Sunday, April 23, 2017

The BBC used the word "terror" without scare quotes to describe the March attack on Westminster Bridge.

The BBC had no compunctions about using the term "terror" even before the attacker was identified and before any motive was known.

Neil Turner complained to the BBC about why they consider this attack to be terrorism and not the many terror attacks against Israel.

The answer is illuminating, but not in the way the BBC intended:

Thank you for getting in touch about our report on the attack carried out on Westminster Bridge in London and please accept our apologies for the delay in our response.

The BBC sets out clear parameters on how terms such as "terrorist" might be used:

Where there is an ongoing geopolitical conflict - as in the Middle East - to use the term "terror attack" or similar might be seen to be taking sides. There are those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts.

In a situation where a country that is not involved in a direct physical combat comes under attack, it may be reasonable to construe that as a terrorist incident.

The use of such terminology is never an exact science but where a continuing conflict exists, it is reasonable that the BBC would not wish to appear to be taking sides.

Thank you again for raising this matter.
The BBC explanation that "There are those who might consider the actions of the Israeli government to be considered as terrorist acts" as justification for this policy is simple hypocrisy.

Many of those same people would also consider British airstrikes in the Middle East to be terrorism as well, so what's the difference?

There is no logic to saying that attacking Israeli civilians is not terrorism but attacking British civilians is terrorism simply because Israel happens to be located in the Middle East.

The hypocrisy doesn't end there. This explanation is at odds with the BBC's own guidelines. The link that the BBC points to makes no such distinction between whether the location of an attack is in a conflict zone or not. On the contrary, it says that reporters should avoid using the term as much as possible altogether:

We try to avoid the use of the term "terrorist" without attribution.  When we do use the term we should strive to do so with consistency in the stories we report across all our services and in a way that does not undermine our reputation for objectivity and accuracy.

The word "terrorist" itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened.  We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as "bomber", "attacker", "gunman", "kidnapper", "insurgent", and "militant".  We should not adopt other people's language as our own; our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.
The guidelines conclude "This is an issue of judgement. If you do decide to use the word 'terrorist' do so sparingly, having considered what is said above, and take advice from senior editors."

By their own standards, the Westminster Bridge incident should not have been referred to as terrorism, especially before a suspect and possible motive was uncovered.

Which means that "senior editors" have made up this new arbitrary rule about how attacks in Israel are not terror while potentially random attacks in Britain are, and they justify it by using their own anti-Israel bias claiming that Israeli military action can be considered terrorist while (by implication) identical British military actions cannot be given that title.

The BBC's use of the word "terrorist" in this case and its justification for the term in near-contradiction to its own published guidelines shows fairly clear anti-Israel bias.

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  • Sunday, April 23, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

From Ma'an:
The Fatah movement has pronounced Friday, April 28 to be a “day of rage,” and called on all Palestinians to "clash" with Israeli forces to express solidarity for an ongoing mass hunger strike underway in Israeli prisons, organized by imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi.

The official statement urged the Palestinian people to "clash with the occupier in all seam zones," referring to isolated Palestinian areas in the occupied West Bank that fall between Israel’s separation wall and the Green Line.

"The excessive practices of the Israeli occupation, particularly those of the Israel Prison Service," necessitated that "we clash with the occupier everywhere across our homeland," the statement said.
Fatah also called for a general strike to be held Thursday, April 27, which is to include "all aspects of daily life,” presumably calling for the shutdown of all businesses and institutions in the West Bank.
"Clash with the occupier everywhere across our homeland" means "attack all Jews we can."

The last time the "moderate" Fatah called for a "Day of Rage," in October 2015, Palestinians murdered three Israelis and  burned Joseph's Tomb.

I have yet to see Mahmoud Abbas ever say a word against the political party he heads nor against its own armed factions.

By the way, Fatah never recognized Israel either.

UPDATE: The day after this call for a "day of rage" a Palestinian went on a stabbing spree in Tel Aviv, wounding 4, including a 70-year old.

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Saturday, April 22, 2017

  • Saturday, April 22, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
Amir Oren is a senior correspondent and columnist for Haaretz and a member of the newspaper's editorial board.

He writes in Haaretz:
Foreign visitors stream to the White House, but there is an embarrassing emptiness there behind the power of Trump’s son-in-law-adviser, Jared Kushner, who boasted that, while waiting to board ski lifts on vacation, he read up on the Middle East on his smartphone.
The source for this story? A joke column written in The New Yorker by Andy Borowitz:

BAGHDAD (The Borowitz Report)—Jared Kushner said on Tuesday that he became “incredibly well-informed” on the Middle East by reading up on the region while waiting for the ski lift on a recent trip to Aspen.

“There would be times when you’d have to wait five or even ten minutes for the ski lift, and that’s when I’d take out my phone and read up on the Middle East,” he said. “I really got into it.”

Kushner said that the Middle East was a “truly fascinating region” because of “all the countries that they have there.”

“There is Israel, and Egypt, but there is also Yemen and places like that,” he said. “Sometimes I would start learning about a new country, but then the ski lift would come.”

Kushner said that, during a meeting on Monday in Baghdad, he “wowed” the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, with knowledge that he had gleaned about the nation while waiting for the ski lift.

