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Five Options Trump Should Consider to Counter Iran

Iranian President Rouhani has invited countries in the Middle East to join what he called the security coalition of HOPE — a rough acronym for the Hormuz Peace Endeavor.  Rouhani has described this as a coalition that “will secure freedom of navigation, flow of energy and the regional stability in the Persian Gulf.”  He has also suggested that Iran should serve as one of the leaders of this coalition because “Iran during the last four decades fought against terrorism unequivocally…Iran is a country that has brought peace in the region.”

Coming from Iran, this proposal is rich in irony. 

(October 10, 2019 / Newsmax)

Iran, of course, is the main terror sponsoring nation that is interrupting the freedom of navigation, the flow of energy and regional stability, in the Persian Gulf and in the Bab el Mandab.  In the latest attack, the Iranians used drones and missiles to knock out about half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.  Iran’s attack on Saudi oil facilities took 5.7 million barrels per day of production offline and pushed oil prices (briefly) 18% higher.  Although Iran’s Yemeni proxy, the Houthis, claimed credit for the attack on Saudi Arabia, the evidence was so strong that Iran was behind it that even the Western European leaders of France, Germany, and the UK, all of whom who continue to be part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action, were forced to acknowledge Iran’s complicity.

What this means is that if Iran seriously wanted to promote freedom of navigation, the flow of energy and regional stability, it doesn’t need to form a coalition.  It just needs to stop its aggression and promotion of terrorism through the Middle East (and worldwide). 

Unfortunately, we know the Iranian regime is never going to do that.  But, recognizing that the U.S. does have a national interest in keeping the oil and natural gas lanes in the Middle East flowing to the U.S. and the rest of the world – to prevent a major economic downturn – the question then becomes, what should the U.S. do to disincentivize future Iranian aggression, which may be imminent?

So far, President Trump has responded by expanding the list of sanctions the U.S. has put on Iran, all part of the “maximum pressure” campaign, which has pushed the Iranian economy into a recession.  Further, the U.S. plans to bar senior Iranian officials and their immediate family from entering the United States as immigrants or non-immigrants.  The President has also sent U.S. troops to protect Saudi Arabia, and has been promoting the idea of an Arab NATO, or a U.S. led multinational maritime effort, originally called Operation Sentinel, to ensure freedom of navigation in the Persian Gulf region, the Strait of Hormuz, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Oman.  

All of these are good ideas.  But more actions may be necessary.  Here are five other options for the U.S.

First, the U.S. could diplomatically engage the Iranian regime. 

Second, the U.S. could act to sabotage the Iranian regime.  For example, it could unleash another cyberattack, along the lines of Stuxnet, or, more recently, its’ alleged cyberattack against a spy group tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.  Or, the CIA, or other U.S. forces, might support and/or train Iranian dissident groups.

Third, the U.S. could invade Iran and oust the Iranian regime, a la the 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, or Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Fourth, the U.S. could conduct some sort of lesser military action against the Iranian regime.  A good example of this was Operation Praying Mantis in 1988, which dissuaded Iran from challenging the U.S. Navy or from targeting oil shipping for many years.  In retaliation for Iran’s earlier mining of the Persian Gulf, which resulted in a U.S. ship being damaged and many of its crew being injured, the U.S. Navy destroyed two Iranian surveillance platforms, sank two of their ships, and severely damaged another.  In addition to going after the Iranian navy, other possibilities suggested include the U.S. specifically targeting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or the Kharg Island terminal, through which more than 90% of Iranian oil exports go.  The U.S. could conduct these attacks in the open, or with official deniability, i.e., in the “gray zone”, as does Iran.

Fifth, the U.S. could attack some of the Iranian proxies throughout the Middle East.  For example, Lebanese Hezbollah, Iranian backed forces in Syria, or Iranian backed forces in Iraq.  Israel frequently conducts these kinds of attacks as well.  In each case, Israel does so to enforce its red lines.  For example, in Syria, the Israeli red line is that Assad and his Iranian-backed allies must honor a decades-old agreement that sets out a demilitarized zone along the frontier and limits the number of forces each side can deploy within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of the zone.  Once again, the U.S. could do this openly or in the gray zone.

In my view, several of these actions may already be eliminated.  Diplomacy seems counterproductive at this juncture, as “Iranians negotiate only after defeating their enemies… Signaling a desire to talk before being victorious is, in Iranian eyes, a sign of weakness or lack of will to win.”  Also, a full scale invasion of Iran makes little sense, as we have seen in Iraq how expensive, in both blood and treasure, it can be.  And a more limited U.S. attack against Iranian proxies also seems pointless, as it is well known that “Iran is willing to sacrifice Arab Shiites but not Persian Shiites.” 

This leaves just two viable options.  The U.S. could sabotage the Iranian regime, and/or the U.S. could conduct a limited strike against the Iranian regime.  In that order, I would recommend them to President Trump.

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In Regard to Iran, the West Hasn’t Learned the Lesson of the Dane-Geld

During the post-U.S. removal from the Iran deal, the Iranian regime has behaved abysmally, even by its already low standards.

(September 18, 2019 / Newsmax)

While Iranian President Rouhani was touring Europe, demanding that the Europeans provide funding to Iran, his regime was planning a terror attack in Europe, which might have led to hundreds of European and American casualties.

The Iranian Islamic Republican Guard Corps and their allies have grabbed, harassed, or bombed international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz or in the Bab al Mandab. They have also shot down a U.S. drone, and even grabbed hostages.

