Amnesty International accused of supporting Jihadists

Update:  Gita Sahgal, the whistleblower, has been suspended from her job, here.

An insider, no less, has accused the organization of supporting terrorists’ rights before human rights. 

From the UK Times:

A SENIOR official at Amnesty International has accused the charity of putting the human rights of Al-Qaeda terror suspects above those of their victims.

Gita Sahgal, head of the gender unit at Amnesty’s international secretariat, believes that collaborating with Moazzam Begg, a former British inmate at Guantanamo Bay, “fundamentally damages” the organisation’s reputation.

In an email sent to Amnesty’s top bosses, she suggests the charity has mistakenly allied itself with Begg and his “jihadi” group, Cageprisoners, out of fear of being branded racist and Islamophobic. [Political correctness is going to be the death of us!].

Sahgal describes Begg as “Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban”. He has championed the rights of jailed Al-Qaeda members and hate preachers, including Anwar al-Awlaki, the alleged spiritual mentor of the Christmas Day Detroit plane bomber.

There is more!

Muslim extremism and “superfluous young men”

Here’s an interesting and important six-minute video in which Martin Kramer discusses the connection between birth rates and extremism. His commentary on his talk is here. (Kramer is a scholar of the Middle East at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the Shalem Center, and Harvard ‘s National Security Studies Program.)  His thesis is that “superfluous young men” fuel radical movements, and the growth of Muslim extremism is a function of the birth rate in those societies. He credits this idea to Gunnar Heinsohn and links to this article of his, titled Islamism and War: the demographics of rage. His thesis:

Since 2002, I have been warning that the increasing turmoil in Afghanistan is due to factors other than religious fanaticism or abject poverty. Those factors have always been there – and in times when there was no substantial civil insurrection. Instead, the blame should be placed on Afghanistan’s baby-boom, which has created half a century of “youth bulges” in the country’s population. The study of history shows clearly that when 30% or more of a nation’s male inhabitants are in the 15-29 age bracket, the result is chaos, violence and upheaval.

Here are Afghanistan’s numbers, and a critically important point for those who want to help poor countries:

In the coming decades, close to 500,000 Afghani [he means Afghan] males will reach fighting age each year. Almost all of these young men want to prove themselves in the traditional warrior spirit of their homeland. Since 1945, every Afghan father who has retired from the battlefield has left his unfinished fighting to three or four sons. Almost none of these sons can find a legal job, i.e. in opium-free agriculture or within the army and police units financed with western money. But these aid measures continue to provide better food, education, and medical care than ever.

This is a marvellous humanitarian achievement. Yet, no combination could be more explosive. Peace activists promise that the victory over hunger will also bring victory over war, and triumph for democracy. Youth-bulge research, however, shows again and again that when hunger is not an overwhelming issue and jobs remain scarce, the killing starts in earnest. Why? Because humanitarian measures have made millions of sons stronger and better educated. It is easy to multiply rice bowls and textbooks. It is impossible to do the same with careers. Moreover, for bread, people will beg; for positions in society, they will fight. And fighting offers a tempting choice for some 350,000 angry young men out of the half million coming of age every year.

In short, aid that makes people’s lives better and increases the population, without a growing economy, leads to killing and terror. I don’t think either Kramer or Heinsohn makes enough of the dysfunctional economies in the countries where Muslim extremism is rife. There have been times in America’s history when there were a great many young people — in colonial times, for example, though I don’t know if 30% of the males were between 15 and 29. Come to think of it, we did have a revolution, didn’t we? But that was led by older men, and was not characterized by violence and terrorism.  Almost all Muslim countries, maybe all, have economies where opportunities are few; mobility is limited; if there is wealth, it belongs to the government as in Saudi Arabia.

This is not necessarily a function of Islam, since there have been entrepreneurial Muslims from the beginning of Islam, and there are such now, even in economically rigid countries. It is more a problem of entrenched interests and corruption, and, relatedly, crippling regulations and laws. And western aid, of course, usually goes to governments, with very little going directly to encourage entrepreneurship (like the micro-loans we hear so much about but which are a minuscule portion of international aid).

