Monday, October 24, 2016

Raw Deal 10 - On Muslims versus Jihadis

Michael Lumish

Heya guys,

I want to talk to you this moning about a matter of some importance for the pro-Israel / pro-Jewish / pro democracy movement.

(And, really, the pro-Israel / pro-Jewish part is redundant because if one is not pro-Israel then, pretty much by definition, one is anti-democratic and, although vocal anti-Zionists may disagree, we can get into the nitty-gritty on that question some other time.)

First, it needs to be stressed that this is not just about Jews or just about Israel, but about a political, religious, non-democratic ideological trend that is spreading throughout the Middle East and the West grounded in the movement to spread al-Sharia, which we typically call Jihadism or Islamism or Political Islam, or whatever.

For now I want to discuss the tendency within pro-Israel circles to sometimes conflate all self-identified Muslims with Jihadis.

We must, in my opinion, draw a distinction between self-identified Muslims and Jihadis. A Jihadi (or Islamist) is anyone who uses violence, or who justifies the use of violence, for the purpose of establishing an Islamic Caliphate. A Muslim, on the other hand, is simply a person who grew up in the community, or within a Muslim family, who self-identifies as Muslim.

Now we can criticize my Muslim pharmacist buddy down the street for not being vocal enough against the Jihad, but what would you have him do? He’s just a married guy, working a job and raising some kids.

I understand, of course, that devout Muslims consider the Koran to be the unalterable and true word of Allah before it was corrupted by the Jews and the Christians.

And I understand that the Koran calls for Jihad and not just the quiet meditative type - or the nonsensical type found on buses in New York reading things like “My Jihad is loving my children,” or however those ads read – but the real kind, which is to say, the physical kind wherein the Holy Shaheed seeks to murder Jews and Christians simply because we are Jews and Christians.

But the point is that we cannot hold people accountable for thought crimes.

It would be exceedingly helpful – and to no one more so than the Muslim people – if more regular non-Jihadi-type Muslims, just regular people, spoke out forcefully against Political Islam as it spreads throughout the Middle East and Europe.

I do not know about you guys, however, but I am certainly not ready to condemn anyone for NOT putting forth a political opinion.

I recognize, of course, that Islam is not merely a religion but is a total system of human regulation and is political in its essence.

However, one is either engaging directly in the violent Jihad, or one justifies the Jihadi trend, or one doesn’t. Our fight should not be with those who do not, but those who do.

It should also be noted, tho, that any Muslim who claims to work social justice – such as our friends at San Francisco State - yet who refuse to loudly and consistently condemn the Jihad, or the more vicious practices of Islamic jurisprudence, such as the hacking off of body parts as a matter of holy religious law, is a hypocrite because social justice and al-Sharia are mutually exclusive categories.

Any such Muslim would be something akin to the kind of western-progressives who claims to stand for social justice yet who, likewise, cannot find it in their hearts to condemn the Jihad lest they be smeared as “Islamophobes” and thereby alienate their political-social compadres.

In both cases the advocates integrity is undermined by the tension between holding certain views on social justice, while refusing to express those views, or necessarily even able to think about those views, when it comes to the Jihad.

Finally, partly as a nod to Graham Coffey’s personal experiences throughout the Muslim world, as he describes them in commentary beneath my piece Myopia and Dismissiveness, the Islamic world is very diverse. A Muslim who grows up poor in Pakistan is likely to come to adulthood with a set of religious / ideological tendencies that are very different from a Muslim born and bred in Milwaukee, Minnesota.

Thus - as I am sure Graham is well-aware - the Muslims he talked with in Indonesia, in sub-Saharan Africa, in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the Muslim world, presumably reflect ideological trends and forms of bigotry common to that part of the world.

In fact, there seems to be a positive correlation between vocal pro-Jihadi sentiment among Muslims in majority Muslim countries versus countries like the United States with, for the moment, a very small Muslim demographic.

In any case, pro-Israel / pro-Jewish / and pro-democracy advocates should not put ourselves into the position of taking on the entire Muslim world. Aside from the fact of sheer numbers, it is simply unjust to call out regular people, who are not political advocates, for not expressing political opinions.

That, I think, is a very dangerous road to drive onto.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

On Myopia and Dismissiveness

Michael Lumish

{Also published at the Elder of Ziyon and Jews Down Under.}


Some time ago one of our participants at Israel Thrives suggested that my focus on Israel, and the rise of Political Islam, is myopic in terms of the forthcoming US presidential election.