The Iranian leadership has continued its ballistic missile testing, which goes hand and hand with nuclear weapons development. The Iranian leadership has refused to cooperate with the IAEA, barring them from inspecting some nuclear weapons development sites that were recently exposed by Israel. The Iranian regime, which is the leading state sponsor of terrorism, has been expanding its support to militia/terror groups in GazaSyriaLebanon, and Yemen to menace Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and other U.S. allies. And the Iranian regime has been smuggling oil through the U.S. or European sanctions (on Syria).

The Iranian leadership has “partially withdrawn” from the Iran deal, by violating key parts of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), most recently by using advanced centrifuges in uranium enrichment. Not that this makes any sense — there is no such thing as a partial withdrawal. A nation may only withdraw, or not withdraw, from a deal. Nevertheless, to cease its partial withdrawal, Tehran has demanded that the U.S. lift the sanctions and return to a 5+1 format involving the nuclear deal parties, and that the Europeans must “either buy oil or give us credit,” within a certain time.

And most recently, Iran was behind the attacks on major Saudi oil facilities that cut global oil supplies by 5%.

So, what is Europe’s response to all this bad behavior? Nothing but more appeasement.

The European Union has promoted the idea of an Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) whose purpose is to facilitate “legitimate trade” with Iran for any EU member and non-EU members as well. INSTEX is a barter system created by the Western Europeans, where, in any trade, money gets paid into the home country’s account, and it doesn’t cross the border in or out of Iran.

Britain has caved on enforcing EU sanctions that barred any oil sales to Syria. Originally, the British seized an Iranian ship that was illegally transporting oil to Syria. The Iranians then grabbed a British ship in retaliation. The British released the Iranian ship, after Iran gave a written promise that the ship would not deliver the oil to Syria. But the promise was insincere, as the Iranian ship eventually dropped off its oil in Syria, thereby breaking the sanctions, and earning themselves $130 million (or giving their puppet Assad a huge gift of oil). Meanwhile, Iran has only released some of the crew from the British ship.

France has offered $15 billion in credit to Tehran for it to end its partial withdrawal and to return to the JCPOA. The entire official budget of Iran is roughly $45 billion, so that would be a huge lifeline for the Iranian regime.

Unfortunately, this European financial appeasement of rogue and dangerous actors is not unique. It is actually steeped in ancient European history. As I once wrote, “(o)ver a thousand years ago, the (then) violent Danes would promise to stop their pillaging and plundering, supposedly permanently, but in practice temporarily, if their prey paid them off… (but) if the victim paid the geld, the Danes were generally not true to their word, and would return to the plundering and pillaging ….” This concept was immortalized by poet Rudyard Kipling in his poem, “Dane-geld,” whose final line was the lesson to be learned: “That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld, You never get rid of the Dane.”

The concept of Dane-geld is directly applicable to European attempts to pay off the Iranian regime today. It won’t work any better this time than it did with the Danes.

In 2015, the Iranians received more than $115 billion from the U.S. and other nations, to agree to the JCPOA. The hope, as President Obama articulated, was “ideally, we would see a situation in which Iran, seeing sanctions reduced, would start focusing on its economy, on training its people, on reentering the world community, to lessening its provocative activities in the region… it is possible that if we sign this nuclear deal, we strengthen the hand of those more moderate forces inside of Iran.”

Despite all this money, none of these hopes were realized under the JCPOA. What resulted was just more Iranian sponsored aggression, terrorism, and other bad behavior.

It’s been a thousand years since the Danish Vikings were marauders demanding and receiving the Dane-geld. It has been a hundred years since the Rudyard Kipling poem first articulated the lesson of the Dane-geld. And it has been four years since the JCPOA demonstrated the truth of that saying, as it relates to the Iranian regime.

It would be nice if Europe finally learned its lesson.

Originally Published: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/iran-dane-geld-france-europe/2019/09/18/id/933303/

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What John Bolton’s Departure Might Signal

I cannot claim to be one of those who is not concerned about what this week’s sudden departure of John Bolton from the White House might be signaling. Taken together with last week’s resignation of US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, this might be signaling the end of the Trump-Israel honeymoon.

(September 12, 2019 / JNS Press)

John Bolton has served the United States with distinction, in a great many capacities, as National Security Advisor under President Trump, as UN Ambassador under President George W. Bush and as Assistant Attorney General under President Ronald Reagan. He possesses a sober and realistic assessment as to who America’s friends and adversaries truly are, and a sophisticated, no-nonsense view of the multiple threats facing the United States and her allies.

Ambassador Bolton has projected the doctrine of “peace through strength”, not through appeasement. He was a strong supporter of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA, or the Iranian nuclear deal of 2015, which as we now see, has only served to enrich, empower and embolden the Islamic Republic, as they continue to carve out a Shiite empire that extends through Tehran, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, through  the Mediterranean Coast and into Sana’a.

We are seeing the products of the Shiite Crescent’s works as Hezbollah has encroached closer and closer to Israel’s borders, and has as recently as September 2nd, fired several missiles into Israel, which the  IDF had successfully intercepted. The Iranians have been giving Hezbollah the means to convert their dummy rockets into precision guided missiles, whichthey have been working on in conversion factories in Lebanon’s Baka Valley.

It is the Jewish state’s greatest nightmare that these missiles will become precise enough to hit Israel’s military or civilian infrastructure. Hezbollah has one goal and one goal alone: to eliminate the existence of Israel.

