Saturday, November 1, 2014

Common Core Seizes Control of Future Internet Education - Jack Curtis

by Jack Curtis

As education follows retail out of brick-and-mortar buildings onto the internet, consumers widening choices clearly threaten government’s control of what the public’s kids are taught and what they are not taught.  Hence the current "Common Core" mandate, by which the federal government has enlisted the states to federalize the U.S. school curriculum, cutting off traditional local control.  Once you control what is taught, you needn’t care where, by whom, or how that is done, you have eliminated all competitors.

While the Common Core program is overtly directed at public, private and home elementary and secondary education, it quietly captures higher education as well, since control of the high school exits provides control of the college entrances.  Additionally, a bill now in Congress carries the Obama administration proposal to regulate private colleges that provide career training; that plus Common Core represents a fair start toward total federal control of U.S. education.  It seems telling that so comprehensive and far-reaching a shift in a democracy is not seen as newsworthy.

It’s obvious that some hundred and thirty thousand public K-12 campuses and their staffs are no longer cost-effective when the internet is an available replacement.  It is equally obvious that all those teachers and their unions and their Democratic lobbyists will not go quietly into that good net.  Taxpayer interests in a major reduction of school taxes will likely be ignored so long as those taxpayers remain quiescent.  Facing today’s economic uncertainties, the dissolution of public campuses seems unpredictable.  But no matter how it comes about, the replacement of physical schools by internet-delivered courses seems likely at some point, if only when government becomes unable to provide financing any longer.

Time will be needed to replace the other service now school-provided: the weekday incarceration of children, freeing parents (if "freeing" fits) to work.  In-home babysitters might once have been an affordable alternative, but states have been bringing home service providers under minimum wage/overtime protection and pushing them into unions.  The Obama administration has announced a six-month delay for similar federal rules.  This economic change plus workplace regulation seems likely to prevent daycares from offering significantly cheaper services than schools now provide.  A recent report said that in 31 states, day care already costs more than college attendance.  This increase in what was once a low-cost service is the direct result of government licensing, regulation, and wage controls, so the internet replacement of physical schools may be delayed even further.

From here on, we will be increasingly paying expensive teachers for what amounts to babysitting services for younger kids while the internet educates them.  The process is under way; internet content is already showing up in public schools.  It seems likely to expand faster than teachers’ rosters are likely to diminish.

High schools may be a different matter; kids of those ages should be able to be instructed at home, alone if necessary, although we should expect a fuss over "socializing" and sports.  Those can be provided much cheaper for home-schooled kids by the private sector.  A more legitimate issue will be the provision of hands-on shop training, though that too can be privatized.  In a return to yesteryear, perhaps high-schoolers could be employed part-time outside the home in addition to their schoolwork.  Not only would that help sustain the home; it would provide valuable, presently missing work experience for the students and perhaps allow more small businessmen to forego illegal employees.  Democrats and unions, however, will not like the idea...

At the moment, phasing out physical schools seems a carrot on the far end of a long stick.  However, U.S. city, county, state, and federal governments include too many in poor to very poor financial condition, often related to inadequately funded pension plans.  The plans may have been adequately designed at one time, but the Federal Reserve’s long suppression of interest rates and inflationary government policies have overtaken them while politicians have ignored the problem. All know of the federal debt and deficits to be resolved.  So government’s ability to continue financing large, costly services is coming under increasing pressure.

This goldmine’s canary is Detroit, currently struggling with a highly politicized bankruptcy, perhaps to be followed by Chicago and Illinois generally while many other cities and some states face similar challenges.  Divestiture of the huge expense of public schools could help a great deal.  The underfunded pensions cannot be dodged indefinitely; the baby boomers are now retirees, and their impact will continue to swell the demands for the inadequate pension resources.  They aren’t going to wait.  State and local governments will have to follow Detroit, Stockton, San Bernardino, and other cities into bankruptcy or obtain the needed money from public workers, taxpayers, or both.  Such needs may overcome political resistance to restructuring education.  

In any case, Common Core is a pre-emptive federal takeover of local education that will survive transition to the internet.  For as little attention as it’s receiving, it’s quite a power-grab.  Too, it carries some unadvertised consequences; the likely collapse of private schools will be one.  Why pay private tuition for your kids to learn what comes free over the internet?  Common Core is aimed at private schools, too, and free public K-12 education is already available online.  Some private education will likely avoid Common Core and command high tuitions, but it seems unwise to expect very many such institutions.  The present Catholic educational system faces a particular challenge as public education continues its ongoing divergence from Catholic doctrine while mandated mass testing relies upon Common Core curricula.

