About the author  ⁄ The Endowment for Middle East Truth

January 23, 2019

On December 19, 2018, President Donald Trump announced by tweet that he was withdrawing most of the American troops currently in Syria. The President wrote, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” Trump also promised in a video message on Twitter that “Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they’re coming back now. We won.”

There are about 2200 U.S. soldiers in Syria. 2000 of these troops are in the northeast, where they direct the air and land war against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), in coordination with the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF). The remaining 200 are at al-Tanf, a crucial base at the Syrian-Iraqi border which blocks Iran from completing its land bridge to Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan. In both areas, the U.S. troops have very rarely been exposed to combat situations. Four Americans were killed on Wednesday in an attack by ISIS in Syria, and six U.S. soldiers have died in combat since 2014.

Since his initial announcement, the President and his aides have somewhat walked back these tweets. Although some U.S. troops have begun to leave, it is unclear exactly how long it will take, and whether the 200 troops in al-Tanf are to be included.

What are the ramifications of a U.S. withdrawal from Syria? And what are the national security interests that favor the U.S. staying the course there? To explore these questions and more, EMET is honored to host Professor Efraim Inbar from Jerusalem for a phone seminar.

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EMET Praises Israel for Deliberately and Aggressively Defending Itself Against an Iranian Attack
(Washington, DC, January 21, 2019) – Today, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), praised Israel for carrying out a series of airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria, and the deliberate and aggressive manner in which it responded to an Iranian attack targeting the Golan Heights yesterday.  On Sunday, Iran’s Al-Quds Force, an arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Forces (IRGC), launched a missile at northern Israel from Syria, in an area near Damascus, approximately 50 kilometers from the Golan.  This is the third time that Iran tried to attack Israel in the past year.  Israel’s Iron Dome intercepted the Iranian missile.On Monday, Israel responded to the attack by striking Iranian targets in Syria, including a military training camp, munition storage sites, and an intelligence site.  Following Israel’s strikes, Iran’s General Aziz Nassirzadeh said its Air Force’s “young generation are impatient and ready for a fight against the Zionist regime to wipe it off the Earth.”

“We have a defined policy: to harm Iranian entrenchment in Syria and to harm anyone who tries to harm us,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.  “We will not ignore such acts of aggression as Iran attempts to entrench itself militarily in Syria and given explicit statements by Iran that it intends to destroy Israel,” the Israeli Prime Minister added on Monday.

Iranian forces are just north of the Golan Heights, and are as far south in Syria as Quinetra.  The Iranian backed proxy, Hezbollah, has 150,000 missiles staring down at Israel.  Iran is essentially working to create an uninterrupted land bridge from Tehran through Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut to the Mediterranean.

“EMET applauds Israel for responding openly, aggressively, and forcefully against the Iranian entrenchment in Syria near their northern border.  The aggressive actions against the people of Israel by Iranian forces in Syria once more proves that the United States needs to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.  This would show American strength in the region without committing even one boot on the ground, and it would prove to the world that the United States does not abandon its friends and allies to the Iranian menace and its proxies,” Sarah Stern, the founder and president of EMET said.

“When there is daylight between the United States and Israel, that is when the enemies of both countries attack. It is well past time that the United States recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights to protect the national security interests of the U.S., and our one Democratic ally in the Middle East, Israel,” Stern added.

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About the Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, EMET’s mission is to educate policymakers in Washington and the general public about the importance of Israel to the United States in their common struggle against radical Islam. For more information, please visit, http://www.emetonline.org. Follow EMET on Twitter and Facebook.

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EMET Calls on Senate to Pass Pro-Israel Legislation That Was Postponed on a Technicality, Last Night
(Washington, DC, January 9, 2019) – Today, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) called on the US Senate to pass S. 1, the “Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act.” Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced S. 1 on January 7 along with Senators James Risch (R-ID), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY). The bill stalled in the Senate on Tuesday when a motion to invoke cloture and vote on final passage failed to gain the required 3/5 majority.  Fifty-six senators from both parties voted in favor of the motion, while 44 Senators voted against it.

S. 1 is a collection of Middle East-related bipartisan bills that had been introduced during the previous Congress, but were never voted on before the end of term. This includes the Ileana Ros-Lehtinen United States-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act, the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act, and the Combating BDS Act.

