Thursday, November 15, 2018

Jewish Home ultimatum: Bennett as Defense Minister - or we bolt - Hezki Baruch

by Hezki Baruch

Party officials tell Arutz Sheva Jewish Home will remain in coalition only if Bennett tapped to replace Liberman as Defense Minister.

Jewish Home
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

With Avigdor Liberman’s sudden departure from the Defense Ministry and the Netanyahu government, the Jewish Home is looking to secure party chief Naftali Bennett as Liberman’s successor.

Senior officials in the Jewish Home party told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday following Liberman’s announcement regarding his planned resignation that the faction will also leave the coalition if Bennett is not tapped to replace Liberman in the Defense Ministry.

On Wednesday morning, Liberman called a press conference following a special meeting of Yisrael Beytenu party members, fueling speculation he was preparing to quit as Defense Minister.

Liberman later confirmed that he was indeed planning to tender his resignation, and called for early elections.

"I'm here to announce my resignation as Defense Minister for the State of Israel,” Liberman told reporters at a press conference.

Even before Liberman formally announced his plans, however, leaders of the Jewish Home faction began lobbying to secure party chief Naftali Bennett’s place as Liberman’s successor at the Defense Ministry.

Bennett currently serves as Education Minister and Minister for Diaspora Affairs.

Jewish Home officials said Wednesday that despite warnings that Liberman’s resignation would likely spell the end of the current government and the 20th Knesset, a narrow coalition could be kept in place into 2019.

The Netanyahu government currently holds a 66-seat majority in the 120 member Knesset. With Yisrael Beytenu’s departure, that majority will be reduced to just 61 seats.

If the Jewish Home does not receive the Defense Ministry portfolio, however, lawmakers say the party could join Yisrael Beytenu in pushing for new elections.

“Now is the time to demand the Defense Ministry portfolio be given to Naftali Bennett and the Jewish Home,” tweeted MK Shuli Muallem.

“Without the Defense portfolio, the Jewish Home won’t remain a partner in the government.”

Hezki Baruch


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Failure to bolster deterrence may take heavy toll - Yoav Limor

by Yoav Limor

The desire to avoid another war is ‎legitimate, but it is also dangerous considering the ‎prolonged erosion in Israeli deterrence.

The Israeli public learned of the Egyptian-brokered ‎cease-fire in this round of ‎violence in Gaza – the worst since Operation ‎Protective Edge in 2014 – from Qatari news network ‎Al Jazeera. No Israeli official saw fit to announce ‎the truce or provide any details of what it ‎entails. ‎

The government's decision to avoid war is ‎‎legitimate, even if much of the public ‎believes it is wrong. There are enough ‎reasons not to be dragged into a large ‎military operation, including the fear of prolonged ‎entanglement that would result in many casualties and ‎extensive destruction, the desire not to ‎divert strategic attention from the northern sector, ‎and, of course, the knowledge that the "day after" ‎would look exactly the same, if not worse. ‎

The government should have explained all of this to ‎the public. Its failure to do so only intensified ‎the sense of public frustration and confusion, not ‎to mention the feeling that Hamas has emerged ‎victorious. If anything, everyone, especially ‎residents in communities near the Gaza border, believes ‎the next round of violence is only a matter of time.‎

The situation on the ground is more complex. Hamas ‎suffered more blows than it dealt and lost many ‎substantial assets, and while its senior leaders ‎escaped with their lives, it was only because of an ‎Israeli decision that stemmed from the belief that ‎targeting their hideouts would place many innocent ‎Palestinian civilians in harm's way.‎

But the terrorist group was not devoid of ‎achievements, most prominently the relatively high ‎number of projectiles the Iron Dome defense system ‎failed to intercept. ‎

Nearly 500 rockets and mortar shells were fired from ‎Gaza between Monday and Tuesday: 100 were ‎intercepted, over 200 landed in open areas and ‎‎30 hit urban areas in Israel, mainly in Ashkelon and ‎Sderot, while the rest landed in Gaza. This indicates that there are issues with ‎the defense Iron Dome offers and these issues must ‎be addressed immediately. ‎

The successful missile fire on an army bus near ‎Kibbutz Kfar Aza was also a substantial achievement ‎for Hamas. It seems Hamas intentionally sought to ‎minimize casualties, waiting until about 30 soldiers ‎disembarked the bus before firing on it. In the ‎words of a senior defense official, the entire ‎incident was a "disgrace," as the bus had no ‎businesses being in a restricted military area. ‎

The flare-up has seen the IDF successfully foil ‎Hamas "surprises," including the use of drones, but ‎Gaza's terrorists deliberately refrained from ‎aggressively escalating the situation, which is ‎probably why they did not use terror tunnels or ‎extend rocket fire to Ashdod and Beersheba.‎

The IDF, too, exercised restraint. All air raids ‎were preceded by warnings, to minimize casualties, ‎as past experience has proved that the higher the ‎number of casualties, the more Hamas feels obligated ‎to prolong the fighting.‎

The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire will face its first ‎test this Friday, at the weekly border protest. ‎During this week's flare-up, Israel insisted on ‎preventing Palestinians from approaching the security ‎fence in order to try to reestablish the security ‎perimeter along the border. Hamas will likely try ‎to challenge that over the weekend, and it is ‎doubtful whether Israel will press the issue, so as not ‎to trigger fresh violence.‎

