Is Gaza Becoming Another Lebanon?

Is Gaza Becoming Another Lebanon?

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad

Director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs, Israel Ministry of Defense

·      The Iranians have a clear goal to combine their long-range missiles with their developing nuclear technology. We are living in the final years before Iran goes nuclear. Listen carefully to Ahmadinejad. He is not insane. He embodies very accurately the nature of the Iranian regime and he is gaining popularity among Muslims.

·      Iran wants to establish an axis to compete against the moderate Sunni Arab countries, and Israel is in the center of the conflict. To weaken the vicious axis sponsored by Iran, Israel must join in an unofficial alliance with the Sunni Arab world.

·      All the rockets in the hands of Hizbullah are an integral part of a whole system that enables Iran to attack Israel from Lebanon without taking responsibility. The Iranians are not happy with what happened in Lebanon because Israel attacked the infrastructure they had built before they were ready.

·      Syria is another regional actor supporting terror in Hamastan and Hizbullahstan. The headquarters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are in Damascus, and all Iranian assistance to rebuild Hizbullah crosses Syrian territory. In addition, Syria directly supported Hizbullah in Lebanon. Syrian rockets from the Syrian army were given to Hizbullah to use to attack Israel.

·      Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, sitting in Damascus where he is supported by Iran and Syria, controls the military wing of Hamas and is more powerful than PA Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh. Mashaal is responsible for the money, for the policy of terror, and he holds many cards relating to Israel’s abducted soldier in Gaza.

The Iranian Connection

To understand the situation in Gaza, we must first focus on Iran. The issue of Iran as a potential strategic threat on the horizon was first raised back in the 1990s. At that time, however, there were illusions about then-Iranian President Khatami. Now there are no more illusions because the current Iranian president, Ahmadinejad, is so clear about his objectives. The Iranians have a clear goal to combine their long-range missiles with their developing nuclear technology.

From Israel’s point of view, Iran has the potential of becoming the existential threat it is frequently declared to be. We are living in the final years before Iran goes nuclear. Listen carefully to Ahmadinejad. He is not insane. He embodies very accurately the nature of the Iranian regime and he is gaining popularity among Muslims. We have to take him seriously because of the developing capability behind his policy.

Iran wants to establish an axis to compete against the moderate Sunni Arab countries, and Israel is in the center of the conflict. Iran created Hizbullahstan to Israel’s north, which is more powerful than the Lebanese Republic in which it is located. To Israel’s south is another entity, Sunni Hamastan. In Iraq, the Shiites and Sunnis are eating each other, but both are cooperating against Israel, where they want to eat us together.

One danger of Hamastan and Hizbullahstan is that they serve as an example, an inspiration for the whole Muslim world. What if they succeed? Can you imagine what the Middle East would be like for Israel without the peace with Egypt and Jordan, without the leadership of President Mubarak and King Abdallah? They are both pillars of a sane, stable Middle East. Even states like Saudi Arabia understand that Iran is the main threat to their stability, their existence, and to the whole area.

The moment Iran achieves nuclear capability, it will inspire terror, instability, and efforts to take over the Gulf States. Iran has a dream to become a regional superpower. To weaken the vicious axis sponsored by Iran, Israel must join in an unofficial alliance with the Sunni Arab world.

After the War in Lebanon

The war in Lebanon, with all its problems, has resulted in some at least temporary achievements. Hizbullahstan is weaker because Israel destroyed its bunkers along the border, as well as the Iranian rocket deployment that cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Its aim was to cover the Galilee with 10,000 rockets, as well as longer-range rockets that could reach Tel Aviv.

Hizbullah is now determined to destroy the Lebanese government, to reestablish Hizbullahstan, to rebuild its military and terrorist infrastructures, and to support Palestinian terror and destabilize the Palestinian entity.

Furthermore, all the rockets that are in the hands of Hizbullah are an integral part of a whole system that enables Iran to attack Israel from Lebanon without taking responsibility. I think that the Iranians are not happy with what happened in Lebanon because Israel attacked the infrastructure they had built before they were ready.

The Role of Syria

Syria is another regional actor supporting terror in Hamastan and Hizbullahstan. The headquarters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad are in Damascus, and all Iranian assistance to rebuild Hizbullah crosses Syrian territory. In addition, Syria directly supported Hizbullah in Lebanon. Syrian rockets from the Syrian army were given to Hizbullah to use to attack Israel.

The Syrian army lacks any intention to attack Israel for the time being, though Israel was on alert during the war in Lebanon. Syrian President Assad may not be in favor of the State of Israel, but if we analyze all the intelligence material, we don’t find any hint that he’s going to attack.

However, Assad is determined to return to Lebanon and to restore Syrian influence on the Lebanese government and its policies. Syria is not going to recognize Lebanon as an independent state. This is traditional Syrian policy and Assad is returning to this policy.

The Palestinian Arena

While the most important threat to the future of this region is Iran. Gaza and the West Bank belong to the same strategic picture. In the Palestinian arena, Mahmoud Abbas is the only one who embodies some hope for coexistence with Israel, while Hamastan is a total contradiction of the perception of peace. The weapons being smuggled into Gaza can be used to destabilize the Abbas’ regime as well as against Israel.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, sitting in Damascus where he is supported by Iran and Syria, controls the military wing of Hamas and is more powerful than PA Prime Minister Ismael Haniyeh. Mashaal is responsible for the money, for the policy of terror, and he holds many cards relating to Israel’s abducted soldier in Gaza. Even if he wanted to be more moderate, Mashaal receives orders from Iran and Syria. So it is very difficult to come to any agreement that will ease the life of the Palestinians or pave the way to peace.

Immigration arrests 13 at naval station

Immigration arrests 13 at naval station

An investigation by federal authorities last week led to the arrests of 13 individuals at the Naval Air Station Key West, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Among those picked up, the agency said, were Mexican nationals Victor Morales-Echavarria, 24, and Miguel Delangeo, 23, who were undocumented and ”in possession of fraudulent” green cards. The U.S. attorney’s office agreed to prosecute the matter, ICE said.

Two other men were arrested on outstanding state warrants and nine on state fraudulent identifications charges, the agency said.

More than 120 individuals who did not have proper naval IDs were escorted off the base. All those arrested and escorted off base were employed by general contractors, the agency said.

Besides U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, other agencies involved in the operation included the Naval Air Station Key West, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Key West Police Department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Muslims ‘about to take over Europe’

Muslims ‘about to take over Europe’

Islam could soon be the dominant force in a Europe which, in the name of political correctness, has abdicated the battle for cultural and religious control, Prof. Bernard Lewis, the world-renowned Middle Eastern and Islamic scholar, said on Sunday.

