UNRWA's Ghastly Proposal for Extra Funding The outgoing chief of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, Peter Hansen, who ranks among the worst administrators the U.N. has ever known (and that is saying something), today put forward a proposal to provide US$1.1 billion in extra funding for UNRWA. As I argued in "[UNRWA:] The Refugee Curse," the last thing Palestinians need is more dole from the outside. The first thing they need to do is liberate themselves from the accursed and anomalous refugees status, then take responsibility for their own lives. If Hansen has his way, Palestinians will be mired ever longer and more deeply in victimhood, dependence, radicalism, and violence. (February 24, 2005 Permalink)
Deport Saudi Diplomats on Religious Freedom Grounds? With the passage of the "Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004," it is now possible (according to section 5502, on p. 108) to deport "foreign government officials who have committed particularly severe violations of religious freedom." This is then spelled out to mean "Any alien who, while serving as a foreign government official, was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom, as defined in section 3 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998."
That section specifies "particularly severe violations of religious freedom" to mean
egregious violations of religious freedom, including violations such as—
(A) torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment;
(B) prolonged detention without charges;
(C) causing the disappearance of persons by the abduction or clandestine detention of those persons; or
(D) other flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty, or the security of persons.
William West, formerly of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, writes me that
Such violations are administrative (civil) statutes, not criminal statutes, and so are retroactive from the date of enactment of the law.
One can only speculate how
many foreign government officials from majority Muslim countries might fall
into this category, especially from places like
This is powerful new law, and
it will be very interesting to see how the
Further, such violations
would arguably also be human rights violations. That means that former foreign
government officials who came to the
(February 28, 2005) Permalink
Favoring Islamists over Gays "Discrimination
bill snubs gays to save Muslim vote" runs the headline in the Sunday
Gay rights campaigners have been snubbed by the government for fear of upsetting Muslim voters who are regarded as more important to Labour's election campaign.
This week a new bill giving
Muslims protection against religious discrimination will be published, but
there will be no equivalent right for gays, as had been planned by ministers.
Under the bill, it will become illegal for the provider of any goods or services — such as a hotel, shop, pub or restaurant — to refuse to serve someone on the grounds of their religion. It is already illegal to do so on the basis of race or gender. …
Muslim voters at the risk of upsetting gays, Labour
is following in the footsteps of Ken Livingstone, the mayor of
This decision, the article concludes, was taken by the prime minister's office.
Comment: This dramatic shift could signal a long term reversal in homosexual rights, making the last thirty years look anomalous in retrospect. (February 27, 2005) Permalink
Are the Saudis Diddling the Americans? The Ahmed Omar Abu Ali case has many intricacies, but what stops me short is reading this sentence by Michael Isikoff in Newsweek:
Abu Ali's Virginia-based parents—his father works as a computer analyst for the Saudi Embassy—say their son was tortured [while kept in a Saudi jail] into confessing to lies, and sued the federal government last year [to have him brought back to the United States].
Not only that, but the
parents are utterly
venomous on the subject of Saudi Arabia: His father, Omar, said,
"The Saudi government are slaves of the Americans."His mother, Faten,
stated outside a federal courtroom that her son "was tortured on orders of
Excuse me, but what is going
on? Since when does an employee of the Saudi embassy publicly abominate the
monarchy and turn to the
I Am a "Crusader"? That's
what leftoid propagandist Jim Lobe claims in the
title of an article, "‘Anti-Islamist' Crusader Plants New Seeds," put
out by the Rome-based Inter Press News Agency; yours truly is the crusader in
question. This follows on a piece by Lobe, issued April 7, 2004, and titled
"From Nation-Building to Religion-Building." In both, Lobe
breathlessly informs his readership about grant proposals he purloined from the
Middle East Forum. In the 2004 piece, he announces that the Forum seeks funds
to build a new organization to represent moderate Muslims in the
My commitment to both such projects should come as no surprise, for I have repeatedly argued that "radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution." For me to support moderate Muslims to self-organize would not seem to be big news; nor, given my years of "hand-to-hand combat" with Islamist groups, should it be a shock that I wish to turn this into an organized effort.
