Friday, May 30, 2008

Doc is away for the next 48 hours

I apologize to my readers-I will be offline until Saturday evening-I hope. This is a scheduled absence-thank you-docAnd here is the rest of it.

Islamic Propaganda (da`wah) Towards the West

David Bukay

The Islamic propagation is very highly pronounced, and one can find it in numerous publications, written and electronic. One can sum up their main arguments: all individuals in Islam are equal. No authority may deprive any citizen of his rights and powers, and his opinion should be decisive in the formation of the government. The political system of Islam is a democracy, even if it is not secular. Islam does not accept a system which involves any kind of dictatorship, nor does it accept a system of monarchy. Islam was the first institution ever to advocate and implement such human rights as universal equality. In fact, Islam promoted the universality of the human experience over 1,300 years before the United Nations declared it to exist. Islam grants basic human rights to all people, Muslims and non-Muslims, regardless of their race, nationality, ethnic origin or language. Islam grants the individual the right to freedom. It is categorically forbidden to capture a free person and make him a slave or sell him into slavery. Islam recognizes absolute equality between people. There is no superiority of Arab over non-Arab, white over black. Islam protects the rights of the citizens, whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim, the right of freedom of thought and expression; the right to freedom of association and formation of parties or organizations; and the right to participate in the affairs of state. Islam is strongly opposed to all forms of injustice and takes all measures to ensure that justice prevails in every field. In time of war, Islam decreed humane rules of war, many centuries before such ideas were put into conventions and agreements in the West; it is prohibited to kill anyone who is in captivity; residential areas should not be pillaged, plundered or destroyed; treaties must not be broken, and Muslims are prohibited from opening hostilities without properly declaring war against the enemy. Islam set an unprecedented standard for the ethics of dealing with captured enemies. They treated prisoners of war in a manner that has yet to be imitated in history. It instructs Muslims either to free captives who cannot offer ransom or to ransom prisoners of war. Prisoners of war have the right to their human dignity and to be protected. The Islamic ethic of treating prisoners of war is part of the whole system of Islamic ethics, which places utmost importance on the preservation of human dignity and rights. All forms of barbarism, unnecessary acts of violence and unjust aggression are forbidden by Islam. The use of the concept of "jihad" for acts of aggression against innocent people that is for terror would be unjust and a great distortion and it is quite different from the wars of Joshua. Religiously, Islam proved a more tolerant religion, providing greater religious freedom for Jews and indigenous Christians.

Islamic propaganda towards the West uses mainly verses from the Qur'an and related sayings of Muhammad in the Hadith - to prove their case of a peace-loving Islam. The ultimate and overall message of the Qur'an is only peace.

1) The Prohibition of Killing Women and Children
Muslim propagandists quote verses from the Qur`an and Hadith to prove that in Islam there is the prohibition of killing of women, children and the elderly. Then they attack the Old Testament to prove that this is not the case in Judaism and in Christianity.1

From the Qur`an:

Surah 5 verse 32
If any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people.

In this noble verse we clearly see that Allah almighty honors all the innocent souls that he created. Killing an innocent soul is so hated by Allah that he considers it as a crime against all of mankind.

Nevertheless, it is so typical to quote only part of the verse, ignoring the other which is the opposite. The full verse is:

That is why we decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever kills a human being except for murder or for spreading corruption in the land it shall be killing all humanity. And whosoever saves a life saves the entire human race. Our apostle brought clear proofs to them, but even after that most of them committed excesses in the land.

The next verse reveals the whole issue clearly:

The punishment for those who wage war against Allah and his prophet and perpetrate disorder in the land is to kill and hang them or have a hand on one side and a foot on the other cut off. Or banish them of the land. Such is their disgrace in the world, and in the hereafter their doom shall be dreadful.

To this horrific and violent commandment, the Islamic propagandists explain that killing any innocent soul is hated by Allah and he considers it as a crime against mankind.

Surah 2 verses 190-191,
...order to "fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits, for Allah loves not transgressors".

However, not transgressing the limits of war can mean anything but not exactly to love peace and be compassionate. Moreover, who determines the limits? According to what? The promise is that Islam prevails and will dominate all other religions:

It is he who sent his messenger with the guidance and the true faith, in order to make it superior to other religions, even though the idolaters may not like it.2

It is he who sent his messenger with the guidance of the true faith, so that he may exalt it over every other creed...3

The radical change to offensive jihad was exemplified by Surah 9, the only Surah which does not open with bismillah al-rahman al-rahim: in the name of Allah the benevolent, merciful. We find "the verse of the sword" (ayat al-sayf):
But when the sacred months prohibited for fighting are over, slay the idolaters wheresoever you find them, and take them captives or besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every likely place. But if they repent and fulfill their devotional obligations and pay the zakat, then let them go their way.4

We then find then that the behavior towards the Jews and Christians also changed drastically:

Fight those People of the Book who do not believe in Allah and the last day, who do not prohibit what Allah and his messenger have forbidden, nor accept divine law, until all of them pay the poll tax (al-jizyah) out of hand (`an yadin) in submission (wahum saghirun).5

After fighting the idolaters, the unbelievers and the "People of the Book", came the turn of the hypocrites:
Fight, O prophet, against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal with them firmly. Their abode is hell and what a wretched destination.6

We also find the command of fighting all the abovementioned enemies of Islam, which is the basis of the horrific acts of beheadings:

When you clash with the unbelievers, smite their necks (fadarb al-riqab) until you overpower them... until war (al-harb) shall have come to an end.7

From the Hadith
The Islamists bring narrations from the Hadith, which relate to the same one event: 8

Narrated by `Abdullah: Allah's Apostle forbade the killing of women and children, by al-Bukhari and Muslim.9
Narrated by Ibn `Umar: Allah's Apostle forbade the killing of women and children, by al-Bukhari and Muslim.10

Then come three narrations:

Narated by Rabah Ibn Rabi`: the apostle of Allah told Khalid ibn al-Walid not to kill a woman or a hired servant. 11

Malik brings prohibition against killing women and children in military expeditions, but if there is no choice to kill the enemy, than it is possible. 12

Narrated by Ahmad al-Tirmidhi: Ibn `Abbas says: The messenger of Allah, when dispatching his troops, would tell them, "Do not behave treacherously, nor misappropriate war-booty, nor mutilate those whom you kill, nor kill children, nor the people in cloisters." 13

However, according to al-Tirmidhi himself, the main reason for sparing the life of women and children is to take them captives, to convert the children to Islam and take the women as concubines:

And there is no group of people on earth in which you cannot bring to me from them Muslims. And the best I like that you bring their wives and sons and kill their men.14

Taking part in jihad with soul and body is the utmost recommended action for the Muslim believer. The mujahid's best prize is paradise:

Muhammad said: Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it, except the shahid who, on seeing the superiority of jihad, would like to come back to the world and get killed again (in the way of Allah).15

Mohammad: Nobody who enters paradise likes to go back to the world even if he got everything on the earth, except the mujahid who wishes to return to the world so that he may be martyred ten times for of the dignity he receives.16

al-Miqdam b. Madikarib reported Allah's messenger as saying: the shahid receives six good things from Allah: he is forgiven at the first shedding of his blood; he is shown his abode in paradise; he is preserved from the punishment in the grave; he is kept safe from the greatest terror; he has placed on his head the crown of honor a ruby better than the world and what it contains; he is married to seventy-two wives, comprised of the maidens with large dark eyes; and he is made intercessor for seventy of his relatives.17

Muhammad said: No doubt I wish I could fight in the way of Allah and be a shahid and come to life again to be shahid and come to life once more.18

Muhammad said: paradise is under the shadow of the swords.19

One should also pay attention to the amount of energy devoted to proving something which is very common, acceptable and an integral part of Western civilization (not to kill civilians, especially women and children). And still, the question is, why do they boast of something which is obvious? Indeed, from the "no" (not to kill women and children), one can deduce the "yes" (it is permitted to kill males, youngsters and elders).

2) "Verses which Refute the Terrorism Lie in Islam"

Surah 8 verse 61:
But if the enemy inclines towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for he is one that hears and knows (all things).

This is really interesting, because the verse which precedes it (verse 60) explains it all:

…strike terror in the hearts of the enemy of Allah and your own, and others beside you not known to you but known to Allah…

Now verse 61 can be understood: "if they are inclined to peace", means, if they accept the rule of Islam, by conversion or submitting to Islam, "make peace with them". This is really the Islamic peace.

Surah 5 verse 28:
If thou dost stretch thy hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against thee to slay thee: for I do fear Allah, cherisher of the worlds.

However, the problem is that this is the story of Adam and his two sons, Cain and Abel, and the quotation is the answer of Abel to Cain before he was murdered. What is the connection to the refutation of terrorism in Islam?

Surah 60 verse 8:
Allah does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. Allah loves just dealers.

This is perplexing if not amusing, because the correct meaning of the verse is: it is possibly showing kindness and dealing justly towards those who do not fight the Muslims over faith and do not drive the Muslims out of their homes. If the Muslims attack the enemy territory, and there is no issue of religion and/or territory - there is no problem, since it means that the enemy was defeated or subdued. If the enemy attacks the Muslims, surely the issues of religion and territory become crucial. Moreover from the "no" (when and whom the Muslims are ordered not to fight), one can deduce the "yes" (against whom Muslims can fight). If any, this verse shows precisely the aggressive face of aggressive occupying Islam.

Surah 2 verse 193
And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers.

This is amazing. The commandment is to fight the unbelievers "until persecution is no more and religion is for Allah", which means there is no resistance to Islam as a supreme religion. Now, most important are the words "if they desist". This means stop fighting the Muslims, which includes accepting the rule of Islam either by conversion or by submitting to it. Indeed, now it is understood - accepting Islam means no hostility, and only those who resist are fought by jihad.

Surah 2 verse 256
Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things.

