H.R. McMaster Endorsed Book That Advocates Quran-Kissing Apology Ceremonies

AP/Alex Brandon

Breitbart, by Aaron Klein, Aug. 20, 2017:

TEL AVIV — A book on terrorism endorsed and touted by H.R. McMaster, the embattled White House National Security Adviser, calls on the U.S. military to respond to any “desecrations” of the Quran by service members with an apology ceremony, and advocates kissing a new copy of the Quran before presenting the Islamic text to the local Muslim public.

The book’s author further demanded that any American soldier who “desecrates” the Quran be ejected from the foreign country of deployment, relieved of duty and turned over to a military judge for “punishment.”

“Desecration” of the Quran, according to the McMaster-endorsed book, includes such acts as “letting the Quran fall to the ground during a search, or more blatant instances.”

The book, reviewed in full by this reporter, was authored by U.S. military officer Youssef H. Aboul-Enein and is titled Militant Islamist Ideology: Understanding the Global Threat.

McMaster provided a glowing blurb for the book jacket, referring to Aboul-Enein’s book as “an excellent starting point” for understanding terrorist ideology.

McMaster also promoted the book in ARMOR, the journal of the U.S. Army’s Armor Branch, published at Fort Benning, Georgia, where McMaster served as commanding general at the Ft. Benning Maneuver Center of Excellence.

McMaster wrote in his blurb for the book: “Militant Islamist Ideology deserves a wide readership among all those concerned with the problem of transnational terrorism, their ideology, and our efforts to combat those organizations that pose a serious threat to current and future generations of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”

In the blurb, McMaster revealed his own views on terrorism, claiming that “terrorist organizations use a narrow and irreligious ideology to recruit undereducated and disenfranchised people to their cause.”

Aboul-Enein is listed as a senior adviser and analyst at the Joint Intelligence Task Force for Combating Terrorism at the Defense Intelligence Agency, a position that he also held under the Obama administration. He is an officer in the Navy Medical Service Corps and Middle East Foreign Officer, and an adjunct military professor and chair of Islamic studies at the National Defense University.

Besides endorsing Militant Islamist Ideology, McMaster also wrote a forward for another Aboul-Enein book, this one titled Iraq in Turmoil: Historical Perspectives of Dr. Ali al-Wardi, From the Ottoman Empire to King Feisal.

Quran ‘Desecration’

In the book, Aboul-Enein warned that “incidents of desecrating the Quran, such as letting the Quran fall to the ground during a search, or more blatant instances, allow our adversary to capitalize on outrage and to score points in the arena of public opinion.”

Any such “desecration” of the Quran, the author wrote, “would be considered an offense not only by Militant Islamists but by Islamists and wider Muslim community as well.”

Aboul-Enein recommended that “desecrations” of the Quran should be “quickly acknowledged, with unconditional apologies and reassurances to the public that the accused do not represent the United States or its military, that they have been ejected from the country and referred to their service’s judge advocate general for punishment.”

Besides ejecting the service member from the country of deployment and turning the soldier over to a judge for “punishment,” Aboul-Enein pointed to a May 2008 incident in which a U.S. Army sniper reportedly used the Quran for target practice. He upheld the response by Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond, commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad, as forming, in Aboul-Enein’s opinion, the minimal official U.S. military reaction to such desecrations.

The response included an “apology ceremony” at which a U.S. official kissed a copy of the Quran before presenting the text to the local community as a “humble gift.”

Aboul-Enein writes that Hammond took the following steps, “which in my opinion formed the basis by which American officials and Iraqi tribal leaders fighting al-Qaida can at least alleviate the emotionalism of such an event”:

  • Hammond held “an apology ceremony, not a press conference, and he issued this statement, flanked by Iraqi Sunni leaders of the Radwaniyah District, where the incident had happened: ‘I come before you here seeking your forgiveness, in the most humble manner I look in your eyes today, and I say please forgive me and my soldiers.’”
  • A U.S. official “kissed a new copy of the Quran and ceremoniously presented it to the tribal leaders.”
  • Hammond read the following letter from the shooter: “I sincerely hope that my actions have not diminished the partnership that our two nations have developed together. … My actions were shortsighted, very reckless and irresponsible, but in my heart [the actions] were not malicious.”
  • The offending sniper was “relieved of duty and reassigned.”
  • Hammond himself commented, “The actions of one soldier were nothing more than criminal behavior. … I’ve come to this land to protect you, to support you—not to harm you—and the behavior of this soldier was nothing short of wrong and unacceptable.”

