Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gatestone Update :: Samuel Westrop: Providing a Platform for Terror, and more

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Providing a Platform for Terror

by Samuel Westrop
November 29, 2012 at 5:00 am
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If we really want to take an effective stand against extremism, we should not obsess over the extremists; rather, we should tackle those who facilitate, empower and legitimize extremism. The worst culprits are particular British Members of Parliament – elected officials whom we employ to safeguard our liberties and democratic rights but who betray these duties in favor of promoting the work of terror advocates. We have given terror and its apologists a platform, while we deny truth, reason and accountability a voice.
On the 28th November, Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn will be hosting an event organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the British House of Commons with Mousa Abu Maria, an activist for the proscribed terrorist organisation Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). Abu Maria will be speaking as part of a panel discussion – the conclusion to an anti-Israel lobbying day held by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). The PSC is the leading anti-Israel organisation in Britain, whose members are accused by human rights activists of practising Holocaust denial and supporting terrorist groups such as Hamas.
Abu Maria spent several years in prison in Israel for his membership in the PIJ and for throwing Molotov cocktails. In 2003, he was released as part of a prisoner exchange. Five years later, he was placed in administrative detention, once again because of his connections to the PIJ. His appeals to the Israeli High Court of Justice were rejected.
Although Abu Maria claims he is no longer involved with the PIJ, as recently as May 2012 he has been photographed standing next to PIJ member Khader Adnan while holding a poster which declared support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh.
Mousa Abu Maria (far-right) standing next to PIJ member Khader Adnan while holding a poster declaring support for Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahleh.
Abu Maria's organisation, the Palestine Solidarity Project (PSP), also took part in a demonstration in Nabi Saleh in April 2012, in which they displayed posters in support of a number of violent terrorists.
On the posters in the photo below, right to left: Ahmad Sa'adat of the PFLP, Marwan Barghouti of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades (he is serving 5 life sentences for murder) as well as Bilal Diab and Tha'er Halahleh of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
This is not the first time that Corbyn has provided a platform for individuals linked to terrorism. In the past, he has played host to, inter alia, the Palestine Return Centre, a British lobbying group which openly supports Hamas; and Djab Abou Jahjah of the Arab European League, an organisation which has published anti-Semitic cartoons and voiced support for Samir Kuntar, the terrorist who beat a small Israeli girl to death on the beaches of the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya.
Corbyn has described Israel's Operation Cast Lead, the last major conflict with Hamas in 2009, as a "military ethnic cleansing of the area". Regarding the recent Israeli Operation Pillar of Defense - which worked to destroy Hamas rocket stockpiles after over 700 missiles were fired at Israeli civilians since the beginning of 2012 - Corbyn has noted: "There is no limit to the hatred and persecution emanating from Israel toward these people [the Palestinians]."
Last year, Corbyn invited the Islamist hate preacher Raed Saleh to speak in Parliament. Saleh is a leading supporter of Hamas, and is known for his anti-Semitic and homophobic views. He has claimed that 4000 Jews skipped work at the World Trade Centre on 9/11 and that those who killed the "Martyr, Sheikh Osama Bin Laden" had "sold their consciences to Satan, and that the honour killings of girls is acceptable. One of Saleh's poems includes the lines:
You Jews are criminal bombers of mosques,
Slaughterers of pregnant women and babies.

Robbers and germs in all times,

The Creator sentenced you to be loser monkeys,

Victory belongs to Muslims, from the Nile to the Euphrates.

