“For if you remain silent at this time, rescue and safety will come from another place”

Netanyahu prays at the Kotel before leaving for Washington

The words in the title are a direct quote from Megillat Esther, the Book of Esther, which Jews worldwide will read on Wednesday night as Purim begins.  The background to the story is the plot by Haman the Agagite, the evil Vizier of the King, to murder all the Jews in the Persian Empire.  The words are spoken by Mordechai, the leader of the Persian Jewish community during the Babylonian Exile, who advises his niece, who had been selected by the King to become his Queen despite her extreme reluctance, that it is entirely possible that it is for this very reason that she was chosen to become Queen – in order to intervene with King Ahasuerus (Achashverosh) to stop the planned genocide of the Jews in the Persian Empire, organized and initiated by the wicked Amalekite Haman.

Esther is scared to approach the King because if you enter the King’s chamber without an invitation, there is an automatic death sentence. Mordechai reminds Esther that if she reamins silent, G-d will surely rescue them some other way, but Esther herself, as the King’s wife, might be at risk herself if there is a palace coup.

Much as I am loth to compare Binyamin Netanyahu to Queen Esther (!) the parallels between the two events, roughly 2,500 years apart, are startling.

A short snappy email from a friend (h/t Henry) explains the situation perfectly:

Once there was a King in Shushan, the most powerful ruler in the world, who had a strong disdain, dislike or perhaps even hatred of Jews.

Today there is a President in Washington, the most powerful ruler in the world, who has a strong disdain, dislike or perhaps even hatred of Jews.

Once there was a Persian who wanted to kill all the Jews, but needed the King’s authorization to proceed.
Today there are Persians who want to kill all the Jews, but need the President’s authorization to proceed.

The King didn’t really care, as long as there was something in it for him – lots of money.
The President doesn’t really care, as long as there is something in it for him – a deal with the Persians.

The Jewish Queen wanted to tell the King what was really happening, but going in to talk to the King was dangerous.
The Jewish Prime Minister wants to tell the President what is really happening, but going to talk to him is dangerous.

Some people thought she shouldn’t go, it would just anger the King and make things worse.
Some people think he shouldn’t go, it will just anger the President and make things worse.

The Queen asked the Jews to fast and pray for the success of her mission. They did so, and the King accepted her words, and the plot to destroy them was thwarted.
Will we fast and pray for the success of his mission? Will the President and Congress accept his words? Will the plot to destroy us be thwarted?

We commemorate the fasting prior to the Queen’s plea to the King on Taanit Ester, which commences on 3rd March.
The Prime Minister of Israel has been invited to address the United States Congress on 3rd March.

The obvious parallels between Purim and Netanyahu’s Washington visit are evident to all, and articles in the Jewish and Israeli media abound.

First of all, Binyamin Netanyahu himself is aware of the extreme importance and the symbolic timing of his speech:

“I feel like an emissary of all of Israel, even those who do not agree with me,” he said, adding that “I sense a deep angst for the fate of Israel; I will do everything to assure our future.”

Last night, Netanyahu paid a visit to the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem, where he also related to his upcoming journey.

“I want to take this opportunity to say that I respect the President of the United States, Barack Obama. I believe in the power of the relationship between Israel and the US, and their ability to overpower the differences – those that we have had and those that, one imagines, are still to come.”

However, he emphasized that his decision to address Congress despite the White House’s objections were the result of his fears over the existential threat posed to Israel by a “bad” deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

“As the prime minister of Israel it is my duty to safeguard the security of Israel, and that is why we strenuously oppose the deal that is forming between Iran and the powers, which can endanger our very existence.

Ruthie Blum in Yisrael Hayom also writes about the similarities “Between Esther and Congress”:

Within the framework of the discussion over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech before Congress, several historic figures have been dug up from their graves and revived: Roosevelt and Chamberlain, Hitler and Churchill. Those inclined to look further back and have a Jewish calendar handy cannot help invoking a deeper historical comparison — a chilling one. The date of the speech is the 12th of Adar after sunset, in other words the 13th of Adar: “And the letters sealed with his ring were sent by the king’s messengers to all provinces, to kill and destroy all the Jews, both young and old, little children, and women, in one day, that is, on the 13th of the 12th month, which is called Adar, and to make a spoil of their goods” (Esther 3:13). This is the date, that’s the story. A 2,300-year gap, bridged in an instant.

