Friday, June 5, 2015

Rabbi Obama's tough love - David M. Weinberg

by David M. Weinberg

If anybody had any doubts about what is in store for Israel over the next 19 months, U.S. President Barack Obama has now made it clear: a long, painful political shellacking for what he sees as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's amoral behavior.

If anybody had any doubts about what is in store for Israel over the next 19 months, U.S. President Barack Obama has now made it clear: a long, painful political shellacking for what he sees as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's amoral behavior.

In order to rescue the lofty values of tikkun olam (healing the world) and Zionism from the Neanderthal conservatives who threaten to ruin Israel, Obama is going to harangue and muscle Israel into a course correction -- back to the "true" moral values of Judaism and Zionism on which he is such an expert. He is on a crusade (or should I say, jihad) to save Israel from itself, no less. 

That is the upshot of Rabbi Obama's smug sermonizing over the past two weeks: in an Atlantic interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, at Adas Israel synagogue in Washington, and in an interview on Israeli television with Ilana Dayan, Obama is nostalgic for the good ol' days when WASP Israelis (white, Ashkenazi, secular and socialist, pioneers) ruled these parts and dreamed all day long of conceding the land they worked to the Palestinians and of bringing peace to the Middle East.

And since Obama so agonizes for wayward Israel, and since he is such an authority on "real" Judaism and "authentic" Zionism, he feels morally compelled to shove his point down the throats of Israeli Likud and Habayit Hayehudi voters. It's all for their own good. After all, he knows what is truly best for Israel.

It has taken almost 40 years, but we now have in the White House a cross between the hyper-critical George W. Ball (see "How to save Israel in Spite of Herself," Foreign Affairs, 1977) and the riotous-extremist Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun Magazine. Oy.

It goes without saying that the very judgmental Obama has no such tough love to share with the Palestinians or other radical, anti-Semitic and anti-American Islamists in the region. He is not an expert on true Islam, you see, thus he dare not reproach them about their moral values. He didn't grow up loving and admiring Anwar Sadat, like he did loving former Israeli premier Golda Meir and the kibbutzim.

So, Iran and the Islamic State group can rape and pillage across the region -- but Rabbi Obama knows mainly how to scold and squeeze Israel. 

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas can accuse Israel of genocide, assault Israel with war crime charges at the International Criminal Court, laud terrorists in Jerusalem, cut "unity accords" with Hamas, maintain rejectionist positions on all the key peacemaking issues and have his television stations, newspapers and mosque preachers blather blood libels and other venalities about Jews as Nazis and Satan -- but Rabbi Obama knows mainly how to scold and squeeze Israel.

Out of true love, don't you know!

Obama's moralizing appeal to Jewish and Zionist "values" is actually a sly trick. If you pitch your political views as "values" and your opponents' position as a breach of "values," then your threat of punishment suddenly seems noble.

Hudson Institute expert Michael Doran theorizes that Obama's moralizing appeal to "liberal values" is part of a concerted attempt to distance American Jews from Netanyahu. After all, Obama represents "American Jewish values" better than Netanyahu! This, in turn, Doran posits, is meant to weaken opposition within the American Jewish community to Obama's pact with Iran.

I don't know whether the trick will work for the deal with Iran, but it is clear to me that Obama is attempting to soften up domestic opposition to a policy shift whereby the administration will effectively abandon Israel at the United Nations. Obama more than hinted at that in his Israeli television talk.

It is also evident that "Obamazionism" is indeed accelerating the divide between American Jews and Israel. Obama's assailing of Netanyahu has already dangerously impacted the discourse about Israel among American Jewry.

In a pretentious article last week entitled "A message to centrist American Jews: Time to speak out," E. Robert Goodkind and Martin J. Raffel of the Israel Policy Forum engage in new agonizing about Israel, moral values and their roles.

Just like Rabbi Obama, they have discovered a "need" to be "true" to some conjured-up and pleasing "centrist values"; to have "honest" (i.e., frank) conversations with Israel; and to "speak out honestly" to advance their "long-held principles."

Just like Obama who "feels a responsibility to speak out honestly" about what he thinks will lead to long-term security and "to the preservation of a true democracy in the Jewish homeland," these American Jewish leaders assert a newfangled "obligation to act" so that Israel bows to their supreme, honest-centrist values.

Just like Obama, they "want honesty," and they want "to speak truth to power." They employ the term "honest" no less than seven times.

"Honesty means telling the Israeli government that achieving peace with the Palestinians must be an active enterprise, not a goal grudgingly endorsed," they add. "This involves leaving most of the West Bank," declaim these centrist, expert, and honesty-seeking Jewish leaders.

Unfortunately, I'm not making this headstrong stuff up. It is amazingly arrogant: We know better than the Israelis who live in Israel what is better for Israel and Jewish values. Alas, this sentiment dovetails neatly with the "saving Israel in spite of herself" discourse that Obama is inciting.

I say to Rabbi Obama and the IPF leaders: Spare us your honest exhortations. Enjoy your self-satisfying centrist values, but don't fool yourself into thinking that you're doing Israel any favors by declaring the parameters of what withdrawals and other Israeli foreign and defense policies "must be."

I say no thanks to your tough love. I encourage you to "confront your values" and re-engage Israeli democracy on a more realistic and respectful basis.

