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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Giulio Meotti : White Liberals Attack Brown Islamic Dissidents


  • "[A] section of the Western left has adopted the ideology of the Salafists, Khomeinists and Islamists. It supports their blasphemy codes, and apologias for murder." — Nick Cohen, The Spectator.
  • "Thus the defenders of liberty are styled as fascists, while the fanatics are portrayed as victims!" — Pascal Bruckner, Perlentaucher.
  • "It is putting bounties on the heads of Muslims like Maajid Nawaz, who are opposed to Muslim extremism (...) The document is simply an enemies' list, of the kind that fascists, Stalinists, and other totalitarian thinkers can't help producing." — Lee Smith, Tablet.
  • "Is the concept of holy war compatible with our ideal of religious toleration? Is it blasphemy—punishable by death—to question the applicability of certain seventh-century doctrines to our own era?" — Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wall Street Journal.
  • Most of the solidarity to French cartoonists under threat has come from even braver -- but ostracized -- Muslim intellectuals.
  • At the time of the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the literary "Left" stood with the Muslim "anger", not with the persecuted writer -- while all around, translators and publishers were being killed and wounded by the Iranian murderers.
  • In the global struggle for the confrontation of ideas between the West and political Islam, too often the Western values are represented by Muslim dissidents and downplayed by the liberals who should be safeguarding them. It is an unpleasant spectacle.
  • "The current situation in Europe is deeply troubling: not only are Muslim women within Europe subject to considerable oppression in many ways, such norms now risk spreading to non-Muslim women who face harassment from Muslim men. One would think that Western feminists in the United States and Europe would be very disturbed by this obvious misogyny. But sadly, with few exceptions, this does not appear to be the case". — Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

The French daily Le Figaro captured the tragic condition of Muslim dissidents: "Seen as 'traitors' by their communities, they are accused by the elites in the West of 'stigmatizing'".

Le Point called it "the malediction of the dissident": "For the European left, a bright danger threatens humanity. This is not terrorism or religious fundamentalism. But dissident intellectuals in the Muslim world".

This is the meaning of a recent list of fifteen "anti-Islamic extremists," published by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Among them are, for example, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former member of the Dutch parliament and the most famous dissident from Islamic world, and Maajid Nawaz, a British Muslim who founded the Quilliam Foundation to fight radicalism, and who has been a consultant to Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and David Cameron.



The Southern Poverty Law Center has attacked principled and courageous critics of radical Islamism such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali (left), a prominent ex-Muslim writer, and Maajid Nawaz (right), a moderate practising Muslim writer, radio host and politician. (Images source: Wikimedia Commons)

Nick Cohen, in The Spectator, explained:
"in the liberal orientalist world view the only 'authentic' Muslim is a barbarian. A battery of insults fires on any Muslim who says otherwise. They are 'neo-conservatives,' 'native informants,' and 'Zionists': they are as extreme as jihadists they oppose, or, let's face it, worse..."
In short, according with Cohen, "a section of the Western left has adopted the ideology of the Salafists, Khomeinists and Islamists. It supports their blasphemy codes, and apologias for murder".

The Wall Street Journal, in an unsigned editorial, attacked the report of the Southern Poverty Law Center: that "as if facing down violent Islamist fanatics isn't enough, Muslim reformers now have to dodge attacks from the American left".

Lee Smith, in Tablet, noted:
"Yet now, the SPLC is putting bounties on the heads of Muslims like Maajid Nawaz, who are opposed to Muslim extremism... The document is simply an enemies' list, of the kind that fascists, Stalinists, and other totalitarian thinkers can't help producing".
Nick Cohen called it "the first fatwa of the white left". But it is not the first. That horrible document belongs to the long "flight of the intellectuals" denounced by Paul Berman: the abandonment of Enlightenment values in the face of threats to freedom of expression.

"It is time to extend our solidarity to all the rebels of the Islamic world, non-believers, atheist libertines, dissenters, sentinels of liberty, as we supported Eastern European dissidents in former times", French writer Pascal Bruckner said.
Most of Western liberals are doing exactly the opposite. Not only are they refusing "to extend our solidarity" to these rebels; instead, they are actually targeting them.

The Director of the Middle East-Mediterranean chair at the Ecole Normale Superieure, and professor at Sciences-Po, Gilles Kepel , just published a book, Fracture, in which he blasts "the intellectuals paralyzed by postcolonial guilt" and the "blindness which leads them to minimize the jihadist risk". It is what Kepel in the book calls "Islamo-Leftism" ("Islamo-Gauchisme"), which currently targets Muslim dissidents to exclude them from the debate.

The debate reminds one that during the Cold War, when the Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the author of The Gulag Archipelago, was attacked by fellow writers such as Pablo Neruda, a Nobel Prize for Literature laureate and devout communist.

