Thursday, June 30, 2016

Human Rights Groups Unite in California -- Update

The human rights meeting, referenced last month, was held in Artesia, California, on Sunday, June 26 in honor of World Refugee Day.  Jagriti and Kashmiri Hindu Foundation hosted the event.  Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the powerful House Foreign Relations Committee, send words of greeting and support for the multi-ethnic, multi-religious gathering.

Keynote speakers included Dr. Amrit Nehru of the aforementioned Kashmiri Hindu Foundation, Yangchen Gakyil of Tibetan Association of California, Sagir Shaikh of the World Sindhi Congress, Aziz Baloch of International Voice for Baloch Missing in Canada; and yours truly who addressed the Bangladeshi Hindu issue and our common goals and possible action.

 As I noted in my address, we have to make sure it was not another seminar or meeting where people talked about justice but did nothing to help achieve it.  In the coming months, I will be working with all of the peoples represented to advance our common struggle for justice.  More to come as we turn the goodwill into joint action.

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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Human Rights Groups Unite in California

On June 26, 2016, I will be the featured speaker at a seminar called to observe World Refugee Day. The invitation-only event will be held in Artesia, California and bring together representatives from several groups struggling against radical Islam:

  • The Baloch
  • The Bangladeshi Hindus
  • The Kashmiri Hindus
  • The Pashtun
  • The Sindhi
They will tell the stories of their peoples' struggles, and provide evidence of human rights abuses committed against them by Islamists and their cohorts in the Pakistani and Bangladeshi governments. Then, I will provide a unified strategy that all can follow together toward victory.  If successful, this will mark a turning point in the fight against religious fanaticism, complicity by governments afraid to take a stand against it or to protect all their peoples, and inaction by world bodies, individual governments, media, and the human rights industry.

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Sunday, April 03, 2016

East Meets West in the land of Ignorance

Daniel Pipes, the great American scholar and expert on the Middle East, Islam, and more recently said in a Times of India interview that, “there’s a tendency in west Asia to blame western powers for whatever happens – be it as large as Islamic State or as small as a traffic jam.”  Having spent years in west Asia’s great cities and remote villages, I can confirm his observation.  Conspiracy theories abound.  They come from street vendors and auto drivers, educators and officials.  Take this exchange between an Urdu journalist (UJ) and me (RB) in Northern India:
   (UJ):  Every Muslim child knows that seven Jews control the entire world’s media.
   (RB):  Really?  I must have missed that meeting of the ‘world Jewish conspiracy.’  Who are they?
   (UJ):  Rupert Murdoch.
   (RB):  Not Jewish.  A good man; friend of Israel; but not Jewish.  [This is a well-established fact, challenged only by openly anti-Jewish sites like “Jewwatch.com.”  Murdoch attends church and holds an honor with the Catholic Church.]   Who else?
     (UJ):  Ted Turner.
    (RB):  Ted Turner?  I don’t think he even likes Jews!  [He is virulently and openly anti-Israel, has run afoul of the Jewish community many times, and in 1996 had to issue a public apology to the Jewish community for comparing Rupert Murdoch to Adolf Hitler, which is another fact making an alleged conspiracy involving the two of them nonsensical.]  It’s really shocking that you, a shaper of opinion and an educated person helps spread these blatant inaccuracies.  You’re supposed to inform your people, not feed them propaganda.

