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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts
Story 1: Constitutional Crisis: Dictator Obama Expands His Authorities Under Executive Action and Betrays Oath of Office By Making Law And Failing To Enforce Immigration Law, Obama Exceeds His Authorities — Impeach and Convict The Out of Control Dictator and Deport The 30-50 Million Illegal Aliens In The United States — Enforce Immigration Law Not Violate It — Constitutional Political Remedy Is Cut Funding Or Impeachment — Honk Twice For Impeachment! — Videos
“What we’ve done is we’ve expanded my authorities under executive action and prosecutorial discretion as far as we can legally under the existing statute, the existing law. And so now the question is, how can we get a law passed.”
~President Barack Obama
“When the government fears the people, there is liberty.
When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
~President Thomas Jefferson
The Constitution of the United States
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. …
… The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law. ”’
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law. …
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows …
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence. …
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“So in the short term, if Mr. McConnell, the leader of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, want to have a vote on whether what I’m doing is legal or not, they can have that vote. I will veto that vote, because I’m absolutely confident that what we’re doing is the right thing to do.”
“What we’ve done is we’ve expanded my authorities under executive action and prosecutorial discretion as far as we can legally under the existing statute, the existing law. And so now the question is, how can we get a law passed.”
Obama Dares GOP: Go Ahead, ‘Have a Vote on Whether What I’m Doing Is Legal…I Will Veto’
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The Nazi Collaborators: The Grand Mufti
In this film, history evidence is shown, showing the Muslim Brotherhood and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem [Haj Amin al-Husseini] working alongside Adolf Hitler in World War 2.
The Turban and the Swastika, Amin Al-Husseini and the nazis
Haj Amin al-Husseini
Haj Mohammed Effendi Amin el-Husseini (Arabic: محمد أمين الحسيني; c. 1897; – 4 July 1974) was a Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader in Mandatory Palestine.
Al-Husseini was the scion of a family of Jerusalemite notables. After receiving an education in Islamic, Ottoman and Catholic schools, he went on to serve in the Ottoman army in World War I. At war’s end, he positioned himself in Damascus as a supporter of the Arab Kingdom of Syria. Following the fiasco of the Franco-Syrian War and the collapse of the Arab Hashemite rule in Damascus, his early position on pan-Arabism shifted to a form of local nationalism for Palestinian Arabs and he moved back to Jerusalem. From as early as 1920, in order to secure the independence of Palestine as an Arab state he actively opposed Zionism, and was implicated as a leader of a violent riot that broke out over the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. Al-Husseini was sentenced to ten years imprisonment, but was pardoned by the British. Starting in 1921, al-Husseini was appointed Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, using the position to promote Islam, while rallying a non-confessional Arab nationalism against Zionism.
His opposition to the British peaked during the 1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine. In 1937, evading an arrest warrant, he fled Palestine and took refuge in, successively, the French Mandate of Lebanon and the Kingdom of Iraq, until he established himself in Italy and Germany. During World War II he collaborated with both Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy by making propagandistic radio broadcasts and by helping the Nazis recruit Bosnian Muslims for the Waffen-SS. On meeting Adolf Hitler he requested backing for Arab independence and support in opposing the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish national home. At war’s end, he came under French protection, and then sought refuge in Cairo to avoid prosecution.
In the lead-up to the 1948 Palestine war, Husseini opposed both the 1947 UN Partition Plan and King Abdullah‘s designs to annex the Arab part of British Mandatory Palestine to Jordan, and, failing to gain command of the ‘Arab rescue army’ (jaysh al-inqadh al-‘arabi) formed under the aegis of the Arab League, formed his own militia, al-jihad al-muqaddas. In September 1948, he participated in establishment of All-Palestine Government. Seated in Egyptian-ruled Gaza, this government won a limited recognition of Arab states, but was eventually dissolved by Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1959. After the war and subsequent Palestinian exodus, his claims to leadership, wholly discredited, left him eventually sidelined by the Palestine Liberation Organization, and he lost most of his residual political influence. He died in Beirut, Lebanon, in July 1974. Husseini was and remains a highly controversial figure. Historians dispute whether his fierce opposition to Zionism was grounded in nationalism or antisemitism or a combination of both.
Amin al-Husseini was born around 1897 in Jerusalem, the son of the mufti of that city and prominent early opponent of Zionism, Tahir al-Husayni. The al-Husseini clan consisted of wealthy landowners in southern Palestine, centred around the district ofJerusalem. Thirteen members of the clan had been Mayors of Jerusalem between 1864 and 1920. Another member of the clan and Amin’s half-brother, Kamil al-Husayni, also served as Mufti of Jerusalem. In Jerusalem Amin al-Husseini attended a Qur’an school (kuttub), and Ottoman government secondary school (rüshidiyye) where he learnt Turkish, and a Catholic secondary school run by French missionaries, the Catholic Frères, where he learnt French. He also studied at the Alliance Israélite Universelle with its non-Zionist Jewish director Albert Antébi. In 1912 he studied Islamic law briefly at Al-Azhar University in Cairo and at the Dar al-Da’wa wa-l-Irshad, under Rashid Rida, a salafi intellectual, who was to remain Amin’s mentor till his death in 1935. Though groomed to hold religious office from youth, his education was typical of the Ottoman effendi at the time, and he only donned a religious turban in 1921 after being appointed mufti.
In 1913, approximately at the age of 16, al-Husseini accompanied his mother Zainab to Mecca and received the honorary title of Hajj. Prior to World War I, he studied at the School of Administration in Istanbul, the most secular of Ottoman institutions.
World War I
With the outbreak of World War I in 1914, al-Husseini received a commission in the Ottoman Army as an artillery officer and was assigned to the Forty-Seventh Brigade stationed in and around the city of Izmir. In November 1916 he obtained a three-month disability leave from the army and returned to Jerusalem. He was recovering from an illness there when the city was captured by the British a year later. The British and Sherifian armies, for which some 500 Palestinian Arabs were estimated to have volunteered, completed their conquest of Ottoman-controlled Palestine and Syria in 1918. As a Sherifian officer, al-Husseini recruited men to serve in Faisal bin Al Hussein bin Ali El-Hashemi‘s army during the Arab Revolt, a task he undertook while employed as a recruiter by the British military administration in Jerusalem and Damascus. The post-war Palin Report noted that the English recruiting officer, Captain C. D. Brunton, found al-Husseini, with whom he cooperated, very pro-British, and that, via the diffusion of War Office pamphlets dropped from the air promising them peace and prosperity under British rule, ‘the recruits (were) being given to understand that they were fighting in a national cause and to liberate their country from the Turks’. Nothing in his early career to this point suggests he had ambitions to serve in a religious office: his interests were those of an Arab nationalist.
Early political activism
In 1919, al-Husseini attended the Pan-Syrian Congress held in Damascus where he supported Emir Faisal for King of Syria. That year al-Husseini founded the pro-British Jerusalem branch of the Syrian-based ‘Arab Club’ (Al-Nadi al-arabi), which then vied with the Nashashibi-sponsored ‘Literary Club’ (al-Muntada al-Adabi) for influence over public opinion, and he soon became its President. At the same time, he wrote articles for theSuriyya al-Janubiyya (Southern Syria). The paper was published in Jerusalem beginning in September 1919 by the lawyer Muhammad Hassan al-Budayri, and edited by Aref al-Aref, both prominent members of al-Nadi al-‘Arabi.
Al-Husseini was a strong supporter of the short-living Arab Kingdom of Syria, established in March 1920. In addition to his support to pan-Arabist policies of King Faisal I, al-Husseini tried to destabilize the British rule in Palestine, which was declared to be part of the Arab Kingdom, even though no authority was exercised in reality.
During the annual Nabi Musa procession in Jerusalem in April 1920, violent rioting broke out in protest at the implementation of the Balfour Declaration which supported the establishment in Palestine of a homeland for the Jewish people. Much damage to Jewish life and property was caused. The Palin Report laid the blame for the explosion of tensions on both sides. Ze’ev Jabotinsky, organiser of Jewish paramilitary defences, received a 15-year sentence. Al-Husseini, then a teacher at the Rashidiya school, near Herod’s Gate in East Jerusalem, was charged with inciting the Arab crowds with an inflammatory speech and sentenced in absentia to 10-years imprisonment by a military court, since by then he had fled to Syria. It was asserted soon after, by Chaim Weizmann and British army Lieutenant Colonel Richard Meinertzhagen, that al-Husseini had been put up to inciting the riot by British Field-marshal Allenby‘s Chief of Staff, Colonel Bertie Harry Waters-Taylor, to demonstrate to the world that Arabs would not tolerate a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The assertion was never proven, and Meinertzhagen was dismissed.
After the April riots an event took place that turned the traditional rivalry between the Husseini and Nashashibi clans into a serious rift, with long-term consequences for al-Husseini and Palestinian nationalism. According to Sir Louis Bols, great pressure was brought to bear on the military administration from Zionist leaders and officials such as David Yellin, to have the Mayor of Jerusalem, Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husayni, dismissed, given his presence in the demonstration of the previous March. Colonel Storrs, the Military Governor of Jerusalem, removed him without further inquiry, replacing him with Raghib al-Nashashibi of the rival Nashashibi clan. This, according to the Palin report, ‘had a profound effect on his co-religionists, definitely confirming the conviction they had already formed from other evidence that the Civil Administration was the mere puppet of the Zionist Organization.’
Until late 1920, al-Husseini focused his efforts on Pan-Arabism and the ideology of the Greater Syria in particular, with Palestine understood as a southern province of an Arab state, whose capital was to be established in Damascus. Greater Syria was to include territory of the entire Levant, now occupied by Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestinian Authority and Israel. The struggle for Greater Syria collapsed after France defeated the Arab forces in Battle of Maysalun in July 1920. The French army entered Damascus at that time, overthrew King Faisal and put an end to the project of a Greater Syria, put under the French Mandate in accordance with the prior Sykes-Picot Agreement. Palestinian notables responded to the disaster by a series of resolutions at the 1921 Haifa conference, which set down a Palestinian framework and passed over in silence the earlier idea of a south confederated with Syria. This framework set the tone of Palestinian nationalism for the ensuing decades.
Al-Husseini, like many of his class and period, then turned from Damascus-oriented Pan-Arabism to a specifically Palestinian ideology, centered on Jerusalem, which sought to block Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine. The frustration of pan-Arab aspirations lent an Islamic colour to the struggle for independence, and increasing resort to the idea of restoring the land to Dar al-Islam. From his election as Mufti until 1923, al-Husseini exercised total control over the secret society, Al-Fida’iyya (The Self-Sacrificers), which, together with al-Ikha’ wal-‘Afaf (Brotherhood and Purity), played an important role in clandestine anti-British and anti-Zionist activities, and, via members in the gendarmerie, had engaged in riotous activities as early as April 1920.
Mufti of Jerusalem
Following the death of Amin’s half-brother, the mufti Kamil al-Husayni in March 1921, the British High Commissioner Sir Herbert Samuel pardoned al-Husseini. He and another Arab had been excluded from the generalamnesty, six weeks earlier, because they had fled before their convictions had been passed down. Elections were then held, and of the four candidates running for the office of Mufti, al-Husseini received the least number of votes, the first three being Nashashibi candidates. Nevertheless, Samuel was anxious to keep a balance between the al-Husseinis and their rival clan the Nashashibis. A year earlier the British had replaced Musa al-Husayni as Mayor of Jerusalem with Ragheb al-Nashashibi. They then moved to secure for the Husseini clan a compensatory function of prestige by appointing one of them to the position of mufti, and, with the support of Ragheb al-Nashashibi and Sheikh Hussam Jārallāh, prevailing upon the Nashashibi front-runner, Sheikh Hussam ad-Din Jarallah, to withdraw. This automatically promoted Amin al-Husseini to third position, which, under Ottoman law, allowed him to qualify, and Samuel then chose him as Mufti. His initial appointment was as Mufti, but when the Supreme Muslim Council was created in the following year, Husseini demanded and received the title Grand Mufti that had earlier been created, perhaps on the lines of Egyptian usage, by the British for his half-brother Kamil. The position came with a life tenure.
In 1922, al-Husseini was elected President of the Supreme Muslim Council which had been created by Samuel in 1921. Matthews argues that the British considered the combinations of his profile as an effective Arab nationalist and a scion of a noble Jerusalem family ‘made it advantageous to align his interests with those of the British administration and thereby keep him on a short tether.’. The Council controlled the Waqf funds, worth annually tens of thousands of pounds and the orphan funds, worth annually about £50,000, as compared to the £600,000 in the Jewish Agency‘s annual budget. In addition, he controlled the Islamic courts in Palestine. Among other functions, these courts were entrusted with the power to appoint teachers and preachers.
The British initially balanced appointments to the Supreme Muslim Council between the Husseinis and their supporters (known as the majlisiya, or council supporters) and the Nashashibis and their allied clans (known as the mu’aridun, the opposition). Themu’aridun, were more disposed to a compromise with the Jews, and indeed had for some years received annual subventions from the Jewish Agency. During most of the period of the British mandate, bickering between these two families seriously undermined any Palestinian Arab unity. In 1936, however, they achieved a measure of concerted policy when all the Palestinian Arab groups joined to create a permanent executive organ known as the Arab Higher Committee under al-Husseini’s chairmanship.
Haram ash-Sharif and the Western Wall
The Supreme Muslim Council and its head al-Husseini, who regarded himself as guardian of one of the three holy sites of Islam, launched an international campaign in Muslim countries to gather funds to restore and improve the Haram ash-Sharif (Noble Sanctuary) or Temple Mount, and particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the shrine Dome of the Rock (which houses the holiest site in Judaism). The whole area required extensive restoration, given the disrepair into which it had fallen from neglect in Ottoman times. Jerusalem was the original direction towards which Muslims prayed, until the Qibla was reorientated towards Mecca by Mohammed in the year 624. Al-Husseini commissioned the Turkish architect Mimar Kemalettin. In restoring the site, al-Husseini was also assisted by the Mandatory power’s Catholic Director of Antiquities, Ernest Richmond. Under Richmond’s supervision, the Turkish architect drew up a plan, and the execution of the works gave a notable stimulus to the revival of traditional artisan arts like mosaic tesselation, glassware production, woodcraft, wickerwork and iron-mongering.
Al-Husseini’s vigorous efforts to transform the Haram into a symbol of pan-Arabic and Palestinian nationalism were intended to rally Arab support against the postwar influx of Jewish immigrants. In his campaigning, al-Husseini often accused Jews of planning to take possession of the Western Wall of Jerusalem, which belonged to the waqf of Abu Madyan as an inalienable property, and rebuild the Temple over the Al-Aqsa Mosque. He took certain statements, for example, by the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine, Abraham Isaac Kook regarding the eventual return in time of the Temple Mount back to Jewish hands, and turned them to a concrete political plot to seize control of the area. Al-Husseini’s intensive work to refurbish the shrine as a cynosure for the Muslim world, and Jewish endeavours to improve their access to, and establish a ritually appropriate ambiance on the plaza by the Western Wall, led to increased conflict between the two communities, each seeing the site only from their own traditional perspective and interests.Zionist narratives pinpointed al-Husseini’s works on, and publicity about, the site and threats to it, as attempts to restore his own family’s waning prestige. Arab narratives read the heightened agitation of certain Jewish groups over the Wall as an attempt to revivediaspora interest in Zionism after some years of relative decline, depression and emigration. Each attempt to make minor alterations to the status quo, still governed by Ottoman law, was bitterly protested before the British authorities by the Muslim authorities. If Muslims could cite an Ottoman regulation of 1912 specifically forbidding objects like seating to be introduced, the Jews could cite testimonies to the fact that before 1914 certain exceptions had been made to improve their access and use of the Wall. The decade witnessed several such episodes of strong friction, and the simmering tensions came to a head in late 1928, only to erupt, after a brief respite, into an explosion of violence a year later.
1929 Palestine Riots
Arab protest delegations against British policy in Palestine during 1929
On 10 August 1928, a constituent assembly convened by the French in Syria was rapidly adjourned when calls were made for a reunification with Palestine. Al-Husseini and Awni Abd al-Hadi met with the Syrian nationalists and they made a joint proclamation for a unified monarchical state under a son of Ibn Sa’ud. On the 26th. the completion of the first stage of restoration work on the Haram’s mosques was celebrated with great pomp, in the presence of representatives from the Muslim countries which had financed the project, the Mandatory authorities, and Abdullah, Emir of Transjordan. A month later, after an article appeared in the Jewish press proposing the purchase and destruction of houses in the Moroccan quarter bordering on the wall to improve pilgrim access and further thereby the ‘Redemption of Israel.’ Soon after, on 23 September, Yom Kippur, a Jewish beadle introduced a screen to separate male and female worshippers at the Wall. Informed by residents in the neighbouring Mughrabi quarter, the waqf authority complained to Harry Luke, acting Chief Secretary to the Government of Palestine, that this virtually changed the lane into a synagogue, and violated the status quo, as had the collapsible seats in 1926. British constables, encountering a refusal, used force to remove the screen, and a jostling clash ensued between worshippers and police.
Zionist allegations that disproportionate force had been employed during what was a solemn occasion of prayer created an outcry throughout the diaspora. Worldwide Jewish protests remonstrated with Britain for the violence exercised at the Wall. The Jewish National Council Vaad Leumi ‘demanded that British administration expropriate the wall for the Jews’. In reply, the Muslims organized a Defence Committee for the Protection of the Noble Buraq, and huge crowd rallies took place on the Al-Aqsa plaza in protest. Work, often noisy, was immediately undertaken on a mosque above the Jewish prayer site. Disturbances such as opening a passage for donkeys to pass through the area, angered worshippers. After intense negotiations, the Zionist organisation denied any intent to take over the whole Haram Ash-Sharif, but demanded the government expropriate and raze the Moroccan quarter. A law of 1924 allowed the British authorities to expropriate property, and fear of this in turn greatly agitated the Muslim community, though the laws of donation of the waqf explicitly disallowed any such alienation. After lengthy deliberation, a White Paper was made public on 11 December 1928 in favour of the status quo.
After the nomination of the new High Commissioner Sir John Chancellor to succeed Lord Plumer in December 1928, the question was re-examined, and in February 1929 legal opinion established that the mandatory authority was within its powers to intervene to ensure Jewish rights of access and prayer. Al-Husseini pressed him for a specific clarification of the legal status quo regarding the Wall. Chancellor mulled weakening the SMC and undermining al-Husseini’s authority by making the office of mufti elective. The Nabi Musa festival of April that year passed without incident, despite al-Husseini’s warnings of possible incidents. Chancellor thought his power was waning, and after conferring with London, admitted to al-Husseini on 6 May that he was impotent to act decisively in the matter. Al-Husseini replied that, unless the Mandatory authorities acted, then, very much like Christian monks protecting their sacred sites in Jerusalem, the sheikhs would have to take infringements of the status quo into their own hands, and personally remove any objects introduced by Jews to the area. Chancellor asked him to be patient, and al-Husseini offered to stop works on the Mount on condition that this gesture not be taken as a recognition of Jewish rights. A change of government in Britain in June led to a new proposal: only Muslim works in the sector near where Jews prayed should be subject to mandatory authorisation: Jews could employ ritual objects, but the introduction of seats and screens would be subject to Muslim authorisation. Chancellor authorised the Muslims to recommence their reconstructive work, while, responding to further Zionist complaints, prevailed on the SMC to stop the raucous Zikr ceremonies in the vicinity of the wall. He also asked the Zionist representatives to refrain from filling their newspapers with attacks on the government and Muslim authorities. Chancellor then departed for Europe where the Mandatory Commission was deliberating.
With Chancellor abroad, and the Zionist Commission itself, with its leader Colonel Frederick Kisch, in Zurich for the 16th. Zionist Congress (attended also by Ze’ev Jabotinsky), the SMC resumed works, confidentially authorised, on the Haram only to be met with outcries from the Jewish press. The administration rapidly published the new rules on 22 July, with a serious error in translation that fueled Zionist reports of a plot against Jewish rights. A protest in London led to a public declaration by a member of the Zionist Commission that Jewish rights were bigger than the status quo, a statement which encouraged in turn Arab suspicions that local agreements were again being overthrown by Jewish intrigues abroad. News that the Zurich Congress, in creating the Jewish Agency on 11 August., had brought unity among Zionists and the world Jewish community, a measure that would greatly increase Jewish investment in British Palestine, set off alarm bells. On 15 August, Tisha B’Av, a day memorializing the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, the revisionist Betar movement, despite Pinhas Rutenberg‘s plea on 8 August to the acting High Commissioner Harry Luke to stop such groups from participating, rallied members from Tel Aviv to join them in the religious commemoration. Kisch, before leaving, had banned Jewish demonstrations in Jerusalem’s Arab quarters. The Betar youth gave the ceremony a strong nationalist tinge by singing the Hatikvah, waving the flag of Israel, and chanting the slogan ‘The Wall is Ours’. The following day coincided with mawlid (or mawsin al-nabi), the anniversary of the birth of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad. Muslim worshippers, after prayers on the esplanade of the Haram, passed through the narrow lane by the Wailing Wall and ripped up prayer books, and kotel notes (wall petitions), without harming however three Jews present. Contacted by Luke, al-Husseini undertook to do his best to maintain calm on the Haram, but could not stop demonstrators from gathering at the Wall.
On 17 August a young Jewish boy was stabbed to death by Arabs while retrieving a football, while an Arab was badly wounded in a brawl with Palestinian Jews. Strongly tied to the anti-Hashemite party, and attacked by supporters of Abdullah in Transjordan for misusing funds marked out for campaigning against France, al-Husseini asked for a visa for himself and Awni Abd al-Hadi to travel to Syria, where the leadership of the Syrian anti-French cause was being contested. Averse to his presence in Syria, the French asked him to put off the journey. Meanwhile, despite Harry Luke’s lecturing journalists to avoid reporting such material, rumors circulated in both communities, of an imminent massacre of Jews by Muslims, and of an assault on the Haram ash-Sharif by Jews. On 21 August a funeral cortège, taking the form of a public demonstration for the dead Jewish boy, wound its way through the old city, with the police blocking attempts to break into the Arab quarters. On the 22nd, Luke convoked representatives of both parties to calm things down, and undersign a joint declaration. Awni Abd al-Hadi and Jamal al-Husayni were ready to recognize Jewish visiting rights at the Wall in exchange for Jewish recognition of Islamic prerogatives at the Buraq. The Jewish representative, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, considered this beyond his brief—which was limited to an appeal for calm—and the Arabs in turn refused. They agreed to pursue their dialogue the following week.
On 23 August, a Friday, two or three Arabs were murdered in the Jewish quarter of Mea Shearim. It was also a day of Muslim prayer. A large crowd, composed of many people from outlying villages, thronged into Jerusalem, many armed with sticks and knives. It is not known whether this was organized by al-Husseini or the result of spontaneous mobilisation. The sermon at Al-Aqsa was to be delivered by another preacher, but Luke prevailed on al-Husseini to leave his home and go to the mosque, where he was greeted as ‘the sword of the faith’ and where he instructed the preacher to deliver a pacific sermon, while sending an urgent message for police reinforcements around the Haram. Deluded by the lenitive address, extremists harangued the crowd, accusing al-Husseini of being an infidel to the Muslim cause. The same violent accusation was launched in Jaffa against sheikh Muzaffir, an otherwise radical Islamic preacher, who gave a sermon calling for calm on the same day. An assault was launched on the Jewish quarter. Violent mob attacks on Jewish communities, fueled by wildfire hearsay about ostensible massacres of Arabs and attempts to seize the Wall, took place over the following days in Hebron, Safed and Haifa. In all, in the killings and subsequent revenge attacks, 136 Arabs and 135 Jews died, while 340 of the latter were wounded, as well as an estimated 240 Arabs.
Two official investigations were subsequently conducted by the British and the League of Nations‘s Mandatory Commission. The former, The Shaw Report, concluded that the incident on 23 August consisted of an attack by Arabs on Jews, but rejected the view that the riots had been premeditated. Al-Husseini certainly played an energetic role in Muslim demonstrations from 1928 onwards, but could not be held responsible for the August riots, even if he had ‘a share in the responsibility for the disturbances’. He had nonetheless collaborated from the 23rd. of that month in pacifying rioters and reestablishing order. The worst outbreaks occurred in areas, Hebron, Safed, Jaffa, and Haifa where his Arab political adversaries were dominant. The root cause of the violent outbreaks lay in the fear of territorial dispossession. In a Note of Reservation, Mr. Harry Snell, who had apparently been swayed by Sir Herbert Samuel‘s son, Edwin Samuel states that, although he was satisfied that the Mufti was not directly responsible for the violence or had connived at it, he believed the Mufti was aware of the nature of the anti-Zionist campaign and the danger of disturbances. He therefore attributed to the Mufti a greater share of the blame than the official report had. The Dutch Vice-Chairman of the Permanent Mandates Commission, M. Van Rees, argued that ‘the disturbances of August 1929, as well as the previous disturbances of a similar character, were, in brief, only a special aspect of the resistance offered everywhere in the East, with its traditional and feudal civilisation, to the invasion of a European civilisation introduced by a Western administration’ but concluded that in his view ‘the responsibility for what had happened must lie with the religious and political leaders of the Arabs’.
Many observers saw al-Husseini as the mastermind behind the riots, accusing him of dispatching secret emissaries to inflame regional passions [citation]. In London, Lord Melchett demanded his arrest for orchestrating all anti-British unrest throughout the Middle East. Consular documentation discarded the plot thesis rapidly, and identified the deeper cause as political, not religious, namely in what the Palin report had earlier identified as profound Arab discontent over Zionism. Arab memoirs on the fitna (troubles) follow a contemporary proclamation for the Defence of the Wall on 31 August, which justified the riots as legitimate, but nowhere mention a coordinated plan. Izzat Darwaza, an Arab nationalist rival of al-Husseini, alone asserts, without details, that al-Husseini was responsible. Al-Husseini in his memoirs never claimed to have played such a role.
