Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
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Tag: Obama, Barack

OBAMA’S “LEADING FROM BEHIND” LEAVES MIDDLE EAST IN FLAMES & WORLD FAR MORE DANGEROUS

 

Eight Years of Obama’s Foreign Policy Disasters Recapped in Only Two Horrific Weeks: Editorial, National Post, Dec. 30, 2016— It is sad to see the foreign policy of the United States being carried out in such gasping, feeble whimpers.

Out with the Old, In With the New: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Jan. 16, 2017— One cannot help but admire the American public, which eight years ago elected Barack Obama as the country's first African-American president.

A Disaster He's Proud Of: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Jan. 16, 2017— The Obama chapter in American foreign policy ends like the climax of an action movie—with a fireball growing in the distance and filling the screen as a man in silhouette approaches in slow motion and then veers off camera.

The Ancient Foreign Policy: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Dec. 20, 2016 — For the last eight years, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Susan Rice have sought to rewrite the traditional approach to foreign policy.

 

On Topic Links

 

In Final Remarks, Obama Says Chance for Two-State Solution Passing By: Eric Cortellessa, Times of Israel, Jan. 18, 2017

The American Epoch is Over. It Ended on Obama’s Watch: Terry Glavin, National Post, Jan. 18, 2017

Barack to the Future: Christopher Caldwell, Weekly Standard, Jan. 9, 2017

Obama’s Legacy is Crumbling Before Our Eyes: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe & Mail, Jan. 7, 2017

              

 

 

EIGHT YEARS OF OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY

DISASTERS RECAPPED IN ONLY TWO HORRIFIC WEEKS

Editorial

National Post, Dec. 30, 2016

 

It is sad to see the foreign policy of the United States being carried out in such gasping, feeble whimpers. But it is no longer surprising. The last two weeks have been a microcosm of the failures of the last eight years. They will not soon be forgotten, or the damage quickly undone. First and foremost, of course, was the appalling decision of the United States — of President Barack Obama, let’s be clear — to not use America’s UN Security Council veto to strike down a heavy handed resolution levelled at Israel; more specifically, settlements it has established (and may expand) in portions of the disputed West Bank.

 

The settlements are undeniably controversial, nowhere more than in Israel itself. One can support Israel while questioning Israeli government’s settlement policies. But this resolution did more than just question the settlements. It called into question Israel’s right to control, after a future final peace agreement, even those sections of disputed territory that are by demography and history indisputably Jewish, including some of Judaism’s holiest sites. The resolution also attempted to do what generations of U.S. leaders have resisted doing — force an essentially bi-lateral process between Israel and the Palestinians into international fora that offer no solutions. Obama’s decision to permit the resolution to stand is an enormous black mark on the already shredded tatters of his foreign policy legacy.

 

It was also, incredibly, just the beginning of the Obama White House’s decision to unleash a parting salvo at a steadfast American ally. Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry also unloaded on Israel, slamming the settlements, defending Obama’s lacklustre record of support for Israel, and asserting that friends must be honest with each other. Of course. But friends also need to carefully consider how and where such messages are delivered. Apparently in an attempt to show America’s continued goodwill toward Israel, despite his rhetorical assault, Sec. Kerry also announced that the White House was prepared to back a push for peace.

 

Really, Mr. Secretary? Is this a joke? Nothing says “committed to peace” like stabbing a friend in the back, while simultaneously proposing to launch a massive international process to address a generations-long impasse … with all of three weeks left in your term. This hardly rises to the level of token. But that is par for the course with the Obama administration. Russia threatening NATO’s eastern flank? Send a battalion and some tanks, while imposing a few sanctions. China gobbling up and militarizing territory in the Pacific without legal cause and despite pledges not to? Sail the odd warship past a newly built island fortress for a look-see. Syria devolving into a hellhole of civil war and sectarian slaughter? Send some equipment — nothing too lethal, of course, because that might be controversial — and try to train a few fighters (but don’t break a sweat).

 

And, obviously, when the Assad regime nerve gasses its own people in direct defiance of your own declared “red line,” well, just pretend you never said that and walk away, whistling a merry tune. The less said about the nuclear deal with Iran, which freed up billions in frozen Iranian assets and lifted sanctions in exchange for Tehran’s unverifiable promise to briefly not build nuclear weapons, the better.

 

We could go on but the point is made. From Israel, to Syria, to Russia, to Iraq and through to the Pacific, America’s allies and partners have been forced to re-evaluate how useful an ally the United States really is, while its enemies and opponents discover just how far America can be pushed. Even when America’s interests have been directly and clearly challenged, for example, by Russia’s recent cyber adventurism, the best the White House can muster is an appeal to “knock it off” and a belated, half-hearted round of sanctions and diplomatic expulsions that could be described, if one were in a generous mood, as mostly symbolic.

 

America remains a great country — the only country truly capable of leading the free world. But for the last eight years, its commander-in-chief has not had any interest in that job, preferring to “lead from behind” when he led at all, and more keen on pursuing futile resets with rival powers than working with allies in pursuit of common Western interests. The state of the world today is proof of the failure of those policies — and leaves Mr. Obama’s successor in a very deep hole he may not be equipped to easily escape.         

 

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OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW                                                          

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror                                          

BESA, Jan. 16, 2017

                       

One cannot help but admire the American public, which eight years ago elected Barack Obama as the country's first African-American president. The genuine elation and joy in the streets of New York City, where I was when he was sworn in, reflected the change American society had undergone.

 

Obama assumed office with a very solid worldview. He believed many of the challenges the US was facing globally stemmed from its forceful conduct and ability to impose its will on other nations. In his view, many of Washington's international failures stemmed from the fact that it had not tried to improve ties with its adversaries. This drove Obama to visit the Middle East – not including Israel – in 2009 and deliver his famous Cairo speech. He believed that addressing the people from the heart would be reciprocated. This was also the logic that drove his attempt to promote a new rapport with Russia.

 

Eight years later, it is hard to say the world has repaid Obama in kind. The world is not a better, more democratic place; nor does it favor the US in any way. This is especially true in the Middle East, but the sentiment is shared elsewhere as well. Moreover, the US rollback on its role in different regions has made its allies wary of their aggressive neighbors. This is so much the case that in some countries, there has been talk of replacing the dwindling American nuclear umbrella – by which the US, as a nuclear power, guarantees the protection of its non-nuclear allies – with independent atomic abilities. Should this become reality, it would spell a horrific nuclear race.

 

Obama is leaving behind a world far more dangerous than the one with which he was entrusted as leader of the most powerful country on earth – a title he managed to seriously compromise. As far as Israel-US relations go, the eight-year Obama administration has been complex. On the one hand, Israel had a sympathetic ear in Washington with regard to its security needs. The landmark $38 billion defense aid package signed with the US, and the fact that Israel, of all nations, was the first to receive the state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jet, speaks to the American commitment to the Jewish state's security for decades to come.

 

The relationship between the Israeli and American intelligence agencies continues to be excellent, a state of affairs that would not be possible without direction from the White House. Israel has also received vital US backing in the international arena more than once. Still, Washington and Jerusalem were at odds under Obama on four important issues. The first was nuclear nonproliferation. In 2010, the administration failed to keep its promise to Israel and gave in to Arab demands for supervision of Israel's alleged nuclear capabilities. This was done as part of the American effort to maintain consensus at that year's nuclear nonproliferation conference in Vienna.

 

The Americans may not have explicitly admitted that they broke a promise to Israel in this regard, but they understood that it was perceived that way by Israel and the world. Judging from the limited foreign reports on the issue, Israel's complaints were justified. The US ultimately took action to help Israel overcome the difficulties incurred as a result of that mistake, but that blatant breach of promise made a dent on the collective Israeli consciousness, even if its overall effect has dimmed.

 

The second issue is the settlement enterprise. The outgoing administration turned settlement construction in Judea and Samaria into the key issue with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It was nothing short of an obsession, and the issue by which any progress would rise or fall. Washington refrained from pressuring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in any way, even when he failed to agree to the 2014 US framework to reignite the talks. The US deemed Abbas too politically weak to be pressured, while any Israeli construction, in either Judea and Samaria or Jerusalem, was denounced as an obstacle to peace. The administration thereby lost an opportunity of possibly historic proportions to advance the peace talks, while the Israeli government – and a Likud government at that – was more willing than ever to promote it.

 

The dissonance in the administration's responses was so jarring that it eroded the effectiveness of US condemnation, as the majority of the Israeli public, and some around the world, began to perceive it as one-sided, unjust and unwise. Moreover, the way in which the Obama administration handled the issue of settlements made Abbas climb up a very tall tree. It will be hard for him to climb down from such a height toward future negotiations. UN Security Council Resolution 2334 denouncing the settlement enterprise, passed in the last month of Obama's presidency, has only made things worse, and is likely to stall negotiations even further. The outgoing president appears to have decided to hinder his successor as much as possible, even at the expense of an interest he allegedly wants to promote…

 

The third issue of discord between Jerusalem and Washington was the Iranian nuclear program. Some would say this disagreement culminated in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress in March 2015, perceived as an affront to Obama on his own turf. Truth be told, the crisis was of the administration's making. Contrary to how things are generally handled between allies, the White House made a conscious choice to deceive Israel and conceal the fact that it was holding intensive nuclear negotiations with Iran – an issue that has direct bearing on Israel's very existence. This move was especially jarring as it involved a dramatic shift in US policy, which resulted in a very bad deal. Even those who believe the deal is solid have a hard time justifying the winding road walked by the US administration to reach it – even more so when some top officials within the administration itself thought it was wrong to hide the talks from Israel…

 

The fourth issue at odds is the chaos in the Middle East. This was particularly evident after the 2011 ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, when the Obama administration favored the Muslim Brotherhood's Muhammad Morsi as the representative of authentic sentiments among the Egyptian people over the military's countercoup. Israel preferred Egypt not be ruled by the radical ideology propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood, even if the alternative was Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, who maintains an iron grip on Egypt as president. In this case, the lack of consensus between Washington and Jerusalem over the dangers of political Islam was at the heart of their dispute. The American approach is ideological, in that it refuses to recognize that radical Islam is an authentic side of Islam. The very phrase "Islamic terrorism" was stricken from the politically correct vocabulary employed by Washington during the Obama years…

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

                                   

 

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A DISASTER HE'S PROUD OF

Lee Smith

Weekly Standard, Jan. 16, 2017

 

The Obama chapter in American foreign policy ends like the climax of an action movie—with a fireball growing in the distance and filling the screen as a man in silhouette approaches in slow motion and then veers off camera. Barack Obama has set the Middle East on fire, and now it's spreading. The Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran has emboldened the world's leading state sponsor of terror, which now makes war openly in four Arab states (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen) and is a growing threat to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The deal with Tehran that Obama boasts of as his signature foreign policy initiative guarantees, as the president himself acknowledged, that Iran will have an industrial-scale nuclear weapons program within 15 years.

 

After a 40-year absence from the Middle East, Russia has returned to the region, where it bombs Syria's schools and hospitals as America and Europe watch helplessly. Washington's traditional regional allies are scrambling to adjust to the new reality, which for the likes of Israel, Jordan, and Turkey means an opportunistic power on their borders that is allied with their existential enemies.

 

For Europe, the millions seeking refuge from the conflagration are agents of potential instability on the continent in the years to come; some in their midst are terrorists plain and simple. In just four years, or one presidential term, a civil uprising that started in Syria became a great Middle Eastern war over a host of sectarian, religious, and political hostilities dating back centuries. Critics and even admirers of the president say that Syria will be a stain on his record. But that's not how Obama sees it. The death and suffering of so many undoubtedly pains him, as he says. He says he wonders if he could have done anything else. Of course he could have, but he believed he had better reasons not to.

 

There is probably no other president in the post-World War II period who would not have committed significant resources to toppling Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Indeed, by 2013, all of Obama's national security cabinet advised him to support the rebels. They believed that the United States had, first, a stake in helping to end a humanitarian catastrophe and, no less important, a vital interest in preserving a 70-year-old order that the conflict threatened to undo.

 

America's Cold War strategy was relatively simple in outline: We would preserve stability on the European continent, contain Moscow, and protect the resource-rich Persian Gulf, which ensured the free flow of trade on which American prosperity depended. Obama disregarded those principles. Assad's war sent millions to a quickly overwhelmed Europe. Putin's gambit in Syria eliminated Israel's air superiority in the eastern Mediterranean and positioned Russia on NATO's southern border. Iran's harassment of the U.S. Navy in the Gulf signaled to the oil-producing Arab states that since the nuclear deal was more important to Obama than American prestige and the safety of American servicemen and women, they were on their own.

 

By normal bipartisan American standards, Obama's foreign policy record is disastrous. But that's not how he sees it. For Obama and his closest aides, the last seven years represent a revolution, a transformative period in American foreign policy engineered by a transformative figure.

 

Obama's foreign policy issued in part from his understanding of global realities but more from his interpretation of the American character. He believed that Americans tend to make a mess of things around the world. Obama is like a narrator in a Graham Greene novel; in our relations with the rest of humanity, as he sees it, we are 300 million naïfs abroad, whose intentions may be good but who lack the tragic sense that the rest of the world feels in its bones. Americans, until Obama came along, had been in the grip of a triumphalist fantasy—American exceptionalism—thinking there was nothing wrong with the world that couldn't be fixed by pointing our guns at it. A shoot-first America was especially dangerous in the conflict-prone Middle East, where everything looks like a nail to a nation that thinks it's a hammer. For Obama, it was vitally important to get the country he was elected to lead off of what he called a "perpetual war footing."…

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

 

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THE ANCIENT FOREIGN POLICY

Victor Davis Hanson

National Review, Dec. 20, 2016

 

For the last eight years, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Susan Rice have sought to rewrite the traditional approach to foreign policy. In various ways, they have warned us about the dangers that a reactionary Trump presidency would pose, on the assumption that their new world order now operates more along the lines of an Ivy League conference than according to the machinations and self-interests of the dog-eat-dog Manhattan real-estate cosmos.

 

It would be nice if the international order had safe spaces, prohibitions against micro-aggressions, and trigger warnings that warn of hurtful speech, but is the world really one big Harvard or Stanford that runs on loud assertions of sensitivity, guilt, apologies, or even the cynical progressive pieties found in WikiLeaks?

 

The tempo abroad in the last eight years would suggest that the answer is no: half a million dead in Syria, over a million young Muslim men flooding into Europe, an Iraq in ruins (though Biden once bragged it would be the Obama administration’s “greatest achievement”), the Benghazi catastrophe, North Africa a wasteland and terrorist incubator, Israel and the Gulf states estranged from America, Iran empowered and soon to be nuclear, Russia hell-bent on humiliating the U.S., China quietly forming its own updated Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, an impoverished Cuba and much of Latin America gnawing the limp wrist of U.S. outreach, and the European Union gradually imploding.

 

Obama’s lead-from-behind foreign policy has becoming something like the seduction of an old house. Its wiring, plumbing, and foundation are shot, but the majestic structure, when given a thin coat of new paint by the seller, proudly goes on the market as “restored” — at least until the new buyer discovers that the Potemkin façade is about to collapse from lax maintenance and deliberate indifference. In other words, Obama’s periodic declamations, Nobel Prize, and adulation from a toady press are all veneers of shiny paint; the Middle East, Russia, China, Iran, and ISIS terrorism are the insidious frayed wiring, corroded pipes, and termites that are about to take down the entire structure from the inside out. Note that the unrepentant seller is always loudly petulant that the new owner, as he makes endless vital repairs, did not appreciate the paint job he inherited.

 

It was not always so. Ancient American foreign policy that got us from the ruin of World War II to the most prosperous age in the history of civilization was once guided by an appreciation of human nature’s constancy across time and space. Diplomacy hinged on seeing foreign leaders as roughly predictable — guided as much by Thucydidean emotions such as honor, fear, and perceived self-interest as by cold reason. In other words, sometimes nations did things that seemed to be stupid; in retrospect their actions looked irrational, but at the time, they served the needs of national honor or assuaged fears. Vladimir Putin, for example, in his effort to restore Russian power and regional hegemony, is guided by his desire to recapture the glories of the Soviet Union, not just its Stalinist authoritarianism or geographical expanse. He also seeks to restore the respect that long ago greeted Russian diplomats, generals, and leaders when sent abroad as proud emissaries of a world-class power.

 

In that context, talking down to a Putin serves no purpose other than to humiliate a proud leader whose guiding principle is that he will never allow himself to be publicly shamed. But Obama did exactly that when he scolded Putin to “cut it out” with the cyber attacks (as if, presto, Putin would follow his orders), and when he suggested that Putin’s tough-guy antics were sort of a macho shtick intended only to please Russians, and when he mocked a sullen Putin as a veritable class cut-up at photo-ops (as if the magisterial Obama had to discipline an unruly adolescent). Worse still, when such gratuitous humiliations are not backed by the presence of overwhelming power, deft statecraft, and national will, opportunists such as Putin are only emboldened to become irritants to the U.S. and its former so-called global order. We should not discount the idea that leaders become hostile as much out of spite as out of conflicting national interests.

 

Throughout history, it has not gone well for powerful leaders when they have been perceived as being both loudly sanctimonious and weak (read Demosthenes on Athenian reactions to Philip II), as if the nation’s strength enervates the leader rather than empowers his diplomacy. Worse still is when a leader aims to loudly project strength through rhetoric while quietly fearing to do so through ships and soldiers. Think again of Neville Chamberlain at Munich, who gave Hitler everything — including lectures on proper international behavior. Anthony Eden remarked at the time that British statesmen thought Hitler and Mussolini were like typical British elites with whom they could do business; the British diplomats mistakenly believed they could appeal to the dictators’ reason and common interests, and thus they were bound to be sorely disappointed. A man does not reach the pinnacle of Russian power only to nod agreeably when ordered to “cut it out.” And a thug such as Bashar al-Assad does not give up his lucrative family crime syndicate for the gallows because Obama flippantly announces to the world that “Assad must go.” The worst thing about Obama’s red-line threat to Syria was not just that Obama ignored it when it was crossed, but that he then denied he’d ever issued the threat in the first place…

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

 

Contents        

   

On Topic Links

 

In Final Remarks, Obama Says Chance for Two-State Solution Passing By: Eric Cortellessa, Times of Israel, Jan. 18, 2017— In his final press conference as president, Barack Obama issued a stern warning to Israelis and Palestinians alike that the chances for a two-state solution could soon fade if serious changes are not made by both parties.

The American Epoch is Over. It Ended on Obama’s Watch: Terry Glavin, National Post, Jan. 18, 2017—“Yes, we can,” they chanted in unison. To hear Barack Obama speak, or just to catch a glimpse of him, roughly 200,000 people had turned out that day, July 24, 2008, filling the broad, tree-lined avenue of Strasse des 17 Juni in Berlin’s glorious Tiergarten Park. It was an audience three times the size of any crowd Obama had drawn back in the United States. The election was still months away.

Barack to the Future: Christopher Caldwell, Weekly Standard, Jan. 9, 2017—They are keening in the Bay Area. "Oh, America, what have we done?" wrote a San Bruno reader to the San Francisco Chronicle the week after November's election. "Many of us feel for President Obama, especially as we watch him gracefully support Donald Trump's transition, knowing Trump's priorities include destroying Obama's legacy."

Obama’s Legacy is Crumbling Before Our Eyes: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe & Mail, Jan. 7, 2017—If words and erudition were the hallmarks of policy accomplishment, U.S. President Barack Obama would stand tall, but his legacy is crumbling even before he leaves the White House. As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria observed, Mr. Obama is “an intensely charismatic politician, but he was not able to build a political base underneath him.” His considerable skills at oratory seldom transcended into an ability to deliver results or a coherent plan of action.

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHILE OBAMA FOOLED LIBERAL JEWS, TRUMP RODE POPULIST WAVE THAT BEGAN IN EUROPE

 

 

How Barack Obama Fooled the Jews and Betrayed them Once He Had Their Money: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Dec. 29. 2016— “(President Obama) called me into the Oval Office before the election and he said to me, ‘Alan, I want your support. And I have to tell you, I will always have Israel’s back.’

The 'Trump Effect': Dominic Green, Weekly Standard, Dec. 26, 2016 — A historian can be wise after the fact, but a political analyst must be wise before it.

Giorgio Perlasca: The ‘Italian Wallenberg’: Menucha Chana Levin, Jewish Press, Jan. 2, 2017— While not as famous as some other Holocaust heroes, Giorgio Perlasca saved more Jews than the 1,200 saved by the famous Oskar Schindler.

Marion Pritchard, Who Risked Her Life to Rescue Jews From Nazis, Dies at 96: Richard Sandomir, New York Times, Dec. 23, 2016— Marion Pritchard, a gentile whose shock at watching Nazi soldiers storm a home for Jewish children in Amsterdam and load them into a truck for deportation inspired her to enter a clandestine world of rescuing Jews, died on Dec. 11 at her home in Washington. She was 96.

 

On Topic Links

 

Israel and the Trump Administration: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 5, 2016

Saving Europe From Itself—Again: Mark Helprin, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 14, 2016

Meet Henry Orenstein, the Man Who Changed How the World Plays: Abigail Jones, Newsweek, Dec. 21, 2016

How Celine Dion Helped Save Montreal’s Most Iconic Jewish Deli: Gabe Friedman, JTA, Dec. 29, 2016

              

                               

 

HOW BARACK OBAMA FOOLED THE JEWS

AND BETRAYED THEM ONCE HE HAD THEIR MONEY                                               

Lawrence Solomon

National Post, Dec. 29. 2016

 

“(President Obama) called me into the Oval Office before the election and he said to me, ‘Alan, I want your support. And I have to tell you, I will always have Israel’s back.’ I didn’t realize that what he meant was that he’d have (Israel’s) back to stab them in the back.”

 

So spoke this week a livid Alan Dershowitz, the famed Harvard professor, legal scholar and criminal lawyer whose judgment American Jews have long trusted and respected. Dershowitz now realizes that Obama had repeatedly duped him, and that through his endorsements of Obama, Dershowitz in turn duped many American Jews, helping to secure Obama’s election and re-election. Now Israel has been compromised as never before, with the United Nations through Obama’s manoeuvrings having declared that Jews have no right to live in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, which they have inhabited for the greater part of 3,000 years, and that Israel has no rights to its holiest sites, including the Western Wall and the Temple Mount.

 

Winning Jewish support wasn’t especially important to Obama and other Democrats in terms of votes — Jews represent just two per cent of the U.S. electorate, generally making their numbers inconsequential at the ballot box. But Jews are hugely important — even decisive — in their political giving. The Jewish two per cent — which is overwhelmingly liberal — accounts for about two-thirds of all donations received by the Democratic Party. Put another way, the Jewish two per cent donates twice as much to Democrats as the non-Jewish 98 per cent.

 

The importance of Jewish money to Democratic fortunes explains why Obama waited to make his moves against Israel until after his two presidential campaigns and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, whom he hoped would preserve his legacy. If Jews understood his real intentions toward Israel, Obama knew, many would withdraw their financial support.

 

Obama’s prudent course — his only viable course — in realizing his desire to strip Israel of its paramount possessions, embodiments of its heritage, was to keep his intentions secret, all the while upping his rhetoric that “no president has ever done more for Israel.” Obama also needed to maintain this public pretence to keep his fellow Democrats in the dark, most of whom would blanche at the thought of offending, and losing, their Jewish backers. The American public’s general sympathy for Israel, and general antipathy toward Palestinians, also made any prior anti-Israel coming out a non-starter.

