected of involvement in terror. President Sisi’s challenge is to stop the new radical-Islamic wave of terror while it is still only beginning.

 

Contents       

    

On Topic Links

 

Turkey, Russia and an Assassination: The Swirling Crises, Explained: Max Fisher, New York Times, Dec. 19, 2016  —Turkey and Russia, whose up-and-down relationship has helped shape the Syrian war and its related crises, shared a new trauma on Monday after an off-duty Turkish police officer assassinated Russia’s ambassador.

Egypt’s Deadliest Church Attack: Raymond Ibrahim, Breaking Israel News, Dec. 13, 2016 —The worst attack on Egypt’s Christian minority in recent years occurred yesterday, Sunday, December 11, 2016. St. Peter Cathedral in Cairo, packed with worshippers celebrating Sunday mass, was bombed; at least 27 churchgoers, mostly women and children, were killed and 65 severely wounded. As many of the wounded are in critical condition, the death toll is expected to rise.

The Fall of Aleppo Is a Huge Gift to ISIS : Michael Weiss & Hassan Hassan, Daily Beast, Dec. 18, 2016—Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the “Caliph Ibrahim” of the so-called Islamic State, had an excellent week last week. The fall of Aleppo to a consortium of Iranian-built militias backed by Russian airpower and special forces constitutes not only a loud victory for Damascus but also a quieter one for ISIS, or the Islamic State, which mounted a surprise attack that retook the ancient city of Palmyra.

Hezbollah vs. ISIS. vs. Israel: Jonathan Spyer, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 12, 2016 —Two incidents in recent weeks showcase the complexity of the challenges facing Israel on its northern front. In the first, an air strike killed four members of the Islamic State-affiliated Khalid Ibn al-Walid Army after a patrol of the Golani reconnaissance unit in the southern Golan Heights was targeted by the organization. Israeli aircraft then targeted a facility used by the group in the Wadi Sirhan area.

 

 

 

 

 

EUROPE’S FECKLESS LEADERS FAIL TO CONFRONT RISING ISLAMIST THREAT

Will Europe Refuse to Kneel like the Heroic French Priest?: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, July 30, 2016— Imagine the scene: the morning Catholic mass in the northern French town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, an almost empty church, three parishioners, two nuns and a very old priest.

Is Europe Helpless?: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2016 — At last count, members of the European Union spent more than $200 billion a year on defense, fielded more than 2,000 jet fighters and 500 naval ships, and employed some 1.4 million military personnel.

‘Mere Islam’ and the Munich Massacre: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, July 25, 2016— A German-born 18-year-old of Iranian descent named Ali Sonboly went on a shooting spree last Friday. 

Why Borders Matter — and a Borderless World is a Fantasy: Victor Davis Hanson, Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2016— Borders are in the news as never before.

 

On Topic Links

 

French PM: It Is Urgent to Reconstruct French Islam, Expel the Threats from Within: Jewish Press, July 31, 2016

VIDEO — Daniel Pipes: Jihad Awakens Europe: Gatestone Institute, July 15, 2016

Marion Le Pen: 'Either We Kill Islamism or It Will Kill Us': Raheem Kassam, Breitbart, July 26, 2016

Redeeming the Plains of Ninevah: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, July 29, 2016

 

WILL EUROPE REFUSE TO KNEEL LIKE THE HEROIC FRENCH PRIEST?

Giulio Meotti       

Gatestone Institute, July 30, 2016

 

Imagine the scene: the morning Catholic mass in the northern French town of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, an almost empty church, three parishioners, two nuns and a very old priest. Knife-wielding ISIS terrorists interrupt the service and slit the throat of Father Jacques Hamel. This heartbreaking scene illuminates the state of Christianity in Europe. It happened before. In 1996 seven French monks were slaughtered in Algeria. In 2006, a priest was beheaded in Iraq. In 2016, this horrible Islamic ritual took place in the heart of European Christianity: the Normandy town where Father Hamel was murdered is the location of the trial of Joan of Arc, the heroine of French Christianity.

 

France had been repeatedly warned: Europe's Christians will meet the same fate of their Eastern brethren. But France refused to protect either Europe's Christians or Eastern ones. When, a year ago, the rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur, suggested transforming empty French churches (like that one in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray) into mosques, only a few French intellectuals, led by Alain Finkielkraut and Pascal Bruckner, signed the appeal entitled, "Do not touch my church" ("Touche pas à mon église") in defense of France's Christian heritage. Laurent Joffrin, director of the daily newspaper Libération, led a left-wing campaign against the appeal, describing the signers as "decrepit and fascist". For years, French socialist mayors have approved, in fact, the demolition of churches or their conversion into mosques (the same goal as ISIS but by different, "peaceful" means). Except in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter of Paris, and in some beautiful areas such as the Avignon Festival, France is experiencing a dramatic crisis of identity.

 

While the appeal to save France's churches was being demonized or ignored, the same fate was suffered by endangered Eastern Christian being exterminated by ISIS. "It is no longer possible to ignore this ethnic and cultural cleansing", reads an appeal signed by the usual combative "Islamophobic" intellectuals, such as Elisabeth Badinter, Jacques Julliard and Michel Onfray. In March, the newspaper Le Figaro accused the government of Manuel Valls of abandoning the Christians threatened with death by ISIS by refusing to grant them visas.

 

Go around Europe these days: you will find not a single rally to protest the killing of Father Hamel. In January 2015, after the murderous attack on Charlie Hebdo, the French took to the streets to say "Je suis Charlie". After July 26, 2016, the day an 85-year-old priest was murdered in a church, nobody said "We are all Catholics". Even Pope Francis, in the face of the most important anti-Christian event on Europe's soil since the Second World War, stood silent and said that Islamists look "for money". The entire Vatican clergy refused to write or say the word "Islam".

 

Truth is coming from very few writers. "Religions overcome other religions; police can help little if one is not afraid of death." With these words, six months after the massacre at the magazine Charlie Hebdo, the writer Michel Houellebecq spoke with the Revue des Deux Mondes. Our elite should read it after every massacre before filling up pages on "intelligence failures."

 

It is not as if one more French gendarmerie vehicle could have stopped the Islamist who slaughtered 84 people in Nice. Perhaps. Maybe. But that is not the point. Ritually, after each massacre, Europe's media and politicians repeat the story of "intelligence failures". In the case of the attack in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, the story is about a terrorist who was placed under surveillance. The "intelligence failure" theory is a fig leaf to avoid mentioning Islam and its project of the conquest of Europe. It is the conventional code of conduct after any Islamist attack. Then they add: "Retaliation" creates a spiral of violence; you have to work for peace and show good intentions. Then, in two or three weeks, comes the fatal "we deserve it". For what? For having a religion different from them?

 

We always hear the same voices, as in some great game of dissimulation and collective disorientation in which no one even knows which enemy to beat. But, after all, is it not much more comforting to talk about "intelligence" instead of the Islamists who try, by terror and sharia, to force the submission of us poor Europeans? Europe looks condemned to a permanent state of siege. But what if, one day, after more bloodshed and attacks in Europe, Europe's governments begin negotiating, with the mainstream Islamic organizations, the terms of submission of democracies to Islamic sharia law? Cartoons about Mohammed and the "crime" of blasphemy have already disappeared from the European media, and the scapegoating of Israel and the Jews started long time ago.

 

After the attack at the church, the French media decided even to stop publishing photos of the terrorists. This is the brave response to jihad by our mainstream media, who also showed lethal signs of cowardice during the Charlie Hebdo crisis. The only hope today comes from an 85-year-old French priest, who was murdered by Islamists after a simple, noble gesture: he refused to kneel in front of them. Will humiliated and indolent Europe do the same?                          

 

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IS EUROPE HELPLESS?                                                                                                      

Bret Stephens                                                                                                         

Wall Street Journal, July 25, 2016

 

At last count, members of the European Union spent more than $200 billion a year on defense, fielded more than 2,000 jet fighters and 500 naval ships, and employed some 1.4 million military personnel. More than a million police officers also walk Europe’s streets. Yet in the face of an Islamist menace the Continent seems helpless. Is it? Was France helpless in May 1940?

 

Let’s stipulate that a van barreling down a seaside promenade isn’t a Panzer division, and that a few thousand ISIS fighters scattered from Mosul to Marseilles aren’t another Wehrmacht. But as in France in 1940, Europe today displays the same combination of doctrinal rigidity and loss of will that allowed an Allied army of 144 divisions to be routed by the Germans in six weeks. The Maginot Line of “European values” won’t prevail over people who recognize none of those values.

 

So much was made clear by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who remarked after the Nice attack that “France is going to have to live with terrorism.” This may have been intended as a statement of fact but it came across as an admission that his government isn’t about to rally the public to a campaign of blood, toil, tears and sweat against ISIS—another premature capitulation in a country that has known them before. Mr. Valls was later booed at a memorial service for the Nice victims. It would be heartening to think this was because he and his boss, President François Hollande, have failed to forge a strategy to destroy ISIS. But the public’s objection was that there hadn’t been enough cops along the Promenade des Anglais to stop the attack. In soccer terms, it’s a complaint about the failure of defense, not the lack of a proper offense.

 

Then there is Germany, site of three terror attacks in a week. It seems almost like a past epoch that Germans welcomed a million Middle Eastern migrants in an ecstasy of moral self-congratulation, led by Angela Merkel’s chant of “We can do it!” Last summer’s slogan now sounds as dated and hollow as Barack Obama’s “Yes we can!” Now Germany will have to confront a terror threat that will make the Baader-Meinhof gang of the 1970s seem trivial. The German state is stronger and smarter than the French one, but it also surrenders more easily to moral intimidation. The idea of national self-preservation at all costs will always be debatable in a country seeking to expiate an inexpiatable sin.

 

Thus the question of whether Europe is helpless. At its 1980s peak, under François Mitterrand and Helmut Kohl, the European project combined German economic strength and French confidence in power politics. Today, it mixes French political weakness with German moral solipsism. This is a formula for rapid civilizational decline, however many economic or military resources the EU may have at its disposal. Can the decline be stopped? Yes, but that would require a great unlearning of the political mythologies on which modern Europe was built. Among those mythologies: that the European Union is the result of a postwar moral commitment to peace; that Christianity is of merely historical importance to European identity; that there’s no such thing as a military solution; that one’s country isn’t worth fighting for; that honor is atavistic and tolerance is the supreme value. People who believe in nothing, including themselves, will ultimately submit to anything.

 

The alternative is a recognition that Europe’s long peace depended on the presence of American military power, and that the retreat of that power will require Europeans to defend themselves. Europe will also have to figure out how to apply power not symbolically, as it now does, but strategically, in pursuit of difficult objectives. That could start with the destruction of ISIS in Libya. More important, Europeans will have to learn that powerlessness can be as corrupting as power—and much more dangerous. The storm of terror that is descending on Europe will not end in some new politics of inclusion, community outreach, more foreign aid or one of Mrs. Merkel’s diplomatic Rube Goldbergs. It will end in rivers of blood. Theirs or yours?

 

In all this, the best guide to how Europe can find its way to safety is the country it has spent the best part of the last 50 years lecturing and vilifying: Israel. For now, it’s the only country in the West that refuses to risk the safety of its citizens on someone else’s notion of human rights or altar of peace. Europeans will no doubt look to Israel for tactical tips in the battle against terrorism—crowd management techniques and so on—but what they really need to learn from the Jewish state is the moral lesson. Namely, that identity can be a great preserver of liberty, and that free societies cannot survive through progressive accommodations to barbarians.                                                            

 

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‘MERE ISLAM’ AND THE MUNICH MASSACRE                                                                                        

Raymond Ibrahim                                                                                                                      

Frontpage, July 25, 2016

 

A German-born 18-year-old of Iranian descent named Ali Sonboly went on a shooting spree last Friday.  He reportedly targeted young children; a number of adolescents were among the nine he murdered. This incident is a reminder that the ongoing terrorization of the West is not limited to the Islamic State (“ISIS”), “extreme” Wahhabi or Salafi interpretations of Islam, or terrorists posing as refugees entering the West. Ali Sonboly was none of those things.  He was born and raised in Germany and, based on his name and Iranian heritage, was most likely of Shia background.

