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Vladimir Putin’s Criticism of Liberalism and the Rise of Populist Dictators

Fresco of Villa Macherly. Lorenzo Tornabuoni and the Free Arts by Sandro Botticelli
A Young Man Being Introduced to the Seven Liberal Arts by Sandro Botticelli (1483-1486). The meaning of the fresco is the introduction to “true knowledge,” as it was understood by the humanists of the Platonic Academy under the influence of the teachings of Marsilio Ficino (Image: Public Domain)

A couple of months ago Russian President Vladimir Putin, during an interview with the Financial Times, in contempt for liberal democracy in America said that liberalism has become obsolete [and] outlived its purpose [since] it has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.” This echoed what Vladimir Lenin used to say about democratic governments — they were “historically obsolete” and predicted that it was just a matter of time before they disappeared. President Donald Trump concurred with his Russian counterpart by criticizing the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, which he said are “sad to look at” because they are “run by extraordinary group of liberal people.”

At first glance, who would disagree that today’s “liberals,” i.e., those associated with the American center-left Democratic Party are not destroying the fabric of society, spefically the institution of the family, with their socialist, abortion, and LGTB policies? Putin would appear to have a point on how liberalism has depleted us from the exercise of conscience, i.e., the judgment of the practical intellect deciding, from general principles of faith and reason, as well as government being able to act and legislate accordingly. That is not, however, what the former KGB colonel meant, especially in light that he has rolled back on human rights, such as freedom of speech and peaceful assembly of the people, to say nothing of the Russian Federation having one of the highest abortion rates in the world since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Liberalism, first and foremost, is the political and moral philosophy that emerged from the theories of John Locke, specifically his Second Treatise on Government, which is to provide people the right to be free from the control of a tyrannical or corrupt government. Its goal is individual freedom, i.e., the faculty to exercise the self-evident truths in “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is the foundation upon which the American Founding Fathers built and what Abraham Lincoln called government of the people, by the people, for the people. This is in contrast to neo-liberalism, which is solely concerned with advancing the individual interests of the propertied and the shareholder. It is unconcerned with the common good for it is against every form of virtue and happiness; it gives way to austerity and the legal recognition of promiscuity as human rights.

Russian liberalism, if it ever existed, generally emphasized the importance of legality in government and the state’s positive role as guarantor of civil liberty. Any gradual achievement of social justice through reform was shaped by circumstances: it evolved in response to challenges and developed within changing institutional and international settings.

Putin’s criticism of American democracy is pretentious at best, sustaining that the people are not heard. Hence, his scorn for the US electoral college system pointing out that as a result more than once the would-be winner, despite winning the popular vote, lost the bid to become president. What the Russian autocrat and others fail to admit that the core beliefs of classical liberals did not necessarily include  government by a majority vote by citizens, which is why the Father of the US Constitution James Madison argued for a constitutional republic with protections for individual liberty over a pure democracy. The reason was that in a pure democracy a “passion or interest of will, in almost every case, [would] be felt by a majority of the whole […] and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party.” The electoral college, as an example of a constitutional republic, gives the same voice and vote to states that do not have highly populated cities, as opposed to those that do. The purpose was to prevent such big states, which normally think homogeneously from becoming despotic — if this is not a true sense of democracy, what would be? Perhaps this is why he took it upon himself to interfere in the 2016 US presidential elections as Donald Trump publicly admitted.

Trump’s affinity for Vladimir Putin, unfortunately, as his proclaimed great friendship” with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, has helped subvert true liberalism to populist dictators, such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and now Brazil’s Jair Bolosnaro who have consequently legitimized their anti-liberal agendas — what is meant by populist dictators are both outright dictatorships, in which despite being elected to office, the opposition no longer has a realistic chance of changing the government through elections, and competitive authoritarian regimes, in which elections retain real significance even though the opposition is forced to fight on a highly uneven playing field.

They also tend to share the same romance with Putin’s Russia which springs not just from practical ties of support but a shared conservative reaction against liberalism, globalization, multiculturalism. In the words of the scholar Alina Polyakova, they see Putin “as a staunch defender of national sovereignty and conservative values who has challenged US influence and the idea of ‘Europe’ in a way that mirrors their own convictions.” The most recent example of this was the announcement of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend parliament in order to allow a “no deal” Brexit — I have my critiques of the European Union, especially their eradication of our Christian roots, in lieu of political Islam and the suppression of free speech.

Putin who does not have to worry about political opponents or criticism from the state-controlled press as he has periodically are arrested, harassed, and even murdered journalists and opposing politicians by agents of the state. Columnist and historian Anne Applebaum says: “That’s what happens when you don’t have the rules and practices of a liberal society to protect them. It’s a world that is more comfortable for despots and dictators, and it’s unsurprising that Putin prefers it.” The shrewd and relentless assault of a resurgent Russian authoritarian state and both its ascending global influence and acceptance by populist dictators, puts the future of liberal democracy in the world squarely where Vladimir Putin wants it: in doubt and on the defensive.

 

The Prophet Muhammad and the Challenge in Promoting a Moderate Islam

Jihadist quoting the Quran.
Jihadist quoting the Quran. (Photo: Yonkers Tribune)

Winston Churchill once said, “Individual Moslems [sic] may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it.” Islam and how it is observed by Muslims is almost exclusively based on the Prophet Muhammad’s life. All Muslims are conditioned by him because in both the Quran and Islamic tradition, he is the example par excellence of behavior for everyone to follow. His words and deeds are agreed upon by all Muslims as identifying Islam, since he was faithful to Allah’s will as dictated in the Quran: And “[h]e who obeys the Messenger [Muhammad], obeys Allah.” (Sura 4, 80) Allah established in the life of the Prophet Muhammad general, eternal, and all-inclusive characteristics, and he gave every human being the possibility to imitate him and take his life as a model.

According to Muqtedar Khan of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, in the history of the human race, “no religious leader has as much influence on his followers as does Muhammad..… So much so that the words, deeds and silences (that which he saw and did not forbid) of Muhammad became an independent source of Islamic law. Muslims, as part of religious observance, not only obey, but also seek to emulate and imitate their Prophet in every aspect of life. Thus, Muhammad is the medium as well as a source of the divine law.”

Robert Spencer says: “If the jihadists are correct in invoking his example to justify their deeds, then Islamic reformers will need to initiate a respectful but searching re-evaluation of the place Muhammad occupies within Islam.” The problem is that the Quran hardly offers anything on Muhammad’s life itself. On the contrary: it does not show us the Prophet from the outside at all, but rather takes us inside his head, where Allah is speaking to him, telling him what to preach, how to react to people who poke fun at him, what to say to his supporters, and so on.” In other words, we perceive the original Muslim society through Muhammad’s eyes, and the elusive style of the Quran makes it difficult to put facts into perspective. And as far as the hadiths — the sayings and acts of Muhammad — are concerned, it would be superfluous even attempting to resolve their many disparities.

