Friday, April 21, 2017

Palestinians: Hunger Strike or Smokescreen? - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

It is an integral part of the Palestinian strategy to undermine, isolate, delegitimize and destroy Israel.

  • It is an integral part of the Palestinian strategy to undermine, isolate, delegitimize and destroy Israel.
  • It is not only Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who is in trouble. Marwan Barghouti, too, knows better than to air dirty Fatah laundry. What, then, is to be done? The traditional diversionary tactic: Direct the heat towards Israel.
  • Stripped of its Western trappings, Barghouti's "hunger strike" is actually a struggle between Abbas and yet another Fatah pretender to the throne. And once again, Israel -- the state that supposedly so "mistreats" incarcerated Palestinian terrorists -- takes the heat.
Palestinians have an old habit of settling internal scores by diverting their grievances and violence towards Israel. This practice is clear to those who have been monitoring developments in the Palestinian arena for the past decades. It is an integral part of the Palestinian strategy to undermine, isolate, delegitimize and destroy Israel.

Those less familiar with Palestinian culture and tactics, however, have difficulty understanding the Palestinian mindset. Officials in Washington, London, Paris and other Western capitals rarely meet the ordinary Palestinian, the "man on the street" who represents the authentic voice of the Palestinians.
Instead, these officials meet Palestinian politicians and academics from Ramallah -- the "experts" who are actually accomplished con artists. Such Palestinians grasp the Western mindset very well, and use their understanding to twist Western officials any which way they want.

The Western reaction to the hunger strike declared on April 17 by Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails is a case in point. The strike was initiated by Marwan Barghouti, a senior Fatah official who is serving five life terms for his role in terror attacks against Israelis. Barghouti has been in prison for 15 years so far.

Remarkably, despite Barghouti's long-term imprisonment, this is his first hunger strike, apparently despite the poor incarceration conditions that have supposedly driven him to this move. Or might there be some other factor behind Barghouti's sudden acute discomfort?

The hunger strike is, in fact, completely unrelated to conditions in Israeli prisons. Rather, Barghouti's hunger strike is directly linked to a power struggle that has long been raging inside his Fatah faction. More than a move against Israel, the hunger strike is aimed at Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas (who is also chairman of Fatah).

The hunger strike declared by jailed Palestinian terrorist Marwan Barghouti (left) is aimed at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right). Barghouti's supporters accuse Abbas and his loyalists of sidelining the jailed Fatah leader and seeking to "bury" him.

Last November, Barghouti emerged as the biggest winner in Fatah's internal election. His status as a prisoner and his involvement in terrorism continue to be the main reason why he is so popular among Palestinians. Barghouti's victory in the election meant that he was now number two after Abbas, and many expected the PA president to appoint him as his deputy.

This past February, however, the Fatah Central Council, a body dominated by Abbas loyalists, delivered a deliberate slap in the face to Barghouti, ignoring his landslide victory and appointing someone else (Mahmoud Aloul) as Deputy Fatah Chairman. The appointment of Aloul enraged Barghouti's supporters, who rushed to accuse Abbas and his loyalists of sidelining the jailed Fatah leader and seeking to "bury" him.

Barghouti's wife, Fadwa, even went as far as accusing Abbas of "succumbing" to threats by Israel. Israeli officials had strongly criticized the result of the Fatah internal election, which the Barghouti won, calling it a vote for terrorism. Fadwa Barghouti said that her husband had won the first slot in the election, "which means he is number two in Fatah. There is no ignoring Marwan Barghouti's position."

The charges leveled by Barghouti's wife against Abbas are not the first. In the past, she has accused Abbas and the PA leadership of imposing a blackout on news concerning her husband. In a letter to Abbas, she expressed "regret and pain" over the failure of Abbas to help her in her campaign to secure the release of her husband. She also complained that neither Fatah nor the PA leadership had provided funds to support the campaign calling for her husband's release.

It is no secret that Abbas detests competition. He has been waging war against anyone who dares to challenge his rule, especially from within his own Fatah faction. Mohammed Dahlan, for example, a former PA security commander from the Gaza Strip and considered the number one enemy of the PA president, was expelled from Fatah on orders from Abbas. Dahlan, a Fatah parliamentarian, was stripped of his parliamentary immunity by Abbas. Dahlan is currently living in the United Arab Emirates, but is wanted by Abbas for "corruption" and "murder."

Barghouti, however, presents Abbas with an immediate problem. The Palestinian on the street will not tolerate the defamation, at least not in public, of any Palestinian sitting in Israeli prison. Abbas sees Barghouti as a real threat, particularly in the wake of public opinion polls suggesting that Barghouti could easily win any presidential election. Barghouti at large would be a nightmare for Abbas.

So, no love is lost between Abbas and Barghouti; the two are engaged in a behind-the-scenes power struggle. Barghouti wants to succeed Abbas, while Abbas is working hard to marginalize him. Palestinian sources say that Abbas is not happy with Barghouti's hunger strike. He believes Barghouti is trying to steal the spotlight from him, especially on the eve of his visit to Washington for talks with President Donald Trump. Abbas, who wants to be in the news all the time, cannot stand that Barghouti is grabbing the headlines and was even invited to write an op-ed in the New York Times.

