America’s Embassy in Israel

From the BBC:

US President Donald Trump will recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, senior administration officials have said.

He is due to announce the controversial decision in a speech later.

Mr Trump is also expected to approve moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but not for several years.

Nowhere in this article does it mention that in June the US Senate voted on a resolution to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital which passed by 90-0. To do so would detract from the narrative that Trump is making rash, unilateral decisions which bring the world closer to war.

Israel welcomes the changes but the Palestinians and Arab leaders have warned they will jeopardise any Middle East peace process.

Note they don’t specify which Middle East peace process would be jeopardised, presumably because none exists.

Successive presidents have signed waivers to get round the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandates moving the embassy.

Oh. So basically Trump is the first President to actually uphold a law that was passed by Congress over 20 years ago. This is a bad thing, apparently.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud told Mr Trump the relocation of the embassy or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “would constitute a flagrant provocation of Muslims, all over the world”

Could it be that, having listened to Muslims all over the world spending the first year of his presidency branding him an enemy of Islam, Trump isn’t really interested in what they think at this juncture?

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas warned of “the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security and stability of the region and of the world”

Yeah, that might have worked ten or twenty years ago, but it’s now worn so thin you can wear it as a mask and still watch TV.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya called for a “day of rage” this Friday and said “Palestinian people everywhere [would] not allow this conspiracy to pass”

Business as usual, then.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country could sever ties with Israel

I doubt there are many in Israel counting on ties with Turkey since Erdogan’s rise to power.

France, the European Union and the Arab League have also expressed concern.

The Arab League? We have proxy wars raging in Syria and Yemen, Qatar and Saudi Arabia at each other’s throats, Iran and Turkey sending troops to prop up Arab governments, Libya overrun by jihadists and Egypt heading in the same direction. I didn’t even realise the Arab League still existed, but the minutes of their AGM must make interesting reading.

By recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital President Trump is fulfilling a campaign promise. There is no other obvious reason he is doing this now.

Fulfilling campaign promises, enacting Senate resolutions, upholding the law as passed by Congress? Is there nobody who can save us from this monster?!

Administration officials said he would simply be acknowledging reality

A rare trait among modern politicians.

Jordan and Saudi Arabia are custodians of Islam’s holy sites and have issued strong warnings that this move could inflame the Muslim world.

Okay, we’ll add it to the list.

It sounds like the Palestinians will get nothing.

Except for the four or five hundred million dollars per year the US sends them, of course.

Perhaps there is a wider strategy at work but it looks like a workaround so the president can satisfy his pro-Israel voters.

And comply with the Senate, Congress, and the law in a manner that his predecessors refused to.

In other news:

The BBC is to launch a new scheme to help young people identify real news and filter out fake or false information.

They’re perfectly placed to do it.

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Why nobody cares about the Rohingyas

I’ve noticed a concerted effort on the part of the mainstream media over the past few weeks to get everyone interested in the plight of the Rohingyas, a minority Muslim group in Myanmar who are being hounded by the majority ruling Buddists.

I have also noticed that nobody seems to give a shit. It might be tempting to put this down to the fact that westerners don’t generally care about brown people being killed in far-off lands with no oil underneath, but I suspect there is something else at work as well: people in the west are getting a little bit tired of hearing how Muslims are suffering.

There is also a perception, one which is easy to understand, that various western political establishments pander too much to Muslims. Whether it be councils and police ignoring the systematic abuse of children in Rotherham, the British courts jailing a man for leaving bacon outside a mosque, Australian prime ministers taking part in Iftar suppers, newspapers promoting the likes of Linda Sarsour, or police charging people with hate crimes for making Islamaphobic comments on Twitter, there is a growing number of people in the west who believe Muslims are a minority who have got a large chunk of the state apparatus working on their behalf to the detriment of the majority. Whether this perception is valid or not scarcely matters: perceptions in themselves matter.

There is also the fact that most westerners have come to realise that nobody – least of all Muslims – give a shit if Muslims are being killed by other Muslims. The only time we get to hear about Muslims being massacred is if non-Muslims are doing it. And the last few years have also demonstrated that if Muslims are massacring non-Muslims – such as the Coptic Christians in Egypt or the Yazidi people who fell under Isis – the mainstream media and our elites aren’t much interested.

Finally, westerners have now firmly taken note of how unwilling Muslim governments, particularly those wealthy enough to buy football clubs and build skyscrapers in Europe, are to help their fellow co-religionists in their time of need.

It is therefore not very surprising that few people are showing much concern for the plight of the Rohingyas. It wasn’t always this way: back in 1999 when Serbia was persecuting the Muslim Kosovars, the western powers launched a war to protect them. This was partly to do with guilt over Screbrenica and perhaps also because it was in Europe, but also people had more sympathy for persecuted people then, Muslims or otherwise. Nowadays that sympathy has all-but evapourated. Notice how reluctant populations were to endorse their leaders’ desires to go to war in Syria, again on the pretext of protecting Muslims.

This is a situation entirely of our establishment’s making. They quite deliberately set about promoting and favouring certain minority groups in order to virtue-signal, humiliate the majority population, and further undermine the societies they detest so much. In this they have been very successful, only the side effect is now the majority are thinking far more along ethno-religious lines than they have done for decades.

It’s a pretty dismal situation, actually. By implying that Muslims in the west are fearing for their lives surrounded by Islamaphobic hordes, the media has ensured nobody is paying any attention now a Muslim group is being persecuted for real. It’s the old crying wolf once too often thing again. If every five minutes there’s a bloke on telly saying Muslims are suffering in London, New York, and Amsterdam when they’re clearly not, people will simply tune out. And when you need their attention for real, you can’t get it.

