Saudi anti-Christian sweep prompts calls for US involvement

Saudi King Abdullah speaks before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at his private residence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Saudi King Abdullah speaks before a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at his private residence in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Fox News (Sep 10) — Dozens of Christians arrested at a prayer meeting in Saudi Arabia need America’s help, according to a key lawmaker who is pressing the State Department on their behalf.

Some 28 people were rounded up Friday by hard-line Islamists from the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in the home of an Indian national in the eastern Saudi city of Khafji, and their current situation is unknown, according to human rights advocates.

“Saudi Arabia is continuing the religious cleansing that has always been its official policy,” Nina Shea, director of the Washington-based Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, told FoxNews.com. “It is the only nation state in the world with the official policy of banning all churches. This is enforced even though there are over 2 million Christian foreign workers in that country. Those victimized are typically poor, from Asian and African countries with weak governments.”

In Friday’s crackdown, several Bibles were confiscated, according to reports from the Kingdom.

Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va, told FoxNews.com he will press the U.S. ambassador in Riyadh and the State Department to assist the arrested Christians.

“I hope our government will speak up,” said Wolf, adding that the anti-Christian raid was not surprising given that the Saudi regime “did not want our soldiers to wear crosses during the Desert Storm” operation in 1991 to stop Iraqi jingoism.

A spokeswoman for Saudi Arabia’s embassy press officer, Nail Al-Jubeir, in Washington, told FoxNews.com that “Mr. Jubeir has nothing on that [arrests of Christians].” She suggested calling the Saudi Gazette newspaper.

The English-language paper Saudi Gazette, along with Saudi Arabic-language news outlets, published a news item about the mass arrests.

An article posted on the Arabic-language news website Akhbar 24 said the arrests came after the Kingdom’s religious police got a tip about a home-based church. The report further noted that “distorted writings of the Bible were found and musical instruments, noting their referral to the jurisdictional institutions.”

The Saudi media reported different compositions of the arrested Christians. Some reports said the Christians were men and women, while the Saudi Gazette wrote that children, as well as men and women, were detained. It was unclear if a court date has been set in the notoriously opaque fundamentalist court system.

Saudi Arabia has gone to great lengths over the years to re-brand its image as a tolerant advocate of multi-religious dialogue. The arch-conservative monarchy funded the Vienna-based King Abdullah International Center for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue. Nevertheless, critics argue, Saudi Arabia’s Islamist religious police continue to expunge any trace of Christianity within its territory.

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Countering Islamic State will be hard in Iraq and harder in Syria, officials say

ISIS brutalityThe Washington Post (Sep 11) — President Obama’s strategy to beat back Islamic State militants spread across Iraq and Syria will depend on far more than U.S. bombs and missiles hitting their intended targets.

In Iraq, dissolved elements of the army will have to regroup and fight with conviction. Political leaders will have to reach compromises on the allocation of power and money in ways that have eluded them for years. Disenfranchised Sunni tribesmen will have to muster the will to join the government’s battle. European and Arab allies will have to hang together, Washington will have to tolerate the resurgence of Iranian-backed Shiite militias it once fought, and U.S. commanders will have to orchestrate an air war without ground-level guidance from American combat forces.

“Harder than anything we’ve tried to do thus far in Iraq or Afghanistan” is how one U.S. general involved in war planning described the challenges ahead on one side of the border that splits the so-called Islamic State.

But defeating the group in neighboring Syria will be even more difficult, according to U.S. military and diplomatic officials. The strategy imagines weakening the Islamic State without indirectly strengthening the ruthless government led by Bashar al-Assad or a rival network of al-Qaeda affiliated rebels — while simultaneously trying to build up a moderate Syrian opposition.

All that “makes Iraq seem easy,” the general said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to share views on policy. “This is the most complex problem we’ve faced since 9/11. We don’t have a precedent for this.”

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U.S. Confirms ISIS Planning Infiltration of U.S. Southern Border

Militants from the al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) removing part of the soil barrier on the Iraq-Syria borders and moving through it / AP

Militants from the al Qaeda-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) removing part of the soil barrier on the Iraq-Syria borders and moving through it / AP

Washington Free Beacon (Sep 11) — A senior Homeland Security (DHS) official confirmed to Congress on Wednesday that militants associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) are planning to enter the United States via the porous southern border.

Francis Taylor, under secretary for intelligence and analysis at DHS, told senators during a hearing that ISIL supporters are known to be plotting ways to infiltrate the United States through the border.

“There have been Twitter, social media exchanges among ISIL adherents across the globe speaking about that as a possibility,” Taylor told Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) in response to a question about “recent reports on Twitter and Facebook of messages that would urge infiltration into the U.S. across our southwestern border.”

“Certainly any infiltration across our border would be a threat,” Taylor said, explaining that border security agents are working to tighten measures that would prevent this from taking place.

“I’m satisfied we have the intelligence and the capability on our border that would prevent that activity,” Taylor said.

However, McCain was dubious, referring to recent videos released by activist James O’Keefe showing him crossing the border while wearing an Osama bin Laden mask.

Asked by McCain why agents did not stop O’Keefe, Taylor could not provide an answer.

“You can’t answer it because they weren’t there to stop him,” McCain responded.