In 2006, a group of 12 writers put their names to a statement in the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, warning against Islamic "totalitarianism". "After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new global totalitarian threat: Islamism", read the appeal. "We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all". Among the 12 promoters, eight came from the Islamic world. Most of the solidarity to French cartoonists under threat has come from even braver -- but ostracized -- Muslim intellectuals. In the global struggle for the confrontation of ideas between the West and political Islam, too often the Western values are represented by Muslim dissidents and downplayed by the liberals who should be safeguarding them. It is an unpleasant spectacle.

And what was Islamo-Leftism doing? Busy targeting them. Timothy Garton Ash, a leftist opinion-maker, has asked how much the success of Ayaan Hirsi Ali depends on her beauty, and has defined her "an Enlightenment fundamentalist": "It's no disrespect to Ms. Ali to suggest that if she had been short, squat, and squinting, her story and views might not be so closely attended to".
Similar criticism against Hirsi Ali came from Ian Buruma, a Dutch "radical chic" journalist transplanted to Manhattan's Upper West Side. Ibn Warraq, another Muslim dissident isolated by the Left, attacked Buruma: "Disgraceful has been Buruma's vilification of human rights activists, especially his attacks on such heroic figures as Afshin Ellian and Ayaan Hirsi Ali". Buruma achieves his goals in a most insidious manner: hinting and insinuating.

In the German magazine, Perlentaucher, the French author Pascal Bruckner defended Hirsi Ali from the criticism of Buruma and Garton Ash:
"It's not enough that Ayaan Hirsi Ali has to live like a recluse, threatened with having her throat slit by radicals and surrounded by bodyguards. She -- like the French philosophy professor Robert Redeker who has also been issued death threats on Islamicist websites -- has to endure the ridicule of the high-minded idealists and armchair philosophers. She has even been called a Nazi in the Netherlands. Thus the defenders of liberty are styled as fascists, while the fanatics are portrayed as victims! ... It is her wilful, short-fused, enthusiastic, impervious side to which Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash object, in the spirit of the inquisitors who saw devil-possessed witches in every woman too flamboyant for their tastes".
Geert Mak, a Dutch historian, likened the film "Submission", written by Hirsi Ali, and which cost the life of the Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, to the Nazi propaganda film, "The Eternal Jew". According to Mak's "logic", Hirsi Ali "stigmatized" Muslims as Joseph Goebbels did Jews. Leon de Winter rightly attacked Mak's shameful comparison in a column for Volkskrant newspaper:
"If anything can be compared with the propaganda of Goebbels, these are the decapitation videos and anti-Semitic propaganda of Arab satellite stations in Amsterdam West. Mak turns the world upside down. Anne Frank has been abused enough".
The "Index on Censorship", in an article by the associate director of the magazine, Rohan Jayasekera, has painted Hirsi Ali as a silly girl who had allowed herself to be manipulated by a white man (van Gogh) in exploitative employment". The Index on Censorship was founded in 1972 by Stephen Spender in response to a plea from Soviet dissidents facing show trials in Moscow, on the principle that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right that the international community has a duty to safeguard. What would people have said of his organization if it had blamed those Soviet writers instead of their persecutors?

Two years ago, Hirsi Ali was even uninvited from Brandeis University, one of the cradles of American academic liberalism that was supposed to celebrate her with an honorary degree. 85 of 350 professors at the Massachusetts university refused to host such a speaker on the Third World and Islam. If one reads what Hirsi Ali would have said on campus that day, the leftist fear of Hirsi Ali it is understandable:
"We need to make our universities temples not of dogmatic orthodoxy, but of truly critical thinking, where all ideas are welcome and where civil debate is encouraged.... I stand before you as someone who is fighting for women's and girls' basic rights globally. And I stand before you as someone who is not afraid to ask difficult questions about the role of religion in that fight. The connection between violence, particularly violence against women, and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favors to students, faculty, nonbelievers and people of faith when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect. So I ask: Is the concept of holy war compatible with our ideal of religious toleration? Is it blasphemy — punishable by death — to question the applicability of certain seventh-century doctrines to our own era?"
Dissident ex-Muslims from the Islamic world, who have fled to the West to escape persecution and sectarianism, also see their hosts are "going soft" on their persecutors. A motion in the European Parliament to fund Hirsi Ali's U.S. security failed to reach a quorum of half the deputies in the 785-member body. She was "abandoned to the fanatics" in Europe's shameful capitulation to intimidation and threats.

