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Experts Assess Israel’s Regional Challenges Vis-à-Vis Iran

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 05:00

The annual Conference of Presidents, held at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel, held a panel on Iran and regional challenges that Israel faces.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, explained to the audience that Iran is a challenge from three major perspectives. “The first and most dangerous issue is that the Iranians did not put away their dream to be a nuclear, military state,” he said.

He added that when Israel discovered the hidden Iranian archives last year, the question had to be asked: “Why did the Iranians keep all this knowledge in Tehran? The answer is simple: To use it one day.”

The second matter, according to Amidror, is that the Iranians are trying to build an independent war machine in Syria. “This is the war we are in now. When [Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad] Zarif talks about war with Israel, this is what he is talking about.”

And the third “is the effort by Iran to enhance the capabilities of Hamas and mainly Hezbollah to bring in more accurate weapons systems and to help Hamas build its capabilities.”

Amidror explained that from the Israeli perspective, “these are three different areas in which Israel is very occupied and concerned, and doing what is necessary to prevent the Iranians from implementing their plans.”

‘Convincing skeptics that Iran is a real threat’

The Mideast analyst also explained that while Iran may not be directly pursuing a nuclear weapon directly at the moment, they are preparing for it by working on long-range missiles and next-generation centrifuges.

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On America’s pullout from Syria: “We should concentrate on how to handle Israeli policy and not American policy. They will make their decisions. America was in Syria to fight ISIS—not Iran. We need to ask ourselves what the consequences are of America pulling out. … The day America pulls forces out of Syria, Iran will open a land corridor from Iran to Syria and will make weapons transfers much easier for Iran. We need to focus on solutions to this new situation. We don’t want America to do the job for us. … We don’t expect anyone to fight for Israel. Israel will defend itself, by itself.”

Former Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, lamented that when Israel speaks about the problem with Iran in Europe, nations often turn a deaf ear. He explained that when it comes to European allies and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, “the challenge Israel has on the diplomatic side is convincing skeptics that Iran is a real threat.”

He emphasized that Israel cannot only address hardware such as centrifuges, but that it also “must address Iran’s ideology. It is a country which feels that the borders established around it shouldn’t confine it. … We need to do two things. We need to show what Iranian ambitions are about and use this evidence to make our point. We also need to show what they are doing with the Iran agreement and maybe this will wake people up but unfortunately many people are still asleep.”

Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Gilead, executive director at the Institute for Policy and Strategy IDC Herzliya, was incredulous at the passive world response to Iran’s hegemonic ambitions, saying “the fact that Iran keeps threatening to destroy Israel and nothing happens to them is unbelievable.”

Gilead said Israel cannot underestimate Iran, and that the Islamic regime is still bent on taking over the region.

He also noted that in this regard, “Iran is not successful technically and operationally, but Israel is not successful strategically. We haven’t convinced them that it is not worth it to pursue their ambition to destroy Israel.”

Palestinians Blamed for Destruction of Gush Etzion Cherry Orchards, Vineyards

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 04:46

In further evidence of Palestinian agricultural terrorism, approximately 200 cherry trees and vines in a kibbutz near Gush Etzion were destroyed earlier this week.

According to reports, the trees and vines, which are on land owned by KKL-Jewish National Fund, but tended by Kfar Etzion settlement residents, were uprooted and set on fire by Arab vandals.

The head of the Gush Etzion regional council, Shlomo Ne’eman, said “we must take steps to eradicate agricultural terror and fight terrorism in all its cruel forms,” said a report in The Jerusalem Post.

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Amitai Porat, the secretary-general of Kfar Etzion, said officials in the settlement were “working with the relevant parties and government ministers to join this struggle more intensely, with the understanding that where the plow will go, the border will be determined,” according to a report in The Times of Israel.

This incident is another in a line of agricultural terrorism to occur in Israel’s Biblical heartland (West Bank). Just days previously, local Arabs destroyed dozens of grapevines in Shiloh in Samaria and Hebron in Judea.

Along the Gaza envelope, Israeli agricultural communities have been ravaged by arson terrorism, destroying thousands of acres of prime arable land.

Scientists Baffled by New Phenomenon: Explosions of Light in Cloudless Skies

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 04:02

A Russian satellite discovered strange explosions of light in the sky that have scientists say may be an entirely unprecedented phenomenon. Despite their best efforts, the satellite that detected the lights has gone offline and the scientists still don’t understand the cause behind them.

The Research Institute of Nuclear Physics at the Russian State University reported that an ultraviolet telescope mounted on the Lomonosov MVL-300 satellite registered unexplained “explosions” in the upper atmosphere.

“With the help of the telescope, we have obtained even more important results than we expected,” Mikhail Panasyuk told Sputnik News. “It looks like we have encountered new physical phenomena… We do not yet know their physical nature… For example, during Lomonosov’s flight at an altitude of several dozen kilometers, we have registered several times a very powerful ‘explosion’ of light. But everything was clear underneath it, no storms, no clouds.”

The scientists also confirmed that there were no ground explosions or missile launches at the time they observed the light flashes.

The Lomonosov satellite was launched in 2016 to measure the chemical composition of high-energy cosmic rays from near-Earth orbit and for studying cosmic gamma-ray bursts. The satellite stopped transmitting in June 2018.

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Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, was surprised that the news of this new phenomenon has not made front page news.

“Lights in the heaven are one of the signs the Messiah is imminent,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News, citing Balaam’s reference to the Star of Jacob.

What I see for them is not yet, What I behold will not be soon: A star rises from Yaakov, A scepter comes forth from Yisrael; It smashes the brow of Moab, The foundation of all children of Shet. Numbers 24:17

“The end-of-days is going to be a war between truth and lies,” Rabbi Berger said. “This war even exists within science. If a man sees the truth, he needs to shout it to the world. If a man chooses a lie over the truth, it is a sign that he rejects the rule of God; that God created the world and still is the one who makes the world continue. This is the basis of idolatry.”

This is the basis of redemption; to recognize God’s role in the world. We saw that in Egypt. The rejection of this increases just before the redemption. Egypt went through the plagues and did not accept Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’). Here we have scientists seeing a new type of lightning, a sign that Hashem is operating in the world. This is something that should be shouted out to the world.”

The satellite also recorded a similar phenomenon called sprites which appears above thunderstorms. Little else is known about them. Sprites are relatively weak and appear as orange-red in the upper atmosphere, above the storm clouds. Sprites were verified when photographed unintentionally in 1989, underscoring how little is known about natural phenomena that take place directly overhead. The flashes recorded by the Lomonosov could not have been sprites as they appeared in cloudless skies.

