Friday, February 9, 2018

US air, artillery strike Hizballah, Iranian forces in E. Syria - debkaFile

by debkaFile

If Erdogan decides to carry on with his anti-Kurd campaign in northern Syria, he will find himself not only up against the Trump administration, but also his allies, Russia and Iran.

The US and Russia took military action in the last 48 hours to show the bit-players in the Syrian war that they are not calling the shots for the next moves. The objects of this lesson were the Assad regime, Turkey, Iran and Hizballah.

On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Jan. 7-8, members of the US 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit fired M777 Howitzer guns, backed by air strikes, against Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite militia forces operating in the Deir ez-Zour region east of the Euphrates River. Russian forces may also have been involved in the clash, say sources in Washington. According to the official US-led coalition communique, pro-Assad forces attacked a headquarters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) east of the Euphrates, which is the deconfliction line separating the US area of operations from that of Russia and the Assad regime, and suffered 100 dead in the US counter-attack.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources disclose that the official US communique revealed a small corner of the clandestine campaign US forces are currently waging against the Assad regime’s army and its pro-Iranian allies on two fronts east of the Euphrates River.

Deir ez-Zour: Here, the US is engaged in a concentrated effort to arm and supply logistics to the SDF and the Kurdish YPG for two missions: the fight against Islamic State and a solid front to contain the Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces operating in the region. DEBKA Weekly’s military sources reveal that, in this sector, the US contingent is not content with delivering training and supplies; it also provides artillery and air support, labeled “preventive fire,” to help the local forces keep Assad’s army and its allies pinned down in their positions. This holds them back from continuing their easterly advance to the Iraqi border. The slightest movement outside those lines draws sustained American fire.

Al-Tanf Front, SE Syria: This is the most active front. Hardly a day goes by without pressure from Russian special forces, Syrian troops, Hizballah, or local groups.  A combined Russian-Syrian-Hizballah push has long sought to drive the Americans out of Al-Tanf, because it is the key to free and safe passage from southeastern Syria into western Iraq and northern Jordan. However, the US garrison isn’t budging – even when it comes under live artillery fire and air strikes.

On Thursday, Jan. 8, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan put in a call to Vladimir Putin in Moscow in search of an understanding with the Russian president on coordination between their air and air defense forces in Syria. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the call had become urgent, since it looked as though Russia was preparing its air force and air defense systems to hit the Turkish warplanes that were providing air support for the Turkish anti-Kurdish operation in Afrin.

On Tuesday, Russian forces took over the Syrian Abu Dhuhour Airport east of Idlib and moved in Russian planes and helicopters. Elsewhere in Syria, they deployed their air defense weapons systems to new positions in the Aleppo and Idlib regions. A Syrian military spokesman announced that all parts of northern Syria were now covered by a comprehensive anti-missile shield. Afrin air space had suddenly become an effective no-fly zone for Turkish air force operations. This was Moscow’s punishment for the downing on Feb. 3, of a Russian Sukhoi 25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft over the town of Maasran in northern Idlib by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham rebels, firing a ground-to-air man-portable missile. The Russians believe that Turkey gave the rebel group those missiles.

The Kremlin issued a communique after the Putin-Erdogan conversation stating that they had agreed to establish a Tension Reduction Zone in Idlib. But our sources report that the main part of the conversation was far from accord. Putin’s demanded that Erdogan call off the Turkish campaign in Afrin, repeating the demand issued Wednesday by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. Therefore, if Erdogan decides nevertheless to carry on with his anti-Kurd campaign in northern Syria, he will find himself not only up against the Trump administration, but also his allies, Russia and Iran.



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Take the 'Racist Xenophobe' Quiz: Who Said This About Illegal Immigration? - Larry Elder

by Larry Elder

An inconvenient trip down Memory Lane.

Which alleged "racist xenophobe" made these statements about illegal immigration?

"Those who enter the country illegally and those who employ them disrespect the rule of law, and they are showing disregard for those who are following the law. We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented (and) unchecked, and circumventing the line of people who are waiting patiently, diligently and lawfully to become immigrants in this country."

A) Adolf Hitler
B) Donald Trump
C) Barack Obama

Answer: Then-Sen. Obama, news conference, 2005

"Our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens."

A) Joseph Stalin
B) Donald Trump
C) Bill Clinton

Answer: President Clinton, State of the Union address, 1995

"If making it easy to be an illegal alien isn't enough, how about offering an award to be an illegal immigrant. No sane country would do that, right? Guess again."

A) Jack the Ripper
B) Donald Trump
C) Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Answer: Reid, Senate floor, 1993

"In approaching immigration reform, I believe we must enact tough, practical reforms that ensure and promote the legal and orderly entry of immigrants into our country."

A) Idi Amin
B) Donald Trump
C) Barack Obama

Answer: Sen. Obama, Senate floor, 2007

"We all agree on the need to better secure the border, and to punish employers who choose to hire illegal immigrants."