One can then argue that the fundamentalists and other Islamists may wrongly be justifying their positions. All this being said, there is confusion as to who speaks for Islam and how Islamic law (the sharia) is to be employed, especially in light of the Sunni-Shi’ite division. Nevertheless, the manner in which both physical and cultural jihadists invoke their legal tenets in order to justify their jihad leads one to confirm that their indiscriminate acts are sanctioned by the Islamic texts: 

[Remember] when you asked help of your Lord, and He answered you, “Indeed, I will reinforce you with a thousand from the angels, following one another … I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip. That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger—indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.” — Sura 8, 9; 12–13

Imitating the Prophet could be as innocuous as wearing a full beard or entering a mosque with the right foot, as recorded by the hadiths. The dilemma is that the adherents of Islam cannot subjectively pick and choose, for once they declare that Muhammad is the messenger of God — as per the profession of faith contained in the shahada — they affirm that everything he did was good because it was in furtherance of Allah’s cause. While some of the deeds of the Prophet are considered criminal in the West, they are presented in Islamic biographical works as pious. 

Incidents in the life of an Arab conqueror, in this case Muhammad, the tales of raiding, private assassinations and public executions, perpetual enlargements of the harem and so forth, might be historically explicable and therefore pardonable. It is another matter that they should be taken as a setting forth of the moral ideal for all time.

Muslim apologists have become defensive at the accusations from the West that Islam is to blame for terror acts carried out by Islamists as well as labeling Islam as an evil religion and Muhammad as a Prophet of violence and sexual promiscuity. However, they have not been able to fully explain otherwise, partly because there have not been any profound studies on Muhammad sufficient enough to exonerate him as a promoter of violence, misogyny, or even the pedophilia: Aisha reported that Allah’s Apostle married her when she was seven years old, and she was taken to his house as a bride when she was nine, and her dolls were with her; and when he [the Holy Prophet] died she was eighteen years old.” — Sahih Muslim, Book 8, hadith 3311

Former UN Undersecretary for Legal Affairs and Legal Counsel Hans Corell indicated that part of this dual problem is that a given few who exercise and exert power over the many tend not to look at their own record on human rights. “There is a tendency among some [Islamic] States to criticize others for not respecting international rules on human rights. Unfortunately, this criticism is often all too well founded but in order for a State to criticize others with legitimacy, that State must pay attention to its own observance of human rights.”

This opportune shift from moral absolutism to moral relativism is both fickle and troubling. If it is wrong to condemn practices we hold to be immoral in Arabia and in the rest of the Muslim world, then it is out of line for Muslims to judge the Christian disciplines or democratic principles of our culture. But if condemning immoral observances is acceptable for Islamic apologists, then they need a better response to criticisms of the Prophet’s killings, raids, and sexual practices, especially since he is the ideal pattern of conduct for Muslims and is considered to be morally infallible.

It is both duplicitous and oblique to promote human rights while holding that if marrying a girl at six or seven years of age and consummating marriage with her at nine — as Muhammad did with Aisha when he was in his 50s — was acceptable in seventh-century Arabia, it is perfectly fine in today’s society. This is precisely why this pedophile practice continues in certain Muslim countries today. And yet, most Western leaders and Christian officials refrain from criticizing such observances out of respect for Islamic culture, holding that it can coexist with ours. Culture, however, is supposed to create harmony and foster human development, not suppress them. Until there is a re-examining of the Islamic texts, putting them into exegetical and historical context, there can be no moderation of Islam nor can it coexist with Western culture. If, however, there is a reformation of the texts, and if the person Muhammad of is consequently restructured, it then can be a part of our civilisation, but it would no longer be Islam.

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N. B. Quotations can be found  in my book Islam: Religion of Peace? The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up, unless otherwise noted.

Is Boko Haram a CIA Covert Op to Divide and Conquer Africa?

Leader of  Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau (Photo: NBC News)

In 2015 then-President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir — now in prison — said that the fight against jihadist extremism must engage militants on an ideological level, and not solely concentrate on military action against them. He also claimed the CIA, which had backed him until his deposition early this year, (and Israel’s Mossad) were behind the Islamist militant groups Boko Haram and ISIS. If true, what would then have been the motive behind such covert operations?

While one can dismiss this as an unfounded conspiracy theory,  if one looks at the history of American presence and intervention in Africa, they are not there to exclusively fight Islamic terrorism. US objectives apparently are to influence and control strategic locations and natural resources including oil reserves. This was confirmed more than eight years ago by the US State Department: In 2007 US State Department advisor Dr. John Peter Pham commented on AFRICOM’s (United States Africa Command) strategic objectives of “protecting access to hydrocarbons and other strategic resources which Africa has in abundance, a task which includes ensuring against the vulnerability of those natural riches and ensuring that no other interested third parties, such as China, India, Japan, or Russia, obtain monopolies or preferential treatment.”

This would not have been the first time the US government, or any other Western nation, has clandestinely sought to manipulate people in a third world country, such Nigeria in order to exploit their natural resources. In 1974, in what was the NSSM-200 (also known as the Kissinger Report —  now declassified) the US National Security Council under then-US Secretary of State and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger falsely claimed that population growth in the so-called Lesser Developed Countries — thirteen nations including Nigeria — was a grave threat to American national security. In what was none other than a food genocide program, Kissinger, in order to confront his alleged threat, proposed to implement birth control and related population-reduction programs. Another measure was curtailing food supplies to targeted states, in part to force compliance with birth control policies. Mark P. Fancher of the Global Research Center holds that the continues to be a hypocrisy and “imperialist arrogance” of western countries, which “notwithstanding the universal condemnation of colonialism,” are evermore willing “to publicly declare (without apologies) their plans to expand and coordinate their military presence in Africa.”

The war against Boko Haram is reminiscent of the failed Kony 2012 propaganda cloaked in humanitarian ideals — from 1986-2009 in northern Uganda, Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army kidnapped tens of thousands of children and youth for use as soldiers and sex slaves, while displacing more than a million people into camps. Fancher argues that US-led military campaigns are used as a smoke screen to avoid addressing the issue of the victims of the war on terror and the real causes of terrorism in order to justify another military invasion. It is true that Boko Haram makes victims, however the goal of Western intervention in Africa is not to come to their rescue, just as the CIA operations in Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s; the goal was the commerce of opium.

