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You Cannot Whitewash Away Polish Anti-Semitism

Photo Credit: Alik Keplicz/AP

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki was forced last week to deny being a Holocaust revisionist, after suggesting that Jews were complicit in their own genocide.

Referring to a new Polish law making it illegal to say the country has responsibility for the Holocaust, an Israeli journalist and son of Polish survivors asked Morawiecki if he could face prison for recounting how his mother was betrayed by her Polish neighbors.

The Prime Minister replied: “Of course it’s not going to be punishable … to say that there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators, as there were Russian perpetrators, as there were Ukrainian, not only German perpetrators.”

Morawiecki’s remarks were a shameful adulteration of history. There were no “Jewish perpetrators” in the Holocaust. They were victims. The Jewish prisoners who participated in the extermination machinery did so under the immediate threat of death.

The new law, which Polish lawmakers chose to push — on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less — cannot be understood without an appreciation of the context from which it emerged, nurtured by the rise of nationalism in Poland and the tactic support of the populist government, which views itself as the guardian of Polish historical honor.

A dark trend is once again sweeping across the European continent. In Macerata, a small town in Italy, a neo-fascist admirer of Mussolini recently went on a shooting rampage, wounding five men and one woman of African origin. In Austria, a party with neo-Nazi roots now sits in the coalition government. And from Hungary to the Czech Republic, France and Britain, political parties and their supporters are reviving the old blood libel against Jews. Europe’s grip on its bloody past is far from assured.

Of course, Poland’s history with the Third Reich is complex. If the new law were to clarify that the Polish government had no official role in the Holocaust, it would be an accurate reflection of events. Likewise, Poland is right to object to the flippant use of “Polish death camps” to describe Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor, Majdanek and Chelmno rather than “Nazi death camps inside Poland.”

But in every country under Nazi occupation — Poland is no exception — most of the local population were either silent witnesses to the slaughter or willing participants in the annihilation of Jews.

Take, for example, the role of Polish collaborators. In July of 1941, 1,600 Jews, nearly the entire Jewish population in the village of Jedwabne, were murdered by their Polish neighbors. Some were hunted down and killed with clubs, knives and axes. Most were forced into a barn and burned alive.

The Polish police collaborated with the Germans on many occasions such as in Warsaw, where they remained on duty to control the 50,000 Jews still alive in the ghetto after the liquidation in the summer of 1942.

This is only part of the story. In Poland, complicity and heroism coexist. An important aspect of history that must not be forgotten or minimized is the sacrifice of the Polish Underground State. The organization, which came to the rescue of Polish Jewry, operated from 1939 to 1945 and was subordinated to the Polish government-in-exile.

The Council to Aid Jews codenamed “Zegota,” a unique organization one on a global scale, provided structural and monetary assistance to Jews hiding among the Polish population and those living in ghettos, saving the lives of tens of thousands. Thousands of other Poles sheltered Jews despite the fact they and their entire families faced execution by the Nazis, if they had been caught.

But the selfless act of humanity by a selective group of Poles cannot whitewash the more sinister chapters of Polish history. In Poland, and many other parts of Eastern Europe, historical revisionism is far from a new phenomenon.

The widespread hostility that Jews faced did not die with the defeat of the Nazis. After the closure of World War II, Jewish survivors that returned home were confronted with an anti-Semitism that was terrible in its fury and brutality.

The new communist government in Poland made no mention of the crimes committed against Jews by the Nazis. They, too, were Antisemites. In July 1946, a pogrom occurred in the Polish town of Kielce, resulting in 42 Jews being massacred, an event that Poland’s foreign minister would recognize fifty years later as an “act of Polish anti-Semitism.”

In recent years, things have regressed again. A rise in nationalism has always been bad for the Jews.

Matters were not helped when Poland, over the last decade, lost important public intellectuals who reminded their country of the horrors of the Holocaust with first-hand accounts. Among them Marek Edelman, a Jewish leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, and Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, a leading figure in the Zegota underground organization.

The so-called “Holocaust Bill”, the new Polish law, promotes the avoidance of historical responsibility and deflects blame, in an attempt to rewrite history in the name of blind nationalism. But the Holocaust cannot be denied, avoided or played down. We are here to remember, educate and speak truth to power.

Originally published: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/commentary/fl-op-viewpoint-poland-holocaust-history-20180302-story.html

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‘Operation Olive Branch,’ A Turkish Invasion of Kurdistan

On January 19, the Russians proposed an ultimatum to the Kurds: Allow Assad to have full authority over Afrin, Syria, or face a Turkish invasion. The Kurds of Afrin naturally rejected the offer, prompting the Russians to withdraw their troops from the enclave. The Turks invaded the very next day.

The dilemma Kurds faced could not be swallowed by the people of Afrin. For Assad to regain additional territory over Syria was not an option, and certainly a foreign entity to rule over historical lands was an unquestionable threat. Kurds feel betrayed by Russia but expect the U.S. to take a more responsible position. Kurdish official Keno Gabriel stated, “Therefore, we hold Russia as responsible as Turkey and stress that Russia is the crime partner of Turkey in massacring the civilians in the region.”

