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The Undivided Past

Friday, October 4th, 2013

There are several words used in the Bible to describe the Jewish people. At one stage we were simply tribal. Then we became an “Am”, a people, a “Goy”, a nation, a “Mamlacha”, a kingdom. Post-Biblically, if the gentiles called us Jews, Judeans, Israelites, Hebrews, Yids, or whatever, we used “Yisrael” as the name of choice, in the main, which meant a people, a culture, a religion, a relationship with God and a land, all of that in varying and amorphous degrees. We knew what it meant, even if others were confused or bemused. It takes one to know one.

Under pagan empires religion was not a factor, just loyalty to an overarching regime or royal family. If you were a serf it was loyalty to your lord and village. Neither the Persian, nor the Greek, nor the Roman Empires cared how you worshipped or behaved, so long as you professed loyalty to the empire. Then Christianity emerged as the religion of the Roman Empire and other religions were marginalized. Ironically the bloodiest battles were within Christianity, between one theological variation and another. The same thing happened under Islam. Ideals soon got perverted by politics and as today, Muslims of different sects killed more Muslims than all their enemies put together and doubled. Freud memorably described this internal divisiveness as “the narcissism of minor differences”.

In the West, most Jews that non-Jews encounter are not particularly committed to being Jewish. For Jews like a Soros or a Zuckerberg, it’s an accident of birth, a minor casual affiliation, like belonging to the Church of England. And this explains why most of those in the West who think about the matter reckon that the Jews are not really too concerned about having a land of their own and that it was only the accidental intervention of imperialist powers that explains the Jewish presence in the Middle East. It was a misjudged adventure. And really the Jews ought to pick up and leave and stop being nasty to the indigenous population.

It takes an objective observer to notice that for millennia Jews have shared a powerful core identity, even if in almost every situation except when they were given a choice, most Jews actually abandoned the community of Jews. But it took a determined minority within a minority to fight hard, relentlessly, and ultimately victoriously for its Jewish identity.

In his book The Undivided Past: Humanity Beyond Our Differences, David Cannadine writes:

“Egypt under the Pharaohs may have resembled a nation…but there was no accompanying sense of public culture or collective identity. As for the ancient Greeks, their limited pan Hellenic aspirations embodied in their shared language, Homeric epics and Olympic games foundered on the disputatious reality of their fiercely independent city-states. Similar objections have been made to claims that the Sumerians, the Persians, the Phoenicians, the Arameans, the Philistines, the Hittites and the Elamites were ancient nations, or that the Sinhalese, the Japanese or the Koreans might be so described during the first millennium of the common era. Only in the case of Israel does it seem plausible to discern a recognizable ancient nation with its precise though disputed territoriality, its ancient myths, its shared historical memories of the Exodus, the Conquest and wars with the Philistines, its strong sense of exceptionalism and providential destiny and its self-definition against a hostile “other” and its common laws and cultures. These were and are the essential themes in the unfinished history of the Jews this example has also furnished ever since a developed model of what it means to be a nation.” (p. 58)

Throughout exile we somehow did preserve a sense of belonging to a people, to a tradition, to a land, a sense of community, Klal Yisrael. This is why the problem of Israel in the Middle East, the Jewish problem, is so intractable. The overwhelming majority of Jews now living in Israel or the West Bank are committed to the notion of a Jewish people. It is not to be compared as ignorant opponents of Israel try, to a few British or white imperialists imposing themselves on a vast majority “other”. Some may try to delegitimize us by overturning a decision of the United Nations, but they cannot delegitimize or wish away the Jewish people.

Leading Israeli Analysts Can’t Agree on PA Strategy

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

 Although most of the analysts warned against the U.S. campaign to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank in 2014, they could not agree on an Israeli alternative. Some of the analysts urged Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to formulate an interim solution to the West Bank while others said relations with the PA would continue to mark a conflict that must be managed.

“Netanyahu is going through the same syndrome as did Begin, Rabin, Sharon, and Olmert,” Shmuel Sandler, the deputy director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Affairs, said. “He wants to stake a place for himself in the chronicles of the Jewish state as a contributor to a peace process.”

The center conducted a recent roundtable discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian process, which the United States wants completed by early 2014. One of the analysts said the negotiations have been complicated by the insistence of President Barack Obama to link this with Iran’s nuclear program.