 

But he was a Muslim.  He screamed Islam’s ancient war cry “Allahu Akbar” during his rampage.  It’s also telling that he launched his attack on the one day of the week that many calculated Islamic attacks on non-Muslims occur: Friday. And that is the grand lesson of the Munich massacre.  Mere Islam—to borrow from C.S. Lewis’ famous book about the many commonalities shared by most Christian denominations—is responsible for the ongoing terrorization of the West. If you doubt this, simply turn to a recent study.  It found that everyday Muslims of all sects, races, and sociopolitical circumstances—not just “ISIS”—are responsible for persecuting Christians in 41 of the 50 worst nations to be Christian in: Shia Iran is the ninth worst nation, “Wahhabi” Saudi Arabia is 14th, while “moderate” nations like Malaysia and Indonesia are ranked 30 and 43 respectively. The common denominator in all these nations is ISLAM—without qualifier.

 

Even ISIS’ abhorrent treatment of Christians and other non-Muslims is only an extreme reflection of what Muslims in general are doing to non-Muslims all around the world.  See “Muslim Persecution of Christians,” reports which I’ve been compiling every month for five years this month, and witness the nonstop discrimination, persecution, and carnage committed against Christians by “everyday” Muslims—from the highest authorities to the basest mobs.  Each monthly report (there are currently 58) contains dozens of atrocities, any of which if committed by Christians against Muslims would receive 24/7 blanket coverage.

 

While the media concoct any number of lies to dispel the Islamic nature of the Munich attack—the usual strategies, especially talk of “grievances,” are already being employed —the fact remains: for all the differences and tensions between Europe’s native and Muslim populations, the Christians being persecuted by Muslims are often identical to their persecutors in race, ethnicity, national identity, culture, and language. There is no political dispute, no land dispute. Nor do these disempowered and ostracized Christian minorities have any political power—meaning there are no Muslim “grievances” either.

 

So why are they hated and hounded? Because they are Christians—that is, non-Muslim infidels—and that’s the real reason Western people are being terrorized by Muslims, most recently (or at least as of this writing) in Munch. Ugly or not, this truth, that mere Islam—not “ISIS,” “Salafism,” “Wahhabism,” or “Shiism”—promotes hate for and violence against non-Muslims will never be remedied until those in positions of leadership first acknowledge it.  And, with the notable exception of Donald Trump, they are very far from doing so.                                                        

 

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WHY BORDERS MATTER —                                                                

AND A BORDERLESS WORLD IS A FANTASY                                                                       

Victor Davis Hanson                                                                                                     

Los Angeles Times, July 31, 2016

 

Borders are in the news as never before. With Muslim refugees flooding into the European Union from the Middle East, and with terrorism on the rise, a popular revolt is taking shape against the so-called Schengen Area agreements, which give free rights of movement within Europe. The European masses are not racists, but they now apparently wish to accept Middle Eastern immigrants only to the degree that these newcomers arrive legally and promise to become European in values and outlook—protocols that the EU essentially discarded decades ago as intolerant. Europeans are relearning that the continent’s external borders mark off very different approaches to culture and society from what prevails in North Africa or the Middle East.

 

A similar crisis plays out in the United States, where President Obama has renounced his former opposition to amnesty by executive order. The populist pushback against unchecked immigration from Mexico, Central and South America gave rise to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump—predicated on the candidate’s promise to build an impenetrable border wall—much as the cascade of asylum-seekers into Germany has fueled opposition to Chancellor Angela Merkel.  

 

Driving the growing outrage in Europe and North America is the ongoing elite push for a borderless world. Among elites, borderlessness has taken its place among the politically correct positions of our age — and, as with other such ideas, it has shaped the language we use. The descriptive term “illegal alien” gave way to the nebulous “unlawful immigrant,” then “undocumented immigrant,” “immigrant,” or the entirely neutral “migrant” — a noun that obscures whether the individual in question is entering or leaving.

 

Today’s open-borders agenda has its roots not only in economic and political factors — the need for low-wage workers who will do the work that native-born Americans or Europeans supposedly will not, and the desire to flee failed states — but also in several decades of intellectual ferment, in which Western academics have created a trendy field of “borders discourse.” What we might call post-borderism argues that boundaries are mere artificial constructs, methods of marginalization designed by those in power, mostly to stigmatize and oppress the “other” — usually the poorer and less Western — who arbitrarily ended up on the wrong side of the divide. “Where borders are drawn, power is exercised,” as one European scholar put it. This view assumes that where borders are not drawn, power is not exercised — as if the Middle Eastern immigrants pouring into Germany do not wield considerable power by their sheer numbers and adroit manipulation of Western grievance politics.

 

Dreams of a borderless world are not new, however. Plutarch claimed in his essay “On Exile” that Socrates considered himself not just an Athenian but instead “a citizen of the cosmos.” In later European thought, Communist ideas of universal labor solidarity drew heavily on the idea of a world without borders. “Workers of the world, unite!” exhorted Marx and Engels. Wars broke out, in this thinking, only because of needless quarreling over obsolete state boundaries.

 

The solution to endless war, some argued, was to eliminate borders in favor of transnational governance. H. G. Wells’ prewar science-fiction novel “The Shape of Things to Come” envisioned borders eventually disappearing as transnational polymaths enforced enlightened world governance. Such fictions prompt fads in the real world, though attempts to render borders unimportant — as, in Wells’ time, the League of Nations sought to do — have always failed. Undaunted, the Left continues to cherish the vision of a borderless world as morally superior, a triumph over artificially imposed difference.

 

Yet the truth is that formal borders do not create difference — they reflect it. Elites’ continued attempts to erase borders are both futile and destructive. Borders — and the fights to keep or change them — are as old as agricultural civilization. In ancient Greece, most wars broke out over border scrubland. The contested upland eschatia offered little profit for farming but possessed enormous symbolic value for a city-state to define where its own culture began and ended.

 

Throughout history, the trigger points of war have traditionally been such borderlands — the methoria between Argos and Sparta, the Rhine and Danube as the frontiers of Rome, or the Alsace-Lorraine powder keg between France and Germany. These disputes did not always arise, at least at first, as efforts to invade and conquer a neighbor. They were instead mutual expressions of distinct societies that valued clear-cut borders — not just as matters of economic necessity or military security but also as a means of ensuring that one society could go about its unique business without the interference and hectoring of its neighbors.

 

Few escape petty hypocrisy when preaching the universal gospel of borderlessness. In 2011, open-borders advocate Antonio Villaraigosa became the first mayor in Los Angeles history to build a wall around the official mayoral residence. His un-walled neighbors objected, first, that there was no need for such a barricade and, second, that it violated a city ordinance prohibiting residential walls higher than four feet. But Villaraigosa apparently wished to emphasize the difference between his home and the street, or was worried about security, or saw a new wall as iconic of his exalted office.

 

While elites can build walls to insulate themselves, the consequences of their policies fall heavily on the nonelites who lack the money and influence to navigate around them. The contrast between the two groups — Peggy Noonan described them as the “protected” and the “unprotected” — was dramatized in the presidential campaign of Jeb Bush. When the former Florida governor called illegal immigration from Mexico “an act of love,” his candidacy was doomed. It seemed that Bush had the capital to pick and choose how the consequences of his ideas fell upon himself and his family — in a way impossible for most of those living in the southwestern United States.

 

More broadly, those who deride borders are unwilling to address why tens of millions of people choose to cross them in the first place, leaving their language fluency and native soil — at great personal risk. The answer is obvious: migration, as it was in the 1960s between mainland China and Hong Kong, as it is now between North and South Korea, is usually a one-way street, from the non-West to the West or its Westernized manifestations. People walk, climb, swim, and fly across borders, secure in the knowledge that boundaries mark different approaches to human experience, with one side perceived as more successful or inviting than the other.

 

Western rules that promote a greater likelihood of consensual government, religious tolerance, an independent judiciary, free-market capitalism, and the protection of private property combine to offer the individual a level of prosperity and personal security rarely enjoyed at home. As a result, migrants make the necessary travel adjustments to go westward — especially given that Western civilization, uniquely so, has usually defined itself by culture, not race, and thus alone is willing to accept and integrate those of different races who wish to share its protocols…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed]

 

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On Topic Links

 

French PM: It Is Urgent to Reconstruct French Islam, Expel the Threats from Within: Jewish Press, July 31, 2016—“Through its history and its geography—open as it is to the Mediterranean and Africa, and through its immigration, France maintains very strong ties with Islam,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, wrote in a lengthy article in the Journal du Dimanche Sunday. “This is the second-largest religion in our country. Millions of French Muslims live here without necessarily identifying themselves as an Arab-Muslim culture.”

VIDEO — Daniel Pipes: Jihad Awakens Europe: Gatestone Institute, July 15, 2016—At least 84 people were murdered yesterday in France's third major Islamist terrorist attack in less than a year. In our latest video, Daniel Pipes talks about Europe's crossroads: Will Europeans succumb to Islamization, or will they rise to fight radical Islam and hold onto Western values? How it looks so far…

Marion Le Pen: 'Either We Kill Islamism or It Will Kill Us': Raheem Kassam, Breitbart, July 26, 2016—Marion Maréchal Le Pen, the 26-year-old niece of France's Front National leader Marine Le Pen has urged her fellow countrymen to join the military in a series of tweets following the beheading of a priest in Normandy this morning.

Redeeming the Plains of Ninevah: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, July 29, 2016— Here is a parable for our times: George Lord Wiedenfeld, a British peer and a distinguished publisher, was a penniless five-year-old when British Quakers and other Christians fed and clothed him, and helped him reach the UK from Vienna after Hitler seized Austria in 1938. 

 

 

WHITE HOUSE FAILURE TO DEFINE ISLAM HAMPERS EFFORTS TO CONFRONT TERRORIST THREAT

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

An Administration Adrift on Denial: Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 19, 2015 — Great essays tell big truths. A deeply reported piece in next month’s Atlantic magazine does precisely that, and in a way devastating to the Obama administration’s thinking on ISIS.

It Doesn’t Matter One Bit What Obama Thinks ‘True Islam’ Is: Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, Feb. 21, 2015—In Egypt, the president is Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a pious Muslim.

Crusaders and Appeasers: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2015 — His secretary of defense says, “The world is exploding all over.”

Bearing the Cross: A Letter to ISIS: Mark Durie, Lapidomedia, Feb. 20, 2014— The Islamic State sent me a letter this week.

 

On Topic Links

 

'A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross': Mark Durie, Lapidomedia, Feb. 20, 2014

What ISIS Really Wants: Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, March, 2015

Betting National Security on a Theory: IPT News, Feb. 24, 2015

How to Empower Violent Extremism: Victor Davis Hanson, Council on Foreign Relations, Feb. 5, 2015

Obama: Christianity No Different From the Islamic State: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Feb. 6, 2015

Say It Like It Is: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Jan. 20, 2015

                                                                       

                             

AN ADMINISTRATION ADRIFT ON DENIAL     

Peggy Noonan              

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 19, 2015

 

Great essays tell big truths. A deeply reported piece in next month’s Atlantic magazine does precisely that, and in a way devastating to the Obama administration’s thinking on ISIS. “What ISIS Really Wants,” by contributing editor Graeme Wood, is going to change the debate. (It ought to become a book.) Mr. Wood describes a dynamic, savage and so far successful organization whose members mean business. Their mettle should not be doubted. ISIS controls an area larger than the United Kingdom and intends to restore, and expand, the caliphate. Mr. Wood interviewed Anjem Choudary of the banned London-based Islamist group Al Muhajiroun, who characterized ISIS’ laws of war as policies of mercy, not brutality. “He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies,” Mr. Wood writes, “because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.”

 

ISIS has allure: Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are believed to have joined. The organization is clear in its objectives: “We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change . . . that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world. . . . The Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people.” The scale of the savagery is difficult to comprehend and not precisely known. Regional social media posts “suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks.” Most, not all, of the victims are Muslims.

 

The West, Mr. Wood argues, has been misled “by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. . . . The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers,” drawn largely from the disaffected. “But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.” Its actions reflect “a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bring about the apocalypse.” Mr. Wood acknowledges that ISIS reflects only one, minority strain within Islam. “Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.”

 

He quotes Princeton’s Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on ISIS’ theology. The group’s fighters, Mr. Haykel says, “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition,” and denials of its religious nature spring from embarrassment, political correctness and an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.” The Islamic State is different from al Qaeda and almost all other jihadist movements, according to Mr. Wood, “in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character.” Its spokesman has vowed: “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.” They believe we are in the End of Days. They speak of how “the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria.” The battle will be Rome’s Waterloo. After that, a countdown to the apocalypse.

