Tag: election

Waiting in the Wings: Gideon Sa’ar and the Challenges to Netanyahu’s Dominance. By: CIJR Editorial Board (December 30,2019)

CIJR Editorial Board

Reuven Rivlin vote in Israeli legislative election (Source: Wikipedia)















As Israel heads to elections for the third time in less than a year, the spotlight is centred squarely on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the pending indictments against him in three separate criminal cases.

In Case 1000, as it is known in Israel, Netanyahu is accused of accepting expensive gifts (primarily cigars and champagne) in return for providing favors to benefactors. In Case 2000 he allegedly sought to trade positive newspaper coverage for benefits to Arnon Moses, owner of the Yediot Ahronot daily. In Case 4000, Netanyahu is charged with orchestrating positive media coverage for himself from the owner of the Walla news site, Shaul Elovitch, who is the controlling shareholder of the Bezeq communications giant. In return, the prime minister allegedly helped Bezeq buy an Israeli satellite cable provider while overriding any anti-trust issues.

Despite his repeated insistence that he is innocent and the subject of a witch hunt, Netanyahu’s political status could be resolved soon, as Israel’s High Court has called on Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to draft an opinion on whether Netanyahu can be tasked with forming a coalition should he win the March 2 national vote. Legal precedent requires Israeli cabinet ministers to resign if indicted for a crime, while a prime minister must resign only if he is convicted of a crime and out of avenues of appeal. There is no law pertaining to the issue of whether an indicted prime minister can form an entirely new government.

But perhaps the most acute and, ironically, least discussed, concern for Netanyahu is that he may not even be perched atop the Likud come the March election. In this respect, the party will on December 26 hold a leadership primary – and waiting in the wings is Netanyahu’s fiercest rival, Gideon Sa’ar, who only this year returned to the political fray following a half-decade hiatus from the Knesset, which he attributed to a desire to spend more time with his family.

A trained lawyer and journalist, while Sa’ar’s is not a household name outside of Israel, he is a formidable politician and maintains enthusiastic grassroots support. A former Education and Interior minister, he has twice been voted Likud’s No. 2 behind Netanyahu, and made an impressive comeback by placing fifth on the party’s list of candidates for the April election (the same list was used for the September vote).

Buoyed by this immediate success, coupled with a widespread view that he is Netanyahu’s heir apparent, Sa’ar was the only senior Likud lawmaker to break ranks and speak out against the prime minister during the latest failed coalition negotiations. Since then, he has received public endorsements from many Likud mayors and heads of regional councils, as well as from at least four parliamentarians, including Haim Katz, the head of the Likud central committee, from the short-lived 22nd Knesset.

Sa’ar’s right-wing “credentials” have also endeared him to many Likud voters. A staunch opponent of Palestinian statehood – the defining issue for many on the Right – Sa’ar on Sunday denounced the gospel-like “two-state solution” to ending the conflict as an “illusion.” He slammed Netanyahu for normalizing the paradigm and making “endless” concessions to Ramallah, which he claimed “is not a position that helps anyone.”

Instead, Sa’ar advocated for the creation of a federation between a self-governing Palestinian “entity” and Jordan. “Between the Jordan River and the [Mediterranean] Sea there cannot be another state,” he asserted.

Despite his ideological rigidity on the Palestinian issue – a position that some analysts argue Netanyahu still shares due his repeated campaign calls to annex parts of the Palestinian-administered West Bank – Sa’ar is considered a pragmatist, maintaining good relations with lawmakers across the political spectrum. When launching his bid for the Likud leadership, he suggested that he was best suited to form a government as he could unite the political arena by being less divisive.

Given his experience and growing appeal among – this, in light of the prime minister’s legal problems and perhaps due to “Netanyahu fatigue” – a window of opportunity is opening for Sa’ar, a reality reinforced by two recent opinion polls showing that more than 40 percent of the Israeli electorate blames Netanyahu for the political deadlock. This is compared to less than 10% for Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White list, a center-left alliance that won more seats than the Likud in the September election.

Most striking is that a separate poll published on Friday by the Israel Hayom daily – which is widely viewed as “pro-Netanyahu” – showed that prevailing public sentiment could have tangible effects, with Blue and White predicted to win 37 out of the Knesset’s 120 seats in March – a gain of four over the previous vote – versus 31 for the Likud, a loss of one mandate. Notably, once again neither Likud nor Blue and White is expected to be in a clear position to head a minimum 61-member coalition, as the country’s Right and Center-Left blocs are projected to receive about the same overall representation as they did in both April and September.

The prospect of another political stalemate could lead to the defection of additional Netanyahu allies, a potentiality strengthened by the Israel Hayom poll’s prediction that the country’s right-wing and ultra-Orthodox bloc would receive more mandates (56, as opposed to 51) in the next national election if Likud were led by Sa’ar instead of sNetanyahu.

Nevertheless, most agree that it is premature, if not foolish, to write off the prime minister – a political wizard seemingly with nine lives who this year became Israel’s longest-ever serving leader. During his tenure – which, in addition to being in power from 2009 to the present, also includes a stint as prime minister from 1996-1999 –  Netanyahu has repeatedly outwitted and outmaneuvered Likud up-and-comers and, subsequently, weathered criticism and storms created by former allies-cum-opponents. These include, among a slew of others, Yisrael Beiteinu chief Avigdor Liberman and New Right party head Naftali Bennet, who both started out as close Netanyahu confidantes.

Moreover, a recent Likud-commissioned poll showed that Netanyahu would beat Sa’ar in the upcoming primary by a margin of 53-40 percent, although some analysts believe that the survey was biased in favor of the prime minister. Even so, Netanyahu continues to maintain a fervent base within the Likud, as well as the support of a large segment of the electorate, with some members of both cohorts sharing the prime minister’s belief that he has been unfairly targeted and backing his call for “the investigators to be investigated.”

That said, Netanyahu’s legal issues, in addition to mounting evidence that Israelis will punish the Likud at the ballot box in March, are among the factors that ultimately portend the possible end of the reign of “King Bibi.” While Netanyahu has done wonders for Israel’s economy and diplomatic standing, in democracies there is no forever in politics.

As the challenges Netanyahu faces intensify, many Israelis for the first time in over are thinking beyond him. Indeed, few would be surprised if the people, as opposed to the courts, were primarily responsible for Sa’ar’s ascent to the highest office in the Land.



TONIGHT: CIJR & Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem Present: the U.S. Elections, 2016: Panel Discussion. Featuring: Machla Abramovitz (CIJR Academic Fellow), Prof. Frederick Krantz (Director, CIJR), Prof. Ira Robinson (Concordia U.), Prof. Harold Waller (McGill U.), Moderator: Jack Kincler (National Chairman, CIJR). Topics of discussion include U.S elections and American Jewry, the Middle East and the world, U.S. elections and Israel, U.S. elections and women: une question mal posée?


Admission is free. 7:30pm, Oct. 31, 2016.


Location: Congregation Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem, 6519 Baily Road, Montreal


Hillary Has Only Herself to Blame for the Mess She’s in: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Oct. 29, 2016 — We must forgive Mark Twain for his error when he declared that “history never repeats itself but it often rhymes.” After all, he’d never met the Clintons.

Clinton’s State Department: A RICO Enterprise: Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, Oct. 29, 2016 — Felony mishandling of classified information, including our nation’s most closely guarded intelligence secrets; the misappropriation and destruction of tens of thousands of government records — these are serious criminal offenses.

How Donald Trump is Still a Thing: Rex Murphy, National Post, Oct. 21, 2016 — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may have finally received the campaign miracle he needs

Donald Trump Garners Unlikely Muslim Cheerleaders: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2016 — With his statements targeting Muslims, it might seem that  Donald Trump would have few cheerleaders in the Middle East.


