Tag: USA

U.S. SENATORS DENOUNCE UN-FAIR, UN-ACCEPTABLE ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS

 

All 100 US Senators to UN: End ‘Unacceptable’ Anti-Israel Bias: United States Senate, Apr. 27, 2017 — All 100 U.S. senators signed a letter released Friday asking U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to address what the lawmakers call entrenched bias against Israel at the world body.

The World’s Most UN-Fair Organization: Dan Calic, Algemeiner, Apr. 2, 2017 — Have you ever wondered why the United Nations is so anti-Israel?

The Unacceptable Behavior of the German Foreign Minister: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 26, 2017— German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel displayed unprecedented chutzpa and insensitivity during his official visit to Israel

World War II ‘Avenger’ Reveals his Heroic Nazi-Killing Past: Isabel Vincent, New York Post, Apr. 9, 2017 — On the day the Nazis ambushed his guerrilla camp in the dark forests outside Vilna, Benjamin Levin could feel the gunshots whizzing past.

 

On Topic Links

 

WATCH: Hillel Neuer Of UN Watch Rips Human Rights Abusers Condemning Israel: Israellycool, Mar. 22, 2017

Israel May Lose Europe in Jerusalem Sovereignty Battle at UNESCO: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 27, 2017

UNRWA Won’t Be Changing School Textbooks and Curriculum: Jewish Press, Apr. 18, 2017

Netanyahu’s Bold Move Against Europe: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 27, 2017

 

ALL 100 US SENATORS TO UN: END ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS                                                                    

Anne Gearan                                    

 

Washington Post, Apr. 27, 2017

 

All 100 U.S. senators signed a letter released Friday asking U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to address what the lawmakers call entrenched bias against Israel at the world body. The unanimous message notes that the United States is the largest contributor to the United Nations but does not threaten the withholding of U.S. dues. Still, it uses strong language to insist that the United Nations rectify what the senators said is unequal treatment of Israel on human rights and other grounds.

 

“Through words and actions, we urge you to ensure that Israel is treated neither better nor worse than any other U.N. member in good standing,” the letter said…“As both the U.N.’s principal founding member and its largest contributor, the United States should insist on reform,” the letter read. “We are deeply committed to international leadership and to advancing respect for human rights. But continued targeting of Israel by the U.N. Human Rights Council and other U.N. entities is unacceptable.”

 

The senators asked Guterres, who assumed leadership of the world body in January, to seek such institutional changes as the removal of a standing agenda item for the U.N. Human Rights Commission sessions that has been used as a forum to denounce Israel. The senators also want a change to the rules for membership on the human rights panel to broaden participation beyond what U.S. officials have said is often a narrow and self-interested group of countries.

 

The unusual unanimity expands on the fierce denunciation of U.N. treatment of Israel mounted by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, this year. The letter praises Haley for that effort, which she has said is intended to show that the United States will not “put up with” the bashing of its close ally. The United States has long been Israel’s chief defender at the United Nations, including regularly vetoing measures at the Security Council that were critical of Israel.

 

In December, the lame duck Obama administration chose to abstain on such a resolution, allowing it to pass. The measure addressed Jewish home building in the occupied West Bank, and the U.S. action was a sign of President Barack Obama’s deep frustration with what he saw as Israeli action that threatened an eventual peace deal. The Trump administration opposes the measure and has been highly critical of the previous administration’s action. It cannot be quickly reversed, however.

 

Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon thanked the senators Friday. “Once again, America has stood strongly by Israel, and stood up for truth and justice. It is time to finally put an end to the UN’s biased approach toward Israel,” Danon said through a spokesman.

 

The Senate letter reflects what the letter’s authors, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Christopher A. Coons (D-Del.), said are encouraging signs that Guterres may be willing to change some U.N. procedures that Israel and the United States say amount to discrimination. Guterres yanked and disavowed a U.N. report last month likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to apartheid. His spokesman said the report had been published without Guterres’s permission. “If you continue to build on your recent action, we stand ready to work with you to eliminate the organization’s anti-Israel bias, and to fight anti-Semitism in all its forms,” the senators wrote.

 

On Sunday, Guterres told a pro-Israel audience that he cannot police all anti-Israel bias at the United Nations, but he said Israel should not be singled out for special scrutiny. “A modern form of anti-Semitism is the denial of the right of the state of Israel to exist,” the news service JTA quoted Guterres as saying at a meeting of the World Jewish Congress. “As secretary general of the United Nations, I can say that the state of Israel needs to be treated as any other state, with exactly the same rules.” “We’re glad every single senator decided to sign onto this letter,” Rubio spokesman Matt Wolking said. “That doesn’t happen often.”

 

The letter comes ahead of the first meeting between President Trump and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who will visit the White House next week. “Since it is rare for all 100 senators to agree on an issue, this letter sends a powerful bipartisan message to the U.N. that its anti-Israel bias must end,” said Marshall Wittmann, spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

[Read the letter Senator’s letter here—Ed.]

 

 

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THE WORLD’S MOST UN-FAIR ORGANIZATION

Dan Calic                               

Algemeiner, Apr. 2, 2017

 

Have you ever wondered why the United Nations is so anti-Israel? Did you know that the UN Human Rights Council has passed more resolutions against Israel than all other countries combined? Take a look at the rest of the world.

 

The Syrian civil war has been raging since 2011, with close to 500,000 deaths. Hezbollah has built an arsenal of approximately 150,000 rockets in Southern Lebanon, which is a flagrant violation of UN resolution 1701. North Korea continues its rogue behavior, with provocative missile launches and grotesque human rights abuses. Iran launches missiles with “Israel must be wiped out” painted on them, and is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. And yet the UN is silent.

 

But the UN is not silent when it comes to Israel. Keep in mind that Israel is 8,000 square miles in size, roughly the size of New Jersey. Its population, including more than 1 million Arabs is just over 8,000,000. The Jewish population of Israel is approximately 6.5 million. Israel represents less than one tenth of one percent of the entire world.

 

So why does Israel and its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians garner so much attention from the UN? A closer look inside the make-up of the UN provides the answer. First, let’s examine the most anti-Israel body within the organization — the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Since 2006, the HRC has passed no less than 60 resolutions against Israel. That’s a sustained average of almost one every other month for the past 10 years. In 2016 alone, the HRC passed 20 resolutions. Incredibly 10 of those were passed on a single day. Meanwhile, in 2016, a total of 4 resolutions were passed against countries in the rest of the world. This seems almost absurd, until you look more closely at the HRC.

 

There are 47 member nations that comprise the HRC. Keep in mind that its focus is “human rights.” Yet look at some of its members — China, Cuba, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Qatar, Burundi, Bangladesh, UAE, etc. Shouldn’t members be beacons of protecting human rights? Yet these countries are some of the worst offenders. The actual structure of the HRC is quite telling. The council divides the nations of the world into five regions: Africa (13 members); Asia (13) Latin America/Caribbean (8); Western Europe (7); and Eastern Europe (6). The US is part of the Western Europe region.

 

Now here’s where the rubber meets the road. Every nation where Muslims make up 50% or more of the general population is in one of two regions: the African or Asian region. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that when those two regions vote as a block, their 26 votes comprise an automatic majority of the HRC’s 47 members. The US is home to the United Nations, and puts up roughly 22% of the UN’s yearly budget. Yet on the HRC, the US doesn’t even have its own region — it’s buried as a member of the Western Europe region, which has only 7 member nations. It can be easily out voted by the Muslim dominated African and Asian regions.

 

Once you understand how the HRC is structured, it’s clear why they ignore many other obvious problematic areas, and devote so much attention to Israel. Israel is in the heart of the Middle East, and has been a thorn in the side of the Arab Muslim world since the moment it was reborn in 1948. The existence of a sovereign Jewish state on land that most of the Muslim world considers holy represents a huge obstacle to their goal of “liberating” all of Israel and turning it into Palestine.

 

And the problem isn’t limited to the HRC. The UN Department of Political Affairs has an entire division devoted to Palestinian affairs. No other people, or nation, enjoy such a distinction. Plus, there are other anti-Israel UN agencies. UNESCO, for example, is in the business of revising history by passing resolutions reclassifying Jewish holy sites, such as the Cave of the Patriarchs and the Temple Mount, as Muslims holy sites. This is in outright contradiction to documented historical fact.

 

There’s also the UNRWA, which is the only UN refugee agency created exclusively for one group of people: the Arab Palestinians. It runs schools in the Gaza Strip and in Judea and Samaria that openly teach students to commit jihad against Israel and the Jews. Then there’s the UN Security Council, which recently passed a resolution naming Israeli “settlements” as the main obstacle to peace. The resolution completely ignored Arab Palestinian terrorism.

 

The United Nations as an organization is charged with upholding dignity and security for all the nations of the world, big and small. Yet, is it acting with equal vigilance in enforcing these noble principles when it comes to Israel? The answer is a resounding no! One could make a strong case that the UN has a separate anti-Israel agenda from its overall mission, effectively making it the largest anti-Israel organization in the world (unofficially, of course).

 

However, now that Donald Trump is president and Nikki Haley is the US ambassador who sits on the Security Council, we are about to see Israel getting the support at the UN that it rightfully deserves. For example, a UN committee — ESCWA (Economic Social Commission of Western Asia) — recently released a report accusing Israel of practicing “apartheid.” After vigorous protest from the Trump administration and others, it has since been pulled from their website.

 

Moreover, Trump has indicated that the US may consider taking punitive action against the UN and some of its internal agencies — in the form of reducing or eliminating financial support — due to it’s anti-Israel activities. There have even been discussions about the US withdrawing from the Human Rights Council. We are in the early stages of a long overdue new era. It’s about time someone “Trumpets” support for Israel.

 

           

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THE UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR OF THE GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER

Isi Leibler                                                                        

Jerusalem Post, Apr. 26, 2017

 

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel displayed unprecedented chutzpa and insensitivity during his official visit to Israel to participate in ceremonies on Holocaust Remembrance Day when he scheduled meetings with organizations who accuse us of engaging in war crimes.

 

Principal among these is Breaking the Silence, which virtually all sectors of the Israeli political mainstream, including the opposition, have condemned – not because they oppose or campaign against the government but because they are a primarily foreign-sponsored fringe entity engaged in a global campaign directed toward foreign governments to depict the IDF as war criminals.

 

It is not a “left wing” group. It consists of vicious self-hating Jews. It keeps its “sources” – primarily anonymous – confidential. It does not investigate or verify its findings with the IDF, which examines and prosecutes all irregularities brought to its attention, but instead sends emissaries abroad to undermine Israel’s image. There has even been public debate in recent months about the merits of introducing Knesset legislation to curb its global smear campaigns.

 

For the foreign minister of Germany to meet with such elements, especially during this sensitive visit, illustrates the depths to which some German leaders have sunk. Gabriel is a leader of the German Social Democratic Party in the coalition and no doubt feels that his anti-Israeli posturing may attract Left-inclined voters who despise the Jewish state. It is probably no coincidence that during an election campaign, Gabriel referred to Israel in a Facebook post as an “apartheid regime for which there is no justification.”

 

He was disingenuous when he refused to cancel the meeting, regarding it as “totally normal” on the grounds that “you never get the full picture of any state in the world if you just meet with figures in government ministries,” and considered it his obligation to also hear alternative viewpoints.

 

Nobody questioned the foreign minister’s right to talk to all sections of the public including those deeply opposed to the government, such as the far Left and Arab representatives. But one must draw the line between a foreign minister meeting those with opposing viewpoints and a fringe organization like Breaking the Silence, which has been almost universally condemned as a subversive group whose principal aim is not to criticize the government but to actively engage in global dissemination of false depictions of the IDF, the world’s most moral army, as an army committing deliberate war crimes.

 

Gabriel says, “Imagine if the Israeli prime minister… came to Germany and wanted to meet people critical of the government and we said that is not possible. That would be unthinkable.” Really? The proper analogy is not with “people critical of the government” but rather those seeking to undermine the essence of the country’s security. How would Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel have reacted if on a state visit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arranged for a meeting with representatives of a group extolling the virtues of the Baader-Meinhof terrorist gang or a foreign-sponsored fringe group despised by Germans of all political persuasion for engaging in campaigns to depict her police and military forces as war criminals? Gabriel’s analogy is even weaker when one takes account of the fact that Israel is under siege and its very existence is challenged by some of its neighbors while Germany faces no such threat.

 

Gabriel was utterly unfazed by Netanyahu threatening to cancel his meeting, stating that failure to meet the prime minister would not be a “catastrophe” and “would not change his ties with Israel.” It was especially sickening for a German government representative purporting to be participating in a Holocaust memorial event to behave in this manner. He stands and places a wreath at Yad Vashem and two days later effectively embraces a subversive group seeking to demonize the IDF, whose mission is to ensure our security and protect us from future holocausts and from the barbarians who seek our destruction.

Netanyahu is to be applauded for his response. It is disappointing that Isaac Herzog did not speak up and display a united front. He too has previously condemned Breaking the Silence as a subversive anti-Israel organization. That at least would have sent a message to the world that Gabriel’s meeting with this group was considered inappropriate by all sections of the mainstream in Israel.

 

By refusing to meet Gabriel, Netanyahu made a public statement. We don’t expect special treatment, but today, in the week we commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day, we are strong enough to tell you to stay away if you behave with such contempt, that would be considered unacceptable by any self-respecting state. Above all, we would expect more sensitive behavior from a German minister, especially one who regards himself as a potential future leader of his nation.                                          

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WORLD WAR II ‘AVENGER’ REVEALS                                                                

HIS HEROIC NAZI-KILLING PAST                                                                                

Isabel Vincent                                                                                                      

New York Post, Apr. 9, 2017

 

On the day the Nazis ambushed his guerrilla camp in the dark forests outside Vilna, Benjamin Levin could feel the gunshots whizzing past. One of his comrades fell, and Levin grabbed him by the leg and dragged him from behind, looking for an escape. Blood-splattered, heart pounding, the Jewish resistance fighter ran straight into “a hurricane of bullets” and kept running until he could no longer hear them. He doesn’t know how he made it out alive, but offers one explanation: At just 14 years old, he was so short, the bullets went right over his head.

 

For several months before that 1941 attack, Levin and about two dozen others had been hiding in the Lithuanian woods, training and preparing attacks against the Nazis. They slept in makeshift bunkers carved from tangled scrub, drank green pond water that left a sandy film on their throats, and lived on a diet of bitter mushrooms and berries. “To this day, I don’t know how we survived,” says Levin, who will celebrate his 90th birthday on Passover Monday at a Westchester nursing home.

 

He is the last survivor of a group of Jewish vigilantes who called themselves the Avengers and vowed to kill as many Nazis as there were Jews who were exterminated. Like his commander, Abba Kovner, who famously exhorted Jews not to go “like sheep to the slaughter,” Levin fought back. His incredible story of heroism and wartime survival was documented by the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation and is being told for the first time in The Post. “This story is important because it breaks the stereotype of Jewish passivity during the Holocaust,” said Mitch Braff, the founding director of the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation, which chronicles the wartime exploits of some 30,000 Jewish “partisans” who operated throughout the Third Reich. “They were responsible for thousands of acts of sabotage against the Nazis as they headed to the Eastern Front.”

 

Unlike the larger and more organized group of Jewish partisans founded by the Bielski clan in Poland, whose heroics were chronicled in the 2008 film “Defiance,” Levin’s group never comprised more than two dozen members. But they were a daring fighting force. During the war, Levin and his group destroyed 180 miles of railroad, blew up five bridges and destroyed 40 Nazi train cars. They took no prisoners, preferring to shoot enemies on the spot. They killed 212 enemy soldiers, according to the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation.

 

With his diminutive stature, Levin was recruited as a scout and saboteur for the small group, consisting of Jewish intellectuals and revolutionaries who had set up a clandestine base of operations in the Lithuanian forests in anticipation of the Nazi takeover of the country in July 1941. His older brother Shmuel, a fervent Zionist who was 18 when he joined the group, was one of its founders. Eventually, as hostilities escalated, his sister Bluma would also join.

 

Wiry and street smart, Levin could pass undetected among Lithuanian and Nazi soldiers to courier messages to different factions of the resistance, some of them working out of the Jewish ghetto in Vilna. Desperate Jews entrusted him with their valuables, which he exchanged on the black market for food and medicine. He also helped to blow up bridges, telephone poles and railroad tracks to slow the trains heading to death camps. The youngest member of the group, he learned to use his pistol from a fellow Avenger. Rozka Korczak was one of the few women leaders of the Jewish partisans, and its fiercest warrior. “At first, I saw this as a game,” said Levin in an interview with Shoah Foundation researchers. “I was reading a lot of books about conspiracy and the Russian underground. For me, it started out as a great adventure.”

 

And, while he says he can no longer remember how many Nazis he personally wounded or killed, Levin’s acts of sabotage were so numerous that more than 70 years after the end of World War II, Lithuania still has an outstanding warrant for his arrest. By his own account, Benjamin Levin grew up with “a wild streak.” He was smoking cigarettes by the time he was 8 and hanging out with a gang of young hoodlums on the streets, which caused no end of grief for his mother and father — prosperous Jewish merchants who operated a gourmet food store in the center of Vilna. Before the Nazi occupation, the city was an important hub of Jewish life, and home to more than 100 synagogues…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

WATCH: Hillel Neuer Of UN Watch Rips Human Rights Abusers Condemning Israel: Israellycool, Mar. 22, 2017

Israel May Lose Europe in Jerusalem Sovereignty Battle at UNESCO: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 27, 2017—Israel fears Europe might abstain or support a resolution that would reject Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, which UNESCO’s executive board in Paris is likely to vote on at its meeting on Tuesday, diplomatic sources told The Jerusalem Post. Representatives from European nations and Arab states held consultations in Paris on Thursday to agree on a common text for Tuesday’s meeting.

UNRWA Won’t Be Changing School Textbooks and Curriculum: Jewish Press, Apr. 18, 2017—Following all the exposure of incitement and anti-Semitism in the UNRWA schools, there was pressure on UNWRA to clean up the books and the curriculum they’re teaching from all the anti-Semitism. Khaled Abu Toameh reports that it won’t be happening, “UNRWA says it has no intention to change textbooks and will continue to teach according to Palestinian Authority curriculum.”

Netanyahu’s Bold Move Against Europe: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Apr. 27, 2017—On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu adopted a new strategy for managing Israel’s diplomatic relations with the West. Long in the making and increasingly urgent, Israel’s new strategy is very simple. Foreign governments can either treat Israel in accordance with international diplomatic norms of behavior, or they can continue to discriminate against Israel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CIJR HONOURS THE UNIQUE, VITAL CONTRIBUTIONS OF JUDAISM, ISRAEL, & THE JEWISH PEOPLE TO HUMANTY

The 400-Year-Old Foundation of the Unique US-Israel Ties: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2017— 1. According to Prof. Robert Bellah, a leading sociologist from UC Berkeley, there is “civil religion” in the US: separation between religion and state, but not between religion and society. 

When Gatekeepers of Justice Leverage the Law to Abet Injustice: Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein, Huffington Post, Mar. 11, 2017— In keeping with democratic Germany’s commitment to combat anti-Semitism, a court in Essen ruled last year that chanting “death and hate to Zionists” at a demonstration was an illegal anti-Semitic activity.

Zion’s Mother Tongue: Visions of a Promised Land: Benjamin Balint, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 17, 2017— The other day, I took some American visitors to the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem to see the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Montreal Poet Seymour Mayne Remembers his Friend Leonard Cohen: Seymour Mayne, Jewish Quarterly, 13 Feb. 2017— Leonard was holding court at the front table unit of the café on upper Stanley Street one Sunday in 1960…

               

On Topic Links

 

For U.K.’s Holocaust Memorial, a Canadian Architect Envisions Light in a Personal Darkness: Paul Waldie, Globe & Mail, Mar. 10, 2017

Converted Masters; World Famous Masterpieces With a Jewish Twist: Lori Samlin Miller, Jewish Press, Mar. 20, 2017

Archaeological Discoveries in the Holy Land Could Provide Clues on how Jesus Lived: Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, Mar. 20, 2017

Natan Alterman or Amos Oz? The Six-Day War and Israeli Literature: Liam Hoare, Fathom, Spring, 2017

 

     

 

THE 400-YEAR-OLD FOUNDATION OF THE UNIQUE US-ISRAEL TIES

                                                            Yoram Ettinger

                                                     Jewish Press, Jan. 25, 2017

 

1. According to Prof. Robert Bellah, a leading sociologist from UC Berkeley, there is “civil religion” in the US: separation between religion and state, but not between religion and society.  Civil liberties are Bible-driven, reflecting more responsibility than rights. 2. For instance, on December 24, 1968, the Apollo 8 astronauts chose to recite Genesis 1:1-10, the Creation, in their a special broadcast to earth upon entering the lunar orbit. 3. President Lincoln referred to Exodus, Chapter 20, the Ten Commandments, as the summation of his theology. 4.  President Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount….”

 

5. On June 27, 2005, the US Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the 6-foot-high Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the Texas State Capitol. According to Chief Justice Rehnquist: “Acknowledgements of the role played by the Ten Commandments in our nation’s heritage are common throughout America…. Since 1935, Moses has stood, holding two tablets that reveal portions of the Ten Commandments written in Hebrew, among other lawgivers in the south frieze [of the US Supreme Court….] Representations of the Ten Commandments adorn the metal gates lining the north and south sides of the Courtroom as well as the doors leading into the Courtroom.  Moses also sits on the exterior east façade of the [US Supreme Court] holding the tablets of the Ten Commandments…. Since 1897, a large statue of Moses holding the Ten Commandments, alongside a statue of the Apostle Paul, has overlooked the rotunda of the Library of Congress’ Jefferson Building.  A medallion with two tablets depicting the Ten Commandments decorates the floor of the National Archives.  Inside the Justice Department, a statue entitled ‘The Spirit of Law’ has two tablets representing the Ten Commandments lying at its feet.  In front of the Ronald Reagan Building stands another sculpture that includes a depiction of the Ten Commandments. So too a 24-foot-tall sculpture, outside the Federal Courthouse, depicting, among other things, the Ten Commandments and a cross. Moses is also prominently featured in the Chamber of the United States House of Representatives…. Moses was a lawgiver as well as a religious leader, and the Ten Commandments have undeniable historical meaning….”

 

6. A February 25-27, 2005 Gallup Poll shows that 76% of Americans were in favor of displaying the Ten Commandments monument on the ground of the Texas State Capitol.

 

7. On March 29, 2006, the California State Senate approved bill SCR 108 stating: “This measure would recognize and acknowledge that the Decalogue, also known as the Ten Commandments, ranks among the influential historical documents that have contributed significantly to the development of the secular governmental and legal principles and institutions of the USA and the State of California…. The integral secular role played by the Decalogue in the legal history of Western civilization, from the time of England’s King Alfred the Great, through the era of William Blackstone and the American Framers…. In the history of American institutions, no other book – except the Bible – has played so great a role…. The American Revolution preserved the Biblical seven-day week, dictated by the Ten Commandments, with the seventh day – a day of rest…. Members of the US Supreme Court have noted the foundational role played by the Ten Commandments in the development of our legal system….

 

8. Eight sculptures of Moses are featured in the US Supreme Court and a bust of Moses faces the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Moses and/or the Ten Commandments also feature in the US Federal Courthouses in Cleveland, OH and Indianapolis, IN; the Supreme Courts in Harrisburg, PA, St. Paul, MN, Lansing, MI and Knoxville, TN; the County Courthouses in Cleveland, OH, West Chester, PA, Pittsburgh, PA, Ft. Wayne, IN and Jackson, MS; the Appellate Court in Brooklyn, NY; the Boston Public Library and the State Capitol in Lincoln, NE; etc.

 

9. On April 8, 2015, Arkansas Governor, Asa Hutchinson, signed into law a bill instructing the state to erect a privately-funded Ten Commandments monument on the grounds of the State Capitol in Little Rock. The Arkansas State House and the Senate approved the bill 72:7 and 27:3 respectively.