Israeli Scientists Have Launch Date for First Lunar Probe

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 03:34

Israel’s maiden voyage to the moon finally has a launch date. Israel had been set to launch its first lunar probe into outer space at the end of 2018, but repeated delays have set the project back.

The probe will the be smallest machine to ever land on the Lunar Surface.

The ADL’s #MeToo Moment

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 02:00

When the Gillette ad condemning “toxic masculinity” aired, the ADL was quick to jump on board. The former Jewish civil rights group, whose priorities had sharply drifted away from Jewish issues, even put out a lesson plan for 8-year-old boys warning about “The trap of masculinity” and “aggressive” behavior.

It was an odd choice for a group whose CEO was under fire for an alleged physical assault on a woman.

In 2016, Ambassadors Against BDS brought together two ambassadors to the United Nations, America’s Nikki Haley and Israel’s Danny Danon, and many major Jewish groups for the first anti-BDS summit at the UN. It was an impressive accomplishment that used an anti-Israel forum for a pro-Israel event.

But behind the scenes a confrontation unfolded that would pit those organizations against each other.

Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s new left-wing CEO, was there and followed the lead of the pro-Israel speakers with a sharp denunciation of BDS. “Let me be clear: at its core BDS is an anti-Semitic movement,” he declared. Like so many speakers who begin their sentences with, “let me be clear”, the former Obama official was actually disguising a hedge. Earlier that month, Greenblatt had written an essay arguing that the “vast majority of BDS supporters” were actually frustrated by the lack of peace.

At its core, he was suggesting, BDS might be anti-Semitic, but most of its supporters were good people.

Greenblatt’s ambiguity, condemning BDS while defending the “vast majority of BDS supporters”, was typical of the organization’s erratic course under his leadership. BDS supporters had appeared at ADL events and the formerly pro-Israel group had endorsed pro-BDS movements such as Black Lives Matter. The ADL had lobbied against anti-BDS legislation and condemned Jewish groups, like the Zionist Organization of America and Canary Mission, that fought unapologetically against BDS supporters.

The ADL’s double game had infuriated many in the Jewish community. And Greenblatt, a former Obama official with no experience running a Jewish organization, was equally angry. His vision of the ADL as an all-purpose social justice organization, that would act as a bridge, harnessing funds from Jewish donors for social justice causes while communicating Jewish concerns to the intersectional left, had failed.

Greenblatt couldn’t lash out at the leftist groups that had snubbed the ADL, so he directed his fury at the pro-Israel groups who saw his pandering to anti-Semites as a betrayal of the Jewish community.

And that fury allegedly reached its climax behind the scenes at the United Nations. What followed was a confrontation that has divided Jewish organizations and a scandal that took two years to reach its climax while exposing malfeasance in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organization.

Ambassadors Against BDS had brought out an array of Jewish organizations and activists. The ADL was there, but so were its vocal critics at the Zionist Organization of America. The two groups didn’t just occupy different sides of the alphabet, but different sides of the political spectrum. And in the Trump era, the ZOA was every bit as relevant and pro-Israel, as the ADL had grown irrelevant and anti-Israel.

And Greenblatt allegedly decided to vent his rage on Liz Berney, the ZOA’s Director of Special Projects.

“He came up to my right side, put his arm around my back, grabbed me with his left hand on my left shoulder. He starts pushing me with the force of his arm down the hall. I was trying to get away from him, and he was restraining me,” Liz Berney related. “He’s continuing to hold my shoulder really tight, not letting me out of his grip, and basically dragging me down the hall.”

Women involved in pro-Israel activism have learned to expect not only harsh words, but physical force, from leftist advocates of peace and tolerance. But prior to Greenblatt’s alleged assault on Liz Berney, the most notorious incident had been the assault by UCLA Hillel Director Chaim Seidler-Feller on pro-Israel journalist Rachel Neuwirth and Allyson Rowen Taylor, a former vice president of StandWithUs.

“I saw my rabbi take swings to Neuwirth’s face and kicks to her legs,” one eyewitness described.

“He came after me and lunged at me and started screaming and (a student) literally put his arms around him and pulled him off of me,” Taylor related.

Chaim Seidler-Feller, an anti-Israel activist and a founding member of Americans for Peace Now, had attacked the two pro-Israel women at an event for Alan Dershowitz’s book, “The Case for Israel.”

Seidler-Feller later wrote a letter of apology, claiming to be, “deeply sorry that I hit, kicked and scratched you.” Despite this admission Seidler-Feller remained a respected Hillel figure. And many in the Jewish organizational world sided with him and came to his defense, rather than that of his victim.

Today, Seidler-Feller, remains affiliated with the UCLA Hillel, the Shalom Hartman Institute, the Wexner Heritage Foundation and many other Jewish groups. His name frequently appears on anti-Israel letters.

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The same year that Greenblatt allegedly assaulted Liz Berney, the Jewish Journal celebrated Seidler-Feller’s “40 year legacy” at UCLA. There was a lesson here and it was a deeply troubling one.

If Liz Berney and the ZOA were to hold Greenblatt accountable, they would be swimming upstream. The celebration of Seidler-Feller and J Street’s more recent complicity in Ari Shavit’s sexual harassment showed how little accountability there was for leftist Jewish men who assaulted and harassed women.

The ADL’s #MeToo moment had arrived and the organization responded by denying everything.

“When ZOA leveled these charges privately to the ADL two years ago, we — despite their provenance — took them seriously, looked into the matter, and determined that no inappropriate conduct took place,” the ADL’s spokesman contended.

But, according to Morton Klein, the head of the ZOA, no one from the ADL had even spoken to the victim.

“ZOA has a long history of making outrageous claims against Jewish organizations they disagree with, including for many years, the ADL,” the ADL insisted. “That is why the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations is currently conducting a disciplinary hearing about ZOA’s behavior.”

Instead of sanctioning the ADL, the Conference of Presidents chose to go after the ZOA.

When asked for an apology for his alleged assault at a Conference meeting that July, Greenblatt allegedly shouted, “I’m never going to apologize to her.”

Nor did the Conference put any pressure on him to do so. Instead it claimed that it had no jurisdiction over an assault by a leader of one of its members, while instead focusing complaints by leftist Conference members collaborating with anti-Israel hate groups that they had been criticized by the ZOA.

The ADL, and more explicit allies of the anti-Israel left, HIAS and NCJW, often appeared more comfortable in the anti-Israel camp. The National Jewish Coalition of Women was particularly notorious for its backing of the anti-Semitic Women’s March. CEO Nancy Kaufman had earlier made it clear that her group would continue collaborating with anti-Israel activists. And yet the NCJW went unsanctioned.

