About the author  ⁄ Sarah Stern

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 →

As I write these words, news just broke that ISIS launched its first major attack in Syria, targeting a town occupied by Druze, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, killing 100 innocent civilians. Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet last week that entered Israeli airspace, and two mortar shells launched from the Syrian side of the Golan landed near the Sea of Galilee (miraculously resulting in no injuries).

And this is just within the past 24 hours.

After the seven-year civil war, Syria is failed state. It has been given oxygen to survive from Iran and Russia.

Its inherent instability provides fertile territory for an entire array of terrorist groups from Jabhat al Nussra and ISIS on the Sunni side, to Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the “Al Quds Force” on the Shi’ite side.

Syria depicts the Hobbesian state of war of man against man. The tragic events in Syria have led to at least a half-a-million casualties, approximately 6 million refugees and at least that many internally displaced people.

Iran, with its hegemonic aspirations, has taken advantage of the situation as a pretext for entrenching its military infrastructure into Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad has enabled this by giving the Iranian terrorist proxies Syrian military uniforms.

It is determined to build a land bridge stretching from Tehran to Beirut to Damascus to the Mediterranean Coast.

Earlier this month, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei repeated his ominous exhortation that Israel is “a cancerous tumor that must be removed.”  And Hossein Salami, the deputy Commander of the IRGC in Syria, said he is “awaiting orders to eradicate the evil regime of Israel,” and that Israel has “no strategic depth”; therefore, “this can easily be achieved.”

Contrast this with the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, which provides an island of stability in a sea of chaos.

The Golan Heights—an area that Israel captured during its defensive 1967 Six-Day War and then retained from invading Syrian forces again in its defensive war of 1973—affords Israel a unique topographical and intelligence, affording it the eyes and ears to stare down into Syria and Lebanon.

All of this intelligence is shared readily with the United States.

There is a 1974 agreement mandating the separation of Syrian and Israel forces, which thins out the forces on both sides of the disengagement line.

In 1981, the Israeli government formally annexed the region. The annexation of the Golan Heights is a consensus issue that almost every Israeli, whether politically on the left, right or center agrees with.

As Major Gen. (ret.) Giroa Eiland of the Israel Defense Forces has recently written, “Israel does not possess a plausible solution to its security needs without the Golan Heights.”

The demarcation line of the Golan Heights represents the demarcation of freedom against tyranny—of a failed authoritarian regime against a vibrant, healthy state based on Western democratic values.

That is why tens of thousands of Syrians would love to flee into Israel, if given the opportunity.

That is why 422 Syrians who are part of the White Helmet Groups, a humanitarian volunteer organization, were rescued by the Israelis and given safe passage way into Jordan.

That is why the IDF was able to provide tons of truckloads of supplies to the Syrian refugees, including medicines, baby formula, food, feel and shoes.

And that is what enabled the IDF to clandestinely arrange for approximately 4,000 Syrians wounded in Syria’s protracted civil war to be treated in Israeli hospitals, without asking which side they were fighting for or why.  And then, the healed were clandestinely delivered back to the Syrian side of the border.

It is in America’s best national security interests to recognize the annexation of the Golan Heights as part of Israel’s sovereign territory. Israel provides an island of tranquility in the chaotic world of the Middle East, and the line between chaos and stability cuts right through the demarcation line.

After all, after Friday prayers throughout Tehran, the chant is not only “Death to Israel,” but “Death to America.”

By keeping the Golan Heights as part of the lexicon of “occupied territories,” the international community simply perpetuates the conflict and the Syrian-Iran-Russians axis the pernicious delusion that this area is still in play. It keeps Israel’s northern front as a possible area of conflict that can flare up at any point.

American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights will finally put an end to these dangerous delusions. In an age when Iran constitutes the greatest menace to the region and one of the greatest to the world, it would constitute an effective and potent form of “reality therapy.”

Originally posted at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/time-for-some-reality-therapy-on-the-golan-heights/

Read More →

On June 25, we awoke to the somber news that Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had secured a victory in Turkey’s presidential elections. The reason this news is so grim is because he is a very dangerous man who wants to establish a Turkish Islamist caliphate, as he has simultaneously been eroding human rights inside Turkey and grabbing more power for himself.