 

Persuading Dershowitz — an important step to winning over the Jewish community — could not have been an easy feat. Shortly after Dershowitz’s first endorsement of Obama, in the 2008 presidential election, Dershowitz became alarmed at Obama’s apparent willingness to let Iran develop nuclear weapons, coming to believe that Obama’s policies were dangerous for Israel and that Obama could be “remembered in history as the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st century, the person who didn‘t see the greatest evil, didn’t recognize the greatest evil of the 20th century.” Yet despite these concerns, coupled with pique that Obama had ties to anti-Semites and a staff that was hostile to Israel, Obama somehow managed to persuade Dershowitz that he would never, ever let Israel down. Dershowitz endorsed Obama for a second time and even campaigned for him against Mitt Romney, a true friend of Israel.

 

After Obama’s reelection, Dershowitz again had buyer’s remorse, becoming ever more forceful in his criticisms of Obama, calling him a bully and an inept negotiator, to the point that when they met Obama “won’t look me in the eye.” Yet Dershowitz continued to have faith in Obama’s good intentions. Unlike America’s conservative Jews, most of whom saw Obama’s animus toward Israel early on — Obama combined a courtship of the Muslim states with deliberate slights of Israel and its prime minister — Dershowitz remained under Obama’s spell, seeing him as merely misguided, and persuadable.

 

The Dershowitz delusion persisted with Obama’s successor, Hillary Clinton, whom Dershowitz backed despite her own close and questionable associations, including Huma Abedin, an aide and travelling companion who had worked for a radical Muslim publication, and Sid Blumenthal, who fed Hillary with the bigoted material of his son, Max Blumenthal, “a despicable anti-Semite and a horrible person,” in Dershowitz’s estimation.

 

With this week’s passage of the anti-Israel UN resolution, the Dershowitz infatuation with Obama is over. The famed criminal lawyer finally sees the evidence that had been in plain sight all along, and now understands the extent of Obama’s deception. It was “so nasty. He pulled a bait-and-switch,” Dershowitz laments, in explaining how Obama in private pretended that it was “the settlements deep in the West Bank” that were negotiable, not the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, so core to Judaism and to Israel’s heritage. Dershowitz, and with him the great majority of America’s Jews, took the bait. The rest is history.    

                                                           

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THE 'TRUMP EFFECT'

Dominic Green                                                                                                    

Weekly Standard, Dec. 26, 2016

 

A historian can be wise after the fact, but a political analyst must be wise before it. Most commentators failed to detect the signs of Donald Trump’s presidential victory, despite their received wisdom and psephological sensitivity. (The exception seems to have been those relying on that most sensitive of all predictors, the gut.) Since the election, some of the commentariat, straining to get ahead of the next inconvenient fact, have settled upon a new narrative. A concept sufficient to explain all unforeseen, objectionable, and confusing phenomena; an insurance policy so extensive as to forestall any accident of reality: the Trump Effect.

 

The Trump Effect, the wise now agree, is a kind of sickness in the democratic system. The early symptoms—nativist grumblings, nocturnal tweeting, and disinhibited behavior around women and immigrants—may lead to a crisis, especially in cases where the major parties have left their voters to fend for themselves in a globalized economy. This crisis may continue for as long as four years. Public life may be impaired and civility permanently weakened. Grandiosity and an increase in risk-taking behavior may lead to a rise in the racial temperature and the loss of old friendships. It is not yet clear if the Trump Effect can be remedied by treatment with tariffs, subsidies, and border defenses involving moats and alligators—or if these are actually signs of its terminal phase. It may in fact be incurable, like senility and other symptoms of decay.

 

Worse, the Trump Effect can jump like a virus from one sick constitution to another. Named for its first appearance in the United States in early November 2016, within weeks the Trump Effect claimed its first European victim. The Italian prime minister was overthrown in a referendum on constitutional reform. In their presidential election, 46 percent of Austrians showed symptoms, voting for Norbert Hofer and the anti-immigrant Freedom party. A full-scale epidemic is expected in 2017, with significant outbreaks of populism in France, Italy, Germany, Holland, and Britain. Further complications may induce the amputation of the southern tier of the European Union.

 

This is the newly received wisdom of the Trump Effect. Except there is no Trump Effect. Pundits have correctly diagnosed one thing: the symptoms of America's domestic problems and the possible effects of a Trump presidency on America's global position. But their assumption that Trump's victory makes electoral revolts in Europe more likely is erroneous. Europe's insurrections may arise for similar reasons, and may even take similar form, but correlation, as the analysts hate to admit, is not causality. Europeans and Americans may face similar challenges in a globalized economy, but they are heirs to different histories.

 

The Trump Effect is in reality a misleading narrative that reverses the current of recent events. Internationally, the Trump Effect is a domino theory of democratic reaction, in which Trump, to use the key term, "emboldens" Europeans to vote for the alt-right flat-earthers for whom they would not otherwise have voted. Yet the sorry truth is that Europeans are already uninhibited when it comes to voting for bigots and xenophobes. Further, the extremity of Europe's "New Right" parties is not uniform, and some of Europe's antiestablishment parties are not of the right at all. As for the alleged domino effect, if any dominoes are falling, they are falling towards the United States, not from it.

 

If we were to name a political condition after a deliberately controversial populist with a blond bouffant and a fondness for anti-immigrant statements, a more accurate name would be the Wilders Effect. Its symptoms appeared in Holland several years before the crash of 2008 and the subsequent rush of blood to the extremities that produced the Tea Party, the Occupy Movement, and the Trump candidacy.

 

In 2004, when Donald Trump was beginning his career in the entertainment business with the first season of The Apprentice, the bleached and bequiffed Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders was expelled from Holland's center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy. As party spokesman, Wilders had repeatedly embarrassed his colleagues with hostile statements about Islam and immigration. The last straw was his refusal to agree that the European Union should start negotiating Turkey's long-promised entry into the club.

 

Following his expulsion, Wilders launched the Party for Freedom. He combined a Thatcherite economic agenda with strongly nationalistic positions on Islam, immigration, and identity. Almost immediately, he required police protection because of regular death threats from Islamists. As Trump was to do a decade later, Wilders cultivated popular support by mocking professional politicians, the media, and political correctness. A born entertainer, he exploited the media's amoral appetite for drama by discussing delicate subjects in crude language. His rivals made the mistake of responding in equally melodramatic fashion and his enemies the mistake of trying to censor him…

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

                                                           

                                                                       

Contents

 

GIORGIO PERLASCA: THE ‘ITALIAN WALLENBERG’

Menucha Chana Levin

Jewish Press, Jan. 2, 2017

 

While not as famous as some other Holocaust heroes, Giorgio Perlasca saved more Jews than the 1,200 saved by the famous Oskar Schindler. Like Raoul Wallenberg, Perlasca boldly rescued Hungarian Jews from under the noses of the Nazis. Yet, while Schindler and Wallenberg are well-known names from this terrible era, heroic Giorgio Perlasca still remains virtually unheard of.

 

Born in 1910 in the small northern Italian town of Como and raised in nearby Padua, Perlasca was born into a family of civil servants and army officers. Initially attracted to Italian fascism, he volunteered for the army when Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. Later he joined the Corps of Volunteer Troops, an Italian force assisting the rebel forces of Francisco Franco in the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939. In gratitude for his service, Perlasca received a letter of thanks from Franco’s victorious new government. The letter instructed the Spanish foreign service to come to his aid if he should ever need diplomatic assistance. At the time Perlasca had no idea how important this letter would turn out to be.

 

Upon his return home to Italy, he found Mussolini had aligned with Hitler’s Third Reich and introduced its racial laws in 1938. Perlasca, who had many Jewish friends from Padua and from his army service, was strongly opposed to anti-Semitism. At one time he explained, “I was neither fascist, nor anti-fascist; I was anti-Nazi.” From then on, he reserved his loyalty for the Italian king, Victor Emmanuel III.

 

In the early days of World War II, Perlasca avoided the draft by working as an import-export agent for the Italian army. He traveled to Zagreb, Belgrade, and Eastern Europe, where he witnessed vicious Axis massacres of Jews and Serbs. In 1942, he was assigned to Budapest. He found the Hungarian capital “full of life, where nothing was lacking and the restaurants and theaters were full of seemingly carefree people, many of them Jews.” Tall, well-dressed and stylish, Perlasca also enjoyed an active social life.

 

That came to an abrupt end in September 1943 when Italy surrendered to the Allies and the country was split. Some aligned themselves with Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic while others supported the king who joined the Allies. Perlasca was arrested as an enemy alien and interned in a camp near the Austrian border. Escaping in October 1943, he made his way back to Budapest.

 

Life changed drastically in March 1944 when the Hungarian Nazis seized power. Perlasca ran to the Spanish Consulate in Budapest and, producing his vital letter from the Spanish authorities, he received a Spanish passport with his new name: Jorge Perlasca. He soon discovered that the Spanish Consul Angel Sanz Briz was issuing “letters of protection” for Hungarian Jews who were forced to wear the yellow Star of David. The embassy was overwhelmed with requests from stateless Jews seeking asylum in a neutral country such as Spain or safe passage out of Europe.

 

The Consulate also employed Jews as clerks, and housed them in eight apartment buildings under its control. Perlasca offered his assistance. The Hungarian government then discovered that the Spanish officials had been harboring Jews in their houses and embassy and began raiding them. With Budapest in chaos, Ángel Sans Briz and other officials received orders to vacate immediately. He left a note for Perlasca imploring him to leave as well. Realizing that without protection many Jews would be killed, Perlasca bravely decided to remain.

 

As the only person in the Consulate with a Spanish passport, he went to the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, utilizing his boundless chutzpah and a letter he had forged, Perlasca succeeded in convincing the officials he had been appointed the new Spanish Consul and that Sanz Briz was simply on leave. The German and Hungarian officials believed him, as well as his warning that Spain would retaliate if forced to turn over the refugees under his protection. Fortunately, they were unable to confirm Perlasca’s new status with Madrid and he was permitted to continue working. “I couldn’t stand the sight of people being branded like animals… I couldn’t stand seeing children being killed. I did what I had to do,” he stated.

 

Perlasca described his situation: “At first, I didn’t know what to do, but then I began to feel like a fish in water. I continued giving out protective passes and looked after the Jews in the ‘safe houses’ flying the Spanish flag. As the proverb says, ‘Opportunity makes the thief.'” The new “Consul” organized food, medical aid and protection for 5,200 Jews in the Consulate’s apartments. An intelligence network warned him in advance of possible Nazi searches. The diplomatic missions of four other neutral states – Portugal, Switzerland, the Vatican and Sweden – also helped save Jewish lives…

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

 

 

Contents

MARION PRITCHARD, WHO RISKED HER LIFE TO

RESCUE JEWS FROM NAZIS, DIES AT 96        

Richard Sandomir                                               

New York Times, Dec. 23, 2016

 

Marion Pritchard, a gentile whose shock at watching Nazi soldiers storm a home for Jewish children in Amsterdam and load them into a truck for deportation inspired her to enter a clandestine world of rescuing Jews, died on Dec. 11 at her home in Washington. She was 96. The cause was cerebral arteriosclerosis, her family said. “By 1945, I had lied, stolen, cheated, deceived and even killed,” Ms. Pritchard said in a lecture in 1996 at the University of Michigan, where she received the Wallenberg Medal, a humanitarian award given by the university in memory of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who rescued tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II.

 

In the spring of 1942, Ms. Pritchard was a social work student who had been imbued by her father, a judge, with a strong sense of outrage about the injustices perpetrated against the Jews during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. One day, she recalled, as she was riding her bicycle to class, she saw Nazis at the children’s home “picking up the kids by an arm or a leg or by the hair” and throwing them into a truck. “Well, I stopped my bike and looked,” she said in an oral history recorded in 1984 by the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. “Two other women coming down on the street got so furious, they attacked the German soldiers, and they just picked the women up and threw them in the truck after the kids. “I just stood there,” she added. “I’m one of those people who sat there and watched it happen.”

 

To save and shelter Jews, Ms. Pritchard registered Jewish infants as her own children and found safe, non-Jewish homes for them. She helped feed Jews and get them ration cards. She secured false identification papers to help them avoid capture by the Nazis, and found medical care for children through a friendly pediatrician. Sometimes her role was simply to be one in a line of rescuers who handed Jewish children to someone else, who would then lead them out of danger. By her estimate, she helped rescue 150 Jews.

 

She never discussed her activities with her parents, or with her younger brother, Jan, fearing that saying anything would endanger them. “You just did not talk,” she said. Ms. Pritchard was recognized in 1981 by Yad Vashem, the world center for Holocaust research and commemoration in Jerusalem, as “Righteous Among the Nations,” an honor given to gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust. Ms. Pritchard, who was Anglican, is one of about 26,000 people to receive the award. About one-fifth of them were from the Netherlands.

 

She was born Marion Philippina van Binsbergen on Nov. 7, 1920, in Amsterdam, one of two children of Jacob and Grace van Binsbergen…Her best-known rescue started in late 1942. She was asked by a friend to hide Fred Polak and his young children, Erica, an infant, and her brothers, Lex, 4, and Tom, 2. When she could not find a safe place, her friend persuaded his mother-in-law to let Ms. Pritchard and the Polaks move into the servants’ quarters of her villa in Huizen, 15 miles outside Amsterdam. Jews in hiding, like the Polaks, feared the Nazis’ nighttime raids demanding their papers. So they developed a routine: If they felt in danger — most often by hearing the approach of the vehicle the Germans would arrive in — they would push aside the coffee table and rug in the living room, pull up the floorboards and hide below in a pit. They practiced the drill often and could complete it in less than a minute.

 

One night in late 1944, three Nazis and a Dutch collaborator, who had been a police officer before the war, came to the door. The Polaks were in the pit. “They didn’t find the hiding place,” Ms. Pritchard recalled. “But the Nazis had learned that if they didn’t find the hiding place, if they came back an hour later, the Jew or Jews might have come out of the hiding place and they could pick them up.”

 

The Dutch collaborator returned in about a half-hour, entering through an unlocked door. The children were out of hiding because Erica had started crying — she had not been given sleeping powder — and her brothers had wanted to be out as well. The hiding place had not yet been concealed again, and knowing that the children were in mortal danger, Ms. Pritchard took out a revolver hidden on a bookshelf in the room and shot the intruder. “I couldn’t think of anything else to do but kill him,” she told the filmmaker Aviva Slesin in an interview for her 2002 documentary “Secret Lives: Hidden Children and Their Rescuers.” “There was a moment of great exhilaration. Thank God the kids were safe.”…                                                       

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

                                                           

                        CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents   

        

On Topic Links

 

Israel and the Trump Administration: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 5, 2016—In just two weeks, a new US administration will enter the White House. It may well prove to be a turning point for Israel, reversing the tide of global hostility of the past eight years, in which the outgoing administration regarded us diplomatically as a rogue state rather than an ally.

Saving Europe From Itself—Again: Mark Helprin, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 14, 2016—Though Europeans bridle when confronted with the possibility that Americans have something to offer, the Champs Élysées is not called Unter den Linden, and the Thousand-Year Reich and Warsaw Pact are no more, because—intelligently, successfully, and sacrificially—the U.S. came three times to Europe’s aid.

Meet Henry Orenstein, the Man Who Changed How the World Plays: Abigail Jones, Newsweek, Dec. 21, 2016—Henry Orenstein was standing outside his concentration camp barracks, shivering, when the amplified voice of his salvation cut through the frigid air: “All Jewish scientists, engineers, inventors, chemists and mathematicians must register immediately.”

How Celine Dion Helped Save Montreal’s Most Iconic Jewish Deli: Gabe Friedman, JTA, Dec. 29, 2016—Near, far — wherever you are — Schwartz’s is known for being one of Montreal’s oldest and most storied Jewish delis. Its famed smoked meat — a subtly different cousin of pastrami — has attracted scores of customers since it opened in 1928.

 

 

 

ISRAEL RESILIENT, BUT ENEMIES EMBOLDENED BY OBAMA’S BETRAYAL

 

Obama’s Final, Most Shameful, Legacy Moment: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Dec. 29, 2016— “When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.”

Obama’s Last-Minute Backstab Against Israel: Clifford D. May, Washington Times, Dec. 28, 2016 — Palestinian Islamic Jihad is, as its name suggests, an organization committed to jihad — against Israel most urgently, though not exclusively.

UN, Obama Further Radicalize Palestinians: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 29, 2016— Buoyed by the latest United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal…

The Resilience of Israel: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Dec. 29, 2016— Israel would seem to be in a disastrous position, given the inevitable nuclear capabilities of Iran and the recent deterioration of its relationship with the United States…

 

On Topic Links

 

Obama and Trump are Engaged in a $3 Billion Game of Chicken Over Israel: Jake Novak, CNBC, Dec. 27, 2016

Can Trump Construct a New World Order?: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Dec. 18, 2016

A New Approach to Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking: Arik Elman, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2016

How Obama Cracked Jewish Solidarity: Michael Lumish, Jewish Press, Jan. 3, 2017

 

                     

 

OBAMA’S FINAL, MOST SHAMEFUL, LEGACY MOMENT          

                                                Charles Krauthammer

                                                   Washington Post, Dec. 29, 2016

 

“When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back.” — Barack Obama, AIPAC conference, March 4, 2012.

 

The audience — overwhelmingly Jewish, passionately pro-Israel and supremely gullible — applauded wildly. Four years later — his last election behind him, with a month to go in office and with no need to fool Jew or gentile again — Obama took the measure of Israel’s back and slid a knife into it. People don’t quite understand the damage done to Israel by the U.S. abstention that permitted passage of a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel over settlements. The administration pretends this is nothing but a restatement of long-standing U.S. opposition to settlements.

 

Nonsense. For the past 35 years, every administration, including a reelection-seeking Obama himself in 2011, has protected Israel with the U.S. veto because such a Security Council resolution gives immense legal ammunition to every boycotter, anti-Semite and zealous European prosecutor to penalize and punish Israelis. An ordinary Israeli who lives or works in the Old City of Jerusalem becomes an international pariah, a potential outlaw. To say nothing of the soldiers of Israel’s citizen army. “Every pilot and every officer and every soldier,” said a confidant of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, “we are waiting for him at The Hague,” i.e. the International Criminal Court.

 

Moreover, the resolution undermines the very foundation of a half-century of American Middle East policy. What becomes of “land for peace” if the territories that Israel was to have traded for peace are, in advance, declared to be Palestinian land to which Israel has no claim? The peace parameters enunciated so ostentatiously by Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday are nearly identical to the Clinton parameters that Yasser Arafat was offered and rejected in 2000 and that Abbas was offered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Abbas, too, walked away.

 

Kerry mentioned none of this because it undermines his blame-Israel narrative. Yet Palestinian rejectionism works. The Security Council just declared the territories legally Palestinian — without the Palestinians having to concede anything, let alone peace. What incentive do the Palestinians have to negotiate when they can get the terms — and territory — they seek handed to them for free if they hold out long enough? The administration claims a kind of passive innocence on the text of the resolution, as if it had come upon it at the last moment. We are to believe that the ostensible sponsors — New Zealand, Senegal, Malaysia and a Venezuela that cannot provide its own people with toilet paper, let alone food — had for months been sweating the details of Jewish housing in East Jerusalem.

 

Nothing new here, protests deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes: “When we see the facts on the ground, again, deep into the West Bank beyond the separation barrier, we feel compelled to speak up against those actions.” This is a deception. Everyone knows that remote outposts are not the issue. Under any peace, they will be swept away. Even right-wing Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who lives in one of these West Bank settlements, has stated publicly that “I even agree to vacate my settlement if there really will be a two-state solution.” Where’s the obstacle to peace?

 

A second category of settlement is the close-in blocs that border 1967 Israel. Here, too, we know in advance how these will be disposed of: They’ll become Israeli territory and, in exchange, Israel will swap over some of its land to a Palestinian state. Where’s the obstacle to peace here?

 

It’s the third category of “settlement” that is the most contentious and that Security Council Resolution 2334 explicitly condemns: East Jerusalem. This is not just scandalous; it’s absurd. America acquiesces to a declaration that, as a matter of international law, the Jewish state has no claim on the Western Wall, the Temple Mount, indeed the entire Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. They belong to Palestine. The Temple Mount is the most sacred site in all of Judaism. That it should be declared foreign to the Jewish people is as if the Security Council declared Mecca and Medina to be territory to which Islam has no claim. Such is the Orwellian universe Israel inhabits.

 

At the very least, Obama should have insisted that any reference to East Jerusalem be dropped from the resolution or face a U.S. veto. Why did he not? It’s incomprehensible — except as a parting shot of personal revenge on Benjamin Netanyahu. Or perhaps as a revelation of a deep-seated antipathy to Israel that simply awaited a safe political interval for public expression. Another legacy moment for Barack Obama. And his most shameful.           

                                                           

Contents                                                                                                                                                                     

OBAMA’S LAST-MINUTE BACKSTAB AGAINST ISRAEL

Clifford D. May                                                                                                     

Washington Times, Dec. 28, 2016

 

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is, as its name suggests, an organization committed to jihad — against Israel most urgently, though not exclusively. So when the UN Security Council on Friday passed a resolution condemning Israel, P.I.J. spokesman Dawood Shihab was pleased. He called it a “victory.” He wasn’t wrong. Nor was Fawzy Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, another organization openly committed to Israel’s extermination, as well as to “a jihadi revolution” that will be a “prelude to the establishment of the future Islamic caliphate.” He called the resolution an “important evolution in international positions.” He expressed Hamas’ “appreciation.”

 

Most deserving of their gratitude is Barack Obama, who decided to spend his last days in office playing golf in Hawaii and throwing America’s most reliable ally to the wolves at the UN, an organization that exhibits passivity when it comes to the ongoing carnage in Syria, the genocide of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in the broader Middle East, the conflict in Yemen, failing states — the list goes on and on.

 

The UN does, however, expend considerable energy railing against the world’s only Jewish state, a tiny democratic nation on the front lines of the war against radical Islam, a war the West is fighting in only the most desultory fashion. This year alone, the UN General Assembly passed 20 resolutions censuring Israel, compared to one against Iran and none against Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Venezuela and China. With assistance from President Obama, who instructed his ambassador not to veto Resolution 2334, the Security Council has now piled on as well.

 

For decades, Democrats and Republicans have agreed that it would be “unwise” to give the Security Council the responsibility “to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians.” Those words were spoken by Susan Rice, Obama’s first ambassador to the UN when, following his instructions in 2011, she blocked a similar resolution. But back then Obama still had one more presidential election to win so antagonizing Israel’s supporters may have seemed ill-advised. Perhaps that’s unfair. Perhaps Obama sincerely believes that a two-state solution could be achieved if only Israel would withdraw from the “occupied territories.” If so, he’s ignoring both history and experience. Start with the fact that Arab, Muslim and Palestinian leaders first rejected a two-state solution back in 1948 — almost a generation before Israelis took possession of the West Bank and Gaza.