“The fact is there are thousands of people who are coming across our border who are undetected and not identified, and for you to sit there and tell me that we have the capability or now have the proper protections of our southwest border, particularly in light of the urgings over Facebook and Twitter [by ISIL] for people to come across our southwestern border, is a great concern to the citizens of my state.”

Taylor admitted that more must be done to shore up border security in light of ongoing threats.

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Migrant crisis hits Europe

3105-ImmigrationMapWashington Post (Sep 10) — Globally, the world is witnessing an epidemic of war and religious conflict, insurgent violence and deadly oppression. This year, the U.N. refugee agency estimates, the number of people risking life and limb to seek sanctuary has jumped to more than 51 million — the highest figure since World War II.

In the United States, thousands of migrants — including scores of unaccompanied minors — are pouring over the Mexican border. But Europe is confronting the consequences of even larger regional strife, witnessing an unprecedented wave of migrants as conflicts rage in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ukraine and elsewhere within reach of its relatively prosperous shores.

At ground zero is Italy, by far the largest gateway for migrants into Europe with a record 119,839 people arriving since January, according to the Italian Interior Ministry — already more than double the 42,000 total for 2013.

Human rights groups have criticized other gateway nations — chiefly Greece and Spain — for summary pushbacks or ill treatment of refugees and asylum-seekers. Italy, too, once repelled migrants and cut deals with authoritarian regimes in North Africa to stop them before they left. It still has agreements with Egypt and Tunisia to return migrants from those nations unless they are minors or can prove that they are being persecuted.

But arrivals are surging as Italy embraces what activists and refugee agencies describe as one of the world’s most progressive policies toward migrants.

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ISIS Threat: Fear of Terror Attack Soars to 9/11 High

article-2661007-1EAFF8BC00000578-954_634x368NBC News (Sep 10) — The nation is on edge in the wake of brutal beheadings of journalists by Islamic extremists — with more Americans saying the United States is less safe now than at any point since 9/11, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll shows.

The exclusive poll reveals that 47% of Americans believe the country is less safe now than before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That’s a significant increase from even a year after the twin towers fell when in September 2002 just 20% of the country said the nation was less safe. The level of fear across America also is up substantially from last year when 28% felt the same way.

In fact, just 26% of Americans now feel the nation is safer than before 9/11.

The numbers are a backdrop for the primetime speech President Obama will deliver on Wednesday night outlining his plan to combat the terrorist group ISIS, which has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria, beheaded two American journalists, distributed images of the killings in via gruesome videos, and has launched a social media campaign to extend its reach.

Read the full poll here.

“A very war-weary country … seems to have woken up to the real threat that ISIS may present,” says Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter Hart and his colleagues at Hart Research.

“The beheadings are so chilling to the American public,” added Hart. “The only things I think of equal impact are the self-immolations back in Vietnam.”

The new poll also found that more than six in 10 respondents believe that taking military action against the Islamic militant group ISIS is in the nation’s interest.

And a whopping 94 percent of Americans say they have heard about the news of the beheaded journalists – higher than any other news event the NBC/WSJ poll has measured over the past five years.

That includes the 2011 debt-ceiling debate (77 percent), the 2012 health-care decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (78 percent), Syria’s reported use of chemical weapons in 2013 (79 percent) and this year’s botched execution in Oklahoma (68 percent).

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Hamas: Give Us West Bank So We Can Destroy Israel

By Khaled Abu Toameh who formely worked for PLO’s newspaper, an Israeli Muslim with a Palestinian, non-Israeli mother.

What Hamas and Iran are saying is that if and when Israel pulls back to the pre-1967 lines, they, together with other Palestinians, would bring weapons into the West Bank to achieve their goal of eliminating the “Zionist entity.”

Abbas’s initiative also ignores that Hamas could easily seize control of the West Bank through force or through the promised free and democratic elections, which recent polls show Hamas is assured of winning. Abbas is demanding something that would bring about his own demise.

Gatestone Institute (Sep 7) —  If the West Bank had one quarter of the weapons that the Gaza Strip has, Israel would be eliminated in one day. This is what Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar told worshippers during a sermon he delivered on September 5.

Zahar, who, during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, spent his time in hiding, was speaking during Friday prayers at Martyr Abdullah Azzam Mosque in Gaza City.

Abdullah Azzam, by the way, was a Palestinian “scholar,” teacher and mentor of Osama bin Laden, the slain leader of Al-Qaeda. Azzam was killed in Pakistan in 1989.

Back to Zahar, who delivered his first sermon since the Egypt-brokered cease-fire between Hamas and Israel was announced in late August: he chose to remind Palestinians and the rest of the world of his movement’s dream to destroy Israel.

“If only the West Bank had one quarter of what Gaza has of resistance tools, the Israeli entity would end in one day,” Zahar declared, reiterating the claim that Hamas had scored a “big victory” in the war.

The Hamas leader went on to criticize those who still have doubts as to whether Israel could be destroyed.

“Those who were skeptical as to whether Palestine could be liberated are no longer doubtful after the enemy was hit from the Gaza Strip,” Zahar said. “Can you imagine what would happen if the enemy is targeted from the West Bank, which makes up 20% of the size of Palestine?”

