Friday, November 22, 2019

Netanyahu slams 'coup' after indictments - Arutz Sheva Staff


by Arutz Sheva Staff


PM vows not to step down as prime minister following AG's decision to indict him.



Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Tomer Neuberg/Flash90
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded Thursday to the Attorney General's decision to indict him for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

"I respect the Israeli judicial authorities very much. They have earned a world-wide name and rightly so. But one has to be blind to not see that something not good is happening with the police and the prosecutor's office," Netanyahu said.

"Today we see an attempt to make a government coup against the prime minister with false allegations and in the process of tainted and biased investigations.

"I've given my life for the State. I fought for it and was wounded for it."

"The Attorney General published the final indictment in a rushed fashion at this most sensitive time. The initial indictment was also published during an election.

The timing of this decision throws the legal process against me into question. We need law enforcement authorities that can be trusted by the public. The tainted investigation against me created new crimes - that is disgraceful to me and to Israel."

"The police are aware that they have lost the public's faith," Netanyahu said, adding that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit caved in to State Attorney Shai Nitzan's pressure. 

"I won't step down," Netanyahu asserted. "I will continue to lead the country."


Arutz Sheva Staff

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/272066

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European Union bites off more than it can chew in Judea and Samaria - David Singer


by David Singer

The European Union could be in a real political bind as a result of its antisemitic labelling decision.


France has set in train a diplomatic and politically-motivated semantic assault on Israel that could ultimately see the European Union biting off more than it can chew.

A press release noted that the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg on 12 November had found in favour of France’s determined effort to protect unwitting French consumers being possibly misled when they buy cheese, wine or other produce originating in Judea and Samaria and sold by Jews: 

“… the Grand Chamber of the Court ruled that foodstuffs originating in territories occupied by the State of Israel must bear the indication of their territory of origin, accompanied, where those foodstuffs come from a locality or a group of localities constituting an Israeli settlement within that territory, by the indication of that provenance.” 

This decision lays down stringent labelling requirements for Jewish producers in Judea and Samaria to ensure their products are kosher enough to be sold into the European Union. 

The sham that this would protect consumers from believing such products were “Made in Israel” took on a far more sinister political resonance as the press release continued:

“as regards the issue whether the indication ‘Israeli settlement’ is mandatory, the Court first of all underlined that the settlements established in some of the territories occupied by the State of Israel are characterised by the fact that they give concrete expression to a policy of population transfer conducted by that State outside its territory, in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law.

"The Court then held that the omission of that indication, with the result that only the territory of origin is indicated, might mislead consumers. Consumers have no way of knowing, in the absence of any information capable of enlightening them in that respect, that a foodstuff comes from a locality or a set of localities constituting a settlement established in one of those territories in breach of the rules of international humanitarian law.

"The Court noted that, under Regulation No 1169/2011, the provision of information to consumers must enable them to make informed choices, with regard not only to health, economic, environmental and social considerations, but also to ethical considerations and considerations relating to the observance of international law. The Court underlined in that respect that such considerations could influence consumers’ purchasing decisions”. 

All this pompous gobbledygook being required for labelling the source of products made in territory disputed between Jews and Arabs for the last 100 years is deeply disturbing. 

There is no appeal from this decision.

The European Union could be in a real political bind as a result. 

The labelling requirements introduced by the European Union in 2011 and interpreted in 2015 has led it down this disastrous path promising only ridicule and contempt.

To be consistent and not be subjected to charges that it is deliberately targeting Jews and inciting Jew-hatred – the European Union needs to insist on similar stringent labelling requirements being immediately applied on goods originating from more than 150 disputed territories around the world. 

Alternatively - the European Union could get itself out of this embarrassing labelling war and PR disaster by simply requiring goods originating from Israeli settlements to state “Product of Judea” or “Product of Samaria”.

Judea and Samaria - the historic and geographic terms used for the disputed territories for the last 3000 years - were relabelled the “The West Bank” by Jordan in 1950 - and enthusiastically embraced by the European Union.

The chickens from Judea and Samaria have come home to roost. 

Truth in labelling by the feckless European Union is long overdue.