A) Pol Pot 
B) Donald Trump
C) Barack Obama

Answer: Sen. Obama, 2005

"All Americans, not only in the states most heavily affected but in every place in this country, are rightly disturbed by the large numbers of illegal aliens entering our country. The jobs they hold might otherwise be held by citizens or legal immigrants. The public services they use impose burdens on our taxpayers."

A) Michael Myers
B) Donald Trump
C) Bill Clinton

Answer: President Clinton, State of the Union address, 1995 

"We will try to do more to speed the deportation of illegal aliens who are arrested for crimes, to better identify illegal aliens in the workplace."

A) Jeffrey Dahmer
B) Donald Trump
C) Bill Clinton

Answer: President Clinton, State of the Union address, 1995

"I continue to believe that we need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace. And that means a workable mandatory system that employers must use to verify the legality of their workers."

A) Kim Jong Un
B) Donald Trump
C) Barack Obama

Answer: Sen. Obama, Senate floor, 2007

"If you break our laws by entering this country without permission and give birth to a child, we reward that child with U.S. citizenship and guarantee full access to all public and social services this society provides — and that's a lot of services. Is it any wonder that two-thirds of babies born at taxpayer expense (in) county-run hospitals in Los Angeles are born to illegal alien mothers?"

A) Kim Kardashian
B) Donald Trump
C) Harry Reid

Answer: Sen. Reid, Senate floor, 1993

"We need to start by giving agencies charged with border security new technology, new facilities and more people to stop, process and deport illegal immigrants."

A) Rasputin 
B) Donald Trump
C) Barack Obama

Answer: Sen. Barack Obama, 2005

"Right now we've got millions of illegal immigrants who live and work here without knowing their identity or background."

A) Freddy Krueger
B) Donald Trump
C) Barack Obama

Answer: Sen. Obama, 2005

"We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws. It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it."

A) Vlad the Impaler 
B) Donald Trump
C) Bill Clinton

Answer: President Clinton, State of the Union address,1995
"Let me repeat: We need strong border security at the borders."

A) Hassan Nasrallah
B) Donald Trump
C) Barack Obama

Answer: Barack Obama, 2005

"If only everyone (in the Middle East) could be like Scandinavians, (achieving peace) would all be easy."

A) Al Capone
B) Donald Trump
C) Barack Obama

Answer: President Obama, 2016

"There are too many (migrants) now. ... Europe, for example, Germany, cannot become an Arab country. Germany is Germany. ... From a moral point of view, too, I think refugees should only be admitted temporarily."

A) Joseph Goebbels
B) Donald Trump
C) Dalai Llama

Answer: Dalai Llama, 2016

Not long ago, both Democrats and Republicans advocated safe, secure borders and an immigration policy of admitting immigrants who benefit, not burden, Americans. Que pasó?

Larry Elder


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Obama Knew - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

The then-president wanted “to know everything” the FBI was doing in the Russia probe.

Former President Obama wanted “to know everything” the FBI was doing in its investigation into claims that Russia was interfering in the 2016 election, a new report suggests, raising the specter of a sitting president becoming involved in a plot to rig the 2016 election.

It was a year ago the outlines of a Watergate-like conspiracy emerged in which a term-limited Democrat president used the privacy-invading apparatus of the state to spy on a Republican presidential candidate. Watergate differed in that President Nixon didn’t get involved in the plot against the Democratic National Committee until later as an accomplice after the fact.

But this new evidence suggests Obama may have been part of a sinister anti-democratic cabal from the beginning.

The assertion that Obama wanted “to know everything we’re doing” came in a private Sept. 2, 2016, text message from FBI lawyer Lisa Page to FBI agent Peter Strzok, with whom she was having an extramarital affair at the time. (The exact message, time-stamped 1:50 p.m., reads "Yes, bc potus wants to know everything we are doing.") In a separate, previously revealed text message to Page, Strzok wrote something cryptic about an “insurance policy” in case Donald Trump got elected. Some have speculated he was referring to the salacious, unverified dossier the DNC paid rent-a-spy Christopher Steele to compile that purports to show Trump’s nefarious links to Russia.

At one point, the foul-mouthed Trump-hating duo whose text messages show a visceral contempt for Republican voters, both worked for Special Counsel Robert Mueller who has been investigating the still-unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that then-candidate Donald Trump somehow colluded with Russia to throw the presidential contest his way.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that released the emails between Page and Strzok yesterday, told NBC News that the texts were “totally candid, unvarnished” and “just raise an awful lot of questions.”

In a report accompanying the release of the emails, Johnson says that the Sept. 2, 2016, text came in the context of a discussion about preparing talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey to use when briefing President Obama.

But it isn’t clear from the message thread alone which investigation – Clinton emails, or perhaps Russians interfering with the U.S. election – that the talking points are concerned with.

