“Brexit” – What Else Is Wrong with the European Union? by Josephine Bacon

  • Ever since the inception of the European Economic Community, British politicians across the entire political spectrum have been perceptive enough to realize that Britain will lose its sovereignty and turn into a vassal of the France-Germany axis.

  • This month, in March, an official audit reported that EU auditors refuse to sign off more than £100 billion ($144 billion) of EU spending. The Brussels accounts have not been given the all-clear for 19 years in a row.

There is a joke going around the internet it how the European Union works (or doesn’t):

Pythagoras’s theorem – 24 words.
Lord’s Prayer – 66 words.
Archimedes’s Principle – 67 words.
10 Commandments – 179 words.
Gettysburg address – 286 words.
U.S. Declaration of Independence – 1,300 words.
U.S. Constitution with all 27 Amendments – 7,818 words.

EU regulations on the sale of cabbage – 26,911 words.

Why are EU Regulations so long? Maybe because they have to be translated into the 18 official languages? Interpreters also have to be found who can work into and from those languages at the European Parliament. The translation budget is massive. One of the official languages currently is Irish. It can confidently be said that there is no one in the Republic of Ireland who does not speak English; many Irish do not even speak or understand Irish, and certainly none of Ireland’s politicians will be fluent only in Irish. But all of the “acquis,” the body of regulations that are already part of the EU body of laws, also have to be translated into the languages of candidates for EU membership, such as Turkey, thus adding more languages to the tally each time a new regulation is passed. If Catalonia breaks away from Spain and remains a member of the EU, Catalan will need to be added, even though Catalan politicians all speak perfect Spanish.

Corruption and Waste

This month, in March, an official audit reported that EU auditors refuse to sign off more than £100 billion ($144 billion) of EU spending. The Brussels accounts have not been given the all-clear for 19 years in a row. Moreover, the EU is apparently less than incompetent at managing the funds it has.

This is happening at a time when the EU is demanding that the UK pay it £1.7 billion ($2.45 billion). It was reported on September 17, 2015 in the Daily Mail newspaper that Britain had reluctantly paid this sum, which prime minister David Cameron himself, a fan of staying in Europe, has described as “appalling.”

Also reported on September 17 in the Daily Telegraph, was that, according to the annual report of the European Court of Auditors, £5.5 billion ($7.9 billion) of the EU budget last year was misspent because of controls on spending that were deemed by experts to be only “partially effective.”[1]

The audit, published on March 17, 2016, found that £109 billion ($157 billion) out of a total of £117 billion spent by the EU in 2013 alone was “affected by material error” — that is, disappeared into various people’s pockets.

Thanks to the European Union, the Value Added Tax (VAT), the tax which in the UK replaced purchase tax in 1973, is now applied to services as well as goods. Such a tax discriminates against service-based economies, such as those of the developed countries, because such economies are taxed so they cannot compete with services provided outside the EU. Each member country’s tax regime is micro-managed by the European Union. The former purchase tax was specifically designed for taxing luxury goods, but the VAT is now imposed even on essentials needed by the poorest members of society. Furthermore, the VAT discriminates against women because the EU requires the member states to tax products used by only one gender, such as tampons.

The “Traveling Circus”

Few people outside European parliamentary circles are aware that there is an EU “traveling circus.” Once a month, the European Parliament moves from Brussels in Belgium to Strasbourg in France. Even though Members of European Parliament (MEPs) voted to scrap this move, the French government, which initiated this madness in the first place, has the power to block any such decision and is apparently determined to do so. That is another fact which goes unmentioned by those determined to keep the UK in the EU. When this author challenged an MEP, Mary Honeyball, on the subject, she claimed that it was “being dealt with,” but the French government is fiercely opposed to keeping the parliament exclusively in Brussels and it has the power to block any such reform. The cost of the “travelling circus” alone is conservatively estimated at £130 million ($187 million) a year.

Free Movement of Labour

The free movement of labour between EU member states was always going to be a non-starter. Has anyone noticed the hordes of British plumbers and electricians emigrating to Bulgaria and Romania? The movement of skilled and unskilled labour from the poorest countries of the EU to the wealthier ones — those that offer generous benefits to the unemployed and even subsidise low wages — has always been a fact of life, one seriously underestimated by successive British governments. The British suffer most because, of all the countries of the EU, the UK offers the most generous benefits. The so-called “freedom of movement,” which has proved to be just a one-way street, is only one of the reasons why Britain needs to regain control of its own destiny and stop being subservient to laws being made by unelected, overpaid, un-unelectable bureaucrats in Brussels.