Dry Bones: EU Labels
INN:HK

 Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog


David Singer is an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the "Jordan is Palestine" Committee in 1979.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/24760

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Israel on war alert for Iranian reprisal after IDF assaults on Al Qods’ Syrian bases - debkaFile


by debkaFile

By directing missiles at central Israel, Iran demonstrated two changes of tactics





Iran’s military array in and around Damascus was not eradicated as reported but severely damaged by Israel’s extensive air strikes early Wednesday, Nov. 20, DEBKAfile reports. Only the Syrian air defense batteries which aimed at Israeli warplanes around Damascus and the Syrian Golan, were disabled – not its entire network. This point is important. Since the Israeli jets did not enter Syrian air space but struck from the skies of northern Israel and southern Lebanon, Syrian batteries were directed for the first time to try and down them while over Israel territory.


It is also important to note that the IDF account of the Iranian rocket attack on northern Israel of Tuesday, spoke of “heavy missiles,” a phrase that usually implies medium-range ground-to-ground ballistic missiles. This may be interpreted as a reference to Fatteh-110 missiles. They have a range of 500km and had they not been intercepted by Iron Dome defense batteries, they were therefore capable of reaching into central Israel, and not just the north.

This Iranian attack did not come out of the blue. It followed an earlier Israel strike that morning on one of its facilities near Abu Kamal close to the Syrian border with Iraq. By directing missiles at central Israel, Iran demonstrated two changes of tactics:

  1. Not only is Tehran determined to hit back for every Israeli attack, as it has threatened, but will do so in kind: For every IDF raid on its military assets deep inside Syrian or Iraqi terrain, Iran is poised to strike back similarly deep inside Israel.
  2. An attack on Israel’s central, most densely populated region, would inflict multiple civilian casualties. For that reason alone, the Iranian missile attack on Tuesday should be seen as the direct continuation of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s rocket fire from Gaza on the Israeli city of Beersheba on Nov. 16, i.e. three days earlier. Iron Dome batteries averted major tragedies in both cases, but while highly effective, they are not infallible.

Israeli forces are on high war alert at this moment due to the assessment that this is just the start of a major clash between the IDF and Iran’s elite Al Qods Brigades. Tehran is unlikely to let Wednesday’s massive Israeli air assault in Syria go unanswered and may well strike back within days or even hours.


debkaFile

Source: https://www.debka.com/israel-on-war-alert-for-iranian-reprisal-after-idf-assaults-on-al-qods-syrian-bases/


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DOJ concludes that crimes were committed in the illicit monitoring of Donald Trump & his associates - Tom Fitton


by Tom Fitton

Will there finally be accountability?





Tom Fitton

Source: https://www.judicialwatch.org/videos/tom-fitton-doj-concludes-evidence-of-crimes-committed-by-govt-in-spygate-targeting-of-pres-trump/

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Iran: Hard Times for Ayatollahs - Con Coughlin


by Con Coughlin

With the Iranian economy under such intense pressure as a result of the sanctions -- the regime has little room for manoeuvre, so it faces a stark choice: either radically reform its conduct or continue to face the wrath of the Iranian people.

  • It is an irony that not even the most devoted supporters of the ayatollahs can ignore that a country such as Iran, that prides itself on being one of the world's largest oil producers, is unable to produce enough fuel to satisfy the needs of its own population.
  • These are, moreover, hard times for the ayatollahs in many other respects. Not only are the leaders coming under pressure at home for their disastrous handling of the economy. They are also seeing their efforts to export Iran's Islamic revolution to other corners of the Middle East being roundly rejected, with anti-Iran protests taking place in Iraq and Lebanon.
  • With the Iranian economy under such intense pressure as a result of the sanctions, however, the regime has little room for manoeuvre, so it faces a stark choice: either radically reform its conduct or continue to face the wrath of the Iranian people.

With the Iranian economy under such intense pressure as a result of the sanctions, the regime has little room for manoeuvre, so it faces a stark choice: either radically reform its conduct or continue to face the wrath of the Iranian people. Pictured: Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (left) and President Hassan Rouhani. (Image source: khamenei.ir)

Any suggestion that the wide-ranging sanctions regime the Trump administration has imposed against Iran was not having the desired effect has been roundly refuted by the nationwide protests that have erupted in response to the regime's decision to increase petrol prices.