On April 17, 2017, Erdoğan held a referendum that greatly expanded and consolidated the powers of the presidency, eliminating the office of prime minister, meaning foreign policy is now part of his portfolio.

In the meantime, he has arbitrarily arrested approximately 50,000 people, including dissidents, intellectuals, professors, journalists and anyone that he might possibly conceive of as being in the opposition. The prisons in Turkey are so full of dissidents that they have released common criminals and convicted felons onto the streets.

A dear friend and colleague, Aykan Erdemir of the Foundations of Defense of Democracies, who had been a member of the opposition in the Turkish Parliament, told me that every Saturday night his friends gets together over Turkish coffee and read the newspaper to see who, among their friends, will be arrested—and whether or not they can make bail.

Among those arrested is Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American who has is in his second year of a seven-year sentence. The Turkish government contends that his evidence is based on the testimony of a “secret witness.” There is absolutely no habious corpus in Turkey, and no attorney working on Brunson’s behalf that can see the “evidence” and defend his client.

Turkey has one of the lowest rankings in the world in terms of freedom of press. The regime continues to trample on the right of its citizens, including freedom of speech, of association, and the rights of ethnic and religious minorities. Turkey is also now the world’s No. 1 jailer of journalists.

In particular, the Christians of Turkey, who are a tiny minority, have been under increasing assault. Anyone who cannot trace his roots back to Sunni Islam is under suspicion, which has resulted in a flurry of violent attacks against Christian churches throughout this newly xenophobic country.

In foreign policy, we have seen Erdoğan’s forces enter into Syria and massacre what had been an autonomous Kurdish canton of Afrin. Throughout Europe, we are seeing the emergence of cash-rich Turkish, Islamist parties. Erdoğan is emerging on the continent as a defender of a sense of victimization of Muslims against Islamophobia.

And in Jerusalem, in an attempt to win influence among the Palestinians, the Turkish autocrat has been showering the natives of eastern Jerusalem with funds. In an article in last week’s Haaretz, officials from Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority expressed concern that Turkey is trying to establish itself as “the guardian of Jerusalem in the eyes of the Muslim world.”

He has also called for an “Islamic army to invade Palestine.”

What emerges is a picture of a totalitarian brute with imperialistic designs. What is equally disturbing is that Turkey under Erdoğan has already purchased the all-powerful S-400 long range, anti-aircraft defense system. He has been cozying up to Russian President Vladimir Putin and has worked to prevent the Russian-Iranian constellation from leaving Southern Syria.

All of this does not fit the usual description of an “ally.”

Yet Lockheed Martin plans to sell Turkey 100 F-35 Lighting II fighter jets—one of the most sophisticated stealth fighter jets yet to be developed.

Congress has weighed in, in both chambers. On the House side, the National Defense Authorization Act specified that before the transfer of F-35s is made to Ankara, both the U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense must write a report that Turkey is behaving as an ally. The Senate side seeks to hold up Turkey’s possession of the F-35s unless it revokes its purchase of the S-400s, so it does not threaten NATOs defense capabilities and put an end to detaining American citizens.

The bill has yet to go to Conference Committee to be law.

Because Turkey is a member of NATO, many people would still like to regard it as an “ally.” Yes, it is formally in NATO. However, NATO (which has no mechanism to expel a member), had originally been established during the Cold War for smaller countries to defend one another against the Soviet threat.

From the way things appear now, Turkey appears to be far closer to Russia than to its other NATO partners. And America certainly does not want our most sophisticated stealth jet fighter ending up in Russian hands.

Yet despite the congressional action, on June 21, Lockheed Martin held a roll-out ceremony presenting the Turks with two F 35s. The jets will be remaining on American soil for at least a year while Turkish pilots are trained to use it.

That gives us a bit of time for folks to wake up to sample Erdoğan’s particular brew of Turkish coffee.

