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Israelis Intercept Iranian Weapon Shipment Bound for Terrorist Groups in Gaza

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Israeli Defense Force reports that it has intercepted a shipment of weapons from Iran that was bound for Gaza:

Last night, following extensive preparations, and on the government’s authorization, the IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Benjamin (Benny) Gantz, ordered the Israel Navy to intercept the KLOS-C, upon which the illicit arms were concealed in between commercial cargo.

IDF special naval forces boarded the vessel, in accordance with international law, and carried out a preliminary inspection of the cargo.

They discovered numerous advanced weapons during the inspection, including M-302 surface-to-surface missiles, which are capable of reaching any point in Israel, including major population centers Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. If Palestinian terrorist organizations had gotten their hands on these weapons, they would have been able to use them to threaten millions of Israeli civilians.

The Navy is currently sailing together with the cargo ship back to Israeli shores.

Video and more at the link. The interception comes just a day after President Barack Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and just a few days after Obama declared that the Palestinians “want peace” but Israeli settlements are getting in the way. In that interview, Obama warned that the US would not make the case for Israel to the international community if Israel did not go along with Palestinian demands. The interception also comes as Iranian ally Russia consolidates its positions after invading Crimea in neighboring Ukraine.

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Menendez: ‘I Have Stood Against So Many in My Own Party’ on Iran

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee got some of the loudest applause at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington for stressing how he’d bucked the Democratic Party in pushing for Iran sanctions.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) has continued his push for the bill co-authored with Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) despite other Democratic Senate chairmen agreeing to not pursue sanctions at President Obama’s behest.

“When it comes to Iran, I have stood with you and have stood against so many in my own party,” Menendez told the AIPAC crowd this morning, receiving a sustained standing ovation in return.

“For a decade, I was told that my concerns had no legitimate basis, that Iran would never be able to bring the Bushehr plant on line and that Iran’s nuclear activities were not the most major concern. History has shown us that those assessments about Iran’s abilities and intentions were simply wrong then, and I believe they are wrong today. If past is prologue, I’m skeptical of Iran keeping its promises,” the senator continued.

“It is clear that the only intense, punishing economic pressure influences Iranian leaders. So we must keep the pressure on. We must not let them obstruct and we can’t let them obfuscate and delay their way to dismantling the sanctions that we have worked together to build to bring them to the table to get to the point of making sure they never have the ability to create one nuclear bomb!”

Menendez confessed that what troubles him about the current diplomatic process “is that the international community seems to want any deal more than it wants a good deal.”

“We cannot let the international sanctions regime unravel before we have that better deal that verifiably dismantles Iran’s ability to produce highly enriched uranium, a deal that fully addresses the weaponization aspects of Iran’s nuclear program,” he said. “The problem is, is that the mere possibility that sanctions might be lifted has already brought a rush of business delegations to Tehran.”

Based on “the parameters described in the joint plan of action and all I’ve heard in briefings and recent Iranian actions,” he added, “I am very concerned.”

“To those who believe that if negotiations do not result in a deal or if Iran breaks the deal, we can always impose new sanctions, let me be very clear. If negotiations fail or if Iran breaks the deal, we may not have time to pass new sanctions. New sanctions are not a spigot that can be turned on and off, as suggested.” The Obama administration has continually been asserting this in pressuring Congress to back off.

“Even if Congress were to take up and pass new sanctions at the moment of Iran’s first breach of the joint plan of action or if they do not reach an agreement that is acceptable, there will be a lag time of six months to bring those sanctions on line and at least a year for the real impact to be felt,” Menendez continued. “And this would bring us, according to scientists that have testified before our committee, beyond the very short time that Iran would need to build a nuclear bomb, especially since the interim agreement does not require them to dismantle anything. It basically freezes their capability as it stands today.”

“…The fact is, Iran is simply looking to lock the door on its nuclear weapons program, and should they walk away later from the deal, as they have in the past, they can simply unlock the door and continue their nuclear weapons program from where they are today. And if that sounds familiar, it should. It sounds a lot like North Korea.”

The chairman stressed that “the United States must be the one to step up to help to protect the Israeli people and counter the threat that would be posed by a nuclear Iran.”

“If we are to take President Rouhani’s word that he said in Davos that Iran does not seek nuclear weapons — if that’s true, then the Iranian government should not have any problems with the obvious follow-up to that claim, starting with the verifiable dismantling of its illicit nuclear infrastructure. That is all the sanctions legislation seeks. I don’t believe we should settle for anything less. Do any of you believe we should settle for anything less?”

The audience shouted “no” in reply.

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Code Pink Co-Founder Claims She’s in Egyptian Airport Jail

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

It wasn’t even a day ago that Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin was protesting evil Israelis outside the AIPAC conference in Washington:

But then she apparently hopped on a plane to Gaza and now claims that she’s being held in Egyptian airport jail:

 

 

 

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Netanyahu to Obama: Peace Is ‘Not a Piece of Paper’

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Noting that President Obama has “a few other pressing matters” on his plate, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed at the White House today that Israel had taken “unprecedented steps” to advance the peace process in the past two decades.

The two sat down before the White House pool before heading into afternoon talks, which come after Obama warned Israel of “fallout” from not acquiescing to the peace process in an interview with Bloomberg.

“I mean, we vacated cities in Judea and Samaria. We left entirely Gaza. We’ve not only frozen settlements, we’ve uprooted entire settlements. We’ve released hundreds of terrorist prisoners, including dozens in recent months,” Netanyahu said. “And when you look at what we got in return, it’s been scores of suicide bombings, thousands of rockets on our cities fired from the areas we vacated, and just incessant Palestinian incitement against Israel. So Israel has been doing its part, and I regret to say that the Palestinians haven’t.”

Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been pushing an agreement as a legacy issue, and Vice President Joe Biden were both present at the remarks.

“Now, I know this flies in the face of conventional wisdom, but it’s the truth,” Netanyahu continued. “And the people of Israel know that it’s the truth because they’ve been living it. What they want is peace. What we all want fervently is peace. Not a piece a paper –- although that, too — but a real peace; a peace that is anchored in mutual recognition of two nation states that recognize and respect one another, and solid security arrangements on the ground.”

“…The Palestinians expect us to recognize a Palestinian state for the Palestinian people, a nation state for the Palestinian people. I think it’s about time they recognize a nation state for the Jewish people. We’ve only been there for 4,000 years.”

The Palestinians have already said that recognition of the Jewish state is a non-starter, yet the administration keeps pushing Israel to accept a framework.

“As you know and I think everybody does, in the Middle East, which is definitely the most turbulent and violent part of the Earth, the only peace that will endure is a peace that we can defend. And we’ve learned from our history — Jewish history, but I think from general history — that the best way to guarantee peace is to be strong. And that’s what the people of Israel expect me to do –- to stand strong against criticism, against pressure, stand strong to secure the future of the one and only Jewish state,” Netanyahu said. “And I think there is a partnership there, a partnership between Israel and America, that I think is important for this end.”

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McCain to AIPAC: ‘I’m Sorry to Tell You’ American Leadership Is ‘MIA’

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) asserted to applause this morning at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington that the Obama administration’s leadership in the world is “MIA.”

McCain lauded the crowd as “trying to do the Lord’s work in the city of Satan.”

“What happens in Ukraine is directly related to what happens in the Middle East and obviously we know that what happens in the Middle East is vital to the existence of the state of Israel,” he said. “…And now, now that the Olympics are over, immediately afterwards, we now see the occupation of Crimea. And by the way, in case you missed it, one of the reasons why there’s a majority population of Russians in Crimea is because Stalin exported all the Tartars, over half of them were killed, as he deported them from the Crimea. But the fact is, that this is a blatant act on the part of Vladimir Putin and one that must be unacceptable to the world community. It cannot stand.”

The senator pointed to a broad array of options the U.S. has to respond, including the expansion of the Magnitsky Act previously passed by Congress against human-rights violators in Russia.

“Why do we care? Because this is the ultimate result of a feckless foreign policy where nobody believes in America’s strength any more,” he said to a reaction of applause.