The lull will also test Hamas' ‎ability to curb arson terrorism and the border ‎riots. Israel will have to refrain, ‎at least in the foreseeable future, from mounting ‎any operations in Gaza, overt or covert, and the ‎IDF will undoubtedly have to deal with a host ‎of ensuing and complex dilemmas. ‎

Down the line, the issue of the Israeli captives in ‎Gaza will have to be addressed, as well as the issue ‎of Gaza funds. Violence will surely erupt if Hamas ‎finds itself in dire need of cash again. But ‎allowing another delivery of Qatari money to Hamas ‎will paint Israel as aiding not only the civilian ‎rehabilitation of Gaza but as aiding Hamas to rebuild ‎its infrastructure. ‎

All these factors all but guarantee that the Gazan headache ‎will continue to throb for a while. In the absence of a ‎strategic solution, Israel will ‎continue to put out fires. This is a legitimate ‎policy but it is also dangerous, because it gives ‎Gaza's terrorist rulers far too much leeway. ‎

One can only hope that the decision not to change ‎this policy at this time, even at the cost of ‎undermining Israeli deterrence, will not turn out to ‎be a mistake.‎

Yoav Limor


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Massive Missile Attack on Israel after Qatar Funds Hamas - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

The assumption that if you pay terrorists millions of dollars, they will stop attacking you -- rather than using the funds to build up their forces -- has proven to be false.

Translations of this item:
  • The renewed Hamas attacks on Israel serve as a reminder that the terrorist group is not interested in a real truce. Hamas wants millions of dollars paid to its employees so that it can continue to prepare for war with Israel while not having to worry about the welfare of its people.
  • Qatar's $15 million cash grant has failed to stop Hamas from launching hundreds of rockets into Israel. On the contrary, the money has only emboldened Hamas and increased its appetite to continue its jihad to eliminate Israel. All the money in the world will not convince Hamas to abandon its ideology or soften its position toward Israel.
  • What the international mediators need to understand is that there is only one solution to the crisis in the Gaza Strip: removing Hamas from power and destroying its military capabilities. They also need to understand that there is only one language that Hamas understands: the language of force. The assumption that if you pay terrorists millions of dollars, they will stop attacking you -- rather than using the funds to build up their forces -- has proven to be false.

A bus burns near Kfar Aza, Israel, on November 12, 2018, after being hit by an anti-tank guided missile fired by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. (Image source: Hamas video screenshot)

Last week, as efforts were underway to achieve a new truce between Hamas and Israel, this author asked a legitimate and straightforward question: Can Hamas be trusted?

The conclusion was that a real truce between Israel and Hamas can be achieved only after the Palestinian jihadi terrorists are removed from power, and not rewarded for violence and threats.

Days later, Hamas itself provided proof as to why it cannot be trusted with any deal, including a truce.

Since yesterday, Hamas and its allies in the Gaza Strip have been firing hundreds of rockets into Israel. The current barrage began hours after Hamas terrorists attacked Israeli commandos inside the Gaza Strip, killing an Israeli officer and moderately wounding a soldier. In response, the Israeli army killed seven terrorists, including a top Hamas military commander -- Sheikh Nur Baraka.

The Israeli commando unit was not inside the Gaza Strip to kill or kidnap anyone. They were there as part of a routine covert operation to foil terrorist attacks by Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups. The commandos, all the same, were attacked by Hamas terrorists who did try to kill or kidnap some of them. The soldiers of the elite Israeli unit managed to return to Israel under the cover of Israeli airstrikes called in to aid their exfiltration.

What is clear is that it was Hamas, not Israel, that initiated the armed clash with the Israeli force. It was Hamas that attacked the Israeli soldiers, killed the officer, and then rushed to accuse Israel of launching a "new aggression" against the Gaza Strip. When the Israeli soldiers tried to defend themselves and killed seven terrorists with return fire, Hamas accused Israel of committing a "despicable crime" against Palestinians.

It is worth noting that the Hamas attack on the Israeli commandos came hours after a Qatari envoy left the Gaza Strip. The Qatari official, Mohammed El-Amadi, had arrived in the Gaza Strip last week carrying suitcases stuffed with $15 million in cash. The money was delivered to Hamas leaders so that they could pay salaries to thousands of their employees in the Gaza Strip. The Qatari financial grant was delivered to the Gaza Strip with Israel's approval. The Qatari envoy even entered the Gaza Strip through Israel's Erez border crossing.

Why did Israel facilitate the transfer of the Qatari cash to the Gaza Strip? Israel has been -- and still is -- trying to avoid an all-out war with Hamas.

Israel is not afraid of Hamas. Israel simply does not want the Palestinian civilians living under Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip to pay another heavy price for the foolish acts of their leaders. Israel, in fact, has repeatedly expressed a desire to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians there.

In recent years, Israel has been actively working to support reconstruction efforts in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli measures include the upgrading of the border crossings between Israel and Gaza to more than 800 truckloads of building materials and other goods to enter Gaza on a daily basis, and facilitating the passage of more than 3.4 million tons of materials into Gaza since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Earlier this year, Israel presented to the EU, US, UN, and the World Bank various projects that were approved by the Israeli government to develop infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, promote energy solutions and create employment opportunities for the Palestinians there.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended last week's deal with Qatar by saying it was aimed at preventing a "humanitarian crisis" in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu said that he would do "whatever I can" to keep Israelis living in communities adjacent to the border with Gaza safe, while at the same time working to prevent a humanitarian crisis.

