Saturday, 17 January 2009


Terrorism's Twelve Step Program

by Bruce Hoffman


1. The fundamental organizing principle of America’s struggle against terrorism as a global war has outlived its utility. Although relevant to the challenge that the United States faced in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the term global war on terrorism (GWOT) has increasingly alienated our friends and discouraged our allies. This is particularly so in the Muslim world where the GWOT has unfortunately, and however erroneously, nonetheless become synonymous with a war on Islam. Accordingly, it may be more useful to reconceptualize this struggle in terms of a global counterinsurgency (GCOIN). Such an approach would a priori knit together the equally critical political, economic, diplomatic, information and developmental sides inherent to the successful prosecution of counterinsurgency to the existing dominant military side of the equation.

Greater attention to an integration of American capabilities and instruments of U.S. power would provide incontrovertible recognition of the importance of endowing a GCOIN with an overriding and comprehensive, multi-dimensional, policy. Ideally, this policy would embrace several elements: including a clear strategy, a defined structure for implementing it, and a vision of inter-government agency cooperation, and the unified effort to guide it. A more focused and strengthened interagency process would also facilitate the coordination of key themes and messages and the development and execution of long-term "hearts and minds" programs.
2. The central front in the war on terrorism today is not Iraq, but the lawless border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. America’s continued preoccupation with Iraq has exacted a heavy price in terms of mounting instability and growing jihadist strength in both South Asian countries. If 9/11 has taught us anything, it is that al-Qaeda is most dangerous when it has a sanctuary or safe haven from which to operate—as it now indisputably does. Indeed, virtually every major terrorist attack or plot of the past four years has emanated from al-Qaeda’s reconstituted sanctuary in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) or Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP). Perhaps most important, however, is that the broader movement’s ability to continue to appeal to its hardcore, political base and thus guarantee a flow of recruits into its ranks, money into its coffers, and support for its aims and objectives, ensures that this struggle will neither abate on its own accord nor be easily—and quickly—defeated.
The problem to date is that the United States has no effective political or military strategy for either Afghanistan or Pakistan and appears to treat them separately and not synergistically. Given that the security challenges in both countries are now ineluctably symbiotic, any serious effort to stabilize and secure Afghanistan must begin with a clear and consistent policy designed to achieve the same in Pakistan. Accordingly, the highest priority for the Obama administration must be to refocus our—and our allies’—attention on Afghanistan and Pakistan, where al-Qaeda began to collapse after 2001, but has now regrouped. This will entail understanding that al-Qaeda and its local militant jihadist allies cannot be defeated by military means alone. Success will require a dual strategy of systematically destroying and weakening enemy capabilities—that is, continuing to kill and capture al-Qaeda commanders and operatives—along with breaking the cycle of terrorist recruitment among radicalized "bunches of guys" as well as more effectively countering al-Qaeda’s effective information operations. The United States thus requires a strategy that harnesses the overwhelming kinetic force of the American military as part of a comprehensive vision to transform other, non-kinetic instruments of national power in order to deal more effectively with irregular and unconventional threats.
3. The interagency process is broken and requires fixing. This is as much a matter of a change in mindset as it is bureaucratic reorganization. Success in the campaign against global terrorism and radical jihadism will ultimately depend on how effectively the United States can build bridges and untangle lines of authority, de-conflict overlapping responsibilities and improve the ability to prioritize and synchronize interagency operations in a timely and efficient manner. Organizations will therefore have to do—or be compelled to do—what they have been reluctant to do in the past: reaching across bureaucratic territorial divides and sharing resources in order to defeat terrorists, insurgencies and other emerging threats. Clarifying these expectations and processes is a critical step in efficiently addressing contemporary threats to U.S. security as is creating incentives to more effectively blend diplomacy, justice, development, finance, intelligence, law enforcement, and military capabilities and coherently generating and applying resources to defeat terrorist and insurgent threats.Arguably, by combating irregular adversaries in a more collaborative and integrative manner with key relevant civilian agencies, those charged with countering terrorism and insurgency can better share critical information, track the various moving parts in terrorist/insurgency networks and develop a comprehensive picture of this enemy—including their supporters, nodes of support, organizational and operational systems, processes and plans. With this information in hand, the United States would then be better prepared to systematically disrupt or defeat all of the critical nodes that support the entire terrorist/insurgent network, thus rendering them ineffective. Achieving this desideratum, however, will necessitate the coordination, de-conflicting and synchronization of the variety of programs upon which the execution of American counterterrorist and/or counterinsurgency planning are dependent. An equally critical dimension of this process will be aligning the training of host nation counterparts with U.S. counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations: building synergy; avoiding duplication of effort; ensuring that training leads to operational effectiveness; and ensuring that the United States interagency team and approach is in complete harmony. In other words, aligning these training programs with operations to build indigenous capabilities in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency will be absolutely fundamental to the success of such a strategy.
