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Finally, A Voice Of Sanity

At a time when the most egregious lies about Israel are being devoured eagerly by most of the world, here is a voice of reason. Former Spanish Prime Minister   José María Aznar, writing in The Times this week, said:


If Israel goes down, we all go down


By José María Aznar



For far too long now it has been unfashionable in Europe to speak up for Israel. In the wake of the recent incident on board a ship full of anti-Israeli activists in the Mediterranean, it is hard to think of a more unpopular cause to champion.

In an ideal world, the assault by Israeli commandos on the Mavi Marmara would not have ended up with nine dead and a score wounded. In an ideal world, the soldiers would have been peacefully welcomed on to the ship.

In an ideal world, no state, let alone a recent ally of Israel such as Turkey, would have sponsored and organised a flotilla whose sole purpose was to create an impossible situation for Israel: making it choose between giving up its security policy and the naval blockade, or risking the wrath of the world.


In our dealings with Israel, we must blow away the red mists of anger that too often cloud our judgment. A reasonable and balanced approach should encapsulate the following realities: first, the state of Israel was created by a decision of the UN.

Its legitimacy, therefore, should not be in question. Israel is a nation with deeply rooted democratic institutions. It is a dynamic and open society that has repeatedly excelled in culture, science and technology.


Second, owing to its roots, history, and values, Israel is a fully fledged Western nation. Indeed, it is a normal Western nation, but one confronted by abnormal circumstances.


Uniquely in the West, it is the only democracy whose very existence has been questioned since its inception. In the first instance, it was attacked by its neighbours using the conventional weapons of war. Then it faced terrorism culminating in wave after wave of suicide attacks. Now, at the behest of radical Islamists and their sympathisers, it faces a campaign of delegitimisation through international law and diplomacy.


Sixty-two years after its creation, Israel is still fighting for its very survival. Punished with missiles raining from north and south, threatened with destruction by an Iran aiming to acquire nuclear weapons and pressed upon by friend and foe, Israel, it seems, is never to have a moment’s peace.


For years, the focus of Western attention has understandably been on the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. But if Israel is in danger today and the whole region is slipping towards a worryingly problematic future, it is not due to the lack of understanding between the parties on how to solve this conflict. The parameters of any prospective peace agreement are clear, however difficult it may seem for the two sides to make the final push for a settlement.


The real threats to regional stability, however, are to be found in the rise of a radical Islamism which sees Israel’s destruction as the fulfilment of its religious destiny and, simultaneously in the case of Iran, as an expression of its ambitions for regional hegemony. Both phenomena are threats that affect not only Israel, but also the wider West and the world at large.


The core of the problem lies in the ambiguous and often erroneous manner in which too many Western countries are now reacting to this situation. It is easy to blame Israel for all the evils in the Middle East.

Some even act and talk as if a new understanding with the Muslim world could be achieved if only we were prepared to sacrifice the Jewish state on the altar. This would be folly.


Israel is our first line of defence in a turbulent region that is constantly at risk of descending into chaos; a region vital to our energy security owing to our overdependence on Middle Eastern oil; a region that forms the front line in the fight against extremism. If Israel goes down, we all go down.

To defend Israel’s right to exist in peace, within secure borders, requires a degree of moral and strategic clarity that too often seems to have disappeared in Europe. The United States shows worrying signs of heading in the same direction.


The West is going through a period of confusion over the shape of the world’s future. To a great extent, this confusion is caused by a kind of masochistic self-doubt over our own identity; by the rule of political correctness; by a multiculturalism that forces us to our knees before others; and by a secularism which, irony of ironies, blinds us even when we are confronted by jihadis promoting the most fanatical incarnation of their faith.

To abandon Israel to its fate, at this moment of all moments, would merely serve to illustrate how far we have sunk and how inexorable our decline now appears.


This cannot be allowed to happen. Motivated by the need to rebuild our own Western values, expressing deep concern about the wave of aggression against Israel, and mindful that Israel’s strength is our strength and Israel’s weakness is our weakness, I have decided to promote a new Friends of Israel initiative with the help of some prominent people, including David Trimble, Andrew Roberts, John Bolton, Alejandro Toledo (the former President of Peru), Marcello Pera (philosopher and former President of the Italian Senate), Fiamma Nirenstein (the Italian author and politician), the financier Robert Agostinelli and the Catholic intellectual George Weigel.


It is not our intention to defend any specific policy or any particular Israeli government. The sponsors of this initiative are certain to disagree at times with decisions taken by Jerusalem. We are democrats, and we believe in diversity.


What binds us, however, is our unyielding support for Israel’s right to exist and to defend itself. For Western countries to side with those who question Israel’s legitimacy, for them to play games in international bodies with Israel’s vital security issues, for them to appease those who oppose Western values rather than robustly to stand up in defence of those values, is not only a grave moral mistake, but a strategic error of the first magnitude.


Israel is a fundamental part of the West. The West is what it is thanks to its Judeo-Christian roots. If the Jewish element of those roots is upturned and Israel is lost, then we are lost too. Whether we like it or not, our fate is inextricably intertwined.