Directors, actors, producers, writers, and film critics, who usually pontificate on everything and side with any minority, all stood silent when Theo van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam and threats were made against his brave writer, Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

In the last few months, we have seen many Western feminists, especially on the "left", standing in defense of burkini. The New York Times ran an article entitled:
"At the beach with my burkini". It is the burkini and the veil, that have become symbols of human rights, and not Hirsi Ali and other Muslim feminists who fight against these religious symbols coerced on women. For many feminists and liberals, submission is demanded only by white male Christian westerners. All minorities, such as Islamic dissidents, who face this enemy are considered provocateurs.
Submission of women in the Islamic world? Female mutilation such as that suffered by Hirsi Ali? Much better to rally against Dominique Strauss Khan, the French Socialist sexual predator. Hirsi Ali criticized the Western feminist silence:
"The current situation in Europe is deeply troubling: not only are Muslim women within Europe subject to considerable oppression in many ways, such norms now risk spreading to non-Muslim women who face harassment from Muslim men. One would think that Western feminists in the United States and Europe would be very disturbed by this obvious misogyny. But sadly, with few exceptions, this does not appear to be the case".
When mullahs in Iran placed a bounty of $2.8 million -- recently raised by an additional $600,000 -- on the head of a British citizen, the Muslim dissident, Salman Rushdie, for having written a novel, The Satanic Verses, a large part of London's literary "left" sided with the Ayatollah Khomeini rather than the persecuted writer. 

The feminist writer Germaine Greer called Rushdie a "megalomaniac, an Englishman with dark skin". Roald Dahl, the bestselling author of children's books, defined him a "dangerous opportunist". The king of the literary spy stories, John Le Carré, called Rushdie an "idiot". At the time of the fatwa, the literary "Left" stood with the Muslim "anger", not with the persecuted writer - while all around, translators and publishers were being killed and wounded by the Iranian murderers.

The Algerian writer, Kamel Daoud, in addition to the edicts of Islamic preachers in his country, had to face a far more sinuous menace in France a year ago. Daoud had the courage to break the taboo against criticizing Cologne's sexual attacks.

According to Daoud, Europe welcomes immigrants with visas and material sustenance, but without addressing values. What Cologne showed, says Daoud, is how sex is "the greatest misery in the world of Allah".

First, twenty leftist academics launched an appeal in Le Monde, where Daoud was accused of a series of ideological crimes, such as "orientalist clichés", "essentialism", "psychologizing", "colonialist paternalism", which correspond, all together, to an accusation of "racism" and "Islamophobia". Then a book entitled "Kamel Daoud the Enquête Contre" -- signed by Ahmed Bensaada and with a preface of a French journalist, Jacques-Marie Bourget -- attacked "these intellectuals in North Africa, who are auxiliaries of the French neo-conservative thinkers" who need "the good negro", a "native alibi". Daoud was accused of being an instrument of "neo-colonialist thought".

"The process of Islamophobia against Kamel Daoud is worthy of the Stalinist era", wrote at Le Figaro political scientist Laurent Bouvet. In the weekly, Le Point Étienne Gernelle attacked "the fools of the regressive left". Rafik Chekkat called Daoud a "native informant", while Olivier Roy, an Islamic scholar, in an article accused Daoud of stigmatizing Muslims: "The machismo and sexual harassment exist all over the world, why isolating this phenomenon among Muslims, instead of trying to counteract all forms? Just because they are Muslims". A great number of articles in the French press attacked Daoud.

The same treatment was reserved for the deputy editor at the time of Italy's largest daily, Il Corriere della Sera, the Egyptian journalist Magdi Allam. He was targeted in an appeal signed by two hundred intellectuals, historians and writers, all belonging to the cultural milieu. Allam has also recently been attacked as a "racist" by the liberal Democratic Party in an Italian town which had wanted to honor him with the honorary citizenship:
"They imply that I have a prejudice against immigrants or Muslims and this corresponds to an offense because we speak of racism. I reminded them that I was a true Italian immigrant for reasons of study. They represent me as a terrorist but I am a victim of terrorism and of those who sow intolerance: I have been living under guard escort for 14 years".
This cowardly interdiction of Muslim liberal voices in the West went ahead with Maryam Namazie, another Islamic intellectual of Iranian origin, was "disinvited" from the University of Warwick, in England, because her lecture could "feed the Islamophobia". The left-wing press, led by The Guardian, supported the exclusion of Namazie:
"Does the withdrawal of an invitation really amount to censorship? Her words have not been banned, the state has not gagged her. Is Namazie's capacity to share her ideas diminished if she doesn't appear in front of 50-odd students? After all, she can still tweet and blog, as she showed over the weekend. If anything, the whole episode has increased her audience".
Duke University students tried to stop the talk of another Islamic dissident, Asra Nomani, author of "Standing Alone". In France, the book of the Egyptian writer, Hamed Abdel-Samad, was taken off the market because, according to the self-censoring publisher, Piranha, it would bring "water to the mill of the extreme right". A Muslim author denouncing "Islamic fascism" was repudiated by the fascist anti-fascist "leftists" because of false "Islamophobia" claims.