It’s amusing, after a fashion, that the Progressives so enamored of "diversity" are so dead set against any diversity in educating citizens.  The suspicious will use "brainwash" in lieu of "education" here, and if one recalls the works of John Dewey, the patron saint of the progressive education movement, the avowed goal is exactly to turn out useful and amenable citizens, and expressly not to educate critical thinkers who tend to be troublesome.  Regardless, Common Core is here; even a number of Republican governors have adopted it.  We may as well relax and enjoy it...

Jack Curtis


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Democrats’ Voter ID Lies - John Perazzo

by John Perazzo

With a perfectly straight face, Barack Obama recently told Al Sharpton’s National Action Network that “the real voter fraud is the people who try to deny our [voting] rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud.” Eric Holder likewise contends, without even a hint of a grin, that voter ID laws are merely “political efforts” designed to make it “more difficult” for nonwhite minorities to “have access to the ballot.” And Hillary Clinton, too, casually dismisses voter fraud as a “phantom epidemic” that exists chiefly in the imagination of conservatives. Democrat consultant Donna Brazile puts it more colorfully, calling charges of voter fraud “a big ass lie.”

As they twist their faces into pained and pious countenances to give the appearance of passion and sincerity, these four individuals—along with all the other leading Democrats who invariably spout the same tripe—have only one significant thing in common: None of them actually believe even a word that they say about the rarity of voter fraud or the alleged injustice of voter ID requirements. In the privacy of their hearts, their efforts are devoted chiefly to refraining from laughing out loud at the absurd stupidities that they parrot ceaselessly—like Eric Holder’s claim that voter ID requirements are the equivalent of “poll taxes.” If the Democrats were honest, they would simply say the following:
We are moral crusaders who believe that the conservative vision of the world is evil beyond measure, and that our vision of an ever-expanding central government that controls the economy, regulates every aspect of people’s lives, and redistributes everyone’s wealth and property as we deem appropriate, is by far the better course. And because our objectives are so much better for humankind as a whole, we are resolutely committed to using any means at our disposal to achieve them. Thus we will deceive, lie, cheat, and steal anything—including elections. That’s why we’re not at all ashamed of playing the role of imbeciles when we promote the vapid idiocies that we cite as reasons to oppose voter ID laws.
But instead of making honest declarations like these, the Democrats instead pretend to be unaware of very well-known facts like the following:

•A 2012 report by the Pew Center on the States found that 24 million voter registrations—an incredible one-eighth of all registrations nationwide—were either invalid or inaccurate, including almost 3 million people who were registered in more than one state, and more than 1.8 million dead people who were still registered.

•A 2014 study found that two years earlier, some 155,692 registered voters in North Carolina alone had first and last names, birth dates, and final four Social Security number digits that matched those of voters who were registered in other states.

•The same study also found that 35,570 people who had actually voted in North Carolina, had first names, last names, and birth dates dates that matched those of voters who had cast ballots in other states.

•On election day 2013, undercover agents from New York City’s Department of Investigations (DOI) went to 63 different polling places and assumed the names of individuals who were ineligible to vote because they had either died, moved out of town, or been incarcerated. In 61 of the 63 instances, or 97% of the time, the agents were allowed to vote.

•In 2008, Democrat Al Franken won a highly controversial U.S. Senate race in Minnesota by just 312 votes. It was later discovered that 1,099 felons—all legally ineligible to vote—had nonetheless cast ballots in the election, almost exclusively for Franken. Consider this: Without Franken, the Democrats would not have had the 60 Senate votes they needed in order to pass Obamacare in 2010.

•A 2006 study found 77,000 dead people listed on New York’s statewide database of registered voters, and many of them had somehow managed to cast ballots from the grave. One Bronx address in particular was identified as the home of as many as 191 of these registered voter-corpses.

•In Milwaukee in 2004, approximately 5,300 more ballots were cast than voters who were recorded as having shown up at the polls.

•In 2008, election officials nationwide had to discard at least 400,000 bogus voter registrations submitted by ACORN, the infamous, Obama-affiliated criminal operation masquerading as a “community organization.” No one knows how many other invalid registrations were never detected.

•In 2011, a Colorado study found that of the nearly 12,000 non-citizens who were registered to vote in that state, about 5,000 had taken part in the 2010 general election.

•In ten Colorado counties in 2012, voter registrations outnumbered the total voting-age population by between 4% and 40%.

•In a forthcoming article in the journal Electoral Studies, university professors Jesse Richman and David Earnest conclude that a significant number of non-citizens—who support Democrats about 80% of the time—vote in U.S. elections, and that “their participation can change the outcome of close races.”

These examples represent only the barest tip of a colossal iceberg. And Obama, Holder, Hillary, and the rest of the Democrats know all about it, just like you and I know all about it. They really aren’t dumb enough to believe any of the things they say about voter fraud and voter ID. They’re just counting on voters being dumb enough to believe them. It’s that simple.