The section on Quran “desecration” is not the only controversial part of the book. Breitbart News reported last week that Aboul-Enein’s book also calls Hamas an “Islamist political group” while failing to categorize the deadly organization as a terrorist group, and refers to al-Qaida attacks and anti-Israel terrorism as “resistance.”

The work frames jihad as a largely peaceful “means to struggle or exert effort,” such as waking up early in the morning to recite prayers. It argues that groups like al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations have hijacked the concept of jihad to wage war using such tactics as suicide bombings.

Hamas an ‘Islamist Political Group’

Throughout the McMaster-endorsed Militant Islamist Ideology book, Aboul-Enein struggles to properly categorize Hamas; but at no point does he call Gaza’s murderous Islamist rulers a terrorist organization.

Hamas is a terrorist group responsible for scores of deadly suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians. Hamas’s official charter calls for the obliteration of the Jewish state, and proclaims that there is “no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.” Hamas leaders routinely demand the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews.

Yet Aboul-Enein struggles to properly classify Hamas. At one point, Aboul-Enein differentiates between “militant Islamists” and Hamas, grouping the latter among “Islamist political groups.”

In the book’s introduction, he writes:

Militant Islamists alienate not only the United States but even Islamist political groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. It is time for a more nuanced definition of the threat.

At another point, the author calls Hamas an “Islamist” group. He writes (page 131): “For instance, Zawahiri condemns Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas for participating in the electoral process.”

Despite its clear terrorist activities, Aboul-Enein suggests (page 2) that Hamas does not “fit into a neat category.” He asks an open question about whether Hamas “is an Islamist or Militant Islamist group,” but he does not provide an answer.

He writes (page 3):

There are also Islamists who do not fit into a neat category, such as the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. On one hand, Hamas provides social services, won 44 percent of the electorate in 2006, and is the government of the Palestinian territories. On the other hand, it has failed to compromise effectively with other Palestinian rejectionist and secular groups to form a governing coalition, and it has failed to provide social services for a wider Palestinian populace. In addition, it has conducted suicide operations directed against Israeli civilians – though it has not widened its campaign beyond targeting Israel. Further, al-Qaida senior leaders have viciously attacked Hamas for participating in electoral politics. The question for Americans is whether Hamas is an Islamist or Militant Islamist group.

Aboul-Enein fails to note that the U.S. government already answered that so-called question, designating Hamas as a foreign terrorist group.

In another section of the book, Aboul-Enein defines (page 193) Hamas as straddling “the Islamist and Militant Islamist divide, using its proficiency in suicide-bomber operations to strike at Israeli targets, yet it is currently in government.” He also writes (page 215) that Hamas “is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist militant organization and political party.”

Al-Qaida, Palestinian ‘Resistance’

In the book, Aboul-Enein refers to the deadly terrorism of al-Qaida in Iraq as “resistance.” Besides its worldwide mayhem, Al-Qaida has been responsible for countless terrorist attacks across Iraq that have targeted civilians, U.S. troops and Iraqi government institutions.

Aboul-Enein relates a struggle between the goals of al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) and those of the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) in terms of “resistance” locally versus a global fight against the West.

Aboul-Enein writes (page 101):

In post-Saddam Iraq, among the Sunni insurgency there are other stressors that undermine al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), such as the tensions between the Islamic Army of Iraq (IAI) and al-Qaida in Iraq. The IAI struggles with AQI over the concept of this fight being for Iraq’s Sunnis and not a wider pan-Islamist struggle; the IAI has narrower objectives than AQI. It is a tension between Jihad as muqawama (resistance) and Jihad for a wider pan-Islamist objective.