Into the second month, the fighting has been unrelenting. The second largest NATO ally, Turkey, aligned with the so-called Free Syrian Army and Al Qaeda-affiliate groups with the permission of the Russians, are fighting the very same Kurds who battled the Islamic State.

Afrin is home to some 1.2 million people, nearly 500,000 of those are internally displaced peoples and refugees who fled from both the Assad regime and ISIS. The United Nations reported an additional 15,000 people have been displaced with over 180 civilians killed and 310 injured. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed that “Operation Olive Branch,” the Turkish name of the invasion, will be “complete in a very short time.”

Due to the unexpected length of the operation, the strategy shifted from penetrating deep into Afrin canton within days to establishing a security belt surrounding Turkey’s border. Turkey is now expected to conduct urban warfare, moving towards the city of Afrin.

The role of the U.S.

The Trump administration finds itself in a very difficult position, especially when it comes to Afrin. Although the Kurds are US allies in Syria, organized under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), there is no U.S. stake in Afrin. Afrin is situated in northwest Syria, while the U.S. is positioned east of the Euphrates river.

Prior to the invasion, Afrin was controlled by the Kurds as it is today, but the airspace is controlled by the Russians and had Russian troops on the ground, which later withdrew. Perhaps the mistake of the Kurds was to not invite some sort of U.S. presence into Afrin earlier.

What sparked the invasion in Afrin was Washington’s call to set up a 30,000 border force with the YPG inside Syria. The Turks deliberately attacked Afrin due to the zero possibility of U.S. confrontation, Afrin was known as a weak territory of all the Kurdish regions in Syria.

The U.S. response has largely ignored Erdogan’s harsh rhetoric by continuing to back the Kurds east of the Euphrates under the SDF. However, Erdogan vows to “strangle” the Kurds regardless of U.S. support.

Erdogan has also threatened to continue his operation beyond Afrin and deep into Syrian territory, specifically Manbij. A region with heavy U.S. personnel and outposts, Manbij is strategic to United States’ long-term goal in Syria. General Joseph Votel, commander of the United States Central Command stated that “withdrawing U.S. forces from Manbij is not something we are looking into,” further angering Erdogan.

Russia’s Role

Russia has aimed to create a rift between NATO, Turkey and the US, a successful strategy so far. Russia only profited from the Afrin attacks by further strengthening its leverage over Erdogan.

Russian president Vladimir Putin’s long-term goal is to manipulate Erdogan into shifting towards the East without fully taking responsibility for his actions, and Erdogan has taken the bate.

Russia, after allowing the Turks to invade Afrin, has now allowed Syria regime forces to support the Kurds. This strategy may be an attempt to force Erdogan and Assad to mend ties, further legitimizing the Syrian regime. The biggest losers of Russia’s scheme are the Kurds. Once again, the Kurds are bullied around by more powerful state actors.

Erdogan’s goal

Erdogan’s ultimate goal in Afrin is to push back any Kurdish presence, despite the enclave being predominately Kurdish. A Kurdish-led government near Turkey’s border is viewed as a threat according to Turkey.

Erdogan’s fundamental fear of a successful Kurdish government in Syria is a spill over demand for greater self-rule in southeast Turkey, home to over 15 million Kurds. But there are a number of troublesome outcomes to this Turkish provoked war, such as prolonging the Syrian civil war, derailing a peace solution, giving rise to new Islamic State like groups while creating an uncontrollable humanitarian crisis.

Additionally, Afrin may be a launching point for a Syrian-Turkish conflict backed by Iran.

The Kurds worry that the continued silence on the part of the United States will result in an ethnic cleansing of their lands. Erdogan has promised to replace Kurds with either Turkman’s or Arab Syrian refugees from inside Turkey similar to when he threatened to flood the gates of Europe with migrants.

If the U.S. continues to allow Russia to have its way in Syria, it will undermine its own policy and will force the Kurds to rely on the Assad regime. The U.S. cannot afford to betray their partners in Syria, a sentiment all too familiar with the Kurds.

Originally published at: http://thenationaldiscourse.com/operation-olive-branch-turkish-invasion-kurdistan-1777/

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A New Era for the US-Israel Relationship?

Since the historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital by President Trump on December 6, 2017, and the president’s pledge to relocate the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, many have suggested that the Israel-U.S. relationship has entered a new era.

Trump expressed his feelings about the renewed relationship between the two countries during a recent interview with Israel Hayom.  In response to the question, “Would you say that our nations are closer than ever before?,” the president stated, “I think they are probably as good as they have ever been.”