It is not only Abbas, however, who is in trouble. Barghouti, too, knows better than to air dirty Fatah laundry. What, then, is to be done? The traditional diversionary tactic: Direct the heat towards Israel. Barghouti is suddenly concerned about his prison conditions and is demanding more privileges. Israel, he claims, imprisons Palestinians for their "peaceful resistance." Barghouti knows it is not popular to come out in public against Abbas. Similarly, Abbas is using the hunger strike to incite against Israel and demand that all Palestinian terrorists, including ones with blood on their hands, be released unconditionally. The hunger strike is a smokescreen for the real problems inside Fatah and has nothing to do with the conditions of prisoners in Israeli jails.

Stripped of its Western trappings, Barghouti's "hunger strike" is actually a struggle between Abbas and yet another Fatah pretender to the throne. And once again, Israel -- the state that supposedly so "mistreats" incarcerated Palestinian terrorists -- takes the heat.
Bassam Tawil, an Arab Muslim, is based in the Middle East.

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CAMERA: Barghouti op-ed just the tip of the Times' iceberg - Hillel Fendel

by Hillel Fendel

Pro-Israel organization lists a long series of anti-Israel op-eds in the New York Times – including one surprise.

New York Times office
New York Times office
Flash 90
While The New York Times has been widely criticized for publishing five-time murderer Marwan Barghouti's op-ed without explaining his background, the op-ed in question is only the tip of the iceberg.

Research by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) shows that since the start of 2017, readers of the Times' op-ed pages have been fed a steady diet of one-sided, anti-Israel rhetoric.

It began on January 6, when the Times published an article entitled "The Frightening Truth About Israeli Society." The article provided a long list of allegations that Israel is allowing itself to be diverted from its democratic values.

Three weeks later, an op-ed by Ayelet Waldman and her husband Michael Chabon suggested the country should be viewed as responsible for future Palestinian terror attacks. This was echoed more strongly last month when Larry Derfner's opinion piece stated that Israel should be blamed in any future war with Hezbollah or Hamas.

In the meanwhile, on February 11, Arab Knesset Member Ayman Odeh was granted a platform on which to write "How Israel Bulldozes Democracy." The piece accuses Israel of mistreating its Arab citizens; CAMERA critiqued it as "so egregiously misleading, so full of errors and distortions, that it feels like a theatrical attack against a cartoonish villain."

Finally, on March 1, an op-ed insisted that PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas actually "accepts Israel's Jewishness" and that Israel is manipulatively concealing Abbas’s "true position" by claiming otherwise. In fact, however, Abbas has repeatedly, explicitly, and emphatically rejected Israel's Jewishness in recent years. The newspaper, CAMERA states, has never corrected the false claim that Abbas accepts a Jewish state.

Strangely, CAMERA also mentions an op-ed by Hevron Jewish Community spokesman Yishai Fleisher as an example of The New York Times' one-sidedness against Israel. The organization found two faults with the article: "By publishing an Israeli who approvingly supports annexation of much of the West Bank… [the paper] "underscore[s] all those accusations that Israel is a land-hungry entity." In addition, the article included two criticisms of the Israeli Government.

Surprisingly, CAMERA lumps together criticism of the Government of Israel with criticism of and hostility to Israel in general. In fact, however, while the latter borders on anti-Semitism, the former is more than legitimate in any democratic society. 

Let us also note the context of the "criticism:" Fleisher was indicating that the government's PR policy ought to concentrate more on the actual issues of Jewish rights to Judea and Samaria than on its technological prowess and the like. Can this "criticism" of Israel be compared in any way to accusations of Israeli apartheid and the like?

Would CAMERA truly prefer that the Times not publish op-eds by members of Israel's nationalist camp? After all, an increasingly growing number of its members support Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. Does CAMERA mean to imply that any op-ed that does not push a soft right-wing view is in some way harmful to Israel?

Unfortunately, CAMERA does not reassure us that this is not the case, lamenting the fact that "there is no shortage of reputable, moderate voices who would point out that Palestinians have flaws and, most importantly, a great share of responsibility for the ongoing conflict." 

In conclusion, CAMERA chides the Times for the fact that "these voices are largely missing from the newspaper of record. As a result, while the anti-Israel invective flows, little pressure is placed on Palestinians to crack down on rampant hate speech, to accept the Jewish state’s right to exist, and to end the system in which anti-Israel violence is in effect rewarded by payments to the family of attackers."

Hillel Fendel


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The Bay of Pigs 56 Years Later - Humberto Fontova

by Humberto Fontova

When U.S. airstrikes could have destroyed a terrorist regime, freed a nation and altered history.

Where are the planes?!” kept crackling over U.S. Navy radios exactly 56 years ago this week. The U.S. Naval armada (22 ships including the Carrier Essex loaded with deadly Skyhawk jets.) was sitting 16 miles off the southern Cuban coast near an inlet known as Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs). The question — bellowed between blasts from a Soviet artillery and tank barrage landing around him — came from commander Jose San Roman.

“Send planes or we can’t last!” San Roman kept pleading to the very fleet that escorted his men to the beachhead (and sat much closer to them than the U.S. destroyers Porter and Ross sat to the Syrian coast this week.) Meanwhile the Soviet artillery barrage intensified, the Soviet T-34 and Stalin tanks closed in, and San Roman’s casualties piled up.