4. Decapitation strategies only work if fully and successfully executed at the onset of a counterterrorism campaign. Accordingly, in tandem with decapitation efforts, continue to emphasize targeting mid-level leaders in terrorist groups. Killing or capturing Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri in 2001 or 2002 would then have dealt a stunning, perhaps even fatal, blow to al-Qaeda. Although it is still absolutely vital to fulfill President Bush’s 2001 pledge to get these killers “dead or alive,” we should be under no illusion that this act in and of itself will now completely stop al-Qaeda. Instead, U.S. counterterrorism strategy should continue to focus on eliminating senior and mid-level al-Qaeda commanders and thus progressively weakening its bench alongside a re-doubled hunt for bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. Mid-level leaders and commanders, in fact, are often more important than top decision makers to the long-term survival of a terrorist organization. Strategies aimed at removing these mid-level leaders more effectively disrupt control, communications, and operations up and down the chain of command. In addition, such strategies may also inhibit a group’s long-term growth by eliminating the development of future leaders. The targeted assassinations in Pakistan of eight key al-Qaeda commanders since July is an example of the proven efficacy of this strategy.
5. Information operations that delegitimize the top leaders of terrorist groups and undermine the image of these groups’ omnipotence is an essential adjunct to kinetic approaches. The top leaders of terrorist organizations are more than just policymakers for the group. They occupy an enormously influential and important symbolic position at the head of a terrorist organization that is often inextricably connected to that organization’s very existence. Therefore focused and sufficiently resourced public diplomacy and information-operations campaigns to discredit these leaders and undermine images of their and their groups’ omnipotence are critical elements in effectively countering terrorism.
6. Focus on disrupting support networks and trafficking activities. In tandem with point five is the effective targeting of essential support and logistics networks. This tactic primarily entails focusing on the middlemen that help terrorist organizations access funds and purchase supplies on the black market: financiers and smugglers. Attention has mostly been focused on front organizations and individuals that provide money to terrorist organizations. However, experience has shown that it would be more advantageous to expand this approach and target specifically the middlemen that, for instance, purchase diamonds from terrorists on the black market, or individuals that sell weapons to terrorist organizations. This tactic is a more effective way of disrupting the everyday activities that a terrorist organization must engage in to maintain its operational capabilities. It hinders the ability of a group to gather resources and plan sophisticated attacks in advance because they cannot rely on a steady stream of money or other essential resources.
7. Knowing the enemy is an essential prerequisite for any successful counterterrorism campaign. “If you know the enemy and know yourself,” Sun Tzu famously advised centuries ago, “you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” Yet, what remains missing seven-and-a-half years into this struggle is a thorough, systematic and empirical understanding of our enemy: encompassing motivation as well as mindset; decision-making processes as well as command and control relationships; and ideological appeal as well as organizational dynamics. Too often, a “one size fits all” mindset has predominated in our approach to countering what is in fact a diverse, and often idiosyncratic, array of enemies. Indeed, without fully knowing our enemy we cannot successfully penetrate their cells; we cannot knowledgeably sow discord and dissension in their ranks and thus weaken them from within; nor can we think like them in anticipation of how they may act in a variety of situations, aided by different resources. Further, we cannot fulfill the most basic requirements of either an effective counterterrorist strategy—preempting and preventing terrorist operations and deterring their attacks—or of an effective counterinsurgency strategy, gaining the support of the population and through the dismantling of the insurgent infrastructure.
8. Equal emphasis has to be given to the importance of information operations, psychological operations and public diplomacy alongside kinetic approaches. The most effective and lasting counterterrorism strategy will be one that effectively combines the tactical elements of systematically destroying and weakening enemy capabilities (the “kill or capture” approach) alongside the equally critical, broader strategic imperative of breaking the cycle of terrorist and insurgent recruitment and replenishment that have respectively sustained both al-Qaeda’s continued campaign and the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. Psychological operations that seek not only to kill and capture terrorists or insurgents, but also to persuade them to surrender have a particularly important role in these efforts. Even if the results of such efforts require time to succeed, the suspicion and mistrust sown within terrorist and insurgent ranks might force our enemies to expend more time and energy on watching their backs and monitoring their comrades than in planning and attacking us. The problem is that no agency or office has the lead for overseeing, coordinating and integrating information operations. Multiple agencies share this mission and within those agencies multiple offices claim responsibility: the result is duplication and redundancy and many voices speaking at once rather than one voice with one clear, authoritative message directing this process. Inadequate resources are an additional problem as information operations and public diplomacy remain distinct secondary priorities in the struggle against terrorism.
