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IMPORTANT NOTICE: On January 1, 2012, our name changed from "Hudson New York" to Stonegate Institute. Otherwise, everything will be the same, only more, bigger and better... With warmest thanks for your continued loyalty, and all very warmest best wishes for the New Year! The Editors

Stonegate Institute is attempting to encourage civil discourse on important issues of our time. The views expressed are not necessarily the opinions shared by those at the institute, but reflect a variety of viewpoints that may be controversial and sometimes provocative.

Latest Articles

U.S., E.U. Spearhead Islamic Bid To Criminalize Free Speech

by Soeren Kern  •  January 6, 2012 at 5:00 am

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The European Union has offered to host the next meeting of the so-called Istanbul Process, an aggressive effort by Muslim countries to make it an international crime to criticize Islam.

The announcement comes less than one month after the United States hosted its own Istanbul Process conference in Washington, DC.

The Istanbul Process – its explicit aim is to enshrine in international law a global ban on all critical scrutiny of Islam and/or Islamic Sharia law – is being spearheaded by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a bloc of 57 Muslim countries.

Based in Saudi Arabia, the OIC has long pressed the European Union and the United States to impose limits on free speech and expression about Islam.

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The "Confusing" Messages of Mahmoud Abbas

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  January 6, 2012 at 4:45 am

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Many Palestinians are finding it increasingly difficult to understand what Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas really wants. Some say they are even confused because of Abbas's contradictory messages to the Palestinians and the rest of the world.

On the one hand, Abbas has been telling the Palestinians that he has no intention to run for another term. On the other hand, some of his aides and advisors are now saying that Abbas is Fatah's only candidate for president in the next election, slated for next May.

Abbas used to say that he would never strike a reconciliation deal with Hamas unless the Islamist movement ceded control over the Gaza Strip. But in recent months Abbas has been talking to Hamas about reconciliation and unity with Hamas, whose forces staged a violent coup against Fatah in the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Abbas says he has reached understandings with Hamas to "open a new page" in relations between the two parties and end divisions in the Palestinian arena. But despite the talk about reconciliation and unity, Abbas's security forces in the West Bank continue to detain Hamas supporters and activists.

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Hamas: Legitimacy by Joining Muslim Brotherhood

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci  •  January 6, 2012 at 4:30 am

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A visit by Hamas visit to Sudan at the end of December exposed some of the irreconcilable positions that divide Hamas's leadership. The Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported that the most important issue discussed a a meeting during the visit was the relations between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Hamas's political bureau chief, Khalid Mashaal, tried to impose his viewpoint, the need of forming a new party, named the MB-Palestine Branch, to act as a reflection of the MB's Egyptian Freedom and Justice Party. Mashaal's idea is to dismantle Hamas, finding a new international and internal legitimacy in acting as a branch of the MB that is now recognized as a legal political party.

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Davutoglu Warns of 'Regional Cold War'
And more from the Turkish Press

by AK Group  •  January 6, 2012 at 3:00 am

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The emergence of fresh sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shiites threatens to plunge the Mideast into "a regional Cold War," Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu warned Wednesday, ahead of a critical visit to Tehran.

"We are determined to avoid a regional Cold War. Regional sectarian tension would be suicide for the entire region," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu told Anatolia news agency in an interview yesterday. Davutoğlu departed for Tehran late last night in preparation for two days of talks with Iranian officials.

The Turkish foreign minister's trip to Tehran comes amid rising tensions in the Middle East due to growing concerns of a fresh armed conflict between Iraqi Shiite and Sunni groups following the United States' withdrawal that could even spread to Baghdad's neighbors and an ongoing turmoil in sectarian-fragile Syria.

"There are some circles who wish to begin a Cold War on the axis of Sunni-Shiite tension whose affects would last for decades. I will raise this issue during my visit [to Tehran]," he said.

