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Sleight of hand at the UN

In Uncategorized on December 1, 2012 at 03:08

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Yesterday’s ill-considered decision by 138 nations of the UN General Assembly to extend non-member observer status to the Palestinian National Authority touched off celebrations throughout Gaza. That is because Hamas, not the Palestinian people, emerged as the  clear winner.

Misrepresenting himself as the leader of the Palestinian people, Mahmoud Abbas solemnly told delegates that, “The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: Enough of aggression, settlements and occupation.”

He went on to assure the Assembly that he “came to launch a final serious attempt to achieve peace,” then demanded nothing less than “the realization of [the Palestinian people’s] inalienable national rights in their independent State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on all the land of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, which Israel occupied in the June 1967 war, in conformity with the resolutions of international legitimacy and with the achievement of a just and agreed upon solution to the Palestine refugee issue in accordance with resolution 194, as stipulated in the Arab Peace Initiative which presented the consensus Arab vision to resolve the core the Arab-Israeli conflict and to achieve a just and comprehensive peace.”

First, it must be clearly understood that Mahmoud Abbas is no more the representative of the Palestinian people than Yassir Arafat was.

At present, Mahmoud Abbas is leader of nothing. He was elected president of the Palestinian National Authority in 2005 on the Fatah ticket, and his term ended in 2009. On his own authority, he extended his term for another year. Since then, he has neither legitimate authority nor standing.

In 2006, Hamas defeated Fatah for rule over Gaza. And if an election was held in the West Bank today, Hamas would win a landslide victory over Mahmoud Abbas, as evidenced by celebration throughout the West Bank after Hamas terrorists launched hundreds of missiles into Israel, murdering innocent citizens.

Nor is Mahmoud Abbas authorized to speak for the 1.3 million Palestinians still living in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and Gaza.

A question I have posed many times before is, which Palestinian State is Mahmoud Abbas talking about? The Palestine of the West Bank or the Palestine of Gaza, isolated from one another by culture, politics, the Negev Desert, and thirty miles of Israel?

The UN also would have done better to take another look at the pre-1967 borders, which they treat as though the Six-Day War was micro-imperialism on the part of Israel.

In the summer of 1967, Israel was surrounded and ridiculously outnumbered by enemies who joined forces to drive every Jew into the sea, joking that they hoped the fish were hungry.

But these massive, heavily-equipped armies lost both their dignity and the war, leaving Israel in control of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, the Golan Heights, and the West Bank—not as a land grab, but as a reasonable and necessary defense against another genocidal attack.

Even so, twelve years later, nearly two years after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat came to Israel with a sincere offer of peace, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt.

But Sadat was assassinated and Hosni Mubarak was overthrown, and today, Egypt is in the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, leaving Sinai an open corridor for weapons into Gaza. Iranian weapons—Grad and Fajr-5 missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, and shoulder-held anti-tank missiles—are built in Sudan by Iran or shipped to Sudan from Iran. From Khartoum, the weapons are taken overland through eastern Sudan, into Egypt, up through Sinai, and into Gaza through a warren of tunnels. Totally unopposed by Egypt!

It is important to remember, too, that Israel did the same thing with Gaza as with Sinai. In 2006, Israel pulled out of Gaza entirely, even arresting their own settlers who refused to leave and exhuming their dead from the cemeteries. All for the promise of peace.

The fruit of both concessions was evident a week ago when Hamas extremists in Gaza used weapons smuggled to them through Egypt to attack Israelis. Just as they did throughout two intifadas, Hamas jihadis fired missiles from heavily populated areas, using their own people, including many children, as human shields. As the smoke rose and the corpses were dug out of the debris, they wept and wailed and used the deaths for fundraising. But the blood of those precious Palestinian children is not on the hands of Israel; it stains the hands of Hamas.

And now the wisdom of the international community is for Israel to withdraw from the West Bank as well? Israel’s enemies failed to shoot it, so now they are trying to force it to commit suicide. This will never happen.

Tomorrow is the deadline by the “Quartet” (US, UN, EU, and Russia) for Israel and Palestine to present a timeframe for agreement over territory and security. But the ploy by Mahmoud Abbas at the UN, a move to edge Israel out of the process—combined with the power grab by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan—could prove to be a shot below the waterline that will sink the fragile peace process altogether.

Another Muhammad Movie in the Works

In HAMAS, ISLAM, MUHAMMAD, SON OF HAMAS on September 19, 2012 at 16:44

Son of top Hamas leader to produce epic historical account of the prophet Muhammad despite controversy surrounding Anti-Islam film.

Mosab Hassan Yousef, author of the NY Times bestseller Son of Hamas, condemns the film Innocence of Muslims, on one hand, and the ignition of violent protests throughout the Arab world, on the other.

