Saturday, July 4, 2015

The worst agreement in U.S. diplomatic history - Charles Krauthammer

by Charles Krauthammer

Hat tip: Dr. Carolyn Tal

The devil is not in the details. It’s in the entire conception of the Iran deal, animated by President Obama’s fantastical belief that he, uniquely, could achieve detente with a fanatical Islamist regime whose foundational purpose is to cleanse the Middle East of the poisonous corruption of American power and influence.

In pursuit of his desire to make the Islamic Republic into an accepted, normalized “successful regional power,” Obama decided to take over the nuclear negotiations. At the time, Tehran was reeling — the rial plunging, inflation skyrocketing, the economy contracting — under a regime of international sanctions painstakingly constructed over a decade.
Then, instead of welcoming Congress’ attempt to tighten sanctions to increase the pressure on the mullahs, Obama began the negotiations by loosening sanctions, injecting billions into the Iranian economy (which began growing again in 2014) and conceding in advance an Iranian right to enrich uranium.
It’s been downhill ever since. Desperate for a legacy deal, Obama has played the supplicant, abandoning every red line his administration had declared essential to any acceptable deal.
Inspections. They were to be anywhere, anytime, unimpeded. Now? Total cave. Unfettered access has become “managed access.” Nuclear inspectors will have to negotiate and receive Iranian approval for inspections. Which allows them denial and/or crucial delay for concealing any clandestine activities.
To give a flavor of the degree of our capitulation, the administration played Iran’s lawyer on this one, explaining that, after all, “the United States of America wouldn’t allow anybody to get into every military site, so that’s not appropriate.” Apart from the absurdity of morally equating America with the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, if we were going to parrot the Iranian position, why wait 19 months to do so — after repeatedly insisting on free access as essential to any inspection regime?
Coming clean on past nuclear activity. The current interim agreementthat governed the past 19 months of negotiation required Iran to do exactly that. Tehran has offered nothing. The administration had insisted that this accounting was essential because how can you verify future illegal advances in Iran’s nuclear program if you have no baseline?
After continually demanding access to their scientists, plans and weaponization facilities, Secretary of State John Kerry two weeks ago airily dismissed the need, saying he is focused on the future, “not fixated” on the past. And that we have “absolute knowledge” of the Iranian program anyway — a whopper that his staffers had to spend days walking back.
Not to worry, we are told. The accounting will be done after the final deal is signed. Which is ridiculous. If the Iranians haven’t budged on disclosing previous work under the current sanctions regime, by what logic will they comply after sanctions are lifted?
Sanctions relief. These were to be gradual and staged as the International Atomic Energy Agency certified Iranian compliance over time. Now we’re going to be releasing up to $150 billion as an upfront signing bonus. That’s 25 times the annual budget of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Enough to fuel a generation of intensified Iranian aggression from Yemen to Lebanon to Bahrain.
Yet three months ago, Obama expressed nonchalance about immediate sanctions relief. It’s not the issue, he said. The real issue is “snap-back” sanctions to be reimposed if Iran is found in violation.
Good grief. Iran won’t be found in violation. The inspection regime is laughable and the bureaucratic procedures endless. Moreover, does anyone imagine that Russia and China will reimpose sanctions? Or that the myriad European businesses preparing to join the Iranian gold rush the day the deal is signed will simply turn around and go home?
Nonnuclear-related sanctions. The administration insisted that the nuclear talks would not affect separate sanctions imposed because of Iranian aggression and terrorism. That was then. The administration is now leaking that everything will be lifted.
Taken together, the catalog of capitulations is breathtaking: spot inspections, disclosure of previous nuclear activity, gradual sanctions relief, retention of nonnuclear sanctions.
What’s left? A surrender document of the kind offered by defeated nations suing for peace. Consider: The strongest military and economic power on earth, backed by the five other major powers, armed with what had been a crushing sanctions regime, is about to sign the worst international agreement in U.S. diplomatic history.
How did it come to this? With every concession, Obama and Kerry made clear they were desperate for a deal.
And they will get it. Obama will get his “legacy.” Kerry will get his Nobel. And Iran will get the bomb.
Charles Krauthammer


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

Who Is Damaging Relations Between Arabs and Jews? - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

  • Some Arab Knesset (parliament) members have devoted much of their time and efforts to helping the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- who have their own leaders, spokesmen, representatives -- at the expense of their own constituents in Israel.
  • How does joining a flotilla to the Gaza Strip solve any problems facing Arab Israelis, such as unemployment and poverty? It is also a betrayal of the Arab voters who sent them to the Knesset to fight for more public funds and services for the Arabs in Israel.
  • Would the two Knesset members be willing to risk their lives for the people who voted for them? It was hard to find Arab Israelis who saw anything positive in Ghattas's decision to sail aboard a ship to the Gaza Strip. In fact, many did not hesitate privately to criticize the decision.
  • It is time for Arab Israelis to endorse a new approach toward their state, and distance themselves from representatives who act against their interests and damage relations between Jews and Arabs.
  • If some Knesset members wish to devote their time and energy to helping the Palestinians, they should consider moving to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Otherwise, they need to start addressing the problems facing their constituents and refrain from causing further damage to Arab-Jewish relations.
Once again, it is time to remind the representatives of the Arab citizens of Israel in the Knesset (parliament) who their real constituents are.