Zahar’s wish to see the West Bank flooded with rockets and mortars and other “tools of resistance” was echoed by other Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders and spokesmen after the recent war in the Gaza Strip.

Zahar himself was quoted recently as saying that Hamas’s goal now was to “move the Gaza example of resistance” to the West Bank.

Even the Iranians seem to think that the time has come to turn the West Bank into a launching pad for attacks on Israel.

During the war in the Gaza Strip, a senior Iranian commander of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Mohamed Reza Naqdi, announced that Tehran had plans to “arm Palestinians in the West Bank” in order to destroy Israel.

Naqdi boasted that the weapons used by Hamas and other Palestinian groups during the recent war had been manufactured and supplied by Iran.

The threats by Hamas and Iran regarding the West Bank show why it is critically important for Israel (and the Palestinian Authority) to insist on the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip as part of any long-term cease-fire agreement.

Even more significantly, these threats underline the need to keep the West Bank a demilitarized area in any future peace agreement, especially one that would see the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state.

Moreover, these threats support Israel’s insistence on maintaining permanent security control over the border with Jordan. Without such a presence, Iranian-made weapons would easily find their way into the West Bank.

What Hamas and Iran are saying is that if and when Israel pulls back to the pre-1967 lines, they, together with other Palestinians, would bring weapons into the West Bank to achieve their goal of eliminating the “Zionist entity.”

Zahar does not even believe that there is a need for large amounts of weapons – just one fourth of what Hamas and Islamic Jihad already have in the Gaza Strip are sufficient, in his eyes, to destroy Israel in one day.

In the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, it is not difficult to understand why flooding the West Bank with weapons poses an existential threat to Israel.

But this is also something that would wreak havoc on Palestinians in the West Bank.

Fortunately, Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority are fully aware of attempts by Iran and Hamas to turn the West Bank into a base for terrorism and jihadis.

Thanks to Israel, they are also aware of Hamas’s effort to topple the Palestinian Authority and replace it with an Islamist government.

Last month, Israel announced the arrest of more than 90 West Bank Hamas members who planned to stage a coup against Abbas and renew terror attacks against Israelis. Were it not for Israel’s effort, Abbas and his top officials would have been either killed or imprisoned by Hamas.

That episode explains why Abbas has now ordered a massive crackdown on Hamas members and supporters in the West Bank. During the Gaza war, Abbas refrained from such measures against his Hamas rivals out of fear of being accused of “collaboration” with Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas (r) meets with the Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar, July 20, 2014. (Image source: Handout from the Palestinian Authority President’s Office/Thaer Ghanem)

Since the cease-fire went into effect, Abbas’s security forces in the West Bank have detained more than 80 Hamas men. They have also stopped Hamas-affiliated preachers from delivering sermons during Friday prayers.

Abbas will be able to rein in Hamas in the West Bank only if he pursues security coordination with Israel.

However, it would be unrealistic to expect Abbas or any Palestinian government to disarm Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip.

Abbas and the Palestinian Authority would not be able to survive for one day in the West Bank without the presence of the IDF, especially given Hamas’s rising popularity among Palestinians in the aftermath of the war.

Last week, Abbas sent two senior officials, Saeb Erekat and Majed Faraj, to Washington to present his “new peace initiative” to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Abbas’s initiative envisages the establishment of a Palestinian state within three years either through negotiations or by having the UN Security Council impose a solution on Israel.

Abbas’s initiative, however, ignores the threat from Hamas and Iran to use the West Bank as a launching pad for destroying Israel. It also ignores that Hamas could easily seize control over a future Palestinian state by force or through the promised free and democratic elections, as assured by a recent public opinion poll published by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

Abbas is demanding a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines (including the border with Jordan). But he cannot offer any assurances that Hamas and Iran would not use this border to smuggle weapons into the West Bank.

In fact, Abbas is demanding from the Israelis and Americans something that would bring about his own demise. His only option for now is to hold onto power in the West Bank and continue to work with Israel against the common enemy – Hamas. The day Hamas agrees to lay down its weapons and abandon its dream of destroying Israel, he will then be able to go to the U.S. and Security Council and ask for an independent state next to Israel.

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Caroline Glick: The dilemma of the Jewish leftist

Given the genocidal Jew-hatred endemic in jihadist doctrine, it was obvious that if Sotloff’s Judaism was exposed, he would have been singled out for torture and execution.

A left-wing protester holds up a sign that reads, "No to Code Red, yes to peace," during Tel Aviv rally

A left-wing protester holds up a sign that reads, “No to Code Red, yes to peace,” during Tel Aviv rally

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick’s work, visit carolineglick.com

The Jerusalem Post (Sept 4) — During his yearlong captivity at the hands of the barbarians from Islamic State, Steven Sotloff’s colleagues in Israeli media organs purged all of his articles from their websites to erase his connections to Israel and hide the fact that he was an Israeli citizen. So, too, every effort was made to hide the fact that he was Jewish.

The reason was clear. Given the genocidal Jew-hatred endemic in jihadist doctrine, it was obvious that if Sotloff’s Judaism was exposed, he would have been singled out for torture and execution.

Much has been written since Islamic State released the video of its British executioner chopping off James Foley’s head last month. We have been told by leaders and commentators alike that with this singular crime, Islamic State awakened the sleeping lion of the West. That act of barbarism, we have been assured, will now force the US to lead a global coalition against this Islamic army of butchers.

