Merkel Vows Swift Security Enhancements to Combat ‘Most Difficult Trial’ of Terrorism

Merkel Vows Swift Security Enhancements to Combat ‘Most Difficult Trial’ of Terrorism

German Chancellor Angela Merkel records her annual New Year’s speech at the chancellery in Berlin on Dec. 30, 2016.

In an address to mark the new year, German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged that it’s “especially bitter” when refugees commit terrorist attacks, vowing an enhanced focus on the country’s security services in the face of a greater terrorist threat from within.

In addition to a truck plowing into a Berlin market six days before Christmas, Merkel noted other attacks that have made 2016 “a year of difficult trials.”

“Doubtless the most difficult trial is Islamist terrorism, which has been setting its sights on Germany for years now. In 2016 it struck us in the heart of our country: in Würzburg, in Ansbach, and just a few days ago at a Christmas market at the Gedächtniskirche here in Berlin,” she said. “And yes, it is especially bitter and detestable when terrorist attacks are committed by people who came to our country claiming to seek protection, people whom our country was eager to help for this reason, and who have now made a cruel mockery of this helping spirit through their deeds, just as they make a cruel mockery of those who truly need and deserve our protection.”

Still, the chancellor said, she feels “confidence amidst such deep sorrow and grief for the dead and wounded,” in “our resolute determination to counter the terrorists’ world of hate with our compassion and our cohesion.”

“By going on with our lives and our work, we tell the terrorists: you are murderers filled with hatred, but you will not determine how we live or how we want to live. We are free, compassionate and open,” Merkel said. “And with images in our minds of bombed-out Aleppo in Syria, we have to say once again how important and right it was that during the past year, too, our country helped those in true need of our protection find their footing in Germany and integrate into our society.”

“All of this is reflected in our democracy, in our government based on the rule of law, and in our values. They are the counter-project to the hate-filled world of terrorism, and they will be stronger than terrorism. We together are stronger. Our state is stronger.”

The Christian Democratic Union leader, who has been chancellor since 2005 and is consistently ranked the most powerful woman in the world, told Germans that the country “does everything possible to guarantee security and freedom for its citizens.”

“This work is never finished, and this year we have provided a lot of new support to our security agencies. In 2017, the Federal Government will swiftly initiate and implement the necessary measures wherever political or legal changes are needed,” she vowed.

Eight days ago, Merkel ordered a comprehensive review of Germany’s security apparatus in response to anger over what wasn’t done to stop Tunisian Anis Amri, 24, the market terrorist who had been denied asylum but was still in the country and on security services’ radar at the time of the attack.

“The Amri case raises questions – questions that are not only tied to this crime but also to the time before, since he came to Germany in July 2015” from Italy, she said at the time. “We will now intensively examine to what extent official procedures need to be changed.”

The chancellor added that she had spoken with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi and told him deportations of rejected asylum seekers would be “significantly” sped up. Amri’s deportation was reportedly delayed because Tunisia would not claim him.

Merkel also took a shot at Brexit in the new year’s address.

 “Many people also associate the year 2016 with a feeling that the entire world has fallen to pieces or that things that were long considered to be finished achievements have now been called into question. The European Union, for example. Or even parliamentary democracy, which purportedly does not attend to the interests of citizens, but rather serves to benefit only a few. What distorted pictures,” she said.

“Yes, Europe is slow. It is onerous. It has to weather heavy blows like the departure of one of its member states. And yes, Europe should focus on the things that it can truly do better than a nation state. But no, we Germans should never let ourselves be led to believe that a national solo effort could ever bring us a happy future. Where Europe is challenged as a whole – as it is in global competition, in the protection of our external borders, or regarding migration – it must find a response as a whole, however painstaking and tough this may be. And we Germans have every interest in playing a leading role in this.”

In the new year’s Bundestag election, Merkel said she would “champion a political discourse in which we will debate many things vigorously, but will always do so as democrats who never forget that it is an honor to serve our democracy and thereby to serve the people.”

“Cohesion, openness, our democracy and a strong economy that serves the well-being of all: these are the things that make me confident in our future here in Germany, even at the end of a difficult year,” she said. “None of these values are simply given to us. We will have to work for all of them in 2017 too, all of us together, each contributing to the best of our abilities – and this work will be worth it.”

