The United States Department of State released annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom – the International Religious Freedom Report – describing the status of religious freedom in every country. This year the report had a remarkable citation which had previously been explained away by blaming the victim and excusing the oppressive doctrinarian persecutor which practiced religious and societal supremacy despite their societal dysfunctionality. The hiccup, if you’ll admit the slang, was a report that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was indeed committing anti-Semitism and broadcasting it on their television and radio broadcasts. There were also criticisms of Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt and Indonesia Wednesday for having laws that infringe upon religious freedom citing blasphemy, apostasy and anti-conversion laws. The report succinctly stated, “Such laws conflict with and undermine universally recognized human rights,” referring directly at one state’s actions the report went on to state, “Saudi Arabia penalizes blasphemy with lengthy prison sentences and lashings, often after detention without trial, or so-called protective custody, according to legal experts.” Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken stated at an event announcing the report, “In far too many countries, 2015 witnessed appalling patterns of significant restrictions on religious practice, as well as societal intolerance of, restrictions on and even violence against members of religious minority groups. Bigotry and intolerance can be found in every part of the world, including the United States, but every country has an obligation to respect religious liberty and freedom of conscience.”
But in the area of Israel, where we will concentrate our commentary, the report brought some needed fresh air. The State Department, and especially under President Obama, criticizing the PA for their open and blatant anti-Semitism is as surprising as it was welcome. As far as any actual actions or further recognition, that remains to be seen though we expect very little to come of this. Reports are, after all, written to please, aggravate, motivate or mitigate situations while having minimal effect or amelioration before being filed on a shelf next to the report from previous years which had also made new or original bold statement only to settle on the shelf awaiting the next year’s report to brace it from the open end. This report shall be no different and likely be even of less consequence as the elections in the United States will soon suck all the oxygen from the media rooms across the world, be it the United States elections or the German elections by five of sixteen states in the build-up to the next year’s federal vote where it is fully expected to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel and her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) from a decade of dominance due to the refugee crisis. Changes are coming in Europe and perhaps in the United States as well. All of this we will watch and see and then wait for any changes both local and internationally. Despite belief by President Obama that he controls the fate of the world, this report was likely about the upcoming elections while ignoring their boss, the man holding the world currently.
Closer to home at our small corner, and we emphasize small, of the Mediterranean the State Department report will be accepted as a breath of fresh air as a known reality has finally been recognized in writing by what has been and likely remains an adversarial United States Department of State. This report may simply be the State Department setting a note in their records just in case there may be coming a drastic change in the Executive Brach of the United States governance. Despite the hyperventilating over the great lead Hillary Clinton has theoretically built up in the past month according to the United States media, even FOX, in the most respected and neutral polling this past week she held less than a five percent lead, less than a single point in one, over Donald Trump, a lead within the margin of errors. This probably has the great minds at the State Department fearing that the light they see down the tunnel is not the opening to the broad outdoors but the headlamp of an onrushing train and they figure better to be safe than left out on a limb with little support as a new President starts sawing their branch off before they can scamper back saving themselves and their appointed positions. Moving to the center is done by places beyond candidates who have been forced away from the center during a primary challenge. This may be nothing more than centering the State Department ship before it lists so far over they capsize.
Then again, perhaps there is another reason for the state department report stating in blatant terms that the PA broadcasts and other activities are peddling anti-Semitism. There is also the possibility that the extremes reached have finally crossed a previously uncrossed level which placed their actions beyond even the State Department’s ability to excuse with their normal euphemisms. The previous State Department reports had blamed the Israeli “occupation” and Israeli “oppressions” and “treatment of the Arab Palestinian” as the reasons for which any hatreds originating from the PA and their society as understandable and even excusable. The fact is official members of the PA governance are making statements over the broadcast channels to instigate further attacks on Israelis anywhere and everywhere including blatantly calling for violence within Israel inside the Green Line in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, Jerusalem, Ashdod as well as Hevron and other areas in Judea and Samaria. Further calls were broadcast calling for Israeli Arabs to attack and murder Israelis and some calls to violence was more general demanding the attacks and terrorism to murder Jews. There were also the calls for rioting on the Temple Mount where there was no difference drawn between Israelis and tourists whether Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu or even Shinto. What will remain to be seen is the follow through, should there be one. But will the policies demand of Israeli sacrifices and concessions while forgiving any and every crime committed by the Arabs both under PA rule and Hamas rule in Gaza. One need remember that Hamas was overwhelmingly elected in honest elections over a decade ago by both the Arabs in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria and no elections have been permitted by the ruling Hamas or Fatah, both terror parties, ever since. The Arab Palestinians have what can be laughingly referred to as third world democracy, one person, one vote, one time.