“In 2009, many of you may remember, as we saw on YouTube, we saw a young woman named Neda bleed to death in the street in Tehran when the people of Iran rose up and said, ‘Obama, Obama — are you with us or are you — are you with us or are you with them?’ And you know what, the president of the United States didn’t say a word,” McCain continued. “The president of the United States believes that the Cold War is over. That’s fine. It is over. But Putin doesn’t believe it’s over. He doesn’t believe that this is a zero-sum game. Look at Moldova. Look at the occupation of Georgia. Look at the pressure on the Baltic nations.”

“Look at what they’re doing in assisting Bashar al-Assad’s slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent people in cities and towns and countryside all over Syria… What do you think is going to happen if Bashar al-Assad continues to prevail, as far as the other nations in the region are concerned? Jordan, probably our best friend, is destabilized. The whole situation cries out for American leadership and I’m sorry to tell you it’s MIA.”

McCain quipped that one of his “favorites” is “tell Vladimir that I’ll be more flexible when I’m reelected. Tell Vladimir I’ll be more flexible when I’m reelected?”

He called Obama’s red line “a seminal moment, when the president of the United States says that that president’s going to take military action and does not, that sends a message all the way around the globe, as far away as China.”

“If we’re not willing to take action when an anti-American, anti-Semitic tyrant gasses 1,400 innocent people to death, what does it say about us?”

McCain responded to Americans who say they are “weary of war.”

“Do you know how many times in history that’s been said? Do you know how many times prior to World War II, when Hitler marched into the Sudetenland and when Neville Chamberlain said we’re not going to fight in a faraway country for people that don’t speak our language and we don’t know?” he said. “My friends, the lessons of history are that we have to be ready. And as Ronald Reagan used to say, peace through strength, not through weakness and not through cutting our defense budget back to the smallest army that we’ve had since prior to World War II.”

The senator quipped that he’s “been around a long time. In fact, since the Coolidge administration.”

“But I would say to you, I have never seen this world in need of strong American leadership more than it is today. And I believe the events of these — these negotiations with Iran, which I hope to succeed but I doubt, when I see the slaughter in Syria, when I see the Chinese asserting themselves in Asia, when I see in response, cuts — significant cuts in foreign aid and also in our Defense budget, I’m worried.”

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Obama Finds a Country to Threaten. Too Bad It’s Israel.

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Much has already been written about Jeffrey Goldberg’s amazing interview with President Obama. The interview took place Thursday, the day before Russia captured Crimea from Ukraine.

The salient segment:

On the subject of Middle East peace, Obama told me that the U.S.’s friendship with Israel is undying, but he also issued what I took to be a veiled threat: The U.S., though willing to defend an isolated Israel at the United Nations and in other international bodies, might soon be unable to do so effectively.

“If you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction — and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time,” Obama said. “If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited.”

It’s less a veiled threat than a plain old threat. The United States could make the case for Israel if it chose to. Obama is telling the world that he no longer intends to make that case.

The case for Israel, and against its closest enemies, is simple. The Palestinians elected Hamas to lead them (which “complicated peace efforts,” according to the Washington Post at the time); Hamas openly wants to destroy Israel. The majority of the Palestinian people openly reject any peace deal that includes Israel’s existence. Those facts haven’t changed just because Barack Obama wants them to or pretends that they are not facts. That fact that the Palestinians teach their children to hate Jews, and celebrate acts of terrorism against Israel, hasn’t changed either.

Maybe after Obama’s unfairness and weakness result in another terrible Middle East war, the Washington Post can stir itself to describe Obama’s Israel policy as “fantasy.”

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US-Financed MidEast Airline Shows Its Racist Side

Monday, March 3rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Etihad Airlines is one of a couple of state-owned Middle East-based airlines that receives US taxpayer dollars for its overseas security operations. The airline is based in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates and does not need the US subsidy. The state-run airline ends up spending millions on outfitting top flight soccer teams and buying the names of European soccer stadiums. Most Americans don’t even care about soccer. But you’re paying for it anyway.

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Etihad Airlines is based in the supposedly moderate Muslim UAE. But it has now wiped Israel off its maps of the Middle East. It also refuses to allow Israelis to fly.

The US Department of Homeland Security spends $425,000 annually on a preclearance customs facility for Etihad Airways, a partner of American Airlines, at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The facility fast-tracks Abu Dhabi travelers to the United States by allowing them to clear customs more easily and bypass long lines.

But the carrier, owned by the United Arab Emirates, has an official travel-route map that shows all surrounding countries, including Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Cyprus — but not the Jewish state or its major cities.

Etihad also has refused to transport any Israelis, who aren’t allowed in the UAE. In 2010, it even began teaching its flight agents how to identify Israeli travelers by their “accents and traits,” the BBC has reported.

Etihad is the only airline that benefits from the Abu Dhabi facility. While the $425,000 per year is a tiny expense in the overall US budget, it’s not the full extent of US aid to the racist airline. In addition to the security facility, the United States has promised more than $1 billion in six loans from the Export-Import Bank to state-run Etihad since 2009.

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Dem Foreign Affairs Leader Wary of How Administration Will Define a Good Deal with Iran

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

WASHINGTON — The leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee cast heavy doubt on the prospects for Iran fulfilling the six-month nuclear agreement currently underway, with Democratic Ranking Member Eliot Engel (N.Y.) stressing “we should be under no illusion that somehow these are nice people and everything is wonderful.”

Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) recounted how Congress perpetually had to lean on the executive branch to agree to tough enough sanctions on the Islamic Republic in the first place, from the Clinton administration to the present day.

“The great irony for me is those who were opposed for so many years now say it’s the sanctions that got the Iranians to the table,” Royce said alongside Engel at a panel at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington on Sunday.

Royce stressed that they would have ever greater leverage at the bargaining table if sanctions hadn’t been “watered down” and lamented the stall of tougher sanctions passed in the House at the end of July on an overwhelming vote of 400-20. “I think we lost the opportunity by not forcing that action sooner,” he said of its death in the Senate.

Engel brought up the words of Ronald Reagan, “Trust but verify.”

“I don’t trust them and we need to verify,” the New York Democrat said. “Congress obviously plays a very, very important role in the struggle to make sure Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon.”

He expressed disappointment in the sanctions relief included in the interim deal by the Obama administration. “I was hoping we could keep the pressure on while negotiations are going on,” Engel continued. “…It’s the same regime and we need to know that before we can deal with them effectively.”

Royce said a key congressional concern is “that once you start the process” of a sanctions rollback “it would be an excuse for everyone to beat a path to Iran’s door.”

“Anyone who makes investments in Iran is likely to lose that investment,” the chairman said, comparing the current situation to when Congress had to override dragging diplomacy “to get the job done with respect to moving South Africa in a different direction.”

“It’s quite unlikely that Iran is going to comply to the requirements we’re seeking here,” Royce said. “…If they don’t play ball, at the end of the day we need to move forward.”

Engel said what especially bothers him is not the administration pledge that no deal is better than a bad deal, but what will constitute a “bad deal.” He called it an “ominous” sign that “as we’re sitting and talking they continue to enrich.”

“It should not have been too much to say to the Iranians ‘while we’re talking, you stop enriching,’” he said, adding he also doesn’t want to see a “deal that freezes their program at 96%.”

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Why Are Christians the World’s Most Persecuted Group?

Friday, February 28th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

Why are Christians, as a new Pew report documents, the most persecuted religious group in the world?  And why is their persecution occurring primarily throughout the Islamic world?  (In the category on “Countries with Very High Government Restrictions on Religion,” Pew lists 24 countries—20 of which are Islamic and precisely where the overwhelming majority of “the world’s” Christians are actually being persecuted.)