Originally published on: https://www.jns.org/opinion/time-to-wake-up-to-erdogans-turkey/

Photo: Twitter

Read More →

It seems as though Hamas is itching for another war. No less than 45 rockets were fired in recent days from the Gaza Strip into Israel, two of which landed near a community center and one just outside a kindergarten—the second attack on a kindergarten in the last few weeks. Operatives also launched scores of balloons and kites with Molotov cocktails, firebombs, chemicals and other incendiary devices attached to them. So far, these seemingly innocuous instruments have destroyed more than 7,000 acres of agricultural fields, natural growth and habitation, leading to extreme environmental devastation and an estimated $2 million worth of damage.

We have heard a great deal about the suffering of Gazans living under the ironclad rule of Hamas. It is absolutely tragic that the Hamas leadership has denied the population the opportunity to develop themselves and their region, and insists on using their people as nothing more than artillery in their ongoing war to obliterate the Jewish state. It is absolutely tragic that the textbooks used by UNRWA are highly ideological propaganda screeds that serve to perpetuate the 1948 conflict, rather than teaching their children fundamental skills to better themselves and their people. It is absolutely tragic that Hamas has syphoned off the funds and building equipment going into the area, and used concrete to build more underground tunnels to launch surprise attacks within Israel proper.

One never hears of the suffering of the Israelis living near the Gaza border, however. While in Israel, I have spoken to several.

Adele Reimer, a teacher of English who made aliyah from America in 1975, lives in Kibbutz Norim near the Gaza border. She spoke to me about the “relentless, ongoing stress.” Reimer said “it is not fair to call this post-traumatic stress syndrome. It is a daily, ongoing stress. Our children suffer from nightmares, bedwetting, refusal to go to bed at night, crawling into bed with parents. Many children, and even some adults, are immobilized with fear and refuse to leave the house. Every Friday, we brace ourselves. We hear the ‘Tzeva Adom’ [‘Red Alert’] several times a day, and we don’t know if it’s  a missile coming to our house, to our school or signaling the beginning of yet another war.”

She adds: “I have tremendous sympathy for the people of Gaza. Nobody elected Hamas as their leaders. It came about because of a hostile takeover in 2007, when they threw their opposition off from rooftops. I consider myself left-wing and am still in touch with many Gazans. They are miserable under Hamas and would like it to change, but it is dangerous for them to open their mouths. I have one friend who has spoken out occasionally, but I and he are both afraid he is about to be arrested, tortured and shot.”

“But, she says, it is Hamas who is calling the shots—not only for the people of Gaza, but for the State of Israel. They have manipulated international community to such an extent, so we are perplexed as to how to respond. We care too much about international public opinion.”

Susie Shaul was evacuated from Gush Katif in Gaza in 2005. Her husband worked for 27 years, the bulk of his working life in agriculture helping to develop crops in greenhouses. After the evacuation, they lived with two of the four children in caravans (two of the children were married). She and her husband now live in the Ashkelon region.

She feels that the situation is beyond tragic. She recalls that before the evacuation, when she used to pass the roads that bordered the kibbutzim on the way to her home in Gush Katif, there were signs posted that said: “Jews, out of Gaza. Go home to Israel.”

But today, because of the untold devastation, she only feels tremendous sympathy for those who live on the kibbutzim near Gaza. “They don’t deserve this. Nobody deserves this.”

Shaul recalls that before the Hitnakut (the evacuation from Gaza), former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said, “Now if they attack, we can go in there and devastate them. We can use our rockets and our missiles. But do you think we can today? Nobody remembers. Nobody cares.”

Originally published at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/voices-from-the-border-with-gaza/

Photo Credit: Jack Guez/AFP

Read More →

For the sixth Friday in a row, protestors from Gaza came to Israel’s border with intentions to penetrate it. They come with scissors to cut through the fence, with burning tires, Molotov cocktails, slingshots with rocks, and kites with firebombs attached to them to destroy Israeli farmlands and villages.

This is not some peaceful demonstration akin to Selma in the 1960s, when blacks were simply trying to sit together with whites at a lunch counter. The usage of the word “demonstrators” is a misnomer; these are “rioters.”