“I told him that Iraq’s main agricultural products include wheat, barley, corn, and rice,” he said. “He seemed really surprised that I would know things like that.”

“Something else that’s interesting about the Middle East is there is a country called Jordan,” he added.
This is the quality of Haaretz' analysts.

UPDATE: Haaretz is still not quite sure if Borowitz is a serious reporter on this topic. They updated the article:

Foreign visitors stream to the White House, but there is an embarrassing emptiness there behind the power of Trump’s son-in-law-adviser, Jared Kushner. The senior adviser boasted that (according to reports, that some say were satirical), while waiting to board ski lifts on vacation, he read up on the Middle East on his smartphone.
Some say Haaretz is an actual newspaper.

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From Ian:

Gaza: Let Their People Go!
“If the borders opened for one hour, 100,000 young people would leave Gaza.”
— Rashid al-Najja, vice dean, Gaza’s Al-Azhar University.
“…I’d go to Somalia, Sudan — anywhere but here.”
— Salim Marifi, student at Gaza’s Al-Azhar University, Al Jazeera, May 6 2015.
“96 percent of water in the Gaza Strip is now undrinkable.”
— i24 News, April 9, 2017.
“Each day, millions of gallons of raw sewage pour into the Gaza Strip’s Mediterranean beachfront … turning miles of once-scenic coastline into a stagnant dead zone.”
— Associated Press, May 3, 2016.
“Gaza’s sole power plant runs out of fuel.”
— Times of Israel, April 16, 2017.
The endeavor to transform the coastal enclave of the Gaza Strip into a self-governing Arab entity (or even part of such an entity) has failed.
It has failed resoundingly and irretrievably.
After two and a half decades of futile effort, the time has come to accept this, and to acknowledge that further pursuit of this ill-conceived objective will only compound the current tragedy — for both Jew and Arab alike.
Incapable and uninterested
With the passage of time, it has become increasingly clear that, as a collective, the Palestinian Arabs in general and the Gazan Arabs in particular are totally incapable of and largely uninterested in creating and sustaining an independent political entity for themselves, by themselves.
Underscoring this dour assessment is the increasingly frequent and ominous flow of reports warning of imminent collapse of virtually all the basic infrastructure in Gaza — electric power, water, sewage and sanitation system — and the impending catastrophe this precipitates.
Dore Gold: The Legacy of the Taliban: Sunni Allies of Tehran
The U.S. decision to drop an 11-ton bomb, known as the “mother of all bombs,” in Afghanistan against an ISIS target brought back into focus that entire war and the fact that, aside from the problem of ISIS, there has still been a problem in Afghanistan of the Taliban.
How did the Taliban become so significant over the last number of years since the 9/11 attacks? It’s important to remember that the Taliban are as much a problem as the terror organizations that have congregated on Afghan soil. Taliban policies since the late 1990s involved a number of acts which they undertook which have undermined not just the security of the Middle East but also the security of the world. Of course it was the Taliban who gave sanctuary to Osama bin Laden and to al-Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks. They were originally located or protected by the regime in Sudan, but then in the mid-90s, bin Laden moved to Afghanistan where the Taliban had taken control and offered him a location for his training camps. It was there that bin Laden planned and implemented the horrible attack on the United States – against New York and against Washington, D.C.
One thing we’ve learned from this entire experience is that the West must not allow terror sanctuaries to grow, to thrive, and to be used to plan attacks against the West. That is the first lesson from the experience the West has had with the Taliban.
There’s a second experience with the Taliban that should be recalled. In March 2001, the Taliban decided to dynamite Buddhist statues in the Bamiyan Valley in Afghanistan that were 2,000 years old. These statues were located along the Silk Route and they were treasured by adherents of Buddhism, but all of a sudden the Taliban decided to attack these religious sites. The Taliban attack actually induced a debate in many radical Islamic circles about whether it was the right thing to do. At first, for example, the spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, thought it would be a mistake for the Taliban to attack the Buddhas because it would set up Muslims to be assaulted in Buddhist countries. Later, Qaradawi and others said, “You know what? The attack on these pre-Islamic sites was the right thing to do” and there was even a discussion about destroying pre-Islamic sites in Egypt like the pyramids and the Sphinx.
Paris cop killed in Champs-Élysées shooting was gay rights advocate who responded to 2015 terror attack
The Paris police officer slain in Thursday’s attack on a popular street has been identified as a gay rights advocate who responded to the city’s deadly November 2015 terror attack.
Xavier Jugelé, 37, was killed when a gunman unleashed a hail of bullets at police officers at the Champs-Élysées Thursday night.
Flag!, an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender French police officers, confirmed to The Associated Press that Jugelé the killed officer. He was a member of the organization and took part of protests against anti-gay propaganda at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia.
“He was a simple man who loved his job, and he was really committed to the L.G.B.T. cause,” Mickael Bucheron, Flag! president, told The New York Times. “He joined the association a few years ago, and he protested with us when there was the homosexual propaganda ban at the Sochi Olympic Games.”
Mourners embrace the day after a fatal shooting left one police officer dead and two others wounded at the Champs-Elysees on April 20, 2017. The gunman reportedly targeted the officers after he got out of a car and opened fire on them.
28 photos view gallery
Jugelé, who would’ve turned 38 next month, joined the police force in 2010, according to reports.