The High Commissioner received al-Husseini twice officially on 1 October 1929 and a week later, and the latter complained of pro-Zionist bias in an area where the Arab population still viewed Great Britain favorably. Al-Husseini argued that the weakness of the Arab position was that they lacked political representation in Europe, whereas for millennia, in his view, the Jews dominated with their genius for intrigue. He assured Chancellor of his cooperation in maintaining public order.
Political activities, 1930–1935
By 1928–1929 a coalition of a new Palestinian nationalist group began to challenge the hegemony so far exercised by al-Husseini. The group, more pragmatic, hailed from the landed gentry and from business circles, and was intent on what they considered a policy of more realistic accommodation to the Mandatory government. From this period on, a rift emerged, that was to develop into a feud between the directive elite of Palestinian Arabs.
In 1931, al-Husseini founded the World Islamic Congress, on which he was to serve as president. Versions differ as to whether or not al-Husseini supported Izz ad-Din al-Qassam when he undertook clandestine activities against the British Mandate authorities. His appointment as imam of the al-Istiqlal mosque in Haifa had been approved by al-Husseini. Lachman argues that he secretly encouraged, and perhaps financed al-Qassam at this period. Whatever their relations, the latter’s independent activism, and open challenge to the British authorities appears to have led to a rupture between the two. He vigorously opposed the Qassamites’ exactions against the Christian and Druze communities. By 1935 al-Husseini did take control of one clandestine organization, of whose nature he had not been informed until the preceding year,which had been set up in 1931 by Musa Kazim al-Husayni‘s son, Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni and recruited from the Palestinian Arab Boy Scout movement, called the ‘Holy Struggle’ (al-jihad al-muqaddas). This and another paramilitary youth organization, al-Futuwwah, paralleled the clandestine Jewish Haganah. Rumours, and occasional discovery of caches and shipments of arms, strengthened military preparations on both sides.
1936–39 Arab revolt in Palestine
On 19 April 1936, a wave of protest strikes and attacks against both the British authorities and Jews was unleashed in Palestine. Initially, the riots were led by Farhan al-Sa’di, a militant sheik of the northern al-Qassam group, with links to the Nashashibis. After the arrest and execution of Farhan, al-Husseini seized the initiative by negotiating an alliance with the al-Qassam faction. Apart from some foreign subsidies, including a substantial amount from Fascist Italy, he controlled waqf and orphan funds that generated annual income of about 115,000 Palestine pounds. After the start of the revolt, most of that money was used to finance the activities of his representatives throughout the country. To Italy’s Consul-General in Jerusalem, Mariano de Angelis, he explained in July that his decision to get directly involved in the conflict arose from the trust he reposed in Italian dictator Benito Mussolini‘s backing and promises. Upon al-Husseini’s initiative, the leaders of Palestinian Arab clans formed the Arab Higher Committee under the Mufti’s chairmanship. The Committee called for nonpayment of taxes after 15 May and for a general strike of Arab workers and businesses, demanding an end to the Jewish immigration. The British High Commissioner for Palestine, Sir Arthur Wauchope, responded by engaging in negotiations with al-Husseini and the Committee. The talks, however, soon proved fruitless. Al-Husseini issued a series of warnings, threatening the ‘revenge of God Almighty’ unless the Jewish immigration were to stop, and the general strike began, paralyzing the government, public transportation, Arab businesses and agriculture.
As the time passed, by autumn the Arab middle class had exhausted its resources. Under these circumstances, the Mandatory government was looking for an intermediary who might help persuade the Arab Higher Committee to end the rebellion. Al-Husseini and the Committee rejected King Abdullah of Transjordan as mediator because of his dependence on the British and friendship with the Zionists, but accepted the Iraqi Foreign Minister Nuri as-Said. As Wauchope warned of an impending military campaign and simultaneously offered to dispatch a Royal Commission of Inquiry to hear the Arab complaints, the Arab Higher Committee called off the strike on 11 October. When the promised Royal Commission of Inquiry arrived in Palestine in November, al-Husseini testified before it as chief witness for the Arabs.
In July 1937, British police were sent to arrest al-Husseini for his part in the Arab rebellion, but, tipped off, he managed to escape to the sanctuary of asylum in the Haram. He stayed there for three months, directing the revolt from within. Four days after the assassination of the Acting District Commissioner for that area Lewis Yelland Andrews by Galilean members of the al-Qassam group on 26 September, al-Husseini was deposed from the presidency of the Muslim Supreme Council, the Arab Higher Committee was declared illegal, and warrants for the arrest of its leaders were issued, as being at least ‘morally responsible’, though no proofs existed for their complicity. Of them only Jamal al-Husayni managed to escape to Syria: the remaining five were exiled to theSeychelles. Al-Husseini was not among the indicted but, fearing imprisonment, on 13–14 October, after sliding under cover of darkness down a rope from the Haram’s wall, he himself fled via Jaffa to Lebanon, disguised as a Bedouin, where he reconstituted the committee under his leadership. Al-Husseini’s tactics, his abuse of power to punish other clans, and the killing of political adversaries he considered ‘traitors’, alienated many Palestinian Arabs. One local leader, Abu Shair, told Da’ud al-Husayni, an emissary from Damascus who bore a list of people to be assassinated during the uprising “I don’t work for Husayniya (‘Husayni-ism’) but for wataniya (nationalism).” He remained in Lebanon for two years, under French surveillance in the Christian village ofZouk, but, in October 1939, his deteriorating relationship with the French and Syrian authorities led him to withdraw to the Kingdom of Iraq. By June 1939, after the disintegration of the revolt, Husseini’s policy of killing only proven turncoats changed to one of liquidating all suspects, even members of his own family, according to one intelligence report.
The rebellion itself had lasted until March 1939, when it was finally quelled by British troops. It forced Britain to make substantial concessions to Arab demands. Jewish immigration was to continue but under restrictions, with a quota of 75,000 places spread out over the following five years. On the expiry of this period further Jewish immigration would depend on Arab consent. Besides local unrest, another key factor in bringing about a decisive change in British policy was Nazi Germany’s preparations for a European war, which would develop into a worldwide conflict. In British strategic thinking, securing the loyalty and support of the Arab world assumed an importance .of some urgency. While Jewish support was unquestioned, Arab backing in a new global conflict was by no means assured. By promising to phase out Jewish immigration into Palestine, Britain hoped to win back support from wavering Arabs. Husseini, allied to radical elements in exile, hailing from provincial Palestinian families, convinced the AHC, against moderate Palestinian families who were minded to accept it, to reject the White Paper of 1939, which had recommended an Arab-majority state and an end to building a Jewish national home. The rejection was based on its perceived failure to promise an end to immigration; the land policy it advocated was thought to provide imperfect remedies: and the promised independence appeared to depend on Jewish assent and cooperation. Husseini, who also had personal interests threatened by these arrangements, also feared that acceptance would strengthen the hand of his political opponents in the Palestine national movement, such as the Nashashibis. Schwanitz and Rubin argue that Husseini’s rejectionism was, ironically, the real causal factor for the establishment of the state of Israel.
Neve Gordon writes that al-Husseini regarded all alternative nationalist views as treasonous, opponents became traitors and collaborators, and patronizing or employing Jews of any description illegitimate. From Beirut he continued to issue directives. The price for murdering opposition leaders and peace leaders rose by July to 100 Palestinian pounds: a suspected traitor 25 pounds, and a Jew 10. Notwithstanding this, ties with the Jews were reestablished by leading families such as the Nashashibis, and by the Fahoum of Nazareth.
Ties with the Axis Powers during World War II
Throughout the interwar period, Arab nationalists bore Germany no ill-will, despite its earlier support for the Ottoman Empire. Like many Arab countries, it was perceived as a victim of the post-World War 1 settlement. Hitler himself often spoke of the ‘infamy of Versailles’. Unlike France and Great Britain it had not exercised imperial designs on the Middle East, and its past policy of non-intervention was interpreted as a token of good will. While the scholarly consensus is that Husseini’s motives for supporting the Axis powers and his alliance with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were deeply inflected by anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist ideology from the outset, some scholars, notably Renzo De Felice, deny that the relationship can be taken to reflect a putative affinity of Arab nationalism with Nazi/Fascist ideology, and that men like Husseini chose them as allies for purely strategic reasons, on the grounds that, as Husseini later wrote in his memoirs,’the enemy of your enemy is your friend’. When Husseini eventually met with Hitler and Ribbentrop in 1941, he assured Hitler that ‘The Arabs were Germany’s natural friends because they had the same enemies… namely the English, the Jews, and the Communists’.
In 1933, within weeks of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, the German Consul-General in Palestine, the pro-nazi Heinrich Wolff, sent a telegram to Berlin reporting al-Husseini’s belief that Palestinian Muslims were enthusiastic about the new regime and looked forward to the spread of Fascism throughout the region. Wolff met al-Husseini and many sheiks again, a month later, at Nabi Musa. They expressed their approval of the anti-Jewish boycott in Germany and asked Wolff not to send any Jews to Palestine. Wolff subsequently wrote in his annual report for that year that the Arabs’ political naïvety led them to fail to recognize the link between German Jewish policy and their problems in Palestine, and that their enthusiasm for Nazi Germany was devoid of any real understanding of the phenomenon. The various proposals by Palestinian Arab notables like al-Husseini were rejected consistently over the years out of concern to avoid disrupting Anglo-German relations, in line with Germany’s policy of not imperilling their economic and cultural interests in the region by a change in their policy of neutrality, and respect for British interests. Hitler’s Englandpolitik essentially precluded significant assistance to Arab leaders. Italy also made the nature of its assistance to the Palestinian contingent on the outcome of its own negotiations with Britain, and cut off aid when it appeared that the British were ready to admit the failure of their pro-Zionist policy in Palestine. Al-Husseini’s adversary, Ze’ev Jabotinsky had at the same time cut off Irgun ties with Italy after the passage of antisemitic racial legislation.
Though Italy did offer substantial aid, some German assistance also trickled through. After asking the new German Consul-General, Hans Döhle on 21 July 1937 for support, the Abwehr briefly made an exception to its policy and gave some limited aid. But this was aimed to exert pressure on Britain over Czechoslovakia. Promised arms shipments never eventuated. This was not the only diplomatic front on which al-Husseini was active. A month after his visit to Döhle, he met with the American Consul George Wadsworth(August 1937), to whom he professed his belief that America was remote from imperialist ambitions and therefore able to understand that Zionism ‘represented a hostile and imperialist aggression directed against an inhabited country’. In a further interview with Wadsworth on 31 August, he expressed his fears that Jewish influence in the United States might persuade the country to side with Zionists. In the same period he courted the French government by expressing a willingness to assist them in the region.
Al-Husseini in Iraq
With the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the Iraqi Government complied with a British request to break off diplomatic relations with Germany, interned all German nationals, and introduced emergency measures putting Iraq on a virtual war-footing. A circle of 7 officers opposed this decision and the measures taken. With Nuri as-Said‘s agreement—he wished to persuade al-Husseini of the value of the British White Paper of 1939—they invited al-Husseini to Iraq in October 1939, and he was to play an influential role there in the following two years. A quadrumvirate of four younger generals among the seven, three of whom had served with al-Husseini in World War I, were hostile to the idea of subordinating Iraqi national interests to Britain’s war strategy and requirements. In March 1940, the nationalist Rashid Ali replaced Nuri as-Said. Ali made covert contacts with German representatives in the Middle East, though he was not yet an openly pro-Axis supporter, and al-Husseini’s personal secretary Kemal Hadad acted as a liaison between the Axis powers and these officers. As the European situation for the Allies deteriorated, Husseini advised Iraq to adhere to the letter to their treaty with Great Britain, and avoid being drawn into the war in order to conserve her energies for the liberation of Arab countries. Were Russia, Japan and Italy to side with Germany however, Iraqis should proclaim a revolt in Palestine.
In mid May 1940, despairing of their ability to secure control of Iraq’s oil fields and deny access to Germany, the British turned to the extremist Irgun, approaching one of its commanders, David Raziel, whom they had imprisoned in Mandatory Palestine. They asked him if he would undertake to destroy Iraq’s oil refineries, and thus turn off the spigots to Germany. Raziel agreed on condition he be allowed to “acquire”(kidnap) the Mufti and bring him back to Palestine. The mission plan was changed at the last moment, however, and Raziel died when his plane was shot down by a German fighter.
Al-Husseini used his influence and ties with the Germans to promote Arab nationalism in Iraq. He was among the key promoters of the pan-Arab Al-Muthanna Club, and supported the coup d’état by Rashid Ali in April 1941. The situation of Iraq’s Jews rapidly deteriorated, with extortions and sometimes murders taking place. When the Anglo-Iraqi War broke out, al-Husseini used his influence to issue a fatwa for a holy war against Britain. As the British advanced on the capital, the Farhud pogrom in Baghdad, led by members of the Al-Muthanna Club, which had served as a conduit for German propaganda funding, erupted in June 1941, following the Iraqi defeat and the collapse of Rashid Ali‘s government. The pogrom was rooted in antisemitic incitement during the preceding decade against the backdrop of the conflict between Arabs and Jews in Palestine.
When the war failed for the Iraqis—given its paucity, German and Italian assistance played a negligible role in the war—al-Husseini escaped to Persia (together with Rashid Ali), where he was granted legation asylum first by Japan, and then by Italy. On 8 October, after the occupation of Persia by the Allies and after the new Persian government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi severed diplomatic relations with the Axis powers, al-Husseini was taken under Italian protection and conveyed through Turkey to Axis Europe in an operation organized by Italian Military Intelligence (Servizio Informazioni Militari, or SIM).
In Nazi-occupied Europe
Al-Husseini arrived in Rome on 10 October 1941. He outlined his proposals before Alberto Ponce de Leon. On condition that the Axis powers ‘recognize in principle the unity, independence, and sovereignty, of an Arab state, including Iraq, Syria, Palestine, and Transjordan’, he offered support in the war against Britain and stated his willingness to discuss the issues of ‘the Holy Places, Lebanon, the Suez Canal, and Aqaba‘. The Italian foreign ministry approved al-Husseini’s proposal, recommended giving him a grant of one million lire, and referred him to Benito Mussolini, who met al-Husseini on 27 October. According to al-Husseini’s account, it was an amicable meeting in which Mussolini expressed his hostility to the Jews and Zionism.
Back in the summer of 1940 and again in February 1941, al-Husseini submitted to the Nazi German Government a draft declaration of German-Arab cooperation, containing a clause:
Germany and Italy recognize the right of the Arab countries to solve the question of the Jewish elements, which exist in Palestine and in the other Arab countries, as required by the national and ethnic (völkisch) interests of the Arabs, and as the Jewish question was solved in Germany and Italy.
Encouraged by his meeting with the Italian leader, al-Husseini prepared a draft declaration, affirming the Axis support for the Arabs on 3 November. In three days, the declaration, slightly amended by the Italian foreign ministry, received the formal approval of Mussolini and was forwarded to the German embassy in Rome. On 6 November, al-Husseini arrived in Berlin, where he discussed the text of his declaration with Ernst von Weizsäcker and other German officials. In the final draft, which differed only marginally from al-Husseini’s original proposal, the Axis powers declared their readiness to approve the elimination (Beseitigung) of the Jewish National Home in Palestine.
Haj Amin al-Husseini meeting with Adolf Hitler (December 1941).
On 20 November, al-Husseini met the German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and was officially received by Adolf Hitler on 28 November. He asked Adolf Hitler for a public declaration that ‘recognized and sympathized with the Arab struggles for independence and liberation, and that would support the elimination of a national Jewish homeland’. Hitler refused to make such a public announcement, saying that it would strengthen the Gaullists against the Vichy France, but asked al-Husseini ‘to lock …deep in his heart’ the following points, which Christopher Browning summarizes as follows, that
‘Germany has resolved, step by step, to ask one European nation after the other to solve its Jewish problem, and at the proper time, direct a similar appeal to non-European nations as well’. When Germany had defeated Russia and broken through the Caucasus into the Middle East, it would have no further imperial goals of its own and would support Arab liberation… But Hitler did have one goal. “Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power”. (Das deutsche Ziel würde dann lediglich die Vernichtung des im arabischen Raum unter der Protektion der britischen Macht lebenden Judentums sein). In short, Jews were not simply to be driven out of the German sphere but would be hunted down and destroyed even beyond it.’
Al-Husseini meeting with Muslim volunteers, including the Legion of Azerbaijan, at the opening of the Islamic Central Institute in Berlin on 18 December 1942, during the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha.
A separate record of the meeting was made by Fritz Grobba, who until recently had been the German ambassor to Iraq. His version of the crucial words reads “when the hour of Arab liberation comes, Germany has no interest there other than the destruction of the power protecting the Jews”. Al-Husseini’s own account of this point, as recorded in his diary, is very similar to Grobba’s. According to Amin’s account, however, when Hitler expounded his view that the Jews were responsible for World War I, Marxism and its revolutions, and this was why the task of Germans was to persevere in a battle without mercy against the Jews, he replied: “We Arabs think that Zionism, not the Jews, is the cause of all of these acts of sabotage.”
In December 1942, al-Husseini held a speech at the celebration of the opening of the Islamic Central Institute (Islamische Zentralinstitut) in Berlin, of which he served as honorary chair. In the speech, he harshly criticised those he considered as aggressors against Muslims, namely “Jews, Bolsheviks and Anglo-Saxons.” At the time of the opening of the Islamic Central Institute, there were an estimated 3,000 Muslims in Germany, including 400 German converts. The Islamic Central Institute gave the Muslims in Germany institutional ties to the ‘Third Reich’.
Al-Husseini and the Holocaust
In post-war historiography some attempts have been made to portray Husseini as an architect of the Holocaust, a thesis revived recently by Schwanitz and Rubin. Documents, such as the testimony of Fritz Grobba,confirm that an associate of al-Husseini’s, together with three associates of former Iraqi Prime Minister certainly did visit the Sachsenhausen concentration camp as part of a German secret police “training course” in July 1942. At the time, the Sachsenhausen camp housed large numbers of Jews, but was only transformed into a death camp in the following year. Their tour through the camp presented it as a re-educational institution, and they were shown the high quality of objects made by inmates, and happy Russian prisoners who, reformed to fight Bolshevism, were paraded, singing, in sprightly new uniforms. They left the camp very favourably impressed by its programme of educational indoctrination.
Various sources have repeatedly alleged that he visited other concentration camps, and also the death camps of Auschwitz, Majdanek, Treblinka and Mauthausen, and according to Höpp there is little conclusive documentary evidence to substantiate these other visits. Although some historians have questioned al-Husseini’s knowledge of the Holocaust while it was in progress, Wolfgang G. Schwanitz notes that in his memoirs Husseini recalled that Heinrich Himmler, in the summer of 1943, while confiding some German war secrets, inveighed against Jewish “war guilt”, and revealed the on-going extermination (in Arabic, abadna) of the Jews.
Gilbert Achcar, referring to this meeting with Himmler, observes:
The Mufti was well aware that the European Jews were being wiped out; he never claimed the contrary. Nor, unlike some of his present-day admirers, did he play the ignoble, perverse, and stupid game of Holocaust denial…. His amour-propre would not allow him to justify himself to the Jews….gloating that the Jews had paid a much higher price than the Germans… he cites… : ‘Their losses in the Second World War represent more than thirty percent of the total number of their people …’. Statements like this, from a man who was well placed to know what the Nazis had done … constitute a powerful argument against Holocaust deniers. Husseini reports that Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler … told him in summer 1943 that the Germans had ‘already exterminated more than three million’ Jews: “I was astonished by this figure, as I had known nothing about the matter until then.” …. Thus. in 1943, Husseini knew about the genocide….
The memoir then continues:-
Himmler asked me on the occasion: ‘How do you propose to settle the Jewish question in your country?’ I replied: ‘All we want from them is that they return to their countries of origin.’ He (Himmler) replied: ‘We shall never authorize their return to Germany.’Laurens 2002, p. 469.
By Husseini’s admission therefore he was informed of the Nazi genocide of the Jews certainly by the summer of 1943. Wolfgang G. Schwanitz doubts the sincerity of his surprise since, he argues, Husseini had publicly declared that Muslims should follow the example Germans set for a “definitive solution to the Jewish problem”.
Subsequently, the Mufti declared in November, 1943:
It is the duty of Muhammadans in general and Arabs in particular to … drive all Jews from Arab and Muhammadan countries….Germany is also struggling against the common foe who oppressed Arabs and Muhammadans in their different countries. It has very clearly recognized the Jews for what they are and resolved to find a definitive solution [endgültige Lösung] for the Jewish danger that will eliminate the scourge that Jews represent in the world. ….
At the Nuremberg trials, one of Adolf Eichmann‘s deputies, Dieter Wisliceny, stated that al-Husseini had actively encouraged the extermination of European Jews, and that he had had an elaborate meeting with Eichmann at his office, during which Eichmann gave him an intensive look at the current state of the “Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe” by the Third Reich. These allegations are controversial. A single affidavit by Rudolf Kastner reported that Wisliceny told him that he had overheard Husseini say he had visited Auschwitz incognito in Eichmann’s company. Eichmann denied this at his trial in Jerusalem in 1961. He had been invited to Palestine in 1937 with his superior Hagen by a representative of the Haganah, Feival Polkes, Polkes supported German foreign policy in the Near East and offered to work for them in intelligence. Eichmann and Hagen spent one night in Haifa but were refused a visa to stay any longer. They met Polkes in Cairo instead. Eichmann stated that he had only been introduced to al-Husseini during an official reception, along with all other department heads. The Jerusalem court accepted Wisliceny’s testimony about a key conversation between Eichmann and the mufti, and found as proven that al-Husseini had aimed to implement the Final Solution. Hannah Arendt, who was present at the trial, concluded in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil the evidence for an Eichmann- al-Husseini connection was based on rumour and unfounded.
Rafael Medoff concludes that ‘actually there is no evidence that the Mufti’s presence was a factor at all; the Wisliceny hearsay is not merely uncorroborated, but conflicts with everything else that is known about the origins of the Final Solution.’ Bernard Lewis also called Wisliceny’s testimony into doubt: ‘There is no independent documentary confirmation of Wisliceny’s statements, and it seems unlikely that the Nazis needed any such additional encouragement from the outside.’ Bettina Stangneth called Wisliceny’s claims “colourful stories” that “carry little weight”.
Al-Husseini’s attempts to block Jewish refugees
The Mufti opposed all immigration of Jews into Palestine. The Mufti’s numerous letters appealing to various governmental authorities to prevent Jewish emigration to Palestine have been widely republished and cited as documentary evidence of his collaboration with Nazis and his participative support for their genocidal actions. For instance, Husseini intervened on 13 May 1943, before the meeting with Himmler when he was informed of the Holocaust, with the German Foreign Office to block possible transfers of Jews from Bulgaria, Hungary and Romania, after reports reached him that 4,000 Jewish children accompanied by 500 adults had managed to reach Palestine. He asked that the Foreign Minister “to do his utmost” to block all such proposals and this request was complied with. According to Idith Zertal, none of the documents presented at Eichmann’s trial prove that it was the Mufti’s interference, in these ‘acts of total evil,’ that prevented the children’s rescue. In June 1943 the Mufti recommended to the Hungarian minister that it would be better to send Jews in Hungary to Concentration Camps in Poland rather than let them find asylum in Palestine (it is not entirely clear that the Mufti was aware of the Extermination Camps in Poland, e.g. Auschwitz, at this time). A year later, on 25 July 1944 (when he certainly knew the details about the Nazi program to destroy the Jews) he wrote to the Hungarian foreign minister to register his objection to the release of certificates for 900 Jewish children and 100 adults for transfer from Hungary, fearing they might end up in Palestine. He suggested that if such transfers of population were deemed necessary, then:
I ask your Excellency to permit me to draw your attention to the necessity of preventing the Jews from leaving your country for Palestine, and if there are reasons which make their removal necessary, it would be indispensable and infinitely preferable to send them to other countries where they would find themselves under active control, for example, in Poland, thus avoiding danger and preventing damage.”
Haj Amin al-Husseini and Nazi collaborator Mile Budak in occupied Sarajevo (1943).
Achcar quotes the Mufti’s memoirs about these efforts to influence the Axis powers to prevent emigration of Eastern European Jews to Palestine:
We combatted this enterprise by writing to Ribbentrop, Himmler, and Hitler, and, thereafter, the governments of Italy, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, Turkey, and other countries. We succeeded in foiling this initiative, a circumstance that led the Jews to make terrible accusations against me, in which they held me accountable for the liquidation of four hundred thousand Jews who were unable to emigrate to Palestine in this period. They added that I should be tried as a war criminal in Nurenberg.
In November, 1943 (when he certainly was aware of the genocidal nature of the Nazi Final Solution) the Mufti said:
It is the duty of Muhammadans in general and Arabs in particular to … drive all Jews from Arab and Muhammadan countries….Germany is also struggling against the common foe who oppressed Arabs and Muhammadans in their different countries. It has very clearly recognized the Jews for what they are and resolved to find a definitive solution [endgültige Lösung] for the Jewish danger that will eliminate the scourge that Jews represent in the world. ….
In September 1943, intense negotiations to rescue 500 Jewish children from the Arbe concentration camp collapsed due to the objection of al-Husseini who blocked the children’s departure to Turkey because they would end up in Palestine.
Intervention in Palestine and Operation Atlas
The Mufti collaborated with the Germans in numerous sabotage and commando operations in Iraq, Transjordan, and Palestine, and repeatedly urged the Germans to bomb Tel Aviv and Jerusalem ‘in order to injure Palestinian Jewry and for propaganda purposes in the Arab world’, as his Nazi interlocutors put it. The proposals were rejected as unfeasible. The Italian Fascists envisaged a project to establish him as head of an intelligence centre in North Africa, and he agreed to act as commander of both regular and irregular forces in a future unit flanking Axis troops to carry out sabotage operations behind enemy lines.