The level of ignorance about the United States especially, a nation that never colonized the region but has shed a lot of blood to save its people from terrorists, is astounding.  I once watched a rising star of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lecture a group of PhD students about how US policy was controlled by the Christian Church.  At a different university, I heard a renowned leftist professor suggest a US conspiracy against non-whites by saying that “ninety-percent” of African-Americans are in prison.  Neither even attempted to provide any objective evidence.
Our ignorance about you is equally shameful.  When I started working on human rights in Bangladesh, I was aghast at how few Americans knew where it was or even that it was a country.  At one point, many Americans at least associated it with former Beatle George Harrison; but even that has faded into history.  Then there was the college-educated American who heard I was working to save Hindus and who looked at me and very seriously asked:  “Hindus, aren’t they Muslim?”
Thus, the Pashtun who want Americans to understand their struggle so they can assess where their tax money goes, have to recognize this; the same goes for the Baloch and Sindhi.  For Americans, many of whom know little about Pakistan except the name, mere assertions of nationality are likely to fall on deaf ears.  If you want Americans to know your people and their dreams, you need to:
  • Grab us on an emotional level, but not with rantings, wild accusations, and big theories. Let us see you, feel like we know you, so we can experience the same joys, sorrows, and aspirations as you.  This will take time and require a well thought out program of awareness.  As an American, I know what will do it and am anxious to help.  However, it must be done continuously, again and again without becoming boring or repetitious, and we must be proactive in addressing audiences.
  • If you are going to allege any human rights abuses, incursions on your ancestral homeland, or other actions; you must make sure you have solid, objective evidence to support it. Through media and internet, we hear so many wild accusations and allegations of bad behavior that people are likely to dismiss them unless there is something else that resonates with them; and so often, the allegations turn out to be exaggerated or false.  More importantly, even if they are true, those who make them often fail to provide the convincing proof when they are inevitably challenged by those being accused.
If you do this, you will see as have so many other peoples, that Americans are the most generous people on the planet.  We have helped in disasters, used our geopolitical influence to stop human rights abuses, and even shed blood for good causes—whether it was stopping the atrocities against Muslims in Bosnia or funding the United Nations, even though it often takes positions against us and our allies.
It will not be easy or without its challenges.  However if it is done intelligently, in an organized fashion, and relentlessly, we will succeed.  You have a compelling story, and Americans are the right people to whom we should tell it.

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Nationalist Muslims: Antidote to Islamists?

Most Muslim-majority nations are stitched together nations; that is, forced marriages of several other peoples with independent and even conflicting existences.  Most people, for instance, know that Iraq was formed with Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds.  Few of them, however, realize the Iran is only about 60 percent Persian.  The other 40 percent are comprised of different national groups, most Muslim, many still yearning for independence.  Pakistan's dominant ethnic group, Punjabis, make up only about 45 percent of that country.  Both Iran and Pakistan both have several Sunni Muslim peoples straining under their oppressive yokes and looking for their independence.

I've been one of the characteristics of radical Islam is that it owes no allegiance to any national entity, except perhaps for temporary, strategic reasons.  Its view is universal; we refer to a worldwide Caliphate.  The groups mentioned above reject that and emphasize nationalism.  Moreover, part of their nationalism virulently rejects Islamism and seeks to re-establish nations that are equally welcoming to people of all faiths.  They also believe that the current nations of Iran and Pakistan are tied to radical Islam; and they oppose that as much as the occupation of their countries.

Is the West missing an opportunity if it does not support these peoples?

Do they also provide a real alternative to the flailing about for non-radical Muslims, which often settles on faux moderates?


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Friday, January 08, 2016

Islam's diversity opens gates for victory over Islamism

Many people in the west are desperately trying to find an answer to the scourge of radical Islam.  There are at least two problems facing them:  many push back at the thought of identifying a religion with terrorism (which often finds people at the poles of bigotry or fecklessness); lack of thorough and uncluttered information about Islam and Muslims has prevented a more complex understanding.  There is an answer to both problems.

Muslims are as diverse as any other group of people.  Many not only reject Islamism (or Islam as a political ideology); quite a few are trying to combat it, often at their peril.  If we recognize that diversity, it is a lot easier to square the recognition of Islam's role in modern-day terrorism and tyranny with our liberal western values of not vilifying people because of their faith.

By now, many people understand that many Middle Eastern countries (e.g., Iraq) were post-World War II creations of European colonial powers that threw diverse populations together without regard to their distinctions--Shia and Sunni, Kurd and Arab, Kurd and Persian, etc.  There's more than--much more--and it can be the basis of a strategy for victory over Islamism.

Take Iran, for example.  To westerners, it might seem like a country divided at times across political lines, something that the government suppresses ruthlessly.  Few westerners know, however, that only about 60 percent of the country is made up of ethnic Persians.  The remaining 40 percent is divided among several national and often restive minorities.  Some, like the Azeri, have an independent nation as well (i.e., Azerbaijan).  Others (e.g., Kurds) have been fighting for one while being spread across multiple Muslim-majority giants.  The Baloch, once had an independent state of their own (Baluchistan), which has been occupied by Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan for decades.  These and other non-Persian groups aspire to be free of Iranian hegemony that suppresses their culture and forces an alien form of Islam on them.  Some have even taken action, such as the killing of 18 Iranian Guardsmen in 2007.