“Obama, with absolutely no reasonable basis, combines the Israeli-Palestinian issue with the American-Iranian file,” Mordechai Kedar, who also consults with Israel’s government and military, said. “This way Obama can show his face in public as someone who had at least one success in the Mideast, after his failures in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and more.”

Kedar, a specialist on the Arab world, warned Netanyahu against establishing a Palestinian state. Instead, Kedar, who dismissed the prospect of an agreement with the PA, said Israel should offer what he termed an “eight-state solution.”

“This involves the establishment of a council of Palestinian emirates or mini-states based on the sociology of the different clans and tribes in Gaza, Judea and Samaria [West Bank],” Kedar said. “This will give Arab leadership a firm local base with a traditional and homogeneous sociological foundation.”

The analysts also disagreed over Israel’s strategic position. Several of the analysts, including center director Efraim Inbar, said Israel, despite threats of Western sanctions, was becoming stronger economically and militarily.

But others said Netanyahu was driven by his fear of a crisis with Obama. They said time was working against Israel. “Israel’s legitimacy is a strategic asset,” Joshua Teitelbaum said. “It is getting harder and harder to convince even Israel’s supporters of the legitimacy of expanded Jewish settlement in areas that are still under negotiation for the establishment of a possible Palestinian state.”

Rouhani Says Ice Beginning to Break with the West, Bibi Not Impressed

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that the ice was already “beginning to break” between his country and the West. This despite the fact that there has been no meeting, no hand-shake, not even a polite nod in passing between himself and President Barack Obama in the UN halls in New York City.

White House officials confirmed on Tuesday that no meeting would take place, indicating that meeting would be “too complicated” for the Iranian when he goes back home.

Rouhani addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time on Tuesday afternoon, and then sounded conciliatory in a CNN interview. He said there had been “some talks” to arrange a meeting to give himself and Obama an opportunity to “talk with each other” but there was not sufficient time to coordinate such a meeting.

There you go, it wasn’t obedience to the ayatollah back home, it was just bad timing.

Asked whether he has been “authorized” by the Iranian supreme leader to improve ties with the West, Rouhani said he has the authority to do what he wants, according to national interests.

The supreme leader, he said, is not opposed to negotiations if they are necessary for the national interests of Iran.

“But speaking of the ice-breaking you mentioned, it’s already beginning to break because the environment is changing. And that has come about as a result of the will of the people of Iran to create a new era of the relations between Iran and the rest of the world,” Rouhani told CNN.

While the centrifuges keep on churning and while Iran is putting together warheads. A brave, new era, indeed.

When the CNN host asked him to deliver a message directly to the U.S. public, Rouhani said in English, “I would like to say to American people: I bring peace and friendship from Iranians to Americans.”



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed President Obama’s call for Iran’s recent “conciliatory words” to be “matched by actions that are transparent and verifiable.”

A JTA report suggested that Netanyahu’s insistence on dismantling any Iranian nuclear capacity as a condition for stopping the boycott against it could signal a major difference with the Obama administration as the U.S. engagement with Iran advances.

Back in the USSR

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Those among us who are middle-aged or older will remember a song by the Beatles called “Back to the USSR”. Ever since the minor crisis regarding the Asad regime’s use of chemical weapons, this song has been stuck my head.

This minor crisis has revealed, emphasized and demonstrated what we wrote about here long ago, which is the weakening of the Western bloc, especially the United States, and the return of the opposing group to the center of international stage under Russian leadership.  Putin’s article in the New York Times openly expressed his opinion about the old-new international situation, in which the world has stopped being a unipolar system, and has gone back to being a bipolar system, as it was until the end of the eighties, when the Soviet Union collapsed, and the allies in Eastern Europe left it in favor of joining with the Western, democratic world, and afterward, the European Union.

The Russian Bloc is based on non-democratic countries that are hostile to the West, whether from a cultural point of view, like China and Syria, or a religious point of view, like Iran. Countries where democracy is limping along like Venezuela and Nicaragua, also join up with Russia, who doesn’t bother them too much about marginal matters like human rights and political freedoms. North Korea also enjoys China’s and Russia’s political protection, especially in the UN Security Council.

