Jewish Agency: Paris massacre shows time running out for Europe

We’re not building our immigration strategy on tragic events, Jewish Agency chief says, but on the fact that European Jews are increasingly uncomfortable.

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The Times of Israel (Jan 12) — After Islamist terrorists massacred 12 people in the heart of Paris, Jewish Agency head and former Soviet Prisoner of Zion Natan Sharansky said Thursday, “We’re not building our aliyah strategy on tragic events. We’re building it on the fact that there is this place in the world called Europe, where Jews are feeling increasingly uncomfortable.” Sharansky predicted more than 10,000 French Jews will move to Israel in 2015 – breaking 2014’s record of 7,000.

“If France and the other Western nations will not fight quickly and strongly for reestablishing the civilization of liberal nations, Europe is in danger,” he said. “The exodus of Jews, as many times in the past, is the first harbinger, a warning of where it goes.”

“It was an ideological decision of this post-modern Europe that all cultures have the same values and therefore we cannot demand from them to change, to betray their culture for the sake of ours.” Large parts of France’s huge Muslim immigrant community don’t feel loyal to the liberal values of society, he asserted. “Multiculturalism…created inside the society of a proud liberal nation a society of people who believe they can really challenge freedom of speech by terror.”

France’s error was to give citizenship to millions without demanding that they share French values, and it made this mistake because it believes that values are something relative.

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From Egypt’s leader, an ambitious call for reform in Islam

El-Sissi says the religion should be purged of extremist ideas that fuel groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

The Times of Israel (Jan 8) — Egypt’s president opened the new year with a dramatic call for a “revolution” in Islam to reform interpretations of the faith entrenched for hundreds of years, which he said have made the Muslim world a source of “destruction” and pitted it against the rest of the world.

The speech was Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s boldest effort yet to position himself as a modernizer of Islam. His professed goal is to purge the religion of extremist ideas of intolerance and violence that fuel groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State — and that appear to have motivated Wednesday’s attack in Paris on a French satirical newspaper that killed 12 people.

But those looking for the “Muslim Martin Luther” bringing a radical Reformation of Islam may be overreaching — and making a false comparison to begin with. El-Sissi is clearly seeking to impose change through the state, using government religious institutions like the 1,000-year-old al-Azhar, one of the most eminent centers of Sunni Muslim thought and teaching…

In his Jan. 1 speech at al-Azhar addressing Muslim clerics — held to mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday — el-Sissi called on them to promote a reading of Islamic texts in a “truly enlightened” manner to reconsider concepts “that have been made sacred over hundreds of years.”

By such thinking, the Islamic world is “making enemies of the whole world. So 1.6 billion people (in the Muslim world) will kill the entire world of 7 billion? That’s impossible … We need a religious revolution.”

Following are excerpts from El-Sissi’s speech:

Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi: We spoke earlier about the importance of the religious discourse, and I would like to reiterate that we are not doing enough with regard to true religious discourse. The problem has never been with our faith. Perhaps the problem lies in ideology, and this ideology is sanctified among us. I am talking about religious discourse that is in keeping with its times.

[…]

I am adressing the religious scholars and clerics. We must take a long, hard look at the current situation. I have talked about this several times in the past. We must take a long, hard look at the situation we are in. It is inconceivable that the ideology we sanctify should make our entire nation a source of concern, danger, killing, and destruction all over the world. It is inconceivable that this ideology… I am referring not to “religion,” but to “ideology” – the body of ideas and texts that we have sanctified in the course of centuries, to the point that challenging them has become very difficult.

It has reached the point that [this ideology] is hostile to the entire world. Is it conceivable that 1.6 billion [Muslims] would kill the world’s population of seven billion, so that they could live [on their own]? This is inconceivable. I say these things here, at Al-Azhar, before religious clerics and scholars. May Allah bear witness on Judgment Day to the truth of your intentions, regarding what I say to you today. You cannot see things clearly when you are locked [in this ideology]. You must emerge from it and look from outside, in order to get closer to a truly enlightened ideology. You must oppose it with resolve. Let me say it again: We need to revolutionize our religion.

Honorable Imam [the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar], you bear responsibility before Allah. The world in its entirety awaits your words, because the Islamic nation is being torn apart, destroyed, and is heading to perdition. We ourselves are bringing it to perdition.

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Paris Terror Attack: War between freedom and tyranny

Some thoughts on the terror attack in Paris this Wednesday against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo:

For people who love freedom to win this war we have to first of all define the war and the enemy.

This is a war between good and evil.
Between freedom and tyranny.
Between freedom of speech and Sharia-approved speech.

And the enemy is radical Islam.

The problem is not “lone wolves”, not crazy people, not poor people without opportunities. No more excuses and justifications for these acts of savagery. Let’s throw political correctness in the garbage where it belongs and call a spade a spade.