He refers to support for “resistance” against the U.S. presence in Iraq. He does so when documenting the rise of Muslim Brotherhood political parties and public criticism of an al-Qaida hotel bombing in 2005 in Amman, Jordan.

He writes (page 46):

This has split the Muslim Brotherhood, as there is deep hostility toward the U.S. presence in Iraq, support for muqawama (resistance) and for the Muslim Brotherhood concept of wasatiyah (moderation), and recognition of the need for grassroots representation of the Ahl-al-Sunnah (formal term for Sunni Muslims).

Aboul-Enein also categorizes deadly terrorist raids on Jewish settlements in the 1930s as “resistance,” even though those operations targeted and killed civilians.

He states: (page 138)

No study of Militant Islamist ideologues and the cleavages between Militant Islamist and Islamist groups can be complete without delving into the life, actions, theories, and legacy of Abdullah Azzam. Militant Islamist operatives take the nom de guerre “Abu Azzam” in his honor. A witness to increased Jewish immigration into Palestine in World War II, Azzam was reared on the stories of resistance by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, which led guerrilla raids against the British and then Jewish settlers.

The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades is currently the namesake of Hamas’s so-called military wing. Aboul-Enein was referring to deadly attacks carried out by the original Brigade, founded around 1930 by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a Syrian Muslim cleric who popularized the concept of jihad against Jews during the British civil administration of Palestine.

“Islamist” vs. “Militant Islamist”

The core of Aboul-Enein’s endeavor, and one that may help to elucidate McMaster’s views, is to differentiate between what he terms “Islamist” and “Militant Islamist,” and to show that “militant Islamists” present a distorted, dishonest view of Islam. The thesis might clarify McMaster’s aversion to using the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

In seeking to differentiate between “Islam,” “Islamist,” and “Militant Islamist,” Aboul-Enein comes up with the following basic definitions:

  • Islam is “the religious faith of Muslims, involving (as defined in Merriam-Webster’s) belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet.”
  • He defines Islamist as “a group or individual advocating Islam as a political as well as a religious system. Chief Islamist objectives include implementing sharia (Islamic) law as the basis of all statutory issues and living as did the earliest adherents to Islam. Many Islamists also assert that implementation of sharia law requires the elimination of all non-Islamic influences in social, political, economic, and military spheres of life.”
  • Militant Islamists, Aboul-Enein claims, consist of a “group or individual advocating Islamist ideological goals, principally by violent means. Militant Islamists call for the strictest possible interpretation of both the Quran (Muslim book of divine revelation) and the hadith (the Prophet Muhammad’s actions and deeds). This narrow interpretation opposes the beliefs of Muslims and non-Muslims alike; Militant Islamists stand against Western democracies, Middle Eastern institutions of government, and Islamist political parties that participate nonviolently in elections.”

Defining Jihad

Aboul-Enein frames jihad as a largely peaceful “means to struggle or exert effort,” a term that has been hijacked by “militant Islamists” to wage extremist warfare.

Aboul-Enein posits, for example, that jihad “can be as simple as struggling to get up in the early morning to say your dawn prayers or struggling to learn and improve yourself spiritually or intellectually. It also can mean struggling in the path of God, which does not necessarily mean engaging in warfare but might be making time to teach Islam to children or providing financial support for an Islamic project.”

Jihad, in other words, is a struggle to fulfill one’s obligations to Allah, according to the author.

Islamists, he states, define jihad as a “means to expend every effort fighting against the disbelievers.” However, Aboul-Enein attempts to cloak this violent struggle in the shroud of morality.

He writes (page 34): “Islamists delineate who can fight and when; unlike Militant Islamists, they generally set rules and limits for engaging in fighting in the name of God. … It makes Jihad obligatory upon all Muslims only if the enemy has entered Muslim lands and if the imam calls for Jihad.”