Friday, April 21, 2017

From Ian:

A Pathetic 2017 for BDS
I was beginning to feel a little sorry for campus boycott activists. After all, if any year was going to be their year, it was 2017. You would think that even the most poisonous variants of the politics of the left would do reasonably well in the atmosphere created by the surprise victory of Donald Trump.
Yet the campus BDS movement this year, until recently, had notched wins solely at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, which has been passing divestment resolutions with wearying regularity since 2004, and the University of California-Riverside, where a symbolic and ineffectual blow against Sabra Hummus was struck. Meanwhile, BDS activists lost at Ohio State (for a third time), University of Illinois-Urbana, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Columbia University.
But Passover did bring news of two BDS wins. At Tufts University, in a vote announced four days in advance, and held the day before Passover, the student government called on Tufts to divest from certain companies alleged to be involved in human rights violations against Palestinians. The timing of the vote led not only the Anti-Defamation League but also the president of Tufts to express concern that the supporters of the resolution chose to put it on the agenda when, you know, the Jews would be out of town.
How Anne Frank Was Astro-Turfed
There is, of course, nothing nefarious about accomplished civil rights activists moving from one organization to another, and there is nothing wrong with anyone engaging in civic opposition. Moreover, as a steadfast and vocal critic of the Trump administration and its misdeeds, I’m the first to applaud any organization that does serious and conscientious work to guarantee that no rights are trampled and no group threatened by any decree, design, or mishap.
But there’s something wrong with using a universal icon of innocent suffering to costume a sock puppet in partisan politics. Those opposing Gorka and “resisting” Trump must learn how to behave like serious political adults. If they have arguments against Gorka’s proposed policies or his professional credentials, bring them forth and debate their merits. Hiding behind the moral mantle of a dead Jewish girl while calling someone a Nazi with absolutely no evidence is just plain revolting.
And, in the age of social media, it’s also plain dangerous. With so many soapboxes on which to stand and shout these days, it’s easy enough for anyone to simply create organizations that claim to represent entire constituencies and then use them to validate and promote their agenda. No track record is necessary, and no real supporters necessary—all you need is some funding and a good brand name and you’re off to the races. It’s the sort of icky top-down skullduggery that liberals have for decades been accusing conservatives of practicing with impunity, and it uses Facebook, Twitter, and other amplifiers to short-circuit the traditional and essential kind of political coalition-building predicated on actual affinity by real people with real lives and real ideas.
If the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect—which is now at best tangentially associated with the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam—wants, as it claims, to bring about the “kinder and fairer world of which Anne Frank dreamed,” it should probably dedicate itself to the less glamorous work of correcting ahistorical comments, avoiding ugly witch hunts, and teaching others how to avoid meaningless political theater. Anne Frank has suffered enough.
NGO Monitor: Whitewashing “Resistance” – Human Rights Funding to Organizations Blurring the Lines Between Violence and Nonviolence
Executive Summary (Click for PDF Version of this report)
  • A number of government-funded Palestinian and European NGOs repeatedly manipulate human rights through the use of “resistance” rhetoric, blurring the lines between violence and nonviolence, denigrating security concerns, and legitimizing attacks against civilians. Some of these groups also have ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) – a designated terrorist organization by the EU, U.S., Canada, and Israel.
  • “Resistance” is the term used by Palestinians to refer to armed groups that carry out attacks on Israel, including the PFLP, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad, and is used in this way by many of the NGOs discussed in this report.
  • Spanish NGO Novact – funded by Spain, the EU, and the UN – invited Palestinian NGO activists Munther Amira and Manal Tamimi to an EU-funded conference on “preventing violent extremism.” Tamimi has incited violence and glorified terrorism numerous times on Twitter, tweeting in September 2015: “Vampire zionist celebrating their Kebore day by drinking Palestinian bloods, yes our blood is pure & delicious but it will kill u at the end.” Amira has described a violent demonstration organized by him as part of a “struggle against the Nazi occupation.” Both Amira and Tamimi were arrested upon arrival in Barcelona for suspected terrorist activities.
  • Palestinian NGO PASSIA implements a project together with the German public-benefit federal enterprise GIZ. PASSIA calls the wave of stabbings that began in October 2015 as a “youth uprising” and refers to “Palestinian martyr, Baha Eleyan,” who was one of two murderers to board a bus in Jerusalem in October 2015 armed with a gun and a knife, killing three and injuring seven.
  • The NGO ties to the PFLP range from establishment and operation of NGOs by the PFLP itself to NGO officials and staffers being convicted of terrorism charges by Israeli courts. Some of these individuals have been denied entry and exit visas by Israeli (and Jordanian) authorities due to security concerns.
  • Donors to the PFLP-linked NGOs include the EU, the governments of Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Norway, Ireland, UK, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, and Switzerland, and the United Nations.

  • Friday, April 21, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
From the BDS Movement website:
The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has defined normalization specifically in a Palestinian and Arab context “as the participation in any project, initiative or activity, in Palestine or internationally, that aims (implicitly or explicitly) to bring together Palestinians (and/or Arabs) and Israelis (people or institutions) without placing as its goal resistance to and exposure of the Israeli occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression against the Palestinian people.” This is the definition endorsed by the BDS National Committee (BNC).
Oh well:
In a bid to improve the climate between Israelis and Palestinians, US President Donald Trump’s envoy to the peace process on Thursday hosted a video conference with officials and businessmen from both sides to discuss ways to boost the Palestinian economy.