For extensive information about — and examples of — Election and Voter Fraud, please see here and here.

Michael Bauer’s research was vital to the composition of this article.

John Perazzo


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Untold Story of City of David - Nadav Shragai

by Nadav Shragai

Hamas and Fatah extremists are exasperated by a little-known island of Israeli-Palestinian coexistence • Jewish and Arab toddlers race each other in the streets, their parents engage in mutual support • Our weapon is peace, say City of David residents.

The City of David - Silwan
Photo credit: Uri Lenz

Nadav Shragai


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

How Obama’s Weakness Is Emboldening ISIS and Iran - Majid Rafizadeh

by Majid Rafizadeh

Iranian leaders, particularly the senior cadres of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, as well as Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have successfully sensed, invested in, and exploited the White House’s weaknesses and hesitation in following up on its words.

When it comes to Syria, President Obama has sent a strong signal to the Islamic Republic that Washington would not dare cross Iran’s influence in the country. On several occasions, when President Bashar Al Assad and his armed forces crossed President Obama’s multiple red lines, President Obama decided to sit at the margin, not taking action, which led to the questioning of US credibility.

This projection of weakness has not only empowered the Islamic Republic, its military activities, and intervention in other countries in the Middle East, but has also emboldened extremists groups such as the Islamic State.

The Islamic Republic no longer hides its military, financial, intelligence, and advisory assistance to Assad, and it does not shy away from its engagements in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, or other regional nations. Groups such as the powerful Iranian-backed Shia Badr brigade are being publicly utilized in Iraq. The fighters from Hezbollah (Lebanon’s pro-Iranian Shiite movement) and Quds forces (an elite branch of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps), have been publicly operating in several foreign territories. This issue has been significantly instrumental in tipping the balance of power in favor of the Syrian government, as well as keeping Assad in power after more than three years of the conflict in Syria.

General Qassem Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds force (an elite branch of the IRGC), who has always kept a low profile, is now boasting about his army’s presence in Iraq. Suleimani has been taking professional pictures for the sake of publicity for the Iranian government. Iranian state TV has also been showing the pictures of Suleimani in foreign territories and pointing to the Islamic Republic’s indispensable power and influence in the Middle East. In addition, Yadollah Javani, a senior adviser to Khamenei, recently stated that “Baghdad was prevented from falling because of the presence and assistance of the Islamic republic.”

These moves are unprecedented in the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy, and they highlight a crucial strategic shift in the Iranian leader’s tactics, mission, regional hegemonic ambitions, and search for regional supremacy in the Middle East. Iranian leaders are attempting to reassert their power and supremacy in the Middle East more publicly, as well as sending the signal to other states that Iran is in fact the sole regional power to rely on rather than the United States and Western allies.

In addition, through their media and TV outlets, Iranian leaders have been trying to circulate an image of Iran to the Iranian people, that the Islamic Republic can defeat the Islamic State by itself and act as a regional power. For example, Amirali Hajizadeh, the airforce commander of Iran’s Revoluationary Guard Corps, confirmed the presence General Qassem Suleimani in Iraq on Iran’s national TV, adding “If it wasn’t for Iran’s help, Iraq’s Kurdistan would have fallen into the hands of Daesh.”

Currently, the Islamic Republic’s strong position is that Iran is drawing red lines for the United States. More fundamentally, President Obama seems to have accepted and recognized Iran’s red lines with regards to Assad, and the White House appears to overlook or appease the Islamic Republic’s objectives in that regard. Since the White House has been indirectly cooperating and coordinating aerial and ground battles against the Islamic State, President Obama has come to the understanding that he will carry out an appeasement policy towards Iran’s role in the region, its military involvement in Syria, and Iran-Iraq ties.

For Washington, the battle against the Islamic State is at the top of its foreign policy agenda. The future Assad, his use of brute force, and Iran’s IRGC assistances have definitely become secondary and marginal objectives to tackle. In addition, Iran’s nuclear ambitions have also slid to the sidelines of the US and Western allies’ objectives, as the battle against the Islamic State goes on. The US, the major negotiator in the p5+1 group (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), has significantly softened its position towards Iran’s nuclear program by favoring policies such as nuclear containment rather than dismantlement of Tehran’s nuclear infrastructure. This follows that Iran might be allowed, like Japan, to be a nuclear threshold state.

