-- Execution Iranian style (12/10/2002)
-- Father kills virgin daughter over false sex claims (09/08/2002)
-- Palestine during the "Golden Age of Islam" (12/05/2002)
-- The Silence of Moderate Muslims (12/05/2002)
-- The 'Settlements' Issue (12/12/2002)
By Julie Stahl
The 'Settlements' Issue
Thursday, December 12, 2002
© 2002 WorldNetDaily.com
Once again, we're hearing that awful word again in the context of the Middle East debate.
That's what the conflict is all about, we're being told. That's why the Arabs are mad at the Israelis. That's the root of the violence, the terrorism, the hatred.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer raised the ugly specter of "settlement" recently in a speech last week. Kurtzer, the former ambassador to Egypt and one of the architects of the failed peace process, once again blamed Israel as an obstacle to peace.
"Israeli settlement activity cripples chances for real peace," he said. He also underlined with emphasis and a pregnant pause this conclusion: "Settlement activity must stop."
What about these "settlements"? What are they? Why are they bad? Why should they be stopped?
I think most Americans and most non-Israelis draw certain mental pictures when they hear this term. I know I did before I began visiting "settlements" in Israel. I discovered they were not armed camps. They were not frontier outposts in alien territory. They were not fortresses built to grab more land for Jews. No. Much to my surprise, I found these "settlements" to be nothing more than communities – peaceful Jewish communities that don't interfere with nor abrogate anyone else's rights. They reminded me of suburban developments in Southern California more than threats to peace.
The word "settlement" itself is loaded. Who is a "settler" in the Mideast? According to the Arabs, only Jews are "settlers." But that simply is not the case.
Arafat himself was born in Egypt. He later moved to Jerusalem. If, at the moment, he is living in the West Bank, he is a "settler" there, not a native. Indeed, most of the Arabs living within the borders of Israel today have come from some other Arab country at some time in their life. They are all "settlers."
For instance, just since the beginning of the Oslo Accords, hundreds of thousands of Arabs have entered the West Bank or Gaza – and never left. They have come from Jordan, Egypt and, indirectly, from every other Arab country you can name – and many non-Arab countries as well. These surely aren't "Palestinians."
Since 1967, the Arabs have built 261 settlements in the West Bank. We don't hear much about those settlements. We hear instead about the number of Jewish settlements that have been created. We hear how destabilizing they are – how provocative they are. Yet, by comparison, only 144 Jewish settlements have been built since 1967 – including those surrounding Jerusalem, in the West Bank and in Gaza. Why is it that only Jewish construction is destabilizing?
The Arab "settlement" activity is not new. This has always been the case. Arabs have been flocking to Israel ever since it was created – and even before, coinciding with the wave of Jewish immigration into Palestine prior to 1948.
And that raises a question I never hear anyone ask: If Israel's policies make life so intolerable for Arabs, why do they continue to flock to the Jewish state? Why aren't they leaving in droves if conditions are as bad as they say?
The truth? There is more freedom under Israeli rule than there is in any Arab country. If you're a headstrong Arab, bent on protest, this is the place to be. Don't try throwing stones at Syrian police. You won't live long. Don't try publishing anti-kingdom newspapers in Saudi Arabia. You won't live long. Don't try fomenting revolutionary jihadism in Egypt. You won't live long.
So, sooner or later, those who are determined to protest, the professional agitators, the future Arafats of the Arab world all come to Israel. The Arab world is happy to be rid of them. This exodus serves two purposes – limiting the threat to Arab regimes and fanning the uniting flames of anti-Israel hatred. It's a population safety valve the totalitarian Arab world just loves.
Prior to 1900, the entire region was a barren wasteland with low populations of Jews, Muslims and Christians. No one had much interest in the Holy Land, as Mark Twain pointed out in his own travels to the area – until the Jews began to return.
Then the economic activity began. The jobs were created. The opportunities appeared. And then the Arabs came.
The "settlement" issue is a canard. It's a propaganda ploy to suggest that only Jews are newcomers to the region. The truth is there are lots of "settlers" and would-be "settlers" in the area – including Arafat and his friends.
