About the author  ⁄ Sarah Stern

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

Photo: Sean McCabe for POLITICO

On July 23, 2015, when the Obama administration was in the throes of trying to push, what they considered their signature, landmark, foreign policy achievement, the Iranian nuclear deal, through Congress, John Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and gave the members a stark choice: “It is either this deal or war”.

As it turns out, Congress never really had the opportunity to vote on the nuclear deal. The Obama administration in order to avoid the constitutionally -mandated Senate approval with a foreign power, simply used a linguistic trick, and avoided calling the agreement a “treaty”, but a “deal”.

Rather, the United States, leading the charge, injected itself as only one of six nations, so the international momentum for this deal would take on a life of its own. Then, before Congress even had the opportunity to vote on it, the Obama administration did an “end run” around Congress and took it to the United Nations for a vote.

In an incredibly revealing,  New York Times of May 5, 2015 article by David Samuels of Obama’s Deputy National Security Council Advisor, Ben Rhodes, Mr. Rhodes was very upfront about how the Obama White House orchestrating a campaign to manipulate the news media by generating  false stories to paint Iran as more benign, to a team of newly-minted, guileless reporters.

Rhodes admitted to Samuels that this campaign was manufactured by “legions of arms control experts (who) began popping up at think tanks and on social media”, and who became “sources for clueless reporters.” According to Rhodes, “We created an echo chamber. They were saying things and validated what we were giving them to say.”

Most people have ignored the profound and deeply consequential immorality of what the Obama administration had done here. Many historians have written critical analyses of  how  the Sulzberger family, the publishers of the New York Times, buried the stories f the holocaust on its back pages. However, they did not create false narratives about the Nazis regarding the holocaust.

Iran might shortly have the ability to create a nuclear holocaust, and the Obama administration is guilty of manufacturing stories to whitewash the Islamic Republic, and  kicked the can of what was  then an emerging  danger down  the road. It is quickly, however, becoming a clear and present danger.

We are now approaching 2020. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, (JCPOA) which was agreed upon in July of 2015 has 8 to 10 year sunset clause. Tha sunset is not in the too distant future.

So even if the Iranians were keeping to this extraordinarily generous deal, we would have a problem in a few years.

The truth, however, is that they are not keeping to the deal. When they were intent on selling the deal to a skeptical public, we were told by President Obama that there was going to be “anywhere, anytime inspections”.

Subsequently, we were told that the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA) would have 24 hours to get into a nuclear site. Then the Iranians succeeded in pushing the 24 hours to 24 days.

Ultimately, however, the Iranians were able to convince John Kerry and his team of negotiators that “military sites were off limits”.

If I were an Iranian nuclear scientist, and was working on something that I would like to hide from the IAEA, I would simply work on it on a “military site”.

Technically, according to the JCPOA, Iran is in violation of the deal if the IAEA formally requests access to a suspicious site. However, according to an August 31, 2017 Reuters report, the IAEA has not visited a military site since the deal was implemented “because it has no reason to ask”.

Said the official, “We are not going to visit a military site just to send a political signal.”

By not inspecting the military sites, however, they are sending a clear political signal. They are sending a signal that the agency that is set up for the sole purpose of monitoring illicit nuclear activity is asleep on the job because of their political cowardice.

They are sending a signal of vitiation and of appeasement

We all know that Iran has become vastly more enriched, emboldened and empowered in the region because of the nuclear deal, and that they have created a land bridge from Tehran, to Baghdad, to Damascus to Beirut and are involved in military adventurism throughout the region, in Yemen, Iraq, Syria  and  Lebanon.

On May 13th,  Iran  attacked four shipping vessels in the Persian Gulf, two carrying the flag of Saudi Arabia, one of Norway and one of the United Arab Emirates. They are obviously trying to flex their muscles by attacking our allies.

John Kerry, I am afraid you were wrong. Dead wrong. Because of your administration’s policy of Iranian appeasement, this might ultimately become an issue of this deal and war.

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Last week, Germany’s Bundestag – or legislature – passeda non-binding resolution condemning the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaign as anti-Semitic. While the resolution may not have the force of law, it is an important recognition that BDS has little to do with Palestinian rights, and everything to do with isolating Israel, and, more generally, Jews. 

