About the author  ⁄ Sarah Stern

Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

Photo: AFP PHOTO / STRINGER

Iranian-backed Hezbollah has long used Lebanon as a “state within a state.” This weekend, Israel’s sophisticated tunnel-detection equipment uncovered its sixth tunnel, carved out of rock by Hezbollah. In early December, Israel embarked on “Operation Northern Shield” to uncover and explode Hezbollah’s vast network of tunnels meant to reach across the Golan Heights, leading directly into Israel.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the tunnels were wide and deep enough to allow for dozens of Hezbollah terrorist to penetrate Israel and conduct an opening salvo of the next war, accompanied by a massive explosion of the approximate 150,000 missiles.

At the conclusion of the Second Lebanon War in 2006, the United Nations passed Security Council Resolution 1701, calling for all foreign forces to leave Lebanon. Israel was so careful to honor not only the letter, but the spirit of the resolution that they painted their stones blue and retreated south of the demarcation line (thus, the etymology of the term “The Blue Line”).

U.N. Resolution 1701 also called for the creation of the United Nations Forces in Lebanon, UNIFIL, whose job remains to ensure that there is a disarmament of all foreign forces within Lebanon.

However, according to several reports, the IDF had notified UNIFIL Forces about the existence of the Hezbollah tunnels. UNIFIL turned around and notified the Lebanese Armed Forces, and unfortunately, the LAF, in turn, notified Hezbollah.

The LAF has an interesting relationship with Hezbollah. Hezbollah and the LAF have been in a delicate balancing act as to which militia is the more dominant power in Lebanon. At this point, it seems as though Hezbollah has been in increasingly more powerful, and is exerting its influence both outside and within the LAF.

Many have described the LAF as “a wholly owned subsidiary of Hezbollah.”

As Aram Nerguizian from the Carnegie Middle East Center discusses, Lebanon has “parallel non-state military actors retaining both operational autonomy and national security legitimacy. The most obvious of this are the asymmetric military forces of Hezbollah.”

He adds that “no state institution, including the LAF, will openly challenge Hezbollah’s domestic credibility with its own Shia constituency, and the group’s resistance operations and expeditionary campaign in Syria have further strengthened Hezbollah’s domestic legitimacy.”

This is profoundly sad.

There was a period of time when I had looked towards Lebanon as the one Middle Eastern nation, outside of Israel, with religious freedom for all, and proportional representation in government for where minority and majority ethnic groups and religions.

Beirut was once considered “the Riviera of the Mediterranean”—the wealthiest city in the Middle East, a magnet for the international jet-set crowd.

The radiant epoch of that optimistic history was a brief moment from Feb. 14 to April 27, 2005, known as “The Cedar Revolution.” It was a time when tens of thousands of Lebanese Christians courageously took to the streets and demanded an ouster of Syrian forces.

That moment now seems like ancient history.

It had been provoked by the Feb. 14 assassination via truck bomb of Lebanese President Rafic Hariri. Four Lebanese members of Hezbollah were indicted in the murder.

Lebanon is a country made up of a myriad of ethnic and religious groups, including Shia and Sunni Muslims, Maronite, Eastern Orthodox, Melkite Catholic and Protestant Christians, and Druze (there hasn’t been a new census in Lebanon since 1932). Their byzantine system of governance tries to allow for a rotation of power for the various ethnic and religious groups, based on demographics.

In 1974, Imam Musa al-Sadir and Hussein el-Husseini, both Shia Muslims, established “The Movement of the Deprived” or the “Amal Movement,” which was a populist movement that aimed to represent “all dispossessed, deprived and poor people.” And then, ignited by the momentum of Iranian Islamic Revolution of 1979, the Shi’ite movement began to emerge as a real force to reckon with and formed Hezbollah, meaning “The Party of God.”

Since then, Hezbollah has rapidly caught fire. Hezbollah runs an entire social-network system of schools, hospitals and even sports clubs throughout Lebanon. These entities and private homes have been used as military bases for Hezbollah.

To see how powerful it’s become, in the last parliamentary election in May of 2018, Hezbollah won more than half of the 128 seats in Lebanon’s parliament.

Many of the Hezbollah fighters were involved in the Syrian civil war, fighting alongside the forces of the ruthless Syrian President Bashar Assad and their mutual patron, Iran.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States gives the Lebanese Armed Forces approximately $150 million dollars a year, adding up to $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion over the last 10 years. Because of the intricate and complicated relationship between Hezbollah and the LAF, it’s high time we suspended that aid.

Unfortunately, we’ve come a long way since the golden days of the Cedar Revolution.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/mourning-for-a-bygone-lebanon/

Read More →

Photo: REUTERS / Rodi Said

Ever since World War II, the United States has had a foreign policy where it supports its democratic allies and friends, and opposes its enemies. Today, in a simplistic tweet, U.S. President Donald Trump has just reversed this sound, longstanding American policy.

The critically important tweet read: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, the evacuation orders have been given. As I write these words, some 2,200 U.S. service men and women are packing up their bags to leave Syria within the next 24 hours.

This is perhaps the most ruinous idea for the region since Obama’s 2015 Iranian nuclear deal. Both ideas have emboldened, enriched and empowered Iran—the greatest regional threat not just to Israel, but to the United States, which is patently apparent in their regime’s hostile rhetoric.