Risultati immagini per cia and boko haram
Territory encircled in red indicates Boko Haram’s main ground (Image: Public Domain)

Boko Haram is based in northeast Nigeria where the largest economy in Africa is to be found. Nigeria is the largest oil producer of the continent with 3.4% of the world’s  reserves of crude oil. In May 2014 African Renaissance News published an in-depth report on Boko Haram, wondering whether it could be another CIA covert operation to take control of Nigeria. It claimed that the greatest prize for AFRICOM and its goal to plant a Pax Americana in Africa would occur when it succeeds in the most strategic African country, Nigeria. This is where the raging issue of Boko Haram and the widely reported prediction by the United States Intelligence Council on the disintegration of Nigeria by 2015 comes into perspective.

In the 1970’s and 1980’s Nigeria assisted several African countries in clear opposition and defiance to the interests of the US and its western allies which resulted in a setback for Western initiatives in Africa at the time. Nigeria exerted its influence in the region through the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG), an army consisting of soldiers from various African countries and set up by the Economic Community of West African States and which intervened in the Liberian civil war in the 1990’s.

The Western powers, first and foremost the US, are obviously not willing to let Africans have a multinational army in which they have no leading role. The Africa Crisis Response Initiative — a US Defense Department that supported a training initiative intended to enhance the capacity of selected African militaries to respond effectively to peacekeeping or humanitarian relief operations on the continent — which later became AFRICOM, was formed in 2000 to contain Nigeria’s influence and counter ECOMOG, thus avoiding the emergence of an African military force led by Africans.

According to Wikileaks reports, the US embassy in Nigeria has served as an operating base for wide and far reaching acts of subversion against Nigeria which include but are not limited to eavesdropping on Nigerian government communication, financial espionage on leading Nigerians, support and funding of subversive groups and insurgents, sponsoring of divisive propaganda among the disparate groups of Nigeria and the use of visa blackmail to induce and coerce high ranking Nigerians into acting in favor of US interests.

Reports also indicate that some Nigerian commanders may be involved in fueling the insurgency. According to the report, a Nigerian soldier in Borno state confirmed that Boko Haram attacked Gamboru Ngala in their presence but their commander asked them not to repel the attack. The soldier told BBC Hausa Service that choppers hovered in the air while the attacks were ongoing. Three hundred people were killed, houses and a market burnt while soldiers watched and were ordered not to render assistance to those being attacked. The soldier said that the Boko Haram insurgency will end when superior officers in the army cease to fuel it. At the abductions of Chibok girls in 2014, one soldier in an interview told Sahara Reporters, “…we were ordered to arrest vehicles carrying the girls but just as we started the mission, another order was issued that we should pull back. I can assure you, nobody gave us any directives to look for anybody.”

Despite such reports, the mainstream media will once again try to convince us that what the world needs most at the moment is to get rid of the terrorist group Boko Haram and that a military intervention is the only solution, even though the so-called war on terror has actually increased terrorism globally. As Washington’s Blog pointed out in 2013, “global terrorism had been falling from 1992 until 2004… but has been skyrocketing since 2004.”

What the mainstream media fails to mention is that groups, including Boko Haram and the Islamic State, have been, in one way or another, armed, trained and financed, just as the Mujahideen, the forefathers of al-Qaeda, in Afghanistan, by the US and allies like the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. Thanks to the covert support of Western countries, arms dealers and bankers profiting from killing and destruction, the war on terror is alive and well. The West advocates for endless military interventions, pretending to ignore the real causes of terrorism and the reason why it expands, hiding its role in it and thereby clearly showing its real intent: fuelling terrorism to destabilize and destroy nations, thus justifying military invasion and achieving their conquest of the African continent’s richest lands under the pretext of saving the world from terror.

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I invite you to take a look at my book Islam: Religion of Peace? — The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up

The “Unknown” Christian Genocide in Nigeria

christian persecution christianity nigeria news
Remains of burnt down by Boko Haram Islamists fighters (Image: AUDU MARTE/AFP/Getty Images)

Most of us in the West have heard of the kidnapping of 276 female students were from the Government Secondary School in the town of Chibok in Borno  State, (northeast) Nigeria in 2014 by Boko Haram. One of the goals of Boko Haram — which has kidnapped thousands of girls, boys and women, forcing some of them to blow themselves up, killed thousands of others and displaced millions — is to stop children receiving what it perceives as western-style education. What has been generally missing by such reports is their overall end, as with other Islamists, to eradicate Christians in order to impose a sharia-based society.

Christian persecution in Nigeria, which can be traced back to the Sokoto caliphate (1804-1903), has surged since 2015 when Muhammadu Buhari was elected president. The late-Catholic bishop Joseph Bagobiri of the Diocese of Kafanchan (northwest Nigeria which has had  sharia law since 1999) had stated“The persecution of Christians in Nigeria is not given anything like the same level of international attention as persecuted Christians in the Middle East.” A most recent example of this — unreported by the Western mainstream media — was the killing of Father Paul Offu (southern Nigeria) at the hands of the Islamic Fulani herdsmen the 1st of the month. This let the former Nigerian president, Olusegun Obasanjo, to write an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, warning him of the risk of a “Rwandan-style genocide” of Christians in Nigeria if the government does not take immediate measures to stop the violence — Buhari has yet to have condemned the Fulani militants as terrorists since he stems from the same tribe. What can be surmised is that this is all part of a well-organized operation to exterminate Christians altogether.

Last month I had the opportunity to visit the persecuted Christians from Muslim fundamentalists, specifically Boko Haram, in the Catholic Diocese of Maiduguri (northeast Nigeria). As I traveled through the mostly 51,000 square mile terrain — in the outskirts of the city of Maiduguri — I spent some time with a woman whose husband, Yohanna, had been kidnapped by Boko Haram just two days prior. She was very much comforted by the parishioners of her parish of St. Augustine, who were praying and hoping against hope that he would be released. Regrettably, just hours after spending some time with her, Yohanna’s dead body was found. Like Offu’s murder, this is just one of many tragic stories that go unreported. While the US-led west and NGOs hold they can drive out Islamic terrorism with arms — just as with ISIS — they fail to get at the root of the problem, and that is the sharia ideology that continues to be indoctrinated in the youth, as with the Almajiri boys.

IMG_3391.jpeg
An Almajiri boy in Borno State (Photo: Author’s personal collection)

Derived from the word “hajarah” (to flee one’s country, to migrate, to emigrate), these boys are supposed to be “knowledge” seekers as commanded by Allah in the Quran: “And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many [alternative] locations and abundance. And whoever leaves his home as an emigrant to Allah and His Messenger and then death overtakes him — his reward has already become incumbent upon Allah.” — Sura 4, 100

For many families, the Almajiri system is an alternative to sending them to a state school which costs money. Most of the religious schools provide free tuition. But the Almajiri pupils have to take care of their own daily needs which is why many of them go begging when they do not have to be in the classroom. According to the National Council for the Welfare of Destitute report in 2017, approximately 7 million Almajiri roam the streets of northern Nigeria every day. Many of them concede to the strongest wind that blows: street violence, child trafficking, diseases, or hunger. Those who manage to resist their vulnerability and grievances within the society remain unskilled, and ultimately undertake menial jobs with very limited future perspectives. Critics, both from Nigeria and abroad, say the young Almajiri pupils — and I encountered numerous of them — who wander through the streets and seek religious orientation are ideal recruits for extremists. 