 

10. The Ten Commandments have been an integral part of the legal, cultural, religious and political fabric of the American people and their representatives on Capitol Hill, highlighting the 400-year-old Judeo-Christian foundation of the US-Israel covenant. This foundation has transcended transient politics and geo-strategic considerations, catapulting US-Israel cooperation to unprecedented levels.

 

 

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WHEN GATEKEEPERS OF JUSTICE LEVERAGE

THE LAW TO ABET INJUSTICE                                     

Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein

Huffington Post, Mar. 11, 2017

 

In keeping with democratic Germany’s commitment to combat anti-Semitism, a court in Essen ruled last year that chanting “death and hate to Zionists” at a demonstration was an illegal anti-Semitic activity. Unfortunately, however, there are other German judges today who subvert that commitment by ignoring common sense, morality, and history.

 

We refer to a decision by the Wuppertal court, recently upheld by a regional court, found that the three Muslims who set fire to a synagogue did so as an act of political protest against Israel’s actions in the Gaza War, and therefore could not be convicted of anti-Semitism. As Prof. Alan Dershowitz put it, “The idea that attacking a synagogue can be justified as an anti-Israel political protest rather than anti-Jewish hate act, is as absurd as saying that Kristallnacht was merely a protest against poor service by Jewish store owners.” Or, we might add, torching a mosque could be considered a protest against ISIS. Or desecrating the Cologne Cathedral might be dismissed as a consequence of long-simmering discontent over the medieval Crusades.

 

Common sense and Jews are not the only victims of this court. It has twice dismissed charges against a group of local Salafists who enjoyed patrolling the streets with jackets announcing themselves as Sharia Police, and warning locals not to defy Islamic practice though music and alcohol. The court found their actions not “suggestively militant,” and lacking “intimidating effect.” One of the accused was on trial for supporting a terrorist organization. Had they beheaded someone, that court undoubtedly would have ruled that they were merely testing their shaving apparatus.

 

At a pivotal moment in German and world history, German jurists—far from using the law to protect the persecuted, first turned a blind eye to the way laws that destroyed millions of lives were made, then eagerly confirm Nazism’s absolute evil as binding law. From the outset of the Third Reich in 1933, German judges formulated and presided over the Rassenschutzgesetz, which allowed Jews, Roma, Poles, Russians and other untermenschen to be legally recognized as less than human. The judiciary perverted the old Rechtsstaat, meant to protect the citizen against the power of the State, and turned it into the legal basis for the eventual murder of millions. It became a willing vassal of an empire of death and destruction, quickly dispatching Stauffenberg, Bonhoeffer and any other German who resisted to quick and painful execution – all under the banner of the law.

 

In the aftermath of WW II, the very same judges maintained their moral perch above postwar society. While many sectors of public life worked to prevent the stain of Nazi thought from blackening the German future (including purging Party members from teaching social studies in German schools), the legal sector often protected Nazi criminals from prosecution again and again. The numbers confirm this. A full 77 percent of senior Justice Ministry officials in the late 50’s were former Nazi Party members, exceeding the percentage during the War itself. In fact, according to the recent Rosenburg Project, between 1949 and the early 1970s, 90 of the 170 top ministry officials were former Nazi Party members. Absent were judges who had belonged to the Resistance, or who had spent the War in exile.

 

Many friends of Germany are worried that some gatekeepers of German law may once again be using the law to open the gates of hell. The target today is once again the Jews. Providing a moral and legal free pass to attack a synagogue is quintessentially anti-Semitic, and seen as such by the rest of the world. Meanwhile, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the National Democratic Party, despite embracing positions opposed by Germany’s Constitution, could not be banned because it was not a threat to democracy. The rest of the world – and many Germans – looks on in horrified disbelief, remembering that this was exactly what they said about the Nazi Party and Hitler in 1933…

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

                                                                       

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ZION’S MOTHER TONGUE: VISIONS OF A PROMISED LAND

                                     Benjamin Balint

                                    Wall Street Journal, Mar. 17, 2017

 

The other day, I took some American visitors to the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem to see the Dead Sea Scrolls. My guests were struck not so much by the parchments themselves as by the sight of a group of Israeli fourth-graders, their noses pressed to the display cases, reading aloud from texts that were two millennia old.

 

In “The Story of Hebrew,” Lewis Glinert, a professor at Dartmouth College, aims to track the fate of the Hebrew language “from the Israelites to the ancient Rabbis and across two thousand years of nurture, abandonment, and renewal.” The most ambitious attempt since William Chomsky’s groundbreaking 1957 study, “Hebrew: The Eternal Language,” Mr. Glinert’s biography of Hebrew succeeds in representing the language not just as a vehicle of communication but as a crucible of national cohesion.

 

Mr. Glinert’s narrative, related with impressive sweep, begins with the classical Hebrew of biblical literature. The Bible’s sublime idiom is marked by stylistic suppleness and breadth, he says, that could encompass “narrative, prophecy, law, proverbs, philosophy, elegy, romance” and much else. The era of biblical Hebrew reaches as far back as the second millennium before the Christian era, and Mr. Glinert suggests that the spoken language survived the Jews’ exile to Babylon, their return and their struggles under Roman rule.

 

Spoken Hebrew seems to have died with little fanfare around A.D. 200, more than a century after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. But throughout the diaspora, Jews used written Hebrew to scaffold elaborate edifices of religious and legal interpretation. Though stateless, Hebrew would flourish as a written medium of cultural continuity. If the Jews safeguarded Hebrew, it was said, the holy tongue safeguarded “the people of the Book.”

 

The first of these edifices, the Mishnah, was compiled in the second and third centuries. This record of religious teachings and laws “created a rich lexical heritage that could be passed on to future generations,” Mr. Glinert writes, “and that Hebrew poetry and prose would draw upon long after Hebrew had ceased to be a spoken language.” The Babylonian Talmud—another great edifice of interpretation, setting out the authoritative commentary on rabbinic law—expanded Hebrew’s expressive possibilities by inflecting Hebrew with Aramaic, the lingua franca of the ancient Near East.

 

In the ensuing centuries those who standardized Hebrew’s grammatical architecture and honed its philological precision saw the language not just as a precious possession in itself but also as a fulcrum of Jewish life. “It must constantly be on our lips,” the Egyptian-born linguist and sage Saadiah Gaon wrote in the year 902, “for it affords us an understanding of the Divine Law.” While Hebrew commingled with Arabic in Islamic Spain, it preserved a separate reservoir of expression in the realms of law and liturgy. During the golden age of Hebrew literature, roughly the 10th to the 13th centuries, Andalusian poets like Judah Halevi and Solomon ibn Gabirol wielded a Hebrew of astonishing allusive density in order to blur the lines between sacred and sensual.

 

In a pair of chapters on the neglected story of how Hebrew figured in the Christian imagination, Mr. Glinert tells how Christians learned Hebrew both to access “hebraica veritas,” or Hebrew truth, and to monitor the Jews in their midst “with the goal of mastering the mischief and the falsehoods of the Jews,” as a 14th-century writer put it. Martin Luther’s call for “sola scriptura,” or “only the Scriptures,” led Protestants back to the original texts of the Hebrew Bible. In the 15th to 17th centuries, Christian Hebraists—including Johannes Reuchlin in Germany, Guillaume Postel in France, and John Selden in Britain—put Hebrew at the center of Western humanism.

 

In the 18th century, leaders of the Jewish Enlightenment sought, through Hebrew, to emancipate Jews from the confines of the ghetto; by making Hebrew an aesthetic equal to European languages, they hoped to open the doors to modernity. Their efforts, while incomplete, prepared the ground for a small group of secular Eastern European writers in the following century to dig channels through which Hebrew’s hidden vitality could course once more. These cultural Zionists brought about a rebirth of Hebrew, an achievement, Mr. Glinert writes, “without precedent in linguistic and sociopolitical history.”

 

In its early stages, this revival didn’t seem to have much prospect for success. For the pious, Mr. Glinert says, “using the holy tongue for everyday speech smacked of desecration.” For pragmatists, resurrecting a bookish tongue that lacked words for tomato, theater, microscope or fun seemed either ridiculous or inconceivable. Even the father of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, envisioned a Jewish state of German speakers…

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

 

                                                                           

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MONTREAL POET SEYMOUR MAYNE REMEMBERS

HIS FRIEND LEONARD COHEN

Seymour Mayne

Jewish Quarterly, 13 Feb. 2017

 

Leonard was holding court at the front table unit of the café on upper Stanley Street one Sunday in 1960, when our mutual friend, the poet Henry Moscovitch, ushered me forward to meet him. He was twenty-six that spring, the lion of the McGill University arts crowd, and I was a high school student aged sixteen. I had just entered the Canadian literary world, small as it was then, having published several poems in The Canadian Forum. The first sight of the debonair figure, with two beautiful young women who flanked him on his left and right side, remains framed in my memory. He must have said something encouraging to me. And that is how our long friendship began. As he grew older, the strength of affection and respect he inspired in his old Montreal friends increased in depth and intensity. When he left us this November, he was still that gracious Davidic figure.

 

How Jewish was Leonard Cohen? He had no way not to be, born into the unique Montreal Jewish community, sandwiched as it was between the French-speaking working-class quartiers to the east and the English-speaking middle-class suburbs to the west. While Yiddish was the first language of many Jewish immigrants in the working-class neighbourhoods of Montreal, it did not have the same currency among the wealthier members of the community. Leonard’s home was not suffused with the expressive language. At school he studied mainly in English, with French added as a second language. In synagogue he heard biblical and liturgical Hebrew, which echoed and strongly resonated for him right up to his last album, You Want It Darker. In his middle years, he ranged out from Biblical texts to studying the Kabbalah, which fascinated him to his last days.

 

In a province defined by linguistic and religious affiliations, our Jewish community was an almost autonomous city-state of its own, with health facilities, its own hospital, and school system. Every writer and artist who emerged from Montreal in those first decades of the last century was shaped by these communal influences, and Leonard was no exception, even though he was raised in the upper-class neighbourhood of Westmount. Leonard never forgot nor could he forget that he was Jewish. He carried it as a mark of honour all his life while he alluded to and punned on his priestly name, Cohen, in poem, song and fiction. Called to the Torah by his Hebrew name, Eliezer, he nevertheless published exclusively under his English name, like almost every Jewish boy in Montreal who bore two names, double identities. Although he passed through a Buddhist initiation on Mount Baldy, in his last years his Jewish heritage took more and more of his observance, to the point that he was returned at the end to be buried, not in Los Angeles, but in one of the Jewish cemeteries of Montreal, alongside generations of his noted family…

 

At this juncture, A.M. Klein (1909–1972)—a member of this Montreal group and, later, by general consensus, one of Canada’s major poets—proudly affirmed a strong Jewish voice. Klein unashamedly celebrated his roots and tradition while exploring the bilingual Canadian milieu. Such was the older poet’s abiding influence on the younger poet over the years, that Leonard dedicated a number of poems to him, including the resonant “To a Teacher”, which later became a song in the album, Dear Heather. The Montreal dynasty of Jewish poets continued from Klein to Irving Layton (1912–2006), with whom Leonard maintained a close and special relationship for decades. The Jewish lineage in Canadian poetry, then, begins with Klein, continues with Layton from the 1950s on, and finds new force in Leonard’s poetry and lyrics.

 

While I am beholden to Leonard for the inspirations of his writing and friendship, he remains indebted with an unfulfilled promise, made over a half-century ago in the apartment of his friend, Robert Hirschhorn. We made a bet one day in 1963, as a group of Leonard’s friends sat in a circle in Robert’s living room and Leonard strummed his guitar, offering us song after song. Impetuously, as the youngest enthusiast in that room, I predicted that he would easily make a million with his then-unrecorded songs. Leonard quickly responded that he would present me with $10,000 for my little magazine, if that indeed materialized.

 

Over the years and on various occasions, I would remind him, with a smile, of his pledge, and he would aver, with an even more winsome smile, that he still hadn’t reached that magic million-dollar figure. Over time, of course, I let the matter slip. And then came Leonard’s difficult years, when he discovered that his manager had availed herself of his pension fund, which meant that he had to go out on the road again, a wandering minstrel even in his seventies.

 

Given his recent successes, this past summer, for fun, I was thinking of writing him one more friendly reminder. But his emails began to reveal a darker edge. He was “out of the loop for a while”—in his own words, “dealing with some disagreeable visitations from the Sitra Achra”, those fearful Kabbalistic presences from the dark and shadowed side of existence. Who under such circumstances could have the heart to raise the issue of an amusing wager made decades earlier? Along with his innumerable fans and followers, I would have to remain satisfied with the ample offerings of his prolific works. You got away, Eliezer, and the $10,000 was never paid out. But you left us a legacy which, contrary to your expectations in the rebellious years, I along with all your friends and devotees recognize as rich and bountiful. Your songs and name call up an abundance of blessings. Wager met and copiously acquitted. We’ll miss you, chaver.

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents                                                              

On Topic Links

 

For U.K.’s Holocaust Memorial, a Canadian Architect Envisions Light in a Personal Darkness: Paul Waldie, Globe & Mail, Mar. 10, 2017—Jack Diamond has long been considered one of Canada’s best architects and he’s designed award-winning landmarks around the world. But few projects have touched him as deeply as the one he’s working on now: Britain’s National Holocaust Memorial.

Converted Masters; World Famous Masterpieces With a Jewish Twist: Lori Samlin Miller, Jewish Press, Mar. 20, 2017—Why would an observant woman with a talent for drawing and painting publish a book with images of her canvas creations of reworked masterpieces? What, in addition to her obvious artistic abilities, is she expressing?

Archaeological Discoveries in the Holy Land Could Provide Clues on how Jesus Lived: Ruth Eglash, Washington Post, Mar. 20, 2017—When a revamped highway into Jerusalem fully opens in coming months, it will be just the latest makeover of a road that has served Holy Land travelers for centuries.

Natan Alterman or Amos Oz? The Six-Day War and Israeli Literature: Liam Hoare, Fathom, Spring, 2017—In the immediate aftermath of the Six-Day War, poetry and song captured the moment in Israeli history when the people, as Natan Alterman, said were ‘drunk with joy’. Naomi Shemer’s addendum to ‘Jerusalem of Gold,’ a song penned, as the legend has it, while Israeli troops celebrated at the Western Wall, groans with the sound of ram’s horns echoing round the Old City. ‘We have returned to the water cisterns, to the market and to the square,’ Shemer sang. ‘We shall return and go down to the Dead Sea by the Jericho Road.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YEMEN & AFGHANISTAN’S ONGOING CONFLICTS TEST U.S. FOREIGN POLICY

Selling Trump a New Afghanistan Commitment: Josh Rogin, Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2017— The Trump administration is considering whether to plunge more resources and troops into the United States’ longest war — Afghanistan — as some of the president’s top generals are calling for.

Will President Trump End the 'Total Disaster' War in Afghanistan?: Javid Ahmad, National Interest, February 27, 2017— The Afghan war, now in its sixteenth year, has arguably become one of the world's most consequential conflicts.

Yemen Has Become Iran’s Testing Ground for New Weapons: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, BESA, March 2, 2017— The ongoing crisis in Yemen, whose end is not in sight, is giving Iran an opportunity to turn Yemen into a testing ground for various weapons it is developing for the maritime and military arenas.

The Dangerous Implications of Democrats’ Obsession with Trump’s Yemen Raid: David French, National Review, Mar. 2, 2017— On Saturday, December 6, 2014, there was an American commando raid in Yemen.

               

On Topic Links

 

Dozens Killed in ISIS Attack on Kabul Military Hospital: Ehsanullah Amiri & Margherita Stancati, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 8, 2017

Why Russia is Returning to Afghanistan: Jeffrey Mankoff, World Politics Review, Feb. 28, 2017

Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government: Carlotta Gall, New York Times, Dec. 6, 2016

How America Lost Afghanistan: Bonnie Kristian, The Week, Mar. 7, 2017

SELLING TRUMP A NEW AFGHANISTAN COMMITMENT                                                         

Josh Rogin

Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2017

 

The Trump administration is considering whether to plunge more resources and troops into the United States’ longest war — Afghanistan — as some of the president’s top generals are calling for. The issue pits President Trump’s commitment to end nation-building against his promise to stamp out terrorism in a conflict where a clear U.S. strategy is sorely lacking.

 

After more than 15 years of U.S. fighting, the war is at a crossroads. The Afghan national security forces are on their heels. The government is asking the United States and its NATO partners to help it go on offense against the Taliban, which has been taking territory with the help of Pakistan, Iran and Russia. The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John W. Nicholson, has publicly testified that he wants “a few thousand” more troops there. He also says there is a need for a more “holistic review” of the mission.

 

As Defense Secretary Jim Mattis prepares a formal recommendation to the White House, debate has renewed in Washington on whether the United States is throwing good money after bad in Afghanistan. But as far as the Afghan government is concerned, there’s really no safe alternative. “The Taliban, while they may not be directly planning direct attacks on U.S. territory, they provide the environment for all kinds of terrorist groups to operate,” Hamdullah Mohib, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Washington, told me. “If we allow any terrorist group to succeed, it doesn’t matter what terrorist group, it emboldens all of them.”

 

There’s an immediate need for equipment and personnel, he said, before the start of the summer fighting season, which is sure to be bloody. If thousands more U.S. troops arrive, they would serve in an advise-and-training role, not direct combat. But the idea is to embed them in Afghan units, placing them closer to the fighting. The Afghan government is also asking for helicopters, special forces gear and intelligence assistance to fill urgent shortfalls. For example, the Afghan military’s fleet of Russian helicopters is mostly grounded, in part because of a lack of spare parts as a result of U.S. sanctions against Russia.

 

Mohib is optimistic that Trump’s team is open to the idea of committing more resources to Afghanistan. “The hesitation that existed in the previous administration is gone,” Mohib said. “The hesitation was that the U.S. didn’t have a good partner to work with in the Afghan government.”

 

Republican leaders in Congress are cautiously supportive of an Afghanistan troop increase they would be responsible to fund. But they want to make sure the Trump administration doesn’t repeat what they see as President Barack Obama’s mistakes, including setting timelines for withdrawal and failing to bring the American people along. “Arbitrary political limits make it harder to accomplish the mission,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) told me. “It is equally important that the president make the public case for our continued presence in Afghanistan. . . . President Obama never made that case, and our mission suffered for it.”

 

Trump barely mentioned Afghanistan during the campaign, other than to say it was “not going well” or to compare it favorably to Chicago. The lack of campaign rhetoric gives Trump something of a free hand to choose any policy he wants. The generals supporting the plan could strengthen their case by getting NATO allies to make human and financial commitments up front. That would address Trump’s criticism that NATO doesn’t do counterterrorism and doesn’t pay its fair share. The generals might also argue that Afghanistan is a natural long-term partner for the regional fight against terrorism, which is not going away soon.

 

Experts mostly agree, though, that surging resources to bolster the Afghan security forces is a stopgap measure at best. Without a comprehensive strategy that deals with Pakistan’s insistence on providing support and sanctuary for the Taliban, no gains are sustainable. A new strategy also must include a plausible path to return to negotiations to end the conflict. For now, the Taliban doesn’t feel enough pressure to compromise. “An open-ended commitment with no strategy poses a very high risk of very expensive failure,” said Christopher Kolenda, a former senior adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Pentagon.

 

Mattis, Nicholson, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. and new national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster all have deep experience in Afghanistan and understand that the military aspect of the plan is necessary but not sufficient. Selling a new U.S. commitment to Trump and then to the American people will not be easy. But if the administration is able to tune out the politics, share the burden and follow a clear strategy, the benefits of the deal will outweigh the costs.                            

                                                                       

Contents

 

WILL PRESIDENT TRUMP END THE 'TOTAL DISASTER'

WAR IN AFGHANISTAN?

Javid Ahmad

National Interest, February 27, 2017

 

The Afghan war, now in its sixteenth year, has arguably become one of the world's most consequential conflicts. The steady stream of news from Afghanistan is as relentless as it is depressing. More important, the eerie silence in Washington, DC to discuss the future course of Afghan conflict—and America’s role in it—is deafening. President Donald Trump, now the third U.S. president to lead the Afghan mission, has called the war a “total disaster,” which the United States should abandon altogether. Trump, who has claimed to have a foolproof plan to defeat the Islamic State, has not yet discussed his strategy for fighting America’s longest war. The silence, however, does not qualify as an improvement from the policy of the Obama administration, whose excessive caution while dealing with Afghanistan and arbitrary deadlines for withdrawal of U.S. troops made the Afghan campaign more challenging.

 

Nonetheless, the stakes are high for the United States. For one, the security conditions have exacerbated, and the emboldened Taliban now controls more territory in Afghanistan than any time since 2001. Pakistan, who is in cahoots with the Taliban, continues to provide the group with extensive sanctuaries and support network on its territory. At the same time, the Islamic State has made significant inroads into Afghanistan and has carved out a footprint in eastern parts of the country. Meanwhile, the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, who are boldly fighting the insurgency, have endured an alarming number of causalities and have suffered a 2.4 percent attrition rate every month. Civilian casualties have hit a record high with 3,498 deaths and 7,920 injured in 2016 alone, with a ten-fold increase in losses caused by the Islamic State.

 

Additionally, the influx of returning Afghan refugees from Pakistan and Europe, and over 600,000 people internally displaced by rising insecurity, have created a humanitarian crisis. Last year, the UN reported that one-third of Afghans (9.3 million) needed immediate assistance. Moreover, regional countries have engaged in unhelpful machinations to deepen their ties with armed groups that undermine American and Afghan interests. Among them Iran and Russia have extended their support to the Taliban, including sharing intelligence with the group, to contain the growing threat of the Islamic State. Unfortunately, these grim realities, coupled with an absence of a coherent U.S. strategy to address the terror group, have sown anxiety among U.S. allies and partners.

 

More vitally, Washington’s continued silence is dangerous. Earlier this month, Gen. John Nicholson, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told Congress in his testimony that the Afghan war is at “stalemate.” However, Trump has a better chance of success in Afghanistan than his predecessor, Barack Obama, a hesitant warrior who focused less on winning the war and more on not losing it. In the course, however, Washington was repeatedly reminded that the Afghan mission was broader than initially anticipated, but little was done to adjust accordingly. More crucially, by any measure, U.S. and coalition forces have won every major battle with the Taliban and other militants, but these tactical feats have not yet led to a decisive victory. This is mainly because the Taliban are free to retreat, train and regroup in sanctuaries inside Pakistan. Pakistan’s duplicity is arguably the greatest contributor to international failure to achieve stability in Afghanistan.

 

In his testimony, Nicholson told Congress that “it is very difficult to succeed on the battlefield when your enemy enjoys external support and safe haven,” and called for a “holistic review” of U.S. relations with Pakistan. Pakistan has repeatedly shown through its actions that any chaos it can manage in Afghanistan is better than a noncompliant regime in Kabul. In the past, concerns about Pakistan’s sincerity have even prompted suggestions that the United States engage in unilateral action against militants inside Pakistan. Pakistan uses “good” militants as proxies not only because they are expendable and low-cost compared to deploying military forces, but also because it offers Pakistan a plausible deniability.

 

More significantly, Pakistan has bolstered Taliban’s two-pronged approach in Afghanistan: to stoke fear by inflicting maximum damage and to undermine the Afghan government by temporarily seizing key provincial districts across the country. In doing so, Taliban has targeted district governors, police chiefs and provincial leaders. Meanwhile, the Taliban’s leadership council, or the Quetta Shura, has been steadily moved from the city of Quetta in Baluchistan province to the northeastern city of Peshawar. Key Taliban leaders are reportedly hosted by Pakistan army officials in military garrisons in Peshawar. More vitally, the Taliban’s has gradually moved from their guerrilla hit-and-run tactics into more conventional military methods in the battlefield. Among the group’s new tactics are conducting large-scale coordinated raids and sabotage activities, such as planting land mines and IEDs across major roadways to block the mobility of Afghan forces and starve them for resources.

 

Furthermore, Taliban fighters reportedly have access to advanced weaponry, including night-vision goggles, sniper rifles, sophisticated communication equipment and drones for reconnaissance and propaganda purposes. Additionally, the group has significantly improved its human and open-source intelligence gathering capabilities, including operating robust informant networks, which collect and disseminate information in a decentralized structure. Access to these resources and the change in battleground tactics exceeds beyond the Taliban’s traditional capabilities and suggests that it is propped up by a support network.