Even if it were clear, the idea of such a briefing would still present bad political optics, John Nolte notes at Breitbart News.
The whole idea of an FBI director preparing talking points for the president on such a sensitive issue is bound to raise questions. So too Obama’s apparent involvement in an ongoing investigation directly involving one of his former cabinet members, and possible successor.
Chairman Johnson suggests, somewhat weakly, that the Comey briefing discussed was about Clinton and her emails.

Clinton used the hacker-friendly “home brew” servers while running the State Department to conceal the corrupt dealings of the anticipatory bribe clearinghouse known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation and to evade her disclosure responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act. She also stole tens of thousands of emails that were her work product and therefore U.S. government property, and destroyed them.

As NBC reports:
Johnson's report only says that the text "may relate" to the FBI’s Clinton investigation, since the Justice Department had redacted other text messages that related to other investigations. An earlier text in that sequence refers to the need to develop talking points for Comey in connection with a morning meeting "on the 7th."
But Johnson’s conclusion that the text message “may relate” to the Clinton email probe does not appear to be supported by the facts.

It would be fair to say that the investigation discussed in the thread simply could not be the inquiry into the Clinton emails, or so argues a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper reports that “associates of Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page said that exchange referred to the president’s wanting information on Russia election meddling, which the FBI was heavily involved in over that period.”

“That exchange occurred just days before Mr. Obama met Russian President Vladimir Putin at a summit in China,” the newspaper continues. “Mr. Obama said in December 2016 that he had addressed the issue of tampering with the election process with Mr. Putin at that September meeting.”

But – and this is critically important – there was no FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails at the time Page sent the message in question to Strzok.
In August and September 2016, the FBI was no longer actively investigating the Clinton matter, after Mr. Comey had said that July that he was recommending no criminal charges be filed. In late October 2016, the FBI ramped up its investigation into Mrs. Clinton again when the bureau learned about a potential trove of new Clinton-related emails on the computer belonging to the husband of one of her aides. Mrs. Clinton and her allies have cited that announcement as a big factor in her election loss.
Would Comey be requesting a briefing on an investigation that had already been shut down? The question answers itself.

The fateful message was among tens of thousands of texts between the star-crossed lovers that were reviewed by Fox News after being released by Johnson’s committee.

This revelation about the 44th president might be slightly less disturbing but for the fact that Obama assured a Fox News Channel reporter months before in a discussion about the Clinton email matter that interfering with criminal probes is just not who he is.

“I do not talk to the attorney general about pending investigations,” he said April 10, 2016. “I do not talk to FBI directors about pending investigations. We have a strict line.”

“I guarantee it. I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department or the FBI, not just in this case but in any case. Full stop. Period.”

But as we know after suffering through eight long years of his presidency, Obama is an exceptionally polished con man. He has a pretty well-documented track record of lying, his silver tongue a-flapping, to conceal his various corrupt schemes.

He used the IRS to target conservative and Tea Party nonprofits, along with Catholic, Jewish, and pro-Israel organizations. He brazenly lied about it. There was “not even a smidgeon of corruption” at the IRS, Obama told Bill O’Reilly on Super Bowl weekend in 2014.

After boasting that under his watch al-Qaeda was on the run – it wasn’t – he worked during the final phase of his reelection campaign with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to cover up the fact that the deadly Sept. 11, 2012, attack on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya, was perpetrated by Muslim terrorists, not some spontaneously-formed mob angry about a video that put their prophet in an unflattering light.

Obama told Americans that they would be able to keep their family doctors under the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, and that they would save money as a result of the law. He accused surgeons of performing unnecessary amputations out of greed.

Even a memoir that helped make him famous and laid the foundation for his successful career in electoral politics was filled with lies. His ghost-written autobiographical book, Dreams From My Father, was a carefully constructed mixture of truth and fiction, including invented composite characters.

President Trump seemed to claim vindication on Twitter after the latest tranche of Page-Strzok text messages was made public.

“NEW FBI TEXTS ARE BOMBSHELLS!” Trump tweeted in all-caps at 11:10 a.m. yesterday.
The president appears to be right.

Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the investigative think tank Capital Research Center, is an award-winning investigative reporter and author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


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DEBATE: Should US Aid to the Palestinians Be Suspended? - Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos

by Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos

Both sides of the debate are presented here.

BESA Center Online Debate No. 6, February 8, 2018

Q: On January 2, 2018, US President Donald Trump threatened to pull funding from the Palestinians with the tweet: “But with the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?” Two weeks later, the US said that it while it remains committed to a voluntary contribution of $60 million to sustain Palestinian schools and health services, it is holding back a further $65 million for reconsideration. BESA joins the debate by posing the question: Should US aid to the Palestinians be suspended? 