Lobe, however, presents my efforts as sinister, and that clearly appeals to his conspiracy-minded leftist and Islamist readership. His earlier article was reprinted on many of their websites, translated into foreign languages, and reported on with predictable indignation in Arab newspapers. No doubt, the new one will enjoy a similar succès de scandale. (February 24, 2005) Permalink
Jean-Marie Le Pen, Again Convicted of Racism Am I the only one to find something anomalous in the fact that the political figure who came in second in the race for the presidency of France in 2002 had a €10,000 fine upheld today by an appeals court for expressing his views on what is his central issue? He was fined on grounds of inciting racial hatred for having told Le Monde on April 19, 2003, that
The day that we have in France not just 5 million but 25 million Muslims, it will be them in charge. … The French will pull down their walls, go to the sidewalks, and lower their eyes. If they don't, they'll be told, "Why are you looking at me like that, buddy, you searching for a fight?"
Le jour où nous aurons en France, non plus 5 millions mais 25 millions de musulmans, ce sont eux qui commanderont. … Et les Français raseront les murs, descendront des trottoirs en baissant les yeux. Quand ils ne le font pas, on leur dit "qu'est-ce que tu as à me regarder comme ça, tu cherches la bagarre?"
Comment: One does not have to be a Le Pen fan to acknowledge that his views, however crudely expressed, represent an important viewpoint in the national debate over immigration and Islam. Le Pen should be able to state them without fear of getting in trouble with the law. That he cannot points to some of the profound contradictions in French society. (February 24, 2005) Permalink
Omar Abu Ali, right, speaks about the charges against his son, Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, 23, as his wife, Faten Abu Ali, looks on.
How the Mainstream Media Headlines the Abu
Ali Indictment The American government yesterday indicted
Ahmed Omar Abu Ali, a raging Islamist, with plotting to kill the president of
Given all this, how might mainstream media headline the story of Abu Ali's indictment? Here are three examples:
Chicago Tribune: "U.S.
citizen charged with plot to kill Bush"
The Guardian: "American accused of plotting with al-Qaida to assassinate Bush"
The New York Times: "American Accused in a Plot to Assassinate Bush."
And then there is this gem:
Feature pieces on Abu Ali are no less striking. Here is my favorite headline
Comment: Yet again, over-sensitivity to Muslim sentiments obstructs the plain telling of facts – as though Abu Ali's citizenship or class rank were the key factor in motivating him. A useful headline would read something like "Islamist Charged in Plot to Assassinate Bush." (February 23, 2005)
Feb. 25, 2005 update: UPI's legal affairs correspondent, Michael Kirkland, dismisses what he calls Abu Ali's "alleged ‘plot'" as but "a sweaty fantasy under the Saudi Arabian sun."
Feb. 27, 2005 update: "Case
Adds to Outrage for Muslims in Northern Virginia" reads a New
York Times headline today. Not a word yet from the Times, however,
about the outrage of Americans about a Saudi-government school in
My Optimism about Ending the Syrian
1986: In "Damascus and the Claim to Lebanon," Orbis, 30 (1986-87): 663-81 (not online), I felt despair but kept the door open: "Short of very major change in Damascus – such as a civil war breaking out after Hafiz al-Asad's death – there appears to be nothing to stop the Syrian government from fulfilling its long-term goal of hegemony in Lebanon."
2000: At a panel, "Syria-Lebanon-Israel Triangle: The End of The Status Quo?" hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on May 19, 2000 – just 4 days before the unexpected Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and 22 days before the death of Syrian dictator Hafiz al-Asad – I had the following exchange with the institute's director, Robert Satloff:
SATLOFF: When do Syrian
PIPES: I would say in five years. I'm an optimist.
SATLOFF: Mark that down, 2005. (Laughter.)
PIPES: I don't think the president of
2000: With Ziad Abdelnour, I coedited the Middle
East Forum's study group report, Ending
Syria's Occupation of Lebanon: The U.S. Role,
which appeared in May 2000. The report, signed by such future Bush
administration figures as Elliott Abrams, Paula Dobriansky,
Douglas Feith, Michael Rubin, and David Wurmser (as well as Eliot Engel and Richard Perle), flatly declares that "All foreign forces must
leave Lebanon." In the policy recommendations for the
2000: In September 2000, I published "‘We
Don't Need Syria' in Lebanon," which holds that "one can
anticipate the day when
2005: Encouraged by developments following the
assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, I
wrote today in "Lebanon's
Liberation Approaches" that "For the first time in three
So, Lebanese, to be on schedule, you have just three months to oust the Syrian occupiers! (February 22, 2005) Permalink
If I Had Enough Time … Research Suggestions Given Away Here are some leads I wish there were time for me to work on; as there is not, I offer them for others to take up:
Terrorism in blue vs. red
Letters of marque, updated: For many centuries, governments lacking the means to hunt down pirates provided "letters of marque" to private ship owners, commissioning them to take down the pirates and take a portion of the profits. (Click here for some examples.) The concept is known as privateering; it was written in the U.S. Constitution ("The Congress shall have Power … To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal"), where it remains in force to the present. Should this idea be revived in the age of Al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorists?
