Perhaps Olmert Is Learning, And Maybe We’re Not

Perhaps Olmert Is Learning, And Maybe We’re Not

A day after offering a broad, if familiar, view of a path for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the Olmert government now signals that they will stop offering any more concessions until Hamas returns Gilad Shalit from captivity. All of Israel’s offers of opened commerce and prisoner returns will remain on hold until they have Shalit:

There is unlikely to be any additional progress in the suddenly rejuvenated diplomatic process until Cpl. Gilad Shalit is released, a senior diplomatic source said Tuesday, on the eve of a visit by Egyptian Intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.Suleiman met last week in Cairo with Damascus-based Hamas head Khaled Mashaal, who Israel believes holds the key to Shalit’s fate.

The official hinted that expanding the cease-fire from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank would also be dependent on the release of Shalit, who has been held since June 25.

“Until the Shalit issue is solved, it will now be difficult to move forward with any confidence-building steps with the Palestinians beyond the decision Sunday to move the IDF out of Gaza,” the official said.

According to the official, the Palestinian failure to release Shalit is holding up a large release of Palestinian security prisoners and other steps that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert mentioned in his Sde Boker address Monday, such as removing road blocks, allowing more freedom of movement and opening border crossings. Olmert said in his speech that he would even release prisoners “serving long-term sentences.”

This new tenacity comes a little late. Apparently, Olmert has agreed in principle to allow the Badr Brigade to return from Jordan to Gaza to assist Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah gain some control where Hamas has its power base. Washington gave its support to the plan when Olmert visited the US two weeks ago, which will allow 1200 “troops” formerly under the command of Yasser Arafat to operate within the territories.

I’m not sure why the US wants more terrorists in Gaza, but it seems we do. The thinking must be that Abbas is a partner for peace … and therefore he needs more terrorists in order to prevail over Hamas and the gang war in progress in Gaza. Perhaps we believe that Fatah represents a much better hope for a negotiated peace, but so far, that has not been demonstrated by any evidence at all. In fact, we have seen this week that Fatah continues to actively participate in terrorism against Israel by shooting Qassams from Gaza into Sderot, giving Islamic Jihad a break from its launcher duties.

Is this more Baker-Scowcroft realpolitik? Or is it just another case of wishful thinking on the capacity for peace from current Palestinian leadership? If we’ve reduced ourselves to having to choose which flavor of terrorism we’ll tolerate, we have dramatically lowered our expectations on the war against terrorists, probably to the point of losing entirely.

Olmert, for once, provides an example of firmness on the issue. He will not allow the Badr Brigade to move into Gaza nor any of his other offers to take effect until the Palestinians return Shalit, unharmed. That might be the start of a more realistic look at the futility of appeasement, a lesson that the West needs to learn all over again, it would seem.

Pope turns other cheek to Muslim Turkey

Pope turns other cheek to Muslim Turkey
Richard Owen, Ankara

30nov06

THE Pope has reversed his opposition to Turkey’s efforts to join the EU, appearing to back the overwhelmingly Muslim country’s hard-fought push towards membership at the start of his visit.

Benedict XVI appealed for Christian-Muslim reconciliation and called on all religious leaders to “utterly refuse to support any form of violence in the name of faith”. His controversial and potentially hazardous visit – originally intended to improve relations between Catholics and Orthodox Christians – was “pastoral, not political”, he insisted late on Tuesday. But there were immediate tensions after the country’s top Muslim official accused him of stirring up Islamophobia.

The build-up to the Pope’s four-day visit has been marked by setbacks in Turkey’s bid for EU membership – which the Pope as a cardinal once called a “grave error” – and anger in the Muslim world over the Pope’s contentious remarks about Islam in a university address two months ago.

But Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan put resentments aside on Tuesday by agreeing to greet the Pope at Ankara airport and hold talks there.

Following the meeting, he was quick to claim the Pope had expressed hope that Turkey would join the EU.

A papal spokesman later clarified the remarks, saying the Pope had told the Turkish leader the Vatican did not have the power to intervene, but “viewed positively and encouraged” the process of Turkey’s entry into the EU “on the basis of common values and principles”.