Since the beginning of his term, Trump and his administration have demonstrated their unwavering support for our one democratic ally in the Middle East. The administration withheld $65 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) due to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) refusal to engage in peace talks; condemned the PA’s “pay for slay” program, which financially rewards terrorists and families of terrorists held in Israeli prison; and withdrew from the United Nations’ Cultural and Educational Agency (UNESCO), due to its anti-Israel biases. And recent reports claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has had unprecedented discussions with the U.S. about Israel annexing Judea and Samaria – the West Bank – although the U.S. subsequently denied having these discussions.

In reference to such claims, Sarah Stern, the founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), said, “After a quarter of a century of pretending that they will one day make peace, while the Palestinian Authority continues to incite their people towards terrorism and Jihad, we think it’s a very important move by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to start talking about the legality of the settlement movement with the White House.”

This administration has taken commendable actions long overdue by the United States, and the president recognizes what many of his predecessors did not – the Palestinian leadership simply does not want peace. The P.A. continues to incite its people to violence, glorify and reward terrorism; demonize Jews and Israel; and refuses to recognize the State of Israel. The Palestinian leadership has been offered generous peace deals numerous times, including in 2000, 2005, and 2008, and rejected each one, instead responding with terror attacks against innocent civilians.

P.A. president Mahmoud Abbas recently stated that the Palestinians would not accept the U.S. as a broker for peace negotiations, calling the U.S. a “dishonest mediator.” Abbas, in response to the president’s Jerusalem announcement, said, “Jerusalem is and will forever be the capital of the Palestinian state,” and added that the P.A. will not recognize any previous agreements it made between the U.S. and Israel since the 1990s Oslo Accords.

Now that Israel is preparing its air defense in the North, following what some call a war which began on Saturday between Israel and Iran, it is critical that the U.S. stand by its ally. Iran infiltrated Israeli air space with a drone, which was then intercepted by Israel, in what was Iran’s first direct military operation against the Jewish State. Israel rightly retaliated Iran’s violation of its sovereignty with strikes against Iranian drone installations in Syria. One Israeli F-16 was abandoned by its pilots over Israel, following “massive Syrian anti-air fire,” according to reports.

Following the incident, Israel was met with overwhelming support by the United States. “Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian-backed Syrian and militia forces in southern Syria,” the White House said.

Pentagon spokesman said, “Israel is our closest security partner in the region and we fully support Israel’s inherent right to defend itself against threats to its territory and its people.”

The administration’s record of support for Israel, in words, and more importantly, in actions, is a far cry from the Obama administration’s continuous disrespect towards the Jewish State and Netanyahu for eight years.

The events of the weekend are a reminder to the world that Israel is willing to do whatever it needs to defend its sovereignty. And thankfully, this time around, there is someone sitting in the Oval Office that is willing to stand by her during her time of need.

Originally Published: http://thenationaldiscourse.com/new-era-us-israel-relationship-1568/

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Stand Up to Erdogan, Protect Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Syria

Turkey’s latest incursion into the Kurdish- held territory of Afrin, located in northwest Syria, is yet another provocative and illegal act by the fascist Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Afrin has historically been a predominately Kurdish region. Afrin survived the brutal Assad regime, al-Qaida affiliate groups and Islamic State (ISIS), and now Erdogan has opened a new offensive against the indigenous people in this small region.

Afrin has sheltered nearly 400,000 internally displaced peoples (IDPs) who have fled both Assad and ISIS in Adlib, Aleppo and surrounding areas. In addition to the IDPs, Afrin is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious enclave, unlike anywhere else in Syria.

Kurdish forces have valiantly defended the world against ISIS, all while Erdogan’s troops silently watched from a hilltop on the Turkish- Syrian border. It was Erdogan who aided ISIS, after realizing it was failing to defeat the Kurds. Erdogan took it upon himself to finally “bury” and “strangle” the Kurds.

“Operation Olive Branch,” the name given to Erdogan’s invasion of Afrin, only prolongs the Syrian civil war. This benefits jihadists and Islamic regimes like Iran and Turkey, all while disturbing civilians and those truly aiming for peace.

The Kurdish force, the Peoples Protection Units (YPG), has successfully thwarted any attempts at infiltration into the region since the civil war began. Isolated from the rest of the Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Syria, Afrin is surrounded by the Turkish military, Free Syria Army (FSA), Assad forces and a handful of terrorist organizations prepared to shake the stability of the small enclave.

Erdogan’s aim is clear: to remove Kurds from their historical lands and replace them with Turkmans. If that doesn’t work, his next step is to flood the area with Arab Syrian refugees from inside Turkey. Publicly calling for ethnic cleansing against a peaceful people seems to be the new norm for American’s NATO ally.

Just as the international community failed to protect Jews persecuted under Adolf Hitler’s brutal Nazi regime, the world is once again turning a blind eye, this time to Islamo- fascist aggression against the Kurdish nation.

The muddled US response has emboldened Erdogan’s harsh rhetoric, paving the way for continuous hostility. The Kurds look to the West, especially the US, to use its leverage with its hostile NATO partner. The Kurds in Afrin have never provoked or threatened Turks or Turkish territory, yet it is the Kurds that are being labeled “terrorists” by the Erdogan regime.

