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Tag: Peace process

“PEACE PROCESS” ON HOLD, BUT ABBAS & PALESTINIANS CONTINUE UNDERMINING ISRAEL’S LEGITIMACY

Abbas and Netanyahu UN Speeches Signal the 30-Year Peace Process Is Dead: Ben Cohen, JNS, Oct. 4, 2018— There was one corner of New York City last Thursday where the Senate Judicial Committee hearings into the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh went largely unnoticed…

President Trump, Tell the Palestinians: No Negotiations Without Recognition of Jewish Self-Determination: Dr. Robert P. Barnidge, Jr., BESA, Oct. 14, 2018— The great promise of the letters exchanged between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat in September 1993 was that Israel and the Palestinians (and the Arab world more generally) seemed on the cusp of peace.

The Palestinian Battle Against a Plan that Does Not Exist: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 15, 2018 — No Palestinian — or anyone else for that matter — has been made privy to US President Donald J. Trump’s long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, which has also been referred to as the “deal of the century.”

Trump Is Reinventing the U.S. Approach to the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: Robert Malley & Aaron David Miller, Atlantic, Sept. 20, 2018— Recent months have seen a series of dramatic steps by the Trump administration with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…

On Topic Links

‘Trump Peace Plan Will Focus on Israel’s Security Needs’: Arutz Sheva, Aug. 10, 2018

Palestinian Leadership Threatens To Boycott United Nations Peace Envoy: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Oct. 15, 2018

No Hope for Mideast Peace if the Palestinians Won’t Renounce Terrorism: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Sept. 25, 2018

The Fallout: Yoni Ben Menachem, Jerusalem Online, Oct. 14, 2018

 

                    ABBAS AND NETANYAHU UN SPEECHES SIGNAL THE

                                       30-YEAR PEACE PROCESS IS DEAD

                                                          Ben Cohen

JNS, Oct. 4, 2018

There was one corner of New York City last Thursday where the Senate Judicial Committee hearings into the accusations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh went largely unnoticed: the United Nations building perched on the East River, where the 73rd General Assembly has been in full swing this week.

But while the proceedings in Washington were electrifying, the spectacle at the United Nations had all the feel of an annual routine. Most of all, there were the usual lengthy speeches, laden with protocol and platitudes, and delivered by world leaders of varying rank whose visits to Manhattan for the diplomatic season are of dubious value to the taxpayers who underwrite them.

And then Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu came along on Thursday morning. In different ways, both their speeches ventured into territory similar to that under the spotlight in Washington, with its underlying themes of unanswered aggression and injustice, punctuated by reputational smears and factual distortions. Moreover, and again in different ways, both speeches pointed even uninformed listeners to the conclusion that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, at least as conceived over the last 30 years, is now dead.

Abbas, in particular, sounded like a throwback to the 1970s, when the Palestine Liberation Organization was committed to a unified ”secular democratic” state stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the River Jordan. Those were also the days when the PLO, with Soviet assistance, began pushing the libel that Israel is an “apartheid” state. In his UN speech, Abbas asserted exactly that point with relish, arguing that the recently passed law designating Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people was the final seal on the inherently discriminatory character of the Jewish state.

This was the launch pad for some even more hyperbolic observations. According to Abbas, the Palestinians are the only nation on earth denied the right to self-determination — apparently, the Kurds, the Sahrawis, and the Tibetans don’t exist. Towards the end of the speech, he even questioned whether the international community, which has lavished billions of dollars on the Palestinian Authority over the last two decades, regarded the Palestinians as human beings. Moreover, Abbas continued, the Palestinians are wise to the use of humanitarian aid as a political trick and will never accept anything less than a full state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital. Getting to that point will require a definitive break with the US-led peace process, he argued, since the United States is now unambiguously in Israel’s corner. It will also require more “sacrifices” from the steadfast Palestinian people; this from a man whose mandate to govern those same Palestinians ran out 10 years ago.

Ultimately, Abbas’ speech was a plea to retain the Palestinian question as the central challenge in the Middle East. While that argument was once taken for granted, especially by the Europeans, the wars in Iraq and Syria, the rise of Sunni Islamism, and the looming Iranian threat all suggest a very different reality. So, at the same time as facing what he insists is Israeli and American duplicity, Abbas has to contend with a loss of status. And all this while Hamas in Gaza refuses to accept the PA’s rule — perhaps the most revealing of all of Abbas’ complaints, but one that was easily lost amid his verbal assaults on Israel and America.

When Netanyahu came to the podium about an hour later, his speech was the perfect illustration of why Abbas sounds so desperate. I didn’t time it exactly, but we were probably 30 minutes into the speech before he even said the word “Palestinian.” The Middle East, as presented by the Israeli prime minister, has evolved dramatically as a result of the empowerment of Iran enabled by the 2015 nuclear deal — so much so that the old divide between Israel and the Arab states over the Palestinians has been overtaken by an unprecedented spirit of unity in the face of Iran’s military interventions across the region. Preventing Iran from weaponizing its nuclear program is a goal shared by states across the Middle East, and as Netanyahu sees it, it is one whose urgency far surpasses the unresolved Palestinian question.

To expect Abbas, one of the few surviving members of the PLO’s founding generation, to adjust to this reality is a fantasy. Although the Palestinian leader has continually confounded predictions of his imminent demise, it will probably have occurred to Abbas that Thursday may well be the last time he addresses the UN. In which case, he will have deliberately left a legacy of conflict, rather than the transformative strategic thinking the Palestinians desperately require if they are to achieve the two-state solution that President Trump says he “likes.”

In the final analysis, Abbas’ speech to the UN confirmed that the Palestinian Authority and the PLO are returning to their old game of undermining Israel’s legitimacy at every turn. Netanyahu’s speech demonstrated that while Israel is aware of the Palestinian retreat into maximalism, there are bigger problems that his country is facing. Ironically, it is the prospect of renewed warfare between Fatah and Hamas, strongly hinted at by Abbas, that is more likely than anything else to drag Israel’s attention away from Tehran.                                                  Contents

   

            PRESIDENT TRUMP, TELL THE PALESTINIANS: NO NEGOTIATIONS WITHOUT RECOGNITION OF JEWISH SELF-DETERMINATION

                                                Dr. Robert P. Barnidge, Jr.                                                                                                                  BESA, Oct. 14, 2018

The great promise of the letters exchanged between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat in September 1993 was that Israel and the Palestinians (and the Arab world more generally) seemed on the cusp of peace. After all, Israel recognized the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. And the PLO, for its part, formally renounced violence, agreed to negotiate with Israel and accept relevant UN Security Council resolutions, and recognized the “right of the state of Israel to exist in peace and security.”

Yet, while the “peace process” has frozen the conflict, a final agreement seems unlikely for the foreseeable future. A return to first principles is needed. Rather than endlessly focus on renewing negotiations, an alternative paradigm should be applied. The onus must shift to the Palestinians to demonstrate their acceptance of Jewish self-determination. The Middle East Forum’s Israel Victory Project, which has received bipartisan support in the US Congress and both coalition and opposition support in the Israeli Knesset, is spearheading such an initiative. Its fresh perspective should be supported.

While President Donald Trump was right to reiterate the American commitment to a “future of peace and stability in the region, including peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” when he addressed the UN General Assembly on September 25, this is not enough. He should demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state and insist that the US will not press Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians unless and until that happens.

A Jewish state for the Jewish people, after all, was exactly what the General Assembly intended in November 1947 when it called for the partition of the Palestine Mandate into “the Arab State, the Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem.” Although the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state does not stand or fall on this resolution – in declaring the independence of Israel on the eve of the Sabbath on May 14, 1948, the Jewish People’s Council also stressed the Jewish people’s natural and historic rights – it reaffirms the legitimacy of Jewish national rights in (what was to become) the state of Israel.

The Palestinians have steadfastly refused to recognize Jewish self-determination. To be clear, in recognizing Israel’s right to exist in peace and security in September 1993, the PLO was not, as might have been thought, accepting Jewish national rights. It was playing a double game. Chairman Arafat made this clear in a leaked speech delivered in a Johannesburg mosque in May 1994 when we called upon the umma, the Islamic nation, to “fight, to begin the jihad to liberate Jerusalem.”

It is not simply that the PLO supported the General Assembly’s determination in 1975, rescinded in 1991, that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” It is that that the PLO leadership continues to speak of Jews as a religious community rather than a People, and of Zionism as a colonial usurper rather than the national-liberation movement that it is.  And this is to say nothing of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, which controls the Gaza Strip.

More troubling still is that the “State of Palestine” is party to the Arab Charter on Human Rights (2004), which describes Zionism as a “violation of human rights,” a “threat to international peace and security,” and a “fundamental obstacle to the realization of the basic rights of peoples.” This treaty goes on to require its adherents to “condemn and endeavor to eliminate” Zionism. (Sadly, the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights [1981] also calls for the elimination of Zionism.)

A plausible reading of the Arab human rights treaty would commit the Palestinians to the destruction of Israel. What else can be meant by calling for the condemnation and elimination of Zionism? This is unacceptable, and irreconcilable with the idea of good faith peacemaking with the Jewish state. Any peace reached between Israel and the Palestinians, as remote as it may seem, would surely be a hollow “peace in our time” without the recognition of Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state. The US should not expect Israel to negotiate with the Palestinians absent this recognition.

Almost more than anything else, President Trump values loyalty. He knows that Israel, often beleaguered and abused in the international arena, is one of the US’s strongest allies because Washington and Jerusalem share both strategic interests and liberal democratic values. To his credit, Trump has spoken some hard truths in defense of these shared interests and values. He has wisely withdrawn the US from the UN Human Rights Council, a bastion of anti-Israel vitriol that rivals the now defunct UN Human Rights Commission. He moved the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, cut funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and ordered the PLO’s Washington office closed. These and other measures further the Israel Victory Project’s mission to bolster Israel on its path to victory over Palestinian rejectionism. They are a step in the right direction.

Israel without Zionism is not Israel. Israel without Zionism loses its purpose and raison d’être. Israel, with a new Basic Law describing it as the “nation state of the Jewish People, in which it realizes its natural, cultural, religious, and historical right to self-determination,” is inconceivable without Zionism. That PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas recently denounced this new law in the General Assembly as a “gross breach and real danger, both politically and legally, and reminds us of the apartheid state that existed in South Africa” and, on behalf of the “State of Palestine,” filed a lawsuit against the US in the International Court of Justice over the embassy move shows that he just does not get it. President Trump should make all of this clear to the Palestinians, Israel, and the world.

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          THE PALESTINIAN BATTLE AGAINST A PLAN THAT DOES NOT EXIST                                       Khaled Abu Toameh

                                                Gatestone Institute, Oct. 15, 2018

No Palestinian — or anyone else for that matter — has been made privy to US President Donald J. Trump’s long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, which has also been referred to as the “deal of the century.” This minor detail however, has not prevented the Palestinians from rejecting the rumored plan, on the pretext that it is aimed at “liquidating” the Palestinian cause and national rights.

Hardly a day passes without Palestinian leaders and officials across the political spectrum behaving as if they know every detail of the “deal of the century.” The Palestinians are not even prepared to wait until the US administration actually presents a plan. The Palestinian rejection of a yet-to-be-announced peace plan should not surprise anyone. The Palestinians will never accept any plan from a US administration they consider extremely “hostile” to the Palestinians and “biased” in favor of Israel.

Even before Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, the Palestinians had made up their minds: As Trump administration is on the side of Israel, and its policies seem mainly designed to appease and strengthen Israel, the Palestinians apparently decided that they should boycott the US administration. This boycott is unlikely to end in the foreseeable future, especially in light of continued Palestinian denunciations of the US administration and its policies towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinians, it appears, have become hostage to their own vitriolic rhetoric. It is hard to see how after nearly a year of attacks on the Trump administration, any Palestinian leader would be able to accept the proposed “deal of the century,” no matter what is in it, or to have any dealings with US officials. The massive anti-US campaign that the Palestinian leaders have been waging for the past few months in the media and every available platform has made it impossible, if not dangerous, for any Palestinian leader to do business with the Trump administration.

While Palestinian hatred for Trump and his administration does not come as a surprise, what is strange is that the two Palestinians factions — Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip — are now using the President Trump’s awaited plan to throw mud at one another. The two rival Palestinian parties have been at each other’s throats for many years and are still engaged in a power struggle. Hamas and Fatah hate each other so much that they are even prepared to accuse each other of “collaborating with the enemies,” America and Israel.

President Trump is most likely unaware that he has secret Palestinian “agents” working for him in Fatah and Hamas. This is only true, of course, if one is to take seriously the mutual accusations made by Fatah and Hamas. Welcome to the Palestinians’ Theater of the Absurd, where fabrication, lies and conspiracy theories have long been part of the fabric of Palestinian culture and society. It is a sign of the times that Fatah, ruled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, would accuse Hamas of being in collusion with an Israeli-American plot “to destroy the Palestinian national project.” In other words, Fatah is telling the world that Hamas — an Islamist movement that has killed and injured thousands of Jews and many others since its establishment three decades ago — is now working with the enemies of the Palestinians against the interests of its own people.

Consider, for example, the reaction of the Fatah and its leaders to the recent effort to solve the power shortage in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave of Gaza. Qatar paid for the fuel needed to keep the power plant there running, while Israel facilitated the delivery of the fuel with the help of the United Nations. Outraged by the aid to the Gaza Strip, Abbas’s Fatah claimed that Hamas was “practically implementing the deal of the century.” Fatah seems convinced that Trump’s plan aims at separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip and establishing an independent Palestinian state only in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and its leader, Abbas, claim that Hamas’s readiness to conduct indirect negotiations with Israel — about a truce and humanitarian and economic aid to the Gaza Strip — facilitates the US administration’s goal of “consolidating” the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

According to a statement issued by Fatah in Ramallah, the (unseen) “deal of the century” requires Palestinians to “give up Jerusalem and the right of return and the right for compensation for Palestinian refugees.” Trump’s plan, according to Fatah’s imagination, also envisages separating the West Bank from the Gaza Strip “to prevent the establishment of an independent and sovereign state, on the pre-1967 armistice lines, with Jerusalem as its capital.”…

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

   

TRUMP IS REINVENTING THE U.S. APPROACH TO THE PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT

Robert Malley & Aaron David Miller

Atlantic, Sept. 20, 2018

Recent months have seen a series of dramatic steps by the Trump administration with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, defunding the agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, cutting West Bank aid, shutting down the PLO mission in Washington, and persistently promising to present its own peace plan. The flurry of activity comes even as the prospects of an actual deal seem increasingly remote. The Palestinian leadership has made clear it won’t so much as glance at any U.S. proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has suggested there would be no harm in taking more time before unveiling it, and Arab leaders whose support, or at least acquiescence, the administration deems crucial to the enterprise have voiced their own qualms and politely distanced themselves from the initiative. By now, it would be hard to find anyone serious who takes seriously the notion that the Trump administration will achieve the “ultimate deal.” Which raises the more interesting question: What, exactly, is the Trump team up to?

It being the Trump administration, the answer is not entirely straightforward. But this much is clear: Notwithstanding its repeated vows to the contrary, the primary goal of an administration that has given up on the current Palestinian leadership isn’t to encourage or pressure President Abbas to come to the table. By now, even the Trump team must know that won’t happen. Rather, the objective is to fundamentally reframe the U.S.’s understanding of, and policy toward, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, shifting the focus toward Palestinians’ material, economic concerns while downplaying their political and national ones.

There are other potential explanations for the administration’s decisions, including domestic politics, the president’s determination to live up to those of his campaign pledges that appeal to his natural base, and his team’s desire to align U.S. policies more closely with those of Netanyahu. But give the team at least this much credit: In its relentless, dogged assault against the foundations of traditional U.S. and international policy, it has shown remarkable single-mindedness and sense of purpose. Its first target has been the two-state solution itself. The essence of the approach pursued by the three prior administrations (not to mention several Israeli governments) has been to promote such an outcome, based on the 1967 borders, with territorial modifications meant to address Israeli concerns. This, the current administration has stubbornly refused to endorse. Even if it eventually does so, its reluctance will have delivered a plain message: Palestinians are not necessarily entitled to a state of their own, and Palestinian statehood ought not to be viewed as the natural or inevitable outcome of this process.

The same goes for the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. It has moved its embassy there. It is acknowledging Israel’s long, deep historical and religious attachment to the city. It has done nothing of the sort for the Palestinians. True, it has said that Jerusalem’s ultimate borders and questions of sovereignty are subject to negotiation. Again, however, the meaning is inescapable: In the hierarchy of claims to the holy city, one side’s is indisputable and sacred. The other’s is negotiable and worldly. Finally, there is its policy with respect to Palestinian refugees. Not content with defunding UNRWA, the organization that deals with Palestinian refugees, it has gone further, casting doubt on the salience of the refugee issue itself and claiming the number of refugees recognized by UNRWA is highly inflated. Last week, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, went so far as to suggest that the right of return—the Palestinian aspiration that refugees and their descendants be allowed to return to their homes within the pre-1967 borders of Israel—was now off the table…

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

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On Topic Links

‘Trump Peace Plan Will Focus on Israel’s Security Needs’: Arutz Sheva, Aug. 10, 2018—One of the US officials tasked with drafting a blueprint for Israel-Palestinian peace says it will strongly reflect Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security but will also address Palestinian Authority concerns.

Palestinian Leadership Threatens To Boycott United Nations Peace Envoy: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Oct. 15, 2018—The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has threatened to impose a boycott on United Nations peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov, over his attempts to forge a long-term cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip that could bypass Mahmoud Abbas’ government.

No Hope for Mideast Peace if the Palestinians Won’t Renounce Terrorism: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Sept. 25, 2018—On Sunday Sept. 16, a 17-year-old Palestinian, Khalil Jabarin, from a village near Hebron, plunged a knife into the back of 45-year-old Ari Fuld at the entrance to the Kefar Etzion mall in the West Bank.

The Fallout: Yoni Ben Menachem, Jerusalem Online, Oct. 14, 2018—In the past month, tension has increased between the Palestinian Authority and Egypt following attempts by Egypt to mediate between Hamas and Israel and reach an agreement for long-term calm. Egypt has made the issue of achieving a calm a higher priority than internal Palestinian reconciliation and the possibility of restoring full control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority.

“PEACE PROCESS” EFFORTS DOOMED UNTIL PALESTINIANS RECOGNIZE ISRAEL’S LEGITIMACY

Hamas-Israel Truce Would Be “Painkiller, not Antibiotic”: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Aug. 9, 2018— Intensive efforts are underway to reach a long-term, comprehensive truce arrangement between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel.

Was the Peace Process Doomed to Failure From the Start?: Charles Bybelezer, Media Line, Aug. 1, 2018— The international community spearheaded by its professional peace processors are feverishly working to prevent another full-blown war between Israel and Hamas.

The IOI — ‘If Only Israel’ — Syndrome: David Harris, Times of Israel, July 18, 2018 — IOI is the misguided notion, peddled in the name of Israel’s “best interests” by some in the diplomatic, academic, and media worlds, that if only Israel did this or that, peace with the Palestinians would be at hand.

US Peace Initiatives – Quo Vadis?: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, July 17, 2018 — All US (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives, initiated by Democratic and Republican Presidents, aimed at advancing the cause of peace, while enhancing the US strategic stature. However, all failed on both accounts.

On Topic Links

Israelis and Palestinians Must Unite Against Shared Threat: Jason Greenblatt, CNN, Aug. 9, 2018

Where is Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan?: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2018

Does Trump’s ‘Ultimate Deal’ Reject PLO Propaganda?: David Singer, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 5, 2018

Philip Riteman, Holocaust Survivor Who Taught Canadians ‘It Is Better to Love Than to Hate,’ Dies at 96: Aly Thomson, National Post, Aug. 9, 2018

 

HAMAS-ISRAEL TRUCE WOULD BE “PAINKILLER, NOT ANTIBIOTIC”

Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Aug. 9, 2018

Intensive efforts are underway to reach a long-term, comprehensive truce arrangement between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel. Former members of the Israeli defense establishment have expressed skepticism that such a truce is feasible. In their view, a limited truce might be more realistic. Reaching a broad cease-fire arrangement would be “a very complex maneuver,” said Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, former deputy head of the National Security Council of Israel.

Egypt is leading the attempt, mediating talks and hosting senior Palestinian delegations in Cairo. A high-ranking UN coordinator in the region, Nickolay Mladenov, is also involved. Shay, who today serves as director of research at the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) in Israel, pointed out that a long-term arrangement for Gaza would be possible only if two components are put into place. The first is a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, and the second “is a period of calm between Hamas and the State of Israel. The two things are interlinked,” Shay said.

“In order to obtain a long-term period of calm, there needs to be major investment in the Gazan economy and infrastructure,” he went on. “That means bringing the Palestinian Authority (PA) to Gaza. Because this is a condition, it is very problematic. If you look back, ever since Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, there have been countless attempts, led by Egypt, to reach Palestinian national reconciliation.” None of them have succeeded, Shay pointed out.

Today, while Hamas has an interest in reaching reconciliation with its Palestinian rival, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has no similar sentiment. “Abbas is dragging his feet because he has no interest in promoting this procedure, which would give Hamas gains, but not the PA,” said Shay. “If internal Palestinian reconciliation is the condition for an Israel-Hamas arrangement, then very large question marks will remain over this.”

On the other hand, a more limited truce involving the end of Gazan border demonstrations – and the cessation of incendiary kite and balloon attacks from Gaza, which have burned large swaths of Israeli farmland, harmed wildlife, and affected Israel’s honey production before Rosh Hashanah – is feasible. In exchange, Shay said, Israel could reopen the Kerem Shalom border crossing, allowing more materials to flow into Gaza, and expand the fishing zone for Palestinian fishermen.

“The more limited the agreement, the more limited its ability to improve the Gazan economic situation,” he cautioned. Therefore, “it is like a painkiller, not an antibiotic. It does not significantly change the situation on the ground.” Any such arrangement should also include the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers held by Hamas, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in combat during the 2014 Gaza conflict, in addition to the return of two Israeli nationals being held captive by Hamas. “This must be a condition,” Shay said.

Echoing Shay’s assessment, Dr. Col. (res.) Moshe Elad, one of the designers of the security coordination between the IDF and the PA, said any attempt to reach a full agreement was very likely to end in failure. “There are a number of arenas involved; each is more complex than the other,” said Elad, currently a lecturer at Western Galilee College. Hamas and the PA have failed at all previous attempts to settle their differences, and “this time will be no different,” he said.

On the Israel-Hamas front, Israel will want “full quiet” as part of a large package deal. But “Hamas has never agreed to full quiet,” Elad noted. “I don’t remember it ever agreeing to this.” “There are smaller [armed] groups in Gaza that are known as the rebellious groups. The truth is, if Hamas wants to, it can rein them in. But the problem is that Hamas does not want to stop them. It wants to use them to threaten Israel. Israel will insist on full quiet. It will insist that not even a single shot is fired. Hamas won’t agree to that,” Elad said.

All the economic benefits being offered to Gaza as part of a package deal – an improvement in water and electricity supplies, the construction of a seaport, the cancellation of debts owed by the Hamas government, a relaxation of the Israeli security blockade – hinge on a PA-Hamas agreement, but Elad does not see “any intention” by the PA to agree to this since Abbas would emerge as “the main loser.” “What incentive does he have for it to succeed?” he asked.

