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Retreat from Syria Will Cause the Region to Combust

Photo: REUTERS / Rodi Said

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moral beacons do not desert their friends.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When Diplomacy Interferes with Justice

Photo: MEMRI-TV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This injustice cannot be allowed to stand.

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

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

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Free Speech for Thee, and Not for Me

Photo: Monica Almeida/The New York Times

Updated: January 22, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oftentimes, these cowardly, anonymous acts go unpunished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When Diplomacy Interferes With Justice

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

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

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

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

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

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

In late 2002, Tamimi was sentenced by an Israeli court to 16 multiple sentences for her part in this massacre. However, on October 19, 2011, she, together with 1,026 other terrorists, were traded for Gilad Schalit, the Israeli soldier held by Hamas.

 

When Ahlam Tamimi was released she was deported to Jordan, where she received a hero’s welcome. As a terrorist, she received money from the Palestinian Authority, at least $52,681, under the “pay-for-slay” program. The Hamas television station Al-Quds gave Tamimi her own television show, which aired every Friday and, until recently, was broadcast around the world. She married her cousin, Nazir Tamimi, who also had been serving time in an Israeli prison for killing an Israeli citizen, and who also was released in exchange for Gilad Schalit. Their wedding was broadcast throughout the Arab world.For decades, we at the Endowment for Middle East Truth have worked exhaustedly to get justice for the families of the Americans killed and wounded in Israel and the disputed territories by Palestinian terrorists like Ahlam Tamimi. We have successfully worked with Congress on multiple letters to the Department of Justice, and twice inspired hearings on the subject. At the second hearing, Arnold Roth, the father of Malki, was brought in to testify. At that hearing, for the first time ever, Brad Wiegmann, the deputy assistant attorney-general in the National Security Division, who supervises these prosecutions, was called to account for the DOJ’s lack of prosecution and was forced to provide a future report to the subcommittee.

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

This injustice cannot be allowed to stand.

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

Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth. Adam Turner is its general counsel & legislative affairs director.

Originally published at: https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/When-diplomacy-interferes-with-justice-574420
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To US Lawmakers, Keep Troops in Syria

Photo: ABC News

With the Republicans losing control of the House in January, expect calls for an ‘exit strategy’ from the Syrian civil war. A rapid exit would be a mistake. An immature withdrawal from Syria would be a catastrophic miscalculation parallel to that of 2011 when troops pulled out of Iraq under the Obama administration. In 2011, as Iraq witnessed a degree of stability thanks to US troop presence, the Kurds in the north advised the Americans to stay. These warnings were ignored, the Islamic State (ISIS) emerged just years later.

Today in Syria the war is gradually on the decline with only pockets of tension. The Assad regime is the clear victor over territories west of the Euphrates river, thanks to the aid of Russia and Iran. In the northwest, rebels and al Qaeda affiliates have managed to carve up territories with orders coming from Ankara, aiming to fulfill Erdogan’s Ottoman ambitions. However, in Northeast Syria, there exists stability far greater than that of 2011 Iraq. Controlled by our coalition partners the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), East of the Euphrates holds 2,000 US troops, a small but potent presence. It is in the United States national security interests to keep a long-term presence in Syria for the reasons below:

Control Iran

Iran is the single biggest threat to US national security interests in the Middle East. If the US decides to pack up and leave it will hand over to Iran 30 percent of Syrian territory. Syrian land is not all created equal. The land the US is protecting includes an estimated 52 percent of natural resources — not only oil but also agricultural land, major dams, pipelines, highways and access to the Euphrates. Iran aims to institutionalize its presence in Syria. Iran’s model for Syria is Hezbollah in Lebanon, coupled with the sort of underhanded methods Iran has used to undermine Iraq. A US withdrawal would offer Iran access to substantial resources at a time when their economy is teetering.

A troop pullout would also embolden the Ba’athist regime in Syria to overtake territory in the northeast. Both to push back Assad’s ambitions of reconquering all of Syria, and to hinder Iran’s expansionist agenda, America must stay in Syria. The United States mustn’t indirectly give Iran the greenlight to permanently set up camp in another Arab state. The US has an opportunity to prevent Iran from further escalating tensions in an already-ravaged Middle East.

