Peres urges Israelis to continue polio vaccines
Wednesday, August 28, 2013 | Yossi Aloni
President Shimon Peres visited a child care clinic in Jerusalem where he praised the Health Ministry efforts to prevent a new outbreak of polio and urged all Israelis to get their kids inoculated, revealing that his own family had to battle the debilitating virus during a previous outbreak.
"One of my children was a victim of polio at the age of 8 months," Peres recalled. "My wife Sonya and I were at his bedside as he was feverish and shivering in pain for three days and three nights. We were helpless. For the next year and a half later my son was paralyzed in the lower body."
Fortunately for the Peres family, their son made a near full recovery following months of rehabilitation. Not everyone is so lucky. “I do not wish this experience on anyone,” the president continued. “I call on all parents in Israel - prevent your children from suffering - it’s within your power!”
Some parents in Israel are concerned the vaccination could have ill effect on their little ones, and have been putting off or out right avoiding the new treatment.
To them, Peres said: “The doctors in Israel are among the best in the world, and parents can trust them 100 percent. In Israel the infant mortality rate is among the lowest in the world - and there is no other explanation except that we have the best doctors.”
Israel launched the new polio vaccination campaign after strains of the virus were found in sewage pipes in the south of the country. Later tests revealed that it had spread to the north, and that at least dozens of people were carrying the virus.
In the first three days of the campaign, 128,000 Israeli children were inoculated. The plan calls for one million children to receive a significantly weakened polio strain, and for the vaccine to spread from those children to the rest of the population.
Israelis scramble for gas masks as Syria attack looms
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | Ryan Jones
Demand for gas masks in Israel quadrupled on Tuesday as reports poured in that the US and Britain were just days away from attacking Syria over its use of chemical weapons against civilian populations.
Commercial airline pilots told British newspaper the Guardian that they had spotted a large number of military aircraft converging on the British air force base in Cyprus, just 100 miles from Syria.
At the same time, US Secretary of State John Kerry publicly denounced the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, and his boss, President Barack Obama, reportedly ordered his advisors to draft a document justifying military action against Syria without a UN mandate.
In the shadow of this looming threat, Israel’s Channel 2 News reported that the families of leading Syrian politicians and military figures were fleeing the country.
Meanwhile, the Assad regime again threatened that any Western attack on Syria would result in a Syrian assault on neighboring Israel. Syria’s Deputy Information Minister Halaf Al-Maftah said that in such a scenario, Israel would face not only Syria, but a coalition that also included Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and various terrorist organizations.
Syria is believed to have one of the largest chemical weapons arsenals in the world, and if it has used these weapons against its own population, there is concern it would have no problem employing them against the hated “Zionist entity.”
However, Israeli military officials reiterated that Syria was unlikely to take any serious direct action against the Jewish state. Israel’s response to any major Syrian attack would be crushing, and the Assad regime knows that it could not survive a war against the combined forces of the US, UK and Israel.
Muslim Violence Targets Christians (Again)
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | Noah Beck
As Egypt’s Islamists blame Christians for the ouster of Mohammed Morsi, anti-Christian violence has reached epidemic levels. On August 17th, one Egyptian human rights leader said that there had been an estimated 82 churches across Egypt attacked and heavily damaged by Morsi supporters in a mere 48 hours.
One week later, the number of anti-Christian attacks has risen to 90.
Unfortunately, the persecution of Christians is nothing new in Egypt or other Muslim-majority countries. But thanks to the mainstream media, few Westerners understand the true scale or nature of the horrors involved.
As you read this, Christians around the world are being murdered, raped, plundered, abducted, forcibly converted to Islam, or otherwise oppressed by Muslims. Christians in Muslim-majority areas are some of the most vulnerable and horribly oppressed people on Earth; they live at the mercy of the mob and receive little or no protection from the police or other government institutions.
The reach of this silent tragedy is sweeping – a global religious genocide on “slow burn” with occasional conflagrations that make it into the mainstream media. There are an estimated 100 million persecuted Christians.
This massive crime is documented in shocking and painstaking detail in Raymond Ibrahim’s new book Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians. The book is required reading for anyone who cares about religious freedom, human rights, and/or the survival of Christians in their ancestral lands.
In Crucified Again, Ibrahim methodically presents overwhelming evidence of Muslim persecution of Christians (documented with about 700 footnotes). His exhaustive, scholarly, and compelling study uses many news and historical sources, and statements by contemporary Muslim clerics. The evidentiary details are far too numerous to summarize here, but a few examples stand out.
Ibrahim explains the theological basis for Muslim persecution of Christians. He notes the Islamic belief that Koranic verses from later in Muhammad’s career abrogate contradictory verses from earlier. The hostile verses naming Christians “infidels” occur towards the end of his career, so they override any tolerance for Christians in earlier verses. Ibrahim writes: “The Koran’s final word on the fate of Christians and Jews is found in Koran 9:29 [where] Allah commands believers, [to fight them]…’until they pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued.’”
Ibrahim cites the writing of renowned Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun [1332-1406]:
"[Jihad] is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force … The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them… But Islam is under obligation to gain power over other nations."
Ibrahim explains: “The Conditions of Omar…[details] exactly how [Christians and Jews] are to feel themselves subdued.” The laws applicable to “dhimmis” (non-Muslims treated as second-class citizens under Islamic hegemony) made life so miserable for Christians over the millennia that these rules gradually transformed thousands of miles of formerly Christian territory into what is today the “Arab world.”
Ibrahim also highlights a tragic historical absurdity: many of the Muslims persecuting Christians today are themselves descendants of Christians who converted because of persecution.