 

Those lands fell to Israel as a consequence of the 1967 war, one of several attempts by Israel’s neighbours to drive the despised Jews into the sea. It was from Jordan and Egypt respectively that Israel took those territories. Palestinians had never governed them. But that led to a bright idea: Why not trade land for peace with the Palestinians? With President Bill Clinton serving as honest broker, specific offers were put on the table in 2000 and then again in 2001. Another offer was proffered in 2008. Palestinian leaders turned them down. They made no counteroffers.

 

In 2005, an experiment was conducted: Israelis withdrew from one of the occupied territories. Within two years, Hamas was firmly in charge of Gaza, from which it began launching missiles at Israeli villages. Israelis learned a lesson. The “international community” did not. On the contrary, President Obama and the UN Security Council have just told the Israelis that they envision a land-for-peace deal that omits the peace part. Meanwhile, on the West Bank, only thanks to Israel’s military and intelligence presence (read: occupation) does Fatah maintain its hold on power. Mahmoud Abbas, who leads both Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, is no wild-eyed jihadi. But, he, too, refuses to acknowledge the right of Jews to self-determination in any part of their ancient homeland.

 

Resolution 2334 demands nothing of Palestinians. Its definition of “occupied territory” is extreme, including even the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Conquered in 1949 by Jordan’s Arab Legion, it was then “cleansed” of Jews. Synagogues and cemeteries were destroyed. Jewish holy places were desecrated. The UN, of course, did nothing. Look at the map: across North Africa and the Middle East, from Morocco to Pakistan, there is only one state not ruled by Muslims, only one in which minorities — ethnic, religious, sexual — are guaranteed basic human rights. The dream of P.I.J, Hamas, the Islamic State, the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Islamic revolutionaries is to destroy that exceptional state, to incorporate it into a new empire — an empire that, over time, is to expand well beyond the region.

 

Obama has now encouraged that dream. That will be his legacy. And he still has a few weeks left to do more damage. I wouldn’t put it past him. The day before the UN vote, President-elect Trump stated what President Obama once claimed to believe, that “peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.” After the vote, he added: “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

 

His nominee for ambassador, David Friedman, has proposed moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That would be an appropriate response to this latest provocation. Among the additional measures Mr. Trump will consider: dramatically reducing American funding for the UN. Like other transnational progressives, Obama regards the UN as a proto-global government. Mr. Trump, an anti-globalist, does not. It will be useful for him to emphasize that so long as he’s in the White House, America’s sovereignty will not be surrendered to transnational organizations, America’s tax dollars will not be squandered on transnational organizations, America’s enemies will not be rewarded and America’s allies will be abused no longer.   

                                                              

Contents

 

 

UN, OBAMA FURTHER RADICALIZE PALESTINIANS

Khaled Abu Toameh

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 29, 2016

 

Buoyed by the latest United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements as illegal, Palestinian leaders are now threatening to step up their diplomatic warfare against Israel — a move that is sure to sabotage any future effort to revive the moribund peace process. Other Palestinians, meanwhile, view the resolution as license to escalate "resistance" attacks on Israel. By "resistance," of course, they mean terror attacks against Israel. The UNSC resolution sent the following message to the Palestinians: Forget about negotiating with Israel. Just pressure the international community to force Israel to comply with the resolution and surrender up all that you demand.

 

Meanwhile, the Palestinians are not wasting any time by waiting for the international community to act against Israel on their behalf. Rather, they are thinking of ways of taking advantage of the UNSC vote to promote their campaign to isolate and delegitimize Israel, especially in the international arena. One thing is certain: Abbas and his Palestinian Authority cronies are not planning to return to the negotiating table with Israel. In fact, they are more belligerent, confrontational and defiant than ever.

 

In the days following the UNSC vote, the voices emerging from Ramallah and the Gaza Strip clearly indicate that Palestinians have put themselves on a collision course with Israel. This bodes badly for any peace process. Earlier this week, Abbas convened the PLO Executive Committee — a decision-making body dominated by his loyalists — to discuss the implications of the new resolution. The declared purpose of the meeting: to discuss the decisions and strategy that the Palestinian leadership needs to take in the aftermath of the resolution.

 

The decisions announced following the PLO meeting are a clear sign of the new approach that Abbas and the Palestinian leadership have endorsed. The Palestinian leaders have chosen the path of confrontation, and not direct negotiations, with Israel. They see the UNSC resolution, particularly the US abstention, as a charge sheet against Israel that is to be leveraged in their diplomatic effort to force Israel to its knees.

 

The PLO decisions include, among other things, an appeal to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch an "immediate judicial investigation into Israeli colonial settlements on the land of the independent State of Palestine." Another decision envisages asking Switzerland to convene a meeting to look into ways of forcing Israel to apply the Fourth Geneva Convention to the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. The Geneva Convention, adopted in 1949, defines "humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone."

 

The appeal to the ICC and Switzerland is part of Abbas's strategy to "internationalize" the conflict with Israel, by involving as many parties as possible. In this context, Abbas is hoping that the UNSC resolution will ensure the "success" of the upcoming French-initiated Middle East peace conference, which is slated to convene in Paris next month. For Abbas, the conference is another tool to isolate Israel in the international community, and depict it as a country that rejects peace with its Arab neighbors.

 

In addition, Abbas and his lieutenants in Ramallah are now seeking to exploit the UNSC resolution to promote boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel: "The PLO Executive Committee renews its call to the world countries for a comprehensive and full boycott of Israeli colonialist settlements in all fields, as well as all companies working in or dealing with these settlements." One of Abbas's close associates, Mohamed Shtayyeh, hinted that the UNSC resolution should be regarded as a green light not only to boycott Israel, but also to use violence against it. He said that this is the time to "bolster the popular resistance" against Israel. "Popular resistance" is code for throwing stones and petrol bombs and carrying out stabbing and car-ramming attacks against Israelis.

 

The UNSC resolution has also encouraged the Palestinians to pursue their narrative that Jews have no historical, religious or emotional attachment to Jerusalem, or any other part of Israel. Sheikh Ekrimah Sabri, a leading Palestinian Islamic cleric and preacher at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, was quick to declare that the Western Wall, the holiest Jewish site in Jerusalem, belongs only to Muslims. Referring to the wall by its Islamic name, Sheikh Sabri announced: "The Al-Buraq Wall is the western wall of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Muslims cannot give it up."

 

While Abbas and his Palestinian Authority consider the UNSC resolution a license to proceed with their diplomatic warfare to delegitimize and isolate Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two groups that seek the elimination of Israel, are also celebrating. The two Gaza-based groups see the resolution as another step toward achieving their goal of replacing Israel with an Islamic empire. Leaders and spokesmen of Hamas and Islamic Jihad were among the first Palestinians to heap praise on the UNSC members who voted in favor of the resolution. They are also openly stating that the resolution authorizes them to step up the "resistance" against Israel in order to "liberate all of Palestine."…

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

 

Contents

THE RESILIENCE OF ISRAEL

                                                Victor Davis Hanson                                                                                           

National Review, Dec. 29, 2016

 

Israel would seem to be in a disastrous position, given the inevitable nuclear capabilities of Iran and the recent deterioration of its relationship with the United States, its former patron and continued financial benefactor. Immediately upon entering office, President Obama hectored Israel on so-called settlements. Obama promised to put “daylight” between the U.S. and Israel — and delivered on that promise…

 

Obama has long been at odds with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Over objections from the Obama administration, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of Congress last year about the existential dangers of the Obama-brokered Iran deal and the likelihood of a new Middle East nuclear-proliferation race. Obama then doubled down on his irritation with Netanyahu through petty slights, such as making him wait during White House visits. In 2014, an official in the Obama administration anonymously said Netanyahu, a combat veteran, was a “coward” on Iran.

 

At a G-20 summit in Cannes, France, in 2011, Obama, in a hot-mic slip, trashed Netanyahu. He whined to French president Nicolas Sarkozy: “You’re tired of him? What about me? I have to deal with him every day.” In contrast, Obama bragged about his “special” relationship with autocratic Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Never mind that Erdogan seems to want to reconstruct Turkey as a modern Islamist version of the Ottoman Empire, or that he is anti-democratic while Israel is a consensual society of laws. The Middle East surrounding democratic Israel is a nightmare.

 

The Middle East surrounding democratic Israel is a nightmare. Half a million have died amid the moonscape ruins of Syria. A once-stable Iraq was overrun by the Islamic State. The Arab Spring, U.S. support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the coup of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to regain control of Egypt, and the bombing of Libya all have left North Africa in turmoil. Iran has been empowered by the U.S.-brokered deal and will still become nuclear…

 

Yet in all this mess, somehow Israel is in its best geostrategic position in decades. How? The answer is a combination of unintended consequences, deft diplomacy, political upheavals in Europe and the United States, and Israel’s own democratic traditions. Huge natural gas and oil finds off Israel’s Mediterranean coast and in the Golan Heights have radically changed Israel’s energy and financial positions. Israel no longer needs to import costly fossil fuels and may soon be an exporter of gas and oil to needy customers in Europe and the Middle East. (America recently became the world’s greatest producer of carbon energy and also no longer is dependent on Middle Eastern oil imports, resulting in less political influence by Arab nations.) Israel is creating its own version of Silicon Valley at Beersheba, which is now a global hub of cybersecurity research.

 

The Obama administration’s estrangement from Israel has had the odd effect of empowering Israel. Rich Persian Gulf states see Obama as hostile both to Israel and to themselves, while he appeases the common enemy of majority-Shiite Iran.

Democratic, free-market Israel is the sole safe port amid a rising Middle East tsunami. After a “leading from behind” U.S withdrawal from the Middle East, many Arab nations now see Israel more as a powerful ally against Iran than as an old existential enemy. They also see Israel as a country that has likewise been snubbed by America.

 

The idea of an Arab-Israeli understanding is surreal, but it is developing from shared fears of being targets of Iranian bombing and American indifference. Many of Israel’s neighbors are threatened by either ISIS or al-Qaeda nihilists. Those deadly dangers remind the world that democratic, free-market Israel is the sole safe port amid a rising Middle East tsunami.

 

Changing Western politics are empowering Israel as well. More than 2 million migrants — for the most part, young males from the war-torn Middle East — have terrified Europe, especially after a series of radical Islamic-terrorist killings. Suddenly, Europe is far more worried about Israel’s neighbors than about lecturing Israel itself.

 

Pushback against the Obama administration extends to its foreign policy. President-elect Donald Trump may be more pro-Israel than any recent U.S. president. And he may be the first U.S. leader to move the American embassy to Israel’s capital in West Jerusalem. For all the chaos and dangers abroad, the map of global energy, Western politics, and Middle Eastern alliances has been radically redrawn. At the center is a far stronger Israel that has more opportunities than at any other time in its history. It will have an even brighter future after Obama has left office.

 

Contents           

On Topic Links

 

Obama and Trump are Engaged in a $3 Billion Game of Chicken Over Israel: Jake Novak, CNBC, Dec. 27, 2016—President Obama and President-elect Donald Trump are engaged in a $3 billion game of chicken. It started last week when the United Nations began considering a deeply one-sided resolution calling on Israel to end all Jewish settlement building in disputed areas of the West Bank and even East Jerusalem without a single word calling on Palestinians to end violent attacks on civilians or do anything else.

Can Trump Construct a New World Order?: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Dec. 18, 2016—US President-Elect Donald Trump lacks foreign policy experience, and during the election campaign did not proffer any comprehensive outlook on global affairs. He offered bits and pieces of ideas (building a wall along the Mexican border, moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, disparaging NATO, and demanding that allies raise their defense expenditures). Overall, he expressed isolationist sentiments alongside inconsistent and unpredictable thoughts. In any case, his focus is likely to be on domestic affairs.

A New Approach to Israeli-Palestinian Peacemaking: Arik Elman, Algemeiner, Jan. 2, 2016—Some of my friends — even intelligent friends — say that, however unpleasant, a Borat-esque “running of the Jew” must now be enacted, because we need a reminder that the two-state solution is the only way to be rid of the Palestinian problem, as we can’t absorb Palestinians into our state, can’t rule them and can’t deport them.

How Obama Cracked Jewish Solidarity: Michael Lumish, Jewish Press, Jan. 3, 2017—Fifty years from now Barack Obama will be known to most Americans as, quite simply, the first African-American president of the United States. Aside from this he will have precious little to distinguish himself other than in the notable electoral deterioration of the Democratic Party under his tenure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REMEMBERING 2016 & PROGNOSTICATING THE NEW YEAR AND NEW PRO-ISRAEL WHITE HOUSE

 

A Crystal Ball on 2017: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Dec. 30, 2016— Alas, my crystal ball has been working well in recent years, accurately anticipating the troubles before Israel.

Responding to Obama’s Malicious Betrayal of Israel: Isi Leibler, Candidly Speaking, Dec. 29, 2016— As predicted, on the eve of his retirement President Barack Obama betrayed Israel.

The Main Antisemitic Incidents of 2016: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2016 — It has become a tradition that at year’s end the Simon Wiesenthal Center publishes a selection of the year’s major antisemitic incidents.

Hanukkah: The Festival of Religious Freedom: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Religion and Ethics, Dec. 19, 2016— Hanukkah is the festival on which Jews celebrate their victory in the fight for religious freedom more than two thousand years ago.

 

On Topic Links

 

12 Reasons the US Should Never Have allowed UN Resolution 2334: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Dec. 29, 2016

Israel Sees 27,000 New Immigrants in 2016, Slight Dip From Previous Year: JNS, Dec. 29, 2016

Meet The Winners: Our Pick For 2016’s Coolest Israeli Startups: Einat Paz-Frankel, No Camels, Dec. 29, 2016

Campus Antisemitism: The Year in Review: Kenneth L Marcus, Algemeiner, Dec. 26, 2016

 

                                  

 A CRYSTAL BALL ON 2017              

David M. Weinberg                       

Israel Hayom, Dec. 30, 2016

 

Alas, my crystal ball has been working well in recent years, accurately anticipating the troubles before Israel. Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama: Two years ago, I impeccably predicted in these pages that Obama would cut a grand nuclear deal with the Iranians at Israel's expense. One year ago, I forecast that Obama would sandbag Israel with a "December surprise" — a hostile U.N. Security Council resolution in the seam zone between the Nov. 8 presidential election and the Jan. 20 inauguration of a new president. I also guessed correctly that Obama would never mention the words Islam and terrorism in the same sentence; not even once, right down to the dying days of his sad eight-year tenure.

 

Looking ahead, I sense that Obama will continue to ride on Israel's case. He is young, angry, petulant and unrepentant, and a true believer in Palestinian and Iranian rights and in his own prodigious powers. The presidency of the United States was just a stepping stone, in his view, toward real global clout. Obama will remain a thorn in Israel's behind, and surely in the side of his successor too. Watch for a series of revelatory Obama interviews with Jeffrey Goldberg, in which Obama will undiplomatically pour out his wrath on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and further delegitimize Israel, while repeatedly referencing the "legacy of Shimon Peres" as cover for his contempt.

 

Incoming President Donald Trump: I was wrong to dismiss Trump's candidacy for president as hopeless, but right to suggest that moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem was a realistic possibility. Now it will happen. I don't think that the Trump administration will sanction Israeli annexations in Judea and Samaria, but it can quietly green-light renewed Israeli building in the greater Jerusalem envelope, including E1, along the lines of the "Bush letter" understandings of 2004.

 

Equally important, Trump will reject the Obama administration's obsessive and false narratives about Israeli settlement construction being illegal, massive, and the main obstacle to peace. And he will acknowledge the plain reality that the status quo in Judea and Samaria is the least-worst option in the medium term. On another front, I doubt that Trump will throw the U.N. out of New York or cut its funding, despite Republican threats to do so. As the late, great Ed Koch once said of the U.N.: Every city needs a cesspool.

 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas: I was wrong in predicting last year that Abbas would finally resign from his dictatorial perch in the Palestinian Authority. But I am confident in calculating that even if he does so this coming year, the Palestinian Authority won't collapse. That's because there is no precedent in business or international affairs of anybody just walking away from a $3 billion enterprise. More than 200,000 Palestinian families in the West Bank — a million people — are dependent on PA salaries and pension plans, paid by the international community and essentially buttressed by Israeli bayonets.

 

The PA's autocratic rule is the default and preferred paradigm for much of the Palestinian political elite (and for Israel). This gives the lie to the PA's threats to dissolve itself. Such threats are simply not credible. One more thing should be kept in mind: It is only ongoing invasive and pervasive security activity by the IDF that keeps the Palestinian Authority alive. Without this, there isn't a shred of a doubt that the PA would fall to Hamas rule within a matter of weeks. And then Jerusalem and Israel's Gush Dan heartland would be under assault from the strategic heights of Judea and Samaria. This is a reality that all those who still hanker for rapid establishment of a full-fledged Palestinian state prefer to ignore.

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin: My analysis of the situation in Syria going back two years remains prescient. While Russia and Iran share an interest in stabilizing the Assad regime, Putin has no reason to provide cover for Iranian and Hezbollah operations against Israel. Thus careful Israeli maneuvering, for which Netanyahu deserves credit, has driven enough of a wedge between Russia and Iran to preserve Israel's freedom to operate against terrorist operations over our northern border.

 

The big question ahead is this: As Trump moves towards a strategic entente with Putin (with China as their common adversary), can Trump peel the Russians away from Iran, and secure Putin's cooperation in checking Iran's hegemonic troublemaking across the Middle East? I'm betting on this. Perhaps Putin will win the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing "stability" to Syria. After all, Obama won the prize for doing nothing at all.

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: He will overcome all the pesky, petty investigations into his finances. Challenges to his Likud leadership by Gideon Sa'ar and Moshe Ya'alon will come to naught. His governing coalition will hold firm too. However, Netanyahu will find it increasingly difficult to square the circle diplomatically, even with Trump in the White House. It will be hard to strengthen Israel's hold on Jerusalem and the settlement blocs, and assert Israel's rights on the Temple Mount while fending off lawfare in the International Criminal Court and other forums. Unless and until Netanyahu adopts a real discourse of Israeli rights in Judea and Samaria (historic, religious and national), and doesn't just talk about its security needs, Israel will continue to lose ground internationally…

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

                                                           

Contents                                                                                                                                                           

RESPONDING TO OBAMA’S MALICIOUS BETRAYAL OF ISRAEL

Isi Leibler                                                                                                   

Candidly Speaking, Dec. 29, 2016

 

As predicted, on the eve of his retirement President Barack Obama betrayed Israel. The former long-standing congregant of the paranoid anti-Semitic pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright who has a penchant for supporting to the Moslem Brotherhood, broke with forty years of U.S. bipartisan policy of protecting the Jewish state from the wolves at the United Nations.

 

His action as a lame duck president was a last ditch effort aimed at undermining his successor’s intended policies, realizing that it is virtually impossible to rescind a Security Council resolution. At the end of his eight years in office he exhibited an unprecedented abuse of power knowing that in his last month he would be unaccountable, despite the fact that his vindictive initiative was totally opposed by Congress, the American people and even by many members of his own party.

 

European countries represented on the Security Council voted in favor of this abominable resolution 2334 which was essentially drafted and orchestrated by the US and ultimately initiated by New Zealand, a Western country whose foreign policy is largely determined by the extent that it promotes export of lamb. Its co-sponsors were the rogue state of Venezuela, as well as Malaysia and Senegal.

 

The resolution, passed during the week that Aleppo was conquered by President Assad in the midst of brutal torture and massacres of thousands of innocent civilians, highlights the duplicity and hypocrisy of the United Nations, a body dominated by anti-Israeli and rogue states with democracies groveling in an effort to appease the dominant Muslim nations. It will serve as an instrument for Israel’s adversaries to further promote boycott, divestment and sanctions and the International Criminal Court will be encouraged to define Israel as a criminal state.

 

It officially nullifies the disastrous Oslo Accords, negates UN Resolution 242 and repudiates the concept of defensible borders. It paves the way for criminalizing all settlers, including those in the major blocs that will always remain part of Israel and even Jews resident in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem. It actually defines the Old City of Jerusalem and the Kotel (Western Wall) as occupied Palestinian territory.

 

In this context the Palestinians will demand that any future negotiations accept these bizarre territorial definitions as opening benchmarks – a status that no Israeli government would ever contemplate accepting. The UN Resolution has effectively negated the concept of direct negotiations, thus ensuring that a peaceful solution to the conflict is more remote than ever.

 

In this poisonous anti-Israeli international climate, we should not be influenced by the pessimistic prophets of doom in our midst. We are more powerful today than ever before and in the course of our history we have successfully overcome far greater threats to our existence than the United Nations. Now is a time for us to display unity and strength. Despite the many initial concerns, we should thank the Almighty that the American people elected Donald Trump as president. Were we now faced with a Clinton Democratic Administration, which in all likelihood would retain Obama’s policies, we would be confronting a real nightmare.

 

In this context, if the proclaimed decision to move the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem is implemented it will send the world a powerful message. To his credit, Trump used all his weight as an incoming president in efforts to ward off the UN resolution, albeit unsuccessfully. He described the UN “just as a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time” and stressed that after January 20th “things at the UN will be different”. In the wake of his selection of pro-Israeli David Friedman as ambassador to Israel he appointed another pro-Israeli from his team, Jason Greenblatt as his point man for Middle East negotiations. He also demonstratively refused to grant an audience to retiring UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon.

 

In light of these developments most of the mainstream Jewish leadership who were in denial for over eight years should share a deep sense of guilt and shame. They remained silent as Obama treated Israel diplomatically as a rogue state whilst he groveled to the Ayatollah. They continued voting for him and we now see how he repaid them. The only consistent critic was indefatigable Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America who has now been more than vindicated.

 

Individual American Jews are free to express their personal political opinions in any manner they deem fit, but mainstream Jewish organizations are obliged to avoid activity which reflects political bias. The disgusting behavior of liberal mainstream leaders exploiting their positions to promote a partisan bias against Trump, including accusations of anti-Semitism against him and his co-workers before and during the elections, now stands out as being utterly unethical and outrageous.

 

After the elections the Anti-Defamation League, the religious Conservative and Reform leaders all issued statements conveying their anguish and even mourning the results. Some of these publicly supported the election to the Democratic Party leadership of the Muslim extreme left-wing anti-Israeli congressman Keith Ellison whilst bitterly protesting Trump’s appointment of a pro-Israeli ambassador. Others even protested that moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem would harm the peace process. The climax was the almost comic but bizarre boycott by major liberal mainstream Jewish organizations of a Hanukah celebration hosted by the Presidents’ Conference at the Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington because it was being held in a Trump-owned hotel.

 

But now is the time for us to look forward and unite. This U.N. resolution was not just about settlements. It was to undermine the security of the state and pave the way for anti-Semitic boycotts and sanctions by those seeking Israel’s demise. The resolution employing Obama’s malevolent views made no distinction between isolated outposts and settlements in outlying regions and Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem including the Western Wall…

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

                                                                       

Contents

 

THE MAIN ANTISEMITIC INCIDENTS OF 2016

Manfred Gerstenfeld

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 13, 2016

 

It has become a tradition that at year’s end the Simon Wiesenthal Center publishes a selection of the year’s major antisemitic incidents. When the list was started in 2010 it was two pages long. By last year it had tripled to six pages. Concerning 2016 there are two new aspects. The first is that a widely accepted definition of antisemitism has been in existence since May, namely that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).