Originally posted 2017-01-03 10:02:59. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Child Jihadists Hunt Down, Execute Bound Prisoners in New ISIS Video

Child Jihadists Hunt Down, Execute Bound Prisoners in New ISIS Video

Child Jihadists Hunt Down, Execute Bound Prisoners in New ISIS Video

(ISIS video screenshot)

The Islamic State released a grisly new video today showing child jihadists hunting down bound “apostates” in a live-fire training exercise.

The half-hour-long production, from ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, shows child jihadists — boys about 9 to 12 years old — crawling through brush carrying rifles and snipping through a barbed-wire fence toward a training compound with one-story buildings and dummies as targets.

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Originally posted 2017-01-03 11:01:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

5 Ways Bill Maher Is Right and Reza Aslan Wrong About Islam

5 Ways Bill Maher Is Right and Reza Aslan Wrong About Islam

The Bill Maher/Ben Affleck Islam controversy just keeps rolling, with mainstream media outlets pumping out article after article to excoriate Maher for going off the reservation and to try, ever more desperately, to shore up their sagging Islam-Is-A-Religion-of-Peace dogma. It is no surprise that leftist media darling Reza Aslan is at the center of these efforts, appearing on CNN and penning an op-ed in the New York Times to attack Maher and warn leftists who may be tempted to believe Maher that telling the truth about Islam is still “racism” and “bigotry.”

The only problem is, as is so often the case, Aslan is wrong. Here are the five chief misstatements he has made during the Maher kerfuffle:

1. “The abiding nature of scripture rests not so much in its truth claims as it does in its malleability, its ability to be molded and shaped into whatever form a worshiper requires.”

Bill Maher, according to the headline of Aslan’s Times piece, “misunderstands religion.” But then Reza tells us in the article that religions are infinitely malleable, capable of being “molded and shaped into whatever form a worshiper requires.”

If that were true, however, then it would be impossible to misunderstand them, because anything at all that one said about them would be as equally valid as any other view. Thus it would be impossible for Bill Maher, or anyone else, to misunderstand religion or Islam in particular.

What Aslan is claiming here is absolutely nihilistic. He’s saying essentially that words have no meaning, that the various scriptures of various religions have no essential content or character, that the religions themselves are meaningless and interchangeable, and that people are never inspired to change their behavior by the teachings of a religion, which don’t exist anyway, since religions are wholly and solely what people decide they will be. Can a religion’s teachings transform a believer into a “violent misogynist” or a “peaceful, democratic feminist”?

For Aslan, the answer is no: religions are just putty, to be formed by those who believe in them into any shape they like. So tomorrow Muslims could begin to declare that there are five gods, despite the Qur’an’s fierce monotheism, and Christians could begin murdering people while screaming, “Jesus is Lord!”

This is, of course, completely absurd. Religions don’t just depend on what the believer brings to them; believers are also shaped by what they teach. While there is diversity within religious traditions, that diversity is circumscribed by the broad parameters of the religion’s core teachings. Religious teachings actually have real content and neither can be nor are shaped by believers into whatever they like.

2. “The same Bible that commands Jews to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Leviticus 19:18) also exhorts them to ‘kill every man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey,’ who worship any other God (1 Sam. 15:3). The same Jesus Christ who told his disciples to ‘turn the other cheek’ (Matthew 5:39) also told them that he had ‘not come to bring peace but the sword’ (Matthew 10:34), and that “he who does not have a sword should sell his cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36). The same Quran that warns believers ‘if you kill one person it is as though you have killed all of humanity’ (5:32) also commands them to ‘slay the idolaters wherever you find them’ (9:5).”

Aslan doesn’t mention that I Samuel 15:3 is not an open-ended command to all believers, as is Qur’an 9:5; rather, it is a specific directive given to Saul regarding the Amalekites. If you are neither Saul nor an Amalekite, it doesn’t concern you. As for Luke 22:36, Aslan doesn’t mention that shortly thereafter, when one of the disciples uses his sword and cuts off the ear of a slave of the high priest, Jesus rebukes the sword-bearer and heals the man’s ear (Luke 22:51).

And while examples are ready to hand of Muslims quoting Qur’an 9:5 to justify violence (including Osama bin Laden), Aslan can adduce not a single example of a Jew committing an act of violence and justifying it by referring to I Samuel 15:3, or a Christian committing an act of violence and justifying it by referring to Luke 22:36.