President Obama’s foreign policy of compartmentalization – which focuses on the Islamic Republic’s assistance in defeating the Islamic State while overlooking all other activities of the Islamic Republic — will lead to costly long-term and short-term outcomes. The most effective approach is to simultaneously address the Islamic Republic’s multi-dimensional functions across the Middle East, including its military, financial intelligence, advisory assistance to President Bashar Al Assad, military involvements in Iraq and Yemen, the involvement of pro-Iranian and pro-Shiite proxies and militias in the region, as well as Iran’s nuclear ambitions. This comprehensive strategy will address some of the crucial underlying factors behind the crisis in the Middle East, including the rise of extremist groups such as the Islamic State. By not taking Iran’s nuanced role in the Middle East seriously, and by turning a blind eye to all Iranian military activities in Syria and other countries –due to the notion the Islamic Republic is assisting the United States and Western allies in their fighting campaign against the Islamic State — will solely ratchet up the conflict and eventually lead to significant blows to American national security, political and economic interests.

Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a former senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


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In the Middle East, No Permanent Friends. Only Permanent Interests - Jeffrey L, Scribner

by Jeffrey L, Scribner

President Obama may have indeed dropped the ball in Iraq by not forcing a status of forces agreement and departing too soon, leaving a vacuum.  He also dropped the ball in Syria by not quickly supporting the (non-terrorist) opposition to Assad.  Now competing interests in the Middle East are providing opportunities and pitfalls for the Obama administration’s effort or non-effort to salvage U.S. interests or at least not take any severe further losses there.

Several cross currents are working in the Middle East.  One is the Egyptian and Saudi push to marginalize or eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood (aka Hamas).  This creates an unusual de facto alliance between Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel on the one hand and Turkey, and Qatar, as supporters of The Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas on the other.  Turkey's and Qatar’s interests align with the Saudi group, however, when it comes to the Assad regime in Syria.  Turkey is interested in helping almost anyone fight Assad. ISIS (aka ISIL) is sensationally added to the mix by their military activities in Syria against Assad, in Lebanon against Hezb'allah, their rapid penetration into Iraq and their threat to Baghdad and the interests of Iran.

ISIS number some 10,000 to 30,000 fighters, including some foreign to any of the countries in the area.  They have had some effect against the Assad regime and some other interests in Syria and have moved rapidly in Iraq due to very poor performance of the Iraqi Army.  ISIS has also threatened territory in Jordan and Lebanon.  The ISIS personnel are not very nice guys and have ideas a lot like the Taliban in Afghanistan – but even more extreme.  They could also turn out to be friendly to the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas.  However, ISIS are also contributing to the interests of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey vs. Iran and Iran’s clients, Assad in Syria, and Hezb'allah in Lebanon, in the very old and possibly most important contest: Sunni vs. Shia.  The outcome probably desired by the Saudi group is that all of the ISIS gains in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq might provide a line, as far east as possible, somewhere in Iraq where everything to the west of that line will be Sunni and to the east Shiite.  In addition, the Saudi group would like to see defeat of the Alawite in Syria (Assad’s supporters) and their compatriots, Hezb'allah of Lebanon, both of whom are “clients” of Shiite Iran.  The Saudis must think they can control the remnants of ISIS along with the remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood when the smoke clears.

Yet another position may be developing here.  Officials of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government in Turkey have announced that Turkey will no longer oppose the creation of an independent Kurdistan.  At the same time, the Kurds, acting as an autonomous province of Iraq, are asking for and getting some air support from Iraqi and U.S. air assets in their attempt to keep ISIS out of their province.  The Kurds are also asking the U.S. for arms and ammunition so that they can provide the manpower on the ground to fight ISIS.  The Kurds have a long border to defend from ISIS.

Our long-term interests may well rest generally with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and Kurdistan (if it emerges).  However, it may be very painful for us to realize that after working so hard to build up Iraq, we had to watch the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and loss of influence there.  Whereupon Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki purged his armed forces and government of capable Sunni leadership and threw in his lot with Iran and Shiite sectarian favoritism.  Iraq is now trying to retreat at least a little from this by giving Sunni and Kurdish politicians in Baghdad more visibility.  This may well be too little, too late for the Sunnis of Iraq.

We will now have to watch the cross-currents of  struggle intently and chose our own moves carefully to achieve a solution that might be more stable than the one we tried to install in Iraq, blinded as we were by considerations of unitary democracy and lines drawn after WWI.

The right solution for Iraq may well have been a loose federation.  Such a solution may still be possible.  Otherwise, we are likely to see a rump Iraq dominated by Iran, an enlarged Syria, an independent Kurdistan, and maybe even another Sunni country between Syria and Baghdad.  The political border drawings of post-WWI may now be revised as dictated by historical sectarian imperatives and divisions. 

We can take some lessons from all of this.  First, the drawing of borders and artificial creation of countries as was done after WWI is really only a guarantee of future problems. 

Second, we have erred in trying to enforce the misguided post-WWI borders and artificial states.  But we have erred even more by replacing power centers in the area with our own and then withdrawing and creating a power vacuum. 