Saleh is best known for his frequent invocation of the 'blood libel' -- an ancient anti-Semitic claim that Jews kill children to use their blood to make bread at Passover. Even a British court concluded that Saleh's comments were hateful of Jews.
Despite the evidence of Saleh's animosity to Jews, Corbyn has continued to demonstrate support for him. Most alarmingly, in response to the uproar at the prospect of Saleh's appearance in the House of Commons, Corbyn has backed calls by Saleh's lawyer for an inquiry into supposed Jewish influence within the Conservative Party, falsely accused of organising the opposition to Saleh's visit.
Corbyn enjoys being described as an "anti-fascist". By invoking the language of human rights, Corbyn has managed to escape the condemnation he so rightly deserves. As a Member of Parliament and as a veteran of the Labour Party, Corbyn's support for people such as Abu Maria helps to legitimize the very existence of pro-terror groups.
It is little surprise that now, over a year later, Corbyn is once again providing a platform to a terror activist at the heart of the British establishment. Alongside Abu Maria, Corbyn's fellow panellists include Baroness Jenny Tonge, who was forced out of the Liberal Democrat Party after she stated: "Beware Israel. Israel is not going to be there forever in its present form. One day, the United States of America will get sick of giving £70bn a year to Israel to support what I call America's aircraft carrier in the Middle East – that is Israel. One day, the American people are going to say to the Israel lobby in the USA: enough is enough. Israel will lose support and then they will reap what they have sown."
Furthermore, echoing a Hezbollah blood libel conspiracy claim, Tonge has previously suggested that Israeli medical teams were harvesting the organs of children in Haiti.
In 2009, Corbyn announced, during an address at a rally by the far-Left group Stop the War Coalition, that he was proud to be hosting an event in Parliament with "our friends from Hezbollah". Hezbollah, like Hamas, is listed by the USA and Israel as a terrorist organisation. Its attacks have murdered Jews all around the World, from the bombing of a Jewish culture centre in Argentina to the suicide bombing of a bus full of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. In 2006, Hezbollah terrorists crossed over the border from Lebanon into Israel and attacked an Israeli army patrol -- sparking a war in which thousands died. Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, has condemned the idea of peace with Israel and has said, "If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide". According to Jeremy Corbyn, however, Hezbollah is working to "bring about long term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region".
There is an important difference between tolerating extremism and empowering it. The former permits persons such as Abu Maria to argue on behalf of his ideology at privately organised events. Empowering extremism is quite different and unreservedly self-destructive – by providing pro-terror activists a platform in the House of Commons, we sanitize their work and legitimize their message.
Alarmingly, Corbyn is just one example. The empowerment of extremism is a cross-party sickness. Last month, Jane Ellison, a Conservative MP, hosted a meeting in Parliament for the 'Save Shaker Aamer' campaign. Shaker Aamer is the last British resident held in Guantanamo Bay. The Save Shaker Aamer campaign and the organisations that support it, however, do not fight to preserve habeas corpus, but rather they defend Aamer's support for the Taliban. During her involvement with this issue, Ellison has been happy to share platforms with pro-Taliban groups such as CagePrisoners and Hamas supporters such as Yvonne Ridley.
A cursory search of British media archives reveals hundreds of editorials, opinion pieces and polls debating whether to give far-right groups a platform – most concluding they should not. And yet of the Islamists and terror activists who support terrorism against Jews, the execution of homosexuals and the stoning of adulterous women, the media has published almost nothing.
Indeed, the small amount of coverage that does exist has even been sympathetic. Mahmoud Abu Rideh, for example, a Saudi Arabian national who was detained by British authorities in 2001 and placed under a control order in 2005, worked closely with the hook-handed hate-preacher, Abu Hamza, and was accused of fundraising for and distributing funds to al Qaeda groups. In spite of this, Amnesty International and CagePrisoners campaigned on his behalf – both groups implying he was the innocent victim of a conspiracy.
Further, the Guardian and the Independent – two of Britain's largest broadsheet newspapers – ran puff pieces that painted Abu Rideh as a persecuted refugee who just wanted a peaceful life, and featured photographs of Abu Rideh's children looking despondent. And yet in 2010, Abu Rideh was killed in Afghanistan while fighting alongside the Taliban. We have given terror and its apologists a platform, while we deny truth, reason and accountability a voice.
Both Corbyn and Abu Maria have adopted the title of human rights activists; the latter claiming he is "committed to the non-violent struggle for freedom and equality for all". It is possible to understand who a person is by examining what sort of company he keeps: Corbyn's support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and Abu Maria's involvement with the PIJ reveal that their putative commitment to human rights is nothing more than a façade – one that hides a far more sinister support for ideological forces with a sworn aversion to peace.
Despite the calls by Jewish groups for Abu Maria to be denied entry to the UK, it seems unlikely that the British Government will act. The continuing invitations by MPs such as Corbyn for pro-terror demagogues to speak in the British House of Commons is fast becoming the norm – voices of a hijacked humanitarian narrative promote extremism and hatred unchallenged by politicians, media and human rights organisations. We have given terror and its apologists a platform, while we deny truth, reason and accountability a voice.
Related Topics:  United Kingdom