Hamas took Qatar's $15 million cash grant, paid its employees, and days later has resumed its terrorist attacks against Israel.

This is Hamas's way of saying thank you to the Qataris and Israelis who have been working hard to reach a truce in the Gaza Strip and avoid another war -- one that is likely to cause more suffering to the two million Palestinians living there.

Hamas has clearly interpreted the goodwill gesture of Israel and Qatar as a sign of weakness. Hamas leaders have even gone on the record as saying that the $15 million grant was the "fruit" of the weekly violent riots that it has been organizing along the border with Israel since March. Shortly after the Qatari envoy delivered the grant to the Gaza Strip, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum used those very words: he boasted that the Palestinians were finally reaping the fruits of their violent protests along the Gaza-Israel border.

Hamas's stance is reminiscent of its reaction to the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Then, Hamas and other Palestinians also interpreted the Israeli "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip -- intended to give Gaza the chance to become a Singapore on the Mediterranean -- as a sign of Israeli weakness and retreat.

A few months later, Hamas even won the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election -- largely because it claimed that it had forced Israel to pull out of the Gaza Strip by conducting suicide bombings and rocket attacks. Hamas told Palestinians back then: vote for us because we drove the Jews out of the Gaza Strip through the armed struggle.

The renewed Hamas attacks on Israel serve as a reminder that the terrorist group is not interested in a real truce. Hamas wants millions of dollars paid to its employees so that it can continue to prepare for war with Israel while not having to worry about the welfare of its people.

Qatar's $15 million cash grant has failed to stop Hamas from launching hundreds of rockets into Israel. On the contrary, the money has only emboldened Hamas and increased its appetite to continue its jihad to eliminate Israel. All the money in the world will not convince Hamas to abandon its ideology or soften its position toward Israel.

If Hamas is in fact interested in a truce, it is not because it wants peace with Israel. Rather, it is because Hamas needs "breathing space" that will allow it to continue developing and amassing weapons, and preparing for more attacks on Israel. Anyone who puts his or her faith in Hamas tempering its objectives is living in an illusion.

Hamas has a long-standing tradition of violating ceasefires with Israel.

Even if the Egyptians, Qataris and the UN manage to end the latest attacks on Israel, Hamas will never abandon its plan to destroy Israel and kill as many Jews as possible. Hamas will continue to violate ceasefires. If Qatar fulfills its promise to send more suitcases stuffed with millions of dollars to the Gaza Strip, Hamas will continue to laugh all the way to the bank.

What the international mediators need to understand is that there is only one solution to the crisis in the Gaza Strip: removing Hamas from power and destroying its military capabilities. They also need to understand that there is only one language that Hamas understands: the language of force. Until the mediators internalize this reality, Hamas will continue to make a mockery of everyone, including its own people and those who are trying to prevent a humanitarian disaster there. The assumption that if you pay terrorists millions of dollars they will stop attacking you -- rather than using the funds to build up their forces -- has proven to be false.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.


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Gaza periphery residents protest ceasefire - Gary Willig

by Gary Willig

The residents were protesting what they called the government's inability to stop the barrage of over 460 rockets and mortars which were fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Monday and Tuesday.

southern residents protest cease-fire

Dozens of residents of the Gaza periphery protested at the entrance to Sderot against the government's ceasefire agreement with the Hamas terrorist organization Wednesday night.

The protesters burned tires and blocked Route 34 between the Shaar Hanegev junction and the Nir Am intersection. The entrance to Sderot was also blocked. Police requested that motorists find alternate routes.

Earlier today, dozens of residents of the Gaza periphery demonstrated at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, the primary entry point for goods and humanitarian aid into Gaza.

In addition, the Eshkol Region parents committee called on parents in the Gaza periphery not to send their teenage children to high school in protest.

The residents protested what they called the government's inability to stop the barrage of over 460 rockets and mortars which were fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Monday and Tuesday. One person was killed and over 50 injured during the barrage.

Yesterday, Israel accepted the ceasefire which had been declared by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned Wednesday in protest against the ceasefire agreement.

About 1,000 residents protested last night. A similar protest is expected tomorrow by the Azrieli junction in Tel Aviv.

Gary Willig


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Independent film maker Ami Horowitz documents the media lies about the caravan invasion force - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

Truly must-see TV

This truly is must-see TV. In case you missed it, last night Tucker Carlson showcased a video report by courageous independent film maker Ami Horowitz, who joined the “caravan” aimed at violating our borders en masse, and exposed the truth about it. Two acts stand out:
  1. Despite media reports featuring women and children, 90 – 95% of the people are males, most of them young and military-aged.
  2. Someone – about whom the media have no curiosity whatsoever -- is laying out millions of dollars to logistically support the caravan. You view the water trucks and other expensive support systems that have been put into place to support this invasion force.
YouTube screen grab

That’s not all, of course. There are some very bad people, as well as many simply hoping for a better life in the US, in the caravan, with the former preying on the latter.
The segment lasts less than five minutes and is well worth your time:

Thomas Lifson


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Class Conflict within the Democratic Party - Steve McCann

by Steve McCann

The Democratic Party has evolved into essentially an incompatible two-tier class-driven entity encompassing the nation’s wealthiest and the nation’s poorest

Over many decades, the American Left, the Democratic Party and their mutual propaganda arm, the self-styled “mainstream media,” have successfully portrayed conservatives and the Republican Party as a coalition of the wealthy and intolerant. Further, the Democrats and the left have claimed that they are the true champions of the working or middle class as they unceasingly fight to defeat and marginalize this evil menace. 