Islamist organizations and
individuals in the West:
A profusion of radical Islamic institutions have grown up in North American and
Analyze Islamic holy books vis-à-vis Zionism: The Qur'an contains many proto-Zionist sentiments (see, for example, this collection) but what do they amount to? An in-depth analysis of the Qur'an, the Hadith, and other authoritative writings is much needed.
A full-length study of
UNRWA: It's a truism that
Paintball and jihad: "The connection between paintball and jihad is one an enterprising researcher might look into," I noted in a comment at "Islamist Paintball, Anyone?" I sketch some of the connections there between this unlikely duo, but the topic deserves in-depth scrutiny.
Lee Malvo's jail-time sketch of Osama bin Laden
Malvo's mentality: Law enforcement and the mainstream media did its best in October 2002 to avoid ascribing the Beltway Snipers' motives to a jihad, something I have argued with in an article, "The Snipers: Crazy or Jihadis?" and a blog, "The Beltway Snipers' Motives." More evidence has surfaced since that should be closely analyzed. For example, Lee Malvo's defense (yes, defense) team introduced more than 80 drawings, an essay, and other writings that their client produced during his time in jail during his first year of captivity. (I reproduce one of them, of Osama bin Laden, "Servant of Allah," here.) The pictures, a good number of which deal with Islamic topics, can be seen at the court's website. As described by the Associated Press, here are some details:
· A detailed depiction of the White House in crosshairs. "You will weep and moan & MORN. You will bleed to death. little by little. Your life belongs to Allah. HE will deliver you to us," reads an inscription above the White House drawing. To one side of the crosshairs, it says, "Sept. 11 we will ensure will look like a picnic to you. "
· Drawings and notes calling for jihad.
· Drawings of Louis Farrakhan, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Muammar Qaddafi. Permalink
Which Middle East
Specialists Get Assigned in
HAR Gibb 22
S D Goitein 12
Gustave von Grunebaum 1
Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall 10
Philip Hitti 5
Henri Lammens 3
Edward Lane 11
Louis Massignon 4
Juan Cole 129
John Esposito 114
Cornell Fleischer 6
Nikki Keddie 30
Rashid Khalidi 52
Edward Said 868 (many of which are not Middle East studies classes)
Michael Sells 62
Fouad Ajami 102
Bat Ye'or 25
Ibn Warraq 34
Elie Kedourie 34
Stanley Kurtz 41
Martin Kramer 52
Bernard Lewis 356
Daniel Pipes 120
Comments: (1) The old masters do indeed go largely unread. (2) The dissidents get a surprisingly good representation, even if in some cases they are supposed to be read negatively, perhaps because they are so few in number. (3) Being part of the establishment is not guarantee of being read (it is a big establishment, after all), but it offers the route to scoring highest of all. (4) What is assigned is partially a function of what publishers make available, but in the age of photostats and the internet, this is less the case than it used to be. That said, authors ubiquitous on the internet are likely to have a greater class readership than those less well represented. (February 22, 2005) Permalink
The Bureau of Prisons
Explains Islam Many branches
of government need to understand Islam, but probably none deal with Muslims and
their religious practices in so practical and detailed a way as do the wardens
of prisons. It is therefore particularly dismaying to see that the highest
prison authority in the
My evidence for this comes
from the Annual Refresher Training (ART) that all BOP staff must participate
in. The 2005 course includes a lesson plan, "Islam in the Correctional
Environment," designed by the Training and Staff Development Branch at BOP's Central Office in
· There is only one non-BOP reference in the lesson plan, that being to a pamphlet put out by the Council on American-Islamic Relations, "A Correctional Institution's Guide to Islamic Religious Practice" (p. 2). I presume this means that the BOP relies on that booklet.