Operation ATLAS was one such joint operation. A special commando unit of the Waffen SS was created, composed of three members of the Templer religious sect in Palestine, and two Palestinian Arabs recruited from the Mufti’s associates, Hasan Salama and Abdul Latif (who had edited the Mufti’s Berlin radio addresses). It has been established that the mission, briefed by al-Husseini before departure, aimed at establishing an intelligence-gathering base in Palestine, radioing information back to Germany, and buying support among Arabs in Palestine, recruiting and arming them to foment tensions between Jews and Arabs, disrupting the Mandatory authorities and striking Jewish targets. The plan ended in fiasco: they received a cold reception in Palestine, three of the five infiltrators were quickly rounded up, and the matériel seized. Their air-dropped cargo was found by the British, and consisted of explosives, submachine guns, and dynamite, radio, submachine guns, dynamite, radio equipment, 5,000 Pound sterling, a duplicating machine, a German-Arabic dictionary, and a quantity of poison. Michael Bar-Zohar and Eitan Haber, report that the mission included a plan to poison the Tel Aviv water supply, There is no trace of this poison plot in the standard biographies, Palestinian and Israeli, of Husseini.
Bosniak soldiers of the SS 13 Division, reading Husseini’s pamphletIslam and Judaism
Throughout World War II, al-Husseini worked for the Axis Powers as a broadcaster in propaganda targeting Arab public opinion. He was thereby joined by other Arabs such as Fawzi al-Qawuqji and Hasan Salama. The Mufti was paid “an absolute fortune” of 50,000 marks a month (when a German field marshal was making 25,000 marks a year), the equivalent today of $12,000,000 a year. Walter Winchell called him ‘the Arabian Lord Haw-Haw.’
The Mufti also wrote a pamphlet for the 13th SS Handschar division, translated as Islam i Zidovstvo (Islam and Judaism) which closed with a quotation from Bukhari-Muslim by Abu Khurreira that states:”The Day of Judgement will come, when the Muslims will crush the Jews completely: And when every tree behind which a Jew hides will say: ‘There is a Jew behind me, Kill him!”.
On 1 March 1944, while speaking on Radio Berlin, al-Husseini said: ‘Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights. Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history, and religion. This saves your honor. God is with you.’
Haj Amin el-Husseini reviewing SS 13th Division soldiers from a car
Among the Nazi leadership, the greatest interest in the idea of creating Muslim units under German command was shown by Heinrich Himmer, who viewed the Islamic world as a potential ally against the British Empire and regarded the Nazi-puppet Independent State of Croatia as a ‘ridiculous state’. Himmler had a romantic vision of Islam as a faith ‘fostering fearless soldiers’, and this probably played a significant role in his decision to raise three Muslim divisions under German leadership in the Balkans from Bosnian Muslims and Albanians: the 13th Handschar, the 21st Skanderberg, and the 23rd Kama (Shepherd’s dagger). Riven by interethnic conflict, the region’s Jewish, Croat, Roma, Serb and Muslim communities suffered huge losses of life, Bosnian Muslims losing around 85,000 from a genocidal Chetnik ethnic cleansing operations alone. The Muslims had three options: to join the Croatian Ustaše, or the Yugoslav partisans, or to create local defense units. Following a tradition of service in the old Bosnian regiments of the former Austro-Hungarian army, they chose an alliance with Germany, which promised them autonomy. Husseini, having been petitioned by the Bosnian Muslim leaders, was well informed of their plight. Dissatisfied with low enlistenment, Himmler asked the mufti to intervene. Husseini negotiated, made several requests, mostly ignored by the SS, and conducted several visits to the area. His speeches and charismatic authority proved instrumental in improving enlistment notably. In one speech he declared that:
Those lands suffering under the British and Bolshevist yoke impatiently await the moment when the Axis (powers) will emerge victorious. We must dedicate ourselves to unceasing struggle against Britain -that dungeon of peoples – and to the complete destruction of the British Empire.We must dedicate ourselves to unceasing struggle against Bolshevist Russia because communism is incompatible with Islam.’
One SS officer reporting on impressions from the mufti’s Sarajevo speech said Husseini was reserved about fighting Bolshevism, his main enemies being Jewish settlers in Palestine and the English. During a visit in July 1943 the Mufti said: “The active cooperation of the world’s 400 million Muslims with their loyal friends, the German, can be of decisive influence upon the outcome of the war. You, my Bosnian Muslims, are the first Islamic division [and] serve as an example of the active collaboration….My enemy’s enemy is my friend.”  Himmler in addressing the unit on another occasion declared “Germany [and] the Reich have been friends of Islam for the past two centuries, owing not to expediency but to friendly conviction. We have the same goals.”
In an agreement signed by Husseini and Himmler on May 19, 1943, it was specified that no synthesis of Islam and Nationalism was to take place. Husseini asked that Muslim divisional operations to be restricted to the defense of the Moslem heartland of Bosnia and Herzegovina; that partisans be amnestied if they laid down their arms; that the civilian population not be subject to vexations by troops;that assistance be offered to innocents injured by operations; and that harsh measures like deportations, confiscations of goods, or executions be governed in accordance with the rule of law. The Handschar earned a repute for brutality in ridding north-eastern Bosnia of Serbs and partisans: many local Muslims, observing the violence, were driven to go over to the communist partisans. Once redeployed outside Bosnia, and as the fortunes of war turned, mass defections and desertions took place, and Volksdeutsche were drafted to replace the losses. The mufti blamed the mass desertions on German support for the Četniks. Many Bosnians in these divisions who survived the war sought asylum in Western and Arab countries, and of those settling in the Middle East, many fought in Palestine against the new state of Israel. In 1942, al-Husseini helped organize Arab students and North African emigres in Germany into the “Arabisches Freiheitkorps,” an Arab Legion in the German Army that hunted down Allied parachutists in the Balkans and fought on the Russian front.
Activities after World War II
Arrest and flight
After the end of the Second World War, al-Husseini attempted to obtain asylum in Switzerland but his request was refused. He was taken into custody at Constanz by the French occupying troops on 5 May 1945, and on 19 May, he was transferred to the Paris region and put under house arrest.
At around this time, the British head of Palestine’s Criminal Investigation Division told an American military attaché that the Mufti might be the only person who could unite the Palestinian Arabs and ‘cool off the Zionists’.
Henri Ponsot, a former ambassador of France in Syria, led the discussions with him and had a decisive influence on the events. The French authorities expected an improvement in France’s status in the Arab world through his intermediaries and accorded him “special detention conditions, benefits and ever more important privileges and constantly worried about his well-being and that of his entourage”. In October, he was even given permission to buy a car in the name of one of his secretaries and enjoyed some freedom of movement and could also meet whoever he wanted. Al-Husseini proposed to the French two possibilities of cooperation: ‘either an action in Egypt, Iraq and even Transjordan to calm the anti-French excitement after the events in Syria and because of its domination in North Africa; or that he would take the initiative of provocations in [Palestine], in Egypt and in Iraq against Great Britain’, so that the Arabs countries will pay more attention to British policy than to that of France. Al-Husseini was very satisfied with his situation in France and stayed there for a full year.
As early as 24 May, Great Britain requested al-Husseini’s extradition, arguing that he was a British citizen who had collaborated with the Nazis. Despite the fact that he was on the list of war criminals, France decided to consider him as a political prisoner and refused to comply with the British request. France also refused to extradite him to Yugoslavia where the government wanted to prosecute him for the massacres of Serbs. Poussot believed al-Husseini’s claims that the massacre of Serbs had been performed by General Mikhailovitch and not by him. Al-Husseini also explained that 200,000 Muslims and 40,000 Christians had been assassinated by the Serbs and that he had established a division of soldiers only after Bosnian Muslims had asked for his help, and that Germans and Italians had refused to provide any support to them. In the meantime, Zionist representatives—fearing that al-Husseini would escape—backed Yugoslavia’s request for extradition. They stated that al-Husseini was also responsible for massacres in Greece and pointed out his action against the Allies in Iraq in 1941; additionally they requested the support of the United States in the matter.
The reputation of Haj Amin al-Husseini among Jews in the immediate postwar period is indicated by the observation by Raul Hilberg that when culpability for the destruction of the European Jews was debated in 1945, al-Husseini was the only specific individual singled out to be put on trial. In June, Yishuv leaders decided to eliminate al-Husseini. Although al-Husseini was located by Jewish Army members who began to plan an assassination, the mission was canceled in December by Moshe Sharett or by David Ben-Gurion, probably because they feared turning the Grand Mufti into a martyr.
A campaign of intimidation was launched to convince the mufti that at Léon Blum’s request he would be handed over to the British. In September, the French decided to organize his transfer to an Arab country. Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Yemen were considered and diplomatic contacts were made with their authorities and with the Arab League.
On 29 May, after an influential Moroccan had organized his escape, and the French police had suspended their surveillance, al-Husseini left France on a TWA flight for Cairo using travel papers supplied by a Syrian politician who was close to the Muslim brotherhood. It took more than 12 days for the French Foreign Minister to realize he had fled, and the British were not able to arrest him in Egypt, after that country granted him political asylum.
On 12 August 1947, al-Husseini wrote to French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault, thanking France for its hospitality and suggesting that France continue this policy to increase its prestige in the eyes of all Muslims. In September, a delegation of the Arab Higher Committee went to Paris and proposed that Arabs would adopt a neutral position on the North African question in exchange of France’s support in the Palestinian question.
1948 Palestine war
The U.N. Partition Resolution
When the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine delivered its recommendations for the partition of Palestine, the High Commissioner of Palestine, Alan Cunningham sent emissaries to Cairo to sound out the Mufti, though transferring any power of state to him was unthinkable. Interviewed on the Ist of September, he said that the proposed partition was unjust, since it deprived the Arabs of Palestine of what belonged to them, and would not satisfy in any case the Zionists, who desired all of the country. He cited the example of Chaim Weizmann, who opposed the idea of a Jewish state in 1922, approved partition in 1937, and at the Biltmore Conference in 1942, laid claim to the whole of Palestine. It was said of Hitler, he added, that he would never try to apply the ideas he set forth in Mein Kampf. The Zionists, he asserted, would never restrict their programme to a part of Palestine, for l’appétit vient en mangeant(the more you get the more you want). The English would never have ceded a part of their country in exchange for peace with the Nazis. Zionism was a bluff like Italian fascism, which would collapse at the first shock.
The wartime reputation of Haj Amin al-Husseini was employed as an argument for the establishment of a Jewish State during the deliberations at UN in 1947. The Nation Associates under Freda Kirchwey prepared a nine page pamphlet with annexes for the United Nations entitled The Arab Higher Committee, Its Origins, Personnel and Purposes. This booklet included copies of communications between Haj Amin al-Husseini and high ranking Nazis (e.g. Heinrich Himmler, Franz von Papen, Joseph Goebbels), the Mufti’s diary account of meeting Hitler, several letters to German officials in several countries where he requested that Jews never be permitted to emigrate from Europe to a Jewish Home in Palestine, and many photographs of the Mufti, Rashid Ali, and other Arab politicians in the company of Nazis and their Italian and Japanese allies. It claimed to demonstrate that German Nazis and Palestinian politicians (some of whom were requesting recognition at the UN in 1947 as representatives of the Palestinian Arab population) had made common cause during World War II in their opposition to the establishment of a Jewish State in Palestine. In May 1948, the Israeli government thanked Kirchwey for “having a good and honorable share of our success”, at least partly as a consequence of distributing information on al-Husseini to the UN representatives.
On the eve of the United Nations’ partition of Mandatory Palestine, King Abdullah, who shared with Zionists a hostility to Palestinian nationalism, reached a secret entente with Golda Meir to thwart the mufti and annex the part of Palestine in exchange for Jordan’s dropping its opposition to the establishment of a Jewish state. The meeting, in Shlaim’s words, ‘laid the foundations for a partition of Palestine along lines radically different from the ones eventually envisaged by the United Nations’. Husseini’s popularity in the Arab world had risen during his time with the Nazis, and Arab leaders rushed to greet him on his return, and the masses accorded him an enthusiastic reception, an attitude which was to change rapidly after the defeat of 1948, when he was singled out as a scapegoat to blame for the failure.
From his Egyptian exile, al-Husseini used what influence he had to encourage the participation of the Egyptian military in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. He was involved in some high level negotiations between Arab leaders—before and during the War—at a meeting held in Damascus in February 1948, to organize Palestinian Field Commands and the commanders of the Holy War Army. Hasan Salama and Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni (Amin al-Husseini’s nephew), were allocated the Lydda district and Jerusalem respectively. This decision paved the way for undermining the Mufti’s position among the Arab States. On 9 February 1948, four days after the Damascus meeting, he suffered a severe setback at the Arab League‘s Cairo session, when his demands for more Palestinian self-determination in areas evacuated by the British, and for financial loans were rejected. His demands included, the appointment of a Palestinian Arab representative to the League’s General Staff, the formation of a Palestinian Provisional Government, the transfer of authority to local National Committees in areas evacuated by the British, and both a loan for Palestinian administration and an appropriation of large sums to the Arab Higher Executive for Palestinian Arabs entitled to war damages.
The Arab League blocked recruitment to al-Husseini’s forces, and they collapsed following the death of one of his most charismatic commanders, Abd al-Qadir al-Husayni, on 8 April 1948.
Anwar Nusseibeh, a supporter of the Mufti, said the Mufti refused to issue arms to anyone except his loyal supporters and only recruited loyal supporters for the forces of the Holy War Army. This partially accounts for the absence of an organized Arab force and for the insufficient amount of arms, which plagued the Arab defenders of Jerusalem.
Establishment of All-Palestine Government
Following rumors that King Abdullah I of Transjordan was reopening the bilateral negotiations with Israel that he had previously conducted clandestinely with the Jewish Agency, the Arab League—led by Egypt—decided to set up the All-Palestine Government in Gaza on 8 September 1948, under the nominal leadership of al-Husseini. Avi Shlaim writes:
‘The decision to form the Government of All-Palestine in Gaza, and the feeble attempt to create armed forces under its control, furnished the members of the Arab League with the means of divesting themselves of direct responsibility for the prosecution of the war and of withdrawing their armies from Palestine with some protection against popular outcry. Whatever the long-term future of the Arab government of Palestine, its immediate purpose, as conceived by its Egyptian sponsors, was to provide a focal point of opposition to Abdullah and serve as an instrument for frustrating his ambition to federate the Arab regions with Transjordan’.
The All-Palestine Government was declared in Gaza on 22 September, in a way as a countermeasure against Jordan. According to Moshe Ma’oz this was “a mere tool to justify Cairo’s occupation of the Gaza Strip”  Pre-conference by the Arab League obtained an agreement to have Ahmad Hilma Pasha preside over the government, while giving al-Husseini a nominal role, devoid of responsibilities. A Palestinian National Council was convened in Gaza on 30 September 1948, under the chairmanship of Amin al-Husseini. On 30 September, al-Husseini was elected unanimously as President, but had no authority outside the areas controlled by Egypt. The council passed a series of resolutions culminating on 1 October 1948 with a declaration of independence over the whole of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital.
The All-Palestine Government was hence born under the nominal leadership of Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, named as its President. Ahmed Hilmi Abd al-Baqi was named Prime Minister. Hilmi’s cabinet consisted largely of relatives and followers of Amin al-Husseini, but also included representatives of other factions of the Palestinian ruling class. Jamal al-Husayni became foreign minister, Raja al-Husayni became defense minister, Michael Abcarius was finance minister, and Anwar Nusseibeh was secretary of the cabinet. Twelve ministers in all, living in different Arab countries, headed for Gaza to take up their new positions. The decision to set up the All-Palestine Government made the Arab Higher Committee irrelevant, but Amin al-Husseini continued to exercise an influence in Palestinian affairs.
Jordan’s Abdullah retaliated on 2 October by organizing a Palestinian congress, which countermanded the decision taken in Gaza. Abdullah regarded the attempt to revive al-Husseini’s Holy War Army as a challenge to his authority and on 3 October, his minister of defense ordered all armed bodies operating in the areas controlled by the Arab Legion to be disbanded. Glubb Pasha carried out the order ruthlessly and efficiently. Nonetheless, Egypt, which manipulated its formation, recognized the All-Palestine Government on 12 October, followed by Syria and Lebanon on 13 October, Saudi Arabia the 14th and Yemen on the 16th. Iraq’s decision to the same was made formally on the 12th, but was not made public. Both Great Britain and the US backed Jordan, the US saying that the mufti’s role in World War II could be neither forgotten nor pardoned. The sum effect was that:
‘The leadership of al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Arab Higher Committee, which had dominated the Palestinian political scene since the 1920s, was devastated by the disaster of 1948 and discredited by its failure to prevent it.’
The nakba narratives, according to Hillel Cohen, tend to ignore the open resistance to al-Husseini by many influential Palestinians. A member of the Darwish family on expressing dissent with Husseini’s war objective in favour of negotiation was told by the mufti: idha takalam al-seif, uskut ya kalam—’when the sword talks, there is no place for talking’. Many recalled his policy of assassinating mukhtars in the Revolt of 1936–39 and viewed Husseini and his kind as ‘an assembly of traitors’. The opposition of a relevant percentage of the Palestinian society to al-Husseini goes back to an earlier period and was also connected to the British way of dealing with the local majority: ‘The present administration of Palestine’, lamented for example the representatives of the Palestine Arab Delegation in a letter to British public opinion in 1930, ‘is appointed by His Majesty’s Government and governs the country through an autocratic system in which the population has no say’.
Exile from Palestine
Although al-Husseini had been removed from the Supreme Muslim Council and other administrative roles by the British government in 1937, they did not remove him from the post of mufti of Jerusalem. They later explained this as due to the lack of legal procedure or precedent. However, on December 20, 1948, Abdullah announced his replacement as mufti by his long-term rival Husam Al-din Jarallah.
The king was assassinated on 20 July 1951, on the eve of projected secret talks with Israel, by a militant, Mustafa Ashu, of the jihad al-muqaddas, while entering the Haram ash-Sharif to pray. There is no evidence al-Husseini was involved, though Musa al-Husayni was among the six indicted and executed after a disputed verdict. Abdullah was succeeded by King Talal—who refused to allow al-Husseini entry into Jerusalem. Abdullah’s grandson, Hussein, who had been present at the murder, eventually lifted the ban in 1967, receiving al-Husseini as an honoured guest in his Jerusalem royal residence after uprooting the PLO from Jordan.
The Palestinian Government was entirely relocated to Cairo in late October 1948 and became a government-in-exile, gradually losing any importance. Having a part in the All-Palestine Government, al-Husseini also remained in exile at Heliopolis in Egypt throughout much of the 1950s. As before 1948, when the Yishuv believed the ex-Mufti’s hand could be detected ‘behind every anti-Jewish pogrom, murder, and act of sabotage’, Israel persisted in asserting that al-Husseini was behind many border raids from Jordanian and Egyptian-held territory, and Egypt expressed a readiness to deport him if evidence were forthcoming to substantiate the charges. The All-Palestine Government was eventually dissolved in 1959 by Nasser himself, who envisaged a United Arab Republicembracing Syria, Egypt and Palestine. That year he moved to Lebanon. He refused requests to lend his support to the emergent PLO after the Six Day War of 1967, was opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state on the west Bank after 1967. and his closest collaborator, Emil Ghuri, continued to work for the Jordanian monarchy even after the massacre of Palestinians there in 1970.
Al-Husseini died in Beirut, on 4 July 1974. He had wished to be buried on the Haram ash-Sharif in Jerusalem. However, Israel had captured East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. The Supreme Muslim Council asked the Israeli government permission to bury him there but permission was refused. Three days later, al-Husseini was buried in Beirut. Within two years, the Christian Lebanese Phalange sacked his villa, and stole his files and archives. His granddaughter married Ali Hassan Salameh, the founder of PLO’sBlack September, who was later killed by Mossad for his involvement in the Munich massacre. According to Zvi Elpeleg, almost all trace of his memory thereafter vanished from Palestinian awareness, and Palestinians have raised no monument to his memory, or written books commemorating his deeds.
Amin al-Husseini and antisemitism
Al-Husseini’s first biographer, Moshe Pearlman, described him as virulently antisemitic, as did, a decade and a half later, Joseph Schechtman. More recent biographers like Mattar and Elpeleg, writing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, began to emphasize hisnationalism. While the Palestinian historian Mattar blames him as the main culprit of sowing the seeds of the Arab–Israeli conflict, Israeli historian Elpeleg compares him to Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, and even to Theodor Herzl. Peter Wien judges that his behaviour in World War II deserved the image among Zionists of him as an ‘arch villain’, but adds that Israeli and Zionist leaders have long since used this to denigrate the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation as inspired by Nazism and anti-semitism.
Scholarly opinion is divided on the issue, with many scholars viewing him as a staunch antisemite while some deny the appropriateness of the term, or argue that he became antisemitic. Robert Kiely sees Husseini as moving “incrementally toward anti-Semitism as he opposed Jewish ambitions in the region.” Historian Zvi Elpeleg, who formerly governed both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, while rehabilitating him from other charges, concludes his chapter concerning al-Husseini’s involvement in the extermination of the Jews as follows:
‘[i]n any case, there is no doubt that Haj Amin’s hatred was not limited to Zionism, but extended to Jews as such. His frequent, close contacts with leaders of the Nazi regime cannot have left Haj Amin any doubt as to the fate which awaited Jews whose emigration was prevented by his efforts. His many comments show that he was not only delighted that Jews were prevented from emigrating to Palestine, but was very pleased by the Nazis’ Final Solution’.
Walter Laqueur, Benny Morris, Klaus-Michael Mallmann and Martin Cüppers are among the historians who share the view that al-Husseini was biased against Jews, not just against Zionists. Morris, for instance, notes that al-Husseini saw the Holocaust as German revenge for a putative Jewish sabotaging of their war effort in World War I, and has written that “Haj Amin al-Husseini was an antisemite. This is clear from his writings. I am not saying he was just an anti-Zionist, he hated the Jews, ‘Jews were evil'”.In a study dedicated to the role and use of the Holocaust in Israeli nationalist discourse, Idith Zertal reexamining al-Husseini’s antisemitism, states that ‘in more correct proportions, [he should be pictured] as a fanatic nationalist-religious Palestinian leader’.
Evaluations of Husseini’s historical significance
Robert Fisk, discussing the difficulties of describing al-Husseini’s life and its motivations, summarized the problem in the following way:
‘(M)erely to discuss his life is to be caught up in the Arab–Israeli propaganda war. To make an impartial assessment of the man’s career—or, for that matter, an unbiased history of the Arab–Israeli dispute—is like trying to ride two bicycles at the same time.’
Peter Novick has argued that the post-war historiographical depiction of al-Husseini reflected complex geopolitical interests that distorted the record.
‘The claims of Palestinian complicity in the murder of the European Jews were to some extent a defensive strategy, a preemptive response to the Palestinian complaint that if Israel was recompensed for the Holocaust, it was unjust that Palestinian Muslims should pick up the bill for the crimes of European Christians. The assertion that Palestinians were complicit in the Holocaust was mostly based on the case of the Mufti of Jerusalem, a pre-World War II Palestinian nationalist leader who, to escape imprisonment by the British, sought refuge during the war in Germany. The Mufti was in many ways a disreputable character, but post-war claims that he played any significant part in the Holocaust have never been sustained. This did not prevent the editors of the four-volume Encyclopedia of the Holocaust from giving him a starring role. The article on the Mufti is more than twice as long as the articles on Goebbels and Göring, longer than the articles on Himmler and Heydrich combined, longer than the article on Eichmann—of all the biographical articles, it is exceeded in length, but only slightly, by the entry for Hitler.’
In 2014 Schwanitz and Rubin claimed Husseini exercised a huge influence on Hitler and was indeed the architect of the Final Solution, a thesis Mikics, who regards Husseini as a ‘radical anti-semite, finds both ‘astonishing’ and ‘silly’, since it would logically entail the collateral thesis that the Zionist movement triggered the Holocaust.
Gilbert Achcar sums up al-Husseini’s significance:
“One must note in passing that Amin al-Husseini’s memoirs are an antidote against Holocaust denial: He knew that the genocide took place and boasted of having been perfectly aware of it from 1943 on. I believe he is an architect of the Nakba (the defeat of 1948 and the departure of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who had been driven out of their lands) in the sense that he bears a share of responsibility for what has happened to the Palestinian people.”
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Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) demanded yesterday that the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler make public the details of the proposed net neutrality regulations that will regulate the Internet under the same rules as the old AT&T monopoly.
Chaffetz also asked the FCC Chair to appear and answer questions at the House Oversight hearing Wednesday, prior to the planned Agency vote on the draft rules now scheduled for Thursday.
The 332-page final draft FCC order was only delivered to the four other FCC commissioners three weeks ago. When Wheeler delivered the document, he took the unusual step of issuing a “gag order” to prevent its release before the FCC vote.
The FCC was forced to revisit “net neutrality” rules because the agency’s egregious 2010 effort at writing “Open Internet Rules” was thrown out in January 2014 by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Verizon v. FCC. Although the appeals court agreed the FCC had the authority to regulate broadband services, they rejected the FCC’s potentially biased micro-managing of the Internet.
Chairman Wheeler tried to ramrod President Obama’s net neutrality proposal through the FCC on May 15, 2014. It was understood at the time that Wheeler was trying to maximize FCC breadth for the new rules by basing the legal authority of his proposal on parts of both Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. But the day before the meeting, his fellow Democratic Commissioners, Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn, pushed back on the rush to regulate after being bombarded by consumers who wanted to preserve an open Internet.
In a blog post at the time, Commissioner Clyburn noted, “over 100,000 Americans have spoken” via email, calls and letters. Commissioner Rosenworcel added that she also wanted the FCC to delay consideration of the rules after the torrent of public response.