Self-righteous liberals love "moderate Islam" when it appears under the guise of Tariq Ramadan, whose goal has been summed up by Jacques Jomier: "His problem is not the modernization of Islam, but the Islamification of modernity". But the same liberals target as agents provocateurs those dissidents trying to modernize Islam. The fatwas of the white liberals hit hard as the violent ones of the Muslim extremists.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
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Shireen Qudosi : Islamism's Culture War Sets Sight on Multi-Billion Dollar Beauty Industry


  • The long game of Western Muslims averse to Western values, was largely unaffected by an altered political landscape as they transitioned to a new arena: culture.
  • "[F]ashion is one of the outlets in which we can start that cultural shift in today's society to normalize the hijab in America." — Melanie Elturk, CEO of Haute Hijab.
  • Beautiful Nura Afia in an advertising campaign is a far more appealing and consumer-friendly alternative to CAIR's Nihad Awad or the political complexities of the Muslim Brotherhood. The face has changed but the message is constant.
  • Here you have the two faces of Islamist thought, one which underscores the myth of peace while privately exiling dissenting voices as ignorant, racist or bigoted. Meanwhile, CoverGirl and other brands upholding the hijab as a new standard of beauty, ignore the hijab's very ugly origins.
As 2016 drew to a close, many people were on the edge of their seats after a defining presidential election between one choice (Clinton) who stood for the status quo and the other (Trump), seen as the harbinger of a resolute victory against radical Islam. For many Muslims, there was a third choice. Unanchored to the changing tides of elections, the long game of Western Muslims who are averse to Western values was largely unaffected by an altered political landscape. They had transitioned to a new arena: culture.
In 2016, the élite fashion label Dolce and Gabbana launched an "Abaya and Hijab Collection." Months later, at New York Fashion Week, a sartorial Mecca, hosted the first catwalk spotlighting models fully donned in hijabs.
Islamist influence is now using Western culture to solidify Islamist values in society's more coveted circles: fashion and beauty.
Left: Marks & Spencer's Paisley Print Burkini. Right: An outfit from the Dolce & Gabbana Abaya and Hijab Collection.
Melanie Elturk, CEO of Haute Hijab, a leading U.S. hijab brand, openly shared a widely held belief that "fashion is one of the outlets in which we can start that cultural shift in today's society to normalize the hijab in America."
Later in the year, CoverGirl, a popular affordable makeup line, announced Muslim beauty blogger Nura Afia as its newest "brand ambassador." A 23-year-old wife and mother, Afia hosts a YouTube channel, with over 200,000 subscribers, for hijab and makeup tutorials. She now stands with celebrities such as CoverGirl's first male makeup model, James Charles; Modern Family star Sofia Vergara and pop singer Katy Perry in a campaign that highlights brands of makeup targeted at customers who applaud surface "diversity" and "equality."
Posing together for a CoverGirl campaign aimed at portraying "diversity" were a male makeup model, a "hijabi," a Latina TV star and a pop singer. It is a visual tableau trying to appeal to an audience that prizes "diversity" -- one that sees "equality" based entirely on appearance rather than values or intrinsic worth. Rather than inquire into the marketplace of ideas that explores identity, faith and American values, we now have advertising campaigns that homogenize competing ideas into the funnel of multiculturalism. In this instance, a noted pop singer and a TV star are used as gateways to usher in the hijab as normal and perhaps even coveted.
Beauty and fashion industries in particular offer a mold in which intellectual discourse and cultural commentary is cast aside for opinion. That opinion is then shaped, packaged, and pushed as a product onto a population group already pliable to messaging. With CoverGirl's newest "brand ambassador," Nura Afia, the message echoes the mantra of hardline Islamist groups who have, since the presidential election, lost much of their political ground. Lost ground is now regained in new spheres through personalities such as Afia, without any association with political parties.
Beautiful Nura Afia in an advertising campaign is a far more appealing and consumer-friendly alternative to CAIR's Nihad Awad or the political complexities of the Muslim Brotherhood. The face has changed but the message has not.
In an earlier Refinery29 interview, Afia had this message to share:
"Islam is such a beautiful religion. It's peaceful and everyone else twists it, even within our own faith. Just from looking at social media, [I see] Muslims bash Muslims, so if that's happening I can't believe that we expect non-Muslims not to do the same. It's just how humans are, I guess. It has nothing to do with religion."