The latter section of the bill proved to be the most controversial. The Combating BDS Act would prevent the federal government from preempting state and local government-passed laws that prohibit contracting with individuals or businesses that boycott Israel and Israeli-owed businesses. Opponents of the Act falsely claimed that it infringes upon free speech, even though the text of the bill itself plainly states “Nothing in this title shall be construed to infringe upon any right protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stated, “It’s absurd that the first bill during the shutdown is legislation which punishes Americans who exercise their constitutional right to engage in political activity.”  The ACLU also came out against the bill as an infringement on the First Amendment.

Sarah Stern, the founder and president of EMET pushed back, arguing “At a time when anti-Israel hate groups are using economic warfare against the sole Jewish State, it is critical that the US Senate stand with Israel by passing S.1.  Combatting the anti-Semitic BDS movement should not be a controversial issue. This bill does not prevent individuals from participating in their first amendment rights, but simply allows states and local governments to divest from entities that are engaged in discriminatory practices against the State of Israel.”

Many states already enforce anti-discrimination rules when determining eligibility for government contracts, or prohibit boycotts based on race and national origin. The New York Human Rights Law is an example of the latter. There are currently 26 states that have passed anti-BDS laws, often by large bipartisan majorities in the state legislatures.

Some of the senators who voted against the motion to invoke cloture cited the partial shutdown of the government. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) tweeted “We can’t simply proceed with business as usual. Reopening the govt must be our first priority.”

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), the bill’s sponsor, accused Democrats of wanting to avoid a tough vote on Israel when an increasingly large segment of the Democratic party supports the BDS movement. “The shutdown is not the reason Senate Democrats don’t want to move to the Middle East Security Bill,” Rubio tweeted. “A significant [number] of Senate Democrats now support #BDS & Dem leaders want to avoid a floor vote that reveals that.”

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About The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, EMET’s mission is to educate policymakers in Washington and the general public about the importance of Israel to the United States in their common struggle against radical Islam. For more information, please visit, http://www.emetonline.org. Follow EMET on Twitter and Facebook.

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EMET Expresses its Strong Disappointment with the Decision to Remove U.S. Troops from Syria

(Washington, DC, December 19, 2018) – Today, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) expressed its strong disappointment with the decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.  In a Wednesday, December 19th tweet, the President said, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”  The White House then confirmed in a statement that the administration has “started returning United States troops home.”  EMET strongly believes this surprising and precipitous withdrawal of all of our troops from Syria endangers U.S. national interests as it is not in line with the American foreign policy principle of standing by our friends, in this case the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), as well as the State of Israel, and only gives oxygen to our enemies — the Islamic State, the Iranian mullahs, the Assad regime in Syria, Putin’s Russia and Turkey under Erdogan.

There are currently an estimated 2200 U.S. troops in Syria.  These troops are located in northeastern Syria in an area controlled by U.S. allies, the SDF, and at the al-Tanf border crossing with Iraq in southeastern Syria. In both areas, the U.S. troops play only a training and support role and have only very rarely been exposed to combat. Their primary mission is to train, equip and advise our partners on the ground.

The SDF is a strong U.S. ally that controls about 30% of Syria.  It includes both Syrian Kurds and others who live in that region.  Unlike the rest of Syria, civilians in SDF controlled territory have civil, religious, and voting rights.  When the IS was ascendant in Syria and Iraq, the Syrian Kurds – who later became the SDF – were the lone moderate force who successfully opposed the IS. At the behest of the U.S., the Syrian Kurds/SDF fought the IS to liberate Syrian civilians in Raqqa and other areas, despite the fact that there were no Syrian Kurds living in the area.  Thousands of Syrian Kurds/fighters from the SDF were killed or wounded in this fighting.