 

Its acceptance required the approval of its 31 democratic member countries. The second aspect is that the perhaps largest antisemitic incident this year did not even mention Jews: in 2016, UNESCO accepted a resolution which refers to the Temple Mount exclusively as Al-Haram Al-Sharif/Al-Aksa Mosque. In so doing, it dissociated Jews (and Christians) from Jerusalem. This year it will be difficult for the SWC executives to do their work in view of the many major antisemitic incidents to choose from. A few suggestions thus may be helpful. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) coalition should be high on the list. Its platform falsely claims that Israel is an “apartheid state” which perpetrates genocide against the Palestinians.

 

Another prime candidate for the SWC list is Jeremy Corbyn, the extreme left-wing leader of the British Labour Party. Under his leadership antisemitism in the party has greatly expanded. Corbyn has called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends” and for so many months refused to distance himself from that statement that when he finally did, it was meaningless. Corbyn promoted his strategy adviser Seumas Milne, who is a Hamas proponent. He also gave notorious antisemitic slur producer Ken Livingstone an important position in the party. The latter was later suspended because of antisemitic remarks about Hitler supporting Zionism. When the antisemitism in the party became clear, he chose an unqualified investigator who produced a highly unprofessional report on the issue. Corbyn’s acts do not fit the IHRA definition. This shows that the definition in relation to anti-Israel antisemitism is far too concise and should be complemented by a more detailed definition of this type of antisemitism…

 

The Muslim world is a prime supplier of antisemitic recidivists. One of these is the Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan. One statement from 2016 which qualifies him is “I don’t approve of what Hitler did, and neither do I approve of what Israel has done,” according to a translation by AFP. “When it’s a question of so many people dying, it’s inappropriate to ask who was the more barbarous.” In view of Hungarian antisemitism at least one candidate from that country should make the list. Perhaps it should be the Hungarian government for awarding antisemitic Magyar Hirlap columnist and conservative party Fidesz publicist Zsolt Bayer the “Hungarian Middle Cross,” the third highest decoration of achievement the government bestows.

 

No annual list of antisemitic slurs can be complete without including candidates from the Scandinavian hotbeds of hypocrisy and antisemitism, Norway and Sweden. The third largest Norwegian town, Trondheim, is now in the running as candidate for Europe’s capital of the anti-Israeli version of antisemitism for deciding to boycott products from the settlements. SWC circles informed me that Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström barely escaped the list of major antisemitic incidents last year. This year she should definitely be on the list for her comments calling for an investigation into whether Israel is guilty of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians during the most recent wave of terrorism. The leader of the Yesh Atid Party, Yair Lapid, explicitly called her an antisemite during a rally in Stockholm.

 

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is also an annually returning antisemitic phenomenon. Seventy Jews wrote a letter to The New York Review of Books supporting only a targeted boycott of all goods and services from all Israeli settlements as well as investments there. They would be a representative candidate of the BDS list because of their double standards, which are a core element of antisemitism. The above selection may be somewhat helpful to the SWC executives. The problem is that it only contains a small part of the many candidates for this year’s list.                                

 

Contents

                  HANUKKAH: THE FESTIVAL OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM                                                 

                                            Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Religion and Ethics, Dec. 19, 2016

 

Hanukkah is the festival on which Jews celebrate their victory in the fight for religious freedom more than two thousand years ago. Tragically that fight is no less important today – and not only for Jews, but for people of all faiths. The Jewish story is simple enough. In around 165 BCE Antiochus IV, ruler of the Syrian branch of the Alexandrian empire, began to impose Greek culture on the Jews of the land of Israel. Funds were diverted from the Temple to public games and drama competitions.

 

A statue of Zeus was erected in Jerusalem. Jewish religious rituals such as circumcision and the observance of the Sabbath were banned. Those who kept them were persecuted. It was one of the great crises in Jewish history. There was a real possibility that Judaism, the world's first monotheism, would be eclipsed. A group of Jewish pietists rose in rebellion. Led by a priest, Mattathias of Modi'in, and his son, Judah the Maccabee, they began the fight for liberty. Outnumbered, they suffered heavy initial casualties, but within three years they had secured a momentous victory. Jerusalem was restored to Jewish hands. The Temple was rededicated. The celebrations lasted for eight days.

 

Hanukkah – which means "rededication" – was established as a festival to perpetuate the memory of those days. Almost twenty-two centuries have passed since then, yet today religious liberty, enshrined as article 18 in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is at risk in many parts of the world. Christians are being persecuted throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia. In Mosul, Iraq's second city, Christians have been kidnapped, tortured, crucified and beheaded. Over the last two years, the Christian community, one of the oldest in the world, has been driven out, and the Yazidis, members of an ancient religious sect, have been threatened with genocide.

 

Over the past year in Nigeria, Boko Haram has captured Christian children and sold them as slaves. In Madagali, Christian men have been taken and beheaded, and the women forcibly converted to Islam and taken by the terrorists as wives. Nor has Boko Haram limited itself to persecuting Christians; it has targeted the Muslim establishment as well. Sectarian religious violence in the Central African Republic has led to the destruction of almost all of its mosques. In Burma, more than 140,000 Rohingya Muslims and 100,000 Kachin Christians have been forced to flee.

 

The 2016 report of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom speaks concludes that "serious and sustained assault" on religious freedom is a major factor behind the rolling series of worldwide "humanitarian crises." Countries where this crisis is acute include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Vietnam. In Syria alone, where some of the worst crimes against humanity are taking place, 6.6 million people are internally displaced while 4.8 million have become refugees elsewhere…

Is there a way forward? More than half a century ago the Oxford philosopher John Plamenatz noted that religious freedom was born in Europe in the seventeenth century after a devastating series of religious wars. All it took was a single shift, from the belief that, "Faith is the most important thing; therefore everyone should honour the one true faith," to the belief that, "Faith is the most important thing; therefore everyone should be free to honour his or her own faith."

 

This meant that people of all faiths were guaranteed that whichever religion was dominant, he or she would still be free to obey their own call of conscience. Hence Plamenatz's striking conclusion: "Liberty of conscience was born, not of indifference, not of scepticism, not of mere open-mindedness, but of faith." The very fact that my religion is important to me allows me to understand that your quite different religion is no less important to you. It took much bloodshed before people were prepared to acknowledge this simple truth, which is why we must never forget the lessons of the past if we are to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Hanukkah reminds us that people will fight for religious freedom, and the attempt to deprive them of it will always end in failure.

 

The symbol of Hanukkah is the menorah we light for eight days in memory of the Temple candelabrum, purified and rededicated by the Maccabees all those centuries ago. Faith is like a flame. Properly tended, it gives light and warmth, but let loose, it can burn and destroy. We need, in the twenty-first century, a global Hanukkah: a festival of freedom for all the world's faiths. For though my faith is not yours and your faith is not mine, if we are each free to light our own flame, together we can banish some of the darkness of the world.

 

                     CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters:

 

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Urim Sameach!

Contents  

         

On Topic Links

 

12 Reasons the US Should Never Have allowed UN Resolution 2334: Hillel Neuer, Times of Israel, Dec. 29, 2016—What follows is part of an open letter I sent to U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power following the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334:

Israel Sees 27,000 New Immigrants in 2016, Slight Dip From Previous Year: JNS, Dec. 29, 2016— Israel saw approximately 27,000 new immigrants arrive this year, with newcomers from Russia and Brazil rising significantly but overall immigrations down from 31,000 in 2015, according to newly released year-end figures from the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Israeli Ministry of Aliyah and Immigration Absorption.

Meet The Winners: Our Pick For 2016’s Coolest Israeli Startups: Einat Paz-Frankel, No Camels, Dec. 29, 2016—2016 was another remarkable year for Israeli innovation, with the Startup Nation showing no signs of slowing its breakneck pace. The startup ecosystem has made global headlines with a host of new cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to better our lives, and even change them for good.

Campus Antisemitism: The Year in Review: Kenneth L Marcus, Algemeiner, Dec. 26, 2016—This has been an extraordinarily eventful year in the campaign against campus antisemitism, especially from our perspective at the Louis D. Brandeis Center. On the one hand, Jewish students face a worsening climate. This year, an AMCHA Initiative study showed a 45% increase in campus antisemitism during the first half of 2016 as compared with the first half of 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OBAMA & KERRY JOIN THE ANTI-ISRAEL JACKALS WITH PARTING SHOT AT JERUSALEM

 

PM Netanyahu's Statement in Response to US Secretary of State Kerry's Speech: Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 28, 2016 — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 28 December 2016), issued the following statement in response to US Secretary of State John Kerry's speech:

John Kerry's Meaningless Speech and Tragic Missed Opportunity: Alan Dershowitz, Fox News, Dec. 28, 2016 — What if the Secretary of State gave a policy speech and no one listened?

Joining the Jackals: The Case Against U.N. Resolution 2334 – Open Letter to Amb. Samantha Power: Hillel C.  Neuer, UNWatch, Dec. 29, 2016— Dear Ambassador Power…

The Obama Administration Fires a Dangerous Parting Shot: Editorial, Washington Post, Dec. 23, 2016 — President Obama’s decision to abstain on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements reverses decades of practice by both Democratic and Republican presidents.

 

On Topic Links

 

Full Text of John Kerry’s Speech on Middle East Peace, December 28, 2016: Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2016

Donald Trump Tweets Support for Israel Ahead of Kerry Speech on Middle East: Ruth Eglash & Carol Morello, Washington Post, Dec. 28, 2016

Israeli Ambassador: We’ll Give Trump Proof Obama Drove UN Vote (Video): Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2016

Obama Despises Israel Because He Despises the West: Ben Shapiro, National Review, Dec. 28, 2016

 

PM NETANYAHU'S STATEMENT IN RESPONSE TO US SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY'S SPEECH

                                        Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dec. 28, 2016  

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 28 December 2016), issued the following statement in response to US Secretary of State John Kerry's speech:

 

"Before why I explain why this speech was so disappointing to millions of Israelis, I want to say that Israel is deeply grateful to the United States of America, to successive American administrations, to the American Congress, to the American people. We're grateful for the support Israel has received over many, many decades. Our alliance is based on shared values, shared interests, a sense of shared destiny and a partnership that has endured differences of opinions between our two governments over the best way to advance peace and stability in the Middle East. I have no doubt that our alliance will endure the profound disagreement we have had with the Obama Administration and will become even stronger in the future.

 

But now I must express my deep disappointment with the speech today of John Kerry – a speech that was almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed at the UN last week. In a speech ostensibly about peace between Israelis and Palestinians, Secretary Kerry paid lip service to the unremitting campaign of terrorism that has been waged by the Palestinians against the Jewish state for nearly a century. What he did was to spend most of his speech blaming Israel for the lack of peace by passionately condemning a policy of enabling Jews to live in their historic homeland and in their eternal capital, Jerusalem.

 

Hundreds of suicide bombings…tens of thousands of rockets, millions of Israelis in bomb shelters are not throwaway lines in a speech; they're the realities that the people of Israel had to endure because of mistaken policies, policies that at the time won the thunderous applause of the world. I don't seek applause; I seek the security, and peace, and prosperity and the future of the Jewish state. The Jewish people have sought their place under the sun for 3,000 years, and we're not about to be swayed by mistaken policies that have caused great, great damage.

 

Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders. Israel's hand has been extended in peace to its neighbors from day one, from its very first day. We've prayed for peace, we've worked for it every day since then. And thousands of Israeli families have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our country and advance peace. My family has been one of them; there are many, many others.

 

No one wants peace more than the people of Israel. Israel remains committed to resolving the outstanding differences between us and the Palestinians through direct negotiations. This is how we made peace with Egypt; this is how we made peace with Jordan; it's the only way we'll make peace with the Palestinians. That has always been Israel's policy; that has always been America's policy. Here's what President Obama himself said at the UN in 2011. He said: 'Peace is hard work. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the United Nations. If it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now.'

 

That's what President Obama said, and he was right. And until last week this was repeated over and over again as American policy. Secretary Kerry said that the United States cannot vote against its own policy. But that's exactly what it did at the UN, and that's why Israel opposed last week's Security Council resolution, because it effectively calls the Western Wall 'occupied Palestinian Territory,' because it encourages boycotts and sanctions against Israel – that's what it effectively does, and because it reflects a radical shift in US policy towards the Palestinians on final status issues – those issues that we always agreed, the US and Israel, have to be negotiated directly, face to face without preconditions.

 

That shift happened despite the Palestinians walking away from peace and from peace offers time and time again, despite their refusal to even negotiate peace for the past eight years, and despite the Palestinian Authority inculcating a culture of hatred towards Israel in an entire generation of young Palestinians. Israel looks forward to working with President-elect Trump and with the American Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, to mitigate the damage that this resolution has done and ultimately, to repeal it.

 

Israel hopes that the outgoing Obama Administration will prevent any more damage being done to Israel at the UN in its waning days. I wish I could be comforted by the promise that the US says we will not bring any more resolutions to the UN. That's what they said about the previous resolution. We have it on absolutely incontestable evidence that the United States organized, advanced and brought this resolution to the United Nations Security Council. We'll share that information with the incoming administration. Some of it is sensitive, it's all true. You saw some of it in the protocol released in an Egyptian paper. There's plenty more; it's the tip of the iceberg…

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

                                                           

Contents                                                                                                                                                                               

                    JOHN KERRY'S MEANINGLESS SPEECH

AND TRAGIC MISSED OPPORTUNITY

                       Alan Dershowitz                                                                                                    

                  Fox News, Dec. 28, 2016

 

What if the Secretary of State gave a policy speech and no one listened? Because Secretary Kerry’s speech Wednesday came after the U.S.'s abstention on the Security Council vote, nobody in Israel will pay any attention to anything he said. Had the speech come before the abstention, there would have been some possibility of it influencing the debate within Israel. But following the U.S. abstention, Kerry has lost all credibility with Israelis across the political spectrum. This is why his speech wasn’t even aired live on Israeli TV.

 

The speech itself was as one-sided as the abstention. It failed to mention the repeated offers from Israel to end the occupation and settlements, and to create a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza: Arafat’s rejection of the Clinton-Barak proposals in 2000-2001: and Abbas’ failure to respond to the Olmert offer in 2008. To fail to mention these important points is to demonstrate the bias of the speaker. Kerry also discussed the Palestinian refugee, without even mentioning the equal member of Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim countries.

 

Finally Kerry, seemed to confirm that in his view any changes from the pre-1967 lines would not be recognized without mutual agreement. This means that the prayer plaza at the Western Wall, the access roads to Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus and the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem are now all illegally occupied. This is, of course, a non-starter for Israelis. It is also wrong as a matter of history and law. Jordan captured these historically Jewish areas in 1948 when all the surrounding Arab countries attacked the new Jewish nation in an attempt to destroy it. When Jordan attacked Israel again in 1967, Israel recaptured these Jewish areas and allowed Jews to return to them. That is not an illegal occupation. It is a liberation.

 

By failing to distinguish between settlement expansion deep into the West Bank and reclaiming historical Jewish areas in the heart of Jerusalem, Kerry made the same fundamental error that the Security Council resolution made. His one-sidedness was also evident in his failure to press the Palestinian leadership to accept Netanyahu’s open offer to begin negotiations immediately with no pre-conditions. Instead, he seemed to justify the Palestinian unwillingness to enter into negotiations now.

 

Kerry’s pessimism about the two-state solution poses the danger of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The existing settlements — even if expanded — do not pose any danger to the two-state solution, if the Palestinians really want their own state more than they want there not to be a Jewish state. A contiguous Palestinian state is certainly possible even if all the existing settlements were to remain. Israel proved that in Gaza when it dismantled every single Jewish settlement and evacuated every single Jew from the Gaza strip.

 

It is simply a historical geographical and logical error to assume that continuing settlement building — whether one agrees with it or not, and I do not — dooms the two-state solution. To the contrary, settlement expansion is the consequence of Palestinian refusal to accept repeated offers from Israeli governments to end the occupation and settlements in exchange for peace. The primary barrier to the two-state solution remains the Palestinian unwillingness to accept the U.N. resolution of 1947 calling for two states for two peoples — the Jewish people and the Arab people. Kerry did not sufficiently address this issue. This means explicit recognition by Palestinians to accept Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

 

The most important point Kerry made on Wednesday is that the Obama administration will not unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, without an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. He also implied that U.S. will not push for any additional Security Council resolutions. Kerry’s speech is therefore just that: a speech with little substance and no importance. It will be quickly forgotten along with the many other one-sided condemnations of Israel that litter the historical record.

 

Kerry could have done a real service to peace if he had pressed the Palestinian leadership to come to the negotiation table as hard as he pressed the Israeli leadership to end settlement expansions. But his one-sided presentation did not move the peace process forward. Let us hope it does not set us back too far. What a missed opportunity and a tragedy that could have been easily avoided by a more balanced approach both at the Security Council and in the Kerry speech.                                  

                                                                       

Contents

 

 

JOINING THE JACKALS: THE CASE AGAINST U.N. RESOLUTION 2334 –

OPEN LETTER TO AMB. SAMANTHA POWER

Hillel C.  Neuer

UNWatch, Dec. 29, 2016

 

Dear Ambassador Power, I write in response to your abstention on Friday which allowed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel, and in response to the substantial explanation of vote that you delivered. With even further U.N. measures still possible before President Obama leaves office on January 20th, I urge you and the Administration—where you play an influential role as a member of the President’s Cabinet, and as one of President Obama’s most trusted advisors—to reconsider your approach.

 

Your speech on Friday had much to applaud. As you have vigorously done for three years, your remarks exposed in compelling detail the U.N. double standard applied to the Jewish state, which, you rightly said, “not only hurts Israel, it undermines the legitimacy of the United Nations itself.” As you noted last year on the 40th anniversary of the infamous Zionism is Racism resolution, at the U.N. “rarely a day goes by without some effort to delegitimize Israel.” On that occasion, you called for everyone to “relentlessly fight back” against this “ignorance and hatred.”

 

Your vote on Friday, however, makes a dramatic break with all of this. While it is perfectly legitimate to disagree with Israel about settlements, allowing Resolution 2334 to pass was morally wrong and strategically damaging. As set forth below, we believe the U.S. decision to acquiesce in the adoption of this lopsided resolution reverses decades of past practice, sets back the cause of peace, and harms the interests of Israelis, Palestinians, and Americans…

 

Immediate and compelling evidence demonstrates that the Administration has failed to achieve its objective, which you articulated as promoting the two-state solution. Secretary Kerry’s speech yesterday failed to acknowledge the telling fact that Israel’s mainstream society, including leading supporters of the two-state solution, have sharply rejected the U.N. resolution, and criticized the U.S. role in its advancement and adoption.

 

Consider: Isaac Herzog, leader of the opposition and chairman of the Labor Party—whom you recently recognized for being “so principled on behalf of peace”—called for Resolution 2334 to be annulled, saying it caused “severe damage.” Similarly, his colleague, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who led efforts to achieve a two-state solution at the Annapolis Conference, and who welcomed the 2008 Security Council resolution endorsing that summit, said by contrast that Friday’s U.S.-backed resolution “harms the interests of Israel,” “harms Jerusalem,” and threatens to haul Israeli officers to the International Criminal Court.

 

Yair Lapid, chair of the Yesh Atid opposition party, who has endorsed the Saudi-Arab Peace Initiative as a basis for peace talks, and who opposes the proposed Knesset bill to legalize outposts which you cited on Friday, called the U.N. resolution “dangerous”, “unfair, and “an act of hypocrisy.” Ehud Barak, who as prime minister went to Camp David in 2000 and extended an unprecedented and far-reaching peace offer to the Palestinians, called this resolution a “humiliating blow to Israel.” Amos Yadlin, head of Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies, the country’s most influential think tank, and another prominent supporter of the two-state solution, said that the resolution was “extremely problematic for Israel and the peace process alike,” and he accused President Obama of committing “a severe anti-Israeli move” which “harmed the United States’ staunchest ally in the Middle East.”

 

To be sure, all of these left-leaning figures faulted or admonished Prime Minister Netanyahu for failing to head off the blow. Yet neither President Obama, Secretary Kerry or anyone else in your Administration has yet addressed the astonishing fact that their closest Israeli political allies and interlocutors in promoting the peace process have uniformly denounced an action which you claim will advance their position…

 

By contrast, are you not troubled that among the first to endorse the resolution were the terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad? “Hamas commends the countries that voiced their opposition to the Israeli occupation’s aggressive settlement policy aimed against the Palestinian people,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. Hamas praised “the important about-face in the international position in favor of the Palestinian people.” Iran-backed Islamic Jihad welcomed the U.S.-backed resolution, saying, “It’s plain to see the world opinion is against Israel and its policies,” and “now Israel can be isolated and boycotted, as well as prosecuted in the international arena for all its crimes.”

 

12 Reasons Why the U.S. Should Have Vetoed U.N. Resolution 2334: To understand why, by contrast, so many supporters of Israeli-Palestinian peace oppose what you did on Friday, I urge you and the Administration to consider the following 12 points.

 

1. Resolution 2334 Encourages Palestinian Rejectionism, Undermines Negotiations: The resolution dangerously disincentivizes Palestinians to come to the negotiating table. Instead, Resolution 2334 will for the foreseeable future encourage them to await being handed the same or more by international fiat. This will feed into the Palestinian strategy of preferring to deal with international institutions over bilateral talks with Israel. Contrary to its stated objective, therefore, the resolution will only push negotiations further away.

 

In this regard, we recall that in 2011, your predecessor Susan Rice vetoed a similar resolution on the grounds that it risked “hardening the positions of both sides,” and “could encourage the parties to stay out of negotiations.” She said it was “unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians.” Though your speech claims that circumstances have now changed, many will see the only meaningful difference as the fact that the current transition period allows a president to make unpopular decisions at no political cost.

 

2. Resolution Fuels Palestinian Targeting of Israelis with BDS & International Prosecutions

Secretary of State John Kerry pledged this month to oppose any “biased, unfair resolution calculated to delegitimize Israel.” And though he likewise said on Friday after the vote that he is proud of “defending Israel against any efforts to undermine its security or legitimacy in international fora,” and “steadfastly opposing boycotts, divestment campaigns and sanctions targeting the State of Israel,” the fact is that these are precisely the efforts empowered by Resolution 2334.

 

Friday’s text not only provides the first Security Council endorsement of the scandalous 2004 ICJ advisory opinion, which denied Israel’s right to defend itself from Gaza rockets, but it implicitly encourages the International Criminal Court (ICC) to move forward in its preliminary examination of whether Israeli officials have engaged in the “war crime” of settlement building, and provides the same impetus to prosecutions in national courts that claim universal jurisdiction. If Tzipi Livni was already being served with UK arrest warrants before, Resolution 2334 will only aggravate anti-Israel lawfare. The U.S. should never have lent its hand to a campaign designed to delegitimize Israeli civil and military leaders as criminals…

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

 

Contents

         THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION FIRES A DANGEROUS PARTING SHOT                                                         

                                                           Editorial      

Washington Post, Dec. 23, 2016

 

President Obama’s decision to abstain on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements reverses decades of practice by both Democratic and Republican presidents. The United States vetoed past resolutions on the grounds that they unreasonably singled out Jewish communities in occupied territories as an obstacle to Middle East peace, and that U.N. action was more likely to impede than advance negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.

