Sweden: Muslim Government Minister Sacked After Making Nazi Allegations by Ingrid Carlqvist

“This is not about freedom of speech, this is about insulting people’s faith. I cannot see anything that has to do with freedom of speech here.” — Mehmet Kaplan, on the Mohammed cartoon controversy, 2005.

Mehmet Kaplan told Turkish media that the reason young Muslims join ISIS is “the rampaging Islamophobia in Europe.” As a solution to the problem, he suggested that the Swedish government support mosques financially, ostensibly to counteract ISIS’s recruitment.

In 2014, three Muslims became ministers in the Swedish government. Clearly the most fervent and committed believer was Mehmet Kaplan, 44, who took on the role of Minister for Housing and Urban Development.

Kaplan came to Sweden from Turkey, at the age of one. Despite many claims that he is in fact an Islamist, until now Kaplan has been untouchable. That is, until it emerged that he said that Israel treats the Palestinians the same way the Nazis treated the Jews in Germany. At a hastily summoned press conference on April 18, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced that he had accepted Kaplan’s resignation.

Mehmet Kaplan was a minister in Sweden’s government until last week, when he was forced to resign after revelations that he compared Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to that of the German Nazis’ treatment of Jews. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons/Jan Ainali)

Kaplan, a member of the Green Party, has a history of being affiliated with various Muslim organizations connected to the Muslim Brotherhood. In 2005, he denounced the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, for publishing cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Mohammed. In an interview with the Christian magazine Dagen, he said, “This is not about freedom of speech, this is about insulting people’s faith. I cannot see anything that has to do with freedom of speech here. This is an insupportable provocation.”

In 2010, Kaplan was aboard one of the ships of the flotilla sailing to the Gaza Strip, with the aim of breaking Israel’s naval blockade. He, along with several others, was arrested after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) boarded the vessel. Once safe and sound back in Sweden, he complained that the IDF “acted like pirates.”

The “Two State Solution”: Irony and Truth by Louis René Beres

“The establishment of such a [Palestinian] state means the inflow of combat-ready Palestinian forces into Judea and Samaria … In time of war, the frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence…” — Shimon Peres, Nobel Laureate and Former Prime Minister of Israel, in 1978.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964; three years before there were any “occupied territories.” Exactly what, then was the PLO planning to “liberate”?

Both Fatah and Hamas have always considered, and still consider, Israel as simply part of “Palestine.” On their current official maps, all of Israel is identified as “Occupied Palestine.”

“You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel, and establish a purely Palestinian state. … I have no use for Jews; they are and remain, Jews.” — PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, January 30, 1996 (2.5 years after signing the Oslo Peace Accords).

In view of these repeatedly intolerant Arab views on Israel’s existence, international law should not expect Palestinian compliance with any agreements, including those concerning use of armed force — even if these agreements were to include explicit U.S. security guarantees to Israel.

There is no lack of irony in the endless discussions of Israel and a Palestinian state.

One oddly neglected example is the complete turnaround of former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres. Recognized today as perhaps the proudest Israeli champion of a “Two State Solution” — sometimes also referred to as a “Road Map to Peace in the Middle East” — Peres had originally considered Palestinian sovereignty to be an intolerable existential threat to Israel. More precisely, in his book, Tomorrow is Now (1978), Mr. Peres unambiguously warned:

“The establishment of such a (Palestinian) state means the inflow of combat-ready Palestinian forces into Judea and Samaria this force, together with the local youth, will double itself in a short time. It will not be short of weapons or other military equipment, and in a short space of time, an infrastructure for waging war will be set up in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. … In time of war, the frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence…”

Now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in apparent agreement with this original position of Peres on Palestine, is nonetheless willing to go along with some form or another of a Palestinian state, but only so long as its prospective leaders should first agree to “demilitarization.” Netanyahu, the “hawk,” is now in agreement with the early, original warning of Peres, the “dove.” Peres’s assessment has been Netanyahu’s firm quid pro quo.

