Friday, August 17, 2018

From Ian:

The Jewish State Declares Itself a Jewish State
Israel’s more mainstream left, and the major Jewish organizations who criticized the bill, do say they support Israel as a Jewish state. Livni and others were understandably peeved when Netanyahu called for the left to engage in introspection over its opposition to the new law and implied that it is “embarrassed by Zionism.” This is what led her to accuse Netanyahu of incitement.

To say that mainstream Israeli leftists, like the more centrist Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and much of Labor, are embarrassed to be Zionists or don’t want a Jewish state does take things way too far. Since its merger with Livni’s party in 2014, the Labor Party is now literally called Zionist Union. And on a less superficial matter, these are people who strongly advocate for a two-state solution, not on the grounds of peace but because they believe that is the only way to keep Israel Jewish in the long run.

The most resonant argument for a two-state solution is the “demographic threat.” If Israel and the Palestinians don’t separate from each other, the thinking goes, there will eventually be an Arab majority, and Israel will cease to be either Jewish or democratic. The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the IDF unit implementing government policy on civilian matters in the West Bank, reported this year that there is population parity between Jews and Arabs between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Many dispute these numbers, pointing out that they are based on the Palestinian Authority’s data, and even the COGAT representative speaking in the Knesset admitted that there is evidence that the PA is inflating the figures. The concern of many on the mainstream left with the demographic threat is a mark of seriousness about Israel’s Jewishness; they are willing to concede a large, strategic swath of land and provoke an almost certain threat to the country’s security in order to maintain it.

And yet they have aligned themselves with a group of lawmakers who openly disdain the Zionist vision of a Jewish state, in order to state their opposition to the idea that Israel is the Jewish state.

Zionist leftists’ focus on equality and civil rights is admirable, and in general, their role as a loyal opposition is important in a democracy. They keep the government in check. But in this case, they need to take a step back and realize that this law is not what their fellow travelers are making it out to be.
The Misrepresentation of Israel’s Democracy
Denying Arab agency is a longstanding habit of Israel’s critics. And that is what’s noteworthy about these often-hysterical reactions to the nation-state law: The stories use the legislation merely as a jumping-off point for larger complaints about Israel’s Jewish character. For these writers, this isn’t a debate over the Israeli flag. It’s a debate over Jewish nationalism and a proxy for the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

In a July 24 “Ideas” piece for Time, Ilene Prusher wrote, “It’s not clear that the equality outlined in the founders’ vision statement”—that’s progressive-speak for “Declaration of Independence”—“remains a goal. It’s certainly far from reality.” Prusher continued, “The new law provides legal teeth for discrimination that is currently de facto” and, citing a left-wing law professor at Hebrew University, “essentially makes discrimination constitutional.”

No, it doesn’t, actually. Rather than speculate, the nation-state bill’s opponents might try examining the actual text, which says absolutely nothing about discrimination. As Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University said during a recent episode of the Jewish Leadership Conference podcast, “Anything can be perverted—but that does not mean everything is perverse.”

The truth is that democracy is thriving in Israel. So are many of the values one normally associates with (egad!) the New York Times. Last I checked, Israel is the one country in the Middle East where you can attend an LGBT Pride parade. Noah Ephron, a critic of the nation-state law, points out that the proportion of women serving in the Knesset is higher than in the U.S. Congress or average EU parliament. There is universal health care. “Alone among Western democracies,” Ephron adds, “labor unions have grown bigger and stronger in Israel over the past decade.” Minority citizens are guaranteed the same rights as Jewish ones. And it is precisely these achievements that are sustained by Israel’s Jewish character and traditions.

The Times quoted Avi Shilon, a historian at Ben-Gurion University, who said dismissively, “Mr. Netanyahu and his colleagues are acting like we are still in the battle of 1948, or in a previous era.” Judging by the fallacious, paranoid, fevered, and at times bigoted reaction to the nation-state bill, however, Bibi may have good reason to believe that Israel is still in the battle of 1948, and still defending itself against assaults on the very idea of a Jewish State.
If Israel has such bad PR, why does it remain so popular?
The first mention in JTA of the Hebrew word “hasbarah” was in 1988, at the height of the first intifada. The article focused on Israelis and American Jews and their deep concern that the media were distorting the unrest and showing the Israeli military in a bad light.

The answer, interviewees agreed, was better “hasbarah” — a Hebrew word, explained the author (OK, it was me), “whose meaning falls somewhere between information and propaganda.”