The reason for this ubiquitous phenomenon of Muslim persecution of  Christians is threefold:

Christianity is the largest religion in the world.  There are Christians practically everywhere around the globe, including in much of the Muslim world.  Moreover, because much of the land that Islam seized was originally Christian—including the Middle East and North Africa, the region that is today known as the “Arab world”—Muslims everywhere are still confronted with vestiges of Christianity, for example, in Syria, where many ancient churches and monasteries are currently being destroyed by al-Qaeda linked, U.S. supported “freedom fighters.”  Similarly, in Egypt, where Alexandria was a major center of ancient Christianity before the 7th century Islamic invasions, there still remain at least 10 million Coptic Christians (though some put the number at much higher). Due to sheer numbers alone, then, indigenous Christians are much more visible and exposed to attack by Muslims than other religious groups throughout the Arab world.   Yet as CNS News puts it, “President Obama expressed hope that the ‘Arab Spring’ would give rise to greater religious freedom in North Africa and the Middle East, which has had the world’s highest level of hostility towards religion in every year since 2007, when Pew first began measuring it. However, the study finds that these regions actually experienced the largest increase in religious hostilities in 2012.”… Click for the other two reasons

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Obama Stepping in to Try to Force Mideast Deal

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry has been pushing to make President Obama’s legacy goal of a Mideast peace deal a reality, but now the process is getting bumped up to the Oval Office.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking Tuesday morning at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in D.C.

On Monday he’ll meet with Obama, where the president is expected to pressure the prime minister to accept a Kerry-crafted framework for a Mideast peace process. Netanyahu, however, is eager to discuss Obama’s “historic mistake” on Iran.

This morning the White House announced this will be followed by a visit from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on St. Patrick’s Day.

“The President looks forward to reviewing with President Abbas the progress in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,” press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “They will also discuss our continuing effort to work cooperatively to strengthen the institutions that can support the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Netanyahu said at a press conference Monday that “without Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, there can be no real reconciliation because the conflict cannot end without the Palestinians basically giving up all national claims to the Jewish state.”

“Peace must also be based on iron-clad security arrangements that enable Israel to safeguard the peace and protect Israel for any contingency because in this volatile part of the world, and we see how volatile it is, there can be no real peace without security,” Netanyahu said, adding that boycott movements “only serve to strengthen Palestinian intransigence.”

The chief Palestinian negotiator told Al-Jazeera this month that things will get “ugly” if a Mideast peace deal isn’t reached by April and warned that the Palestinian Authority — which already controls only half of the two Palestinian territories — could crumble.

“Number one…I cannot accept Israel as a Jewish state,” Saeb Erakat said. “Number two: I cannot accept any document without East Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine.”

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Iran’s Deputy Military Commander: We Love Libertarians!

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri, recently told Iran’s Asriran news service, this.

[Jazayeri] went on to add that the Islamic Republic of Iran supports Libertarian groups and movements in the world.

“Supports.” In what way? Does he mean that in a “we really dig libertarians” (which the totalitarian mullahs very much don’t, philosophically) sort of way, or did he mean that in a “we fund and finance libertarian movements because we appreciate their dovish impact on foreign governments” sort of way?

Is this an admission that today’s big-L Libertarian movements have some sort of relationship with Iran that’s analogous to the nuclear freeze movement’s relationship with the Soviet Union? The USSR funded nuclear freeze — a western movement that boasted the likes of John Kerry and Barack Obama back in the day — to undermine President Reagan’s efforts to stand toe-to-toe with the Communist czars.

Because if that’s what’s going on vis-a-vis Iran and big-L Libertarians now, it could be significant.

 

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White House Sending Kerry, Lew to Address AIPAC

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House is sending Secretary of State John Kerry to speak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee megaconference in Washington beginning Sunday.

Also sent will be Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. Together the two are expected to explain the Iran deal and the sanctions relief that has peaked the ire and concern of so many.

Kerry is also expected to talk about his attempt to forge a Mideast peace deal.

He drew criticism in recent weeks for his comments about the price Israel would pay if it didn’t acquiesce to the U.S. peace process. “You see, for Israel there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up,” Kerry said. “People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”

The chief Palestinian negotiator told Al-Jazeera last week that things will get “ugly” if a Mideast peace deal isn’t reached by April and warned that the Palestinian Authority — which already controls only half of the two Palestinian territories — could crumble. “Number one…I cannot accept Israel as a Jewish state,” Saeb Erakat said. “Number two: I cannot accept any document without East Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine.”

Last year, Vice President Joe Biden was sent by the White House to talk to the conference. President Obama spoke the year he was seeking re-election.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to D.C. to address the conference and to meet with Obama on March 3.

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Kirsten Powers Persecutes Christians, Accusing Us of Establishing a New Form of ‘Jim Crow’

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Kirsten Powers believes that Christians who are defending their right of conscience to object to performing services for same-sex marriages are enacting a new Jim Crow. She writes her thoughts on the matter down for the Daily Beast.

Let’s destroy that analogy before moving forward, in the hope that it never rears its idiotic head again.

Jim Crow laws, which were perpetrated on black Americans by Powers’ very own and beloved Democratic Party, were designed to oppress an entire race of people. They were not in any sense a reaction to an offense. They were not in any sense based on any Christian biblical principle. They were not in any sense about freedom of conscience. The Democratic Party’s Jim Crow regime was designed for purposes of pure racism. Its “separate but equal” regime was done by powerful people to oppress those who had no power — powerful Democrats oppressing powerless black Americans.

A pair of states have considered passing laws concerning same-sex marriage. Kansas and Arizona are considering laws that would allow a Christian who owns a business to opt out, for reasons of religious conscience, of performing services for same-sex marriages. Nothing in these laws would deny services of the government to same-sex marriages or force the state’s hand should disputes over services arise. The purpose of these laws would be to prevent Christians from facing expensive, time-consuming lawsuits if they refuse service to same-sex couples in wedding contexts. Such lawsuits have already happened, and the Christians have lost them. In one case that it still ongoing, a Mennonite couple in Iowa face a civil rights lawsuit because they refused to host a same-sex wedding reception in their art gallery. Their gallery is open to all most of the time, but they do rent it for receptions. As Christians, they do not believe in anything but the traditional definition of marriage. For this, they are being sued. They counter that their refusal is based on their own civil rights — the right of religious conscience to decline participation in events and ceremonies that they believe are against God, based on beliefs that long pre-date the state. This case follows the Colorado case of a wedding cake bakery that was sued for declining a same-sex wedding, and a photographer in New Mexico who similarly declined a same-sex wedding. Losing those lawsuits threatens the Christians’ right to make a living free of harassment, and may deprive them of their private property, while they have their names dragged through the mud thanks to a media that is very much hostile to traditional Christians in this country. Unfortunately, that hostile media includes the likes of Kirsten Powers.

In all of these cases, the Christians were literally minding their own businesses when the question of same-sex marriage hit them. They were not going out of their way to oppress anyone. They were not in control of the mechanisms of the state to exact any form of oppression. None of these cases resemble the Democrats’ Jim Crow regime at all. Jim Crow was government-enforced, top-down oppression based on race. Powers’ use of Jim Crow exhibits shallow, ill-informed and frankly illogical thinking. If there were licenses required for punditry, hers would be open to revocation on grounds of malpractice.

Powers may lack the critical thinking skills to understand why her use of Jim Crow is so far off the mark, but she is very intelligent and politically she knows exactly what she is doing. Invoking Jim Crow is intended to bully and coerce those of us who disagree with her, to silence us into submission, while at the same time it rallies forces on her side to go on the attack. Given the pieces and layout on this particular chess board, it’s not too much to say that Powers is using her position in media to persecute Christians. I won’t accuse Powers of engaging in Jim Crow oppression herself, as that analogy does not hold up. But she can perhaps be likened to Saul, the sincere first century scholar who sincerely set about attacking the early Church because he thought it was the morally right and politically correct thing to do. People can be and often are sincerely wrong.

