Happy New Year. . .

September 15, 2023 • 12:45 pm

Now I know why cops and army are all over Jerusalem.  First, there was a bomb explosion in a Tel Aviv Park, and later Israeli security caught three Palestinians planning a serious bomb attack, but thwarted them (they could have been responsible for the first explosion). The terrorists love to attack during Jewish holidays.


Hostile forces were gathering at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, as violent riots were anticipated later on Friday, with Palestinian terror groups releasing images of several improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Palestinian reports indicated that incendiary balloons were being launched, for the first time in two years, and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were firing crowd dispersal shots.

Gaza and the West Bank have been closed (except for humanitarian exceptions) over the three-day holiday, and every synagogue in Jerusalem is to have an armd guard.

Shana tova! (That’s the traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting. Ten to one there will be at least one terror attack when I’m asleep tonight.

It’s one thing to read about it in the U.S., but another to see the climate of fear and defense pervading this country. All because of a holiday!

BBC reporter commits “blood libel” against Israel, saying that “Israel is happy to kill children”

July 6, 2023 • 10:00 am

The “blood libel” mentioned in the two articles below is a medieval antisemitic trope that’s explained by Wikipedia:

Blood libel or ritual murder libel (also blood accusation) is an antisemitic canard which falsely accuses Jews of murdering Christian boys in order to use their blood in the performance of religious rituals.

Often those “religious rituals” were said to comprise making the Passover matzoh (unleavened bread) with the blood of Christian children.  The reason why both articles below make the analogy of this BBC interview with “blood libel” is that the BBC reporter uses essentially the same anti-semitic trope: that Jews were happy to kill non-Jewish children. I don’t think making this comparison is too far off the mark.

So the short video below shows Anjana Gadgil, a hostile and anti-Israel BBC reporter (is there any other kind?) going hard after former Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for the recent shootings of terrorists in Jenin. The raid into Jenin was meant to find terrorists responsible for some 50 recent deaths of Israelis, terrorists who holed up in the town. For a pretty objective view of the conflict, see the Reuters piece, “Why did Israel attack Jenin?

Three or four of the 12 Palestinian dead were between 16 and 18, but, as Bennett notes and which has now been verified, all of the Palestinians killed in the Jenin raids were terrorists, including those 18 and under. (Had nonterrorist civilians been called, you better believe that the PA would have announced it, but there has been no such announcement.)

And, as the article at the bottom says, it’s not a violation of international law to kill child soldiers—even if you think terrorists of that age are “child soldiers”.  It’s remarkable to me that the IDF went into Jenin targeting specific terrorist and got them all without any civilians being killed. Only Israel is that careful about who they go after in warfare. In contrast, the Palestinians target anybody, including Israeli civilians and children who are not “child soldiers.”

This is not a long video—8½ minutes long—and I urge you to listen to it to see the explicit and completely unhinged hostility towards Israel from the BBC.  Gadgil’s repugnant statement, “The Israeli forces are happy to kill children” occurs at 1 minute, 16 seconds in.

Bennett answers calmly and incisively.


I found photos of three of the four “children” that the Israeli forces were “happy to kill”:


And below are two articles—both invoking “blood libel”—defending Bennett against the BBC anchor. Click on either screenshot or on the links to the left:



Elder of Ziyon:

Here’s the text of the second piece, which is short:

Here is a blood libel from the BBC.

In response to Naftali Bennett saying that every single person killed in Jenin was a terrorist, the presenter said, as a fact, “Terrorists but children. The Israeli forces are happy to kill children.”

Bennett’s answer was good, but here is another case where news interviewers are either ignorant or willfully twisting international law.

Child combatants are still combatants under international law. No matter whether they were forcibly recruited, whether they are under 14, whether they are girls – once someone is shooting at a soldier they are legitimate targets, according to every article I can find on the subject.

In 2000, a group of child soldiers in Sierra Leone known (in the West) as the “West Side Boys” captured a patrol of British soldiers from the Royal Irish Regiment along with their Sierra Leone Army liaison officer. Several of the British soldiers were held for two weeks before the British Army decided to free them in an operation that killed between 25 and 150 of the West Side Boys.

Was the deliberate, planned killing of those children a war crime? Of course not.

Absolutely no international law scholar disputes that the British Army had the right to free their fellow soldiers because they were held by combatants under 18. And no BBC reporter responded to the event by saying on the air, “The British Army is happy to kill children.”

No, only Jews are routinely accused of relishing the murder of children. The accusation is centuries old and it is as popular today in England as it was in 1144 when Jews were accused of happily murdering William of Norwich.

Unlike the West Side Boys, who were obviously children, the two “children” killed by the IDF in Jenin were heavily armed, fully grown near-adults. One was a member of Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades.

UPDATE: The BBC has tendered a tepid apology after Gadgil made a fool of herself attacking Bennett in the video above. The apology is quite lame, but the tone is expected given that the animus that the BBC harbors towards Israel:

BBC spokesperson told the JC: “BBC News has received comments and complaints concerning an interview with Naftali Bennett broadcast on the BBC News channel about recent events in the West Bank and Israel.

“The complaints raised relate to specific interview questions about the deaths of young people in the Jenin refugee camp.

“The United Nations raised the issue of the impact of the operation in Jenin on children and young people.

“While this was a legitimate subject to examine in the interview, we apologise that the language used in this line of questioning was not phrased well and was inappropriate.”

However, the corporation stressed the BBC covered the wider events in Jenin in an “impartial and robust way.”

I consider this tepid given the horrible things that the reporter said, implying that the IDF is a sadistic organization that likes to torture and kill children. A better apology would be a bit more contrite than just saying “the language used in this line of question was not phrased well and was inappropriate”. Perhaps something along the lines of “we are very sorry that the reporter implied that the IDF delights in killing children” would have been a bit more appropriate. But you can believe that this apology was issued through gritted teeth!

h/t: Malgorzata

New Zealand PM exculpates religion in an ISIS-inspired terrorist stabbing attack in New Zealand

September 3, 2021 • 11:30 am

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, like many government officials, can go to great lengths to avoid implicating religion—especially Islam—in any terrorist attack, even if it’s clearly inspired by Islamism.  Take last Friday’s stabbing attack at a supermarket in West Auckland, which wounded six people (the perp was killed by police).

As the New York Times reports, this has every sign of a being terrorist attack: the method, the ideology, and the fact that the suspect had already been under surveillance for five years because of his “ideology”. (Could that be Islam? As HuffPost reports—which for some reason isn’t allowing comments on this story—”Ardern said the attacker, who was not identified, was ‘obviously a supporter of ISIS ideology,’ in reference to the Islamic State terror group.”) It has in fact been officially deemed a “terrorist attack.”

More from the NYT:

The suspect, a Sri Lankan national, was shot and killed by the police, officials said. He had been under constant, active surveillance at the time of the attack at the market in West Auckland, they said. The suspect was not immediately identified.

