Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book Champions Moderate Muslim Thinkers

 
The book's author: Christine Douglass-Williams

Why Islam's Reformers are Vitally Important - Daniel Pipes, PhD

My library contains a wall of books about modern Islam. But hardly a one of them covers the topic of this important study by Christine Douglass-Williams. With all the attention paid to Islamists, who has the time or energy to devote to modernizing Muslims?

Indeed, the paucity of books on anti-Islamist Muslims symbolizes their larger predicament: they are threatened, marginalized, and dismissed as frauds.

Threats come from the Islamists, the advocates of applying Islamic law in its entirety and severity as a means to regain the medieval glory of Islam. Islamists attack modernizers with words and weapons, rightly sensing that these liberal Muslims pose a profound challenge to the current Islamist hegemony. However much they dominate today, Islamist reactionaries fully understand modernity's great appeal, not to speak of its victories over two other modern radical utopian movements, fascism and communism. They know their movement is doomed because Muslims will opt for the benefits of modern life, so they fight modernizers tooth and nail.

The Left marginalizes. One might expect that the many differences between socialism and Islamism would make the two camps enemies. One would be wrong. The intensity of their common hostility toward the liberal order brings them together. Leftists overwhelmingly prefer the Islamist program to the modernizing one and so reject the modernizers, going so far to revile them as anti-Islamic, a truly choice insult.

The anti-Islamic Right dismisses. Ironically, it endorses the Islamist claim that Islamists alone are true Muslims while waving away the modernizers as outliers, fabulists, and frauds. The anti-Islamic right does so despite sharing the same enemy with modernizing Muslims – the Islamists. Instead of joining forces, it perversely keeps its distance from them, muttering about their taqiya (dissimulation), finding only fault with their analysis, and lobbing colorful slurs at their leaders.
Thus do modernizing Muslims face the problems of establishing current credibility and future potential. Islamists dominate the news with their carnage and cultural aggression, Leftists turn reality on its head, and the anti-Islam types fumble on.

How many of you have heard of the Center for Islamic Pluralism?

Here, Christine Douglass-Williams, a Canadian journalist and civil rights activist, enters the picture. She took the time to find eight leading North American modernizers and gave them the opportunity to present themselves and their views.

After laying out these interestingly divergent viewpoints, Douglass-Williams devotes the second half of her book to their commonalities. She focuses on the modernizers' efforts to: Create an alternative vision to the Islamist one; re-interpret the Koran and other problematic Islamic texts; respond to accusations of "Islamophobia" directed against them; formulate a humane positon on Israel; and challenge the Islamist hegemony.

She helps establish this movement as a serious intellectual endeavor, putting contemporary modernizers on the map as never before, thereby boosting their cause. Given the global threat of Islamism, that is a constructive, indeed a great achievement.
[DanielPipes.org]

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Kotel Wars

One "Kotel War" is the one some Palestinian Arabs are having with Israel.  The terrorist murders of two Israeli police recently has challenged the "status quo" on the Temple Mount.  Another "Kotel War" is happening among American Jews and Israel.  That is the topic of the second article below, by liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz.

The Temple Mount is in our hands - Gilad Sharon

The Temple Mount is a holy site, but there is nothing sacred about the status quo. We’ve been hearing repeated oaths of allegiance to the status quo, with people on all sides declaring they have no intention of changing it. If I forget thee, O status quo, let my right hand forget her cunning, Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I remember thee not.

But if something isn’t working, it can – and should – be changed, and then the new order will become entrenched. We’ll have a new status quo.

Leaving control of the Temple Mount in the hands of the Wakf after the Six Day War was a big mistake.

When Moshe Dayan asked, “What do we need this whole Vatican for?” he displayed appalling insensitivity to the significance of the site for the Jews.


On September 28, 2000, we visited the Temple Mount. At the time, our presence there was a protest against Ehud Barak’s intention to hand it over to the Palestinians. My father, Ariel Sharon, was firmly opposed to such a move, as was the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public, as evidenced by the results of every election since. We entered through the Mughrabi Gate with my father in the lead, along with several Knesset members from the Likud. An official from the Israel Antiquities Authority showed us around. Our visit was secured by hundreds of police officers.

In fact, I saw a great many more policemen than Arab demonstrators. What kind of sovereignty do we wield if a short visit to the compound required this sort of security detail? The whole scene upset me. Israel wasn’t behaving like a confident sovereign power, but with unwarranted hesitancy, and all because of the authority it had granted the Wakf.

Here’s what we should do: send the Wakf officials packing. Deploy security forces throughout the Temple Mount, so that everyone, including Jews, will feel safe. And make it clear that our sovereignty over the site is more than just empty words.