The Muslims “seem to be about to take over Europe,” Lewis said at a special briefing with the editorial staff of The Jerusalem Post. Asked what this meant for the continent’s Jews, he responded, “The outlook for the Jewish communities of Europe is dim.” Soon, he warned, the only pertinent question regarding Europe’s future would be, “Will it be an Islamized Europe or Europeanized Islam?” The growing sway of Islam in Europe was of particular concern given the rising support within the Islamic world for extremist and terrorist movements, said Lewis.

Lewis, whose numerous books include the recent What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East, and The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, would set no timetable for this drastic shift in Europe, instead focusing on the process, which he said would be assisted by “immigration and democracy.” Instead of fighting the threat, he elaborated, Europeans had given up.

“Europeans are losing their own loyalties and their own self-confidence,” he said. “They have no respect for their own culture.” Europeans had “surrendered” on every issue with regard to Islam in a mood of “self-abasement,” “political correctness” and “multi-culturalism,” said Lewis, who was born in London to middle-class Jewish parents but has long lived in the United States.

The threat of extremist Islam goes far beyond Europe, Lewis stressed, turning to the potential impact of Iran going nuclear under its current regime.

The Cold War philosophy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), which prevented the former Soviet Union and the United States from using the nuclear weapons they had targeted at each other, would not apply to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Iran, said Lewis.

“For him, Mutual Assured Destruction is not a deterrent, it is an inducement,” said Lewis of Ahmadinejad. “We know already that they [Iran’s ruling ayatollahs] do not give a damn about killing their own people in great numbers. We have seen it again and again. If they kill large numbers of their own people, they are doing them a favor. They are giving them a quick, free pass to heaven. I find all that very alarming,” said Lewis.

Lewis acknowledged that Ahmadinejad had made the notion of Iran having the right to acquire a nuclear capability an issue of national pride, and that this should be borne in mind in trying to thwart Teheran’s nuclear drive. “One should try to make it clear at all stages that the objection is not Iran having [a nuclear weapon] but to the regime that governs Iran having it,” said Lewis.

This idea already had support among those Iranians who, on the one hand, believed that their country has a right to possess such a capability but, on the other, feared it being acquired by a government that they do not support.

Israel and the West should work to strengthen moderate forces within the Iranian population, he urged, via an aggressive propaganda campaign including the use of television and radio programs.

“All the evidence is that the regime is extremely unpopular with their own people,” he said. “I am told that the Israeli daily [radio] program in Persian is widely listened to all over Iran with rapt attention.” Israel and the West should also be looking to reach out to moderate forces within the Arab world, which are equally alarmed by the spread of extremism in their midst, said Lewis. “The Arab governments understand that Israel is not their biggest problem,” said Lewis.

Here too, he said, Israeli media had a positive effect in the region, particularly in Jordan, where Israeli programs were broadcast and were widely watched. Jordanians “get the message of how a free society works. As one fellow put it, it is amazing to watch these great and famous people banging the table and screaming at each other. Even more striking is the fact that Arabs can denounce the Israeli government on Israeli television. That has an impact.” Lewis also highlighted the Washington-based Syrian Reform Party, whose leader Farid Ghadry openly admires Israel.

Regarding the summer’s war against Hizbullah, Lewis warned that a second such conflict could break out in the near future.

He quoted a Christian Lebanese friend saying soon after the fighting ended that “Israel has lost the war, but Hizbullah has not won” because many people in Lebanon were blaming Hizbullah for bringing conflict to their country. Now, though, he added, it was his sense that Hizbullah had “gained some ground since then.”

Amir Mizroch contributed to this report.

Splitting the Evangelicals from Israel

Splitting the Evangelicals from Israel

By Ed Lasky

A new strategy seems to be emerging that seeks to weaken American support for Israel.
While there has been much attention given to challenges Israel faces on college campuses, in the media, and increasingly in the halls of Congress, the historically solid and vitally important support given by Evangelical Christians towards Israel is now being threatened. How is this happening and who are the actors?
Evangelicals support Israel for a variety of reasons, among them a belief that Israel is a fellow democracy with which we share a common Western culture and that we value as a friend. Israel has also been victimized by Islamic terrorism, as have we. Israel is also a strategic ally in the war against Islamic radicalism- a lone Western outpost in a faraway land that gave birth to two major religions: Judaism and Christianity-the foundation of Western civilization.
However, the core reason that Evangelicals have an affection for the Jewish people and a strong desire to protect Israel is found, unsurprisingly, in the Bible.
What may surprise people is that the foundation of this support has nothing to do with end-of-days scenarios or the desire to convert the Jews. Instead, there is a belief that God has a covenant with the Jewish people and with Israel. Christians have a religious mandate to support Israel. Throughout the Bible there is language that calls upon Christians to honor and cherish the Jewish people. A key section is found in the very first book of the Bible: Genesis.  The promise of Genesis 12:3 is that

“he who blesses Israel will be blessed, and he who curses Israel will be cursed”.

