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A Diplomatic Strategy for the Defense of Democracies

An Outline For Action

A. Defining the Issues
A.1. Gender Apartheid
A.2. Religious Persecution

B. Prescribing the Strategies
B.1. The Conceptual Design
B.2. The Practical Measures

Appendices
Appendix I
Appendix II

October-November 2006

 ArrowA. Defining the Issues

It is clear to any informed observer of developments in international affairs that the moral values of the Judeo-Christian civilization and democracies in general are under savage assault. It is also clear to any informed observer that a major and - without doubt, the most proactively vehement - source of this assault is radical Islam and its aggressive and intolerant expansionism.

However, what is perhaps less obvious, and certainly less articulated, is the fact the half of the human race - regardless of religious affiliation - has a vested and vital interest in arresting the onset of Islamic radicalism, in containing its influence and in extricating itself from the threat of its oppressive grasp. This imperiled segment of humanity comprises - all the woman of the world.

ArrowA.1. Gender Apartheid

If we do not oppose and defeat Islamic Gender Apartheid, democracy and freedom cannot flourish in the Arab and Islamic world… If we do not join forces with Muslim dissident and feminist groups; and, above all, if we do not have one universal standard of human rights for all - then we will fail our own Judeo-Christian … ideals.

Prof. Phyllis Chesler Testimony on
"Gender Apartheid in Iran and the Muslim World" before US Senate,
December 2005

Under any regime of Islamic fundamentalism, the prospects for womenfolk are likely to be dismal indeed - as is borne out by bitter experience across most of the Moslem world where "gender apartheid" of varying degrees of severity is a part of everyday life. Various forms of harsh gender persecution and discrimination are part of social norms and even formal legislation (Also see Appendix I).

Perhaps the one most blatant instances is that of Saudi Arabia where women, whether Saudi or foreign, suffer discrimination and human rights violations as a matter of routine - not only because of the gender bias in social mores and traditions, but because such apartheid-like discriminatory practices are prescribed by law. Strict segregation of the sexes, an integral part of Saudi Arabian society, has adverse and unfair effects on women, who are denied equal educational opportunities, are forbidden to drive, and may work only in certain vocations.

Human Rights Watch reports that apart from Saudi Arabia, women in Morocco, Jordan, and Kuwait, face government-sponsored discrimination that renders them unequal before the law - including discriminatory family codes that take away women's legal authority and place it in the hands of male family members - and restricts women's participation in public life. Indeed, women's empowerment and employment in the Arab world are among the lowest in the world and as is their participation in their countries' political and economic life (The Economist, July 4, 2002).

ArrowA.2. Religious Persecution

Violence also occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and Catholics in the Philippines… Islam has bloody borders.

Prof Samuel Huntington. Clash of Civilizations, Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993


Islamic intolerance is not confined to the gender issue and across the Moslem and Arab world, religious repression is the rule rather than the exception. This is certainly not a phenomenon limited to antagonism towards Israel, the Jews and Judaism (as reflected by the vitriolic and ubiquitous anti-Jewish invective - see Appendix II), but is far-more wide-ranging and extensive. In fact it is directed toward virtually all other forms of non-Moslem faiths, from the prohibition of churches in Saudi Arabia to the destruction of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan. However, perhaps the fiercest onslaught of Islam is against Christianity - particularly in Africa and particularly against the Evangelical movement which is proving to be the major - perhaps the only spiritual bulwark against the relentless advance of Islam in this continent (see Appendix II).

In many countries, conversion to Christianity is a punishable offence that carries heavy penalties - including lengthy imprisonment and even death. The unfortunate fate of Copts in Egypt and their persecution is a matter of documented record. In Saudi Arabia, it is illegal for Christians to gather together to practice their faith. Churches are totally forbidden and nothing relating to the Christian faith may be displayed, including personal items such as a necklace with a cross or a Bible. In Sudan, the horrendous plight of Christians (of whom, according to some reports, over one million have been butchered by official and unofficial Moslem militias) and other non-Arab ethnicities are regularly reported in the world media… and equally regularly ignored.

But even in outside the geographic confines of Moslem countries, the adherents of Islam persist with an arrogant and discordant asymmetry in their attitude to religion. Thus when Muslim communities immigrate to democratic countries and open societies, they invariably demand, very vocally and assertively, that their customs be respected and that they be allowed to practice these customs openly - in accordance with the commitment to pluralistic tolerance in these societies.