Critics of American President Donald J. Trump's announcement that he was withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear deal last year and imposing a fresh round of sanctions against Tehran have argued that the measures would fail to have the desired effect, and claimed that the ayatollahs would be able to circumvent the sanctions by trading with countries such as China, that remained committed to the nuclear deal.

Those arguments have now been decisively proved wrong after Iranians took to the streets in towns and cities in their tens of thousands throughout the country in protest at the regime's decision at the end of last week to raise the price of petrol by 50 percent, as well as rationing the amount drivers could purchase to 60 litres a month without being obliged to pay a higher premium.

It is an irony that not even the most devoted supporters of the ayatollahs can ignore that a country such as Iran, that prides itself on being one of the world's largest oil producers, is unable to produce enough fuel to satisfy the needs of its own population.

While the requirement to raise fuel prices is deeply embarrassing for the government of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, however, it has not stopped the regime from responding with its characteristic brutality to anti-government protests.

Precise casualty figures are hard to come by, not least because the regime has responded to the latest protests by closing down access to the internet, the classic response one expects to see from an authoritarian state under pressure.

Unofficial reports compiled by Iranian exiles suggest that around 200 people have been killed and around 3,000 injured after Mr Rouhani ordered Iran's security forces to deal with the protests, which he said amounted to rioting.

"People have the right to protest," Mr Rouhani said shortly after the anti-government protests began, "but protests are different from riots. We should not allow insecurity in our society."

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, went even further, claiming the protests were nothing more than "sabotage and arson" being carried out by "hooligans, not our people. The counter-revolution and Iran's enemies have always supported sabotage and breaches of security and continue to do so."

As often happens when the Iranian regime finds itself under pressure, such as the Green Revolution in 2009, when there were mass protests against the result of the presidential election, the ayatollahs resort to the brute force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Basij, the IRGC's volunteer militia, to crush dissent. The regime employed similar measures during the Green Revolution, when thousands of Iranian protesters, who were dismayed at the prospect of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad serving another four-year term of office, staged the largest anti-government protests Iran had witnessed since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

It is too early to say yet whether the current wave of protests will gather the same momentum, especially as the regime has become more adept at crushing anti-government opposition.

Regular outbursts of dissent have been reported throughout Tehran since the end of last year, mainly in response to the crippling effect the US sanctions regime is having on the economy, where inflation is running at around 40 percent, and the collapse in the value of the rial, the national currency, has caused dramatic rises in the cost of basic staples, with red meat and poultry rising by 57%, milk, cheese and eggs by 37%, and vegetables by 47%.

These are, moreover, hard times for the ayatollahs in many other respects. Not only are the leaders coming under pressure at home for their disastrous handling of the economy. They are also seeing their efforts to export Iran's Islamic revolution to other corners of the Middle East being roundly rejected, with anti-Iran protests taking place in Iraq and Lebanon.

Indeed, fears that the protests currently taking place in Iran might spiral out of control, as they have done recently in both Iran and Lebanon, has prompted some lawmakers in the Iranian parliament, or Majlis, to call for the increase in petrol prices to be reversed.

With the Iranian economy under such intense pressure as a result of the sanctions, however, the regime has little room for manoeuvre, so it faces a stark choice: either radically reform its conduct or continue to face the wrath of the Iranian people.

Con Coughlin is the Telegraph's Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/15184/iran-ayatollahs-hard-times

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Thanks to Trump, the Mullahs Are Going Bankrupt - Majid Rafizadeh


by Majid Rafizadeh

Iran's national currency, the rial [has] dropped to historic lows. One US dollar, which equaled approximately 35,000 rials in November 2017, now buys you nearly 110,000 rials.

  • One of the reasons behind IMF's gloomy picture of Iran's economy is linked to the Trump administration's decision not to extend its waiver for Iran's eight biggest oil buyers; China, India, Greece, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey and South Korea.
  • Iran's national currency, the rial, also continues to lose value: it dropped to historic lows. One US dollar, which equaled approximately 35,000 rials in November 2017, now buys you nearly 110,000 rials.

On November 12, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged for the first time that "Iran is experiencing one of its hardest years since the 1979 Islamic revolution" and that "the country's situation is not normal." (Image source: Tasnim News/CC by 4.0)

The critics of President Trump's Iran policy have been proven wrong: the US sanctions are imposing significant pressure on the ruling mullahs of Iran and the ability to fund their terror groups.

