Saturday, January 23, 2016

Obama is now going after Israel - Yochanan Visser

by Yochanan Visser

It is one thing after another ever since the nuclear deal was finalized.

After finalizing the implementation of the controversial nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration is apparently looking for a new foreign policy challenge by going after Israel.
Earlier this week the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, launched a blistering attack against Israel’s policies regarding the Palestinians. Shapiro told a local conference on security-related issues the Obama administration is “concerned and perplexed by Israel’s strategy on settlements.”

Shapiro claimed Israel’s settlement policies frustrate the process that should lead to the forming of a Palestinian state and claimed “too many attacks on Palestinians lack a vigorous investigation or response” by Israeli authorities.

Shapiro made this comment on the day Palestinian Arabs murdered a Jewish mother of six and tried to attack a synagogue full of worshippers in Jerusalem. The timing was one of the reasons his statement drew the ire of Israeli politicians.
Shapiro’s attack on the Israeli government during one of the most important conferences in the Jewish State was not the first indication the Obama administration is tightening the screws on Israel over the stalemate that aims to establish a Palestinian state in the so-called 'West Bank' (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza.

Last week, state department spokesman James Kirby and the American Embassy in Tel Aviv criticized Israel over a proposed law that aims to force domestic non-government organizations (NGO’s) that focus on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to be more open on foreign funding of their (often anti-Israeli) activities. There are more than 170 NGO’s who are engaged in the cognitive and political war as part of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Almost all of these NGO’s receive Western funding and they are predominantly pro-Palestinian.

Kirby criticized the proposed law and rejected Israel’s claim the bill is less restrictive than the Foreign Agents Registration Act in the U.S., but he didn’t offer an explanation why he thought so.

The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv went even further and issued two rare statements expressing displeasure with the bill and countered Israel’s claim the proposed legislation is “less stringent than those imposed by the United States upon similar types of activity under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.”

The criticism by Obama officials on these issues and the interference in Israel’s internal political affairs are comparable to what the European Union does with Israel.

The EU even provided 30,000 Euro to the Israeli NGO B’Tselem to fight the proposed legislation.

Yochanan Visser


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

Land for peace in the Middle East? - Yoram Ettinger

by Yoram Ettinger

If Israel had caved under U.S. pressure to retreat from the Golan Heights -- a site of Jewish battles against the Roman Empire -- the Islamic State group and other terrorists would be there, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, traumatizing northern Israel and beyond.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, echoes the Obama administration's pressure on Israel to retreat to the 1949 armistice lines: an 8-15 mile sliver along the Mediterranean, towered over by the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria. Thus, the administration -- unlike the American people and Congress -- ignores the centrality of Judea and Samaria to Jewish history, religion, culture and nationalism, and provides another victory to wishful thinking over the 1,400-year-old reality of inherent Middle East/Arab violence, unpredictability, tyranny, doublespeak and hate education.

If Israel would have caved under U.S. pressure to retreat from the Golan Heights -- a site of Jewish battles against the Roman Empire -- the Islamic State group and other terrorists would be there, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, traumatizing northern Israel and beyond.

The late Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban, known for his dovish views, stated in Der Spiegel on Nov. 5, 1969: "The map will never be the same as on June 4, 1967... [which for us is] something of a memory of Auschwitz." 

Mideast peace accords are as durable as Arab regimes, policies and accords, which have been -- since the seventh century -- shifty, intolerant, violent, volatile and treacherous, as currently reflected by the Arab tsunami (known to the gullible as the Arab Spring). The Arab tsunami yielded abrupt shifts in power and ideology in Egypt and Tunisia, transformed Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen into chaotic terror hotbeds, and it is a lethal threat to all moderate Arab regimes. A regime change in Jordan would traumatize the region, bringing Islamic terrorism in full force to Israel's most vulnerable border. 

Pressuring Israel to accept "land for peace" assumes that an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would convince Arabs to accord the "infidel" Jew that which Muslim believers have denied one another for 1,400 years: peaceful coexistence and systematic compliance with agreements. 

"Land for peace" urges Israel to concede land in return for peace, while not allowing Israel to retrieve land after Arab violations of peace. "Land for peace" enhances security when the parties display long-term adherence to agreements, which is a Middle East rarity. However, it undermines the security of the land-conceding party, once agreements are violated. For example, the so-called "land for peace" agreements in 1993 (the Oslo Accord) and 2005 (uprooting the Jewish communities from the Gaza Strip) were summarily violated, intensifying terrorism dramatically.

"Land for peace" would bring the Arab tsunami into the hills of Judea and Samaria, which overlook over 80% of Israel's population and infrastructure, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel's only major international airport. It also overlooks the Jordan Valley, part of our longest border. 

The width of pre-1967 Israel (8-15 miles at its narrowest point) is equal to the length of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in Texas; it is the distance between JFK and LaGuardia airports, between Wall Street and Columbia University, between the Kennedy Center and RFK Stadium, less than the distance between downtown London and Heathrow Airport. The area of Israel (0.2% of the Arab world) is smaller than the gunnery range at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. While pressuring Israel to retreat to an 8-15 mile "straitjacket," the U.S. declared a 15-mile radius area in Bosnia as a "killing zone," in order to ensure the safety of its soldiers.

Israel's vulnerable dimensions, in the endemically unstable, unreliable, violent Middle East provide Israel with a minimal margin of error, requiring a uniquely high threshold of security in the face of reality-driven worst-case scenarios.

The late General Earle Wheeler, former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told President Lyndon Johnson: "The minimum requirements for Israel's defense include most of the West Bank, the whole of Gaza and the Golan Heights." One hundred retired U.S. generals and admirals cautioned Israel against withdrawing from Judea and Samaria, stating that it would be impossible to demilitarize the area effectively. The late Admiral James "Bud" Nance once said, "The eastern mountain ridge of the West Bank is one of the world's best tank barriers. ... The western mountain ridge constitutes a dream platform of invasion to Israel's narrow [8-15 miles] coastal plain. Control of the West Bank provides Israel the time [50 hours] to mobilize reservists [75% of Israel's military], which are critical to Israel's survival during a surprise Arab attack." Most reservists reside in the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv-Haifa area, which is overlooked by the Judea and Samaria mountain ridge.