“The ZOA cannot say that ADL helps anti-Semites join the anti-Israel lobby,” Jonathan Greenblatt had insisted. But, in a double standard, the ADL was allowed to accuse the ZOA of Islamophobia.

Meanwhile Greenblatt allegedly refused to show up and be questioned at the hearings. The ADL complained that the ZOA had violated confidentiality and attacked Liz Berney for going public with her story, claiming that it prevented resolution of the dispute. These tactics are typical of a cover-up.

The Conference of Presidents sided with the ADL and the anti-Israel left, allegedly violating its own due process rules by imposing sanctions on the pro-Israel group without hearing from the ZOA. Even though the ZOA had been attacked by some of these organizations, it was condemned by the Conference for the subjective metric of “the manner and tone of otherwise permissible or legitimate criticisms”.

The “manner and tone” of Greenblatt’s physical assault were left off the table.

The ZOA was accused in the Conference ruling of being “unnecessarily shrill”. It was a troublingly sexist choice of words when sanctioning the female victim of an alleged assault.

But the entire process had been troubling from beginning to end. In the #MeToo era, the Conference silenced a woman who claimed to have been assaulted while empowering an alleged abuser. It ignored the most damning issue at hand and instead engaged in tone policing in defense of the ZOA.

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations had come face to face with the ADL’s #MeToo moment and had behaved as badly as the establishment had after the Seidler-Feller assault. Instead of using the incident as a teachable moment, it had enabled not only an alleged abuser, but the larger betrayal of the Jewish community by organizations collaborating with the anti-Israel Left.

And the two are inseparably interrelated.

When the umbrella group of major Jewish organizations won’t take the side of Israel against the Left, why expect it to take the side of a pro-Israel woman against the leftist leader accused of assaulting her?

Reprinted with author’s permission from Sultan Knish Blog

After Warsaw Summit, Arabs Launch ‘Anti-Normalization’ Campaign

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 01:00

In response to last week’s US-sponsored conference in Warsaw on peace and security in the Middle East, which brought together several Arab foreign ministers and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Arab political activists and media representatives have launched a campaign aimed at criminalizing normalization between the Arab states and Israel.

The campaign, launched on Saturday on Twitter, is being waged under the hashtag “Normalization is Treason.”

The purpose of the campaign is to shame Arabs who visit Israel or meet with Israelis by accusing them of promoting normalization with the Israeli “enemy.”

Many Arabs, including Palestinians, have expressed outrage over the participation of Arab foreign ministers in the Warsaw conference, which they claim was part of a US “conspiracy” to promote normalization between the Arab countries and Israel.

“Normalization with the occupation is an unforgivable treason,” commented Abdel Qaser El-Sharif. “Our Palestinian people have paid a heavy price for the sake of their freedom and the dignity of the Arab nation.”

Yasser al-Agha, from the Gaza Strip, said that “normalization with the occupation means rewarding it for its crimes against our people.” He also urged the Arab people to “move quickly to stop the train of normalization.”

Hazem Qawassmeh, a Palestinian from the West Bank, tweeted: “Those who normalize with the Zionist occupation are partners in the construction of settlements.”

Palestinian journalist Bilal Ismail, also from the Gaza Strip, commented: “Sitting with the Zionist enemy at the same table is a betrayal of the blood of the martyrs.”

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Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem accused the Arab participants of helping Netanyahu in his election campaign. He said that Netanyahu’s “celebration” over his appearance alongside Arab government officials shows that the Arabs have done him a free service.

A group called the Gulf Coalition Against Normalization condemned Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait for participating in the Warsaw summit along with Netanyahu.

“We condemn this step which clearly disregards the feelings and positions of the Arabs in general and the people of the Gulf countries in particular,” the group said in a statement. “In addition, the participation of the Arabs in the conference sends a bad message to our Arab people in occupied Palestine who are suffering from ethnic cleansing and a Zionist policy of colonization. We stress our rejection of all forms of normalization with the Zionist entity, no matter what the excuses.”

Reprinted with author’s permission from The Jerusalem Post

Israeli Elections: Unite the Torah Nationalists Now!

Tue, 02/19/2019 - 00:00

A few weeks ago, I congratulated Bezalel Smotrich on his victory over Uri Ariel for leadership of the National Union party, and spoke with him about the historic opportunity that had opened up, after Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked left the Jewish Home party, which National Union had run together with, in the last elections. I emphasized that Bennett and Shaked’s derech – direction, wasn’t “our way.” And now, that they’re out of the leadership positions, how important it is that the religious right, the Torah nationalists of all the small parties, unite into one bloc, for the sake of the People, Torah, and Land of Israel, to save otherwise potentially lost seats, in the upcoming elections. He agreed, and although I’m sure he was already thinking about it, its important he heard from the grassroots, what they want.

That means, the Jewish Home party, Smotrich’s National Union, former MK Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party, former Shas chairman and minister, Eli Yishai’s Haredi nationalist Yachad party, and Otzma Yehudit, led by former MK Michael Ben-Ari must run together, for the sake of the country.

Rabbi Zalman Melamed, head of the Beit El Yeshiva and one of the most prominent rabbis in the religious Zionist community, recently said the same thing, calling on four of the right-wing and national-religious parties, Jewish Home, National Union, Yahad, and Otzma Yehudit to run on a joint ticket.

According to a recent internal poll conducted by the Ma’agar Mochot Institute, should they all run together, a joint ticket would net a total of at least 12 seats, boosting them past the New Right of Bennett and Shaked, and making them Likud’s largest potential coalition partner on the right.

Contrast that with another poll conducted by Ma’agar Mochot recently, on behalf of Israel Hayom and i24NEWS, which shows that if no new alliances are formed, it could cost the right-wing and religious bloc as many as 17 mandates, probably giving the election to the left.

Such a united front of Torah Nationalists, might even pull some of the more nationalistic Haredi vote away from Shas and United Torah Judaism. In a recent poll conducted by Dialcom, on behalf of the Kav Itonut chain of local newspapers, 20.1% said they planned to vote for one of the non-haredi parties.

At the end of last week, Jewish Home and National Union announced they would run on a joint list. Rabbi Rafi Peretz (JH) Bezalel Smotrich (NU) later appeared together on Channel 12’s “Meet the Israeli Press.” When asked whether the JH-NU party would unite with Otzma Yehudit, Smotrich said, “We will examine every possible option of unity, with all of the Religious Zionist [parties] and in the entire right-wing camp.” And Rabbi Peretz added, “I’ll say it clearly: Religious Zionism is a national movement which believes in a Jewish and democratic State of Israel. Whoever is our natural partner – that’s great. Bezalel and I will sit and think together about this issue in the coming days.”