Hamas: A Pawn in the Sunni-Shiite War

by Harold Rhode
November 29, 2012 at 4:30 am
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Shi'ite Iran, from its inception in 1979, saw Sunni organizations, such as Hamas, as tools with which to undermine the Sunni rulers, who control most of the Arab world.
A full scale Middle Eastern, Islamic type of war between the Sunnis and Shiites is raging. Officials in Washington are doing their best to label it anything but a war; when asked if it is a war, they seem to react in fear, and ignore the issue by saying, "We must do our best to ensure that such a war does not happen."
By refusing to label what is going on a war, however, we may well be preventing ourselves from devising policies which would address the problem, and make it evolve in the best interests of the US.
Historically, Islamic warfare has not necessarily been one in which large armies have fought each other, at least at the beginning of conflicts. What usually happens is that there are what we in the West call "terrorist raids," in which opposing sides send small raiding parties into each other's territory. These raids are ongoing and cause both sides to live in a constant state of tension with one another.
The dispute then festers until one side is strong enough to vanquish the other; from that day on, each side lives in an uneasy relationship with the other. The vanquished look for an opportunity to avenge their loss. Sadly, Middle Easterners culturally are unable bring themselves to "let bygones be bygones" – a concept totally alien to Middle Eastern culture. Disputes therefore fester, then erupt when one side perceives the other as weak.
When Khomeini arrived in Iran in February 1979, one of the first statements he made to the media on the tarmac was that "he had come to rectify a wrong which took place 1400 years ago." Westerners thought this somewhat quaint and obviously irrelevant. All that interested them was what he had to say about the Shah, America, and Israel. To Westerners, especially Americans, who dismiss things that happened a few days ago, Khomeini mumbling about some event that took place centuries ago seemed irrelevant. Middle Easterners, however, who never forget perceived wrongs, knew exactly what he was talking about. When the Muslim prophet Muhammad died in 632 CE, a fight broke out among the Muslims as to who would inherit the leadership of Islam. Those who supported their prophet's family eventually became known as the Shi'ites. Those who supported what might be labeled the "establishment" in Mecca became known as the Sunnis.
The Shi'ites were defeated and their leaders were, one by one, murdered by the Sunnis, who proceeded to take over the larger part of Muslim world. Sunnis and Shi'ites – especially in areas where they live together - still refight that battle, which took place almost 1400 years ago. Moreover, thanks to the easy way information travels, Sunnis and Shi'ites know more about each other than in the past, so this battle now also takes place even where Sunnis and Shi'ites never knew each other. What ended up being most important to Khomeini was not the Shah, therefore, but devising a strategy to rectify what he considered the great wrong that took place so long ago: bringing down the Sunni rulers and their version of Islam, and replacing them with the "true," Shi'ite, version of Islam.
No wonder Saudi rulers, who are members of an extreme Sunni version of Islam called Wahhabism, and their fellow Gulf Cooperation Council Sunni-ruled Gulf States, understood immediately that Khomeini was a mortal threat.
Sadly, our political establishment, who, as Westerners, simply do not live as deeply in history, had an immensely difficult time -- and still do -- assimilating Saudi, Jordanian, Egyptian, and other allied leaders' concerns.
In addition, on 9/11, Osama bin Laden vented his rage, blaming the West for what it did to Islam 80 years ago. Western experts of the Middle East racked their brains trying to figure out what that meant, but to Sunni Muslims, the answer was obvious: the Ottoman Caliphate was abolished by Ataturk and his colleagues. Many Muslims believe this degradation was imposed on Turkey after its defeat in World War I. For Sunnis, the Ottoman Caliph, the rightful ruler of the entire Muslim world, had been humiliated by people who could not have been Muslims. For Shi'ites, the abolishment of this "usurper" institution was a relief; the Sunni ruler, they believed, wanted nothing more than to destroy Shi'ism, the only "true" Islam.
As for last week's mini-war between Israel and Hamas, the members of Hamas are Sunni fundamentalists; it therefore seems it would be only natural for the Sunni world to support them. But Iran, from the inception of the Islamic Republic in 1979, saw organizations such as Hamas as tools to help them undermine the Sunni rulers, who control most of the Arab world.
Iranians understood that they could not stand up to the Arab world militarily, so Iran looked for Arab causes to support, which would demonstrate to the Arab masses that their rulers were weak and unable to solve problems, such as Israel's existence in the heart of the Arab and Muslim world, and the tyranny under which Arabs live.
First, the Iranians took over the Israel issue. For many years, Arab rulers had talked about defeating Israel but kept failing, thus heaping shame and humiliation on the Muslims -- in Middle Eastern culture, a fate worse than death. So Iran took on the Israel issue, which is, at best, peripheral to Shi'ites. For Shi'ites, the supposed holy status of Jerusalem is a Sunni innovation. The "holy status" was invented by hated Sunni rulers about 50 years after Muhammad's death, and thus to Shi'ites is an illegal innovation. Iran seems to have calculated that if it made this Sunni issue its own, and it stood up to the Israelis, it might gain the support of the Sunni masses against their rulers, and thus help Iran destroy these Sunni rulers and thereby win an important battle in their unending 1,400 year war against the Sunnis.