Both ideas, along with President Barack Obama’s unenforced “red line,” have created a power vacuum in Syria, where not only Iran but America’s other adversaries and potential enemies, such as Russia under Vladmir Putin, Syria under Bashar Assad and Turkey under Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, immediately have swooped in to fill the void.

If America is not there on the ground, it will not have a seat at the table regarding the potential outcome of this Syrian war.

This precipitous exit can only come from someone who lacks even the most fundamental   understanding of the nature of the Middle East, as well as the psychology of some of the actors. ISIS might be nearly defeated in its present form. However, the struggle for the members of ISIS and other radical Islamic groups is a passionate, ideological one. They might suffer a temporary defeat in battle, but they are convinced that they will eventually win the war.

Much like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt that went underground under the years of Mubarak—only to re-emerge under Mohamed Morsi—ISIS is likely to re-incarnate itself and emerge in a stronger form, such as the Al-Nusra Front.

Beyond ISIS (in whatever future incarnation it might decide to take), there is an entire array of complex threats in the region that will emanate from Syrian borders, which include but are not limited to Iran, with its proxy organizations the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah. These nefarious forces are becoming more and more entrenched in southern Syria, and are as far south as Quinetra.

Bearing in mind that earlier this month, Iran fired a medium-range ballistic-missile test that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “is capable of carrying multiple warheads,” this leaves Israel totally exposed in its northern border.

I have often argued that there should be synergy between our foreign policy, and what is ethical and right. America has always been, hitherto now, a moral beacon, or as President Ronald Reagan had called it, “that shining city on the Hill.”

Moral beacons do not desert their friends.

What sort of message does this send to our friends in the region? We will be throwing the Kurds, our allies who have shed their blood together with us defeating ISIS, to the wolves? How does that make our other allies in other troubled regions of the world feel? What incentive would there be for other nations, such as Japan or South Korea, to trust us and want to ally themselves with us?

Throughout American history, there has been a familiar cycle of such isolationist tendencies. All of these have been like waving a rare, sizzling steak to the voracious, hungry dogs in the region.

One such example was the “America First Committee,” founded prior to World War II by Charles Lindbergh. In 1941, he said, “When history is written, the responsibility for the downfall of the democracies of Europe will rest squarely upon the shoulders of the interventionists who led their nations into war, uninformed and unprepared.”

As Franklin Roosevelt had said in response to this tendency: “Some indeed still hold to the now somewhat obvious delusion that we of the United States can safely permit the United States to become a lone island, a lone island in a world dominated by the philosophy of force. Such an island may be the dream of those who still talk and vote as isolationists. Such an island represents to me and to the overwhelming majority of Americans today a helpless nightmare, the helpless nightmare of a people without freedom; yes, the nightmare of a people lodged in prison, handcuffed, hungry, and fed through the bars from day to day by the contemptuous, unpitying masters of other continents.”

In the age of globalism and of medium- to long-range nuclear missiles, there simply are no safe islands we can retreat to. We should avoid the seductive impulse to flee from minor battles in the region. For by doing so, we will only pave the way for a much wider regional war.

Originally published at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/withdrawal-and-retreat-from-syria-will-cause-the-region-to-combust/

Read More →

Photo: MEMRI-TV

The murder of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents has dominated foreign policy news for months. Prominent members of Congress are increasingly upset that the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia has interfered with the rigorous pursuit of justice for Khashoggi. After all, they argue, Jamal Khashoggi was a US resident, so there should be consequences for the man who, according to the CIA, planned his murder – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman – the de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia. Many of these members of Congress also argue that Khashoggi’s murder is so serious that the strong, longtime, US-Saudi relationship must be re-evaluated if there is no justice.

But the Khashoggi case is hardly unique. In fact, there is a similar, but far more serious, situation that resulted in the deaths of two American citizens and the wounding of several others. This occurred on August 9, 2001, when a Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem was pulverized by a suicide bomber.

On that day, Malki Roth, a 15-year-old girl; Judith Greenbaum, a pregnant 31-year-old woman; other American citizens; and many Israelis went to the Sbarro Pizzeria to enjoy some American-style pizza. The Pizzeria, on Ben Yehuda Street, was one of the busiest pedestrian intersections in Jerusalem and was a popular place, especially for families with children. At approximately 2 p.m., at the height of the lunch hour, a blast went off. A Palestinian terrorist named Izz al-Din Shuheil al-Masri had triggered a powerful bomb that was hidden in his guitar case, which was also packed with nails, nuts and bolts in order to cause maximum damage.

Fifteen people were killed in the blast, eight of them children, and 130 more people were wounded. Malki Roth was a teenager so thoughtful and loving that she often helped her mother care for her handicapped sibling. And Judith Greenbaum, an only child who arrived in Israel with her husband as part of her graduate studies, who was five months pregnant at the time. Another four US citizens – David Danzig, Matthew Gordon, Joanne Nachenberg and Sara Nachenberg – were wounded. To this day, Joanne Nachenberg remains in a vegetative state.

Ahlam Tamimi, a Palestinian Arab citizen of Jordan, was the terrorist planner of this operation. She was a 20-year-old student at the time and a supporter of Hamas. Tamimi had even accompanied the suicide bomber there, leaving just before the blast. We know all of this because Tamimi has brazenly bragged about it time and time again, in television and radio interviews, many of which come up in a simple Google search. 