The Death of Free Speech: The West Veils Itself by Giulio Meotti

The West has capitulated on freedom of expression. Nobody in the West launched the motto “Je Suis Avijit Roy,” the name of the first of the several bloggers butchered, flogged or jailed last year for criticizing Islam.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, sided with the Turks. She condemned the German comedian’s poem, called it a “deliberate insult,” then approved the filing of criminal charges against him for insulting the Turkish president.

The West is veiling its freedom of speech in the confrontation with the Islamic world: this is the story of Salman Rushdie, of the Danish cartoons, of Theo van Gogh, of Charlie Hebdo.

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, just released an interview with Italy’s largest newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera, where he suggested a kind of grand bargain: We Iranians will discuss with you our human rights situation, if you Europeans suppress freedom of expression on Islam.

Last week, Nazimuddin Samad sat at his computer at home and penned a few critical lines against the Islamist drift of his country, Bangladesh. The day after, Samad was approached by four men shouting “Allahu Akbar!” (“Allah is great!”) and hacked him to death with machetes.

These killings have become routine in Bangladesh, where many bloggers, journalists and publishers are being killed in broad daylight because of their criticism of Islam. There is a hit list with 84 names of “satanic bloggers.” A wave of terrorism against journalists reminiscent of that in Algeria, where 60 journalists were killed by Islamist armed groups between 1993 and 1997.

But these shocking killings have not been worth of a single line in Europe’s newspapers.

Is it because these bloggers are less famous than the cartoonists murdered at Charlie Hebdo? Is it because their stories did not come from the City of Light, Paris, but from one of the poorest and darkest cities in the world, Dhaka?

No, it is because the West has capitulated on freedom of expression. Nobody in the West launched the motto “Je Suis Avijit Roy,” the name of the first of these bloggers butchered last year.

Alan Moran: Voting Ourselves into Penury

A re-affirmation of small government, ideally including constitutional limits on its size and regulatory authority within the economy, is necessary if stagnation is not to become the way of the world. Or we could ape Japan’s example and learn to live with little or no growth, not now or ever

Even with the federal election still at its phony war stage we can discern the assaults on our liberties and pockets that the next few months will foreshadow. Labor (still more the Greens) has set its spoon to plumbing the depths of the magic pudding as it tries to consolidate and build upon the excesses of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years.

To shore up its support base Shorten & Co., want to:

spend more on teachers and people with disabilities;
have a royal commission into banking to force banks to lend to those with sub-standard credit or to grant preferred terms to some borrowers;
leave the unions beyond the law, thus ensuring cost premiums which are 30% on construction costs;
triple the price of electricity by requiring a 50% renewable share,
plug the industrial attrition caused by energy and IR cost impositions by increasing protectionism and requiring local steel, even if sub-standard or excessively priced, to be used in naval shipbuilding and infrastructure;
promote LGBT agendas, including introducing “marriage equality”; and
introduce “more humane treatment” of refugees.

Conscious that government spending remains well above the “emergency” levels introduced in 2007 and that some of these plans will require tax increases in addition to the increased regulatory induced costs, the ALP is proposing to:

increase business taxes on multinationals
levy a special tax on those earning more than $180,000 a year
tax superannuation;
introduce higher taxes on capital gains;
abolish negative gearing on housing investments; and
increase tobacco taxes.

At least in the case of the first four of the above points, the measures would bring about lower savings and investment – the basic drivers of living standards – with detrimental economic outcomes.

The Failure of Sanctions Against North Korea Good luck trying to scuttle Pyongyang’s nuclear program when sanctions are full of loopholes. By Claudia Rosett

In the latest push to stop North Korea’s rogue nuclear and missile programs, the United Nations Security Council on March 2 passed a sanctions resolution widely hailed as the toughest in decades. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said “this resolution is so comprehensive, there are many provisions that leave no gap, no window.” But when it comes to North Korea’s merchant shipping ventures, these sanctions are a sieve.