If the Kurds in Afrin truly are terrorists, would they have protected Yazidi minority persecuted by ISIS in Iraq? Would terrorists have protected Christians in the Middle East, whose numbers have dramatically decreased?

The Kurds have even taken upon themselves to defend religious minorities fearing jihadist backlash. Christian Syrian officials who have aligned with the Kurds in Afrin have stated that many Muslims have converted to Christianity inside the Kurdish regions and have not suffered any repercussions from the Kurds.

This pluralistic ideal is how the Kurds wish to govern their territories. They do not wish to enforce an Islamic-like system of government which threatens the existence of a diverse Middle East.

It is long overdue that the world finally stand up to Erdogan, protect ethnic and religious minorities in Syria, and keep the promise made to the Kurds, who have courageously fought ISIS.

Having been betrayed on many occasions throughout history by the West, the Kurds have a saying: “no friends but the mountains.”

Kurds are more than just great fighters; they desire peace and yearn for democracy in a stable, secure region with neighbors who share the same values. Unfortunately, Erdogan is the Kurds’ neighbor, and he will not rest until they are eradicated from their historical lands.

Originally published at: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Stand-up-to-Erdogan-protect-ethnic-and-religious-minorities-in-Syria-542974
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The Reasons Why America Needs to Stop Supporting UNRWA

Photo Credit: U.N. Photo/Shareef Sarhan.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley made headlines on Jan. 2 by saying that President Donald Trump has decided to stop funding UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency, until the Palestinians agree to come to the negotiating table. On Jan. 16, the president—on the advice of U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—agreed to transfer $60 million for now, as opposed to slashing all of the funding overnight. But the other $65 million of this usual installment has been held in reserve. The total amount of money paid to UNRWA by American taxpayers is approximately $370 million per year.

UNRWA was established in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 to handle the Palestinian refugee problem, set up to deal with the immediate crisis resulting from the Israeli War of Independence. It has camps in Judea and Samaria, Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The other refugees from World War II were taken under the U.N. High Commission of Refugees, whose mandate calls for immediate resettlement in their host nations. The Arab League, however, rejected that for the Palestinian refugees because they wanted them to be a constant thorn in the side of the newly established Jewish state.

This is the only refugee agency in the world whose mission is not for refugees to be resettled, integrated and re-entered into the workforce of their host countries, but whose mission is to instill in the minds of their population that they will one day return to their grandfathers’—or rather, great-grandfathers’—orchards and vineyards in Haifa and elsewhere.

In the absence of a solution to the refugee problem, UNRWA continues to redefine the word “refugee” to mean anyone who is a descendant of the 1948 war. Thus, from the original 700,000 refugees, UNRWA now claims to service approximately 5 million Palestinian refugees.

This agency’s conduct, although dressed in the benevolent clothing of a welfare agency, borders on the immoral because it implants within this population an unrealistic expectation that only serves to keeps the conflict alive. Not only does it perpetuate a psychology of victimhood, it entraps those being served into a perpetual state of poverty. Rather than getting on with their lives, they are trapped into perpetually reliving a conflict that happened 70 years ago.

A study of the new UNRWA textbooks, recently published by the Center for Near East Policy Research, found that for decades now, UNRWA has used textbooks that delegitimize and demonize the state of Israel and the presence of Jews there, and advocate for violent struggle as opposed to peaceful coexistence with the Jewish state.

In fact, inside UNRWA schools are pictures of Israel depicted as “Palestine,” posters praising the “brave shahids” (martyrs) who have killed civilians and an educational curriculum consisting of constant brainwashing for a violent jihad to despise and even murder Jews, and to liberate all of “Palestine.”

Pageants involve children as young as 4 years old, dressed in military garb, with rifles in hand. These children are being systematically programed to die for “Al Quds” (Arabic for Jerusalem) or any other part of “Palestine.” They are brainwashing an army of jihadists who keenly await the first opportunity to kill innocent civilians.

This is the worst sort of child abuse and exploitation imaginable. They are condemning these children—and any unfortunate civilian who might cross their paths—an early grave.

This comes in total conflict with the U.N. General Assembly Resolution 54/263’s own “Convention on the Rights of the Child: Optional Protocol on the Prohibition of Children in Armed Conflict,” barring the use of children under the age of 15 in combat.

Yet when it comes to this egregious practice, the United Nations chooses to look the other way.

This directly conflicts with an institution whose very charter speaks about practicing tolerance and living together with one another as good neighbors; reaffirming faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of every human person, and of all nations, great and small; establishing conditions for justice and respect for international treaties; and employing international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples.

How these UNRWA camps and their hate-infested educational system can be an agency of the United Nations, with its lofty founding principles, continues to baffle me.

Given the deeply entrenched institutional biases of the United Nations against Israel, we can expect that UNRWA will soon find other donors. But that doesn’t mean that the United States, which had by far been the largest donor nation, has to continuously foot the bill.