It is time to remind these representatives that they were elected by Arab citizens of Israel, and not by Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The reason why the Arab Knesset members need to be reminded of who their real constituents are is because some of them seem to have forgotten that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have their own leaders, spokesmen and representatives.

In recent years, some of the Arab Knesset members have devoted much of their time and efforts to helping the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, at the expense of their own constituents in Israel.

The actions and rhetoric of some of the Arab Knesset members have also caused huge damage to relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. The biggest losers are the Israeli Arabs, whose representatives in the Knesset have done little to improve their living conditions.

Arab Knesset member Basel Ghattas of the Joint List is the latest example of how the Arab representatives continue to act against the interests of their real constituents, the Israeli Arabs.

In late June, Ghattas left Israel to join another Gaza-bound flotilla that set sail from Greece.
He is the second Arab Knesset member to join such a mission. Five years ago, another Knesset member, Haneen Zoabi, joined the Mavi Marmara flotilla, whose goal was to "break the blockade" of the Gaza Strip.

The main goal of the organizers of the flotillas is to force Israel to lift the naval blockade, which is legal under international law and approved by the United Nations, and is intended to prevent the smuggling of weapons into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. The flotilla organizers are trying to help Hamas rid itself of the state of isolation it has gotten itself into ever since it forced the Palestinian Authority's Fatah out of the Gaza Strip to seize control of it, in the summer of 2007.

Both Ghattas and Zoabi were prepared to risk their lives in order to help Hamas, whose leaders feel emboldened by the support that the Islamist movement is receiving from Knesset members and "pro-Palestinian" activists in various parts of the world. Fortunately for the two Knesset members, they were unhurt when Israeli army commandos intercepted their vessels both five years ago and this week.

Would the two Knesset members be willing to risk their lives to help those who voted for them? How does joining a flotilla mission to the Gaza Strip solve any of the problems facing Arab Israelis, such as unemployment and poverty?

Haneen Zoabi (L) and Basel Ghattas (R), Arab members of Israel's parliament, both participated in flotillas attempting to break Israel's legal naval blockade of the Gaza strip.

It was hard this week to find Arab Israelis who saw anything positive in Ghattas's decision to sail aboard a ship to the Gaza Strip. In fact, many did not hesitate privately to criticize the decision. They noted that it would do nothing to improve their living conditions. However, most of the critics were afraid to go on the record because they feared accusations of being "traitors" for speaking out against one of their representatives in the Knesset.

Unfortunately, Ghattas and Zoabi are not the only Arab Knesset members who continue to devote much of their time and efforts to serving as advocates for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Of course, there is nothing wrong with expressing solidarity with the Palestinians living there. But some of the Arab Knesset members have clearly crossed red lines by betraying the interests of Arab Israelis. Surely, identifying with the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip does not serve any of the interests of the Arabs in Israel.

Ghattas and his friends in the Knesset, who have become spokespersons for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, are further widening the gap between Jews and Arabs in Israel. They are responsible for the fact that many Israeli Jews are today convinced that the Arab Israelis are a fifth column and an enemy from within.

The fiery anti-Israel rhetoric and actions of some Arab Knesset members has scared many Israeli Jews to a point where some of them have stopped visiting Arab towns in Israel.

Ghattas's decision to join the Gaza-bound flotilla is an act of provocation against Israel. It is also a betrayal of the interests of the Arab voters who sent him to the Knesset to fight for more public funds and services to the Arab sector in Israel. Provoking the Israeli public with such actions is the last thing the Arab Israelis want.

Some would argue that Ghattas and his friends in the Knesset are only seeking publicity through their provocative rhetoric and actions. According to this view, these Arab Knesset members are just seeking media attention and they do not care what is written about them as long as their names are spelled correctly.

Others would argue that they are engaged in such provocations because they really care about their Palestinian brethren living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In both cases, the Arab citizens of Israel are the biggest losers. Joining a pro-Hamas flotilla is not going to ensure jobs for Arab university graduates or bring more public funds to the Arab sector. It is time for Arab Israelis to endorse a new approach toward their state -- one different from that displayed by Ghattas and his friends. The new approach should be based on reaching out to their fellow Jewish citizens with a message of tolerance and coexistence, and not provocation and alienation.

