Monday, February 01, 2016

Nationalist Muslims: Antidote to Islamists?

Most Muslim-majority nations are stitched together nations; that is, forced marriages of several other peoples with independent and even conflicting existences.  Most people, for instance, know that Iraq was formed with Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds.  Few of them, however, realize the Iran is only about 60 percent Persian.  The other 40 percent are comprised of different national groups, most Muslim, many still yearning for independence.  Pakistan's dominant ethnic group, Punjabis, make up only about 45 percent of that country.  Both Iran and Pakistan both have several Sunni Muslim peoples straining under their oppressive yokes and looking for their independence.

I've been one of the characteristics of radical Islam is that it owes no allegiance to any national entity, except perhaps for temporary, strategic reasons.  Its view is universal; we refer to a worldwide Caliphate.  The groups mentioned above reject that and emphasize nationalism.  Moreover, part of their nationalism virulently rejects Islamism and seeks to re-establish nations that are equally welcoming to people of all faiths.  They also believe that the current nations of Iran and Pakistan are tied to radical Islam; and they oppose that as much as the occupation of their countries.

Is the West missing an opportunity if it does not support these peoples?

Do they also provide a real alternative to the flailing about for non-radical Muslims, which often settles on faux moderates?


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Friday, January 08, 2016

Islam's diversity opens gates for victory over Islamism

Many people in the west are desperately trying to find an answer to the scourge of radical Islam.  There are at least two problems facing them:  many push back at the thought of identifying a religion with terrorism (which often finds people at the poles of bigotry or fecklessness); lack of thorough and uncluttered information about Islam and Muslims has prevented a more complex understanding.  There is an answer to both problems.

Muslims are as diverse as any other group of people.  Many not only reject Islamism (or Islam as a political ideology); quite a few are trying to combat it, often at their peril.  If we recognize that diversity, it is a lot easier to square the recognition of Islam's role in modern-day terrorism and tyranny with our liberal western values of not vilifying people because of their faith.

By now, many people understand that many Middle Eastern countries (e.g., Iraq) were post-World War II creations of European colonial powers that threw diverse populations together without regard to their distinctions--Shia and Sunni, Kurd and Arab, Kurd and Persian, etc.  There's more than--much more--and it can be the basis of a strategy for victory over Islamism.

Take Iran, for example.  To westerners, it might seem like a country divided at times across political lines, something that the government suppresses ruthlessly.  Few westerners know, however, that only about 60 percent of the country is made up of ethnic Persians.  The remaining 40 percent is divided among several national and often restive minorities.  Some, like the Azeri, have an independent nation as well (i.e., Azerbaijan).  Others (e.g., Kurds) have been fighting for one while being spread across multiple Muslim-majority giants.  The Baloch, once had an independent state of their own (Baluchistan), which has been occupied by Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan for decades.  These and other non-Persian groups aspire to be free of Iranian hegemony that suppresses their culture and forces an alien form of Islam on them.  Some have even taken action, such as the killing of 18 Iranian Guardsmen in 2007.

Pakistan is another polyglot state with restive minorities.  The largest part of Baluchistan is occupied by Pakistan; and although Baluchistan is rich in minerals and other resources, Pakistani plunder has left it the nation's poorest province.  Other national groups--Sindhi, Pashtun, and Gilgit Baltistanis--long for independence or at least autonomy and have their own independence movements.  Many of their operatives look to regional leaders like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inspiration; and almost all look to Israel as a model and ally.

Finally. as ISIS has begun establishing itself in South Asia, there is division even among Islamists.  Many look at the Taliban as their indigenous movement and ISIS as a foreign entity that is attempting to take over their movement.

One of the biggest drags on western support (even clandestine) for these groups is fear by some in ruling circles that these efforts will "destabilize" the region and risk putting Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in ISIS or Taliban hands.  Both arguments are weak.  You can't destabilize something that is not stable to begin with.  Pakistan has faced Islamist attempts at a takeover at least since 2008; its intelligence service is already listed as a terror supporting organization by the United States and others.  We also have seen that ignoring nationalist movements like these only delays the struggle.  Do any of those fearful westerners see peaceful and democratic resolution of these conflicts in Pakistan's history.  And their nuclear arsenal is already at risk from both internal and external Islamist threats.  Hopefully, the United States and others have secured them in case the worst happens.  Finally, most people believe that a good part of those nukes are located in Baluchistan.  Wouldn't it be nice if they were controlled by friendly forces and not just those that tolerate us for convenience and personal gain?