Innocence of Muslims is clearly not even worth mentioning,” released Yousef, the son of a top Hamas leader who turned his back on his father’s terrorist organization and worked to save the lives of many innocent people from terrorism. “While I personally find this Anti-Islam ‘video’ tasteless and insulting, it is the price we pay for democracy and freedom. This video is obscene and offensive to both Muslims and non-Muslims and to make matters worse, political and religious parties are taking advantage of this state of chaos and confusion to push their agendas. And when governments submit to their will, they reward and legitimize the terrorists and threaten everyone’s freedom to hear the truth and openly express their opinions. Our freedoms cannot be hijacked by violence.”

Brushing off the accusations across the Middle Eastern media that Mr. Yousef played the lead role in the video he commented,“Anyone with the ability to see with their eyes, can see that these are unjust lies spread as a smear campaign against me. Another form of terrorism. More importantly, I am saddened by the murder of US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the three American security guards in Libya,” he added, “which Al-Qaeda as it turned out, had plotted to execute on 9/11 regardless of the movie. My condolences to the victims’ families.”

Recently back from his trip to Israel where Yousef announced his plans to make an epic $30M film version of the Islamic leader, Yousef said his vision will not insult Islam nor be a religious film, but be based on historical facts taken from the most trusted Islamic resources. “Islam deserves to be represented in this arena like all other religions. We cannot expect religions to peacefully co-exist if we do not have some sort of equality in how we can celebrate all religions and question their beliefs.”

Unlike convicted felon Nakoula Bassely Nakoula, aka Sam Bacile, the man behind the film Innocence of Muslims, Yousef was born a Muslim, the grandson of an Imam, and the son of an Imam who also founded the Islamic terrorist organization Hamas. Yousef is now casting the film and promises that it will be at par with some of the most respected Historical movies produced in Hollywood and around the world.

In the footsteps of their father

In HAMAS, ISLAM on April 15, 2011 at 23:56

Huweida Arraf, one of the leaders of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) called the hanging of ISF activist Vitorrio Arrigone (36) a “senseless killing.”

And it was, absolutely. But not for the reason Ms. Arraf cited.

“Vittorio was really loved in Gaza,” she told reporters. “I didn’t think there was even a 1 percent chance they would kill him. It was a complete shock.”

Yes, he was loved. Ever since his 2008 arrival in Gaza, Arrigone had identified himself with the plight of the Palestinian people. He shared our pain, wept for our children, and opposed Israel, convinced that Zionists are responsible for all of our troubles. On April 5, thousands of Palestinians turned out to a Hamas rally to honor the Italian militant.

And now he’s dead—a “barbaric murder” and a “vile and irrational gesture of violence on the part of extremists indifferent to the value of a human life,” said the Italian Foreign Ministry. Killed by an al-Qaeda-inspired Salafi group that sees Hamas as too tame and too slow.

Mr. Arrigone is dead, not in spite of the fact that he loved and was loved, but because he did not understand.

ISM activist Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli army bulldozer in southern Gaza in 2003 because she did not understand. That same year, a British ISM activist was shot to death by an Israeli soldier because he did not understand.

Senseless killings all.

These compassionate Westerners, along with the pro-Palestinian activists aboard the Mavi Marmara a year ago and a thousand more in the 15-ship Freedom Flotilla that plans to test the Israeli blockade next month, rush into the Palestinian territories like bulls—backs arched, heads down, committed, determined, righteous, and ignorant.

They pour into Gaza to condemn and ease a non-existent humanitarian crisis. They come to bully Israel and shame the international community. They wrap black and white kefiyehs around their necks, drink strong coffee, march, and shout through bullhorns. And they die. Victims of the movement they don’t understand. Of the very religion they defend. Of the politics that manipulates them like pawns and shrugs when they are sacrificed.

Their hearts are too big for their heads. They stop their ears when we warn of the complexities of the Middle East conflicts. They get a little sand in their shoes and lamb in their bellies and think they understand. But they know nothing of the oceans of blood soaked into Middle Eastern sands over fourteen centuries, shed by Muslim swords.

They cannot or will not see that the Salafis follow in their father Muhammad’s footsteps, killing infidels wherever they find them. A caption on the YouTube video that showed a bruised and blindfolded Arrigoni called Italy “the infidel state.” To them, Mr. Arrigoni was an infidel, no matter how much he was loved by the Palestinian people.

They cannot or will not see that Hamas follows in its father Muhammad’s footsteps, playing politics when it suits them, building schools when they need to, blowing up school buses when they have the opportunity.

The good, bad, and indifferent are all Islam. And Islam, more than a religion or a cultural or political system, is an excuse. Anything and everything is justified in the name of Allah, reflecting the countless contradictions and errors in the Qur’an itself.

Unless Westerners open their eyes and ears (see www.thequran.com), and begin to act with their heads as well as their hearts, Islam will devour more victims like Vitorrio Arrigone.

More flotillas will challenge the Israeli blockade, some bringing food and activists from Western nations, others bringing long-range rockets, surface-to-air missiles, and sophisticated anti-tank weapons and explosives from Iran, Syria, Russia, and China.