It is time for Arab Israelis to distance themselves from those representatives who are acting against their interests and damaging relations between Jews and Arabs. If there are some Knesset members who wish to devote their time and energy to helping the Palestinians, they should consider moving to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But if they want to stay in Israel, they need to start addressing the problems facing their constituents and refrain from causing further damage to Arab-Jewish relations.
  • Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

Khaled Abu Toameh


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

Is the Clinton Email Coverup Unraveling? - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

The noose tightens as investigators move closer to seizing her illegal personal email server.

Federal investigators may be closer to seizing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's illicit off-site email server as evidence emerges that she transmitted classified information through it and that key Obama White House officials knew about her clandestine email account for years.

On Tuesday the Department of State made available on its website 3,000 pages of Clinton's emails. Clinton emphatically declared months ago that none of the thousands of emails she sent using her hacker-friendly dedicated server contained classified information.

As it turns out the State Department had to redact 25 of the newly unveiled emails because they contained the very same classified information Hillary said she didn't send. This is but a fraction of the 55,000 pages of email the former secretary of state gave to the diplomatic agency for processing. Under federal court order, the State Department is conducting monthly Clinton document dumps after screening and redacting the emails.

Clinton has admitted that tens of thousands of the emails she sent that happened to be U.S. government property were deleted. Emails were scrubbed while subject to a subpoena from the House Select Committee that is investigating the terrorist attack on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that took place on Sept. 11, 2012.

Around the time of the attack Clinton scapegoated the innocent director of an anti-Islam movie trailer that almost nobody had seen. She claimed back then that the sophisticated military-style operation materialized spontaneously from an angry mob of protesters gathered outside the facility which was in Islamist-held territory. The Benghazi coverup the Obama administration engineered to get President Obama safely reelected in November 2012 has been gradually falling apart.

This new revelation that classified information went out into cyberspace by way of Clinton's laughably insecure server clears the way for the U.S. government to seize the machine itself, the Washington Times reports.

Despite demands from Republicans on Capitol Hill who are investigating Clinton, she has steadfastly refused to hand over the server whose existence became public knowledge earlier this year. She caused a firestorm before launching her presidential bid when she admitted that all her government emails from her time at the Department of State were routed through her own personal Internet server that has been traced back to her Chappaqua, N.Y., home address.

PolitiFact confirmed that Clinton didn't use government email when she was at the State Department -- not even once. "Although some former secretaries of state occasionally used personal emails for official business, Clinton is the only one who never once used an email address in the era of email," the fact-check organization previously concluded.

A former senior intelligence official told the Washington Times that government policy now requires a thorough investigation with an eye to the other Internet servers through which the classified information may have passed.

According to the news report:
The procedures are spelled out by the National Security Agency's special panel on controlling leaked secrets, called the Committee on National Security Systems. It published a policy, "Securing Data and Handling Spillage Events," that fits the case of Mrs. Clinton's unauthorized private server, kept at her home while she was secretary of state, according to the retired officer's reading of the regulations.

The policy stipulates that "[m]alicious attacks are alarming, but more often spillages occur from unintentional user error or negligence."

"Hillary Clinton's server has classified information and should be taken by the government and sanitized, wiped clean or destroyed," said the cybersecurity expert who requested anonymity. It is not clear if any of the procedures have yet been carried out in this case, he said.

Clinton's fast and loose approach to email security almost certainly compromised U.S. national security.

Clinton's emails and telephone calls were probably targeted by foreign governments' intelligence agencies, the former official said. Her server was probably breached, he added.

"If Clinton's personal email server wasn't hacked by China or Russia, forget the Presidency," Chris Soghoian the ACLU's lead technologist quipped on Twitter. "She should be the next cyber czar."

Clinton's email account was a virtual open book for hackers from hostile governments and terrorist groups, but anyone who interacted with her through it was also placed at risk. This is because, as one news report stated, whoever created the system "didn't enable what’s called a Sender Policy Framework, or SPF, a simple setting that would prevent hackers sending e-mails that appear to be from"

The publication of Clinton's emails this week also demonstrates that senior Obama operatives David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel, and John Podesta were long aware of Clinton's cloak-and-dagger email infrastructure. The irretrievably corrupt Clintons created the system to frustrate Freedom of Information Act requesters, shield Hillary's correspondence from congressional oversight, and steer money to the international cash-for-favors clearinghouse known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.

The fact that this latest tranche of emails was from 2009 shows that Obama lieutenants were aware of Clinton's private email account almost from the beginning of Obama's presidency. Yet Obama White House officials claim they only learned of the private dedicated server in August 2014 after House Republicans confronted them with evidence of the server's existence.

But the new trove of released emails shows top Obama operatives not only knew about the private email account but asked for Clinton's email address so they could reach her.

Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills sent Clinton an email on June 8, 2009, with the subject line, “Axelrod wants your emails.”

In her reply Clinton seemed annoyed. “Can you send it to him or do you want me to?” she asked. “Does he know I can’t look at it all day so he needs to contact me thru you or Huma or Lauren during work hours.”