True, the North Korean ships specifically blacklisted by the U.N. currently appear restricted in their movements, clustered around North Korea. But the blacklist omits more than half of the country’s relevant fleet.

Setting aside North Korean ships operating under foreign flags of convenience, there are more than 100 active ships flagged to North Korea, in a fleet regularly replenished by second-hand vessels, according to a report last year by the U.N.’s own panel of experts on North Korea sanctions. Currently the U.N. has blacklisted a total of 27 North Korea-linked ships. The U.S. has blacklisted 38 (including five that appear to have been scrapped).

Among the vessels excluded from either blacklist are three small general-cargo ships, all flagged to North Korea—the Deniz, the Shaima and the Yekta—that have been plying the Persian Gulf for roughly a year, making port calls at Iran. Two of these ships are registered in Dubai and one—the Deniz—in care of a company in Iran, according to information from maritime databases including Lloyd’s and Equasis.
The North Korean cargo vessel Jin Teng docks at Subic Bay, in Zambales province, northwest of Manila, Philippines on March 4. ENLARGE
The North Korean cargo vessel Jin Teng docks at Subic Bay, in Zambales province, northwest of Manila, Philippines on March 4. Photo: Associated Press

All three share intriguing common features. They were renamed and reflagged to North Korea within the past 18 months. The Deniz was reflagged from Japan, the Shaima and Yekta from Mongolia—which North Korea has used as a flag of convenience. The ships can be identified by their hull numbers, known as IMO numbers, issued under the authority of the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization. Attempts to contact their owners were unsuccessful.

Since March 2015, the Deniz has made at least 10 calls at Iran, including at least four this year, shuttling among Turkey, Kuwait and Iran’s Bushehr port and Kharg and Sarooj terminals. According to Equasis, the Deniz’s registered owner since February 2015 is H. Khedri—or Hadri Khedri, according to the IMO’s shipping-company database—with an address for Siri Maritime Services in Tehran. The Yekta and the Shaima have been making runs between Dubai and the Iranian port of Abadan, which the Yekta visited as recently as April 5. CONTINUE AT SITE

Can I Get That With Extra GMO? A Vermont labeling law will burden industry and encourage baseless fears about scientific progress. By Jayson Lusk

The small state of Vermont is poised this summer to upend national policy—and it doesn’t have anything to do with Bernie Sanders. Starting July 1, many foods sold in the Green Mountain State must carry a label if they are made with genetically modified ingredients. The law is full of carve-outs: It applies to grocery stores, but not restaurants, and to packaged foods, but not meat or cheese. Nonetheless, it will have nationwide implications. Because food manufacturers may not want to create separate packaging for different regions of the country, or to risk the legal liability if a non-labeled GMO winds up in Vermont, they will probably adjust their supply chains far beyond New England.

Lawsuits and bills in Congress have attempted to nullify the Vermont measure, but they have been unsuccessful. Those in favor of labeling and those against have tussled over philosophical and legal matters. What is the consumer’s right to know? Can the government compel speech when the best science suggests that GMOs pose no safety risk? Proponents argue that the only cost of labeling is the price of ink. Opponents worry that labeling GMOs will stigmatize them, causing food manufacturers to switch to more expensive non-genetically engineered ingredients.

Polls do show that 80% or more of consumers support labeling GMOs. But this is a dubious argument in favor, since most know little about the issue. A survey that I conducted on food preferences in January asked more than 1,000 Americans about an absurd hypothetical policy mandating labels for foods containing DNA. Eighty percent supported the idea. A follow-up last February asked another 1,000 people whether they thought that the statement “all vegetables contain DNA” was true or false. More than half, 52%, said “false.” For the record, the correct answer is “true.”