By removing U.S. troops from these areas in Syria, the U.S. endangers moderate forces in the region and empowers many bad actors.  First, this will likely allow the Islamic State forces to rebound, in a manner similar to what occurred when the U.S. removed troops from Iraq in 2011.  Second, this will encourage Islamist Turkish dictator Erdogan to attack the SDF, as Erdogan has always hated and feared any Kurdish groups.  Third, this will encourage the Assad regime, backed by its allies the Iranians and Russians, to attack the SDF and the al-Tanf pocket.  Fourth, this removal will allow Iran to solidify its ‘Shia crescent’ land bridge from Iran to Lebanon, on which it has transported soldiers and weapons and missiles, and thus endanger U.S. allies such as Israel and Jordan and Saudi Arabia.  Fifth, by removing U.S. troops so suddenly, and without concern for the danger it causes to U.S. allies, the U.S. is likely to be seen as an “unreliable ally” by the rest of the world. And finally, this decision should be examined carefully in light of the fact that Iran, which has gotten progressively more and more entrenched in Syria, has just successfully conducted a medium range ballistic missile test, which, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said, “is capable of carrying multiple warheads.”

Sarah Stern, founder and President of EMET stated, “We at EMET have often argued that there should be synergy between good foreign policy, national interest, and what is moral and right. Here there is no synergy.  By removing U.S. troops from Syria so precipitously, we are weakening the fight against the Islamic State.  It is more than likely that ISIS will now emerge in another form, or some other re-incarnation.  We are throwing our SDF allies, and other moderate forces, who have shed their blood fighting the Islamic State, to the wolves of Turkey, the Assad regime in Syria, Iran, and Russia. We are encouraging the world to believe that the U.S. is a feckless and inconsistent ally.  This decision will only add to the humanitarian crisis in Syria. And we are allowing Iran to complete its land bridge, thereby endangering other U.S. allies, including our one democratic ally in the region, Israel. And we are leaving Israel, in particular, much more exposed and vulnerable to attack.”

“EMET strongly encourages the President to reconsider his decision soon, before the progress that has been made in the fight against ISIS is damaged, the stability the SDF has created in northeast Syria is destroyed, the enemies of the U.S. are empowered, and the U.S. looks weak abroad,” Stern concluded.

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About The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, EMET’s mission is to educate policymakers in Washington and the general public about the importance of Israel to the United States in their common struggle against radical Islam. For more information, please visit, http://www.emetonline.org. Follow EMET on Twitter and Facebook.

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EMET Founder and President Sarah Stern on i24News December 18th, 2018 regarding Trump’s peace plan, and encouraging a U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Please see instructions below to view the video:

  1. Click on this link.
  2. Click on ‘Start Your FREE Trial.’
  3. Create an account by entering your email address and password.
  4. Enter the coupon KEYGUESTS, and click on ‘Activate.’ 
  5. Click on ‘Get Access.’ 
  6. Fast forward to 4:30.

 

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(Washington, DC, December 18, 2018) – Today, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) praised U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) for introducing a resolution encouraging the United States to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The Golan Heights is an area of approximately 500 square miles that was captured by Israel in its defensive war of 1967, and was successfully retained in its defensive war of 1973 from attacking Syrian forces.  It has served as the demarcation line between the chaotic, feuding forces of radical Islam and the liberal, Western-oriented State of Israel.  The Golan creates the definitive dividing line between authoritarian rule and a vibrant, thriving democracy.  Since 1974, when a Separation of Forces Agreement was negotiated between Israel and Syria, the Golan Heights has remained relatively peaceful, until now.

Because of the seven-year brutal Syrian civil war, the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken advantage of the chaos of the situation, and Iranian-backed forces – including the IRGC and Hezbollah – have penetrated as far south as the Syrian town of Quneitra, making this region a potential line of confrontation.  Iran has attacked Israel from Syria this past year both in February and May, and is determined to build a land bridge stretching from Teheran all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights creates an important roadblock in the land bridge that Iran is determined to make. The Golan affords Israel a unique topographical vantage point, providing critical defensive and intelligence strategy to Israel and the United States. And it affords the population of Israel a unique defensive shield, to protect itself from attacks by Iran and its proxies.

The Israeli government voted to extend Israeli civil law to the Golan Heights in 1981.  Furthermore, President Gerald Ford offered Israel assurances in 1975 that a peace agreement with Syria “must be predicated on Israel remaining on the Golan Heights,” and Secretary of State James Baker, in 1991, reaffirmed that the U.S. stands behind these assurances.  More recently, the United States, for the first time ever, voted against the annual United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Israel’s “occupation” of the Golan Heights.

EMET has diligently been working on educating congressional offices on the critical need for the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. EMET has also worked on a letter with Rep. Doug Lamborn’s (R-CO) office, calling for such recognition.  The letter will be sent to Secretary of State Pompeo.