To people who interpret Israel to mean the Jews – such as evangelical Christians – Genesis becomes an exhortation to both Zionism and philo-Semitism.  (see this Q and A with author David Brog for a further explanation of the basis of Christian Zionism). There is also a feeling of sympathy for the Jews-given the tragic history of Christian anti-Semitism in Europe.
Efforts are now underway to erode this base of support. While it is unlikely that there is a concerted effort among the foes of Israel, they do seem to be operating from a common playbook. The tactics seem to rely on a few simple but potentially perilous ideas. One avenue of attack is to question the theology behind the Biblical mandate to “bless the Jews”. Another is to portray Israelis as oppressing Christians in an attempt to evoke imagery from the Bible regarding the trials and tribulations of Jesus. In so doing, they are attempting to weaken the sympathy that is one of the hallmarks of Christian Zionism.
The theological argument that a bond no longer exists between God and the Jews (and by extension Israel) is known as “replacement” theology.  The Jerusalem-based Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, an anti-Israel Palestinian Christian group, has been among those groups most actively promoting this spurious doctrine. Adherents believe that Jews fell from divine favor when they refused to accept Christ and that God chose the Church (Christians) to replace them. Therefore Christians have no religious obligation to support the Jewish people. Sabeel has at times gone beyond this doctrine and has gone to the next “step” and cast Israel as the new “Rome” whose government is a “crucifixion system.”  The head of Sabeel has called Israelis “Herods” and has linked  their behavior to the acts of the Romans that killed Jesus. The Anglican Church in England seems sympathetic to this view. This might be expected since “replacement ” theology has taken hold in Europe while it has been rejected so far by most American churches. 
However, there are disconcerting signs that this favorable state of affairs may be changing. The old “mainline” churches such as the Presbyterians have leaders who support the Palestinian narrative.  As Hugh Hewitt has noted about his own Presbyterian Church, whose leadership has been very receptive to proposals to disinvest from companies doing business with Israel, the governing body seems to be heavily influenced by key leaders who are either Palestinian Christians or have close ties to Palestinians.
Sabeel periodically gives road shows to propagate this view. The group has had some success: at a recent conference in Chicago, attendees included representatives from a clutch of organizations: Churches for Middle East Peace, American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), the Lutheran Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Wheat Ridge Ministries. Their efforts have begun to transcend trying to spread their “gospel” beyond Church groups to lobbying Congress. An upcoming Sabeel conference will feature Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a former Democrat candidate for President.
Jimmy Carter also wants a role in trying to divide Evangelicals. His recent book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, is replete with factual errors, misrepresentations, plagiarism, and outright fabrication. Perceptive critics have pointed out that Carter seems to have a barely hidden agenda in writing the book: to weaken Christian support for Israel. 
What seems to have escaped these critics’ grasp (they may be less conversant with Christian theology than Carter – after all, didn’t Carter complain about his “Jewish” book critics) is that Carter is primarily speaking to a Christian audience. His narrative may resonate with them in a way that reviewers may not appreciate. For, in attacking Israel the way he chose to do, he is promoting a view that there is no longer a covenant between Jews and God that Christians are bound to honor. His book, in short, is a brief in support of “replacement theology”.
How can this be so? In Carter’s view, Israel has become a secular nation. No longer being a nation of the Jews, carrying Carterisian  (ill) logic to its conclusion, it has broken its covenant with God. Therefore, it can no longer be offered either the support or the blessings of Christians.
Rick Richman found Carter using this ploy several times in his relatively small book.

In Carter’s eyes, Israel fails a “religious test”: it is no longer a nation of Jews..
In his book, Carter describes visits to several kibbutzim and found that on the Sabbath only two worshippers appeared at the synagogue. When he asked if this was typical, the “guide gave a wry smile and shrugged his shoulders as if it was not important either way”. When Carter participated in a graduation ceremony at an Israel Defense Forces training camp, Carter presented a Hebrew bible to each graduate, “which was one of the few indications of a religious commitment that I observed during our visit”. At the end of his visit, he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.  He told her that he had taught lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures and that a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God. I asked if she was concerned about the secular nature of her Labor government”. Not only does Carter seem to castigate Israel for losing its religious bearings but also he seems to call upon the wrath of God to punish her for her transgressions.

Another perceptive reviewer was of the opinion that Carter wasn’t writing for Arabs or Jews, but that

“…he was aiming at American Christians, particularly the evangelicals who are among Israel’s most ardent supporters.” 

Michael Jacobs, writing in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution echoes Richman is noting that Carter harped upon Israel’s secular nature. Michael Jacobs notes that Carter seems to take the same tack as the Sabeel in trying to depict Israelis as oppressors of Christians. He writes that Carter

“repeatedly refers to Israeli oppression of Christians, destruction of Christian holy sites and the imprisonment of Bethlehem.”

Jeffrey Goldberg reviewed Carter’s book for the Washington Post and wrote,

“A specific agenda appears to be at work here. Carter seems to mean for the book to convince American evangelicals to reconsider their support for Israel. Evangelical Christians have become bedrock supporters of Israel lately, and Carter marshals many arguments, most of them specious, to scare them out of their position”. He notes the aforementioned Golda Meir story and states that is was meant to show that Israel is not the God-fearing nation that religious Christians believe it to be. And then there are the accusations, unsupported by actual evidence, that Israel persecutes Christians.” Carter, for example, had written that ‘it was especially interesting to visit with some of the few surviving Samaritans, who complained to us that their holy sites and culture were not being respected by Israeli authorities-the same complaint heard by Jesus and his disciples almost two thousand years ago”. Goldberg notes the absurdity of this remark-“there are no references to Israeli authorities in the Christian Bible. Only a man who sees Israel as a lineal descendant of the Pharisees could write such a sentence.”  That phrase alone should be a tip-off that something murky is at work in Carter: he is attempting to demonize Israelis by evoking the painful experience of Jesus 2000 years ago.  He again tries to drill this “point” in to his readers when he writes that the security fence (that has saved so many Israeli lives) itself is a crime against Christianity because it “ravages many places along its devious route that are important to Christians”.

What may be most disconcerting with this type of language is that it conjures up anti-Semitic images and cartoons that are now popular in certain European media outlets and are widespread in the Arab world. Carter rails against Israel by tying its purported mistreatment of Christians (his allegations will be disproved below) to the harrowing experience of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. This is a hoary anti-Semitic trope. How similar is Carter’s verbal treatment to the visual treatment meted out to Israel by, for example, by the Italian newspaper La Stampa a few years ago. There a front-page cartoon ran that is now widely considered anti-Semitic. This cartoon showed a tank emblazoned with a Star of David pointing its gun at the baby Jesus, who tells the attackers, “Surely they don’t want to kill me again”.  
Other harsh anti-Israel critics have followed this line of attack in a somewhat less theological way. For example, Professors Walt and Mearsheimer wrote a “working paper” on the so-called “Israel Lobby” that, similar to Carter’s book, was roundly criticized as being riddled with errors and bias. However, it has enjoyed a great deal of publicity and will soon be followed by a book on the same topic by the authors.
One of the lines of arguments that try to get readers to swallow is that Israel is not deserving of the sympathy that has been a hallmark of Christian support for Israel because of supposed mistreatment of Palestinians (both Christian and Muslim).
Similarly, the well-known anti-Israel columnist Robert Novak has a penchant shared with Carter for demonizing Israel for its supposed maltreatment of Christians. He has written numerous columns claiming that Israel’s security fence has prevented Christians from exercising religious freedom and has caused an exodus from the Holy Land (refuted here).  The Council for National Interest (CNI) is a harshly anti-Israel group that lobbies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere against Israel. CNI publishes full-page ads in major American newspapers that are marked by anti-Semitic imagery. These ads have specifically attempted to erode Christian sympathy and support for Israel. On Christmas Eve this group ran an ad headlined “Is Bethlehem Dying” that depicts three Magi riding atop camels blocked from arriving into Bethlehem by a concrete barrier. In the foreground a bird tells the wise men, “It’s gonna be a little harder this time around”. This was far from the only attempt to use the Christmas Story to defame Israel. All of these criticisms of Israel are expressly designed to erode Christian support for Israel. They are also lies.
Christians are fleeing the Holy Land. Palestinian Christians have a higher rate of emigration than Palestinian Muslims and the Palestinian population has plunged from 20%  after World War II to less than 1.7% now. Research demonstrates that the precipitous decline of the Christian population is primarily a result of social, economic and religious discrimination within Palestinian society in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  This should not be surprising. Under the Palestinian Authority Constitution, Islamic law is given primacy over all other sources of law. The Hamas Charter is even harsher when it comes to respecting the Christian religion.
As one researcher states:

From Christian Arabs under the thumb of the PA, I have heard testimony of forced marriages of Christian women to Muslim men, death threats against Christians for distributing the Bible to willing Muslims, and Christian women intimidated into wearing traditional ultra-modest Islamic clothing. Churches have been firebombed (most recently in Nablus, Tubas, and Gaza when the Pope made his controversial remarks) and/or shot up repeatedly. And this is the tip of the iceberg.

Under the Palestinian Authority, whose constitution gives Islamic law primacy over all other sources of law, Christian Arabs have found their land expropriated by Muslim thieves and thugs with ties to the PA’s land registration office. Christians have been forced to pay bribes to win the freedom of family members jailed on trumped-up charges. And Arabs – Christians and Muslims alike – have been selling or abandoning homes and businesses to escape the chaos of the PA and move to Israel, Europe, South America, North America, or wherever they can get a visa.

See also the book, Human Rights of Christians in Palestinian Society.
Tony Pearce, pastor of the Bridge Christian Fellowship, in contrast notes

“that the Christian Arab population within the pre-1967 borders of Israel has grown from 34,000 in 1948 to 130,000 in 2005. Ironically this is the only part of the Middle East where the Christian population is growing (Editor’s note: at the end of the 19th century, 13% of the population of the Middle East was Christian. Today it is 2% and headed down)… The main reason for the departure of Christians from PA administered territories is the religious persecution, murder and land grabs which stems from the increased Islamisation of the region. This is the result of the PA adopting Muslim religious law in the territories in contrast to Israel which safeguards the religious freedom on its citizens.”

Lest we forget, it was Muslim terrorists who defiled the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002. While fleeing Israeli Defense Forces, they forced their way into the Church and held clerics hostage. They knew Israel respected religious buildings more than they themselves did, and they were right. Israel eventually agreed to let these terrorists leave the Church and travel to Europe in order to avoid harm to the Church. Regardless of the deal reached with Israelis and church officials, the Church itself had been ransacked and damaged by the terrorists. This history was of course expunged from the Council of National Interest ad that attacked Israel for conditions inside Bethlehem. Oh… and the mayor whose criticism towards Israel was quoted in the ad? CNI neglected to mention that he was elected with the support of Hamas, a terror group that is now the government in the West Bank and Gaza.
I wonder how the Bethlehem mayor would respond to this report by Khaled Abu Toameh, a brave Israeli Arab journalist that ran on January 25th of this year. In “Bethlehem Christians fear neighbors” Toameh describes Bethlehem Christians gripped by fear due to the persecution they are suffering as a minority under Muslim rule. They have finally decided to speak up:

The move comes as a result of increased attacks on Christians by Muslims over the past few months. The families said they wrote letters to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Vatican, Church leaders and European governments complaining about the attacks, but their appeals have fallen on deaf ears.
According to the families, many Christians have long been afraid to complain in public about the campaign of “intimidation” for fear of retaliation by their Muslim neighbors and being branded “collaborators” with Israel.
But following an increase in attacks on Christian-owned property in the city over the past few months, some Christians are no longer afraid to talk about the ultra-sensitive issue. And they are talking openly about leaving the city.
“The situation is very dangerous,” said Samir Qumsiyeh, owner of the Beit Sahur-based private Al-Mahd (Nativity) TV station. “I believe that 15 years from now there will be no Christians left in Bethlehem. Then you will need a torch to find a Christian here. This is a very sad situation.”
Qumsiyeh, one of the few Christians willing to speak about the harsh conditions of their community, has been the subject of numerous death threats. His house was recently attacked with firebombs, but no one was hurt.
Qumsiyeh said he has documented more than 160 incidents of attacks on Christians in the area in recent years.
He said a monk was recently roughed up for trying to prevent a group of Muslim men from seizing lands owned by Christians in Beit Sahur. Thieves have targeted the homes of many Christian families and a “land mafia” has succeeded in laying its hands on vast areas of land belonging to Christians, he added.
Fuad and Georgette Lama woke up one morning last September to discover that Muslims from a nearby village had fenced off their family’s six-dunam plot in the Karkafa suburb south of Bethlehem. “A lawyer and an official with the Palestinian Authority just came and took our land,” said 69-year-old Georgette Lama.
The couple was later approached by senior PA security officers who offered to help them kick out the intruders from the land. “We paid them $1,000 so they could help us regain our land,” she said, almost in tears. “Instead of giving us back our land, they simply decided to keep it for themselves. They even destroyed all the olive trees and divided the land into small plots, apparently so that they could offer each for sale.” When her 72-year-old husband, Fuad, went to the land to ask the intruders to leave, he was severely beaten and threatened with guns.
“My husband is after heart surgery and they still beat him,” Georgette Lama said. “These people have no heart. We’re afraid to go to our land because they will shoot at us. Ever since the beating, my husband is in a state of trauma and has difficulties talking.”
The Lamas have since knocked on the doors of scores of PA officials in Bethlehem seeking their intervention, but to no avail. At one stage, they sent a letter to Abbas, who promised to launch an investigation.