Poignantly, the motion described the BDS campaign as “reminiscent of the most terrible chapter in Germany history” recalling the Nazi slogan, “Don’t buy from Jews.”

The singular focus of the BDS campaign on Israel betrays its intent. As legal scholar, Eugene Kontorovich hasobserved, of the numerous ongoing territorial disputes in the world, only the one between Israel and the Palestinians is deemed serious enough to spark calls for a boycott.

The BDS campaign is not only anti-Semitic in its intent, it is also anti-Semitic in its effect. For example a 2015 Amcha Initiative studyshowed that there exists a “strong correlation between anti-Zionist student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and antisemitism.”

What Germany has learned through its painful history, and what America has yet to learn, is that words matter,

In recent years there have been numerous examples of how anti-Israel activism morphs into anti-Semitic actions. Many students across the country report feeling intimidated, bullied and threatened because of their Jewish identity or pro-Israel feelings.

A recently settledsuit against San Francisco State University (SFSU) was precipitatedby the exclusion of the school’s Hillel chapter from a “Know Your Rights” fair. According to one of the organizers, Professor Rahab Abdulhadi of the General Union of Palestine Studies of SFSU,  explained that Hillel -was disinvited from the event because Hillel was deemed to be “a privileged white group.” (This is exceedingly ironic, because in the 1930-s there were quotas against the admitting “ Jews and other inferior races” into the United States.)

In April, Rebecca Thau, a student at Harvard and president of the Hillel’s Undergraduate Steering Committee – releaseda statement saying that the campus’s Israel Apartheid Week was “vilifying students for their commitments and even their heritages, turning students away from — rather than toward — one another, and preventing meaningful conversation.”

Jewish students at Emory University in Atlanta were targetedwith “eviction notices,” posted on their dorm rooms as a means of protesting Israeli policy by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). SJP is one of the most prominent campus groups promoting BDS.

Golda Daphna, a student a Columbia University wrotethat the marginalization of Jews on campus through events like Israel Apartheid Week have the effect of making her and others conclude that they “do not feel at home in America because of our anti-Semitic college experience.”

Many university administrators claim that they do not know where free speech ends, and harassment, intimidations and threatening language begins. Our constitutionally inscribed first amendment rights are extremely precious to us all.  However, educational settings have a very fine line to walk.  While ensuring freedom of speech, they also have an obligation to protect students from psychological and emotional harassment so that the environment is conducive to learning.  

There are many protections for many minority groups within the educational setting. However, the one group that has been more singled out for abuse than any other, (according to national data), Jews, and most particularly Jewish students, have absolutely no legal protections.

Part of the problem lies in the fact that university administrators say they have no definition of anti-Semitism, so they cannot recognize it when they see it.  In order to answer this need  Sen. Tim Scott (R – S.C.) introduced the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act of 2019in March. 

The goal of the bill is to extend  the same Title VI protections  to Jewish students as most other  minority groups have on college campuses.  The definition that the bill provides is the very same definition that our State Department uses when instruction our diplomats as to how to recognize and call out anti-Semitism.

The bill uses the  definitionpublished in 2016 by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as the relevant one for the legislation. Imortant to note is that within this definition is “denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination, e.g. by claiming the the state of Israel is a racist endeavor. “

Given the growing problem of anti-Semitism on campus, it’s time for the House of Representatives to follow the Senate’s lead and introduce a companion measure to the Senate bill. Such legislation would protect Jewish students who are threatened by BDS-inspired intimidation and discrimination on U.S. college campuses.

If the House can follow the Senate’s lead and get this legislation passed, it would be because it took a lesson from Germany on how to define and fight anti-Semitism.

It is about time we follow Germany’s lead on this long overdue legislation, before we are forced to learn their lessons of history.

Photo: AFP

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During his recent appearance on Fox News last Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sounded a conciliatory tone towards U.S. President Donald Trump, blaming tensions between the United States and Iran on a so-called “B team.”

Zarif described this group, which is comprised of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, as seeking to “lure President Trump into a confrontation that he doesn’t want.”

