Obama: Israel, US stalwart allies

American president tells potential Jewish donors to presidential campaign Jerusalem-DC relations transcend ‘tactical disagreements’

Yitzhak Benhorin

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama spoke Monday at a fundraiser for potential Jewish donors to his 2012 presidential campaign and assured then that Jerusalem and Washington’s relations were unshakable.

“One inviolable principle will be that the United States and Israel will always be stalwart allies and friends, that that bond isn’t breakable and that Israel’s security will always be at the top tier of considerations in terms of how America manages its foreign policy – because it’s the right thing to do, because Israel is our closest ally and friend, it is a robust democracy, it shares our values and it shares our principles,” Obama said to roaring applause.

referring to regional changes sweeping the Middle East, Obama stressed that, “Both the United States and Israel are going to have to look at this new landscape with fresh eyes. It’s not going to be sufficient for us just to keep on doing the same things we’ve been doing and expect somehow that things are going to work themselves out.

“We’re going to have to be creative and we’re going to have to be engaged. We’re going to have to look for opportunities where the best impulses in the Middle East come to the fore and the worst impulses are weakened”

  • Obama at AIPAC (Photo: AP)
  • Such achievements, he continued, would have to be carved from a position of strength: “This is why my administration has done more to promote Israel’s security, its qualitative military edge, its defense capabilities than any administration over the last 25 years.And we have made that commitment consistently.  “But it also means that we’ve got to engage diplomatically… there are going to be moments over the course of the next six months or the next 12 months or the next 24 months in which there may be tactical disagreements in terms of how we approach these difficult problems. “But the broader vision, is one in which Israel is a secure Jewish state,” Obama stressed. “One where it is able to live in peace with its neighbors, where kids can get on the bus or go to bed at night and not have to worry about missiles landing on them, where commerce and interactions between peoples in the region is occurring in a normal fashion, where the hopes and dreams of the original travelers to Israel, the original settlers in Israel, that those hopes and dreams that date back a millennium, that those hopes are realized. That will remain our North Star. That will remain our goal.”Obama told the crowd that he was “absolutely confident” the goal could be achieved, reiterating that it was “going to require some hard work.”
    “It going to require that not only this administration employs all of its creative powers to try to bring about peace in the region, but it’s also going to require all of you as engaged citizens of the United States who are friends of Israel making sure that you are giving us suggestions, you are in an honest dialogue with us, that you’re helping to shape how both Americans and Israelis think about the opportunities and challenges.”

    “My hope,” he concluded, “Is that through the kind of conversations that we’re having here tonight, that we’re going to be able to, together, craft the kind of strategy that not only leads to a strong America, but also leads to a strong Israel.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4084958,00.html


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Fatah and Hamas Announce Outline of Deal


Rina Castelnuovo for The New York Times

Under a Palestinian flag, Palestinians of all factions called for unity at a rally in February in Ramallah in the West Bank.

By ETHAN BRONNER and ISABEL KERSHNER
Published: April 27, 2011

JERUSALEM — The two main Palestinian factions, Fatah andHamas, announced Wednesday that they were putting aside years of bitter rivalry to create an interim unity government and hold elections within a year, a surprise move that promised to reshape the diplomatic landscape of the Middle East.

Multimedia
Khaled Elfiqi/European Pressphoto Agency

Moussa Abu Marzouk, representing Hamas, left, and Azzam al-Ahmad of Fatah on Wednesday at a news conference in Cairo, where they announced a deal to create a unity government.

Readers’ Comments

“It is time for the Palestinian people to reject the corrupt and useless leaders who have used violence and strife to insure their positions. It is also time for Israel to reject the extreme factions of their government.”

Jack, Illinois

The deal, brokered in secret talks by the caretaker Egyptian government, was announced at a news conference in Cairo where the two negotiators referred to each side as brothers and declared a new chapter in the Palestinian struggle for independence, hobbled in recent years by the split between the Fatah-run West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza.

It was the first tangible sign that the upheaval across the Arab world, especially the Egyptian revolution, was having an impact on the Palestinians, who have been losing faith in American-sponsored peace negotiations with Israel and seem now to be turning more to fellow Arabs. But the years of bitterness will not be easily overcome, and both sides warned of potential obstacles ahead.

Israel, feeling increasingly surrounded by unfriendly forces, denounced the unity deal as dooming future peace talks since Hamas seeks its destruction. “The Palestinian Authority has to choose between peace with Israel and peace with Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahudeclared in a televised statement. The Obama administration warned that Hamas was a terrorist organization unfit for peacemaking.

The deal brings with it the risk of alienating the Western support that the Palestinian Authority has enjoyed. Azzam al-Ahmad, the Fatah negotiator, said that Salam Fayyad, the prime minister in the West Bank who is despised by Hamas, would not be part of the interim government. It is partly because of Mr. Fayyad, and the trust he inspires in Washington, that hundreds of millions of dollars are provided annually to the Palestinian Authority by Congress. Without that aid, the Palestinian Authority would face great difficulties.

The announcement was sure to fuel a debate on whether Mr. Netanyahu had done enough in his two years in power to forge a deal with the Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Mr. Fayyad, widely considered the most moderate leaders the Palestinians have ever had.

The deal also highlighted Egypt’s evolving foreign policy, its increasing regional influence and the challenges that posed for Israel. The new Egyptian government pursued Palestinian negotiations aggressively; has recognized the Muslim Brotherhood, which has deep ties to Hamas; and is reconsidering a natural gas deal with Israel.

Relations between Fatah, the mainstream secularist movement led by Mr. Abbas, and Hamas, the Islamic militant group, have deteriorated since Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006. They ruptured a year later when Hamas seized full control of Gaza, the coastal enclave, after a brief factional war, routing Fatah forces there and limiting the influence of Mr. Abbas and his Palestinian Authority to the West Bank.

