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Thursday, April 6, 2017

Reaction of Geert Wilders to His Conviction


Dear friends, I still cannot believe it, but I have just been convicted. Because I asked a question about Moroccans. While the day before yesterday, scores of Moroccan asylum-seekers terrorized buses in Emmen and did not even had to pay a fine, a politician who asks a question about fewer Moroccans is sentenced.
The Netherlands have become a sick country. And I have a message for the judges who convicted me: You have restricted the freedom of speech of millions of Dutch and hence convicted everyone. No one trusts you anymore. But fortunately, truth and liberty are stronger than you. And so am I.



I will never be silent. You will not be able to stop me. And you are wrong, too. Moroccans are not a race, and people who criticize Moroccans are not racists. I am not a racist and neither are my voters. This sentence proves that you judges are completely out of touch.

And I have also a message for Prime Minister Rutte and the rest of the multicultural elite: You will not succeed in silencing me and defeating the PVV. Support for the Party for Freedom is stronger than ever, and keeps growing every day. The Dutch want their country back and cherish their freedom. It will not be possible to put the genie of positive change back in the bottle.

And to people at home I say: Freedom of speech is our pride. And this will remain so. For centuries, we Dutch have been speaking the unvarnished truth. Free speech is our most important possession. We will never let them take away our freedom of speech. Because the flame of freedom burns within us and cannot be extinguished.
Millions of Dutch are sick and tired of political correctness. Sick and tired of the elite which only cares about itself and ignores the ordinary Dutchman. And sells out our country. People no longer feel represented by all these disconnected politicians, judges and journalists, who have been harming our people for so long, and make our country weaker instead of stronger.

But I will keep fighting for you, and I tell all of you: thank you so much. Thank you so much for all your support. It is really overwhelming; I am immensely grateful to you. Thanks to your massive and heartfelt support, I know that I am not alone. That you back me, and are with me, and unwaveringly stand for freedom of expression.
Today, I was convicted in a political trial, which, shortly before the elections, attempts to neutralize the leader of the largest and most popular opposition party. But they will not succeed. Not even with this verdict. Because I speak on behalf of millions of Dutch. And the Netherlands are entitled to politicians who speak the truth, and honestly address the problems with Moroccans. Politicians who will not let themselves be silenced. Not even by the judges. And you can count on it: I will never be silent.

And this conviction only makes me stronger. This is a shameful sentence, which, of course, I will appeal. But I can tell you, I am now more vigorous than ever. And I know: together, we aim for victory.
Standing shoulder-to-shoulder, we are strong enough to change the Netherlands.
To allow our children to grow up in a country they can be proud of.
In a Netherlands where we are allowed to say again what we think.
Where everybody can safely walk the streets again.
Where we are in charge of our own country again.
And that is what we stand for. For freedom and for our beautiful Netherlands.
Geert Wilders is a member of the Dutch Parliament and leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV).

=======================

Final Statement of Geert Wilders at his Trial

Final Statement of Geert Wilders at his Trial

by

Mr. President, Members of the Court,
When I decided to address you here today, by making a final statement in this trial against freedom of speech, many people reacted by telling me it is useless. That you, the court, have already written the sentencing verdict a while ago. That everything indicates that you have already convicted me. And perhaps that is true. Nevertheless, here I am. Because I never give up. And I have a message for you and the Netherlands.
For centuries, the Netherlands are a symbol of freedom.
When one says Netherlands, one says freedom. And that is also true, perhaps especially, for those who have a different opinion than the establishment, the opposition. And our most important freedom is freedom of speech.
We, Dutch, say whatever is close to our hearts. And that is precisely what makes our country great. Freedom of speech is our pride.
And that, precisely that, is at stake here, today.
I refuse to believe that we are simply giving this freedom up. Because we are Dutch. That is why we never mince our words. And I, too, will never do that. And I am proud of that. No-one will be able to silence me.
Moreover, members of the court, for me personally, freedom of speech is the only freedom I still have. Every day, I am reminded of that. This morning, for example. I woke up in a safe-house. I got into an armored car and was driven in a convoy to this high security courtroom at Schiphol. The bodyguards, the blue flashing lights, the sirens. Every day again. It is hell. But I am also intensely grateful for it.
Because they protect me, they literally keep me alive, they guarantee the last bit of freedom left to me: my freedom of speech. The freedom to go somewhere and speak about my ideals, my ideas to make the Netherlands -- our country -- stronger and safer. After twelve years without freedom, after having lived for safety reasons, together with my wife, in barracks, prisons and safe-houses, I know what lack of freedom means.
I sincerely hope that this will never happen to you, members of the court. That, unlike me, you will never have to be protected because Islamic terror organizations, such as Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and ISIS, and who knows how many individual Muslims, want to murder you. That you will no longer be allowed to empty your own mailbox, need to carry a bulletproof vest at meetings, and that there are police officers guarding the door whenever you use the bathroom. I hope you will be spared this.
However, if you would have experienced it -- no matter how much you disagree with my views -- you might perhaps understand that I cannot remain silent. That I should not remain silent. That I must speak. Not just for myself, but for the Netherlands, our country. That I need to use the only freedom that I still have to protect our country. Against Islam and against terrorism. Against immigration from Islamic countries. Against the huge problem with Moroccans in the Netherlands. I cannot remain silent about it; I have to speak out. That is my duty, I have to address it, I must warn for it, I have to propose solutions for it.
I had to give up my freedom to do this and I will continue. Always. People who want to stop me will have to murder me first.
And so, I stand here before you. Alone. But I am not alone. My voice is the voice of many. In 2012, nearly 1 million Dutch have voted for me. And there will be many more on March 15th.
According to the latest poll, soon, we are going to have two million voters. Members of the court, you know these people. You meet them every day. As many as one in five Dutch citizens would vote the Party for Freedom, today. Perhaps your own driver, your gardener, your doctor or your domestic aid, the girlfriend of a registrar, your physiotherapist, the nurse at the nursing home of your parents, or the baker in your neighborhood. They are ordinary people, ordinary Dutch. The people I am so proud of.
They have elected me to speak on their behalf. I am their spokesman. I am their representative. I say what they think. I speak on their behalf. And I do so determinedly and passionately. Every day again, including here, today.
So, do not forget that, when you judge me, you are not just passing judgment on a single man, but on millions of men and women in the Netherlands. You are judging millions of people. People who agree with me. People who will not understand a conviction. People who want their country back, who are sick and tired of not being listened to, who cherish freedom of expression.
Members of the court, you are passing judgment on the future of the Netherlands. And I tell you: if you convict me, you will convict half of the Netherlands. And many Dutch will lose their last bit of trust in the rule of law.