The reality, however, is that this cabal has virtually no interest in defending or aiding the working class as they are, in fact, the party of a bifurcated constituency: the wealthy and those dependent on the largess of the government.

Of the fifty wealthiest congressional districts throughout the country, the Democrats now represent forty-one. Of the remaining nine represented by Republicans, three are in Texas, the only red state on the list of fifty districts. Not coincidentally the residents of these same fifty districts are supposedly among the most well-educated and sophisticated. This transformative process is not a recent phenomenon as the trend began in the 1980’s and accelerated rapidly in the early 2000’s.

America’s elites, now overwhelmingly represented by the Democratic Party, have a single overriding interest: their self-indulgent lifestyle. This is manifested in their mistaken belief that conservatives (i.e. the “right”) are hell bent on enforcing their version of morality on the nation, thus potentially calling into question the lifestyles of the rich and solipsistic. 

The veracity of this claim is immaterial as it would require an element of deliberation not emotion -- a trait in extremely short supply among the nation’s privileged class, nearly all of whom have difficulty in generating an original thought due to the ill-education rampant in America’s universities. Thus, the mindless accusations of racism, misogyny and Fascism directed at the conservative rubes in middle America are acceptable, and in far too many instances believed, particularly as many had the temerity to vote for Donald Trump – who, although wealthy and Ivy League educated, is considered the ultimate unsophisticated rube.

As conservatives are the dominant force in the Republican Party and this nation cannot function politically with more than two major political parties, the alternative is the Democratic Party. An entity dominated by the American Left, an assemblage whose core philosophy is antithetical to the interests of the wealthy and privileged. Yet, determined to protect their lifestyles and vilify conservatives, they willingly ally with the left and overwhelmingly support virtually any Democratic candidate. In the recent 2018 mid-terms, Democratic House candidates outspent their Republican opponents by a two to one margin thanks primarily to this wealthy but myopic assemblage. 

Their colleagues in the Democratic Party, and the preponderance of the membership, are those dependent on the largess of the federal and state governments. On the other hand, the growing segment of the citizenry who are working and self-sufficient are increasingly joining those who believe in limited government in migrating to the Republican Party-- a process that is accelerating with the policies and tactics of Donald Trump in combating the entrenched left and their determination to culturally and economically transform the nation. The Republican Party will inevitably become the party of the working or middle class. As such, they could potentially dominate the political agenda for the foreseeable future.

The left and the Democratic Party, in order to offset this possibility, must aggressively seek to increase the number of dependents by promoting the legalization and ultimate citizenship for untold millions of illegal immigrants and promising all Americans cradle to grave economic security. In order to enact this strategy to defeat the Republicans, the left must have the active participation and financial support of the nation’s wealthy-- which they have. 

The Democratic Party has evolved into essentially an incompatible two-tier class-driven entity encompassing the nation’s wealthiest and the nation’s poorest. Nonetheless, it is at present a convenient home for the elites to hold off the imaginary horde of conservatives outside their gilded doors. 

However, the voting numbers within the party are overwhelmingly with those who generally support the leftist philosophies of redistribution (e.g. socialized medicine and guaranteed incomes) and curtailing of freedom (e.g. speech, assembly and religion). While it may not manifest itself to the affluent who have cast their lot with the Democrats, the redistribution of wealth must, by necessity, come from the wealthy, as that is where the bulk of the nation’s wealth resides. It is also this same small-in-numbers group that benefits the most from freedom of speech and assembly. 

Once fully embroiled in this marriage of convenience, a divorce will be impossible as the co-inhabitant of the Democratic Party, the dependent class, must continue grow in order to electorally defeat the Republicans and protect the left’s agenda. Further, the oversold expectations promulgated by the left will never be satisfied regardless of how many promises are made or token redistributive programs are enacted by the current ruling class. Only a complete transformation of this nation into a failed socialist state will satiate the left, their acolytes and their attendant army of dependency. A goal more in reach than ever thanks to the inability of the nation’s elites to give a damn about the future of the country.

There is not a more short-sighted and self-absorbed group of citizens in this nation than the white, wealthy well-educated urban and suburban voters. They are willing to rend the fabric of this nation in order to protect their privilege and lifestyle. While the vast majority of Americans will ultimately pay the price, the current ruling class and their progeny will have far more to lose. 

Steve McCann


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Israel Remains Steadfast in Face of Hamas War Crimes - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

Terror group fires 400 rockets into Israel - as Israeli army gears up for major offensive.

It began as a covert intelligence operation, one of many conducted by Israel in the hostile and densely populated Gaza Strip. Most of these operations occur without incident but on Sunday, we were reminded that these covert activities are not without extreme risk.

An undercover force reportedly from the elite Sayeret Maglan unit entered the Strip in civilian clothing using a nondescript vehicle. While in the Gazan city of Khan Yunis, the vehicle drew the suspicions of Hamas operatives who were in the vicinity. As the terrorists closed in, the Maglan boys opened fire on the AK-47 toting gangsters instantly sparking a ferocious firefight.

Three of the terrorists were shot dead during the initial exchange. The Israeli vehicle then frantically made its way through narrow streets of Khan Yunis toward the safety of Israel all while Hamas vehicles were giving chase. The Israelis called in for air support. Drones hovering above fired at the pursuing vehicles, destroying them, and killing an additional four more terrorists.