Breitbart reported on February 9 in “Republican FCC Member Warns Net Neutrality is Not Neutral” that Ajit Pai, as one of two Republican Commissioners on the FCC, tweeted, “I wish the public could see what’s inside.” Pai included a selfie of himself holding the huge document in front of a picture of Obama. The posture of the photo was clearly meant to depict the president as George Orwell’s “Big Brother.”
Pai later released a statement: “President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works,” he said. “The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”
The Breitbart article generated over 4,600 comments and set off a firestorm on the Drudge Report as the public realized that the FCC process seemed fundamentally biased due to a lack of transparency and full disclosure prior to such an important regulatory vote. The public was also incensed that the free-for-all Internet was about to be subject to up to $16 billion a year in FCC user taxes and fees.
Congressman Chaffetz also sent Wheeler a letter questioning whether the FCC had been “independent, fair and transparent” in fashioning the rules to supposedly protect Internet content. “Although arguably one of the most sweeping new rules in the commission’s history, the process was conducted without using many of the tools at the chairman’s disposal to ensure transparency and public review,” Chaffetz added.
Representative Chaffetz included in the letter that there is a precedent for the FCC Chairman to make rules public before a vote. In 2007, Chairman Kevin Martin released to the public new media ownership rules, and the entire FCC testified in a House hearing prior to the final vote.
An elected official who supported the FCC postponement in 2007, Chaffetz notes, was Senator Barack Obama. “He specifically noted while a certain proposal ‘may pass the muster of a federal court, Congress and the public have the right to review any specific proposal and decide whether or not it constitutes sound policy. And the commission has the responsibility to defend any new proposal in public discourse and debate.”
With political fireworks going off yesterday, Republican FCC commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Ajit Pai late in the day asked Wheeler to postpone Thursday’s vote and release the draft Internet regulatory proposal for a 30 day public comment period.
Dear FCC: Rethink The Vague “General Conduct” Rule
BY CORYNNE MCSHERRY
For many months, EFF has been working with a broad coalition of advocates to persuade the Federal Communications Commission to adopt new Open Internet rules that would survive legal scrutiny and actually help protect the Open Internet. Our message has been clear from the beginning: the FCC has a role to play, but its role must be firmly bounded.
Two weeks ago, we learned that we had likely managed the first goal—the FCC is going to do the right thing and reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, giving it the ability to make new, meaningful Open Internet rules. But we are deeply concerned that the FCC’s new rules will include a provision that sounds like a recipe for overreach and confusion: the so-called “general conduct rule.”
According to the FCC’s own “Fact Sheet,” the proposed rule will allow the FCC to review (and presumably punish) non-neutral practices that may “harm” consumers or edge providers. Late last week, as the window for public comment was closing, EFF filed a letter with the FCC urging it to clarify and sharply limit the scope of any “general conduct” provision:
[T]he Commission should use its Title II authority to engage in light-touch regulation, taking great care to adhere to clear, targeted, and transparent rules. A “general conduct rule,” applied on a case-by- case basis with the only touchstone being whether a given practice “harms” consumers or edge providers, may lead to years of expensive litigation to determine the meaning of “harm” (for those who can afford to engage in it). What is worse, it could be abused by a future Commission to target legitimate practices that offer significant benefits to the public . . .
Accordingly, if the Commission intends to adopt a “general conduct rule” it should spell out, in advance, the contours and limits of that rule, and clarify that the rule shall be applied only in specific circumstances.
Unfortunately, if a recent report from Reuters is correct, the general conduct rule will be anything but clear. The FCC will evaluate “harm” based on consideration of seven factors: impact on competition; impact on innovation; impact on free expression; impact on broadband deployment and investments; whether the actions in question are specific to some applications and not others; whether they comply with industry best standards and practices; and whether they take place without the awareness of the end-user, the Internet subscriber.
There are several problems with this approach. First, it suggests that the FCC believes it has broad authority to pursue any number of practices—hardly the narrow, light-touch approach we need to protect the open Internet. Second, we worry that this rule will be extremely expensive in practice, because anyone wanting to bring a complaint will be hard-pressed to predict whether they will succeed. For example, how will the Commission determine “industry best standards and practices”? As a practical matter, it is likely that only companies that can afford years of litigation to answer these questions will be able to rely on the rule at all. Third, a multi-factor test gives the FCC an awful lot of discretion, potentially giving an unfair advantage to parties with insider influence.
We are days away from a final vote, and it appears that many of the proposed rules will make sense for the Internet. Based on what we know so far, however, the general conduct proposal may not. The FCC should rethink this one.
FCC Chair Refuses to Testify before Congress ahead of Net Neutrality Vote
by ANDREW JOHNSON February 25, 2015 10:19 AM
Two prominent House committee chairs are “deeply disappointed” in Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler for refusing to testify before Congress as “the future of the Internet is at stake.”
Wheeler’s refusal to go before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday comes on the eve of the FCC’s vote on new Internet regulations pertaining to net neutrality. The committee’s chairman, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), and Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton (R., Mich.) criticized Wheeler and the administration for lacking transparency on the issue.
“So long as the chairman continues to insist on secrecy, we will continue calling for more transparency and accountability at the commission,” Chaffetz and Upton said in a statement. “Chairman Wheeler and the FCC are not above Congress.”
The vote on the new Internet regulations is scheduled for Thursday. The FCC’s two Republican commissioners have asked Wheeler to delay the vote to allow more time for review. The changes would allow the commission to regulate the Internet like a public utility, setting new standards that require the provision of equal access to all online content.
President Obama Urges FCC to Implement Stronger Net Neutrality Rules
President Obama today asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take up the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality, the principle that says Internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all internet traffic equally.
The President has been a strong and consistent advocate of net neutrality since his first presidential campaign.
President Obama’s plan would reclassify consumer broadband services under what’s known as Title II of the Telecommunications Act. It would serve as a “basic acknowledgement of the services ISPs provide to American homes and businesses, and the straightforward obligations necessary to ensure the network works for everyone – not just one or two companies.”
The plan involves four commonsense steps that some service providers already observe:
No blocking. If a consumer requests access to a website or service, and the content is legal, your ISP should not be permitted to block it. That way, every player—not just those commercially affiliated with an ISP — gets a fair shot at your business.
No throttling. Nor should ISPs be able to intentionally slow down some content or speed up others — through a process often called “throttling”—based on the type of service or your ISP’s preferences.
Increased transparency. The connection between consumers and ISPs — the so-called “last mile” — is not the only place some sites might get special treatment. So, I am also asking the FCC to make full use of the transparency authorities the court recently upheld, and if necessary to apply net neutrality rules to points of interconnection between the ISP and the rest of the Internet.
No paid prioritization. Simply put: No service should be stuck in a “slow lane” because it does not pay a fee. That kind of gatekeeping would undermine the level playing field essential to the Internet’s growth. So, as I have before, I am asking for an explicit ban on paid prioritization and any other restriction that has a similar effect.
Ultimately, the FCC is an independent agency and the decision is theirs alone. But President Obama believes his plan is the best way to safeguard the incredible resource the Internet has become for all of us — so that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company has the same chance to succeed as established corporation’s, and so that access to a high school student’s blog isn’t unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.
Nearly 4 million public comments were submitted to the FCC as part of the latest comment period, with overwhelming support for the principles the President is calling for.
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Story 3: The Hostile Takeover Of The Internet by Obama — More Taxes, More Regulation, More Control of Freedom of Speech, More Government Intervention into Business — Abolish The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) — Do Not Mess With The Internet — Videos
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The Truth About Net Neutrality
Advocates say that Net Neutrality means guaranteeing free speech on the Internet. Without it, big telecoms could control what you see and how you see it. But what is the truth about Net Neutrality?
2:00 – Brief Technical Introduction
9:20 – Major Concerns
14:53 – Monopoly History
35:57 – ISP Foul Play
48:05 – Event Timeline
1:02:08 – FCC Corruption
1:09:36 – Conclusions
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 Henderson: ‘Net Neutrality won’t work’; Ebeling: ‘The Fed distorts resource allocation’
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NET NEUTRALITY: Blackburn Discusses on Glenn Beck Program
The Fallacy of Net Neutrality: Thomas Hazlett on the FCC & Consumer Protection
“I’m very confident a hundred years from now we won’t have an FCC,” says Thomas Hazlett, Reason contributor and George Mason economics professor.
Internet service providers are coming under scrutiny from both the FCC and net neutrality supporters who want to ensure unrestricted consumer access to the Web. However, Hazlett points out that the fear over ISPs limiting Web content is unfounded and government “has no idea what the optimal business model is” to effectively regulate.
Hazlett sat down with Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie to discuss net neutrality, the Internet, and and his Encounters Broadside book “The Fallacy of Net Neutrality.”
Hank vs. Hank: The Net Neutrality Debate in 3 Minutes
On Net Neutrality, Time to Regulate the Regulators
by THE EDITORS
The Federal Communications Commission’s decision to effectively convert broadband Internet providers into regulated utility companies, stifling both technological innovation and consumer choice, is the latest example of the footrace dynamic that will dominate national domestic politics from now until January 2016: The Obama administration — or one of its purportedly independent enablers in the FCC and other federal agencies — announces sweeping and unilateral regulatory change, and the Republican-controlled legislative branch hustles to outmaneuver it. Given the respective timelines involved in executive fiat and lawmaking, the administration will almost always have a head start — but that should not stop Congress from catching up as quickly as possible.
At issue here is the question of “net neutrality,” an increasingly elastic term describing how an Internet service provider (ISP) treats any given packet of data moving through its network. On one side of the ideological divide, partisans of “neutrality” insist that every packet be treated in precisely the same way as every other packet, that none be given priority. On the other side is reality, in which the bandwidth demands of sending an e-mail from a home computer are different from those of streaming live video to a wireless device. That Netflix, for example, should be permitted to pay an Internet service provider to fast-lane its videos is, for the ideological neutralists, the first step toward another one of those science-fiction corporate dystopias that the anti-capitalists keep promising us, in this case one in which every Internet service provider becomes a “walled garden” in which consumers are hostage to the self-interested caprices of their ISPs, and therefore customers of an ISP that has an arrangement with Facebook might be relegated to pokey service when trying to use Instagram — or be blocked entirely from accessing certain Facebook competitors.
Internet users will notice that that hasn’t happened, and hasn’t shown any likelihood of happening, despite the absence of FCC regulations forbidding it. Even in the settings that most resemble “walled gardens” — for example, in-flight Internet services that do allow providers to enjoy absolute monopoly, for the duration of the flight at least — the trend has been in the opposite direction: When consumers made it clear that they were annoyed by Gogo’s unwillingness to support YouTube and streaming-video services, new products (notably services provided by the airlines themselves) came into the market to meet consumers’ demand for being able to while away that ORD–JFK segment watching funny cat videos.
The FCC’s move, then, is a typical federal regulatory enterprise: a non-solution to a non-problem.
While mainly motivated by a naïve ideological enthusiasm, net-neutrality activists fear, not without some reason, that the dominant operating model for ISPs will be something like that of cable-television providers. (Indeed, many cable-television providers are ISPs.) Specifically, they fear that ISPs will come to resemble cable companies circa 2010. The irony there is that it is the Internet itself — without any enabling regulation from the FCC — that has provided the beginnings of a solution to the problem of the general awfulness of the American cable company, with gleeful “cord-cutters” replacing their cable services with AppleTV, Hulu, and the like.
Neutrality as an operating principle has largely prevailed among ISPs in the absence of a federal mandate largely because consumers like it that way. But consumers may not always like it that way: For example, those who want faster service for downloading movies at the moment are largely restricted to paying for faster service across the board rather than paying for faster service when they want faster service — imagine the FAA’s insisting that if customers want to fly first-class on one trip, they have to fly first-class all the time. The FCC’s new rules are not aimed at preserving the effective neutrality that prevails today — they are ideologically informed measures aimed at preventing innovations in the marketplace that consumers might prefer to the current model.
To accomplish this, the FCC is reclassifying broadband providers as “telecommunication services” under Title II of the Communications Act . . . of 1934. The FCC’s recourse to a law passed during the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt should give us all an idea about the sort of cutting-edge thinking that is at work here.
There is much that is unnecessary in these rules. For example, the regulation against blocking access to lawful websites addresses a situation that is largely unknown. (Some providers that serve customers of businesses open to the public do block pornographic sites, which does not seem unreasonable.) Likewise, the call for greater transparency in protocols speaks to a desirable end, though one that is hardly crying out for federal intervention.
On the other hand, the ban on creating “fast lanes” for services that would benefit from them forecloses what might be a fruitful avenue of innovation. More worrisome still is the vast, open-ended powers that federal regulators have granted themselves: The FCC has — with no congressional mandate — just given itself a mandate to forbid anything that it believes to be other than “reasonable,” or anything it judges will “harm consumers or edge providers.” (“Edge providers” essentially means those who create or distribute content.) And, of course, there is cronyism: As Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune reports, Internet-based pay-television services of the sort being contemplated by Sony (and possibly by Apple) would be specifically exempt from the fast-lane rules.
As an Internet-based concern, National Review Online has a strong preference for an open, rambling, largely unregulated Internet. We believe that intense FCC oversight is as likely to undermine those freewheeling ways and “permissionless innovation” as to preserve them — look at any other industry in which the FCC stands athwart commerce. There are measures that can and should be taken to increase competition among ISPs, and, as Julian Sanchez of Cato points out, in the event of truly cumbrous and destructive collusions between ISPs and content providers, then the prudent response would be case-by-case intervention carried out by the Federal Trade Commission rather than preemptive blanket regulation by the FCC. It takes a certain kind of crackedness to believe that “free and open” and “under heavy federal regulation” are synonymous.
Congress has the authority to legally limit the FCC’s ambitions in this matter, and it should do so, even though such efforts would probably run into an Obama veto. That’s a fight worth having. It is high time to regulate the regulators and remind the bureaucrats who in this republic is in fact empowered to make law. Likewise, Jason Chaffetz’s initiation of an Oversight Committee investigation into whether the White House improperly colluded with the FCC in formulating these new rules is to be encouraged — if only for the potential amusement in learning whether improper collusion was instrumental in this crusade against improper collusion.
Far from being dysfunctional, the Internet is one of the critical aspects of life in these United States, one that is brilliantly functional and wonderfully innovative in no small part because of the laissez-faire approach that government has historically taken toward it. Why anybody would want to make it more like a utility company is a mystery — unless one appreciates that, for those suffering from a certain progressive inclination, federal regulation is thought to be desirable in and of itself, and that the freewheeling ways of the Internet are a standing rebuke to those who would regiment and regulate practically every aspect of life.
Republican lawmakers investigate White House net neutrality push
Congressional Republicans are demanding to know how much the White House influenced the Federal Communications Commission while the agency crafted net neutrality rules.
The FCC has until Monday afternoon to produce unredacted email messages, focused on net neutrality rules, between FCC staff and officials with the Obama administration, U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz said in a letter to the FCC Friday. The Utah Republican is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
Chaffetz’s committee is “investigating the potential involvement of the White House” in the creation of proposed net neutrality rules that the FCC is scheduled to vote on next Thursday, he said in the letter. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will propose regulations that would reclassify broadband as a regulated telecommunications service instead of a lightly regulated information service.
An FCC spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for a comment on Chaffetz’s letter.
Several congressional Republicans have accused the White House of improperly influencing the FCC net-neutrality rule-making process, after Obama called on the agency to reclassify broadband as a regulated public utility in November. Wheeler appeared to change his position and embrace that idea after the president urged the independent agency to do so, critics have said.
But U.S. presidential administrations have repeatedly weighed in on FCC proceedings during the past 30-plus years, net neutrality advocate Public Knowledge has noted.
Chaffetz’s letter to the FCC came just two days after Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee told Wheeler they were expanding an investigation into agency rule-making processes.
The Energy and Commerce Committee’s probe covers a wide range of FCC process concerns beyond net neutrality, but new reports detailing White House contact with the FCC on net neutrality raise “additional concerns about whether the commission is managing its affairs with the independence and openness required by its mandate,” committee leaders said in a Wednesday letter to Wheeler.
Republican concerns about Obama administration influence over the FCC were fueled by a Feb. 4 Wall Street Journal report saying the White House last year had set up a “parallel version of the FCC” to push for regulation of broadband providers.
Chaffetz’s letter asks for specific email messages sent by Obama administration officials to the FCC in April. On Friday, Vice.com published an exchange between administration officials and FCC staff that the website obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
GOP, tech industry mostly out of step over net neutrality issue
By NOAH BIERMAN AND EVAN HALPER contact the reporters Politics and Government U.S. Congress Federal Communications Commission John Thune Ted Cruz Rand Paul
- Silicon Valley executives and activists are increasingly irritated by the feeling the GOP is not on their side
- GOP lawmakers argue that FCC net neutrality proposal amounts to a government takeover of the Web
- GOP lawmakers in Congress are unified in opposition to the administration approach on net neutrality
Thee intensifying debate over how to keep the Internet open and ripe for innovation has heightened tensions between Republican congressional leaders and tech entrepreneurs they have been trying to woo.
As tech firms and cable companies prepare for a fight that each says will shape the future of the Internet, Silicon Valley executives and activists are growing increasingly irritated by the feeling that the GOP is not on their side.
Republican leaders have struggled to explain to their nascent allies in the Bay Area why they are working so hard to undermine a plan endorsed by the Obama administration to keep a level playing field in Internet innovation, enforcing what the administration and its allies call “net neutrality.”
FCC chief seeks to treat Web as public utility in net neutrality fight
Arguments from the GOP that the plan amounts to a government takeover of the Web — “Obamacare for the Internet,” as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called it — are falling flat with many tech innovators.
“This is one of the most prominent moments in Internet freedom,” said Julie Samuels, executive director of Engine, a nonpartisan advocacy group that brings policymakers together with tech start-ups. “I don’t think any party can afford to be on the wrong side of this conversation.”
But Republicans, she said, are on the wrong side.
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote this month to adopt the net neutrality plan proposed last week by the panel’s chairman, Tom Wheeler. The plan would regulate Internet service providers, such as Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc., as public utilities and would ban them from offering high-speed lanes to companies that pay more.
Republicans have promised to push legislation to overturn any such move, but most high-tech companies support it.
The fight comes at a time when Republicans had been making gains in Silicon Valley, a constituency of well-heeled donors and coveted millennial-generation voters who have generally been loyal to Democrats.
Prominent Republicans, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), have taken members of Congress on listening tours of tech companies. Tech money has begun flowing into GOP campaign accounts. Presidential hopefuls, including Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have made an aggressive case that the GOP better understands the values of privacy and freedom in the digital world.
GOP leaders had hoped to build on those gains at an event in Washington called Reboot Congress, which started Wednesday evening, where top Republican lawmakers plan to join Silicon Valley business leaders to discuss the future of the Internet.
Republicans have hoped to seize on recent Democratic policy moves that riled tech companies, including a push for strict anti-piracy rules and the Obama administration’s continued backing of National Security Agency surveillance of Internet users.
The FCC makes a breakthrough on net neutrality–but the battle isn’t over
But the hot issue in Silicon Valley now is net neutrality. And on that issue, the GOP and the tech industry are mostly out of step.
Republicans argue that intervention by a big government agency is the wrong approach to leveling the playing field for companies that depend on the Internet. That’s especially true now, as conservatives accuse Obama of a broad pattern of regulatory overreach in healthcare, the environment and immigration.
“As is often the case in Washington, those who want more power create the specter of a false threat that is not occurring in the marketplace today,” Cruz said in an interview in which he warned that new regulations could lead to new taxes and put a chill on innovation. “The power of regulation is like a camel’s nose under the tent,” he said.
In Congress, GOP lawmakers are unified in opposition to the administration approach.
That includes tech-savvy California Republicans such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who warns that the administration approach “will result in over-regulation and years of fruitless litigation.” McCarthy joined his House leadership colleagues in warning regulators that imposing net neutrality rules would “deter investment and stifle one of the brightest spots in our economy.”
Many Internet entrepreneurs disagree.
“The argument is a red herring,” said Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which fights alongside GOP lawmakers on privacy and surveillance issues but is helping lead the attack against them on net neutrality.
“Nobody is talking about wanting the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the Internet. That would be terrible,” McSherry said. “All they would be doing is putting in rules of the road for broadband providers.”
Republicans, she said, are essentially helping big corporations squeeze out innovation. “Politically, this is a real mistake,” she said.
It is unclear to what extent the issue will overshadow other Silicon Valley priorities. But it is certainly making the GOP a tougher sell.
“It is close to a litmus test,” said Paul Sieminski, a Republican who is the general counsel to Automattic, the company that operates Web-making tool WordPress.com.
“It’s such a fundamental issue for the Internet,” said Sieminski, who has been active in fighting for net neutrality. “I guess it is a proxy on where a candidate may stand on a lot of issues related to the Internet.”
The fight goes beyond wealthy entrepreneurs making or seeking their fortunes in start-up companies. Silicon Valley is adept at mobilizing consumers eager to protect what they see as a core value of the digital age.
The FCC received nearly 4 million comments on the net neutrality rules — most urging them to enforce stricter regulations — before Wheeler announced his proposal last week.
Groups such as Fight for the Future, whose donors include technology companies, said they have helped initiate tens of thousands of calls from their members to regulators and lawmakers using technology that bypasses switchboards.
Polls also showed overwhelming support for the concept that big carriers such as Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast should not be allowed to charge more to companies that want a fast lane.
That may have propelled a shift among some Republicans, who once questioned the need for any new regulations.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is proposing a bill that would let Congress, rather than regulators, set the terms for net neutrality. In establishing the concept, however, the measure also would take away the FCC’s authority to make any new regulations in the fast-changing broadband marketplace.
Thune and others frame their disagreement with Obama and federal regulators as one over process, asserting that Congress would better protect openness on the Internet yet avoid burdensome regulations.
“I worry that online innovators will be subject to the Mother-may-I system in which startups have to hire regulatory lawyers before they hire engineers,” Thune said Wednesday night as the Reboot conference began at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington.
Silicon Valley activists are unimpressed. They don’t trust the GOP-controlled Congress on this issue.
“They’re cynical attempts,” Evan Greer, campaign manager for Fight for the Future, said of the legislative proposals, “last-ditch efforts by cable lobbyists who know they’ve been beat in the court of public opinion.”
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Net neutrality (also network neutrality, Internet neutrality, or net equality) is the principle that Internet service providersand governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication. The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003 as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier.
There has been extensive debate about whether net neutrality should be required by law, particularly in the United States. Debate over the issue of net neutrality predates the coining of the term. Advocates of net neutrality such as Lawrence Lessighave raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, and protocols), and even to block out competitors
Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services . Many believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms. Prominent supporters of net neutrality include Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, and Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the Web.
Examples of net neutrality violations include when the internet service provider Comcast intentionally slowed peer-to-peercommunications. In 2007, one other company was using deep packet inspection to discriminate against peer-to-peer, file transfer protocol, and online games, instituting a cell-phone style billing system of overages, free-to-telecom value added services, and bundling. Critics of net neutrality argue that data discrimination is desirable for reasons like guaranteeingquality of service. Bob Kahn, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, called the term net neutrality a slogan and opposes establishing it, but he admits that he is against the fragmentation of the net whenever this becomes excluding to other participants. On 31 January 2015, AP News reported the FCC will present the notion of applying (“with some caveats”) Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to the internet in a vote expected on 26 February 2015.Adoption of this notion would reclassify internet service from one of information to one of telecommunications and, according to Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, ensure net neutrality. The Obama administration said that it would not let the public see its 332 page net neutrality plan until after the FCC voted on its implementation.
Network neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally. According to Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu, the best way to explain network neutrality is as a principle to be used when designing a network: that a public information network will end up being most useful if all content, sites, and platforms are treated equally. A more detailed proposed definition of technical and service network neutrality suggests that service network neutrality is the adherence to the paradigm that operation of a service at a certain layer is not influenced by any data other than the data interpreted at that layer, and in accordance with the protocol specification for that layer.
The idea of an open Internet is the idea that the full resources of the Internet and means to operate on it are easily accessible to all individuals and companies. This often includes ideas such as net neutrality, open standards, transparency, lack of Internet censorship, and low barriers to entry. The concept of the open Internet is sometimes expressed as an expectation of decentralized technological power, and is seen by some as closely related to open-source software.
Proponents often see net neutrality as an important component of an open internet, where policies such as equal treatment of data and open web standards allow those on the Internet to easily communicate and conduct business without interference from a third party. A closed Internet refers to the opposite situation, in which established corporations or governments favor certain uses. A closed Internet may have restricted access to necessary web standards, artificially degradesome services, or explicitly filter out content.
The concept of a dumb network made up of dumb pipes has been around since at least the early 1990s. The idea of a dumb network is that the endpoints of a network are generally where the intelligence lies, and that the network itself generally leaves the management and operation of communication to the end users. In 2013 the software company MetroTech Net, Inc. (MTN) coined the term Dumb Wave which is the modern application of the Dumb Pipe concept to the ubiquitous wireless network. If wireless carriers do not provide unique and value added services, they will be relegated to the dumb pipe category where they can’t charge a premium or retain customers.
The end-to-end principle is a principle of network design, first laid out explicitly in the 1981 conference paper End-to-end arguments in system design by Jerome H. Saltzer, David P. Reed, and David D. Clark. The principle states that, whenever possible, communications protocol operations should be defined to occur at the end-points of a communications system, or as close as possible to the resource being controlled. According to the end-to-end principle, protocol features are only justified in the lower layers of a system if they are a performance optimization, hence, TCP retransmission for reliability is still justified, but efforts to improve TCP reliability should stop after peak performance has been reached. They argued that reliable systems tend to require end-to-end processing to operate correctly, in addition to any processing in the intermediate system. They pointed out that most features in the lowest level of a communications system have costs for all higher-layer clients, even if those clients do not need the features, and are redundant if the clients have to re-implement the features on an end-to-end basis. This leads to the model of a minimal dumb network with smart terminals, a completely different model from the previous paradigm of the smart network with dumb terminals. Because the end-to-end principle is one of the central design principles of the Internet, and because the practical means for implementing data discrimination violate the end-to-end principle, the principle often enters discussions about net neutrality. The end-to-end principle is closely related, and sometimes seen as a direct precursor to the principle of net neutrality.
