The Essence of Senator Rand Paul in Ten Minutes

This video provides a glimpse of the essence of Senator Rand Paul (R-KY): Filibuster, NSA Surveillance, IRS Scandal, Benghazi and Syria Hearings, Foreign Affairs, Balanced Budget Amendment, Economic Freedom Zones, Defund Obamacare and Individual Liberties.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/vKWBh35aHtc[/youtube]

The Growing Missile Threat to Israel

Dr. Ronen Bergman, intelligence and military columnist for Israeli daily Yediot Ahronoth confirmed, Wall Street Journal reports that Syria and Iran’s Qod’s Force may have successfully disassembled and  transferred  to Hezbollah 12 Russian Yakhont anti- ship cruise missiles. See New York Times article, “Hezbollah Moving Long-Range Missiles From Syria to Lebanon, an Analyst Says”.

This despite the IAF five attacks conducted against Syria facilities and supply trains in 2013 using advanced missiles fired on targets from Lebanese airspace. The IAF attacks reported to have destroyed a shipment of  advanced mobile air defense  Russian SA-17’s in January 2013, Iranian Fateh-110 surface to surface missiles in May and  a shipment of  Russian Yakhont missiles in July. Further, according to the New York Times account, Bergman said:

Hezbollah, which is also Lebanon’s strongest political party, has a network of bases that were built inside Syria, near the border with Lebanon, to give the group strategic depth and to store the missiles, Mr. Bergman said. But with a nearly three-year insurgency threatening President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, an ally of Hezbollah, keeping the missiles in Syria is no longer as secure, Mr. Bergman said.

The missiles being moved, he said, include Scud D’s, shorter-range Scud C’s, medium-range Fateh rockets that were made in Iran, Fajr rockets and antiaircraft weapons that are fired from the shoulder.

Bergman also noted the comments of former Mossad head, Meir Dagan about Hezbollah bases in Syria during the Second Lebanon War in 2006:

 Meir Dagan, advised the government not to start an attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon without first hitting the militia’s bases in Syria, which were built on the strategy that Israel would not dare to strike Syria. The bases were believed to contain much of Hezbollah’s long-range missile capability,

The Wall Street Journal report,  “Hezbollah Upgrades Missile Threat to Israel” noted the potential game changer on Israel’s strategy to counter this missile threat on its doorstep:

Hezbollah already has around 100,000 rockets, according to Israeli intelligence estimates, but those are primarily unguided weapons that are less accurate. Its longer-range rockets are spread across Lebanon, meaning Israel’s next air campaign—should one come—would have to be broad, Israeli officials have told their U.S. counterparts, according to American officials in the meetings.

Hezbollah’s possession of guided-missile systems would make such an air campaign far riskier.

Current and former U.S. officials say Iran’s elite Quds Force has been directly overseeing the shipments to Hezbollah warehouses in Syria. These officials say some of the guided missiles would allow Hezbollah to defend its strongholds in Lebanon, including Beirut, and attack Israeli planes and ground targets from regime-controlled territory in Syria.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system can intercept and destroy short-range rockets. Its Arrow missile-defense system can intercept the sort of long-range ballistic missiles Iran possesses. A third system the Israelis are developing to deal with mid range guided missiles, called David’s Sling, won’t be operational until 2015 at the earliest.

                                 Arrow Anti-Missile System

Coincidentally, Israel completed another successful test of the  Arrow III anti-Missile system over the Mediterranean today. The Arrow III is a joint development of Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Boeing. According to a Defense News, article,  “US-Israel Arrow-3 Marks Milestone Test”, “ IAI also provides the Super Green Pine fire control radar, while Elbit’s Tadiran provides the system’s battle management control center.” Defense News  further reported:

The US-Israel Arrow-3 upper tier intercepting missile passed another developmental milestone with a successful exo-atmospheric maneuvering flight after launch over the Mediterranean Sea on Friday.

In a joint statement, Israel’s Defense Ministry and the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency said the Arrow-3 “successfully launched and flew an exo-atmospheric trajectory through space, according to the test plan.”

The fly-out of the two-stage, hit-to-kill missile marked the second in a series of developmental milestones aimed at readying the system for a full-up intercept test in early 2015. It follows a successful maiden flight in February 2013.

Planned for initial fielding in late 2015 or early 2016, Arrow-3 is designed as Israel’s first line of defense against emerging threats from Iran. Supported by the samefire control radar and battle management systems developed for Israel’s operational Arrow-2, the smaller and much more agile Arrow-3 aims to destroy advanced, maneuvering, unconventionally tipped Shahab-class missiles in space before they re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

Hezbollah with upwards of  80,000 rockets and missiles would be a formidable threat for Israel to reduce to assure that its rocket and missile  defense umbrella can safeguard its population should it elect to undertake a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. This is presuming no final agreement is reached with Iran under the current P5+1 interim agreement.  Moreover, a recently introduced bi-partisan US Senate bill, the Nuclear  Weapons Free Iran Act directed at prodding  Iran to reach an agreement  may be posed for action when Congress returns from its holiday recess. Given Iran’s addition of so-called hard liners to the Islamic regime’s negotiating team, the prospects for achievement of a definitive agreement  quickly seized upon by Obama Administration could be illusory.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

“Electronic Army Of the Caucasus Emirate” threatens Cyber War against Russia

On December 27, 2013, the website posted a video titled “Appeal by the Anonymous Caucasus #OpPayBackForSotchi2014.” The “Anonymous Caucasus” describes itself as the “electronic army of the Caucasus Emirate” and has a website and accounts on Twitter and Facebook. In this video it warns the Russian government to stop its “activities” in Sochi (presumably the preparations for the Winter Olympics), otherwise the group will launch a cyber war against it in retaliation for the “Circassian genocide” of 1864,” reports MEMRI.

The video, which is two minutes and 31 seconds in duration, shows still images of signs in English that read: “Putin, don’t build your credibility on Circassian graves”; “Sochi 2014 – the hidden genocide”; “You’ll be skiing on the mass graves”; “2014 Sochi Olympic winter games – Circassian genocide 150 anniversary”.

The message is delivered by an unseen announcer. The following are excerpts:

“Our message is addressed to the government of the Russian Federation and to all the supporters of the [Winter] Olympics in Sochi. You are spending millions of dollars to organize these games on the land of the Circassians, on the land where their entire people was cruelly annihilated, on the land of the 1864 genocide… 150 years have passed, but Russia has not recognized the genocide of the Circassian people, and continues to ignore the people who live on this land. But now Anonymous Caucasus has decided to carry out a new operation called “Pay Back For Sochi.” We will launch the largest cyber war [that ever was] against the Russian government.

You will pay for [the genocide]. You crossed the line of inhumanity by wanting to hold your games on the land of our ancestors. Our army is now stronger than it was yesterday and [even] a minute ago, and our activity will increase. We support all the peoples of the Caucasus [in the struggle] against our enemy and enemy of Islam – [namely] Russia. Stop your activities in the Sochi region and we will stop ours… [If you don’t], we will attack you, we will destroy you. We will get our own way and you will not stop us. We are the Anonymous Caucasus. We neither forgive nor forget…”

Read more here.

EDITORS NOTE: In the mid-19th century large numbers of Circassians were expelled from the northwest Caucasus following the Russian conquest of the area. An unknown number of deportees died during the expulsions.

The Drones are Coming!

The FAA has announced six sites for advanced unmanned aerial vehicle testing. The accepted proposals come from various universities, state governments and airports. “The FAA considered geography, climate, location of ground infrastructure, research needs, airspace use, safety, aviation experience and risk,” the agency said in a release.

Popular Mechanics reports, “Many locations were vying for a test site, seeing it as an immediate jobs generator and a foothold into the growing field of drones. Congress in 2012 ordered the FAA to open the National Airspace System (NAS) to unmanned aircraft. The law sets a deadline of 2015 for the FAA to create regulations and technical requirements that will integrate drones into the NAS. The test sites are part of that effort.”

The winners are the University of Alaska, the state of Nevada, New York’s Griffiss International Airport, the North Dakota Chamber of Commerce, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and Virginia Tech.

The drones are coming. Here’s Popular Mechanic’s writeup on what that future will look like.

An American Bride in Kabul: My Life in Hell in an Afghan Harem

Want to know what it is like to live as a non-Muslim woman under Islamic gender apartheid? Dr. Phyllis Chesler, noted feminist author and defender of universal women’s rights, experienced sharia first hand during a brief marriage to an Afghan Muslim husband and troubled sojourn in Kabul, Afghanistan. During this time she was a virtual prisoner in purdah, the women’s enclosure, in a polygamous household of a wealthy prominent family. For Chesler this was a defining moment in her subsequent professional career which was largely motivated by her flight from the failed fantasies of a brief marriage to an Afghan college classmate, Abdul Kareem. Her virtual imprisonment, administered by her Afghan mother-in-law intent on either converting or killing her is described in chilling detail in her latest book, An American Bride in Kabul: A Memoir.

This reviewer had first heard the elements of this memoir over a decade ago from the author. Like many others who had we urged her to record this fascinating encounter with Islamic gender apartheid that had endangered her life in Afghanistan. Chesler subsequently wrote limited treatments of the episode in a chapter her book, The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom and a Middle East Quarterly article in 2006, “How Afghan Captivity Shaped my Feminism.”

Dr. Phyllis Chesler

Five decades ago as a naïve young scholarship student at an elite northeastern college Chesler succumbed to bohemian fantasies and enticements of traveling the world when she married the “debonair, dapper” scion of a wealthy Afghan family, Abdul Kareem. There could not have been an odder misalliance. Chesler, raised in Brooklyn, came from an Orthodox Jewish background. Abdul Kareem was allegedly a non-practicing Muslim from the exotic Central Asian country of Afghanistan who had been sent abroad by his wealthy family for a decade of education in private schools and colleges in the West.

Afghanistan was and still is one of the poorest countries in Asia, despite having vast stores of undeveloped minerals and oil reserves. Under Islamic rule since the 14th Century Afghanistan’s women were largely uneducated and had virtually no rights under a patriarchal system. Only privileged sons of the wealthy were educated and sent abroad.

In the company of other Afghan companions in New York, Abdul Kareem plied Chesler with the piquant cuisine of his homeland and visions of world travel and grand adventures. After a civil marriage, the bridal couple took off bound east by ship, first to London and Paris, then flying from Munich to Tehran to Kabul for what Chesler thought would be a brief stop to visit her husband’s family compound. Kabul, the ancient capital of Afghanistan is nestled 6000 feet up in a valley surrounded by the snow-capped mountain ranges of the Hindu Kush and the Pamirs.

Upon arrival at Kabul airport, Chesler’s passport was “smoothly” taken away from her by an Afghan immigration official as she was now an Afghan national. Greeted by an entourage of her extended Afghan in-laws at the airport and whisked off to enter a palatial complex. She  immediately entered purdah the women’s enclosure occupied by her father-in-law’s three wives and 23 children under the control his first wife, Bebgul. Chesler’s husband, Abdul Kareem, succumbs to the patriarchy of his father and virtually disappears, disdaining her complaints about her sudden lack of freedom. Her bohemian fantasies had evaporated. She experiences the slave-like treatment of a household servant, denied of her personal liberties. Public male homosexuality was evident in the slavery of Afghan “dancing boys.” She was continually frustrated by US Embassy officials who offer no assistance in helping her to return to America, as she is considered an Afghan national. Instead a Marine detail accompanies her back to the family compound. Starving from lack of adequately prepared food, ill with hepatitis from contaminated water, pregnant with Abdul Kareem’s unborn child, Chesler, in desperation, confronts Ismail Mohammed, the family patriarch and Afghan bank magnate. He relents to her request delivering an Afghan exit passport and a ticket on an Aeroflot flight that, takes her home via, Tashkent, Moscow and Copenhagen. Upon arrival at Idlewild, now JFK airport, she calls her overjoyed parents who retrieve her. With the assistance of her parents and a battery of lawyers, Chesler eventually succeeds in obtaining an annulment of her marriage to Abdul Kareem and her US citizenship is renewed. He continuously entreats and badgers her with correspondence to come home. Because of her illness and lack of medical attention in Afghanistan Chesler loses their unborn child in a miscarriage. If that hadn’t occurred, then the child of that union would have been declared a Muslim under sharia and custody sought by Abdul Kareem. Three years following her return, an annulment is successfully granted in 1964. One phase of her life is ended. A decade of education and development of a psychoanalytical practice and specialization in women issues ensues.

American Bride also tells the story of another flight in the late 1970’s to freedom by her former Afghan husband and his family and the 25 year relation with his second wife, as new Americans living in New Jersey. He escapes to Pakistan from the draconian Soviet era occupation of Afghanistan as a former deputy cultural minister by masquerading as a peasant with the aid of smugglers. Chesler reports on dialogues and interviews with him. On those occasions he expresses denial of sharia restrictions on the freedom and rights of Muslim women. He disavows secularism in the Islamic world reflected in the lapsed Kemalism of Turkey. He criticizes the US for not having come to the aid of Afghanistan refugees but rejects continued US presence there. There is his unfortunate expression of anti-Semitism reflected in his “money grubbing Jews” comparison to charges of Ottoman Genocide of Armenians during WWI. That is also reflected in the Anti-Israelism expressed by the couple’s two children on the Palestinian questions. This is in contrast with the ironic bonding of Chesler with his second wife, Kamile, an accomplished professional who had escaped purdah in Afghanistan. In the company of Chesler, she met international Muslim and ex-Muslim women activists. In the quarter century of renewed relations between Chesler and her former husband and his second family they share frequent conversations, meals and are invited guests at Chesler’s son Ariel’s wedding.