[Jerusalem Post]


Now American Zionists want to boycott Israel - Alan Dershowitz
Alan Dershowitz, a liberal Democrat,
critiques fellow Americans

Several prominent American Zionists, including long-time supporters of Israel, are so outraged at the Israeli government's recent decision regarding the Western Wall and non-orthodox conversion that they are urging American Jews to reduce or even eliminate their support for Israel.

This sort of emotional response is reminiscent of the temper tantrum outgoing President Barak Obama engaged in when he refused to veto the UN's recent anti-Israel resolution.

I strongly disagree both with the Israeli government's capitulation to the minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who wield far too much influence in Israeli politics, and with the proposals to cut back on support for Israel by some of my fellow critics of the Israeli government's recent decisions with regard to religion.

I strongly support greater separation between religion and state in Israel, as Theodor Herzl outlined in his plan for the nation-state of the Jewish People in Der Judenstaat 120 years ago: "We shall . . . prevent any theocratic tendencies from coming to the fore on the part of our priesthood. We shall keep our priests [by which is meant Rabbis] within the confines of their temples."

It was David Ben Gurion, Israel's founding prime minister, who made the deal with the Orthodox Rabbinate that violated Herzl's mandate and knocked down the wall of separation between religion and state. He allocated to the Chief Rabbinate authority over many secular matters, such as marriage, divorce and child custody. He also laid the groundwork for the creation of religious parties that have been a necessary part of most Israeli coalitions for many years.

So, do not blame current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the recent capitulation. His government's survival depends on his unholy alliance with allegedly holy parties that threaten to leave the coalition and bring down his government unless he capitulated. The alternative to a Netanyahu government might well be far to the right of the current government, both on religious matters and on prospects for peace. Reasonable people may disagree as to whether Netanyahu did the right thing, but I believe that given the choice between the current government and what may well replace it, Netanyahu acted on acceptable priorities.

This is not to say that I am happy with the end result.

I want to see a part of the Western Wall opened to conservative and reform prayer. I also want to see conservative and reform and modern Orthodox rabbis deemed fully competent to perform rituals including marriage and divorce. I will continue to fight for these outcomes, and I think we will ultimately be successful.

But in the meantime, I will also continue to fly El Al, contribute to Israeli hospitals, attend AIPAC events, and encourage Americans to support Israel, both politically and financially. To do otherwise is to engage in a form of BDS — the tactic currently employed by Israel's enemies to delegitimize the nation state of the Jewish people. Supporters of BDS will point to these benign boycotts as a way of justifying their malignant ones. If BDS is an immoral tactic, as it surely is, so too is punishing the people of Israel for the failure of its government to be fully inclusive of Jews who do not align themselves with the ultra-Orthodox.

Tough love may be an appropriate response in family matters, but boycotting a troubled nation which has become a pariah among the hard-left is not the appropriate response to the Israeli government's recent decisions regarding religion. The answer is not disengagement, but rather greater engagement with Israel on matters that involve world Jewry.

I, too, am furious about the arrogant and destructive threats of the ultra-Orthodox parties in the current government. I, too, would prefer to see a coalition that excluded the ultra-Orthodox parties. I, too, would like to see a high wall of separation that kept the Rabbis out of politics.

But I do not live in Israel, and Israel is a democracy. Ultimately it is up to the citizens of Israel to change the current system.

The role of American Jews is limited to persuasion, not coercion.

In the end, we will be successful in persuading the Israeli people to take the power of religious coercion out of the hands of the ultra-Orthodox minority because that would not only be good for secular Israelis — who are a majority — but also for religious Israelis. History has proven that separation of state from religion is better not only for the state, but also for religion.
[Washington Examiner]
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Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Killing Oslo: The Thug & The Prime Minister