The American taxpayer has other priorities than continuing to fund this corrupt and hypocritical agency.

Originally published at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/the-reasons-why-america-needs-to-stop-supporting-unrwa/

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Turkey is Coming for the Kurds

Photo by: SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images

“Operation Olive Branch” is an ironic name for the aggressive military campaign carried out by Turkey against the Kurds in Afrin, Syria.

Situated in northwest Syria, Afrin has survived both the Syrian civil war and attacks from the Islamic State (IS); but when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vows to remove the “terrorists” from the region, he is referring to the Kurds — the same Kurds who have heroically fought IS and who have been allies with the U.S. in Syria; the same Kurds who have protected ethnic and religious minorities inside the war-torn country.

Afrin is home to nearly 400,000 internally displaced peoples (IDPs) who have fled the nearby provinces of Idlib and Aleppo to escape from both the Assad regime and from IS. The air and ground invasion by Turkey has also created 5,000 new IDPs since the advance began on the Jan. 20.

Erdogan has had his sights set on Afrin for quite some time, due to it being an isolated region separate from the rest of the Kurdish-held territories, and due to the lack of an American presence. Afrin is surrounded not only by Turkey, but also by the so-called Free Syrian Army, Al Qaeda affiliate terrorist groups, and the Syrian regime. Erdogan wishes to ethnically cleanse the safe enclave and either replace them with Turks or flood the territory with Arab Syrian refugees from inside Turkey. Furthermore, Erdogan has vowed to advance beyond Afrin into Kurdish-held regions east of the Euphrates River where there are American forces positioned. If Erdogan follows through on his promise, this could harm U.S. soldiers and jeopardize his ties with the U.S., and also be an act of war against a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partner.

To make matters worse, the outcome of Turkey’s aggression into Syria will give birth to new Islamic State-like groups, extending the almost seven-year-long civil war and ending any possible peace solution available to the war-torn country.

Instead of calling for an end to the ongoing Turkish aggression into Afrin, the international community has turned a blind eye. Seeing and capitalizing on this display of weakness, Erdogan has bolstered his position by threatening anyone who gets in his way, including American and European powers.

The Kurds have vowed to resist Erdogan’s destructive campaign, but are at a disadvantage due to Turkey’s air power. The Kurdish forces fighting under the People’s Protection Units (YPG) also have limited resources and light ammunition, while the Turks have unlimited means and heavy weaponry including German-made Leopard tanks. Kurds are known to be great fighters, but it is hard to determine how much longer they can hold off Turkish aggression, which has failed to penetrate deep into Afrin so far.

Erdogan’s aim is to destabilize a prosperous and stable Kurdish region. Despite the beating war drums surrounding Afrin, the Kurds have been able to put forth an inclusive and pluralistic safe haven in which both men and women are represented, ethnic and religious minorities are given a voice, and two successful rounds of elections have been implemented.

The Kurds are not asking their partners, including the U.S., to put soldiers’ lives on the line, nor are they asking for money or weaponry. The Kurds of Afrin are simply asking for an end to the unprovoked Turkish offensive into a historically Kurdish territory. Responding too late will give the world yet another humanitarian crisis it cannot afford.

Originally published at: http://www.kolhabirah.com/index.php/israel-global/op-ed/1176-turkey-is-coming-for-the-kurds

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Congress Works to Curb Anti-American and Anti-Israel Bias on US Campuses

At the end of 2017, a monumental piece of legislation to curb anti-American and anti-Israel biases on college campuses was passed by the House Committee on Education and Workforce. The Higher Education Act (HEA) — last reauthorized in 2008, and now renamed the “PROSPER Act” — is the primary federal law governing higher education. Within the law is a statute called Title VI, which includes a section that provides grants for international and foreign language studies.

Unfortunately, for many decades, some of these grants have supported a number of professors and programs on university campuses that espouse anti-American, anti-Israel — and at times — antisemitic viewpoints, in violation of federal law. The new language within Title VI of the PROSPER Act, included by the House committee, seeks to remedy these biases.

On January 25, a group of 14 Jewish, educational and civil rights organizations sent a letter to Chairman Lamar Alexander (R, TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D, WA) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, urging the committee to adopt the new Title VI language that is included within the PROSPER Act.

The original intent of Title VI of HEA was to prepare students to serve the national security needs of the United States, by funding foreign language and area studies programs at universities. These area studies programs, known as National Resource Centers (NRCs), receive millions of US taxpayer dollars each year. However, research shows that these funds are largely misused and abused by their recipients.

Title VI-funded NRCs — currently located at 100 institutions of higher education across the US — are replete with anti-American and anti-Israel biases. Specifically, many Middle East NRCs at prestigious institutions including Columbia University, Georgetown University, Princeton University and Yale University, among others, are teeming with Title VI-supported faculty and programs that advance the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel; whitewash terrorism; and create a false narrative of US foreign policy towards the Middle East.