 

The measure, approved 14 to 0 by the Security Council Friday, is subject to the same criticism: It will encourage Palestinians to pursue more international sanctions against Israel rather than seriously consider the concessions necessary for statehood, and it will give a boost to the international boycott and divestment movement against the Jewish state, which has become a rallying cause for anti-Zionists. At the same time, it will almost certainly not stop Israeli construction in the West Bank, much less in East Jerusalem, where Jewish housing was also deemed by the resolution to be “a flagrant violation under international law.”

 

By abstaining, the administration did not explicitly support that position, which has not been U.S. policy since the Carter administration. In explaining the vote, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power pointed out that the council was sanctioning Israel even while failing to take action to stop a potential genocide in South Sudan or the slaughter in Aleppo, Syria. Yet in failing to veto the measure, the Obama administration set itself apart both from previous administrations and from the incoming presidency of Donald Trump, who spoke out strongly against the resolution.

 

A lame-duck White House may feel a radical change in policy is justified by Israel’s shift to the right under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Israel’s governing coalition is supporting legislation that would legalize dozens of settlements that Israel itself defines as illegal, because they were constructed on private Palestinian property. Mr. Netanyahu supported a partial settlement freeze for 10 months in 2009 and 2010 at Mr. Obama’s behest, but has since allowed construction, including in some areas deep in the West Bank.

 

Nevertheless, settlements do not explain the administration’s repeated failures to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace. The Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas proved unwilling to negotiate seriously even during the settlement freeze, and it refused to accept a framework for negotiations painstakingly drawn up by Secretary of State John F. Kerry in 2014. In past negotiations, both sides have acknowledged that any deal will involve the annexation by Israel of settlements near its borders, where most of the current construction takes place — something the U.N. resolution, which was pressed by the Palestinians, did not acknowledge or take into account.

 

Israeli officials charged that the abstention represented a vindictive parting shot by Mr. Obama at Mr. Netanyahu, with whom he has feuded more bitterly than he did with most U.S. adversaries. The vote could also be seen as an attempt to preempt Mr. Trump, who appears ready to shift U.S. policy to the opposite extreme after naming a militant advocate of the settlements as his ambassador to Israel. Whatever the motivation, Mr. Obama’s gesture is likely to do more harm than good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Chag Urim Sameach!

 

Contents      

     

On Topic Links

 

Full Text of John Kerry’s Speech on Middle East Peace, December 28, 2016: Times of Israel, Dec. 28, 2016 — In address as he nears end of term, secretary of state says Washington ‘cannot, in good conscience, do nothing and say nothing, when we see the hope of peace slipping away’

Donald Trump Tweets Support for Israel Ahead of Kerry Speech on Middle East: Ruth Eglash & Carol Morello, Washington Post, Dec. 28, 2016 —President-elect Donald Trump tweeted messages Wednesday showing his support for Israel and accusing President Obama of making inflammatory statements and damaging relations between Israel and the United States.

Israeli Ambassador: We’ll Give Trump Proof Obama Drove UN Vote (Video): Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2016—Israel’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that the country will present President-elect Donald Trump with “evidence” that the Obama administration orchestrated an anti-settlement resolution at the United Nations Security Council on Friday.

Obama Despises Israel Because He Despises the West: Ben Shapiro, National Review, Dec. 28, 2016—Barack Obama has done his best for nearly eight years to undermine the state of Israel. He’s signed a treaty that enshrines an Iranian path to a nuclear weapon while funding their global terrorist activities to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OBAMA’S “PARTING BETRAYAL” OF ISRAEL AT UN: AN ENDORSEMENT OF PALESTINIAN NARRATIVE

 

Obama’s Parting Betrayal of Israel: John Bolton, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2016 — Last Friday, on the eve of Hanukkah and Christmas, Barack Obama stabbed Israel in the front.

Obama’s War Against America: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 26, 2016 — In 1989, following her tenure as President Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick described how the Palestinians have used the UN to destroy Israel.

We Are Not Occupiers in Our Own Land: Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom, Dec. 25, 2016 — We can continue the argument over the settlements with the world of U.S. President Barack Obama and his supporters in legal and diplomatic language, rightfully protesting his hypocrisy and hoping for better under incoming President Donald Trump.

Obama’s Fitting Finish: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2016 — Barack Obama’s decision to abstain from, and therefore allow, last week’s vote to censure Israel at the U.N…

 

On Topic Links

 

The Dangers of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016): Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Dec. 26, 2016

Blame the New York Times for the Disgraceful Anti-Israel UN Security Council Vote: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Dec. 25, 2016

Rejecting the False Notion that Israel is Occupier: Alan Clemmons, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 26, 2016

Dershowitz: Obama Will Go Down In History As One Of The Worst Foreign Policy Presidents Ever: Huffington Post, Dec. 26, 2016

 

 

OBAMA’S PARTING BETRAYAL OF ISRAEL

John Bolton

Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2016

 

Last Friday, on the eve of Hanukkah and Christmas, Barack Obama stabbed Israel in the front. The departing president refused to veto United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334—a measure ostensibly about Israeli settlement policy, but clearly intended to tip the peace process toward the Palestinians. Its adoption wasn’t pretty. But, sadly, it was predictable.

 

Mr. Obama’s refusal to use Washington’s veto was more than a graceless parting gesture. Its consequences pose major challenges for American interests. President-elect Donald Trump should echo Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s defiant and ringing 1975 response to the U.N.’s “Zionism is racism” resolution: that America “does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act.”

 

Mr. Obama argues that Resolution 2334 continues a bipartisan American policy toward the Middle East. It does precisely the opposite. The White House has abandoned any pretense that the actual parties to the conflict must resolve their differences. Instead, the president has essentially endorsed the Palestinian politico-legal narrative about territory formerly under League of Nations’ mandate, but not already under Israeli control after the 1948-49 war of independence.

 

Resolution 2334 implicitly repeals the iconic Resolution 242, which affirmed, in the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War, that all affected nations, obviously including Israel, had a “right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” It provided further that Israel should withdraw “from territories occupied in the recent conflict”—but did not require withdrawal from “the” or “all” territories, thereby countenancing less-than-total withdrawal. In this way Resolution 242 embodied the “land for peace” theory central to America’s policy in the Middle East ever since.

 

By contrast, Resolution 2334 refuses to “recognize any changes to the [1967] lines, including those with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties through negotiations.” This language effectively defines Israel’s borders, even while superficially affirming direct talks. Chatter about Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is nothing but a truism, equally applicable to the U.S. and Canada, or to any nations resolving trivial border disputes. There can be no “land for peace”—with Israel retroceding territory in exchange for peace, as in the 1979 Camp David agreement with Egypt—if the land is not legitimately Israel’s to give up in the first place. Anti-Israel imagineers have used this linguistic jujitsu as their central tactic since 1967, trying to create “facts on the ground” in the U.N.’s corridors rather than by actually negotiating with Israel. Mr. Obama has given them an indefinite hall pass.

 

The Trump administration could veto future Security Council measures that extend Resolution 2334 (e.g., purportedly recognizing a Palestinian state). Mr. Trump could also veto efforts to implement Resolution 2334 (e.g., the sanctions for what it calls Israel’s “blatant violation under international law”). Still, there are significant dangers. Other U.N. bodies, such as the General Assembly and the numerous specialized agencies where America has no veto, can carry Resolution 2334 forward. Even more perilous is that individual nations or the European Union can legislate their own sanctions under Resolution 2334’s provision that “all States” should “distinguish in their relevant dealings” between Israel’s territory “and the territories occupied since 1967.” This is a hunting license to ostracize Israel from the international economic system, exposing it and its citizens to incalculable personal and financial risk.

 

Once in office, President Trump should act urgently to mitigate or reverse Resolution 2334’s consequences. Mr. Obama has made this significantly harder by rendering America complicit in assaulting Israel. Nonetheless, handled properly, there is an escape from both the current danger zone and the wasteland in which the search for Middle East peace has long wandered. First, there must be consequences for the adoption of Resolution 2334. The Trump administration should move to repeal the resolution, giving the 14 countries that supported it a chance to correct their error. Nations that affirm their votes should have their relations with Washington adjusted accordingly. In some cases this might involve vigorous diplomatic protests. But the main perpetrators in particular should face more tangible consequences.

 

As for the United Nations itself, if this mistake is not fixed the U.S. should withhold at least its assessed contributions to the U.N.—which amount to about $3 billion annually or 22%-25% of its total regular and peacekeeping budgets. Meanwhile, Washington should continue funding specialized agencies such as the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, if only to dissuade them from entering the Resolution 2334 swamp. Second, Mr. Trump should unambiguously reject Mr. Obama’s view that Resolution 2334 is justified to save the “two-state solution.” That goal, at best, has been on life-support for years. After Mr. Obama’s provocation, its life expectancy might now be only until Jan. 20. And good riddance. This dead-end vision, by conjuring an imaginary state with zero economic viability, has harmed not only Israel but also the Palestinians, the principal intended beneficiaries.

 

Far better to essay a “three-state solution,” returning Gaza to Egypt and giving those parts of the West Bank that Israel is prepared to cede to Jordan. By attaching Palestinian lands to real economies (not a make-believe one), average Palestinians (not their political elite), will have a true chance for a better future. Other alternatives to the two-state approach should also be considered. Mr. Obama loves using the word “pivot” for his ever-changing priorities. It is now up to Mr. Trump to pivot away from his predecessor’s disastrous policies on Israel. Taking up the challenge will be difficult, but well worth the effort for America and its friends world-wide.   

                                                           

Contents                                                                                                                                                                                         

OBAMA’S WAR AGAINST AMERICA

Caroline B. Glick                                                                                        

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 26, 2016

 

In 1989, following her tenure as President Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick described how the Palestinians have used the UN to destroy Israel. Following outgoing US President Barack Obama’s assault on Israel at the UN Security Council last Friday, longtime UN observer Claudia Rossett wrote an important article at PJMedia where she recalled Kirkpatrick’s words. In “How the PLO was legitimized,” published in Commentary, Kirkpatrick said that Yasser Arafat and the PLO worked “to come to power through international diplomacy – reinforced by murder.”

 

Kirkpatrick explained, “The long march through the UN has produced many benefits for the PLO. It has created a people where there was none; a claim where there was none. Now the PLO is seeking to create a state where there already is one. That will take more than resolutions and more than an ‘international peace conference.’ But having succeeded so well over the years in its campaign to delegitimize Israel, the PLO might yet also succeed in bringing the campaign to a triumphant conclusion, with consequences for the Jewish state that would be nothing short of catastrophic.”

 

As Rossett noted, in falsely arguing that Obama’s support for Friday’s UN Security Council Resolution 2334 is in line with Reagan’s policies, Obama’s UN Ambassador Samantha Power deliberately distorted the historical record of US policy toward Israel and the PLO-led UN onslaught against the Jewish state. As Rosett noted, in stark contrast to Power’s self-serving lie, neither Reagan nor George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton nor George W. Bush would have ever countenanced a resolution like 2334.

 

Obama’s predecessors’ opposition to the war against Israel at the UN was not merely an expression of their support for Israel. They acted also out of a fealty to US power, which is directly targeted by that war.

It is critical that we understand how this is the case, and why the implications of Resolution 2334 are disastrous to the US itself. Resolution 2334 is being presented as an “anti-settlement” resolution. But it is not an anti-settlement resolution.

 

Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and neighborhoods in Jerusalem are being used – as they always have been used – as a means of delegitimizing the Jewish state as a whole, and legitimizing Palestinian terrorists and Islamic terrorists more generally. Resolution 2334 serves to criminalize Israel and its people and to undermine Israel’s right to exist, while embracing Palestinian terrorists and empowering them in their war to annihilate Israel. America’s historic refusal to countenance such actions at the UN Security was never a purely altruistic position. It was also a stand for American power and the inherent justice of American superpower status and global leadership.

 

Throughout most of its history, the UN has served as a proxy battlefield first of the Cold War, and since the destruction of the Soviet Union, for the war against the US-led free world. Beginning in the early 1960s, the Soviets viewed the political war against Israel at the UN as a means to undermine the moral basis for the US-led West. If Israel, the only human rights defending state in the Middle East, and the US’s only stable ally in the region could be delegitimized, then the very coherence of the US-led Western claim to moral superiority against the totalitarian Soviet empire would be undone.

 

Hence, the first Soviet attempt at the UN to castigate Zionism, the Jewish national liberation movement, as a form of racism was made in 1965, two years before Israel took control of Judea and Samaria and united Jerusalem in the Six Day War. That attempt failed. But nine years later the wording first raised in 1965 was adopted by the UN General Assembly which passed resolution 3379 slandering libeled Zionism as “a form of racism.”

 

With their automatic majority in the General Assembly and all other UN organs, the Soviets used the Palestinian war against Israel as a proxy for their war against America. After the demise of the Soviet Union, the Islamic bloc, backed by members of the former Soviet bloc, the non-aligned bloc and the Europeans continued their campaign. The only thing that kept them from winning was the US and its Security Council veto. When Obama chose to lead the anti-Israel lynch mob at the Security Council last week, he did more than deliver the PLO terrorist organization its greatest victory to date against Israel. He delivered a strategic victory to the anti-American forces that seek to destroy the coherence of American superpower status. That is, he carried out a strategic strike on American power.

 

By leading the gang rape of Israel on Friday, Obama undermined the rationale for American power. Why should the US assert a sovereign right to stand against the radical forces that control the UN? If US agrees that Israel is committing a crime by respecting the civil and human rights of its citizens to live in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, then how can America claim that it has the right to defend its own rights and interests, when those clash with the views of the vast majority of state members of the UN? Following Obama’s assault on Israel Friday, Senators Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz called for the US to end its financial support for the UN at least until the Security Council abrogates Resolution 2334. They are correct.

 

But it isn’t anger at how Obama has and is expected to continue to use the Security Council to imperil Israel that should inform the incoming Trump administration’s actions. Rather a determination to maintain US power and secure its national security requires that the UN be permanently defunded and defanged. For eight years, through his embrace and empowerment of US enemies, betrayal and weakening of US allies, emaciation of the US armed forces and repeated apologies for America’s past assertions of global leadership, Obama has waged a determined war against US superpower status. The last vestige of the strategic and moral rationale for US power was the protection America afforded Israel at the Security Council.

 

Now with that gone, it has become a strategic imperative for the US to render the UN irrelevant. This can only be undertaken by permanently defunding this corrupt institution and using the US’s Security Council veto to end the UN’s role as the arbiter of international peace and security, by among other things, ending the deployment of UN forces to battle zones. Only by stripping the UN of its financial wherewithal to assault US allies and American interests and by denying it the institutional and operational capacity to serve as an arbiter of disputes morally and legally superior to the US can America protect its sovereignty and advance its interests…

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

                                   

                                                                       

Contents

 

WE ARE NOT OCCUPIERS IN OUR OWN LAND

Nadav Shragai

Israel Hayom, Dec. 25, 2016

 

We can continue the argument over the settlements with the world of U.S. President Barack Obama and his supporters in legal and diplomatic language, rightfully protesting his hypocrisy and hoping for better under incoming President Donald Trump. But all this cannot be done without screaming in the ears of the world — especially during Hanukkah — a single basic truth, as Simon the Hasmonean put it some 2,200 years ago: "We have not taken foreign territory or any alien property, but have occupied our ancestral heritage, for some time unjustly wrested from us by our enemies; now that we have a favorable opportunity, we are merely recovering our ancestral heritage" (Maccabees 1, 15:33-34).

 

Our real and imagined friends in the United States and all over the world must finally hear that the historical, religious, legal and emotional links the nation of Israel has to Hebron, Beit-el, Shiloh and of course, Jerusalem, is no less than that of the Palestinians. They must hear that we are not occupiers in our own land, and that we are connected to it with bonds of love, the Bible, heritage and nature; that the settlements in Judea and Samaria, as elsewhere in the Land of Israel, are the realization of justice and natural rights.

 

This basic truth relating to the Land of Israel in its entirety will not change due to a U.N. resolution made on the Sabbath. Morally speaking, there is no difference between settlement in the Land of Israel, where Arabs lived at the beginning of the last century, and settlement in the Land of Israel, where Arabs live in the current century. There is no difference between settling Petach Tikva, which Zionist leader Moshe Smilansky described a few generations ago as a "small Arab settlement between Arab villages," and large settlements in Judea and Samaria.

 

Our justice and our natural rights are not based on security needs, nor on international law. They may not be considered to be "realpolitik" today, but they are explicitly a part of the discourse on rights, whose content, essence and language must once again be laid on the table. What Simon the Hasmonean understood more than 2,000 years ago, and what our sage Rashi understood in his interpretation of the first verse in Genesis some 1,000 years ago, followed by Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion and later Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and certainly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is that we exist here by way of force and of diplomacy, but, above all, we exist here by right.      

                                               

Contents

                         OBAMA’S FITTING FINISH                                               

                                    Bret Stephens        

Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2016

 

Barack Obama’s decision to abstain from, and therefore allow, last week’s vote to censure Israel at the U.N. Security Council is a fitting capstone for what’s left of his foreign policy. Strategic half-measures, underhanded tactics and moralizing gestures have been the president’s style from the beginning. Israelis aren’t the only people to feel betrayed by the results.

Also betrayed: Iranians, whose 2009 Green Revolution in heroic protest of a stolen election Mr. Obama conspicuously failed to endorse for fear of offending the ruling theocracy. Iraqis, who were assured of a diplomatic surge to consolidate the gains of the military surge, but who ceased to be of any interest to Mr. Obama the moment U.S. troops were withdrawn, and only concerned him again when ISIS neared the gates of Baghdad.

 

Syrians, whose initially peaceful uprising against anti-American dictator Bashar Assad Mr. Obama refused to embrace, and whose initially moderate-led uprising Mr. Obama failed to support, and whose sarin- and chlorine-gassed children Mr. Obama refused to rescue, his own red lines notwithstanding. Ukrainians, who gave up their nuclear weapons in 1994 with formal U.S. assurances that their “existing borders” would be guaranteed, only to see Mr. Obama refuse to supply them with defensive weapons when Vladimir Putin invaded their territory 20 years later.

 

Pro-American Arab leaders, who expected better than to be given ultimatums from Washington to step down, and who didn’t anticipate the administration’s tilt toward the Muslim Brotherhood as a legitimate political opposition, and toward Tehran as a responsible negotiating partner.

 

Most betrayed: Americans. Mr. Obama promised a responsible end to the war in Iraq. We are again fighting in Iraq. He promised victory in Afghanistan. The Taliban are winning. He promised a reset with Russia. We are enemies again. He promised the containment of Iran. We are witnessing its ascendancy in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. He promised a world free of nuclear weapons. We are stumbling into another age of nuclear proliferation. He promised al Qaeda on a path to defeat. Jihad has never been so rampant and deadly. These are the results. They would be easier to forgive if they hadn’t so often been reached by disingenuous and dishonorable means.

 

The administration was deceptive about the motives for the 2012 Benghazi attack. It was deceptive about Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s service record, and the considerations that led it to exchange five Taliban leaders for his freedom. It was deceptive about when it began nuclear negotiations with Iran. It was deceptive about the terms of the deal. It continues to be deceptive about the fundamental aim of the agreement, which has less to do with curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions than with aligning Washington’s interests with Tehran’s. Now the administration is likely being deceptive about last week’s U.N. vote, claiming it did not promote, craft or orchestrate a resolution that treats the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City as a settlement in illegally occupied territory. Yet in November, John Kerry had a long talk on the subject with the foreign minister of New Zealand, one of the resolution’s sponsors.

 

“One of the closed-door discussions between United States Secretary of State John Kerry and the New Zealand government today was a potential resolution by the United Nations Security Council on a two-state solution for the Israel-Palestine conflict,” the New Zealand Herald reported last month. “‘It is a conversation we are engaged in deeply and we’ve spent some time talking to Secretary Kerry about where the U.S. might go on this,’” the paper added, quoting Foreign Minister Murray McCully. The Israelis claim to have more evidence along these lines. If so, it means the administration no longer bothers to lie convincingly.

 

Even this might be excusable, if Mr. Obama at least had the courage of his mistaken convictions, or if his deception were in the service of a worthier end. Instead, we have the spectacle of the U.S. government hiding behind the skirts of the foreign minister of New Zealand—along with eminent co-sponsors, Venezuela, Malaysia and Senegal—in order to embarrass and endanger a democratic ally in a forum where that ally is already isolated and bullied. In the catalog of low points in American diplomacy, this one ranks high.

 

After the Carter administration pulled a similar stunt against Israel at the Security Council in December 1980, the Washington Post published an editorial that does the paper honor today. “It cannot be denied,” the editors wrote, “that there is a pack and that it hounds Israel shamelessly and that this makes it very serious when the United States joins it.” The editorial was titled “Joining the Jackals.” Unlike Mr. Carter, Mr. Obama hasn’t joined the jackals. He has merely opened the door wide to them, whether at the U.N. or in the skies over Syria or in the killing fields in Ukraine. The United States abstains: What a fitting finish to this ruinous presidency.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Chag Urim Sameach!

 

Contents          

 

On Topic Links

 

The Dangers of UN Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016): Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Dec. 26, 2016—The December 23, 2016, resolution adopted by the UN Security Council regarding Israel’s settlement policy has been received with mixed and even extreme reactions.  [Click to read the text of UN Security Council Resolution 2334]

Blame the New York Times for the Disgraceful Anti-Israel UN Security Council Vote: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Dec. 25, 2016— In the aftermath of Friday’s disastrous and disgraceful UN Security Council vote condemning Israel, a competition has emerged over who deserves the blame. In the aftermath of Friday’s disastrous and disgraceful UN Security Council vote condemning Israel, a competition has emerged over who deserves the blame.

Rejecting the False Notion that Israel is Occupier: Alan Clemmons, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 26, 2016—President Obama against the State of Israel, has rightly evoked great anger across all parts of the American political spectrum.

Dershowitz: Obama Will Go Down In History As One Of The Worst Foreign Policy Presidents Ever: Huffington Post, Dec. 26, 2016—Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz slammed President Obama for "stabbing Israel in the back" on Monday morning's edition of 'Fox & Friends.' "[History will see President Obama] as one of the worst foreign policy presidents ever," Dershowitz said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISRAEL EXTINGUISHES “TERROR FIRES”; MIDDLE EAST BURNS AS OBAMA LEAVES OFFICE

 

Israel’s Terror Fires: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Nov. 27, 2016 — The primary culprit for the wave of fires that swept through Israel in recent days was nature, not a criminal mind or the unpreparedness of first responders.

As Trump Charts New Mideast Policy, White House Contemplates Sabotage: Gregg Roman, Miami Herald, Nov. 21, 2016— After their first meeting, with cameras broadcasting their every word across the globe, President Obama turned to Donald Trump and pledged "to do everything we can to help you succeed."

Obama's Distorted Rhetoric: Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Nov. 16, 2016— For many years to come, doctoral dissertations and other studies will be written about the Obama administration.

Tackling the Middle East after the Election: Clifford Smith, American Spectator, Nov. 4, 2016— The next U.S. president will have a difficult job in the Middle East.