“A violent extremist undertook a terrorist attack on innocent New Zealanders in the New Lynn Countdown in Auckland,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference, referring to the supermarket.

“What happened today was despicable, it was hateful, it was wrong,” she added. “It was carried out by an individual — not a faith, not a culture, not an ethnicity, but an individual person who is gripped by ideology that is not supported here by anyone or any community. He alone carries the responsibility for these acts; let that be where the judgment falls.”

. . .The prime minister said the suspect, who came to New Zealand in 2011, had been known to security forces since 2016. She described him as a lone actor who had been under constant monitoring because of concerns about his ideology.

“This was a violent attack,” she said. “It was senseless, and I’m so sorry it happened.”

Yes, of course the act was carried out by an individual.  Cultures, faiths, and ethnicities cannot by definition carry out a terrorist attack because humans have to do the deed. But Ardern is thick-headed here, for can she deny that that individual was motivated, at least in part, by a religiously based movement: Islamism? In fact she admits that! 

So what does she mean by her exculpation of faith, culture, or ethnicity?

What she means is apparently this: “Yes, this guy was inspired to stab people because he was gripped by Islamist ideology, but the ideology isn’t to blame.”  It’s similar to the mantra used by American NRA-ites: “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. Except the U.S.statement is milder, because guns don’t incite people to use them in shootings, whereas ISIS ideology promotes the extirpation of nonbelievers.

It’s hard to understand a mentality that argues that an individual can be motivated to attack others because of faith, but then adds that the faith is not at all responsible. I suppose that when ISIS starts raping, oppressing, and beating the women of Afghanistan, Ardern will say, “These odious acts are carried out by individuals—not a faith, not a culture, and not an ethnicity.”

I used to admire Ardern, but sometimes she’s osculates the rump of religion way too arde(r)ntly.

On the 20th anniversary of the suicide bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem, Palestine continues to pay off the terrorists

August 9, 2021 • 11:00 am

I’ve talked several times about the Palestinian Authority’s “pay for slay” program (here, here, here, and here), in which Palestinians who commit terrorist acts against Israelis, whether or not they survive, are paid at a substantial rate, and paid so long as they’re in jail. If the killer dies, the money goes to the terrorists’ families. Further, those terrorists who eventually get out of jail are given good jobs by the Palestinian Authority.

This program, odious and reprehensible as it is, seems to be largely unknown (or ignored) by critics of Israel. Perhaps it’s ignored because it’s so much in conflict with the image of “poor downtrodden Palestinians”. After all, what would we think if, say, the Canadian government rewarded their citizens who crossed the border to kill Americans? The fact is that Palestinian authorities pay their citizens to murder Israelis, and that this cruel fact is largely ignored. How can Ben & Jerry, for example, refuse to let Jews sell their ice cream in Israeli-occupied territories while not boycotting a government that not only pays for murder, but deliberately fires rockets at civilians—a war crime.

I write about this again because the Left needs constant reminding of the double standards they apply to Israel and the Palestinian Territories, standards which are hypocritical. As someone called it, this is the “bigotry of low expectations”: different groups are held to different moral standards.

And I write about this again because today it’s been exactly twenty years since Palestinian terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad blew up the Sbarro pizza shop in Jerusalem (August 9, 2001), killing 15 people (five were members of a single family), and injuring 130. Here is a short video about the massacre, horrendous by any standard. (Click on “Watch on YouTube”).

Of course under the “Pay for Slay” program, the Palestinians reward living or dead terrorists who murder Israelis by giving them and their families money (and jobs if they survive and get out of jail). According to Palestinian Media Watch, this money has now added up to$1,183,257. Click on the screenshot:

An excerpt:

As a reward for carrying out the attack, each month the Palestinian Authority pays a total of US$8,006 (25,800 shekels) to the imprisoned terrorists and the families of the dead terrorists, who were involved in the attack.

By now, the PA has paid Abdullah Barghouti, the terrorist who built the bomb and is responsible for the murder of 67 people in various attacks, a cumulative sum of US$285,571 (921,500 shekels). Every month, the PA pays him a salary of US$2,255 (7,300 shekels). In addition, the PA has paid the family of the suicide bomber US$68,498 (221,400 shekels). Every month the PA continues to pay his family an allowance of US$432 (1,400 shekels). The minimum wage in the PA is 1,450 shekels/month (US$44).

Barghouti is serving 67 life-term sentences in an Israeli prison, but he and his family have gotten nearly $300,000 in blood money.

The monthly PA salary payments to the imprisoned terrorists are not just a whim. Rather, they are codified in the PA Law of Prisoners and Released Prisoners, No. 19 of 2004 and regulations promulgated pursuant to the law.

Thus, “Government Decision No. (23) for 2010 regarding a regulation of payment of a monthly salary to the prisoner” sets the salary scale the PA pays to imprisoned terrorists,  including additional benefits for married terrorists, terrorists who have children, and terrorists who are residents or citizens of the State of Israel.

In addition to the issue of payments, section 4 of the Law of Prisoners stipulates that the PA will not sign a peace agreement “without the release of all prisoners”, including terrorists like Abdullah Barghouti and hundreds of other terrorists like him, who are responsible for killing thousands of people.

One of the terrorists who survived, but was caught, was Ahlam Tamimi, a 20 year old female student who escorted the explosive carrier to the restaurant. She got 16 life sentences but was released in 2011 in exchange  for a kidnapped Israeli soldier. After the solder was in captivity for five years, a deal was brokered whereby he was traded for 1,027 Hamas and Palestinian prisoners by Israel. That’s always the way these negotiations go: a gazillion terrorists freed for one Israeli.

At any rate, Tamimi is quoted in Facebook:

In an interview which aired on Al-Aqsa TV on 12 July 2012 (as translated by MEMRI), Tamimi described the reaction of other Palestinians immediately after the bombing:

Afterwards, when I took the bus, the Palestinians around Damascus Gate [in Jerusalem] were all smiling. You could sense that everybody was happy. When I got on the bus, nobody knew that it was me who had led [the suicide bomber to the target]… I was feeling quite strange, because I had left [the bomber] ‘Izz Al-Din behind, but inside the bus, they were all congratulating one another. They didn’t even know one another, yet they were exchanging greetings…While I was sitting on the bus, the driver turned on the radio. But first, let me tell you about the gradual rise in the number of casualties. While I was on the bus and everybody was congratulating one another…

After hearing an initial report that “three people were killed” in the bombing, Tamimi stated:

I admit that I was a bit disappointed, because I had hoped for a larger toll. Yet when they said “three dead,” I said: ‘Allah be praised’…Two minutes later, they said on the radio that the number had increased to five. I wanted to hide my smile, but I just couldn’t. Allah be praised, it was great. As the number of dead kept increasing, the passengers were applauding.

