Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Countdown to the Next Gaza Conflict Has Begun - Yaakov Lappin

by Yaakov Lappin

Hamas could, with a fair amount of ease, cause Israel to end its security blockade by accepting the terms of the international Quartet. These include recognizing the state of Israel, renouncing violence and abiding by past agreements.
Of course, those would contravene Hamas's ideology of Islamist jihad and move it away from its current trajectory of organized violence and religious hatred, the foundations upon which it was established in the 1980s by the Muslim Brotherhood.
For now, it seems, Hamas will try, as it has been doing for months, to orchestrate terrorism in the West Bank, on the opposite side of Israel, while upholding its truce in Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces, too, has spent recent months preparing to respond if there is a fresh round of hostilities.

More than three months have passed since the end of the fifty-day conflict between Hamas in Gaza and Israel this past summer, yet all of the catalysts that helped spark that war remain in place and are pushing the sides into their next clash.

Thousands of armed Hamas troops showed off their military hardware at a Dec. 14, 2014 parade in Gaza, marking the organization's 27th anniversary. (Image source: PressTV video screenshot)

One of the reasons Hamas launched a war in July this year was to try to end its strategic isolation, which became severe after the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood in next-door Egypt. Hamas also sought to improve its crumbling economic situation as the ruler of the Gaza Strip; its dire situation was illustrated by Hamas's inability to pay 40,000 of its Gazan employees their monthly salaries.

Hamas could, with a fair amount of ease, cause Israel to end its security blockade by accepting the terms of the international Quartet. These would include recognizing the state of Israel, renouncing violence and abiding by previous diplomatic agreements. Of course, those would contravene Hamas's ideology of Islamist jihad and move it away from its current trajectory of organized violence and religious hatred, the foundations upon which it was established in the 1980s by Palestinian members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Today, however, the same problems that plagued Hamas prior to the summer war have become worse. Gaza is hemmed in to the south by a hostile Egypt under the rule of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. Egypt is systematically cutting off the smuggling tunnels that linked Sinai to the Gaza Strip. This means that Hamas is no longer easily able to smuggle either weapons or goods it can tax before they enter Gaza's market.

Israel's naval security blockade, designed to prevent the smuggling of arms or materiel that can be used to build weapons, remains in place, as does Israel's tight security control of its border crossings with the Gaza Strip. Israel has in recent months begun permitting the entry of construction materials to encourage Gaza's reconstruction efforts, and assisted in the export of Gazan agricultural goods to places such as the West Bank.

Most critically, however, Hamas's hopes for $5.4 billion of international aid money, pledged by donor states for Gaza's post-war recovery, remain unrealized. The money has barely begun to trickle in, due to an ongoing crisis with the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority [PA] in Ramallah.

Under the terms set by the international community, the money must enter Gaza through a joint PA-Hamas mechanism. Due to ongoing Fatah-Hamas divisions, such a mechanism appears far from being built.

The latest illustration of these intra-Palestinian tensions can be found in the coordinated, multiple bomb attacks in November on the homes of Fatah officials in Gaza -- attacks carried out by Hamas's military wing.

Meanwhile, the approximately 100,000 Gazans whose homes were destroyed by the fighting in the summer remain without a fixed roof over their heads in the winter, creating another source of pressure on Hamas.

These factors have led Hamas's military wing to warn publicly that a new explosion of violence against Israel is imminent. "We are saying to all sides -- if the siege on Gaza and the obstacles for reconstruction remain, there will be a new explosion," stated Abu Obeida, the spokesman of Hamas's military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.

The warning was answered this week by Israel's Defense Minister, Moshe Ya'alon, who said, "We now base the quiet in the Gaza Strip on deterrence. At this stage they are deterred, but we must be ready at any given time for the possibility that we will have to again act with full force."

While it would not be in Hamas's interests to spark a new destructive conflict so soon after a bruising one, if faced with the possibility that its regime in Gaza might collapse, it may decide to do so.

Hamas has, since the moment that hostilities ended in August, resumed rocket production in Gazan plants, albeit at a slower rate than before the conflict. Hamas has also most likely restarted work to dig more tunnels from Gaza into Israel, which are designed to inject guerrilla squads into Israel to commit terrorist kidnappings and murders.

The Israel Defense Forces, too, has spent recent months preparing to respond if there is a fresh round of hostilities. It assesses that Israeli deterrence has been fully replenished; it is also reluctantly prepared should the volatile situation in Gaza push deterrence aside.

For now, it seems, Hamas in Gaza will try, as it has been doing in recent months, to orchestrate terrorism in the West Bank, on the opposite side of Israel, while upholding its truce in Gaza. If Hamas's standoff with Fatah continues, however, and the host of factors that pushed Hamas into the last war do not change, the countdown to the next war may be shorter than many think.

Yaakov Lappin


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

Report: Kerry Stalled PA UN Bid to Stop Right Winning Elections - Tova Dvorin

by Tova Dvorin

Diplomats: Kerry finalized US veto to PA statehood text only after Livni, Peres begged him that it would influence the elections rightward.

Kerry and Livni (archive)
Kerry and Livni (archive)
Flash 90
US Secretary of State John Kerry has been adamant to EU officials not to push the Palestinian Authority (PA)'s anti-Israel resolution through the UN until after the March 2015 elections, a European diplomat told Foreign Policy Friday.

"Kerry has been very, very clear that for the United States it was not an option to discuss whatever text before the end of the Israeli election," the diplomat stated. 

Kerry said that the warning stems from a meeting he had with former President Shimon Peres and Hatnua Chairman Tzipi Livni, who appealed to him out of concerns that the anti-Israel resolution - if passed before elections - would influence the vote toward Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's Likud party and Economics Chairman's Jewish Home party. 

The top US official made the remarks to 28 EU envoys at a private luncheon, the diplomat added.

A Secretary of State official confirmed Kerry's warning to the magazine.  

"Secretary Kerry made clear in private as he has in public that we don’t think any steps should be taken that would interfere with the Israeli election - that’s what he conveyed earlier this week," he said. "He continues to discuss with foreign partners the options for advancing the goal we all share of preventing a downward spiral of events on the ground and creating conditions for resumption of negotiations on a two state solution."

The PA resolution submitted to the UN Security Council demands that Israel withdraw from Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem by 2017.

Kerry led a nine-month peace bid that collapsed in acrimony in April, and Washington has long opposed what it calls "unilateral" moves to achieve statehood, which it says will only come through a negotiated deal. 

Previous agreements signed by the PA forbid it from taking such "unilateral steps."

