VICTOR SHARPE: THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS It is what Barack Obama didn’t say in his second Inaugural Address that was the most significant. He came close to turning his back on most of the world as he delivered a fiercely liberal and avowedly socialist vision of what he wants America to be. He said, “A decade of war is now […]

JONAH GOLDBERG: HILLARY CLINTON’S DODGY TESTIMONY A lot of people in Washington apparently forgot how good Hillary Clinton is at not telling the truth. Wednesday, in her testimony before the Senate and, later, the House, Clinton brilliantly fudged, dodged, and filibustered. Of course, she’s a pro. Clinton was slow-walking depositions, lawyering up, and shifting blame when many of her questioners […]


When the shah fled Iran, my newspaper colleagues and I actually thought we were covering a promising new era.

Only a few newspaper headlines become iconic, a story in their own right. The headline “Shah Raft”—”The Shah Has Left” in Persian—is one of those. It was printed on the front page of Iran’s two main daily newspapers, Kayhan and Ettelaat, on Jan. 16, 1979, after Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi left Tehran for good.

“Shah Raft” captured the victory of the revolution. It encapsulated history in the making. It ran in bold Persian letters, in size 84 font, across the top of the page. Over a million copies were printed. In Iranian journalism circles, the headline has sparked years of debate: Who wrote it? Who picked it? How did it come about?

This month marks 34 years since “Shah Raft” hit the press. I was a deputy editor at Kayhan at that time. Here is what I remember from the newsroom in Tehran that night.

Enlarge Image
Associated Press

More than a million supporters of an Islamic republic assembled around Shayad monument in Tehran.

All day on Jan. 16, Kayhan’s offices had been packed, buzzing. We’d brought a television set to the newsroom to watch the departure of the shah. The reporter assigned to the story was glued to the television in anticipation. His sleeves were rolled up. He was ready to write. Another reporter was at the Tehran airport reporting live from a payphone. There were no cellphones in those days. I was responsible for talking to the reporter and relaying his minute-by-minute dispatches to the copydesk.

The newsroom staff resembled a team of wandering spirits, proceeding from the television set, to the phone, to the editorial desk.

In our morning editorial meeting that day, we had discussed how we would handle the headline if the shah really did leave Iran. Would we use the shah’s name with the singular or plural form of the verb “to leave”? In Persian, a plural verb is often used with a singular noun to suggest utmost respect for the subject.

Until then, we had always been obliged to use the plural form of the verb when writing about the shah. But things were changing fast. Kayhan’s editor in chief, Rahman Hatefi, said at the meeting: “Once the shah leaves there is no coming back. He is as good as dead.”

That settled it. Worried about the possible repercussions of our coverage, we agreed with Ettelaat to use the same font and to go to press at the same time. Safety in numbers.

Still, our page designer was anxious. A political prisoner under the shah, he had dreamed of this day. He prepared the layout of “Shah Raft” in advance and kept it in his desk drawer. He paced around the newsroom, chain-smoking, sometimes walking over to my desk to put his hands on my shoulders. His eyes sparkled.

None of us knew then what we know now: Publishing the headline “Shah Raft” would spell the end of our careers. None of us knew that most of us would end up in jail, tortured and interrogated. We could have never known that out of 110 newsroom staff present that day, only one person would still be working at Kayhan today.

Around noon, I heard the reporter screaming on the phone. “Houshang, Houshang, the shah left!”

I couldn’t believe it. “Did you see with your own eyes?” I asked.

“I saw with my own eyes. The shah left. He left!”

I hung up the phone and screamed, “The shah left!”

BARBIE BOXER ALSO IN A SNIT…STORMS OUT OF BENGHAZI HEARINGS Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., told MSNBC’s Al Sharpton Wednesday night she was “infuriated” during Sen. Rand Paul’s questioning of Sec. Hillary Clinton and even left the hearing room. “When I heard him say those words, I walked out of the hearing room, and listened to him from behind the stage, because I was so […]

BEN WOLFGANG: FRACKING ON THE RISE GLOBALLY Fracking is going global. The U.S. energy industry clearly still leads the way on the revolutionary drilling method that has upended global energy markets, but the rest of the world is beginning to catch up as nations seek to replicate American success in oil and natural gas development. Taking the lead in Europe, Poland […]

MOSHE PHILLIPS: THE ISRAELI ELECTION….THE OTHER YAIR The Israeli election news that has captured the moment is the surprising success of Yair Lapid’s new party, Yesh Atid (There’s a Future), and the fact that it will now have the second-largest number of seats in the Knesset. What may be more interesting in the long term is the story missed by reporters […]


When US forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011, Hillary Clinton hailed the event as coinciding with the end of the jihadist era — sorry, “extremist narrative” era (she was still parroting Obama-approved lingo) — in the Middle East and North Africa, just where we see it resurgent today.