Third, the current attempt to rectify the post-WWI folly involves force and the participation of some very unsavory players.  We have to quickly find a way to control or mitigate the activities of these players, or to assist someone in the area (like the Saudis or the Turks) to do that. 

Fourth, we must also realize that all of the players in the area (and some outside it) have interests, and we must therefore choose our actions carefully and with good knowledge of whose interests will be aided or opposed by such action.  We must decide which interests of ours coincide with or oppose the interests of other players and carefully time our actions so that we can serially achieve our goals.  Even if we have to support something we don’t like to get to a point where we can fix that, too.  We don’t have to get everything in the first bite or go directly to the endpoint.

Fifth, it may be essential to get more equipment to the Kurds and support them more from the air.  Who else in the area would be interested in this?  Suppose the Kurds were to agree to go on the defensive in the east and the offensive in the Kurdish areas of Syria adjacent to Turkey.  Would Turkey be interested in helping with this?

We have enough wherewithal to adequately support the Kurds, Israelis, and Jordanians without many, if any, of our fighters on the ground.  But at this point, timing might be everything in snatching victory from defeat in the Middle East.

Jeff Scribner is a retired Army officer and president of ASI Enterprises, Inc., an investment bank serving small- and medium-sized businesses.  He can be reached at


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Brookings Scholars Hawk Qatar's Hamas Talking Points - Steven Emerson, John Rossomando and Dave Yonkman

by Steven Emerson, John Rossomando and Dave Yonkman - IPT News

Since the beginning of Brookings' relationship with Qatar in 2002, its scholars have increasingly advocated that U.S. policymakers open a direct channel to Hamas – a position in keeping with Qatar's foreign policy.

Sheik Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family who chairs the Brooking Doha Center (BDC)'s advisory council, made Qatar's position clear, according to a quote found in a secret December 2005 cable written by then-Ambassador Chase Untermeyer, on the eve of the January 2006 Palestinian elections.

"We shouldn't exclude Hamas. It makes Hamas look like the real Palestinians. To isolate them is to repeat mistakes made in many places," the cable released by Wikileaks said.

In recent years, Qatar's leadership has emerged as one of Hamas's biggest financial and political backers.

Other State Department cables disclosed by Wikileaks quoted Brookings' patron, and former Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani's wife, describing her husband as "a big friend of Hamas."

Qatar pledged $50 million to support Hamas in 2006, and the former emir pledged another $400 million to Hamas' cash-strapped government in Gaza during an October 2012 state visit. Its funding of Hamas continues despite the accession of Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to the Qatari throne following his father's abdication last year. Current Prime Minister Abdullah bin Naser bin Khalifa Al Thani announced in June that Qatar would give Hamas $60 million to pay salaries of the terror group's public servants. Earlier this month, Qatar pledged $1 billion to help rebuild Gaza after Hamas provoked a war with Israel by firing rockets at civilian communities. No strings were attached to the pledge.

Furthermore, the Qatari government also has frustrated American efforts to isolate Hamas.

Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal lived in Qatar from 1999 until 2001 following his expulsion from Jordan. Meshaal told Al-Hayat in 2003 that Al Thani assisted his 1999 entry into Qatar and that he had maintained a "personal relationship" with the then-Qatari foreign minister.

Meshaal moved back to Qatar in February 2012 after the start of Syria's civil war.

Israel's United Nations Ambassador Ron Prosor pointed his finger at Qatar in an August New York Times op-ed, blaming the Gulf state for every rocket and tunnel aimed at Israel, saying they were "made possible through a kind donation from the emir of Qatar." Prosor described Qatar as a "Club Med for terrorists" for harboring Meshaal, influential Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Abdul Rahman Omeir al-Naimi, a Qatari history professor the U.S. Treasury Department designated last year as an al-Qaida financier.

Qatari technology allegedly helped Hamas build sophisticated cyber systems in tunnels and above ground to attack Israel. Nearly 70 percent of cyber-attacks against Israel during this summer's Gaza war originated from Qatari-associated IP addresses. Sensors provided by the Gulf state in Hamas tunnels alerted the terrorists to approaching Israeli soldiers, and Qatari cloud-based software enabled Hamas to remotely fire its rockets, the Times of Israel reported.

Brookings portrays Qatar's relations with Hamas in a positive light, setting the country up as a mediator between the terrorist group and Israel.

Sultan Barakat, research director with the Qatar-based Brookings Doha Center (BDC), downplayed Egypt's traditional role as Mideast peacemaker in a July column on Barakat asserted that Egypt's post-Muslim Brotherhood government might not be in a good position to broker a ceasefire. Qatar, on the other hand, "is one of the few regional actors that have maintained strong ties to (and perhaps influence over) Hamas' leadership." That makes Qatar, the BDC's sponsoring country, a better partner for Western powers.