Tova Dvorin


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

Senators Vow to Halt Obama’s Castro Odyssey - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

Rubio: “Appeasing the Castro brothers will only cause other tyrants from Caracas to Tehran to Pyongyang to see that they can take advantage of President Obama’s naivete during his final two years in office.”

Barack ObamaLawmakers opposed to President Obama’s sudden move to cozy up to Communist Cuba are vowing a full-court press to prevent official diplomatic recognition of the tropical prison republic from going forward.

But it is far from clear if lawmakers will be able to do much about Obama’s Cuban escapades. Presidents typically enjoy great latitude in foreign policy, especially concerning recognition of foreign governments. Lawmakers are probably on stronger ground in resisting repeal of the trade embargo that has been in place since the 1960s. On the other hand, Obama has a pen and a phone, as he likes to say, a reference to his brazen contempt for the rule of law and the strictures of the Constitution.

Obama’s dramatic actions are setting off a feeding frenzy as American companies salivate at the prospect of doing business in Cuba. Little do they realize that Cuba, a dilapidated Stalinist state that, thanks to the absence of good paying jobs, serves largely as a seedy sex tourism destination for Europeans and hardly has an economy at all. Some business restrictions were already eased by the U.S. around 2000. Some companies are allowed to sell medical equipment to the Cuban government. There is not much money to be made, at least not initially.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), who are both of Cuban ancestry, have made strong statements about their intentions.

Rubio said it mattered not a whit to him if “99 percent of people in polls” disagreed with his position. “Appeasing the Castro brothers will only cause other tyrants from Caracas to Tehran to Pyongyang to see that they can take advantage of President Obama’s naivete during his final two years in office.”

Rubio said he reserved the right “to do everything within the rules of the Senate to prevent that sort of individual from ever even coming up for a vote,” a reference to confirmation proceedings for a prospective U.S. ambassador to Cuba.

Menendez said he was “deeply disappointed” and that it was “a fallacy to believe that Cuba will reform because an American president opens his hands and the Castro brothers will suddenly unclench their fists.”

The chill in relations between the two countries has its roots in the Cold War.

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, whose forces overthrew the comparatively mild authoritarian regime of Fulgencio Batista, tried to start a nuclear war with the United States and in 1963 openly called for the assassination of President John Kennedy and his brother Robert, the U.S. attorney general. War was only narrowly averted after the Soviet Union turned around ships that were carrying nuclear weapons to Cuba. A short time later one of Castro’s followers, a man named Lee Harvey Oswald, murdered President Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. 
Cuba is a longtime state sponsor of terrorism and has meddled militarily and otherwise in the affairs of its neighbors and in faraway countries such as Angola. President Reagan ordered an invasion of Grenada after its Marxist dictatorship grew too close to Cuba and he struggled heroically to aid the anticommunist contras in their war against the Cuban-backed Communist regime in Nicaragua.

Many conservatives in Congress and elsewhere are saying Obama is a weak leader.

For example, former Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said on the Fox News Channel on Wednesday that Obama’s moves on Cuba constitute “appeasement” and are a “very, very bad signal of weakness and lack of resolve by the president of the United States.”

Bolton and others are correct in terms of how the U.S. is perceived abroad under Obama but this does not reflect weak leadership on Obama’s part. This president knows what he is doing and when given the opportunity to do the right thing reliably chooses to do the wrong thing. Obama is taking the country’s foreign policy in exactly the right direction in terms of his sinister ideology. Obama does not mean well. He does not, unlike traditional U.S. presidents, think of himself as the leader of the free world. He wants to fundamentally transform America inside and out and is quite content to enfeeble the nation by crippling its military, betraying its allies, and embracing its enemies.

All of this excitement follows the sudden release Wednesday of Alan Gross, a U.S. development worker held in a Cuban prison. (An intelligence operative loyal to the U.S. was also released as part of the deal. Details about that individual are scarce.) Gross is a garden-variety leftist who is being used by President Obama to justify establishing diplomatic and trade relations with Cuba.

Obama is repaying a debt to his Marxist friends and allies. Just as President Bill Clinton rewarded his neo-communist supporters by pardoning Marxist Puerto Rican terrorists, Obama is rewarding his Castro-admiring base by freeing Communist spies working for a hostile foreign power.

Gross was reportedly a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development, which is frequently a home for meddling left-wing activists. He reportedly worked on a program aimed at improving Internet access for Cuban Jews. Why the Obama administration would knowingly send an American into Cuba to perform services they had to have known were considered illegal by Cuban authorities is not clear. The free flow of information is a threat to any totalitarian regime, so a Cuban court convicted Gross of crimes against the state in 2011, sentencing him to a 15-year prison term.

Under a deal that Pope Francis, among others, helped to facilitate, Gross was exchanged for the remaining three members of the so-called Cuban Five — Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, and Ramón Labañino — who had been held in U.S. prisons.  All five Cuban nationals were convicted of spying in 2001. They gathered information on Cuban exiles in the U.S. in order to lay the ground for violent action against them in the future. Hernández was also convicted of conspiring to commit murder.

As Gross prepared for his press conference Wednesday, there was a portrait of  Communist mass murderer Che Guevara clearly visible in the Washington, D.C. office of Gross’s lawyer, high-profile attorney Scott D. Gilbert of Gilbert LLP. The bloodthirsty Guevara was minister of industry and president of the Cuban National Bank. He also administered kangaroo courts that condemned enemies of Fidel Castro’s regime to death. In other words, as Gross prepared his statement about being freed from a Cuban jail, an iconic photograph honoring Cuba’s most infamous jailer stared down at him.

Guevara, incidentally, wanted to annihilate the United States.

“If the nuclear missiles [from the missile crisis] had remained [in Cuba] we would have fired them against the heart of the U.S. including New York City,” he said. “The victory of socialism is well worth millions of atomic victims.”

In the press conference Gross maligned the U.S., pulling a cowardly pox-on-both-your-houses stunt. Gross drew a moral equivalency between the U.S. and the ruthless authoritarian regime he just escaped:
I also feel compelled to share with you my utmost respect for and fondness of the people of Cuba. In no way are they responsible for the ordeal to which my family and I have been subjected. To me cubanos, or at least most of them, are incredibly kind, generous and talented. It pains me to see them treated so unjustly as a consequence of two governments’ mutually belligerent policies.  Five and a half decades of history show us such belligerence inhibits better judgment. Two wrongs never make a right. I truly hope that we can now get beyond these mutually belligerent policies and I was very happy to hear what the president had to say today. It was particularly cool to be sitting next to the secretary of state as he was hearing about his job description for the next couple of months. In all seriousness, this is a game-changer, which I fully support. [Emphasis added.]
Who condemns his own countrymen as imperialist warmongers after they cut a deal to get him repatriated from the clutches of a dictatorship? And why would he use his opportunity in the spotlight to praise President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with the regime that he believes unjustly imprisoned him?