Hillary Clinton, May 2, 2011:

History will record that bin Ladin’s death came at a time of great movements toward freedom and democracy, at a time when the people across the Middle East and North Africa are rejecting the extremist narratives and charting a path of peaceful progress based on universal rights and aspirations. There is no better rebuke to al-Qaida and its heinous ideology.

Clinton’s statement crystallizes the Western delusion, which is also the Western desire. In May 2011, Clinton’s “freedom and democracy” — a.k.a., the even more euphemistic and inaptly metaphoric “Arab Spring” — were indeed moving across the Middle East and North Africa, but they were powered by the “extremist narratives” Clinton told us these Islamic lands were “rejecting.” This phenomenon is something Clinton, Obama, Sarkosy (Bernard Henri Levy), Cameron will never, can never admit. Their claim to authority and respect, their reputations, their careers, their future exercise of power are all threatened — doomed — by any reckoning, any admission of the purely Islamic will to sharia, to conquest, to a caliphate, which the postmodern, 21st-century world is witnessing, and which these leaders have done so much to enable (George W. Bush et pere, also).

Therefore, denial at this pinnacle of leadership will continue — denial of contradiction in sharia vs. freedom, denial of the Islamic definition of freedom or “hurriyya” ( perfect enslavement to Allah), denial of the wide appeal of the Muslim Brotherhood and other pro-sharia forces throughout the umma (transnational Islam). Denial of the neat alignment of the programs of Islamic terrorists (sharia), Islamic politicians (sharia) and Islamic “clerics” (sharia). Denial of the implications in the refusal, the inability of the leading lights of the Islamic world to “ex-communicate” even Osama bin Laden. Denial of the fact, historical and contemporary, that liberty disappears where Islam blooms.

Hillary’s, Condi’s, & W’s, Tony Blair’s the neoconservatives’, the COINdinistas’ “universal rights and aspirations” are a mirage, a dream. But these official dreamers continue to command armies and treasuries. (I don’t include Obama in their company because I don’t know whether Obama believes in their dreams with the same degree of gullibility/mendacity.) We can’t seem to rid ourselves of them, failing as a society to confront the basic fallacy: How can the rights and aspirations of a collectivist system (Islam) and an individual-rights-based system (the West) possibly be considered “universal”? They are different.


One day, I hope, Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi hearings will stand as testament to the smoke-and-mirrors dangerousness of U.S. foreign policy, circa 2013 – both as executed by the executive branch of government and as weakly grasped by the legislative branch.

Did we learn who in the Obama administration concocted and/or coordinated the story about a totally imaginary video protest that was supposed to have led to the attacks in Benghazi, Libya, on 9/11/12? No.

Did we learn why the maker of the so-called anti-Islamic YouTube video clip is the only person in the world in jail for the attacks (for “parole violations”)? No.

Did we learn whether it was coincidental that the video-protest lie ended after President Obama blamed the video (six times) in a Sept. 25 address before the United Nations in which he declared, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam”? No.

Did we learn anything about the decision-making process that prevented U.S. military relief from being ordered to Benghazi during the seven-hour attack? No.

Did we even learn about the official madness that permitted the U.S. government to hire jihadist militias – the February 17 Martyrs Brigade and Libya Shield – to secure U.S. lives and interests in the first place?

No, but we did learn that Secretary of State Clinton is now concerned about the “spreading jihadist threat.” This was unexpected news – not the existence of the threat, or the fact it’s spreading, but rather that Mrs. Clinton was using the word “jihadist.” What was that about?

The Obama administration has worked relentlessly to eradicate “jihad” – the word, anyway – by replacing it with the content-free and thus blinding term “violent extremism.” Besides, al-Qaida is dead along with Osama bin Laden, or so the Obama campaign has always told us (hence, one motive for White House lies to the American people that a video – free speech – caused the attacks in Benghazi, not terrorists). Did this lurch in lingo indicate a lurch in policy?

No question on that from the good people of Congress.

