Friday, June 19, 2015

Dangerous Liaisons: RAND Corporation and America's National Security - G. Murphy Donovan

by G. Murphy Donovan

Israel doesn’t need to go along to get along, especially in times when tepid allies are hostile -- and “partners” like RAND are working both sides of the street.

Once upon a time, when America believed in totalitarian threats, RAND Corporation might have been the go-to venue to game or explore kinetic solutions to problems like Pakistan, North Korea, and now Iran.  Those days are long gone.  Unfortunately, old school RAND was at one time a strategic critical mass, host to the likes Herman Kahn, Bernard Brodie, Albert Wohlstetter, and John Von Neumann.  RAND’s Pentagon focus, unfortunately, was undone by antics on the Left in the person of Daniel Ellsberg.

New RAND world HQ in Santa Monica

After Ellsberg leaked the so-called Pentagon Papers, Strangelovean RAND retreated and tacked towards social studies, health care for example, and threw national security baby out with the integrity bathwater.  In the beginning, RAND was situated on the Left Coast to be as far from politics as possible.  Today, RAND is quite comfortable midst Hollywood hype in Santa Monica. 

Indeed, the RAND endowment, and political footprint, now includes a presence in California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Mississippi, the UK, Belgium, the United Emirates, and Qatar.  Following fonts of funding, RAND today probably has one of the largest “non-profit” nest eggs outside of Harvard yard.  RAND is a public service “charity” in the same sense that the NCAA is a branch of higher education.

The most troubling institutional links are with Arab autocrats.  How does RAND square Sunni-sponsored terror and Islamism with democracy and freedom, in particular the survival of an Israeli democracy? Clearly, Arabia is the wellspring of Sunni Islamic supremacist ideology and jihad funding on a global scale.  And how now will RAND square a nuclear Shia theocracy in Teheran with the prospects of Armageddon? If recent research, or spin, at RAND provides any clues, the news on any of these fronts is not good. 

RAND studies fly under four flags, “non-profit, independent, objective, and non-partisan.” You will see the same adjectives, ironically, at the Institute for Defense Analysis.  None of these assertions are true anymore, if they were ever believable.  No institution goes from one plant to ten without being very profitable.  And it is the rare think tank that succeeds by telling clients what they do not want to hear.  In short, the most useful tool for American contract analysis, as with US Intelligence assessments these days, is a wet finger in the political winds.

Research titles alone are probative.  Recent RAND examples include: The Days after a Nuclear Deal with IRAN, a series of six reports, all of which assume an agreement yet to be made or published.  Such analysis might be characterized as policy “front running.” Then there is Grounds for Cautious Optimism on an Iran Nuclear Deal, another piece of front running.  A recent Foggy Bottom apologetic favorite might be Relax, Iran is not taking over the Middle East (sic).  This flippant RAND gem trivializes Shia militancy in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Gaza, Bahrain, and now Yemen. 

The King of Jordan might be vexed by the prospect of a “Shia Crescent” in the Mideast, but apparently sectarian imperialism is no big deal on the beach at Santa Monica.  These are but a few examples.  What they have in common is pandering, appeasement, and apologetic wishful thinking, the kind that characterizes Obama era policy towards the apocalyptic sects of Islam. 

All of this is underwritten by parallel and blatant political hostility towards Israel.  Hostility, we might add, that is enabled by both major American political parties.  As Pakistan and North Korea did before, Iran is playing for time, while America is again playing the fool. 

RAND thinking on the Sunni (or Saudi) side of the threat equation is a non-performing asset too.  Most pernicious is the notion that jihad and terror are isolated crimes with local motives, not acts of war.  This has been the Team Obama party line since John Brennan, now CIA director, was an advisor at the American president’s elbow.  The  twaddle was underwritten by RAND political “science” in the interests of denying a global phenomenon, war with two shades of Islam.  Indeed, consider the new ISIS, Boko Haram, and Yemini battlefronts as the stepchildren of naiveté.

How in any context do you pacify jihadists with an American notion of justice that has no relevance to a warring theocrat? Those on either side of the Shia/Sunni divide who seek martyrdom might more appropriately have their wishes expedited not prolonged. 

America is now confronted with the hideous spectacle of rendition, prison, and jurisprudence where jihadists have the same rights that shoplifters enjoy.  Such folly will only provide very expensive circus trials, propaganda martyrs, and recruitment incentives. 

Some 90 or more nations now provide recruits to the Islamic Caliphate.  Yet, RAND is still cooking the strategic books for profit and America still pretends that it is not at war.  The latest RAND report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a blatant endorsement of the two-state solution on economic grounds, a slight of hand that, not coincidently, that should energize the BDS movement should Israel fail to knuckle under. 

RAND might be a “premier” research institution on some subjects.  Religious politics, terror, sectarian war, imperialism, fascism, irredentism, and the Islam bomb are not part of that mix.  If RAND Corporation were capable of “rethinking a long-term strategy” for Israel, they would have sold a similar scheme to a much needier American administration by now. 