“The discussion followed up on recent US consultations with Israeli and Palestinian business representatives, as well as with Israeli and Palestinian Authority officials, and focused on concrete private sector initiatives which would create new opportunities for growth, and meaningfully improve the Palestinian economy and the quality of life for Palestinians, thereby helping to foster an atmosphere more conducive to peace,” according to a readout provided by US Embassy in Tel Aviv.

Led by Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, the American delegation to the video conference also included National Security Council staff and State Department officials.

Israeli and Palestinian “private sector leaders” and officials participated in the event, which was billed as “part of the Trump Administration’s broader efforts to advance a genuine and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
This violates not only BDS guidelines, but Palestinian Authority demands as well that their people have no contact with Israelis outside of anti-Israel activities.

What happened to their principles?

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From Ian:

Exploited by the enemy
Two Gazan women were caught on Wednesday smuggling explosives from Gaza into Israel for Hamas. The sisters hid the weapons in medical supplies they had been given in Israel, after one had been treated here for cancer.
Last month, Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan revealed that Hamas was using Gazan cancer victims as mules to smuggle money and gold into Israel to finance terrorist operations.
Everyone remembers Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss, the 21-year-old Palestinian woman from Gaza who in 2005 was caught wearing 10 kilo of explosives in her underwear, en route to blowup Soroka-University Medical Center in Beersheba where she was being treated for burns.
She admitted to being recruited by Fatah’s Aksa Martyrs Brigade, and added that she had wanted to kill as many Israeli children in the hospital as possible.
Despite the security risk, Israel annually allows tens of thousands of Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip for medical treatment in Israel (and in the West Bank and Jordan).
I know this firsthand. For a decade I served as a public affairs and development officer at Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, the largest hospital in the Middle East. At any given time, one-quarter of all patients in that institution’s Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital are Arabs from Gaza.
Barry Shaw: When Palestinians Kill Palestinians
A frustrated Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s defense minister, criticized the United Nations in a recent phone call with its Middle East envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, for ignoring the ongoing issue of Palestinians killing Palestinians, while “on the other hand, condemning Israel’s justified actions against terrorism.”
Lieberman was referring to the recent killings in Ein El-Hilweh — a predominately Palestinian enclave in Lebanon that has become a battleground for a power struggle among intra-sectarian rivals.
Earlier this month, fighting between the Palestinian Fatah party and a Sunni Islamist group in Lebanon left at least four people dead, and dozens more wounded. Meanwhile, in Gaza, Hamas executed three men for allegedly collaborating with Israel — a ploy regularly used by Hamas to dispose of rival faction members.
To be fair, Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights, did say that those murders “were carried out in breach of Palestinian’s obligations under international law…which places stringent conditions on the use of the death penalty,” and even Mladenov issued a statement saying that he was “deeply concerned” by the growing tensions in Gaza.
But the fact remains that when Palestinians are not killing Israelis, they are killing each other.
Caroline Glick: Turkey and Trump’s unpredictability
As Friedman explained, when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded modern Turkey after World War I on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and its caliphate, he recognized that he couldn’t change the way that his people viewed the world.
Rather than reform Islam, Atatürk repressed it. The secular democratic regime he created rested on the coercive power of the military, not on the consent of the governed.
Erdogan’s rise to power, in contrast was predicated on popular support for his anti-secular, Islamic worldview.
To secure that support, Erdogan periodically signaled his intentions.
For instance, as mayor of Istanbul, in 1997 Erdogan recited a poem at a political rally that included the lines, “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”
For doing so, Erdogan was arrested, tried and convicted of inciting religious hatred. He was imprisoned for four months. His party was outlawed and he was banned from politics for life.
For Westerners, the regime’s treatment of the mayor of a major city was inconceivable. All he did was read a poem, after all.
But for the Turkish secularists, the move against Erdogan made perfect sense. The lines he recited were an encapsulation of a plan to undermine the secular regime and replace it with a totalitarian Islamic one.
Due in part to the West’s response to his arrest and conviction, Erdogan has used the US and Europe as allies in his bid to win and consolidate power.

  • Friday, April 21, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

When Ahlam Tamimi admitted, with a smile on her face, to her part in the Sbarro massacre -- 15 killed and 140 injured -- what did Sharia law have to say about that?

Does Sharia commend terrorism?

In his book, Understanding Islamic Law, Raj Bhala posits that unlike the American definition of terrorism -- which incorporates motivation as part of the definition -- Islamic law, as defined for example in the 1998 Arab Convention, states that motivation does not matter and defines terrorism as:
Any act or threat of violence, whatever its motives or purposes, that occurs for the advancement of an individual or collective criminal agenda, causing terror among people, causing fear by harming them, or placing their lives, liberty or security in danger, or aiming to cause damage to the environment or to public or private installations or property or to occupy or to seize them, or aiming to jeopardize a national resource.
The problem with a definition that ignores motivation arises in Bhala's own attempt to describe terrorism:
Islam takes a strong position against terrorism, and like the modern American legal regime, is grounded in Criminal Law. What would be called "terrorism" today is a crime against the public order (hirabah), i.e., an act that threatens the security of society. Such acts include highway robbery (kat' al-tarik), but are not be [sic] limited to that example.
Is highway robbery an appropriate example of terrorism?

