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February 2017

Exploiting the Holocaust for political ends is a dangerous game.Frank Furedi

That the Western world is experiencing a crisis of political imagination is clear from the casual, everyday allusions to the Holocaust. Across the media, talk of Hitler and genocide and the 1930s is widespread. I’ve stopped counting the number of times I’ve heard people use the phrase ‘he’s like Hitler’ to describe someone they disagree with or fear. Today’s world is just like the 1930s, assert commentators and politicians. And of course the go-to metaphor for evil is the Holocaust. Comparing contemporary events with the period of the Holocaust has become the incantation of every third-rate sophist in search of an argument.

More and more public figures are becoming addicted to using the idiom of Nazism to score a political point. Some expect to have a monopoly over this language and will criticise others who adopt the same rhetorical strategy. Consider UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson. Last May, during the Brexit referendum campaign, he condemned the EU for pursuing the same goal as Hitler: establishing a European superstate. Yet last month he rightly criticised Labour MPs for ‘demeaning the Holocaust’ by comparing President Donald Trump to Hitler.

Listening to the recent parliamentary debate over Trump’s state visit to the UK, one could be forgiven for thinking we were back in September 1938, in the aftermath of Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler over the annexation of parts of Czechoslovakia. Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner, who has forgotten nothing and learned nothing since entering parliament in 1970, mentioned Hitler and Mussolini in the same breath as Trump before accusing the government of collaborating with the ‘fascist’ Führer in the White House.

Another Labour MP, Mike Gapes, demonstrated his formidable grasp of historiography by portraying Theresa May as a latter-day Chamberlain, before confirming his reputation as a witty parliamentarian by branding her ‘Theresa the appeaser’. And just in case you were still clasping to the belief that we are in 2017, not the 1930s, the Labour MP Nic Dakin provided the killer argument. ‘Holocaust survivors have said this reminds them of the 1930s’, he declared. All that was missing was some eager MP claiming that graffiti of a swastika spotted on a wall somewhere in England reminded him of Kristallnacht.

Some Holocaust-mongers lose all sense of moral perspective when they exploit this catastrophic event for their own political ends. I remember being dumbstruck by the title of an article written by an animal-rights activist: ‘Is it offensive to compare the Holocaust with the meat industry?’ The answer to this rhetorical question, predictably enough, was ‘No’. Why? Because ‘if you go to any meat production house and replace the animals with Jews, that’s exactly what you’ll have: a holocaust’. The casual manner in which Jews can be ‘replaced’ in discussions of the Holocaust shows how far this event has been decontextualised from history, and turned into a transcendental morality play. It seems the fact that Jews were the main target of the Holocaust is purely incidental, so replacing Jews with sheep is considered a legitimate exercise in logic. CONTINUE AT SITE

Reagan, Trump and America Paul Johnson And Tycho Johnson

Tycho Johnson: Let’s start by talking about Reagan. What were your first impressions when you met in 1980?

Paul Johnson: He was a very smooth operator. Everything about him was smooth. He had a soft, sympathetic voice, he loved talking, and he talked well. You could tell that he had been a professional actor. He had a lot of the graces and characteristics of one, he spoke well, spoke evenly, never at a loss for a word, and in fact gave a very good performance, you might say.

TJ: Modern Times, your history of the 20th century, profoundly influenced American conservatism, and Reagan himself is believed to have read it.

PJ: He did read it, and I remember he read a number of things of mine, and said he liked the way I wrote.

TJ: Did Modern Times have an impact on his presidency?

PJ: I think that would be going a bit too far, but I think it had some impact on him, yes, and he certainly enjoyed it.

TJ: Could you say that it provided the historical framework to give conservatism purpose at the time?

PJ: Yes. I think he liked to see things through the lenses of history. And therefore he needed a historical context in which he could place himself and his work as president of the United States. I think my writings helped him to do that, they helped him to see how his times fitted in to the general perspective of history, and how he emerged from it, and how he could possibly change things as a result of his perception of himself.

TJ: How would you describe the economic and political mood of America before Reagan?

PJ: The Cold War was coming to an end, and America had won it, but he didn’t want to proclaim this too openly, for fear the Russians would react too strongly against it.

TJ: Would you say that the feeling of the nation, before Reagan, was one of uncertainty? That they felt in a precarious situation?

PJ: Yes, they did feel that way, but Reagan was a very reassuring figure. He looked reassuring, he had a reassuring voice, reassuring things to say, and his general aura was one of calmness: “We’re doing well, and we’re going to do even better!” He was also the kind of person who got his inner strength from reassuring other people, to give them the sense that life was improving in general and he wanted people to aim higher than just “good”.