When it was over, seven terrorists, including a senior Hamas commander and one Israeli soldier were dead. The senior terrorist commander was identified as Nour Baraka, who oversaw terror tunnel operations. The deceased Israeli was a Lt. Colonel and a member of Israel’s Druse minority sect. His name has not been released to the public and he has only been identified as Lt. Col. “M.”

Israel braced for the inevitable response, and it came in the form of intense rocket and mortar barrages shortly thereafter. As of this writing, Hamas and its affiliate terror partners, which include the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, have fired approximately 400 rockets and mortars at Israel. Israel’s rocket defense system, Iron Dome, has thus far intercepted some 100 rockets. Most of the other rockets landed in open spaces but some hit residential areas causing casualties, property damage and disruption to normal daily living.

One rocket scored a direct hit on an apartment complex in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon killing a man in his 40s and seriously injuring two women. Ironically, the man was a Palestinian who was residing in Israel illegally. He is listed as the bombardment’s only fatality.

Gazan terrorists also fired a Russian-made Kornet anti-tank missile at a commuter bus parked close to the border, near the Israeli Kibbutz of Kfar Aza. The bus had been chartered by the army to transport soldiers but had no identifying military markings. Amazingly, all of the bus’s occupants disembarked just moments before the missile strike, and only one soldier, who was standing in close proximity to the bus, was wounded. After two surgeries, his condition, which was initially listed as critical, has drastically improved.  

Indiscriminate firing of rockets at civilians is a war crime. Hamas has thus far committed 400 war crimes. Most of the civilized world, including the United States and the European Union, has roundly condemned Hamas for it abhorrent conduct. The usual suspects, including Turkey’s thoroughly unhinged dictator, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, offered knee-jerk support for Hamas.

Israel has bolstered its anti-rocket defenses in the south, deploying additional Iron Dome batteries. Hamas is attempting to overwhelm Iron Dome by firing clusters of rocket salvos but the system continues to live up to its reputation as one of Israel’s wonder weapons.

Since the start of the Hamas-initiated hostilities, the Israeli Air Force has hit more than 150 targets throughout the Strip including the Hamas-controlled Al-Aqsa television station, and a building which served as the group’s intelligence headquarters. Both buildings were obliterated. Seven terrorists have been killed in the air strikes, making for a total of fourteen dead terrorists when added to the initial batch of seven killed in the Khan Yunis incident.

If the first wave of strikes fails to convince Hamas to cease its aggression, the Israelis will likely begin to target the homes of senior Hamas commanders. If that doesn’t do the trick, a ground invasion is all but inevitable. It is a virtual certainty however, that those brave stalwart leaders of Hamas are hiding in subterranean tunnels or beneath Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, while they use their expendable foot soldiers as fodder.   

Just before the instant crisis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that “There is no diplomatic solution for Gaza, just as there is no diplomatic solution for ISIS.” That is an accurate assessment. Israel certainly has the capability to topple Hamas and liquidate its leadership but at a substantial cost in terms of lives lost as well as political and financial capital. Moreover, toppling Hamas will not necessarily solve the problem as the substituting group may be as, or perhaps more radical. Finally, the greater threat facing Israel is to the north where the Iran-backed Hezbollah terrorist organization has amassed a mammoth rocket arsenal dwarfing anything possessed by its Gazan cousins in terms of both quality and quantity. Moreover, Israel must contend with Iran’s increasing entrenchment in Syria and its construction of missile bases and subterranean missile-production factories.

In light of these realities, Israel will have to resort to the doctrine of “cutting the grass,” a euphemism for cutting Hamas down to size every time the group gets out of hand. While this is not the ideal solution, it represents the best possible choice in a field of bad choices. 

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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The Media Hates Trump Because It Hates Free Speech - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

And it loved Obama because he censored free speech.

President Trump and his predecessor had very different relationships with the media. And the media had a very different relationship to each of them.

Obama didn’t like talking to the press corps. The freewheeling unstructured chats that President Trump has become known for were rare during his administration. Instead, Obama preferred to have cronies arrange extended interviews at which he held forth to a single admiring reporter from an elitist publication.

These interviews targeted Obama’s base of wealthy donors and influential figures. And they were supplemented with staged events with millennial personalities that made him seem accessible. But Obama was anything but accessible. His media interactions were carefully managed.

Even his photographs, usually the one area where politicians have the least control, were often not the work of the media, but of his own photographer, Pete Souza, producing flattering images of him for the press. The White House Correspondents Association protested that, “Journalists are routinely being denied the right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties.”

Obama wasn’t worried about rudeness from CNN or even tough questions. The abrasive belittling that President Trump has faced from the press corps would have been unthinkable. Even tough questions were a rarity. In one of the more embarrassing moments of media fawning, the New York Times' Jeff Zeleny asked Obama, what "enchanted you the most about serving in this office?"

But Obama and his associates worked hard at staying in control of the message. They didn’t just want flattering coverage. They couldn’t have gotten negative media coverage if they had nuked Boston. What they wanted was for the media to be an extension of the White House’s messaging operation.  Tight control over Obama’s availability allowed him to purposefully set the media’s agenda to match his own.

An analysis by White House Transition Project director Martha Kumar noted that while Obama gave far more interviews, President Trump has done many more short Q&As. 42% of Trump's public statements came through his time with reporters while only 31% of Obama's did. Trump works the press in front of the camera. Obama’s people did most of their work with the press behind the curtain.