José María Aznar was prime minister of Spain between 1996 and 2004.

Obama: Can We Help Fund Hamas? Yes We Can!


A question for Americans: would you want a single dollar to get into the hands of Hamas? No?

Then brace yourselves.

Because if changes in American law are pushed through, financial aid will be sent to a unified Palestinian government – even if Hamas officials are part of that government.

Let’s recap. Despite attempts by the liberal media to rebrand Hamas as doe-eyed ‘resistance fighters’, Hamas is a terrorist organisation. Here’s a whopping big clue to the truth of that statement: Hamas was spawned by the radical Muslim Brotherhood. And so was Al Queda.

Check out the Hamas Charter.  It openly rejects any form of peace negotiations and blames Jews every war ever fought. Indeed, the Charter is one long rant about Jews. Oh, and Rotary Clubs. Both of which, according to Hamas, are responsible for all the world’s ills.

Oh, and we’re all familiar with the numerous videos of Hamas leaders and followers declaring their desire to ‘drink jewish blood’, right?

Hamas has always refused to recognise the right of Israel to exist. It won’t acknowledge any Jewish presence in the Middle East, period.

And no matter how hard Israel has tried to broker a peace, Hamas has remained resolute. Indeed, the group has been extremely busy for the past six years, bombarding southern Israel with missiles.

And let’s not overlook the countless suicide bombings – you know, the ones steadfastly ignored mentioned in the mainstream media.

Thus the notion of financial aid ending up in Hamas hands is pretty terrifying, frankly.

Bush would never have entertained it. But apparently Obama’s response to the question of whether America can, ethically, give funds to Hamas is ‘Yes We Can!’.

“The administration’s proposal is akin to agreeing to support a government that “only has a few Nazis in it,” Rep. Mark Steven Kirk told Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a House hearing last week.

The Democrats have discussed the changes to the law governing funding to Gaza this month, as part of an $83.4-billion emergency spending bill that also contains funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill also would provide $840 million for the Palestinian Authority and for rebuilding in Gaza, following Israel’s Operation Cast Lead earlier this year.

American officials stress that the new proposal doesn’t amount to recognizing or helping Hamas. Under law, any U.S. aid would require that the Palestinian government meet three criteria: recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements. Hamas does not meet those criteria.


But if rival groups Fatah and Hamas achieve a power-sharing deal, Obama wants to provide aid as long as the Hamas-backed members of the government — if not Hamas itself — meet the three criteria.

Clinton defended the administration’s position last week before Congress. She said that the United States supports and funds the Lebanese government, even though it includes members of Hezbollah, another terrorist group.

She also proposed that the United States should try to gradually change the attitudes of Hamas members, as it did with militants in Northern Ireland.

Yeah, good luck with that, Hilary. Anyone who has paid attention to what Hamas itself states is painfully aware that trying to ‘adjust’ Hamas attitudes would be like Chamberlain beseeching the Nazis to ‘just give Jews a chance’.

And the IRA analogy, so beloved by politicians and pundits alike, is invalid. The IRA did not seek the slaughter of an entire religion. Hamas openly does.

Besides which, both Hilary and Obama fail to grasp the vital point: Islamic law states that Muslims possess by right any land that once formed part of the House of Islam. Once Muslim, always Muslim.

Hence the claim on Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It’s about religion – not land.

The war between Hamas and Israel is not just a localised issue. Nor does it have anything to do with the ‘palestinian problem’.

Rather, it is merely part of a global conflict between the free world – and Islam. The Jihad against Israel is the exact same Jihad being waged against America and Europe.

What will it take for Obama, and indeed the world, to get this?

One shudders to imagine.

Ilan Halimi: Anti Semitism Was The Motive

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This is a follow up post to the previous one on the tragic death of Ilan Halimi at the hands of a Muslim mob. Apparently in France, the media and police tried desperately hard to hide details which revealed that anti semitism was the motive behind the murder – not, as police tried to claim, financial gain.


We have to place this horrendous murder in the context of sharply rising anti semitism within France over recent years. Indeed, hundreds of Jews have already left France precisely because of this problem.


Here are more details on the Ilan Halimi case and the motive underlying it:


Nidra Poller in The Wall Street Journal

PARIS — The police suspect the group was involved in other kidnapping attempts in the last two months that used young women as bait. Several of the targeted men worked, as Ilan did, in the small cell phone shops along Boulevard Voltaire in the mixed 11th arrondissement of Paris.


In another case, a suspicious father replaced his son for a meeting with a girl who claimed to be a singer, and fell into the hands of masked men who tried to capture him but ran away when someone called the police.


Throughout Ilan’s disappearance, the police handled his case as a straightforward kidnap for ransom. The discovery of his body, bearing signs of barbaric torture over an extended period of time, raised serious doubts about this hypothesis.


Later, a policeman admitted to the press that he and his colleagues were baffled by the gang’s erratic behavior. Ransom demands went up to €400,000, dropped to €100,000 one day, €5,000 another. The kidnappers called off several pickup arrangements, acting like amateurs, but were highly sophisticated in using untraceable emails and cell phones.