Chesler’s research for her memoir uncovers the history of Afghan royalty and the constant internecine   murders over several hundred years producing violent changes in succession. She cites the example of an Afghan king, Amanullah who l survived only to be exiled to live out his days in Rome. In 1928, he urged Afghan women to remove their veils, “condoned shooting of interfering husbands” and was reported to have spotted and torn off a burqa and burned it. He went further and advocated co-education. That reform episode didn’t last long. Afghan tribes rebelled and forced Amanullah into exile in Rome in January 1929. Chesler notes in her book her encounter with a number of Germans in Kabul. In the 20th century, German advisers and companies entered Afghanistan to engage in development of the country’s rail system. In the 1930’s with the onset of the Hitler era, Nazi influences were encouraged under Royal auspices. This paralled with Chesler own research into the 2000 year history and archeology of Afghan Jewry stemming from encounters with the émigré Afghan Jewish community in New York City. Through those encounters Chesler makes the startling discovery that Nazi influence on Afghan royalty in the 1930’s and 1940’s may have led to her Afghan father-in-law’s banking fortune from a forced takeover of an Afghan Jewish bank headquartered in Herat. Chesler also reveals for the first time that as a result of her Afghan mother-in-law’s ruthless intentions in purdah that she may have committed the Muslim shahada, profession of faith and become an inadvertent convert to Islam.

Threading through her memoir are references to similar experiences of foreign wives of Afghans and Middle East Muslims some of whom who have lost custody of children, while others have, like her, successfully escaped. Perhaps the worst instances have been American wives of Saudi husbands who have kidnapped offspring of these marriages forcing the daughters into purdah in the Saudi kingdom, subject to arranged marriages to clan cousins. View this Power Point presentation on “America’s Stolen Children,” here. Chesler suggests the Afghan experience described in her memoir triggered her career as a feminist and psychoanalyst. It is also evident in her recent activism as an expert witness in custody battles and honor shame episodes under sharia in US court proceedings involving Muslim women plaintiffs. She also believes that the Afghan episode as a young woman enabled her to understand the patriarchal clan structure that deprived Muslim women of basic freedoms and civil rights placing them in thralldom behind what she calls the “isolation and sensory deprivation chamber and mobile body bag environment” of the burqa. She now advocates the burqa should be banned.

On the afternoon of 9/11 Chesler remarked to German correspondent for Der Spiegel, who was a neighbor in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn, “now we are all Israelis.” That was reference that Americans, like Israelis, were no longer safe in their own countries. Those Israel civilians had suffered egregious casualties from suicide bombings and Intifadas, and more recently rocket attacks by Islamic terrorists surrounding the Jewish nation. In this 9/11 discussion she expressed the irony that Islamic terrorism on 9/11 was perpetrated by 19 young and well educated Egyptian, Saudi and Yemeni men. They were indoctrinated as jihadis by the reclusive late Osama bin Laden from his base in Afghanistan living under the protection of Taliban leader Omar Mohammed. The Taliban who had viciously and violently deprived Afghan women and children of basic human rights even resorting to disfigurement, execution, rape and death. She notes:

These jihadists viewed the West and Western values as repulsive and dangerous. They despised the idea of human and individual rights, free speech, religious freedom, separation of state and religion, women’s rights, gay rights and a host of other rights and privileges.

Chesler noting one American intellectual saying the 19 jihadis were blameless for perpetrating the holocaust on 9/11 in lower Manhattan writing:

She was among those who swiftly demonized anyone who dared say that Muslim Islamists had launched a war. Anyone who criticized Islamist terrorism was a “racist conservative” and an Islamophobe…a label applied to ex-Muslim dissidents like Somali–born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ibn Warraq, Egyptian-born Nonie Darwish and the Syrian Americans Dr. Wafa Sultan and Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser.

At the conclusion of a chapter on American concerns for the plight of Afghan women and discussion of honor killings, she poses two rhetorical questions about the hard lessons drawn from her memoir:

Is my unexpected captivity in Kabul something of a cautionary tale about what can happen to any Westerner who believes she can enjoy a Western or modern life in a Muslim country?

In terms of Afghanistan: Can a tribal, religious, impoverished, corrupt people, beaten down by war and without an industrial infrastructure; a county with a strong warrior and anti-infidel tradition; a country theologically and geographically vulnerable to al-Qaeda and other Islamist groups become modern and Western?

A partial answer comes in her final chapter, Hard Lessons, when she says:

We cannot rescue every woman in Afghanistan or stem the tide of Islamist violence against civilians everywhere, not only in Afghanistan, without defeating the Islamists, ideologically, economically and militarily.

Honor–related violence and gender apartheid are human rights violations and cannot be justified in the name of cultural relativism, tolerance, antiracism, diversity, religious custom or political correctness. The battle for women’s rights is central to the battle for a Judeo-Christian, post-Enlightenment civilization.

At the conclusion of Mozart’s opera The Abduction from a Seraglio, about the rescue of another damsel in distress, the Turkish Pasha Selim instead of sentencing the captives to death forgives and frees them to live.

We submit that Chesler’s brief sojourn and flight from an Afghan seraglio facilitated by her pasha, her father-in-law, resulted in her freedom and a life of commitment to the universal and natural rights of all women.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Benghazi: The New York Times, Hillary and Obama’s War against Sean Smith’s Mother

In a shameless glaring act of hypocrisy to rehabilitate Hillary Clinton’s presidential aspirations, the New York Times published an article doubling down on the Obama Administration’s lie that the attack on our consulate in Benghazi was due to an anti-Islam video

Meanwhile, the New York Times, Hillary and President Obama have displayed a “Pat who” attitude towards Pat Smith, the mother of Sean Smith who was killed in the Benghazi attack on Hillary’s watch as Secretary of State.

What makes the attitudes of these superior, arrogant and pompous liberals so hard to stomach is that they falsely portray themselves as champions of women.

In reality, the NYT, Hillary and Obama consider American lives acceptable collateral damage in furthering their socialist/progressive agenda. Obama’s vowed fundamental transformation of America.

Thus, the Administration stonewalling by refusing to release facts about what led to the death of Pat Smith’s son in Benghazi is par for the course – mere collateral damage.

Over a year ago, Hillary looked Pat Smith in the eye and lied to her face.  So much for Hillary’s commitment to the sisterhood. Obama promised Pat Smith answers regarding her son’s death. Pat is still waiting for answers about what happened.  But then, what else could you expect from a president recently awarded Liar of the Year?

Yes, liberals like the NYT, Hillary and Obama only give a rat’s derriere about liberal women that they can exploit to further their liberal agenda. Cindy Sheehan was a liberal darling until she could no longer further their cause. Then, Sheehan was thrown away on their pile of broken lives and dreams sacrificed for their agenda.

These people, NYT, Hillary and Obama are always railing about their phony bologna made-up GOP War on Women, all the while displaying a callous cold disregard for Pat Smith who has been simply seeking the truth about the greatest loss of her life. Thus, the NYT, Hillary and Obama are guilty of launching a war on a mom, Pat Smith.

Ms Smith, I am confident I speak for millions of Americans. We are deeply sorry for the loss of Sean, your brave son. Our prayers and support are with you. May God bless you and your family.

RELATED COLUMN: Obama admin bungled Benghazi, could have prevented attack: report

“New” Details on the Battle of Benghazi

One year and nearly four months after the Battle of Benghazi in Libya on 9/11/12 the American people still do not know:

Why Hillary Clinton cancelled the contract for the Ambassador Steven’s personal security detail and refused to fund a new contract?

Why 8 desperate request for additional security to Clinton by the Ambassador Stevens from March to September 3rd was turned down by Hillary Clinton?

Why Ambassador Stevens was sent into the Al Q’ieda terrorist caldron in Benghazi on the most dangerous day of the year without proper security?

Why the live video feed of the attack taken by aerial drones and cameras on the walls of the US Mission was withheld by Hillary Clinton, and are still being withheld by Obama & Kerry? Those videos will prove there was never a demonstration against a YouTube video.

Why Susan Rice went on 5 Sunday TV Talk Shows and falsely stated the attack by 125 to 150 Al Q’ieda terrorist in a well-coordinated commando style well-rehearsed military attack employing truck mounted artillery, mortars, RPGs, NATO Assault rifles, hand grenades, machine guns, and rifles against the US Mission was the result of a demonstration against a YouTube video that went bad? People do not go to a peaceful demonstration with all those weapons.

Why 2 weeks after all US Intelligence agencies informed Obama that the attack on the US Mission was by 125 to 150 Al Q’ieda Terrorists, Obama made a speech to the world at the UN, and restated the Susan Rice’s falsehood that the attack against the US Mission on 9/11/12 was the result of a demonstration against a YouTube video that went bad?

Why 32 US witnesses who were on the ground during the attack and were saved by two Navy SEALs, have been muzzled by Obama and Clinton, and threatened by their supervisors with the loss of their retirement benefits and possible prosecution, if they testified before Congress, for revealing classified information.

Former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mullen was appointed by Obama as the Vice Chairman of the Accountability Review Board (ARB), to investigate what transpired in Benghazi on 9/11/2012, when the US Mission and the CIA Annex came under attack. Mullen’s ARB Report eliminated the fact, that Obama’s failure to issue “Cross Border Authority” prevented the Pentagon from being able to dispatch a military rescue missions. Mullen’s ARB Report also eliminated the fact that there were military assets on the tarmac ready for deployment, approximately 90 minutes to 2 hours away from Benghazi, in Sigonella & Aviona (480 miles away), Italy, and West Africa, and that Obama’s failure to authorize “Cross Border Authority” resulted in the death of two Navy SEALs who were killed 7 hours and 31 minutes after the attack was initiated on the US Mission by Al Q’ieda . Eliminating those facts from the ARB Report by Mullen, perpetrated the cover up what many members in the US Armed Forces, many Veterans Groups, and many members of Congress believe was Obama’s “Dereliction of Duty.”

Why the New York Times, continues to perpetrate the cover up, by its publication of a false story full of untruths written by David D. Kirkpatrick on December 28, 2013 about the Battle of Benghazi. That story tried to give Obama and Hillary Clinton cover by blurring the well known facts previously presented by Democrats members of the US House Intelligence Committee, presented to Congress and Obama by multiple US Intelligence Agencies, released to the world in many reports by foreign Intelligence Agencies, testified to in recent sworn testimony by American witnesses who were on the ground in Benghazi who witnessed the attack, and documented in the aerial videos taken for 8 hours during the attack that Obama refuses to release.

If you click on the below listed link you will be able to listen to the audio recording of a speech given by Capt John at the Bali Hai on Shelter Island in San Diego on December 16, 2013 at the annual Christmas meeting of the non-partisan Women Volunteers In Politics organization, revealing new details on the Battle of Benghazi testified to by witnesses who watched the attack in Benghazi, in their recent Congressional testimony

Click here to listen to the audio of my remarks.

RELATED COLUMN: Why NY Times Lied about Benghazi

Dr. Phyllis Chesler an American Feminist Fighting Sharia

In December 2003 we organized a summit with noted counter-Jihadists at a private university club in Manhattan. We were endeavoring to develop a concerted campaign in America to warn about the threat of Qur’anic doctrine and sharia to Constitutional guarantees of free expression, liberty and freedom. We had assembled notable figures from both academic and non-academic research sources to attend the conference. Among the attendees was Dr. Phyllis Chesler, noted radical feminist, author of bestselling books and peer–reviewed journal articles, groundbreaking pioneer in the fields of women’s studies and founder of the Women’s Psychology Association.

When we made our initial acquaintance with her, we also learned of what had propelled her doctoral studies in these fields. She had been virtually imprisoned under the Islamic law in purdah, a women’s enclosure, in a polygamous household in Kabul, Afghanistan with her US passport taken away. All because she had married a man whom she thought was a young bohemian like herself at a private college in the US who came from a privileged Afghan family. Her marriage to her Afghan Muslim husband culminated a tempestuous relationship between a young scholarship student from an Orthodox Jewish background and the debonair attractive young Muslim man who shared her un-orthodox views.  Her marriage to her Afghan Muslim came at a time in the early 1960’s when cross cultural encounters were both exotic and yet politically correct. That fantasy ended upon her arrival at Kabul Airport with the taking of her US passport and abrupt introduction to Medieval 10th Century purdah in her husband’s Afghan household. Her debonair husband abandoned her in the women’s enclosure controlled by her Afghan mother-in-law who sought to convert her from Judaism to Islam. She subjugated Chesler to totalitarian control of her person under Islamic sharia law in violation of universal human rights.

Chesler’s subsequent illness, flight back to America, and annulment of her marriage to her Afghan husband led to her professional pursuit of an academic program in feminism and advocacy of changes in women civil rights and equality. Her 1972 landmark best seller, Women and Madness capped her research and women’s psychoanalytic practice, becoming an iconic work in 20thCentury American feminism. She also went on to deepen her appreciation of Judaism and to fight for female equality in worship, Torah and Talmud study against the strictures of Orthodox Judaism. Her deepening involvement in her Jewish faith, including a second marriage (and divorce) with an Israeli and birth of her son Ariel, crystallized in another pioneering work in 2003,The New Antisemitism. That book drew groundbreaking attention to delegitimization and demonization of Israel and the Jewish people by leftists and Palestinian advocates. Her views expressed in The New Antisemitismhave grown in importance given contemporary compelling research on European and Islamic Antisemitism. Views that belatedly have been recognized by both American and World Jewish leadership.  You can view Chester’s oeuvre of published works and scheduled appearances in 2014 at her website, here.

At the December 2003 private conference many of us in the emerging counter-jihad activist community heard her discuss Islam as a system of gender apartheid under sharia knowing that she had directly confronted it. We urged her to take the time out of her feminist endeavors and write about the experience. She subsequently did in a chapter her book, The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom and a Middle East Quarterly article in 2006, “How Afghan Captivity Shaped my Feminism.” That is a reflection of the long lasting support of Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum where she made been made a Fellow. That exposure drew her into conflict with many leaders in the US and world feminist movement who took multi-cultural relativism as an article of faith that conflicted with what Chesler contended was the imperative of universal civil liberties in the face of Islamic anti-Western triumphalism.