And Islam will advance unopposed to fill the leadership vacuums in Egypt and throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

What’s the media afraid of?

In ISLAM, SON OF HAMAS on March 24, 2011 at 23:55

People who heard me say that Islam will cease to exist before 2019 always ask me, what can we do to help make that happen?

As I’ve said again and again, truth is Islam’s worst enemy. My people have been in the Dark Ages for fourteen centuries. They desperately need an Islamic Reformation like the Protestant Reformation led by Martin Luther, William Tyndale, and other church fathers.

The key now, as then, is truth.

What the printing press was to the ignorance of the 15th century, the Internet, smart phones, and the social network are to ignorance in the new millennium.

But by far, the most revolutionary development to take place since Muhammad is thequran.com. Yet, virtually no one has heard of it.

The media appears to be terrified and won’t let me or anybody else connected with the project on the air to talk about it.

Why? Even FOX News, that followed my story—including Homeland Security’s attempt to deport me—when it was politically incorrect to do so, won’t put me on to talk about thequran.com. Policy-shaping men and women who know the truth about Islam are afraid to show the Islamic world where it can go to learn that same truth.

It breaks my heart, because everyone connected with the project has sacrificed everything, even risking their lives, to expose the countless lies and errors in the Qur’an and liberate 1.5 billion people who have been taught that Islam’s holiest book is from the mouth of God who cannot lie or be wrong.

For years, thequran.com project has been painstakingly developed by scores of former Muslims and passionate Islamic scholars representing a variety of Arabic and Middle-Eastern cultural backgrounds, as well as educational specialties in the field of Islamic studies. They include Islamic researchers, academic teachers, scholars, writers, editors, and translators and span several continents.

This project is not a bunch of Western Christians dissing Islam’s holy book. It’s former Muslims, just like me, who have the courage to challenge the system. Who said, okay, if our Qur’an is the word of God, it should easily stand up to scrutiny. If God said it, there will be no mistakes in it. So they examined it, and they discovered the truth.

No one has ever analyzed the Qur’an like this. Only 25 percent of the world’s Muslims speak, read or write Arabic, So they can’t even understand it, much less criticize it.

As for the rest, they chant the Qur’an five times a day with no idea what they are saying, what it means, or how it fits in the context of the rest of the book. Because it is chanted, it takes on a mystical aura of holiness that captures their emotions and their hearts. They are indoctrinated from birth that their religious leaders are not to be questioned, and those who dare are scolded, ridiculed, even beaten.

Can you begin to see why thequran.com is so important?

Any Muslim on the planet can click on the site in complete privacy and examine the Qur’an, word by word, line by line, sura by sura. Every scientific error is noted. Every historical error. Every grammatical error. Every geographical error. Every contradiction. The site also includes scholarly articles and analyses.

And now, The Qur’an Dilemma, Volume One (the first nine suras, or chapters) is available in a beautiful, fully-annotated hardcover book!

The research text was translated from Arabic to give English-speaking readers the opportunity to see the Qur’an through lenses that are not fogged by propaganda or missionary zeal.

The Qur’an Dilemma presents the text of the Qur’an with parallel commentary, addressing important issues that Muslim scholars have wrestled with for centuries, shedding light on their attempts to resolve them, and giving an overview of the various schools of thought.

This book is for non-Muslims who want to unravel the mysteries of Islam and for Muslims, who want to decide for themselves their intellectual and spiritual paths. And even though Volume One covers only the first nine suras,* it is more than enough to prove that the Qur’an is not God’s words, is not infallible, is not inerrant—and to cast serious doubt on the validity of Islam itself.

So, you want to know what you can do to hasten the Islamic Reformation?

Buy the book. Buy multiple copies, and give them to your friends (you would be hard pressed to find a more beautiful and informative gift).

Do you have Muslim friends, neighbors or coworkers who have talked to you about Islam? Present them with a copy of the book. In Arab culture, gifts are received with great appreciation, and they are likely to read it if only to honor you.

Please visit thequran.com, where you can purchase copies of The Quran Dilemma. Or, if you wish, you can purchase both the English-language and Arabic-language edition at on Amazon.

 

*The second volume of The Qur’an Dilemma (suras 11-114, is in production and will be available both in English and Arabic in 2012

Up the revolution!

In ISLAM on February 24, 2011 at 05:05

“In a revolution, as in a novel, the most difficult part to invent is the end.”

Alexis de Tocqueville

Go to the BBC. Go to Al Jazeera. Go to Facebook, Twitter or any of thousands of blogs. What do you see?

The beginning of the end of Islam.

The violence and deaths are terrible. The Libyan massacre is criminal. The transitions are dangerous. Yet, the revolution is good news.

Two years ago, FOX produced a six-part documentary called “Escape from Hamas.” At the end of the first part, I told Jonathan Hunt that “I believe Islam is collapsing already. It looks from the outside like it’s growing. But from the inside, it’s completely collapsing. It’s not giving answers to the people. It’s not improving their lives. It’s not helping them at all. Within ten years, that’s it, Islam’s going to be over.”