Before the US Department of Treasury leveled secondary sanctions against Iran's oil and gas sectors, Tehran was exporting over two million barrel a day of oil. Currently, Tehran's oil export has gone down to less than 200,000 barrel a day, which represents a decline of roughly 90% in Iran's oil exports.

Iran has the second-largest natural gas reserves and the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves in the world, and the sale of these resources account for more than 80 percent of its export revenues. The Islamic Republic therefore historically depends heavily on oil revenues to fund its military adventurism in the region and sponsor militias and terror groups. Iran's presented budget in 2019 was nearly $41 billion, while the regime was expecting to generate approximately $21 billion of it from oil revenues. This means that approximately half of Iran's government revenue comes from exporting oil to other nations.

Even though Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, boasts about the country's self-sufficient economy, several of Iran's leaders recently admitted the dire economic situation that the government is facing. Speaking in the city of Kerman on November 12, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged for the first time that "Iran is experiencing one of its hardest years since the 1979 Islamic revolution" and that "the country's situation is not normal."

Rouhani also complained:
"Although we have some other incomes, the only revenue that can keep the country going is the oil money. We have never had so many problems in selling oil. We never had so many problems in keeping our oil tanker fleet sailing.... How can we run the affairs of the country when we have problems with selling our oil?"
Thanks to the US policy of "maximum pressure," the Islamic Republic's overall economy has taken a major beating as well. Lately, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has again adjusted its forecast for Iran's economy and pointed out that Iran's economy is expected to shrink by 9.5% rather than 6% by the end of 2019.

One of the reasons behind IMF's gloomy picture of Iran's economy is linked to the Trump administration's decision not to extend its waiver for Iran's eight biggest oil buyers; China, India, Greece, Italy, Taiwan, Japan, Turkey and South Korea. Instead of showing economic growth in 2019, Iran's economy would be 90% of its size by the end of 2019 in comparison to two years ago, based on a recent report from the World Bank.

Iran's national currency, the rial, also continues to lose value: it dropped to historic lows. One US dollar, which equaled approximately 35,000 rials in November 2017, now buys you nearly 110,000 rials.

In addition, the Islamic Republic appears to be scrambling to compensate for the loss of revenues it is encountering. A few days ago, for example, Iran's leaders tripled the price of gasoline. It appears a sign of desperation to generate revenues in order to fund their military adventurism in the region and support their proxies and terror groups.

This increase immediately led people to rise up against the government. In the last few days, several Iranian cities have become the scenes of widespread protests and demonstrations. The protests first erupted in Ahvaz and then spread to many other cities in the Khuzestan province as well as in the capital Tehran, and Kermanshah, Isfahan, Tabriz, Karadj, Shiraz, Yazd, Boushehr, Sari, Khorramshahr, Andimeshk, Dezful, Behbahan and Mahshahr.

Tehran's diminishing resources have also caused Iranian leaders to cut funds to the Palestinian terror group Hamas and the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah. Hamas was forced to introduce "austerity plans" while Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Iran's proxy, Hezbollah, has also called on his group's fundraising arm "to provide the opportunity for jihad with money and also to help with this ongoing battle."

To the likely dismay of Washington's critics, President Trump's Iran policy has been heading in the right direction. By escalating economic sanctions, the ruling mullahs and their proxies are going bankrupt. Other nations now need to join the US by also adopting a "maximum pressure" policy -- even if they would rather continue to do business with Iran and undermine President Trump's administration -- to them, a "twofer". If Iran succeeds in developing its nuclear weapons breakout capability, in the end it will be used to blackmail precisely them.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu
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Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/15183/iran-mullahs-bankrupt

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Dems’ self-destructive defense of Biden family corruption - Russ Vaughn


by Russ Vaughn

The Democrat prestidigitation is being seen for what it truly is: blatant, very high level corruption during the Obama administration that Dems are trying to ignore


You know those idealized, perfectly conical shapes small children draw to depict hills and mountain peaks? Well according to the Cambridge Hillwalking Club, the Gaelic term for such a hill or peak so shaped is bidean or bidein. Usually we find depictions of bideins adorning kindergarten walls and refrigerator doors, but in the case of the 2020 Democrat presidential primary, it would seem the poobahs of the party’s congressional delegation seem to view, like small children, their own morally faulted, fissured and distinctly irregular Biden as one of those idealized, perfectly symmetrical bideins to, a pinnacle to be defended against all comers, in spite of a widely televised admission of corruption by Joe, involving himself and his son.