Some Islamists, he relates, “prescribe a protocol of warfare in which a noble Muslim warrior should be free of arrogance and conceit,” and espouse “etiquette” such as “warnings not to kill noncombatant women and children.”

Aboul-Enein describes the seemingly legitimate, moderate jihad as different from the jihadist views advocated by “militant Islamists,” who “use women, children, and the mentally infirm as suicide bombers, who reduce Jihad to fighting or supporting the fighting through financial means, and who make Jihad incumbent upon all Muslims, with no distinction between communal and individual responsibility.”

Islam experts, meanwhile, have pointed out that mainstream Islamic scripture advocates a violent jihad to spread Islam worldwide.

Read more

New Centcom underground war room in Amman for US intervention in Syria

Debkafile:

 

images (9)Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in Amman this week to inaugurate the Centcom’s Forward Command in Jordan manned by 273 US officers. US media correspondents were permitted to visit the new war room for the first time on condition of non-disclosure of its location and secret facilities. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the installation is bomb- and missile-proof against a possible Syrian attack. The US Air Force command section is in direct communication with the US, Israeli, Jordanian and Saudi Air Force headquarters ready for an order by President Barack Obama to impose a partial no-fly zone over Syrian air space.

Another section is designed to coordinate operations between US and Jordanian special forces, as well as the units trained in commando combat by US instructors in Jordan.  A closed section houses CIA personnel who control the work of US agents going in and out of Syria and also a communications center.
In his briefing to US forces Thursday, Aug. 15, Gen. Dempsey commented: “Jordan lives in a very volatile region and at a very critical time in its history. They can count on us to continue to be their partner.”

He suggested that the operation could continue well into next year or beyond.
Situated atop the underground facility is a large surface structure accommodating the American military and civilian offices dealing with Syrian issues from Jordan. It is guarded by US and Jordanian security units.

There are today some 1,000 US military personnel in the Hashemite Kingdom, plus a squadron of F-16 fighters and several Patriot anti-missile batteries strung along the Jordanian-Syrian border to shield Jordanian and American bases and the capital, Amman.
This special DEBKAfile video presentation illustrates US, Saudi, and Jordanian preparations for military intervention in the Syrian civil war and its likely repercussions.

Obama’s final decision on US military intervention – consisting of a no fly and a buffer zone in Syria – is expected in the coming two to three weeks, depending on Dempsey’s recommendations upon his return to Washington after checking out preparations in Israel and Jordan. In neither operation will US boots touch Syrian soil.

The buffer zone in the south up to Damascus would be captured by 3,000 rebels trained in special operations tactics and armed by US forces in Jordan. Jordanian special forces are to spearhead the operation under US command.

Assad may take the fight outside his borders by launching missiles against Israel, Jordan and maybe Turkey.
Hizballah may join in with rocket attacks on Israel. Iran will beef up its active military presence in Syria and Jordan. And Russian Rapid Intervention units are on standby for saving Assad at their Black Sea and South Caucasian bases

 

U.S. Arrests 19 Yr-Old Jihadist Convert – This Time We Got Lucky

Qassim al RimiBY CLARE LOPEZ:

A Jacksonville, Florida teen named Shelton Thomas Bell was indicted July 18 on charges of conspiracy and attempt to provide material support to terrorists. Only 19 years old at the time of his arrest, Bell was a convert to Islam who previously had attended the N.E. Florida Islamic Center in Jacksonville before departing in late 2012 on an overseas journey to join the “jihad.”

Somehow, somewhere, Bell seemed to have gotten the idea that jihad was violent armed fighting, and he wanted to link up with a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Arabia Peninsula (AQAP) called Ansar al-Shariah (AAS), which is based in Yemen.

The primary objective of both AQAP and its AAS spin-off is the imposition and enforcement of Islamic (sharia) law. Both AQAP and AAS are on the list of U.S. Foreign Terrorist Organizations , which makes it a crime to provide them material support.