Pakistan is another polyglot state with restive minorities.  The largest part of Baluchistan is occupied by Pakistan; and although Baluchistan is rich in minerals and other resources, Pakistani plunder has left it the nation's poorest province.  Other national groups--Sindhi, Pashtun, and Gilgit Baltistanis--long for independence or at least autonomy and have their own independence movements.  Many of their operatives look to regional leaders like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for inspiration; and almost all look to Israel as a model and ally.

Finally. as ISIS has begun establishing itself in South Asia, there is division even among Islamists.  Many look at the Taliban as their indigenous movement and ISIS as a foreign entity that is attempting to take over their movement.

One of the biggest drags on western support (even clandestine) for these groups is fear by some in ruling circles that these efforts will "destabilize" the region and risk putting Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in ISIS or Taliban hands.  Both arguments are weak.  You can't destabilize something that is not stable to begin with.  Pakistan has faced Islamist attempts at a takeover at least since 2008; its intelligence service is already listed as a terror supporting organization by the United States and others.  We also have seen that ignoring nationalist movements like these only delays the struggle.  Do any of those fearful westerners see peaceful and democratic resolution of these conflicts in Pakistan's history.  And their nuclear arsenal is already at risk from both internal and external Islamist threats.  Hopefully, the United States and others have secured them in case the worst happens.  Finally, most people believe that a good part of those nukes are located in Baluchistan.  Wouldn't it be nice if they were controlled by friendly forces and not just those that tolerate us for convenience and personal gain?

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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Anti-Israel EU Labeling Ignores Real Occupations



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the European Union’s (EU) decision forcing importers to differentially label Israeli products from Judea and Samaria (aka West Bank) and the Golan Heights as “hypocritical and [that it] constitutes a double standard.”

The administration of US President Barack Obama expressed support for the EU effort.  But then, as US Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio noted, Obama “treats the Prime Minister of Israel with less respect than what he gives the Ayatollah in Iran.”

The EU seems obsessively anti-Israel with its decision not to identify products from the West Bank and Golan as “Made in Israel” as only the latest example of that obsession.  It calls ad nauseam for Israel-Arab negotiations as the only path to peace but has already pre-determined their outcome by saying that these disputed territories are not part of Israel.  In lock step, that Obama administration spokesman who expressed support for the labeling also said that “we do not consider settlements to be part of Israel.” 

The evidence of this “asymmetrical” warfare against the Jewish State goes beyond righteous indignation, however.  That same EU labeling that targets Israel’s unconfirmed "occupation” ignores real ones, most egregiously Iran and Pakistan’s occupation of   Baluchistan.

Baluchistan stretches across southwestern Pakistan, southeastern Iran, and a small section of southwestern Afghanistan.  When the British left India, they thought they were leaving an independent Baluchistan, but the Pakistanis ruthlessly crushed it and have been treating the Baloch as virtual serfs ever since.  I’ve never heard of the EU refusing to label Balochi exports as Made in Pakistan, and their occupation is not disputed, as is the one with which they are obsessed.  Moreover, there are massive human rights violations by both Pakistan and Iran against the Baloch, and the European Union remains silent about them.  Moreover, Iran’s violations (see as one example, http://www.interfaithstrength.com/Studies%20on%20IRAN.pdf, scroll to page 196) were never even raised during the ill begotten “negotiations” on Iran’s nuclear program.  And judging by the slobbering excitement with which Europeans are greeting prospects of commerce with Iran; don’t expect them to be.

Only about 60 percent of Iran’s population is Persian.  The rest are ethnic minorities (many Muslim) whose identity is being ruthlessly crushed.  There are Baloch, Sindhi, and Pashto independence movements within Pakistan, all Muslim.  Yet, none of them is being taken up by the anti-Jewish state obsessed European Union.

It seems that the EU’s finger wagging “morality” is selective and coincides with historical European  tastes and economic interests.  When will the world wake up and stop Europe's carnage-complicit hypocrisy?

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Friday, November 06, 2015

Balochistan



Why do some groups’ struggles become fashionable and others do not? The Palestinians—a people with a history stretching back, oh gee, decades—are darlings of the left, Europeans, and their Muslim world sponsors who take draconian measures not to accept them within their borders.  They are the subject of almost continuous UN resolutions and occupy several international agencies, some exclusively, that are funded largely by the nations they demonize.  There are about 11.6 million Palestinians with a culture built almost entirely on enmity and hatred of Jews and the West.