You cannot defeat an enemy you cannot identify.

Let’s defend people’s right to say what they want even if we don’t agree with it.

Let’s all join together, left and right; Christians, Jews, and Muslims; Americans, Europeans, Africans, Asians and everything in between and unite on the principles of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience; and on the values of kindness, honesty, tolerance, and malice towards none and charity towards all.

‪#‎JeSuisCharlie‬

How to Answer the Paris Terror Attack

A very important op-ed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali for the Wall Street Journal, 8 January 2015:

JeSuisCharlieAfter the horrific massacre Wednesday at the French weekly satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, perhaps the West will finally put away its legion of useless tropes trying to deny the relationship between violence and radical Islam.

This was not an attack by a mentally deranged, lone-wolf gunman. This was not an “un-Islamic” attack by a bunch of thugs—the perpetrators could be heard shouting that they were avenging the Prophet Muhammad. Nor was it spontaneous. It was planned to inflict maximum damage, during a staff meeting, with automatic weapons and a getaway plan. It was designed to sow terror, and in that it has worked.

The West is duly terrified. But it should not be surprised.

If there is a lesson to be drawn from such a grisly episode, it is that what we believe about Islam truly doesn’t matter. This type of violence, jihad, is what they, the Islamists, believe.

There are numerous calls to violent jihad in the Quran. But the Quran is hardly alone. In too much of Islam, jihad is a thoroughly modern concept. The 20th-century jihad “bible,” and an animating work for many Islamist groups today, is “The Quranic Concept of War,” a book written in the mid-1970s by Pakistani Gen. S.K. Malik. He argues that because God, Allah, himself authored every word of the Quran, the rules of war contained in the Quran are of a higher caliber than the rules developed by mere mortals.

In Malik’s analysis of Quranic strategy, the human soul—and not any physical battlefield—is the center of conflict. The key to victory, taught by Allah through the military campaigns of the Prophet Muhammad, is to strike at the soul of your enemy. And the best way to strike at your enemy’s soul is through terror. Terror, Malik writes, is “the point where the means and the end meet.” Terror, he adds, “is not a means of imposing decision upon the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose.”

Those responsible for the slaughter in Paris, just like the man who killed the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004, are seeking to impose terror. And every time we give in to their vision of justified religious violence, we are giving them exactly what they want.

In Islam, it is a grave sin to visually depict or in any way slander the Prophet Muhammad. Muslims are free to believe this, but why should such a prohibition be forced on nonbelievers? In the U.S., Mormons didn’t seek to impose the death penalty on those who wrote and produced “The Book of Mormon,” a satirical Broadway sendup of their faith. Islam, with 1,400 years of history and some 1.6 billion adherents, should be able to withstand a few cartoons by a French satirical magazine. But of course deadly responses to cartoons depicting Muhammad are nothing new in the age of jihad.

Moreover, despite what the Quran may teach, not all sins can be considered equal. The West must insist that Muslims, particularly members of the Muslim diaspora, answer this question: What is more offensive to a believer—the murder, torture, enslavement and acts of war and terrorism being committed today in the name of Muhammad, or the production of drawings and films and books designed to mock the extremists and their vision of what Muhammad represents?

To answer the late Gen. Malik, our soul in the West lies in our belief in freedom of conscience and freedom of expression. The freedom to express our concerns, the freedom to worship who we want, or not to worship at all—such freedoms are the soul of our civilization. And that is precisely where the Islamists have attacked us. Again.

How we respond to this attack is of great consequence. If we take the position that we are dealing with a handful of murderous thugs with no connection to what they so vocally claim, then we are not answering them. We have to acknowledge that today’s Islamists are driven by a political ideology, an ideology embedded in the foundational texts of Islam. We can no longer pretend that it is possible to divorce actions from the ideals that inspire them.

This would be a departure for the West, which too often has responded to jihadist violence with appeasement. We appease the Muslim heads of government who lobby us to censor our press, our universities, our history books, our school curricula. They appeal and we oblige. We appease leaders of Muslim organizations in our societies. They ask us not to link acts of violence to the religion of Islam because they tell us that theirs is a religion of peace, and we oblige.

What do we get in return? Kalashnikovs in the heart of Paris. The more we oblige, the more we self-censor, the more we appease, the bolder the enemy gets.

There can only be one answer to this hideous act of jihad against the staff of Charlie Hebdo. It is the obligation of the Western media and Western leaders, religious and lay, to protect the most basic rights of freedom of expression, whether in satire on any other form. The West must not appease, it must not be silenced. We must send a united message to the terrorists: Your violence cannot destroy our soul.