Geert Wilders in court, November 23, 2016. (Image source: NPO Nieuws video screenshot)
Of course, I should not have been subjected to this absurd trial. Because this is a political trial. It is a political trial because political issues have to be debated in Parliament and not here. It is a political trial because other politicians -- from mostly government parties -- who spoke about Moroccans have not been prosecuted. It is a political trial because the court is being abused to settle a political score with an opposition leader whom one cannot defeat in Parliament.
This trial here, Mr. President, it stinks. It would be appropriate in Turkey or Iran, where they also drag the opposition to court. It is a charade, an embarrassment for the Netherlands, a mockery of our rule of law.
And it is also an unfair trial because, earlier, one of you -- Mrs. van Rens -- commented negatively on the policy of my party and the successful challenge in the previous Wilders trial. Now, she is going to judge me.
What have I actually done to deserve this travesty? I have spoken about fewer Moroccans at a market, and I have asked questions of PVV members during a campaign event. And I did so, members of the court, because we have a huge problem with Moroccans in this country. And almost no-one dares to speak about it or take tough measures. My party alone has been speaking about this problem for years.
Just look at these past weeks: Moroccan fortune-seekers stealing and robbing in Groningen, abusing our asylum system, and Moroccan youths terrorizing entire neighborhoods in Maassluis, Ede and Almere. I can give tens of thousands of other examples -- almost everyone in the Netherlands knows them or has personally experienced nuisance from criminal Moroccans. If you do not know them, you are living in an ivory tower.
I tell you: If we can no longer honestly address problems in the Netherlands, if we are no longer allowed to use the word "alien," if we, Dutch, are suddenly racists because we want Black Pete to remain black, if we only go unpunished if we want more Moroccans or else are dragged before a criminal court, if we sell out our hard-won freedom of expression, if we use the courts to silence an opposition politician, who threatens to become Prime Minister, then this beautiful country will be doomed. That is unacceptable, because we are Dutch and this is our country.
And again, what on earth have I done wrong? How can the fact be justified that I have to stand here as a suspect, as if I robbed a bank or committed murder?
I only spoke about Moroccans at a market and asked a question at an election-night meeting. And anyone who has the slightest understanding of politics, knows that the election-night meetings of every party consist of political speeches full of slogans, one-liners and making maximum use of the rules of rhetoric. That is our job. That is the way it works in politics.
Election nights are election nights, with rhetoric and political speeches; not university lectures, in which every paragraph is scrutinized for 15 minutes from six points of view. It is simply crazy that the Public Prosecutor now uses this against me, as if one would blame a football player for scoring a hattrick.
Indeed, I said at the market, in the beautiful Hague district of Loosduinen: "if possible fewer Moroccans." Mark that I did so a few minutes after a Moroccan lady came to me and told me she was going to vote PVV because she was sick and tired of the nuisance caused by Moroccan youths.
And on election night, I began by asking the PVV audience "Do you want more or less EU," and I also did not explain in detail why the answer might be less. Namely, because we need to regain our sovereignty and reassert control over our own money, our own laws and our own borders. I did not do that.
Then, I asked the public "Do you want more or less Labour Party." And, again, I did not explain in detail why the answer might be less. Namely, because they are the biggest cultural relativists, willfully blind and Islam-hugging cowards in Parliament. I did not say that.
And then I asked, "Do you want more or fewer Moroccans," and again, I did not explain in detail why the answer might be fewer. Namely, because people with Moroccan nationality are overrepresented in the Netherlands in crime, benefit dependency and terror. And that we want to achieve this by expelling criminals with Moroccan nationality after denaturalizing them of their Dutch nationality, by a stricter immigration policy and an active voluntary repatriation policy. Proposals that we have made in our election manifesto from the day I founded the Party for Freedom.
I explained this in several interviews on national television, both between the statement at the market and election night, as well as on election night a few moments after I had asked the said questions. It is extremely malicious and false of the Public Prosecutor to want to disregard that context.
Disgusting -- I have no other words for it -- are the actions of other politicians, including the man who for a few months may still call himself Prime Minister. Their, and especially his, actions after the said election night constituted real persecution, a witch hunt. The government created an atmosphere in which it had to come to trial.
Prime Minister Rutte even told small children during the youth news that I wanted to expel them, and then reassured them that this would not happen. As if I had said anything of that kind. It is almost impossible to behave viler and falser.
But, also, the then Minister of Security and Justice -- who, it should be noted, is the political boss of the Public Prosecutor -- called my words disgusting and even demanded that I take them back. A demand of the Minister of Justice -- you do not have to be named Einstein to predict what will happen next, what the Public Prosecutor will do, if you do not comply to the demand of the Minister of Justice.
The Interior Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, too, both from the Labour Party, expressed themselves similarly. In short, the government left the Public Prosecutor no option than to prosecute me. Hence, in this trial, the Officers of Justice are not representatives of an independent Public Prosecutor, but accomplices of this government.
Mr. President, the elite also facilitated the complaints against me. With pre-printed declaration forms, which were brought to the mosque by the police. In which, it has to be noted, the police sometimes said that they, too, were of the opinion that my statements were inadmissible.
And a sample taken by us showed that some complaints were the result of pure deception, intimidation and influence. People thought they were going to vote; they not even know my name, did not realize what they were signing or declared that they did not feel to be discriminated against by me at all.
Someone said that, at the As Soenah mosque, after Friday prayers alone, 1,200 complaints were lodged because it was thought to be an election. There were parades, led by mayors and aldermen, like in Nijmegen, where CDA mayor Bruls was finally able to show off his deep-seated hatred of the PVV. The police had extra opening hours, offered coffee and tea, there were dancing and singing Moroccans accompanied by a real oompah band in front of a police station. They turned it into a big party.
But meanwhile, two representative polls, one commissioned by the PVV, the other commissioned by De Volkskrant, showed that, apart from the government and media elite, 43% of the Dutch people, around 7 million people, agree with me. Want fewer Moroccans. You will be very busy if the Public Prosecutor is going to prosecute all these 7 million people.
People will never understand that other politicians -- especially from government parties -- and civil servants who have spoken about Moroccans, Turks and even PVV members, are being left alone and not prosecuted by the Public Prosecutor.
Like Labour leader Samsom, who said that Moroccan youths have a monopoly on ethnic nuisance.
Or Labour chairman Spekman, who said Moroccans should be humiliated.
Or Labour alderman Oudkerk, who spoke about f*cking Moroccans.
Or Prime Minister Rutte, who said that Turks should get lost.
And what about police chief Joop van Riessen, who said about me on television -- I quote literally: "Basically one would feel inclined to say: let's kill him, just get rid of him now and he will never surface again"?
And in reference to PVV voters, van Riessen declared: "Those people must be deported, they no longer belong here." End of quote. The police chief said that killing Wilders was a normal reaction. That is hatred, Mr. President, pure hatred -- and not by us, but against us. And the Public Prosecutor did not prosecute Mr. Van Riessen.
But the Public Prosecutor does prosecute me. And demands a conviction based on nonsensical arguments about race and concepts that are not even in the law. It accuses and suspects me of insulting a group and inciting hatred and discrimination on grounds of race. How much crazier can it become? Race. What race?
I spoke and asked a question about Moroccans. Moroccans are not a race. Who makes this up? No-one at home understands that Moroccans have suddenly become a race. This is utter nonsense. Not a single nationality is a race. Belgians are no race, Americans are no race. Stop this nonsense, I say to the Public Prosecutor. I am not a racist and neither are my voters. How do you dare suggest that? Wrongly slandering millions of people as racists.
43% of the Dutch want fewer Moroccans, as I already said. They are no racists. Stop insulting these people. Every day, they experience the huge problem with Moroccans in our country. They have a right to a politician who is not afraid to mention the problem with Moroccans. But neither they nor I care whether someone is black, yellow, red, green or violet.
I tell you: If you convict someone for racism while he has nothing against races, then you undermine the rule of law, then it is bankrupt. No-one in this country will understand that.
And now the Public Prosecutor also uses the vague concept of "intolerance." Yet another stupidity. The subjective word intolerance, however, is not even mentioned in the law. And what for heaven's sake is intolerance? Are you going to decide that, members of the court?
It is not up to you to decide. Nor up to the Supreme Court or even the European Court. The law itself must determine what is punishable. We, representatives, are elected by the people to determine clearly and visibly in the law for everyone what is punishable and what is not.
That is not up to the court. You should not do that, and certainly not on the basis of such subjective concepts, which are understood differently by everyone and can easily be abused by the elite to ban unwelcome opinions of the opposition. Do not start this, I tell you.
Mr. President, Members of the Court,
Our ancestors fought for freedom and democracy. They suffered, many gave their lives. We owe our freedoms and the rule of law to these heroes. But the most important freedom, the cornerstone of our democracy, is freedom of speech. The freedom to think what you want and to say what you think.
If we lose that freedom, we lose everything. Then, the Netherlands cease to exist; then the efforts of all those who suffered and fought for us are useless. From the freedom fighters for our independence in the Golden Age to the resistance heroes in World War II. I ask you: Stand in their tradition. Stand for freedom of expression.
By asking for a conviction, the Public Prosecutor, as an accomplice of the established order, as a puppet of the government, asks to silence an opposition politician. And, hence, silence millions of Dutch. I tell you: The problems with Moroccans will not be solved this way, but will only increase.
For people will sooner be silent and say less because they are afraid of being called racist, because they are afraid of being sentenced. If I am convicted, then everyone who says anything about Moroccans will fear to be called a racist.
Mr. President, Members of the Court, I conclude.
A worldwide movement is emerging that puts an end to the politically correct doctrines of the elites and the media that are subordinate to them.
That has been proven by Brexit.
That has been proven by the US elections.
That is about to be proven in Austria and Italy.
That will be proven next year in France, Germany, and The Netherlands.
The course of things is about to take a different turn. Citizens no longer tolerate it.
And I tell you, the battle of the elite against the people will be won by the people. Here, too, you will not be able to stop this, but rather accelerate it. We will win, the Dutch people will win, and it will be remembered well who was on the right side of history.
Common sense will prevail over politically correct arrogance. Because everywhere in the West, we are witnessing the same phenomenon.
The voice of freedom cannot be imprisoned; it rings like a bell. Everywhere, ever more people are saying what they think. They do not want to lose their land, they do not want to lose their freedom.
They demand politicians who take them seriously, who listen to them, who speak on their behalf. It is a genuine democratic revolt. The wind of change and renewal blows everywhere. Including here, in the Netherlands.
As I said:
I am standing here on behalf of millions of Dutch citizens.
I do not speak just on behalf of myself.
My voice is the voice of many.
And, so, I ask you, not only on behalf of myself, but in the name of all those Dutch citizens:
Acquit me! Acquit us!
Geert Wilders is a member of the Dutch Parliament and leader of the Party for Freedom (PVV).