End the False Israeli-Palestinian Parity - Daniel Pipes, PhD

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords' signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
It's now clear that Rabin's vanity got the better of him at that supremely high-profile event on the White House lawn. As the elected head of a democratic and sovereign government, he never should have consented to Arafat, the henchman of an unofficial, dictatorial, and murderous organization, enjoying equal status with himself.
Appearing together as equals created a dysfunctional illusion of equivalence that over subsequent decades became assumed, ingrained, and unquestioned. In fact, this false equivalence became even more inaccurate with time, as Israel went from one success to another and the Palestinian Authority brought on a reign of ever-deeper anarchy, dependency, and repression.
Meanwhile, the head of the Palestinian Authority, presently in the 12th year of his 4-year term, has been neither able to prevent creeping anarchy on the West Bank nor a rogue group from taking over in Gaza, one-half of his putative domain.
Rather than use the prestige of the Oslo signing ceremony to build a constituency that accepted the Jewish state and thereby end the Palestinians' conflict with it, Arafat exploited his heightened standing to develop new resources to reject Zionism and attack Israel. Palestinian "embassies" popped up worldwide to delegitimize Israel, while Palestinians killed more Israelis in the five years after the Oslo signing than in the fifteen years before it.
In other words, Rabin recklessly put faith in an historic and barbaric enemy changing not just tactics but goals. Israel has paid a heavy price for this error.
Instead of the prime minister, the Israeli standing with Arafat on the White House lawn should have been someone like the second secretary at the Israeli embassy in Norway. That would have delivered the necessary signal that Arafat's protocol equivalent registers stoopingly low in the diplomatic hierarchy. To be sure, that would have meant no Nobel Peace Prize for Yitzhak Rabin. In retrospect, however, would it not have been better to skip celebrating so exuberantly a flawed, doomed, and destructive agreement?
For good measure, the signing ceremony should have taken place in the modesty of Oslo, not the grandeur of Washington, the imperial capital, the home town of the only hyper-power.
Had a lowly precedent been set in 1993, today's false parity between Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas would not exist; the true imbalance of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship might be more clearly seen. As low-level diplomats, not prime ministers, negotiate with Arafat, Abbas, and the assorted other villains and self-styled Palestinian leaders, the world would be constantly reminded not of a sham parallel but of the vast moral and power gulf dividing the two sides.
Well, that did not happen. But is it too late? Can Netanyahu or a future Israeli prime minister escape the indignity of meeting as equals with the leader of a gangster enterprise?
No, it's not too late. Netanyahu could eloquently explain that he meets his legitimate counterparts; he will leave it to functionaries in the Foreign Ministry to handle whoever the Palestinian Authority throws up.
Imagine the benefits of such a step: Israel would gain in stature while the fetid nature of the PA would be exposed. American presidents would lose interest in the "ultimate deal." Other assorted would-be mediators and do-gooders would have a much harder time trying to revive a quarter century of botched negotiations.
So, I suggest Israeli prime ministers leave "peace-processing" with Palestinian hooligans to low-ranking staff.
[Israel Hayom]
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Monday, July 03, 2017

Ambassador Bolton: Iranian Regime Must Be Overthrown


 
In a Paris gathering of the Iranian opposition on July 1st, 2017, former UN Ambassador John Bolton delivered a powerful speech calling for the overthrow of the Iranian regime.  The National Council of Resistance of Iran's (NCRI) annual gathering had an audience of 100,000 [really] of Persian Muslims.  Paris hosts a large population of Iranians in exile.  Former Senator Joe Lieberman also addressed the crowd. 
  
 
In Paris, on 1st July, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) will be holding its annual meeting where this will be the central topic. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend to show their support for its call for regime change. The Muslims in the NCRI are sickened by the terrorism that Iran has perpetrated.
 
The President of the opposition has outlined a plan for Iran’s future. It is based on democratic elections and the separation of religion and state. It also requires that Muslim societies align, generally speaking, with the principles of democratic countries.
[Iran Freedom Gathering]
 
 


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Jewish Homeland: "A Universal Right"



The Holocaust Did Not Create Israel - Einat Wilf

Music conductor Daniel Barenboim wrote in Ha'aretz on June 8 that Israel exists because of the Holocaust. The claim is that Israel "was given" to the Jewish people by the guilt-ridden world after the Holocaust.

Israel was not "given" to the Jews. The last thing on the agenda of the European nations at the end of World War II was guilt feelings toward the Jews.

Just as India and Pakistan and other nations did not need the murder of a third of their people to receive a country at that time, the Jewish people would have obtained its own state at the end of World War II, not because of the Holocaust, but rather because of the dismantling of the British empire as a result of the war.

The right of the Jewish people to have a country in its own homeland is a universal right, which is reserved for every people - the right to stand on its own authority and to control its fate.

(Ha'aretz)

Monday, June 12, 2017

US - Arab Alliance Emerges

Trump in Arabia

A Pro-American Arab Alliance that Fights? - Jonathan Spyer

The decision by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen to cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar is the latest step in the reemergence of a clearly defined US-led Sunni Arab bloc of states. The task of this alliance is to roll back Iranian influence and advancement in the region, and to battle against the forces of Sunni political Islam. Little noticed by Western media, this conservative Sunni alliance against Iran and Sunni Islamism has been under construction for some time.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the first to recognize the new regime of Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi following the military coup on July 3, 2013. Financial support from both countries has been crucial in ensuring the avoidance of economic disaster in Egypt. The Saudis and Emiratis were the moving force behind the interventions into Bahrain in 2011 and Yemen in 2015. In both cases, the intention was to prevent the advance of Iranian interests.