Clearly Islamic State is not convinced. With the release of the Sotloff beheading video this week, it appears that Islamic State thinks its cinematographers will move the West in another direction – apathy.

Foley’s execution video ended with the preview of coming attractions for the Sotloff execution video.

And the Sotloff execution video ended with the preview of a British hostage’s execution video.

By releasing the films gradually, Islamic State is apparently trying to routinize beheadings. Its leaders are probably betting that by the seventh or eighth beheading video, we will greet the violence with a shrug of our shoulders.

In this, Islamic State is channeling Iran, the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban.

No, it isn’t that all these terror-supporting regimes and terror groups have engaged in beheading. It is simply that when they began engaging in terrorism, their actions shocked the civilized world until their actions didn’t shock the civilized world anymore.

Once the shock wore off, these terror states and enterprises began enjoying the stature of legitimate parties to a political dispute. As Islamic State sees it, it is only a matter of time before it too is accepted as a legitimate force in world affairs.

… In late July, Islamic State forces in Mosul, Iraq, decreed that all girls and women between the ages of 12 and 42 must have their genitals mutilated.

The order was an act of pure evil. Yet it was not particularly controversial within the Islamist context Islamic State operates.

As Soeren Kern wrote for the Gatestone Institute last July, throughout the world, some 140 million women and girls, the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslims, have been subjected to the barbaric practice. Three million girls under the age of 15 are forced to undergo clitoridectomies each year.

In Europe, at least 180,000 Muslim females have undergone this defilement. According to British authorities, in England alone, at least 20,000 girls are at risk of “being cut” each year.

Yet, despite the cruelty and degradation inherent to female genital mutilation, and despite the fact that under British law, anyone found guilty of carrying out this practice is supposed to face criminal charges and up to 14 years in prison, so far no one has been convicted and only a five or six offenders have even been charged for the crime.

There are two principal causes for British authorities’ failure to protect Muslim girls residing in England. First, neither the children themselves, who live in a permanent state of terror and abuse, nor their communities, which turn a blind eye, and so condone the practice, are willing to come forward and finger those responsible for this endemic abuse and violence.

And second, non-Islamic British authorities, including welfare workers and teachers, who are in a position to protect the children, are unwilling to stick their necks out. This unwillingness has two causes.

First, they fear for their lives. The murder of Theo van Gogh and the repeated attempts by Muslim fanatics to execute the Danish cartoonists who drew the caricatures of Muhammad are central components of the cost-benefit analysis most Westerners carry out when considering whether or not to get involved with human rights abuses carried out by Muslims.

Second, they fear excommunication from and defamation at the hands of the Left. Over the past 15 years, the international Left has consistently expanded its political alliance with Islamists in the West.

Among other things, this alliance has required the Left to turn a blind eye to barbaric Islamic practices like female genital mutilation and rape and to defame those who dare to openly oppose these reactionary, obscene behaviors as Islamophobic racists.

And so we have a situation where, both at home and abroad, the West has become habituated to Islamic barbarism and passive in the face of its expanding threat to their lives and their way of life both abroad and at home. Observing this behavior, clearly Islamic State’s terror masters are betting that once habituated to the beheading of Westerners, the West will yawn and go to sleep as Islamic State expands its conquests to additional countries.

It isn’t that the Westerners, led by the leftist elite, lack the ability to feel or express moral outrage. It is just that they refuse to direct it against Islamic jihadists.

And this brings us back to their political alliance with the Islamists.

The only meaningful commonality between Islamist and leftist dogma is hatred for Jews with power, first and foremost for Israel. And the singular creation of this alliance is the sides’ joint determination that it isn’t racist to hate the Jewish state, or Jews who refuse to condemn it.

In this state of affairs, the only outlet that leftists have for their moral outrage is Israel. Because while they fear being called racist, they know that being anti-Semitic will not expose them to charges of racism.

And they know Jews won’t assault them for attacking Israel and its supporters. So they project all the crimes perpetrated by Islamic fanatics on Israel.

For instance, this week Megan Marzec, the president of Ohio University’s Student Senate, posted a video of herself dousing herself in a bucket of “blood.”

Marzec explained, “This bucket of blood symbolizes the thousands of displaced and murdered Palestinians – atrocities which OU is directly complacent in [sic] through cultural and economic ties with the Israeli state.”

In other words, she accused Israel of the crimes Hamas seeks to inflict on Israel, and of the crimes that Islamist forces, such as al-Qaida, Islamic State and Boko Haram, are currently carrying out in their areas of operations.

The growing prevalence of anti-Semitism in leftist circles has placed Jewish leftists in a vulnerable position.

Their ideological movement is denying Jews the right to self-defense and self-determination and siding with Islamists who seek to annihilate them. For a growing number of leftist Jews, their new status as members of a hated group has made them feel it necessary to publicly side with Israel’s enemies against it.

Consider the recent New York Times op-ed by Antony Lerman which ran under the title “The End of Liberal Zionism.”

Lerman insisted that there is no way to square Zionism with liberal values.