=======================

Giulio Meotti : Critics of Islam on Trial in Europe: Wilders Convicted


  • On December 9, for the first time in Dutch history, a court criminalized freedom of expression: The truly heroic Dutch Member of Parliament, Geert Wilders, was found guilty of the "crimes" of "inciting discrimination and insulting a minority group."
  • The death sentence against Salman Rushdie in 1989 by Iran's supreme leader looked unreal. The West did not take it seriously. Since then, however, this fatwa has been assimilated to such an extent that today's threats to free speech come from ourselves. It is now the West that put on trial writers and journalists.
  • The Red Brigades, the Communist terror group which devastated Italy in the 1970s, coined a slogan: "Strike one to educate one hundred." If you target one, you get collective intimidation. This is exactly the effect of these political trials about Islam.
  • "Hate speech" has become a political weapon to dispatch whoever may not agree with you. It is not the right of a democracy to quibble about the content of articles or cartoons. In the West, we paid a high price for the freedom to write them and and read them it. It is not up to those who govern to grant the right of thought and speech.
  • In Europe now, the same iron curtain as in the Soviet era is descending.
After the Second World War and the horrors of Nazism and Stalinism, a central tenet of Western democracies has been that you can put people on trial, but not ideas and opinions. Europe is now allowing dangerous "human rights" groups and Islamists to use tribunals to restrict the borders of our freedom of expression, exactly as in Soviet show trials. "Militant anti-racism will be for the 21st century what communism was for the 20th century," the prominent French philosopher, Alain Finkielkraut has predicted.

A year ago, Christoph Biró, a respected columnist and editor of the largest Austrian newspaper, Kronen Zeitung, wrote an article blaming "young men, testosterone-fuelled Syrians, who carry out extremely aggressive sexual attacks" (even before mass the sexual assaults of New Year's Eve in Cologne, Hamburg and other cities). The article sparked much controversy, and it received a large number of complaints and protests. Biró needed four weeks off work because of these attacks and later (under pressure) admitted that he had "lost a sense of proportion". Prosecutors in Graz recently charged Biró with "hate speech" after a complaint by a so-called human rights organization, SOS Mitmensch. The case will be decided in court.

Journalists, novelists and intellectuals throughout Europe are now told to raise their right hand before a judge and swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth -- as if that were not what they were doing all along and for what they are now being prosecuted.
It is an alarming but very common sight today, where "hate speech" has become a political weapon to dispatch whoever may not agree with you.

It is not the right of a democracy to quibble about the content of articles or cartoons. In the West, we paid a high price for the freedom to read and write them. It is not up to those who govern to grant the right of thought and speech, that belongs to the free initiative in the democracies. The right to express our own opinion was paid for dearly, but if it is not exercised, it can quickly disappear.

A grotesque new legal front was just opened in Paris. The French philosopher Pascal Bruckner began his trial, where he opened his defense with a quotation from Jean-Paul Sartre: "The guns are loaded with words". Bruckner, one of the most famous essayists of France, is on trial for having spoken out against the "collaborators of Charlie Hebdo's assassins".
"I will say the names: The organizations 'The Indivisibles' of Rokhaya Diallo and 'The Indigenous of the Republic', the rapper Nekfeu who wanted 'a bonfire for those dogs' (Charlie Hebdo), all those who have justified with ideology the death of the twelve journalists".
Countless witnesses testified in defense of Bruckner: the editor of Charlie Hebdo, "Riss"; the political scientist Laurent Bouvet; the former president of "Neither Whores nor Submissives," Sihem Habchi; and the philosopher, Luc Ferry. Bruckner used the term "collaborator" for "those newspapers which justified the liquidation of the Résistance and the Jews" during the Second World War. Sihem Habchi spoke of the danger of a "green fascism", Islamism.
Bruckner's verdict will be announced on January 17. "Bruckner brought his voice before the 17th Chamber [court], too often a grave-digger of freedom of expression," commented the important and courageous Riposte Laïque.

These political trials about Islam started in 2002, when a court in Paris considered a complaint against Michel Houellebecq, who, in the novel Platforme called Islam "the stupidest religion." The writer Fernando Arrabal, arrested for blasphemy in 1967 in Franco's Spain, was called by Houellebecq to testify in in court. "What a joy to be in a trial for crimes of opinion," Arrabal said in Paris. "Zaragoza, Valladolid, Santander," the playwright named a number of Spanish cities. "This is the list of the prisons where I have been for the same crime as Houellebecq."

The late Italian writer, Oriana Fallaci, was also put on trial for her book, La Rage et l'Orgueil ("The Rage and the Pride"). The French newspaper Libération called her "the woman who defames Islam." Later the satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, and its editor, Philippe Val, targeted by Islamist organizations, were also forced to appear in court.

The death sentence against Salman Rushdie in 1989 by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khomeini looked unreal. The West did not take it seriously. Since then, however, this fatwa has been assimilated to such an extent that today's threats to free speech come from ourselves. It is now the West that puts on trial writers and journalists.

It has become almost impossible to list all the journalists and writers who have had to defend themselves in court because of their ideas on Islam. To quote the French-Algerian writer, Boualem Sansal, the author of the novel "2084," from an interview with Libération: "We are aware of the danger, but we do not know how to act for fear of being accused of being anti-immigrant, anti-Islam, anti-Africa... Democracy, like the mouse, will be swallowed by the serpent". And it will be turned into "a society that whispers".

Journalists are now prosecuted even if they question Islam during a radio debate. That is why today most of writers and journalists are only whispering about the consequences of mass migration in Europe, Islam's role in the terrorists' war on democracies and the sultans' offensives on freedom of expression.
The Red Brigades, the Communist terror group which devastated Italy in the 1970s, coined a slogan: "Strike one to educate one hundred." If you target one, you get collective intimidation. This is exactly the effect of these political trials about Islam. The debate is rapidly closing.
In the Netherlands yesterday, the trial for the "crimes" of "inciting discrimination and insulting a minority group" against Geert Wilders was concluded. The brave Dutch politician had asked supporters if they wanted "fewer Moroccans" in the country. Convicting Wilders yesterday, a court criminalized freedom of expression for the first time in Dutch history. (Wilders was acquitted five years ago in a similar trial).

Left: Writer Salman Rushdie. Right: Dutch MP Geert Wilders.