There have been many other examples of Muslims attacking Palestinian Christians. See the editorial “Christians attacked” involving an attack on a Christian village in the West Bank, setting buildings on fire and destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary; “Christians threatened,” where Christians in the Gaza Strip had buildings bombed and warned them to close up missionary buildings or face destruction. An interview with Justus Weiner, “Persecuting the holy Land Christians” gives an even fuller picture of the oppression of Christians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, giving lie to the claims that Israel harms Christians.
Even within Israel’s pre-1967 borders, Muslims have been attacking Christians so there can be no claim that Israel’s security fence is the cause of the conflict. In Nazareth, the home of Jesus and the site of many Christian shrines, Muslims have held large militant marches through the main street, shouting, “Islam will dominate the world” and exclaiming, “Allah is great”. Christians report attacks against Christian shops and told stories of violence against women and men perpetrated by Muslim residents. The city that should be a place of celebration and be filled with the spirit of conciliation and peace has become a city of dread.
This pattern of oppression of Christians at the hands of Muslims is part of a widespread Middle Eastern phenomenon and has a long history which people such as Jimmy Carter and Robert Novak ignore. Conversely, Christians have found Israel to be a very comforting and congenial place to live. As former Congressman Jack Kemp wrote in response to a Robert Novak column attempting to criticize Israel for the purported effects of the security fence on Christians,
Contrary to the thrust of the Novak column, Israel’s Christian population has in fact prospered and quadrupled in size over the last half century, in sharp contrast to the dwindling Christian communities in other countries in the Middle East. The continued dwindling of Christian communities in the Palestinian areas can be directly traced to the constant harassment to which they have been subjected by Islamic extremists. As a Christian, I am extremely troubled, as every American should be, by the implications of the Hamas victory in the recent Palestinian elections for the continued thriving of the Christian heritage in the Holy Land.
In contrast, never in history have residents in Jerusalem enjoyed more freedom of access to the holy places as under Israel’s sovereignty. Israel’s founding ethos, anchored in its declaration of independence, guarantees freedom of religion and conscience while safeguarding the holy places of all religions. Such is the case with every church, monastery and holy site in the country, many of which have been rebuilt and refurbished in recent years by the state of Israel.
In planning the route of the barrier, particularly in the vicinity of Jerusalem, where population density, religious and international interests intersect, Israel has demonstrated particular sensitivity to Christian concerns. The route was determined and in several cases altered, after a comprehensive dialogue with representatives of the various Church denominations. The ongoing consultations and effort to accommodate denominational interests put the lie to the notion that Israel supposedly seeks to “destroy” or “shatter” these communities.
Nevertheless, this type of research was of little interest to Jimmy Carter, Sabeel supporters, or their allies in trying to turn Christians against Israel. Nor have they been satisfied with mere written and verbal attacks. A new front has been opened in the battle for the hearts and minds of evangelical Christians with the goal of supplanting the leaders of the evangelical community who have been strongly pro-Israel with leaders and groups who are noticeably less supportive of Israel.
For example, Jim Wallis seems to have enjoyed a blaze of publicity lately as an Evangelical leader that Democrats in particular have tried to enlist as a supporter. Wallis is clearly on the left-wing of the evangelical movement. He also has a clearly anti-Israel history. He blames America’s allegedly unjust support for Israel for our problems with the Arab world. He castigates Israel for an “unjust” level of violence in Lebanon and wrote,

“It’s time to challenge the theology of Christian Zionism advanced by many of the American Religious Right, who are completely uncritical of Israel’s behavior and totally oblivious to the sufferings (or even the existence) of Arab Christians in the Middle East.”

He writes in an article highly critical of Israel’s activity in Lebanon (titled “The Body of Christ in Lebanon” – it is clearly intended to evoke the sufferings of Christ) of Arab Christians who are

“certainly not supportive of the highly disproportionate military response of Israel which now target their own families and fellow Arab Christians.” 

Israel “targets” Christians? Not true. Israel takes great pains to avoid harming civilians. Wallis’s silence regarding Hezbollah-Muslim-oppression of these Lebanese Christians is deafening. His magazine, Sojourners, has been a forum for anti-Israel voices: one article was entitled, “Inside Israeli Apartheid”.
However, the sudden prominence of Wallis is just one indication that forces are at work to shift the allegiance of Evangelicals. Recently, Jimmy Carter (along with Bill Clinton) has announced a new effort to bring together moderate Baptists in a “robust coalition” that would serve as a counterweight to the conservative Southern Baptist Convention (the SBC). This is Carter’s brainchild and had its springboard launch at the Carter Center in Atlanta. (The Carter Center is heavily-funded by Arab Muslims: will Arab oil wealth be used to influence evangelicals against Israel?) The invited churches have a combined membership of more than 20 million, outnumbering the Southern Baptist Convention. Clearly, Carter has an agenda in forming such a coalition. Dr. Richard Land, head of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, probably spotted the goal. In noting that there would be areas of disagreement with the group being assembled by Carter and the Southern Baptist Convention, he highlighted one in particular when he stated in a Washington Post article,

“…one of the areas where there would be significant disagreement would be our view towards Israel, as highlighted by President Carter’s new book”. That certainly is a prophetic comment.

Is it a coincidence, given the deliberately provocative use of the word “Apartheid” in the title of his book, that many of the church groups behind his coalition are historically black churches (among the fastest-growing evangelical populations in America and the world)? Did Carter hope by charging Israel with  “apartheid” to turn African-Americans against Israel? Will he attempt to lobby against Israel among the evangelicals in his new coalition? Why not? He has everywhere else.
Clearly, Israel enjoys strong support within the evangelical movement. Groups such as the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein) have pioneered the way in fostering close ties between the Jewish community, Israel and the evangelicals. Former Presidential candidate Gary Bauer has also been a leader in trying to mobilize evangelicals to support Israel.  More recently, Pastor John Hagee, who has been in the forefront among evangelicals in supporting Israel, formed Christians United for Israel to serve as a lobbying group for Israel and has already achieved great success.  The superb recent book by Michael Oren, Power, Faith and Fantasy; America in the Middle east 1776 to the Present, illuminates the fact that affection for the Jewish people has a long history in America: it is part of the DNA of America’s religious and civic culture, and predates the rise of evangelicals as a powerful voice within America.
However, history has taught the Jewish people that complacency is perilous. The belief that there is a covenant between God and the Jews that must be honored by Christians has only recently (when considering the grand scope of Christian history) enjoyed the prominence that it so does now. Efforts to convince Christians that this covenant has been broken will erode Christian support for Jews and for Israel, as will spurious accusations that Israel harms Christians in the Middle East.
What can we do to help ensure that the evangelical and Jewish communities remain friends during this time of worldwide anti-Semitism and existential threats to Israel?
Friendships need to be appreciated and nurtured. Yet there are still many Jews who are wary of this embrace by Christians. The reasons commonly given for this reluctance are: fear of Christian anti-Semitism, a misunderstanding regarding the motives for Christian support, and differing domestic agendas.
In fact, Christian anti-Semitism has been a primarily European phenomenon. Evangelical Christians are probably the most philo-Semitic group in the world today. Evangelicals do not support Israel for end-of-days or for conversionary motives (the aforementioned David Brog book would enlighten many people on this issue).
Lastly the differing domestic agendas should not unduly bother American Jews. We are both heirs to a grand Western Judeo-Christian heritage and share many common values. We are both groups under attack from the forces of Islamic extremism.  In the words of Pastor Hagee,

“…what we have in common is far greater than the differences we have allowed to divide us.”