Contrary to conventional wisdom, ground barriers are critical in the era of sophisticated missiles. According to the U.S.-based Institute of Land Warfare: "Land force [is] the cornerstone of deterrence. ... Ground units can both destroy and occupy. ... During the Afghan campaign of 2002, precision air strikes were critical, but they neither annihilated opposition nor finished the enemy." Marine Corps General (ret.) Alfred M. Gray said, "Military success requires more than a few hundred missiles. To defeat Israel would require the Arabs to deploy armor, infantry and artillery into Israel and destroy the Israel Defense Forces on the ground." 

In the 1973 war, the Sinai, the Golan and Judea and Samaria were the cushion that enabled Israel to overcome technological, intelligence and operational fallibility, sparing Israel from oblivion. Military high tech today will be low tech tomorrow, but high ground always remains high ground. Moreover, any technology can be jammed, but one cannot jam the mountainous topography of Judea and Samaria. 

Could the Sinai concession to Egypt apply to Judea and Samaria? Sinai borders the Negev, which is topographically similar to the Sinai and sparsely populated, thus serving as a platform for much of Israel's military. In contrast, Judea and Samaria borders the topographically inferior, densely populated and most vulnerable coastal plain. It would take 50 hours to undo Sinai's demilitarization (22,000 square miles of territory), but it would take only 10 hours in Judea and Samaria (2,200 square miles). Conceding Sinai was a calculated risk; withdrawing from Judea and Samaria would be a lethal gamble. The geographic depth of Judea and Samaria, the Golan Heights and Sinai enabled Israel to survive the 1973 surprise Arab offensive. 

"Land for peace" is actually "land for the sake of appeasement," rewarding serial Arab aggressors and punishing the intended Israeli victim. It fuels belligerence, undermines stability and the pursuit of peace, undoing Israel's posture of deterrence. This posture is an irreplaceable life insurance policy in the most violent region in the world, which has never tolerated "infidel" entities.

Yoram Ettinger


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

Islam and Islamism in America in 2015: Part I - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

  • Representative André Carson (D-Indiana), a convert to Islam, was appointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Carson has extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Officials at the Rocky Heights Middle School in Littleton, Colorado, ignited controversy when they told female students to dress according to Sharia law while visiting a mosque during a field trip.
  • Islamic politics "advocates the world's greatest double standard: if you come to our country, we won't let you worship the way you want, we won't let you say what you want to say... However, we have come to your country, therefore we have the right to do whatever we want to do, including kill you if you make us mad." — Former US President Bill Clinton.
  • Fouad ElBayly, an Egyptian-born imam who in 2007 said that Somali-born activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali should receive the death penalty for her criticism of Islam, is now a Department of Justice contractor hired to teach classes to Muslims who are in federal prison. – The Daily Caller
  • "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under Allah...." – Arabic rendering of the Pledge of Allegiance, Pine Bush High School, New York.
  • Breitbart News revealed the existence of what is believed to be the first official Sharia law court in the United States, in Irving, Texas. The so-called Islamic Tribunal settles civil disputes among the growing Muslim population.

The Muslim population of the United States surpassed 3.5 million in 2015, according to demographic projections compiled by the Pew Research Center. In percentage terms, Muslims currently comprise roughly 1% of the US population.

As in Europe, Islam was an ever-present topic in American newspaper headlines during 2015. Most news items involved terrorism-related issues — including many cases of lone-wolf terrorists — closely followed by articles about Muslim integration and assimilation.


January 6. Officials at the Rocky Heights Middle School in Littleton, Colorado, ignited controversy when they told female students to dress according to Sharia law while visiting a mosque during a field trip. Peter Boyles, a radio talk show host in Denver, said: "Public schools are forbidden from holding girls to different standards than boys. They're holding these girls to a different standard, it's a religious reason. Islam dictates many ... repressive practices against women.... That's their belief ... but don't apply it to public school kids."

January 7. Hashim Hanif Ibn Abdul-Rasheed, a 41-year-old Muslim armed with two knives taped to his legs, attempted to buy a plane ticket at the Port Columbus International Airport in Columbus, Ohio. Abdul-Rasheed was shot after he lunged at a police officer. Police said his behavior was "consistent with someone who intended to hijack an aircraft."

January 9. Abdalah Mohamed, a 19-year-old migrant from Kenya, was arrested after he threatened to kill the owner of a Jewish delicatessen in Portland, Oregon. Police said Mohamed entered the store asking for a single cigarette. When the owner replied that he did not sell individual cigarettes, Mohamed reportedly said: "I will blow up your store. I'm going to take care of you, you mother (redacted). I'll call my people to take care of you to shoot you! I will blow up your store in the name of Allah, I will take care of people like you!"

January 12. ISIS sympathizers hacked the official Twitter account of the US Central Command, the Pentagon division in charge of the Middle East. One tweet sent from CENTCOM's account stated: "American soldiers, we are coming, watch your backs." Another tweet said: "ISIS is already here.... With Allah's permission we are in CENTCOM now."

January 13. Representative André Carson (D-Indiana), a convert to Islam, was appointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Carson, who has extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, is the first Muslim to sit on the committee.

January 14. Christopher Lee Cornell, a 20-year-old convert to Islam, was arrested in Cincinnati, Ohio, for plotting to "wage jihad" by attacking the US Capitol. Cornell and his accomplice, who was actually an FBI informant, planned to detonate pipe bombs and gun down lawmakers. Cornell, whose Muslim name is Raheel Mahrus Ubaydah, had bought two M-15 rifles and 600 rounds of ammunition. He had also posted messages and videos espousing support for ISIS.

Left: Rep. André Carson (D-Indiana), a convert to Islam, was appointed to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. Carson has extensive ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Right: Christopher Lee Cornell, a convert to Islam, was arrested in Cincinnati, Ohio, for plotting to "wage jihad" by attacking the US Capitol. Cornell planned to detonate pipe bombs and gun down lawmakers.

January 14. Shelton Thomas Bell, a 21-year-old convert to Islam from Jacksonville, Florida, was sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for attempting to provide material support to terrorists. According to court documents, Bell "conspired to train and prepare as a combatant for overseas violent jihad, then travel from Jacksonville to the Middle East for the ultimate purpose of providing the skills to terrorists, including members of Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen."