Tamimi has spoken about how she spent nine days looking for the perfect place to maximize deaths, how disappointed she initially was when it was first reported that there were only a few deaths, and how important it was to her and the bomber that religious Jews be in the blast area. In all her videos she expressed delight at her actions. In one particularly chilling video, Tamimi was asked if she knew how many children she killed. Her response was “three,” and when she was corrected with the true number – eight – a huge, self-satisfied smile crossed her face.

In late 2002, Tamimi was sentenced by an Israeli court to 16 multiple sentences for her part in this massacre. However, on October 19, 2011, she, together with 1,026 other terrorists, were traded for Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas.
When Ahlam Tamimi was released she was deported to Jordan, where she received a hero’s welcome. As a terrorist, she received money from the Palestinian Authority, at least $52,681, under the “pay-for-slay” program. The Hamas television station Al-Quds gave Tamimi her own television show, which aired every Friday and, until recently, was broadcast around the world. She married her cousin, Nazir Tamimi, who also had been serving time in an Israeli prison for killing an Israeli citizen, and who also was released in exchange for Gilad Schalit. Their wedding was broadcast throughout the Arab world.

For decades, we at the Endowment for Middle East Truth have worked exhaustedly to get justice for the families of the Americans killed and wounded in Israel and the disputed territories by Palestinian terrorists like Ahlam Tamimi. We have successfully worked with Congress on multiple letters to the Department of Justice, and twice inspired hearings on the subject. At the second hearing, Arnold Roth, the father of Malki, was brought in to testify. At that hearing, for the first time ever, Brad Wiegmann, the deputy assistant attorney-general in the National Security Division, who supervises these prosecutions, was called to account for the DOJ’s lack of prosecution and was forced to provide a future report to the subcommittee.

Largely because it is so egregious, there has been some progress in the Tamimi case. In 2013, after the congressional letters, Tamimi was indicted by the Obama administration, and her extradition was requested from Jordan. In 2017, after the hearings, the indictment was made public by the Trump administration. But the Jordanian government has refused to extradite Tamimi, claiming there is no valid extradition treaty with the US. They refused, even though the US and Jordan signed an extradition treaty in 1995 that the State Department and the DOJ still recognize as valid. They refused even though in 1995, in 2006 and in 2015, Jordan extradited three criminal terrorists to the US that were wanted there. And they refused even though the Jordanian government receives more than a billion dollars a year in aid from the US

This injustice cannot be allowed to stand.

Ahlam Tamimi is a brutal terrorist murderer who has killed and wounded American citizens. She has reveled in her crimes and urged others to follow in her footsteps. Letting her live unmolested, celebrated and financially rewarded in Jordan is obscene. If the US needs to punish the man Mohammed Bin Salman who planned the murder of US resident Jamal Khashoggi, and the nation Saudi Arabia that protects him, then our nation should also punish Ahlam Tamimi who killed and wounded US citizens, and Jordan, the nation that is protecting her. Justice demands nothing less.

Originally published at: https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/When-diplomacy-interferes-with-justice-574420

Read More →

Photo: Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Updated: January 22, 2019

As most are aware, hate speech is protected speech under the Constitution. However, there is a huge distinction between what’s said in the town square and what is uttered on the university campus. Within the university, one is supposed to create a non-hostile environment that is conducive for learning for all students.

Free speech on college campuses is one of the most thorny of constitutional issues. We take the First Amendment to be a cherished American right. At college, students should be able to engage freely in the exhilarating intellectual pursuits of the mind. Being able to question, challenge and debate is what makes the university experience so extraordinary. Contrary to what is deemed popular in the age of “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces,” I believe nothing should be “off-limits,” and that students should fully participate in civil debate and be able to support their arguments with evidence.

The ideal objective of the university should be the quest for the truth. It should be part of what John Stuart Mill had described the university as being “the marketplace of ideas.”

Having had said that, the operative word here is “civil.” Why is it that there are protections in place for almost every other minority group, but not for our Jewish students?

Why is it that a student can be suspended from school for writing the “N” word on Facebook, but Jewish students often are afraid of crossing the quad with a yarmulke on his head or a Star of David around her neck.

The plethora of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses has been reaching a fevered pitch. A Google search shows some alarming incidences: This week, Purchase College in Harrison, N.Y., has been disgraced by Nazi posters depicting swastikas and Adolf Hitler. On Dec. 3, at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, a student found a book for a research project defaced with a swastika; one page had written “Jews have no business at CMU” and in another handwriting, “You are right.”

A 77-year-old Jewish psychology professor, Elizabeth Midlarsky, at Teacher’s College of Columbia University on New York City’s Upper West Side, found two red swastikas and the word “Yid” spray-painted on the walls of her office. On Nov. 20 at Duke University in Durham, N.C., a swastika defaced a memorial that some students had put up in memory of the 11 Jewish worshippers killed in the Pittsburgh synagogue mass shooting.

Oftentimes, these cowardly, anonymous acts go unpunished.

What is even more disturbing is that under the cover of “free speech,” organizations such as Students for Justice in Palestine have acted as a base for support for frenzied, anti-Israel activities on American campuses, which create a predominant feeling of hostility towards Israel and the Jewish people.

Their students might have the right for their free speech, but it is only free speech for thee, and not for me. Oftentimes, Jewish students are bullied, harassed and intimidated when they want to hold a pro-Israel rally.

Their songs of peace, “Oseh Shalom,” are often drowned out by: “From the river to the sea, Palestine should be free.”