Befriend the Kurds

The United States most reliable and stable ally has been the Kurds. The US-Kurdish military partnership has drastically improved since 2011, and the fight against ISIS has only reinforced that they are a reliable and resilient minority. The Kurds in Syria have defended their historical territories east of the Euphrates while battling not only the Islamic State but other terror organizations, Iranian backed groups, and the Assad regime. Continuing to support the Kurds allows US soldiers to stick to their ‘train, advise and equip’ policy.

According to Wladimir van Wilgenburg, an on-the-ground based reporter and analyst, with extensive experience in northeast Syria states that “the SDF are a unified force, they provide the security for all ethnic and religious minorities, they allow journalists and NGOs to work freely in the areas they control, they have zero tolerance for corruption and looting, and have a great recruiting track record.” As the conflict winds down, the US can transform its military partnership with the SDF into a political relationship by supporting the governing system, the Syrian Democratic Council.

The alliance with the Kurds gives the US another advantage: it gives their presence legitimacy. As long as the SDC continues, US troops are in Syria with the permission of over 4 million local citizens. This is just. The Assad regime no longer has a legitimacy in the northeast. The SDC alliance shows that Assad’s argument that the US is in Syria without authorization is not valid. The US effort is legitimized by the very governing system that Assad would like to destroy.

Originally published: https://securitystudies.org/opinion-to-us-lawmakers-keep-troops-in-syria/

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France and Germany, Have You No Shame?

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

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

Simply for money.

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

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

And Germany: Have you no shame?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: AFP

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Linda Sarsour Doesn’t Speak for Me

Saturday, October 27th, 2018 is a day that will forever be etched in tragedy. For the Jewish people. For Pittsburgh. For America. 11 lives were taken in an act of violence and hate. These 11 people were partaking in a baby naming ceremony in the Tree of Life Synagogue during the Sabbath, until a man who “just wanted to kill Jews” entered the synagogue and opened fire on the congregation, taking 11 innocent souls, forever inflicting pain and suffering on a community.

In the days following the shooting, I constantly read my newsfeed, seeing what others had to say and how they were handling their grief. There were those who took to love: photos of Jews and non-Jews alike gathered at vigils, mourning the victims. There were those who took to anger: opinionated posts of those who felt the need to politicize the massacre, and commentators arguing over its cause.

My stomach dropped for the second time since I first heard about the shooting. Choosing love every single time? We don’t have to agree on the same issues? This is coming from the same woman who is quoted minimizing anti-Semitism, saying it’s not systemic, even though anti-Semitism made up 54% of religious hate crimes in 2016.

Sarsour is also the same woman who is a close friend and supporter of Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan, a well-known anti-Semite, who recently made the anti-Semitic comparison of Jews to termites. She failed to condemn Farrakhan’s words. These words don’t sound like unrelenting love to me.

In regards to Sarsour’s preaching about how we don’t have to agree on the same political issues, one can’t help but label her as an indisputable hypocrite.  In 2017, Sarsour claimed that Zionists cannot be feminists as part of her platform on which the Women’s March is based. Sarsour’s words alienate those who support Israel from wanting to partake in a protest that deals with a completely different political issue, causing some Zionist feminists to feel forced to “sacrifice” their Zionism for the sake of feminism.  What ever happened to unity, Linda?

I could continue describing more examples of the way Sarsour and her followers seem to forget her anti-Semitic past. I could mention how, at the Jewish Voice for Peace conference in Chicago in 2017, Sarsour felt “honored” to be speaking with Rasmea Odeh, a convict in Israel who murdered two Jewish students at Hebrew University in a 1969 terror attack.

I could also recall the time Sarsour called Zionism, the belief that Jews have the right to self-determination and should live in their ancestral homeland, “creepy.” Because when there is a rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic attacks in the United States (not to mention Europe), it’s “creepy” to want to live safely in the only Jewish nation in the world.

I could go on, but I won’t. Because this a time when Jews and non-Jews must cast our differences aside and come together in genuine mourning and prayer and healing. Sarsour may use words of “unrelenting love” now when it’s most convenient for her and her following, but to a pro-Israel Jew, that only adds more salt to the wound when our community is already hurting. Linda Sarsour doesn’t speak for me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Miranda Lapides is the Deputy Director of Communications at the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-America think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC.
Originally published at: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/linda-sarsour-doesnt-speak-for-me/
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Khashoggi – Who Put Erdogan In Charge?