Yet on June 17 of this year Axelrod played dumb in a discussion with MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski. Axelrod claimed he didn't know Clinton was using a private email account and server to conduct government business.

“I was there. I was the senior advisor. I didn’t know that,” he said. “I might’ve asked a few questions about that.”

Now, just two weeks after he denied that he knew about Hillary's private email account, Axelrod admits he has known about the account for some time. This Alinskyite Red-diaper baby didn't suddenly develop a sense of right and wrong. He was in damage-control mode after the latest batch of emails to see sunlight proved him a liar.

As Thomas Roberts of MSNBC said Wednesday while interviewing him, in Tuesday's "big dump of the Hillary Clinton e-mails, there was one from you to Hillary Clinton's private account."

Axelrod acted like this revelation was no big deal and contradicted his previous statement that he didn't know about the email account. He told Roberts:

Well, everybody -- most people in the government had private accounts for private sorts of e-mails. I was referred to that account when I wanted to send her a note because she had been injured and I wanted to just send her a note telling her I hoped she was feeling better. And I sent it to that account. And I've never ever - I've always said that I knew she had that account. What I didn't know was that she used that account exclusively, and I certainly didn't know that she had her own server. Those were things that I just learned with everybody else later on. 

This thin rationalization isn't all that surprising coming from an administration headed by a man who claims to learn about all of his own misdeeds from TV news reports. acknowledged that the State Department's latest document dump shows key Obama operatives knew from around the dawn of the Obama presidency that Clinton availed herself of an unorthodox private email system.

The CNN report describes the newly uncovered emails from 2009 as an assortment of mundane government correspondence and emails from political colleagues. For example, it states that David Axelrod, John Podesta, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) all sent emails wishing Clinton well after she injured her elbow.

Meanwhile, an attorney who is part of the Obama administration's coverup team in the IRS scandal has moved over to the State Department to do the same thing in the Clinton email scandal.

Catherine Duval, the lawyer who was overseeing the process by which IRS emails related to Lois Lerner's targeting of conservative groups are handed over to Congress, now oversees the State Department's program that is very slowly making Clinton's emails public. Also known as Kate, Duval's formal title at State is senior advisor in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs.

Foot-dragging and stonewalling by the Obama administration have made it difficult to gather evidence in the Lerner case after she invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself during congressional testimony in mid-2013.

Duval and others like her are hard at work today desperately trying to make the email scandal go away in order to save Hillary Clinton's presidential bid.

At present their chances don't look so good.

Matthew Vadum


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

UK: Politicians Urge Ban on the Term "Islamic State" - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

  • "If we deny any connection between terrorism and religion, then we are saying there is no problem in any of the mosques; that there is nothing in the religious texts that is capable of being twisted or misunderstood; that there are no religious leaders whipping up hatred of the West, no perverting of religious belief for political ends." — Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.
  • "O Muslims, Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war... Mohammed was ordered to wage war until Allah is worshipped alone... He himself left to fight and took part in dozens of battles. He never for a day grew tired of war. — Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State.
  • While Western politicians claim that the Islamic State is not Islamic, millions of Muslims around the world — referring to what is approved in the Islamic texts — believe that it is.
The BBC has rejected demands by British lawmakers to stop using the term "Islamic State" when referring to the jihadist group that is carving out a self-declared Caliphate in the Middle East.
Lord Hall of Birkenhead, the BBC's director general, said that the proposed alternative, "Daesh," is pejorative and using it would be unfair to the Islamic State, thereby casting doubt upon the BBC's impartiality.

Prime Minister David Cameron recently joined the growing chorus of British politicians who argue that the name "Islamic State" is offensive to Muslims and should be banned from the English vocabulary.

During an interview with BBC Radio 4's "Today" program on June 29 — just days after a jihadist with links to the Islamic State killed 38 people (including 30 Britons) at a beach resort in Tunisia — Cameron rebuked veteran presenter John Humphrys for referring to the Islamic State by its name.
When Humphrys asked Cameron whether he regarded the Islamic State to be an existential threat, Cameron said:
"I wish the BBC would stop calling it 'Islamic State' because it is not an Islamic state. What it is is an appalling, barbarous regime. It is a perversion of the religion of Islam, and, you know, many Muslims listening to this program will recoil every time they hear the words 'Islamic State.'"
Humphrys responded by pointing out that the group calls itself the Islamic State (al-Dawlah al-Islamiyah, Arabic for Islamic State), but he added that perhaps the BBC could use a modifier such as "so-called" in front of that name.
Cameron replied: "'So-called' or ISIL [the acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] is better." He continued:
"But it is an existential threat, because what is happening here is the perversion of a great religion, and the creation of this poisonous death cult, that is seducing too many young minds, in Europe, in America, in the Middle East and elsewhere.
"And this is, I think, going to be the struggle of our generation. We have to fight it with everything that we can."
Later that day in the House of Commons, Cameron repeated his position. Addressing Cameron, Scottish National Party MP Angus Robertson said that the English-speaking world should adopt Daesh, the Arabic name for the Islamic State, as the proper term.