Now the head of the Jewish state is traveling to the palace of Ahasuerus to cry out against the decree. The present-day Ahasuerus is not a king ruling over 127 states, but 50; he is not a drunkard or an idiot, but he is apathetic to the fate of the Jews. And this is the third year of his second term, just as Ahasuerus was in the third year of his kingdom, according to the Book of Esther. Esther arrived at the palace on the third day, after three days of preparations; Netanyahu will speak before Congress on the third day of its convening.

By the way, Mordechai also came under attack back then: He was “held in high esteem by many of his brethren” (Esther 10:3). As it is written, “many” of his brethren, not “all” of them. There were always those who put on sour faces and harbored bitter hearts. Not much has changed.

…  And on the 13th of Adar, in the year 5776, the messenger of the Jews, Netanyahu, will walk into Congress, accompanied by 8 million plaintiffs, the citizens of Israel, and the weight of 2,300 years on his shoulders.

Netanyahu will speak the words of Esther and his voice will reverberate to all corners of the world.

 

Arlene Kushner stresses the Divine commandment to “remember Amalek and wipe it out“, which Torah portion we read in shul this past Shabbat. I highly recommend you read what she has to say:

Sam Shore, one of the rabbis in my shul, addressed this with a powerful relevancy yesterday, which I want to share:

More than Amalek was a people, it was an ideology of evil. At one and the same time, we must work to defeat – wipe out – that ideology wherever we find it and we must remember what Amalek did so that we stay alert to what evil is possible in this world.

What is more, we Jews, having been commanded to remember, are charged with alerting others in the world about evil when we see it.

Netanyahu’s speech, he told me after his talk, is holy work.

Read the whole thing. There is so much more there.

The Megillah of course has a happy end. Esther intervened as Mordechai requested, the King was happy to see her, and – shocked at Haman’s betrayal – orders Haman’s execution and the promotion of Mordechai to the position of Vizier.

We must all pray that tomorrow, as 2,300 years ago, Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech will have the desired effect, and that, unwelcome as it is to so many, it will shock American lawmakers into action that will prevent the future genocide (G-d forbid) of the Jews of Israel.

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Venahafoch Hu – Turnabout is fair play (In the spirit of Purim)

One of the central themes of the upcoming Purim festival is “venahafoch hu”, lit: And it was turned about. The wicked Haman plotted to kill all the Jews, and his evil plans were turned on their head, whereby the Jews were saved and Haman and his sons were killed.

I will have more to say on this theme in the next few days regarding Netanyahu’s impending speech to Congress, but for now let us suffice with a few “turnabout is fair play” incidents:

The anti-Israeli group Students for Justice in Palestine – a misnomer if ever there was one – found themselves on the receiving end of a bit of justice. And they did  not like it one bit.

UCLA’s chapter of anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) was enraged by a series of posters depicting Hamas executions that appeared early Sunday around the school campus.

“These posters are a clear example of hate speech directed against Students for Justice in Palestine, as well as supporters of Palestinian freedom and equality,” SJP asserted in a statement. “They rely on Islamophobic and anti-Arab tropes to paint Palestinians as terrorists and to misrepresent Students for Justice in Palestine as antisemitic.”

The group, which has often been accused of antisemitism, claimed that it is an organization that prides itself on its opposition to racism and bigotry, and that it is open to students “from all walks of life.” Furthermore SJP said they are concerned that they flyers will delegitimize their efforts to persuade university regents to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.

“Defacing school property and intimidating a specific group of students creates a deeply harmful environment that prevents student learning and community-building,” the statement continued. “Coupled with the recent uprise in Islamophobia on a national scale, we are concerned for the safety of our fellow students and student organizers.”

One of the posters depicts a Gazan with a bag over his head as Hamas executioners stand by his side, while another shows the body of an alleged collaborator being dragged through the streets of Gaza. Each sign was tagged with “Students for Justice in Palestine” and carried the hastag “#JewHaters” at the bottom. The flyers were spotted all around the UCLA campus including kiosks, fraternity and sorority rows, and at an apartment complex that houses undergraduate students, SJP said in its statement.

Here’s an example of one of the anti-Hamas posters:(Warning! Graphic!)