Respondents: Yossi Kuperwasser, Peter Brookes, Hillel Frisch,
Asaf Romirowsky, Neri Zilber, Alex Joffe

Yossi Kuperwasser, Director of the Project on 
Regional Middle East Developments at the 
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Former 
Director General of the Israel Ministry of 
Strategic Affairs and head of the Research 
Division of IDF Military Intelligence

Cutting American aid to the Palestinian Authority as a result its insistence on paying salaries to terrorists and refusal to engage in the peace process means that Palestinian deterrence has weakened dramatically. The US is no longer afraid of the myths about the harsh reaction such moves may bring. It realizes that the legendary Arab Street is not really a threat and that the pragmatic Arab states consider other issues more pressing than the Palestinian issue.

The US attitude causes great anxiety among the Palestinians – especially as the Israelis are losing hope that there will ever be a Palestinian partner for real peace, the Arabs are giving them the cold shoulder, and the US is recognizing the reality about the conflict (Jerusalem, refugees, Palestinian position as the main obstacle to peace) and is forming a peace plan they are likely to oppose.

The Pavlovian Palestinian reaction is to show even greater commitment to their narrative of struggle against Zionism, as demonstrated by Abbas in his recent public appearances. He advocates more “popular resistance” (violence without the use of firearms) and more unilateral activity in international fora (including the ICC), and refuses to deal with the American administration.

The option of cutting off relations with Israel and suspending both the recognition of Israel and Palestinian security cooperation are probably going to remain as threats, even after the US funds are actually cut. The option of dissolving the PA has not been mentioned recently, because the Palestinians regard its establishment as a major achievement. In the long run, after the PA realizes how futile these measures are and after its hope are dashed that Europe and the Arabs will replace the US, the Palestinians might start asking questions about the logic of sticking to a false narrative. But until this happens, the Palestinian arena may experience rising tensions both internally (between the factions and between the Diadochi inside Fatah) and between the Palestinians and Israel, though the probability of a new Intifada is low.
 Peter Brookes, Senior Fellow, National Security Affairs, 
Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy, 
The Heritage Foundation, Washington DC

The US generously supports the Palestinians through both the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and the Palestinian Authority (PA). The US is UNRWA’s biggest donor and the value of American aid is hundreds of millions of dollars annually for both programs.

UNRWA was established as a temporary initiative to assist Palestinian refugees resulting from the 1948 Israeli-Arab war. Nearly 70 years later, UNRWA has become a permanent institution providing services to multiple generations of Palestinians, many of whom are not refugees.

Instead of helping resolve a crisis, UNRWA prolongs it. The US should reconsider the need for UNRWA at all, especially since every other refugee population in the world is handled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

All US aid comes from American taxpayer dollars. It is not an entitlement. President Trump is right to expect that US support will result in a Palestinian willingness to negotiate with Israel on finding a comprehensive peace. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened – and Palestinian intransigence should not be rewarded.

The US should suspend aid to UNWRA and the PA until the Palestinians engage in meaningful talks with the Israelis on peace. Perhaps with that, we’ll finally see movement on the peace process.

Hillel Frisch, Professor of Political Studies 
and Middle East Studies at Bar-Ilan University

The recent US decision to cut aid to UNRWA is a move in the right direction and Israel should welcome it. UNRWA is an organization that privileges Palestinian refugees over all others in flagrant contempt of the principle of equality, especially as most of them are descendants of refugees and not refugees themselves. If the US doesn’t know what to do with the funds, they can go to the surviving refugees and victims of the Holocaust.

The timing couldn’t be better. It presses the inhabitants of Gaza, who voted in Hamas in 2006, to induce that murderous organization to spend its funds on their welfare rather than on missiles, underground attack tunnels, and terrorism in the West Bank. The people of Gaza need, among other things, a primary school system to replace the current one – mostly run by UNRWA – which teaches blind anti-Jewish hatred to Palestinian youngsters.

The talk that budget cuts to the organization will increase the likelihood of a humanitarian crisis is nonsense. The same sources that promote this fear report a growing gap between electricity supply and demand in Gaza. How can a society under economic stress consume more electricity, a proxy economists use to measure increases in economic welfare in the absence of GDP data?

Asaf Romirowsky, Fellow at the Middle East Forum, 
former IDF International Relations liaison officer in 
the West Bank and to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

UNRWA helps perpetuate the Palestinian refugee problem through an entrenched and dysfunctional bureaucracy that is accustomed to almost 70 years of international welfare. There exists a subversive dynamic between UNRWA and the Palestinian leadership: the existence of UNRWA allows the Palestinian Authority (PA) to continue dodging core responsibilities towards its citizens.

At its root, UNRWA effectively argues that – regardless of reality – all Palestinians are refugees and victims of an Israeli “occupation.” The organization has financial and political interests in maintaining this fiction. As long as the Palestinians are refugees, UNRWA is in business. Success is measured by the contributions it receives and the prerogatives it assumes.

