France: “Jihad by Court” by Yves Mamou

The goal of this trial is to create judicial precedent: to ensure that in the future, any criticism or insult against Islamism must be considered “racism”.

Valentina Colombo, a professor at the European University in Rome, warned early on about jihad by court. In 2009, she wrote that, “The lawsuit that was initiated by The Union of the Islamic Organizations of France and the Great Mosque of Paris against the satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’ for republishing the Danish cartoons about Muhammad is one of the most recent examples of this kind of jihad.” But nobody paid attention to the warning. And when jihadists came in 2015 to murder eight journalists and cartoonists, nobody understood that “jihad by court” is only the first step.

“Legal action has become a mainstay of radical Islamist organizations seeking to intimidate and silence their critics.” — Steven Emerson, Founder and President of The Investigative Project on Terrorism.

A silent jihad is under way in France. Spread by a constellation of Muslim organizations allied to powerful (non-Muslim) “anti-racist” associations, “jihad by court” is attacking freedom of press, and freedom of speech. Any journalist, politician, lawyer or intellectual who talks or writes either about Islam or some of its representatives in a critical way, is at risk of being taken to court for “racism” or “outraging a group of people because of their religion.”

The so-called “jihad by court” began in an experimental way in France at the beginning of the century. In 2002, the famous French writer Michel Houellebecq was sued for “incitement to hatred” by Islamic organizations allied to the Ligue des droits de l’Homme, (“Human Rights League”), a prestigious “anti-racist” organization. Houellebecq was sued for having said in an interview with Lire magazine that, “of all existing religions, Islam is the dumbest. We read the Coran, we all collapse.” Houellebecq was acquitted.

In 2007, a similar lawsuit was initiated by the Union of the Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF) and the Great Mosque of Paris against the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, because it republished the Danish Muhammad cartoons. The plaintiffs accused Charlie Hebdo of “racism”. Charlie Hebdo was acquitted. In 2011, unknown arsonists burned Charlie Hebdo’s offices. The magazine was sued again in 2012 and in 2013. Each time, the plaintiffs were different Muslim organizations claiming different instances of “racism” or “blasphemy”. January 7, 2015, two Muslim terrorists stormed into the offices of Charlie Hebdo and murdered 12 people.

Two years after that, jihad by court is everywhere.
Against Intellectuals and Journalists

Éric Zemmour, a writer and journalist, was sued in February 2011 for “racial incitement”. He said on television that “most dealers are blacks and Arabs. That is a fact”. He was fined €2,000. In May 2012, Zemmour was sued for defamation by Patrick Lozes, president of Council of Black Associations (CRAN). Zemmour had written in 2008: “Patrick Lozes said ‘Obama is our president’, which proves that for him, racial solidarity is superior in his enamored eyes than national solidarity”. Zemmour was acquitted.

In 2014, Zemmour was sued again because he said, “The Normans, the Huns, Arabs, the great invasions after the fall of Rome are now replaced by gangs of Chechens, Roma, Kosovars, North Africans, Africans, who rob, abuse or strip your belongings.” He was released in September 2015. The appeals court reconfirmed his release in 2016.

In December 2015, Zemmour was again fined €3,000 because he had declared to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera that the “deportation” of five million French Muslim seems “unrealistic”, but is comparable to “the five or six million Germans who had to leave eastern Europe after World War II”. Zemmour succeeded in proving that the word “deportation” was added by Corriere della Sera, but the judge did not take that into consideration, and Zemmour’s conviction was reaffirmed after an appeal in November 2016.

In June 2017, Zemmour was fined €5,000 after saying on television in September 2016, that “jihadists were considered by all Muslims, good Muslims.” The plaintiff was a pro-Palestinian association, CAPJPO-EuroPa­les­tine.

Pascal Bruckner, an author and essayist, was sued in December 2015, by the Islamic, “left-wing” associations, Les Indivisibles and Les Indigenes de la République. Bruckner had said on television that the plaintiffs had “ideologically justified the murder of Charlie Hebdo’s journalists”. Bruckner was acquitted in 2016.