The results in Yemen have been mixed, but by no means constitute the debacle that the intervention has been presented as in some quarters. The Houthis remain in control of Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, but the nightmare scenario in which an Iran-supported force acquires control of the narrow Bab al-Mandab Strait, through which all shipping between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea must pass, was avoided. Emirati and Saudi special operations forces played a key role in the fighting.

[T]he election of US President Donald Trump appears to have sharply increased the scope and ambitions of the pro-US Gulf Arab states. It is clear that they identify a regional outlook similar to their own in Trump and key figures around him. This raises the possibility of a more assertive and clearly defined strategy regarding both the Iranian and Sunni Islamist adversaries.

At the Riyadh meeting on May 21, 55 Muslim-majority countries signed a declaration pledging to establish “a reserve force of 34,000 troops to support operations against terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria when needed.”


Declarations by Gulf states have not always been followed by concerted action on the ground, of course. But with the current emergent standoff between pro-Western and pro-Iranian forces in eastern Syria, and the incremental loss of territory by Islamic State in that area, it is not hard to think of the type of roles that a standing Gulf Arab counterterrorism force would play – for example, in holding and administering Sunni Arab areas in cooperation with local forces.

Qatar, through its support for Muslim Brotherhood-associated movements and via its enormously influential Al Jazeera satellite channel, tried to turn the energies of the Sunni Arab masses in Syria, Egypt and the Palestinian territories into political power and influence for itself (while, of course, harshly suppressing any attempts by its own largely noncitizen population to claim rights). This project has failed.

For a moment, [in the recent past] a large Sunni Islamist bloc based on Qatari money and Muslim Brotherhood power seemed to be emerging. Brotherhood-associated parties controlled Cairo, Ankara, Tunis and Gaza. Similar movements seemed plausibly within reach of Damascus. But this bloc proved stillborn, and little of it now remains.

The hour of the revenge of Doha’s Gulf neighbors has thus arrived. The shunting aside of little Qatar, however, is ultimately only a detail in the larger picture. What is more significant is the reemergence of an overt alliance of Sunni Arab states under US leadership, following the development of military capabilities in relevant areas, and with the stated intention of challenging the Iranian regional advance and Sunni political Islam.

Originally published under the title "Lines in the Sand: Qatar's increasing isolation in the Arab world"
Jonathan Spyer, a fellow at the Middle East Forum, is director of the Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs
[Jerusalem Post]
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Saudi Newspaper Criticizes Hamas - Yasser Okbi

The Saudi newspaper Okaz reported Friday that Hamas has invested "$120 million in the last three years in intensive tunnel construction....Hamas allocates millions of Saudi and UAE dollars in order to support Iranian-orchestrated terror."
 

Saying "there is no difference" between the Islamic State and Hamas, the paper called for immediate Arab intervention in order to prevent Hamas' exploitation of Gaza's citizens. "Hamas uses all the aid that the Palestinians receive to support their interests, it digs tunnels beneath schools, houses and hospitals and thereby poses a danger to the lives of Palestinian civilians." 
(Maariv Hashavua-Jerusalem Post)
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UPDATE:

Iran nuclear deal - Daniel Pipes, PhD

Trump's trip to the Middle East revealed the degree to which he sees the Iranian threat as the organizing principle of the region: "What's happened with Iran has brought many of the parts of the Middle East toward Israel." A common fear of Tehran (and to a lesser extent, of ISIS) seems to be the foundation on which he plans to build an Arab-Israeli alliance...
[Tehran Times]
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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Far Left Protest Blocks Israel Parade

JVP protesters block Celebrate Israel Parade's gay contingent

The gay contingent supporting Israel, before being blocked by protesters


Gay contingent member [with black head covering & rainbow Israel flag] yells at JVP protester [red shirt]
JVP member arrested

Israel Parade LGBTQ Coalition Infiltrated - Shira Hanau

As an LGBTQ group was nearing the end of the Celebrate Israel Parade route last Sunday, several marchers took off their button-down shirts, revealing red Jewish Voice for Peace shirts. Linking arms to block the rest of the group, they raised protest signs that read, “Queer Jews for Free Palestine” and “No Pride in Apartheid.”

The protesters were part of Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish activist group that calls for withdrawal of Israeli settlements from the West Bank and east Jerusalem and supports the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement. They marched in the LGBTQ coalition without informing the coalition’s leaders of their intent.