In France Ivan Rioufol, one of the most respected columnists of the newspaper, Le Figaro, had to defend himself in court against the "Collective Against Islamophobia." The writer Renaud Camus, who has expounded on the "great replacement" theory, which holds that France is being colonized by Muslim immigrants with the help of mainstream politicians, was charged with "hate speech." Marine Le Pen also had to appear in court. In Germany, there was the case of Jan Böhmermann, a comedian who satirized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on television. German judges then put on trial Lutz Bachmann, the founder of "Pegida," the anti-Islamization movement. In Canada essayist and journalist Mark Steyn was charged with "flagrant Islamophobia" by a "Human Rights Tribunal" (and later cleared). Lars Hedegaard, the president of the Danish Free Press Society, was also charged with "hate speech" (and later aquitted) for comments critical of Islam.
It is fundamental that these writers and journalists are acquitted. But the goal of these trials is not to find the truth; it is to intimidate the public and to restrict freedom of expression on Islam. These are purges to "re-educate" them. Sadly, as we see from the Wilders trial, they have often been succeeding.

After the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, Milan Kundera's novels disappeared from bookstores and libraries. The intelligentsia lay in sterility and isolation. Cinemas and theaters offered only the Soviet performances. Radio, newspapers and televisions streamed only propaganda. The Russians rewarded the bureaucrats who pressured writers and journalists, and punished the rebels. Those who spoke out were often obliged to work as unskilled laborers. Prague, restless and fascinating, became silent and whispering.
In Europe now, the same iron curtain is descending.
Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
==================

Douglas Murray : Geert Wilders - The Guilty Verdict Dutch Politicians Wanted So Much


  • Remarks, incomparably more damning than "fewer Moroccans", [were] made by members of the Netherlands' Labour Party, who of course were never prosecuted.
  • The irony cannot have been lost on the wider world that on the same day that news of Wilders's conviction came out the other news from Holland was the arrest of a 30 year-old terror suspect in Rotterdam suspected of being about to carry out 'an act of terrorism'.
  • Internationally it will continuously be used against Wilders that he has been convicted of 'inciting discrimination' even though the charge is about a proto-crime – a crime that has not even occurred: like charging the makers of a car chase movie for 'inciting speeding'. As with many 'hate-crime' trials across the free world, from Denmark to Canada, the aim of the proceedings is to blacken the name of the party on trial so that they are afterwards formally tagged as a lesser, or non-person. If this sounds Stalinist it is because it is.
  • In the long-term, though, there is something even more insidious about this trial. For as we have noted here before, if you prosecute somebody for saying that they want fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands then the only legal views able to be expressed about the matter are that the number of Moroccans in the country must remain at precisely present numbers or that you would only like more Moroccans in the country. In a democratic society this sort of matter ought to be debatable.
  • If there is one great mental note of which 2016 ought to have reminded the world, it is how deeply unwise it is to try to police opinion. For when you do so you not only make your society less free, but you disable yourself from being able to learn what your fellow citizens are actually – perhaps ever more secretly – feeling. Then one day you will hear them.
The trial of Geert Wilders has resulted in a guilty verdict. The court – which was located in a maximum security courthouse in the Netherlands near Schipol airport – found the leader of the PVV (Freedom Party) guilty of 'insulting a group' and of 'inciting discrimination'. The trial began with a number of complaints, but the proceedings gradually honed down onto one single comment made by Wilders at a party rally in March 2014. This was the occasion when Wilders asked the crowd whether they wanted 'fewer or more Moroccans in your city and in the Netherlands'. The crowd of supporters shouted 'Fewer'.
On Friday morning the court decided not to impose a jail sentence or a fine, as prosecutors had requested. The intention of the court is clearly that the 'guilty' sentence should be enough.



For Wilders himself this will have been another unpleasant ordeal. But he may have become used to them by now. Five years ago Wilders was put on trial for insulting a religion. The first trial fell apart after one of the judges was found to have attempted to influence the evidence of one of Wilders's defence witnesses. Once the trial restarted, it resulted in an acquittal. So the Dutch Justice system turn out to have been "second-time lucky" in getting the conviction they appear to have so badly wanted.
This is apparent from remarks, incomparably more damning than "fewer Moroccans", made by members of the Netherlands' Labour Party, who of course were never prosecuted:
  • "We also have s*** Moroccans over here." Rob Oudkerk, Dutch Labour Party (PvDA) politician.
  • "We must humiliate Moroccans." Hans Spekman, PvDA politician.
  • "Moroccans have the ethnic monopoly on trouble-making." Diederik Samsom, PvDA politician.
Wilders's legal trials are perhaps the least of it. For more than a decade Wilders has had to live under permanent security protection because of the threat to his life from Muslim extremists in the Netherlands. One might agree or disagree with a person who believes there should be fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands, but it requires an extraordinary degree of callousness to prosecute someone whose life is in danger from parts of such a community for voicing a desire not to see that community grow. The irony cannot have been lost on the wider world that on the same day that news of Wilders's conviction came out the other news from Holland was the arrest of a 30 year-old terror suspect in Rotterdam suspected of being about to carry out 'an act of terrorism'.

There are two aspects to this verdict which matter. The first is what it will do for Wilders himself. Domestically, within the Netherlands, it is hard to say. On the one hand it is possible that his supporters and others will be galvanised by the intrusion of the judiciary into politics and by the nakedly partisan and political nature of this trial. Many observers predict a boost in the polls for Wilders, who may benefit from this further proof of what he has often said – that it is Wilders against the Dutch establishment.

But internationally and among a good many Dutch nationals the conviction will carry a stigma. Internationally it will continuously be used against Wilders that he has been convicted of 'inciting discrimination' even though the charge is about a proto-crime – a crime that has not even occurred: like charging the makers of a car chase movie for 'inciting speeding'. As with many 'hate-crime' trials across the free world, from Denmark to Canada, the aim of the proceedings is to blacken the name of the party on trial so that they are afterwards formally tagged as a lesser, or non-person. If this sounds Stalinist it is because it is.

In the long-term, though, there is something even more insidious about this trial. For as we have noted here before, if you prosecute somebody for saying that they want fewer Moroccans in the Netherlands then the only legal views able to be expressed about the matter are that the number of Moroccans in the country must remain at precisely present numbers or that you would only like more Moroccans in the country. In a democratic society this sort of matter ought to be debatable. But the judges in the Wilders case have tried to make it un-debatable. By prosecuting somebody for expressing one opinion they have sent out a message to all citizens. And that is where the stifling effect of the Wilders trial will be felt.

It will be felt by all those Dutch men and women who have concerns about the direction their country is going in, including concerns that the rate of immigration has been too high in recent years. Many of these people will already have felt a certain social pressure not to air their views and now there is the additional restraining factor that their views have been made illegal. At social gatherings across the land the people who believe that there should only ever be more Moroccans in the Netherlands will have an additional card to play against anyone who believes the opposite. For their conversational partner will not merely be risking a social embarrassment but will be standing on the verge of committing a crime.

Any half-way civilised society – as the Netherlands most certainly is – must see that trying to squash contrary views in such a manner is the behaviour of tyrants. This gang-up of the courts and the political elite in an effort to crush dissenting opinion is unbecoming for a great and distinguished nation such as The Netherlands. But they may yet have their comeuppance.

If there is one great mental note of which 2016 ought to have reminded the world, it is how deeply unwise it is to try to police opinion. For when you do so you not only make your society less free, but you disable yourself from being able to learn what your fellow citizens are actually – perhaps ever more secretly – feeling. Then one day you will hear them. And only then – when it is too late – will you remember why you should have listened.
Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England

=====================

George Igler : What Was Behind the Trial of Geert Wilders?