This verse was delivered by Muhammad at the beginning of his career in Medina, when he needed the Jewish and Christian support to organize his small community (Muhajirun) and to expand the number of his new supporters (Ansar). He encouraged avoidance of conflicts with the Jewish and Christian communities and to accept them as legitimate. This attitude was changed shortly after, when Muhammad had his military success. Moreover, this is a request and not a commandment ("let there be..."), and the question is how does it stands with other commandments from the same period at Medina. For example:

So fight them until opposition ends and obedience is wholly Allah's.20

So when you clash with the unbelievers smite their necks until you overpower them and hold them in bondage...21

Surah 15 verses 2-3
Again and again will those who disbelieve, wish that they had bowed (to Allah's will) in Islam. Leave them alone, to enjoy and to please themselves: let (false) hope amuse them: soon will knowledge (undeceive them).

These verses are from Meccan period, when Muhammad was weak and persecuted, and his followers were small in number. Muhammad had a modest conception of his duty. His religious views had evolved: at first it was the "Lord" who had been the source of his revelation. After about two years he began to use "al-Rahman", the merciful one, and finally, "Allah", which was originally the pagan Quraysh god.22 Muhammad kept moderation with regard to war, and kept preaching to Arabs on the spiritual level, as a da`wah. They were too small and too weak to fight. As a general rule, all the Surahs from Mecca (90 out of 114) are the same regarding this issue.

Surah 18 verse 29
Say, "The truth is from your Lord": Let him who will believe, and let him who will, reject (it)…

Surah from the Meccan period. See above.

Surah 10 verse 99
If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed - all who are on earth! wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe.

Surah from the Meccan period.

Surah 24 verse 54
Obey Allah, and obey the messenger: but if ye turn away, he is only responsible for the duty placed on him and ye for that placed on you. If ye obey him, ye shall be on right guidance. The messenger's duty is only to preach the (message).

This is almost a joke. The question relates to the connection between this verse and the ambition to prove the claim of refuting terrorism? The verse is simple but out of context.

Surah 109 verses 1-6
Say: O ye that reject faith! I worship not that which ye worship, nor will ye worship that which I worship… To you be your Way, and to me mine.

Surah from the Meccan period.

Surah 25 verses 68-69
Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as Allah has made sacred except for just cause, nor commit fornication; - and any that does this (not only) meets punishment. (But) the penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled to him, and he will dwell Therein in ignominy.

Surah from Meccan the period. The verses are deliberately misquoted:

...who do not invoke any god apart from Allah; who do not take life which Allah has forbidden except for a cause that is just, and do not fornicate, and any one who does so will be punished for the crime. Whose punishment will be doubled on the Day of Judgment and he will live forever in disgrace.

The verses do not say innocent souls, whether Muslim or not. Moreover, it insists on "except for a cause that is just", which is only Islamic. All in all these are rules for the community of believers on how to behave (notice the fornication mentioned, as a proof), and has nothing to do with peace and compassion towards the others, the unbelievers.

Surah 2 verse 178
O ye who believe! the law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the free for the free, the slave for the slave, the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother of the slain, then grant any reasonable demand, and compensate him with handsome gratitude, this is a concession and a Mercy from your Lord. After this whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave penalty.

This is part of Muhammad's moral legislation for the Muslims, and takes its sources from the Bible. There is no connection whatsoever to refuting terrorism, and one cannot deduce anything from this issue.

Surah 16 verse 126
And if ye punish, then punish as ye were punished (by them). But if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient.

Surah from the Meccan period. It deals with domestic moral legislation.

Surah 4 verse 90
Except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. If God had pleased, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you: Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (guarantees of) peace, then Allah has opened no way for you (to war against them).

This verse is deliberately misquoted.

Except those who take refuge with a people allied to you, or those who, weary of fighting you or their people, come over to you. If Allah has so willed he would surely given them power over you and they would have fought you. If they keep aloof and do not fight and offer peace, Allah has left you no reason to fight them.

This Surah deals with the issue of the hypocrites among the Muslims, so disturbed Muhammad's followers. After declaring in the previous verse to "seize them wherever they are and do away with them", Muhammad encourages his community to believe in Allah's abilities to overpower the hypocrites. That is all, and nothing is connected to refuting terrorism.

Surah 9 verse 7
How can there be a league, before God and His Apostle, with the Pagans, except those with whom ye made a treaty near the sacred Mosque? As long as these stand true to you, stand ye true to them: for God doth love the righteous.

The verse means the opposite of peace-loving. It says there can be no treaty between the idolaters, on the one side, and Allah and his apostle, on the other. And there is no need to fight those who have made treaties, meaning they have joined Islam, or are in alliance with the Muslims. The next verse clearly shows that the idolaters cannot be trusted, since they neither observe pacts nor good faith, and accordingly their fate is death.

3) "Verses that Deal with Peace"
For the Islamic propagators, Islam commands the Muslims to offer peace to the enemy, so that he can become a friend. Muslims are prohibited to kill people in churches or temples, or in hospitals, or children and elderly, or the enemy soldiers who are not carrying weapons. For that, they quote Surah 2 verse 190; Surah 5 verse 32; Surah 25 verses 68-69; Surah 8 verse 61; Surah 5 verse 28; Surah 60 verse 8; Surah 2 verse 193; Surah 2 verse 256; Surah 15 verses 2-3; Surah 18 verse 29; Surah 24 verse 54; Surah 109 verses 1-6; and Surah 10 verse 99.

We have already analyzed all these verses, and found most of them to be irrelevant to the subject matter. Moreover, the Muslim propagators use the same verses to refute terrorism and to prove that Islam means to love peace. Refuting the terrorism lie, if proven, is not synonymous to peace. We would also like to add that Surah 10 verse 99, we have analyzed, if any, is most aggressive in nature, and hints that mankind should come to believe in Islam, that its fate is to be subdued to Islam if not converted.

Surah 18 verse 86
Until, when he reached the setting of the sun, he found it set in a spring of murky water: Near it he found a People: We said: "O Zul-qarnain! (thou hast authority) either to punish them, or to treat them with kindness."

However, again, the verse is clear: even in far away regions, the Muslim community has permission to fight them or treat them with kindness. Where is the peace-loving issue? If any, it means aggression, since the commandment declares: when Muslims meet the unbelievers they should:

Invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to Islam; if they respond, accept it and desist from fighting against them (which means conversion to Islam). If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the jizyah. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands (which means, subduing to Islam and accepting its rule). If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them.23

A substantial part of the doctrine includesjihad among the very pillars of Islam, along with prayer and fasting:
Muhammad said: there is no hijrah after the conquest of Mecca, but jihad and good intentions (to fight in jihad). If you are called for fighting in jihad in the way of Allah, go forth immediately.24

A man came to Muhammad and asked, "A man fights for war booty; another fights for fame, and a third fights for showing off. Which of them fights in the way of Allah?" Muhammad said: "He who fights that Allah's word should be superior, fights in the name of Allah."25

Surah 45 verse 14
Tell those who believe, to forgive those who do not look forward to the days of Allah: It is for him to recompense (for good or ill) each people according to what they have earned.
This Surah is from the Meccan period.

Surah 2 verse 182
But if anyone fears partiality or wrong-doing on the part of the testator, and makes peace between (the parties concerned), there is no wrong in him: For God is oft-forgiving, most merciful."

This verse is a continuation of set of moral commandments to the community. The relevant section begins in verse 177 and ends in verse 182. Moreover, the verse does not say "makes peace between (the parties concerned)", as it is quoted, but instead brings about a settlement. That is all, and nothing relevant to peace concerning the others outside of Islam.

Surah 2 verse 224
And make not Allah's (name) an excuse in your oaths against doing good, or acting rightly, or making peace between persons; for Allah is one who hears and knows all things.

The verse is totally misquoted. The section begins in verse 211 and ends in verse 216. The crucial issue is to see the parallel between the fate of the Children of Israel and the Muslim believers. The relevant verse says: do you think (the Muslim believers) your way to paradise even though you have not known what the others before you have gone through? They (the Children of Israel) had suffered affliction and loss, so that even the Apostle (Moses) had to cry out: the help of God arrive? Remember (you, the Muslim community) the help of Allah is ever at hand.

Again, even not to mention the misquotation, where is the connection to peace-loving in Islam?

Moulavi Ali Cheragh constitutes a typical example
Almost all Muslim and European writers think that the religious war of aggression is one of the tenets of Islam, and prescribed by the Qur`an for the purpose of proselytizing. I do not find any such doctrine enjoined in the Qur`an or preached by Muhammad. His sole mission was to enlighten the Arabs to the true worship of one Allah. These have nothing to do with popular jihad and exterminating the idolaters. All the verses of the Qur`an are related only to defensive war without exception, and none of them has any reference to make warfare offensively. All fighting injunctions within the Qur`an are only in self-defense, none of them has any reference by which to make warfare offensively. There are several passages in the Qur`an which forbid taking offensive measures and enjoin only defensive war.26

So you see, the issue is very simple - there is nothing in the Qur`an, which relates to aggression and expansionism, and Muhammad was totally compassionate with his enemy and never shed their blood, this is the nature of Islam.

In a booklet "The Basics of Islam at a Glance" prepared by The Islamic Cultural Center in Tempe, Arizona, we read:
There is no historical proof that Islam was "spread by the sword". Even non-Muslim scholars now admit that this is nothing more than a vicious myth which cannot be substantiated by historical fact. Islam is a religion of love and peace and forgiveness.27

Murad Hoffmann, a German converted to Islam, declares shamelessly:
In almost every Surah, the Qur`an also encourages man to contemplate, to use his powers of reason, to harvest the fruits of his thought, instead of simply repeating the authorities parrot fashion. Islam rejects extremism, excessive emotions and hatred, violence and revolution.28

He quotes verses from the Qur`an to prove Islamic tolerance, yet the problem is that he quotes only part of them, neglecting the full text, which denotes a different reality. He quotes Chapter 18 verse 2929

Say: the truth is from your Lord, so believe if you like, or do not believe if you will.
Yet, the verse continues as such:
We have prepared for the sinners a fire which will envelope them in their tents. If they ask for water, they will be helped to liquid like molten brass that would scald their mouths. How evil the drink and evil the resting place.
Moreover, the record reaches its peak by his statement: "I could complete a chapter with a single sentence: the concept of holy war, even the phrase, does not exist in Islam."30

This brings us to a prominent exegete of Islam: Mahmoud Shaltut:31

Whenever the truth is clear and simple and easy, it speaks for itself and does not require further means to enlist adherents. However, when a truth is contradictory and complicated, it is obscure and repulsive to people. Now consider to which of these two categories the Islamic mission belongs?