By that date the terrorists who ran (and still run) Cuba had been operating terror-training camps for two years, had kidnapped, tortured and murdered dozens of American (to say nothing of tens of thousands of Cubans.) A year later they wantonly brought Western civilization a whisker from nuclear destruction. If foreign terrorists ever merited a MOAB, it was these-- based 90 miles from U.S. shores.

Crazed by hunger and thirst the Cuban freedom-fighters had been shooting and reloading without sleep for three days. Many were hallucinating. By then many suspected they’d been abandoned by the Knights of Camelot.

That’s when Castro’s Soviet Howitzers opened up again, huge 122 mm ones, four batteries’ worth. They pounded 2,000 rounds into the freedom-fighters over a four-hour period. “It sounded like the end of the world,” one recalled later to your humble servant here.

“Rommel’s crack Afrika Corps broke and ran under a similar bombardment,” wrote Haynes Johnson in his book, the Bay of Pigs. By that time the invaders were dazed, delirious with fatigue, thirst and hunger, too deafened by the bombardment to even hear orders. But these men were in no mood to emulate Rommel’s crack Afrika Corps by retreating. Instead they were fortified by a resolve no conquering troops could ever call upon–the burning duty to free their nation from Castroism….

They were mostly civilian volunteers known as La Brigada 2506, an almost precise cross-section of Cuban society of the time. The Brigada included men from every social strata and race in Cuba — from sugar cane planters to sugar cane cutters, from aristocrats to their chauffeurs. But mostly, the folks in between, as befit a nation with a larger middle class than most of Europe.

Short on battle experience, yes, but they fairly burst with what Napoleon and Patton valued most in a soldier: morale. No navel-gazing about “why they hate us” or the merits of “regime change” for them. They’d seen Castroism point-blank.

Their goals were crystal-clear: firing-squads silenced, families reunited, tens of thousands freed from prisons, torture chambers and concentration camps. We see it on the History Channel after our GIs took places like Manila and Munich.

Well, in 1961 newsreels could have captured such scenes without crossing oceans. When those Cuban freedom-fighters hit the beach at the Bay of Pigs, one of every 18 Cubans suffered in Castro Gulag. Mass graves dotted the Cuban countryside, piled with hundreds who’d crumpled in front of Castro and Che Guevara’s firing squads. Most of the invaders had loved-ones among the above. Modern history records few soldiers with the burning morale of the Bay of Pigs freedom-fighters.

Camelot’s criminal idiocy of cancelling airstrikes made the Brigada’s lumbering B-26s easy prey for Castro's jets and fast Sea-Furies -- and the troops and supplies below them were even easier prey. It was a turkey shoot for the Castroites.

This finally brought Adm. Arleigh Burke of the Joints Chief of Staff, who was receiving the battlefield pleas, to the brink of mutiny. The fighting admiral was livid. They say his face was beet red and his facial veins popping as he faced down his commander-in-chief that fateful night of April 18, 1961. “Mr. President, TWO planes from the Essex!” that’s all those Cuban boys need, Mr. President. Let me order…!”

JFK was in white tails and a bow tie that evening, having just emerged from an elegant social gathering. “Burke,” he replied. “We can’t get involved in this.”

“WE put those Cuban boys there, Mr. President!” The fighting admiral exploded. “By God, we ARE involved!”

Admiral Burke’s pleas also proved futile. But the betrayal was too much for the Cuban freedom-fighters’ enraged and heartsick American trainers at the base in Nicaragua. These American airmen had closely bonded with their Cuban band-of-freedom-fighting brothers. “Their fight our our fight,” later related Lieut Col. Joe Shannon. “We were in this thing together.”

So four of the American airmen suited up, gunned the engines and joined the fight—but in the  lumbering B-26 bombers the Brigada had been issued. These enraged and valiant pilots weren't pampered Ivy Leaguers. They were Alabama Air Guard officers, men with archaic notions of loyalty and honor. They had watched the decimation of the freedom-fighter pilots. They knew the odds. They went anyway.

All four died on that first mission. All four (Pete Ray, Riley Shamburger, Leo Barker, and Wade Grey) have their names in a place of honor alongside their fallen Cuban freedom-fighting comrades on The Bay of Pigs Memorial, plus streets named after them in Miami's Little Havana, plus their crosses at Miami's Cuban Memorial cemetery.

When Doug MacArthur waded ashore on Leyte, he grabbed a radio: "People of the Philippines: I have returned, “he declared in a strong but shaking voice. “By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again on Philippine soil — soil consecrated in the blood of our two peoples."

Cuban soil was similarly consecrated.

The freedom-fighters’ spent ammo and lack of air cover inevitably forced a retreat. Castro’s jets and Sea Furies were roaming overhead at will and tens of thousands of his Soviet-led and armed troops and armor were closing in. The Castro planes now concentrated on strafing the helpless, ammo-less freedom-fighters.

“Can’t continue,” crackled over the navy radio handled by CIA trainer Grayston Lynch. It was Lynch’s friend San Roman again. “Have nothing left to fight with ...out of ammo…Russian tanks in view….destroying my equipment.”

“Tears flooded my eyes,” wrote multi-decorated WWII and Korea hero Grayston Lynch. “For the first time in my 37 years I was ashamed of my country.”

