PHILADELPHIA – January 1, 2021 – Below are the ten most frequently viewed MEForum.org articles of 2020 in descending order. Traffic to the original sites of publication, where applicable, is not counted.
The selections reflect heightened reader concerns about Iran, Islamists, and the COVID-19 pandemic. All are worth a (re)read.
Write-up by MEF General Editor Gary C. Gambill of a webinar by MEF writing fellow Phyllis Chesler about the barbaric practice of honor killing and how to combat it. Honor killing is the "cold blooded murder of girls and women by their families of origin," intended to "cleanse themselves" of societal shame stemming from such alleged offenses as refusing an arranged marriage and having infidel friends, said Chesler. Because female relatives "have internalized the same patriarchal and tribal beliefs that men have," they are often complicit in the killings. Though "not based in any particular religion," explained Chesler, honor killings in Europe and the United States are "mainly a Muslim-on-Muslim phenomenon."
2. Itai Bloch on Israel's COVID-19 Vaccine (March 14)
Write-up by MEF Communications Coordinator Marilyn Stern of a Middle East Forum Radio interview with Itai Bloch, lead researcher in computational chemistry, drug discovery and cheminformatics at the MIGAL Galilee Research Institute in Israel. Bloch discussed MIGAL's progress in developing a human vaccine to stem the COVID-19 pandemic and, more generally, why Israel's biotech industry is so advanced for such a small country.
MEF writing fellow Todd Bensman discusses the arrest of Pakistani medical doctor Muhammad Masood on charges of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization – ISIS. "The case is cause for reassessing current security vetting protocols ... to ensure that hot security threats are not imported among the doctors, engineers, and other skilled professionals who use the H-1B visa to leave countries of national security interest."
MEF writing fellow Abdullah Bozkurt reports that Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan underwent surgery for colon cancer in 2011 and suffers from epilepsy, citing former aides and regime insiders. Bozkurt suggests that these conditions may "explain his sometimes erratic behavior, angry outbursts and conflicting remarks."
5. Conspiracy Theories in a Time of Virus (March 17)
Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes explains that conspiracy theories blaming the COVID-19 virus on the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel fit a pernicious medieval pattern that goes back to about 1100 A.D. and the Crusaders in Europe. "However preposterous, these theories obstruct understanding the virus, dealing with it, and containing the damage," he writes, and thus "require refutation."
6. The Unthinkable: Soleimani Executed in Iraq (January 3)
Ginsburg/Milstein Writing Fellow Seth Frantzman argues that the U.S. killing of Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), dealt a major blow to its network of regional armed proxies and "sent a powerful message that killing Americans will not be forgotten or tolerated."
7. Camel Urine: Islam's 'Best Cure' for Coronavirus (April 28)
Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow Raymond Ibrahim discusses the campaign by an Iranian "Islamic medicine specialist" to persuade his countrymen to drink camel urine as the "best cure" for coronavirus. The medicinally prescribed ingestion of dromedary urine can be found in canonical hadiths or traditions of the prophet Muhammad and has continued to attract adherents in modern times.
Middle East Forum President Daniel Pipes discusses how the "uniquely hostile nature of European views toward Muslims ... influenced the medieval Christian sense of self, innovation, voyages of discovery, and views of the outside world."
9. The Islamist Takeover of George Floyd (July 26)
Ginsburg/Milstein Writing Fellow A.J. Caschetta analyzes how Islamists in the United States and abroad have "incorporated George Floyd into their messaging" and attempted to use his death at the hands of Minneapolis police to stoke divisions in America. This despite the fact that many Islamist groups exhibit a long tradition of racial bigotry.
10. Trump Just Enabled Israel to Attack Iran's Nuclear Sites (March 4)
MEF writing fellow Michael Peck discusses the Trump administration's approval of Israel's purchase of eight KC-46A Pegasus aerial tankers, which will improve the mid-air refueling capability its air force. The twin-engine KC-46A can carry more fuel (106 tons) than current Israeli tankers, has a longer range (more than 6,000 miles), and has better sensors and jammers to survive hostile air defenses. "New aerial tankers by themselves won't guarantee the success of an Israeli strike on Iran," writes Peck, "but they do make it a little easier."
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