David M. Weinberg


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Iranian Nukes, the Arab Gulf, and Obama's Seductive Summitry - Steven J. Rosen

by Steven J. Rosen

The Saudis see Iran trying to encircle them with its Quds Force killing Sunni Muslims in Syria, mobilizing Shia Muslim militias in Iraq, providing arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen or fomenting unrest among Saudi Shia . Fundamentally, the Saudis believe that America's friends and interests are under threat, and the U.S. response has ranged from indifference to accommodation.

Originally published under the title "Obama's Seductive Gulf Summit."

In an effort to quiet their objections to international recognition of Iran's nuclear threshold status, President Obama offered the Gulf Arab states impressive-sounding, but substantively meaningless, new security guarantees.
President Obama convened the May 13-14 Camp David summit with the Sunni Arab leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in pursuit of a grand bargain. If the Gulfies would mute their objections to his coveted nuclear agreement with Iran, he would compensate them with the American security guarantees against Iranian aggression in the region they sought.

From Mr. Obama's point of view, the summit was a success, in spite of the snub by Saudi King Salman and the other key Gulf leaders who declined to attend. Putting aside their doubts, the GCC leaders in the end signed a joint statement endorsing "a comprehensive, verifiable [Iran nuclear] deal that fully addresses the regional and international concerns, " saying it would serve "the security interests of GCC member states."

At least some of the council leaders thought their side did well at the summit too. GCC Assistant Secretary-General Abdel Aziz Abu Hamad Aluwaisheg told a press conference May 15 that the Camp David summit "exceeded the expectations of most of us" by reassuring GCC states of an "unequivocal" commitment to their security. They were impressed when Mr. Obama described his commitment to their security in expansive language: "First, I am reaffirming our ironclad commitment to the security of our Gulf partners."

Obama's security guarantee to GCC states is limited to "external" threats "inconsistent with the U.N. Charter."
Perhaps they did not look too closely at what the president actually promised, because the specific terms of the commitment he made, in fact, fell far short of the security guarantee the GCC partners were seeking and may have thought they received. The joint communique limits Mr. Obama's security guarantee to "an external threat to any GCC state's territorial integrity that is inconsistent with the U.N. Charter."

These carefully chosen words limit the U.S. commitment to a scenario in which the Iranian armed forces invade the sovereign territory of a GCC member. This formulation is actually a retreat from the more inclusive commitment Mr. Obama made two years earlier in his 2013 address to the U.N. General Assembly, in which he pledged to "confront external aggression against our allies and partners."

Marching armies across borders is not the typical pattern of Iranian aggression in the region.
Marching its armies across borders is not the typical pattern of Iran's aggression in the region, nor is it the main threat worrying Saudi Arabia and its GCC partners. The more common pattern of Iranian aggression against the Sunni Arab heartlands is to foment militancy and extremism among Shia minorities within the Arab states (and among the Shia majority in Bahrain), financing the opposition, and sometimes supplying military training and weapons to oppose the Sunni regimes. It is a model that does not match up neatly with the U.N. Charter, even though it has been a common paradigm for aggression against neighbors worldwide since 1945.

As Philip Gordon, who until last month served as senior Middle East director at the National Security Council, observed, there is always "the question of what's an 'external threat.' Nobody can say exactly what it means. That's the problem with it."

Mr. Gordon's predecessor at the National Security Council, Dennis Ross, who negotiated extensively with the Gulf Arabs while serving as Obama's senior adviser on the region, said,
The Saudis see Iran trying to encircle them with its Quds Force killing Sunni Muslims in Syria, mobilizing Shia Muslim militias in Iraq, providing arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen or fomenting unrest among Saudi Shia . Fundamentally, the Saudis believe that America's friends and interests are under threat, and the U.S. response has ranged from indifference to accommodation.
At the summit, the GCC leaders were pleased by the commitment the president made that the United States and the GCC "will work together to counter Iran's destabilizing activities in the region." And in Yemen in 2015, the president is putting the focus on cooperation with the GCC against Iranian subversion, rather than supporting Houthi grievances in the name of human rights, which might be his normal inclination.

It is an open question whether the president will maintain his new posture of solidarity with the GCC.
In Bahrain four years earlier, he did the opposite, expressing sympathy for a Shia uprising against the Sunni government that hosts the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet even while admitting Iran's role in subversion and arms supply against it, suspending deliveries of weapons to the government of Bahrain, and calling intervention by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to defend Bahrain "alarming."

After Mr. Obama's Iran agreement is signed and endorsed by the U.N. Security Council, and he no longer needs the Gulf leaders to be quiescent, it is an open question whether the president will maintain his new posture of solidarity with the GCC as in Yemen, or return to the more typical Bahraini example of supporting uprisings even when they are under Iranian patronage. The more lasting words may be something else he said at the summit — that he does not want "to perpetuate any long-term confrontation with Iran," reaffirming his grand illusion that Iran can "play a responsible role in the region" if only the Sunni leaders will bring it into a dialogue.

Steven J. Rosen is director of the Middle East Forum's Washington Project.


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ISIS-Affiliated Group: More Rocket Attacks on Israel Coming - Yaakov Levi

by Yaakov Levi

The Islamic State linked group that fired rockets at southern Israel on Wednesday says it will continue “attacking the Jews.”