UNRWA’s financial structure underlies its moral hazard and directly supports its own rent-seeking behavior. Ironically, one of the rhetorical strategies employed by the organization is stressing the pathos of the refugees’ plight, a variation on the “moral degeneration” argument made by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) personnel during their years in Gaza. Now, with the withholding of UNRWA funds, the Trump administration has the opportunity to disrupt dysfunctional patterns that are long entrenched and fantastically expensive. It also has the chance to confront the PA with a choice: if it wishes to be regarded as a state, it must assume its responsibilities and act like a state.

Historically, the US government has not ignored the lack of return on this “investment,” but never before has it responded with such measures. Since the 1970s, a number of Congressional resolutions have sought to limit or cut off funding to UNRWA. Congress regularly introduces language into appropriations bills requiring UNRWA to promote transparency, self-policing, and accountability with regard to vetting employees for terrorist connections, as well as eliminating the promotion of terrorism in educational materials. Similar provisions are regularly written into United States Agency for International Development budgets administered by the State Department in regard to the PA. All of this may finally lead to real change and to an understanding that US support for UNRWA has kept Palestinians in stasis, promoted Palestinian rejectionism, and failed to advance either peace or US policy.

Neri Zilber, journalist based in Tel Aviv 
and adjunct Fellow of the
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 
for which he is co-authoring a forthcoming 
study on the Palestinian Authority Security Forces

The Trump administration’s recent threats to suspend aid to the Palestinians runs the risk of severely undermining stability on the West Bank while at the same time doing little to further the administration’s stated diplomatic goals in the Israeli-Palestinian arena.

In contrast to the popular perception, the West Bank has been relatively stable over the past decade, especially in comparison to the violence of preceding years.  This has been achieved, inter alia, by the close security coordination between Israel and the PA Security Forces (PASF).  The US government funds and trains these forces, so any cutoff in aid would inevitably undermine their cohesiveness and effectiveness.  The notion that security can be shielded from a wider suspension of aid is not credible given the very real systemic strain – budgetary and political – it would place on the PA writ large.

It should be a vital US interest to maintain these security ties (Israeli-Palestinian and US-Palestinian), not least because they are arguably the most successful facet of the entire “peace process” ecosystem.

Given the Trump administration’s stated (quixotic) goal of restarting peace talks, undermining this one positive aspect makes little diplomatic sense, and even less sense in terms of the realities on the ground.

Alex Joffe, archaeologist, historian, 
and the Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow 
at the Middle East Forum

Reports indicate that the Trump administration has followed through on its reevaluation of US aid to the Palestinians, specifically UNRWA. A $65 million payment will be deferred while an additional $60 million will be transferred.

These figures must be seen in context. US taxpayers currently provide over $750 million a year: half in economic and security assistance provided to the Palestinian Authority (and its creditors), and half to UNRWA, the UN’s health, welfare, and education agency dedicated solely to Palestinian “refugees.” These sums give the US ample latitude to communicate via suspension of payments or reprogramming of funds. But how would this message be received? The hysteria accompanying the $65 million deferred payment to UNRWA gives us the answer.

Palestinian leaders perceive foreign aid as an entitlement. The process of giving aid is ritualized and sacrosanct; it must be done reliably and in increasing amounts. Any cuts automatically result in the putative death of children and the inevitable radicalization of adults. The element of blackmail is inescapable. These perceptions are often characteristic of welfare dependents worldwide, but Palestinian culture has long internalized the belief that their political circumstances are the absolute responsibility of the international community. Until they are miraculously restored to an imaginary status quo antebellum, they must be sustained.

Indeed, the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi’s angry response that “Once again, the US administration proves its complicity with the Israeli occupation by attempting to remove another permanent status issue off the table” shows that any changes to UNRWA are seen as tantamount to erasing the “refugees” as a political issue. Here too is another element of blackmail.

Would removing more aid encourage independence or collapse? Probably both. The kleptocratic and entrepreneurial sectors of Palestinian society would manage, but with a massively bloated public sector, inefficient agriculture, and underdeveloped manufacturing, the bulk of Palestinian society would suffer. Moreover, Palestinian leaders (the core of the kleptocratic class) would gladly collapse the economy and increase the people’s suffering in order to burden Israel and the international community. US suspension of aid should therefore continue to target UNRWA and the public sector, especially the numerous private militias, while directing aid to health and educational services.

Unfortunately, Mahmoud Abbas’s overwrought speech excoriating the Trump administration and declaring that Jews are European-supported occupiers indicates how the messages have been received. This is to say characteristically, with incoherent rage, incomprehension, and a retreat into solipsistic tropes about resistance.

One lesson here is that US aid reduction must be accompanied by a well-articulated message directly to the Palestinian public: welfare is not forever, self-reliance is critical, and the path for the future goes through negotiations with Israel.

For Twitter dissemination: #Besaonlinedebates #Palestinians @JerusalemCenter @Brookes_Peter @Heritage @ARomirowsky @meforum @NeriZilber @WashInstitute @tzogopoulos

Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos


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Analysis: What's behind the renewed war in Israel's heartland - Yochanan Visser

by Yochanan Visser

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-Charles Bensoussan

There is a pattern to the spate of terror attacks as both Fatah and Hamas agree that "the era of Resistance has begun."