“Israel has never actually looked at hasbarah as an integral part of policymaking,” said Dan Pattir, a former press secretary to prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Menachem Begin.

Fast forward 30 years. Writing last week in the Los Angeles Times, Noga Tarnopolsky makes a convincing case that Israel’s public diplomacy efforts are flawed, unprofessional, scattershot and out of touch. Critics tell her that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu relies too much on social-media videos to defend Israel. They say its military spokespeople are ill prepared to answer questions about controversial events, like May’s deadly riots on the border with Gaza.

““There is … no single authority that coordinates and supervises these various activities,” complains Michael Oren, who is (wait for it) Israel’s deputy minister in charge of public diplomacy.

The critics, however, don’t make a convincing case why any of this matters.

Complaints about Israel’s hasbarah efforts are as regular and ritualistic as the Jewish holidays. Without answers from a strong PR campaign, the theory goes, the litany of anti-Israel charges gains traction.

Palestinians use indications of media affiliation to protect themselves during anti-Israeli military activities and terrorist attacks
Use of a Press vest in a stabbing attack in Hebron

A Press vest was used by a Palestinian in a stabbing attack in Hebron. On October 16, 2015, a terrorist operative named Iyad Khalili Mahmoud al-‘Awauda, from the village of Dura (south of Hebron), stabbed an IDF soldier. The soldier was seriously wounded and the terrorist was shot and killed. In ITIC assessment the terrorist wore a Press vest to increase the chances the stabbing attack would succeed, and perhaps also to improve, to a certain extent, his chances of survival. Although the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate condemned the attack, the terrorist became a hero to Fatah, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Palestinian street, with no reservations shown by either the PA or Palestinian commentators. The PA’s security forces honored the terrorist who had disguised himself as a media employee, and during his funeral his body was wrapped in a Palestinian flag and carried by operatives of Palestinian national security (Wafa, October 17, 2015).[3]

A wounded IDF soldier. The terrorist is still holding the knife he used to stab him (Khabar News Agency, October 16, 2015). Terrorist Iyad al-'Awauda, killed during a stabbing attack on an IDF soldier in the Hebron region. He was wearing a yellow vest and a Press T-shirt.

Right: Terrorist Iyad al-‘Awauda, killed during a stabbing attack on an IDF soldier in the Hebron region. He was wearing a yellow vest and a Press T-shirt. Left: A wounded IDF soldier. The terrorist is still holding the knife he used to stab him (Khabar News Agency, October 16, 2015).

Pictures from a video posted to YouTube showing terrorist Iyad al-'Awauda in a yellow Press vest, raising a knife and stabbing an IDF soldier (YouTube, October 16, 2015).

The body of terrorist Iyad al-‘Awauda wrapped in the Palestinian flag and carried by Palestinian national security force operatives (Wafa News Agency, October 17, 2015).
In Islam, Jerusalem is not Mecca
Naming the Jerusalem mosque Al-Aqsa was an attempt to say that the Dome of the Rock was the very spot from which Mohammed ascended to heaven, thus connecting Jerusalem to divine revelation in Islamic belief. The problem however, is that Mohammed died in the year 632, which was 73 years before the first construction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque was completed.

For Muslims, Jerusalem's significance is dependent upon political and religious rivalries; its importance appears evident when non-Muslims (including the Crusaders, the British, and the Jews) control or capture the city. Only at those phases in history did Islamic national leaders claim Jerusalem as their holiest city after Mecca and Medina.

Unsurprisingly, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas once decried Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar, claiming that the latter had minimized Jerusalem's significance by saying that "Jerusalem is not Mecca," when Abbas had insisted on 2006 legislative elections being held in Jerusalem. If Al-Zahar had said that "Jerusalem is not Mecca and is not sacred," he would have said the truth.

In Islam, Jerusalem is only blessed, but not sacred. Mecca it is not.
Hamas: Western Wall belongs to Muslims
The Hamas terror organization has decried any religious or historical connection between the Jewish People and the Land of Israel.

Hamas' Falestine newspaper on Saturday will publish a special edition dealing with the Western Wall, which is called Kotel Al-Buraq in Arabic.

