Monday, January 18, 2016


By Jonathan Tobin, Jan. 6, 2016

This week is the anniversary of the attack on the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo as well as of the assault on a Parisian kosher market by members of the same group of Islamist terrorists. The publication is marking the occasion by issuing a special edition that is reportedly full of its trademark profanity and blasphemy mocking religion in general, and the faith of those who slaughtered 11 of the magazine's staffers on January 7, 2015, in particular. 

But one doesn't have to agree with everything in the 32-page cartoon-filled polemic to accept that two assertions it makes are absolutely true. One is that, as its cover states, "the assassin is still out there." The other is that, as its editor writes, the world is still waiting for an explanation from its leaders as to why a run-of-the-mill Jewish target - the Hyper Cacher supermarket - was singled out along with the Hebdo staff.

The assassin in question doesn't refer to the Islamist cell that carried out the attacks since all of them were eventually killed. Rather it refers to the threat of radical Islamist terrorism, which is still flourishing in the form of an ISIS caliphate that controls much of Syria and Iraq as well as the Hamas and Hezbollah groups in Gaza and Lebanon, not to mention their Iranian sponsors. The Paris attacks in November carried out by ISIS and the mass shooting in San Bernardino last month illustrated that the Charlie Hebdo massacre wasn't a singular event but a warning that a war on the West was just beginning.

But the article by editor Gerard Biard in which he mentions the question about the Jews highlights another key element of the story. By refusing to call the enemy by its right name and pretending that religion doesn't play a key role in the threat, the United States is undermining the effort to roll back the Islamist tide. But by refusing to understand that the Jews are the canary in the coalmine, the Obama administration is also signaling to the world that it isn't serious about fighting the terrorists and what they stand for. Far from being tangential to the question of how to beat Islamist terror, the fate of the Jews is integral to the outcome.

It's worth recalling that in his initial reaction to the Hebdo attacks and in subsequent comments about the killings at the Hyper Cacher, President Obama demonstrated his unwillingness to address the issue of anti-Semitism. By first ignoring the anti-Semitic nature of the assault and then later still referring to the terrorists' decision to target the market as "random," the president showed that he had a blind spot when it came to Jew hatred.

This is critical since, as Biard notes, the Islamist war against the Jews isn't so much symbolic as it is part of the worldview that Jews represent the West. But since, as Biard writes, Westerners are so used to Jews being killed, they don't stop and think about why it was important that a run-of-the-mill kosher market would be singled out along with a magazine that specifically sought to offend Muslims.

A rising tide of anti-Semitism has made life difficult for Jews even in the capitals of Europe. But while elites and leftists have formed a strange alliance with Muslim immigrants to try to isolate Israel and stigmatize its Jewish supporters, they fail to understand that Islamist killers get to decide who is and is not a Jew. As Biard notes, the November mass attacks in Paris demonstrated that "the executioner had showed us that he had decided we were all Jewish."

That's an astute observation that most Europeans and even many Americans still haven't absorbed. They continue to treat the daily terrorism against Jews in Israel such as the New Year's Day shooting in Tel Aviv as somehow separate from the war against the West that we observed in Paris and San Bernardino. They think that if Islamists slaughter Jews it has no meaning for the West's own battle for survival against a fanatic foe. That's a critical mistake.

One year after Charlie Hebdo, France is fighting back against the enemy within its own borders. The French government has initiated extraordinary measures aimed at cracking down on Islamist targets to the point where liberals, like those that write the New York Times editorial page, are crying foul. But this determination not to be caught napping again is admirable and ought to be applauded by Americans.

A willingness to address the core element of Islamist theology and its relative popularity across the Muslim world doesn't require the West to wage war on all Muslims. It's worth noting again that a Muslim policeman was killed along with the Hebdo editors and it was a Muslim who helped save some Jewish shoppers at the Hyper Cacher. But neither can we ignore the power of Islamist ideology or fail to understand that its popularity is driven by a sense that it is winning rather than as a reaction to Western counterattacks, let alone the blasphemy of Charlie Hebdo or the utterances of Donald Trump.

But so long as the West thinks that the Islamist war on Israel and Jews is separate from the one they seek to wage against American and Europe it will fail to adequately defend itself. An America that believes it can insulate itself from more attacks by making deals with a terror-supporting Iranian regime or by "leading from behind" against ISIS while ignoring the anti-Semitism at the heart of its enemy's faith isn't one that can defeat the forces of terror that threatens the liberties of Americans, Christian, Jew or Muslim.
Video of the week : Birds in the Hula Valley


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Palestinian Leaders Promise a New Year of Violence and Death

by Khaled Abu Toameh January 4, 2016
For the full article go to:
  • Instead of wishing Palestinians a happy and prosperous New Year, both Fatah and Hamas are asking their people to prepare for increased violence and "resistance," including suicide bombings, against Israelis.
  • Fatah's armed wing used the occasion to issue yet another threat: "We will continue in the path of the martyrs until the liberation of all of Palestine."
  • Masked Palestinians in Bethlehem attacked several restaurants and halls where New Year's Eve parties were supposed to take place. The assailants, eyewitnesses reported, were affiliated with Abbas's Fatah faction, not Hamas.
  • Hamas banned Gazans from celebrating New Year's Eve, saying such parties are "in violation of Islamic teachings." Hamas does not want young Palestinians enjoying their time in restaurants and cafes. Instead, Hamas wants them to join its forces, armed and dressed in military fatigues, preparing for jihad against Israel.
After failing to offer their people any hope for the future, Fatah and Hamas are now telling Palestinians that they should expect more violence and bloodshed during in 2016.