According to this disaffected Jewish leftist, “The only Zionism of any consequence today is xenophobic and exclusionary, a Jewish ethno-nationalism inspired by religious messianism. It is carrying out an open-ended project of national self-realization to be achieved through colonization and purification of the tribe.”

But of course, outside the fringes of Israeli society, no such movement exists.

Rather, Lerman is describing Islamic supremacism and, like his fellow leftists, projecting its pathologies on Israel, which Islamic supremacists seek to destroy.

Lerman quoted an article published a few weeks before his in The New York Review of Books by Jonathan Freedland titled “Liberal Zionism After Gaza.”

Freedland argued that as the two-state solution becomes more and more remote, liberal Zionists “will have to decide which of their political identities matters more, whether they are first a liberal or first a Zionist.”

But this is of course absurd. The only way a person can uphold liberal values is by being a Zionist. Israel is the only country in the region that is a human rights-respecting liberal democracy that is governed by the rule of law.

What is becoming more and more difficult is being a Zionist while being a leftist. As the Left becomes more and more tied to Islamic fanatics, anti-Semitism is going to become more and more of a staple of leftist dogma. And that anti-Semitism will express itself first and foremost as a virulent rejection of Israel and of Jews who refuse to disavow and condemn the Jewish state.

Sotloff reportedly maintained faith with his Judaism in secret while in captivity. He refused food on Yom Kippur and secretly prayed toward Jerusalem.

In so doing, he showed that the evil that controlled him physically, could not penetrate his soul. For this he died a Jewish hero.

Leftist Jews must take a lesson from Sotloff, who was reportedly a product of a Jewish-leftist worldview.

They should understand that the decision they are being required to make is not a choice between liberalism and Zionism, but between liberalism and a reactionary dogma that sits comfortably with genocidal Jew-haters and misogynist oppressors. It shouldn’t be a particularly difficult choice.

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Friday Sermon In Spain: ‘Allah, Destroy The Plundering Jews, Do Not Spare A Single One’

In a Friday sermon at Azuqueca De Henares, near Madrid, Sheik Saleheoldine El Moussaoui said that the “plundering Jews” were “the masters of treachery and betrayal,” and prayed: “Oh Allah, the Most Merciful, count them one by one, and do not spare a single one of them.” The sermon was posted on the Internet on August 25, 2014.

Click here for full transcript and original source.

Senior Fatah official justifies shooting Israeli civilians: “There are no innocent Israelis”

Palestinian Media Watch (Aug 27) — Senior Palestinian official and Fatah leader, Abbas Zaki, stated that he does not want the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court, because if Palestinians shoot Israelis they could then be tried in international courts. Discussing this, Zaki added that in his opinion “there are no innocent Israelis.”

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Member of Fatah Central Committee Abbas Zaki:
“I’m against signing the Rome Statute (i.e., joining the International Criminal Court) as long as our country is occupied. If tomorrow you shoot, they’ll say you signed an agreement. This is not meant for people who want to liberate their country… I think the [Palestinian] people’s weapon is pure – they don’t want to kill. By the way, there are no innocent Israelis.”

[Palestine Today TV (Lebanon), Aug. 22, 2014]

Earlier this year, Palestinian Media Watch reported on Zaki’s belief that “Allah, will gather them [Israelis] so we can kill them.”

Click to view more statements by Fatah leader Abbas Zaki.

Support for Hamas skyrockets following war, poll shows

Vast majority of Palestinians say Hamas defeated Israel, and would like to see the same thing happen in the West Bank

F140630ARK33-2-635x357Times of Israel (Sep 3) – An overwhelming majority of Palestinians believe Hamas defeated Israel in the recent Gaza operation, and support the continuation of rocket attacks if Israel does not remove the blockade on Gaza, a new Palestinian poll revealed.

According to the data collected on August 26-30 by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) headed by pollster Khalil Shikaki, 79 percent of Palestinians questioned in Gaza and the West Bank said that Hamas had won the war against Israel, while only 3% said Israel had won. A similar majority believed that Israel was responsible for the breakout of the war.

In stark contrast to predictions voiced during Operation Protective Edge by senior Israeli military officers saying the extent of damage in Gaza would likely turn the civilian population against Hamas, 94% of respondents said they were satisfied with Hamas’s performance in confronting the IDF and 78% were pleased with the movement’s defense of civilians in Gaza. Eighty-six percent of the 1,270 adults questioned in the survey said they supported the continuation of rocket attacks at Israel as long as the blockade on Gaza is maintained.

Asked whether they supported transferring Hamas’s model of armed resistance to the West Bank, 74% of respondents in Gaza and 70% in the West Bank answered in the affirmative.

According to the PSR, the answers given in the poll constitute the most significant shift in Palestinian public opinion toward Hamas since the Islamic movement won internationally monitored elections in 2006.

That change is clear in the approval ratings given to Hamas and its leaders compared to those given to the Palestinian Authority. Hamas received 88% approval for its performance during the war, and its political chief Khaled Mashaal won 78% approval. The Palestinian Authority came in significantly lower, with just 36% approval; its leaders, President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, received 39% and 35%, respectively.