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Muslim Persecution of Christians: December, 2011
"Saying Merry Christmas Is Worse than Killing Someone"

by Raymond Ibrahim  •  January 5, 2012 at 4:45 am

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The Nigerian church bombings, in which the Islamic group Boko Haram ["Western Education Is Forbidden"] killed over 40 people celebrating Christmas mass, is just the most obvious example of anti-Christian sentiment in the Muslim world. Elsewhere in this region, Christmas time for Christians is a time of increased threats, harassment, and fear, which is not surprising, considering Muslim clerics maintain that "saying Merry Christmas is worse than fornication or killing someone." A few examples:

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The New Cold War with Russia
"We Build, They Build. We Stop, They Build."

by Peter Huessy  •  January 5, 2012 at 4:30 am

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With Russia's announcement that it will build a new 100 ton intercontinental ballistic missile – apparently pursuing its own nuclear modernization program -- the Cold War, it seems, has returned. Russia is building a system with the ability to quickly add hundreds of new warheads to its inventory. And it is conveniently placing the blame on Washington for a continued nuclear "arms race." This accusation helps both the Kremlin and the American critics of US military modernization by adding yet more leverage against any US efforts at nuclear modernization.

The whole idea of "arms control" has been to reduce warheads to make the early use of nuclear weapons in a crisis unlikely. During the height of the Cold War, however, the former Soviet Union would repeatedly justify its nuclear missile modernization programs as a response to American missile programs, and echoing the American critics of our own nuclear deterrent program who portray the United States as the serial aggressor and Moscow as the aggrieved party.

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Egyptian Elections: "The Worst Time Ever"

by Valentina Colombo  •  January 5, 2012 at 4:00 am

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Those people who hope for an Islamic democracy should remember the words of the Tunisian intellectual Raja Benslama, who in 2007 wrote: "We can not consider these muftis, those activists, those Islamic intellectuals democratic unless we think of a special type of democracy [...] a democracy without democracy, something perverse and hateful as the Muslim propaganda about human rights. "

The biggest danger is that the West, which has whitewashed the Muslim Brotherhood as a model of "moderate" Islam, might, comparing it to the Salafis, become more and more convinced that the Brotherhood actually is "moderate." As seen in their alliance in the recent Egyptian elections, however, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis are just two sides of the same coin, two different ways of introducing themselves and Sharia law into society before gaining power. Their aim is the same: The Islamic State.

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The Saudis' Attempted Power Grab

by Ali Alyami  •  January 5, 2012 at 3:15 am

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Threatened by developing domestic and regional challenges, the six autocratic Arab monarchs of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) huddled in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Dec. 19 and 20, 2011, to strategize against internal and external threats to their regimes. Their fears were voiced by King Abdullah warning that "the security of Saudi Arabia and its Arab neighbors [meaning the ruling dynasties] was being targeted." He implored the monarchs of the smaller Gulf States to "move beyond the stage of cooperation and into the stage of unity in a single entity," which translates to a formal union dominated by the Saudi ruling family.

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Israel, Palestine Hold 'Positive' Talks
And more from the Turkish Press

by AK Group  •  January 5, 2012 at 3:00 am

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Israeli and Palestinian negotiators held a "positive" first face-to-face meeting in more than 15 months and agreed to meet again on Friday, but cautioned that full-blown talks were still some way off.

"The talks and atmosphere were positive," Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told reporters after Tuesday's talks in Amman between Israel's chief negotiator Yitzhak Molcho, his Palestinian counterpart Saeb Erakat and Palestinian negotiator Mohammed Shtayyeh.

Washington, too, welcomed what it described as a "positive development" after months of deadlock in peace talks over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's 2010 refusal to renew a freeze on most settlement construction in the occupied West Bank.

Judeh, who hosted the meeting in the Jordanian capital, voiced cautious optimism.

"The two sides expressed their commitment to a two-state solution. We do not want to raise the level of expectations, but at the same time we do not want to minimize the importance of this meeting," he said. "The Palestinians submitted a paper on borders and security. The Israeli side received it, promising to study it and respond."

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Taking Energy Independence Seriously

by Lawrence Kadish  •  January 4, 2012 at 5:00 am

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At year end, 2011, as Americans emptied their wallets at the gas pump and crude oil reached almost $100 a barrel, OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia reported an $81.6 billion 2011 budget surplus.

The White House action at the same time was to ask Congress to increase our debt ceiling by $1.2 trillion to $16.4 trillion to cover budget deficits.

Nations decline and fall when their economies and monetary policies are incompetently managed. Unfortunately, it appears to be a lesson lost on too many of our leaders who have allowed the very stability of our nation to be imperiled by budget deficits and mounting debt. Our leaders have also failed on Energy Independence, allowing the cost and supply of the strategic commodity of oil to be controlled by foreign nations.

The ominous linkage between cyclical recessions and our repeated failure to achieve energy independence and oil price stability has caused much hardship on our citizenry and severe damage to our economy.