Powers, we should keep in mind, sets about attacking Christians not just on same-sex marriage. She has written accusing America’s churches of “staying silent” in the face of growing persecution of Christians around the world. I won’t presume to speak for Powers’ church, but America’s evangelical churches are far from silent on the matter. We here at PJ Media are far from silent on the matter. Conservatives in general are far from silent on the matter. Ray Ibrahim, Brigitte Gabriel, Robert Spencer, myself, talk show hosts like Laura Ingraham, National Review’s Kathryn Jean Lopez and many many others write regularly on the persecution of the church abroad. Churches actively support missionary efforts to build Christian communities in the most dangerous places on earth, and highlight when governments go on the offensive against Christians. We take the oppressed in whenever possible.

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U.S. Negotiators Say Iran Meeting ‘Past Speeches of Ideology’ and ‘Conversational’

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The U.S. representative overseeing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program said the P5+1 had “a very workmanlike, very constructive and I would say productive set of conversations” with the Iranians in Vienna over the past few days.

The latest round of talks is meant to forge a final deal out of the six-month interim agreement already under way.

“We all, of course, have different perspectives about how to resolve those issues, how they should be addressed; but, indeed, we discussed the entire range of subjects,” Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told MSNBC. “…We have now set the table by arraying all of the things that need to be discussed in that comprehensive agreement, a timetable of meetings a process going forward. We began the work. Now we’re going to get even deeper into the hard work. This is going to be difficult. This is going to be tough. This is going to be complex.”

Before the P5+1 went into the week’s meetings, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said there would be no deal forged to America’s liking, though he gave the foreign ministry permission to discuss nukes anyway. “It won’t get anywhere but I’m not against it,” he tweeted.

“There was a commitment by everyone sitting at the negotiating table today to try to get this done and to get this done by the end of July when the six months of the joint plan of action are up. That was a very worthwhile first step,” Sherman said. “We expect and see that all parties are, in fact, following through on the commitments they have been — they made in that first step. But we don’t want it to be the only step. And we don’t want it to be the last step. We have to get to a comprehensive agreement for two reasons.”

“We have to be sure, as President Obama has said, that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. And secondly, we have to make sure that the international community has confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is an exclusively peaceful one. That’s the measure of a comprehensive agreement. That’s what we’re setting out to do.”

Sherman will spend the weekend traveling to Jerusalem, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai “for consultations with their governments and representatives of the Gulf Cooperation Council following P5+1 negotiations with Iran in Vienna,” the State Department said this morning.

“What we can do, what we always do is talk to people around the world about what is now they are able to do under the joint plan of action. There was limited targeted sanctions relief for the six months that the joint plan of action is enforced,” Sherman said. “And we have made all the necessary arrangements for that limited targeted sanctions relief. And we are committed to the repatriation of funds from Iranian frozen assets that are permissible under the joint plan of action.”

A senior administration official told reporters on background that the meetings were “long past speeches of ideology.”

“That really does not occur. It was very conversational, it was back and forth. It was not one long presentation followed by another long presentation. It was engaged and it was a dialogue. It was substantive. It covered all of the issues that need to be put on the table to establish the way forward in a comprehensive agreement. And I would say that those words are descriptive of everyone at the table,” the official said.

Tweeted the ayatollah during this week’s talks:

 

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Israeli Civil Rights Center: Oxfam Funds a Terrorist Group and Should Stop

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In a press release today, the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center is taking a strong stand against Oxfam over a connection between the group and a Palestinian group. See the full press release:

(Tel Aviv) An Israeli civil rights group, Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Center, has demanded that the international aid organization Oxfam severe its ties with the Union of  Health Workers Committees (“UHWC”) and the Union of Agricultural Worker’s Committee (“UAWC”), two agencies of the proscribed terror organization, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Oxfam lists both of the agencies as its partners whom it works with in Hamas controlled Gaza and the Palestinian Authority.  In a letter sent today, Shurat HaDun warned Oxfam that providing financial assistance and other forms of material support to affiliates of the terrorist PFLP is illegal and would subject the NGO to both criminal and civil liability.

The Shurat HaDin letter, sent to Oxfam’s UK, Dutch, American and Australian branches, demands written confirmation that the NGO permanently discontinue providing financial aid and other material support to the UHWC and the UAWC.

The letter was sent by Shurat HaDin director Nitsana Darshan-Leitner. For a copy of the letter click: http://www.scribd.com/doc/208113203/Letter-to-Oxfam-2-20-14

Oxfam recently made world headlines when it criticized actress Scarlett Johansson’s involvement with the Israeli company, SodaStream. Johansson, who had been serving as a goodwill ambassador for Oxfam, refused to endorse the NGO’s policy of boycotting Israeli firms and resigned her position.

According to Shurat HaDin, the UHWC and the UAWC are the PFLP’s health and agricultural organizations respectively and they are instrumentalities of the terrorist group. The PFLP has been designated as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the European Union, the United States, Israel and Australian Governments.  It is illegal for any individual or organization to financially support or make assets available to designated terrorist organizations, including to their agencies and instrumentalities.

As the letter states, “The PFLP is one of the most violent and dangerous of the Palestinian terrorist organizations having carried out decades of murderous operations against civilian targets including airplane hijackings, the massacre at Ben Gurion Airport in 1972, intifada suicide bombings, the assassination of an Israeli minister and the murder of a Jewish family, including three infant children in the Itamar community in March 2011. The PFLP is responsible for the criminal deaths of Israeli, American and European victims around the world. Several of its leaders are currently serving life sentences in Israeli prisons for their involvement in heinous terrorist attacks.”

According to Shurat HaDin, the law is strict when it comes to aiding and abetting terrorism, citing the United States Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the case of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, 561 U.S.1, 130 S.Ct. 2705 (2010), which found that providing any assistance or support to terrorists, including putatively benign forms of assistance (such as health and agricultural aid) is criminal.

As such, the provision of aid to the UHWC and the UAWC, which ultimately inures to the benefit and interests of the PLFP would constitute the type of seemingly innocuous material support that would render organizations criminally and civilly liable. This includes liability for terrorist attacks carried out by the PLFP against Israeli, European, American and civilians of other nationalities.

According to attorney Darshan-Leitner: “While Oxfam accuses Israel of war crimes, they themselves have partnered and financially supported a designated Palestinian terrorist organization. Any money given to a terrorist organization, including its instrumentalities, advances its ability to carry out murderous attacks. Oxfam claims to care about human rights in Gaza but doesn’t seem to care as much about the victims of the PFLP terrorist, including the lives of the Fogel family children who were massacred in their sleep.

Shurat HaDin-IsraelLawCenter (http://israellawcenter.org/) is an international human rights law organization dedicated to enforcing basic human rights through the legal system and representing victims of terrorism in courtrooms around the world.

The Tatler covered the Scarlett Johannson flap here.

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Kidnapped Nuns Stripped of Cross

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

A new video of the twelve Christian nuns kidnapped in Syria recently appeared.  In it, the nuns are taped sitting in a room and being questioned by an unseen man, presumably a member of the kidnappers.  He asks them how they are, if they’ve been mistreated, etc.

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They respond that they are being treated fine, that they very much look forward to being returned to their convent, that they heartily thank the world for its concern, and that they continually pray that God grant peace to all nations.

Their words say one thing, their expressions and demeanor another.  Put differently, as female captives of Islamic jihadis, what else could they say but what they were told to say?  (See, for example, how the nun in glasses had to be forced to face the camera at 1:46.)  Even if one of them dared to say the “wrong thing,” it naturally would have been edited out.  Who knows how many takes it took to get the video—which includes a bizarre clip of the nuns having a snowball fight with their abductors—just right?

One thing, however, although minor, speaks volumes concerning the nature of their captivity.  Although these same nuns, in pictures before they were kidnapped, often appear wearing the large pectoral crosses that nuns often wear, these are all gone in the recent video… Keep reading

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Egypt: Christian Syrian Family Slaughtered

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

A Christian Syrian family of four living in Alexandria, Egypt, was barbarically stabbed to death Sunday in their home in al-Ibrahamya neighborhood, Arabic media are reporting.

The family consisted of a father, 44, his wife, 35, their 6-year-old son, Michael, and the wife’s brother.

Michael, slaughtered 6-yr-old

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the murders, the house, where the family had been living for years, was set on fire by the murderers in an attempt to hide the crime but was put out by authorities.

