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U.S. Foreign Aid to Promote Peach & Stability, Not Terrorism: Support the Taylor Force Act

On March 8, 2016, Taylor Force, a 28-year-old West Point graduate and U.S. Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, was on a school sponsored trip to Israel studying global entrepreneurship when he was brutally stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist. Force joined a long list of Americans (about 70) murdered by Palestinian terrorism since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.

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A “Core” Problem

In my first week of classes during the fall semester of my junior year of college, I was told by two separate instructors within the School of Education that teaching is a form of brainwashing, and I should be careful with how I use this power.

There are teachers in the world who hope to do good, to mold young minds, and to impart positive values to the next generation. There are teachers in the world taking a viscerally practical approach: teaching students conflict-resolution skills, keeping up to date with the latest greatest technology, and calling on students to use logic when they write, solve problems, and go about daily life.

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Turkish President Erdogan’s Dangerous Autocratic Tactics

In 2016, Rifat Cetin, a Turkish doctor, received a suspended one-year jail sentence — he could have been imprisoned for up to five years — for violating Article 299 of Turkish law code, which bars insults to the Turkish President. The criminally insulting tweet in question compares President Erdogan to the villainous character of “Gollum” from the popular fantasy movie series, “Lord of the Rings.” During the trial, Peter Jackson, the director of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, intervened to testify that the images were no insult, as they actually depicted Smeagol, Gollum’s good alter-ego. The famous director’s statement may have been enough to get the doctor off, legally speaking, but in the end Mr. Cetin was still stripped of his parental custody rights, and was fired from his job.

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The Israel Victory Caucus: Some Sorely Needed Reality Therapy

Last Monday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a scathing statement regarding the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, ignoring all of the historical context of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Said Mr. Guterres, “This occupation has imposed a heavy humanitarian and development burden on the Palestinian people. Among them are generation after generation of Palestinians who have been compelled to grow up and live in ever more crowded refugee camps, many in abject poverty, and with little or no prospect of a better life for their children.”

This is as wrongheaded as it is one-sided, and Secretary General Guterres should know better. This is because prior to being elected Secretary General he served as the UN High Commissioner of Refugees.

In 1950, when the world was dealing with massive amounts of refugees displaced by World War II, the UN High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) was born. At that time, the UNHCR had offered to deal with the Palestinian refugee issue. However, the Arab League rejected this offer because the mandate of UNHCR is to ensure that all refugees be assimilated into their host countries as quickly as possible, and offered a pathway towards jobs and citizenship.

The Arab League lacked the compassion to help their Palestinian brethren, and instead wanted to use the Palestinian refugee crisis as a thorn in the side of the Israelis.

This resulted in the formation of the only refugee organization devoted exclusively towards one group:  The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).  Throughout the decades, UNRWA has morphed away from its original humanitarian mission, and has taken on a decidedly political agenda.

The agenda is “the right of return” of Palestinians to their great-grandparents orchards and vineyards in Jaffa and Haifa, and it has as its foundation an implacable hatred of the Israeli and the Jew.

This mythology of “the right of return” is at the core of the resentment and frustration felt by young Palestinians.

What is actually needed is some reality therapy that Israel is here to stay.

This mythology has been perpetuated in UNRWA led schools, many of whose teachers are also on the payroll of Hamas, which only feeds upon the resentment and frustration of the Palestinian youth.  If you take even a cursory look at the UNRWA textbooks, you will immediately notice that absent from them is any talk of a “two state solution.”  The textbooks, murals on the school buildings, and lessons only talk about one state: “Palestine,” replacing all of Israel, as well as the glory and honor of “martyrdom.”

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, “You’re entitled to your own opinion.  But you’re not entitled to your own facts.”

The stubborn, inconvenient facts are that in 1937, the Arabs refused to accept the Peel Commission Plan, and in 1947, they refused to accept the UN Partition Plan, simply because these Plans meant that the Arabs would have to share the land with the Jews.

Another stubborn fact is that the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded in 1964, three years before the 1967 war.  If the Israeli-Palestinian dispute resulted from territories gained in 1967, precisely what land was it that the PLO was trying to liberate?

Shortly after its defensive war of 1967, when Israel was attacked on all fronts, and conquered East Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the Sinai and the Golan Heights, the Israelis initially tried the “land for peace” formula.

In August of 1967, the Arab League met at Khartoum in the Sudan, and their offer was rebuffed with the famous 3 no’s: no end of conflict, no negotiation and no recognition of the State of Israel.

Again in 2000, at Camp David, Ehud Bark of Israel offered Yassir Arafat 94% to 96% of Judea and Samaria, shared sovereignty of the Temple Mount, or Harim al Sharrif, and a right of return for thousands of Palestinian refugees.

Arafat did not say “yes” and he did not say “no.”  He simply walked away from the negotiating table. And his answer came in the form of a renewed intifada, where thousands of Israelis and Palestinians lost their lives.

Ehud Barak was only to be outdone by Ehud Olmert who, in 2008, offered Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas total control of the Temple Mount.