The historical evidence is clear. Whenever oil prices spiked as they did between 1972-1980, and then again between 2003-2008 and beyond, recessions in America followed.

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Nazi Conspiracy Theories in Egypt's New Politics

by A. Millar  •  January 4, 2012 at 4:45 am

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Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories have long been a staple of the Arab and Iranian press and consciousness. Haj Amin al-Husseini, an Arab nationalist and "Grand Mufti," broadcast Nazi propaganda to Egypt during the Second World War. And the Nazi-inspired conspiracy theory of a Jewish-Freemasonic alliance, dominating the world, still appears frequently in the official media today.

For many in the West, the convergence of Egypt's pro-democracy activists on Tahrir Square last year was a welcome sight – as it should have been. Believing it to be a portent of a new era of liberal democracy and pluralism in the region, however, appears to have been too optimistic.

Reporting was partly to blame. The media covered the sexual assault of American reporter Lara Logan during the protests in Tahrir Square, but largely chose to ignore the fact that the crowd was yelling "Jew! Jew!" at her during the assault. Logan was raped with the hands of the assailants while others photographed her with their mobile phones.

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Tunisia: The Ennahda Party's Autocratic "Coup"

by Anna Mahjar-Barducci  •  January 4, 2012 at 4:00 am

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Tunisia has a new Caliph. The new Tunisian provisional constitution, named "Mini-Constitution," gave the new prime minister, Hamadi Jebali, leader of the Islamic Ennahda party, complete control of the country's institutions.

Members of Ennahda had originally agreed that the commission that was to prepare the Mini-Constitution would be headed by a member of the opposition, but when it came to appoint the commission's president, members of Ennahda disavowed their previous commitment and appointed instead Habib Khedher, a young lawyer and politician, currently a member of the central office of legal affairs in the Ennahda party.

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Why Anti-Semitism Is Moving Toward the Mainstream

by Alan M. Dershowitz  •  January 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm

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For the first time since the end of World War II, classic anti-Semitic tropes—"the Jews" control the world and are to blame for everything that goes wrong, including the financial crisis; "The Jews killed Christian children in order to use the blood to bake Matzo; the Holocaust never happened—are becoming acceptable and legitimate subjects for academic and political discussion. To understand why these absurd and reprehensible views, once reserved for the racist fringes of academia and politics, are now moving closer to the mainstream, consider the attitudes of two men, one an academic, the other a politician, toward those who express or endorse such bigotry. The academic is Professor Brian Leiter. The politician is Ron Paul.

You've probably never heard of Leiter. He's a relatively obscure professor of jurisprudence, who is trying to elevate his profile by publishing a gossipy blog about law school professors. He is a colleague of John Mearsheimer, a prominent and world famous professor at the University of Chicago.

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US and EU Funding Palestinian Efforts to Stop "Normalization" with Israel

by Khaled Abu Toameh  •  January 3, 2012 at 5:00 am

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In recent weeks, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has been waging a campaign aimed at foiling any meetings between Israelis and Palestinians.

As a result, Israeli and Palestinian academics were forced to cancel a number of planned meetings in Jerusalem and the West Bank after receiving threats from activists belonging to various Palestinian groups, including Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction.

At the same time, the Palestinian leadership has permitted meetings between its representatives and Hamas officials.

Last week, Abbas received a high-level Hamas delegation in his office to discuss ways of achieving reconciliation between the two parties.

This is in addition to three meetings he has held over the past year with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Cairo.

If the Palestinian leadership has a problem with Israelis songs, why don't they then cancel the Oslo Accords and declare Israel an enemy?

A famous Israeli singer who was supposed to appear at a New Year party in Ramallah was forced to cancel his performance on orders from the Palestinian Authority.

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The Implications of the Final US Withdrawal from Iraq for Israel

by Dore Gold  •  January 3, 2012 at 4:45 am

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The final withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq last month raises the question of Baghdad's future role along Israel's eastern front. Historically, it is perhaps forgotten that Iraq was once a confrontation state.

With remarkable consistency, Iraq, under various governments, dispatched one third of its ground order-of-battle against Israel by moving its forces across Jordan in 1948 and again in 1967, while joining the battles in the Golan Heights in 1973. In 1991, Saddam Hussein launched 39 missiles against Israel as well. However, Saddam's defeat in 1991 and his overthrow in 2003, removed the Iraqi factor from Israel's strategic calculations for twenty years. How does Israel have to take Iraq into account, now that the U.S. has pulled out?

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