TJ: America today finds itself in a similarly precarious situation, as it was before Reagan. Massive debt, low wage growth, foreign policy concerns such as China, Russia, Islamic terrorism, not to mention the divided public. How would you compare the moods of then and now?

PJ: I think America has had a weak presidency for these last few years, and nobody pays much attention to Obama. So they have to recover from that, and I think they will. People are very critical of Trump, but I think that Trump may well turn out to be an above-average, maybe rather impressive president, once he gets going.

TJ: Reagan was a Hollywood actor who transitioned to politics. Trump is somewhat similar, being a businessman and TV celebrity. How would you compare them background-wise?

PJ: A lot of people didn’t think Reagan would do well, but he was probably one of the best presidents of the 20th century, and I think that is something very much to his personal credit — he created it all himself. So I think in that way they are alike. Both are self-made.

TJ: We had Reagan Democrats, and Trump seems to have attracted similar blue-collar votes. Is there a connection between their particular personalities, backgrounds, and ability to attract that demographic?

A Muslim Brotherhood Security Breach in Congress There’s a national security risk swamp to drain. Daniel Greenfield

Last year, eight members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued a demand that their staffers be granted access to top secret classified information.

The signatories to the letter were Andre Carson, Luis Guiterez, Jim Himes, Terri Sewell, Jackie Speier, Mike Quigley, Eric Swalwell and Patrick Murphy. All the signatories were Democrats. Some had a history of attempting to undermine national security.

Two of them have been linked to an emerging security breach.

The office of Andre Carson, the second Muslim in Congress, had employed Imran Awan. As did the offices of Jackie Speier and Debbie Wasserman Schultz; to whom the letter had been addressed.

Imran Awan and his two brothers, Jamal and Abid, are at the center of an investigation that deals with, among other things, allegations of illegal access. They have been barred from the House of Representatives network.

A member of Congress expressed concern that, “they may have stolen data from us.”

All three of the Pakistani brothers had been employed by Democrats. The offices that employed them included HPSCI minority members Speier, Carson and Joaquín Castro. Congressman Castro, who also sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, utilized the services of Jamal Moiz Awan. Speier and Carson’s offices utilized Imran Awan.

Abid A. Awan was employed by Lois Frankel and Ted Lieu: members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. Also on the committee is Castro. As is Robin Kelly whose office employed Jamal Awan. Lieu also sits on the subcommittees on National Security and Information Technology of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Tammy Duckworth’s office had also employed Abid. Before Duckworth successfully played on the sympathy of voters to become Senator Tammy Duckworth, she had been on the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces of the Armed Services Committee.

Gwen Graham, who had also been on the Armed Services Committee and on the Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee, had employed Jamal Awan. Jamal was also employed by Cedric Richmond’s office. Richmond sits on the Committee on Homeland Security and on its Terrorism and Cybersecurity subcommittee. He is a ranking member of the latter subcommittee. Also employing Jamal was Mark Takano of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

Imran had worked for the office of John Sarbanes who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee that oversees, among other things, the nuclear industry. Other members of the Committee employing the brothers included Yvette Clarke, who also sits on the Bipartisan Encryption Working Group, Diana DeGette, Dave Loebsack and Tony Cardenas.

But finally there’s Andre Carson.

Carson is the second Muslim in Congress and the first Muslim on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and, more critically, is the ranking member on its Emerging Threats Subcommittee. He is also a member of the Department of Defense Intelligence and Overhead Architecture Subcommittee.

The Muslim Congress IT Staffers Case Gets Weirder Daniel Greenfield

I wrote about this strange case in early February.

Imran Awan and his two brothers, Jamal and Abid, are at the center of an investigation that deals with, among other things, allegations of illegal access. They have been barred from the House of Representatives network.

A member of Congress expressed concern that, “they may have stolen data from us.”

All three of the Pakistani brothers had been employed by Democrats. The offices that employed them included HPSCI minority members Speier, Carson and Joaquín Castro. Congressman Castro, who also sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, utilized the services of Jamal Moiz Awan. Speier and Carson’s offices utilized Imran Awan.

Why were the Awan brothers, one of whom had a criminal record, even allowed to work in such a sensitive position? How did the personnel suspected in this case pass background checks? And was any classified information compromised as a result of these alleged breaches?

These questions and more must be asked and answered. But they are only the first of many questions.

The Awans were employed by Democrats on very sensitive committees. There is a fuller listing at the link above. But suffice it to say some of these are very sensitive committees.

Now Luke Rosiak at the Daily Caller has an update of the strange developments in this investigation.