On Topic Links


Can Hillary Clinton Survive the Return of Carlos Danger?: Amy Chozick and Mark Landler, New York Times, Oct. 31, 2016

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in Dead Heat as Email Scandal Returns Near End of Presidential Campaign: Nick Allen and David Lawler, Telegraph, Oct. 30, 2016

What's a Conservative to Do? Vote for Pence: Daniel Pipes, Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 18, 2016

If You Love America and Israel, Vote Against the System: Naomi Ragen, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 31, 2016




Michael Goodwin                                                                    

New York Post, Oct. 29, 2016


We must forgive Mark Twain for his error when he declared that “history never repeats itself but it often rhymes.” After all, he’d never met the Clintons. If Twain were alive now, he would be astonished at how the headlines over the email scandal roiling the presidential race are virtual repeats of the family’s 1990s saga in power. The headlines are also an omen. A restoration of the Clinton presidency would be a restoration of the national and moral chaos they invariably create. They can’t help themselves. They are corrupt and corrupters, the ­Typhoid Mary of politics.


Whether by nature or nurture, they are programmed to ruin. Friends, allies, institutions — all are stained by their touch. And always, the Clintons blame somebody else. Now it’s FBI Director James Comey’s turn to embody their all-purpose bogeyman, the vast right-wing conspiracy. Somebody, sometimes everybody, is out to get them, unfairly of course.


The victim card is a Clinton family heirloom, but there are major problems playing it over Comey’s sudden reopening of the email probe. Clinton created the mess with her incredibly stupid decision to use a private server as secretary of state. Virtually every major issue dogging her, including her reputation for chronic dishonesty, was started or exacerbated by that decision, including the current one.  Even as her top aides remain mystified about why she did it, the result fits the family pattern now that Huma Abedin, her most loyal “body” person, is on the hook. It was, by all accounts, the FBI’s criminal investigation into Abedin’s pervy husband, Anthony Weiner, that led to the new cache of suspect emails found on a computer the couple shared.


Still, Clinton is understandably panicked because the timing of Comey’s announcement could cost her the election. Her demand that he release everything immediately is also understandable, even as she knows it is impossible for him to release potential evidence before it is examined. Her attacks on him play well to her base, and her media handmaidens are amplifying the complaint that he has gone rogue. But, as usual, there is less than meets the eye here, for Clinton could solve the problem herself without Comey doing anything to help.


She could simply order Abedin to hold a press conference and answer any and every question about the newest batch of emails. Let reporters ask Abedin directly: What’s in those emails? Did any contain classified material? Why didn’t you turn that computer over to the FBI during its initial investigation? Did you lie to the FBI about having work-related emails on it? Also, did Weiner have access to classified material? Was the computer ever hacked? the potential upside is huge. If Abedin can answer “no” to all the key questions about classified material and her own conduct, Clinton could credibly declare Comey’s announcement much ado about nothing. She could even hold her own press conference to answer questions and conclude by saying: We have been as transparent as we can be, and we are not afraid of a new investigation because we have nothing to hide.


Now, back to reality. Clinton reality. Hillary won’t do any of that because the potential downside is also huge. My guess is she fears the worst, and may secretly subscribe to the idea that Comey wouldn’t have acted in such a bold and controversial way without some conviction that he had stumbled on a potential bombshell. And Clinton, a former litigator used to playing defense, probably already knows what’s in the emails. Or perhaps she has concluded that, if indeed there are thousands of them, as is being reported, at least some are bound to refuel suspicions that she and her team are guilty of mishandling national secrets.


Then, instead of putting the issue to bed, any substantive discussion, including an Abedin press conference, would actually fan the fire just as voters are going to the polls. Moreover, even if Abedin’s answers would help Clinton, taking her public would be effectively betting the presidency on her performance. Abedin’s always worked behind the scenes, and has little experience in front of a camera, not to mention a forest of them that would assemble for such an extraordinary event.


To top it off, this professional crisis is coming as Abedin’s personal world is in turmoil. Weiner is a certified creep, but he is still the father of their young child, and now faces the possibility of federal prison. Against that backdrop, what if Abedin were to stumble or crack in public? What if she has a lawyer who advises her to say nothing because she might also be a federal target and risks incriminating herself by speaking publicly?…                                                                                               

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




CLINTON’S STATE DEPARTMENT: A RICO ENTERPRISE                                                                     

Andrew C. McCarthy                                                                                            

National Review, Oct. 29, 2016


Felony mishandling of classified information, including our nation’s most closely guarded intelligence secrets; the misappropriation and destruction of tens of thousands of government records — these are serious criminal offenses. To this point, the Justice Department and FBI have found creative ways not to charge Hillary Clinton for them. Whether this will remain the case has yet to be seen. As we go to press, the stunning news has broken that the FBI’s investigation is being reopened. It appears, based on early reports, that in the course of examining communications devices in a separate “sexting” investigation of disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, the bureau stumbled on relevant e-mails — no doubt connected to Huma Abedin, Mr. Weiner’s wife and, more significantly, Mrs. Clinton’s closest confidant. According to the New York Times, the FBI has seized at least one electronic device belonging to Ms. Abedin as well. New e-mails, never before reviewed by the FBI, have been recovered…


One thing, however, is already clear. Whatever the relevance of the new e-mails to the probe of Clinton’s classified-information transgressions and attempt to destroy thousands of emails, these offenses may pale in comparison with Hillary Clinton’s most audacious violations of law: Crimes that should still be under investigation; crimes that will, in fitting Watergate parlance, be a cancer on the presidency if she manages to win on November 8.  Mrs. Clinton appears to have converted the office of secretary of state into a racketeering enterprise. This would be a violation of the RICO law — the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1971 (codified in the U.S. penal code at sections 1961 et seq.).


Hillary and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, operated the Clinton Foundation. Ostensibly a charity, the foundation was a de facto fraud scheme to monetize Hillary’s power as secretary of state (among other aspects of the Clintons’ political influence). The scheme involved (a) the exchange of political favors, access, and influence for millions of dollars in donations; (b) the circumvention of campaign-finance laws that prohibit political donations by foreign sources; (c) a vehicle for Mrs. Clinton to shield her State Department e-mail communications from public and congressional scrutiny while she and her husband exploited the fundraising potential of her position; and (d) a means for Clinton insiders to receive private-sector compensation and explore lucrative employment opportunities while drawing taxpayer-funded government salaries.


While the foundation did perform some charitable work, this camouflaged the fact that contributions were substantially diverted to pay lavish salaries and underwrite luxury travel for Clinton insiders. Contributions skyrocketed to $126 million in 2009, the year Mrs. Clinton arrived at Foggy Bottom. Breathtaking sums were “donated” by high-rollers and foreign governments that had crucial business before the State Department. Along with those staggering donations came a spike in speaking opportunities and fees for Bill Clinton. Of course, disproportionate payments and gifts to a spouse are common ways of bribing public officials — which is why, for example, high-ranking government officeholders must reveal their spouses’ income and other asset information on their financial-disclosure forms.


While there are other egregious transactions, the most notorious corruption episode of Secretary Clinton’s tenure involves the State Department’s approval of a deal that surrendered fully one-fifth of the United States’ uranium-mining capacity to Vladimir Putin’s anti-American thugocracy in Russia.


The story, significant background of which predates Mrs. Clinton’s tenure at the State Department, has been recounted in ground-breaking reporting by the Hoover Institution’s Peter Schweizer (in his remarkable book Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich) and the New York Times. In a nutshell, in 2005, under the guise of addressing the incidence of HIV/AIDS in Kazakhstan (where the disease is nearly nonexistent), Bill Clinton helped his Canadian billionaire pal Frank Giustra to convince the ruling despot, Nursultan Nazarbayev (an infamous torturer and human-rights violator), to grant coveted uranium-mining rights to Giustra’s company, Ur-Asia Energy (notwithstanding that it had no background in the highly competitive uranium business). Uranium is a key component of nuclear power, from which the United States derives 20 percent of its total electrical power.