The Islamist group that fired rockets at southern Israel Wednesday night said Thursday that it would continue its “way of Jihad” and “attack the Jews” - whether or not Hamas approved. And the next attack, it said, would come within hours.

In a statement, the “Sheikh Amar Hadid Brigades” said that the rockets were fired in revenge for “the death of an Islamic State member in Gaza by Hamas members." 

"We have repeated that we will continue in the way of Jihad against the Jews, the enemies of Allah. No one will stop us from fulfilling our obligation and attacking the Jews.”

Several days ago, the same jihadist group took responsibility for the firing of a Grad rocket at Ashdod last week.

The group has since presented Hamas with an ultimatum demanding that it be allowed to attack Israel from Gaza and on Thursdaysaid it would conduct another attack on the Jewish state within 12 hours.

Earlier this week, a group claiming to be associated with ISIS operating in Gaza claimed it killed a top Hamas commander. According to the group, which calls itself the Army of the Islamic State, Saber Siam was killed when ISIS operatives placed a bomb on his car, blowing it up with him inside.

Siam was killed, the group said, because he was “a partner in a declared war against religion and against Muslims, working for the heretical government in Gaza.”

ISIS warned Hamas to immediately “end its war against religion in Gaza” or “face the consequences.” The group also sent out warnings on social media to Gaza residents to stay away from Hamas offices and buildings, lest they find themselves swept up in attacks against the group.

On Thursday, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said that the IDF would continue attacking all terror threats against Israel, inside Gaza or out of it.

“Even if the groups that fired rockets at Israel Wednesday night were gangs of disaffected Jihadists seeking to challenge Hamas by attacking us, we see Hamas as responsible for these attacks. We will not tolerate attacks on our civilians.”

Yaakov Levi


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Left-wing Israeli groups received $27M from Europe over 3 years - Shlomo Cesana

by Shlomo Cesana

Israel's NGO Transparency Law requires organizations to disclose direct and indirect funding from foreign governmental bodies • According to the Foreign Ministry, many of the organizations receiving massive funding promote anti-Israel activity.

An anti-Israel demonstration
Photo credit: GettyImages

Some 24 Israeli non-governmental political advocacy organizations dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict reported a total of nearly 105 million shekels ($27 million) in direct and indirect funding from foreign governments, especially in the European Union, from 2012 to 2014, according to an NGO Monitor report from earlier this year.

The organizations are required by Israel's NGO Transparency Law to disclose funding from foreign governmental bodies. NGO Monitor collected and analyzed the data provided about donations given directly by foreign governments and those given via governmental conduits. 

According to the Foreign Ministry, many of these organizations focus on Israel's activities in Judea and Samaria, often encouraging pro-Palestinian activists and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. 

Some of the organizations to receive foreign government funding were B'Tselem, Gisha, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Breaking the Silence. 

The Breaking the Silence organization, which is dedicated to exposing alleged wrongdoings by the Israel Defense Forces, reportedly received some 2.2 million shekels ($573,000) in foreign funding. The group also recently launched an exhibit in Switzerland, receiving $16,000 in Swiss government funding and sparking Israel's condemnation.

Foreign funding is often given to organizations on a project basis. For example, left-wing organization B'Tselem's video project received several thousand dollars in funding, while the Coalition of Women for Peace received some 38,000 shekels ($9,900) for "international activities."

The data collected by NGO Monitor reveal massive funding from the EU and Norway, constituting 17.2% and 13%, respectively, of the total donations reported by political NGOs. Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Finland and the Netherlands were among other countries funding controversial NGOs. 

Shlomo Cesana


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Is Obama a villain? Or only delusional? - James Lewis

by James Lewis

More than 200,000 dead Syrian Muslims, Christians and Kurds later, Obama may still smile and smile, but the Arab world and the saner half of Israel keep wondering if he is a villain.

President Obama is trying to make nice with Jewish American voters again -- those who haven’t caught on to his multiple betrayals in the Middle East.  Israelis -- those who are in touch with reality -- feel betrayed.  The Saudis feel betrayed.  Egypt feels betrayed.  Libya was betrayed worst of all, and believe it or not, before Obama became president even Syria was considered to be friendly to the United States. 

More than 200,000 dead Syrian Muslims, Christians and Kurds later, Obama may still smile and smile, but the Arab world and the saner half of Israel keep wondering if he is a villain. 

The only regime that loves us over there keeps chanting, “Death to America! Death to Israel!”

Obama tells us they don't actually mean it.  He tells the world to “trust me” on Iranian nukes. 

Oh, yeah? The Sunni Arabs have fought Shi’ite Iran for a thousand years, and they think they mean those genocidal threats.  Which is why the Sunnis are getting their own nuclear weapons.  But Sunni regimes are none too stable, either. 

Obama just told us, “I’ve made America stronger, more prosperous, safer, and more influential.”

A hundred million liberals actually believe that, because who would tell a super-colossal whopper like that? The Big Lie technique still works. 

Now we are six years into this cult-like administration and the biggest question is still the same: “Is Obama a villain? Or only delusional?”