Muhammad revealed a book containing the principles of happiness. It commands to judge by reason, it propagates science and knowledge, it gives clear rules, it proclaims mercy, it urges to do good, it preaches peace, it gives firm principles concerning politics and society, it fights injustice and corruption. The Islamic community is commanded to do only what is good and is forbidden to do what is reprehensible and evil. The Islamic mission is clear and evident, easy and uncomplicated. It is digestible and intelligible for any mind. It is a call of natural reason, and therefore not alien to human intellect. This is the mission of Muhammad to humanity.32

Now, if Islam, according to Shaltut, claims to be a religion that has all these traits, where should we look to find an example of what true Islam should look like? Where do we find peaceful harmonic relations even between Arabs states themselves? And as for human progress and development, where can we find an example of a modern developed democratic liberal Arab and/or Muslim state? What about Arab and Muslim leaders; which of them represent the Islamic values of peaceful, egalitarian, civil rights' religion and tolerance? What about any Arab-Muslim contributions to humanity, or to science and progress? How many scientific breakthroughs and inventions were revealed and introduced by them in the last centuries?

This is the political language of the Islamists, and Muslim scholars and spokesmen. They declare, without blushing, that jihad is only a defense and a last resort mechanism. But, is this really the case? If it is, then what about the processes of Arabization and Islamization imposed by the Arabs after the invasion from Arabia, by conquering the vast areas from Morocco to India? Between the years 710 and 712, Islamic troops were battling jihad wars in the territories of India and China in the east, and Spain and France in the west. Were these defensive wars of jihad? The same are the Islamic conquests during the Ottoman Empire, in the 15th and the 16th centuries. Indeed, these jihad wars had nothing to do with defense of the Muslim religion or Arabs' souls, but were all aggressive-expansionist imperialist ones.

4) "The Old Testament is Different and Legalizes Killing"
After bringing verses to prove their case, the Islamic propagators turn to the issue of killing women and children according to the Bible, and to prove that it permits terrorism. They bring the story of the Midianites in Numbers, 31: 17-18; in Deuteronomy 20: 16; and the Amalekites in Samuel 15: 2-3.

Indeed, this is true. The Jews were ordered to kill the seven nations of Canaan, but with a big difference as compared to Islam; the Jews fought for Eretz-Yisrael, because it belongs to the People of Israel alone, which is also stated in the Qur`an.33 If one can equate this situation to Islam, then it is as if the Muslims were to perpetrate jihad war in Arabian territory. The problem is that Islam is not confined to Arabia but its ideology extends to the whole world. Their definition of Dar al-Islam includes the territories conquered, from India to Spain (Andalusia), and they wish to bring these territories back to the fold of Islam.

Muslim propagandists also turn the charge against the Jews, by quoting Ezekiel, Chapter 23 verses 45-47, as if it is a general commandment. However, this is a private story of two prostitutes: Ahola and aholibah, and the command from God is to dispatch them with swords, to slay their sons and daughters, and burn their houses. Why this harsh measures? Verse 48 explains: I will cause lewdness to cease out of the land. The other one is from 2 Chronicles, Chapter 15 verse 13, which tell the story of those from the Children of Israel who transgressed during the reign of Asa, and the command was to slay all the Jews whosoever would not seek the Lord, God of Israel. These two stories relate to interior issues of sinners among the Jewish community who have sinned and their punishment. What is the relevance to violence and terrorism which allegedly is permited in the Bible? Then they bring the story of "Mighty Samson" in Judges Chapter 16 verses 26-30. The Muslim's challenge to Jews and Christians is to prove that the in the Bible one cannot find that God condemned Samson's actions.

The only problem with this claim, that it shows a total ignorance. "Mighty Samson" was imprisoned. He was tortured and stood before his death, and commit suicide out of the inevitable. He did not come willingly and freely to murder the innocents and civilians.

The next stage the Muslim propagators bring is the story of Saul and his Children in 1 Samuel, Chapter 31 verses 1-6. However, this is the story of the Philistines fighting Israel on Mount Gilboa, and Israel's defeat. The Philistines killed Saul sons, and he was injured. Out of this desperate situation, Saul wished to die and fell on his own sword. Where is the connection to the Muslim homicide bombers? But the Muslim propagators boast happily by declaring that in reality suicide bombings were allowed in the Bible.

2 Surah 9 verse 33; the same as Surah 61 verse 9.
3 Surah 48 verse 28.
4 Surah 9 verse 5.
5 Surah 9 verse 29. It is qualifying Surah 9 ayah 5 in severity: Meir Bravermann, "The Ancient Arab Background and the Qur`anic Concept of al-Jizyatu `an Yadin", Arabica, vol. 11, 1964, pp. 307-314; and ibid., vol. 14, 1967, pp. 90-91, 326-327.
6 Surah 9 verse 73.
7 Surah 47 verse 4.
8 The ahadith below-mentioned are quoted in many Muslim internet sites with variety of narrations, but from the same source.
9 Muhammad Ibn Isma`il, al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, Lahore: Kazi, 1979, Vol. 4, Book 52, Hadith 257; Ibn al-Hajjaj Muslim, Sahih Muslim, Cairo: Dar al-Kitab al-Misri, n.d, Book 19, Hadith 4319.
10 Sahih al-Bukhari: Vol. 4, Book 52, Hadith 258; Sahih Muslim, Book 19, Hadith 4320.
11 Ibn Majah Abu-Da`ud al-Sijistani, Sunan Abu Da`ud, Cairo: Dar al-Misriyah, 1988, Book 8, Hadith 2663. See also
12 Malik Ibn Anas, al-Muwatta`: The First Formulation of Islamic Law, London: Kegan Paul, 1989, Book 21, ahadith 8, 9, 10. See also Imam Nawawi:
13 It does not bring any footnote, but we take it as it is reliable.
14 Al-Tirmidhi, Sahih. Vol. 7, p. 36.
15 Al-Bukhari, Sahih, vol. 4, no.53; Muslim, Sahih, vol. 11, no. 2013.
16 Al-Bukhari, Sahih, vol. 4, no.72.
17 Transmitted by al-Tirmidhi and Muslim: According to Mishkat al-Masih, Lahore: Ashraf, 1975, Vol. 1, no. 808.
18 Al-Bukhari, Sahih, vol. 4, no. 216.
19 Ibid., vol. 2, no. 70; Muslim, Sahih, vol. 5, no. 1841.
20 Surah 8 verses 39 and 67.
21 Surah 47 verse 4.
22 Francis E. Peters, Muhammad and the Origins of Islam, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994, p. 160.
23 Muslim, Sahih, Book 19, no. 4294.
24 Al-Bukhari, Sahih, vol. 4, nos. 42, 311.
25 Ibid., vol. 4, no. 65.
26 Ali, A Critical Exposition of the Popular Jihad, pp. 114-119. See also pp. 16-27.
27 Surah 23 ayah 96; Surah 28 ayat 54-55; Surah 41 ayah 34; Surah 42 ayah 40. Of course all these are from the Meccan period. See below in Chapter 2.
28 Ibid., pp. 74, 85 respectively. See also pp. 33-42.
29 This Surah is from the Meccan period.
30 Hoffmann, Islam the Alternative, p. 161.
31 Mahmoud Shaltut, al-Qur`an wal-Qital, Cairo: Matba`at al-Nasr wal-Ittihad al-Sharqi, 1948.
32 According to: Surah 2 ayat 136-138; Surah 3 ayah 64; Surah 6 ayat 101-103; Surah 29 ayah 46; Surah 30 ayah 30; Surah 42 ayah 13.
33 Surah 5 verse 21; Surah 7 verse 137; Surah 17 verse 104; Surah 10 verses 93-94.

David Bukay (Ph.D.), teaches at the School of Political Science in the University of Haifa. his main fields are: International Terrorism and Islamic fanaticism; al-Qaeda and World Jihad; Inter-Arab Relations and the Arab Israeli Conflict; State and Conflict in the Middle East; the Arab State: Militarism vs. Islamism; Syria, Lebanon and Israel: the Politics of Power Politics.

His last two books are: Yasser Arafat: the Politics of Paranoia (Mellen Press, 2005); and From Muhammad to Bin Ladin (Transaction, 2007). He has written numerous articles (mostly in Hebrew). his forthcoming book is Arab-Islamic Colonialist Expansionism: Islamization and Arabization of the Dar al-Islam

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Wall Street Supersedes Gaza Strip!

Yoram Ettinger
“The Jewish World”

The 1948-2008 series of Arab-Israeli wars, coupled with Palestinian terrorism, have been bumps on the path of unprecedented Israeli economic growth: From a $1.2 billion GDP in 1948 to a $170 billion GDP in 2007! From a labor and land-intensive import-based economy, which is vulnerable to security and political uncertainty, to an increasingly know how-intensive export-driven economy, which is less vulnerable to wars and terrorism.

Sixty years ago, Israel was labeled as an economy-deprived country. In 2008, the “London Economist” claims that “Israel has an economy with the power to astonish…[featuring] most NASDAQ-listed companies, other than Canada and the US.” Israel has been recently admitted to the OECD - the exclusive club of the leading global economies - the Shekel has joined thirteen other top-traded currencies, and Israel’s credit rating has been upgraded by Moody’s, Standard & Poor and Fitch.

During the last four years, Israel’s economy has grown 5% annually, compared with a 2.7% annual growth for the OECD countries. Despite the draining 2006 war in Lebanon, the costly 2005 “Disengagement” from Gaza, the unprecedented Palestinian terrorism and prolonged political uncertainty, Israel’s economic fundamentals have been vigorous: minimal budget deficit (1%), low inflation (2.8%) and interest (5%) rates, surplus of trade balance ($4 billion) and balance of payment ($5 billion) and high foreign exchange reserves ($28 billion).

400 global (mostly US) companies have established plants and research & development centers in Israel. They express confidence in the long-term viability of Israel’s economy, notwithstanding the failing peace process and the exacerbation of Palestinian terrorism. For instance, most of Intel’s chips and microprocessors have been developed by Intel-Israel. Hence, Intel constructs its sixth ($4.5 billion) Israeli plant, which will boost the 2007 $1.5 billion export by Intel-Israel.