Of course, within the past few years, some of the victims to Boko Haram and the Fulani nomads have been Muslims. However, when the destruction of lives and property is done and it comes to rehabilitation/reconstruction and rebuilding of lives, government funds are used to rehabilitate Muslim communities and compensate Muslims, meanwhile Christians are left out and discriminated upon. Some of the visible and practical forms of persecution and challenges that Christians have learnt how to live with for decades include:

  • denial of land to build places of worship (churches). The last time that a Certificate of Occupancy was issued for a church building within the Diocese of Maiduguri was in 1979;
  • denial of Christian religious curricula in the primary and secondary levels; instead they are forced to study Islam.
  • denial of jobs and promotion in government parastatals;
  • political exclusion and denial of political office;
  • forceful abduction and marriage of Christian girls;
  • reserved courses for Muslims in higher institutions of learning.

 

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Temporary shelter for Christians – Many of them widows and orphans as a result of Boko Haram (Photo: Author’s personal collection)

As the Father John Bakeni, a priest from Maiduguri, told me, the persecution of Christians is prevalent. “About four years ago, they came to us. There was no place for them to stay. Nobody wanted to take them in, not even the housing communities. The diocese has been solely responsible for their welfare and their upkeep. Like other displacement centers, they have received little or no attention from the government. Not even NGOs of Christian roots and origin. People don’t want us to say this in public, but that is the fact.”

The Bishop of Maiduguri, the Most. Rev. Oliver Dashe Doeme, in addition to taking in the victims of Islamism, has also purchased land to set up clinics, not just for his own faithful, but for anyone who is in dire need of medical attention, in addition to rebuilding churches and parish schools to educate the youth. The needs are costly, yet the spirit the Nigerian Christians is strong, not just to persevere in their faith but to help restore peace and stability in Nigeria.

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Will President Trump Intervene to Save Christians in Syria?

Young Syrian Christians outside the Marinite Cathedral in Damascus. (Photo: Louis Beshera/AFP/Getty Images  

A new Syria is continually emerging from the rubble of war. In Homs, which Syrians once dubbed the “capital of the revolution” against President Bashar al-Assad, the Muslim quarter and commercial district still lie in ruins, but the Christian quarter is reviving. Churches have been lavishly restored; a large crucifix hangs over the main street. “Groom of Heaven”, proclaims a billboard featuring a photo of a Christian soldier killed in the seven-year conflict.

His Holiness Archbishop Hanna Atallah Hanna, the Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem with President Bashar al-Assad, August 14, 2017. (Photo: Public Domain)

According US Senator Richard Balck: “President Al Assad is protecting the Christians not just in Syria but elsewhere in the Middle East too, and he does not consider Christians just as a “minority” but rather an important and integral part of the Syrian society.” Even His Holiness Archbishop Hanna Atallah Hanna, the Archbishop of Sebastia from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, August 14, 2017, stated: “The restoration of the Christian Churches, destroyed by terrorism in Syria, is ongoing under the personal care, follow up by President Bashar Al-Assad. I salute His Excellency and do appreciate his steadfastness, courage and ability to withstand the ongoing crisis in Syria. During the past few years Christians have suffered a lot but thanks to President al-Assad there is hope now as was also seen in Ma’aloula where wounds are slowly healing.” Yet two thousand years of Christianity in Syria could be wiped out by the very forces Western governments are supporting, as Anglican Rev. Andrew Ashdown has stated.

Homs, for example, like all of the cities recaptured by the government, now belongs mostly to Syria’s victorious minorities: Christians, Shias and Alawites (an esoteric offshoot of Shia Islam from which Assad hails). These groups banded together against the rebels, who are nearly all Sunni, and chased them out of the cities. Sunni civilians, once a large majority, followed. More than half of the country’s population of 22 million has been displaced — 6.5 million inside Syria and over 6m abroad. Most are Sunnis.

Ashdown and other on-hand clergy, including Middle East expert Dr. Erica Hunter, have been criticized, especially for their visit to Syria April of last year, which took place hours after British, French and American pilots carried out an airstrike on alleged chemical weapons facilities run by  President Assad. The airstrike, near Homs, was ordered in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack — never proven to the public — and was backed by EU foreign ministers.

As reported by the Clarion Project, American troops and approximately 100,000 Christians are endangered by a pending Turkish attack on northeastern Syria. The situation has prompted a Christian self-defense force to beg the American army for protection.

A partner of the Christian force, the Syriac Military Council, sent a message to Clarion Project asking for help. The SMC’s public statement says: “We urge the Christians in the U.S. to ask that the U.S. Army that is present in North-East Syria will not allow the Turkish army and jihadists to invade North-East Syria. Will the U.S. Army stand by idly while we are killed?”

Aram Hanna, the commander of the Syriac Military Council, told the Clarion Project that the SMC is 3,000-strong (including its police branch named Sutoro). It also includes a Christian female unit as well as Christians identifying as Syriacs, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Aremenians. The Christians fought in the campaign against ISIS, including the Battle of Raqqa.

The force expects to be targeted for destruction by the Turkish military and its jihadist proxies, putting the entire Christian population in the area “under direct threat.” According to Sanharib Barsoum, the deputy head of the Syriac Union Party in Syria: “We don’t consider these [Turkish] threats to be against Kurds only. It is a threat against this democratic project, and all the people who live east of the Euphrates, including Christians.” The deputy head said recent threats by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has “created fear among the Christian people” in Syria’s north.

The exact number of US troops in Syria is classified, but it is significantly less than the 2,200 that were there in December when President Trump unexpectedly announced a complete withdrawal from Syria after taking a phone call from Erdogan. (That announcement caused Secretary of Defense James Mattis to resign in protest.)

Trump later changed course, agreeing to temporarily leave a minimal force of 400 U.S. troops to maintain the fight against ISIS. The British and French agreed to send troops to Syria, and there are unconfirmed reports of troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates arriving. Trump also tweeted at the time (January 2019) that the United States “will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds.”