However, when Westerners visit the Islamic countries, they are expected to show their respect for the prevailing customs by adhering rigidly to them and by refraining from any public display of their own religion or customs.

 ArrowB. Prescribing the Strategies

ArrowB.1. The Conceptual Design

These topics of gender apartheid and religious intolerance/persecution, which arguably embody the two most objectionable aspects of Islamic radicalism today, can, and should, become the target for assertive action by those who feel that their entire system of values and world view are gravely imperiled by the spread of Islamic extremism.

For a concerted drive to abolish gender apartheid and religious repression on the one hand, and to enhance the status of Moslem women and install religious pluralism/tolerance in the Moslem world, on the other, would do much to underpin Judeo-Christian values and undermine the cause of Islamic radicalism across the international stage. Indeed, an endeavor of this kind, if successful, could be a major force for promoting positive and moderating change in the very fabric of Islamist regimes.

In implementing of such a drive, the major thrust of effort should be focused on persuading governments to adopt the type legislation which reflect the spirit of the Jackson/Vanik amendment in the conduct of their foreign policy. It was this amendment, which made benefits contingent on domestic reform and liberalization, that eventually succeeded in applying pressure on the USSR to allow Jewish emigration and induced greater tolerance in the Soviet's regime attitude to minority groups.

Similarly, groups that hold Bible-based, Judeo-Christian values dear should marshal their resources to influence both incumbent politicians, government officials and civil society elites and opinion makers for the incorporation of similar morally sound principles in their country's foreign policy.

ArrowB.2. The Practical Measures

In order to bring pressures to bear on decision-makers to implement the desired changes in policies, various channels of action are open to concerned individual and groups - vis-a-vis the political system and influential elements within the civil society of their countries - such as the media and educational institutions - in order to create a public climate amenable to introduction of these changes. These include:

ArrowThe canvassing of politicians and policy makers (including face to face meetings with them) to explain to them the iniquities of gender apartheid and religious persecution that prevail today in the Islamic world.

ArrowThe organizing of demonstrations and other protest actions decrying the injustices of discrimination on the basis gender or faith.

ArrowThe initiation of mass letter campaigns to both to politicians and major media organizations (printed and electronic) calling public attention to the injustices perpetrated against women and adherents of Judeo-Christian beliefs.

ArrowThe establishment of contacts with major media personalities and the conveying to them of factually accurate material on the grim realities in the Islamic world.- in particular with regard to the repression of women and non-Moslem believers.

ArrowThe dissemination of truthful accounts and reliable data on religious and gender persecution in across the Moslem world via internet, e-mail mailing lists or and other available communication vehicles.

ArrowThe setting up of pro-active monitoring facilities to document and disseminate information on gender and religious discrimination, repression and persecution.

ArrowThe monitoring of academic organizations and research institutes that tend to understate, conceal, disguise or distort the cruel realities which women and non-Moslems are exposed to.

ArrowEngaging educators, heads of teachers' organization, school principals etc. to inform and educate on the true fate of the victims of gender and religious persecution in the Islamic world.

In all cases it should be emphasized that the advocated policy proposals should be adopted not only because of the overwhelming moral merit they embody but also because of the long-term practical benefits that they are likely to provide if successful. For if the status of women is indeed enhanced and the greater religious tolerance is indeed introduced into Moslem world, there can be little doubt that the result would be a dramatic and positive transformation of Islamic society.

There can be little doubt this would be a development of tremendous benefit not only to those who hold the Judeo-Christian values dear - but to the entire international community as a whole.

The ensuing appendices present additional information that could contribute toward the design and promotion of a framework for the formulation of the proposed legislative and/or policy initiatives.