As part of his training, Bell conducted a late-night "jihadi training mission" that involved destroying religious statues in a multi-denominational cemetery in Jacksonville. He also uploaded training and recruiting videos onto the Internet, including one in which he makes homemade pipe bombs and another in which he burns an America flag.

January 15. Carol Swain, a prominent professor of law and political science at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, penned an op-ed in The Tennessean titled, "Charlie Hebdo attacks prove critics were right about Islam." She wrote:
"What horrendous attack would finally convince us that Islam is not like other religions in the United States, that it poses an absolute danger to us and our children unless it is monitored better than it has been under the Obama administration?
"More and more members of the PC [politically correct] crowd now acknowledge that Islam has absolutely nothing in common with Christianity....
"It becomes clearer every day that Islam is not just another religion to be accorded the respect given to Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Baha'i and other world religions. The Jan. 7 terrorist attack resulting in 12 deaths at the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine that committed the apparently unpardonable sin of lampooning the Prophet Muhammad, once again illustrates that Islam is a dangerous set of beliefs totally incompatible with Western beliefs concerning freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of association."
Vanderbilt's Muslim Students Association said Swain's "hurtful, inciting comments" had caused "a great deal of emotional distress and frustration." Swain responded: "Why are today's university students so fragile they need counseling and affirmation whenever they hear something that makes them uncomfortable? Learning how to deal with your emotions is part of growing up."

January 15. Former US President Bill Clinton, appearing on NBC's Late Night with Seth Meyers, said Islamic politics "advocates the world's greatest double standard: if you come to our country, we won't let you worship the way you want, we won't let you say what you want to say, we won't let you do what you want to do. However, we have come to your country, therefore we have the right to do whatever we want to do, including kill you if you make us mad."

January 15. Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, canceled its plan to use the gothic bell tower of its chapel for the adhan, an amplified call to prayer for Muslims. The about-face followed criticism from many corners, including from Christian evangelist Franklin Graham, who wrote:
"As Christianity is being excluded from the public square and followers of Islam are raping, butchering, and beheading Christians, Jews, and anyone who doesn't submit to their Sharia Islamic law, Duke is promoting this in the name of religious pluralism. I call on the donors and alumni to withhold their support from Duke until this policy is reversed."
January 17. A conference in Garland, Texas, aimed at "defeating Islamophobia," featured several Muslim extremists who advocate the implementation of Sharia law in the United States. The conference, titled, "Stand with the Prophet in Honor and Respect," was billed as "not an event" but the "beginning of a movement. A movement to defend Prophet Muhammad, his person, and his message."

January 18. The New York Post reported that Muslim groups are pressing the New York Police Department to remove a report about Islamic terrorism from its website. The groundbreaking, 90-page report, titled, "Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat," angers critics who say it promotes "religious profiling" and discrimination against Muslims. Others argue that removing the report would send the message that the NYPD is backing down on its counterterrorism effort in the name of political correctness.

January 19. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, addressing the London-based Henry Jackson Society, warned that "non-assimilationist Muslims" pose a danger to Europe and the United States. He said:
"In America we are quite happy to welcome freedom loving people, regardless of religion, who want to abide by our laws allowing for freedom of expression and a host of other democratic freedoms. But we will never allow for any sect of people to set up their own areas where they establish their own set of laws.
"For example, Sharia law is not just different than our law, it's not just a cultural difference, it is oppression and it is wrong. It subjugates women and treats them as property, and it is antithetical to valuing all of human life equally. It is the very definition of oppression. We must stop pretending otherwise.
"I favor robust debate on everything: on religion, on policy, on politics, on everything. It is called freedom. But when debate stops, and when a movement decides that they no longer want to debate their ideas, but rather they want to simply subdue, silence, and kill those who disagree ... that is called terrorism, barbarism, and inhuman behavior, and it cannot and must not be tolerated."
January 20. The US Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Arkansas corrections officials had violated the religious liberty rights of Muslim inmates by forbidding them to grow beards. The case concerned Gregory H. Holt, also known as Abdul Maalik Muhammad, who sought to grow a half-­inch beard.

January 20. Montana State Senator Janna Taylor introduced Montana Senate Bill 199, which establishes "the primacy of Montana law by prohibiting the application of foreign law when it violates a fundamental right guaranteed by the Montana or United States Constitution." The bill is aimed at restricting the use of Islamic Sharia and other foreign law in the state.

January 21. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) complained that the movie "American Sniper" was spurring threats against American Muslims. ADC President Samer Khalaf said it did not make sense to call for a boycott of the film, given its box office success: "If we boycott it, it will only cause people to want to see it more."

January 22. Malak Kazan, a 27-year-old Muslim woman, filed a religious discrimination lawsuit in Detroit, Michigan, accusing the Dearborn Heights Police Department of violating her First Amendment right to religious freedom when she was forced to remove her head scarf, after being arrested for driving with an expired license. Dearborn Heights Police Chief Lee Garvin said:
"Articles such as hats, caps, hijabs, can contain concealable items that could pose a threat or chance of injury to the cops or to themselves. Our procedure is to have them take the hijab off in the presence of a female. We don't always have enough female officers present in the station. Our number one concern is security of our officers and the prisoners."
Kazan's lawyer, Amir Makled, disagreed:
"The main issue here is that my client's constitutional rights, her religious liberties, can't be stripped at the jailhouse door. She has an absolute right to maintain her faith. We hope this cause of action will bring to light a policy that is dated and needs to be amended.... We also hope to get some further diversity training for officers in the city. Hopefully this will be a learning experience for other law enforcement agencies."
January 23. Addressing the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Muslims should not be blamed for Islamic terrorism: "The biggest error that we could make would be to blame Muslims collectively for crimes ... [that] the overwhelming majority of Muslims oppose."

January 23. A federal judge in Denver, Colorado gave a four-year prison sentence to Shannon Maureen Conley, a 19-year-old woman who admitted to wanting to become an ISIS bride and join the jihad in the Middle East. Conley is one of the first Americans to be sentenced for conspiracy to support ISIS. Prosecutors hope her sentence has a deterrent effect.

January 23. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) filed legislation to ban American citizens who fight alongside ISIS and other terror groups from returning to the United States. The bill, known as the Expatriate Terrorist Act, seeks to strip those Americans who travel abroad to fight with ISIS of their US citizenship rights.

January 26. ISIS vowed to behead President Obama and "transform America into a Muslim province."

