What does Labour think about Brexit? “Well search me,” said Lord Mandelson with a laugh last night after Newsnight asked him to define it. It fell to Sir Keir Starmer to shed some light today. He tried his best, using all the professionalism expected from a former Director of Public Prosecutions, but Tom Harris found there were numerous reasons to doubt “ whether such coherence will stand up to scrutiny or, more importantly, will attract the support of voters”.
The Shadow Brexit Secretary won’t be helped in his bid to provide clarity over Labour’s thinking by the split he opened up with his fellow colleagues over EU migration. Sir Keir said that immigration rules will “have to change as we exit the EU”, although Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said less than a fortnight ago that freedom of movement should be defended as a “workers’ right”, while Jeremy Corbyn is a stout defender of free movement. That may explain why he radiated “ all the hope and optimism of a punctured bouncy castle”, in Michael Deacon’s view.
Theresa May has kept her campaign on an even keel in the meantime, helped by her ‘strong and stable’ commitment to key election messaging. The polls continue to suggest that the Tories will romp to victory, with the latest suggesting they are on course for a 150-seat majority, so she has made a point of warning her Cabinet against complacency. The Prime Minister must find it all too tempting to gloat given the difficulty her Opposition is having even with agreeing on what it thinks about Brexit, but she will know that she has to drive her supporters out to the polls in order to obtain the big mandate she seeks.
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A new hero has been born in the Arab world and his name is Donald Trump. And this is not a joke.
Arabs and Muslims love leaders who talk tough and do not hesitate to use force. In the Arab world, compromise is a sign of weakness.
Until recently, Trump was anathema to many Arabs and Muslims. So what happened? U.S. President Donald Trump did something Arab leaders have failed to do: he helped the Syrian civilians who were being gassed by their ruler.
Arabs and Muslims have long lost faith in their leaders’ ability to deal with the crises plaguing Arab and Islamic countries. The civil war in Syria, which has been raging for more than five years and which has claimed the lives of more than half a million people, is seen as a shining best example of Arab and Muslim leaders’ incompetence and apathy.
The most recent Arab League summit in Jordan, which brought together many Arab heads of state and monarchs, will be best remembered for the photos of leaders falling asleep during the discussions. These pictures, which have been circulating widely in the Arab media, feel like salt in the festering wound of Arab leaders’ indifference to their peoples’ plights.
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Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was Turkey’s President, and is Turkey’s President, and apparently will remain Turkey’s President. So, what was the referendum all about and why should we be suspicious? Well, first off there was the official consolidation of all political power in the Office of President and the end of the position of Prime Minister. The President now has dictatorial power even over votes of the Parliament. The Office of President will be filled through direct election when required. Do not expect any President to lose one of those elections any time soon. Then there were the tactics where opponents who spoke out being intimidated by every means necessary. The final tally was interesting as well. One would think that since you controlled the counting of the votes that one might have chosen numbers somewhat more impressive around which to have such a collating of absolute power to yourself. There…
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Jihad is spreading violence — and succeeding. “Of the last sixteen years,” notes Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her new book, The Challenge of Dawa, “the worst year for terrorism was 2014, with ninety-three countries experiencing attacks and 32,765 people killed.”
“The second worst was 2015, with 29,376 deaths. Last year, four radical Islamic groups were responsible for 74 percent of all deaths from terrorism: the Islamic State (also known as ISIS), Boko Haram, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. Although the Muslim world itself bears the heaviest burden of jihadist violence, the West is increasingly under attack”.
Hirsi Ali’s research, supported by the Hoover Institution, is a summary of the war on terror since the extremist Muslim attacks on the United States in September 2001:
“Since 9/11, at least $1.7 trillion has been spent on combat and reconstruction costs in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The total budgetary cost of the wars and homeland security from 2001 through 2016 is more than $3.6 trillion. Yet in spite of the sacrifices of more than 5,000 armed service personnel who have lost their lives since 9/11, today political Islam is on the rise around the world”.
According to Hirsi Ali, the West is “obsessed” with terror and this makes it blind to the broader threat, dawa, outreach: the ideology behind the terror attacks.
How large is the worldwide jihadist movement? More than we thought.
“In Pakistan alone, where the population is almost entirely Muslim, 13 percent of Muslims surveyed—more than 20 million people—said that bombings and other forms of violence against civilian targets are often or sometimes justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies… According to one estimate, 10−15 percent of the world’s Muslims are Islamists. Out of well over 1.6 billion, or 23 percent of the globe’s population, that implies more than 160 million individuals”.
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Speaking in Youngstown, Ohio, on August 15, 2016, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gave a speech on what he unequivocally referred to as “radical Islam.” He declared:
Nor can we let the hateful ideology of radical Islam—its oppression of women, gays, children, and nonbelievers—be allowed to reside or spread within our own countries . . . [W]-e must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of radical Islam. Our administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.1
Since Mr. Trump’s election victory and inauguration as president, much attention has been focused on hurried and probably temporary restrictions on refugees, visitors, and immigrants from a number of majority-Muslim countries. Almost no attention has been paid to the broader goals outlined in the Youngstown speech.
I argue that the speech heralded a paradigm shift away from President Obama’s doctrine of focusing solely on the violence committed by “extremists” to a more comprehensive approach that seeks to undermine, degrade, and ultimately defeat political Islam (or Islamism) as an ideology and a movement seeking to infiltrate and undermine our free society.
A narrow focus on Islamist violence had the effect of restricting our options only to tools such as military intervention, electronic surveillance, and the criminal justice system. This approach has proved both costly and ineffective.
Moving beyond the controversy over his executive order on immigration, President Trump now has the chance to broaden our strategy. Instead of “combating violent extremism,” his administration needs to redefine the threat posed by political Islam by recognizing it as an ideology that is fundamentally incompatible with our freedoms and a movement that is working insidiously but effectively to achieve its stated utopia.2
I argue that the American public urgently needs to be educated about both the ideology of political Islam and the organizational infrastructure called dawa that Islamists use to inspire, indoctrinate, recruit, finance, and mobilize those Muslims whom they win over to their cause.
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The following speech was delivered at Der Shteyn (The Stone), Riverside Park, New York City, on April 19, 2017, the 74th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
It’s been hard for me to focus on the meaning of this year’s geto fayerung. Like many of you, I’ve been brought up short by events of the last few months, by our country’s leaders’ unapologetic meanness, their lack of compassion. Amidst the attacks on immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans and Latinos, women, the LGBT community, African-Americans, Native Americans, we’ve also witnessed an aggressive anti-Semitism of vandalized Jewish cemeteries, bomb threats to Jewish centers, and graffiti with swastikas. Perhaps even more disturbing has been the almost casual anti-Semitism as “slips of the tongue” or “gaffes”: the omission of Jews on Holocaust Remembrance Day, references to “Holocaust centers,” and the reaffirmation of German Jews as “other” and non-Germans. I confess to feeling myself drifting toward a panic that I’d assumed had been buried and gone years ago.
But it’s a panic that I want to rebury. I want to be clear with myself that despite the resemblances of 2017 and the 1930s in Europe, they are not the same. I am not wearing a yellow star.
To enforce this difference in my mind, I decided to return to the testimonies of survivors and witnesses of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April and May 1943 and I’d like to pass on what I rediscovered about the aftermath of the resistance which began 74 years ago this month.
As most of you know, after learning of plans to liquidate the entire population of the Ghetto, the ZOB, the Jewish Fighters Organization of Warsaw Ghetto consisting of various Jewish political parties, decided that on April 19, 1943, it would begin to fight and resist the German occupiers, a resistance which they knew they could never win. By that time, the population of the Ghetto had been reduced from over 400,000 to fewer than 60,000—reduced by hunger, disease, direct murder in the ghetto, and transports to Treblinka. Poorly equipped, they still managed to continue the battle for weeks. On May 8, the Germans surrounded Mila 18, the headquarters of the ZOB. Many were gassed. Many committed suicide, including Commander Mordecai Anilewicz. But it was still not over. Two days later, the Bundist activist and organizer Bernard Goldstein states in The Stars Bear Witness:
On May 10 a group of fighters led by Abrasha Blum, Marek Edelman and Zivia Lubetkin made their way through the sewers to Prosta Street. With the help of guides they negotiated the barbed- wire obstructions and the booby traps.
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a statement last week to nine self-described sanctuary cities, ordering them to certify compliance with federal immigration law. Sessions in particular cited gang-related crime in these cities, and, in reference to New York, remarked, “New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s ‘soft on crime’ stance.”
Those words prompted outrage from New York mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD commissioner James O’Neill. The mayor called Sessions’s statement “outrageous” and “an insult” to law enforcement. “Month after month crime has gone down,” de Blasio said. “That seems to have reached everywhere but Washington, D.C.” Commissioner O’Neill said that his “blood began to boil” when he heard the attorney general’s claims. “To say we’re soft on crime is absolutely ludicrous.” Other elected officials took to Twitter to denounce Sessions. City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who is planning a massive legislative effort to block municipal cooperation with federal authorities on immigration enforcement, called Sessions’s remarks “Ridiculous & surely illegal.” Some reporters chimed in on the mayor’s behalf, editorializing, for instance, that “# are unequivocally on BDB’s side.”
But Sessions didn’t claim that crime is rising in New York City, as it is in Chicago and other major cities. He said that New York is plagued by gang-related homicide, and that the city has gone “soft” on enforcement. Are these statements true?
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After each Islamist terrorist attack in the West, the public is divided into two camps: one angry and one indifferent. The problem with defeating Islamist terrorism seems to be that either it is attacked by conservatives who call Islam an evil cult or it is forgiven entirely by liberal apologists. What, then, is the answer?
One of the main failures in Western analyses of the origins of terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa is that the West attributes them to a lack of democracy and a lack of respect for human rights. This is, indeed, part of the cause, but the root of the problem is a lack of development and modernity. U.S. President Donald Trump did not exaggerate when he said that the Obama administration’s foreign policy was disastrous. It was catastrophic mainly for two reasons. One was the knee-jerk support for the “Arab Spring” and for extremist Islamic political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. The second was the alliances the Obama administration built with unreliable countries such as Qatar, which supports radical political groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, Obama made the mistake of continuing to try to appease Iran’s theocratic regime.
The Arab Spring’s uncalculated, hasty attempt to establish so-called democracy only generated more turmoil and chaos in the region. Certain radical political groups simply exploited the elections to serve their own political and sectarian agendas; that swoop for power only resulted in more authoritarian and dictatorial regimes, as have played out, for instance, in Egypt, where we have witnessed the murder of civilians and police officers by the Muslim Brotherhood. In other countries, the situation is even worse; attempts to install democracy have totally destroyed the state and facilitated the spread of terrorist militias, as in Libya.
It is ironic that Western countries and their advocates stress the need to apply democratic practices in Arab countries, but evidently do not recall that development and secularism preceded democracy in Western Europe. The United Kingdom, which has the oldest democratic system, did not become fully democratic until 1930. France became fully democratic only in 1945, 150 years after the French Revolution.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, at the Arab Summit in Jordan on March 28, 2017 delivered a speech in which he indicated his continuous support for the Muslim Brotherhood:
“If we are serious about focusing our efforts on armed terrorist organizations, is it fair to consider any political party we disagree with as terrorist? Is our goal to increase the number of terrorists?”
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