It will discuss the Wall's geography, which according to Falestine is "the first line of defense for Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Another section, the paper will discuss the laws and agreements which make the Wall Islamic, and claim that any harm to it is a war crime. The paper will also discuss "crimes" against the Western Wall and Israel's attempt to legitimize its rule over the site.
Hamas' moment of truth
Optimistic media reports about far-reaching ‎agreements with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, meant to ‎ensure peace and quiet on the border, are premature. ‎As of now, the only understanding in place is that ‎Friday will pose a significant test for Gaza's ‎rulers, who have yet to shelve their border riot ‎campaign, and only it the day proves to be incident-‎free will it be possible to go ahead with the ‎negotiations. ‎

It is not that nothing is happening behind the ‎scenes. Several mediators, headed by Egyptian ‎intelligence officials and U.N. Middle East envoy ‎Nickolay Mladenov, are holding intense talks between ‎Palestinian and Israeli officials in an effort to ‎broker a long-term cease-fire, and the U.S., Russia ‎and several Persian Gulf states are also involved, ‎at one level or another.‎

Israel's primary stipulation has always been ‎complete calm on the border. Hamas agreed to that ‎last week, following the latest flare-up, and seeing ‎that the deal was holding, Israel lived up to its ‎word, resumed operations at the Kerem Shalom cargo ‎crossing and expanded the fishing zone ‎off Gaza's coast from 6 to 9 nautical miles. ‎

This was phase one of mutual gestures, and it gave ‎the south the calmest week it has seen since March ‎‎30. ‎
Hamas: No deal without prisoner exchange
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar, which is affiliated with Hezbollah, reports that Hamas rejected the proposal to create a sea route between Gaza and Cyprus only after a prisoner exchange deal was reached with Israel.

According to the report, Hamas claimed that the issue of prisoner exchange was complicated and that it might take years before a solution was found.

On Wednesday, a political source said that the Israeli Security Cabinet had decided that any future arrangement with Hamas would include the return of the fallen soldiers and civilians held in the Gaza Strip.

"There will be no real arrangement with Hamas without the return of our boys and citizens to the home and the promise of quiet for a long time. The current calm is the result of aggressive IDF activity that will continue as necessary. In light of this, the Kerem Shalom operation was renewed and the fishing area was opened," the source said.

The Egyptian-brokered deal between Israel and Hamas is expected to include improvement in the humanitarian conditions in Gaza, as well as the construction of a seaport in the Egyptian city of Ismailia and an airport in Sinai.
Despite long-term truce overtures, Hamas urges mass border protest
Hamas leaders on Thursday urged Palestinians in the ‎Gaza Strip to arrive at the border with Israel on ‎Friday and protest en masse, as they have been doing ‎since the onset of the group's border riot campaign ‎four months ago. ‎

The call came despite the fact Gaza's rulers are ‎engaged in indirect cease-fire negotiations with Israel, ‎meant to prevent the hostilities of recent weeks ‎from escalating further. ‎

Israeli officials said Hamas' actions on the ground ‎would determine whether negotiations ‎could continue, saying, "If the calm on the border ‎is violated, Israel will mount a forceful, ‎unrestricted response.

Arab media reported Thursday that the cease-fire ‎‎agreement Egypt is trying to ‎negotiate between ‎‎Israel and Hamas includes a one-‎year truce as well ‎‎as several measures meant to ‎alleviate the dire ‎‎economic situation in Gaza, such as establishing a ‎‎"naval ‎‎corridor" between Cyprus and Gaza through ‎which ‎‎goods could be delivered to the enclave, as well as ‎‎the ‎construction of a port in the ‎Sinai Peninsula, ‎which ‎would operate under Israeli ‎security ‎supervision.‎

An Egyptian source said that if the truce proves ‎viable, negotiations will be held to extend it to ‎four years.
Report: One killed, 100 wounded, in Gaza border clashes
One Palestinian was killed and 100 were wounded in clashes with the IDF along the Gaza border Friday afternoon according to Palestinian reports, in what seems to be a rise in tensions amid rumors of ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

Palestinian reports say protestors have gathered along the border fence and are rioting and burning tires.

In addition, KKL firefighters are working on putting out two fires caused by incendiary balloons launched from the coastal enclave, both in the Be'eri forest in southern Israel.

On Thursday, it appeared that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had met with Egypt's intelligence minister to discuss possible terms for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

According to one source, the proposed ceasefire would include a year-long period of calm which could potentially be elongated to four years. The possible return of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of IDF soldiers held by Hamas would be discussed in negotiations throughout the year.
The glaring omission in the BBC’s portrayal of Gaza truce negotiations
Notably, while that portrayal of a potential “truce between Israel and Hamas” focuses audience attentions on “the severe economic hardship in Gaza”, it makes no mention of a relevant issue which the BBC has been ignoring for four years.

