Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Why does the world target Israel?

Background note: Kasim Hafeez was born in a British Muslim household of Pakistani origin. As a result of the constant indoctrination at home and in his circle of friends, he became both anti-Israeli and antisemitic. After reading Alan Dershowitz's 'The Case for Israel' in 2007, he began to doubt his own beliefs, researched the issue and visited Israel. After his return to the UK, he became convinced that he had to take a stand by speaking out about Israel and against Islamist radicalization.

Op-ed: By singling out Israel, human rights activists abandon those who really suffer from apartheid

Kasim Hafeez 20.02.2013,7340,L-4347381,00.html

Genocide, ethnic cleansing, apartheid; if you've ever had the pleasure of speaking with some of the more zealous haters of Israel you'll hear these phrases at some point, normally yelled at you by a delightful middle class keffiyeh-wearing student.

I guess to some extent, sadly, we have become slightly accustomed to these libels. The hypocrisy of those claiming to be pro-Palestinian and champions of human rights and their obsessive hatred of Israel has led to the abandonment of those who suffer true apartheid, genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Detractors will undoubtedly be quick to ask why supporters of Israel point to other regimes to exonerate Israel. But this is not really what I'm doing. Israel needs no exoneration as, fortunately, Israelis are able to protest, challenge and choose their governments. That's democracy folks. But, just for the sake of argument, let us say all the malicious lies have some truth to them. Still the question remains: Why is Israel singled out for protests and global marches lauded by the 'enlightened' regimes in Tehran and Damascus, yet some of the world's human rights catastrophes carry on daily, completely ignored, by the same holier than thou activists?

For me, a particular source of pain and anger is the situation of minorities and women in my parents' homeland. In Pakistan, not a week goes by without a story of rape, murder, humiliation and torture. In this Islamic country, terms such as Jesus Christ are banned in text messages and a young girl is shot for demanding basic education. Yet apart from the attempted murder of Malala Yusufzai, these stories rarely make it to the press. The brutally oppressed Christian minority suffers at the hands of an archaic blasphemy law, yet, apart from small-scale protests held by Pakistani Christian groups, there were no calls to boycott Pakistan and no flotillas were planned. I guess murdered Pakistani Christians maybe not a trendy enough cause. I wonder if a British newspaper would publish a cartoon of a Pakistani mullah murdering minorities to pave the way for a Sharia state. Our journalists love freedom and liberty, but the love their lives a little bit more.

Obsessed with destruction of Israel

The House of Saud promotes religious apartheid, destroys history and spreads wahhabism, yet the world remains silent. Maybe the cause isn't cool enough. Or maybe we should just allow people to suffer and dismiss it as a cultural phenomenon; maybe we should say this is how things are in that part of the world and focus on the need to stop 'apartheid Israel,' which just elected another Knesset member of Ethiopian descent.

Remember when a handful of Darfur nationals and real human rights activists protested outside the UN Human Rights Commission against the atrocities in the region? Well, the instigator of the ethnic cleansing, Sudan, sat on the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

Once again, so many of our activists remained silent because Israel was not involved. It is interesting to note that some of Israel's fiercest enemies like Syria, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain dismissed the UN report on Darfur, penned by Nobel laureate Jody Wolfe, and acted to protect Sudan at the UN.

Why are the self-appointed defenders of Palestinian rights silent while Palestinians are being massacred in Syria by Assad's regime? And why do they remain silent when a Palestinian girl is murdered in the name of honor? Where were they when Hamas fired rockets from inside a school in Gaza? Oh, I forgot, they were outside the nearest Israeli embassy chanting slogans in support of Hamas.

I know there are many people who genuinely care about Palestinians and want to see them live in peace with their neighbors, but there are too many modern-day Jean-Paul Marats who are full of fiery rhetoric and demand blood. People have become obsessed with the destruction of Israel. These people should be ashamed of themselves, emulating the Nazis by urging boycotts of Jewish businesses while murder, rape and humiliation are rampant in so many nations. Real apartheid, genocide and ethnic cleansing are occurring on our watch, yet these people have become so obsessed with the end of Zionism that the suffering of others had become a side show.

Protest the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia and you'll have my respect. Protesting against an Israeli theater group is pathetic.