A desire for unity has been one goal that ordinary Palestinians in both areas have consistently said they sought. Until now it has proved elusive and leaders of the two factions have spoken of each other in vicious terms and jailed each other’s activists.

But with the Palestinians seeking international recognition of statehood at the United Nations by September, Mr. Abbas has repeatedly said that unity must be restored for a credible case to be made. Other recent developments also played a role.

As Mr. Ahmad said after the news conference in Cairo: “The changes in the Arab region and the political upheaval contributed to reducing the pressure on the Palestinian factions, and by pressure I mean the negative kind of pressure.” He said that he was referring to “the changing rules of the game in the region.”

Mkhaimar Abusada, a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, said that the Palestinian Authority’s failure to reach an agreement with Israel and the anger following an American veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution against Israeli settlement construction in February encouraged Fatah to come to an agreement with Hamas. The Islamic group, he said, was motivated to get closer to Fatah by regional changes, especially the protests in Syria, where Hamas’s politburo is based. If PresidentBashar al-Assad of Syria were to fall, Hamas might no longer be able to use Syria as a base or enjoy the protection, money and arms the country has extended.

“We have ended a painful period in the history of the Palestinian people where Palestinian division had prevailed,” Moussa Abu Marzouk, a representative of Hamas who negotiated the deal, said at the Cairo news conference. “We gave the occupation a great opportunity to expand the settlements because of this division. Today we turn this page and open a new page.”

When he spoke at the news conference, Mr. Ahmad of Fatah recalled the chants of young Palestinian demonstrators mimicking the Tunisian and Egyptian chants: “The people want to bring down the regime.”

“To all the Palestinian youth who went out saying, ‘The people want to end the division’ and ‘The people want to end the occupation,’ we say what you demanded was achieved today,” he said, adding that the period of division had taught both sides “a hard lesson in confronting the occupation.”

He said that Israeli officials had warned Mr. Abbas not to collaborate with Hamas but that “he did not heed the warning, and he responded, ‘Yes, we want Hamas.’ ”

The Fatah-led Palestinian Authority has negotiated for a two-state solution with Israel, whereas Hamas says Israel has no right to exist and continues to fire rockets at Israeli towns.

The Palestinian negotiators offered few details of the proposed transitional unity government, saying that it would be composed of neutral professionals and that the leaders of each side would work out details. All the Palestinian factions are to meet next week to sign the agreement.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a Hamas leader, told Al Jazeera Television from Cairo the sides had agreed to changes in the interim leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization, a tribunal for elections and a date for the elections. The P.L.O. excludes Hamas, which has long sought entry.

Hamas and Fatah will together nominate members of the technocratic government and a 12-judge election tribunal. He also said that an agreement was reached to set up an oversight committee to regulate security.

In November, officials from the two movements met in Damascus but failed to reach an agreement because of differences on security. It seemed likely that Fatah security forces, which work closely with the Israeli Army, would continue to rule in the West Bank, and that Hamas security would continue in Gaza with a tacit agreement not to arrest each other’s activists.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks broke down soon after they started last September when an Israeli moratorium on construction in West Bank settlements expired. The international powers have been working to get the sides to resume negotiations, and Mr. Netanyahu has recently been considering making an offer to the Palestinian Authority to try to pre-empt a United Nations vote. He is due to address a joint session of Congress in a month.

But with this latest shift in Palestinian politics, Mr. Netanyahu may also shift tactics. “I think the very idea of the reconciliation shows the weakness of the Palestinian Authority, and leads one to wonder whether Hamas will take control over Judea and Samaria, as it did over Gaza,” he said in his statement, using the biblical names for the West Bank.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu instructed the Israeli security establishment to take all necessary measures to ensure the enforcement of Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza amid reports of plans for another international flotilla. Mr. Netanyahu met with his senior ministers and security officials and said that diplomatic efforts should continue to prevent the flotilla from setting out.

David D. Kirkpatrick and Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo, and Fares Akram from Gaza.

“Does Israel have a right to exist?”

What is the legal basis for the State of Israel?

Some ask the question, “Does Israel have a right to exist?” That is not a proper question since Israel does exist, is recognized by the United Nations and many other countries, and is no more subject to being so questioned than is the United States, Japan, or any other country.

Anyone who persists with the question of Israel’s right to exist is one whose agenda is to eliminate Israel and its Jewish inhabitants.

But there is a legal background to the State of Israel. The Declaration of Israel’s Independence, issued at Tel Aviv on May 14, 1948, recites the legal history that led to the founding of Israel as an internationally recognized sovereign state:

  • The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world.
  • In the year 1897 the First Zionist Congress, inspired by Theodor Herzl’s vision of the Jewish State, proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national revival in their own country.
  • This right was acknowledged by the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, and re-affirmed by the Mandate of the League of Nations, which gave explicit international recognition to the historic connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and their right to reconstitute their National Home.
  • On November 29, 1947, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a Resolution for the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Palestine, and called upon the inhabitants of the country to take such steps as may be necessary on their part to put the plan into effect. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their independent State may not be revoked. It is, moreover, the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation, as all other nations, in its own sovereign State.
  • ACCORDINGLY, WE, the members of the National Council, representing the Jewish people in Palestine and the Zionist movement of the world, met together in solemn assembly today, the day of the termination of the British mandate for Palestine, by virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish and of the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, HEREBY PROCLAIM the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called ISRAEL.

At that point, the State of Israel came into existence. The United States recognized the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the Jewish state within minutes. The Soviet Union granted de jure recognition almost immediately in 1948 along with seven other states within the next five days (Guatemala, Byelorussia, the Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, and Yugoslavia).

Since the League of Nations was formally terminated in April 1946, there was a specific UN resolution that preserved the rights of the Jewish people in Palestine (and in Jerusalem particularly). The United Nations, as the successor organization to the League of Nations, adopted Article 80 of the UN Charter, which negated efforts “to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples (emphasis added) or the terms of existing international instruments” at the time of the UN’s creation. This provision carried the British Mandate granted by the League of Nations, including all of its committments to a homeland for the Jewish people, into the framework of international law at the United Nations.