As Hamlet says early in the play,
“Meet it is
I set it down
That a man may smile and smile
And be a villain.”
And then he makes a note in his notebook -- because Hamlet is paralyzed when it comes to action.  His problem is deep denial.  He cannot believe the depth of treachery that surrounds him, his mother and uncle plotting to kill his father and take over the kingdom, then to send assassins after Hamlet himself.  It takes four Acts for Hamlet to work through his denial.

It has taken the American media six years, and there’s no glimmering in the darkness yet. 

Shakespeare wrote for the court of Elizabeth I, who ordered the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots and Walter Raleigh.  Court life was full of “treason, stratagems and spoils.”  Shakespeare’s tragedies are about betrayal -- King Lear, Macbeth, Richard III, Hamlet -- because treason against the royal house was the greatest danger of his time.  Spain and France were constantly exploiting religious divisions to undermine the kingdom.  Hypnotic villains like Richard III manipulated vulnerable suckers, just as they do today.  Each great tragedy shows malignant traitors and victims who can’t escape their own mental blinders. 

Human nature hasn’t changed, but the technology of war is much more dangerous. 

Liberals are still lulled by lying Democrats with big smiles.  Jimmy Carter’s big toothy smile was a factor in his election, and here we are forty years later, stuck with a nation of 70 million Muslims who are told to prepare for war against us every single day: Against Israel, against America, against the Sunni Arabs. 

Jimmy Carter looked on passively when the Ayatollah overthrew a strong, modernizing, pro-Western ally in Iran.  That is why we are now threatened by a brainwashed nation of suicidal fanatics going for nuclear weapons.  Iran was the first Muslim theocracy thirsting for nukes -- but it won’t be the last. 

Obama’s million-dollar grin is one of his biggest assets, and he obviously believes he can still sucker the same folks who fell for the same lies before.  Bill Clinton did it.  Carter did it.  Barack Obama wants his chance. 

Barack Obama has made the world much more dangerous than ever before.  We have had lying politicians before, but not in a world of rogue regimes armed with nuclear weapons.

James Lewis


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'British students boycott Israel but refuse to boycott ISIS' - Israel Hayom Staff

by Israel Hayom Staff

A day after U.K.'s national student union votes to join global efforts to boycott Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slams move, saying the group "condemn themselves" • "Israel has an exemplary democracy ... ISIS tramples human rights," he says.

Israel Hayom Staff


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Why Rand Paul Won’t Fight - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

-- libertarians accept a dubious precept of international law that holds that nations must be free to go their own way without external compulsion. Interfering with Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons violates Iran’s so-called rights, according to this school of thought.

randRepublican presidential candidate Rand Paul really isn’t into the fight against America’s Islamofascist enemies.
It’s just not his thing.

And it’s not that Paul, like so many left-wingers out there, hates America. He doesn’t hate the country of his birth. But his hardline libertarian political views make it very difficult for him to care about the Global War on Terror. That’s why he didn’t mind allowing a law that gave the federal government tools to fight terrorist groups to sunset a few days ago. That battle in Congress over the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act brought the flawed philosophy of Rand Paul into sharp focus.

Paul’s beliefs may also help to explain why he has been doing things that quite rightly infuriate other Republicans, such as palling around with left-wing racial arsonist Al Sharpton and expressing skepticism about anti-vote fraud laws. In order to stop being characterized as some kind of extremist by the media, he’s sucking up to reporters trying to show them what he has in common with them.

Libertarians, with their often fanatical distrust of government, are often drawn to conspiracy theories. This may help to explain some of his erratic behavior. Sounding like a stereotypical angry left-wing Democrat during George W. Bush’s presidency, Paul suggested in a 2009 speech that former Vice President Dick Cheney supported the Iraq War because in the past he worked for Halliburton Co., a corporate boogeyman the Left loves to hate.

Paul previously embraced “One World Government” conspiracy theories, including those concerning the Bilderberg Group, a closed-door annual conference of influential political and financial figures from across the globe. In a 2010 interview, Paul was asked what he knew about the Bilderberg Group.

“Only what I’ve learned from [radio talk show host] Alex Jones,” Paul replied. “I’m not probably the world expert on it, but I think it’s people who get together, who are very wealthy people, who I think manipulate and use government to their own personal advantage.”

Paul said the Bilderbergs, who would derive financial benefits from “world government,” should be fought and exposed.

“[The Bilderberg Group] want[s] to make it out like they just want to help humanity and world government would be good for humanity,” Paul said. “Well guess what—world government’s good for their pocketbook. They’re very wealthy and they use government to make more money for themselves, and that’s where you expose them.”

Paul’s philosophy, which is more of a political alignment than a philosophy as such, is libertarianism.

Libertarians are an interesting bunch. Some are kooks. Some are reasonable and sensible; others bear more than a passing resemblance to anarchists and leftists. Some libertarians deny American exceptionalism. Some oppose nationalism altogether. Some think it was a bad move for the U.S. to abandon the Articles of Confederation, which made the early America a dysfunctional mess, in favor of the Constitution. Although many call politico-philosophical thinker Ayn Rand a libertarian, she detested the label. She referred to libertarians as “hippies of the Right.” She attacked them for their tendency toward moral relativism and their worship of freedom in the absence of philosophy.

Rand Paul’s libertarian beliefs, including a respect for the Bill of Rights that conservatives share, guide his actions. But they also generate a lot of bad blood.