Today’s anti-democratic glue is apparently better than the glue of Slavic identity that formed the “Warsaw Pact” because it is a world view and a cultural perspective. Back then, membership in the Soviet bloc was forced on the states (for instance, in Czechoslovakia and the Soviet invasion of 1968), while today, states freely choose to belong to the Russian bloc. It is not yet a consolidated and unified bloc, but one definitely sees that this union of anti-democratic forces is winning ever more diplomatic territory in the international sphere. There is an important military aspect to this alliance, due to the supply of Russian weaponry to Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.

Many countries in the world compare the behavior of the bloc under Russian leadership to the conduct of the West under United States’ leadership and conclude: The United States betrays her friends and abandons them, while Russia is faithful to her friends and defends them. When the world analyzes what the United States has done for states and rulers in recent years it finds Mubarak, who was abandoned by President Obama with the start of demonstrations against him; the president of Tunisia – bin Ali – who was forced to flee from the demonstrations without even one of his European friends  to rescue him; the United States abandons its friends in the Gulf and in Saudi Arabia in the face of Iran’s threatening buildup; the West does not back Israel in its efforts to maintain its security and its strategic assets, and urges it to establish another Palestinian terror country in the mountains of Judea and Samaria, overlooking most of the territory of the State of Israel.

On the other hand, the world sees that Russia defends Iran and its nuclear project in the Security Council faithfully, and even supplies its reactors and the means of defending them; Russia is faithful to Asad and supplies him weaponry, ammunition and means of defense necessary for his survival; Russia supplies China with raw materials and places of employment.

In Economic matters as well, the West appears weak relative to Russia. Since six years ago, the Western economy – Europe and the United States together – has been caught in a structural crisis, not in a recession from which it is relatively easy to emerge. It seems that the unification of currency (the Euro) and production standards are not enough to make Europe into one body, so divisive forces exist there that even threaten the stability of some countries: the region of Catalonia wants to secede from Spain, and the Scots apparently will leave the United Kingdom in another year. Europe is addicted to Russian gas, and to oil that, by Iran’s “good will”, is allowed to pass through the Strait of Hormuz on its route from the Emirates to Europe.

Regarding the issue of Syrian chemical weapons, the West has seemed like a crumbling and disintegrating body, with no leader and no shared agenda. The British parliament is against war, the French is for it, and the American administration says that it’s getting ready to attack, Congress doesn’t support it, the American army is preparing for war and the State Department puts forth a compromise. The right hand does not know what the left is doing, and each one acts according to a different agenda. This is no way to build a bloc of states that is capable of executing a mission that everyone agrees is ethically justified: to defend the citizens of Syria from chemical weapons. And when ethics ceases to be the leading cause for the West, what is left of its values?

The Land without Muslims

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

There are countries in the world, mainly in Europe, that are presently undergoing significant cultural transformations as a result of Muslim immigration. France, Germany, Belgium and Holland are interesting examples of cases where immigration from Muslim countries, together with the Muslims’ high fertility rate, effects every area of life.

It is interesting to know that there is a country in the world whose official and public approach to the Muslim matter is totally different. This country is Japan. This country keeps a very low profile on all levels regarding the Muslim matter: On the diplomatic level, senior political figures from Islamic countries almost never visit Japan, and Japanese leaders rarely visit Muslim countries. The relations with Muslim countries are based on concerns such as oil and gas, which Japan imports from some Muslim countries. The official policy of Japan is not to give citizenship to Muslims who come to Japan, and even permits for permanent residency are given sparingly to Muslims.

Japan forbids exhorting people to adopt the religion of Islam (Dawah), and any Muslim who actively encourages conversion to Islam is seen as proselytizing to a foreign and undesirable culture. Few academic institutions teach the Arabic language. It is very difficult to import books of the Qur’an to Japan, and Muslims who come to Japan, are usually employees of foreign companies. In Japan there are very few mosques. The official policy of the Japanese authorities is to make every effort not to allow entry to Muslims, even if they are physicians, engineers and managers sent by foreign companies that are active in the region. Japanese society expects Muslim men to pray at home.

Japanese companies seeking foreign workers specifically note that they are not interested in Muslim workers. And any Muslim who does manage to enter Japan will find it very difficult  to rent an apartment. Anywhere a Muslim lives, the neighbors become uneasy. Japan forbids the establishment of Islamic organizations, so setting up Islamic institutions such as mosques and schools is almost impossible. In Tokyo there is only one imam.

In contrast with what is happening in Europe, very few Japanese are drawn to Islam. If a Japanese woman marries a Muslim, she will be considered an outcast by her social and familial environment. There is no application of Shari’a law in Japan. There is some food in Japan that is halal, kosher according to Islamic law, but it is not easy to find it in the supermarket.