This news also comes on the heels of Saturday’s announcement by the Islamic Republic that they are stepping up the level of enrichment of uranium.  They are now using the sophisticated, advanced centrifuges which can quickly get to the 20 per cent level of purity, making it quite easy to get from that threshold to the lethal 90 per cent purity level necessary for a nuclear bomb.

This is not a mere technical violation of the JCPOA—It is the entire reason why there was a JCPOA. There have been violations all along, including the refusal of allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors into their military sites. Remember how we had been promised by the Obama administration, “anytime, anywhere inspections?”

 This week, in an address before the Israeli people, Prime Minister Netanyahu revealed yet another nuclear site with vivid satellite images in the Iranian city of Abadan, which was operational as recently as three months ago, which they then totally destroyed and covered up. “It’s incredible”, said the Israeli Prime Minister, “as soon as we reveal they cover their tracks.”

Yet, President Trump has signaled a willingness to meet with the Iranian President Rouhani on the sidelines of the General Assembly when it convenes on September 23rd.  The fact that the President was willing to meet with the Taliban on American soil, and has been willing to negotiate with Kim Jung Un of North Korea does not auger well.

Is President Trump willing to follow French President Emmanuel Macron’s lead and cave to the $15 billion bribe to the Iranians just to have them come to the table?

The Iranian’s response of approval to Trump’s dismissal of Bolton should already warn us how dangerous this move is. On Wednesday, Iranian President Rouhani said, “Americans have to realize that warmongering and warmongers are not to their benefit. They should not only abandon warmongering but also their maximal pressure campaign.”

If we are to lay culpability anywhere, it should be at the Obama White House, who bequeathed us with the legacy of this horrible deal and an emboldened Iranian empire that future world leaders will have to deal with. President Obama promised us that Iran would not get a nuclear bomb, “on my watch”.

He never promised that Iran would not get a nuclear bomb, on another President’s watch.

Following a script that they had used in the beginning of the nuclear negotiations with Obama, the Iranians are now playing coy with Trump’s signals to negotiate.

The Iranians invented the Persian shouk. They know how to negotiate and to get most of the world to beg them for our money, just to have them come to the table.

One hopes that the author of “The Art of the Deal” understands the words commonly attributed to Carl von Clausewitz, “Diplomacy is warfare by other means”.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/what-john-boltons-departure-might-signal/

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One way to quell the Iranian appetite for expansion: Stop giving money to the Lebanese armed forces

This past weekend was a particularly hot one for Israel.  On September 1st, the Iranian proxy, Hezbollah, launched anti-tank missiles across Israel’s northern border, directly aiming at an IDF base. Fortunately, there were no sustained injuries.  Israel responded by attacking Lebanese targets and the outlying borders of Lebanese communities along the Syrian-Lebanese border. Fortunately, there are no known casualties.

(September 5, 2019 / JNS Press)

This was the first time since the Lebanese War of 2006 that there has been a significant military exchange between Hezbollah and Israel. It is felt that this skirmish might have been contained for now. However, the situation is extremely tense.

And what makes it tenser still is that we all know that this is a shadow war, and the Islamic Regime is actually the puppet-master  pulling the strings of Hezbollah  and other Shiite proxy  groups, throughout Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

According to Brigadier General Michael Herzog (retired) who spoke for EMET on a Conference Call on Tuesday, the recent eruption of violence is part of the showdown that has been going on for several years now. The main factors, he believes is the Iranian plans to make use of the turmoil by becoming the dominant force, and that Iran felt greatly emboldened after the 2015 nuclear deal.

He explained that all  of what we are now seeing  is part of the two pronged  plan outlined by Qassam Solomeini, the Head of the Quds force in 2016:  1.) Creating the direct corridor from Tehran through Bagdad, Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean, 2.) Building a formidable proxy front through Hezbollah and other Shiite militias.

This, as the Iranians simultaneously put on a benign mask regarding the intentions of their nuclear program. Right now, they are playing brinkmanship  with the international community, threatening to enrich uranium to 20% if they do not get immediate sanctions relief. (Once the 20% level is reached, it is very easy to get to the 90% level, the level of highly enriched uranium necessary for a nuclear bomb.)

Now, they are asking for up to 15 billion dollars from the international community in sanctions relief. There is no other word for this than blackmail.

And the Europeans are all too willing to be blackmailed, particularly the French.

It is incredibly upsetting that French President Emmanuel Macron is willing to give the Iranians that exorbitant sum of money without any preconditions, simply for coming to the table. It is obvious that they did not learn anything from the last round of Iranian negotiations, which also rewarded the money to the Iranians up front.

This works against any leverage that the United States has been using to pressure the Iranians to give up their two goals that have been outlined by Qassam Solomeini.
 Both Iran and Hezbollah are under increasing economic pressure as result of the sanctions.

If the international community persists in finding ways to give the Iranians “economic relief” and in finding ways of evading sanctions, we will never quell the massive Iranian appetite for expansion and control.

What is almost equally upsetting is the fact that the United States has been giving the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) upward of $100 million a year, to the tune of 1.7billion over the last ten years, as we see that the LAF has become increasingly under the grip of Hezbollah

We have watched as Hezbollah has increasingly taken over more and more power within Lebanon.  According to General Herzog, “there is a lot of concern in Israel today about Hezbollah and the Lebanese government. We have seen that Hezbollah is now the strongest political party. They have veto power within the Lebanese parliament and veto power within the defense establishment.”