Numerous Middle East countries consistently violate human rights, yet the UN vilifies Israel. Is it just me or is something deeply wrong with our moral compass?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why Jews should stand against Christian oppression

 By BEN LEVITAS 18/02/2013

Of all the countries in the Middle East, only in Israel is the Christian population growing and flourishing.

At a recent conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, I was shocked to hear a Nigerian church leader declare that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world today. On my way home afterwards, the deaths of 12 Christians, attacked in their church in Nigeria, was announced on the radio.

A quick Google search revealed the true scale of this onslaught against Christians, so it didn’t take me long to find further confirmation of this assertion. In November 2012, none other than German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the same claim, in very nearly the same words.

The Open Doors website lists the countries responsible for persecuting Christians, with the worst perpetrators in sequence being: North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Maldives, Mali, Iran, Yemen, Eritrea, Syria, Sudan and Nigeria.

“For the eleventh year running, North Korea is the most difficult place on earth to be a Christian. One of the remaining Communist states, it is vehemently opposed to religion of any kind. Christians are classified as hostile and face arrest, detention, torture, even public execution.”

Shared in common by the next 12 states that practice “extreme persecution” is a majority Muslim population. In some, like Saudi Arabia, there is no provision for religious freedom in the constitution, which stipulates that “all citizens must adhere to Islam and conversion to another religion is punishable by death.

Public Christian worship is forbidden; worshipers risk imprisonment, lashing, deportation and torture.”

In almost all Islamic countries, missionary activity and the distribution of Christian material, even the Bible, is illegal. Muslims who convert to Christianity risk honor killings, and accusations of blasphemy are an ever-present reality, punishable in many cases by mob violence.

Civitas, The Institute for the study of Civil Society, published a review of Rupert Short’s recent book Christianophobia: A Faith Under Attack, which confirms the Nigerian preacher’s claim that Christianity is in peril like no other religion: “Christians are targeted more than any other body of believers” and “200 million Christians [10 percent of the global total] are socially disadvantaged, harassed or actively oppressed for their beliefs.”

Rupert Short highlights the fact that Christianity is facing elimination in its biblical homeland. Between a half and two-thirds of Christians in the Middle East have emigrated or been killed over the past century. Over 600,000 Copts have fled Egypt since 1980, as a result constant intimidation, including the the burning of churches.

In Egypt on February 7, 2013, Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II, who became pope in November 2012, spoke against the nation’s Islamist leadership and the growing Islamist power in Egypt. He criticized the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi’s constitution, which is based upon sharia law.

In the West Bank, which has been under the administration of the Palestinian Authority since 1995, there are about 50,000 Christians; less than 3% of the Palestinian population.

Bethlehem’s 22,000 Christians make up only a third of its residents, down from 75% a few decades ago.

The exact number of Christians remaining in Iraq is not known, but it has fallen sharply from as many as 1.4 million before the US-led invasion nearly a decade ago to about 500,000 today. After a brutal attack on Baghdad’s Our Lady of Salvation Church in October 2010, that killed more than 50 worshipers, and after several other attacks, Iraqi Christians have been forced to take extreme security measures at all communal gatherings.

In Syria, where Christians previously enjoyed a respected status, this 2,000-year-old community, which at over 2 million adherents was the largest church in the Middle East after Egypt’s Copts, now faces extinction. During the chaos of the civil war, the Christians, lacking militias of their own, are easy prey for Islamists and criminals alike. Archdeacon Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the East wrote: “We are witnessing another Arab country losing its Christian Assyrian minority. When it happened in Iraq nobody believed Syria’s turn would come. Christian Assyrians are fleeing [en masse] from threats, kidnappings, rapes and murders. Behind the daily reporting about bombs there is an ethno-religious cleansing taking place, and soon Syria [could] be emptied of its Christians.”

Rupert Short attributes the intolerance and violence toward Christians, ignored or even sanctioned by governments, to the rising Islamification of Middle Eastern countries.

The Christian response has been muted and restrained as one would expect from a religion which propounds “turning the other cheek.”

Speaking during his traditional Christmas message from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Benedict XVI called for an “end to the bloodshed” in Syria and denounced the “savage acts of terrorism [which] continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians.”

He was referring specifically to Africa, even as gunmen on Christmas attacked a church in the northern Nigerian state of Yobe, killing six people, including the pastor, before setting the building ablaze.