When the smoke cleared and their ammo had been expended to the very last bullet, when a hundred of them lay dead and hundreds more wounded, after three days of relentless battle, barely 1,400 of them—without air support (from the U.S. Carriers just offshore) and without a single supporting shot by naval artillery (from U.S. cruisers and destroyers poised just offshore)—had squared off against 21,000 Castro troops, his entire air force and squadrons of Soviet tanks. The Cuban freedom-fighters inflicted over 3000 casualties on their Soviet-armed and led enemies. This feat of arms still amazes professional military men.

“They fought magnificently and were not defeated,” stressed Marine Col. Jack Hawkins a multi-decorated WWII and Korea vet who helped train them. “They were abandoned on the beach without the supplies and support promised by their sponsor, the Government of the United States.”

Humberto Fontova


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The UNRWA book battle - Jonathan S. Tobin

by Jonathan S. Tobin

UNRWA's proposed changes are a step in the right direction. The ‎PA's opposition is more proof that it is an obstacle to any hope for a better life for ‎both Israeli and Palestinian children.‎

It is an article of faith for the international community and the Jewish Left that the ‎Palestinian Authority is a moderate force that wants to make peace with Israel. ‎That belief has been undermined by many of the PA's actions and statements since ‎its creation after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, yet somehow it survives and forms the basis for many of the assumptions critics make ‎about Israel's government. 

The latest proof that the PA is a principle obstacle to ‎peace rather than its best hope has not received any attention in the Western press. ‎But a discussion of the conflict that has arisen between it and the United Nations ‎Relief and Works Agency speaks volumes about everything that is wrong ‎with the PA.‎

UNRWA is the world body that is devoted solely to aiding Palestinian refugees. ‎Unlike the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which is tasked with helping all other refugees around the world, UNRWA doesn't try ‎to resettle refugees or resolve their problems. On the contrary, since its creation ‎after the Arab failure to destroy Israel in its War of Independence, UNRWA has ‎helped to perpetuate the clash between Israel and the Muslim and Arab worlds and ‎championed the "right of return" that would spell Israel's end. Its schools and aid ‎projects have been hotbeds of radicalism aimed at erasing the existence of the ‎Jewish state and have even been used by Hamas. In particular, critics have noted ‎the way UNRWA schools in the West Bank and Gaza have curricula and textbooks ‎that teach up to 600,000 Palestinian youngsters to reject Israel's legitimacy and ‎glorify the struggle to destroy it. ‎

But, like the rest of the U.N., UNRWA has been feeling some pressure to ‎reform. The Trump administration has shown a willingness to throw its weight ‎around that directly contrasts with former President Barack Obama's support for the U.N. Under ‎new Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who previously headed the U.N.'s other ‎refugee agency, efforts to promote the libel that Israel is an apartheid state were ‎rejected. So when the Arab press reported leaks about a shift in UNRWA's ‎education policy, this seemed to indicate that even that agency was feeling some ‎pressure to change its ways.‎

According to those reports, UNRWA was planning to alter the textbooks it uses ‎in its schools. Among the planned changes, cities inside Israel would stop being labeled as Palestinian, a practice that instills a sense in readers that the Jewish state is ‎merely a colonialist intrusion built entirely on "stolen" Arab land. Other changes ‎included an effort to tone down praise of Palestinians who commit terrorism ‎against Jews and Israelis. Its teaching about Jerusalem would treat it as a city that ‎is as holy to all three monotheistic religions, rather than just Islam. That's significant because Palestinian efforts to claim that shrines such ‎as the Temple Mount and even the Western Wall are ‎exclusively Muslim were part of a campaign of incitement that led to the recent ‎‎"stabbing intifada." Perhaps just as significant is that the new texts would also seek ‎to correct gender bias that was part of the old books.‎

But rather than welcome reform, the Palestinian Authority has reacted with fury. ‎Last week, the PA announced that it was suspending ties with UNRWA over the ‎proposed changes, which have yet to be formally announced. It said the revisions ‎to the curriculum were an "affront to the Palestinian people, its history and ‎struggles" and that the suspension would continue until the agency's "positions are ‎corrected."‎

The PA Education Ministry issued the following statement:‎ "Any distortion of the Palestinian curriculum is a flagrant violation of the laws of the ‎host country, and any change to any letter to appease any party is a betrayal of the ‎Palestinian narrative and the right of the Palestinian people under occupation to ‎preserve its identity and struggle.‎"

The implications of the PA position for the prospects for peace in this or future ‎generations cannot be overestimated.‎

For more than a century, Palestinian national identity has been inextricably tied to the war on Zionism. Throughout two decades of failed peace negotiations, the ‎supposedly moderate Palestinian Authority has consistently rejected Israeli offers ‎of independence that would obligate it to recognize the legitimacy of the Jewish ‎state within any borders. Any chance that this will change rests not so much on ‎more Israeli concessions but on a sea change in Palestinian political culture. ‎Leaving aside the role of Hamas, unless the PA's future leaders are able to embrace ‎peace without fear that doing so will be seen as a betrayal, the failure of more talks ‎is foreordained. UNRWA's proposed changes are a step in the right direction. The ‎PA's opposition is more proof that it is an obstacle to any hope for a better life for ‎both Israeli and Palestinian children.‎

Jonathan S. Tobin is the opinion editor of and a contributing writer for ‎National Review. Twitter @jonathans_tobin.‎


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Newly revealed records show Allies knew of Holocaust as early as 1942 - Eli Leon and Israel Hayom Staff

by Eli Leon and Israel Hayom Staff

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-Charles Bensoussan

Allied leaders had information about Nazi atrocities from the camps themselves and from resistance fighters, researcher Dan Plesch tells Independent newspaper • Member of Britain's war cabinet said Jews should not be considered a "special case."