All four bodies were found bearing many stab wounds and other signs of extreme violence.

The wife and child had their throats slit, while the father appeared to have been stabbed to death, with stab wounds all over his body.

The crime was not motivated by theft, as the home was not robbed, and preliminary reports say the family was slaughtered for being supporters of the Bashar Assad government in Syria… Keep reading

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Qatar to Send Brotherhood Leaders to London Haven

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

According to new media reports, Qatar’s government has called on the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Group (al-Gama‘a al-Islamiyya)—including Assam Abdul Majid and Tarek al-Zomor, the leaders of the Islamic Group, and Muhammad Mahsub, Ashraf Badr al-Deen, Mahmoud Hasayn, and Hamza Zawba, the formal speaker of the Brotherhood’s Justice and Freedom Party—to leave Qatar and go to the English capital, London.

Sources say this move comes after Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations have begun to pressure Qatar for being a haven to Brotherhood and Islamic Group leaders.

Earlier, Turkey refused to accept these Islamist refugees.

Of note is the fact that England has not ratified the extradition agreement, meaning it does not need to extradite any criminal to any country, not to mention north London is a haven for Muslim Brotherhood members, at their head, the Secretary General of the Brotherhood, Mahmoud Ezzat, also known as “Mr. X” and the true leader of the organization.

 

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Kuwaiti: Naming Son After George Bush Was ‘the Least I Can Do’

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

From the region where the U.S. was so hated until President Obama came in to reset foreign policy:

A Kuwaiti man, who named his son after former U.S. President George H.W. Bush – in a show of gratitude for the American leader’s efforts to liberate Kuwait after the Iraqi invasion in 1990 – has defended his decision against social media criticism.

“It would have been better for those who don’t like Bush to liberate Kuwait and not make us need his services at the time,” Nayef al-Mutairi told Al Arabiya News Channel on Monday.

…Asked whether his son is facing social problems over the “George Bush” name, Mutairi said: “My son lives a normal life and has no problems because of his name.”

“At home we call him Bush, but his friends call him George,” he explained.

When his wife was pregnant, the father, who was held captive by the Iraqis at the time of the invasion, vowed to name his future baby “George Bush” if it was a boy or after former British Prime Minister “Margaret Thatcher” if a girl.

…“My wife gave birth to a boy, so I named him George Bush. This is the least I can do for his efforts to liberate Kuwait and save us,” he said.

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Ayatollah Dismisses Nuke Deal, White House Official Says They Have ‘Sober Frame of Mind’

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A senior administration official admitted that the Ayatollah Khamenei’s comments about a nuclear deal being doomed and duplicitous should slightly lower expectations going into the next round of talks in Vienna.

The P5+1 is meeting to take the six-month interim agreement and forge it into a long-term agreement, but the Supreme Leader’s statements sought to dampen any real or feigned optimism from the White House.

 

 

When asked how the White House was interpreting those comments, a senior administration official at a special briefing in Vienna said “I think you have to ask him what his intentions were.” This was followed by laughter.

“But I think you know he made the statement he did today – President Obama has said that he believes this is a 50-50 proposition. So I think, probably with all of you, we don’t have to worry about high expectations,” the official said.

“And indeed, I think it is right to approach these negotiations with a sober frame of mind. If this were easy to do, it would have been done a very long time ago. It is extraordinary that we were able to take a first step, commitments of which are being kept by everyone. We now have to build on that so that it is not the only step and it is not the last step. But it is very complex; it is very difficult. We are all committed to working as hard as we possibly can, as fast as we can, but this is a very detailed-oriented comprehensive agreement with very difficult decisions that have to be taken by everybody. So I certainly think leadership all over the world is keeping expectations at the appropriate place – cautious, very cautious.”

The administration official also said they have no qualms about telling congressional Democrats who want to pass a sanctions bill with a veto-proof majority to worry more about the White House’s desires than their midterm elections.

“What I will say is that many people have brought up our midterm elections, and won’t that have pressure on what we do? And I would say that throughout this process, the president, the secretary of State have made – and policymakers in U.S. government – have made decisions they thought served the national security interest of the United States. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have worked so hard to tell the Congress, ‘Please do not pass new sanctions legislation now.’ The politically easy thing to do would have been to say, ‘Okay.’ But that wasn’t, in the view of the president and the secretary and all of us, the right thing to do.”

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Chief Palestinian Negotiator: Things Will Get ‘Ugly’ If Israel Doesn’t Agree to Deal by April

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The chief Palestinian negotiator told Al-Jazeera that things will get “ugly” if a Mideast peace deal isn’t reached by April and warned that the Palestinian Authority — which already controls only half of the two Palestinian territories — could crumble.

Saeb Erakat told Al Jazeera’s Head to Head, in a show that will air Feb. 28, that the Palestinians will accept Israel’s right to exist but “not as a Jewish state,” and will maintain that they have a right to launch attacks against Israel without a deal.

“If you want me to take you into the scenario of after that, it’s going to be very ugly,” Erakat said of a spring without a peace deal. “That’s why I say to John Kerry…imagine Israel now just takes over everything in the West Bank. …Amidst the changing Middle East, all right? And mark my words: what’s happening in the Arab world is Arabs are democratizing and anybody who says Arabs are not ready for democracy is a racist, and this is the best thing that happened to me as a Palestinian. … It’s going to be painful, it’s going to be long, it’s going to be bloody. But Arabs are democratizing.”

Secretary of State John Kerry just added a stop in Paris to his current round of international travel to “meet with Palestinian Authority President Abbas to discuss the ongoing negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis” on Wednesday, the State Department said this morning.

Kerry drew criticism in recent weeks for his comments about the price Israel would pay if it didn’t acquiesce to the U.S. peace process. “You see, for Israel there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up,” Kerry said. “People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”

Erakat said he thinks the Palestinian Authority will fold if a peace deal wasn’t reached, but then admitted it was doomed anyway.  “I’m not asking for the solution for the PA, the PA cannot be sustained in its current form…It’s not sustainable anymore,” he told Al Jazeera.

“I will never recognize a Jewish state,” Erakat said. “Because I have recognized the state of Israel’s right to exist in exchange for future recognition, in 1993 the name of Israel, state of Israel. Now, you know why they want me to recognize a Jewish state? I am the son of the Natufians, who built my hometown Jericho 2,000 years ago. I am the son of the Arab Kenonites, who were there 6,000 years before (who) came and built my hometown Jericho. What the Israeli’s want me to do when I recognize Israel as a Jewish state, they want me to change my narrative, my history, my religion.”

“Number one…I cannot accept Israel as a Jewish state,” the chief negotiator said. “Number two: I cannot accept any document without East Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine.”

As far as attacks on Israel, Erakat said, “As long as there is occupation, there is resistance.”

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The Simple Wisdom of Arab Dictators

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

After my recent articles documenting how the U.S. is the chief facilitator of Christian persecution in the Muslim world, I received an email from John Eibner, CEO of Christian Solidarity International, in which he made the following observation:

The sad fact is that the ruthless Assad dictatorship has a better record than the United States or its Sunni allies of protecting religious minorities in the Middle East. What Syrian Christian, Alawite or Druze in their right mind would trade the Assad’s time-tested protection for the smooth words of a John Kerry, especially when they can see Sunni supremacist Saudis, Qataris, Turks and a motley array of jihadis over their shoulder?

A sad fact indeed.

Still, one of the most nagging questions for Western observers must be: Why would ruthless dictators, most of whom are at least nominally Muslim, care about Christians and bother to protect them?

The answer is related to the popular adage (possibly of Arab origin), “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  This has long meant that, whoever is at odds with my enemy becomes my natural friend and ally.

In the context of Arab dictators and Christian minorities, however, the adage changes slightly to, “The enemy of ‘infidels’ is my enemy.”

Put differently, a secular Bashar Assad—ruthless as he may be—knows that those Islamic rebels that attack Christians because the latter are “infidels” also see him as an infidel and are thus his natural enemies.