They better think fast because the deadline to submit party lists is coming quickly on February 21.

The travesty of the Torah Nationalists, the Likud, and the Right more generally, since 1992, has been lack of vision, direction, and disunity, leading to the Oslo Accords, the Gaza Disengagement, and untold suffering.

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After it was announced that Jewish Home and National Union would reunite, even the Likud party was happy, “We welcome the agreement between the Jewish Home and the National Union and call on them to unite with additional forces to ensure the victory of the right-wing bloc in the elections.”

Also the Samaria Regional Council Head, Yossi Dagan, while praising Jewish Home and National Union for uniting, warned that the right still needs the list to include both Otzma Yehudit as well as Eli Yishai’s party. “The entire public is happy and praising the unity between the Jewish Home and National Union parties, but we have no time to debate or to hold long negotiations with the other right-wing parties regarding negotiations. Right now we need unity between all the right-wing parties. The one who prevents such unity will be responsible for the fate of all of the settlements.”

Dagan continued, “Ideological purity or concerns about placement on the party’s list, may give control to the left. Considerations regarding chairs do not take priority over saving Israel’s settlements. I want to say clearly: A leftist government and a second Oslo may be just around the corner. Ending up with a leftist government because too many right-wing parties did not pass the electoral threshold is not as far-off a possibility as it seems.”

The next step in solving the election puzzle, to prevent the Left from returning to power, after all the Torah nationalist parties unite into a bloc, ideally would be Likud, Bennett’s New Right, and Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu, uniting also into a bloc.

So that, just as the more observant part of the Religious Zionist community need vote for one united bloc and no votes will be wasted; so too, the secular nationalist, traditional and less observant elements of the religious Zionist community, will be able to vote for one bloc and not waste any votes.

It’s time for all the big egos to get out of the way and let leadership and statesmanship enter.

It’s time to unite the Torah Nationalists into one bloc for the upcoming elections!

Israel Freezes More than $130 Million from PA Tax Revenue

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 06:50

Israel’s Security Cabinet finally implemented a law freezing Palestinian Authority funds and originally approved in the Knesset in July 2018. Israel decided to deduct NIS 502,697,000 (US $138,000,000) from the funds designated for transfer to the Palestinian Authority.

At the Security Cabinet officials presented data to the effect that in 2018, the Palestinian Authority transferred the aforesaid amount to terrorists imprisoned in Israel and their families and to released prisoners. Therefore, it was decided to freeze the same amount of funds from the tax revenues that Israel collects for the Palestinian Authority.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under increasing pressure to implement the tax freeze following 19-year-old Ori Ansbacher’s brutal rape and murder earlier in the month. The Palestinian suspect reportedly admitted that the killing was “nationalistically-motivated.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said of the move, “No country in the world should pay the vile terrorists that murder its people. The blood money the PA gives to terrorists reflects its culture of terror and incitement,” according to The Algemeiner.

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“We will continue to work with the international community against the financial industry that funds murderers and encourages further attacks,” he added.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah said the move amounted to a “theft of Palestinian public money” and showed “Israel’s enactment of racist laws in support of the occupation” which “undermined the two-state solution,” according to a report on i24 News.

Speaking to Kan public broadcaster, a PA official warned that “this could jeopardize the Palestinian economy and undermine the PA’s ability to pay its salaries on time.”

Israel views the Palestinian payments as incitement to murder or pay-to-slay as they are euphemistically known. The Palestinian Authority counter claims that the payments are a source of welfare for families who have lost their main breadwinner.

The freeze comes as the Palestinians face major budget cuts made last year after the United States slashed funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee program UNRWA and for development programs in the Palestinian territories. The UN’s World Food Program also cut back services due to funding shortages.

JOEL 2:13

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 06:27

Yoel tells B’nei Yisrael [children of Israel] that all is not lost; if they repent, the impending disaster can be averted. However, the repentance must not focus on external symbols and behavior, but rather must consist of a genuine change in thoughts and actions. Tearing one’s clothing is a sign of mourning, but Yoel cautions that these actions must reflect genuine feelings of remorse. He then references the divine attributes of mercy detailed in Exodus in the context of the giving of the second set of tablets of the Law, which symbolizes the renewal of the covenant. By mentioning the divine attributes, Yoel reminds his people that God gives second chances, and also hints to them how they should behave in order to once again find favor in His eyes.

The Evolution Conspiracy

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 05:46

An online petition has collected the signatures of more than 1,000 scientists who are calling into question Darwin’s evolutionary theory, a theory that has remained unchallenged for more than 150 years. Many are skeptical of the theory and one religious scientist calls the insistence on random mutation a “conspiracy” intended to remove the possibility of a Creator, something Darwin himself never intended.

Last week, scientists around the world celebrated the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the English naturalist and biologist, who first proposed the theory of evolution based on random natural mutation and natural selection. But not everyone is celebrating.

The petition states simply, “We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged.”

The statement was first drafted and circulated by Discovery Institute in 2001 in response to widespread claims that no credible scientists existed who doubted Neo-Darwinism. Discovery Institute subsequently took out an ad in The New York Review of Books and elsewhere showcasing more than 100 scientists who were willing to publicly express their scientific skepticism of Neo-Darwinism.

Since 2001, the signatories of the statement have grown to over 1,000 scientists, both in the United States and around the world. Signatories of the Scientific Dissent From Darwinism must either hold a Ph.D. in a scientific field such as biology, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, computer science, or one of the other natural sciences; or they must hold an M.D. and serve as a professor of medicine.

Dr. Gerald Schroeder, an Orthodox Jewish physicist with a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), signed onto the petition, agreeing wholeheartedly with its premise.

“It’s time to review the knee-jerk conclusion that evolution is driven by chance,” Dr. Schroeder told Breaking Israel News. “The unquestioning insistence on random mutation is a conspiracy by the scientific community against the possibility that there might be a creating God.

“Darwin himself never said it was by chance,” Dr. Schroeder noted, citing the final paragraph in Darwin’s seminal work, On the Origin of Species, published in 1859.

“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Dr. Schroeder explained that this paragraph was included in the five final editions of the book but not in the first edition which was published in haste.

“Some scientists who discuss the theory of evolution intentionally refer to the first edition which omits the mention of the Creator,” Dr. Schroeder said. “Or they quote Darwin but omit the word ‘Creator,'”

Dr. Schroeder was careful to differentiate between the theory of evolution and the fact of evolution.

“It has been proven that life developed from the simple to the complex,” Dr. Schroeder said. “But this perfectly reflects the process of creation as presented in the Bible. The fossil record follows precisely what Genesis outlined in the first chapter.”