Daesh, which translates as Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (Syria), is the Arabic equivalent to ISIL. Daesh sounds similar to the Arabic word "Daes," which means "one who crushes something underfoot," and "Dahes," which means "one who sows discord." As a result of this play on words, Daesh has become a derogatory name for the Islamic State, and its leaders have threatened to "cut the tongue" of anyone who uses the word in public.

Robertson said:
"You are right to highlight the longer-term challenge of extremism and of radicalization. You have pointed out the importance of getting terminology right and not using the name 'Islamic State.' Will you join parliamentarians across this house, the US secretary of state and the French foreign minister in using the appropriate term?
"Do you agree the time has come in the English-speaking world to stop using Islamic State, ISIS or ISIL and instead we and our media should use Daesh — the commonly used phrase across the Middle East?"
Cameron replied:
"I agree with you in terms of the use of Islamic State. I think this is seen as particularly offensive to many Muslims who see, as I see, not a state but a barbaric regime of terrorism and oppression that takes delight in murder and oppressing women, and murdering people because they're gay. I raised this with the BBC this morning.
"I personally think that using the term 'ISIL' or 'so-called' would be better than what they currently do. I don't think we'll move them all the way to Daesh so I think saying ISIL is probably better than Islamic State because it is neither in my view Islamic nor a state."
Separately, more than 100 MPs signed a June 25 letter to the BBC's director general calling on the broadcaster to begin using the term Daesh when referring to the Islamic State. The letter, which was drafted by Rehman Chishti, a Pakistani-born Conservative MP, stated:
"The use of the titles: Islamic State, ISIL and ISIS gives legitimacy to a terrorist organization that is not Islamic nor has it been recognized as a state and which a vast majority of Muslims around the world finds despicable and insulting to their peaceful religion."
Scottish Nation Party MP Alex Salmond, in a June 29 newspaper column, wrote:
"We should start by understanding that in a propaganda war language is crucial.
"Any description of terrorists which confers on them the image that they are representing either a religion or a state must surely be wrong and an own goal of massive proportions. It is after all how they wish to refer to themselves.
"Daesh, sometimes spelled Daiish or Da'esh, is short for Dawlat al Islamiyah fi'al Iraq wa al Sham.
"Many Arabic-speaking media organizations refer to the group as such and there is an argument it is appropriately pejorative, deriving from a mixture of rough translations from the individual Arabic words.
"However, the real point of using Daesh is that it separates the terrorists from the religion they claim to represent and from the false dream of a new caliphate that they claim to pursue.
"It should become the official policy of the government and be followed by the broadcasting organizations."
The BBC, which routinely refers to Muslims as "Asians" to comply with the politically correct norms of British multiculturalism, has held its ground. It said:
"No one listening to our reporting could be in any doubt what kind of organization this is. We call the group by the name it uses itself, and regularly review our approach. We also use additional descriptions to help make it clear we are referring to the group as they refer to themselves, such as 'so-called Islamic State.'"
The presenter of the BBC's "The World This Weekend" radio program, Mark Mardell, added:
"It seems to me, once we start passing comment on the accuracy of the names people call their organizations, we will constantly be expected to make value judgements. Is China really a 'People's Republic?' After the Scottish referendum, is the UK only the 'so-called United Kingdom?' With the Greek debacle, there is not much sign of 'European Union.'"
London Mayor Boris Johnson believes both viewpoints are valid. In a June 28 opinion article published by the Telegraph, he wrote:
"Rehman's point is that if you call it Islamic State you are playing their game; you are dignifying their criminal and barbaric behavior; you are giving them a propaganda boost that they don't deserve, especially in the eyes of some impressionable young Muslims. He wants us all to drop the terms, in favor of more derogatory names such as "Daesh" or "Faesh," and his point deserves a wider hearing.
"But then there are others who would go much further, and strip out any reference to the words "Muslim" or "Islam" in the discussion of this kind of terrorism — and here I am afraid I disagree....
"Why do we seem to taint a whole religion by association with a violent minority? ...
"Well, I am afraid there are two broad reasons why some such association is inevitable. The first is a simple point of language, and the need to use terms that everyone can readily grasp. It is very difficult to bleach out all reference to Islam or Muslim from discussion of this kind of terror, because we have to pinpoint what we are actually talking about. It turns out that there is virtually no word to describe an Islamically-inspired terrorist that is not in some way prejudicial, at least to Muslim ears.
"You can't say "Salafist," because there are many law-abiding and peaceful Salafists. You can't say jihadi, because jihad — the idea of struggle — is a central concept of Islam, and doesn't necessarily involve violence; indeed, you can be engaged in a jihad against your own moral weakness. The only word that seems to carry general support among Muslim leaders is Kharijite — which means a heretic — and which is not, to put it mildly, a word in general use among the British public.
"We can't just call it "terrorism", as some have suggested, because we need to distinguish it from any other type of terrorism — whether animal rights terrorists or Sendero Luminoso Marxists. We need to speak plainly, to call a spade a spade. We can't censor the use of "Muslim" or "Islamic."
"That just lets too many people off the hook. If we deny any connection between terrorism and religion, then we are saying there is no problem in any of the mosques; that there is nothing in the religious texts that is capable of being twisted or misunderstood; that there are no religious leaders whipping up hatred of the west, no perverting of religious belief for political ends."
What does the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have to say? In a May 2015 audio message, he summed it up this way:
"O Muslims, Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war. Your Prophet (peace be upon him) was dispatched with the sword as a mercy to the creation. He was ordered to wage war until Allah is worshipped alone. He (peace be upon him) said to the polytheists of his people, 'I came to you with slaughter.' He fought both the Arabs and non-Arabs in all their various colors. He himself left to fight and took part in dozens of battles. He never for a day grew tired of war.
"So there is no excuse for any Muslim who is capable of performing hijrah [migration] to the Islamic State, or capable of carrying a weapon where he is, for Allah (the Blessed and Exalted) has commanded him with hijrah and jihad, and has made fighting obligatory upon him."
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) says of the Islamic State, "Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters." Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (R), leader of the Islamic State, say, "Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war. Your Prophet (peace be upon him) was dispatched with the sword as a mercy to the creation."

