Category Archives: Radical Islam

Middle East Reality

We need more politicians with a “reality” perspective.
WSJ 12/27/2017   By Reuel Marc Gerecht

Alot of people are in a funk over President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The liberal media, most former government officials who’ve dealt with the Israeli–Palestinian imbroglio, and just about everyone at the United Nations appear certain that the decision had a lot to do with Mr. Trump’s disruptive nature, the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Evangelical Christians and pro-Israel Republican donors.

It’s possible that his decision was based instead on an old-fashioned understanding of the way the world works, one that would be familiar to Middle Easterners: There are winners and losers in every conflict, and Palestinians have decisively lost in their struggle with the Jews of the Holy Land. Diplomacy based on denying reality isn’t helpful.

This view runs smack into the tenets of contemporary conflict resolution, in which diplomacy tries to make losers feels like winners, so that unpleasant compromises, at least in theory, will be easier to swallow. It alleviates the guilt of a Westernized people triumphing over Arabs that has made many in Europe and even the U.S. uncomfortable with Israeli superiority. It also runs counter to an assumption held widely among Western political elites—to wit, quoting the current French ambassador to the U.N.: “Israel is the key to peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.” Israelis, in this view, must make the big compromises.

The truth is surely the opposite. Recognizing the extent and irreversibility of Palestinian defeat is the first step in the long process of salvaging Palestinian society from its paralyzing morass. Far too many Palestinians still want to pretend they haven’t lost, that the “right of return” and Jerusalem’s unsettled status give hope that the gradual erosion of Israel is still possible. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas tapped a common theme among Palestinians in his recent oration before the Organization of Islamic Cooperation when he complained that Jews “are really excellent in faking and counterfeiting history and religion.”

The biggest problem the Palestinians have is that the Israelis don’t trust them, and the Israelis cannot be ignored, sidestepped, bullied, bombed or boycotted out of eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. Fatah, the lead organization of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the muscle behind the Palestinian Authority, has often acted publicly as if the Israelis weren’t the foreigners who truly mattered, appealing to Europeans, Russians and Americans to intercede on its behalf. Americans and Europeans have consistently encouraged this reflex by stressing their own role in resolving the conflict, usually by suggesting that they would cajole or push Israelis toward Palestinian positions.

For the Israelis, this has seemed a surreal stage play. The Fatah leadership is well aware that only the Israeli security services have kept the West Bank from going the way of the Gaza Strip, where Fatah’s vastly better-armed forces were easily overwhelmed by Hamas in 2007. Fatah’s secular police state—and that is what the Palestinian Authority is—has proved, so far, no match for Hamas.

Western diplomacy has failed abysmally to recognize the profound split between Palestinian fundamentalists and secularists and played wistfully to the hope that a deeply corrupt Fatah oligarchy could conclude a permanent peace accord with Israel. This delusion’s concomitant bet: Such a deal would terminally weaken Hamas, since the secularists would have finally brought home the mutton.

The most important point, however, is always ignored. Competent, transparent, nonviolent Palestinian governance is the only chance Palestinian society has of escaping the fundamentalist critique that has undermined oligarchs across the Arab world. Fearful of playing the imperialists and keenly aware of the efficiency of having a police state as a partner, Americans, Europeans and Israelis have failed to use the leverage of financial aid to set standards for Palestinian governance on the West Bank and in Gaza.

Palestinian Muslims are no different than other Muslim Arabs. Religious militancy has grown astronomically over the past 40 years as the ruling secular elites have calcified into corrupt, hypocritical, heavyhanded autocracies. Westerners have not dealt with this well, since it defies the top-down approach inherit in diplomacy—and also because fundamentalists terrify them. Yet the past ought to tell Americans and Europeans that a two-state solution to the Israel–Palestinian clash isn’t going to happen before Palestinians reconcile in a functioning democracy that doesn’t scare their Jewish neighbors. The overwhelming burden here is upon the Palestinians. The most valuable American contribution to the peace process, so far only episodically delivered, is to remind the Palestinians that they first have to get their own house in order and the Israelis that they have to care about how Palestinians treat their own. Too often, the Israelis have viewed the Palestinians— and Arab Muslims in general—as the ineducable “other,” who is best left to his own rules so long as Israelis aren’t killed. Any Israeli effort to control Palestinian-on-Palestinian abuse will surely be met with a hail-storm of censure from the West. But the Israelis ought to take a longer view. Barrier or no barrier, they are going to live with the Palestinians forever. Israel should certainly want to correct its enormous mistake of allowing Yasser Arafat, the father of Palestinian nationalism, to import his thugocracy into the West Bank and Gaza.