IBM has just acquired its third Israeli company in 2008 and Microsoft concludes its seventh Israeli acquisition in recent years. HP, Texas Instruments, GE-Medical, Motorola, Cisco, EMC, AOL, Google, Marvelle, Kodak, AT&T, Xerox, Phillips, SAP, Siemens and more giants have followed suit. They have realized that in order to play in the top high tech league, they must set foot in Israel, thus gaining access to Israel’s unique breakthrough technologies. They leverage Israel’s competitive edge: generating groundbreaking technologies. 140 per 10,000 Israelis are engaged in research & development, ahead of the US and Japan with 85 and 70 per 10,000 respectively. As a result, Israel is second only to the US in the absolute number of start-ups, but leads the world in the number of start-ups per capita.

Overseas investment in Israel’s high tech exceeds any single European country and surpasses France and Germany combined. Total overseas investment in Israel reached $23.4 billion in 2006, compared with $10.5 billion in 2005, $9.1 billion in 2004 and $5.1 billion in 2003. In addition to warren Buffet, who made his highest overseas investment in Israel ($4 billion), overseas investors include leading investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley, prestigious venture capital funds, such as Sequoia, Greylock and Benchmark, prime insurance companies such as Mass Mutual, AIG and Marsh McLennen and state employees pension funds such as California, Illinois, New York and Oregon.

According to Morgan Stanley, “Israel’s economy is robust, able to withstand geo-political constraints and global slowdown, featuring a strong Shekel, low interest rate, reduced inflation and budget deficit, a trade surplus and surge in overseas investment.”

Israel’s 60 year impressive economic track record constitutes a proof that – when it comes to the impact on sophisticated economies - the performance of Wall Street supersedes the terrorism of Gaza Strip.

US suspects Syria hiding nuclear facilities

May. 29, 2008

Although American efforts to defuse the nuclear crisis with Iran have yet to bear fruit, the Bush administration now appears to be focusing on yet another nuclear program which they believe is under secret development, this time in Syria.

In a report published by the Washington Post on Thursday, the US is said to be appealing to the United Nations to send inspectors to search for hidden nuclear facilities in the country. According to the report, the Bush administration suspects that Syria is hiding at least three sites, which they believe were intended to support a nuclear reactor which was destroyed in September. On September 6, Israeli warplanes reportedly bombed a nuclear reactor deep in Syrian territory. Damascus has repeatedly denied ever having built a reactor, and soon after the bombing, bulldozed the area and erected buildings on top of the site. Israel has never formally admitted to carrying out the attack.

US intelligence suspects that at least three secret facilities may have been used to provide fuel for that nuclear reactor, the report states.

In a briefing to US congressmen earlier in the year, intelligence officials suggested that the Syrian reactor was nearly operational at the time that it was bombed. Yet no fuel source has ever been found for the reactor - a fact which has baffled experts. The suggestion that nuclear facilities still exist in the country and remain hidden potentially solves that problem.

US government officials declined to describe the specific sites that have drawn interest, or to discuss how they were identified, according to the Washington Post report.

High Anxiety On The Golan

Joshua Mitnick
Israel Correspondent

Katzrin, Golan Heights — When Ramona Bar Lev first heard that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert confirmed the renewal of negotiations with the Syrian government to swap the Golan Heights for a peace deal, she felt sick.

“I became depressed for half the day,” said Bar Lev, a 38-year resident of the strategic plateau captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. “Then we got down to work.”Starting with the talks led by former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, the 20,000 Israelis living in the Golan Heights have grown accustomed to reports every few years about peace talks that involve giving the highlands back to Damascus. Even though more Israelis support keeping the Golan than East Jerusalem, every Israeli prime minister save for Ariel Sharon has discussed such a deal with the Syrians.

Indeed, Bar Lev, 57, head of public affairs for the Golan Settlements Council, was so immersed in the anti-government campaigns that she ticks off slogans from the campaigns of the 1990s: “Peace with the Golan,” “The People Are with the Golan,” and “Not Budging from the Golan.”

Stretching from the towering snow-capped Hermon Mountain range in the north to the Hamat Gader hot springs in the south, the Golan slope rises from the banks of the Sea of Galilee to offer a commanding view of Israel’s Hula Valley. The territory that is Israel’s northern security blanket combines cattle ranges, minefields, cherry picking and wine tasting.

This time around, the Golan residents start their battle against the government from an even stronger position. Thanks to its alliance with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, Syria is perceived in Israel as a rogue state. And given Israelis’ growing dissatisfaction with the fallout from concessions to Israel’s Arab neighbors, drumming up public support for such a deal will likely be difficult. In a Channel 2 poll conducted last week, only 22 percent of respondents said they’d give back the Golan in exchange for peace, while 70 percent opposed the swap.

“Look at the peace treaty with Egypt. We gave back all of the Sinai and that didn’t create normal relations,” she said. “It’s clear who Bashar Assad is and what he wants to do,” Bar Lev said, referring to the Syrian president.

As she spoke from her office in the sleepy commercial center of Katzrin, a delegation of Golan Heights leaders had traveled to Jerusalem to shore up the parliamentary lobby against giving back the Golan.

Members of the delegation said that members of Olmert’s coalition promised that they would block any agreement that involves returning the Golan Heights. The coalition opponents include the Sephardic fervently Orthodox Shas Party, as well as members of Olmert’s Kadima Party and the Labor Party.

The Golan settlers are hoping their lobby can pass a new Knesset law requiring a special majority of 70 or 80 lawmakers to ratify any peace treaty with the Syrians that requires territorial compromise on the Golan. They’d also like the parliament to pass a referendum law, which would create the legal basis for a national vote on a peace treaty.

“The Golan is sovereign territory,” said Shalom Ariel, a member of the Golan Settlements Council who visited Jerusalem on Tuesday. “The sovereignty can’t be under a question mark any more. Because no country gives up on its territory so easily.”

(Still, Ariel acknowledged that for all the public sentiment against giving back the Golan Heights, there aren’t enough parliament members who would support a resolution banning the government from cutting a land swap with the Syrians.)

Bar Lev first moved to the Golan in the years immediately after the 1967 war, for romance. She and Sami Bar Lev, who today is the mayor of Katrin, became the only Israelis to move into the Syrian town of Queneitra.

“We were Zionists,” she said. “We believed that we could build a new town in Queneitra.”

Unlike the religious nationalists who settled in the West Bank and Gaza, the Israelis who moved up to the Golan were heavily influenced by the Labor Zionism of the kibbutz movement.

The kibbutz movement eventually became a core Israeli constituency backing the concept of trading land for peace. Perhaps that’s the reason why the settler population in the Golan is only a fraction of the West Bank.

It also explains why many Golan residents describe themselves as peaceniks at heart who have grown disillusioned over the years.

Bar Lev’s arguments against giving back the Golan Heights challenge Syria’s legal and moral claim to ownership while asserting Israel’s historical and emotional ties to the territory.

While Syria forfeited its claim to the Golan by using the territory as a base to launch attacks on Israel, she said, the Jewish state has cultivated the wide-open stretch of land by encouraging tourism.

“This is the most beautiful part of the country from every category,” she said. “Beautiful people are living here.”

Underlying much of Israelis’ enthusiasm for holding on to the Golan is something that’s missing: a large Arab population. With only about 18,000 Druze who have the option to get Israeli ID cards, there is less angst about remaining in the Golan.

“What is special about the Golan Heights,” explained Yoni Dolev, a St. Paul, Minn., native who moved here 15 years ago, “is that it’s all Jewish. There are no Arab villages.”
Dolev, who directs the Golan Archeological Museum in Katzrin, reminisced about how the last serious effort at negotiations — the 2000 talks in Shepherdstown, W.Va. — actually spurred a boomlet of Israeli tourists who visited to express solidarity.
Withdrawal “is always a possibility, but we don’t want to think of that possibility,” he said, adding that he is “not worried at all right now,” because Olmert is too weak to give back the Golan.

Just a few miles up the road from the Katzrin town center, a combination tourist center-strip mall has sprung up against the backdrop of the Golan’s virgin plains. A 13-minute movie with surround sound presents the Golan as a Garden of Eden. Next door there’s a microbrew pub and a souvenir shop, with Golan apples retailing in a gift shop for 90 cents each.

Real estate developer Haim Ohayon said he’s betting the $5 million mall will be a gateway to the region for tourists. He’s also got several dozen housing units in Katzrin under construction.

Unlike most residents, he’s not opposed to talking to the Syrians, and expresses hope that Israel can lease the territory for 200 years while helping the Syrians develop on the other side of the border. But he quickly concedes it’s not a very realistic scenario.

“With the way the Syrians are behaving now? I wouldn’t give one meter back,” he said. “For peace with Syria there has to be a new world order.”

Why Olmert Must Go

The fall of Israel's prime minister is both a warning and an opportunity for a country mired in corruption and moral decline.

Yossi Klein Halevi
The New Republic

Jerusalem--Forget the envelopes stuffed with dollars being passed to Ehud Olmert by American businessman Morris Talansky. Forget the favors Olmert solicited for Talansky's business interests. Forget that 70 percent of the public thinks he's lying when he insists he took nothing for himself and that the cash was intended only for his election campaigns. Forget the half-dozen other inquiries into Olmert's business dealings that have made him the most investigated prime minister in Israel's history. Forget, even, the summer of 2006, when Olmert, arrogant and incompetent in equal measure, led Israel to the first failed military campaign in its history and couldn't protect the homefront from its worst attacks since the founding of the state. Ehud Olmert must go because he doesn't understand why he must go. Incapable of shame, he has proved himself unworthy to lead a people who are fighting for their lives. For Olmert, there are no moral requirements for leadership. What I did is nothing compared to what others did, he is said to have complained to a confidant, and so summed up the ethos of his 35-year political career.

The end of Olmert's term is imminent. Labor leader and coalition partner Ehud Barak has finally said the obvious: Olmert cannot continue to govern while being preoccupied with overwhelming legal problems. And who here would trust a decision to invade Gaza or to withdraw from the Golan Heights made by a prime minister constantly seeking to divert attention from his personal woes?

No other Israeli prime minister ever based his continued governance on demoralizing rather than inspiring the public. In large part, Israelis haven't taken to the streets to bring Olmert down because, as they tell each other: They're all corrupt, so what difference does it make who is prime minister? Olmert has survived on cynicism, thrived on despair.