I didn’t have inside information. I just knew the transformational influence that Al Hayat TV’s Arabic-language programming had on my life in Ramallah. Today, Al Hayat reaches 95 percent of the Arabic-speaking world. At any given time, between 20 and 50 million Arabs watch its informative and motivational satellite programs. They hear indisputable facts about Islam and the Prophet that no one in their communities would dare even to whisper, truth that is toppling the pillars of Islam.

I also knew two years ago that everybody today is plugged in. Information that has been hidden from Muslims for 1,400 years is suddenly at their fingertips with the click of a mouse. And anyone can pull a phone/mini-computer the size of a cigarette pack out of their pocket or purse and talk to one another across the street, across town, at the other end of the country, on the other side of the world.

With every news update from North Africa and the Middle East, the region emerges a little more from the Dark Ages.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Christian Church collapsed into a socio-political theocracy like Islam. Only priests had bibles, and few could even read them. For Christians, like Muslims, life became mindless obedience to man-made dogma and superstition. When Martin Luther nailed those ninety-five theses to the door of All Saints Church, his hammer echoed beyond Wittenberg to the remote corners of Europe. The Reformation would have dawned much sooner if he could have posted a few bullet points on Facebook.

Islamic political regimes cannot survive exposure. They cannot suppress informed people. They can’t fight social networks.

For 14 centuries, Islam crouched inside towering walls of isolation and ignorance. But the information and technology revolutions are shattering them like trumpet blasts before Jericho’s gates.

And the lies come tumbling down.

One of the biggest lies that has kept Islam alive is the belief that there is a difference between radical and moderate Islam. Islam is one, no matter where someone stands on the ladder between culture and jihad.

Another is the nature of Muhammad. Today, 1.5 billion Muslims follow a man they don’t know. Modern Muhammad is the creation of their imaginations. He bears no resemblance to the vile man who built a self-serving dynasty by oppressing his people and killing, in God’s name, everyone who opposed him.

On the other hand, today’s despots bear a striking likeness to the true Muhammad. Mubarak, Gaddafi, Ahmadinejad are Islamic leaders who get their strength from Islam and maintain their iron grip by Islam. They are the same stripe as caliphs from Muhammad and Abu Bakr to Al-Mustansir Billah and Abdul Majid.

But most Muslims do not understand this. They think, like Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, that the solution to all their problems is to return to Islam. They are like my father, who wants change but does not understand that the strength of the system he hates comes from Islam itself.

So what can we do to hasten Islam’s destruction?

We need another revolution. A second revolution against Muhammad and the Qur’an itself.

Al Hayat TV is systematically undermining the foundations of Islam. At the same time, on websites like www.thequran.com, Islamic scholars—not Western theologians—disassemble the Qur’an and its variant readings, word by word, verse by verse, sura by sura and expose every historical, grammatical, social, political and scientific error and contradiction in what its followers are taught is a flawless, inerrant holy book.

Al-Hayat

The young men now in the Middle East, this confused generation, are angry and hungry and trying to bring down their political systems. They need to understand that their real fight is not against systems but against the ideology that spawned the systems. Only when Muhammad and the Qur’an are exposed will the people of North Africa and the Middle East have freedom. If we fail to reach them with the truth, they will rebuild far worse regimes than those they tore down.

When Christians understand the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, they become different people. And when Muslims understand the fraud that has oppressed them for centuries, they will look for a different way. They too will have the opportunity to become different people, free people. And the leaders that emerge from a free people will promote and protect their freedoms.

After we expose the true nature of Islam to the Muslim world, we must open the eyes of the rest of the world that tolerates and accommodates Islam.

If we join the information revolution alongside our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters, it will not take ten years to destroy Islam. Islam will not survive even two more years.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prophesied that “the wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world.” I believe him. But the global revolution will be against Islam, not of Islam.

Middle East up for grabs

In EGYPT on January 30, 2011 at 05:35

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Reuters

The current administration may not believe in American exceptionalism, but it has been handed a golden opportunity to make America exceptional.

A good first step was putting Egypt’s $1.5 billion U.S. aid package on the table, insisting that, if Hosni Mubarak expects to cash that check, “there must be reform—political, social and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people,” adding that the Egyptian president “has a responsibility to give meaning to” his recently promised reforms.

The same thing, however, holds true for the Washington ultimatum.

Actually, the government is only saying what every administration since Eisenhower should have been saying and acting upon.

Unlike any other country, America was founded on a Constitution that ensures basic human rights. Yet, for more than half a century, America and the West have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to flagrant human rights abuses in Egypt and other countries they support. Tyrants loot and torture their own people, yet we maintain an uninterrupted flow of aid dollars to ensure low gas prices and protect favorable trade agreements.

Even today, as clouds of black smoke choke much of the Middle East, Western eyes are glued to pump prices, when our hearts should be broken over decades of needless human suffering. And what did we get by compromising our principles? Next week, we will still pay $4 a gallon. And the Middle East is unraveling.