Israel’s success in defending its territory against the invading Arab armies in 1948 made the country an established reality. General elections were held on January 25, 1949: the provisional State Council was replaced by an elected Parliament (Knesset) and the Provisional Government by a regular parliamentary Government. De jure recognition by the United States was extended on January 31, 1949 after the permanent government was sworn in. On January 29, 1949, the former Mandatory Power, Britain, recognized the state of Israel, a step that also recognized the end of British efforts to affect the course of the region’s politics.

In the fall of 1948, Israel had applied for membership in the United Nations but failed to win the necessary majority in the Security Council. In February 1949, Israel renewed its application for membership in the United Nations. On March 4, 1949, the Security Council recommended to the General Assembly that it be admitted. On May 11, Israel was admitted, to become the 59th member. Between January 1, 1949 and May 11. 1949, Israel was recognised by 32 States, in addition to the 20 that had accorded it recognition prior to December 31, 1948. Today Israel has full diplomatic relations with most countries of the world, except portions of the Islamic/Arab block that continue to believe that Israel can somehow be eliminated.

Sources and additional reading on this topic:

Middle East Strange Things of the Day

 

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 07:56 PM PDT

By Barry Rubin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has hinted that the United States and Britain might arm the Libyan rebels. Don’t you think it’s important to know who these people are before arming them and putting them in power? U.S. officials are basically admitting that they simply don’t know the political composition of the opposition so how can they be given full backing?

Oh, right, that’s just what they did in Egypt.

Now it is being reported that two weeks ago President Obama authorized covert operations on the ground in support of the rebels. Consider this scenario: The rebels attack and perhaps capture a pro-Qadhafi town (Sirte, for example), levelling it in the process, and killing civilians either through indifference to casualties or murder of those considered tribal enemies and supporters of the dictatorship.

How would this compare to a mission defined as protecting civilians?

At the same time, though, the use of covert operations makes sense and the CIA will be able to get a better picture of the rebels. But the CIA has been the U.S. government institution that seems to believe that if an Islamist isn’t in al-Qaida then he’s moderate. So the quality of the reporting is a concern. And what if operatives are worried about the rebels but are ignored or overruled by the White House?

I hope we get some good leaks on what they are finding out in Libya.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the “target dates for reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement on permanent status issues and completing the Palestinian Authority’s two-year state-building program are fast-approaching.”

What target dates? This notion that the conflict must be settled right away (or else what? Egypt and Tunisia will have revolutions? Libya will have a civil war? Iran will launch a campaign to get nuclear weapons? Hamas will take over the Gaza Strip?) on the Palestinian Authority’s terms is absurd.

And since when did the PA’s claim that it would be ready for a state in two years become internationally accepted as the framework for global action?

 

Flash: Bashar al-Assad to Demonstrators: Surrender or Die 

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 07:42 PM PDT

By Barry Rubin

Nowadays, Western officials and journalists seem to think that if you are a Middle East dictator and people start demonstrating you might give up, pack your bags, let your Swiss banker know to get the money ready, and make a run for it.

That’s an illusion. The question is really: Who are the people with the guns supporting?
In Egypt and Tunisia, revolutions were easy because the armies supported them. In Algeria, Iran, Jordan, and Syria things are rather different.

And so faced with large demonstrations, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad took a traditional approach, which in American cultural terms might be described by a quote from “Dirty Harry”: “Think you’re lucky, punk? Make my day!”

Assad’s message is this: No concessions. American and Zionist agents are attacking me because I’m such a great Arab nationalist and friend of Islam. Rally around me and we’ll repress them no matter how many I have to kill.

I’m not saying I admire this approach but, frankly, it still works, as long as you have a strong base of support and the backing of those with the guns. Assad apparently has both.

To begin with, the Alawite minority community to which he belongs is behind him because it knows that a revolution would mean the end of its wealth, privileges, and even lives. The Christians also back the regime because they fear Islamism. That’s about one-quarter of the population. And the Alawites control the elite armed forces’ units.

Then there are the Sunni Muslims who make up about 60 percent of the population. Some of them are attracted to democratic reform; some to revolutionary Islamism; some to both. Yet many do back the regime because of its record of being so Islamist in its foreign policy: anti-American, anti-Israel, and pro-Iran, Hamas, Sunni Muslim insurgents in Iraq, and Hizballah.

A lot—but by no means all—of the demonstrations have been in the poor south. The other big bloc of opposition is the Kurdish minority. But they have been cautious since the last time they revolted the Arabs didn’t help them. They don’t want to take a risk. Assad’s hardline is more likely to make them play it safe.

My sympathies are with democratic reformers, but my analysis says that from his own standpoint Assad did the right thing. This is the precise opposite of how Westerners look at the situation. They assume that a hardline policy will make the people angrier and intensify the revolt. In fact, if the regime is serious about repression and has a large base of support, a tough stand it will put down the opposition.

Iran had a revolution in 1978-1979 not because the shah was too tough but because he was too soft—that’s an analysis, not a value judgment. Iraq didn’t have a revolution after the 1991 defeat in Kuwait because Saddam Hussein used his iron fist. In Egypt, the message that the military is for change and the regime is vacillating led to a flood of opposition and the fall of the regime. This is what President Husni Mubarak meant when he said that President Barack Obama didn’t understand Arab culture.

If you show weakness, you’re as good as dead. Needless to say this is a major problem with current U.S. Middle East policy. In the Middle East, nice guys don’t just finish last, they don’t finish at all.

To complete the picture, Assad appeared relaxed during the speech and laughed at several points. The image he’s building is: I’m not worried at all. If he were to show fear and weakness, his allies would start deserting him and going over to the other side. (That’s sentence also applies to U.S. policy.)