In addition to holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in 2014 – Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul – the Hamas terror group is also keeping prisoner at least two Israeli civilians – Avera Mengistu and Hisham al Sayed – who have not been the topic of any BBC reporting in the three years that their imprisonment has been publicly known.

If BBC audiences are to understand the negotiations behind “a more comprehensive truce”, they obviously need to be informed that the issues being negotiated are not confined to Gaza Strip related topics such as “the blockade” and “infrastructure”.
Palestinian attempts to stab cop in Jerusalem’s Old City, is shot dead
A man armed with a knife attempted to carry out a stabbing attack against a policeman in Jerusalem’s Old City Friday afternoon, and was shot dead by security forces, police said.

The suspect arrived at a security checkpoint near the Lions Gate and then attempted to attack the policeman, officials said. He was shot and neutralized. There was no word of any other casualties in the incident. Police forces were at the scene in large numbers.

On Wednesday police said security forces in the Old City had last week arrested a Palestinian man planning to carry out a stabbing attack.

The 26-year-old resident of the West Bank city of Hebron was detained by officers on August 8 after they deemed his behavior suspicious. A body search revealed he was holding a knife and a can of tear gas, according to a police statement.

The suspect was immediately taken for questioning at a nearby police station, where he claimed he came to Jerusalem to pray, the statement said. But the officers doubted his version and referred him to the district’s central police unit.
Motive in Question After Israeli Woman Killed by Palestinian Driver in West Bank
An Israeli woman in her 40s died on Thursday night after she was run over by a Palestinian vehicle in the northern West Bank.

The incident took place on Route 60 close the entrance of the Havat Gilad outpost, southwest of Nablus.

Initial reports said the driver of the car fled in the direction of the adjacent Palestinian village of Jit.

An investigation into the incident was launched, and the IDF set up roadblocks in the area in an effort to find the driver.

The driver later turned himself in to Palestinian police, claiming he had hit the woman by accident and that it was not a terrorist attack.

According to the Hebrew news site Ynet, Israeli defense officials believed the driver’s assertion.
White House says Trump, Putin agree in principle on getting Iran out of Syria
A White House official said Thursday that US president Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed at their Helsinki summit last month on the need to remove Iranian forces from Syria.

According to a Reuters report, the official said that Putin and Trump spoke about the Iranian presence in Syria during their one-on-one at the summit.

He added that the Russian president had advised Trump that it would be difficult to accomplish this goal.

There was no immediate report on a Kremlin response to the comment.

The White House official also said US national security adviser John Bolton will meet with Nikolai Patrushev, head of Russia’s Security Council, in Geneva next week to discuss Syria, focusing on Iran’s presence in the country and chemical weapons.
Pompeo forms Iran Action Group to run policy after nuke deal withdrawal
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday formed a group to coordinate and run US policy toward Iran as the Trump administration moves ahead with efforts to force changes in the Islamic Republic’s behavior after withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Accusing Iran of unleashing “a torrent of violence and destabilizing behavior against the United States, our allies, our partners and, indeed, the Iranian people themselves,” Pompeo announced the creation of the Iran Action Group, which he said would drive administration policy in Washington and overseas.

He said the administration remains willing to talk to Iran but that in order to do so “we must see major changes in the regime’s behavior both inside and outside its borders.”

Pompeo named Brian Hook, who is currently the State Department’s director of policy planning, to run the group with the title of special representative for Iran. Hook led the administration’s ultimately unsuccessful attempt to negotiate changes to the nuclear deal with European allies before US President Donald Trump decided in May to pull out of the accord.

Since withdrawing, the administration has re-imposed sanctions that were eased under the deal and has steadily ramped up pressure on Iran to try to get it to stop what it describes as “malign activities” in the region. In addition to its nuclear and missile programs, the administration has repeatedly criticized Iran for supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, Shiite rebels in Yemen and anti-Israel groups.
Why is Nobody Talking about the Union for the Mediterranean?
The EU countries involved in the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) appear unbothered by promoting "integration" -- or even claiming "a common heritage" -- with countries such as Mauritania, where, according to recent reports, up to 20% of the population (Haratines and other Afro-Mauritanian groups) is enslaved, and anti-slavery activists are regularly tortured and detained.