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

 

Contents

 

YEMEN HAS BECOME IRAN’S TESTING GROUND FOR NEW WEAPONS                                         

Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

BESA, March 2, 2017

 

The ongoing crisis in Yemen, whose end is not in sight, is giving Iran an opportunity to turn Yemen into a testing ground for various weapons it is developing for the maritime and military arenas. The Houthi rebels, who have taken over parts of northern Yemen including the capital, Sana’a, are getting ongoing assistance from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), mainly via Hizbullah trainers, in the use of missiles and rockets along with an ongoing supply of other weapons such as drones, explosive devices, and battlefield materiel…

 

On February 10, 2017, Abd al-Malik al-Houthi, leader of the Houthis in Yemen, said that they were beginning to manufacture drones and other airborne weapons, including surface-to-air missiles that can intercept the Saudi-led coalition planes as well as missiles “that can hit Saudi territory and beyond.” Since the beginning of the year, the Houthis have increased their missile fire, including Scuds, from Yemeni territory at different targets in Saudi Arabia, including airports and civilian infrastructures, along with missile fire at coalition targets in Yemeni territory. Hizbullah advisers are taking part in some of the missile launches.

 

Since the beginning of 2016, the Houthis have been using drones for intelligence-gathering missions, and also, according to some reports, to attack the Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen. Sheikh Abdulmalik Mikhlafi, deputy prime minister of the recognized Yemeni government, said that a Houthi drone intercepted by the Yemeni army had a missile-firing capability, a fact that points to Iran’s growing involvement in the crisis in Yemen. Notably, the Qasef attack drone is very similar to previous drone models manufactured by Iran in the Ababil series. The other models, too, have similar features to drones deployed by Iran.

 

Along with the use of drones in the aerial domain, the Houthis have been increasingly active in the maritime domain in the Bab el-Mandab area. In addition to the occasional launch of Iranian-supplied anti-ship cruise missiles, the Houthis have begun to deploy, apparently with Iranian assistance, unmanned remote-controlled maritime craft. Sources in the U.S. Navy believe the January 30, 2017, attack on the Saudi frigate Al-Madinah near the Yemeni port of Hudeida was carried out by an unmanned and guided boat. Vice Adm. Kevin Donegan, U.S. Fifth Fleet commander, said, “Our assessment is that it was an unmanned, remote-controlled boat of some kind.” According to a report by the U.S. Naval Institute, the naval craft was provided by the navy of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (the IRGCN).

 

At first, Saudi Arabia claimed the attack had been carried out by boats bearing suicide bombers, and the Houthis claimed they had fired a shore-to-sea missile (at the moment of the strike there were shouts in the background of a video of “Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]! Death to America! Death to Israel! Curse upon the Jews! Victory to Islam!”). It later turned out that it was an unmanned naval drone ship. Such vessels pose a new threat to civilian maritime traffic, open a new page in the clashes between Iran and Saudi Arabia in this sensitive arena, and could reach other Iranian-supported terror organizations in the world.

 

Iran is constantly developing its capabilities for asymmetrical maritime warfare. The aim is to contend with the United States’ superior maritime capabilities, including by attacking U.S. ships with swarms of manned and unmanned speedboats. The attack on the Saudi frigate offers a good example of Iran’s offensive unmanned-warship capability. The attack reflects the Iranian combat doctrine of using asymmetrical means against enemies that have a technological advantage. In that way, the Houthis have managed to firmly hold their ground against Saudi Arabia and the Arab-coalition forces for several years. Recently, the fighting has also spread to the maritime sphere.

 

During President Obama’s tenure, small IRGC craft often flaunted their power very close to the U.S. naval forces in the Persian Gulf, threatening them; U.S. reactions were minimal for fear of a clash. Iran would also send drones over U.S. vessels and photograph their activity. The aim was both to prepare for a possible confrontation with these ships and to disrupt their ongoing activity in the area. In the naval maneuvers Iran conducts from time to time, like the recent one in which it revealed a new shore-to-sea missile, it practices the sinking of large U.S. vessels including aircraft carriers.

 

The continuing conflict in Yemen, which is being waged both at sea and on land, gives Iran an opportunity to test some of its capabilities and military doctrines “for real.”…Iran’s active involvement in the conflict in Yemen, including the various weapons it is introducing and testing in the arena has implications for the Palestinian terror organizations’ and Hizbullah’s future rounds of warfare against Israel. Hamas and Hizbullah are already deploying unmanned aerial and naval craft manufactured by Iran, or built with Iranian know-how, in the struggle against Israel. Unmanned warships like those the Houthis used in Yemen would pose a new kind of threat both to Israel’s navy and to its natural gas rigs in the Mediterranean. The longer the conflict in Yemen continues, the more experience Iran and Hizbullah will gain in using this weapon. Iran already has a record of testing weapons in different places and deploying them in different arenas. Explosive devices were used against the IDF in Lebanon and the U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq, and the Houthis are now deploying them in Yemen.          

 

Contents

 

THE DANGEROUS IMPLICATIONS OF DEMOCRATS’

OBSESSION WITH TRUMP’S YEMEN RAID

                                                       David French

                                            National Review, Mar. 2, 2017

 

On Saturday, December 6, 2014, there was an American commando raid in Yemen. As reported by the New York Times, special forces attacked a village in the southern part of the country in an effort to free hostages, including an American journalist, held by jihadists. But instead of accomplishing what it set out to accomplish, the raid “ended in tragedy”: Terrorists killed two hostages, including the American, and in the ensuing firefight, a number of civilians died. That’s not a scandal; that’s war.

 

Fast-forward to late January of this year. Donald Trump, just nine days after assuming the presidency, ordered a raid into Yemen that had been planned during the Obama administration and endorsed by James Mattis, the new secretary of defense. During the attack, American forces encountered tougher-than-expected resistance, Navy SEAL Ryan Owens was killed, and civilians died in the crossfire. At the end of the attack, American and allied forces took possession of intelligence that may or may not (reports conflict) be valuable to the war against jihad. That’s not a scandal; that’s war.

 

But don’t tell that to the Democrats, to the Trump administration’s most committed critics, or to multiple members of the media, including some who should know better. Suddenly, there is an odd new standard for success or failure in military operations: Special-forces raids are scandalous unless they 1) yield exactly the intelligence or other assets they sought; 2) do so without encountering unexpected resistance; and 3) do not cost any American lives. By that standard, my own deployment to Iraq was one scandal after another. Even though we had boots on the ground, a consistent presence in our area of operations, and access to intelligence from a wide variety of sources, we still encountered surprises and ambushes. Multiple raids “failed” in the sense that we didn’t seize our targets or obtain the information we had hoped to find. Our intelligence “failed” sometimes, with inaccurate assessments of enemy capabilities or intentions leading to deaths. But none of that was scandalous; it was all war.

 

I’ve written at length about the Yemen raid before, but it’s vital to revisit the issue again. In part because of the profound moment in Trump’s address to Congress when he honored Carryn Owens, Ryan Owens’s widow, and in part because of his clumsy and inexcusable effort to deflect blame for Owens’s death to his generals, the Yemen raid is back in the news. And it’s thus vital to establish standards for evaluating and reporting the Trump administration’s military efforts.

 

First, do we really want presidents — especially those with exactly zero military experience — ordering individual raids in the context of ongoing military operations? Obama famously agonized over “kill lists,” reportedly even viewing the faces of targets before issuing his orders. Elevating strike authority to POTUS himself risks not only slowing down military operations, but also placing the decision in the hands of a person with less information and less experience than a professional military trained to identify and destroy our nation’s enemies.

 

Obama’s moral dilemmas made for good newspaper copy, but did they result in the best application of American military power? The rise of ISIS and the spread of jihad suggests that they did not. Second, should Americans really have zero or near-zero tolerance for casualties? It’s a simple fact that the less we risk American forces, the less effective they are. For many good reasons, we’ve delegated much of the fight in Mosul to local allies, but that carries a cost, too. Parts of the city are still in enemy hands, and progress is slow. How much could we speed up the fight (and perhaps capture and kill more enemy fighters) if we put American soldiers closer to the action or empower them to engage the enemy directly?

 

When soldiers enlist, they trust their commanders (including the commander-in-chief) not to throw away their lives carelessly or recklessly, but they know that they could die in the line of duty nevertheless. Americans are allegedly “war-weary” (a strange term for a nation in which only the tiniest fraction of citizens have fought), and we’ve already suffered thousands of casualties abroad, but so long as the enemy still seeks to do us harm, we’re crippling our national defense if we unilaterally decide to fight without loss.

 

Third, when terrorists use civilians as human shields, who’s to blame for the civilian deaths that result? By adopting a near-zero tolerance for civilian casualties (as the Obama administration often did), we incentivize violations of the laws of war, extend combat operations, and risk American life. When jihadists hide behind women and children, they bear the legal and moral responsibility for civilian deaths…

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

 

Contents                                                              

 

On Topic Links

 

Dozens Killed in ISIS Attack on Kabul Military Hospital: Ehsanullah Amiri & Margherita Stancati, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 8, 2017—Islamic State fighters disguised as doctors fought elite government forces inside Afghanistan’s largest military hospital on Wednesday in a seven-hour battle that left at least 30 people dead and 50 others wounded, Afghan officials said.

Why Russia is Returning to Afghanistan: Jeffrey Mankoff, World Politics Review, Feb. 28, 2017—n his speech to the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in February 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev described the war in Afghanistan as the USSR’s “bleeding wound.” Gorbachev would order Soviet forces out of Afghanistan two years later. During the subsequent three decades, Soviet and subsequently Russian leaders sought to steer clear of the country that many likened to Moscow’s Vietnam.

Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government: Carlotta Gall, New York Times, Dec. 6, 2016—Fifteen years, half a trillion dollars and 150,000 lives since going to war, the United States is trying to extricate itself from Afghanistan. Afghans are being left to fight their own fight. A surging Taliban insurgency, meanwhile, is flush with a new inflow of money.

How America Lost Afghanistan: Bonnie Kristian, The Week, Mar. 7, 2017—Some 16 years in, the war in Afghanistan is the longest in the history of The United States. It is also our most disproportionately ignored, and — with a new president in office after an election in which Afghanistan was barely mentioned — perhaps our most uncertain major intervention going forward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OBAMA’S M.E. POLICY & FAILED “ARAB SPRING” FUELED REGIONAL CHAOS AND INSTABILITY

The Failing Arab World: Geoffrey Clarfield, National Post, Feb. 23, 2017— The Arab World stretches from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf. It is home to five per cent of the world’s population.

The Three-Headed Hydra of the Middle East: Victor Davis Hanson, Washington Times, Feb. 15, 2017 — The abrupt Obama administration pre-election pullout from Iraq in 2011, along with the administration’s failed reset with Russia and the Iran deal, created a three-headed hydra in the Middle East.

The Fast Track to Armageddon: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 13, 2017— When all pertinent factors are taken into account, U.S. President Donald Trump could sometime undertake more-or-less selective military action against Iran.

Myth: American Ties to Israel Harm US Interests in the Muslim Middle East: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Mar. 1, 2017— Modern advanced states and their citizens pride themselves on being scientific and rational, with opinions and convictions that are tested against facts.

               

On Topic Links

 

The Politics of Oil: How Russia Pursues Its Energy Dream in the Middle East: Yury Barmin, Alsharq Forum, Feb. 24, 2017

U.S., Middle East Allies Explore Arab Military Coalition: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15, 2017

The New Arab–Israeli Alliance: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, Jan., 2017

How Israelis See the Settlements: Yossi Klein Halevi, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 2, 2017

 

 

THE FAILING ARAB WORLD                                                              

Geoffrey Clarfield

National Post, Feb. 23, 2017

 

The Arab World stretches from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf. It is home to five per cent of the world’s population. According to the UN its people are responsible for 45 per cent of all global terrorist attacks. It is also the home of 17.6 per cent of the world’s violent conflicts and 68.5 per cent of the world’s battle-related deaths. 47 per cent of the world’s internally displaced people come from the Arab world.

 

Despite having more than 43 per cent of the world’s total proven oil reserves and producing a third of the world’s oil supply, the Arab world’s military spending is 65 per cent higher than the global average. This overinvestment in war fuels the near continuous suffering of the people in the Arab world. So, it is not surprising that the recent comprehensive UN Development Report on the Arab World paints a dismal picture of life there, especially for the youth who comprise the overwhelming majority of today’s Arabs.

 

In January, Israeli analyst Nimrod Raphaeli summarized the report in a bulletin for the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). Raphaeli’s good summary misses some key points about the nature of the Arab world, which I raise below. The report points out that despite the initial excitement of friends of the Arab world during the Arab Spring of 2011, the largely youth-driven protests have not led to any political gain. No wave of democracy engulfs the Arab world as in Central and Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1990. As Raphaeli points out, “Arab youth today remain mired in poverty; they are politically marginalized and voiceless, economically disenfranchised, and socially prone to radicalization and violence.”

 

I would add that what the report fails to explore in any depth is the gerontocratic and patriarchal nature of Arab political leadership which is a reflection of the clan, where the oldest males holds almost all authority until they die. This social structure is more than 1300 years old. The report points out that 30 per cent of the population is comprised of 15 to 29-yearolds. Very few of them have economically viable skills and it is possible that by 2050 the development levels of the Arab world will be similar to those of sub-Saharan Africa. This is not “underdevelopment” but a “development decline.” In the Arab world’s failed economic model, where the public sector dominates, everyone wants to work for the government. Since the government elites control most of the oil wealth, they create a vast bureaucracy to support their families and tribal clients and to keep other people down.

 

The report talks about “forged uncompetitive and monopolistic alliances.” In simple English we call this a kleptocracy. Simply put, manufacturing is not a major factor in the Arab world. Oil wealth and remittances drive almost everything there and it is common knowledge that much oil wealth is invested overseas, as violent elite replaces violent elite, so you cannot keep your money safely in your own country. This is a key aspect of the failed economic model that the report does not explore. The report also fails to emphasize that in earlier UN Arab development reports, it was pointed out that the number of translations from foreign languages into Arabic pales in significance to that of Europe. This is connected to the absence of freedom of speech and a general lack of interest in science in the region, what one historian has called a “curiosity deficit.” A modern economy cannot develop in this kind of cultural milieu as government censorship is everywhere.

 

And so, conspiracy theory dominates the not- so- free Arab press. Left-leaning journalist Reese Ehrlich points out that the most common themes are that “the U.S. created the Islamic State… the U.S. was the secret instigator of all the Arab Spring uprisings…. the Syria uprising was not a popular movement but instead was instigated by the U. S. in order to remove the anti-imperialist Assad…. the U.S. intentionally creates failed states like Libya in order to keep the region in turmoil… the Bush administration planned the 9/11 attacks in order to further repression and start wars in the Middle East.”

 

From 2009- 2014 about 22 million Arabs have left their homes. The report does not mention that a majority of Arab émigrés to Europe make their homes in the radicalized “no go” zones of European cities from where so many jihadis have attacked Europeans on their own streets, thus exporting their own conflicts. Neither Raphaeli nor the report adequately explains the recent upsurge in radical Islam, that it has been driven by millions of dollars of Saudi funding; nor do they address the surging jihad against the Christian minorities of the Arab world, which is now reaching genocidal proportions.

 

Given that these kinds of UN reports are supported by funds from Arab countries, we cannot expect them to give us anything more than the facts. It is clearly not in the interest of the Arab League- dominated UN to give us much else. For the monitors of this same report are the representatives of those same governments who are causing so much of their own people’s problems and who censor anything written in their own countries.                                                           

 

Contents

 

THE THREE-HEADED HYDRA OF THE MIDDLE EAST

Victor Davis Hanson

Washington Times, Feb. 15, 2017

 

The abrupt Obama administration pre-election pullout from Iraq in 2011, along with the administration’s failed reset with Russia and the Iran deal, created a three-headed hydra in the Middle East. What makes the Middle East monster deadly is the interplay between the Iranian terrorist regime and its surrogates Hezbollah and the Assad regime; Russian President Vladimir Putin’s deployment of bombers into Syria and Iraq after a 40-year Russian hiatus in the region; and the medieval beheaders of the Islamic State.

 

Add into the brew anti-Americanism, genocide, millions of refugees, global terrorism and nuclear weapons. ISIS is simultaneously at war against the Assad regime, Iran and Iranian surrogates such Hezbollah, and Russian expeditionary forces. ISIS also seeks to energize terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe. Stranger still, ISIS almost surely is receiving stealth support from Sunni nations in the Middle East, some of them ostensibly American allies.

 

This matrix gets even crazier. The authors of reset policy during the Obama administration are now furious at President Trump for even talking about what they tried for years: reaching out to Mr. Putin. Yet in the Middle East, Russia is doing us a favor by attacking ISIS, even as it does no favors in saving the genocidal Assad regime that has murdered tens of thousands of innocents — along with lots of ISIS terrorists as well. Iran is the sworn enemy of the United States, yet its foreign proxies attack our shared enemy, ISIS. The very troops who once blew up Americans in Iraq with shaped charges are for now de facto allies on the Syrian and Iraqi battlefields.

 

Given that there is now no political support for surging thousands more U.S. troops into Iraq to reverse the disastrous Obama administration pullout, there are three strategic choices in dealing with the Middle East hydra, all of them bad: One, hold our nose, and for now ally with Russia and Iran to destroy ISIS first. Then deal with the other rivalries later on. (The model is the American-Soviet alliance against Hitler that quickly morphed after 1945 into the Cold War.)

 

Two, work with the least awful of the three, which is probably Russia. (The model might be Henry Kissinger’s outreach to Mao’s China that left Moscow and Beijing at odds and confused over the role of the United States.) Three, simply keep out of the mess and let them all diminish each other, despite the collateral damage to the innocent. (The model is the savage Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 that weakened U.S. enemies Saddam Hussein and the Iranian theocracy but resulted in some 800,000 deaths.) In the short-term, Option Three is ostensibly the least costly — at least to the United States. But 2 million Syrian and Iraqi refugees have swarmed Europe, coinciding with an uptick in radical Islamic terrorism. Syria is becoming the new Balkans or Rwanda — and nonintervention would mean allowing the wasteland to spread, as hundreds of thousands more civilians die or flee westward.

 

Which of the other two options is the least objectionable? After 2014, we quietly pursued Option One by fighting in parallel fashion with Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and the Assad government against ISIS, the more dreadful enemy. Apparently, the Obama rationale was that when ISIS was destroyed, the U.S. could then come to terms with an energized and empowered Iran rather than with Russia. The jury is out on that strategy.

 

The second option so far seems to be President Trump’s preference: a new detente with Mr. Putin in hopes that he will back off even a bit from his support of Iran and Hezbollah as we jointly fight ISIS. The flipping-Russia approach may seem unlikely: It assumes nuclear Russia is far less of a threat than soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. Would Mr. Putin really be willing to write off a half-century of Russian support for Syria? Or can Mr. Putin see that the United States has mutual interests with Russia in opposing all Islamic extremism — both ISIS and Mr. Putin’s Iranian clients? Would the mercurial Mr. Putin work with moderate Sunni regimes, Israel and the U.S. to provide regional stability? Can Mr. Trump persuade Mr. Putin that having Iran as yet another nuclear power near the borders of the old Soviet Union (in addition to Pakistan, India, North Korea, China and NATO forces) is not in Russia’s interest?

 

Would overlooking Mr. Putin’s autocracy be any worse that the Obama administration’s negotiations with a murderous Iran, the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism? What would be Mr. Putin’s steep price to abandon Mr. Assad, to ensure that Iran stays non-nuclear, and to finish the destruction of ISIS? Overlooking Russian autocracy? Keeping mum should Mr. Putin threaten autonomous nations on his border? These are bad choices. Mr. Trump, a political outsider, did not create the monster. Rather, he inherited from past U.S. leaders the three-headed hydra of the Middle East.

 

 

Contents 

THE FAST TRACK TO ARMAGEDDON               

                                         Louis Rene Beres

Breaking Israel News, Feb. 13, 2017

 

When all pertinent factors are taken into account, U.S. President Donald Trump could sometime undertake more-or-less selective military action against Iran. In response, the Islamic Republic – then having absolutely no meaningful option to launching at least certain forms of armed reprisal – would target American military forces in the region and/or carefully chosen Israeli targets. Whatever its precise configuration of selected targets, Tehran’s retaliatory blow would be expressly designed so as not to elicit an unacceptably massive (possibly even nuclear) counter-retaliation. With particular regard to Israel, moreover, this sort of retaliation would plausibly include, inter alia, a substantial reliance upon Iran’s own surrogate militia forces in Hezbollah.

 

All such bewildering calculations, of course, must assume perfect rationality on all sides. If, for example, the new American president should cast all caution to the winds with his own first strike (a strike that would be defended by Washington, in law, as an allegedly legitimate expression of international law-enforcement, or “anticipatory self-defense”), the Iranian response, whether rational or irrational, could expectedly be “proportionate” – that is, comparably massive. In that prospectively escalatory case, any contemplated introduction of nuclear weapons into the ensuing conflagration might not necessarily be dismissed out of hand.

 

At that point, moreover, any such introduction would have to originate from the American and/or Israeli side. This indisputable inference is “true by definition,” “simply” because Iran would not yet have become an operationally nuclear power. In such circumstances, Trump, especially in view of his favored argumentum ad baculum stance in virtually all matters, might decide upon a so-called “mad dog” strategy vis-a-vis Iran. Here, the American president would display a last-resort dependence upon a strategy of pretended irrationality, or what I have called in my own latest books and monographs, the “rationality of pretended irrationality.” Significantly, any such residual reliance, while intuitively sensible and apparently compelling, could still backfire, thereby opening up an “Armageddon path” to a now unstoppable escalation.

 

If, on the other hand, Trump’s “punishing” or defensive initial strike against Iran were conspicuously less than massive, a fully rational Iranian adversary would likely ensure that its chosen reprisal was correspondingly “limited.” But if Trump’s consciously rational and calibrated attack upon Iran were wittingly or unwittingly launched against an irrational enemy leadership, the Iranian response could then be “roaring missiles,” or an all-out retaliation. This presumably unanticipated response, while non-nuclear, could be directed at some as yet undeterminable combination of U.S. and Israeli targets. Cumulatively, it could still inflict very substantial harms.

 

For the moment, at least, any Iranian missile reprisal against U.S. interests and personnel would have to exclude the American homeland. This same limiting prediction, however, cannot be made in reference to any considered Israeli targets. On the contrary, any reciprocal Iranian attack directed against Israel would plausibly target that country’s military assets and could also include a significant number of “soft” civilian populations and corollary infrastructures.

Stay up to date with Israel and the Middle East

 

Even if it is being played only by rational adversaries, the advancing strategic “game” would demand that each contestant relentlessly strive for “escalation dominance.” Ominously, it is in the thoroughly unpracticed internal dynamics of any such rivalry that the serious prospect of a genuinely “Armageddon” scenario could sometime be realized. This intolerable outcome could be produced either in unexpected increments of escalation by any or all of the three dominant national players, or instead, by any sudden quantum leap in destructiveness undertaken by Iran, Israel and/or the United States…

 

In the final analysis, informed citizens and participants in these hideously complicated games of strategy will need to recall that it is mathematically meaningless to assign any comforting probabilities to unique events. Because an authentic nuclear war would represent precisely such an event, one with utterly unforeseen intersections, interactions and “synergies,” we can never predict with any reassuring degree of precision whether such a conflict would actually be more or less probable. Indeed, should Trump ever proceed to strike Iran on the erroneously nonspecific assumption that his generals have already “got everything covered,” he ought then to be reminded of the classic military warning of Carl von Clausewitz: Long before any military planners could even envision a nuclear war, the great Prussian general had cautioned about “friction,” or “the difference between war on paper, and war as it actually is.” Where it would be minimized or disregarded altogether by Trump, this difference could propel the unsteady Middle East toward an irreversible Armageddon.

 

Contents

 

MYTH: AMERICAN TIES TO ISRAEL HARM

US INTERESTS IN THE MUSLIM MIDDLE EAST

Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA, Mar. 1, 2017

 

Modern advanced states and their citizens pride themselves on being scientific and rational, with opinions and convictions that are tested against facts. One widespread conviction among many State Department officials, academics, think tank professionals, and members of the informed public is that US financial and military support for Israel at the UN harms American interests, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. In this region, the majority of states take a dim if not openly hostile view towards Israel. This is a hypothesis that can be tested. One avenue among many is to see if US support for Israel, which is certainly powerful at the UN and in other international fora, has a negative effect on exports of the US to the countries of the region.

 

This is a good test, because most states demand that imported goods identify their country of origin on the packaging. This means the purchaser – be it a government or a public or private consumer – has a clear choice whether or not to buy the product. The degree of choice involved is amplified by the fact that there are similar products available for almost all goods exported from the US to the Middle East. These alternative products are produced by other states, some of which vote the same way predominantly Muslim states do at the UN.

 

One would expect that US exports to the region would be adversely affected in the long run, and especially so during eras of conflagration between Israel and its enemies. These eras are easy to identify. They include the height of the second intifada (2001-04); the month-long Israel-Hezbollah confrontation in June 2006, better known as the second Lebanese War; and the three rounds of hostilities between Israel and Hamas: in December 2008-09, in October 2012, and in July-August 2014 (the longest “war” in the history of Israeli-Arab wars). All these rounds of conflict were extensively reported by the media, the last four by new media as well. Since most exports from the US to MENA are relatively sophisticated, one can safely assume that the buyers of these products form the media-attentive public in their respective countries. In other words, their purchasing choices cannot be said to have reflected their ignorance during and after these bouts of violence.

 

Surprisingly, it is not easy to chalk up the data. This is because, contrary to popular perception, the Middle East and North Africa is a small consumer market for products made in the US or indeed the rest of the world. Only 5% of total US exports are purchased by this vast region of 21 states. The leading regional importers of US products are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel. Only 1% of investments in the US economy are made by Middle East investors (mostly the sovereign funds of the oil- and gas-producing Arab states). Investors in the US are not particularly keen on investing in the Middle East, which attracts only 1% of their investments. The two leading beneficiaries are Egypt and Israel, the former because it is a relatively large, albeit poor, consumer market; the latter because it is attractive as a high-tech nation.

 

To investigate whether or not the US suffers by supporting Israel, let us look at the data for exports to OPEC (which includes a minority of non-Muslim countries) and for Saudi Arabia. In neither case is there any indication that US support for Israel has had any effect on Muslim and Arab consumers. For starters, growth in US exports to the region has characterized the last sixteen years for which there are data. Exports to Saudi Arabia between 1999 and 2015 more than doubled, from US$8.3 billion to US$19.6 billion, and for all OPEC countries, it more than tripled (from US$20.6 billion to US$72.3 billion). The growth rate for both was greater than in other regions except for East Asia (mainly China), where exponential economic growth took place that brought with it a growing ability to buy American products (and of course imports from other countries).

 

Perhaps the Saudi public reduced its demand for US goods during Israel’s bouts with the Palestinians during the second intifada, or during its clashes with Hezbollah and Hamas? Again, there is little evidence that this occurred. In 2001, US exports slightly increased after a sharp fall in 2000, slightly decreased in 2009 after the first round between Israel and Hamas, increased greatly during the 2012 bout, and decreased again in 2014. The same lack of a political pattern holds true for the OPEC countries as a whole.

 

It is not politics but world oil prices that explain these yearly fluctuations. When oil prices dropped, so did demand for American products. In 2000, the world economic crisis and low oil prices brought about the drop. An increase in US exports took place the following year, when the world economy and oil prices made a comeback. In 2009, it was the world recession – not the Israel-Hamas standoff – that influenced energy prices and demand for US products. The sharp drop in oil prices from US$110 a barrel to half that in 2014 saw the purchase of American goods tumble by a hefty 25% in Saudi Arabia. The similarity in trends between Saudi Arabia and the OPEC countries, albeit of different magnitude, demonstrates that it was the wiles of the world economy and subsequent fluctuations in oil income that explain the demand for American goods, not politics, and certainly not the Israeli-US relationship. The widely held conviction that the US’s relationship to Israel harms its interests is a myth. Its persistence relies on premises that no rational educated person should harbor.

 

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

The Politics of Oil: How Russia Pursues Its Energy Dream in the Middle East: Yury Barmin, Alsharq Forum, Feb. 24, 2017—Against the backdrop of instability in the global energy industry, Moscow is seeking to consolidate its share of the oil and gas markets as well as ensure that its revenue stream from the oil trade does not thin out.

U.S., Middle East Allies Explore Arab Military Coalition: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15, 2017—The Trump administration is in talks with Arab allies about having them form a military alliance that would share intelligence with Israel to help counter their mutual foe, Iran, several Middle Eastern officials said.

The New Arab–Israeli Alliance: Michael J. Totten, World Affairs, Jan., 2017—During the early years of the Obama administration, conventional wisdom in Washington held that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict trumped everything else in the Middle East, that no problem could be resolved until that one was out of the way. “Without doubt,” former president Jimmy Carter said, “the path to peace in the Middle East goes through Jerusalem.” The reason, said his former national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, now a professor of foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University, is because, “The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the single most combustible and galvanizing issue in the Arab world”.

How Israelis See the Settlements: Yossi Klein Halevi, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 2, 2017— A billboard near the highway entering Jerusalem proclaims in Hebrew: “The Time for Sovereignty Has Come.” It is part of a new campaign for the formal incorporation into Israel of Ma’ale Adumim, one of the largest settlements in the West Bank and barely a 10-minute drive east of Israel’s capital. The campaign’s sponsors, backed by several ministers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ’s coalition, see annexing Ma’ale Adumim as the first step to annexing the entire West Bank and preventing the creation of a Palestinian state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY SO FAR COMBINES RADICAL RHETORIC & CONVENTIONAL WISDOM

No ‘Trump Doctrine’ Yet — and Wisely So: Ralph Peters, New York Post, Mar. 1, 2017— In his politically adept address to Congress Tuesday night, President Trump largely ignored foreign policy and spoke only generally — though warmly — about our armed forces.

Trump and the ‘Madman Theory’: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2017— At the heart of President Trump’s foreign policy team lies a glaring contradiction.

The Logic of Trump’s Foreign Policy: Michael Auslin, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 20, 2017— Amid the seeming disarray of President Trump’s foreign policy, critics seem unable to make up their minds…

A Big Deal?: Elliott Abrams, Weekly Standard, Feb. 27, 2017— What a difference an election makes.                                                                                                                                                                            

On Topic Links

 

Trump’s ‘Alt-state’ Solution Suddenly Looks Like the Best Deal for Israelis and Arabs: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Feb. 22, 2017

What is Trump’s Israel Policy?: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 16, 2017

Clear, Clarify, Hold, Build: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 27, 2017

All of Trump’s Executive Actions So Far: Aidan Quigley, Politico, Jan. 25, 2017

 

NO ‘TRUMP DOCTRINE’ YET — AND WISELY SO                                                                       

Ralph Peters

New York Post, Mar. 1, 2017

 

In his politically adept address to Congress Tuesday night, President Trump largely ignored foreign policy and spoke only generally — though warmly — about our armed forces. That was a good thing. It might have been disastrous had the president attempted to lay down a “Trump Doctrine” on national security and international relations prematurely. He and his team long have been engaged on domestic issues, but, true to the pattern of recent administrations, they regarded global affairs as an annoyance and national security primarily as a stick for poking opponents.

 

Now, in office, Trump is learning how complex the world is and how confounding the collision of security, diplomatic and economic interests can be. Mr. President, take your time. Listen to premier advisers, such as Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Hear out the senators who’ve studied national security for decades. Recognize that politics truly ought to end at water’s edge.

 

The president does need to make a defining foreign-policy speech to guide his administration. But it should come no earlier than this summer, allowing time to overcome preconceptions and face reality. Trump needs to get this right. Meanwhile, his brief remarks on global issues were reassuring. His declaration of solidarity with NATO was welcome and vital. Even though new funding isn’t yet “pouring in” from our allies, there are earnest discussions in European parliaments about making greater contributions to the alliance. But we must recognize that NATO has been the greatest security bargain the United States ever got. Peace is a great deal cheaper than world war.

 

Trump’s dramatic support for our troops and their families provided a healthy morale boost — and a welcome change from the grudging acknowledgments of the Obama era. The president repeated his determination, if without specifics, to renew our military. All good. But for those of us who take a broader view of national security, his emphasis on supporting domestic law enforcement and making ravaged minority communities safe, with quality schools, cut to the core. It matters little if we’re safe abroad if tens of millions of our fellow citizens must fear a walk to the corner store, don’t know if their children will return safely from the playground or cannot educate the young to advance and rise from poverty.

 

The Democratic Party’s unforgivable confinement of minorities to a permanent underclass is a national-security crisis of the first order, a virtual imprisonment of millions. But beyond mixed metaphors and an addiction to adverbs, there were three problems with the president’s remarks on security. First, the various proposed initiatives — tax cuts, massive infrastructure spending, more social benefits and a higher defense budget — would add enormously to our national debt. We’ll see what the budget wonks can do, but a sound economy and sustainable debt are fundamental to national security. We have to learn to live within our means, make hard decisions and take responsibility.

 

Second, the president began by announcing that our country will again play a leadership role in the world and that our allies can count on us once more. But, later, he veered toward “America First” and a retreat from the global stage. As many a former president learned the hard way, disengagement simply doesn’t work. When we don’t venture into the world, the world comes to us — as on 9/11, or at Pearl Harbor or as far back as the War of 1812.

 

Third, although the president never uttered the name “Putin,” the Russian dictator’s ghost floated by when the president pointedly noted that old enemies can become friends. Beware. If any single issue has the potential to ravage the new administration, it’s the Russia connection. Trump needs to state, openly and firmly, that Vladimir Putin threatens our values, our interests, human rights, freedom and common decency.

 

Grave political danger lurks, as some on the extreme right insist Putin’s a natural ally in the defense of our civilization against Islamist barbarism. But Putin’s a barbarian himself. It’s naked bigotry to give him a pass on the grounds that he’s nominally Christian: His regime exploits a pliant Orthodox Church for cynical ends, as did the Soviet Union Putin worships. Putin isn’t an embattled defender of “our” civilization. He’s its enemy. His values aren’t our values; his interests aren’t our own; and yes, he’s a war criminal. Civilization begins at the Polish border.

 

On Tuesday, Trump disarmed political opponents by calling them out. He reassured our allies. He opened the door to cooperation and change. Now the hard work begins.

 

 

Contents

 

                             

TRUMP AND THE ‘MADMAN THEORY’

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, Feb. 23, 2017

 

At the heart of President Trump’s foreign policy team lies a glaring contradiction. On the one hand, it is composed of men of experience, judgment and traditionalism. Meaning, they are all very much within the parameters of mainstream American internationalism as practiced since 1945. Practically every member of the team — the heads of State, Homeland Security, the CIA, and most especially Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and national security adviser H.R. McMaster — could fit in a Cabinet put together by, say, Hillary Clinton.

 

The commander in chief, on the other hand, is quite the opposite — inexperienced, untraditional, unbounded. His pronouncements on everything from the one-China policy to the two-state (Arab-Israeli) solution, from NATO obsolescence to the ravages of free trade, continue to confound and, as we say today, disrupt. The obvious question is: Can this arrangement possibly work? The answer thus far, surprisingly, is: perhaps.

 

The sample size is tiny but take, for example, the German excursion. Trump dispatched his grown-ups — Vice President Pence, Defense Secretary Mattis, Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — to various international confabs in Germany to reassure allies with the usual pieties about America’s commitment to European security. They did drop a few hints to Trump’s loud complaints about allied parasitism, in particular shirking their share of the defense burden. Within days, Germany announced a 20,000-troop expansion of its military. Smaller European countries are likely to take note of the new setup. It’s classic good-cop, bad-cop: The secretaries represent foreign policy continuity but their boss preaches America First. Message: Shape up.

 

John Hannah of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies suggests that the push-pull effect might work on foes as well as friends. On Saturday, China announced a cutoff of all coal imports from North Korea for the rest of 2017. Constituting more than one-third of all North Korean exports, this is a major blow to its economy. True, part of the reason could be Chinese ire at the brazen assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half brother, who had been under Chinese protection. Nonetheless, the boycott was declared just days after a provocative North Korean missile launch — and shortly into the term of a new American president who has shown that he can be erratic and quite disdainful of Chinese sensibilities.

 

His wavering on the one-China policy took Beijing by surprise. Trump also strongly denounced Chinese expansion in the South China Sea and conducted an ostentatious love-in with Japan’s prime minister, something guaranteed to rankle the Chinese. Beijing’s boycott of Pyongyang is many things, among them a nod to Washington. This suggests that the peculiar and discordant makeup of the U.S. national security team — traditionalist lieutenants, disruptive boss — might reproduce the old Nixonian “madman theory.” That’s when adversaries tread carefully because they suspect the U.S. president of being unpredictable, occasionally reckless and potentially crazy dangerous. Henry Kissinger, with Nixon’s collaboration, tried more than once to exploit this perception to pressure adversaries.

 

Trump’s people have already shown a delicate touch in dealing with his bouts of loopiness. Trump has gone on for years about how we should have taken Iraq’s oil for ourselves. Sunday in Baghdad, Mattis wryly backed off, telling his hosts that “All of us in America have generally paid for our gas and oil all along, and I am sure we will continue to do so in the future.”

 

Yet sometimes an off-center comment can have its uses. Take Trump’s casual dismissal of a U.S. commitment to a two-state solution in the Middle East. The next day, U.S. policy was brought back in line by his own U.N. ambassador. But this diversion might prove salutary. It’s a message to the Palestinians that their decades of rejectionism may not continue to pay off with an inexorable march toward statehood — that there may actually be a price to pay for making no concessions and simply waiting for the U.S. to deliver them a Palestinian state.

 

To be sure, a two-track, two-policy, two-reality foreign policy is risky, unsettling and has the potential to go totally off the rails. This is not how you would draw it up in advance. It’s unstable and confusing. But the experience of the first month suggests that, with prudence and luck, it can yield the occasional benefit — that the combination of radical rhetoric and conventional policy may induce better behavior both in friend and foe. Alas, there is also a worst-case scenario. It needs no elaboration.

 

 

Contents

 

THE LOGIC OF TRUMP’S FOREIGN POLICY

Michael Auslin

Wall Street Journal, Feb. 20, 2017

 

Amid the seeming disarray of President Trump’s foreign policy, critics seem unable to make up their minds: Either Mr. Trump is upending America’s traditional postwar priorities, such as by denigrating NATO, or he is easily accommodating conventional wisdom, such as by accepting the “One China” policy. Which is it?

 

These critiques miss the logical thread that ties together Mr. Trump’s actions. Although it is too early to expect the president’s foreign policy to be fully fleshed out, especially after the abrupt resignation of Mike Flynn as national security adviser, the White House appears to be guided by a consistent approach.

 

On foreign issues that directly affect domestic concerns, Mr. Trump pursues radical change. But on matters that are truly foreign, he is willing to adopt a traditional stance. What looks like inconsistency is actually an instinct deeply grounded in his worldview.

 

This explains the president’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his desire to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Some charge that this is a betrayal of America’s decades-long commitment to a liberal global economic system. But Mr. Trump sees it as a domestic priority, a necessary shielding of American workers. Instead of sweeping, multicountry agreements, he has proposed bilateral trade pacts, beginning with Britain and possibly Japan.

 

On pure foreign policy, Mr. Trump has stayed the course for now. After initially questioning the relevance and utility of America’s main postwar alliances, he now seems committed to them. The president and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have affirmed the mutual-defense agreements with Japan and South Korea. Mr. Mattis had tough words for NATO allies last week when urging increased military spending, but walking away seems a remote possibility.

 

Even more surprising was the recent phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Mr. Trump dropped his criticism of the “One China” policy that has defined relations with Beijing since the 1970s. Mr. Mattis, during a visit to Japan, also calmed fears that the U.S. Navy might physically confront Chinese vessels in the South China Sea. The Trump administration has kept Russia at arm’s length, too, despite the president’s continued praise of Vladimir Putin. U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has made clear that American sanctions will remain in effect unless Russia withdraws from Ukraine.

 

Mr. Trump rejects the widely held belief that globalization always benefits American interests. This may be his most lasting challenge to the postwar international order. Still, the Trump administration appears willing to live up to commitments and responsibilities that do not impose costs at home. None of this means Mr. Trump’s policies will go smoothly. But critics are wrong to claim he is suddenly kowtowing, seeing the wisdom of “orthodoxy,” or being tamed by the establishment. At least so far, Mr. Trump has been remarkably consistent. Critics from the left and right should accept that the next four years of American foreign policy will be defined by a mix of traditionalism and radicalism.

                                                               

Contents 

                                        

A BIG DEAL?

                                        

Elliott Abrams

 

Weekly Standard, Feb. 27, 2017

 

What a difference an election makes. Benjamin Netanyahu, for eight years scorned and insulted by the Obama administration, found himself warmly embraced in the Trump White House last week. No more name-calling, no more deliberate "daylight" between Israeli and American positions, no more abandonment of Israel at the U.N.

 

This was the central achievement of the Netanyahu visit: to demonstrate a visible end to the Obama years and put Israeli-American relations back where they were in the George W. Bush administration. The warmth of the White House greeting was no doubt bitter gall to Bibi's many enemies in Jerusalem, and in the Israeli press accounts they carped and complained about this word and that phrase. But having a close and supportive relationship with Washington is always an asset to an Israeli prime minister, and so it will be for Netanyahu.

 

Beyond this symbolic reset of the U.S.-Israel alliance, the visit was filled with several real developments. The American and Israeli press are mostly focusing on "the abandonment of the two-state solution" and quoting President Trump's lines: “I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians—if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best.”

 

The criticism of Trump for this "abandonment" is misplaced. At least since Bill Clinton, a "two-state solution" has been the insistent American goal, but where has it gotten us—or the Israelis and Palestinians? Trump is focusing instead on the goal, which is peace, and saying any road that gets us all there can work for him if it can work for the parties. Criticism of this position is foolish, elevating the means over the end. He has not abandoned the two-state solution; the hand-wringing of the New York Times and the elation of some spokesmen for the Israeli right are both overdone. Trump is doing what he often does best: challenging the conventional wisdom and asking if there is a better path to peace.

 

In fact Trump has a theory of how to get there—the "outside in" approach that starts with the Arab states. The old two-state approach was to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian deal first, believing it would clear the way for the Arab states to improve their relations with Israel. Trump favors a regional approach: leverage Israel's improving relations with Arab states to help win an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Netanyahu was first to mention this when the two men appeared together: “I believe that the great opportunity for peace comes from a regional approach, from involving our newfound Arab partners in the pursuit of a broader peace and peace with the Palestinians.

 

Trump agreed fully: “And we have been discussing that, and it is something that is very different, hasn't been discussed before. And it's actually a much bigger deal, a much more important deal, in a sense. It would take in many, many countries and it would cover a very large territory. So I didn't know you were going to be mentioning that, but that's—now that you did, I think it's a terrific thing and I think we have some pretty good cooperation from people that in the past would never, ever have even thought about doing this.”

 

Trump later added more: “Our new concept that we've been discussing actually for a while is something that allows them to show more flexibility than they have in the past because you have a lot bigger canvas to play with. .  .  . I can tell you from the standpoint of Bibi and from the standpoint of Israel, I really believe they want to make a deal and they'd like to see the big deal.” No doubt the Israelis would in principle like to see "the big deal," because it would mean normal diplomatic and economic relations with the Gulf Arab states. Can this work? You won't know until you try, and Trump plans to try.

 

Perhaps the biggest news from the visit and press conference is that Trump is a "peace processor." Instead of abandoning efforts at a peace deal as a waste of time, he plans to jump into them—or at least have his administration, led by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, do so. It's possible that something can be achieved here. The older Israeli-Palestinian "inside-out" approach tends to be all-or-nothing, and when it fails, it produces nothing but anger and disappointment. Perhaps the administration can improve Israeli-Arab relations and cooperation even if a final peace deal is elusive.

 

But optimism should be restrained. Cooperating with Israel is always risky for the Arab states, which is why they do it in secret. It is a potential domestic political problem of great magnitude for them, so why should they risk it? The answer is that it would improve the lot of the Palestinians—but that has never been and is not now a compelling objective for most Arab leaders. It's "nice to have" but not worth any real danger. They are most likely to try it if a strong and reliable American president presses them to do so, over and over again. And that's the rub here. Arab leaders do not yet know if they have a strong and reliable president with whom to work, or whether he is going to make this regional peace deal a major goal that he will pursue over time.

 

Arriving at the White House, Netanyahu barely missed passing national security adviser Michael Flynn on his way out. Who will handle the Middle East at the NSC under the new national security adviser, and what will that person's views be? Who will be the next assistant secretary of state for Near East Affairs? What will be the balance of power among Trump, the new national security adviser, Jim Mattis at Defense, and Rex Tillerson at State? And for the Arabs, the far more critical question: What will be the new administration's real policy toward Iran? One can envision a tough policy on Iran that defends and gratifies the Sunni Gulf states and leads them to cooperate fully on Israeli-Palestinian matters. One can also imagine a policy that they find wanting and that provides little incentive for them to court additional risks. Until they have made a judgment about President Trump and his administration, they will carefully hedge their bets.

 

At the news conference, Netanyahu had a lot more to say about Iran than Trump did. The latter did say, "I will do more to prevent Iran from ever developing—I mean ever—a nuclear weapon," which may suggest an effort to extend the Iran deal negotiated by the Obama administration. But after that opening line, and despite Netan­yahu's repeated mention of Iran, Trump did not utter the word again. This will leave Israel and Arab states wondering where U.S. policy is heading.

 

The embrace of "peace processing" led Trump to reiterate something his administration had said a couple of times recently: Unrestrained Israeli settlement expansion is not a good thing. As Trump put it to Netanyahu, "I'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit." He also said, "I think that the Israelis are going to have to show some flexibility, which is hard, it's hard to do. They're going to have to show the fact that they really want to make a deal" and added, "As with any successful negotiation, both sides will have to make compromises. You know that, right?" This is very vague, but it is enormously helpful to Netanyahu. Trump's election victory was seen by some on Israel's right as opening the gates: Now there could be many new settlements and indeed annexation of parts of the West Bank. Netanyahu, always cautious, has long resisted such proposals, but that would have been much harder for him if Trump embraced such ideas…

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

 

Contents     

      

On Topic Links

 

Trump’s ‘Alt-state’ Solution Suddenly Looks Like the Best Deal for Israelis and Arabs: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Feb. 22, 2017—What could President Trump have possibly meant last week at his press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he said he wasn’t committed to a one- or two-state solution for Israel, and that he was seeking “a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand”?

What is Trump’s Israel Policy?: Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, Feb. 16, 2017—President Trump’s comments at a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a pleasant contrast to the frosty relationship, sometimes devolving into outright hostility, between former President Barack Obama and Netanyahu. However, Trump’s remarks left Middle East experts scratching their heads.

Clear, Clarify, Hold, Build: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 27, 2017—The Spanish viceroys who governed the New World in the 16th and 17th centuries had a saying when it came to the edicts—usually ill-judged and invariably late—from their sovereign across the sea: Obedezco pero no cumplo. I obey but I do not comply. It could be the motto of Donald Trump’s cabinet, at least on the foreign-policy side.

All of Trump’s Executive Actions So Far: Aidan Quigley, Politico, Jan. 25, 2017—President Donald Trump has spent his first days using his executive authority to rewrite American policy and undo a string of decisions made by former president Barack Obama. Here’s a running list of the new president’s executive actions…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLAME ANTISEMITES FOR RISING ANTISEMITISM, NOT ISRAEL OR TRUMP

What’s Behind the Rash of Anti-Semitic Incidents?: Ian Tuttle, National Review, Feb. 23, 2017— On Monday, for the fourth time since the beginning of the year, bomb threats shut down multiple Jewish Community Centers across the country.

Israel Does Not Cause Anti-Semitism: Alan M. Dershowitz, Algemeiner, Feb. 22, 2017— In a recent letter to the New York Times, the current Earl of Balfour, Roderick Balfour, argued that it is Israel’s fault that there is “growing anti-Semitism around the world.”

Jews Under Assault in Europe: Robbie Travers, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 22, 2017— Antonio Tajani, the new President of the European Parliament, has made a bold opening statement of intent: "No Jew should be forced to leave Europe."

Why a New Academic Discipline of Post-Holocaust Studies Should Be Established and What Its Content Should Be: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, JCPA, Feb. 22, 2017— Scholarship about the Holocaust has come a long way…

 

On Topic Links

 

The Disturbing History of Vandalizing Jewish Cemeteries: Kayla Epstein, Washington Post, Feb. 21, 2017

What’s Behind Wave of Anti-Semitic Violence in US? Jewish Rabbi Explains One Possible Theory: Jon Street, The Blaze, Feb. 13, 2017

If You Want to Understand Why the Arab World is Such a Disaster you Better Watch This (Video): Israel Video Network, Jan. 31, 2017

Anti-Semitic Incidents in the U.K. Reached All-Time Highs in 2016: Report: Jonathan Zalman, Tablet, Feb. 2, 2017

 

 

WHAT’S BEHIND THE RASH OF ANTI-SEMITIC INCIDENTS?                                                              

Ian Tuttle                                

National Review, Feb. 23, 2017         

 

On Monday, for the fourth time since the beginning of the year, bomb threats shut down multiple Jewish Community Centers across the country. The calls are the latest in a series: Sixty-nine threats have been called into 54 Jewish Community Centers in 27 states and a Canadian province since January 1, according to the JCC Association of North America. Meanwhile, also on Monday, vandals toppled nearly 200 tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis.

 

Anti-Semitism has been on the rise in Europe for several years. In April 2015, Jeffrey Goldberg penned a long essay for The Atlantic entitled “Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?” In the final paragraph, he wrote: “I am predisposed to believe that there is no great future for the Jews in Europe, because evidence to support this belief is accumulating so quickly.” But the prospect of rising anti-Semitism in the United States, which does not share Europe’s tragic history, seems different — and perhaps, for that reason, even more troubling.

 

Taking that increase for granted, commentators have been quick to pin the blame on Donald Trump. After a visit to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture on Tuesday, Trump said in prepared remarks: “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.” This, according to Vox’s Dara Lind, is not nearly enough. “It was a fairly rote condemnation of an attack on a minority group, the sort of thing that presidents do all the time,” Lind wrote. “But despite his claim that he denounces anti-Semitism ‘whenever I get a chance,’ until this point, Trump simply hasn’t.” Lind points to Trump’s dalliance with the alt-right, his initial refusal to disavow former KKK leader David Duke, and his White House’s Holocaust Remembrance Day statement (which made no mention of Jews) to suggest a pattern of silence that has encouraged anti-Semitic violence.

 

But the extent of the increase — let alone Donald Trump’s role in it — remains unclear. The most reliable data on hate crimes comes from the FBI, which shows that the number of people victimized for their religion declined dramatically from 2010 to 2014: from 1,552 victims to 1,140 victims, or by 36 percent. The number of victims of anti-Jewish bias declined similarly: from 1,039 to 648 victims, or by 38 percent. The FBI then records an uptick in 2015, to 1,402 total victims and 730 victims of anti-Jewish bias.

 

The FBI has not released statistics for 2016, without which it is difficult to determine whether we are seeing a trend or a temporary blip, and other indicators further complicate the picture. The Anti-Defamation League, which keeps its own statistics (on “anti-Jewish incidents,” a metric broader than the FBI’s) reported 941 incidents in 2015, a 3 percent increase over 2014. But 2014’s 912 incidents represented a 21 percent increase over 2013. The Gaza war was responsible for much of that surge; the two months of the 2014 military engagement saw 255 separate incidents, compared with 110 during July and August 2013. The sharp spike in anti-Semitic incidents during the Gaza war is noteworthy. It both supports and cuts against the charges being leveled against Trump. The episode reinforces the notion that that short-term news events can occasion violence. But the majority of perpetrators of anti-Semitism during the Gaza war were not the Trump-supporting white supremacists upon whom the recent violence is being blamed.

 

One final set of data is worth considering. In New York City, 28 anti-Semitic hate crimes were reported by the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force between January 1 and February 12, 2017 — more than double the number reported over the same period last year (13). Last year, the city saw a 31 percent increase in hate crimes between January 1 and the beginning of December, including a 115 percent increase in the three weeks following Election Day (43, compared with 20 during the same period the previous year). Mayor Bill de Blasio has not hesitated to blame the president: “You can’t have a candidate for president single out groups of Americans, negatively, and not have some ramifications for that,” de Blasio said in December. “It’s obviously connected to the election.” The number of total hate crimes is likely to hover around 400, which would be the largest total since at least 2008. However, the numbers have fluctuated wildly before this. From 2011 to 2012, hate crimes increased by 54.5 percent (from 242 to 375). Obviously, Donald Trump had nothing to do with this.

 

The parallel ascent of Donald Trump and vile elements of right-wing politics has, indeed, been alarming. Long before the mainstream media became interested, conservative opponents of Trump found themselves targets of a repulsive fringe. A recent report by the Anti-Defamation League, released in October, identified 2.6 million tweets “containing language frequently found in anti-Semitic speech” between August 2015 and July 2016. The top ten most-targeted journalists — among whom were Ben Shapiro, Jonah Goldberg, and Bethany Mandel — accounted for 83 percent of those tweets. I have written on multiple occasions about the moral rot of the alt-right, and lamented the way Trump indulged it. That he chose as his closest adviser Steve Bannon, whose Breitbart trafficked in racial divisiveness, is deeply worrying.

 

However, the hard evidence is not yet in, and responsible commentators would do well to be patient. Regrettably, many on the left have leapt on the news for partisan purposes. Taking a cue from de Blasio and Vox, Keith Ellison, the Minnesota congressman and prospective Democratic National Committee chairman, recently tweeted: “Why has it taken [Donald Trump] so long to even say the word ‘anti-Semitism?’ Perhaps it has something to do with placating his base?” Likewise, some have thrilled to the pronouncement of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect that “the Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.” Its director, Steven Goldstein, called Trump’s statement “pathetic” during a CNN interview on Tuesday evening.

 

Few have bothered to note that the Anne Frank Center describes itself as “a progressive voice for social justice”; that Goldstein has spent the bulk of his career heading Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s statewide organization promoting same-sex marriage; or that the Center has never played any significant part in Holocaust-remembrance activities in the U.S. Likewise, the denunciations of Keith Ellison — who was a longtime member of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, from which he did not distance himself until he ran for Congress in 2006 — ring hollow, as do those from progressives who cheer Linda Sarsour (an organizer of January’s Women’s March who has championed anti-Israel terrorism) or the grotesqueries of the Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) movement…

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

 

Contents

 

ISRAEL DOES NOT CAUSE ANTI-SEMITISM

Alan M. Dershowitz

Gatestone Institute, Feb. 21, 2017

 

In a recent letter to the New York Times, the current Earl of Balfour, Roderick Balfour, argued that it is Israel’s fault that there is “growing anti-Semitism around the world.” Balfour — who is a descendant of Arthur Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary who wrote the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago — wrote the following: “the increasing inability of Israel to address [the condition of Palestinians], coupled with the expansion into Arab territory of the Jewish settlements, are major factors in growing anti-Semitism around the world.” He argued further that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “owes it to the millions of Jews around the world” who suffer antisemitism, to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

 

This well-intentioned but benighted view is particularly ironic, in light of the fact that the Balfour Declaration had, as one of its purposes, to end antisemitism around the world by creating a homeland for the Jewish people. But now the scion of Lord Balfour is arguing that it is Israel that is causing antisemitism. Roderick Balfour’s views are simply wrong, both as a matter of fact and as a matter of morality. Anyone who hates Jews “around the world” because they disagree with the policy of Israel would be ready to hate Jews on the basis of any pretext. Modern-day antisemites, unlike their forbears, need to find excuses for their hatred, and anti-Zionism has become the excuse de jure.

 

To prove the point, let us consider other countries: Has there been growing anti-Chinese feelings around the world as the result of China’s occupation of Tibet? Is there growing hatred of Americans of Turkish background because of Turkey’s unwillingness to end the conflict in Cyprus? Do Europeans of Russian background suffer bigotry because of Russia’s invasion of Crimea?  The answer to all these questions is a resounding no. If Jews are the only group that suffers because of controversial policies by Israel, then the onus lies on the antisemites rather than on the nation-state of the Jewish people.

 

Moreover, Benjamin Netanyahu’s responsibility is to the safety and security of Israelis. Even if it were true that antisemitism is increasing as the result of Israeli policies, no Israeli policy should ever be decided based on the reaction of bigots around the world. Antisemitism, the oldest of bigotries, will persist as long as it is seen to be justified by apologists like Roderick Balfour. Though Balfour does not explicitly justify antisemitism, the entire thrust of his letter is that Jew-hatred is at least understandable in light of Israel’s policies.

 

Balfour doesn’t say a word about the unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to accept Israel’s repeated offers of statehood. From 1938 through 2008, the Palestinians have been offered and have repeatedly rejected agreements that would have given them statehood. Even today, the Palestinian leadership refuses to accept Netanyahu’s offer to sit down and negotiate a final status agreement without any pre-conditions. Nor does Balfour mention Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorists groups that constantly threaten Israel, along with Iran’s publicly declared determination to destroy the state that Lord Balfour helped to create. It’s all Israel’s fault, according to Balfour, and the resulting increase in antisemitism is Israel’s fault, as well.

 

Roderick Balfour ends his letter by essentially joining the boycott movement against Israel. He has declared his unwillingness to participate in the Centenary Celebration of the Balfour Declaration, until and unless Israel takes unilateral action to end the conflict. So be it. I am confident that the author of the Balfour Declaration would have willingly participated in this celebration, recognizing that no country in history has ever contributed more to the world – in terms of medical, technological, environmental and other innovations — in so short a period of time (69 years) than has Israel. Nor has any country, faced with comparable threats, ever been more generous in its offers of peace, more committed to the Rule of Law or more protective of civilians who are used as human shields by those who attack its own civilians.

 

So let the Celebration of the Balfour Declaration go forward without the participation of Roderick Balfour. Let Israel continue to offer a peaceful resolution to its conflict with the Palestinians. And let the Palestinians finally come to the bargaining table, and recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people in the way that the Balfour Declaration intended.

 

Contents

 

JEWS UNDER ASSAULT IN EUROPE

Robbie Travers

Gatestone Institute, Feb. 22, 2017

 

Antonio Tajani, the new President of the European Parliament, has made a bold opening statement of intent: "No Jew should be forced to leave Europe." While this is an admirable position to hold, it sadly could not be farther from the truth. The poison of anti-Semitism festers in Europe once again. Europe is seeing yet again another rise in the number of Jews leaving the continent. Jonathan Boyd, Executive Director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research (IJPR), notes that the number of Jews leaving France is "unprecedented."

 

The results of the study show that 4% of the French and Belgian Jewish populations had emigrated those countries to reside in Israel. The IJPR attributes this demographic transformation to the inflow of migrants from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. Is this really surprising? Sadly, when individuals come from nations that have culturally a high dislike of Jews, many of these immigrants might hold anti-Semitic views that eventually get spread.

 

In France, anti-Semitic incidents more than doubled between 2014 and 2015, from 423 reported incidents to 851. From January to July, anti-Semitic incidents in the UK increased by 11% according to the UK's Common Security Trust. And this prejudice is increasing. With such spikes in Jew-hatred, is it surprising that Jews are leaving Europe? Equally concerning is Europe's blindness to this anti-Semitism.

 

Recently, a German court decided that the firebombing of a synagogue in Wuppertal was only the expression of "anti-Israeli sentiment." Really? Why, then, was not the Israeli embassy attacked rather than a synagogue whose worshippers presumably were not Israeli? The worshippers were German. What happened in the German court was pure Nazi-think: the most undisguised anti-Semitism: that Jews supposedly are not Germans. The old wine of pure anti-Semitism is now dressed up in new "politically correct" bottles of criticism of Israel. At heart, however, it is your grandmother's same old Jew-hate, much of it still based on racist tropes. The Jews in that firebombed synagogue were German nationals and may have had absolutely no links to Israel. They do however, have a connection to Judaism.

 

The German court actually ruled that attacking a place where Jews worship is somehow different from attacking Jews. Your pet slug would not believe that. Meanwhile, another German Court again rejected an action against your friendly neighborhood "sharia police." In Germany, it seems, burning down synagogues is merely "anti-Israeli" even if there are no Israelis there, but "police" who use Islamic sharia law — without legal authority and within a system of law that persecutes women, Christians, Jews and others — are acceptable and legal. And people cannot understand why Jews are leaving Europe?

 

Even though German authorities evidently struggle to identify anti-Semitism, the Israeli government claims there has been a 50% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Germany just since 2015. Jew-hatred in Europe is spreading to the workplace and the hubs of supposedly enlightened discourse: universities. At Goldsmith's University, students scrawled on a public feedback board that they wanted "No more David Hirsch, no more Zionism — a bitter Jew." The message and tone here is clear: Jews are not welcome. The suggestion that academics would also not be welcome because of their religion is deeply worrying and should be unacceptable.

 

Goldsmith's have since condemned the action, but it is telling that someone felt he could comfortably post such anti-Jewish abuse. The anti-Semitism facing Jews at UK universities led the Baroness Deech to declare British University campuses "no-go zones" for Jews. Students at Exeter University wear T-shirts glorifying the Holocaust; the Labour Party Chair at Oxford University commendably resigned over members calling Auschwitz a "cash cow" and mocking the mourners of the Paris terrorist attacks; SOAS University is under investigation for lectures likening Zionism to Nazism and delusionally arguing that it was Zionists who were conspiring to increase anti-Semitism to encourage Jews to leave the UK and go to Israel.

 

The Israeli government also believes there was an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in Britain by 62%. While it is praiseworthy that UK Prime Minister Theresa May has backed and adopted a new definition of anti-Semitism to attempt to deal with the rising hate crime, simply defining and identifying anti-Semitism is only the start. It is also necessary to start tackling the anti-Semitic attitudes of Islamic communities across Europe and the attitudes of immigrants coming to our nations. What needs to be made clear is that you are welcome here as long as you respect Jews, Christians and all others, as well.

 

Contents                                                               

WHY A NEW ACADEMIC DISCIPLINE OF POST-HOLOCAUST STUDIES

SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED AND WHAT ITS CONTENT SHOULD BE

  Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

JCPA, Feb. 22, 2017

 

Scholarship about the Holocaust has come a long way since Gerhard Reitlinger wrote in 1953 The Final Solution: The Attempt to Exterminate the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 and since Raul Hilberg wrote his 1961 seminal book The Destruction of the European Jews. It took several decades after the end of World War II until scholars realized that there was a need for a new multidisciplinary area of study called Holocaust studies or Holocaust research. By now this scholarly field has been consolidated for at least twenty-five years. Previously there had been individual publications on various aspects of the Holocaust in several disciplines. These included history, politics, theology, law, ethics, psychology, literature, and many others. However, for many years the study of the Holocaust was not viewed as a single multidisciplinary area.

 

Describing and analyzing the Holocaust, a unique genocide, requires many disciplines. A full understanding of how to interpret the events of the Holocaust, however, is obtainable only when these studies are combined into a single field of scholarship. Nowadays, whether standing alone or combined with genocide studies, Holocaust research is a well-established international field of study, most certainly among its practitioners. It has become an academic discipline in itself. There is also a wide range of books and studies in many fields on the impact of the Holocaust on postwar societies. Some of these are considered part of Holocaust studies, others not necessarily. It is my recommendation here that post-Holocaust studies become a new field of research.

 

There are also very significant individual impacts of the Holocaust in the post-Holocaust era. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a direct result of the Holocaust as is the United Nations Genocide Convention. Admittedly the two areas of Holocaust studies and post-Holocaust studies are linked and somewhat interwoven. Their overlap, however, is far smaller than what separates them. Presenting an overview of post-Holocaust studies is at this stage impossible. The best one can do is offer a synopsis of issues that could be included in the post-Holocaust field. The hope is that such an approach will help initiate the systematic study of the area. Furthermore, due to the huge number of more or less isolated publications in the field of post-Holocaust studies, any article on the overall subject at this stage is likely to be fragmented as well as very incomplete. Nor can it pretend to be a critical analysis. That will require many years of focused research.

 

One prominent multidisciplinary subject that belongs to post-Holocaust studies concerns survivors and their experience in postwar societies. The wartime history of survivors is part of Holocaust studies. Yet their postwar migration, how survivors were accepted in the societies they returned to or where they lived as immigrants, the way in which they rebuilt their lives, the degree to which they came back from the abyss, their contribution to these societies, the treatment of their traumas, and the description of the organizations that collect their testimonies are all topics whose place is in post-Holocaust studies.

 

Other topics in this broad category include the study of child survivors. These – and I am one of them – have become the last witnesses of Nazi persecution. Many of the pupils of postwar Jewish schools in countries occupied by the Germans were child survivors. As a result, it is likely that the atmosphere in Jewish schools in the postwar period differed significantly from other schools in those countries – even more so than in the case of Jewish schools before the war. Children who lived in German camps for Displaced Persons had a very different youth from German children. It is somewhat ironic that children in DP camps went to an entirely Jewish school when outside these camps hardly any Jews remained in Germany.

 

Another related topic concerns organizations that have been established to provide support for second-generation Holocaust survivors. An example is the Sons and Daughters of Jewish Deportees established by French lawyer Serge Klarsfeld. Comparable organizations exist in several other countries. Yet is what Elie Wiesel said about the second generation true – that by listening to witnesses one becomes a witness? And if so, are some memories of child survivors what they lived through or what they heard?…

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

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On Topic Links

 

The Disturbing History of Vandalizing Jewish Cemeteries: Kayla Epstein, Washington Post, Feb. 21, 2017—The vandalism of a Jewish cemetery in Missouri has caused an uproar after more than 170 headstones were toppled at the historical burial site. There had been several waves of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers in recent weeks, but the recent acts against the cemetery have raised serious alarm and garnered the most prominent media attention yet.

What’s Behind Wave of Anti-Semitic Violence in US? Jewish Rabbi Explains One Possible Theory: Jon Street, The Blaze, Feb. 13, 2017—In the last month alone, at least 27 Jewish Community Centers in cities across the country, spanning 17 states, received calls with bomb threats, forcing them to evacuate their facilities and disrupting their day-to-day lives. Then, earlier this week, New York City subway passengers noticed anti-semitic graffiti scrawled onto the walls and doors of at least one train.

If You Want to Understand Why the Arab World is Such a Disaster you Better Watch This (Video): Israel Video Network, Jan. 31, 2017—Why is the Arab world sliding into an even deeper abyss of hatred and corruption? Hatred of Israel by the Arab world is based on a deep-seated mindset of anti-semitism. Bret Stephens points out brilliantly that social and political decline follow massive anti-semitic laws enacted in a country. Even Hitler may very well have won the race to build the bomb had he not exiled or killed all of the Jewish scientists. Anti-Semitism has a boomerang effect on the people who practice it.

Anti-Semitic Incidents in the U.K. Reached All-Time Highs in 2016: Report: Jonathan Zalman, Tablet, Feb. 2, 2017—A troubling and perhaps unsurprising report from a British anti-Semitism watchdog released Thursday shows that 1,309 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in 2016, a high since Community Security Trust began recording and compiling these reports, in 1984.

 

 

ISRAEL BECOMES HIGH-TECH MILITARY “SUPERPOWER” & TOP WEAPONS EXPORTER

Why Israel Has the Most Technologically Advanced Military on Earth: Yaakov Katz, New York Post, Jan. 29, 2017— In 1950, just two years after the state of Israel was founded, the country’s first commercial delegation set off for South America.

Myth: Israel Is the Largest Beneficiary of US Military Aid: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Feb. 10, 2017— Countless articles discrediting Israel (as well as many other better-intentioned articles) ask how it is that a country as small as Israel receives the bulk of US military aid.

Global Arms Sales at Highest Level Since Cold War: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2017— Global arms sales have skyrocketed in the last five years, reaching their highest level since the Cold War in sales to the Middle East, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

After Gaza Flare-Up, Ministers Hear War Drums as Army Seeks Return to Calm: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Feb. 7, 2017— Two Israeli ministers said another war in Gaza is on Israel’s horizon on Tuesday…

 

On Topic Links

 

Can Israel Rely On Foreign Peacekeepers And Security Guarantees? (Video): Yoram Ettinger, Youtube, Feb. 8, 2017

IDF Trains For Doomsday Scenario Along Gaza Border: Jewish Press, Jan. 26, 2017

Facing New Challenges: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Feb. 10, 2017

The Fast Track to Armageddon: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 13, 2017

 

 

WHY ISRAEL HAS THE MOST TECHNOLOGICALLY

ADVANCED MILITARY ON EARTH                                       

Yaakov Katz

                                       New York Post, Jan. 29, 2017

                       

In 1950, just two years after the state of Israel was founded, the country’s first commercial delegation set off for South America. Israel desperately needed trading partners. Unlike its Arab adversaries, Israel did not have natural resources to fund its economy. There was no oil or minerals. Nothing. The delegation held a couple of meetings but was mostly met with laughs. The Israelis were trying to sell oranges, kerosene stove tops and fake teeth. For countries like Argentina, which grew its own oranges and was connected to the electrical grid, the products were pretty useless.

 

It’s hard to imagine this is what Israeli exports looked like a mere 67 years ago. Today, Israel is a high-tech superpower and one of the world’s top weapons exporters with approximately $6.5 billion in annual arms sales. Since 1985, for example, Israel is the world’s largest exporter of drones, responsible for about 60 percent of the global market, trailed by the US, whose market share is under 25 percent. Its customers are everywhere — Russia, South Korea, Australia, France, Germany and Brazil. In 2010, for example, five NATO countries were flying Israeli drones in Afghanistan. How did this happen? How did Israel, a country not yet even 70 years old, become a superpower with one of the most technologically advanced militaries in the world that is changing the way modern wars are fought?

 

The answer, I believe, is a combination of a number of national characteristics unique to Israel. First, despite Israel’s small size, about 4.5 percent of its GDP is spent on research and development, almost twice the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development average. Of that amount, about 30 percent goes to products of a military nature. By comparison, only 2 percent of German R&D and 17 percent of the US R&D is for the military. Another major contribution is the culture of innovation and creativity in Israel. Israelis are more willing to take risks than other nations. They get this from their compulsory military service during which they are tasked, at a young age, to carry out missions often with deadly consequences. While Israeli 19-year-olds embark on operations behind enemy lines, their Western counterparts can be found in the safety of their college dormitories.

 

Lastly, Israel has been in a perpetual state of conflict since its inception, fighting a war almost every decade. This reality, of having your back up against the wall, sharpens the mind. It forces Israelis to be creative and come up with innovative ways and weapons to survive. This is the Israel story …

 

Robotic border patrols: The Guardium is a part of a new category of robotic weapons known as Unmanned Ground Vehicles or UGVs. Israel is the first country in the world using these robots to replace soldiers on missions like border patrols. Already, Guardium UGVs are deployed along Israel’s border with Syria in the north and the Gaza Strip in the south. The Guardium is based on a Tomcar dune-buggy-like vehicle and equipped with a range of sensors, cameras and weapons. It can be driven by a soldier sitting in a command center miles away or receive a pre-designated route for its patrol, making it completely autonomous.

 

The increasing use of robots by the Israel Defense Forces is part of a larger strategy to minimize risk to soldiers when possible. In addition, soldiers require breaks, food and water. All a Guardium needs is a full tank of gas. Other UGVs in use by the IDF include the Segev, which is based on a Ford F-350 pickup truck.

 

Facing terrorists who use tunnels to infiltrate into Israel from places like the Gaza Strip, Israel is also relying on UGVs like robotic snakes to slither their way into underground passageways and enemy headquarters. The robots will then map out the structures, giving soldiers an accurate picture of a battle area before the place is stormed. The same is happening at sea. Israeli defense contractor Rafael has developed an unmanned patrol ship called Protector which is being used by Israel to protect its strategic ports and patrol the country’s long Mediterranean coastline.

 

The Arrow anti-missile program: In 2000, the Israeli air force received its first operational Arrow missile battery, making Israel the first country in the world with an operational system that could shoot down incoming enemy missiles. The idea to create the Arrow was born in the mid-1980s after President Ronald Reagan floated his Star Wars plan and asked America’s allies to partner in developing systems that could protect the country from Soviet nuclear missiles.

 

The Arrow was a revolutionary idea. Due to Israel’s small size and lack of territory, all ballistic missiles deployed in the region — Syria, Iraq and Iran — can reach anywhere within the country and pose a strategic and possibly even existential threat. Israel, the developers argued, needed a system that could shoot down enemy missiles over neighboring countries and provide overall protection for the tiny Jewish state. The program had its ups and downs but got a huge boost in funding after the First Gulf War in 1991, when Saddam Hussein fired 39 Scuds into Israel, paralyzing the country and forcing millions of Israelis into bomb shelters with their gas masks.

 

The Arrow was just the beginning. Today, Israel has the Arrow, which is partially funded by the United States, to intercept long-range ballistic missiles, David’s Sling to intercept medium-range rockets and cruise missiles as well as the combat-proven Iron Dome, which has intercepted hundreds of Katyusha rockets fired from the Gaza Strip in recent years. Israel is the only country in the world that has used missile defense systems in times of war. These systems do more than just save lives. They also give the country’s leadership “diplomatic maneuverability,” the opportunity to think and strategize before retaliating against rocket attacks. While other countries have also invested in missile defense, none has created a multi-tier architecture like Israel….

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

 

 

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MYTH: ISRAEL IS THE LARGEST BENEFICIARY OF US MILITARY AID

Prof. Hillel Frisch

BESA, Feb. 10, 2017

 

Countless articles discrediting Israel (as well as many other better-intentioned articles) ask how it is that a country as small as Israel receives the bulk of US military aid. Israel receives 55%, or $US3.1 billion per year, followed by Egypt, which receives 23%. This largesse comes at the expense, so it is claimed, of other equal or more important allies, such as Germany, Japan, and South Korea. The complaint conjures the specter of an all-powerful Israel lobby that has turned the US Congress into its pawn. The response to the charge is simple: Israel is not even a major beneficiary of American military aid. The numerical figure reflects official direct US military aid, but is almost meaningless compared to the real costs and benefits of US military aid – which include, above all, American boots on the ground in the host states.

 

There are 150,500 American troops stationed in seventy countries around the globe. This costs the American taxpayer an annual $US85-100 billion, according to David Vine, a professor at American University and author of a book on the subject. In other words, 800-1,000 American soldiers stationed abroad represent US$565-665 million of aid to the country in which they are located.

 

Once the real costs are calculated, the largest aid recipient is revealed to be Japan, where 48,828 US military personnel are stationed. This translates into a US military aid package of over US$27 billion (calculated according to Vine’s lower estimation). Germany, with 37,704 US troops on its soil, receives aid equivalent to around US$21 billion; South Korea, with 27,553 US troops, receives over US$15 billion; and Italy receives at least US$6 billion. If Vine’s estimate is correct, Japan’s US military aid package is nine times larger than that of Israel, Germany’s is seven times larger, and Italy’s is twice as large. The multipliers are even greater for Egypt. Even the Lilliputian Gulf states, Kuwait and Bahrain, whose American bases are home to over 5,000 US military personnel apiece, receive military aid almost equal to what Israel receives.

 

Yet even these figures grossly underestimate the total costs of US aid to its allies. The cost of maintaining troops abroad does not reflect the considerable expense, deeply buried in classified US military expenditure figures, of numerous US air and sea patrols. Nor does it reflect the high cost of joint ground, air, and maritime exercises with host countries (events only grudgingly acknowledged on NATO’s official site). US air and naval forces constantly patrol the Northern, Baltic, and China Seas to protect American allies in Europe and in the Pacific – at American expense. Glimpses of the scale of these operations are afforded by incidents like the shadowing of a Russian ship in the Baltics, near run-ins between Chinese Coast Guard ships and US Navy ships dispatched to challenge Chinese claims in the South China Sea, and near collisions between US Air Force planes and their Chinese counterparts in the same area.

 

In striking contrast, no US plane has ever flown to protect Israel’s airspace. No US Navy ship patrols to protect Israel’s coast. And most importantly, no US military personnel are put at risk to ensure Israel’s safety. In Japan, South Korea, Germany, Kuwait, Qatar, the Baltic states, Poland, and elsewhere, US troops are a vulnerable trip-wire. It is hoped that their presence will deter attack, but there is never any assurance that an attack will not take place. Should such an attack occur, it will no doubt cost American lives.

 

This cannot happen in Israel, which defends its own turf with its own troops. There is no danger that in Israel, the US might find itself embroiled in wars like those it waged in Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of US$4 trillion, according to Linda J. Bilmes, a public policy professor and Harvard University researcher.

 

Japan’s presence at the top of the list of US military aid recipients is both understandable and debatable. It is understandable because Japan is critical to US national security in terms of maintaining freedom of the seas and containing a rising China. It is debatable because Japan is a rich country that ought to pay for the US troops stationed within it – or in lieu of that, to significantly strengthen its own army. At present, the Japanese army numbers close to 250,000, but it is facing the rapidly expanding military power of its main adversary, China. A similar case can be made with regard to Germany, both in terms of its wealth and its contribution towards meeting the Russian threat.

 

What is incomprehensible is not why Israel receives so much US military aid, but why Japan has received nine times more aid than Israel does. This is a curious proportion given the relative power Israel possesses in the Middle East and its potential to advance vital US security interests in times of crisis, compared to the force maintained by Japan relative to China. Ever since the Turkish parliament’s decision in March 2003 not to join the US-led coalition, and the Turkish government’s refusal to allow movement of American troops across its borders, Israel has been America’s sole ally between Cyprus and India with a strategic air force and (albeit small) rapid force deployment capabilities to counter major threats to vital US interests.

 

It takes little imagination to envision these potential threats. Iran might decide to occupy Bahrain, which has a Shiite majority seriously at odds with the ruling Sunni monarchy. It might take over the United Arab Emirates, which plays a major role in the air offensive against the Houthis, Iran’s proxies in the war in Yemen. There might be a combined Syrian and Iraqi bid to destabilize Sunni Jordan, in the event that both states subdue their Sunni rebels. Any of these moves would threaten vital energy supplies to the US and its allies. Only Israel can be depended upon completely to provide bases and utilities for a US response and to participate in the effort if needed.

 

The politicians, pundits, and IR scholars who attack Israel and the Israeli lobby for extracting the lion’s share of US military aid from a gullible Congress know full well that this is not true. Israel receives a small fraction of the real outlays of military aid the US indirectly gives its allies and other countries. These experts also know that 74% of military aid to Israel was spent on American arms, equipment, and services. Under the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding, that figure will be changed to 100%. The experts simply cite the wrong figures.

 

The US is now led by a businessman president who knows his dollars and cents. He has been adamant about the need to curb free-riding by the large recipients of real US aid. He will, one hopes, appreciate the security bargain the US has with Israel – a country that not only shares many common values with the US, but can make a meaningful contribution to American vital interests with no trip-wires attached.

 

 

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GLOBAL ARMS SALES AT HIGHEST LEVEL SINCE COLD WAR

Anna Ahronheim

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 21, 2017

 

Global arms sales have skyrocketed in the last five years, reaching their highest level since the Cold War in sales to the Middle East, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says the volume of international weapons transfers has “grown continuously since 2004 and increased by 8.4% between 2007-11 and 2012-2016,” with the flow of arms to the Middle East, Asia and Oceania spiking in part due to conflicts raging in the Middle East and tensions in the South China Sea.

 

The five biggest exporters – the US, Russia, China, France and Germany – accounted for 74 percent of the total volume of arms exports. France and Germany accounted for 6% and 5.6% respectively. But the report stated the low rate of French arms exports would likely end due to a series of major defense contracts signed in the past five years. Russia is reported to have accounted for 23% of global exports between 2012–16, with 70% of its arms exports going to four countries: India, Vietnam, China and Algeria. Of all the arms exported by the United States, almost half ended up in the Middle East, with the main buyers being Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Turkey.

 

“The USA supplies major arms to at least 100 countries around the world – significantly more than any other supplier state”, said Dr. Aude Fleurant, director of the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Program. “Both advanced strike aircraft with cruise missiles and other precision-guided munitions and the latest generation air and missile defense systems account for a significant share of US arms exports,” he said. According to the report, arms imports jumped by 86% between 2012 and 2016 in the Middle East, accounting for 29% of global arms purchases, almost double the previous five-year period studied.

 

Saudi Arabia was the world’s second largest arms importer after India, with an increase of 212% compared to the previous five-year period, while imports by Qatar rose by 245%. According to senior SIPRI researcher Pieter Wezeman, “over the past five years, most states in the Middle East have turned primarily to the USA and Europe in their accelerated pursuit of advanced military capabilities. Despite low oil prices, countries in the region continued to order more weapons in 2016, perceiving them as crucial tools for dealing with conflicts and regional tensions.”

 

Several countries in the Middle East are involved in armed conflicts, such as the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen and in Syria, and tensions remain among them and with Iran. Wezeman told The Jerusalem Post that, due to the continuing arms embargo prohibiting states from exporting arms to Iran, “there is major asymmetry when comparing Iran to other countries in the region, like the rich Gulf countries.” However, Tehran’s arms industry produces weapons that are ending up in the hands of Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthi rebels in Yemen, he said.

 

According to Wezeman, while Israel is “out of the league of major importers, it is one of the larger arms exporters,” ranking 10th of all countries. Israel belongs to a group of smaller countries that plays a large role in arms trade, such as Germany or France, Wezeman told the Post, adding that, while Israel has not been a major arms importer in the past five years, by next year “we will see a change, especially due to the F-35 program.” Israel is set to receive a total of 50 of the stealth fighters, two full squadrons, by 2022. Of the MOU signed between Washington and Jerusalem in September that provides Israel with $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade, at least $7 billion of the MOU has been earmarked for purchasing the F-35s…

 

India was reported by SIPRI to be the world’s largest importer of major arms in 2012-16, accounting for 13 percent of the global total – far greater than regional rivals China and Pakistan. “With no regional arms control instruments in place, states in Asia continue to expand their arsenals,” said Wezeman, adding that “while China is increasingly able to substitute arms imports with indigenous products, India remains dependent on weapons technology from many willing suppliers, including Russia, the US, European states, Israel and South Korea.” Israel has been supplying India with various weapons systems, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles over the last few years, making India one of Israel’s largest buyers of military hardware. Over the last five years defense trade between the two countries has averaged annual sales worth more than $1 billion…

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

                                                                           

 

Contents

 

AFTER GAZA FLARE-UP, MINISTERS HEAR WAR DRUMS

AS ARMY SEEKS RETURN TO CALM

 Judah Ari Gross

           Times of Israel, Feb. 7, 2017

 

Two Israeli ministers said another war in Gaza is on Israel’s horizon on Tuesday, following a tense day of IDF air and tank strikes in response to a rocket attack from the Strip on Monday morning, but the army stressed it had no interest in further conflict on the southern front. Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday that a war was “a matter of when, not if…In Gaza, they are continuing to threaten us and try to harm us,” Bennett said at a ceremony in southern Israel commemorating the death of an Israeli student killed by Hamas rocket fire in 2005. “Only with a total victory over our enemy will we put an end to this,” Bennett added.

 

In a Tuesday morning interview on Army Radio, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a former general, also said there was a chance of escalation and conflict with the Hamas terrorist group later this year. “The [current] reality, in my assessment, might lead to a situation in which Hamas is drawn to escalation in the spring or the summer,” said Galant, a former head of the army’s Southern Command. Galant’s predictions have not always been accurate. In April 2016, in another Army Radio interview, the minister predicted a war in Gaza that summer as well, but no such conflict occurred.

 

The IDF, meanwhile, has sought to calm some of the tensions surrounding the Gaza Strip. “We have no interest in an escalation of violence, but are determined to fulfill our obligation and protect the people of Israel from attacks originating in Gaza,” army spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told The Times of Israel

 

In response to the IDF strikes, the Hamas terrorist group said Monday it holds Israel “fully” responsible for any fallout or escalation in hostilities between the two sides. Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem also called on regional and international authorities to curb Israel’s “aggression.” On Monday morning, a rocket was fired from northern Gaza at Israel, striking an open field south of the city of Ashkelon. Later in the day, an IDF patrol was also fired upon near the security fence surrounding the coastal enclave. No Israelis were injured in the attacks. In response, the army targeted at least eight Hamas positions in the Strip, with both airstrikes and tank shellings. Two Palestinians were reportedly injured by shrapnel to an unknown degree, according to the Gaza health ministry.

 

The army said its strikes were in response not only to Monday’s rocket attack and gunfire, but also to “other incidents from Gaza in the last month.” This was a reference to smaller-scale incidents that have occurred along the security fence surrounding the Strip. Following the 2014 Gaza war, which aimed to stem rocket fire from the Strip against Israeli towns, the rate of such attacks dwindled to, on average, one or two missiles per month. These rockets have been launched mainly by radical Salafist groups. But Israel sees Hamas, which has ruled the Strip for the past 10 years, as ultimately responsible for any any attacks coming from Gaza…

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

 

Contents          

 

On Topic Links

 

Can Israel Rely On Foreign Peacekeepers And Security Guarantees? (Video): Yoram Ettinger, Youtube, Feb. 8, 2017

IDF Trains For Doomsday Scenario Along Gaza Border: Jewish Press, Jan. 26, 2017—The following is a report from the IDF blog, which described a massive civil defense and military drill that included an elementary school along the southern border with Gaza on Wednesday.

Facing New Challenges: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Feb. 10, 2017—Ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington next week and his Feb. 15 meeting with President Donald Trump, the differences between the Israeli Right and Left's worldviews, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue, has become more poignant.

The Fast Track to Armageddon: Louis Rene Beres, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 13, 2017—When all pertinent factors are taken into account, U.S. President Donald Trump could sometime undertake more-or-less selective military action against Iran. In response, the Islamic Republic – then having absolutely no meaningful option to launching at least certain forms of armed reprisal – would target American military forces in the region and/or carefully chosen Israeli targets.

 

NEW WHITE HOUSE MIDDLE EAST POLICY REJECTS OBAMA’S MISGUIDED APPROACH

Trump Isn’t Repeating Obama’s Middle East Mistakes: Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, Feb. 3, 2017— By the end of his second week in office, President Donald Trump has discovered it is actually possible for him to do something that garners applause from the mainstream media.

Russia's Mideast Dominance Growing: Dr. Netanel Avneri, Israel Hayom, Jan. 31, 2017— The Middle East has experienced firsthand Russia's significantly growing influence on the global state of affairs, as a result of the rise of the Islamic State group and general instability in the region.

Sunni States' Military Spending Sprees Could Fall to Radical Islamists: Yaakov Lappin, IPT, Feb. 7, 2017— Faced with an array of developing threats to their stability and survival, Sunni Arab states have gone on an unprecedented military spending spree…

The Six-Day War Was a Watershed in Middle Eastern History: Asher Susser, Fathom, Spring, 2017 — The 1967 War was a watershed in Middle Eastern history.

 

On Topic Links

 

U.S., Middle East Allies Explore Arab Military Coalition: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15, 2017

Trump, China, and the Middle East: Roie Yellinek, BESA, Feb. 7, 2017

China and the Middle East – a Rapidly Changing Picture: Tim Collard, China.org, Feb. 8, 2017

How the World Turned Against Israel: an Interview with Joshua Muravchik: Fathom, Autumn, 2014

 

 

TRUMP ISN’T REPEATING OBAMA’S MIDDLE EAST MISTAKES                                               

Jonathan S. Tobin

           National Review, Feb. 3, 2017

                       

By the end of his second week in office, President Donald Trump has discovered it is actually possible for him to do something that garners applause from the mainstream media. Though Democrats seem more interested in futile gestures of “resistance” to his government than in normal opposition, all Trump had to do to gain a modicum of respect from the New York Times and other denizens of the liberal echo chamber was to preserve rather than reject the policies of his predecessor. Or at least that was how the Times and the talking heads on CNN and MSNBC perceived the new administration’s statements about Israel, Iran, and Russia this week. In reality, the claim that, as the front-page headline in Friday’s Times put it, “Trump Reverts to Pillars of Obama Foreign Policy,” is actually dead wrong when applied to the Middle East.

 

The Times story treated administration statements about Israeli settlements, sanctions against Iran, and Russian aggression against Ukraine as proof that Trump was backing away from efforts to reverse President Obama’s policies. The jury is still out on what direction the administration will take toward Russia, though this week’s statements from U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley signaled the administration’s continued opposition to Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine, which should give hope to those who believe the president’s crush on Vladimir Putin needs to be nipped in the bud.

 

With respect to the Middle East, however, the effort to interpret administration statements as an embrace of Obama’s policies — namely his unprecedented pressure on Israel and his desire for détente with Iran — are simply false. The argument that Trump is embracing Obama’s approach centers on one statement from White House press secretary Sean Spicer: While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful. That can be reasonably interpreted as opposing the creation of new Jewish settlements in the West Bank. But its first clause is a complete and total rejection of the repeated assertions of both Obama and former secretary of state John Kerry that settlements are the primary obstacle in the way of a peace deal.

 

Spicer’s words are actually a declaration that Trump is embracing the terms of President George W. Bush’s 2004 letter to the Israeli government, in which Bush said that changes on the ground since 1967 would have to be taken into account in any peace agreement. In practice, Bush made it clear that meant Israel would keep parts of Eastern Jerusalem as well as the major settlement blocs erected near the 1967 lines, where more than 80 percent of West Bank settlers live. Just as important, he signaled that new construction in those areas would not be considered an issue by the United States. Bush’s position was explicitly rejected by Obama, who consistently blamed Israel for the failure of his efforts to broker peace no matter what the Palestinians did, and advanced the belief that 40-year-old Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem and the blocs were just as “illegal” as the most remote hilltop settlement in the middle of the West Bank.

 

As to the question of “new settlements,” according to the Obama administration, Israel never stopped building them in vast numbers. Indeed, in December Obama’s deputy National Security Council adviser actually defended the administration’s decision to allow a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israel to pass by claiming that the Israelis had been constructing “tens of thousands” of new settlements. The claim was, of course, rubbish.

 

In fact, there are only approximately 230 settlements in the West Bank including those unauthorized by Israeli law. When Israel’s critics speak of its government’s building “new settlements,” they are referring to the erection of new houses or apartments in existing communities. So the announcement this week that Israel is building several-hundred new homes in Jerusalem and West Bank settlements does not actually fall under Spicer’s definition of construction that “may not be helpful” to the efforts toward a peace deal. The new administration appears to understand, as Obama never did, that the biggest obstacle to peace is the Palestinians…

 

On Iran, those arguing that Trump has come around to Obama’s point of view are on even shakier ground. According to the Times, Trump’s decision to impose new sanctions on Iran for its violations of U.N. resolutions forbidding them to test ballistic missiles is proof that he is reverting to one of the “pillars” of Obama’s strategy. Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, however, was contingent on America’s agreeing to dismantle international sanctions. And while Trump has not torn up the deal — a move that would involve its other signatories — he has pledged to try to enforce it more strictly than Obama, and he appears determined to hold the Iranians accountable for non-nuclear misbehavior such as their support for international terrorism.

 

While Trump has not yet moved the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as he promised during the campaign, he has already made it clear that Obama’s quest for more “daylight” between the two allies is over. Only someone who expects Trump to take positions to the right of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on settlements and the two-state solution — Netanyahu has restrained the growth of the former and publicly backs the latter — could characterize the new administration’s policies as being reminiscent of Obama’s.

 

Predicting what Donald Trump will ultimately do in the Middle East or anywhere else is a fool’s errand. But if there is any one overarching theme to his foreign policy it is a rejection of his predecessor’s approach. Trump has already shown an understanding that Obama’s misguided Middle East preoccupations weakened the U.S. position and made the region a more dangerous place. He may make mistakes of his own in the next four years, but it is highly unlikely that he will repeat those of his predecessor.

 

 

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RUSSIA'S MIDEAST DOMINANCE GROWING

Dr. Netanel Avneri

Israel Hayom, Jan. 31, 2017

 

The Middle East has experienced firsthand Russia's significantly growing influence on the global state of affairs, as a result of the rise of the Islamic State group and general instability in the region. The moral and symbolic victory in Syria's "Stalingrad" — the battle over Aleppo — has elevated the image of an aggressive Russia in the region and around the world. Conversely, the steps the Russians are taking toward mediating peace make it clear they are the ones who call the shots in the country.

 

First, Russia worked with Turkey, which supports the Sunni opposition forces, to advance a cease-fire deal across Syria (with the exception of the war on Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly the Nusra Front) that included a humanitarian passageway in eastern Aleppo to allow the exit of civilians and rebels. As of today, Russian military police are the ones preventing sectarian violence by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Iranian and Shiite adjuncts toward Sunni citizens. Moreover, Russia was the first to endorse the Astana peace conference between the Assad regime and representatives from the opposition in Kazakhstan earlier this month. If it were up to Assad and the Iranians, there would not be peace talks but a settling of scores, but the Russian interest in Syria is the deciding factor, and it is based on economic and strategic, not ethnic, interests.

 

As it works to implement peace initiatives, Moscow has increased the number of attack aircraft in the country. There is evidence of work to expand its aircraft and naval bases on the Syrian coast despite Russia's promise to decrease its military presence there. In Baghdad, there is a permanent Russian presence in the joint intelligence center it shares with Iraq, Syria and Iran, which was established in 2015 on the Islamic State front. In addition, Russia has provided Iraq with fighter jets and military helicopters. For its part, Iraq has allowed Russia to use its airspace for attacks in Syria.

 

Egypt and Pakistan signed significant weapons deals with Russia and last year, the three countries held joint military exercises. According to Russian sources, Egypt is expected to authorize Russian use of its naval and air bases, including a base on the Mediterranean Sea that was used to monitor U.S. naval ships during the Cold War. Russia also signed a large weapons deal with Libya, Egypt's neighbor to the west, despite the U.N. embargo in place since 2011. In another move indicative of the strengthening of ties, Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was the host of an impressive ceremony off the Libyan coast. Even Jordan signed a deal with Russia in 2015, set to take effect in 2017, to establish and operate two nuclear energy plants in Zarqa. Russia's standing has also improved in the Philippines. In October, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced an alliance with Russia and a "separation" from the United States.

 

What does the near future hold? Moscow's aspirations could further increase in light of increasing revenue from its export of oil and gas. Since the beginning of January, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil exporting countries like Russia began to coordinate a reduction in exports. This led to a 15% increase in the price of oil, and there are those who predict prices will continue to skyrocket in the future. Likewise, Russia will benefit from an increase in both demand for and price of natural gas. This increase in revenue could make it easier for Russia to cope with the painful effects of economic sanctions, the result of its invasion of Ukraine. Incidentally, the coordination on the reduction of oil exports, the war on Islamic State and Russian efforts to reduce ethnic violence in Syria could bring it closer to Saudi Arabia, a country that has always been concerned by Russia's influence in the region.

 

Another cause for Russian optimism comes from the direction of Washington. U.S. President Donald Trump has on several occasions alluded to his willingness to improve relations between the countries and promote cooperation with Russia as a means of solving world problems. At the same time, Trump has announced a re-evaluation of trade deals with China and of the relationship with China's anticommunist rival, Taiwan.

 

In light of all this, Israel would be wise to strengthen economic and strategic ties with Russia, so as not to place all its eggs in one Western basket. This will prevent a recurrence of the relationship status that survived the Cold War, in which the USSR clearly supported the Arab states. Such a situation would lead to competition between the superpowers and a return to the "Cold War theater" in the region, from which neither the superpowers nor the regional players will benefit.

 

 

Contents

 

SUNNI STATES' MILITARY SPENDING SPREES

COULD FALL TO RADICAL ISLAMISTS

Yaakov Lappin

IPT, Feb. 7, 2017

 

Faced with an array of developing threats to their stability and survival, Sunni Arab states have gone on an unprecedented military spending spree, buying up some of the very best capabilities the West has to offer. This development holds the potential for danger should these states be overrun by radical Islamists. As long as the Sunni governments, guided by concerns over Iran, ISIS and other extremist actors, remain firmly in power, possessing high quality Western weapons in such large quantities will serve their goals of defending themselves.

 

But should the Sunni countries disintegrate into failed states, or undergo an Islamist revolution – an unfortunate yet distinct possibility in the 21st century, chaotic Middle East – Israel and the West could face an explosively dangerous development. An organized Islamist rise to power would see the military forces of such states come under the command of belligerent decision makers. Alternatively, a failed state scenario would mean that military bases in these countries could be looted, and deadly platforms taken over. Either way, the scenario of jihadists seizing game-changing military capabilities is real enough for Israel to acknowledge that it is planning ahead for it as a necessary precaution.

 

Outgoing Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amir Eshel spoke explicitly of this danger on Jan. 24 at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. His air force must know how to act as a precise surgeon, Eshel said, able to conduct pinpoint strikes based on fine intelligence. But it also must be able to operate like a "big hammer" able to deal with large-scale threats. In the tumultuous Middle East, he said, it seems unreasonable to believe that the current situation will remain as it is. "In five, 10, or 15 years, states can fall," he warned.

 

Eshel was referring to pragmatic Sunni states that, like Israel, are deeply threatened by Iran's expanding radical Shi'ite axis, and by Salafi jihadist Sunni groups that are bent on destroying all countries that do not fit their vision of an extremist caliphate. "Even if we have shared regional interests [with these Sunni countries now], we do not know what will happen in the future. Western military sales to these countries have reached $200 billion. This is state of the art weaponry. It is not just about the quantity," Eshel said. It is the Air Force's responsibility to assume that "something will collapse."

 

Most of the Arab countries' spending spree has gone into their air forces and surface-to-air missiles. The Israel Air Force must ensure it can deal with these capabilities, he added, in the event of future jihadist revolutions.  In the same week that Eshel spoke, the U.S. State Department announced the first weapons sales to Gulf states under the Trump administration, pending approval by Congress. The sales reportedly include $400 million worth of helicopter gunship parts and air-to-air missiles to Kuwait, and $525 million for intelligence balloons to Saudi Arabia. ISIS has already built and deployed its own armed drones, according to reports, and if its goal of seizing control of state assets were realized, it could try to use some of the means on the battlefield.

 

Gulf Arab countries continue to break records in their rush to purchase military hardware. As part of its bid to deter Iran and boost its ability to hit the Islamic Republic's capital, Tehran, Saudi Arabia modernized its missile arsenal in recent years, purchasing Chinese medium-range surface-to-surface missiles from China, in a deal reportedly facilitated by the CIA.

 

More recently, the Saudis, who are leading a coalition against Iran-backed Houthi Shi'ite rebels in Yemen, spent $179.1 billion on weapons in 2016, and intend to spend $190 billion in 2017. Saudi Arabia in recent years has replaced Russia as the third largest defense spender in the world. Salafi jihadists would like nothing more than to topple the Saudi royal court, which they see as a Western puppet, and take control of Islam's holiest sites, Mecca and Medina. Last September, the U.S. approved $7 billion worth of fighter jets (F-15s and F-18s) to Kuwait and Qatar, and more than $1 billion in F-16 sales to Bahrain.

 

Egypt, too, has joined the shopping rush, becoming the world's fourth largest defense importer in 2016, buying up arms from the U.S. and France, as well as submarines from Germany. Egypt, which is in a state of deep civil conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood, is also fighting a stubborn ISIS jihadist insurgency in its Sinai province. ISIS' terror campaign has claimed many lives among Egyptian security forces, and threatens to spread to other areas of the country.

 

After the fall and disintegration of Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, the idea that the Middle Eastern map will remain unaltered in the coming years is far from certain. Had Israel, according to international media reports, not bombed Syria's nuclear weapons production facility in Deir Al-Zor in 2007, the area, now filled with ISIS, could have seen nuclear weapons fall into the hands of genocidal jihadists.

 

Should Sunni states begin their own nuclear programs in response to Iran's own future nuclear efforts, the danger of atomic bombs falling into Islamist hands would increase. There is no alternative but to plan for such contingencies in the current unpredictable regional environment, where today's rational states could be replaced by sinister forces tomorrow.

                                                                           

 

Contents

 

THE SIX-DAY WAR WAS A

WATERSHED IN MIDDLE EASTERN HISTORY                                      

Asher Susser                                             

Fathom, Spring, 2017

 

The 1967 War was a watershed in Middle Eastern history. Israelis call it the Six-Day War, which is symbolic of the euphoric sense of victory that Israeli Jews felt in the aftermath of the war. The Arabs don’t call it the Six-Day War; for them it’s the ‘June War’, or the ‘67 War’. It was the most humiliating of defeats for the Arabs in modern times, maybe of all time.

 

First of all, the war wasn’t just a defeat in the battlefield. The war was also a horrendous defeat for the idea of Arab nationalism or pan-Arabism or Nasserism – whatever you want to call it. It showed that it was an empty vessel. A whole generation of Arabs had hung on every word of Abdel Nasser. The Palestinians were great believers in Nasser as the man who would deliver Palestine. Almost overnight, it all came to naught. Nasser had, in theory, the formula for Arab modernisation and success: Arab unity, Arab socialism, and alliance with the Soviet Union in the Cold War. This was to be the panacea for Arab ills and for the modernisation of the Arab world. I think many Israelis don’t realise the extent to which the war of 1967 was an utter shock and humiliation for the Arabs and for the Egyptians in particular.

 

There was a void in the aftermath of 1967 which was filled by two simultaneous but contradictory developments. One was the reassertion of raison d’etat – state interest. Once pan-Arabism was seen as ‘pie in the sky’ it became every more legitimate to pursue state interest unabashedly: Egypt first, Jordan first, Palestine first. So Egypt made war with Israel again, and then peace with Israel, each time serving purely Egyptian territorial state interests. For the Arab states involved in the 1967 war with Israel, the defeat was the beginning of thinking seriously about withdrawing from the conflict with Israel. After the Yom Kippur War of 1973 we saw the gradual withdrawal of the Arab states from the conflict with Israel. Essentially, the Arab world post-67 has left the Palestinians to fend for themselves. The Palestinians spoke with ever greater emphasis after 1967 of what in Arabic is called ‘the independence of decision’. They said: ‘the Arabs have disappointed us, we Palestinians must fend for ourselves, we must be our own independent decision makers.’ By taking this position the Palestinians took ever more responsibility for their own fate. But that also paved the way for the Arab states to actually let them go, in the spirit of ‘You want to be more independent, be our guests’. The Arab states walked away from the conflict, leaving the Palestinians to fend for their own raison d’etat.

 

The second trend that filled the void after 1967 was Islamic politics. The Islamists could now say with a lot of credibility: ‘We told you so. All this secular Arab nationalism is not going to get us anywhere. Islam is the solution, not secular nationalism.’ Arab nationalism was never favoured by the Islamists for the very good reason that Arab nationalism was actually an aircraft carrier for secularisation. Arab nationalism, at least in theory, is a secular ideology, uniting people based on the language they speak, not their religion. Arabism is about Muslims and Christians being Arabs. Islamism has the opposite effect, reasserting the sectarian differences which Arabism actually papered over. Now you’re talking about Sunni and Shi’a, Muslims and non-Muslims. This reassertion of Islamism has eroded and in some cases even partly dissolved the Arab state: Iraq and Syria are two examples.

 

What impact did the Six-Day War have on the Arab-Israeli conflict? First, Israel appeared in the Arab mind – in the aftermath of 1967 even more than before – as a monument to Arab inadequacy, Arab failure. Second, we saw the return of the Palestinians to the front of the stage. It is no longer the ‘Arab-Israeli conflict’; it’s the ‘Palestinian-Israeli conflict’. After 1967 the Palestinians were very much in control of their destiny, a dramatic turn of events. Third, the Arab states fought their last war with Israel in 1973. There has been no inter-state war between Arab states and Israel for 44 years. Once Egypt made its peace with Israel, there was no longer an Arab war option. Arab states could not make war with Israel without Egypt…

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

 

 

Contents           

 

On Topic Links

 

U.S., Middle East Allies Explore Arab Military Coalition: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15, 2017—The Trump administration is in talks with Arab allies about having them form a military alliance that would share intelligence with Israel to help counter their mutual foe, Iran, several Middle Eastern officials said.

Trump, China, and the Middle East: Roie Yellinek, BESA, Feb. 7, 2017—Ever since Donald Trump won the US presidential race, the issue of US-China relations has been high on the agenda of both parties. The subject preoccupies the president more than Islamic terror, Vladimir Putin, and other more pressing issues facing the world. This should not be surprising. Throughout the campaign, Trump pointed his finger time and again at China. His attacks often occurred during speeches in declining, heavy-industrial cities in the "Rust Belt" states, where he subsequently achieved unexpected victories.

China and the Middle East – a Rapidly Changing Picture: Tim Collard, China.org, Feb. 8, 2017—China has for many years now preferred to refrain from involvement in the quagmire which is the Middle East. Until now the region has been considered too distant, and not sufficiently economically rewarding (apart from, of course, the need to ensure oil supplies) to justify closer engagement. What policy there has been has been entirely pragmatic, building on the establishment of sound economic and technological partnerships with Israel without disrupting relations with the diplomatically powerful Arab world.

How the World Turned Against Israel: an Interview with Joshua Muravchik: Fathom, Autumn, 2014—Israel was once the plucky underdog supported by Western public opinion, Left and Right. Today, it is the object of a global campaign to demonise the state and question its very right to exist. A new book by Joshua Muravchik, Making David Into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel (Encounter Books, 2014), seeks to explain this fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MIDDLE EAST CHRISTIANS, ALLIES OF ISRAEL & WEST, SEEK REFUGE FROM PERSECUTION

Trump Helps Persecuted Christians and Protects America with One Move: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Feb. 2, 2017— During a recent interview with CBN, President Trump was asked if he thinks America should prioritize persecuted Christians as refugees. 

Assyrian Statehood: Preventing a Rupture in Kurdish-American Relations: Bradley Martin, JNS, Feb. 9, 2017— Assyrian autonomy would do more than rectify a centuries-old injustice.

The True Face of Christendom: Earl Cox, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 12, 2017— With anti-Semitic incidents on the rise in America and Europe, it is imperative that Israel knows who her true friends are.

Christian Realism and Christian Zionism: Paul Merkley, Bayview Review, Jan. 24, 2017 — Back in the  early 1940s, when the World Zionist Organization as was seeking credible Christian support for the cause of creating a Jewish State…

 

On Topic Links

 

Canada Heading Towards Blasphemy Law: Raheel Raza, Clarion Project, Feb. 13, 2017

‘Filming the Camps: From Hollywood to Nuremberg’ Review: Documenting Atrocities: Mark Yost, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15, 2017

The West's Real Bigotry: Rejecting Persecuted Christians: Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 5, 2017

United Church of Christ Indoctrinates Children to Hate: Abraham Cooper and Dexter van Zile, Huffington Post, Dec. 15, 2017

 

TRUMP HELPS PERSECUTED CHRISTIANS

AND PROTECTS AMERICA WITH ONE MOVE                                                  

Raymond Ibrahim

                      Frontpage, Feb. 2, 2017

                       

During a recent interview with CBN, President Trump was asked if he thinks America should prioritize persecuted Christians as refugees.  He responded: Yes.  Yes, they’ve been horribly treated.  If you were a Christian in Syria it was impossible, or at least very, very tough, to get into the United States.  If you were a Muslim you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible and the reason that was so unfair — everybody was persecuted, in all fairness — but they were chopping off the heads of everybody but more so the Christians. And I thought it was very, very unfair. So we are going to help them.

 

This is a far different response than that given by Barrack Hussein Obama back in November 2015.  Then, as president, he lashed out against the idea of giving preference to Christian refugees, describing it as “shameful”: “That’s not American. That’s not who we are. We don’t have religious tests to our compassion,” Obama had added.

 

While Obama was making such lofty admonishments, his administration was quietly discriminating against Mideast Christians in a myriad of ways—including, as Trump pointed out, by aggressively accepting Muslim refugees over Christian ones.  Despite the U.S. government’s own acknowledgement that ISIS was committing genocide against Christians in Syria—and not against fellow Sunni Muslims—the Obama administration took in 5,435 Muslims, almost all of which were Sunni, but only 28 Christians.  Considering that Christians are 10 percent of Syria’s population, to be on an equal ratio with Muslims entering America, at least 500 Christians should’ve been granted asylum, not 28.

 

But questions of equality aside, the idea of prioritizing Christian refugees over Muslims (which I argued for back in 2015) is not only more humane; it brings benefits to America as well. Consider the facts:

 

Unlike Muslims, Christian minorities are being singled out and persecuted simply because of their despised religious identity.  From a humanitarian point of view—and humanitarianism is the reason being cited for accepting millions of refugees—Christians should receive top priority simply because they are the most persecuted group in the Middle East.  Even before the Islamic State was formed, Christians were and continue to be targeted by Muslims—Muslim individuals, Muslim mobs, and Muslim regimes, from Muslim countries of all races (Arab, African, Asian)—and for the same reason: Christians are infidel number one.  (See Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians for hundreds of anecdotes before the rise of ISIS as well as the Muslim doctrines that create such hate and contempt for Christians.)

 

Conversely, Muslim refugees—as opposed to the many ISIS and other jihadi sympathizers posing as “refugees”—are not fleeing religious persecution (as mentioned, 99% of Muslim refugees accepted into the U.S. are, like ISIS, Sunnis), but chaos created by the violent and supremacist teachings of their own religion.  Hence why when large numbers of Muslims enter Western nations—in Germany, Sweden, France, the UK—tension, crimes, rapes, and terrorism soar.

 

Indeed, what more proof is needed than the fact that so-called Muslim “refugees” are throwing Christians overboard during their boat voyages across the Mediterranean to Europe?  Or that Muslim majority refugee centers in Europe are essentially microcosms of Muslim majority nations: there, Christian minorities continue to be persecuted.  One report found that 88% of the 231 Christian refugees interviewed in Germany have suffered religiously motivated persecution in the form of insults, death threats, and sexual assaults. Some were pressured to convert to Islam.  “I really didn’t know that after coming to Germany I would be harassed because of my faith in the very same way as back in Iran,” one Christian refugee said. 

 

Is persecuting religious minorities the behavior of people who are in need of refugee status in America?   Or is this behavior yet another reminder that it is non-Muslims from the Middle East who are truly in need of sanctuary?

 

The U.S. should further prioritize Christian refugees because U.S. foreign policies are directly responsible for exacerbating their persecution.  Christians did not flee from Bashar Assad’s Syria, or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, or Muamar Gaddafi’s Libya.  Their systematic persecution—to the point of genocide—began only after the U.S. interfered in those nations under the pretext of “democracy.”  All they did is unleash the jihadi forces that the dictators had long kept suppressed. Now the Islamic State is deeply embedded in all three nations, enslaving, raping, and slaughtering countless Christian “infidels” and other minorities…

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

 

Contents

 

                                               

ASSYRIAN STATEHOOD:

PREVENTING A RUPTURE IN KURDISH-AMERICAN RELATIONS                                                           

Bradley Martin

JNS, Feb. 9, 2017

 

Assyrian autonomy would do more than rectify a centuries-old injustice. It could also be the key to preventing irreversible damage to relations between the U.S. and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban against seven Muslim-majority countries has been met with a growing backlash in the Middle East. In response to Trump’s executive order, the Iraqi parliament voted to support reciprocal restrictions, barring Americans from entering Iraq unless Washington reverses its decision. This leaves Iraqi Kurds in a very precarious position.

 

“The KRG must now decide whether to help unify Iraq or go to war with Iraq,” said retired Lt. Col. Sargis Sangari, an expert on Assyrian Christians and CEO of the Near East Center for Strategic Engagement. “The Kurds may now feel compelled to implement their own travel ban against U.S. citizens, since their Muslim brethren would interpret such opposition as both a betrayal and an unpardonable offense against their religion.” Any refusal by the KRG to implement such a ban would put the Kurds at odds with the federal government in Baghdad. It would also prove damaging to Kurdish aspirations for independence, since the KRG cannot afford to enter negotiations while opposing the travel bans imposed by Iran and Iraq against American citizens.

 

By supporting Assyrian statehood, the KRG would send a clear message that it stands firmly with the U.S. and Western values. The three countries would share an unbreakable bond based on shared morals and economic prosperity. Assyrians are indigenous to Mesopotamia, and their history spans more than 6,700 years. When the Assyrian Empire came to an end in 612 B.C.E, the Assyrians would go on to become the first nation to convert to Christianity. The Assyrian language, a dialect of Aramaic, is likely what Jesus would have spoken during his lifetime.

 

Prior to the Islamic conquest of the Middle East, the Assyrian Church had an estimated 80 million adherents. Today, the Assyrian population throughout the world has been reduced to a little more than 4 million. Continuous murder, rape and forcible conversions to Islam have resulted in as much as 95 percent of this ancient community being forced to live outside (their) native region.

 

Until 2003, the Assyrian-Christian population numbered 1.5 million in Iraq. By the end of 2015, that number had been reduced to an estimated 150,000. This constitutes a 90-percent reduction of the Assyrian Christian population in their ancestral homeland. This genocide of Assyrians continues today, with the Islamic State terror group committing mass murder, forced conversions, rape and the destruction of Christian holy sites under its dominion. “If a new Assyrian state becomes a reality, Assyrians from all over the world would go back,” said Sangari. “The majority of talented, Western-educated Assyrians would probably go back as well.”

 

American Assyrians who return to their homeland would represent a link to the U.S., which the KRG could cultivate by supporting the foundation of this new Assyrian state. President Trump recently stated that persecuted Christians in the Middle East would be given priority as refugees. If the KRG were to aid in the rebuilding of the Assyrian national homeland, this would represent a goodwill gesture that would reverberate to Washington and send a powerful message that the genocide of Christians in the region will not be tolerated.

 

Western-educated Assyrians would serve as a significant boon to the region. Coupled with oil production, a sophisticated economy would emerge for everyone’s benefit. Kurdish statehood is therefore contingent on the rebirth of an Assyrian state. Although KRG President Massud Barzani recently stated that a declaration of Kurdish independence was imminent, the problem is that the KRG remains deeply divided. There is no guarantee that the two factions that make up the Kurdish Peshmerga forces will remain unified, since both militias remain deeply partisan. This division, compounded by potential conflicts with Iran and Iraq, does not bode well for the continued survival of a Kurdish state. Rather than a blessing, oil wealth would be a regional curse as it is used to fund further military campaigns.

 

If the KRG supported the rebirth of an Assyrian state, it would have a reliable and powerful ally in the region. A new U.S.-backed alliance between Kurdistan, Assyria and Israel that enshrines Western principles of freedom and democracy would create an oasis of peace and prosperity in an area of the world that desperately needs it.

 

Bradley Martin is a CIJR Student Intern and Deputy Editor

 

Contents

 

THE TRUE FACE OF CHRISTENDOM

Earl Cox

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 12, 2017

 

With anti-Semitic incidents on the rise in America and Europe, it is imperative that Israel knows who her true friends are. It’s sad and disturbing that anti-Semitism in the West originated with the early church fathers. How could this be? Jews and Christians share a common heritage: both are people of the Book; both our Scriptures confirm the Jews as G-d’s chosen people, whom He loves, and to whom He promised the land of Israel by everlasting covenant to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and their descendants.

 

Christian Scripture talks about dividing the sheep from the goats. These foundations of the faith should be no-brainers. Yet a deep divide emerged in Christendom beginning with the First Century church fathers. Its two main issues were the authority and interpretation of the Bible, and God’s love and plan for Israel. It’s an anomaly that the cultural/political church has a history of anti-Semitism—especially mainstream denominations such as Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists and others.

 

Cultural, politicized Christianity has spawned “politically correct” positions that conflict with biblical truth. For example, the false doctrine of replacement theology teaches that the church has “replaced” Judaism, that Jews have no future in G-d’s plan, or sovereignty over Israel and Jerusalem; thus all G-d’s promises and blessings have become the church’s exclusive domain. Nothing could be further than the truth. Replacement theologians squirmed in 1948 when the Lord returned the captivity of Zion and Israel was reborn in a day!

 

Here’s a sampling of how poisonous anti-Semitism infiltrated the early church: Justin Martyr, who called Gentile believers the “new” Israel, wrote: “The Jewish Scriptures are no longer yours, they are now ours.” Irenaeus: “The Jews are now disinherited from the grace of God.” Tertullian: “God has rejected the Jews in favor of the Christians.” Eusebius: “The promises of the Hebrew Scriptures are now for the Christians and not the Jews—but the curses are for the Jews.” The Emperor Constantine exhorted separation from the “despicable” Jews. Jerome stooped to degrading terms, later borrowed by the Nazis and Muslims. Augustine’s sermon “Against the Jews” deeply impacted Martin Luther, who advocated setting fire to Jewish synagogues and schools, destroying Jewish homes and prayer books, forbidding rabbis to teach, and confiscating Jews’ cash and treasures. Despite his faith, Luther’s writings inspired the horrors of the Holocaust.

 

Over time, some denominations unabashedly began to subordinate the Bible to political views, as liberal mainstream seminaries taught false doctrines such as replacement and liberation theologies. In the latter, Jesus is seen as liberator of the poor and oppressed. In this worldview, Palestinian suicide bombers blow themselves up only because they’ve been oppressed and historically wronged—remove or restrain their Israeli oppressors and they’ll live in peace—despite being brainwashed from cradle to grave to hate and kill Israelis and other “infidels.” From bitter roots grow poisonous trees.

 

Last year, the Presbyterian Church USA called for BDS based on Israel’s “human rights abuses” and “militarized violence” against Palestinians, without condemning Palestinian terrorism. For these leaders, BDS is justified due to Israel’s alleged violation of Palestinian human rights. Yet they fail to address the PA or Hamas’s violation of human rights of their own people, or Israel’s legitimate need for self-defense. In 2016, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling on the United State to end aid to Israel and “enable an independent Palestinian state.” It also adopted a resolution calling for divestment from Israel, so as not to “profit from human rights abuses.” ELCA group Isaiah 58 promotes a book recommending Islamic sharia law as the remedy for Israeli “occupation.”

 

Though liberal seminaries are seedbeds for anti-Semitism, most evangelical Christians study the Bible free of political interference. After all, Christian support for Israel is Biblical, not political. Evangelicals are the largest consistently pro-Israel block in the United States. A Pew Research Center poll found that 82 percent of white evangelicals believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people, compared to less than half as many Jewish or Catholic Americans. The true face of Christendom is the tens of millions of evangelicals who demonstrate their love for Israel with no hidden agendas, believe G-d gave Israel to the Jewish people, respect and obey the Bible as the ultimate written authority, and know that G-d always keeps His promises. How can any true Christian love Christ but not love His family and His land?

                                                                           

Contents

 

CHRISTIAN REALISM AND CHRISTIAN ZIONISM

Paul Merkley

Bayview Review, Jan. 24, 2017

 

Back in the  early 1940s, when the World Zionist Organization as was seeking credible Christian support for the cause of creating a Jewish State, they settled upon Reinhold Niebuhr, the principal spokesman for the Christian Council for Palestine, and later for the American Christian Palestine Committee.

 

There was great advantage for the Zionist cause in the fact that, in a time when theology still played a modest (although clearly failing) part in academic discussion, Niebuhr was the only American theologian who was widely read throughout the English-speaking world. He commanded a large audience not only of Christians but also of secular intellectuals. Niebuhr was the acknowledged leading light of Christian Realism- the movement that emerged slowly and painfully out of resistance to the appeasement which took hold of all the journals of Christian opinion in the late 1930s. By 1945, he was widely recognized, inside church ranks and even more outside church ranks, as an exceptionally realistic commentator on world affairs.

 

Niebuhr’s prominence in the Christian pro-Zionist camp does not mark him as a Christian Zionist however. A Christian Zionist is one who believes that his support of the people of Israel in their ongoing struggles traces follows from a claim put upon himself by Biblical prophecy. To Niebuhr, the notion of predictive prophecy was all superstition, and accordingly he had no patience for the idea that working for the Restoration of the Jews was a task commanded by Scripture. This attitude was consistent with his theology: when it came to matters of the Creed, in typically liberal fashion, he swept away the miracles, the raising from the dead, and the life everlasting. He shared this mindset with all but perhaps one or two of the leaders of the Christian Council for Palestine and American Christian Palestine Committee.

 

There were two strings to the Liberal-Christian Pro-Zionist Christian argument for Partition of the Mandate and support for the State of Israel. The first string was that it was a requirement of justice in light of the perilous state in which the Hitler war had left the Jewish people. Appearing before the body which the UN had appointed to consider the case for Partition, Niebuhr said “The Jews have a right to a homeland.  They are a nation, scattered among the nations of the world.  They have no place where they are not exposed to the perils of minority status.” As for the complaint that this solution would work some injustice for the Arabs of the region, Niebuhr said:  “The Arabs have a vast hinterland in the Middle East, and the fact that the Jews have nowhere to go, establishes the relative justice of their claims and their cause…. Arab sovereignty over a portion of a debated territory must undoubtedly be sacrificed for the sake of establishing a world homeland for the Jews.”

 

The second string to the Liberal argument was that the Jewish people would establish in the Middle East a bridgehead for the values of European civilization, beginning a process of rolling back what Niebuhr described as the “feudal realities” left by centuries of Islam. This second argument does not resonate favorably in liberal circles today. The moment of Israel’s creation, however, belongs to the hour when Western intellectuals were reviewing the strengths of our Christian civilization in the light of the recent escape from Nazism and the prospect of a long struggle against the Soviet Communist Empire.

 

Before another generation had gone by, academics and elites of opinion had got themselves persuaded that the first duty of the inquiring mind is to despise what one belongs to: it was becoming impossible in academic circles to say a kind word for “civilization” and downright heresy to say a kind word for the Christian legacy. At the end of this process, the intellectual consensus was that the democratic State of Israel was an engine of imperialism, the oppressor of Third World peoples, the proxy of the bloody Crusaders.

 

Reinhold Niebuhr stood out among his generation of Christian intellectuals because he was such a discriminating critic of the thoughtless generalities that were current among his Christian academic contemporaries. Since the bottom line to these generalities was reckoned as “liberalism,” a new word had to be invented to catch what distinguished him from the others. The word “Neo-Orthodox” was recruited. This word is quite misleading, however. Niebuhr’s own theology was far from orthodox. He recited the Apostles Creed every Sunday along with everyone else, but in private conversation he confessed that he had no commitment to the reality of the Deity of Jesus or the Resurrection from the dead. With reference to our interests here: he refused to acknowledge any predictive character in any part of the Bible – including the Major and Minor Prophets. Thus, Niebuhr refused to credit any argument made in favour of the Zionist cause that was built upon confidence in the predictive capacity of Scripture.

 

During the years leading to the Partition Debate, Niebuhr did everything he could to avoid being associated with people who called themselves Christian Zionists. The arguments that he made in those days in support of the Partition and the creation of the State were both idealistic and realistic – never theological. At the same time, however, Niebuhr never lost his commitment to defense of Israel, and partly for that reason became alienated from the main body of liberal Christians who shifted to the anti-Israel camp in the wake of the 1967 War and who effectively eased him out of the pages of the liberal Christian journals of opinion – including the journal which he himself had founded, Christianity and Crisis.

 

Never in WCC documents today do we find the least hint that Israel came into existence in response to the decision of the world’s parliament, taken on November 29, 1947, and that, therefore, the dilemma of the other side follows from its steadfast and illegal rejection of the legitimacy of this decision. Ecumenical Christian organizations became steadily less enthusiastic about “legitimacy” and increasingly infatuated throughout the 1960s with “Liberation theology.”  Today, WCC documents ring with denunciations of “colonialism,” “cultural imperialism” and “oppression.”…

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

 

Paul Merkley is a CIJR Academic Fellow

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Contents           

On Topic Links

 

Canada Heading Towards Blasphemy Law: Raheel Raza, Clarion Project, Feb. 13, 2017—On December 5, 2016, Canadian MP Iqra Khalid proposed a bill against Islamophobia (Motion 103). She began her statement in parliament by saying, “Mr. Speaker, I am a young, brown, Muslim, Canadian woman …”

‘Filming the Camps: From Hollywood to Nuremberg’ Review: Documenting Atrocities: Mark Yost, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 15, 2017 — To most people, the evidence—detailed Nazi records, the crematoriums and barracks, personal testaments, and film of the Allied liberation of the death camps—is overwhelming enough to silence any Holocaust denier.

The West's Real Bigotry: Rejecting Persecuted Christians: Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute, Feb. 5, 2017—Finally, after years of apathy and inaction, Washington is extending a much-needed helping hand to Middle Eastern Christians. U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced that persecuted Christians will be given priority when it comes to applying for refugee status in the United States.

United Church of Christ Indoctrinates Children to Hate: Abraham Cooper and Dexter van Zile, Huffington Post, Dec. 15, 2017—Until relatively recently it was estimated that some 300,000 child soldiers have served various masters, mostly in Africa and Asia. While the number has decreased, the exploitation of children in the name of a cause continues apace. Offenders rely on indoctrination, as well as direct recruitment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFUSING TO ENDORSE TWO-STATE SOLUTION, TRUMP SHIFTS THE “PEACE PROCESS” PARADIGM

Did Trump Just Nix the Idea of a Two-State Solution?: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 16, 2017— In diplomatic parlance, nothing says "I love you" more than telling a right-wing Israeli leader that perhaps a Palestinian state isn’t necessary after all.

The Two State Solution: Does Trump’s Indifference Matter?: Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, Feb. 16, 2017— Those who expected Donald Trump to effect genuine change in Washington still might be waiting for him to take action on some issues, but when it comes to altering existing Middle East policy, the president has not disappointed.

Trump Has Fans in Israel: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Feb. 13, 2017— In a poll taken following Donald Trump’s victory, 83% of Israelis said they consider Trump a pro-Israel leader; by contrast, another poll showed that 63% view Barack Obama as the “worst” US president with regard to Israel in the last 30 years.

In the Middle East, Whispers of Breaking the Mould — and the Dangers that Poses: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Feb. 6, 2017— All eyes here are on Washington, where on Wednesday President Donald Trump will welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.

 

On Topic Links

 

“The Two-State Solution”: What Does It Really Mean?: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Feb. 14, 2017

Tread Carefully with the New US Administration: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Feb. 16, 2017

Trying to Create a Palestinian State Would Repeat Mistakes that Have Led to so Much Mideast Bloodshed: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Feb. 6, 2017

Netanyahu and Trump Must Confront Iran, Global Threats: John Bolton, Algemeiner, Feb. 15, 2017

 

 

DID TRUMP JUST NIX THE IDEA OF A TWO-STATE SOLUTION?                                                                 

Tovah Lazaroff

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 16, 2017

                       

In diplomatic parlance, nothing says "I love you" more than telling a right-wing Israeli leader that perhaps a Palestinian state isn’t necessary after all. He could have gone for the more traditional type of Valentine’s Day present. Nothing wrong with champagne, cigars, roses or even chocolates hearts.

 

But then, US President Donald Trump is hardly a run-of-the-mill politician. Touching the third rail of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by appearing to disavow a two-state solution is in keeping with his torch and burn attitude to tried and true staples of Washington policies. Twenty-some years ago, another outlier politician, former US president Bill Clinton, created a new paradigm for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Rose Garden. There, on the White House lawn on a bright fall day, he wed the Israelis and Palestinians to the notion that the only resolution to the conflict was a two-state solution.

 

The principle of two states for two peoples became such a basic truth, that in the conflict’s lexicon it was defined as synonymous with peace. Those who supported peace wanted a two-state solution and those who didn’t, opposed it. As Netanyahu left for Washington this week to hold his first meeting with Trump since the latter's January 20th inauguration, right-wing Israeli politicians called on him to trash the 25-year-old standard. They demanded that Netanyahu convince the new US president to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state and to support settlement building in Area C of the West Bank. “A Palestinian state is a stumbling block to peace,” Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said in Jerusalem this week.

 

They were buoyed in their calls by the fact that since taking office, Trump has not pledged his commitment to a Palestinian state. It was presumed that he was simply waiting for Netanyahu’s arrival, so that the two of them would speak of this together, before Trump spoke about it publicly. Instead, on a cloudy day, in a packed briefing room inside the White House, Trump created the first new paradigm for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a quarter of a century and became the first US president to set aside the principles of the 1993 Oslo Accord.

 

Trump did it immediately upon Netanyahu’s arrival, as the two stood near each other, at joint podiums, flanked by Israeli and American flags. With a few brief sentences, Trump stated that a two-state solution was not the only option to resolving the conflict. “I’m looking at two states and one state. I am very happy with the one that both parties like. I thought for a while the two-state might be easier to do, but honestly, if Bibi [Netanyahu] and the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, then I am happy with the one they like the best,” Trump said.

 

His goal, Trump explained, was peace, and in its pursuit, he was not wedded to one solution or the other. “I would like to see a deal be made,” said Trump. This would not be a deal for a two-state solution, but a deal for peace, with or without a two-state solution. In a Tuesday briefing to reporters in Washington, a White House official expanded briefly on this idea, stating, “Peace is the goal, whether it comes in the form of a two-state solution, if that’s what the parties want, or something else, if that’s what the parties want. We’re going to help them.”

 

This wouldn’t be just any deal, Trump said on Wednesday, in his characteristic way of speaking. “It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand,” he said. It would not just be a bilateral deal but would involve other regional players. “It would take in many, many countries and it would cover a very large territory,” Trump said. These are countries, of course, that are firm in their stance that a two-state solution is the only alternative. But Trump’s words do not rule out a two-state solution, rather they change the focus and the end goal. It neither eliminates nor affirms a Palestinian state, but rather invites a fresh start of sorts.

 

On the surface of it, Trump appeared to hand Netanyahu a significant victory. Netanyahu could return to Israel and assure his right-wing voters that one of their key demands, disavowal of a Palestinian state, might be achievable, even if he himself remained committed to it. But Trump’s new philosophy for ending the conflict, uttered amidst a pledge of friendship, also carried with it some words of warning. His pursuit of what he has called the ultimate deal and peace between Israelis and Palestinians would know no bounds, such that he would entertain a non-ethnic nationalist solution, otherwise known as a one-state solution, or a state for all of its citizens…

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

 

Contents

 

THE TWO STATE SOLUTION: DOES TRUMP’S INDIFFERENCE MATTER?                                                             

Jonathan S. Tobin

National Review, Feb. 16, 2017

 

Those who expected Donald Trump to effect genuine change in Washington still might be waiting for him to take action on some issues, but when it comes to altering existing Middle East policy, the president has not disappointed. With his refusal to specifically endorse a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the president has seemingly discarded the idea that has been the bedrock principle of U.S. Middle East diplomacy for the past generation.

 

When asked about a two-state solution during a joint press conference prior to his first meeting as president with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump replied: I’m looking at two-state and one-state. I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. In doing so, Trump upset people on both sides. Palestinians think his unwillingness to pledge to work for an independent Palestinian state reveals his belief that they don’t deserve sovereignty. By the same token, many Israelis worry that his willingness to “live with” a one-state solution means he wouldn’t care if a Jewish state were replaced by one in which Arabs outnumbered Jews — which would end the entire Zionist experiment.

 

His statement was typically Trumpian in that it displayed either his ignorance or his lack of interest in the details, but it’s clear that the president wasn’t supporting either the one-state or the two-state option. Instead, what he was doing was endorsing a diplomatic principle that is just as important: The U.S. cannot impose peace on terms that aren’t accepted by the parties, and we shouldn’t behave in a manner that encourages Palestinians’ ongoing refusal to make peace.

 

Using the words “one state” was a mistake on Trump’s part. A one-state solution could lead to peace of a sort but only if one of the two sides surrendered. If Israelis acquiesce to the destruction of their country, it would end the conflict — at the cost of a potential Holocaust. Similarly, peace could result from the Palestinians’ deciding that they were ready to cede all of the country to the Jews and give up all hope of governing themselves. But since neither scenario is going to happen, to speak of one state is to declare that any compromise is impossible even in a distant and theoretical future.

 

The one-state option is the platform of Hamas, the Islamist terror group that governs the independent Palestinian state that exists (in all but name) in Gaza. Hamas’s goal is one Islamist state in which the Jewish population would either be massacred or expelled. The Fatah Party that runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank pays lip service at times to a two-state solution, but its ideology centers on denial and hope: Deny the right of the Jews to any part of the country, and hope for a state Arabs will dominate. Both Hamas and Fatah glorify violence against Jews and honor terrorists.

 

That’s why few Israelis believe a two-state solution is possible. Though it’s clear an overwhelming majority of Israelis want a two-state solution, they understand that the Palestinians have yet to come to terms with Israel’s legitimacy, and they think more territorial withdrawals would endanger their security without bringing peace. The idea of possibly replicating a Hamas state in the West Bank — far larger and more strategic than Gaza — strikes most Israelis as not only ill-advised but utterly insane.

 

A minority of Israelis do think that Israel can rule between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River indefinitely in spite of the presence of millions of Palestinians who don’t want to share the country with them. But there is a difference between supporting the right of Jews to disputed territory and asserting that you regard the exercise of that right as more important than making peace (if making peace were possible). Those to the right of Netanyahu might oppose giving up any territory, but they know that if the Palestinians ever did accept one of Israel’s offers of statehood, the Right would be heavily outvoted by the Israelis willing to give up territory for peace.

 

But just because Trump isn’t demanding a two-state solution doesn’t mean he is opposing it or even that his stance makes it less likely. For eight years, President Obama insisted that the Israelis give up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem in order to allow a Palestinian state. Putting all the pressure on the Israelis was a bigger mistake than anything Trump has said. Obama didn’t take into account that Palestinian politics and the Hamas–Fatah rivalry made it impossible for their so-called moderates to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be located. Obama’s approach had the effect of rewarding Palestinian intransigence, which doomed his efforts.

 

In saying he didn’t care what the terms of peace were so long as both sides accepted them, Trump sent the opposite message to the Palestinians. The Palestinians believe that pressure from the international community will isolate the Jewish state and make it vulnerable. Trump’s refusal to sanctify the two-state mantra is a warning that if Palestinians want a state, they will not get it by jettisoning negotiations and asking the United Nations to impose terms on Israel — which is how they rewarded Obama for his efforts on their behalf.

 

Trump appears genuine in his desire to broker a peace deal. Indeed, to the dismay of many on the Israeli right, he wants Netanyahu to restrain settlement growth in parts of the West Bank that would be included in a Palestinian state — even if Trump knows that settlements are not the cause of the conflict. Yet like all others who have tried, Trump is bound to fail in his quest to conclude the ultimate Middle East real-estate transaction. If he does fail, it will not be because he declined to utter the magic words “two states” at a White House presser. Even the ablest diplomat or deal-maker can’t wish away the realities of Palestinian politics. But Trump’s willingness to put pressure on the Palestinians — rather than pointlessly hammering the Israelis as Obama did — actually increases his chances of success, minimal though they may be.

 

Contents

 

TRUMP HAS FANS IN ISRAEL

Prof. Efraim Inbar

BESA, Feb. 13, 2017

 

In a poll taken following Donald Trump’s victory, 83% of Israelis said they consider Trump a pro-Israel leader; by contrast, another poll showed that 63% view Barack Obama as the “worst” US president with regard to Israel in the last 30 years. Indeed, after eight years of tense relations with the Obama administration, most Israelis are relieved to see a friend in the White House. Moreover, on issues that are important to Israel – Iran and the Palestinians – there seems to be a greater convergence of views than before.

 

Trump’s stance on Iran is particularly important now, as Iran recently held a military exercise to test its missile and radar systems after the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Tehran for a ballistic missile test. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Trump in Washington DC this week, it will be worth noting what the leaders say about the Iran nuclear deal and what kind of role the US will play in Israel. Netanyahu fought tooth and nail against the nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration with Iran. Trump slammed it as “one of the dumbest deals ever.” Senior members of his administration share this view and are apprehensive about Iranian intentions.

 

Obama gave a high priority to negotiating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and was obsessed with Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He estranged Israelis by not distinguishing between Israeli building in Jerusalem and in the West Bank. He often dished out “tough love” to Israel, as he called it when addressing a synagogue in Washington, DC. Trump and his advisors, by contrast, seem more relaxed about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, correctly understanding that it is by no means the most important problem in the chaotic Middle East. Even the White House criticism of new settlement building plans – it called them unhelpful to the peace process, but added that they are not impediments to peace – represents a positive change to many Israelis.

 

Furthermore, Trump’s promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem seems more sincere than similar promises made by previous presidential candidates. Throughout his campaign and into the early days of his presidency, Trump has shown that he follows through, and is more concerned with fulfilling his promises than flattering the electorate. Israelis cannot understand why other countries refuse to accept Jerusalem as their capital and to place their embassies in western Jerusalem, which is not, after all, disputed territory. Picking David Friedman – an Orthodox, pro-settlement, Jewish American who owns an apartment in Jerusalem – as ambassador to Israel lends credence to Trump’s promise.

 

Several of Trump’s positions that draw tremendous criticism at home and abroad are less problematic for Israelis. For example, the idea of building a wall along the US-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration is viewed in Israel as the expression of the sovereign right of any nation to prevent undesirable elements from entering its territory. Israel has built walls and fences to stop the infiltration of terrorists and illegal immigrants from Palestinian territory. Trump’s diatribes against Muslims are unseemly, but Israelis can understand where he is coming from, since they have been subjected to Muslim terrorism and Arab state aggression for 100 years. The political correctness of the Obama years – when the president refused to acknowledge radical Islam as the source of most of the terrorism in the world – frustrated Israelis.

 

Thus, Trump’s willingness to speak his mind is appreciated in Israel, even if some of his statements border on the vulgar. It is refreshing to the Israeli ear to hear an American president decline to beat around the bush, but rather to address issues directly, without the constraints of liberal political correctness. This quality has earned Trump some popularity in Israel. Israelis well know that a portion of the Washington bureaucracy, especially at the Department of State, and some of the media and academic elites are unfriendly to Israel. They welcome a president who dislikes that bureaucracy and is critical of those elites.

 

We should not forget that since the late 1960s, Israelis have largely preferred Republican presidents. Yitzhak Rabin, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Washington from 1968 to 1973, openly supported the Republican presidential candidate, Richard Nixon. Similarly, Prime Minister Netanyahu made his preference for Mitt Romney over Obama abundantly clear. Unlike many European politicians and American Democrats, Israelis are substantially nationalist and conservative. The conservative Israeli Likud party has won more elections than any other party since 1977.

 

Israelis followed the decline of American international fortunes during the Obama years with alarm. It frightens them to see America so weakened. Thus, a Trump who wants to make his country great again by increasing defense spending and standing tall against America’s enemies abroad (especially Iran) strikes a responsive chord among Israelis. Finally, Trump’s family biography endears him to Israelis. His daughter converted to Judaism and belongs to an Orthodox community. Trump has Jewish grandchildren of whom he is proud. His Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is an important advisor. Living in New York may have sensitized him to the sensibilities of the Jewish community. Moreover, he has always expressed strong support for the Jewish state…

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

                                                                           

Contents

 

IN THE MIDDLE EAST, WHISPERS OF BREAKING THE MOULD

— AND THE DANGERS THAT POSES

Father Raymond J. de Souza

National Post, Feb. 6, 2017

 

All eyes here are on Washington, where on Wednesday President Donald Trump will welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House…Unpredictability is precisely the order of the day. The predictable future is no longer so predictable here.

 

I have been coming to Israel regularly for more than 10 years, and on this visit I am hearing for the first time people discussing openly that that two-state solution is dead, or that its time is past, or that it needs to be revived, or that it should be rejected. Apparently no one thinks it likely. Such views are not new, but the public rhetoric at least honoured the two-state consensus, which has been the basis of global Israeli-Palestinian policy for the nearly 25 years since the Oslo Accords.

 

Senior ministers in the Netanyahu coalition government speak openly about annexation of parts of the West Bank — the “Area C” territories where the overwhelming majority of Jewish settlers live (some 400,000) and where the Arab population (some 100,000) could be granted Israeli citizenship without upsetting the demographic balance of Israel, which is about 75 per cent Jewish, 21 per cent Arab, and 4 per cent others.

 

While the end of Obama and advent of Trump might explain some of the more frank talk, the underlying dynamics have been in place for years. Neither Netanyahu nor Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, believes the other is sincere in wanting a two-state solution. Neither trusts the other to keep promises made. And on the Israeli side, there is no confidence that Abbas, who is in his eighties, will be succeeded by a stable partner for peace. To the contrary, the fear is that the Hamas takeover in Gaza might be replicated in the West Bank, or that the broader regional dynamics — disintegration of Syria and Iraq and Yemen, regime change in Libya and Egypt, the expansion of Iranian influence, the rise of ISIL — might visit themselves upon Israel’s eastern border.

 

Indeed, there is more talk now than I have heard in years about a regional conference that would include the Arab powers in addition to the Israelis and Palestinians. Along with open talk of annexation, there is talk of a kind of confederation that would link Gaza and the West Bank with Jordan and Egypt. All of which brings about a certain déjà vu. After the first Gulf War, there was the regional conference in Madrid in 1991, convened by the United States and co-sponsored by the Soviet Union, then in the last days of its existence. Today, Russia is back in the Middle East as it has not been since the early 1970s, and its arrival makes any peace less likely. Madrid produced the various bilateral talks that led to the Israel-Jordan peace treaty and the Oslo Accords which created the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s agreement to the latter in Gaza and the West Bank, headed by the PLO’s Yassir Arafat, was agreement in principle to a future Palestinian state. The entire existence of the Palestinian Authority is premised on being a state in waiting.

 

Waiting is perhaps the most ancient practice of politics in the land of Israel, from biblical times until today. In that light, the quarter century since Madrid, or even the 50 years since the Six Day War, or the even the nearly 70 years since the independence of the modern state of Israel, might not seem so long. Yet the widely held conviction is that waiting for a new situation, new circumstances, new leaders, will not produce progress toward peace in a two-state solution. There are popular majorities in favour of it on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, but similar majorities also believe that it is impossible given the failings of the other side.

 

Which leaves the status quo, no longer as the default in light of failed peace talks, but as a deliberate choice for an unhappy but tolerable situation, as opposed to an exhausting striving for an impossible situation. The alternative is to break the existing mould, the consensus of experts who for decades have insisted that the only way forward was toward a solution that successive generations of leaders could not deliver…                   

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

 

Contents       

    

On Topic Links

 

“The Two-State Solution”: What Does It Really Mean?: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Feb. 14, 2017—The phrase “two-state solution” is repeated daily by international leaders and organizations. It has become the catch-phrase for anyone advocating resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. However, the phrase is repeated without a full awareness of its history or of the practical aspects of its implementation in the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Tread Carefully with the New US Administration: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Feb. 16, 2017—In the run-up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's February 15 meeting with President Donald Trump, the difference in worldview between the Israeli political Right and Left, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue, became more pointed.

Trying to Create a Palestinian State Would Repeat Mistakes that Have Led to so Much Mideast Bloodshed: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Feb. 6, 2017— Will Palestine exist in another generation? With the Trump administration gearing up for its meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week, it’s a question worth asking. The last thing the Trump administration should want is a repeat of the mistakes the Great Powers made a century ago when they created artificial countries.

Netanyahu and Trump Must Confront Iran, Global Threats: John Bolton, Algemeiner, Feb. 15, 2017—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with President Donald Trump. While the two leaders had a full agenda to cover — including international terrorism, the ongoing carnage in Syria and Israel’s continuing efforts to find peace with its neighbors — Iran’s nuclear-weapons program undoubtedly dominated their discussions.