9. Playing an active and positive role in the resolution of iconic Muslim conflicts will accomplish more, have a greater immediate and long-term impact, and potentially will more decisively improve America’s image in the eyes of the Muslim world than foreign political reform, economic development and agrarian programs applied to individual Muslim countries. The United States needs to be more involved in actively attempting to broker long-term resolutions of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the conflict between India and Pakistan in Kashmir. Although foreign aid, American-backed efforts to promote political reform and economic development are important, arguably the most critical and beneficial element of U.S. foreign-policy efforts in countering terrorism is an America that is seen as working for peace in particularly sensitive regions of the Muslim world.
10. Protecting and securing the United States from terrorist attack depends on state and local law enforcement officers who are both the first and last lines of homeland defense. Their familiarity with the communities which they patrol enables these law enforcement officers to observe and detect criminal activity that may indicate a terrorist plot and thus to thwart its commission. American police departments and law enforcement agencies—and especially their street cops and patrol officers—need more and better information about both terrorism and the most effective strategic and tactical responses. The cop on the street, for instance, may likely be the key player in disrupting and preventing a terrorist incident. But to do so, this officer needs training based on the experience and best practices of other jurisdictions, both domestic and international, who have long been involved in countering terrorism as well as the requisite knowledge of terrorist behavior, patterns and modus operandi. Further, officers not only need to know what to look for but that what they are looking for may be a small piece of the larger puzzle that may reveal terrorist connections (e.g., investigations into crimes involving smuggling, human trafficking, fraud, extortion or narcotics that may also be terrorist activities).
11. Terrorism is more than a technical issue and requires a new political relationship between U.S. and European partners. Existing opportunities to learn lessons from respective experiences in counterterrorism and to develop best practices and common approaches with European law-enforcement counterparts are insufficient. Such efforts would improve trust and information flow between those working on terrorism issues on both sides of the Atlantic. The United States and Europe have a strong common interest in countering terrorism, especially from Islamist groups like al-Qaeda. In addition, our European law-enforcement counterparts already have long experience in combating homegrown terrorist threats and more recently acquired knowledge in countering Islamist threats. This confluence of interests provides the foundation to establish new political and counterterrorism relationships between the United States and Europe, and further build trust and cooperation and facilitate the exchange of information, through a broader and more coordinated program of secondment and exchange of law-enforcement officers.
12. NYPD (New York Police Department) has played a leading role in facilitating cooperation with international partners on counterterrorism issues, but current federal efforts to broaden these programs and make them available to other jurisdictions on a national basis are as inchoate as they have been inadequate. Unlike many other countries, such as the United Kingdom and Israel, terrorism is not necessarily a daily issue for the U.S. law-enforcement officer. For that reason, American law enforcement requires regular awareness and education programs to keep pace with the terrorism threat and the knowledge needed to prevent, preempt or respond to an incident. Sufficient funding and resources should be provided to establish a program whereby state and local law-enforcement officers could be deployed to overseas locations to observe the operations of foreign jurisdictions long involved in counterterrorism and with more recent experience in countering Islamist threats. Such deployments would enhance the knowledge of American officers, identify best practices and assist in the development of policies, practices and procedures relevant to U.S. law enforcement that could be adopted or emulated here. A parallel program could bring foreign law enforcement officers from key overseas jurisdictions to the United States on similar secondment assignments that would further enhance international-counterterrorism law-enforcement cooperation and promote the identification and exchange of lessons learned.
In sum, the current threat environment posed by terrorism and insurgency makes a new strategy, approach and new organizational and institutional behaviors necessary. The nontraditional challenges to U.S. national-security and foreign-policy imperatives posed by elusive and deadly irregular adversaries emphasizes the need to anchor changes that will more effectively close the gap between detecting irregular adversarial activity and rapidly defeating it. The effectiveness of U.S. strategy will be based on our capacity to think like a networked enemy, in anticipation of how they may act in a variety of situations, aided by different resources. This goal requires that the American national security structure in turn organize itself for maximum efficiency, information sharing, and the ability to function quickly and effectively under new operational definitions. A successful strategy will therefore also be one that thinks and plans ahead with a view towards addressing the threats likely to be posed by the terrorist and insurgent generation beyond the current one.
Bruce Hoffman is a contributing editor to The National Interest and a professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He is also the author of Inside Terrorism (2006).
taken from : B'NAI ELIM (