At best, if Hamas finds its back to the wall, it might agree to freeze the activities of its military wing and place its members on leave, said Elad. “But they will never disband the military wing” as the PA has demanded. Doing so would symbolize “cancelling the resistance” from Hamas’s perspective, which would be unthinkable for the hardline Islamist organization. According to Elad, recriminations over “why this didn’t work out” will likely emerge within days.

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WAS THE PEACE PROCESS DOOMED TO FAILURE FROM THE START?

Charles Bybelezer

                                                Media Line, Aug. 1, 2018

 

The international community spearheaded by its professional peace processors are feverishly working to prevent another full-blown war between Israel and Hamas. As part of this effort, United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov has been conducting intensive shuttle diplomacy between Jerusalem, Gaza City and Cairo in a bid to forge a long-term ceasefire agreement.

According to media accounts, ideas being floated include the immediate cessation of hostilities, specifically the launching from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel of primitive incendiary objects and corresponding Israeli military strikes on Hamas assets; the complete re-opening of Israel’s Kerem Shalom border crossing, through which thousands of trucks of goods enter the Palestinian enclave; and expanding the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast.

This, within the broader context of major Gaza rehabilitation projects being dangled in front of Hamas. Concurrently, a parallel, although intersecting, initiative is underway to end the decade-long divide between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction and Hamas. Among the issues purportedly being negotiated are removing Ramallah’s sanctions on Gaza; restoring PA administrative rule over the Strip; and disarming Hamas. Essentially, these constitute the same terms of a failed intra-Palestinian reconciliation accord signed this past October in Cairo, and, beforehand, formed the basis of an original deal agreed to four years ago under the auspices of Qatar.

Meanwhile, it is business as usual in the Israeli political arena, with the Left promoting the unilateral removal of the blockade on Gaza without explaining why Hamas might subsequently be expected to reform itself; whereas, on the other end of the spectrum members of the Right are engaged in familiar one-upmanship, as Education Minister Naftali Bennet tries to outflank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman attempts to outdo them both. This dynamic is comparable to that of 2014, when Bennett and Liberman pressured the premier to take a harder line on Hamas, effectively resulting in an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza during the 50-day conflict. One year later, Hamas had essentially reconstructed its war machine.

All of this comes on the backdrop of the Trump administration’s ongoing work on an Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal, dubbed the “deal of the century.” While the plan reportedly contains some “out-of-the-box” suggestions to resolve longstanding “final status” issues, the fact of the matter is that almost nobody believes that either side is in a position to deliver. Netanyahu is hamstrung by the make-up of his coalition and his own stringent demands on the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and future security arrangements that are anyways non-starters for the PA. For his part, Abbas is constrained by his regime’s indoctrination of the Palestinian public to oppose outright the notion of Jewish sovereignty.

In other words, then, it appears as though absolutely nothing new under the sun is being proposed along any of these three diplomatic tracks, thus begging the question: Has the process morphed into an end in itself, devoid of any realistic expectations of success?

In this respect, it seems increasingly unlikely that Mladenov and Co. will be able to prevent the next round of fighting in Gaza, which most maintain is inevitable for widely-cited reasons even though neither Israel nor Hamas wants any part of it. At the same time, it is unreasonable to assume that Abbas will suddenly accept responsibility for governing Gaza when Hamas still refuses to cede its weapons or allow PA security forces to deploy to the enclave.

Finally, in terms of forging a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace, it can only be viewed as a pipe-dream considering the above-mentioned, less complicated issues—which, for that matter, are integral components of a potential wider deal—remain unsettled. Notably, that the PA continues to boycott the US administration has conveniently been swept under the rug…

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

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                    THE IOI — ‘IF ONLY ISRAEL’ — SYNDROME  

                                                  David Harris

                                                Times of Israel, July 18, 2018

IOI is the misguided notion, peddled in the name of Israel’s “best interests” by some in the diplomatic, academic, and media worlds, that if only Israel did this or that, peace with the Palestinians would be at hand. But since it doesn’t, then Israel constitutes the principal, perhaps the only, real obstacle to a new day in Israeli-Palestinian relations.

Striking, isn’t it? Poor Israel. If only it had the visual acuity of these “enlightened” souls, including, most recently, a slim majority of Irish senators, then all would be hunky-dory. After all, according to them, Israel holds all the cards, yet refuses to play them. The thinking goes: Why can’t those shortsighted Israelis figure out what needs to be done — it’s so obvious to us, isn’t it? — so the conflict can be brought to a screeching halt?

Thus, if only Israel reversed its settlements policy. If only Israel understood that Gaza’s tunnel-diggers and kite-flyers are just exercising their right of “peaceful protest.” If only the IDF restrained itself. If only Israel stopped assuming the worst about Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. If only Israel went the extra mile with President Mahmoud Abbas. If only Israel got beyond its Holocaust trauma. If only Israel ______ — well, go ahead and fill in the blank.

The point is that for the IOI crowd, it essentially all comes down to Israel. And the IOI syndrome has only been strengthened by its adherents’ assessment of the current Israeli government, of course. After all, many media outlets, from the Associated Press to CBS News to Der Spiegel, branded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “hardline” from the get-go. Their word choice simply reinforces the notion that the conflict is all about alleged Israeli intransigence, while generally avoiding any descriptive judgement of Abbas and his entourage.

At moments like this, it’s important to underscore a few basic points too often lost in the din. First, the Netanyahu government follows on the heels of three successive Israeli governments that sought to achieve peace based on a two-state settlement with the Palestinians — and failed. Each of those governments went far in attempting to strike a deal, but, ultimately, to no avail.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak, joined by President Bill Clinton, tried mightily to reach an agreement with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. As confirmed by Clinton himself, the answer was a thunderous rejection, accompanied by the launching of a deadly wave of terror attacks on Israel. And, not to be forgotten, a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon also took place during the Barak era. It was met by the entrenchment of Hezbollah, committed to Israel’s destruction, in the vacated space.

Then, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defied his own Likud Party — indeed, he left it to create a new political bloc — and faced down thousands of settlers and their supporters to leave Gaza entirely. It was the first chance ever for Gaza’s Arab residents to govern themselves. Had Gazans seized the opportunity in a responsible manner, they could have created unstoppable momentum for a second phase of significant withdrawal from the West Bank. Instead, Gaza quickly turned itself into a terrorist redoubt, realizing Israelis’ worst fears.

Finally, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, joined by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and urged on by Washington, pressed hard for a deal with the Palestinians on the West Bank. According to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, the Israeli offer “talked about Jerusalem and almost 100 percent of the West Bank.” Not only was the far-reaching offer not accepted, but there wasn’t even a counter-proposal from the Palestinian side.

Prime Minister Netanyahu inherited a situation in which: (a) Hamas holds the reins of power in Gaza, spends precious funds on digging tunnels to attack Israel, flies kites to set extensive fires in Israel, and teaches kids to aspire to “martyrdom”; (b) Hezbollah is continuing to gain strength in Lebanon, thanks to Iranian largesse, and has tens of thousands of missiles and rockets in its arsenal; (c) the Palestinian Authority has been AWOL from the negotiating table; and (d) Iran continues to call for Israel’s destruction, while enhancing its military capability, entrenching itself in Syria, and funding Hamas. So before Israel gets any further lectures on what needs to be done, perhaps we should take stock of what’s transpired — and why. There have been at least three bold Israeli efforts since 2000 to create a breakthrough — and three successive failures. And that’s not to mention Netanyahu’s ten-month settlement freeze and the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to seize this opportunity to break the stalemate.

The vast majority of Israelis yearn for peace and understand the considerable price the country will have to pay in territory and displaced population. Poll after poll proves their readiness, but only if they are assured that lasting peace, not new phases in the conflict, will be the outcome. Tellingly, few see that possibility on the horizon anytime soon. Israelis don’t have to be pushed, prodded, nudged, cajoled, or pressured to seek a comprehensive peace beyond the current treaties with Egypt and Jordan. More than any other nation on the planet, they have lived with the absence of peace for 70 years, and know full well the physical and psychological toll it has inflicted on the country. Rather, they must be convinced that the tangible rewards justify the immense risks for a small state in a tough area. Those rewards begin with its neighbors’ acceptance of Israel’s rightful place in the region as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders. And that, far more than settlements, checkpoints, or any of the other items on the IOI bill of particulars, gets to the essence of the conflict.

The Gaza disengagement in 2005 demonstrated that settlements and checkpoints can be removed when the time comes. But unless and until the Palestinian side recognizes Israel’s legitimacy, and stops viewing the Jewish state as an “interloper” that can be defeated militarily or swamped by “refugees”— who are in most cases third- and fourth-generation descendants of the original refugees from a war started in 1948 by the Arab world — then whatever the IOI folks call for will inevitably be a secondary issue in the real world. Only when this recognition is reflected in Palestinian textbooks, where children have been taught for generations that Israelis are modern-day “Crusaders” to be driven out, can there be hope for a brighter future…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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US PEACE INITIATIVES – QUO VADIS?

Yoram Ettinger

Jewish Press, July 17, 2018

 

All US (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives, initiated by Democratic and Republican Presidents, aimed at advancing the cause of peace, while enhancing the US strategic stature. However, all failed on both accounts. The well-intentioned US peace initiatives were doomed to failure by the tendency to downplay the complex intra-Arab/Muslim Middle East reality, since they conflicted with the eagerness to advance peace ASAP, wishful-thinking and oversimplification.

US peace initiatives were the casualties of the inherent conflict between Western eagerness for quick-fix and short-term convenience, on the one hand, and the long-term and complicated nature of the intricate reality and national security, on the other hand. US peace initiatives were frustrated by the tectonic forces which have shaped the well-documented intra-Arab/Muslim labyrinth since the birth of Islam in the 7th century: explosive unpredictability, violence, intolerance (religiously, ethnically, politically and socially), absence of peaceful-coexistence domestically and regionally, minority/rogue regimes, disregard of civil liberties, brutal domestic fragmentation (tribally, ideologically and religiously) and the tenuous/provisional nature of regimes, policies and agreements.

Moreover, the US peace initiatives were further derailed by the politically-correct assumptions that the Arab-Israeli conflict has been “The Middle East Conflict” and that the Palestinian issue has been the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a core-cause of Middle East turbulence and a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making. Such assumptions have been dashed against the rocks of Middle East reality, as highlighted by the 2010 eruption of the still-raging Arab Tsunami (erroneously named “the Arab Spring”), which has been totally unrelated to the dramatically less significant Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue. Furthermore, the preoccupation with the Palestinian issue – at a time when the Middle East and the US are confronted with significantly more pivotal national and homeland security challenges/threats – has damaged the US posture of deterrence and its regional and global standing.

All US peace initiatives attempted to force Israel into making major concessions to the Arab/Palestinian side, thus rewarding systematic Arab aggression, which encouraged further aggression. These initiatives exhibited the self-defeating moral equivalence between (Arab) aggressors and the intended (Israeli) victim; between the most effective, unconditional strategic ally of the US (Israel), and a close ally of enemies and rivals of the US, such as Nazi Germany, the USSR, the Ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela (the Palestinians); and between the role model of counter-terrorism (Israel) and a role model and a major training ground of anti-US terrorists and a shrine of hate-education (the Palestinians).

The subversive and terroristic track record of the Palestinians, and their closest allies, sheds light on the inherent contradiction between the need to minimize Middle East instability and violence, on the one hand, and the attempt to establish a Palestinian state, on the other hand. US peace initiatives have forced the Palestinians, in particular, and the Arabs, in general, to outflank the (“infidel”) US from the maximalist/radical side, thus further intensifying conflict and disagreements. Contrary to the well-meant goal of the US peace initiatives, this added fuel – not water – to the fire, exacerbated instability and undermined US diplomatic and geo-strategic posture and interests.  One may note that in spite of the US presidential recognition of the PLO, its support for the idea of a Palestinian state and sustained pressure on Israel to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the US has been systematically terrorized by Shite and Sunni Islamic terrorism…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Israelis and Palestinians Must Unite Against Shared Threat: Jason Greenblatt, CNN, Aug. 9, 2018 —With the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, it is hard to imagine that deadly fires brought the two groups together — not once, but twice — in a display of shared humanity. Yet, in 2010 and again in 2016, Palestinians fought fires in northern Israel alongside their Israeli neighbors, saving lives and property.

Where is Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan?: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2018—US President Donald Trump’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace may be the most closely guarded policy secret in Washington these days, 18 months in the making and yet still known only to the small handful of men behind it. Senior administration officials describe the plan as detailed, pragmatic, and essentially complete. All that prevents them from publishing it is their sense that the timing is off.

Does Trump’s ‘Ultimate Deal’ Reject PLO Propaganda?: David Singer, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 5, 2018 —President Trump’s as-yet unannounced “ultimate deal” to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict has received a setback following Saudi Arabia’s King Salman reassuring Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that Saudi Arabia would oppose any Trump peace plan that did not accept the PLO stance on East Jerusalem becoming the capital of an independent Palestinian Arab state.

Philip Riteman, Holocaust Survivor Who Taught Canadians ‘It Is Better to Love Than to Hate,’ Dies at 96: Aly Thomson, National Post, Aug. 9, 2018—Holocaust survivor Philip Riteman, who spent 30 years speaking to young people about his experience in concentration camps and ardently urging love over hate, has died.

 

 

 

 

TRUMP’S CRITICS WRONGLY ACCUSE HIM OF BETRAYING THE U.S. & ALLIES OVER RUSSIA AND NATO

Who is Betraying America?: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2018 — Did US President Donald Trump commit treason in Helsinki when he met Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin? Should he be impeached?

NATO has Weaknesses, and Trump Right to Prod It: Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post, July 15, 2018 — As President Trump put Germany and other allies on notice for the harm they are doing to NATO with their failure to spend adequately on our common defense, Democrats in Washington came to Germany’s defense.

Pivots and Pitfalls as President Trump Eyes New Mideast Peace Push Through Gaza: Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, The Hill, July 12, 2018 — Gifting an Elton John CD to “Little Rocket Man,” pulling the plug on the Iran nuclear deal, slapping billions of dollars in tariffs on China, shaking up NATO’s status quo, downsizing the State Department.

Is Donald Trump the Oscar Wilde of Our Degraded Digital Age?: Dominic Green, CapX, July 16, 2018— Observers of the diplomatic tour that sacked Brussels, laid waste to Britain, and then ended on a nuclear-tipped grand finale in Helsinki know that, like Oscar Wilde, Donald Trump travels the world with nothing to declare but his genius.

On Topic Links

Listening to the Prophetic Voice: Tisha B’Av 5778: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Jewish Press, July 21, 2018

What, If Anything, Did Trump and Putin Agree On in Helsinki?: Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2018

After Brussels, Trump Will Have Few Offerings for Putin: Aurel Braun, Globe and Mail, July 12, 2018

Donald Trump and the Carl Schmitt Spectrum: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, July 22, 2018

 

WHO IS BETRAYING AMERICA?

Caroline Glick

Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2018

Did US President Donald Trump commit treason in Helsinki when he met Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin? Should he be impeached? That is what his opponents claim. Former president Barack Obama’s CIA director John Brennan accused Trump of treason outright. Brennan tweeted, “Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki [with Putin] rises to and exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.”

Fellow senior Obama administration officials, including former FBI director James Comey, former defense secretary Ashton Carter, and former deputy attorney general Sally Yates parroted Brennan’s accusation. Almost the entire US media joined them in condemning Trump for treason. Democratic leaders have led their own charge. Democratic Congressman Steve Cohen from Tennessee insinuated the US military should overthrow the president, tweeting, “Where are our military folks? The Commander-in-Chief is in the hands of our enemy!”

Senate minority leader Charles Schumer said that Trump is controlled by Russia. And Trump’s Republican opponents led by senators Jeff Flake and John McCain attacked him as well. Trump allegedly committed treason when he refused to reject Putin’s denial of Russian interference in the US elections in 2016 and was diffident in relation to the US intelligence community’s determination that Russia did interfere in the elections.

Trump walked back his statement from Helsinki at a press appearance at the White House Tuesday. But it is still difficult to understand what all the hullaballoo about the initial statement was about. AP reporter John Lemire placed Trump in an impossible position. Noting that Putin denied meddling in the 2016 elections and the intelligence community insists that Russia meddled, he asked Trump, “Who do you believe?”

If Trump had said that he believed his intelligence community and gave no credence to Putin’s denial, he would have humiliated Putin and destroyed any prospect of cooperative relations. Trump tried to strike a balance. He spoke respectfully of both Putin’s denials and the US intelligence community’s accusation. It wasn’t a particularly coherent position. It was a clumsy attempt to preserve the agreements he and Putin reached during their meeting. And it was blindingly obviously not treason.

In fact, Trump’s response to Lemire, and his overall conduct at the press conference, did not convey weakness at all. Certainly he was far more assertive of US interests than Obama was in his dealings with Russia. In Obama’s first summit with Putin in July 2009, Obama sat meekly as Putin delivered an hour-long lecture about how US-Russian relations had gone down the drain.

As Daniel Greenfield noted at Frontpage magazine Tuesday, in succeeding years, Obama capitulated to Putin on anti-missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic, on Ukraine, Georgia and Crimea. Obama gave Putin free rein in Syria and supported Russia’s alliance with Iran on its nuclear program and its efforts to save the Assad regime. He permitted Russian entities linked to the Kremlin to purchase a quarter of American uranium. And of course, Obama made no effort to end Russian meddling in the 2016 elections.

Trump in contrast has stiffened US sanctions against Russian entities. He has withdrawn from Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran. He has agreed to sell Patriot missiles to Poland. And he has placed tariffs on Russian exports to the US. So if Trump is Putin’s agent, what was Obama? Given the nature of Trump’s record, and the context in which he made his comments about Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, the question isn’t whether he did anything wrong. The question is why are his opponents accusing him of treason for behaving as one would expect a president to behave? What is going on?

The answer to that is clear enough. Brennan signaled it explicitly when he tweeted that Trump’s statements “exceed the threshold of ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’” The unhinged allegations of treason are supposed to form the basis of impeachment hearings. The Democrats and their allies in the media use the accusation that Trump is an agent of Russia as an elections strategy. Midterm elections are consistently marked with low voter turnout. So both parties devote most of their energies to rallying their base and motivating their most committed members to vote.

To objective observers, the allegation that Trump betrayed the United States by equivocating in response to a rude question about Russian election interference is ridiculous on its face. But Democratic election strategists have obviously concluded that it is catnip for the Democratic faithful. For them it serves as a dog whistle. The promise of impeachment for votes is too radical to serve as an official campaign strategy. For the purpose of attracting swing voters and not scaring moderate Democrats away from the party and the polls, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer say they have no interest in impeaching Trump. Impeachment talk, they insist, is a mere distraction.

But by embracing Brennan’s claim of treason, Pelosi, Hoyer, Schumer and other top Democrats are winking and nodding to the progressive radicals now rising in their party. They are telling the Linda Sarsours and Cynthia Nixons of the party that they will impeach Trump if they win control of the House of Representatives. The problem with playing domestic politics on the international scene is that doing so has real consequences for international security and for US national interests…

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

 

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NATO HAS WEAKNESSES, AND TRUMP RIGHT TO PROD IT

Marc A. Thiessen

Washington Post, July 15, 2018

 

As President Trump put Germany and other allies on notice for the harm they are doing to NATO with their failure to spend adequately on our common defense, Democrats in Washington came to Germany’s defense. “President Trump’s brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement.

Sorry, Trump is right. The real embarrassment is that Germany, one of the wealthiest countries in Europe, spends just 1.24 percent of its gross domestic product on defense — in the bottom half of NATO allies. (The U.S. spends 3.5 percent of GDP on its military.)

A study by McKinsey & Co. notes that about 60 percent of Germany’s Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets and about 80 percent of its Sea Lynx helicopters are unusable. According to Deutsche Welle, a German parliamentary investigation found that “at the end of 2017, no submarines and none of the air force’s 14 large transport planes were available for deployment due to repairs,” and “a Defense Ministry paper revealed German soldiers did not have enough protective vests, winter clothing or tents to adequately take part in a major NATO mission.”

To meet its promised NATO commitments, Germany needs to spend $28 billion more on defense annually. Apparently Germany can’t come up with the money, but it can send billions of dollars to Russia — the country NATO was created to protect against — for natural gas and support a new pipeline that will make Germany and Eastern European allies even more vulnerable to Moscow.

Sadly, Germany is not alone. Belgium, where NATO is headquartered, spends just 0.9 percent of GDP on defense — and fully one-third of its meager defense budget is spent on pensions. European NATO allies have about 1.8 million troops, but less than a third are deployable and just 6 percent for any sustained period. When Trump says NATO is “obsolete,” he is correct — literally. This is not a new problem. I was in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, and vividly recall how, when it came time to take military action in Afghanistan, only a handful of allies had any useful war-fighting capabilities they could contribute during the critical early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom.

At NATO’s 2002 Prague summit, allies pledged to address these deficiencies by spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense and investing that money in more usable capabilities. Instead, defense investments by European allies declined from 1.9 percent of GDP in 2000-2004 to 1.7 percent five years later, dropping further to 1.4 percent by 2015.

Little surprise that when NATO intervened in Libya a decade after 9/11, The Washington Post reported, “Less than a month into the Libyan conflict, NATO is running short of precision bombs, highlighting the limitations of Britain, France and other European countries in sustaining even a relatively small military action over an extended period of time.” An alliance whose founding purpose is to deter Russian aggression could not sustain a limited bombing campaign against a far weaker adversary.

President Barack Obama called NATO allies “free riders,” and President George W. Bush urged allies to “increase their defense investments,” both to little effect. But when Trump refused to immediately affirm that the United States would meet its Article 5 commitment to defend a NATO ally, NATO allies agreed to boost spending by $12 billion last year. That is a drop in the bucket: McKinsey calculated that allies need to spend $107 billion more each year to meet their commitments.

Since polite pressure by his predecessors did not work, Trump is digging in on a harder line: Last week in Brussels, he suggested NATO members double their defense spending targets to 4 percent of GDP. This is not a gift to Russia, as his critics have alleged. The last thing Putin wants is for Trump to succeed in getting NATO to spend more on defense. And if allies are concerned about getting tough with Russia, there is an easy way to do so: invest in the capabilities NATO needs to deter and defend against Russian aggression.

Trump’s hard line also does not signal that he considers NATO irrelevant. If Trump thought NATO was useless, he would not waste his time on it. But if allies don’t invest in real, usable military capabilities, NATO will become irrelevant. An alliance that cannot effectively join the fight when one of its members comes under attack or runs out of munitions in the middle of a military intervention is, by definition, irrelevant. NATO needs some tough love, and Trump is delivering it. Thanks to him, the alliance will be stronger as a result.

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PIVOTS AND PITFALLS AS PRESIDENT TRUMP

EYES NEW MIDEAST PEACE PUSH THROUGH GAZA

Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper

The Hill, July 12, 2018

Gifting an Elton John CD to “Little Rocket Man,” pulling the plug on the Iran nuclear deal, slapping billions of dollars in tariffs on China, shaking up NATO’s status quo, downsizing the State Department. Forget tweets. When it comes to foreign policy, President Donald Trump continues to shake well and stir, often shocking friend and foe alike. Now there are signs the Trump administration is about to nudge the Middle East’s Richter scale with a push for peace that focuses on … Gaza?