The Japanese approach to Muslims is also evidenced by the numbers: in Japan there are 127 million residents, but only ten thousand Muslims, less than one hundredth of a percent. The number of Japanese who have converted is thought to be few. In Japan there are a few tens of thousands of foreign workers who are Muslim, mainly from Pakistan, who have managed to enter Japan as workers with construction companies. However, because of the negative attitude towards Islam they keep a low profile.

There are several reasons for this situation:

First, the Japanese tend to lump all Muslims together as fundamentalists who are unwilling to give up their traditional point of view and adopt modern ways of thinking and behavior. In Japan, Islam is perceived as a strange religion, that any intelligent person should avoid.

Second, most Japanese have no religion, but behaviors connected with the Shinto religion along with elements of Buddhism are integrated into national customs . In Japan, religion is connected to the nationalist concept, and prejudices exist towards foreigners whether they are Chinese, Korean, Malaysian or Indonesian, and Westerners don’t escape this phenomenon either. There are those who call this a “developed sense of nationalism” and there are those who call this “racism”. It seems that neither of these is wrong.

And Third, the Japanese dismiss the concept of monotheism and faith in an abstract god,  because their world concept is apparently connected to the material, not to faith and emotions. It seems that they group Judaism together with Islam. Christianity exists in Japan and is not regarded negatively, apparently because the image of Jesus perceived in Japan is like the images of Buddha and Shinto.

The most interesting thing in Japan’s approach to Islam is the fact that the Japanese do not feel the need to apologize to Muslims for the negative way in which they relate to Islam. They make a clear distinction between their economic interest in resources of oil and gas from Muslim countries, which behooves Japan to maintain good relations with these countries on the one hand, and on the other hand, the Japanese nationalist viewpoints, which see Islam as something that is suitable for others, not for Japan, and therefore the Muslims must remain outside.

More on Western Tax Dollars Bankrolling Terror

Sunday, February 17th, 2013

An official of the American Islamic Congress has a strongly-expressed op ed in yesterday’s New York Times entitled “How Europe Bankrolls Terror.” His central thesis:

Over the past decade, Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands have paid more than $130 million to terrorist groups, mostly through mediators, to free European hostages… The so-called global war on terror has been hobbled by these payoffs.

He makes a reasonable point. But if this hobbled the fight against the terrorists, then what about the far larger sums shoveled into the maw of the Palestinian Arab terror machine throughout the past decade? And continuing. It’s a theme we have addressed here numerous times.

What we have written in those posts and keep repeating is that European tax-payers are the major source of the money that is used by terrorism-addicted regimes - in particular the Palestinian Authority or as it now prefers to call itself, “The State of Palestine” – to reward and encourage the people who have already murdered and who aspire to murder in the near future the children of the people whom their religious and secular leaders teach them to hate. Refer to the excellent, though sadly not-up-date, E.U. Funding site for more background.

In a recent post, we quoted Douglas Murray, associate director at the London-based Henry Jackson Society think-tank, who wrote about this under the headline “Palestinian Terrorists on the Payroll” [online at the WSJE site]. Here’s a reminder of a small part of what he writes there:

…Many British taxpayers, struggling to pay their family’s way through a recession, might rightly wonder why their money is going to pay as much as £2,000 a month to people serving the longest sentences—those who have targeted Israeli buses and other civilian targets with suicide bombers, for instance. That is higher than the average wage in nearly all of Britain. You might be forgiven for wondering, if you were a struggling teaching assistant in the North of England, why failing to tick “suicide bomber” on your careers form should have left you so much worse off than a terrorist in the Middle East… Most of the politicians and civil servants who facilitate this disgraceful funding process with the money of ordinary citizens know they are doing it. So do many in the news media. And when ordinary folks have it explained to them, they become furious.

So why is it that the scandal continues with so little rational intervention? It’s not a new issue. We published an article about this in a major European newspaper more than nine years ago. See the Wall Street Journal Europe, September 26, 2003 edition: “Blood, Money and Education” [online here]. It has some very critical things to say about a certain British politician who we believe was up to his eyebrows in involvement with covering up the E.U. funding of Palestinian terrorism at the time. Today he is the U.K. government’s man in charge of the BBC.

