Saturday, July 29, 2017

Administering the Temple Mount Is a Privilege, Not a Right - Jose V. Ciprut

by Jose V. Ciprut

-- the privilege to administer the site, granted by Israel in the wake of its 1967 victory to the Waqf via Jordan, must not be misconstrued as a “right of ownership.”

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 543, July 28, 2017
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The latest complications over the “status quo” on the Temple Mount necessitate a long overdue clarification: the privilege to administer the site, granted by Israel in the wake of its 1967 victory to the Waqf via Jordan, must not be misconstrued as a “right of ownership.” The administrative management of this place of worship, holy for Judaism and Islam, should provide hospitality, dignity, and security to all law-abiding visitors and sincere worshippers respectful of the place, without religious, racial, or political discrimination.

In the sphere of mergers and acquisitions, a poison pill is a stratagem devised to dissuade a takeover by inserting a nuisance factor so consequential as to deter the suitor from acquiring the target.

The West Bank and Gaza Strip were poison pills accruing to Israel from a war it did not start but managed to win. Their lingering nuisance factor continues to impede the establishment of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, despite repeated efforts to reach an acceptable agreement, over the last fifty years.

At the end of a short and brutal war, King Hussein regained not the “right” but the privilege once again to oversee Jerusalem’s Muslim religious sites. The compound was built by the Umayyad over the rubble of the twice-destroyed holiest-of-holy Jewish sanctuaries, on a historic site that has been referred to as the Temple Mount since the Kingdom of David, around 1000 BCE.

This ambiguity was left to fester on its own for 50 years out of a self-deluding if patient concession in the name of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, it has served only to embolden the sense of ownership of those “administering” it. Whether they admit it or not, they were entrusted with that privilege solely because of the magnanimity in victory of the democratic Jewish State of Israel.

This steadily growing sense of ownership has served as a tool with which the Palestinian Authority (PA) can follow the Arab street’s mood rather than direct it in ways that can promote peace.

The nuisance factor has been also exploited by outsiders vying for greater authority in the affairs of Muslims around the world. Turkey provides a good example. Having gained popularity among many Arabs and Muslims from the “one minute, please” incident in Davos, President Erdoğan allowed rampant anti-Semitism to become intimidating, indeed threatening,  to Turkey’s long- and well-integrated Jewish citizenry, as if they were still refugees from Spain.

Emboldened by the state’s laxity in prohibiting intimidation of that minority, Turkish Islamists’ misperceptions of events on the Temple Mount helped to fuel public animosity against Turkish Jews. For their part, Islamist organizations in Turkey have begun subsidizing “touristic pilgrimages” to the Temple Mount for young radicals fluent in Turkish and trained in Arabic prayer, with a mission to create mischief at the site.

President Erdoğan’s reluctance to condemn the murders of Israeli police officers shot in the back by Palestinian “martyrs” who had smuggled their arms into the Mosque, and his insistence (shortly after a “very good” phone conversation with President Rivlin) that “the Muslim world cannot remain aloof in the face of the Temple Mount events,” raise a question mark on the tenor – and future – of the recent Turkish-Israeli rapprochement.

Along the same lines, Mahmoud Abbas’s decision to freeze relations with Israel in response to these events, rather than arrange for trilateral consultations with Israel and the Waqf for improved security, does not exactly enhance the “Palestinian cause.”

Following conciliatory gestures on the part of the sovereign power responsible for the security of the compound and its environs, it is urgent at this juncture for all stakeholders – Israel, Jordan, the Waqf, and the PA, in that order – to establish a legitimate and durable “status quo” by differentiating, in both the legal and moral senses, between privilege and right, between autonomy and sovereignty, and between freedom and license.

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Jose V. Ciprut is a social systems scientist and international political economist.


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The Deep State War On Trump's Foreign Policy Agenda - Joseph Klein

by Joseph Klein

President's policies on Israel, Iran, Qatar and climate change under attack by a rogue State Department.

The State Department’s own “deep state” is trying to sabotage President Trump’s foreign policy agenda. From the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to Iran, Qatar and climate change, the State Department, under Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, is reported to be in "open war" with the White House. Key high level positions remain vacant as Obama holdovers “continue running the show and formulating policy, where they have increasingly clashed with the White House's own agenda,” according to the Free Beacon. Secretary Tillerson has reportedly run interference to protect the Obama holdovers from being removed, allowing resistance to President Trump’s foreign policy agenda to flourish within the State Department.

The first casualty of this internal coup by the State Department’s deep state is Israel. The shadow of the Obama administration’s anti-Israel bias was reflected in a report the State Department released on July 17, 2017 entitled Country Reports on Terrorism 2016. It praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for reiterating “his commitment to nonviolence, recognition of the State of Israel, and pursuit of an independent Palestinian state through peaceful means.” The report referred to what it called “significant steps during President Abbas’ tenure (2005 to date) to ensure that official institutions in the West Bank under its control do not create or disseminate content that incites violence." 

The State Department report brushed aside clear evidence of a continuing barrage of incendiary rhetoric appearing on official Palestinian Authority and Fatah social media outlets and of inflammatory statements by Palestinian officials, including Abbas himself. Instead, it claimed that the Palestinian Authority “has made progress in reducing official rhetoric that could be considered incitement to violence.” 