Anti-Hamas poster on UCLA campus outraged SJP

Those responsible for the posters told The Daily Caller anonymously that the victims depicted in the posters were accused of supporting Israel. The source referenced stories of those who were tortured and killed by Hamas after aiding Israel, according to the report.

One would think that there would be nothing to object to in pointing out the barbarity of Hamas against its own people, and if SJP are as pro-Palestinian as they claim, they should have no problem with this. But of course they are not pro-Palestinian. They are simply anti-Israel.

A rather more fun event took place at the UN, courtesy of Israeli Ambassador Ron Prosor. He handed out Oscars to the various players in the Middle East:

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor sarcastically handed out “Oscar” awards to other member states at a Security Council session on Monday, the morning after Hollywood recognized its own stars.

“Last night Hollywood celebrated the Oscars, and as millions tuned in, I thought of the following: If the Oscars for Maintenance of International Peace and Security were given at the UN, I would not be surprised if these candidates were awarded a prize,” Prosor said at the session devoted to reflecting on history, and reaffirming the strong commitment to the purposes and principles of the UN Charter.

“In the Best Actor Category – for acting like a peace loving country while developing nuclear capabilities, denying the Holocaust, and threatening the destruction of another member state… the Oscar goes to Iran,” the diplomat announced.

In the category of Best Supporting Actor, Prosor recognized Iran-backed Lebanese terror group Hezbollah “for its unrelenting support to the Assad Regime in killing hundreds of thousands of civilians.”

“In the category for Best Visual Effects – for making women disappear from the public sphere, the Oscar goes to… surprise surprise… Saudi Arabia. No competition there.

“And finally, for rewriting history, the Oscar for Best Editing goes to… the Palestinian Authority. But the truth is – the Palestinian Authority already received enough prizes from this institution.”

Watch Ambassador Prosor in action for a good laugh – but also for a bit of a weep at the absurdity of it all:

As Prosor so aptly concluded:

“Oscars aside, if we want to pursue peace and security in the real world, it is time to bring down the curtain on this theater of the absurd and return the original values of the UN Charter back to center stage.”

Those words apply equally to the absurd claims of the various “justice for Palestine” groups whose only wish is in actuality to destroy Israel.

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Good News Friday

Apologies for not having posted much recently, but the short winter Fridays combined with being extremely busy with our Emunah Purim project has left me little time to blog.

However the Purim project is now ready to go, so here we go with another Good News Friday post.

Apple in Israel

This week’s installment starts with some good news on the hi-tech front, as we learn that Apple CEO Tim Cook arrived in Israel this week to inaugurate Apple’s new Research and Development Center:

Apple Computers CEO Tim Cook arrived in Israel yesterday, and today inaugurated the company’s new R&D center in Herzliya Pituah. Cook spoke to the employees for an hour, telling them, “Trust me – there will be an Apple store in Israel.” He answered questions and posed for selfies with several employees.

Apple CEO meets with Shimon Peres

The company will have 800 employees in its new center, some of whom are currently in Herzliya Pituah (in the offices of the former Anobit) and some in Ramat Hahayal (in the offices of the former PrimeSense). These offices will also house Apple’s representatives in Israel, including its sales and marketing departments. Apple is renting the 12,500-sq.m. offices from Bayside Land Corp. Ltd.(Gav Yam) (TASE: BYSD1).

Apple will put the employees from the companies it acquired in Israel in the new building. Apple acquired flash memory company Anobit in early 2012 for $390 million and movement sensor development company PrimeSense in late 2013 for $300 million, as well as hiring 150 laid off Israeli employees of Texas Instruments.

This is great news for Israel’s hi-tech sector in general, promoting Israel’s “brand” as a leader in hi-tech and digital technologies. Of course this is also excellent news for the hundreds of laid-off employees who now have new employment. And I’m sure all Apple’s devoted fans in Israel (of which I confess I am one) are delighted too!

Kol hakavod to Apple and its CEO for recognizing Israel’s leadership in this field and opening the R & D Center. May it grow from strength to strength.

Bamba, the iconic Israeli peanut snack loved by children (and adults)

My next item (h/t Reality) is not so much good news as very interesting news – though it is certainly good news for Israeli peanut snack Bamba as it has been discovered that early exposure to peanuts can actually prevent peanut allergies rather than exacerbate them:

For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Before you even start any kind of introduction these children need to be skin-tested” to prevent life-threatening reactions, said Dr. Rebecca Gruchalla, an allergy specialist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

The main finding — that early exposure to a problem food may keep it from becoming a long-term problem — should change food guidelines quickly, she predicted.