  • If Europeans are ever to stand a chance of unravelling the coils of laws constricting their throats, preventing their ability to speak out against the demographic redrawing of their countries or any other potential danger they may note, it may prove helpful understanding how this slow strangulation took shape.
  • Although the gross unfairness of Geert Wilders's prosecution is clear when compared with other Dutch politicians who have articulated far worse, there is also compelling evidence that much that is preached from the Koran in mosques daily would clearly fall under such a definition of hate speech -- also remaining curiously outside the attention of public prosecutors.
  • Are not elected Member of Parliament even more responsible to for the safety of the public than are other citizens? If elected officials are criminalized for speaking out, at what point do such restrictions start posing a national security problem?
  • How are ordinary, decent, native Europeans ever likely socially and politically to articulate how they never consented to being part of a "grand experiment," without incurring the stain of bigotry accompanying this reasonable assertion, from friends and co-workers alike?
  • Would it not be a remarkable irony if, instead of burying Wilders, as the conviction seemed intended to do, it propelled him instead to victory?
Much has been made of the 2016 populist revolt in the West, beginning with Britain's June 23 decision to leave the European Union, and culminating with the victory of president-elect Donald Trump on November 8. The narrative of change is understandably seductive, but has recently been dealt successive blows by the domestic circumstances that so characterize European politics.
Despite traditions of liberty being placed at the heart of the successful Trump campaign, the promise of a new economic approach also enabled him to cross the line on election day.
The Brexit vote similarly took place under a referendum that allowed Britain's voting populace to defy the stated preference of the majority of their elected parliamentarians.
The most disturbing recent development on the European continent, however, was Friday's conviction of Geert Wilders on two charges, "inciting discrimination and insulting a minority group," for asking supporters whether they wanted "fewer Moroccans" in the Netherlands, at a small public rally in a bar in The Hague, on March 19, 2014.



Geert Wilders during his March 2014 speech, where he asked "Do you want more or fewer Moroccans?" (Image source: nos.nl video screenshot)

This "hate speech" case against Wilders similarly pits popular alarm over the consequences of mass migration plus a principled politician who for years -- in the face of threats against his life, has agitated for genuine change -- against an untrustworthy, politicized legal system which appears at odds with both Wilders and popular alarm. Several Dutch Labour Party politicians, who said far more damaging things about Moroccans than Wilders did, yet were never prosecuted:
  • "We also have sh*t Moroccans over here." -- Rob Oudkerk, a Dutch Labour Party (PvDA) politician.
  • "We must humiliate Moroccans." -- Hans Spekman, PvDA politician.
  • "Moroccans have the ethnic monopoly on trouble-making." -- Diederik Samsom, PvDA politician.
Although Wilders's trial clearly appears an orchestrated miscarriage of justice, it is arguably not helpful to view the basis for his prosecution through an absolutist defense of freedom of speech, intuitively understandable to Americans. No constitutional equivalent of the First Amendment, which prohibits Congress from passing laws abridging the freedom of speech, exists in Europe.
This right, however, even in the U.S. is somewhat qualified, as laid out in Brandenberg vs. Ohio, but none of those exceptions would apply to Wilders (imminent danger and individual personalization). Under the strictures of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), freedom of expression is a "qualified" right in much broader terms -- from which "left-wing" members of the Dutch Labour Party issuing the far more objectionable statements quoted above are apparently excluded: "the state may lawfully interfere with the right to freedom of expression in certain defined and limited circumstances."[1]
The arguments qualifying the conviction of Wilders, in the courtroom of the military base at Schiphol Airport, according to the presiding jurist Hendrik Steenhuis, were that the PVV leader's comments were "unworthy" of an elected member of parliament -- as Judge Steenhuis denied any assertion that the trial was politically motivated. Yet, are not elected Members of Parliament even more responsible to for the safety of the public than are other citizens? If elected officials are criminalized for speaking out, at what point do such restrictions start posing a national security problem?
Submitting to the questionable tenets of the ECHR, however, is a condition of EU membership. Dutch prosecutors expressed themselves "very satisfied" with the verdict, a spokeswoman adding, "the standard is set."
If Europeans are ever to stand a chance of unravelling the coils of laws constricting their throats, preventing their ability to speak out against the demographic redrawing of their countries or any other potential danger they may note, it may prove helpful understanding how this slow strangulation took shape.
The most compelling defense of hate speech laws was articulated by Prof. Jeremy Waldron, in 2012, who took issue with those believing that, "the bigoted invective that defiles our public environment, should be of no concern of the law."[2]
In a passage dedicated to expressions of opposition to Muslim immigration, in The Harm in Hate Speech, the NYU School of Law professor questioned those who maintain that:
There is nothing to be regulated here, nothing for the law to concern itself with, nothing that a good society should use its legislative apparatus to suppress or disown. The people who are targeted should just learn to live with it.
He counters:

...there is a sort of public good of inclusiveness that our society sponsors and that it is committed to. We are diverse ... And we are embarked on a grand experiment of living and working together despite these sorts of differences. ... And each person, each member of each group, should be able to go about his or her business, with the assurance that there will be no need to face hostility, violence, discrimination, or exclusion by others.

This sense of security in the space we all inhabit is a public good ... Hate speech undermines this public good, or it makes the task of sustaining it much more difficult than it would otherwise be.
Although the gross unfairness of Geert Wilders's prosecution is clear when compared with other Dutch politicians who have articulated far worse, there is also compelling evidence that much that is preached from the Koran in mosques daily would clearly fall under such a definition of "hate speech" -- also remaining curiously outside the attention of public prosecutors.
Given that "hate speech" damages the maintenance of dignity between groups and public safety, can a compelling case therefore not be made that "hate speech" laws mandated by the European Union are doing considerably more harm than good?
Is it not high time that lawmakers grasp how mass Muslim immigration, and the importation of the sectarianism unfortunately inherent in Islamic doctrine, undermine even more significantly these noble principles of "public good"?
How exactly are the terrorism, rape and crime waves that have accompanied such migration into Europe, likely to be addressed by the democratic process -- within the confines of such originally benign legislation -- when across the continent fundamental notions of security are already being so comprehensively undermined?
How are ordinary, decent, native Europeans ever likely socially and politically to articulate how they never consented to being part of a "grand experiment," without incurring the stain of bigotry accompanying this reasonable assertion, from friends and co-workers alike?
Are loyal citizens being cowed into silence, as in the world's most totalitarian nations, by prosecutions that can justifiably be seen as "making an example" of those who fail to toe whatever is the current political line?
More sinisterly, with three months until the polls open in the Netherlands, the verdict against Wilders may have had little to do with either incitement or "hate speech," and everything to do with a desire to curtail precisely the sort of public rallies which were hallmarks of both victories led by Nigel Farage in Great Britain and Donald Trump in the United States.
It is precisely these kind of public gatherings that do so much to convince those with entirely legitimate grievances that they are not alone.
Would it not be a remarkable irony if, rather than burying Wilders as the trial seemed intended to do, it instead propels him to victory?
George Igler, between 2010 and 2016, aided those facing death across Europe for criticizing Islam.
==============