January 28. The Natomas Pacific Pathways Prep, a public charter school in Sacramento, California, sponsored an official "Hijab Day" in cooperation with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). To concerns about why a public school would be hosting such an event, the school responded with charges that critics were motivated by "hatred" and "bigotry."

January 28. The US State Department hosted a delegation of Muslim Brotherhood operatives for a meeting about their ongoing efforts to overthrow the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. A few days after the meeting, the Muslim Brotherhood called for "a long, uncompromising jihad" in Egypt.

January 29. The FBI added a former Northern Virginia taxicab driver to the Most Wanted Terrorists list. Liban Haji Mohamed, 29, a Somali-born naturalized US citizen, is accused of being a recruiter for al-Shabaab, a terrorist organization in Somalia.

January 30. The Refugee Women's Alliance, one of the largest refugee and immigrant service providers in Seattle, Washington, was forced to close in anticipation of a protest against one of its head teachers, Deepa Bhandaru, who led a discussion about free speech and religious pluralism in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre. A group of Somali immigrants demanded that Bhandaru be fired for showing some of the Hebdo cartoons in her class. Bhandaru, who has received an "excellence in teaching" award from the University of Washington, was placed on paid leave while the agency "investigates" the matter.


February 2. Darlene Hider, a 32-year-old Muslim-American woman who lives in Dearborn, Michigan, said she was harassed on a Delta Airlines flight because she was wearing an Islamic headscarf: "I felt as if I wanted to defend myself but I couldn't because of the Islamophobia going on." Others, however, said her children were being disruptive.

The president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, Samer Khalaf, said: "We encourage Delta to take immediate steps to rectify this matter."

But Hider says she wants more than a simple apology: "I want justice for every woman who wears a scarf and who's Muslim and doesn't have to worry about being on a plane or in a restaurant or a mall, or walking down the street... That is what I'm standing up for and I will not be quiet."

February 4. The Mississippi House voted 116-1 to pass House Bill 177, which bans use of foreign law. Proponents of the measure want to prevent courts in the state from referring to Sharia law when deliberating cases.

February 4. The head of the FBI's counterterrorist division, Michael Steinbach, warned that the Islamic State is targeting and recruiting teenage Americans, including females, to carry out terrorist attacks on US soil.

February 4. A Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register Iowa Poll found that 53% of likely Republican caucus participants and 81% of likely Democratic caucus participants said they believe Islam is inherently peaceful. Only 13% of likely Democratic caucus participants said they view Islam as inherently violent, compared with 39% of likely Republican caucus participants.

February 5. US President Barack Obama, speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, attempted to downplay the dangers of Islamic terrorism by creating a false moral equivalence with the Crusades, which occurred 1,000 years ago, in response to Muslim invasions.

February 5. The Health and Human Services Committee of the South Dakota House of Representatives approved a proposal that would make it a felony to perform female genital mutilation in the state.

February 5. The Board of Education in Waterbury, Connecticut, announced that all schools in the Waterbury School District would begin honoring two of Islam's most holy days, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, by not scheduling tests, field trips or major school events on those days. This is the first decision of its kind in the state of Connecticut.

February 6. The FBI charged six Bosnian immigrants with terrorist related crimes: Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40; his wife, Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35; and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis County, Missouri; as well as Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, New York; Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34 of Schiller Park, Illinois; and Jasminka Ramic, 42, of Rockford, Illinois. All defendants were charged with conspiring to provide material support and resources to terrorists. Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Nihad Rosic were also charged with conspiring to kill and maim persons in a foreign country. According to the FBI, the defendants raised money and shipped weapons and uniforms and other aid to ISIS fighters in Syria.

February 6. Army Secretary John McHugh approved awarding the Purple Heart and its civilian counterpart, the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom, to victims of the November 2009 shooting at Fort Hood, Texas. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded in the attack by Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, a psychiatrist whose business card read "SoA" for "Soldier of Allah." The Obama administration had classified the attack as "workplace violence," but Congress redefined what should be considered an attack by a "foreign terrorist organization" for purposes of determining eligibility for the Purple Heart.

February 9. WFTV Channel 9 television in Orlando, Florida, investigated a school in Seminole County after parents complained that students were learning too much about Islam in a public classroom. One parent became concerned after he spotted a text on his son's phone from a teacher reminding him to complete a prayer rug assignment and study an Islam packet. WFTV found that a textbook included a chapter dedicated to the "Rise of Islam," including prayers and scriptures from the Quran. But the first 100 pages of the book, discussing Judaism and Christianity, were missing. Officials from the school district blamed a manufacturer defect in 68 books that are only a year old.
February 10. Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, murdered three college students at a condominium complex in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, allegedly over a dispute over a parking space. Muslim groups branded the triple-homicide as a hate crime because the three victims were Muslim.

February 12. Representatives of several NGOs in Olympia, Washington, called on Representative Larry Haler to apologize for saying in a House Judiciary Committee hearing that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is "basically run by the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas," with a goal "to overthrow the country." Haler said he has already apologized twice to CAIR for his remarks: "It is unfortunate that these two instances do not satisfy their definition of apology."

February 13. Reaz Khan, a 51-year-old Pakistani-born naturalized US citizen living in Portland, Oregon, pleaded guilty to providing $2,450 to Ali Jaleel, a terrorist who killed more than 30 people in a May 2009 suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan. Prosecutors presented an email in which Jaleel reminded Khan about their shared promise to seek martyrdom in the name of Allah.

February 14. Terrence Lavaron Thomas, 39, a convert to Islam, stabbed two people at a bus stop in Southfield, a northern suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Police say Thomas asked a group of people if they were Muslim and attacked those who responded 'no' with a three-inch knife. American media outlets, including the Washington Post, were accused of seeking to downplay the Muslim attack on non-Muslims by publishing misleading headlines.

February 16. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf, speaking on MSNBC's Hardball, said that the solution to defeating ISIS was "a jobs program." She said: "We need ... to go after the root cause that leads people to join these groups, whether it's lack of opportunity for jobs."

At that point, Harf was interrupted by host Chris Matthews, who pointed out, "There's always going to be poor people. There's always going to be poor Muslims."

Harf continued to argue that the US should help Muslim countries "build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people." She added: "If we can help countries work at the root causes of this — what makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business?"
February 17. The White House launched a three-day Summit on Countering Violent Extremism but refused to use the term Islamic extremism. The summit featured Islamists known for preaching anti-Western themes.