But Will There Be a Brexit?

Unfortunately, most voters in the British referendum glean their information from the sound bites of politicians on television. This circumstance leaves the public open to manipulation, uninformed, and ignorant of the facts. One fact, however, that cannot be ignored is that ever since Britain joined the European Economic Community in 1973, British politicians across the entire political spectrum from left (Tony Benn) to right (Enoch Powell) were perceptive enough to realize that Britain would lose the power to make its own laws and turn into a vassal of the France-Germany axis.

Leaving the European Union will give the UK back its sovereignty and leave it free to make alliances not only with its former European partners, but with other Commonwealth countries, to say nothing of the United States, and Central and South America.

Josephine Bacon is a journalist, author, and translator based in London. She is an active member of the British Labour Party and the Cooperative Party.


[1] The Court of Auditors also found that the fact that Value Added Tax is not payable on goods and services exported within the EU from one country to another has led to VAT evasion and fraud, and that this was not being adequately tackled.

“Allah, Kill the Despicable Christians” Muslim Persecution of Christians, August 2016 by Raymond Ibrahim

  • “Allah, kill the despicable Christians. Allah, kill each and every last one of them….” — 16-year-old Muslim son of an Islamic cleric living in Belgium.”ISIS is not the problem… They shaved my head, they put my head in freezing cold water and then into boiling hot water. They burned their cigarettes on me, they electrocuted me.” — Majed el-Shafie, imprisoned and tortured in Egypt for converting to Christianity.

  • A Christian girl faces death threats if she does not return to her Muslim abductor who forcibly converted her to Islam. The family of a Christian girl who was kidnapped, raped, forced to convert to Islam, and then forcibly married to a Muslim are now under threat if they refuse to hand back their daughter to her captors.

Islamic hate for Christians was on display throughout the month of August. Shortly after an 80-year-old Catholic priest in France was slaughtered by Muslims who stormed his church during mass, the 16-year-old Muslim son of an Islamic cleric living in Belgium made a video and posted it on social media. In the video, he appears walking along the main street of the Belgian city of Verviers during Ramadan while making prayers to Allah, which include: “Allah, kill the despicable Christians. Allah, kill each and every last one of them….” According to Immigration Minister Theo Francken:

“It’s obvious that his father, the imam, is promoting such ideas not just to fighters to join the battle in Syria, but also to his own children. The young man who appears in the video reflects the father’s views, and I understand and empathize with the great concern that city residents have over this.”

A deportation order was last reported as pending a court appeal.

Similarly, in the August edition of Dabiq, ISIS’s propaganda magazine, the jihadi organization urged Muslims to destroy the “arrogant Christian disbelievers” and urged them to “pray for Allah’s curse to be upon the liars.” ISIS also threatened Christians to “break the cross.” Those who do and convert to Islam will “enter the Gardens of Paradise,” and those who reject Islam and cling to the cross will die in a “futile” war against ISIS.

As if the Christians of Nigeria were not persecuted enough by Muslim groups, Boko Haram’s new leader, known for killing nonconformist Muslims as well, announced that Christians are now its number one and primary target, and that Boko Haram will continue to “bomb churches and kill Christians while ending attacks on mosques and markets used by ordinary Muslims.” Abu Musab al-Barnawi, the new leader, also spoke of “booby-trapping and blowing up every church that we are able to reach, and killing all of those who we find from the citizens of the Cross.”

Abu Musab al-Barnawi (shown seated), the new leader of Nigeria’s Islamist group Boko Haram, announced that Christians are now the terrorist group’s number one target, and that they will continue to “bomb churches and kill Christians… booby-trapping and blowing up every church that we are able to reach, and killing all of those who we find from the citizens of the Cross.”

In Egypt, after Muhammad Hegazi’s nine-year long battle with authorities, Islam’s honor was restored, although in a way apparently held suspect by many rights activists there. His battle began when he asked his religion to be changed to Christianity on his Egyptian ID card, and ended with his being arrested and tortured for years. Hegazi made a brief video announcing his return to Islam and praising Muhammad, adding “I say this out of my complete free will. I am not being held by any agency, nor am I under any pressure of any kind.”