Unfortunately for Bell, his late September 2012 journey to the Middle East began with a stopover in Israel, who promptly refused him entry and put him on a return flight to his previous stopover, in Warsaw, Poland. There, Bell bought a ticket to Amman, Jordan, where things seemed to come apart for him.

According to the indictment, Bell intended to travel to Oman before making his way overland to join Islamic fighters in Yemen; he even bought a plane ticket to Oman. Whether it was an Israeli entry refusal stamp in his passport, or simply Jordanian officials talking with their Israeli counterparts, Bell’s journey to jihad went no further than Amman and he returned to the U.S.

As Randy McDaniels noted in a July 22 WatchDogWire article about the case, Bell was only 17 years old when attended the N.E. Florida Islamic Center; and yet, even at that young age, according to Parvez Ahmed, a Board member and official spokesman for the Islamic Center, Bell already stood out for his “very traditional Islamic clothing,” an obvious signal to his developing Islamic devotion.

The district court indictment further notes that, during 2012, Bell had drawn attention to himself by trying to persuade at least one other Jacksonville juvenile to join him in his journey to jihad. That unnamed juvenile participated in physical fitness and firearms training with Bell and even conducted a practice run with him one night in July 2012 when they “caused significant damage to religious statues at the Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens Cemetery.”

Inept as Bell’s attempts to fight jihad with AAS/AQAP may have been, the key issues here, as McDaniels points out, center rather on who were the influential individuals in Bell’s life that led him to convert to Islam in the first place and then so deeply indoctrinated him with Islamic precepts on jihad that he took such concrete, indictable steps towards joining forces that are implacably hostile to U.S. national security interests.

Did Bell fall under the influence of individuals at the N.E. Florida Islamic Center? Did any of such influences point him in the direction of online internet contacts in the world of jihadist chat rooms?

Read more at The Clarion Project

The Dhimma Returns to Syria

360_syria_christians_0915By Mark Durie:

The following report comes from Martin Janssen in Amman, Jordan (original in Dutch). The preceding notes and translation from Dutch into English are by Dr. Mark Durie, an Anglican vicar in Melbourne, Australia, author of The Third Choice, and an Associate Fellow at the Middle Eastern Forum.

In his report Janssen tells of his experience of a prayer walk in Amman, held on May 21 2013 for the two abducted Syrian clergy, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim.  These Archbishops have been captured by Syrian rebels.

After the prayer walk Janssen had the opportunity to meet with Syrian Christian refugees, who told him how they came to flee their homes and villages.  Their village was occupied by rebel forces, who proceeded to announce that they were now under an Islamic emirate, and were subject to sharia law.

The Christian residents were offered four choices:

1. renounce the ‘idolatry’ of Christianity and convert to Islam;
2. pay a heavy tribute to the Muslims for the privilege of keeping their heads and their Christian faith (this tribute is known as jizya);
3. be killed;
4. flee for their lives, leaving all their belongings behind.

Some Christians were killed, some fled, some tried to pay the jizya and found it too heavy a burden to bear after the rebels kept increasing the amount they had to pay,  and some were unable to flee or pay, so they converted to Islam to save themselves.

The scenario reported by Syrian refugees is a re-enactment of the historic fate of Christians across the Middle East.  The Muslim historian Al-Tabari reported that when the Caliph ‘Umar conquered Syria, he gave the following command to his armies:

“Summon the [conquered] people to Allah; those who respond unto your call, accept it [their conversion to Islam] from them, but those who refuse must pay the jizya out of humiliation and lowliness. If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency.”

Umar’s command referenced Sura (chapter) 9 verse 29 of the Koran:

“Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the jizya readily, being brought low.”

This policy of subjugating Christians under the yoke of jizya taxation was also based upon the teaching of Muhammad who said:

“Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah.
Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war …
When you meet your enemies who are polytheists,
invite them to three courses of action.
if they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold
yourself from doing them any harm.
Invite them to (accept) Islam;
if they respond to you, accept it from them
and desist from fighting against them ….
If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the jizya.
If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands.
If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them.”
(Sahih Muslim. The Book of Jihad and Expedition. [Kitab al-Jihad wa’l-Siyar])

Classical Islamic law mandates that ‘People of the Book’ should be given three choices, however the Syrian rebels are augmenting this with the fourth option of allowing them to flee.