There have been 25 dead journalists accounted for in Turkey since 1992; seven under Erdogan’s regime. Since the 2016 coup in Turkey, 189 media outlets have been shut down and more than 319 journalists have been arrested, the most of any country – even surpassing China.

In recent weeks, Turkey requested that the international police agency Interpol issue a “red notice” warrant to arrest exiled journalists Can Dundar and Ilhan Tanir. Erdogan’s abuse of Interpol to arrest his critics has received pushback from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said, “We must not misuse international organizations like Interpol for such purposes.”

If hunting them down weren’t enough, once journalists are in Turkish custody they are subject to more suffering. Turkish journalist Cevheri Guven stated that he was forced to sign his confession and was subject to mistreatment and torture. Another tactic is abduction. To date, 14 journalists have disappeared.

So why has the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi ignited like wildfire among the mainstream media? Why are we focused on one journalist and not all? Why just one country, Saudi Arabia, and nhot Turkey’s horrendous human rights record? If Saudi Arabia is guilty, then Turkey is beyond guilty. If this is truly about Jamal Khashoggi, then Turkey should be put under the same, if not greater, scrutiny until the cases of all 25 dead journalists have been solved and the perpetrators have been arrested – not just for Khashoggi. But this is not about human rights, nor is it about a journalist. Erdogan as usual is banking on a specific issue because he sees an opportunity to gain leverage.

Erdogan’s first motive is an attempt to shift the focus from his own troubled state to that of Saudi Arabia. If we discuss objectively a bad track record, then let’s have a look at Erdogan’s Turkey as of August 29, 2018: 170,372 state officials, teachers, bureaucrats and academics have been dismissed; 142,874 have been detained; 81,417 have been arrested; 3,003 schools, dormitories and universities have been shut down; 6,021 academic have lost their jobs; 4,463 judges and prosecutors have been dismissed – all since July 2016. This excludes the number of deaths and arrests in Erdogan’s war against the minority Kurds which number more than 20% of the country’s population in the southeast.

Saudi Arabia is a monarchy. It does not claim to be a democracy nor does it want to be one, despite gradual changes by the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. However, Turkey claims to be a democratic state, a secular modern state, a European Union candidate, a NATO member and a US ally. But let’s not forget that Turkey has deep ties with Russia, evaded Iran sanctions, threatened US soldiers and top officials at Incirlik Air Base, still holds Americans hostage, has close ties with Hamas – a US-designated terrorist organization – and aided Islamic State while spreading Muslim Brotherhood ideology in the Middle East. So, what makes Erdogan’s Turkey better than Saudi Arabia?

If shifting the focus off Turkey is not enough, Erdogan desires closer ties with the United States and is bitter towards the Trump administration’s relations with Saudi Arabia. Erdogan believes as a NATO partner, Turkey should be priority for the US, not Saudi Arabia, despite ruining the relationship on his own. Most importantly, Iran has been quiet throughout the Khashoggi case. Erdogan is attempting to steer the US from taking punitive measures against Iran by weakening Saudi Arabia.

It seems Erdogan is fighting Iran’s battle against the kingdom. Iran is deviously doing what it does best, patiently wait to strike. Meanwhile, Erdogan will also likely demand more leverage in Syria, especially against US allies, the Syrian Democratic Forces. Erdogan’s mission throughout the Syrian conflict has been to disintegrate the partnership between the Kurds and Americans. But he has miserably failed and this is just another stab at it. Of course, Erdogan will attempt to receive some sort of financial aid either from Saudi Arabia or the US for keeping his silence. This is another form of hostage diplomacy – blackmail, actually – with which he is well acquainted.

Erdogan is self-appointed as the protector of the Jamal Khashoggi case, but he should not be taken seriously. His attempt to reconstruct the image of Turkey and himself should be approached with the utmost hesitancy. Erdogan is not to be trusted.

Originally published: https://www.jpost.com//Opinion/Khashoggi-who-put-Erdogan-in-charge-571008

Photo: WPA Pool/Getty Images

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Out of Respect for the Dead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Within the current House races there are some ominous signs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Don’t Reward Turkey’s Hostage Taking

Recently, after holding American citizen Andrew Brunson in prison for over two years, the Turkish regime finally let him go.