Another Egyptian, Majed el-Shafie, also imprisoned and tortured for apostatizing years ago in Egypt, wanted the world to know that, “ISIS is not the problem.” As proof, he recounted his experiences — at the hands of Egyptian authorities:

“They shaved my head, they put my head in freezing cold water and then into boiling hot water. They burned their cigarettes on me, they electrocuted me. They cut me and put salt in my wounds. I still wake with nightmares about it, even now 20 years on.”

The remainder of August’s roundup of Muslim persecution of Christians — not all of which was committed by ISIS — includes, but is not limited to, the following:

Muslim Slaughter of Christians

Nigeria: Muslim Fulani herdsmen, believed to be connected to the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, increased their raids on Christian-majority villages:

  • Between August 1-3, they killed 13 Christians, burned Christian homes and churches, and displaced countless survivors during raids conducted in separate Christian-majority villages.
  • On August 13, Muslim shepherds killed another seven Christians during another raid. Some of the victims were shot; others were slaughtered with machetes.
  • On August 16, Muslim herdsmen attacked still another Christian-majority village and slaughtered ten people.
  • On August 25, a group of at least 50 Muslim herdsmen conducted a night raid into another Christian-majority village. Among their victims was a Christian woman six months pregnant, whose stomach had been ripped open.

According to one report,

Local Christian leaders were pleading with the Nigerian government to provide appropriate security measures in light of the crisis, which the state has so far left unaddressed. Since 2001, Fulani attacks on Christian-majority farming settlements across Nigeria’s central “Middle-Belt” have grown increasingly violent; victims face their towns being wiped off the map. Fulani herdsmen have murdered tens of thousands of Christians, and have amassed a body count larger than Boko Haram has inflicted; attacks expand farther into Northwest and Southeast Nigeria, while the Nigerian government largely ignores the issue…

This indifference reportedly reaches to the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari. According to a prominent Nigerian thinker and politician, Femi Fani-Kayode, despite the increasing violence against Christians, “the Muslim president has only awarded the murderers with impunity rather than justice and has staffed his government with Islamic officials, while doing essentially nothing to give the nation’s Christians, who make up half the population, due representation.”

Uganda: A group of Muslims murdered Pastor Robert Bakulubanywa, 38, as he was returning home after a Sunday evening at his church. A group of Muslims — reportedly angry with him for evangelizing to Muslims and refusing to sell them land — surrounded him, tied him up, and sliced him to death with a sword.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Muslim militants from the Allied Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Uganda gathered and tied up between 36 and 50 Christians, before hacking them to death. In recent years, the “liberation” front has targeted Christians with violence, abducting people, looting Christian villages, and destroying churches, although most Western media downplay the religious motives of the rebels.

Muslim Attacks on Christian Churches

Indonesia: A teenage Muslim sitting among Christian worshippers during a Catholic church Sunday mass service suddenly went into jihad mode: he attacked the 60-year-old priest with an axe and tried to set off explosives, which could have killed hundreds of worshipers in the packed church. The bomb failed to go off properly and the 18-year-old Islamic terrorist was apprehended.

United States: In Riverside, California, Muslims in a car, who were repeatedly screaming “Allahu akbar!” through a bullhorn, terrorized St. Andrew Orthodox Church during worship service, “as the unnerved parents drew their infants close and exchanged worried glances,” said the report. Some witnesses told police it looked as if one of the three men, in the green Honda Civic, had been taking surveillance pictures of the church.

France: During a mass held for Father Jacques Hamel — the 80-year-old priest slaughtered days earlier — at the St. George Church in Vivonne (Vienne), a small town of 4,000 inhabitants, the priest informed the congregation that the church had been vandalized: “the light of the tabernacle of the Real Presence had disappeared or had been stolen, and placed on the altar was a photo of the Nice terrorist, the Islamist Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel.”

Iran: Authorities arrested 11 Christians during a raid on an house-church in the city of Isfahan. Books and other Christian literature were confiscated. According to the report, there was no further information about the status of the detainees.

Turkey: After giving previous permission, authorities banned Orthodox Christian liturgy from being held at a historic monastery. According to the report:

The doors of the Sumela Monastery reopened in June 2010, after 88 years. The Turkish government had given permission to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to have a patriarchal liturgy for the Feast of the Assumption every year. That permission has been suddenly revoked, perhaps permanently.”