In a break with protocol, Mr Erdogan greeted the Pope, 79, at the steps of his plane, a mark of respect from a leader who had initially said he was too busy to meet the pontiff.

The Pope in turn appeared to nod understandingly when Mr Erdogan explained he had to attend the NATO summit in Riga. Mr Erdogan said: “The most important message the Pope gave was toward Islam, reiterating his view of Islam as peaceful and affectionate.”

The Pope’s visit is sensitive – a closely watched pilgrimage full of symbolism that could offer hope of religious reconciliation or deepen what many say is the growing divide between the Christian and Islamic worlds.

He clearly made reconciliation a priority on his first day.

Among a series of taxing meetings was a dialogue with Ali Bardakoglu, head of the Religious Affairs Directorate and Turkey’s top Muslim official.

Dr Bardakoglu accused the Pope of encouraging Islamophobia with his remarks at Regensburg University two months ago, when the Pope quoted a medieval Christian emperor who had linked Islam to violence and inhumanity.

He lectured an uncomfortable-looking Pope, telling him: “When religious leaders come together, they should concentrate on solving the common problems of mankind without trying to demonstrate the superiority of their own beliefs.”

Islamophobia was regrettable and based on prejudice, rather than any “scientific or historical research or data”, he said.

“We are members of a religion which assumes that killing an innocent person is a heavy crime and a sin.”

Sitting on the stage next to Dr Bardakoglu, the Pope did not react to the statement. But he did retract comments he made in 2004, opposing Turkish membership of the EU, saying he now favoured the move.

The Pope praised “the flowering of Islamic civilisation” in Turkey and said Christians and Muslims both valued the sacred and “the dignity of the person”.

“This is the basis of our mutual respect and esteem,” he said. “We are called to work together via authentic dialogue.”

The Pope later told diplomats that leaders of all religions must “utterly refuse to sanction recourse to violence as a legitimate expression of faith”.

Those comments could be reinforced later this week when the Pope meets in Istanbul with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians

The Helpless Majority

The Helpless Majority
By Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
FrontPageMagazine.com | November 29, 2006

For all of the dire warnings and pre-election commotion about the impact of a Democratic majority in Congress, the fact is that – now that it is upon us – it can do little or nothing but harass the administration.

There is no real danger of any legislative action emerging from this Congress. Yes, the president has a veto the Democrats cannot override, but nothing will ever make it as far as the desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., are just spinning their wheels.

In the Senate, there is no such thing as a majority. Ever since the elder Bush’s administration, the filibuster has become routine. No longer reserved for civil-rights issues or for egregious legislation, it now is used to counter even motions for recess and adjournment. Members of the Senate are no longer subjected to the indignity of standing on their feet and reading a telephone book. Rather, the gentlemen’s filibuster applies.

The majority leader phones the minority leader and asks if a filibuster is in effect. With his feet up on his desk, the Republican replies that it is and the Democrat, despite his majority, does not even think about bringing up his bill for consideration unless he has a good shot at the 60 votes required to shut off debate. In the Senate, 51 votes determine who gets the corner office, but to pass legislation, one needs 60.

In the House of Representatives, with its 435 members, the Republican Party needed a simple majority – 218 – to rule. The Democrats need considerably more. The normal rules of a mathematical majority do not take into account the fractious nature of the Democratic Party.

Where the Republican majority best resembled the Prussian Army – disciplined, unified and determined – the Democratic majority in the upcoming Congress is disunited, dispersed and divided into myriad caucuses and special interest groups. One could purchase the Republican majority wholesale by making a deal with the speaker and the majority leader. But to get the Democratic majority in line, one has to buy it retail — caucus by caucus.

First, one has to go to check with the Black Caucus — hat in hand — to see if one’s bill has enough liberal giveaways to round up its forty or so votes. Thence to the Hispanic Caucus for a similar screening. Then, with one’s legislation weighted down with liberal provisions added by these two groups, one has to sell it to the Democratic Leadership Council moderates and, even worse, to the Blue Dog Democrats — the out and out conservatives.