He represents a political culture that, left unchallenged, threatens to destroy Israel from within. Israel's leaders may be no more corrupt as a class than leaders elsewhere in the West. But that isn't good enough. Few leaders are forced to make life and death decisions so consistently as the leaders of Israel. The gap between the corruption at the top and the sacrifices of ordinary citizens--who serve in the army and then send their children to serve, and who pay among the world's highest taxes--has created an crisis in Israeli society. Olmert's ouster provides both a warning and an opportunity.

Why did we get to this point? One reason is that Israel was founded by revolutionaries who replaced the cautious morality of rabbinic Judaism with a rigorous but ultimately transient socialist ethic. The refugees who came from the Middle East and Eastern Europe were too disoriented to offer a cultural alternative. When socialism waned, the society lost its moral certainties. No official ethos has replaced Labor Zionism. Add three more factors--the rise of consumerism, the constant threat of war and terrorism, and the ongoing occupation--and the strain on ethical norms becomes formidable.

This ethical vaccuum has given rise to a class of politicians unparalleled in Israeli history in their disregard for personal morality--politicians like Moshe Katsav, the former president suspected of rape. Until the very end of his term, Katsav insisted that, like any citizen, he was innocent until proven guilty and so saw no reason to resign--even though the presidency is a ceremonial position whose sole responsibility is to uphold the honor of Israel.

Likewise, Olmert, who has made a career out of being technically innocent, acts even now as if keeping one step ahead of the law earns him the right to public trust. During repeated police questioning, the veteran head of his office, Shula Zaken, opted for silence. And Olmert's lawyers invoked legal technicalities to try to prevent Talansky from testifying before his return to New York--even though Olmert insists he has nothing to hide. Like Katsav, Olmert insists on the prerogatives of leadership while evading its ethical responsiblities.

The leadership crisis reflects a wider ethical crisis that has penetrated every sector of Israeli society--from ultra-Orthodox child molesters to kibbutzniks caught manufacturing cocaine in a homemade lab. There was a time, not that long ago, when murder was front page news in this country; now, once-inconceivable crimes have become routine. These days, when Israelis discuss "the situation," they are more likely referring to the country's ethical crisis than to Palestinian terrorism or the Iranian Bomb.

Who will replace Olmert? Probably Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the next in line in Olmert's party, Kadima. Though popular in the polls, Livni has little experience in security matters and has shown scant political courage in her relations with Olmert--for example, though she intially stood up to him over the Second Lebanon War, she quickly backed down. Her most notable achievement as foreign minister was negotiating the U.N.-sponsored ceasefire at the end of the war. That ceasefire has allowed Hezbollah to re-arm beyond its pre-war capacity, and last week's virtual takeover of the Lebanese government by Hezbollah is one more result of Livni's ceasefire. But in an environment where Israelis are looking for ethical strength as much as security expertise, Livni's greatest asset is the widespread if untested perception that she isn't corrupt. In the current atmosphere, that perception could carry her far.

Two fateful military decisions await the next leader: Should the government invade Gaza in an attempt to end the daily rocket attacks on Israel? And will it attack Iranian nuclear facilities? These challenges will need the support of the political system as a whole. Israelis' disenchanment with the country's political class means that none of Israel's current leaders has the clout to make those decisions alone. For that reason, the prospect of a national unity government, bringing together the Likud along with Kadima and Labor, will become increasingly compelling. When Olmert goes, Israel will have a chance to replace a monumentally failed leader with a collective of leaders who failed a little less miserably.

But even a unity government is only a temporary solution. The end of Olmert needs to begin a process that will end Olmertism, the acceptance of corruption as an unavoidable part of Israeli politics. The current generation of politicians who grew up in the culture of Olmertism needs to be replaced by a new generation--young people in their 30s and 40s who, for example, helped transform the Israeli economy and high-tech sector. Precisely because they reject corruption, and value excellence and dedication, those young people have shunned Israeli politics. But as the Olmert affair proves, the country can no longer leave its governance to the vain and merely ambitious men who have desecrated the name of Israel.

Yossi Klein Halevi is a contributing editor of The New Republic and a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

The Two-Pronged Assault On Religious Zionism

Caroline B. Glick

Israel's 2005 withdrawal from Gaza was presented to the world as a strategic bid to enhance prospects for peace between the Palestinians and Israel. Proponents of the move argued that removing all Israeli civilians and military personnel from Gaza would take away the source of Palestinian grievances. Once fully appeased, the Palestinians would be forced to behave responsibly, abjure terrorism and build their state – first in Gaza, and then in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem as well.
This was the pretext of Israel's withdrawal. But it wasn't the subtext. The subtext of the withdrawal – telegraphed to both Israelis and the international community – was that the withdrawal would cause the demise of Religious Zionism at the hands of the leftist progeny of Labor Zionists. That is, the operation wasn't about peace with the Arabs. It was about cultural supremacy within Israel.

In the countdown to the withdrawal, the Palestinians did everything they could to make clear the move would not enhance the chances for peace. They triumphantly declared that then-prime minister Ariel Sharon's decision to expel Gaza's Jews was an admission that Israel had been defeated by the Palestinians. Hamas was ascendant and both Hamas and Fatah declared repeatedly that they would continue their terror war until all of Israel was destroyed. And as the pretext crumbled, the subtext became more prominent.

Haaretz editorialized six weeks before the expulsion of Gaza's 8,000 Jews, "The disengagement of Israeli policy from its religious fuel is the real disengagement currently on the agenda. On the day after the disengagement, religious Zionism's status will be different. The real question is not how many mortar shells will fall, or who will guard the Philadelphi route [connecting Gaza with Egypt], or whether the Palestinians will dance of the roofs of Ganei Tal. The real question is who sets the national agenda."

Religious Zionist leaders were in a horrible bind. If they responded to the demands of their own people and fought fire with fire, they knew – given the Left's control of the media – they would be demonized for years to come. And they knew that if the Left succeeded in destroying their reputation among rank and file Israelis, they would be powerless to defend Judea and Samaria.

So in the end, Religious Zionist leaders disappointed their followers, making do with mass protests in the countdown to the expulsions and then allowing the IDF to carry out the expulsions largely unchallenged. While they failed to save Gaza's Jews from internal exile, they at least succeeded in preventing the demise of Religious Zionism as a political and social force in Israel.

Their success was acknowledged by . In the weeks that followed the expulsions, Haaretz columnist Orit Shochat bemoaned the fact that the campaign against Religious Zionism had not succeeded. As she put it, "Soldiers who experienced the evacuation won't travel to an ashram in India because they discovered that there is an ashram next door. The same Jewish religion that they hadn't seen up close for a long time embraces them into its fold with a song and a tear for a common fate. They have now sat arm-in-arm at the synagogues in Gush Katif, they have now felt the holiness mixed in sweat, they have now moved rhythmically and sung songs. They have stood in line to kiss the Torah scrolls. They are now half-inside."

Zionism's revolutionary message to Jewry was that after 2,000 years of powerlessness, Jews would again become actors on the global stage. But Zionism has many movements and not all of them are equally revolutionary. The two most significant Zionist movements today are Labor Zionism and Religious Zionism.

The inherent weakness of Labor Zionism is that it was never aimed specifically at enabling Jews to be Jews. Rather, its purpose was to enable Jews to be socialists. Understanding that the anti-Semitic climate in Europe in the early 20th century rendered Jewish assimilation into a larger socialist sea impossible, Labor Zionists argued that by establishing a Jewish state Jews would be "normalized" and accepted as regular people and socialists by the nations of the world. That is, Labor Zionism's message was assimilation on a national level rather than on an individual one since conditions in Europe precluded individual assimilation.

Labor Zionists have been confounded by the endurance of anti-Semitism and its transformation of Israel, though anti-Zionism, into the International Jew. The world's refusal to accept Israel as an equal has been shattering for them. It has caused Labor Zionists to abandon Zionism in the hopes that by doing so they will finally be accepted as equals by the nations of the world. At its core, Labor Zionism is outward seeking rather than inward looking.

In contrast, Religious Zionism is inward looking. It seeks to turn Jews into actors on the international stage as Jews. It also seeks to make Judaism responsive to the imperatives of an empowered people as it was responsive to the imperatives of Jews as a powerless people during the generations of exile. Because of its specific message to Jews as Jews, Religious Zionism is a pure revolutionary ideology.

Religious Zionists are a finger in the eye of the Labor Zionists for their stubborn devotion to Judaism and their relative indifference to whether Israel is accepted by the anti-Semites of the world. And Labor Zionists are not alone in their angry rejection of Religious Zionism's message. They are joined by the non-Zionist religious establishment.

The non-Zionist religious establishment feels threatened by Religious Zionism's attempts to reinvest Judaism with its nationalist mission for the Jewish nation. And, unfortunately, the non-Zionist religious establishment is joining forces with the Labor Zionist establishment to attack Religious Zionism.

In early May, a panel of three non-Zionist rabbinic judges on Jerusalem's High Rabbinic Court published a ruling in a divorce case declaring all the thousands of conversions carried out under the auspices of Religious Zionist Rabbi Chaim Druckman, and the state's Conversion Authority he headed, null and void. The court argued that Druckman did not investigate sufficiently whether the converts were committed to observing all the mitzvot. Piling on to the non-Zionist establishment's act, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week removed Druckman from his position as head of the Conversion Authority.

Both Rabbi Avraham Sherman, who wrote the rabbinical high court's decision, and Druckman's fellow Religious Zionist rabbis agree that the dispute is an attack on Religious Zionism's view of the role of religion in Israel rather than a strictly halachic disagreement. In his ruling, Sherman wrote of Druckman and his Religious Zionist colleagues in the Conversion Authority, "All these rabbis have one thing in common. They all see in conversion a sacred commandment as part of their national responsibility…. In other words, the conversion is not primarily the spiritual and religious need of the individual convert who wishes to join the Jewish people and accept upon himself all the commandments. Rather, conversion is a means of improving the spiritual situation of the entire Jewish nation living in Israel. It is a way of bringing Jews closer to their Judaism."