In the months that followed, Giustra gave an astonishing $31.3 million to the Clinton Foundation and pledged $100 million more. With the Kazakh rights secured, Ur-Asia was able to expand its holdings and attract new investors, like Ian Telfer, who also donated $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Ur-Asia merged with Uranium One, a South African company, in a $3.5 billion deal — with Telfer becoming Uranium One’s chairman. The new company proceeded to buy up major uranium assets in the United States. Meanwhile, as tends to happen in dictatorships, Nazarbayev (the Kazakh dictator) turned on the head of his state-controlled uranium agency (Kazatomprom), who was arrested for selling valuable mining rights to foreign entities like Ur-Asia/Uranium One. This was likely done at the urging of Putin, the neighborhood bully whose state-controlled atomic-energy company (Rosatom) was hoping to grab the Kazakh mines — whether by taking them outright or by taking over Uranium One.


The arrest, which happened a few months after Obama took office, sent Uranium One stock into free fall, as investors fretted that the Kazakh mining rights would be lost. Uranium One turned to Secretary Clinton’s State Department for help. As State Department cables disclosed by WikiLeaks show, Uranium One officials wanted more than a U.S. statement to the media; they pressed for written confirmation that their mining licenses were valid. Secretary Clinton’s State Department leapt into action: An energy officer from the U.S. embassy immediately held meetings with the Kazakh regime. A few days later, it was announced that Russia’s Rosatom had purchased 17 percent of Uranium One. Problem solved.


Except it became a bigger problem when the Russian company sought to acquire a controlling interest in Uranium One. That would mean a takeover not only of the Kazakh mines but of the U.S. uranium assets as well. Such a foreign grab requires approval by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a powerful government tribunal that the secretary of state sits on and heavily influences. Though she had historically postured as a hawk against foreign acquisitions of American assets with critical national-security implications, Secretary Clinton approved the Russian takeover of Uranium One. During and right after the big-bucks Russian acquisition, Telfer contributed $1.35 million to the Clinton Foundation. Other people with ties to Uranium One appear to have ponied up as much as $5.6 million in donations.

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





HOW DONALD TRUMP IS STILL A THING                                                                   

Rex Murphy                                                                                                                   

National Post, Oct. 21, 2016


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump may have finally received the campaign miracle he needs: Madonna recently promised that, “If you vote for Hillary Clinton, I will give you a b—j–.” If a spur were needed to drive the millions still in the “undecided” camp to flee in dread to Trump, this is it. Should it come down to a forced choice between voting for a rude scatterbrain, or being targeted for a home service visit from the world’s only Kabbalist sex toy, what’s to choose?


I’d prefer to use a less graphic example, but it does show that Trump, despite his own best efforts, is still in the running. After all, the washed-up pop star wouldn’t be offering her services if Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in. This prompts the question: how does the most disorganized, febrile, roller-coaster campaign in modern history still have wheels? If Trump is really a foolish, misogynistic, egotistic groper, why is the election still a contest? Well, loathe him as you may, he still strikes a chord with a great swath of the American electorate.


If Trump had a brain and could properly organize his thoughts, he would have already left Clinton in the dust. But even with the disorganized substitute for a brain that he does have, he is exploding so many of the fixed patterns of modern American politics, that — in spite of all his outrageous performances — people are still with him. His campaign may be a battered and beat-up embarrassment, but, for many people, at least it’s heading in a different direction from the weary, cynical road the political class has always travelled upon. Trump has wrecked the neat and subtle pact between the Republican and Democratic establishments. He broke the entire Republican field on the troublelous matter of immigration. He has blistered the mummified consensus on so many issues, and opened the windows on many others deemed too “uncomfortable” for public discussion, that, despite his recklessness, he finds support from multitudes of people who are fed up with the political class.


He’s broken free from the self-imposed shackles of political correctness, which has smothered so many conversations on important issues. And he has violated with almost gleeful savagery the previously sacred zone of not asking questions about the Clintons — from Bill’s transgressions, to Hillary’s ruthless attacks on her husband’s mistresses, to her “extremely careless” handling of national security matters, from sending confidential emails using a private server to the many still-unanswered questions about Benghazi. Then there’s the immense accumulation of wealth — more than $2 billion — by the Clinton Foundation, which was acquired from some of the most questionable regimes in the world, by the most questionable of methods.


Meanwhile, the left-wing media has tried its darnedest to ignore Clinton’s many sins, to the point of nullifying its real responsibilities. As Glen Reynolds of Instapundit has said, many of the high priests of the American media are “Democratic operatives with bylines.” Most damningly, Trump thrust into public view the tawdry tale of how the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. State Department and perhaps even the White House gave immunity to all Clinton’s aides, and made every effort to obstruct Congressional inquiries into the email scandal. In other words, he has been exposing how the power of the Clinton machine has infected the heart of the American system of government and how justice bends before power.


So how is it is the Trump campaign still has wheels? How can such a fractured personality, a blundering reality-show celebrity, wander about the American political landscape with even a slight chance of winning? It isn’t because of the candidate. It is despite the candidate. Trump, as such, inspires no one. But by instinct or just random chance, he highlights much of what is wrong with American politics. He says what has long been waiting to be spoken, calling out the political process itself, the players and the media.


Trump is rough, rude and unready to be president, by any normal or even strained standard. That he is still in contention is a barometer of how greatly American politics needs to be taken out of the hands of the people who have owned it for a generation. That’s the only reason his campaign matters. With savage irony, it’s likely even he doesn’t know that his own campaign is the strongest proof of how broken that system is.




DONALD TRUMP GARNERS UNLIKELY MUSLIM CHEERLEADERS                                                                   

Yaroslav Trofimov                                                                                                          

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2016


With his statements targeting Muslims, it might seem that Donald Trump would have few cheerleaders in the Middle East. And yet, as the U.S. presidential election approaches, an unusual collection of America’s Muslim friends and foes is rooting for the Republican candidate. Broadly, they can be grouped in two camps. The first are those long opposed to American presence in the region and encouraged by Mr. Trump’s isolationist thinking. They figure discrimination against Muslims in America is an acceptable price for ending America’s decadeslong involvement in the Middle East. A Trump victory, they hope, would greatly diminish America’s global standing.


Then there are some traditional U.S. allies in the region who have grown alienated under President Barack Obama and who fear Hillary Clinton would renew U.S. efforts to promote democracy in the region. In particular, these politicians in countries such as Egypt and Turkey find solace in Mr. Trump’s reluctance to criticize human-rights violations abroad. “Those regimes have a lot of concerns about a relaunch of the democratic project. For them, supporting Trump is a pragmatic choice,” said Jordanian commentator Amer al-Sabaileh, head of the independent MEMPSI think tank in Amman. “Their major priority is not to lose power, and they don’t care about how he views Muslims.”


Iran’s stance in the U.S. presidential race is particularly interesting. On the surface, Mr. Trump appears a hawk on Iran. He has criticized the nuclear deal struck by Mr. Obama, a plank of the Trump campaign. Yet, unlike Mrs. Clinton, he also appeared to embrace the core Iranian narrative of the current turmoil in the Middle East. He portrayed Tehran, the Syrian regime of President  Bashar al-Assad and Russia as forces combating terrorism. “Assad is killing ISIS, Russia is killing ISIS and Iran is killing ISIS,” Mr. Trump said at the second presidential debate. While the Obama administration points out that Iran, Russia and the Syrian regime focus their firepower on moderate rebels who oppose Islamic State, Mr. Trump, at the third debate on Wednesday, asserted that these rebels may be worse than Mr. Assad.