My research shows that when people are directly asked how they want the issue of GMO labeling to be decided, they do not defer to politicians or their fellow citizens. In a survey last May, a strong majority, 61%, preferred to put the matter to experts at the Food and Drug Administration. This seems to be borne out at the ballot box: To date, referendums on mandatory labeling have been held in five states, and none has passed. CONTINUE AT SITE

Submarines Down Under Australia rejects a Japanese bid after Chinese pressure.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Tuesday that the biggest military contract in Australia’s history, a $40 billion tender to build 12 submarines, will go to a French naval contractor. That’s a defeat for Japan’s bid, and with it a lost opportunity to deepen cooperation among the leading Pacific democracies facing China’s rising military.

Mr. Turnbull said he based his decision on an “unequivocal” recommendation from defense officials “that the French offer represented the capabilities best able to meet Australia’s unique needs,” including the imperative to operate across long distances. France’s state-owned DCNS will build a 4,500-ton diesel-electric version of its existing 5,000-ton Barracuda nuclear-powered sub, including a quiet pump-jet propulsion system rather than a traditional propeller.

As important, especially with national elections looming in July, is what’s in it for domestic labor. Mr. Turnbull promises “Australian workers building Australian submarines with Australian steel,” especially in swing districts facing auto-factory closures amid state subsidy cuts. Unions have been on edge since then-Defense Minister David Johnston said in 2014 he couldn’t trust state-owned shipbuilder ASC “to build a canoe.” Hence the need for foreign bids.

But all bidders agreed to build in Australia, so that doesn’t account for France’s win over Japan, which offered a version of its sophisticated 4,000-ton Soryu sub built by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Australian sources say Japan’s problems ranged from insufficient crew space in its design to inexperience among executives and officials in exporting complex military technology, as Tokyo banned such exports until two years ago.

The most significant influence may have been China, Australia’s largest trading partner, which openly campaigned against Japan’s bid. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned his Australian counterpart in February to remember World War II and “consider the feelings of Asian countries,” arguing that Japan’s military-export ambitions represent a failure to “uphold its pacifist constitution.” CONTINUE AT SITE

Hillary’s Debt to Sanders and Trump Next to her rivals’ gloomy rhetoric about America the bleak, she almost looks like a beacon of hope. Dorothy Rabinowitz

Even before the air-clearing April 19 New York primary in which Bernie Sanders was trounced and Donald Trump was a big winner, word had come of a more presidential Trump soon to be revealed. The unveiling came with Mr. Trump’s victory speech, an event that occasioned near-universal excitement when the candidate used the word “senator” in front of Ted Cruz’s name—a reaction that said a good deal about Mr. Trump and his campaign, all of it deeply familiar.

Mr. Trump’s image refurbishing promises to become a show all its own, fascinating to behold, albeit with slim prospects of success. The same would be true for Bernie Sanders, also being pressed now to improve his tone—the nudging being another of the many things the two have in common in addition to the main thing, namely the enormous role both have played in advancing Hillary Clinton’s progress toward the White House.

Mr. Sanders is being urged, in the interest of Democratic unity, to temper his assaults on Hillary Clinton as a pawn of Wall Street and servant of special interests—no easy matter for a lifelong ideologue of the far left. But no accusation transmits more of a sense of high moral indignation than the regular reminders that Mrs. Clinton voted for the Iraq war in 2002 and that he did not—a fact Mr. Sanders cites, by way of response, when facing questions about his qualifications for the presidency as compared with those of Mrs. Clinton.

To hear him again and again on Sen. Clinton’s war vote is to be struck by the unvarying intensity Mr. Sanders brings to the charge, the tone of a man delivering a bombshell, and one, for him, that never loses its power. His capacity to stay on message to the exclusion of all other concerns has been conspicuous throughout his campaign.