It’s probably not too much of an exaggeration to say if the Kosovo situation, or even Screbrenica, arose again today fewer people would care and intervention would be much less likely. But the real tragedy is the attitudes towards Muslims that have been brought about by the establishment’s behaviour, which continues to this day, is eventually going to make things like Screbrenica a lot more likely in future. The antipathy to the plight of the Rohingyas should be taken as a warning.

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Zakat’s role in funding terrorism

From the BBC:

Saudi Arabia is the chief foreign promoter of Islamist extremism in the UK, a new report has claimed.

The Henry Jackson Society said there was a “clear and growing link” between Islamist organisations in receipt of overseas funds, hate preachers and Jihadist groups promoting violence.

Wednesday’s report says a number of Gulf nations, as well as Iran, are providing financial support to mosques and Islamic educational institutions which have played host to extremist preachers and been linked to the spread of extremist material.

At the top of the list, the report claims, is Saudi Arabia. It alleges individuals and foundations have been heavily involved in exporting what it calls “an illiberal, bigoted Wahhabi ideology”, quoting a number of examples.

When most people read a report like this, they assume that thousands of Saudis are intentionally handing over money to extremist and jihadist groups in the hope they will use it to promote or practice violence. Undoubtedly this will be true for some individuals and no doubt some organisations too, but these reports overlook a crucial point that I have only seen mentioned once.

That point was made in Steve Coll’s excellent and highly recommended Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden (emphasis mine):

The money flowing from the kingdom arrived at the Afghan frontier in all shapes and sizes: gold jewelry dropped on offering plates my merchants’ wives in Jeddah mosques; bags of cash delivered by businessmen to Riyadh charities as zakat, an annual Islamic tithe;

Operating in self-imposed isolation, major Saudi Arabian charities and such organizations as the Saudi Red Crescent, the World Muslim League, the Kuwaiti Red Crescent, and the International Islamic Relief Organisation set up their own offices in Peshwar. Funded in ever-rising amounts by Saudi Intelligence and zakat contributions from mosques and wealthy individuals, they, too, built hospitals, schools, clinics, feeding stations, and battlefield medical services.

Wikipedia describes zakat as follows:

As one of the Five Pillars of Islam, zakat is a religious obligation for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth.

Zakat is based on income and the value of all of one’s possessions. It is customarily 2.5% (or 1/40th) of a Muslim’s total savings and wealth above a minimum amount known as nisab. The collected amount is paid first to zakat collectors, and then to poor Muslims, to new converts to Islam, to Islamic clergy, and others.

Basically, in any wealthy Muslim country there is an awful lot of zakat money floating about, handed over by individuals as a matter of duty rather than choice. Inevitably, a portion of this cash will be purloined by people who will use it to further their own nefarious agendas. We see the same thing happening in governments: individuals are forced to hand over taxes ostensibly to pay for police, schools, and the army but the money gets hijacked and ends up going on diversity coordinators, lame arts projects, and the housing of child refugees with full beards and impressive combat records.

If you flood a place with money from a source which doesn’t get to say how it’s spent, you’ll lose control of it. If you lose control, some of it will get spent in ways you don’t like. I suspect a lot of this Saudi funding of terrorism is simply zakat money handed over to a charity in all innocence, and then dispersed by people who have made quite an art of diverting funds to extremist groups under the cover of legitimate, peaceful activities. That’s not to say there is no blatant funding of extremists going on in Saudi, but if you really want to tackle the issue you’ll have to either remove the obligation to pay zakat or ensure it is only distributed to groups which have been subject to thorough due diligence such that every Riyal can be accounted for.

Good luck with that.

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Appeasement

Three things caught my attention yesterday, all to do with appeasement.

Firstly Brendan O’Neill:

Islam now enjoys the same kind of moral protection from blasphemy and ridicule that Christianity once (wrongly) enjoyed. All last week, for example, I received furious emails and messages in response to two articles I wrote about the Manchester attack, telling me I was wrong to defend the use of the phrase ‘Islamist extremism’. That term has an Islamophobic bent to it, we’re told. It demeans Islam and its adherents by suggesting they have something to do with terrorism. You should just say ‘extremism’, not ‘Islamist extremism’. Don’t ever name the extremism, don’t label it, because you might hurt people’s feelings.

This is incredibly dangerous. This censorious flattery of Islam is, in my view, a key contributor to the violence we have seen in recent years. Because when you constantly tell people that any mockery of their religion is tantamount to a crime, is vile and racist and unacceptable, you actively invite them, encourage them in fact, to become intolerant. You license their intolerance. You inflame their violent contempt for anyone who questions their dogmas. You provide a moral justification for their desire to punish those who insult their religion.

Next Theodore Dalrymple in the WSJ:

Instead, we have gone in for what a Dutch friend of mine calls “creative appeasement.” Authorities make concessions even before, one suspects, there have been any demands for them. Thus, a public library in Birmingham, one of the largest known to me, has installed women-only tables, a euphemism for Muslim women only. Whether there was ever a request or demand for sex-segregated seating from Muslims is probably undiscoverable; truth seldom emerges from a public authority. But the justification would almost certainly be that without such tables, Muslim women would not be able to use the library at all.

The Birmingham airport has set aside a room for wudu, the Muslim ablutions before prayer. No other religion is catered for in this fashion (nor should they be, in my opinion), so the impression is inevitably given that Islam is in some way favored or privileged. Again, it would be difficult to find out whether they received requests or demands for such a room or merely anticipated them; in either case, weakness is advertised.