Abdullah Barghouti is just one example of how the West is funding terror. Barghouti manufactured the bomb-in-a-guitar-case for the Hamas operation that targeted the Sbarro restaurant in central Jerusalem; the explosion killed 15 people, left a 16th unconscious until today, and injured more than 130. A large proportion of the casualties were Jewish children, one of them our daughter. Barghouti’s monthly salary, amounting to thousands of shekels and growing, is paid to his family by the “moderate” P.A., largely funded by unwitting taxpayers in the U.K., India, Norway, Ireland, France, Japan and the United States, as well as from the European Union aid budget.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Death and Fear are at Center of Islamic Society

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

The most influential Sunni leader in the Middle East has just admitted what many of us who grew up as Muslims in the Middle East have always known: that Islam could not exist today without the killing of apostates.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood and one of the most respected leaders of the Sunni world, recently said on Egyptian television, “If they [Muslims] had gotten rid of the punishment [often death] for apostasy, Islam would not exist today.”

The most striking thing about his statement, however, was that it was not an apology; it was a logical, proud justification for preserving the death penalty as a punishment for apostasy. Al-Qaradawi sounded matter-of-fact, indicating no moral conflict, nor even hesitation, about this policy in Islam. On the contrary, he asserted the legitimacy of Islamic laws in relying on vigilante street justice through fear, intimidation, torture and murder against any person who might dare to leave Islam.

Many critics of Islam agree with Sheikh Qaradawi, that Islam could not have survived after the death of the prophet Mohammed if it were not for the killing, torturing, beheading and burning alive of thousands of people — making examples of them to others who might wish to venture outside Islam. From its inception until today, Islam has never considered this policy inappropriate, let alone immoral. In a recent poll, 84% of Egyptians agree with the death penalty for apostates; and we see no moderate Muslim movement against this law. That 1.2 billion Muslims appear comfortable with such a command sheds light on the nature of Islam.

Unlike Americans, who understand basic principles of their constitution, most Muslims have no clue about the basic laws of their religion. Most Muslims choose ignorance over knowledge when it comes to Islam, and often refuse to comment negatively out of fear of being accused of apostasy. While in the West it is considered a virtue to try to understand one’s religion, ask questions about it and make choices accordingly, in the Muslim world doing the same thing is the ultimate sin punishable by death. What the West prides itself on, is a crime under Islamic law.

The main concern of Muslim citizens in any Islamic state is staying safe, alive and away from being accused of doing or saying anything against Islamic teachings. In such an atmosphere of fear and distrust, harm can come not only from the government, but from friends, neighbors and even family members, who are protected from prosecution for killing anyone they regard as an apostate.

It is not a coincidence that Muslim countries have the highest rate of illiteracy and that they lack education: in an Islamic culture that criminalizes not only apostasy, but also asking questions or doubting, ignorance is a virtue that protects you.

The Islamic and Judeo-Christian cultures are polar opposites when it comes to value systems and moral compasses — the core divisions between Islamic and Western morality. No religion other than Islam kills those who leave it — probably a sign of Islamic leaders’ lack of confidence in Islam’s ability to survive among other religions that do not kill to keep their followers in line.

In a different Egyptian television show on the “Al-Tahrir” channel, in a discussion of Islamic textbooks from Al-Azhar — the world’s premier Islamic University, in Cairo — students were told that “any Muslim, without permission of the ruler, can kill and barbeque a murtad [apostate] and eat him.” This lesson was confirmed to be in official Egyptian government books for high school students. The stunned guest on the TV show could not believe that Egyptian students of Islam are being taught that cannibalism of apostates is halal [permitted].

Policies such as these should be of great concern to the West. The West, however, appears to be in denial. It refuses to be openly concerned; and when its citizens are concerned, they are suppressed. They are sued [Geert Wilders, Lars Hedegard, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Mark Steyn, Ezra Levant]; assaulted [Kurt Westergaard in Denmark, Lars Vilks in Sweden, Charlie Hedbo weekly journal in France]; threatened with deportation [currently, Imran Firasat, from Spain to Pakistan, and Reza Jabbari from Sweden to Iran, where both will most likely be either imprisoned or sentenced to death]; issued death threats [Salman Rushdie, Geert Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, M. Zuhdi Jasser], and sometimes murdered [Theo van Gogh].

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/death-and-fear-are-at-center-of-islamic-society/2013/02/05/

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