Again, the Palestinian leader walked away from the negotiating table without a response, and again the response came in a renewed intifada.

One must ask: How is one supposed to reach an agreement and rid oneself of “the Occupation,” even if one wanted to, if the other side will not deign to meet with you, let alone respond to your offers?

When Mr. Guterres assigns complete responsibility only to the Israelis for the loggerhead that the Palestinians and Israelis have reached, he is actually undermining the possibility of a true and genuine peace agreement.

And he is signaling to people all around the world that a way to obtain one’s ultimate objective is to use terrorism as a legitimate method of negotiation.  And rather than meet face-to-face with the parties themselves and handle the dispute in a civilized demeanor, one can go to forums of international jurisdiction and demonize the other party.

However, something refreshing is underfoot in the US Congress.  Under the auspices of Daniel Pipes and Gregg Roman of the Middle East Forum, there is a new initiative entitled the “Israel Victory Caucus.”

Chaired by Congressmen Ron DeSantis of Florida and Bill Johnson of Ohio, the caucus was “founded,” in Rep. Johnson’s words, “on one single, irrefutable principle.  And that is first and foremost Israel has a fundamental right to exist and to defend herself. And that is not negotiable.”

What the caucus members believe is that these 24 years since the Oslo Accords were signed has been tragic for the Palestinians.

Tragic because Oslo encourages unrealistic fantasies and exploits the frustration of Palestinian youth, encouraging them to martyr themselves over a war that their great grandparents lost in 1948, 1967, and 1973.

This fascination with and encouragement of martyrdom is the worst sort of child abuse imaginable.

Oslo has been tragic for the Israelis because it makes them appear weak in the eyes of their enemies, and therefore makes them more vulnerable to attack, both during physical wars and in international forums.

Aside from that, too many people employ the language of “giving back land.”  Who gives back something? Only a thief.  This use of language therefore suggests that Israel does not have the moral high ground.

Oslo also been corrosive to the Israeli psyche because it imbues them with a sense of moral ambiguity, which impacts their commitment to the rightfulness of their cause.  This self-doubt is detrimental in a region of the world where many people are hell-bent on the destruction of the Jewish State.

Oslo has been tragic for the United States, because in the eyes of the radical Islamist, America and Israel are inextricably linked, and a weakened Israel becomes a weakened America.  Beyond that, it has sent the dangerous signal that certain terrorism to a certain people, (i.e. the Jews), is acceptable.

This weakens the moral clarity of our war against Islamist terrorism.

If the United States and the allies would have executed World War II with one hand tied behind their backs, many of us would not be around, and those who would be, would all be speaking German.

Only a clear Israeli victory would ever deter the threat of war recurring every few years.

Thanks to Obama and the nuclear deal, which has bequeathed Iran with hundreds of millions of dollars in unfrozen assets, plus over one billion dollars in a hostage swap, there are well 100,000 missiles staring down at Israel from Syria and Lebanon, as well as bases of Hezbollah, the IRGC, Hamas and ISIS.

This makes it all the more necessary to sow the intellectual groundwork for the next war, when Israel will be forced to take off its gloves, and do what it takes for it to survive.

It is about time that the Palestinians and the leftists in the intellectual community had some sorely needed reality therapy.  And the Israel Victory Caucus is a welcome step in the right direction.

Originally published at the Times of Israel: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-israel-victory-caucus-some-sorely-needed-reality-therapy/

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Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Six Day War

Exactly 50 years ago today, in an attempt to annihilate Israel and to create a “pan-Arabist movement,” Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser closed the Gulf of Aqaba and began amassing thousands of troops into the Sinai Peninsula.  The United Nations had withdrawn its emergency forces from Gaza and the Sinai leaving Israel exposed. On May 30th, Nasser signed a mutual defense agreement with King Hussein of Jordan, bringing in an eastern front to attack Jerusalem. President Lyndon Johnson had promised a “Red Sea Regatta,” a flotilla to break the siege on the Straits of Tiran, but ultimately, those words had proven to be hollow.

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Trump, Abbas and the Repeating Themes of the Middle East Peace Process

Recently, the current Palestinian Authority (PA) President-for-Life, crooked politician, and reigning Holocaust denier, Mahmood Abbas, met with President Trump in Washington D.C. The two discussed the prospects for “peace negotiations” between the PA and Israel. Trump seemed optimistic about these prospects; apparently, the PA’s recent decision to boost the financial rewards they give to the Palestinian terrorists and the families of these terrorists, has, in no way, chilled his enthusiasm.

The fact that Abbas flagrantly lied at the podium about his regime’s continued incitement of the Palestinians and the unique “occupation” of Palestinian land by the Israelis also is unlikely to slow the Trump administration’s peacemaking fervor.

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Trump Administration Seeks to Bring Terrorist Ahlam Tamimi to Justice

The Trump administration has taken a huge step in getting back U.S. power prestige in the Middle East.