In Islamic law, Christians who accept to pay the jizya in order to keep their faith – and their head – are known as dhimmis.For a full explanation of the Islamic doctrine of the three choices, including the psychological meaning of the jizya tribute, see The Third Choice especially Chapter 6: The Dhimma: Doctrine and History).

It is a matter of deep concern that European states and the US are assisting the Syrian rebels as they implement this Islamic ‘emirate’, which includes the restoration of the dhimma system by re-enacting the conditions of jihad conquest against Christians.

A conversation with Syrian refugees in Ammanby Martin Janssen
Last Tuesday, May 21 a prayer walk was held in the Jordanian capital Amman around nightfall.  Its purpose was to inquire after the unknown fate of the two Syrian bishops who were kidnapped over a month ago.  I had agreed with some members of the congregation where I always worship to take part and traveled there with them. During the journey I was brought into contact with a Syrian priest from Aleppo who after the journey was concluded introduced me to a group of Syrian Christian refugees. The priest suggested that we all spend the rest of the evening together so that as a correspondent from Europe I could listen to the stories and testimonies of these Syrians.

Syrian refugees of all religious backgrounds – not just Christians – do not feel at ease in neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan. They get the very strong impression that they are not welcome and that the open hostility of the local population towards them is growing. In Jordan, for example, some parliamentarians have been calling on the government for months to expell all Syrian refugees from the country because they pose a security risk. The problem is that this accusation contains an kernel of truth. Our evening discussion group of 12 people included some Jordanian Christians. They reported that a few weeks early the Jordanian security services had managed to thwart an assassination attempt on Abdullah, the Jordanian monarch. This attack was planned and orchestrated by a sleeper cell of the Syrian, al-Qaida affiliated, Jabhat al-Nusra movement. It was precisely to escape such radical Islamic movements that Syrian Christians have fled to Jordan.

My interlocutors this evening were almost all from northern Syria. They came from Idlib, Aleppo and villages in the countryside between the two cities. Their testimony was unanimous. Many of these villages had a large Christian presence until a few years ago, but now Christians no longer lived there. Jamil, an elderly man, told the following story during which other attendees began to nod violently in agreement. They appeared to have experienced exactly the same things.

Jamil lived in a village near Idlib where 30 Christian families had always lived peacefully alongside some 200 Sunni families. That changed dramatically in the summer of 2012. One Friday trucks appeared in the village with heavily armed and bearded strangers who did not know anyone in the village. They began to drive through the village with a loud speaker broadcasting the message that their village was now part of an Islamic emirate and Muslim women were henceforth to dress in accordance with the provisions of the Islamic Sharia. Christians were given four choices. They could convert to Islam and renounce their “idolatry”. If they refused they were allowed to remain on condition that they pay the jizya. This is a special tax that non-Muslims under Islamic law must pay for “protection”. For Christians who refused there remained two choices: they could leave behind all their property or they would be slain. The word that was used for the latter in Arabic (dhabaha) refers to the ritual slaughter of sacrificial animals [MD: i.e. by cutting the throat].

After Jamil had finished his story a gloomy silence descended. I asked him how the 30 Christian families in his village had perished since then. He replied that a number of families – including his own family – had initially opted to pay jizya. When the leader of the armed militia in their village, however, noticed that they were able to do this, the amount kept increasing in the following months. Like almost all other Christian families he eventually fled the village. His land and farm were lost. Some Christian families in his village who were unable to escape or pay the jizya converted to Islam. To his knowledge, there were no Christians killed in his village, but he had heard other stories from a neighboring village where only three Christian families survived. They were all murdered in the middle of the night.