Chesler’s academic research also extends to honor killing, female genital mutilation  and support for banning the burqa under doctrinal Islam. As a result she has been much sought after to provide expert testimony in court matters involving Muslim women in such matters. In a recent Fox News op ed, “Beneath Burqa-Bruised and Badly Beaten Teenager”, about a  recent violent occurrence reported in The New Zealand Herald she drew attention to  the precursors to violence committed against Muslim women. Using the extreme example of quadruple honor killings of a polygamous Muslim family committed by the convicted Afghan Canadian Shafia family, she drew attention to the moral equivalence of “omerta” in Muslim families. Chesler said “that sustained physical abuse and psychological cruelty often precedes or is correlated with a subsequent honor killing.” In the case of the savage beating of the Muslim teenager in New Zealand, hidden from public view by a burqa, Chesler commented that the police became aware that “members of the community in positions of power and trust knew that the abuse was serious but did not help the girl.” Given the increasing evidence of cases of FGM committed in the US by African and Muslim émigré families, legislators in more than 21 states have introduced legislation seeking tougher sentencing guidelines despite existing federal law that prohibits the horrendous procedure.

Praise for her work in these latest efforts for women and freedom from Islamic totalitarianism is reflected in  her abiding friendship with two noted former Muslims, Sudanese former Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel and Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations and our NER colleague, Ibn Warraq, author of critical works on Islam, including Why the West is Best: A Muslim Apostate’s Defense of Liberal Democracy.

Chesler has maintained communications with her former Afghan Muslim husband despite their divorce. Five decades following her escape from Kabul she completed the long suggested a memoir of her confrontation with an Islamic household ruled by sharia, An American Bride in Kabul. Read our review of Chester’s latest book in the current edition of the New English Review. 

We recently were afforded the opportunity to renew acquaintances and interview Dr. Chesler about her Afghan memoir, professional career as a psychoanalyst in women’s health, commitment to Jewish women’s equality and her advocacy and expert testimony against Islamic doctrinal denial of women’s rights to their physical person, liberty and freedom.

Jerry Gordon:  Dr Chesler thank you for consenting to this interview.

Phyllis Chesler:  Thank you for inviting me.

Gordon:  What prompted you to write, An American Bride in Kabul?

Chesler:  Afghanistan and its people seem to have followed me into the future and right into the West. Islamic burqas are here in America, on the streets and in the headlines. One reads about Afghanistan daily in most major newspapers. This is the country where I was once held hostage; it is the country which sheltered Bin Laden after he was exiled from Saudi Arabia and Sudan. He hatched his 9/11 plot in an Afghan cave. And now, the entire civilian world is being held hostage by Al Qaeda and Al-Qaeda-like Jihadists. An eerie coincidence. Also, in my lifetime, Afghanistan has also literally turned into a Margaret Atwood dystopian novel—even darker and more misogynistic than The Handmaid’s Tale. Given the increasing persecution and subordination of Muslim women, I decided to connect my five long months in purdah to the surreal lives of Afghan and Muslim women today, including in the West.

The Al Aqsa Intifada of 2000 and 9/11 also changed the direction this book would take. How could I write about Afghanistan and Muslim women without also writing about Jihadic terrorism and its war against civilians, both infidel and Muslim, and against both Israel and the West?

Gordon:  What was seductive about Afghan reformist Abdul-Kareem during your courtship at college that led to your marriage as an Orthodox Jewish woman to a Muslim man?

Chesler:  I was a naïve eighteen year old, a full scholarship kid at a private college and there he was—dapper, charming, debonair, a Prince right out of my childhood fairy tales, a fellow bohemian, as secular as I had become, and so very attentive. In retrospect, he was shadowing me, monitoring me, but at the time, I was flattered and thought it meant that he loved me very much. We never discussed religion. In 1959, there were no college courses about Islam or about Islam’s historic imperialism, colonialism, conversion by the sword, and slavery. I thought Jews and Muslims were both “other” in America and therefore somehow similar. He promised me a Grand Adventure the likes of which only wealthy, mainly British travelers had experienced: Time in a place that was once the cross-roads of the known world. Also, just perhaps, like so many other Jewish dreamers, I also yearned for a mystical union between Isaac and Ishmael. Thus, I married Ishmael.

Gordon:  What happened when you reached Kabul and entered your Afghan husband’s polygamous household?

Chesler:  When we landed in Kabul, officials smoothly removed my American passport—pro forma for all foreign brides. I never saw that passport again. Suddenly, I was the citizen of no country and had no rights. I had become the property of a polygamous Afghan family and was expected to live with my mother-in-law and other female relatives in purdah. That means that I was not allowed out without a male escort, a male driver, and a female relative as chaperones. I had expected a life of travel and adventure but this marriage had transported me back to the tenth century and trapped me there without a passport back to the future.

Gordon:  Describe for us how purdah, sharia treatment of women, subjugated your freedom in your Afghan husband’s household?

Chesler:  I lived gender apartheid long before the Taliban or the war lords arose. My Afghan husband was not religious but his family was and so was the country he had not lived in for more than a decade. My mother-in-law kept trying to convert me to Islam. Polygamy was accepted. Half-brothers jockeyed and competed for their father’s attention and inheritance. Although the women had been unveiled by King Zahir Shah in 1958, the poor women of Kabul and the women in the provinces wore burqas or hid from stranger-men behind long veils. Everyone’s marriage was arranged, traditionally to a first cousin, but not necessarily. There were no “love matches” which were viewed as a filthy Western idea. I was a prisoner in fairly post purdah. I could not go out alone, without permission, a male escort, and a female relative to chaperone me. No one but me found any of this abnormal or horrifying.

Gordon:  How much of the denial of basic freedoms in what you witnessed in Kabul was tribal versus emblematic of Islamic sharia treatment of women?

Chesler:  Women were not the only ones who lived under royal Afghan tyranny and a much closed society. Male political dissent was punished; any man who could not manage his wife was in trouble and got his family in trouble. My Afghan husband had brought an infidel, Jewish, American woman to Kabul as his bride. He was already in trouble. The jails in Afghanistan were always filled with political dissidents, “Western” oriented dreamers and thinkers who were tortured and locked away for years. Once, long ago, Afghanistan was pagan, Buddhist, Zoroastrian, Hindu, even Jewish—but that all ended with the Arab conquest and the forcible conversion of the people to Islam. It is sometimes hard to say that Islam versus tribal culture and tradition are responsible for what we view as human rights violations and atrocities. Let’s just say that any indigenous barbarism or tribal customs that existed in Afghanistan pre-Islam was not tempered or abolished by Islam. In some cases, for example, the stoning of an alleged adulteress/rape victims, the persecution of religious minorities, polygamy, cross-amputations, rote recitation of the Qu’ran in Arabic without comprehension, physical punishment of children by mullah-teachers, etc. is very much a part of Sharia practices.

Gordon:  How did the experience and flight from Kabul impact on your lifelong pursuit of feminism and women’s rights?

Chesler:  I believe my feminism was forged in purdah in Kabul. That experience may also explain why I am not a cultural relativist and why I believe in universal human rights. Even if we cannot guarantee such rights in a Muslim country, we can do so for everyone who lives here in the West and in North America. I am not one of those academics who believe that it is a woman’s religious right to choose to wear a face veil (niqab) or burqa (ambulatory body bag/sensory deprivation isolation chamber). I also understood that while American women may be discriminated against economically, politically, legally, and in terms of physical and sexual violence, that we have the right to fight for our rights, without being stoned or be-headed; we have free public libraries, access to education and employment, we are not forced into arranged marriages. Thus, I always understood that America, despite all its flaws, is the best country in the world, not the worst.

Gordon:  When did you return to the study and observance of Judaism and what place does Jewish feminism have in gender equality?

Chesler:  I have always been a proud Jew. I helped create feminist Jewish rituals (Passover Sedarim, etc.) and stood against anti-Semitism starting in the early 1970s. But, when I prayed with the Original Women of the Wall for the first time in 1988, I was asked to open the Torah for the women for the first-time ever. It wedded me fatefully to this struggle which is now in its 26th year. I began to study Torah. I joined synagogues, both Conservative and Orthodox. I published a book with my chevrutah (Torah study partner), Rivka Haut, who is a serious Talmud scholar, about this legendary struggle. Recently, alas, this struggle has now been fatefully compromised by a group we call The Women of Robinson’s Arch, led by Anat Hoffman, the very woman who defamed Israel all over the United States for the last decade. I never used this injustice against Jewish women’s religious rights at the Kotel against Israel in the world media. Actually, come to think about it, if we were waging such a struggle in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan, or Afghanistan we would all have been stoned to death a long time ago. I publish devrai Torah which may be found at my website under Judaism. Feminism born in the secular world has been used by religious Jewish feminists who have become rabbis, cantors, and Torah scholars—which is rather revolutionary.

Gordon:  What was your career path subsequent to you return to America that transformed you into a pioneering academic in women’s studies and later co-founder of the Association of Women in Psychology?

Chesler:  I returned to complete my last semester at college, spent nearly three years fighting my Afghan husband for a divorce, something he opposed, entered graduate school in psychology, and got a Ph.D in 1969. I was also active in the American civil rights movement and became a leader in the American feminist movement. My first book, Women and Madness(1972) became a classic work and a bestseller. I would say that this work has possibly changed the mental health professions and their clients by at least 20-25%. Thus, sexism remains in the diagnosis and treatment of both genders. But 25% is still something

Gordon:  In Sacred Bond: The Case of Baby M (1988) you championed the rights of a surrogate birth mother in a New Jersey case and subsequent law. What were your arguments and the opposing views of liberal feminists?

Chesler:  I had published With Child. A Diary of Motherhood (1979) and Mothers on Trial. The Battle for Children and Custody, (1986) which I expanded and updated in 2011. I saw the Baby M case as a new and more terrifying kind of custody battle which it was. Many liberal feminists, themselves or their daughters wrestling with infertility problems, wanted this option if needed, especially since adoption is so perilous an undertaking in terms of bureaucratic red tape and other problems. Also, such feminists were ambivalent about biological motherhood and truly believed that if a woman—any woman—broke a contract that this would be used against all women in terms of women changing their minds. This is ridiculous. Men and business people always demand changes to contracts. But if a contract is illegal and immoral, involves enormous exploitation and risk to the “surrogate” mother, where is the glory in upholding it? When the Vatican came out against surrogacy, I was accused of “being in bed with the Pope.” I rather liked that.

Gordon:  You experienced 9/11 in Manhattan as a defining moment. How did it impact you and change your feminist agenda?

Chesler:  Even before that, the Al Aqsa Intifada had galvanized me. Although, as noted above, I had organized against anti-Semitism since the early 1970s, this was a quantum leap forward or backward. I knew the bloody beast was back and that I would have to write about it and about how the western intelligentsia was making common cause with Islamists who hated Jews and the Jewish state. When 9/11 happened, I said: “Now we are all Israelis.” And so we are.

Gordon:  The New Antisemitism (2003) was among the first serious examinations of the demonization and delegitimization of the Jewish nation of Israel and the Jewish people. In the decade since the book was published what developments have occurred that confirm your warnings?

Chesler: Thank you for remembering this. At the time it came out, major Jewish organizations were indifferent or hostile. I was mocked as the “Jewish Cassandra.” Liberal Jews would not allow me to speak. I was not reviewed in the mainstream media. On campuses, I needed bodyguards. Now, a decade later, the leaders of Jewish organizations are saying precisely what I said long ago. These same people are now raising money to organize on campuses. They claim they are “on it,” are solving the problem. They are not—they cannot, and they are way too late. Israel still does not have a Ministry devoted to Cognitive Warfare. We, the Jewish people, do not have an Al-Jazeera of our own which broadcasts around the clock globally, covers many issues, and when it comes to Israel and the Middle East, simply tells the truth. Israel has effectively lost the war of ideas. I belong to a premier group of pro-Israel advocates who are brilliant, informed, at the ready, but we are soldiers without boots or weapons and most work without funding. The determined and excellent grassroots pro-Israel groups that have sprung up fight each other for limited funding and Jews continue to give large sums to organizations that take no risks, still have President Obama’s back, and will sacrifice Israel in a heartbeat in the belief that they will remain safe and prosperous in America. Too few Jews want to bear the burden of associating themselves with a country which has been so demonized and isolated. Ironically, misogynist Jews, often Orthodox, often haredi, can be counted on to have Israel’s “back.”  Kavod kaved. Glory is a heavy burden indeed.

Gordon:  What was the message in The Death of Feminism (2005) that led to your complete rupture with academic and leftist feminists and your defense of Muslim and ex-Muslim women’s rights and issues?

Chesler:  There has been no complete rupture. I remain a feminist; I have not renounced the cause of women’s freedom. Also, over time, privately, cautiously, some Second Wave feminists have told me that I am brave, that I am right, that they wish they had the courage to speak out. My closest allies today are Muslim and ex-Muslim feminists and dissidents and religious Jewish feminists. But politically correct journalists succeeded in keeping me as well as many others who share my views, off the mainstream/left stream airwaves and away from all the distinguished lecture podiums. Every so often, I get across the aisle. I will continue to talk to both sides of the aisle.

Gordon:  You have defined the treatment of women under sharia as gender apartheid. How can the West combat it?

Chesler:  Very simply by enforcing the laws of our land. But it is also not so simple. When daughters are beaten and death threatened, forced to veil against their will, they rarely “tell” authorities and when they do, proper action is rarely taken. No one (teachers, guidance counselors, child protective services, physicians) in the West wants to believe that a family will actually conspire to kill one of their daughters because she does not want to wear hijab, drop out of school, and marry her first cousin; or because she wants a higher education, wants to choose her husband, has infidel friends, wants to lead a Western life. Also, “rescuing” such a girl will mean putting her in the equivalent of a federal witness protection program and giving her a new, extended, adoptive Muslim family. This is labor intensive and costly and America is not yet ready to undertake this. Also, girls, even endangered girls, love their families they fear, and do not want to leave them.

Gordon:  Why have honor killings occurred with disturbing frequency in the West?

Chesler:  Although Hindus perpetrate honor killings as well, they do so mainly in one part of India, they do not bring this custom with them into the West. Only Muslims do so. I have published three studies in Middle East Quarterly in 2009, 2010, and 2012. I strongly suggest that your readers view them: Are Honor Killings Simply Domestic Violence (2009); Worldwide Trends in Honor Killings (2010), and Hindu vs. Muslim Honor Killings (2012).