Remember, these are civilians in a pizza parlor, and this is the kind of policy that the Left is implicitly supporting (or chooses to ignore) when it valorizes Palestine.

From the NYT: click on screenshot to read

Let me rephrase that: “We’re Ben & Jerry. Men of Ice Cream, Men of Hypocrisy.”

Scientific American publishes misleading and distorted op-ed lauding Palestine and demonizing Israel, accompanied by a pro-Palestinian petition

June 7, 2021 • 12:30 pm

Well, the latest scientific journal or magazine to go to hell in a handbasket is Scientific American, which under the editorial guidance of Laura Helmuth has published a putrid piece of pure pro-Palestinian propaganda. It’s an op-ed piece apparently written by a group of Palestinian BDS activists (one author wishes to be anonymous). purveying the usual distortions, omissions, and outright lies.  If there were a counter piece refuting those lies (there is below, but not at Sci Am), it would be somewhat better, but not much. Instead, the op-ed is linked to a Google Document petition (surely not posted by Sci Am) that you can sign in solidarity with Palestine.

First of all, a science magazine has no business taking an ideological stand like this, particularly one replete with lies and distortions. What was Scientific American thinking? Do they fancy themselves to be Mother Jones? Read for yourself.

Here’s the petition (click on screenshot)

The article has the usual palaver, but its biggest distortion is accusing Israel of war crimes and targeting civilians, when the truth is precisely the opposite: during the recent skirmish, the Palestinians fired 4,360 rockets deliberately targeting civilians, while Israel avoided civilian killing to the best of its ability while trying to disable Hamas. Israel issues warnings before attacking; does Palestine do that? No, because their aim is to kill civilians without warning. How come nobody, least of all these authors, mention that?

The article decries the “disproportionality” of deaths, when many Palestinian dead (perhaps more than half) were Hamas fighters, and the op-ed seems almost regretful that more Israelis did not die (the “disproportionality” argument makes little sense when one side has an Iron Dome and the other side fires rockets and has no defense). There is no mention of Palestinian war crimes, which include not just the targeting of civilians but the use of human shields that guarantee civilian deaths.

The article blames Israel for not supplying healthcare, including COVID vaccines,  to the Palestinians. But in fact the Oslo Agreement specifies that responsibility for healthcare in the Palestinian Territories resides solely with the Palestinian Authority, and that specifically includes vaccinations. (It also doesn’t mention that Israel did supply a lot of COVID vaccine to Palestine, even to its leaders.) The article supports the BDS movement, a thinly veiled attempt to eliminate the state of Israel. The article indicts Israel for being an apartheid state, when in fact the Palestinian Territories are FAR more of an “apartheid state” than is Israel, for Palestine oppresses gays, atheists, apostates, and women, and forbids Jews to live in the Territories or buy property there (the latter is a capital crime). Plenty of Arabs, of course, live in Israel.

The article doesn’t mention the infamous Palestinian “pay for slay” program, in which the families of terrorists who kill Israeli Jews, civilians or soldiers, get ample financial rewards while in prison, and get jobs when they get out. (Here’s a recent example.) How godawful is that? Well, we don’t bring up things like that when we’re defending Palestine.

The Scientific American op-ed is so outstandingly stupid that one can only wonder what the editors of the magazine were thinking when they published it. Did they not do any fact-checking? Or are they abysmally ignorant of what has and is happening in the Israel/Palestine conflict? Why did they “take sides” by publishing the first political op-ed I’ve seen in the magazine (granted, I may have missed some). This angers me because the lies are as invidious as Trump’s claims that the election was “stolen.”

Well, I won’t go on, for the Scientific American screed is fully taken apart by the article below from CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis). And yes, by indicting Israel for “war crimes” while completely ignoring the crimes of Hamas and lying to or misleading readers, the op-ed becomes a totally one-sided propaganda piece. Read it for yourself, and then read the article below. It’s a good thing I don’t read Sci. Am.; dreck like this gets called to my attention by readers. I don’t think calling the Sci Am op-ed “shilling for terrorists” to be too far off the mark.

The article also refutes the op-ed’s claim that Israel has “decimated” the Palestinian healthcare system, which in fact is better than ever. (And it would be a very good system if Palestine would start spending money on healthcare instead of offensive rockets, and had it accepted one of Israel’s many offers for a two-state solution.) Do the authors mention that every year thousands of Palestinians, including Hamas leaders and their relatives, are treated in Israeli hospitals as a gesture of good will? No, of course not.

An op-ed so woefully ignorant or biased doesn’t belong in any respectable venue, much less in Scientific American. But I guess we can expect more to come. If you have any respect for the truth, you might ponder if you want to continue subscribing.

Pay for slay: Western countries help finance odious Palestinian program that pays terrorists who kill civilians

January 21, 2021 • 9:45 am

I’ve written before about the Palestinian Territory’s policy of “Pay for Slay”, one of the most odious policies I know of. The program consists of the Palestinian Authority giving generous payments (often for a lifetime) to those Palestinians who get caught committing terrorism against Israel and are either killed or put in Israeli prisons. (They often justify it as reward for fighting the enemy, but the “enemy” often consists of Israeli citizens, including women and children.

If a Palestinian kills or injures an Israeli in an act of terrorism, or simply commits a non-murderous act like terrorist arson, he or she get a comfortable wage, and, if you get out of prison, a good job and other benefits in Palestine. (The amount you get goes up with the heinous nature of the crime; murder is the most compensated act.)

This is, of course, financing and encouraging terrorism, including the murder of many Israeli civilians. One of those civilians is highlighted in the article below: Dafna Meir, a nurse and a premarital counselor, who had four children and two foster children. For no reason beyond her being Israeli, she was stabbed to death by a 15 year old Palestinian terrorist in 2016, who was jailed in a children’s facility (now transferred to an adult prison). That adolescent, a killer, is now 20, and his monthly wage is $401 for life, along with a one-time “martyr” payment of $1719.  In a few years he’ll be making more than the average Palestinian citizen.

It’s even worse, for many countries, including much of the European Union, finances this “pay for slay” program by giving aid money directly to Palestine. A few countries (including Australia, Norway, and the U.S.) have cut down their contributions to Palestine because of this program, but much of the EU simply gives aid to Palestine that can be used to pay terrorist’s “martyr pensions”. Those pensions constitute  about 7% of the total Palestinian budget: or about $355 million per year (in 2017).

It is unconscionable that Europe finances terrorism this way, and doesn’t seem overly concerned with how the money is used. They could, as the U.S. did during the Trump administration—the Obama administration, unfortunately, helped underwrite Pay for Slay by giving direct aid to Palestine on the order of $300-400 million per year—cut back on the amount of money they give to Palestine, and ensure that all that aid money is used for constructive projects, not terrorism. This is what the U.S. does now, and I hope Biden doesn’t reverse that policy.