He also questioned American defense commitments to Iran’s main regional rival, Saudi Arabia, and alleged that Saudi authorities, like Islamic State, “push gays off buildings.” While gay sex is illegal in Saudi Arabia and many other Muslim nations, no one in the kingdom has been executed for it in recent times. “There are noises of joy in Iran when Trump turns around and says that Iran is on the right side in Syria,” said Alex Vatanka, Iran expert at the Middle East Institute in Washington. Yet, he added, the real reason Iranian leaders are rooting for him goes deeper: They believe they could get away with a lot more under a President Trump. “The hard-liners in Tehran view the Trump presidency as one where any kind of coalition against Iran in the way Iranians experienced it in the past 10 years would be so much harder for Washington to achieve,” Mr. Vatanka said. “The world is not going to listen to him and that becomes, in itself, an opportunity for Iran on the international stage.”


Even Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah militia, approvingly quoted Mr. Trump in a recent speech, citing the Republican candidate to support his longtime allegation that the Obama administration and Mrs. Clinton had created the Sunni extremist Islamic State. In Turkey, President  Recep Tayyip Erdogan initially reacted with anger when Mr. Trump proposed to bar Muslims from entering the U.S.—a policy stance since modified as “extreme vetting.” In June, the Turkish leader even called for renaming the Trump Towers in Istanbul. Mr. Erdogan’s tone, however, changed dramatically after the failed July coup against him. Unlike other Western leaders and the Obama administration, Mr. Trump refused to criticize the wave of detentions and dismissals in Turkey that followed the failed coup and expressed his admiration for the Turkish leader…                                                                                                               

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


Can Hillary Clinton Survive the Return of Carlos Danger?: Amy Chozick and Mark Landler, New York Times, Oct. 31, 2016—In the summer of 2013, Hillary Clinton had just left the State Department and returned to New York. She planned a quiet year, basking in sky-high approval ratings and enjoying a respite from the media spotlight as she laid the groundwork for a second presidential run. Then Carlos Danger happened.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in Dead Heat as Email Scandal Returns Near End of Presidential Campaign: Nick Allen and David Lawler, Telegraph, Oct. 30, 2016 —The U.S. presidential race has narrowed to a statistical dead heat in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s latest email scandal, a new poll showed Sunday. Donald Trump surged to within one percentage point of Clinton in the ABC News/Washington Post survey, having been 12 points behind in the same poll a week ago.

What's a Conservative to Do? Vote for Pence: Daniel Pipes, Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 18, 2016 —The disgraceful presidential candidates coughed up by America's two great political parties, each one repulsive in his or her distinctive way, leaves many conservatives in a dilemma. We cannot vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Nor, try as we might, do we warm to Gary Johnson's Libertarian Party.

If You Love America and Israel, Vote Against the System: Naomi Ragen, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 31, 2016—I can certainly see why women, including Jewish women, would prefer a seemingly well-spoken, mature senior stateswoman, to a brash, loud-mouthed political neophyte who has made so many off-handed offensive locker-room comments about women. This would be your instinct. How lovely, how easy, it would be then, to vote in a woman running against a man like that. And how disastrously wrong.








The Press Buries Hillary Clinton’s Sins: Kimberley A. Strassel, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2016 — If average voters turned on the TV for five minutes this week, chances are they know that Donald Trump made lewd remarks a decade ago and now stands accused of groping women.

The New York Times Abandoned its Integrity Just to Bash Donald Trump: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Oct. 11, 2016 — There is apparently nothing wrong with America that can’t be blamed on Donald Trump.

The New York Times’ Obsession With Settlements Means It Misses Other News: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Oct. 6, 2016  — One of the ways the New York Times shows its bias against Israel is with decisions on the placement of stories.

Is Obama Preparing a Parting Shot at Israel?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2016— Last week, the U.N.’s premier cultural agency, UNESCO, approved a resolution viciously condemning Israel (referred to as “the Occupying Power”) for various alleged trespasses and violations of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.


On Topic Links


Why Readers See The Times as Liberal: Liz Spayd, New York Times, July 23, 2016

The Ongoing NYT Propaganda Campaign: Prof. Phyllis Chesler, Arutz Sheva, Sept. 22, 2016

The Real Reason Reporters Don’t Give to Pols: It Would Give Away Their Agenda: Jonah Goldberg, New York Post, October 21, 2016

Checkmating Obama: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2016





Kimberley A. Strassel                                 

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2016   


If average voters turned on the TV for five minutes this week, chances are they know that Donald Trump made lewd remarks a decade ago and now stands accused of groping women. But even if average voters had the TV on 24/7, they still probably haven’t heard the news about Hillary Clinton: That the nation now has proof of pretty much everything she has been accused of.


It comes from hacked emails dumped by WikiLeaks, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, and accounts from FBI insiders. The media has almost uniformly ignored the flurry of bombshells, preferring to devote its front pages to the Trump story. So let’s review what amounts to a devastating case against a Clinton presidency.


Start with a June 2015 email to Clinton staffers from Erika Rottenberg, the former general counsel of LinkedIn. Ms. Rottenberg wrote that none of the attorneys in her circle of friends “can understand how it was viewed as ok/secure/appropriate to use a private server for secure documents AND why further Hillary took it upon herself to review them and delete documents.” She added: “It smacks of acting above the law and it smacks of the type of thing I’ve either gotten discovery sanctions for, fired people for, etc.”…


A few months later, in a September 2015 email, a Clinton confidante fretted that Mrs. Clinton was too bullheaded to acknowledge she’d done wrong. “Everyone wants her to apologize,” wrote Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress. “And she should. Apologies are like her Achilles’ heel.” Clinton staffers debated how to evade a congressional subpoena of Mrs. Clinton’s emails—three weeks before a technician deleted them. The campaign later employed a focus group to see if it could fool Americans into thinking the email scandal was part of the Benghazi investigation (they are separate) and lay it all off as a Republican plot. A senior FBI official involved with the Clinton investigation told Fox News this week that the “vast majority” of career agents and prosecutors working the case “felt she should be prosecuted” and that giving her a pass was “a top-down decision.”


The Obama administration—the federal government, supported by tax dollars—was working as an extension of the Clinton campaign. The State Department coordinated with her staff in responding to the email scandal, and the Justice Department kept her team informed about developments in the court case. Worse, Mrs. Clinton’s State Department, as documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show, took special care of donors to the Clinton Foundation. In a series of 2010 emails, a senior aide to Mrs. Clinton asked a foundation official to let her know which groups offering assistance with the Haitian earthquake relief were “FOB” (Friends of Bill) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs). Those who made the cut appear to have been teed up for contracts. Those who weren’t? Routed to a standard government website.


The leaks show that the foundation was indeed the nexus of influence and money. The head of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Ira Magaziner, suggested in a 2011 email that Bill Clinton call Sheikh Mohammed of Saudi Arabia to thank him for offering the use of a plane. In response, a top Clinton Foundation official wrote: “Unless Sheikh Mo has sent us a $6 million check, this sounds crazy to do.”


The entire progressive apparatus—the Clinton campaign and boosters at the Center for American Progress—appears to view voters as stupid and tiresome, segregated into groups that must either be cajoled into support or demeaned into silence. We read that Republicans are attracted to Catholicism’s “severely backwards gender relations” and only join the faith to “sound sophisticated”; that Democratic leaders such as Bill Richardson are “needy Latinos”; that Bernie Sanders supporters are “self-righteous”; that the only people who watch Miss America “are from the confederacy”; and that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is “a terrorist.”


The leaks also show that the press is in Mrs. Clinton’s pocket. Donna Brazile, a former Clinton staffer and a TV pundit, sent the exact wording of a coming CNN town hall question to the campaign in advance of the event. Other media allowed the Clinton camp to veto which quotes they used from interviews, worked to maximize her press events and offered campaign advice.