Also, problematically, under Title VI, NRCs are required to extend their activities by creating programs of “public outreach,” including workshops where K-12 teachers are trained. Many of these workshops, and their lesson plans on the Middle East, are heavily influenced by Saudi money. Some of the training materials have included essays of Islamist radicals who advocate for terrorism, and textbooks painting Israel and the West as colonial powers. As a result, Title VI-funded Middle East studies biases are trickling down to our most vulnerable youth.

In 2008, the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-America and pro-Israel think tank, prompted Congress to amend Title VI to require the need for “diverse perspectives and a wide range of views” within the programs. But despite the new amendment, the US Department of Education, which provides these grants to the universities, as well as the recipients of the grants themselves, have largely ignored their statutory requirements to provide “diverse perspectives.”

In part due to EMET’s educational efforts on the Hill, changes were finally made to attempt to remedy Title VI within the PROSPER Act. The new language creates accountability for universities and Title VI-funded programs — including the NRCs — that fail to comply with the “diverse perspectives” requirement, including the possibility of losing funding. EMET’s work also prompted an amendment within Title VI which states that any Title VI-funded program “shall not promote any biased views that are discriminatory toward any group, religion, or population of people.”

The job is not done, however. The PROSPER Act still needs to be voted on by the entire House, and a companion bill will need to be introduced and passed in the Senate for the president to sign. But once this happens, we might finally see an end to the biased, anti-American and anti-Israel rhetoric espoused by Title VI-funded faculty, centers and programs. And this, in turn, might result in a less hostile learning environment for pro-American and pro-Israel students on college campuses throughout the US. All of this would be a tremendous victory for American college students.

Originally published at: https://www.algemeiner.com/2018/02/01/congress-works-to-curb-anti-american-and-anti-israel-bias-on-us-campuses/

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Trump Right to Declare That Iran Deal Not Untouchable

Photo Credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Recently, President Trump again waived key sanctions on Iran, keeping to the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA).

In his statement on his decision, Trump vowed that, “Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. I will not do so again. This is a last chance.”

I hope this happens. As I have argued before, not only is the JCPOA itself not in the national interests of the United States, but, keeping to it despite Iranian cheating and aggression makes the U.S. look weak throughout the world stage. And this weakness invites more belligerence from enemy nations.

But until another four months pass, we have no idea what the president will do.

However, I can say with complete confidence that nothing that happens over the next four months will prompt the former Obama administration foreign policy experts, and “the blob” they fooled, especially the European elites, to reconsider their support for the Iran deal. We know this because of the past two years since the deal was implemented. Time after time, the Iranian regime had violated the JCPOA, or acted in an extremely dangerous and aggressive manner in the Middle East, only to have the foreign policy establishment rush to the barricades to caution against any move that would punish Iran by nixing the JCPOA.

The 2017-2018 demonstrations against the Iranian regime are just the most recent example. Iranian civilians took to the streets, originally to protest their lack of demonstrable economic benefits coming from the JCPOA, but eventually objecting to the brutal Islamist theocracy that governed them as well. So far, at least 25 Iranians are dead; thousands more have been arrested, and hundreds of them may be experiencing torture in the notorious Evin prison.

None of this seems to have prompted any reevaluation of the Iran deal by the foreign policy elites in any nation: “Reviving sanctions on Iran’s main export would allow Tehran to argue that the United States is ultimately the cause of Iran’s economic problems, said Richard Nephew, who worked on sanctions policy at the White House under President Barack Obama,” Reuters reported.

Of course, open Iranian violations of the JCPOA also were excused away. At least twice, the Iranian regime was caught producing excess heavy water at Arak. This breech of the agreement was simply “solved” by allowing Iran to sell this excess heavy water for extra cash currency, which undoubtedly helps to fund more Iranian aggression throughout the Middle East by the IRGC or terror proxies.

So too, it was excused when Iran refused to allow international inspectors to inspect Iranian military sites, despite language to the contrary in the deal. Obviously, the likeliest place for any illegal Iranian nuclear testing to be occurring would be in a military site. But we will never know, since rather than demand access, the international inspectors simply chose not to ask for entry to those facilities.

When it was discovered that Iran is likely violating Section T of the Iran deal, which explicitly bans Iran from “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” this too was pushed under the rug; even though these violations are directly related to nuclear weapons development. For example, Iran is likely using computer models to simulate a nuclear bomb, and/or designing multi-point, explosive detonation systems.

When Iran was caught sending missiles and weapons to fighters in Syria and Yemen, and some of the missiles sent to Yemen were fired at U.S. ships, in what was possibly an act of war, and clearly a violation of UN Resolution 2231 — which bans Iran from shipping weapons throughout the Middle East — the Iranians were once again given a pass. This was done despite the fact that UN resolution 2231 incorporates the Iran deal.