Denis MacEoin : The United Church of Christ: Knowingly Silent on Terrorism


  • An organization affiliated to the United Church of Christ (UCC), the UCC Palestine Israel Network (UCCPIN) published a guide to Israel-Palestine affairs in August and again in September 2016. Titled "Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel", and sub-headed "A Guide for United Church of Christ Faith Leaders", this toxic document is a desperately one-sided, inaccurate, and counter-factual exercise in futile politics. It most certainly does not favour justice or peace in the Holy Land, as its contents show on every page. Legally, UCCPIN operates under the aegis of one of the denomination's local conferences. Their guide is, therefore, not the direct work of the church's leadership, but is clearly endorsed by a section of it.
  • The naïvety of the UCC is particularly striking in its choice to take at face value the Palestinian statement that if Israel ended its occupation peace would follow as day follows night. When, after 1949, Gaza was occupied by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan, no one protested, no one attacked Egyptians or Jordanians. In other words, Israel occupied only itself. But Palestinian terrorism against Israelis continued up to 1967, right through the period of Israeli non-occupation. There were no "settlements" then. Rather, the Palestinians have always regarded all of Israel as one big "settlement." Just look at any Palestinian maps; they cover both the entirety of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
  • Unfortunately, the Palestinians have a history of regarding every retreat by Israel as a triumph of aggression over diplomacy, as if to say: We shoot at Israelis and they leave; so let's keep doing it.
  • In its introduction, the UCC, knowing full well that Israel has not occupied Gaza since 2005, still speaks of "the Israeli military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories: the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza."
  • The UCC Guide states flatly that "Israeli settlements in the West Bank are identified as illegal by the international community" -- even though international law says exactly the opposite. The West Bank and Gaza were both occupied as a result of a defensive war against Egypt and Jordan in 1967, in which the Israelis were victorious. It is never illegal to occupy territory obtained in defensive military action.
  • The Palestinians not only reject all offers of peace on that basis but go much farther and call every day for the abolition of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state covering Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank.
  • The UCC Guide states that "Israel has built hundreds of permanent and mobile military checkpoints throughout the West Bank." This, again, is pure fantasy. In 2015, there were no more than fifteen checkpoints across the West Bank. These checkpoints are not there to target innocent Palestinians. They are there to restrain terrorists from setting out to kill innocent Israelis. The only people to criticize the checkpoints across Northern Ireland during the many years of terrorism there were supporters of the Provisional IRA, who apparently did not like being obstructed from killing people.
  • The UCC boasts that it is "a just peace church", but instead of supporting peace and justice, it defends mass murderers. It complains about the defensive actions of the Jews and is knowingly silent about the horrors wrought by Palestinian wars and terrorism. It treats Palestinian actions as mere responses to Israeli aggression -- a total reversal of historical fact.
  • Is the UCC unaware that Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is far from being a feel-good interfaith movement for peace and warm relations? It is, in fact, notorious for its close ties to Islamic terrorism. Even ten years ago, its true character was well known. Has no-one in the UCC the wit or decency to repudiate this unsuitable connection? Or to raise the fact that many Muslims across the Middle East have been killing, expelling, and humiliating Christians for a very long time, but especially in recent decades? Will they not admit that the expanding exodus of Christians from the West Bank and Gaza has been precipitated by extremist Muslims and the Palestinian authorities? That under the Palestinian Authority since 1995, the number of Christians has plummeted?
  • The UCC cannot continue to assert its association with Jesus Christ, a man of peace, when they so openly espouse the cause of Palestinian "resistance" that embraces violence as a solution above any form of peace-making. Christ said "Blessed be the peace-makers," yet here is a Christian church that blesses men of violence.
The United Church of Christ (UCC) is a shrinking Christian denomination mainly active in the United States, and "perhaps the most liberal of the Mainline Protestant American denominations." With just under a million members and 5,000 churches (down from two million members and 7,000 churches in 1957, when it was founded), it still has prominent congregations in the heartland of the American Congregationalist movements, in states such as Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

Although the UCC's membership has included many major U.S. governors, senators, members of the Supreme Court such as William H. Rehnquist; some outstanding theologians such as H. Richard Niebuhr, his older brother Reinhold, and Paul Tillich; and several writers, and academics, it is, however, best known today as the church that U.S. President Barack Obama attended for twenty years between 1988 and 2008. For all those years, it was his spiritual home: "Trinity was where I found Jesus Christ, where we were married, where our children were baptized." He attended Trinity UCC in Chicago, with the largest of the denomination's congregations, some 10,000 members. Trinity UCC is a black or "Afrocentric" church that bases itself on the pursuit of love and justice. Its black congregation stands out as different from the wider UCC's mainly white membership.
Obama's "close spiritual advisor" in the church was none other than its senior pastor, Jeremiah Alvesta Wright Jr., who served as pastor there from 1972 to 2008.

Wright was not merely a radical, but apparently believed and "preached anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, advocated bizarre pseudo-scientific racial ideas, opposed interracial marriage, praised communist dictatorships, denounced black 'assimilation' ... and really believed that HIV/AIDS was created by the American government to kill black people."
As if this were not enough, Wright harboured deep anti-American beliefs:
In a sermon last September 16 marking the 10th anniversary of 9/11 entitled, "The Day of Jerusalem's Fall," Wright seemed to celebrate white America's comeuppance. ... "We supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black south Africans and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards."
It is clear that Jeremiah Wright has a strange understanding of love and justice. And it is also disconcerting that Barack Obama spent twenty years attending his sermons and called him a close spiritual mentor. But perhaps Trinity Church and Pastor Wright are aberrations in the belief and practice of the United Church of Christ as a whole. It could well be that other churches within the denomination are milder in their views and affiliations. But on one topic, there is clear unanimity between Wright and the wider church. That topic is the Palestinians and Israel. It is there in the above-quoted statement by Wright: "We supported state terrorism against the Palestinians..."
It is even more evident in a speech given by Wright in 2015, in which he declared without blushing that "Jesus was a Palestinian," and compared young black men and women in Ferguson with the young men and women in "Palestine." This and other statements were delivered at a Nation of Islam event in Washington D.C. Speaking of the Black Lives Matter movement, Wright said:
"The same issue is being fought today and has been fought since 1948, and historians are carried back to the 19th century ... when the original people, the Palestinians -- and please remember, Jesus was a Palestinian -- the Palestinian people had the Europeans come and take their country."
The speech was, in short, a farrago of ahistorical nonsense. He said further, citing the modish notion of intersectionality:
"The youth in Ferguson and the youth in Palestine have united together to remind us that the dots need to be connected. And what Dr. King said, injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, has implications for us as we stand beside our Palestinian brothers and sisters, who have been done one of the most egregious injustices in the 20th and 21st centuries."
Really? More egregious than Cambodia or Maoist China or the Holocaust or Stalinist Russia?
He then went on to condemn Israel as an "apartheid state", and repeated one of the most ubiquitous lies in modern history:
"As we sit here, there is an apartheid wall being built twice the size of the Berlin Wall in height, keeping Palestinians off of illegally occupied territories, where the Europeans have claimed that land as their own. Palestinians are saying 'Palestinian lives matter.' We stand with you, we support you, we say God bless you."
It is hardly a secret that Barack Obama hates Israel; it takes a small leap of imagination to attribute that hatred in large part to the sermons of Jeremiah Wright. There can be little doubt that at least some of Obama's anti-Israeli stance derives from his close relations with the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam and his earlier experience, as a half-Muslim child in Indonesia.
It appears that "Obama was 'part of the Chicago scene' where Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. and radicals would go to each other's events and support each other's causes." Here again, the question arises: was this anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel current simply a part of black Chicago radicalism or did it pervade the UCC as a whole?
The answer is to be found in two overwhelming votes passed on "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions" (BDS) and "Israel-apartheid" resolutions by the UCC on June 30, 2015. According to the New York Times:
"Approval came at the church's general synod in Cleveland, where delegates voted 508 to 124 in favor of divestment and boycott, with 38 abstentions. It was one of two resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict debated by the church, which has about one million members and more than 5,000 congregations nationwide."
A second resolution, condemning Israel as an "apartheid" state, received fewer votes (51.4%) and did not pass, but its presence at the synod said a great deal.
Following this vote in 2015, an organization affiliated to the UCC, the UCC Palestine Israel Network (UCCPIN) published a guide to Israel-Palestine affairs in August and again in September 2016. Titled "Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel", and sub-headed "A Guide for United Church of Christ Faith Leaders", this toxic document is a desperately one-sided, inaccurate, and counter-factual exercise in futile politics. Legally, UCCPIN operates under the aegis of one of the denomination's local conferences. Their guide is, therefore, not the direct work of the church's leadership, but is clearly endorsed by a section of it.
The Guide most certainly does not favour justice or peace in the Holy Land, as its contents show on every page. Some delegates opposed to the resolution identified its one-sidedness. Joanne Marchetto, of the Penn-Northeast Conference of the UCC, said she was "uncomfortable with how this resolution is presented... This is a great injustice to the land, and I think we need to hear both sides of the argument." But the guide produced by the church rejects any call to hear more than the Palestinian narrative and anti-Israel arguments. At the end, it has a four-page list of resources, books, DVDs, websites, a reading list, educational material, alternative travel organizations, and films. Not one of the many items on this list is remotely pro-Israel. All are hardline pro-Palestine activist materials and links. The UCC guide does not pay even lip service to the notion of fairness, dual narratives, or a need for mutual understanding. The pro-peace Jewish/Israeli voice is silenced while Palestinian hate speech, genocidal threats, and endless terrorism do not come in for criticism at any moment.