Traffic shaping is the control of computer network traffic in order to optimize or guarantee performance, improve latency, and/or increase usable bandwidth by delaying packets that meet certain criteria. More specifically, traffic shaping is any action on a set of packets (often called a stream or a flow) which imposes additional delay on those packets such that they conform to some predetermined constraint (a contract or traffic profile). Traffic shaping provides a means to control the volume of traffic being sent into a network in a specified period (bandwidth throttling), or the maximum rate at which the traffic is sent (rate limiting), or more complex criteria such as GCRA.
If the core of a network has more bandwidth than is permitted to enter at the edges, then good QoS can be obtained without policing. For example the telephone network employs admission control to limit user demand on the network core by refusing to create a circuit for the requested connection. Over-provisioning is a form of statistical multiplexing that makes liberal estimates of peak user demand. Over-provisioning is used in private networks such as WebEx and the Internet 2 Abilene Network, an American university network. David Isenberg believes that continued over-provisioning will always provide more capacity for less expense than QoS and deep packet inspection technologies.
Discrimination by protocol
Favoring or blocking information based on the communications protocol that the computers are using to communicate.
On 1 August 2008, the FCC formally voted 3-to-2 to uphold a complaint against Comcast, the largest cable company in the United States, ruling that it had illegally inhibited users of its high-speed Internet service from using file-sharing software. FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin said that the order was meant to set a precedent that Internet providers, and indeed all communications companies, could not prevent customers from using their networks the way they see fit unless there is a good reason. In an interview, Martin said, “We are preserving the open character of the Internet”. The legal complaint against Comcast related to BitTorrent, a transfer protocol that is especially apt at distributing large files such as video, music, and software on the Internet. Comcast admitted no wrongdoing in its proposed settlement of up to US$16 dollars per share in December 2009.
Discrimination by IP address
During the early decades of the Internet, creating a non-neutral Internet was technically infeasible. Originally developed to filter malware, the Internet security company NetScreen Technologies released network firewalls in 2003 with so called deep packet inspection. Deep inspection helped make real-time discrimination between different kinds of data possible, and is often used for internet censorship.
In a practice called zero-rating, companies will reimburse data use from certain addresses, favoring use of those services. Examples include Facebook Zero and Google Free Zone, and are especially common in the developing world.
Sometimes ISPs will charge some companies, but not others, for the traffic they cause on the ISP’s network. French telecoms operator Orange, complaining that traffic from YouTube and other Google sites consists of roughly 50% of total traffic on the Orange network, reached a deal with Google, in which they charge Google for the traffic incurred on the Orange network. Some also thought that Orange’s rival ISP Free throttled YouTube traffic. However, an investigation done by the French telecommunications regulatory body revealed that the network was simply congested during peak hours.
Favoring private networks
Favoring communications sent over the private networks run by individual organizations over information sent over the general Internet Protocol. Examples include Comcast’s deal with Xbox.
There is some disagreement about whether peering is a net neutrality issue.
In the first quarter of 2014, streaming website Netflix reached an arrangement with ISP Comcast to improve the quality of its service to Netflix clients. This arrangement was made in response to increasingly slow connection speeds through Comcast over the course of the 2013, where average speeds dropped by over 25% of their values a year before to an all time low. After the deal was struck in January 2014, the Netflix speed index recorded a 66% increase in connection.
Netflix agreed to a similar deal with Verizon in 2014 after Verizon DSL customers connection speed dropped to less than 1 Mbit/s early in the year. Netflix spoke out against this deal with a controversial statement delivered to all Verizon customers experiencing low connection speeds using the Netflix client. This sparked an internal debate between the two companies that led to Verizon obtaining a cease and desist order on June 5, 2014 that forced Netflix to stop displaying this message.
Legal enforcement of net neutrality principles takes a variety of forms, from provisions that outlaw anti-competitive blocking and throttling of Internet services, all the way to legal enforcement that prevents companies from subsidizing Internet use on particular sites.
Arguments for net neutrality
Proponents of net neutrality include consumer advocates, human rights organizations such as Article 19, online companies and some technology companies.Many major Internet application companies are advocates of neutrality. Yahoo!, Vonage, eBay, Amazon, IAC/InterActiveCorp. Microsoft, along with many other companies, have also taken a stance in support of neutrality regulation. Cogent Communications, an international Internet service provider, has made an announcement in favor of certain net neutrality policies. In 2008, Google published a statement speaking out against letting broadband providers abuse their market power to affect access to competing applications or content. They further equated the situation to that of the telephony market, where telephone companies are not allowed to control who their customers call or what those customers are allowed to say. However, Google’s support of net neutrality has recently been called into question.
Individuals who support net neutrality include Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf, Lawrence Lessig, Robert W. McChesney, Steve Wozniak, Susan P. Crawford, Ben Scott, David Reed, and U.S. President Barack Obama. On November 10, 2014, President Obama recommended the FCC reclassify broadband Internet service as a telecommunications service in order to preserve net neutrality. On November 12, 2014, AT&T stopped build-out of their fiber network until it has “solid net neutrality rules to follow”. On 31 January 2015, AP News reported the FCC will present the notion of applying (“with some caveats”) Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to the internet in a vote expected on 26 February 2015.
Control of data
Supporters of network neutrality want to designate cable companies as common carriers, which would require them to allow Internet service providers (ISPs) free access to cable lines, the model used for dial-up Internet. They want to ensure that cable companies cannot screen, interrupt or filter Internet content without court order. Common carrier status would give the FCC the power to enforce net neutrality rules.
SaveTheInternet.com accuses cable and telecommunications companies of wanting the role of gatekeepers, being able to control which websites load quickly, load slowly, or don’t load at all. According to SaveTheInternet.com these companies want to charge content providers who require guaranteed speedy data delivery…to create advantages for their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video services – and slowing access or blocking access to those of competitors. Vinton Cerf, a co-inventor of the Internet Protocol and current vice president of Google argues that the Internet was designed without any authorities controlling access to new content or new services. He concludes that the principles responsible for making the Internet such a success would be fundamentally undermined were broadband carriers given the ability to affect what people see and do online.
Digital rights and freedoms
Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney argue that net neutrality ensures that the Internet remains a free and open technology, fostering democratic communication. Lessig and McChesney go on to argue that the monopolization of the Internet would stifle the diversity of independent news sources and the generation of innovative and novel web content.
User intolerance for slow-loading sites
Users with faster Internet connectivity (e.g., fiber) abandon a slow-loading video at a faster rate than users with slower Internet connectivity (e.g., cable or mobile). A “fast lane” in the Internet can irrevocably decrease the user’s tolerance to the relative slowness of the “slow lane”.
Proponents of net neutrality invoke the human psychological process of adaptation where when people get used to something better, they would not ever want to go back to something worse. In the context of the Internet, the proponents argue that a user who gets used to the “fast lane” on the Internet would find the “slow lane” intolerable in comparison, greatly disadvantaging any provider who is unable to pay for the “fast lane”. Video providers Netflix and Vimeo in their comments to FCC in favor of net neutrality use the research of S.S. Krishnan and Ramesh Sitaraman that provides the first quantitative evidence of adaptation to speed among online video users. Their research studied the patience level of millions of Internet video users who waited for a slow-loading video to start playing. Users who had a faster Internet connectivity, such as fiber-to-the-home, demonstrated less patience and abandoned their videos sooner than similar users with slower Internet connectivity. The results demonstrate how users can get used to faster Internet connectivity, leading to higher expectation of Internet speed, and lower tolerance for any delay that occurs. Author Nicholas Carr and other social commentators have written about the habituation phenomenon by stating that a faster flow of information on the Internet can make people less patient.
Competition and innovation
Net neutrality advocates argue that allowing cable companies the right to demand a toll to guarantee quality or premium delivery would create an exploitative business model based on the ISPs position as gatekeepers. Advocates warn that by charging websites for access, network owners may be able to block competitor Web sites and services, as well as refuse access to those unable to pay. According to Tim Wu, cable companies plan to reserve bandwidth for their own television services, and charge companies a toll for priority service.
Proponents of net neutrality argue that allowing for preferential treatment of Internet traffic, or tiered service, would put newer online companies at a disadvantage and slow innovation in online services. Tim Wu argues that, without network neutrality, the Internet will undergo a transformation from a market ruled by innovation to one ruled by deal-making. SaveTheInternet.com argues that net neutrality puts everyone on equal terms, which helps drive innovation. They claim it is a preservation of the way the internet has always operated, where the quality of websites and services determined whether they succeeded or failed, rather than deals with ISPs. Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney argue that eliminating net neutrality would lead to the Internet resembling the world of cable TV, so that access to and distribution of content would be managed by a handful of massive companies. These companies would then control what is seen as well as how much it costs to see it. Speedy and secure Internet use for such industries as health care, finance, retailing, and gambling could be subject to large fees charged by these companies. They further explain that a majority of the great innovators in the history of the Internet started with little capital in their garages, inspired by great ideas. This was possible because the protections of net neutrality ensured limited control by owners of the networks, maximal competition in this space, and permitted innovators from outside access to the network. Internet content was guaranteed a free and highly competitive space by the existence of net neutrality.
Preserving Internet standards
Network neutrality advocates have sponsored legislation claiming that authorizing incumbent network providers to override transport and application layer separation on the Internet would signal the decline of fundamental Internet standards and international consensus authority. Further, the legislation asserts that bit-shaping the transport of application data will undermine the transport layer’s designed flexibility.
Alok Bhardwaj argues that any violations to network neutrality, realistically speaking, will not involve genuine investment but rather payoffs for unnecessary and dubious services. He believes that it is unlikely that new investment will be made to lay special networks for particular websites to reach end-users faster. Rather, he believes that non-net neutrality will involve leveraging quality of service to extract remuneration from websites that want to avoid being slowed down.
Some advocates say network neutrality is needed in order to maintain the end-to-end principle. According to Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney, all content must be treated the same and must move at the same speed in order for net neutrality to be true. They say that it is this simple but brilliant end-to-end aspect that has allowed the Internet to act as a powerful force for economic and social good. Under this principle, a neutral network is a dumb network, merely passing packets regardless of the applications they support. This point of view was expressed by David S. Isenberg in his paper, “The Rise of the Stupid Network”. He states that the vision of an intelligent network is being replaced by a new network philosophy and architecture in which the network is designed for always-on use, not intermittence and scarcity. Rather than intelligence being designed into the network itself, the intelligence would be pushed out to the end-user’s device; and the network would be designed simply to deliver bits without fancy network routing or smart number translation. The data would be in control, telling the network where it should be sent. End-user devices would then be allowed to behave flexibly, as bits would essentially be free and there would be no assumption that the data is of a single data rate or data type.
Contrary to this idea, the research paper titled End-to-end arguments in system design by Saltzer, Reed, and Clark argues that network intelligence doesn’t relieve end systems of the requirement to check inbound data for errors and to rate-limit the sender, nor for a wholesale removal of intelligence from the network core.
Arguments against net neutrality
Opposition includes the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Goldwater Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Ayn Rand Institute. Opponents of net neutrality include hardware companies and members of the cable and telecommunications industries, including major telecommunications providers, such as Comcast and AT&T.
A number of these opponents created a website called Hands Off The Internet (which no longer exists) to promote their arguments against net neutrality. Principal financial support for the website came from AT&T, and members included technology firms and pro-market advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste.
Network neutrality regulations are opposed by Internet engineers such as professor David Farber and TCP inventor and Qualcomm Director Bob Kahn.Robert Pepper is senior managing director, global advanced technology policy, at Cisco Systems, and is the former FCC chief of policy development. He says: “The supporters of net neutrality regulation believe that more rules are necessary. In their view, without greater regulation, service providers might parcel out bandwidth or services, creating a bifurcated world in which the wealthy enjoy first-class Internet access, while everyone else is left with slow connections and degraded content. That scenario, however, is a false paradigm. Such an all-or-nothing world doesn’t exist today, nor will it exist in the future. Without additional regulation, service providers are likely to continue doing what they are doing. They will continue to offer a variety of broadband service plans at a variety of price points to suit every type of consumer”. Bob Kahn, another computer scientist and Director at Qualcomm, has said net neutrality is a slogan that would freeze innovation in the core of the Internet.
Farber has written and spoken strongly in favor of continued research and development on core Internet protocols. He joined academic colleagues Michael Katz,Christopher Yoo, and Gerald Faulhaber in an op-ed for the Washington Post strongly critical of network neutrality, essentially stating that while the Internet is in need of remodeling, congressional action aimed at protecting the best parts of the current Internet could interfere with efforts to build a replacement.
Financing infrastructure improvements
Some opponents of net neutrality argue that prioritization of bandwidth is necessary for future innovation on the Internet. Telecommunications providers such as telephone and cable companies, and some technology companies that supply networking gear, argue telecom providers should have the ability to provide preferential treatment in the form of tiered services, for example by giving online companies willing to pay the ability to transfer their data packets faster than other Internet traffic. The added revenue from such services could be used to pay for the building of increased broadband access to more consumers.
Conversely, opponents say that net neutrality regulation would make it more difficult for Internet service providers (ISPs) and other network operators to recoup their investments in broadband networks. John Thorne, senior vice president and deputy general counsel of Verizon, a broadband and telecommunications company, has argued that they will have no incentive to make large investments to develop advanced fibre-optic networks if they are prohibited from charging higher preferred access fees to companies that wish to take advantage of the expanded capabilities of such networks. Thorne and other ISPs have accused Google and Skype of freeloading or free riding for using a network of lines and cables the phone company spent billions of dollars to build.
Counterweight to server-side non-neutrality
Those in favor of forms of non-neutral tiered Internet access argue that the Internet is already not a level playing field: large companies achieve a performance advantage over smaller competitors by replicating servers and buying high-bandwidth services. Should prices drop for lower levels of access, or access to only certain protocols, for instance, a change of this type would make Internet usage more neutral, with respect to the needs of those individuals and corporations specifically seeking differentiated tiers of service. Network expert
Richard Bennett has written, “A richly funded Web site, which delivers data faster than its competitors to the front porches of the Internet service providers, wants it delivered the rest of the way on an equal basis. This system, which Google calls broadband neutrality, actually preserves a more fundamental inequality.”
Tim Wu, though a proponent of network neutrality, claims that the current Internet is not neutral, because its implementation of best effort generally favors file transfer and other non-time sensitive traffic over real-time communications.
Prevent overuse of bandwidth
Since the early 1990s, Internet traffic has increased steadily. The arrival of picture-rich websites and MP3s led to a sharp increase in the mid-1990s followed by a subsequent sharp increase since 2003 as video streaming and Peer-to-peer file sharing became more common. In reaction to companies including YouTube, as well as smaller companies starting to offer free video content, using substantial amounts of bandwidth, at least one Internet service provider (ISP), SBC Communications (now AT&T Inc.), has suggested that it should have the right to charge these companies for making their content available over the provider’s network.
Bret Swanson of the Wall Street Journal wrote in 2007 that the popular websites of that time, including YouTube, MySpace, and blogs, were put at risk by net neutrality. He noted that, at the time, YouTube streamed as much data in three months as the world’s radio, cable and broadcast television channels did in one year, 75 petabytes. He argued that networks were not remotely prepared to handle the amount of data required to run these sites. He also argued that net neutrality would prevent broadband networks from being built, which would limit available bandwidth and thus endanger innovation.
One example of these concerns was the series of tubes analogy, which was presented by US senator Ted Stevens on the floor of the US senate in 2006.
Tim Wu, though a proponent of network neutrality, claims that the current Internet is not neutral as its implementation of best effort generally favors file transfer and other non-time-sensitive traffic over real-time communications. Generally, a network which blocks some nodes or services for the customers of the network would normally be expected to be less useful to the customers than one that did not. Therefore, for a network to remain significantly non-neutral requires either that the customers not be concerned about the particular non-neutralities or the customers not have any meaningful choice of providers, otherwise they would presumably switch to another provider with fewer restrictions.
While the network neutrality debate continues, network providers often enter into peering arrangements among themselves. These agreements often stipulate how certain information flows should be treated. In addition, network providers often implement various policies such as blocking of port 25 to prevent insecure systems from serving as spam relays, or other ports commonly used by decentralized music search applications implementing peer-to-peer networking models. They also present terms of service that often include rules about the use of certain applications as part of their contracts with users.
Most consumer Internet providers implement policies like these. The MIT Mantid Port Blocking Measurement Project is a measurement effort to characterize Internet port blocking and potentially discriminatory practices. However, the effect of peering arrangements among network providers are only local to the peers that enter into the arrangements, and cannot affect traffic flow outside their scope.
Jon Peha from Carnegie Mellon University believes it is important to create policies that protect users from harmful traffic discrimination, while allowing beneficial discrimination. Peha discusses the technologies that enable traffic discrimination, examples of different types of discrimination, and potential impacts of regulation.
Quality of service
Internet routers forward packets according to the diverse peering and transport agreements that exist between network operators. Many networks using Internet protocols now employ quality of service (QoS), and Network Service Providers frequently enter into Service Level Agreements with each other embracing some sort of QoS.
There is no single, uniform method of interconnecting networks using IP, and not all networks that use IP are part of the Internet. IPTV networks are isolated from the Internet, and are therefore not covered by network neutrality agreements.
The IP datagram includes a 3-bit wide Precedence field and a larger DiffServ Code Point that are used to request a level of service, consistent with the notion that protocols in a layered architecture offer services through Service Access Points. This field is sometimes ignored, especially if it requests a level of service outside the originating network’s contract with the receiving network. It is commonly used in private networks, especially those including Wi-Fi networks where priority is enforced. While there are several ways of communicating service levels across Internet connections, such as SIP, RSVP, IEEE 802.11e, and MPLS, the most common scheme combines SIP and DSCP. Router manufacturers now sell routers that have logic enabling them to route traffic for various Classes of Service at “wire-speed”.
With the emergence of multimedia, VoIP, IPTV, and other applications that benefit from low latency, various attempts to address the inability of some private networks to limit latency have arisen, including the proposition of offering tiered service levels that would shape Internet transmissions at the network layer based on application type. These efforts are ongoing, and are starting to yield results as wholesale Internet transport providers begin to amend service agreements to include service levels.
Advocates of net neutrality have proposed several methods to implement a net neutral Internet that includes a notion of quality-of-service:
- An approach offered by Tim Berners-Lee allows discrimination between different tiers, while enforcing strict neutrality of data sent at each tier: “If I pay to connect to the Net with a given quality of service, and you pay to connect to the net with the same or higher quality of service, then you and I can communicate across the net, with that quality and quantity of service”. “[We] each pay to connect to the Net, but no one can pay for exclusive access to me.”
- United States lawmakers have introduced bills that would now allow quality of service discrimination for certain services as long as no special fee is charged for higher-quality service.
Alok Bhardwaj has argued that net neutrality preservation through legislation is consistent with implementing quality of service protocols. He argues legislation should ban the charging of fees for any quality of service, which would both allow networks to implement quality of service as well as remove any incentive to abuse net neutrality ideas. He argues that since implementing quality of service doesn’t require any additional costs versus a non-QoS network, there’s no reason implementing quality of service should entail any additional fees. However, the core network hardware needed (with large number of queues, etc.) and the cost of designing and maintaining a QoS network are both much higher than for a non-QoS network.
Broadband Internet access has most often been sold to users based on Excess Information Rate or maximum available bandwidth. If Internet service providers(ISPs) can provide varying levels of service to websites at various prices, this may be a way to manage the costs of unused capacity by selling surplus bandwidth (or “leverage price discrimination to recoup costs of ‘consumer surplus‘”). However, purchasers of connectivity on the basis of Committed Information Rate or guaranteed bandwidth capacity must expect the capacity they purchase in order to meet their communications requirements.
Various studies have sought to provide network providers the necessary formulas for adequately pricing such a tiered service for their customer base. But while network neutrality is primarily focused on protocol based provisioning, most of the pricing models are based on bandwidth restrictions.
Some opponents of net neutrality legislation point to concerns of privacy rights that could come about as a result, how those infringements of privacy can be exploited. While some believe it is hyperbole to suggest that ISPs will just transparently monitor transmitted content, or that ISPs will have to alter their content, there is the concern that ISPs may have profit motives to analyze what their subscribers are viewing, and be able to use such information to their financial advantage. For example, an ISP may be able to essentially replicate the “targeting” that has already been employed by companies like Google. To critics such as David Clark, a senior research scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the proper question is “who has the right to observe everything you do”?
Framing of debate
Former Washington Post columnist, and Fox News commentator, Jeffrey Birnbaum, who currently works for the BGR Group (a lobbying firm which is employed byComcast) has called the debate “vague and misleading.”
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This idea of net neutrality…[Lawrence Lessig] used to call the principle e2e, for end to end
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- Jump up^ Mohammed, Arshad (February 2007). “Verizon Executive Calls for End to Google’s ‘Free Lunch'”. The Washington Post.
- Jump up^ Crowcroft, Jon (2007). Net Neutrality: The Technical Side of the Debate: A White Paper (PDF). University of Cambridge. p. 5. Retrieved 23 June 2009.
- Jump up^ “Google’s political Head-fake”. SFGate. 9 July 2008. Retrieved 14 September2014.
- Jump up^ “Network neutrality, broadband discrimination by Tim Wu” (PDF). Retrieved23 June 2011.
- Jump up^ “Google and cable firms warn of risks from Web TV”. USA Today. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2010.
- Jump up^ Kelly, Spencer (15 June 2007). “Warning of ‘Internet overload'”. BBC Click.
- Jump up^ Banks, Theodore L. (24 May 2002). Corporate Legal Compliance Handbook. Aspen Publishers Online. p. 70. ISBN 9780735533424.
- Jump up^ Swanson, Bret (20 January 2007). “The Coming Exaflood”. The Wall Street Journal.
- Jump up^ Wu, Tim (2003). “Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination”. Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology Law 2: 141. doi:10.2139/ssrn.388863.SSRN 388863.
- Jump up^ Jon Peha. “The Benefits and Risks of Mandating Network Neutrality, and the Quest for a Balanced Policy”. Retrieved 1 January 2007.
- Jump up^ Sullivan, Mark (14 August 2006). “Carriers Seek IP QOS Peers”. Light Reading. Retrieved 26 December 2008.
- Jump up^ Berners-Lee, Tim (2 May 2006). “Neutrality of the Net”. timbl’s blog. Retrieved26 December 2008.
- Jump up^ A bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure net neutrality, S. 215
- Jump up^ “NCSU.edu” (PDF). Retrieved 23 June 2011.
- Jump up^ Joch, Alan (October 2009). “Debating Net Neutrality”. Communications of the ACM 52 (10): 14–15. doi:10.1145/1562764.1562773.
- Jump up^ Washington Post, Lobbyists find mixed reception running for office, but a few have won elections, By Holly Yeager, Published: 19 May,http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/lobbyists-find-mixed-reception-running-for-office-but-a-few-have-won-elections/2014/05/18/2d0343de-db74-11e3-b745-87d39690c5c0_story.html
- Jump up^ Bimbaum, Jeffrey (26 June 2006). “No Neutral Ground In This Battle”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 December 2006.
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Story 2: The Ukraine Ceasefire Is A Failure — Will NATO Be Forced To Intervene? — Videos
BBC News Ukraine crisis BBC meets last few Donetsk residents
Kerry says arming Ukrainian forces has not been ruled out
Conversation: Arming Ukraine with Lethal Weapons has Risks
Former U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Yalowitz discusses Ukraine ceasefire
Ceasefire appears to be failing in Ukraine
Ceasefire appears to be failing in Ukraine. Pro-Russian rebels now control key town
Shaky ceasefire in Ukraine
East Ukraine Opinion: Soldiers and residents in Artemivsk doubt ceasefire will last
Ukraine: Fighting continues despite truce
Fierce fighting is said to be continuing in the key Ukrainian town of Debaltseve, as the new ceasefire appears to be failing.
Rebels say they have taken most of the town, but the government says it is still in its control.
Gas Pipeline Blast Caught On Video, Hit By Shell In Eastern Ukraine
Ukraine and Natural Gas
Ukraine promised not to steal Russian gas from Europe
Russia halts plans for natural gas pipleine to Europe
Russia Expands Its Natural Gas Infrastructure (Agenda)
Caspian pipeline politics of Europe, Russia and China
Russia supplies more then 25 percent of Europe’s hydrocarbon needs. Ever since the natural gas cutoffs in 2006 and 2009, the European countries have been searched for ways to reduce their dependency on Russian oil and natural gas. In this context, the crisis in Ukraine has sparked a new drive for the search for alternative sources of energy. One project that is of particular interest, but underappreciated in the media, is the Trans-Caspian pipeline. If realized it would significantly change the energy map of Europe in the long term.
Fulcrium – Like it or not, Russian natural gas is here to stay – panel on European Energy Security
The LBS GES Energy Security panel addressed geo-political issues and challenges decision-makers face in the pursuit of European energy supply security in the wake of the Ukraine Crisis. Bottom line: The EU will remain dependent on Russian natural gas for decades to come irrespective of sanctions, source of supply diversification, and renewables agendas ! Likewise Moscow is dependent on the EU for 60% of Gazprom’s revenues. Like it or not, the EU and Russia are highly co-dependent as far as Russian natural gas is concerned.
Days after this debate took place, Russian President Vladimir Putin shelved the $40bn South Stream project designed to bypass Ukraine as the key transit state for Russian gas to Europe. And in a further twist, on 16 December 2014, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged Bulgaria to enter into dialogue with Moscow to revive the South Stream project. Perhaps this is a signal of a softening EU stance in order to rebuild economic ties with Russia, more out of a necessity to safeguard Germany’s and Bulgaria’s interests. Other countries which stood to gain from South Stream, including Serbia and Hungary, also want to rescue the project. Russia supplies about 25 percent of EU gas needs; half of that flows via Ukrainian transit pipelines. The EU’s most powerful economy, Germany, is still highly dependent on Russian natural gas, importing 30% of it’s annual gas consumption from Russia.