And so, if anything, finding and neutralizing those “elements” that persecute Christians is one with finding and neutralizing those elements that would overthrow him.

It was the same in Saddam’s Iraq, Mubarak’s Egypt, Qaddafi’s Libya, and the rest.

The point is not that these dictators had any special love for their Christian subjects, but rather that they knew they had little to worry about from them, while those who attack Christians are the ones to worry about.

This is evinced by the fact that, in other contexts, such Arab rulers cast the Christians to the lions as scapegoats for Islamists to vent their rage on—a “better them than me mentality.”

Still, an overarching deduction exists: those who scream “infidels” while burning churches are the same who scream “apostate” while attacking state targets.  It’s an unwavering truism.

Even al-Qaeda’s Ayman Zawahiri recently demonstrated this correlation when he called on Egypt’s jihadis to stop targeting Christians and their churches and focus instead on fighting the current rulers.  In both cases, the jihadis see the “infidel”—whether the born Coptic Christian infidel or the “apostate” military—as the enemy.

Due to Egypt’s significant Christian population which numbers at least ten million (if not much more), the adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” takes on more complete meaning in that nation: the Copts and their church did play a supportive role in the June revolution that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood, even as Pope Tawadros stood side-by-side with Gen. Sisi and Al Azhar’s Grand Sheikh, Ahmed al-Tayab—only to suffer at the hands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, including al-Qaeda, everywhere.

Such is the simple wisdom and instinct for survival of the Arab autocrats of the Middle East—a wisdom that concludes that, “he who targets Christians because they are ‘infidels,’ is he who targets me.”

Meanwhile, far from exhibiting such simple common sense, Western governments in general, the U.S. government in particular, continue to aid and abet those who, by targeting and killing Christians simply because they are “infidels,” are continually exposing their ingrained hostility for the West and everything it once stood for.

 

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‘Army of Muhammad’ Calls for Mega Jihad to Create Caliphate

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

The Army of Muhammad (Tanzim Jaysh Muhammad), one of the Sunni jihadi organizations operating in Syria and which is named after the prophet of Islam, has just called for the creation of an Islamic, jihadi army of at least 800,000 fighters, composed of all Muslim nationalities, from Europe, Africa, and Asia.  Its stated purpose would be to depose the military regimes of the Middle East and herald the way to resurrecting the Islamic caliphate, or the creation of one unified Islamic state in the Middle East.

According to Arabic media, the Army of Muhammad declared in a recent statement that “It is incumbent on all Islamic jihadi organizations around the world to work under one banner to depose the military regimes, which were created by the Sykes-Picot Agreement to divide the Islamic world, and at the head of these military regimes are the armies of Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and Algeria.”

The statement complains that all these armies have tried to halt the spread of “the Arab Spring, and for their own benefit.”

Later in the statement, the Army of Muhammad’s goals become even more ambitious, as it elaborates, saying that “It is time for the followers of the [Islamic/jihadi] Black Flag—the mujahidin—to announce the armed jihad against the regimes and arm the Arab peoples in order to overthrow the regimes in Egypt, North Africa, Syria, the Gulf monarchies, and Iran.”

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Tony Blair Condemns Muslim Brotherhood, Supports Egypt

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

In an age when Western mainstream media and governments — especially the United States — are busy serving alternate realities, it’s refreshing to see one well-known Western leader speaking the truth.

Despite the widespread narrative that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and former president Morsi are victims of a military coup, the UK’s former prime minister, Tony Blair, recently called it as it is — as Egyptians know it to be. According to the Guardian, “Britain’s former prime minister said Mohamed Morsi‘s Muslim Brotherhood had stolen Egypt’s revolution, and the army who deposed him last July had put the country back on the path to democracy.”

“This is what I say to my colleagues in the west,” said Blair, after visiting Egypt. “The fact is, the Muslim Brotherhood tried to take the country away from its basic values of hope and progress. The army have intervened, at the will of the people, but in order to take the country to the next stage of its development, which should be democratic. We should be supporting the new government in doing that.”

During his televised interview, he further added: “Right here in Egypt I think it is fundamental that the new government succeeds, that we give it support in bringing in this new era for the people of Egypt. And, you know, we can debate the past and it’s probably not very fruitful to do so, but right now I think it’s important the whole of the international community gets behind the leadership here and helps.”

Compare and contrast this with U.S.  Sens. John McCain’s and Lindsay Graham’s visit to Egypt, when they condemned the people’s revolution and called for the immediate release of Brotherhood leadership, who are currently being tried for terrorist related activities.

Blair’s position is in keeping with a realist perspective concerning the region.  Back in 2011, during the first revolution in Egypt, he predicted that if Mubarak goes, the Brotherhood would come to power: “They [Brotherhood] are extremely well organised and well funded whereas those people who are out on the street at the moment, many of them will be extremely well intentioned people but they’re not organised in political parties yet.”

Many observers made the same warning, but in spite of it — or perhaps because of it — the U.S. administration pushed and hurried Egypt for immediate elections, which played out exactly as predicted, with a Brotherhood take over.

 

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The Pentagon’s Bow to Islamic Extremism

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

“Caving to pressure from Muslim groups, the Pentagon has relaxed uniform rules to allow Islamic beards, turbans and hijabs. It’s a major win for political correctness and a big loss for military unit cohesion,” said a recent report.

This new relaxation of rules for Muslims comes at a time when the FBI is tracking more than 100 suspected jihadi-infiltrators of the U.S. military.  Just last month, Craig Benedict Baxam, a former Army soldier and convert to Islam, was sentenced to seven years in prison due to his al-Qaeda/jihadi activities.   Also last month, Mozaffar Khazaee, an Iranian-American working for the Defense Department, was arrested for sending secret documents to America’s enemy, Iran.

According to a Pentagon spokesperson, the new religious accommodations—to allow Islamic beards, turbans, and hijabs—which took effect very recently, would “reduce both the instances and perception of discrimination among those whose religious expressions are less familiar to the command.”

The report concludes that, “Making special accommodations for Islam will only attract more Muslims into the military at a time when two recent terror cases highlight the ongoing danger of Muslims in uniform.”

But it’s worse than that; for not only will it attract “more Muslims,” it will attract precisely the wrongkinds of Muslims, AKA, “Islamists,” “radicals,” etc.

This is easily demonstrated by connecting the dots and understanding that Muslims who adhere to visible, non-problematic aspects of Islam—growing beards and donning hijabs—often indicate their adherence to non-visible, problematic aspects of Islam.

Consider it this way: Why do some Muslim men wear the prescribed beard and why do some Muslim women wear the prescribed hijab? Most Muslims would say they do so because Islam’s prophet Muhammad commanded them to (whether via the Koran or Hadith).

Regarding the Muslim beard, Muhammad wanted his followers to look different from “infidels,” namely Christians and Jews, so he ordered his followers to “trim closely the moustache and grow the beard.” Accordingly, all Sunni schools of law maintain that it is forbidden—a “major sin”—for men to shave their beards (unless, of course, it is part of a stratagem against the infidel, in which case it is permissible).

The question begs itself: If such Muslims meticulously follow the minor, “outer” things of Islam simply because their prophet made some utterances concerning them in the Hadith, logically speaking, does that not indicate that they also follow, or at the very least accept as legitimate, the major, “inner” themes Muhammad constantly emphasized in both the Koran and Hadith—such as enmity for and deceit of the infidel, and, when capable, perpetual jihad?… Keep reading

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U.S. ‘Chose to Stay Silent’ on Muslim Persecution of Christians: November 2013

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

The endemic rise of Christian persecution in the Middle East was noted in November when Pope Francis declared “We will not resign ourselves to imagining a Middle East without Christians” and stressed the importance of “the universal right to lead a dignified life and freely practice one’s own faith” after he met with patriarchs from Syria, Iran, and Iraq, all countries where Christian minorities are under attack.

On the other hand, powers best placed to do something about the plight of Mideast Christians—namely, the U.S. Obama administration—made it clear that they would do nothing, even when well leveraged to do so.