The unfortunate Palestinian people have been cynically manipulated by their Hamas leaders and their hate-infested educational curriculum—brought to them by UNRWA—to despise Israel and the Jews, and to replace all of Israel, including Haifa and Tel Aviv, with Palestine.

Last Sunday, the lead story in The Washington Post displayed a photo of a 17-year-old Palestinian with one leg amputated and ran a compelling personal interest story of the boy with the headline “Shooting to Maim,” referring to Israel’s policies at the border with Gaza.

It’s time to ask what any other country would do when confronted with a similar situation? The Israeli government has three choices: 1.) Let them overrun the border in a massive terrorist killing spree; 2.) shoot to kill them; or 3.) shoot to maim them.

It is deeply tragic that this young man is the product of a cynical manipulation by his Iranian-backed Hamas leaders to be so imbued with such immense hatred against Israel that he was driven to put himself into this situation.

Hamas, which callously exploits its own children, is in a win-win situation. Hamas wins if they penetrate through the fence and go on a terrorism spree throughout Israel, and they win the public-relations battle if they cannot penetrate through the fence and are maimed.

By the way, why is it that we never see their leaders in the front lines?

It is a crime under international law to use child combatants in warfare, according to the Geneva Conventions, the Rome Statute and the Conventions of the Rights of a Child, which defines a child as being anyone under the age of 18.

Imagine, if you would, thousands of potential immigrants amassed onto the border with America from Central America or Canada. Right now, the U.S. government is being asked to take in a caravan of refugees from Central America, and we are divided on how to respond. Of course, these are peaceful people, not rioters.

However, in this case, instead of just wanting to find a better way of life for themselves and their families by entering Israel, these people come armed to destroy Israel.

Each Friday en masse, they are moving closer and closer to the border with Israel, and each week they are becoming increasingly more violent. And the ultimate objective is to storm Israel and go on a killing spree, which is due to take place on May 15: “Nakba” Day, the day of the “Catastrophe,” which intentionally follows Israeli Independence Day on May 14.

The Palestinians and their ever-growing body of international sympathizers have gone out of their way to white-wash their intentions. It is patently obvious—if any journalist or academician would just listen to what they are saying in Arabic—that the aim of these rioters is not two states living side by side in peace and democracy, but the destruction of the State of Israel and the replacement of that state with “Palestine.”

The chattering classes seem to willfully blind themselves to the memory of the Gaza withdrawal. This was the internally divisive and gut-wrenching decision by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to uproot any remnant of a Jewish presence there in 2005. Wealthy Jewish philanthropists bought the greenhouses in order to give this nascent Palestinian state some sort of economic infrastructure, but as soon as the Israeli flag was lowered and the last Israeli military officer closed the gate, those greenhouses, along with any remnant of a Jewish presence, were destroyed in a hate-infested atmosphere of chaos and anarchy.

And when it comes to the West Bank (or Judea and Samaria), many generous offers have been made over and over again going back to the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947, the Clinton plan offered at Camp David in the summer of 2000 and the offer made by Ehud Olmert at Taba in 2009.

Each of these proposals was progressively more generous. As Jackson Diel wrote in The Washington Post on May 29, 2009:“Abbas acknowledged that Olmert had shown him a map proposing a Palestinian state on 97 percent of the West Bank. … He confirmed that Olmert “accepted the principle” of the “right of return” of Palestinian refugees—something no previous Israeli prime minister had done—and offered to resettle thousands in Israel.”

And President Barack Obama went further still when he pushed forward a plan that would have divided Jerusalem and given Israel borders that would be impossible to defend.

Yet the Western world insists on attributing these riots to the “occupation.”

This week, we heard the “moderate” leader of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas go on a rant, using classic anti-Semitic tropes against Israel and the Jewish people, saying that we Jews brought the Holocaust upon ourselves because of our “usury and unethical practices.”

Which brings me to the core of the problem: The failure of any Palestinian leader to accept any number of generous offers made to them by their Israeli interlocutors is not because the offers have not been generous enough.