 

Who exactly is “Rome”? That’s unclear. Maybe Turkey, maybe any infidel army. Maybe America. What should the West do to meet the challenge? Here Mr. Wood’s tone turns more tentative. We should help the Islamic State “self-immolate.” Those urging America to commit tens of thousand of troops “should not be dismissed too quickly.” ISIS is, after all, an avowedly genocidal and expansionist organization, and its mystique can be damaged if it loses its grip on the territory it holds. Al Qaeda, from which ISIS is estranged and which it has eclipsed, can operate as an underground network. ISIS cannot, “because territorial authority is a requirement.” But ISIS wants to draw America into the fight. A U.S. invasion and occupation, Mr. Wood argues, would be a propaganda victory for them, because they’ve long said the U.S. has always intended to embark on a modern-day crusade against Islam. And if a U.S. ground invasion launched and failed, it would be a disaster.

 

The best of bad options, Mr. Wood believes, is to “slowly bleed” ISIS through air strikes and proxy warfare. The Kurds and the Shiites cannot vanquish them, but they can “keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand.” That would make it look less like “the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammed. ” As time passed ISIS could “stagnate” and begin to sink. Word of its cruelties would spread; it could become another failed state. But that death, as Mr. Wood notes, “is unlikely to be quick,” and any number of things could go wrong, including a dangerous rapprochement with al Qaeda. Mr. Wood’s piece is bracing because it is fearless—he is apparently not afraid of being called a bigot or an Islamophobe. It is important because it gives people, especially political leaders, information they need to understand a phenomenon that may urgently shape U.S. foreign policy for the next 10 years.

 

In sorry contrast, of course, are the Obama administration’s willful delusions and dodges. They reached their height this week when State Department spokesman Marie Harf talked on MSNBC of the “root causes” that drive jihadists, such as “lack of opportunity for jobs.” She later went on CNN to explain: “Where there’s a lack of governance, you’ve had young men attracted to this terrorist cause where there aren’t other opportunities. . . . So how do you get at that root causes?” She admitted her view “might be too nuanced of an argument for some.” Yes, it might. It isn’t about getting a job. They have a job: waging jihad…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

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IT DOESN’T MATTER ONE BIT WHAT OBAMA THINKS ‘TRUE ISLAM’ IS                                                 

Andrew C. McCarthy                                         

National Review, Feb. 21, 2015

 

In Egypt, the president is Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a pious Muslim. Having grown up in the world’s center of sharia scholarship and closely studied the subject, he has courageously proclaimed that Islam desperately needs a “religious revolution.” In the United States, the president is Barack Obama, a non-Muslim. His childhood experience of Islam, which ended when he was just ten, occurred in Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim country, but a non-Arabic one where the teaching and practice of Islam is very different from what it is in the Middle East. While Sisi sees a dangerous flaw in Islam, Obama believes America needs to be “fundamentally transformed” but Islam is fine as is. You see the problem, no?

 

Said problem was very much on display this week at the president’s “summit” on “countering violent extremism,” the administration’s euphemism for confronting violent jihad. The latter phrase is verboten because Obama will not concede the close nexus between Islam and modern terrorism. In reality, the summit had so little to do with confronting terrorism that the president did not invite the FBI director — you know, the head of the agency to which federal law assigns primary responsibility for terrorism investigations.

 

The summit was really about advancing the “social justice” agenda of “progressive” politics. The president and his underlings somehow reason that the answer to the barbarity of ISIS and al-Qaeda is to “empower local communities” here and abroad. Apparently, if the community organizers rouse the rabble to demand that government address “injustice” and Muslim “grievances,” the alienation that purportedly drives young Muslims into the jihadists’ arms will abate. This is the strategic political aspect of the Left’s denial of terrorism’s ideological roots: If terrorism is not caused by Islamic supremacism, then it must be caused by something else . . . and that something somehow always manages to be a government policy opposed by the Left: insufficient income redistribution, running Gitmo, our alliance with Israel, surveillance of radical mosques, etc. Smearing your political opponents as the root cause of mass-murder attacks — it’s a very nice weapon to have in one’s demagogic arsenal.

 

To the extent the summit dealt with Islam, it was to play the counterproductive game of defining the “true” Islam in order to discredit the Islamic State and al-Qaeda as purveyors of a “false” or “perverted” Islam. To try to pull this off, Obama relied on the bag of tricks toted by his “moderate Islamist” allies (who also turn out to be reliable progressives). In his summit speech, Obama made the concession — which was almost shocking coming from him — that ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists “do draw” from “Islamic texts.” He mocked them, however, for doing so “selectively.” The clear suggestion was that the terrorists deceive when they assert that Islamic scripture commands Muslims to, for example, “strike terror into the hearts” of non-believers, decapitate them (“smite their necks”), or enslave them. He intimated that there must be some balancing scriptures, some other side of the story nullifying these belligerent commands.

 

But then, almost in the next breath, the president engaged in the same bowdlerizing of Islamic teaching of which he had just accused our enemies. We should, he said, be listening to, instead of the terrorists, “Muslim clerics and scholars” who “push back on this twisted interpretation” and assure us “that the Koran says, ‘Whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind.’” The Koran does indeed say that, in Sura 5:32. Yet, in the very next verse, conveniently omitted by Obama (5:33), it goes on to say: The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land, is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: That is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the hereafter. That puts a somewhat different cast on the whole “whoever kills an innocent” theme, wouldn’t you say?

 

Which leads us to Obama’s other rhetorical chicanery. When he speaks of Islam, Obama not only takes scripture out of context; he also renders it as if there were a universal understanding of words like “innocent.” Yet when we read the above two verses together, and put them in the broader context of Islamic doctrine, we see that Islam can convey a notion of who is an “innocent” that is very different from the one we Westerners are likely to have. To be “innocent,” in this context, one must accept Islam and submit to its law. The same is true of “injustice,” another word the president often invokes when discussing Islam. The true Islam, we are to believe, is just like progressivism: a tireless quest for “justice.” But just as the Left’s idea of justice differs from the average person’s, so does Islam’s. For the Islamist, justice equals sharia, and injustice is the absence or transgression of sharia. So, while this could well have been inadvertent, Obama’s claim that injustice drives young Muslims to join terrorist groups is exactly what the terrorists themselves would say — for the imperative to impose sharia is their rationale for committing terrorism.

 

Obama’s seeming inability to grapple with the Islamic roots of terrorism may not be fully explained by his coziness with Islamists. In a 2005 essay, Cardinal George Pell, the former Australian archbishop (he now runs the Vatican’s secretariat for the economy), observed that in Indonesia, Islam has been has been tempered by indigenous animism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and a pacific strain of Islamic Sufism. Cardinal Pell described the resulting brand as “syncretistic, moderate and with a strong mystical leaning.” As I recounted in The Grand Jihad, that cannot be said for all of Indonesian Islam: There is also plenty of fundamentalism, sharia supremacism, and persecution of religious minorities, particularly of Ahmadi Muslims who reject violent jihad. Still, the practice of Islam in much of the country where the president spent some of his formative years is relatively moderate.

 

Things are different in the cradle of Islam, the Arab Middle East. That was the upshot of President Sisi’s impassioned speech in January. In calling for a religious revolution, he admonished the scholars of al-Azhar — who seemed cool to the warning — that terrorists in the Middle East were relying on a “corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible” even though it “is antagonizing the entire world.” Sisi is right, of course. How refreshing, how urgently necessary, for him to face the problem honestly. Nevertheless, our challenge is a different one from Sisi’s and Islam’s. It is preserving our own national security, not avoiding antagonism…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                                

                                                                            

CRUSADERS AND APPEASERS                                                                                        

Charles Krauthammer                                                                                                   

Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2015

 

His secretary of defense says, “The world is exploding all over.” His attorney general says that the threat of terror “keeps me up at night.” The world bears them out. On Tuesday, American hostage Kayla Mueller is confirmed dead. On Wednesday, the U.S. evacuates its embassy in Yemen, a country cited by President Obama last September as an American success in fighting terrorism. Yet Obama’s reaction to, shall we say, turmoil abroad has been one of alarming lassitude and passivity. Not to worry, says his national security adviser: This is not World War II. As if one should be reassured because the current chaos has yet to achieve the level of the most devastating conflict in human history. Indeed, insists the president, the real source of our metastasizing anxiety is . . . the news media.

 

Russia pushes deep into eastern Ukraine. The Islamic State burns to death a Jordanian pilot. Iran extends its hegemony over four Arab capitals — Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and now Sanaa. And America watches. Obama calls the policy “strategic patience.” That’s a synonym for “inaction,” made to sound profoundly “strategic.” Take Russia. The only news out of Obama’s one-hour news conference with Angela Merkel this week was that he still can’t make up his mind whether to supply Ukraine with defensive weapons. The Russians have sent in T-80 tanks and Grad rocket launchers. We’ve sent in humanitarian aid that includes blankets, MREs and psychological counselors.

 

How complementary: The counselors do grief therapy for those on the receiving end of the T-80 tank fire. “I think the Ukrainian people can feel confident that we have stood by them,” said Obama at the news conference. Indeed. And don’t forget the blankets. America was once the arsenal of democracy, notes Elliott Abrams. We are now its linen closet. Why no antitank and other defensive weapons? Because we are afraid that arming the victim of aggression will anger the aggressor. Such on-the-ground appeasement goes well with the linguistic appeasement whereby Obama dares not call radical Islam by name. And whereby both the White House and State Department spend much of a day insisting that the attack on the kosher grocery in Paris had nothing to do with Jews. It was just, as the president said, someone “randomly shoot[ing] a bunch of folks in a deli.” (By the end of the day, the administration backed off this idiocy. By tweet.)

 

This passivity — strategic, syntactical, ideological — is more than just a reaction to the perceived overreach of the Bush years. Or a fear of failure. Or bowing to the domestic left. It is, above all, rooted in Obama’s deep belief that we — America, Christians, the West — lack the moral authority to engage, to project, i.e., to lead. Before we condemn the atrocities of others, intoned Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast, we shouldn’t “get on our high horse.” We should acknowledge having authored the Crusades, the Inquisition, slavery, etc. “in the name of Christ.” In a rare rhetorical feat, Obama managed to combine the banal and the repulsive. After all, is it really a revelation that all religions have transgressed, that man is fallen? To the adolescent Columbia undergrad, that’s a profundity. To a roomful of faith leaders, that’s an insult to one’s intelligence. And in deeply bad taste. A coalition POW is burned alive and the reaction of the alliance leader barely 48 hours later is essentially: “Hey, but what about Joan of Arc?”

 

The conclusion to this patronizing little riff — a gratuitous and bizarre attack on India as an example of religious intolerance — received less attention than it merited. India? Our largest and most strategically promising democratic ally — and the most successful multiethnic, multilingual, multiconfessional country on the planet? (Compare India to, oh, its colonial twin, Pakistan.)  There is, however, nothing really new in Obama’s selective condemnation of America and its democratic allies. It is just a reprise of the theme of his post-inauguration 2009 confessional world tour. From Strasbourg to Cairo and the U.N. General Assembly, he indicted his own country, as I chronicled at the time, “for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness (toward Europe), for maltreatment of natives, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantánamo, for unilateralism, and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                                               

Contents                                                                   

                                                       

BEARING THE CROSS: A LETTER TO ISIS                                                                                                

Mark Durie                                                                                                         

Lapidomedia, Feb. 20, 2015

 

The Islamic State sent me a letter this week. This letter was in the form of a short film produced by the Islamic State’s Al-Hayat Media centre. This was not addressed to me personally, but to all Christians everywhere.  Its title was A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross. This was a video of the ritual slaughter of the 21 Egyptian Christians. Their blood flowing in the ocean waves was the ‘signature’ at the end of the video. As I write this it is Ash Wednesday. This is the start of forty days of Lent, a period of fasting and contemplation for Christians all over the world. For many centuries it has been a custom of Christians to receive a mark of the cross in ash upon the forehead as a sign of repentance.

 

As I received this mark of the cross today I was thinking of the 21 Egyptian Christian martyrs. Copts permanently bear the sign of the cross, tattooed on their wrists, as a sign that they will refuse to renounce their beliefs. I intend to read out these men’s names at our morning church services this Sunday, here in Melbourne, Australia. And I also choose to honour them today by writing to acknowledge the truth about why they were killed, and in particular the explanation given by their killers. I also wish to record, as a Christian and a pastor, my intense protest at the White House official statement of February 15 2015 concerning this event. This makes no mention of the reason the twenty one were killed: their Christian faith.  This culpable denial dishonours them, as it dishonours me and Christians everywhere.