Mrs. Clinton has been exposed to have no core, to be someone who constantly changes her position to maximize political gain. Leaked speeches prove that she has two positions (public and private) on banks; two positions on the wealthy; two positions on borders; two positions on energy. Her team had endless discussions about what positions she should adopt to appease “the Red Army”—i.e. “the base of the Democratic Party.” Voters might not know any of this, because while both presidential candidates have plenty to answer for, the press has focused solely on taking out Mr. Trump. And the press is doing a diligent job of it.        





THE NEW YORK TIMES ABANDONED ITS                                                            

INTEGRITY JUST TO BASH DONALD TRUMP                                                                        

Michael Goodwin                                                                                                  

New York Post, Oct. 11, 2016


There is apparently nothing wrong with America that can’t be blamed on Donald Trump. He is single-handedly destroying the Republican Party, trashing presidential debates and spoiling the reputation of locker-room talk. And — breaking news alert! — Trump is even changing journalism. His habit of saying things that nobody ever said before is forcing reporters to unleash their partisan views instead of just giving the facts.


Some of these charges may be true, but the one about Trump changing journalism is demonstrably false. All the more so because it comes from the editor of the New York Times, who happens to be the actual guilty party. Dean Baquet, the Gray Lady’s boss for two years, recently claimed that Trump’s campaign had forced the paper into a new way of covering politics. “I think that he’s challenged our language,” Baquet told an interviewer. “He will have changed journalism, he really will have.”


The claim is presented as one of those chin-stroking insights about a new paradigm that liberals spot around every corner. In fact, it is just another example of the Times getting it all wrong. Trump didn’t change the Times — Baquet did. He’s the one who authorized reporters to abandon the paper’s standards when covering Trump and express their personal political opinions. Or, as Baquet said in the interview with Nieman Lab’s Ken Doctor, the struggle for fairness is over. “I think that Trump has ended that struggle,” Baquet boasted. “I think we now say stuff. We fact-check him. We write it more powerfully that it’s false.”


Fact-checking, of course, is often in the eye of the beholder, and quickly morphs into opinion when there is no restraint or neutral standard. The result is the paper’s relentless, daily assault on Trump, to the advantage of Hillary Clinton. Opinions, all uniformly anti-Trump, now ooze from the paper’s every pore, with headlines on front-page “news” articles indistinguishable from daily denunciations on the editorial and op-ed pages. This is not a mere continuation of the old liberal bias that infected the Times, the Washington Post and the broadcast networks for years. This is a malignant strain of conformity that strips away any pretense of fairness in favor of strident partisanship.


The signal that the Times abandoned its traditional church-state separation of news and opinion came in an article by the paper’s media reporter two months ago. In his August piece, Jim Rutenberg declared that most reporters saw Trump “as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate,” and concluded they had a duty to be “true to the facts, in a way that will stand up to history’s judgment.” Baquet, in the interview, cited the Rutenberg piece, saying it “nailed” his thinking. He also said he started “down this track” years ago, during the dispute over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and made it clear he believed then-President George W. Bush and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell lied to take America to war. The Trump treatment, he said, was a logical extension: “I think he gave us courage, if you will. I think he made us — forced us, because he does it so often, to get comfortable with saying something is false.” Baquet offered another example that got him to this point. He accused Republicans of lying in their “swift-boat” charges against Democratic nominee John Kerry in the 2004 campaign.


It is not incidental that his examples all involve allegedly dishonest Republicans, and none involves dishonest Democrats. Nothing better explains why the Times fails to give Clinton the same scrutiny it gives Trump. More than 60 percent of voters regard her as fundamentally dishonest, but Baquet sees only Republicans as liars. Simply put, his political bias precludes fair journalism. And once standards are gone, they are gone forever, meaning anyone wanting to work at the Times will face a political litmus test. Baquet’s defense of slanted coverage is reflected in the trove of ­emails WikiLeaks released from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.


Times reporters and columnists repeatedly show up in partisan ways. Washington correspondent John Harwood sends Podesta his private approval of Hillary Clinton appearances, as if he’s on the team. Columnist Nicholas Kristof, in advance of an interview with Bill Clinton, ­emails his questions, which Podesta’s team passes around to staffers to shape Clinton’s answers.


A Washington reporter gives Hillary Clinton veto power over quotations he can use from an interview. Another reporter is praised as someone who has “never disappointed” in delivering stories the campaign wants “teed up” for public consumption. As the editor, Baquet should be outraged that his staff secretly compromised the paper’s integrity. But as the editor who eliminated the Times’ standards, he’s getting the biased paper he wanted.                                                        




THE NEW YORK TIMES’ OBSESSION WITH                                                                   

SETTLEMENTS MEANS IT MISSES OTHER NEWS                                                                       

Ira Stoll                                                                                                                  

Algemeiner, Oct. 6, 2016


One of the ways the New York Times shows its bias against Israel is with decisions on the placement of stories. The latest example comes with the newspaper’s decision to print a news article, above the fold on page one, about a flap between the Obama administration and the Israeli government over a West Bank settlement.


I’d argue that this doesn’t really amount to “news” much at all. American governments have been critical of West Bank settlements for decades. Israeli governments, meanwhile, have for decades supported allowing Israeli Jews to live in the West Bank. Jews have a long historical and religious connection there. Jewish settlements provide a security buffer in the Jordan valley. They provide affordable housing and a security buffer around the Israeli capital at Jerusalem. And the existing Jewish population in the settlements needs room to grow.


Yet the Times editors place the “United States Criticizes Israel Over West Bank Settlement Plan” headline at the top of page one, judging it to be bigger news than a bunch of other stories in the day’s paper that did not make it onto the front page at all — including the approach of Hurricane Matthew, the end of cash tolls at New York City bridges and tunnels, the selection of a new secretary-general of the United Nations and the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


The Times is so obsessed with the settlement issue that it follows up the front-page story with another long one online — it will probably make the print newspaper sometime in the next few days — headlined, “West Bank Settlers Prepare for Clash, With Israeli Government.” That article is about the prospect that the Israeli government will force the evacuation of 40 families from Amona. Unfortunately for Times readers who are counting on the newspaper to deliver an accurate portrayal of the world, the newspaper’s focus on the settlement issue comes at the expense of excellence when it comes to other issues that are probably more significant.


For example, the White House made a stunning insult to Israel and to world Jewry by issuing a “corrected” press release deleting the word “Israel” from its description of the location of the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, the site of President Obama’s remarks at the funeral of Shimon Peres. The Times handled this not with a full-length news article, much less a front-page, above-the-fold one, but instead with a single paragraph all the way at the end of an article about the funeral. The fact that the Obama White House can’t even acknowledge that Shimon Peres was buried in Israel says so much. As Elliott Abrams wrote on his blog at the Council on Foreign Relations web site, the site “lies in Western Jerusalem, near Yad Vashem and Jerusalem Forest…only those who seek to destroy Israel think this place will ever be anything but a part of the Jewish State.”


As for the Washington Free Beacon’s scoop that there are three written agreements between the US and Iran’s intelligence ministry that are being kept secret from the public in a secure reading room on Capitol Hill — well, nothing about that in the Times, either. But in terms of the prospects for peace in the Middle East and for the security of Israel and America, that’s a much bigger and more important deal than any nonsense the Times is peddling about West Bank settlements.




IS OBAMA PREPARING A PARTING SHOT AT ISRAEL?                                                                        

Charles Krauthammer                                                                               

Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2016


Last week, the U.N.’s premier cultural agency, UNESCO, approved a resolution viciously condemning Israel (referred to as “the Occupying Power”) for various alleged trespasses and violations of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Except that the resolution never uses that term for Judaism’s holiest shrine. It refers to and treats it as an exclusively Muslim site, a deliberate attempt to eradicate its connection — let alone its centrality — to the Jewish people and Jewish history.


