By Shoshana Bryen
WASHINGTON, D.C. –The State Department has confirmed that Feisal Abdul Rauf – who wants to be the imam of a mosque at Ground Zero – is taking a State Department funded trip to the Middle East to foster “greater understanding” about Islam and Muslim communities in the United States.
“He is a distinguished Muslim cleric,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. “I think we are in the process of arranging for him to travel as part of this program, and it is to foster a greater understanding about the region around the world among Muslim-majority communities.” Rauf is reportedly going to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar.
What a load of hooey.
We know a lot of rabbis, some ministers and a few priests. We would be appalled to have the government of the United States, which by law favors no religion, sending a rabbi to Israel – or the former Soviet Union or France or Argentina, where there are communities of Jews – to talk about how Jews live in the United States. Having a priest travel to the Vatican, Honduras, Ireland or the Philippines to describe the lives of American Catholics would be outrageous. Likewise, ministers to Sweden.
What business is it of the American government to send a Muslim to Muslim-majority countries to talk about Islam? How offensive is it to think that the American government is using American tax dollars to fly a non-government person around the world to promote the activities and lifestyle of a particular religion? Better to send a non-Muslim American government official to talk about American religious freedom, cultural diversity and the virtues of the secular, democratic state.
To the speculation that Rauf will engage in fund raising for the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, Mr. Crowley said, “That would not be something he could do as part of our program,” he said.
We’re so relieved. And we’re so sure he will do only as the American government desires.
But Debra Burlingame, a 9/11 family member told The New York Post, “‘We know he has a fund-raising association with Saudi Arabia,’ … noting that the Saudis have contributed money to underwrite programs by the American Society for Muslim Advancement, a not-for-profit that Abdul Rauf runs with his wife and that is one of the sponsors of the Ground Zero mosque. ‘He’s going to the well, and how can they say they do or don’t know what he’s doing?'”
To be entirely clear, JINSA believes Ground Zero is a battlefield cemetery – the site of a battle for the liberal democratic state. We oppose the building of a Muslim sectarian monument there because regardless of what its supporters say, it will be widely understood in the Muslim world as a battlefield monument in the name of Islam.
Does the State Department really think Rauf (who said in English that the United States bears responsibility for 9-11) will tell the Saudis, Bahrainis and Qataris that he is building a monument to cultural understanding, interfaith relations and peace in New York because America is a good, safe and decent place for Muslims as long as they understand the secular, democratic nature of the United States? And that he doesn’t want their money because Americans will fund the mosque?
And how will the State Department know?
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.
By Norman Greene
LA JOLLA, California — No matter what else is discussed, “Iran is the main issue in the Middle East…everything else is irrelevant,” stated Caroline Glick, Deputy Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Post before an audience of over 500 gathered at Congregation Beth El by the San Diego Chapter of Friends of the Israel Defense Forces.
Can a nuclear Iran be contained? “Absolutely not,” she stated because “we are dealing with a death cult” that fervently believes in a life beyond this one where Islam will rule. All Iran’s nuclear efforts are “to advance Iran’s messianic quest.” There is no parallel with the history of U.S./Russia’s nuclear competition or standoff, because the Soviet Union believed in nothing…no hereafter.
Glick, born in Chicago, received her B.A. from Columbia, her Masters from Harvard, made Aliyah in 1991 and served in the IDF for five years before embarking on a many faceted career that has seen her as an adviser to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a member of the team negotiating with Yasser Arafat’s PLO, a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. and currently the lead columnist for Israel’s Makor Rishon newspaper, as well as her current Jerusalem Post position. She is a frequent speaker and TV commentator, as well as an author and syndicated columnist.
Her San Diego presentation Tuesday evening, July 20, was both rapid fire, detailed and impassioned.
Glick reported three consequences of a nuclear Iran: Middle East de-stabilization, a political realignment of Middle East nations and a Middle East nuclear arms race (Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Jordan) that she stated had already begun. As a result, “Egypt and Jordan will abrogate their peace treaties with Israel. Fatah, which has no authority to make peace, will abandon any efforts. All of the U.S. Persian Gulf Sunni allies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain) will move away from the U.S.”
In discussing sanctions against Iran, which she says has dominated U.S. discourse, Glick stated that they have been on the table since early 2000 and that “none will have the slightest effect on Iran’s nuclear program. Even if 70 million Iranians have to starve, the regime doesn’t care.”
As far as “regime change” is concerned, Glick says there is no chance of that happening in the foreseeable future. Still she feels: “It is good to keep the regime busy with the opposition, no matter the moral quality of that opposition.”
Drawing a bleak picture, Glick was very clear that “the only way to stop Iran’s nuclear program is the use of military force. She reiterated that “seven years have been wasted by feckless politicians without the guts to take action.” There has been a complete failure of U.S. policy beginning with the last two years of George Bush’s presidency (“when he seemingly lost his will”) and continuing with Barack Obama’s first year of appeasement efforts that have totally failed, said the Chicago native.
The U.S., she said, “has fallen asleep on its watch – a terrible thing.”
An attack on Iran’s nuclear capabilities “would not be to protect Israel” she bluntly stated. It is in the fundamental interest of the U.S. to protect the flow of Middle East oil. While noting that the U.S. military has the power, she stated that a U.S. attack on Iran was “not going to happen” even though the U.S. needs to project its power in the Middle East. She noted that Israel hasn’t attacked because of U.S. pressure.
Referring to anti-missile systems development, she said that such programs do not constitute a viable program. They are ” a failure of imagination” in the face of a threat to world security. She noted that Iran’s satellite launching long-range missiles endanger not only Israel, but also Europe and all other Arab nations.
Glick discussed Israel’s role in the equation and stated that Israel, which was founded to prevent another Holocaust, has the capacity to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, but is hampered by the U.S. threat to withhold re-supplying Israel should an attack occur. “Obama has not given Israel any assurances to resupply if war were to happen.”
As such, Glick was extremely critical of the Obama administration. Quoting Winston Churchill: “The U.S. always does the right thing after exhausting every other possibility,” Glick exhorted her audience to show their support for Israel and the Free World by contacting all their representatives and political candidates to openly stand behind Israel against Iran. The U.S.’s lack of meaningful action she attributed to the backlash against Bush’s Iraq war.
Glick warned that Israel has been “carrying the rest of the world for quite a while now and there is fatigue, a fear of making mistakes, the wearing effects of the condemnation of the rest of the world.” She said the distortions of Jew-hating groups attempting to delegitimize and isolate Israel is real and paralyzing. “There is need to hear the voices of reason in the U.S..”
Glick worries about the loss of young Jews in the Diaspora, which she blames on the emphasis in Jewish education since the 90’s on the Holocaust at the expense of teaching Zionism. “The Holocaust is a German story, not a Jewish Story,” Glick stated. ” It focuses on the Jews as victims, not as actors who are ‘doing’ things.”
“To be a Jew, you have to do something – to build and to ‘do’–instead of holding a whiny discourse” Glick stated. “If you are damned if you do or don’t, it’s far better to ‘do’ ” she added.
Glick was welcome to the podium by Julian Josephson, San Diego chair of the Friends of IDF, Executive Director Nir Ben Zvi and Charles Wax who made the formal guest speaker introduction. A brief IDF film showed that since the organization was founded in 1981, it has provided support for Israeli soldiers, veterans and their families through scholarships, recreation facilities as well as social welfare, spiritual and bereavement programs. The message delivered is that “soldiers know they have strong backing from Friends of the IDF worldwide.”
Greene is a freelance writer based in San Diego
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (Press Release)—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday visited Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), at the invitation of UAE Minister of the Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, to meet with her counterparts from the Middle East region and officials from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to discuss ways to bolster global aviation security.
“The attempted terrorist attack on Dec. 25 demonstrated that international terrorist threats must be countered with a coordinated, global response,” said Secretary Napolitano. “My meetings today with partners from nations throughout the Middle East underscore our shared commitment to strengthening global aviation security to better protect the traveling public.”
In Abu Dhabi, Secretary Napolitano addressed UAE ministers and representatives from numerous Middle Eastern countries who attended the conference, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, and met with officials from ICAO—stressing the need for collaborative international action to prevent terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft.
Secretary Napolitano underscored the Obama administration’s commitment to strengthening information sharing with international partners about terrorists and other dangerous individuals and emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation on technological development and deployment; stronger aviation security measures and standards; and coordinated international technical assistance.
This meeting marked the fifth in a series of major international summits—coordinated with ICAO—intended to build consensus around the world to strengthen global aviation security. These meetings have resulted in joint declarations on aviation security with partners in Africa, the Asia/Pacific region, the Western Hemisphere, and Europe.
Preceding provided by U.S. Department of Homeland Security
While the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not conduct screening at foreign airports, Secretary Napolitano is committed to strengthening coordination with international partners to implement stronger and more effective measures to protect the integrity of the global aviation network. Since April, TSA has utilized new enhanced threat and risk-based security protocols—tailored to reflect the most current information available to the U.S. government—for all air carriers with international flights to the United States to strengthen the safety and security of all passengers.
By Shoshana Bryen
WASHINGTON, D.C — The U.S. Department of the Army put out a request for information on “Afghanistan National Army Air Corps English and Pilot Training.”
The Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation (PEO STRI) is conducting market research by seeking sources with innovative business solutions to (1) train and certify up to 67 Afghani student pilots to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) English level 4 in the English language; and (2) provide basic rotary wing or fixed wing Commercial Pilot Training to the European Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) standards.
It is desired that the English language and basic pilot training take place within South West Asia. PEO STRI requests information on sources available to perform training in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, U.A.E, Uzbekistan, Yemen or other locations in Southwest Asia with the capability to provide requested training.
How is it possible that Syria, a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorism-supporting countries, is considered an acceptable place to train Afghan pilots? Or Lebanon, which has Hezbollah as a member of the governing cabinet in Beirut? Hezbollah is a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations, and until September 11, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group. Didn’t Kyrgyzstan just have a coup inspired/financed by Russia? Wouldn’t training pro-Western Afghan pilots in Pakistan send those people from the frying pan into the fire? Isn’t Yemen home to some of the most virulently anti-American, anti-Western al Qaeda operatives and preachers, including Anwar al-Awlakiwho was talking to U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan before he killed 13 Americans at Ft. Hood?
Aside from the fact that some of the countries listed are not in South West Asia, as the request for information requires, not one is remotely democratic. OK, we’ll give Jordan a few points and some to Iraq, but that’s it.
What would possess the United States Army to expose Afghani pilots, who are supposed to secure a functional and consensual state in Afghanistan, to countries where the governments are almost uniformly totalitarian, functionally repressive, less than hospitable to reform or dissent, and have women in positions of legal inferiority? Saudi Arabia is the financier of a particularly repressive, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic form of Islam exported around the world.
We did not expect to see Israel on the list, although Israel certainly is capable of training pilots to the European Joint Aviation Authority standards, and a few months in Israel would impart some Western governmental, judicial and social norms, including religious and political tolerance.
But if not Israel, why not Britain or Italy or France or Spain or Portugal? Why not Denmark or Colombia or Mali or Uruguay? Why not India or Indonesia or Taiwan or Japan?
The list is clearly weighted toward the part of the world to which President Obama wishes to show American comity. Unfortunately, it is also a part of the world in which neither American policies nor American values are particularly welcome items on the agenda. The list and the thinking behind it are political mistakes that should be corrected. Certainly, they should be corrected before we give the Afghanis the idea that the norms of Syria and Lebanon are ones we want them to adopt.
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member
By Meital Nir
FAIR LAWN, New Jersey–According to the well-known adage, we need to choose whether to be part of the problem or part of the solution. Visiting the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last month, I observed that the organization has apparently chosen to be both. Founded in 2006 with a mission of “strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights around the globe,” the UNHRC is today composed of only 49 percent “free” member states, as classified by the democracy watchdog Freedom House. The remaining small majority includes such states as China, with the highest execution rate on earth, and Saudi Arabia, which still employs flogging and amputation as means of punishment. In the latest absurdity, the council will vote in May on Iran’s request to take its place among the organization’s 47 member states, and some predict it has a reasonable chance of attaining one of the four seats allotted to countries in the Asian region.
Representatives of the council’s democracies are caught between two contradictory approaches in confronting the problem of Iran. On the one hand, they feel a responsibility to employ any diplomatic tactics available to shine a spotlight on it and other dark corners of the world, in the hope of contributing to an improvement in conditions there. But somewhere in the back of their minds lies the realization that the world may one day conclude that the HRC – established as a replacement for an earlier, failed human rights commission – is not only useless, but actually harmful. Understanding that things may have to get worse before they can get better, these realists believe that the council should be permitted to appear in its true bleak colors, even if this means allowing Iran to take a seat.
In June 2007, the HRC implemented the Universal Periodic Review, by which each of the UN’s member states is evaluated once every four years in terms of its compliance with international human rights standards. On February 15, it was Iran’s turn for review and, theoretically, for providing explanations about the evidence of its appalling human rights violations. Not surprisingly, Iran’s UPR has aroused unprecedented attention from both supporters and strong opponents of the Islamic regime, not least because of its simultaneous bid for a seat in the council.
At the same time Dr. Mohammad Larijani, head of the Iranian delegation in Geneva, was being asked to address the regime’s crimes, other HRC members were going out of their way to help him feel very much at home in Geneva. Bahrain commended Iran’s commitment to human rights, China applauded its efforts to promote cultural diversity, and Sudan praised Tehran’s efforts to enshrine Islamic values in human rights conventions to which it is a signatory.
If all that wasn’t enough, following Iran’s UPR – and for the first time since the review was instituted three years ago – the diverse crowd of diplomats, NGOs and journalists seated around the U-shaped tables in the high-ceilinged room burst into applause of enthusiastic support for the Islamic republic. While a long line of Iranian dissidents marched back and forth outside, in Geneva’s UN Square, with life-sized posters of children hanging dead from cranes, the ovation heard inside, like a perfect satirical show, generated a feeling that if this weren’t so tragic, it could have been quite amusing.
At the same time, the council’s democratic members also made a strong showing in expressing their opposition to the dismal human rights situation in Iran. In an unprecedented manner, diplomats lined up the night before to ensure they would have the opportunity to speak at the UPR hearing. In this way, Western countries like the United States, Canada, Israel and others set a distinct tone of discontent with Iran’s human rights violations.
NGOs alarmed by the possible outcome of the May vote have also begun lobbying against Iran’s candidacy, using the UPR as a platform to encourage a more general discussion of the situation in the Islamic Republic. Philippe Dam of Human Rights Watch said he hopes that even Iran’s allies will understand that a seat for a state synonymous with the broadcasted death last June of protester Neda Soltan, would “kill” the council, rendering it a useless political tool.
To you and me, the idea of Iran joining the Human Rights Council may sound about as reasonable as letting the fox guard the henhouse. But to some who actually care deeply about the subject, it does not seem so catastrophic. An ambassador of one Western country that harshly condemned Iran during the UPR, for example, told me that giving the Islamic republic a seat at the HRC may finally prove to the world that the last thing this body cares about is precisely the ideal on which it was founded: human rights.
The cynicism is understandable. But while it may be tempting to wait for the final straw to break the council’s back, I do not believe that we have the luxury of waiting to see just how far it may bend, if only out of the sense of responsibility to those who have been raped, murdered and tortured by the world’s darkest regimes. Though the process can be infuriating and at times discouraging, democracies must continue to play by the unfortunate rules of this politicized, cumbersome and indifferent body, and make every effort to steer the Human Rights Council toward its original goals.
Meital Nir is a member of the World Jewish Diplomatic Corps, which attended the HRC session as part of a broad coalition of human rights organizations fighting the abuse of human right in Iran. The preceding was provided by World Jewish Congress and was first published in the Haaretz on 12 March 2010.