One of the documents proving the Allies knew about the Holocaust but did nothing to stop it

An aerial view of the Auschwitz extermination camp
Photo credit: Gettyimages

Eli Leon and Israel Hayom Staff


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Tillerson accuses Iran of 'alarming provocations' - Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

by Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

As U.S. reviews its policy on Iran, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson cautions that Tehran could become a threat like North Korea if left unchecked • Tillerson warns that all threats posed by Iran must be addressed, "and it is clear there are many."

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Photo credit: Reuters

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff


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President Trump Faces North Korea’s Nuclear Threat - Joseph Klein

by Joseph Klein

Confronting the rogue regime does not have to mean inevitable all-out war.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear weapons tests, including two last year, and is reported to be preparing for another nuclear test in the near future. The rogue regime has also conducted dozens of ballistic missile tests. The Obama administration managed to push fairly tough sanctions resolutions through the United Nations Security Council, but North Korea has ignored them. During the last years of his term, Obama also reportedly ordered cyberattacks against the regime to sabotage its missile launches. The cyberattacks may have slowed down North Korea’s progress, but have far from eliminated the threat. Otherwise, Obama’s policy amounted to what became known as “strategic patience.” That is where things stood when Donald Trump took over as president.

Since the Trump administration has taken office, the rhetoric between North Korea and the United States over North Korea's accelerating nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program has ratcheted up to unprecedented levels. Every day brings new threats and counter-threats. Alarms have been sounded that misunderstandings of each other's intentions can lead to dangerous miscalculations, allowing perceived provocations by each side to potentially spin out of control. However, apocalyptic fears of an imminent, all-out nuclear war would appear to be premature, despite bluster from the North Korean regime that “nuclear war could break out at any moment.”

President Trump himself, along with senior administration officials, have cautioned North Korea to tread carefully. Tweeting that “North Korea is looking for trouble,” the president warned that the United States will solve the North Korea problem unilaterally if necessary.

Vice President Mike Pence, while visiting South Korea and the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, warned North Korea's leaders not to test President Trump's resolve or "the strength of the armed forces of the United States in this region." Vice President Pence emphasized that the "era of strategic patience is over" with North Korea.

The Trump administration is right to be concerned about North Korea's unceasing drive to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile fitted with a nuclear warhead that is capable of striking the United States mainland. Although, according to best estimates, it will take North Korea several years to successfully develop, test and deploy the required technical capability to launch such missiles that can reach the U.S. mainland, the clock is ticking. Moreover, Japan, South Korea and other U.S. allies in the Asia Pacific region are already at risk from North Korea’s short and intermediate range missiles. North Korea’s last missile test on Sunday was a dud, possibly as a result of a U.S. initiated cyberattack, but North Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-Ryol remained defiant. He declared, "We'll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis."   It would be reckless to simply hope that the existential threat to the region, and ultimately to the United States, from North Korea’s expanding nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program will simply go away on its own or could be stopped in its tracks by cyberattacks alone.

While maintaining that all options, including military ones, are on the table, President Trump is deliberately remaining cryptic when discussing what he specifically might do in response to any further provocations from the North Korean regime. Nevertheless, the president's willingness to take decisive, sharply focused military actions in Syria and Afghanistan have sent a credible message of U.S. resolve to North Korea's leadership, while achieving tactical successes in both theaters of operation. The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, accompanied by three other warships in its strike force, will be arriving in the Sea of Japan off the Korean Peninsula next week, after some initial delay in their deployment.

Unfortunately, there is no sign that the North Korean regime will back down even in the face of such show of U.S. military strength. Rather, the isolated regime and its paranoid leader Kim Jong-un are likely to hunker down. North Korea, which sees itself in a struggle for survival, is willing to bet everything on its nuclear and ballistic missile program as part of a high stakes poker game to keep its enemies at bay at all cost.

Thus, there is no easy way to deal with North Korea’s nuclear threat. Its missiles are well hidden in scattered locations throughout the country. A preemptive military strike by the United States would be unlikely to wipe them all out. Yet such a strike will almost certainly precipitate a devastating retaliatory attack – either by nuclear or massive conventional arms – on South Korea and Japan. Our bases and soldiers in the region will be in immediate peril. While the United States military would no doubt ultimately prevail in a military showdown with North Korea, it would almost certainly come at an unacceptable cost in civilian lives.

At the other extreme, trying to negotiate with North Korea some sort of nuclear freeze, much less denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, will prove futile. Going as far back as Bill Clinton’s presidency, prior administrations have tried the negotiations route, only to be suckered into useless talks or giving North Korea money in return for promises to halt its nuclear program that North Korea broke time and time again. Prior administrations have also failed to persuade China to use its full economic leverage over North Korea to get its ally to at least freeze its nuclear and ballistic missile program. 