Yet, in a Facebook post just a month prior, Afia also shared this:
"If you find yourself no longer my friend on FB it's because you either shared or posted some straight up ignorant, racist, or bigoted [expletive]."
Here you have the two faces of Islamist thought. The PR-friendly face of Islamist thought underscores the myth of peace, while on the other hand Islamism exiles dissenting voices as ignorant, racist or bigoted.
Meanwhile, CoverGirl and other brands uphold the hijab as a new standard of beauty, ignore the hijab's extremely ugly origins. A handful of Islamic scholars believe the practice of hijab grew out of exclusionary practices designed to draw a distinction between "believing" women (Muslims) and "non-believing" women (non-Muslims). Islamic culture embraces piety through veiling the body of Muslim women, while at the same time it strips non-Muslim women of their dignity by seeing them as property and spoils of war to be parceled and consumed -- a practice allowed by the faith.
The origin of the hijab tradition in Islam likely pre-dates the Quran, and comes from early Islamic society. The Quran, a book that outlines civilian and military life to the most granular detail, does not offer any doctrine that specifically dictates covering the hair. The Quranic verse (33:59) believed to mandate the hijab states:
"O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful."
The practice of covering the hair grew from a slave-owning society. Speaking on Surah 33:59-60, which advises believing women to cover their bodies, Professor Barlas circulates a widely-shared view among academics:
"These are rather straightforward verses: if Muslim women don an outer garment (jil-bab), non-Muslim men will recognize them as such and not harass them. In early slave-owning societies, like Arabia, the 'law of the veil' set apart free women from slaves and therefore women who were off-limits from those who 'were fair game' (Lerner in Ahmed 1992:15). This was the society in which the first Muslim community took shape and it seems to have been under siege at the time."
Professor Barlas's assessment is debated by some Islamic scholars based on what they say is insufficient evidence; other Islamic scholars, including Professor Khaleel Mohammed, argue that the claim has merit.
The larger point is this: slavery at the time was a standard practice. It thrived culturally through acts of social and religious demarcations, such as the hijab, which became to many Muslims a sign of class supremacy, whereas women who were not veiled have been, and continue to be, harassed and attacked[1]:
"Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they are not to be blamed..." (Surah 70, Verse 30, Al-Ma'aarej, Sahih International)
Islam, to its credit, introduced many incentives to shift away from a slave-owning society, by making it simple to free slaves. According to Hadith (Sahih Bukhari Vol 3, Book 46, Number 693), for example, Muslims are rewarded in the afterlife for the act of freeing a slave; freeing the body of a slave is like freeing one's own body from hellfire. Still, while Islam did not initiate slavery and while it did create pathways to move out of the practice, the faith never championed the right of all people to be free.
This failure is largely responsible for present-day slavery in Mauritania, a country to which devout Muslims flock to study Islam in an environment free from Western influence. This failure has also continued to permit rapes. These take place not only during wars from Sudan to Syria and the horrifying present day open enslavement of Yazidi women and children by ISIS and at international slave auctions in neighboring countries such as Saudi Arabia, bit also it seems, by various migrants to Europe.
It is then a fantastic stretch of the imagination when brands such as CoverGirl try to have consumers associate "equality" and "diversity" with hijabs and make-up. It also does not mirror the "Islam of peace" that many Muslims try to emphasize.
These deeper conversations are lost when the market through which Afia reaches out is largely uninterested in history, facts or any other evidence that prompts inquiry or reflection.
For Islamists, Afia and CoverGirl make excellent proxies in the push for normalizing the rigidity in the system of Islam by making it "chic to celebrate oppression." Contrary to modern-day fantasies of the hijab "breaking barriers," the hijab historically was used as a social barrier.
Normalizing the hijab reinforces the message that if you are not covered, you are not respectable and therefore not acceptable. That is the underbelly of Islamic culture: it controls thought and movement before attempting to corral other women into submission under the spoon-fed illusion of "diversity" and "equality."
Shireen Qudosi, Director of Muslim Matters, at America Matters, is an American Muslim raised on three continents. She is writing her first book, Islam's Origin Story.