 

The White House statement claimed that ‘ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds. It is unconstrained by faith, sect or ethnicity.’ Not true. The Islamic State’s actions are constrained by its theology, and in this case its targets are also determined on religious grounds; they were Christians. It is not an endorsement of the killer’s Islamic beliefs to acknowledge that these jihadis follow a form of Islam, and that their sect and faith does constrain their behaviour accordingly. President Obama has defended his administration’s misrepresentations on the grounds that the radicals are ‘desperate for legitimacy’ so ‘They try to portray themselves as religious leaders, holy warriors in defense of Islam.’ But these are not desperate people. They are shockingly confident in their beliefs. They do not ‘try to portray themselves’ as Islamic: they sincerely believe they are. Christopher Hitchens got it right over a decade ago when he suggested of Al Qa’ida recruits that ‘they believe their own propaganda,’ and ‘absolutely subscribe to the tenets of their version … of their religion, Islam.’ Obama also stated that ‘we must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie.’ This too is nonsense. A lie is a deliberate intention to deceive, and these self-described jihadis are – at least by their own understanding – speaking the absolute truth when they claim to speak for Islam.

 

Some years ago I had the privilege of reading the Gospel at a Coptic service held in St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral, here in Melbourne.  The service was held to commemorate the 22 martyrs of the attack on Al-Qiddisin Church in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve. It was led by Bishop Suriel, Melbourne’s Coptic bishop. The Al-Qiddisin martyr’s service impressed me deeply. I long pondered the fact that the Coptic church of Egypt has been grieving over the freshly dug graves of its martyred sons and daughters since the dawn of Christianity.  As I sat through the service and sung the hymns about martyrdom, I thought, ‘So this is what it means to be a Copt’. The Islamic State video, a polished production, depicts 21 Christian men, hands bound behind them, being led one-by-one along a beach in Libya to a point where they are forced to bow down with their heads in the sand, and there they are beheaded, crying out Ya Rabbi Yasou ‘Lord Jesus!’, some reciting the Lord’s Prayer. Severed heads were then placed on top of each corpse, their Muslim slayer standing over them.  The final film shots show the Mediterranean washing red with their blood.

 

The whole event was meticulously choreographed and rehearsed.  The video’s obvious purpose is to humiliate and terrorise Christians, whom it derisively calls, ‘The Nation of the Cross’.  I admire the courage of the martyrs, who did not disown the name of Christ and the cross to follow Islam, even as they were being mocked and killed by their tormentors. It is indisputable (see Part 2) that the whole script of this video is intensely religious. It is packed with references to the Qur’an and the Hadiths of Muhammad. As Graeme Wood comments in an important recent Atlantic Monthly article, the Islamic State adherents are constantly referencing Islam’s sacred texts. In their everyday speech, ‘Koranic quotations are ubiquitous’. This film is no exception.  For anyone who knows anything about Islam it is impossible to view this film without being aware of the heavy constraining influence of the Qur’an and the Hadiths on the script.  These references are essential for understanding the true context, meaning and intent of the film…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

[To Read Part Two of the Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents                                                                                     

 

 

On Topic

 

'A Message Signed with Blood to the Nation of the Cross': Mark Durie, Lapidomedia, Feb. 20, 2014—What follows is an explanation of the film of the martyrdoms produced by Al-Hayat Media of the Islamic State. Words in blue are from the film, either in the form of titles or sub-titles, or as narration. Text in grey is used for the words of Muhammad or the Qur’an.

What ISIS Really Wants: Graeme Wood, The Atlantic, March, 2015 —What is the Islamic State? Where did it come from, and what are its intentions?

Betting National Security on a Theory: IPT News, Feb. 24, 2015—The debate over whether it's a good idea to use phrases like "Islamic extremism" in fighting global terrorism took center stage last week as the White House hosted a summit to discuss what it generically calls "violent extremism."

How to Empower Violent Extremism: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Feb. 24, 2015—Not too long ago, most Russians were reportedly unhappy with Vladimir Putin.

Obama: Christianity No Different From the Islamic State: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Feb. 6, 2015 —As the world reacts with shock and horror at the increasingly savage deeds of the Islamic State (IS)—in this case, the recent immolation of a captive—U.S. President Obama’s response has been one of nonjudgmental relativism.

Say It Like It Is: Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, Jan. 20, 2015 —I’ve never been a fan of global conferences to solve problems, but when I read that the Obama administration is organizing a Summit on Countering Violent Extremism for Feb. 18, in response to the Paris killings, I had a visceral reaction: Is there a box on my tax returns that I can check so my tax dollars won’t go to pay for this?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                    

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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OBAMA IS QUICK TO ABSOLVE ISLAM, BUT MINORITIES IN MUSLIM LANDS FACE EXISTENTIAL STRUGGLE

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Contents:

 

Christian Slaughter in Libya: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Feb. 17, 2015 — The disputed fate of the 21 Coptic Christians abducted in Sirte, Libya is now clear and visible for all to see on video

The Religious Cleansing of Middle East Christians: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2014 — The fate of struggling Christians in Muslim-majority countries in the Islamic heartland has shifted from persecution to an existential struggle.

Group Forming to Raise Public Awareness of Yezidi Genocide; "the World is Silent" Says Yazidi Spokesman: Doris Strub Epstein, CIJR, Jan. 27, 2015 — The genocidal atrocities being perpetrated daily on the Yazidi people by the Islamic State  have vanished from media radar.  

ISIS’s War on the World’s Ancient Religions: Stephanie Saldana, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 24, 2014— When thousands of Yazidis fled ISIS militants to Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq this August, newspapers soon filled with horrific stories

In Obama’s Impulse to Absolve Islam, He Offers a Rebuke to Christianity: Rex Murphy, National Post, Feb. 7, 2015— The President of the United States is an interesting theologian.

 

On Topic Links

 

Minority Report: 10 Mideast Minorities Whose Futures May be Uncertain: Sophie Chamas, National Post, Jan. 15, 2015

Iraq Crisis: The Last Christians of Dora: Richard Spencer, Telegraph, Dec. 22, 2015

Yemen's Last Jews Eye Exodus After Islamist Militia Takeover: Mohammed Ghobari, Yahoo News,  Feb. 15, 2015

The Last of the Arab Jews: Lucette Lagnado, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 13, 2015

                                                                     

                                      

CHRISTIAN SLAUGHTER IN LIBYA                                                                                         

Raymond Ibrahim                                                                                                                 

Frontpage, Feb. 17, 2015

 

The disputed fate of the 21 Coptic Christians abducted in Sirte, Libya is now clear and visible for all to see on video: while holding them down, Islamic State members shove their fingers in the Christians’ eye, crane their heads back, and slice away at their throats with knives—all in the name of Allah and Islam, all as the slaughtered call out on the “Lord Jesus Christ.” Earlier, the BBC had falsely reported that 13 of these now slaughtered Copts were “released.” (Such downplaying of Muslim persecution of Christians is, of course, standard for the BBC.)

 

In the video, the lead executioner waves his dagger at the camera while boasting of the Islamic State’s savagery: “Oh people, recently you have seen us on the hills of as-Sham and Dabiq’s plain [Syrian regions], chopping off the heads that have been carrying the cross for a long time.  And today, we are on the south of Rome, on the land of Islam, Libya, sending another message.” He adds: “We will fight you until Christ descends, breaks the cross and kills the pig” (all eschatological actions ascribed to the Muslim “Christ,” Isa). As opposed to the Obama administration’s reactions to Islamic State beheadings of Americans and others—namely, strong assertions that such actions are not Islamic—Egyptian President Sisi responded to the slaughter of Egyptian citizens by immediately sending fighter jets to bomb Islamic State targets in Libya. What did these Coptic Christians—or, as the Islamic State refers to them, “The Humiliated Followers of the Coptic Church”—do to deserve such treatment?  According to Catholic Pope Francis, “They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians.  It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians!”

 

Far from being satisfied with the slaughter of these 21 Christians, the Islamic State is calling on Muslims to find and slaughter more Coptic Christians. (Copts make for the majority of Christians in Libya, having migrated there from neighboring Egypt to find work during the Gaddafi years; most of them are desperate to return but need aid from the Egyptian government to cross the Libyan desert.) In its online English magazine Dabiq, after justifying the slaughter of the 21, the Islamic State concludes by asserting that “it is important for Muslims everywhere to know that there is no doubt in the great reward to be found on Judgment Day for those who spill the blood of these Coptic crusaders wherever they may be found.” And indeed, spilling Coptic Christian blood in Libya—and being rewarded for it—has been ongoing for some time now.  The fact is that this most recent beheading, which received a decent amount of media attention, is only the latest in a long line of Muslim persecution of Christians in Libya…                                         

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]     

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                               

                      

THE RELIGIOUS CLEANSING OF MIDDLE EAST CHRISTIANS                                                          

Benjamin Weinthal                                                                                                      

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 28, 2014

 

The fate of struggling Christians in Muslim-majority countries in the Islamic heartland has shifted from persecution to an existential struggle. Anti-Christian violence in 2014 saw a transformation from under-told news coverage, to routine reports of radical Islamists seeking to obliterate Christianity’s presence…

 

"Persecution no longer adequately describes the treatment of Christians in a growing number of Muslim areas. Religious cleansing, a type of cultural genocide, which is a crime against humanity, is the more accurate description. This is now occurring in Iraq, Syria, parts of Nigeria, Egypt, Sudan, Somalia and Pakistan. A goal of Islamic extremists is total Islamization and this has nearly been achieved in Iraq, which a decade ago was home to one of the four most robust Christian communities in the Arab world,” said Nina Shea, director of the Washington- based Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. Shea, who has written extensively about the lack of Christian religious freedom, said “Now, the overwhelming majority of Iraq’s Christian community, formerly numbering 1.4 million, are immigrants in the West, refugees in the region, or internally displaced persons in Iraqi Kurdistan.

 

Since Christians are the largest non-Muslim minority there and the smaller Yazidi, Mandean and Jewish communities have also been driven out or killed. Iraq is for the first time in history becoming entirely Islamic. Over the millennia, its minorities were influential and their absence will have geopolitical implications.” A snapshot of news headlines during the Christmas period signifies a rapidly deteriorating situation for the Middle East’s Christians. The Irish Times wrote, “Christians most persecuted and discriminated against worldwide: Most violations of religious freedom occur in Muslim countries.” The New York Daily News editorial noted: A war on Christians rages around the world. “Lack of help for Iraqi Christians from international community,” headlined the BBC for a video interview. “A jailed Iranian Pastor’s Christmas Prayer,” read a Wall Street Journal opinion article headline.

 

The case of Iran is part and parcel of a deceptive strategy to court the West while incarcerating Iranian Christians. Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani tweeted on Christmas; ”May Jesus Christ, Prophet of peace & love, bless us all on this day. Wishing Merry# Christmas to those celebrating, esp #Iranian Christians.”  Pastor Farshid Fathi experienced four Christmases in prison for practicing his faith. American-Iranian pastor Saeed Abedini spent his third Christmas in prison for his Christian work. UN human rights reports have documented severe oppression of Christian Iranians, which Iran’s so-called moderate president shows no appetite for curtailing. According to Open Doors USA, an organization that seeks to prevent Christian persecution, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen are in the top 10 violators of Christianity. In terms of global persecution of Christians, Open Doors noted 322 Christians are murdered each month for simply being Christian, 214 Christian properties are destroyed and violence affects 772.