While Western politicians claim that the Islamic State is not Islamic, millions of Muslims around the world — referring to what is approved in the Islamic texts — believe that it is. While the former are performing politically correct linguistic gymnastics, the latter are planning their next religiously-inspired attacks against the West. A new twist on an old English adage: The sword is mightier than the pen.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estrat├ęgicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

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Israel’s populist energy crisis - Caroline B. Glick

by Caroline B. Glick

The real cause of the plummet in investments in Israel lays elsewhere. And to understand it we need to understand recent developments in the natural gas industry. 

 Direct foreign investment in Israel is in free fall. According to a report published last month by the UN Conference on Trade and Development, (UNCTAD), foreign direct investment in Israel in 2014 was 46 percent below levels in 2013, dropping from $11.8 billion to $6.4bn. During the same period worldwide direct foreign investment dropped a mere 16%, meaning the drop in investment in Israel was nearly three times the global average.

Some responded to the report by blaming Operation Protective Edge or the boycott Israel movement for the sudden downturn. And there is probably something, although not much, to that view.

Israel tends to bounce back relatively quickly after wars end. Since 2006, the impact of wars on Israel’s economic growth has been marginal.

As for boycotts, it is hard to enact them. Only 5% of Israeli exports are finished consumer products capable of attracting the ire of Jew-haters. The other 95% are business to business sales with Israeli exports incorporated into products assembled in other countries, and so largely immune to boycotts.

The real cause of the plummet in investments is elsewhere. And to understand it we need to understand recent developments in the natural gas industry.

For nearly 60 years – from 1952 through 2011 – the regulatory situation in the Israeli energy sector was stable. By law, the state was to receive 12.5% of royalties on the sale of energy supplies developed by holders of development licenses, in addition to normal rate corporate taxes.

The regulatory situation was well suited to a market where costs of exploration and development are high and the chance of profits is low.

Opportunity costs also played a role in determining the investor-friendly license conditions. Due to the Arab economic boycott, companies that sign energy contracts with the Jewish state risk being denied energy contracts with the Arab states. And whereas the probability is low that an investor in Israel’s energy market will turn a profit, the probability of profits in Arab energy markets is high.

When, at the end of 2006, the US firm Noble Energy entered the exploration concession for the Leviathan basin gas deposits, which among other things includes the Tamar and Leviathan gas fields, chances of finding gas were not considered high. Noble entered the market after British Gas abandoned its rights to the fields because they were not deemed profitable.

Without Noble, or another firm with comparable capabilities and experience, Israel wouldn’t have been able to develop or operate the fields. Delek Energy and the other Israeli partners lacked the capacity to carry out the complex operations required. To develop the Tamar gas field, a well was built across 500 meters of water at a depth of 5,000 meters. The drilling was carried out at exceedingly high pressures and beneath a thick layer of salt.

The drilling operation at Tamar cost Noble and its Israeli partners $140 million. To transport the gas to Israel required an additional investment of $4b.

When Noble began its drilling operation at the end of 2008, it estimated its chances of success at 35%. Tamer wasn’t expected to be particularly large. But by early 2010, it was clear that Noble, Delek and their smaller partners had hit the jackpot. Tamar with its 9 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) (254.85 billion cubic meters) of natural gas was the largest find worldwide in 2009.