Even so, the money that the U.S. gives to Palestine to, say, build schools, still frees up money that the Palestinian government might have used for such projects, making more money available for Pay for Slay.

I emphasize again how immoral it is to finance terrorists to kill civilians like Dafna Meir. This is most likely a war crime.

Click to read the story, and realize that if you’re in a country that gives unrestricted aid to Palestine, your government is underwriting this kind of murder.

Below is a graphs showing how much money you get as an incarcerated Palestinian for committing acts of terrorism against Israel (“regular” crimes like robbery are not rewarded). If you’re killed during your terrorist act, your family gets paid, too.

I’m not sure why terrorists who are Jerusalem and Israeli residents get a bonus, but it’s amazing that Israel allows its own citizens to collect “pay for slay” money. You get the salary for life, even if released, if you serve at least five years in prison as a man or two as a woman. And you don’t have to kill Israelis, either. You can get the dosh if you commit terrorist attacks on anybody visiting Israel, including Americans like U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force, stabbed to death at age 28 by a terrorist while Force was on a visit. Also killed, with their murders getting Palestinian payments, are citizens of the UK, France, the Netherlands, Australia, and Russia.

Here’s what you get if you’re jailed for terrorism. Note the supplements if you have a wife and child (70% of those convicted, though, are single). You can even receive the money in prison, put in a bank account, or have it given to your family.

If you die during your attack, your family gets $1560 and a monthly payment of at least $364.

As the graph below shows, the amount you get above the “base payment” increases with time served. The killer of Dafna Meir, having passed his five-year stint, now has his stipend doubled and also gets his stipend for life.  The average salary of a Palestinian worker is $765 a month, or $9180 per year, so after you’re in prison for five years, besides getting free room and board, you’re making more than your average Palestinian. And that doesn’t include the one-time payments or supplements for children and wives. The payments are also higher the more odious the crime. 

Finally, as I noted, released terrorists are given priority for employment. As one source reports:

Once released, prisoners are given priority for employment. Any male ex-prisoner incarcerated for 10 or more years, and female who served five years, is entitled to a position in the PA [Palestinian Authority]. All former prisoners’ social security and pension fees are paid according to the number of years they spent in jail. If their salary is lower than what they received in prison, the PA makes up the difference and, if a prisoner cannot be employed, they are still entitled to a monthly salary, disability payments and death benefits payable to their families (Douglas J. Feith & Sander Gerber, “The Department of Pay-for-Slay,” Commentary, March 15, 2017; Thane Rosenbaum, “Palestinians are rewarding terrorists. The U.S. should stop enabling them,” Washington Post, April 30, 2017).

And get this:

According to the Director of the ‎Commission of Prisoners and Released Prisoners’ Affairs, Qadri Abu Bakr, a prisoner can receive a prisoner’s ‎salary after their release and do nothing. He said, “We have 7,000-8,000 ‎released prisoners who are receiving a salary like this.”‎

Though idle, they still qualify for benefits. ‎“Every prisoner who is released after a year is eligible to study at university ‎and also carpentry, metalworking, and the like,” said Abu Bakr. “Any profession that we can ‎cover for him. We are also covering dental treatment up to 5,000 [Israeli] ‎shekels. We cover implants.”

Implants! I just got paid big bucks for one. But you get them free if you commit terrorism against Israel!

Every American, especially those who see Palestine as a virtuous land of the oppressed, should know about this program, which violates every tenet of human decency. I hope Biden doesn’t resume unrestricted payments to Palestine, and I have to say that restricting those payments so they don’t finance terrorism was one of the few good things accomplished by the Trump administration.

Sources for the data in this post come from here, here, here, here, here, and here.  It need hardly be added that the U.S. mainstream media, which tilts towards Palestine, does not often report on this travesty. The New York Times did publish a heartening article in November saying that, to court Biden, the Palestinians are considering cutting back on these payments (there will still be payments), for Democrats are not all that keen on “pay for slay”. (I’m betting, though, that the Squad isn’t opposed to the program.)

New York Times says prize-winning podcast contained “flawed reporting”, returns Peabody Award while another award is revoked

December 20, 2020 • 9:15 am

The bad news is that the New York Times has screwed up again, this time by taking the word, on a prize-winning podcast, of a guy who says he killed for ISIS but apparently made it all up. The good news is that at least the Times is reporting their own screwup. The further bad news is that the reporter who ran the podcast, and also has a history of dubious journalism, is staying on at the paper with the encomium of being a “fine reporter.” But the Times has fired people for a lot less, including op-ed editor James Bennet simply for running a conservative editorial, with no factual errors, by Republican Senator Tom Cotton. Apparently some Times staffers have greater privilege than others.

Read and weep:

What happened is that, starting in April of 2018, the NYT ran a 6-episode podcast called “Caliphate”, about ISIS. The host was Rukmini Callimachi, a reporter for the paper. The podcast heavily featured Shehroze Chaudhry, a Canadian resident who said he had carried out executions for ISIS.  It turns out that Chaudhry was a con man who fabricated those tales to make himself look important. The NYT launched an investigation just this year, and now they’ve given back the prestigious Peabody Award that the series won, while the Overseas Press Club took back the Lowell Thomas Award it had given the podcast.

Why is the NYT reporting on this only now? Well, it seems their hand was forced because Canadians started asking why an ISIS killer was allowed to live peacefully in their country. Canadian authorities then arrested Chaudhry in September, but not for terrorism—for perpetrating a hoax. He didn’t do what he said he did, and so was arrested for a hoax, not terrorism. (I’m not sure what the charges were.) It was then that the NYT decided to go public with their story.

What’s weird about all this is two things. First, although the first episode of the podcast appeared in April 2018, almost immediately there were signs that Chaudhry was dissimulating :

There had been warning signs during — and even before — the months when “Caliphate” episodes came out each Thursday. In a 2017 interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Mr. Chaudhry gave an account of his time with the Islamic State that differed greatly from what he had told Ms. Callimachi. In that CBC interview, he said he had “witnessed violence on a scale he could never have imagined,” but did not say he had taken part.

In another interview, published on the CBC website on May 11, 2018, Mr. Chaudhry recanted his confession. When asked why he had told The Times that he had participated in atrocities, he said, “I was being childish. I was describing what I saw and, basically, I was close enough to think it was me.”

Second, this was 2.5 years ago, right after the first episode of the podcast appeared. And yet the NYT didn’t even do its investigative review until early October of this year—30 months after Chaudhry said he’d lied. But there’s even more:

In March 2018, after reviewing draft scripts, Michael Slackman, the paper’s assistant managing editor in charge of international coverage, called members of the “Caliphate” team into a meeting with Matthew Purdy, a deputy managing editor, and Mr. Dolnick. Mr. Slackman and Mr. Purdy said that parts of the series seemed to rely too much on Mr. Chaudhry’s uncorroborated accounts. They told the reporters and editors to pause the project until they had done more reporting.