This is not a local problem alone. Many European airports now set aside a room for “meditation.” The icon used to indicate it almost always carries more of an Islamic connotation than any other. A friend told me that when she went into one such room, she was told by a Muslim to remove her shoes, ecumenism being, of course, a one-way street.

Finally, the Cheshire Police (via Twitter):

Somebody please tell me what side our ruling class is on, because it sure as hell isn’t ours.

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Getting it Wrong on Russia

Back in February I lamented the fact that finding sensible commentary on Russia is difficult because when it comes to that particular nation, people’s views fall into one of the following two categories:

1. Russia is America’s number one enemy, they rigged the US election in order to install their puppet Trump, they are hell-bent on taking over Europe by force and they must be confronted in Syria.

2. Russia is absolutely no threat to Europe, Crimea rightfully belongs to Russia and the annexation was perfectly above-board, they have been forced to launch a war in Eastern Ukraine because of Western plans to encircle them, they are directly threatened by NATO and they have shown us all how things ought to be done in Syria.

A recent article in The Spectator is a good case in point:

What amazes me is that if you bring up Russia in America and Europe today, people react the way academics used to back in the 1930s if one criticized Stalin and his purges. Fifty to 100 million died in the gulags, and lefties the world over turned a blind eye; now you say one nice thing about Putin and you’re toast.

That is true, and worthy of discussion.

Towards the late-1980s, the Soviet ambassador to Athens befriended my father, the coldest warrior of them all, and convinced him that all Gorby wanted was to conduct business with the West. He also reminded him what Georgi Arbatov had told dad when he had been a guest of the government during the Moscow Olympics of 1980: the greatest danger Russia faced was not America and the West but the 40 million Muslims within the Soviet Union.

I can only assume the author cites the opinion of his Dad’s mate because he believes it is true. It’s clearly bollocks. The greatest predictable threat to Russia in the 1980s was a nuclear war with America; the greatest unknown threat turned out to be the collapse of the USSR. Presumably the author thinks the words hold true today, but even that’s a tough sell. Considering their numbers, Russia has encountered very little trouble of the Islamist variety from Tatars, Kazakhs, Uzbeks, Tadjiks, Ingush and other Muslims from the former Soviet Union. The obvious exception is with the Chechens but their push for independence and the two subsequent wars were driven as much by nationalism as Islamism (and the Chechens have always been troublemakers from Moscow’s point of view). Over time the Chechen separatists became out-and-out Islamic terrorists, but they don’t represent the biggest danger to Russia. And it’s worth pointing out that a lot of the hardcore fighters in Chechnya were foreigners, and that the most feared “Chechen” fighters who joined ISIS seem to be ethnic Russians who converted to Islam.

Either way, Russian and former-Soviet Muslims are not and never were the greatest danger facing Russia. If we want me to say what I think that is, I’d go for the insistence of its leaders to concentrate power around themselves, weaken institutions, crush any opposition, and leave no succession plan making chaos more likely each time the regime changes every generation or two. Couple that with a populous and resource-hungry China on its distant borders.

One hundred years ago, after the Tsar’s murder, westerners thought of Russia as a savage, benighted land yearning to become a second America. That was a crock, if ever there was one. Russians are a spiritual people who yearn to connect with Christ, not Wall Street.

I don’t think this chap has spent much time in Russia or around Russians. It would take one to be willfully blind not to notice how much rampant consumerism, paid for with credit cards and bank loans, has gripped Russians. A few text messages passed between family members at Easter doesn’t change that.

After the collapse of communism, America committed its greatest mistake until the Iraqi invasion 11 years later. Instead of listening to George F. Kennan, a Russian expert and diplomat extraordinaire, and to Richard Nixon, who both advised helping the new state financially as well as politically, Uncle Sam heeded neocon siren voices and encircled Russia via Nato.

And just like that, we get the full, unalloyed, Kremlin take on things. It’s hard to know where to begin. The Americans did attempt to help Russia financially and politically: they poured in billions to stop the country from collapsing completely, secure its nuclear weapons, strengthen its institutions, and get a grip on an AIDS epidemic among many other things. As things turned out the economic advice was extremely naive in that they didn’t anticipate the degree to which Russians would murder one another while transforming their economy, but that can hardly be blamed on the Americans. Sure, there was a lot of asset stripping, theft, and other dodgy practices being carried out by individuals, some of whom had state backing, but to say the Americans didn’t try to help Russia after the collapse of the USSR might as well be taken from Putin’s Top Ten List of Things to Blame on America.

What annoys me about these sort of articles is they assume Russians themselves have no agency, as if they bear no responsibility for their own situation, and are always at the mercy of the US. To counter this, I’ll refer to this post from 2007 in which I list the business-related murders in the first part of 2000 alone, a decade after perestroika. Did Americans tell them to behave like this? No. This is simply how Russians behave, American advice or not.

And this:

Uncle Sam heeded neocon siren voices and encircled Russia via Nato.

Oh please. Again, this is straight out of the Kremlin book of propaganda. The Nato expansion was more about a bureaucratic organisation wanting to increase its headcount and footprint more than a grand strategy to encircle Russia. Had America wanted to destroy Russia in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse, they would have done so. As I said here:

By historical standards Russia, as part of a collapsing empire which had been defeated after a long and often bloody struggle against an ideological, military, and political enemy that remained strong, got off awfully lightly.