There is not the slightest allusion in the UfM yearly report, or in the 2017 Roadmap for Action, to the fact that in most Muslim countries, sharia law influences the legal code -- especially regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance and child custody -- and that gender inequality may therefore be institutionalized and not something likely to change, regardless of the number of UfM projects.

Given these large sums of money involved, it is remarkable that the UfM and its activities enjoy little to no scrutiny in the European press.
Top Ten surprises in the Ten Year Backlog of Palestinian Mail (satire)
10) That gift we need to get Hosni Mubarak for his “30 Years as President” party? Skip.

9) That invite to Qadaffi’s 2011 Folk Dancing Expo and Film Festival in Tripoli? Same.

8) The 2012 “Bashar Assad Salute to Arab Unity Weekend” in Damascus? You seeing a pattern yet?

7) Can somebody tell Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh to watch out for women in floppy hats and guys with tennis rackets when he goes to Dubai?

6) They say that the Zionist Dogs are going to build a High Speed Rail from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv by 2016.

5) That Real Estate Investment Prospectus from Ehud Olmert? No. Just No.

4) Bibi is in BIG Trouble! There is NO WAY the Israeli Left can screw up the 2015 Elections!

3) Obama just beat McCain! We will never get a more sympathetic friend in the White House! Now is the time to really sit down for negotiations and finally get our Palestinian State living in peace next to Israel! Wait, what’s that? We’re just going to blame Israel, do nothing for the next 8 years, and wait for something to happen? OK that also works.

2) Hahahaha! Donald Trump is running for President in 2016! Hahahaha!

1) Wait, Mahmoud Abbas is still in Office???
JCPA: Terror Strikes Jordan
Jihadist Islamic terror is again rearing its head in Jordan, and this time it is aimed at the Jordanian security establishment.

The Jordanian security forces have destroyed a large terror infrastructure, but it is feared that other sleeper cells are operating in the country that support the Islamic State.

Over the past two years, Jordan has enjoyed relative quiet on the terror front. The last terror attack was at Karak Castle in southern Jordan in December 2016.

In that incident, the terrorists attacked Jordanian police officers and barricaded themselves inside the Crusader castle, taking 14 hostages including Malaysian tourists. Eventually, the terrorists were killed; a female tourist from Canada was also killed along with nine other people, mostly members of the security forces.

It now appears that the terrorists of radical jihadist Islam are again cropping up in Jordan for a new wave of attacks on the security establishment and that the aim is to destabilize the Hashemite Kingdom. On August 11, 2018, an explosive device was planted in a Jordanian police vehicle in the town of Fuheis. The blast killed a policeman and wounded six others.

A quick investigation led to the terror gang’s hideout in a building in the city of Salt. The siege on the building lasted several hours. When the security forces tried to break into the building, the terrorists set off explosive devices they had planted in advance; the building collapsed on the terrorists and security forces.

In this incident, five members of the security forces were killed, including Major Majad al-Huwaitat, commander of the special-operations unit. Another 20 people were wounded, and three terrorists were taken alive.

The bodies of five other terrorists were found in the rubble of the building.
Turkish Opposition Figure Criticizes ‘Jewish’ Award, After Founder of Ruling Party Claims ‘Jewish Bankers’ Control US Economy
A founding member of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accused Zionist Jews on Tuesday of secretly controlling the US economy, days before a leading opposition figure criticized the AKP for accepting a prize from a Jewish-American group.

In a tweet shared by more than 900 people, Burhan Kuzu alleged that a dozen “Zionist banking families of Jewish descent, whose numbers to do not exceed 300,” oversee the printing of US dollars.

After claiming that Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy “were killed by the Zionists” for trying to wrest control of the economy back from “Jewish bankers,” he called on President Donald Trump to follow in their footsteps. “But he cant do it, because they will assassinate him,” Kuzu said. “Try it Trump, and see what happens!”

The lira recently plummeted in value after Trump imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on Turkey, amidst a diplomatic row over Ankara’s ongoing detention of a American evangelical pastor, which also saw Washington sanction two of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s cabinet members. Turkey — whose economy was already on the brink before the spat — has retaliated by doubling tariffs on certain US imports.
Abbas to Erdogan: 'Palestine' supports you
Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday expressed the support of “Palestine” for Turkey in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah reported.

Sources close to Erdogan said Abbas told the Turkish president that the Palestinian people are in full solidarity with Turkey.