And why was Mrs. Clinton warning against allowing Mali, hot spot du jour, to become safe haven for AQIM (al-Qaida in the Maghreb)? It has become such a haven mainly due to Obama-Clinton policies that toppled “war on terror” ally Moammar Gadhafi in Libya. (“We came, we saw, he died,” as Clinton unforgettably gloated.) Clinton may be talking up “global jihad” this week, but it’s worth remembering that Gadhafi already was its opponent on the northern African front – at least until he was killed by U.S.-backed, al Qaida-linked Libyan “rebels.”

How does she square all of that? No questions. Such curiosity, a call for accountability, might expose the Arab Spring, which all too many Democrats and Republicans supported, thus enabling regimes or democracies guided by Islamic law to take power across the Middle East. As far as American liberty goes, what’s the difference between governments guided by Islamic law and global jihadists guided by the same Islamic law? Answer: not much. If Congress were to consider such a concept – that Islamic law is dangerous, whether advanced by terrorists or governments – the potential for clarity and creation of a policy in the American interest would become simply too dangerous to contemplate. Dangerous, that is, for the status quo. Maybe that’s why lawmakers, with rare but welcome exceptions, stuck to the unrevealing nuts and bolts of “security.”

Still, if they were so worried about security at the Benghazi compound, couldn’t someone have asked Clinton why the suspected head of al-Qaida in Libya, Wissam bin Hamid, leader of Libya Shield, a militia that fought Gadhafi under al-Qaida’s black flag, was one of the U.S. compound’s security providers?

Our Abraham, Not Theirs

Inheriting Abraham, by Jon Levenson, expertly dismantles the idea of the patriarch as the father of three great religions

We like to think that mutual understanding promotes tolerance. But sometimes we hate people because we understand them. Martin Luther’s exhaustive study of rabbinic commentaries as well as Hebrew scripture did not prevent him from proposing the destruction of every Jewish home along with every synagogue. Adolf Eichmann hoped to study Hebrew with a Berlin rabbi, the better to understand the people he planned to exterminate.

In Inheriting Abraham, Jon Levenson, the Albert A. List Professor of Bible at Harvard’s Divinity School, throws cold water on the mutual-understanding campfire. Misunderstanding is not what divides the image of Abraham in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the misnomered “Abrahamic religions”; on the contrary, the founders of the younger religions well understood Abraham’s role in Judaism. St. Paul’s transformation of Abraham into the father of all who believe, and the Quran’s recasting of Abraham as a Muslim prophet who prefigured Muhammed, both rejected the Jewish version by design, by inventing their own Abrahams to serve their own doctrinal purposes.

Through published excerpts and interviews, Levenson has been drawing attention to his most provocative conclusion: that it is wrong to present Abraham as a unifying figure who transcends the differences among Christians, Jews, and Muslims. The progressive wings of Christianity as well as Judaism have a great deal invested in this reassuring claim, and Levenson’s devastating refutation of the “three Abraham religions” thesis will be unwelcome. He makes short work of pop theologians like Bruce Feiler, whose best-selling book on the patriarch claims that “Abraham belongs to all of humanity” and that “the carefully balanced message of the Abraham story [is] that God cares for all his children—a tradition that existed for hundreds of years before the religions themselves existed.” Feiler and his co-thinkers, Levenson observes, have essentially invented another Abraham—“a neutral Abraham who can be made to serve as a control on the Abrahams of the three traditions that are thought to derive from him.”

So, it is clear that Levenson’s new book will be resented in liberal religious circles. What it won’t be, however, is easily refuted.


Why should Abraham belong to all of humanity? For Jews and Christians, the answer lies in paternity and covenant: Abraham is the father of God’s people, through his son Isaac in Judaism, and for Christians, through the faith of those who belief in Jesus’ resurrection. Christianity’s departure from Judaism is an argument about lineage and legitimacy. The Abraham of Genesis, as Levenson notes, never preaches monotheism. The Abraham who smashed the idols in his father’s workshop appears in Second Temple sources, and that is the Abraham of the Quran: the prophet of monotheism who prefigures Muhammed. Abraham’s definitive act for Christians and Jews, his obedience to God’s command to sacrifice Isaac, is simply a prooftest of submission for Muslims, who are instructed by Muhammed as prefigured by Abraham.

Le Monde: “The Muslim Religion is the Subject of a Profound Rejection by the French”….Andrew Bostom Gamal al-Banna’s impression, shared by an unhappy French public: “most Muslims today are Salafis” Yesterday (1/24/13), Le Monde (hat tip Religion of Peace) published IPSOS survey results of French public attitudes towards Islam under the self-explanatory headline, “La religion musulmane fait l’objet d’un profond rejet de la part des Français” [“The Muslim religion is […]