In addition to the threat to US troops, our allies and persecuted Christians, there are major national security consequences if Turkey is not stopped:

  • ISIS will very likely to able to rebound;
  • Turkey will eliminate the U.S.’only ally in Syria;
  • Turkey will be strengthened as will Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman aspirations of creating a Turkish caliphate with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood;
  • Iran will be strengthened;
  • A Turkish victory will be a major ideological defeat for the West.
A group of coalition forces, including the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) Women's Protection Units (YPJ) and the Syriac Christian movement in Syria (Photo: DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A group of coalition forces, including the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and the Syriac Christian movement in Syria (Photo: DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The ideological war with Islamism cannot be won solely by defeating Islamist terrorists. It requires the success of ideologies that are not at war with the West and against Islamism. The autonomous Kurdish areas of Syria and Iraq have the potential to put Islamism on life support. The Syriac Military Council has repeatedly asked President Trump for help. Now, it is focusing on the American public — especially the American church — to try to influence his decision-making.

Erdogan just angered President Trump by buying the Russian S-300 air defense system, causing Trump to follow through on his promise to cancel the scheduled delivery of the American F-35 combat aircraft to Turkey. Before that, Trump placed sanctions on Turkish officials until they released the American pastor Andrew Brunson in November. Now, Turkey is preparing to crush our best ally in Syria, endanger the lives of 100,000 Christians, and put US, British, and French troops at risk. President Trump must be alerted to what is about to happen before it is too late.

Click here to write to the White House and tell President Trump not to abandon our allies in Syria and hand a victory (and massacre) to Turkey. Or, you can call the White House at  202-456-1111.

The US Peace Treaty with the Taliban – Who’s to Lose?

Taliban fighters and local residents celebrate the ceasefire on the second day of Eid in the outskirts of Jalalabad on June 16,2018.
Taliban fighters and local residents celebrate the ceasefire on the second day of Eid in the outskirts of Jalalabad on June 16,2018. NOORULLAH SHIRZADA/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

This past week a series of attacks rocked Afghanistan Thursday, killing at least 58 people, including 38 members of Afghan security forces — three blasts in eastern Kabul on July 25 left at least 10 dead, including five women while 41 others were wounded — as the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph F Dunford, Jr., met with Afghan officials in a renewed momentum in peace efforts to put an end to the country’s nearly 18-year war.

Violence in Afghanistan has intensified in recent weeks as both Afghan forces and Taliban militants attempt to increase their leverage in ongoing peace talks. During State of the Union Address, President Donald Trump stated negotiations for peace with the Taliban were underway to facilitate a pullout of US troops from Afghanistan. It is something he said he would never do a year ago. Yet many Afghans worry that Trump’s desire to pull American troops from Afghanistan will override doubts about the Taliban’s sincerity. Early in the talks, Hamdullah Mohib, national security adviser to Afghan Predient Ashraf Ghani, said counting on the Taliban to control other militants could be like “having cats guard the milk.”

Phyllis Chesler, author of American Bride in Kabul, recently said: “I do fear for the Afghan people — particularly women and young girls — if and when America leaves, especially those who have shown so much courage in standing up for themselves against incredible odds.”

From the 1920s when Queen Soraya (wife of King Amanullah) pushed for changes to improve women’s lives and their position in the family, to the early 1970s, Afghan women were able to exercise some rights. As the wife of the king, Soraya fought to prohibit the wearing of the veil and the observance of polygamy. Women and girls were encouraged to get an education, and not just those in the capital city of Kabul, but also in the countryside.

Notwithstanding the violent protests by the country’s religious sects which forced the king to abdicate the throne in 1929 and go into exile, women maintained a certain amount of freedom, at least some by Western standards. Yet even as late as the 1960s in many secluded areas of Afghanistan, polygamy, child marriage and honor killing were practiced, and women were forced to wear the burqa.

Women in burqas in present-day Afghanistan (right); women in Kabul in 1970s (left) – (Photo: India Today)

When the Soviet Union invaded the country in 1979 in response to US covert operations in the region [which had been well in place for six months to overthrow the Communist People’s Republic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA)], women still enjoyed certain rights. Co-ed education was introduced in elementary schools by the PDPA and women were able to teach.

This began to change when the U.S. government backed the drug-trafficking Mujahideen— the forerunners of the Taliban — to oust the PDPA. (There is actual video footage showing then-US National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski directly inciting the Mujahadeen rebels in Pakistan.)

Watch Brzezinski Taliban Pakistan Afghanistan pep talk to Mujahadeed Islamists

As US drug adviser to President Carter, David Musto, said, because “we [went] into Afghanistan to support the opium growers,” moderate Sufi leaders in the countryside were replaced by radical ones. This was due to massive financial support from agents of the Pakistani Inter-Services, funds that came from both the United States and Saudi Arabia, which were allocated toward jihadist ends.

According to Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway of The Washington Post, “The United States spent millions of dollars to supply Afghan schoolchildren with textbooks filled with violent images and militant Islamic teachings, part of covert attempts to spur resistance to the Soviet occupation. The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then as the Afghan school system’s core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books, though the radical movement scratched out human faces in keeping with its strict fundamentalist code.”

Nevertheless, because of the Afghan Women’s Council, Afghan women were able to maintain some rights, which were altogether eradicated once the Taliban took over the reins of government in 1996. Women seeking an education were forced to attend underground schools, where they and their teachers risked execution if caught.

Women were denied medical treatment for illnesses if a male chaperone did not accompany them. They were also publicly beaten if their burqas slipped or if an ankle or a strand of hair showed. They were stoned to death for “adultery” when raped. Women were even forbidden to laugh loudly as it was considered improper for a stranger to hear a woman’s voice.

Trump’s reasons for wanting the US to leave Afghanistan are not just understandable but legitimate. Over 2,400 American soldiers have been killed and approximately 20,320 wounded, not to mention the trillions of dollars spent in an 18-year campaign with no end in sight. And there are approximately 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, stationed in Afghanistan as part of the US-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some Yet, while America did not initiate this socio-political chaos, it provoked it in its support of radical Islamists.

When the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, as Chesler points out, it was not to defend the helpless women but to kill Osama bin Laden. In fact, America remained silent when Afghan President Hamad Karzai, in an effort to appease the Shi’ite minority, approved Article 132 of the Civil Code, which specified that a woman is legally required to yield to her husband’s sexual requests.

Afghan women wear masks of 27 year-old Farkhunda who was beaten to death by a mob after being falsely accused of burning a Quran, during a protest held by the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan at the site of the attack in Kabul, Monday, July 6, 2015.
Afghan women wear masks of 27 year-old Farkhunda who was beaten to death by a mob after being falsely accused of burning a Quran, during a protest held by the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan at the site of the attack in Kabul, Monday, July 6, 2015.
Haroon Sabawoon—Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Despite President George W. Bush declaring victory in the country in 2004, Afghanistan today remains divided, corrupt, volatile and a haven for terrorists. The Taliban maintains its grip on almost 60 percent of the country, the most territory it has controlled since 2001. As in all war-torn societies, women suffer disproportionately. Afghanistan is still ranks the worst place in the world to be a woman. Despite Afghan government and international donor efforts since 2001 to educate girls, an estimated two-thirds of Afghan girls do not attend school. Eighty-seven percent of Afghan women are illiterate, while 70-80 percent face forced marriage, many before the age of 16. A September watchdog report called the USAID’s $280 million Promote program – billed the largest single investment that the U.S. government has ever made to advance women’s rights globally – a flop and a waste of taxpayer’s money.