Is Islam a Violent Faith?

...Violence, Hatred and Discrimination in the Koran

Dr. Sami Alrabaa

If you say that Islam is a violent faith, you are accused of being anti-Islam and you are propagating “Islamophobia.”

There are more than one billion Muslims around the world, and I’m one of them. We are told that the Koran is the “word of God.” When you read the Koran, however – which over 90% of all Muslims have never read, according to a survey by Bielefeld University in Germany, and if they ever do, either they do not understand its archaic language or they do not ponder on what it says – you find out that it is full of passages that incite to hatred, killing, and discriminate against women.

Below are some quotations from the Koran. We begin with what the “holy book” of Muslims says about people of other religions.

According to the Koran and many Muslims, Christians and Jews have left the true path of their religion. Therefore, they are infidels (unbelievers) like Buddhists and Hindus, for example. In other words, according to the Koran, only Muslims, i.e. 19% of the world population, are true believers. The rest are “unbelievers” and “infidels.”

Literally, the Koran says the following about the Jews, Christians, and other “unbelievers:”

“O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” (Sura 5, verse 51).

“And the Jews say: Uzair is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah DESTROY them; how they are turned away!” (Sura 9, verse 30).

“And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. Say: Surely Allah's guidance, that is the (true) guidance. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper.” (Sura 2, verse 120).

“And KILL them (the unbelievers) wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers.” (Sura 2, verse 191).
“Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully; and Allah makes you cautious of (retribution from) Himself; and to Allah is the eventual coming.” (Sura 3, verse 28).
“And guard yourselves against the fire which has been prepared for the unbelievers.” (Sura 3, verse 131)“And when you journey in the earth, there is no blame on you if you shorten the prayer, if you fear that those who disbelieve will cause you distress, surely the unbelievers are your open ENEMY.” (Sura 4, verse 101).

“O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).” (Sura 9, verse 123).

“Surely We have prepared for the unbelievers chains and shackles and a burning fire.” (Sura 76, verse 4).

“O you who believe! if you obey a party from among those who have been given the Book (The Jews and Christians), they will turn you back as unbelievers after you have believed.” (Sura 3, verse 100).