While he bashed Trump in other parts of the interview and insisted that Iran would never negotiate with him, Zarif also characterized Trump as being manipulated by others into war—a seemingly transparent effort to portray the U.S. president as a reasonable partner for diplomacy.

There are very good reasons why Zarif would seek to portray negotiations with Trump as palatable for Iran. The maximum economic pressure being applied against Iran by the Trump administration, including the reimposition of nuclear sanctions and the recent designation of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, are hurting Iran’s economy.

Most importantly, Zarif knows that there is no way that Iran can possibly win a war in which the United States will be supporting our national security interests in the region, as well as those of our allies in the region. And he wants to avoid it at all costs.

But Zarif is wrong if he thinks that he is fooling anyone. Trump withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal not just because it failed to dismantle Iran’s nuclear-weapons program, but also because it fueled Iran’s regional aggression. When he announced the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal last year, Trump observed that “since the agreement, Iran’s bloody ambitions have grown only more brazen.”

The conflicts in the Middle East—in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen—have all intensified in the wake of the nuclear deal and been fueled by the money Iran received because of the deal. The “B team,” as Zarif derisively calls them, isn’t pulling the wool over Trump’s eyes and leading him blindly into war. Rather, these nations agree with Trump that Iran’s aggression and destabilization have worsened since the nuclear deal was concluded. Like Trump, Bolton, Netanyahu and the Gulf princes all agree that Iran is the source of the aggression, and that it must be rolled back.

By accusing others of seeking confrontation when it is Iran that has been fueling the violence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, Zarif whitewashed his country’s role in fomenting instability throughout the Middle East.

This wasn’t the foreign minister’s only lie.

Fox News host Chris Wallace challenged Zarif point blank, saying, “The IRGC has killed more than 600 American soldiers in Iraq.” Zarif denied the charge, replying that the “IRGC has never killed Americans. IRGC is there to fight terrorism.”

Of course, it was Iranian-made weapons that have killed at least 600 Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. And, of course, the newly sanctioned IRGC doesn’t fight terrorism; it is a major source of terrorism. Whether it’s Hezbollah threatening Israel from Lebanon and Syria; the Houthi rebels threatening Saudi Arabia, the UAE and international shipping; or Iraqi Shi’ite militias threatening Iraqi Sunnis, the IRGC is arming and otherwise supporting them.

When Wallace pressed Zarif on the IRGC’s role in killing U.S. service personnel, Zarif replied, “I mean, that’s a new charge that the United States—and it’s a very dangerous accusation.” That’s not exactly a denial. In any case, what’s new is the number; a report a few weeks ago put the number of U.S. soldiers killed with the assistance of the IRGC at more than 600.

Throughout the interview, Zarif portrayed Iran as the wounded party. He said that the United States was not trustworthy because it had withdrawn from the deal. What he did not say was that information contained in the nuclear archives that Israel recovered from Tehran last year raised doubts about any semblance of Iranian compliance with the deal.

In addition to his dissembling over Iran’s foreign adventures, the foreign minister pretended to speak for the Iranian people. Sanctions, according to Zarif, are intended to “put as much pressure as it can on the Iranian people.”

But the Iranian people were protesting prior to the reimposition of the nuclear sanctions. They saw that the windfall that the regime reaped from the nuclear deal go towards foreign military adventures rather than to build a crumbling civilian infrastructure.

That’s why last year, instead of chanting “death to America,” protesters against the regime were saying “death to Palestine,” registering their disapproval of the regime’s generosity in destabilizing the Middle East.

Zarif is quite skilled at evading questions and lying. His performance on Fox News Sunday this week will surely reinforce that reputation. However, nothing he presented is likely to convince Trump, who understands the threat that Tehran poses to the Middle East. That is precisely why the United States just deployed the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/mohammad-zarifs-b-team-delusions/

Photo: AP Photo / Petr David Josek

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When my father was a little boy growing up in Poland, there were signs that read, “Jews: Get out of Europe. Go back to Palestine.” On today’s college campuses there are shouts of “Jews: Out of Palestine. Go back to Europe.”