Sudan: Claiming that it was built illegally, local Muslim authorities issued a demolition notice to yet another church. The congregation was given one week to clear out or else further legal procedures would be taken, including forcing the church to pay the demolishing costs. The church was built on the land in 1976, a considerable time before the National Islamic Front seized power in Sudan through a military coup in 1989 — so how could it be illegal, argue church activists. Countless churches that once stood in Sudan for decades have met the same fate in recent times.

Pakistan: Christians accused the government of Gujrat of intentionally flooding a 130-year-old church with sewage. According to the report:

“Local Christians managed to cut the flow of sewerage after hours of skirmish efforts…. Agitated Christians claimed that the flow of the sewerage was maneuvered towards the church in order to prevent it from flooding neighboring Gujrat Gymkhana. The waste water swamped the flooring and carpets of the church.”

Muslim Attacks on Christian Apostates, Blasphemers, and Preachers

Algeria: A Muslim convert to Christianity was sentenced to five years in prison for saying on social media that the light of Jesus will outshine Islam and its prophet Muhammad, which the court ruled was “blasphemous.” According to his son, who accompanied the apostate during his hearing:

“The court sentenced my father to the maximum sentence! …. [M]y father was expressing his ideas and spread his political views on social networks as it has always done elsewhere. It is an attack on freedom of expression because, in my opinion, everything is subject to criticism, even religions.”

Nigeria: After two university students got into a verbal argument, the Muslim student accused the Christian of insulting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Soon, a mob of Muslims formed and said the Christian must die; they savagely beat and nearly killed him. He only survived “because a fellow Christian intervened to rush him to the hospital with the help of a compassionate Muslim who volunteered his car to carry the victim.” On the following day, mobs of Muslims rioted and vandalized Christian campuses and churches. According to a local source:

“They went to ECWA Church, Living Church, and Anglican Church. They vandalized the Anglican Church pastorium, destroying electronics and other property. I heard they also burnt down the home of the rescue volunteer Muslim man (who assisted the attacked Christian student to the hospital), trapping and killing eight persons inside who, sadly, happened to be Muslims also.”

Separately, a Muslim man sought to divorce his wife of 24 years, after he discovered that she secretly converted to Christianity. The man stated that he cannot tolerate any other religion in his home except for Islam. The 50-year-old woman “broke down in tears while on her knees begging her estranged husband, Jamiu Adewunmi, not to divorce her.” Addressing the court, she said: “Please court; help me beg him, where will I get a man at my age to marry me if my husband divorces me?”

Pakistan: A Christian girl named Asma faces death threats if she does not return to her Muslim abductor. The man, a powerful Muslim neighbor, kidnapped the girl, raped her, forced her to convert to Islam, and then forcibly married her and renamed her “Aisha,” after the Islamic prophet’s young wife. Several months later, Asma escaped and returned to her family, who are now under threat if they refuse to hand back their daughter to her captor. Local Muslim clerics claimed that Asma has re-converted to Christianity, and so is now an apostate and should be killed unless she returns to her husband and new faith.

Uganda: Eight children, ages 9 to 16, from four families of Islamic and pagan backgrounds, took refuge with Christians after their parents and other community members beat and disowned them for leaving Islam and animism for Christianity. Through the ordeal, the church in which they were able to seek refuge has also come under threat of destruction and violence by the local Muslim population. “Your church activities will not be tolerated in this area,” one Muslim informed the pastor. “If you do not leave our village, then we shall soon come for your life.” Separately, a Christian high school student received a serious head injury by the Muslim father of a young woman whom he proselytized.

Muslim Discrimination against and Abuse of Christians

Saudi Arabia: According to an Arabic-language news report published on August 27, officials from the desert kingdom arrested 27 Christians — among them several women and children — for the crime of “conducting Christian prayers” and being “in possession of Bibles.” The group of Christians, most if not all of whom were Lebanese nationals, were celebrating a Virgin Mary feast day when authorities stormed their residence and arrested them. The dreaded “religious police” proceeded to strip them of their visas and deport them back to Lebanon. Such religious intolerance is actually better than that meted to other Christians caught engaging in “acts of Christianity” In 2012, for example, 35 Christian Ethiopians were arrested and tortured in prison for almost a year, simply for holding a private house-prayer. One of them reported after being released: “They [Saudis] are full of hatred towards non-Muslims.”

Pakistan: The son of a Muslim landlord sexually assaulted the five-year-old daughter of a Christian couple renting a room. Afterwards, “the landlord purportedly barred the Christian couple from reporting the incident to the police for seven days. Because of the harassment, parents of the victim were unable to acquire a medical report of their daughter who was sexually assaulted,” said the report.