Whether Mubarak stays or follows his family to London, the Muslim Brotherhood has gained ground in Cairo. And Cairo controls the border with Israel, which determines the flow of Iranian weapons to Hamas, the daughter of the Brotherhood. Cairo controls the Suez Canal, the global passageway for oil distribution, which  affects the economy of every oil-producer in the Middle East, as well as the schizophrenic world economy.

Hezbollah has taken Lebanon. If no one intervenes, Jordan will follow Egypt. And Pakistan will not be far down the line with its prize of nuclear weapons.

The Middle East has become a jungle. Rage and revenge are the driving forces. No one can guess what will happen next. Politicians and pundits are turning themselves inside out trying to get their heads around every new, unforeseen development. Trying to connect dots, construct scenarios, predict direction and momentum, prepare for an endgame that no one can envision . . . or dares to imagine.

Oppressed people have discovered that the Tunisia Effect is exportable.

But Mubarak is not the only object of Egyptian wrath. The United States is viewed as his co-conspirator, the muscle that enabled him to hold onto his dictatorship for 30 years.

The mobs hate him. They hate us.

They Tweet anger and revenge and fan the flames on Facebook, forgetting that it was the United States that gave them the social network that overthrew Ben Ali and has Mubarak on the defensive. Forgetting that the $1.5 billion is for them, that we are the givers, not the thieves. They want change, jobs, education. They want to be able to afford food for their families—all of which we want for them. They need to remember, as they struggle to throw off their oppressors, that we are their friends, not their enemies. They enjoy the benefits of inventions and discoveries in medicine, housing, education, energy, transportation and agriculture that came from the West.

Yes, our governments have made wrong choices. But they don’t imprison and torture us. The streets of our cities are not clogged with tanks and troops. Our newspapers print whatever they want. We worship any way we want, read what we want, say what we want, come and go freely, provide for our families. And we are the first to show up with help at the scene of any disaster, anywhere in the world.

Nevertheless, Western governments need to stop compromising their values for the bottom line. We must stop supporting regimes that are guilty of systemic human rights abuses.

Diplomacy is unlikely to turn the tide in the Middle East. One of the most effective things we can do now is go to our keyboards and engage the Egyptian people. Assure them, one on one, that we are with them. If the social network can help bring down governments, it can help to rebuild them. If it can spread hatred, it can spread hope.

Radical? Absolutely!

Crazy?

Crazy is to let evil triumph while good men do nothing. Because the truth is that America is filled with good men and women. America is exceptional.

And despite the self-serving decisions and failed policies of the past five decades, it is not yet too late for the West to serve as an architect of a stable and perhaps even democratic Middle East.

That it’s not false doesn’t make it true

In HAMAS on December 15, 2010 at 01:46

Israeli journalist Zvi Bar’el wrote an item in Haaretz recently that got a lot of people excited, people who suddenly had hope that peace between Palestinians and Israelis might be within reach after all.

They were wrong.

PNA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the report said, “told foreign journalists that his group will respect the results of any referendum on a peace agreement with Israel, even if the agreement runs contrary to the movement’s principles. Moreover, ‘Hamas will not oppose the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, whose capital is Jerusalem, and which includes a resolution of the refugee problem and the release of prisoners from Israeli jails.’ ”

Wow!

“Not a return of refugees, not the destruction of the State of Israel, no preconditions,” Bar’el wrote. “More importantly, [Haniyeh] allows the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas to conduct negotiations with Israel that would lead to an agreement, which would then be brought to the Palestinian people for a referendum.”

This, from Haniyeh, is the same as “No new taxes” from President Obama. It’s politispeak. It has nothing to do with reality, even though Haniyeh, on a one-to-ten terrorist scale with Abdullah Barghouti as a ten, ranks among the doves.

Does Haniyeh speak for Hamas? Yes.

Does he decide for Hamas? No. The military guys, even the ones in Israeli prisons, decide for Hamas. The Qur’an decides for Hamas.

Israeli leaders speak the same language.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee MK Shaul Mofaz just threatened to topple Hamas if it fires long-range missiles into Israel.

Politispeak, which should be translated, “Look at me! Listen to me! I was Defense Minister. I was Chief of the General Staff of the IDF. I should be Prime Minister.”

Does he speak for Israel? Yes.

Does he decide for Israel. No.

Despite the saber rattling and political posturing, statements like these do not signal change.

The reality is that:

  • Hamas is steadily acquiring more sophisticated weapons.
  • The apparent expansion in the West Bank is artificial and relies entirely upon an uninterrupted flow of dollars and Euros. As such, this faux prosperity will be short-lived. Collapse is assured.
  • When Hamas smells economic blood in the West Bank, it will call its brothers in other Islamic nations to help it take over, in the name of reunifying the Palestinian people and maneuvering into striking distance of the heart of Israel.

What do we want?