Yes, Gaza. Led by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, it appears the United States, with the support or understanding of Israel and key Gulf states, will seek ways to improve the daily lives of Gaza’s people, starting with their electrical grid and water services. Yes, the same Gaza that is ruled with an iron fist by Hamas, a duly-elected terrorist organization whose genocidal, Jew-hating charter calls for Israel’s destruction and invokes the classic anti-Semitic screed, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” The same Hamas that has barred Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from setting foot in the Gaza Strip since his election more than a decade ago.

Is there a method to this new madness? Actually, yes. The Abbas-led Palestinian Authority (PA) never liked President Trump’s views on the Middle East; Abbas and the PA heaped scorn on the U.S. ambassador to Israel even before the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Furthermore, Hamas has made clear it considers any Trump peace plan dead on arrival. Finally, the PA’s ambassador to Tehran has declared President Trump “is a tool of international Zionism.” So, instead of following the well-trodden path of previous U.S. presidents and many European leaders, who have sweetened the PA coffers every time that Abbas cried wolf, the Trump team has decided to bypass Abbas’ West Bank-based regime and instead offer long-suffering Gaza residents hope for a better future.

Israelis would welcome a quiet southern border without having to launch a major military incursion. Gulf states, already pouring millions of dollars into Gaza, would welcome some stability for Palestinians and the region. Working closely with Israel to confront the existential threats from Iran, the United States also could set the stage for open economic and diplomatic relations between Israel and Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and, ultimately, Saudi Arabia. The Trump team believes such seismic developments would force the PA into the game, or sideline it permanently.

This represents a visionary approach, but the Trump administration should keep in mind a few words of caution. First, Team Trump will discover there is no reliable interlocutor on the ground in Gaza. Qatar, a major donor in Gaza, is unlikely to be a reliable partner; it is openly playing a double game, cozying up to Washington and Tehran simultaneously. Second, the administration should not expect any meaningful support from the United Nations. If ever there was an opportunity for the United Nations to live up to its charter, this is it. But, sadly, abject failure to pave the way for long-term peace that recognizes the Jewish state’s right to security and sovereignty is part of the United Nations’ DNA.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency is the largest single employer in Gaza but, rather than playing a moderating influence, UNRWA is de facto controlled by Hamas’ diktats. Witness UNRWA schools closing on May 14-15, the bloodiest days of Hamas-driven riots at the Israeli border; Hamas wanted as many kids at the border, with the hope of driving up the death toll beyond Hamas’ members. Meanwhile UNRWA’s alleged new peace curriculum is actually a war curriculum; not a single map in its new textbooks mentions Israel but there’s still mention of “martyrs” (read “killers of Israelis”).

Every international drive to help the people of Gaza rebuild homes after the last war with Israel resulted in building materials diverted by Hamas to its network of underground terror tunnels. Major humanitarian donors, from the Gulf States to the European Union to Japan, acknowledge there is precious little transparency on how funds are actually spent. So, while it may be worthwhile for President Trump and his team to think out of the box to create new paths toward peace, a good place to start is by acting out of the box. The worst thing America can do is to write another “trust me” check to Hamas. Suits and ties do not transform terrorists into statesmen.

If Hamas really wants to play ball, it must return Israelis — dead and alive — still held hostage in Gaza. And the dropping of its charter must precede any involvement of Hamas in the U.S. plan. If Hamas won’t act in good faith, then the United States should find and empower Palestinians who’ve had enough of terrorist rule. Bolstering Gaza with huge funds could backfire, not only by reversing Israeli success in degrading Hamas’ paramilitary capability, but also by allowing Hamas to emerge the big winner in the West Bank. By swapping an enfeebled Abbas with the Hamas-aligned Muslim Brotherhood, we would enable terrorists to threaten Israel’s heartland…

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

Contents

   

IS DONALD TRUMP THE OSCAR WILDE OF OUR DEGRADED DIGITAL AGE?

Dominic Green

CapX, July 16, 2018

Observers of the diplomatic tour that sacked Brussels, laid waste to Britain, and then ended on a nuclear-tipped grand finale in Helsinki know that, like Oscar Wilde, Donald Trump travels the world with nothing to declare but his genius. And, like the divine Oscar, the less-than-divine Donald is a comedian who mistakes himself for a philosopher, and who knows that if you want to tell people the truth, you should make them laugh. None of the leaders of NATO laughed when Trump told them to raise their defence budgets to 2 per cent of GDP.

Neither did Theresa May double up when Trump mused on an open mike in the garden of Chequers about Boris Johnson’s suitability for her job. Nor did the collective heads of the chuckle fest that is the European Union surrender to a spontaneous outburst of collective jollity when Trump described the EU as an American “foe” when it came to trade. But these are the jokes, folks. There is much truth to all these statements, and much more truth than the professional politicians dare to admit. The laughs, unfortunately, are on us, and all of them are rather bitter. Trump lies in the gutter press, while looking up at the stars and the autocrats.

Trump was accurate when he said that Theresa May’s latest proposals for Brexit aren’t really the Brexit for which her public voted in 2016 and elected her in 2017. Trump is accurate in noting that the EU’s trade regulations do not create a level playing field; African farmers might well agree with him. And Trump is right that most NATO members, and European states in general, have been passing the tab for their security to the US for decades. That includes “you, Angela”, as Trump referred to Angela Merkel, who presides over a massive budget surplus but last year spent only 1.25 per cent of GDP on defence.

This week, when NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg crawled from the smoking rubble of NATO’s headquarters, he protested that eight NATO states are on course to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence this year—an increase from three states in 2014. Those eight were Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, the UK and the US. Stoltenberg didn’t mention Turkey, which spent 3.1 per cent of GDP on defence last year. But then, every else would prefer it if Turkey spent a bit less.

The truth is that five of those eight states have raised their defence budgets because of Russian expansionism. And while Greece spends a lot on defence because it fears Turkey, Turkey in part spends a lot on defence because it fears Russia. Which brings us and The Donald to today’s meeting in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin.

Before the summit, Trump deployed his usual tactics. First he lowered expectations: there wasn’t a fixed agenda, and maybe nothing was going to come of it. Then he raised the ante, by warning that “NATO, I think, has never been stronger” since his recent dose of tough love. And then he raised it further by tweet, while changing the subject: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of US foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!”

This was a classic piece of Trump truth-telling. It started with a feeling of truthiness, but it wasn’t really true in objective terms, and it ended with raging subjectivity. It’s true that US-Russian relations have declined steadily since Putin came to power in 2000, and declined sharply since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014. It’s true that they are now as bad as at any point since the end of the Cold War. But they’re nowhere near as bad as relations between Khrushchev and Kennedy, who came close to war over the Cuban Missile Crisis…

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

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

Listening to the Prophetic Voice: Tisha B’Av 5778: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, Jewish Press, July 21, 2018—At this time, as we recall the destruction of our two Temples, we read three of the most searing passages in prophetic literature, from the beginnings of Jeremiah and Isaiah.

What, If Anything, Did Trump and Putin Agree On in Helsinki?: Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2018—US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Israel, Syria and Iran at their meeting in Helsinki on Monday and in subsequent comments to the press. The public comments provide some insight into their view of the future Middle East. With the Syrian regime conducting a major offensive in the south, the US deeply involved in eastern Syria and Israel demanding that the Iranians leave, these were central topics of concern.

After Brussels, Trump Will Have Few Offerings for Putin: Aurel Braun, Globe and Mail, July 12, 2018—Despite a most inauspicious start, this year’s NATO summit in Brussels turned out to be neither the train wreck that many feared nor an unalloyed success. All the members, it appears, can derive a degree of comfort from what essentially remains a difficult work in progress.

Donald Trump and the Carl Schmitt Spectrum: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, July 22, 2018—Has Donald Trump been reading Carl Schmitt in secret? The thought came to mind the other day when the US president was concluding his two-day “working visit” to the United Kingdom with a series of impromptu statements before flying to Scotland to play golf. It was by using the term “foe” to describe Russia, China and even the European Union that Trump reminded me of Schmitt.

 

 

 

IRAN’S NUCLEAR GOALS AND “MISCHIEF” IN SYRIA, LEBANON, IRAQ, & YEMEN THREATEN U.S. ALLIES

Calm, Poised and a Steady Hand: Yaakov Katz, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 5, 2018— May is going to be quite the month for US President Donald Trump.

Trump and the Fading Ghost of an Illusion.: Amir Taheri, Gatestone Institute, Apr. 1, 2018— Does the appointment of John Bolton as National Security Adviser indicate President Trump’s determination to formally renounce the so-called “nuclear deal” concocted by his predecessor Barack Obama?

The Return of Imperialism: The Islamic Republic of Iran: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Apr. 4, 2018— After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Francis Fukuyama, in a widely publicized book, announced the ultimate triumph of liberal democracy and with it the strong prospect of a longstanding democratic peace.

Iran’s Role in the Boycott Israel Campaign: Asaf Romirowsky & Benjamin Weinthal, National Interest, Mar. 15, 2018— The Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement, better known by the acronym BDS, targeting Israel has largely been viewed as a Palestinian- and Western European-driven campaign with the alleged goal of advancing Palestinian statehood.

 

On Topic Links

US Pro-Iran Lobby’s Attack on NSA Pick John Bolton Highlighted by Tehran Regime’s Official Media: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Mar. 23, 2018

Can the Iran Deal Be Fixed? And Should it Be?: Omri Ceren, Commentary, Mar. 15, 2018

Iranian Nuclear Weapons and ‘Palestine’ — Twin Dangers for Israel: Louis René Beres, Algemeiner, Mar. 29, 2018

Saudi Crown Prince, on U.S. Visit, Urges Tough Line on Iran: Ben Hubbard, New York Times, Mar. 27, 2018

 

CALM, POISED AND A STEADY HAND

Yaakov Katz

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 5, 2018

 

May is going to be quite the month for US President Donald Trump. At some point in the coming weeks, he is expected to sit down for a historic tête-à-tête with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. Around the same time, on May 12, he will come up against the deadline for the Iran nuclear deal.

And then there is the planned transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 15 as well as a proposal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the White House has been working on for the past year. While the Palestinians’ recent anti-American rhetoric made it seem like the proposal had been shelved, the administration is claiming that the plan is still in the works. When will it be presented? That remains to be seen.

Even for Trump – a man who prides himself on being a brilliant deal-maker – this is a lot to handle. Most presidents would choose one or two massive foreign policy challenges of similar scale to tackle throughout their entire presidency, let alone in the span of just a few weeks. For Israel, the issue of utmost concern right now is Iran. On the one hand, there is complete agreement within Israel’s defense and political echelons that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran is bad. It gave the Iranians astounding financial breaks and left them with almost all of their nuclear infrastructure in place. Once the deal’s sunset clauses kick in, Iran’s breakout time to a bomb will be just a few weeks.

On the other hand, there is no arguing the fact that the deal has given Israel a respite. Just a few years ago, the government appeared on the verge of ordering an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. With that threat postponed, the IDF has been able to spend the last few years honing its capabilities ahead of an eventual confrontation while investing in other fronts and needs.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is a vocal proponent of seeing America pull out of the nuclear deal, the question is whether he – or anyone for that matter – knows what will happen the day after. Trump is trying to use the threat of America’s pending withdrawal from the accord as leverage to negotiate a newer and better agreement that will, for example, place restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program, its regional aspirations and the problematic sunset clauses. The Europeans warn that the chances of that happening are slim. The French and German foreign ministers came to Jerusalem recently to explain to Netanyahu that Iran will not agree to a new deal and that if America pulls out, so will Iran.

If that happens, they warned, the only way left to stop Iran will be with military force, and who has the appetite for that? What Europe might not be taking into account though is the possibility that Netanyahu has received assurances from Trump that he will attack Iran if it leaves the deal and begins racing toward a bomb. It is possible that if Iran withdraws and begins enriching uranium to military grade levels, the “fire and fury” Trump once threatened North Korea with, will be diverted to Iran.

But what if that doesn’t happen? What if Trump decides to nix the deal but then fails to follow through with tough negotiations or the threat of military force? Is Israel better off with the deal gone and Iran an even greater threat, or not? What if Trump connects the peace process to the nuclear deal and tells Netanyahu that he will happily take care of Iran, but only if Israel ensures progress on the Palestinian track? This would be the revival of the famous “Bushehr-for-Yitzhar” deal – Bushehr is the site of some of Iran’s nuclear reactors, and Yitzhar is a settlement in Samaria – that Barack Obama reportedly offered Netanyahu in late 2009. Under that deal, Obama was supposed to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program would be stopped, and Israel would, in exchange, facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The deal, of course, never materialized. A Palestinian state was never established and the 2015 nuclear deal failed to completely stop Iran’s race to the bomb. Is Trump planning such linkage between Iran and the Palestinians? It remains to be seen, although the timing of how this all plays out could be a sign of what is coming. Just days after making a decision on Iran, the US will hold a ceremony marking the moving of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Some security cabinet members are nervous of what will come next. As one member told me recently: “Even between friends, there never really is a free lunch.”

Whatever happens, Trump is going to have his hands full in the coming weeks. For any of these efforts to work – North Korea, Iran or the Israel-Palestinian peace process – the president will need to be personally involved, become intimately familiar with all of the details, and be prepared to use the full weight of his office when necessary. Israel is just one piece on the presidential chessboard. It might seem that Israel and the US are aligned as never before, but Netanyahu will need to be careful to ensure Israel’s interests are not disregarded. As demonstrated by Trump’s surprising and off-the-cuff announcement last week that he plans to withdraw US forces from Syria, Netanyahu already knows that, with this president, anything is possible…

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

 

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TRUMP AND THE FADING GHOST OF AN ILLUSION

Amir Taheri

Gatestone Institute, Apr. 1, 2018

 

Does the appointment of John Bolton as National Security Adviser indicate President Trump’s determination to formally renounce the so-called “nuclear deal” concocted by his predecessor Barack Obama? The common answer of the commentariat is a resounding yes. Long before Trump promised to tear-up the deal, Bolton was on record denouncing it as an ugly example of appeasement.

Thus, next May, when the “deal” comes up for its periodical renewal, President Trump’s idea of “tearing up a bad deal” is likely to have broader support in his administration. And that seems to be exactly what Tehran is expecting. In fact, just days after Bolton’s appointment, the spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, Behruz Kamalvand, broke a year of silence to boast about ambitious new plans for speeding up and expanding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear project. The buzz in Tehran is that the ruling establishment expects Trump to refuse to sign another waiver linked to the “deal” and, perhaps order a tightening of the existing sanctions. However, Tehran seems determined to continue its formal commitment to the “deal” as part of a strategy to drive a wedge between the Europeans and a Trump administration already unpopular in the old continent.

Tehran’s calculation is that the mid-term elections in the US may deprive Trump of crucial Congressional support and pave the way for his defeat in the following presidential election. Thus the wisest course is to keep everyone focused on the nuclear issue that the Europeans, and part of the political establishment in the US, believe they have solved thanks to the “deal,” while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continues its 20-year long equivocation on the issue. Only Iran really knows its own intentions on that score.

Iran is right in saying that it is not producing nuclear weapons. What Iran is doing is to set up all the technical, industrial and material means needed to produce such weapons, if and when it decides to do so. While not producing nuclear weapons now, Iran has a program designed to make such weapons within months. It is like a chef who brings in all that is needed for making a soup but does not actually start the cooking until he knows when the guests will be coming.

In the past three decades Iran has trained and deployed the scientists and technicians needed, built the research centers required, and set up structures for a complete nuclear cycle, from raw materials to the finished product. Part of the Iranian national defense doctrine is based on the capacity to produce and deploy nuclear weapons within a brief time span. Before the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran regarded its northern neighbor, the nuclear “super-power” Soviet Union, as the sole serious threat to its national security. The assumption was that in case of a Soviet invasion, Iran should be in a position to use tactical nuclear weapons while waiting for the great American ally to ride to the rescue.

After the mullahs seized power, Iran’s national defense doctrine was based on the assumption that it will, one day, fight a war with the United States plus its Arab allies and/or Israel. The central assumption of Iranian strategists is that the US cannot sustain a long war. It is, therefore, necessary to pin down its forces and raise the kill-die ratio to levels unacceptable by the American public. In the meantime, Iran would put its nuclear-weapons program in high gear, and brandish the threat of nuclear war as a means of forcing the US to accept a ceasefire and withdraw from whatever chunk of Iranian territory they may have seized.

Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani publicly evoked the possibility of using nuclear weapons against Washington’s regional allies, especially Israel. “In a nuclear duel in the region, Israel may kill 100 million Muslims,” Rafsanjani said in a speech in Tehran in October 2000. “Muslims can sustain such casualties, knowing that, in exchange, there would be no Israel on the map.” Iran’s top military commanders also speak about a military clash with the United States as the only serious threat to the Khomeinist regime in Tehran.

They believe they have three trump cards to play. The first is that Iran has a demographic reserve of some 20 million people of “fighting age” and is thus capable of sustaining levels of casualties unthinkable for Americans. The second is that Iran is already the missile superpower of the Middle East and could target all of Washington’s allies in the region. Iran’s third trump card is its nuclear program. Without it, the other two cards will not have the desired effect, especially if the US unleashes its new generation of low-grade nuclear weapons designed for battlefield use.

The real issue, as far as US and its allies are concerned, is that the regime in Iran has been, is and most likely will remain, a threat with or without nuclear weapons. Iran did not seize the US diplomats as hostages with nuclear weapons; nor did it massacre 241 US Marines in Beirut with an atomic bomb. The mischief that Iran is making in Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain is not backed by nuclear power either.

So the real question is: How to deal with a maverick power that has built its strategy on fomenting discord and instability not only in the Middle East but anywhere else it gets a chance? Washington hawks, among them Bolton perhaps, believe that the only realistic policy towards Iran is one of regime change before the Khomeinists build their nuclear arsenal. They believe that could be achieved with a mixture of military and diplomatic pressure, combined with moral and material support for a pro-democracy movement in Iran.

The Europeans, however, fear that any attempt even at soft regime-change may push the Khomeinists on the offensive in Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Iraq, the Caucasus, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. Could a realistic policy be developed through a sober assessment of both positions? If yes, that would requires far more sophistication than the “to waiver or not to waiver” debate over what is; in fact; the fading ghost of an accord wrought from dangerous illusions.

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THE RETURN OF IMPERIALISM: THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF IRAN

Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA, Apr. 4, 2018

 

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Francis Fukuyama, in a widely publicized book, announced the ultimate triumph of liberal democracy and with it the strong prospect of a longstanding democratic peace. He called it, in a moment of hubris, the end of history.

The wars in the Balkans (the first to take place in continental Europe since WWII) and the wide-scale ethnic and religious massacres that accompanied them, followed by the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington DC, severely dented this vision. It was probably laid to rest altogether with the rise of Putin in 1999 and the return of geopolitics on Europe’s fringes in the war with Georgia in 2009, Putin’s assault on eastern Ukraine in 2014, and his troops’ bold annexation of Crimea the same year.

Putin has contributed greatly towards pulling the world back to the twentieth century after the illusions it harbored about what the 21st century was likely to be. The same can be said of Beijing as its policy of peaceful engagement gave way to an assertion of power in in the China Seas. Both Russia and China have seriously alarmed their neighbors and other states. It seems, however, that the world might be reverting further backward than one century. It is regressing back to the Age of Imperialism, only this time the major catalyst is eastern, not western; Muslim, not Christian; Shiite, not (predominantly) Protestant; “radical”, not conservative.

The Islamic Republic of Iran, which ranks only 17th in terms of economic output in the world, is hardly a major power. It hovers somewhere around the same score in terms of scientific contributions (barring patents, which it largely keeps in-house for military purposes). Yet it is demonstrating almost daily its imperialist reach in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Gaza, and is developing ballistic capabilities to threaten Europe. The reader may be puzzled. How is Iran different from Russia, China, and the US? The answer lies in focus, capabilities, and responsibility. China’s and Russia’s assertions of power are focused on land and seas contiguous to their borders. Relative to its capabilities, Russia’s recent foray in Syria is a minor affair justified in some sense by a desire to fight jihadists, many of whom came from the Caucuses, which are part of the Russian Federation.

Russia is also a player in the great power game. If the US felt compelled to fight ISIS, Russia had to take part to check American power in the area. All three powers, especially the US and China, have far-flung interests that necessitate a presence worldwide. It is the role of the US in preserving the freedom of the seas, so indispensable to global trade, that leads to tensions between China and the US and its allies. These powers have the responsibility and capabilities (one hopes) to resolve their many issues of contention. Iran is different in that it is the only country whose focus is on political, military, and terrorist intervention and involvement in areas beyond its contiguous borders against states that have not struck the homeland.

Israel, the state it vows to destroy, never wanted a fight with the Islamic State of Iran. Not only is it not in the Jewish tradition to tell other states how they should be ruled, but a strong lobby within Israel believed for many years that Iran would renew ties for mutual benefit, as it did in the days of the Shah. So strong was this conviction that Israel allegedly sold weapons to Iran during its protracted war with Iraq. Yet it was the Islamic Republic of Iran that created Hezbollah in faraway Lebanon to fight Israel and which today threatens the Jewish state with 100,000 missiles. It has placed its launching sites in the homes of Lebanese villagers and townspeople. Naturally, these villagers, along with the Israeli civilian population, are at great risk.

Prior to the Syrian civil war, the Assad regime – while allied with Iran – placed limitations on an Iranian military presence in Syria. Now that the Assad regime has been weakened, Iran is exploiting the new dynamic to transform Syria into another Lebanon. Imported Shiite militias under Iranian Revolutionary guidance and command create missile sites similar to those in Lebanon. Terrorist activity is being increased, and munitions factories and forward bases are being established inside Syria and along the border of the northern Golan. Israel vows to stop Iran and is probably behind the “unidentified” air attacks, the most recent a massive one, to prevent Iran from realizing its immediate objective…

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

 

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IRAN’S ROLE IN THE BOYCOTT ISRAEL CAMPAIGN

Asaf Romirowsky & Benjamin Weinthal

National Interest, Mar. 15, 2018

The Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement, better known by the acronym BDS, targeting Israel has largely been viewed as a Palestinian- and Western European-driven campaign with the alleged goal of advancing Palestinian statehood. Yet the Islamic Republic of Iran’s key role in stoking the BDS movement has increasingly become a key factor in economic warfare against the Jewish state.