Most Arabs have adjusted, however reluctantly, to the permanence of Zion. They did so four decades ago when Egypt, slowly collapsing under its own military dictatorship, checked out of the war. Americans, Europeans and Israelis—not “the Arabs”— are primarily responsible for elongating the big Palestinian delusions about the “right of return” and a sovereign East Jerusalem. It’s way past time they stopped. Mr. Trump’s decision, whatever the motivation, is a step forward.

Mr. Gerecht is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.


Family Loses Seven in Egyptian Attack

Why isn’t the Muslim world enraged over this kind of activity by ‘their own’??

CAIRO—For Samia Morkous and her family, the trip to a Coptic Christian monastery was meant as a pilgrimage of gratitude for her husband’s recovery from lung surgery. Then Islamic State gunmen ambushed the tour bus south of Cairo.

Her son Sameh opened the door of the small bus and then recoiled and fell back from shots to his head, said Mrs. Morkous. Several gunmen boarded the bus and demanded that the occupants recite the Muslim creed.

Those who refused—or who answered with Christian hymns—were immediately killed, Mrs. Morkous said at a Cairo hospital where she is recovering from bullet wounds to her thighs suffered in the Friday attack.

When it was over, Mrs. Morkous’s husband, Mohsen; two adult sons; a teenage grandson; a 4-year-old granddaughter; and two other rela- tives were among 30 people killed.

“We came to get blessings and rejoice with our children,” Mrs. Morkous, who lives in Tinley Park, Ill., said of the trip to the ancient St. Samuel Monastery.

“It was like the world flipped upside down around us,” she said of the attack.

The couple were on their first trip to Egypt in nearly two years, after immigrating to the U.S. several years ago.

Mr. Morkous had successfully recovered from lung surgery and recently became a naturalized American citizen. He worked at a nephew’s hair salon in Country Club Hills, Ill., said Rev. Samuel Azmy, his priest at the St. George Coptic Orthodox Church. Mrs. Morkous, who is 56, holds a green card.

The ambush in Minya province, about 190 miles south of Cairo, was the deadliest terrorist attack ever on Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority. It marked the latest in a series of Islamic State attacks on Copts since December, including three bombings of Coptic churches that killed 70 people.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, facing increasing criticism from Copts who say he has failed to protect them, ordered rare cross-border airstrikes on militant camps in Libya in the wake of the attack.

The strikes were aimed at the Libyan city of Derna. Forces headed by a Sisi ally, Gen. Khalifa Haftar, say the city is home to armed groups linked to al Qaeda, but not Islamic State, which was driven out in 2015.

On Tuesday, the Libyan National Army said it had set up an operations room to coordinate airstrikes with Egypt. Spokesmen for both militaries declined to give more detail on the arrangement, including whether Egypt had launched any additional airstrikes after the initial round.

A spokesman for Mr. Sisi also didn’t respond to messages and calls seeking comment. Mr. Sisi, in a televised speech following the Friday attack, said the gunmen had trained in unspecified militant camps in Libya.

Visitors to Mrs. Morkous’s hospital room kissed her hand, asking for her blessings and offering condolences. They told her that her family members were in a better place and marveled at an interview she gave to a local television station in which she said she is praying for the murderers.

She recalled the attack in a low voice and short sentences punctuated by deep breaths. “There was heavy gunfire,” she said.

In an effort to save a relative who had a gun pointed at him, Mrs. Morkous said she removed her gold jewelry and handed it to a gunman. He shot her family member anyway.

“May the Lord forgive them,” she said.

A family friend, Samuel Mokhtar, said Mrs. Morkous will return to the U.S. only if her daughters-in-law whose husbands were killed and her grandchildren who lost their fathers accompany her.

“She won’t leave them behind,” he said.

—Tamer El-Ghobashy and Shibani Mahtani contributed to this article.


Morrissey on Manchester

WSJ 5/25/2017
Celebrating my birthday in Manchester as news of the Manchester Arena bomb broke. The anger is monumental.

For what reason will this ever stop?

Theresa May says such attacks “will not break us”, but her own life is lived in a bullet-proof bubble, and she evidently does not need to identify any young people today in Manchester morgues. Also, “will not break us” means that the tragedy will not break her, or her policies on immigration. The young people of Manchester are already broken – thanks all the same, Theresa.

Sadiq Khan says “London is united with Manchester”, but he does not condemn Islamic State who have claimed responsibility for the bomb. The Queen receives absurd praise for her ‘strong words’ against the attack, yet she does not cancel today’s garden party at Buckingham Palace – for which no criticism is allowed in the Britain of free press. Manchester mayor Andy Burnham says the attack is the work of an “extremist”. An extreme what? An extreme rabbit?