Continues General Herzog, “Lebanese President Michel Aoun is an ally of Hezbollah.  Aoun has stated officially that Hezbollah’s military capabilities complement the military capabilities of the state of Lebanon, so the state embraces Hezbollah as a military actor. We have seen coordination of the state military, the LAF, and Hezbollah, We have seen that in a coordinated attack against Islamists a few years ago, and we have seen this recently  when Israel discovered cross-border tunnels from Lebanon into Israel and the LAF resisted attempts to prevent this.”

“And we have concerns about the lack of willingness of UNIFIL to go after Hezbollah, as well”

Adds General Herzog, “This calls for a re-thinking of the aid that the United States gives to the Lebanese Armed Forces. Israel has not been very vocal about this, but I know there are many concerns, here.”

And Sheik Nasrallah continues to refer to the LAF as a “partner” and a “pillar”.

The reason that America initial gave money to the Lebanese Armed Forces was as a result of the 2006 war, to help them to distance themselves from Hezbollah. According to UN Security Council Resolution 1701, all other armed groups, besides the LAF, must be out of Lebanon.
That includes Hezbollah.

Now that Hezbollah has been fully embraced by the LAF, one the first things that the United States can do to prevent Qassam Solomeini and the Iranian mullahs from fulfilling their expansionist objectives is to  immediately halt all money to the Lebanese Armed Forces. 

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/one-way-to-quell-iranian-appetite-for-expansion-stop-giving-money-to-the-lebanese-military/

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To Our Friends at FDD

We, at EMET, have long been admirers of the excellent work of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and in particular that of its CEO, Mark Dubowitz. We find it utterly outrageous and beyond the pale that the Islamic Republic of Iran, which remains the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, has issued threatening statements against our colleagues at FDD, and against Mark Dubowitz, personally.

FDD is an independent think tank with no US government ties. They offer thoughtful and insightful analysis on a variety of international issues.

This past weekend, Mehr, the official Iranian news agency issued a statement citing a law passed by the Iranian Parliament saying, “Accordingly taking any actions by the judicial and security apparatuses against the FDD and their Iranian and non-Iranian accomplices will be considered legitimate as their actions are against Iran’s national security and the interests of the Iranian people and government.”

It is an absolute shame that the people of Iran have been held hostage by the brutal and repressive Islamic regime for 40 years. A regime which allows no freedom or independent thought and analysis. It is therefore incomprehensible to them that there can be independent think tanks and organizations, free of government control.

We, at EMET, hope that one day the people of Iran can once again live in an open and free society, such as ours. In the meantime, we offer our strongest words of solidarity and support to our friends and colleagues at FDD.

Sincerely,

Sarah N. Stern
Founder & President
Endowment for Middle East Truth

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What the USA can do for the Kurds in Syria

The U.S. has long had a major problem.  We are not considered a dependable ally.

(August 22, 2019 / American Thinker)

This first became widely known when the U.S. decided to remove our troops from the war in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the 1970s.  Many of our allies in those nations were left high and dry, to be persecuted or slaughtered by the communists.  In Cambodia, after the U.S. left, the genocidal forces of Pol Pot killed up to two million people.  

More recently, in 2011, U.S. troops were prematurely recalled from Iraq, abandoning the persecuted minorities there.  This allowed ISIS to establish the caliphate and slaughter and terrorize the population, especially Shia Muslims, Yazidis, and Christians.  Because ISIS was an avowed enemy of the U.S., beheaded several of our citizens, and conducted terror attacks against us, the U.S. eventually had to return to stop it.

Ironically, America becomes an undependable ally often because the American people have moral values and do not want to fight or police other nations.  Also, as a democracy, the U.S. public is sensitive to American casualties.  So when a war goes on too long, with many casualties, we often turn against the war, regardless of its importance or which side is winning.

This need not be what happens, in Syria, today.

The U.S. has about 1,000 American troops in Syria.  American troops were first introduced in 2014 to provide supplies, training, and air support to the Kurdish fighters in Syria and, later, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which included the Kurds, Syrian Sunni Arabs, Christians, and Yazidis as well. 

These U.S. troops have done a fantastic job, in tandem with the SDF.  In 2017, at the behest of the U.S., U.S. forces and the SDF conquered Raqqa, the capital of the ISIS caliphate.  In 2019, they seized the last land area in Syria controlled by ISIS.  

It is important to realize that the SDF had no reason on its own to conquer these areas, which are heavily Sunni Arab.  They did this at the behest of the U.S. 

Another important point is that from 2014 through today, only eight U.S. citizens have been killed in Syria.  This is because only very rarely were the U.S. forces anywhere near the front lines.

The SDF, through its civilian political party, the Syrian Democratic Council, has set up a self-governing area in Syria, constituting about a third of Syria.  Although the SDC rule of this area has not been perfect, it has been much more secular, democratic, and pro–human rights than any other group in Syria or Iraq.  What is especially notable in this area is that women, who, outside Israel, are largely discriminated against throughout the Middle East, are given real power in the SDC government. 

This SDF-controlled area notably includes 80% of the oil supplies in Syria.