Miryam, an Armenian middle-aged woman from Aleppo, made the biggest impression on me. A common thread running through all the stories from different places in northern Syria during this evening was the constant complaint that armed militias looted and plundered. From wheat, bread and diesel in the villages to the complete inventory of schools, businesses and factories in Aleppo. Factory owners who protested were executed without mercy. Miryam said acquaintances who fled to Turkey learned that members of these armed militias were selling this “war booty” at bargain basement prices in Turkey. Miryam looked at me thoughtfully and said something which remained constantly with me over the following days. She told me that she had learned last year that a human being has a tremendous ability to adapt to the most difficult conditions. They had to learn to live in Aleppo without water or food, and sometimes no electricity for days on end. They even had to learn to live with the sounds of explosives and gunfire that tore them from sleep at night.

However, what a man cannot live with is the constant terror that paralyzes him completely:  the daily fear that the bus transporting children to their school would be targeted by a suicide attack; the psychological fear that comes over you on Sunday when you go to church knowing there are groups active in your neighborhood who consider it a religious duty to kill as many Christians as possible; and finally the situation that at night you do not dare to go to bed because you have received reports about acquaintances and relatives who were surprised by a rocket that crashed out of nowhere onto their property while they slept; or what can happen when you spend hours in a long line at one of the few bakeries that still make bread. Indeed Miryam told me that she never could have imagined that even the simplest of life’s activities had suddenly become dangerous.

At the end of the night I struggled inwardly with a question that I did not dare to express but which I finally found the courage to utter. What next? What did these Syrian refugees have to say about their own future and that of Christianity in Syria? Later I realized that in fact no one answered this question. The Armenian Miryam said she was thinking of emigrating with her family to Armenia, while Jamil talked about relatives who lived in Sweden.  Perhaps their answer to my question lay hidden in these comments.

Just after midnight I drove home with the members of my church from Amman. Everyone was silent and seemed lost in thought. I was to be dropped off at the church. This church sits on a hill which was once almost always enchantingly lit, but I had  noticed recently that this was no longer the case. While getting out of the car I asked about the reason and was told that “there were people who had taken offense”. I also saw three young men quasi-nonchalantly keeping watch at the church.  When I asked if this was necessary, the short reply I got was “Yes.”

This report was originally published by the Religious Freedom Coalition

 

 

Obama Trip Map Cuts Jerusalem, the Golan Heights Out of Israel

obamasisrael-275x350Front Page – By Daniel Greenfield:

Diplomacy. This administration is bad at it. Sure you could write this off as a graphic designer’s error, but it’s an error that hews closely to  the geography of an anti-Israel policy.

I wouldn’t expect Obama Inc. to include Judea and Samaria inside Israel. But cutting out Jerusalem and the Golan Heights would seem to be a bit much.

Obama Inc’s bids to get Israel to give up the Golan Heights stalled when Assad became an international war criminal and the odds of the new Muslim Brotherhood/Al Qaeda overlords making a deal with Israel for the Golan Heights seems wildly unlikely, even by the insane peace madness standards of the last twenty years.

But for some reason Obama Inc. is standing on principle. As for Jerusalem, cutting off all of it suggests what? A revival of the old international city plan?

And apparently Obama expects Israel to hand over territory within its 1948 borders to a Palestinian state on top of that?

The map of the Middle East displayed in an Obama administration video released days before President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel shows the Jewish state dispossessed of substantial parts of its current territory, including its capital.

The map of Israel, displayed repeatedly during the video, shows the Golan Heights, Jerusalem, northern Israel, and areas surrounding what is currently the West Bank as non-Israeli territory. The Golan Heights is shown as part of Syria; Jerusalem is shown as part of the West Bank; and northern Israel is shown as part of Lebanon.

The itinerary on the White House website also implies that Jerusalem is neither Israel’s capital nor even part of Israel.

The president’s schedule lists two stops in “Tel Aviv, Israel” and one in “Amman, Jordan” but his activities in Israel’s capital city are identified as taking place only in “Jerusalem” — with no country name attached. This keeps with a reluctantly-acknowledged administration policy of denying that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital or even a part of Israel.