 

Spectacular levels of violence targeting Iraqi Christians prompted Pope Francis to say this month, “Your resistance is martyrdom, dew which bears fruit.” Islamic State presents the most immediate danger to Christians in Iraq and Syria because of its ideology to rapidly eliminate Christianity. Dexter Van Zile, a Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America, said “we need to devote the resources necessary to defeat ISIS [Islamic State] and make it perfectly clear that the people responsible for murdering Christians, Yazidis and other minorities will face justice. We simply cannot let them get away with it. “The efforts to help the Christians in the Middle East will look a lot like the choices the West was faced with when the Jews were being murdered in Europe. We’ll have to get serious about providing permanent refuge to Christians from the region in our own countries, which ominously enough, did not happen with the Jews. I hope and pray we make a different choice this time. These people need homes, permanent homes in the West,” said Van Zile. He added, “we’ll have to think about providing a safe haven for them in the region…

 

Christians in Iraq have called for the creation of a special province for minorities in Iraq – the Nineveh Plains proposal – which has largely been ignored by policy makers in the West.” Analyzing Israel’s role in the region can help in grasping the larger context, according to academic experts. Dr. Richard Landes, director and co-founder of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University said, “in the old days [Yishuv days], when the Muslims rioted and massacred Jews, they’d say, ‘first the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.’ Now that the Jews have a state and can defend themselves, they’ve moved on to the Sunday people, and the only place Christians are safe is where the Saturday people have sovereignty.” He added, “The really sick part of this picture is that the Christians in the west not only won’t come to the defense of the Sunday people in the Muslim world, but rather, seem fixated on not letting the Saturday people defend either themselves or the Sunday people who live among them. With their western enemies behaving so self-destructively, it’s a good time to be a jihadi.”…                                                                                             

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                 

 

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

             

GROUP FORMING TO RAISE PUBLIC AWARENESS OF YEZIDI GENOCIDE;

"THE WORLD IS SILENT" SAYS YAZIDI SPOKESMAN                                                                           

Doris Strub Epstein

CIJR, Jan. 27, 2015

 

The genocidal atrocities being perpetrated daily on the Yazidi people by the Islamic State have vanished from media radar. They have been targeted by the IS for death, forced conversion and sexual slavery. The killing, the torture of thousands; the abduction of girls as young as eight, raped, sold, used as sex slaves by IS fighters, continues unabated.

 

Last Friday morning a group met with Yazidis at the Zionist Centre on Marlee [Toronto, ON], to hear their story and to help raise public awareness of their plight. Participating was Dr. Mordechai Kedar, renowned Arab and Middle East expert, whose cutting edge ideas and leadership abilities have led many to call him the Winston Churchill of our day.  A professor at Bar Ilan University, he also served for many years in the IDF's Intelligence, specializing on all facets of Islam.  He was in town for a series of lectures.

Hearing Mirza Ismail talk about his people, was eerily reminiscent of the history of the  Jewish people.  He is Chairman of the  Yezidi Human Rights Organization International.  Like the Jews, the Yezidis are an ancient  people, dating back 6,000 years.  Their origin is in the heart of Mesopotamia, the birth place of civilization. They have been attacked again and again over the centuries by Islamic forces, "just because we have a different culture and religion". Today they are on the verge of annihilation. "And the world is silent", he told the group in despair.  The Yazidis have an ancient monotheistic religion that is neither Christian nor Muslim.

 

The present plight of the Yazidis is disturbingly similar to what happened to the Jewish people during the Holocaust. They were persecuted and targeted for genocide simply because they were Jews and were abandoned by the world.  This time the enemy is wearing black hoods instead of brown shirts. There are 500,000 -700,000 Yazidis, largely based in Northern Iraq in the province of Nineveh and Mt. Sinjar. But they are also in Syria , Turkey, Iran, Russia, Georgia and Armenia, forced to flee their ancient homelands.  Some are also in the US and about 85 families live in Canada. In August, 2014, ISIS attacked and took over the Kurdish controlled town of Sinjhar, driving more than 50,00 Yazidis out of their homes and fleeing for their lives to Sinjar Mountain.  An estimated 10,000 men have been executed and as many as 7,000 women and girls have been made sex slaves and sold.  Four hundred escaped and told horrific tales of brutality; multiple rape – 20 to 30 times daily – beatings, being forced to give blood to wounded ISIS fighters.

 

Eyewitnesses report stories of beheadings, rape and children dying of starvation and dehydration. William Devlin, a New York pastor who visited in January, called the present situation of more than 300,000 refugees "genocidal and insane" in dire need of humanitarian aid. In the camp "hospitals" there are no doctors.  "For the Yazidis there is no doctors without borders", Merza told the group.  Why in the 21st Century, everybody knows, but nobody cares about our lives?" Furthermore, they are treated "with no respect" by the Muslim UN workers in the camps, he said.

 

Twelve thousand are still on Mt. Sinjar, totally isolated, lacking food, water and "most important," said Mirza, "arms…The US and Europe are giving arms to the Kurds to give to the Yazidis, but they don't. The world thinks the Kurds are protecting them, but they don't give them any support." Mirza connected Dr. Kedar by telephone to a Yazidi on Mt. Sinjar. They spoke in Arabic.  I could hear the desperation in his voice over the speaker phone. "The world is not taking them seriously. They have no power because they are not sufficiently organized," said Dr. Kedar.  He proceeded to tell them how to "package" themselves to get the attention of the media and the world.  "If you are not on the media, you don't exist," he said. Later he arranged a meeting for them with the Indian Consul General. "Our voices must be their voices," said JIMENA's (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) president, Gina Waldman. "Their plight must be our plight."                                                                   

 

Contents                                                                            

                                        

ISIS’S WAR ON THE WORLD’S ANCIENT RELIGIONS                                                                              

Stephanie Saldana                                                                                              

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 24, 2014

 

When thousands of Yazidis fled ISIS militants to Mount Sinjar in northwestern Iraq this August, newspapers soon filled with horrific stories: young Yazidi women sold into slavery, tens of thousands of refugees escaping into Syria and Kurdistan in the summer heat, and thousands more trapped on the mountain without food and water. Vian Dakhil, the sole Yazidi member of the Iraqi Parliament, broke down in front of her colleagues in a speech that was viewed around the world: “My people are being slaughtered. . . . I speak in the name of humanity. Save us!” No one disputed that the Yazidis were facing life or death. The real question was: Who are the Yazidis?

 

It is difficult to imagine a more timely book than Gerard Russell ’s “Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East.” Equal parts travelogue and history, Mr. Russell’s meticulously researched book takes readers into some of the region’s least-known minority communities: the Mandaeans of Iraq, the Copts of Egypt, the Zoroastrians, the Samaritans, and, yes, the Yazidis. These religious groups are often ignored in public debate about the Middle East because of their esoteric beliefs and their size—there are only an estimated 750 Samaritans left in the region—and because they have often survived by living in isolated mountains, marshlands and villages far outside the traditional seats of power. Tragically, many of these remote areas in Syria and Iraq are now under ISIS control. And in countries throughout the region, ancient faiths—including Christianity—are disappearing as believers flee Islamic extremism, civil war and poverty. As Mr. Russell writes: “There are no safe places anymore.”

 

The author, who spent 14 years as a British diplomat in the region and is fluent in Arabic and Dari, is an ideal guide for this journey. In every case, he travels in search of religions that are the “frail descendants” of ancient civilizations, connecting “the present to the past, bringing us within touching distance of long-dead cultures.” He writes movingly of worshiping with Coptic Christians in Cairo for a year and of traveling to the Shrine of Lalish to understand the Yazidis’ reverence for Melek Taoos, the peacock angel who they believe is “God’s lieutenant in the knowable universe.” He also doesn’t shy away from the bewildering contradictions of some these religions. The Druze religion, for example, is so secretive that many of its own members don’t know its tenets. In a classic moment in Lebanon, where Mr. Russell interviews Walid Jumblatt, the famous political leader of the Druze community there, Mr. Jumblatt tells the author: “I know nothing about the Druze.” In the opening chapter of his book, Mr. Russell introduces us to the Mandaeans of Iraq, whose members practice baptism as their primary means of worship. Often referred to as followers of John the Baptist, they say that he—not Jesus—was the greatest miracle worker. Scholars trace their holy texts to the second or third century, though the Mandaeans believe they were passed down from Adam himself. Known for wearing long white robes and immersing themselves in the water of the Tigris and Euphrates for their baptisms, the group faced kidnapping, forced conversion and murder in the chaotic aftermath of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Today, 90% of the Mandaeans of Iraq are gone. As one believer in exile tells Mr. Russell of Iraq: “I love it there. But I can’t live it.”

 

The author also journeys to meet the Samaritans—familiar to many readers from the story of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke, who today still live outside Nablus in the West Bank and claim to be among the lost tribes of Israel. He joins them on Mount Gerizim, the place they believe Abraham bound Isaac for sacrifice, to watch them sacrifice lambs during Passover. In the process of reporting on these communities, Mr. Russell explodes the common myth that the Middle East is the monolithic “Islamic world,” showing instead that it is home to some of the world’s oldest religious traditions. Indeed, one of Mr. Russell’s central points is that Islam was for much of history more open to religious minorities than Christian Europe. The atrocities carried out today by the Islamic State—including the persecution of so-called Islamic heretics—is a far cry from the pragmatic tolerance of the Ottoman Empire…               

 

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]      

                                                           

Contents                                                                                                         

                                          

IN OBAMA’S IMPULSE TO ABSOLVE ISLAM,                                                    

HE OFFERS A REBUKE TO CHRISTIANITY                                                                                           

Rex Murphy                                                                                                        

National Post, Feb. 7, 2015

 

The President of the United States is an interesting theologian. He has taken to declaring that Islamic terrorists, who by their own emphatic insistence are Islamic, and who conduct their merciless operations in Nigeria, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and fitfully in many countries around the world explicitly and defiantly under the banner of Islam, are not what or whom they say they are. His purpose can  been seen as vaguely worthy — making the point that not all Muslims subscribe to the violent actions and tenets of the numerous radical factions, but saying “not all” does not erase a worryingly large “some.” Some, in these dreadful cases, is very, very many. But who really blames, or has been blaming, “all Muslims” ever? Western world leaders to a person have been insisting it is not all Muslims since the morning of the 9/11 attacks. This is a tired, and by now needless, rhetorical gambit. But Mr. Obama treads travels much further on this dubious ground. On Thursday, two days after Jordanian pilot Muath Al-Kassasbeh was horrifically murdered by ISIS, Mr. Obama, speaking at a prayer breakfast, went through the usual theatre — these people are not Muslims, Islam is peace, etc., but then took a strange sideswipe at Christians.

 

He had this to say: “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.” My first qualification here would be to point the obvious, that in those times of the Crusades, Muslims were committing terrible deeds in the name of Allah. This was not a one-sided clash of blades and bludgeons. This is hardly a trivial point. My second is that the burden of his remarks are so very odd. Is it a very strange turn of thought to have, the day after someone was burned to death in a cage by Islamist fanatics,  that Mr. Obama thinks Christians are about to mount their “high horse” and are making the claim that the barbarism of this week is “unique to one place.” Hardly unique, Mr. President. Check Boko Haram for the last couple of months. Or the Taliban any month you choose. There is no high horse. Christians are not climbing on it. And no one has claimed religious violence is unique. The whole line of thought is not so much a straw man as the logical equivalent of an entire thatched roof of those stuffed puppets. He also called up slavery as being done, by some, in the name of Christ, as if the practice owed something very particular to Christian belief, ignoring that the ignominy of slave-trading has been practiced since ancient days by peoples of varying faiths, to the everlasting shame of them all.

 

The Americans, to their equally everlasting credit, fought a civil war and ended slavery, and it was the greatest of presidents, and the country’s greatest true moralist, who conducted that war. It was Lincoln who posed the searing observation in the Second Inaugural address that, “It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.” The key to that sentence lies in the word “dare.” In the most powerful line of that same address, this deeply religious President, gave his — may we call it Christian? — view of slavery. If the war should continue, said Lincoln “till all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword…” it could be seen as a judgment of God.

 

In sum, far from seeing a Christian warrant for slavery, Lincoln, in that profound address, pictured it as a deep woe upon the Republic, an “offence” against God, and the devastations of the Civil War as a providential unfolding. Oscar Wilde, if I may obtrude the playwright into so serious a subject, once wrote that listening to Chopin he felt “as if I had been weeping over sins that I had never committed, and mourning over tragedies that were not my own.” That’s the same feeling one could get from listening from the tone and tenor of Mr. Obama’s prayer meeting remarks. In his impulse to absolve Islam, he offers a rebuke to Christianity. He enfolds the most extreme acts of ISIS and other branches of radical Islam into a story of Christian hypocrisy. He goes back a thousand years to indict, at least partially, Christianity, and ignores yesterday in order to maintain that all of Islam is peaceful. There have been many sins committed by many faiths, and there are tragedies even now underway. But it is a very displaced analysis that seeks to offer corrections to Christianity during a period of Islamic turmoil, and seeks out forgotten sins to ignore those so very close to mind.

 

Contents                                                                                     

 

 

On Topic

 

 

Minority Report: 10 Mideast Minorities Whose Futures May be Uncertain: Sophie Chamas, National Post, Jan. 15, 2015— Since 9/11, North Americans’ familiarity with the Middle East has gradually deepened.

Iraq Crisis: The Last Christians of Dora: Richard Spencer, Telegraph, Dec. 22, 2015 —There will be no last stand for the besieged Iraqi Christians of Dora.