“Isn’t it wild? It’s counterintuitive in certain ways and in other ways it’s not,” she said.

Researchers at King’s College London started this study after noticing far higher rates of peanut allergies among Jewish children in London who were not given peanut-based foods in infancy compared to others in Israel who were.

The results at 5 years of age:

—Among children with no sign of allergy on the skin test: Only 2 percent of peanut eaters developed a peanut allergy versus 14 percent of abstainers.

—Among children with some reaction to peanuts on the skin test: Only 11 percent of peanut eaters developed an allergy versus 35 percent of abstainers.

Fascinating! This study just goes to prove what all Israeli parents have known for decades: Bamba is food – and healthy food at that. Just ask Israeli children!  :-)

I’ll finish this week’s installment with two excellent posts from Israellycool – always a great read with plenty of snark and packed with interesting news items.

Pro-Israel rally

The first item is a first-person account of a liberal  American who says “I support Israel because I’m a liberal“. The fact that this should be a counter-intuitive claim speaks volumes about the degree of anti-Zionism in the world today:

I support Israel because I am a liberal.

In college I was a pretty typical hippie. I ate kale salads, bought local and organic where possible, listened to obscure alt/rock indie bands, and supported and participated in initiatives that sought to help the environment, promote aboriginal rights, reduce the influence of multinational corporations on government policy, and increase the minimum wage. I went to protests and gay pride parades, and even participated in a drag show and a feminist working group. I’m staunchly pro-choice and supportive of many social welfare policies and equal rights for gays, lesbians, and transgendered individuals, many of whom I include among my closest friends.

In other words, I lean left. Quite left, in fact. That’s why I support Israel.

Yes, you read that right. I support Israel because I am a liberal.

I’m a feminist, environmentalist, queer ally, activist, and Zionist. Those terms are not mutually exclusive – in fact, they complement each other and are the very antithesis of hypocritical.

I’m done taking sides. I chose to align myself with the humanitarian side, the side that would make a better life for Israelis and Palestinians alike. I choose to align with Israel, as that is the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian way to go.

The “White ain’t Right, Strong is Wrong” mentality has infected my fellow lefties like a virus, and has stifled all critical thinking, probing, and intellectual curiosity.

Although Jews have consistently, without a doubt, been through the ultimate proverbial meat-grinder, with entire civilizations trying to wipe us out at every turn, we should define ourselves by our successes and our triumphs. And, due to the above reasons, I see Israel as the greatest triumph of all.

That’s why, as a progressive and a liberal, I wholeheartedly support Israel.

Go and read the whole thing. What a wonderful article, what courage to be so un-PC in today’s climate. And what an amazing morale-boost for Israel. Kol hakavod to the writer, Alexandra Markus.

And to conclude, as I promised, in the spirit of Purim in which the wickedness of Haman is “repaid back on his head” and the events were turned upside-down in the Jews’ favour, here is a simply hilarious post from Israellycool on the woes of anti-Semite and anti-Zionist British MP George Galloway, who tried to promote himself on Twitter, and received a cold shower of mocking tweets in response:

It was supposed to help George Galloway in his re-election bid: a Q&A session on Twitter promoted by his buddies at Iran’s Press TV.

What transpired was a huge PR fail for Galloway.

Here are just a selection of the questions he received (including some from yours truly)

Galloway was not a happy bunny, and his sorry tale of woe concluded thus:

:-D

Enjoy the schadenfreude!

Shabbat Shalom everyone!

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Shurat HaDin victory: Palestinian Authority and PLO found liable in NY court for supporting terror attacks

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat HaDin, Israel Law Center

The Israeli NGO Shurat HaDin, the Israel Law Center, won a huge victory this week in a New York court as the PA and the PLO were both found liable for supporting a string of terror attacks in Israel in which several US citizens were killed or maimed for life.

One would think that such a claim would have been obvious; after all the Palestinians have made no secret of their hatred of Israel and Jews, and assorted organizations have repeatedly claimed responsibility for countless terror attacks, But somehow, whenever Israel has demanded an apology, compensation or a condemnation from them and from the international community, the PA somehow manages to weasel out of responsibility, claiming it was an “armed wing”, with “no connection to us”, or maybe it was a lone wolf.  That’s why this victory is such a huge morale boost for Israel and her supporters.