It was the parliamentary maneuvering of the junior senator from Kentucky that caused the USA PATRIOT Act to lapse at 12:01 a.m. Monday. On the campaign trail Paul had called for the repeal of the legislation that was enacted in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the anthrax letter scare on Capitol Hill. He argues that it violates Americans’ right to privacy.

On Sunday after waging a 10-hour filibuster earlier in the week against a bill that would prolong the life of the statute, Paul explained his actions to Politico newspaper:
‘Let me be clear: I acknowledge the need for a robust intelligence agency and for a vigilant national security. I believe we must fight terrorism, and I believe we must stand strong against our enemies. But we do not need to give up who we are to defeat them. In fact, we must not. There has to be another way. We must find it together. So tomorrow, I will force the expiration of the NSA illegal spy[ing] program. I am ready and willing to start the debate on how we fight terrorism without giving up our liberty.”
Although conservatives can find common cause with libertarians like Rand Paul on a host of issues from taxation to the Fed’s destructive long-term easy money policies to gun rights, there is a kind of loophole in libertarian thinking that can sabotage efforts at national defense.

The libertarians’ Achilles heel is known as the non-aggression principle.

According to one prominent keeper of the libertarian flame:
 “[t]he non-aggression principle (also called the non-aggression axiom, or the anti-coercion or zero aggression principle or non-initiation of force) is an ethical stance which asserts that ‘aggression’ is inherently illegitimate. ‘Aggression’ is defined as the ‘initiation’ of physical force against persons or property, the threat of such, or fraud upon persons or their property. In contrast to pacifism, the non-aggression principle does not preclude violent self-defense. The principle is a deontological (or rule-based) ethical stance.”
In a nutshell, government is supposed to have a lawful monopoly on the initiation of force which it is supposed to use to protect life and property from fraud or the illegal use of force. Conservatives and classical liberals generally don’t have a problem with the non-aggression principle which to many Americans sounds like a commonsense proposition.

The problem is when libertarians like Rand Paul apply the non-aggression principle to the so-called community of nations. A kind of nation-to-nation relativism sets in as every nation, no matter how evil, rotten, corrupt, or dangerous it may be is treated by libertarians as an equal of the United States. All nations have rights.

This is why libertarians like Paul’s father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), made highly principled but otherwise nutty pronouncements such as his assertion that there was nothing wrong with the IslamoNazi mullahs in Iran getting ahold of nuclear weapons. Libertarians agree with leftists that nations must be allowed “self-determination.” In other words, libertarians accept a dubious precept of international law that holds that nations must be free to go their own way without external compulsion. Interfering with Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear weapons violates Iran’s so-called rights, according to this school of thought.

Not surprisingly, Rand Paul said rather dogmatically in 2007 while campaigning for his father that a nuclear Iran would not pose a threat to the U.S. or Israel.
 “Even our own intelligence community consensus opinion now is that they’re not a threat. Like my dad [then-Rep. Ron Paul] says, [the Iranians] don’t have an Air Force, they don’t have a Navy. You know, it’s ridiculous to think they’re a threat to our national security. It’s not even that viable to say they’re a national threat to Israel. Most people say Israel has 100 nuclear weapons, you know.”
Republicans “all want to invade Iran next,” he said. “I tell people in speeches, I say, you know we’re against the Iraq War, we have been from the beginning, but you know we’re also against the Iran war—you know the one that hasn’t started yet.”

Now that he’s running for president, Rand Paul is much more careful in what he says and does. In 2013 Paul voted in favor of Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) resolution that recognized “the tremendous threat posed to the United States, the West, and Israel by Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability.” The measure cleared the Senate on a unanimous vote.

Libertarianism, coupled with a desire to advance politically, also helps to explain Paul’s seeming ambivalence about secret-leaker Edward Snowden, whom conservatives generally see as a traitor.

In a January 2014 television appearance Paul said Snowden doesn’t deserve the death penalty or life in prison “and I think that’s why he fled, because that’s what he faced.”

“Do I think that it’s OK to leak secrets and give up national secrets and things that could endanger lives?” the senator said. “I don’t think that’s OK, either. But I think the courts are now saying that what he revealed was something the government was doing was illegal.”

Previously he was more sympathetic to Snowden, referring to his actions as mere “civil disobedience.”

With the spotlight on him now that he’s seeking the presidency, Paul took a harder line. Snowden, who exposed the extent of NSA monitoring, should be in prison with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who over saw the telephone data gathering program. “Snowden and Clapper should be in the same cell, talking about liberty and security,” Paul said.

After the USA PATRIOT Act expired Monday, the next day lawmakers reached a compromise and passed a new statute, the USA Freedom Act. That measure, already signed into law by President Obama, extends the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act while killing the NSA’s program that involved the bulk collection of telephone metadata.

The new law is scheduled to phase out the bulk collection program over six months, replacing it with a program that allow telephone companies to store the records. Instead of having the information at its fingertips, the government will have to obtain a warrant in order to access the data.

Although the media has largely declared Rand Paul the loser in the fight over the legislation, Paul’s supporters regard the compromise legislation as a huge victory. The government should have to respect the search and seizure provisions of the Fourth Amendment and the new law does that, they say.