These past two weeks have been difficult ones for American Jewish college students. It  has been Israel Apartheid Week, and across many American college campuses, most of our Jewish students are confronted with “mock die ins”, with student actors dressed as menacing Israel soldiers “brutalizing” other student actors dressed as hapless, “innocent” Palestinian civilians, and  “apartheid walls”.  Jewish students at Emory University have had “mock eviction notices” placed in residence halls, that say “Palestinian homes are destroyed as part of the state’s ongoing attempt to ethnically cleanse the region of its Arab inhabitants”. At Columbia University, Students for Justice in Palestine created a poster of an IDF soldier with horns. At Harvard University, one of the speakers for Israel Apartheid Week, Omar Barghouti, supports the “euthanasia of Zionism.”

Many Jewish students do not have the knowledge to be able to respond to these horrific distortions. The few who have both the knowledge and the backbone to fight back, do. However, most put their heads down in shame. It is no wonder that Natan Sharansky has called American Jewish college students, “The new Jews of silence”.

The problem is that many university professors have used their desks for one-sided political propaganda rather than giving them a solid education about the region. A tenured professor at Columbia, Hamid Dabishi, for example has tweeted that “Every dirty, treacherous, ugly and pernicious act happening in the world just wait a few days and the ugly name Israel will pup.” (sic). Marc Lamont Hill, a tenured professor at Temple University in Philadelphia called for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea.”  Unfortunately, these statements are no longer the outliers, but have become very much the norm in many classrooms that study the Middle East.

I long to equip our students with some basic facts, if I could only teach them for one semester. I would teach them about how the Palestinian Liberation Organization, whose membership is the same as the Palestinian Authority,(PA) was established in 1964, 3 full years before the 1967 War, and before there was any “occupation” to resist. I would teach them about the Oslo Accords, and how Yitzchak Rabin had reluctantly agreed to negotiate with Yassir Arafat on the one condition that he give up terrorism. I would tell them that after the Accords were signed there was a sharp rise in Israeli civilian victims of Palestinian terrorism, which is now over 1,000 fatalities.

I would tell them how Israel withdrew from all the major Palestinian population centers, putting 90% of the Palestinian population under the PA’s control. I would tell them about the enormous offer Prime Minister Ehud Barak had made to Chairman Arafat in July of 2000, which would eventually have given the Palestinians 91% of the West Bank, Gaza and shared sovereignty of Jerusalem, yet Arafat walked away from the offer and launched an intifada. I would tell them that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, an even more generous offer in November 2008, including making all of Jerusalem an internationally controlled city. And yet again, this Palestinian interlocutor walked away from the negotiating table, launching a renewed intifada.

I would tell them about the Gaza withdrawal in 2005, and how the Israelis trained their soldiers not to feel pain as they uprooted Jewish residents from their homes. And about how Israelis had left the greenhouses to give the nascent Palestinian state some sort of economic infrastructure, and the synagogues to be turned into mosques. And how these greenhouses and synagogues, along with every remnant of a Jewish life had been destroyed in a frenzied atmosphere of chaos and hatred. I would tell them how now Gaza has become a simmering sea of hatred which is unleashed every Friday when mobs try to penetrate the fence and kill as many Israeli civilians as possible. 

I would tell them about the innocent looking balloon bouquets and kites, meant to attract young Israeli children, launched with incendiary devices attached to them, that have destroyed thousands of acres of Israeli agricultural land near Gaza and have created an ecological disaster. I would tell them that over 1,000 missiles have been launched from Gaza, giving neighboring Israeli men women and children just 15 seconds to run for shelter.

Before anyone casts blame on the democratically elected government of Israel, I would ask them to walk a mile in their shoes. 

I know they will not, however. Because anti-Zionism is just the 21stcentury form of ant-Semitism. And as Jean Paul Sartre had said, “The anti-Semite has chosen hate because hate is a faith.” Anti-Semitism is hatred, and hatred is an emotion, and one, unfortunately cannot reason with an emotion.

A version of this recently appeared in the Washington Jewish Week.

