Muslims Segregated from French Society in Growing Islamist Mini-States - Rowan Scarborough (Washington Times)
A backdrop to the massacre in Paris on Wednesday by self-professed al-Qaeda terrorists is that city officials have increasingly ceded control of heavily Muslim neighborhoods to Islamists.
France has Europe's largest population of Muslims, some of whom talk openly of ruling the country one day and casting aside Western legal systems for harsh, Islam-based Shariah law.
City leaders have allowed virtual Islamic mini-states to thrive as Muslims gain power to govern in their own way.
"There are no-go areas not just in Paris, but all over France, where they are effectively in control," said Robert Spencer, who directs JihadWatch.org.
We Must Stop Blaming Ourselves for Islamist Terror - Padraig Reidy (Telegraph-UK)
If the rise of ISIS has taught the world one thing, it is that provocation is beside the point. Jihadists kill because that is what they do.
It does not matter if you are a French cartoonist or a Yezidi child, or an aid worker or journalist: if you are not one of the chosen few, you are fair game.
Provocation is merely an excuse used by bullies to justify their actions, while ensuring the world bows to their will.
U.S. Says Airstrikes Put Islamic State on Defensive - Dion Nissenbaum (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S.-led air campaign in Iraq and Syria has hit more than 3,000 targets in the region, hampering Islamic State's ability to raise money and putting the militant force on the defensive, Pentagon officials said on Wednesday.
Since August, American and allied warplanes have destroyed hundreds of Islamic State tanks, checkpoints, convoys and oil refineries.
How Oil Price Slump Is Putting a Squeeze on Hizbullah - Nicholas Blanford (Christian Science Monitor)
A slump in global oil prices and nuclear-tied sanctions are squeezing Hizbullah's patron Iran.
As Iran tightens its belt, Hizbullah has had to impose salary cuts on personnel, defer payments to suppliers and reduce monthly stipends to its political allies in Lebanon, according to political and diplomatic sources in Beirut.
"Salvaging the regime in Syria and fighting ISIS in Iraq have forced Iran to divert more resources away from Hizbullah at a time when the resource base in Iran is shrinking," says Randa Slim, a director at the Middle East Institute.
Israeli Doctors Implant Titanium Jaw in Wounded Syrian - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
A 23-year-old Syrian has received a pioneering jaw implant made from titanium after a bullet completely destroyed his lower jaw.
The man reached Haifa's Rambam Medical Center in critical condition, unable to speak or eat. One day after surgery, the patient was eating and speaking.
The customized artificial jawbone was created on a 3D printer.
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- 12 Killed at Muhammad Cartoons Magazine in Paris - Cassandra Vinograd
Masked gunmen armed with AK-47s and shouting "Allahu Akbar" stormed the offices of the French satirical news magazine Charlie Hebdo Wednesday in a terror attack that left 12 people dead. The magazine has published cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad and was firebombed three years ago.
Two gunmen killed a maintenance worker on their way into the building. At the third-floor editorial offices of the magazine they shot dead eight journalists, a guest and a police officer.
"Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo," one of the men shouted. As they fled, they killed another police officer.
See also One Suspect Surrenders in Attack on French Magazine - Dan Bilefsky and Maia de la Baume
French officials said Wednesday that two of the suspects were brothers: Said and Cherif Kouachi, 34 and 32. The third suspect, Hamyd Mourad, 18, who drove the getaway car, surrendered to police.
(New York Times)
See also Two Brothers Suspected in Killings Were Known to French Intelligence Services - Andrew Higgins and Maia de la Baume
Cherif Kouachi first came to the attention of the French authorities as a possible terrorist a decade ago. According to testimony during a 2008 Paris trial, he had dreamed of attacking Jewish targets in France.
(New York Times)
See also First-Hand Account from Terrorist Attack on Charlie Hebdo Magazine in France - Claire Berlinski (Ricochet)
See also Jewish Cartoonist Georges Wolinski among Victims of Paris Terror Attack (Ynet News)
- U.S.: Palestine Does Not Qualify for Membership in International Criminal Court
State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the steps taken by the UN Secretary-General regarding the Palestinian request to join the International Criminal Court "are purely administrative" and are "not a judgment on eligibility." "The United States does not believe that the state of Palestine qualifies as a sovereign state and does not recognize it as such and does not believe that it is eligible to accede to the Rome Statute [of the ICC]." (State Department)
See also UN Approves PA for ICC - Amb. Alan Baker
The UN Secretary General should have refused to accept the Palestinian request to join the ICC on the strength of the Rome Statute's limitation of membership to states only. The Palestinian request is legally flawed because there exists no sovereign Palestinian state. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
- Defunding the Palestinians: Israel Stops Protecting Aid to PA on Capitol Hill - John Hudson
For years, Israel has acted as a brake on efforts by pro-Israel members of Congress to cut off aid to the Palestinians. But Jerusalem, irked by Palestinian efforts to join the International Criminal Court, is no longer standing in the way, according to lawmakers. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that governs aid to the Palestinians, said Israeli officials are no longer opposed to efforts to chip away at the roughly $400 million of aid the U.S. sends to the PA every year.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
- Netanyahu Condemns Terror Attack in France: "Radical Islam Knows No Boundaries"
In response to Wednesday's terrorist attack in Paris, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said:
"The people of Israel send their condolences to the people of France over the brutal acts of savagery in the heart of Paris today. The attacks of radical Islam know no boundaries....Therefore, all the free countries and all the civilized societies have to band together to fight this scourge. And if we stand together and if we are not divided, then we can defeat this tyranny that seeks to extinguish all our freedoms."