Paradoxically, and worryingly for Israel, Hamas received higher support in the PA-controlled West Bank than it did in Gaza. The poll found that if elections were held today, former Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh would easily defeat Abbas with 61% of the popular vote versus 32%. Sixty-six percent of respondents in the West Bank said they supported Haniyeh, compared to 53% in the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, Abbas received just 25% approval, as opposed to 43% in Gaza. Overall support for the Palestinian Authority president plummeted 11% points in two months, from 50% in June to 39% in August, the poll found.

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Old-fashioned anti-Semitism for progressive thinkers

There is one community in the world, which according to the British newspaper the Independent, can be reasonably called a child murdering community.

By Ben Dror Yemini for Ynet News — Criticism of Israel is not anti-Semitic. We have said it a thousand times, and we should say it a thousand times more. But to understand the difference between legitimate criticism and anti-Semitism, one must go back a few to an article, one of many, published against Israel. It was not criticism of Israel. It was criticism of a “child murdering community”. It was not published in a journal of the Nazi Party in Bavaria. These obscene words were written in the Independent newspaper in Britain. A newspaper for enlightened people, for progressive thinkers.

How exactly did Israel become a “child murdering community “? Well, according to the most extreme version, and the most manipulative, which is based on sources operating under the auspices of Hamas, about 1,800 people were killed during Operation Protective Edge. Let us suppose that this is not a lie. Of that number, 24 percent, it is claimed, were under 18. This is a far higher proportion than the proportion of minors in the actual population, but let’s say that this is true as well. Let’s go with the Hamas data. And according to calculations published in The New York Times, 16 percent of those killed in Gaza were aged below 15.

How did Britain conduct itself in its last major conflict? Well, British troops were involved in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The British medical journal “The Lancet”, which is so acceptable to the British progressive forces, claim that this war, not an occupation that lasted for many years, caused 100,000 deaths. And, according to the same publication, 46 percent of that number were under 15. That is 46,000 children. Not youths, children.

In other words, there was a 46-percent mortality rate for children by the British, 16 percent by Israel. In the case of the UK, which is part of NATO, we can go a little further back, and remember what happened in the bombing of Belgrade in 1999 during the war in Kosovo (Operation Allied Force). The results are the same. Approximately 500 soldiers were killed, and 1,200-1,500 non-combatants, hundreds of them children.

And while Belgrade complained of severe harm to innocent people and children, the late Robin Cook, then foreign secretary responded: “How dare they now produce crocodile tears for people killed in the conflict for which they themselves are responsible.”

Neither the Iraqi nor Serbian armies used children as human shields, nor did they officially announce that they were using children as human shields, as did Hamas. They also did not issue an instruction manual demanding that fighters use concentrations of civilians, as did Hamas. In Baghdad, Basra and Belgrade did not fire rockets at London and Manchester from its schools, as did Hamas. Nevertheless, the British, along with the Americans, caused a far higher number of child deaths, both in relative and absolute terms.

But the Independent newspaper has determined that there is one community in the world that it is permissible to brand as a “child murdering community”. This is not the first time that the phrase is has been bandied about in Europe. The tune is all too familiar. Criticism of Israel, it is worth saying again, is not anti-Semitism. But this progressive British newspaper has clearly shown that sometimes, just sometimes, it is not a criticism, or even new anti-Semitism. Sometimes, it is the old anti-Semitism in all its glory.

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One in six French people say they support ISIS

Vox (Aug 26) — Two polls released this week both ask a question that you would hope wouldn’t need asking: how many people support the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS)? Unfortunately, in all four countries surveyed, the answer is greater than zero, and by a lot.

Here is a chart of the results of the polls. The first, by ICM Research, asked people in Germany, France, and the UK whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of ISIS. The second, by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, asked Gazans whether they support or oppose ISIS. Here are the results.

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First, a caveat: while the polls of Gazans and Europeans are similar, they are not totally identical. They were conducted by different polling agencies using different methods, and the different question could skew responses, as “support” is stronger than “favor.” So keep that in mind when comparing the Gaza results to the others, although it is hard to ignore that ISIS could have a higher approval rating in France than in Gaza.

In any case, the big, scary, surprising, number here is France: 16 percent of those surveyed say they support ISIS. That’s an awful lot. And that number gets even larger as the demographics get younger, as shown in this by-age breakdown published by Russia Today (the poll was commissioned by Russian state media, almost certainly to tar and/or troll Western countries, but that doesn’t make the findings any less disturbing):

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This is alarming, in part because a growing number of Europeans, often from predominantly Muslim immigrant communities, are not just expressing their support for ISIS in polls: they are traveling to Syria and Iraq to join up. The ISIS fighter who killed American journalist James Foley on video last week spoke with a strong London accent. European governments are rightly worried about the implications of this for their own national security.

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Hamas Manual Calls for Hiding Bombs in Civilian Homes

banner3During Operation Protective Edge, IDF soldiers captured a Hamas manual that recommends storing explosives in Gaza’s civilian homes and calls for bringing the battle into populated areas. 

IDF blog (Aug 25) — The IDF has captured a military manual published by the Engineering Corps of Hamas’ military wing, the Al Qassam Brigades.

The explosives manual recommends teaching civilians how to build and store bombs in their homes. According to the manual, the goal is “to transfer combat from open areas to built-up urban areas, which serves the ‘resistance’ [i.e. Hamas] and fighters of Islamic Jihad.”