February 17. Al-Hamzah Mohammad Jawad was arrested as he tried to fly out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Michigan, to Amman, Joran, on a one-way ticket. According to the FBI, Jawad, who came to the US in 2013 as a refugee from Iraq, was planning to join ISIS in Iraq.
February 18. Lawmakers in the North Dakota House of Representatives objected to a Muslim delivering the chamber's opening prayer on Ash Wednesday because some members wanted a Christian pastor to give the invocation. The Minnesota chapter of the CAIR called on North Dakota Republican Party leaders to apologize to Dr. Nadim Koleilat. House leader Al Carson said no such apology would be forthcoming.
February 18. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said his job is to "give voice to the plight of Muslims living in this country and the discrimination that they face." He added: "And so I personally have committed to speak out about the situation that very often people in the Muslim community in this country face. The fact that there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world and the Islamic faith is one about peace and brotherhood."

February 19. US President Barack Obama said that Americans who criticize Islam are guilty of provoking Islamic terrorists: "When people spew hatred towards others — because of their faith or because they're immigrants — it feeds into terrorist narratives. If entire communities feel they can never become a full part of the society in which they reside, it feeds a cycle of fear and resentment and a sense of injustice upon which extremists prey."

February 21. The Islamist group al-Shabaab released an online video in which it called for an attack on the Mall of America, a megamall in Bloomington, Minnesota.

February 23. Sohiel Omar Kabir, 37, and Ralph Deleon, 26, were sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for seeking to join al-Qaeda and training to carry out attacks on Americans in Afghanistan. Deleon is a citizen of the Philippines who lived in Ontario, California. Kabir, is an Afghanistan-born American citizen who lived in Pomona, California, and had relocated to Kabul, but was subsequently arrested by American military personnel in Afghanistan.

February 23. Abdirahman S. Mohamud, a 23-year-old Somali-born American citizen residing in Columbus, Ohio, was charged with providing "electronic devices to persons engaged in terrorism in the Middle East."

February 24. Jean Camara, a convert to Islam, filed a lawsuit against Costco, the world's third largest retailer, for religious discrimination. He said he was working as a cashier at a store in Brooklyn, New York, when pork came across the conveyor belt. After Camara told his manager that it is against his religious beliefs to touch either pork or alcohol, he was transferred outside to collecting the shopping carts. After he filed a human rights complaint against the company, he says he was fired for insubordinate conduct.

February 25. The FBI charged three residents of Brooklyn, New York, with conspiracy to provide material support to ISIS. Akhror Saidakhmetov, a citizen of Kazakhstan, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where he was attempting to board a flight to Istanbul, Turkey. Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, a citizen of Uzbekistan, had previously purchased a plane ticket to travel from New York to Istanbul and was scheduled to leave the United States in March. Abror Habibov, a citizen of Uzbekistan, helped fund Saidakhmetov's efforts to join ISIS. According to the FBI, Juraboev offered to kill the President of the United States if ordered to do so by ISIS, and Saidakhmetov expressed his intent to buy a machine gun and shoot police officers and FBI agents if thwarted in his plan to join ISIS in Syria.

February 25. The US Supreme Court heard the case of Samantha Elauf, a Muslim woman who said the Abercrombie & Fitch clothing store illegally denied her a job because she wears a hijab in keeping with her faith.

February 26. Abdullahi Mohamud Yusuf, a Somali-American teenager, pleaded guilty in federal court in Minneapolis, Minnesota, of conspiring to support ISIS. Yusuf, 18, was stopped by FBI agents at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport in May 2014 as he attempted to leave the US for Turkey.
February 26. An annual report delivered to the US Senate by the director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, removed Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terrorism threats, after years in which they featured in similar reports.

February 27. Hundreds of Muslims attended the first ever "Muslim Day" at the Oklahoma state capitol. The event, which was organized by the Oklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

MARCH 2015

March 2. The director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, revealed that about 180 Americans have traveled to Syria to join Islamist militants and around 40 of them have returned to the United States.

March 3. The city council of Taylor, Michigan, unanimously approved a resolution against Islamophobia. The resolution says the city will "stand against those who preach hate and incite violence." Resident Fred Lyons said he did not feel the resolution was necessary. "I don't see why we need a resolution to say we're against hate. We are," Lyons said. "Anyone who would say you are supporting hate would be asinine." He said he feared the resolution could lead to lawsuits against the city.

March 3. The Daily Caller revealed that Fouad ElBayly — an Egyptian-born imam who in 2007 said that Somali-born activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali should receive the death penalty for her criticism of Islam — is now a Department of Justice contractor hired to teach classes to provide "leadership and guidance" to Muslims at a federal prison in Maryland.

March 4. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that public schools in the city would begin observing two Muslim holidays, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. The change is the result of nearly a decade of lobbying by Muslim groups. Muslims make up about 10% of the students in New York City public schools.

March 4. Zaytuna College based in Berkeley, California, became the first Muslim college in the United States to receive accreditation.

March 4. Minh Quang Pham, a 32-year-old Vietnamese man extradited from the United Kingdom, pleaded not guilty to supporting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, receiving military training from the terrorist organization in Yemen, and possessing a firearm intended for use in crimes of violence. Pham, formerly a graphic designer who lived in southeast London, was arrested at Heathrow International Airport when he returned in July 2011 from a six-month trip to Yemen.

March 4. Abid Naseer, a 28­-year­-old Pakistani man, was convicted in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, New York, of conspiring with al-Qaeda to bomb a shopping center in Manchester, England. Naseer, a graduate of Flushing High School in Queens, was indicted in the US under a law that allows the federal government to pursue terrorism cases even when they occur outside the country; he was extradited to the US in 2013.

March 6. The Associated Students of the University of New Mexico (ASUNM), the undergraduate student government for UNM, unanimously passed a resolution urging the UNM administration to "publicly state their opposition to Islamophobia." The document, known as Resolution 6S, defines Islamophobia as a "dislike or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, especially as a political force."
March 10. Diego Chaar, a 24-year-old Brazilian who converted to Islam while in prison, was arrested after stalking the Ohev Shalom synagogue in Miami Beach, Florida, shouting "Allahu Akbar" and threatening to cut off the heads of congregants exiting the synagogue.