Yemen's Last Jews Eye Exodus After Islamist Militia Takeover: Mohammed Ghobari, Yahoo News,  Feb. 15, 2015—A few worried families are all that remain of Yemen's ancient Jewish community, and they too may soon flee after a Shi'ite Muslim militia seized power in the strife-torn country this month.

The Last of the Arab Jews: Lucette Lagnado, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 13, 2015—By the hundreds, they gathered for a pre-wedding party on a resort island in Tunisia. Here, in the heart of the Muslim world, the crowds were speaking Arabic. The band was Arab too, playing boisterous Arabic melodies.

Our Arab Allies Understand What Obama Doesn’t: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 16, 2015 —Were President Obama to acknowledge forthrightly that “extremists” are out to kill Jews (whether in Europe or in genocidal fashion once nuclear weapons are obtained) and then Christians and other “nonbelievers,” he would be obliged, in turn, to recognize the ideological underpinnings of the Islamic jihadists.

 

 

 

 

                                                                    

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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CHRISTIANS — SUBJECT TO ISLAMIST PERSECUTION & DHIMMITUDE ACROSS THE ARAB WORLD — FIND SAFE HAVEN IN JEWISH ISRAEL

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

Why Are Christians the World’s Most Persecuted Group?: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Feb. 28, 2014— Why are Christians, as a new Pew report documents, the most persecuted religious group in the world?

Iran’s Oppressed Christians: Liana Aghajanian, New York Times, Mar. 14, 2014 — I met Mori in the basement of a Lutheran church in Berlin’s Zehlendorf district. A 28-year-old refugee who once ran a small business in Iran, he converted to Christianity five years ago and spoke to me on condition that I use only his first name in order to protect his identity.

We Christians Live in Fear in Syria: Antoine Audo, Telegraph, Mar. 8, 2014— Until the war began, Syria was one of the last remaining strongholds for Christianity in the Middle East.

The Future of Egypt’s Copts: Samuel Tadros, Hoover Institution, Feb. 4, 2014 — The fall of the Mubarak regime in February 2011 unleashed a monumental and contagious wave of optimism.

 

On Topic Links

 

Christians to EU: Israel is Our Safe Haven: Ryan Jones, Israel Today, Mar. 24, 2014

Armenians Flee Syrian Town Seized by Radical Islamists: Ravi Kumar, Investigative Project of Terrorism, Mar. 31, 2014

UN Report Assails Iran for Persecution of Religious Minorities: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 1, 2014

Islamists Demand Levy from Christians in Syrian City: Reuters, Feb. 26, 2014

                               

                             

WHY ARE CHRISTIANS THE WORLD’S

MOST PERSECUTED GROUP?                                                             

Raymond Ibrahim

Frontpage, Feb. 28, 2014

 

Why are Christians, as a new Pew report documents, the most persecuted religious group in the world? And why is their persecution occurring primarily throughout the Islamic world? (In the category on "Countries with Very High Government Restrictions on Religion," Pew lists 24 countries—20 of which are Islamic and precisely where the overwhelming majority of "the world's" Christians are actually being persecuted.). The reason for this ubiquitous phenomenon of Muslim persecution of Christians is threefold:

 

Christianity is the largest religion in the world. There are Christians practically everywhere around the globe, including in much of the Muslim world. Moreover, because much of the land that Islam seized was originally Christian—including the Middle East and North Africa, the region that is today known as the "Arab world"—Muslims everywhere are still confronted with vestiges of Christianity, for example, in Syria, where many ancient churches and monasteries are currently being destroyed by al-Qaeda linked, U.S. supported "freedom fighters." Similarly, in Egypt, where Alexandria was a major center of ancient Christianity before the 7th century Islamic invasions, there still remain at least 10 million Coptic Christians (though some put the number at much higher). Due to sheer numbers alone, then, indigenous Christians are much more visible and exposed to attack by Muslims than other religious groups throughout the Arab world. Yet as CNS News puts it, "President Obama expressed hope that the 'Arab Spring' would give rise to greater religious freedom in North Africa and the Middle East, which has had the world's highest level of hostility towards religion in every year since 2007, when Pew first began measuring it. However, the study finds that these regions actually experienced the largest increase in religious hostilities in 2012."

 

Christianity is a proselytizing faith that seeks to win over converts. No other major religion—including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism—except Islam itself has this missionary aspect (these faiths tend to be coterminous with their respective ethnicities: Buddhists, Asians; Judaism, Jews; Hinduism, Hindus). Thus because Christianity is the only religion that is actively confronting Muslims with the truths of its own message, not only is it the primary religion to be accused of proselytizing but, by publicly uttering teachings that contradict Muhammad's, Christians are accused of blaspheming as well. Similarly, this proselytizing element is behind the fact that most Muslims who apostatize to other religions overwhelmingly convert to Christianity. Finally, if indigenous Christians are many in the Middle East, because that is the cradle of Christianity, in other regions with large Muslim populations, such as sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia, Christian missionaries have won over millions of converts to the faith—many of whom are now targeted and persecuted according to Islam's anti-apostasy law, which often calls for the death penalty.

 

Christianity is the quintessential religion of martyrdom. From its inception—beginning with Jesus followed by his disciples and the early Church—many Christians have accepted martyrdom rather than recant their faith, in ancient times at the hands of Romans, in Medieval and modern times at the hands of pious Muslims and others. Few other religions encourage their adherents to embrace death rather than recant, as captured by Christ's own words: "But whoever denies me before men, I will deny him before my Father in heaven" (Matt 10:33; see also Luke 14:33)." Conversely, Islam teaches Muslims to openly renounce their faith (taqiyya)—not just when their lives are threatened, but even as a stratagem of war—as long as they remain Muslim in their hearts. Other religions and sects also approve of dissimulation to preserve their adherents' lives. Back in the 1800s, for instance, Samuel M. Zwemer, a Christian missionary, observed that in Iran "Bahaism enjoys taqiyya (concealment of faith) as a duty, but Christianity demands public profession; and hence in Persia it is far easier to become a Bahai than to become a Christian."

 

To summarize, because of their sheer numbers around the globe, including the Muslim world, Christians are the most likely targets of Islamic intolerance; because sharing the Gospel, or "witnessing," is a dominant element of Christianity, Christians are most likely to fall afoul of Islam's blasphemy and proselytism laws, as even the barest pro-Christian talk is by necessity a challenge to the legitimacy of Islam; because most Muslims who apostatize to other religions convert to Christianity, it is as Christians that they suffer persecution; and because boldness in face of certain death—martyrdom, dying for the faith—is as old as Christianity itself, Christians are especially prone to defy Islam's anti-freedom laws, whether by openly proclaiming Christianity or by refusing to recant it, and so they die for it.

 

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IRAN’S OPPRESSED CHRISTIANS                                                     

Liana Aghajanian                                                                               

New York Times, Mar. 14, 2014

 

I met Mori in the basement of a Lutheran church in Berlin’s Zehlendorf district. A 28-year-old refugee who once ran a small business in Iran, he converted to Christianity five years ago and spoke to me on condition that I use only his first name in order to protect his identity. In 2011, delayed on the way to a secret Bible study session, he narrowly escaped when Revolutionary Guards raided his underground Evangelical church. He watched as his friends disappeared into Iran’s prison system; Mori suspects they’ve been killed. “When you’re Christian in Iran, you can’t speak. You have to keep quiet and not talk about the truth that you know and that you believe in,” he told me. “There is no such thing as a comfortable life in Iran.”

 

Christianity of course is not alien to Iran. It arrived in ancient Persia not long after the death of Christ and has waxed and waned ever since. But in recent decades, especially in the last few years, things have grown worse. As Washington seeks rapprochement with Tehran over Iran’s nuclear and regional ambitions, the Obama administration must not let its protests over cruel treatment of Christians and other religious minorities fall by the wayside.

 

Christians make up roughly less than half of 1 percent of Iran’s roughly 80 million people. Numbers are difficult to determine: There could be as many as half a million Christians in the country, according to a report by the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. It cites research by the World Christian Database indicating that there were 270,000 living there in 2010. Most of them are ethnic Armenians and Assyrians who, though closely monitored, are able to practice their own Orthodox faith. It is the other denominations — mostly converts from Islam to Evangelical Protestantism — that are more likely to be harassed, imprisoned or even murdered. The World Christian Database counted 66,000 Protestants in Iran in 2010. Open Doors, a nondenominational organization tracking Christian persecution, estimates that Iran has 370,000 “new Christians from a Muslim background.” In the last decade, televised proselytizing, often by ministers from the Iranian Diaspora, has fueled the rise of Evangelical Christianity. Tehran’s ruling ayatollahs see the trend as foreign meddling meant to undermine the regime. Under Shariah law, defection from Islam is not only a sin: It is a criminal offense. Legal and ex-judicial punishment can be severe, yet refugees say that Christians have boldly begun discussing their faith with Muslim neighbors.

 

Persecution is well-documented. In 2004, Hamid Pourmand, the lay leader of Jama’at-e Rabbani, the Iranian branch of the evangelical Assemblies of God, was arrested with more than 80 other members, charged with apostasy and imprisoned for years before his release. A report last year by Ahmed Shaheed, a United Nations special rapporteur, talks of Christians being “prosecuted on vaguely worded national security crimes for exercising their beliefs,” with more than 300 having been arrested since 2010. Mori was one of the lucky ones. In 2011, he got a fake passport, paid 7,000 euros to a smuggler and joined the rising flow of refugees. The numbers entering Germany, known for its strong record for granting asylum, have soared in recent years, from 815 in 2008 to 4,348 in 2012, and will likely well exceed that figure this year, according to the Association of Iranian Refugees in Berlin. It is difficult to say how many of these people are Christian. A spokeswoman for the federal refugee office told me the government does not keep records on the religious affiliation of applicants.

 

Moreover, Iranians living in cramped conditions in converted schools and barracks are careful to keep their distance from one other, wary of talking about their cases or their lives back home. Many fear that Iranian government spies have been planted among them, a regular practice of Iran’s secret police. Meanwhile, Iran’s crackdown on religious freedom continues. Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor and ex-Muslim was arrested in 2012 on a visit to Iran and sentenced last year to eight years in prison for helping to build the country’s underground Christian church network. Though President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have both called for his release, the dream of better relations with Iran has clouded over sobering realities.

 

President Hassan Rouhani, often portrayed in the West as a reform-minded moderate, has urged an end to meddling in Iranians’ private lives. Last December, he sent his best wishes to those celebrating Christmas via Twitter, “especially Iranian Christians.” But Mr. Abedini and others languish in prison. As a signatory of international human rights declarations, Iran must be held accountable for the appalling treatment of its citizens if it wants to normalize relations with the West.                      

                                                                         

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WE CHRISTIANS LIVE IN FEAR IN SYRIA          

Antoine Audo

Telegraph, Mar. 8, 2014

 

Today, the first Sunday of Lent, will see churches crowded across the globe. But here in Syria, where St Paul found his faith, many churches stand empty, targets for bombardment and desecration. Aleppo, where I have been bishop for 25 years, is devastated. We have become accustomed to the daily dose of death and destruction, but living in such uncertainty and fear exhausts the body and the mind. We hear the thunder of bombs and the rattle of gunfire, but we don’t always know what is happening. It’s hard to describe how chaotic, terrifying and psychologically difficult it is when you have no idea what will happen next, or where the next rocket will fall. Many Christians cope with the tension by being fatalistic: that whatever happens is God’s will.

 

Until the war began, Syria was one of the last remaining strongholds for Christianity in the Middle East. We have 45 churches in Aleppo. But now our faith is under mortal threat, in danger of being driven into extinction, the same pattern we have seen in neighbouring Iraq. Most Christians who could afford to leave Aleppo have already fled for Lebanon, so as to find schools for their children. Those who remain are mostly from poor families. Many can no longer put food on the table. Last year, even amid intense fighting, you could see people in the streets running around endlessly trying to find bread in one of the shops.

 

The health system has also fallen apart. In the hospitals, many doctors have been threatened and forced to flee, so people fear that if they do get injured there will be no one to treat them. I thank God for the few brave surgeons who have stayed. Most people here are now unemployed, and – without work – daily life lacks a purpose. People have no way to wash and their clothes are ragged. We have almost no electricity, and depression reigns at night. But when the darkness comes, I take courage from the fact that it was not always like this.