But now, the Turks, led by their Islamist dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, are pressuring the U.S. to abandon the SDF.  President Erdoğan wants to create a “safe zone” that would extend 20 miles south from the Turkish border.  And he wants this area to be free of SDF forces.  The problem with this is that the “safe zone” that Erdoğan wants to create would incorporate a huge majority of the Kurdish population.  As we have seen from Afrin, if the Turks are successful in creating this zone, they will ethnically cleanse the native Kurdish population, which Erdoğan has long hated and feared, and replace them with the 3.5 million Sunni Muslim Arabs who are refugees in Turkey.  Also, as we have seen in Afrin, the Turks will replace the budding Syrian democracy with Turkish rule that is Islamist, is largely undemocratic, and does not respect human rights

This is the same Turkish regime that has increasingly become a fierce U.S. opponent, assisting both ISIS and Iran; buying the S-400 missile system from the Russians; threatening its neighbors, including Greece, Cyprus, Israel, and the various Kurdish entities (all of which are pro-American); and backing the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Middle East.

The Turks are not the only ones who want the U.S. troops out of Syria.  The Russians, the Iranians, and the Assad regime also want them gone.  These dangerous actors hope to eventually reconquer most of this area for Assad. 

The U.S. has agreed to a Turkish “safe zone” but has been ambiguous about the specifics.  When it comes to the latter, the U.S. needs to keep true to its ally, the SDF.  Otherwise, this would endanger U.S. forces — what nation would want to ally itself with us during future conflicts?  If the U.S. abandons the SDF, it will allow Turkey to wipe out the SDF; ISIS to rebound in the south of the SDF controlled area; or the Russians, the Iranians, and Assad to gain control of this area. 

It would also allow our enemies to gain control of the oil fields.  I suspect that President Trump would rightly be concerned about this

The U.S. should limit the safe zone in Syria to the smallest area possible and tell Turkey to stay out of any other SDF-controlled lands in Syria.  If Turkey refuses to listen, sanctions can be imposed.  And the U.S. troops in the area should stay put.  Otherwise, once again, the U.S. will become an undependable ally.

Originally published:https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2019/08/what_the_usa_can_do_for_the_kurds_in_syria.html

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Even more dangerous than the proposed California curriculum

Title VI of the Higher Education Act jump-started a regional-studies industry that has become distorted and one-sided, presenting Israel in a pernicious light for students of all ages.

(August 21, 2019 / JNS) 

Many in the Jewish community have been basking over the recent success of having the California Department of Education cancel its proposed, highly biased Palestinian ethnic-studies curriculum. However, most are oblivious to the fact that there is an equally, if not more insidious program that has been going on for decades now on the federal level, affecting every single state throughout the United States. This program has been slowly and steadily eroding the hearts and minds of America’s most impressionable and vulnerable school-aged-children away from support of the State of Israel.

And it has been going on for years.

This program is a part of Title VI of the Higher Education Act (HEA), a law that was passed during the height of the Cold War in 1965. The initial motivation for the program was a good one. It came about when folks in Washington realized that American students lacked sufficient knowledge in foreign regions, languages and cultures, and were therefore woefully ill-equipped to deal with the Soviet threat. So they set aside a pot of money to give to various universities in order to establish various regional-studies programs, such as Soviet studies, Latin Studies, Asian Studies and Middle Eastern Studies.

Thus, a thriving regional-studies industry was born.

Then, in 1978, the entire field of Middle Eastern Studies was revolutionized by the late professor of English comparative literature at Columbia University, Edward Said, with the publication of his book, Orientalism. The treatise was that no one could speak with any degree of scholarship and authenticity about the Middle East unless he or she was a native of the region (i.e., an Arab or a Muslim). Therefore, wonderful scholars such as Efraim Karsh and Bernard Lewis were moved aside on the bookshelves, and the university library and classroom doors were opened to a new generation of highly politicized, rabidly anti-Israel scholars.

This rather facile treatise caught on like wildfire. Academic scholarship of the Middle East became profoundly altered, and polemics started taking the place of serious scholarship. It made a sensational splash, bringing with it waves of academics who parrot the prevailing “group think” that is overwhelmingly anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian, post-colonial and anti-American.

A cannon of almost biblical proportion developed. Edward Said was the grand master, and his disciples include (among many others) Rashid Khalidi, Hamid Dabashi and Joseph Massad at Columbia, and Hatem Bazian, the founder of Students for Justice in Palestine, which has known links to terrorist organizations.

And they begot hundreds of more disciples.

By now, thousands of doctoral dissertations have been written based on Said’s thesis, and the faculties departments of Middle Eastern Studies are overwhelmingly staffed by professors who buy in to their one-sided dogma. It is, by now, virtually impossible for students to survive in most of these classes unless they either a) affirm the prevailing anti-Israel and anti-American biases; or b) lie just to succeed in the class (and consequently feel demoralized).

In 2008, the organization I founded, EMET, was able to pass some amendments to Title VI of the HEA through Congress, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush. These amendments called for a “diversity of perspectives and wide range of viewpoints.” However, although I had thought then that we had reached a victory, it was actually a rather Pyrrhic one.

Despite the fact that we have met with the Department of Education several times under both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump, the same one-sided politicization of the issues are still being taught in the Title VI-funded university classroom. And because of the cherished values of “academic freedom” and “free speech,” there is very little that can be done about this (although because this is a taxpayer-funded grant, we are currently working on some legislation to reinforce the diversity of perspective amendments).