Last Night in Sweden Problems? What problems? Bruce Bawer

Well, I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. A few days ago I bragged in this space about having overcome my years-long addiction to the New York Times. Then, in the wake of President Trump’s remark on Saturday in Melbourne, Florida, about “last night in Sweden,” I noticed on Facebook that the Times had run a “news story” by one Sewell Chan headlined “‘Last Night in Sweden’? Trump’s Remark Baffles a Nation.” I couldn’t resist.

As it turned out, of course, Trump hadn’t baffled the entire Swedish nation. What had really happened was that a great many members of the Swedish establishment – politicians, journalists, business and academic elites, and so on – had professed that they were baffled. “Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking?” asked former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt. Chan himself maintained that some news media (those, you understand, that lean right and have less rigorous journalistic standards than than the august Times) had presented “numerous exaggerations and distortions” about Sweden, “including false reports that Shariah law was predominant in parts of the country and that some immigrant-heavy neighborhoods were considered ‘no-go zones’ by the police.” (False reports, min röv.) Chan went on to quote various Swedish officials who roundly denied that Muslim immigrants had had a significant impact on crime and rape statistics.

To be sure, I was puzzled at first by Trump’s reference to Sweden, and rechecked a few news sources to see if I’d missed something. Then I realized he might have been referring to a segment I’d watched the night before on Tucker Carlson Live. One or Carlson’s guests was filmmaker Ari Horowitz, who had made a documentary about all those non-existent Swedish no-go zones and all that imaginary crime. Sure enough, Trump later tweeted that this was exactly what he was talking about: he’d been watching Tucker Carlson, too. (Which, incidentally, was nice to know.)

But one article calling Trump out on his Sweden remark wasn’t enough for the Times. The next day it ran another. “The Swedes were flabbergasted,” claimed Chan and co-reporter Sewell Baker. Again we heard from Bildt, who this time said: “We are used to seeing the president of the U.S. as one of the most well-informed persons in the world, also well aware of the importance of what he says….And then, suddenly, we see him engaging in misinformation and slander against a truly friendly country, obviously relying on sources of a quality that at best could be described as dubious.” The piece went on to cite this incident as yet another example of Trump alienating “American friend[s]” (something that the Times hadn’t been particularly worried about when Obama was sticking his fingers in the eyes of our allies and sucking up to our foes).

At the Times, of course, as I wrote the other day, “fake news” is old news. And “fake news” about Trump has been a staple at that newspaper ever since he rode down that escalator in Trump Tower. But this new bout of “fake news” about Sweden was even more transparently fake than usual. If everything’s fine in Sweden, then why the hell are the Sweden Democrats rising in the polls? Hell, if everything’s fine in Sweden, why do the Sweden Democrats exist at all? Chan and Baker interviewed a couple of leading Swedish politicians and other top members of Sweden’s cultural elite, but they didn’t quote any Sweden Democrats.

The Doughboys Go to Hell The soldiers of the 79th were forced to fight for over three days and nights on a single meal and two canteens of water. In “With Their Bare Hands: General Pershing, the 79th Division, and the Battle for Montfaucon” Gene Fax masterfully recounts their nightmarish struggle. By Matthew J. Davenport

Lt. Miller Johnson hugged the dirt of a shell crater in no man’s land, driven down by German machine-gun fire. He lifted his head just enough to orient himself in the thick morning fog, “and behold I was looking into the muzzle of a German gun two feet in front of me.” Johnson thought he had been deserted by his platoon, but then he heard a familiar voice: “Keep down, Lieutenant. There she comes,” followed by a blinding explosion. He came to, shaken, and saw that one of his men had taken out the enemy machine-gun nest with a grenade. Before pressing on, as the fog began to lift, Johnson gathered his troops and took a head count: Of the 50 soldiers he had led from the trench just an hour before, only 10 remained.

With Their Bare Hands
Product Details

With Their Bare Hands: General Pershing, the 79th Division, and the battle for Montfaucon
Feb 21, 2017
by Gene Fax

By Gene Fax

Osprey, 495 pages, $32

The human cost of ending rubella; Europe at the crossroads; the doughboys go to hell; when America opened its doors; Stalin in your living room; the heroism of old age; the death of an all-American town; rebooting the Big Bang; and much more.

It was the morning of Sept. 26, 1918, the first day of a massive Allied offensive against the entrenched German army in northeastern France, one that would soon become—and to this day remains—the largest and deadliest battle in which American troops ever fought. Johnson’s platoon was just one of the nearly 200 infantry platoons of the U.S. 79th Division, each facing its own fight to conquer the German-occupied fortified village of Montfaucon. In “With Their Bare Hands: General Pershing, the 79th Division, and the Battle for Montfaucon” Gene Fax masterfully recounts, studies and dissects their nightmarish struggle.