* * *

Yet one detail was consistently played down by the investigators and missing from the early media reporting on the killing. The victim, whose full name is Ilan Halimi, was Jewish. Most of the men targeted in other kidnapping attempts were Jewish.


Most members of the gang who allegedly carried out the crime are Muslims, whose families come from the Maghreb or sub-Saharan Africa and live in the very sort of neighborhoods that went up in flames during three weeks of nationwide rioting last fall.


Jewish community leaders like Roger Cukierman, president of the Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France, an umbrella group for the country’s 600,000 Jews, cautioned against hasty conclusions and unreasonable panic. But French Jews have become sensitive to a well-documented rise in violent Muslim anti-Semitism over the past five years and saw anti-Semitism as the missing link in this senseless crime.


After all, Ilan’s family is simple and modest. Ruth Halimi, works as a receptionist. Why else, people are asking, would Ilan be tortured so cruelly for so long? No other motive, aside from sheer hatred, is apparent.


After Ilan was found on Feb. 13, the pieces started to fall into place quickly. When the police put out a sketch of a blond woman who had tried to bait other young men in similar circumstances as Ilan Halimi’s, Audrey Lorleach turned herself in. She led police to a housing project in Bagneux, a suburb in Hauts-de-Seine.


Fifteen suspects in the Halimi murder, who call their gang the “Barbarians,” were brought into custody. Youssouf Fofana, who refers to himself (in English) as the “Brain of the Barbarians,” is the apparent ringleader.


Ilan was held prisoner and abused in an apartment and later a utility room in the cellar in one of the project buildings. Both were lent to the gang by the concierge, who is also now in custody. Some in the gang were known delinquents. Mr. Fofana, who is 26, had served time for armed robbery. But another member was in on-the-job training in the IT service of a French TV station.


In initial statements to the press, Public Prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin and various police officials stuck to their hypothesis that money was the motive for the crime, not anti-Semitism.


They noted that Ilan Halimi had been tortured as if the gang were following “a known scenario.” Photos of Ilan, naked, with a sack on his head and a gun pointed at his temple were emailed to family members suggesting, according to the police, “scenes of torture at Abu Ghraib. As it turns out, the beheading of Daniel Pearl or Iraqi snuff films are the better comparison.


An anonymous police detective quoted in Monday’s edition of Libération said: “It’s simply that, for those criminals, Jew equals money.”


Later that same day, investigating magistrate Corinne Goetzmann detained seven of the suspects on charges of kidnapping, sequestration, torture, acts of barbarism and premeditated murder in an organized gang.


They will also be charged with targeting the victim on the basis of his religion, French for hate crime, which carries a stiffer penalty. Justice Minister Pascal Clément explained that the charge of anti-Semitism was based on the fact that one of the suspects had declared to the judge that they picked a Jew because Jews are ‘supposed to be rich.’


But, according to reports in the French press, some of the suspects in police custody said that they tortured Ilan with particular cruelty simply because he was Jewish.


No longer able to deny or play down the racial motive, the investigation is entering a new phase. One of the most troubling aspects of this affair is the probable involvement of relatives and neighbors, beyond the immediate circle of the gang, who were told about the Jewish hostage and dropped in to participate in the torture.


Ilan’s uncle Rafi Halimi told reporters that the gang phoned the family on several occasions and made them listen to the recitation of verses from the Quran, while Ilan’s tortured screams could be heard in the background.


The family has publicly criticized the police for deliberately ignoring the explicit anti-Semitic motives, which were repeatedly expressed and should have dictated an entirely different approach to the case from the start. Police searches have now revealed the presence of Islamist literature in the home of at least one of the gang members.


* * *

The highest echelons of the French government are now preoccupied with the murder of Ilan Halimi. Paris is well aware that the case threatens France’s international reputation, but far more than that is at stake. Once again, as in the suburban riots of 2005, the country is forced to come face to face with the criminalized, alienated and racist Muslim youth and their adult enablers in its midst.


Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin declared, in a long speech delivered at the annual dinner of the CRIF, that this heinous crime was anti-Semitic, and that anti-Semitism is not acceptable in France.


The murder of Ilan Halimi invites comparison with the November 2003 killing of a Jewish disc jockey, Sébastien Selam. His Muslim neighbor, Adel, slit his throat, nearly decapitating him, and gouged out his eyes with a carving fork in his building’s underground parking garage. Adel came upstairs with bloodied hands and told his mother, “I killed my Jew, I will go to paradise.”


In the two years before his murder, the Selam family was repeatedly harassed for being Jewish. The Selam case has not been re-opened by the magistrate. The murderer, who admits his guilt, was placed in a psychiatric hospital, and may be released soon.


The initial response to the kidnapping of Ilan Halimi suggested a comparably selective ignorance. But many things have changed in French society in the past two years. Then, faced with the new tide of anti-Semitism, the Jewish community was left alone with its distress and at times even accused of being justifiably targeted because of its support for Israel.


Today the government has apparently decided that the barbarous hatred unleashed against one Jewish man is a threat to all of France.


Ms. Poller is an American novelist living in Paris since 1972.

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