What is even more pernicious, however, is that in order for the universities to get the federal funding, they have to hold teacher-training workshops in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Even more alarming is the curriculum guide being used in these teacher-training workshops. It is Audrey Shabbas’s The Arab World Studies Notebook, which has entire chapters devoted on how to teach Islam in the classroom, amounting to little more than proselytizing. All of this section presents a glossy whitewash and glorification of Islam, and never mentions anti-Semitic and anti-Christian teachings of the Koran, or Islam’s treatment of women, minorities and gays.

The Notebook is published by the Middle East Policy Council, which gets its funding from Saudi Arabia and AWAIR, which is funded by the Saudi oil conglomerate, Aramco.

Just as significant are the chapters regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, where Israel alone is completely at fault for every war in the Mideast. Particularly upsetting is the chapter on Palestine, which simply engenders sympathy towards the Palestinian cause and hatred towards Israel. Among other things, the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish, including  “Identity Card” is taught, which speaks of olive groves planted by a Palestinian grandfather that are ripped away by the state before the Palestinian children can harvest them, and another compelling essay by Darwish speaking about the racism of an Israeli cab driver and his humiliation while in the cab.

The book was first introduced to teachers in 1990, and is the primary curriculum guide used by the Title VI, legally mandated teacher-training workshops. Ms. Shabbas has bragged that her book has been distributed to more than 10,000 teachers, and “if each notebook teaches 250 students a year, over 10 years, then you’ve reached 25 million students. Now, my teachings have reached the hearts and minds of millions of American school-aged students.”

By now, some of these students have graduated and occupy positions of power in Washington.

Is it any wonder, then, that there are strong voices within one of our major parties calling for a re-evaluation of America’s alliance with Israel?

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/even-more-dangerous-than-the-proposed-california-curriculum/

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Saudi Arabia must win in Yemen, not Iran

“The Senate on Monday did not override President Trump’s vetoes of three measures to block arms deals benefiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, an expected but nonetheless serious setback for those who had hoped Congress would punish Saudi leaders for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” The Washington Post reported on July 29, 2019.

(August 6, 2019 / Newsmax)

Contrary to the tone of The Washington Post article, this is a good thing.

There is no question that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a “bad” nation. They have done what they have been accused of. The Saudis have invaded Yemen, admittedly to support its’ legitimate president and government, and sometimes indiscriminately bomb its’ cities. And the Saudi leadership almost undoubtedly had Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident, killed in a particularly brutal manner.

There is also no question that the Saudis are deplorable in other ways as well.

They have a horrendous human rights record at home. In Saudi Arabia, it is illegal for non-Muslims to be citizens, women have few rights, and the Shia Muslim minority is discriminated against religiously, in the areas of education, the administration of justice, and employment. Saudi clerics have sometimes even sanctioned the killing of Shia Saudi citizens. Saudi Arabia has the third highest rate of executions in the world behind China and Iran, according to Amnesty International. The death penalty is even used for non-crimes, such as practicing witchcraft. Children can be put to death; a boy was beheaded for simply protesting the government. Other protestors have been killed by crucifixion or by having their head impaled on a spike. Stoning remains a punishment for women accused of adultery.

And Saudi Arabia has been a malignant force throughout the world when it comes to spreading Wahhabism, or radical Sunni Islam. Wahhabism’s explosive growth began in the 1970s when Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools and mosques worldwide. Among those educated by Saudi propaganda was Osama Bin Laden. Granted, the Saudis have gotten a little better, recently. But they still spend millions, if not hundreds of millions, to educate people in a dangerous and anti-U.S., anti-Israel, and anti-West ideology.

But with all this said, President Trump is quite right to continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia. Because it is not all about Saudi Arabia; any national interest calculus by the U.S. must also address the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The fact is the Saudis are only in Yemen because of Iran. The Shia Islamist Iranian regime has been sending advanced weapons and military advisers to supply and train Yemen’s rebel Houthi movement. The Houthis control about half of the population of that nation, and a large chunk of that land, including the former capitol of Sana’a. Under Iranian tutelage — and sometimes under direct orders — the Houthis have attacked plenty of Saudi targets, and more concerning for the U.S., oil shipping in the area through the Bab al-Mandab strait and in the Red Sea. An estimated 4.8 million b/d of crude oil and refined petroleum products flowed through this waterway in 2016. The Houthis have even gone so far as to attack a U.S. ship.

What is worse, the Iranian regime is also in Yemen in the hopes that it can threaten Saudi Arabia, a huge world producer of oil. Yemen has always been the soft underbelly of Saudi Arabia. In the 60’s, Egypt’s then-dictator Gamal Abdul Nasser invaded Yemen, threatening the Saudis, and prompting them to support the Yemeni forces arrayed against Egypt. Eventually, Egyptian forces were forced out. Today, Iran hopes to succeed where Egypt failed. In particular, it hopes to inspire and support the Shia Muslim majority population in the Eastern Province of the Saudi kingdom to rise up against the Saudi King. This area of Saudi Arabia is especially valuable, as it has most of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s oil, and is directly adjacent to the Persian Gulf.

Needless to say, although the U.S. no longer relies on oil from the Middle East, the U.S. still has a national interest in preventing the Iranian regime from disrupting the oil flow throughout the world and creating economic chaos.

And that is not all.