For what it’s worth, conservatives aren’t exactly united on the issue of bulk collection of telephone metadata. National-security conservatives like Rudy Giuliani insist the data collection program is of vital importance. Attorney and radio talk show host Mark Levin seemed to soften his stance, saying a few days ago that the government should have to obtain a warrant in order to obtain telephone data.

It needs to be noted that the USA PATRIOT Act was a tremendous improvement over the way things were done before the 9/11 attacks. Signed into law by President George W. Bush on Oct. 26, 2011, the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 demolished an artificial wall separating intelligence agencies from law enforcement and other agencies charged with protecting America from terrorism.

As Andrew C. McCarthy notes, this metaphorical wall was “erected to obstruct the information flow between intelligence and criminal investigators” and was “dismantled” by Section 218 of the law.

Who erected this politically correct wall that got Americans killed on 9/11? The answer is that Democrat hack Jamie Gorelick did it.
 “Gorelick, an appointee of Bill Clinton, is the one who constructed the wall of separation that kept the CIA and the FBI from comparing notes and therefore invading the privacy of nice young men like, say, Muhammed Atta and Zacarius Moussaoui. While countless problems were uncovered in our intelligence operations in the wake of 9-11, no single factor comes close to in importance to Jamie Gorelick’s wall. In fact, it was Gorelick’s wall, perhaps more than any other single factor, that induces some people to blame Clinton himself for 9-11 since he appointed her and she acted consistent with his philosophy of ‘crime fighting.’ She put the wall into place as Deputy Attorney General in 1995.”
If Rand Paul had been an elected official in 2001, what would he have said about the effort to tear down Gorelick’s wall?

It probably depends on whether at that time he was thinking of running for president in the future.

Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative reporter and the author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


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The Omaha Tri-Faith Initiative: Nebraska’s Potemkin Village? - Dr. Stephen M. Kirby

by Dr. Stephen M. Kirby 

The goal of the Tri-Faith “is to build bridges of respect, trust and acceptance” between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. But Islamic doctrine prohibits Muslims from respecting, trusting, or accepting Jews and Christians, so how can Muslims support it?

JudaismChristianityIslamThe phrase “Potemkin village” is based on a supposed incident in which Russian Prince Grigory Potemkin erected fake settlements along the banks of the Dnieper River in order to fool and impress Russian Empress Catherine II and her entourage during a trip to “New Russia” (Crimea) in 1787. The supposed purpose of these fake settlements was to create an image of development and prosperity where there was none.*

In the Heartland of the United States, along the banks of the Missouri River, lies the city of Omaha, Nebraska, where there is currently underway an experiment in interfaith dialogue and coexistence: the Tri-Faith Initiative. The goal of the Tri-Faith Initiative is to have a synagogue, a mosque, and a church located on a common piece of land, each with its own separate building; the Tri-Faith hopes to later add a fourth building as a shared Tri-Faith Center. The location for this venture is 35 acres in the Sterling Ridge development in Omaha. The religious partners are Temple Israel, the American Muslim Institute (formerly the American Institute of Islamic Studies and Culture), and Countryside Community Church, the new Christian partner.

The goal of the Tri-Faith “is to build bridges of respect, trust and acceptance” between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. But Islamic doctrine prohibits Muslims from respecting, trusting, or accepting Jews and Christians, so how can Muslims support it? Does Nebraska have its own Potemkin village along the banks of the Missouri River? Let’s first review Islamic doctrine.

Islamic Doctrine

We do not believe in the same God: A foundational belief of the Tri-Faith Initiative seems to be that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all believe in the same God, the God of Abraham. But the god of Islam hates and curses Jews and Christians, orders Muslims to fight them, and condemns Jews and Christians to Hell simply because they are not Muslims. I have addressed this topic in more detail in a previous article.

Muslims cannot be friends with Jews and Christians: Building bridges of respect, trust and acceptance among these three religions requires a certain element of friendship between the adherents of these religions. But 5:51 of the Koran, and the teachings of Muhammad, specifically command Muslims not to be friends with Jews and Christians. There is only one exception found, and that is in 3:28 of the Koran, which allows Muslims to pretend to be friends with non-Muslims. I have provided more detail about this issue here.

Christianity is a false religion based on a fraud: Islam teaches that Jesus was not crucified; instead, Allah took Jesus bodily into Heaven and made one of Jesus’ followers look like Jesus, and that follower was crucified. Islam also teaches that Jesus’ apostles were aware of the substitution, but, nevertheless, they then proceeded to spread the new religion, knowing it was based on a fraud. So a Muslim who knows his religion will look at a crucifix or a painting of the Crucifixion and see an imposter hanging on the cross.  Given this, how can Muslims respect Christianity? For more details about this, see my previous article.

There are three non-Muslims who are heavily involved in the Tri-Faith Initiative: Rabbi Aryeh Azriel of Temple Israel; Reverend Eric Elnes of Countryside Community Church; and Susie Buffett, daughter of multi-billionaire Warren Buffet, a member of Countryside Community Church, and Chairperson of the Sherwood Foundation. Many weeks ago I sent repeated e-mails to each of them asking how, considering what Islamic doctrine teaches, could Islam be a partner in building bridges of “respect, trust and acceptance” with Jews and Christians? I have yet to receive any reply.