 ArrowAppendices

ArrowAppendix I

Topic: Eradication of "Gender Apartheid" and Enhancement of Status of Women
Objective: Passing an expanded Jackson/Vanik- type amendment focusing on :
The Enhancement/Advancement of the Status Women -- as Major Force for Promoting Change in Islamist Regimes.
Background/
Rationale

1. One of the major fault lines in fundamentalist Islamist society is that of gender with harsh discriminatory practices in place in most countries where such radical theocratic values prevail.
2. Focusing on this issue of what is in effect "gender apartheid", would permit the mounting of a sustainable offensive strategy against repressive Islamist regimes. Such an ideological offensive would conform entirely to the moral tenets of liberal democracy - and thus be relatively immune to criticisms from the usually obstructive "politically-correct" left.
3. Moreover such an offensive would on, the one hand, effectively target one of the most sensitive foundations of fundamentalist fanaticism and, on the other generate pressure for a positive, moderating transformation in Islamic society.
4. It would be difficult to imagine any other measure which would cut the ground more effectively from under the pillars of extremist Islamist society than a radical upgrading of the status of women in such societies. Indeed, experience shows that advancement of women produces effects that run strongly against the factors which nourish fundamentalist extremism.
5. For example, improvement of the status of women is usually accompanied by lower birthrates (hence smaller families), higher income levels, and better standards of education. This is a phenomenon acknowledged by many in the Muslim world itself. For example such source commonly cited the low status of women in Arab countries as one of the major causes of the underdeveloped and backward state of this part of the globe.
6. There can in fact be little doubt that an Islamic world, in which the status of women approached that of women in the West, would constitute an entirely different and a certainly less implacably hostile adversary than it does at present.
7. It would therefore be a definite interest of the United States and the wider libertarian world to prepare for a long-term, comprehensive and vigorous campaign, designed to foment demands for women's liberation in Muslim societies, to promote pressure for upgrading their status and for acquiring civil rights currently denied them.
8. Such an initiative would provide considerable PR and diplomatic advantages:
(a) It would facilitate a diplomatic offense against repressive extremist regimes- underscoring that if half their population is kept in state of unproductive suppression, lack of economic progress in ther countries is inevitable.
(b) Since women are clearly the group likely to most drastically and adversely affected by the propagation of Islamist values, focusing on the issue of the plight of women under such values, will contribute to raising public awareness of the inherent special menace such doctrine entails for half of humanity.
(c) As this issue transcends conventional political divisions, it has potential for harnessing considerable public support regardless of party affiliation. It is thus likely to provide a rare opportunity where both religious conservative and secular liberal forces can combine efforts and cooperate in promoting an issue which, for differing reasons, coincides with their opposing world views.
9. Due to the explosive sensitivity of the gender issue in Islamist countries, even if the proposed measures - see blow - do not succeed in bringing about a tangible positive transformation, it will at least throw these repressive regimes off balance and onto the defensive, forcing them to divert significant resources to deal with the consequences of the initiative.
Selected
References

Salman Masalha, The Arab Man is the Problem, The [Arab] Woman is the Solution, October 28, 2004 http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=subjects&Area=reform&ID=SP80704
Original Arabic: http://www.elaph.com/ElaphWriter/2004/9/11931.htm,

The destructive forces of honour killing in the Middle East, The Age - January 16, 2004 , http://www.aijac.org.au/resources/aijac-media/tl_age_160104.html,

The Correlation Between the Status of Women & Weak Democratization, May 16, 2003, http://www.islam-democracy.org/4th_Annual_Conference-Khandwala_paper.asp

Arab Human Development Report 2002, United Nations Development Programme, Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.
Self-doomed to failure, Jul 4th 2002 The Economist, http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=1213392

Amnesty International Report on Saudi Arabia http://www.amnesty.org/ailib/intcam/saudi/index.html


ArrowAppendix II

Topic: Religious Tolerance, Pluralism and Freedom of Faith
Objective:

Passing an expanded Jackson/Vanik- type amendment focusing on:

Propagation of Religious Tolerance and Pluralism
Protection/Empowerment of Christians /Christian Heritage from Persecution/ Eradication in Muslim Countries
  - In Africa
  - In the wider Middle East
  - In the Palestinian Authority
Elimination of anti-Semitic incitement and the racist hatred propagated by the Palestinian Media.

Background/
Rationale

1. Christians and Christianity are under savage assault across the Muslim World. Religious repression is the rule rather than the exception. In many countries, conversion to Christianity is a punishable offence that carries heavy penalties - including lengthy imprisonment and even death.