All of this helps to explain why it is often important, as a counter-terrorism project, to decipher the BDS movement. Take, for example, Iran’s efforts to promote genocidal anti-Israel sentiment in Europe: the annual al-Quds Day rallies, which were called into global action in 1979 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of Iran’s theocracy, urges individuals to support the BDS movement and the destruction of Israel. Al-Quds Day rallies blanket European cities such as Berlin, London and Vienna. Iranian-backed Islamists have no qualms about marching together with an amalgam of neo-Nazis, German political leftists and supporters of the U.S.- and EU-designated terrorist entity the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The Iranian regime-owned Islamic Center of Hamburg charters buses with Iranian regime and Hezbollah supporters to travel to Berlin to march in the al-Quds Day rally. Since 1996, there have been twenty-one al-Quds Day marches in the German capital. Hamidreza Torabi, an Iranian religious leader who has called for Israel’s elimination at the rallies, heads the Islamic Academy of Germany—part of the Iranian regime-owned Islamic Center of Hamburg. At the 2016 rally, he held a poster urging the “rejection of Israel” and calling the Jewish state “illegal and criminal.” The Berlin government has made half-hearted efforts to rope in the pro-Iran regime mini-movement by banning Hezbollah flags at the rallies. Berlin’s state government refuses to outlaw all of Hezbollah. It is worth recalling that the United States, Israel, the Arab League, Canada and the Netherlands have outlawed all of Hezbollah. The European Union has merely proscribed Hezbollah’s so-called military-wing as a terrorist organization, leaving the organization free to recruit, raise funds and otherwise operate in most of the EU. Hezbollah—a wholly-owned Iranian subsidiary—uses its organizational presence to expand the BDS movement in Europe.

Iran’s grassroots campaign to shape European and American opinion is not limited to demonstrations. In 2016, the Bavarian city of Bayreuth awarded 10,000 euros to a U.S.-based activist group—Code Pink—that supports a boycott of the Jewish state and has participated in a conference in Iran with Holocaust deniers. The women’s organization Code Pink has gone to great lengths to defend Iran’s regime. In January, the Israeli government banned representatives of Code Pink and an additional nineteen BDS organizations from entering the country because of their campaign to dismantle Israel. A second NGO—the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)—an entity set up by the now-defunct Soviet Union—supports the BDS movement while providing a legal defense for the Iranian regime’s controversial nuclear program.The U.S.-based bank Comerica terminated the bank account of the IADL after its connections to Iran and the BDS movement were exposed in the media.

​Moreover, on the grassroot donor involvement front, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF) has played a role in promoting the nuclear deal with Iran, especially since Stephen Heintz became its president in 2001 and looked to involve RBF in “peace building/making” through fostering ties between Washington and Tehran. RBF at large has been a staunch supporter of the BDS movement with its support of the organizations Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Breaking the Silence. It is worth to note that JVP has been designated as one of the groups that are forbidden from entering Israel today given their work to destroy the country…

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

 

Contents

On Topic Links

US Pro-Iran Lobby’s Attack on NSA Pick John Bolton Highlighted by Tehran Regime’s Official Media: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Mar. 23, 2018—An Iranian official news agency on Friday highlighted the furious response of a Washington, DC-based pro-Tehran lobbying organization to the announcement that John Bolton will replace Gen. H.R. McMaster as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser.

Can the Iran Deal Be Fixed? And Should it Be?: Omri Ceren, Commentary, Mar. 15, 2018—President Trump and his administration are approaching a make-or-break May deadline for deciding whether to stay in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Lawmakers, analysts, and journalists have been struggling to reestablish something approaching a healthy debate in the aftermath of the factitious salesmanship of the Obama “echo chamber.”

Iranian Nuclear Weapons and ‘Palestine’ — Twin Dangers for Israel: Louis René Beres, Algemeiner, Mar. 29, 2018—Although difficult to calibrate or measure, Iranian nuclearization and Palestinian statehood are likely progressing at roughly the same pace. To be sure, this coincident or near-simultaneous progression is proceeding without any dint of conscious intent or coordinated design.

Saudi Crown Prince, on U.S. Visit, Urges Tough Line on Iran: Ben Hubbard, New York Times, Mar. 27, 2018—Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia has renewed his attack on the Iran nuclear deal during a visit to the United States, saying the agreement would delay but not prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

 

 

 

HAMAS’ “MARCH OF RETURN” IS PART OF PALESTINIAN PLAN TO DESTROY ISRAEL

Palestinians: A March to Destroy Israel: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Apr. 2, 2018— On March 30, an attempt by tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to infiltrate the border with Israel launched a six-week campaign of mass protests…

Just in Case Anybody Forgot What Hamas’s ‘March of Return’ is Really All About: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, March 31, 2018— Just in case anybody forgot, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the pre-1967 lines in 2005.

Hamas is an Abysmal Failure: Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar, BESA, Mar. 28, 2018— When the “Islamic Resistance Movement” – or Hamas, as it is better known by its Arabic acronym – took over Gaza in 2007…

Palestinians: Why Hamas Will Not Disarm: Khaled Abu Toameh, Breaking Israel News, Mar. 27, 2018— Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is living in an illusion if he thinks that his rivals in Hamas would ever agree to lay down their weapons or cede control over the Gaza Strip.

On Topic Links

Myths and Facts: Gaza’s Deadly “Protests”: Daniel Pomerantz, Honest Reporting, Apr. 1, 2018

The Palestinian ‘March of Return’ Explains a Lot: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Mar. 30, 2018

Why Did Hamas Conduct a Wide-Scale Military Exercise in Gaza?: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, Mar. 29, 2018

The Narrative: Vic Rosenthal, Jewish Press, Mar. 27, 2018

 

PALESTINIANS: A MARCH TO DESTROY ISRAEL

Bassam Tawil

Gatestone Institute, Apr. 2, 2018

On March 30, an attempt by tens of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to infiltrate the border with Israel launched a six-week campaign of mass protests — called the “March of Return” — organized by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other radical Palestinian groups. The groups encouraged Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to head to the areas adjacent to the border with Israel. The protesters were also encouraged to try to infiltrate the border, thus putting their lives at risk.

Hamas and its allies told the protesters that the “March of Return” marked the beginning of the “liberation of all of Palestine, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.” In other words, the Palestinians were told that infiltrating the border with Israel would be the first step toward destroying Israel. Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Yehya Sinwar, who joined the March 30 mass protests along the border with Israel, did not hide the real goal behind the “March of Return” — to destroy Israel and thwart US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East.

The two Hamas leaders told the protesters that the March 30 demonstrations marked the beginning of a “new phase in the Palestinians’ national struggle on the road to liberating all of Palestine, from the river to the sea.” Haniyeh and Sinwar also made it clear that the “March of Return” had another goal: to foil any attempt by the Arabs to make peace or normalize their relations with Israel.

Based on statements made by Hamas leaders, the “March of Return” campaign is not about improving the living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Nor is it about finding ways to solve the “humanitarian” and “economic” crises in the Gaza Strip. Hamas and its allies did not send the protesters to the border with Israel to demand jobs and medicine. They did not encourage Palestinians to risk their lives at the border with Israel because of the lack of electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip. Instead, the organizers sent the Palestinians to the border after assuring them that this was the only way to flood Israel with hundreds of thousands of Palestinian “refugees” as part of the “right of return.” The “right of return” refers to the Palestinian demand that Israel allow Palestinian “refugees” and their descendants to move to Israel.

As Zaher Birawi, one of the organizers of the “March of Return” explained, “The right of return is sacred and a red line not to be crossed. The Palestinians will do their utmost to achieve this right.” His words, together with those of the two Hamas leaders, prove that the mass protests are aimed at forcing Israel to accept millions of Palestinian “refugees” as a first step towards turning Jews into a minority in their own country. The next step would be to kill or expel the Jews and replace Israel with an Islamic state.

Crucial here is the fact that what we witnessed along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel on March 30 was not a protest by poverty-stricken and miserable Palestinians against a blockade of any kind. If that were so, why didn’t the organizers ask Palestinians to march toward the border with Egypt? The real blockade on the Gaza Strip is being imposed by Egypt, and not Israel. In 2017, the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was open altogether for less than 30 days; by contrast, the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip was open for more than 280 days during the same year.

Israel enforces a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip that is meant to prevent Iran, Hezbollah and other terror parties from smuggling weapons into the coastal enclave controlled by Hamas. At the same time, Israel has kept its border crossings with Gaza for the movement of goods and individuals. Israel permits Palestinians to enter and leave the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing. Last month, the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister entered the Gaza Strip through the Erez border crossing, only to have his convoy targeted by a roadside bomb once inside Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel also allows foreigners to enter the Gaza Strip through the same border crossing. They include journalists, diplomats, and hundreds of foreigners working for various international aid agencies, including the United Nations.

All this while the Rafah border crossing with Egypt remains closed. Since the beginning of this year, the Egyptians opened the border crossing intermittently only for two or three days each time. Egypt also continues to bar foreigners from entering the Gaza Strip through the Rafah terminal. Even Arabs who want to help the people of the Gaza Strip are forced to enter through the Erez border crossing because the Egyptians do not give them permission to use the Rafah terminal.

Take, for example, the Qatari envoy to the Gaza Strip, Ambassador Mohammed Al Emadi. Each time he leaves and enters the Gaza Strip, he uses the Erez border crossing with Israel. The Egyptians will not allow him or any other Arab seeking to help the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to enter through the Rafah terminal.

Given this reality, the question is: Why aren’t the Palestinian protests directed against Egypt? The answer is obvious. The Palestinians know that messing with the Egyptian army will cost them a heavy price. If Israel used snipers to stop the March 30 protesters from crossing the border, the Egyptian response would undoubtedly have been much tougher. The Egyptians would have used artillery and warplanes against the Palestinian demonstrators. The Palestinians are well aware that the Egyptian army would raze the entire Gaza Strip if the Palestinians breached the border and undermined Egypt’s national security.

Besides, the “March of Return” is intended as part of the Palestinian national struggle against the “Zionist entity” — Israel — and has nothing to do with the closure of any border. It is part of the Palestinian jihad (holy war) to eliminate Israel, which they see as a “colonialist project” imposed on the Arabs by Western powers after World War II. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, in a rare moment of honesty, admitted earlier this year that this is precisely how Palestinians and Arabs perceive Israel.

The organizers of the “March of Return” have made it clear that besides flooding Israel with millions of Palestinian “refugees,” the campaign has two other objectives: to foil Trump’s “deal of the century” and stop any form of Arab normalization with Israel. The Palestinians have proclaimed a wholesale rejection of Trump’s plan because they know it will not advance their goal of turning Jews into a minority in their own country. Trump’s plan, they believe, does not recognize the Palestinian “right of return,” which means that “refugees” and their descendants will not be allowed to move into Israel, turning it into an Arab-majority state. The organizers of the “March of Return” have clearly stated that this is a driving force behind the mass protests — to send a message to the Trump administration that Palestinians will not accept any deal that does not facilitate their dream of replacing Israel with an Arab Islamic state…

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

 

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JUST IN CASE ANYBODY FORGOT WHAT HAMAS’S

‘MARCH OF RETURN’ IS REALLY ALL ABOUT

David Horovitz

Times of Israel, March 31, 2018

Just in case anybody forgot, Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the pre-1967 lines in 2005. It uprooted thousands of Israeli settlers from their homes. It dismantled all military infrastructure in the Strip. It has no physical presence there. It makes no territorial claims there. Just in case anybody forgot, Hamas, an Islamist terrorist organization that avowedly seeks the destruction of Israel, seized power in Gaza in 2007 in a violent takeover from the forces of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Having attempted to terrorize Israel into capitulation with its strategic onslaught of suicide bombers in the Second Intifada, it has, since grabbing hold of Gaza, continued its efforts to terrorize Israel by firing thousands upon thousands of rockets indiscriminately across the border. Were it not for the Iron Dome rocket defense system, much of Israel would, as Hamas had hoped, have been reduced to rubble. Hamas has also been incessantly digging attack tunnels under the border — another terror avenue that Israel appears to have gradually been closing off with new technology and underground barriers.

Just in case anybody forgot, Hamas has cynically and relentlessly exploited Gazans — a large proportion of whom have supported it in elections — by storing its rockets near or even inside mosques and schools, firing rockets from residential areas, and digging tunnels from beneath homes and civilian institutions. It has subverted all materials that can be utilized for the manufacture of weaponry, necessitating a stringent Israeli security blockade whose main victims are ordinary Gazans. Organizing and encouraging mass demonstrations at the border in the so-called “March of Return” to face off against Israeli troops, while sanctimoniously and disingenuously branding the campaign non-violent, is merely the latest iteration of Hamas’s cynical use of Gazans as the human shields for its aggression.

Just in case anybody forgot, demanding a “right of return” to Israel for tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their millions of descendants is nothing less than a call for the destruction of Israel by demographic means. No Israeli government could accept this demand, since it would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish-majority state. Israel’s position is that Palestinian refugees and their descendants would become citizens of a Palestinian state at the culmination of the peace process, just as Jews who fled or were forced out of Middle Eastern countries by hostile governments became citizens of Israel.

Just in case anybody forgot, the late prime minister Ariel Sharon oversaw the wrenching withdrawal from Gaza out of a declared desire to set Israel’s permanent borders, and did so unilaterally because he concluded that he could not reach a negotiated agreement with the Palestinian leadership. Had Gaza remained calm, and Sharon remained healthy, it is likely he would have ordered a pullout from much of the West Bank as well — paving the path to Palestinian statehood.

The rise of Hamas to power in Gaza, three rounds of bitter conflict, and an awareness that Israel would be isolated and unable to function if Hamas were to take over in the West Bank — with every location nationwide, notably including the airport, within range of rudimentary rockets — have buried unilateralism and rendered Israelis consensually terrified at the prospect of relinquishing adjacent territory. Thus Hamas, which purports to serve the Palestinian interest, doomed the prospect of Palestinian independence for the foreseeable future.

But Hamas, of course, is not interested in Palestinian independence. Again, it strives for the elimination of Israel. So, finally, just in case anybody forgets the context for Friday’s latest escalation of violence, they need only listen to Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar setting out the ultimate goal.  As he put it in an address to Gazans at the border on Friday, “The March of Return will continue… until we remove this transient border.” The protests “mark the beginning of a new phase in the Palestinian national struggle on the road to liberation and ‘return’… Our people can’t give up one inch of the land of Palestine.”

 

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HAMAS IS AN ABYSMAL FAILURE

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar

BESA, Mar. 28, 2018

When the “Islamic Resistance Movement” – or Hamas, as it is better known by its Arabic acronym – took over Gaza in 2007, pundits theorized that once the group became responsible for drinking water, gasoline, electricity, employment, and food, it would have no choice but to become more moderate. These commentators predicted Hamas would soon prefer governing to jihad, exchange terror for state-running, develop political tools instead of tools of war, and adopt a political stance instead of one of armed conflict. They could not have been more wrong, because no Islamic terror organization abandons terror without being seen as abandoning Islam as well.

In fact, what has happened is a self-immolating process that can only occur in Islamic societies. This process is a function of the collective belief shared by Islamic leaders that it is a religious obligation to stick to their political principles – and that any deviation from total allegiance to those principles will result in their falling victim to criticism from others whose religious image is more vivid and faith-based.

Hamas wants to be considered a political organization, so it ran in the parliamentary elections in 2006, winning a majority of the seats. It is now gearing for presidential elections in which it hopes to take the seat of the president of the PA. Hamas’s problem is that it is caught between two contradictory roles. As a political organization it must adopt pragmatic patterns of behavior, including political negotiations with Israel. As a religious movement, it must adhere to the principle that forbids any deviation from the path dictated by Allah, who only allows his earthly representatives to talk to the Zionist infidels about technical issues such as transferring food, water, gasoline, electricity, and medical supplies.

From the standpoint of Hamas, it is not so bad if Gaza Muslims suffer, because that is considered “bla’a,” one of the tests Allah presents to believers in order to determine whether or not they deserve a passport to Paradise. This explains why Hamas is so ready to sacrifice hundreds and even thousands of innocent civilians in every military encounter with Israel. It also explains why the Arab world media present – often successfully – such events as victories for Hamas and defeats for Israel. The price for this kind of “victory” is paid by ordinary Gazans, whose family members are dead or wounded and who have to live with a shattered infrastructure. These people are not in the Hamas camp on this issue because they are much less extreme than those who have taken over their lives.

The religious conceptual framework prevents Hamas from giving in to the Jews or from doing anything that might be interpreted as giving in to them, including freeing prisoners or the bodies of fallen Israeli soldiers who are in Hamas hands or even providing information about them. It is understood that Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul are sadly not among the living, but Hamas spokesmen continue to refuse to divulge any details about the two, including providing confirmation of their deaths.

From a religious standpoint, Hamas is mired in a dark and dismal swamp. Over the 1,400 years since the dawn of Islamic history, there have been Muslim regimes that treated strangers with respect, refrained from attacking countries more powerful than they, and cared about the economic conditions of their subjects. Hamas is light years away from this type of rule. It is not only uninterested in improving the health, education, and living standards of the people of Gaza, but it takes step after step to create a picture of suffering and want in order to squeeze donations from the international community.

Another element that might spare Gaza further armed confrontation with Israel – which would come at the expense of ordinary citizens’ lives, not those of Hamas leaders and their families, whose underground bunkers protect them – is the readiness of Hamas to conduct a prisoner exchange with Israel. Yihye Sinwar, the current Hamas leader freed in the Shalit deal, knows Israel will not free over 1,000 prisoners in exchange for corpses, but is under pressure from Hamas prisoners and their families. He is finding it almost impossible to reach a deal that results in fewer prisoners being freed than were released during his exchange. Hamas is making use of all kinds of mantras to justify its obstinate policy: “We will not cowtow to the Zionist entity on anything!” “We will not give the Zionists any free information!” “We will continue to struggle for a Palestine from the river to the sea!” No one on the Gaza street believes these mantras anymore. Nor do they put their faith in those who post them on the internet or on satellite stations.

Hamas does everything it can to publicize the “humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, but neglects to mention that the situation there is a direct result of the way it has governed over the past decade. The organization has been given billions of dollars by Qatar, by the donor states, and by international groups that do not follow up on what happens to their donations. It is also the recipient of taxes taken off salaries. What does it do with the money? Has it built schools? Hospitals? Factories? Infrastructure? None of the above…

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

 

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PALESTINIANS: WHY HAMAS WILL NOT DISARM

Khaled Abu Toameh

Breaking Israel News, Mar. 27, 2018

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is living in an illusion if he thinks that his rivals in Hamas would ever agree to lay down their weapons or cede control over the Gaza Strip. Hamas has no intention of dismantling its military and security apparatus. It also does not have any intention of allowing Abbas’s security forces to be stationed in the Gaza Strip. This refusal is why the “reconciliation” deal that Abbas signed with Hamas in Cairo in October 2017 will never be translated into facts on the ground.

Hamas is prepared to give Abbas anything he wants in the Gaza Strip except for security control. Hamas has no problem allowing Abbas and his government to function as a “civil administration” in the Gaza Strip by providing funds and various services to government institutions there. If Abbas wants to pay salaries to civil servants in the Gaza Strip, that is fine with Hamas. If he wants to pay for fuel, water and electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip, that is also fine with Hamas. Security control, however, is the last thing Hamas wants from Abbas. For Hamas, security is a red line not to be crossed.

What is behind Hamas’s fierce opposition to relinquishing security control over the Gaza Strip? Hamas wants to retain its weapons and security control of the Gaza Strip for two reasons: first, it wants the weapons so that it can continue the “armed struggle” against Israel; second, Hamas knows that the moment it hands over security control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority (PA), many of its leaders and members will either be killed or imprisoned by Abbas’s security forces.

Ahmed Bahr, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, described Abbas’s demand that Hamas dismantle its security and military apparatus as “idiotic.” In a sermon he delivered during Friday prayers at Al-Mahata Mosque in the central Gaza Strip on March 23, Bahr said that the issue of disarming Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups was “non-negotiable.” Hamas, he added, will not hand over its weapons to a Palestinian Authority government that conducts security coordination with Israel in the West Bank. “The weapons of the Palestinian resistance are legitimate weapons that will be used to restore our rights and liberate our lands,” the Hamas official said. “The armed struggle [against Israel] is a right guaranteed by international laws.”

Bahr’s statements show that Hamas still does not trust Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, mainly because of their close security ties with Israel. For Hamas, security coordination with Israel is a form of treason, and there is no way Hamas would agree to cooperate with any Palestinian party that works with the Israelis. Hamas continues to accuse the PA security forces and Israel of jointly cracking down on its members in the West Bank. In a recent statement, Hamas accused the Palestinian Authority of arresting 10 of its members there. The arrests were carried out in the West Bank cities of Tulkarem, Nablus, Kalkilya, Hebron and Ramallah, according to Hamas. Among those taken into custody was a Palestinian journalist, Osama Shahin. Hamas said that two of the detainees have gone on hunger strike to protest their “illegal” incarceration.

Hamas fears that many of its leaders and members will face the same fate if it allows Abbas’s security forces to deploy in the Gaza Strip. Those who are fortunate will only end up behind bars. Those who are less fortunate will be executed in public squares by Abbas loyalists. Hamas still has agonizing memories of the days between 1993 and 2007, when the Palestinian Authority was in control of the Gaza Strip. Then, many Hamas leaders and senior officials found themselves either in prison or under house arrest…

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

 

Contents

On Topic Links

Myths and Facts: Gaza’s Deadly “Protests”: Daniel Pomerantz, Honest Reporting, Apr. 1, 2018—During the Passover weekend, some 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza approached the border with Israel and carried out a variety of violent activities in what they call the “Land Day Protests” or the “March of Return.” We’ve seen quite a bit of mishandled coverage, so here are the main myths and facts so you can better understand the situation and also speak up when you see inaccurate or biased media.

The Palestinian ‘March of Return’ Explains a Lot: Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Mar. 30, 2018—For some in the Palestinians’ international cheering squad, the March 30 “Land Day” demonstrations could be a long-hoped for turning point. If the massive protests planned for the Gaza border go off on Friday without violence, then the battle against Israel will, they hope, no longer be depicted as one primarily about terrorism.

Why Did Hamas Conduct a Wide-Scale Military Exercise in Gaza?: Lt. Col. (ret.) Jonathan D. Halevi, JCPA, Mar. 29, 2018—On March 25, 2018, the Hamas movement’s military/terror wing, the al-Qassam Brigades, conducted a military exercise codenamed “The steadfast and defiant maneuvers.”

The Narrative: Vic Rosenthal, Jewish Press, Mar. 27, 2018—Maybe arguments are not important. Maybe, as Jonathan Haidt… says, logical arguments are window dressing used to justify conclusions forced upon us by deep-seated emotional motivations. Maybe those who demand that we “free Palestine” on US campuses and UK streets simply disdain the Jewish people and their state. Maybe we should just tell them to go to hell and maintain our military deterrent capability.

WITH PALESTINIAN “HOUSE OF CARDS” UNDER THREAT, BDS SEEKS ELIMINATION OF ISRAEL

The Speech in Which Abbas Dug His Own Grave: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 15, 2018 — Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of  the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the  President of the United States  Donald Trump…

Having Missed the Boat, Palestinian Authority Is Sinking: Charles Bybelezer, The Media Line, Jan. 15, 2018— Given the turbulent political climate, one wonders whether Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has any regrets and, if so, if he would gladly roll back time a decade.

The Anti-Israel BDS Movement Seeks the Destruction of Israel, Not a Two-State Peace with Palestinians: Patrick Dunleavy, Fox News, Jan. 18, 2018— The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement pretends to be working toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but in reality many of its supporters want to destroy Israel as a Jewish state.