The Religious Zionist movement is up in arms over the ruling, which its leaders are calling an act of aggression and halachic malfeasance. Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, who heads the hesder yeshiva in Petach Tikvah and is considered a leading rabbinic authority in Religious Zionist circles, called Sherman's ruling "a desecration of God's name" and said that if it is not overturned he would set up independent conversion courts outside the aegis of the Chief Rabbinate.

Between the Labor Zionists' attempts to destroy Religious Zionism politically, and the non-Zionist rabbinic leadership's attempts to demonize it religiously, Religious Zionism has been under tremendous pressure in recent years. One can only hope its leaders will have the wisdom to persevere. Israel and the Jewish people need Religious Zionism more than anyone will ever admit.

Caroline Glick is deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Her Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the last week of each month.

Muslim workers complain to EEOC after firings for refusing to wear uniforms

Have you ever noticed how many of these things happen in Minneapolis? The Sharia cab controversy, the Target checkout personnel refusing to handle pork, the publicly-funded Islamic school, and now this. The Muslim Brotherhood -- the Muslim American Society -- was behind the cab controversy. Might it be behind these other things as well? "Muslim workers file complaint with EEOC over firings for refusal to wear uniforms," by Chris Serres for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, May 27 (thanks to Twostellas):

MINNEAPOLIS - A group of Muslim workers allege they were fired by a New Brighton, Minn., tortilla factory for refusing to wear uniforms that they say were immodest by Islamic standards.

Six Somali women claim they were ordered by a manager to wear pants and shirts to work instead of their traditional Islamic clothing of loose-fitting skirts and scarves, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a civil liberties group that is representing the women.

The women have filed a religious discrimination complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

''For these women, wearing tight-fitting pants is like being naked,'' said Valerie Shirley, a spokeswoman for the Minnesota chapter of CAIR. ''It's simply not an option.''

CAIR issued a press release calling on Mission Foods to reinstate the women in their jobs. However, the group declined to disclose the names of the women and would not make them available for interviews Tuesday.

Gruma Corporation, the Irving, Texas-based parent company of Mission Foods, released a written statement Tuesday denying that any employees were terminated or disciplined at the New Brighton plant. However, the company made clear the six women have been relieved of their responsibilities for the time being, and may ultimately lose their jobs if they don't wear uniforms.

''Should these employees choose to adhere to the current Mission Foods uniform policy, they may return to their positions with the company,'' the company statement said. ''However, these positions will need to be filled as soon as possible and cannot be held indefinitely.''...

Last year, some Muslim cashiers at Target Corp. were shifted to other positions inside stores after they refused to scan pork products because doing so would violate their religious beliefs. And in 2005, a group of 26 workers were either fired or suspended by an Arden Hills electronics manufacturer for violating the company's prayer rules, which set limits on the times they could break for prayers.

These women could just find jobs that don't require them to violate their standards of modesty. But instead, non-Muslims must adapt and accommodate Muslim demands. It is all part of the stealth jihad.

Thanks Dhimmi Watch

US congressmen demand UNRWA reform


A group of bipartisan US congressmen is urging reform in UNRWA, the UN body that deals exclusively with Palestinian refugees and their descendants, and calling for alternative solutions to the containment of refugees in squalid camps.

"The Palestinian refugees have been used as political pawns for the past 60 years by people who don't want peace in the Middle East," said Congressman Eliot Engel (D-New York) at a meeting of international parliamentarians hosted last week by the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, a bipartisan pro-Israel parliamentary group. "The UN has been part and parcel of this conspiracy," he said.

Engel, who co-chairs the parliamentary group - established as a sister-caucus to the Knesset's Christian Allies Caucus - said that UNRWA, which was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1949 to carry out relief and works programs for Palestinian refugees, was actually designed to perpetuate the festering sore of the refugee problem.

"Instead of resettling them, UNRWA keeps them in refugee camps," Engel said. "The Palestinians are in the refugee camps because the Arab nations want them in refugee camps in order to perpetuate political hatred against Israel."

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians - with estimates ranging from 400,000 to 750,000 - fled their homes in 1948, and they, along with their millions of descendants, make up one of the most prickly issues Israeli and Palestinian negotiators must deal with as part of any resolution to the conflict.

The issue of the Palestinian refugees has been largely untouched in Israel for years due to the Palestinian demand for the refugees' right of return, which Israel flatly rejects. UNRWA's definition of refugees includes not only the refugees themselves, but also their descendants. As such, the number of Palestinian refugees listed with the organization has mushroomed from over 900,000 in 1950 to 4.5 million today.

About one-third of the Palestinians listed as refugees, or about 1.3 million people, live in 58 refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria the West Bank and Gaza, which critics say have become hotbeds of Palestinian terrorism.

US Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) said it was an "international disgrace" that the US, which is the biggest funder of UNRWA, would allow the growth of the number of refugees.

In contrast to the main UN refugee agency, UNHCR, which assists and resettles refugees from around the world and has an international team of around 6,300 employees, more than 99 percent of UNRWA's 25,000-strong staff members are locally recruited Palestinians - almost all of them Palestinian refugees or their descendants, and some of them members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, groups both the US and the EU classify as terror organizations.

UNRWA, which operated on a cash budget of $487 million in 2007 - excluding special appeals for additional funding - receives most of its money from the US, European Commission, Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Four years ago, amid persistent reports that the group was turning a blind eye to Palestinian terrorism, then-UNRWA commissioner-general Peter Hansen publicly admitted for the first time that Hamas members were on the UNRWA payroll.

"I don't see that as a crime. Hamas as a political organization does not mean that every member is a militant, and we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another," he said.

"The organization's record would not stand up to scrutiny of its donors in the US or Europe," said Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), blasting UNRWA for its "lack of international standards and arrogance about accountability."

A UNRWA spokesman in Israel did not return an e-mail request Tuesday for comment.

Recently, some Israeli parliamentarians have begun to openly advocate dealing with the refugee issue.

"It has been a big mistake not to deal with the issue of the Palestinian refugees," MK Benny Elon (NU/NRP), who favors dealing with the issue head-on for humanitarian reasons, said at the Capitol Hill gathering.

A cornerstone of Elon's recent diplomatic initiative includes dismantling UNRWA and resettling the Palestinian refugees into countries outside of Israel, in keeping with longstanding Israeli policy that an influx of refugees would demographically damage the country's character as a Jewish state.

"Without the rehabilitation of Palestinian refugees, no peace will come," Elon said at the conference, which he attended as chairman of the Christian Allies Caucus.

"We are excited about our network of parliamentary sister caucuses taking on the real issues we face and challenging their respective governments to stand steadfast with Israel," said Caucus Director Josh Reinstein.

Meanwhile, amid increased scrutiny over UNRWA's role, an Israeli academic said in a paper released Tuesday that UNRWA should be dissolved, and the services it provides should be transferred to other UN agencies, notably the UNHCR.

"UNRWA perpetuates, rather than resolves, the Palestinian refugee issue, and therefore serves as a major obstacle toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," wrote Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the IDC Herzliya, in a paper titled "UNRWA: Barrier to Peace."

In the absence of a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem, the UN General Assembly has repeatedly renewed UNRWA's mandate, recently extending it until June 30, 2011.

The General Assembly, dominated by the Arab bloc and anti-Western countries, is unlikely ever to change the UNRWA mandate, officials said.

CAIR Board Chairman: War on Terror is war against Islam

There is a great deal of whining victimology in this article. I have not reproduced below the material about the disproportionate percentage of Muslims in European prisons. There is in the article, of course, no consideration at all of the possibility that they might commit crimes at a higher rate than the general population, out of their contempt for non-Muslims and non-Muslim society and law.But note below Parvez Ahmed's wild claims that the PC American establishment, for all its fear of talking about jihad and its tiptoeing around the ideology that motivates the jihadists, is actually at war with Islam, and his relativistic "terrorism is in the eye of the beholder" nonsense. And then remember: this guy is, in the eyes of the government and media establishments, a leading American "moderate."

"War on terror is war on Islam, says advocate," by Nisa Islam Muhammad in Farrakhan's The Final Call, May 28 (thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist):

WASHINGTON ( - The global war on terror has become a thinly veiled excuse to wage a global war on Islam with increased arrests of Muslims, calls for regime change in Muslim countries and racial profiling, according to a leader with a national Islamic organization.

“The tactic of terrorism—and yes it is a tactic, not an ideology—has been deployed by a multitude of groups of different religions, ethnicities and ideologies and yet the Islamic faith, unlike any other, is erroneously and incessantly associated with terrorism,” said Dr. Parvez Ahmed, a national board member of the Council on American Islamic Relations. “The association of a faith practiced by 1.2 billion people worldwide to terrorism creates the perception that the GWOT is a war against Islam.”

Around the world since 2001 there have been increases in the arrest and detention of Muslims.

Dr. Ahmed explained that right after 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, the federal government subjected 80,000 Arab and Muslim immigrants to fingerprinting and registration, sought out 8,000 Arab and Muslim men for FBI interviews and imprisoned over 5,000 foreign nationals in anti-terrorism preventive detention compounds.

“These arrests and detentions did not result in the conviction of a single person for a terrorist crime. Thus the U.S. government’s record for the largest ethnic profiling campaign stood at 0 for 93,000,” he said.


“Between 1980 and 2003, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelan, a group that recruits from the predominantly Hindu Tamil population in Sri Lanka and whose ideology is intertwined with Marxism, was the world’s leader in suicide terrorism. Despite this, Islamic groups receive the most attention in the Western media,” said Dr. Ahmed.

“Suicide bombings are the product of modern political violence. Suicide bombings by Muslims are not the result of any Islamic ideology, but rather they are the result of the sociopolitical conditions of occupations (such as Palestine, Chechnya and Iraq) and the outcome of proxy wars fought in Afghanistan, where America not only armed the mujihadeen, but also enabled a culture of drugs and violence,” he said.

Dr. Ahmed also noted that terrorism is a word generally applied to “one’s enemies or those with whom one disagrees.”

“Hence the decision to call someone or label some organization ‘terrorist’ becomes almost unavoidably subjective, depending largely on whether one sympathizes with or opposes the person/group/cause concerned,” he said.

“If one identifies with the victim of the violence, for example, then the act is terrorism. If, however, one identifies with the perpetrator, the violent act is regarded in a more sympathetic, if not positive (or worst, an ambivalent) light; and is not terrorism,” Dr. Ahmed said....