“And their taking usury (interests on money) though indeed they were forbidden it and their devouring the property of people falsely, and We have prepared for the unbelievers from among them a painful chastisement.” (Sura 4. verse 161).

“Surely Allah has cursed the unbelievers (Jews, Christians and followers of other faiths) and has prepared for them a burning fire.” (Sura 33, verse 64).

“And whoever does not believe in Allah and His Apostle, then surely We have prepared burning fire for the unbelievers.” (Sura 48, verse 13).

Does Allah discriminate? The Koran says:

“You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them (some) are believers and most of them are transgressors.” (Sura 3, verse 110).

Therefore, what does the Koran say about those who turn their back to Islam and commit apostasy?

“They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them (the unbelievers) friends until they flee (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back, then seize them and KILL them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.” (Sura 4, verse 89).

Now, what does the Koran say about women? Here are some quotations:

“Men are superior to women because Allah has made so. Therefore good women are obedient, and (as to) those (women) on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and BEAT them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.” (Sura 4, verse 34).

“And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them, four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them.” (Sura 4, verse 15).

According to the Koran, a woman’s testimony is worth half of that of a man.

“O you who believe! when you deal with each other in contracting a debt for a fixed time then call in to witness from among your men two witnesses; but if there are not two men, then one man and two women from among those whom you choose to be witnesses, so that if one of the two errs, the second of the two may remind the other.” (Sura 2, verse 282).

As far as sex is concerned, women are sex objects, according to the Koran. They must be ready for intercourse any time the husband wishes so.

“Your wives are a tilth for you, so go into your tilth when you like, and do good beforehand for yourselves, and be careful (of your duty) to Allah, and know that you will meet Him, and give good news to the believers.” (Sura 2, verse 223).

During menstruation, however, men should keep away from women; they are filthy. The Koran says:

“It (menstruation) is a discomfort; therefore keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean; then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to Him), and He loves those who purify themselves.” (Sura 2, verse 222).

Women, according to the Koran, are, in general, unclean creature. After a Muslim has washed and prepared himself for prayer, he should not touch a woman. Therefore, “pious” Muslims never shake hands with women.

“O you who believe! do not go near prayer until you have washed yourselves; and if you have touched women, and you cannot find water, betake yourselves to pure earth, then wipe your faces and your hands; surely Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving.” (Sura 4, verse 43).

In case of inheritance, a woman inherits half of the portion a man inherits:

“They ask you for a decision of the law. Say: Allah gives you a decision concerning the person who has neither parents nor offspring; if a man dies (and) he has no son and he has a sister, she shall have half of what he leaves, and he shall be her heir she has no son; but if there be two (sisters), they shall have two-thirds of what he leaves; and if there are brethren, men and women, then the male shall have the like of the portion of two females; Allah makes clear to you, lest you err; and Allah knows all things.” (Sura 4, verse 176).

And what kind of punishment does a thief get, according to the Koran, regardless how much they steal?
“And (as for) the man who steals and the woman who steals, cut off their hands as a punishment for what they have earned, an exemplary punishment from Allah; and Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Sura 5, verse 38).

Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that uses the Koran as its day-to-day law for all kinds of disputes and crimes. It is the Shari’a (Islamic law). For Islamists and conservative Muslims, Shari’a is the constitution and law that must prevail everywhere. They argue, what is better than the law of Allah which He, via the Engle Gabriel revealed to the Prophet Mohammed 1400 years ago?

King Abdullah, the absolute monarch of Saudi Arabia, said on a televised speech August 27, 2008, “We do not need democracy, we do not need political parties, we do not need Western human rights, we do not need their freedom of speech. What we need is the Koran. It regulates our life perfectly. It is the best legislation in the history of mankind, it is the word of Allah. There is nothing better than Allah’s law.