True, he gave some lip service to reforms and fighting corruption. But basically that’s what Assad has been saying for 11 years and he has changed nothing. With the U.S. government labeling him a “reformer” with such a record, there’s no pressure to do anything different. From the standpoint of the Syrian dictatorship—and I don’t say this lightly—it has U.S. support. Even to talk as if Assad might actually reform anything is a joke.

His father killed between 10,000 and 20,000 people in a minor revolt in Hama in 1982. So far in this upsurge he’s only killed 60. And Bashar is trying to be his father. He knows that he has nothing to fear internationally no matter what he does. One can almost see Bashar looking up (though looking down would be more accurate!) and saying, “Are you proud of me now, dad?”

The key factor that could prove this analysis wrong is whether Sunni Arabs desert the regime in large numbers. If they do so, they could go toward either Islamism or a moderate pro-democratic stance. Another indication is if the Kurds rise up that will be because they think the Sunni Arabs are likely to make a revolution.

But for the time being my analysis is that this regime is going to survive by being brutal.

 

Egypt Leaves the Anti-Iran Bloc 

Posted: 30 Mar 2011 10:09 AM PDT

By Barry Rubin

Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil el-Arabi said, “The Egyptian government doesn’t consider Iran to be an enemy state. We’re opening a new page with all countries, including Iran.” President Anwar al-Sadat cut relations with Iran in 1979, at the time of the Islamist revolution.

For three decades, Egypt’s government has seen Tehran as a threat and a rival on many levels:

–Persian versus Arab.

–Shia versus Sunni.

–A challenge to Egypt’s national interest and leading role in the region.

–A destabilizing factor, producing war, terrorism, and revolution in the region.

–In line with Egypt’s alliance with the United States–albeit for its own interests–Egypt opposed the spread of Iranian influence.

But now, as I pointed out at the beginning of the revolution, this has all changed. Obviously, Egypt’s government has the right to do what it wants in its relations with Iran. But equally obviously this is a big setback for U.S. interests in containing and combatting Iran’s power.

The next step will no doubt be Egypt’s rapprochement with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip.

All of this was completely predictable, but nobody in the U.S. government and very few in the media, saw it coming.

Goodbye Islam: Hello Normalcy: the End of the Religion of Poverty

Eradication of Islam by:

Ali Sina Islam:

The Religion of Poverty

The greatest gift of Islam to its followers is poverty. All Islamic countries with the exception of those that have oil are poor. Amazingly even Iran that is oil rich and before the Islamic regime was a prosperous country, is now a poor third world country. With over 20 billion dollar revenue only from the Oil industry, the per capita income of the Iranians is $1200 annually. Just recently an 18-year-old girl burned herself. She died within a few days. When questioned why, she replied that without her there would be one less mouth to feed in her household and more food for her younger siblings. 20 million Bangalis have immigrated to India in the search of a better life. Bangladesh and Pakistan are languishing in poverty while India is now experiencing an economical boom. As for Afghanistan, let us not even mention it. Some Afghani women are forced to go “grazing”. They go to the mountains looking for a blade of grass to eat and feed their children. All Islamic countries are completely unproductive. Half of the population, i.e. women, virtually is left out of the work force. Those who work waste one month of a year in a quasi-hibernating state during the Ramadan and 5 time obligatory prayers rob the economy millions of valuable man-hours of productivity. Schools instead of teaching real science teach the Islamic non-sense of Fiqh and Shaira and brainwash the youth with mumbo-jumbo of creation, story of Noah and the miracles of Muhammad. If it weren’t for oil all Islamic countries without any exception would be the poorest countries of the world. Millions of Muslims from all Islamic countries to invad the West in the search of better life. Islamic Expansionism One would think that at least those economical refugees who have escaped the hardship of their native land, are mildly aware that the cause of the poverty of their brethrens back home is Islam and they would try to get away from it now that they have escaped from it and have managed to make some fortune in the Kafir land. One would expect that at least they would not slay the goose that lays the golden eggs and would not try to infiltrate Islam in their new homes. Unfortunately Muslims are bereft of that much discernment. When Muslims go to non-Islamic countries and once they overcome their economical hardships they start demanding special privileges to practice and promote their religion. They take advantage of the democracy in their host countries and start building mosques calling their hosts Kafir and strive to eradicate that democracy, and impose the brutal laws of Sharia. In the West, they have started converting the whites and inculcated in them the hate of their own culture to the extent that these new converts harbor the desire to destroy their own churches, loath democracy and capitalism and endeavor to establish the rule of Islam and theocracy of Khalifat world wide. In a Statement laid on the table of the house of Assam (India) Legislative Assembly under item no. 12 dated 6.4.2000 Shri Prafulla Kumar Mahanta the Chief Minister, Assam wrote: “During the recent past, Assam Police has gathered sufficient evidence to prove that the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI has been actively involved in fomenting violence and terrorism in the State. These activities are mainly in the following areas: a. Promoting indiscriminate violence in the State by providing active support to the local militant outfits. b. Creating new militant outfits along ethnic and communal lines by instigating ethnic and religious groups. c. Supply of explosives and sophisticated arms to various terrorist groups. d. Causing sabotage of oil pipelines and other installations, communication lines, railways and roads. e. Promoting fundamentalism and militancy among local Muslim youth by misleading them in the name of ‘jehad’. f. Promoting communal tension between Hindu and Muslim citizens by way of false and highly inflammatory propaganda.” This report goes on giving the details of various activities of the ISI in Assam and how Pakistan is training the Muslims, mostly the Bangali economical immigrants for their terrorist activities in India. The World React to Islam Many Indians justifiably are alarmed of the growth of the number of Muslims in India and fear that this would eventually result in another bloody civil war and further secession of their country. It is unfortunate though, that this threat has forced them to form militant fundamentalist groups to combat the spread of Islam in India. A similar move has already started in England where the Pakistani youth have clashed with the ultra right angry British youth and even police in several occasions with much property damage to the shops and private businesses. The anti Islamic sentiment is also brewing in Italy, France, Denmark and Germany. I cannot say that this fear of Islamic expansionism is unfounded. Islam must be confronted though violence is not the right method. In fact it is quite counterproductive and dangerous. This would make Muslims feel martyred and strengthens their resolve making them go deeper into their ignorance, become fundamentalists with the inevitable escalation of violence and terrorism. The world should know that terrorism for a true Muslim is a religious virtue. Jihad was prescribed by Muhammad (Q.2:216), and killing the non-believers is regarded a service to Allah (Q.4:84). The problem here is not Muslims but Islam. It is Islam that prevents Muslims from mingling with their hosts in amity, and integrate with the culture of the country where they reside. It is Islam that teaches them to separate the world in two quarters of Dar-al Harb and Dar-al Islam. The solution to this problem cannot come from the non-Muslims but from the Muslims themselves. What Feeds Islamic Frenzy? It is a fact that Muslims are encouraged by the news that their number is growing. This is of course a total misrepresentation of the truth because their number is not actually growing by conversion but by procreation. It is true that Muslims are the fastest growing population but they interpret this, as ISLAM being the fastest growing “religion” and they delight even in such an obvious self-deception. In one of my essays called Who Feeds Fundamentalism I quoted an article that reported the case of a woman born and raised in a middle class Muslim family of doctors in Malaysia. She turned a terrorist and a jihadi after reading a book telling the stories of the Western women converting to Islam. Those stories blazed her religious fervor making her conclude that Islam must be a true gem that now the Westerners are discovering it. She started to wear hejab, started throwing dye at women not wearing the Islamic veil, was encouraging her husband to take a second wife, had many brushes with the law for her subversive activities and proudly told the reporter that she wants her sons to grow with gun in their hands. Any news of the success of Islam, make Muslims dig deeper in their fundamentalism and foments their religious zeal transforming them into terrorists, killing and hating machines. It is a fact that Islam is kept alive because Muslims look at each other telling themselves: “not all these people can be wrong”. This is what is called sheep mentality. One sheep jumps; the other jumps too. Even Muhammad was aware of this weakness in human psyche and took full advantage of that. In the early days of Islam he targeted the influential Meccans like Omar and Abu Bakr. Many early Muslim’s faiths were fortified when they learned that these two important personalities have also accepted Islam and it made it easy for others to join. “If important persons like Omar and Abu Bakr have accepted Islam, then it must be true”, they reasoned. Today Muslims use names like Cat Stevens and Dr. Bucaille (who is not even a Muslim) to impress themselves and their victims. They even claim Neil Armstrong is a Muslim, though he himself has categorically denied this rumor. The Other Side of The Coin However, this coin has another side too. Just as the news of the growth of Islam and its alleged successes kindles religious fervor in Muslims, transforming them into zealot fanatics and terrorist zombies, the news of the failure of Islam disheartens and discourages them. Just as the news and even the rumors of the conversion of a great number of people to Islam strengthen the Muslims in their faith, the reverse is also true. Islam, especially in recent years, has had many setbacks, but they have not been publicized. There is a great number of Muslims who leave Islam, most of them among the intellectuals and the crème de la crème of the society. But unfortunately these dissenters are not organized and often do not wish to endanger their lives and their peace of mind by going public. In Islam the punishment of apostasy is death. Thomas Paine and Bertrand Russell would not have lived long if they were Muslims critics. Ahmad Kasravi was murdered brutally and Ali Dashti was jailed at his advance age and died in the prisons of Khomeini. So the field is left open for the Muslims to inseminate their lies about Islam being the fastest growing religion. The truth is that many Muslims are turning against Islam and their numbers is increasing. From a statistic of the Iranians in Scandinavia we learn that 50% of them call themselves atheists or agnostics. 40% say they are Muslims but do not follow Islam. Only 10% consider themselves to be practicing Muslims. This statistic did not take into account those Iranians who already belonged to other religions or those Muslims who converted to other religions after they left Iran. The anti Islamic sentiment in Iran can be detected by conversing with the Jewelers in that country. They say that only 5% of those who buy gold chain necklaces want Islamic emblems like Allah, Muhammad and Ali carved in their necklace. 95% now ask for Iranian emblems like the edict of Cyrus on human rights, the Hakhamanish soldiers, Persepolis and other Iranian national icons. 