Now I will concede that some Nato actions – the bombing of Serbia, for example – might be construed as offensive and give Putin & Co some cause for concern, but the idea that Nato represents any sort of threat to Russia is laughable. I am quite sure that the Russians themselves don’t believe it either, no matter how much they repeat it for political purposes.

Neocons then doubled down on their folly by convincing an idiotic president and his poodle Tony Blair to invade Iraq. A trillion dollars and hundreds of thousands of dead later, not a single neocon has been jailed or tried for their crimes. But Putin has been demonised by those same neocons and their networks, and by newspapers such as the Mexican-owned New York Times.

So the idiocy of the Iraq War makes Putin off-limits for criticism? I agree that the neo-cons have no moral ground on which to criticise Putin, but it doesn’t make them wrong. Not that I think they are right either, but the premise is daft.

The Nato expansion into the former Soviet block is now being called a ‘tragic mistake’ by those of us not taken in by neocon propaganda. There was bound to be an authoritarian backlash in Russia as a result.

And there we have the Russians’ lack of agency again. Incorporating the Czech Republic into Nato in 1999 simply forced Putin to embark on aggressive, anti-western policies in 2007.

And then there is the monstrously corrupt privatisation, sanctioned by a drunken Yeltsin. (Chelsea fans and other beneficiaries in London and New York should put up a statue of the drunk. Swiss and Bahama-based bankers pray for him daily.)

The author  appears not to realise that the person he is praising and his entourage are the prime beneficiaries of this monstrously corrupt privatisation. Does he think Putin and Roman Abramovich are enemies? But again, note how a drunk Russian presiding over a corrupt privatisation programme from which ruthless Russian gangsters benefited is something to be blamed on foreigners.

Of course, there is a reason for all this nonsense, and it is contained in a paragraph near the start of the article:

I’ve recently been reading rather a lot about RT. My friend, the film director James Toback — who directed the greatest movie of all time, Seduced and Abandoned — tells me it is the only news channel he watches in New York. I may be biased against the BBC and American networks because of their hypocritical claim of impartiality (as impartial as Saudi clerics judging a Jewish smuggler), but I love RT as it doesn’t do fake news. And, unlike American broadcasters, it has a sense of humour.

Russia Today doesn’t do fake news? Right.

The author has made the same mistake most people do when commenting on Russia: they have (rightly) understood that the Western, mainstream media is wrong, biased, or both and stumbled across Russia Today. They have then, for reasons unknown only to themselves, abandoned all skepticism and accepted without question what they see and hear from the Kremlin-run channel. I have noticed a similar thing with some of my friends on Facebook: they have realised that the BBC is unreliable and so start posting quotes from Zerohedge, as if they are any more truthful.

The idea that perhaps the situation with Russia is complex, each issue must be viewed separately, and the truth lies somewhere between the BBC/CNN and RT escapes most contemporary commentators. Perhaps Putin isn’t benign, but maybe he’s not quite like Saddam Hussein either. Sure, Russia might have legitimate concerns over Nato’s behaviour, but that did not compel them to embark on land-grabs and launch an insurrection in East Ukraine. There is some middle ground here, but boy do I feel like I’m ploughing a lonely furrow through it.

(As an aside, some advice for the author after reading this passage:

And speaking of girls, at our last summer party, towards the end, when I was well fuelled, I met Olga, a very pretty Russian who works for Russia Today. Olga has perfect manners, something her male counterparts are not famous for, and is well spoken and graceful. Even the MoMC thought her too good for me when they met at my birthday party.

For those of us who have spent time in Russia, few things come across as more nauseating than a middle-aged Western man, having encountered a Russian woman for the first time in his life, telling people about it.)

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Preaching Extremism with Impunity

Happenings in France:

A mosque in the eastern suburbs of Paris was ordered closed on Tuesday because authorities deemed it “a threat to security”.
The mosque, located in Torcy in the Seine-et-Marne department, was deemed by authorities to be “a threat to public order”.
Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said the mosque had “become a place where radical ideology was advocated”.
“Some of the preaching was openly hostile to France’s laws and was inciting hate to other religious communities, primarily Shia Muslims and Jews.”
He added that there was a risk of “a breeding ground that threatened security and public order” in France.
In the official police order for closure, Imams were said to have “legitimized armed jihad” over the past two years, “calling on members to pray for jihadists to destroy the enemies of Islam in France and around the world”.

I have a Muslim friend living in a European capital, and I occasionally meet him and speak about the issue of extremism being preached in mosques across Europe. He hails from an Arabic-speaking country where mosques are carefully watched by the authorities and Imams are licensed by the state.

He told me he once went to a mosque in the city where he now lives and was amazed, absolutely staggered, to find extremism being openly preached and leaflets being handed out in support of jihadists in Syria and Iraq. He said back in his home country this wouldn’t have been tolerated for one second: the mosque would have been shut down and the Imam thrown in jail. He said that this particular mosque was hardly unusual.

What he could not for the life of him understand was why the authorities in the west allow these places to remain open, preaching extremism. He says western governments, rather than hassling moderate Muslims and the general population, should simply start rounding up the obvious extremists who preach their poisonous creed with impunity. He said if they are local they should be jailed and if they are foreign they should be deported immediately.

Although I am fully wedded to the ideas of freedom of speech, freedom of worship, and due process I could not help but think my friend did have something of a valid point. It’s all very well us telling moderate Muslims that they should do more, but they might well turn around and ask when we intend to do start doing something about it. As I have said before, why should moderate Muslims put their heads above the parapet and tackle the extremists in their midst when the host governments can’t even bring themselves to admit there is a problem?