This Orwellian absurdity, part of a larger effort to deny the Jewish connection to their ancestral homeland, is an insult not just to Judaism but to Christianity. It makes a mockery of the Gospels, which chronicle the story of a Galilean Jew whose life and ministry unfolded throughout the Holy Land, most especially in Jerusalem and the Temple. If this is nothing but a Muslim site, what happens to the very foundation of Christianity, which occurred 600 years before Islam even came into being?


This UNESCO resolution is merely the surreal extreme of the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. It features the BDS movement (Boycott, Divest and Sanction), now growing on Western university campuses and in some mainline Protestant churches. And it extends even into some precincts of the Democratic Party.


Bernie Sanders tried to introduce into the Democratic Party platform a plank more unfavorable to Israel. He failed, but when a couple of Hillary Clinton campaign consultants questioned (in emails revealed by WikiLeaks) why she should be mentioning Israel in her speeches, campaign manager Robby Mook concurred, “We shouldn’t have Israel at public events. Especially dem activists.” For whom the very mention of Israel is toxic.


And what to make of the White House’s correction to a news release about last month’s funeral of Shimon Peres? The original release identified the location as “Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel.” The correction crossed out the country identifier — “Israel.” Well, where else is Jerusalem? Sri Lanka? Moreover, Mount Herzl isn’t even in disputed East Jerusalem. It’s in West Jerusalem, within the boundaries of pre-1967 Israel. If that’s not Israel, what is?


But such cowardly gestures are mere pinpricks compared to the damage Israel faces in the final days of the Obama presidency. As John Hannah of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recently wrote (in Foreign Policy), there have been indications for months that President Obama might go to the U.N. and unveil his own final status parameters of a two-state solution. These would then be enshrined in a new Security Council resolution that could officially recognize a Palestinian state on the territory Israel came into possession of during the 1967 Six-Day War. There is a reason such a move has been resisted by eight previous U.S. administrations: It overthrows the central premise of Middle East peacemaking — land for peace. Under which the Palestinians get their state after negotiations in which the parties agree on recognized boundaries, exchange mutual recognition and declare a permanent end to the conflict.


Land for peace would be replaced by land for nothing. Endorsing in advance a Palestinian state and what would essentially be a full Israeli withdrawal removes the Palestinian incentive to negotiate and strips Israel of territorial bargaining chips of the kind it used, for example, to achieve peace with Egypt. The result would be not just perpetual war but incalculable damage to Israel. And irreversible, too, because the resolution would be protected from alteration by the Russian and/or Chinese veto.


As for the damage, consider but one example: the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, destroyed and ethnically cleansed of Jews by its Arab conquerors in the war of 1948-1949. It was rebuilt by Israel after 1967. It would now be open to the absurd judicial charge that the Jewish state’s possession of the Jewish Quarter constitutes a criminal occupation of another country. Israel would be hauled endlessly into courts (both national and international) to face sanctions, boycotts (now under color of law) and arrest of its leaders. All this for violating a U.N. mandate to which no Israeli government, left or right, could possibly accede.


Before the election, Obama dare not attempt this final legacy item, to go along with the Iran deal and the Castro conciliation, for fear of damaging Clinton. His last opportunity comes after Election Day. The one person who might deter him, points out Hannah, is Clinton herself, by committing Obama to do nothing before he leaves office that would tie her hands should she become president.


Clinton’s supporters who care about Israel and about peace need to urge her to do that now. It will soon be too late. Soon Obama will be free to deliver a devastating parting shot to Israel and to the prime minister he detests.


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic Links


Why Readers See The Times as Liberal: Liz Spayd, New York Times, July 23, 2016—I HAVE been here less than a month, but already I’ve discovered something that surely must be bad for business if your business is running The New York Times.

The Ongoing NYT Propaganda Campaign: Prof. Phyllis Chesler, Arutz Sheva, Sept. 22, 2016—I’m sure that reading the New York Times is shortening my life—and yet I continue to do so. I no longer monitor it as I once did.

The Real Reason Reporters Don’t Give to Pols: It Would Give Away Their Agenda: Jonah Goldberg, New York Post, October 21, 2016 —‘Let me say for the billionth time: Reporters don’t root for a side. Period.” This declarative tweet came from The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza on Oct. 16. The next day, Cillizza posted on Twitter, “Well, this is super depressing. NO idea why any journalist would donate $ to politicians.

Checkmating Obama: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2016—In one of the immortal lines of Godfather 2, mafia boss Michael Corleone discusses the fate of his brother, who betrayed him, with his enforcer. “I don’t want anything to happen to him while my mother is alive,” Corleone said.







Download a pdf version of today's Daily Briefing.




Israel Tries to Sell U.S. on Iran Attack: Haviv Rettig Gur , Times of Israel, May 6, 2013— If American worries about the fallout could be assuaged, if the regime in Teheran could be shown to be militant in rhetoric but either incapable or unwilling to turn such an attack into a full-blown war, then the most significant barrier to an Israeli strike — the lack of American support — would be removed.


Ahmadinejad Shows no Signs of Going Quietly: Geneive Abdo, CNN, May 7th, 2013—As Iran’s election draws near, powerful figures within the ruling establishment seem more worried about the future of the incumbent than they are about the potential for violent protests. resident Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is prevented from running for a third term.


Everything You Wanted to Know About Iran's Air Power : Michael Elleman, Iran Primer, March 11, 2013—Iran has the largest and most diverse inventory of long-range artillery rockets and ballistic missiles in the Middle East. It is estimated to have between 200 and 300 Scud-B and Scud-C missiles, which Iran has renamed the Shahab-1 and Shahab-2. It also owns hundreds of Zelzal rockets and Fateh-110 semi-guided rockets.


On Topic Links


Understanding the Current State of the Iranian Nuclear ChallengeDore Gold, Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, May-June 2013

High Stakes in Iranian Election: Ephraim Dardashti, Gatestone Institute, May 3, 2013

Tehran to Decide Who Can Run for President: Mehdi Khalaji, The Washington Institute, May 7, 2013

Libyan and Korean Examples Guide Iran's Nuclear Plan: Majid Rafizadeh, The National, Apr 19, 2013

Inflation Takes Its Toll on Iran: Bijan Khajehpour, Al-Monitor Iran Pulse, May 8, 2013




Haviv Rettig Gur

Times of Israel, May 6, 2013


On a visit to the Pakistani capital Islamabad in 2006, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, then a Republican senator from Nebraska, warned that “a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.”  Hagel reiterated that view in November 2007 in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank. “The answer to dealing with Iran will not be found in a military operation,” he cautioned. And it isn’t just then-senator Hagel.


“We’ve thought about military options against Iran off and on for the last 20 years,” former top White House counterterrorism official Richard Clarke admitted that same year, “and they’re just not good, because you don’t know what the endgame is. You know what the first move of the game is, but you don’t know what the last move of the game is.”


That was six years ago, but it’s a view that hasn’t changed in much of Washington. American politicians regularly threaten Tehran with severe consequences for its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and habitually announce that “all options are on the table.” But privately, many concede there is little stomach in the US for yet another Middle Eastern war that could sink the country down a rabbit hole of unintended consequences and commitments.


It’s not that American leaders and planners, even the “realists” among them, disagree with Israel about the dangers posed by a nuclear Iran.


As Hagel himself noted in that 2007 speech, during what may have been his most skeptical and realist period, “In the Middle East of the 21st century, Iran will be a key center of gravity… and remain a significant regional power. The United States cannot change that reality….


“[But] to acknowledge that reality in no way confuses Iran’s dangerous, destabilizing and threatening behavior in the region. Our differences with Iran are real. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism and continues to provide material support to Hezbollah and Hamas. The president of Iran publicly threatens Israel’s existence and is attempting to develop the capacity to produce nuclear weapons. Iran has not helped stabilize the current chaos in Iraq and is responsible for weapons and explosives being used against US military forces in Iraq.”