Barakat suggested that "Western powers might find themselves having to look for help from a different partner: Qatar," Barakat wrote, giving a nod to the BDC's sponsoring country. "Under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt has proven more adept at securing the backing of politicians and diplomats in Tel Aviv, Washington and New York for a peace initiative than it has at reaching out to Palestinians."

Despite Barakat's concerns, Egypt ultimately brokered the August agreement that ended the latest round of Hamas' fighting with Israel.

Reports in the Arabic press indicate that Qatar had threatened to expel Meshaal from the country if he agreed to Egypt's cease-fire terms in July.

Spreading disinformation about Hamas

Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr's sentiments can also be found in the body of work of numerous Brookings scholars who argue that Hamas is willing to disarm or recognize Israel's right to exist.

Numerous articles lend Brookings' credibility to the false notion that Hamas's 1988 charter calling for Palestinian Muslims to fight Israel "until liberation is achieved" no longer has relevance or to the notion that Hamas wants peaceful coexistence with Israel. Consequently, they argue that the U.S. should talk directly with Hamas.

"While the Palestinian Islamist group's status and circumstances differ from those of other Islamist movements around the region, its continued shunning by Washington may be just as outdated and counterproductive," wrote Saban Center for Middle East Policy Visiting Fellow Khaled Elgindy, in an April 2012 article suggesting the U.S. should talk directly with a designated terrorist group. "Hamas remains a major force in Palestinian politics, one that cannot be wished away or boycotted out of existence."

Elgindy latched onto an "omission of language calling for Israel's destruction" from the 2006 Hamas electoral platform to argue that the 1988 charter had lost its meaning. He argued that Hamas leaders accept the principle of a two-state solution based upon Israel's pre-1967 borders.

"Hamas officials have hinted at a willingness to move away from armed struggle in favor of nonviolent popular resistance," he wrote. The "risks of ignoring or isolating" Hamas exceeded worries about legitimizing the terrorist group.

Apparently Elgindy failed to notice Meshaal's January 2006 statement to Al-Jazeera undercutting his thesis.

"As for recognizing [Israel] and amending our charter – Hamas is not the kind of movement that succumbs to pressure," Meshaal said. "If people raise the issue of targeting civilians – we have said and we continue to say that when our enemy stops targeting civilians, we will make the same commitment."

Meshaal repeatedly reiterated the terrorist group's refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist in subsequent years.

"First of all, Palestine – from the (Jordan) River to the (Mediterranean) Sea, from its north to its south – is our right and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it," Meshaal said in the speech carried on Al-Aqsa TV. "Second, Palestine was, continues to be, and will remain Arab and Islamic.

"Palestine belongs to us and to nobody else."

Meshaal further discredited Elgindy's thesis regarding Hamas' willingness to disarm in August when he called the terror group's armed wing's weapons "sacred."

"The issue is not up for negotiations. No one can disarm Hamas and its resistance," Meshaal said.

An idealistic search for "moderates" in Hamas peppers the research of many of Elgindy's colleagues who similarly look in vain for a Hamas path on the road to peace. They contend that engagement will encourage Hamas to abandon terrorism and become a non-violent political party.

Hamas is not a "monolithic entity," BDC Director Salman Shaikh wrote in a 2012 oped published by CNN. Not all Hamas members were "focused on resistance."

"The international community – and Israel – should work with the newly emerged regional troika of Egypt-Turkey-Qatar to engage with Hamas and strengthen Hamas' pragmatic wing. Given the strength of its ties, though, Iran could still prove to be a spoiling influence," Shaikh wrote.

Shaikh may have exposed his feelings about Hizballah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Hamas during a June 2013 forum held at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. He described Hizballah, PIJ and other Palestinian terrorist groups as the "axis of resistance" against Israel within the context of Iran's policies in the Middle East.

A March article written by Brookings scholar Neven Bondokji, a joint visiting fellow with Qatar University, similarly sought to portray Hamas as being on the road to moderation.

Bondokji's article, "The Nationalist versus the Religious: Implications for Peace with Hamas," suggests that Hamas should no longer be viewed as a "violent, Islamist and terrorist organization." The international community ignores the supposed transformation within the terrorist group over the past 15 years.

"High-ranking members of Hamas have asserted that Hamas is a constantly changing and self-transforming movement," Bondokji wrote. "One major shift in Hamas political ideology that emerged from my research is the shift from religious ideology to nationalism.

"In this, Hamas seems to be part of a broader trend of mainstream Islamic parties that sooner or later have to come to terms with the fact that an all-inclusive [pan-Islamic]-based ideology is not practical in today's political scene."

She also claims Hamas' public-relations shift from using the term "jihad" to terms such as "hudna" and "resistance" cannot be ignored. A hudna is a temporary truce rather than a permanent peace under Islamic law.