In Lebanon, moreover, Iran created Hizbullah, a Shi'ite military organization – actually an arm of the Iranian military -- which eventually fought Israel to a standstill in 2006. This was a huge public relations boost for Iran: no Sunni leaders had ever before managed to best Israel. Almost no Arab rulers complained about Israel going into Lebanon, while at the same time the head of Hizbullah, Hassan Nasrallah, instantly became a folk hero in many parts of the Arab world.
For Iran, Gaza was an opportunity too good to pass up. Iran developed ways of supplying Hamas with weapons to use against Israel, making use of Egypt's marginal control of the Sinai Peninsula that abuts Gaza. Over the past few years, Iran has supplied Gaza with missiles and rockets that could hit Tel Aviv, and has brought Hamas operatives to Iran for training.
After the so-called ceasefire, Ismail Haniyeh, one of Hamas's senior political leaders, went out of his way to thank Iran for its help. Thereafter, Iran dispatched a ship with missiles to resupply Hamas with missiles.
Egypt, by contrast, appeared not to want trouble on its border with Israel, and worked with Israel to rein Hamas in. Egypt's fundamentalist Sunni ruler from the Muslim Brotherhood, Muhammad Morsi, did not, as one might have expected, side with Hamas -- a sub-branch of the Egyptian Muslim brotherhood -- against Israel. Morsi seems to have many reasons for avoiding a conflict:
  1. Egypt's economy is collapsing; Morsi needs American economic support or he will not be able to feed his people.
  2. If Egypt attacked Israel, Israel might destroy Egypt's military, which currently is no match for Israel's; so it is in the Egyptian military's interest to keep the peace.
  3. If Morsi fights Israel, his military -- which is still in place from the days of Hosni Mubarak, even though, upon assuming power, Morsi replaced its leaders, and which benefits from American military largesse and which controls vast parts of the economy -- might overthrow him.
  4. Morsi wants to consolidate his power at home, and then, after becoming a modern pharaoh, push the Muslim Brotherhood's agenda not only to re-Islamize Egypt, but also the rest of the Muslim world. This plan may be tall and clearly long-term, but ever since the Muslim Brotherhood's founding in 1928, that has been its main goal. Morsi is himself a senior member of the Brotherhood.
  5. The timing of Hamas's attack on Israel put Morsi in a bind: even though he had not yet consolidated his power, if the situation had gotten truly out of hand, Morsi might have been forced into confronting Israel.
Combining all of these reasons, Morsi won the day: he mediated between Hamas and Israel, stopped the conflict from zooming out of control, and pacified the Americans who would now feel required to continue the economic, military and even political support Morsi so desperately needs to keep his sweeping new authoritarian powers beyond the reach of any check or balance. By not getting into a war with Israel, Morsi kept the Egyptian military at bay.
It is therefore not surprising that Morsi felt he could strike now in Egypt and grant himself these full dictatorial powers – far greater than Mubarak ever had – and there would be nothing that America, now feeling indebted to him, would do about it.
The Sunni fundamentalist Morsi is still engaged in an existential battle with the Iranian Shi'ites for the hearts and minds of Islam. Each side loathes the other. If one side triumphs in this 1,400 year old conflict, the other side loses. From Morsi's point of view, however, it seems that this fight must wait for another time.
Iran seems to be losing everywhere. In Syria, where its Alawite rulers are an offshoot of Shi'ism and recognized by many Shi'ite authorities as Shi'ites, Iran is losing this war to the more numerous local Sunnis.
Lebanon is also unstable; Hizbullah members there appear unsure how they can survive without the support of the Syrian Alawites. Iran is also a long way off, and it is not easy to resupply Hizbullah from there.
In Sudan, Iran's weapons plants have been destroyed. It was weapons from these factories which made their way to Gaza.
Could Israel's massive destruction of Hamas's rocket and missile capability be one more step on the road to eliminating Iran's nuclear program? Iran's allies are being destroyed or weakened, one by one. Sudan and Gaza are gone, at least for the time being. The Syrian regime does not appear to be winning its ruthless war against its insurgents. Will Hizbullah be able to remain strong without weapons coming in from Syria? Clearly, Hizbullah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, cannot, whatever he says, feel so secure: he has spent most of the past few years hiding underground from the Israelis. Shi'ite-ruled Iraq is preoccupied with its internal problems. Iran is gradually being left to stand alone. If Israel attacks Iran, Iran no longer has any useful Muslim allies to help it against the Israelis. Iran would therefore have greater difficulty confronting Israel.
In the end, Hamas was a pawn for Iran in the Sunni-Shiite war. Its leaders may be wondering where to turn, now that Egypt is ruled by fellow Sunni fundamentalists. For the moment, at least, Egypt does not seem to want to provoke Israel. Both Hamas and Iran, therefore, stand to gain from continuing their close relationship. Morsi understands that the Iranians want nothing more than to have the Sunnis confront Israel and lose -- a defeat which would help Iran in its war against the Sunnis.
Hamas has become a tool for both the Sunni and Shi'ite fundamentalists to use in their battle not only against the non-Muslim world, but against each other. If, in the Middle East, bygones cannot be bygones, this battle will continue until Allah decides which side is the most worthy and makes sure that side wins.
Related Topics:  Harold Rhode

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