In January 2017, all “anti-racist” associations and the Islamist CCIF (Collective Against Islamophobia) sued Georges Bensoussan — an award-winning Jewish French historian, born and raised in Morocco — for racism. He had said on the radio that “in France, in Arab families… anti-Semitism is imbibed with one’s mother’s milk.” He was acquitted, but the prosecutor has filed an appeal.
Against the “Fachosphère”

The fachosphère (combination of “fascist” and “sphere”) is the term that the mainstream media are now calling a collection of websites — such as the Riposte Laïque, Resistance Republicaine and many others — that warn of the dangers of being overrun by radical Islam. Between 2012 and 2017, Riposte Laïque alone was sued “no fewer than 43 times” its editor-in-chief, Pierre Cassen, told Gatestone. This time, the plaintiffs were not only “anti-racist” associations (LDH, SOS-Racisme, le MRAP, la LICRA and Islamist CCIF) — but also the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo; former Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, and various Islamic associations such as L’Aube du Savoir (“Sunrise of Knowledge”), journalists from the mainstream media (Libération, Le Monde), the Ligue de Défense Judiciaire des Musulmans (“Muslim Judicial Defense League”). These libel and racism suits asked for fines from €5,000 to €40,000.
Against Officials

On March 30, 2016, Laurence Rossignol, then Minister of Families, Children and Women’s Rights and known to be a fierce critic of the omnipresence of the Islamic veil in public places, was interviewed by the radio station RMC. She compared veiled women to “American negroes [“nègres américains”] who supported slavery”. Rossignol apologized for using “negroes”, but possibly too late. The Islamist Collectif Contre L’islamophobie en France (CCIF) and the Frantz Fanon Foundation launched a class action suit for “insult of a racial nature” and announced their intention to submit a complaint to the Cour de Justice de la République, a court empowered to adjudicate lawsuits against members of the government. The plaintiffs also threatened to sue the minister appointed to the Correctional Court and the Administrative Court of Paris.

Indo-Israeli Ties: New Heights by Jagdish N. Singh

“The time has come to bring together countries to fight against the enemies of Israel…. Israel never needs to fear that they are only seven or eight million people standing against 150 million Arabs. They have 1.2 billion Indians backing them.” — Subramanian Swamy, Indian parliamentarian.

Historically, relations between India and Israel, with a few exceptions, have been warm. In January 1992, then Indian Prime Minister P. V, Narsimha Rao established full diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. Since then, economic, technological, military and diplomatic relations between New Delhi and Jerusalem have moved from strength to strength.

During the last few years Jerusalem has sold to New Delhi advanced military equipment.[1]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit (July 4-6) to Israel was the first by a prime minister of India to the Jewish state. After the meeting between Modi and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, India and Israel signed seven agreements in the fields of water, agriculture, and space, including a $40 million joint fund for research and development in innovation. Netanyahu and Modi also upgraded the current bilateral relationship to a “strategic partnership,” and agreed that “strong measures must be taken against terrorists, terror organisations, their networks and all those who encourage, support and finance terrorism, or provide sanctuary to terrorists and terror groups.” Netanyahu said the India-Israel relationship today could be described as “I-square T-square”—that is “Indian Talent and Israeli Technology.”

Modi held a meeting with CEOs of various companies, leading to the signing of agreements worth about $4.3 billion between the participating companies. The forum intends to take current bilateral trade of about $4-5 billion to $20 billion in five years. High-tech Israeli companies produce robotic waterless cleaners for solar panels and portable desalination units, which could help India solve its water and energy crises.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend an Israel-India innovation exhibition, on July 6, 2017. (Image source: Kobi Gideon, Israel Government Press Office)

Indian and Israeli companies entered into agreements to bid jointly for defence contracts for the Indian military and locally build the systems under “Made in India.” India and Israel also agreed to increase their air linkages, with Air India expected to commence flights to Tel Aviv.

Both nations face several common threats, including radical Islamist terrorism. Both nations have faced major conventional wars with their neighbours and continue to experience low‐intensity conflict. And both are confronted with weapons of mass destruction in the hands of their rivals — real and potential.