Going a step further, Bhala quotes a passage from the Koran (5:33), to support his contention about Islam's opposition to terrorism:
Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot, or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter, unless they repent before you over power them: in that case bear in mind that God is forgiving and merciful.
The passage is at best problematic.

Is "terrorism" what the Koran has in mind when it speaks about spreading corruption? It may well describe highway robbery, but not the kind of attacks that we have in mind when we talk about terrorism.

More jarring is Bhala's own description, where he writes "In brief, the punishment for the spreading of mischief and terrorism is severe..."terrorism," understood in the Qur'anic sense of spreading mischief through the land, never is condoned..." Mischief is an appropriate term for harm or trouble, but seems to fall short for the topic of terrorism.

More importantly, a key element that is missing here is the focus of the attack. The Koran seems to focus internally on Muslim vs Muslim violence. In the context of Islam, when we discuss terrorism we are referring to Muslim vs Non-Muslim violence.

Bernard Lewis addresses this issue in his 2003 book The Crisis of Islam, especially in terms of the approach taken by the religious leaders who justify the terrorist attacks of Al Qaeda, fundamentalism of the Saudis and institutionalized revolution of Iran:
All these different extremist groups sanctify their action through pious references to Islamic texts, notably the Qur'an and the traditions of the Prophet, and all three claim to represent a truer, purer, and more authentic Islam than that currently practiced by the vast majority of Muslims and endorsed by most though not all of the religious leadership. They are, however, highly selective in their choice and interpretation of sacred texts. (p. 138)
Bernard Lewis. Credit: Wikipedia

Going from generalities to specifics, Lewis addresses the problem with suicide bombers, applicable to the terrorist who blew himself up in the Sbarro restaurant:
Those who are killed in the jihad are called martyrs, in Arabic and other Muslim languages shahid...The Arabic term shahid also means "witness" and is usually translated "martyr," but it has a rather different connotation. In Islamic usage the term martyrdom is normally interpreted to mean death in a jihad and reward is eternal bliss, described in some detail in early religious texts. Suicide, by contrast, is a mortal sin and earns eternal damnation, even for those who would otherwise have earned a place in paradise. The classical jurists distinguish clearly between facing certain death at the hands of the enemy and killing oneself by one's own hand. The one leads to heaven, the other to hell. Some recent fundamentalist jurists and others have blurred or even dismissed this distinction, but their view is by no means unanimously accepted. The suicide bomber is thus taking a considerable risk on a theological nicety. (p38-39 emphasis added)
Beyond issues of theology, Lewis points out that Sharia law addresses who can be targeted:
Because holy war is an obligation of the faith, it is elaborately regulated in the sharia. Fighters in a jihad are enjoined not to kill women, children, and the aged unless they attack first, not to torture or mutilate prisoner, to give fair warning of the resumption of hostilities after a truce, and to honor agreements.
And because of the issue of who can be targeted, Islamic law also discusses what constitutes proper weapons:
...The medieval jurists and theologians discuss at some length the rules of warfare, including questions such as which weapons are permitted and which are not. There is even some discussion in medieval texts of the lawfulness of missile and chemical warfare, the one relating to mangonels and catapults, the other to poison-tipped arrows and the poisoning of enemy water supplies. On these points there is considerable variation. Some jurists permit, some restrict, some disapprove of the use of these weapons. The stated reason for concern is the indiscriminate casualties that they inflict. [emphasis added]
These are issues that more than theoretical. The terrorist who blew himself up at the Sbarro restaurant is dead.

The terrorist who masterminded the terrorist attack, Ahlam Tamimi, is alive and has found haven in Jordan.

None of the issues outlined above were of any concern to her:

But what about Jordan's King Abdullah?

What are his thoughts about the Islamic attitude towards terrorism?

We can get an idea of King Abdullah's thinking on terrorism by looking at The Amman Message:
The Amman Message started as a detailed statement released the eve of the 27th of Ramadan 1425 AH / 9th November 2004 CE by H.M. King Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein in Amman, Jordan. It sought to declare what Islam is and what it is not, and what actions represent it and what actions do not. Its goal was to clarify to the modern world the true nature of Islam and the nature of true Islam.
According to the summary, the apparent consensus that was reached:
thus assures balanced Islamic solutions for essential issues like human rights; women’s rights; freedom of religion; legitimate jihad; good citizenship of Muslims in non-Muslim countries, and just and democratic government. It also exposes the illegitimate opinions of radical fundamentalists and terrorists from the point of view of true Islam. As George Yeo, the Foreign Minister of Singapore, declared in the 60th Session of the U.N. General Assembly (about the Amman Message): “Without this clarification, the war against terrorism would be much harder to fight.”
So far, so good.

In the full text, the Amman Message addresses the issue of terrorism as follows:
On religious and moral grounds, we denounce the contemporary concept of terrorism that is associated with wrongful practices, whatever their source and form may be. Such acts are represented by aggression against human life in an oppressive form that transgresses the rulings of God, frightening those who are secure, violating peaceful civilians, finishing off the wounded, and killing prisoners; and they employ unethical means, such as destroying buildings and ransacking cities: Do not kill the soul that God has made sacrosanct, save for justice. (6:151)

We condemn these practices and believe that resisting oppression and confirming justice should be a legitimate undertaking through legitimate means. We call on the people to take the necessary steps to achieve the strength and steadfastness for building identity and preserving rights.