On March 14, 2017, a criminal complaint was unsealed charging Palestinian terrorist Ahlam Tamimi with conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. nationals outside the U.S., resulting in death. Also unsealed was a warrant for Tamimi’s arrest and an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint and arrest warrant. There was also an extradition request to Jordan.

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A Modern Day Hero of the Exodus Story: Rabbi Amnon Haramati

In these weeks, when we are transitioning from Purim to Passover, we transition from a narrative that takes place during the time when we were a people which had been cast out of our homeland, to that of our own national liberation movement. The story of Purim takes place in ancient Persia, where we lived at a time when we are devoid of direct prophecy from G-d. Part of the megillah is read in a mournful voice when we are reminded of having been kicked out of Israel and having had left behind our national sovereignty. In the Talmud, it is written that the rabbis had once said, “ of all the religious texts, the ones of greatest importance are the five books of Moses and the Book of Esther.”

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What made David Friedman’s confirmation so contentious?

David Friedman was confirmed Thursday by the U.S. Senate as America’s ambassador to Israel. But that was only after a highly contentious debate, and unfortunately, only because there is a Republican majority in the Senate.

The same was true of Friedman’s prior approval by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The committee’s minority leader, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), voted against him, as did every single Democrat on the committee. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), wrote March 6 that Friedman “lacks the necessary temperament to serve in such a crucial position,” and that his “divisive rhetoric and dangerous positions are contrary to long-held policy and wouldundermine our national security by inflaming tensions in the region.”

In mid-February, five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel—Thomas Pickering, Edward Walker, James Cunningham, William Harrop and Daniel Kurtzer—wrote a letter to the Foreign Relations Committee casting doubts upon President Donald Trump’s nominee for those exact same reasons.

What made Friedman’s nomination so contentious? Among the reasons outlined by Sen. Feinstein is that he has supported recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He has directly supported settlement activity, because he was president of the American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva, and he has questioned the wisdom of the Oslo Accords.

In the summer of 2005, I was in Israel, in the days of the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. I watched and listened as the nation was engaged in a gut-wrenching and internally divisive debate. I saw how Israeli soldiers had been trained not to feel, as they forcibly removed Israeli settlers from their homes. One of those soldiers confided in me, “This is not what I signed up for.”

I listened to the radio when one mother said, “Mr. Prime Minister, will you pack up my son’s room? I have not been able to go into it since he was killed in Lebanon. Will you uproot the tree in my yard that was planted in my sons’ memory?”

Jewish philanthropists funded the greenhouses so that there would be a economic infrastructure for the young, nascent Palestinian enterprise, and many rabbis argued that we should keep the synagogues, to turn them into mosques, because,“After all, we all pray to the same God.”

As soon as the last vestige of a Jewish presence was removed from Gaza, and the blue-and-white Israeli flag was lowered, the greenhouses and synagogues were all destroyed in a frenzied atmosphere of hate-infested anarchy.

Yet the government of Israel and most of the Western policy world were convinced at the time that “this will finally prove to the world how far Israel is willing to go for peace, even in the absence of a negotiating partner.”

Since then, Gaza has been used as a launching pad for thousands of Hamas rockets into Israel, necessitating several wars and much loss of life on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides. In southern Israel, when an alarm siren is sounded, Israelis have 15 seconds to find shelter. By now, the rockets have a trajectory that can reach anywhere in the state of Israel.

Israel’s morality during the two Gaza wars has been questioned in the court of international public opinion, largely because of Hamas’s sinister use of children and women as human shields, which inflates their civilian death count.

In shaping America foreign policy, most Americans would like to believe that certain ethical qualities are in the mix, such as intellectual honesty and moral integrity. These qualities, whether part of an individual’s nature or those of national policy, often necessitate some difficult introspection.

Sometimes it even involves the painful admission that one has been wrong—even if one has been wrong for an extremely long time. It is human nature that the longer the time, the deeper the resistance to change.

Our foreign policy “experts” have clung to certain misguided theories for generations now, such as “land for peace.” What we have seen through decades of empirical, and often heartbreaking experience is that this formula simply hasn’t worked. If the objective is “peace,” one must honestly ask oneself if any of the politically gut-wrenching and internally divisive land withdrawals from the Sinai, Gaza, southern Lebanon and parts of Judea and Samaria have actually brought us any closer to that objective of peace.

Rather than challenge the premises of this formulation, those in the State Department’s echo chamber simply dug their feet in further and rationalize its failure. Each time, there is another excuse. “Israel hasn’t given enough land,” or “Gaza was without a negotiating partner.”

All of the State Department apparatchiks who stubbornly clung to this mantra were completely in favor of each of these withdrawals. Then, when those land withdrawals did not bring us closer to the designated objective, the diplomats came up with convenient, after-the-fact rationalizations.

Any scientist with an ounce of intellectual integrity would say we have reached the null hypothesis, and that it is time to re-examine the premises of the equation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. David Friedman, a fresh voice, is a step in the right direction.

Originally published at JNS.org: http://www.jns.org/latest-articles/2017/3/24/what-made-david-friedmans-confirmation-so-contentious-#.WNqDmRIrLBI=

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