The whole thing doesn’t smell right. Clearly it was in the works for a long time.

Interestingly enough, Gross thanked Jill Zuckman of left-wing PR firm SKDKnickerbocker for helping to free him. SKDKnickerbocker also employs former resident Maoist in the Obama White House, Anita Dunn, and Democrat operative Hilary Rosen. Gross also thanked Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Communist-friendly lawmakers Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) for freeing him.

Those who follow President Obama’s policy initiatives already know that he delights in trading Americans who hate America for foreign terrorists and murderers who also hate America. Not so long ago there was the swap of U.S Army deserter and Taliban collaborator Bowe Bergdahl for five members of the Taliban’s high command.  Not exactly a good deal for America.

What’s next for Obama, who is hellbent to knock America down a few pegs?

Diplomatic recognition for Iran? At first glance such a development might seem unlikely, but Obama does harbor deep affection for hardline Islamic states. He aided Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and during anti-government unrest that began in Iran in 2009, Obama effectively propped up the Islamist regime there by doing nothing to oppose it.

Anything could happen with Obama in his final two years in the White House.

Matthew Vadum


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

Something Is Rotten in UCLA’s Center for Near East Studies - Mitchel G. Bard

by Mitchel G. Bard

Gelvin becomes positively Orwellian when he tries to explain how a center purportedly devoted to academic freedom can tolerate directors who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, including the current director who, in 2014, signed a letter calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and pledging not to collaborate with Israeli institutions, attend their conferences or publish in Israeli journals.

James-GelvinRecently, UCLA’s federally subsidized Center for Near Eastern Studies (CNES) has come under fire by a pro-Israel watchdog that conducted a review of the Center’s programs from 2010-2013 and concluded that many featured “anti-Semitic discourse and anti-Israel bias.”

Among the findings of the report by the AMCHA Initiative:

CNES Israel-related events had an overwhelmingly anti-Israel bias: Of the 28 Israel-related events, 93% were anti-Israel;

CNES favors speakers who engaged in anti-Semitic activity prior to speaking at CNES: Of the 31 speakers at the CNES Israel-related events, 84% have engaged in Anti-Semitic activity, including the demonization and delegitimization of Israel, denying Jews the right to self-determination, comparing Israelis to Nazis and condoning terrorism;

Each CNES director had engaged in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activity: All three CNES directors from 2010-2013 publicly opposed the UC Israel Abroad Program, despite touting the public abroad program as part of the center’s fulfillment of the Title VI funding requirement. In addition, each of the directors endorsed boycotts of Israel, and one is a founder of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel.

Professor James Gelvin, a historian studying the Middle East, wrote a spirited defense of CNES on behalf of the Faculty Advisory Committee, which, oddly enough, appeared in an Arabic publication. Gelvin focused his rebuttal on AMCHA’s statistics regarding the number of programs regarding Israel; however, he presents no evidence to dispute the fundamental charge of anti-Israel bias. His answer to the failure to bring speakers who might balance some of the panels critical of Israel is to say that CNES also does not feel the need to “balance” the criticism of Arab states. He further justifies the faculty invited by CNES by asserting that they are “accomplished scholars presenting original work.” If you look at much of what the invited guests have said about Israel, it is highly questionable whether they deserve to be called accomplished and certainly are not presenting original critiques of Israel.

Gelvin becomes positively Orwellian when he tries to explain how a center purportedly devoted to academic freedom can tolerate directors who support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, including the current director who, in 2014, signed a letter calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions and pledging not to collaborate with Israeli institutions, attend their conferences or publish in Israeli journals. Gelvin’s response is that the BDS movement, which calls for the destruction of Israel, “is not out of the mainstream within the scholarly community” because a few hundred faculty Israel deniers support singling Israel out for special treatment.

One can’t help but wonder how “accomplished” a professor can be if they can’t recognize they are part of a concerted campaign to destroy the only democracy in the Middle East while having no qualms about the activities of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and the rest of the serial human rights abusers. Then again, Gelvin claims the BDS movement isn’t anti-Semitic because it is not on a State Department list of anti-Semitic activities. Rather than look to the State Department with its own dark history of anti-Semitism, he might look at the statement signed by more than 60 international Jewish organizations representing the spectrum of Jewish opinion that denounced the BDS movement as “counterproductive to the goal of peace, antithetical to freedom of speech, and part of a greater effort to undermine the Jewish people’s right to self-determination in their homeland, Israel.” The cosigners acknowledged that “individuals and groups may have legitimate criticism of Israeli policies,” but added that “criticism becomes anti-Semitism…when it demonizes Israel or its leaders, denies Israel the right to defend its citizens or seeks to denigrate Israel’s right to exist.” A similar statement was signed by 38 Nobel Prize winners.

As AMCHA reported, two former CNES directors called on the University of California to stop Education Abroad Programs in Israel. Gelvin’s excuse? They were protecting the rights of Palestinian-American students who he alleges were “either harassed or prevented entry into the country.”

Rather than take issue with professor Gelvin’s own statistics defending the programs at CNES, let’s consider just one example of a symposium that took place in 2009, before the period examined by AMCHA. This public event, “Gaza and Human Rights” featured four outspoken critics of Israel. CNES director Susan Slyomovics opened the session by telling the audience they would learn the “truth” about Gaza that had been hidden or distorted by the media. UCLA historian Gabriel Piterberg compared Zionist policy since 1900 to European colonialism that led to the extermination and enslavement of the indigenous peoples. UCSB’s Lisa Hajjar, who chairs a Law and Society Program, accused Israel of war crimes. Richard Falk, who taught international law at Princeton before being named UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian Territories, compared the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi extermination of Jews, insisted that Hamas and its missiles posed no security threat to Israel, and labeled Israeli action in Gaza as a “savagely criminal operation.” The fourth speaker, UCLA English literature professor Saree Makdisi, said that it was Israel’s “premeditated state policy” to kill Gazans and stunt the growth of their children.