We realize that over history extremism has been instrumental in destroying noble achievements in great civilizations, and that the tree of civilization withers when malice takes hold and breasts are shut. In all its shapes, extremism is a stranger to Islam, which is founded upon equanimity and tolerance. No human whose heart has been illumined by God could be a radical extremist.

At the same time, we decry the campaign of brazen distortion that portrays Islam as a religion that encourages violence and institutionalizes terrorism. We call upon the international community to work earnestly to implement inter-national laws and honor the international mandates and resolutions issued by the United Nations, ensuring that all parties accept them and that they be enacted without double standards, to guarantee the return of rights to their [rightful] holders and the end of oppression. Achieving this will be a significant contribution to uprooting the causes of violence, fanaticism and extremism. [emphasis added]
On the one hand, terrorism is condemned in the context of "resisting oppression," with an emphasis on pursuing justice as "a legitimate undertaking through legitimate means." On the other hand, the International Islamic Fiqh Academy met in Jordan just 18 months later and issued Resolution 154: Islam’s Position on Extremism, Radicalism, and Terrorism, linked to from the Amman Message site itself, which states:
There is a distinction between terrorism and legitimate resistance to occupation through legally accepted means, because the latter is for the purposes of removing tyranny and reclaiming lost rights. This is a right recognized by law and by reason, and is affirmed by international treaties...We reaffirm what has already been mentioned above in this resolution, namely that struggle (Jihad) to defend Islamic belief, and to protect or liberate one’s country from foreign occupation is not terrorism, so long as that struggle follows the rulings of Islamic law..
This appears to leave the door open for terrorism when framed as "resistance" withing the same Islamic law that supposedly condemns terrorism.

Similarly, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross writes in his analysis of the Amman Message, The Role of Consensus in the Contemporary Struggle for Islam
Most significant, the circumstances under which the use of force is justified-self-defense, the protection of sovereignty, and "in defense of all innocent people"-are never explained. Are roadside bomb attacks against coalition forces in Iraq justified defenses of sovereignty? What about suicide bombings in Israel? Some very prominent Islamic scholars would answer yes to both questions-and, unfortunately, there is reason to believe that their ranks include signatories of the Amman Message's takfir document.
He points to King Abdullah's comments to that same International Islamic Fiqh Academy that issued resolution 154, where King Abdullah appeared to endorse the use of terrorism against Israel:
We believe that the grief which affects us will affect you, because in Amman you are close to the grief of Iraq to the east, as the people of Iraq undergo a great struggle, and you are close to the grief of the Palestinians to the west, as the blessed al-Aqsa mosque, the first qiblah and third in the triad of Holy Places, suffers under occupation.

King Abdullah addressing the Opening Plenary session of the
World Economic Forum in 2008. Credit: World Economic Forum

Gartenstein-Ross also notes the absence in the Amman Message of a definition of non-combatants -- a point relevant to defining the approach of Sharia Law to the Sbarro massacre. He points out that while the document hints that non-combatants are not legitimate targets of war, Yusuf Qaradawi -- who signed the document -- has claimed that all Israelis are legitimate targets due to conscription in Israel, so that there are no "civilians" in Israel.

Apparently Qaradawi does not apply the same logic to Gaza, where little children are encouraged to sing about killing Israelis and act out attacks and killings with a goal towards training to do the real thing.

The apparent lack of a united Muslim opposition to Islamic terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians is evident elsewhere as well.

Buzzfeed ran an article last year praising Heraa Hashmi, a 19 year old student who developed a Google spreadsheet to prove that Muslims condemn terrorism. If you open her Worldwide Muslims Condemn List and do a search for Israel, you will find that other than links to articles accusing the Simon Wiesenthal Center of desecrating the Mamilla cemetery in Jerusalem, there is a broken link to Leading Muslim Scholars Condemn Racism and Intolerance at the Durban II Conference available elsewhere. The article does refer to Israel, twice. However, the condemnation to racism and intolerance is a general one.

The website created from the spreadsheet, Muslims Condemn lists 20 popular searches -- none of them having to do with Israel. A search for "terrorism" gives a very long list that seemed endless. A search for "Israel" turns up 8 hits: 4 links to the Mamilla cemetery, 1 to ISIS, 1 to Climate Change and 2 to condemnations of Terrorism. A search for "Israel" and "terrorism" turns up just those 2 links. While clicking on hits tend to provide genuine links, for these 2 hits, clicking on them leads to a page giving as the "source" not a link to an article but just the text "Acommonword"

No doubt there have been condemnations, but the vast majority are directed to terrorist attacks other than those against Israeli civilians.