If Trump-deranged, impeachment-crazed Democrats were still demonstrating even minor signs of political sanity, one might suppose they would think long and hard before trying to defend such overt dishonesty while simultaneously attempting to impeach the sitting president for a far less serious and less provable act involving largely the same players in the same country. The Democrat leadership is confident that they can pull off this legerdemain because they believe that through their media minions they control the watching eyes of the American public, keeping the rubes focused on fanciful hearings while the Bidens and their corrupt behavior remain hidden by media sleight of hand. Their confidence is easy to understand; Democrats have long enjoyed the luxury of having the coastal, urban, elite media acting as fang-toothed propagandists for the party while hiding behind a hypocritical hijab of pious impartiality.

Joe and Hunter Biden in the 2009 Obama inaugural parade (photo credit: acaben)

But now, the media are no longer making even a token attempt to appear unbiased; their masks have come off and their role as the publicity arm of a single political party is ever clearer to millions more of the American public. Now the Democrat prestidigitation is being seen for what it truly is: blatant, very high level corruption during the Obama administration that Dems are trying to ignore, and even worse, condone, while cynically trying to unseat a president for a far less egregious offense. Dems refuse to accept the reality that acknowledging Joe Biden’s probably corrupt activities bear investigating might mitigate the stench of hypocrisy that now surrounds their impeachment proceedings.

The Democrat leadership may still feel confident that with the media’s one-sided support they can bamboozle the American public with their Capitol Hill hocus pocus, but they would be well advised to pause first and ask themselves:

“Is this the wrong Bidein to die on?”

Russ Vaughn

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2019/11/dems_selfdestructive_defense_of_biden_family_corruption_.html

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Pelosi’s Projection - Lloyd Billingsley


by Lloyd Billingsley

A throwback to the Democrats’ great imposter.





In Adam Schiff’s “impeachment palooza,” as one Republican called it, not a single witness has flagged an impeachable offence on the part of President Trump. As the smears, hearsay and lies surge onward, an offstage player has provided the key to all mysteries of the 2016 election and beyond.

After former ambassador Marie Yvanovitch failed to signal any bribery or crime on the part of the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promptly targeted President Trump. “I think part of it is his own insecurity as an imposter,” Pelosi told CBS. “I think he knows full well that he’s in that office way over his head. And so he has to diminish everyone else.”

Nancy’s keyword was “imposter,” a person posing as someone he is not. That profile hardly fits the current president of the United States.

Donald Trump has been a public figure for decades, putting up buildings, staging boxing matches, and appearing on television. Nobody has suggested that Donald J. Trump ever posed as somebody else, and nobody can point to mysteries in his ancestry. All that, and more, does apply to his predecessor in the White House.

The junior senator from Illinois, a virtual unknown, claimed that his father was a Kenyan goatherd who went to school in a tin-roof shack. That story came from the 1995 Dreams from My Father, which official biographer David Garrow proclaimed a novel and the author a “composite character.” That was apparent to the most casual reader of the Dreams book, which claims the Kenyan “bequeathed his name” to the Hawaiian-born American, and called him a “prop” in someone else’s narrative.

In all his writing from 1958-1964, the Kenyan Barack H. Obama makes no mention of an American wife and son. Barry, as his mother named him, was adopted by Lolo Soetoro, the Indonesian student his mother Ann Dunham married, and raised in Indonesia.

The Dreams account gives more attention to “Frank” than the Kenyan, and the 2017 Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama, Garrow acknowledges that “Frank” is Frank Marshall Davis, a Stalinist and Soviet agent with an FBI file a mile long. With his beloved Communist Frank “politically radioactive,” rising star Barry needed the historical fiction of the Kenyan if he sought higher office.

