For Russia, Free Speech Is as Bad as Islamist Terror

Vladimir Putin once presented himself as an ally of the West in the war on terror, and Russia has had its own battles with jihadist violence emanating from Chechnya. But Russia’s response to the recent Islamist attacks in Paris, as expressed through its official and quasi-official media outlets, reflects a major shift. As Michael Khodarkovsky explains, Putin, who has reached an uneasy compromise with his nation’s large Muslim minority, considers liberal democracy a more dangerous ideology than jihadism:

On January 10, a protester holding a sign “I am Charlie” was arrested in Moscow and later sentenced to eight days in jail. A few days later, the federal media watchdog ordered the St. Petersburg edition of the Business News Agency to remove the new cover of Charlie Hebdo from its website. The same agency was warned that reprinting the cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad could be considered a criminal offense, and that it would violate the “ethical and moral norms formed in Russia through the centuries of different peoples and faiths living side by side.” . . .

Behind the purported wish to protect the feelings of the faithful lies a pragmatic attempt to maintain the support of conservative Christian, Muslim, and nationalist groups, and to keep Islamic extremists at bay. . . .

Though the Kremlin was quick to express solidarity with France and condemn terrorism in the aftermath of the Paris attack, the pro-government media placed equal blame at the feet of the Charlie Hebdo journalists for their provocative cartoons, and at the Western liberalism that allows such publications.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Charlie Hebdo, Chechnya, Freedom of Speech, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam, Russia


As Hamas’s Reign of Terror Endures, the International Community Remains Obsessed with Jews Living in the Wrong Places

On Thursday, foreign ministers of the G-7—the U.S., Canada, Japan, Britain, France, Germany, and Italy—along with the EU, made an official “statement on the situation in the West Bank,” an area where they are very concerned, it appears, that too many Jews are dwelling. In particular, the G-7 condemned Israel’s decision to grant municipal status to five ad-hoc villages built without proper permits. Elliott Abrams comments:

I can see “condemning” murder, terror, kidnapping, and “rejecting” that legalization. Indeed in the next sentence they “reject the decision by the government of Israel to declare over 1,270 hectares of land in the West Bank as ‘state lands.’” Building houses should not be treated with language usually reserved for murder.

The statement then added complaints about the Israeli settlement program more generally, and about Israel’s decision to withhold some tax revenues it collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Why does Israel ever withhold such funds? Sometimes it is in the immediate aftermath of a terrorist attack. Sometimes it’s domestic politics. But it’s worth remembering something else: the Taylor Force Act, which became law in 2018 and stated that the “Palestinian Authority’s practice of paying salaries to terrorists serving in Israeli prisons, as well as to the families of deceased terrorists, is an incentive to commit acts of terror.” Until those payments cease, most forms of aid from the U.S. government to the Palestinian Authority may not be made. The payments continue. It is not clear if the State Department is pressuring the Palestinian Authority to end them.

Such moral considerations are entirely absent from the G-7 statement. The statement may be correct when it says, “maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is critical for regional security.” But it should be obvious that ending the pay-for-slay program and rewards for terrorism is even more critical for regional security. It’s a pity the G-7 did not find time to mention that.

The statement, it’s worth noting, appeared on the U.S. State Department website.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Europe and Israel, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy, West Bank