This tends to corroborate Raymond Ibrahim, who in his 2008 article Studying the Islamic Way of War, contradicts what Bernard Lewis writes about the Islamic attitude towards war and non-combatants:
For instance, based on the words and deeds of Muhammad, most schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree that the following are all legitimate during war against the infidel: the indiscriminate use of missile weaponry, even if women and children are present (catapults in Muhammad’s seventh century context; hijacked planes or WMD today); the need to always deceive the enemy and even break formal treaties whenever possible (see Sahih Muslim 15: 4057); and that the only function of the peace treaty, or “hudna,” is to give the Islamic armies time to regroup for a renewed offensive, and should, in theory, last no more than ten years. [emphasis added]
So where does that leave us today regarding Sharia Law and terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians in general -- and particularly the attitude of Islamic law towards Ahlam Tamimi's masterminding of the massacre at the Sbarro restaurant?

It turns out that theree is no single authoritative statement in Sharia law that clearly condemns terrorism, no matter where it occurs.

However, we know that Jordan abided by its extradition treaty with the US in 1995, when it handed over the terrorist who drove a van full of explosives into the garage of the World Trade Center in 1993. If King Abdullah, whose father King Hussein, saw to it that Jordan respected that treaty, really wants to demonstrate that Islam condemns terrorism, his choice is clear. Muslim condemnation of terrorism as long as it does not occur in Israel turns those Muslim condemnations into a sham.

In order to send a clear message that Sharia law today condemns the murder of women and children by Ahlam Tamimi and condemns terrorism in general, King Abdullah must extradite Ahlam Tamimi to the United States.

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  • Friday, April 21, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
Amnesty International has a report that was released to coincide with this hunger strike, yet not one of the prisoners' demands are listed by Amnesty as being a violation of international law. (Amnesty does claim that having the prisons in Israel instead of the territories is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, but relocating the prisons is not one of the prisoner demands. One can imagine the outcry if Israel would build prisons in the territories!)

What may be more interesting was  Amnesty's choice to highlight this pull quote in their report:

Since the title of the report is "Israel must end ‘unlawful and cruel’ policies towards Palestinian prisoners," anyone glancing at this page and this featured quote would assume that a prisoner is claiming that Israel is torturing them. An unsubstantiated quote of that sort would be egregious enough if that is what this was.

But if you bother to look at the nearly unreadable grayed-out source, you see that this accusation of "torture" is not by a prisoner, but from a prisoner's sister, saying that Israeli restrictions on her visiting her brother is "torture" and punishment.

It is obvious that calling restrictions on unlimited visits "torture" is ludicrous. To highlight that accusation as a key takeaway in the report is massively deceptive.

Clearly, Amnesty had next to nothing to accuse Israel of, and instead it went to its usual Plan B, to quote anonymous people who accuse Israel of horrible things without Amnesty having to actually verify anything. It pushes lies and propaganda while avoiding lying outright.

Just another reason that Amnesty has no credibility as a moral force.

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  • Friday, April 21, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
Al Jazeera characterizes the demands of Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike as "basic rights."

The article itself mentions that the conditions are dire:

"They have central demands and will continue to fast until they achieve them. The prisoners see hunger striking as the only door they can knock on to attain their rights," Amina al-Taweel, the centre's spokesperson, told Al Jazeera.

"Even though it is one of the most dangerous and difficult decisions, they are only making this choice because conditions [inside the prisons] have reached a new low," said al-Taweel.

What are these "basic rights" that the prisoners are demanding?

They include:

Adding satellite channels "tailored to the needs of prisoners"
Restoring classes at Hebrew University
Installation of a public telephone in all prisons to allow communication with relatives
Allowing second-degree relatives to visit
Allowing children and grandchildren under 16 to visit
Increasing duration of the visits from 45 minutes to 90 minutes
Allowing prisoners to take photographs with their families every three months
Installing air conditioners in prisons
Restoring kitchens for use by prisoners under the exclusive supervision of the prisoners themselves
Allowing detainees to keep their own books, newspapers and clothes that families bring
Ending solitary confinement

"Basic rights."

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Peter Beinart tries to snow his readers in his latest piece for the Forward. See if you can spot his sleight of hand as he describes Israeli political reaction to the New York Times publishing an op-ed by Marwan Barghouti:

[Michael Oren believes] because Barghouti was convicted of terrorism, his cause is illegitimate, even monstrous. The problem with this argument is that it doesn’t only explain why Marwan Barghouti isn’t Nelson Mandela. It explains why Nelson Mandela isn’t Nelson Mandela either.

A decade earlier, when the Oslo Peace Process began, [Barghouti] had declared the era of military resistance over. “The armed struggle,” he claimed in 1994, “is no longer an option for us.”
Barghouti’s shift, which led him to play an active role in the second intifada, constituted a tragic mistake, even a crime, against both Palestinians and Israelis. I’m not justifying it. But he’s not the only national leader to have embraced armed struggle after losing faith in non-violence. Mandela did too.
Beinart, whose parents were born in South Africa, knows very well that the analogy doesn't hold water - so he tells half-truths to create it.

Mandela was imprisoned in 1964 for sabotage against South Africa's power grid and plotting to overthrow the government. No one was injured, let alone killed, by his actions.

Yes, he supported violence against the state. Yes, sometimes ANC violence killed civilians. But Mandela was not a murderer and the ANC that he led never claimed to target civilians.