Early Wednesday morning, a Palestinian terrorist tried to enter the tiny Jewish village of Carmei Tzur along road 60 between Gush Etzion Junction and Hevron in Israel.

The Palestinian Arab from Halhoul, a Hamas hotbed a few kilometers down the road to Hevron/ Kyriat Arba, approached the entrance of Carmei Tzur with his car. He then got out and stabbed a 34-year-old security guard who luckily escaped with only moderate injuries to his arm.

The terrorist was subsequently shot dead by a second security guard after which the IDF started to search the area for possible accomplices in the terror attack, later entering the nearby city of Halhoul in order to interrogate relatives of the slain terrorist.

The incident marked the third attempt in one month by Palestinian terrorists to infiltrate Carmei Tzur in order to kill Jews living there. It comes on the heels of a deadly infiltration attempt at the entrance of Ariel in Samaria earlier this week.

On Monday, Rabbi Itamar Ben-Gal, a 30-year-old father of four, who lived in the Jewish village of Har Bracha in Samaria was stabbed to death by an Israeli Arab from Yafo, the son of an Israeli Arab mother and a Palestinian Arab father from Nablus (Shechem).

Rabbi Ben-Gal worked as an educator but was also serving as a member of Ariel’s security team.

Earlier, Rabbi Raziel Shevach, from the now-authorized outpost Havat Gilad in Samaria, was murdered in a drive-by shooting during which Palestinian terrorists from the Jenin area fired 22 bullets at Rabbi Shevach's moving car.

He was survived by his wife Yael and six children.

The Israeli internal security agency Shabak has recorded a sharp increase in terror attacks by Palestinian Arab terrorists since U.S. president Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem on Dec. 6th, 2017.

In December alone 249 terror attacks were recorded by the Shabak, up from 84 in November 2017. Data about January are not yet available but no day passes by without new attacks in Judea and Samaria and especially attempts to infiltrate the Jewish villages and towns located there.

In December, no terror attacks were recorded inside the so-called Green Line - the 1948 armistice line - the Shabak wrote in its monthly report.

Is this coincidence? After all, Israeli police continue discovering plots to stage terror attacks within the Green Line.

On Monday, police released photo evidence of a large amount of weapons seized during a counter-terrorism raid in northern Israel and later arrested an Israeli Arab from the PA town of Taibe who was recruiting Arabs for Islamic State attacks against Israel.

If one takes a good look at what Hamas and Fatah said after Trump’s Jerusalem declaration, and what they said in January after PA-leader Mahmoud Abbas dropped his mask as a supposed moderate, and delivered his most inciting anti-Semitic speech as PA-leader to date, a pattern becomes visible.

After Trump delivered his historic Jerusalem speech, Hamas immediately called for a third Intifada which pundits claim did not materialize, but the Shabak record tells a slightly different story.

Then there is the Jan.19 statement from Fatah, the supposedly moderate Palestinian faction of Mahmoud Abbas and Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator of the PA.

The statement called upon the Palestinian Arabs to "escalate the popular and comprehensive resistance" against Israel and to “turn the lives of Jewish settlers into hell.”

The statement was issued directly after Arab terrorists murdered Rabbi Shevach, and formed the beginning of a spate of attacks on Jews living in Judea and Samaria and a significant increase in attempts to infiltrate the so-called ‘settlements’.

According to Palestinian scholar Bassam Tawil, there is now competition between Hamas and Fatah to show who hates Israel and the U.S. more, but they agree on one thing: the era of Resistance has begun.

The two main Palestinian terror organizations are now actively encouraging Arabs to carry out more terror attacks against Jews and glorify those who were ‘killed in action’.

For example, Fatah hailed the “martyr” Ahmed Nasr Jarrar, leader of the terror cell which murdered Rabbi Shevach, and who was killed in a shootout with the IDF.

A poster of the ‘martyr’ and his father said the terrorist was a “young lion,” while Fattah praised the murderer for “facing” Israeli soldiers and not trying to flee during the IDF raid in Jenin in which he was eliminated.

The question now is what must be done to improve security for Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria.

Yehuda Wald, spokesman for the Carmei Tzur community, says that it’s high time the IDF restores deterrence vis a vis terrorists who kill Jews by expelling their families to Gaza, which, according to Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, is the real Palestinian state.
Wald also said Israel should declare sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria and build more houses to strengthen Jewish presence in Israel’s biblical heartland.

The spokesman for the Jewish community in Judea urged the government to speed up the construction of a by-pass road in the area of Halhoul, Beit Umar and al-Arub since the Israeli security forces fail to provide adequate protection for Israeli’s traveling Road 60.
The Palestinian Arabs, meanwhile, show no signs of being deterred..