It is worth looking at some of the arguments advanced in the guide, and where better to start than the Introduction (p.2), which opens with a reference to the 2009 Kairos Palestine document. This prefaces everything else because part of the resolution at the 30th synod was that church members must study the document as a basis for their understanding of the Middle East and the actions that must follow.
There is no room here to describe Kairos in detail, but readers can find full commentary here and here. Perhaps it is enough to say that the Central Conference of American Rabbis has described it as "supersessionist" and "anti-Semitic". Supersessionism is a modern revival of the older Christian claim that God has replaced the Jews with Christians, who are now his favoured people. It permits the introduction of overt anti-Semitism into Christian doctrine and action, for all that it is no longer a mainstream position within Christian churches, except, sadly, in Sweden. 

The Kairos Palestine document was put together by Christian Palestinians who adopted the Muslim narrative about Palestinians as innocent victims of Jewish aggression. It is mendacious about which of the two sides is responsible for the violence that has accompanied the creation and maintenance of a Jewish state. Here is just one example of this distortion: "The Palestinian people... also engaged in peaceful struggle, especially during the first intifada."

The words "peaceful struggle" surely stick in one's throat. During the first four years of the intifada, more than 3,600 Molotov cocktail attacks, 100 hand-grenade attacks and 600 assaults with guns or explosives were reported by the Israel Defense Forces. The violence was directed at civilians and soldiers alike. During this period, 16 Israeli civilians and 11 soldiers were killed by Palestinians in the territories; more than 1,400 Israeli civilians and 1,700 Israeli soldiers were injured. Approximately 1,100 Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops. And Palestinians were indeed stabbed, hacked with axes, shot, clubbed and burned with acid -- not by Israelis but by Palestinian death squads.

One of the authors of the Kairos document was Theodosias Atallah Hanna, the Archbishop of Sebastia from the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem and a former spokesman of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem and the Holy Land. He called for the creation of an Islamic-Christian union that would foil the "American offensive" against Iraq and "release Palestine from the river to the sea" (which would entail the elimination of Israel).

"The suicide bombers who carry out their activities in the name of religion are national heroes and we're proud of them," Hanna has allegedly said, according to the ASSIST News Service. He also said, in a speech in Dubai, "Some freedom fighters adopt martyrdom or suicide bombing, while others opt for other measures. But all these struggles serve the continued intifada for freedom. Therefore, we support all these causes."

The UCC, moreover, has gone out of its way to ally itself with Muslims and to attack Jews, so their unwillingness to condemn Hanna and other authors of the Kairos document lends a further air of one-sidedness to their position. This one-sidedness is made abundantly clear:
1.4 In the face of this reality, Israel justifies its actions as self-defence, including occupation, collective punishment and all other forms of reprisals against the Palestinians. In our opinion, this vision is a reversal of reality. Yes, there is Palestinian resistance to the occupation. However, if there were no occupation, there would be no resistance, no fear and no insecurity. This is our understanding of the situation. Therefore, we call on the Israelis to end the occupation. Then they will see a new world in which there is no fear, no threat but rather security, justice and peace.
Oh? As when the Israelis left the Gaza Strip in 2005? Unfortunately, the Palestinians have a history of regarding every retreat by Israel as a triumph of aggression over diplomacy, as if to say: We shoot at Israelis and they leave; so let's keep doing it.
It is all, then, still the fault of Israel, yet a Christian church in the United States endorses such a document while claiming to promote a "just" peace. The rest of the document follows suit. There is no room in it for a Jewish, Israeli or moderate Christian voice, just hatred of Israel and defence of the Palestinians who have turned down generous offers of peace time and again.

The naïvety of the UCC is particularly striking in its choice to take at face value the Palestinian statement that if Israel ended its occupation, peace would follow as day follows night. That is simply bunkum. When, after 1949, Gaza was occupied by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan, no one protested, no one attacked Egyptians or Jordanians. In other words, Israel occupied only itself. But Palestinian terrorism against Israelis continued up to 1967, right through the period of Israeli non-occupation. There were no "settlements" then. Rather, the Palestinians have always regarded all of Israel as one big "settlement." Just look at any Palestinian maps; they cover both the entirety of Israel and the Palestinian territories.
That naivety is further underscored by the fact that Israel pulled its troops and civilians out of Gaza between 1994 and 2005, yet "resistance" by Gazan terrorists under the radical Islamic movement Hamas grew fiercer than before, resulting in ongoing rocket attacks on Israeli towns and three major wars in 2008-9, 2012, and 2014. In its Introduction, the UCC, knowing full well that Israel has not occupied Gaza since 2005, still speaks of "the Israeli military occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories: the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza." It is wholly black and white, without even recognition of the control of most of the West Bank by the Palestinian Authority after the Oslo Accords. What, may one ask, is the point of entering into a complex political debate if one side refuses to admit the true facts of the situation?

Another gratuitous piece of misinformation occurs on page 3 of the UCC Guide, which claims that Israeli settlements in the West Bank "violate the Fourth Geneva Convention." Any expert in international law could have told the authors that this is false. Article 49 of the Geneva Convention addresses the forced deportation or transfer of an occupier's population into a conquered territory, as happened under the Nazis. (For finer details see here and here.) The Israeli settlers remain in the West Bank without coercion, based on the fact that the San Remo Treaty of 1920, the Treaty of Sèvres (which ratified the 1917 Balfour Declaration), the Covenant of the League of Nations's Article 22, and the League of Nations's Palestine Mandate all provide for the broad settlement of Jews across the Mandate territory. The Fourth Geneva Convention quite simply does not apply.
The UCC Guide states flatly that "Israeli settlements in the West Bank are identified as illegal by the international community" -- even though international law says exactly the opposite. The West Bank and Gaza were both occupied as a result of a defensive war against Egypt and Jordan in 1967, in which the Israelis were victorious. It is never illegal to occupy territory obtained in defensive military action. The legality of the occupation is confirmed in UN Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973), to which the Palestinians and their supporters have never paid heed.

Resolution 242 was deliberately phrased -- "territories" rather than "the territories" -- to show that Israel should not leave all the West Bank and did not have to move its military forces out until the Palestinians agreed to a lasting peace based on secure borders for the Jewish state. The Palestinians not only reject all offers of peace on that basis but go much farther and call every day for the abolition of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state covering Gaza, Israel, and the West Bank.
On that same page, the UCC Guide condemns what it describes as the "Separation Wall," pretending that Israel's 450-mile security barrier is made of concrete. In fact, only 10% of the barrier is a wall; 90% is made of fencing, ditches and other impediments to terror attacks. This gross exaggeration of simple on-the-ground facts further exposes the UCC as dishonest. And more than dishonest, for the UCC Guide offers no reason why the fence was erected in the first place: to prevent incursions into Israel by suicide bombers and other terrorists intent on taking human life. The barrier has, in fact, been immensely successful, cutting thousands of Israeli deaths down to near zero. Ignoring these facts in order to promote a false understanding of the barrier and its purpose cannot remotely serve the interests of justice.

The promotion of lies magnifies a growing sense that the UCC does not care about human life. Palestinian lives, yes (and there is nothing wrong with that); but clearly, Jewish lives and Jewish efforts to preserve life are of little or no concern. Worse, the church does not seem to know or care that Arab Israelis (including Christians) are almost as likely as Jews to die in a suicide bombing or a bomb on board a bus.
On page 4, the UCC Guide states that "Israel has built hundreds of permanent and mobile military checkpoints throughout the West Bank." This, again, is pure fantasy. In 2015, there were no more than fifteen checkpoints across the West Bank. You do not have to be a mathematician to work out the difference between that figure and "hundreds." There were several hundred checkpoints some years ago, but the Israeli security services have done their utmost to reduce that number conspicuously since then. Writing in 2013, the Israel Defense Forces stated that,
Today, there are nearly 40 crossings between Judea and Samaria and other parts of Israel. Some are used for the passage of people; others are used for the passage of goods. In addition to these crossings, 13 checkpoints are placed strategically throughout Israel's Central Command region, and operate in time of need and in light of security considerations.
They also clarified that,
"Crossings" and "checkpoints" are terms with different meanings. Crossings are facilities used by Palestinians to enter from Judea and Samaria into other regions of Israel. Checkpoints, on the other hand, operate during times of heightened security to prevent terrorists from carrying out their plans to harm civilians.
Checkpoints have been used as a method to filter out and prevent terror attacks before would-be Palestinian attackers have a chance to enter Israel. As a result of such insidious methods as female suicide bombers hiding explosives under their clothing and the use of ambulances to conceal and transport terrorist weapons, routine checks have been intensified at all types of crossings.