If you are fortunate enough to pass these contradictory litmus tests, you then have to go to the environmentalists, the labor people, and even the gays to see that your bill passes muster. Only then can you begin to hope for House passage.

The result of this labyrinth is that the relatively moderate bill you first sought to pass ends up like a Christmas tree, laden with ornaments added to appease each of the caucuses. Unrecognizable in its final form, it heads to House passage.

This road map will be familiar to all veterans of the Clinton White House of 1993 and 1994. The most recent administration that had to deal with a Democratic House, the shopping from caucus to caucus and the festooning of moderate legislation with all manner of amendments will seem dejà vu to all of the early Clintonites. When Clinton proposed an anti-crime bill with a federal death penalty, he needed to add pork projects in the inner city like midnight basketball to get it past the Democrats in the House.

Nancy Pelosi will face the same obstacle. By the time her legislation emerges from the lower chamber, it will bear little resemblance to what she had in mind, liberal as that might have been. As Clinton said, after he watched the mangling of his legislative program by the various caucuses in the House, “I didn’t even recognize myself.”

Once the highly amended liberal legislation emerges from the House, it will make easy fodder for a Senate filibuster. So left leaning that it stands no chance of attracting 60 votes, it will be dead-on-arrival.

So forget the nightmares about an amended Patriot Act or restrictions on wiretapping for homeland security. Don’t worry about House Ways and Means Chairman Charlie Rangel’s, D-N.Y., ravings about the draft or the rumors of a tax increase. It’s not going to happen.

What is the Democratic majority good for? One thing and one thing only – to give their party control of the committees and the subpoena power that goes with it. The two House Democratic majority can only make noise and make trouble. It can’t pass legislation.

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Ahmadinejad calls Americans to Islam

Ahmadinejad calls Americans to Islam

Marisol caught the same things I note here, but I thought they deserved emphasis in their own thread:

Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, said:

When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them….If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the President of Iran, said:

Is there not a better approach to governance?Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?

[...]

It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice.

It is possible to sincerely serve and promote common human values, and honesty and compassion.

It is possible to provide welfare and prosperity without tension, threats, imposition or war.

It is possible to lead the world towards the aspired perfection by adhering to unity, monotheism, morality and spirituality and drawing upon the teachings of the Divine Prophets.

In that is the call to Islam as prescribed by Muhammad — for Islam in the Islamic view is the only true monotheistic faith.

That call is here too:

We should all heed the Divine Word of the Holy Qur’an:”But those who repent, have faith and do good may receive Salvation. Your Lord, alone, creates and chooses as He will, and others have no part in His choice; Glorified is God and Exalted above any partners they ascribe to Him.” (28:67-68)

He chose a verse that rules out “partners” of Allah indicates that he intended a swipe at Christianity, as in the Islamic view Christians associate “partners” with Allah. Since Christianity is the dominant religion of the U.S., it seems likely that he meant to do this, as part of his call to Islam.

You can read his whole letter here: Ahmadinejad’s letter to Americans

Should airport security procedures include ethnic and religious profiling?

Should airport security procedures include ethnic and religious profiling?

by Daniel Pipes
Costco Connection
November 2006
http://www.danielpipes.org/article/4122

President George W. Bush refers to the enemy in the war on terror as “Islamic radicalism.” Official U.S. policy sees the country at war with those Muslims who support an extremist, jihadistic, misogynist, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, totalitarian form of Islam.

Yet, whatever the president says at the loftiest levels of policymaking, the post-9/11 traveler boarding an airplane in the United States encounters something quite different: an insistence that everyone is equally suspect. Department of Transportation guidelines, for example, forbid security personnel from relying on “generalized stereotypes or attitudes or beliefs about the propensity of members of any racial, ethnic, religious, or national origin group to engage in unlawful activity.”

Fortunately, some movement away from this rigid approach has taken place. In late 2003, the Transportation Security Administration introduced a passenger profiling system known as Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques. It now operates in twelve U.S. airports and uses behavioral pattern recognition to focus on extremely high levels of stress, fear and deception.