Israel has been a time-tested ally of India in combating all kinds of threats to its security. New Delhi, too, must be sensitive to Jerusalem’s security. The Jewish state’s existence has been under threat from radical Islamist forces in the region. Threats by Iran, with the its growing nuclear potential, to annihilate the Jewish state cannot be overlooked.

The Moroccan War Against Jihad King Mohammed cannot and will not yield. Herbert London

Despite various social tensions in his country, Morocco’s King Mohammed VI called for reform of Islam similar to the contention of Egyptian president al Sisi on New Year’s Day 2015.The pro-American Moroccan monarch said he wants to rein in the pernicious Islamic doctrine of Jihad.

According to Moroccan authorities more than 1600 Moroccans have joined jihadists in Syria, Libya and Iraq and 200 to 240 of that number have returned either to Morocco or European countries. So alarming is the trend that the Kingdom has embarked on a special education program aimed at neutralizing extremist interpretations of the Koran, specifically mention of jihad.

The fact is radical groups in the northern part of the Kingdom have increased tension and unrest and the regime seems unable to control the situation. Some analysts have compared the situation to the southern Tunisian town where a false claim was made against a vender selling fruits and vegetables. Ultimately this street peddler poured kerosene on himself setting himself ablaze. This was the beginning of what was termed “the Arab Spring.” Surely history never reproduces itself exactly, but Morocco’s leadership has taken notice nonetheless.

Morocco survived the political tsunami by adopting a series of liberal laws designed to neutralize unrest while pursuing a hard policy against Muslim extremists. Nevertheless, an unemployed telephone technician, Nasser Zefzafi has led a protest movement called “Hirak” against the central government that has gained traction. Moroccan authorities maintain Zefzafi and his followers have been manipulated by jihadist activists to destabilize the government. Since his arrest, protests have been held around the country and even in European capitals.

Morocco has had a history of challenges in its northern region invariably curtailed with merciless repression. The challenges have only increased since the millennium with jihadists, ISIS and al Qaeda all trying to destabilize the government. There are at least 132 terrorist cells in the country according to the Moroccan secret police and 2720 terrorists arrested.

According to King Mohammed in his most recent public commentary: “Those who incite murder and who use the Koran and the Sunna for their goals are but generating lies… All Muslims, Christians and Jews should create a joint front to stand against fanaticism, hatred and the proliferation of ignorance spread in the name of religion.”

It is clear King Mohammed cannot and will not yield to the threat of Islamic extremism. He is obliged to subdue the radical elements and take whatever measures are necessary to prevent the interaction between jihadist organizations within the country and radical forces outside his national borders.

Calling for reforms is one thing – and a desirable thing – but adopting those measures needed to destroy the enemy are something else again, something indispensable in the war against jihadism.

Trump’s War on the Big Boss of Fake News How CNN took on President Trump and lost. Daniel Greenfield

When CNN brought in Jeff Zucker, it wasn’t for his journalistic acumen. Zucker was best known for his work on the Today Show. After billions in losses at NBC, his new Comcast bosses wanted him gone.

CNN and Zucker were perfect for each other. Both were sinking ships looking for an easy way out.

Zucker’s plan for CNN was simple. Get out of the news business.

Or as he put it, “news is how you define it.” Fake, real; it’s all a matter of definition. And Zucker was going to “broaden” the definition of what news is. And the definition was reality shows.

CNN was going to edge away from the news business under its new boss of fake reality television.

Zucker’s plan made sense at the time. MSNBC had the lefty demographic locked up and FOX News spoke to the right. CNN wasn’t going to compete with them. And it wasn’t going to do “vanilla” reporting. Instead it would jump into the reality dogpile. Food shows. Edgy documentaries. “More shows and less newscasts.” If there had to be news, Zucker wanted it to have an “an attitude and a take.”

Before President Trump called out CNN as fake news, its new boss had already turned it into fake news.

But that was a different world. Obama was in the White House. Hillary was going to succeed him. Nothing interesting was going to happen in the world of politics. CNN could just focus on infotainment.

And then Trump emerged and everything changed. Suddenly CNN was going to have to do news again and Zucker, the gimmick guy who had bet big on reality shows on NBC and then on CNN, was completely out of his depth. He understood entertainment, but he didn’t have the faintest clue about journalism.