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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Anti-Israel EU Labeling Ignores Real Occupations



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the European Union’s (EU) decision forcing importers to differentially label Israeli products from Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank) and the Golan Heights as “hypocritical and [that it] constitutes a double standard.”

The administration of US President Barack Obama expressed support for the EU effort.  But then, as US Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio noted, Obama “treats the Prime Minister of Israel with less respect than what he gives the Ayatollah in Iran.”

The EU seems obsessively anti-Israel with its decision not to identify products from the West Bank and Golan as “Made in Israel” as only the latest example of that obsession.  It calls ad nauseam for Israel-Arab negotiations as the only path to peace but has already pre-determined their outcome by saying that these disputed territories are not part of Israel.  In lock step, that Obama administration spokesman who expressed support for the labeling also said that “we do not consider settlements to be part of Israel.” 

The evidence of this “asymmetrical” warfare against the Jewish State goes beyond righteous indignation, however.  That same EU labeling that targets Israel’s unconfirmed "occupation” ignores real ones, most egregiously Iran and Pakistan’s occupation of   Baluchistan.

Baluchistan stretches across southwestern Pakistan, southeastern Iran, and a small section of southwestern Afghanistan.  When the British left India, they thought they were leaving an independent Baluchistan, but the Pakistanis ruthlessly crushed it and have been treating the Baloch as virtual serfs ever since.  I’ve never heard of the EU refusing to label Balochi exports as Made in Pakistan, and their occupation is not disputed, as is the one with which they are obsessed.  Moreover, there are massive human rights violations by both Pakistan and Iran against the Baloch, and the European Union remains silent about them.  Moreover, Iran’s violations (see as one example, http://www.interfaithstrength.com/Studies%20on%20IRAN.pdf, scroll to page 196) were never even raised during the ill begotten “negotiations” on Iran’s nuclear program.  And judging by the slobbering excitement with which Europeans are greeting prospects of commerce with Iran; don’t expect them to be.

Only about 60 percent of Iran’s population is Persian.  The rest are ethnic minorities (many Muslim) whose identity is being ruthlessly crushed.  There are Baloch, Sindhi, and Pashto independence movements within Pakistan, all Muslim.  Yet, none of them is being taken up by the anti-Jewish state obsessed European Union.

It seems that the EU’s finger wagging “morality” is selective and coincides with historical European  tastes and economic interests.  When will the world wake up and stop Europe's carnage-complicit hypocrisy?

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Friday, November 06, 2015

Balochistan



Why do some groups’ struggles become fashionable and others do not? The Palestinians—a people with a history stretching back, oh gee, decades—are darlings of the left, Europeans, and their Muslim world sponsors who take draconian measures not to accept them within their borders.  They are the subject of almost continuous UN resolutions and occupy several international agencies, some exclusively, that are funded largely by the nations they demonize.  There are about 11.6 million Palestinians with a culture built almost entirely on enmity and hatred of Jews and the West.

The 10-15 million Baloch, on the other hand, have a history stretching back centuries and a rich culture with even earlier antecedents.  Unlike the Palestinians who have tried to claim a non-existent country, the Baloch actually had their own independent nation, Balochistan, that was swallowed up by British colonialists and their local allies.  They have not been favored with international aid and UN resolutions; and when a UN team simply tried to look into the matter, they were called off after Pakistani objections.  Europeans never refuse to buy Iranian or Pakistani goods that come from Balochistan--a nation with clearly defined historical borders that even its occupiers do not question.

Palestinians also are given a pass for terrorism that is an essential component of their "national" identity; and several of their major representatives make common cause with murderous Islamists.  The Baloch, on the other hand, practice a mild variant of Islam that is neither imperialistic nor murderous.  And even though terrorism is a marginal phenomenon among the Baloch, when a terrorist attack in Iranian-occipied Balochistan killed 18 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, those same UN Security Council sycophants went out of their way to express sympathy for the victims, saying hypocritically “that no cause can justify the use of terrorist violence"; hypocritically because they look the other way when Palestinian terrorists kill Israelis.