The event was later referred to as an “academic lynching,” a “one-sided witch hunt of Israel,” a “Hamas recruiting rally” or, at the very least, “a degradation of academic standards.” 
UCLA Chancellor Block responded to the controversy by restating UCLA’s commitment to the “free exchange of ideas … as a core value of academic freedom” and praised UCLA as one of the most invigorating intellectual campuses in the world.

The event may have violated the congressional mandate that federally supported outreach programs promote intellectual diversity and balanced debate. When asked if CNES would plan any events to present an alternative point of view, the center’s director, Susan Slyomovics, reportedly said no. Sondra Hale defended the one-sided panel and said it was necessary to criticize the “state policies that have led to this calamity.” In another example of the fox guarding the henhouse, Hale, chair of the center’s faculty advisory committee at the time, was an organizer of the academic boycott of Israel.

Mitchel G. Bard


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

Hamas Benefits from Absurd Judicial Decision - Michael Curtis

by Michael Curtis

In Oliver Twist, published in 1838, Charles Dickens has one of his characters, Mr. Bumble, declare, “If the law supposes that, the law is an ass, an idiot.”  One hundred and seventy-six years later Mr. Bumble would have used the same words in referring to a decision of the General Court (GC) of the European Union. On December 17, 2014 GC ordered the EU to remove Hamas from its terrorist blacklist.

The Council of the European Union in Luxembourg on December 27, 2001 adopted a common position as its response to combating terrorism. This meant freezing the funds of individuals and groups on a list adopted by the Council.  The list included Hamas on the list and has maintained that group on the list since then. Other countries, including the U.S. in October 1997, and Australia, Canada, Japan, Egypt, and Britain regarding the military wing, have put Hamas on their terrorist list.

The GC is an independent court, attached to the European Court of Justice, composed of one judge from each of the 28 member states of the EU.  It is regarded as the second highest tribunal of the EU, and its decisions can be appealed on a point of law to the ECJ.  It took the case C 400/10, Hamas v. Council of the EU and delivered judgment.

But that judgment is bizarre if not hypocritical in making a political decision. The GC called its decision a procedural one, a “technical issue,” not a political one by it or by the EU countries. The decision, it said, did not “imply any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group.” It said nothing substantial about the status of Hamas. Yet, it challenged the very basis of the EU political decision that put the al-Qassam Brigades (the militant Hamas military wing) in its first terrorist blacklist in December 2001. As a result of a number of Hamas suicide bombings during the second Intifada, the EU added the political wing of Hamas to its terrorist list in 2003. Hamas in 2010 and again in 2013 appealed its designation as a terrorist group. It claimed that it had not been given a hearing when it was put on the terrorist list.

The GC had made almost exactly the same ruling on October 16, 2014 concerning the Tamil Tigers group in Sri Lanka. Arguing that that the decision was based on a technicality, it held that the blacklisting of the group, that had killed at least 40,000 Tamil civilians, was based on “factual imputations derived from the press and the internet,” and this was insufficient. In other actions, the European court has struck down EU decisions on sanctions of Syrian and Iranian companies. EU sanctions against Syria are imposed on people and companies who are responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria and persons associated with them. Nevertheless, the GC annulled the inclusion of some persons on the list.

The GC said that EU decisions on Hamas were not proper. They were based on factual elements that the EC may have derived from the press or the internet, not “on elements which have been concretely examined and confirmed in decisions of national competent authorities.” Therefore, the GC annulled the contested measures to keep Hamas on the list of terrorist groups but it held that they were to be maintained for a period of three months or until appeals against the decision were ended. The assets of Hamas will thus for the moment remain frozen in the EU.

The consequence is that the GC has made not simply a legal ruling, but indeed a political decision that is the responsibility of the EU governments.  The decision implicitly insulted the intelligence of the EU officials who had designated Hamas as a terrorist group. That designation resulted from the EU’s Council Common Position of December 27, 2001 that clearly defined those involved in terrorist acts as seriously damaging a country, seriously intimidating a population, attacking a person’s life which may cause death, and kidnapping or hostage taking.

One wonders what evidence the European Court needs as appropriate, or what it called “facts previously established by competent authorities” for a designation of terrorism to be made in the case of Hamas. Is the indiscriminate and disproportional firing by Hamas of thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians insufficient? Hamas has been guilty of all the offences mentioned in the Common Position. Plentiful evidence about Hamas will be forthcoming during a number of criminal cases concerning it that will take place in some European countries.

Ironically, the Court’s decision coincided with a massive rally celebrating the 27th anniversary of Hamas. In a speech on the occasion in Gaza City on December 14, 2014 Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, declared, “The illusion called Israel will be removed. It will be removed at the hands of the al-Qassam Brigades.” He reaffirmed the Hamas Charter that calls for the destruction of Israel.

The General Court hears cases brought against EU institutions. European Union now has to decide on its options, one of which is to appeal the ruling. It certainly must uphold the principles of the Middle East Quartet that Hamas must renounce violence and recognize the existence and legitimacy of the State of Israel.

By coincidence, the European Parliament on December 17, 2014 voted by 498 to 88 with 111 abstentions in favor of a watered-down, non-binding resolution. It called for the recognition of Palestinian statehood and a two-state solution.  It also called for this recognition to go hand in hand with the “development of peace talks which should be advanced.” The General Court has not been helpful in this advancement. By proposing that Hamas no longer be regarded as a terrorist group it has in effect given a green light to Hamas activity which still regards Israel as an “illusion,” and aims at the elimination of the State of Israel.

Michael Curtis


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

Geert Wilders Was Right - Uzay Bulut

by Uzay Bulut

"Hate Speech" was invented in the Kremlin of the USSR by political operatives who saw that it could be used effectively against anyone who did not agree with you, whom you wanted to silence.
It would seem indispensable for all people who want to defend their liberty to take a stand against criminal and violent people who aim to destroy or damage their societies. If those people are extremist Muslims, why should they be exempt? And if they are not extremist Muslims, why should they not be protected from the same threats and violence that menace us?
Ironically, however, it is not the violent Islamic teachings inspiring these crimes that are questioned, criticized -- or prosecuted -- as hate speech on major media outlets or among political circles. It is, instead, the victims of these teachings: among others, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Lars Hedegaard, Susanne Winter, Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff, Imran Firasat, and Geert Wilders.
What Geert Wilders does cannot be called hate speech. It is legitimate a struggle, if occasionally imperfect, to protect the liberties of all of us in the face of unending threats and attacks, most recently from Islamic extremists.
Geert Wilders is not an extremist of any kind. He is a democrat who defends Western values, the most important of which are liberty and life. We should not prosecute Wilders. We should thank him for sacrificing his life to defend us -- and defend him back.
What a week. In an Australian café, a self-declared jihadi seized at least 17 hostages, two of whom were killed; and in Pakistan, 148 people, including 132 children, were massacred by the same branch of the Taliban that tried to murder Mala Yousafzai to prevent her from being educated.