In November, the wife of American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been imprisoned in Iran for over a year for practicing Christianity, said she and her family were devastated after learning that the Obama administration did not try to secure the release of her husband as part of the newly signed deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

“The talks over Iran’s nuclear program were seen by his [Abedini’s] family and those representing them as one of the most promising avenues yet for securing his release,” said Fox News. “But the White House confirmed over the weekend that Abedini’s status was not on the table during those talks.”

“I don’t think we have any more leverage,” said Abedini’s wife. “We now have to consider other avenues and having other countries speak out because our country when we could have used our leverage chose to stay silent.”

The rest of November’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians around the world includes (but is not limited to) the following accounts, listed by theme and country in alphabetical order, not necessarily according to severity: 

Islamic Attacks on Christian Places of Worship 

Lebanon: An unidentified attacker firebombed the reception area of the newly built Christian cathedral of the town’s patron Saint, Mar Zakhya.  Despite the loud boom heard in the town’s main square, there was limited damage; some building material used for the building process of the cathedral was destroyed.  Although Lebanon was Christian-majority in the mid-20th century, today it is roughly 60% Muslim, 40% Christian…. Click for full report

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Nuclear Negotiating Partner Iran Ready for ‘Decisive Battle’ Against U.S.

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

America’s negotiating partner in a critical nuclear disarmament deal has declared that it’s ready to stomp the U.S. and Israel.

“We are ready for the decisive battle against the US and the Zionist regime,” Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces General Hassan Firouzabadi told Fars News Agency.

More from the semi-official Iranian news agency:

Stressing that Iran has prepared itself for such a final battle against the US and Israel since many years ago and through staging different wargames, he said, “If any war is launched against Iran, we won’t give any ground to the enemy and they themselves know this very well.”

Firouzabadi said that the enemies have been studying military invasion of Iran throughout the last ten years, “they even moved their troops to the region, but eventually came to the conclusion that they lack the ability (to wage war on Iran) and left the region”.

“And these words that they utter (about war with Iran) now are just political bluffing,” he added.

“Yet, we warn that if an attack is launched on our troops from any territory, we will invade all the possessions of the enemy,” he reiterated. “We do not feel any hostility for any of the regional state, but if we are targeted from the US bases in the region, we will hit those bases.”

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in remarks over the weekend that “the Iranian nation should pay attention to the recent negotiations and the rude remarks of the Americans so that everyone gets to know the enemy well.”

“The Americans speak in their private meetings with our officials in one way, and they speak differently outside these meetings; this is hypocrisy and the bad and evil will of the enemy and the nation should observe all these cases precisely,” Khamenei said.

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Carney on Report of Iran Moving Warships Toward U.S.: Is That Just a Fox Thing?

Monday, February 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The White House brushed off Iran’s claim that it’s moving warships toward America’s maritime borders.

“The Iranian Army’s naval fleets have already started their voyage towards the Atlantic Ocean via the waters near South Africa,” Commander of Iran’s Northern Navy Fleet Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad announced on Saturday, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

“Iran’s military fleet is approaching the United States’ maritime borders, and this move has a message,” Haddad added.

The news agency added that Iran’s has been vowing to send “a flotilla into the Atlantic” since 2011, but this claim takes on an added dimension with the concessions just granted to Tehran by the U.S. in nuclear talks.

The Fars report said the recent moves are a tit-for-tat, getting back at Washington for its beefed-up presence in the Persian Gulf.

“There was an Iranian announcement that they are moving ships close to the United States, and we have no evidence that Iran is, in fact, sending ships close to the U.S. border,” press secretary Jay Carney told reporters today.

On the reports that Iran has also been successfully conducting missile tests, Carney said “we have been clear that even as we work with the P5+1 to test the hypothesis that Iran is ready to meet its obligations to the international community with regards to its nuclear program, that we are at odds with Iran on a number of issues.”

When pressed again on whether he was disputing the warships report, Carney quipped, “Is Fox reporting that they’re moving warships closer to the U.S.?”

He was reminded that Iran made the claim, and it was reported by several wire services.

“Again, I don’t have a specific answer to that report. I’m sure we can get it to you, and I’m sure State has it. What I can tell you is that we continue to have major disagreements with Iran, and we press very hard, whether it’s their support for international terrorism, for Hezbollah, or whether it’s enforcement of existing sanctions,” Carney said. “We are not letting up on Iran, on a wide variety of issues where we are profoundly in disagreement with them and have rallied an international consensus around that fact.”

The State Department did not comment on the report at today’s press briefing.

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Suicide Bomb Instructor Makes Serious Teaching Error

Monday, February 10th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

So sad (not really).

BAGHDAD — A group of Sunni militants attending a suicide bombing training class at a camp north of Baghdad were killed on Monday when their commander unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives, army and police officials said.

The militants belonged to a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is fighting the Shiite-dominated army of the Iraqi government, mostly in Anbar Province. But they are also linked to bomb attacks elsewhere and other fighting that has thrown Iraq deeper into sectarian violence.

Twenty-two ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the explosion at the camp, which is in a farming area in the northeastern province of Samara, according to the police and army officials. Stores of other explosive devices and heavy weapons were also kept there, the officials said.

Eight militants were arrested when they tried to escape, the officials said.

A bad day at the suicide bombing instruction academy is a bad day indeed.

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The US and Iran Just Had a Dust-Up in Tunisia

Friday, February 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Tunisia celebrated its new constitution today in a ceremony. Tunisia has managed to avoid a lot of violence that has plagued fellow “Arab Spring” countries Libya and Egypt.

France and the US sent delegations to honor the moment. So did Iran. Iran’s delegate did what Iran’s representatives tend to do when Americans are around. He went into the usual Great Satan/Little Satan routine.

US diplomats walked out when Iran’s parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani accused the United States and Israel of seeking to prevent the Arab Spring revolutions from succeeding.

“The hands of Israel and the United States have tried to render these revolutions sterile, and to make them deviate from their course so that Israel can benefit,” he said in a speech to the assembly.

The US delegates walked out, and the US embassy released this statement.

What was intended to be a ceremony honoring Tunisia’s achievements was used by the Iranian representative as a platform to denounce the United States.   The U.S. representatives present at the NCA / Constitution Ceremony departed the ceremony due to the false accusations and inappropriate comments made by the Iranian representative present regarding the United States.

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Israelis Mock ‘John Kerry Solutions Inc.’ in Parody Video

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

From the Yesha Council in the West Bank comes an awesomely funny and all-too-true rebuke of Obama administration policy in the form of the “John Kerry Solutions Inc. Israel Tour”:

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Kerry Calls Broken Chemical Weapons Agreement ‘In and of Itself, a Significant Milestone’

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry told CNN that the Obama administration’s policy on Syria hasn’t failed, but “is just very challenging and very difficult.”

He hailed the chemical weapons agreement, the requirements of which Bashar al-Assad has barely met, “is, in and of itself, a significant milestone.”

“And it is progressing. Yes, it’s been slowed down a little bit in the last month, but we have been raising that profile of questions about it and I think it’s now speeding up again,” Kerry continued. “…Before we got that agreement, Assad was using those weapons against his people. Now he’s not and he can’t. So we have eliminated a critical grotesque tool that this man was willing to use ruthlessly against his own people. And we’re moving it out.”

Assad has been dropping barrel bombs — an oil drum packed with explosives, oil and shrapnel — on civilians instead.

Kerry conceded that the deal with the international community to dispose of his chemical weapons stockpile meant that “Assad has improved his position a little bit,” but “he’s still not winning.”

“I don’t want to make any excuse whatsoever. We want this to move faster. We want it to do better,” he said. “But I remember talks around Vietnam, where it took Henry Kissinger a year to get the size and shape of the table decided. It took another several years before they even came to some kind of an agreement.”

“I don’t want it to be years. We don’t have years in Syria. But the point I’m making is that diplomacy is tough, slogging, slow work and hard work. But we’re beginning to see the — the shaping of how you might potentially get somewhere. And we are always in the process of reevaluating whether there’s more we can do, should do. We’ll work with Congress. We’re working internally to figure out if we should — if there’s a way to get more response from the Russians, more response from Assad.”