Where Obama needed to tightly control the media, Trump is comfortable trolling it. Obama avoided unstructured conversations because they might lead to the media covering something other than he wanted them to. Trump however is confident about getting the media to cover exactly what he wants.

Obama structured coverage by limiting access and using cronies like Ben Rhodes to trade access, plant stories and manipulate the media into functioning as his echo chamber. Trump welcomes coverage, and keeps his interactions with the media public. Unlike Obama, he expects no secret favors from the media. And his rousing battles with the media help promote whatever he wants to talk about. The more the media hates Trump, the more it has to cover him. The more he provokes it, the more it reports on him.

While Obama rarely ventured outside his comfort zone to appear on FOX News, Trump deliberately seeks out the New York Times. That’s not the behavior of a man who is afraid of negative coverage.

Trump’s boisterous exchanges with the press show the hollowness of the media’s blathering about threats of censorship. If Trump really wanted to censor the press, all he would have to do is shut it out.

There’s no reason that Trump couldn’t operate in his own echo chamber, giving interviews only to his political allies, cutting the press corps out entirely, distributing photos from his own people, relying on social media and letting the mainstream media go. Obama did most of that, apart from the last.

Despite the media’s whining about Trump, he poses no threat to the First Amendment. Trump thrives in the chaotic atmosphere of a freewheeling press seeking gossip, scandals and headlines. The media that Trump has is the one that he wants. It’s the one that he learned to manipulate early on, beginning with the New York City tabloids in his salad days as a businessman, long before he entered national politics.

Obama’s obsession with controlling the media quickly turned thuggish. Reporters were spied on and prosecuted. Those who wrote unfavorable stories were subjected to public attacks and harassment by their colleagues. In the Trump era, reporters might be ridiculed by a pro-Trump audience or insulted by Trump, without fearing criminal prosecution, eavesdropping or targeted attacks aimed at their career.

Instead, in the Trump era, targeted attacks from within the profession are more often aimed at journalists who have been deemed insufficiently hostile to Trump. Axios’, Jonathan Swan recently faced an onslaught of media hit pieces over his interview with Trump. Swan was attacked for not going Full Acosta and arguing with Trump. That’s a constant pressure that journalists who talk to Trump face. If they don’t go after him as hard as they can, they risk being accused of collusion by their colleagues.

The New York Times sneered that Swan had been an “obscure Australian striver” and accused him of “smiling so gleefully” during the interview. The hit piece followed the pattern of media takedowns of fellow journalists based on insider leaks and slack transcripts. Its larger message was intimidation.

Be Acosta. Or else.

Under Obama, the media had punished negative reporting on the White House. Even Bob Woodward, recently the toast of the town for his attacks on Trump, came under siege when he complained about pressure from the Obama White House. The same media that claims that Trump’s insults represent a profound threat to the First Amendment, mocked Woodward for complaining about the intimidation.

NPR, The Atlantic, Politico, and the New York Times ridiculed Woodward’s complaints and accused him of being a “right-wing hero”. Under Obama, complaints of White House intimidation were suppressed. Under Trump, they’re exaggerated to absurdity. The media doesn’t have a problem with politicians intimidating reporters. Like their accusations of racism and sexism, the accusation of press intimidation is selectively political.

Trump’s seeming hostility to the media and Obama’s friendliness to it conceal a deeper truth about how leftist ideology threatens even friendly industries while conservative politics protect them. Trump has a combative relationship with the media in public and Obama had a congenial one, but behind the threats and kisses in front of the cameras, Obama threatened its independence and Trump does not.

The ideological compatibility between Obama and the media didn’t protect it, it threatened it. Leftist movements crack down even harder on internal ideological dissent because it threatens their control. The more the media did Obama’s bidding, the more he needed to control its every move. Trump has defined the media as the enemy and is happy to allow his opposition to destroy its own credibility.

Leftists consolidate, conservatives decentralize. 

Trump is only a threat to the media to the extent that it has consolidated its corporate operations and its machinery for shaping public opinion. Obama however threatened individual reporters to the extent that they had not fully adopted the groupthink and the talking points being circulated that very day.

There’s been some debate about whether the media ought to be plural or singular. Trump threatens its singularity; Obama threatened its pluralism.

When President Trump opened up White House press conferences to a greater variety of media outlets, including some conservative ones, the media protested angrily. Trump’s threat to the media has been his willingness to not only talk to the media, but also to people outside the mainstream media. Obama’s threat was his need to consolidate the media into a single voice run entirely out of the White House.

And that’s not just a threat to the media. It’s a threat to the First Amendment and to America.

Obama didn’t initiate the centralization of the media. He plugged into an ongoing process. And even now, the centralization and its accompanying groupthink continue to grow.

The media exploited lefty anger over Trump’s victory to pursue the wholesale censorship of social media under the guise of fighting ‘fake news’. When the media accuses Trump’s taunts of ‘fake news’ of being a threat to the First Amendment, it’s projecting its own plots onto him. CNN continues to shrieks its lies uninterrupted. But conservative journalists have been censored by media ‘fact checkers’ whom Facebook and other social media companies have put in charge of censoring ‘fake news’.

That’s the fundamental difference between Trump and Obama. And between the Right and the Left.