The Shia Bomb

Other than the Israeli Prime Minister’s candor before the American Congress, the omens about the impending bilateral nuclear “agreement” with Tehran are not good.  Clearly, whatever the document looks like, it will be a reflection of principals not principle.  John Kerry and Wendy Sherman are on point for the American side. 
Secretary of State Kerry is the former poster boy for the anti-war Left in America with a lineage that goes back to the Nixon era.  And today Ms.  Sherman, Foggy Bottom negotiator, is to the Iran nuclear deal what Victoria Nuland was to the Benghazi fiasco and the Kiev coup.  If Wendy Sherman’s efforts with the ayatollahs are anything like the results with the totalitarian North Koreans, then a second Islam bomb, this time in Shia hands, might be a sure thing.
Sherman is a former social worker with impeccable Emily’s List progressive credentials.  She has been, variously, a lobbyist and a Democratic Party fundraising maven.  Like Ms.  Nuland, Wendy has the diplomatic sensitivities of a PETA pit bull.  Recall that Nuland chortled a celebrated “f—k the EU” when Europeans were slow to endorse Ukraine coup shenanigans.  Likewise, Sherman insulted democratic South Korea recently by trivializing imperial Japanese sex slavery during WWII.  Withal, both women are echoes of their mentor, Hillary Rodham, who wrote Libya’s epitaph with an epithet, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Clearly, with team Obama, appeasement of Islamic jihadists or alienation of allies doesn’t register – or matter. 
Evidence that Team Obama is now pandering to Shia priests is more than suggestive.  Israel has been kept in the dark, the Israeli Prime Minister has been snubbed and vilified.  Benjamin Netanyahu has been characterized also, vis-a-vis Iran, as a “chicken shit” by a senior Obama spokesman.  Indeed, Democratic Party minions financed an “anybody but Bibi” campaign in Israel in the run-up to recent Israeli elections.  Fortunately, the regime change strategy backfired.  Back home, adding insult to injury, the US Director of National Intelligence, without public discussion or debate, removed theocratic Iran and terror surrogate Hezb’allah from the Annual Threat Assessment for Congress.

Disarming Israel 

All the while, numerous unilateral sanction and proliferation concessions have already been made to Iran.  And now, the Pentagon releases an Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) report, circa 1987, on Israeli nuclear capability.  Unmasking the useful ambiguity of Israel’s nuclear secrets is designed to argue that the Islam bomb is the moral equivalent of any other bomb in a free world arsenal.  In short, exposing the military capabilities of the one democracy in the Levant is spiteful payback for an Israel that refuses to cut its own throat. 

Clearly, the next edition of US policy for the Mideast is a “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” a rationale for imperial Islam and the bomb.  Alas, a Shia weapon on top of existing Sunni nuclear weapons is Israel’s worst nightmare.

Lowering the nuclear threshold between warring Muslim apocalyptic sectarians is one thing, but both Shia and Sunni theocrats share common enemies: Israel, Europe, and America.  When the chant of “Death to America” is raised in Iran, we are led to believe such sentiments are just local politics.

Indeed, Shia priests have also vowed to “wipe Israel off the face of the earth.” Should we not take the ayatollahs at their word? When Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” goes nuclear, surely Israel will be the first casualty -- and the first to be blamed.  Anti-Semitism is ever the canary in the privy of political obscenities. 

Cavalier would be a charitable characterization of team Obama’s attitude towards Israel, Jews, and the next Holocaust. 

The Rand/Herzl Mosaic

Some say that bad news comes in threes.  If that folklore is true, Israel just hit a disaster trifecta: an impending bilateral agreement on the Persian atomic bomb program that excludes Israel, a malicious leak of classified data on Israel’s nuclear capabilities, and the announcement of a RAND Corporation/Herzl Institute collaboration to “rethink long-term strategy for Israel.”

Contrast Israel’s Herzl Institute with the RAND Corporation.  Herzl is what RAND used to be: small, focused, candid, and uncorrupted by political correctness, multiculturalism, or the avarice that now passes for research diversity.  Any institution that pretends to be all things to all clients probably isn’t much use to any. 

Indeed, Herzl is different to the extent that their scholars bring a critical moral dimension to analysis, a quality sadly lacking in the quantitative sterility of most science today, at places like RAND Corporation in particular.  The great questions of 21st Century security require moral not scientific solutions.  Moral clarity is not the strong suit of California corporate weathervanes that turn with the politics of the moment. 

In Washington, think tanks are known as “Beltway Bandits.” RAND is known as the mother of think tanks for good reason.  Fiscal success today may be more a function of rationalizing policy rather than assessing failures and designing futures.  Surely, the politically correct convergence of Obama administration and RAND perspectives on Muslin kinetics and Islamic imperialism is no accident.