We are involved in new efforts to bring justice to the Baloch and help them regain their independence.  Their struggle is real, and it will not go away; and if the Kurds can now see progress on Iran's western flank, there is no reason why we cannot help the Baloch do the same on its eastern flank.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Remember "The BDS 59" at election time

Those of us who feel passionately about our nation's security and the international fight against Islamists, and who are equally passionate about the State of Israel, have been snubbed time and again by the Obama administration and its fearful acolytes in Congress.  When that happens, people shake their fists and rant about those who are placing our security and that of our ally Israel in jeopardy, but too often we do nothing more.

I've spoken with so many individuals--passionate supporters of Israel--who have come to me with their anger about Barack Obama and his clearly anti-Israel actions.  Yet, when pressed, they admit that they voted for him not once but twice, the second time after his anti-Israel actions were--as they too admitted--on full display.  So with the 2016 US elections not that far away, from time to time, this blog will remind voters who snubbed them and did so expecting that they did not have the heft to administer the appropriate consequences.

Let's begin with "The BDS 59."

Do you remember when Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressed a joint session of Congress, and several members of that body publicly boycotted our friend and ally.  They did so even though were it not for our ally Israel, Saddam Hussein would have ten years of nuclear material for use against our troops in 1991; and even though were it not for our ally Israel, ISIS would have a bomb today.

Some of The BDS 59 tried to hide behind an excuse about protocol, however, there are historical precedents for the Netanyahu speech; and their anti-Israel boycott reflected their tacit or vocal support for the Obama's attempts to distance the US from Israel.  Here are The BDS 59 who do not deserve our votes in 2016 or any time:


Vice President Joe Biden
Sen. Al Franken (Minn.)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.)
Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)
Rep. Karen Bass (Calif.)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)
Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla.)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.)
Rep. Lois Capps (Calif.)
Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.)
Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas)
Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.)
Rep. William Lacy Clay (Mo.)
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.)
Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.)
Rep. John Conyers (Mich.)
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.)
Rep. Danny Davis (Ill.)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.)
Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas)
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.)
Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.)
Rep. Chaka Fattah (Pa.)
Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.)
Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio)
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.)
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio)
Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.)
Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)
Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)
Rep. Dave Loebsack (Iowa)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.)
Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.)
Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.)
Rep. Jim McGovern (Mass.)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (Calif.)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.)
Rep. Gwen Moore (Wis.)
Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas)
Rep. Donald Payne (N.J.)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine)
Rep. David Price (N.C.)
Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)
Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)
Rep. Mike Thompson (Calif.)
Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.)

They put partisanship over our security, and did so expecting that none of us will remember come election day.  We do remember, and this blog will put out more reminders in the coming weeks and months, including reminders of who voted for the Iran deal that places US and Israeli security in jeopardy.

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Saturday, August 01, 2015

US Congress Resolution to Protect Bangladeshi Minorities

On July 29, 2015, U.S. Congressman Robert Dold and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced a bipartisan resolution calling on the government of Bangladesh to increase human rights protections, strengthen democratic institutions and prevent the growth of extremist groups in the country. The resolution comes as ISIS and other trans-national radical Islamic groups continue to grow their influence in areas like South Asia. This represents an historic shift in U.S. policy toward Bangladesh.  It discards the inaccurate view of the world's eighth largest nation as a democratic ally and opponent of radical Islam; for one that recognizes the reality of its role in the spread of Islamism and ethnic cleansing of non-Muslim minorities.

“Religious persecution is on the rise around the world, with 77% of the world’s population now living in countries with high restrictions on religious freedom,” "As the greatest force for human dignity in the world," said Dold, "the United States has an obligation to send the unequivocal message that we will not tolerate countries that fail to protect the fundamental freedoms of all citizens, especially minorities."  He called on the Bangladeshi government "to protect the rights of minorities, eliminate violent extremist groups and restore the rule of law.”

After noting her concern about attacks on religious minorities, Gabbard added, "All too often perpetrators of crimes against minorities go unpunished. It’s up to the government of Bangladesh to take action to stop those who incite and commit violence and protect the rights of these minorities."

The resolution is now with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, of which Gabbard is a member.  Its Chairman, Congressman Ed Royce, is on the record with his concern about the persecution of minorities, especially Hindus, in Bangladesh.

Since 2007, I have been urging the U.S. government to recognize the "ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh" and take a clear stand against the atrocity itself and against the fairy tale that Bangladesh is a "moderate" nation.  Rather, Bangladesh has become Islamism's petri dish for additional campaigns internationally, as well as a test of our will to oppose its commitment to atrocities.