Conservatives argue. Leftists censor. The Right may insult, but the Left silences.  Arguments don’t threaten the First Amendment. Neither do heated exchanges or taunts. Silencing critics does.

The media hates President Trump because it hates the First Amendment. His freewheeling style, openness and willingness to shoot from the hip are the essence of free speech.

And there’s nothing that the Left hates more than free speech. That’s why it loved Obama.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.


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They're Not Waving EU Flags - Bruce Bawer

by Bruce Bawer

A dispatch from Vienna.

I've always enjoyed being in German-speaking cities, even though my German isn't what it used to be (and wasn't even much back then), and even though it's hard not to be reminded, now and then, of, well, you know. In Germany, to be sure, they go out of their way to remind you of that unpleasant interval from 1939 to 1945, filling their cities with hideous examples of what you might call the architecture of atonement – brutalist eyesores that we're supposed to perceive as heartfelt proclamations of sincere Holocaust remorse. At the same time, however, paradoxical though it may sound, they're determined to put their past behind them. 

And behind you, too. In Berlin, that once gray but increasingly shiny city, you get the distinct impression that the inhabitants desperately want to pretend that the world was reborn anew after World War II and that a dynamic, hyper-contemporary Deutschland, its sins washed entirely clean by all those flagrant public gestures of apology for Auschwitz, is leading us all into a post-national, post-historical utopia, hoisting the EU banner aloft and singing Beethoven's Ode to Joy in joyful chorus. Yes, if you're visiting Berlin, by all means do your duty by wandering around that dreary landscape of stone near the Brandenburg Gate that purportedly memorializes the dead of the Shoah – but then get your ass out of there, head down the Eberstraße, and start shopping like crazy at the high-end boutiques of ultra-glitzy Potsdamerplatz.

Vienna, where I am right now, is of course a German-speaking city, but it's different in key ways from Berlin – or, for that matter, from any burg I know in Germany. Like Rome (also a Catholic capital), Vienna has a feel of being utterly at ease with its history, its cultural heritage, and its national identity. Around the corner from where I'm staying is a shop crammed with immense early nineteenth-century portraits of Austrian aristocrats. In the front window of a nearby chocolatier is a big poster of a court painting of the same period. And a local taproom is decorated with framed photographs of Franz Josef-era military officers. All over town, national, but not EU, flags abound – the opposite of Germany.

These differences make sense. They can be traced, in part, to the fact that after the war, the Allies treated Germany as a vanquished enemy but Austria as an innocent land that had been the Nazis' first conquest. The fact that most Austrians cheered the Anschluss, that many fought in the Wehrmacht, and that Hitler was one of them, born and bred, was delicately overlooked. Hence Germans born after the war grew up saddled with guilt – which is why so many of them hate their flag, adore the EU, and continue to embrace the self-destructive immigration policies pursued by the soon-to-retire Frau Merkel. If Germans seem even more prepared than other Western Europeans to accept Muslim “refugees” at a well-nigh suicidal rate, I suspect it's because, on some level, they want to turn their Bundesrepublik as fast as possible into something as different from the Third Reich as possible, even if it spells their own doom – and their children's and grandchildren's.

Austrians grew up without that guilt, however – which helps, I think, to explain why, last year, they elected to the post of chancellor a young man, Sebastian Kurz, who is thoroughly unapologetic in his independence from the EU as well as in his determination to prevent his country's Islamization.

When Germans and Austrians are compared, Austria doesn't always come off better. Vienna-born Walter Slezak, who became a Hollywood character actor (cf. Hitchcock's Lifeboat), said that Germans had been Nazis once, but that Austrians still were Nazis and always would be. Was he right? Or was he just baring some childhood wound? Yes, the Austrians did elect a former Nazi, Kurt Waldheim, as their president – but, then again, the nations of the world installed that same Kurt Waldheim as Secretary-General of the UN. Kurz has been smeared mercilessly by the left, but nowadays what brings the Nazis to mind in these parts isn't Kurz's strict views on immigration but the reckless arrogance of Merkel, the sinister muscle-flexing by European Muslim leaders, and the ever-burgeoning tyranny of Brussels.

Granted, fond as I am of Germany and Austria, every time I run afoul of some surly service worker in this part of the world, my first thought is inevitably: yes, I can see this one as a concentration-camp guard. I was going to add, “At least the Austrians don't have that Prussian stiffness,” but then I realized that Hitler didn't, either. Look at casual snapshots of him: he doesn't have that starchy, rigidly tucked-in look perfected, then as now, by real Germans. At times he even looks kind of rumpled. Indeed, one thing that hits you while walking the streets of Vienna is that none of these people look even remotely like the tall, glamorous blonds whom Hitler prized as Aryan archetypes – and whom Leni Riefenstahl captured by the thousands on celluloid. In fact, while such Hitler Youth types are quite thick on the ground in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, the average Viennese guy today, in height, build, hair color, and facial features, falls into pretty much the same category as the Führer himself.

But that's neither here nor there. Nor is the fact that, judging by several meals at well-reviewed eateries, the Wiener schnitzel in the city that gave it its name isn't nearly as good as what you can get at the Munich train station. (By the same token, New York pizza beats Rome pizza by a mile.) The point I want to close with is that, judging by what I've read and seen and, yes, felt in recent days on the streets of Vienna, this is a city whose people cherish their culture and history – with that one mammoth exception – and who are definitely not on board with the project by other Western European countries to surrender to the imams. Which, needless to say, is something to cheer.