Also, while admonishing his readers that “no religion exists in a vacuum,” Aslan completely ignores the interpretative traditions of all three religions, and treats their scriptures as if they do indeed exist in a vacuum. They don’t. And neither Judaism nor Christianity, in any of their forms, has now or has ever had any doctrines equivalent to the Islamic doctrine that the Muslim community “makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians …until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax” (‘Umdat al-Salik O9.8). The quotation comes from a manual of Islamic law certified by the most prestigious and influential institution in Sunni Islam, al-Azhar, as conforming “to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community.”

I challenge Reza Aslan to provide a quotation from any Jewish or Christian authority comparable to al-Azhar, calling upon believers to make war against and subjugate non-believers. He will, of course, ignore this challenge, or, if he does take note of it, he will respond as he has in the past, by calling me fat or gay or stupid, or all of the above, and still ignoring the challenge. Aslan’s frenzied rudeness and obnoxiousness to those who dare to disagree with him is well-documented. It also manifests, as it does in the case of other insufferably arrogant academics, a deep insecurity that is likely born of the strain of having to spend one’s days putting forward and propping up fantasies and falsehoods. But the mainstream media and academia today are one-party states; if one deviates from the acceptable line, one need not be engaged intellectually or even treated with basic human courtesy.

3. Female genital mutilation is not a Muslim problem, “it’s a Central African problem. Eritrea has almost 90 percent female genital mutilation. It’s a Christian country. Ethiopia has 75 percent female genital mutilation. It’s a Christian country. Nowhere else in the Muslim, Muslim-majority states is female genital mutilation an issue.”

Despite his renown as a “scholar,” Aslan, as I have shown with numerous examples, is not very bright, and constantly makes basic errors of fact. Eritrea and Ethiopia aren’t in Central Africa; they’re in East Africa. And Aslan’s claim that “nowhere else in the Muslim, Muslim-majority states is female genital mutilation an issue” is completely false. Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization declared female genital mutilation a “human right.” A Muslim cleric in Australia has defended it. It is a huge problem in Britain, and a huge percentage of the Muslims in Britain are not from East Africa or Africa at all. It is common in Iraq. It is well-established in the Maldives. And 41 percent of Kurdish women have been victims of it.

Nor does Aslan mention that while some non-Muslims practice it, only in Islam is it approved. Female genital mutilation is sanctioned in Islamic law: “Circumcision is obligatory (for every male and female) (by cutting off the piece of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the bazr ‘clitoris’ [this is called khufaadh ‘female circumcision’]).” — ‘Umdat al-Salik e4.3, translated by Mark Durie, The Third Choice, p. 64

4. It is a free and open society for women in “in Indonesia and Malaysia. It certainly is in Bangladesh. It certainly is in Turkey.”

Human Rights Watch reported that “Indonesia’s official Commission on Violence against Women reported in August that national and local governments in Indonesia had passed 60 new discriminatory regulations in 2013 in addition to the 282 such rules already on the books. These include 79 local bylaws requiring women to wear the hijab, or head scarf.” In Malaysia, the Malaysian Bar asked the government in 2013 to enact legislation ending gender discrimination. In Bangladesh, women “still face deprivation and oppression and the legal and socio-economic system does not do enough to prevent discrimination and violence against women.” A 2012 report on Turkey said that “discrimination, violence, unequal power relations, lack of education and child marriage are still problems that Turkish women face.”

5. Benjamin Netanyahu “is absolutely incorrect in talking about ISIS equaling Hamas. That’s just ridiculous. No one takes him seriously when he says things like that. And, frankly, it’s precisely why, under his leadership, Israel has become so incredibly isolated from the rest of the global community.”

Why? How is Hamas not like ISIS? They’re both Islamic, they both want Sharia, they both want a caliphate, they both believe in violent jihad and the subjugation of Infidels. Hamas doesn’t fight anyone but Israelis and the Islamic State fights everyone in its path, but they have the same overall goal. Note that Aslan didn’t offer any evidence to support his dismissal of Netanyahu’s equation as “ridiculous.”

But he didn’t have to, of course. Aslan can be secure in the knowledge that he will never be challenged in the mainstream media on his egregious ignorance of a field in which he claims expertise. He has the requisite politically acceptable opinions, and that is all that matters.

Trump and the New Anti-Semitism

Trump and the New Anti-Semitism

Has the definition of anti-Semitic changed to being too pro-Israel?

You would think so, given the continuing assertions by liberals, progressives, and the media that Trump and/or his new administration and/or Steve Bannon are anti-Semites.

Meanwhile Donald Trump is emerging as the most pro-Israel (prospective) president ever, even more than Harry Truman, who, although he recognized the fledgling Jewish state, harbored ambivalence.