[1] The Islamic scholar Dr. Tawfik Hamid also wrote a compelling piece, "Hijab, Even American Flag Hijab, Supports Historical Slave System." Relying on multiple Islamic sources as evidence, Dr. Hamid exposes how the "hijab is a dress code in Islam that was designed to distinguish 'free' from 'slave' women." Other modern Islamic thinkers, such as Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa add that Surah 33:59 wasn't instruction to add a new layer of fabric, but to draw closer the jilbab (a long, overflowing gown) that was common at the time. Nomani and Arafa also cite the eight times "hijab" or its variation has appeared in the Quran; each time it was not in reference to piety but to draw distinction and barriers between two things:
The word hijab, or a derivative, appears only eight times in the Quran as an "obstacle" or "wall of separation" (7:46), a "curtain" (33:53), "hidden" (38:32), just a "wall of separation" (41:5, 42:52, 17:45), "hiding" (19:14) and "prevented" or "denied access to God" (83:15)."

Multiple references, both primary and secondary sources, point back to the hijab's origin as not an act of piety, but an act of supremacy and distinction that made it easier for a slave system to thrive.
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Giulio Meotti : Europe: Unwilling to Defend Itself


  • "The problem in Europe is that there are far too many people in uniform, and too few of them able to go into action." — NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson.
  • "A majority of the German public opposes combat missions, and supports the Bundeswehr [German military] only as a quasi-humanitarian organization, a kind of Médecins Sans Frontières with guns". — Konstantin Richter, Politico.eu.
  • The relative abundance enjoyed by the Western post-war generations have created a kind of shame instead of pride.
It has been said that when German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer signed the reconstitution of the military in 1955, he proclaimed: "It is crazy, gentlemen, that I have to create a German army, it is just crazy".

Sixty years have passed, but that sentiment still seems very strong in Germany. A few days ago Sigmar Gabriel, the German foreign minister, said: "We have to be a bit careful here that we don't over-interpret the 2 percent target." Gabriel then became clearer: "Maintain perspective, stay focused on the target, but avoid being consumed by the bliss of a new rearmament spiral!"

A few days earlier, Germany had made an announcement: to raise the number of soldiers from 170,000 to 198,000 by 2024 -- a modest "rearmament".

It is a direct consequence of the Trump Administration's important pressure on European allies, urging them to invest more in defense and security. European armies have become, to quote The Economist, "Potemkin Euro-armies". Germany's views are crucial to understanding Europe's attitude about security and defense.

 Germany, the world's fourth-largest economy and Europe's financial giant, is a military dwarf, proud of being weak and disarmed.

Take the countries which suffered most of terror attacks in the last two years. Belgium? It spends 0.85% of its gross domestic product on defense. France? 1.78%. Germany? 1.19%. Spain, which in 2004 experienced the most severe attack in Europe's recent history? 0.94%.

Europe is enjoying a big siesta. It is disarmed not only militarly but also mentally.

Seventy-five percent of Belgium's military spending goes to pay army pensions. As NATO's Secretary General Lord Robertson put it, "The problem in Europe is that there are far too many people in uniform, and too few of them able to go into action."

Another NATO official, Joseph Ralston, the former supreme commander for Europe, defined European armies as "fat and redundant".

These countries have all embraced the moral vanity of pacifism.

Thanks to it, Germany's military supply depots are now almost completely empty, according to the newspaper, Die Welt. Possibly fearing a "rearmament spiral", Germany in fact ended up with a shy army with no drums.

The German population is unwilling to defend itself. A survey by the research firm TNS Emnid showed that 73% of the Germans remain opposed to higher military spending by NATO countries. Manfred Güllner, head of the Berlin-based pollster, Forsa, said that many Germans "would rather have the military not be operational and stay at home". For most Germans, "history is over". After the reunification of the country, they seem to mean, they have no more enemies or threats; only friends and opportunities to build a better world, all together. According with Der Spiegel, "Germany is experiencing a relapse into pacifism".

Born in the years of a Cold War that could become hot, the Bundeswehr, the German army, was the backbone of NATO forces. Today, it is Europe's military soft underbelly. 
In contrast to its European neighbors (Belgium, Denmark, France and the Netherlands), Germany refused to deploy its military jets to attack Islamic State positions in Iraq. When, last September, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen visited Iraq to talk to the German officers training Kurdish fighters, she assured her troops that they would not be close to the battle zones. She added that for the German army, "Security is the highest priority".

John Vinocur wrote in the Wall Street Journal that Germany, one of the largest manufacturers of weapons in the world, has made it clear again that even facing a barbaric enemy, such as ISIS, it is a non-lethal actor. "Diplomats in uniform" is how German soldiers have been called. In Germany, sending fighting troops abroad looks unthinkable today.

The military no longer figures in the German public's consciousness. If a German chief of staff can be pressured to resign after a raid in Afghanistan did not go as well as planned, it means that he did not have the backing of his society and government.

The German army is now just 20% of what it was in 1990. 
The country is the economic leader in Europe, but Berlin refuses to invest in security and defense -- even less so than the UK, France and other European nations.

Konstantin Richter wrote:
"In the decades since World War II, Germans have turned into genuine pacifists, enjoying their role on the sidelines of global conflicts. A majority of the German public opposes combat missions, and supports the Bundeswehr only as a quasi-humanitarian organization, a kind of Médecins Sans Frontières with guns.".
In a recent Foreign Policy article, Hans Kundnani found that "a simple comparison between the American and German military budget illustrates the problem". In 2015, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the U.S. defense budget was $597.5 billion. Germany's was $36.7 billion, one-twentieth the size of America's. The same is true for the number of soldiers: Germany army has shrunk to 176,752 active military personnel, a seventh of the 1.3 million of the United States.