”The “Hadeeth,” a collection of statements and comments which Prophet Mohammed allegedly made during his lifetime, is also full of atrocities. Here is a sample:

“A woman came to the Prophet and admitted that she had committed adultery and thereafter became pregnant. The Prophet summoned her husband and all people of Median (in Saudi Arabia). He said, ‘This woman committed adultery. Therefore, after she delivers her innocent baby, all of you are going to stone her to death. This is Allah’s verdict.’ After she delivered her baby she was stoned to death in the center of the town.” (Narrated by Muslim, (a close contemporary follower of Mohammed), cited by Khoury, The Koran, p. 550).

Stoning women and flogging men for adultery are widely practiced in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Hester on the scaffold in puritan Massachusetts, America of the 17th century, in the Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, must have felt happy that she was not born among the “believers” in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Koran is filled with contradictions. While in sura 2, verse 256, it says “There is no compulsion in religion,” it urges Muslims to kill those Muslims who convert to other religions.

Both the Koran and the Hadeeth were collected after the death of Prophet Mohammed in 632. The second Caliph, Othman ordered collecting the Koran and the Hadeeth which had been written no where. They were memorized by Mohammed’s followers. Then Mohammed and his followers were illiterate. He disseminated Islam by the word of mouth. A committee was formed in Mecca and followers of the new faith queued up to deliver what they could remember from the Koran and Hadeeth. This campaign lasted for over 70 years.

That the vast majority of Muslims have not read or digested the Koran has two major implications. First, if rational, modern-thinking Muslims read the Koran thoroughly, they would desert Islam. They would argue that God cannot incite to hatred and violence. The Koran cannot be the “word of God.” Second, if simple-minded Muslims read the Koran and digested it, they would stick to the above “commandments” and we would have more radical and extremist Muslims around the world.

Certainly the Torah, the Bible, and other holy books have their own atrocious passages, especially those discriminatory ones against women, though with one difference: Muslim fundamentalists adhere to the above cited passages – in belief they are commanded directly by Allah – and implement them to the letter. Think of those suicide bombers in the Middle East and elsewhere and of the violent demonstrations against the “Mohammed cartoon” in some Muslim cities. But it is also true that the majority of Muslims simply ignore these dreadful passages like many Jews and Christians ignore their own.

After he received and read this piece, Henrik Clausen from Europe News asked me if I was not afraid of being declared apostate. I said, “No.” I’m fighting for a human and modern Islam. Besides, the truth must be told at all costs. I also told him, it is not my personal opinion that the Koran incites to hatred, violence, and discrimination, etc., as we have seen above – it is our “holy” book that is preaching all this. The cited passages prove that beyond any shred of doubt. I’m just citing what the Koran commands.

Further, the above quotations are intended to help critics of Islam present tangible evidence for their arguments. It is not enough to say, “I think, I believe, etc.” It is also not enough to say “I’m exerting my right of freedom of speech.”

There is no room for theological interpretations unless you handle the Koran in its own historical perspective. The religious establishment rejects any interpretation anyway. The slightest attempt to do so is rejected and its authors are persecuted as heretics. Think of the Egyptian theologian Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, who is now living in hiding in the Netherlands. Besides, for conservative Muslims and fundamentalists, the Koran, as it is, is valid for all times and for everywhere. It is the “word of God.” He is not fallible and moody like we humans are.

Reformers of Islam, and I consider myself one of them, argue that the Koran and the Hadeeth should be looked at in a historical perspective. Muslims 1,400 years ago were fighting Christians and Jews. Therefore, they hated them. The Muslims wanted to prevail at all costs, therefore these passages in the Koran. Women were discriminated against because this was natural in the Arab culture at the time, and is to some extent today. Apropos, the situation in Medieval Europe was not better.

In addition, it is one of two things: Either the Koran was concocted by the Muslim leader, Mohammed, or at least partly, or it was made up by his zealous followers after his death. Remember that hundreds or thousands of Muslims at the time contributed to compiling this work. They were promised Paradise for their contributions like suicide bombers are nowadays promised it plus 60 virgin girls.