 
“This situation could have escalated,” she said. “I think it’s tremendously scary and should be universally condemned by the entire Jewish community that these are not tactics that are acceptable for discourse.”
 
In addition to the LGBTQ infiltration, JVP had about 100 people “repeatedly disrupting” the parade from the sidelines, according to the group’s Facebook page.
Mordechai Levovitz, executive director of JQY, an organization supporting LGBTQ youth in the Jewish community, condemned JVP’s targeting of the LGBTQ community.
 
Until 2012, the Celebrate Israel parade had a policy prohibiting openly LGBTQ groups from marching. JQY first marched in the Israel Day Parade in 2012 after the policy was changed. “Every year there are more people celebrating with us and showing us support, said Levovitz.
[Jewish Week]
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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Muslim Anti-Jihad Video Goes Viral



Anti-Jihadist Video Goes Viral
  

A video by the Kuwaiti telecommunications giant Zain that depicts a would-be suicide bomber confronted by the Muslim faithful has gone viral at the start of Ramadan. 
(AFP)


Friday, May 26, 2017

East Jerusalem is Not Arab



Media Myth - East Jerusalem Is Arab Territory

Only between 1948 and 1967 was eastern Jerusalem exclusively Arab, after Jordan occupied it and expelled the area's Jewish residents, destroyed its synagogues, and desecrated the historic Jewish cemetery. Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem goes back to King David in 1004 BCE and Jews continued to live there ever since.

The New York Times reported on May 30, 1948, "The Jews have been eliminated from the City of David for the first time since the sixteenth century. Except for 60 years in the sixteenth century they are believed to have been there continuously since the return from the Babylonian captivity [after 539 BCE]." Next time journalists say "East Jerusalem is Arab," send them this video.

(CAMERA)
BLOGGER'S NOTE: My maternal grandmother's family owned a house in a Yemenite Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem. 
Bruce

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25X More Aid to Palestinians Than All the Money Used To Rebuild Europe After WW2




The Palestinians Can Win If They Give Up Victim Status - Jim Hanson

After World War II, the Italians, Germans and Japanese left behind their failed attempts at conquest and consequently they were treated to the benevolence of the Allies and a rebuilding process that turned them into modern nations. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have maintained belligerence and failure to even accept the existence of Israel in any meaningful way. Their Arab friends have made multiple attempts to destroy Israel and failed each time. Then the Palestinians switched to terrorism as a strategy and turned their proto state into an international pariah. This profound failure to comprehend their profound failure to destroy Israel has kept them in perpetual victim status.
  

Billions of dollars in aid have flowed into the Palestinian territories.

Some studies show it to be 25 times more per capita than was spent to rebuild Europe after World War II. Yet there is little in the way of progress and there are still "refugee" camps that have stood for decades. Their state of perpetual grievance has prevented them from using this largesse to build an actual state. If they were to do so, they could dedicate themselves to the challenge of giving their people quality of life rather than a false hope they will somehow drive the Israelis out of Israel. 
(Fox News)
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Peace Starts in Saudi Arabia?

Sword dancing...can it lead to peace? 

Why Middle East peace starts in Saudi Arabia - Charles Krauthammer, MD
 
[N]o great harm has, as yet, come from President Trump's enthusiasm for what would be "the ultimate deal." It will, however, distract and detract from remarkable progress being made elsewhere in the Middle East.
 
That progress began with Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia, the first of his presidency -- an unmistakable declaration of a radical reorientation of U.S. policy in the region. Message: The appeasement of Iran is over.
 
Barack Obama's tilt toward Iran in the great Muslim civil war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Arabs led by Saudi Arabia was his reach for Nixon-to-China glory. It ended ignominiously.
 
The idea that the nuclear deal would make Iran more moderate has proved spectacularly wrong, as demonstrated by its defiant ballistic missile launches, its indispensable support for the genocidal Assad regime in Syria, its backing of the Houthi insurgency in Yemen, its worldwide support for terrorism, its relentless anti-Americanism and commitment to the annihilation of Israel.
 
These aggressions were supposed to abate. They didn't. On the contrary, the cash payments and the lifting of economic sanctions -- Tehran's reward for the nuclear deal -- have only given its geopolitical thrusts more power and reach.
 
The reversal has now begun. The first act was Trump's Riyadh address to about 50 Muslim states (the overwhelming majority of them Sunni) signaling a wide Islamic alliance committed to resisting Iran and willing to cast its lot with the American side.
 