The false notion that he was born in Kenya originated with the Clinton campaign in 2008, hoping to discredit Barry as a presidential candidate. The establishment media accepted Barry’s narrative and smeared as “birthers” anyone curious about his background. Toward the end of Rising Star, Garrow cites an unnamed reporter that Obama and his “narrator” David Axelrod made up the story, which was “not entirely true.”

In 2012, Paul Kengor’s The Communist showed the “remarkable similarities” between the politics of the Dreams author and Frank Marshall Davis. Also in 2012, Joel Gilbert’s Dreams from My Real Father, documented the remarkable physical similarities between the president and his beloved Frank. Republican candidate Mitt Romney ignored this material and would later call candidate Trump a “a phony, a fraud.” So Romney accepted the historical fiction and duly lost the election.

Back in 2008, the composite character set out to “fundamentally transform” the United States, already a top-heavy welfare state from the New Deal and Great Society programs. The 2008 winner transformed it into a state where the outgoing president picks his successor and deploys the deep state to clear her from any criminal charges and then attack her opponent.

That is the drama playing out since Donald Trump took the oath of office, first in the Russia hoax under Robert Mueller and now the Ukraine hoax under Adam Schiff.  As recent events confirm, leftist Democrats project onto others what they themselves are doing.

Democrats colluded with Russia, and charge that Trump did that. Democrats colluded with Ukraine and charge that Trump did that, and so forth. At the nadir of the absurdity, Nancy Pelosi tags president Trump an “imposter,”  more than a hint that Democrats have one of their own.

The composite character told the world the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. He assured Russian boss Dimitry Medvedev he would have “more flexibility” after the election and essentially gave the Russians everything they wanted. He deployed the deep state against political opponents and on his watch the economy barely had a pulse. So the people had good cause to reject his successor.

In what is now a criminal probe, Attorney General William Barr has John Durham looking into the 2016 election. Anti-Trump FBI drones Strzok and Page were on record that president Obama wanted to know “everything we’re doing.” And POTUS 44 was a recipient of emails sent through Hillary Clinton’s unsecure server, another reason the former First Lady had them destroyed.

“Let’s look into Obama the way they’ve looked at me from day one,” President Trump said in July. “They could look into the book deal that President Obama made. Let’s subpoena all of his records.” Plenty to see here, and much more interesting for the public than Schiff’s Stalinist show-trial.

The former Barry Soetoro, according to his official biographer a composite character in a fictional narrative, is the only president to have two identities. Barack Obama is the only imposter to occupy the White House. As President Trump likes to say, this should never happen again.

* * *
Photo by Gage Skidmore.


Lloyd Billingsley

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2019/11/pelosis-projection-lloyd-billingsley/

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Is Hamas Being Tamed? - Prof. Hillel Frisch


by Prof. Hillel Frisch

[T]he payoffs to Hamas enhance its firepower in possible future rounds, meaning that Israel has to reduce the payoffs as much as possible rather than as the center-left suggests, show largess towards Gaza.


Hamas militant, screen capture from Vimeo video

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,351, November 21, 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The wedge between Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the recent Gaza conflagration is a clear sign that Israel is deepening divisions between the two terror groups. Nevertheless, the payoffs to Hamas enhance its firepower in possible future rounds, meaning that Israel has to reduce the payoffs as much as possible rather than as the center-left suggests, show largess towards Gaza.

There are two possible solutions to the violence emanating from Gaza.

Either embark on a massive fourth round of conflict like the 2014 confrontation and hope that it will bring Hamas to non-belligerency, as the five wars between Israel and the Arab states did, or as arguably happened after Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 against the PA and Fatah; or adhere to the “taming Hamas” approach used by Netanyahu since “the Return processions” began at the end of March 2018, which minimizes the sticks and maximizes the “carrots” for keeping the peace.

Each of these two solutions have obvious drawbacks.

Initiating a massive round, including a ground offensive into Gaza, to exact a threshold of pain Hamas will not be able to tolerate, plays into the hands of Tehran’s regional strategy to use the Palestinian card to deflect the focus from its buildup in Syria, and entails other obvious costs in terms of lives and treasure.

The wider linkage to Iran and its prioritization, in Netanyahu’s strategic thinking, is what led him to adopt the taming paradigm of negotiating with Hamas to keep the peace on Israel’s southern border.