“As a result of lack of medical report, there is no substantial proof of the assault. The influential landlord and his rapist son hurled threats at the Christian family stating that entire family of the victim will face dire consequences if action is taken against the culprit.”

Separately, a historic Christian cemetery is falling into decay due to willful neglect from local authorities. According to the report:

“Local Christians claim the graveyard is undergoing wear while the local authorities are overlooking the situation. They expressed serious concerns over the desecration of graves of their loved ones. They said that the Christian population had been residing in the area, even before the creation of Pakistan.”

Egypt: Arguing that they are being treated as second-class citizens, about three dozen Christians staged a rare protest in downtown Cairo and demanded that the government uphold their rights. Standing on the steps of a courthouse in the capital, the demonstrators defied Egypt’s draconian positions on protests. “I am an Egyptian citizen above all,” said Michael Armanious, a Christian demonstrator. “We pay taxes, we serve in the army, we are dealing with all the same economic problems in Egypt with the rest of our countrymen, why should we have fewer rights?” Police — who often take hours to appear when Muslims attack Christians — quickly dispersed the protesters.

Separately, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights reported that there have been 77 cases of extreme Muslim-on-Christian violence between the years 2011 and 2016 — excluding the huge spate of attacks on Christians and dozens of churches that directly followed the ousting of former president Morsi. Coptic Pope Tawadros also confirmed that Christians are victims of a serious attack by Muslims on average once a month. At least ten incidents this year have resulted in discord, death and destruction.

Sudan: Prosecutors accused two imprisoned pastors, both members of the Sudanese Church of Christ, of crimes against the state, and called for the death penalty against them. The pastors denied the charges, and local sources say there is no evidence against them, but that the hardline Islamist prosecutors are persecuting them for their faith.

Bangladesh: Rosaline Costa, a Catholic newspaper editor, fled to the United States after receiving countless death threats, prompted by editorials published the paper about growing religious discrimination and violence in the country. Because there has been a rise in Muslim attacks on Christians in Bangladesh — including outright murder — the Catholic woman decided to leave before she was next. Christian minorities further allege that Bangladeshi authorities and the judicial system either cannot or will not do anything to stop the persecution and discrimination against them.

Germany: Christian refugees continue to face daily harassment and threats from Muslim majorities living with them in asylum centers. In one instance, 14 Iranian Christian men were threatened with death for refusing to abandon their faith. During Ramadan, Christians had to hide their Bibles and were forced to eat leftover food in the shelter after the meal times were changed to accommodate Muslims, who do not eat during daylight hours during the Islamic holy month. One pastor said many Muslims in the camp regard their fellow Christian migrants as “unclean” and “more impure than dogs.” In several asylum centers, throughout Europe, Christian minorities continue to be harassed and attacked.

The United States moved to block U.S. military aid to Rwanda because of its support for the M23 Congolese rebel group believed to use child soldiers, the State Department said on Thursday.

The sanctions also apply to the Central African Republic, Myanmar, Sudan and Syria, according to the U.S. State Department. It was unclear whether those nations receive U.S. military assistance.

“Our goal is to work with countries who have been listed to ensure that any involvement in child soldiers – any involvement in the recruitment of child soldiers – stop,” U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Rwanda was sanctioned because of its “support for the M23, a rebel group which continues to actively recruit and abduct children” and to threaten the stability of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

M23 is a Tutsi-dominated rebellion of former Congolese soldiers that began taking parts of eastern Congo last year, accusing the government of failing to honor a 2009 peace deal.

Rwanda will not receive U.S. International Military Education and Training funds, which help train foreign militaries, nor will it get U.S. Foreign Military Financing, which funds the sale of U.S. military materiel and services, Harf said.

Brigadier General Joseph Nzabamwita, spokesman for the Rwanda Defense Forces, said his country should not be held responsible for events outside its control.

“It is surprising that Rwanda would be liable for matters that are neither on its territory, nor in its practices,” he said. “As a long term partner of the Rwanda Defense Forces, the United States has ample evidence that our forces have never tolerated the use of children in combat.”

“Rwanda’s commitment to a sustainable solution that seeks to bring an end to the DRC conflict and its consequences, including the use of child soldiers, remains unchanged,” he added.