Barghouti, on the other hand, has been convicted of five murders - and more.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs summed up Barghouti's record:
Barghouti was convicted in a criminal suit in Israeli district court on five separate counts of murder of innocent civilians.
·       Crimes orchestrated by Barghouti include: The murder of Greek monk Tsibouktsakis Germanus in Jerusalem on June 12, 2001; the murder of Yoela Hen in Jeruslaem on January 15, 2002; and the murder of Eli Dahan, Yosef Habi, and Salim Barakat in Tel Aviv on March 5, 2002.
·       He was acquitted of 21 counts of murder in 33 other attacks, due to lack of sufficient evidence.
·       Barghouti was the founder and senior official of the designated terrorist group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which was responsible for massacring dozens of Israelis in suicide bombings and shooting attacks during the Second Intifada (2001-2005).
·       Barghouti also served as the head of the Tanzim, an armed faction in Fatah that carried out attacks on Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada.
·       During his trials, Barghouti showed no remorse for the murders he committed.
There is a big difference between the two.

Furthermore, the New York Times, knowing Barghouti was a murderer, didn't let that influence its decision to publish his accusations against Israel (of torturing him, for example) as if they were factual. He clearly lied about prison conditions and about Israel arresting 800,000 Palestinians since 1967.

Why should a murderer be believed to write the truth in any venue, let alone in the pages of the major US newspaper?

Moreover, Mandela clearly changed from his support for violence when he became a political leader. Barghouti is not a leader and has not showed any remorse for his murders.

Beinart's article is actually far worse. He knows that despite Mandela's history of supporting violence, he is viewed nowadays (rightly or wrongly) as a near-saint. And Beinart's intent is to make the reader feel the same way about Barghouti that most Westerners feel about Mandela. See how Beinart ends his article as he pretends that his sickening argument has gone full circle:
“I was called a terrorist yesterday,” Mandela once said, “but when I came out of jail, many people embraced me, including my enemies, and that is what I normally tell other people who say those who are struggling for liberation in their country are terrorists.”

Do you hear that, Michael Oren? He’s talking to you.
There is no other way to read this than to say that Peter Beinart is trying to whitewash the actions of a terrorist who is responsible for the murders of many people, directly and indirectly.

Despite his halfhearted caveats and perverted downplaying of Barghouti's murderous terror as "a tragic mistake" - as if his victims died in car accidents -  this essay shows that Peter Beinart is an apologist for terror.

(h/t EBoZ)

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From Ian:

Scientists Take a Stand Against Academic Boycotts of Israel
More than 100 Boston-area researchers in health care and life sciences released a statement April 13 in defense of “the liberal ideals which have shaped our democracy” and in support of “the free flow of ideas and information” that is central to their work. Why affirm something so obvious? To stop academic blacklisting by the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement, which targets Israeli universities and scholars.
Attempts to isolate Israel and its educational institutions aren’t new. In 1945 the Arab League declared that all Arab institutions and individuals must “refuse to deal in, distribute, or consume Zionist products of manufactured goods.” The original boycott soon extended to entities that traded with Israel. This did great economic and political damage until the U.S. Congress in 1977 prohibited American companies from cooperating with it, as some were doing. Only U.S. prohibition of the prohibition had the force to guarantee free international trade.
In 2002, a group of professors from Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology were among the first academics to advocate divesting from Israel. Two years later the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel was founded with the explicit purpose of isolating Israeli academics and institutions. Its goal was to deny Israeli scholars access to scholarly conferences, journals and employment opportunities. The boycott also includes keeping unwelcome speakers and information from campus to maintain Israel as the permanent object of blame.
The campaign’s efforts paid off in the U.S., where the American Studies Association and the National Women’s Studies Association approved boycotts in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Academic associations that have so far voted such resolutions down—the American Anthropological Association, Modern Language Association and American Historical Association—introduce new ones every year. Only through a concerted effort by school administration can universities remain free spaces. Jewish students should not be expected to bear the full brunt of attack by those who import the Arab-Muslim war against Israel into the American campus.
Nikki Haley urges UN to shift its criticism from Israel to Iran
It’s high time the United Nations Security Council set its sights on Iran, rather than Israel, United States Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said Thursday during the Security Council’s monthly meeting on “the Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.”
“Every month the Security Council convenes a meeting on the Middle East. We have lots of meetings on specific countries and conflicts in this region but this debate is our opportunity to talk about the Middle East as a whole. Regrettably, these monthly meetings routinely turn into Israel-bashing sessions. That’s the way the Security Council has operated for years. It’s a formula that is absurdly biased against one country. It’s a formula that is painfully narrow in its description of the conflicts in the region,” said Haley, who is this month’s president of the Security Council.
In her remarks before the 15-member council, Haley condemned Iran, which she said is responsible for regional tumult, from meddling in Yemen and Syria, to its support of Hezbollah.
“Iran is using Hezbollah to expand its regional aspirations. That is a threat that should be dominating our discussions at the Security Council,” she said.
Since Haley assumed her post in January with the promise that there “is a new sheriff in town,” she has repeatedly chastised the UN for what she says is its Israel obsession and anti-Israel bias.
Rabbi Sacks on The Mutation of Antisemitism
In recent months and years we have seen the return and rise of antisemitism across Europe and around the world. But how has antisemitism mutated over time? And why does its return today present a danger not just for Jews, but for all who care about our common humanity? Please watch and share my new whiteboard animation and this important message.

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This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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