The costs of this strategy are equally obvious. Any carrots offered to Hamas (Blue and White under Benny Gantz will offer Hamas even more) might buy peace and ameliorate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but those same carrots will obviously be used to enhance the military capabilities of Hamas in the future. In other words, today’s carrots will be converted necessarily into sticks wielded by Hamas against Israel in the future.

Rest assured that as the welfare of Gaza’s population improves, Hamas will dig more and deeper tunnels and storage centers within Gaza itself, improve the firepower and payloads of its missiles and try to dig offensive tunnels into Israel – and this is all the more the case if it is provided with a deeper offshore port, the reopening of the airport and other projects that have been bandied by Blue and White and certain Likud leaders.

The recent bout of fighting, this time almost exclusively with Islamic Jihad, does not contribute to the debate as to which of these two strategies is correct. What this bout does clearly demonstrates is that the taming strategy is deepening its roots.

Enhancing division and bad blood among the ranks of one’s enemy is almost always an advantage. The partition of the Palestinians into two inimical governments in 2007 was clearly a boon for Israel, which continues to this round. Since then, when Gaza burns, the West Bank is quiet, and the opposite is also true. This was not true either in the 1987 intifada or the years of violence Arafat instigated against Israel in 2000. Conflict management obviously becomes easier for Israel. Notice the absence of demonstrations in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron during this latest conflagration.

This round’s novelty is the wedge Israel created between Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas may have rhetorically supported Islamic Jihad (and even then one can marshal evidence that much of the rhetoric was, between the lines, negative toward Islamic Jihad), but its lack of deeds can be construed as nothing less than betrayal. For two days, it joined forces with Palestinians in Ramallah and Hezbollah in the north, watching on the sidelines as Islamic Jihad was pummeled by the IDF, especially by the air force, after it removed the leading figure, Baha Abul Ata, who obstructed the taming strategy of payoffs to Hamas.

Just as Israel “tamed” the PA – in part because a after 2007, they faced a joint enemy: Hamas and Islamic Jihad – giving rise to unprecedented levels of security cooperation between the two, Israel and Hamas are cementing a mutual interest in weakening Islamic Jihad.

Hamas obviously looks at Israel’s might as a means of decreasing Islamic Jihad’s ability to threaten Hamas’s interests – one of which, as a mass party, is to stave off the possibility of popular rebellion against its rule by improving socioeconomic conditions in Gaza. This is hardly a concern Islamic Jihad, without a mass backing, has to worry about.

It is too early to tell to what extent this mutual interest between Israel and Hamas will make the split in Islamist Palestinian ranks as fixed and firm as the PA-Hamas standoff – or, from the other side of the coin, Israeli-PA cooperation. But there is no doubt that the taming strategy is beginning to work, though Hamas’s military dependence on Iran is clearly an obstacle to deepening the wedge.

As auspicious as this wedge in Islamist ranks may be, Israeli policymakers should always be aware of this strategy’s weakness – the failure to exact pain from Hamas that might encourage it to opt out of violence against Israel, in the way a strategy of massive Israeli retaliation might be able to do.

This means that Israel should give the fewest carrots and concessions possible, knowing full well that some of these carrots are quickly converted into firepower to be used against Israel in the future.

This also means scuttling the visions promoted by Gantz and Israeli think tanks such as the INSS who argue that Israeli sticks should be accompanied by a Marshal Plan of goodies to improve the welfare of Gaza’s inhabitants. That only worked after Germany and Japan were totally defeated and a mutual threat to the Western alliance, the Soviet Union, emerged.

Taming Hamas might be the best strategy within the wider regional strategy toward Iran, but placing the cart (a Marshal Plan) before the horse (massive punishment of Hamas) would cost many Israeli lives. Israel hardly needs another Oslo-like disaster, which confused painful realities with halcyon visions.

This is an edited version of an article published in Jerusalem Post on November 18.



Prof. Hillel Frisch is a professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies.

Source: https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/hamas-tamed/

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When Foreign and Domestic Radicals Collide, Congress Takes Notice - Cliff Smith and Sam Westrop


by Cliff Smith and Sam Westrop

Numerous terror-linked Islamist groups, including but not limited to ICNA, are openly bidding to make Kashmir their cause celebre.