A picture of the captured explosives manual, which explains how to put bombs in civilian homes.

A picture of the captured explosives manual, which explains how to put bombs in civilian homes.

The manual also states that “it is easier for Jihad fighters to operate inside buildings and to take advantage of this in order to evade reconnaissance planes used to attack and gather intelligence. Additionally, [operating from populated areas] helps strengthen the element of surprise.”

“You Must Use Residents”

In an especially incriminating section entitled “Factors for Successfully Hiding Weapons in Homes,” the manual explains how civilians can be used to hide explosives:

“(1) The activity of hiding weapons in homes needs to be done with secrecy and should not have a military character.

(2) Placing equipment in residential areas needs to be done with household items.

(3) You must use residents of the area in order place the equipment inside.”

Explosives in a Gazan home placed next to a child’s bed.

Explosives in a Gazan home placed next to a child’s bed.

After explaining the advantages of using civilian areas, the manual provides advice for bomb makers in a portion entitled “Hiding and Camouflage of Explosives,” which opens by saying that “the goal is to blend in with the environment, whether in natural areas or in civilian surroundings.”

The manual suggests two techniques for camouflage:

“(1) It’s important to use camouflage material that won’t cause a failure in the explosion, such as adding sand, cement or asphalt to the body of the explosive.

(2) If one must use materials like sand or cement, he should create a 60 cm buffer using foam or sponge material.”

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The Manual’s significance

This manual, like the captured Hamas Urban Warfare Manual, exposes Hamas’ illegal and murderous policy of using civilians during battle. Videos and photos of booby-trapped homes, which the IDF published during Operation Protective Edge, serves as further evidence of these tactics.

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Hamas’ use of its civilians is a serious war crime, and the terrorist organization is responsible for the harm caused to Gaza’s residents.

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Nearly all of ISIS’s 25 deputy leaders in Iraq and Syria have been in US custody

A look at Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a militant group that now rivals Al Qaeda in power and popularity. Video Credit

A look at Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a militant group that now rivals Al Qaeda in power and popularity.

The New York Times (Aug 28) — As fighters for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria continue to seize territory, the group has quietly built an effective management structure of mostly middle-aged Iraqis overseeing departments of finance, arms, local governance, military operations and recruitment.

At the top the organization is the self-declared leader of all Muslims, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a radical chief executive officer of sorts, who handpicked many of his deputies from among the men he met while a prisoner in American custody at the Camp Bucca detention center a decade ago.

He had a preference for military men, and so his leadership team includes many officers from Saddam Hussein’s long-disbanded army.

They include former Iraqi officers like Fadel al-Hayali, the top deputy for Iraq, who once served Mr. Hussein as a lieutenant colonel, and Adnan al-Sweidawi, a former lieutenant colonel who now heads the group’s military council.

The pedigree of its leadership, outlined by an Iraqi who has seen documents seized by the Iraqi military, as well as by American intelligence officials, helps explain its battlefield successes: Its leaders augmented traditional military skill with terrorist techniques refined through years of fighting American troops, while also having deep local knowledge and contacts. ISIS is in effect a hybrid of terrorists and an army.

According to a map of the group developed by Mr. Alhashimi, the Iraqi expert, Mr. Baghdadi has 25 deputies across Iraq and Syria. About one-third were military officers during Mr. Hussein’s rule, and nearly all were imprisoned by American forces.

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Al Qaeda magazine hints of looming attack; urges bombing of Vegas, military targets

Fox News (Aug 28) — A new English-language Al Qaeda magazine features a how-to article on making car bombs and suggests terror targets in the United States, including casinos in Las Vegas, oil tankers and military colleges, and implies that an attack is imminent.

The online publication, called “Palestine-Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience Al-Malahem” and put out by the media arm of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, calls for Muslims around the world to follow “the recipe” provided to set off car bombs in crowded venues. It includes a timeline of “selected jihadi operations” that the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which first flagged the slickly-produced latest edition of the terror publication, finds chilling.

“The timeline concludes with the date 201?’ and blank spaces and question marks for the photo and information of the next attack — implying that it is coming soon.” said MEMRI Executive Director Steve Stalinsky.

There is a suggested list of targets for lone-wolf, or individually executed, terror attacks, including New York’s Times Square, casinos and night clubs in Las Vegas, oil tankers and trains, the Georgia Military College, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, and General Atomics defense contractor in San Diego.

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An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth

A former AP correspondent explains how and why reporters get Israel so wrong, and why it matters.

By Matti Friedman for Tablet August 26, 2014 

friedman620The Israel Story

[Following are excerpts – the full article can be found here]

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is to be found among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry.

A reporter working in the international press corps here understands quickly that what is important in the Israel-Palestinian story is Israel. If you follow mainstream coverage, you will find nearly no real analysis of Palestinian society or ideologies, profiles of armed Palestinian groups, or investigation of Palestinian government. Palestinians are not taken seriously as agents of their own fate. The West has decided that Palestinians should want a state alongside Israel, so that opinion is attributed to them as fact, though anyone who has spent time with actual Palestinians understands that things are more complicated.