Reports recognizing the near universal anti-Semitism and religious hatreds which permeate the Arab world where even minority sects of Islam are denigrated and subjugated to similar treatments as the Christians, Yazidis, Baha’i, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians and other minority religions spread across the Islamic world as well as the Arab world have previously been rare and oft ignored. Reports and even speeches may bring attention to these problems but there needs be actions backing up the words. This will be what needs be watched and see if policies are altered to reflect this report. All of this will depend heavily on the next elections throughout Europe after the first installment of reaching towards three million and possibly as much as five million “refugees” have inundated the continent from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) with over one million taking up refuge in Germany alone. The fact that approaching eighty to ninety percent, depending on locations and reports, of these “refugees” being males between the ages of thirteen to forty without women or children accompanying these military age males paints an ominous picture for military planners and security forces alike. Then there were the New Year’s Eve sex crime wave which struck central celebration areas in cities all across Germany and in spotty locations in Scandinavia and other European hot spots, the terrorism increase and a general increase in crime. While what the level of assimilation to which these mostly Muslim immigrants will accomplish with their adopting a more European outlook cannot yet be ascertained but initial data leaves one with an uneasy feeling about the grim prospects of there being any degree of assimilation. Some are blaming the BREXIT on the immigrant crisis where the reason the British voted to leave the European Union was so they could place blockades against further infiltrations. As the “refugees” have yet to penetrate into Scotland and Northern Ireland or the Irish Isles has been stated by those who voted in large sectors from England as the reason these areas are considering rejoining the European Union independently. If these nations from the British group expect that they might be voted from Britain with the English possibly deciding to go it alone relying on the English to act as a cork on the European bottle protecting these nations after they reapply to the European Union from direct infiltrations by MENA refugees halting them at the Chunnel blocking any crossings of the English Channel, they are hoping that the English will be responsible for them while they continue the jolly life as members of the European Union protected from the decisions in Brussels by England, the adults on the islands. The English would be hard pressed to allow the “refugees” to pass through to the northern lands as that would place their presence on both borders making their infiltration a greater danger by far.
Meanwhile, Israel likely is going to have this paper, this report by the State Department, touted by the government with every party claiming either their contribution to forcing the admitting of the problem or claiming they will patiently await actions which speak louder than worlds. Those who take credit for the report by the State Department are making grand claims with likely little real or hard evidence of their complicity in the formation of this report. This admission of the sins committed by the PA was and will continue to be just a centering of State Department positions in anticipation of a possible shift in White House positions after the election and thus the adoption of a more nuanced position from which the department can slide whichever direction the President will lean upon arrival. The State Department simply has noted that whichever candidate wins the election, be it Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, there will be little if anything that the State Department will be capable of performing which will alter either candidate’s preferred and preset position vis-à-vis Israel. As for determining the position either candidate will take may appear easy, it also may be less well known or predictable as one might suspect.
Our talks with actual Israelis, Sabras (native born Israelis) who have never visited the United States, they are confused as to which candidate will win the election. Many feel that Hillary has this as her election to lose as if she cannot beat Donald Trump then she was not cut out to beat anybody. Many fear Trump as much as they do Clinton. The one thing we have seen as a constant is their asking us what we think will happen and pleading that we grant them good news and reinforce what they already hope for from the elections. One item these Israelis have been made aware of comes through a quote, we like quotes as we cannot be fully blamed for their content, the quote we turn to was reputedly from Joseph Stalin where it was stated in Boris Bazhanov’s Memoirs of Stalin’s Former Secretary, published in 1992 and only available, so far as we know, in Russian where it stated, “You know, comrades that I think in regard to this: I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this, who will count the votes, and how.” When we receive puzzled looks we point to the claims that in certain districts there were more votes tallied than there were registered voters and some have claimed that entire voting districts had absolutely no votes recorded for any candidate other than those for one of the two main parties. This often does not clear their puzzled look as much as add a degree of obvious fear or ominous foreboding to their puzzlement.
Beyond the Cusp