2. This is particularly true in Africa and the Middle East.

3. In Africa Christianity is emerging as the only spiritual bulwark against Islamist domination of the he continent. This is perhaps why it and its adherents have been subjected to such virulent attacks from their Muslim compatriots.
In Sudan particularly in the Darfur region, the horrendous plight of Christians (of whom, according to some reports, over one million have been butchered by official and unofficial Moslem militias) and other non-Arab ethnicities are regularly reported in the world media… and equally regularly ignored. Relief aid to starvation-hit areas is also reportedly made contingent on conversion to Islam. Across the continent, forced conversions to Islam are said to be conducted via the kidnapping of young Christian boys and girls. In Nigeria, Africa most populous nation, there appears to be a determined attempt by the Moslem North (which makes up about a half of the population) to impose Islam - including Sharia Law - on the entire country. Indeed, some commentators claim that an endeavor is underway to make Africa into the first Islamic continent.

4. In the wider Middle East: Across the Arab world, Christians also face grim realities. The unfortunate fate of Copts in Egypt and their persecution is a matter of documented record. In Saudi Arabia, it is illegal for Christians to gather together to practice their faith. Churches are totally forbidden and nothing relating to the Christian faith may be displayed, including personal items such as a necklace with a cross or a Bibles. In some places, such as Saudi Arabia and Iran, coverts to Christianity even face death. Significantly, the only country Middle East country where the Christian community is not decreasing is the much-maligned, always-reviled, often-boycotted Israel. Here the Christian community has grown in the last decades, despite emigration and a low birthrate. According to Le Figaro, in the last 30 years, the Christian-Arab population grew to 117,000 in 2004 from 80,000 in 1976. This is in stark contrast to the situation throughout the region - including the Palestinian Authority (see below)

5. In the Palestinian Authority. Under the Palestinian regime Christians also have to face discriminatory and intimidating policies which are reducing the Christian population at an alarming rate and obliterating signs and symbols of Judeo - Christian heritage in the Holy Land. Documented research of persecution of Christians by the Palestinian Authority includes Social and Economic Discrimination; Boycott and Extortion of Christian Businesses; Violations of Real Property Rights; Crimes Against Christian Women; Palestinian Authority Incitement Against Christians; and Failure of the Palestinian Security Forces to Protect Christians. One of the places most affected is the birth place of Christ, Bethlehem. Although for decades they constituted the majority, today Christians currently make up only 30,000 of the district's 130,000 residents. Numerous accounts point to a purposeful Palestinian effort to undermine - even eradicate - the Christian character of Bethlehem in favor of an overwhelming Muslim dominance. Complaints included cases of the defacing Christian property, appropriating lands of the Greek Orthodox Church in Bethlehem and the building mosques on the formerly Christian land.

6. Anti-Semitic Incitement and Racist Hatred in the Moslem World.

(a) The Moslem media (including that under the direct government control) continuously propagate messages of hate and demonization of Israel and Zionism, and well as of Jews and Judaism.

(b) In many respects, the diatribes of media in the Moslem world (particularly in Arab countries including the Palestinian Authority) strongly resemble that of the Nazi propaganda machine.

(c) Needless to say, the conduct of the Arab media serves to deepen the feelings of enmity, widen the rift between Jews and Arabs and perpetuate the violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Similar sentiments are cultivated in Moslem and Arab education systems (including the Palestinian system), where the same Nazi-like, dehumanized portrayal of Israelis and Jews, and the same hateful racist sentiments are conveyed to the youth via the school textbooks and other pedagogic materials.

Selected
References

Christian Life Under Muslim Rule, 2006 http://c4rpme.org/christians/cmr.html

Justus Reid Weiner, Human Rights of Christians In Palestinian Society, JCPA, 2005, http://www.jcpa.org/text/Christian-Persecution-Weiner.pdf

Robert S. Wistrich, Islamic Judeophobia: An Existential Threat, 2004, http://www.acpr.org.il/english-nativ/02-issue/wistrich-2.htm

Serge Trifkovic, Islam's Other Victims: Africa, February, 2003 http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=6099

David Raab, The Beleaguered Christians of the Palestinian-Controlled Areas, January 2003, http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp490.htm

Persecuted Church, http://www.bibleleague.org/persecuted/africapers.php

Bethlehem Christians under Palestinian Authority, http://www.jerusalemsummit.org/eng/bethlehem.php

Yossef Bodansky, Islamic Anti-Semitism as a Political Instrument, The Ariel Center for Policy Research, 1999.

 

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