In the summer of ’16, he had ridiculed BuzzFeed as not being a real news organization. That gave BuzzFeed a whole lot in common with CNN. By October, he had hired on Andrew Kaczynski and his BuzzFeed team of trolls. And it’s that team of trolls that is now at the center of CNN’s latest scandal.

CNN had already lost 3 reporters from its investigative unit over a fake news Trump-Russia hit piece. Instead of enmeshing President Trump in scandals, its investigative unit is deeply enmeshed in scandal.

Zucker was not a journalism guy, but he understood numbers. He lived and died by them. His philosophy at CNN was to stay on anything that its viewers were watching whether it was a missing Malaysian plane or Trump. CNN’s old strategy of “flooding the zone” with meaningless non-coverage of a breaking event was merged with Zucker’s own preference for reality television to create a constant coverage circus.

Hiring a ton of reporters from across the spectrum, from a New York Times Pulitzer Prize winner to the BuzzFeed trolls, would flood the zone with Trump scandals. CNN would have the most Trump scandals and the most viewers. It was a great strategy for manufacturing a whole bunch of fake news scandals.

If we aren’t indifferent to Hezbollah’s expansion of its capabilities, what are we planning to do about it? Caroline Glick

Last month IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Herzl Halevi made a stunning revelation. Hezbollah and Iran are transforming the terrorist group into a military force capable of independently producing its own precision weapons.

Speaking at the Herzliya Conference, Halevi reported, “We are seeing Hezbollah building a domestic military industry on Lebanese soil based on Iranian know-how. Hezbollah is producing weapons systems and transporting them to southern Lebanon.”

Halevi added, “Over the past year, Iran is working to establish infrastructure for the independent production of precision weapons in Lebanon and Yemen. We cannot be indifferent to this development. And we aren’t.”

Not only is Hezbollah building a missile industry. It is deploying its forces directly across the border with Israel – in material breach of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 from 2006, which set the terms of the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah at the end of the Second Lebanon War.

Under the terms of 1701, Hezbollah is prohibited from operating south of the Litani River. Only the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and UNIFIL – the UN’s peacekeeping force – are supposed to be deployed in southern Lebanon.

According to Halevi, operating under the cover of a phony environmental NGO called “Green Without Borders,” Hezbollah has set up observation posts manned with its fighters along the border with Israel.

In Halevi’s words, with these posts, “Hezbollah is now able to operate a stone’s throw from the border.”

In a media briefing on Sunday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman discussed Halevi’s revelations. Liberman said that the security community “is absolutely aware [of the missile plants] and is taking the necessary action.”

“This is a significant phenomenon,” Liberman warned. “We must under no circumstances ignore it.”

Perhaps in a jab at his predecessor, Moshe Ya’alon, who years ago argued notoriously that Hezbollah’s missiles would “rust” in their storage facilities, perhaps in warning to Hezbollah, Liberman added, “The factories won’t rust and the missiles won’t rust.”

So if we aren’t indifferent to Hezbollah’s expansion of its capabilities, what are we planning to do about it?

Whatever answer the IDF decides upon, Israel is already taking diplomatic steps to prepare for the next round – whoever opens it.

Last month Israel filed a formal complaint with the UN Security Council against Hezbollah for setting up observation towers along the border and manning them with its fighters.

Not surprisingly, UNIFIL and the Security Council rejected Israel’s complaint. Ever since six UNIFIL soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb in 2007, UNIFIL has turned a blind eye to all of Hezbollah’s operations in southern Lebanon. As to the strike for which the complaint to the Security Council began setting the conditions, what purpose would it serve?

In a future war, Israel shouldn’t aspire, for instance, to destroy Hezbollah as a fighting force. The goal, in my opinion, should be to destroy or neutralize as much of Hezbollah’s missile arsenal and its missile assembly plants as possible. If possible, Israel should also seek to destroy Hezbollah’s tunnel infrastructure along its border.

The first question is whether the threat justifies action. The answer, in my opinion, is clear enough. Over the past 11 years, Hezbollah’s missile arsenal has become an unacceptable and ever-growing strategic threat to Israel. Whereas in 2006 Hezbollah’s missile arsenal numbered some 15,000 rockets, today it fields approximately 150,000.