23 years ago this percentage was completely the other way round. Today the government pays people to go to the Mosques. Some go because they are in dire poverty and need the money and the food that is served there, but still the mosques are empty. The dislike of Islam among Iranians is evident from the fact that now they prefer traditional Iranian names for their newborns. Just 5% of them choose Islamic (Arab) names. In earlier generations this percentage was over 80%. Iran has traditionally played a decisive role for Islam. It provided it with its philosophy. Most of Islamic philosophers are Iranians. Sufism is an Iranian invention, and even the founders of the 4 Sunni schools of thoughts were Iranians. Without the Iranian input Islam would be a primitive cult. Islam owes its greatness, architecture philosophy and culture to Iranian luminaries. The Islamic revolution of Iran gave a boost to Islam and Islamic fundamentalism in the entire world. The Ebbing of The Tide Today, however, the fortunes of Islam are ebbing. Islam is hated in Iran, especially among the generation born and raised after Islamic Revolution. Iran is pregnant with history-making events. Ere long the Iranian younger generation is going to rebel and Islam will suffer its biggest setback ever. It is enough to visit any Iranian forum on the Internet to see the level of hate that the Iranians feel for Islam. The Iranian students inside the country feel the same way, though they are unable to vent their anger now. As soon as this atmosphere of terror is lifted all that anger will come to the surface and Islam will die in Iran with the same swiftness and perhaps violence that it was imposed 1400 years ago. As Iranians start attacking Islam openly and blame it for all that went wrong in their country it will have a domino effect in all Islamic world. The immediate outcome of the fall of Islam in Iran is that the Islamist terrorist groups in Lebanon, Palestine, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and other countries will have their financial supply cut off. This in itself will hamper their activates and dampens their fervor. But the biggest blow on Islam would be psychological. Throughout the centuries, Iran has been a major player in the Middle East and it has always set the standard. After the demise of Islam in Iran, Muslims in the neighboring countries would feel disheartened and their faith will weaken. Other Fundamentalists Attack of Hindus or Christians on Islam makes Muslims defensive. I was amazed when a freethinking friend of mine who constantly writes against Islam retorted when a Christian Reverend of an evangelical church posted his criticism of Islam in our freethinkers forum. Of course this good friend of mine is himself critical of Islam but instinctively he felt that he had to respond to this other Christian fundamentalist by defending Islam. If an atheist like my own friend is moved to defend a religion that he loathes when it is attacked by another non-Muslim fundamentalist, then it is not unreasonable to believe that the opposition of the Hindu and Christian fundamentalists of Islam is counterproductive. Islam can be eradicated only from within. It seems that Muhammad was very much aware of this and that is why he was so unforgiving towards the dissenters. If the ex-Muslim freethinkers get organized and attack Islam systematically we will have much more success than if Islam is attacked from outside by other equally fallacious groups whose own curriculum vitae is marred with the same sins they accuse Islam of. These other groups lack credibility. They are guilty of the same faults that Muslims are. But we, as freethinkers do not subscribe to any ideology. We can be theists, atheists or agnostics and still disbelieve in Islam. Unlike the members of other religions we have no hidden skeletons in our closets to fear a counter attack. Islam can, and it has survived the attacks of other religions, but it cannot and will not survive the attack from its own renegades. Just as Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism are waning not because of the onslaughts of other religions but because of the rebellion of their own freethinkers, Islam will not be weakened by the attacks of fundamentalist groups of other religions but by the criticism of its own freethinkers. We should also be aware that fundamentalism in one religion encourages the rise of fundamentalism in other religions. This is a vicious circle. The formation of Hindu and Christian fundamentalist groups does not only not reduce the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, but it actually throws gasoline on their fire. This will only hardens the Islamist fanatics and strengthens their resolve. It creates an atmosphere of competition among the fundamentalists of all the religions. In this mindless race the winner is the loser. This is the race of ignorance. The runners are heading towards the precipice and an Armageddon is awaiting them at the end of the lane. The best thing non-Muslims can do to stop the Islamic fundamentalism, is to stop fundamentalism in their own religions. The End Is Nigh I know many of you are pessimistic about it but I foresee the end of Islam at sight. I am not concerned of the ignorant mass of Muslims. The intellectuals of Islam are turning against it and it is the intellectuals that chart the course of the history not the ignorant mass. A billion ignorant Muslims can do nothing to stop the momentum that a few of their enlightened intellectuals who have turned against Islam can generate. They eventually will have to give in and follow their intellectuals or they will be annihilated under the pressure of poverty like Afghanistan and Iran. Many Muslim intellectuals feel that they have hit the bottom and even though they still are unable to cut their umbilical cord from Islam, they admit that Islam cannot bring prosperity, democracy and peace and they openly call for the separation of Mosque from State. This admission that Islam has failed, at least in political front, is a great step forward. Whether these people are aware or not, they are tacitly acknowledging that Islam is a failed paradigm; because Islam unlike Christianity, Hinduism or Buddhism is a religion that seeks power and pretends to be the religion of the state. Islam becomes meaningless once it is reduced into a mere set of moral codes. Islam has very few moral codes. The essence of Islam is to fight and promote the religion of Allah until it becomes the sole religion of mankind. (Q.3: 85), (Q.2: 193) Without this expansionist drive, Islam will wither and die. The whole message of Islam is not: to do good, be kind, loving and honest, but to “believe” and make others believe in Allah and his messenger. In Islam the words “righteousness” and “virtue” do not mean the same as defined in dictionaries. They mean belief in Allah and obedience to his prophet. Unlike other religions, Islam is not a religion of individual salvation but of the state domination. Secularism in Islamic countries does not work. Turkey became a secular country in 1912 but now the fundamentalists are fighting hard to regain the power and convert that country once again into an Islamic state. Reza shah in Iran imposed secularism and tried to modernize that country. 50 years later the fundamentalists came back with revenge and reversed the cloak 1400 years. Muhammad Ali Jinah aspired a secular Pakistan but that country is now caught in the claws of the fundamentalists digging deeper and deeper in ignorance. Islam cannot survive without power. The separation of the state and religion in Islam does not work. If Islamic countries desire secularism, freedom and democracy, they have to get rid of Islam altogether. They have to decide between democracy and Islam. Just as you cannot house the sheep and the wolves in the same fold, you cannot have democracy and Islam in the same country. Today, we can make history. For the first time the dissenters of Islam are reuniting and are getting organized. Our number is growing rapidly. There is not a day that I do not receive an email from someone who claims having left Islam. Many of them are Iranians. This is despite the fact that I don’t know much about search engines and my sites (www.humanists.net/alisina) does not show in many of them. I notice that there is a great anti-Islamic momentum building up especially among the ex-Muslims. Christianity vs. Islam There is a fundamental difference between Muslims leaving Islam and the Christians leaving their religion. Most born and raised Christians when leave Christianity, become critical of the Church and the Bible but still respect Christ. In fact Christ as described in the New Testament is a loving person. Many Christians also cannot get rid of Christianity because their god is the god of love. At least this is what they are being told and this is the idea they have of their god. Muslims on the other hand believe in Allah through fear. The god of Muhammad is not a loving god but a dreadful and an unforgiving god of vengeance (Q.4:48). When Muslims learn the fallacies of Islam and discover the real face of Muhammad, they hate that religion and despise its founder. Therefore although the Christianity in the West, in the last two centuries, has been in demise it has managed to survive and perhaps it will survive for another two or three centuries. Christianity still has spiritual lessons to give. It can still be a source of guidance and inspiration to its followers. Christianity as taught and lived by Christ is a moral religion. Christianity may be logically wrong but ethically it is not. A few letters written by Paul are discriminatory towards women. But that can be easily overlooked when one pays attention to the overall message of love and tolerance taught by Jesus. None of that can be said about Islam. Quran is replete with intolerance, violence, discrimination and hate. We could have overlooked the logical absurdity of Islam’s holy book but how can we fail to see its intolerance and its