I take such criticisms seriously and even though I might not respond immediately - or at all - it does not mean that I am not chewing on the matter.

This writer proposed that there are plenty of other things to consider, beyond the never-ending Arab-Israel conflict, when determining who to vote for. He is right, of course. Americans are coping with a huge range of life-effecting issues that must be addressed through our politics.

So, why focus on an entirely sectarian issue like the Arab-Israel conflict?

There are a number of reasons.

This first is that the focus of Israel Thrives is what it is. If it were a blog devoted to fishing nobody would complain that it is not discussing duck hunting. This is not to say that murdering perfectly innocent ducks isn't a worthwhile endeavor, delicious as they are, but it simply has nothing to do with fishing other than the fact that both are outdoor sports.

What is more troubling are charges of semi-irrelevant sectarianism, because such charges promote indifference of, and dismissiveness toward, the fundamental issue of Political Islam.


When we dismiss concerns about Jihadism as racist, anti-Muslim, Islamophobic bigotry (as Pamela Geller might put it) we not only stifle the possibility of discussion through a slander that has ruined peoples lives, but call our own ideological credibility into question.

Jews or no Jews, al-Sharia persecutes millions of people throughout the Middle East and Europe and how we react to that persecution speaks volumes toward our credibility in speaking on other issues concerned with human rights.

1) The Abuse of Non-Jews Under Sharia

The Jews of the Middle East are victims of al-Sharia who refuse to be victims of al-Sharia. 

Israel may be The Dhimmi that Got Away, but that doesn't mean that the much larger, hostile, majority-population of the Middle East are not intent on retrieving it.

That is, even as Israel stands strong militarily, technologically, and economically, Israeli-Jewish society lives under a constant threat of Jihadi violence that kills innocent people thereby propelling hatred and fear throughout much of the culture.

Israel, however, has the IDF, but the Christian Copts in Egypt do not.

The Yazidis of Nineveh, Iraq, do not.

Neither do women anywhere in the Arab-Persian-Muslim World who are generally treated - at least, according to contemporary western standards of human decency - as something approaching chattel.

We are talking about hundreds of millions of people, almost all of whom are non-Jewish, who live under medieval systems of jurisprudence derived from Islamic primary sources. We know that in many parts of the Islamic world, such as Saudi Arabia, they are still hacking at body parts as a form of Holy Justice.

In the Quran, Surah 5:33, we read that one such punishment takes the form of chopping off one foot and one hand from opposite sides of the individual's body and then, presumably, leaving that person to simply writhe to death in the sand.

One can only wonder if that particularly evil form of "justice" is still practiced in Riyadh today.

2) The Maintenance of Ideological Credibility

How we respond to the issue of rising Political Islam is, or should be, an expression of our political ideologies.

If we claim to stand for social justice then we have an obligation to stand up for women in the Middle East, Gay people in the Middle East, and all non-Muslim peoples living under al-Sharia. And it must be said that the greatest victims, by far, of the Jihadi trend are Muslims, themselves.

If we fail to speak out definitively against Political Islam then we cannot claim the mantle of social justice or universal human rights and, therefore, any claims that we make along such lines can be airily dismissed, with the wave of a hand, as hypocrisy.

That is, if we claim to stand for women's rights, but cannot bring ourselves to vocally and consistently condemn practices like burying condemned women up to their shoulders in preparation for a proper stoning in Iran, then we have no right to claim to stand for women's rights.

If we claim to stand for GBLTQ rights, but cannot bring ourselves to vocally and consistently condemn the execution of Gay people under al-Sharia, then we have no business claiming to be pro-Gay.

If we claim to stand for secular democratic principles in western lands, but have no problem with dual and, thus, unequal legal systems in European countries, then our claims to stand for secular democratic principles are precarious, at best.

Finally, for those who think that standing for universal human rights is inconsistent with being pro-Israel, then I recommend that one read more deeply into the history of the Jewish people under thirteen centuries of Islamic dominance in the Middle East, prior to World War I.

Thirteen hundred years of second and third-class non-citizenship under the boot of imperial Islam was quite enough for the Jewish people, and all other non-Muslims, living in the Middle East.