In 2006, at the height of its missile offensive against Israel, Hezbollah lobbed some 120 missiles a day at Israeli territory. Today it can shoot some 1,000 to 1,200 missile a day at Israel.

And it isn’t only the quantity of missiles that make them an insufferable threat. It’s also their quality. Whereas in 2006 Hezbollah attacked Israel with imprecise projectiles with low payloads, today Hezbollah reportedly fields precision guided, long-range missiles like the Yakhont and Fatah-110.

The Yakhont missiles can imperil Israel’s interests in the Mediterranean, including its offshore natural gas installations. The Fatah-110s, with a range of some 300 kilometers, threaten metropolitan Tel Aviv and key military installations. Both missile types are capable of carrying payloads of hundreds of kilograms of explosives.

To be sure, in the 11 years since the Second Lebanon War Israel has also massively upgraded its military capabilities. Last week air force chief Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel said the force today can inflict a level of damage on Hezbollah in two days that it took it weeks to inflict in 2006.

The question is not whether Israel has the ability to respond to a Hezbollah assault. Given the lethality of Hezbollah’s arsenal, it would be reckless to assume that Israel can easily absorb an opening volley of missiles.

But battle losses aren’t the only consideration Israel needs to take into account. For instance, there is the US. How would the US respond to a war?

Trump Defends the West While critics display their embarrassing ignorance of history. Bruce Thornton

President Trump’s ringing defense of Western civilization during his speech in Poland was a welcome answer to the phony cultural relativism, fashionable self-loathing, and smug hypocrisy of leftist Westerners who bash the West but wouldn’t live anywhere else. So it’s no surprise that the progressive establishment bashed the speech as “racial and religious paranoia,” as one screed in the Atlantic was titled.

That headline, and the essays’ claim that “the West is a racial and religious term” and a dog-whistle for alt-right racists, bespeak a profound ignorance about what defines the West. The core ideas of the West began in the city states of ancient Greece, then for centuries were further elaborated by the Romans before Christianity existed. Most important of these ideas was the notion of citizenship, the belief that the laws and customs comprising the political order were a collective possession of free and equal citizens, not of a king or elite defined by birth and lording over subjects. Power no longer belonged to men, to be used to further their personal status or wealth or ambitions. Power became abstract, embodied in the laws, offices, and electoral procedures used by citizens to make the decisions about who should use power, and for what power should be used.

The principle that power resides in laws, not men, was the foundation stone of our own Constitution and every subsequent political order that vests power in free citizens. And this order exists to ensure and protect political freedom and equality, ideas likewise born in ancient Greece and found only in the West or its imitators.

Thus the other uniquely Western goods that Trump touched on came into existence to protect that unprecedented invention of citizenship and consensual rule. Free speech, for example, the ability of citizens to discuss and deliberate openly without fear of retribution, arose among the ancient Greeks, who had two words for free speech. Search the ancient empires contemporary with the Greeks and you will not find anywhere the ideas of free speech, or constitutional government, or politics, or citizenship, or words expressing each. You will find only power: rule by coercion and force.

The other defining idea is critical consciousness: the freedom and inclination to question and examine everything, from the gods to nature to one’s own political-social order. Examining nature and trying to understand it apart from traditional myths, and by relying on reason and empirical evidence, sowed the seeds of modern science. An astonishing example of this new drive to know and understand without reliance only on tradition or religion can be found in the Hippocratic corpus of ancient writings on medicine. In a book on epilepsy, known in antiquity as the “sacred disease,” the author writes: “It is not, in my opinion, any more divine or more sacred than other diseases, but has a natural cause, and its supposed divine origin is due to men’s inexperience, and to their wonder at its peculiar character.” That sentence could be the motto of modern science and medicine alike.

Daryl McCann Trump vs. Obama in the Middle East

On climate change and other issues, Donald Trump has departed the G20 summit at odds with much of the world. That was to be expected, given his compliant predecessor is much missed by Merkel & Co. Nowhere are the two presidents’ differences greater than in the Middle East.

Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump began their presidencies with outreach to the Islamic world—and that, with one exception, is where the similarities between their respective Middle East doctrines begin and end. President Obama’s June 4, 2009, Cairo speech, delivered at Al-Azhar University, can be read as the manifesto for a post-America world. President Trump’s May 22, 2017, Riyadh speech, in startling contrast, was an unapologetic exposition of his America First creed.

The insinuation, in some quarters, remains that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim and perhaps even a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, the activist Salafists who aim to destroy the West from within using the strategy of “civilisational jihad”. Key political Islamic organisations in the United States, including the Council of American-Islamic Relations, are impenitent affiliates of the transnational Muslim Brotherhood movement. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, in the form of Mohamed Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party, ruled the country from June 2012 to July 2013. Activist Salafism and Salafi jihadism (Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, Boko Haram, Jemaah Islamiyah, and so on) are not one and the same but they are first cousins. Embracing the views of Sayyid Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood scholar who argued for the restitution of an Islamic state in Egypt and throughout Dar al-Islam, might not automatically turn a Muslim into a terrorist but it does encourage an apposite degree of contempt for the kafir (disbeliever).

Almost completely unreported at the time of the December 2, 2015, San Bernardino massacre was the fact that the husband-and-wife terrorists, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were aficionados of the works of Sayyid Qutb. The homicidal duo posted on Facebook their allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State before murdering fourteen Americans and wounding another twenty-two at a work-related Christmas luncheon. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton responded to the slaughter-fest by intoning against the laxity of America’s “gun safety laws”. Presidential candidate Donald Trump, on the other hand, made an explicit connection between a certain kind of modern-day Muslim and terrorism: “I would close up our borders to people until we figure out what’s going on … We don’t learn … The whole thing gets worse as time goes by.” President Obama, to be fair, upgraded his erstwhile depiction of Islamic terrorism from “workplace violence”—à la the 2014 Fort Hood Massacre—to “larger notions of violent jihad”. Whew! Barack Hussein Obama, the apotheosis of modern-day chic, was prepared, at last, to make a connection, however indirectly, between the “religion of peace” and the murder of the innocent.

But it was not always so. President Obama’s Cairo Address could almost have been written by a Muslim Brotherhood scribe, blaming as he did the anti-West “tensions” in the Muslim world on European colonialism and Cold War machinations that treated Muslim-majority countries as “proxies without regard to their own aspirations”. Additionally, American-style “modernity and globalisation” caused “many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam”. The only thing omitted from his mea culpa was Christendom’s involvement in the Crusades. It was, naturally, Islam that paved the way “for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment”. That said, Obama singled out the likes of Al Qaeda for censure, but even then he tacitly blamed 9/11 on the West itself for creating the “tensions” that “violent extremists” in the Muslim world were able to exploit.

The Corruption of Biblical Studies Academic scrutiny of scripture, a discipline prey to intellectual fashion since its inception, is today pursued by many in the service of secular liberal positions. by Joshua Berman

In the 2017 edition of The State of the Bible, its annual survey, the American Bible Society reports that more than half of all Americans who regularly read the Bible now search for related material on the Internet. This shift in how the faithful learn about scripture has resulted in unprecedented public exposure to one particular kind of Bible study—namely, the academic kind. Major websites now offer the latest that scholars have to say about the Bible—its authorship, its historical accuracy, its proper interpretation—and those websites attract hundreds of thousands of unique visitors each month. In an age when interest in the humanities is generally waning, the department of biblical studies is providing enrichment to what has become the most popular online branch of the liberal arts.

This is surely a blessed development. Men and women of good faith engage with these study materials in pursuit of that purest religious ideal: the truth. In doing so, moreover, they fully recognize that academic researchers ask important questions and often offer compelling answers by drawing on resources and insights unavailable through denominational venues. For many users, these answers and insights do not merely supplement but may also challenge the traditional Jewish and Christian teachings in which they have been brought up. So the interest in academic scholarship of the Bible increases—and with it the authority of the scholars purveying it. As a Jewish day-school teacher recently put it to me: “Often, I find that students might not be so well informed about the meaning of a scientific or archaeological claim­­; it’s enough that many academics holding respected titles have advanced a certain way of understanding something.” In today’s climate, the university biblicist, even before he or she speaks, enjoys a deep line of credit.