Jerusalem? What, where is that.

 

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An Israeli Soldier’s song to the world for Passover:

 

 

Has the US Administration Decided to Get Rid of Jordan’s King Abdullah?

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Unless the US clarifies its position regarding King Abdullah and reiterates its full backing for his regime, the Muslim fundamentalists are likely to step up there efforts to create anarchy and lawlessness in the kingdom. Washington needs to reassure King Abdullah and his followers that it will not allow the creation of an Islamic terror republic in Jordan.

Has the US Administration decided to get rid of Jordan’s King Abdullah?

This is the question that many Jordanians have been asking in the past few days following a remark made by a spokesman for the US State Department.

Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner managed to create panic [and anger] in the Royal Palace in Amman when he stated that there was “thirst for change” in Jordan and that the Jordanian people had “economic, political concerns,” as well as “aspirations.”

The spokesman’s remark has prompted some Jordanian government officials to talk about a US-led “conspiracy” to topple King Abdullah’s regime.

The talk about a “thirst for change” in Jordan is seen by the regime in Amman as a green light from the US to King Abdullah’s enemies to increase their efforts to overthrow the monarchy.

The US spokesman’s remark came as thousands of Jordanians took to the streets to protest against their government’s tough economic measures, which include cancelling subsidies for fuel and gas prices.

The widespread protests, which have been dubbed “The November Intifada,” have resulted in attacks on numerous government offices and security installations throughout the kingdom. Dozens of security officers have been injured, while more than 80 demonstrators have been arrested.

And for the first time, protesters in the Jordanian capital have been calling for overthrowing King Abdullah. In an unprecedented move, demonstrators last week tried to march on the monarch’s palace in Amman in scenes reminiscent of anti-regime protests in Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Egypt.

The Jordanian authorities claim that non-Jordanian nationals who infiltrated the border have been involved in the violence, the worst to hit the kingdom in decades. The authorities say that Saudi and Syrian Muslim fundamentalists are responsible for attacks on government offices and other institutions, including banks.

Some Jordanian officials have pointed a blaming finger at Saudi Arabia and Qatar for encouraging the anti-regime protests and facilitating the infiltration of Muslim fundamentalists into the kingdom.

The officials believe that Jordan is paying the price of refusing to play a larger and stronger role in Saudi-Qatari efforts to topple Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.

Read more at Gatestone Institute

Thousands chant ‘revolution’ in rare protest against Jordan’s king

Jordanian gendarmerie police stand guard to separate pro-government supporters from anti-government protesters Tuesday. Muhammad Hamad /Reuters

By NBC News staff and wire reports:

Demonstrations and calls for general strikes hit key U.S. ally Jordan after the country’s prime minister added to the country’s economic problems by announcing price hikes for gas and other fuel.

Abdullah Ensour’s announcement on state television Tuesday cited a need to offset $5 billion in state losses by increasing fuel costs.

It sparked protests in the capital, Amman, and at least 12 other cities across Jordan.

The protesters, spanning an array of different political groups, also targeted King Abdullah II — a rare public display against the monarch.

Criticizing the king in public is forbidden in Jordan and is punishable by up to three years in jail.

“Revolution, revolution, it is a popular revolution,” chanted about 2,000 in an impromptu demonstration at a main Amman square, housing the Interior Ministry and other vital government departments.

“Freedom is from God, in spite of you, Abdullah,” they shouted

Tough test for regime

Cars jammed gas stations to stock up on fuel before the price hike takes effect on Wednesday.

The protests looked set to escalate toward the end of the week, setting a tough test for Jordan’s regime, although military suppression tactics – commonly used in Egypt and elsewhere – are highly unusual.

The country has traditionally been one of the most stable in the Middle East, despite its position at the fulcrum of the region’s deepest conflicts in recent years. Its longest border, with Israel, has been peaceful since a 1993 treaty.

Read more at NBC World News