It’s a chant that leaves one wondering, “Where does that leave Israel?” And “what do they intend to do with our people?”

And sometimes, such as at a 2016 Students for Justice in Palestine rally at Hunter College on New York City’s Upper East Side, the chant was “Jews out of CUNY” and “Death to Jews.”

Substitute the word “black” for Jews in those two sentences, and ask yourself if university administrators would still consider this an acceptable free-speech issue on their campuses?

Often ignored are ties between groups that hold the rallies and fight for the BDS movement, and their links to terrorist organizations.

In 2016, Jonathan Schanzer, of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, who had worked for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He explained how the largest organizer of the BDS movement in the United States, Students for Justice in Palestine, is orchestrated and largely funded by a Hamas front group, American Muslims for Palestine. He also described how the heads of this entity are former officers of the “Holy Land Foundation,” which in 2001 was convicted of money-laundering and funneling the money to Hamas, a State Department-listed terrorist organization.

Many times, university administrators feign ignorance about what constitutes anti-Semitism. That is precisely why the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is necessary. It simply gives a definition so that university administrators can recognize anti-Semitism when they see it.

This definition is the exact same one as that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and is used in another branch of our federal government, the U.S. Department of State. It defines anti-Semitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

It also specifically states: “Manifestations might include the targeting of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity.” However, it adds that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as anti-Semitic.”

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) sponsored the Awareness Act, and it passed in December of 2016 by a vote of 99-0. However, it was tied up in the House Judiciary Committee by chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), who erroneously interpreted this as “an assault on free speech.”

Amid all of this depressing talk, there is a bit of good news. The good news is that Goodlatte retired at the end of the 115th Congress and Jerald Nadler (D-N.Y.), who had already signed onto the bill in the House, is now the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Let’s hope that Chairman Nadler will not be so focused on the Russian investigation so as to prohibit him from addressing some other critically important issues, such as this one.

So perhaps the same protections that every other minority group gets will soon be given to our Jewish and pro-Israel students.

Originally published at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/free-speech-for-thee-and-not-for-me/

Read More →

When you think certain nations have descended to the ultimate moral nadir of the universe, you never fail to be astonished with just how much farther they are capable of descending.

A report in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal states that France and Germany have just linked forces to salvage an effort to create back-channel payments to Iran, defying the U.S.-led effort to sanction the regime for its nuclear activity. This effort, known as “Special Forces Vehicle,” or SPV, amounts to nothing more than a brazen effort by the two nations to diminish the effort to sanction the Islamic Republic for their work towards making a nuclear bomb.

Simply for money.

France has a long and sorry history of helping the enemies of the Jewish state develop the means of genocide, simply for money. In 1976, Saddam Hussein’s government purchased the Iraqi nuclear reactor, the Osirak, from France. Saddam of yesterday—like the leaders of Iran today—had made clear exactly what his intention was. In numerous speeches, Saddam had pledged to “scorch half of Israel.”

During World War II, the French Vichy government, along with the French police force, eagerly linked forces with the Nazis to round up Jews and put them in concentration camps, diminishing their Jewish population by roughly one-quarter.

And Germany: Have you no shame?

Just this past Saturday, Hassan Rouhani, the so-called “moderate” president of Iran, called Israel “a cancerous tumor” and a “fake regime,” created in the aftermath of World War II in order to advance the interests of Western countries.

There are three reasons to be very concerned about this statement.

First of all, what “moderate” calls for the extermination of a nation?

Secondly, we Jews have learned from our long and painful history that when leaders evoke biological analogies to “cancers” or “vermin,” they are desensitizing their populations in order to objectify and dehumanize us, to clear their populace of any remnant of remaining empathy towards us before doing something truly egregious.

And finally, the fact that Israel has been referred to as a “fake regime” is simply the au current way of wiping out our history and delegitimizing our genuine claim to the land, as the original indigenous people of Israel—a claim that has been verified over and over again by mountains of historic, genealogical and anthropological evidence.

However, the chilling and critical fact is that the Iranians have most likely kept their nuclear infrastructure in place, and the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) has not been living up to its verification responsibilities.

A treasure trove of documents was retrieved by the Israelis in their stunning raid on the Iranian nuclear documents depot in Tehran earlier this year, led the Institute for Science and International Security to issue a new report on Nov. 20. The report states that the Iranians intended to build five nuclear weapons, and “that Iran had put in place by the end of 2003 the infrastructure for a comprehensive nuclear-weapons program. The evidence supports that Iran was preparing to conduct and underground test of a nuclear-weapons program. The end goal was to have tested, deliverable nuclear weapons, and Iran made more progress toward that goal than known before the seizure of the archives.”

The Institute for Science and International Security, of course, puts the onus on Iran for disclosing the information and granting access to both sites and individuals. It emphatically states, however, that:

“It is the responsibility of the IAEA and member states to ensure that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is ended in an irretrievable permanent manner. … Although absence of progress on this critical issue if largely due to lack of Iranian cooperation, fault also lies with some who negotiated the JCPOA and have failed to empower the IAEA do so. There is no visible indication that the IAEA is yet acting on this new information.”

This report, which should have made headlines, also states that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, only “helped limit the uranium and plutonium enrichment programs, creating a bottleneck that will eventually end. Once it does, Iran will still maintain all the infrastructure and weapons to build weapons at a later date. The current U.S. strategy to ramp up pressure through sanctions is probably the best way to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons.”