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Praying for War

Via Bardon in the comments, I find this article by a Turkish writer to be a good example of what happens when people start to believe their own bullshit.

Under the heading “Turkey’s last warning to the West before it’s too late” we get this:

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Thursday that the new ban on headscarves in the workplace by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) would commence a struggle between the cross and the crescent.

Also speaking on Thursday, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu predicted that holy wars would soon begin in Europe.

Employers are now entitled to ban their staff from wearing visible religious symbols. You may say that it is not just for Muslims, but it is certainly intolerable for them. It is a direct attack on Muslim women wearing hijabs at work.

Can someone show me the difference between the ECJ’s ban on headscarves and new U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban, please?

President Erdoğan is totally right to compare the situation to a struggle between the cross and the crescent. And so is Minister Çavuşoğlu arguing that holy wars will soon begin in Europe. The refusal by the West to accept the equality of Muslims and Muslim nations is the sign of a clash of civilizations.

If you have decided to clench your fists, you are getting ready for a fight; if you hit, you will be hit back.

President Erdoğan and other government officials are raising their voices since Western governments have aggrieved Turks and Muslims.

Turks are warning one last time. They are asking: “Are you aware that you are playing with fire? What on earth is going on? Are you insane?” The rest is up to the Western governments.

To summarise: Western governments must do as us Turks and Muslims want or we will get violent and a bloody, religious war will ensue. But this is just a warning, not a threat. Uh-huh.

Here’s something for the author to consider: if things keep going the way they are, it may not be long before it is those very politicians to whom her countrymen are issuing “warnings” that are all that stand between Muslims and the general population in the war they appear to crave. I wonder how long she and her ilk expects to last should such a war begin and those politicians are out of the picture? Personally, I’d give her a matter of hours.

I might have said this before, but I think Muslims are making an enormous mistake, one that our current crop of leaders are facilitating and for which they will bear an enormous responsibility in future, in believing that the entire Western population has been cowed. Given the behaviour of the government in each country and a good chunk of their citizens I can see why they may think this, but I nevertheless believe it is a rather dangerous assumption to make. They may ought to read some history books and brush up on the fanatical violence we were willing to inflict on each other just a short time ago, and the fact that when push came to shove the Americans were prepared to obliterate two Japanese cities and sleep well that night. Much is made these days about how civilised we all are and how the EU is a guarantor of peace, and I daresay some people believe it. But I don’t see sixty or seventy years as being particularly long in a historical context, and certainly not long enough to have completely pacified an entire continent. Yugoslavia used to be a holiday destination for Brits wanting a beach and sunshine; a few years later we had the Siege of Sarajevo and Srebrenica.

I’m of the opinion that Europe and America still contain enough people who are, deep down, as fanatically violent as their forebears and this is kept in check only by a complex political and economic system which has been arrived at precisely to avoid any more bloodshed. However, two generations have now passed and people have gotten complacent, thinking this happy state of affairs is destined to be permanent, as if it were some sort of historical inevitability. What we are now seeing is outsiders kicking at the pillars of that political system and being encouraged to do so by hubristic insiders who don’t understand quite how delicate it is and what those pillars are made of. When those pillars have fallen in the past they did so rather unexpectedly, often at a time when people thought that peaceful times were here to stay. What were people saying about “the war to end all wars”? Didn’t quite work out like that, did it?

I’ve read about The Bloody Angle, Chancellorsville, Verdun, The Somme, Stalingrad, and Dresden. Not much love lost there, and everyone looked vaguely alike. I’ve also read about Auschwitz and the Gulags, and the Confederate POW camp at Andersonville: again, this was done by one set of people to another who spoke the same language, ate the same food, and listened to the same music. I’ve read about the Provisional IRA and their policy of kneecappings, and accounts of what happened when Russia’s OMON went into Grozny after artillery flattened it. None of what took place needed a translator. I’ve read about what the British, French, Belgians, Portuguese, Spanish, and Americans were prepared to do to people who were brown or yellow and didn’t sound much like them, and it is grisly stuff. When it comes to barbaric savagery, us Westerners have a pretty impressive record and much of it is within living memory.

But hey, perhaps the West has gone soft. Perhaps the current crop of politicians really are representative of their populations and everyone will sit idly by and do nothing as strange foreigners turn up in large numbers and unleash a holy war over issues such as wearing the hijab. All I’m saying is that are running one hell of a fucking risk. Perhaps they ought to tone down the “warnings” and think this through a bit.

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Who Will You Run To?

Who will you run to when it all falls down?

Heart

I’ve been thinking for quite some time, and even mentioned it on this blog, that the transition of the gay rights movement from “keep the government out of the bedroom” to “get the government to insist the public comes in, watches, and claps in approval” will turn out badly for them in the long term. There are already signs that the feminists and trans lobbyists are going to throw gay men under the bus in the great game of victimhood poker, particularly if their political views are not of the approved kind. Look at the vitriol being heaped on Milo Yiannopolous at the moment: being a gay Jew with a preference for black men hasn’t stopped him being branded an actual Nazi by his opponents, including some supposedly respectable media outlets.

By moving away from the principle that consenting adults ought to do as they please towards one of forcing moral acceptance of their choices onto a reluctant public via the legal system, the gays have lost a lot of natural allies in the process, those people who may or may not have approved of what they do but on the principles of freedom and liberty believed they should have been allowed to get on with it. The question they ought to now be asking is who will they turn to when they are stripped of their victim status and chucked under the bus. They’re not going to find a lot of sympathy among those who didn’t care who shagged who but cared very much that the proprietors of pizza restaurants in Indiana were being crucified by the media, politicians, and gay lobby after being goaded into uttering the wrong opinions. The mainstream, in other words.