Yet, forging a peace treaty with the Taliban is just as bad as brokering one with ISIS or Boko Haram. If the US does, in fact, reach an agreement with the Taliban and pull out of the country, to say nothing of restarting religious freedom and stability for the country, what assurances will be made for the rights of the women and girls?

N. B. I invite you to take a look at my book Islam: Religion of Peace? The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up. Everything you wanted to know about Islam so as to better defend ourselves is in it!

How will Islam Take Over the West

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Muslims praying in front of U.S. House of Representatives. Muslims also pray inside congress, delivering
opening prayers to Allah for the Congress men and women who represent the American people. (Photo: Getty Images)

Many in the West today are grappling as to how Islam has been able to get a foothold in our society. We know of Islamists’ present-day means to get government officials to capitulate to their whims through lobbying and the mainstream media, presenting themselves as victims of the same Western society that has helped them. But how have they been able to acquire such political leverage? Apparently, there has been a willful lack of circumspection or foresightedness of this to come. Back in the 1970s, the late-Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre had said: “As long a Muslims are an insignificant minority in a Christian country, they can live on friendly terms, because they accept the laws and customs of the country that receives them. But as soon as they become numerous and organize, they become aggressive and try to impose their laws, which are hostile to [Western] civilization.”

Protagonists, such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar — both pretentious allies of the United States — have been able to forge or manipulate situations, as it did with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, and now with the terrorist Iranian regime. Getting politicians and the mainstream media to give them prime-time and “exclusive” attention — the same can be said of the Trump-Ilhan Omar polemics — has distracted us from confronting the true Islamic threat. In other words, they have successfully molded a quasi-invincible ignorance into people, leading them to believe that the threat of Islam is only in some far-off distant land, as with the Sri Lankan suicide bombings this year, which killed at least 290 and injuring 500 others. And whenever there is a terrorist act committed by a Muslim in the Western home front or against Westerners in a foreign land, such as the Benghazi (Libya) attacks of September 11, 2012, that killed the US ambassador and three others, officials are quick to downplay them as isolated cases. As Ayaan Hirsi Ali explained, because of the West’s obsession with terror we have become blind to the broader threat of the dawa, (Islamic proselytizing): the ideology behind the terror attacks, — and what drives numerous Muslims to Islamize us.

One opening given to Islamists has been the educational field. Saudi money, for example has financed institutions alongside multitudes of other Islamic organizations across the world and within the United States (80 percent of 1,200 mosques operating in the United States were built after 2003). Qatar’s equal vision for America is being peddled through our children’s classrooms, targeting a pliable population and one with a long shelf life. Beyond its media empires and bought-off D.C. influencers and think tanks, and Saudi Arabia are both setting their sights on the next generation of Americans.

Another powerful tool has been the mass immigration of Muslims and the low fertility of Westerners. As of 2017, there are about 1.8 billion Muslims in the world, according to the Pew Research Center; together, they make up nearly one-fourth of the world’s population, making Islam the world’s second largest religion after Christianity. Within the second half of this century, Muslims are expected to become the world’s largest religious group. The Pew Research Center estimates that by 2070, Islam will overtake Christianity, due to faster birth rate (2.7 children per family vs. 2.2 for Christian families).

Islam, since its foundation, has always been transnational as it spread across the world when the nation-state and national identity were at best inchoate and more often non-existent. This has impelled many Muslims, regardless of their views of democracy, to utilize the democratic instruments of pluralism and freedom of expression to insert themselves in society with the goal of propagating Islam at the expense of others. Reading the collapse of Western demographics, Islamists see our century as the time to make their move if they are going to have a realistic opportunity to Islamize the West. While a key strategy to arrive at this has been immigration, a more effective weapon, as already indicated, has been the multiplication of the progeny in apposition to the demographic collapse.

According to some experts, a reason for the latter given is that millennials are not having or postponing having children because of financial strains. Yet those with a family income of less than $10,000 had a birth rate of almost 50 percent higher than for those with family incomes of $200,000 or higher. As Jeremy Carl, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution explains, “The lack of commitment of middle-class and wealthy Americans to having and parenting their own children goes hand in hand with our elite’s casual approach to other issues – in particular, mass immigration.” The understanding that we can simply import foreigners to make up for the child-rearing job we have refused to do ourselves completely ignores the cultural, civic and economic impacts of immigration – as well as the impacts to ourselves when we bring in foreign adults as a substitute for raising our own children. In any case, in 1970 there were one hundred thousand Muslims in America; today there are nearly four million.

With most popular name for babies born in both Belgium and Berlin in 2018 being Muhammad, it is reflective of what former Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi stated in 2006: “We have 50 million Muslims in Europe. There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe – without swords, without guns, without conquest – will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.”

Perhaps this is why President Erdogan told his fellow Muslim-Turks who are already living in Europe Europe: “Have not just three but five children.” Aside from the observance of polygamous marriages, the fact that Muslims for the most part do not practice abortion or artificial contraception increases the child rate per family. Since the birth rate in the West is low in comparison, Muslims are inevitably geared to taking over. At this rate, it may just be just a matter of a few generations before this also happens in America.

All this being said, when the US-led West continues to adamantly support rogue regimes like Saudi Arabia, which, aside their public beheadings and public display of the beheaded corpses (salb), according to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Arab human rights organizations, has jailed hundreds — if not thousands — of peaceful activists, bloggers, lawyers, judges, journalists, and religious scholars since the Arab Spring of 2011; or Qatar whose penal code does not criminalize domestic violence or marital rape, it is a no-brainer that unless there is a sudden and substantial change, the Islamization of our society may happen sooner than later.

 

Illegal Immigration – What is the Crisis About and How to Solve it

Risultati immagini per illegal immigrants
Photo: Getty Images

As campaigning for the 2020 election ramps up, President Donald Trump has continued to focus on immigration as a key issue, calling the number of migrants at the southern border a national security crisis. Since he began his campaign in 2015 Trump has insisted — and based a good deal of his agenda — on the notion that illegal immigrants are causing a massive crime wave: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Trump Administration is preparing a new rule that would dramatically limit the ability of refugees to seek asylum at the US border with Mexico and will likely face immediate court challenges. Under the rule, rule, with limited exceptions refugees seeking asylum would have to do so in a third country through which they transited, rather than at the US border. This comes after Congress passing a $4.6 billion bill in June to address the ongoing crisis at the border, amid growing outrage over the conditions. But while the number of apprehensions at the border has been rising over the last two years, the number of illegal immigrants, by the time Trump became president, had already been declining; and the number of undocumented immigrants in the US is decreasing, according to new analysis from the Pew Research Center -— this is disputed by Foreign Affairs in have risen dramatically since then, reaching a 13-year high of 133,000 in May. Yet in addition, according to Michael Light, a criminologist at the University of Wisconsin, who looked at whether the soaring increase in illegal immigration over the last three decades caused a commensurate jump in violent crimes: murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, results showed that there has not necessarily been in increase in crime.  So one may ask, where is the crisis? 