Iran is at war with the U.S. Over the years, the Iranian regime has seized hostages from our Embassy in Tehran, sponsored and directed the attacks that murdered and maimed hundreds of Americans by foreign designated terror group Hezbollah, and supplied and trained Iraqi rebel terror groups who killed over 600 U.S. soldiers in Iraq. For that matter, the Houthis are no friends to the U.S. Not only have the Houthis fired on a U.S. ship, but they are also known for their chant, “Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory to Islam!”

And although the Saudis can be a dangerous sponsor of terrorism, the Iranian regime is the premier state sponsor of terrorism, worldwide. It has long been a menace to its neighbors in the Middle East, including the U.S.’s strongest ally, Israel, and also to the European nations, including those that continue to support the Iran deal. Recently, while the Iranian president was touring Europe to drum up support for more European aid to Iran, his regime was plotting to bomb an anti-Iranian regime rally near Paris, which would have killed and wounded probably hundreds of innocent Europeans (and some Americans). Like Saudi Arabia, the Iranian regime also promotes radical Islam; the only difference is that Iran promotes radical Shia Islam instead of the Sunni version.

Finally, the U.S. also has an interest in selling weapons and supplies to Saudi Arabia to boost the U.S. economy.

Even the moral argument is basically a wash. The Houthis and the Iranians have human rights records that are similar, if not worse, than the Saudis. In Iran, gays are hung on cranes, Baha’is are eradicated, and political prisoners are tortured and killed by the regime. The Houthis are no better. They have the distinction of having recruited more than 30,000 child soldiers since war broke out, far more than the Saudis. And, like the Saudis, they are also quite willing to bomb and starve their own people.

As Winston Churchill once memorably said, “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” The same sentiment applies here. Saudi Arabia is not a “good” nation, but it is much better for the U.S. national interest that the Saudis win in Yemen, rather than the Iranians. The U.S. should act accordingly.

Originally published: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/saudi-arabia-yemen-iran-united-states/2019/08/06/id/927503/

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A very bitter Jerusalem bombing anniversary

After American largess and Israeli know-how, the Jordanians have been offering safe haven to a cold-blooded murderer of American citizens who has made a career out of her crime.

(August 7, 2019 / JNS)

Aug. 9 marks the 18th anniversary of a very dark day. That was the day that Ahlam Tamimi calmly picked up Izz-al-Din Shuheil al Masri from his home in al-Aqabah in Judea (the West Bank) and serenely delivered him to the Sbarro pizzeria shop in Jerusalem. That was the site Ms. Tamimi had intentionally scoped out because it was a popular eatery frequented by families, singles and Jews of all ages.

It had been a sultry day and many young students, who were off from school during the long summer recess, were looking for ways to spend their time. One of these students, Malki Roth, entered the restaurant with her best friend, Mihal Raziel. At the same time, Izz Al-Din entered the restaurant and—using a guitar case rigged with nuts, bolts and nails, together with a suicide vest rigged with 10 kilograms of explosives—detonated himself. The explosion rocked the nearby vicinity, murdering 15 people, eight of them children.

Two of the murdered were American citizens: 15-year-old Roth, and Judith Greenbaum, 31, who was five months pregnant at the time. A third American, Chana Nachenberg, lies in a permanent vegetative state.

Immediately after the bombing, Ahlam Tamimi was on a Palestinian bus back to Ramallah, and described what happened as news reached them about the mounting death toll. “As the number of dead kept increasing, the passengers were applauding. They didn’t even know that I was among them … ,” she said. “On the way back [to Ramallah], we passed a Palestinian police checkpoint, and the policemen were laughing. One of them stuck his head in and said: ‘Congratulations to us all.’ Everybody was happy.”

Herein lies the heart of the matter regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which also pertains to our treatment of the Hashemite Kingdom.

Irrespective of the intentions of the Americans and the Israelis, or of what the final borders of a Palestinian state that they envision might look like, or of how many billions of dollars the United States wants to throw at the Palestinian Authority and any other entity that will help in the effort to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table, there will never be peace as long as this culture of hatred and incitement towards the wanton death of innocents is cultivated.

What is even more disturbing is that our own government has long had a condescending and patronizing attitude towards the Muslim and Arab world, so much so that we have let them literally get away with the murder of our own citizens and allow them to seek refuge there.

Ahlam Tamimi was initially arrested in Israel, where she was serving 16 consecutive life sentences. In 2011, she was released, together with 1,026 other Hamas terrorists with blood on their hands, in exchange for kidnapped Israel Defense Forces’ soldier Gilad Shalit.

She went to Jordan, where she was treated like a conquering hero, and where she has made an illustrious career out of her heinous crime. At one point, she was given her own Hamas-sponsored television show and even appeared on the secular Jordanian show “Carnival,” where she was received like visiting royalty.

According to American law (18 USC, 2332 b), any time an American is murdered abroad, the United States has jurisdiction and is directed to prosecute the perpetrator to the full extent of the law. There is no statute of limitations.

In March of 2017, the FBI met with Malki’s parents, Arnold and Frimet Roth, and unsealed a warrant for Tamimi’s arrest, demanding her extradition from Jordan. (Jordan signed an extradition treaty with the United States back in 1995.) Tamimi has been put on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” terrorist lists, and there is now a $5 million award leading to her arrest.

Several terrorists have been extradited from Jordan at the request of the United States, all of whom are serving out lengthy sentences in American jails.

However, in the case of Tamimi, the government of Jordan has suddenly said that no such extradition treaty exists.