In separate messages to the Palestinians on New Year's Eve, the two rival Palestinian parties pledged to pursue, and even step up, "resistance" attacks against Israel. Needless to say, the messages did not make any reference to peace, coexistence or tolerance.

Instead of wishing Palestinians a happy and prosperous New Year, both Fatah and Hamas are asking their people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank to prepare for increased violence and "resistance" attacks against Israel. The two parties have nothing to offer the Palestinians besides more bloodshed and despair.

Hamas, which has been in power in the Gaza Strip for almost 10 years, is even reported to be preparing for a new wave of suicide bombings against Israelis. The last time Hamas launched suicide attacks in Israel was during the second intifada, 2000-2005, which wrought havoc and destruction to Palestinians.

Various reports have suggested that Hamas was now considering activating its West Bank "sleeper cells," in preparation for resuming suicide bombings against Israelis. Hamas, according to the reports, is also planning to target Israeli security and political figures.

Hussam Badran, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, painted a grim picture of what awaits Palestinians during 2016. In a message to Palestinians, Badran announced that the current wave of terrorism, which he referred to as the "Al-Quds Intifada," would escalate during the coming year. He also hinted that Hamas was indeed considering resuming suicide attacks against Israelis: "The year 2016 will witness a development and escalation of the intifada and all forms of resistance operations."

His message, like those of many Hamas officials, did not contain any reference to the harsh living conditions of Palestinians under the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. When Badran and other Hamas officials talk about waging "all forms of resistance" against Israel, they are actually referring to plans to launch suicide bombings and other terror attacks against Israelis.

The Hamas New Year's messages do not offer Palestinians in the Gaza Strip any hope that their leaders are working towards ending their misery and state of despair. There is no promise to help solve the problem of unemployment or poverty in the Gaza Strip. Nor is there any promise to help solve the crisis with Egypt, one which has resulted in the closure of the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt for most of 2015.

As if that were not enough, Hamas last week banned Palestinians in the Gaza Strip from celebrating New Year's Eve. Hamas security officers warned owners of restaurants and hotels against holding New Year's Eve parties, saying that this practice is "alien to our traditions and values and in violation of Islamic teachings." Hamas also justified the ban by arguing that Palestinians in the Gaza Strip must show solidarity with their brothers in the West Bank, who have been waging a campaign of stabbing and vehicular attacks against Israelis since early October.

By banning New Year's Eve celebrations, Hamas is following the example of other Islamist terror groups such as the Islamic State, which have denounced such parties as "un-Islamic." These groups consider New Year's Eve celebrations as being part of the same Western culture they are seeking to replace with extremist Islam and Sharia law.

Hamas cannot tolerate scenes of Palestinians rejoicing and celebrating the arrival of a new year. It does not want to see young Palestinians enjoying their time in restaurants, cafes and hotels. Instead, Hamas wants young Palestinians to join its forces and prepare for jihad against Israel. Hamas prefers to see young Palestinians dressed up in military fatigues and carrying weapons. It wants the young men, instead of celebrating and rejoicing, to participate in digging more tunnels under Gaza's borders with Israel and Egypt.

Similarly, President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank, which this week celebrated the 51st anniversary of its first armed attack against Israel, is hoping that 2016 will witness more violence. Several Fatah officials and groups marked the anniversary by vowing to step up "resistance" against Israelis and urging Palestinians to join the "struggle" against Israel.

Fatah's armed wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, used the occasion to issue yet another threat to launch terror attacks against Israelis. "We remain committed to the option of an armed struggle," the group rote in a leaflet distributed in the West Bank. "We will continue in the path of the martyrs until the liberation of all of Palestine."

President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also head of Fatah, also had nothing to offer his people on New Year's Eve, other than more messages of hate and defiance towards Israel. In a messageto his people, Abbas once again justified the current wave of violence by saying it was the "result of the continuation of occupation and settlements, and the desecration of our holy sites." He added: "Our people won't capitulate, surrender or accept humiliation."

As Abbas was addressing his people, masked Palestinians in Bethlehem attacked several restaurants and halls where New Year's Eve parties were supposed to take place. Eyewitnessessaid that the masked men opened fire at the restaurants, halls and vehicles, to prevent Palestinians from celebrating. The assailants, eyewitnesses reported, were affiliated with Abbas's Fatah faction, not Hamas.

The leaders of Fatah and Hamas have once again shown they have nothing to offer the Palestinians other than violence, destruction and death. These leaders want their people to remain in a combatant mood in order to pursue the fight against Israel. As such, the year 2016 does not look very promising for Palestinians under the current leadership of Fatah and Hamas.

Video of the week: Christians celebrate Christmas in Israel