A recent hearing on human rights in South Asia focused almost exclusively on the issue of Kashmir, a disputed region which is claimed, at least in part, by India, Pakistan, and China. Legislators and witnesses at the hearing spent a great deal of time denouncing the Indian government's response to the Pulwama attack of February 2019, in which terrorists killed 40 Indian police officers.










Pakistan's role in all this, however, went largely unmentioned. Just a few days before the hearing, Pakistani Sen. Sirajul Haq declared, "There is no resolution of the Kashmir problem except through jihad" and that "[t]he entire [Pakistani] nation is ready to fight against India."
Haq is the emir of Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan, a multinational radical Islamist movement with a decades long history of violence. It was recently banned in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir for supporting terrorists. As such, Haq's statement deserves more attention, not only because of the explosive nature of the Kashmir dispute, but because there is substantial evidence that American institutions, including the federal government, have been helping fund the violent jihad advocated by Haq.
Luckily, these terror finance links did not escape the attention of several members of Congress. A letter recently sent to State Department Counterterrorism Coordinator Nathan Sales by Reps. Jim Banks, R-Indiana, Chuck Fleishmann, R-Tennessee, and Randy Weber, R-Texas, lays out the evidence simply and convincingly.
One of Jamaat-e-Islami's proxy groups in the West is the Islamic Circle of North America, a large Islamic organization with branches all over the country, whose annual conferences attract thousands of supporters. According to Vali Nasr of Johns Hopkins University, ICNA is one of Jamaat-e-Islami's most important branches in the world. ICNA's various officials and branches have a long history of partnership with Jamaat-e-Islami's terror finance proxies and other South Asian terrorist groups.
For instance, the congressional letter cites numerous reports, first uncovered by the Middle East Forum, that ICNA's international aid branch, Helping Hand for Relief and Development, has openly organized events in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir with Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation, the charitable wing of the Pakistani terrorist organization, and Lashkar-e-Taiba, both of which are U.S.-designated terrorist organizations. The letter also mentions that HHRD has openly admitted to carrying out 214 different projects with al Khidmat, the official "welfare arm" of Jamaat-e-Islami, which publicly works with Hizbul Mujahedeen, the militant wing of Jamaat-e-Islami and a U.S-designated terrorist group, and openly finances Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization.
Perhaps even more disturbingly, the letter cites a recent federal case out of Connecticut in which Fareed Ahmed Khan, a Pakistani-American, was convicted of lying to the FBI during a counterterrorism investigation. Specifically, he denied involvement with ICNA and HHRD when, in fact, he served as the chief fundraiser for the local chapter. He also lied about shipments of medical equipment sent to his brother in Pakistan (believed to be part of a money laundering scheme). His brother, it emerged, is a committed supporter of both Falah-e-Insaniat and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
American support for Jamaat-e-Islami Islamism, however, is not always the product of its ideological proxies. South Asian Islamists also rely on the naivety of federal bureaucrats. ICNA has previously been the recipient of millions in DHS grants, and USAID has directly funded Jamaat schools in the Kashmir region.
The Banks letter is a necessary and important step in cracking down on funding jihadists in Kashmir. It set off a firestorm of coverage in South Asian media.
Numerous terror-linked Islamist groups, including but not limited to ICNA, are openly bidding to make Kashmir their cause celebre. Moreover, Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan (who, according to former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Husain Haqqani, has a long and deep relationship with Jamaat-e-Islami) recently gave a speech by video conference at an American Islamist conference, urging American Muslims to take up the issue of Kashmir.
It is outrageous and cynical for Khan to act thus, to try to leverage American Muslims in a foreign dispute so heavily overrun with terrorist organizations. There is an urgent need to rebuff such efforts.
Luckily, at least some members of Congress are calling out these brazen attempts to exploit both America's government and its Muslim communities as a piggy bank for Jamaat-e-Islami and its terrorist branches and associates. Let's hope the rest of Congress, those in the Trump administration, and the silent majority of American Muslims join them in putting a halt to this strategy.

Cliff Smith is the Washington project director of the Middle East Forum. 
Sam Westrop is the director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.


Source: https://www.meforum.org/islamist-watch/59945/when-foreign-and-domestic-radicals-collide

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