By the way, under the Oslo
Accords, there are no restrictions whatsoever on Israeli construction in
Judea, Samaria and Gaza. None. Zip. Nada. Zilch. These "settlements" are
perfectly legal. And I, for one, can see no legitimate reason for them to
Horrors of Stoning
Captured on Film
The Silence of Moderate Muslims
December 5, 2002 By Bernard Kaykel
Many in the US have been baffled by the apparent silence of moderate Muslims since the events of September 11. Other than initial condemnations of the attacks by prominent Islamic scholars in the Middle East and in the West, many Muslims appear to have acquiesced in the hijacking of their religion by extremists like Osama bin Laden.
The moderates, that is those who reject on principle the use of indiscriminate violence to achieve political ends, have yet to level a systematic critique of the radicals in print or on air. There are some notable exceptions to this, namely such persons as Khaled Abou el-Fadl of UCLA who have been forthright in condemning radical Islam; but his voice, and those of others like him living in the West, has yet to echo in the Muslim world itself. Instead, many, perhaps the majority of Muslims have voiced scepticism and even denial about the involvement of their co-religionists in the attacks.
Over the summer, I travelled extensively throughout the Middle East and South Asia, visiting Islamic scholars, mosques, madresshas, bookstores and cassette shops as well as watching many news programmes and TV interviews on the numerous local and satellite TV stations. In bookstores, for instance, I found considerable material on Osama bin Laden, but most of it is either in praise of the man or situates him, and the events of 9/11, in some conspiratorial scheme hatched by the US military and "a secret force" within the US that is led by Jews.
The perception of the events of last September is nicely summed up by a Saudi employee of the Muslim World League who said to me: "In sum, the entire events of September 11, and all that has ensued therefrom has had but one aim: the weakening and destruction of Islam."
A few people I met expressed satisfaction at the damage inflicted on America as a result of the attacks and were unabashed in their open support for Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda movement. A Muslim jurist from Deoband in India, for example, went so far as to state that "should it be proved that Osama was the mastermind behind the attacks of September 11, he would not be punished under Islamic law since his actions were the result of an independent legal opinion issued by top jurists (ijtihad)." I also met Muslim moderates who invariably condemned the radicals for defaming Islam and stated that the latter did not represent the Islamic mainstream. Most moderates, however, demurred when I asked them whether they had openly aired or published their views. How does one account for their silence?
The immediate reason for this silence is that Al Qaeda, through its repeated attacks (the bombings of embassies in East Africa, the Cole in Aden and 9/11) along with the military reaction these have provoked from the United States, has been successful in instilling in the minds of Muslims that the US is the principal political enemy of the ummah, or the worldwide Muslim community. Moreover, this has been confirmed by the perception that the US extends unquestioned support to the policies of the government of Israel in the on-going Palestinian Intifada as well as the present talk of a US invasion of Iraq.
Muslims perceive themselves to be under direct military attack and on a number of fronts. An Indian Muslim scholar from Nadwat-ul-Ulema, the famous seminary in Lucknow, expressed this sentiment by stating that "a worldwide anti-Muslim alliance has been formed and is headed by the US. It runs in an arc from Hindu fundamentalist India, through China and Russia and ends with Europe and the US in the west. The effect is to encircle and choke the Islamic world."
Throughout my travels I noted a marked, and unprecedented, level of hatred not only for the policies of the United States but for many of the values it stands for. Confronted with a formidable foe, Muslims have chosen not to wash their dirty linen in public by engaging in mutual recriminations and polemical exchanges - mosque sermons, television and radio stations are more than ever insisting that Muslims remain steadfast and united against the common enemy; some clerics, mainly Shiite, are even advocating a consumer boycott of all goods manufactured by US-based companies.
Posters and fatwas (religious opinions) urging such a boycott were plastered all over West Beirut in July. For this reason, any criticism by Muslim moderates or others, such as the secular nationalists, of the radical viewpoint is depicted as betrayal of the cause of defending the ummah.