From the NYT link above:

The Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization were found liable on Monday by a jury in Manhattan for their role in knowingly supporting six terrorist attacks in Israel between 2002 and 2004 in which Americans were killed and injured.

The damages are to be $655.5 million, under a special terrorism law that provides for tripling the $218.5 million awarded by the jury in Federal District Court.

The verdict ended a decade-long legal battle to hold the Palestinian organizations responsible for the terrorist acts, an effort that encompassed fights over jurisdiction, merit and even practicality: History has shown that it is difficult for victims of international terrorism to bring their civil cases to trial, let alone to recover damages.

While the decision on Monday was a huge victory for the dozens of plaintiffs, it could also serve to strengthen Israel’s claim that the supposedly more moderate Palestinian forces were directly linked to terrorism.

The verdict came in the seventh week of a civil trial during which the jury heard emotional testimony from survivors of suicide bombings and other attacks in Jerusalem, in which a total of 33 people were killed and more than 450 were injured.

“Money is oxygen for terrorism,” Kent A. Yalowitz, a lawyer for the families, said in a closing argument on Thursday, adding that the antiterrorism law “hits those who send terrorists where it hurts them most: in the wallet.”

The case was brought under the Anti-Terrorism Act, which allows American citizens who are victims of international terrorism to sue in the United States courts. The law was used in September by a Brooklyn jury to find Arab Bank liable for supporting terrorism by Hamas. Damages in that case, filed by about 300 victims of 24 terrorist attacks, are to be decided in a second trial, which has not yet been held.

In the Palestinian case, Judge George B. Daniels rejected repeated defense arguments to dismiss the case in the years before trial. The plaintiffs included 10 families, comprising about three dozen members, eight of whom were physically injured in the attacks while the others were left with deep psychological scars, testimony showed.

The plaintiffs also included the estates of four victims who had been killed in the attacks, which occurred on the street and at a crowded bus stop, inside a bus, and in a cafeteria on the campus of Hebrew University.

The defense had argued that their clients had nothing to do with the attacks. Mark J. Rochon, a defense lawyer, told the jury on Thursday that he did not want “the bad guys, the killers, the people who did this to get away while the Palestinian Authority or the P.L.O. pay for something they did not do.”

Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the P.L.O.’s executive committee who testified for the defense, told the jury, “We tried to prevent violence from all sides.”

But citing testimony, payroll records and other documents, the plaintiffs showed that many of those involved in the planning and carrying out of the attacks had been employees of the Palestinian Authority, and that the authority had paid salaries to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and had made martyr payments to the families of suicide bombers.

The Times of Israel brings us the stories behind the names of each of the victims, the details terror attack in which they were killed or injured, and the dreadful impact these attacks had on surviving family members.

The 11 families that brought the case against the Palestinian Authority and PLO to a New York court, which on Monday ruled that the Palestinian leadership was responsible for six terror attacks during the Second Intifada, included the four parents of US citizens murdered in the Hebrew University cafeteria bombing, the family of a man killed in a Jerusalem suicide attack on his way to work, and several others whose lives were irreparably damaged by injuries sustained during terror attacks over a decade ago.

Read the whole story to understand the dreadful impact these terror attacks had on the families as well as on the victims themselves.

Here is the story of one American teenager who was saved davka by an Arab doctor:

Here is one victim’s family member testifying:

Beyond the financial victory for the plaintiffs and the moral victory for Israel, the verdict spells trouble for PA President-for-life Mahmoud Abbas at the International Criminal Court (ICC):

From JPost:

One cannot underestimate the impact of yesterday’s $655.5 million US terrorism trial verdict against the Palestinian Authority on its hopes to convince the International Criminal Court prosecutor to indict Israeli soldiers and leaders for alleged war crimes in last summer’s Gaza war.

Why would a US ruling on whether the PA was involved in terrorism in 2004, matter in 2015? Because until now, despite Israeli allegations of Yasser Arafat’s involvement in the second intifada violence, the PA has said Hamas performed all the terrorism and that it has been clean since the mid-1990s Oslo Accords.

