Converting The Ayatollahs

Over the past centuries, Western diplomats have continually projected pragmatism onto their ideological opponents. They have often assumed that our enemies are driven by the same sort of national interest calculations that motivate most regimes. They have assumed that economic interests would trump ideology and religion — that prudent calculation and statecraft would trump megalomania.

They assumed that the world leaders before 1914 would not be stupid enough to allow nationalist passion to plunge them into a World War; that Hitler would not be crazy enough to start a second one; that Islamic radicals could not really want to send their region back into the 12th century; that Sunnis and Shiites would never let their sectarian feud turn into a cataclysmic confrontation in places like Iraq.

The Obama administration is making a similar projection today. It is betting that Iran can turn into a fundamentally normal regime, which can be counted upon to put G.D.P. over ideology and religion and do the pragmatic thing. [...]

Click here for the complete article by David Brooks.

Posted in America, Iran, Obama-Watch

The Problem With Moderate Muslims

For the past six month the president of the US has taken it upon himself to defend Islam as a religion and a culture. One State Department spokesperson made a statement suggesting that lack of job opportunities is a major reason for beheadings and cruel violence. All of this is not just shocking because of how irrelevant it is, but it’s shocking because the will to avoid addressing the problem is so big that the president of the United States had to personally deviate from his federal job description and give speeches about what Islam is and what it is not. Our desire to reassure ourselves that all people are as nice as us is so great that we are changing the ways we conduct our business. That is why I want to share some thoughts on the issue of Islam and Islamic moderation.

To deny the existence of moderate Muslims is, beyond any reasonable doubt, an anti-Muslim prejudice. Not only that, but it’s most certainly destructive to any efforts to counter Islamic extremism. A world with no moderate Muslims is inconceivable. Check out these long quotes from an open letter from Ani Zonneveld, a Malaysian-born Muslim, published on the AlJazeera website: [...]

Click here for the complete article by Hussein Aboubakr.

Posted in Islam, Obama-Watch

The Real Threat To Europe

The late Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, predicted that Islam would conquer Europe without even firing a shot. To understand and explain the fate awaiting Europe, it is necessary to listen seriously to what the upper echelons of Islam say to each about their own intentions — in Arabic. These messages are quite different from those on Western television. What they say to one another is that the mission of Islam is to lead the whole world and eradicate all other religions, as they have been made irrelevant by the Qur’an.

Their doctrine appears openly and without reservation in books and on websites. It is spread in local languages in mosques by the imams in their communities throughout Europe. These communities operate according to an ancient Islamic code: They command immigration; then the forming of enclaves in the host country, then the eventual violent takeover of the host.

Once this process is complete, all the Islamic communities will unite to form the Islamic Caliphate. It will have no borders and no other identity. Then there will be Peace. This, they say, was the state of affairs under Muhammad and this will be the state of affairs in the future. [...]

Click here for the complete article by Bassam Tawil.

Posted in Islam, Old Europe

Islam And The West At War

After a Danish movie director at a seminar on “Art, Blasphemy and Freedom of Expression” and a Danish Jew guarding a synagogue were shot dead in Copenhagen, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the prime minister of Denmark, uttered a familiar trope:

“We are not in the middle of a battle between Islam and the West. It’s not a battle between Muslims and non-Muslims. It’s a battle between values based on the freedom of the individual and a dark ideology.”

This statement — with its echoes of President Obama’s vague references to “violent extremists” uncoupled from the fundamentalist Islam to which said throat-cutting extremists pledge allegiance — scarcely stands up to scrutiny. It is empty talk. [...]

Click here for the complete article by Roger Cohen.

Posted in America, Islam, Old Europe

It’s All About Music

Alan Parsons wrote “Everyone – no matter where they reside, what religion they follow, or what ideology they aspire to – deserves to hear it [his music] if they so choose.”

‘Music knows no borders, and neither do I,” English musician and producer Alan Parsons wrote on his Facebook page last week, in response to Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters’ request that Parsons cancel his scheduled concert in Tel Aviv. Parsons was right not to get his music into the debate about BDS (a movement promoting boycotts, divestment and sanctions) and the labeling of Israel as an apartheid state, both of which Waters supports.

The debate about BDS is a heated and tough one: on the one hand, many support it – as Waters wrote in August 2013 – in order to make Israel comply with principally admirable “international law and universal principles of human rights.” On the other hand, many leading supporters of BDS – like Chicago-based Ali Abunimah – do so for a vision contrasting the two-state solution, which is officially enshrined in all UN resolutions on the Israeli-Arab conflict.