Evangelicals have not asked Jews to promote their policies; there is no quid pro quo (or political trading of favors) involved in their support for Israel which, for them, is a biblical mandate that predates the concept of democracy. Perhaps the best prescription to reduce anxiety might be to remember this phrase: be not afraid.
Zev Chafets  (a Jewish American who made aliyah to Israel years ago) has written a new book  on the relationship between American Evangelicals, Jews and Israel, A Match Made in Heaven: American Jews, Christian Zionists and One Man’s Exploration of the Weird and Wonderful Judeo-Evangelical Alliance, reviewed here (see also interviews with the author here and here). Chafets explores the ties between the communities. He also is mindful of their different domestic agendas.
His response? So what? In a time of turmoil when Israel faces peril as never before, the affection and support that evangelicals extend to Jews and to Israel should be cherished and appreciated for what it is: a gift from God.
Will Jimmy Carter and his allies rend asunder what God hath joined together? Only time will tell.
Ed Lasky is news editor of American Thinker.

Group Think Is Killing Us in Iraq

Group Think Is Killing Us in Iraq

By Michael Nyilis

“Know your enemy.”

     Sun Tzu, 6th century BC
“We are having a huge time, still, identifying the enemy.”

     Lee Hamilton, Co-Chairman, Iraq Study Group, December 7, 2006

Making a mistake in war can get you killed.  And when you have bad intelligence, military commanders make bad decisions-and many people get killed.
The Iraq Study Group (ISG) found that “our government does not understand very well either the insurgency in Iraq or the role of militias.” 
“Know your enemy”-all students of war are taught Sun Tzu’s maxim.  But top officials in the U.S. government remain nearly as puzzled today about the enemy in Iraq as they were in March 2003, when Iraq war began.  Astonishing.  Many of the mistakes we are making in Iraq stem from our poor understanding of the enemy.  We admit this deficiency-yet we continue on as before, making the same mistakes again and again.
Answers to basic questions elude us.  Is the main enemy in Iraq al-Qaeda or Sunni Baathists?  Should our focus be on Shia militias?  To what degree are foreign jihadists working with former Baathist regime members?  What is the relationship between the Syrian government and the Sunni insurgents?  Who is coordinating insurgent activity?  Is Iran supporting the insurgency and how?  Is our intelligence getting better over time-or are incorrect assumptions about the enemy we face actually making our understanding of the insurgency worse?
President Bush’s latest plan to turn things around in Iraq will certainly fail if we do not focus on the intelligence problems that plague us.  Why are commanders on the ground in Iraq as frustrated over the quality of the intelligence they receive today as they were three and a half years ago?  First, in fairness, the business of intelligence is inherently very difficult.  Intelligence is nearly always ambiguous, contradictory, and hard to assimilate.  Two people, looking at the exact same information, frequently come to different, even opposite, conclusions.  Add to that the fact that intelligence analysis almost always has political implications, and you have a recipe for competing theories about what all the data mean.
This is not necessarily a bad thing.  Asserting that there is a “consensus view” is often nothing more than an indicator that intelligence agencies are suffering from “group think”-which is the last thing we want, especially if the conventional wisdom is wrong.  It often is.  If it were always right, the Soviet Union would still be around.  Saddam Hussein would not have dared to defy the world in 1991.  America would have been hit again after 9/11.
In Iraq, we do not seem to be taking intelligence seriously.  The CIA has many talented and capable agents and analysts, but it has been sending people in for 90-day Iraq assignments who do not even speak Arabic, according to Bob Woodward in his latest book.  Iraq must be a low priority-personnel are rotated in and out of Iraq before having enough time to develop real expertise.  And five years after 9/11, Americans who speak Arabic are still rare.  Proficiency in Arabic is not noticeably widespread in other parts of the government either.
Another problem in Iraq is that we rely heavily on foreign intelligence agencies to provide us with information.  “Friendly” Arab governments have their own agenda, and Arab intelligence services have been known to lead us astray more times than we care to admit.
Equally vexing is the problem of Iraqis who manipulate intelligence officers by providing false or politically motivated information.  Former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq John Negroponte candidly explained why: 

“The human sources the CIA had recruited reflected the politicization of Iraq.”

Everyone had taken sides, and it was hard to find unbiased sources, as Woodward reports.  Negroponte admitted that the insurgency was essentially a “mystery.” 
A mystery?  Is intelligence simply a matter of divining tea leaves?
There are very specific reasons for our distorted understanding of the different elements of the insurgency, their relative importance, and the nature of their interactions.  Foreign fighters use cell phones and the Internet whereas former regime members involved in the insurgency do not.  Given that our signals intelligence-interception of electronic communications-is often excellent (sorting it all out is another matter) and our human intelligence is often terrible, we are led to believe that al-Qaeda is playing a much greater role in the insurgency than are the Baathists.  What this suggests, in fact, is that the Baathists are much more sophisticated-and capable-than al-Qaeda.  This should not surprise us, especially given their greater numbers, their knowledge of their home turf, their professional military and intelligence training, and their access to high tech military hardware.
Our conclusions about how to prosecute the war are based on intelligence and on our understanding of the Middle East.   But the intelligence is often wrong or misleading, and our understanding of the Middle East, prior to 9/11, did not extend much beyond Arab-Israeli issues and has improved little since.
The key reason behind our misunderstanding of the region is a false concept we have embraced:  that “secular” and “Islamic” entities do not co-operate.  Yet we know that they do.  Syria supports Hezbollah, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.  Qaddafi supported the Abu Sayyaf Group.  Iran supports the PLO.  Lebanon encompasses countless unusual alliances.  For example, Maronite Christian leader Michael Aoun is allied with Hezbollah.  Such alliances make no sense at all to Americans-but they are common in the Middle East.
Indeed, co-operation between “secular” and “Islamic” entities is so common that is rather strange that we dismiss the possibility that “strange bedfellows” could be operating against us.  It should not surprise us that groups and nations form unlikely alliances.  After all, the U.S. allied with Stalin, and Stalin and Hitler entered into a co-operative agreement-until June 1941 anyway.  The whole notion that secular Muslims and Islamic terrorists could not cooperate is as absurd as asserting that rival Mafia families never collaborate against a common enemy.  Terrorist groups cooperate all the time across the ideological divide-as they are doing in Iraq now.
Our obstinate belief in the false idea that secular and Islamist entities must be enemies has had dire consequences.  We have become fixated on Islamic figures, such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Islamic groups like al-Qaeda, and do not seriously pursue the question of the support they receive from others.  U.S. forces finally killed Zarqawi in June 2006, but his demise has had no noticeable impact on the war.
Those native to the region have a clearer understanding of the war we are in.  Senior Iraqi officials-such as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, and many others-say that the insurgency in Iraq is primarily Baathist.  Nevertheless, we continue to believe that we know better than the Iraqis.  A June National Security Council report that was recently leaked to the New York Times all but declares that the Baathists have given up, convinced that they will not return to power.  This is utter nonsense and an example of a curious phenomenon:  we admit that our intelligence is bad, and yet we continue to hold the same assumptions about the enemy and the war that we did before.
An error in strategic intelligence has plagued us for more than a decade:  the notion that there is a jihadi movement that operates independently of terrorist states.  The idea of a movement separate and apart from Islamic terrorism that we call “Islamism” was basically invented in the early 1990’s, and we seem more committed to it than ever.  This is a classic case of “group think.”  The current consensus view, however, is the reverse of the conclusion that we reached in the 1980s, when the issue of states and groups was vigorously debated under CIA Director Bill Casey and his deputy-Robert Gates.  The same people who denied that the Soviet Union supported terrorist groups-support which has been demonstrated conclusively by those who have researched the archives of the Soviet Union and other Communist states, and which appears in the VENONA intercepts as well-continue to explain away evidence of state support for Islamic terrorism.  This fundamental misconception is crippling our ability to fight the global war on terror, and it is a violation of Sun Tzu’s first, most fundamental rule:  “Know your enemy.”   We still do not.
Michael Nyilis recently served in Afghanistan, and now works as a speechwriter in Washington, DC. 