In PALESTINE on October 22, 2010 at 21:25

My soul burns for a sovereign Palestinian State. No such thing has ever existed before. We have always been a territory, up for grabs by the strongest fist, whether Turks, British, Jordanians or Israelis.

Our need for independence is so strong, so deeply embedded that we are willing to sacrifice anything. Pay any price. Fight to our last drop of blood.

But do we know what we are fighting for?

We have suffered for more than half a century, only to fill Israeli prisons and Palestinian cemeteries.

What if tomorrow’s headlines announced the establishment of the independent State of Palestine, recognized by the entire global community?

What would it look like? Do we even know? Cuba maybe?

New Castro, Same Cuba, a new report from Human Rights Watch, notes that under Raul Castro, Fidel’s brother, Cuba continues to harass and imprison dissidents. The criminal code punishes “dangerousness,” which punishes such crimes as handing out the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or any behavior deemed contrary to “socialist morality.” Posted by Lloyd Billingsley on Nov 25th, 2009 and filed under FrontPage.

Like Palestinians, the Cuban people fought for decades to gain independence from Spain. They succeeded in the Treaty of Paris. Since 1902, however, the independent Republic of Cuba has been ripped apart by one revolution after another. In 1959, the people cheered when Fidel Castro seized control. But all he has accomplished is to make Cuba an international pariah and a prison of more than 11 million people. Every year, for the past 20 years, the UN Human Rights Commission has received resolutions condemning Cuba’s egregious human rights record.

I do not think we want to model ourselves on Cuba, ruled like China and Vietnam by doctrines to which everything and everyone must conform.

Nor do I believe that we want a Palestinian version of North Korea or Sudan, ruled by tyrants who govern by force and fear.

What’s left? Absolute monarchy like Saudi Arabia? A theocracy like Iran?

Led by Hamas, Palestine would be an Islamic state, oppressed by religious leaders ruthlessly wielding sharia law. Led by Fatah, Palestine would be a corrupt nation like Romania, structured on bribes.

What about democracy? Democracy has proved throughout the ages to provide a firm and stable foundation. If the building topples, the foundation remains. What and how we build upon that foundation, however, is determined by our choices. While I love the freedoms and opportunities of America, I see that it has made moral, economic and political choices in recent decades that threaten its continuation as a world leader.

Sadly, because of the mistakes and excesses of many Western democracies, we refuse to consider a democratic Palestine. The word itself carries too much negative baggage.

But democracy does not mean America or Israel. It means “government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.” It means you and I decide what we want a national homeland to be and how to build it. It means excising corruption with ballots instead of bullets. It means creating a binding constitution and a just judicial system. It means human rights over personal agendas. It means active, constructive membership in the global community, instead of continuing as an unproductive, non-contributing people group trapped in a hopeless struggle for we don’t know what.

We have become like a hunter in the forest, driven nearly mad by hunger. But he has never seen a deer and does not know what one looks like. So he shoots at rocks and trees, up in the air and into the wind. Finally, he starves to death in a wood filled with game. We have isolated ourselves from all of the opportunities the world offers to us and our children. We don’t know what a Palestinian State would look like. We don’t know how to join the international community. We have let ourselves be defined by what we call our cause.

But if we don’t know our endgame, why are we willing to pay such a heavy price?

What would happen if we stopped fighting?

Yitzhak Rabin, Bill Clinton, and Yasser Arafat at the Oslo Accords signing ceremony on 13 September 1993

Is there not one Palestinian with wisdom, love for our people and courage to sit across the table from the Israelis? Is there no hope of redeeming the Oslo offers? Do we still not see the stupidity of demanding all or nothing?

And once we became autonomous, is there no one among us with wisdom, love for our people and humility to ask thriving, successful democracies to show us how to build our own democracy? To show us how to avoid making the mistakes they’ve made?

If we stop fighting and start building, won’t the world be amazed?

Won’t the World Bank and International Monetary Fund provide us with enough resources to build a modern infrastructure and establish global commerce when they see that we have replaced our corrupt leaders with men and women of integrity, compassion and vision? Men and women who respect justice and human rights?

When they see what we can accomplish peacefully and creatively, won’t the global community demand that Israel withdraw its settlers and restore our land?

When we develop our land, won’t we be able to offer our refugees the right of return, as Israel offered it to Jews in the Diaspora?

And when we are a sovereign nation, won’t Israel be forced to empty its prisons of thousands of Palestinian sons, fathers and daughters and send them home?

Today, a Palestinian mother is honored if her husband or son is arrested and tortured or dies a martyr. Don’t our daughters, wives and mothers deserve better? Don’t our children deserve opportunities to become all they can—not terrorists and martyrs and victims of oppression, but men and women recognized by the world for their accomplishments in science, education, art, philosophy and industry?

Aren’t we tired of being a cause in the Middle East instead of an example?