A policy of “Mowing the grass” may be an expedient for Israel now and in the near future.  However, if the alternative is appeasement, surrender, or annihilation; then tactical yard work looks pretty good.  Israel needs to remember that large social democracies and their defense intellectuals can afford to be wrong and still survive a decade of strategic incompetence.  Israel has no such luxury – and no future that can be predicated on wishful thinking.

American politics is likely to be more about personal legacy than national prudence for the next couple of years.  Israel doesn’t need to go along to get along, especially in times when tepid allies are hostile -- and “partners” like RAND are working both sides of the street.  The eye of the hurricane is not necessarily the worst place to be when the winds of war are wreaking havoc elsewhere. 

Murphy Donovan writes about the politics of national security.  He was a USAF Intelligence Research Fellow at RAND and subsequently the project monitor for ACSI/USAF research at RAND Corporation under General James Clapper.


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Cruz threatens to fine State Department over delayed release of Iran rights report - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

“The Obama State Department simply ignored the law. They refused to produce the report. Months have gone by and they continue to refuse to produce the report.”

Flouting the law once again, the Obama administration refuses to release a report detailing Iranian human rights violations. By federal statute, the report was supposed to be released February 25. But not wanting to embarrass his new friends in Tehran, Obama has refused to obey the law and give Congress the information required.

Senator Ted Cruz wants to fine the State Department for their foot dragging.

Washington Free Beacon:
Cruz and other senators petitioned the State Department in May to comply with federal law compelling the report’s public release.
“That report was due by law on February 25,” Cruz told the Washington Free Beacon in an interview. “The Obama State Department simply ignored the law. They refused to produce the report. Months have gone by and they continue to refuse to produce the report.”
Angered by this delay, Cruz is gearing up to file legislation this week that would fine the State Department 5 percent of its budget for every 30 days it postpones releasing the report, according to a copy of the bill viewed by the Free Beacon.
“It is a penalty for willfully violating federal law,” Cruz explained. “This is also a policy decision that is profoundly counterproductive.”
“This simply puts a financial bite into the obligation because the Obama administration has demonstrated a willingness over and over again to violate federal law,” Cruz added.
Iran has long been a leading violator of human rights, carrying out hundreds of state-sanctioned executions and abusing the human rights of its citizens. Iran also continues to imprison several American citizens who human rights advocates report are being abused.
Cruz said the report is likely being delayed in order to avoid upsetting the Iranians and potentially harming ongoing nuclear discussion.
“It appears that both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry are trying to sweep under the rug Iran’s horrific human rights record because, presumably, acknowledging that fact would be inconvenient” for the ongoing diplomacy with Iran, Cruz said.
The policy, he added, appears to be “surrender everything to the Iranian mullahs in a hope they will accede to a [nuclear deal that only accelerates their acquiring nuclear weapons.”
The lawmaker and current presidential candidate went on to accuse the administration of ignoring Iranian human rights abuses.
“This administration has consistently refused to address the human rights violations” committed by Iran, including the imprisonment of Americans such as Saeed Abedini and Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, Cruz said.
“The Obama administration seems more focused on swilling Chardonnay with Iranian despots then on securing the release of American citizens wrongly imprisoned,” he said.
The State Department's "The dog ate my homework" excuse? Secretary Kerry's travel schedule:
“The secretary’s participation in the report rollout, even if it must be delayed by his travel, elevates the report,” the State Department said, according to a copy of the letter. “The secretary has needed to travel abroad for extended periods, often on short notice, during the past three months to address a variety of pressing foreign policy concerns.”
Kerry's travel schedule over the last three months is irrelevant. The report was due out in February - that's 4 months ago. I guess they're not very good at counting at State these days.

And how about that claim that the delay "elevates the report." Are they insane? Who believes that except 5 year olds and liberals.

Cruz should give any cash the State Department pays in fines to Iranian human rights groups. Given the tyranny they live under, they can use it.

Rick Moran


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'Obama deliberately damaged US-Israel relations' - Shlomo Cesana and Israel Hayom Staff

by Shlomo Cesana and Israel Hayom Staff

U.S. President Barack Obama intentionally violated "no daylight" and "no surprises" principles of U.S.-Israel ties, former Israeli Ambassador to U.S. Michael Oren says • Oren: Obama changed U.S. policy on Iran and the Palestinians without telling Israel.

Former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren
 Photo credit: Gideon Markowicz

Shlomo Cesana and Israel Hayom Staff


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OPM "Hacking": was it the result of incompetence or treason? - Richard Fernandez

by Richard Fernandez

The attackers “had valid user credentials and run of network” which they obtained through “social engineering”.