There are also historical reasons for the silence of Muslim moderates. Simply put, the moderates in the last half a century have been progressively relegated to the intellectual and political margins of Islamic society by a new breed of Islamic political activists - otherwise known as Salafi or Wahhabi.
The Salafis, of whom Osama bin Laden is one, are crude literalists in matters of religious interpretation and perceive most of the values of western modernity to be antithetical to Islam. Often they are not steeped in the traditional religious sciences, and they promote a simplistic and utopian vision of Islam, which they claim to be "authentic" and opposed to the western social and political values that threaten the Islamic order.
Salafis have risen to prominence since the early 1970s for a number of reasons:
1) Muslim states have throughout the twentieth century co-opted, mainly through government employment, moderate Islamic scholars. As a result these scholars have become the official mouthpieces of their respective governments, providing Islamic justification for whatever policies are adopted on a given issue. Some of the most important examples of this are the fatwas that the Mufti of Egypt has issued permitting peace with Israel; another relates to the permissibility of using contraceptive methods in family planning. The effect has been a serious loss of credibility for the moderates in the eyes of many Muslims.
2) The political and economic failure of the secular nationalist policies of most of the Arab states, combined with a strong-armed authoritarianism that has regularly brutalized ordinary citizens. In response to this, mosques have become the only centres of opposition to the regimes in power, and these have come to be dominated by a younger and more militant generation of Islamists, inspired by the Islamic revolution in Iran and the Mujahideen in Afghanistan.
3) Perhaps the most significant factor in the silencing of the moderates has been the accrual of vast sums of petro-dollars by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf sheikhdoms, all of whom have spent billions of dollars on the propagation of Salafi Islam, the tradition that has been dominant in central Arabia (a.k.a. Najd) since the mid-seventeenth century. By contrast, the traditional centres of Islamic education have been starved of funds and have consequently not been able to recruit or to educate a generation of dynamic scholars who might rise to the intellectual challenge posed by the Salafis and the authoritarian regimes that dominate the Muslim world.
While in India this past August, I noted that the Saudi government was still active in subsidizing the creation of schools that subscribe to their interpretation of Islam as well as providing scholarships to young students to study the religious sciences in the Kingdom's universities.
The influence of Saudi Arabia in altering the religious landscape of the Muslim world over the last three decades cannot be overstated. In Yemen, for example, Salafi proselytizing and funding has considerably undermined the traditional sects of Islam, the Zaydis as well as the Shafiis. The Zaydis, for instance, are practically extinct.
A similar phenomenon can be seen in Pakistan, where South Asian forms of Islam, namely certain Sufi mystical practices, have come under severe attack by Salafis. Likewise in India, the Hanafi scholars of Deoband and the Nadwa often deprecate traditional Indian Islamic beliefs and practices, preferring Saudi-inspired ones instead. Even more important has been the ability of the Saudis and the Gulf states to buy most of the Arabic media outlets where any criticism of Salafism is strictly prohibited and all religious discussion is censored.
I noted, however, that this form of religious censorship might be receding finally, perhaps as a consequence of 9/11, and as an indication of this I saw a number of non-Salafi Sheikhs interviewed on such TV stations as Iqra, MBC and al-Jazeera. The change, if one can call it such, remains hard to discern except for the learned or the seriously devout who can follow the references and allusions of the sheikhs.
Faced with this Salafi onslaught in the Muslim world, it is not surprising that some of the more dynamic moderates, men such as Tariq Ramadan and Nasr Hamid Abu Zaid to name only two, have found refuge in the West, and that Muslims born in the West should be in the vanguard of moderate Islam, scholars like Hamza Yusuf and Nuh Keller. But being in the West is itself a major factor of marginalization, for among other things, those in the West do not share in the everyday concerns and travails of Muslims in the heartlands.
More significantly, it is clear that the Salafi message resonate with particularly modern concerns Muslims have about their role in the world and their disenchantment with aspects of western modernity. The certainties that Salafism posits in answering questions, its lack of nuance in viewing the world, and its success in projecting a muscular and robust Islam, all account for its contemporary appeal. Until and unless moderate Muslims are able to provide some of the same, they will remain on the sidelines of an on-going debate about what it means to be Muslim and how to define the contours of a modern Islamic identity.
kills virgin Daughter over False sex claims - Muslims at work
September 08, 2002
AMMAN: A Jordanian father who suspected his daughter of having sex before marriage promised police he wouldn't harm her – then shot her dead.