In short, the North Korean regime is willing to play extreme brinksmanship in order to stave off the invasion it fears from the United States and its allies and preserve its own power from any perceived external or internal threats. It also continues to be able to close off its populace from outside influences, as it indoctrinates them into believing that economic sacrifices are necessary in order for the country to maintain a sufficient war footing to survive.

President Trump appears to be listening to his senior national security team, who are urging restraint accompanied by muscular diplomacy. In addition to the show of military force and demonstrated willingness to use it, President Trump has reportedly leaned harder on China to use its influence with North Korea than any prior administration had done. The subject came up at his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month and during a follow-up telephone conversation.  President Trump expressed willingness to be flexible on trade issues with China in return for concrete actions by China to deter North Korea. Otherwise, Mr. Trump said, he would solve the North Korean problem himself. His combination of carrots and sticks have already yielded some positive results.

The Chinese Communist Party’s official paper, the People’s Daily, advised North Korea to take President Trump at his word. “Not only [is] Washington brimming with confidence and arrogance following the missile attacks on Syria, but Trump is also willing to be regarded as a man who honors his promises,” it said. The United States “doesn’t plan to co-exist with a nuclear-armed Pyongyang. Pyongyang should avoid making mistakes at this time.”

China has also reportedly sent more than 100,000 troops to North Korea’s border.  It is most likely the case that China's troop deployment is in part intended to deter any direct major U.S. military action against North Korea that China fears could topple the regime, possibly result in a unified Western-oriented Korean Peninsula, and cause a flood of migrants to try to enter China. At the same time, however, Chinese forces would be poised to enter North Korea and take control themselves if need be. They would "be in a position to force a coup or force Kim's hand" to disarm, according to Sim Tack, a North Korea expert at Stratfor, as quoted by Business Insider. China would act, if it deemed necessary, to "make sure North Korea still exists and serves Chinese interests while it stops acting as a massive bullseye to the US," he added. In other words, China might opt for a pliant regime it can fully control rather than continue to prop up the out of control megalomaniac Kim Jong-un.

In addition, China has recently applied more economic pressure on the North Korean regime. China’s customs authorities ordered trading companies to return coal imported from North Korea, sending North Korean ships laden with coal back home. That represents a huge blow to North Korea’s export business and its ability to get its hands on hard currency. If North Korea persists with more provocative actions such as nuclear weapons tests, warned another Chinese newspaper closely aligned with official government thinking, restrictions on oil imports to North Korea may come next.

While welcoming China’s cooperation to date, President Trump needs to deploy a variety of measures to counter the North Korean threat short of a full-scale pre-emptive attack. These may include enhanced cyberwarfare, deploying more robust missile defense systems in the region and in the United States, cutting off any banking firms doing business with North Korean entities from the U.S. banking system, and maintaining a major naval presence in the region with the capability of shooting down any missiles launched from North Korea aimed at any U.S. ally or base.

All-out war with North Korea is not inevitable unless we foolishly drop our guard. 

Joseph Klein is a Harvard-trained lawyer and the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom and Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations & Radical Islam.


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Syria moves all its fighter jets to Russian base - debkaFile

by debkaFile

debkafile’s military sources report that the Syrian air force will operate henceforth under Russian protection and behind the advanced Russian S-300 and S-400 air defense shield without fear of US reprisals.

Syria has moved all its fighter aircraft to the Russian Hmeimim air base in Latakia three weeks after 59 US Tomahawk cruise missiles knocked out one-fifth of its air force at the Shayrat base, in retaliation for a chemical attack on civilians in Idlib. This was reported Wednesday night, April 19, by the Pentagon. The Russian high command in Syria has its seat at that base.

debkafile’s military sources report that the Syrian air force will operate henceforth under Russian protection and behind the advanced Russian S-300 and S-400 air defense shield without fear of US reprisals.

President Vladimir Putin’s response to the Trump administration’s call to distance Moscow from the Assad regime is therefore a flat rejection. He is instead fortifying Russian support for that regime.

The upsurge of Russian-US military tension places at risk the operational coordination accords prevailing between the air forces of Russia, the US and Israel in Syrian skies. 

Syrian operational staff officers working in Hmeimim will now have access to the advanced Russian surveillance instruments tracking the movements of all foreign aircraft moving through Syrian air space. Syrian intelligence officers will also be close to Russian SIGINT facilities which the Russian spy agency GRU has installed there. In other words, by a single move, the Russians have substantially upgraded the Syrian air force’s operational and intelligence capabilities.

How does this affect the Syrian and Iranian air freight traffic ferrying military supplies from Iran? Where will they deliver their cargoes? Will they too be allowed to land at the Russian base in Latakia? If they are, the Israeli air force will be prevented from cutting down the flow of Iranian weapons for Hizballah. The new move more or less buries the Russian-Israeli agreements covering Syrian skies.

The Pentagon disclosure came ironically just hours after a senior Israeli military officer confidently informed military correspondents in Tel Aviv that the mechanism introduced for Russian-Israeli air force coordination in Syria had been successfully adopted by other nations operating in Syria, such as Turkey and the United States. He reported that the arrangement included reciprocal visits once every two months by heads of the operations divisions of the two armies.

These visits will probably go the same way now as the entire arrangement.