Middle East Studies Association (as Usual) Singles Out Israel for Attack, Excuses Palestinian Perfidy: Mitchell Bard, Algemeiner, Jan. 3, 2018 — The Middle East Studies Association gave up all pretense of being a scholarly organization when it was taken over by the followers of Edward Said in the 1980s…

 

On Topic Links

 

99 Percent of “Palestine Refugees” Are Fake: Daniel Pipes, Jewish Press, Jan. 17, 2018

How a U.S. Quaker Group That Won the Nobel Peace Prize Ended Up on Israel's BDS Blacklist: Allison Kaplan Sommer, Ha’aretz, Jan. 8, 2018

Professor Claims Antisemitism and ‘Islamophobia’ Are Equal Threats: Cinnamon Stillwell, Algemeiner, Jan. 11, 2018

Academic Freedom Goes on Trial: George F. Will, Washington Post, Dec. 29, 2017

 

 

 

THE SPEECH IN WHICH ABBAS DUG HIS OWN GRAVE

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Arutz Sheva, Jan. 15, 2018

 

Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of  the Palestine Liberation Organization, has delivered a speech triggered by his rage at the President of the United States Donald Trump, going so far as to hurl the most bitter curse in the Arabic language at the POTUS:  "May your house be destroyed." This imprecation does not merely relate to someone's present home, but to all the members of his family being thrown into the street to lead lives of destitution, humiliation and shame. Only someone familiar with Middle Eastern culture understands the real significance of this curse.

 

The question that naturally rises is what happened that brought Abbas to the point where he is willing to burn his bridges with the US President and deliver a speech whose import is the severing of relations with the country which serves as chief funder of UNRWA, also pushing the US president towards a negative stand on the "Palestinian Issue."

 

"Jerusalem, Capital of Palestine," is an idea created after the Six Day War and further developed after the Oslo Accords were signed in September 1993. Arafat turned it into a mantra, while official Israel – Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin, Alon Liel and their cohorts – did nothing to stop him. They told us that the expression is meant for a Palestinian Arab audience, i.e. for "internal use" only. "Millions of shahids are on the march to Jerusalem!!" Arafat shouted day and night, but they told us to ignore it, that these were empty words, merely a pipe dream.

 

The world, led by Europe, went along with this Palestinian house of cards, financing it with billions of dollars over the years in the hopes of turning it into a real concrete structure, simply ignoring reality. Europe supported the establishment of a "Palestinian peace-loving state alongside Israel" while forgetting the fact that  the PLO ideology calls for destroying the  Jewish State and that its logo includes the map of that "Palestine" reaching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

 

The world perpetuated the "Palestinian refugee problem" despite the fact that not one refugee remains of all the others who existed in the 1940s. Even Germany, which absorbed and rehabilitated the Sudetenland residents expelled from Czechoslovakia, did not demand that the Arab world do the same and absorb the "Palestinian refugees," whose problem was created as a result of the Arab armies' invasion of Israel one day after the Jewish State declared its independence. Europe saw Germany as the party responsible for the Sudeten refugee problem and its solution, but did not do the same for the Arab states and the Palestinian refugees. That double standard is what perpetuated the Palestinian Arab refugee problem, turning it into a central bargaining chip in negotiations between Israel and its neighbors, reaching the point where Ehud Barak agreed (in the Taba talks of 2001) to a "symbolic return" of tens of thousands of those refugees – and he was not the only one to agree to this idea.

 

The world did not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and allowed Jerusalem to turn into another major bargaining chip in the "Peace talks" whose only purpose – at least according to the Arab side – was to weaken and shrink the State of Israel and bring it to a state of collapse that would make the Jews lose hope and leave the region for the countries they had lived in before they came to rebuild their ancient homeland.

 

Enter Donald Trump, a businessman who deals with construction – not houses built of cards, but the kind meant to last for generations.  He understood that the Palestinian structure is made of cards, left standing only because of the world's going along with European leadership, American liberal circles, the Arab states and a few Israelis suffering from burn-out. Trump understood that the Palestinian ideological structure is full of holes and decided to pull two foundational cards out of the ephemeral structure: the Jerusalem card and the refugee card.

 

From the minute Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital the Palestinians – both Hamas and the PLO – began engaging in frenzied activities, disturbances on the ground and political maneuvering in international corridors. They understood that Jerusalem as Israel's capital is an insurance policy of sorts for the Jewish state.  To the Jews, Jerusalem is real, backed up by history and the Jewish religion, while it is nothing but "fake news" for the Arab and Muslim world. Jerusalem, however, is still not the capital of a non-established "Palestine" and remains a theoretical bone of contention, so that it could be  pulled out of the Palestinian house  of cards without Abbas burning his bridges with the United States.

 

And then Trump pulled the refugee card from the house of cards by announcing that he would cease to fund, support and perpetuate it. That act is a thousand times worse than recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, because the refugee issue has been capitalized on for seventy years, with billions of dollars poured into it, all going to waste. UNRWA operates a massive system of wage-earners, schools and aid services running on American money, whose cessation is sure to limit the organizations' ability to breathe life into the "refugee problem". Without adequate funding, the "refugees" are liable to spread out and be absorbed in the areas to which they move on, within the Arab world and outside it. The "refugee problem" and its threat to Israel might even disappear…

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

 

Contents

HAVING MISSED THE BOAT, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY IS SINKING

Charles Bybelezer

The Media Line, Jan. 15, 2018

 

Given the turbulent political climate, one wonders whether Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has any regrets and, if so, if he would gladly roll back time a decade. In 2008, the PA boss was firmly entrenched in Ramallah despite a year earlier having been unceremoniously—that is, violently—ejected by Hamas from Gaza in an internecine war. Nevertheless, the world was seemingly at Abbas’ doorstep, his Muqata compound the address where kings, heads of state and a never-ending parade of diplomats flocked to with a view to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, considered at the time by many as the central malaise plaguing the Middle East.

 

It was within this context that then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert offered Abbas a fully comprehensive peace deal that would have created a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with only minor land swaps, and with east Jerusalem as its capital. A limited—read: symbolic—number of Palestinian refugees would have been allowed to “return” to Israel. But when Olmert, after a score of meetings, urged Abbas to sign on the dotted line, the PA leader said he needed to consult with other officials but never got back to the Israeli premier.

 

Sometime later, Abbas was the first of his colleagues to receive a phone call from newly-inaugurated U.S. President Barack Obama, who vowed to put “daylight” between Washington and Jerusalem. This manifested in pressuring Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to implement an unprecedented ten-month construction freeze in Jewish communities located in the West Bank. But Abbas still refused to negotiate for the first nine months of the building suspension and, when he finally did, demanded that the policy be renewed indefinitely. It was an untenable political situation for Netanyahu precluding the possibility of talks getting off the ground. This pattern repeated itself during Obama’s second term, when a new initiative, spearheaded by then-secretary of state John Kerry, forced Netanyahu to release, in four tranches, more than 100 terrorists from Israeli jails. But once again Abbas found a pretext to walk away from the peace process.

 

By then, the Middle East had descended into total chaos in the wake of the so-called Arab Spring, while Shiite Iran was flexing its muscles throughout the region. The outbreak of wars in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and beyond had little to do with Israel or solving Palestinian “problem,” effectively marginalizing the conflict. This confluence of events, in turn, stimulated a rapprochement between Sunni Muslim nations and the Jewish state, which share a desire both to curb Tehran’s expansionism and potential nuclearization and counter the threat posed by terrorist groups such as the Islamic State. As the geopolitical situation slowly changed, countries that previously supported the Palestinians unconditionally no longer viewed matters in shades of black and white, but, rather, increasingly in blue and white; this, prompted by a growing acknowledgment that Israel, as opposed to the PA, has much to offer to regimes that likewise view the Islamic Republic as an existential threat.

 

Enter U.S. President Donald Trump, who is perhaps the least ideological—and unpredictable—American leader in history. While his White House has invested political capital into jump-starting the peace process, President Trump is not to be beholden to any preconceived notions nor does he appear willing to pander to Palestinian sensibilities. This was made stark by his recognition in December of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to which the Palestinians reacted with unhinged fury. Instead of accepting the new playing field and adapting, the PA adopted a scorched-earth policy, effectively boycotting Washington and threatening to withdraw recognition of Israel, thereby abrogating the Oslo Accords. This, notwithstanding the apparent tacit acceptance by Arab states of President Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, and while the U.S. Congress moves to cut-off aid to the PA over its “pay-for-slay” policy of disbursing salaries to Palestinian prisoners.

 

Domestically, the situation is not much better, with a recent survey showing that some seventy percent of Palestinians want Abbas to resign. Under his rule, the PA has lost legitimacy within the eyes of its people, who near-uniformly view the leadership as a corrupt kleptocracy unable to advance their interests. Specifically, the West Bank economy is completely underdeveloped and the territory lacks almost all of the basic infrastructure of a functioning state despite the tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid that have flooded into the PA’s coffers. Moreover, the Palestinians remain divided between the West Bank and Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, with the latest attempts to forge national unity, like those before them, having thus far amounted to nothing.

 

According to Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Gilead, formerly the director of policy and political-military affairs at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, the PA leader does not believe that his positions are being adequately considered, leading to increased inflexibility as his days become numbered. “This may be the last call, as Abbas is very old and has said he may not be here next year. So it looks like there is no hope for the peace process. “Abbas may not take any concrete steps moving forward,” Gilead expounded, “but he does not have to. He is telling us what his legacy will be. As such, Israel should reconsider its positions and try to find way to forge a peace agreement with him or it may need to abandon the process entirely. Nobody knows who or what will come after Abbas and whether they will have the legitimacy to deal with Israel. It is bad news that it appears as though he will be leaving no options for peace.” Abbas has found himself stuck between a rock and a hard place, and while European nations, along with Russia and China, may agree to step in and fill part of the vacuum left by the U.S., without the firm backing of Sunni countries, who are closely aligned with Washington, there appears little chance for the PA to secure a soft landing.

 

“Abbas appears to be desperate,” Dr. Anat Kurz, Director of Research at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies and a former member of track-II Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, told The Media Line. “He is shooting in all directions and acting as if there is nothing to lose with the American administration or in terms of resuming talks with Israel. The Palestinians feel as though they have lost the ability to influence the course of developments,” she elaborated, “not only because it appears the international community is exhausted after years of failed efforts to forge a settlement, but also because of what has happened in the region, mainly the ongoing tensions between the Sunni Gulf monarchies and Shiite Iran. “There are also the wars going on throughout the Middle East,” Kurz concluded, “which has lessened the importance of the Palestinian issue. Given all of these elements, Abbas does not know who to turn to or how to proceed.”…

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

 

                                                                       

Contents

THE ANTI-ISRAEL BDS MOVEMENT SEEKS THE DESTRUCTION

OF ISRAEL, NOT A TWO-STATE PEACE WITH PALESTINIANS

Patrick Dunleavy

Fox News, Jan. 18, 2018

 

The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement pretends to be working toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but in reality many of its supporters want to destroy Israel as a Jewish state. For this reason, BDS has attracted support from terrorists, convicted killers and anti-Semites in the U.S. and abroad. In fact, at many of BDS demonstrations – like ones filmed by the Investigative Project on Terrorism – demonstrators make no secret of their aims. “And the people of Palestine will wipe the Zionist entity (Israel) off all the world maps” one demonstration leader shouts on the IPT-recorded video.

 

On the same video demonstrators chant: “We don’t want no two-state, we want 48,” referring to 1948, before Israel was created from the British colony of Palestine. And for good measure, they chant: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” meaning a new Palestinian state will go from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and swallow up all of Israel. And yet other chants: “Death to the peace accords,” “smash the settler Zionist state,” and “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.”

 

Law enforcement officials in the U.S. should keep a close eye on demonstrators like these, knowing that inflammatory anti-Semitic and anti-Israel rhetoric often leads to violence. The New York City Police Department and other law enforcement agencies have investigated a number of plots directed specifically at Jewish citizens and institutions. BDS seeks to isolate Israel from world, ostensibly to protest Israel’s presence in the West Bank and to call for creation of a Palestinian state. BDS seeks: a worldwide boycott against Israeli products, universities and cultural institutions; divestment from companies that provide equipment to the Israeli military; and international economic sanctions against Israel.

 

The willingness of young leaders of many BDS-supporting groups, such as the Blacks for Palestine, to look to violent terrorists for support exposes BDS’s claim of a commitment to nonviolence as a fraud. Several U.S. domestic terrorists who are now serving life prison sentences for killing law enforcement officers have announced their support for BDS with the goal of destroying Israel. Inmates such as Herman Bell, Anthony Bottom, Mumia Abu-Jamal, and Clark Edward Squire – who were members of the Black Liberation Army – as well as the Weather Underground’s David Gilbert, have posted statements calling for the end of “US/Zionist Imperialism in Palestine.” They also have encouraged the use of any means necessary – including violence – to achieve the goal of “driving the Zionist oppressors out of your land.”

 

Gilbert, incarcerated for killing two police officers and a Brinks security guard in 1981, has received visits from several advocates for the Palestinian Solidarity Movement, now known as the International Solidarity Movement. While the movement states that it is nonviolent, it goes on to say: “our nonviolent approach does not mean that we have the right to dictate to Palestinians how to resist military occupation and apartheid.” In other words, we don’t condone violence. But if you use it we’re OK with it. Another of Gilbert’s prison visitors is a leader in the Syracuse Peace Council, which has advocated for the BDS movement’s campaign to isolate Israel economically and politically…

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

 

 

Contents

MIDDLE EAST STUDIES ASSOCIATION (AS USUAL) SINGLES

OUT ISRAEL FOR ATTACK, EXCUSES PALESTINIAN PERFIDY

Mitchell Bard

Algemeiner, Jan. 3, 2018

 

The Middle East Studies Association gave up all pretense of being a scholarly organization when it was taken over by the followers of Edward Said in the 1980s, and began propagating Orwellian interpretations of Middle East history and politics to advance a political agenda that promotes or rationalizes Islamism, parrots Palestinian propaganda, and engages in unbridled attacks on Israel’s legitimacy and the West. Nowhere was this more evident than last month’s annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) in Washington, DC, at the overflow panel, “Thinking Palestine Intersectionally,” featuring Sherene Seikaly, Noura Erekat, Samera Esmeir, Judith Butler and Angela Davis.

 

I don’t recall hearing the word “scholar” in the introductions and discussion, but the word “activist” was repeatedly used to describe the participants and their work. The panel was organized by Seikaly, a historian from UC Santa Barbara, who is a co-founder and co-editor of Jadaliyya, “an independent ezine produced by the Arab Studies Institute.” If you visit the site, you will be invited to sign up for a newsletter and will be requested to choose your country. It appears that every country in the world is listed except one — Israel. One country that does not exist — Palestine — is listed.

 

Noura Erekat, a co-editor of Jadaliyya, is a law professor who admits that she is an activist. A gifted speaker, Erekat rattled off the standard leftist clichés about Israeli occupation, militarism, racism and settler colonialism. She displayed her ignorance of basic history by claiming armed groups took control of the PLO in 1968.Erekat denounced Israeli actions in Gaza, omitting any reference to the Hamas rocket bombardment that precipitated the IDF operations, lauded convicted liar and terrorist Rasmea Odeh as a freedom fighter who empowered Arab women, and defended the virulent Israel-hater Linda Sarsour. Perhaps the best example of her extremism was repeating the big lie that Israel murdered Yasser Arafat.

 

Before getting to the predictable bashing of the Trump administration, Erekat labeled US support for Israel “emblematic of everything that is wrong with the United States.” She praised the Black Lives Matter movement for doubling down on support for Palestinians because of their shared opposition to “structural racialized violence.” The audience laughed when she ridiculed a feminist whose New York Times op-ed expressed concern that “my support for Israel will bar me from the feminist movement” because, inter alia, the International Women’s Strike platform called for the “decolonization of Palestine” as part of “the beating heart of this new feminist movement.” Erekat bragged that the Palestinian cause is rising, while support for Israel declines. As evidence, she cited a Pew survey revealing Democrats as less sympathetic to Israel and more supportive of Palestinians than Republicans. But one poll is hardly a trend and, as I’ve written elsewhere, Democratic support for Israel is actually at the same level that it was in the 1970s.

 

Panelist Judith Butler, whose field is comparative literature rather than Middle East studies, might be more aptly called a specialist in contortion studies, given her effort to redefine antisemitism to exclude BDS. Butler claimed that critics of Israel are not antisemitic, but Zionists could be antisemitic if they support Israel. Angered that people she finds abhorrent, such as Steve Bannon, would be lauded as pro-Israel, she was nostalgic for the day when the UN voted to equate Zionism with racism, and was unhappy with its 1991 repudiation.  As part of her jujitsu interpretation of BDS, Butler maintained that BDS advocates, as supporters of social justice, must oppose antisemitism, as if there is no contradiction in supporting a campaign denying Jews the right to self-determination in their homeland while condemning antisemitism. Her explanation? One should oppose racism and colonialism, but the boycott targets only Israeli “institutions,” not Jews or Israelis. Setting aside her ignorance of “colonialism,” and Zionism’s historic opposition to it, who does she imagine that BDS will harm other than the Jews and Israelis who staff these “institutions”?…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

99 Percent of “Palestine Refugees” Are Fake: Daniel Pipes, Jewish Press, Jan. 17, 2018—In the words of a veteran Washington hand, the problem of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the main UN agency dealing with Palestinians, is always important but never urgent.

How a U.S. Quaker Group That Won the Nobel Peace Prize Ended Up on Israel's BDS Blacklist: Allison Kaplan Sommer, Ha’aretz, Jan. 8, 2018—A Quaker organization that received the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize for its work assisting and rescuing victims of the Nazis is among the blacklisted groups whose senior activists have been barred from entering Israel. Peace activists in Israel who have worked with the group expressed surprise at the decision.

Professor Claims Antisemitism and ‘Islamophobia’ Are Equal Threats: Cinnamon Stillwell, Algemeiner, Jan. 11, 2018—Are “Islamophobia” and antisemitism comparable? Reza Zia-Ebrahimi, a senior lecturer in history at King’s College London, maintains that the answer is yes.

Academic Freedom Goes on Trial: George F. Will, Washington Post, Dec. 29, 2017—Wisconsin’s Supreme Court can soon right a flagrant wrong stemming from events set in motion in 2014 at Milwaukee’s Marquette University by Cheryl Abbate. Although just a graduate student, she already had a precocious aptitude for academic nastiness.

                                                              

 

 

DESPITE SEVERAL ONGOING AND BLOODY M.E. CRISES, CONFLICT WITH PALESTINIANS DOMINATES MEDIA

Policy Speeches vs Policy: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 14, 2017— President Donald Trump is scheduled to release a new US national security strategy on Monday.

Where Russian and Iranian Aircraft Carriers Clash: Amir Taheri, Asharq Al Awsat, Dec. 17, 2017 — Last week, the Tehran daily Kayhan, believed to reflect the views of "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei offered its readers a front-page treat.

Is the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict the “Middle East Conflict”?: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Dec. 15, 2017— “Can Trump Solve the Middle East Conflict?” ran the headlines in al-Jazeera in July 2017.

Jerusalem, Israel’s Capital: Watch the Masks Fall: Najat AlSaied, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 17, 2017 — Many analysts say that US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a campaign promise to evangelical Christian and right-wing Jewish voters…

 

On Topic Links

 

United States Policy in the Middle East: The Need for a Grand Strategy: Moshe Ya'alon, INSS, Nov. 28, 2017

Syria, Security, Migration, and Eurabia: An Interview: Daniel Pipes, Alpha Institute, Dec. 7, 2017

US Must Bolster Its Presence In MidEast As ISIS Falls: Michael Makovsky, Eric Edelman and Charles Wald, Breaking Defense, Dec. 06, 2017

Why the International Community Should Follow Trump’s Lead on Jerusalem: Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar, BESA, Dec. 17, 2017

 

 

POLICY SPEECHES VS POLICY

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 14, 2017

 

President Donald Trump is scheduled to release a new US national security strategy on Monday. This past Tuesday Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster gave a speech laying out some of its components in a speech in Washington. McMaster’s speech was notable because in it he laid out a host of policies that McMaster himself has reportedly opposed since he was appointed to his position in February.

 

McMaster for instance has been open in his opposition to linking terrorism with Islam. He has also reportedly insisted on limiting US actions in Syria and Iraq to defeating Islamic State. McMaster reportedly fired his deputy for Middle East policy Derek Harvey last summer due to Harvey’s advocacy of combating Iran’s consolidation of control over Syria through its proxies President Bashar Assad and Hezbollah.

 

In his speech on Tuesday, McMaster embraced the policies he has reportedly opposed. He discussed at length the threat of what he referred to as “radical Islamist ideology.” That ideology, which the US had previously interpreted “myopically,” constitutes “a grave threat to all civilized people,” he said. McMaster regretted US myopia noting, “We didn’t pay enough attention to how it’s being advanced through charities, madrassas and other social organizations.” McMaster fingered Turkey and Qatar, two ostensible US allies, as the main sponsors and sources of funding for Islamist ideology that targets Western interests. He noted that in the past Saudi Arabia had served as a major sponsor of radical Islam. But Riyadh has been replaced by Qatar and by Turkey, he said.

 

Trump’s electoral victory raised hopes of his supporters and some of his advisers that the US would designate the Muslim Brotherhood has a terrorist organization. The Brotherhood has spawned multiple jihadist terrorist groups including al-Qaida and Hamas. President Recep Erdogan’s AK Party is a Turkish version of the Muslim Brotherhood. Whereas McMaster reportedly opposed those calls, and his opposition played a role in Trump’s avoidance of the designation to date, McMaster took a significant step on Tuesday toward designating the Brotherhood a terrorist group.

 

While stipulating that not all Muslim Brotherhood groups are alike, McMaster said there is a “big problem when Islamist radical ideology bridges into political Islam.” He criticized the short-lived Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt and singled out Qatar for its support of “the Morsi model.” He also noted that Turkey’s ruling AK Party operated through civil society to “consolidate power through one party.” He then said that the AKP’s consolidation of power “is a problem contributing to Turkey’s drift from the West.”

 

McMaster referred to Iran as a “rouge regime and a revisionist regional power.” He said the US must “counter destabilizing [Iranian] activity, especially in Syria.” Among other things, he said this includes blocking Iran’s path to nuclear weapons and blocking support for Iran’s proxies. The problem with McMaster’s speech and the policy paper it set the stage for is that it is hard to know if they reflect an actual change in policy. Certainly his position and general drift haven’t been reflected in US actions in several key countries this week.

 

The day after McMaster’s speech the US Embassy in Beirut announced delivery of another $120 million in military assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces. As Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has repeatedly stated, the LAF is a wholly owned subsidiary of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps controlled directly by Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese proxy army. The Hezbollah-controlled LAF is the fifth-largest recipient of US military assistance worldwide. According to Ambassador Elizabeth Richard, the LAF has received in excess of $1.5 billion in military aid over the past decade. The newest arms shipment will include six MD 530G light attack helicopters, six Scan Eagle drones, and communications and night vision equipment.