Palestinian creativity has been channeled into digging tunnels, forming terrorist cells and planning attacks. We don’t have creative ideas because we are prisoners of a single destructive thought. What if we broke out of that suicidal mindset, stopped fighting for we don’t know what and unleashed our creativity?

Generation after generation dreams the same dream: drive out the Israelis, kill the Israelis, destroy Israel. We cannot see beyond our borders because we are blinded by our pain and hatred.

I am not saying that we can or should excuse the bloodshed, atrocities, assassinations, imprisonments and torture, theft and loss. I am saying that we need to move beyond it. We need to rise above it like a plane climbing through a deadly thunderstorm into the clear, open sky.

When will we stop dreaming the impossible dream and start dreaming of limitless possibilities? When will we stop targeting settlers, buses, schools and pizza parlors and target constructive goals as a nation, communities and families?

We can lift our hands in victory over a land charred by fire and soaked in Palestinian blood, or we can have jobs and industry, income and prosperity, health and education, freedom to travel anywhere in the world, whenever we want.

We can have leaders imposed on us or elected—and, if necessary, replaced—by us. We can have a Palestinian State that oppresses its people as the Israelis have during the occupation or a country with no limits on what we can achieve, how much we can accomplish or how big of a footprint we leave behind.

When will we begin fighting with our brains instead of our bombs? With reason instead of retaliation?

Even a two-year-old child can destroy. Only men and women of wisdom, vision and courage can build a nation.

The furious insignificance of Hamas – Part III

In HAMAS on October 6, 2010 at 15:30

Many Middle East analysts point to Tehran as the power behind the Hamas throne. If the flow of Iranian money and weapons could be cut off, they believe, Hamas would wither and die.

But Hamas does not rely that heavily on Iran. It needs Iran’s weaponry and training, but it also receives substantial financial support from Qatar and other Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, as well as from individual deep pockets throughout the Arab world. During the Hajj, for example, (the annual season for pilgrimage to Mecca, November 14-18 this year) Hamas fundraisers, including exiled leader Khaled Meshaal, descend on Mecca, meet with Muslims from all over the globe and collect millions of dollars in donations.

Other observers wonder why Iran—a Shi’a Muslim nation—is helping Sunni Hamas in the first place.

From his perspective, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gains political currency by collaborating with Hamas. He needs the respect of the Sunni world if the Shi’a are to spread their doctrine and take control of the entire Middle East. So he supports Hamas, Syria and other Sunni in addition to Shi’a Hezbollah to show the Arab world that Iran’s concern extends to all Muslims, regardless of theological differences (of course, Hezbollah receives the lion’s share; Hamas receives only token support by comparison).

Nevertheless, Iran continues to play a key role in the destabilization of the region. So does the United States.

America, out of its own kind of ignorance, keeps the conflict burning between Israelis and Palestinians by supporting the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and enabling the PA to persecute Hamas.

Between FY 2007 and 2010, the U.S. government gave the PA $392 million to train and equip its security forces, oversee construction of related infrastructure projects and develop the capacity of the Palestinian Authority. And the State Department requested another $150 million for FY 2011.

When will Washington realize that it cannot join hands with people who do not believe in liberty and personal freedom? The PA does not believe in any concept in the American Constitution. Its security forces persecute and torture people for any reason, and people end up hating the United States because they know that it supports Abu Mazen* and his forces.

Like the PA, Egypt is considered a moderate regime and is supported by the U.S. It persecuted the Muslim Brotherhood for decades, and as a result we have to deal with Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri today. People fled persecution in Egypt, and they will flee persecution in the West Bank and find a place like Somalia, Afghanistan, Chechnya or Iraq where they can express their frustration and hatred and attack the United States.

This only fuels a deadly hatred in the heart of every Hamas member. And at some point, they will uproot Abu Mazen. But Hamas will not take over the West Bank as it did Gaza.

The worst case scenario in the West Bank is that Hamas will create underground cells, launch missiles into Israel, continue to kill Israeli settlers and perhaps assassinate key Fatah and PLO leaders. They do not have the weaponry for a coup or the tunnels through which to smuggle in the weapons. And, despite a huge base of people who sympathize with them, it would be virtually impossible for Hamas to recruit thousands of members to their military wing as they did in Gaza. The Gaza phenomenon was unique. It was a crime of opportunity that is unlikely to reoccur in the West Bank.

So, do I see any hope for my people?

Today, Hamas is doing the same thing it did 15 years ago, and I expect it will continue in the same disruptive and unproductive rut indefinitely. The unholy alliance of the U.S. and the PA will ensure that hatred continues to burn and spread in the West Bank.

There are now two Palestines. And the Bible says that a house that is divided cannot stand.

While peace-brokers continue to drag the same worn cards to the table, they leave the ace out of the deck. Islam has always been the chief obstacle to peace and reconciliation.

Israeli and Palestinian leaders have agreed before on independence, self-government and other important issues. There have been truces and ceasefires. Every intervention under the sun—military, diplomatic, economic, logistic—has been tried and failed.