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Shattered: A New Fairy Tale about How Hillary ‘Forgot’ White Voters - Colin Flaherty

by Colin Flaherty

The pundits were so busy misreporting the election, they did not listen to what was actually happening in the campaign.

The Russians are off the hook. The chattering geniuses have discovered a new villain to blame for the shattering demise of their heroine, Hillary.

White guys did it.

The same reporters who cheered Hillary’s every misstep and doubted every Trump triumph are now trying to convince us that Hillary would be wearing the presidential pants suits today if only her staffers had not forgotten about white voters.

That is what we learned from Shattered, the latest 2016 campaign obituary that crashed into bookstores this week. 

The pundits were so busy misreporting the election, they did not listen to what was actually happening in the campaign. If they had, they would know that far from forgetting white voters, Hillary and her Klan actively demonized them every day. 

Do you really need reminding? Then let’s do it:

During the NBC debate, Lester Holt asked Hillary if cops were racist: “Lester, I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone, not just police. I think unfortunately too many of us in our great country jump to conclusions about each other. And therefore, all of us need to be asking hard questions” about race.

Hillary was happy to share her solutions to hidden white racism with America’s pied paper of racial reconciliation -- when he was not starting deadly race riots -- Al Sharpton: “White Americans need to do a much better job of listening when African Americans talk about the seen and unseen barriers you face everyday,” quoth Hillary to cheers of “amen” from the black audience. “We need to recognize our privilege and practice humility.”

Commercial after commercial, speech after speech, Hillary put white privilege and evil white people who killed Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, etc. front and center.

While Hillary was using her carefully crafted, poll tested talking points on the trail, Hillary supporters were taking her message of relentless white racism to rougher places, in rougher tones.

In Baltimore, the black mayor and state’s attorney -- Hillary surrogates -- were excusing and even encouraging black violence following the death of a drug dealer in police custody. 

Quarterback Colin Kaepernick was forcing white football fans to listen to his sideline protests of white racism that grew and grew and grew as more and more fans stayed away.

At the Democrat National Convention, 15,000 delegates stood up to chant "Black Lives Matter" to honor the mothers of several black people who died breaking the law, some threatening police officers.

Let’s not forget the primaries.

Hillary, Bernie, and Mr. No Name from Maryland spent a huge chunk of time reminding voters how black people are victims of white racists.

Will anyone ever forget how a governor and major candidate for president -- Martin O’Malley -- cowered before a Black Lives Matter interviewer, apologizing for not recognizing the blatant racism of his claim that “all lives matter.”

Or Bernie Sanders in Seattle, cowering again, as Black Lives Matter leaders stormed his podium, took his microphone, and sent him to corner as they lectured him and his audience on their racism? All they forgot was the dunce cap.

Soon after, Bernie hired a Black Lives Matter leader as a spokeswoman. He also hooked up with Killer Mike to introduce him at campaign events. Killer’s major claim to fame was a song asking “when you niggas gonna unite and kill the police, motherf*ckas?”

Killer’s second claim to fame was convincing Fox reporter Brian Kilmeade the song was not really about killing cops and Killer Mike was really a “nice guy.”

Whether Hillary was arguing with Bernie and Martin about who was really most down the cause, or later during the general election, white racism and black victimization were central themes of her campaign.

Baltimore, Milwaukee, Charlotte, and Ferguson were just four of the cities hit with major black race riots -- all to the cheers of Hillary supporters and their satraps in the press who insisted the violent protests were not just justified, they were really “largely peaceful.”

And they thought white voters would ignore that? Just as they were supposed to ignore how black crime and violence against white people is wildly out of proportion -- documented in that scintillating #1 Amazon bestseller Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry?

NPR hoped they would, doing story after story about how Trump was “having trouble with white voters.”
In Dallas, after a black person killed five cops, Hillary reminded Wolf Blitzer of CNN: “The facts are clear,” she said. “Too many black Americans have been killed in encounters with police over matters that should not have led to that action being taken.”

“And frankly,” she told Wolf, the federal government should be going after the “systemic racism which is a reality and to go after implicit bias.”

Hillary promised Wolf she would “speak out against systemic racism every chance I get.” Mission accomplished.

What reporters did not go after were 300 black people in Dallas looting a 7-11 then celebrating -- dancing -- in the parking lot shortly after the murders. All on video.

Another Hillary surrogate, President Obama, picked up the Hillary mantra when he too reminded his national audience of white racism during a eulogy for the cops killed by a black person who hated white people.

Even her vice-presidential pick was a racial move -- Tim Kane’s lackluster personality was supposed to be overcome by his only claim to fame: he attended a black Catholic Church in Richmond. 

This is a long list, a smattering of which I have gathered on my YouTube channel for you masochists and amnesiacs out there. Check it out here.

In the end, Hillary’s constant demonization of white racism was not enough to fire up her black base. Black voters in big cities in swing states just stayed home. They were just not that into her.

In Hillary’s game of identity politics, she lost because black voters wanted the real thing, a black candidate. Not a pale imitation.

No amount of racial groveling could change that. Though Hillary’s shadowy Russians seemed to make a lot of people forget about it soon after the polls closed and the excuses began.

Hillary’s demonization got the full attention of a lot of white people, regardless of whether they admitted it to pollsters. In the same areas where black people shrugged her off like an old coat, white people decided they were not going to vote for a candidate who hated them.