Ars Technica, describing how China “hacked” the OPM database, obtaining the records of millions of Federal Employees, notes that we should we should use the word “hack” advisedly.  The attackers “had valid user credentials and run of network” which they obtained through “social engineering”.
Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity Dr. Andy Ozment testified that encryption would “not have helped in this case” because the attackers had gained valid user credentials to the systems that they attacked—likely through social engineering. And because of the lack of multifactor authentication on these systems, the attackers would have been able to use those credentials at will to access systems from within and potentially even from outside the network.
“Social engineering” for those that don’t know, is an IT security term for “someone gave them the password”. It’s not hard to see how the Chinese might have wheedled out a credential.
Some of the contractors that have helped OPM with managing internal data have had security issues of their own—including potentially giving foreign governments direct access to data long before the recent reported breaches. A consultant who did some work with a company contracted by OPM to manage personnel records for a number of agencies told Ars that he found the Unix systems administrator for the project “was in Argentina and his co-worker was physically located in the [People's Republic of China]. Both had direct access to every row of data in every database: they were root. Another team that worked with these databases had at its head two team members with PRC passports. I know that because I challenged them personally and revoked their privileges. From my perspective, OPM compromised this information more than three years ago and my take on the current breach is ‘so what’s new?’”
Katherine Achuleta, the director of OPM claims that at least she found the “hack” — note the use of scare quotes used to preserve the reputation of real, honest hacking.  ”Archuleta told the committee that the breach was found only because she had been pushing forward with an aggressive plan to update OPM’s security, centralizing the oversight of IT security under the chief information officer and implementing ‘numerous tools and capabilities.’ She claimed that it was during the process of updating tools that the breach was discovered.”

Admiral Kimmel should have used that line at Pearl Harbor. “I noticed the base was bombed and informed Washington immediately.”

Katherine Achuleta, the person in charge of the Crown Jewels has had an interesting career path to her current position. Her biography at reveals a person proud of her membership in an “inclusive workforce that reflects the diversity of America”. Nowhere, however does her biography indicate that she knows diddly squat about computers, computer networks or security.
On May 23, 2013, President Obama appointed Director Archuleta to lead the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM), the agency responsible for attracting and retaining an innovative, diverse and talented workforce to make the Federal government a model employer for the 21st century.
On November 4th, Archuleta was sworn in to begin her tenure as the 10th Director of OPM, and the first Latina to head this federal agency.
Director Archuleta began her career in public service as a teacher in the Denver public school system. She left teaching to work as an aide to Denver Mayor Federico Peña. When Mayor Peña became Secretary of Transportation during the Clinton Administration, Archuleta continued her public service as his Chief of Staff. Later, Peña was appointed to head the Department of Energy and Archuleta served as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of the Secretary.
After the Clinton Administration, she went back to local government and became a Senior Policy Advisor to Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper.
Archuleta spent the first two years of the Obama Administration serving as the Chief of Staff at the Department of Labor to Secretary Hilda Solis.
As the Director of OPM, Archuleta is committed to building an innovative and inclusive workforce that reflects the diversity of America. As a long-time public servant, she is a champion of Federal employees.
But OPM is right though. Encryption wouldn’t have helped.  The problem was somewhere else. Modern Western society has its own definition of “social engineering”.  It apparently means putting people in charge of things not because they know anything about it, but because they possess the highest symbolic value.  Race, gender, inclination or identification — especially political identification — are so much more important these days then being able to tell a difference between a hashed key and corned beef hash.

We’re in a race to the bottom.  And this time, we’ll win.

Watch a video of Jason Chaffetz interviewing Katherine Achuleta (scroll down to video)

Richard Fernandez


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Exposing the Israeli NGOs Attacking Israel at the UN - Matan Peleg

by Matan Peleg

Sometimes it's hard to face up to the cold reality, but we must confront the insidious threat of foreign-funded left-wing NGOs waging Europe's war on Israel.

It is a function of the human condition that we are very easily given to denial. As a parent, one does not want to hear that your child misbehaved at school. We rationalize all sorts of behavior because we prefer to maintain an aura of tranquility. This is generally true on the national level as well. When a beloved or respected public figure is found to have engaged in immoral and/or illegal behavior, we find it very difficult to process the dissonance.

I receive plenty of criticism for my views and I am never shy in proffering criticism of those I feel should know better. This is normal political discourse. The recent brouhaha regarding the state funding of culture has shown one thing – that freedom of expression is not injured when the state refuses to subsidise projects which it determines are injurious and deleterious to society. Yet while this lesson is being internalised with respect to the arts, we remain oblivious to more pressing problems.

Im Tirzu has long sought to draw attention to the fact that many of the so-called human rights groups that operate in Israel are in fact foreign funded quislings who hurt Israel’s standing and reputation in the world. In a report that Im Tirzu published Tuesday, we have documented over twenty different instances of just three NGOs that have made it their business to embed themselves into international fora and mechanisms, such as the Economic-Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC) and the UN High Commission on Human Rights, the latter of which was the primary vehicle for the infamous and ultimately retracted Goldstone Report.

It is a matter of public record that the three organizations in question (Adalah, Ittjiah and Israelis against House Demolitions) have been the beneficiaries of millions of euros over the past decade. Both the European Commission and individual member states fund groups like these directly as well as funding larger organisations such as the New Israel Fund, who in turn disburse the funds to these organisations and others like it.