Soldiers of the German army on parade in 2009. (Image source: Włodi/Flickr)

That is why Jochen Bittner of Die Zeit wrote: "For the foreseeable future, don't count on us Germans". The late Guido Westerwelle, as Germany's foreign minister from 2009 to 2013, made the withdrawal of American nuclear weapons from Germany one of his top priorities.
According Kundnani, this military dysfunction reflects a cultural one:
"In the first decade after reunification in 1990, Germany seemed to be converging with France and the U.K. on the question of the use of military force. This incremental shift culminated in Germany's participation in the Kosovo War in 1999. 'Never again Auschwitz' seemed to have replaced 'never again war' as a fundamental principle of German foreign policy. But in the 2000s, against the backdrop of the deployment of the Bundeswehr to Afghanistan and the perceived failures of military interventions elsewhere, Germans seemed to revert to the principle of 'never again war.' Germany refused to participate in the military intervention in Libya in 2011 — a decision that many Germans feel has been vindicated. And even the strategic shock of the Ukraine crisis hasn't changed German attitudes about the use of military force."
"Pacifism became the German lifestyle". So a few weeks ago, a German MEP expressed his anger after his 16-year-old daughter received a letter from the army in search of volunteers. "It is outrageous that people so young are being targeted", said Özcan Mutlu to the news website taz.de. "Young people need protection". And what does a modern Western society need to be protected? Germany and Europe are not able to answer this question. That is why they are all desperate about Trump's request to invest more in defending themselves, as if they hope to continue their siesta forever.

The relative abundance enjoyed by the Western post-war generations have created a kind of shame instead of pride. Being born in Europe after the Second World War meant belonging to the dregs of humanity, an execrable society that, for centuries, oppressed almost all the rest of the planet. Europe's commitment for the Third World and the "wretched of earth" is accompanied by a strange fatalism: Why defend the feeble Western democracies, since the path of history requires their disappearance? We are supposedly at "the end of history". That is the moral arrogance pervading the Europeans today: at the time of twilight, we just have to work to our own downfall. That is the mentality through which "pacifism, sometimes in a self-righteous manner, has become part of the German DNA".

What did Spain do after al-Qaeda bombed Madrid's trains? It withdrew its army from Iraq.

 What did France do after the carnage at the Bataclan Theater? It played John Lennon's "Imagine". 

What did Belgium do after the bombings in Brussels? It lit candles. 

What Germany did after the massacre at the Christmas market in Berlin? It cried, "Je suis Berlin". There is something so tragic and despairing in the Germany's lack of will to hunt down and eradicate the Islamic State.

See Germany, which destroyed Europe with its arms race under the Nazis. It is now putting Europe at risk again -- but this time out of the fear of a supposed "rearmament spiral". It is as if they think that just because you do not have an army, this means there can be no fight. But there is good news: the US Marines have just arrived in Syria to fight the Islamic State!
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
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Palestinians: We Have the Right to Poison the Minds of our Children


  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas wish to continue teaching children that the conflict with Israel is not over a two-state solution, but the "liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea," which means the annihilation of Israel. The goal is for the students to believe that Israel is one big settlement that has no place in the Middle East.
  • Along with Hamas, Abbas and his PA plan to continue inculcating Palestinian children with the idea that they should look to terrorists who kill Jews as their role models. It might be illuminating if the conversation between Trump and Abbas were to be informed by these uncomfortable facts.

In an ironic turnaround, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is now the object of intimidation and threats made by many Palestinians.
UNRWA is reportedly planning to introduce some changes to the curriculum in its schools in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the Palestinians are rather unhappy about it. They claim that UNRWA has "succumbed" to Israeli pressure to make the changes.

The proposed changes are based on leaks to Palestinians and have not been confirmed by UNRWA. Palestinians claim that they learned about the plans to introduce the changes during meetings with senior UNRWA officials.

According to the Palestinians, the changes are intended to "eradicate" their "national identity" and "history" and distort their "struggle" against Israel.
The Palestinians claim that the new textbooks have replaced the map of "historic Palestine" (including Israel) with pictures of a pumpkin and a bird. Palestinian textbooks often feature maps of "historic Palestine" without Israel. Cities inside Israel, such as Haifa, Jaffa, Tiberias and Ramle, are referred to as "Palestinian cities." The Palestinian Authority (PA) media also refer to these cities as "Palestinian cities inside the 1948 Land."

In one fourth-grade textbook, the Palestinians charge, UNRWA has replaced the map of Palestine with a picture of a traditional Palestinian woman's dress.

The new textbooks make no reference to cities in Israel; they mention only cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, such as Nablus, Jenin, Gaza City, Jericho and Ramallah.
Unsurprisingly, an UNRWA revision of the Palestinian presumption of Jerusalem as the "capital of the State of Palestine" to Jerusalem as a "Holy city for the Abrahamic religions" did not go over well with Palestinians. In addition, they are angry because the UNRWA textbooks make no mention of the Jordan Valley along the border between Israel and Jordan.