That was objective No.1. The other was to turn the Sunni powers against Sunni terrorism. The Islamic State is Sunni. Al-Qaeda is Sunni. Fifteen of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi. And the spread of Saudi-funded madrassas around the world has for decades inculcated a poisonous Wahhabism that has fueled Islamist terrorism.
 
Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states publicly declaring war on their bastard terrorist child is significant. As is their pledge not to tolerate any semiofficial support or private donations. And their opening during the summit of an anti-terrorism center in Riyadh.
 
After eight years of U.S. policy hovering between neglect and betrayal, the Sunni Arabs are relieved to have America back. A salutary side effect is the possibility of a detente with Israel.

 
That would suggest an outside-in approach to Arab-Israeli peace: a rapprochement between the Sunni state and Israel (the outside) would put pressure on the Palestinians to come to terms (the inside).
 
[A]part from being delusional, the inside-out strategy is at present impossible. Palestinian leadership is both hopelessly weak and irredeemably rejectionist. Until it is prepared to accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state -- which it has never done in the 100 years since the Balfour Declaration committed Britain to a Jewish homeland in Palestine -- there will be no peace.
 
[M]aking the Israel-Palestinian issue central, rather than peripheral, to the epic Sunni-Shiite war shaking the Middle East today is a serious tactical mistake. It subjects any now-possible reconciliation between Israel and the Arab states to a Palestinian veto.
 
[T]he real action is on the anti-Iranian and anti-terror fronts. Don't let Oslo-like mirages get in the way.
[Washington Post via Jewish World Review]
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Trump to Launch Unconventional Peace Plan - Daniel Siryoti

U.S. President Donald Trump will launch an unconventional peace plan based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, focusing on upgrading Israel's relations with Arab states rather than on reaching an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, a senior Palestinian Authority official told Israel Hayom


 According to the official, Trump told Abbas that if progress would be made in advancing the Arab Peace Initiative, he would try to strike an interim peace deal that would focus on the various paths toward a final status agreement culminating with the creation of an independent Palestinian state and a joint Israeli-Palestinian statement declaring an end to the conflict.

The president reportedly said that the first phase would include some form of normalization between moderate Sunni-Arab states and Israel. Later on, depending on how much progress is made, the U.S. would try to launch direct negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians with a set timetable aimed at finding a compromise on the core issues. This marks a shift, since Arab leaders have repeatedly said that normalization of relations must come only after core issues are resolved and a Palestinian state is established with Jerusalem as its capital.

The Palestinian official said Abbas responded by saying the Palestinians were vehemently opposed to such a move.

(Israel Hayom)
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump in Israel







Peace Can't Take Root Where Terror Is Funded and Rewarded
- Karma Allen

At a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem, President Donald Trump [said], "Peace can never take root in an environment where violence is tolerated, funded and even rewarded. We must be resolute in condemning such acts in a single unified voice....The terrorists and extremists and those who give them aid and comfort must be driven out from our society forever." 

(ABC News)


Trump: First U.S. President to Visit Western Wall - Ken Bredemeier

U.S. President Donald Trump touched the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the first visit at the Jewish holy site by a serving American leader. He walked alone to the massive stone wall, placed his right hand on the wall for about 30 seconds and then, as is custom, tucked a small prayer note into a crevice. Trump also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Christian tradition holds that Jesus was buried.

(VOA News)


Trump: "Iran Will Never Have a Nuclear Weapon" - Barak Ravid

At the start of a meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem, President Trump spoke at length about the big powers' nuclear agreement with Iran. "Iran should be very grateful to the United States. Iran negotiated a fantastic deal with the previous administration....We not only gave them a lifeline, we gave them wealth and prosperity. And we also gave them an ability to continue with terror...no matter where we go we see the signs of Iran in the Middle East."
  

"Instead of saying thank you to the United States, they now feel emboldened...it was a terrible, terrible thing for the United States to enter that deal. And believe me, Iran will never have a nuclear weapon, that I can tell you." 
(Ha'aretz)


Iconoclast in the Promised Land - Caroline Glick

It was because of his foreign policy iconoclasm that Israelis were, by and large, euphoric when Trump was finally inaugurated in January.

Since then, however, in significant ways, Trump has bowed to the narratives of the establishment. As a result, Israel’s euphoria at his election has been replaced by cautious optimism.

During his speech in Riyadh, in relation to both Iran and Islamic terrorism, Trump kept his promise to base his strategies for dealing with the threats on facts rather than narrative.

As far as Iran was concerned, Trump broke with convention by ignoring the meaningless presidential “elections” in Iran last Friday. Rather than embrace the common delusion that ballots mean something in Iran, when Iranian dictator Ali Khamenei decides who can run for election and decides who wins, Trump concentrated on facts. Iran is the primary engine of terrorism in the region and the world, he explained. Moreover, the world would be a better place, and the Iranian people would be better off, if the regime were overthrown.