And finally, the report states that “the IAEA’s unwillingness to ask to inspect the warehouse site and its slow response to acting on the information in the archives after being secretly briefed about their existence and purpose from Israel raises questions about the IAEA’s impartiality and ability to verify both the JCPOA and Iran’s nonproliferation commitments. It is not only the Secretariat, but the IAEA Board of Governors, which has not lived up to its task. They have created a double nonproliferation standard which, unless remedied, will decrease the chance of ensuring Iran does not build nuclear weapons and will serve as a playbook for future proliferators.”

France: Avez-vous pas honte? Germany: Haste du keine Schande?

And to all of those members of the international community, including those of the Obama administration who were responsible for negotiating the grossly inadequate JCPOA in 2015: Have you no shame?

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/france-and-germany-have-you-no-shame/

Photo: AFP

Read More →

The dead have not all been buried. Yet, they have been used as cudgels for partisan political attacks.  Immediately after the ghastly attack on worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the single most horrific anti-Semitic attack in US history.

I would like to make one simple request: Out of respect for the dead, please refrain from the temptation of using this tragedy as a club with which to bludgeon one’s political opponents.

No matter how passionately you might feel about the moral rectitude of your own personal political party over the other.

It is time to focus on healing. Focus on what we can do to heal a scarred, fractured nation, and a scared, fractured people.

We Jews felt we have finally come to a place we can call home, where we can plant our trees, nurture them and let them  blossom on fertile soil. That it could never happen here.

And then it happened here. In ironically, The Tree of life Synagogue.

We are still recoiling from the fact that our sacred space has been invaded. The place we go to strengthen our collective identity, our history and our faith; where we turn to in times of personal crisis, sorrow and joy, has been invaded and  turned into a killing field by this wretched imitation of a human being, Robert Bowers.

As soon as this odious event hit the news, the most frequent response I heard was “Donald Trump set the tone for this.”

By laying the blame on someone else’s door, it takes  personal agency away from where it directly belongs, on the murderer himself, Robert Bowers,  the heinous act and the heinous screed of Nazism which he represents.

This, despite the fact that President Trump’s response to this was immediate and unequivocal, calling it “devastating” and laying bare “the hatred in this country”.

This, despite the fact that President Trump, at an Illinois rally, called this an anti-Semitic act, and “an attack on all of us”, to rousing applause.

This, despite the fact that Robert Bowers, himself, said he did not vote for Donald Trump, or never, “owned, worn or even touched” a “Make America Great Again” hat.

Yes, there are repulsive anti-Semites within the fringes of both parties, lurking among the shadows of the internet. The simple fact remains that within the extremes of both tents, our people are not welcome.

A simple google search to the Southern Poverty Law Center website reveals  the bone-chilling fact that there are a plethora of neo-Nazi groups in this country, and these are the classic, right wing anti-Semites, whom one might well suspect that, as individuals, probably feel more comfortable within the republican party.

Yet, the most recent Pew Poll of January 2018 says that an overwhelming majority of republicans as opposed to democrats, support Israel over the Palestinians. The hiatus is staggering, with 79 % of republicans supporting Israel over the Palestinians, and 27% of democrats.

That is Israel– the only explicitely Jewish state—home for more Jews, 6.5 million, than anywhere else on earth.

Within the current House races there are some ominous signs.

In Minnesota’s 5th Congressional district, a Somali born candidate, Ilham Omar is running on the democratic ticket.  She recently said , “I am just someone who is a public servant working to create a better society who just happens to be a Muslim refuge”, yet , on November 16, 2012 she tweeted “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them to see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine  #Israel”

In New York’s 14th Congressional District,  democratic candidate Alexandria Occasio-Cortez has called Israel’s defensive actions on the border of Gaza, where Hamas terrorists are trying to infiltrate Israel with the expressed intent  of murdering as many Israelis as possible, “a massacre”, and has asked “Where is the outrage?”, before admitting that “I am not an expert on the issue.”

Rashida Tlaib, the democratic candidate in Michigan’s 13th   district, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, has vowed that she will “absolutely” vote against any military aid to Israel.

However, when one expresses legitimate concern over these statements, one is immediately and conveniently accused of being “Islamophobic”, the ultimate conversation stopper.

Unfortunately, according to the ADL anti-Semitism acts were up by 57% in 2017, over 2016. Most attacks are occurring on college campuses, with a 50% spike in K through 12 schools and on college campuses.

Anti-Semitism is a very virulent virus, for which there is no known antidote, and which has found a welcome home within the extremes of both political parties.

And the leaders of both political parties have a moral imperative to call it out when they see it taking root in their midst.

So please, spare me the sanctimonious, one-sided political lectures. The finger pointing must stop.

We need to find messages of unity, of solace and of hope.

We need to remember that the vast majority of Americans are people of good will who would never countenance any act of ant-Semitism, for one nanosecond, and who have sent my people thousands of compassionate messages of friendship, solidarity and support.

We need to remember that most Americans had ancestors who came to these shores in pursuit of the very same thing our fathers and grandfathers sought: religious freedom. And that religious liberty is one of the core principles upon which this great nation was founded.

Let’s try to use this time to concentrate on what unites us, as a people, which is far greater than what has ever divided us.

Sarah N. Stern is Founder and President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC.