No such thing from Trump. Just this Wednesday he supported Israel at a moment of crisis when Egypt’s al-Sisi put a surprise resolution for immediate action before the UN Security Council, highly critical of Israel for its West Bank settlements. No sooner had Netanyahu tweeted his dismay to his putative ally, asking the Egyptian leader to pull back, than Trump jumped to the Israeli PM’s defense, posting on Twitter and Facebook:

The resolution being considered in the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed. Peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations. This puts Israel in a very poor negotiating position and is extremely unfair to all Israelis.

Clearly not anxious to cross the incoming American president, al-Sisi shelved the resolution posthaste.

It’s hard to imagine Obama doing anything like what Trump did (though I certainly can imagine him doing the reverse — and he may still). On top of that, Trump just nominated David Friedman as ambassador to Israel, a selection that foreshadows a radical turnaround in U.S. policy from pursuing the endlessly failing Oslo process. It also signals that Trump, unlike so many presidents and candidates before him, really will move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, an act that can only add a sense of permanence to the always-embattled Jewish state.

Despite all this — and despite there being considerably more Jews in and around Trump, including members of his cabinet, advisers, lawyers, and his immediate family (daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, several grandchildren) than any other president in our history — the mind-boggling “anti-Semitic” meme persists.

It appears as accepted truth in Maureen Dowd’s most recent New York Times column (“Monsieur Vogue Is Leaving Trumpland“).  She quotes Monsieur Vogue (aka former Vogue editor André Leon Talley) as saying,  “In the end, why pick on her [Melania] when they should be picking on her husband’s billionaire cabinet and his seeming readiness to turn the country back towards oppression, anti-Semitism, anti-culturalism, etc.”

Uh-huh…

Now I’m not sure where this supposed anti-Semitism is coming from (Bannon again?), but I’m rather certain that fashionista Talley — who had come out sorta, kinda for Trump in the Daily Mail — was taking a lot of incoming from his threatened cohorts for his tiny act of bravery. How could a man of that “importance” in the arts, if that’s what it is, wander off the reservation?  Terrified of ostracism, loss of status, etc., he reached for the ever-ready meme of anti-Semitism, without any real knowledge of the subject or deliberately ignoring whatever small amount he might have.

No surprise there. For these people, real knowledge is not applicable. What is going on is something beyond what Andrew McCarthy called in his book “Willful Blindness.” It’s “Willful Distortion.” The facts be damned. The truth doesn’t matter, as long as the “essence” of truth, their version of it anyway, even if it’s a total lie, is there.

In her article, Dowd is essentially piggy-backing on Talley’s pathetic cowardice and dishonesty — going along with the anti-Semitic meme and the rest of the bilge (anti-culturalism???) — without having to say so explicitly. She too has a cohort to appease, which she does regularly, making most of her cloying columns nauseatingly disingenuous.

What is really going on here is a manifestation of panic. What if Trump is right? What if he’s a good, or even great,  president and goes on to be reelected? Then what do we do? Everything we ever stood for is called into question. Personality disintegration is imminent.

Well, sorry.  That’s how things go in the world of the New Anti-Semitism. Those who perpetrate it we could call the New Reactionaries. Many liberals and progressives fit easily in that category, living, as they do, so deeply in the past. And if you live in the past, seeing what’s in front of your face now is difficult, maybe even impossible, as is acknowledging the changes that naturally occur over time

Indeed, a fair amount of this New Anti-Semitism is perpetuated by liberal Jews whose world views are stuck in the 1960s and ’70s, when more anti-Semitism was on the right.  No longer.  Backfield in motion, as they say.  These days, with only minor outliers, a fair portion provocateurs, almost all the anti-Semitism is from the left.  From the international BDS movement to the coddling of the Jew-hating jihadists to the Democratic Convention of 2012, if you’re on the left, the anti-Semitism is on you, baby.

Are Europe’s ‘Extreme Right’ Parties Really So Extreme?

Are Europe’s ‘Extreme Right’ Parties Really So Extreme?

Not more than an hour — or was it ten minutes — after news broke of Monday night’s truck terror attack in Berlin, reports began to appear from the usual suspects (CNN, Reuters, AP, BBC, etc.) with the requisite sentences and paragraphs expressing concern that the horrific event would play into the hands of the “extreme right-wing” parties of Europe.

Buried not so deep was the implication that, bad as these attacks were, something even worse loomed, the return of Nazism or Nazi-like fascism.

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