The two leaders also discussed regional developments, the sources added.

Relations between Ankara and Washington have soured in recent weeks due to the continued detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest and facing terrorism-related charges.

U.S. President Donald Trump last week imposed higher tariffs on imports from Turkey, including a 20 percent duty on aluminum and a 50 percent duty on steel.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry has vowed to "retaliate" against the U.S. sanctions, calling the American move a "hostile stance".
UN Report: Iran Helping Resurgent Al Qaeda as Bin Laden’s Son Rises to Leadership
A recent report by the United Nations indicates that terror group al Qaeda is having a resurgence around the world due in part to help from Iran.

The report was delivered to the Security Council this week, Fox News reports, and said one of the world's biggest threats will come from al Qaeda under the leadership of Hamza bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's son.

Al Qaeda has grown mostly in Somalia, Yemen, and South Asia, where it has a stronger presence than ISIS.

The report also says that Iran is allowing al Qaeda leader Aiman al-Zawahiri to work and coordinate efforts from their country, as noted by the Tower.

"Al-Qaida leaders in the Islamic Republic of Iran have grown more prominent, working with Aiman al-Zawahiri and projecting his authority more effectively than he could previously," the report says.

Iran has been criticized in the past by western countries for supporting terrorism, including funneling money and weapons to terrorist groups around the world.
American Couple Believing 'Evil Is A Make-Believe Concept' Bike Through Territory Near Afghan Border. ISIS Stabs Them To Death.
A young American couple who took a year-long bike trip around the world, believing that evil was a make-believe concept, took a fatal route in Tajikistan near the Afghan border, where alleged ISIS terrorists stabbed them to death.

Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan, 29, quit their jobs last year in order to make their trip. Austin was a vegan who worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Geoghegan, a vegetarian who worked in the Georgetown University admissions office.

Austin had a personal blog on which he wrote in June 2017, “I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige. I’ve missed too many sunsets while my back was turned. Too many thunderstorms went unwatched, too many gentle breezes unnoticed.”

Their trip, which lasted 369 days, took them from the southernmost tip of Africa in Capetown, South Africa, to Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Egypt, Morocco, Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Montengro, Kosovo, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and finally Tajikistan, where they were murdered along with two other cyclists, one from Switzerland and the other from the Netherlands. (h/t jzaik)
Dr. Abdur-Rafay of Hizb-ut-Tahrir America: The West Has Launched a New Crusade
At Hizb-ut-Tahrir America's 2018 Khilafa Conference, Dr. Abdur-Rafay said that the West has "launched a new Crusade – a much deadlier attack, with profound consequences, than just physical wounds," and that "the bloody Crusades to spread Christianity… was now re-energized to infuse secular liberalism upon Muslims." He accused Western governments and the media of linking any act of violence by a Muslim to extremism coming from a violent political ideology of Islam, and said that this narrative is a means of forcing Muslims to condemn violence, to prove their patriotism, and to adopt Western values. Abdur-Rafay said that this assault seeks to produce a "good Muslim" who believes in a secular, "American" Islam. The conference took place on April 29 in Palos Hills, Illinois.

Reacting to Burqa Bans, Arab States Crack Down on Man Buns (satire)
In response to legislation in Austria, Denmark and France banning Muslim women from wearing the burqa, Muslim countries across the Middle East have begun cracking down on young to middle-aged white men sporting “man buns”.

Saudi Arabia was the first to issue a “man bun ban,” calling the hairstyle a threat to national security. Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan soon followed suit. “Potential terrorists can hide weapons or explosives in these man buns, putting innocent lives at risk,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said. “We know it’s not very likely, but we just cannot imagine any other reason somebody would want to wear one, except for Samurais of course but we don’t have any Samurais in the Middle East.”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman highlighted the danger the man bun posed to other men in the country. “When a man in our country sports a man bun, it puts their fellow male citizens at a far greater risk of being sexually assaulted simply because those without the bun look so much better in comparison,” the crown prince explained.

The leaders behind the man bun bans all publicly cited Western prohibitions on burqas as driving the legislation. Privately, however, many admitted that they were simply looking for an excuse to keep the fashion trend out of their countries.

“It is embarrassing that you Westerners can go out in public with what looks like a lump of ‘hair testicles’ sitting on top of your head,” one Muslim leader told The Mideast Beast. “Frankly, maybe radical Islamists were right about Western culture.”

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