Panel Chair: Raju Patel, Chief Executive, Fulcrium
Vladimir Drebentsov, Vice President, BP Russia / Head of Russia & CIS Economics, BP Plc
Dr Tatiana Mitrova, Head of Oil and Gas Department in the Energy Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (ERI RAS), Board Director – E.ON Russia
Andrew Risk, Senior Associate – Political Risk, GPW + Co
David Buchan, Senior Research Fellow, The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies
Impact on world energy markets of Ukraine Crisis
The Effect of the Ukrainian Crisis on the Economy | Made in Germany
Psaki. Minsk Ceasefire. 19 Feb 2015 (Ukraine)
Ukraine: EU says ceasefire agreement not a failure
Military Forces Pull Out Of Besieged Ukrainian Town – Feb 19, 2015
Putin Tells Kiev to Let Troops Surrender as Ukraine Ceasefire Unravels
NATO Slams Russian Role in Ukraine Conflict: Stoltenberg says Kremlin must end insurgent support
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The Road to World War 3: Ukraine, Russia and American Imperialism
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Story 1: The American People’s Grievance: Barack Obama Is An Islamic Terrorist Denier — Evil or Stupid? — Stupid Is As Stupid Does — Yes, Both –Videos
“Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people. We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists. (Applause.) And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam.”
~President Barack Obama, February 18, 2015
Forrest Gump (1/10) Best Movie Quote – Life is Like a Box of Chocolates (1994)
Obama schools Right Wing It is not Islamic Terrorism!
Afterburner w/Bill Whittle — Showtime: Evil or Stupid?
Bernard Haykel: How Islamic is the Islamic State?
“To say that IS is outside of the interpretive parameters of Islam is factually incorecct. […] There is no question that these people are drawign inspiration from Islamic texts. And they know these texts better than most Muslims”, Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies responds to an open rejection letter of the IS movement signed by 126 Sunni scholars.
Talking to War and Peace Talk, Professor Haykel also shared insights on the strand of Islamic tradition IS draws on and the reasons why these Sunni critics have been hesistant to condemn IS members as heretics.
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
The Folly of Bombing the Islamic State
“Bin Laden was very proud that he had only spent 500.000 dollars on the 9/11 attacks. The US in response to those attacks has probably spent 3 trillion dollars. So as a return on investment, Bin Laden has done really well”.
Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies elaborates on the current US-led airstrike-campaign against the Islamic State. He explores how that will be framed by the jihadist Sunni movements Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, and argues that these strikes will confirm their narrative of a conspiracy between the West, the Jews and the Shia Muslims. He stresses that “IS is not a Western problem, it is a Middle Eastern problem”. He also argues very strongly against foreign intervention, saying that: “Every time the West has intervened in the Middle East for the last 200 years it has led to a much worse situation both for the people of the region and for the West.”
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
Prof Haykel on the Islamic State and Al Qaeda
Is a Fractured Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s Future?
Genieve Abdo and Bernard Haykel – “Understanding the Complexities of Sunni — Shi’a Relations”
Who are the Muslim Brotherhood? – Truthloader
U.S. Policy and Islamism after the Arab Spring – Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
The History of the Muslim Brotherhood in 3 minutes
Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Overview
The American Muslim Brotherhood President – Barack Hussein Obama
The Great Deception New World Order & Muslim Brotherhood
An Alternative for U.S. Policy – Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
Islamism and Intervention against ISIS — Shimon Shamir – Clip from “Reflections on Islamism”
Reflections on Islamism: From the Muslim Brotherhood to the Islamic State
Obama Behind Muslim Brotherhood Caliphate Conspiracy
Former Muslim Brotherhood member: “Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim Terrorist”
Barack Obama is a Member of the Muslim Brotherhood
Treason Exposed! Obama Used Benghazi Attack to Cover Up Arms Shipments to Muslim Brotherhood
Why doesn’t Obama say “Islamic” terrorism?
While Obama Appeases Islamic Terrorists, Egyptian President Condemns Them! • Kelly File • 1/9/15 •
President Obama Islam Speech Summit Extremism (Full Speech) – We aren’t at war with Islam
Forrest Gump (1/9) Movie CLIP – Peas and Carrots (1994) HD
Remarks by the President in Closing of the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism
South Court Auditorium
4:20 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Everybody, please have a seat.
Well, thank you, Lisa, for the introduction. Lisa is an example of the countless dedicated public servants across our government, a number of who are here today, who are working tirelessly every single day on behalf of the security and safety of the American people. So we very much appreciate her. And thanks to all of you for your attendance and participation in this important summit.
For more than 238 years, the United States of America has not just endured, but we have thrived and surmounted challenges that might have broken a lesser nation. After a terrible civil war, we repaired our union. We weathered a Great Depression, became the world’s most dynamic economy. We fought fascism, liberated Europe. We faced down communism — and won. American communities have been destroyed by earthquakes and tornadoes and fires and floods — and each time we rebuild.
The bombing that killed 168 people could not break Oklahoma City. On 9/11, terrorists tried to bring us to our knees; today a new tower soars above New York City, and America continues to lead throughout the world. After Americans were killed at Fort Hood and the Boston Marathon, it didn’t divide us; we came together as one American family.
In the face of horrific acts of violence — at a Sikh temple near Milwaukee, or at a Jewish community center outside Kansas City — we reaffirmed our commitment to pluralism and to freedom, repulsed by the notion that anyone should ever be targeted because of who they are, or what they look like, or how they worship.
Most recently, with the brutal murders in Chapel Hill of three young Muslim Americans, many Muslim Americans are worried and afraid. And I want to be as clear as I can be: As Americans, all faiths and backgrounds, we stand with you in your grief and we offer our love and we offer our support.
My point is this: As Americans, we are strong and we are resilient. And when tragedy strikes, when we take a hit, we pull together, and we draw on what’s best in our character — our optimism, our commitment to each other, our commitment to our values, our respect for one another. We stand up, and we rebuild, and we recover, and we emerge stronger than before. That’s who we are. (Applause.)
And I say all this because we face genuine challenges to our security today, just as we have throughout our history. Challenges to our security are not new. They didn’t happen yesterday or a week ago or a year ago. We’ve always faced challenges. One of those challenges is the terrorist threat from groups like al Qaeda and ISIL. But this isn’t our challenge alone. It’s a challenge for the world. ISIL is terrorizing the people of Syria and Iraq, beheads and burns human beings in unfathomable acts of cruelty. We’ve seen deadly attacks in Ottawa and Sydney and, Paris, and now Copenhagen.
So, in the face of this challenge, we have marshalled the full force of the United States government, and we’re working with allies and partners to dismantle terrorist organizations and protect the American people. Given the complexities of the challenge and the nature of the enemy — which is not a traditional army — this work takes time, and will require vigilance and resilience and perspective. But I’m confident that, just as we have for more than two centuries, we will ultimately prevail.
And part of what gives me that confidence is the overwhelming response of the world community to the savagery of these terrorists — not just revulsion, but a concrete commitment to work together to vanquish these organizations.
At the United Nations in September, I called on the international community to come together and eradicate this scourge of violent extremism. And I want to thank all of you — from across America and around the world — for answering this call. Tomorrow at the State Department, governments and civil society groups from more than 60 countries will focus on the steps that we can take as governments. And I’ll also speak about how our nations have to remain relentless in our fight — our counterterrorism efforts — against groups that are plotting against our counties.
But we are here today because of a very specific challenge — and that’s countering violent extremism, something that is not just a matter of military affairs. By “violent extremism,” we don’t just mean the terrorists who are killing innocent people. We also mean the ideologies, the infrastructure of extremists –the propagandists, the recruiters, the funders who radicalize and recruit or incite people to violence. We all know there is no one profile of a violent extremist or terrorist, so there’s no way to predict who will become radicalized. Around the world, and here in the United States, inexcusable acts of violence have been committed against people of different faiths, by people of different faiths — which is, of course, a betrayal of all our faiths. It’s not unique to one group, or to one geography, or one period of time.
But we are here at this summit because of the urgent threat from groups like al Qaeda and ISIL. And this week we are focused on prevention — preventing these groups from radicalizing, recruiting or inspiring others to violence in the first place. I’ve called upon governments to come to the United Nations this fall with concrete steps that we can take together. And today, what I want to do is suggest several areas where I believe we can concentrate our efforts.
First, we have to confront squarely and honestly the twisted ideologies that these terrorist groups use to incite people to violence. Leading up to this summit, there’s been a fair amount of debate in the press and among pundits about the words we use to describe and frame this challenge. So I want to be very clear about how I see it.
Al Qaeda and ISIL and groups like it are desperate for legitimacy. They try to portray themselves as religious leaders — holy warriors in defense of Islam. That’s why ISIL presumes to declare itself the “Islamic State.” And they propagate the notion that America — and the West, generally — is at war with Islam. That’s how they recruit. That’s how they try to radicalize young people. We must never accept the premise that they put forward, because it is a lie. Nor should we grant these terrorists the religious legitimacy that they seek. They are not religious leaders — they’re terrorists. (Applause.) And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam. (Applause.)
Now, just as those of us outside Muslim communities need to reject the terrorist narrative that the West and Islam are in conflict, or modern life and Islam are in conflict, I also believe that Muslim communities have a responsibility as well. Al Qaeda and ISIL do draw, selectively, from the Islamic texts. They do depend upon the misperception around the world that they speak in some fashion for people of the Muslim faith, that Islam is somehow inherently violent, that there is some sort of clash of civilizations.
Of course, the terrorists do not speak for over a billion Muslims who reject their hateful ideology. They no more represent Islam than any madman who kills innocents in the name of God represents Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism. No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for violence and terrorism. (Applause.)
And to their credit, there are respected Muslim clerics and scholars not just here in the United States but around the world who push back on this twisted interpretation of their faith. They want to make very clear what Islam stands for. And we’re joined by some of these leaders today. These religious leaders and scholars preach that Islam calls for peace and for justice, and tolerance toward others; that terrorism is prohibited; that the Koran says whoever kills an innocent, it is as if he has killed all mankind. Those are the voices that represent over a billion people around the world.
But if we are going to effectively isolate terrorists, if we’re going to address the challenge of their efforts to recruit our young people, if we’re going to lift up the voices of tolerance and pluralism within the Muslim community, then we’ve got to acknowledge that their job is made harder by a broader narrative that does exist in many Muslim communities around the world that suggests the West is at odds with Islam in some fashion.
The reality — which, again, many Muslim leaders have spoken to — is that there’s a strain of thought that doesn’t embrace ISIL’s tactics, doesn’t embrace violence, but does buy into the notion that the Muslim world has suffered historical grievances — sometimes that’s accurate — does buy into the belief that so many of the ills in the Middle East flow from a history of colonialism or conspiracy; does buy into the idea that Islam is incompatible with modernity or tolerance, or that it’s been polluted by Western values.
So those beliefs exist. In some communities around the world they are widespread. And so it makes individuals — especially young people who already may be disaffected or alienated — more ripe for radicalization. And so we’ve got to be able to talk honestly about those issues. We’ve got to be much more clear about how we’re rejecting certain ideas.
So just as leaders like myself reject the notion that terrorists like ISIL genuinely represent Islam, Muslim leaders need to do more to discredit the notion that our nations are determined to suppress Islam, that there’s an inherent clash in civilizations. Everybody has to speak up very clearly that no matter what the grievance, violence against innocents doesn’t defend Islam or Muslims, it damages Islam and Muslims. (Applause.)
And when all of us, together, are doing our part to reject the narratives of violent extremists, when all of us are doing our part to be very clear about the fact that there are certain universal precepts and values that need to be respected in this interconnected world, that’s the beginnings of a partnership.
As we go forward, we need to find new ways to amplify the voices of peace and tolerance and inclusion — and we especially need to do it online. We also need to lift up the voices of those who know the hypocrisy of groups like ISIL firsthand, including former extremists. Their words speak to us today. And I know in some of the discussions these voices have been raised: “I witnessed horrible crimes committed by ISIS.” “It’s not a revolution or jihad…it’s a slaughter…I was shocked by what I did.” “This isn’t what we came for, to kill other Muslims.” “I’m 28 — is this the only future I’m able to imagine?” That’s the voice of so many who were temporarily radicalized and then saw the truth. And they’ve warned other young people not to make the same mistakes as they did. “Do not run after illusions.” “Do not be deceived.” “Do not give up your life for nothing.” We need to lift up those voices.
And in all this work, the greatest resource are communities themselves, especially like those young people who are here today. We are joined by talented young men and women who are pioneering new innovations, and new social media tools, and new ways to reach young people. We’re joined by leaders from the private sector, including high-tech companies, who want to support your efforts. And I want to challenge all of us to build new partnerships that unleash the talents and creativity of young people — young Muslims — not just to expose the lies of extremists but to empower youth to service, and to lift up people’s lives here in America and around the world. And that can be a calling for your generation.
So that’s the first challenge — we’ve got to discredit these ideologies. We have to tackle them head on. And we can’t shy away from these discussions. And too often, folks are, understandably, sensitive about addressing some of these root issues, but we have to talk about them, honestly and clearly. (Applause.) And the reason I believe we have to do so is because I’m so confident that when the truth is out we’ll be successful. Now, a second challenge is we do have to address the grievances that terrorists exploit, including economic grievances. Poverty alone does not cause a person to become a terrorist, any more than poverty alone causes somebody to become a criminal. There are millions of people — billions of people — in the world who live in abject poverty and are focused on what they can do to build up their own lives, and never embrace violent ideologies.
Conversely, there are terrorists who’ve come from extraordinarily wealthy backgrounds, like Osama bin Laden. What’s true, though, is that when millions of people — especially youth — are impoverished and have no hope for the future, when corruption inflicts daily humiliations on people, when there are no outlets by which people can express their concerns, resentments fester. The risk of instability and extremism grow. Where young people have no education, they are more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and radical ideas, because it’s not tested against anything else, they’ve got nothing to weigh. And we’ve seen this across the Middle East and North Africa.
And terrorist groups are all too happy to step into a void. They offer salaries to their foot soldiers so they can support their families. Sometimes they offer social services — schools, health clinics — to do what local governments cannot or will not do. They try to justify their violence in the name of fighting the injustice of corruption that steals from the people — even while those terrorist groups end up committing even worse abuses, like kidnapping and human trafficking.
So if we’re going to prevent people from being susceptible to the false promises of extremism, then the international community has to offer something better. And the United States intends to do its part. We will keep promoting development and growth that is broadly shared, so more people can provide for their families. We’ll keep leading a global effort against corruption, because the culture of the bribe has to be replaced by good governance that doesn’t favor certain groups over others.
Countries have to truly invest in the education and skills and job training that our extraordinary young people need. And by the way, that’s boys and girls, and men and women, because countries will not be truly successful if half their populations — if their girls and their women are denied opportunity. (Applause.) And America will continue to forge new partnerships in entrepreneurship and innovation, and science and technology, so young people from Morocco to Malaysia can start new businesses and create more prosperity.
Just as we address economic grievances, we need to face a third challenge — and that’s addressing the political grievances that are exploited by terrorists. When governments oppress their people, deny human rights, stifle dissent, or marginalize ethnic and religious groups, or favor certain religious groups over others, it sows the seeds of extremism and violence. It makes those communities more vulnerable to recruitment. Terrorist groups claim that change can only come through violence. And if peaceful change is impossible, that plays into extremist propaganda.
So the essential ingredient to real and lasting stability and progress is not less democracy; it’s more democracy. (Applause.) It’s institutions that uphold the rule of law and apply justice equally. It’s security forces and police that respect human rights and treat people with dignity. It’s free speech and strong civil societies where people can organize and assemble and advocate for peaceful change. It’s freedom of religion where all people can practice their faith without fear and intimidation. (Applause.) All of this is part of countering violent extremism.
Fourth, we have to recognize that our best partners in all these efforts, the best people to help protect individuals from falling victim to extremist ideologies are their own communities, their own family members. We have to be honest with ourselves. Terrorist groups like al Qaeda and ISIL deliberately target their propaganda in the hopes of reaching and brainwashing young Muslims, especially those who may be disillusioned or wrestling with their identity. That’s the truth. The high-quality videos, the online magazines, the use of social media, terrorist Twitter accounts — it’s all designed to target today’s young people online, in cyberspace.
And by the way, the older people here, as wise and respected as you may be, your stuff is often boring — (laughter) — compared to what they’re doing. (Applause.) You’re not connected. And as a consequence, you are not connecting.
So these terrorists are a threat, first and foremost, to the communities that they target, which means communities have to take the lead in protecting themselves. And that is true here in America, as it’s true anywhere else. When someone starts getting radicalized, family and friends are often the first to see that something has changed in their personality. Teachers may notice a student becoming withdrawn or struggling with his or her identity, and if they intervene at that moment and offer support, that may make a difference.
Faith leaders may notice that someone is beginning to espouse violent interpretations of religion, and that’s a moment for possible intervention that allows them to think about their actions and reflect on the meaning of their faith in a way that’s more consistent with peace and justice. Families and friends, coworkers, neighbors, faith leaders — they want to reach out; they want to help save their loved ones and friends, and prevent them from taking a wrong turn.
But communities don’t always know the signs to look for, or have the tools to intervene, or know what works best. And that’s where government can play a role — if government is serving as a trusted partner. And that’s where we also need to be honest. I know some Muslim Americans have concerns about working with government, particularly law enforcement. And their reluctance is rooted in the objection to certain practices where Muslim Americans feel they’ve been unfairly targeted.
So, in our work, we have to make sure that abuses stop, are not repeated, that we do not stigmatize entire communities. Nobody should be profiled or put under a cloud of suspicion simply because of their faith. (Applause.) Engagement with communities can’t be a cover for surveillance. We can’t “securitize” our relationship with Muslim Americans — (applause) — dealing with them solely through the prism of law enforcement. Because when we do, that only reinforces suspicions, makes it harder for us to build the trust that we need to work together.
As part of this summit, we’re announcing that we’re going to increase our outreach to communities, including Muslim Americans. We’re going to step up our efforts to engage with partners and raise awareness so more communities understand how to protect their loved ones from becoming radicalized. We’ve got to devote more resources to these efforts. (Applause.)
And as government does more, communities are going to have to step up as well. We need to build on the pilot programs that have been discussed at this summit already — in Los Angeles, in Minneapolis, in Boston. These are partnerships that bring people together in a spirit of mutual respect and create more dialogue and more trust and more cooperation. If we’re going to solve these issues, then the people who are most targeted and potentially most affected — Muslim Americans — have to have a seat at the table where they can help shape and strengthen these partnerships so that we’re all working together to help communities stay safe and strong and resilient. (Applause.)
And finally, we need to do what extremists and terrorists hope we will not do, and that is stay true to the values that define us as free and diverse societies. If extremists are peddling the notion that Western countries are hostile to Muslims, then we need to show that we welcome people of all faiths.
Here in America, Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding. (Applause.) Generations of Muslim immigrants came here and went to work as farmers and merchants and factory workers, helped to lay railroads and build up America. The first Islamic center in New York City was founded in the 1890s. America’s first mosque — this was an interesting fact — was in North Dakota. (Laughter.)
Muslim Americans protect our communities as police officers and firefighters and first responders, and protect our nation by serving in uniform, and in our intelligence communities, and in homeland security. And in cemeteries across our country, including at Arlington, Muslim American heroes rest in peace having given their lives in defense of all of us. (Applause.)
And of course that’s the story extremists and terrorists don’t want the world to know — Muslims succeeding and thriving in America. Because when that truth is known, it exposes their propaganda as the lie that it is. It’s also a story that every American must never forget, because it reminds us all that hatred and bigotry and prejudice have no place in our country. It’s not just counterproductive; it doesn’t just aid terrorists; it’s wrong. It’s contrary to who we are.
I’m thinking of a little girl named Sabrina who last month sent me a Valentine’s Day card in the shape of a heart. It was the first Valentine I got. (Laughter.) I got it from Sabrina before Malia and Sasha and Michelle gave me one. (Laughter.) So she’s 11 years old. She’s in the 5th grade. She’s a young Muslim American. And she said in her Valentine, “I enjoy being an American.” And when she grows up, she wants to be an engineer — or a basketball player. (Laughter.) Which are good choices. (Laughter.) But she wrote, “I am worried about people hating Muslims…If some Muslims do bad things, that doesn’t mean all of them do.” And she asked, “Please tell everyone that we are good people and we’re just like everyone else.” (Applause.) Now, those are the words — and the wisdom — of a little girl growing up here in America, just like my daughters are growing up here in America. “We’re just like everybody else.” And everybody needs to remember that during the course of this debate.
As we move forward with these challenges, we all have responsibilities, we all have hard work ahead of us on this issue. We can’t paper over problems, and we’re not going to solve this if we’re always just trying to be politically correct. But we do have to remember that 11-year-old girl. That’s our hope. That’s our future. That’s how we discredit violent ideologies, by making sure her voice is lifted up; making sure she’s nurtured; making sure that she’s supported — and then, recognizing there are little girls and boys like that all around the world, and us helping to address economic and political grievances that can be exploited by extremists, and empowering local communities, and us staying true to our values as a diverse and tolerant society even when we’re threatened — especially when we’re threatened.
There will be a military component to this. There are savage cruelties going on out there that have to be stopped. ISIL is killing Muslims at a rate that is many multiples the rate that they’re killing non-Muslims. Everybody has a stake in stopping them, and there will be an element of us just stopping them in their tracks with force. But to eliminate the soil out of which they grew, to make sure that we are giving a brighter future to everyone and a lasting sense of security, then we’re going to have to make it clear to all of our children — including that little girl in 5th grade — that you have a place. You have a place here in America. You have a place in those countries where you live. You have a future.
Ultimately, those are the antidotes to violent extremism. And that’s work that we’re going to have to do together. It will take time. This is a generational challenge. But after 238 years, it should be obvious — America has overcome much bigger challenges, and we’ll overcome the ones that we face today. We will stay united and committed to the ideals that have shaped us for more than two centuries, including the opportunity and justice and dignity of every single human being.
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
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Story 2: Memo To Obama Administration: Read Graeme Wood’s Atlantic Monthly Article: What ISIS Really Wants? — Videos
Journalist Graeme Wood on the Islamic State: VICE Meets
Islamic State militants ‘burn to death 45 in Iraq
Islamic State: The New Terror
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The Islamic State (Full Length)
The Islamic State, a hardline Sunni jihadist group that formerly had ties to al Qaeda, has conquered large swathes of Iraq and Syria. Previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the group has announced its intention to reestablish the caliphate and has declared its leader, the shadowy Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as the caliph.
The lightning advances the Islamic State made across Syria and Iraq in June shocked the world. But it’s not just the group’s military victories that have garnered attention — it’s also the pace with which its members have begun to carve out a viable state.
Flush with cash and US weapons seized during its advances in Iraq, the Islamic State’s expansion shows no sign of slowing down. In the first week of August alone, Islamic State fighters have taken over new areas in northern Iraq, encroaching on Kurdish territory and sending Christians and other minorities fleeing as reports of massacres emerged.
VICE News reporter Medyan Dairieh spent three weeks embedded with the Islamic State, gaining unprecedented access to the group in Iraq and Syria as the first and only journalist to document its inner workings.
Embedded with Al-Qaeda in Syria: ISIS and al-Nusra
Three years ago, an uprising against the Assad regime turned into what looked like a straightforward civil war between Syrian government forces and rebels. However, over time, what had started as a largely secular opposition movement began to take on more of a radical Islamist tone, with two al Qaeda offshoots — the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra — becoming the dominant forces on the ground across the rebel-held North.
One VICE filmmaker managed to secure unprecedented access to both al-Qaeda factions battling Syria’s government forces, despite the risk of journalists being kidnapped. This is a remarkable portrait of the foreign volunteers and local Syrians willing to fight and die to establish a new caliphate on Europe’s doorstep.
Ghosts of Aleppo (Full Length)
A City Left in Ruins: The Battle for Aleppo
Should ISIS Be Burning Captives? (David Wood)
Who Are The Salafis and Wahhabies Yusuf Estes Islam
Bernard Haykel: How Islamic is the Islamic State?
Prof Haykel on the Islamic State and Al Qaeda
IS is a symptom of a deep feeling amongst Sunni Arabs of being disenfranchised. […] It is the same sentiment that led to the emergence of Al-Qaeda.”
Professor Bernard Haykel of Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies elaborates on the root causes for the rise of the Islamic State, as a movement responding to the systemic disenfranchisement of Sunnis in the region.
Professor Haykel also explains why IS surpassed Al Qaeda in popularity and why the Arabian Peninsula has so vigorously supported U.S.- led airstrikes against IS.
Talking to War and Peace Talk, Professor Haykel responded to questions such as:
Why do people from the West join the Islamic State?
Why do the recruits burn their passports?
Should Western governments withdraw citizenship from jihadis?
What should be done about returning jihadis?
Can they be de-radicalized?
The interview was recorded in Amsterdam on November 14, 2014.
The Folly of Bombing the Islamic State
Killing Al-Baghdadi: the end of the Caliphate or part of the narrative?
SIS Tilting the Chess Board: The Dawn of a New Middle East Balance of Power – H. van Lynden lecture
The Henriette van Lynden lecture ‘ISIS Tilting the Chess Board: The Dawn of a New Middle East Balance of Power’, organised by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was held on Friday, 14 November 2014 in de Rode Hoed, Amsterdam.