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The theory of evolution as presented by Darwin describes a random process, an assertion Dr. Schroeder believes exposes a “prejudice” in the scientific community.

“The word ‘evolution’ does not intrinsically demand that the process be random,” Dr. Schroeder said. “There are no data that shows that mutations are random. The likelihood of evolution being random is totally about zero.”

He noted that there are facts which seem to disprove the theory that have yet to be dealt with. One such inconvenient challenge to random natural selection is the Cambrian Explosion that took place an estimated 541 million years ago when all major animal phyla simultaneously appeared in the fossil record. Previous to the Cambrian explosion, all fossils were microscopic. Darwin himself noted that the lack of fossil evidence for a gradual and random process of evolution posed a difficulty for his theory.

“To the question why we do not find rich fossiliferous deposits belonging to these assumed earliest periods prior to the Cambrian system, I can give no satisfactory answer,” Darwin wrote. As per his theory, Darwin insisted several times in his book Natura non facit Salturum (Nature Does not Make Jumps). The fossil evidence of the Cambrian Explosion directly contradicts this non-jumping aspect of his theory.

This anti-evolutionary gap in the fossil record has not been resolved in the more-than 150 years since Darwin wrote those words yet most modern scientists refuse to cope with the contradictory evidence. Stephen J. Gould, one of the most influential science authors of the past 50 years, wrote about this failure of science to criticize random natural selection in Natural History in 1987, calling it a “trade secret.”

“The extreme rarity of transitional forms in the fossil record persist as the trade secret of paleontology. The evolutionary trees that adorn our textbooks have data only at the tips and nodes of their branches; the rest is inference, however reasonable, not the evidence of fossils ….We fancy ourselves as the only true students of life’s history, yet to preserve our favored account of evolution by natural selection we view our data as so bad that we never see the very process we profess to study.”

Dr. Schroeder added a strong disclaimer to his refutation of random mutation and natural selection.

“That doesn’t necessarily prove that there is a God or that evolution requires a God,” Dr. Schroeder said. “But it certainly proves that the way evolution has been taught to schoolchildren for the past 200 years is a lie.

“This is evil,” Dr. Schroeder said unequivocally. “This is all part of an overriding anti-religious agenda by the scientific community to establish that the world is the result of random forces. There are so many possible wrong answers, wrong mutations and vastly few that are good that the possibility of life evolving randomly is statistically very unlikely.”

Dr. Schroeder emphasized that learning science in general and evolution in particular in an intellectually honest manner can lead to a deeper belief in the Creator. It is interesting to note that Dr. Schroeder’s video, “Believe in God in 5 Minutes (Scientific Proof)” has garnered over three million views.

“But it also has over 20,000 dislikes,” Dr. Schroeder said, using this to illustrate that reason and logic do not always win the day in public discourse.

Iran Responds to Accusations of Antisemitism by Pence: ‘We are against Zionists’

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 05:14

After being accused of antisemitism by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Iran’s Foreign Minister retorted that the claim was “laughable,” and that “Iran has always supported the Jews; we are just against Zionists.”

The incident occurred on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference after Pence visited the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland earlier in the week. He said that Iran harbors “vile anti-Semitic hatreds and threats of violence,” adding that “the Iranian regime openly advocates another Holocaust, and it seeks the means to achieve it.”

Pence added that Ayatollah [Ali] Khamenei himself has said: “It is the mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to erase Israel from the map.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif slammed back and called the Holocaust “a disaster.”

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Zarif’s ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said Iran had a “historic and cultural record of coexistence and respect for divine religions, particularly Judaism,” and that its policy towards the Jewish state was due to “the aggressive and occupying nature of the Zionist regime … which is a killing machine against the Palestinian people.”

Pence urged European leaders to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran brokered by former President Barack Obama. America withdrew under U.S. President Donald Trump last May and reimposed sanctions against the regime, which is in the throes of economic hardship.

Israel and Iran enjoyed strong ties until the 1970 Islamic Revolution and the rise of the ayatollahs.

From that moment, Ayatollah Khomenei referred to Israel as the “little Satan” and the United States as the “big Satan,” and shut the Israeli embassy in Tehran, handing it over to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Iranian leaders have called for attacks on major Israeli cities numerous times over the years, with former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map” during his “The World Without Zionism” conference in Tehran in 2005.

$55 Million to be Invested in Jewish Quarter of Old City of Jerusalem

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 04:40

The Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem has several projects underway at a total cost of 200 million shekels ($55 million).

The initiative seeks to improve public spaces in the Jewish Quarter and adapt them to the needs of residents, as well as tourists. The project entails making infrastructure accessible; outdoor improvements such as shaded areas and recreational areas; the installation of uniform outdoor furniture and advanced lighting; and laying out clearly marked tourist routes, including explanatory signs at important points and signs leading to the Western Wall.

The first stage of the project was carried out at Resnick Square on Hayehudim Street, a main tourist route that runs parallel to the Byzantine-era Cardo, where the Burnt House, the home of a wealthy Jerusalemite from the Second Temple period, has been refurbished. The new site was scheduled to be inaugurated on Sunday in a special ceremony led by Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Ze’ev Elkin.

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Under the auspices of the project, the Company for the Reconstruction and Development of the Jewish Quarter has also started renovating the Tiferet Yisrael Synagogue, which was destroyed in 1948. Work is expected to take a few years, and the completed building will reach a height of 25 meters (82 feet).

Another issue the company is addressing are the staircases that lead from the Jewish Quarter to the Western Wall plaza, which are not accessible to the disabled. The company has launched a project to build an elevator and tunnels that will lead directly to the plaza. The elevator and passageway encompass a total of 2,000 square meters (21,500 square feet), with the project to be completed at an estimated cost of 57 million shekels ($16 million). The elevator is expected to be operational by January 2022.

In addition, the company plans to renovate the exterior of the Wohl Archaeological Museum, one of the largest and most important sites in the Jewish Quarter. The museum includes the remnants of homes that belonged to the city’s aristocracy from the time of King Herod to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E.

Company CEO Herzl Ben Ari said, “I hope that everyone who comes to the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem will feel that we have fulfilled a dream for them and that every guest and tourist who arrives from all over the world will sense the uniqueness and the eternal values of the capital of Israel.”

Innovative Discovery Against Virulent Kind of Cancer

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 04:13

All cancers are frightening and difficult to fight, but some are more aggressive and virulent than others. Fortunately, against a rapidly spreading type of malignancy called triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have succeeded in finding a gene that can affect the spread (metastasis) of this type of cancer, which has a particularly high mortality rate.