When Iran uses is monies from the JCPOA, including the sanctions relief that is still given to them each month, for nefarious purposes, this is immaterial to deal defenders. Some of this is being used to fund the Iranian controlled Shia militias in Iraq, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, which “dominate” Iraq, and whose membership includes terrorists with American blood on their hands.

When Iran went all in to protect its client regime, the vicious Assad government in Syria, to the tune of an estimated $15 billion a year, and waged an ethnic cleansing campaign against Sunni Arabs in Syria, once again funding all of this thanks to the JCPOA, this too was ignored by the elite.

Perhaps most prominently, when the Iranians threatened American Naval ships in the Persian Gulf, and even physically grabbed American sailors, who were intimidated and made to “apologize” to their captors — which the Navy deemed a violation of international law — this was also no big deal. The incident was quickly forgotten, even after Iran bragged that it (illegallyextracted information from the sailors’ confiscated phones and laptops, and made and took humiliating films and pictures of the prisoners.

As we can see, to the foreign policy establishment, the Iran deal is untouchable, no matter what Iran does. And when the facts don’t matter in evaluating a foreign agreement, this means that its proponents believe in it as an article of faith. Faith is most appropriate in shaping one’s religious views; it is not so appropriate when it determines one’s foreign policies.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/iran-trump-jcpoa-nuclear/2018/01/31/id/840588/#ixzz56FTdmLcF

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Remembering Who Our Friends Are

In what has ironically been designated “Operation Olive Branch,” Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been trying to put the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin into a stranglehold. Turkey is now in its second week of bombardment over Afrin from the air and heavy tanks are now carrying out a ground offensive into the Kurdish region.

Erdogan is a brute and a thug, who has made a habit of trampling on the human rights of his own people. He used the failed military coup of July, 2016 to arbitrarily arrest and imprison anyone whom he considers to be his opposition, including dissidents, parliamentarians, journalists, and academicians. Many have been languishing in prison since the failed military coup, without right of habeas corpus, and in 2017, Erdogan further strengthened his ironclad grip on the country of Turkey by winning a referendum, so there is no longer a free and independent judiciary or a free and independent legislative branch. A former member of the opposition party in the Turkish Parliament recently told me, “Every Saturday night, my friends and colleagues gather to read the newspaper to see if they are on the list of people to be purged in the coming week.”

The late Soviet dissident, Andre Sakharov, once said, “One can always tell a nation’s foreign policy by the way they treat their internal dissident population.”

Erdogan is sensing that America is in a period of withdrawal and isolation, and his eyes are set in taking over the Afrin region of Syria. But it will not end there.

Erdogan has threatened to go into Manbij, which is an American outpost, and he is just reckless enough to try to take out American lives.

Bullies like Erdogan carefully take America’s temperature, and measure whether or not we have an appetite for further engagement. In periods such as now, when America is exhausted and war weary after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, all the world’s bullies and moral cockroaches come out of the woodwork.

Syria is the perfect battleground for many of those moral cockroaches. The Iranians want to create an uninterrupted land-bridge from Tehran through Bagdad stretching through to Beirut, and a Kurdish region would be an obstruction the road. Erdogan is pounding his chest with war chants, of course Putin, seeing a wide-open playing field, is trying to flex his muscles there, as well.

Syrian Kurds fought valiantly for us against ISIS, and they have never asked anyone to shed a drop of blood for them.

In Iraq, Kurdish forces fought alongside U.S. forces in Kirkuk, and then when America withdrew, where they allowed the Shiite Militia to control the area, and Kurdish flags are being torn down. They have been subjugated to Dhimmi laws and treated like second-class citizens there.

The Syrian Kurds therefore do have every right to remain skeptical of America’s friendship.

Russia controlled the airspace over Afrin, and Putin has given the green light to Erdogan to control the skies there. As I write this, Erdogan is battling to take over a strategic hill, and the Kurdish forces are courageously holding their own, but their losses are great.

How much longer can the Afrini Kurds hold out before being overrun when they are being attacked by tanks on the ground and bombarded from the skies? Some policy experts have told me that they might be able to hold out for only a week to 10 days.

If Afrin falls to Erdogan it would be tragic. This Kurdish region has offered a safe have to over 400,000 internally displaced persons from the brutal Syrian civil war that has been raging since 2011. These include Sunni Arabs, Assyrian Christians, Yazidis, Armenians, and Kurds from Iblib, and Aleppo and other parts of Syria who have fled to the north.

Earlier this week, all five members of one Sunni Arab family were killed. They now estimate the fatality rate to be around 100 civilians.

What is so refreshing about the Kurds is, with the sole exception of the state of Israel, this is the only region of the Middle East that offers a democratic, pluralistic paradigm for the troubled Middle East. People have actually converted to Christianity there. (Could you imagine what would happen to these people if ISIS were able to get a hold of them?)

Turkey, being a member of NATO, has a powerful military is presenting a formidable force for the Afrini Kurds. However, NATO was created to protect small countries against Russia in the days of the former Soviet Union.

Iran sees theses valiant Kurdish enclaves as obstacles to their hegemonic designs.