On Islamic terrorism, Trump again ignored the advice of his national security adviser H.R. McMaster and refused to embrace the false narrative that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. Rather, standing before the leaders of the Islamic world, Trump exhorted them to confront “Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires.”


But while Trump has maintained his fact-based rhetoric on Iran, for instance, his actual policy is very similar to Obama’s. Rather than keep his campaign pledge and cancel the nuclear deal which guarantees Iran a nuclear arsenal in ten years, Trump chose to punt. He certified – wrongly – that Iran is abiding by the terms of the deal even as the Iranians are stockpiling uranium in excess of the amounts permitted under the deal and are barring weapons inspectors from entering their nuclear sites. So too, Trump has kept up Obama’s practice of keeping the public in the dark regarding what was actually agreed to with Iran by refusing to reveal the nuclear agreement’s secret protocols.

In other words, his policies have yet to match his rhetoric on Iran.

But then again, there is reason to give Trump the benefit of the doubt on Iran. It is more than possible that Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and Israel is entirely about Iran. After all, Trump has enthusiastically joined the anti- Iran coalition that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu built with the Sunni regimes to try to mitigate the destructive consequences of Obama’s embrace of the ayatollahs. And he seems to be interested in using this coalition to rebuild US power in the Middle East while ending Iran’s unimpeded rise as a nuclear power and regional hegemon, just as Israel and the Sunnis had hoped.

Trump will also go to Bethlehem to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. This will be the two men’s second meeting in less than a month. By insisting on meeting with Abbas during his lightning visit to Israel, Trump signals that he agrees with the narrative view that the US cannot support Israel without also legitimizing and supporting the PLO and its terror funding kleptocracy, the Palestinian Authority.

Finally, even when Trump has adopted a position that repudiates the establishment’s line, the fact is that the establishment’s members dominate his foreign policy team. And as a consequence, they do everything they can to dilute the significance of his moves.

This was clearly in evidence in relation to Trump’s decision to visit the Western Wall. In the week that preceded his visit, embassy officers angrily rejected Israel’s request that Netanyahu join Trump during his visit to the Jewish holy site, insisting that the Western Wall isn’t in Israel.

In so acting, these Obama holdovers were backed by McMaster, who refuses to admit that the Western Wall is in Jerusalem, and by his Israel-Palestinians director at the National Security Council, Kris Bauman, who served on Obama’s anti-Israel foreign policy team and supports US recognition of Hamas.

In other words, even when Trump tries to embrace fact over narrative, his failure to populate his foreign policy team with iconoclasts like himself has made it all but impossible for him to abandon the anti-Israel narrative guiding US policy.

None of this means that Israelis have lost hope in Trump. To the contrary. They have enormous hope in him. But they recognize that so long as the same hostile false narrative about Israel, and the establishment that clings to it dominate Trump’s thinking and policies, the promise of his presidency will not be met.
[Jerusalem Post]



Finding a "Zone of Possible Agreement" - Michael Singh

Polls also suggest that most Palestinians continue to harbor maximalist aspirations, as Daniel Polisar of Shalem College has noted. There is clearly no squaring Israel's interest in security with maximalist Palestinian territorial ambitions.
   

Whether conflict leads Israelis to prefer negotiations to the status quo depends in part on whether they feel the Palestinians' aim is to compromise with them or eliminate them. Not only Hamas but many ordinary Palestinians, through polling, have made clear that their aim is the latter.
The writer is managing director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
(National Interest)


Moving the U.S. Embassy Is Not a "Concession" to Israel
- Shalom Lipner

When successive U.S. administrations pretend that Tel Aviv is the capital of Israel - or that Israel has no capital at all - they merely insult their Israeli friends.
The writer, a nonresident senior fellow of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, served at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem from 1990 to 2016.
(Politico)
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UPDATE: 

- David Horovitz

"Iran's leaders routinely call for Israel's destruction," President Trump said in his main speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on Tuesday. Then he departed from his prepared text, and added: "Not with Donald J. Trump, believe me." The remark was met with cheers and a standing ovation. "Thank you," said the U.S. president three times as he waited patiently for the clapping to stop. And then, waving a hand out toward his audience, with a smile, he said, "I like you too."
  
Those few seconds summed up Trump's visit to Israel - his expressions of instinctive solidarity with the Jewish state - after eight years of what Israelis always felt was somewhat conditional, caveat-filled support from President Obama.
    