The rise of ISIS as a failure of governance & the need for a broader response than CT-policy, by Ms. Mina al-Oraibi [0:6:36]
Links of ISIS ideology to Saudi Arabia’s wahabism and policy options by Prof. Bernard Haykel [0:19:52]
Iran’s interests and vision in the fight against ISIS by Dr. Ali Vaez [0:35:44]
Panel discussion moderated by Ernesto Braam [0:50:20]
Audience Q&A [1:05:25]
Ms. Mina al-Oraibi
Born in Iraq, she is the deputy editor-in-chief of prominent Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. She is an expert on transitions in the Arab region and American military doctrine. She regularly speaks with heads of state in the Middle East.
Prof. Bernard Haykel
Professor of Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University, specialised in Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region. In addition, he is an Islam expert who focuses on Salafi movements and the roots of ISIS ideology. Particularly noteworthy is his contribution to the leading bestseller ‘Global Salafism’.
Dr. Ali Vaez
As an expert on Iran at the International Crisis Group in Washington D.C., he is a sought-after speaker on Iran’s influence in the region. He regularly appears on BBC and CNN, and publishes in Foreign Policy and the International Herald Tribune, among others.
Genieve Abdo and Bernard Haykel – “Understanding the Complexities of Sunni — Shi’a Relations”
Rising Sunni-Shiite violence threatens security in Iraq
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 1
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 2
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 3
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 4
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 5
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 6
Clifford Chanin interviews Professor Bernard Haykel part 7
Christiane Amanpour interviews Princeton Professor Bernard Haykel on Yemen
Bernard Haykel: Saudi Arabia’s Royal Family and the State
Bernard Haykel: Saudi Arabia’s Relationship with the U.S.
What ISIS Really Wants
By Graeme Wood
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
The group seized Mosul, Iraq, last June, and already rules an area larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been its leader since May 2010, but until last summer, his most recent known appearance on film was a grainy mug shot from a stay in U.S. captivity at Camp Bucca during the occupation of Iraq. Then, on July 5 of last year, he stepped into the pulpit of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, to deliver a Ramadan sermon as the first caliph in generations—upgrading his resolution from grainy to high-definition, and his position from hunted guerrilla to commander of all Muslims. The inflow of jihadists that followed, from around the world, was unprecedented in its pace and volume, and is continuing.
Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. Baghdadi has spoken on camera only once. But his address, and the Islamic State’s countless other propaganda videos and encyclicals, are online, and the caliphate’s supporters have toiled mightily to make their project knowable. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.
The Islamic State, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), follows a distinctive variety of Islam whose beliefs about the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy, and can help the West know its enemy and predict its behavior. Its rise to power is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (a group whose leaders the Islamic State considers apostates) than like the realization of a dystopian alternate reality in which David Koresh or Jim Jones survived to wield absolute power over not just a few hundred people, but some 8 million.
We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. The Islamic State supporters I spoke with still refer to Osama bin Laden as “Sheikh Osama,” a title of honor. But jihadism has evolved since al-Qaeda’s heyday, from about 1998 to 2003, and many jihadists disdain the group’s priorities and current leadership.
Bin Laden viewed his terrorism as a prologue to a caliphate he did not expect to see in his lifetime. His organization was flexible, operating as a geographically diffuse network of autonomous cells. The Islamic State, by contrast, requires territory to remain legitimate, and a top-down structure to rule it. (Its bureaucracy is divided into civil and military arms, and its territory into provinces.)
We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. Peter Bergen, who produced the first interview with bin Laden in 1997, titled his first book Holy War, Inc. in part to acknowledge bin Laden as a creature of the modern secular world. Bin Laden corporatized terror and franchised it out. He requested specific political concessions, such as the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Saudi Arabia. His foot soldiers navigated the modern world confidently. On Mohammad Atta’s last full day of life, he shopped at Walmart and ate dinner at Pizza Hut.
Nearly all the Islamic State’s decisions adhere to what it calls, on its billboards, license plates, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology.”
There is a temptation to rehearse this observation—that jihadists are modern secular people, with modern political concerns, wearing medieval religious disguise—and make it fit the Islamic State. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.
The most-articulate spokesmen for that position are the Islamic State’s officials and supporters themselves. They refer derisively to “moderns.” In conversation, they insist that they will not—cannot—waver from governing precepts that were embedded in Islam by the Prophet Muhammad and his earliest followers. They often speak in codes and allusions that sound odd or old-fashioned to non-Muslims, but refer to specific traditions and texts of early Islam.
To take one example: In September, Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the Islamic State’s chief spokesman, called on Muslims in Western countries such as France and Canada to find an infidel and “smash his head with a rock,” poison him, run him over with a car, or “destroy his crops.” To Western ears, the biblical-sounding punishments—the stoning and crop destruction—juxtaposed strangely with his more modern-sounding call to vehicular homicide. (As if to show that he could terrorize by imagery alone, Adnani also referred to Secretary of State John Kerry as an “uncircumcised geezer.”)
But Adnani was not merely talking trash. His speech was laced with theological and legal discussion, and his exhortation to attack crops directly echoed orders from Muhammad to leave well water and crops alone—unless the armies of Islam were in a defensive position, in which case Muslims in the lands of kuffar, or infidels, should be unmerciful, and poison away.
The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic. Yes, it has attracted psychopaths and adventure seekers, drawn largely from the disaffected populations of the Middle East and Europe. But the religion preached by its most ardent followers derives from coherent and even learned interpretations of Islam.
Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to what it calls, in its press and pronouncements, and on its billboards, license plates, stationery, and coins, “the Prophetic methodology,” which means following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail. Muslims can reject the Islamic State; nearly all do. But pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it. We’ll need to get acquainted with the Islamic State’s intellectual genealogy if we are to react in a way that will not strengthen it, but instead help it self-immolate in its own excessive zeal.
Control of territory is an essential precondition for the Islamic State’s authority in the eyes of its supporters. This map, adapted from the work of the Institute for the Study of War, shows the territory under the caliphate’s control as of January 15, along with areas it has attacked. Where it holds power, the state collects taxes, regulates prices, operates courts, and administers services ranging from health care and education to telecommunications.
In November, the Islamic State released an infomercial-like video tracing its origins to bin Laden. It acknowledged Abu Musa’b al Zarqawi, the brutal head of al‑Qaeda in Iraq from roughly 2003 until his killing in 2006, as a more immediate progenitor, followed sequentially by two other guerrilla leaders before Baghdadi, the caliph. Notably unmentioned: bin Laden’s successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, the owlish Egyptian eye surgeon who currently heads al‑Qaeda. Zawahiri has not pledged allegiance to Baghdadi, and he is increasingly hated by his fellow jihadists. His isolation is not helped by his lack of charisma; in videos he comes across as squinty and annoyed. But the split between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State has been long in the making, and begins to explain, at least in part, the outsize bloodlust of the latter.
Zawahiri’s companion in isolation is a Jordanian cleric named Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, 55, who has a fair claim to being al-Qaeda’s intellectual architect and the most important jihadist unknown to the average American newspaper reader. On most matters of doctrine, Maqdisi and the Islamic State agree. Both are closely identified with the jihadist wing of a branch of Sunnism called Salafism, after the Arabic al salaf al salih, the “pious forefathers.” These forefathers are the Prophet himself and his earliest adherents, whom Salafis honor and emulate as the models for all behavior, including warfare, couture, family life, even dentistry.
The Islamic State awaits the army of “Rome,” whose defeat at Dabiq, Syria, will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse.
Maqdisi taught Zarqawi, who went to war in Iraq with the older man’s advice in mind. In time, though, Zarqawi surpassed his mentor in fanaticism, and eventually earned his rebuke. At issue was Zarqawi’s penchant for bloody spectacle—and, as a matter of doctrine, his hatred of other Muslims, to the point of excommunicating and killing them. In Islam, the practice of takfir, or excommunication, is theologically perilous. “If a man says to his brother, ‘You are an infidel,’ ” the Prophet said, “then one of them is right.” If the accuser is wrong, he himself has committed apostasy by making a false accusation. The punishment for apostasy is death. And yet Zarqawi heedlessly expanded the range of behavior that could make Muslims infidels.
Maqdisi wrote to his former pupil that he needed to exercise caution and “not issue sweeping proclamations of takfir” or “proclaim people to be apostates because of their sins.” The distinction between apostate and sinner may appear subtle, but it is a key point of contention between al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Denying the holiness of the Koran or the prophecies of Muhammad is straightforward apostasy. But Zarqawi and the state he spawned take the position that many other acts can remove a Muslim from Islam. These include, in certain cases, selling alcohol or drugs, wearing Western clothes or shaving one’s beard, voting in an election—even for a Muslim candidate—and being lax about calling other people apostates. Being a Shiite, as most Iraqi Arabs are, meets the standard as well, because the Islamic State regards Shiism as innovation, and to innovate on the Koran is to deny its initial perfection. (The Islamic State claims that common Shiite practices, such as worship at the graves of imams and public self-flagellation, have no basis in the Koran or in the example of the Prophet.) That means roughly 200 million Shia are marked for death. So too are the heads of state of every Muslim country, who have elevated man-made law above Sharia by running for office or enforcing laws not made by God.
Following takfiri doctrine, the Islamic State is committed to purifying the world by killing vast numbers of people. The lack of objective reporting from its territory makes the true extent of the slaughter unknowable, but social-media posts from the region suggest that individual executions happen more or less continually, and mass executions every few weeks. Muslim “apostates” are the most common victims. Exempted from automatic execution, it appears, are Christians who do not resist their new government. Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.
Musa Cerantonio, an Australian preacher reported to be one of the Islamic State’s most influential recruiters, believes it is foretold that the caliphate will sack Istanbul before it is beaten back by an army led by the anti-Messiah, whose eventual death— when just a few thousand jihadists remain—will usher in the apocalypse. (Paul Jeffers/Fairfax Media)
Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe, and since men stopped dying in large numbers because of arcane theological disputes. Hence, perhaps, the incredulity and denial with which Westerners have greeted news of the theology and practices of the Islamic State. Many refuse to believe that this group is as devout as it claims to be, or as backward-looking or apocalyptic as its actions and statements suggest.
Their skepticism is comprehensible. In the past, Westerners who accused Muslims of blindly following ancient scriptures came to deserved grief from academics—notably the late Edward Said—who pointed out that calling Muslims “ancient” was usually just another way to denigrate them. Look instead, these scholars urged, to the conditions in which these ideologies arose—the bad governance, the shifting social mores, the humiliation of living in lands valued only for their oil.
Without acknowledgment of these factors, no explanation of the rise of the Islamic State could be complete. But focusing on them to the exclusion of ideology reflects another kind of Western bias: that if religious ideology doesn’t matter much in Washington or Berlin, surely it must be equally irrelevant in Raqqa or Mosul. When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.
Many mainstream Muslim organizations have gone so far as to say the Islamic State is, in fact, un-Islamic. It is, of course, reassuring to know that the vast majority of Muslims have zero interest in replacing Hollywood movies with public executions as evening entertainment. But Muslims who call the Islamic State un-Islamic are typically, as the Princeton scholar Bernard Haykel, the leading expert on the group’s theology, told me, “embarrassed and politically correct, with a cotton-candy view of their own religion” that neglects “what their religion has historically and legally required.” Many denials of the Islamic State’s religious nature, he said, are rooted in an “interfaith-Christian-nonsense tradition.”
Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel. Of partial Lebanese descent, Haykel grew up in Lebanon and the United States, and when he talks through his Mephistophelian goatee, there is a hint of an unplaceable foreign accent.
According to Haykel, the ranks of the Islamic State are deeply infused with religious vigor. Koranic quotations are ubiquitous. “Even the foot soldiers spout this stuff constantly,” Haykel said. “They mug for their cameras and repeat their basic doctrines in formulaic fashion, and they do it all the time.” He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.” Those texts are shared by all Sunni Muslims, not just the Islamic State. “And these guys have just as much legitimacy as anyone else.”
All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs, and that the laws of war passed down in the Koran and in the narrations of the Prophet’s rule were calibrated to fit a turbulent and violent time. In Haykel’s estimation, the fighters of the Islamic State are authentic throwbacks to early Islam and are faithfully reproducing its norms of war. This behavior includes a number of practices that modern Muslims tend to prefer not to acknowledge as integral to their sacred texts. “Slavery, crucifixion, and beheadings are not something that freakish [jihadists] are cherry-picking from the medieval tradition,” Haykel said. Islamic State fighters “are smack in the middle of the medieval tradition and are bringing it wholesale into the present day.”
Our failure to appreciate the essential differences between ISIS and al-Qaeda has led to dangerous decisions.
The Koran specifies crucifixion as one of the only punishments permitted for enemies of Islam. The tax on Christians finds clear endorsement in the Surah Al-Tawba, the Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” The Prophet, whom all Muslims consider exemplary, imposed these rules and owned slaves.
Leaders of the Islamic State have taken emulation of Muhammad as strict duty, and have revived traditions that have been dormant for hundreds of years. “What’s striking about them is not just the literalism, but also the seriousness with which they read these texts,” Haykel said. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness that Muslims don’t normally have.”
Before the rise of the Islamic State, no group in the past few centuries had attempted more-radical fidelity to the Prophetic model than the Wahhabis of 18th‑century Arabia. They conquered most of what is now Saudi Arabia, and their strict practices survive in a diluted version of Sharia there. Haykel sees an important distinction between the groups, though: “The Wahhabis were not wanton in their violence.” They were surrounded by Muslims, and they conquered lands that were already Islamic; this stayed their hand. “ISIS, by contrast, is really reliving the early period.” Early Muslims were surrounded by non-Muslims, and the Islamic State, because of its takfiri tendencies, considers itself to be in the same situation.
If al-Qaeda wanted to revive slavery, it never said so. And why would it? Silence on slavery probably reflected strategic thinking, with public sympathies in mind: when the Islamic State began enslaving people, even some of its supporters balked. Nonetheless, the caliphate has continued to embrace slavery and crucifixion without apology. “We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women,” Adnani, the spokesman, promised in one of his periodic valentines to the West. “If we do not reach that time, then our children and grandchildren will reach it, and they will sell your sons as slaves at the slave market.”
In October, Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State, published “The Revival of Slavery Before the Hour,” an article that took up the question of whether Yazidis (the members of an ancient Kurdish sect that borrows elements of Islam, and had come under attack from Islamic State forces in northern Iraq) are lapsed Muslims, and therefore marked for death, or merely pagans and therefore fair game for enslavement. A study group of Islamic State scholars had convened, on government orders, to resolve this issue. If they are pagans, the article’s anonymous author wrote,
Yazidi women and children [are to be] divided according to the Shariah amongst the fighters of the Islamic State who participated in the Sinjar operations [in northern Iraq] … Enslaving the families of the kuffar [infidels] and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah that if one were to deny or mock, he would be denying or mocking the verses of the Koran and the narrations of the Prophet … and thereby apostatizing from Islam.
Tens of thousands of foreign Muslims are thought to have immigrated to the Islamic State. Recruits hail from France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, and many other places. Many have come to fight, and many intend to die.
Peter R. Neumann, a professor at King’s College London, told me that online voices have been essential to spreading propaganda and ensuring that newcomers know what to believe. Online recruitment has also widened the demographics of the jihadist community, by allowing conservative Muslim women—physically isolated in their homes—to reach out to recruiters, radicalize, and arrange passage to Syria. Through its appeals to both genders, the Islamic State hopes to build a complete society.
In November, I traveled to Australia to meet Musa Cerantonio, a 30-year-old man whom Neumann and other researchers had identified as one of the two most important “new spiritual authorities” guiding foreigners to join the Islamic State. For three years he was a televangelist on Iqraa TV in Cairo, but he left after the station objected to his frequent calls to establish a caliphate. Now he preaches on Facebook and Twitter.
Cerantonio—a big, friendly man with a bookish demeanor—told me he blanches at beheading videos. He hates seeing the violence, even though supporters of the Islamic State are required to endorse it. (He speaks out, controversially among jihadists, against suicide bombing, on the grounds that God forbids suicide; he differs from the Islamic State on a few other points as well.) He has the kind of unkempt facial hair one sees on certain overgrown fans of The Lord of the Rings, and his obsession with Islamic apocalypticism felt familiar. He seemed to be living out a drama that looks, from an outsider’s perspective, like a medieval fantasy novel, only with real blood.
Last June, Cerantonio and his wife tried to emigrate—he wouldn’t say to where (“It’s illegal to go to Syria,” he said cagily)—but they were caught en route, in the Philippines, and he was deported back to Australia for overstaying his visa. Australia has criminalized attempts to join or travel to the Islamic State, and has confiscated Cerantonio’s passport. He is stuck in Melbourne, where he is well known to the local constabulary. If Cerantonio were caught facilitating the movement of individuals to the Islamic State, he would be imprisoned. So far, though, he is free—a technically unaffiliated ideologue who nonetheless speaks with what other jihadists have taken to be a reliable voice on matters of the Islamic State’s doctrine.
We met for lunch in Footscray, a dense, multicultural Melbourne suburb that’s home to Lonely Planet, the travel-guide publisher. Cerantonio grew up there in a half-Irish, half-Calabrian family. On a typical street one can find African restaurants, Vietnamese shops, and young Arabs walking around in the Salafi uniform of scraggly beard, long shirt, and trousers ending halfway down the calves.
Cerantonio explained the joy he felt when Baghdadi was declared the caliph on June 29—and the sudden, magnetic attraction that Mesopotamia began to exert on him and his friends. “I was in a hotel [in the Philippines], and I saw the declaration on television,” he told me. “And I was just amazed, and I’m like, Why am I stuck here in this bloody room?”
The last caliphate was the Ottoman empire, which reached its peak in the 16th century and then experienced a long decline, until the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, euthanized it in 1924. But Cerantonio, like many supporters of the Islamic State, doesn’t acknowledge that caliphate as legitimate, because it didn’t fully enforce Islamic law, which requires stonings and slavery and amputations, and because its caliphs were not descended from the tribe of the Prophet, the Quraysh.
Baghdadi spoke at length of the importance of the caliphate in his Mosul sermon. He said that to revive the institution of the caliphate—which had not functioned except in name for about 1,000 years—was a communal obligation. He and his loyalists had “hastened to declare the caliphate and place an imam” at its head, he said. “This is a duty upon the Muslims—a duty that has been lost for centuries … The Muslims sin by losing it, and they must always seek to establish it.” Like bin Laden before him, Baghdadi spoke floridly, with frequent scriptural allusion and command of classical rhetoric. Unlike bin Laden, and unlike those false caliphs of the Ottoman empire, he is Qurayshi.
The caliphate, Cerantonio told me, is not just a political entity but also a vehicle for salvation. Islamic State propaganda regularly reports the pledges of baya’a (allegiance) rolling in from jihadist groups across the Muslim world. Cerantonio quoted a Prophetic saying, that to die without pledging allegiance is to die jahil (ignorant) and therefore die a “death of disbelief.” Consider how Muslims (or, for that matter, Christians) imagine God deals with the souls of people who die without learning about the one true religion. They are neither obviously saved nor definitively condemned. Similarly, Cerantonio said, the Muslim who acknowledges one omnipotent god and prays, but who dies without pledging himself to a valid caliph and incurring the obligations of that oath, has failed to live a fully Islamic life. I pointed out that this means the vast majority of Muslims in history, and all who passed away between 1924 and 2014, died a death of disbelief. Cerantonio nodded gravely. “I would go so far as to say that Islam has been reestablished” by the caliphate.
I asked him about his own baya’a, and he quickly corrected me: “I didn’t say that I’d pledged allegiance.” Under Australian law, he reminded me, giving baya’a to the Islamic State was illegal. “But I agree that [Baghdadi] fulfills the requirements,” he continued. “I’m just going to wink at you, and you take that to mean whatever you want.”
To be the caliph, one must meet conditions outlined in Sunni law—being a Muslim adult man of Quraysh descent; exhibiting moral probity and physical and mental integrity; and having ’amr, or authority. This last criterion, Cerantonio said, is the hardest to fulfill, and requires that the caliph have territory in which he can enforce Islamic law. Baghdadi’s Islamic State achieved that long before June 29, Cerantonio said, and as soon as it did, a Western convert within the group’s ranks—Cerantonio described him as “something of a leader”—began murmuring about the religious obligation to declare a caliphate. He and others spoke quietly to those in power and told them that further delay would be sinful.
Social-media posts from the Islamic State suggest that executions happen more or less continually.
Cerantonio said a faction arose that was prepared to make war on Baghdadi’s group if it delayed any further. They prepared a letter to various powerful members of ISIS, airing their displeasure at the failure to appoint a caliph, but were pacified by Adnani, the spokesman, who let them in on a secret—that a caliphate had already been declared, long before the public announcement. They had their legitimate caliph, and at that point there was only one option. “If he’s legitimate,” Cerantonio said, “you must give him the baya’a.”
After Baghdadi’s July sermon, a stream of jihadists began flowing daily into Syria with renewed motivation. Jürgen Todenhöfer, a German author and former politician who visited the Islamic State in December, reported the arrival of 100 fighters at one Turkish-border recruitment station in just two days. His report, among others, suggests a still-steady inflow of foreigners, ready to give up everything at home for a shot at paradise in the worst place on Earth.
Bernard Haykel, the foremost secular authority on the Islamic State’s ideology, believes the group is trying to re-create the earliest days of Islam and is faithfully reproducing its norms of war. “There is an assiduous, obsessive seriousness” about the group’s dedication to the text of the Koran, he says. (Peter Murphy)
In London, a week before my meal with Cerantonio, I met with three ex-members of a banned Islamist group called Al Muhajiroun (The Emigrants): Anjem Choudary, Abu Baraa, and Abdul Muhid. They all expressed desire to emigrate to the Islamic State, as many of their colleagues already had, but the authorities had confiscated their passports. Like Cerantonio, they regarded the caliphate as the only righteous government on Earth, though none would confess having pledged allegiance. Their principal goal in meeting me was to explain what the Islamic State stands for, and how its policies reflect God’s law.
Choudary, 48, is the group’s former leader. He frequently appears on cable news, as one of the few people producers can book who will defend the Islamic State vociferously, until his mike is cut. He has a reputation in the United Kingdom as a loathsome blowhard, but he and his disciples sincerely believe in the Islamic State and, on matters of doctrine, speak in its voice. Choudary and the others feature prominently in the Twitter feeds of Islamic State residents, and Abu Baraa maintains a YouTube channel to answer questions about Sharia.
Since September, authorities have been investigating the three men on suspicion of supporting terrorism. Because of this investigation, they had to meet me separately: communication among them would have violated the terms of their bail. But speaking with them felt like speaking with the same person wearing different masks. Choudary met me in a candy shop in the East London suburb of Ilford. He was dressed smartly, in a crisp blue tunic reaching nearly to his ankles, and sipped a Red Bull while we talked.
Before the caliphate, “maybe 85 percent of the Sharia was absent from our lives,” Choudary told me. “These laws are in abeyance until we have khilafa”—a caliphate—“and now we have one.” Without a caliphate, for example, individual vigilantes are not obliged to amputate the hands of thieves they catch in the act. But create a caliphate, and this law, along with a huge body of other jurisprudence, suddenly awakens. In theory, all Muslims are obliged to immigrate to the territory where the caliph is applying these laws. One of Choudary’s prize students, a convert from Hinduism named Abu Rumaysah, evaded police to bring his family of five from London to Syria in November. On the day I met Choudary, Abu Rumaysah tweeted out a picture of himself with a Kalashnikov in one arm and his newborn son in the other. Hashtag: #GenerationKhilafah.
The caliph is required to implement Sharia. Any deviation will compel those who have pledged allegiance to inform the caliph in private of his error and, in extreme cases, to excommunicate and replace him if he persists. (“I have been plagued with this great matter, plagued with this responsibility, and it is a heavy responsibility,” Baghdadi said in his sermon.) In return, the caliph commands obedience—and those who persist in supporting non-Muslim governments, after being duly warned and educated about their sin, are considered apostates.
Choudary said Sharia has been misunderstood because of its incomplete application by regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which does behead murderers and cut off thieves’ hands. “The problem,” he explained, “is that when places like Saudi Arabia just implement the penal code, and don’t provide the social and economic justice of the Sharia—the whole package—they simply engender hatred toward the Sharia.” That whole package, he said, would include free housing, food, and clothing for all, though of course anyone who wished to enrich himself with work could do so.
Abdul Muhid, 32, continued along these lines. He was dressed in mujahideen chic when I met him at a local restaurant: scruffy beard, Afghan cap, and a wallet outside of his clothes, attached with what looked like a shoulder holster. When we sat down, he was eager to discuss welfare. The Islamic State may have medieval-style punishments for moral crimes (lashes for boozing or fornication, stoning for adultery), but its social-welfare program is, at least in some aspects, progressive to a degree that would please an MSNBC pundit. Health care, he said, is free. (“Isn’t it free in Britain, too?,” I asked. “Not really,” he said. “Some procedures aren’t covered, such as vision.”) This provision of social welfare was not, he said, a policy choice of the Islamic State, but a policy obligation inherent in God’s law.
Anjem Choudary, London’s most notorious defender of the Islamic State, says crucifixion and beheading are sacred requirements. (Tal Cohen/Reuters)
III. The Apocalypse
All Muslims acknowledge that God is the only one who knows the future. But they also agree that he has offered us a peek at it, in the Koran and in narrations of the Prophet. The Islamic State differs from nearly every other current jihadist movement in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character. It is in this casting that the Islamic State is most boldly distinctive from its predecessors, and clearest in the religious nature of its mission.
In broad strokes, al-Qaeda acts like an underground political movement, with worldly goals in sight at all times—the expulsion of non-Muslims from the Arabian peninsula, the abolishment of the state of Israel, the end of support for dictatorships in Muslim lands. The Islamic State has its share of worldly concerns (including, in the places it controls, collecting garbage and keeping the water running), but the End of Days is a leitmotif of its propaganda. Bin Laden rarely mentioned the apocalypse, and when he did, he seemed to presume that he would be long dead when the glorious moment of divine comeuppance finally arrived. “Bin Laden and Zawahiri are from elite Sunni families who look down on this kind of speculation and think it’s something the masses engage in,” says Will McCants of the Brookings Institution, who is writing a book about the Islamic State’s apocalyptic thought.