message of hate? Moreover the person of Jesus as is reported in the Bible, is sanctified from any blemish. Muhammad on the other hand was a violent man. He was a lustful, pervert, ruthless, arrogant and a maniac mass murder. A man who wishes to emulate Muhammad in this day and age is a man that should be locked in jail. Those who follow truly the example of the Prophet of Islam are terrorists. They are dangers to society. One can be a good Christian and still be a good person. But one CANNOT be a good Muslim, follow all those hate mongering teachings of Muhammad, and be a good human being at the same time. To compare Islam with Christianity and assume that since Christianity has survived the attacks from its dissenters and enlightened freethinkers, Islam would do the same is a mistake. This is like comparing apples to oranges. The only thing that Islam and Christianity have in common is that both are called religion. But the similarity ends there. To understand the difference between Muhammad and Jesus is enough to compare how they reacted to two very similar incidents. John 8:3-7 ”The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery, and they made her stand before them all, “Teacher.” They said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. In our law Moses commanded that such a woman must be stoned to death, Now what do you say?” They said this to trap Jesus, so that they could accuse him. But he bent over and wrote on the ground with his finger. As they stood there asking him questions, he strengthened himself up and said to them, “Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.” Then he bent over again and wrote on the ground. When they heard this, they all left, one by one, the older ones first. Jesus was left alone with the woman standing there. He straightened himself up and said to her, “Where are they? Is there no one left to condemn you?” “No Sir” she answered. “Well, then.” Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go but do not sin again.” Volume 2, Book 23, Number 413: Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar : The Jew brought to the Prophet a man and a woman from amongst them who have committed (adultery) illegal sexual intercourse. He ordered both of them to be stoned (to death), near the place of offering the funeral prayers beside the mosque.” Now let us compare the teachings of Christ with those of Muhammad: Luke 5:27 “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who ill-treat you. Q. 9: 23 “O ye who believe! take not for protectors your fathers and your brothers if they love Infidelity above Faith: if any of you do so, they do wrong”. Q. 3:28, Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah Luke 5:37 “Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others and God will not condemn you; forgive others, and God will forgive you. Give to others and God will give to you Q. 9:29, Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. It is clear why Muslim dissidents hate intensely Muhammad and his fictitious Allah. It is because the essence of the massage of Jesus is love, but the essence of Islam is hate. That is why the Christianity, despite its illogicality has survived the age of enlightenment and has been able to adapt itself, somehow, to the changing world. But Islam would not survive the light of reason and will die a quick death. Christianity is illogical but it elevates the human spirit. Islam is hodgepodge of gibberish too, but provokes terror, advocates strife, calls for blood and foments hate. it sinks the human spirit and brings out the worst of the animal instinct of its followers. Once Islam is proven false, there is nothing else left for its followers to cling to. The only thing that keeps Muslims clinging to it is fear. Once the light of knowledge dissipate the darkness of ignorance and the fear of this revengeful monster called Allah is vanished. Islam will die a quick death. I can give this assurance that Islam will not see the next century and even go as far as to say we may see its death in our own lifetime. You may call this a wishful thinking, but I call it a guts feeling. The Oil Factor It is in fact more than just a guts feeling. In 25 years the oil reserve of the Islamic countries will finish. The world may also find an alternative source of energy This research is already on the way and indeed this alternative source is in operation. Many busses in Canada are powered by Fuel Cell Power Generators. It is absolutely feasible to have our cars, our houses, our cities and our factories powered by this new technology, which is much more cleaner and environmentally friendlier than carbon based fuels within a decade or two. The implication of this new technology for oil dependent Muslim countries are disastrous. Islamic countries are not productive. They lack technology and they suffer from brain drain. Today a lot of Islamic terrorism and expansionism are financed by oil rich countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. When the oil wells dry out or another source of energy make them superfluous, the life blood of Islamic expansionism/terrorism will also come to an end. The Mighty Internet Another important factor is the Internet. The internet has been a great tool of communication in the West, but for Islamic countries it is revolutionary. People in the West could easily communicate among each other and exchange ideas freely even before the advent of the Internet. But for Muslims especially in Islamic countries the Internet provides for the first time, a medium to exchange thoughts candidly and without the fear of the consequences. Islam is a religion that is founded on ignorance and fear. When people can openly exchange thoughts, the ignorance will be dissipated. The safety of the Internet also shelters them against fear. when Muslims start talking to each other, they will learn about the real Islam, the Islam that was taught in Quran and lived by Muhammad. This would shock them. Up until now they blamed the Mullahs for misinterpreting and misrepresenting the “pure” teachings of Islam and not being the legitimate representatives of the “real Islam”. They had created a romantic idea of Islam in their minds that was not real. But Internet will demolish that romantic idea and the true Islam will be know to everyone. It is true that faith blinds and many Muslims would not be shaken even if it is proven to them that Muhammad was an assassin, a rapist, a thief, a ruthless mass murderer, a pedophile or a highway robber. The light will startle those who have eyes. No amount of light will ever affect those who have no eyes to see. I have had many debates with Muslims who after having received the irrefutable proof that Muhammad was all the above and more, have said that they don’t care who Muhammad was and his person is absolutely unimportant to them. They claim what really matters is the Quran and not the messenger. Of course this response would have been a legitimate response had Allah written his book with his own hand, signed and sealed it and Muhammad was nothing but a mailman. In this case the Prophet’s character would have been insubstantial. But as it is, no one can vouch for Muhammad. Therefore his character is very important. What if he lied? Can we really trust a man who is deprived of human qualities? Can we trust the words of a man who has demonstrated lack of moral values, who has not been able to control his sexual and animalistic instincts? How can we believe a person who has acted like a mafia godfather sending his gangsters to terror his enemies? How can we believe in one who has broken all moral and ethical codes by initiating war in holy months, desecrating holy places, murdering cold bloodedly this prisoners of war, raping his war captives, enslaving free people and trading them, and sleeping with a 9 year old child at the age of 54? Could really God choose a man of such low moral fiber to be his messenger among the people? All these questions were never discussed among the Muslims. How could they? Muhammad created such an atmosphere of terror that any whisper of doubt was dealt with mercilessly. But now Muslims can talk about these issues. They can question what was taboo. They can even criticize and reject Islam and live to see the next day. This is new! The Internet has provided a unique opportunity for the Muslims that was unthinkable since the inception of Islam and that is to question it. But Islam has no answers. Islam’s answers to criticism has been imprisonment, and execution. In Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan you can even lose your life if you are found with a Bible, let alone books that are critical of Islam. How Muslims could have found the truth is such an atmosphere of mind control and terror? The Internet is going to make a revolution. This would be the revolution of minds. Muslim countries cannot prevent their subjects from using the Internet. As the Internet make its way in the homes of the Muslims, Islam will be weakened and eventually will die out. That is why I am confident that many of us, would see the end of Islam in our own life time. This is not a dream nor wishful thinking. No matter how dark is the night, it cannot stand the light of the day. No matter how dense the ignorance, it cannot survive the shattering impact of knowledge. For 1400 years ignorance was safeguarded by Mullahs. Today the Mullahs are powerless. They no more can control the minds. One enlightened mind is more powerful than a billion ignorant ones. Aug. 2001 TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs KEYWORDS: islam Navigation: use the links below to view more comments. first 1-50, 51-77 next last This is quite an amazing website. There are many articles, letters, and debates. Go check it out and send thanks to this very brave person. I’d like to thank the Freeper who provided a link to this site a few days ago. I apologize if someone has posted this before. I don’t have a good record when it comes to posting unseen articles.