Gordon:  Recently proposed state legislation has been introduced against the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM). How prevalent is FGM in domestic Muslim and African émigré communities in this country and would the adoption of the proposed anti FGM legislation make a difference?

Chesler:  This practice continues even though it is prohibited by Federal law. I have recently been told by an immigration lawyer that FGM is very widespread in the United States and that the greatest number of such women are in New York City. New York! This means that unlicensed butchers carry out this often lethal and life-scarring procedure right here, sometimes without anesthesia; that girls are sent back home for “vacation cuttings;” and that licensed physicians are performing this mutilation. The girls and their families all believe that without this mutilation, the girl is impure, tainted, and that no one will marry her and she will remain a shameful burden to her father. Legitimate physicians will not treat pregnant women who have been mutilated which means that when they give birth, it is with no pre-natal care and in emergency rooms staffed by physicians who do not know how to cut through the massive scarring or how to safely remove such scarring after the birth. By the way, I do not believe that the Qu’ran mandates such mutilation; the custom began primarily as an African tribal custom but has been spread via Islam to non-African countries such as Indonesia where the rates are increasing.

Gordon:  Under sharia doctrine domestic violence against women by husbands, male relatives and even female siblings is condoned for alleged unruly and disobedient behavior. Given that you are an expert witness in domestic cases involving Muslim and ex-Muslim women, has evidence of this surfaced in divorce, custody and spousal abuse matters?

Chesler:  I have submitted affidavits to judges on behalf of girls and women in flight from being honor killed and in search of asylum. I have also learned that my work has been relied upon in a number of high profile prosecutions of honor killers in the West. This is a great privilege. Western style domestic violence sometimes results in femicide but not always. Honor killings are not like domestic violence. Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, and cousins do not conspire to kill a teenage girl in the West. An honor killing is a family conspiracy or collaboration to do just this, although sometimes the victim is a battered wife. In both cases, the girl’s or the woman’s alleged disobedience is seen as shaming her family and ruining their standing in the community.

Gordon:  Thank you Dr. Chesler for this engrossing interview with insightful observations on the treatment of women under Islam.

Chesler:  Thank you for this opportunity to discuss these issues.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Could the Crisis in Turkey Impact US Policy in the Middle East?

Since  December 17, 2013, police in Ankara, Istanbul and other cities in Turkey have arrested more than  52 persons in a wide-ranging corruption probe. Those arrested include some prominent persons and sons of AKP cabinet ministers on charges of bribery, illicit gold trading and payoffs on tenders for construction deals. The state-run Andalou News Agenccited the range of arrests and detentions, the outgrowth of a two year investigation:

Sixteen people, including the sons of two ministers, have been charged in connection with a sweeping corruption investigation targeting allies of the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Suleyman Aslan, the general manager of state-owned Halkbank, was also formally arrested and charged alongside Baris Guler, the son of the Interior Minister, and Kaan Caglayan, the son of the Economy Minister, Turkey’s state-run news agency reported. The son of a third minister, a construction magnate,was freed from custody pending trial.

As 2014 dawns there were even allegations of money laundering to Al Qaeda opposition militias in neighboring war torn Syria. These allegations involve a son of Premier Erdogan, the Turkish intelligence service (MIT), the Premier’s security detail head and a shadowy Saudi billionaire. Erdogan appears determined to remain in power. The question is whether this crisis will result in bringing an end to the 11 year AKP reign in Ankara. Further, how will this crisis of confidence in the Erdogan government impact US policies in an already frayed and uncertain Middle East with both the Iran nuclear program and Syrian cease fire negotiations hanging in the balance? Let’s examine the important threads in this complicated story.

                      
Premier Erdogan/Sheikh Gulen         Gezi Park Protest Rally Istanbul June 2013

The conflict between the two Islamists allies: AKP Premier Erdogan versus Sheikh Gulen

The Turkish corruption investigations surfaced a running ideological war between two Islamists, Premier Erdogan versus shadowy Sheikh Muhammad Fethulleh Gulen, head of the multi-billion dollar Gulen Movement (GM) or Hizmat in Turkish. He lives in exile in a fortified compound in the Poconos Mountains in Eastern Pennsylvania. He fled to the US in 1999 to avoid prosecution by the then Turkish secular government. The election of an Islamist Premier in 2003, head of the Turkish AKP party and former mayor of Istanbul, Recep Tayyip Erdogan brought to the fore a competitive Islamist with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. A sweep of parliament elections for a second term by the AKP in 2007 encouraged pro-Gulen prosecutors to conduct the “Ergenekon trial”  that convicted a number of prominent Turkish secularist generals and alleged coup plotters.

The trigger for those arrests on corruption charges appeared to be Erdogan’s move to close down the dershane private school system operated by the GM that produced tens of millions in fee income. Their schools espoused the GM’s cultic Hizmat, World Islamic Order achieved through commitment of personal service, education and modernization. The national police in Turkey and the judiciary had been penetrated by Gulenists facilitating the corruption arrests. The GM also controls a major national newspaper, Today’s Zaman.

A virtual war has broken out in the wake of the corruption arrests which may affect Erdogan and the AKP in upcoming March 2014 municipal elections. Further, it may imperil his quest to change the laws and powers of Turkey’s Presidency so that he might become the head of an elected Caliphate. The irony is that the incumbent Turkish President Abdullah Gul is a member of the GM. Gul could turn out to be the winner in the current tangle between Erdogan and Gulen that might see him returned as Premier, if Erdogan is blocked. The previous Ottoman Caliphate that controlled vast swaths of the Middle East and North Africa ended with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 that created the Republic of Turkey. The protests in Istanbul at Gezi Park, Ankara and other cities in June 2013 revealed vocal opposition in Turkey to Erdogan’s autocratic rule.

The International Business Times noted the rising divide between Premier Erdogan and the reclusive 70 year old cleric in Pennsylvania, “Fethullah Gulen: Is Islamic Cleric in Self-Exile Behind Turkey’s High-Profile Arrests”?:

Tensions between the reclusive Muslim cleric and Erdogan have boiled over in recent months, and ultimately exploded after the Turkish government announced plans to outlaw private schools, including those run by the Gulen movement.

From his retreat in Pennsylvania, Gulen “strongly denied” allegations that the latest Turkish probe was launched as part of a rift between the government and Hizmet (The Service) – another name for [his] movement.

“Some bureaucrats, well-known businessmen and relatives of ministers have been detained by the Istanbul chief public prosecutor in the past two days. Claims of corruption, bribery and smuggling can be seen in any country. That is why there are independent judicial bodies to investigate such claims,” said Gulen.

Over the past months, however, the cleric made veiled criticism of Erdogan’s increased authoritarian style. Following the anti-government protests that swept across [Turkey’s largest] cities in May, Gülen said:

“If you claim that protesters are not seeking their rights, then you would ignore the innocent demands of some.” The reference was to Erdogan labeling demonstrators as “looters” or “small fringe groups”.

“Underestimating negative developments reveal a problem in judgment, mind and logic,” he continued.

One European source knowledgeable about developments in Turkey wrote via email:

The rift became particularly visible to the public after the government announced plans to shut down private education centers, known as “dershanes,” many of which are owned by Gulen supporters. It appears now there were Gulen supporting police squads who were investigating AKP ministers, their families and friends. Forty-nine arrests were made and  the big question is who will Gulen support in the coming municipality elections? Today it seems that many wish Erdogan to lose the elections and thus shelve the national referendum on changing the constitution. Gulen it appears is at great odds with Erdogan.

The Obama Administration had relied on Turkey to aid the opposition rebel forces in the 34 month civil war in adjacent Syria with an estimated 130,000 killed and nearly  2.3 million refugeeswho fled into adjacent countries; Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. Turkey has more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees. Further Turkey has served as the conduit for delivery of humanitarian aid and arms to adjacent rebel held areas in Syria.

Kenilworth Science and Technology School.jpg           Map of Gulen Schools in America.jpg

Gulen Charter School in Louisiana       Location of Gulen Schools in US

The Gulen US Connections

The GM connections here in the US are of interest, because of the controversy over the movement’s control of dozens of Math and Science academies operating with taxpayer funding as charter schools. According to one source there are more than 135 Gulen charter schools with an enrollment of 45,000 students in over 20 states in the US. The staffs of these US charter schools are manned by Turkish Gulenists who enter the US under the HI-B Visa program. There have been exposes on the US Gulen science academies in Texas and elsewhere published by the New York Times. We posted on FBI raids of a Gulen science academy in Louisiana. Because of the problems with the Gulen charter schools, many states have either passed or are considering legislation that would control the proportion of HI-B Visa staff employed at Gulen-sponsored charter schools. The Gulen movement charter school program has been supported by the Gates and Walton Family Foundations. The Walton Family Foundation contributed more than $1 million for Gulen schools in California, alone. Former President Bill Clinton has gone on record supporting the GM interfaith dialogue and educational development program in 2008. GM members were alleged to have contributed to Hillary Clinton’s failed Presidential Campaign in 2008.

Gulen’s immigration status came into question in the same year, 2008, in actions brought by the US Department of Homeland Security. Note what the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT)reported:

In 2008, negative U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service decisions threatened to deny Gulen’s application for permanent residency. A federal court reversed the rulings after receiving 29 letters on Gulen’s behalf. One of those letters came from [Prof. John] Esposito [of Georgetown University]… after his Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding received donations from the [GM]and sponsored a conference in [Gulen’s] honor.

What we may have in Turkey is a contest between two Islamists, Erdogan, seeking to convert the country into a Caliphate with a onetime election to an executive Presidency, versus, Gulen “the world’s most dangerous Islamist”  slowly perfecting the same goal.

US Ambassador to Turkey Francis T. Ricciardone.jpg         Turkish protests against Amb. Ricciardone.jpg
US Ambassador to Turkey, Francis T. Ricciardone     Turkish protest against Ambassador Ricciardone

Erdogan Suggests “International Plot” Attacking Controversial Turkish Corruption Probe

In order to cover his exposure in the alleged corruption probe Premier Erdogan suggested that an international plot was behind it. He said at a rally in Samsun, Turkey, “an ill-intentioned move of local and foreign actors targeting the government. This is an operation with international dimensions and local sub-contractors.” US Ambassador to Ankara Francis T. Ricciardone issued a statement refuting the allegation that the US was behind the graft probe to which the Turkish Foreign Ministry concurred. Sheikh Gulen we noted had denied any involvement although his followers had penetrated both the police and judiciary.

Premier Erdogan dismissed 25 police heads in the Istanbul police department in the midst of the corruption probe. He also withdrew a ranking prosecutor from implementing arrests in a second investigation that may involve his son Bilal and other insiders in money laundering to al Qaeda militias active in Syria via a shadowy Saudi billionaire.

Premier Erdogan is seen as very autocratic given his draconian handling of protests in major Turkish cities In June 2013, especially in the Gezi park affair in Istanbul. That and the current confrontation with the GM, have raised questions about the AKP’s viability. Municipal elections and Erdogan’s proposed referendum to grant executive powers to Turkey’s Presidency are scheduled in March 2014. Ironically, the current incumbent in the largely ceremonial post of President, Abdullah Gul, is a leading Gulenist. He is rumored to be contemplating running for the Premiership, should Erdogan opt to run for the Presidency. Erdogan, who has regional Muslim Brotherhood ties including Hamas, is promoting a national referendum on proposed changes to the Presidency granting the position wide executive powers. There are fears that if the referendum is approved and Erdogan opts to run for the Turkish government executive post, he might become an Islamist autocrat seeking to reinstate a Turkish Caliphate, a throwback to the Ottoman Empire.  Ironically, the GM controlled prosecutors following the 2007 AKP sweep of parliamentary elections tried and convicted a number of secular Turkish Generals charged with conspiring to overthrow the Islamist regime of Premier Erdogan. One of the more prominent of those convicted secular conspirators, retired Turkish Gen. Çevik Bir  was released by prosecutors giving rise to speculation that a possible Gulenist Secularist alliance may be in the offing directed at removing Erdogan.

According to The Hurriyet Daily News, the country’s leading business group, TÜSIAD, has waded into the controversy, decrying the government’s interference with the Judiciary in this “landmark” corruption probe and police purge. That comment by TÜSIAD’s leaders, reflected concerns over the weakening of the Turkish Lira in foreign exchange trading markets as reported by The Wall Street Journal, “Turkish Lira Falls to Fresh Lows.” The WSJ market report on December 20, 2013 noted, “Turkey’s currency and bonds slumped again, dented by domestic and international stress that are piling further pressure on a central bank that is short on cash and lacking in investors’ confidence. A Goldman Sachs emerging markets analyst, Sam Finkelstein cited the current domestic crisis not helping to assuage international investors’ confidence in Turkey’s economy, saying, “This political crisis is destabilizing, adding a set of dark clouds to an already difficult situation.”

The raging conflict between the two Islamist groups in Turkey over the corruption probe, coupled with both domestic and international political and economic concerns could add more complications to the already roiling Middle East. Given a stalemate in the 34 month civil war in neighboring Syria, to be addressed in the upcoming January 2014 Geneva II discussions, and the P5+1 negotiation with Iran over its nuclear program, Erdogan’s AKP is engaging in risky business.

Gen. Cevik Bir.jpg    Reza Zarrab Iranian Zarrab 12-17-13.jpg
Secularist Retired Turkish Gen. Cevik Bir    Reza Zarrab Iranian Azeri Businessman

Could a Gulenist Secularist Alliance Topple Erdogan’s Government?

Harold Rhode, former Pentagon Islamic Affairs and expert on Turkey introduced the players in the illegal gold trading by Halkbank by addressing whether an emerging alliance of the Gulen and Secular opponents might topple Erdogan, “Are Erdogan’s Days Numbered”?