An autopsy later revealed the 17-year-old girl was still a virgin.
Police here in the Jordanian capital detained her to protect her from family members who believed she was having sex.
The girl, whose name has not been released, was handed over to her father after he signed a declaration promising not to harm her. But he shot her dead soon after.
The girl's death was the third "honour" killing in Jordan in the past week.
He complained he could not tolerate rumours spread by friends and neighbours about his sister's sexual relations.
A third victim, Suwad Mahmoud, 24, was strangled by her 20-year-old brother with a telephone cord after her family learned she was pregnant before marrying her husband.
The victim's family celebrated her killing by offering sweets to friends and neighbours. Police later arrested the brother, whose name was not made public.
The latest killings follow a Jordanian cabinet ruling last December to exempt those accused of "honour" killings from heavy sentences such as death.
Honour crimes include the killing of a female relative "caught in the act of adultery" or even in a situation deemed "immoral".
The amendment dropped the concept that such killings could be justified, but lawyers and women's groups said it was unlikely to lower the number.
The Jordan Times said 11 women had been killed in such crimes so far this year.
According to official figures, an average of 20 women are killed in "honour crimes" every year in Jordan.
Palestine during the "Golden Age of Islam"
December 5, 2002 By Andrew G. Bostom FrontPageMagazine.com
Palestinian Authority (PA) Undersecretary for Awqaf [Religious Endowment], Sheik Yussef Salamah, representing the PA at a May 1999 "Inter-Cultural Conference," in Tehran, praised the 7th century system of Ahl Al-Dhimma (i.e, the system of dhimmitude, applied [primarily] to Christians and Jews conquered by jihad wars), as the proper paradigm for relations between Muslims and Christians today. He maintained, "Islam respected people of (other) religions and did not hurt them."
Palestinian Authority employee, Sheik Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Madhi reiterated these sentiments with regard to Jews during a Friday sermon broadcasted live on June 6, 2001 on PA TV, from the Sheik 'Ijlin Mosque in Gaza:
"We welcome, as we did in the past, any Jew who wants to live in this land as a Dhimmi, just as the Jews have lived in our countries, as Dhimmis, and have earned appreciation, and some of them have even reached the positions of counselor or minister here and there. We welcome the Jews to live as Dhimmis, but the rule in this land and in all the Muslim countries must be the rule of Allah”
Are these contemporary Muslim pronouncements of the dhimmis existence in Palestine under Islamic rule, even during the early, so-called “Golden Age” of Islam, consistent with historical reality?
This question is addressed by the widely acclaimed, comprehensive historiography of the scholar Bat Ye’or, in The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam, and by Professor Moshe Gil in A History of Palestine, 634-1099.
Bat Ye’or summarizes the Arab Muslim conquest of Palestine as follows: “…the whole Gaza region up to Cesarea was sacked and devastated in the campaign of 634. Four thousand Jewish, Christian, and Samaritan peasants who defended their land were massacred. The villages of the Negev were pillaged…Towns such as Jerusalem, Gaza, Jaffa, Cesarea, Nablus, and Beth Shean were isolated and closed their gates. In his sermon on Christmas day 634, the patriarch of Jerusalem, Sophronius, lamented…that the Christians were being forcibly kept in Jerusalem: ‘…chained and nailed by fear of the Saracens,’ whose ‘savage, barbarous and bloody sword’ kept them locked up in the town…Sophronius, in his sermon on the Day of the Epiphany 636, bewailed the destruction of the churches and monasteries, the sacked towns, the fields laid waste, the villages burned down by the nomads who were overrunning the country. In a letter the same year to Sergius, the patriarch of Constantinople, he mentions the ravages wrought by the Arabs. Thousands of people perished in 639, victims of the famine and plague that resulted from these destructions.”