Whether the terrorist in Australia acted alone or had an organization behind him is irrelevant. It did not stop him from killing two hostages. The manager of the Lindt cafe, 34-year-old Tori Johnson, and a 38-year-old lawyer and mother of three, Katrina Dawson, lost their lives.

What we have in both slaughters are individuals motivated by the same ideology, Islamism, and committing attacks against innocent civilians. More alarming is that many people apparently seem not to want to talk about the motivations, apart from mental illness, behind both attacks: Islamic ideology. Perhaps they fear being exposed to the same violence one day, or perhaps they fear jeopardizing business deals or votes. There may also be the temptation to run away from reality, in the hope that the more you deny it, the farther you are from it.

The ideology that flew planes into the World Trade Center in the U.S. and that took people hostage in Australia and that murdered over a hundred schoolchildren is one and the same. Without discussing it -- what is there in or about it drives people to violence and hatred? -- violent attacks, threats and intimidation are here to stay.

A wise and courageous man in Europe, Geert Wilders, has been speaking out about these truths for years -- and has been made to pay a huge price for it. When the filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered in 2004 over his short film, Fitna [ordeal], the paper on the knife in his back promised that Wilders (and Ayaan Hirsi Ali) would be next. Wilders lives in a state-provided house with high security; for his defense of freedom, he has received countless death threats and has been called "a hate mongering racist," "a bigot," "an extremist" and other names intended not to flatter. He is the founder and leader of the Netherlands' Party for Freedom (PVV), ranked number one in the polls; the creator of the film Fitna, and also author of the book, Marked for Death: Islam's War Against the West and Me.

Wilders warned Australia. He has devoted his life to warning us all. In a February 2014 television interview, he spoke to Australians about Islamism:
"Look how in societies today where Islam is dominant and prominent, how any non-Islamic person, whether it's a Christian or an apostate or a woman or a critical journalist, how they are treated. This is in a very bad way, often with the death penalty or imprisonment or all those kind of terrible things."
Geert Wilders warns Australians about the dangers posed by Islamism, multiculturalism and mass immigration, on ABC Lateline, Feb. 13, 2014.

Due to an enormous influx of people from Islamic countries in the last decades, he continued, Dutch society has changed and worsened, so that,
"unfortunately non-Western immigrants, often Muslims, are over-represented in statistics of crime, of dependency on social benefits, that we have honor killings, that we have genital mutilation, that we have streets where women with headscarves and burqas are not the exception any more. And that it's getting worse... What I'm trying to do when I visit your beautiful country, Australia, is warn Australians that even though it might not be the case today, learn from the mistakes that we made in Europe: be vigilant and look at Islam for what it really is. Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam is a totalitarian ideology. The best example is that if any person, any Muslim wants to leave Islam, then the penalty is death. It is not even allowed to leave it."
Wilders made clear that he was not threatening or attacking anyone for a religious or ethnic identity:
"I have nothing against the people. I have nothing against the Indonesian people or the Arab people or the Muslim people. I'm talking about the ideology. And indeed, as long as a country has a culture, a religion, an ideology where Islam is dominant, it will never be a democracy. It's also happening in Indonesia. Look at how they treat Christians in Indonesia or how they treat Christians in any other country where Islam is dominant."
"Why is it not possible to build a church in Saudi Arabia, where, as we in the Netherlands, have almost 500 mosques being built; why is it not possible to buy or sell a Bible in any Muslim or most of the Muslim countries, whereas we can buy a Koran here on every street corner? This is the exact example of the fact that Islam is an intolerant society."
Wilders emphasized that there is no moderate or non-moderate Islam, but there are moderate and non-moderate Muslims:
"As a matter of fact, the majority of the Muslims living in our society are moderate people. But don't make the mistake that even though there are moderate and radical Muslims that there is a moderate or a radical Islam. There is only one Islam, and that is a totalitarian ideology that has no room for anything but Islam. You see it once again in any country in the world where Islam is dominant."
Wilders's critics claim he is a bigot who hates all Muslims and wants to drive all of them out of Western countries, regardless of who they really are and what they do. Those claims are completely false.

Wilders has made it clear countless times that what he opposes is Islamic violence and totalitarianism, and that he has no problem with Muslims who are peaceful and law-abiding. The problem, he says, emerges when Muslims engage in violence or criminal acts, or try to impose their religious beliefs on non-Muslims, or attack or threaten those who do not agree with them, or try to establish the parallel legal system of sharia courts in their neighborhoods, or rape (with our without a gang) European girls, and so on.
"I believe that Muslims that are in our society today are of course equal as anybody else, as long as they adhere to our laws, to our constitution, to our values. And as long as they do not cross this red line -- if they commit crimes, if they start beating up women, if they start the genital mutilation, if they start to commit other crimes and honor killings as they unfortunately do in Western Europe, many times -- if they do that, I believe we should expel them, the same day if possible, from our country."
"So to stop the immigration to our societies -- because we have had more than enough Islam in our societies -- and people who are here and who are behaving according to our laws and our constitutions are happy to stay, are equal to anybody else, or even want to help them with the better education, but if they cross the line of crime, start acting according to Sharia law, there will be no place for them in our free societies…."
It would seem indispensable for all people who want to defend their liberty to take a stand against criminal and violent people who aim to destroy or damage their societies. If those people are extremist Muslims, why they should be exempt? And if they are not extremist Muslims, why should they be not protected from the same threats and violence that menace us?

In September 2010, an Australian Islamic fundamentalist preacher, Feiz Mohammad, in an internet chat room incited his Muslim followers to behead Wilders.

Ironically, however, it is not the violent Islamic teachings inspiring these crimes that are questioned or criticized -- or prosecuted -- on major media outlets or among political circles. It is, instead, the victims of these teachings: among others, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Lars Hedegaard, Susanne Winter, Elisabeth Sabaditsch Wolf, Imran Firasat, and Geert Wilders. They are threatened by Muslims, accused by progressives of being "extremists," interrogated by authorities, and even sued and made to stand trial.

Wilders lives in a state-provided house, outfitted to be bulletproof, and heavily guarded by police. He is driven from his home to his parliament office in an armored police vehicle, has round-the-clock bodyguards, and wears a bulletproof vest. "I am in jail, he says, "and they are walking around free."