On  December 25, 2013, Erdogan, fresh from a brief trip to Pakistan, reshuffled his cabinet making 10 new appointments. The departing Environment Minister Bayraktar called upon Erdogan to resign implying that others close to the Premier had also been involved with some of the corruption. The following day Erdogan sacked the prosecutor, who was in the midst of completing a second corruption investigation that allegedly might have reached into the core of the Erdogan regime. This touched off a further drop in the Turkish Lira in trading against major currencies.

Rhode’s analysis suggests that Erdogan’s tenure may not be long. Here are his observations:

According to rumors circulating in Turkey, some of Erdogan’s relatives are also involved in the plot; the facts are still unclear. The central figure in this corruption scandal is an Iranian Azeri, Reza Zarrab — married to a popular Turkish singer — who was illegally trading with Iran. Zarrab is charged with bribing the sons of the Turkish ministers — some of Erdogan’s closest associates.

[…]

Further, the judiciary released from jail the retired General Çevik Bir, who had been a strong advocate of U.S.-Turkish-NATO relations. …Bir was … one of the major architects of the Turkish-Israeli rapprochement in the 1990s, and a strong opponent of Fethullah Gulen, whom he apparently saw as an Islamic fundamentalist and a long-term danger to Turkey’s secular and democratic Ataturkist Republic. Because of Bir’s outspoken animosity against the Islamists, which included the powerful Gulen, Bir seems to have been an important factor in Gulen’s decision to flee the country.

So why was Bir — an opponent of Gulen — released by a heavily Gulenist judiciary? Although the reason behind Bir’s release are not yet clear, as an opponent of the Erdogan government …he could now be an ally of Gulen.

Where Turkey’s once highly influential military stands is unclear. So far, it has been silent. It has historically been — and its senior officers still are — steeped in the Ataturkist secular and pro-Western tradition. At least for the moment, the Islamist Gulenists seem to have forged an alliance of convenience with Turkey’s secularists. The beneficiaries of this political upheaval could well be the West, the U.S., NATO, and Israel. Stay tuned.

Halkbank picture Kerem Uzel-Bloomberg.jpg       Turkish Gold Lira.jpg     Turkey_Iran_flags_Album_020612.jpg

Halkbank source: Kerem Uzel/Bloomberg       Turkish Gold Lira            Iranian and Turkish Flags

What Lies Behind the Turkish Illicit Gold Trade with Iran?

Suleyman Aslan, the head of Halkbank at the center of the illicit gold trading had been prominent among the 52 arrested in the swirl of events in the current Turkish corruption scandal. Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracy published an article in Foreign Policy Magazine (FPM) covering their research into the Turkey “gas for gold” scheme that the Obama Administration failed to stop, “Iran’s Turkish Gold Rush.”

Messrs. Schanzer and Dubowitz drew attention to the two principals at the center of the “gas for gold” trade between Turkey and Iran:

The drama surrounding two personalities are particularly eye-popping: Police reportedly discovered shoeboxes containing $4.5 million in the home of Suleyman Aslan, the CEO of state-owned Halkbank, and also arrested Reza Zarrab, an [Azeri] Iranian businessman who primarily deals in the gold trade, and who allegedly oversaw deals worth almost $10 billion last year alone.

The FPM article on the Turkey/ Iran “gas for gold” trade described how it worked:

The Turks exported some $13 billion of gold to Tehran directly, or through the UAE, between March 2012 and July 2013. In return, the Turks received Iranian natural gas and oil. But because sanctions prevented Iran from getting paid in dollars or Euros, the Turks allowed Tehran to buy gold with their Turkish lira — and that gold found its way back to Iranian coffers.

Earlier this year in May 2013 the FDD teamed with Roubini Global Economics and conducted an investigation into the dynamics of the gold trade and its significant alleviation of currency restrictions under sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. The FDD report, “Iran’s Golden Loophole” indicated the scope and impact of the ‘gas for gold’ scheme:

These foreign exchange reserves are Iran’s principal hedge against a severe balance of payments crisis, and help Iran withstand international pressure over its nuclear program. Since July 30, 2012, when the Obama administration issued an executive order prohibiting gold exports to the government of Iran, Iran has received over $6 billion in payment in gold for its energy exports—the value of the lack of enforcement of the golden loophole—mainly as gold payments to the Central Bank of Iran. These gold exports to the Central Bank of Iran already are a sanction able activity under existing U.S. law; gold exports to any entity in Iran will become sanction able as of July 1, 2013. This report estimates that, unless gold sanctions are enforced, Iran could receive up to $20 billion a year, representing around thirty percent of Iran’s projected 2013 energy exports.

Schanzer and Dubowitz questioned why Turkey, a NATO ally of the US, had engaged in the gold trade with Iran:

The Turks — NATO allies who have assured Washington that they oppose Iran’s military-nuclear program — brazenly conducted these massive gold transactions even after the Obama administration tightened sanctions on Iran’s precious metals trade in July 2012.

Turkey, however, chose to exploit a loophole that technically permitted the transfer of billions of dollars of gold to so-called “private” entities in Iran. Iranian Ambassador to Turkey Ali Reza Bikdeli recently praised Halkbank for its “smart management decisions in recent years [that] have played an important role in Iranian-Turkish relations.” Halkbank insists that its role in these transactions was entirely legal.

The U.S. Congress and President Obama closed this “golden loophole” in January 2013. At the time, the Obama administration could have taken action against state-owned Halkbank, which processed these sanctions-busting transactions, using the sanctions already in place to cut the bank off from the U.S. financial system. Instead, the administration lobbied to make sure the legislation that closed this loophole did not take effect for six months — effectively ensuring that the gold transactions continued apace until July 1. That helped Iran accrue billions of dollars more in gold, further undermining the sanctions regime.

In defending its decision not to enforce its own sanctions, the Obama administration insisted that Turkey only transferred gold to private Iranian citizens [perhaps a reference to Reza Zarrab]. The administration argued that, as a result, this wasn’t an explicit violation of its executive order.

Perhaps as the authors point out, the Administration had other reasons for not disturbing the relations with the Erdogan regime regarding the latter’s role in the regional alliance contending with the 34 month Syrian civil war. There was Turkey’s support for rebel factions and the safe haven it provided the massive stream of 1.5 million refugees. However could it have been the nearly $6 billion “the golden loophole” provided Iran in the way of an ”olive branch” used during the secret negotiations by the Obama Administration that led up to the November 24, 2013 P5+1 interim agreement?

According to a Zaman Today article, cited by the authors, the illicit “gas for gold” trade between Iran and Turkey could be vastly more significant, “The suspicious transactions between Iran and Turkey could exceed $119 billion — nine times the total of ‘gas-for-gold’ transactions reported.”

There are suspicions about whether the “gas for gold” scheme enabled Iran to pay for machinery used in the production a new class of centrifuges announced by AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi. That prompted New Jersey Democrat US Senator Robert Menendez, Chairman of the powerful Foreign Relations Committee to  suggest to vacationing President Obama that the first order of business following the recess should be passage of the bi-partisan Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act of 2013 introduced on December 19, 2013. Then there is the question of payments for Russian contractors and personnel engaged in projects like the Arak heavy water reactor that would enable Iran to produce plutonium. And lest we not forget the waivers granted by the US in the Iranian oil trade with China and others. Clearly the current corruption probe in Turkey may lift the veil on covert transactions. They could have enabled Iran to continue, if not accelerate, achievement of their nuclear weapons program objective: nuclear hegemony destabilizing the Middle East and the World.

Erdogan and son Bilal.jpg      Yasin al-Qadi.jpg

Turkish Premier Erdogan and son Bilal              Saudi billionaire Yasin al-Qadi

Al Qaeda Connections in Erdogan Corruption Scandal

The revelations of duplicity in the Turkish corruption investigations have apparently reached Premier Erdogan and his family. Could these unraveling developments destabilize relations with the Obama Administration over both Iran and Syria?

Now there is more on why Premier Erdogan wanted to quash investigations and prevent a prosecutor from making arrests; possible al Qaeda connections. Those connections involve a shadowy Saudi billionaire who  the US has designated a terrorist financier, Yasin al-Qadi. Also involved was the Turkish intelligence service, (MIT) and Erdogan’s son Bilal. They conspired to use Muslim charities to channel funds to an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Al-Nusrah Front.

What is troubling is that Turkey is a NATO member, ostensibly an ally of the US. Obama placed great trust in forging a partnership with Erdogan dealing with problems in the region. If these reports are confirmed it raises questions about the wisdom of the Administration’s dealing with Erdogan on Iran’s nuclear program.  US policy opposes Erdogan’s covert support of the Al Qaeda’s agenda in neighboring Syria.

American Enterprise Institute Middle East Scholar, Michael Rubin, in a December 27, 2013 Commentary blog Contentions, and Today’s Zaman columnist, Emre Uslu present those allegations in articles, Turkey Scandal’s Al-Qaeda Angle and Yasin al-Qadi and the Erdogan Family.

Rubin in the Contentions blog post notes the al-Qadi/Erdogan connection and al Qaeda money laundering:

Now it seems that the corruption being exposed also has an al-Qaeda angle that harkens back to the Yasin al-Qadi affair. In that case, Cuneyt  Zapsu, a close Erdogan confidant, donated money to Qadi, a Saudi businessman designated by the U.S. Treasury Department to be a “specially designated global terrorist.” Rather than distance himself from Zapsu, the prime minister doubled down and lent Qadi his personal endorsement.

Fast forward to the present day: According to Turkish interlocutors, there are consistent irregularities in 28 government tenders totaling in the tens of billions of dollars, in which kickbacks and other payments were made, a portion of which Turkish investigators believe ended up with al-Qadi’s  funds and charities. These funds and charities were then used to support al-Qaeda affiliates and other radical Islamist groups operating in Syria like the Nusra Front. Erdogan thought he had plausible denial, but it seems that Turkish government funds supported the growth of these groups, which are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands and which subsumed the more moderate opposition.

Uslu, in his Today’s Zaman column tells us when the al-Qadi/ Erdogan connections first surfaced:

Saudi billionaire Qadi is a well-known figure within the security bureaucracy of the West. Right after the 9/11 attacks in the US, the EU as well as many other countries froze the Saudi billionaire’s assets. In recent years, the EU and many Western countries have unfrozen his financial assets; however, security services still suspect him of having links to al-Qaeda networks.

Last June Mr. Qadi and his close associate Qutb were involved in a traffic accident in Istanbul and taken to a hospital. When they had the traffic accident, the prime minister’s chief of security was with them in the same car. More importantly, the prime minister’s son, Bilal Erdogan, was the first person to visit them in the hospital and “cleaned” the hospital records of the fact that they had had an accident while the prime minister’s chief of security was with them.

Even the pro-government Star daily confirmed an allegation that Qadi had met with the M?T chief. After the meeting, they returned to Istanbul and were involved in the traffic accident while Prime Minister Erdo?an’s chief of security, Ibrahim Y?ld?z, was with them in the car.

In that piece, I questioned Mr. Qadi’s relations with the prime minister and MIT and stressed the following: “Mr. Qadi may or may not have any relations with any illegal network; that is not important. What is important is that all of these examples create a fuzzy picture for the international community as to whether Turkey has become a center of a range of illegal activities, from nuclear smuggling to money laundering and helping terrorists.” (Today’s Zaman, Sept. 29, 2013)

Uslu tells what stopped Turkish prosecutors from arresting Qadi and Qutb:

The details of the investigation have been revealed to the media. Mr. Qadi and Mr. Qutb are two key figures the prosecutor had asked the police to arrest; however, the police refused to comply with the order perhaps because Ankara did not want them to listen to what the prosecutor had ordered.

It seems that the prosecutor had gotten evidence that made AKP officials so panicked that they blocked the whole investigation process and created a political crisis that has deeply affected the economy.

Now, that these alleged al-Qadi/Erdogan connections funding al Qaeda affiliates are out in the open, one can understand the massive protests and calls for Erdogan’s resignation in Turkey. Will these damaging revelations in the Erdogan corruption scandals blowback against US efforts in the roiling Middle East? Despite sanctions relief granted in the P5+1 agreement could the revelations in the Turkish “gas for gold” trade with Iran derail Administration efforts endeavoring  to conclude a definitive nuclear agreement? Could these disclosures of Erdogan family connections with alleged  money laundering via Muslim charities to al Qaeda affiliate, the al Nusrah Front, upend the scheduled Geneva II discussions in late January 2014  seeking a truce in the 34 month civil war in Syria? Stay tuned.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Twisting Jewish Values to Promote a False Peace

The following is the text of remarks delivered on December 8, 2013 at Ahavath Torah Congregation in Stoughton, Massachusetts.

Have you heard the one about the old Jewish lady from Brooklyn who wants to visit a Hindu holy man in Nepal? Her friends tell her she’s crazy, but she saves her money, flies to Nepal and makes the arduous trip up the mountain anyway. When she arrives she’s told by a disciple that her audience will last only a minute and that she must limit her conversation to six words. Not easily intimidated, she insists on seeing the great master immediately. After being ushered into his chamber, she looks him straight in the eye and says the six words that most accurately convey her thoughts.

“Sheldon, it’s your mother. Come home!”

Unfortunately, there are many “Sheldons” in the Jewish world today – those who discard traditional values for non-Jewish belief systems they consider more relevant. Such are those who believe that forcing Israel to accept any “peace” is a Jewish imperative, even if that peace discounts Jewish nationhood, lends credence to a Palestinian national myth that has no historical foundation, and compromises her security and integrity as a Jewish Nation.

The Oslo Process

In meeting with Palestinian terrorists in violation of Israeli law twenty years ago, Oslo’s architects validated an apocryphal national myth that is fundamentally anti-Semitic and contemptuous of Jewish history, and in so doing cast off traditional values in the pursuit of a progressive pipedream.

Israelis on the left were instrumental in formulating the Oslo process, which began in secret without the knowledge of the Knesset. Their Palestinian counterparts were terrorists governed by a charter that called for Israel’s destruction then and still does today, although it was supposed to have been amended under the resulting accords.