The 10-15 million Baloch, on the other hand, have a history stretching back centuries and a rich culture with even earlier antecedents.  Unlike the Palestinians who have tried to claim a non-existent country, the Baloch actually had their own independent nation, Balochistan, that was swallowed up by British colonialists and their local allies.  They have not been favored with international aid and UN resolutions; and when a UN team simply tried to look into the matter, they were called off after Pakistani objections.  Europeans never refuse to buy Iranian or Pakistani goods that come from Balochistan--a nation with clearly defined historical borders that even its occupiers do not question.

Palestinians also are given a pass for terrorism that is an essential component of their "national" identity; and several of their major representatives make common cause with murderous Islamists.  The Baloch, on the other hand, practice a mild variant of Islam that is neither imperialistic nor murderous.  And even though terrorism is a marginal phenomenon among the Baloch, when a terrorist attack in Iranian-occipied Balochistan killed 18 members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, those same UN Security Council sycophants went out of their way to express sympathy for the victims, saying hypocritically “that no cause can justify the use of terrorist violence"; hypocritically because they look the other way when Palestinian terrorists kill Israelis.


We are involved in new efforts to bring justice to the Baloch and help them regain their independence.  Their struggle is real, and it will not go away; and if the Kurds can now see progress on Iran's western flank, there is no reason why we cannot help the Baloch do the same on its eastern flank.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Remember "The BDS 59" at election time

Those of us who feel passionately about our nation's security and the international fight against Islamists, and who are equally passionate about the State of Israel, have been snubbed time and again by the Obama administration and its fearful acolytes in Congress.  When that happens, people shake their fists and rant about those who are placing our security and that of our ally Israel in jeopardy, but too often we do nothing more.

I've spoken with so many individuals--passionate supporters of Israel--who have come to me with their anger about Barack Obama and his clearly anti-Israel actions.  Yet, when pressed, they admit that they voted for him not once but twice, the second time after his anti-Israel actions were--as they too admitted--on full display.  So with the 2016 US elections not that far away, from time to time, this blog will remind voters who snubbed them and did so expecting that they did not have the heft to administer the appropriate consequences.

Let's begin with "The BDS 59."

Do you remember when Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, addressed a joint session of Congress, and several members of that body publicly boycotted our friend and ally.  They did so even though were it not for our ally Israel, Saddam Hussein would have ten years of nuclear material for use against our troops in 1991; and even though were it not for our ally Israel, ISIS would have a bomb today.

Some of The BDS 59 tried to hide behind an excuse about protocol, however, there are historical precedents for the Netanyahu speech; and their anti-Israel boycott reflected their tacit or vocal support for the Obama's attempts to distance the US from Israel.  Here are The BDS 59 who do not deserve our votes in 2016 or any time:


Vice President Joe Biden
Sen. Al Franken (Minn.)
Sen. Martin Heinrich (N.M.)
Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii)
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.)
Rep. Karen Bass (Calif.)
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.)
Rep. Corrine Brown (Fla.)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.)
Rep. Lois Capps (Calif.)
Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.)
Rep. Joaquin Castro (Texas)
Rep. Katherine Clark (Mass.)
Rep. William Lacy Clay (Mo.)
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (Mo.)
Rep. Steve Cohen (Tenn.)
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (N.J.)
Rep. John Conyers (Mich.)
Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.)
Rep. Danny Davis (Ill.)
Rep. Peter DeFazio (Ore.)
Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.)
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (Texas)
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.)
Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.)
Rep. Chaka Fattah (Pa.)
Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.)
Rep. Marcia Fudge (Ohio)
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.)
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.)
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas)
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio)
Rep. Rick Larsen (Wash.)
Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.)
Rep. John Lewis (Ga.)
Rep. Dave Loebsack (Iowa)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (Calif.)
Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.)
Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.)
Rep. Jim McGovern (Mass.)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (Calif.)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.)
Rep. Gwen Moore (Wis.)
Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas)
Rep. Donald Payne (N.J.)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine)
Rep. David Price (N.C.)
Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (Ill.)
Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)
Rep. Mike Thompson (Calif.)
Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.)

They put partisanship over our security, and did so expecting that none of us will remember come election day.  We do remember, and this blog will put out more reminders in the coming weeks and months, including reminders of who voted for the Iran deal that places US and Israeli security in jeopardy.

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