 

On Topic Links

 

ISIS: A catastrophe for Sunnis: Liz Sly, Washington Post, Nov. 23, 2016

Five Rules to Get State-Building Right: Roger B. Myerson & J. Kael Weston, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2016

In Letter to Outgoing UN Chief, Arab Nations Slam Iran for Support of Mideast Terrorism, Say Islamic Republic Must Be Confronted: Barney Breen-Portnoy, Algemeiner, Nov. 16, 2016

An Economic Ultimatum for the Arab World: Marwan Muasher, Project Syndicate, Nov. 16, 2016

 

 

ISRAEL’S TERROR FIRES

Jonathan S. Tobin                                                                           

Commentary, Nov. 27, 2016

 

The primary culprit for the wave of fires that swept through Israel in recent days was nature, not a criminal mind or the unpreparedness of first responders. But by the end of last week it was equally apparent that wildfires were spreading not solely due to the winds and dry conditions but as a result of politically inspired arson. Some 32,000 acres of natural brush and forests were destroyed in the Judean Hills near Jerusalem, as well as in the Haifa region. Hundreds of Israelis were injured (though thankfully none killed) and hundreds of homes were destroyed as tens of thousands were forced to evacuate as the fires spread. But as bad as the original fires that were the result of the weather were, they were made worse by what security officials say was an arson spree by Palestinians from the West Bank and some Israeli Arabs. The authorities reportedly detained at least 35 suspects in connection with the fires. Palestinian social media also seems to have played at least a small part in encouraging the fires that were celebrated by many Arabs.

 

As scary as the notion of terrorists using fire rather than explosives might be, it would probably be a mistake to characterize what happened last week as an organized “arson intifada.” Along with the assistance provided to Israel by friendly countries such as the United States, the Palestinian Authority also sent crews to help put out fires that could spread to territory under its control as well as assisting Israel in dealing with an arson fire at one West Bank settlement. There is no evidence of a concerted effort on the part of Hamas or Fatah to start the fires. Rather, like the so-called “stabbing intifada” that afflicted Israel over the course of the last year (and which appears to have died down), the willingness of dozens of individuals to start fires they hope will injure Jews or destroy their property is more the result of a Palestinian political culture in which hate and violence directed at Israelis is both encouraged and praised.

 

It is appropriate for Israeli leaders to make it clear that Jews will not be burned out of their country anymore than they can be bombed out of it. This isn’t the first instance of Palestinians using arson as a terror tactic and it probably also won’t be the last. But while no one should underestimate the determination of Israelis to stand fast in the face of terror, the lesson of the last week is that there is that the conflict between two peoples over one land is still so bitter that many some Arabs appear to be still willing to destroy it rather than let Jews live there in peace.

 

                                                           

Contents                                                                                                                                                 

AS TRUMP CHARTS NEW MIDEAST POLICY,

WHITE HOUSE CONTEMPLATES SABOTAGE                    

Gregg Roman                                                                          

Miami Herald, Nov. 21, 2016

 

After their first meeting, with cameras broadcasting their every word across the globe, President Obama turned to Donald Trump and pledged "to do everything we can to help you succeed." Media outlets across the spectrum fawned over his magnanimity. Guess again. Washington DC insiders widely expect the president to launch a bold effort to constrain the president-elect's options in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by supporting unilateral international recognition of Palestinian statehood, possibly in the UN Security Council.

 

U.S. policy has long maintained that a Palestinian state should be established in conjunction with a comprehensive peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). While Israel has said time and time again that it is eager to live alongside a Palestinian state, the Palestinian leadership has remained unwilling to make the necessary concessions for a final status agreement, such as accepting the existence of a Jewish state alongside their own. Indeed, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has steadfastly maintained that millions of Palestinians must have the "right of return" to Israel – a move that would effectively eviscerate a Jewish Israel.

 

Instead of pursuing a peaceful path to statehood, Palestinian leaders have incited violence against Israel, while trying to persuade the rest of the world to recognize Palestinian statehood in the absence of peace. Amid surging anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, European governments have come under intense pressure to recognize a Palestinian state. Sweden was the first Western European government to do so in 2014. Legislatures in the United Kingdom, Spain, and France have passed (largely non-binding) resolutions doing so.

 

Successive U.S. administrations have vocally opposed unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations and other international actors, maintaining correctly that it would irreparably damage the prospects for a viable, secure two-state solution.

 

In a position paper released last week, the Trump campaign emphasized that "the U.S. cannot support the creation of a new state where terrorism is financially incentivized, terrorists are celebrated by political parties and government institutions, and the corrupt diversion of foreign aid is rampant," pledged to veto any UN action that unfairly targets Israel, and affirmed that Palestinians must first "renounce violence against Israel or recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state" before being granted statehood.

 

In seeking to overturn longstanding precedent and thwart the expressed policy positions of his successor, Obama presumably hopes that supporting (or not vetoing) a UN Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood will create an irreversible fait accompli that will eventually spur Israel to make concessions, like a settlement freeze, which will in turn strengthen moderates on the Palestinian side.

 

Unilateral statehood recognition communicates to Palestinian leaders that they don't need to concede anything. It's the same thinking that led the United States to make concession after concession in the Iran nuclear deal, and it is likely to backfire in the same way. Unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will communicate to Palestinian leaders that they do not need to concede anything and validate the use and incitement of violence, vindicating hardliners. Until the Palestinian leadership can recognize and accept a Jewish state in the land of Israel, the United States must continue working to prevent international recognition of a Palestinian state.

 

A Trump national security adviser warned the Obama administration last week not "to try to push through agenda items that are contrary to the president-elect's positions." President-elect Trump should follow up by publicly reaffirming that his administration will vigorously oppose unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood and will not be bound by commitments the current administration has made or will make regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The rest of us should do our part by calling on President Obama to respect the will of voters and allow his duly-elected successor to chart a new course in Mideast policy without any impediments.                          

 

Contents                                                                           

OBAMA'S DISTORTED RHETORIC                                                                                            

Manfred Gerstenfeld                                                                                                                     

Arutz Sheva, Nov. 16, 2016

 

For many years to come, doctoral dissertations and other studies will be written about the Obama administration. As rhetoric is one of President Barack Obama’s greatest skills, there is also much need for analysis of statements he made during his presidency. This should, as well, include what Obama did not say, as he has systematically ignored evident facts. Remaining silent about them constituted a major distortion of reality.

 

How Obama spoke about the Middle East and Muslims, what he did and what he did not say or do, is not only of interest to Israelis and Jews. It is also of great relevance to many others. In an article of limited size, one can only look at a few aspects of Obama’s ex‎pressions. Even these need further in-depth investigation.

 

The “Hope” poster created in 2008 by street artist Shepard Fairey became iconic for Obama, even though it was never officially adopted by his campaign.  One word Obama used frequently was “change.” In his victory speech after being elected in November 2008 Obama said that “change has come to America.” He also spoke of changing the world, for instance in 2008 and in 2016.

 

Obama has brought no hope to the Middle East. To the contrary it has changed greatly for the worse under his presidency. The region is now far more chaotic than it was when he became President. Hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the Middle East during the Obama presidency, mainly in Syria, but also in Iraq and other countries. The U.S has conducted airstrikes on seven countries from 2009 until today: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria.

 

 

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, the po‎sition of Russia in the Middle East was greatly weakened. Putin’s policies have enabled Russia to become a leading player in the Syrian civil war. It now has an anti-aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea to serve its ambitions. The flawed policies of the Obama administration made this possible.

 

In 2011 the United States moved away from decades of support for American ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. That facilitated the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is currently considered a terrorist group in Egypt. In 2013, field marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Mursi after mass protests against the latter’s rule. The Egyptian Army and Sisi, now Egypt’s President, have greatly reduced the dangers of this extremist Muslim organization. Yet his government is largely ignored by the Obama administration. There are various indications of his administration’s sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood, the breeding ground of most Islamic terrorist organizations, including ISIS.

 

Obama’s distorted view of the Muslim world was already apparent early in his presidency. In his 2009 Cairo speech Obama apologized for Western “colonialism,” and understated the major criminality prev‎alent within many parts of the Muslim world.

Obama applied double standards when he consistently ignored many important facts concerning the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. He demanded that the Israeli government stop building in the "settlements". When he visited Israel and the Palestinian Autority territories in 2013 his be‎havior and rhetoric betrayed these double standards.

 

A thorough investigation is required about the American interference in the 2015 Israeli elections. In that year, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would not build any new "settlements in the West Bank". Yet the Obama Administration regularly condemns Israeli building in the territories, even if minor.

 

In a major interview he gave to Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic all Obama could say about the Palestinian Arabs was the caricature remark: “The Palestinians are not the easiest of partners.” Not a word by Obama about the fact that the largest party Hamas is a genocidal Islamo-Nazi movement. Not a word about the glorification of murderers of Israeli civilians by the Palestinian Authority. Nor has Obama ever demanded that various Arab or Muslim countries stop murderous anti-Semitic incitement.

 

Obama has defended his criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu arguing that such criticism gives him credibility when defending the Jewish state in the world arena. According to both the State Department definition of anti-Semitism and the IHRA definition which needed the agreement of the U.S government to pass, Obama’s double standards condemning Israel while remaining largely silent about the many huge crimes in parts of the Muslim world qualify as anti-Semitic.

 

One subject which should be investigated in far more detail is to what extent Obama’s frequent criticism of Israel has contributed to the anti-Israel mutation of anti-Semitism on campuses in the United States. Another topic for investigation of Obama’s rhetoric concerns the major persecution of Christians in the Muslim world that took place during his presidency. One would have to check whether it was entirely or largely ignored. Part of his whitewashing technique was the doubtful claim that ISIS and Al Qaeda distort Islam. Obama was also silent regarding the frequent, radical, anti-Semitic hatred emerging from large parts of the Muslim world.

 

Obama avoids linking terrorism to Islam. He has admitted that he refrains from using the words “Islamic terror” in describing Middle East extremism. The Obama administration has referred to terror attacks by Muslims as “lone wolf attacks” and refused to use the term “radical Islam.” The terms “Islam” and “jihad,” “Islamic extremism,” “radical Islamic terrorism,” and “radical Islam” have been banned from US Security documents.

 

Obama does not remain largely silent about Muslim criminality because he is ignorant or uneducated in these matters. He does so intentionally. In the interview with Obama, Goldberg mentioned that Obama has not come out against the huge criminality in large parts of the Muslim world in order not to “exacerbate anti-Muslim xenophobia.” During his first trip to a mosque while in office, Obama said that Muslim-Americans were being "targeted and blamed for the acts of a few". In a 2012 speech to the UN General Assembly, Obama said, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” This contrasted with his structural silence about the anti-Semitic hatred and other slander coming out of large parts of the Muslim world.

 

In a speech to the American people after the cruel murder of journalist Jim Foley by the ISIS movement, Obama said, “No faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” One can only hope that the Trump Administration will make it clear that much of the world’s terror is linked to Islam and that this is a factor in changing the world for the worse. In his first meeting with the press after the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, Obama had advice for him, which included maintaining “a commitment to reason and facts and analysis.” If Obama had applied that advice himself he would have spoken often and truthfully about the huge problems emanating from parts of the Muslim world.

 

The above are not more than fragments which require both further investigations and far more profound analysis. Another major issue, though not in the category of rhetoric, is to what extent Obama has saddled the world through the agreement with Iran with a huge future problem. Much depends however on what the Trump administration will do concerning this matter.

 

 

Contents           

             

TACKLING THE MIDDLE EAST AFTER THE ELECTION                                                             

Clifford Smith                                                                                           

American Spectator, Nov. 4, 2016

 

The next U.S. president will have a difficult job in the Middle East. The Obama administration's failure to appreciate the long-term consequences of its actions (and inactions) have allowed forces unfriendly to the United States to make unprecedented strategic, political, and even territorial gains.

 

The Obama administration's recently reaffirmed strategy toward ISIS has required Iraq's security forces to spend two years gradually getting the upper hand over an enemy they outnumber well over 10 to 1. Nonetheless, ISIS is on the verge of losing Mosul. The next administration should help the Iraqi Government consolidate these gains, even if it means more boots on the ground. Additionally, it should get over our hang-up about providing heavy weapons to Kurdish Peshmerga who have proven themselves loyal U.S. allies time and again.

 

In Syria, the years-long conflagration and the Obama administration's failure to deter heavy Russian military intervention has left the next administration with few good options. The status quo is producing not only a cataclysmic death toll, but also a massive refugee crisis that threatens political stability in Europe …

 

Unfriendly forces have made major strategic, political, and territorial gains in the Middle East. A longer-term problem is what to do with the Islamist, increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, the man responsible for channeling the flow of refugees from Syria into Europe. This longstanding NATO "ally" has clearly jumped off the secular democratic train. The historic role of the military in preserving secular democracy is a thing of the past.

 

Erdogan's Turkey is busy establishing itself as an Islamist force, oppressing its Kurdish minority, and even threatening to expand into Iraq and other surrounding areas. The effects are aiding ISIS and further destabilizing the region. Erdogan nevertheless has the gall to actively provoke nearby Russian forces and then call on NATO for support. This kind of behavior risks drawing the West into a much larger conflict with Russia. The next administration will be forced to redefine our relationship with Turkey. It should work with our European allies to exert maximum pressure on Erdogan to change course. If he won't, we must disentangle ourselves from Turkey, including working to end its NATO membership.

 

Iran is arguably the gravest immediate and long-term threat to American security in the region. The Iran deal is not working to moderate the regime or end the threat posed by the Islamic Republic's nuclear program, and the price keeps getting higher. The costs now include ransom payments, allowing Iran access to ballistic missiles, and increased Iranian terror financing. Though international sanctions have been lifted and funds transferred, the U.S. can still back out of the agreement. The next president must prioritize the rollback of Iran's aggressive bid for regional hegemony.

 

But this will not be enough — the next president must prioritize the rollback of Iran's nuclear program, as well as its aggressive bid for regional hegemony, for which Syria, Iraq, and Yemen are paying a devastating daily toll. A robust effort to weaken Iran (like opposition to the Iran deal last year) is sure to command large, bipartisan majorities. The Iranian regime is not popular at home or in the region, and a thousand signs, small and large, show its vulnerability. The next administration should use all its leverage working with our allies and the regime's opponents, internal and external, to change course. Of course, as the existential threat of a nuclear-armed Iran draws nearer, the military option must be considered.

 

No individual policy decision, or series of decisions, will fix these problems. As former Secretary of State Dean Acheson said, "At the top there are no easy choices. All are between evils, the consequences of which are hard to judge." However, a forward-looking policy that prioritizes long-term interests over expediency can reassert America's leadership and help improve our lot in the Middle East, and that of those in the region who want peace and stability. The U.S. is still the "indispensable nation."

 

On Topic Links

 

ISIS: A catastrophe for Sunnis: Liz Sly, Washington Post, Nov. 23, 2016 —he Islamic State is being crushed, its fighters are in retreat and the caliphate it sought to build in the image of a bygone glory is crumbling. The biggest losers, however, are not the militants, who will fulfill their dreams of death or slink into the desert to regroup, but the millions of ordinary Sunnis whose lives have been ravaged by their murderous rampage.

Five Rules to Get State-Building Right: Roger B. Myerson & J. Kael Weston, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 20, 2016—In the wake of long, painful wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are understandably wary of the idea of state-building. But the issue won’t go away.

In Letter to Outgoing UN Chief, Arab Nations Slam Iran for Support of Mideast Terrorism, Say Islamic Republic Must Be Confronted: Barney Breen-Portnoy, Algemeiner, Nov. 16, 2016 —Iran is actively wreaking havoc across the Middle East, a group of 11 Arab nations declared in a letter sent recently to outgoing UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

An Economic Ultimatum for the Arab World: Marwan Muasher, Project Syndicate, Nov. 16, 2016—If Middle Eastern countries do not start making real progress on fundamental political and economic reforms, further regional turmoil is inevitable. With the rentier systems that governments have maintained for decades now at a breaking point, policymakers must begin the difficult, but not impossible, process of establishing new social contracts.

 

 

PERES, A MAN OF SECURITY & PEACE, FATHERED ISRAEL’S “DELIBERATELY AMBIGUOUS” NUCLEAR PROGRAM; “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

On Topic Links

 

A Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed, 2016: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Oct. 10, 2016

A Peek Inside the IDF 8200's Combat Intelligence Unit: Israel Defense, Oct. 12, 2016

Meet the IDF’s ‘Beduin Battalion’: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 13, 2016

Trump’s Moment of Truth: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12, 2016

 

 

 

PERES, A MAN OF PEACE, MADE ISRAEL A MILITARY POWERHOUSE

Judah Ari Gross

Times of Israel, Sept. 28, 2016

 

Before Shimon Peres became the man of peace extolled by world leaders for his dedication to coexistence, he was a man of defense and security, setting up some of Israel’s most important military victories and strategic assets. To many, Peres is synonymous with the 1993 Oslo Peace Accords, for which he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize, and his eponymous Center for Peace, which promotes dialogue and opportunities for both Israelis and Palestinians. Yet few people in Israel have contributed more to the country’s military capabilities.

 

Following the War of Independence, Peres helped build the country’s air force into the world-renowned juggernaut that it is today and allegedly gave Israel the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons, which reportedly give the country second-strike capabilities in the case of an attack. “Shimon Peres designed the character and values of the Defense Ministry; he led the strengthening and build-up of the IDF’s power and its strategic capabilities,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement. “He developed security relationships with other nations in the world and took a central role in the creation of the Israel defense industries,” the ministry said in its statement.

 

After a brief stint in the Haganah and the fledgling Israel Defense Force, Peres led a Defense Ministry delegation to the United States in 1950 and soon after his return was named deputy director-general of the ministry in 1952. He became director-general a year later and in that capacity laid the groundwork for turning Israel’s immature, poorly supplied military into the technological powerhouse the IDF has become.

 

In the early 1950s, Peres started a relationship with the French government that allegedly resulted in the creation of Israel’s nuclear arsenal and in the purchase of the fighter jets and bombers to replace the IDF’s antiquated World War II-era planes, which would go on to be instrumental in Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War. Entering the position at age 29, Peres remains the youngest director-general of the Defense Ministry in Israel’s history. But his young age and inexperience did not stop him from setting up Israel’s defense ties with France essentially singlehandedly, according to Guy Ziv, an associate professor at American University’s School of International Service. “What makes this case particularly compelling is not merely that one individual yielded disproportionate influence over the relations beween the two countries, but also that this individual was not a senior policy-maker,” Ziv wrote in a 2010 article in the Journal of Contemporary History.

 

During the early 1950s, the Foreign Ministry and other high-level Israeli officials were essentially banging their heads against the wall trying to convince the United States to sell artillery, aircraft, guns and tanks to the young Jewish state. Peres, who had tried desperately and failed to purchase weapons from the United States in 1950, turned instead to France, the “friendliest country today,” as he referred to it in a 1954 Defense Ministry meeting. The young Peres had to convince then-defense ministers Pinhas Lavon and David Ben-Gurion that the “French connection,” and not the American, was the way to go, according to Ziv.

 

“It was natural that the people of post-war France, who had themselves tasted the bitterness of Nazi horror, should feel a kinship with the victims of Nazism who had suffered greater losses,” Peres wrote in his book “David’s Sling.” Through Peres’s relationship with the French, Israel purchased huge quantities of weapons, including artillery cannons, tanks and radar equipment. But most notably, Israel also acquired the French Dassault Mystère IV and Dassault Ouragan fighter jets in 1955, the Dassault Super Mystère B2 in 1958 and the Dassault Mirage IIIC, one of the most advanced aircrafts of its time, in 1962.

 

All of these aircrafts were used in the 1967 Six Day War, taking out the air forces of Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Jordan, which helped pave the way to an unexpected Israeli victory. But the star of the 1967 war was the Mirage, known in Israel as the Shahak, which both carried out bombing runs and engaged in aerial dogfights, shooting down the lion’s share of enemy aircraft. The Mirage remained in use until 1986, and its design was used to create the Israeli Aerospace Industries’ Nesher and Kfir fighter jets, the latter of which was in use until 1996.

 

But while those aircraft played hugely important roles in the military’s victory in 1967, Peres’s relationship with the French government also fundamentally changed Israel’s security strategy and position, with the creation of Israel’s Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona.

 

In late 1956, representatives from the United Kingdom, France and Israel, including Peres, met for three days in secret at a villa in Sèvres, France, to address Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalization of the Suez canal. At the meeting, it was decided that Israel would spark a conflict with Egypt and the UK and France would send in forces ostensibly to break up the war, but in fact to occupy the area and ensuring shipping through the naval passage. The then-secret agreement became known as the Protocol of Sèvres. It lauched on October 29, 1956, when Israeli forces invaded the Sinai Peninsula. The operation lasted nine days.

 

Israeli, British and French troops succeeded initially in taking over the area, but considerable outcries against the campaign from the United States and the British and French public forced a withdrawal and turned the secret plan into a public embarrassment for the UK and France — though Israel escaped relatively unscathed. Though it was not a formal part of the Protocol of Sèvres, during the three-day conference planning the ill-fated war, the French agreed to help Israel develop a nuclear reactor, according to a 1997 Foreign Affairs article by Avi Shlaim, a British-Israeli historian.

 

“It was here that I finalized with these two leaders” — France’s then-prime minister Guy Mollet and then-defense minister Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury — “an agreement for the building of a nuclear reactor at Dimona, in southern Israel,” Peres wrote in his 1995 book “Battling for Peace.” That nuclear reactor in Dimona, along with a supply of uranium, allegedly went on to create Israel’s atomic weapons.

 

On Wednesday, following Peres’s death, Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission praised the former president, prime minister and defense minister for his role in its creation. “Peres provided a fundamental contribution to the creation of the Negev Nuclear Research Center and to the creation of Israel’s nuclear policies. This was a significant element in securing the national resilience of the State of Israel. Peres’s legacy will lead the IAEC in its actions even in the future,” the commission said in a statement.

 

Israel still maintains an official policy of so-called “nuclear ambiguity,” neither confirming or denying the possession of atomic weapons. However, in 1998, Peres told reporters in Jordan that Israel had “built a nuclear option, not in order to have a Hiroshima but an Oslo.” Israel’s alleged nuclear capabilities, though controversial, are seen as crucial to the country’s survival by many security analysts. “Israel needs its nuclear weapons. This bold statement is not even remotely controversial,” Purdue University professor Louis René Beres wrote in 2014. If deprived of its nuclear weapons, whether still-ambiguous or newly disclosed, Israel would irremediably lose its residual capacity to deter major enemy aggressions,” he wrote…

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

 

 

THE "MIND OVER MIND" BATTLE IN THE NUCLEAR THEATER

Louis René Beres

Israel Defense, Sept. 25, 2016

 

More than likely, the first post-Hiroshima/Nagasaki use of nuclear weapons will be undertaken by North Korea or Pakistan. Should this actually turn out to be the case, the cumulative consequences would impact not only the responsible aggressor state and its multiple victims, but also still-developing strategic nuclear policies in certain other countries. The most obvious and concerning case of such a prospective secondary impact would be Israel.

 

For now, Israel's nuclear strategy remains "deliberately ambiguous," or in the "basement." Whether well-founded or foolishly conceived, this intentional opacity has endured as national policy because Jerusalem has not yet had to worry about confronting any enemy nuclear forces. This potentially fragile posture would almost certainly need to change, however, if Iran were sometime perceived to have become a near-nuclear adversary.

 

Significantly, while seldom discussed "out loud," Israel could also feel compelled to shift away from nuclear ambiguity once an actual nuclear attack had taken place elsewhere on earth. In other words, there would need to be no direct connection between such an attack and Israel for the Jewish State to acknowledge certain derivative obligations to alter or modify its own nuclear strategy.