One pollster figured it out. Appearing on the NPR affiliate in New York, a Democrat pollster said: “There’s one really fascinating thing that keeps popping up with Donald Trump. He wins counties with large African American populations. We are seeing it over and over again. And he’s not winning the black vote because there are not many black voters in Republican primaries. He’s winning whites who live near blacks and we see it over and over again.”

Sociologists have a name for it, Routine Activity Theory: white people in black neighborhoods can routinely expect to be the victims of crime and violence. 

Did Hillary think they would forget that? 

White voters answered loud and clear and fully informed: Nyet.

Colin Flaherty is the author of Don’t Make the Black Kids Angry and creator of a YouTube channel that keeps getting shut down because YouTube thinks exposing black violence is a bad thing. But we persevere here: Colin Flaherty’s Video on this story.


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Is the "Right to Choose" Absolute? - Gerald R. McDermott

by Gerald R. McDermott

If there is agreement that a life is human, the individual's right to choose is not final. 

  • If there is agreement that a life is human, the individual's right to choose is not final. The state has a responsibility to protect innocent life.
  • In other words, the decision in Roe v. Wade declares that the individual right to choose abortion is not absolute, but that there are times when the state can interfere in order to promote "its interest in the potentiality of human life."
Imagine you are driving on a foggy night and you see a dark figure ahead. It could be a fallen branch. It might even be a little deer, or, God forbid, a little child. Do you keep on driving full speed and crash through it, or put on the brakes? If you think it might be a human person, either dead or alive, what should you do?

Most of us would say that even if we are uncertain, we should stop and check. We should give the benefit of the doubt to something that might be human, and, if it is, treat it with care.

I am sure that most everyone would stop and do everything he or she could to protect anything that might be human. But a recent article for Gatestone suggests that society has no obligation to interfere with a woman who chooses to get an abortion. The article concedes that question of when life begins is complex, and suggests that after the first trimester the question becomes more difficult. But it fails to distinguish between early and late abortions. The author criticizes "anti-abortion right-to-life advocates" who say that the state should sometimes step in:
"They do not want any woman to have the right to choose abortion for herself. They want to have the state choose for her -- to deny her the right to choose between giving birth to an unwanted child and having an abortion."
According to the article, the question comes down to who should make decisions about life and death -- the pregnant woman or the "impersonal state." Of course, conservatives agree that in most cases there should be individual freedom, particularly when it comes to very personal choices about pregnancy and children. But while conservatives differ on public policy for abortions in the first trimester and in cases of incest and rape (which according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute total less than one percent), they agree with some liberals that the state should protect life in the last trimester. Perhaps a majority of liberals, however, would say the state should never intervene on abortion, even when the baby is healthy and viable in the last trimester.

Liberals and conservatives generally agree that the state must intervene to protect innocent human life when it is threatened, and so should prosecute and punish murderers who take the lives of innocent children or adults. So, the individual's right to choose to protect or end a life is not absolute. If there is agreement that a life is human, the individual's right to choose is not final. The state has a responsibility to protect innocent life.

But what about the fetus? Is it a human person? Pro-choice advocates suggest that in the first trimester it is not, at least for the woman who does not want a baby. As the author of the earlier article puts it, "[H]er unwanted fetus is not yet a 'life' -- at least for the first trimester or so -- unless she chooses to give birth to it."

There is no comment on the personhood of the fetus after those first three months, except to say that "the right of a woman to choose -- abortion or life -- remains solidly ensconced in our jurisprudence." This appears to claim that the right to choose abortion is absolute, and that this is ensured by our recent jurisprudence.

But is that true? In Gonzalez v. Carhart (2007) the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (2003). This meant that the Court believed it was constitutional for states to restrict abortions in the last three months of pregnancy. In these cases, then, the Court declared that the right to choose abortion is not absolute.

Was it irrational or unconstitutional for the Court to treat the fetus in the last trimester as a human being to be protected by law? Not at all. It had precedent in the monumental decision that is commonly, but mistakenly, assumed to grant absolute license to abortion: Roe v. Wade permits states to restrict abortions during the second trimester "in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health." After viability (which today is about the fifth month),
"the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother."
In other words, the decision, which the article calls "the law of the land," declares that the individual right to choose abortion is not absolute, but that there are times when the state can interfere in order to promote "its interest in the potentiality of human life."

This is common sense. A fetus after the fifth month can survive outside the womb, and will be recognized immediately upon birth as a human baby.

The Supreme Court justices who decided Roe v. Wade, photographed in 1972.

One Pew finding notes that 70% of Americans think a woman "should have the right to control her own reproduction." Yet a 2016 Pew survey found that only 29% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal under any circumstances, and 50% think it should be legal "only under certain circumstances." The vast majority of Americans therefore reject an absolute right to choose abortion.

Conservatives differ on whether or how abortion should be restricted in the first two trimesters, and in cases of rape and incest. Yet many liberals should be able to agree with conservatives that in the last trimester, when most of the unborn are viable, the state has a compelling interest in protecting life. Even if some are uncertain of the personhood of the fetus at this late stage, it seems reasonable and right to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Gerald R. McDermott is Anglican Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School. He is the editor of The New Christian Zionism and author of Israel Matters.


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