Ms. Hirsi Ali, a fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, is the author of “Infidel” (2007). Her latest book, “Heretic: The Case for a Muslim Reformation,” will be published in April by HarperCollins.

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“We have avenged Muhammad”: Muslims murder 12 at French satirical mag

If they had mocked Jesus only, they would have been lauded and feted by the Western media and intelligentsia. Instead, they also mocked Muhammad, and were thus derided as “Islamophobic.” Now Islamic jihadis have murdered them, in accord with the death penalty for blasphemy in Islam.

charlie-hebdo-mohammed-cartoon-franceMore jihad savagery in France: “Charlie Hebdo: Gun attack on French magazine kills 12,” BBC, January 7, 2015:

Gunmen have attacked the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people and injuring seven in an apparent Islamist attack.

At least two masked attackers opened fire with assault rifles in the office and exchanged shots with police in the street outside before escaping by car.

The gunmen shouted “we have avenged the Prophet Muhammad”, witnesses say.

President Francois Hollande said there was no doubt it had been a terrorist attack “of exceptional barbarity”.

A major police operation is under way in the Paris area to catch the killers.

The satirical weekly has courted controversy in the past with its irreverent take on news and current affairs. It was fire-bombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

The latest tweet on Charlie Hebdo’s account was a cartoon of the Islamic State militant group leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi….

Poll: 86% of Israeli Jews, 65% of Israeli Arabs proud to be Israeli

Fantastic numbers!

Although not surprising for the only free country in the Middle East with democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, a free press etc. Which is everything you would expect from the Jewish state.

An Arab woman sells holiday decorations during the Festival of Festivals. (photo credit:ARIEL COHEN)

An Arab woman sells holiday decorations during the Festival of Festivals. (photo credit:ARIEL COHEN)

The Jerusalem Post (Jan 5) —  Both Jews and Arabs are proud to be Israeli, according to the extensive annual Israel Democracy Institute Democracy Index, which IDI president Yohanan Plesner and academic director Tamar Hermann presented to President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday.

The poll of 1,007 respondents, representing a statistical sample of the Israeli adult population, has a margin of error of only 3.2 percent.

Since 2003, the Index has served as a critical barometer of Israeli public opinion for Israeli politicians, government decision-makers, and newspapers of record around the world.

The poll found that 86% of Israeli Jews and 65% of Israeli Arabs described themselves as either very or quite proud to be Israeli. Only 13% of Jews and 34% of Arabs were not so proud or not proud at all to be Israeli.

When asked which institutions they trust the most, Israeli Jews said the IDF (88%), the president (71%) and Supreme Court (62%).

The institutions trusted the least are the Knesset (35%), Chief Rabbinate (29%) and media (28%).

Among Israeli Arabs, the most trusted institutions are the Supreme Court (60%), the police (57%), president (56%) and, surprisingly, the IDF (51%). The institutions least trusted by Arabs are the media (37%), Knesset (36%) and religious leaders (36%).

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Egypt prepares to destroy an additional 1,200 homes in Gaza

If you replace the word “Egypt” with “Israel” in that headline it would be on the front page of every newspaper in the world. But since it doesn’t say Israel, the media and the political elite couldn’t care less.

184975_345x230Ma’an News Agency (Jan 1) —  An Egyptian committee has finished surveying the homes of individuals living between 500-1,000 meters of the Gaza border in preparation for the extension of a buffer zone on the border to a width of 1,000 meters, Egyptian military sources said Friday.

The move comes after the destruction of hundreds of homes inside the 500-meter area previously, as part of a wider effort to ensure that the joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip be fully carried out.

The technical engineering committee that carried out the survey examined around 1,200 homes in the area in preparation for their demolition in the 13-kilometer long stretch of border territory.

Work on the buffer zone on the Egyptian side began in Feb. 2014, but was at the time slated to extend only about 300 meters in urban areas and 500 in rural areas.

After a bombing killed more than 30 Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai in October, however, the military stepped up the campaign to build the buffer zone amid accusations of Hamas support for the group that carried out the attack, which Hamas has strenuously denied.

Both sides of the border are densely populated as the city of Rafah originally extended in both directions, a growth that was the result of the Israeli occupation of the Sinai Peninsula for more than a decade following the 1967 war.

In the early 2000s Israeli authorities demolished thousands of homes in Palestinian Rafah in order to create a 300-meter buffer zone on the Egypt border, but after the pull-out in 2005, many moved back into the area.

The Egyptian government, which has actively destroyed smuggling tunnels underneath the border and directly targeted Hamas since a military coup in summer 2013, has now promised to uproot as many as possible to ensure the creation of a buffer zone on its side.

The border area used to be host to hundreds of tunnels which Gazans used to import goods to get around the seven-year-old Israeli siege of the territory.

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