 

Syrians lived together for many years as a country, as a civilisation and a culture without hate or violence. Most people are not interested in sectarian divisions. We just want to work and live as we did before the war, when people of all faiths co-existed peacefully. Syrian Christians may face great peril, but we have a crucial role to play in restoring peace. We have no interest in power, no stake in the spoils of this war, no objective but to rebuild our society. As president of the Catholic aid charity Caritas, I am co-ordinating emergency relief for tens of thousands of people of all faiths, who desperately lack food, medical care and shelter, working in areas held both by the government and by armed opposition groups. We have many centres where people come to receive aid, and our volunteers go out to find those too weak, sick, old or young to help themselves. We support people of all backgrounds. It is dangerous work. Five months ago, two rockets hit our offices, and it was truly a miracle that no one was killed.

 

As for me, I have to be careful walking around the city because of the risk of snipers and kidnapping. The fate of two priests snatched on the road from Aleppo to Damascus remains unknown. People fear for my safety and tell me to discard my bishop’s robes or hide away entirely. But I cannot work unless I am in the streets to understand the situation and the suffering of the people. I am sustained by the daily acts of solidarity from my brothers and sisters around the world – including those from the British Church and its aid agency Cafod – with their prayers and donations. And as I walk through the dust and the rubble, I am not afraid…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –Ed.]

 

Contents
                                        

THE FUTURE OF EGYPT’S COPTS                        

Samuel Tadros

Hoover Institution, Feb. 4, 2014

 

The fall of the Mubarak regime in February 2011 unleashed a monumental and contagious wave of optimism. Images of Christians and Muslims holding hands in Tahrir Square were broadcast around the world and gave credence to the narrative that a new more liberal and democratic Egypt was being born.

The truth was entirely different. Copts were never enthusiastic about the revolution. Perhaps it was the wisdom of centuries of persecution that taught minorities the eternal lesson of survival: that the persecuting dictator was always preferable to the mob. The ruler, after all, could be bought off or persuaded to back off, or constrained by foreign powers, but with the mob, you stood no chance. Some of the Coptic youth were lured by the promise of a liberal Egypt in which their plight might finally come to an end, but the older generation knew better. The promises of January 2011 soon gave way to the reality of May, when the churches of Imbaba were attacked, and October, the time of the Maspero massacre. The complete collapse of the police and the state’s repression apparatus liberated Islamists from any constraints. On the national level, Islamists soon swept elections and dominated the political sphere, and on the local level, Islamists, much more emboldened by the rise of their brethren nationally and the collapse of the police were asserting their power on Egyptian streets and villages and enforcing their views. While their leaders such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Deputy General Guide, Khairat El Shater, were proclaiming their goal of the “Islamization of life,” local Islamists were making that goal a reality on the ground.

 

Patterns of persecution continued after the revolution and were reinforced. The number and scope of the attacks swelled dramatically and they were no longer limited to obscure villages or shantytowns but spread to the streets of Cairo and in front of the official TV headquarters. Church buildings were attacked and burned, mob violence against Copts was on the rise, and the new horror of forced evacuations from villages was becoming more common. Copts in small villages were increasingly forced to adhere to the Islamists’ standards and vision enforced on the ground. Accusations of blasphemy and insulting religion rose with Copts as their primary targets. Seven Copts today linger in Egyptian prisons as a result of court verdicts due to such accusations. The most worrisome aspect for Copts remains the participation of their neighbors, coworkers, and people they had grown up with in attacking them. Even if the Egyptian state ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood miraculously decided to intervene, the local hatreds are now impossible to contain.

 

On the national level the picture is also gloomy. While the Muslim Brotherhood paid lip service to Western and Coptic concerns before its ascent to power promising equality and freedom for all, once it came to power, those promises were forgotten. The dynamics of Egyptian politics and the rise of the Salafis and the threat they pose to the Muslim Brotherhood ensure that the Muslim Brotherhood will not attempt to address Coptic grievances. The Muslim Brotherhood still insists on using sectarian rhetoric that inflames local angers against Copts, and its leaders use Copts as scapegoats for the problems Egypt faces from train accidents to opposition demonstrations. The new Egyptian Constitution, passed in December 2012, further enshrines both the Islamic nature of the state and second class status for Copts.

 

The Islamists’ goal is not the annihilation of Copts. Copts are not likely to face a holocaust in the future, though local pogroms are all but guaranteed. The Islamists’ goal is to subjugate Copts to their notions of their proper place as dhimmis under benevolent Islamic rule. It is for Copts to accept dhimmitude, live by it, and embrace it. Copts will be allowed to live in Egypt, tolerated as second-class citizens recognizing and accepting their second-class status. Any attempt by Copts to break those chains of dhimmitude and act as equals is frowned upon as an affront to the supremacy and primacy of Islam in its own land.

 

Indisputably, there is today a Coptic nation. It is however not a nation that seeks to achieve independence and statehood. That nation is not racial nor, after the loss of the Coptic language, is it based on a distinct language or on purely religious lines. Instead, it is a nation that is founded on the unique history of a church. It is a nation, as S.S. Hassan described it, whose topography is invisible. The nature of the dangers facing that nation have varied throughout its history from assimilation in an imagined liberal Egypt, to the erosion of Coptic uniqueness, the threat of Protestant missionaries, and of modernity and its discontents. Today, this nation faces a more serious threat. It can fight back against persecution although overwhelming odds lined up against it assure its defeat. It can accept dhimmitude and live as second-class citizens, or it can withdraw inside the walls of its ancient church finding comfort within those walls.

 

The prospects for Copts in Egypt are, to say the least, bleak. Their options are limited. Copts are not geographically concentrated in one area so that the potential for a safe haven may be considered, and unlike the Jewish emigrants escaping Egypt in the ’40s and ’50s, for Copts driven out of their ancestral homeland there is no Israel to escape to. Nor does their overall percentage in Egypt allow them to play a key role in shaping its future. The only option in front of them is to pack their bags and leave, putting an end to two thousand years of Christianity in Egypt…

 

The feeling of sadness and distress is impossible to overcome as I watch the faces of the new immigrants in my church in Virginia. A church that has withstood diverse and tremendous challenges is now threatened in its very existence. When Copts leave Egypt, it is not only a loss to them and their church. A country and region will lose a portion of its identity and history. Devoutly religious, Copts point to the promises of the Lord in Isaiah 19:19 of the altar to the Lord in the heart of Egypt, and to the Coptic Church’s history. Coptic history has been an endless story of decline and despair, but it has also been a story of survival, endurance in the face of persecution, and the courage and blood of martyrs becoming the seeds of the church. Persecution has taken its toll on the church and on Copts, but Coptic history has also been a story of triumph amidst despair and of the Lord’s protection of his people. Under the Coptic Cathedral in Cairo are the relics of two men: St. Mark, who brought the message of Christ to the Egyptians and ultimately shed his blood on its soil, and St. Athanasius, the defender of faith and the man who stood against the whole world and kept the Orthodox faith alive. It is as if the cathedral and the whole Coptic Church stands on those two pillars, martyrdom and faith.

 

Pope Tawadros II who rose to the throne of St. Mark on November 18, 2012, faces enormous challenges. He has declared his intention to focus on organizing the Coptic Church internally and has already undertaken some very positive initiatives in that regard but, no matter what his intentions are, he will inevitably find himself forced to deal with the growing plight of his people…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –Ed.]

 

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Christians to EU: Israel is Our Safe Haven: Ryan Jones, Israel Today, Mar. 24, 2014 —Some 150 Israeli Arabic-speaking Christians on Sunday demonstrated outside the European Union mission in Tel Aviv, demanding that the international community stop nitpicking against Israel and start combatting the severe persecution of Christians everywhere else in the Middle East.

Armenians Flee Syrian Town Seized by Radical Islamists: Ravi Kumar, Investigative Project of Terrorism, Mar. 31, 2014—Residents in a coastal town along the Syria-Turkey border with a significant Armenian population face new threats after rebels seized control of their town from forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad a week ago.

UN Report Assails Iran for Persecution of Religious Minorities: Benjamin Weinthal, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 1, 2014 —Despite the election last year of Iran’s reform-minded president Hassan Rouhani, there has been no Persian thaw for Iran’s struggling religious minorities. Wide-scale repression of religious freedom continues with utter impunity during Rouhani’s tenure.

Islamists Demand Levy from Christians in Syrian City: Reuters, Feb. 26, 2014—An al Qaeda splinter group has demanded that Christians in a Syrian city it controls pay a levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection…

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

TEACHING ZIONISM ON CAMPUS, RABBI HARTMAN APPRECIATED, “ARAB SPRING” CHRISTIANS: PILLORIED, PERSECUTED AND FORGOTTEN

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(Please Note: articles may have been shortened in the interest of space. Please click link for the complete article – Ed.)

 

In Canada, Teaching Zionism, One Student at a Time: Alexandra Markus, Israel Campus Beat, February 11, 2013—Five years ago, Concordia University professor Frederick Krantz noticed a lack of preparedness among Jewish students when faced with the growing anti-Zionist fervor he witnessed on his campus. “Zionism was becoming a negative term and we at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) wanted to do something about it,” he said, “so we started the Student Israel Advocacy Program

 

Hartman: King of No-man’s Land: Amotz Asa-El, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 11, 2013—Having contrasted between two schools of Jewish thought, the medieval one which said God can take no human form, and an earlier one that said God could possess “an emotional interior,” David Hartman took sides. The earlier school, he explained, allowed him “to cite God’s shift from being a figure of complete and total authority to a figure who works in concert with human beings.”

 

Yemen's Forgotten Christians: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 29, 2013—When one thinks of Yemen—the impoverished Arab country that begat Osama bin Laden, and is cushioned between Saudi Arabia and Somalia, two of the absolute most radical Muslim nations—one seldom thinks of Christians, primarily because they are practically nonexistent in such an inhospitable environment. Most tallies, in fact, suggest that Yemen's entire non-Muslim population is less than one percent.

 

Egypt’s ‘Christian Winter’: Brian C. Stiller, National Post, Feb 11, 2013—Sectarian domination was not what Egyptian protesters and self-described revolutionaries had in mind when they drove President Hosni Mubarak from office during Egypt’s Arab Spring in 2011. But to underestimate religious sectarianism in the Middle East is to misunderstand one of its core realities.

 

On Topic Links

 

A Day in the Tortured Life of Middle East Christians: Theodore Shoebat, Front Page Magazine, Feb. 13, 2013
Christians -The Forgotten Victims of the Arab Spring: Ghaffar Hussain, The Commentator, Dec. 12,  2012

Muslim Persecution of Christians: December, 2012: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, February 6, 2013

 

 

IN CANADA, TEACHING ZIONISM, ONE STUDENT AT A TIME
Alexandra Markus

Israel Campus Beat, February 11, 2013

 

Five years ago, Concordia University professor Frederick Krantz noticed a lack of preparedness among Jewish students when faced with the growing anti-Zionist fervor he witnessed on his campus. “Zionism was becoming a negative term and we at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research (CIJR) wanted to do something about it,” he said, “so we started the Student Israel Advocacy Program (SIAP), a year-long seminar with college faculty for the public, to give them facts and data about Jewish and Zionist history, the Arab-Israel conflict and the rise in propaganda.”

 

Krantz, a professor of liberal arts and humanities who completed his PhD at Yeshiva University on the history of anti-Semitism, is the director of CIJR, a 25-year-old organization that is connected with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. The SIAP is one of its many outreach projects.

 

“Frequently, Jewish students, even those who went to Jewish schools, don’t know much history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, so when they are confronted with highly propagandistic Arab students, professors and speakers, they are not prepared,” Krantz noted. SIAP aims to change that by building upon participants’ knowledge of Jewish and Middle East history, their rhetorical skills and their ability to debate and organize on campus, through seminars and workshops. The program stresses the importance of mutual support among Israel supporters.

 

“Our overarching goal is to provide students with the truth about the history of the conflict, facts that allow them to dispute the assertions which are made on campus,” Krantz said, adding, “we try to not only teach these skills, but provide participants with the psychological confidence to put them to good use.”

 

Faculty from three of Montreal’s four universities work together to lead seven workshops each year. Enrolment in the program largely consists of college and university students, but a small contingent of older participants also enrols each year. Generally, 15-20 people complete the program annually. Krantz estimated that approximately 40% of program participants are non-Jewish: “Some of these non-Jewish kids become the most sincerely committed Zionists in the groups we have educated over the years, which has been very satisfying for us,” he said.