“The collaboration between the Government of Rwanda and the United States remains strong, particularly in the field of peacekeeping, and Rwanda will continue to hold its forces to the highest standards of professionalism and discipline,” he added.

Harf, the State Department spokeswoman, said she was not aware of Syria receiving any U.S. military assistance. She also said she did not believe Syria or Myanmar receive such aid and would check on whether or not Sudan did.

Three other countries whose militaries are known to recruit and use child soldiers, however, received waivers from the U.S. sanctions – Chad, South Sudan and Yemen, another State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia received partial waivers, the official said, adding that the Obama administration has decided such exemptions “would be in the national interest of the United States.”

By law, the U.S. State Department must keep track of nations whose governments recruit and use children as soldiers as part of its annual report on human trafficking. The 10 countries affected by Thursday’s actions were all cited in the State Department’s latest findings, issued in June.

Those countries can be denied some types of U.S. funds for military assistance unless the White House grants a waiver. The 2008 law also allows U.S. officials to block licenses needed for those nations to buy military equipment.

It was not immediately clear how much U.S. funding would be blocked because of Thursday’s action.

Rwanda was not granted a waiver because of its role backing the M23 rebels in nearby Democratic Republic of Congo, Thomas-Greenfield, the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, said in an online forum with reporters broadcast on the State Department website.

U.N. investigators and the Congolese government have accused Rwanda of sponsoring the rebellion, a charge Rwanda denies.

“Any support of those rebel groups is seen as contributing to conflict in the region,” Thomas-Greenfield told reporters, adding that U.S. officials will continue to discuss the issue with the Rwandan government.

The United States will still support peacekeeping efforts in Rwanda, the other official added. Reutesr

 

Palestinians: Israel’s Goodwill Gestures Send Wrong Messages by Bassam Tawil June 2, 2017 at 5:00 am https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/10464/israel-goodwill-gestures Send Share 40 Comment Here is what is being said on the Palestinian street:

  • Here is what is being said on the Palestinian street: Today Israel runs away from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip; tomorrow Israel will run away from Ashkelon, then from Tel Aviv and from there to the sea, and we have achieved our goal of destroying Israel. Therefore, we need to continue attacking Israel.

  • As with the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal from Lebanon taught the Palestinians that terrorism could drive Israelis out of their country.
  • Never have the Palestinians given Israel credit for its goodwill steps. On the contrary, they scoff at these moves and describe them as “cosmetic changes”. The Palestinian line is that Israel’s steps are “insufficient” and “unhelpful.” Its concessions are regarded as gestures of a terrified people and as the rightful reward for terrorism. Far from satiating the appetite of the terrorists, such steps prompt them to step up their attacks against Israelis.

The West suffers under a major misconception concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: that “goodwill gestures” and territorial concessions on the part of Israel boost the prospects of peace in the Middle East. The facts, however, suggest that precisely the opposite is true.

Last week, Israel’s Channel 10 television station reported that the U.S. administration was pushing Israel to transfer parts of Area C — areas under full Israeli security and civilian control in the West Bank — to the control of Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA). According to the report, the U.S. believes that the transfer of the territory to the PA would be a “goodwill step” towards the Palestinians, paving the way for the revival of the stalled peace process with Israel.

This assumption, of course, has already proven wrong. The experiences of the past few decades have shown clearly that Israeli concessions have always sent the wrong message to the Palestinians.

In fact, Palestinians read Israeli goodwill steps as signs of weakness and retreat. This misinterpretation on the part of the Palestinians then leads to more violence against Israel. It would be hard for anyone not to conclude that if pressure works, keep on pressuring.

The past 24 years are littered with examples of how the Palestinians react to Israeli concessions.

The Oslo Accords that were signed between Israel and the PLO in 1993 were seen by Palestinians as a first step by Israel towards total capitulation.

The accords, which brought the PLO from several Arab countries to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, came after five years of the first Palestinian Intifada. By allowing the PLO to assume control over large parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel sent a message that it was caving in to the violence and terrorism of the First Intifada.

Barely a breath after Oslo, Israel was again asked to conciliate the Palestinians: this time, hundreds of prisoners, many with Jewish (and Arab) blood on their hands, were released from Israeli prison in order to create an atmosphere “conducive” to the peace process.