It is not a rational thing. It is based on an emotion—raw Jew-hatred in the form of classic anti-Semitism.

And those journalists and academics in the West who refuse to acknowledge any of these salient facts are guilty of the very same ancient hatred.

Originally published at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/the-blood-libel-of-the-21st-century/

Photo: AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed

Read More →

The government of Syrian President Bashir Assad launched a chemical attack on Saturday on the rebel-held town of Douma, Syria, killing at least 42 people and injuring some 500 more. Once again, our computer screens were replete with helpless children, some lifeless and limp, some foaming at the mouth and flinching, some with oxygen masks strapped across their tiny faces.

This attack was the final blow for the last remaining rebels in this Damascus suburb.

This came within a week of President Trump’s pronouncement that “we’re knocking the hell out of ISIS. We’ll be coming out of Syria, like very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.”

This brings us to the first lesson: Whether or not America wants to enter into a period of isolationism, when we withdraw from the picture the world becomes an infinitely more dangerous place. Nature abhors a vacuum, and when America retreats, all of the moral cockroaches—like Tehran’s mullahs, Syria’s Assad, Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Erdoğan—immediately swoop in to fill the void.

Akin to the period between the two world wars, the American people might say they have no appetite for further military engagement, yet there is something in America’s moral fabric that simply cannot allow atrocities like these to go unanswered. As Winston Churchill once said: “America always does the right thing. After it has exhausted all other possibilities.”

Over the last seven years of the protracted Syrian civil war, the country has been on a slow and steady path towards total implosion. Initially, an alphabet soup of terrorist groups have used this empty playing field, including, but not limited to, Jabat Al Nusra, ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Ahrar al Sham, the IRGC, the Al Quds Force and Hezbollah—many of them proxies for bigger regional players.

Now the big boys are entering the scene, and Syria promises to be the theater in which America and the West might quite soon form a coalition against the regional forces of oppression and their Russian enablers.

The next lesson, therefore, is: If we do not engage ourselves in smaller wars, America might well find itself dragged into a much larger war.

The second major event was the attack on the T-4 air base early Monday morning. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied their involvement, as is characteristic, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made his red lines very clear.

On Feb. 10, when Israel shot down an Iranian drone launched from the identical Syrian air base and flown over Israeli territory, he said: “Our policy is very clear. Israel will defend itself against any attack and any attempt to harm our sovereignty.” He then added that “Iran seeks to use Syrian territory with the expressed goal of destroying Israel.”

Since the singing of the nuclear-trade deal, Iran has used its vastly enriched coffers to empower, embolden and enable its terrorist proxies within the widening Shiite crescent, and has used Syria as part of its ever-widening land bridge stretching from Tehran to Beirut.

This has been enabled by Russia military support. Russia under Putin wants to re-emerge as a world power and has just asked Iran permission to use its air bases in Iran as refueling stations. They have also just vetoed the U.N. Security Council resolution to investigate the Syrian chemical attack in Douma.

Which brings us to the final lesson of these recent Syrian events: In 1992, Francis Fukuyama, famously wrote a book titled, The End of History and the Last Man. In it, he argues that with the end of the Cold War, we are passing through a period of post-war history, and that we have reached the height of the ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the apex and final form of government.

Democracy might be the best form of government devised, but Russia, though the use of its proxies, has shown that it might want to regress to a period of Cold War alliances. And unfortunately, because sometimes the only way to eradicate pure evil—such as was on display this weekend in Douma—is through the use of military force, we are quite far from a post-war epoch.

Photo: SANA/Handout via Reuters

Originally Published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/syria-gets-us-farther-from-a-post-war-epoch/

Read More →

A version is this was first published in the Washington Jewish Week on April 11, 2018, but it has been updated to reflect more current realities on the ground.

On March 30th, coinciding with the start of Passover, the former and current Hamas Prime Ministers, Ismael Haniya, Yahya Sinwar organized what they called “The March of Return”. Since then, every Friday, there has been a demonstration at the Gaza border. Each week, the demonstrators are getting closer and closer to the actual border with Israel, and each week there are few and fewer demonstrators —the first week they had approximately 30,000 and this week, approximately 3, 000–but they are growing increasingly more violent.

As Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman put it, “We are fighting an uncompromising battle here, and the other side must understand there is a determined army here”, adding, “Every week there are fewer people, but much more terror activity.”

Although this had been dubbed  by many news outlets throughout the world as a peaceful demonstration,  these two Hamas leaders told their followers to  quote “infiltrate the border”,  and that this will “ mark  the beginning of the liberation of all of Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.” –which encompasses all of Israel

This was not intended therefore, as many media outlets had described it, “ to eliminate the economic suffering in the Gaza Strip”,  but rather,  to eliminate the sheer existence of the Jewish state.

These protestors, many known terrorists of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Qassam Brigades, among others came to Israel’s  with the explicit instructions to penetrate through that border into Israel, which would create a security and demographic nightmare for the Jewish state.

Most significantly: They brought wire cutters with them.

The objective was also stated that they would remain there until May 15th, Israeli Independence Day, which the Palestinians and many in the Arab World dub “Nakba Day”, “the Day of the Catastrophe”. May 15this also, (not coincidentally), the day that President Trump and his team have designated for the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem. They came with tents, erected to remain there until the 15th.

This “march” was not a peaceful demonstration reminiscent of  the sit ins of Selma Alabama. The protestors sought to storm the border with lethal intent, hurling firebombs, rocks and burning tires at Israeli soldiers. In at least two cases, they fired bullets directly at  Israeli soldiers.

And unfortunately, it has resulted in a number of Palestinian fatalities, who have constantly  been manipulated by  their leaders to despise the state of Israel.

However, considering the inflammatory potential of the situation, the IDF has got to be commended for training their young men and women to act with such amazing discipline and restraint.

It is also important to remember that Gaza is not under Israeli occupation.

In 2005, in a heart-wrenching, politically divisive move, the Israeli government decided to uproot any remnant of a Jewish presence in Gaza and withdrew to the pre-1967 lines, giving the Palestinian people there total independence. Jewish philanthropists actually bought the greenhouses to give to this “nascent Palestinian state.” Some rabbis wanted to leave the synagogues in Gaza, arguing “After all, we all pray to the same God.”

Many of my friends who were for the Gaza withdrawal explained to me, “This will finally prove to the world just how far Israel is willing to go for peace.”

Do you think the world remembers any of this today?

As soon as the blue and white flag was lowered, and the IDF closed the gate, those greenhouses and synagogues, and any other vestige of Jewish life, were all destroyed in a heightened display of hate-infested anarchy and mayhem.

And then in 2007, after a bitter internecine war between Fatah and Hamas, Hamas, an organization that is totally created for the imminent destruction of the state of Israel, took over the Gaza strip.

The result of this magnanimous gesture of the Gaza withdrawal was that over 10,000 missiles have rained down on Israel, provoking Israel to have to fight three wars: Cast Lead in 2008, Pillar of Defense in 2012, and Operation Protective Edge in 2014, with each successive war the range of the rockets was extended.

By now, the Palestinians in Gaza have missiles that can reach all of Israel’s main population centers. And just in case the missiles do not do the trick, the Gazans have been assiduously digging underground tunnels.

Yet there are many powerful voices in Washington, DC, that have not learned the lessons of the Gaza withdrawal. They want a precipitance withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, or the West bank, and try to delude themselves into thinking that that will solve the problem. They are looking at today’s difficulties with the impasse with the Palestinians, and as difficult as this situation is, many want to seize upon a solution, any solution, not realizing the lessons of the Gaza withdrawal.  These people chose to willfully blind themselves to what their leaders say to their own people in Arabic, and prefer not to entertain the notion that in today’s volatile Middle East, power changes hands very quickly. And assuming that the PA was a peaceful entity, which it most definitely is not-that does not mean that tomorrow Hamas will not be at the helm.

 

 

Photo: Amir Cohen/Reuters

Originally Published: http://washingtonjewishweek.com/45435/march-of-return-nothing-more-than-terrorists-plaything/editorial-opinion/voices/

Read More →