In 2011, Delek and Noble’s luck continued when the initial drilling at the Leviathan gas field exposed an estimated 21 Tcf of gas. The Leviathan find was the largest of the decade. Together, the two fields not only have sufficient gas to make Israel energy independent for decades. There is enough gas in the two fields to transform Israel into a significant player in the global energy market.

Rather than celebrate the miraculous find, and then sit back and wait for the tax revenues and royalties to start flowing in, adding unanticipated billions to the Israeli economy, and additional investors to flock to its shores begging for development licenses, whatever the cost, Israel’s populists pounced on Delek and Noble’s extraordinary find like a street gang and proceeded to mug them.

Here it is necessary to note that aside from sell licenses, the government did nothing to develop the gas fields. It incurred no economic risks. Yet from the tenor of the debate begun in 2010, you might have thought that the clerks at the Finance Ministry and the opposition MKs in the Knesset had swam to the bottom of the sea and carried out the gas by hand.

A rent-a-mob composed of socialist politicians and activists, regulators and bureaucrats, all upset that free market forces enriched investors without their permission, demanded a confiscatory cut in the profits from the energy resource Israel now enjoys only because private companies invested hundreds of millions of dollars to extract it from the bottom of the sea.

Rather than stand by the investors and stare down the populist bullies, then-finance minister Yuval Steinitz joined the mob and appointed the Sheshinski Committee. The committee was tasked with recommending ways to breach the government’s contracts with the energy companies in order confiscate a far larger share of their future profits.

The Sheshinski Committee, and the 2011 law regarding windfall energy profits promulgated on the basis of its recommendations, taxed energy profits at a rate of between 52% and 62% rather than the 27% corporate rate. The increased taxes were applied retroactively to Noble, Delek and the rest of the license holders.

Noble CEO Charles Davidson reacted angrily to the changed regulatory environment, telling The Wall Street Journal , “A retroactive change would be egregious and would quickly move Israel to the lowest tier of countries for investment by the energy sector.”

Israel was about to see just how right he was.

Ever since the European Union began threatening economic boycotts against Israel, the government has rightly urged exporters to diversify their markets in order to lower Israel’s exposure to Europe. In the gas industry, diversifying markets means exporting gas to Asian markets. To open Israeli gas to Asian markets, Noble and Delek began negotiating the sale of 25% stake in the Leviathan gas field to Australia’s Woodside Petroleum. Woodside has the technical and marketing capacity to sell Israeli gas in Asia.

In May 2014, Woodside was poised to sign the deal with Noble and Delek and enter Leviathan with a $2.7b. investment. But at the last minute, Woodside walked away from the deal. It said it would be willing to reconsider its decision if Israel enacts “material changes” in the investment environment.

Despite the draconian retroactive taxes, Delek and Noble soldiered on. They signed a new contract with the government, in accordance with the new law, despite the high taxes and the fact that the law required them to sell their rights to the smaller Tanin and Karish fields.

But that wasn’t enough for the populists. Last December David Gilo, the head of the Anti-trust Authority in the Finance Ministry, proclaimed that the deal was illegal because Delek and Noble are a “terrible monopoly” with near complete control over Israel’s gas industry. Gilo determined that they have to end their partnership, and sell of their shares in either Tamar or Leviathan.

In response, Noble announced it was suspending its development of the Leviathan field. Whereas in 2014, Leviathan was expected to come online by 2017, now it won’t be under production until 2020 at the earliest.

When the new government entered office, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who supported the 2011 windfall profits law – decided to sidestep Gilo and approve the deal the previous government signed with Delek and Noble. Everything seemed to fall into place last week when the security cabinet approved the deal. But then Economy Minister Arye Deri decided to spike the football and refused to sign the requisite order to implement the cabinet’s decision.

This week we were subjected to yet another populist assault on Noble and Delek. Now the rent-a-mob demands that the government abide by Gilo’s ruling, using his buzzword “terrible monopoly” at every opportunity.

But as with most populist economic protests, there is no basis for their claim. The notion that Delek and Noble’s partnership in gas development is a monopoly is utter nonsense. They are licensees. They purchased their licenses lawfully, and abided by their terms. They even agreed to pay more when the state scandalously passed a law and applied its draconian regulations retroactively.

Moreover, Delek and Noble cannot dictate prices for their gas. Israel isn’t required to buy gas from them. The only reason Delek and Noble became Israel’s only suppliers is that Israel decided to buy all of its gas from them after Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government canceled the gas deal Israel signed with its predecessor.

If the government thinks that Delek and Noble are charging too much for their gas, Israel is free to look elsewhere.

From the perspective of the future growth of Israeli energy markets, perhaps the worst aspect of the state’s decision to abuse the investors is the timing. The government went after the investors before they had the chance to bring the Leviathan field on line. In the current regulatory chaos, the gas may well stay in the sea forever.

What serious energy company would agree to invest here now? The entire world energy sector now knows that you can’t trust the Israelis. Any exploration project in Israel is a double gamble. First you roll the dice when you begin developing a field that will in all likelihood be dry. Then, if you happen to get lucky, you have every reason to expect that the state will invent a way to seize your future profits.