Lara Logan & al Qaeda: What’s the 411, CBS?

Islam needs to embrace Golden Rule

Islam needs to embrace Golden Rule

Never have the media embraced so mistaken an angle on a story as on Pope Benedict XVI’s speech in Regensburg, Germany, and the aftermath in the Muslim world.

Every newspaper story I read has a doddering old pope blundering into an ill-conceived quotation from a Byzantine emperor, insulting Islam by connecting it with violence, and the Muslim world’s eruption over his supposedly inappropriate choice of words.

Indeed, in some parts of the Islamic world the appropriate response was to run out and burn down a few Christian churches and even murder a nun to show the world Islam is not a violent religion. In other words, according to the media, shame on the pope for foolishly and thoughtlessly poking a stick in a hornet’s nest.

The problem with this scenario is that, in fact, the pope knew exactly what he was saying, and he surely meant to say it. His words were carefully chosen. Their purpose was to call to account the Muslim world’s willingness to license violence, to make excuses for violence in the name of their religion.

The pope apologized for being misunderstood and has expressed his desire for dialogue. He has not retracted the accusation. The pope’s public declaration was exactly what much of the rest of the world beyond Islam believes in private, but is too cowardly or delicate to say out loud.

And who is more appropriate than the pope to state the Christian case? Secular Muslim governments are scared to death of their radical imams and mullahs. None of them have the guts to face down their own homegrown radical Islamic fundamentalists. And yet it is these same radical Islamists who are found at the root and fountainhead of nearly every terrorist act perpetrated in the world today.

It is not so much that Islam is a violent religion. Perhaps in the main it is not, any more than Christianity is violent in the light of its past atrocities.

It is more that the Muslim street, in country after country, is extraordinarily and notoriously thin-skinned about every real or imagined slight to Islamic religious sensibilities. In this rude and vulgar modern world such an antiquated attitude can only bring with it constant turmoil. And it does not help that this bellicose attitude is stoked and manipulated by the political and religious leadership in every Muslim nation.

So the pope has confronted the issue. Until Islam can find within itself the will to embrace the Golden Rule found in its own scripture, until it stops indoctrinating its children, and especially its young men, in hatred and intolerance, and I might add, finds them jobs, until it is willing to treat other religions in its own heartlands as it demands Islam be treated in its diaspora, until it can truly respect at home the diversity it hides behind in Western cultures, until it discovers its womenfolk are co-equally God’s own creatures, and until it learns to ignore or laugh at what misinformed or ignorant men may say about Islam or Islam’s prophet, until that day the violence will continue.

God (or Allah or YHWH) help us all.
Robert L. Egolf is a physician. He lives in Ocala.

Johns Hopkins prof in LA Times: Was 9/11 really that bad?

Johns Hopkins prof in LA Times: Was 9/11 really that bad?

David A. Bell thinks we overreacted to the largest attack ever on American soil. I, on the other hand, think that we haven’t reacted strongly enough — not so much militarily, although our response in that regard hasn’t been properly focused, but in other ways: in dealing with the foreign policy dependence that arises from our use of oil, and in dealing with Muslim immigration into the West, and in calling to account Muslim advocacy groups in the U.S., asking that they cooperate actively with anti-terror efforts and work actively against the jihad ideology in American mosques.

“Was 9/11 really that bad? The attacks were a horrible act of mass murder, but history says we’re overreacting,” by Johns Hopkins professor David A. Bell in the LA Times:

IMAGINE THAT on 9/11, six hours after the assault on the twin towers and the Pentagon, terrorists had carried out a second wave of attacks on the United States, taking an additional 3,000 lives. Imagine that six hours after that, there had been yet another wave. Now imagine that the attacks had continued, every six hours, for another four years, until nearly 20 million Americans were dead. This is roughly what the Soviet Union suffered during World War II, and contemplating these numbers may help put in perspective what the United States has so far experienced during the war against terrorism.It also raises several questions. Has the American reaction to the attacks in fact been a massive overreaction? Is the widespread belief that 9/11 plunged us into one of the deadliest struggles of our time simply wrong? If we did overreact, why did we do so? Does history provide any insight?

Certainly, if we look at nothing but our enemies’ objectives, it is hard to see any indication of an overreaction. The people who attacked us in 2001 are indeed hate-filled fanatics who would like nothing better than to destroy this country. But desire is not the same thing as capacity, and although Islamist extremists can certainly do huge amounts of harm around the world, it is quite different to suggest that they can threaten the existence of the United States.

Yet a great many Americans, particularly on the right, have failed to make this distinction. For them, the “Islamo-fascist” enemy has inherited not just Adolf Hitler’s implacable hatreds but his capacity to destroy. The conservative author Norman Podhoretz has gone so far as to say that we are fighting World War IV (No. III being the Cold War).

But it is no disrespect to the victims of 9/11, or to the men and women of our armed forces, to say that, by the standards of past wars, the war against terrorism has so far inflicted a very small human cost on the United States. As an instance of mass murder, the attacks were unspeakable, but they still pale in comparison with any number of military assaults on civilian targets of the recent past, from Hiroshima on down.