(I don’t want to dwell on polygamy since it is almost a side issue here, but Kramer mentions bin Laden as being the 17th child out of 60-some children his father had by multiple wives. There was plenty of money in the family, but being one of 60-plus offspring could make a person feel insignificant and want to increase his importance and visibility, in a society with limited mobility.)

There are two connections to refugees in this situation. First and obviously, the turmoil the superfluous young men create is what has fueled many of the refugee problems around the world. And second, we have perhaps seen this situation in the U.S. in microcosm, as Somali young men have felt themselves without opportunity and unimportant and have sought out war and violence as the path to glory.

This demographic explanation doesn’t cover all situations, of course. Note the Muslim doctors and other professionals who have been involved in terrorism in the west. And some of the Minneapolis Somalis who joined the jihad were doing just fine in their quest for upward mobility here. Yet the Muslim birth rates in Europe are quite high, and the economies there are fairly stagnant with Muslims generally doing worse than the rest of the population, so there are fertile demographic conditions there as well. This is a complicated subject which I have only touched on, and I welcome comments from anyone with more facts.

Arab mistreatment of Palestinians raises no outcry

I was surprised and pleased to see that the Huffington Post published this column by David Harris, head of the American Jewish Committee, about the “rank hypocrisy and transparent double standard” (his headline) when it comes to reporting on the Palestinians. Harris writes:

In a recent edition of The New York Times, after seeing 25 column inches on p. A4 devoted to an article entitled “Israel Rebukes 2 in Attack on U.N. Complex,” I read a short news item two pages later. It wasn’t quite eight lines long, the fourth of five items under “World Briefing.”

Here are the first two (of three) sentences: “A human rights group criticized Jordan on Monday for stripping the citizenship of nearly 3,000 Jordanians of Palestinian origin in recent years. Concerned about increasing numbers of Palestinians, who make up nearly half the population, Jordan began in 2004 revoking the citizenship from Palestinians who do not have Israeli permits to reside in the West Bank.”

He goes on to point out that this is indicative of the double standard and hypocrisy when it comes to Arab misdeeds regarding Palestinians compared to Israel’s (real or invented):

Since the story surfaced nearly a week ago, I’ve looked in vain for editorials, columns, op-ed pieces, or letters-to-the-editor on the citizenship policy. Couldn’t find a thing.

I checked on the usual addresses that profess to care about the Palestinian fate – the UN General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories, Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Non-Aligned Movement, among others – and found nothing.

I looked at the usually loquacious individuals and groups for whom the Palestinian issue is the alpha and omega of human rights questions – the first and last example of refugees ever produced by conflict – and met a blank slate.

Silence from the mayor of Malmo. Silence from the London School of Economics Student Union. Silence from the British trade unionists who want to boycott Israel. Silence from the Norwegian academics who wish to shun their Israeli counterparts. Silence from those who seek to remove Israeli products from Trader Joe’s and Carrefour supermarkets. Silence from the media outlets that can be counted on to slam Israel for every perceived violation of Palestinian rights. Well, you get the point.

Harris then brings up two other such instances of the silence about Arab mistreatment of Palestinians. One was in 1990 when Saddam Hussein occupied Kuwait.

 After the Iraqi military was ousted, Kuwaiti officials ordered the expulsion of 3-400,000 Palestinians who had been living in the country, in some cases for decades. The Palestinians were accused of having served as a fifth column for Iraq. Out they went.

Think of it: 400,000 Palestinians who were integral members of society, kicked out just like that. Do you remember that incident? I learned about it only in the last few years, when Ann and I began RRW and I began paying attention to refugeee issues. And then there’s the more recent situation of the Palestinians in Lebanon, again around 400,000, most of whom have been there for decades.

 “Foreigners,” meaning Palestinians, are restricted from working in over 70 different professions in Lebanon, including medicine, dentistry, law and accounting.