 

To be sure, any such predictive analytic leap cannot readily be drawn from relevant historical examples. After all, such expectedly pertinent examples simply do not exist. Moreover, to be suitably scientific, any assessments of probability regarding an actual resort to nuclear weapons would have to be based upon the ascertainable frequency of past nuclear events. Fortunately, for human welfare, if not for the science of strategic prediction, there have been no nuclear wars.

 

What about Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Incontestably, the American atomic bombings of Japan in August 1945 were not proper examples of a nuclear war, but rather of a unique or one-time use of nuclear weapons designed to end an ongoing and worldwide conventional war. Further, there were no other nuclear weapons states in August 1945 (Washington was not even sure that its own Little Boy and Fat Man would work), so any corollary U.S. strategic calculations could bear no resemblance to what might actually confront Israel today.

 

For purposes of Israeli strategic thinking, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were utterly sui generis; hence, forever dissimilar to any present or future national security circumstances. Nonetheless, we needn't make any plausible or persuasive probability assessments about North Korea, Pakistan and Israel in order to reach the following conclusion: Once North Korea and/or Pakistan fires nuclear weapons against another state or states, a principal nuclear "taboo" will have been broken, and all existing nuclear powers – especially Israel – will then begin to take more seriously the actual operational use of their own nuclear weapons. The precise manner and extent to which Israel would be impacted in such circumstances would depend, among several more-or-less intersecting factors, on prevailing geopolitical alignments and cleavages, both regional and worldwide. For example, North Korea has already had tangible ties to both Syria and Iran, and all concerned parties could be forced to take into distinctly calculable account the presumed expectations of an already resurgent Cold War.

 

The "spillover" impact on Israel of any actual nuclear weapons use by North Korea or Pakistan would also depend upon the particular combatants involved, expected rationality or irrationality of these same combatants, yields and range of the nuclear weapons fired, and the prompt aggregate calculation of civilian and military harms actually suffered in the affected areas. If North Korea had fired its nuclear weapons against American targets, military or civilian, Israel could correctly anticipate an overwhelmingly destructive U.S. response. If, in another apt scenario, a government in Islamabad (possibly a post-coup Islamist regime) fired "only" its tactical or theater nuclear weapons, and "only" against exclusively military targets, the Indian response might then be substantially less overwhelming.

 

It also ought to be noted here, for further predictive clarification, that Pakistan recently shifted certain specific portions of its nuclear targeting doctrine to expressly lower yield, shorter range weapons, presumably to enhance the underlying credibility of its nuclear deterrence posture vis-à-vis India.

 

All of this would pose stunningly complex calculations for Israeli strategists. Indeed, these planners would have to account capably not only for singular nuclear weapons operations by North Korea or Pakistan, but also for any multiple interactions or synergies that might be involved. It is even conceivable, to offer still another meaningful example, that any North Korean resort to nuclear attack would be followed, more-or-less promptly, by a separate Pakistani use of nuclear weapons. This prospect could represent a chaotic or near-chaotic development, in which Israel would then be faced with a palpably unprecedented analytic challenge…

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

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTES

 

“The Yom Kippur War showed our neighbors that they cannot defeat us with weapons…It paved the path to peace with Egypt and later with Jordan…Our hands will continue to reach out to peace to those of our neighbors who want peace…Until then, we will be prepared to defend ourselves with our own forces…Families have grown, have rejoiced at celebrations and marked festivals, but one pain remains engraved in our hearts, the agonizing pain of loss, the pain of longing, the longing that has not dulled from that Yom Kippur of the past until that of today…The loss has not subsided. Once again Yom Kippur comes and another time we gather on this mountain and try to remember” — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at an official ceremony marking the anniversary of the Yom Kippur War. The event took place at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem, and commemorated 43 years since the beginning of the war. (Times of Israel, Oct. 13, 2016)

 

"We started off, we had no ISIS, and now, seven and a half years later, they're in, they think, 32 countries. And she's going to get rid of them?…They are hoping and praying that Hillary Clinton becomes president of the United States, because they'll take over not only that part of the world, they'll take over this country, they'll take over this part of the world. Believe me."— Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. Trump offered a warning for voters considering backing Clinton: If she wins, he said, the terror group I.S. would take over the US. A day after proclaiming himself unshackled from GOP officials, Trump spent the majority of a campaign rally going full throttle against Clinton. Earlier this year, Trump asserted that Clinton and President Obama were the cofounders of I.S. — a claim from which he refused to back down and later clarified was intended as sarcasm. (Yahoo, Oct. 12, 2016)

 

“Obama’s radically reoriented foreign policy is in ruins. His vision was to move away from a world where stability and “the success of liberty” (JFK, inaugural address) were anchored by American power and move toward a world ruled by universal norms, mutual obligation, international law and multilateral institutions. No more cowboy adventures, no more unilateralism, no more Guantanamo. We would ascend to the higher moral plane of diplomacy. Clean hands, clear conscience, “smart power.” This blessed vision has just died a terrible death in Aleppo. Its unraveling was predicted and predictable, though it took fully two terms to unfold…“What is Aleppo?” famously asked Gary Johnson. Answer: the burial ground of the Obama fantasy of benign disengagement.” — Charles Krauthammer. (Washington Post, Oct. 6, 2016)

 

Contents

 

SHORT TAKES

 

YOM KIPPUR SOLEMNITY MARRED BY VIOLENCE AND RIOTS (Jerusalem) — As Jews prayed on Yom Kippur, Arabs rioted. The alert status was high, as 3,500 policemen reinforced security in and around Jerusalem after a terror attack on Sunday. On Tuesday, Arabs attacked Israeli police with rocks and Molotov cocktails in Silwan, East Jerusalem. Palestinian sources reported one Arab man, Ali Atef Shuyukhi, was killed in the confrontation. Arabs also attacked Israeli Security forces in East Jerusalem and Issawiya, throwing Molotov cocktails and fireworks. (Breaking Israel News, Oct. 13, 2016)
 

TWO MURDERED, SIX WOUNDED IN JERUSALEM TERROR ATTACK (Jerusalem) — A Palestinian who was due to begin a prison term in Israel next week went on a shooting spree on Sunday, killing a pedestrian and a police officer in Jerusalem before being shot dead by police. The assailant, who Hamas said was a member of its organization, was shot dead in an exchange of fire with police. Medical officials said six people were wounded in the attack, and that two of them, a woman and a police officer, died in hospital. Police identified the assailant as a 39-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem. A spokeswoman for the Israel Prisons Service said the attacker had been ordered by a court to start a four-month jail sentence next week after being convicted of assaulting a police officer. (Breitbart, Oct. 9, 2016)

 

SHIN BET FOILS HAMAS SUICIDE BUS BOMBING IN JERUSALEM (Jerusalem) — An East Jerusalem man was indicted Tuesday for planning to carry out a suicide bombing on a bus in the capital, officials said. On September 9, the Shin Bet security service arrested alleged Hamas operative Muhammad Fuaz Ibrahim Julani, a resident of the Shuafat refugee camp, a few days before he planned to carry out his attack. Over the past few months, Julani, 22, had been planning to carry out a terror attack on behalf of Hamas, the Shin Bet said. (Times of Israel, Oct. 11, 2016)

 

UNESCO PASSES RESOLUTION DENYING JEWISH TIES TO JERUSALEM HOLY SITES (Paris) — The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution denying Jewish connections to the Temple Mount and Western Wall. 24 UNESCO member states voted in favor of the resolution, 26 abstained, and six countries voted against. The proposal, put forth by the Palestinians, along with Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Sudan, condemns Israel on several issues related to Jerusalem and its holy sites. The resolution acknowledges that the city of Jerusalem is holy to Judaism, Islam, and Christianity but says the Temple Mount holy site is sacred only to Muslims and fails to mention its significance to Jews. (I24, Oct. 13, 2016)

 

U.S. LAUNCHES AIRSTRIKES IN YEMEN IN RESPONSE TO SHIP ATTACK (Sana’a) — The U.S. military launched cruise missile strikes on Thursday to knock out three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi forces, retaliating after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer. The strikes, authorized by President Obama, represent Washington's first direct military action against Houthi-controlled targets in Yemen. U.S. officials said U.S. Navy destroyer USS Nitze launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles. The missile attacks on the USS Mason — the latest of which took place on Wednesday — appeared to be the Houthis' response to a suspected Saudi-led strike on mourners gathered in Yemen's Houthi-held capital Sanaa. (CBC, Oct. 13, 2016)

 

BOB DYLAN AWARDED NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE (Stockholm)Bob Dylan was named the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature Thursday, in a stunning announcement that for the first time bestowed the prestigious award to someone primarily seen as a musician. The Swedish Academy cited the American musician for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Dylan, 75, had been mentioned in Nobel speculation for years, but few experts expected the academy to extend the prestigious award to a genre such as pop music. Robert Allen Zimmerman was born on May 24, 1941, to a Jewish family in small-town Minnesota. Both sets of his grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe. (Times of Israel, Oct. 13, 2016)

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

A Yom Kippur Guide for the Perplexed, 2016: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Oct. 10, 2016—1. Yom Kippur is a day of hope and optimism, in addition to a solemn day of soul-searching. The Day of Atonement provides a unique awareness of one’s own character and track record, as well as the opportunity to upgrade relationships with relatives, friends, associates and the community at-large.

A Peek Inside the IDF 8200's Combat Intelligence Unit: Israel Defense, Oct. 12, 2016 —They have been around for five years, operating without a name or insignia. They are the combat soldiers of the elite intelligence unit 8200. Although 8200 is better known for its glasses-wearing computer geniuses, this section of the unit helps to gather field intelligence for the elite combat units in the IDF – including Sayeret Matkal and Shayetet 13.

Meet the IDF’s ‘Beduin Battalion’: Seth J. Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 13, 2016—The jeep stops on a chalk-like dusty road, at an embankment that overlooks a dry riverbed. In front of us, to the northwest and spanning the gully, are two rows of metal fences. To their left, on a small hillock, is a concrete watchtower, a “pillbox,” as it’s called, harking back to World War II British Army nomenclature. A U-shaped concrete wall protects its base so that men entering and leaving are not exposed to gunfire.

Trump’s Moment of Truth: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 12, 2016 —Donald Trump has declared himself unshackled from the Republican Party and says he will now campaign as he’s wanted to all along. This raises the question of whose never-before-seen campaign he’s been running for 16 months, but so be it. The self-declared strategy has the virtue of putting the onus of victory or defeat squarely where it belongs: Mr. Trump and those who led him to the GOP nomination.

 

 

 

OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY IN “TATTERS” ENTERING FINAL MONTHS AS PRESIDENT

Latest Syria Setback Marks Five Years of Failure for Obama Administration: Kelly McParland, National Post, Oct. 4, 2016 — Sputnik International, a government-backed Russian “news” service, has soothing words for concerns about the ongoing carnage in Syria.

Obama's November Surprise: Gregg Roman, The Hill, Sept. 26, 2016 — There is growing speculation that President Obama will spring a diplomatic surprise on Israel during the interregnum between the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 and his departure from office in January.

Obama’s Hostile Eulogy: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Oct. 10, 2016 — US President Barack Obama’s eulogy to Shimon Peres last Friday at Mt. Herzl was a thinly disguised assault on Israel. And he barely bothered to hide it.

Yom Kippur – How It Changes Us: Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Sacks, Oct. 10, 2016— To those who fully open themselves to it, Yom Kippur is a life-transforming experience.

 

On Topic Links

 

Atoning for Sins on Yom Kippur: Dvora Waysman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 2016

White House Silent: Palestinians Attack Jews Praying at Joseph's Tomb: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 10, 2016

Congress Blasts Obama for Preparing Anti-Israel Offensive: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Oct. 9, 2016

Barack Obama’s Stillborn Legacy: At Home and Abroad, the President's Agenda is in Tatters: Charles Krauthammer, New York Daily News, Oct. 6, 2016

 

 

 

LATEST SYRIA SETBACK MARKS FIVE YEARS

OF FAILURE FOR OBAMA ADMINISTRATION

Kelly McParland

National Post, Oct. 4, 2016

 

Sputnik International, a government-backed Russian “news” service, has soothing words for concerns about the ongoing carnage in Syria. The Putin government’s “limited military engagement” on behalf of Syrian President Bashar Assad “has helped to bring stability to several regions” of the country “and boost morale of the Syrian Arab Army,” it says. Russian involvement, it continues, quoting an “analyst,” “was instrumental in helping government-led forces and their local allies break the tide of the years-long war.”

 

While that view doesn’t accord with Western opinion, it should be no surprise if Moscow feels justified in applauding itself a year after launching its intervention. In just 12 months, President Vladimir Putin has managed to comprehensively outmaneouvre the U.S., reverse the momentum to Assad’s favour, embarrass Washington and increase its own influence in a region that seems perpetually engulfed in conflict.

 

Washington, meanwhile, has been reduced to spluttering objections and threats of unspecified “actions” if Moscow fails to rein in its activities. Fat chance of that. If the Obama administration has demonstrated anything over the five years — and half a million deaths — of the Syrian tragedy, it is its inability, or perhaps unwillingness, to fabricate a policy capable of ending the misery imposed on millions of Syrians. It has been outflanked at every step by a Russian government intent on flexing its military muscle and oblivious to the polite ways of diplomacy and international opinion.

 

Putin demonstrated this yet again when he met the latest complaints from Washington by shipping an advanced anti-missile system to Syria, the first time it has deployed the system outside its own borders. That followed accusations by Secretary of State John Kerry that Moscow had responded to a so-called ceasefire by stepping up bombing attacks on Aleppo, the besieged city that is systematically being reduced to rubble by Russian and Syrian forces.

 

A State Department spokesman on Tuesday warned that diplomatic efforts to end the fighting were “on life support.” A day later Kerry gave up on diplomacy and suspended talks with Moscow, while administration officials threatened unspecified “actions…that would further underscore the consequences of not coming back to the negotiating table.” Russia in turn halted a program with the U.S. on the disposal of weapons grade plutonium while threatening that a U.S. attack on Syrian targets “will lead to terrible, tectonic shifts not only on the territory of this country but also in the region in general.”

 

Such is the state of affairs as Obama enters his final weeks in office. Whatever else historians conclude about his legacy, his record in Syria must go down as an utter failure. Assad now has a very real chance of clinging to power, and perhaps even regaining significant areas of the country that had been lost to him before Russia’s arrival. U.S. actions have been so ineffectual it now finds itself with few options. It cannot intervene militarily, even if it had the will, without the danger of a direct clash with Moscow. Where once it had the opportunity to impose a no-fly zone to limit Assad’s assaults, it cannot do so now for fear of starting a shooting war with Russian jets.

 

Obama’s clear reluctance to get caught in another Middle East war has hobbled U.S. goals from the beginning. He drew his famous “red line” against chemical weapons, and then decided not to enforce it. He not only refused to commit substantial troops, but hesitated even to arm Assad’s opponents. Diplomatic efforts have gone in circles, first with failed United Nations efforts and more recently with Kerry’s futile shuttling from capital to capital. Relations with Turkey and Saudi Arabia have soured as the Obama administration dithered and delayed.

 

Humanitarian actions have been similarly half-hearted. An estimated 4.8 million Syrian refugees continue to seek international assistance, almost entirely from countries other than the U.S. In August the administration announced it had admitted its 10,000th Syrian, reaching a cruelly unambitious resettlement goal for the year. Canada, with a tenth the U.S. population, has accepted 30,000 Syrians, while Germany has accepted almost 900,000 and paid a heavy political price for a war it did nothing to start.

 

No matter who wins the U.S. election in November, they will be left with a shambles of a situation in Syria. Putin may be turning Russia into an “outlaw nation”, as the New York Times recently charged, but it’s an outlaw the U.S. has failed utterly to bring to justice, and shows limited interest in challenging.                             

                                                           

 

Contents                                                                                                                       

                                                                         

OBAMA'S NOVEMBER SURPRISE                                                                                             

Gregg Roman                                                                                                        

The Hill, Sept. 26, 2016

 

There is growing speculation that President Obama will spring a diplomatic surprise on Israel during the interregnum between the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 and his departure from office in January. Some say the surprise will be a speech laying down parameters for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute or some type of formal censure of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but the scenario generating most discussion is a decision to support, or perhaps not to veto, a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state.

 

This would be a bombshell. Washington's long-stated policy is that a Palestinian state should be established only through an agreement negotiated directly between the two sides. In practice, this would require that Palestinian leaders agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and concede the so-called "right of return" for refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants to areas within Israel's borders, a prospect which would mean the demographic destruction of Israel.

 

For decades, Palestinian leaders have made it clear they won't do this: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas doesn't mince words, telling a gathering of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo in November 2014, "We will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel." Efforts to win recognition of Palestinian statehood by foreign governments and multilateral institutions are designed to skirt this precondition for statehood.

 

Any state that comes into existence without Palestinian leaders formally recognizing Israel will be a brutal, unstable train wreck, with areas under its jurisdiction likely to remain a hotbed of terrorism. On top of whatever existing factors are producing the endemic corruption and autocracy of the Abbas regime (not to mention the Hamas regime in Gaza), unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will vindicate radicals who have been saying all along that there's no need to compromise.

 

On the other hand, official Palestinian acknowledgement once and for all that Israel is not just here to stay, but has a right to stay, would deprive Palestinian leaders of time-honored tools for manipulating their constituents – appealing to and inflaming their baser anti-Jewish prejudices, promising them salvation if they'll only shut up 'til the Zionists are defeated, and so forth. Instead, they will have to do things like govern well and create jobs to win public support.

 

Previous American administrations have understood that recognizing Palestinian statehood before Abbas and company allow Palestinian society to undergo this transformation would be the height of irresponsibility. This is why American veto power has consistently blocked efforts to unilaterally establish a Palestinian state by way of the UN Security Council. Notwithstanding his apparent pro-Palestinian sympathies and affiliations prior to running for the Senate and later the White House, President Obama initially maintained this policy. The expressed threat of an American veto foiled Abbas' 2011 bid to win UN member-state status for "Palestine." He settled for recognition of non-member-state status by the General Assembly in 2012.

 

As moves by the PA to bring the issue of statehood to the UN picked up steam last year, however, it appeared to walk back this commitment. While U.S officials privately maintained there was "no change," Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power refused – despite the urging of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – to state publicly that the U.S. would use its veto to stop a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood.

 

The conventional wisdom was that Obama's refusal to make such a public declaration was intended to exert pressure on Netanyahu to tone down his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and later to punish him for it or hold it out to secure concessions. As his presidency enters its final months, it's clear something even more nefarious is at work.

 

President Obama's failure to clarify his administration's position has greatly damaged prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Even if it is Obama's intention to veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes up at the UN, his refusal to publicly state this – or, put differently, his determination to go on the record for the history books not saying it – has fueled perceptions among Palestinians and European governments facing pressures of their own that American will is softening.

 

It is imperative that Congress use the tools at its disposal to make this unwise path as difficult as possible for the Obama administration. Ultimately, a one-sided UN declaration such as this serves only to postpone by a long shot the day when Palestinian leaders accept Israel as it is – the homeland of the Jewish people – and allow their subjects to enjoy the lasting peace and prosperity they and their neighbors deserve.                                                     

 

Contents                                                                                                                                                          

                                                     

OBAMA’S HOSTILE EULOGY                                                                                                     

Caroline Glick                                                                                                      

Breaking Israel News, Oct. 10, 2016

 

US President Barack Obama’s eulogy to Shimon Peres last Friday at Mt. Herzl was a thinly disguised assault on Israel. And he barely bothered to hide it. Throughout his remarks, Obama wielded Peres’s record like a baseball bat. He used it to club the Israeli public and its elected leaders over and over again. Peres, Obama intimated, was a prophet. But the suspicious, tribal people of Israel were too stiff necked to follow him.

 

In what was perhaps the low point of a low performance, Obama used Peres’s words to slander his domestic critics as racist oppressors. “Shimon,” he began harmlessly enough, “believed that Israel’s exceptionalism was rooted not only in fidelity to the Jewish people, but to the moral and ethical vision, the precepts of his Jewish faith.” Fair enough. You could say that about every Israeli leader since the dawn of modern Zionism.

 

But then Obama went for the jugular. In a startling non-sequitur he continued, “‘The Jewish people weren’t born to rule another people,’ he [Peres] would say, ‘From the very first day we were against slaves and masters.’” We don’t know the context in which Peres made that statement. But what is clear enough is that Obama used his words to accuse the majority of Israelis who do not share Peres’s vision for peace – including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who was sitting in the front row listening to him – of supporting slavery. This libelous assault on Israel was probably the most unhinged remark ever directed at the Jewish state by an American president. What does the fact that Obama said this at Peres’s funeral tell us about Obama? What does it tell us about Peres? Obama was not merely wrong when he accused Peres’s detractors of support for slavery, he was maliciously wrong.

 

Due to Peres’s Oslo accords, since 1995, all the Palestinian population centers in Judea and Samaria have been governed by the PLO. Israel hasn’t been in charge of any aspect of their daily civic existence. And they have only suffered as a result. Between 1967 and 1996, when the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria were governed by the military government, the Palestinians were free. They only became “enslaved,” when the PLO took over. Under Israeli rule, the Palestinians enjoyed far more expansive civil rights than they have since we left. The PLO transformed their lives into chaos by implementing the law of the jungle, enforced by mob-style militias. Their property rights were trampled. Their civil rights have been gutted.

 

The fact that PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas and his cronies delayed their municipal elections indefinitely the day after Peres’s funeral is yet another testament to the absence of freedom in the PLO – as opposed to Israeli – ruled areas. But really, Obama couldn’t care less. He didn’t come here to tell the truth about Peres. He came here to use Peres as a means to bludgeon the government the people elected. Obama began his attack as he often begins his political assaults on his opponents. He created a straw man. Peres’s critics on the Right, he said, “argued that he refused to see the true wickedness of the world, and called him naïve.” In other words, as far as Obama is concerned, Israelis are prisoners of their dark view of the world. Unlike Peres the optimist, his countrymen are tribal pessimists.

 

Peres, whose vision for peace rested on giving the outskirts of Tel Aviv and half of Jerusalem to terrorists wasn’t naïve. He “knew better than the cynic,” Obama continued. He was better than that. He was better than us. This brings us then to the paradox of Peres’s life’s work. Over last quarter century of his life, we, the people of Israel wanted to feel empowered by Peres’s superstar status. We wanted to get excited when Hollywood stars and A-list politicians came to his birthday bashes at the President’s House and the Peres Center. But every time we tried to see Peres’s success as our success, some visiting VIP would smile before the cameras and kick us in the shins.

 

The higher Peres’s star rose in the stratosphere of celebrity stardom, the worse Israel’s global position became. The international A-listers who showed up at all of Peres’s parties always seemed to view him as their guy, not our guy. He was one of them – and above the likes of us. How did this happen? How did the last surviving member of Israel’s founding generation become a prop for Israel’s chorus of international critics? The most extraordinary aspect of Peres’s long life is that he packed two full – and contradictory – careers into one lifespan.

 

Peres’s first career began with Israel’s founding. It ended with the Likud’s victory in the 1977 Knesset elections. Over the course of that career, Peres used his formidable diplomatic skills to build and strengthen Israel’s defenses. He cultivated and expanded complex strategic relationships with the French and British. Those ties led the two major powers to fight at Israel’s side in the 1956 Suez Campaign. They led to France’s decision to help Israel build its nuclear program and its arms industries.