It is critically important that we develop some mechanism to dismiss countries from NATO when they have crossed red lines, and Turkey is the paramount example.

In the meantime, we need to send critically needed support to our friends in Afrin, or we will be empowering Erdogan and his Muslim Brotherhood friends, Russia’s Putin, and the mullahs of Iran.

I would like to believe that America is the moral compass of the world. That America is, in the words of John Winthrop “That shining city on the Hill.”

But it begins by remembering who our friends are.

Originally published at: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/02/remembering_who_our_friends_are.html

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The Kurdish Fight is Humanity’s Fight

Photo Credit: Reuters/Goran Tomasevic

In 1939, when the Nazis rolled into Poland, my aunt, whose name I carry, was forced to strip naked and dig a hole, into which she and the other members of her village were summarily mowed down.

Many in the Western world turned a deaf ear to the cries of my aunt, as well as to those of six million other Jews.

America was exhausted and war weary after having fought World War I, in which approximately 30 million people had been killed, and was in a period of profound isolationism and retreat.

There emerged a charismatic, young, impassioned leader who appealed to his people, stunned by their crushing defeat in WWI, with fiery speeches of reclaiming the pride of the Fatherland.

America heard Hitler’s speeches, and knew they were laced with antisemitism. But Germany was so far away, and the enemy that had been scapegoated was a strange people, with different customs, mere Jews.

This picture is not too dissimilar from what is happening today in northwestern Syria. Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is a tyrannical brute, who has made a frequent habit of trampling on the human rights of his own people, with total impunity. Since the failed coup of July 2016, Erdogan continues to conduct arbitrary arrests and purges of academicians, politicians and journalists. Anyone slightly threatening to him is held in prison on trumped-up charges.

As Hitler saw the world’s retreat after WWI as an opportunity to fill the vacuum and flex his muscles on the world stage, Erdogan, together with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and the mullahs of Iran, sees America’s retreat from the Middle East and is swooping in to fill the void.

America, once again, after fighting the exhausting wars in Iraq where we suffered 4,486 fatalities, and Afghanistan, where we suffered 2,345, is once again in a period of profound isolationism and retreat.

As Hitler scapegoated the Jews to rally people behind him, today Erdogan is scapegoating the Kurds, making no distinction between his own internal separatist Kurdish movement, the PKK, and the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish movement.

This weekend, Erdogan gave a heated speech in Kilis, which is on the Turkish-Syrian border, vowing to drive out the Syrian Kurds from their ancestral homeland, and threatening to go into the US-backed Kurdish region east of the Euphrates, starting with the Kurdish-held town of Manbij, to which the crowd passionately chanted, “Hit. Hit. Let it reverberate and let Trump hear.”

Syria’s Kurds have done much of our own dirty work while they courageously fought to eradicate Islamic State (ISIS). They have never asked anyone else to shed a drop of blood in their defense. The region of Afrin has been a safe haven for approximately 400,000 internally displaced Syrians, who are Kurds, Sunni Arabs, Assyrians, Yazidis and others.

In the past week Turkey has been trying to create a stranglehold on the Kurdish region of Afrin in northwestern Syria. Afrin is in a particularly difficult place because it is an isolated Kurdish enclave, separate from where the bulk of US-backed Kurdish forces are.

Russia controls everything west of the Euphrates River, and Russia, which controls the airspace, has given Erdogan the green light to attack Afrin from the air. As I write this, Turkish tanks are penetrating the region, and there are at least 100 Kurds murdered.

WHEN I look at the Kurds, I see the history of the Jewish people before the State of Israel. I see the Kurdish people of Afrin as the Jews of Eastern Europe, or as the first settlers in pre-state Israel, who also valiantly defended their land.

I would like to believe that we, in the West, have an obligation to remember who our friends are and have been, and to protect and defend them from moral atrocities such as these.

I would like to believe that the United States can once again assume the mantle of the moral leader of the world; that we can become what president Ronald Reagan once called “the shining city on the hill” that all nations aspire to model themselves after. I would like to believe that the United States, which summoned up the courage to fight the two great evils of the 20th century, Nazism and Communism, can once again summon up the courage, the strength and the will to fight the great evils that are confronting humanity today. The reality is that, whether or not we want to acknowledge it, a new axis of evil has emerged between Turkey, Iran and Russia.

And the reality is also that irrespective of whether or not we are in the mood to acknowledge it, there are brutal tyrants in the world, who are poised to attack our allies when they see that America is exhausted.

No one spoke up for my Aunt Sarah when the Nazis invaded Poland. And that is why I must speak out today while Erdogan is launching this ruthless offensive on the Kurdish region of Afrin. Just as the West harbors a black chapter in our history for looking away from the cries of my aunt, our history will forever be blackened if we now choose to look away from the cries of the Kurds in Afrin. The Kurdish fight is a fight to preserve our humanity.

Originally published at: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/The-Kurdish-fight-is-humanitys-fight-540261

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