The “Caliphate” team decided to add an episode on the discrepancies in Mr. Chaudhry’s account. It was released May 24, 2018, under the title “Chapter Six: Paper Trail.” In it, Ms. Callimachi said she had gone over her notes and documents with fresh eyes and noticed stamps in Mr. Chaudhry’s passport suggesting he had misled her concerning his whereabouts at certain times. “It was at that point that I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach,” she said in the episode.

That was again 2.5 years ago, but only in October of this year was there a review, and only last Friday did the NYT publish its report.  Plus there was evidence that Callimachi had relied on dubious sources in other stories:

Since the start of the review process, Ms. Callimachi’s byline has not appeared in The Times. Mr. Baquet [the paper’s executive editor] said in an interview for this article that Ms. Callimachi will stay at the paper. “She’s going to take on a new beat, and she and I are discussing possibilities,” he said. “I think it’s hard to continue covering terrorism after what happened with this story. But I think she’s a fine reporter.” Her last published work was a series of articles on the killing of Breonna Taylor. As a result of the internal investigation, The Times added editors’ notes describing problems with two articles by Ms. Callimachi in 2014 and 2019.

Read the last two links, whose caveats revealed that Callimachi was relying on dubious and unauthenticated sources. So she screwed up twice before (remember, reporters need to verify the claims of subjects), and then she relied on a lying faux-ISIS member—even after she had suspicions about his veracity and after he said in 2018 that he made stuff up. Why, then, is she deemed a “fine reporter”? And why is she staying at the paper when they let reporters go for far lesser offenses, like publishing a conservative editorial? (Another op-ed editor, Adam Rubenstein, left this week for the apparent crime of being pro-Israel. See Bari Weiss’s Twitter thread about this.)

What did the Times‘s investigation conclude? That the podcast projecct moved too fast, didn’t check facts, and had expanded into new types of reporting without sufficient journalistic care. The podcast simply “didn’t meet [the paper’s] standards for accuracy”:

Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said the blame fell on the newsroom’s leaders, including himself.

“When The New York Times does deep, big, ambitious journalism in any format, we put it to a tremendous amount of scrutiny at the upper levels of the newsroom,” he said in a podcast interview that was posted by The Times on Friday.

“We did not do that in this case,” he continued. “And I think that I or somebody else should have provided that same kind of scrutiny, because it was a big, ambitious piece of journalism. And I did not provide that kind of scrutiny, nor did my top deputies with deep experience in examining investigative reporting.”

. . . “We do a lot of things we didn’t do before,” Mr. Baquet said in the interview for this article. “We don’t just produce long-form newspaper stories. I don’t think we have built a system to give that kind of support to some of the bigger things we do.” He added, “For the most part we’ve gotten everything right. But I think this fell through the cracks, because it was a different way of telling stories than The New York Times is used to. We didn’t have a system in place to manage that, to help the audio team manage that.”

Sound familiar? Like. . . The 1619 Project, also dogged by claims of inaccuracy, and, like the podcast, inaccuracies that the paper initially defended?  Both projects were an expansion of the paper’s traditional journalism into new areas, and both suffered from a lack of fact-checking.

Finally, the paper gets spanked by a prominent journalist:

Narrative journalism can be perilous, said Ann Marie Lipinski, a former editor in chief of The Chicago Tribune who has run the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard since 2011. “That’s a certain kind of storytelling that is much valued and does have this built-in entertainment quality,” she said. “But you can never sacrifice the reporting to that.”

But the NYT did! Even the paper’s executive editor admitted it, though with a weaselly “maybe” in the last sentence below:

In his interview with Mr. Barbaro, Mr. Baquet said that “a really good piece of journalism not only chews on the stuff that supports the story — it chews on the stuff that refutes the story.”

“And in the end,” he continued, “good journalism comes from some sort of internal debate over whether or not the stuff that supports the story is more powerful than the stuff that refutes the story. I think this is one of those cases where I think we just didn’t listen hard enough to the stuff that challenged the story. And to the signs that maybe our story wasn’t as strong as we thought it was.”


Given that the paper has given back or lost the two awards that the podcast garnered, that its main reporter and host has been found culpable twice before for relying on dubious sources, and that that the paper’s executive editor admits a lack of oversight that is his fault—exactly the same fault for which Bennet was fired—it seems to me that heads should be rolling at the paper. Not only Baquet’s, but Callimachi’s. This isn’t just a decision to run a conservative story to which Times staffers objected: it’s the actual presentation of fake news already suspected to be dubious when presented—but not corrected for two and a half years. If Bennet got the boot for lax oversight of the Tom Cotton editorial, then Baquet should go for being the editor at whom the buck stops, and Callimachi should be shown the door for being gulled at least three times by phony documents and lying sources.

The paper continues its downward slide, for which there are many causes: a clickbaity attitude, increasing wokeness, and biasing both editorial and news content towards the “progressive” Left. The only reason I still subscribe is that it’s the best of a bad lot of papers. Yes, the subscriptions and profit might be increasing, but what do I care about that?

h/t: Greg

Why aren’t we Charlie this time?

November 3, 2020 • 9:00 am

When the Charlie Hebdo murders occurred in 2015, there were a lot of people who posted or held up signs saying “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), touting solidarity with the French and their free-speech policy. We don’t see anything like that with the recent murders in Paris and Nice. Instead, as I’ve mentioned, there are a lot of articles implying that the French, with their strict laïcité policy and supposedly brutal oppression of Muslims, have brought this on themselves (see here and here, for instance).

But there’s at least one website that indicted the media and the cowards for refusing to call out Islamist terrorism in France. As you might expect, it’s not an organ of the mainstream liberal media, but Spiked, a libertarian organ edited by Brendan O’Neill. O’Neill himself wrote the op-ed on France, which you can see by clicking on the screenshot below.

I have nothing to add to what he says, but I wish I’d see more of this in the press.  Nobody, and no religion, is above criticism in a democracy. And if any religion should be criticized often and strongly for its oppressive policies and tenets that lead to violence, it’s Islam. (I’ve also called out other Abrahamic religions, but we don’t see their advocates committing mass murder these days.)

Quotes from the Spiked piece:

Unique among all forms of violent extremism, Islamist terrorism is always viewed as a response to a provocation. If Charlie Hebdo hadn’t published those cartoons, the massacre wouldn’t have happened. If Samuel Paty hadn’t shown kids a picture of Muhammad’s arse, he wouldn’t have become a target for attack. This is as morally degenerate as it would be to say that the Muslims massacred in Christchurch by the racist terrorist Brenton Tarrant brought it upon themselves by attending mosque – don’t they know that’s offensive to white-nationalist extremists? What will the unprincipled excuse-makers for Islamist violence, these people who genuinely believe that France’s ‘Islamophobia’ is a key reason 250 of its citizens have been slaughtered over the past five years, say after Nice? That an old woman going to a Christian church is a provocation? That such public displays of fealty to Christianity are bound to upset Islamists and therefore people should stop doing it? That would be the logical conclusion to the depraved victim-blaming they have engaged in following the Charlie Hebdo, Paty and other atrocities.