The controversial textbooks have also removed photos of Israeli soldiers patrolling near schools and references to Palestinian prisoners held in Israel for terrorism. Moreover, the new textbooks are missing the previous references to "Palestinian Prisoners' Day" -- an annual event marked by Palestinians in solidarity with imprisoned terrorists.

Palestinians are also protesting the removal of words such as "occupation" and "checkpoints" from the new textbooks.

If true, the proposed changes to the Palestinian textbooks should be welcomed as a positive development towards ending anti-Israel incitement in Palestinian schools, including those belonging to UNRWA. In light of the widespread Palestinian protests and threats, however, it is doubtful whether UNRWA will succeed in making the proposed revisions.

A girls' school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees. (Image source: UNRWA)

A recent study into schoolbooks used by UNRWA-run schools found that the texts consistently delegitimize and demonize Israel. The schools do not teach Palestinian children to recognize Israel. The research was conducted by Dr. Arnon Gross, who translated the books, and Dr. Roni Shaked, both from the Harry Truman Research Institute at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

In these currently-used books, Zionism is defined as a colonialist movement that was founded by European Jews in order to gather Jews from all around the world and bring them to Palestine. No mention is made of the religious or historical connection of Jews to the Land of Israel or to Jerusalem. Instead, the UNRWA textbooks teach that Jewish holy sites such as the Western Wall, Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are Muslim holy sites.

Not surprisingly, vicious rivals though they are, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority have joined forces to thwart UNRWA's planned changes to the textbooks. This is an issue that these two corrupt regimes can agree on: inciting children against Israel and denying its existence.

Ahmed Bahr, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, warned that any changes to the curriculum would "harm the history and national rights of the Palestinian people, as well as their resistance" against Israel. By "resistance," the Hamas official means terrorism against Israel, including suicide bombings and the launching of rockets at Israel.
According to the Hamas official, UNRWA and the international community need to understand that "the option of resistance is the only and shortest way for restoring Palestine and liberating our land."

In other words, Bahr wants to go on teaching Palestinian children to continue perpetrating terror attacks, in order to destroy Israel and replace it with an Islamic empire. In fact, Hamas has long been teaching precisely this in its own schools in the Gaza Strip.
Yet Hamas is making it manifest that UNRWA is to follow suit in its schools. Children studying in the UN agency's schools are to continue learning that Israel is nothing more than a figment of the imagination.
The past few days have seen Palestinians in the Gaza Strip staging a series of protests against UNRWA. They warned the agency against making the changes, which are designed to "distort the minds of Palestinian children" and which "do not comply with the culture of Palestinian society."
Hamas has refused to allow UNRWA to teach about the Holocaust in its schools. From Hamas's point of view, the UN agency seeks to "poison the minds of our children by taking steps that only serve" Israel. "UNRWA is trying to justify Israeli crimes against the Palestinians by teaching the so-called Holocaust in the context of human rights in UNRWA-run schools," Hamas said. This attitude is far from surprising: Holocaust denial has always been an integral part of Palestinian and Arab narratives.
It is easy to see why Hamas and other extremist Palestinian groups would be opposed to changing textbooks that delegitimize and demonize Israel. More difficult to understand is that the Palestinian Authority, whose president, Mahmoud Abbas, says he is opposed to anti-Israel incitement, also came out against UNRWA's planned changes.

A statement issued by the Palestinian Ministry of Education in Ramallah warned that it would take "punitive measures" against anyone who tries to change or tamper with the curriculum. "Any attempt to change the Palestinian curriculum will be considered an assault on Palestine and an eradication and dilution of our national identity," the ministry cautioned.
The language used by the PA is strikingly similar to that used by Hamas to threaten an organization that has for decades helped millions of Palestinians to survive. In this regard, the Palestinians are once again biting the hand that has fed them. Ask Kuwait and other Gulf countries that used to give Palestinians billions of dollars before the Palestinians supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.
In his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington in mid-April, Abbas is expected to renew his commitment to combating anti-Israel incitement, according to senior PA officials in Ramallah. One wonders how Abbas plans to account for the PA's threats against UNRWA regarding the textbooks.
The PA, like Hamas, plans to continue indoctrinating their children through poisonous textbooks that depict Jews as evil occupiers and land-thieves who build "racist walls" and demolish houses for no reason. They also wish to continue teaching children that the conflict with Israel is not over a two-state solution, but the "liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea," which means the annihilation of Israel. The goal is for the students to believe that Israel is one big "settlement" that has no place in the Middle East.
Moreover, along with Hamas, Abbas and his PA plan to continue inculcating Palestinian children with the idea that they should look to terrorists who kill Jews as their role models. It might be illuminating if the conversation between Trump and Abbas were to be informed by these uncomfortable facts.
Bassam Tawil is an Arab scholar based in the Middle East.
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