It is time to call a spade a spade, reclassify these organizations as foreign funded lobbies and subject them to the same scrutiny and transparency as similar groups undergo in the West, where in countries such as the United States and Britain, they are required by law to declare their donors and political intentions. Legislation mandating transparency has already been suggested in various forms and is urgently required to mitigate the damage groups like Adalah have done and continue to do to the State of Israel.

Matan Peleg


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Group Counters 'Breaking the Silence' Testimony to EU - Refael Levi

by Refael Levi

The new My Truth group gathers testimony from IDF soldiers which presents a true picture of how Israel conducts itself in wars.

Matan Katzman, a retired Givati ​​officer retired and active in the My Truth pro-IDF organization, spoke Wednesday before the EU's Subcommittee on Human Rights, which is expected to arrive in Israel as part of its ongoing fact-finding mission on Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

My Truth was established about six weeks ago by five reservists, in response to the extreme leftist group Breaking the Silence. 

Avihay Shoreshan, one the founders of the organization, told Arutz Sheva that the five were spurred by Breaking the Silence's falsehoods in their highly-published report. 

"When we saw that what they are doing in this report, claiming that the IDF acted in an aggressive and inhumane way, and basically said it all apart from the actual use of the term 'war crimes', we went on an operation of our own to gather testimonies from soldiers who fought in [Protective Edge] and other operations who capture the true spirit of the IDF," he said. 

Shoreshan noted that pro-IDF testimony in the media - unlike the stories perpetuated by Breaking the Silence - was "virtually non-existent." 

Katzman's testimony is expected to influence the commission and various organizations involved with the EU Subcommittee, he said, and My Truth was invited to counteract Breaking the Silence's and other leftist groups' testimony by the Foreign Ministry. 

"He told the committee that the reality on the ground is not black and white," Shoreshan said. "He spoke about personal incidents he had as an officer, and he qualified to the Europeans the descriptions given by Breaking the Silence and noted they have an agenda."

Katzman added that "there is no political body which stands behind us, we represent the entire political spectrum in Israel" in making the speech, according to Shoreshan. 

"Breaking the Silence constantly boasts that they stimulate debate in Israel and abroad, but in practice most of their work is to go speak to parliaments - and that they don't speak about," he added. 

Refael Levi


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Jordan Fears Imminent ISIS Invasion - Yaakov Levi

by Yaakov Levi

Jordan is preparing for invasions by Islamic terror groups by arming Bedouins in Syria and Iraq to prevent incursions, reports say.

Jordan's King Abdullah II
Jordan's King Abdullah II
Jordan is gearing up for a possible invasion by Islamic terror groups, local media reported Thursday. 

According to reports, King Abdullah II, on a tour this week of border areas near Iraq and Syria, offered to arm Bedouin tribes living in those areas - on both sides of the border - to fight against Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, which threaten Jordan from the east and north. 

Abdullah's concern has been growing in recent weeks, reports said, over the fact that after 3,000 bombing raids by the US and its allies, ISIS has not been beaten back – and seems only to get stronger. 

With the organization solidifying its rule in much of Iraq and Syria = and in line with its pledge to expand its “Islamic caliphate” to the entire world, starting with the Muslim countries - Abdullah believes that Jordan is high up on ISIS's list for an attempted takeover.

Meanwhile, Jordan faces another danger from the north. 

The Al-Nusra group, a fundamentalist organization associated with Al Qaeda, controls much of the area on the other side of the Syrian border. This group, too, has expansionist plans, and the open frontier between Syria and Jordan is almost an open invitation to incursions by the group.

During a tour of the border areas on June 15, Abdullah stated that it was Jordan's obligation “to assist Arab tribes in Iraq and Syria,” hinting that he would rely on the tribes as a first line of defense against incursions by ISIS and Al-Nusra.

The tribes living on both sides of the border have close ties, and Abdullah believes that they would aggressively defend their areas from invasion by the Islamist groups, reports said.

Abdullah's declaration set off rumors in the Arab media that Jordan was preparing to seize border areas on Iraq and Syria in order to fend off invaders. That plan was denied by Ahmad Almoumani, an advisor to Abdullah. 

“Jordan has no plans to expand at the expense of neighboring countries, who we respect and value. We hope to preserve our own independence, and our borders," he stressed.

Yaakov Levi


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China bans Ramadan fasting in mainly Muslim region - AFP

by AFP

Where is the world's outrage?  Just imagine what would happen if Israel had issued such an edict - which it never would, since Israel practices religious tolerance.

China has banned civil servants, students and teachers in its mainly Muslim Xinjiang region from fasting during Ramadan and ordered restaurants to stay open.

Most Muslims are required to fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month, which began on Thursday, but China's ruling Communist party is officially atheist and for years has restricted the practice in Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.

"Food service workplaces will operate normal hours during Ramadan," said a notice posted last week on the website of the state Food and Drug Administration in Xinjiang's Jinghe county.