From the time the U.S. had entered the war the year before, Gen. John Pershing, commander in chief of the American Expeditionary Forces, had fought inflexibly for American autonomy against overwhelming Allied pressure to split up his divisions and amalgamate them with veteran French and British units. But in the face of a series of devastating German offensives in the spring of 1918, he acquiesced temporarily, turning some of his few AEF divisions then in France over to Allied command. And after American success in combat at Cantigny, Belleau Wood and Soissons, Pershing won the approval of Gen. Ferdinand Foch, the supreme Allied commander, to launch an all-American offensive at St. Mihiel. But it came with a cost: Foch would only green-light the American offensive if Pershing would in turn furnish AEF divisions for a larger Allied offensive just days later between the Meuse River and the Argonne Forest. It was a decision from which dangled tens of thousands of American lives, forcing Pershing—whose best combat-tested, veteran divisions were committed to St. Mihiel—to send fresh, inexperienced divisions to the Meuse-Argonne front, among them the 79th. CONTINUE AT SITE

Sweden: Hate Speech Just for Imams by Judith Bergman

“I do not think anyone has the right to violate other people in the name of religion”. — Jonnié Jonsson, Chairman of RFSL Halland.

In Sweden, comments that object to sexual violence against women in the Quran are prosecuted, but calling homosexuality a “virus” is fine.

Antisemitism has become so socially acceptable in Sweden that anti-Semites can get away with anything, and no one even notices, as Nima Gholam Ali Pour reports.

One of Sweden’s main news outlets, in fact, described anti-Semitism as simply a different opinion. Clearly, in the eyes of Swedish authorities, neither homosexuals nor Jews count for much.

Swedish authorities also give large sums of money to organizations that advocate violence and invite hate preachers who support terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

One of the speakers SFM hired was Michael Skråmo, who has publicly called on his fellow Muslims to join ISIS and has appeared in propaganda videos, posing with assault rifles alongside his small children.

Are some individuals receiving preferential treatment under Sweden’s “hate speech” laws? It seems that way.

Under the Swedish Penal Code, a person can be held responsible for incitement if a statement or representation made “threatens or disrespects an ethnic group or other such group of persons with regards to race, color, national or ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation”.

In 2015, the imam at Halmstad mosque, Abu Muadh, said that homosexuality was a “virus” from which parents were obliged to protect their children.

The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Rights (RFSL) filed a legal complaint in October 2015. “[M]any people are listening [to the imam] and there is a risk that the opinions and other expressions of homophobia will spread among believers, as they attach great importance to their representatives’ words”, said Ulrika Westerlund, chairman of RFSL.

The Swedish legal establishment however, seemed entirely unconcerned; the imam was not prosecuted.

“[F]or something to be incitement, it needs to reach a certain level and in this context, the assessment is that this statement does not reach that level”, said Martin Inglund, acting investigation officer at Halmstad police. He added that an assessment had been made based on freedom of religion, as well as the European Convention on Human Rights. It took the police only one week to make the decision not to prosecute the imam.

“It is a strange decision, said Jonnié Jonsson, chairman of RFSL Halland, “I do not think anyone has the right to violate other people in the name of religion”.

Jews Under Assault in Europe by Robbie Travers

A German court actually ruled that firebombing a place where Jews worship is somehow different from attacking Jews.

Why was the Israeli embassy not attacked, rather than a synagogue whose worshippers were presumably not Israeli? Presumably the worshippers were German. What happened in the German court was pure Nazi-think and the most undisguised antisemitism: that Jews are supposedly not Germans.

Meanwhile, another German Court again rejected an action against your friendly neighborhood “sharia police.”

In Germany, it seems, firebombing synagogues is merely “anti-Israeli” even if there are no Israelis there, and “police” who use Islamic sharia law — without legal authority and within a system of law that persecutes women, Christians, Jews and others — are acceptable and legal.

The anti-Semitism facing Jews at UK universities led the Baroness Deech to declare British University campuses “no-go zones” for Jews.

Simply defining and identifying anti-Semitism is only the start. It is also necessary to start tackling the anti-Semitic attitudes of Islamic communities across Europe and the attitudes of immigrants coming to our nations.

What needs to be made clear is that you are welcome here as long as you respect Jews, Christians and all others, as well.

Antonio Tajani, the new President of the European Parliament, has made a bold opening statement of intent: “No Jew should be forced to leave Europe.” While this is an admirable position to hold, it sadly could not be farther from the truth. The poison of anti-Semitism festers in Europe once again.