Bruce Bawer is the author of “While Europe Slept,” “Surrender,” and "The Victims' Revolution." His novel "The Alhambra" has just been published.


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The Jews of the North Africa under Muslim Rule - Ruthie Blum

by Ruthie Blum

The impetus for the book, which was first published in French in 2010 and in English in 2016, was to expose the misrepresentation by certain historians of the relations between the Jews of Morocco and Algeria and their Arab rulers.
  • David Littman, before his untimely death from leukemia in 2012, had intended this book on the Maghreb to be the first in a series that would cover the social condition of the Jews in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and Turkey -- an ambitious project that he was unable to tackle in its entirety.
  • "To his credit, King Mohammad VI has made a point of preserving the Jewish heritage of Morocco, especially its cemeteries. He has better relations with Israel than other Muslim countries but still does not recognize Israel and have diplomatic relations with the nation state of the Jewish People." — Alan M. Dershowitz, "What Is a 'Refugee'?"
  • "[T]he task of completing this exploration of the historical reality of Jewish existence under the Crescent rests upon future generations of researchers, to whom, it is hoped, our modest contribution will serve as an inspiration." — David Littman.
Exile in the Maghreb, co-authored by the great historian David G. Littman and Paul B. Fenton, is an ambitious tome contradicting the myth of how breezy it was for Jews to live in their homelands in the Middle East and North Africa when they came under Muslim rule.

"Ever since the Middle Ages," the book jarringly illustrates, "anti-Jewish persecution has been endemic to Muslim North Africa."

Littman, before his untimely death from leukemia in 2012, had intended this book on the Maghreb to be the first in a series that would cover the social condition of the Jews of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Yemen, Iran and Turkey -- an ambitious project that he was unable to tackle in its entirety.

The impetus for the book, which was first published in French in 2010 and in English in 2016, was to expose the misrepresentation by certain historians of the relations between the Jews of Morocco and Algeria and their Arab rulers. One such historian cited in the book was the French Orientalist, Claude Cahen, who dreamily wrote in his chapter on "Dhimma" in the Encylopaedia of Islam:
"There is nothing in medieval Islam which could specifically be called anti-Semitism... Islam has, in spite of many upsets, shown more toleration than Europe toward Jews who remained in Muslim lands."
The original idea for the book -- a massive collection of personal testimonies, photos and documents spanning ten centuries (from 997-1912) -- came to Littman when he was on a humanitarian trip to Morocco in 1961. Littman noted:
"Following the independence of their country in 1956, the Jews of Morocco had begun to redefine their hopes regarding the future. Whereas new opportunities for them began to loom on the horizon, I was astonished to observe that the Moroccan Jews were making every possible effort to leave their native land to immigrate to the struggling young State of Israel or even to Europe, whose communities were still painfully recovering from the tragedies of World War II."
In an article for the Jerusalem Post -- entitled, "Exploding the myth of Moroccan tolerance" -- Lyn Julius described an anti-Israel documentary by Al Jazeera that blamed the Mossad for "play[ing] a key role in convincing thousands of Moroccan Jews that they were in danger and covertly facilitated their departure" to the newly established state of Israel. Prior to that, according to the broadcast, "Jews first began to settle in Morocco over 2,000 years ago and for centuries they and Muslims have happily co-existed there."

Julius writes that Exile in the Maghreb provides "a corrective to this common historical distortion."

There is, for example the account of Samuel Romanelli (1758-1814), an Italian Jew who visited Morocco at the end of Sultan Sidi Mohammad III's reign (1757-1790), and wrote about his travels in Oracle from an Arab Land (1792):
"Most of them [the Jews of Morocco] never die a natural death nor do they share the lot of common mortals: execution, torture, expropriation, incarceration are their fate. Their bodies might be mutilated and their residences turned into cesspools..."
In the article, "What Is a 'Refugee'? The Jews from Morocco versus the Palestinians from Israel," published earlier this year, the renowned lawyer, Alan Dershowitz, writes:
"Jews lived in Morocco for centuries before Islam came to Casablanca, Fez and Marrakesh. The Jews, along with the Berbers, were the backbone of the economy and culture. Now their historic presence can be seen primarily in the hundreds of Jewish cemeteries and abandoned synagogues that are omnipresent in cities and towns throughout the Maghreb...
"Now they are a remnant in Morocco and gone from the other countries. Some left voluntarily to move to Israel after 1948. Many were forced to flee by threats, pogroms and legal decrees, leaving behind billions of dollars in property and the graves of their ancestors.
"Today, Morocco's Jewish population is less than 5,000, as contrasted with 250,000 at its peak. To his credit, King Mohammad VI has made a point of preserving the Jewish heritage of Morocco, especially its cemeteries. He has better relations with Israel than other Muslim countries but still does not recognize Israel and have diplomatic relations with the nation state of the Jewish People. It is a work in progress. His relationship with his small Jewish community, most of whom are avid Zionists, is excellent..."
Exile in the Maghreb is a most important book, which sets the record straight about the true plight of the Jews after the conquests of the lands in which they had peacefully resided.

To encourage the work to be continued by others, Littman quoted Rabbi Tarphon in the Ethics of the Fathers: "It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it." Littman concluded:
"[T]he task of completing this exploration of the historical reality of Jewish existence under the Crescent rests upon future generations of researchers, to whom, it is hoped, our modest contribution will serve as an inspiration."
Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"


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