This latest business about Trump’s Executive Order has revealed that it’s not just gay men who might face this issue in future. I have said enough times that this order was clumsily implemented and the chaos at the airports could have and should have been avoided, but otherwise it is not much more than what any other country does, or indeed any other American President has done in the past. It is not “aimed at Muslims” and with the exception of Iran it affects only those countries which are in various levels of civil war and have no functioning security apparatus with which their American counterparts can liaise. Plus it is temporary. Granted the list of countries does not reflect the citizenship of those who have carried out terrorist attacks on US soil before, but perhaps the Trump administration is looking to the future rather than extrapolating from the past.

One can expect Trump’s domestic political opponents to scream blue murder about it, because they would go into meltdown if he scrapped the US nuclear weapons programme and diverted the funds to orphanages and baby seal sanctuaries. But the knee-jerk reaction of Europeans is an interesting one. Europe has a nasty habit of getting itself into an almighty mess which the United States eventually has to pull them out of. We had two World Wars which required American intervention in Europe, then the military umbrella throughout the Cold War which kept the Russians out, and then the mess in Yugoslavia which the Europeans just watched rumble on for years until the Yanks got fed up and intervened to end it. Given the rather alarming issue of Islamic terrorism in Europe, the latest example of which was (again) in Paris two days ago, and the millions of migrants that Merkel and others have allowed in unchecked and unscreened, one would have thought Europe’s leaders might not have launched into a tirade against Trump exercising the right of the US to decide who enters and on what terms. If things unravel in Europe and the security situation gets out of hand (and I think this is highly likely) then Europe will need the cooperation and assistance of the US in dealing with it. One hopes that Americans will appreciate the distinction between Europe’s supposed leaders and its general population, but there’s no guarantee of that and the more the anti-US shrieking goes on the less they Americans will be inclined to do so. Whether we like it or not, in the absence of the willingness of Europeans to pay for it in terms of military expenditure and tough political decisions, the United States is the ultimate guarantor of European culture as we know it. Trump has already said Europe should address the former, and if Europe keeps ducking the latter while hurling vitriolic abuse at America for trying, however cack-handedly, to get a grip on Islamic terrorism one wonders to whom they expect to turn if and when everything goes to ratshit.

But it’s not just Europeans. A year or so back I knew a woman who was nominally Muslim but very Westernised: perfect English, US educated, secular in the main in that she drank, partied, etc. Only she thought Israel ought not to exist, and she said so with such casualness that I could only assume this passed for an uncontroversial, everyday opinion in her circles. I presented this anecdote on another blog recently and somebody told me a similar story of a moderate Muslim he knew in his office who had all the hallmarks of accepting Western culture only she agreed with the fatwa on Salman Rushdie. Trust between Muslims and everyone else is eroding rapidly, and this is not so much to do with the hardline terrorists as the perception – real or not, it doesn’t matter – that an awful lot of Muslims quietly agree with the aims (and sometimes the methods) of the terrorists and generally would prefer to see Muslims hold more power and influence than they currently do, and all that entails. Anecdotes like the two I mention above do little to improve things, and it is sad to say that when I have drilled down into the opinions of supposedly secular, moderate Muslims their views fall some way short of the ideals espoused by Western culture.

This latest episode on the Executive Order has revealed that further: it has been almost universally opposed by secular, Westernised Muslims who have branded it a “Muslim ban” and decided that they have more solidarity with people in Yemen, Somalia, and Libya than they do an elected American administration simply because the former are Muslim. In theory I am Christian: I certainly have a baptism certificate. However, I don’t have the slightest thing in common with other people on that basis, none whatsoever. I had very much in common with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre because I share many aspects of the French culture which the terrorists were attacking. I also have a lot in common with Israelis subject to daily rocket attacks and suicide bombings, but none of this is based in religion. I show solidarity with one side or another based on shared culture, values, and beliefs. Which is exactly what Muslims do, only I have noticed that a lot of those who claim they hold Western values dear threw their lot in with people with whom they have absolutely nothing in common in Yemen, Somalia, and Sudan except that they are Muslims and this appears to have been the driving factor. I would never show solidarity with anybody simply because they are Christian: yet a lot of supposedly secular Muslims have leaped forward to show solidarity with other Muslims, in opposition to the secular policies of a fairly elected government.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this per se, Muslims appear to demonstrate an impressive solidarity when faced with what they perceive to be an attack on their religion. The fact that almost every possible slight by a non-Muslim is leaped on by millions and portrayed as an attack on Muslims everywhere, egged on by the useful idiots in the media and academia, doesn’t do anything to change the fact that very, very few Muslims actually speak out against the crowd and take the side of Western values and principles over solidarity with their fellow Muslims.

However, the problem will come when they find themselves on the wrong end of one of Islam’s many internal conflicts. In fact, that problem is already here: few in the West trust the Syrians to police their own ranks of jihadists because they don’t believe the Syrians have an interest in doing so. When push comes to shove, many people in the West believe Syrians, Iraqis, and others will side with the jihadists ahead of their Western host populations. Hence, people don’t want to take in migrants from the Islamic world. Had moderate Muslims been more serious about accepting Western values, adapting, and integrating chances are the Western nations would be ready to accept far more refugees from the conflict zones. Instead they have presented the West with almost two decades of clear demonstrations, one after another, that they are Muslims first and foremost and always will be, and Western values will always come second.