"Hamas' earlier communiqués specifically attacked Jews and portrayed the conflict between Judaism and Islam," Bondokji wrote. "Today, Hamas draws clear lines between Jews and Judaism on the one hand, and Israeli state policies and Zionism as a nationalist ideology on the other."

Those word choices illustrate a shift in ideology from that of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, who "argued forcefully that Islamic solidarity precedes the national struggle," Bondokji asserted. This, she wrote, fosters the possibility of a positive outcome between Israel and Hamas.

Brookings' Tamara Cofman Wittes made similar arguments in 2008, against calling Hamas and Hizballah "primarily Islamist groups," instead describing them as "nationalist militants." Doing so obscures the "search for solutions to the problems these groups pose for democratic politics." The Muslim Brotherhood liked it so much that it republished the article on its English-language website.

Contrary to Bondokji's and Wittes' assertions that Hamas has evolved from a religious cause into a strictly nationalist movement like Fatah, Hamas leaders continue to say that Israel's destruction would facilitate restoration of the Caliphate. Its long-term aims reach beyond leveling Israel and replacing it with a Palestinian Islamic state.

"We anticipate further victories, in which we shall liberate our land, Allah willing. We shall liberate our Al-Aqsa Mosque, and our cities and villages, as a prelude to the establishment of the future Islamic Caliphate," Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad said in a November 2013 address in Gaza. "Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are at the threshold of a global Islamic civilization era. The fuel and spearhead of this era will be Gaza, and its mujahideen and leaders will be from Gaza, Allah willing."

Hamas legislator and cleric Yunis al-Astal similarly commented on the Caliphate in a 2011 interview with Al-Aqsa TV. Former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh proclaimed in July 2012 that the Arab Spring would "introduce the era of the Caliphate."

Brookings also pushes the argument that engagement and reconciliation between Hamas and its rival Fatah faction will lead to peace.

"Certainly, the conquest of Gaza may be a prominent signal that the hard-liners have triumphed; however, the international community has not given the moderates within Hamas any incentives to cooperate," Brookings scholar Stacie L. Pettyjohn wrote in a 2007 column in Beirut's Daily Star following Hamas' victory over Fatah in that year's conflict between the two Palestinian factions. "… [T]errorist organizations only gradually forgo violence and commit to a political process.

"Therefore, it is important to discover whether there are moderates within Hamas, and if this happens to be the case, to strengthen them," Pettyjohn continued. "To do so, the international community needs to end its policy of blanket isolationism, which only weakens the pragmatists, and adopt a policy of conditional engagement in order to promote cooperation."

Pettyjohn's column claimed that a power-sharing arrangement between Hamas and Fatah could "resurrect the peace process."

Reality proved to be quite different. The two factions reached such an agreement in April 2014.

Instead of taking steps toward peace, Hamas reaffirmed its commitment to Israel's destruction and provoked more than a month of bloodshed with the Jewish state. Recognizing Israel was a "red line" the terrorist group would never cross, Hamas deputy political chief Mousa abu Marzook noted in May. Its fighters will not lay down their arms.

Contrary to Brookings' assertions of a new moderation in Hamas, talk of jihad flowed from the lips of Hamas propagandists during the summer violence. The Hamas Interior Ministry wrote in a Facebook posting in July that everyone killed in the fighting should be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine before discussing "his status in jihad or his military rank." Other recent invocations of the term "jihad" include a cartoon that appeared on Hamas TV praising the terror group's military wing during an October 2013 broadcast.

"Today, the Zionist occupation knows who the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades are, and it knows that thousands of young fighters are prepared to be martyred for the sake of Allah, until this land is liberated," the Hamas TV spot said. "The battle of the minds shows that Al-Qassam is a powerful tenacious rival, whose men are heroes, educated in the mosques and possessing the spirit of Jihad."

Brookings' wishful thinking concerning Hamas with Ambassador Martin Indyk, the former Obama peace negotiator and current vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program, who engineered the outreach with Hamad Jassim bin Jabr Al Thani.

Indyk and Al Thani devised the partnership following the September 11, 2001 attacks, first hosting a series of conferences in Doha starting in 2002 and later with the establishment of the Brookings Doha Center (BDC) in 2008.

During his tenure as the Obama administration's chief peace negotiator between Israel and the Palestinians ending in July, Indyk served as an anonymous source for multiple stories casting Israel as the culprit for the talks' failure.

Indyk slammed Israel recently, describing the Jewish state's attitude toward the United States as "disrespect." He noted that U.S. taxpayers underwrite Israel's defense budget to the tune of $3 billion.