“The only treatment available today against this kind of cancer is is chemotherapy, which does not always help,” researcher Saleh Khawaled, one of the study’s main researchers, said. “We looked for a more biological way to fight it.”

Khawaled is a doctoral student in the lab of Prof. Rami Aqeilan at the Institute for Medical Research Israel-Canada (IMRIC) at the Hebrew University’s Faculty of Medicine. The study, which is being published in the prestigious journal Cancer Research of the American Association for Cancer, reveals an important role for the cancer-fighting gene WWOX in controlling the metastases of this most-violent type of breast cancer. Their team included researchers at the Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer Research of the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Mokpo National University in the Republic of Korea and the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University.

Prof. Rami Aqeilan (right) with his doctoral student Saleh Khawaled. (Courtesy Hebrew University)

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers and is the second- leading cause of cancer among women. It is known that the chances of recovery decrease significantly after the development of metastasis; the death rate after metastatic formation now stands at 90%). Among the different types of breast cancer are TMBC, which is considered to be particularly metastatic, causing a very high mortality rate among those who contract it. TMBC tends to be aggressive compared to other types of breast cancer mainly due to lack of treatment, the spread and recurrence of the disease and the fact that it can appear in younger ages.

The researchers focused on the study of genes that affect the process of metastasis. While most of the current studies look at how to attack the growth of breast cancer, it was decided to examine the metastases themselves from the beginning of their activity.

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Looking at the WWOX cancer suppressor gene in controlling the development of metastasis in TNBC, the researchers found that this gene affects the expression and activity of the important protein in the development of cancer, c-Myc, an effect that is able to release the inhibitory activity of microRNA-146a that is known to reduce the cancerous potential of cancer cells.

That is, according to the researchers’ innovative approach, activity on the WWOX gene will be able to influence the mechanism of movement of the cancer cell in the body so that it is unable reach the primary growth of important organs in the human body.

Much of the work was carried out in laboratory mice. The experiments in mice showed that the return of the WWOX gene to the cells in which it was absent significantly delayed the production of metastasis and vice versa.

“WWOX is a recognized gene for medical researchers, but it was discovered not long ago, in the early 2000s,” explained Khawaled. “It is a significant gene that affects many factors in the development of cancer, so it is important to study it. Our work has shown that its importance derives from the fact that they affect not only the onset of the cancer process, but also subsequent stages. Beyond that, the only treatment available today against TNBC is through classical chemotherapy, which does not always help patients with this type of cancer.”

In the context of finding biological ways and since the use of biological drugs is gaining momentum over the years, the researchers suggest that the use of microRNA-146a can be used as an independent therapy or as a complementary treatment with the chemotherapy currently used. Further studies, the team said, will examine, among other things, whether injecting microRNA into existing tumors helps to limit their metastatic potential.

Western Wall Tunnels

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 03:25

There’s no such thing as a visit to Jerusalem without heading to the Western Wall, right? And if there’s one thing we’d advise on your trip to the Kotel is to definitely check out the Western Wall Tunnels

University of Sydney Fires Radical Lecturer Over Image of Swastika on Israeli Flag

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 03:11

The University of Sydney, Australia, has fired a controversial senior lecturer after he showed his students material featuring the Nazi swastika imposed over the flag of Israel, The Algemeiner reported on Thursday.

Tim Anderson, who taught economics and international politics at the University of Sydney for two decades, was first suspended in December 2018 after showing the lecture slide in a “Human Rights in Development” course.

Anderson, a life-long radical and virulent hater of Jews, was blasted by university officials for his numerous trips to Syria and North Korea, where he expressed support for the regimes of Syrian President Bashar Assad and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The lecturer charged that the regimes had been the target of “false flag” attacks by Western governments.

In August, Anderson was placed under official investigation after he defended a former colleague for wearing a badge proclaiming “death to Israel.” An extremist all his life, Anderson was convicted in 1990 over the 1978 Sydney Hilton Hotel bombing. He was acquitted on appeal the following year.

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A spokeswoman for the university confirmed the termination of Anderson’s employment and said the lecturer had engaged in “serious misconduct.” The spokeswoman added that Anderson had published on social media and in lecture slides “material which included the Nazi swastika over the Israeli flag,” found to be “disrespectful and offensive, and contrary to the university’s behavioral expectations and requirements for all staff.”

In a Facebook post, Anderson defended his actions. “This move is the culmination of a series of failed attempts by management to restrict my public comments,” the lecturer said after his suspension was first put into effect. “I have always rejected such censorship.”

Acting vice chancellor of the University of Sydney, Professor Stephen Garton, fired back at Anderson, saying “the university has, since its inception, supported and encouraged its staff to engage in public debate, and it has always accepted that those views might be controversial.”

He continued: “Our academic staff can and often do disagree with one another publicly. In fact, the process of doing so is part of the academic process.

“The university has and will continue to defend academic staff to express unpopular views as part of their teaching and research, so long as they fulfill their obligations to engage in that debate in a civil manner.”

US and Israel Hold Annual ‘Juniper Falcon’ Military Drill

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 03:01

Juniper Falcon, a week-long exercise between American and Israeli armed forces, has just come to a close. After 18 months of planning, soldiers were put to the test — focusing on rapid deployment of U.S. troops and coordination with the Israeli military. It was a dynamic effort where various different military branches were employed. From air, land, sea and even the cyber realm. According to one of the Israeli commanders, the exercise focused on ‘three C’s’: Common Language, Confidence and Capability.

What’s Bad for the Media is Good for America

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 02:00

The winter freeze might have shut down entire cities, but it couldn’t slow down job growth as the economy roared through the cold and shattered projections with 304,000 non-farm jobs in January.

There were job gains everywhere from transportation (27,000) to health care (42,000) to hospitality (74,000). Under Trump, construction gained 338,000 jobs in 12 months while manufacturing picked up 261,000 jobs in that same period. There was good news for many industries, but bad news for one.

The media is freezing colder than the polar vortex with thousands of lost jobs in January and February.

Gannett, the giant behind USA Today and many local lefty papers such as the Arizona Republic, the Detroit Free Press and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, fired 400 employees.

McClatchy, another newspaper giant, which publishes the Miami Herald, the Kansas City Star and the Charlotte Observer, among many others, announced voluntary buyouts for 10% of its employees after having fired 3.5% of its staff or 140 employees back in August. Tronc, another publishing giant, has already been making major cuts at newspapers like the New York Daily News and the Los Angeles Times.

Reuters expects to cut 3,200 jobs or 12% of its global workforce, closing 55 offices by 2020. BuzzFeed fired 15% of its staff or 220 employees, wiping out its national security desk, most of its national news desk, LGBT team and entertainment team.