Instead of viewing the prisoner release for what it was, namely a generous gesture, many Palestinians considered it a “victory” for terrorism and violence. Worse, it was not long before many of the released prisoners were rearrested for their role in further terrorism against Israel. The release of prisoners also sent a message of recidivism to Palestinians: terror does indeed pay! A short stint in an Israeli prison is sure to lead to release in some Israeli “confidence-building measure” or other.

According to statistics, at least half of released Palestinian prisoners have returned to terrorism.

Despite the grim statistics, the international community regularly demands that Israel release more convicted terrorists as a “gesture” towards Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinians.

Palestinian terrorists who were released from prison by Israel as a “goodwill gesture” are honored at Mahmoud Abbas’ presidential compound in Ramallah, on October 30, 2013. According to statistics, at least half of released Palestinian prisoners have returned to terrorism. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Getty Images)

Since 1993, Israel has complied again and again with such international pressure, only to reinforce the message to Palestinians: terrorism is indeed worth the trouble.

Let us consider, for a moment, Gaza. In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip, after destroying 21 Jewish settlements and expelling more than 8,000 Jews from their homes there.

In Palestinian eyes, however, the Israeli “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip was anything but an olive branch of peace. The withdrawal came after five years of the bloody Second Intifada, when Palestinians waged a massive campaign of suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israelis.

Thus, for Palestinians, Israel was once again retreating in the face of unremitting bloodshed.

Here is what is being said on the Palestinian street: Today Israel runs away from the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, tomorrow Israel will run away from Ashkelon, then from Ashdod and Tel Aviv and from there to the sea, and we have achieved our goal of destroying Israel. Therefore, we need to continue attacking Israel.

Moreover, it was also precisely the Israeli pullout from Gaza that launched Hamas to its current pinnacle of popularity among Palestinians. Hamas took credit for expelling the Jews from the Gaza Strip through terrorism. A few months later, Hamas even won the Palestinian parliamentary election because Palestinians gave Hamas total credit for driving Israel out of the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli pullout told Palestinians in no uncertain terms: Why bother negotiating when terror will do the trick?

Five years earlier, the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon also had the same effect: it emboldened the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group. As with the Gaza Strip, the withdrawal from Lebanon taught the Palestinians that terrorism could drive Israelis out of their country.

In the past few years, additional Israeli goodwill gestures, such as removing security checkpoints and the easing travel restrictions in the West Bank, led to yet more violence, claiming the lives of yet more Israelis.

Abbas and his top officials have always responded to Israeli gestures with cynicism. Never have they given Israel credit for its goodwill steps. On the contrary, they scoff at these moves, and describe them as “cosmetic changes aimed at beautifying Israel’s ugly face” or as public-relations stunts.

For the sake of clarity, let us say it clearly: handing over areas in the West Bank to the Palestinian Authority, and the release of convicted murderers, does not contribute to any sort of “peace process;” it only contributes to the death of more Israelis.

The Palestinian line is that Israel’s steps are “insufficient” and “unhelpful.” Its concessions are regarded as gestures of a terrified people and as the rightful reward for terrorism. Far from satiating the appetite of the terrorists, such steps prompt them to step up their attacks against Israelis. The next time Americans and Europeans think of asking Israel to cede yet more to the Palestinians, let them consider what Israel might be receiving in return, other than the spilling of more Jewish blood.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

Israeli demolitions ‘collective punishment’.

 Israeli demolitions ‘collective punishment’

Families decry Israel’s demolition of the homes of Palestinians accused of killing three Israeli settlers in June.

 

Israeli forces demolished 664 Palestinian homes as punishment between 2001 and January 2005 [Reuters]

Hebron, occupied West Bank – Sobbing, Ghada Qawasmeh stares at her destroyed home, a two-story stone villa the family built over the course of nine years. The mother of seven is inconsolable, thinking of her husband, Hussam, who is now in an Israeli prison. “This is collective punishment,” she says. “What did I or my children do?”

Before dawn on Monday, Israeli troops destroyed the Qawasmeh family’s house in Hebron in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli officials said the demolition was carried out as punishment for Hussam Qawasmeh’s alleged involvement in the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli settler teens in June, and came after Israel’s supreme court affirmed the army’s position.

Last month, Israel accused three men of being behind the disappearance and subsequent death of the Israeli youths, who were hitchhiking from a Jewish settlement near Hebron: Hussam and Marwan Qawasmeh, and Amer Abu Eisha.

Abu Eisha’s family home was also demolished on Monday, while Marwan Qawasmeh’s was sealed off with cement.