Officials in the region's Bole county were told: "During Ramadan do not engage in fasting, vigils or other religious activities," according to a local government website report of a meeting this week.

Each year, the authorities' attempt to ban fasting among Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang receives widespread criticism from rights groups.

Uighur rights groups say China's restrictions on Islam in Xinjiang have added to ethnic tensions in the region, where clashes have killed hundreds in recent years.

China says it faces a "terrorist threat" in Xinjiang, with officials blaming "religious extremism" for the growing violence.

"China's goal in prohibiting fasting is to forcibly move Uighurs away from their Muslim culture during Ramadan," said Dilxat Rexit, a spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress.

"Policies that prohibit religious fasting is a provocation and will only lead to instability and conflict."

As in previous years, school children were included in directives limiting Ramadan fasting and other religious observances.

The education bureau of Tarbaghatay city, known as Tacheng in Chinese, this month ordered schools to communicate to students that "during Ramadan, ethnic minority students do not fast, do not enter mosques ... and do not attend religious activities".

Similar orders were posted on the websites of other Xinjiang education bureaus and schools.
Officials in the region's Qiemo county this week met local religious leaders to inform them there would be increased inspections during Ramadan in order to "maintain social stability", the county's official website said.

Ahead of the holy month, one village in Yili, near the border with Kazakhstan, said mosques must check the identification cards of anyone who comes to pray during Ramadan, according to a notice on the government's website.

The Bole county government said that Mehmet Talip, a 90-year-old Uighur Communist Party member, had promised to avoid fasting and vowed to "not enter a mosque in order to consciously resist religious and superstitious ideas".



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Does CAIR Represent American Muslims? - Johanna Markind

by Johanna Markind

Even if the national CAIR organization truly represented its "membership" in the national American Muslim community, why is it pretending to represent the Massachusetts Muslim community?

Originally published under the title, "Does CAIR Represent Boston's Muslim Community?"

Notwithstanding this powerfully staged April 2015 photo-op of CAIR chapter directors, none of the "chapters" fundraise, solicit membership dues, or undertake other activities demonstrating substantial community support. Some don't exist at all.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), an unindicted co-conspirator in America's largest terrorism financing case, which is officially banned from FBI cooperation, claims to be a mainstream organization advocating for the civil rights of American Muslims. Shortly after Usaama Rahim was shot by law enforcement in Boston on June 2, CAIR leapt into action.

The national organization, that is. Its National Communications Director, Ibrahim Hooper, was quoted in an AP story on the day of the shooting as identifying Rahim, who was communicating with ISIS and under 24-hour surveillance by the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and serving as an intermediary with Rahim's family. Hooper was also quoted by ABC, asserting that CAIR "will monitor the investigation" of the shooting. Its National Civil Rights Litigation Director, Jenifer Wicks, was quoted in a June 3 Boston Globe story, asking for an independent and thorough investigation "given the recent high profile shootings of African-American men." Wicks' name also appeared on a June 3 press release the national organization issued about the shooting.

Contrary to CAIR's press release, it has no local chapter in Boston.
Although the press release coyly refers to "CAIR-Boston," and although Hooper told MSNBC "two of our Massachusetts chapter board members were in the meeting" at which authorities showed the surveillance video of the shooting, there is no local chapter there – hence the need for the national office to jump in. One finds an occasional reference to CAIR Massachusetts as, for instance, on the CAIR Kansas website, but the link is defunct. The telephone directory has no listing of a number for CAIR or Council on American-Islamic Relations in Boston. CAIR's chapter list, which records a total of 28 chapters (a Washington office and 27 state chapters), does not mention any CAIR branch in the state.

On previous occasions, CAIR proudly proclaimed that it had at least 32 chapters. Back in July 2007, CAIR claimed to have grown to 33 chapters. In another publication from the same month, it claimed to have a total of 32 chapters across the United States. Five years later, it was claiming the same number of 32, "nationwide and in Canada." Somehow it lost at least four United States chapters in the interim. There is a website for a National Council of Canadian Muslims, elsewhere referred to as CAIR-CAN; even if this is a vibrant organization, there is no information about local chapters. Counting Canada, CAIR has a total of 29 chapters.

Defunct chapter links on the CAIR Kansas webpage
CAIR websites (e.g., CAIR Kansas and CAIR Ohio) list defunct hyperlinks to CAIR Georgia, Nevada, New Jersey, and South Carolina, in addition to Massachusetts. CAIR's list identifies chapters in Georgia and Kentucky but atypically lists no website or email address for either. It does include a hyperlink to a website for CAIR New Jersey, but the account has been "suspended." It lists no chapters in Nevada, South Carolina, or Massachusetts. None of these chapters or pseudo-chapters (Massachusetts, Georgia, Kentucky, Nevada, New Jersey, or South Carolina) has its own employer identification number (EIN).