Free Gilad Shalit!

By AMY TEIBEL, Associated Press Writer– Sun Jun 27, 3:11 pm ET

JERUSALEM – The family of a captured Israeli soldier, flanked by hundreds of supporters, set out Sunday on a 12-day march to Jerusalem to press their government to make a deal with Hamas militants to win his freedom.

Sgt. Gilad Schalit was taken captive four years ago during a cross-border raid by militants from the Gaza Strip. His parents say they will camp outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence until the government wins the release of their 23-year-old son, who hasn’t been seen in person since he was seized.

“Today we say, ‘We won’t wait any longer, we won’t wait any longer in our home,'” Schalit’s father, Noam Schalit, said before the start of the march. Israel’s leaders, he added, “have to put an end to this sad saga.”

Thousands, including supermodel Bar Refaeli and dozens of local celebrities, are expected to join the march from the Schalits’ home in northern Israel to Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said about 2,000 supporters accompanied the family as it left its home in the small community of Mitzpe Hila on the Israel-Lebanon border. Many wore yellow ribbons or T-shirts with the soldier’s photo.

Some carried signs reading, “Gilad Schalit, we’re waiting at home for you,” and “The government of Israel, Gilad Schalit is screaming, ‘Help!'”

Israel has agreed to release many of the 1,000 Palestinian prisoners that Hamas wants freed, but has balked at freeing some who were convicted in deadly attacks on Israelis. It also objects to releasing them to their homes in the neighboring West Bank for fear they would establish militant footholds there, and wants them deported.

Schalit’s ordeal has touched a nerve in Israel, where military service is compulsory for most Jews, and almost all Jewish families have relatives who serve. The march dominated Israeli newspapers Sunday, and one leading daily, Haaretz, implored the government to make the necessary concessions to bring Schalit home. A recent poll suggested that a large majority of Israelis would be willing to see convicted killers released so he could go free.

The Schalits launched the protest march after Israel eased its blockade of Gaza last week without assuring their son’s release.

Israel began restricting the movement of goods into and out of Gaza after Schalit was captured, hoping to pressure Hamas to release him, and later imposed an all-out blockade after Hamas overran the territory a year later.

That embargo was eased in recent weeks after a deadly Israeli raid on a blockade-busting flotilla drew an international outcry over the plight of 1.5 million Gazans affected by the embargo.

Schalit’s parents now say the Israeli government has abandoned their son and lost important leverage over Hamas by easing the blockade.

Netanyahu told his Cabinet on Sunday that the government was working to free the serviceman and urged the international community “to stand by the state of Israel in its unequivocal and just demand that our captive soldier be returned immediately.”

Israel has been negotiating Schalit’s release through Egyptian and German mediators because it does not have direct talks with Hamas, which it considers a terror organization.

Little is known about Schalit’s condition. His captors have barred any access to him and released only a brief videotaped statement last year to prove he was still alive.

Israel has a long history of paying a disproportionate price for its captive soldiers. However, there has been no indication the government might yield to the public pressure generated by the march. Some officials have suggested the protests would be counterproductive and cause Hamas to dig in deeper.

Hamas had no comment on the march Sunday.

Also Sunday, Palestinians clashed with Israeli police in east Jerusalem near an enclave of Israeli settlers in the neighborhood of Silwan. Police said around 150 protesters threw stones, slightly wounding six policemen. There were no immediate reports of injured protesters.

Israeli moves to settle Jews in largely Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem have raised tensions in the city.