For Jews in particular, nothing in biblical studies draws so keen an interest as the issue of the origins of the Torah: the Five Books of Moses, or Pentateuch. The scholarly pursuit of the Torah’s putative sources and how they evolved into the text we have today is referred to in the academy as “source criticism”: the discipline’s oldest sub-field and still its largest. And source criticism of the Torah is also front-and-center in the Jewish public eye.

Over the past fifteen years alone, four major projects by Jewish scholars have showcased the methods and achievements of source criticism. I have in mind two books, How to Read the Bible by James Kugel and Richard Elliott Friedman’s The Bible with Sources Revealed; the section on the Pentateuch in the JPS Study Bible; and, most recently, the website, which is explicitly devoted to “integrating the study of Torah with the disciplines and findings of academic biblical scholarship.”

How did source criticism arrive at this state? And why has the crisis engendered no change whatsoever in how its practitioners go about their work? In both cases, the answer has little to do with the individual personalities of the scholars involved. Rather, the fatal inability of the discipline to self-correct is rooted in the field’s origins, and is perpetuated by a species of denial.

To be sure, biblicists are not alone here. Similarly disorienting symptoms have afflicted other areas of scholarly inquiry, especially in fields with semi- or quasi-scientific pretensions. A recent example is the stunned reaction among economists in the wake of the 2008 financial implosion, a disaster that so many of them failed to see coming and got so wrong. One outspoken member of the guild, the Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, suggested afterward that his fellow economists had been led astray by their professional “desire for an all-encompassing, intellectually elegant approach that also gave economists a chance to show off their mathematical prowess.” Thereby, to use Krugman’s own puffed-up terms, the profession “mistook beauty for truth.” If, he concluded, the guild of economists was ever to “redeem itself, . . . it will have to reconcile itself to a less alluring vision” and, above all, “learn to live with messiness.”

Of course, to admit that the economic world is messy is essentially to admit defeat in the long-fought battle to win for economics the status of a science with the power not only to study the past but, crucially, to predict economic performance in the future. And that offers another point of analogy with the predicament of biblical source-critics in their elusive search for the sources of the Pentateuch. In positing the date of a text and the stages of its composition, source critics strive to create an elegant narrative of its history and therefore of the evolution of religious ideas in ancient Israel. For many, this elegance has become a badge of their intellectual identity.

But biblicists, too, are prone to mistaking beauty for truth. The real, harder truth is that the enterprise of dating biblical texts and their stages of growth is messy, much messier than they would like to admit. And the larger truth is that we actually have limited access to the minds and hearts of the scribes of ancient Israel and cannot know the full range of motivations that drove them to compose the texts they did. What may look to our eyes as, for instance, an unresolved inconsistency between two passages may not have bothered the ancients at all.
Few biblical source critics have reached the necessary conclusion from the crisis in their field: that the precursors of the received text—their holy grail—simply may not be recoverable.

Consider historical inscriptions left us by Ramesses the Great, who ruled Egypt in the 13th century BCE. To commemorate his greatest achievement, a victory over his arch-enemies the Hittite Empire at the battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE, Ramesses inscribed three mutually exclusive and contradictory reports, one right next to the other, each serving a distinct rhetorical purpose, on monumental sites all across Egypt. (The longest is full of internal contradictions as well.) This practice is wholly foreign to modern writers, and far from intuitive. Literary conventions are culture-specific.

The Mennonites Divest The mask falls off “anti-Zionism.” Jonathan Marks

The 75,000 strong Mennonite Church-USA has joined a few other church organizations in voting to divest from companies “profiting from the occupation.” They seem rather proud of themselves for having chosen a “third way.”

What this means in the resolution’s terms is that the Mennonites will admit complicity in anti-Semitism and also admit complicity in Israel’s activities in the West Bank. They will form committees to navel-gaze concerning the first problem and single out Israel for economic punishment to deal with the second.