***

It is accepted that the conflict is “Israeli-Palestinian,” meaning that it is a conflict taking place on land that Israel controls in which Jews are a majority and Arabs a minority. The conflict is more accurately described as “Israel-Arab,” or “Jewish-Arab”—that is, a conflict between the 6 million Jews of Israel and 300 million Arabs in surrounding countries (or, more broadly, 1 billion Muslims worldwide). This is the conflict that has been playing out in different forms for a century, before Israel existed, before Israel captured the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank, and before the term “Palestinian” was in use.

The “Israeli-Palestinian” framing allows the Jews, a tiny minority in the Middle East, to be depicted as the stronger party. It also includes the implicit assumption that if the Palestinian problem is somehow solved the conflict will be over, though no informed person today believes this to be true…

Hamas is the local representative of radical Islam and is openly dedicated to the eradication of the Jewish minority enclave in Israel, just as Hezbollah is the dominant representative of radical Islam in Lebanon, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and so forth.

Hamas is not, as it freely admits, party to the effort to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It has different goals about which it is quite open and that are similar to those of the groups listed above.

***

Any veteran of the press corps here knows that Hamas intimidation of reporters is real. The fact is that Hamas intimidation is largely beside the point because the actions of Palestinians are beside the point: Most reporters in Gaza believe their job is to document violence directed by Israel at Palestinian civilians.

Many of the people deciding what you will read and see from here view their role not as explanatory but as political. Coverage is a weapon to be placed at the disposal of the side they like.

***

When journalists cover the Jews’ war as more worthy of attention than any other, when they portray the Jews of Israel as the party obviously in the wrong, when they omit all possible justifications for the Jews’ actions and obscure the true face of their enemies, international press coverage has become a morality play starring a familiar villain.

***

Understanding what happened in Gaza this summer means understanding Hezbollah in Lebanon, the rise of the Sunni jihadis in Syria and Iraq, and the long tentacles of Iran. It requires figuring out why countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia now see themselves as closer to Israel than to Hamas. Above all, it requires us to understand what is clear to nearly everyone in the Middle East: The ascendant force in our part of the world is an empowered strain of Islam that assumes different and sometimes conflicting forms, and that is willing to employ extreme violence in a quest to unite the region under its control and confront the West.

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ISIS and Hamas: The Double Standard

isis-terroristsHuffington Post (Aug 20) by Arsen Ostrovsky, an international human rights lawyer — Hamas and ISIS are two sides of the same Islamic terror coin, yet while the West has rightfully united in condemnation and action against ISIS, it has applied a different standard towards Israel, who has been faced with the incessant terror of Hamas.

A chorus of world leaders, from President Obama, the UN Secretary General and Pope Francis — have all been rightfully outraged by the barbaric carnage we are witnessing from ISIS in Iraq.

Even other arch-terrorists, like Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, have called ISIS “a monster”, while Osama Bin Laden, before he was killed, called for al-Qaeda to sever all ties with ISIS due to the group’s “extreme brutality,” saying that it could “harm al-Qaeda’s reputation.”

They have sought to annihilate entire communities of minorities in Iraq, including the ancient Yazidis and Christians. Their tactics and methods have shocked all people with a shred of decency to the very core, including now their gruesome murder and public beheading of American journalist James Foley.

Today, ISIS makes Hezbollah and al Qaeda look like Mother Theresa.

From the use of death squads, beheadings, rape and crucifixions, no one has been spared, especially not women and children. Simply put, their evil and depravity knows no rational bounds.

Calling ISIS a “cancer”, President Obama, with the support of other world leaders, instructed U.S. forces to conduct a military operation in order to prevent the “genocide” of the Yazidis and other minorities in Iraq, saying “the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.”

However, in stark contrast, many of these same world leaders effectively question Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas, with President Obama having called for Israel to institute an “immediate and unconditional” cease fire, while at the same time halting weapons sales to Israel, America’s key ally in the region, as it faces a renewed bombardment of rockets from Hamas.

So, one begs to ask the question — what is the difference between Hamas and ISIS?

Both organizations come from the same radical, murderous Islamic roots with a pervasive indifference to human life, freedom and democracy.

Hamas is essentially Israel’s ISIS — but funded by Iran, assembled on the border of the Jewish state and with genocidal intentions of destroying Israel and killing all Jews around the world.

One need only read Hamas’ own Charter and observe their methods, including using their own children as human shields, while openly professing to Israel “We desire death as you desire life,” to see they are in word and deed made of the same terrorist cloth as ISIS.

Just a few weeks ago, Hamas reiterated again, “Our doctrine in fighting you [the Jews] is that we will totally exterminate you. We will not leave a single one of you alive.”

Yet, the double standards that exist between how the West has (rightfully so) approached the terrorist ISIS and Hamas-Israel conflict, is breathtaking.

The UN Human Rights Council for example has recently ordered another one-sided ‘Fact Finding Mission’ against Israel. It would be better served by dropping this anti-Israel witch-hunt and instead focusing on what are the most egregious human rights violations in this region, such as the attempted genocide of Yazidis by ISIS. But don’t hold your breath.

Last week, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning ISIS for “gross, systematic and widespread abuse of human rights,” but has yet to call out Hamas for their gross human rights violations, including bombarding innocent Israeli civilians, using Palestinians as human shields, while also persecuting women, gays and Christian minorities in Gaza.

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