This brings us back to the UNCTAD report from last week. Israel’s populist – and corrupt – treatment of Delek and Noble is a massive warning sign to investors. Not only shouldn’t you rush to Israel, you should stay away from Israel.

If we are to correct the damage – to our energy market specifically and to the Israeli economy overall – there is only one path to take. The Knesset must abrogate the 2011 windfall profits law and end all attempts to define the Delek-Noble partnership as a monopoly while seeking new, creative ways to seize their profits.

Then, the Knesset must pass a law that will protect investors from attempts to retroactively change the terms of operating licenses they receive from the State of Israel.

Israel has enough problems with the anti-Semitic boycott movement that is growing by leaps and bounds. We need to curb our populist tendencies and stop making those who want to invest in Israel feel that they are fools to do so.

Caroline B. Glick


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

'UNRWA, Hamas are two sides of the same coin' - Nadav Shragai

by Nadav Shragai

Hamas maintains a tight grip on the U.N. Relief and Works Agency's facilities in the Gaza Strip, and the two's symbiosis is growing stronger, despite the U.N.'s denials • Israel is reluctant to have UNRWA removed over its strategic value in Jordan.

Hamas security forces at UNRWA's headquarters in the Gaza Strip [Archive]
Photo credit: Reuters

Nadav Shragai


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

Hamas left all alone - Eyal Zisser

by Eyal Zisser

The year that has passed since the conclusion of the Gaza campaign has left Hamas even more isolated. Hamas has become dependent on Israel's goodwill, on its reluctance to topple the Gaza regime and the assistance it lends the residents of the Strip. Egypt, meanwhile, keeps its border with Gaza sealed.

The inception of a Hamas state in the Gaza Strip in the previous decade was first and foremost an Iranian project. The execution may have been Palestinian, but the direction, and more precisely the missiles, were Iranian.

Iran has made no secret of its desire to do in Gaza what it did in Lebanon years before, meaning to form a terrorist entity armed with thousands of long-range missiles, which it could use to threaten Israel, generate deterrence, and occasionally draw some Israeli blood. 

But unlike Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas was never solely dependent on Iran's goodwill, enjoying extensive support across the Muslim Sunni world, as well as the support of various nations, such as Turkey and Qatar. 

The Arab Spring that rattled the Arab world did not undermine Hamas' rule in Gaza, and for a time it even bolstered it. The civil war in Syria may have temporarily cut Hamas ties with Damascus, but the group quickly reinforced its ties with Turkey, and was even able to relocate its headquarters from Damascus to Istanbul. 

Another Hamas dream came true, albeit for a short time, in 2012, when Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohammed Morsi was elected as Egypt's president.

But the tables soon turned, and in 2014 Hamas found itself on a collision course with much of the Arab world, especially with Egypt, where Morsi was deposed and replaced with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. The latter made no secret of his animosity toward the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, which he declared were a threat to Egypt's stability. 

It is possible that Hamas' concern that it was on the brink of calamity was the main reason why it initiated a conflict with Israel in the summer of 2014, assuming that anything it would be unable to achieve during the conflict, would remain unattainable in its wake.

During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas found itself facing Israel alone, without the Arab support it has become accustomed to in previous conflicts. Turkey and Qatar rushed to declare their support, but it was mostly lip service and therefore insignificant. 

Egypt, for its part, was very pleased with the blows Israel had dealt Hamas, and made no secret of its hope that Hamas' rule in the Gaza Strip would come to an end.

The year that has passed since the conclusion of the Gaza campaign has left Hamas even more isolated. Hamas has become dependent on Israel's goodwill, on its reluctance to topple the Gaza regime and the assistance it lends the residents of the Strip. Egypt, meanwhile, keeps its border with Gaza sealed.

Hamas also has to contend with the Islamic State group, which has accused it of not being sufficiently devout. According to Islamic State, the relative calm on the Israel-Gaza border means Hamas is collaborating with Israel. 

The situation is further compounded by the fact that given the global chaos, the Palestinian question no longer takes center stage in the international theater, and the images emerging from Gaza fail to make any impression.

While Hamas has been able to rebuild much of its military capabilities and arsenal over the past year, it knows there is more to war with Israel than rocket fire. Operation Protective Edge may have left Hamas in control of the coastal enclave, but it has undermined its authority, as Gazans now see Hamas rule as the cause of the dire situation in the Strip, which has so far shown no signs of improvement. 

Hamas is isolated in the Arab sphere as well, as many Arab governments hold it responsible for many of the region's problems. 

The string of terrorist attacks Egypt has suffered this week will do little to assuage Cairo's animosity toward Hamas, even if Saudi Arabia continues with its efforts to include the Islamist group in the Sunni alliance it seeks to form against Iran.

Eyal Zisser


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