In response, President Trump tweeted, “There was, however, great appreciation on behalf of the United States, which will lead to good, perhaps great, relations between the United States & Turkey!”

Hopefully, the President is going to limit his actions to this simple tweet of appreciation.

Andrew Brunson was nothing more than a hostage of the Turkish President. Brunson’s trial was a sham, with ridiculous charges and evidence. President Erdogan clearly intended to trade Brunson for Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish imam in exile in Pennsylvania, whom Mr. Erdogan accuses, without credible evidence, of plotting an anti-Erdogan 2016 coup in Turkey. The fact that Brunson was finally released when the Turks wanted to curry favor with Trump doesn’t change that he was unjustly grabbed and imprisoned in the first place.

The Turks’ release of Brunson is related to the disappearance of Saudi citizen and U.S. resident, Jamal Khashoggi.

“The Khashoggi affair has presented a unique opportunity to undermine Saudi influence, potentially creating a regional power void for Turkey to fill,” according to Axios.

But, according to The Federalist, to fill that power void, Turkey had “to improve their position by giving the Trump administration something it wanted.”

So, they gave up Brunson. However, it should be noted that Brunson is not the only U.S. citizen held hostage by the Turks. Serkan Golge and Ismail Kul, two Turkish-American scientists, are still being imprisoned by the Erdogan regime. There are also three Turkish citizens who work in the U.S. consulate that are being held.

So, the U.S. shouldn’t be rewarding Turkish hostage taking, especially because we have countless examples of earlier instances where the U.S. rewarded hostage takers and suffered later for it. For example, leading up to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran held a number of hostages, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian. When the Iran deal was finalized, the Obama administration shelled out $1.7 billion to Iran, in cash, to ransom four hostages. The Obama administration claimed this was not ransom; however, the money was not released to Iran until the U.S. had confirmation that the Iranian plane carrying the Americans had taken off, and Iranian officials told the press the cash was “a ransom payment.”

What was the result of this ransom payment to Iran? Nothing good for the U.S.

Soon after, Iran began to grab more hostages.

Further, Iran continued to vocally demonstrate their hostility to the U.S., and to actively wage war against our forces and interests in the region, despite the U.S. ransom payment, and the JCPOA’s other monetary rewards.

Likewise, the Turks under President Erdogan are also not going to change their anti-American stripes, even if the U.S. gives them some rewards for their release of Andrew Brunson.

President Erdogan has very different political interests than does the U.S. He is a proponent of radical Islam, and is a determined opponent of democracy and human rights. In fact, according to the former U.S. National Security Advisor, Turkey is taking on a “new role” as a key funder of Islamist ideology that targets western interests.

Although Turkey is part of NATO, the Turks have not been good allies in years, as they threaten fellow NATO member Greece, interfere in the use of the Incirlik base by other NATO allies like Germany and the U.S., conduct joint military exercises with China, and buy the s-400 missile system from Russia. (Eventually Turkey hopes to produce the s-500 as well.) The Turkish regime continues to threaten Israel. His regime continues to vow to buy oil from Iran, despite the sanctions that the Trump administration are reinstituting. And his country still allows ISIS recruits to cross its border into Syria, at a rate of about 100 a month.

The Turks also have a tremendous rivalry with the various Kurdish forces in the region, including the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, which are both strong allies of the U.S. Turkey has long feared that independence/autonomy for these Kurds would in turn inspire the same in Turkey’s large and growing Kurdish minority. As a result, Erdogan has attacked the Syrian Kurdish-led Syrian Defense Forces (SDF) multiple times, and is reportedly planning to use the jihadists groups in Syria, including al-Qaeda associates, against them (the SDF). Turkey has even gone so far as to threaten to attack U.S. forces in Syria for their willingness to work with the SDF.

The fact that the Turks finally released Andrew Brunson when it became convenient for them to do so does not mean that Turkey is any better an ally of the U.S. than it was the day before Jamal Khashoggi disappeared. It isn’t. And the U.S. shouldn’t be rewarding President Erdogan’s consistent bad behavior.

Originally published: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/turkey-erdogan-hostages-trump/2018/10/22/id/887439/

Photo: The Milli Chronicle

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