Israelis know no more than Americans about how Trump's presidency will play out. They cannot be sure of what he will say or do. But he came to Jerusalem. He told Israel he loved it. He vowed to stand with Israel against Iran. And he stood in respect at the Jews' most holy place of prayer. 
(Times of Israel)
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Monday, May 22, 2017

Trump in Arabia: Powerful Speech

 


 

Trump's full speech in Saudi Arabia

Trump's Saudi Speech: Pretty Good - Daniel Pipes, PhD

Donald Trump gave a major speech on a wide range of topics – the Middle East, jihadi violence, Iran, an "Arab NATO," and Islam. It's a mixed performance, but overall positive.

[I]t's a good speech that signals a major shift in the right direction from the Obama years, particularly concerning Iran and Islam. Most important is Trump's willingness to point to the ideology of Islamism as the enemy. This matters exceedingly: just as a physician must first identify a medical problem before treating it, so a strategist must identify the enemy before defeating it. To talk about "evil doers," "terrorists," and "violent extremists" is to miss the enemy's Islamic core.
In this regard, the key passage of the speech (at 22:25) states "there is still much work to do. That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds." (The prepared text read "Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups" but when speaking, Trump made these changes. While Islamist is more precise than Islamic, politically, both make the same point.)
It was unprecedented and noteworthy for an American leader to declare this not just in the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia but also at the Saudi-conjured "Arab Islamic American Summit" with leaders from some 50 Muslim-majority countries present. "I have your number," Trump effectively announced. "So, don't play games with me."

He confirmed this point several times in the speech: "Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combatting radicalization"; "Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden, if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion"; a mention of the human toll of "ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others"; and his call to stand together "against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians." No fuzziness here about the nature of the problem.

For Trump's speech to make a difference, it must be the start of a consistent approach to recognizing that Islamist ideology stands at the heart of the conflict – and that violence is only one of its manifestations, and perhaps
not the most dangerous of them.
A good way to start would be to recall Trump's speech as a candidate last August, when he pledged that "one of my first acts as president will be to establish a commission on radical Islam ... to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization." The commission will "develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners."
Let's go, Mr. President – it's time to appoint a White House Commission on Radical Islam.
[National Review Online]
 
7 Moments from Trump’s Speech - Ryan Mauro

President Trump’s brazen speech in Saudi Arabia is being praised from (almost) all quarters. Its powerful moments will be remembered for years and will reverberate throughout the Middle East.

Here are moments from the speech, starting with what may be the closest President Trump may come to having his “Tear Down This Wall” moment:

"It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.  A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH."

This is strongest statement towards the Muslim world uttered by an American president since 9/11 and perhaps in history. These words—and the Trumpian delivery of them—will be remembered for years to come. While eloquent words favored by speechwriters and high-brow elites are usually forgotten, these won’t be.There are also two clear sub-messages: One, that the Muslim world is not adequately “driving them out,” meaning, the Islamists still thrive in mosques, holy lands (which would include Saudi Arabia) and Muslim communities. The enemy are not fringe, undetectable loners. Secondly, don’t outsource your responsibility for this to America.

We won’t let you scapegoat us and have us respond by apologizing for the grievances you use to excuse yourself from responsibility. This is your problem: Own it.

"That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamist extremism and the Islamist terror groups it inspires. And it means standing together against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews and the slaughter of Christians." 

Most of the speech used vague, relative terms like “terrorism” and “extremism.” The focus was almost entirely on ISIS and Iran. But then came this paragraph. President Trump identified the enemy not just as Islamist terrorist groups, but the Islamist extremism foundation necessary for those groups to manifest.Of special note is the line about “persecution of Jews.” This was not stated with some moral equivalence about how Israel shares blame for stifling the nationalist aspirations of Palestinians. No, Trump identified anti-Semitism as a central problem outside of the context of Israel. That omission is powerful.

"Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve."

President Obama’s attitude towards Iran unnerved our Sunni Arab partners in the region. The heavy focus on Iran should help address that, but the fixation on the Iranian regime seemed to echo the Saudi line that Iran is responsible for practically all of the terrorism and extremism in the region. This let the Sunni side of radical Islam get off easy.
[Clarion Project]


Fight Against Terror Is a "Battle between Good and Evil"
- Jonathan Lemire and Julie Pace

During a meeting with more than 50 Arab and Muslim leaders in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Donald Trump recast the fight against terrorism as a "battle between good and evil" instead of a clash between the West and Islam. "We are not here to lecture - we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership - based on shared interests and values - to pursue a better future for us all." 

(AP-Washington Post)
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