*Note: The verse numbers may vary from one Koran translation to another. Contributing Editor Dr. Sami Alrabaa, an ex-Muslim, is a professor of Sociology and an Arab-Muslim culture specialist. Before moving to Germany he taught at Kuwait University, King Saud University, and Michigan State University.

taken from : B'NAI ELIM (

A Song For Our Soldiers

my thanks to "Torat HaRav Aviner" blog for publishing this video.

His commentary words that I quote :

"While I had posted this song before, this is an updated version which is professionally recorded. The song is by Eliyon Shemesh and the words are from Rav Aviner. It has been written for our soldiers fighting in Gaza and promotes a message of support and unity."

The Torah Revolution: Our Founding Values: Religious vs Secular Ideology

The Torah Revolution: Our Founding Values: Religious vs Secular Ideology


Written by: Nathan Light

In this week’s parshah we are introduced to, most probably, the greatest figure ever in human history: Moses. From this parshah and on, Moses becomes the central character in the Torah until it’s culmination. Moses developed such a close relationship with God that the Torah itself says: “Never again has there arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, who God had known face to face” [Deuteronomy: 34: 10]. The start of this relationship is presented to us in this week’s parshah. By examining the very first encounter between God and Moses, perhaps we can develop an understanding of how one is meant to relate to God and how we can apply this idea to our own personal lives as well.

God revealed Himself to Moses in the form of a burning bush whose branches were not being consumed by the fire. Upon seeing this revelation, the Torah tells us:

“Moses thought, ‘I will turn aside now and look at this great sight ― why will the bush not be burned?’ God saw that he turned aside to see; and God called out to him from amid the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses,’ and he replied ‘Here I am!’ ” [Exodus: 3: 3–4]

Clearly, the Torah seems to focus on the fact that before Moses approached the burning bush, he first “turned aside”. Furthermore, it seems that God spoke to Moses only after He saw “that he turned aside to see”! Why was it necessary to mention this “turning aside” of Moses, and why did God deem it so important?

When approaching the issue of God and religion, so many people think they know better and choose to develop their own outlook on the issue. They come up with these ridiculous ideologies based on their own limited thought processes that allow them to negate religion and consequently negate God. This is an unfortunate outcome of one’s own inflated ego and sense of self-pride, for how can someone believe that he can out-think God!? God is infinite; beyond time and space! How can one apply frail human logic and reasoning when attempting to understand God!?

Before deciding to approach God, one must realize that he must step out of himself and “turn aside” from his own way of thinking. One must recognize that he is literally nothing compared to God, and that he must negate every part of himself when attempting to relate to Him (*See footnote*). Even Moses, who had already attained such unfathomable levels of wisdom and spirituality, knew this. Upon encountering God for the very first time, he understood that he had to forget whatever he thought he already knew and erase all of his previous lines of reasoning in the realm of religion and Godliness .

This idea applies to another category of people as well. There are many who have come to believe in God and have fortunately decided to become more observant in their religion. But at the same time they pick and choose which commandments they wish to follow! They say to themselves: “I’ll keep Shabbos and Kosher, but things like prayer and refraining from loshon hara (speaking badly of others) aren’t for me”. Again, this is a completely foolish line of reasoning. When one chooses to obey God’s will, they must also choose to negate their own will! There is no in-between.

This is something that requires a great amount of effort, and it can only develop over time. May we all be blessed to follow God’s will, and be able to go beyond the obstacles that we have created within ourselves.

Good Shabbos,

*This concept merely concerns the initial aspect of our relationship to God. Only once we reflect on God’s greatness and how tiny we are in His eyes, can we develop a true relationship with Him. But once we get past that step, we have to eventually recognize our own self-worth and what makes us unique as individuals. Each person on this Earth has his own special qualities and characteristics that set him/her apart from everyone else. We must strive to understand that uniqueness that we all possess and ultimately use it to build a pathway to serving God sincerely.
taken from :

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: MOURNING A LOST YOUTH

Sefer Chabibi Deepest Torah: MOURNING A LOST YOUTH
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