Verizon, which through a series of bad business decisions had inherited the Huffington Post, cut 7% or 800 jobs in its media division. HuffPo dumped its health and opinion section, along with various reporters. Vice Media is laying off 10% or 250 employees from its global staff. Mic’s staff was mostly let go back in November. And the bloodletting isn’t over. It’s just beginning.

Why is the media failing while the rest of the economy is thriving?

It used to be said that what’s good for General Motors is good for America. But what’s good for the media is bad for America. And what’s bad for the media appears to be remarkably good for America.

In 2009, as the economy was tanking, journalism school applications increased sharply. As the economy began to recover, J-School enrollment began to fall. Call it the Vulture Effect. Carrion eaters are attracted to death. When the death rate drops, they have to either learn to kill things or face extinction.

Consider the media’s destructive behavior of the last few years a classic example of CNN carrion eaters trying to trick the predators into fighting each other and making more carrion for them to feast on.

By 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics was projecting a 10% decline in employment for reporters and correspondents. After this winter, the BLS may need to sharply revise its estimates upward. Major media organizations are dumping 10% of their staff as a routine response to business model reverses.

The media does best when things are bad. It’s the same reason why Democrats have their strongest footholds in cities with massive poverty, gun violence and infant mortality. Or why starving children dig through the trash in Communist countries while the red billboards overhead tout Socialism.

Lefties claim that they want to make things better, but they only gain power by making things worse.

The media is terrible at trying to make good news happen. Its shrill insistence that the economy had recovered 5 minutes after Obama took the oath of office on a reflection in the mirror convinced no one. After 5 years, it had become a running joke with the flavor of late Soviet propaganda about wheat harvest percentages. But it can be quite effective at spreading bad news and convincing people it’s true.

Just look at how the media has managed to convince people that the global warming sky is falling, that Facebook trolls are a national security threat and that President Trump gets all his orders from Moscow.

If the media is going to make any money and gain any power, it’s got to go negative. But negativity is a tougher sell when times are good for most people. Except for the brooding vultures of the media.

A winter of Trumpian economic growth has been very bad for those birds.

The January media layoffs actually involve two different tracks of the industry. There’s the dead tree media track of the newspaper giants who have been steadily bleeding jobs ever since their customers realized that they didn’t need to pay twelve bucks a week and get ink smears on their hands just to read the local rewritten versions of the same lefty talking points from New York and Washington D.C.

And then there are the digital media operations fueled by venture capital cash that were going to be the Great New Hope of the mainstream media with slick snarky stories, their own in-house ad shops and lots of millennials writing about social justice outrages trending on social media for other millennials.

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That’s the new media catastrophe. And the one that has occasioned the real wailing and tooth-gnashing.

“The BuzzFeed Layoffs as Democratic Emergency,” Farhad Manjoo shrieked in the New York Times. Farhad meant the other kind of “democratic”, but his headline was unintentionally correct. The media is a massive force multiplier for the Democrats. If it didn’t exist, national politics would look very different.

Imagine an America in which Democrats eavesdropping on Republicans, supporting cop killers, ISIS, Iran and infanticide weren’t met with immediate walls of media spin, lies, fake explainers and even more fake fact checks. Then imagine an America with a border wall, voter ID and a real War on Terror.

That’s a “Democratic emergency”. No question about it.

If the media falls, it will be the greatest moment for democracy since the fall of the Berlin Wall. The collapse of the Soviet Union revealed that the Evil Empire was really a bunch of boring bureaucrats who, through the magic of ideology and mass murder had acquired the ability to terrorize millions of people.

The unraveling of the media will reveal that the echo chamber that told us what to do and think, that cost hundreds of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars, that stole generations of progress and prosperity from a great nation, was really a bunch of otherwise unemployable Marxist grad students.

The media has blamed Google and Facebook for not giving it enough traffic. It’s redoubled its efforts to demand that the dot com giants give them even more money (Google and Facebook have already pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into the media), more privilege for their traffic and more power to censor conservative media under the guise of ‘fact checkers’ fighting a ‘fake news’ emergency.

Hatred has also been hurled at Gannett, McClatchy, Tribune, BuzzFeed, Bustle and Vice management which are pursuing merger and consolidation plans that will cost even more media jobs. They point to the profitability of some of these companies as proof that the layoffs are really capitalist greed.

Sure.

The digital media empires with their fake news, explainers and snarky social justice commentary were built by convincing investors that they could be as profitable as actual tech companies. BuzzFeed and the rest of the gang could have just shrugged and announced that failing to meet expectations would be the new reality. And that if their investors don’t like it, they can go and invest in tech startups.

Then in a year or two, it wouldn’t be a few hundred jobs being cut, but a few thousand.

Digital media is full of millennial socialists with an Ocasio-Cortez level grasp of economics who spend six figures on a useless degree in journalism from Columbia and are convinced that destroying Facebook will save them. Even though Facebook is the only reason that clickbait parasites like BuzzFeed even exist.

Finally, many in the media blame President Trump. In an ocean of economic prosperity, the media has become a desert island full of cannibalistic savages, devouring each other, while praying to Mueller.

But that’s not because of anything Trump did to the media. It’s about what he isn’t doing.

Obama’s divisive policies created social, cultural and economic insecurity across the spectrum. Trump’s politics have brought prosperity and economic security. And the media has refocused on stirring up insecurity among Democrats and Never Trumpers because they are its only remaining demographics.

The good times are here. And the media’s only customer base consists of people who don’t believe it.

A growing media indicates a loss of confidence by Americans. It shows that the divisive leftist tactics of the media are paying huge dividends in fear, uncertainty and doubt among ordinary people. A shrinking media however indicates that we are once again becoming an optimistic and confident nation.

The media’s loss of jobs is a very good thing. It’s a statement of confidence by Americans in America.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Sultan Knish Blog

Religion vs. Free Speech

Mon, 02/18/2019 - 01:00

Courts and government bodies still find it hard to make useful distinctions between gratuitous, racist, or violent speech about Islam and Muslims on the one hand, and reasoned argument that questions aspects of Islam, or even the religion overall, from the point of view of human rights, on the other.

The situation in Europe is even more ambiguous. Most European states have laws that purportedly support free speech, yet accusations of hate speech and Islamophobia often lead to trials and sentencing can lead to imprisonment. This skewing of facts is one crucial reason why free speech needs to be defended.

It is more than ever necessary to educate the public and many of its leaders about both the benign and troubling facts of Islamic history, doctrine, and culture. Those leaders who must require a more solid grounding include the ones who deny that terrorism has genuine links to issues such as jihad warfare — and who are constantly told that “real” Islam is above rebuke.