The life Wilders is forced to lead stands as proof that there is something terribly wrong with the current Western stand toward Islamic terrorism and "hate speech." "Hate speech" was invented in the Kremlin of the USSR by political operatives who saw that it could be used effectively against anyone who did not agree with you, whom you wanted to silence[1]. It is a way to try forcefully to coerce others to your religion or way of thinking, or, failing that, to make them afraid to speak and neutralize them. Islamists and jihadists use hate speech to convert impressionable people, as Adolf Hitler did, to their way of thinking, and to recruit followers and jihadists who might enjoy torturing and beheading.

What Geert Wilders does cannot be called hate speech. It is a struggle, if occasionally imperfect, to protect the liberties of all of us in the face of unending threats and attacks, most recently from Islamic extremists. Geert Wilders is not an extremist of any kind. He is a democrat who defends Western values, the most important of which are liberty and life. We should not prosecute Wilders. We should thank him for sacrificing his life to defend us -- and defend him back.

[1] Flemming Rose, The Tyranny of Silence (Cato Institute, 2014. 240 pp.)

Uzay Bulut


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Anti-Scott Walker prosecutorial skullduggery in Wisconsin exposed - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

It is unknowable where this all is going, but it represents a wild card in the potential presidential candidacy of Walker. Being the target of  sinister and apparently illegal persecution by the left while taking on public employee unions makes for quite a dramatic resume.

A huge political scandal is slowly coming to light in Wisconsin, as information comes to light about the conduct of that state’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) as it persecuted supporters of Governor Scott Walker, who bravely took on the public employee unions of that state. The outrageous tactics used included midnight SWAT team raids on Walker’s political supporters. Ten days ago, I wrote about some of the potential law-breaking and document-alteration engaged in by the prosecutors. But new evidence has just come to light.

Yesterday, Judge Lee S. Dreyfus of the Waukesha County Court unsealed a trove of documents in  he civil lawsuit being brought by the Wisconsin Club for Growth against the GAB. As revealed by the Wisconsin Reporter (that owns this story and that ought to be in line for a Pulitzer Prize if the Columbia University School of Journalism is able to overcome its reflexive leftism) they:
show that the GAB considered using the state’s John Doe law to investigate key state conservatives and even national figures, including Fox News’ Sean Hannity and WTMJ Milwaukee host Charlie Sykes.
SWAT team raids on one of the state’s most prominent talk show hosts (and, by the way, AT contributor)? How about Sean Hannity? Were they going to fly to New York?

The Reporter has obtained even more documentation than was released yesterday, and it reveals a pattern of less-than-forthright honesty at the GAB. Right Wisconsin, which cross-posted the article from the Wisconsin Reporter, has come up with this amusing visual juxtaposition:
Some highlights:
Staff members engaged in the probe seem to have defied their own board. Documents show the board voted on July 21, 2014 refused to reauthorize the investigation, on a 3-2 vote.
Documents show the GAB staffers were preoccupied with their own legal exposure rather than whether those staffers were engaged in a lawful investigation. As late as May, they urged the board to continue to fund the agency’s probe because “terminating the investigation could undermine the position of the Board’s investigators in the civil case, exposing them, and potentially Board members to civil liability with no legal support.” (snip)
Under state law, the agency’s board must meet “at least once every 90” days to review the progress of the investigation. The board must approve the reauthorization of the investigation or the probe is considered closed.
The GAB is not authorized under law to prosecute criminal investigations, such as John Doe probes.
GAB spokesman Reid Magney earlier this week told Wisconsin Reporter, “John Doe investigations are initiated by district attorneys and controlled by a judge, not the Government Accountability Board.”
Asked whether the board has reauthorized the probe, he declined to comment, citing confidentiality laws.
Technically, the GAB’s involvement in the investigation should have been terminated over a year ago.
According to documents, the GAB voted to authorize the probe on June 20, 2013 but did not vote to reauthorize until Sept. 25, 2013 – 97 days after the GAB’s investigation was officially launched.
GAB Judge Harold Froehlich extensively discussed the lapse at a board meeting in May 2014.
But the GAB, according to court documents, had been admitted as a party to the probe and assisting prosecutors 10 months prior to the board’s formal vote to begin its investigation.
The unsealed documents show GAB director and general counsel Kevin Kennedy and Jonathan Becker, administrator of the agency’s ethics division, involved the accountability board in the secret probe without the approval or even knowledge of the judges. Board members were not informed of the involvement until Dec. 18, 2012, some three months after Kennedy and crew jumped on board.
And it seems Kennedy and Becker misled the board about precisely when they had “learned” of the John Doe investigation, according to a Dec. 18, 2012 memorandum.
“Since the time of the October 23, 2012 Board meeting, staff has learned that the Milwaukee District Attorney has opened another John Doe investigation,” the memo states.
There is much more. Read the whole thing. And stand-by, because there is more to come, as discovery proceeds in the lawsuit.

It is unknowable where this all is going, but it represents a wild card in the potential presidential candidacy of Walker. Being the target of  sinister and apparently illegal persecution by the left while taking on public employee unions makes for quite a dramatic resume.

Wisconsin is the state that gave birth to progressivism, which means that the movement has had longer to degenerate there than anywhere else. It would be fitting to have its funeral there, too.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman

Thomas Lifson


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Sanctions on Venezuelan Human Rights Violators: A New Momentum to be Seized - Luis Fleischman

by Luis Fleischman

Henceforth, for the United States, such policy of non-confrontation and going along with regional wishes constituted nothing less than a seal of approval of human rights and democracy violations. This policy track has not been at all beneficial to U.S. interests.


On December 11th the U.S House of Representatives signed a bill, which will impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials found to have in violation of human rights in Venezuela.

On December 8th, The Senate passed a similar bill after a long delay.

According to signals given by the White House, President Barack Obama is likely to sign the bill.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ross Lethinen (R- FL) and by Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fl), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) imposes visa restrictions, freezing of assets, and other types of targeted sanctions on persons responsible for violations of human rights of antigovernment protesters in Venezuela. The bill also calls for coordination between the other member states within the Organization of American States, as well as the countries of the European Union, to ensure the peaceful resolution of the current situation in Venezuela”. Likewise, it calls “to hold accountable government and security officials in Venezuela responsible for or complicit in the use of force in relation to the antigovernment protests that began on February 12, 2014, and similar future acts of violence”; and “to continue to support the development of democratic political processes and independent civil society in Venezuela”.