Professor Gil emphasizes the singular centrality that Palestine occupied in the mind of its pre-Islamic Jewish inhabitants, who referred to the land as "al-Sham". Indeed, as Gil observes, the sizable Jewish population in Palestine (who formed a majority of its inhabitants, when grouped with the Samaritans) at the dawn of the Arab Muslim conquest were "..the direct descendants of the generations of Jews who had lived there since the days of Joshua bin Nun, in other words for some 2000 years..". Through the clear, dispassionate presentation of a rich profusion of data from Muslim, Christian, and Jewish sources, he captures the stark, unromantic reality of Muslim ruled Palestine during these 465-years. Of the nearly 5 centuries carefully surveyed by Professor Gil, the "Golden Age" period coincides, primarily, with the Abbasid-Baghdadian Caliphate, which began in 750 C.E., and ended in 878 C.E. The Abbasids moved the capital city from Damascus to Baghdad, absorbed much of the Syrian and Persian culture, as well as Persian methods of governance, and ushered in the "Golden Age."
Gil and Bat Ye’or offer revealing assessments of “Golden Age” dhimmitude (i.e., the regulations imposed on the non-Muslim dhimmis vanquished by jihad “holy war”), and its adverse impact on these conquered, indigenous Jews and Christians. The clearest outward manifestations of this imposed inferiority and humiliation were the prohibitions regarding dhimmi dress "codes", and the demands that distinguishing signs be placed on the entrances of dhimmi houses. Specifically, during the Abbasid caliphates (i.e., the “Golden Age”) of Harun al-Rashid (786-809) and al-Mutawwakil (847-861), specifically, Jews and Christians were required to wear yellow (as patches attached to their garments, or hats). Later, to differentiate further between Christians and Jews, the Christians were required to wear blue.
In 850, consistent with Koranic verses and hadith (sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) associating them with Satan and Hell, al-Mutawwakil decreed that Jews and Christians attach wooden images of devils to the doors of their homes to distinguish them from the homes of Muslims. Bat Ye’or summarizes the oppression of the dhimmis throughout the Abbasid empire under al- Mutawwakil as “..a wave of religious persecution, forced conversions, and the elimination of churches and synagogues..”. Bat Ye’or also elucidates the fiscal oppression inherent in eighth century (i.e., including “Golden Age”) Palestine which devastated the dhimmi Jewish and Christian peasantry: “Over-taxed and tortured by the tax collectors, the villagers fled into hiding or emigrated into towns.” She quotes from a detailed chronicle of an eighth century monk, completed in 774: ‘The men scattered, they became wanderers everywhere; the fields were laid waste, the countryside pillaged; the people went from one land to another’.
Gil offers this sobering assessment near the end of his extensive, scrupulously documented presentation of the initial period of Muslim rule of Palestine from 634-1099 C.E., "..These facts do not call for much interpretation; together they simply form a picture of almost unceasing insecurity, of endless rebellions and wars, of upheavals and instability..".
The eminent historian of Islam, Bernard Lewis, observed 35 years ago that nineteenth-century “Pro-Islamic” Jews promoted a utopian view of the egalitarian nature of Muslim rule. Not surprisingly, Muslims eventually also picked up on this romantic Jewish myth about Islam, which became a standard part of their own self-image. However, Lewis concludes [in "The Pro-Islamic Jews," Judaism, (Fall 1968), p. 401.], "The Golden Age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy for Islam.". Moreover, even if deemed “tolerant” for its time, dhimmitude is completely incompatible with modern notions of equality between individuals, regardless of religious faith.
It is chilling that the official, contemporary Palestinian Authority religious intelligentsia as represented by Sheikh Salamah and Sheikh Al-Madhi openly support restoration of this oppressive system. Finally, a sober assessment of such anachronistic Islamic views was provided by The Catholic Archbishop of the Galilee, Butrus Al-Mu'alem, who, in a June 1999 statement dismissed the notion of modern Christian “dhimmis” submitting to Muslims: “It is strange to me that there remains such backwardness in our society; while humans have already reached space, the stars, and the moon... there are still those who amuse themselves with fossilized notions.”
Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown University Medical School.
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