Europe is seeing yet again another rise in the number of Jews leaving the continent. Jonathan Boyd, Executive Director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (IJPR), notes that the number of Jews leaving France is “unprecedented”

The results of the study show that 4% of the French and Belgian Jewish populations had emigrated those countries to reside in Israel.

The IJPR attributes this demographic transformation to the inflow of migrants from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Is this really surprising? Sadly, when individuals come from nations that have culturally a high dislike of Jews, many of these immigrants might hold anti-Semitic views that eventually get spread.

In France, anti-Semitic incidents more than doubled between 2014 and 2015, from 423 reported incidents to 851. From January to July, anti-Semitic incidents in the UK increased by 11% according to the UK’s Common Security Trust. And this prejudice is increasing.

Netanyahu in Singapore:”This is a battle for the future of humanity. That future is represented in Israel”

At the Maghain Aboth Synagogue in Singapore, to about 200 members of Singapore’s
Jewish community of about 2500 people, Bibi Netanyahu has declared: “I feel that Singapore and Israel are kindred nations. I find it a special privilege and an honour to be the first Israeli Prime Minister to make an official visit to Singapore. This follows the visit of Premier Lee to Israel, the first official visit of the Prime Minister of Singapore to Israel and it’s an obvious bond, a growing bond.

Seventy years ago, if you looked at Israel and you looked at Singapore, there wasn’t much to see. But there’s a lot to see and it’s not, I think, accidental that our two nations formed this bond between us because we are both inspired to do things, to punch above our weight.

Israel is the innovation nation, we’re both entrepreneurial centres. We have innate talent and we have great drive to succeed.

I believe that great powers around the world look at Israel and Singapore today and see tremendous economic opportunities. Tremendous. And one reason that that is the case is that we have an unbridled spirit and we put it to use. That spirit is something that we’ve enshrined in our peoples for a long time, for a long time. The Jewish People have passed learning from one generation to another, an inquisitive mindset and the ability to produce new things.

I don’t have to say that to the Jewish community in Singapore because you’ve been here for almost two centuries and you have that entrepreneurial quest for many, many decades, and I think that you serve as a human bridge between Singapore and Israel. I know that you care for the State of Israel. I know you care for Jewish traditions. This gathering is an indication of that concern and that passion.

I also want to point out to you that I recently visited two Muslim countries, one is Azerbaijan and the other is Kazakhstan. And in those Muslim countries, in Kazakhstan I visited a synagogue.

And Jewish children in Kazakhstan were singing Hebrew songs, as they sang here, in a Muslim state and that reflects the kind of world we’d like to see: a world of tolerance; a world of diversity; a world that is opposed to the world that is being challenged today by the forces of barbarism and intolerance.

We Can’t Ignore Hamas By Lawrence J. Haas

When Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman offered the other day for Israel to turn Gaza into “the Singapore of the Middle East,” with a seaport, airport and industrial zones, if Hamas would stop firing rockets, building tunnels and seizing Israeli citizens, the terrorist group had a curt response.

“If we wanted to turn Gaza into Singapore, we would have done it ourselves,” Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, told an Arabic-language newspaper. “We do not need favors from anyone.”

Al-Zahar’s exchange with Lieberman, which came just days after Hamas chose the ruthless murderer Yehiya Sinwar as its new leader, puts in perspective the silly kerfuffle over President Donald Trump’s suggestion that the United States is no longer firmly fixed on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

To refresh memories, Palestinian territory is split in two, with the Palestinian Authority, or PA, running the West Bank while Hamas runs Gaza. The PA dances a devious two-step, promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace with the West while praising Jew-killing, martyrdom and “resistance” with its own people.

Hamas, by contrast, is forthright, calling for Israel’s destruction before every audience. And while everyone who supports the two-state solution – which is almost every respected voice in foreign policy circles – focuses on Israel and the PA, Hamas is the huge obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace that nobody wants to acknowledge.

Hamas has ruled Gaza – a 141-square-mile strip of nearly two million Palestinians that borders Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea – since it ousted the PA in a violent coup in 2007. It has fought three wars with Israel since 2008, with its soldiers firing rockets and building tunnels to attack the Jewish state and hiding in schools and hospitals to ensure maximum civilian carnage when Israel responds.

So, here’s an inconvenient truth: Whether pursuing the two-state solution or a more controversial one-state formula of Palestinian rights under Israeli rule, would-be peacemakers begin not with two warring entities but, in fact, three – Israel, the PA and Hamas. And no one can wish away that reality.