 

In the 1970s as defense minister, Peres was able to rely on his warm ties to foreign leaders to shield the country as he established the Jewish communities in Samaria and Hebron. They empowered him to oversee the hostage rescue mission at Entebbe. But following the Likud’s rise to power, Peres changed gears. Ever since 1981 when he almost managed to scuttle the air force’s bombing of Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor, Peres used his diplomatic talents and ties to foreign leaders to advance his own agenda, regardless of whether that agenda was aligned or contradicted Israel’s national agenda, as set out by its elected leaders.

 

Time and time again, on the backs of the public that failed to elect him and the politicians the public elected instead of him, Peres cultivated and used the relationships he enjoyed with foreign leaders to press his own policies. Each attempt to derail the policies of the government expanded Peres’s chorus of supporters abroad. Peres’s second career reached its high water mark in 1994 when along with Rabin and Yassir Arafat he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the Oslo process. The world embraced and celebrated Peres for his peace deal that brought neither peace nor security to his people…                                                 

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

 

Contents           

 

YOM KIPPUR – HOW IT CHANGES US

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Sacks, Oct. 10, 2016

 

To those who fully open themselves to it, Yom Kippur is a life-transforming experience. It tells us that God, who created the universe in love and forgiveness, reaches out to us in love and forgiveness, asking us to love and forgive others. God never asked us not to make mistakes. All He asks is that we acknowledge our mistakes, learn from them, grow through them, and make amends where we can. No religion has held such a high view of human possibility. The God who created us in His image, gave us freedom. We are not tainted by original sin, destined to fail, caught in the grip of an evil only divine grace can defeat. To the contrary we have within us the power to choose life. Together we have the power to change the world.

 

Nor are we, as some scientific materialists claim, mere concatenations of chemicals, a bundle of selfish genes blindly replicating themselves into the future. Our souls are more than our minds, our minds are more than our brains, and our brains are more than mere chemical impulses responding to stimuli. Human freedom – the freedom to choose to be better than we were – remains a mystery but it is not a mere given. Freedom is like a muscle and the more we exercise it, the stronger and healthier it becomes.

 

Judaism constantly asks us to exercise our freedom. To be a Jew is not to go with the flow, to be like everyone else, to follow the path of least resistance, to worship the conventional wisdom of the age. To the contrary, to be a Jew is to have the courage to live in a way that is not the way of everyone. Each time we eat, drink, pray or go to work, we are conscious of the demands our faith makes on us, to live God’s will and be one of His ambassadors to the world. Judaism always has been, perhaps always will be, counter-cultural.

 

In ages of collectivism, Jews emphasised the value of the individual. In ages of individualism, Jews built strong communities. When most of humanity was consigned to ignorance, Jews were highly literate. When others were building monuments and amphitheatres, Jews were building schools. In materialistic times they kept faith with the spiritual. In ages of poverty they practised tzedakah so that none would lack the essentials of a dignified life. The sages said that Abraham was called ha-ivri, “the Hebrew,” because all the world was on one side (ever echad) and Abraham on the other. To be a Jew is to swim against the current, challenging the idols of the age whatever the idol, whatever the age.

 

So, as our ancestors used to say, “’Zis schver zu zein a Yid,” It is not easy to be a Jew. But if Jews have contributed to the human heritage out of all proportion to our numbers, the explanation lies here. Those of whom great things are asked, become great – not because they are inherently better or more gifted than others but because they feel themselves challenged, summoned, to greatness.

 

Few religions have asked more of their followers. There are 613 commandments in the Torah. Jewish law applies to every aspect of our being, from the highest aspirations to the most prosaic details of quotidian life. Our library of sacred texts – Tanakh, Mishnah, Gemarra, Midrash, codes and commentaries – is so vast that no lifetime is long enough to master it. Theophrastus, a pupil of Aristotle, sought for a description that would explain to his fellow Greeks what Jews are. The answer he came up with was, “a nation of philosophers.”

 

So high does Judaism set the bar that it is inevitable that we should fall short time and again. Which means that forgiveness was written into the script from the beginning. God, said the sages, sought to create the world under the attribute of strict justice but He saw that it could not stand. What did He do? He added mercy to justice, compassion to retribution, forbearance to the strict rule of law. God forgives. Judaism is a religion, the world’s first, of forgiveness…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters an Easy Fast and May You be Inscribed in the

Book of Life! No Daily Briefing Will Be Published on Wednesday

 

Contents                       

           

On Topic Links

 

 

Atoning for Sins on Yom Kippur: Dvora Waysman, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 11, 2016—Freedom of choice is a basic Jewish doctrine from Genesis’s first story. “If you feel shame over having sinned, Heaven immediately forgives you.” These comforting words (Brachot 12B Hagiga 5A) are timely at Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, but we should also remember what Mark Twain wrote: “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

White House Silent: Palestinians Attack Jews Praying at Joseph's Tomb: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 10, 2016—The US State Department’s recent condemnation of Israel’s proposed solution of the illegal Amona outpost issue unfortunately reiterates the erroneous view that “settlements are the core problem” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Worse, it contributes to the prolongation of the conflict by incorrectly invoking international law under the pretext of “evenhandedness” toward the parties involved.

Congress Blasts Obama for Preparing Anti-Israel Offensive: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Oct. 9, 2016—The Obama administration is manufacturing a crisis with Israel in anticipation of a post-election diplomatic push targeting the Jewish state, and this past week launched a series of broadsides criticizing the Israelis through the media and in press briefings, according to congressional sources and Jewish-American officials who spoke to the Weekly Standard.

Barack Obama’s Stillborn Legacy: At Home and Abroad, the President's Agenda is in Tatters: Charles Krauthammer, New York Daily News, Oct. 6, 2016—Only amid the most bizarre, most tawdry, most addictive election campaign in memory could the real story of 2016 be so effectively obliterated, namely, that with just four months left in the Obama presidency, its two central pillars are collapsing before our eyes: domestically, its radical reform of American health care, aka Obamacare; and abroad, its radical reorientation of American foreign policy — disengagement marked by diplomacy and multilateralism.

 

 

 

 

OBAMA, EYES ON LEGACY, COMMITTED TO “ENDING THE WARS” — MEANWHILE, AS SYRIA BURNS, PUTIN TAKES DECISIVE ACTION

Putin’s Syria Victory: Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12, 2016 — President Obama has spent five years insisting that there is no military solution to the Syrian civil war. To judge by the “cessation of hostilities” announced Friday in Munich, Vladimir Putin is about to prove him wrong.

Forget ‘Ending the Wars’ — Let’s Win Them Instead: Jackson Diehl, New York Post, Feb. 10, 2016— ‘The tide of war is receding,” President Obama tirelessly insisted four years ago as he campaigned for re-election.

State of the Union Highlights Jordan’s Rift with Obama: Aaron Magid, Al-Monitor, Jan. 13, 2016— Despite the harsh divide among Republican presidential candidates on foreign policy, the importance of Jordan has been a unifying theme.

Israeli Ascendancy, American Decline: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Feb. 12, 2016 — I spent half my week in briefings from top political and military leaders about Israel's regional strategic situation.

 

On Topic Links

 

Obama's Foreign Policy Rebuked – by His Own Intel Chiefs: William Tate, American Thinker, Feb. 13, 2016

America Makes a U-Turn in the Middle East: Tony Badran, Tablet, Feb. 4, 2016

Why Obama Will Get Away With Closing Gitmo: Eli Lake & Josh Rogin, New York Post, Jan. 16, 2016

U.S. and Allies Weigh Military Action Against ISIS in Libya: Eric Schmitt & Helene Cooper, New York Times, Jan. 22 2015

                  

PUTIN’S SYRIA VICTORY

                                       Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12, 2016

 

President Obama has spent five years insisting that there is no military solution to the Syrian civil war. To judge by the “cessation of hostilities” announced Friday in Munich, Vladimir Putin is about to prove him wrong.

 

In theory the cease-fire that Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will bring a partial end to the fighting in a week and allow expanded humanitarian aid into the country. This is supposed to be followed by a resumption of peace talks, which collapsed this month as Bashar Assad’s regime backed by Russian warplanes pressed an offensive against moderate Syrian rebels.

 

In practice, however, this looks like another Russian victory. Russian planes have intensified their bombing of Aleppo, forcing thousands of civilians to flee to the Turkish border through the only corridor that remains beyond Mr. Assad’s control. Mr. Lavrov says the week delay is needed to sort out the “modalities” of the cease-fire, but the real reason is to give the regime time to complete Aleppo’s encirclement.

 

The cease-fire explicitly excludes attacks on Islamic State (ISIS) and the al Qaeda-backed Nusra Front. This would make sense if the Kremlin weren’t falsely claiming that its targets are “terrorists” even as it neglects to attack ISIS. Expect the charade to go on until Mr. Putin achieves his military and strategic goals.

 

The fall of Aleppo and other rebel enclaves in western Syria will allow Mr. Assad to consolidate his grip on the most fertile and populated part of the country. Next month’s negotiations can then “freeze” the conflict in place, a tactic Russia used to its advantage after its invasion of Georgia in 2008 and last year’s Minsk agreement over eastern Ukraine. ISIS can be dealt with later, while Mr. Assad can count on U.S. air strikes to degrade ISIS’s capabilities as he deals with his more immediate enemies.

 

This isn’t the Russian “quagmire” Mr. Obama predicted last year when Moscow stepped into Syria. Mr. Putin has consolidated his strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean with a tough but limited military intervention and minimal casualties. He has strengthened ties to Tehran. He has shown the Muslim world that he’s the power to be reckoned with, which is why Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have backed away from their opposition to Mr. Putin’s gambit.

 

The Russian has also gained diplomatic leverage that he’ll use to gain further concessions from the U.S. and Europe. This will likely start, but not end, with sanctions relief as Europe and the U.S. gradually acquiesce to his Ukrainian annexations. Mr. Obama will gladly make this trade since the “cease-fire” will ease what had been growing media criticism in the U.S. of his Syrian abdications.

 

The next U.S. President will inherit the wreckage. This includes the betrayal of the Free Syrian Army and the example it sets for other potential U.S. allies; the non-defeat of ISIS; the loss of credibility with traditional allies in Jerusalem, Riyadh and Cairo; Russia’s renewed influence in the region; the improbable victory of a murderous dictator who Mr. Obama once insisted had to “step aside”; and the consolidation of an Iranian crescent from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut.

 

Add to that the killing of more than 250,000 Syrians and the greatest refugee crisis since the end of World War II, and this is some record. Mr. Obama might call it success, but George Orwell would have used a different term.            

           

                                                                       

Contents

FORGET ‘ENDING THE WARS’ — LET’S WIN THEM INSTEAD

Jackson Diehl                        

                                                  New York Post, Feb. 10, 2016

 

‘The tide of war is receding,” President Obama tirelessly insisted four years ago as he campaigned for re-election. Even then, the slogan seemed untethered from reality. Not only was fighting in Afghanistan intensifying, with no end in sight, but Syria, Iraq and Libya were all sliding toward civil war.

 

That Obama stayed with the phrase reflected not just his electoral strategy but an enduring feature of his foreign policy. Having arrived in office with a handful of ideologically driven goals, the president has stubbornly stuck to them regardless of contradictory facts on the ground.

 

“Ending the wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan was foremost among those objectives. Obama forced the pace of US troop withdrawals from Iraq in order to finish in time for his 2012 campaign, and until a few months ago, he appeared implacably committed to completing an Afghanistan withdrawal before leaving office.

 

One of the most important questions of Obama’s remaining months consequently is whether — and to what extent — he can let go of his wished-for legacy. Can he accept that it is a vital US interest not just to preserve a US military presence in Afghanistan and the Middle East, but to step it up to confront growing threats from the Islamic State, the Taliban and al Qaeda? Can he acknowledge that the “tide of war” is not receding, but — like it or not — swelling?

 

Three big decisions are on his plate. In October, the president scrapped his plan to reduce the 9,800-strong US force in Afghanistan to an embassy-based contingent of maybe 1,000 by next January, and last month he gave US commanders permission to attack Islamic State targets as well as al Qaeda.

 

However, he hasn’t yet altered his target of reducing US forces to 5,500 by the end of the year. Nor has he responded to proposals to provide regular combat air support to Afghan forces against the Taliban to stop what have been steady and cumulatively alarming gains by the insurgents. As both the incoming and outgoing US commanders have publicly hinted, Obama will soon be asked, at a minimum, to stop the troop drawdown to prevent an Afghan military collapse.

 

In Iraq, Obama has allowed the US troop level to creep back up to 3,700 since 2013, counting special forces deployed in Syria. But as The New York Times recently reported, Pentagon officials believe many hundreds more will need to be dispatched in the coming months if Iraqi and Kurdish forces are to have a chance to retake Mosul, the largest terrorist-controlled city. That includes trainers, but also commandos and other front-line personnel — in other words, combat forces. There, too, Obama has not yet made a decision.

 

Last, but perhaps not least, Obama faces a choice in Libya, where his national-security team believes action is urgently needed to head off an Islamic State entity taking root there. “It’s fair to say we’re looking to take decisive military action,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said last month, reflecting the Pentagon’s view. But not Obama’s: “That’s not in his horizon at the moment,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said at a conference on Libya last week.

 

How will Obama manage these three decisions? Seven years of evidence suggests he’ll water down his commanders’ proposals and approve only incremental steps. The problem — especially for Obama’s successor — is that decisive action cannot easily be postponed for another year.

 

That’s particularly true in Afghanistan, as was underlined in a conversation I had last week with Saad Mohseni, the operator of the country’s most popular private television channel, Tolo TV. Tolo suffered a devastating blow last month when a Taliban suicide bomber slammed into a company bus in Kabul, killing seven and injuring 25.

 

But this assault on one of the country’s greatest achievements since 2001 — free media — was just part of a grim landscape sketched by Mohseni: a government paralyzed by infighting, a stalled economy and a poorly led and demoralized army that is barely preventing a Taliban takeover of several major provinces.

 

Mohseni’s recommendations echo the generals: Deploy US airpower against the Taliban and call off the troop drawdown. But he’d also like to see Obama appoint a special envoy to help break the political deadlock in Kabul, which is impeding steps to renew provincial governments and the Afghan army. “The United States has huge leverage,” he said. “You can still turn the situation around.” The question is whether a president who dreamed of ending the wars can be persuaded to do it.

 

 

                                                                       

Contents

              STATE OF THE UNION HIGHLIGHTS JORDAN’S RIFT WITH OBAMA

Aaron Magid                         

                                                Al-Monitor, Jan. 13, 2016

 

Despite the harsh divide among Republican presidential candidates on foreign policy, the importance of Jordan has been a unifying theme. Donald Trump praised King Abdullah on Twitter and Ohio Gov. John Kasich wished in a presidential debate that Jordan’s king “would reign for a thousand years.” In stark contrast to the Republicans, President Barack Obama downplayed or did not mention Amman’s most critical national priorities — the Islamic State [IS], Palestine and the war in Syria — during his Jan. 12 State of the Union address.

 

Addressing members of Congress that evening, Obama emphasized, “As we focus on destroying [IS], over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.” The American leader’s assertion that such dire warnings about IS are misguided directly contradict one of Abdullah’s main talking points when traveling overseas.

 

Over and over — whether at the United Nations General Assembly podium, during an interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose or even in Kosovo — the Jordanian monarch has declared that the battle against IS is “a third world war, and I believe we must respond with equal intensity.”

 

After IS kidnapped Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh and burned him alive in a cage in February of last year, the Jordanian air force launched a series of strikes against IS targets in Syria and Iraq. Jordan claimed to have killed 7,000 fighters in the days following Kaseasbeh’s execution.

 

Obama’s minimizing of the IS campaign speaks to a fundamental divergence with Abdullah and has led many leading thinkers in Amman to question America’s determination and willingness to, in the president’s own words, “degrade and ultimately destroy [IS]." If the world’s strongest and most advanced military cannot defeat a far inferior and less organized group, what are Obama’s true intentions?

 

In addition to IS, the State of the Union illustrated a major policy rift with Amman regarding the Palestinian peace process. Obama did not once bother to mention Palestine or Israel in the speech setting up his administration’s goals for the upcoming year. Here again, Jordanian leaders take an opposite approach to this sensitive issue. House Speaker Atif Tarawneh said in October, “Jordan, under the leadership of King Abdullah II, has placed the Palestinian issue on top of its priorities.” Amman raises the urgent need to create a Palestinian state in almost every meeting abroad.

 

The Hashemite Kingdom’s difference with the Obama administration is not solely focused on this speech, but rather encompasses a larger policy divide. Since Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace efforts stalled in 2014, the United States has not led an ongoing effort to end the Palestinian conflict. White House Middle East coordinator Rob Malley told reporters in November that reaching a negotiated solution between the parties during Obama’s remaining term “is not in the cards.” In contrast to Amman’s wishes, the Obama administration no longer prioritizes tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a region filled with violence.

 

Even before the speech, it was difficult to ignore the missing element in Abdullah’s Washington itinerary Jan. 12. After traveling thousands of miles, the king initially could not secure a meeting with Obama because of "scheduling conflicts." However, the two did meet briefly Jan. 13 at Andrews Air Force Base before both departed on separate trips. A longtime and dependable US ally despite the Middle East’s turmoil arrives in the US capital, but Obama could not carve out more than about five minutes for the king.

 

In addition to the battle against IS, nearly five years of fighting in Syria have dramatically impacted next-door Jordan. Jordan has absorbed over 630,000 Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations (one diplomat estimates that Syrians represent about 20% of Jordan’s population), and Abdullah has repeatedly called for decisive action to end the conflict. Yet, in Obama’s brief mentioning of the bloody crisis that has killed some 250,000 people, the US president appeared satisfied with US policy. Obama cites Syria as an example of the “smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power” by partnering with local forces — despite the fact that the conflict’s violence has only been spreading.

 

It is no wonder that in recent months, Abdullah has met multiple times with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a US rival, during trips to Moscow to discuss developments in the Middle East. The United States provides Jordan with significant financial aid, but mere monetary assistance is no longer sufficient in tackling the region’s spiraling crises. With Putin demonstrating decisive action in his military intervention alongside Damascus while daylight grows between Abdullah and Obama over IS, Palestine and Syria, the king may question whether the United States is truly a reliable Jordanian ally during such uncertain times.

 

Contents

ISRAELI ASCENDANCY, AMERICAN DECLINE

David M. Weinberg

                                Israel Hayom, Feb. 12, 2016

 

I spent half my week in briefings from top political and military leaders about Israel's regional strategic situation. The other half of my week was devoted to analyzing America's Mideast policy and the tracking of the U.S. presidential primaries. The first half of my week filled me with confidence; the second half with despondency.

 

It is a time of strategic ascendancy for Israel. Alas, it is a time of self-inflicted strategic decline for America. Israel is growing in regional influence; America is shrinking. The implications are far-reaching. Israel's enhanced pre-eminence is a function of Arab state meltdown, Iran's drive for regional hegemony, and the resultant search for new defense and political alliances. Israel's importance also builds-out from its technological prowess and economic perspicacity.

 

Consequently, Egypt, the Gulf states, Russia, China, India and non-European democracies are pounding the pavement to Israel's doorstep to make common strategic cause — some more openly than others, but defiantly so. We share intelligence and know-how, plan diplomatic strategy and trade in quality goods. We form a bulwark against radical and subversive forces.

All the countries involved in these ascending relationships know that Israel is stable, credible and consistent in building and fulfilling its alliance responsibilities. It is a loyal partner. It understands the necessity of military power in statecraft, and it knows how to utilize it when necessary.

 

Alas, that is no longer the case with America, after seven years of President Barack Obama. The U.S. has telegraphed its fatigue and is begging to retreat from global leadership. The Obama administration has abdicated regional predominance to Vladimir Putin's Russia and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's Iran, while devoting only lip service to the fight against jihadi Islam. It has brow-beaten its friends and bowed before its adversaries. It has abandoned its erstwhile friends and squandered its prestige.

The administration has also fed the American people and the global community the following series of falsehoods that are transparently illusory: Al-Qaida has been defeated, the Islamic State group has been overwhelmed, Iran has been contained and Russia has been reset or tamed.

 

Worst of all, the Obama administration seems to have set the stage for the collapse into insanity that characterizes the 2016 U.S. presidential primaries. Only an American public so starved for pathways out of the muck into which Obama has dragged the country, in both domestic and foreign affairs, could be tempted into supporting demagogues like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

 

Only a voter desperate for renewed American "greatness" (Trump) and/or American "magic" (Sanders), and seeking a supernatural wand that will break the cowardly spell that Obama has cast over America — could reach for the asinine extremes.

 

With their volatile temperaments, these outlier candidates promise only confusion. One day they talk about deep retrenchment from American global commitments — the next about more aggressiveness in global affairs. A swashbuckling foreign policy one day — a flaccid, uncaring foreign policy the next. Mega-capitalism one day — super-socialism the next.

America appears to be a forlorn country that is scraping the bottom of the barrel to find a radical antidote to Obama — a failed messiah if there ever was one. In the process, it risks becoming a laughingstock, not just an indisposed and confused superpower.

 

Everywhere in the world, people are asking: Is Trump or Sanders really the wisest commander-in-chief that Americans can conjure up? How much longer can this scary campaign continue before all the bolts start coming loose on the USS America? Have Americans fallen off their rocker? Needless to say, any extended fall of America from strategic acuity and sensible policymaking has seismic implications for Israel.

 

It's true, as described above, that today Israel enjoys new diplomatic maneuverability and strategic depth that does not run through Washington. But so much of Israel's armament, political cover and moral support are still dependent on the United States. No less than Americans, Israelis cannot afford further American political folly. Eight years of Obamanian arrogance and waywardness was enough. Please, America, get a grip and elect yourself a levelheaded leader!

 

 

On Topic

 

Obama's Foreign Policy Rebuked – by His Own Intel Chiefs: William Tate, American Thinker, Feb. 13, 2016 —Barack Obama's foreign policy – and by extension Hillary Clinton's – received a stinging rebuke this week…from Obama's own intelligence chiefs.

America Makes a U-Turn in the Middle East: Tony Badran, Tablet, Feb. 4, 2016—The administration of President Barack Obama seldom missed an opportunity to insist that the alternative to the Iran nuclear deal was a war with Iran, a prospect that has now presumably been kicked further down the road. Middle Easterners are not so lucky: They get to fight their wars with Iran right now.

Why Obama Will Get Away With Closing Gitmo: Eli Lake & Josh Rogin, New York Post, Jan. 16, 2016—President Obama is determined to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and if he decides to do so without Congress, there may be little his opponents can do to stop him. Since his State of the Union Address Tuesday, the administration has sped up the effort significantly. Ten prisoners were transferred this week. Ninety-three prisoners remain, 34 of whom have been cleared for release.

U.S. and Allies Weigh Military Action Against ISIS in Libya: Eric Schmitt & Helene Cooper, New York Times, Jan. 22 2015—Worried about a growing threat from the Islamic State in Libya, the United States and its allies are increasing reconnaissance flights and intelligence collecting there and preparing for possible airstrikes and commando raids, senior American policy makers, commanders and intelligence officials said this week.