Since that time, Oslo has come to dictate the quest for Arab-Israeli peace, even though it constitutes a profound threat to Israeli sovereignty and Jewish hegemony. Focused on validating Palestinian peoplehood, Oslo came to control the dialogue as if it had been the paradigm from the beginning. But at the time of its inception, Oslo was only the latest in a succession of resolutional frameworks after San Remo, the League of Nations Mandate, and U.N. Resolution 242, all of which had presumed the historicity of Jewish claims, not the ascendancy of a Palestinian nationalism that did not yet exist.

Indeed, until the mid-1960s, the Arab-Muslim world had refused to impute separate national character to Arabs who resided in Mandate lands before 1948, the majority of whom were immigrants or the progeny of immigrants with no ancient connection to the land. Palestinian nationality was invented later as a propaganda weapon for repudiating Jewish historical claims.

The Palestinian Arabs have never seriously sought lasting peace with Israel, and their push in 2012 for upgraded U.N. status served only to illustrate their cynical contempt for both concept and process.

Article 31 of the Oslo Accords specifically states: “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” The Palestinian Authority’s U.N. initiative violated this provision and arguably abrogated the accords. Although this breach was glaring, it was by no means the Palestinians’ first substantive violation. The PA has consistently failed to honor its obligations under Oslo, minimal though they have been compared to the demands placed on Israel.

In contrast, Israel has honored her commitments, even when doing so has threatened her security and national integrity.

Israel granted Palestinian Arab autonomy in much of Judea and Samaria, permitted the PA to arm itself despite its continued involvement with terrorism, unfroze and transferred funds to the PA, and fueled a territorial economy that provides the highest standard of living in the Arab-Muslim world. She has also continued to service the utility needs of the area. As a recent concession to induce the Palestinians back to the table, Israel released a gaggle of jihadists and terrorists responsible for the deaths of many men, women and children – people with blood on their hands.

In contrast, the PA has failed to renounce terrorism, foreswear anti-Semitic incitement, or truly amend the language of its charter calling for Israel’s destruction. It has also stated repeatedly that it will never recognize a Jewish state.

Ever since the signing of the Interim Agreement of 1995 (“Oslo II”), the PA has been in perpetual breach of Article XVII (1a), which prohibits it from operating in Jerusalem and deciding “issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations and Israelis.”

The PA breaches this provision daily by operating ministries and institutions throughout Jerusalem. These unlawful organizations include: the Palestinian Ministry of Education, which disseminates anti-Semitic and anti-Western educational materials; the Ministry for Jerusalem Affairs, which organizes and sponsors protests against Israel; the Ministry of Information/WAFA, an official Palestinian news agency that routinely publishes anti-Semitic material; and the Office of the Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, which prohibits land sales to Jews, denies the historical Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, rejects Israel’s right to exist, and sponsors sermons at the Al-Aksa Mosque calling for jihad and genocide.

The same hypocrites who accuse Israel of obstructing peace ignore the PA’s blanket disregard for a treaty that it officially endorsed. They denounce Israel for violating the accords, although she is the only signatory to have upheld her obligations.

The refusal of the Obama Administration and the European Union to condemn PA violations, and their willingness instead to reward the Palestinians for continuing acts of incitement, violence and terror, only reinforce the need for Israel to reject outside pressure in favor of alternatives that make better historical and strategic sense.

The Faulty Premise of the Two-State Solution 

The land-for-peace formula is flawed because it presumes that the conflict is about geography and can be resolved by the creation of yet another independent Arab-Muslim state. However, the refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist and the doctrinal prohibition against permanent peace with a subjugated people expose the concept as an exercise in taqiyya – religiously mandated dissimulation for the purpose of deceiving “infidels” and furthering the aims of jihad.

Many today believe that creating an independent state of Palestine will resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and bring peace to the Mideast.  But this belief presumes that the Palestinian Arabs – not the Jews – were indigenous to the Land of Israel for thousands of years until their displacement in 1948, that the Jews are colonial occupiers, and that the conflict is driven by Palestinian Arab dislocation.

However, it is the Palestinians who are historical latecomers to the Land of Israel. There never was a country called Palestine or an ancestral, native culture known as “Palestinian.” Culturally, Palestinians are indistinct from Arabs in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Only the Jews have had a continuous presence in and connection to the land since antiquity.

No amount of pretending that Palestinians are ancestrally indigenous can change the fact that they have no written history, traditional institutions, or archeological record in support of their claims. And yet many liberal and left-wing Jews persist in doing just that.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is not a dispute over the rights of Palestinians. If it were, Jordan and Egypt would have created a Palestinian state when they occupied Judea, Samaria and Gaza from 1948 to 1967. However, there was no outcry for the establishment of a Palestinian state – either from the world community or from the Palestinians themselves – during the nearly twenty years of illegal occupation by Egypt and Jordan.

The inconvenient truth is that the Arab-Israeli conflict is not about repatriating Palestinian Arabs to a land they never owned in the first place, but about destroying the Jewish State. Establishing a Palestinian state will not facilitate true peace because the ultimate objective of the conflict is the extermination of Israel and her people. The two-state paradigm is merely a stealth strategy in a continuing war of annihilation being waged against Israel by the entire Arab-Muslim world, and the creation of a Palestinian state is intended only as the first step towards achieving this malevolent goal.

The goal of destroying Israel has never changed, only the method for achieving it. Those who believe the PA has ever acted in good faith should review its charter, which refuses to recognize a Jewish State, or examine its officially sanctioned educational materials, which teach genocidal anti-Semitism and revisionist history to impressionable school children.

Israel cannot survive as a secure Jewish nation by participating in a process imposed by outside powers that respect neither her sovereignty nor her historical validity, regardless of whether that process is being peddled by the Obama Administration, the European Union or the Saudi royal family.

If Israel continues to proceed under a framework that elevates the revisionist Palestinian narrative over Jewish history, she will compromise her security, sovereign integrity and continuity as the Jewish national homeland.

Those Jews who continue to support Oslo are either misguided (like many mainstream liberals and secular conservatives), or openly hostile to Israel as a Jewish state (like those in the progressive “pro-peace” movement).  But regardless of motivation, one cannot honestly justify a Palestinian narrative that denies Jewish history unless one rejects or ignores that history, or Jewish values, or both.

The Palestinian narrative does not claim that Arabs coexisted or shared the land with indigenous Jewish people, but rather that all Jews are foreign to the Land of Israel and that the Temple never stood in Jerusalem.  Thus, it is based on rejectionism.

Those who support such a narrative and yet claim to be guided by traditional values are either acting out of ignorance or self-denial.

The Erosion of Traditional Values

While the political left in Israel has been fairly marginalized as terrorism and rejectionism have flourished under Oslo, progressives and liberals in America continue to push it as the only valid resolutional paradigm.

The sad reality is that many on the left would prefer that Israel not be a Jewish State at all; and they will tell you that in supporting such nonsense they are giving voice to authentic Jewish values. However, they are so divorced from Jewish tradition that they have no idea what truly constitutes authentic values.

Many secular liberals believe that Jewish values are synonymous with the progressive political agenda.  However, this perception ignores the disparity between traditional Judaism and many central tenets of the progressive canon.

Although Jews are free to support whatever political causes their consciences may dictate, they cannot claim that tradition requires them to endorse programs that conflict with Jewish law. Regarding marriage, sexual relationships, and personal status, for example, traditional Judaism is not liberal at all; and despite claims that progressive ideals are consistent with Jewish values, many elements of the progressive agenda actually conflict with the corpus of Jewish law from which these values arise.

An entire political agenda – whether liberal, conservative or libertarian – is not rendered consistent with Jewish tradition simply because some Jews support it. That would be the same as saying that violations of Halacha are consistent with tradition because many Jews commit those violations or support others who do.

Protecting the right to eat non-kosher food, for example, isn’t a Jewish value simply because many secular Jews don’t observe the dietary laws. Pork is still treyfe (nonkosher) regardless of how many Jews may eat it.

Likewise, one cannot say that a political program represents Jewish values simply because secular Jews support it.  Jews as individuals can support or oppose any of the hot-button issues upon which liberals and conservatives disagree, including gun control, same-sex marriage or abortion rights; but they cannot claim the approval of tradition where Jewish law conflicts with those issues or takes no position on them.

Traditional Jewish Concepts of Justice and Compromise

The Torah portion of Shoftim in the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy) deals with the appointment of judges in ancient Israel and, therefore, is associated with the concept of justice. Indeed, its most famous dictum is “tzedek, tzedek, tirdoph,” (“justice, justice shall you pursue”), which today is used to rationalize just about any outlandish demand made on Israel in the putative name of peace.

Secular progressives often claim that this maxim justifies any demands placed on Israel – no matter how onerous, unfair or unrequited. As with anything taken out of context, however, selected words may not reflect the whole truth.

If progressives who cleave to this verse had basic knowledge of rabbinic text, they’d certainly know that the Jerusalem Talmud (Taanit, 4:2) states: “The three are one and the same: if the law is upheld, there is truth and there is peace.”

But what is the Jewish concept of justice? Does it require peace negotiations with sworn enemies? Does it demand unilateral capitulation without assurances or the sacrifice of one’s needs in favor of those of one’s enemy? The answers to these questions are often influenced by material facts and circumstances and inconvenient political realities.

The repetitive phrase “justice, justice shall you pursue” is not merely a literary device. According to Rav Ashi (Sanhedrin 32b), the repetition of “tzedek” implies two kinds of justice: one based on the strict application of the law and the other on compromise and common sense. And according to Rabbi Bunim of Peshischa, this verse implies that the process of obtaining justice must itself be just.

That is, the ends don’t always justify the means, and the results should not be sullied by the methods.

These parallel constructions hearken back to the text of the Torah itself. The concept of “an eye for an eye” found in the Book of Vayikra (Leviticus), for example, was never literally applied, but instead formed the basis for requiring restitution by one who injures another. If one caused another to lose an eye, an ox or a sum of money, he was required to compensate the injured party for the value of his loss. It was this legal framework that took the concept of “justice” beyond a purely punitive and primitive application. What justice was there in blinding or crippling a person who injured another? Torah and Rabbinic law found greater justice in a system that provided compensation for the injured rather than the literal exchange of an eye for an eye.

The law also understood that individual results were often dictated by peculiar facts and circumstances. That’s why, according to Rabbenu Nissim, the kings in ancient Israel had authority to impose sentences outside the parameters of the law in order to preserve its spirit. After the monarchy was abolished, the courts reserved the authority to craft sentences accordingly if they determined that justice would not be properly served otherwise.

Clearly, the Rabbis acknowledged the value of common sense in seeking justice.

Nevertheless, these concepts are frequently misapplied to the peace process. Whether achieved through strict application of the law or through compromise and common sense, justice neither condones nor requires unilateral concessions to the detriment of one party. Moreover, the law forbids engaging in acts that will be injurious to human life.

Supposed friends of Israel often argue that she should give up land, acquiesce to a dubious Arab “right of return,” and retreat to indefensible borders – all in the spirit of compromise as articulated in the Talmud. Incredibly, many left-wing Jews envision a two-state solution or a bi-national state stripped of its Jewish character. But such “solutions” are not sustainable under any formulation of justice, particularly when Israel receives no mutual concessions and the result would likely sacrifice Israeli lives.

Furthermore, any solution that sacrifices Israel’s Jewish character is by definition inconsistent with Jewish values.

If Israel were to agree to a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, she would be left with a narrowed geographic waistline and a hostile population on either side that could launch attacks from opposing fronts. Israel has been the target of aggression since before her rebirth in 1948. More recently, she has witnessed the ascendancy of Hamas and suffered an unending storm of missiles since disengaging from Gaza.

Hamas refuses to renounce terrorism or recognize Israel’s right to exist, while the PA publicly refuses to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state – even after reengaging in negotiations forced upon her by the Obama Administration. Genuine peace – lasting peace – is not possible if Israel’s “negotiating partners” refuse to concede the legitimacy of Jewish historical claims.

In agreeing to a two-state solution, Israel would be acquiescing to the creation of a hostile state where none had ever existed before, and would receive no reliable assurances in return. Such a resolution would only serve to weaken her, increase the risk of continued hostilities, and facilitate the ability to inflict Israeli casualties. This would not serve the cause of justice, but rather would trample certain aspects of Jewish law that are supposed to be inviolate.

Although the Rabbis taught that most commandments could be set aside in order to preserve life (“pekuach nefesh”), there are three that can never be suspended. Specifically, Jews are never permitted to engage in sexual immorality, bow to idols or commit murder (which necessarily includes suicide). Any plan that increases the likelihood of loss of life is incompatible with justice because it would necessarily transgress one of these inviolate prohibitions.

Also, inherent in justice by compromise is the need for all parties to give some ground to achieve a fair resolution.

Unfortunately, the proposed two-state solution requires only Israel to concede anything of value (i.e., land) for the creation of a state that never existed and a diminution in size that threatens her continued existence. So far, the Arab nations have refused to concede their ludicrous demand for a “right of return,” which is intended to destroy Israel as a Jewish state by displacing Jewish citizens with Arab “returnees.”

The two-state solution is actually seen in the Arab world as a two-phased solution. The first phase is the creation of a Palestinian state, while the second is the demographic annihilation of Israel through an influx of Arab immigration. The only thing Israel would receive would be the empty promise of “normalization” to be bestowed only after she has compromised her viability. But what good is the promise of normalization when coupled with a resolute refusal to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state? It is in practice something less than real recognition.

Verbal promises of even limited recognition must be measured against the Muslim concept of taqiyya, which mandates the use of artifice to deceive “infidels” into lowering their defenses in order to facilitate their ultimate defeat. In the absence of any sort of theological or intellectual reformation, such verbal promises are tantamount to no assurances at all. Because the proposed two-state solution would leave Israel with neither bargain nor benefit, it could not be considered just under any interpretation of the law.

In addition, the issue of Arab “refugees” and their “right of return” to Israel is not a matter of justice, but of subterfuge. Poll after poll shows that most Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish State, and this refusal is often reiterated by Mahmoud Abbas. They simply will not acknowledge the Jews’ history or their unbroken connection to their land, and thus won’t recognize the historical or legal underpinnings of the Jewish State. Instead, they demand acknowledgment that they occupied the land for hundreds generations, though this claim is demonstrably false.