“We are determined in bringing the ruthless murderers of Gilad, Eyal and Naftali to justice. The demolition of the terrorists’ homes conveys a clear message to terrorists and their accomplices that there is a personal price to pay when engaging in terror and carrying out attacks against Israelis,” said Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesperson, in a press statement.

While Marwan and Abu Eisha are in hiding, the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, said Hussam admitted to receiving funds for the operation from Hamas operatives in Gaza. But Hamas officials have denied any involvement, and so far, no evidence against the three men has been divulged.

The demolition of the terrorists’ homes conveys a clear message to terrorists and their accomplices that there is a personal price to pay when engaging in terror and carrying out attacks against Israelis.

– Peter Lerner, Israeli army spokesperson

Ghada also maintains that her husband is innocent, that the real killers are still at large, and that destroying her home is merely an act of revenge. “By demolishing the house they’ll destroy my life and my children’s. There’s a million ways [to deter attacks] without destroying people’s lives,” said Ghada, who has now moved in with her in-laws.


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Meanwhile, Amer Abu Eisha’s mother, Nadia, is more composed: this is the second time that her home has been demolished since 1995. Back then, a man wanted by the Israelis sought shelter in the building.

“We’ve spent more than 15 years building this house for us and our children,” Nadia said. “God knows what we’ve been through to do that. This is my life, my shelter. But they will demolish, and we will rebuild.”

Parts of the Abu Eisha and Qawasmeh’s homes were demolished last month.

Israeli rights group HaMoked urgently petitioned the Israeli supreme court in July against the demolition of the three men’s homes. On August 11, the court rejected the appeal, arguing that “the demolition of the houses was imperative to deter other terrorists from committing additional severe terrorist attacks”.

In this case, the court decided to support army claims “that the deterioration in the security situation justifies a return to the policy it had already invalidated”.

“The supreme court’s position has always been [that it’s] not competent enough in military affairs,” said Jeff Halper, the founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. “Almost always, when the army says it has to do something, the court says it can.”

For decades, the Israeli authorities have been demolishing the homes of Palestinians it accuses of carrying out attacks. But in 2005, they announced a halt to this practice, which human rights groups regularly condemned as an act of collective punishment.

Between 2001 and January 2005, Israeli forces demolished 664 homes as punishment, leaving more than 4,000 Palestinians homeless, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. In these cases, no evidence was required to prove that the alleged attacker’s family had any prior knowledge of his or her plans.

The demolitions are often carried out by armoured bulldozers within hours of the attack, and in the late night hours, without enough prior notice to allow families to salvage some of their belongings. In Ghada’s case, the Israeli State Attorney accepted HaMoked’s request to give her family 12 hours’ notice before her house was flattened.

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According to Halper, house demolitions do not serve the army’s intended purpose. “They know it doesn’t deter,” he said. “What it does is it helps the Israeli people feel that they’ve been avenged. It’s basically collective punishment.”

Moshe Ya’alon, a former army chief of staff, was one of the first in Israel’s top echelon to question the practice. He formed a review committee in 2004, which found that home demolitions were harmful to Israel because they bred hatred among Palestinians.

The bricks are meaningless. I want my son and husband back. They are the ones that mean the world to me.

– Nadia Abu Eisha, mother of Amer Abu Eisha

Prior to that, Israeli authorities had maintained that in many cases, fear of home demolitions led families to turn in their relatives to Israeli or Palestinian authorities to stop them from carrying out attacks.

Punitive demolitions have so far only applied to Palestinians: the homes of three Israelis who are accused of murdering Mohammad Abu Khdair, a Palestinian teenager from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Shu’fat, remain intact. In July, two minors and an older man beat Abu Khdair and burned him alive, in apparent revenge for the death of the young Israelis.

During the search for the three missing Israelis, the Israeli army arrested approximately 1,000 Palestinians in a series of nightly raids.

“They won’t demolish the Israelis’ houses,” Halper said. “They will say it’s not a pattern. It’s a one-off thing, it’s a bad apple, it’s a crazy guy. And therefore since it’s an isolated event, it doesn’t warrant demolishing a house because there’s nothing preventative here.”

In the meantime, both Nadia and Ghada are still coming to terms with the levelling of their homes.

“I lost a son, I’m missing another,” said Nadia, who has six children, one of whom is dead, another at large, and a third in prison, along with his father. “The bricks are meaningless. I want my son and husband back. They are the ones that mean the world to me.”

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