A lot of the secular, modern, educated Muslims who sided with Yemeni, Sudanese, and Somalian Muslims in opposition to the moderate, secular decision of an elected Western government are going to find themselves on the wrong end of a conflict internal to Islam, or possibly even external to it. Like it or not, they are going to be caught up in the actions of the hardliners either at home or in a future conflict between them and secular, Western forces. When that time comes, who will they run to? They’ve already nailed their colours to the mast, and chosen sides. Another few years of this and moderate, secular Muslims are going to find, like the gay men will shortly, that they have no allies left that are worth a damn.

I think there are going to be a lot of people in the near future desperately banging on people’s doors citing principles they abandoned long ago or never held, asking for help. And those doors won’t open, because those behind it think they’re the enemy. And half the time, they’ll be right. I think we’re fast getting to the point when people need to have a long, hard think about what they truly believe in and start saying it loud and clear.

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Terrorist Numbers vs Effectiveness

This tweet has been doing the rounds, and it’s actually pretty funny:

I have heard a few people expressing this same sentiment, i.e. that Trump’s restrictions on immigration will lead to an increase in terrorist numbers. Leaving aside the fact that this rather too casually assumes Muslims are prone to turn to terrorism over relatively mundane things and if this is the case then maybe restricting their movements isn’t such a bad idea, I think the point is anyway moot.

We used to hear this a lot during the American response to 9/11, first with the attack on Afghanistan to remove the Taliban and then the supposedly related Iraq War. But I grew skeptical of that argument when it was applied to Israeli policies, namely their assassination of successive Hamas leaders in 2004 and the building of the security barrier. Many commentators warned that neither would lead to peace and both would result in more Palestinians turning to terrorism.

Only I thought this missed the point spectacularly. At the time these policies were being carried out, Israel was already subject to sustained terrorist attacks carried out by Palestinians. At that point the precise number of terrorists didn’t matter but limiting their effectiveness did, and it was to limit their effectiveness that Israel enacted these particular policies. If the number of suicide attacks fell as a consequence (and they did) then the possibility that a few hundred more terrorists joined the ranks of those who already existed was of secondary importance. Many people condemn Israel policies as making things worse, but in the minds of a lot of Israelis things really couldn’t get any worse in terms of relations with the Palestinians and their supporters so they really oughtn’t to be too concerned about this when enacting policies to keep them safe. Long term Israel might have the luxury of worrying about how many terrorists it is facing, but at the time (and now) I don’t think it matters much to them whether there are 10,000 or 50,000: limiting their effectiveness becomes the priority.

I’m sure Jim Gamble knows this, but judging by his Twitter feed he appears to be more interested in scoring political points. Given the scale of what the British government faced in Northern Ireland it was probably correct to consider the effect on terrorist numbers should they crack down too hard on the Republicans: the conflict was more or less contained, except for the occasional bombing on the mainland, and there was a balance to be had between limiting the effectiveness of the IRA and seriously pissing off the ordinary nationalists. But the situation faced by Israel was quite different, and hence the balance point shifted.

Whether his policy is the right way to go about it or not, Trump is trying to keep terrorists out of the United States. I cannot read Trump’s mind but I might guess that he has looked at America’s efforts in the War on Terror over the past decade and a half and reached the conclusion that trying to eradicate Islamic terrorism is an impossible task and so limiting the ability of terrorists to inflict harm within the US ought to be a priority. Some may argue that it is better there are only 100 Islamic terrorists hell-bent on attacking the USA instead of 2,000 and they’d be right; but if there are currently 100,000 such people and policies to limit their ability to enter the USA bumps these numbers up to 120,000 it is reasonable to ask what the difference is. A cursory glance around the world will tell you there is no shortage of Islamic terrorists and their numbers will be in the tens of thousands even if Trump throws himself off his own tower and Louis Farrakhan gets installed as the Grand Mufti of the newly formed Islamic Republic of North America. At this point their precise numbers mean no more than whether Nato was facing 50,000 or 80,000 Soviet tanks at the Fulda Gap: they were vastly outnumbered, and so they needed to come up with a way with countering them.

There are people who think Muslims will interpret Trump’s Executive Order as a “war on Islam” and it will be “us against them”. Only we’ve heard this line repeated after 9/11, Afghanistan, the Iraq War, and in the aftermath of every terrorist attack since, and when something is repeated often enough it sometimes comes to be. There are a growing number of people in the West who already believe that it is “us against them” and we are already at war with Islam, only the leadership are reluctant to say so. These beliefs are harboured by a good number of those who voted for Trump and support his immigration policies, indeed this is precisely why a lot of them voted for him. If things keep heading in this direction the number of people who believe Islamic terrorism will always exist as long as Islam exists, and the priority for the West should be to put as much physical distance between Muslim populations and everyone else, will increase and will eventually become a majority.

Both Muslims and Western politicians should be a lot more concerned about that group growing than terrorist numbers.

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The Laws in Dubai

I meant to comment on this earlier:

A British woman has been charged with having extra-marital sex in Dubai after reporting she was raped, according to a UK-based legal advice group.

The Detained in Dubai group said the woman was arrested after she claimed she was raped by two British men.

The woman, who is in her 20s, was reportedly attacked by two men from Birmingham while she was on holiday.

And according to the Daily Mail:

Last year, Ms Waterman Smith waived her anonymity to reveal how she was raped when her attackers tampered with her drink at the Rock Bottom Bar in the Regent Palace Hotel.

Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t know about Dubai: the laws there can not only be very strict, but they are also flouted so brazenly people forget they exist.  For instance, it is illegal to drink in Dubai unless one of the following is the case:

1) You drinking in the bar of a hotel in which you are resident, i.e. a paying guest.