On the contrary, PA Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, who also heads the PLO today, warned last week Palestinians could join ISIS and other Islamist groups if the Trump Administration doesn’t give in and give the Palestinian Arabs what they want.

Yochanan Visser is an independent journalist/analyst who worked for many years as Middle East correspondent for Western in Arizona and was a frequent publicist for the main Dutch paper De Volkskrant. He authored a book in the Dutch language about the cognitive war against Israel and now lives in Gush Etzion. He writes a twice weekly analysis of current issues for Arutz Sheva


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Prager U Video: Can Climate Models Predict Climate Change? - Prager University

by Prager University

Renowned Princeton physicist demolishes the Left's climate alarmism.

Predicting climate temperatures isn't science – it's science fiction. Emeritus Professor of Physics at Princeton University Will Happer explains.

Prager University


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Up Schiff’s Creek Without a Paddle - Brian C. Joondeph

by Brian C. Joondeph

Extra! Congressman Adam Schiff caught colluding with Russians!

Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from someone else’s misfortune. Not wishing such on anyone, but instead enjoying a smile or a laugh when karma returns to bite someone on the rear end.

Today schadenfreude is in the midwinter air, blowing briskly over hapless Congressman Adam Schiff, a frequent flier on Sunday talk shows and cable news interviews. As the ranking member of the House Select Intelligence Committee, he is in the thick of the recently released memos revealing how Hillary Clinton bought her way under the tent of the Trump campaign via the Obama justice and intelligence agencies.

Congressman Schiff was punked by a couple of Russian radio comedians last year, with the story recently coming to light. Schiff was called by “Vovan” and “Lexus,” promising compromising dirt on Donald Trump, “including nude photos of the president and a Russian reality show star.”

Great stuff to fan the flames of impeachment. Or at least cripple the presidency.

Schiff, of course, assures everyone that from the get go, he knew the call was bogus. Oh really?

Then why take the call? An important politician like Schiff is busy. Or should be. Between interviews on CNN and MSNBC, he hardly has time for a bathroom break. Yet he had time for this “eight-minute conversation.” Fat chance you or I could get our local representative on the phone at all, much less for eight minutes.

Then just as anyone else participating in a prank call would not do, “Schiff appeared to be taking notes on the conversation and repeatedly asked for spellings of names and documentation he could send to the FBI.” Quite an effort if he knew the call was bogus. 

At the conclusion of the eight-minute phone call, Schiff said, “I'll be in touch with the FBI about this. And we'll make arrangements with your staff. I think it probably would be best to provide these materials both to our committee and to the FBI.” Really? He knew it was a prank yet he said this? Wasting the time of his committee and the FBI with nonsense?

So we are to believe the congressman and his staff had nothing better to do but continue playing along with the Russian gag? The next day a Schiff aide called Vocan and Lexus saying, “I understand Mr. Schiff had a productive call with Mr. Parubiy, and that Mr. Parubiy would like to make some material available to Mr. Schiff through your embassy.”

Still supposedly playing along with the joke, the Schiff aide asked the comedians, “Do you know when we might be able to meet your colleagues at the Ukrainian embassy here in Washington, D.C. to pick up materials?”

Now a Schiff staffer says, “Both before and after the call, we were aware that it was likely bogus and had already alerted appropriate law enforcement personnel, as well as after the call.” When I get a crank call, I hang up. I don’t take notes, talk for eight minutes, or call back the next day.

If members of Congress and their staffs have so much free time on their hands as to be playing spy games on the taxpayer dime, they should be working for TMZ, not the American taxpayer. Or as I suspect, Schiff bought the story hook, line, and sinker. Ecstatic over his good luck in being handed oppositional dirt on a political opponent.

Rather than hanging up the phone, he was giddy over the Trump nude photos, ready to leak them to his favorite reporters across town.

Let’s now go back to June 9, 2016. The infamous meeting in Trump Tower between senior Trump campaign staff, Donald Trump Jr, Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veseinitskaya. A meeting supposedly for the Trump campaign to be given opposition research on Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Schiff had plenty to say about this meeting and a possible Russian offer of dirt on a political opponent. In a press conference, Schiff called this, “Very significant, deeply disturbing new public information about direct contacts between Russia and the very center of the Trump family, campaign and organization.”

He thought the meeting might have been a “testing of the waters by the Russians to see if the campaign would be receptive to their engagement and involvement in the election.”

So the Russian government had damaging information about Trump’s political opponent, Hillary Clinton, and approached the Trump campaign to see if they would be “receptive to their engagement and involvement.”

Notice the similarities? Just like the Schiff prank of Russians approaching the congressman with damaging information about his political opponent, Donald Trump, to see if Schiff would be “receptive to their engagement and involvement.”

So Schiff is caught redhanded doing exactly what he accused the Trump campaign of doing. When the Russians approach Trump with dirt on a political opponent, that calls for special prosecutors, congressional committees, and impeachment.