The failure of too many liberals to take a stand against the Islamist threat to life and liberty in France makes it harder for us to confront these violent regressive forces. Worse, their criticism of the victims – whether it was famous novelists criticising American PEN’s decision to give a bravery award to Charlie Hebdo or people responding to the beheading of Samuel Paty by talking about the problem of the caricatures – plays into the censorious extremism and violent cult of victimhood that are key aspects of the radical Islamist worldview. Indeed, one of the most worrying trends of our time is the interplay between the woke elites of the West and the ISIS-inspired extremists carrying out barbarous assaults in France and elsewhere: both believe that criticising Islam is wicked and punishable. One side calls it ‘Islamophobia’ and wants to No Platform it, the other calls it blasphemy and wants to execute its practitioners.

. . . Anyone who has so much as hinted at the possibility that the victims of terrorism in France brought their fate on themselves – by speaking or behaving in a particular way – has abandoned the cause of freedom and thrown his lot in with the extremist view that violence is an inevitable, if not understandable, response to those who would dare, whether wittingly or unwittingly, to upset Islamist sensitivities. That’s the question now: will we stand with the French Republic against its internal foe of radical Islam, or will we not? The silence and apologism of too many in the West suggests they’ve made their choice: they have chosen to abandon France when it needs us most.

I don’t often read comments on my infrequent Twitter posts—and never answer them—but when I tweeted out this article, two comments appeared, both by the same person, that exemplify the problem. The response is so obvious that I needn’t give it.

The NYT continues to blame Islamic terrorism on France

November 2, 2020 • 11:15 am

I still look in vain for an article in the New York Times—or any of the liberal media—explaining why Islam, among all religions, consistently inspires terrorism, including the two incidents that just occurred in France. But there are plenty of articles explaining why France is to blame. (One of the readers analogized this to blaming a rape victim for having too many drinks.)

I believe the recent NYT article below fits into the second genre; it explains why the French attitudes towards the Charlie Hebdo Islam-mocking cartoons could promote Muslim offense and terrorism. I again emphasize that I don’t for a minute think that all French Muslims are terrorists or approve of terrorism, nor that many haven’t integrated into French society.

Still, there’s something about Islam that promotes terrorism, and isn’t present in the other Abrahamic faiths to nearly as strong a degree. The media ignores that, because, after all, it could be seen as Islamophobic, and also expose other newspapers to attack. It’s left up to people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali (who then gets demonized as an “Islamophobe”) to explain why Islam inspires offense and murder, and to work out ways that the religion could be “defanged.” (Her latest book, Heretic, is a game try at this, but, I think, a futile one.)

Read for yourself by clicking on the screenshot.

To be fair, the article does mention French reactions that are a) extreme and b) truly “Islamophobic”—reactions that are bigoted and unnecessary. One is the French far right, most notably the National Rally political party headed by Marine Le Pen. It’s clear that the party isn’t just against Islam, but is xenophobic and would be happy if there were no Muslims in France. Another example that unnecessarily stirs up hatred is this:

But French officials have not only defended the right to republish the cartoons, some have gone further — including regional leaders who announced that a booklet including those images would be handed out to high school students as a commitment “to defend the values of the Republic.”

This seems unnecessary to me, as you can simply state what is considered offensive by some groups (though legal) without showing the images. And if the booklet has images only of Muhammad, well, that’s sheer bigotry: a singling out of Muslims for disapprobation.

While the French are strongly tied (rightly so) to their principle of laïcité (secularism; separation of church and state), there’s nothing wrong with the government announcing, after the killings, that it deplores the killers, that Charlie Hebdo has the right to publish what it wants, and yet add that it holds all Muslim citizens as French, equal under the law to anyone else. It needn’t say that it deplores “Islamophobic” cartoons, for that’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed if the French want to preserve secularism (the government would then have to say it deplores all cartoons that mock religion or anything else held “sacred”).

Now the piece above is a news piece, but there are several statements in it that seem muddled or even critical of the French free-speech policy. Here are a few:

In the tortured 14-year history of the cartoons in France, the response to the images there has undergone a profound transformation. Once denounced by the head of state for provoking and disrespecting Muslims, and later held at a cautious distance by other officials, the same drawings are today fully embraced across the political establishment — often conflated with France’s commitment to freedom of expression.

The caricatures have put France at a dangerous impasse, widening its divide with Muslim nations and leaving many French Muslims feeling alienated. To Muslims outside France, and some inside, the cartoons are simply provocative and gratuitous insults leveled at their faith. One drawing depicts the Prophet Muhammad carrying a bomb in his turban.

I disagree that the head of state should denounce the cartoons for disrespecting Muslims—not if that head refrains from similar denunciations about mockery of other faiths. You simply can’t single out Muslims as the one religion to be defended. That gives them a special “victim” status, hence violating laïcité.  I’m not sure what the article means by “fully embraced across the political establishment”, but I doubt that it’s true. Surely not all French politicians embrace the Charlie Hebdo cartoons! But they should all defend to the death the right of the magazine to publish them. As for exactly how this faux “embrace” gets conflated with “commitment to freedom of expression”, this is unclear.

But the second paragraph above is telling. Yes, some Muslims feel the cartoons are insulting. But in fact the cartoon showing Muhammad with a bomb in his turban was not a Charlie Hebdo cartoon, as implied in the article, but was in fact a Danish cartoon—one of the ones published by the Jyllands-Posten in 2005. This is an unforgivable error on the part of the NYT.

More important, those cartoons, as well as the ones published by Charlie Hebdo, have always been mockery of Islam, not Muslims. And their publication is legal in France. So long as they convey the malfeasance of religion, Islam in particular, I don’t find them beyond the pale. The one with the bomb in Muhammad’s turban is a perfect expression of the violence and oppression inherent in Islam.

But some do find these cartoons beyond the pale:

In 2015, the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the killing of a dozen people — including cartoonists and columnists — led to mass mobilization in Paris under the banner of “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie.”

Representatives from Muslim countries like Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan and Qatar joined that march against terrorism and for freedom of speech. But all of these countries have in recent days criticized the republication of the caricatures, arguing that they offended Muslims.

The editors at Charlie Hebdo republished the same cartoons to mark the start of a long-awaited trial of alleged accomplices in the 2015 attack, saying they were affirming France’s democracy.