March 12. Raees Alam Qazi, 22, and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 32, two brothers born in Pakistan — both are naturalized US citizens who spent most of their lives in South Floridapleaded guilty to federal terrorism charges after admitting they had plotted a terrorist attack on landmarks in New York City. Later, while in custody, they assaulted two deputy US Marshals. The younger brother pleaded guilty to an additional charge of attempting to provide material support to al-Qaeda.

March 16. Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, 24, of Upland, California, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Arifeen David Gojali, 24, of Riverside, was sentenced to five years, for their involvement in a conspiracy to travel to Afghanistan to kill American troops.

March 16. Adam Dandach, a 21-year-old convert to Islam who also goes by the name Fadi Fadi Dandach, pleaded not guilty to charges that he provided material support and resources to ISIS. He had previously pled not guilty to lying on a passport application. Prosecutors say he obstructed justice when he allegedly asked a website administrator to delete his post history. FBI agents had prevented Dandach from boarding a Delta Airlines flight at John Wayne Airport in Orange Country, California, to Istanbul, Turkey, in July 2014.

March 16. A United Airlines jet traveling to Denver returned to Washington Dulles International Airport after passengers subdued a man who rushed toward the cockpit yelling "Jihad! Jihad!"
March 17. Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, a 47­-year­-old American convert to Islam and Air Force veteran from New Jersey, was charged with trying to join ISIS.

March 18. An effort to mark national Foreign Language Week by reading the Pledge of Allegiance of the United States in Arabic ignited controversy at the Pine Bush High School in New York. Students and parents were angered by the Arabic rendering: "I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under Allah...."

March 18. Commissioners in Clark County, Nevada, unanimously approved the establishment of the first Islamic cemetery in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. The private, nonprofit cemetery will be situated on two acres just south of McCarran International Airport.

March 19. The city council of Irving, Texas, voted to endorse a state bill that would forbid judges from using foreign law in their rulings. The move comes after Breitbart News revealed the existence of what is believed to be the first official Sharia law court in the United States. The so-called Islamic Tribunal, based in Irving, settles civil disputes among the growing Muslim population. Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne said the tribunal "bypasses American courts" and warned that if basic rights are being violated, "I will not stand idle, and will fight with every fiber of my being against this action."
March 19. Mohammad Yahya, 39, filed a lawsuit against the Gregg County Jail in Longview, Texas, for violating his right to observe Ramadan. Yahya, who is serving time for wire fraud, said Gregg County jailers refused to honor his right to have his meals provided before 4:45 a.m. and after 8:30 p.m. during Ramadan.

March 21. ISIS hackers called on their "brothers in America" to kill 100 US service members whose names, addresses and photographs were published online.

March 25. The US Army charged Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. Bergdahl, 28, disappeared from his outpost in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009. He has been accused of leaving his patrol base intentionally before he was captured by Taliban insurgents. He spent five years as a captive of the Taliban before he was freed in a prisoner swap that also freed five Taliban leaders from the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

March 26. Army National Guard Specialist Hasan Edmonds, 22, a US citizen, was arrested at Chicago Midway International Airport while attempting to fly to Cairo, Egypt, eventually to join ISIS. His cousin, Jonas Edmonds, 29, a US citizen, was arrested without incident at his home in Aurora, Illinois in connection with an alleged plot to carry out an armed attack on a US military facility in northern Illinois. 

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 Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter. His first book, Global Fire, will be out in early 2016.

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Mosque with Ties to Palestinian Jihad Gets Gun Training - Joe Kaufman

by Joe Kaufman

Providing instruction to wannabe jihadists.

CAIR-Florida Regional Operations Director Nezar Hamze’s mosque gun training tour has taken him to numerous Islamic centers throughout Florida. One of the centers is the Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton, a radical mosque with a sinister past of embrace for those associated with Palestinian terror, including support for suicide attackers and their families.

The Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR-Florida has, in the recent past, been involved in supporting Palestinian terrorism. In July 2014, CAIR-Florida co-sponsored a pro-Hamas rally in Downtown Miami, where rally goers shouted, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.” After the rally, the event organizer, Sofian Zakkout, wrote, “Thank God, every day we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!”

CAIR-Florida’s national parent organization, CAIR, was created as a part of a terrorist umbrella organization headed by then-global head of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook, and was named by the US Justice Department as a co-conspirator for two federal trials dealing with the financing of millions of dollars to Hamas.

Nezar Hamze is the CEO and Regional Operations Director for CAIR-Florida. Ironically, he is also a Deputy in the Broward County Sheriff’s Office (BSO). Over the past month or so, Hamze has used his position as a Deputy Sheriff to go into radical mosques throughout the state and teach the congregations how to use guns properly and how to obtain government grants for security systems (to protect from law enforcement conducting surveillance).

One of the mosques Hamze has given training to is Masjid Jamaat Al-Mumineen (MJAM), located in Margate, Florida. That mosque’s imam – who attended Hamze’s class – Izhar Khan, had previously been arrested, according to the indictment against him, for “collecting and delivering money for the Pakistani Taliban.”

Another of the mosques receiving the training, the Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton (ISSB), has also had a terror-related history and its own imam with involvement in a terrorist organization. And like CAIR, it has been Palestinian terrorism and worse.

According to the ISSB newsletter The Faith, in May 2001, the mosque’s children’s school, Dar al-Iman, was visited by then-professor at the University of South Florida (USF), Sami al-Arian, to discuss with the school’s parents “the opportunity for [their] children to attend a fulltime Islamic school in Tampa.” The school is presumably the Islamic Academy of Florida (IAF), an institution founded by al-Arian in 1992 and which is still in existence under a new name.

At the time of his visit, Al-Arian was also the North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). In April 2006, al-Arian pled guilty to conspiracy to provide services to PIJ. Between 1986 and 1992, al-Arian helped found a charity, a think tank, and the IAF school, all of which, according to the indictment against him, were actively used “to raise funds and provide support for the PIJ and their operatives in the Middle East, in order to assist its engagement in, and promotion of, violent attacks…”

As well, according to The Faith, from the beginning of 2000 through the end of 2001, Friday prayers at ISSB were led by al-Arian colleagues Mazen al-Najjar and Hussam Jubara on at least eight separate occasions each.