 

Earlier shipments this year included Hellfire missiles, M1A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, rocket-propelled grenades, carbines and ammunition as well as helicopters, fighter jets, drones, advanced night vision and communications equipment. Recently, Iran has become brazen in asserting its military control over Lebanon. A YouTube video posted this week portrayed Kais al-Ghazali, an Iranian- controlled Iraqi militia commander, standing 200 meters from Lebanon’s border with Israel. He and his colleagues were all wearing military uniforms. Ghazali declared, “I am here with my brothers from Hezbollah. We announce that we are fully prepared and ready to stand as one with the Lebanese people with the Palestinian cause.”…

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

                                                                       

 

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WHERE RUSSIAN AND IRANIAN AIRCRAFT CARRIERS CLASH

Amir Taheri

Asharq Al Awsat, Dec. 17, 2017

 

Last week, the Tehran daily Kayhan, believed to reflect the views of "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenei offered its readers a front-page treat. It claimed that Arabs "are clamoring for statues of General Qassem Suleimani to be installed in Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut, cities that he has saved from ISIS." The claim came hot on the heels of the Sochi meeting in which Russian President Vladimir Putin officially asserted his control over the Syrian dossier, at least as far as one side of that tragedy is concerned.

 

Did the mullahs want to contest Putin's role as "savior of Syria" by advancing an even bigger claim on behalf of Soleimani, known in Tehran as "The Selfie General"? It is almost certain that regardless of what happens next in Syria, the mullahs of Tehran are unlikely to grab the leading role in shaping that nation's future. Besides Russia there are several other major players in Syria who won't welcome the take-over bid from Tehran. So, there is no chance of a Soleimani statue in Damascus anytime soon.

 

The same thing could be said about Baghdad, the Iraqi capital where Tehran is suffering from the loss of even some of the staunchest of its allies. Large chunks of Iraqi Shi'ites are beginning to feel self-confident enough to reject tutelage from Tehran. As for Iraqi Kurds, only the remnants of the Talabani faction, liked to Tehran through juicy business deals, still look to Tehran for guidance and support. Iran's bizarre decision to join Turkey in threatening the use of force over the abortive secession referendum has torn the mask of "friendship for the Kurds" that the mullahs had worn for decades.

 

That leaves Beirut where Gen. Soleimani's "Hezbollah" gunmen may still look able to plant his statue. But even that is now open to question as dark clouds gather on the horizon. Having illegally extended its term, the parliament is still tempted with the idea of prolonging its own life yet again. And that would mean the continuation of a presidency and a premiership on the basis of decisions by a parliament which lost its legitimacy years ago. Elected on the basis of quotas for the country's 18 religious communities the self-perpetuating parliament is split down the middle and unable to decide anything one way or another.

 

One half of the parliament is controlled by a coterie of politicians who spend more time abroad than Beirut. To them, Lebanon is more of a milking cow than a country. A former President retired with $200 million, most of it immediately invested in Parisian property. Another top leader has spent more time building a Crusaders' style chateau than mingling with his constituents. Because top posts and juicy contracts are distributed according to sectarian quotas, the sect leaders wield immense powers of patronage in pork-barrel politics. One half of the Parliament wants Lebanon to reassert its "Arab identity" and join the front against Iran's hegemonic ambitions.

 

The other half controlled by a coalition led by "Hezbollah" sees Lebanon as "Iran's aircraft carrier on the Mediterranean", as the Tehran daily Kayhan put it. For "Hezbollah" what matters is the interest of the sectarian Khomeinist movement led by the mullahs in Tehran. In that context, Iran has sent thousands of "Hezbollah" fighters to Syria, helping Bashar al-Assad kill Syrians. According to estimates by Iranian media, "Hezbollah" sustains heavy losses so that Iran avoids sending its own fighters to Syria.

 

With a heavily armed militia of 30,000, "Hezbollah" is better equipped than the Lebanese National Army. It is also the public face of over 400 companies, banks and Shi'ite associations financed and controlled by Iran, often acting as a state within the state. With a mixture of bribes and threats of assassination, Iran also runs a network of political clients in other communities. Its generosity includes some Christians, Druze and even Sunni Muslim personalities and groups.

 

Iran's priority in Lebanon is to ensure the territorial contiguity of Shi'ite- areas from the Syrian border to the ceasefire line with Israel. This means annexing Christian, Druze and other minority villages that resemble an archipelago in a sea of Shiism. To achieve that, according to local reports, Iran is paying generous prices to buy those villages. Where money doesn't work, the shadow of the gun does the trick. By some estimates, Iran might achieve its aim within a year or two.

 

So far, the two halves of Lebanon have managed not to come to blows because neither side is sure of winning. An important reason is that right now only one camp is armed and the other exposed. However, the fragile balance is in danger for two reasons. The first is that the Assad regime may not be able to hang on much longer. Despite Russia's diplomatic gesticulations that included a brief seaside encounter between President Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad, when it comes to Syria's future regime, Moscow and Tehran do not sing from the same hymn sheet. Tehran still pursues the dream of restoring Syria's unity under Assad even if that means many more years of war…

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

                                                                       

                                                                                   

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IS THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT THE “MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT”?

Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA, Dec. 15, 2017

 

“Can Trump Solve the Middle East Conflict?” ran the headlines in al-Jazeera in July 2017. A year earlier, The New York Times ran an article on students and the Middle East conflict that referred exclusively to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

The media are hardly alone in conflating the Israeli-Palestinian standoff with the Middle East conflict. They take their cue from UN officials and institutions and other international bodies. In a statement similar to those of many of his predecessors, in August 2017, UN Secretary-General António Guterres “reiterated his call for a political solution to the Middle East conflict.” The UN’s official news site on the Middle East deals exclusively with news related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Quartet, the political forum comprised of the US, Russia, the EU, and the UN, which came into existence in 2002 in Madrid to bring peace to the area, is officially known as the Middle East Quartet.

 

Does the conflation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the Middle East conflict reflect reality? Not at all. Not only is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict one of many conflicts in the Middle East (true even when it was a conflict principally between Israel and Arab states), but it is not nearly one of the deadliest or most explosive. In fact, relatively speaking, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not very violent, which may be one of the reasons it has persisted so long.

 

A cursory comparison with contemporary conflicts in the Middle East brings this point home. During the first intifada, the second intifada, the three rounds of violence between Hamas and Israel in the past decade, and the intermittent waves of low intensity violence, 2,000 Israeli civilians and security personnel and 11,000 Palestinians have been killed (the majority in the second intifada). To this one might add about fifty foreigners killed in acts of terrorism against Israelis. All told, the total casualty figures, including both sides, do not exceed 14,000 over the past twenty years, or 700 annually.

 

Compare this with the 200,000 deaths in the Syrian civil war, a conflict that is only six years old. True, the Syrian population is more than double that of the combined Israeli and Palestinian populations in the Holy Land. Nevertheless, the death rate proportionately has been fifteen times higher. Despite the Syrian government’s success against the rebels (achieved with considerable help from Iran, Hezbollah, Iraqi and Afghani Shiite fighters, and Russian airpower), the end of the civil war is nowhere in sight. Is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict really the Middle East conflict?

 

Why isn’t the internecine Iraqi conflict the Middle East conflict? According to Iraq Watch, over 100,000 Iraqis were killed during the eight years of massive US military presence in the country. To those one might add the 4,000 US troops and civilians who met their death there. On a proportionate basis, the Iraqi conflict is (and persists in being) at least five times more lethal than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And again, despite the gains made by the Iraqi Federal Army and the Iranian-controlled Shiite militias in the war against ISIS, an end to the internecine war between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq is nowhere in sight. The brutality of the Shiite militias in the “occupied” Sunni areas of Iraq increases the likelihood that variations on ISIS will rise once again.

 

The same is probably true of the conflicts in Libya and Yemen, where few bother to churn the terrible numbers. In these arenas, too, the end of violence is nowhere in sight. This is not to mention the “persistent, enduring and explosive” (all adjectives used to conflate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the Middle East) wars of Sudan, the duration of which is almost as long as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But perhaps body count is not the only metric to be used when judging the centrality of a conflict. Perhaps foreign involvement ought to be considered.

 

It’s certainly true that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict commands foreign attention, but it does not command foreign involvement. Whereas the conflict between Israel and the Arab states during the superpower rivalry ran the risk of igniting World War III, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict long ago became parochial. The last time any Arab state or foreign organization became involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was 35 years ago, when the Syrian army tried to stop the Israeli advance into Lebanon in 1982. In 2006, Hezbollah conducted the longest military campaign to have been conducted against Israel since Israel’s War of Independence – and the Palestinians stood on the sidelines. Hezbollah returned the favor during the rounds of clashes between Israel and Hamas in 2008, 2012, and 2014. Its soldiers remained in the barracks.

 

As the Israeli-Palestinian trajectory has become increasingly parochial, the trajectories of the other regional conflicts have gone in the opposite direction: They began as local civil wars but evolved into regional and international conflagrations. The Syrian, Iraqi, and Yemeni conflicts have become three-tiered conflicts – civil or sectarian wars at their base, proxy wars between regional rivals (Iran, Saudi Arabia, and, to a lesser extent, Turkey), and arenas of international contest among world powers. The same Hezbollah that stayed home during the high points of violence between Israel and the Palestinians took to the battlefields of Syria on Iran’s behalf to prop up the Assad regime. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the Middle East conflict? Give me a break!                                  

                                                                       

Contents

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL’S CAPITAL: WATCH THE MASKS FALL

Najat AlSaied

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 17, 2017

 

Many analysts say that US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a campaign promise to evangelical Christian and right-wing Jewish voters, but there is another way of looking at it. Trump’s recognition might be a golden opportunity for two-faced opportunists to be unmasked — a shot of reality that might eventually help the peace process and solve this long-lasting conflict.

 

Since the declaration of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, many Arab observers, intellectuals and academics have started to question the veracity of those jihadists who claim they are sacrificing themselves to defend Jerusalem, because when the actual announcement came — nothing happened. Those who were exploiting sensitivities related to Jerusalem — especially political Islamists, such as Hamas and Hezbollah — come mainly from the axis of resistance, led by Iran. Other opportunists are the two-faced countries in the region, such as Qatar and Turkey. While publicly hostile towards Israel, behind closed doors they support it. Further opportunists are the Western and Arab media, who for decades have been promoting the idea that the problem is the Israeli occupation, but never mention the Palestinian Authority corruption.

 

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has also revealed the shortcomings of the US Department of State. It has not played any role in clarifying the above-mentioned points and, by this negativity and bureaucracy, only generated further hatred towards the US. Trump’s recognition has exposed the hypocrisy of the armed militia Hezbollah which always claims it will never disarm because of its fight against Israel. Now after the recognition of Jerusalem, many Arabs are questioning Hezbollah’s motivations regarding Israel. Lebanese and other Arabs are questioning why Hezbollah has not sent its armed militia to fight in Israel as it did in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Dr. Hadi El Amine, a Lebanese researcher in political science and governmental studies, tweeted, “The axis of resistance’s words are aimed against Israel, but their missiles are pointed at the Arabs.”

 

Adhwan Alahmari, a Saudi journalist based in London for Asharq al-Awsat also tweeted: “The soldiers, rockets and suicide bombers of Hezbollah are at Israel’s borders yet they did not support Jerusalem after Trump’s declaration, instead supporting the Wilayat al-Faqih [Iranian Guardianship of the Islamic Jurist] to fight in Syria to displace and annihilate its people to protect the shrine.”

 

Yet another opportunist is Hamas and its supporters who have succeeded in turning Arabs against the Palestinians. This time, the Palestinians’ anger was not turned only towards Israel and the US, but mainly at Saudi Arabia. Hamas and its followers attacked the Saudi flag and insulted King Salman of Saudi Arabia. These Palestinians seem to think that Trump did not make this announcement without a wink of approval from Saudi Arabia. Their reaction has angered countless Saudis, who consider this attack a demonstration of ingratitude from the unappreciative Palestinians, to whom they have given billions of dollars.

 

In response, the Saudis started several hashtags on Twitter such as #hellwithyouand your issue, and #Saudis are angry for their king. Many Saudis behind these hashtags regret every penny that has been given to defend the Palestinians, especially after they saw these Palestinian traitors, as they put it, insulting Saudi Arabia, which has enriched them and channeled exorbitant financing into Palestinian development projects. Salman Al-Ansari, a Saudi writer and political commentator based in Washington DC, tweeted: “We want to make everyone aware that the salaries of Palestinian diplomats around the world come from Riyadh-Saudi Arabia; salaries which are 30% higher than that of Saudi diplomats. What did Doha and Ankara do for them other than offer empty slogans and stab Jerusalem in the back?”

 

If you now ask the Saudis, the one of their main supporters and funders, about this conflict, the majority will say, “It is none of our business”. The Saudis would rather, it seems, focus on their own internal affairs and save their money rather than pay ungrateful Palestinians. A large numbers of Saudis additionally seem surprised by the attitude of Palestinians, who support Qatar and Turkey, countries which have diplomatic relationships with Israel. As a result, many Saudis think the Palestinians are not serious about defending their cause…

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

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

United States Policy in the Middle East: The Need for a Grand Strategy: Moshe Ya'alon, INSS, Nov. 28, 2017—The first year of the Trump administration has been characterized by the lack of clear policy guidelines vis-à-vis the Middle East.

Syria, Security, Migration, and Eurabia: An Interview: Daniel Pipes, Alpha Institute, Dec. 7, 2017With the fall of Raqqa, what is the future of Syria? ISIS has been a minor factor in Syria for over a year; the real battle is between the many powerful states active in the country, both regional (Iran, Turkey, Israel) and international (Russia, the United States). The fate of Syria depends on their kaleidoscopic relations.

US Must Bolster Its Presence In MidEast As ISIS Falls: Michael Makovsky, Eric Edelman and Charles Wald, Breaking Defense, Dec. 06, 2017—As ISIS goes down to military defeat, the United States requires a longer-range plan and an enduring force presence to deny Iran total victory in Syria. Otherwise, the United States risks losing influence as a new Middle Eastern order is being forged.

Why the International Community Should Follow Trump’s Lead on Jerusalem: Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar, BESA, Dec. 17, 2017—Now that US President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announced plans to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, Arab and Muslim leaders and spokespersons have been trying to frighten other nations out of following his lead. To counter that effort, the world should consider a few salient points.

 

 

                                                              

 

 

“VICTORY IS ONLY WON WHEN INDIVIDUALS HAVE THE COURAGE TO STAND UP AND TAKE ON EVIL TOGETHER”—RABBI COOPER

Hanukkah Should Shine a Bright Light and Unite us all in the Battle Against Evil: Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Fox News, Dec. 12, 2017 — Charles Dickens’ famous opening words from his 1859 novel “A Tale of Two Cities” accurately describe how many American Jews are feeling this year at the start of Hanukkah, our Festival of Lights, which begins at sundown Tuesday.

A Capital Idea: Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard, Dec. 8, 2017 — President Trump on December 6 ended all hope of Middle East peace, recklessly encouraged terrorism, and ruined U.S. relations with all Arab countries.

How to Bring Peace to Palestine: Philip Carl Salzman, Frontier Centre, Dec. 11, 2017— The Canadian Government is sending $25,000,000 of taxpayers’ money to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is uniquely dedicated to supporting Palestine refugees.

Iranian Terror. Argentinian Cover Up. Justice at Last?: Mark Dubowitz and Toby Dershowitz, New York Times, Dec. 11, 2017 — One morning last week, Argentines woke up to a political earthquake: A judge had charged a former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, with “treason against the homeland,” punishable by up to 25 years in prison.

 

On Topic Links

 

Most Jewish Life & Holiday Customs Are Both Joyful and Portable: Allan Levine, CIJR, Dec. 15, 2017

WATCH: Trump Elaborates on Ancient Jewish Ties to Jerusalem at White House Chanukah Party: United With Israel, Dec. 8, 2017 

List of Reasons Why all Foreign Countries Should Follow President Trump on Jerusalem: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 7, 2017

Thoughts for Vice President Pence: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Dec. 15, 2017                                       

 

 

HANUKKAH SHOULD SHINE A BRIGHT LIGHT

AND UNITE US ALL IN THE BATTLE AGAINST EVIL

Rabbi Abraham Cooper

Fox News, Dec. 12, 2017

 

Charles Dickens’ famous opening words from his 1859 novel “A Tale of Two Cities” accurately describe how many American Jews are feeling this year at the start of Hanukkah, our Festival of Lights, which begins at sundown Tuesday. Dickens wrote: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness .…”

 

In 2017 American Jews have never been so free to pursue the American Dream. We have many blessings to be thankful for in this great country, which has opened its doors to Jews from around the world. And yet, we sense a new season of darkness casting shadows on our collective future. Jewish paranoia? No. For decades, FBI annual hate crime statistics have identified African-Americans as the top target of race-based hate crimes. Jews – despite being just 2 percent of the U.S. population – are atop the list of targets of religious-based hate crimes.

 

But anti-Semitism this year has been different in scope and diversity. This year saw Jewish Community Centers targeted by over 120 bomb threats. The evacuations of Jewish toddlers from child-care centers at these Jewish Centers – and the months of not knowing who was behind the criminal bomb threats – devastated young Jewish parents. Older Jewish students in grades K-12 were subject to bullying and worse. Meanwhile, anti-Semitic invective, graffiti, overt threats and intimidation were directed against Jewish students who dared stand up for the Jewish State of Israel on our nation’s university campuses from coast to coast.

 

For example, Jewish students at Rutgers University were confronted by a blatant anti-Semite among their tenured professors who posted anti-Jewish statements and cartoons on Facebook.  Fortunately, Professor Michael Chikindas was removed by Rutgers last week as director of the Center for Digestive Health at the university, was barred from teaching required courses and will receive training in cultural sensitivity. But despite all the promises of an intimidation-free campus, too many such bigots are consistently shielded in the name of free speech, while Jewish students are left twisting in the wind.

 

Even before President Trump’s declaration last week that he recognizes Jerusalem as capital of Israel – a simple acknowledgement of reality – universities, some churches and elements of the progressive movements had legitimized those who demonize Jews and anyone daring to publicly declare support for the Jewish State. The anti-black and anti-Jewish outpouring of hatred by neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and their allies in Charlottesville, Virginia in August introduced a new, younger, social media-savvy generation of anti-Semites and racists.

 

Gone are the days when neo-Nazis had to leave hate-filled flyers on car windshields. Today these hatemongers deploy bots to personalize attacks on Jewish reporters, upload high-quality videos of their marches, and fully deploy the bells and whistles of social media to find new recruits. Radical imams promote overt Jew-hatred and some have even declared “death to the Jews” at mosques in our nation. There has been nary a response from other clergy, law enforcement or politicians. Public solidarity against history’s oldest hatred has grown dimmer even as anti-Semitism grows.

 

Last week I testified at the House Homeland Security Committee in Washington on the growing threats of domestic terrorism as it relates to the Jewish community. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, expressed genuine concern about the scope of hate in America today and asked if the answer was more money. I told the congresswoman that while we could always use more funds to bolster the security of our institutions, some problems will not disappear by throwing money at them. We need the grassroots in all our communities to fight together against hate.

 

This brings me to a core lesson for Jews and all Americans from the story of Hanukkah, which commemorates two very distinct miracles. The first miracle was the incredible victory of a ragtag band of outnumbered Jewish fighters, known as the Maccabees, over a powerful Greek military force controlling the Land of Israel more than 2,000 years ago. Yet our ancient sages downplayed the military miracle.

 

It was the second miracle that is the centerpiece of Hanukkah. This was the rekindling of the lights of the Menorah in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem with only a small container of pure olive oil that was untainted by the idol-worshipping occupiers. The oil, which should have kept the menorah lit for only 24 hours, lasted for eight days.

 

Our sages understood that military might is necessary in confronting and defeating evil. But they knew that embattled civilizations can only survive if they can defeat the enemy in the marketplace of ideas. The Maccabees, like all freedom-loving heroes through the ages, prevailed because they knew what they were fighting for. They would not allow their values about the sanctity of humanity to be erased by a conqueror, however powerful. Tuesday night and for the seven nights that follow, Jews around the world will place the lit menorah where neighbors and passersby can see it. By doing, so we remind ourselves and the world that ultimate victory is only won when individuals have the courage to stand up and take on evil together. It’s a lesson that must be applied this Hanukkah by Americans of all races and creeds if we are ever to prevail against evil.                                                    

 

Contents

A CAPITAL IDEA

Elliott Abrams

Weekly Standard, Dec. 8, 2017

 

President Trump on December 6 ended all hope of Middle East peace, recklessly encouraged terrorism, and ruined U.S. relations with all Arab countries. Or so one would think reading the reactions to his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The foreign minister of Sweden called the decision “catastrophic.” Not to be outdone, the veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would lead to “chaos, lawlessness, and extremism.” That wasn’t enough, so Erekat added, “President Trump just destroyed any possibility of a two-state [solution]” and “President Trump tonight made the biggest mistake of his life.”

 

The move that produced this hyperbole was announcing that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the United States would eventually build an embassy there. This was done in accordance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which Congress passed with huge bipartisan majorities. This week, Democrats couldn’t exactly eat those votes, but they could sure chew on the edges. Here was Nancy Pelosi: “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish homeland. But in the absence of a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem now may needlessly spark mass protests, fuel tensions, and make it more difficult to reach a durable peace.” In other words, I used to be for it but now Donald Trump is for it so I’m not.

 

In the American Jewish community there was extremely widespread support—but the head of the Reform movement, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, cemented the view that it is a branch of the Democratic party by saying, “while we share the president’s belief that the U.S. Embassy should, at the right time, be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we cannot support his decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process.” The “right time” for him is apparently just after the arrival of the Messiah.

 

Why all the hyperbole? After all, it’s a simple fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and has been ever since its War of Independence ended in 1949. When an American president or secretary of state goes to see the Israeli prime minister or speak to the Knesset, that’s where he or she goes. In 2016 Barack Obama went to the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem to deliver a eulogy for Shimon Peres. The White House released the transcript under the heading “Remarks by President Obama at Memorial Service for Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel.” Nine hours later, it released a corrected version with Israel crossed out, like this: “Jerusalem, Israel.” This ludicrous action raised a question: In what country did Obama and his White House think Peres was being buried?

 

This absurd incident helps explain why Trump took his action. It was a victory for common sense and as well for history. After nearly 70 years, it was long past time for the United States to acknowledge what is obvious: Like every country, Israel has a capital, and it is unacceptable that Israel be the only country on earth that is refused the right to choose that capital. Refusing to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is part of the campaign, as old as Israel itself, to deny the Jewish state legitimacy. So what explains the ridiculous overreaction? For someone like Pelosi, there’s a simple rule: Never give Donald Trump credit for anything, period. For the Europeans, hatred of Trump combines with longstanding anti-Israel bias, especially in the foreign ministries. The many phony statements of regret and copious crocodile tears about possibly forthcoming violence broadcast the clear hope that there would be plenty of rioting, just to prove Trump wrong. For Arab regimes, fearful of public sentiment that is always pro-Palestinian and often propelled by simple Jew-hatred, the path of least resistance and greatest safety was to denounce Trump’s move.

 

There will be violence if Arab rulers want violence, and very little if they want to stop it. The Palestinian Authority itself is the main exhibit here. It should be held responsible for violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank because its overreaction and its deliberate mischaracterizations of what Trump has done will fuel violence. When the PA closes schools, as it did the day following Trump’s remarks, so students can be free to riot, it is encouraging violence. We have seen this play before, initially under Yasser Arafat and as recently as July, when two Israeli policemen near the Temple Mount were shot and killed and Israel installed metal detectors to prevent weapons from being brought there. The Palestinians might have said, “well, there are metal detectors all over Mecca, and for the same reason, to stop terror, so what’s the big deal?” Instead the ruling Fatah party called for “days of rage” and got them. What is the proper American response? To bow to threats of violence or to do what President Trump did and move forward? After all, when threats of violence and acts of violence are seen to change U.S. policy, there will be more of them. If, instead, they achieve nothing, there will be fewer of them.

 

 

Contents

HOW TO BRING PEACE TO PALESTINE

Philip Carl Salzman

Frontier Centre, Dec. 11, 2017

 

The Canadian Government is sending $25,000,000 of taxpayers’ money to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is uniquely dedicated to supporting Palestine refugees. Some observers say that UNRWA actively supports Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood movement dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the genocide of Jews. Hamas controls Gaza, from which it launches rocket and tunnel attacks on Israel. “’I’m horrified,’ said Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent, who said there is ample proof that ‘massive amounts’ of UN aid have been redirected to support Palestinian military efforts against Israel. We have abundant evidence that UNRWA is part of the problem.” Conservative M.P. Andrew Scheer said that “UNRWA is an obstacle to achieving peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Canadian official policy states that “Canada is committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.” The goal of Canadian aid to Gaza and the West Bank is to “support the establishment of a law-based, peaceful and prosperous society.” Canadians need to ask themselves whether Canada’s financial aid advances to cause of peace, or impedes it.

 

Champions of Palestine argue that Palestinians are victims of Israeli imperialism and colonialism, theft of Palestinian land, ethnic cleansing and genocide, apartheid, and white supremacy. Jewish Israelis are thus alleged to be oppressors of Palestinians, and the Palestinians are victims of Israeli oppression. It follows from this, goes the argument, that the hundred years of Palestinian mob violence and terrorism against the Jews in Palestine and Israel, the repeated invasions by Arab armies, the Palestinian and Arab refusal to engage with Israel or to “normalize” relations, the Palestinian rejection of all peace plans offered, and the continuing incitement to violence by the Palestinian Authority, are justified by the demand for Palestinian liberation from oppression. However poorly this argument fits with the facts, many Canadians seem to believe it. The demand for “liberation” from “oppression” is, however, not the same as a desire for peace. In fact, the Palestinians have multiple reasons for not wanting peace with Israel, all feeding together to strengthen one another and to reinforce the determination to reject peace:

 

The first reason that Palestinians reject peace with the Jewish State of Israel is the despised status of Jews in the view of Islam. Jews are viewed in the foundational texts of Islam as, at best, stubborn rejecters of the true faith, and, at worse, enemies of Islam. For 1400 years, Jews in Islamic lands had to pay heavy taxes not to be killed, accept ritual humiliation and a wide range of restrictions, and provide labour for the Islamic state, in order to claim “dhimma” protected status as subordinates. The idea that Jews could be politically independent and run their own state and society is monstrous to Islam and to many Muslims, and a violation of God’s order. The Palestinian Hamas Charter (Article 7) openly calls for the elimination not only of Israel but of all Jews everywhere: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews. (Related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).” (Hamas Charter, Article 7)

 

The second reason why the Palestinians reject peace with the Jewish State of Israel is that for 1400 years Palestine—so named by the Roman Empire after two centuries of wars with the Jews, to erase the names Israel and Judea—was occupied by invading Islamic forces, first the Arabs as they expanded their Empire from Europe to India, then the Ottoman Turks. Under Islamic law, lands governed by Muslims became Islamic waqf, Islamic foundations, which belong to Muslims in perpetuity. The establishment of a Jewish state on land long controlled by Muslims is thought by Muslims to be theft from God. Making peace with Jewish Israel would mean that the Palestinians would be surrendering Islamic territory to Jews, and by doing so betraying Islam and God…

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

 

 

Contents

IRANIAN TERROR. ARGENTINIAN COVER UP. JUSTICE AT LAST?

Mark Dubowitz and Toby Dershowitz

New York Times, Dec. 11, 2017

 

One morning last week, Argentines woke up to a political earthquake: A judge had charged a former president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, with “treason against the homeland,” punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Her crime? Nothing less than covering up Iran’s role in one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the Americas before Sept. 11. On July 18, 1994, Ibrahim Hussein Berro, an operative of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, drove a van filled with 606 pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer and fuel oil into the Buenos Aires Jewish community center, known as AMIA. More than 300 Argentines were wounded; 85 were murdered. It remains the bloodiest terrorist attack in Argentina’s history.

 

From 2004 until 2015, our friend, the prosecutor Alberto Nisman, tirelessly pursued the truth behind this crime. He knew from his investigation that the attack was an Iranian-planned operation. And he determined that Ms. Kirchner was behind a cover-up designed to whitewash Iran’s role. What drove Ms. Kirchner? Argentina faced deep economic problems at the time, and the financial benefits of closer relations with Iran might have tempted her. Her government also had populist ties to Iran and the Bolivarian bloc of nations led by Venezuela. Whatever the reason, never has Ms. Kirchner been formally charged in the crime. Until now.

 

When the federal judge Claudio Bonadio handed down the 491-page indictment against Ms. Kirchner; her foreign minister, Hector Timerman; her handpicked intelligence chief; her top legal adviser; two pro-Iran activists; and 10 others, he didn’t mince words. He called the attack on the Jewish community center an “act of war” by Iran and accused Ms. Kirchner of covering up the role of senior Iranian leaders and their Hezbollah proxies in exchange for a trade deal. If only Alberto Nisman were alive to see justice finally being pursued.

 

Three years ago, Mr. Nisman was set to testify to the country’s Congress on Ms. Kirchner’s role in the cover up. The day before his testimony, on Jan. 18, 2015, he was found dead in his apartment in Buenos Aires, with a bullet in his head. This, despite the fact that he had a 10-man security detail paid to protect him. Within hours, Ms. Kirchner announced that Mr. Nisman had committed suicide. In the days that followed, she strangely claimed his death was part of a lovers’ spat. Finally, she changed her story once more: His death may have been the result of rogue intelligence operatives.

 

When we heard the news of Mr. Nisman’s death and of Ms. Kirchner’s suspected cover-up, we were horrified, but not entirely shocked. Anyone who had followed Mr. Nisman’s pursuit of this case knew that he was assuming grave risks by taking on both a terrorist state and his own government. Through a decade of investigation, Mr. Nisman received death threats against not only him but his children as well. One email he told us about had a picture of bloodied and brutalized bodies lying on the ground, with a note saying this would be the fate of his young daughters if he did not cease his investigation.

 

None of it stopped him. Fearless and resolute, Mr. Nisman and his team had determined that former Iranian and Hezbollah officials planned the AMIA attack. He was able to show definitively that the plan included no less than Iran’s former president, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani; its minister of intelligence; its foreign minister; the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps; the head of the corps’ elite Quds force; the Iranian cultural attaché in Argentina; and the third secretary at Iran’s Embassy in Buenos Aires, as well as the former head of Hezbollah’s external security. His investigation led Interpol to issue red notices — akin to international arrest warrants — against six of the perpetrators. Argentina itself issued arrest warrants for Mr. Rafsanjani and Ali Akbar Velayati, then foreign minister, which Iran predictably disregarded.

 

But Mr. Nisman did not stop there. In May 2013, he released a 500-page indictment outlining how Iran had penetrated not just Argentina, but also Brazil, Uruguay, Chile, Guyana, Paraguay, Trinidad, Tobago and Suriname, and how it used mosques, social service organizations and its own embassies to radicalize and recruit terrorists. Mr. Nisman also shared information that helped American authorities determine that Mohsen Rabbani, the Iranian embassy cultural attaché and one of the AMIA bombing masterminds, helped four men, including his disciple, a Guyanese official named Abdul Kadir, plot to blow up the fuel lines at Kennedy International Airport in New York. Mr. Kadir is serving a life sentence in the United States for the foiled plot, which could have led to the loss of countless lives.

 

In a normal democracy, investigating the murder of a man like Alberto Nisman would be a top priority. But Ms. Kirchner and her allies assured that justice for Mr. Nisman’s murder was stymied for years. That changed three months ago, when, under Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, a fresh investigation by the Argentine national police found that Mr. Nisman had been drugged with Ketamine, a drug used to sedate animals, then brutally beaten before he was shot in the head…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Most Jewish Life & Holiday Customs Are Both Joyful and Portable: Allan Levine, CIJR, Dec. 15, 2017—No doubt many traveling readers who've carried the Hanukkah/Chanukah Menorah & candles or oil while traveling during this well-known family centered Jewish holiday can relate memorable tales of others joining in with them, when engaging in honoring this practice in public places. 

WATCH: Trump Elaborates on Ancient Jewish Ties to Jerusalem at White House Chanukah Party: United With Israel, Dec. 8, 2017—President Donald Trump, addressing the annual White House Chanukah party, repeated his commitment to recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish people. Demonstrating the ancient Jewish ties to Jerusalem and the Holy Temple, he told the story of Chanukah, including the miracle of the oil – “a sign of God’s presence in his dwelling place and a symbol of the faith and resilience of the Jewish people.”

List of Reasons Why all Foreign Countries Should Follow President Trump on Jerusalem: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 7, 2017—Arab and Muslim leaders and spokespersons have been trying to frighten the entire world in order to prevent other nations from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – Trump’s declaration notwithstanding – and from relocating their embassies to Jerusalem. It’s time to tell the world what it should have realized a long time ago.

Thoughts for Vice President Pence: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Dec. 15, 2017—Dear U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. As you prepare to visit Israel next week, I ask you to take a few minutes to contemplate history and to think about fate.          

                                                              

 

 

M.E. PLAGUED BY INSTABILITY, BUT ISRAEL REMAINS OUR MOST DEPENDABLE ALLY

A New Politics Emerges in Middle East. It Doesn't Involve Democracy: Robert Fulford, National Post, Nov. 10, 2017— On December 17, 2010, a 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi was infuriated by bureaucrats who refused to give him a peddler’s permit.

Don’t Forget Middle East Madness: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Nov. 7, 2017 — There is currently a real Asian pivot as the president completes one of the longest presidential tours of Asia in memory.

As Saudi Arabia Reels, the Middle East Will Only Get Worse: Dr. James M. Dorsey, BESA, November 10, 2017—As Saudi Arabia reels from Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s frontal assault on the kingdom’s elite, indications are that the Saudi-Iranian proxy war is heating up.

The U.S. Middle East Peace Plan?: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 13, 2017— Who said that Palestinians have no respect for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries? They do.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Real Arab Spring: Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary, Nov. 6, 2017

Trump Team Begins Drafting Middle East Peace Plan: Peter Baker, New York Times, Nov. 11, 2017

Why There Is No Peace in the Middle East: Philip Carl Salzman, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 14, 2017

The Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah Connection: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 8, 2017

                                                           

 

A NEW POLITICS EMERGES IN MIDDLE EAST.

IT DOESN'T INVOLVE DEMOCRACY                                                 

Robert Fulford

National Post, Nov. 10, 2017

 

On December 17, 2010, a 26-year-old Tunisian street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi was infuriated by bureaucrats who refused to give him a peddler’s permit. When he was slapped by a policewoman while registering his complaint, he was so humiliated that he set himself on fire. That act became a catalyst for the demonstrations known as the Arab Spring.

 

His self-immolation set off violent mobs across Tunisia so intense and so menacing that President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali stepped down after 23 years in power and left with his family for Saudi Arabia. Bouazizi spent 18 comatose days in the hospital and then died. About 5,000 people followed his funeral procession as news of his suicide swept quickly across the Arab world. He turned into an international hero. A Tunisian professor declared that Bouazizi “changed the course of Arab political history,” with a “breakthrough in the fight against autocracy.” Tunisia put his picture on a postage stamp. Two Tunisian directors promised to make a movie about him, one of them calling him “a symbol for eternity.” The London Times named him “person of the year.” Paris named a square after him.

 

Most of the mobs demanded democracy. In the West, they were cheered on by the media. It was still the era when President George W. Bush expressed the belief that everyone in the world wanted to live in a democracy. Many westerners (I was typical) accepted that, if the mobs demanded democracy, they probably wanted democracy. We talked about how it would be managed. In truth, the Arabs had little experience of democracy, no tradition of it and no way to bring it about. What they wanted, more likely, was freedom from oppression.

 

As a result, the Arab world today remains politically and intellectually constricted. Despots are still in charge. In Egypt especially, the goals of the Arab Spring now look pathetic. In April 2011, as Egypt prepared for an experiment with democracy, the Muslim Brotherhood launched a political party, Freedom and Justice, to contest the 2012 presidential election. Its candidate, Mohamed Morsi, became Egypt’s first democratically elected president, an apparent triumph for freedom. But a year later, when the Muslim Brotherhood grew spectacularly unpopular, the military under Abdel Fatah al-Sissi overturned it and installed a regime at least as repressive and violent as the pre-Arab Spring dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. The crowds shouting for democracy in Tahrir Square accomplished precisely the opposite of their demands. The Muslim Brotherhood has since been identified as a terrorist group by Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

 

Yemen and Libya turned into failed states; ISIL chose Libya as an attractive location for one of its wings. Morocco and Jordan managed to deflect the demands of the mobs. Tunisia, where it all began with Bouazizi, emerged as the one partial success of the Arab Spring. Tunisians uniquely knew enough to bargain their way to political compromise. They drafted a new constitution, determining how to rotate power. But their government faces fresh reversals through terrorism that cripples their economy.

 

This year, a new pattern is emerging in the Middle East. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (often referred to as MBS), the designated Saudi king-to-be, has begun a broad anti-corruption campaign. His officials have detained hundreds of leaders in government and big business, many of them the royal relatives of MBS. This campaign may be MBS’ way of consolidating and defining power, but it may also be a way of making progress by cutting down the endemic corruption of the oil kingdoms. It is said that MBS recently encouraged the King’s decision to break tradition by allowing women to drive cars. That change may be the first step in the liberation of women, or merely a fresh way of making Saudi Arabia seem relatively attractive to foreigners. Possibly it signals an attempt to turn a hidebound kingdom into a fledging modern state.

 

At the same time, the Saudis have taken an aggressive stand against Iran and its puppet Lebanon. For a long time, Iran has been free to establish itself through its terrorist connections as a leading power in the region. Hezbollah, the Iran-supported Shi’a Islamist terror faction, is so well situated in Lebanon that it has representatives in the national parliament and enough seats in the cabinet to veto any legislation. The Saudis have mainly ignored Iran’s progress, but now it seems that they have recognized this threat and decided to oppose it. MBS’ vision of reform doesn’t involve democracy. But it offers populism, nationalism and realism. As Sohrab Ahmari wrote this week in Commentary magazine, Arab society isn’t configured to democracy as the West understands it. The Arab Spring has yielded Islamism, failed states and civil war. Perhaps MBS is breaking free of past failures and charting a new route to reform and prosperity for the Saudis and their region.                                    

 

Contents

DON’T FORGET MIDDLE EAST MADNESS

Victor Davis Hanson

National Review, Nov. 7, 2017

 

There is currently a real Asian pivot as the president completes one of the longest presidential tours of Asia in memory. Three carrier battle groups are in the West Pacific…In contrast, Americans lately have gladly almost forgotten about the Middle East, except for occasional updates on the systematic destruction of the once “jayvee” ISIS. They are certainly relieved that Fallujah is no longer in the news much. It is a relief that no one catches any more Al Jazeera clips of ISIS cowards burning, drowning, decapitating, blowing up, and hanging women and children. More likely, ISIS jihadists are bedraggled, soiled, and drifting about asking for clemency from their betters…

 

There are no more U.S. troops in a supposedly “sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq” — and hardly an Iraq at all. So much for Vice President Joe Biden’s pre-pullout boast that a post-surge, consensual Iraqi government was likely to be the Obama administration’s “greatest achievement”. After Barack Obama was embarrassed by his faux-red-line in Syria, then–secretary of state John Kerry sought to address a loss of face by fobbing off the region to the Russians after their 40-year ostracism from the Middle East. The last few years, Vladimir Putin seems more the arbiter of peace and war than does an American president.

 

Few liberals now defend the Obama-Clinton-Rice-Power bombing of Libya and the mess that followed. After Benghazi and the failed-state terrorist sanctuaries, who could? As for Egypt, the Obama administration managed to be despised all at once by the old Mubarak kleptocracy, by the administration’s once-favored Muslim Brotherhood “one-election, one time” cabal led by USC grad Mohamed Morsi, and by the junta of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Who can keep track?

 

Until recently America apparently favored an ascendant Iran-Shiite-Hezbollah-Assad nexus over the ossified and estranged Sunni Gulf monarchies. The prior administration pushed through the Iran deal that sent billions of dollars into the Iranian terrorist pipeline and eventually will guarantee an Iranian bomb — on the promise that the bomb would come later rather than sooner. Who can count all the masked side deals, hidden cash supplements, and unspoken corollaries in the agreement? The U.S. is now exporting vast amounts of oil, coal, and natural gas, and is the world’s largest producer of fossil-fuel energy. It eventually will have little need for Middle East energy, although it is still worried that belligerents do. We rarely hear much anymore of the old petrodollar stories about revolving-door government officials and lobbyists selling out to Saudi interests.

 

Iran now has the cash to buy almost all the weapons it needs. With ISIS gone, the Kurds increasingly isolated, and the U.S. not likely to remain much longer in the region after the demise of ISIS, Iran will finish building its pathway to the Mediterranean. There will be lots of jihadists, terrorists, and insurgents out of work and eager to fight Israel, much as they did in 2006. Eleven years is a long time without a major Israeli–Islamic Arab war — and so plenty of time for a foolish new generation of Islamists to believe that they can destroy the IDF.

 

So this much-needed respite from the Middle East madness may be coming to a close. An empowered Iran is getting richer, and it is watching closely how nuclear North Korea fares in its threats to the U.S. and its allies. Hezbollah, the Assad government, and Iran are waging a veritable proxy war against Saudi Arabia. Lebanon may soon become the Lebanon battleground of the 1970s and 1980s again.

 

Which brings us to Israel, out late, great — but most dependable — ally. Over the last eight years, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was demonized by the Obama administration to the point that Democratic operatives interfered in a foreign election in hopes of defeating Netanyahu at the polls. Israel’s strategic worries were often written off as neuroses by the U.S. security apparat. Yet Israel still quietly rises to growing existential threats as if they were the same old, same old “death to Israel” boilerplate. While we fight over the cost, efficacy, symbolism, and ethics of building a wall along our southern border, Israel long ago shrugged and simply built a 440-mile barrier to fence out terrorists. It worked quite well and stopped most suicide bombing. When the U.N., the EU, and the International Court of Justice condemned Israel for doing what now much of Eastern Europe and the Gulf monarchies routinely do to protect their borders, Israel just shrugged.

 

When North Korea, as is its weekly habit, threatens to blow up Seoul with “ten-thousands guns,” South Korea and the United States all but declare that they are strategically emasculated by the specter of 250 square miles of Seoul instantly vaporized — as if that were a given. Yet when Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas brag that they can collectively send more than 200,000 rockets and missiles of various calibers and payloads into Israel cities (Israel’s entire population is a third of Seoul’s), Israel shrugged. It apparently remembers that in 2006 its enemies launched more than 4,000 rockets into Israeli cities, killed about 50 people, and hardly prevented Israel from retaliating as it saw fit.

 

If facing Armageddon, Israel is apparently determined to take out quite a large portion of the radical Middle East with it. When North Korea promises that a nuclear-tipped missile will land on the West Coast, we rightly go into near panic. When Iran promises that very shortly it will have the ability to do the same and wipe out the “one-bomb-state” of Israel, Israel shrugs. If facing Armageddon, it is apparently determined to take out quite a large portion of the radical Middle East with it — if anyone would be so foolish as to test whether Israel, as reputed, really has an arsenal of 100 to 200 nukes.

 

In any future war, the Sunni “moderates” may be a bit more eager to press Israel to hit the Iranian Shiite forces harder. And they may be a bit more restrained in their loud but empty Pan-Islamic denunciations of “Zionist aggressions” against non-Sunni Muslims whom they despise and fear more than they do Israel. For all its bluster, Iran might be a bit more careful, given that no one quite knows what Donald Trump will do, though they can see he likes Israel a lot more than Barack Obama did — and radical Islamists a lot less. Russia is now right in the way of a new version of the 2006 battleground, but Putin’s method seems to back likely winners if it does not too ostentatiously erode Russian credibility…

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

 

 

Contents

AS SAUDI ARABIA REELS, THE MIDDLE EAST WILL ONLY GET WORSE

Dr. James M. Dorsey

BESA, Nov. 10, 2017

 

As Saudi Arabia reels from Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s frontal assault on the kingdom’s elite, indications are that the Saudi-Iranian proxy war is heating up. The arrests occurred as Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in what many saw as a Saudi-engineered move aimed at stymying Lebanon’s powerful, pro-Iranian Hezbollah militias. Saudi defenses also intercepted a ballistic missile attack by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

 

A Saudi-backed military alliance that includes the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Egypt, and Sudan appeared to open the door for a more direct confrontation with Iran when it denounced the missile strike as “a blatant and direct military aggression by the Iranian regime, which may amount to an act of war against Saudi Arabia.” “Saudi Arabia also has a right to respond to Iran at the appropriate time and manner, supported by international law and in accordance with its inherent right to defend its territory, its people, and its interests protected by all international conventions,” the alliance said in a statement.

 

Aware that a military confrontation with Iran could prove disastrous, Saudi Arabia signaled that it is more likely to strike at Iranian proxies. In response to the missile attack, it imposed a temporary air, land, and sea embargo on Yemen, a country that is struggling with a humanitarian catastrophe as a result of the kingdom-led two-and-one-half-year military intervention. Some 10,000 people have been killed in the war, which, according to the UN, has left half a million Yemenis infected with cholera and some seven million on the brink of famine in the Arab world’s poorest nation.

 

Yemen is not, however, the only place that is likely to see escalation because of increasing Saudi-Iranian tensions. Lebanon, for example, is a collection of religious and ethnic minorities that has yet to cement an overriding national identity – but that has miraculously maintained stability despite the Syrian civil war on its doorstep and a massive influx of refugees. Following Hariri’s resignation, Lebanon is teetering. While there is only circumstantial evidence for Saudi Arabia’s role in persuading Hariri, who said he feared for his life amid rumors of a foiled assassination attempt, to resign, he was unequivocal in towing the Saudi line in his announcement.

 

Iran, Hariri said, “has a desire to destroy the Arab world and has boasted of its control of the decisions in all the Arab capitals. Hezbollah imposed a reality in Lebanon through force of arms, and their intervention causes us big problems with all our Arab allies.” The impression of Saudi influence was fueled by the fact that Hariri made his announcement not on his Future TV network but in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, on the kingdom’s Al Arabiya station. Ironically, the owner of Al Arabiya, Waleed bin Ibrahim al-Ibrahim, was among the businessmen detained on the instructions of Prince Muhammad. Beyond holding dual Lebanese-Saudi citizenship, Hariri long headed Saudi Oger, a conglomerate owned by his family. Saudi Oger went bankrupt earlier this year, becoming one of the first victims of the economic downturn in the kingdom as a result of decreased oil revenues.

 

While there is little doubt that Saudi Arabia is seeking to weaken Hezbollah’s strong position in Lebanon, it was not clear whether that was sole reason for Saudi enthusiasm about Hariri’s resignation. The former prime minister was widely seen as Lebanon’s most accommodating Sunni Muslim politician, willing to acknowledge that Hezbollah, believed by many to be responsible for the 2005 killing of his father, Rafik Hariri, was a part of the country’s political infrastructure. By throwing a monkey wrench into Lebanese politics, Hariri has opened the door to Saudi attempts to generate pressure on Hezbollah to choose between being a political party that is subject to government decisions, like not interfering in the Syrian war, or an Iranian proxy that engages in regional conflicts. The problem is that due to the weakness of the Lebanese state and military, past attempts to blunt Hezbollah’s fangs have failed…

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

                                                                       

 

Contents

THE U.S. MIDDLE EAST PEACE PLAN?

Bassam Tawil

Gatestone Institute, Nov. 13, 2017

 

Who said that Palestinians have no respect for Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arab countries? They do. Palestinians have respect for the money of their Arab brethren. The respect they lack is for the heads of the Arab states, and the regimes and royal families there. It is important to take this into consideration in light of the growing talk about Saudi Arabia's effort to help the Trump Administration market a comprehensive peace plan for the Middle East, the details of which remain intriguingly mysterious.

 

Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump's "ultimate solution" for the Israeli-Arab conflict, reportedly being promoted by Jared Kushner. According to unconfirmed reports, the Saudis pressured Abbas to endorse the Trump Administration's "peace plan." Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign. At this stage, it remains unclear how Abbas responded to the Saudi "ultimatum." Last week, the Saudis unexpectedly summoned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to Riyadh for talks on Trump's "ultimate solution" for the Israeli-Arab conflict. Abbas was reportedly told that he had no choice but to accept the plan or resign.

 

If true, the Saudi "ultimatum" to Abbas is tantamount to asking him to sign his death warrant. Abbas cannot afford to be seen by his people as being in collusion with an American "peace plan" that does not comply completely with their demands. Abbas has repeatedly made it clear that he will not accept anything less than a sovereign Palestinian state on all the pre-1967 lands, including east Jerusalem. He has also emphasized that the Palestinians will never give up the "right of return" for millions of "refugees" to their former homes inside Israel. Moreover, Abbas has clarified that the Palestinians will not accept the presence of any Israeli in their future Palestinian state.

 

Abbas has done his dirty work well. He knows that he cannot come back to his people with anything less than what he promised them. He knows that his people have been radicalized to the point that they will not agree to any concessions or compromise with Israel. And who is responsible for this radicalization? Abbas and other Palestinian leaders, who continue unendingly to tell their people through the media, discourse and mosques that any concession to Israel constitutes treason, pure and simple. So it would be naïve to think that Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country would be able to strong-arm any Palestinian leader to accept a "peace plan" that requires the Palestinians to make concessions to Israel. Abbas may have much respect for the ambitious and savvy young crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman. This respect, however, certainly stops at the border of the political suicide – and extreme personal risk — from Abbas's point of view.

 

Abbas is now caught between two choices, both disastrous: On the one hand, he needs the political backing of his Arab brothers. This is the most he can expect from the Arab countries, most of whom do not give the Palestinians a penny. It is worth noting that, by and large, the Arab countries discarded the Palestinians after the PLO and Yasser Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of several Gulf countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars a year. No more. Since then, the Palestinians have been almost entirely dependent on American and European financial aid. It is safe to assume, then, that the US and EU have more leverage with the Palestinians than most Arab countries.

 

Nevertheless, no American or European on the face of this Earth could force a Palestinian leader to sign a peace treaty with Israel that would be rejected by an overwhelming majority of his people. Trump's "ultimate solution" may result in some Arab countries signing peace treaties with Israel. These countries anyway have no real conflict with Israel. Why should there not be peace between Israel and Kuwait? Why should there not be peace between Israel and Oman? Do any of the Arab countries have a territorial dispute with Israel? The only "problem" the Arab countries have with Israel is the one concerning the Palestinians…

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

 

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

The Real Arab Spring: Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary, Nov. 6, 2017—Around this time of the year in 2010, a Tunisian fruit vendor’s self-immolation triggered a tsunami of uprisings that soon engulfed much of the Middle East and North Africa. The results were catastrophic.

Trump Team Begins Drafting Middle East Peace Plan: Peter Baker, New York Times, Nov. 11, 2017—President Trump and his advisers have begun developing their own concrete blueprint to end the decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, a plan intended to go beyond previous frameworks offered by the American government in pursuit of what the president calls “the ultimate deal.”

Why There Is No Peace in the Middle East: Philip Carl Salzman, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 14, 2017—Living as an anthropologist in a herding camp of the Yarahmadzai tribe of nomadic pastoralists in the deserts of Iranian Baluchistan clarified some of the inhibitions to peace in the Middle East. What one sees is strong, kin-based, group loyalty defense and solidarity, and the political opposition of lineages, whether large or small. This raised the question how unity and peace could arrive in a system based on opposition.

The Iran-Hamas-Hezbollah Connection: Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 8, 2017—The Lebanese Prime Minister, Saad Hariri, has had enough. Last week, Iran finalized its takeover of Lebanon when Hariri resigned, and reportedly fled to Saudi Arabia. Hariri, denouncing Hezbollah and its Iranian backers, said he feared for his life. Hariri has good reason to be afraid of Hezbollah, the powerful Shia terror group and Iranian proxy that effectively controls Lebanon.

Turks, Arabs Welcomed the Balfour Declaration: Efraim Karsh, Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2018—"100 years have passed since the notorious Balfour Declaration, by which Britain gave, without any right, authority or consent from anyone, the land of Palestine to another people. This paved the road for the Nakba of Palestinian people and their dispossession and displacement from their land."

 

 

TRUMP, FOREIGN POLICY: PEACE PROCESS “GOING NOWHERE”, RUSSIAN RELATIONS AT A LOW POINT, LITTLE PROGRESS FIGHTING ISLAMISM

Jared Kushner’s Mideast Peace Push Is Going Nowhere. That’s Why Israelis Love It.: Benny Avni, The Daily Beast, Aug. 28, 2017 — Jared Kushner's second visit to the Mideast is widely perceived as a Seinfeld-like show about nothing—and the Israelis love it.

Russia Feels American Pressure: Emil Avdaliani, BESA, August 16, 2017 — Recent tensions between Moscow and Washington could drive the two superpowers to a deadlock.

On Radical Islam, Trump Has Lost His Focus: Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 11, 2017 — Candidate Donald Trump vowed to take a fresh approach to Islamic extremism.

Trump’s Foreign Policy: The Conservatives’ Report Card: Bret Stephens, New York Times, July 21, 2017 — If you’re a liberal judging Donald Trump’s foreign-policy record at the six-month mark, it’s not hard to guess the grade you’d give him.

 

On Topic Links

 

Keep Telling the Horrific Truth About North Korea: Benny Avni, New York Post, Aug. 15, 2017

U.S. Policy in Lebanon Is Now Helping Hezbollah and Iran: Matthew R.J. Brodsky, Weekly Standard, Aug. 16, 2017

Name-Calling Critics Fail to Refute ZOA’s Concerns About McMaster: Morton A. Klein, Elizabeth Berney and Daniel Mandel, Algemeiner, Aug. 27, 2017

The West Betrays U.S. Heroes Who Prevented Another 9/11: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 14, 2017

 

 

 

JARED KUSHNER’S MIDEAST PEACE PUSH

IS GOING NOWHERE. THAT’S WHY ISRAELIS LOVE IT.

Benny Avni

The Daily Beast, Aug. 28, 2017

 

Jared Kushner's second visit to the Mideast is widely perceived as a Seinfeld-like show about nothing—and the Israelis love it. Seeking President Trump’s “ultimate deal”—peace between Israelis and Palestinians—Kushner arrived in Jerusalem and Ramallah this week, where few could point to any progress made in promoting a deal between the parties. White House officials say they're keeping mum on progress by design, but commentators in the Israeli and Palestinian press claim there is little substance behind the first son-in-law’s diplomacy.

 

And that's just fine by Israeli government officials, who quietly express hope that Kushner's latest trip, and perhaps future ones as well, will yield no earth-shaking results. “Past American administrations jumped into the peace process pool before checking if there’s any water in it; we jumped after them and cracked our heads,” Dani Dayan, Israel’s consul general in New York, told The Daily Beast. He commended Kushner’s go-slow approach, saying, “Perhaps he’ll realize there’s no water in this pool, and so there's no reason to jump in.”

 

Publicly, after meeting with Kushner, Jerusalem and Ramallah officials made statements that were remarkably similar, using words diplomats have long employed to obscure content. Privately, however, several Israeli officials say they expect no progress. Further, they're grateful the Trump administration, unlike previous ones, exerts no pressure on them to make major concessions. Political conditions are far from optimal for a meaningful peace process. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under unprecedented pressure, as investigations of various alleged wrongdoings mount against him. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, is unpopular and weak.

 

While Kushner and international negotiator Jason Greenblatt do their best not to discuss the substance of their talks—saying they would rather conduct quiet diplomacy—critics note that not too long ago Kushner told White House interns, in a conversation that was leaked to the press, that there may be “no solution” to the Israeli Palestinian problem. Dayan—a former leader of Yesha, the West Bank settler movement—said that rather than seeking a final deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian dispute once and for all, Kushner should seek smaller victories. Dayan cited a deal reached recently about water-sharing between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “You won’t get a Peace Nobel for things like that, but they may be more achievable" and helpful, he told The Daily Beast.

 

The Palestinians fear that kind of approach would muddy their goal: to be recognized as an independent state. In a recent State Department briefing, spokeswoman Heather Nauert declined to endorse the two state solution, a formula expressed by three prior administrations that calls for the creation of a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state next to the Jewish state of Israel. “We are not going to state what the outcome has to be,” Nauert said, adding, “It has to be workable to both sides.” Palestinians were outraged. Even as Kushner met for several hours with Abbas in Ramallah Thursday, demonstrators, said to be organized by Abbas’ own lieutenants, gathered outside the presidential headquarters, known as the Muqata, with some reportedly carrying anti-Trump signs, including one depicting the president as being led on a leash by daughter Ivanka, who is married to Kushner.

 

A White House official close to the negotiations noted however that Abbas has threatened—as he’s often done in the past—to resign and dissolve the Palestinian Authority if Kushner declined to push hard on the peace process. But then, the official said, "Abbas didn’t pull out,” which indicates that the talks are substantial after all. “This shows it’s not about nothing," the official added. The official asked to speak on background as part of Kushner’s and Greenblatt’s expressed desire to keep the content of the negotiations under wraps. This, the official said, may be the reason many feel no progress is being made, but it is a deliberate strategy.

 

Past administrations “put process ahead of results. It was about a road map, time lines, impositions of deadlines,” the official said, adding that past diplomacy “suffered from a constant effort to show some achievement,” which doomed it to failure as the parties pushed back against public statements in Washington. Critics however say that the current diplomatic ambiguity may lead to failure. “You have to say publicly where you want to go,” said Gilead Sher, a senior fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. Kushner, he says, is undermining progress by not stating what the American goal is. “When no one knows which way America is sailing, it’s impossible for all to steer their boats," he added…

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

                                                                       

 

 

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RUSSIA FEELS AMERICAN PRESSURE

Emil Avdaliani

BESA, August 16, 2017

 

Recent tensions between Moscow and Washington could drive the two superpowers to a deadlock. On July 30, Russia retaliated against the US by ordering 755 American diplomats to leave the country. Moscow’s move came after Washington toughened its own anti-Russia sanctions (although the Russian move was intended more as a countermeasure against former US President Barack Obama’s expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in late 2016).

 

Moscow cannot afford to impose serious countersanctions, as they would cause greater harm to the much-troubled Russian economy than they would to the US. Consider, for example, the case of NASA, which depends largely on Russian engines. Stopping their export could cause significant difficulties for the US aerospace industry, but for the Russian economy, it would represent a loss of approximately $1 billion in revenues in a couple of years.

 

The relationship, troubled as it is, has not necessarily hit rock bottom. On August 1, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, “the [US-Russia] relationship was at a historic low since the end of the Cold War, and it could get worse.” On August 3, Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev tweeted that any hope for improvement in relations was lost with Trump’s sanctions. There are reasons for Moscow to be worried. American politicians openly state how supportive the US will be towards eastern European countries and Georgia in the event that Russia increases its military capabilities in the region. This US resolve was highlighted recently when VP Mike Pence visited Estonia, Georgia, and Montenegro.

 

A steady US/NATO military and security buildup is underway in eastern Europe and the South Caucasus. Georgia, for example, hosted the biggest military exercises ever held on its soil, in which US forces took part along with other allies. Washington has also outlined its position that any progress with Moscow would depend entirely upon the latter’s ceasing its military and financial support for pro-Russia separatists in east Ukraine, Georgia’s breakaway territories of Abkhazia, and South Ossetia.

 

Rather than compromise, the Russians have in fact expanded their military bases in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and other breakaway territories across the former Soviet space. As an international relations realist, Putin knows the only hope of pressuring Washington is to gain an advantage in other theaters where Moscow has significant political leverage. However, despite strained relations, Moscow and Washington still share similar – if limited – perspectives in several areas. Syria is first among several potential points of cooperation. Russia and the US share a vision of defeating ISIS, and there was even a joint announcement of a ceasefire in southwestern Syria in early July. To both countries’ credit, the ceasefire still holds.

 

East of the Syrian battlefield, Afghanistan could be another theater for cooperation. Russia fears a spillover of militancy from both the Taliban and ISIS across the Afghan border into Central Asia, and would not oppose a US presence in Afghanistan as a bulwark against it. Yet another geographic area of possible Russian-American cooperation could be the Korean peninsula, where the situation is heating up. The Pyongyang leadership is rigorously pursuing its nuclear program and has made significant progress in successfully testing its ICBM. Both Moscow and Washington are concerned that North Korea’s military capabilities could deal a final blow to the policy of non-proliferation.

 

However, there are limits to these areas of converging interests. In Syria, for instance, Russia’s grand strategy of linking the Syrian crisis with the Ukrainian one in order to gain diplomatic advantage in negotiations with the west has failed. In Afghanistan, the US suspects Moscow of providing military support to the Taliban, while in North Korea, Washington does not openly rely on Russian support. Washington recently criticized both Moscow and Beijing for not doing enough to stop the North Korean nuclear program.

 

Russian-US relations have reached their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. There do exist several theaters in which the two superpowers can work together, but there are significant limits that will block any breakthroughs. There is thus little possibility for any rapprochement between the two powers across the former Soviet space. Different geopolitical readings on Ukraine, Georgia, and wider eastern European security make near-term progress in Russia-US relations improbable at best.                      

 

 

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ON RADICAL ISLAM, TRUMP HAS LOST HIS FOCUS                                                                              

Ayaan Hirsi Ali                                         

Wall Street Journal, Aug. 11, 2017

 

Candidate Donald Trump vowed to take a fresh approach to Islamic extremism. He ditched the politically correct language of the Obama administration by declaring that we were mired in an ideological conflict with radical Islam, which he likened to the totalitarian ideologies America had defeated in the 20th century. Mr. Trump also promised, as part of his immigration policy, to put in place an “extreme vetting” system that screens for Islamic radicalism. He vowed to work with genuine Muslim reformers and concluded with the promise that one of his first acts as president would be “to establish a commission on radical Islam.”

 

Mr. Trump has had more than six months to make good on these pledges. He hasn’t gotten very far. The administration’s first move—a hastily drafted executive order limiting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries—backfired when it was repeatedly blocked in court. Worse, subsequent moves have tended to run counter to Mr. Trump’s campaign pledges. Aside from a new questionnaire for visa applicants, there has been no clarity regarding the promised “extreme vetting” of Muslim immigrants and visitors. The promise to work with and empower authentic Muslim reformers has gone nowhere. The status of the promised commission on radical Islam remains unclear. Perhaps most discouragingly, the administration’s Middle Eastern strategy seems to involve cozying up to Saudi Arabia—for decades the principal source of funding for Islamic extremism around the world.

 

Some administration critics have blamed the loss of focus on Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, who became White House national security adviser in February. The most charitable formulation of this criticism is that military men who slogged their way through wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have an aversion to the argument that we face an ideological opponent, as opposed to a series of military problems. But I put the responsibility on Mr. Trump. With regard to radical Islam, he simply seems to have lost interest. Is all hope of a revamped policy on radical Islam lost? Not necessarily. Prominent members of Congress—among them Sens. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Reps. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.) and Trent Franks (R., Ariz.)—understand that Islamism must be confronted with ideas as well as arms.

 

And this need not be a partisan issue. In the early years after 9/11, Sens. Jon Kyl (R., Ariz.), Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) worked together to analyze the threat of Islamist ideology. Even President Obama’s former representative to Muslim communities, Farah Pandith, who visited 80 countries between 2009 and 2014, wrote in 2015: “In each place I visited, the Wahhabi influence was an insidious presence . . . Funding all this was Saudi money, which paid for things like the textbooks, mosques, TV stations and the training of Imams.” In 2016, addressing the Council on Foreign Relations, Sen. Chris Murphy (D., Conn.) sounded the alarm over Islamist indoctrination in Pakistan, noting that thousands of schools funded with Saudi money “teach a version of Islam that leads . . . into an . . . anti-Western militancy.” We have already seen one unexpected outbreak of bipartisanship in Washington this summer, over tightening sanctions on Russia in retaliation for President Vladimir Putin’s many aggressions.

 

I propose that the next item of cross-party business should be for Congress to convene hearings on the ideological threat of radical Islam. “Who wants America on offense, with a coherent and intelligible strategy?” Newt Gingrich asked in 2015, when he called for such hearings. Then as now, if the executive branch isn’t willing—if the president has forgotten his campaign commitments—lawmakers can and should step up to the plate.                                                                          

 

 

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TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY:

THE CONSERVATIVES’ REPORT CARD                                                                   

Bret Stephens

                      New York Times, July 21, 2017

 

If you’re a liberal judging Donald Trump’s foreign-policy record at the six-month mark, it’s not hard to guess the grade you’d give him. An F is too generous for your taste. An F-minus? How about a negative F? What if you’re conservative? Here your grade will depend on what kind of conservative you happen to be.

 

(1) You’re a Trumpkin. What’s not to like? Wasn’t it Machiavelli — or some other Italian with a similar-sounding name — who said, “it is much safer to be feared than loved”? Isn’t it about time that Bashar al-Assad fears us? Isn’t it about time we have an American president who couldn’t care less whether he’s loved in Paris or Brussels — capitals our soldiers once liberated only so that they could repay us with freeloading and condescension? And isn’t it about time we throw our weight around the world on our own behalf, and not for the sake of some make-believe “international community”? Grade: The easiest A since you took “rocks for jocks” in college.

 

(2) You’re not a Trumpkin, but you’re happy Hillary Clinton isn’t president. Well, what did you expect? We all knew he was a policy neophyte, with some bad ideas but reasonably decent instincts. And, on the whole, his instincts are serving us well. What, you have an objection to Jim Mattis at Defense, John Kelly at Homeland Security, Mike Pompeo at C.I.A. and H. R. McMaster as security adviser? The Clinton team would have consisted of Brookings Institution types trying to extend the Obama administration’s legacy of American retreat — of appeasing adversaries, alienating allies, and turning us into a country whose enemies didn’t fear us and whose friends didn’t trust us. It’s been only six months, and Trump still has a lot to learn. But he’s jettisoned some of his worst ideas — on NATO being obsolete, for instance — while taking a more muscular approach against the Islamic State, Iran and North Korea. Grade: B.

 

(3) You’re the sort of conservative who doesn’t believe we should grade college students on a curve, much less our commander in chief. Yes, Machiavelli did say it was better to be feared than loved. But the great Florentine also said, “a prince ought to inspire fear in such a way that, if he does not win love, he avoids hatred.” The United States has had unpopular presidents. But not one — not Richard Nixon in the Watergate crisis; not George W. Bush at the worst moments of the Iraq war — inspires the sort of hatred that Trump does.

 

Much of this is self-inflicted. Trump didn’t need to start his presidency by infuriating the president of Mexico on the eve of a planned visit to Washington, or by comparing the American intelligence community to Nazi Germany, or by throwing a tantrum with the prime minister of Australia. He didn’t need to demand that Seoul pay for missile defenses that would protect American troops in the event of war with North Korea, or toy with our NATO allies as he mulled whether to reaffirm our mutual-defense obligations.

 

Trump could have avoided all of this. He didn’t, either because his personality is defective or because he thinks humiliation is an appropriate tool of presidential power. Character is destiny, conservatives used to think. We are living this destiny.

 

Conservatives must also wonder what happened to the “conservative” foreign policy they were promised in the campaign. The administration certified this month that Iran was complying with the 2015 nuclear deal; according to the Institute for Science and International Security, it isn’t fully. We were supposed to support our allies in Syria fighting both the Islamic State and Assad; we ditched them. We were supposed to get serious about the threat from Russia. In Hamburg this month, Trump again showed how eager he was to oblige his man-crush in the Kremlin, this time at the expense of Israel.

 

But the deeper flaw of Trump’s foreign policy isn’t psychological. It’s philosophical. The Trump administration is the first to make an open break with the anti-isolationist postwar consensus of Harry Truman, Arthur Vandenberg and Dean Acheson. “The world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage,” McMaster and Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed. Mark this as the shift from internationalism to transactionalism; from a values-based foreign policy rooted in Alexis de Tocqueville’s notion of “self-interest, rightly understood” to an approach that might be called neo-Maguirism, after “Jerry Maguire.” To wit: “Show me the money!”

 

It’s not that the administration has done everything wrong, at least by conservative lights: It’s always possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason. But if serious conservatives believe in anything, it’s that we really are, as Lincoln said, “the last best hope of earth,” and that our foreign policy should be equal to that hope. That’s “hope,” Donald, not “joke.” Grade: O.M.G.

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Keep Telling the Horrific Truth About North Korea: Benny Avni, New York Post, Aug. 15, 2017—Equating President Trump’s tough North Korea talk with Kim Jong-un’s bluster, as the president’s critics have done over the past week, is dumb — not least because it’s clear Trump’s tack is working. The White House’s hard-edged messaging knocked Pyongyang’s dynastic tyrant out of his comfort zone.

U.S. Policy in Lebanon Is Now Helping Hezbollah and Iran: Matthew R.J. Brodsky, Weekly Standard, Aug. 16, 2017—The U.S. is deploying special forces on the ground in Lebanon to provide training for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) for missions that partner with Hezbollah—Iran’s most valuable terrorist ally—against ISIS.

Name-Calling Critics Fail to Refute ZOA’s Concerns About McMaster: Morton A. Klein, Elizabeth Berney and Daniel Mandel, Algemeiner, Aug. 27, 2017—The Zionist Organization of America’s August 2017 report detailed US National Security Chief General H.R. McMaster’s troubling record regarding Iran, Israel and radical Islamist terrorism.

The West Betrays U.S. Heroes Who Prevented Another 9/11: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 14, 2017—One of the most important chapters in the war on terror is being rewritten — with a moral inversion. Islamic terrorists who were arrested and deported have become "liberal causes célèbres", while agents of the CIA who questioned them are not only being condemned but also financially crushed by punishment and legal bills — for having tried, legally, to save American lives.