 

Laura Ariza Pena Corea, 24, who studies public policy at Concordia University and is not Jewish, completed the program two years ago. She hails from Colombia, a predominantly Catholic country with a small Jewish population. “When I came here, I made some Jewish friends and expressed an interest in learning more about the history and culture, so I was referred to the program,” she explained.

 

Krantz emphasized that the program aims to impart facts rather than opinions, giving participants enough background and history to make informed decisions as to their views on issues related to the conflict. Ariza agreed, saying, “I’m more informed, so when I hear people talk about it, I know the two sides of the coin.”

 

Several participants have gone on to be successful pro-Israel advocates. Hillel Neuer, who heads UNWatch in Geneva, is an alumnus. The program’s remarkable success has pushed it to think bigger. “We’re being imitated now,” Krantz said with satisfaction. “People want to do something similar in Toronto at York University and in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba.”

 

In the meantime, graduates of the program continue to make positive change in their communities, armed with a new determination to combat ignorance. “A lot of people are brainwashed for such a long time,” Ariza said. “They don’t really know the story…. This program exposed me to a whole new perspective.”

 

(Please Note: Professor Krantz obtained his Ph.D. from Cornell University and did his post-graduate work at Yeshiva University – Ed.)

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HARTMAN: KING OF NO-MAN’S LAND

Amotz Asa-El

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 11, 2013

 

Having contrasted between two schools of Jewish thought, the medieval one which said God can take no human form, and an earlier one that said God could possess “an emotional interior,” David Hartman took sides. The earlier school, he explained, allowed him “to cite God’s shift from being a figure of complete and total authority to a figure who works in concert with human beings.”

 

The philosophical debate notwithstanding, Hartman himself personified the theologian who shuns total authority and seeks concert with human beings. In the Israel of 1971, where he arrived after having already been an established rabbi in Canada, this theology was a novelty. In a society firmly divided between observance and secularism, with very little sprawling – let alone flourishing – between them, Hartman was a relentless builder of pathways, bridges and tunnels between both ends of this no man’s land.

 

A disciple of modern Orthodox sage Joseph B. Soloveitchik who lent religious meaning to Israel’s establishment, and an admirer of Conservative thinker Abraham J. Heschel and his quest for “a passionate engagement with God,” Hartman was difficult to classify within the established denominations of Judaism.

 

Cynics questioned his claim to Orthodoxy, but in fact his challenge to Orthodoxy was neither Reform’s nor Conservatism’s to Judaism. If anything, it was reminiscent of early Protestantism’s to Catholicism, as Hartman’s celebration of a Jew’s “covenantal” relationship to God encouraged seeking personal paths to divinity, rather than intermediaries, whether of religion’s charismatic or intellectual modes.

 

Unwilling to accept the religious dichotomies on which Israel was founded, particularly the implicit assumption that Judaism was the exclusive business of the observant, Hartman suspended bridges between observant and secular Israelis, between Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews, and between Jews and non-Jews, in addition to upholding the bridge on which he was born and raised, the one that hangs between Jerusalem and Babel.

 

That is why in the institute which he founded and his son Donniel now heads, one can see scholars from varied faiths poring jointly over a chapter in Psalms and a verse in Isaiah, and rabbis of different denominations matter-of-factly discussing a page in the Talmud or a clause in Maimonides’s Guide for the Perplexed, while on another corner of campus IDF colonels explore with professors of Jewish thought the boundaries of battlefield morality, and several rooms away from them other scholars are writing textbooks on Judaism for secular schools. There is no such place in all of Israel, and actually also no such place beyond it.

 

Even so, the Israel that David Hartman leaves today is closer to his spirit than the one where he landed 42 years ago. Today’s Israel is one where secularists in Tel Aviv flock to all-night Judaic studies on Shavuot, while in Jerusalem, Orthodox women increasingly assume liturgical roles that once were exclusive to males.

 

Today’s Israel is one where the secular son of a famous secularist crusader arrives for his own stint in politics flanked by two rabbis, one modern Orthodox and the other ultra-Orthodox, while the leader of an Orthodox party publicly shakes women’s hands and makes no secret of having once abandoned observance for several years.

 

Increasingly, secular-born Israelis seek paths to their heritage while religious-born ones seek critical religion, just like Israelis raised on overly Talmudic Judaism seek its more emotional versions, and vice versa. Surely it is early to judge the extent to which this Zeitgeist of experimentation, exploration, tolerance and cross fertilization is David Hartman’s inspiration. There can be no arguing, however, that it is molded in his image.

 

The writer is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.

 

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YEMEN'S FORGOTTEN CHRISTIANS

Raymond Ibrahim

Gatestone Institute, Jan. 29, 2013

 

When one thinks of Yemen—the impoverished Arab country that begat Osama bin Laden, and is cushioned between Saudi Arabia and Somalia, two of the absolute most radical Muslim nations—one seldom thinks of Christians, primarily because they are practically nonexistent in such an inhospitable environment. Most tallies, in fact, suggest that Yemen's entire non-Muslim population is less than one percent.

 

A new Arabic report , however, discusses the existence of Christians in Yemen, and their plight—one that should be familiar by now, given the situation wherever Christian minorities live under Muslim majorities. Unofficial statistics suggest that there are some 2,500 indigenous Christians in the nation, practicing their faith underground even as hostile tribes surround them. According to human rights activist, Abdul Razzaq al-Azazi, "Christians in Yemen cannot practice their religion nor can they go to church freely. Society would work on having them enter Islam."

 

He added that, as in most Muslim countries, "the government does not permit the establishment of buildings or worship places without prior permission," pointing out that Roman Catholic officials, for example, are currently awaiting a decision from the government on whether they will be allowed to construct a building and be officially recognized by the government in Sana.

 

A convert to Christianity from Islam—an apostate from Islam whose life is forfeit and who naturally prefers to remain anonymous, going by the pseudonym, "Ibn Yemen" (Son of Yemen)—expressed his fear of increased pressure on Christians, especially since the "Islamists now represent the dominant political faction, following the Arab Spring and the protests that brought the fall of President Ali Abdullah Saleh." He added that even though the old regime "was not Islamist, Christians were still subjected to persecution and scrutiny by the police apparatus under that regime. Authorities did not allow us to practice our religion openly or allow us to build a private church, all because of Islam's apostasy law. What do you think it will be like now that the Islamists are in power?"

 

Accordingly, and as another Christian interviewed in Yemen indicated, Christians pray underground in the members' houses on a rotational basis—as in the days of Roman persecution of Christians, when the Christians worshipped underground in catacombs. Along with Yemen's indigenous Christians, there are also between 15,000 and 25,000 non-native Christians living in Yemen, mostly refugees from Somalia, Eritrea, and Ethiopia, where the persecution of Christians is often even worse than in Yemen, especially Somalia, where Al-Shabaab ("the Youth") behead Muslim apostates to Christianity on a regular basis. Such Christian refugees from Africa often change their names to Muslim names to avoid harassment in Yemeni society.

 

Some Christian organizations and institutions do exist, mostly foreign ones, including the American Baptist Mission, which runs Jibla Hospital and a Church which provides services to orphans, the poor, and imprisoned women. These organizations work primarily to serve the community, not to facilitate Christian worship. Another study confirmed the previous existence of five churches in the southern city of Aden, three of which were Roman Catholic, one Anglican, and the fifth of unidentified affiliation: three of those five churches, which were built during the British occupation of southern Yemen, were neglected and left to crumble; the fourth became the property of the government; and the fifth was turned into a health facility.

 

The story of Yemen's Christians seems like a microcosm of the story of the Middle East's Christians in how it conforms to the current pattern of oppression for Christians under Islam: things were better for Christians—for religious freedom in general—in earlier eras under Western influence. As the Muslim world, which for a while was Western-looking, continues turning East, to Islam, and as the demands of Sharia Law [The Way] return, so does hostility to non-Muslim worship and apostates—as the "Arab Spring" has brought about wherever Islamists have come to power.

 

    Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

 

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EGYPT’S ‘CHRISTIAN WINTER’

Brian C. Stiller
National Post, Feb 11, 2013

 

Sectarian domination was not what Egyptian protesters and self-described revolutionaries had in mind when they drove President Hosni Mubarak from office during Egypt’s Arab Spring in 2011. But to underestimate religious sectarianism in the Middle East is to misunderstand one of its core realities. After forcing out Mubarak and electing Mohamed Morsi last June, revolutionaries are back on the streets, this time with cries of “Leave, leave, Morsi.”

 

As I walked toward the presidential palace in Cairo after Friday prayers, now the centre of protest, I passed families, with children in tow, seemingly not wanting to miss the historic showdown between the power of the mob and police. Soon the festival-like atmosphere turned into Molotov tossing, police in riot gear lobbing tear gas, and in the end, a man shot in the head by the police.

 

Many factors have converged to create this ongoing backlash. The economy is in tatters: 25% of Egyptians live on $1 a day, while another 25% make $2 a day. There are 45 million Egyptians under 30, and 90% of them are unemployed., providing an ideal breeding ground for unrest and protest. European powers are reluctant to provide financial aid until the social unrest abates.

 

And yet, looming in the background of every public debate, is religion. The U.S. recently, and European powers historically, have to their discredit blinded their eyes to the fundamental nature of the Middle East. The pressure between the Islamic majority and the Christian minority, but long-established, other faiths is reaching a boiling point.

 

The Coptic Orthodox were in Egypt long before Islam arrived. Once one of the central branches of Christianity, today, the Coptic Church, along with evangelical Protestants, constitutes 15% of Egypt’s population. Yet it has been this group, especially the Coptic Orthodox, that have felt the heavy hand of Mubarak’s police (or their absence) when attacked by extremists. People have been fired or denied educations, or even harassed and killed, on the basis of their Christian faith, which they are required to declare on official government documents.

\

Christians and Muslim moderates had high hopes after Mubarak was ousted. They hoped for a modern, progressive Egypt. It hasn’t happened. Morsi stacked the committee to write the constitution with Muslim Brotherhood members and Salafists (fundamentalists) and rushed the draft to a referendum. Christians and moderates were dismayed to see the lack of meaningful protections of religious freedom. But the constitution passed.

 

I asked Dr. Sameh Maurice, minister of Al-Dubara Church next to Tahrir Square, where the revolution might lead and what Christians expected from the future. During the revolution he had opened his church as field hospital and centre for dialogue between moderate Muslims and Christians. He has since become a leader in Egypt’s Christian community.

 

He offered two possible scenarios. The first, of course, is that moderate forces win out and that Egypt’s religious minorities are allowed to live in peace. But the other seems more likely. “Many Christians in the rural area today are being persecuted,” Dr. Maurice told me. “Homes and fields and shops are being taken. In cities it is not that bad. But outside of them, Islamists take by violence and guns and the government does not protect Christians. If the Islamists take over fully, we expect persecution to move into the cities. The economy will collapse, people will starve.”

 

“If that comes, the church will go underground and be oppressed. If the [moderates prevail], we will bring truth and love to the people of Egypt. But we are working to prepare ourselves for either scenario.” Indeed. The Arab Spring has become a Christian Winter. Egypt faces an exodus of its Christian population similar to those that have already been seen in other Middle Eastern states in the grips of Islamist governments. This will be tragic for Egypt. Not only do Christians control almost a third of business, they are well educated, trained as professionals. They contribute greatly to Egypt’s economic and social well-being.

 

It will be a tragedy if Egypt’s Christians are forced to flee after 1,300 years of largely successful co-existence with their Muslim neighbours. And it will be a tragedy felt even by those who would drive them from their homes.

 

Brian C. Stiller is global ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance.

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A Day in the Tortured Life of Christians in the Middle East: Theodore Shoebat, Front Page Magazine, Feb. 13, 2013—Twenty churches have been destroyed, abandoned, or damaged, and one hundred Christians have been murdered, in Syria. This is only going to get more and more severe as Islamic fundamentalism continuously conquers the Middle East.

 

Christians – The Forgotten Victims of the Arab Spring: Ghaffar Hussain, The Commentator, Dec. 12,  2012—The world is increasingly realizing that the Arab Spring also has a dark under-belly. As well as ushering in nascent and fragile democracies, popular uprisings in the MENA (Middle East, Europe, North Africa) region have unleashed previously suppressed reactionary forces.

 

Muslim Persecution of Christians: December, 2012: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, February 6, 2013—As usual, the month of Christmas saw an uptick in Christian persecution under Islam, in a variety of forms, from insults to murders. 

 

 

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Ber Lazarus, Publications Editor, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org