According to the US Justice Department, Al-Najjar, the brother-in-law of al-Arian, “had established ties to terrorist organizations and held leadership positions” within groups that raised funds for PIJ and Hamas. Those groups included al-Arian’s founded charity, Islamic Concern Project (ICP), and al-Arian’s founded think tank, World and Islam Studies Enterprise (WISE). Following his imprisonment, in August 2002, al-Najjar was deported from the US.

Jubara, then-professor at the University of Central Florida (UCF), co-founded the Islamic Concern Project (originally Islamic Committee for Palestine) with al-Arian. Jubara was arrested in March 2003 and charged and convicted of felony immigration fraud. Later, he too would be deported.

In January 2001, under the banner of ‘Aqsa Victims,’ The Faith announced that the mosque’s “community members” had raised $4000 to be sent to the family of Palestinian “martyrs.” The newsletter read, “The second payment of donations for Aqsa victims were sent the martyrs families and needy in the West Bank in Palestine.” With regard to Palestinians, the term ‘martyrs’ denotes either terrorists (general) or suicide bombers (specific).

In January 2002, a decision was made by ISSB to hire as its full-time imam Muneer Arafat and have Arafat relocate from New York, where he had a residence at the time. In 2001, Arafat had already been leading mosque prayers and teaching Islamic classes to the mosque congregation.

Prior to New York, Arafat had been living in St. Louis, Missouri. It was there that he first met up with Sami al-Arian, at an ICP conference in 1988. Arafat, a member of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, was there to deliver a message from his spiritual guide, PIJ leader Assad Bayyoud Tamimi, who was unable to attend the conference. In June 2005, while giving courtroom testimony about al-Arian, Arafat stated that he is in favor of PIJ’s “goal of destroying Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state.”

While residing in Saint Louis, Arafat also came into contact with al-Qaeda and Hamas operative Ziyad Khaleel. The two became roommates.

In May 1998, at the behest of a senior al-Qaeda lieutenant, Khaleel delivered a satellite phone and battery pack he had purchased to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, which was later used to plan the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. As well, Khaleel was a webmaster for the official website of Hamas and lectured at the University of Missouri on behalf of the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), a now-defunct Hamas propaganda group co-founded by al-Arian and Hamas global leader Mousa Abu Marzook.

Shortly after his May 2003 arrest by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Arafat was hired as the imam of the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR), a radical mosque with a number of terrorist associations. Arafat’s predecessor, Ibrahim Dremali, an extremist in his own right, was placed on the federal “no-fly” list and too would later be arrested.

During Arafat’s term as imam, one of the directors of the mosque was ICBR co-founder Bassem Alhalabi. Alhalabi was a research assistant for al-Arian at USF and was charged, in June 2003, with the illegal export of a $13,000 military thermal imaging device to Syria. Also, while Arafat was imam, ICBR member Rafiq Sabir was arrested and charged with conspiring to provide material support to Al-Qaeda. Sabir received a 25-year prison sentence.

Not surprisingly, CAIR-Florida has previously trained ICBR on how to avoid being questioned by the FBI.

For Nezar Hamze and CAIR to be involved in training radical mosques on how to use guns and how to bilk money from the government for purposes of “security,” no doubt, constitutes a clear and present danger to the residents of Florida and beyond.

Easily, one or more of the individuals sitting in on this training could be the next San Bernardino shooter(s) or the next Times Square bomber(s). Placing this knowledge into the wrong hands, as Hamze has done with Muslim extremists, is essentially providing instruction to wannabe jihadists.

If you are concerned about the CAIR-Florida gun training and wish to voice your opinion, you can contact the Miami FBI office by email at or by phone at 754-703-2000. Please be respectful in any and all communications with this office.

Joe Kaufman was the 2014 Republican nominee for United States House of Representatives in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. He is an expert in the fields of counter-terrorism, foreign affairs and energy independence for America. He has been featured on all major cable networks, including Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC and C-SPAN. Joe has been instrumental in getting terrorist charities shut down and terror-related individuals put behind bars. Exactly one month prior to the September 11 attacks, he predicted the attacks by stating that the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was no aberration and that it would happen again.


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A Ship Upon a Bygone Sea: The UN Force in the Golan Heights at the Start of 2016 - Assaf Orion

by Assaf Orion

The Yom Kippur War on the Syrian front ended on May 31, 1974 with UN Security Council Resolution 350 and the disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria. The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was established. Over the past five years, UNDOF’s operational environment has undergone a radical change, and over the past two years, the force itself has weathered a significant crisis. This essay presents the principal changes of the past five years and proposes recommendations for UNDOF, from the perspective of Israel’s security requirements.

The security regime that ended the Yom Kippur War on Israel’s northern front was designed to prevent another war from breaking out, either as a result of the surplus of combat forces in close proximity to each other, which made a surprise attack possible, or following tactical friction. It was therefore agreed to have the armies separated by a UN force that would be interposed between them and would replace the IDF forces in the enclaves conquered in Syrian territory, and to establish symmetric areas of force limitation on both sides of the Area of Separation, in which the size of the forces stationed would be subject to agreed-on restrictions. In accordance with the agreement and Security Council resolution 350, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was established in June 1974 in order to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Syria and supervise their compliance with the disengagement of forces agreement. The force was limited to 1,250 soldiers, and was deployed in positions in the area of separation and in logistics bases in Israel (Ziouani) and Syria (al-Faouar). In order to carry out its mission, UNDOF was assisted by military observers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), founded in 1948. 