It may well be true, as the UCC Guide states, that these checkpoints cause inconvenience to innocent Palestinians. That is unfortunate and wholly undesirable for an Israeli government fighting international opprobrium. But the checkpoints are not there to target innocent Palestinians. They are there to restrain terrorists from setting out to kill innocent Israelis. The only people to criticize the checkpoints across Northern Ireland during the many years of terrorism there were supporters of the Provisional IRA. This author used to go through those checkpoints when visiting the province over that period, and never heard anyone grumbling: everyone knew they were there to save our lives from bombers and gunmen.
The above reference to "female suicide bombers hiding explosives under their clothing" was prompted by a particularly disturbing example of one young woman from Gaza, Wafa Samir al-Biss. Her story personifies the deep dehumanization of Jews by Palestinian terrorists and those multitudes who praise and honour them. In late 2004, Ms Biss was badly burned in a kitchen fire and was taken quickly to an Israeli hospital, Soroka, in Beersheba. There, she was treated by Jewish and Muslim doctors and nurses for a few months. Allowed to go home, she was given a pass to return to the hospital for further treatment as an outpatient. Six months later, she arrived at the Erez crossing, where a quick-witted guard noticed she was walking awkwardly. Forced to remove her outer clothing, it was revealed that she was carrying a 22-pound bomb strapped to one leg. When questioned, she said the bomb had been given to her by the Abu Rish Brigade, a faction of Fatah, and stated:
"My dream was to be a martyr. I believe in death. Today I wanted to blow myself up in a hospital, maybe even in the one in which I was treated. But since lots of Arabs come to be treated there, I decided I would go to another, maybe the Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv. I wanted to kill 20, 50 Jews ..."
Yet the UCC wants to see crossings and checkpoints removed because they inconvenience Palestinians -- Palestinians like Wafa al-Biss and members of the Abu Rish Brigade; Palestinians like the thousands of bombers, knife-wielders, machete carriers, gunmen and others who have tried and, all too often, succeeded in slipping through checkpoints to kill innocent men, women and children; killers whom Hamas and the Palestinian Authority honour as heroes and heroines, martyrs and prisoners who slaughter in support of the fantasy that their deeds will advance the cause of a better life for the Palestinian people.

As the Palestinian media, mosque sermons, and political speeches remind the world daily, the long-term aim of the Palestinian authorities is to carry out genocide against the Jews whom they falsely allege have "stolen" their land (UCC Guide, p.4), and to destroy an open, pluralistic, democratic state.
The UCC boasts that it is "a just peace church" (Guide, p. 6), but instead of supporting peace and justice, it defends mass murderers. It complains about the defensive actions of the Jews and is knowingly silent about the horrors wrought by Palestinian wars and terrorism. It treats Palestinian actions as mere responses to Israeli aggression -- a total reversal of historical fact. Is it even morally defensible to call the members of this church followers of a man known as "the Prince of Peace"?
There is a final irony here, and it makes matters worse. On the one hand, the UCC shows itself to be profoundly anti-Semitic. Not only do they hold a supersessionist view of Jews and Judaism, but their startling double standards towards Israel fall afoul of the international definition of anti-Semitism in the modern age -- and at a time when a new anti-Semitism is rising rapidly in Europe and elsewhere.
On the other hand, the UCC loves Muslims and goes out of its way to support them. Of course, there is nothing wrong with befriending others or supporting them when they are subjected to discrimination. Several of the church's online pages make a point of this (for example here, here and here). A report from June 8, 2016 informs us:
This interfaith Ramadan campaign, a celebration of solidarity, is the result of a partnership between representatives from the Northwest Chapter of the Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Church of Christ, and denominational leaders. UCC churches, to honor Muslim neighbors' Ramadan commitments, have been invited to do three simple things during this holy month:
1) Hang a banner or change their message boards in a way that honors our Muslim neighbors.
2) Take time to make an appointment to visit a local mosque or Islamic center to bring greetings from their local congregation.
3) Consider hosting an event to learn more about Islam and make a special effort to speak up against anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Is the UCC unaware that Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) is far from being a feel-good interfaith movement for peace and warm relations? It is, in fact, notorious for its close ties to Islamic terrorism. Even ten years ago, its true character was well known:
There is another side to CAIR that has alarmed many people in positions to know. The Department of Homeland Security refuses to deal with it. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) describes it as an organization "which we know has ties to terrorism." Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) observes that CAIR is "unusual in its extreme rhetoric and its associations with groups that are suspect." Steven Pomerantz, the FBI's former chief of counterterrorism, notes that "CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups." The family of John P. O'Neill, Sr., the former FBI counterterrorism chief who perished at the World Trade Center, named CAIR in a lawsuit as having "been part of the criminal conspiracy of radical Islamic terrorism" responsible for the September 11 atrocities. Counterterrorism expert Steven Emerson calls it "a radical fundamentalist front group for Hamas."
It is worth pausing here to point out that Hamas is, in fact, the leading terror organization fighting Israel today. Its 1988 Charter, the Mithaq, is a testament to jihadi intransigence, the absolute opposite of peacemaking. It calls for the slaughter of all Jews in the world, and declares:
"Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement... "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
Has no-one in the UCC the wit or decency to repudiate this unsuitable connection? Or, in their wider dealings with Islamic groups, to raise the fact that many Muslims across the Middle East have been killing, expelling, and humiliating Christians for a very long time, but especially in recent decades? Will they not admit that the expanding exodus of Christians from the West Bank and Gaza has been precipitated by extremist Muslims and the Palestinian authorities? That under the Palestinian Authority since 1995, the number of Christians has plummeted? Palestinian gunmen seized Christian homes -- compelling Israel to build a protective barrier between them and Jewish neighbourhoods -- and then occupied the Church of the Nativity, looted it and used it as a latrine.
In Bethlehem today, Christians comprise a mere one-fifth of their holy city's population. In Gaza, most Christians have fled in fear of attacks from Hamas gunmen. If there was ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Christians, it was under Muslim rule: two-thirds of Christian Arabs left the areas between 1949 and 1967, the period when Jordan occupied and annexed the West Bank, and Egypt controlled Gaza -- years before Israel governed those areas.
Building bridges between faith communities is commendable for any church; but to do so in such an uncritical fashion, failing to raise authentic Christian concerns about Islamic persecution, exhibiting the worst possible naïvety about Islamic radicalism and terrorism, and turning with such vehemence against the Jewish world passes far beyond a decent and -- should we not say it? -- Christian expression of faith.
Mistakes and falsehoods such as those we encounter throughout the UCC's misnamed guide to "Promoting a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel," each one seemingly trivial, cannot be dismissed as the results of a moment's inattention. Much effort has gone into the writing of this Guide, and factual errors, which take up so much of the text, must to a large extent be conscious. But there can be no excuse for this degree of carelessness in such an important document, given the number of lives that have been lost, are still being lost, and may well be lost in future in the course of this unending conflict.
If a body of Christians really cares about Palestinian lives, Muslim and Christian alike, not to mention the lives of Israeli children, the lives of everyone on either side, then supporting an illegal and fanatical use of violence by telling lies and permitting distortions in order to incite an anti-Semitic hatred that will embolden and activate further terrorist attacks, is beyond measure a contradiction of normative Christian ethics.
The UCC cannot continue to assert its association with Jesus Christ, a man of peace, when they so openly espouse the cause of Palestinian "resistance" that embraces violence as a solution above any form of peace-making. Christ said "Blessed be the peace-makers," yet here is a Christian church that blesses men of violence.
Dr. Denis MacEoin, an Irish and Britain citizen, is a scholar of Islam and an active supporter of the State of Israel. He serves as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.
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