So why should I as a Jew care about the fate of Christians? Firstly, having been victims for thousands of years it is our obligation to care and reach out to victims of discrimination, religious intolerance and extremism. Secondly, it is our responsibility to stand up for religious freedom and specially for those moderate and tolerant values promoted by most of these Christian minority groups. Moreover, Christians are rediscovering their Hebraic roots and are strong supporters of Israel, as they see its rebirth as the actualization of the biblical prophesies and of their divine mission to assist with the return of Jews to their promised land.

It is incumbent on my people to ensure that at least in the area where there is Jewish suzerainty, discrimination against Christians does not occur, and I have satisfied myself that of all the countries in the Middle East, only in Israel is the Christian population growing and flourishing.

The writer is the chairman of the South African Zionist Foundation (SAZF, Cape Council).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Paying People to Hate You

By Douglas Murray, Gatestone Institute Feb. 7th 2013

 And so it was that I found myself once again in a meeting in the twilight world of Brussels -- an ugly city filled with ugly buildings, ugly overpriced food and overpaid officials. The objective of any visit must always be a hit-an-run: to get in and get out as swiftly as possible. The only reason to go is to try and inject some sense into a city so starved of it. When, therefore, asked to address the matter of what the European Union might do to tackle anti-Semitism, the answer is easy: "Stop funding anti-Semites." What is hard is that this is Brussels, where words are meaningless and nothing makes any sense. Here is just one example:

The Palestinian Ma'an News Agency is one of the most supremely anti-Semitic organs in the Middle East. Which I hope readers realize is putting it in the premier league of anti-Semitic slander. Here is an excerpt from a recent article on the Ma'an website by one Saswan Najib Abd Al-Halim: "Jews think that their fortresses will protect them from death, but any breach of these fortresses or protective walls instills panic and fear in their hearts, and they are seized by fear and trembling. If a missile falls beyond their protective walls or if even a bullet passes over them, you can see how their hearts fill with horror -- and this is because Allah has stricken fear in their hearts and decreed humiliation and degradation upon them until Judgment Day…

"Historically, it is known that the lives of Jews have always been war and fighting. The only reason for this is that they have been outcasts in every corner of the earth, and not one nation in the world respects them, for they cause strife, and scheme everywhere they settle. We know that they have been defeated in every war they have fought throughout history, and they have been dispersed in every direction, but Allah's curse upon them and his fury at them cause them to continue with their transgression and tyranny."

It is possible that there are people willing to concede that the Ma'an News Agency has the right to run this sort of libelous venom. But now we come to the real question: Why on earth should we pay for it? The Ma'an News Agency is not able to run this type of libel unaided. It does not run it because it manages to gather enough subscribers and enough advertising "clicks" from cosmetic companies. It runs because we actually pay for part of it. I wish the jaw were still able to drop at this. As I have said for years – it is not surprising when you find people who hate you. What is surprising is when you pay people to hate you.

The Ma'an News Agency has been funded by a range of international bodies. These include – astoundingly – the British government. Also the Danish and Dutch governments. And of course it also receives funding from the EU. When Mr Al-Halim and friends pour out their anti-Semitic hate speech – calling Jews "the root of conflict in the world," "cursed by Allah" and "outcasts in every corner of the earth," it is we who are paying part of his cheque. When Ma'an propagates the idea that "Allah has decreed" that Jews are destined to be "humiliated," it is we who are acting in the role of publisher.

As Palestinian Media Watch has previously revealed, Ma'an News Agency, part of the Ma'an Network, was launched thanks to funding from the DANISH Representative Office to the Palestinian Authority (PA). Other donors with whom Ma'an partners are the European Commission, UNESCO, and UKaid. And just in case you thought these peaceable-sounding bodies could not possibly realize what they are doing, or that Ma'an's fraudulent language must somehow be hidden from them, you just have to remind yourself of how in-plain-sight all of this is. The latest Ma'an atrocity finishes with the words of the Fatah slogan -- not Hamas, Fatah -- "Revolution Until Victory."

"Revolution Until Victory?" Surely not. As the British, Dutch and Danish governments might say: Surely you mean: "Can't we all work towards a two-state solution where Palestinian and Jewish states can live side by side?" No, I'm afraid not. "Revolution Until Victory": There it is. There it always is. I fear that even if Brussels hosts a thousand more seminars on tackling anti-Semitism, absolutely nothing will be done about it. And we remain so blind, so stupid, so vicious or so wicked that we will actually pay for this malevolence. And so we will -- in more senses than one.