UNDOF vehicles in the Golan Heights, April 27, 2015. Photo: Jalaa Marey / AFP
For decades, UNDOF’s operations were conducted along Israel’s calmest border. Regular activity included observation of the Area of Separation and patrols, bi-weekly inspections in the areas of force limitation on both sides, relay of messages between the parties, and assistance to the Red Cross in humanitarian tasks, such as passage of brides and students through the Quneitra border crossing, and exports of apples from the Druze villages in the Golan Heights to Syria. Under the agreement, UNDOF’s mandate was extended every six months, with two reports a year submitted to the UN Secretary General. These reports were invariably short, routine, and repetitive.
The civil war that broke out in Syria in early 2011 gradually changed the force’s operational environment. In the fighting between the regime and the rebels, control over most of the force’s area of responsibility passed from the Syrian state and its army to the rebels. The risk to UNDOF forces gradually increased, first because of their proximity to the fighting. They later became a target for violence aimed at promoting the military, political, or material goals of some of the rebel factions.
In July 2012, the inspection patrols to the areas of force Limitation on the Syrian side stopped, after the Syrian army failed to assign liaison officers to accompany the UNDOF personnel due to security reasons. In May 2013, a number of UNDOF soldiers were kidnapped in the southern Golan Heights by rebels from the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade and released shortly afterwards. In August-September 2014, rebel forces, including the al-Nusra Front, advanced in a northerly direction, wresting control of most of the area of separation and the Quneitra border crossing from the regime’s army. The rebels took 45 UNDOF soldiers from the Fijian contingent hostage, and besieged two positions manned by dozens of Philippine soldiers. The surrounded forces escaped to Israeli territory. In the following weeks, UNDOF abandoned most of its positions in the Area of Separation and its headquarters in al-Faouar, and withdrew most of its forces to Israel. In view of the situation, the Quneitra border crossing was closed, and in order to facilitate the continued operation of the UNDOF positions, the provision of combat supplies, and medical evacuation, the IDF opened alternative crossings to and from Israel.
In its first decades, UNDOF had two infantry battalions, and enjoyed the support and assurance of both Israel and Syria. In 2002-2012 the force numbered about 1,000 soldiers, and its annual budget was $40-50 million. When the security situation deteriorated, several developed countries withdrew their contingents from UNDOF. Between the spring of 2013 and the summer of 2014, the force grew to a peak of 1,271 soldiers. After the events of the summer of 2014, however, more forces left UNDOF, and the force now numbers fewer than 800 soldiers, the lowest number since it was founded. In the summer of 2014, the force’s annual budget exceeded $60 million, and is now $64 million. The current annual cost of each UNDOF soldier is 140% of what it was in 2002.
The force size currently is equivalent to one battalion, with a Nepali company deployed in the four Hermon positions, a Fiji company in position 80 close to Rafid and Israeli territory, and a reserve company from Ireland in Camp Ziouani. The force also mans a number of observation positions along the Israeli border of the Area of Separation. Since 2013, the frequency and scope of the periodic reports to the UN Secretary General has doubled, but these deal mainly with findings in Israel and the area near it. On the maps attached to the recent reports, the force’s 46 positions and its observation point still appear unchanged, even though most of them have been abandoned, seized by the rebels, and looted in recent years. The reports express the force’s wish, with the support of the Israeli and Syrian governments, to return to the Area of Separation when the security situation allows, but it is difficult to predict if and when the conditions for this will occur.
In early 2015, Major General Purna Chandra Thapa of Nepal replaced Lieutenant General Iqbal Singh Singha of India, who commanded the UNDOF force for two and a half years. The new commander established his headquarters in Damascus, where he spends most of his time, in contrast to previous commanders, who divided their time between Camp Faouar and Camp Ziouani and frequently visited the Quneitra border crossing. The new location does not help UNDOF maintain the excellent working relations at a senior level that it needs on both sides of the border, even given the presence of the force’s deputy commander in Israel. It was reported recently that the Nepalese UNDOF commander has been promoted to Lieutenant General, and was informed of his imminent return to his country for promotion in the Nepalese army after only one year as UNDOF commander.
The expected change of commanders in early February is an opportunity to examine the state of the force and how it operates, in view of the situation in the area. Clearly, a significant and widening gap has emerged between the force’s mandate, structure, and missions and the current reality in which it operates. The original architecture of UNDOF’s activity, which included the support of two sovereign countries, was undermined after the regime in Damascus lost its monopoly over military force and its control of the territory east of Israel. Preventing war between the Israeli and Syrian armies is no longer as relevant as it was in the past. Supervising the force limitations and the Area of Separation lost its value when both the Syrian regime and the rebels fighting against it are using military assets in violation of the restrictions under the agreement. Inspection of the restrictions on forces occurs only on the Israeli side, and the relevance of its finding is doubtful.
Nevertheless, Israel and Syria support the continuation of the force’s mission, each for its own reasons. For Israel, this reflects a commitment to agreements in the framework of a desirable state order, and draws international attention and relatively objective reporting (although not entirely free of bias) from a rather turbulent border area. The IDF’s consistent, professional, and responsible aid to the UNDOF forces earns it credit among armies and leaders around the world, beyond what is reflected in the UN reports. For the regime in Damascus, UNDOF’s continued activity gives the appearance of order and ostensible sovereign state status in an area where it has in fact lost control. In addition, this situation provides the regime with leverage over UN members and agencies that are structurally dependent on it, as well as undeserved political credit in UN reports that provide it with flattering lip service.
The bottom line, however, is that UNDOF’s value to the two sides lies in its status as a reliable channel of communication between Israel and the Assad regime – a channel that helps prevent deliberate or incidental cross-border fires from leading to escalation.
In the situation that has emerged, Israel should consider efforts to influence UNDOF in the following directions, which will make it more relevant in the current environment and help advance Israel’s goals. As a basic assumption, changing the mandate in the current circumstances is impossible, for various political reasons. At the same time, the UN’s room for interpretation makes it possible to adapt the tools, methods, and means utilized by UNDOF, as follows:
a. It is essential that UNDOF continue to man the Hermon positions. If these fall into the hands of Sunni terrorist groups or the radical Shiite axis, they will pose a grave threat to the nearby IDF positions, and demand an appropriate response.
b. Israel must insist that the commander of the force operate from offices in both Syria (Damascus?) and Israel (Ziouani), and that he be allowed to move directly between the parties, subject to security conditions. For this purpose, Israel must demand that the Assad regime refrain from forcing UNDOF to reach Israel through Lebanon, as is currently the case.
c. In view of the situation on the ground, UNDOF must be able to contact and reach understandings with local power groups that control territory, and to perform stabilizing humanitarian missions through provision of medical services, food, and aid to civilians. These capabilities, despite the Assad regime’s opposition, are an essential element in the renewal of the force’s activity on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, and are likely to help improve the situation of the local population, encourage support for the UN presence, and enhance prospects for UNDOF’s return to the Area of Separation. UNDOF should also be mandated to remove mines, which provide terrorist groups with an available source of standard explosives.
d. In view of its current number of positions, the size of the force can be further reduced, as long as reinforcements are available for action or redeployment as needed.

Assaf Orion


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