There was an Atlanta-based "NGA" chapter, which had its own EIN, but it appears to be defunct. It has not filed a tax return since 2008, and reported no income after 2006. Its website returns "server not found," and it does not appear on CAIR's list.

Let's return to CAIR's national office. In 2000, the year before 9/11, it had a membership of 29,000. By 2006, five years after 9/11, membership had dropped to under 1,700. In 2000, it received $732,765 income from membership dues. By 2004, which is to say, three years after 9/11, this Muslim Brotherhood organization claimed to have received only $119,029 income from membership dues. Its income for the latter part of the decade cannot be determined because, for three years, it failed to file tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. For the years 2011-2013, it reported zero income from membership dues.

As for fundraising, CAIR netted $106,879 this way in 2011, $233,084 in 2012, and only $39,732 in 2013.

Amazingly, it still has plenty of money. In 2011, CAIR received $3,964,990 in "contributions, gifts, [and] grants." In 2012, it received $1,581,411. In 2013, the amount was $2,201,843.

For the years 2011-2013, CAIR reported the income at right.
It should also be noted that in 2005, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Inc., set up a new corporation, CAIR Foundation, Inc., transferred some assets to the new entity ("new CAIR"), and eventually renamed itself the Washington Trust Foundation, Inc. The relationship between the two corporations is, at best, confusing, with hundreds of thousands of dollars being lent back and forth between the two.

In 2013, Washington Trust Foundation ("old CAIR") reported "contributions, gifts, [or] grants" totaling $381,500. It reported no income from membership dues or fundraising events.

It's unclear from where new or old CAIR's money is coming, but one thing is clear: it isn't membership dues from the American Muslims CAIR claims to represent, and little is coming from formal fundraising efforts to the American Muslim community. Whatever persons or groups are financing CAIR – which last year the United Arab Emirates designated as a terrorist organization – it is reasonable to suppose that CAIR is representing their interests, not those of its "membership."

Even if the national CAIR organization truly represented its "membership" in the national American Muslim community, why is it pretending to represent the Massachusetts Muslim community?

Johanna Markind is associate counselor at the Middle East Forum


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Swedish supermarkets back out of Israel boycott after media campaign - Itamar Eichner

by Itamar Eichner

Consumer's assembly at northern Sweden city adopts pro-Palestinian proposal to take Israeli products off the shelves; campaign led by Israeli embassy focusing on fair trade forced boycotting stores to fold.

Israel has won an important victory over the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS) when a boycott on the sale of Israeli products in a supermarket chain in Sweden has been cancelled.

The national supermarket chain COOP has 655 branches across Sweden. Israel, that was worried the boycott would spread from three local stores in the city of Varberg to all branches nationwide, launched an impressive media campaign to combat it.
Two and a half months ago, pro-Palestinian organizations submitted a proposal calling to take off the shelves any products manufactured in Israel, including those produced inside the Green Line. This was a mostly symbolic proposal, as the chain only sells avocado and persimmon from Israel.

COOP store in Sweden.
COOP store in Sweden.
After the proposal was adopted with a great majority at a local consumer's assembly, Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman decided, with the help of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, to fight the boycott not with arguments about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - but with arguments against the concept of a commercial boycott.

"We didn't talk about the righteousness of Israel, rather we spoke in the name of fair trade and avoiding discrimination of any state," Bachman explained.
Bachman turned to the company's management, while at the same time pro-Israel activists in Sweden started posting against the supermarket chain's decision on social media. A Swedish businessman opened a Facebook page titled "Opposing the Boycott against Israel," which received 2,500 likes.
The Israeli embassy, meanwhile, posted phone numbers and e-mail addresses of the COOP chain's management and encouraged pro-Israel activists to flood them with messages against the boycott. Thousands of people heeded the call and threatened to boycott the supermarket chain if it continues its boycott against Israel.

Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman
Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman

"There was a great protest. A lot of people here are against boycotts," Bachman said. "We talked about fair trade. We explained that anyone who supports a boycott hurts the customers and the quality of the products. It resonated with people."
Several days ago, Bachman met with the CEO of the supermarkets chain and asked him to intervene. "They were shocked by the volume of messages they received."
This led the chain's national management to reject the boycott and threaten that if the Varberg stores do not stop the boycott, they will no longer be a part of the chain, effectively putting an end to the boycott.
"The lesson I learned is that we must not, under absolutely no circumstances, give up, and we must launch a counter-campaign," Bachman said. "If you go for the consumer side, without getting into the issue of the conflict, your story would be better and stronger."