What’s shocking about this resolution, which Church leaders boast is the work of two years of study, is that it treats anti-Semitism and Israel’s presence in the West Bank as equivalent crimes. The Mennonites will resolve to avoid both! Although the drafters of the resolution acknowledged that “Palestinians have turned to violence,” they have evidently done so only to “achieve security” and “seek their freedom.” In spite of the resolution’s hand-wringing concerning anti-Semitism, there is not a word about Palestinian anti-Semitism and the role it has played in frustrating peace efforts in the region.

Nor are these peace efforts the subject of any reflection in the resolution. As far as the drafters are concerned, the Israelis marched into the West Bank in 1967—who can say why?—and have doggedly continued there, even though they could easily withdraw. The resolution recognizes that Israelis “feel threatened” but not that they actually are threatened. Indeed, that Israelis feel threatened is treated as evidence that security walls and other measures Israelis have taken for their security have been useless. It is hard to believe that intelligent and well-meaning people justify serious actions on so flimsy a basis, as if the ongoing need for security suggests that one ought to lay down one’s arms. But the Mennonite Church takes no risk, so they can afford to be frivolous about serious matters.

Apart from singling out the Jewish state for singular punishment, the Mennonites are studiously neutral. Somehow in their years of study, they missed that the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement endorsed in 2015 an “ongoing, youth-led Palestinian uprising” whose weapon of choice at that time was the knife. There can be no excuse for not knowing this and therefore no excuse for simply noting, concerning BDS that “there are vigorous critics of BDS who raise a range of concerns” as well as groups who “support BDS as a nonviolent alternative to violent liberation efforts.”

Of course, some of those critics point out that BDS has at best cheered on anti-Semitism. But the Mennonites, though they are in bed with BDS-supporting Jewish Voice for Peace, see no need to get to the bottom of it. Their affectation of neutrality here means that they simply don’t care about the consequences of working hand-in-glove with a movement that, while it claims to be nonviolent, iseffectively the propaganda wing of the violent “resistance.”

The Mennonites also studiously avoid taking a position on whether a majority Jewish state should exist at all. On the matter of a “two-state” or “one-state” solution—the latter of which means that Jews will be a minority everywhere in the world—that should be left up to “Israeli and Palestinian people.” Sure, the end of the Jewish state in the Middle East would leave Jews defenseless in a region teeming with anti-Semitism, but not to worry. The Mennonites have already “raised seed money and initiated plans for several conferences in the next biennium on topics including Mennonite involvement in the Holocaust and how we read scripture in light of the Holocaust.” They will make up for their blithe indifference to the fate of Jews today by conferencing, and maybe even shedding a few golden tears, about the fate of Jews last century.

The resolution has called “on Mennonites to cultivate relationships with Jewish representatives and bodies in the U.S.” I will leave it to knowers of the Torah to say whether we are required to associate with a small group of morally obtuse, self-righteous preeners. But if it were left up to me, I would tell them to go to hell.

FACT CHECK: 94 Percent of U.S. Terrorism Fatalities Are Caused by Islamic Terrorists By Patrick Poole

Fake statistics die as hard as fake news.

This is especially true when statistics are used to reinforce entrenched positions during highly charged political debates.

One particular false statistic — even under the most charitable reading of the data, it’s highly misleading — is trotted out after virtually every major terrorist attack in order to claim that Islamic terrorism is a big nothingburger.

I’ve had to deal with various incarnations of this here before:

It goes something like this:

94% of all terror attacks are committed by non-Muslims

Another version:

Only 6% of terror attacks in the U.S. are by Muslims

And yet another (one that is flatly false, because the data cited is never broken out by sex or race) says:

94% of terror attacks are committed by white men

The data behind this statistic comes from the FBI’s Terrorism 2002-2005 report. You can find it on the FBI’s website here.

First thing to consider when you see this statistic bandied about: realize the data is more than a decade old.

Including the data from 2006-present will give very different results (results that purveyors of these claims may not like), but since this is the data set they choose to use, I will use their preferred source.

Second, note that this statistic is counting “incidents.” The data ends up being portrayed like this:The problem with using this standard of measure is that it is basically useless. An ecoterrorist mailbox bomb that doesn’t injure or kill anyone is given the exact same weight as the Oklahoma City bombing or the 9/11 attacks. So how does measuring terrorism in this way tell you anything important?