If it emerges in the verdict that the PA was involved in terrorism from the top down, suddenly the PA is not coming with clean hands, but with hands awash in the war crimes that it accuses Israel of.

If the ICC prosecutor is on the fence, a major decision like this – and maybe more like it following – could push the narrative far enough in Israel’s favor that the prosecutor could be concerned about being viewed as having indirectly assisted terrorists.

Israel or Israel-supporters could even try to use the US decision, though it is a civil damages case, to push the ICC to intervene against the PA, dating back to the second intifada.

Until now, PA President Mahmoud Abbas had no personal risk going to the ICC, as the Gaza war at most, put Israel and Hamas at risk.

Investigating the second intifada could put him and his inner circle at legal risk – producing a situation where the ICC would be reliant on Abbas providing evidence against Israel, which in turn could present equally damaging testimony against him.

That day can’t come quickly enough for my liking.

Kol hakavod to Nitsana Darshan-Leitner and Shurat HaDin for their persistence, steadfastness, and ultimately for their victory.  Huge kudos too to the New York District Court for not submitting to pressure or political correctness and finding for the plaintiffs – finding for justice.

May this be the first of many.

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Naming the enemy: Radical Islam

Radical Vocabularist (by A.F. Branco at Legal Insurrection)

Barack Obama’s denial of reality with anything connected to radical Islam (see my previous post for example) was demonstrated vividly with his utterly absurd (and later frantically back-pedalled) downplaying of Muslim terror attacks against Jews in Europe as attacks on “random folks”, not to mention his accusing the West of “overplaying” reporting of terrorism in the media. It is therefore refreshing and heartening to see that even some Muslims do indeed understand the threat  even if the ostensible leader of the Western world does not.

In a Daily Telegraph article, no lesser a personage than HRH Crown Prince Salman of Bahrain writes: To defeat our foe we must first define him:

The weekend’s attacks in Copenhagen are a further reminder that if we’re meaningfully to address this spiralling global threat, we need to widen our understanding and define our foe, in order to refocus our efforts accordingly. Terrorism is not an ideology; we are not merely fighting terrorists, we are fighting theocrats. I use the term “theocrats” as the current war is not against Islam any more than it could be against Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, or any religion. It is against those who commandeer religion for their own ends and, in the process, sully the name of great traditions and beliefs that many of us hold divine.

Ultimately, we face a new-world foe, one that while demonstrating many of the practices of the 17th century also pursues a strategy of the 21st. We will not be able to address them through old world solutions alone, but through a newly thought series of interventions, both modern and traditional. It is only through a concerted, collective and fundamental review of the nature of our threat that we will help refine the focus of our challenge and thereby bring us closer to achieving our shared goal. We can then strategically use our combined resources to hold accountable these criminal ideologues who place themselves above other ordinary human beings and claim divine authority for misrule.

While in all probability we will sadly be fighting them for a long time to come, barbaric and primitive though they are, it is naming and understanding of the ideology itself that should next be our target. These individuals and groups will of course ebb and flow, but it is the ideology that must be combated and defeated. In the process, we can replace the term “war on terror” and focus on the real threat, which is the rise of these evil fascist theocracies.

Prince Salman doesn’t go far enough for my liking. He talks about theocrats rather than Islamic extremists which could be interpreted as theocrats of any religion rather than the one particular one motivating terrorist groups such as ISIS, Hamas, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, namely: Islam.

However this article is an important step forward and ought to be sent forthwith to Obama and his unfortunate spokeswoman Jen Psaki for them to do some very urgent homework.

Calling the phenomenon what it is –  Islamic extremism – is of the utmost importance. Here is an interview on CNN with Maajid Nawaz, a former extremist turned anti-extremism campaigner and British politician, on the importance of naming the Islamic ideology. Click on the arrow to view the interview:

Andrew McCarthy in National Review Online takes Obama to task for his denial, saying It doesn’t matter what Obama thinks true Islam is:

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

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

To the extent the summit dealt with Islam, it was to play the counterproductive game of defining the “true” Islam in order to discredit the Islamic State and al-Qaeda as purveyors of a “false” or “perverted” Islam. To try to pull this off, Obama relied on the bag of tricks toted by his “moderate Islamist” allies (who also turn out to be reliable progressives)

Which leads us to Obama’s other rhetorical chicanery. When he speaks of Islam, Obama not only takes scripture out of context; he also renders it as if there were a universal understanding of words like “innocent.” Yet when we read the above two verses together, and put them in the broader context of Islamic doctrine, we see that Islam can convey a notion of who is an “innocent” that is very different from the one we Westerners are likely to have. To be “innocent,” in this context, one must accept Islam and submit to its law.