Read More →

The tragic disappearance and likely death of Jamal Khashoggi after he recently entered the consulate of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul has lifted a rock under which the egregious human-rights practices of the Saudi kingdom have been swarming for decades. It always struck me as ironic that before the word “Saudi Arabia” has been uttered, we often heard the reflexive prefix: “our moderate Arab ally.” Most of us are aware that in 1945, President Franklin Roosevelt met with Saudi King Ibn Saud on the USS Quincy and made a Faustian bargain, trading their petroleum for American security.

We know of the ugly and dreadful incident of Jamal Khashoggi because he was a well-known journalist for The Washington Post.

However, we barely hear mentioned that Khashoggi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which attempts to conquer the West with Islamism (radical Islam). Like so many other members of the Muslim Brotherhood, he dressed up his hegemonic ambitions for the ascension of Sunni Islamism over that of the West with words like “freedom and democracy.”

And like many other protestors, he had hoped the Arab Spring would pave the way for the overthrow of a despicable autocracy, but perhaps only to replace it with an even more despicable form of radical Islam.

Yes, Saudi Arabia’s record on human rights is deplorable.

While much of the world was bowing and genuflecting over Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon because he finally allowed women the right to drive (only while being accompanied by a related male companion), a woman’s testimony in a Saudi Court counts for half of that of a man’s. A woman cannot get a passport or any government document without the consent of her male guardian, nor can she study in a university, get a job, get married or even enter a hospital to give birth without being accompanied by her husband, father or brother.

People are arbitrarily arrested, tortured and killed in Saudi Arabia without due process. There is no such thing as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly or religious freedom. In 2016, a Saudi Court sentenced 14 people to death for practicing Shi’ite Islam. According to Human Rights Watch, Asraa al-Ghomgham, a woman, is now awaiting the death penalty for such crimes as “chanting slogans hostile to the regime,” and “filming protests and publishing on social media.”

Yet, Saudi Arabia is hardly alone for human-rights abuses in the Arab and Islamist world.

Look at the Islamic Republic of Iran and you can see very much the same thing. The Islamic Republic denies the basic freedoms of the press, of association or peaceful protest or of religion. There is no transparency or due process. People are routinely and arbitrarily arrested or discriminated against for being of a different ethnic group or religion, or for expressing a divergent political viewpoint.

Trials run by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have been closed, brief and systematically unfair. Lately, the IRGC has been targeting foreign nationals and dual citizens with the “crime” of “cooperating with a hostile state,” without revealing any of their evidence.

Women are arbitrarily beaten by “morality police” if they feel that strands of hair are showing through their hijab, or if they are wearing makeup or tight clothes. Acts of violence against women and girls remain widespread. The legal age of marriage is 13, and fathers and grandfathers can obtain consent from the courts to marry off their daughters at even younger ages. Acts of violence and domestic violence against women remain widespread, and are practiced with impunity.Women have been arrested, detained and tortured for taking off their hijabs publicly. Gays are routinely hung in the public square. Floggings and amputations are carried out with impunity.

Because of their involvement in peaceful protests, scores of youngsters are denied the right to an education.

According to Amnesty International’s report on Iran, in 2017-18”hundreds of people were executed, some in public, and thousands remained on death row. They include people under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.”

Saudi Arabia is no bastion of Jeffersonian democracy. Nor is Turkey, Syria, Qatar, Iran or any Islamist nation.

Iran, however, remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. And it is only expanding its presence—from Tehran, to Baghdad, Beirut and Damascus—and would like to extend itself as far as the Mediterranean as its leaders work on their nuclear design to dominate the world.

And Saudi Arabia might be a pivotal partner in this looming confrontation.

We have to remember that the Middle East is a treacherous neighborhood. No, the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend. It might, however, be a strategic ally for today’s survival.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/the-enemy-of-your-enemy-is-not-necessarily-your-friend/

Read More →

Yet another woman was made a widow on Sept. 16, and another four children were made orphans by the egregious act of a Palestinian terrorist, Khalil Jabarin. The victim, Ari Fuld, had simply been running an errand for his wife in a local shopping center in Efrat, just south of Jerusalem.

Ari was a true fighter for Israel. He was assistant director of “Standing Together,” an organization that supports Israeli soldiers. Ari served in the Israel Defense Forces, narrowly escaped death in Lebanon. He saved his shrapnel-ridden vest as a reminder of “who is really in charge.”

Ari also was an avid defender of Israel—not only on the physical battlefield, but also in the battlefield of ideas. He constantly ran towards danger to defend the Jewish people, going down to Sderot and the kibbutzim neighboring Gaza, exactly when the rockets were most steadily falling. He went into forums and talk shows dominated by left-wing thinkers who professed the idea that Israel was an “apartheid state founded on original sin” and disabused them of their many pernicious falsehoods.

Ari brought moral clarity and truth into arenas that had been imbued with the murkiness of moral ambiguity and self-doubt about our people’s rightful claim to the land.

After being stabbed by the terrorist, Ari summoned every last ounce of strength to fight off his attacker, subduing him before he could do any more harm. He was a true fighter for Israel until the very end.

He is also the 70th American to have been killed by Palestinian terrorists since the signing of the Oslo Accords (not including two unborn children). Nearly 3,000 Israeli citizens were murdered by Palestinian terrorists in that amount of time.

I have constantly marveled at the strength of the families that have somewhere summoned up the courage to go on.

How one might react when put in this horrific place is deeply individual and subjective. One must never place judgement on the individual response of these profoundly bereaved family members.