Syria missed another deadline in the chemical weapons deal today. Less than 5 percent of its arsenal has been turned over for disposal.

According to the United Nations’ timeline, by this day on the calendar more than 90 percent of the stockpile should have been relinquished.

“This is just the latest evidence that the agreement brokered by the United States and Russia has only strengthened Assad. Rather than feeling pressure to leave, with ongoing Russian and Iranian support, Assad has dug in. At talks in Switzerland last month, Assad’s representatives would not even agree to allow humanitarian access to besieged cities such as Homs. Now we see evidence that Assad is up to his old brutal tactics, dropping barrel bombs and indiscriminately killing civilians, including many children,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said today.

“…We are going to be living with the consequences of the Obama Administration’s failed Syria policy for decades to come. It is time for the administration to increase pressure on Assad instead of giving him more room to maneuver.”

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Al-Qaeda: Defender of Christians?

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

Muslim persecution of Christians is the “Achilles Heel” of the global Islamic movement’s image—the surest way of exposing its supremacist and intolerant elements and one of the main reasons the major media and establishment rarely report or address it.

The logic (fully explained here) can be summarized as follows:

Coptic monk shows charred remains of one of dozens churches burned in part thanks to Zawahiri’s incitements against Christians following June revolution that ousted former president Morsi

Islamic and jihadi attacks targeting the West or Israel pose no problem to the image of Islam.  No matter how violent or brutal, no matter how many Islamic slogans are shrieked—“Allah commands the subjugation of infidels!”—Muslim violence against the West and Israel will always be dismissed as desperate acts of disempowered, oppressed, and frustrated Muslims—the “underdogs,” which the West tends to romanticize.

And so they will always get a free pass, without further reflection.

But if jihadis get a free pass when their violence is directed against those stronger than them, how does one rationalize away their violence when it is directed against those weaker than them—in this case, the millions of Christians being persecuted today by Muslims across 41 nations?

This is the dilemma that none other than Ayman al-Zawahiri, chief of al-Qaeda, understands.

A few days ago, the Associated Press reported that:

It was a rare call by Ayman al-Zawahri in defense of Christians, who largely supported the popularly backed coup against Mohammed Morsi and were subsequently targeted by a wave of violence.

In an audio message posted on militant websites, al-Zawahri said it was not in the interest of Muslims to be engaged with the Christians because “we have to be busy confronting the Americanized coup of (Gen. Abdel-Fattah) el-Sissi and establish an Islamic government instead.”

El-Sissi is Egypt’s defense minister who overthrew Morsi after millions of Egyptians protested to demand he step down. The head of the Coptic church supported the coup along with other groups.

“We must not seek war with the Christians and thus give the West an excuse to blame Muslims, as has happened before,” al-Zawahiri said.

Although Maamoun Youssef, the AP reporter who wrote this story, portrays it as “a rare call by Ayman al-Zawahri in defense of Christians,” and although the report is titled “Al-Qaida leader opposes fighting Christians,” in fact, Zawahiri’s communique has nothing to do with “defending Christians” or “opposing” the overall jihad on them.

Indeed, Zawahiri himself played an important role in inciting mass violence against Coptic Christians following the anti-Islamist June 2013 Revolution—leading to the destruction of some 80 churches, some with al-Qaeda flags planted atop them.

Moreover, Zawahiri’s like-minded brother and Salafi front-man, Muhammad, allegedly called ousted president Morsi while he was still in office, insisting that the latter take measures to force Christians to pay jizya and live in abject humiliation, according to Koran 9:29.

Instead, Zawahiri’s rationale for this communique “in defense of Christians” is that, in his own words, “We must not seek war with the Christians and thus give the West an excuse to blame Muslims.”… Keep reading

 

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State Dept. on Kerry and Israel: ‘There Is No Greater Advocate, or Opponent, I Should Say, to Boycotts’

Monday, February 3rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The State Department today defended Secretary of State John Kerry against criticism over his mention of boycott movements at the Munich Security Conference over the weekend.

Kerry was outlining what would happen if his Middle East peace process effort broke down. “You see, for Israel there’s an increasing delegitimization campaign that has been building up,” Kerry said. “People are very sensitive to it. There are talk of boycotts and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?”

Without mentioning Kerry by name at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the boycott efforts “cause the Palestinians to become entrenched behind their intransigent positions and push peace farther away, and secondly, no pressure will cause me to give up vital Israeli interests, first and foremost the security of Israel’s citizens.”

Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz called Kerry’s words “offensive, unreasonable and unacceptable,” adding, “It is impossible to expect Israel to negotiate with a gun to its head.”

In an open letter to Kerry today, Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman said “describing the potential for expanded boycotts of Israel makes it more, not less, likely that the talks will not succeed; makes it more, not less, likely that Israel will be blamed if the talks fail; and more, not less, likely that boycotts will ensue.”

“Your comments, irrespective of your intentions, will inevitably be seen by Palestinians and anti-Israel activists as an incentive not to reach an agreement; as an indicator that if things fall apart, Israel will be blamed; and as legitimizing boycott activity. What is particularly troubling about your comments is the absence of similar tough talk about the consequences for Palestinians should the talks fail,” Foxman continued. “…Its absence suggests a historical amnesia about why there has been no peace and no solution all these years.”

When asked about the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement at today’s State Department press briefing, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said “we are absolutely opposed, we have been opposed at boycotts boycotting Israel.”

“Secretary Kerry, himself, personally — who of course is the world’s chief — or the United States’ chief diplomat at this point — has a proud record of over three decades of steadfast support for Israel’s security and well being, including staunch opposition to boycotts,” Psaki continued.

“…There is no greater advocate, or opponent, I should say, to boycotts, or proponent of Israel’s security and their future.”

She maintained that Kerry’s “only reference to a boycott in his remarks was a description of action undertaken by others that he has been a vocal opponent of, he has taken actions to oppose. So, there should be no confusion or question about his record or his view on this interest.”

“What’s important is that the people of Israel understand and know that you cannot find a greater opponent of boycotts from Secretary Kerry and his record speaks to that,” Psaki said. “And all we can do here is continue to convey what is accurate and what the facts are and so, yes, he does expect that the parties and whether they’re for or against his efforts or any efforts at all, will not distort his facts or his record. And that’s why we’re speaking forcefully on this issue.”

Psaki claimed that the Mideast talks are “at a point in the process where we are discussing a framework for negotiations moving forward.”

“The parties who are negotiating over this are committed to sitting down at the table, addressing the tough choices,” she said. “We can’t make a prediction of what the outcome will be, but it is not a surprise that at this challenging time in the process, given that we are talking about the core issues, that things have become more challenging politically.”

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Saudi King Issues Decree to Jail Jihadis for Up to 20 Years

Monday, February 3rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia issued an anti-jihad decree today by setting prison sentences of three to 20 years for anyone who goes abroad to fight in other countries’ conflicts or with a terrorist group.

The decree outlaws “taking part in combat outside the kingdom, in any form” and includes those who belong to “extremist religious and ideological groups, or those classified as terrorist organizations, domestically, regionally and internationally.”

The king’s directive also outlaws supporting those groups “through speech or writing” and promoting their ideology.

The decree came about as an effort to deter a recent wave of jihadi exports, including to Syria.

Human Rights Watch said the new law is “draconian in spirit and letter, and there is every reason to fear that the authorities will easily and eagerly use it against peaceful dissidents.”

The terrorism law outlaws any act “destabilises the society’s security or the state’s stability or exposes its national unity to harm,” including “disabling the ruling system” or “offending the nation’s reputation.”

The White House announced today that President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia in March to meet with the king.

“The president looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security,” the administration said. “The president will travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following his travel to the Netherlands, Belgium, and Italy.”

Obama is likely to try to put pressure on the Saudis over their willingness to team up with Israel to ensure, by force if necessary, that Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.

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