Photo: Uriel Heilman

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On April 9, Iranian President Rouhani boasted that “today and throughout the past year, we have launched 114 new technologies via the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. This is the message to the world: You have not succeeded, and you will not succeed in preventing the progress and development of the Iranian people and their nuclear program. If yesterday you feared our IR-1 centrifuges, well, here you go!”

He has reason to boast. The 2015 Iranian nuclear deal brokered by former President Barack Obama was extremely weak, but yet, given its weaknesses, the agency that was established to monitor Iran’s compliance has been exceedingly lax.

On April 4, The Wall Street Journal reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspected a warehouse in Tehran that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year said housed nuclear equipment and materials. When negotiating the Iranian nuclear deal, we had been assured constantly by President Obama of “anytime, anywhere inspections.”

Six months elapsed from the speech until the inspection. The question is what took the IAEA so long?

David Albright and Andrea Stricker of the Institute of Science and International Security noted in a paper published earlier this month that the IAEA inspection took place only after the Islamic Republic had the opportunity to empty the site and clean it up. “In short,” they wrote, “the IAEA visits in March 2019 are like looking for a horse when the barn door has been left open for many months.”

But this is far from the only failure of the IAEA to ensure that Iran was complying with the deal.

In his statement announcing the implementation of the nuclear deal in January 2016, President Obama said, “On January 16, 2016, the IAEA verified that Iran has completed the necessary steps under the Iran deal that will ensure Iran’s nuclear program is and remains exclusively peaceful.”

The problem is that we have learned subsequently that the IAEA did not, then, have full knowledge of Iran’s past nuclear-weapons work. In January of 2018, Israeli intelligence recovered a half-ton of material documenting the advances Iran made in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Subsequent examination of the archives by weapons’ experts at the Institute of Science and International Security, and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), found that Iran’s nuclear-weapons program was more advanced than previously thought.

In a paper published in February, Albright, Stricker and Olli Heinonen of FDD, wrote that “this new information in the archive indicates that Iran might still be in breach of its nuclear nonproliferation undertakings.”

Yet the IAEA still has not acted upon the information contained in the nuclear archive that was obtained by Israeli intelligence, even though it would give them greater insight into the full scope of Iran’s nuclear-weapons research.

The IAEA didn’t just fail to pursue the information in the archives. Even before Israel recovered the documents, the nuclear watchdog failed to verify other elements of Iran’s compliance.

An IAEA official told Reuters in August 2017 that the agency saw no need to demand access to Iran’s military sites. Following talks with then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, the IAEA official said, “We’re not going to visit a military site like Parchin just to send a political signal.”

By refusing to inspect military sites like Parchin, the IAEA is sending a much different political signal than what the official thinks. It signals a policy of appeasement.

These failures of the IAEA—the failure to follow up on the nuclear archive, the refusal to demand access to military sites and others—show that the agency that is supposed to verify Iran’s compliance with the deal has given too much leeway to the Islamic Republic.

It would appear that the IAEA’s role in the nuclear deal is to validate it—ensure that nothing, not even Iranian violations, undermines it—not to verify it.

In announcing the implementation of the deal, President Obama guaranteed that Iran would be “subjected to the most comprehensive, intrusive inspection regime.”

The record over the past three years is that the IAEA, the agency charged with the inspections, has been anything but “comprehensive” and “intrusive.” It has refused to investigate certain suspicions and, in the case of the warehouse, taken its time allowing Iran plenty of time to clean up illicit nuclear sites.

With all of these lapses, how can the IAEA be an effective force in preventing Iran’s development of nuclear weapons?

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/the-iaeas-blind-spots-on-irans-nuclear-program/

Photo: Getty Images

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By Sarah N. Stern

“There are 194 nations in the world. Out of those, precisely 193 acquired their territory through the use of military force. That is how borders have traditionally been drawn. Most of these campaigns were offensive. I have asked many military experts, historians and scholars about this, and they have, to a person, told me that there is only one nation in the world who gained territory through the use of force that has been sued, time and time again to relinquish that territory. You guessed it: the state of Israel.”

Read the full post here.

Photo: Jalaa Marey/AFP/Getty Images

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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/

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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/

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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

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