"We are experiencing these attacks time and again, we know the pain but we also know the resolution with which free societies can defeat terror - however dreadful, however threatening." (Prime Minister's Office)
- Hamas Asked to Keep Low Profile in Qatar - Khaled Abu Toameh
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal will stay in Qatar for now, but he won't be allowed to carry out any activities from the Gulf emirate, Asharq al-Awsat reported Wednesday. Quoting "informed sources," the newspaper said that although Qatar has not asked Mashaal to leave the country, it has changed its political stance toward Hamas. Qatar does not want to be seen to support the Muslim Brotherhood, especially in light of the recent Qatari-Egyptian reconciliation.
- Islamist Terror in Paris - Editorial
The deadliest terror attack on French soil in more than a decade is a fresh reminder that the war on Islamist terror is far from won, and that jihadists are bent on eradicating the heritage of Western freedom. Wednesday's massacre, following a long string of plots foiled by police in the UK, France and elsewhere, is a reminder that jihadism isn't a distant Middle Eastern phenomenon.
There will be many more such attempts at mass murder. Men willing to execute cartoonists in Paris and 132 children at point-blank range in Peshawar in the name of religion won't shrink from using more destructive means to impose mass casualties.
The attack also demonstrates again that violent Islam isn't a reaction to poverty or Western policies in the Middle East. It is an ideological challenge to Western civilization and principles, including a free press and religious pluralism. The murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists is merely the latest evil expression of a modern arc of Islamist violence against Western free speech.
Charlie Hebdo Editor Stephane Charbonnier, who was murdered on Wednesday, understood the ideals he represented. Responding to threats and pressure over the newspaper's decisions to publish provocative cartoons, he once said: "I prefer to die standing than live on my knees." It is now the epitaph of a principled and courageous man.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Defeating Islamists in Their War on Free Thought - Brendan O'Neill (Wall Street Journal)
- Prevent the Palestinians from Marauding Their Way through the UN - John R. Bolton
The Palestinian Authority is aggressively seeking to have itself declared a "state" by joining treaties and international organizations, thereby pressuring Israel and the U.S. to accept outcomes they long ago rejected. The Palestinians believe they can create "facts on the ground" in the UN's hallways.
U.S. law requires cutting off funding to UN agencies that admit the PA as a member state. Since UNESCO admitted the PA in 2011, Washington has withheld its UNESCO assessments, amounting to 22% of the agency's budget, a loss that was devastating to UNESCO. The potential consequences for the entire UN system are enormous if PA memberships continue to grow. These likely consequences of the PA's efforts should spur the administration to intense efforts to prevent the Palestinians from marauding their way through the UN. The writer is a former U.S. ambassador to the UN.
(New York Post)
- Is the International Criminal Court Biased Against Israel? - Eugene Kontorovich
In its twelve-year history, the International Criminal Court has completed only three cases, with two convictions.
Some have argued that there is no reason to suspect partiality from the Court, composed of jurists from around the world and charged with acting apolitically.
Unfortunately, in her recent memo on the Gaza flotilla matter, the ICC Prosecutor concluded that, despite Israel's complete withdrawal, Gaza is occupied because the "international community" thinks it is. This move undermines the ICC's independence by substituting political judgments for legal standards. Disturbingly, the Prosecutor ignored existing legal definitions and precedents about "occupation," and instead simply plugged in the conclusions of UN General Assembly resolutions. The writer is a professor at Northwestern University School of Law.
Are Palestinian Offensives Inviting Israeli Reprisals? - Steven J. Rosen (Gatestone Institute)
- To counter the Palestinians' recent diplomatic offensives, Israel has at its disposal, apart from diplomatic or legal measures, an array of economic responses, should it feel driven to use them.
- The customs taxes Israel collects on goods shipped to the Palestinian areas, the Value Added Tax [VAT] for goods and services sold in Israel and intended for PA consumption, and petroleum excises comprise more than two-thirds of PA revenues.
- Israel is not willing to have a one-sided relationship in which it tries to help the PA while the PA crusades against Israel at the UN. While it does not wish to harm the Palestinian economy, on eight occasions since 1994 Israel has suspended transfers of these clearance revenues in response to Palestinian threats.
- In 2014, U.S. direct aid to the PA was $400 million, and other donors gave another $900 million. But Israeli clearance transfers were $1.8 billion, giving it a greater role than all other outside parties.
- Moreover, between a fifth and a third of West Bank Palestinian employment is in Israel. Average wages for the more than 109,000 Palestinian workers in Israel are double those in the West Bank.
- It is not wise for the PA to provoke Israel, which can take measures that will have much more immediate effect than anything the PA can do at the UN. Israel is trying to apply just enough pressure to change the behavior of the PA, but not so much as to bring about its collapse.
The rational choice for both parties is to return to the pursuit of common interests through cooperation.
The writer, former foreign policy director of AIPAC, is now director of the Washington Project at the Middle East Forum.
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