This marks a step in the right direction, but well-trained terrorists reveal neither stress nor fear, implying the need for a deeper probe. Toward this end, some analysts, like Michael A. Smerconish in his 2004 book, Flying Blind: How Political Correctness Continues to Compromise Airline Safety Post 9/11, propose that counterterrorism focus on race and ethnicity, and specifically on “young Arab male extremists.”

Focusing on observable traits like Arabic names or a Middle Eastern appearance is easily done. But, like nervousness, these are crude criteria that do not get to the heart of the problem. Also, looking exclusively for young Arab males will inevitably spur terrorists to rely on older, female, non-Arab operatives.

Instead, law enforcement must focus on the motivations behind violent acts. Radical Islam inspires Islamist terrorism. All terrorist jihadists are Muslim, using intelligence to focus on the 1 percent of the American population that is Muslim is both logical and inevitable.

What is Jihad by Daniel Pipes

FROM THE KORAN ITSELF…”HEIL HITLER” Now Upgraded to “ALLAH AKBAR?”

FROM THE KORAN ITSELF…
“HEIL HITLER” Now Upgraded to “ALLAH AKBAR?”

You may already know about this one: O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. [al-Ma'idah 5:51.11]

But did you know that there are 123 verses in the Quran concerning fighting and killing for the cause of Allah? Here are but a few passages:

-Muslims are encouraged to be wholly occupied (Sura 2:273) with fighting for Allah’s cause.

- Allah will give “a far richer recompense to those who fight for him” (Sura 4:96).

- Regarding infidels (unbelievers), they are the Muslim’s “inveterate enemies” (Sura 4:101). Muslims are to “arrest them, besiege them and lie in ambush everywhere” (Sura 9:5) for them. They are to “seize them and put them to death wherever you find them, kill them wherever you find them, seek out the enemies of Islam relentlessly” (Sura 4:90). “Fight them until Islam reigns supreme” (Sura 2:193). “Cut off their heads, and cut off the tips of their fingers” (Sura 8:12).

- If a Muslim does not go to war, Allah will kill him (Sura 9:39). He is to be told, “the heat of war is fierce, but more fierce is the heat of Hell-fire” (Sura 9:81).

- A Muslim must “fight for the cause of Allah with the devotion due to him” (Sura 22:78)

- Muslims must make war on the infidels (unbelievers) who live around them (Sura 9:123).

- Muslims are to be “ruthless to unbelievers” (Sura 48:29).

- A Muslim should “enjoy the good things” he has gained by fighting (Sura 8:69).

- A Muslim can kill any person he wishes if it be a “just cause” (Sura 6:152).

- Allah loves those who “fight for his cause” (Sura 61:3).
Anyone who fights against Allah or renounces Islam in favor of another religion shall be “put to death or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off alternative sides” (Sura 5:34).

- Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him. Sahih Al-Bukhari (9:57)

- Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush. (Koran 9:5)

- Take him and fetter him and expose him to hell fire. (Koran 69:30-37)

- I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips of them. (Koran 8:12)

- They should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides. (Koran 5:33)

- Know that paradise is under the shades of swords. Sahih al-Bukhari Vol 4 p55

And Speaking of Paradise…

“There will be “gushing fountains” and everyone “shall recline on jeweled couches face to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and ewers and a cup of purest wine.” Suras (or chapters) 55 and 56 of the Quran.

“Therein are bashful virgins whom neither man nor jinnee will have touched before … virgins as fair as corals and rubies,” sura 55. A few lines later, you might remind them of “virgins chaste and fair … they shall recline on green cushions and fine carpets.”

“The smallest reward for the people of Paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana’a.'”

It will be the day, God willing, you spend with the women of paradise…Know that the gardens of paradise are waiting for you in all their beauty, and the women of paradise are waiting, calling out, “Come hither, friend of God.”

For much more on “PARADISE… A Better World?” click http://www.masada2000.org/BetterWorld.html

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