Iran is bad news, American leaders acknowledge. But so is the possible fallout from any military strike.


And they’re right. A military strike against Iran’s nuclear program could elicit a massive retaliation and drag the region into one of the uglier wars it has known in a while. If that happens, the US expects to face hundreds of Iranian rockets smashing into US naval vessels and bases in the Persian Gulf; terror attacks by Iran’s proxies, especially Hezbollah, on US and allied targets around the world; a costly disruption in the global oil supply, both because Iran’s oil would be knocked off the market and because Iran would likely try to target oil production around the Gulf; and massive efforts by Tehran to inflame and destabilize regional allies and governments, from the Gulf states to Iraq to Lebanon and Gaza.


That’s a worst-case scenario, to be sure, but American defence planners state openly that they do not know what Iran’s reaction might be, and a regime so attacked might feel both the need and the political opportunity — domestic opposition would likely evaporate in the face of an attack on the Iranian homeland — to respond forcefully.


Yet even that terrible scenario emphasizes to Israeli leaders — who largely believe that diplomatic efforts can delay but ultimately not replace the need for a military solution — that the roots of American resistance to a strike are not principled or strategic; they’re tactical. If American worries about the fallout could be assuaged, if the regime in Teheran could be shown to be militant in rhetoric but either incapable or unwilling to turn such an attack into a full-blown war, then the most significant barrier to an Israeli strike — the lack of American support — would be removed.


Over the past few years, Israel has planned, trained, and implemented – according to foreign sources, of course – audacious and sophisticated strikes against Iranian assets, from the “Karine A” weapons ship, to armaments convoys in Sudan (at a distance from Israel farther than many potential Iranian targets), to Syria’s nuclear reactor and the latest strikes against Syrian installations and weapons convoys. In Iran itself, Israel is widely credited with infiltrating and repeatedly sabotaging the nuclear program, with centrifuges breaking down, computer viruses disrupting operations on a vast scale, installations suffering damaging explosions, and key nuclear scientists being mysteriously assassinated.


After each alleged Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear program and weapons smuggling, global expert opinion declares in unison that besides the obvious military benefits, the operation carries a “message” for Iran.  But these operations also carry a message for the uneasy West, and especially the United States: Iran is vulnerable to attack, and the consequences are minimal.


After a daring, 1,800-kilometer (1,100 mile) strike in Sudan in 2009, a few Arab states complained — quietly — about Israeli trespassing. After the 2007 strike against the Syrian reactor, the loudest condemnation came from North Korea, inadvertently drawing attention to itself as the source of the expertise and equipment for the Syrian installation.


Israel would be hard-pressed to carry out a strike on a target as distant, well-protected and widely scattered as the Iranian nuclear program without US knowledge and assistance. A successful operation might require not only American willingness to absorb the blowback, but active American help, or at least coordination.


For the Israel Air Force and special ground forces that conducted the long-range operations of recent years, a strike in Syria amounts to a 100-meter sprint. Iran’s nuclear program, 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) away and with several major and dozens of minor potential targets, is a marathon. As with a marathon, success will require special training, special logistical capabilities and an especially high tolerance for pain.


The strikes in Syria won’t be enough to convince the Americans that a viable military option exists for Iran. Iran’s failure to lash out over strikes on Syria or Sudan is not indicative of its response to attacks on its own soil. But as Israel continues to demonstrate it has the military capability, the intelligence and the will to carry out dramatic operations, American confidence in the potential success of such operations may grow, and American willingness to take the heavy risk of war may grow with it.


This weekend’s strikes on Syria, beyond their immediate military benefit and the obvious message to Assad, Hezbollah and Iran, are a message to Washington as well. To quote a different leader who once delivered a rather similar message to a sceptical American ally: “Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”


Top of Page





Geneive Abdo

CNN, May 7th, 2013


As Iran’s election draws near, powerful figures within the ruling establishment seem more worried about the future of the incumbent than they are about the potential for violent protests. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is prevented from running for a third term. But this does not appear to have diminished his ambitions to remain a political force after leaving office, a goal he hopes to achieve by hurting his political opponents and pushing his top aide, Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, as the best candidate in next month’s poll.


Alarmed by both of these prospects, Ahmadinejad’s many influential foes are working to stop him – and they are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts (including, according to the Iran News Network site, the blocking of text messages containing the family name Mashaei – a filter that was reportedly removed once the story broke.)


Ahmadinejad has for his part been positioning Mashaei as a presidential candidate for years. The two are not only like minded in their nationalism and shared disdain for the clerical establishment, but they are also relatives – Ahmadinejad’s son is married to Mashaei’s daughter.


But despite the support of a popular incumbent, Mashaei is no shoo-in to the presidential palace. After all, the Guardian Council, which is under the control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vets candidates and decides who is allowed to run for president, and is not expected to allow anyone from the so-called “deviant faction” of Ahmadinejad supporters to run. Indeed, on April 12, Ayatollah Mohammad Momen – an influential member of the 12-member Guardian Council – reportedly warned: “Don’t have any doubt. If we just sense a little deviation from a [candidate], we will disqualify him.”


Yet despite the Council being seen as unlikely to approve Mashaei’s candidacy, opponents worry that he will somehow still find a way to become a serious contender. And his campaign, although not officially announced, looks in practical terms to be under way already anyway.


This will worry Iran’s leadership – and with good cause. Ahmadinejad has on more than one occasion indicated his willingness to publicize confidential documents that expose his opponents’ past indiscretions. And he is no doubt aware that most presidents under the Islamic Republic have been cast aside and politically marginalized after they have left the presidency, leaving them with no access to the state-controlled media.


Ultimately, Ahmadinejad appears keen not to let the same fate befall him that has his predecessors. Former reformist President Mohammad Khatami and his allies, for example, were deprived of continued national prominence due to Khatami’s calls for political reform and his criticism of the system. When he complained about violence and repression after the protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential election, he was marginalized even further. Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani was for his part ousted from influential assemblies, while Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, former regime members and 2009 presidential election candidates, are still under house arrest.


But Ahmadinejad’s concerns likely extend past his future political influence – he also appears to fear being physically harmed after leaving office. He has already claimed to have been threatened, reportedly noting during a trip to Khuzestan Province last month that: “They have sent a message saying that if I become any bolder, they will try to hurt me. I will fight in the service of justice, revolution, people…”


Helping Mashaei become president might therefore be the only way Ahmadinejad can ensure his own survival – politically or otherwise. Yet it’s hard to gauge the potential success of his all-or-nothing strategy, an approach epitomized in his showdown on the floor of the parliament in February during a confrontation with Ali Larijani, the speaker of the parliament.


During the incident – unprecedented even in Iran’s sometimes rough and tumble politics – Ahmadinejad played a tape of what he claimed was a recording of a conversation between Tehran’s chief prosecutor, Saeed Mortazavi, and Fazel Larijani, the speaker’s brother. According to the tape, the Larijani family had used its prominence for economic gain (a claim disputed by Larijani, who described the tape as blackmail).


More recently, during a trip to Semnan Province last month, Ahmadinejad turned on Supreme Leader Khamenei and the ruling establishment. “Some say that the leader’s opinion dictates that this person should run and that person should not [campaign]. How is this any of your business? The people should decide. All [political] types should run,” Ahmadinejad reportedly announced in apparent reference to Mashaei.


Right now, despite his maneuvering, the odds seem stacked against Ahmadinejad remaining a political force post-election. But whatever his chances, no one seems likely to convince the president to go quietly into the political wilderness.


 Geneive Abdo is a fellow in the Middle East Program at the Stimson Center and a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution and  author of the recent paper The New Sectarianism.