When news came in November that the topics for the Des Moines, Iowa, debate among the Democratic contenders would be reordered to include national security and terrorism, no one was taken aback. No one that is but the Sanders campaign, which made bitter protest to CBS, the debate host, over this sudden change in the agreed-on lineup of subjects. CONTINUE AT SITE

Trump and the First Stone There are many reasons to oppose Trump. But those aren’t the reasons being cited. By Victor Davis Hanson

Count the reasons to oppose Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. His conservative credentials are thin, recent, and often haphazard. His brash style will likely alienate more voters than it will attract. What he calls being “direct” translates as gratuitously mean-spirited, rude, and even cruel. His knowledge of the issues, at least in traditional terms or compared with that of his Republican rivals, varies from spotty to nonexistent. And Trump often, like Hillary Clinton (e.g., dodging bullets in the Balkans) or Barack Obama (cf. the mythoi of his “memoir”), seems to make up details about his long business career.

All that said, there are two strains of opposition to Trump that seem incoherent. First is the suggestion that the majority of his supporters, the “Trumpsters,” are deluded — the naïve fooled by a buffoon. The second is the suggestion that the Trump candidacy marks a new low in American politics, in terms of decency and competence.

Let us quickly dispense with the second writ. Trump is a reflection of, not a catalyst for, a dishonest age. To illustrate my point, take a few of our contemporary public figures who are running for office on their assumed superior character and ethics. There is no need to dwell on the inveterate dissembler Hillary Clinton, with her labyrinth of e-mail, Benghazi, Clinton Foundation, and Wall Street speaking-fees deceit. Bernie Sanders, the archetypal socialist, calls for the wealthy to pay exorbitant income-tax rates. Yet Sanders himself paid an effective rate of about 13 percent, after taking thousands of dollars of itemized deductions, including a mortgage-interest deduction on a second home — all legal, and all just the sort of self-interested tax planning routinely embraced by Americans in the upper brackets, whose resulting reduced taxes the socialist Sanders is on record as abhorring. In recent interviews, the supposedly cerebral Sanders proved himself a veritable dunce, clueless about the U.S. banking system, current U.S. financial statutes, and the basics of how the U.S. criminal- and civil-justice systems work. I suppose if he were Trump, Sanders would argue that he was too busy making “huge” profits to sweat such details, but what is Sanders’s excuse for being so ill-informed? That he was too occupied as a U.S. senator to learn anything about the nation’s banking and legal systems?

American Jewry Will No Longer Be the Center of the Jewish World : Elliott Abrams

In the 20th century the American Jewish community was the world’s largest and strongest, and helped establish and protect the Jewish state. The 21st century will be different.

In late fall 1940, as World War II raged in Europe and despite the parlous situation of the Jews in British-Mandate Palestine, their leader David Ben-Gurion spent three and a half months in the United States, returning again in November 1941 for a far longer stay of more than nine months. The wartime route from Palestine to the U.S. was lengthy and dangerous, but Ben-Gurion keenly understood not only the prime importance of relations with America but also the fact that the American Jewish community had now become the center of world Jewry.

Indeed, soon enough—and for decades to come—that same Jewish community, the world’s largest and strongest, would play a critical role in the establishment and subsequent support and protection of the first Jewish state in 2,000 years.

But that was the 20th century; the 21st will be different. That is the conclusion of my essay in Mosaic, “If American Jews and Israel are Drifting Apart, What’s the Reason?”

I’m grateful to Daniel Gordis, Martin Kramer, and Jack Wertheimerfor their kind words about the essay itself and especially for their thoughtful comments on its thesis. Taken together, those comments affirm but also broaden and deepen my argument.

All three of my respondents note the remarkable change in the relationship between Israel and American Jewry since 1948, some of which is due to sheer demographics. At the time of Israel’s founding, as Martin Kramer explains, its Jewish population was one-ninth the size of American Jewry, and was also largely poor and needy. Today, the population ratio is one to one, Israel’s economic situation has improved immeasurably, and its population is growing—even as our numbers in America are being reduced by low birth rates and intermarriage.

As Daniel Gordis puts it, “Israeli Jews have worked out a successful survival strategy,” while, by contrast, the “American Jewish survival strategy is struggling.” The trend lines are clear—which is why I suggested in my essay that we American Jews may end up needing what amounts to foreign aid, with the Israelis trying to rescue us, or anyway some of us, as best they can.