The same is true of “injustice,” another word the president often invokes when discussing Islam. The true Islam, we are to believe, is just like progressivism: a tireless quest for “justice.” But just as the Left’s idea of justice differs from the average person’s, so does Islam’s. For the Islamist, justice equals sharia, and injustice is the absence or transgression of sharia. So, while this could well have been inadvertent, Obama’s claim that injustice drives young Muslims to join terrorist groups is exactly what the terrorists themselves would say — for the imperative to impose sharia is their rationale for committing terrorism.

We can sincerely hope that President Sisi and other reformers bring about a long-overdue Islamic Reformation. We can sincerely hope that they discredit and marginalize the sharia supremacism of ISIS and al-Qaeda. But whether the Islam of the jihadists is “true” or “false” is irrelevant to us. What matters about sharia supremacism is that many millions of Muslims believe in it. It is a mainstream interpretation of Islam that has undeniable scriptural roots and inevitably breeds violent jihadists. We must protect the United States regardless of whether they are right and regardless of how Islam’s internal strife is resolved – if it ever is.

Once again, in our upside-down world, it is the leaders of Muslim countries who have the courage to both define and denounce the Islamic ideology which is threatening their own countries as well as Western civilization as a whole. At the same time the leader of the Western world is not only in denial, but his very denial is actively encouraging and emboldening the extremist.

Posted in Mideast news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

The Administration is in denial about ISIS, its cause and effect and its strategy

In reference to the US Administration’s reluctance to accept the Islamic source of ISIS’s manifesto, it is refreshing to see that there are those in the media who are not willing to give the Administration a pass.

Peggy Noonan in the WSJ calls the Administration An Administration adrift on denial  (click through via Google)as she quotes from a long, very detailed essay in The Atlantic by Graeme Wood on What ISIS really wants“.

From the WSJ link (emphases are mine):

Mr. Wood describes a dynamic, savage and so far successful organization whose members mean business. Their mettle should not be doubted. ISIS controls an area larger than the United Kingdom and intends to restore, and expand, the caliphate. Mr. Wood interviewed Anjem Choudary of the banned London-based Islamist group Al Muhajiroun, who characterized ISIS’ laws of war as policies of mercy, not brutality. “He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies,” Mr. Wood writes, “because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.”

The scale of the savagery is difficult to comprehend and not precisely known. Regional social media posts “suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks.” Most, not all, of the victims are Muslims.

The West, Mr. Wood argues, has been misled “by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. . . . The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers,” drawn largely from the disaffected. “But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.” Its actions reflect “a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bring about the apocalypse.”

Mr. Wood acknowledges that ISIS reflects only one, minority strain within Islam. “Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it.”

He quotes Princeton’s Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on ISIS’ theology. The group’s fighters, Mr. Haykel says, “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition,” and denials of its religious nature spring from embarrassment, political correctness and an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”

The Islamic State is different from al Qaeda and almost all other jihadist movements, according to Mr. Wood, “in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character.” Its spokesman has vowed: “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women.” They believe we are in the End of Days. They speak of how “the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria.” The battle will be Rome’s Waterloo. After that, a countdown to the apocalypse.

Mr. Wood’s piece is bracing because it is fearless—he is apparently not afraid of being called a bigot or an Islamophobe. It is important because it gives people, especially political leaders, information they need to understand a phenomenon that may urgently shape U.S. foreign policy for the next 10 years.

In sorry contrast, of course, are the Obama administration’s willful delusions and dodges. They reached their height this week when State Department spokesman Marie Harf talked on MSNBC of the “root causes” that drive jihadists, such as “lack of opportunity for jobs.” …  . So how do you get at that root causes?” She admitted her view “might be too nuanced of an argument for some.”

Yes, it might.

It isn’t about getting a job. They have a job: waging jihad.

The president famously cannot even name the ISIS threat forthrightly, and that is a criticism not of semantics but of his thinking.