Michael Elleman

Iran Primer, March 11, 2013


Iran has the largest and most diverse inventory of long-range artillery rockets and ballistic missiles in the Middle East. It is estimated to have between 200 and 300 Scud-B and Scud-C missiles, which Iran has renamed the Shahab-1 and Shahab-2. It also owns hundreds of Zelzal rockets and Fateh-110 semi-guided rockets.


These systems allow Iran to threaten targets throughout the Gulf littoral, but they are not accurate enough to be decisive militarily. Iran would need at least 100 missiles armed with 500-kg conventional warheads – and potentially many more – to destroy a specific target with a moderate level of confidence.


If fired in large numbers, Iranian missiles might be able to harass or disrupt operations at large U.S. or GCC military targets, such as airfields, naval ports or fuel depots. But such attacks are unlikely to not halt activities for a significantly long time. Iran is also unlikely to be able to improve the accuracy of its short-range missiles for at least the next five to ten years. The addition of more sophisticated inertial guidance units – or Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers – could improve accuracy by only 25 percent if properly incorporated into a Shahab or Fateh-110 missile, and then thoroughly tested.


To further enhance its accuracy, Iran would have to develop the capacity to terminate missile thrust precisely or add correction systems for the post-boost phase. But adding these mechanisms would also require flight testing likely to take four years or longer.


Iran's longer-range missiles – the Shahab-3 and Ghadr-1 – are capable of striking targets throughout the Middle East, including Israel, as well as portions of south-eastern Europe. But these missiles are highly inaccurate. And Iran's stockpile likely totals less than 100.


This could change once Iran completes development of the solid-fuelled Sajjil-2 missile. Iranian engineers are widely believed to have the capacity to manufacture this system, although they still rely on foreign sources for fuel-production ingredients. Development may have stalled, however, since Iran has conducted only one flight test since 2009.


The utility of Iran's ballistic missiles is likely to remain weak for years, yet they could be used effectively as a psychological weapon on population centers. The most vulnerable cities are Baghdad, Kuwait City and Dubai, since they are within range of the Zelzal rockets that Iran has in large quantity. Abu Dhabi, Manama, Doha and Saudi coastal cities are far enough to require the longer-range Shahab-1 and -2 missiles, which are in shorter supply.


What are Iran's air force capabilities? And how do they compare to the U.S. air forces in the Gulf? The Islamic Republic's air forces and ground-based air defence systems offer limited protection of Iranian air space. They are no match for the combined capacity of the United States and its six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies. In a prolonged and intensive conflict involving the United States, Iran would have difficulty protecting its strategic assets, including its nuclear facilities, air bases, and command-and-control centers.


An integrated U.S. air defence network would probably prevent Iranian pilots from reaching many military targets within GCC territory, although limited air raids might have some success in the opening days of a conflict. (The GCC includes six sheikhdoms – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman – that make up most of the Arabian Peninsula.)


Most of Iran's aircraft were purchased before the 1979 Islamic Revolution and are widely considered obsolete. Even Iran's Russian-made MiG-29 and Su-24 fighter-jets, acquired more recently, lack the modern avionics and air-to-air missiles needed to compete with the U.S. and GCC air forces.


In January, Iran unveiled a new stealth fighter-jet. But the presented craft is clearly a model, or mock-up. It is quite small as well, judging from the size of the pilot seated at the controls. The Qaher F-313 appears to be an aspirational system, which is many years from reality. But it does indicate Iran's ambitions.


Iran also lacks sophisticated airborne command-and-warning assets, as well as the secure communications network needed to relay vital threat and targeting information. These deficiencies place Iranian pilots at a severe disadvantage when engaging hostile air forces armed with a complete picture of the airspace.


Perhaps Iran's most significant shortcoming is its limited capacity to maintain airplanes and generate anything beyond one sortie per day for each fighter jet. Iran has a very limited ability to surge its air forces. It would probably be quickly overwhelmed by a combined attack by U.S. and GCC forces.


Despite these and other shortcomings, Iran's air forces and air defenses can still inflict loses on allied air forces, albeit at a minimal rate. Tehran also claims to have mated C-701 and C-801 anti-ship cruise missiles to its F-4 aircraft. If true, these stand-off weapons would allow Iran to attack U.S. warships and commercial vessels in the Gulf with some success. If Iran modified anti-ship missiles for land attacks, it could target key infrastructure assets located along the Gulf littoral, although the small warheads carried by these missiles would limit the damage.


What are the defence options against Iran's missiles? Theatre missile defences flooding into the region could blunt the political and psychological effect of Iran's offensive-missile threat. The United States already deploys Patriot, SM-3 and other missile interceptors in the region. Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have older-generation Patriot batteries. Both countries are in the process of upgrading their defenses with more capable systems. The United Arab Emirates leads in acquisition of missile and air defense; it is currently procuring a sophisticated suite of systems, including advanced Patriot and THAAD batteries.


No defensive system is leak-proof. But the anti-missile capabilities acquired by the United States and its GCC allies have proven their efficacy during development and testing. They should help minimize public fear. Iran might try to overwhelm these defences by firing missiles in large salvos, as it does during annual military exercises. This tactic might allow a few warheads to reach their destinations, but interceptor missiles would probably protect the most critical targets. An integrated missile defence architecture, if implemented across the GCC in a coherent way, would further reduce vulnerability to salvo tactics.


Iran is developing a wide-range of unmanned aerial vehicles. Most of the systems seen so far are slow, have limited manoeuvrability, and carry small payloads, so are used primarily as reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering platforms.


One notable exception is the Karrar, also known as the "ambassador of death." The Karrar is based on target-drone technology, which was originally used for training air-defence crews. Nonetheless, it carries 500-kg gravity bombs and presents yet another means of delivery that American and GCC forces must track and, if necessary, defeat.


The larger concern, however, is Iran's large arsenal of anti-ship cruise missiles acquired from China. These weapons pose a significant threat to Gulf shipping as well as navies operating near the Strait of Hormuz. Iranian use of anti-ship missiles would significantly escalate any conflict, so Tehran would probably use them only if the regime felt threatened. But their mere existence – and the threat they pose – offers Tehran an effective component for deterring attack by others.

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Understanding the Current State of the Iranian Nuclear Challenge: Dore Gold, Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, May-June 2013—Over the last decade, a clear international consensus has slowly emerged that Iran was not just pursuing a civilian nuclear program, as Tehran argued, but rather was seeking nuclear weapons. True, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty guarantees the right of signatories, like Iran, to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but that did not include a right to enrich uranium in order to produce indigenous nuclear fuels that could be employed for nuclear weapons.


High Stakes in Iranian Election: Ephraim Dardashti, Gatestone Institute, May 3, 2013—In Iran almost nothing is what it seems to be. Iranian culture is formal; it places a premium on politeness and manners. By violating both principles, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been mesmerizing Iranians, to the delight of the masses and the embarrassment of the few.


Tehran to Decide Who Can Run for President: Mehdi Khalaji, The Washington Institute, May 7, 2013—On May 12, Iran's Guardian Council will begin deliberations on which candidates can participate in the June presidential election, perhaps the most important step in selecting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's successor.


Libyan And Korean Examples Guide Iran's Nuclear Plan: Majid Rafizadeh, The National, Apr 19, 2013—Two years of tumult, revolt and change in the Arab world have emboldened Iranian leaders, intensifying their determination to gain access to nuclear capabilities. This explains why Iran has resisted sanctions, failed to take recent western-led talks seriously and even threatened to pull out of the 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, known as NPT.


Inflation Takes Its Toll on Iran: Bijan Khajehpour, Al-Monitor Iran Pulse, May 8, 2013—It is not easy to get a reliable figure for inflation in Iran. Two official sources are tasked with this issue and they have continuously produced confusing statistics. Based on the latest statistics of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), the annual inflation for the period ending on March 20, 2013, was 32.3%, whereas the Statistical Center of Iran (SCI) puts the figure at 28.8%.


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