And as long as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Salafis are part of the equation, dialogue and compromise and agreement are impossible. The god of the Qur’an stands in the way.

There can never be dialogue with Islam because every discussion begins and ends with “God said . . .”

Only if the people of the Middle East get rid of Islam, will they be able to deal with their problems and live in peace again with one another. Otherwise, Islam will continue to be the spoiler.

* Abu Mazen is a typical Arabic honorific that means “father of Mazen.” Abbas and his wife, Amina, have three sons: Mazen, Yaser and Tareq.

The furious insignificance of Hamas – Part II

In HAMAS on October 3, 2010 at 19:34

In addition to governing by kidnapping and torture, Hamas controls hundreds of tunnels that admit goods through Egypt into Gaza. Hamas gives the best to its own and sells the rest at black market prices to Palestinian families, half of whom are unemployed. It steals international medical aid and sells it in its own pharmacies. Hamas even bulldozed the homes of nearly 200 families and stole their land to build an Islamic religious center, similar to the proposed 9/11 mosque in New York City.

Last year, the UN was forced to stop all aid to Gaza because Hamas stole blankets and food meant for my people. This summer, Hamas broke into the offices of nongovernment charities, including United Nations partner organizations, and shut them down, cutting off resources to 80 percent of Gaza’s residents.

Fatah supporters carrying Abbas heir-apparent Mohammed Dahlan during a rally in Gaza City in 2007. (AP)

When Hamas campaigned in 2005, one of its two planks was to clean up PA corruption, especially the gangster rule of Fatah strongman Mohammad Dahlan. But Hamas is just as corrupt as the PLO was under Yasser Arafat and his cronies and the PA is today under Mahmoud Abbas.

During an interview with a Middle Eastern journalist, Abu Mohammed, a secular businessman with close family ties to the old Fatah security services, said, “After the takeover, people thought it might get better if the religious guys were in charge of the money, that security would improve and corruption would end. But they’re just as corrupt. If you’re not in Hamas, you get nothing. If anyone does anything, they are arrested, tortured or killed. Just like with the Israelis. Except the Jews always give you a lawyer.”

Yet, in an interview September 27 with CNN’s Nic Robertson in Damascus, exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal shamelessly told the world that, “Hamas’ strategy relies on reaching a way of determining our own destiny, taking back our land, defending our people against the occupation and the settlements and then working on establishing a true Palestinian state that will have true sovereignty.”

Khaled Meshaal

Is this how you defend your people? By destroying their homes to build your mosques? By stealing their international aid to line your pockets? By kidnapping and torture and forcing your religion on them? Is how you allow them to determine their own destiny?

When Meshaal is not blaming Israel for everything bad in Gaza, he blames the international community who he accused of “stand[ing] in silence and do[ing] nothing while the Palestinian people suffer, while they get killed, and they get oppressed.”

The Israelis have a word for that. It’s called chutzpah!

Hamas doesn’t get it. It cannot see what lies ahead if it continues along its present course.

For 14 centuries, the Arab world has been a major contributor to the world in mathematics, astronomy, medicine, architecture, horticulture, philosophy, art, music, literature. But Hamas, now that it has its opportunity to show the world how it can govern, is using Islamic sharia law to crush the life, soul and creativity out of the people who gave it their trust.

Women are forbidden to ride on motorcycles with men. Male hairdressers are not allowed to work in women’s salons. “Modesty patrols” check cars for men riding with unrelated single women. A female Palestinian journalist was arrested at the beach for laughing in public and not wearing a head covering. Female lawyers are banned from courtrooms, unless they wear a hijab. Hamas has shut down Internet cafes, movie theaters and bars where young people hang out, as well as a hotel and restaurant whose owners refused to enforce the new law against women smoking nagilas (water pipes).

One reporter from Abu Dhabi wrote that people in Gaza “seem to be losing any sense of hope and increasingly, according to social workers, smugglers and even the police, turning in massive numbers to cheap narcotic tablets smuggled through tunnels from Egypt. A sense of lethargy and hopelessness now pervades almost every aspect of life here.”

If a government oppresses its people, if it makes a big deal out of petty things like this, how can it work together with the community to resolve bigger issues of health, education and the future of the Palestinian people?

Hamas has become the Taliban of Gaza. Since its emergence in 1994, the Taliban battled Afghan warlords and the Afghan government to gain power. But when it finally attained its objective, it was unable to build any society. Its culture was non-culture. Its modus operandi was to oppress and destroy. Its GNP was drugs and terrorism.

Even under the best conditions, Gaza will remain a hot spot on the Mediterranean, like Somalia in the Horn of Africa. Sunni Islam filled the void created by the revolutions and counter-revolutions that plagued Somalia since the early 1990s. Last year, the Somali parliament approved sharia law nationwide. As a result, the Islamists will control the country beyond the foreseeable future. And they too will produce only fear, hatred and destruction.

My next blog posting will examine the key issues in the Middle East. And they are not the ones you read in the daily headlines.

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