"On the Israeli side I see something which I'm really, really disturbed by, which is the total disrespect on the part of some on the right in Israel for the relationship with the United States," Indyk reportedly told a Washington, D.C. congregation according a Washington Free Beacon report. "And that manifests itself with right wing politicians standing up excoriating our leaders, who are trying to do their best for Israel."

Parroting Anti-Israel Talking Points

Hamas refuses to relinquish its weapons and stop smuggling them into Gaza, but some Brookings scholars advocate a unilateral end to Israel's blockade on the territory.

"The hope for Israel is that a long-term cease-fire would, over time, produce its own momentum. Peace would push leaders from attacking Israel. Hamas' military capabilities might grow, but it would be reluctant to risk any economic improvements in Gaza in another round of fighting," Brookings scholar Daniel Byman wrote in a fall 2010 Foreign Affairs article. "A cease-fire that allowed goods to flow into Gaza would make it harder for Hamas to blame all its constituents' problems on Israel.

"Right now, Hamas gains from the perception that Israel and the international community seek to crush the Palestinians," Byman continued. "Opening the crossings into Gaza would dispel this impression and place Hamas in a difficult spot politically: it would have to give up either on resistance or governance."

Byman also suggested that refusing to deal with Hamas would "only make the situation worse" and weaken Palestinian moderates.

In a 2012 paper, Byman suggested that Hamas could be counted on to fight al-Qaida and its local sympathizers in Gaza.

"Hamas possesses tremendous credibility in the Gaza Strip—gained by its struggle against Israel—that amplifies its rebuff of al-Qa'ida. Specifically, Hamas's Muslim Brotherhood philosophy, its social and political wings, and its willingness to compromise on issues like elections and temporary ceasefires with Israel are all rejections of al-Qa'ida and its teachings," Byman wrote.

Considering its refusal to disarm and its continuing reaffirmation of its desire to destroy Israel, such a recommendation exhibits a naïve understanding of Hamas. Repeated statements by its leaders indicate that Hamas remains committed to its religiously motivated ideology, and that secular considerations will accomplish little in convincing them to renounce violence.

Brookings scholars reject Israel's right to defend itself and downplay Hamas rocket attacks in other works.

"If Israel has the right to defend itself by launching air strikes that have destroyed Palestinian homes and schools, then surely Palestinians have the right to protect themselves from the brutal and escalating Israeli violence," Ibrahim Sharqieh, deputy director of the BDC, wrote in a July 11, 2014 column on "To forestall another war, and to prevent further brutality against civilians, Washington needs to take immediate measures to avoid the hypocrisy of legitimizing Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians under the guise of 'self-defense.'"

Israel engages in "collective punishment" by maintaining the blockade, he said, agreeing with Secretary of State John Kerry that the Jewish state "risks becoming an 'apartheid state.'"

Elgindy similarly contends that Israel's security depends upon ending its occupation of the West Bank and the lifting of its blockade of Gaza even though Hamas leaders refuse to consider relinquishing their weapons.

Byman slammed Israel's effort to defend itself from rocket attacks against its civilian population, claiming the Jewish state engaged in "disproportionate military operations" in a July 24 Foreign Policy article titled, "An Eye for a Tooth."

"Such disproportional military operations strike at the heart of 'just-war theory' and the way of warfare embraced by the militaries of the United States and other Western countries," Byman wrote.

These analyses gloss over Hamas' intentional and illegal use of densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip to launch rockets against Israel. It also conveniently ignores Hamas' role in provoking Israel. A Hamas training manual captured by Israel Defense Forces instructed the terror group's members to build and store bombs in their homes to evade detection by Israeli intelligence.

Evidence shows that Hamas intentionally manipulated death-toll figures to inflate the numbers reported in the press. Hamas told Palestinians living in Gaza to pass disinformation to the foreign press. An independent BBC tally of the casualties reveals a high proportion of combat-age men.

Brookings scholars further Qatar's foreign policy aims concerning Hamas and other Islamist groups by continuously repeating their talking points. In the process, they provide Hamas with undeserved legitimacy and present Western decision-makers with a distorted view of the world.

It was Kerry himself, when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who dared to raise his voice against Qatar's continuing support for Hamas when he said at a 2009 Brookings forum: "Qatar, for example, cannot continue to be an American ally on Monday that sends money to Hamas on Tuesday."

He was swimming against the tide, denouncing the road that Qatar and Brookings clearly opted to travel years ago. But when he became Secretary of State, Kerry's views of Qatar suddenly shifted as he anointed Qatar as the interlocutor for the ceasefire talks between Hamas and Israel. That shift proved to be the ultimate prize for Qatar in its quest for legitimacy in its multi-million dollar campaign in buying off Brookings. It had now bought off the Obama administration.

Steven Emerson, John Rossomando and Dave Yonkman - IPT News


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