So apparently non-Muslims have decided to ignore Islamic doctrine for the sake of the idea of the Tri-Faith Initiative.

Non-Muslim Money

A factor in this could be the millions of dollars of non-Muslim money that has been, and will be spent for this venture.

In December 2011, the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, the original Christian partner, purchased 6.35 acres of land in the Sterling Ridge development for almost $1.3 million. At that same time the Tri-Faith Initiative organization itself purchased 3.6 acres in an adjoining lot for almost $800,000.

Temple Israel: In December 2011, the congregation of Temple Israel purchased 13.54 acres of land in that development for almost $3 million; this was to be the site of their new synagogue. In August 2013, the congregation moved into that new synagogue, built at a cost of about $20 million.

Countryside Community Church: The cost of Countryside’s new church, including the land to be purchased from the Episcopal Diocese, is estimated to be about $25 million. Countryside’s Reverend Elnes stated that there was already $16.1 million in financial commitments, mostly from among the 1,500 congregation members.

The Sherwood Foundation: The non-Muslim Sherwood Foundation is chaired by Susie Buffett. The Sherwood Foundation is extensively involved in the Tri-Faith Initiative. During the years 2009-2010 and 2012-2014, the Sherwood Foundation contributed $288,500 to the Tri-Faith Initiative organization; this was about 59% of the total contributions received by the Tri-Faith during those years. What is interesting to note is that in 2011, the year the Tri-Faith organization spent almost $800,000 to purchase its 3.6 acres in the Sterling Ridge development, the Sherwood Foundation made no contribution to the Tri-Faith organization. Nevertheless, the Tri-Faith organization received over $1 million dollars in contributions that year. There is more about this in the following section.

Ms. Buffet was quoted as saying that she would provide an unspecified amount of financial support for the new Countryside church. And according to available IRS records (Form 990’s), during 2009-2014 the Sherwood Foundation contributed $504,000 to Countryside church. Of the money the Foundation contributed to the church in 2014, $30,000 was specifically designated for “Tri-Faith Expenses.”

Form 990’s also showed that during 2011-2013, the Sherwood Foundation had contributed about $1.3 million to the American Muslim Institute (AMI). This was almost 79% of the total amount of contributions received by AMI during that three year period; it was also almost 70% of the total contributions received by AMI during 2007-2014. It is interesting to note that of the $650,000 contributed by the Foundation to AMI in 2011, $600,000 was specifically designated for “Purchase of Land.” 2011 was the year that AMI purchased its 3.85 acres in the Sterling Ridge development for $827,640.

Undisclosed Contributors

The Tri-Faith Initiative organization and the American Muslim Institute are not legally required to identify contributors. But there are some strategically timed contributions of interest:

Tri-Faith Initiative organization: 2011 was a significant year financially for the Tri-Faith organization, because it received $1,004,019 in contributions that year, and purchased land in the Sterling Ridge development. Had these contributions not been received, the Tri-Faith organization would not have been able to purchase that land. None of these contributions came from the Sherwood Foundation.

I contacted the Tri-Faith organization and asked for the names and contribution amounts of the contributors for 2011. I was advised that these contributors had requested anonymity, but that they were “all local Omaha donors.”

American Muslim Institute (AMI): In a May 22, 2015, article in the Omaha World-Herald, Dr. Syed Mohiuddin, President of AMI, said that nearly all of the money had been raised for the construction of the mosque, estimated to cost around $5.5 million. But according to the Form 990 filed for 2014, excluding their land, AMI only had assets of a little over $400,000 at the end of 2014. If Dr. Mohiuddin’s statement was accurate, this means that AMI had raised around $5 million in the first five months of 2015; in contrast, during the previous eight years AMI had raised a total of only about $1.8 million.

So I e-mailed Leigh Sittenauer, AMI Executive Director, asking for a list of the 2015 contributors and the amounts of their contributions. Ms. Sittenauer replied:
We are not obligated to share that information and have no plans to provide it to you or any other inquisitors.
As pointed out above, during 2007-2014 almost 70% of the contributions to AMI came from a non-Muslim organization. If this pattern of contributions holds for 2015, then the vast majority of the $5.5 million needed for mosque construction will have come from non-Muslims.


This leaves us with some fundamental questions:
  1. If the major source of funding, even for mosque construction, comes from non-Muslims, is the venture really Tri-Faith?
  1. Given that the Tri-Faith Initiative appears to be publicly touted as a model for interfaith relations, why the opaqueness about the sources of millions of dollars necessary to support this venture?
  1. Given that the Tri-Faith Initiative appears to be publicly touted as a model for interfaith relations, why were contributions allowed to be made anonymously?
  1. Given that the Tri-Faith Initiative appears to be publicly touted as a model for interfaith relations, why don’t contributors want to be publicly recognized?
  1. Are the new Christian partners at Countryside Community Church even aware of the sources for these millions of dollars given to the venture they have recently joined?
  1. If all the partners, Muslims included, are required to ignore core doctrines of Islam to create the appearance of respect, trust and acceptance, can the venture really be Tri-Faith?
Instead of answers, at this point all we have is Tri-Faith Silence.

*Potemkin village: An impressive façade or show designed to hide an undesirable fact or condition. — Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition.