. . . . “The publication and the republication are not the same thing,” said Anne Giudicelli, a French expert on the Arab world who has worked for the French foreign ministry. “The republication by Charlie Hebdo is seen as an obstinate will to continue humiliating. That’s what is different from 2015. Now there is the sense that France has a problem with Islam whereas, in 2015, France was the victim of terrorists.”

Humiliating what, exactly? The republication is Charlie Hebdo standing by its right to satirize religion, even as the attackers who killed 12 people—9 of them employees of Charlie Hebdo—go on trial after a five-year wait. And, in fact, France has had a problem with Islam since at least 1982, when Muslim terrorists shot up a Jewish restaurant in the Marais, killing 6. Ms. Giudicelli is muddled here.

A few more NYT statements that seem to justify Islamic terroism:

French secularism holds dear the right to criticize all religions — though not believers. The line is often difficult to draw, and has left many Muslims feeling personally insulted with the publication of caricatures of Muhammad.

Maybe the line is difficult to draw, but not in the case of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. The fact is that many Muslims don’t want there to be a line—they want attacks on their faith to be seen as attacks on Muslims themselves. One of these is quoted in the Times article:

Mohammed Moussaoui, the president of the French Council of Muslim Faith, said that there should be limits to offensive satire when it comes to religious beliefs. Limiting the publication of cartoons of Muhammad avoids fueling extremism, he said.

“I don’t think this is the right way to explain freedom of expression to children,” Mr. Moussaoui said of the caricatures in an interview with France Info. “The duty of brotherhood imposes on all to renounce some rights.”

In a subsequent statement, Mr. Moussaoui said that his suggestion to “renounce some rights” had been clumsy. But he added: “If freedom of expression gives the right to be satirical or humorous, we can understand that cartoons putting a prophet who is fundamental to millions of believers in suggestive and degrading postures cannot fall within this right.”

Excuse me? Moussaoui is trying to carve out here an exception for Islam, exactly what many Muslims want. And he’s badly muddled as well: if you have a right to be satirical or humorous, how does mocking a beloved prophet violate that right, Mr. Moussaoui?

I’ve talked before about the difficulty we sometimes encounter separating a believer from their belief: of mocking Islam while not demonizing those who embrace some of its most odious tenets. But all you need do is keep criticizing bad ideas, not people, and ensuring that Muslims in France are treated the same as everyone else. Above all, you cannot out of cowardice exempt Islam from mockery while allowing satire towards everything else. In one of the few sensible statements in the article, a professor defends freedom of speech:

Pierre-Henri Tavoillot, a philosopher and expert on laïcité at the Sorbonne University, said that the conflict over the caricatures has led France into “a trap.”

“In fact, they have become symbols and that turns the situation into a conflict,’’ he said. “But it’s a conflict that in my opinion is inevitable: if French laïcité gives up on this point, it will have to give up on all the others.”

He added, “If we abandon caricatures, for a French person, we’re abandoning freedom of expression, the possibility of criticizing religions.”

What irks me most of all is that there are other articles in the NYT criticizing the French government for exacerbating Muslim anger (here’s another, a exercise in op-ed apologetics), but none—not one—either explaining to readers why Islam prompts this kind of offense and consequent violent reactions, and not a single editorial—not one—condemning the Islamist killings and explaining why the excesses of Islam need to be reined in. Now I may have missed these pieces, but a Google search hasn’t revealed them. And if the Times has indeed failed to produce an editor-wide op-ed condemning the killings and laying them at the feet of religion, then the paper’s behavior is more shameful than ever.

The mainstream press “explains” why French Muslims commit terror attacks, including France’s “unusual attachment to secularism”

November 1, 2020 • 9:15 am

Muslims throughout the world are reacting with hostility towards France since Macron cracked down on extreme Islamism in the country. After the beheading of French schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who showed Charlie Hebdo cartoons satirizing Muhammed, and then a Islamic terror attack in Nice that killed three, President Macron is determined to defang extreme Islamism in France. His new plan, aimed at becoming law this year, bars Muslim home-schooling, requires all children to attend state-recognized schools from age three, and calls for more scrutiny of foreign funding of mosques as well as suppressing speech that incites hatred (his plan was formulated before the Nice killings).

In response, much of the Muslim world, but particularly Turkey, has vowed to boycott French products and strike back at France in other ways, including diplomatically. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is particularly incensed, though some of his ire is clearly meant to distract his populace from the tanking Turkish economy and Erdogan’s suppression of free speech and his efforts to return his country to the pre-Atatürk condition of being an officially Muslim country. Erdogan was particularly peeved at the latest Charlie Hebdo cover, below. (Macron also said, at a memorial service for Samuel Paty, that France “will not give up our cartoons”.)

Business Insider explains this somewhat enigmatic cartoon:

The cartoon depicts Erdogan sitting in a T-shirt and underwear, drinking a beer, and lifting up a woman’s hijab to expose her bare backside. [JAC: it’s not a hijab, which is a headscarf, but a chador.]

Drinking alcohol is considered haram, or forbidden, by most Muslims, and Erdogan has long condemned it.

“Ouuuh! The Prophet!” the speech bubble from Erdogan’s mouth said, suggesting Erdogan was only pretending to be a staunch defender of Islam.

The headline published alongside the cartoon said: “Erdogan: In private, he is very funny!”

This has really ticked off both Erdogan and many Turks. Erdogan had already called for a Turkish boycott of French products, and now his Ministry of Foreign affairs has called for both political and legal action against France.

Now I don’t spend my time reading all the world’s press, but my impression is that they’re spending a lot of space explaining why Muslims are angry at France for its crackdown on extreme Islam, as well as the cartoons, and not so much space decrying the terrorist attacks in France, much less the religious ardor that causes them. One gets the impression from some journalistic pieces, like the one under consideration, that writers are more concerned with explaining why the terrorists felt compelled to attack French civilians than with explaining why Islam inspires such acts of terrorism. (Here’s a particularly egregious example from Politico.)


UPDATE HERE: Reader Ken alerted me to the fact that the Politico article has disappeared, replaced by this editor’s note:

If it didn’t meet their editorial standards, why did they publish it? Well, I managed to find a copy online and have saved it at the Wayback Machine, so you can see the lunacy by clicking here.  I think you should have a look.


The implication of many of these pieces, at least to me, is that “the French sort of had it coming”. That may sound extreme, but given the pro-Muslim stance of the liberal mainstream press, and its failure to strongly decry the attacks—or analyze why Islam, alone among major faiths, inspires such attacks—I can’t help but think that these “explanations” shade into “excuses”. My prediction is that the liberal mainstream media, already strongly Islamophilic (after all, Muslims are seen by the Left as oppressed people of color), will become even more so in the coming years, and it will seep into their straight journalism, as it already has in The New York Times.