Despite the fact that the delay in the Senate vote may have provided time to Maduro’s thugs to take preventive steps in anticipation of the sanctions, the impact of the sanctions is undeniable.

First these sanctions constitute a first step. It is reasonable to assume that Maduro did not believe the U.S. would dare to do it. As Republicans will be holding the majority in the next Congress, chances are that further sanctions may be approved without delay. This already has brought Maduro to a state of panic, particularly as Venezuela is now experiencing significant drops in oil prizes and as the economy continues its drastic decline.

It is less clear if this step represents a significant change in U.S foreign policy towards Venezuela.

U.S policy, particularly under President Barack Obama, has been based on the following premises:
  1. The U.S. cannot be seen as an unequal and condescending partner in the region.
  2. The U.S. should not impose its will on any country in the region since American history of past interference in Latin American countries’ internal affairs has raised negative feelings among the population and governments in the region.
  3. Therefore, the U.S. needs to work with regional partners to resolve any problem. Thus, the Venezuelan problem, like human rights challenges, or any other challenge in the continent, (including those that affect U.S. security), need to be addressed through countries in the region.
As the left began to consolidate in Latin America, countries began to protect each other as part of a philosophy and strategy of “regional integration” as a means of forming a new regional power block. This concept of block solidarity prevented proper denunciation by Latin American countries of human rights violations in Venezuela. For these countries to denounce human rights violations by another country runs the risk of affecting this new power block. Brazil insisted on the principle of sovereignty over universal rights and thus defended the principle of non-interference.

Henceforth, for the United States, such policy of non-confrontation and going along with regional wishes constituted nothing less than a seal of approval of human rights and democracy violations. This policy track has not been at all beneficial to U.S. interests. Let us remember that there are real dangers to U.S. and regional security given Venezuela’s key role in drug trafficking, harboring of terrorist groups, and cooperation with countries such as Iran.

Should we delegate our security to countries such as Brazil? Should we continue asking for permission to stand by our values and interests?

The recent agreement between the Obama Administration and the Castro regime seems to indicate that U.S policy continues to be the same. The U.S just promised to renew diplomatic relations with Cuba that does not guarantee or even demands from the Castro regime a commitment to changing its anti-democratic and anti-human rights policy. Obama himself pointed out that his decision to normalize relations with Cuba was due to the fact that this was the will of the countries of the region.

Therefore, unless the Republican majority in Congress applies pressure, nothing is likely to move forward.

Yet, these sanctions constitute the first significant step that show solidarity with those in Venezuela who have fought and are still fighting for a better future of freedom and economic opportunity.

The lukewarm response that their protests have had from the world has discouraged Venezuelan dissidents. By the same token, the Venezuelan government did not find any reason why it needed to reign in its’ repressive regime. To the contrary its’ repressive policies have continued. The indictment of political opponent, Maria Corina Machado on false charges is only one small example of how the Maduro government mocked its own Venezuelan citizens and the international community.

Thus, at least sanctions should give a new boost to protestors in Venezuela and provide hope to dozens of political prisoners forgotten and abandoned in their filthy cells.

From the pages of the Americas Report we denounced the situation of General Raul Baduel, a former Chavez Secretary of Defense, who despite his initial support for Hugo Chavez played an important role in inflicting Chavez’s first electoral defeat. . He has been in prison for years under false charges and long forgotten.

Sanctions provide an important momentum. Support for democracy and human rights from now onwards needs to take a high speed both inside and outside Venezuela.

This is the time to continue to raise the issue of Venezuela with the President, with Congress, and with the rest of the world.

Dr. Luis Fleischman is a Senior adviser to the Menges Hemispheric Security Project at the Center for Security Policy in Washington DC. He is also an adjunct professor of Political Science and Sociology at Wilkes Honor College at Florida Atlantic University. He is the author of the upcoming book, "Latin America in the Post-Chavez Era: The Security Threat to the United States."


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The EU is No Innocent Bystander, No Honest Broker - Eli E. Hertz

by Eli E. Hertz

The EU aims to solve the Arab-Israel conflict at Israel’s expense and for a host of self-serving reasons.

Europe seeks to play the role of neutral mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Yet for a host of reasons – most of them self-serving – Europe has demonstrated a clear pro-Arab bias, including insensitivity to Israel’s security needs. And it excuses Arab terrorism that no civilized nation would ever tolerate if faced with similar attacks.
The European nation-state model was ill suited to the structure of social organization indigenous to the Middle East where clans, tribes, ethnic groups, Islamic sects, and regional loyalties dominate social units. Much of the conflict in Arab states today reflects that reality, while anti-Zionism has become the glue that holds them together.

Against this backdrop, members of the EU want another chance to remold the Middle East, including a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, which the British were unable to resolve during 30 years of British Mandate rule. Even during that period, Great Britain’s track record was poor, conjuring up a series of so-called peace plans that attempted to appease the Arabs so that they would accept the Jews.

Today, the EU aims to solve the conflict at Israel’s expense for a host of self-serving reasons.

Europe’s claim that it can be an even-handed mediator does not hold water. Besides a poor record in solving problems as colonial powers, member states of the EU would make poor facilitators in the Middle East for several reasons, including their dependence on Arab trade and Arab oil.

Centuries of European anti-Semitism culminated in the Holocaust, made possible not only by the rise of Nazism in Germany, but by the acts of other European countries as well – acts of commission and omission. Two years after World War II, European nations supported the UN plan calling for a Jewish state, support that reflected both a sense of guilt toward the Jews, and national interests.

Although every Arab state rejected Israel’s right to exist, Western Europe forged diplomatic and economic relations with Israel. Britain and France even established strategic relations with Israel in the early 1950s when Britain sought to regain control over the Suez Canal from Egypt.

The Israeli media criticized Europe’s unbridled support for the Palestinians, while ignoring their terror campaign. Perhaps the culmination was in 2002 when French president Jacques Chirac invited the head of Hezbollah to a summit of French-speaking nations as an honored guest.

Moreover, Israelis cannot forgive the indifference most Europeans have demonstrated toward Israeli casualties, as respected European intellectuals justify suicide bombings as testimony to Israeli oppression and guilt.

Europe’s support for the Arabs today, based on the mistaken assumption one can buy immunity from Arab terror and ensure the flow of oil, is about as viable as Europe’s sell-out of Czechoslovakia in 1938 for “peace in our times.” In the meantime, by not setting limits, Europe’s shortsighted policy encourages extremism.

Continued support of the Palestinians, despite the terrorism, prolongs violence and loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives.