44 dead in attacks on Shi’ite ceremonies in Iraq

44 dead in attacks on Shi’ite ceremonies in Iraq

More attacks on Ashura ceremonies. Sunni/Shi’ite Jihad Update. “On Shiites’ holiest day, 44 dead in Iraq,” by Kim Gamel for Associated Press:

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Assailants struck Shiite worshippers in three Iraqi cities Tuesday, killing at least 39 people in bombings and ambushes during the climax of ceremonies marking Ashoura, the holiest day in the Shiite calendar. In apparent retaliation, mortar shells slammed into predominantly Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad hours later, killing at least five people and wounding 20, officials said.

Tens of thousands of Shiites Muslims converged on the holy city of Karbala — where the 7th-century battle took place that cemented the schism between Sunnis and Shiites — beating their chest and heads to mark the death of the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson. The entire city was sealed off, all vehicles were banned, and pilgrims were searched at numerous checkpoints, a day after the Iraqi army said it had foiled a plot by a messianic Shiite group to storm the nearby city of Najaf.

The bloodiest attack Tuesday occurred when a suicide bomber blew himself up among a crowd of worshippers entering a Shiite mosque, killing 19 people and wounding 54 in Mandali, a predominantly Shiite city northeast of Baghdad and near the Iranian border.

To the north, a bomb in a garbage can exploded as scores of Shiites — most them Kurds — were performing rituals in Khanaqin, a majority Kurdish city also near the Iranian border. At least 13 people were killed and 39 were wounded, police Maj. Idriss Mohammed said.

“I was participating in Ashoura ceremonies with my son and all of a sudden the bloodshed hit,” Abdul Jasim Hassan said, holding his 11-year-old son, Hussein, whose right leg was bleeding.

Nawal Hasson said she pleaded with her husband not to go to the ceremonies but went with him when he refused to stay home.

“I had a feeling that something might happen, because terrorists are always targeting Shiites,” she said.

The two bombings occurred on the edge of Diyala province, not far from Baqouba, where fighting has raged for weeks between Sunni insurgents, Shiite militiamen and U.S.-Iraqi troops.


Last year’s Ashoura commemorations were largely peaceful, but suicide bombers killed 55 Shiites in 2005 and twin blasts killed at least 181 people in 2004.

Never Again?

Never Again?
By Aaron Hanscom | January 30, 2007

On the eve of this year’s International Day of Commemoration for Holocaust victims, the UN passed a resolution condemning any denial of the Holocaust. Specifically, the resolution “urges all member states unreservedly to reject any denial of the Holocaust as a historical event, either in full or in part, or any activities to this end.”  The US-introduced resolution did not specifically name Iran, even though Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sponsored a conference in December at which 67 Holocaust deniers questioned whether six million Jews were really exterminated by the Nazis.   
German Ambassador Thomas Matussek commended the UN Resolution, saying distortions of historical facts “are a shameful failure of the responsibility we all share to ensure a world free from such atrocities.”  Matussek was speaking on behalf of the European Union, whose nations have failed to live up to such a responsibility.  

If the Holocaust is not yet being denied all across Europe, it is well on its way to becoming forgotten.  Consider the case of the British town of Bolton in Manchester.  Responding to Muslim pressure, last week the Bolton Council canceled its Holocaust Memorial Event. A Genocide Memorial Day in June will now take its place. While Bolton’s Interfaith Council was consulted before the decision was made, Rabbi Joseph Lever of the United Synagogue – a participant in the last three Holocaust Memorial Events in Bolton – was not. 

This is not surprising. Bolton’s council members seem to be adopting the policy of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). The MCB has been boycotting the Holocaust Memorial Day for years as it seeks to replace it with a national Genocide Day, which will highlight the “ongoing genocide and human rights abuses of Palestinians” by Israelis. The fact that Bolton Council ignored the Jewish community when making its decision upset local Jewish leaders.  Louis Rapaport, president of the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester, explained: “There many not be many Jews in Bolton but the day is supposed to have an educational message to the whole community.  I can’t help feeling the decision was influenced by Bolton’s large Muslim community.” 

Indeed, Britain’s Muslim community can not tolerate the portrayal of Jews as victims because of the damage it would do to the “cult of Palestinianism,” which reigns supreme in European capitals.  By minimizing the horror of the Nazi genocide, it is much easier to get away with labeling Israel’s defensive tactics as genocidal.  “It is more than unfortunate that Bolton has seen fit to trivialize the remembrance of the Shoah,”said Holocaust educator David Arnold.  

The Holocaust is also being trivialized in other European cities, such as Ciempozuelos near Madrid.  Instead of celebrating Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27, the Spanish city chose to hold a “commemoration of the Palestinian genocide.” Israeli ambassador Victor Harel said, “This is an act of pure anti-Semitism, in which the memory of Jews and Israel are offended with monumental falsehoods.” 

Ciempozuelos is governed by Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), which is not known for being friendly to Israel.  In fact, the blog Iberian Notes reports that “the Asturias regional government, run by the PSOE, of course, financed and published a book called “Internationals in Israel” that calls Israel “a terrorist state” and calls for its “total defeat.”  Such rhetoric sounds like it could have come directly from the mouth of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.” 

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) condemned the decision of Mayor Susana León Gordillo to hold a “Palestinian Genocide Day” in Ciempozuelos.  In a letter to Gordiollo, the ADL stated: 

Your attempt to equate the industrialized mass murder of six million Jewish women, men and children, as well as millions of others, with the situation of the Palestinian people is shameful. It reflects an extremely disturbing tendency, which is particularly visible in Europe, to dishonor the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and de-legitimize the State of Israel by seeking to eradicate the clear moral difference between the Holocaust and the loss of Palestinian lives as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Applying the term ‘genocide’ to the Arab-Israeli conflict encourages hatred toward the State of Israel and deliberately insults those of us, both Jews and non-Jews, who seek to solemnly commemorate the victims of the Nazi campaign of slaughter.

Israeli professor Benny Morris recently predicted in the Jerusalem Post (“This Holocaust will be different”) that a nuclear attack by Iran against Israel is likely. Though the gas chambers will be replaced with Shihab missiles this time, at least one thing will remain the same. Morris writes that both the first and second holocausts “will have been preceded by decades of preparation of hearts and minds.”  Westerners have been taught that “Israel, in this age of multiculturalism, is an anachronism and superfluous.” He might have added that the world can’t live up to its promise of “Never again” when a significant portion of the Western world wants to forget the Holocaust ever happened in the first place.