Having had said that, I have been uniquely privileged to have gotten to know some bereaved family members who have someone managed to summon up the strength to dedicate their lives to finding something constructive from their enormous pain. They are the true heroes in the fight against Palestinian terrorism and the radical Islamic assault on Western civilization.

Heroes such as Sherri and Seth Mandell, who took the horrendous murder of their 13-year-old son, Koby, and turned their grief into a place of healing and love by creating camps and retreats  for other family members who have lost loved ones to Palestinian terrorism.

Heroes such as Stuart and Robbi Force, who used the enormous pain of the murder of their 28-year-old son and former U.S. serviceman Taylor to pass a law in his name prohibiting American funding to go to the Palestinian “martyr’s fund” that rewards the families of terrorist with generous stipends, and thus incentivized terrorism.

Heroes such as Arnold and Frimet Roth, whose daughter Malki, 15, an American citizen, was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist at the Sbarro pizzeria massacre in the summer of 2001. Malki was an aspiring special educator and helped take care of her severely handicapped sister, Chaya.

In all, 15 civilians had also been murdered, including one other American Judith Greenbaum, 31, who was five months pregnant at the time, and 130 people were wounded. One person, Chana Nachenberg, has remained in a permanent vegetative state, and five members of a single family—the Schijveschuurder family—were killed.

What makes this case particularly egregious is that the architect of this attack, Ahlam Tamimi, has made a career about this and has openly boasted about her act, multiple times. She had been sentenced in an Israeli court to 16 life sentences.

While in prison, she was asked by an Israel journalist if she knew how many Israeli children she had killed. She flippantly responded, “I don’t know … 3?” When she was told that she had killed eight, her response was a gleeful “8! I killed 8 Jewish children!”

Unfortunately, in October of 2011, Tamimi was traded along with 1,026 other terrorists in exchange IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas.

When she was released from prison, she immediately traveled to Jordan, where she was greeted like a conquering hero. She then became the host of her own Jordanian talk show on the Hamas station, Al Quds TV.

According to American law (18 USC, Section 2332), anytime an American citizen is murdered by terrorists abroad, our government has jurisdiction and is directed to prosecute the perpetrator to the full extent of the law. There is no statute of limitations.

On July 15, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice filed criminal charges against Tamimi in the District of Columbia for conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals, outside the United States, resulting in death.

Tamimi is the first Palestinian terrorist to face criminal prosecution in the United States. A great deal of this is due to the Herculean efforts of Malki’s parents, who have been met with enormous obstacles of bureaucratic red tape, unfortunately, on both sides of the Atlantic.

On March 14, 2017, an American official from the FBI met with Arnold and Frimet Roth to let them know that the criminal complaint has been unsealed. I received a beautiful email that evening from Arnold Roth saying that “for the first time, I am proud that Malki was an American.”

Unfortunately, Jordan has refused U.S. extradition requests, claiming that they do not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

However, in 1995, the Jordanian authorities did honor an extradition treaty with the United States by extraditing Eyad Ismoil, who was guilty of the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Ismoil has been sentenced to 240 years in prison, and is currently in a maximum security prison in Colorado.

I pray that a similar fate awaits Ahlam Tamimi.

This is a simple matter of American justice. Not to demand the extradition of Tamimi telegraphs a tepid, flaccid message to would-be terrorists around the globe regarding our national resolve, and smacks of a pernicious double standard when it comes to the blood of American Jews.

For the sake of Ari Fuld and Malki Roth and countless others, this must be done.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/for-the-sake-of-ari-fuld-malki-roth-and-countless-others/

Photo: BBC

Read More →

U.S. President Donald Trump gave the Jewish people a gift of historic proportions by taking the issue of Jerusalem off the table back in December. On Aug. 25, President Trump gave a gift that is arguably of equal or greater value to the Jewish nation by significantly reducing by $200 million the aid that the United States gives to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat predictably called the decision “disgraceful,” and said that President Trump was “meddling in the internal affairs of other people in an attempt to impact their national options.”

Since when is it that an American president deciding how to spend U.S. taxpayer dollars is considered “meddling in the affairs of other people”?

Beyond that, according to an Aug. 25 report on Israeli Channel 2 news, the Trump administration announced that it will oppose the Palestinian claim for the “right of return” for the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees displaced by the 1948 war.

If true, this would be a historic development—not just to the American taxpayer, the Jewish people and the State of Israel, but to the Palestinians themselves.

UNRWA was formed in 1949, in the aftermath of the 1948 War for Palestinian refugees. These refugees, fleeing from the war (Dec. 1, 1947 to June 1, 1948), originally numbered 550,000 to 600,000. Because the Palestinians have inflated the number—and because they count multiple generations of descendants—the figure that Palestinians and their advocates now invoke is 5 million.

The U.N. High Commission of Refugees defines a “refugee” as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.” Only in the case of the Palestinians is this status passed down for generations.

And only in the case of the UNRWA is there a refugee agency exclusively for one particular refugee group. In 1950, in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) was established to deal with the millions of displaced refugees. However, the Arab League refused to allow the Palestinian refugees to go under that rubric.

Why? Because the mandate of UNHCR is for the refugees to be settled and integrated into their host country as soon as possible. The Arab League, however, wanted to keep the Palestinian refugees in a perpetual state of limbo in order to use the Palestinian refugee issue as a thorn in the side of Israel.