Eli E. Hertz


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Likely US presidential candidate: Egyptian option should be examined to solve Israeli-Arab conflict - Herb Keinon

by Herb Keinon

Retired neurosurgeon and aspiring US politician Ben Carson could walk down the streets of Jerusalem, shout at the top of his lungs “I am Ben Carson,” and almost no one would know who he is.

At least not yet.

But that could change very quickly as the 2016 US presidential campaign picks up speed, and Carson gains traction.

And if recent polls are any indication, the 63-yearold Detroit native – who rose from a tough inner-city childhood to become director of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins and the first doctor to successfully separate twins conjoined at the head – is already starting to pick up traction.

A Public Policy Polling survey this week in North Carolina found that GOP voters in that state ranked Carson – yes, Carson – as their top pick among nine potential GOP candidates.

According to the poll reported in North Carolina’s News & Observer, Carson – a devout Christian who became a darling of the conservatives in 2013 when he confronted US President Barack Obama in a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast – polled at 19 percent, which put him ahead of some of the names Israelis are familiar with: Jeb Bush (15%), Chris Christie (14%) and Mike Huckabee (also at 14%).

According to the report, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio all trailed well behind.

And in a theoretical Ben Carson vs. Hillary Clinton presidential race, right now in North Carolina the two are tied at 44%.

Lest one think this is a polling anomaly or aberration, consider the following: A CNN/ORC International Poll at the beginning of the month put Carson second only to Mitt Romney among favorite candidates for the GOP nomination.

And according to a Bloomberg report, fund-raising on his behalf has been robust. A draft-Carson committee has raised $11 million since August 2013. By comparison, Ready for Hillary, a group promoting a possible Hillary Clinton campaign, has raised $10m. since January 2013.

While a long-shot candidate, the soft-spoken Carson, a former contributor on Fox News, is most definitely in the GOP presidential sweepstakes.

It was somewhat unusual, therefore, that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is very tuned-in to US political developments and meets nearly all visiting Congressmen, did not meet Carson during his six-day visit this week. One official in Netanyahu’s office said this was due to scheduling issues – Netanyahu was out of the country for a day, earlier this week.

Carson did meet Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, visit an army base, and take a six-hour helicopter tour of the country with former deputy chief of staff and National Security Council head Uzi Dayan.

He also sat down for an hour with The Jerusalem Post and said it was “fine” for people to interpret his first ever visit to Israel as being connected to his presidential ambitions.

“It is always good to get a firsthand look at important issues,” he said of his visit.

“What is going on in the Middle East has a profound effect not only on the US but on the whole world at this stage, and the more clarity one could get on that, the better off one will be, particularly if one is considering national office.

And I am considering national office.”

Asked about the Obama administration’s position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the bids at the United Nations to move a resolution through the Security Council, Carson – who keeps his answers short – said, “I know that Egypt in the past has made some overtures in terms of providing a place for the Palestinians. That seems to me something worth exploring.”

As to whether he views an Egyptian option as a substitute for a Palestinian state on the West Bank, Carson said that “when you are looking at Judea and Samaria and look at their proximity to the population centers of Israel, and you recognize the hostility that existed before, I’m not sure that makes a lot of sense.”

He clarified that he was not opposed to a two-state solution, “but would not be in favor of a two-state solution that would put Israel’s population at risk.”

Carson also said that the settlement issue has been “blown out of proportion.”

“Having been here, and having seen the housing going up, it certainly seems much more benign than what you hear about in the international press,” he said.

“People need housing, and they are putting it in the proximity of where they live.

It has been made into a political issue.“ Asked what would change in the US -Israel relations if he did ever come to power, he replied that he “would want it to be very clear that people who are allies are allies. They are our friends, they are not people who should ever be questioning our relationship and our loyalty.”

Carson said that the US has a responsibility to lead in the region and the world, not to “simply sit back and react to events as they occur, because that basically creates a vacuum, and historically vacuums are always filled by someone.

The likelihood that in this case it will be filled by someone more benign than the United States seems relatively small.“ Asked about Obama’s policy regarding Islamic State, Carson said it was a group that wanted to destroy both America and Israel, and should be uprooted.

“It is fairly difficult to come to an area of compromise with someone whose goal is to destroy you,” he said, echoing – perhaps unwittingly – Israel’s long-standing policy toward Hamas. “You can negotiate – do you destroy me today or tomorrow, half of me today, half tomorrow – but these are not good negotiations.

So my philosophy is that you have to uproot something like that while it is young and small, and you don’t wait until it becomes a gigantic tree with extensive branches everywhere.”

Turning to US issues, Carson was reserved about Obama’s surprise decision on Wednesday to reestablish diplomatic ties with Cuba after more than 50 years.

“I would just ask some questions,” he said. “What is in it for the United States? Maybe there are some answers there that we haven’t heard yet.

What is the benefit for the US? How does it affect our relationship with Russia, with whom Cuba has a close relationship? What is it doing to enhance the freedom of the Cuban people?” As to racial tensions in the US stemming from the recent incidents where blacks were killed by policemen in Ferguson and New York, Carson said there is “frustration” and “some level of injustice,” just as there has been in the past and will be in the future.

But, he added, “one can focus all one’s attention on those things, or one could look at the incredible opportunities that exist and decide where one wants to place the energy. There are some people who are extremely skillful at manipulating emotions, who will come in and blow up the significance of any degree of injustice, make it appear as if it is the most important thing that has ever occurred in one’s life.”

He said that in order to improve the situation between the police and minority communities in the US, the police have to be willing to say that they could do some things better, and minority communities have to “be willing to say that people who are thugs are thugs, and don’t try to make them into heroes.”

Asked to respond to critics who say he has neither the diplomatic or political experience to lead the US in a tumultuous world, he said that having had leaders in office with great experience and expertise has “not particularly resolved much in the way of problems.”

While clarifying that he was not negating the importance of either experience or expertise, he added, “What is most important is common sense and wisdom and the ability to use these resources in a positive way.”

Carson and his delegation are visiting under the auspices of The Face of Israel, a private organization that promotes Israel internationally amongst influential decision-makers and opinion leaders from societies, countries and religious communities around the world.

The Face of Israel introduces global leaders to Israel's unique history, diverse culture and innovative society in order to strengthen relationships and understanding worldwide with Israel and its people.  Led by CEO Ariel Bulstein, The Face of Israel was created as a coordinated platform for cooperation amongst pro-Israel organizations, and provides in-depth research and analysis of threats to Israel’s international legitimacy.

Herb Keinon


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