One cannot understand the never-ending conflict if one refuses to place it into its larger historical and geographic context.

Martin Gilbert's, In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands (2010, Yale University Press) is a good place to start.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A response to Hillary's foreign policy

Empress Trudy

I believe that progressive's dire threats that Hillary is a secret war hawk are nonsense.

First - that's a political statement to set progressives apart. Second - there's little history to suggest this is true. The US has been very reluctant to do more than window dressing foreign policy-wise. Oh they talk shit but it's 10x louder than a real effect. And yes there's 6,000 or so troops in Iraq and Syria (but don't mention that, that's a big secret!) as well as helicopters and strike drones and the random air strike but in the context of the whole region the US presence in the Mideast and North and Sub Saharan Africa is about the size of France's involvement.

The Hillary regime will be no less neo-isolationist than Obama. We're in a new era - an era of proxies with new customers and their new enemies. Western leaders of France, the UK and the US see their foreign policy role as arms dealers to local presidents, generals, wazirs, republican guards, rebel armies and the like. President Dear Leader Queen Hillary the Even Greater the Second will sell gear to them before she sends our people in droves. After all, that would require her to put women in harms' way under the new rules of the DoD which opened almost all combat jobs to women. No one seriously believed they'd be called on to follow through on that.

Moreover, Hillary's mutterings about overall budgets and funding puts the US on a path to have the smallest armed forces since the late 1920's-early 1930's. And ALL the western states are on the same path - Canada, the UK, Germany, France, and the minor NATO states. Even Turkey with its purges has no choice but to shrink its overall posture.

But leaving that aside, we're left with 'soft power'. That is, the power of transnational bodies like the UN, EU, NGO’s, ‘foundations’, unapproved treaties, international law and such. The people extolling the greatness of that plan are the same people who are relying on them. That's not a reliable or accurate point of view to have. Maybe it’s effective but it’s probably not very effective for the same reason any cartel isn’t effective. Everyone makes grand pronouncements then violates their own deals and cuts secret side deals on their own.

The real charm, the real appeal of forking over your nation's law making to international and transnational bodies, is in fact a domestic political issue entirely. It's meant to override the Constitution, checks and balances and rule of law for our country not some ally or foreign foe. And while the US waves a Sword of Damocles in the UNSC over the Jews as a credible threat it's increasingly not a POTENT one. What, after all, are the real consequences of the UNSC decreeing where they shall suffer the Jews to live? I suspect it’s more hot air than cold pragmatism, like every Arab state who promises to shovel billions and billions of dollars to the poor peaceful peace loving ‘palestinians’ of peace and never do it.

No I suspect that progressive democrat Frankenhillary’s foreign policy will resemble the most freewheeling unhindered robber baron limitless mercantile capitalism that puts everything in the country up for sale to the highest bidder. Everything that’s not nailed down and some of which that is, is all going out the door at fire sale prices. This plays directly to the liberal progressive ethos of the emergency of shortages. You can’t have have a liberal progressive nanny state w/o rationing and shortages and the overall belief that however much you have of anything, today, is as much as it will ever be. The role of government in that space is to micromanage that dwindling quantity in carefully controlled portions until nothing’s left. What better way to set the stage than to sell off everything in the country until there are shortages.

Yesterday in the last debate Hillary ranted about Chinese steel that ‘Donald’ buys. She left out that WE in THIS country make almost NO steel at all. The few companies that do, like Arcelor, are Indian firms operating in the US in the specialty steel and steel recycling business. If anyone wants to use steel in the US in large quantities they HAVE to buy it from overseas. I really can't see Hillary bringing the steel business back to the US. What’s in it for the American government and her administration to do so?

But I diverge. Foreign policy. The question is, what IS foreign policy – what purpose does it serve? Which strategic national interests does it answer to? What are those strategic interests in the first place? Obama is slowly turning over the Persian Gulf to Iran through which 40% of the world’s crude oil moves. He’s turning over the South China Sea to China, through which big gobs of world trade move. He’s watched as Russia takes over Crimea with one hand while it chokes Europe with the power of being able to provide half their energy with the other. If all of that is in our interest then there’s little for Hillary to change or do. Just do that more. And by that, I mean ‘nothing’. If Hillary has a different portfolio of national imperatives informed by foreign policy she has yet to articulate it. Green energy? Where are all the solar panels coming from? China. Nothing else we’ve heard so far involves making anything – just entitlements, empowerment and social welfare programs that ‘the rich’ are going to pay for. ISIS? The supernal voodoo evil that’s a great punching bag and fear monger. We can’t even call it what it is we’re not shaping a foreign policy against it.

That leaves our parochial interest in Israel. The land based aircraft carrier formerly known as America’s proxy spear against Soviet incursion in the Mideast. Problem is that the US switched sides and isn’t worried about the Russians, the Iranians or the Arabs anymore. It’s Jews who are on the outs, they’re dead men walking. Hillary’s foreign policy will resemble that of Obama’s so lets encapsulate that. Obama loathes Israel and likely is an antisemite. But Obama is also passive and a narcissist. He never takes direct action AT anything. He stands aside and lets others do it or better yet waits for the target of his hatred to lash out at him first. He wants Israel and all the Jews in it to vanish but he’s perfectly willing to let others take the lead on that. So drip by drip he cuts them out, cuts them down, gives more to their enemies. The goal is the slow erosion of the Jewish state much like Arafats’s as constructed by his KGB handlers in the 1960’s. This strategy has a fatal flaw though. It relies on Israel playing along. If Israel were to disengage at the same rate the US is disengaging, since hostility is the same thing as disengagement, Obama’s plan falls apart. Importantly, there’s no evidence that shows us that Hillary’s stratagem will be any different. How many cards does the US have to play? Just one, the ‘unbreakable relationship’ card. That is a weak card to play for a couple of reasons. 1) there’s little in the way of technology and money the Israelis can't do without if the costs gets very high. 2) the threat of withdrawing that support has never been tested and so the outcome is very unpredictable. 3) the aid package just floated only restricts those dollars and no others. Since there’s a worry that the aid must eventually be spent 100% in the US, spend other money on indigenous and other efforts.

The Obama/Hillary foreign policy vis a vis the Mideast is one of resignation, confusion, chaos, withdraw. After a half century they have little to show for it other than a teetering relationship with Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the GCC compounded by utter cluelessness about Syria and Iraq compounded by a toxic bizarre love affair with Iran. An Iran who’s firing land based Chinese cruise missiles at the US Navy today. And finally a diplomatic quagmire with Turkey, NATO’s second largest partner and openly militarily hostile to US interests. And lest we forget the Obama/Hillary foreign policy actively interfered with the elections in Israel and Egypt in an attempt to topple both governments.

The conclusion I draw is that Hillary’s foreign policy will be hollow – a loud resonating chamber of noise from them about them for the benefit of the cheap seats in the domestic media. Obama frittered away almost all respect others have for the US and the Presidency as if almost intentionally. Hillary is even less credible and less serious. Her administration will be a RICO crime not a statement about world affairs.

Brief Note: Hillary's Likely Middle East Foreign Policy

Michael Lumish

briefnotesIt's always dicey, and usually quite foolish, to predict the future.

Nonetheless, this morning I intend to take a quick whack at it.

What we are likely to see going forward is a Hillary Middle East foreign policy that will be similar, in broad strokes, to Obama administration tendencies.

This will mean the continued erosion of US influence in that part of the world resulting in a power vacuum - as we are clearly already seeing for a number of years, now - that will be filled by Russia, Iran, and mutating rogue Jihadi forces like ISIS.

The Hillary administration, much like the Obama administration, will continue to support certain Islamist organizations, like the Brotherhood in Cairo, but not others.

If she follows Obama's Middle East foreign policy then she will divide the Islamist world into three parts:

Good Jihadis (who we support, like the Brotherhood).

Bad Jihadis (who we sometimes kinda fight, like al-Qaeda).


Jihadi groups that the US is basically indifferent toward (such as Hamas in Gaza or Hezbollah in Lebanon).

Hillary will not - or so I suspect - be quite as reluctant as Obama to use American military force, but will be exceedingly reluctant to strike at Islamist groups, with the possible exception of the Islamic State.

She will also, like Obama, probably refuse to publicly note that "radical Islamic extremism" is "radical Islamic extremism" and will, thereby, hobble FBI efforts to stymie the advancement of Political Islam or Islamic terrorism within the United States because they will not study "violent extremism" within the context of Islamic primary sources, such as the Quran and the Hadiths.

In terms of the Arab-Israel conflict, Hillary will unfortunately stay the course.

That is:

1) She will continue to demand a two-state solution, despite the fact that the Palestinian-Arabs, themselves, emphatically want no such thing and are not the least bit shy about using random violence to prove it.

2) She will continue to insist that Jews be allowed to live in some places, but not others, within the Land of Israel. She will then blame those Jews (those insidious settlers), and the Israeli government, for Palestinian-Arab refusal to accept a state for themselves in peace next to Israel.

3) Through such behavior she will, knowingly or not, bolster the ambitions of anti-Semitic anti-Zionists, Israel Haters, and their friends in the BDS.

Meanwhile, things will become even more uncomfortable for pro-Israel Jewish students on American campuses and Jews with a sense of self-respect will slowly, quietly, over many years, depart from the Democratic Party.

We shall see.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Hypocrisy of San Francisco State University President, Leslie Wong

wongIn a recent piece, I noted that right-wing provocateur, David Horowitz, recently set his sights on San Francisco State University.

He and his people did so as part of a larger campaign to rile up political discussion concerning the connection between anti-Zionism and increasing levels of Jew hatred on American university campuses.

SFSU, like many universities around the United States, promotes three types of racism. These are humanitarian racism, anti-white racism, and anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.

In response, Horowitz sent some little ideological ninjas onto that campus at night - just before the biggest rainstorm San Francisco has had in almost a year - and plastered the area with various posters pointing out that targeting Jews for death, as Hamas does, is not very nice and that, perhaps, SFSU should not support it.

One of Horowitz's posters features professor Rabab Abdulhadi with text reading, “a leader of the Hamas BDS campaign; collaborator with terrorists; San Francisco State professor.”

Nick Madden, in SFSU's Golden Gate XPress, tells us that President Wong is none-too-happy with David Horowitz and his FrontPage Magazine and his Freedom Center or wherever these meshuganah posters came from.

Horowitz says:
Our goal in placing these posters on prominent campuses across America is to expose the true motivations and allegiances of these groups who have chosen to join forces with terrorists, to challenge their lies and to expose the financial and organizational supports which allow them to pursue their genocidal agenda.
This upset President Wong who threatened that "a line has been crossed."

Normally when people speak of the crossing of lines there is the inherent threat of counter-action and reprisal. For some reason, however, I think that Horowitz has as much to fear from Wong's enmity as Syrian "president" Bashar al-Assad has to fear from Obama's. 

Concerning the posters, Wong said, "... we must defend each other from personalized attacks that serve no purpose but to incite fear and promote division."

Wong's concern for incitement to fear and promotion of division is highly discriminating. Wong is not the least bit concerned that SFSU's anti-Semitic anti-Zionist organizations, such as the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS), and other allied student organizations, regularly call for the murder of Jews via the calls for Intifada.

This is the university president who said:
I want to offer my personal congratulations to the student leadership of GUPS. They have been an inspiration for me. And they have helped me when I have to tell other community groups to mind their own business. GUPS is the very purpose of this great university.
GUPS is the very purpose of SFSU? An organization that quite literally calls for the murder of Jews in the Middle East is the "very purpose" of San Francisco State University according to the president of that university?

{Really. Who knew?}

And one must wonder just who these "other community groups" who refuse to mind their own business are? For some reason I do not think that he is talking about the Chess Club.

 “Let me be clear," Wong said, "this is not an issue of free speech; this is bullying behavior that is unacceptable and will not be tolerated on our campus."

Who is this guy kidding?

Bullying behavior is not only accepted on the SFSU campus, it is absolutely encouraged by Wong, himself.

Wong's outrage is entirely hypocritical. I would call it self-consciously manufactured if I did not have faith in the man's sincerity. He believes what he says and thereby reveals the plain fact of his ideological blinkertude.

Ultimately what Wong is telling us is that inciting violence against Jews on his campus is just fine, but complaining about it and calling it to the attention of others is bullying.

I do not know that Horowitz's political-guerrilla tactics are effective, mainly because such efforts need to arise organically from the university student population. Unfortunately, the political atmosphere on that campus actively discourages pro-Israel / pro-Jewish sentiment while positively encouraging anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.

President Wong, as a matter of social justice and basic human decency, needs to be held responsible for encouraging anti-Semitic anti-Zionism on the campus of San Francisco State University.