UPDATE: Patrick Poole kindly points out that Parvez Ahmed is simply parroting Osama bin Laden.

Thanks Jihad Watch

Church of England: UK will be "Islamic nation" in 2038

"This progress has been enthusiastically assisted by this government in particular with its hard-line multi-cultural dogma and willingness to concede to virtually every demand made by Muslims.""Religious trends and our religious future," from the Church of England News (thanks to LGF):

If recent reports of trends in religious observance prove to be correct, then in some 30 years the mosque will be able to claim that, religiously speaking, the UK is an Islamic nation, and therefore needs a share in any religious establishment to reflect this. The progress of conservative Islam in the UK has been amazing, and it has come at a time of prolonged decline in church attendance that seems likely to continue.

This progress has been enthusiastically assisted by this government in particular with its hard-line multi-cultural dogma and willingness to concede to virtually every demand made by Muslims. Perhaps most importantly the government has chosen to allow hard-liners to act as representing all Muslims, and more liberal Muslims have almost completely failed to produce any leadership voices to compete, leading many Britons to wonder if there are indeed many liberal Muslims at all, surely a mistake.


At all levels of national life Islam has gained state funding, protection from any criticism, and the insertion of advisors and experts in government departs national and local. A Muslim Home Office adviser, for example, was responsible for Baroness Scotland’s aborting of the legislation against honour killings, arguing that informal methods would be better. In the police we hear of girls under police protection having the addresses of their safe houses disclosed to their parents by Muslim officers who think they are doing their religious duty.

While men-only gentlemen’s clubs are now being dubbed unlawful, we hear of municipal swimming baths encouraging ‘Muslim women only’ sessions and in Dewsbury Hospitals staff waste time by turning beds to face Mecca five times a day — a Monty Pythonesque scenario of lunacy, but astonishingly true. Prisons are replete with imams who are keen to inculcate conservative Islam in any inmates who are deemed to be culturally ‘Muslim’: the Prison service in effect treats such prisoners as a cultural block to be preached to by imams at will. Would the Prison service send all those with ‘C of E’ on their papers to confirmation classes with the chaplain?! We could go on.

The point is that Islam is being institutionalised, incarnated, into national structures amazingly fast, at the same time as demography is showing very high birthrates. Charles Taylor’s new and classic work on the Secular Age charts the rise of the secular mindset and what he calls the ‘excarnation’ of Christianity as it is levered out of state policy and structures. Christianity is now regarded as bad news, the liberal elite’s attack developed in the 1960s took root in the educationalist empire, and to some extent even in areas of the church.

Today the Christian story is fading from public imagination, while Islam grows apace. There needs to be some fresh thinking in this area where the claims of Christ are sensitively explained. Our church leaders must develop ways of explaining this, as our feature on mission and evangelism this week demonstrates.


Mort Klein

Imad Sa'ad is a 25-year old Palestinian Authority (PA) police officer who has been arrested by Mahmoud Abbas's forces for providing Israel with information about the whereabouts of four accused Palestinian terrorists. The PA had been unwilling to hand over to Israel the four men whom Sa'ad helped it locate. For this act, Sa'ad has been convicted as a "collaborator" in a PA court in Hebron by a judge belonging to Abbas's Fatah party and sentenced to death by firing squad. Now wait a minute. The Oslo agreements require the PA to extradite to Israel wanted terrorists and to cooperate with Israel in combating terrorism. Under the 2003 road map peace plan, the PA is required to "disrupt and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere," which is exactly what Imad Sa'ad did. In fact, what Sa'ad did should be routine conduct by PA police. Instead, it is an exceptional act punishable by death.

Imagine the situation if we were discussing Israel. There cannot be any doubt that, if an Israeli police officer had tipped off the PA about an impending terror attack by a Jew upon Palestinians, Israel would be honoring him as a hero. It would certainly not be arresting him and sentencing him to death - and there would be (correctly) outrage if it did. Yet, the PA is doing precisely this - and has done so many times in the past.

FAR FROM cooperating in the fight against terrorism, the PA has a long record of executing what it terms "collaborators." Amnesty International reported in 2003 that "Scores of Palestinians suspected of 'collaboration' with Israeli intelligence services were unlawfully killed. Most of these killings seemed to have been carried out by members of armed groups or by armed individuals. Some appeared to be extrajudicial executions carried out by members of Palestinian security services. The PA consistently failed to investigate these killings and none of the perpetrators was brought to justice."

Despite this episode and Abbas's continuing promotion of terrorism, refusal to arrest terrorists, and incitement to hatred and violence within the PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps, President George W. Bush persists in saying of Mahmoud Abbas that "The president is a man of peace... He's a man of vision. He rejects the idea of using violence to achieve objectives."

Also, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised Mahmoud Abbas this week while visiting Ramallah, and particularly his leadership of the security services, saying, "It takes some time to deal with the effects of the intifada, but a lot of it has to do with responsible actions by the Palestinian government and the Palestinian Authority which are really now in place... And because of that, I think you are going to see improvements on the West Bank."

This is unmerited praise, to put it mildly. Instead, this event should serve as a clear, straightforward litmus test: Does Mahmoud Abbas support preventing terrorism and jailing terrorists? Is he opposed to terrorism? Does he regard terrorism as the enemy of the peace to which he tells Western audiences he is dedicated? If so, he should be applauding and honoring Imad Sa'ad for doing his duty in fighting terror and assisting the Israelis in doing so, as per the PA's signed obligations under Oslo and the road map. At the very least, he should be immediately releasing Imad Sa'ad from prison. In reality, he has done the opposite and may even have him executed.

IRONICALLY, AT the very time Abbas' court sentences to death a Palestinian who fulfilled a Palestinian signed obligation to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, Abbas continues to demand that Israel release terrorists it has succeeded in arresting. If Abbas was the man of peace and moderation that he is incessantly described as being by President Bush and Secretary Rice and Prime Minister Olmert, why would he be imprisoning someone who fights terror while demanding that jailed terrorists go free?

In the past Yasser Arafat executed swiftly several so-called "collaborators." During the intifada, he threatened the late Elias Freij, then the mayor of Bethlehem, with "ten bullets in the chest" for the sin of calling publicly for stopping the violence. We see now that Mahmoud Abbas is little different from Arafat.

If the PA does not release Sa'ad, Israel and the US should immediately cease all aid and break off talks with Abbas and the PA. There is no sense or morality in having peace negotiations with someone who arrests or executes those who help fight terrorists while protecting real terrorists, inciting hatred and murder that feed terrorism and demanding that jailed terrorists go free.

The writer is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.

Constantinople fell just 555 years ago

Clifford D. May
There’s an anniversary this week we might do well to recall. On May 29, 1453 — just 555 short years ago — troops led by Mehmed II broke through the walls of the ancient Christian capital of Constantinople.

Mehmed the Conqueror — as he would be known from that day forward — rode triumphantly into the city on a white horse. Soon, churches would be converted into mosques. Constantinople would become Istanbul.

“For the West this was a dark moment,” writes historian Efraim Karsh in his masterful book, Islamic Imperialism. “For Islam it was a cause for celebration. For nearly a millennium Constantinople had been the foremost barrier — physically and ideologically — to Islam’s sustained drive for world conquest and the object of desire of numerous Muslim rulers.”Mehmed cast himself as not just as a master builder of the Ottoman Empire, but also as the caliph — the supreme spiritual and temporal ruler of all the world’s Muslims, chosen to “act as Allah’s Sword ‘blazing forth the way of Islam from the East to West.’ ” He would go on to conquer Greece, Serbia, the Balkans south of the Danube and the Crimean peninsula. His grandson and great grandson would extend the caliphate to include the Levant, Egypt, the Arabian Hijaz including the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, Iraq, North Africa, and most of Hungary.

The desire to conquer the world — or even just one’s neighbors — is hardly an Islamic invention. Genghis Khan is not a name: It’s a title. It means “universal ruler.” The man history knows as Genghis Khan believed it was his divinely ordained mission to lead the Mongols to global domination.

And he loved his work. “Man’s highest joy is victory: to conquer his enemies,” he said, “to pursue them; to deprive them of their possessions; to make their beloved weep; to ride on their horses; and to embrace their wives and daughters.”

Upon entering the city of Bukhara in 1220 he proclaimed: “If you had not committed great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”

Genghis Khan was a pagan, a shamanist, as was his descendant, Hulagu, who in 1258 conquered Baghdad — among the world’s most sophisticated cities at the time — and executed the reigning caliph.

A few years ago, Osama bin Laden, on one of his audio tapes, compared Colin Powell and Dick Cheney to Hulagu, saying they had inflicted more damage upon Baghdad in the 1991 Gulf War than had the Mongol king. Bin Laden may take some consolation in the fact that Hulagu’s son, and many other members of the ruling Mongol elite, eventually embraced Islam. (Whether the same will be true of the heirs of Powell and Cheney only time will tell.)

For centuries, the world was spun by what Nietzsche called the “will to power.” Africa and the Americas were conquered by European Christians. Napoleon was crowned emperor by the Pope. Tojo fought to expand Japan’s empire. Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin conquered in the name of totalitarian ideologies.

In recent years, however, the West has rejected not just Genghis Khan’s perspective on the joys of conquering, but the very idea of empire building, at least through martial means. Indeed, so thorough has this rejection been that many Americans and Europeans can no longer imagine anyone continuing to harbor such ambitions.

On that basis, they further assume that violence and terrorism — from the attacks of 9/11 to the missiles raining on Israel to the suicide-bombings in the marketplaces of Iraq — must be a response to oppression or occupation or some other “legitimate grievance.” History suggests otherwise. So, too, do the leaders of the various modern militant Islamist movements.

“We are in the process of an historical war between the World of Arrogance and the Islamic world,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has declared, “and this war has been going on for hundreds of years.”

“We are not fighting so that you will offer us something,” said Hussein Massawi, a former leader of Hezbollah. “We are fighting to eliminate you.”

“Rome will become an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread though Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, even Eastern Europe,” Yunis al-Astal, a Muslim cleric and Hamas parliamentarian has pledged. “Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our prophet Muhammad.”