In modern Britain everyone seems petrified to officially say what we all say in private. Politicians tell us they are unafraid, but they are never the victims. How easy to be unafraid when one is protected from the line of fire. The people have no such protections.


The Truth About Muhammad Ali and the Draft

My bet? That you’ve never heard this before…
WSJ 4/28/2017 By Paul Beston

On April 28, 1967, Muhammad Ali—then still known to many by his birth name, Cassius Clay—reported to Local Board No. 61 in Houston for induction into the U.S. armed forces. The 25-year-old heavyweight champion spent the morning filling out forms and receiving a physical exam. In the afternoon, when his name was called, he did not step forward. He wrote down his reason: “I refuse to be inducted into the armed forces of the United States because I claim to be exempt as a minister of the religion of Islam.” He meant the Nation of Islam, the black separatist organization headed by Elijah Muhammad, also known as the Messenger.

Ali was swiftly convicted of draft evasion, a felony. Remaining free while his lawyers pursued appeals, he became a generational flashpoint—a reliable gauge of political views on the Vietnam War.

For every athlete who wishes to “make a statement” today, and plenty do, no exemplar looms larger than Ali. He paid a steep price for his stand: Spurning due process, boxing commissions stripped him of his title and banned him from the sport for 3½ years. This meant losing millions of dollars in the prime of his career.

In 1971 the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. Since then he has become a venerated figure, thanks to his greatness in the ring, the magnetic force of his personality, the broadly accepted narrative about the folly of Vietnam, and the liberalization of American culture. His death last June prompted a weeklong commemoration, with funeral ceremonies befitting a head of state. Ali, we were told, had been right all along in his principled opposition to the war.

The truth, though hard to make out under the thick moss of mythology, is that Ali refused induction not out of principle but from fear of disobeying Elijah Muhammad, who had stipulated that the champ not serve in a “white man’s war.” (Muhammad had done jail time himself for resisting the draft during World War II.) “You just don’t buck Mr. Muhammad and get away with it,” Ali said, and he saw what happened to people who tried. Malcolm X, who had been close to Ali, was assassinated in February 1965. After Ali’s former press secretary told the FBI that he had information about Malcolm’s killers, he too was found dead. Other dissidents simply disappeared.

Ali got the message. In March 1967, a month before his appearance at the draft board, Ali told his boxing idol, Sugar Ray Robinson, he couldn’t join the army.

“Elijah Muhammad told me that I can’t go,” Ali said.

“You’ve got to go,” Robinson replied.

“I’m afraid, Ray,” Ali said. “I’m real afraid.” He had tears in his eyes.

“If you ask me,” Robinson said later, “he wasn’t afraid of jail. He was afraid of being killed by the Muslims.”

Nearly a decade later, Ali told reporter Dave Kindred: “I would have gotten out of [the Nation of Islam] a long time ago, but you saw what they did to Malcolm X. . . . I can’t leave the Muslims. They’d shoot me, too.”

It speaks volumes that Ali was more willing to face jail time than the Messenger’s wrath, especially since, by his own admission, the government had offered him “all kinds of deals.” Military brass neither wanted him in combat nor wished to see him become a draft resister. He would have served in a ceremonial capacity, as Joe Louis had in World War II, visiting and entertaining troops. The federal prosecutor who handled the case sensed that Ali was ready to sign up for a noncombat role, but that “some of his advisers wanted to make a martyr out of him.” They succeeded.

It is not the only irony of Ali’s life that his submission to Elijah Muhammad’s authority somehow transformed him into a hero of freethinking and moral conscience. Yet he deserves credit for handling himself with magnanimity and élan. The fairminded can sympathize with his quandary: searching for meaning in segregated America, he found the wrong answers, and discovered his mistake only when it was too late.

Had Ali chosen more wisely, he might have become a unifier, like Louis, whose entire career, especially his service in the Army, brought Americans together. By contrast, Ali’s refusal to serve helped deepen America’s racial and political divisions. He hurt himself and achieved no social good in doing so. His retroactive canonization doesn’t change these stubborn realities.

Understanding the Ali story in this way, one feels less inclined to celebration than to sorrow. It is commonplace to see the tragedy of Muhammad Ali’s life as coming in its second half, when he was stricken with Parkinson’s. The defining tragedy came earlier. That the events in Houston are now so broadly acclaimed— and distorted—suggests that the tragedy is not his alone, but ours.

Mr. Beston is managing editor of City Journal. His book, “The Boxing Kings: When American Heavyweights Ruled the Ring,” will be published in September.