The State Department report conveniently skipped over the fact that Abbas remains committed to paying regular salaries to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned for killing Jews and to terrorists’ families. Their perfidiously named "Martyrs Fund" has a treasure chest of about $300 million dollars. That blood money comes in part from foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority, some of which is contributed by American taxpayers. President Trump has spoken out against the 'pay to slay Jews' terrorist payments, but the State Department has turned a blind eye. Obama holdover Stuart Jones, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, is reported to have steered Secretary Tillerson into making the erroneous claim that the Palestinian Authority had ceased spending U.S. taxpayer funds to pay terrorists, according to the Free Beacon’s sources. 

After reciting the litany of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis, the State Department report held Israel largely responsible:
“Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive.”
Just a few hours after three members of an Israeli family were massacred by a Palestinian terrorist, a State Department official tried to defend the report’s conclusions on the drivers of Palestinian violence. The official sounded like a clinical psychologist or a social worker, declaring that there is “no one single pathway to violence—each individual's path to terrorism is personalized, with certain commonalities.” This is the same type of irresponsible rhetoric used by the Obama administration in discussing the supposed root causes of what it called “violent extremism.”

The State Department has also carried over the Obama administration’s soft pedaling on Iran. Instead of presenting options to President Trump supporting a refusal to re-certify that Iran has complied with all of its obligations under the disastrous Obama nuclear deal with Iran, the State Department took Iran’s side. It recommended twice that President Trump sign certifications of Iran’s compliance. Deprived by the State Department of any analysis to the contrary, as he had requested, the president reluctantly signed the certifications in April and July. However, he has reportedly decided to sidestep the State Department going forward and rely instead on a White House team to prepare the way for refusing to sign the certification the next time it is presented to him. CIA Director Mike Pompeo, senior strategist Steve Bannon, and deputy assistant to the president Sebastian Gorka opposed the State Department’s recommendation.

“The president assigned White House staffers with the task of preparing for the possibility of decertification for the 90-day review period that ends in October — a task he had previously given to Secretary Tillerson and the State Department,” a source close to the White House told Foreign Policy

Foreign Policy quoted one senior State Department, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying, “The White House, they see the State Department as ‘the swamp.’”

The State Department is a swamp infested with Obama holdovers such as Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, the former Iran director for Obama’s National Security Council, who helped push through the Iran deal. When she moved over to the State Department during the waning months of the Obama administration, she was assigned to oversee the Persian Gulf region policy planning portfolio, which included issues related to Iran. She continued in that high-level advisory position until April of this year, when she was re-assigned to the Office of Iranian Affairs. In other words, a strong supporter of the Iranian nuclear deal with a vested interest in its continuation was on Secretary of State Tillerson’s policy planning team. Secretary Tillerson no doubt relied on this tainted team for input into his decision to recommend the first certification signing last April. Ms. Nowrouzzadeh is still working on Iranian-related issues for the State Department where she can do some damage. However, at least she is no longer part of the Secretary of State’s brain trust. 

The State Department has also sought to undercut President Trump’s sharp criticism of Qatar, a major state sponsor of Islamic terrorism. The president had tweeted that Qatar funds radical Islamists, which is demonstrably true. Nevertheless, the State Department contradicted President Trump’s observation.

“We recognize that Qatar has made some great efforts to stop financing of terror groups,” said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert at the June 6, 2017 briefing. “Our relationship with Qatar is strong.”

Dana Shell Smith, ambassador to Qatar until she left in late June, who believes that Qatar is a “great country,” was another Obama holdover. She was still the ambassador when the row over Qatar erupted. The day before Heather Nauert’s news briefing extolling Qatar’s supposed “great efforts to stop financing of terror groups,” the U.S. embassy in Qatar, still led by Dan Shell Smith, retweeted the following, which was originally tweeted during the Obama administration: “U.S. supports #Qatar’s efforts in combating terrorism financing & appreciates its role in coalition against ISIL.”

These sentiments are in direct contradiction to the views expressed by President Trump. Indeed, Smith had little use for President Trump and was not shy about saying so. Stationed in an autocratic country ruled by sharia law, she tweeted in May while still ambassador: “Increasingly difficult to wake up overseas to news from home, knowing I will spend today explaining our democracy and institutions.” Did this Trump-hater ever once think that the very idea of democracy, religious tolerance and equal rights for women are alien concepts to begin with in a country like Qatar that she called “great”?

After Smith’s departure, the State Department continued its praise of Qatar for supposedly being a partner in the fight against terrorism. In the same Country Reports on Terrorism 2016, which praised Abbas and blamed Israel for creating the conditions that fostered Palestinian terrorism, the State Department lauded Qatar for collaborating “to foster closer regional and international cooperation on counterterrorism, law enforcement, and rule of law activities.”  

Finally, there is the issue of climate change. President Trump decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change because it disadvantaged America economically. However, the Paris Agreement was the pride and joy of Secretary of State John Kerry’s State Department. Obama holdovers have remained at the State Department, in a position to do mischief to President Trump’s plans to extricate the United States from the bad climate change deal.

Within the bowels of the State Department, for example, is the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change, which, according to its website, is responsible for developing, implementing, and overseeing U.S. international policy on climate change. Its website still boasts how it led the way "in the negotiations in Paris at the 21st Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21)." The website goes on to praise the Paris Agreement as the "most ambitious climate accord ever negotiated."  This website remains operational even though President Trump has reportedly decided not to name a special envoy for climate change. The United States deputy special envoy for climate change, Trigg Talley, who served as head of the U.S. delegation for negotiations under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, remains in office, however. The opportunity for the State Department to conduct a deep state war against the president’s climate change policies is a real threat unless the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change is completely shut down. 

There are other potential pockets of resistance to President Trump’s climate change policies inside the State Department, such as the Office of Global Change. It too should be shut down or sharply curtailed. 

President Trump, not State Department bureaucrats, was elected by the American people. He should have the final say on policy matters within his scope of executive authority, which includes the setting of foreign policy priorities. Deep state saboteurs within the State Department and other government agencies need to be rooted out at once and removed from positions of influence where they can do harm to the president’s agenda. 

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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Palestinians: The Metal Detector Scam - Khadija Khan

by Khadija Khan

It is time for the international community to stop enabling radicals to use the Palestinian people as pawns in their greater agenda, including all Muslims: to obliterate Israel through delegitimization.

  • Metal detectors and are commonplace at most prominent mosques in the Middle East, and more than 5,000 surveillance cameras (and 100,000 security guards) monitor pilgrims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia during the annual Hajj.
  • While the Palestinian terrorist was being treated for his wounds in an Israeli hospital, the Palestinian Authority celebrated his actions and set in motion the mechanism according to which he will receive a salary of more than $3,000 per month for his attempt to become a "martyr" through murdering Jews.
  • It is time for the international community to stop enabling radicals to use the Palestinian people as pawns in their greater agenda, transparent to everyone, including all Muslims: to obliterate Israel through delegitimization.
After massive pressure from the Muslim world and international community, Israel removed all metal detectors and surveillance-camera infrastructure from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, the location of Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Possibly to obfuscate the reason that the metal detectors were installed in the first place -- a terrorist attack on July 14, in which three Israeli Arab citizens killed two Israeli Druze police officers with weapons they had hidden inside the mosque -- the Palestinian Authority (PA) called on Muslims to boycott the site and launch "days of rage" against the Jewish state.

Palestinians, claiming that the metal detectors were a "desecration" of the mosque -- which is actually located on the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest in Islam - entered into violent clashes with Israeli security forces. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced Israel and called on Muslims to "protect" Jerusalem.

Palestinians near Jerusalem's Old City protest Israel's installation of metal detectors at entrances to the Temple Mount, although the metal detectors had already been removed days before, on July 28, 2017. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images)

A Palestinian teenager posted on Facebook his intention to become a "martyr," before entering the home of a Jewish family in the West Bank and slaughtering three of its members. While this terrorist was being treated for his wounds in an Israeli hospital, the Palestinian Authority celebrated his actions and set in motion the mechanism according to which he will receive a salary of more than $3,000 per month for his attempt to become a "martyr" through murdering Jews.

Then, on July 23, a terrorist in Jordan -- the country that has religious custodianship over the Temple Mount through the Islamic Waqf -- attacked an Israeli security officer at the Israeli embassy compound in Amman. In self-defense, the officer shot and killed him, catching another Jordanian in the crossfire. In an deal between Israel and the Jordanian authorities, the guard and other embassy staff were released, apparently in exchange for a promise that the metal detectors would be removed from the entrance to the Temple Mount.

The metal detectors, however, had nothing to do with the real reason for the inflamed atmosphere -- stoked by PA President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction and the terrorist organization Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip -- in spite of the fact that the attack that spurred their installation was committed by Israeli Muslims against Israeli Druze. In reality, the security measures were taken by Israel to protect all people entering the site -- where only Muslims are allowed to pray, while Christians and Jews may visit only under strict surveillance.

Proof that the violence was not provoked by measures that were actually aimed at preventing terrorists from infiltrating deadly weapons onto the Temple Mount lies in the fact that metal detectors and are commonplace at most prominent mosques in the Middle East, and more than 5,000 surveillance cameras (and 100,000 security guards) monitor pilgrims to Mecca in Saudi Arabia during the annual Hajj. Furthermore, everyone visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem, another Jewish holy site, is required to pass through metal detectors before entering the plaza -- a protection taken for granted.

The ongoing incitement against Israelis -- this time using metal detectors as the excuse to claim that the Jewish state is attempting to change the "status quo" on the Temple Mount -- not only disgraces Islam; it hurts the Palestinians whom the world claims to want to defend.

It is time for the international community to recognize this and stop enabling radicals to use the Palestinian people as pawns in their greater agenda, transparent to everyone, including all Muslims: to obliterate Israel through delegitimization.

Khadija Khan is a Pakistani journalist and commentator, currently based in Germany.


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US Jews are helping the families of terrorists - Ronn Torossian

by Ronn Torossian

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-Charles Bensoussan

The New Israel Fund should change its name to the Pro-terrorist Fund so potential donors know where their money is going.

This week, a New Israel Fund supported organization Hamoked filed in Military court to stop the destruction of four homes of Palestinian terrorists located in “Ramallah District: three in Deir Abu Mash’al and one in Silwad.”

Hamoked is fighting for the families of terrorists – who killed Sgt. Elhai Taharlev, 20, in an car-ramming attack on April 6, 2017, and Hadas Malka, 23, a Border Police officer stabbed to death in a terror attack in Jerusalem’s Old City on June 17, 2017. Sickening – and it comes on the heels of another New Israel Fund organization calling for Israel’s border police to be investigated for shooting a terrorist who killed two policemen

Hamoked has received more than $720,000 from New Israel Fund donors like the Leichtag Foundation, while claiming to work “for the enforcement of standards and values of international human rights and humanitarian law.” Hamoked – while using American Jewish donor money – defends the families of terrorists.

Across the Israeli political spectrum there is support for home demolition – as Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, whose job includes approving demolitions, has stated that there is evidence of demolitions being effective at deterring violent attacks. Hamoked also proudly undermines Israel’s political system by costing the state funds with these legal cases where they argue to protect the homes of terrorists and their families.

As NGO monitor has noted, Hamoked regularly petitions the High Court of Justice and makes inaccurate and inflammatory allegations of Israeli “apartheid,” “deportations,” “torture,” and “forcible transfers.” They “submitted a written statement to the Goldstone Commission, together with other Israeli NGOs, that failed to address any war crimes perpetrated by Hamas, “but rather offers our own distinct perspective – human rights violations for which Israel must be held accountable.”

The reality is that as Israel’s State Prosecutor concluded Hamoked’s “self-presentation as ‘a human rights organization’ has no basis in reality and is designed to mislead.” The New Israel Fund is simply an Anti-Israel organization.

Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, 1 of the 25 largest PR Agencies in the US.


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Obama Looted Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac - Brian McNicoll

by Brian McNicoll

What happened here is not hard to discern. The Obama administration had a convenient boogey man in the GSEs and a need for cash because of a recalcitrant Congress. It did not take into account the legal rights of the investors.

President Obama never was shy about using his phone and pen to achieve what he could not get from Congress on regulatory matters. 

But documents revealed last week show the Obama administration may have been willing to get around congressional decisions on spending by using a slush fund of sorts funded by the profits of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the two government-sponsored home loan giants.
Fannie and Freddie are federally chartered enterprises which buy mortgage loans from banks and bundle them into securities that are sold to investors, thus freeing up capital so that banks can make more home loans.

They are government-sponsored enterprises, which means the government guarantees their loans. But they are run as private enterprises, with private leadership, a board of directors and, most significantly for this purpose, investors. They’re even listed on the stock market.

In response to the mortgage crisis of 2008, Congress passed the Housing and Economic Recovery Act, which provided $187.5 billion in government loans for Fannie and Freddie and placed them in conservatorship under the newly established Federal Housing Finance Agency.

But Fannie and Freddie were not in such bad shape after all, and in just a few years, they were turning profits and on course to pay back the government with interest and still have money to pay dividends to their investors.

In 2012, the Obama administration came up with a plan to divert those profits to the Treasury that became known as the Net Worth Sweep. Officials said the profits had to be diverted back into the Treasury because Fannie and Freddie were in a “death spiral” and would have to return for loans, and this money would be used for those loans. In other words, Treasury would take all the profits from Fannie and Freddie and hold them for future loans when they again found themselves in trouble.

But -- the administration knew Fannie and Freddie were healthy for the long term, were unlikely to need any more loans and, in fact, had enough money to pay dividends. The dividends were a problem for the administration because it made it hard to explain why it needed to abscond with Fannie and Freddie’s $241 billion in profits, execute an improper taking against the shareholders, and spend the money without congressional approval. Some even pushed to change accounting methods to make Fannie and Freddie look worse on paper and/or force them to “need” loans to survive.

In 2013, Fairholme Funds, one of those investors, filed suit, charging that, in sweeping the money back into the Treasury rather than pay dividends as required by law, the government exceeded its authority and ignored the law’s requirements that it conserve the assets of the enterprises. The government’s response indicates Fairholme’s accusations are probably dead on.

One of the documents released last week said the proposal to sweep the funds into Treasury would have “three primary benefits:”

It would “eliminate the circularity of Treasury funding the GSE’s dividends payments to Treasury.” It would “…capture all future earnings at the GSEs to help pay back taxpayers for their investment in those firms,” and it would “reduce future draws… so such draws would only be made when needed to fund quarterly net losses.”

The administration could have “eliminated the circularity” by following the law and paying the dividends. There is no legal basis for unilaterally deciding to “capture all future positive earnings at the GSEs” -- in fact, the law specifies otherwise. And the government’s own economists acknowledged future quarterly losses were highly unlikely.

Another document suggested announcing the change on Friday after markets had closed. “Rationale: GSE’s will report very strong earnings on August 7, that will be in-excess of the 10% dividend to paid to Treasury.” In other words, wait till late on an August Friday night -- a media dead zone almost the equivalent of Christmas – to say that, even though the GSEs reported “very strong earnings” earlier in the week, it needed these prudent protections.

The documents released last week were made public only after years of government protest. The government has tried to keep 77,000 related documents from being released publicly and 11,000 from being shared even with attorneys for Fairholme.

The government’s out in this always was to claim that “since we intend to wind down the GSEs over time, the GSEs do not need to retain income in excess of amounts required to pay the 10 percent dividend,” which by making the government the largest investor with preferred stock, meant the money went to the Treasury and not the initial investors, such as Fairholme.

But the administration never offered a plan to wind down the GSEs, and the proposal would make little sense at this point.

What happened here is not hard to discern. The Obama administration had a convenient boogey man in the GSEs and a need for cash because of a recalcitrant Congress. It did not take into account the legal rights of the investors. The courts are slowly coming to this conclusion.

In the meantime, we’re left with another abuse of the public trust by double-dealing government insiders. If that’s not an argument for limited government, what is? 

Brian McNicoll


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Erdoğan Exploits the Temple Mount Crisis to Foment Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism - Dr. Efrat Aviv

by Dr. Efrat Aviv

Turkish anti-Zionism, which aligns directly with anti-Semitism, is being expressed once again through the current friction.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 544, July 29, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Turkey continues to insert itself more and more into the ongoing clashes on the Temple Mount, almost as if it legally represents the Palestinians in the dispute. Turkey’s anti-Israel agitation, which garners wide support among Palestinians in both Gaza and the PA, is hardly new. But its patronage of the Palestinians hides more than religious sentiment. Turkish anti-Zionism, which aligns directly with anti-Semitism, is being expressed once again through the current friction. 

In May 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan spoke at the opening ceremony of a two-day conference in Istanbul called “The International Forum on al-Quds Waqf.” He condemned “Israeli crimes against the Palestinians” and called on Muslims to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount as frequently as possible. “As a Muslim community, we need to visit the al-Aqsa Mosque often,” he said. “Each day that Jerusalem is under occupation is an insult to us.”

On July 20, 2017, responding to increased security measures on the Temple Mount following the murders of two Israeli policemen there at the holy site, he said: “Any restriction on Muslims entering the al-Aqsa Mosque is unacceptable…The protection of the Islamic character and sanctity of al-Quds [Jerusalem] and al-Haram al-Sharif [the al-Aqsa Mosque complex] is important for the whole Muslim world…The Muslim world cannot remain silent.”

In his capacity as term chairman of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Erdoğan condemned Israel’s supposed prevention of Muslims’ performing Friday prayers at the al-Aqsa Mosque. While extending condolences to those killed during the violent clashes in Jerusalem, he assailed the use of “excessive force” by Israeli security forces against those who had gathered for Friday prayers.

“The OIC was founded in 1969 during an attack on al-Haram al-Sharif, and today the Islamic world stands with our Palestinian brothers with the same spirit of unity and solidarity,” Erdoğan claimed. He said efforts to remove “restrictions on access to the al-Aqsa Mosque” would continue in coordination with the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and Jordanian King Abdullah II, whom he phoned on July 24 to discuss the matter. At a press conference, the president’s spokesman İbrahim Kalın asserted, “al-Aqsa Mosque is not alone. It’s not for Israel. It belongs to the Palestinians and to all Muslims.”

Significantly, Erdoğan referred to the three Palestinians killed in clashes with the police over the Temple Mount security measures as “Şehitler,” or “shahids” (“martyrs”) – though ever since the establishment of modern Turkey, that term has been reserved for Turkish soldiers and policemen who fall in the line of duty. It thus carries a nationalistic-secular connotation. Furthermore, with regard to al-Aqsa, Erdoğan often uses the term “Muslims” instead of “Palestinians.” And at the AKP meeting on July 25, Erdoğan declared that Israel’s legal capital is Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem, which is sacred to three religions.

All these assertions, together with Erdoğan’s earlier call for Muslims to “take responsibility” for Jerusalem, endanger Israel’s legitimacy on the Temple Mount.

Erdoğan’s call to world Muslims to flock to Jerusalem, and his warning that “the Muslim world cannot remain silent”, were accompanied by vociferous protests at two Istanbul synagogues, Neve Şalom and Ahrida. (Though the protests almost took on the proportions of sieges, no damage was caused at either location.) On July 20, one of the protesters at Neve Şalom said, “If you obstruct our freedom of worship there [Jerusalem], we will obstruct your freedom of worship here.” Attacks on synagogues by Turkish Islamist-ultranationalists are unfortunately not a new phenomenon in Turkey, and include terror attacks at Neve Şalom in 1986 and 2003.

Moreover, during Israel’s military confrontations with the Palestinians since the rise of AKP, placards have been raised against Jews rather than against Israel. The Islamist newspaper Yeni Akit, which responded angrily to Ashkenazi synagogue officials in Istanbul who justified IDF operations in Gaza in 2014, called for an organized rally against synagogues. Following this call, social media networks announced an “egg protest.” On July 22, 2014, a group gathered in front of Ortaköy Synagogue carrying anti-Israel posters and threw eggs at the building.

The Turkish government occasionally condemns these incidents but does nothing to prevent them. Nor, ominously, does it distinguish between Israel and the Turkish Jewish community. Quite the reverse, in fact: in Turkish society, Jews and Israelis are essentially synonymous, as are anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

This way of thinking is substantially Erdoğan’s doing. In a 2012 poll, 46% of Turks surveyed claimed that Erdoğan’s anti-Israel statements had bolstered their own anti-Semitism. The president’s half-hearted denunciation of synagogue attacks and seldom-expressed concern for Turkish Jews are mere lip service to an insincere attempt to draw a line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. When Israel is condemned as a terrorist state, Turkish Jews and Jews in general are labeled as Turkish targets.

Yet religion is not the Turkish government’s only calculation in its agitation against Israel. Ankara has a great interest in creating pro-Turkish sentiment among Palestinians. Its objective is to oust Jordan from its position as patron of the Temple Mount and gain support on the Palestinian street at Jordan’s expense. This would be in order to spread Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas ideology and strengthen Turkey’s regional hegemony.

This objective is manifested by the organization of cultural and religious events, as well as the establishment and/or sponsoring of charity organizations, women’s organizations, youth movements, and so on. These activities are orchestrated by the Turkish consulate in east Jerusalem and by Turkish organizations like TIKA (Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency), which started operating in east Jerusalem in 2005.

In this context, every security or military incident in which Israel is involved serves as another brick in the Turkish political and religious wall against the Jewish state. As threatening as Erdoğan’s words are to the legitimacy of Israeli rule in Jerusalem, his vile anti-Israel/Jewish rhetoric further inflames Arabs and Muslims and strengthens anti-Semitism inside Turkey. For Erdoğan, so it seems, Israel is but a useful tool for promoting his ambitious neo-Ottoman vision.

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BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Dr. Efrat Aviv is a lecturer in the Dept. of Middle Eastern Studies at Bar-Ilan University and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. She is the author of Antisemitism and Anti-Zionism in Turkey: From Ottoman Rule to AKP (Routledge 2017).


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Cracks developing in Awan Dam - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

-- based on what we already know, this is one heckuva story

The mainstream media are doing their best to ignore a bizarre, serious, and colorful story, but it's not going to work. The Awan family Pakistani I.T. consultant ring extracted 4 million dollars from Democrats in the House; its point man, Imran Awan, was arrested on bank fraud charges at Dulles Airport attempting to flee back to his homeland; and allegedly (Awan's lawyer disputes this), there was a pile of smashed hard drives and other equipment found at a house he owned and leased out to a Marine.

Peculiarly, Awan's primary employer, former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, kept him on her staff until just before he attempted to flee, even though he had been banned from the House network owing to corruption investigations and was unable to perform the work for which he is being paid from taxpayers funds.

Bizarrely, DWS was videotaped at a hearing openly demanding that evidence on the Capitol Police investigation be returned to her and threatening consequences for the Capitol Police, a creature controlled by Congress. I leave it to the lawyers to argue if this constitutes obstruction of justice, but it certainly looks as though she has something to hide on that hard drive.

The loss of the media monopoly of three broadcast networks and one daily newspaper per city means media dams [dems?] cannot hold in the face of compelling content. And based on what we already know, this is one heckuva story. Fox News already is all over it, and social media will spread it everywhere. 

Investor's Business Daily pays out a must-read summary that includes lots of nuggets like this:
It turned out that the other four being investigated were relatives of Awan – two brothers, his wife, and a sister-in-law. Then we learned that Awan's bothers owed money to a Hezbollah-connected fugitive, and a friend of Awan's had been working at McDonald's before getting hired as an IT professional by Congressional Democrats.
What's more, they were pulling down unusually large salaries of around $160,000, according to the Daily Caller, which is the only news outlet that has been actively pursuing this story. Together, Awan and his family raked in $4 million between 2009 and 2016, the DC reported, for what at times appeared to be "no show" jobs.
Then, a month after the investigation was made public, Awan's wife took her children out of school and fled the country for Qatar. Earlier in the year, Awan wire transferred $283,000 to two people in Pakistan. More recently, the FBI found smashed hard drives and other equipment at Awan's home.
How these people were able to get high-paying, highly sensitive jobs with dozens of House Democrats over the years is a mystery.
Occam's Razor suggests that DWS and the Dems were being blackmailed. For what? And what secrets, if any, were compromised by the members of the House Intelligence Committee who employed the Awan ring?

Wasserman Schultz has a combative personality and doesn't photograph well.

In the reality TV series that lies ahead, with congressional investigations and justice agencies involved, she may not be the most sympathetic figure to the public.

The left has whipped up an atmosphere that wants a lynching. They forgot that what comes around goes around.

Thomas Lifson


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Fighting the lies on Al-Aqsa - Nadav Shragai

by Nadav Shragai

Up until 50 years ago, religious and historic Muslim literature was rife with accounts attesting to the clear bond between the Jews, the Temple Mount and Jerusalem; a bond they deny outright today.

The broader it becomes, the Al-Aqsa coalition reveal itself as a partnership of blood and lies, whose members are constantly trying to one-up the others in incitement and extremism. One warns that Al-Aqsa is "under attack," the second says it is being "plundered," the third will decry its "desecration," and others will speak of Al-Aqsa being "defiled" or "made filthy" by the Jews. 

Belonging in this "coalition" means having a stamp of legitimacy and trustworthiness in the eyes of the Arab public and beyond. Some of those engaging in the "Al-Aqsa is in danger" libel indeed believe their own lies. Some have lost the ability to distinguish between fantasy and reality, while others knowingly lie. The common denominator is the political-religious-leadership benefits they all derive.

One member of this coalition is the Islamic Movement in Israel, which is now recycling an ancient fabrication -- this time in the form of corrosive chemical materials, supposedly injected by Israel, into the walls of Al-Aqsa mosque. 

A spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Tayeb Abdel Rahim, is declaring on behalf of his boss that Israeli actions on the Temple Mount are "a step on the path to resurrecting the fictitious temple." Fatah, the political faction to which Abbas belongs, is vowing that Palestinians will sacrifice their lives to prevent security cameras from being installed on the Temple Mount. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is again calling on all Muslims to go to Jerusalem and protect it from the filthy Jews contaminating Al-Aqsa. Hamas has called for "days of rage" to "ignite the flames," and Jordan, too, is telling its people about the "settlers who defiled Al-Aqsa." Qatari newspapers feature cartoons of satanic figures and fire-breathing dragons with Jewish Stars of David on them, threatening to swallow and annihilate Al-Aqsa. Even Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been incapable of eschewing this "communal bonfire." And we haven't even mentioned Iran, Hezbollah, Syria or Indonesia yet. They are all taking part, some more prominently than others.

Examples of severe incitement, which has transformed Al-Aqsa from a religious site to a tool of generating terror, are too numerous to count. They are present in the religious, media and political experience. The "viral" nature of this mass incitement is evident in the hundreds and thousands of online videos and cartoons; created, penned and funded by hate-filled, brainwashed minds.

The problem is that we are in a constant state of defensiveness, retreat and apology. No one ever mentions the enormous, profound and unimaginable concession Israel made back in 1967 regarding the Temple Mount. No one brings up the fact that Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people, took the Temple Mount, the holiest place for the Jewish nation, and placed it in the hands of a competing religion, Islam, for which the Temple Mount is only the third-holiest site -- essentially infringing on the rights of Jews there. This unacceptable state of affairs is now being taken for granted for some reason, even though it really shouldn't be. In terms of religious relations across the globe, this concession is unprecedented in scope, but Israel downplays it, hides it, as if it never happened.

Israel is neglecting the obvious: It is not telling the world the most basic and elementary truth -- that the Temple Mount is first and foremost a holy place for the Jews. The mendacious discourse running rampant today -- with which Israel is unwittingly cooperating -- constantly and solely revolves around how holy the site is for Muslims. Only one issue is being addressed: To what degree does Israel respect and take this holiness into consideration? Is Israel maintaining the status quo? Completely absent from the discourse is the holiness of the place for the Jews. Also completely missing from the discourse is how the Muslims have maliciously altered the status quo to the Jews' detriment.

There are countless historical, biblical and archaeological resources that prove the Jews' link to Jerusalem and to the Temple Mount. There are additional texts that are not being utilized: Up until 50 years ago, religious and historic Muslim literature was rife with accounts attesting to the clear bond between the Jews, the Temple Mount and Jerusalem; a bond they deny outright today. All that's needed to counter this lie is a Facebook page displaying several dozen of these excerpts in Arabic (translated into English), but even this bare minimum is not being done.

This is nothing less than spiritual weakness; a type of paralysis and panic gripping us in the face of violence, terror, incitement and lies. The time has come to rid ourselves of this malady and wage a public relations intifada. It is time to unleash an offensive campaign of facts to counter the bloodshed and murder; to oppose the litany of falsehoods directed against us by the Al-Aqsa coalition.

Nadav Shragai


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Immigration Law Enforcement and Human Trafficking - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

What exactly is pro-immigrant and compassionate about Sanctuary Cities?

On July 23, 2017 police officers in San Antonio, Texas made the gruesome discovery of the bodies of eight illegal aliens who had succumbed to the extreme heat in a tractor-trailer in which they were being transported, along with dozens of others who were rushed to the hospital where two more died.

My 30 year career with the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) included an assignment to the Anti-Smuggling Unit (ASU) at the New York City District Office of the INS where I found that the alien smugglers / human traffickers we investigated and arrested were among the most pernicious and violent criminals I encountered during my career.

The U.S./Mexican border is notoriously dangerous.  Several years ago, during the Obama administration, I was interviewed for a documentary that is well worth watching, The Border States of America: Every State Is Now A Border State.

Most of the filming was done along the U.S./Mexican border and includes interviews with ranchers and law enforcement officers who live and work along that border, providing insight and a perspective on the scope and violence of human trafficking that is seldom, if ever, reported upon by the mainstream media.

On July 24, 2017 ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement posted a news release, Federal alien-smuggling charge filed in San Antonio against driver of tractor-trailer when 10 died after smuggling trip that reported on this story and the fact that the driver of the vehicle, James Matthew Bradley Jr., is being charged in a federal complaint filed on July 24 alleging that he had unlawfully transported illegal aliens resulting in the death of 10 of those aliens.  The press release noted that if convicted, Bradley would face a maximum punishment of life imprisonment or death, and a $250,000 fine.

To deter alien smuggling and related crimes, laws passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by past presidents certainly provide for some of the toughest penalties possible, yet today securing our borders against illegal entry, to combat alien smuggling and human trafficking, has for some, become extremely controversial.

This is only one of many of the incomprehensible inconsistencies where immigration is concerned, whether we consider how the media covers immigration or how some politicians, on all levels of government, view immigration law enforcement.

Transporting illegal aliens is an element of the smuggling statute: Title 8, United States Code §1324 because once across the border, these un-inspected illegal aliens need to travel from the borders to the interior of the United States, a need often fulfilled by the smugglers who facilitated their entry, once they are paid their exorbitant fees that virtually amount to ransom.

This can simply involve driving illegal aliens to airports and bus terminals or can involve transporting them in all sorts of motor vehicles including mobile homes and tractor-trailers.

The ICE press release also reported that the trailer had been packed with more than 100 illegal aliens who had been smuggled into the United States, held in a “stash house” and were being transported in the un-refrigerated trailer.  The aliens had no water and took turns breathing through a couple of holes in the side of the trailer.

Every day aliens from countries around the world are smuggled into the United States entering the United States without inspection, thereby evading the inspections process conducted at America’s 325 ports of entry located along America’s land borders, seaports and international airports that are operated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that is supposed to prevent the entry of criminals and terrorists and aliens who have been previously deported.

The categories of aliens to be excluded from the United States are enumerated in Title 8, United States Code § 1182.

Their entry and presence in the United States is unknown to our government.

There is no way of knowing who these aliens are or when, why or how they entered the United States in the first place.  This poses a severe threat to national security and public safety.

Desperate people will resort to desperate tactics such as evidenced by those aliens who voluntarily climbed into the back of a sweltering crowded trailer.

The aliens who hire alien smugglers are desperate.  Many are simply seeking illegal employment while others may be fugitives from justice seeking to evade law enforcement in other countries.

Aliens who have been previously deported from the United States and had committed serious crimes know that they cannot legally return to the United States may also seek the “services” of smugglers.

Some aliens may be terrorists or criminals seeking to set up shop in the United States.  Consider the emergence of violent transnational gangs such as MS-13 that have spread throughout the United States posing a threat to children in schools where they frequently attempt to recruit new members.

Often alien smugglers also smuggle narcotics and other contraband.  Indeed, today smuggling operations, along many parts of the border are controlled by members of the Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO’s) and ruthless gangs.  Consequently it is not unusual for the smugglers to require the aliens they smuggle to carry narcotics on their bodies as a part of their payment for the “services” provided by the smugglers.  Such aliens are referred to as “mules” because they are literally treated as “beasts of burden.”

It is not uncommon for aliens to be beaten and robbed of their possessions  and for the female aliens to also be raped by the smugglers.  In fact, often women who plan to enter the United States with the assistance of smugglers begin taking birth control pills months before they head for the U.S. / Mexican border in anticipation of the likelihood that they may be raped by the smugglers.

When aliens become ill along the way they are often left behind in the desert.  Many die if they are not discovered and rescued by civilians along the border or by law enforcement officers including Border Patrol Search, Trauma, and Rescue (BORSTAR) Units that patrol the border.

However, it takes a tragedy that, such as this most recent one, to attract the attention of the news media that often ignores the true magnitude of the immigration crisis.

However,  not only does the media decide whether or not to report on these crimes, but often uses language that advances an open-borders agenda that profoundly impacts how Americans have come to think about immigration.

The term “Alien” has been expunged from the discussion, thereby obfuscating the truth and making the honest and accurate understanding of the issues impossible.

For the most part, reporters label anyone who insists on securing America’s borders against illegal (un-inspected) entry as being “Anti-Immigrant” while those who oppose this threat to national security and public safety are lauded as being “Pro-Immigrant” twisting the truth, thereby turning heroes into villains and villains into heroes.

There is nothing “Pro-Immigrant” about facilitating the entry of aliens who are exploited by smugglers and unscrupulous employers and nothing “Anti-Immigrant” about demanding that our immigration laws and our borders be imbued with true integrity.

The huge number of such aliens who enter the U.S. every day creates a wide variety of problems for cities across America, overwhelming the infrastructure of those cities including law enforcement, schools, hospitals, mass transit, and water supplies and posing a threat to public health.

Many illegal aliens seek various benefits under costly economic “safety net” programs.

Effective enforcement of the immigration laws would deter aliens from seeking to enter the United States illegally as great expense and at great personal risk, in the first place.  This is commonsense.

Yet hundreds of U.S. cities have been declared “Sanctuaries” for illegal aliens.  As I have noted in previous articles, mayors of “Sanctuary Cities” and governors of “Sanctuary States” are the human traffickers best friends.

Sanctuary Cities undermine the efforts of the U.S. Border Patrol and ICE, creating a huge incentives for aspiring illegal aliens, inducing them to seek out these human traffickers, knowing that they will be shielded from detection by ICE agents once they get past the border.

Shielding illegal aliens from detection by ICE is a felony.

ICE agents need the information that these illegal aliens can provide to arrest the smugglers and dismantle their operations.

Therefore shielding illegal aliens from ICE also shields smugglers and exploitive employers from detection.

Indeed, illegal aliens are not only exploited by the smugglers, they are also exploited by their employers, some of whom work collaboratively with the smugglers.  In these cases the aliens become virtual indentured servants, never earning enough money to fully pay off the smugglers trapping them in a vicious cycle similar to the tactics of “loan sharks.”

In some instances young women are forced into a life of prostitution working in brothels.

Furthermore illegal alien workers who are willing to work for substandard wages under substandard, indeed illegally dangerous conditions, not only displace lawful immigrant and American workers but ultimately create downward pressure on wages of all workers who are similarly employed.

Flooding America with Third World workers who bring with them Third World expectations of wages and working conditions is turning America into a Third World country.

Now that is a story worth reporting on, but one that is not likely to appear on the evening news tonight, or any other night.

Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He served as an Immigration Inspector, Immigration Adjudications Officer and spent 26 years as an agent who rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. For half of his career he was assigned to the Drug Task Force. He has testified before well over a dozen congressional hearings, provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission as well as state legislative hearings around the United States and at trials where immigration is at issue. He hosts his radio show, “The Michael Cutler Hour,” on Friday evenings on BlogTalk Radio. His personal website is


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