Mehmed the Conqueror would understand, though his defenders would say he was never quite as radical as are the Islamic warriors of the contemporary era.

— Clifford D. May, a former New York Times foreign correspondent, is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a policy institute focusing on terrorism.

News of the Israeli-Palestinian Confrontation

May 20-27, 2008


This week events focused on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's attempted mass-killing suicide attack at the Erez Crossing, using a truck filled with explosives. The truck blew up but no injuries were caused to the soldiers and civilians at the crossing. The Erez and other crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip continue as preferred targets for the Palestinian terrorist organizations despite the fact that aid vital to the Gaza Strip population passes through them.

Khaled Mashal and a delegation of high-level members of Hamas's political bureau are currently on a visit to Iran , prompted by the indirect Israeli-Syrian negotiations and the Egyptian initiative for a lull in the fighting. During the visit senior Iranians expressed their support for Hamas and the “resistance” (i.e., Palestinian terrorism and violence). On the practical level, the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported on May 25 that Iran had agreed to increase its financial aid to Hamas and to deliver the weapons it requested, including upgraded rockets manufactured by Iran 's weapons industry.

This week events focused on the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's attempted mass-killing suicide attack at the Erez Crossing, using a truck filled with explosives. The truck blew up but no injuries were caused to the soldiers and civilians at the crossing. The Erez and other crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip continue as preferred targets for the Palestinian terrorist organizations despite the fact that aid vital to the Gaza Strip population passes through them.

Khaled Mashal and a delegation of high-level members of Hamas's political bureau are currently on a visit to Iran , prompted by the indirect Israeli-Syrian negotiations and the Egyptian initiative for a lull in the fighting. During the visit senior Iranians expressed their support for Hamas and the “resistance” (i.e., Palestinian terrorism and violence). On the practical level, the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported on May 25 that Iran had agreed to increase its financial aid to Hamas and to deliver the weapons it requested, including upgraded rockets manufactured by Iran 's weapons industry.

Important Events

Rocket fire from the Gaza Strip

This past week there was a decline in the amount of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, with a total of 13 identified hits in Israeli territory compared with 37 during the previous week. Two of the rockets were 122mm standard Grad rockets, both fired on May 24 at the southern city of Netivot , now also a target. In addition, 23 mortar shells were fired at IDF forces operating in the Gaza Strip and at Israeli population centers close to the security fence, compared with 17 the previous week.
During the past week Hamas's participation in rocket fire was evident. On May 23 Hamas claimed responsibility for two rockets fired at Sderot (Al-Quds Website, May 23), and for rockets and mortar shells fired at IDF forces and population centers near the Gaza Strip. The PIJ, the PFLP and Fatah also participated in the rocket fire.

Attempted suicide bomber attack at the Erez Crossing

In the early morning hours of May 22 a truck carrying tons of explosives arrived at the Erez Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip and blew up. A short time later the Israeli Air Force attacked a vehicle near the crossing which was apparently to be used to abduct IDF soldiers during the attack.1 A PIJ video clip claiming responsibility showed the suicide bomber, Ibrahim Muhammad Ibrahim Nasser sitting in front of the organization's flag and with an assault rifle slung over his shoulder, reading his “will” (Al-Alam TV, May 23). Had the attack succeeded, it would have caused many casualties among the IDF soldiers and the civilians working for the Coordination and Liaison Administration at the Erez Crossing.

Following the attack the Erez Crossing was closed for repairs. On May 26 it was reopened and Gazan civilians with humanitarian problems were permitted to enter Israel . The other Gaza Strip crossings operate as usual, with the exception of the Kerem Shalom Crossing which has remained closed since the attempted attack on April 19.

The explosion completely destroyed the main lines which provide electricity from the power plant in Ashqelon to wide stretches of the northern Gaza Strip (Beit Lahia, Beit Hanoun, Al-Atatra and Jabaliya). Jamal al-Dardasawi of the Gaza Strip electric company called for the northern Gaza Strip to be rescued from a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

In recent months the IDF has been trying to temporarily move the soldiers and civilians working for the Coordination and Liaison Administration from their base, which is the one closest to the Gaza Strip. The intention is to avoid unnecessary danger while continuing the crossing's humanitarian activities. The Hamas media represented the Israeli decision to evacuate the area as an achievement for the Palestinian terrorist organizations.

Counterterrorist Activities

The Gaza Strip

During the past week the Israeli security forces continued their activities against terrorist squads attempting to carry out attacks from the Gaza Strip:

• May 25 – An IED was exploded by IDF forces near the security fence in the southern Gaza strip.

• May 23 – An IDF force observed two armed terrorist operatives near the security fence in the central Gaza Strip. The terrorists opened fire and the soldiers returned fire and killed them. The two were on their way to plant an IED near the security fence. They were found to be wearing bullet-proof vests and carrying light weapons and hand grenades. The PIJ's Jerusalem Battalions posted an announcement of their deaths (Jerusalem Battalions Website, May 23).

• May 23 – In the southern Gaza strip the IDF attacked a number of terrorist operatives equipped with anti-tank missiles. Hamas's Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades reported the deaths of three of their operatives (Al-Qassam Website, May 23).

• May 21 – During the morning hours an IDF force uncovered an IED planted near the security fence in the northern Gaza Strip. It was detonated in a controlled explosion

Judea and Samaria

Counterterrorist activities continued in Judea and Samaria against the terrorist organizations which continue their efforts to attack Israeli civilians and security forces, resulting in a number of detentions:

• May 25 – During a joint Israeli security forces' activity, Ali Issa Muhammad Turmusuni , 24, Fatah-Tanzim operative from the Amari refugee camp in Ramallah, was detained. He is an arms dealer who was involved in shooting attacks and also prepared IEDs. In July 2007 he was included in the wanted terrorists' agreement2 but nevertheless continued his terrorist activity. He was involved in planning the abductions of Israelis and in shooting attacks at the IDF crossing point near Ramallah (IDF Spokesman's Website, May 25).

• May 22 – During a joint Israeli security forces' activity Qais Muhammad Hussein Qadoumi , 23, was detained. He was the last member to be arrested of the terrorist squad responsible for the drive- by shooting near the settlement of Kidumim in November 2007 which killed Idan Zoldan. 3

• May 22 – During a joint Israeli security forces' activity, Mustafa Shaabu Nofal , a Fatah-Tanzim operative, was detained.

The Initiative for a Lull in the Fighting

Israeli-Egyptian contacts

On May 25 General Amos Gilad, head of the Ministry of Defense's political-security branch, met with Egyptian General Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. They did not succeed in resolving the differences of opinion about the lull in the fighting, however Egypt 's contacts with both Israel and Hamas are expected to continue.

According to reports in the Israeli and Arab media, the disagreements center around lifting the blockade of the Gaza Strip and the release of Gilad Shalit, the abducted Israeli soldier. Hamas insists that the Rafah and other crossings are to be opened concurrently with the lull. Israel , on the other hand, is of the opinion that the crossing will be opened after a period of continued quiet and with genuine progress made in the issue of Gilad Shalit. In addition, Hamas refuses to agree to end the smuggling of arms, money and operatives into the Gaza Strip though the tunnels and by sea, claiming that they have no control over it (Felesteen, May 26; Al-Hayat, May 22; Filastin al-‘An Website, May 21; Al-Aqsa TV, May 22; Haaretz, May 26).

Khaled Mashal, head of the Hamas political bureau in Damascus , currently visiting Iran , gave an interview to the Iranian news agency Fars in which he also discussed the lull initiative. He said that three Hamas conditions had to be met: an immediate cessation of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip, the lifting of the blockade and the opening of the crossings. He noted that Hamas talks with Egypt regarding the lull were being carried out from a position of strength and threatened that if the blockade continued it would be “broken” by Hamas (i.e., by force) (Fars News Agency, May 26).

Hamas organizes “popular activity” to break through the blockade of the Gaza Strip

Hamas has recently organized “popular activity” to break through the blockade of the Gaza Strip while maintaining contacts with Egypt regarding the lull. On May 22 Hamas organized a demonstration at the Karni Crossing attended by several hundred civilians.

The procession approached the crossing as planned while stones were thrown at IDF forces. Initially the IDF force tried to disperse the demonstrators with riot control equipment. When armed men were observed among them, the IDF forces fired at their legs, and fire was returned (Ynet, May 22). Hamas issued a report stating that one of the demonstrators, a 22-year old man, had been killed and that dozens had been wounded (Palestine-info Website, May 22).

The Hamas newspaper Al-Risala, which covered the demonstration, wrote that Hamas could exert “popular pressure” to open the Rafah Crossing , and by other demonstrations which would also target the Egyptian border crossing . According to the paper, on Thursday, May 29, a similar demonstration is expected to be held at the Sufa Crossing (Al-Risala, May 26). Ashraf Abu Diyya, a spokesman for Hamas “public activities,” said that such events would continue in the coming days and increase “to break through the blockade imposed on our people under the shadow of pan-Arab and international silence” (Filastin al-‘An Website, May 22).

The Internal Palestinian Arena

The Palestinian investment conference in Bethlehem

On May 21-23 an investment conference was held in Bethlehem to encourage investments in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza Strip. At the end of the conference PA prime minister Salam Fayyad said that it had produced initiatives and projects worth $1.4 billion , that it had fulfilled its objectives and that the agreements signed would give the Palestinian economy a push forward (Wafa News Agency, May 23).

The conference was quiet and there were no special events, with the exception of a incident which occurred when the Qatari representatives were insulted by members of the radical Islamic Liberation Party, when they arrived at the Temple Mount to pray on Friday. Members of the Libration Party, whose activity has increased in Judea and Samaria during the past year yelled “ Palestine needs jihad fighters, not investors.”

1 For further information see our May 22, 2008 Bulletin entitled “An attempted mass-killing attack was prevented when a truck carrying explosives blew up near the Erez Crossing” .

2 According to the agreement, wanted terrorists who participate in it commited themselves to abandoning terrorism and turn over their weapons.

3 For further information see our November 20, 2007 Bulletin entitled “Terrorist attacks and the propaganda campaign to undermine the Annapolis meeting” .

4 On May 25 the Jerusalem Post reported that the possibility of moving the Hamas political bureau from Damascus to Tehran had been raised in the talks.