The lesson plan's Introduction (p. 3) asserts: "Since
September 11, events have aroused significant media and public attention on our
neighbors who represent Islam in
Comment: Not only has some of the highest ranking staff in the BOP Central Office acquiesced to CAIR, but it proffers a la-la-land description of jihad that is unhistorical, inaccurate, and (given the prison environment) downright dangerous. (February 10, 2005) Permalink
What You Can Do To Help Win the War on Terror What can citizens do to help forward the war on terror? My thoughts follow, starting with some old standbys and going on to something more unusual.
(1) Join and donate to organizations. Most individuals are not in a position on their own to make a difference but can do much more by joining organizations that subscribe to their views and giving generously to them. There are potentially many such organizations (including my own Middle East Forum) but, perhaps surprisingly, no single one exclusively and effectively devoted to strengthening governments in the war has yet emerged.
(2) Get active in the political process. Give of your time and money to candidates and, of course, vote.
(3) Write letters to the editor or get active in internet polemics.
(4) Engage in research. This is the new element. There are some remarkable stories of private individuals becoming learned in the ways of radical Islam and their activities have led to all sorts of important results, including the arrest of an apparent terrorist, discrediting an expert witness, canceling an official reception, shutting down a conference, and closing an Internet site. I advise researchers to focus on their geographic area – a city, a region, a university, or (in the case of small ones) a country. There is an unending need to look critically at Muslim institutions and individuals, so as to distinguish the extremists from the moderates, the enemies from the allies.
Or to put it more starkly, Rita Katz of the SITE Institute says in the current issue of Newsweek, "Almost every [Islamist] Web site has a section on how to do jihad over the Internet" and these advise would-be holy warriors: "If you can't do jihad physically, do it on the Internet." The same applies to counterterrorists. (Feb. 9, 2005) Permalink
More Incidents of "Denying Terrorism" I published a column by this title today, documenting thirteen cases of presumptive Islamist terrorism, when the first response of the police, prosecutors, and politicians is to look the other way, insisting that there is no link.
But my column lacked space to include all the prior cases, and no doubt future ones will come along, so here is an ongoing factual appendix:
The 1991 murder of Makin Morcos, a Coptic doctor living in
The 1993 murder of the Reverend Doug Good, a pastor in
The 2000 Molotov cocktail attack on the synagogue in
· The 2001 explosion at the AZF fertilizer factory outside Toulouse, France, the worst-ever catastrophe in a French chemical plant, included among the dead a known Islamist working in the plant wearing the multiple layers of clothing the coroner compared that of suicide jihadis; still, the authorities professed to find "no shred of evidence" of the explosion being a terrorist act.
The 2003 murder
of two American soldiers by Hasan Akbar
at an army base in
· The 2003 murder of Sebastian Sellam, 23, a disc jockey at a Parisian night club, killed in an underground parking lot by a Muslim neighbor who slit his throat twice and mutilated his face with a fork, even gouging out his eyes. The assailant announced to Sellam's horrified mother, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven." He has been hospitalized for mental illness and apparently will never stand trial.
· The 2003 murder of Chantal Piekolek, 53, as she was working in her Parisian shoe store when Mohamed Ghrib, 37, entered the store and stabbed her 27 times in the neck and chest. There was no evidence of sexual assault.
Additionally, some airplane incidents might have been whitewashed. The year 2001 saw the shooting down over Ukraine of a Sibir airliner from Israel to Russia, killing 77, ascribed to the accidental launching of a Ukrainian military missile; and the crash of American Airlines 587 in New York, killing 265, where the NTSB found "no evidence [of] … any criminality" despite the possible presence of an Al-Qaeda operative.
Readers are invited to send other examples of denying Islamist terrorism to me at the address below. (February 8, 2005) Permalink
Khaled Abou El Fadl Reveals His Islamist Outlook I have devoted
considerable attention to the deceptions of Khaled
Abou El Fadl, professor of
Islamic law at the
This desire to continue the distribution of Saudi publications hardly comes as a surprise to me, given Abou El Fadl's record of apologizing for Wahhabism and even lending his skills to it, as documented in my 2004 article. How long will it be until his Islamist outlook is generally recognized? (February 4, 2005) Permalink
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