It is true that the United States of America, as with any other country, has the right to determine who can enter legally and who cannot — keeping in mind that immigrating is not a right but a privilege; this is part of a nation’s sovereignty. And there has to be some sort of vetting in order to protect America’s confines. Putting the “gangs and rapists,” aside, a dilemma or concern is that certain immigrants refuse to conform to American values. US Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis — a son of Jewish immigrants — said in his 1915 speech on True Americanism that immigrants seeking a home in America needed to do much more than learn English and have good manners. He argued that they “must be brought into complete harmony with our ideals and aspirations and cooperate with us for their attainment.” This can be equated with the influx of Islamists who threaten to reshape the ethnic and religious composition of the nation-states (they find themselves in), democratic-capitalist tradition and social values. Yet this is not necessarily the case at America’s southern border.

A major cause of migration from the Central American region, known as the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala), is large scale drug and gang related violence and lack of opportunity in education, health and employment. In an effort to escape the violence and to build a more secure future, people walk miles and pay traffickers their life savings to cross the border illegally. They face death, sexual harassment, and detention with the threat of deportation. In one of his first acts in office, President Lopez Obrador has signed an agreement with his counterparts from three Central American countries (El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala) to establish a development plan to stem the flow of migrants seeking asylum in the United States.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrado stated: “The relationship with the government of the United States will be one of respect, mutual benefit and good neighborliness. It is time to change the bilateral relationship towards cooperation for development. Creating jobs in Mexico and Central America is the alternative to migration, not coercive measures.”

To achieve this goal he has proposed a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Central America — a long term strategy to reduce the flow of migrants from Central America to the United States via Mexico. The plan is to raise US $30 billion through public and private investment to build infrastructure, develop the energy sector and create jobs in the region. According to media reports Mexico is likely to invest US $20 billion into the plan. However, foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard, while speaking about the plan at United Nations (UN) migration conference in Marrakech, Morocco (December 2018) did not elaborate on how Mexico will raise the money or details of how it will be utilized. Mr. Ebrard, has also called on El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to contribute similar sums to the plan. He has also stated that seven countries have expressed an interest in the plan, however, details of the countries and the possible amount they are willing to invest has not yet been made public. The United States State Department announced its intention to deliver US $5.8 billion in aid and investment to the plan through OPIC, the government agency in charge of helping American businesses invest in emerging markets.

One has to recognize that there is a problem the southern border. And while a wall can keep some of the “bad guys” out, the same socio-political and economic crisis in Central America will persist. Here, America, as the leader of the free world, needs to take a lead just as it did with the Marshal Plan after World War II in Europe. It would equally require having a military presence in foreign terrain to ensure corruption does not block such efforts. In the end, creating infrastructure in Central America would provide the stability required to halt the flow of illegals entering the US border. Not to mention, with a US-led force, America would not only deflect the economic and political hegemony of China and Russia, but it would recapture its global influence as it did during the post-war era.

The Kushner Plan for Peace in the Middle East – Another Failed Attempt

Israeli and Palestinian flags outside Damascus Gate, Jerusalem (file photo)
Israeli and Palestinian flags outside Damascus Gate, Jerusalem. (Photo: AP)

The United States of America launched its newest policy last month in the Kingdom of with the hope to bring peace and stability to the Middle East region, specifically between the Israelis and the Palestinians. A $50 billion presented by its architect, White House Counselor and son-in-law to President Donald Trump Jared Kusher, the “Deal of the Century” aims to establish financial infrastructure in the Palestinian territory, along the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as economic support to the neighboring areas. Yet neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments attended the curtain-raising event, while several Arab states stayed away or sent deputy ministers. The President of the Palestine Liberation Organization Mahmoud Abbas rejected Kushner’s economic blueprint saying that the proposal was attenuated by the refusal of the Trump administration to approve the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem — the “two-State solution” has long been seen but the international community as the only viable route for a lasting peace and stability. Kushner’s “Deal of the Century,” however, was dead in the water before he even presented it.

For years international diplomacy has made efforts—unsuccessfully—to reach a peace agreement that would put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the creation of “two States” that would live side by side. The last major attempt to achieve this, also at the behest of the US, was in July 2013, which ended without any results April of the following year. The geo-politics contained in a would-be deal for peace are complicated at best; the contention revolves around the old city of Jerusalem—sacred for Jews, Christians, and Muslims—which Israel considers its capital, despite not being recognized by the international community.

We need to understand that the disputed land between Israelis and Palestinians has been the scene of tension and violence between Arabs and Jews since the time of the British mandate, which in 1917 ended 400 years of Ottoman rule. With the Balfour Declaration by the English colonial occupant, support was officially given to create a “national homeland” for Jews in Palestine, thus following through with the appeal of the Zionist protagonist Theodor Herzl. After the Second World War, with the extermination of six million Jews by the Nazis, the UN General Assembly approved a partition plan for Palestine, with the establishment of the Israeli State in 1949 and another one for the Arabs. About 688,000 immigrants came to Israel during the first three years; approximately 650,000 Jews were already living in Israel when it was formally established as an independent and sovereign state. Simultaneously, approximately 750,000 Palestinians (75 percent of the Palestinian  population) were coerced to leave their homes. This led to a coalition of Arab nations launching an invasion of the nascent Jewish state as part of the First Arab-Israeli War in 1948. It was followed by a second major conflict, the Suez Crisis which erupted in 1956, when Israel, the United Kingdom and France staged a controversial attack on Egypt in response to Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez Canal.

The present juridical problem, again, concerns the occupation of the Holy City, one that arose following the Six-Day War (5-10 June 1967) won by Israel. The origin of this conflict was the attack on Israel by Jordan, which illegally occupied the Western Wall and the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem, thus preventing any possibility of Jewish access to these holy areas. In 1950 Jordan annexed the territories it had conquered in the 1948 war, namely East Jerusalem and the West Bank, declaring itself “Protector” of the Holy Land. The only countries that recognized their annexation were Britain and Pakistan, while all other nations, including the Arab states, condemned it; Britain only recognized the annexation of the West Bank.