2) You are a resident of Dubai or one of the other Emirates and you hold a liquor-license.

In other words, if you are drinking in a bar at a hotel in which you are not resident, you are breaking the law.  The problem is, everyone does this, and the whole place is set up to allow this.  At least one bar – the Irish Village under the tennis stadium – is not attached to any hotel, yet is packed with tourists.  Provided there are no problems, the authorities turn a blind eye.

Also, it is illegal for a man and woman to share a hotel or residence in Dubai unless they are married.  Enforcing this law would destroy the tourist industry overnight, but that is the law nonetheless and if you live in one of the smaller hotels you will sometimes be asked by the hotel staff to prove you are married if you’re trying to bring a girl home.  Which can be a bit difficult if you don’t know her name, as I have seen once with an Arab trying to sneak a prostitute into his quarters.  So if a British woman turns up with her boyfriend in Dubai for a weekend stopover on the way to Thailand and they check into a hotel together, technically they are in breach of the law.  Again, none of this is a problem – until something goes wrong.  Then, usually for the first time, somebody finds out what the law actually says.

Islamic laws apply in Dubai, and they say that a woman is not allowed to be alone in a hotel room with a man who is not her husband.  This is based on the belief that a woman who is alone in a hotel room with a man who is not her husband might have sex with him, and that is prohibited in Islamic law.  Now this might be a bit backward, but that’s how they think.  And the law is also there because they believe a woman alone in a hotel room with a strange man or men might be subject to an attack, and to prevent this they simply make it illegal for her to be in that position in the first place.  It might be illiberal, unfair, misogynistic, etc. but it is not inherently stupid, and it avoids them having to get into the “he said/she said” arguments which plague all such cases everywhere else.

I know Rock Bottom Bar, it is an absolute shithole with a sticky carpet – or at least it was when I was there in 2003-6.  It is chock-full of wasted tourists, and it is a meat-market for those looking for a pick-up.  The bar is well named, which is more than can be said for the hotel itself: there is little that is regal or palatial about the Regent Palace.  I never knew of anyone who stayed there, and would guess the bar provides the bulk of its revenue.  Those people staggering back to a hotel in the company of somebody they just met are unlikely to be met with a sympathetic hearing from the authorities if something goes wrong.

Of course, if she was raped then an appalling crime has occurred.  But the authorities are in a difficult position here: the law says she should not have been with them in the first place, precisely to avoid unpleasantness like this.  Us westerners might not like this law, but that is how the Emiratis govern themselves, and to be fair they give tourists and expats a free pass on this – until something goes wrong and their hand is forced.  When the woman concerned made the complaint she didn’t know the law, and she has now compelled them to enforce it.  If they turn a blind eye then locals – who are more closely policed on such matters than tourists, especially women – will be entitled to ask why the law is not being applied in such an obvious case, and will likely think her being white and Western is the reason (pity the Bangladeshi maids who have been imprisoned and flogged for minor offences).

This will be the case regardless of whether the men are charged with rape or not: the reports are unclear as to whether the two men will be charged, are on bail, or are free to leave but the two offences are separate as I understand it.  Now it may turn out that the woman gets charged and jailed and the men go free without anyone taking her claims seriously, which would be pretty awful.  But it might also be the case that the police take her seriously but don’t have any evidence except for her say-so that she was raped, and aren’t prepared to put them on trial just to make the country look more modern (as if rape trials in Western countries are not fraught with problems).

The accusations of drink tampering only serve to make things worse: the Dubai police will know Rock Bottom well, and the type of place that it is.  Perhaps there have been other cases of drinks being spiked in there, and if so the police would know about it: more complaints would have been forthcoming, and undercover policemen – who frequent the bars – would see it.  Also, the bar managers and security would be keeping a sharp eye-out: the last thing they want is a police investigation.  That’s leaving aside the issue of where a date-rape drug would be bought from.  Sex isn’t hard to come by in Dubai, the place being rammed full of prostitutes.  Drugs might be easily obtained (I have no idea), but I think the police would take some convincing that she had her drink spiked and wasn’t just hammered.  If the two men were residents, the police might consider it a possibility.  If they were tourists, no chance.  I hope to hell she didn’t make up the bit about her drink being tampered to cover for her being totally wasted on tequila, leading the police to doubt her entire story.

I am not writing this in defence of Dubai or the prevailing Islamic laws, I don’t like either the place or the way it is run, which is why I left.  However, I don’t think berating the Dubai police is exactly fair either: rape accusations are notoriously difficult to deal with anywhere, and they have tried to avoid their occurrence by applying laws which I don’t agree with, but then I’m not in charge.  It might simply be the case there is no evidence that a rape occurred, which of course is not proof that it did not, only that charges cannot be pressed with the hope of a conviction.  One could argue that the Dubai authorities should do more to inform visitors of what the laws are, but had they done so would the woman in question have stayed home with a book and given Rock Bottom a wide berth?  I doubt it.  There are serious issues with the way women are treated in Dubai and the wider Middle East, particularly as regard equality under the law and sexual assault/rape.  I just don’t think this is the best case to put forward as an example of why things ought to change.

If she did go to Rock Bottom, have her drink spiked, and was then raped she has my every sympathy.  If that was indeed the case, I think the Dubai authorities will figure this out and find a way to drop the charges in a face-saving manner, which they may do anyway even if they don’t believe her.  What the British press needs to do is resist the temptation to stand on their soapbox and piss off the Emiratis so that they throw the book at her just to make a point.

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