The latest report implying that “the French had it coming” is from the Associated Press (AP). As the article below from Tablet notes, the AP has long had a sympathy for Muslims, particularly in Palestine, to the extent of deliberately slanting its journalism in favor of Palestine and against Israel. I’ve mentioned this piece several times before, and since the AP is a major source of news for Americans, with its reports appearing in many newspapers, this is a must-read:

I won’t dwell on the piece above except to say that you need to read it if you have an interest in Western journalism about Palestine and Israel.

The story at hand is the new AP piece below, which has all the earmarks of an excuse. If you asked me why there are so many terror attacks in France, my answer would be that France has both absolutely and relatively more Muslims than any country in Western Europe (8.8%; 5 million), that this is a result of the French having colonized Muslim lands, that Islam encourages separatism and a sense of offense against those seen as “blasphemers,” and that the long-standing French policy of laïcité (secularism or church-state separation), which began with the French Revolution, is seen as a slap at religion, especially by Muslims.

Granted, French colonialism was abhorrent, but it no longer exists, and can’t be a valid reason for killing French citizens. Also, Macron’s measures, which I haven’t studied in detail, may be a bit extreme, but again, that doesn’t justify killing, nor does it justify the press’s concentration on French bad behavior instead of Islam-inspired murder. And I’m not sure how much of the Muslim failure to integrate into French society is due to their own culture rather than to French measures that prevent such integration. As far as I know, the French are eager to integrate all immigrants, but there is surely some bigotry against Muslim immigrants.

But the AP’s article (click n screenshot) sounds like a chastisement of the French for their secularism. To me, it’s more than an explanation: it’s also an excuse.

Here are some excerpts from the story:

So why is France singled out for protests and calls for boycotts across the Muslim world, and so often the target of deadly violence from the extremist margins?

Its brutal colonial past, staunch secular policies and tough-talking president who is seen as insensitive toward the Muslim faith all play a role.

As France steps up security and mourns three people killed in a knife attack at a church on Thursday – the latest of many attributed to Islamic extremists in recent years — here’s a look at some of the reasons the country is under fire.

The reasons:

Failure of integration:

But the country’s efforts to integrate Muslim immigrants have faltered. The official French doctrine of colorblindness is intended to ignore ethnic and religious backgrounds and to have all French citizens seen as equally French. In reality, the ideal often fuels discrimination against those who look, dress or pray differently from the historically Catholic majority, instead of preventing it.

Muslims are disproportionately represented in France’s poorest, most alienated neighborhoods, as well as its prisons. That has bred angry outcasts who see their homeland as sinful and disrespectful toward Islamic traditions, or simply racist against Arab and other immigrants from lands that once enriched the French empire.

Is all of this the fault of the French government, as the article implies?


France maintains a more hands-on role than Britain does in their former colonies, notably via economic and cultural ties — and that’s also visible in how France deploys troops abroad.

French forces intervened in recent years against Islamic extremists in Mali and Syria, both former French holdings. Thousands of French soldiers are now stationed in former colonies in the Sahel region of Africa with the same mission.

A French military presence fuels routine online appeals from IS, Al-Qaida and other extremists for retaliation on French soil, in hopes of forcing France to withdraw its forces.

“Strict secularism” (my emphasis)

Much of the current anger stems from the recent republication by French satirical newspaper weekly Charlie Hebdo of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad. The cartoon images of Islam’s founder deeply offended many Muslims, who see them as sacrilegious. But the cartoons were originally published in Denmark in 2005, and similar images have been published in other countries that hold freedom of expression dear.

While French officials often say their country is targeted because of its reputation as the cradle of human rights and a rampart of global democracy, what distinguishes France most is its unusual attachment to secularism.

The often-misunderstood concept of French secularism is inscribed in the country’s constitution. It was born in a 1905 law separating church and state that was meant to allow the peaceful coexistence of all religions under a neutral state, instead of a government answering to powerful Roman Catholic clerics. Crucifixes were at one point torn from classroom walls in France amid painful public debate.

A century later, polls suggest France is among the least-religious countries in the world, with a minority attending services regularly. Secularism is broadly supported by those on both left and right.

As the number of Muslim in France grew, the state imposed secular rules on their practices. A 2004 banning Muslim headscarves and other ostentatious religious symbols in schools remains divisive, if not shocking to many outside France. A 2011 law banning face veils made Muslims feel stigmatized anew.

Note the phrase “what distinguishes France most is its unusual attachment to secularism.” Yes, that may be an explanation, but, as in the Politico piece, it sounds like an excuse. France is too secular! As Politico said, France has a “dangerous religion of secularism.” Since when is secularism a religion? And how is it “dangerous”? Only to those who are so attached to their faith that they’ll kill for it.

Yes, secularism entails an acceptance of blasphemy, for religion, like politics, should not be protected from criticism. It’s that blasphemy that inspired the original Charlie Hebdo murders, and has now returned to prompt four more murders.

Finally, the AP mentions an “outspoken President”. 

France has been hit with extremist attacks over recent decades under leaders across the political spectrum, but centrist President Emmanuel Macron is a particularly popular target. Protesters burned his portrait or stomped on it at protests in multiple countries this week.

That’s in part because of a law Macron plans to introduce to crack down on Islamist fundamentalists he contends are turning some communities against the state and threatening pillars of French society, including schools. In the wake of recent extremist attacks, his government expelled Muslims accused of preaching intolerance and shut down groups seen as undermining French laws or norms.

The words the president uses have provoked outrage as well. He said the planned law was aimed at Islamist “separatism,” which raised fears of the further alienation of French Muslims.

At a memorial for a teacher beheaded for showing the prophet caricatures to his class, Macron gave a speech extolling tolerance, knowledge and religious freedom. But he drew ire, including from Turkey’s president, for saying, “We won’t renounce the caricatures” and that France should “diminish Islamists.”

Earlier, Macron described Islam as a “a religion that is in crisis all over the world,” with positions “hardening” in many Muslim countries.

Well, Macron may be a target, but he can hardly be blamed as a main cause of French terrorism. His statements were made after the killing of the teacher, and of course far more Islamist murders happened before his watch than after it.

Now I’m sure that France bears at least some guilt for policies that anger its Muslim population. But those policies cannot by any means justify the murder of civilians. And I maintain that the main cause is still religion—a religion that mandates proselytizing, encourages feelings of outrage, and is as much a way of life as a faith, encouraging separatism.

You may say that I’m misinterpreting these articles: that they’re just meant to explain to the public why French Muslims are outraged to the extent that they slaughter non-Muslim citizens. But I’d be more likely to believe such a claim if I saw an equal number of articles explaining why the religion of Islam, as opposed to other faiths, is so often involved in these attacks. Doesn’t the public need to know that, too? Well, not according to the press, who, if they gave such explanations, would be subject to terrorist attacks themselves.

Religion poisons everything.

h/t: Ben