Adolf Hitler talking to Grand Mufti Haj Amin el Husseini
Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini and Adolf Hitler in Berlin, November 28, 1941. (Photo: Getty Images)

Israel, after its victory, had incurred the wrath of the Islamic world and feared another Holocaust since the Palestinians between 1934 and 1945, under the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and spiritual leader of the Palestinian Muslims Amin-al-Husseini, had established an unconditional alliance with Adolf Hitler’s Germany — after the Grand Mufti had gained the confidence of the emerging anti-Jewish Arab Party for Independence in 1931, he eventually sought support from the Third Reich. The Israelis eventually took back the holy sites of Jerusalem by force, but inherited a large Palestinian population, which it was unable to expel or absorb.

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White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, center, arriving on Tuesday at the venue for the US-hosted ‘Peace to Prosperity’ conference, in Manama, Bahrain. PHOTO: MATT SPETALNICK/REUTERS

One of Kushner’s proposals includes land exchange, where Jordan would give terrain to the Palestinian territories, and in return, Jordan would have land from Saudi Arabia. The deal, however, does not propose an independent and sovereign state for the Palestinians; they would only continue to have an autonomous state in view of Israel still refusing to recognize UN Security Council Resolution 2334 of December 23, 2016, which requests to end its settlement policy in the Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem. Not to mention, the Saudi-backed initiative that called for a Palestinian State with borders that predate Israel‘s capture of territory in the 1967 Six-Day War, as well as a capital in East Jerusalem and refugees’ right of return were all rejected by Israel. It should be made know that even David Ben Gurion, who became Israel’s first prime minister, rejected demands that Israel should capture the central highlands (later to be known as the West Bank), saying it was time to end the war and concentrate on building the country. Ultimately, as Dan Shapiro, a former US ambassador to Israel, said: “The Trump peace plan is on ice – maybe permanently.”

Undoubtedly, it is legitimate to think that sooner or later peace will be achieved between Israelis and Palestinians, despite both justifying their present positions: the Israelis refusing to surrender its seized territories, including the Golan Heights which was stripped from the Syrians in 1967; the Palestinian Muslims equipping terrorists to commit suicide attacks against the Jews, as well as inciting hatred towards Jews among their children, thereby provoking more contempt and violence. I personally believe that there will not and cannot be peace because—something the international community does not want to admit—both Israelis and Palestinian Muslims believe in the principle of vengeance a retribution: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”

The Jews have overcome certain barbaric disciplines of the Old Testament, such as the stoning of adulterous women and justifiable vengeance—attributed to the Mosaic law—putting them in historical and exegetical contexts. However, if someone starts to create problems for them, the Israelis have historically shown to be anything but tolerant — would be hard not to blame them. The Palestinian Msulims, on the other hand, have not overcome the principle of retaliation because the Quran does not allow them, let alone coexistence with a people who democratically elect their government, especially if the head of state is a Jew.

I wish to make clear that I believe in the legitimacy of the State of Israel.  It is true that its juridical creation came at the cost of expelling a Palestinian population, which also includes Christians from their land. At the same time, the idea of reinserting diaspora Palestinians is both unrealistic and antagonistic. That being said, if both Israelis and Palestinians want to make peace, they can do so just as then-Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and the Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin did on September 17th 1978 with the Camp David Agreements. Both were able to incorporate the teaching of forgiveness—as Jesus Christ taught us—and show the world that since we were created in the image and likeness of God, there must be a reciprocal respect and safeguarding of human life

N. B. This article was originally published by Il Mantello della Giustizia on July 1, 2019 under the title Il nuovo piano per la pace in Medio Oriente.

Happy 4th of July!

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John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence, depicting the five-man drafting committee of the Declaration of Independence presenting their work to the Second Continental Congress

When we Americans celebrate our Independence Day on the Fourth of July every year we think of July 4, 1776, as a day that represents the Declaration of Independence and the birth of the United States of America as an independent and sovereign nation. But July 4, 1776 was not the day that the Continental Congress decided to declare independence (they did that on July 2, 1776). It also was not the day we started the American Revolution; it had happened back in April 19, 1775, at the Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Acting on orders from London to suppress the colonists, General Thomas Gage, recently appointed royal governor of Massachusetts, ordered his troops to seize the colonists’ military stores at Concord. En route from Boston, the British force of 700 men was met on Lexington Green by 77 local minutemen and others who had been forewarned of the raid by the colonists’ efficient lines of communication, including the ride of Paul Revere. It is unclear who fired the first shot. Resistance melted away at Lexington, and the British moved on to Concord. Most of the American military supplies had been hidden or destroyed before the British troops arrived. A British covering party at Concord’s North Bridge was finally confronted by 320 to 400 American patriots and forced to withdraw. The march back to Boston was a genuine ordeal for the British, with Americans continually firing on them from behind roadside houses, barns, trees, and stone walls. Total losses were British 273, American 95. The Battles of Lexington and Concord confirmed the alienation between the majority of colonists and the mother country, and it roused 16,000 New Englanders to join forces and begin the Siege of Boston, resulting in its evacuation by the British the following March.

So what did happen on July 4, 1776?

The Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776; the first draft by Thomas Jefferson (the main author)—John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston also assisted Jefferson—was written in June 1776. They had been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes.

July 4, 1776, therefore became the date that was included on the Declaration of Independence, and the fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August (the copy now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, DC) It is also the date that was printed on the Dunlap Broadsides, the original printed copies of the Declaration that were circulated throughout the new nation. So when people thought of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 was the date they remembered.

In contrast, we celebrate Constitution Day on September 17th of each year, the anniversary of the date the Constitution was signed, not the anniversary of the date it was approved. If we had followed this same approach for the Declaration of Independence we’d being celebrating Independence Day on August 2nd of each year, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed!

How did the Fourth of July become a national holiday?

For the first 15 or 20 years after the Declaration was written, people did not celebrate it much on any date. It was too new and too much else was happening in the young nation. By the 1790s, a time of bitter partisan conflicts, the Declaration had become controversial. One party, the Democratic-Republicans, admired Jefferson and the Declaration. But the other party, the Federalists, thought the Declaration was too French and too anti-British, which went against their current policies. By 1817, John Adams complained in a letter that America seemed uninterested in its past. But that would soon change.

After the War of 1812, the Federalist Party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again, all with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top. The deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, may even have helped to promote the idea of July 4 as an important date to be celebrated.

Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration was written, Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas. Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4, was passed in 1939 and 1941.

We naturally have to thank the Almighty for those in uniform who have fought and died, and continue to sacrifice themselves for our freedom. Let us also never forget, notwithstanding their misgivings, what our Founding Fathers left us: a courageous example and the means to stand up to tyranny so that we may exercise the our natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness endowed to us by our Creator.