The question of whether BDS is legitimate or not may be bypassed by asking whether it’s effective. I usually recommend that supporters of Middle East peace to help build Palestine over attempting to destroy Israel: instead of protesting against an Israeli factory in the West Bank, buy a fine bottle of Palestinian olive oil. Others fiercely disagree with me, and I can understand why: if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is likened to South African apartheid, it is easy to argue that the tactics adopted to combat the latter will also be effective regarding the former. I don’t share that premise, and therefore do not share that conclusion. Nevertheless, even if I did believe in a full-scale boycott, I would make one exception: music.

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Posted in Anti-Semitism, Israel, Palestinians

Do We Really Mean ‘Never Again’?

Amid the ritual expressions of regret and the pledges of “never again” on Tuesday’s 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, a bitter irony was noted: Anti-Semitism has returned to Europe. With a vengeance.

It has become routine. If the kosher-grocery massacre in Paris hadn’t happened in conjunction with Charlie Hebdo, how much worldwide notice would it have received? As little as did the murder of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school in Toulouse. As little as did the terror attack that killed four at the Jewish Museum in Brussels.

The rise of European anti-Semitism is, in reality, just a return to the norm. For a millennium, virulent Jew-hatred — persecution, expulsions, massacres — was the norm in Europe until the shame of the Holocaust created a temporary anomaly wherein anti-Semitism became socially unacceptable. [...]

Click here for the complete article by Charles Krauthammer.

Posted in Anti-Semitism, France, Germany, Islam, Old Europe

Israel vs. the Mob

In the wake of the terrorist attack on a kosher market in Paris, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked French Jews to come home.

I don’t particularly like that advice. I think it would be a tragedy if centuries of Jewish French culture had to die out because Jews were chased out by Islamist thugs. The French government agrees — for now at least — and has posted armed soldiers everywhere Jews live and gather.

Still, what Netanyahu understands is that there is strength in numbers. The more Jews there are in Israel, the stronger Israel will be. The flip side is that the fewer Jews there are in France — or Europe or America — the weaker Jews as a whole will be.

But no matter how you slice it, Jews are at a numerical disadvantage. [...]

Click here for the complete article by Jonah Goldberg.

Posted in Anti-Semitism, France, Islam, Israel, Old Europe

Israelis in Berlin

The insidious, and mistaken, media meme around the irresistible story of Israelis choosing to live in Germany

Israelis in Berlin: Is anything cooler, more postmodern, more transgressive, more emblematic of our hip, new borderless world? In October, New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Jodi Rudoren wrote of an Israeli “Exodus” to Germany spurred by rising rents and prices of consumer goods in the Jewish State. Not to be outdone, the Washington Post chimed in the following week with a similar story about the “waves of young Israelis” bringing “the long-lost scent of freshly baked rugelach and hamantaschen cookies back to the streets of Berlin.” Meanwhile, the Economist asks, “Is Berlin the new Jerusalem?”

There’s not much new to report about Israelis in Berlin, which has been a “thing” for years. Fania Oz-Sulzberger, the daughter of Israeli novelist Amos Oz, wrote a book about the phenomenon, straightforwardly titled Israelis in Berlin, nearly 15 years ago. Modern Hebrew, she pointed out to me in a recent phone interview, was spoken in Berlin in the early 20th century, long before it became the official language of the Jewish State. In the 1960s, around the time that official diplomatic relations were established between the postwar Federal Republic and Israel, a “trickle of Israelis” began returning to West Germany, many of them German Jews “who couldn’t live with their longing,” for the land of their birth, as well as “hard-core socialists” who moved to the German Democratic Republic in the East. [...]

Click here for the complete article by James Kirchick.


Posted in Germany, Israel

Are British Salafists Gaming The System?

On January 6, British MP Yasmin Qureshi hosted the launch in the House of Commons of a report by the lobby group Claystone. The report, entitled, “Rethinking Radicalization and Extremism,” argues that “extremist ideology” is not the root cause of terrorism, yet it posits that proposed government legislation to limit freedom of expression (for extremists) is expected to galvanize recruits to terrorist causes.

Claystone has received a great deal of press in the past few months. In November 2013, the British media widely reported the release of another Claystone study, which claimed that Muslim charities were subject to unjust scrutiny because of suspicions they were “involved in radicalisation and extremism.” The report was featured on both the front page and editorial section of The Times, which described Claystone as “a London-based think-tank specializing in Muslim issues.”

Claystone, however, is no ordinary think-tank. It is a front group for a Salafist network run by Islamic preacher Haitham Al-Haddad. [...]

Click here for the complete article by Samuel Westrop.

Posted in Great Britain, Islam