During the last years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Islamic State’s immediate founding fathers, by contrast, saw signs of the end times everywhere. They were anticipating, within a year, the arrival of the Mahdi—a messianic figure destined to lead the Muslims to victory before the end of the world. McCants says a prominent Islamist in Iraq approached bin Laden in 2008 to warn him that the group was being led by millenarians who were “talking all the time about the Mahdi and making strategic decisions” based on when they thought the Mahdi was going to arrive. “Al-Qaeda had to write to [these leaders] to say ‘Cut it out.’ ”
For certain true believers—the kind who long for epic good-versus-evil battles—visions of apocalyptic bloodbaths fulfill a deep psychological need. Of the Islamic State supporters I met, Musa Cerantonio, the Australian, expressed the deepest interest in the apocalypse and how the remaining days of the Islamic State—and the world—might look. Parts of that prediction are original to him, and do not yet have the status of doctrine. But other parts are based on mainstream Sunni sources and appear all over the Islamic State’s propaganda. These include the belief that there will be only 12 legitimate caliphs, and Baghdadi is the eighth; that the armies of Rome will mass to meet the armies of Islam in northern Syria; and that Islam’s final showdown with an anti-Messiah will occur in Jerusalem after a period of renewed Islamic conquest.
The Islamic State has attached great importance to the Syrian city of Dabiq, near Aleppo. It named its propaganda magazine after the town, and celebrated madly when (at great cost) it conquered Dabiq’s strategically unimportant plains. It is here, the Prophet reportedly said, that the armies of Rome will set up their camp. The armies of Islam will meet them, and Dabiq will be Rome’s Waterloo or its Antietam.
“Dabiq is basically all farmland,” one Islamic State supporter recently tweeted. “You could imagine large battles taking place there.” The Islamic State’s propagandists drool with anticipation of this event, and constantly imply that it will come soon. The state’s magazine quotes Zarqawi as saying, “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify … until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.” A recent propaganda video shows clips from Hollywood war movies set in medieval times—perhaps because many of the prophecies specify that the armies will be on horseback or carrying ancient weapons.
Now that it has taken Dabiq, the Islamic State awaits the arrival of an enemy army there, whose defeat will initiate the countdown to the apocalypse. Western media frequently miss references to Dabiq in the Islamic State’s videos, and focus instead on lurid scenes of beheading. “Here we are, burying the first American crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive,” said a masked executioner in a November video, showing the severed head of Peter (Abdul Rahman) Kassig, the aid worker who’d been held captive for more than a year. During fighting in Iraq in December, after mujahideen (perhaps inaccurately) reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts or hostesses upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
The Prophetic narration that foretells the Dabiq battle refers to the enemy as Rome. Who “Rome” is, now that the pope has no army, remains a matter of debate. But Cerantonio makes a case that Rome meant the Eastern Roman empire, which had its capital in what is now Istanbul. We should think of Rome as the Republic of Turkey—the same republic that ended the last self-identified caliphate, 90 years ago. Other Islamic State sources suggest that Rome might mean any infidel army, and the Americans will do nicely.
After mujahideen reported having seen American soldiers in battle, Islamic State Twitter accounts erupted in spasms of pleasure, like overenthusiastic hosts upon the arrival of the first guests at a party.
After its battle in Dabiq, Cerantonio said, the caliphate will expand and sack Istanbul. Some believe it will then cover the entire Earth, but Cerantonio suggested its tide may never reach beyond the Bosporus. An anti-Messiah, known in Muslim apocalyptic literature as Dajjal, will come from the Khorasan region of eastern Iran and kill a vast number of the caliphate’s fighters, until just 5,000 remain, cornered in Jerusalem. Just as Dajjal prepares to finish them off, Jesus—the second-most-revered prophet in Islam—will return to Earth, spear Dajjal, and lead the Muslims to victory.
“Only God knows” whether the Islamic State’s armies are the ones foretold, Cerantonio said. But he is hopeful. “The Prophet said that one sign of the imminent arrival of the End of Days is that people will for a long while stop talking about the End of Days,” he said. “If you go to the mosques now, you’ll find the preachers are silent about this subject.” On this theory, even setbacks dealt to the Islamic State mean nothing, since God has preordained the near-destruction of his people anyway. The Islamic State has its best and worst days ahead of it.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was declared caliph by his followers last summer. The establishment of a caliphate awakened large sections of Koranic law that had lain dormant, and required those Muslims who recognized the caliphate to immigrate. (Associated Press)
IV. The Fight
The ideological purity of the Islamic State has one compensating virtue: it allows us to predict some of the group’s actions. Osama bin Laden was seldom predictable. He ended his first television interview cryptically. CNN’s Peter Arnett asked him, “What are your future plans?” Bin Laden replied, “You’ll see them and hear about them in the media, God willing.” By contrast, the Islamic State boasts openly about its plans—not all of them, but enough so that by listening carefully, we can deduce how it intends to govern and expand.
In London, Choudary and his students provided detailed descriptions of how the Islamic State must conduct its foreign policy, now that it is a caliphate. It has already taken up what Islamic law refers to as “offensive jihad,” the forcible expansion into countries that are ruled by non-Muslims. “Hitherto, we were just defending ourselves,” Choudary said; without a caliphate, offensive jihad is an inapplicable concept. But the waging of war to expand the caliphate is an essential duty of the caliph.
Choudary took pains to present the laws of war under which the Islamic State operates as policies of mercy rather than of brutality. He told me the state has an obligation to terrorize its enemies—a holy order to scare the shit out of them with beheadings and crucifixions and enslavement of women and children, because doing so hastens victory and avoids prolonged conflict.
Choudary’s colleague Abu Baraa explained that Islamic law permits only temporary peace treaties, lasting no longer than a decade. Similarly, accepting any border is anathema, as stated by the Prophet and echoed in the Islamic State’s propaganda videos. If the caliph consents to a longer-term peace or permanent border, he will be in error. Temporary peace treaties are renewable, but may not be applied to all enemies at once: the caliph must wage jihad at least once a year. He may not rest, or he will fall into a state of sin.
One comparison to the Islamic State is the Khmer Rouge, which killed about a third of the population of Cambodia. But the Khmer Rouge occupied Cambodia’s seat at the United Nations. “This is not permitted,” Abu Baraa said. “To send an ambassador to the UN is to recognize an authority other than God’s.” This form of diplomacy is shirk, or polytheism, he argued, and would be immediate cause to hereticize and replace Baghdadi. Even to hasten the arrival of a caliphate by democratic means—for example by voting for political candidates who favor a caliphate—is shirk.
It’s hard to overstate how hamstrung the Islamic State will be by its radicalism. The modern international system, born of the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, relies on each state’s willingness to recognize borders, however grudgingly. For the Islamic State, that recognition is ideological suicide. Other Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, have succumbed to the blandishments of democracy and the potential for an invitation to the community of nations, complete with a UN seat. Negotiation and accommodation have worked, at times, for the Taliban as well. (Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan exchanged ambassadors with Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates, an act that invalidated the Taliban’s authority in the Islamic State’s eyes.) To the Islamic State these are not options, but acts of apostasy.
The United States and its allies have reacted to the Islamic State belatedly and in an apparent daze. The group’s ambitions and rough strategic blueprints were evident in its pronouncements and in social-media chatter as far back as 2011, when it was just one of many terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq and hadn’t yet committed mass atrocities. Adnani, the spokesman, told followers then that the group’s ambition was to “restore the Islamic caliphate,” and he evoked the apocalypse, saying, “There are but a few days left.” Baghdadi had already styled himself “commander of the faithful,” a title ordinarily reserved for caliphs, in 2011. In April 2013, Adnani declared the movement “ready to redraw the world upon the Prophetic methodology of the caliphate.” In August 2013, he said, “Our goal is to establish an Islamic state that doesn’t recognize borders, on the Prophetic methodology.” By then, the group had taken Raqqa, a Syrian provincial capital of perhaps 500,000 people, and was drawing in substantial numbers of foreign fighters who’d heard its message.
If we had identified the Islamic State’s intentions early, and realized that the vacuum in Syria and Iraq would give it ample space to carry them out, we might, at a minimum, have pushed Iraq to harden its border with Syria and preemptively make deals with its Sunnis. That would at least have avoided the electrifying propaganda effect created by the declaration of a caliphate just after the conquest of Iraq’s third-largest city. Yet, just over a year ago, Obama told The New Yorker that he considered ISIS to be al-Qaeda’s weaker partner. “If a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” the president said.
Our failure to appreciate the split between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and the essential differences between the two, has led to dangerous decisions. Last fall, to take one example, the U.S. government consented to a desperate plan to save Peter Kassig’s life. The plan facilitated—indeed, required—the interaction of some of the founding figures of the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, and could hardly have looked more hastily improvised.
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it appears the best of bad military options.
It entailed the enlistment of Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, the Zarqawi mentor and al-Qaeda grandee, to approach Turki al-Binali, the Islamic State’s chief ideologue and a former student of Maqdisi’s, even though the two men had fallen out due to Maqdisi’s criticism of the Islamic State. Maqdisi had already called for the state to extend mercy to Alan Henning, the British cabbie who had entered Syria to deliver aid to children. In December, The Guardian reported that the U.S. government, through an intermediary, had asked Maqdisi to intercede with the Islamic State on Kassig’s behalf.
Maqdisi was living freely in Jordan, but had been banned from communicating with terrorists abroad, and was being monitored closely. After Jordan granted the United States permission to reintroduce Maqdisi to Binali, Maqdisi bought a phone with American money and was allowed to correspond merrily with his former student for a few days, before the Jordanian government stopped the chats and used them as a pretext to jail Maqdisi. Kassig’s severed head appeared in the Dabiq video a few days later.
Maqdisi gets mocked roundly on Twitter by the Islamic State’s fans, and al‑Qaeda is held in great contempt for refusing to acknowledge the caliphate. Cole Bunzel, a scholar who studies Islamic State ideology, read Maqdisi’s opinion on Henning’s status and thought it would hasten his and other captives’ death. “If I were held captive by the Islamic State and Maqdisi said I shouldn’t be killed,” he told me, “I’d kiss my ass goodbye.”
Kassig’s death was a tragedy, but the plan’s success would have been a bigger one. A reconciliation between Maqdisi and Binali would have begun to heal the main rift between the world’s two largest jihadist organizations. It’s possible that the government wanted only to draw out Binali for intelligence purposes or assassination. (Multiple attempts to elicit comment from the FBI were unsuccessful.) Regardless, the decision to play matchmaker for America’s two main terrorist antagonists reveals astonishingly poor judgment.
Chastened by our earlier indifference, we are now meeting the Islamic State via Kurdish and Iraqi proxy on the battlefield, and with regular air assaults. Those strategies haven’t dislodged the Islamic State from any of its major territorial possessions, although they’ve kept it from directly assaulting Baghdad and Erbil and slaughtering Shia and Kurds there.
Some observers have called for escalation, including several predictable voices from the interventionist right (Max Boot, Frederick Kagan), who have urged the deployment of tens of thousands of American soldiers. These calls should not be dismissed too quickly: an avowedly genocidal organization is on its potential victims’ front lawn, and it is committing daily atrocities in the territory it already controls.
One way to un-cast the Islamic State’s spell over its adherents would be to overpower it militarily and occupy the parts of Syria and Iraq now under caliphate rule. Al‑Qaeda is ineradicable because it can survive, cockroach-like, by going underground. The Islamic State cannot. If it loses its grip on its territory in Syria and Iraq, it will cease to be a caliphate. Caliphates cannot exist as underground movements, because territorial authority is a requirement: take away its command of territory, and all those oaths of allegiance are no longer binding. Former pledges could of course continue to attack the West and behead their enemies, as freelancers. But the propaganda value of the caliphate would disappear, and with it the supposed religious duty to immigrate and serve it. If the United States were to invade, the Islamic State’s obsession with battle at Dabiq suggests that it might send vast resources there, as if in a conventional battle. If the state musters at Dabiq in full force, only to be routed, it might never recover.
Abu Baraa, who maintains a YouTube channel about Islamic law, says the caliph, Baghdadi, cannot negotiate or recognize borders, and must continually make war, or he will remove himself from Islam.
And yet the risks of escalation are enormous. The biggest proponent of an American invasion is the Islamic State itself. The provocative videos, in which a black-hooded executioner addresses President Obama by name, are clearly made to draw America into the fight. An invasion would be a huge propaganda victory for jihadists worldwide: irrespective of whether they have given baya’a to the caliph, they all believe that the United States wants to embark on a modern-day Crusade and kill Muslims. Yet another invasion and occupation would confirm that suspicion, and bolster recruitment. Add the incompetence of our previous efforts as occupiers, and we have reason for reluctance. The rise of ISIS, after all, happened only because our previous occupation created space for Zarqawi and his followers. Who knows the consequences of another botched job?
Given everything we know about the Islamic State, continuing to slowly bleed it, through air strikes and proxy warfare, appears the best of bad military options. Neither the Kurds nor the Shia will ever subdue and control the whole Sunni heartland of Syria and Iraq—they are hated there, and have no appetite for such an adventure anyway. But they can keep the Islamic State from fulfilling its duty to expand. And with every month that it fails to expand, it resembles less the conquering state of the Prophet Muhammad than yet another Middle Eastern government failing to bring prosperity to its people.
The humanitarian cost of the Islamic State’s existence is high. But its threat to the United States is smaller than its all too frequent conflation with al-Qaeda would suggest. Al-Qaeda’s core is rare among jihadist groups for its focus on the “far enemy” (the West); most jihadist groups’ main concerns lie closer to home. That’s especially true of the Islamic State, precisely because of its ideology. It sees enemies everywhere around it, and while its leadership wishes ill on the United States, the application of Sharia in the caliphate and the expansion to contiguous lands are paramount. Baghdadi has said as much directly: in November he told his Saudi agents to “deal with the rafida [Shia] first … then al-Sulul [Sunni supporters of the Saudi monarchy] … before the crusaders and their bases.”
Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee, with apparent delight in each.
The foreign fighters (and their wives and children) have been traveling to the caliphate on one-way tickets: they want to live under true Sharia, and many want martyrdom. Doctrine, recall, requires believers to reside in the caliphate if it is at all possible for them to do so. One of the Islamic State’s less bloody videos shows a group of jihadists burning their French, British, and Australian passports. This would be an eccentric act for someone intending to return to blow himself up in line at the Louvre or to hold another chocolate shop hostage in Sydney.
A few “lone wolf” supporters of the Islamic State have attacked Western targets, and more attacks will come. But most of the attackers have been frustrated amateurs, unable to immigrate to the caliphate because of confiscated passports or other problems. Even if the Islamic State cheers these attacks—and it does in its propaganda—it hasn’t yet planned and financed one. (The Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in January was principally an al‑Qaeda operation.) During his visit to Mosul in December, Jürgen Todenhöfer interviewed a portly German jihadist and asked whether any of his comrades had returned to Europe to carry out attacks. The jihadist seemed to regard returnees not as soldiers but as dropouts. “The fact is that the returnees from the Islamic State should repent from their return,” he said. “I hope they review their religion.”
Properly contained, the Islamic State is likely to be its own undoing. No country is its ally, and its ideology ensures that this will remain the case. The land it controls, while expansive, is mostly uninhabited and poor. As it stagnates or slowly shrinks, its claim that it is the engine of God’s will and the agent of apocalypse will weaken, and fewer believers will arrive. And as more reports of misery within it leak out, radical Islamist movements elsewhere will be discredited: No one has tried harder to implement strict Sharia by violence. This is what it looks like.
Even so, the death of the Islamic State is unlikely to be quick, and things could still go badly wrong: if the Islamic State obtained the allegiance of al‑Qaeda—increasing, in one swoop, the unity of its base—it could wax into a worse foe than we’ve yet seen. The rift between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda has, if anything, grown in the past few months; the December issue of Dabiq featured a long account of an al‑Qaeda defector who described his old group as corrupt and ineffectual, and Zawahiri as a distant and unfit leader. But we should watch carefully for a rapprochement.
Without a catastrophe such as this, however, or perhaps the threat of the Islamic State’s storming Erbil, a vast ground invasion would certainly make the situation worse.
It would be facile, even exculpatory, to call the problem of the Islamic State “a problem with Islam.” The religion allows many interpretations, and Islamic State supporters are morally on the hook for the one they choose. And yet simply denouncing the Islamic State as un-Islamic can be counterproductive, especially if those who hear the message have read the holy texts and seen the endorsement of many of the caliphate’s practices written plainly within them.
Muslims can say that slavery is not legitimate now, and that crucifixion is wrong at this historical juncture. Many say precisely this. But they cannot condemn slavery or crucifixion outright without contradicting the Koran and the example of the Prophet. “The only principled ground that the Islamic State’s opponents could take is to say that certain core texts and traditional teachings of Islam are no longer valid,” Bernard Haykel says. That really would be an act of apostasy.
The Islamic State’s ideology exerts powerful sway over a certain subset of the population. Life’s hypocrisies and inconsistencies vanish in its face. Musa Cerantonio and the Salafis I met in London are unstumpable: no question I posed left them stuttering. They lectured me garrulously and, if one accepts their premises, convincingly. To call them un-Islamic appears, to me, to invite them into an argument that they would win. If they had been froth-spewing maniacs, I might be able to predict that their movement would burn out as the psychopaths detonated themselves or became drone-splats, one by one. But these men spoke with an academic precision that put me in mind of a good graduate seminar. I even enjoyed their company, and that frightened me as much as anything else.
Non-muslims cannot tell Muslims how to practice their religion properly. But Muslims have long since begun this debate within their own ranks. “You have to have standards,” Anjem Choudary told me. “Somebody could claim to be a Muslim, but if he believes in homosexuality or drinking alcohol, then he is not a Muslim. There is no such thing as a nonpracticing vegetarian.”
There is, however, another strand of Islam that offers a hard-line alternative to the Islamic State—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions. This strand has proved appealing to many Muslims cursed or blessed with a psychological longing to see every jot and tittle of the holy texts implemented as they were in the earliest days of Islam. Islamic State supporters know how to react to Muslims who ignore parts of the Koran: with takfir and ridicule. But they also know that some other Muslims read the Koran as assiduously as they do, and pose a real ideological threat.
Baghdadi is Salafi. The term Salafi has been villainized, in part because authentic villains have ridden into battle waving the Salafi banner. But most Salafis are not jihadists, and most adhere to sects that reject the Islamic State. They are, as Haykel notes, committed to expanding Dar al-Islam, the land of Islam, even, perhaps, with the implementation of monstrous practices such as slavery and amputation—but at some future point. Their first priority is personal purification and religious observance, and they believe anything that thwarts those goals—such as causing war or unrest that would disrupt lives and prayer and scholarship—is forbidden.
They live among us. Last fall, I visited the Philadelphia mosque of Breton Pocius, 28, a Salafi imam who goes by the name Abdullah. His mosque is on the border between the crime-ridden Northern Liberties neighborhood and a gentrifying area that one might call Dar al-Hipster; his beard allows him to pass in the latter zone almost unnoticed.
A theological alternative to the Islamic State exists—just as uncompromising, but with opposite conclusions.
Pocius converted 15 years ago after a Polish Catholic upbringing in Chicago. Like Cerantonio, he talks like an old soul, exhibiting deep familiarity with ancient texts, and a commitment to them motivated by curiosity and scholarship, and by a conviction that they are the only way to escape hellfire. When I met him at a local coffee shop, he carried a work of Koranic scholarship in Arabic and a book for teaching himself Japanese. He was preparing a sermon on the obligations of fatherhood for the 150 or so worshipers in his Friday congregation.
Pocius said his main goal is to encourage a halal life for worshipers in his mosque. But the rise of the Islamic State has forced him to consider political questions that are usually very far from the minds of Salafis. “Most of what they’ll say about how to pray and how to dress is exactly what I’ll say in my masjid [mosque]. But when they get to questions about social upheaval, they sound like Che Guevara.”
When Baghdadi showed up, Pocius adopted the slogan “Not my khalifa.” “The times of the Prophet were a time of great bloodshed,” he told me, “and he knew that the worst possible condition for all people was chaos, especially within the umma [Muslim community].” Accordingly, Pocius said, the correct attitude for Salafis is not to sow discord by factionalizing and declaring fellow Muslims apostates.
Instead, Pocius—like a majority of Salafis—believes that Muslims should remove themselves from politics. These quietist Salafis, as they are known, agree with the Islamic State that God’s law is the only law, and they eschew practices like voting and the creation of political parties. But they interpret the Koran’s hatred of discord and chaos as requiring them to fall into line with just about any leader, including some manifestly sinful ones. “The Prophet said: as long as the ruler does not enter into clear kufr [disbelief], give him general obedience,” Pocius told me, and the classic “books of creed” all warn against causing social upheaval. Quietist Salafis are strictly forbidden from dividing Muslims from one another—for example, by mass excommunication. Living without baya’a, Pocius said, does indeed make one ignorant, or benighted. But baya’a need not mean direct allegiance to a caliph, and certainly not to Abu Bakr al‑Baghdadi. It can mean, more broadly, allegiance to a religious social contract and commitment to a society of Muslims, whether ruled by a caliph or not.
Quietist Salafis believe that Muslims should direct their energies toward perfecting their personal life, including prayer, ritual, and hygiene. Much in the same way ultra-Orthodox Jews debate whether it’s kosher to tear off squares of toilet paper on the Sabbath (does that count as “rending cloth”?), they spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring that their trousers are not too long, that their beards are trimmed in some areas and shaggy in others. Through this fastidious observance, they believe, God will favor them with strength and numbers, and perhaps a caliphate will arise. At that moment, Muslims will take vengeance and, yes, achieve glorious victory at Dabiq. But Pocius cites a slew of modern Salafi theologians who argue that a caliphate cannot come into being in a righteous way except through the unmistakable will of God.
The Islamic State, of course, would agree, and say that God has anointed Baghdadi. Pocius’s retort amounts to a call to humility. He cites Abdullah Ibn Abbas, one of the Prophet’s companions, who sat down with dissenters and asked them how they had the gall, as a minority, to tell the majority that it was wrong. Dissent itself, to the point of bloodshed or splitting the umma, was forbidden. Even the manner of the establishment of Baghdadi’s caliphate runs contrary to expectation, he said. “The khilafa is something that Allah is going to establish,” he told me, “and it will involve a consensus of scholars from Mecca and Medina. That is not what happened. ISIS came out of nowhere.”
The Islamic State loathes this talk, and its fanboys tweet derisively about quietist Salafis. They mock them as “Salafis of menstruation,” for their obscure judgments about when women are and aren’t clean, and other low-priority aspects of life. “What we need now is fatwa about how it’s haram [forbidden] to ride a bike on Jupiter,” one tweeted drily. “That’s what scholars should focus on. More pressing than state of Ummah.” Anjem Choudary, for his part, says that no sin merits more vigorous opposition than the usurpation of God’s law, and that extremism in defense of monotheism is no vice.
Pocius doesn’t court any kind of official support from the United States, as a counterweight to jihadism. Indeed, official support would tend to discredit him, and in any case he is bitter toward America for treating him, in his words, as “less than a citizen.” (He alleges that the government paid spies to infiltrate his mosque and harassed his mother at work with questions about his being a potential terrorist.)
Still, his quietist Salafism offers an Islamic antidote to Baghdadi-style jihadism. The people who arrive at the faith spoiling for a fight cannot all be stopped from jihadism, but those whose main motivation is to find an ultraconservative, uncompromising version of Islam have an alternative here. It is not moderate Islam; most Muslims would consider it extreme. It is, however, a form of Islam that the literal-minded would not instantly find hypocritical, or blasphemously purged of its inconveniences. Hypocrisy is not a sin that ideologically minded young men tolerate well.
Western officials would probably do best to refrain from weighing in on matters of Islamic theological debate altogether. Barack Obama himself drifted into takfiri waters when he claimed that the Islamic State was “not Islamic”—the irony being that he, as the non-Muslim son of a Muslim, may himself be classified as an apostate, and yet is now practicing takfir against Muslims. Non-Muslims’ practicing takfir elicits chuckles from jihadists (“Like a pig covered in feces giving hygiene advice to others,” one tweeted).
I suspect that most Muslims appreciated Obama’s sentiment: the president was standing with them against both Baghdadi and non-Muslim chauvinists trying to implicate them in crimes. But most Muslims aren’t susceptible to joining jihad. The ones who are susceptible will only have had their suspicions confirmed: the United States lies about religion to serve its purposes.
Within the narrow bounds of its theology, the Islamic State hums with energy, even creativity. Outside those bounds, it could hardly be more arid and silent: a vision of life as obedience, order, and destiny. Musa Cerantonio and Anjem Choudary could mentally shift from contemplating mass death and eternal torture to discussing the virtues of Vietnamese coffee or treacly pastry, with apparent delight in each, yet to me it seemed that to embrace their views would be to see all the flavors of this world grow insipid compared with the vivid grotesqueries of the hereafter.
I could enjoy their company, as a guilty intellectual exercise, up to a point. In reviewing Mein Kampf in March 1940, George Orwell confessed that he had “never been able to dislike Hitler”; something about the man projected an underdog quality, even when his goals were cowardly or loathsome. “If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon.” The Islamic State’s partisans have much the same allure. They believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives, and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege and a pleasure—especially when it is also a burden.
Fascism, Orwell continued, is
psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.
Nor, in the case of the Islamic State, its religious or intellectual appeal. That the Islamic State holds the imminent fulfillment of prophecy as a matter of dogma at least tells us the mettle of our opponent. It is ready to cheer its own near-obliteration, and to remain confident, even when surrounded, that it will receive divine succor if it stays true to the Prophetic model. Ideological tools may convince some potential converts that the group’s message is false, and military tools can limit its horrors. But for an organization as impervious to persuasion as the Islamic State, few measures short of these will matter, and the war may be a long one, even if it doesn’t last until the end of time.
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