The U.S. government is the single largest provider of bilateral assistance to Jordan, currently at the tune of $1.7 billion a year. The Israeli government has been working with the Jordanian government since the 1994 peace treaty was signed, helping them with agriculture, irrigation and oil projects. But the biggest peace dividend for Jordan was the initiation of trilateral Jordanian-Israeli American Qualifying Industrial Zones, which opened the door for a Jordanian-American free trade agreement. This, in turn, opened the door to the World Trade Association and the Greater Arab Free Trade Area, widening the door for Jordan to trade with the wealthy Gulf Arab states.

Yet even all of these economic benefits since signing the peace agreement with Israel have not changed the hearts and minds of the Jordanian people or its leadership. A recently released study conducted by IMPACT SE indicates that although the Jordanians say that the new textbooks teach tolerance, they have done little to alter hatred of Israel and Jews, one textbook publishes a dialogue between a Palestinian grandmother and granddaughter in which she says, “I wish that I will see Palestine liberated from the Zionist occupation.”

When King Abdullah came to the United States recently, he was asked by several members of Congress about the request for Tamimi’s extradition. According to one staffer, he dismissively responded with, “It is not going to happen.”

End of story.

After all this American largess and Israeli know-how, the Jordanians have been offering safe haven to a cold-blooded murderer of American citizens who has made a career out of her crime.

Tamimi knows this. Recently, she said, “Being in Jordan gives me strength because no extradition treaty exists with the United States.”

After American largess and Israeli know-how, the Jordanians have been offering safe haven to a cold-blooded murderer of American citizens who has made a career out of her crime.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/a-very-bitter-jerusalem-bombing-anniversary/

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Ever Hear of Robert Stethem? Of How He Was Treated by the Iranians?

The roots of the latest Iran-U.S. crisis go back to 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump walked away from the Iranian nuclear deal, one of the signature achievements of his predecessor Barack Obama, and re-imposed harsh sanctions on the country.

(CNN, Bianca Britton, June 25, 2019)

This talking point from the media is getting old, fast.

It is also completely untrue. The “roots of the Iran-U.S. crisis” go back much further than 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump removed America from the flawed JCPOA and re-imposed sanctions. In reality, they go back to 1979, when the current Iranian regime seized and abused American hostages.

The real reason that the United States, and the world at large, is facing a crisis with Iran is because the current Iranian regime is, and always has been, a radical, evil, violent and terror-supporting Islamist regime.

Let us focus on just one brutal example.

In 1985, Robert Stethem, a U.S. Navy diver, was on TWA Flight 847, returning from a project in Greece. That flight was hijacked by Hezbollah, a foreign-designated terrorist group in Lebanon that is “Revolutionary Iran’s most successful export,” as it is largely funded and largely controlled by the Iranian regime.

During the hijacking, Stethem and other U.S. military personnel were singled out for punishment as the flight flew back and forth to various airports. Stethem was tied up with elastic baggage straps and beaten a number of times. The straps were so tight that at one point, he cried out. Besides using their fists and feet, the hijackers beat Stethem with an armrest torn from a seat with sharp metal screws on the outside. When he collapsed, nearly unconscious, one of the hijackers jumped up and down on his ribs. After the first beating, Stethem, barely able to walk, was helped back to the coach section with several broken ribs and one hand completely numb. He had to be fed by another passenger.

In the evening, the Hezbollah hijackers brought Stethem back to the front of the airplane for another beating. He was again bound and blindfolded. Sometime after 2:30 a.m. in Beirut, the hijackers shot Robert Stethem—the bullet piercing his head behind the right ear and exiting on the other side of his head. One fellow passenger stated that “there were terrible blood-curdling screams … it was a long scream … I heard this three times, and I’ll never forget it.” The hijackers then tossed Stethem, still moaning, out the door and down onto the runway, where he lived in pain for another 10 minutes.

The current regime in Iran and Hezbollah are solely responsible for the 1985 torture and murder of Robert Stethem. That is because the current regime in Iran is led by the very same people who founded or supported the Islamic Republic in 1979, created Hezbollah in the 1980s, and ordered Hezbollah and other proxies to conduct acts of terrorism. The current Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was president of Iran in 1985. The current Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, was another one of the founders of the regime and an official of it in 1985. The current foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who charms Western audiences with his supposed “moderation,” was a diplomat of that regime in 1985.

Robert Stethem’s torture and murder is not the only such criminal conduct by the Iranian regime or its proxies. At this point, there are (at least) tens of thousands of victims of Iranian sponsored terror. Just focusing on the United States, Iran has killed hundreds of innocent victims. In the 2000s, it was responsible for the deaths of more than 600 American soldiers who were murdered in Iraq by Iranian IEDs. In the 1980s and 1990s, besides Stethem, Hezbollah killed more Americans than any other terrorist group.

A nation that sponsors and directs such terrorism is an inherently evil regime.

So, when a news agency or foreign government claims that legal, moral and non-violent U.S. actions are the root cause of a U.S-Iranian crisis, where the Iranian regime has conducted illegal, violent and immoral actions—in this case, Iranian directed attacks on innocent international shipping and innocent foreigners—they are just plain wrong. The root cause of this crisis is that the Iranian regime is an evil regime that sponsors violence and terrorism.

Violence and terrorism that can kill innocent people, like Robert Stethem.

That is the “root of the Iran-U.S.” crisis.

Originally published: https://www.jns.org/opinion/ever-hear-of-robert-stethem-of-how-he-was-treated-by-the-iranians/

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