Having established the theological basis for Muslim oppression of Christians, Ibrahim reviews the endless historical examples of these crimes. He cites one medieval Muslim historian reporting that “30,000 churches were burned or pillaged in Egypt and Syria alone” in just two years. During the Abbasid rule (in 936), “the Muslims in Jerusalem…burnt down the Church of the Resurrection [believed to be built atop the tomb of Christ].” Ibrahim notes the “1453 conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans and the subsequent attack on…the Hagia Sophia and its transformation into a mosque.”
After reviewing the more notable examples from history, Ibrahim catalogs the extent to which such Muslim persecution of Christians continues today across the entire Muslim world, “from Afghanistan to Zanzibar” – regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or language.
Crucified Again details how these anti-Christian crimes are often incited by governments and/or religious leaders of Muslim countries. Ibrahim “broke news” in 2012 merely by translating into English that Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority declared it “necessary to destroy all the churches” in the Arabian Peninsula. The shocking statement by Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, was widely reported by Arabic-language media, but the Western mainstream media avoided coverage of the outrage. As Ibrahim argues, the media willfully ignore such news because it contradicts their narrative that all Muslim violence is motivated by some socio-economic or political grievance.
But the West risks its own demise by ignoring four truths:
a hateful, absolutist ideology drives Islamist violence against non-Muslims;
sharia’s draconian penalties for apostasy and blasphemy maximize Muslim demographic growth because nobody can safely criticize or leave Islam (including those converted under duress);
sharia destroys the rights and freedoms cherished by the West;
sharia creates a Muslim monopoly on the marketplace of ideas – something antithetical to any free society.
To survive, the West cannot let sharia laws take root in Muslim-majority communities of Europe and North America.
With documented examples, Crucified Again also debunks the myth of the “moderate” Muslim state. So-called “moderate” states like Turkey or the Maldives may not be as atrociously violent towards their Christian minorities as countries like Pakistan, Iraq, and Egypt, but they follow the same patterns of anti-Christian persecution and are far from Western standards when it comes to treating their non-Muslim minorities with equal rights, justice, and dignity.
Ibrahim has argued elsewhere that the Koran’s violent verses, unlike “their Old Testament counterparts…[use] language that transcends time and space, inciting believers to…slay nonbelievers today no less than yesterday.” According to Ibrahim, Old Testament violent verses are fundamentally different because they are merely a descriptive account of historical incidents – not a prescriptive exhortation to attack non-believers in the future.
Ibrahim shows how the Western media, academia, and the Obama administration have all whitewashed Muslim oppression of Christians and/or supported Islamists like the Muslim Brotherhood to the point of enabling anti-Christian persecution and obscuring it from the public. Indeed, of Ibrahim’s 680+ cited news sources reporting on Muslim abuse of Christians, only about 6% were from the mainstream media. Biased media coverage of the Middle East deserves a book of its own, but to cite one powerful example, consider how CBS’s “news” program, Sixty Minutes, defamed the only Mideast country where Christians are actually safe (Israel) while missing the real story of Mideast Christian persecution so thoroughly documented in Crucified Again.
Western passivity over the maltreatment of minority Christians has only encouraged Islamists to attack them for any perceived wrong by the West – whether it’s offensive cartoons, movies, or any other grievance. Worse, the apathetic West has forgotten that the Islamic prohibitions (against apostasy, blasphemy, and proselytism) used to justify Muslim oppression of Christians completely negate Western values like freedom of speech and religion.
Ibrahim elsewhere makes an excellent point about Muslim animus towards Israel: “if grievances…were really about justice and displaced Palestinians, Muslims – and their Western appeasers – would be aggrieved by the fact that millions of Christians are currently being displaced by Muslim invaders.”
Indeed, the truer explanation for Muslim hostility towards Israel is that it’s the only non-Muslim state in the entire Middle East and North Africa. As long as Israel thrives as a strong, non-Muslim state, the Islamist mission of global jihad has failed in that region where Muslims are strongest. But if Israel were ever to fall, one can only imagine the genocide that would descend upon Israeli Jews – and the Israeli religious minorities sheltered in Israel (Christians, Bahá’ís, etc.).
Despite the grim signs for the West, it’s worth noting that there is a tiny but brave reform movement within Islam that should be robustly supported. Courageous humanists like Irshad Manji, who questions received doctrines with critical-thinking and a preference for tolerance over conquest, are the best hope for a reformed Islam that builds on its virtues, fixes its problems, and is at peace with itself (regarding the Sunni-Shia divide) and the non-Muslim world. Of course, anyone who reads Crucified Again will be unsurprised that Irshad Manji lives in the West.
Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and an Israeli submarine with a diverse crew, including a Christian Israeli.
Collapse reported on Temple Mount
Tuesday, August 27, 2013 | Israel Today Staff
Eyewitnesses told Turkish media this week that a portion of the Temple Mount platform near the Al Aqsa Mosque has collapsed, creating a serious safety hazard and a possible threat to the stability of the Islamic structure.
If the report is accurate, it would be the second serious collapse on the Temple Mount in the past five years.
Palestinian officials claim that the collapses are caused by deliberate Israeli action to bring down the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock so that the Jewish Temple can be rebuilt.
But archaeologists and engineers have been warning for years that the heavy construction projects being carried out by the Muslims atop the Temple Mount are destabilizing the huge number of ancient structures and water cisterns that riddle the sacred plateau.
Many believe it is only a matter of time before most of the platform collapses. And there are fears such a collapse could occur during Ramadan, when upwards of 100,000 Muslims gather atop the Temple Mount for weekly prayers.