Dr. Stephen M. Kirby is the author of three books about Islam. His latest is "Islam According to Muhammad, Not Your Neighbor."


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

Turkey's Flotilla: What Was It Really About? - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

  • All that 77 million Turks could collect to donate to Gaza stood at $32 million, or about 40 cents per person.
  • "This is a clear picture of the AK Party's true colors... How could you not honor your promise to Gaza?" — Mehmet Gunal, opposition member of parliament.
  • Underneath its "Pro-Palestinian" mindset, Turkish solidarity with the Palestinians is less related to the Palestinian cause and more to the Islamists' devotion to the dream of conquest.
Five years ago this week, on May 31, 2010, a Turkish flotilla with hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists aboard sailed toward the Gaza Strip in order to break Israel's naval blockade. Israel had established the blockade to prevent weapons from being shipped to the Hamas terrorist organization, which rules Gaza and is openly committed to Israel's destruction.

Before reaching the Gazan shore, however, the Turkish ship, Mavi Marmara, was boarded by Israeli commandos, and 10 activists were killed in what would become the worst ever diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel. Later, a UN-sponsored probe into the Mavi Marmara incident would accuse Israeli soldiers of excessive use of force, but declare Israel's blockade as legal.

With the Mavi Marmara, the Turkish government wanted to provoke Israel and cause an "incident." Then the whole world learned "who benefitted."

By discreetly encouraging the flotilla, and possibly calculating its aftermath, the Turkish government aimed at two things: boosting then Prime Minister [now president] Recep Tayyip Erdogan's popularity on the Arab Street and consolidating his votes among Turkey's conservative masses. The first aim has dramatically failed, except in the Palestinian territories and Qatar; but the second has been achieved.

The Palestinians and Islamist Turks commemorated their "martyrs" on the fifth anniversary of the Mavi Marmara affair without realizing how much they fancy the "show" side of political Islam while dutifully ignoring facts.

"We salute you, Turkish people," banners read in Gaza City, where Palestinians placed a wreath on a memorial built for the victims.

"We have gathered here today to honor those who had made the biggest sacrifice and died for Palestine," said Jamal al-Hudari, president of the Popular Committee Against the Siege. "We send our greetings to the relatives of the martyrs and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan."

Bassem Naeem, a Hamas official, described the Mavi Marmara incident as "seminal" in the history of the Palestinians and demanded that Israel be brought to trial for killing the activists.

As always, in Turkey, the show was more pro-Palestinian than any show in the Palestinian territories. A group set off from the central Anatolian city of Konya and stopped in Ankara to perform morning prayers in front of the Israeli ambassadorial residence, in commemoration of the incident. Then they went to Istanbul to join a bigger event.

In Istanbul, tens of thousands gathered in front of the Fatih mosque for the Mavi Marmara commemoration. They carried Palestinian flags and banners with Arabic script. A choreographed show featured the words "Freedom for Quds (Jerusalem)." Still wondering what relevance Jerusalem could have to an incident off the Gazan coast? A prominent Islamist columnist, Abdurrahman Dilipak, explained it in a speech: "The liberation of Quds (Jerusalem) is the liberation of Mecca and Medina. The liberation of Mecca and Medina is the liberation of our mosques."

Tens of thousands of Turkish Islamists rallied on May 31, 2015, to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident. (Image source: Timeturk video screenshot)

Typically, Dilipak argued that the deaths of 10 activists aboard the Mavi Marmara was "a merry event" as they had become "martyrs." And Bulent Yildirim, head of the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (IHH), the organizers for the Mavi Marmara flotilla, claimed in a speech that "we could kill at least 100 Israeli soldiers if we wanted to."

Judging from the scenes in Gaza and Turkey, one might think that the Turks are the eternal saviors of their Palestinian brothers, or that Turkey is the biggest benefactor of the Palestinian territories.

One day, perhaps, the Palestinians will understand that their "cause" is, for their Turkish brothers, merely an ideological feel-good motive and an instrument in the quest of many Turks to consolidate power both at home and in the Arab world.

Ironically, about a week before the Mavi Marmara commemoration, hysteria gripped Turkey: a World Bank report revealed that the Turkish government had failed to deliver a large portion of the aid it had pledged for the reconstruction of Gaza during an international donors' conference last year.

The report said that Turkey has so far delivered only 0.26% of the aid it had pledged at the donors' conference in Cairo last October. Turkey, which pledged $200 million, has provided only $520,000 the report said.

Turkey's unofficial aid for Gaza did not reflect the Palestinian-fetish visible across the country, either. All that 77 million Turks could collect to donate to Gaza stood at $32 million, or about 40 cents per person. In other words, the Turkish generosity for "our Palestinian brothers" was a mere 0.004% of the country's national income.

"This is a clear picture showing the AK Party's true colors. They turn Gaza into a political pawn and exploit it, then fail to honor the pledge ... It's tragic. How could you not honor your promise to Gaza?" asked Mehmet Gunal, an opposition member of parliament.

Turks love to play the generous benefactor of the Palestinians and the custodians of the Palestinian cause. Underneath, its "pro- Palestinian" mindset, Turkish solidarity with the Palestinians is less related to the Palestinian cause and more to the Islamists' devotion to the dream of "conquest."
Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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