“I applaud U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Tom Cotton for taking the bold and very necessary step to introduce a resolution encouraging the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, at this critical time,” Sarah Stern, the founder and president of EMET said.

“Israel’s presence on the border of the Golan offers the United States valuable eyes and ears into Iranian troops and its terrorist proxies in Syria. The Golan has been a force of stability in the region for 45 years and offers a protective shield for all of us in the West. Many of the same forces that hate Israel also vehemently despise the United States.  As long as the Golan Heights is perceived as being ‘in play’ as part of the ‘occupied territories,’ the illusion that it might someday be captured by Syrian or Iranian forces is perpetuated.  The simplest way to put an end to this dangerous illusion and to Iran’s voracious appetite is for the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. That would send a strong, clear, unequivocal message to America’s foes in the region without putting a single boot on the ground,” Stern added.

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About The Endowment for Middle East Truth
Founded in 2005, EMET’s mission is to educate policymakers in Washington and the general public about the importance of Israel to the United States in their common struggle against radical Islam. For more information, please visit, http://www.emetonline.org. Follow EMET on Twitter and Facebook.

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The Endowment for Middle East Truth invites you to a Phone Seminar:

Jews Make the Best Demons: ‘Palestine’ and the Jewish Question

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018
12:00pm – 1:00p.m. (Eastern Time)
Call-In Number (712) 432-0075
Participant Code: 397784   

Featured guest speaker:  Eric Rozenman

 

Shortly before murdering 11 Jews at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, the accused killer posted online that “Jews are the spawn of Satan” and derided the United States as “Z.O.G.”—Zionist-occupied government.

A few days after the mass murder, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan reinforced his high-profile antisemitism—bigotry some members of Congress and members-elect have difficulty rejecting—by again denouncing “Satanic Jews” and “devilish Zionists.”

On October 22, New English Review Press published Eric Rozenman’s new book, Jews Make the Best Demons: “Palestine” and the Jewish Question. In it Rozenman, now at the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish Policy Center and former editor of B’nai B’rith’s International Jewish Monthly and of the Washington Jewish Week, spotlights how anti-Zionism has become the gateway drug for resurgent antisemitism. He also demonstrates the way Palestinian terrorism provided the template for today’s widespread Islamist terrorism—from hijacking airliners to free jailed terrorists in the 1970s to weaponizing airliners as on Sept. 11, 2001.

And, in a development too little reported, Rozenman shows how the medieval anti-Jewish blood libel, in the original and in modern disguise, animates the fabricated yet widely-believed “Palestinian narrative.” Together, these trends have reopened the pre-1945 “Jewish question,” as in, “what shall we do about the Jews?”

“It turns out Herzl was wrong,” Rozenman writes. “The renewed Jewish state would not end antisemitism directed against ‘the wandering Jews.’ Rather, it would provide a new and sometimes more attractive target. And in anti-Zionism’s demonizing of the Jewish collective, it has revived and relegitimized hatred of the Jew as individual.”

Jews Make the Best Demons also suggests a course of action—insisting, as boldly as necessary, on objective truth, truth disdained by the “post-modern, intersectionalist” far-Left, ignored by the revived, anti-democratic far-Right.

Join EMET’s conference call with Rozenman at noon on Wednesday, 12/19.

Submit a Question

About Eric Rozenman

Eric Rozenman is communications consultant for the Washington, D.C.-based Jewish Policy Center, which he joined in 2016. From 2002 to 2016, Rozenman worked as Washington director of CAMERA, the 65,000-member, Boston-based Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Among other things, CAMERA’s Washington office monitored news and communications media including The Washington Post, Washington Times, USA Today, Baltimore Sun, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Politico, Roll Call and The Hilland worked with members of Congress and their staffs on public broadcasting issues regarding National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service (television).

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By Mark Sokolow

Photo: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

President Trump signed the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) on October 3, 2018, to restore rights of U.S. terror victims over the PLO and Palestinian Authority. The Presi- dent did the right thing when he signed it. But now the State Department is asking Congress to delay the law the President signed. The Administration should put a stop to this madness.

Congress passed the Anti-Terrorism Act in 1992 to give U.S. citizens the right to bring civil cases against terrorists who attack them overseas. Every prior Republican Administration since 1991 has supported the Anti-Terrorism Act as serving vital national security interests, in- cluding in lawsuits against the PLO and PA. Up until 2015 the PLO and PA were repeatedly held liable for terror attacks against Americans, and they paid off hundreds of millions of dollars of judgments in favor of US families.

In Sokolow v. PLO, some 40 U.S. citizens sued the PLO and the PA for orchestrating and executing terror attacks in Israel, causing deaths and catastrophic injuries. In 2015, a jury found the PLO and PA liable, awarding a judgment of $655M. But in 2016 the Second Circuit re- versed, holding that the law of personal jurisdiction allowed these terrorists to avoid accountabil- ity in the U.S. courts.

Congress passed the ATCA in response. Senator Grassley introduced the ATCA to reit- erate “Congress’s original intent that terrorist groups and their supporters be brought to justice in U.S. Courts, regardless of where the attacks occurred.” The ATCA was supported by the pro- Israel community from AIPAC to ZOA. Congress followed regular order with hearings in both Chambers. The bill was vetted by the DNI and other Administration officials before being passed unanimously in both Chambers as a stand alone bill. It was signed by the President after due consideration. It says that if the PLO or PA accept U.S. foreign assistance, they are deemed to consent to jurisdiction in civil Anti-Terrorism Act cases. The law takes effect January 31.

The ATCA restored the status quo for anti-terror cases against the PLO and PA. It is one of dozens of laws conditioning US assistance to the PA on compliance with anti-terror promises, including the Taylor Force Act.

The State Department currently oversees more than a dozen programs that benefit the PA, including training, construction, and provision of equipment. The PA relies on these programs for its own security. The State Department is arguing that the PA will cut off all these programs and existing ties with the US if Congress does not delay the law.

Congress should do no such thing. Congress made a simple policy decision. If the PA wants American assistance, it has to do so on the understanding that it will be held accountable for terror attacks that took American lives and caused severe injuries.

State Department officials are arguing that the PA will make a “rational” economic deci- sion to stop taking U.S. assistance if it will cost the PA money in the form of judgments in favor of terror victims. That is simplistic thinking, as the PA makes many decisions for political rea- sons rather than economic reasons—like paying hundreds of millions of dollars to reward terror- ists for murdering civilians instead of stopping that outrageous policy, which would free up hun- dreds of millions of dollars withheld from the PA under the Taylor Force Act. Of course, if the PA values avoiding its just debts for murdering Americans more than it values its security assis- tance from the United States, perhaps that means something important for U.S. policy.

Just as the President signed the Taylor Force Act, which is costing the PA hundreds of millions of dollars every single year, the Administration should stand firm with US victims of Palestinian terror and support the ATCA, which the President signed two months ago. The State Department should stop undermining the clear message sent by President Trump when he signed the ATCA.

Mark Sokolow is the lead plaintiff in Sokolow v. PLO, in which the PLO and PA were found liable for orchestrating and executing terror attacks in Israel that killed Americans. Mark, a lawyer and native New Yorker, survived the bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and then a suicide terror attack four months later in Jerusalem, Israel.

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Photo: AP Photo / Adel Hana

November 26, 2018

Featuring Prof. Efraim Inbar

On November 11th, Hamas terrorists killed IDF Lieutenant-Colonel M in southern Gaza Strip during a covert Israeli operation, marking the first death of an Israeli officer since Operation Protection Edge in 2014. Starting the very next day, during a period of only 24 hours, terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched more than 460 rockets into Southern Israel, and approximately 100 of them were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. While the majority of rockets fell into open territory, others fell into Sderot, Ashkelon, and other Gaza border communities, resulting in the death of a 48-year-old Palestinian man, and more than 50 people injured. The IDF, in response, struck more than 160 terror targets in the Gaza Strip, including tunnels created by Hamas to use to infiltrate and carry out attacks in Israel, and four military compounds.

Thereafter, Israel agreed to an Egyptian mediated ceasefire with Hamas.

Why did Israel accept a “cease-fire,” rather than finish the job of taking out Hamas targets? How long can we expect the “cease-fire” to actually last? And does the recent flare-up in Gaza impact President Trump’s Middle East peace plan? Professor Inbar tackles these questions.

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