Itamar Eichner


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Thursday, June 18, 2015

'Entropy on a scale not seen in centuries'‎ - Clifford D. May

by Clifford D. May

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav

Expanding on his remarks in written testimony, Flynn emphasized that Iran's increasing ‎capabilities should be viewed in light of its intentions. But the White House, he said, has refused ‎to "acknowledge the frequent warnings from our intelligence community, especially defense ‎intelligence, regarding the hegemonic behaviors of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn (ret.) served 33 years in the U.S. Army. Being named President ‎Obama's director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012 was the culmination of his career. ‎He thought his job was to relate facts, not fables. It soon became clear that his superiors didn't ‎agree. ‎

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and ‎North Africa. Rep. Ted Deutch is the ranking member. Last week, they invited Flynn to testify. ‎They -- and anyone else concerned about the threats facing America and her allies -- should think ‎hard about what he told them.‎

Most pressing is the nuclear deal with Iran's rulers that the president is attempting to conclude by ‎the end of this month. Flynn warned that it is shaping up as "not a permanent fix but merely ‎a placeholder. The 10-year time frame only makes sense if the administration truly believes the ‎Iranian regime will change its strategic course." And that, he said, can only be characterized as ‎‎"wishful thinking."‎

Iran's rulers continue to claim that whatever nuclear research they are conducting -- in facilities ‎buried under mountains and at military installations -- is exclusively for generating electricity and ‎other peaceful purposes. But they also are developing missiles -- presumably not as a means for ‎keeping air conditioners humming in kindergartens. The missiles they possess today can reach ‎targets throughout most of the Middle East. The missiles they will possess tomorrow, Flynn ‎predicted, "will include ICBMs capable of attacking the American homeland."‎

He is puzzled by the fact that Iran's missile program has been excluded from the negotiations: "I ‎don't see how delivery systems (missiles or sophisticated guidance) can be excluded from any ‎‎'deal.' Reach is as important as force, just as in boxing."‎

Expanding on his remarks in written testimony, Flynn emphasized that Iran's increasing ‎capabilities should be viewed in light of its intentions. But the White House, he said, has refused ‎to "acknowledge the frequent warnings from our intelligence community, especially defense ‎intelligence, regarding the hegemonic behaviors of the Islamic Republic of Iran." In other words, ‎Iran's supreme leader and his Islamic Revolutionary Guards clearly mean to extend their ‎theocratic empire throughout Middle East.‎
Flynn told lawmakers -- more tactfully than I am about to -- that Obama's policies ‎are failing not just vis-à-vis Iran but also vis-à-vis the Islamic State group and al-Qaida. The death toll ‎in Syria since a civil war began there in 2011 and in Iraq since the U.S. withdrawal the same year ‎is over 200,000 with no indication that the carnage will end any time soon. Libya and Yemen are ‎in chaos. Russia, China and North Korea are taking advantage of what they perceive as American ‎fecklessness. One could go on.‎

Not only isn't Obama asking his advisors for an alternative policy, "anyone who ‎proposes one," Flynn told Congress, "is immediately exiled from the establishment."‎

He knows whereof he speaks. He was -- assuming I've read the evidence correctly and I'm ‎confident I have -- forced out as military intelligence chief last year for refusing to toe the ‎administration's line that the "tide of war" is receding and that the terrorists are "on the run." ‎Echoing those memes would have been a career booster but it would have been dishonest at a ‎time when he and other top intelligence officers were well aware that the conflicts initiated by ‎those claiming to fight for the global triumph of Islam are spreading, intensifying and ‎accelerating.‎

The White House insists that if Iran signs a nuclear agreement and then proceeds to violate it, ‎U.S. intelligence will not be blindsided. As someone who knows what America's spooks can and ‎cannot do, Flynn is skeptical. He cited a recent Defense Science Board study concluding ‎that "creative missile and nuclear proliferators" have the upper hand "in the cat and mouse game ‎they are playing with the United States and the international community."‎

Not long ago, Obama was saying that no deal with Iran would be preferable to a bad ‎deal with Iran. Were that proposition were still operative, the American side would walk unless ‎Iran agreed to "open up all of its facilities, scientific, military, and current nuclear facilities, for ‎international inspections."‎
Iran's rulers have been saying they will never do that. The most they may permit is "managed ‎access" which lets them decide where inspectors go and when. Would that give them an ‎opportunity to hide what they don't want inspectors to see? The question answers itself.‎

The president and his supporters say if we don't go along with Iran's terms for an agreement the ‎consequence will be war. Flynn told Congress that a range of other options should be ‎considered and he suggested key components of some of them. His main point, however, is that ‎‎"we face a very radicalized element in the likes of Islamic extremism, Sunni and Shia." That ‎leads him to this tough conclusion: "The administration's refusal to state what we can plainly see ‎is beyond irresponsible."‎
He worries that unless there is a shift, the result will be "entropy on a scale not seen in centuries. ‎We would have no way of anticipating risk, much less managing or containing it. Delusions ‎abound these days, but anyone who can argue for an ICBM- or nuclear-capable Iran is more a ‎pyromaniac than pragmatist."‎

If Flynn's warnings have begun to resonate on Capitol Hill, I would expect a solid majority ‎of members of Congress -- Democratic and Republican alike -- to vehemently oppose any ‎agreement with Iran based on "wishful thinking." But perhaps that's just wishful thinking on my ‎part.‎

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a ‎columnist for The Washington Times.


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