The Arab world seems have no concern over their Palestinian brethren, apparently preferring to keep generations of Palestinians in a perpetual state of victimhood, squalor and conflict.

According to David Bedein of the Center for Near East Policy Research, “the right of return is the focus of the entire life … to take back their homes that were abandoned in 1948. … The children are taught you have to go back to these homes and kill the people who live there.”

Upon entering the Aida UNRWA camp, for example, one immediately sees a gate adorned by an oversized key, symbolic of their ancestor’s house left behind in Israel. The symbol of the key is used constantly in pageants that UNRWA schools put on, where the message is constantly drummed in that they will someday return to their ancestor’s orchards and vineyard in pre-1948 Israel.

Throughout the camp—and particularly, inside the schools—pictures hang on walls glorifying  Palestinian shahids (“martyrs”), with messages encouraging youngsters to follow in their “noble” footsteps. Prominently displayed is the ubiquitous map of Israel, of course labeled “Palestine.”

During the summer, young children attend a camp where they engage in military exercises, replete with walls they are taught to crawl under and firewalls they are taught to jump over, dressed in in military fatigues.

Recently, Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), asked for a General Accounting Office report of what is being taught in the UNRWA schools, but for some inexplicable reason, that office insists on keeping the report “classified.”

Perhaps because the results are too damaging to UNRWA.

According to a recent study conducted by CNEPR together with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, in which 150 textbooks from kindergarten through 12th grade were examined, researchers found Israel and Jews depicted as “demonic,” with violent liberation emphasized. A 2017 text even includes a disturbing text by describing a Molotov cocktail attack on an Israeli bus as a “barbeque party,” while another extols the virtues of Dalal Mughrabi, the female Palestinian terrorist who was responsible for the massacre of 38 Israeli civilians.

All of this stands in stark contrast to the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which proclaims, among other things, that “the child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions.”

Kids who are unfortunate enough to be educated in UNRWA camps enjoy none of the benefits of a normal childhood. Instead, they are indoctrinated to become nothing more than bullets in a war machine—in a war that they will inevitably lose.

Originally published at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/reducing-the-malevolent-impact-of-unrwa/

Photo: terrorism-info.org.il

Read More →

Following the seizure of the Syrian Golan Heights by the Syrian military loyal to leader Bashar Assad, the IDF was recently forced to shut down the Mazor Ladach field hospital. The hospital had treated approximately 6,800 casualties of the brutal seven-year Syria civil war as part of Israel’s Good Neighbor program.

The first losers here are, of course, the Syrian people in need of medical care.

Israel had also been providing sorely needed medical equipment, baby formula, food and fuel to the Syrian refugees amassed along Israel’s northeastern border. The proximity of over 100,000 Iranian-backed troops as far south as Quneitra makes the delivery of these life-sustaining materials even more treacherous.

Now Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have become increasingly entrenched in the area, making this region, which has been relatively stable for 45 years, a potential line of confrontation.

This constitutes just one more chapter in the rapidly expanding book of Iran’s pernicious influence in the Middle East. They aim to create an uninterrupted land bridge stretching from Tehran through Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean Sea.

Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights creates an important roadblock in that land bridge.

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, once again, in its defensive war of 1973 from attacking Syrian forces.

Since 1974, when a Separation of Forces Agreement was negotiated, the Golan Heights has remained relatively peaceful.

The U.N. Disengagement Observer Force oversees the 50-mile-long buffer zone between the two sides. However, it has occasionally been attacked by Fatah al-Sham Front (formerly known as the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida). Thus, the 1,000-man force, tellingly, prefers to remain on the Israeli side.

The Golan Heights has served as the demarcation line between the chaotic, feuding forces of radical Islam and the liberal, Western-oriented State of Israel. It creates the definitive dividing line between authoritarian rule and a vibrant, thriving democracy.

The Golan affords Israel a unique topographical vantage point for defensive and intelligence strategy from which its military can peer directly into Damascus and Beirut. It affords the population of Israel a unique defensive shield.

In 1981, the Israeli government voted to extend Israeli civil law to the Golan Heights.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly met with Russian President Vladamir Putin to request that he use his influence to remove Iranian troops from Syria. However, although Moscow has offered assurances, the Russians have already demonstrated that they are unwilling to do anything to remove Iranian forces. The IRGC and Hezbollah forces have been deeply intermingled with Syrian army forces, and have even been given Syrian military uniforms to conceal their activities.

There are no surprises here. The Syrian regime has been kept on life support through Putin’s Russia and the Iranian ayatollahs. Russia is only concerned about flexing its power on the world’s stage and sees the failed state of Syria as an opportunity to do so. And Iran is on a march to establish its own Shiite caliphate.

Earlier this summer, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeated his exhortation that “Israel is a cancerous tumor that must be eliminated.” IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said, “I am awaiting orders to eradicate the evil regime [Israel]” and “Israel has no strategic depth and therefore this can be easily achieved.”

The inherent instability of Syria has created fertile territory for Russia and Iran, as well as for a whole scorpion pit of terrorist groups such as ISIS, Fatah al-Sham Front, Hezbollah and the IRGC to dig in.

Israel’s presence on the border of the Golan Heights offers the United States valuable eyes and ears into all of these pernicious forces. It 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 these 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, which in turn perpetuates a potential state of war.

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.

Originally published: http://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/time-to-recognize-israeli-sovereignty-on-the-golan/

Photo: Cpl. Gal Ashuach, IDF

Read More →