… At the “violent extremism” summit this week he emphasized Islamic “legitimate grievances” and lectured America on the need for tolerance toward American Muslims.

“When peaceful democratic change is impossible, it feeds into the terrorist propaganda that violence is the only available answer.” Yes, sure. But the young men and women ISIS recruits from Western nations already live in peaceful democracies.

It’s not enough. They want something else. It is, ironically, disrespectful not to name what they are, and what they are about.

Read the whole thing, and more importantly, read Woods’ essay in The Atlantic.

We can clearly see ISIS’ strategy in action in their latest territorial conquests. J.E. Dyer in Liberty Unyielding asks, in the wake of the horrific murder of the Jordanian pilot: Is ISIS trying to outflank Iran in Jordan?

ISIS is increasingly invested in the Golan on its own account, having acquired in December the loyalty of an anti-Assad jihadi group occupying the tactically significant transit route to the Quneitra border crossing.  The Golan area is shaping up to be a venue for competition between ISIS and Iran – which was predictable before, given its geography and proximity to Israel, but now is actually happening.

The second biggest thing for ISIS in January was probably the Houthi coup in Yemen, backed by Iran and signifying a major geostrategic door opening for Iran’s regional plans.  …

Iranian and ISIS territorial control (click to enlarge)

ISIS’s vision is grandiose, to be sure, but it is systematic and strategic, not hallucinatory.  ISIS doesn’t just ooze around like a single-celled flagellate driven to search for food.  It has been clear from the beginning that ISIS has territorial ambitions and works off of a map.  We should be looking, at every juncture, for coherent intentions and reasoning, and that’s what I see here.  ISIS’s eye is on the regional advantage quickly accruing to Iran.

What does ISIS want to do?  Put Jordan “in play.”  Knock Jordan off of her equilibrium point and make this internally divided country a party to the turmoil in Syria and Iraq.  We can look for ISIS sympathizers to start blowing things up inside Jordan, and soon.  ISIS doesn’t need to actually make good, just yet, on its threat to assassinate King Abdullah (see Gatestone Institute link above), to nevertheless create internal instability that will undermine the fragile social peace and put the king on the defensive in his own country.

This brings up the third dimension of ISIS’s strategic thinking.  ISIS doesn’t plan to mount a conventional military attack on Israel from Jordan.  ISIS wants to draw Israel into Jordan’s turmoil – just as Iran wants to draw Israel into Syria’s turmoil.  Iran and ISIS both want to sucker Israel, as a means of self-defense, into attacking Arab territory.  (The reason is that such a move would be expected to inflame Muslim nations across the region.)

Again, I urge you to read the whole post which includes detailed explanatory maps.

Another strategic gain for ISIS is Libya which has become “Somalia on the Mediterranean“:

The Islamic State’s beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya, and Egypt’s subsequent airstrikes on Libyan soil, have relaunched debate over what to do about the mounting crisis in that country.

The situation in Libya  … has deteriorated steadily in the last few years. Libya is now a failed state ravaged by civil war, and a magnet for al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) recruits.

Libya is likely now home to more IS fighters than any other country besides Iraq and Syria. IS has actively sought to compete with al Qaeda’s regional franchise, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, for influence on the ground.

Yet despite all these grim omens, the international approach to Libya has changed little since Qaddafi was killed. Attention, resources, and the level of interest have all been limited. U.S. policy is at best unclear.

At the same time, the tempo of counterterrorism operations within Libya itself will inevitably need to increase as the Islamic State gains adherents, weapons, and potentially other forms of support from “core IS” in Syria and Iraq. Here, the United States will have to play a leading role.

Whether or not the United States is prepared to do anything more in Libya, even on this smaller scale, remains to be seen. But the hands-off policy the West has pursued in Libya since Qaddafi’s death isn’t working

This brings us full circle to the beginning. Denying both the root causes and the motivation of ISIS, refusing to admit that they are not just a bunch of rag-tag terrorists but an organized army and country in all but name, is simply enabling them to continue their rampage through the Levant – and now, via Libya they are a threat to Italy and on to Europe.

On the other hand the Italians are highly amused (for the moment) at this threat and have responded in kind, with “friendly” advice for the would-be invaders who are likely to get stuck in Rome traffic before they ever reach their destination.

Maybe there is hope after all.

Posted in International relations, Mideast news, Terrorism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments