It’s never easy to say you’re sorry.
To admit you’re wrong. To announce publicly, “I made a mistake”.
But to apologise when that apology comes bound up with what is, perhaps, the most intractable conflict on earth, makes it a thousand times harder.
But that is what I am. Sorry.
A few days ago I wrote a column about the latest round of violence on the border with Gaza.
It was a cry from the heart. I love Israel. I have always loved it, and cannot envision a time when I will not love it.
But in my office, I sit near a television set. And on Monday, I saw the following, side by side.
A former commander of British military forces in Afghanistan told the UN Human Rights Council on Friday that IDF troops should be commended for saving the lives of Palestinians during the violent rioting on the Israel-Gaza Strip border earlier this week.
“If Israel had allowed these mobs to break through the fence, the IDF would then have been forced to defend their own civilians from slaughter and many more Palestinians would have been killed,” Col. Richard Kemp told a special meeting of the UNHRC in Geneva on the Gaza clashes.
“Israel’s actions therefore saved lives of Gazans, and if this council really cared about human rights, it should commend the IDF for that, not condemn them on the basis of lies,” Kemp continued.
Kemp — who also served with the British army in Iraq and the Balkans, and is an expert in counter-terrorism strategies — accused Hamas of having “sent thousands of civilians to the front line — as human shields for terrorists trying to break through the border.”
Does the Quran really contain over a hundred verses that sanction violence?
The Quran contains at least 109 verses that speak of war with nonbelievers, usually on the basis of their status as non-Muslims. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called ‘hypocrites’ and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.
Unlike nearly all of the Old Testament verses of violence, most verses of violence in the Quran are open-ended, meaning that they are not necessarily restrained by historical context contained in the surrounding text (although many Muslims choose to think of them that way). They are part of the eternal, unchanging word of Allah, and just as relevant or subject to interpretation as anything else in the Quran.
The context of violent passages is more ambiguous than might be expected of a perfect book from a loving God. Most contemporary Muslims exercise a personal choice to interpret their holy book’s call to arms according to their own moral preconceptions about justifiable violence. Islam’s apologists cater to these preferences with tenuous arguments that gloss over historical fact and generally don’t stand up to scrutiny. Still, it is important to note that the problem is not bad people, but bad ideology.
Unfortunately, there are very few verses of tolerance and peace to balance out those calling for nonbelievers to be fought and subdued until they either accept humiliation, convert to Islam, or are killed. Muhammad’s own martial legacy, along with the remarkable emphasis on violence found in the Quran, have produced a trail of blood and tears across world history.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Now that Donald Trump has exited the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran, there is more at stake for the other signatories than either their belief in the deal’s virtues or their eagerness to salvage economic opportunities. Maintaining the deal without the US would deliver a severe blow to American credibility and perceptions of US power. China has long experience circumventing sanctions regimes, but the environment surrounding the reimposed sanctions is likely to be unusually confrontational.
Chinese businessman Sheng Kuan Li didn’t worry about sanctions when he decided in 2010 to invest $200 million in a steel mill in Iran. That mill started producing ingots and billet within months of the lifting of punitive measures against the Islamic Republic as part of the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran.
As he had no operations in the US, Li was not concerned about being targeted by the US Treasury. Moreover, he circumvented financial restrictions on Iran by funding the investment through what he called a “private transfer,” a money swap based on trust that avoided regular banking channels.