Saturday, January 17, 2009

Former Extremist Sees Hypocrisy in Gaza Debate

IPT News

A former Egyptian radical offers some strong words for those in the "Arab street" and westerners who have come out so strongly against Israel's attempt to neuter Hamas militarily. Tawfik Hamid challenges Israel's critics to be consistent:

"If it truly cared for Muslims' lives, it should have demonstrated in the same numbers and with equal vehemence against the Islamists who murder hundreds of thousands of their fellow Muslims, not to mention the Hamas slaughter of rival Fatah members - women and children included."
Hamid, author of Inside Jihad, an autobiographical account of his life in radical Islamist movements and his transition into a reformist, now lives in America and lectures on the extremist threat.

He might agree with some of the demonstrators that the conflict in Gaza is unnecessary. However, Hamid pins the blame on Hamas as the aggressor:

"If the Palestinians focused on building their society rather than destroying those of others, the whole region would enjoy peace and flourish. Should Palestinians recognize the right of Israel to exist, end terrorism against Jews and nurture a sincere desire to live in peace, they would end their suffering."

His column ran in the Jerusalem Post. Here's hoping U.S. outlets pick it up, too.

By IPT News | Fri, 16 Jan 2009 at 3:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Situational Outrage?

Amid all the shrill condemnation over its incursion into Gaza, Jerusalem Post Editor David Horovitz notices a surprising acceptance of the fact that Israel has bombed a number of mosques in Gaza in its campaign to defang Hamas.

The bombings have not been the target of a new wave of protests over the destruction of Muslim houses of worship. Horovitz guesses this is because it is accepted that Hamas desecrated them first by storing explosives in them and because "Islamists know they've been found out."

One bombed mosque was named for Ibrahim al-Maqadma, a Hamas founder and military chief killed by the Israeli military in 2003 in retaliation for a series of Hamas suicide bombings. "There has been no frenzied rush" to deny Israeli claims that the mosques are being used to store weapons and as Hamas command centers, Horovitz writes.

If people aren't going to blame Israel, he wonders why they aren't blaming Hamas for creating the situation:

"Imagine the intra-Jewish storm were a synagogue's sanctity to be compromised in any remotely comparable manner. So where are the Islamic leaders, in Gaza and beyond, bitterly castigating Hamas for its unholy disrespect? And where are the horrified rank and file worshipers?"

It's not the only violation of the rules of warfare by Hamas, he notes:

"Civilians are supposed to be off limits. So too, by extension, homes, schools and places of worship. Yet Hamas stores its ammunition and manufacturers its weaponry in precisely such places."

Hamas fighters are wearing street clothes to blend in with civilians and keeping children nearby as they launch missiles toward Israel, in hopes it will dissuade an Israeli response.

By IPT News | Tue, 13 Jan 2009 at 3:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
Seeking to Explain the "Tidal Wave of Indignation"

A terrorist group targets Israeli civilians with suicide bombings and rockets aimed at civilian centers and the world offers a collective yawn. But when Israel responds forcefully, seeking to neuter Hamas' ability to kill, "a tidal wave of indignation" results.

King's College professor Efraim Karsh wonders why this happens in this article for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Answering his own question, Karsh blames anti-Semitism.

It can't be simply a concern over civilian deaths, he argues. Conflicts in Darfur, Congo and Chechnya have led to exponentially greater civilian casualties, yet:

"None of these tragedies saw protesters flock into the streets of London, Paris, Berlin, Milan, Oslo, Dublin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Washington, and Fort Lauderdale (to give a brief list), as has been the case during the Gaza crisis."

He notes that no movement toward Palestinian statehood occurred in the 19 years Egypt and Jordan controlled the West Bank and Gaza and that some Arab regimes have treated Palestinians far worse than this. But Israeli action invariably sparks a reflexive outcry including "despicable comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa" that Karsh argues are rooted in anti-Jewish sentiment:

"Put differently, the Palestinians are but the latest lightning rod unleashed against the Jews, their supposed victimization reaffirming the millenarian demonization of the Jews in general, and the medieval blood libel - that Jews delight in the blood of others - in particular."

It's a provocative essay. Clearly it does not speak to all critics of the Israeli response, including those who express concern that the move could backfire and create more harm than good. But Karsh does have a point in his basic equation – terrorist actions draw light rebukes and a global shrug. Efforts to impede the terrorists' ability to act are treated as unforgivable forms of aggression.

By IPT News | Mon, 12 Jan 2009 at 5:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
British Brotherhood Company

The battle between Israel and Hamas in Gaza certainly is an emotional one for all sides. People are dying and, regardless of your view, that is a tragedy. But deference to such dire events is no excuse for letting advocates make outrageous claims without challenge.

The BBC should have figured this out by now, but it is drawing criticism for an appearance on an Arabic language program last week by Kamal El-Helbawy, a Muslim Brotherhood figure and founder of the Muslim Association of Britain. As the Telegraph reported, Helbawy said Israeli children were fair targets for attack because they are "future soldiers."

He also repeated a meme that Israeli children are taught math through examples involving the killing of Arabs:

"In elementary school they pose the following math problem - 'In your village, there are 100 Arabs. If you killed 40, how many Arabs would be left for you to kill?' This is taught in the Israeli curriculum."

Critics say Helbawy's words could incite attacks. "That goes in people's ears and spreads like wildfire and the listeners think it's OK to go and murder Israelis," Palestine Media Watch Director Itamar Marcus told the newspaper.

Helbawy calls himself a moderate. But he has a history of slurring Jews and Christians and advocating conflict. Officials barred him from coming to the U.S. in 2006.

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