If they can’t say it, they can’t do it.

Unfortunately, the world community helps to perpetrate this fraud. The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), for example, defines Palestinian “refugees” as those who lived in the land for a minimum of only two years preceding the outbreak of hostilities in1948 and who reside in areas where UNRWA services are available.

In other words, refugee status was initially based on an ephemeral residency requirement that is inconsistent with the Palestinians’ claim that their ancestors inhabited the land for hundreds of generations. By defining refugee status thus while denying verifiable Jewish claims, Israel’s enemies show that they are not truly interested in justice by compromise. Their transparent goals are to obtain concessions without real consideration and to suppress any history that undercuts their creation myth. This dynamic does not bode well for true justice.

The Obama Administration seeks to enforce a two-state solution based on the Saudi initiative, and some left-wing Jewish organizations are complicit in advancing the charade. The Jewish concept of justice, however, does not condone threats to the safety of Israel’s citizens, the surrender of Jewish autonomy, or the risk of national suicide.

Justice does not require unilateral concessions without mutual exchanges. Those who claim that Torah justice and Jewish values are conducive to such nonsense either don’t know what justice is, or simply don’t care.

One could make a case for bold compromise only if all parties would agree to concessions that would put them on equal footing. But the Administration’s vision requires sacrifices only by Israel, and insists on linking the Arab-Israeli conflict to unrelated issues, such as the Iran nuclear program.

Under pressure from the Clinton Administration, Israel offered to give up most of Judea and Samaria, but her offer was rebuffed with an intifada. She then ceded all of Gaza, only to see it become a terrorist haven. Given the long history of Arab-Muslim intransigence, justice does not require Israel to make any further compromises. Instead, it demands meaningful concessions from the other side of the table, which have never been forthcoming.

The Jerusalem Talmud (Taanit 4:2) states that “… if the law is upheld, there is truth and there is peace.” However, any attempt to force an unjust solution on Israel based on a false narrative will provide neither truth nor genuine, lasting peace.

This applies to the recent interim agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Though AIPAC may have pronounced that the deal with Iran merely represents “a difference of approach” to curbing Iran’s nuclear desires and that Israel’s relationship with the U.S. is as strong as ever, such assurances belie an ignorance of history, traditional values and realities on the ground. They also ignore this administration’s disrespectful and duplicitous treatment of Israel over the last five years.

A genuine and lasting peace seems as unlikely today as in 1967, when the Arab world declared in Khartoum that there would be “no recognition, no negotiations and no peace.” Thus, if Israel is to survive into the future, she must not lose sight of the historical justification for her existence or the values that make her both a Jewish state and a vital democracy.

Why the Israeli-Palestinian Agreement Is Absurd

It makes sense that the Israel-Palestinian agreement is being made with Obama and Kerry in charge. The deal offers a kind of neo-mandate, with an American presence entrenched in the Jordan Valley for the next 10 years.  That’s no joke.

Let’s look at a different but parallel “pacification” effort and see what happened there. The Afghanistan peace talks with Taliban have gone absolutely dreadfully, and President Karzai is very dissatisfied. The results are–not surprisingly–unsatisfactory.

Let’s consider casualties in that case and a couple of others.

As of the end of 2013, roughly 3,000 Western troops have been killed in Afghanistan. Western forces will retreat with their tails between their legs and will probably abandon the government to horrible massacres and long wars following a Taliban victory.

Since the start of the ongoing civil war in Syria, there have been about 200,000 casualties–mostly civilians. A truly staggering number.

The population of the West Bank is about 3.1 million; if losses will be proportional to those in neighboring nations, the cost of American soldier’s lives would be high.

So, if the Obama/Kerry peace deal does go through, what would the risks be?

  • Dozens of Israeli civilians would be at risk of being killed by cross-border Palestinian-Arab and Islamist terrorist attacks, even if the settlements did not exist.
  • And of course, how fast would U.S. troops respond to such attacks?
  • Might there be an intifada in Jordan, a neighboring country with a Palestinian majority and a very strong Muslim Brotherhood opposition?
  • Remember too that the peace treaty would be incomplete, unable to involve the Hamas-led Gaza Strip. And incomplete peace treaties cannot stand.

In the Gaza Strip, there are more than 1.6 million people under the rule of Hamas. This government will do everything it can to sabotage the peace process. And U.S. help to the PA will be presented as collaboration with the infidels. There is no possibility of their participation in this agreement. That means that even in the best of circumstances, even if the PA is at peace with Israel, Hamas will be in an ongoing war with Israel.

So what great advantage is peace with the West Bank and war with Gaza?

It is predictable that Hamas will attempt to carry out cross-border raids and fire missiles at Israel. What is the U.S. position on that? Is the United States at war with Hamas? CIA director John Brennan, the architect of Obama ideology, publically–but not officially–has said that he wants to make peace with Hamas.

Is the PA going to cooperate with Hamas or at least radical segments of the PA? Remember during the Second Intifada, from 2000 to 2005, Fatah did cooperate with Hamas.

Moreover, if Fatah were to change its policy, it might get support from countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and so on. Turkey, for example–which is now a conduit for the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists, and al-Qa’ida obtaining arms–knows that most of its policy with the Arabs will be dependent on its degree of support to the Palestinians, including cooperation if there is a Palestinian state. The fact is that Turkey has pinned its hopes on Turkish influence in the Arab world, and to associate with aggressive support of Palestine would be key to its popularity. What if aid from Turkey and these other countries prepares Palestine to fight?

What is the United States, an ally with Israel, going to do if Palestine is created by its own agreement but wages a war of terrorism against Israel?

By the way, let’s remember that Mahmoud Abbas will probably be replaced in the next few years. It is very hard to predict whom he will be replaced by, but the most popular candidate is a serious hardliner.

Shaykh Abd al-Muhsin al-Mutairi stated, “Oh servants of Allah, how saddening and very painful it is to see many Muslim youths glued to TV screens at cafes or at home, passionately watching entertainment shows, like the Football World Cup, in despicable subjugation to the abominations of the other nations–as if we were not a nation with a brilliant history and a lofty civilization.”

And guess who they blame?

“The Jews were successful in preoccupying the Muslim youth–except those protected by Allah–with the most inane matters, distracting them from important things…”

It is important to understand that millions of people believe this–thoroughly and completely–and can be motivated by these kinds of arguments to the point of killing or supporting terrorism. This is reality; even if it is not unanimous, it is a major motive. If you don’t understand that a majority of people in the Arab-Islamic world believe this, you cannot understand this is the majority view. Certainly Obama and Kerry do not understand this.

So, what are the potential issues that stem from this mindset?

  • Any Muslim killed by a Christian American soldier will be a reason for revenge. This is to engage in a blood feud. Even if a terrorist band has captured a kindergarten and shot children, there will be sympathy in the streets among Arabs and Muslims. If Palestinians are killed by Americans, there will be retaliation.
  •  A terrorist attack at a Kansas airport, Boston, or Fort Hood would be viewed as justification for causalities in Palestine.
  • Remember that the prospects for Arab terrorist movements are much better than Afghan ones, because they have many weapon suppliers–including Libya, Lebanon, al-Qa’ida, Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
  • Also, in comparison with populated Afghan villages, Palestinians are concentrated in villages and small towns. Let us consider the American patrol knocking down doors in Jordan Valley towns.

In short, an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is not going to be a picnic. Hamas and likely Fatah as well will attempt to kill Americans and commit terrorism. Forget Iranian nuclear weapons; this will be a war of AK-47s and rockets from Gaza. Does Obama Care?

This is definitely a war in which America will get bogged down, or the United States may stay a few years and leave. Just look at the situation in Afghanistan–either this agreement will never be implemented or it will be a disaster.

Israel’s Christians Who Defend the Jewish State

The Wall Street Journal weekend edition had an article by former Ha’aretz editor Adi Schwartz, “Israel’s Christian Awakening” discussing the grassroots movement led by a Greek Orthodox Priest, Fr. Gabriel Naddaf,  a charismatic former spokesperson for the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem. He hails from the village of Yaffia, located between Migdal Ha’emek and Nazareth. Nazareth, with its Church of the Annunciation is the largest Arab town in Israel. Once the boyhood town of Jesus and predominately Christian, it is now majority Muslim. Despite this, there are plans afoot to build a 100 foot statue of the community’s most famous son.

Fr. Naddaf, who has been featured in  the Jerusalem PostEcumenical News, Fox News, and Times of Israel  this year is doing something important. He and a team of Christian IDF serving officers and reservists have formed the Israel Christian Recruitment Forum. The aim of the group, Schwartz notes, is “to increase the number of Christians joining the Israel Defense Forces” from among the 130,000 Arabic -speaking Christians who constitute 1.6% of Israel’s 8 million population. Those Israeli Arabic speaking Christians are either Greek Catholic or Greek Orthodox.  Some of their liturgy harkens back to the language of their non –Arabic ancient forbearers, the Arameans – derived from the ancient name for Syria, Aram, who spoke the lingua franca  of Jesus and many ancient Jews, Aramaic. By contrast there are 1.3 Million Arab Muslims in the Jewish nation.

A Hebrew University specialist on Christians in Israel Amnon Ramon cited by Schwartz indicated that demographically Christians are closer to fellow Jewish citizens than Muslims; their median age is 30 versus 31; Christian women marry later and have fewer children and their educational attainment surpasses Jews.

Fr. Gabriel is seeking to integrate the Arabic-speaking Christian community into Israel and what better way to do that than through service in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The Forum spokesperson, IDF 1st Lt.  (Res. )Shadi Khaloul, said that “the total number of Christians serving in the Israeli military has more than quadrupled since 2012 from 35 to 150”.  Fr. Naddaf reaffirms that saying, “ Israel takes care of us, and if not Israel, who will defend us?  We love this country, and we see the army as a first step in becoming more integrated with the state.” 18 years old Henry Zahir from the village of Reineh is cited by Schwartz agreeing with Fr. Naddaf saying, “Israel is my country and I want to defend it. The Jewish State is good for us.”

Lela Gilbert of the Hudson Institute wrote about the jeopardy that Naddaf’s leadership has placed both he and his family in a Fox News report, “In Nazareth a Christian-Arab priest seeks full integration into Israeli society”:

On December 6, the son of Nazareth priest, Fr. Gabriel Naddaf, was assaulted and beaten and is now hospitalized. Fr. Naddaf, who is Greek Orthodox, has received death threats for years; the attacker went after his son instead.

Prime Minister Netanyahu commented in a Times of Israel  report on the attack:

I have heard about the threats of physical attacks by extremist elements in Israeli society against Christians, Christian Arabs who want to enlist in the IDF, who want to be part of the State of Israel. Against these people is an extremist group that is threatening them. We will not tolerate this; I will not tolerate this. We will use all of our tools to stop these thugs and we will allow whoever – Christian, Muslim and Druze – wants to link their fate even more to the State of Israel and wants to serve in the IDF to do so.

Fr. Naddaf  commented about the source of the attack on his son in the Times of Israel report, saying, “Arab MKs have not issued any condemnation and I put the responsibility on them. This is the result of incitement that comes from them day and night.”  Schwartz noted  how virulently  an Anti-Israel Arab Muslim Member of the Knesset, Hanin Zoabi,  “wrote Naddaf  calling him a collaborator, accusing him of putting young Christians  in danger.” Zoabi told Schwartz,” We are a national group, not a religious one. Any attempt to enlist Christians is part of a strategy of divide and rule.” Forum spokesperson Khaloul, an officer who served in an IDF parachute brigade, countered Zoabi’s remarks saying,“We are not mercenaries. We want to defend this country together with the Jews. We see what is happening these days to Christians around us in Iraq, Syria and Egypt.”

Gilbert noted in her Fox News report:

In the Middle East, persecution against the region’s ancient churches continues to smolder, flare and rage out of control. Inflamed by Islamist ideology and specifically targeting Christians, brutality has escalated to unprecedented levels.

She drew attention to how Israeli Christians distinguish themselves from Muslims:

Speaking at a September Jerusalem conference, Fr. Naddaf, Capt. Bishara Shlayan, and a Christian IDF reserve officer, Lt. Shaadi Khalloul, offered their historical perspective.

Technically they are not Arabs, they emphasized, but are part of an ancient Christian community  — a community that did not convert to Islam during the Muslims’ Seventh Century invasion.

“I think we should be referred to as Israeli-Christians,” Capt. Shlayan affirmed, rejecting the Arab-Christian label.  “Yes, we speak Arabic. But our nationality is Israeli. And our religion is Christian.”

In fact, they are not only Christian Israelis, they are Zionists.

Theologically grounded in Aramaic and Assyriac liturgy and worship, this population has followed Jesus of Nazareth since he walked among them. Many of them even hail from Nazareth, his hometown – now Israel’s largest Arab city.

In their view, their spiritual heritage has been nearly forgotten, apart from within their churches. At the same time, neighboring Muslims harass and threaten harm while attempting to eradicate Christian shrines, signs and symbols.

Forum spokesperson Khaloul noted in an October video presentation (see below)  that the group is seeking  to have its  heritage nto included in Islamic and Arabic History Courses.  These Christian Israelis also want to form a Knesset Party, “B’nai Brith”, reflecting Ha Shem’s covenant with Jews and Christians.

When I shared these courageous acts of solidarity with the Jewish state by these Israeli Christians with author and scholar Bat Ye’or, she responded in an email:

This is quite a change! It is amazing that it took a century for Christians in the Middle East to understand that they were not Arab and that Muslims were not their friends. It is true that they were forced into this situation by France and England which declared that they will no more help them and that Christians had  to militate into the Arab Nationalism non-sense.