House Resolution 396 is an important step not only for human rights; it is also an important step in our open-eyed fight against our most implacable enemies.

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Monday, July 06, 2015

US Elections an Opportunity to Save Bangladesh's Hindus

I can remember talking with a US lawmaker and staff about the ethnic cleansing of Bangladesh's Hindus.  At one point, the staff person asked, "If this is such a big problem that we have to do something, why haven't we heard much from American Hindus?"  They had to attend to the needs of many constituencies, and ignoring those needs to focus on something not significant to the actual community involved did not seem right.  Since then, some US Hindus have made some noise, but it has been rather tepid at best.  Two pieces of evidence:
  • On April 30, 2015, the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs held hearings about the deteriorating situation in Bangladesh, but it did not recommend action and only slightly addressed the plight of Hindus and the danger it means for all of us.
  • Prior to its last visit to Bangladesh, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom asked for contacts who would confirm the persecution of Hindus and government complicity there, but it ignored the evidence it received in its report.
With US elections coming in 2016, however, Hindus and other have a chance to do something real about it.  Several presidential hopefuls can make this an issue.  Florida Senator Marco Rubio's staff, for instance, has been working with me and gathering evidence.  Florida Senator Jeb Bush once me with Bangladeshi officials.  And President Barack Obama once derisively called former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "the Senator from Punjab" because of Clinton ties with India.  There are tight and not so tight races nationwide for Senator and Member of Congress, many in districts and states with significant Hindu populations.  But the impact will be there only if we press our case.  And it becomes even stronger if Hindus align with other religious groups, as we have been doing with Jews and Hindus in the Chicago area.

I urge everyone who believes we have to seize these opportunities to contact me through this blog, my web site, facebook, or tumblr account (the latter is under the name bdhindus); or email me at drrbenkin@comcast.net.

We CAN do something to save millions of innocents--or we can let the moment pass and see them destroyed.

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Thursday, May 07, 2015

BETRAYAL: USCIRF PROMOTES RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION

In its just released report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) ignored overwhelming evidence of Bangladeshi government complicity in the ethnic cleansing of Hindus, while rejecting the path of cooperation with India, choosing instead a sterile form of confrontation.



·        USCIRF was established by Title II of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.  Its mandate is to “facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom [and make] policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.”



·        Along with a misguided minority in Washington, it has for years sullied the reputation of current Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and observant Hindus with discredited claims of his complicity in anti-minority violence.



·        Its recently-released 2015 annual report continues that effort, using questionable material to claim religious freedom abuses in India, and attributes it to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent election and "Hindu nationalist groups," while calling forced conversion of Hindus "media propaganda." When USCIRF staff brought the allegations to me for my advice, I provided evidence refuting it.



·        Fewer and fewer people and organizations continue this sterile line given Modi’s election as India’s Prime Minister, his actions since that election, the growing importance of India’s relations with other democracies, and India’s Supreme Court having cleared Modi multiple times.



·        USCIRF’s action is consistent with a pattern of anti-Hindu bias.



·        Its report on Pakistan, where Hindus face intense violence and have been reduced to one percent of the population, USCIRF calls violence against Hindus “allegations,” while not similarly qualifying the claims of any other minority group.





·        Its report on Bangladesh calls violence against Hindus “occasional,” despite sending staff on a fact-finding trip in which my associates provided ample and vetted evidence of ongoing ethnic cleansing of Hindus and the Bangladeshi government’s complicity that have reduced Hindus from one in five Bangladeshis to as few as one in 15.



·        In August 2014, I arranged a meeting between an Indian government representative and USCIRF’s Chairperson at which both parties agreed on a path of cooperation to undo decades of mutual animosity and work together toward common understandings.  In the end, USCIRF rejected cooperation and chose the course of confrontation instead with an increasingly important US ally.



·        Hindus are being persecuted out of existence in Bangladesh and Pakistan.  Yet, USCIRF minimizes or ignores that—despite being given ample evidence to the contrary choosing instead to pursue discredited accusations against one of our most sincere allies.  I have direct evidence of all of this and stand by my accusations against USCIRF and the government of Bangladesh.



·        USCIRF’S decision was a disservice to both India and the United States, to religious minorities in South Asia, and to the cause of religious freedom worldwide.  It also called its impartiality into question and with it that of the United States government.

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