Moreover, Palestinian refugees in Lebanon cannot today purchase property, and those who bought land before 2001 are barred from passing it on to their children. Only Lebanese citizens have the right to form non-governmental organizations. Palestinian refugees must do so through others since they are not accorded the chance to acquire Lebanese nationality.

In Israel, by contrast, Palestinians and anybody else can do all the things the Palestinians are barred from in Lebanon. Those who didn’t flee during the 1949 war, and their descendants, are citizens of Israel with voting rights, political parties, and members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, representing them. You might not have known that. It’s not the sort of thing the self-righteous of the world want to publicize.

U.S. contributes $40 million for Palestinian refugees (and Hamas)

The State Department issued a press release on February 4:

The United States announced today that it is making an initial contribution of $40 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) to support UNRWA’s regular budget and emergency programs in the West Bank and Gaza. 

The $40 million contribution will provide critical health, education, and humanitarian services to 4.7 million Palestinian refugees across the region. Of this contribution, $30 million will support UNRWA’s core services in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, and Gaza. An additional $10 million will support UNRWA’s emergency appeal for the West Bank and Gaza, including emergency food assistance, and job creation programs. 

The United States is UNRWA’s largest bilateral donor. In 2009, the United States provided over $267 million to UNRWA, including $116.2 million to its General Fund, $119.5 million to its West Bank/Gaza emergency programs, $30 million to emergency programs in Lebanon, and $2.2 million to assist other Palestinians in the region.

That was the State Department’s press release in its entirety.  No American media have report this news, though several foreign papers have. The Israel National News site Arutz Sheva reports this relevant point:

The American funding comes despite a report commissioned by the European parliament, which showed that Hamas terrorists have been chosen by the agency’s labor union to oversee its Gaza facilities, which was part of a Canadian decision last month to stop its UNRWA funding.

We posted on the Canadian decision here. And here’s a post from last May on a Joel Mowbray piece on how the U.S. taxpayers are enriching Palestinian terrorists by our funding of UNRWA. (UNRWA is the UN agency responsible only for Palestinian refugees, while UNHCR is responsible for all other refugees. UNHCR’s policy is to resettle refugees back in their home countries or in other countries, while UNRWA’s policy is to keep the Palestinians as refugees forever, or until they can destroy Israel.)

USCCB: We will be happy to take care of the Haitian children…

… for a price!  I am such a cynic, but new readers should understand that we have reached a point in this country where groups like the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are largely funded by the US taxpayer.   So, when I see them offering to set up all these services for Haitian kids I see it as just trying to grab a big piece of the “refugee” funding pie for themselves.

The USCCB has written to the State Department and to the Dept. of Health and Human Services offering themselves (and their affiliated agencies) to set up “safe havens” for Haitian kids whose family members have not been located.   I suppose there will be some readers wondering if it’s safe to leave kids in the hands of the Bishops!

I do, however, commend them for saying that kids should be kept in Haiti!

Washington D.C., Feb 6, 2010 / 10:26 am (CNA).- As controversy continues to surround the 10 relief volunteers who tried to take Haitian children out of the devastated country without paperwork, the heads of five major Catholic agencies serving earthquake victims have outlined steps to ensure the protection of unaccompanied Haitian children. Their recommendations came in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

The letter was signed by the leaders of Migration and Refugee Services of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and the International Catholic Migration Commission.

Citing their own experience in caring for unaccompanied children, they advocated that certain processes be put into place before Haitian children are brought to the U.S. and placed in adoption proceedings.

The Catholic leaders urged the establishment of “safe havens” in Haiti to provide proper care and security for children.

“Such arrangements for the security and material support of these children, who might otherwise be subject to kidnapping and human trafficking, should be the highest priority, and will permit the appropriate screening processes to proceed without delay,” they said.

But, if the kids must come to the US, we can handle that too say the Bishops. 

Their letter added that children whose best interest is relocation to the U.S. should be placed in foster care with refugee benefits.

That last part, about refugee benefits, that means that the USCCB is paid by the head to take care of each refugee—a little funding for the refugee and a little for Catholic offices and staff salaries.