Yuval Brandsetter in a Jerusalem Post oped about Fr. Naddaf, “The Good Father, “noted something that impressed us.  This evident assertion of Israeli Christian identification and solidarity with Israel was a rejection of Dhimmitude; the 1,400 years of Islamic Imperialism imposed on Jews and Christians under the pact of Omar.  He wrote:

In spite of his lowly position, or maybe because of it, Fr. Gabriel Naddaf has reached the conclusion that Christians Arabs residing in Israel must link their fortunes to the Jewish state. In acting on this conclusion with fortitude and a free mind, Fr. Naddaf stands in defiance of the 1,300-year legacy of dhimmitude – the legacy that both his Jerusalem Patriarch and Istanbul’s Ecumenical Patriarch continue to observe.

Watch this video of Fr. Gabriel Naddaf at an October 2013 Liaison Committee of The Israel Christian Recruitment Forum.

Watch this video of IDF Reservists 1st Lt. Shadi Khalloul, at an October 2013 Liaison Committee of The Israel Christian Recruitment Forum.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Iranians: Geneva is ‘Treaty of Hudaybiyyah’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the deal brokered in late November 2013 in Geneva between the P5+1 allows Iran to “continue its [nuclear] enrichment” activities. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that the deal does not recognize a “right to enrich.” (Here’s the text of the so-called “Joint Plan of Action” – the Iranians are right.)

President Obama hailed the Geneva agreement as the most “significant and tangible” progress to date toward ensuring that Iran “cannot build a nuclear weapon.” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Marzieh Afkham said “There is no treaty and no pact.” (It’s a “letter of intent,” say the Iranians.) For his part, the Iranian negotiator, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, exulted that the document explicitly recognized the inclusion of an Iranian enrichment program in the final deal (it does).

There’s at least one major point of agreement, however, for both Americans and Iranians (although it’s doubtful the U.S. negotiating team actually understands what it means). That single point of agreement is about the temporary nature of the pact/letter/Joint Plan of Action: first it was going to be for six months, then it would be for six months after a few more details were worked out, then the technical discussions in Vienna collapsed on 11 December, then Secretary Kerry said the talks would continue in a few days. And then Mohammad Sadeq Al-Hosseini, formerly a political advisor to Iranian President Khatami and now a TV commentator, clarified everything.

This is the Treaty of Hudaybiyya in Geneva,” he said, speaking on Syrian News TV on 11 December 2013. Although it is doubtful that any of Kerry’s advisers is even remotely familiar with this key episode in the accounts about Muhammad and the early Muslims, the Center for Security Policy explained the story in its 2010 book, “Shariah: The Threat to America.” The context is about situations in which Muslim forces might lawfully enter into a treaty or truce with the enemy. With troubling ramifications for current day negotiations, those situations demonstrate the centrality and importance of deceit in any agreement between Muslims and infidels. As it is recounted, in the year 628 CE, Muhammad (whose forces already controlled Medina) agreed to a 10-year truce with the pagan Quraysh tribe of Mecca, primarily because he realized that his forces were not strong enough to take the city at the time. Islamic doctrine in fact forbids Muslims from entering into a jihad or battle without the reasonable certainty of being able to prevail. In such cases, as with Muhammad, Muslims are permitted to enter into a temporary ceasefire or hudna, with the proviso that no such truce may exceed 10 years (because that’s the length of the agreement Muhammad signed). And so, Muhammad agreed to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. But just two years later, in 630 CE, now with some 10,000 fighters under his command, Muhammad broke the treaty and marched into Mecca.

The authoritative ahadith of Bukhari provide context for Muhammad’s actions: “War is deceit,” is a saying Bukhari attributes to Muhammad (52:269). Another says “By Allah, and Allah willing, if I take an oath and later find something else better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath.” (Bukhari: V7B67N427) Yasser Arafat, head of the jihadist Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), provided one of the clearest examples in modern times for how this works. He understood his Islamic obligations well, as demonstrated by his repeated public references to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. And while Western political leaders missed the significance entirely, Arafat’s Arabic-speaking audiences understood perfectly that his Camp David agreement meant nothing more than a temporary hudna or ceasefire that would give the PLO the time it needed to build up its forces to renew the jihad against Israel…which is exactly what happened.

The shariah (Islamic Law) in general discourages Muslim forces from making a truce, citing Qur’anic verse 47:35, which says, “So do not be fainthearted and call for peace, when it is you who are the uppermost.” The main reason Islamic forces are to avoid ceasefires, treaties and the like is that “it entails the nonperformance of jihad, whether globally or in a given locality…” Of course, the Iranians know all of this doctrine and history very well. The country’s constitution, in fact, dedicates its armed forces (the Army and the IRGC-Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) to “the ideological mission of jihad in the way of Allah…” So, when a senior political commentator such as Mohammad Sadeq Al-Hosseini, who lives and works in Tehran, appears on an international TV broadcast interview and refers to the agreement (however tentative) reached by the P5+1 and Iran in Geneva as a “Treaty of Hudaybiyya,” we may be sure that he has chosen his words carefully. We also may be fairly certain that the Iranian regime and its sly and smiling Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, at least tacitly agree with Al-Hosseini’s characterization.

We can only hope that someone tells senior Western leaders what the reference means, because there is no doubt that the Muslim world, especially the Sunni Muslim world, got it immediately. The Saudi royal family in particular clearly is under no illusions about Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions-and is deeply alarmed, as much over the millennialist zeal of the arch rival Shi’ite Persians as the perceived perfidy of an American administration that has just switched sides, leaving Riyadh scrambling to cobble together a new defense policy. Thus the deliberate leaks about possible discussions with Pakistan concerning a nuclear weapons capability for the Saudis and the astonishing sight of a senior member of the Saudi royal family publicly shaking hands with a top Israeli diplomat.

As Ilan Berman notes in a 17 December 2013 piece entitled “The Real Cost of Geneva,” the balance of power in the Middle East is shifting, even before Iran has demonstrated a deliverable nuclear weapons capability. The U.S. pivot towards the Shi’ite jihadis (Iranians and Hizballah) leaves erstwhile allies among the Sunni jihadis (Saudi royals) aghast. Recognizing the new rising “strong horse” in the region, smaller Sunni sheikhdoms like the United Arab Emirates already are seeking to normalize relations with Tehran. All trends are not towards stability, however. The collapse of American leadership and acquiescence to Iranian hegemony in the region instead are encouraging Israel and others to pursue their own defense strategies in ways that soon could prove deeply destabilizing.

Whether or not the nuclear negotiations with Iran yield clear results in coming weeks or drag out inconclusively for months or more, the U.S. already has signaled its willingness to allow (and even facilitate) a dangerous realignment of power in the Middle East that favors the Shi’ite axis over the Sunni one. Reactions and counter-reactions already have been set in motion that could change the geostrategic landscape, not just in the region, but globally. The Iranian commentator Mohammad Sadeq Al-Hosseini may have been projecting from a distinctly Shi’ite perspective, but as the Iranians see it, first comes the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah in Geneva, and then “it will be followed by a conquest of Mecca.”

A Year End Recap of Obama’s Foreign Policy

Obama has turned U.S. foreign policy on its head. It is hard to avoid the conclusion Obama thinks U.S. enemies (particularly Islamists) are friends and friends are enemies.

Obama threatens to veto a Congressional sanctions bill if Iran fails to end its nuclear program and Obama sides with Iran on the issue even though Iran has just announced it is building newer and faster centrifuges. The Saudi’s accuse Obama of stabbing them in the back. Undoubtedly Israel feels betrayed by Obama as well.

In his Cairo speech Obama apologized to Islam on behalf of America’s predominantly Judeo-Christian population who don’t believe they have anything to apologize for?

In Egypt Obama congratulated the Muslim Brotherhood for taking control of the country and tried to reinstate Morsi an Islamic dictator after he was expelled as a result of a popular uprising by Egyptians seeking democracy.

In Libya Obama supported the Islamists over the more secular Gaddafi. Now Libya where Ambassador Stevens and his assistants were murdered has become an Islamic terrorist haven and its weapons have been distributed to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East. .

In Syria Obama entered into an agreement with Putin and Assad which expanded Iran’s power in the region allowing Iran to extend its unique Islamic oppression and terrorism in the region. It is now reported the schedule to destroy chemical weapons will not be kept. Obama calls this a foreign policy success even though the agreement assures Assad and his killing machine will now remain in power. The death toll has risen to 130,000 Syrians and two million refugees.

Obama called Turkey’s Erdogan (a corrupt Islamic strongman) one of his five closet international friends and forced Israel an ally to apologize to Erdogan which Erdogan rejected. Erdogan’s corruption may soon force him from office.

Obama is pressing Israel to make dangerous security concessions to the Palestinians (Islamists) who call for Israel’s destruction and won’t recognize the State of Israel. The PA now refuses to negotiate with Israel.

Obama promised to reset relations with Russia. Instead it appears we are witnessing a resurgence of the ‘cold war’.

China is taking aggressive steps against U.S. interests in the Pacific and allies are very concerned.

India is retaliating against U.S. citizens and diplomats in India in response to the strip-search treatment of an Indian diplomat and a threatened prosecution

One thing is certain. Obama has reduced U.S. influence and credibility in the Middle East and around the world. America’s allies no longer trust Obama and our enemies no longer respect or fear the U.S. This may be what Obama meant when he said he was going to transform America; but it isn’t what the American people had in mind.

Al Qaeda Connections in Turkey’s Corruption Scandal?

The revelations of duplicity in the Turkish corruption investigations have apparently reached Premier Erdogan and his family.  Could these unraveling developments destabilize relations with the Obama Administration over both Iran and Syria?

Yesterday, we posted on the Turkish gas for gold scheme with Iran.   The boxes of funds uncovered by Turkish prosecutors at the state-owned Halkbank resulted in the arrest of its general manager Suleyman Aslan.

Now  there  is more on why Premier Erdogan wanted to quash investigations and prevent a prosecutor from making  arrests; possible al Qaeda connections. Those connections involve a shadowy Saudi billionaire  who  the  US has designated terrorist financier , Yasin al-Qadi.  Also involved was the Turkish intelligence service,  MIT,  and Erdogan’s son Bilal.  They conspired to use Muslim charities to channel  funds to an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Al-Nusrah Front.

What is troubling is that Turkey is a NATO member, ostensibly an ally of the US.   Obama placed great trust  in forging a  partnership  with Erdogan dealing with problems in the region.  If these reports are confirmed it raises questions about the wisdom of the Administration’s dealing with Erdogan on Iran’s nuclear program.  US policy opposes Erdogan’s  covert support  of the Al Qaeda’s  agenda in neighboring Syria.

American Enterprise Institute Middle East Scholar, Michael Rubin, in yesterday’s Commentary blog Contentions, and Today’s Zaman columnist, Emre Uslu present the background in articles   Turkey Scandal’s Al-Qaeda Angle  and Yasin al-Qadi and the Erdogan Family.

Rubin in the Contentions blog post notes the al-Qadi/Erdogan connection and Al Qaeda money laundering:

Now it seems that the corruption being exposed also has an al-Qaeda angle that harkens back to the Yasin al-Qadi affair. In that case, Cuneyt  Zapsu, a close Erdogan confidant, donated money to Qadi, a Saudi businessman designated by the U.S. Treasury Department to be a “specially designated global terrorist.” Rather than distance himself from Zapsu, the prime minister doubled down and lent Qadi his personal endorsement.

Fast forward to the present day: According to Turkish interlocutors, there are consistent irregularities in 28 government tenders totaling in the tens of billions of dollars, in which kickbacks and other payments were made, a portion of which Turkish investigators believe ended up with al-Qadi’s  funds and charities. These funds and charities were then used to support al-Qaeda affiliates and other radical Islamist groups operating in Syria like the Nusra Front. Erdogan thought he had his plausible denial, but it seems that Turkish government funds supported the growth of these groups, which are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands and which subsumed the more moderate opposition.

Uslu, in his Today’s Zaman column tells us when the al-Qadi/ Erdogan connections first surfaced:

Saudi billionaire Qadi is a well-known figure within the security bureaucracy of the West. Right after the 9/11 attacks in the US, the EU as well as many other countries froze the Saudi billionaire’s assets. In recent years, the EU and many Western countries have unfrozen his financial assets; however, security services

Last June Mr. Qadi and his close associate Qutb were involved in a traffic accident in Istanbul and taken to a hospital. When they had the traffic accident, the prime minister’s chief of security was with them in the same car. More importantly, the prime minister’s son, Bilal Erdogan, was the first person to visit them in the hospital and “cleaned” the hospital records of the fact that they had had an accident while the prime minister’s chief of security was with them.

Even the pro-government Star daily confirmed an allegation that Qadi had met with the MIT chief. After the meeting, they returned to Istanbul and were involved in the traffic accident while Prime Minister Erdo?an’s chief of security, Ibrahim Yildiz, was with them in the car.

In that piece, I questioned Mr. Qadi’s relations with the prime minister and M?T and stressed the following: “Mr. Qadi may or may not have any relations with any illegal network; that is not important. What is important is that all of these examples create a fuzzy picture for the international community as to whether Turkey has become a center of a range of illegal activities, from nuclear smuggling to money laundering and helping terrorists.” (Today’s Zaman, Sept. 29, 2013)

Uslu tells what stopped Turkish prosecutors from arresting Qadi and Qutb this past week:

The details of the investigation have been revealed to the media. Mr. Qadi and Mr. Qutb are two key figures the prosecutor had asked the police to arrest; however, the police refused to comply with the order perhaps because Ankara did not want them to listen to what the prosecutor had ordered.

It seems that the prosecutor had gotten ahold of evidence that made AKP officials so panicked that they blocked the whole investigation process and created a political crisis that has deeply affected the economy.

Now, that these nefarious al-Qadi/Erdogan connections funding Al Qaeda affiliates are out in the open, one can understand the massive protests and calls for Erdogan’s resignation in Turkey.  Will these damaging revelations in the Erdogan corruption scandals blowback against US efforts in the roiling Middle East?  Could these disclosures of Erdogan family connections with alleged  money laundering via Muslim charities to  Al Qaeda  affiliate, the Al Nusrah Front, upend the scheduled Geneva II discussions  in late January 2014  seeking a truce in the 34 month civil war in Syria?  Stay tuned.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.