We must indeed paint a positive picture of what so many Muslims contribute to their host societies. We should, for example, celebrate the way in which Muslim-Americans in Philadelphia launched an appeal that raised over $100,000 to help repair two Jewish cemeteries that had been vandalized. Or the Muslim veteran in Arkansas who volunteered to stand guard with others at any Jewish site that was threatened with attack.

Even fair-minded and non-racist authors, websites, members of the media and others who present a rational critique of Islam end up being condemned as malicious racists and “Islamophobes.” (Image source: iStock)

Speaking and writing about Islam today requires discretion, sensitivity, and a good grasp of facts. Doing this is harder in most European countries than it is in the United States, where the First Amendment insists on powerful free speech rights. The need for sensitivity stems from the almost universal condemnation of “Islamophobia”, a mainly good-hearted response to democratic worries that innocent Muslims may be targeted with violence or hate speech, even as many (but far from all) seek to integrate themselves and their families into Western society.

Raw Islamophobia, like raw prejudice by and against any group, is of course racist, unacceptable and most often expremuslissed by hate groups on the far right of politics. At the same time, it is not surprising that many people will build their attitudes towards Muslims on a perception prompted by Islamist terror attacks, radical Muslim antagonism to Western societies, or uneasiness about Muslims who choose to dress in ways that do not conform to Western norms. The confusion caused also creates problems for many people who have reasonable concerns about Islam as a religion and a political ideology.

The problem is that even fair-minded and non-racist authors, websites, members of the media and others end up being tarred with the same brush and condemned as malicious racists themselves. This creates a distorted perception of what has been termed “two Islamophobias,” one hateful, the other respectable. The latter, of course, is not Islamophobia at all, any more than presenting a rational critique of any other religion, political thought, or ideology is racist, hate-driven or undemocratic.

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That confusion between a hate-driven view of Islam and a thoughtful, unbiased criticism of it has led to restrictions on what may and what may not be written or said about Islam or Muslims, while politicians of all varieties, church leaders, and human rights activists have adopted a style of virtue-signalling that tells the world to be silent and accepting, or else they will be called racists or Islamophobes. This type of surrender might be understandable, but it has led many to say things in defence of Islam that are either not true or only partially true. That Islam is a “a religion of peace,” that Islamic terrorism “has nothing to do with Islam,” or that “Muslims are not anti-Semitic” are all popular claims which, at the very least, require further substantiation and informed debate. Insistence on such untruths or partial truths only serves to bring governments, the judiciary, the police, the media and many more into distrust and disrepute. This skewing of facts is one crucial reason why free speech needs to be defended. For years, many have strenuously spoken out against attempts to control and censor honest criticism – here, here or here.

Understandably, outright hatred, whether of Muslims, Christians or Jews — such as online threats to slaughter them or postings that call for terrorist attacks — are likely to fall within legal censure. Criticism of Islam, however, under so-called blasphemy laws, is condemned and forbidden virtually everywhere throughout the Muslim world. Bloggers and others who seek to cross those barriers are often arrested and imprisonedfloggedmurdered by mobs or executed by the state. In April 2017, a blasphemy charge was levelled against the Christian governor of Jakarta in Indonesia, Basuki Tjahaja Purname (Ahok). A court sentenced him to two years in prison for not being remorseful enough. Worse, false accusations of blasphemy are often levelled against innocent people as a means of settling personal scores, or to have people removed in order to seize their property.

The situation in Europe is even more ambiguous. Most European states have laws that purportedly support free speech, yet accusations of hate speech and Islamophobia often lead to trials — herehere and here — and sentencing can lead to imprisonment.

There is no hate speech law in the UK, but under a variety of government Acts, such as the 1986 Public Order Act, prosecutions for racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, or grossly anti-Muslim speech or behavior are possible. There are also paradoxes. The American author of more than 20 books, Robert Spencer, is not without a reasonable knowledge of Islamic matters, yet is banned from entering Britain, while Muslim hate preachers continue to be allowed in; in the UK, as in France, Denmark, Austria and elsewhere, it seems to be speech that merely questions political Islam that causes most confusion.

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Courts and government bodies still find it hard to make useful distinctions between gratuitous, racist, or violent speech about Islam and Muslims on the one hand, and reasoned argument that questions aspects of Islam, or even the religion overall, from the point of view of human rights, on the other. Such questions come from different spheres, such as Christians, Jews, secularists, observant Muslims, reformist Muslims, human rights activists, among others. It is more than ever necessary to educate the public and many of its leaders about both the benign and troubling facts of Islamic history, doctrine, and culture. Those leaders who must require a more solid grounding include the ones who deny that terrorism has genuine links to issues such as jihad warfare — and who are constantly told that “real” Islam is above rebuke.

We must indeed paint a positive picture of what so many Muslims contribute to their host societies. We should, for example, celebrate the way in which Muslim-Americans in Philadelphia launched an appeal that raised over $100,000 to help repair two Jewish cemeteries that had been vandalized. Or the Muslim veteran in Arkansas who volunteered to stand guard with others at any Jewish site that was threatened with attack.

We must, however, never fear speaking out against Muslim extremists who express hatred for Jews and who quote verses from the Qur’an or incidents from Islamic history in support of their bias. We must do so in measured words, citing real cases of radical Muslim anti-Semitism or anti-Western sermons or calls for violence based on interpretations of shari’a law or Islamic scripture.

Ironically, if we speak out too forcefully, the result can be counterproductive, making it unlikely that the people we would like to convince in politics, the churches, the media, or the mainstream will agree with our views. The extremist nature of some anti-Muslim agitators in the UK, for example, has had the effect of making it hard for many people to take in what they say.

What happens, then, is the exact opposite of what real Islamophobes claim they want, instead causing serious concerns about Islam to be dismissed. It is probably more constructive for everyone who speaks and writes about Islam and Muslims to do so in a measured and well-informed way.

Trevor Phillips, “a son of immigrants”, the founding chair of Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, and a man profoundly disillusioned by the failure of so many ethnic and religious groups to integrate into British society, wrote an essay, Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence, in which he denounces official failure to face up to the divisions that have opened up in the UK following widening levels of immigration and “superdiversity”. Phillips, long the country’s best-known defender of multiculturalism, says the collapse of positive diversity had been because of two things: silence about divisions and loud denials that any problems existed at all. Serious critics of Islam need to join their voices to Phillips’s, and others who tackle problems openly. To do that, we have to stand — as he has done — against all forms of extremism, both religious and secular.

Reprinted with author’s permission from Gatestone Institute