Yet when the Russians approach a senior Member of Congress with dirt on a political opponent, and the congressman plays along, far longer than the Trump campaign did (Jared Kushner, present at the Trump Tower meeting, walked out after seven minutes), he can laugh it off as a prank that he was in on from the get-go.

Nice try, Mr. Schiff. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. How about an investigation of you colluding with a foreign power in an attempt to undermine a duly elected president? Shouldn’t you recuse yourself from anything to do with Trump or Russia over this? Jeff Sessions did.

On this caper, Congressman, you are up Schiff’s creek without a paddle.

Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


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Feminism, Swedish Style - Bruce Bawer

by Bruce Bawer

[Swedish offiicials] are, as they love to proclaim, proud feminists, whose ardent belief in sisterhood ends where brutal Islamic patriarchy, gender oppression, and primitive "honor culture" begin. That is feminism, Swedish style.

  • A Swedish court ruled against the parental rights of Alicia, a Swedish citizen, and handed over her children (also Swedish citizens) to a foreigner who is known to have raped their mother, in the context of an Islamic sharia "marriage," when she herself was a child.
  • Sometimes, when one points out these rules, people will respond: "Well, the Bible says such-and-such." The point is not that these things are written in Islamic scripture, but that people still live by them.
  • Swedish officials have not made any "mistakes" in Alicia's case. Every single action on their part has been rooted in a philosophy that they thoroughly understand and in which they deeply believe. They are, as they love to proclaim, proud feminists, whose ardent belief in sisterhood ends where brutal Islamic patriarchy, gender oppression, and primitive "honor culture" begin. That is feminism, Swedish style.
  • In practice, as it happens, this compulsion to respect the different priorities of other cultures is most urgent when the culture in question is the one in which female inequality is most thoroughly enshrined and enforced.
"Sweden has the first feminist government in the world," brags the Swedish government on its official website. Meaning what, exactly?
"This means that gender equality is central to the Government's priorities... a gender equality perspective is brought into policy-making on a broad front... The Government's most important tool for implementing feminist policy is gender mainstreaming, of which gender-responsive budgeting is an important component."
Accompanying this patch of bureaucratic rhetoric is a photograph of Sweden's current government of twelve women and eleven men.

Pictured: Sweden's current, proudly feminist, government cabinet, for whom "gender equality perspective is brought into policy-making on a broad front," and "gender-responsive budgeting is an important component." (Image source: Government of Sweden)

Of course, there are various types of feminism. Sweden's preferred type is not about universal sisterhood and the spreading of sexual equality around the globe. No, it is "intersectional" feminism. What is "intersectional" feminism? It is a species of feminism that, in accordance with the relatively new academic concept of "intersectionality," accepts a hierarchy whereby other "victim groups" -- such as "people of color" and Muslims -- are higher up on the grievance ladder than women, and whereby women who belong to those other groups enjoy an even more exalted status as victims than white female Christians or Jews.

This means that "intersectional" feminists must be culturally sensitive and culturally relative, recognizing and privileging culturally predicated values other than sexual equality. They must be feminists who understand that while no expression of contempt for the purported tyranny of Western males can be too loud, overstated or vulgar, they must, in their encounters with less feminist-minded cultures, temper their devotion to female equality out of respect for those cultures' different priorities. In practice, this compulsion to respect the different priorities of other cultures is most urgent, and the respect itself most cringing when the culture in question is the one in which female inequality is most thoroughly enshrined and enforced.

This brand of feminism, needless to say, is not confined to Sweden. Last year, on the day after Donald Trump's inauguration, it was on full display in the United States at the Women's March, where the new President was universally denounced as a personification of patriarchy, while Linda Sarsour, a woman in hijab and champion of Islamic law (sharia), became an overnight feminist heroine.

What is Sarsour promoting? Under sharia law, a woman is expected to be subservient and obedient. Her testimony in court is worth half that of a man, because she is "deficient in intelligence." A daughter should be given an inheritance only half that of a son. A man is not only permitted -- but encouraged -- to beat his wife if she is insufficiently obedient. A man may take "infidel" wives, but a woman may not wed outside the faith. A man may have up to four wives, but a woman can have only one husband. A man can divorce his wife simply by uttering a few words; a woman, if she wants a divorce, must subject herself to a drawn-out process at the end of which a group of men will rule on the matter. A man is entitled to have sex with his wife against her wishes and, under certain circumstances, other women as well. And that is just the beginning.

Sometimes, when one points out these rules, people will respond: "Well, the Bible says such-and-such." The point is not that these things are written in Islamic scripture, but that people still live by them. Moreover, at the Women's March last year, Sarsour, a woman who champions these profoundly inequitable, profoundly anti-feminist codes of conduct, was applauded. That is "intersectional" feminism raised to the point of self-destruction.

Still, in no country have the precepts of "intersectional" feminism been more unequivocally endorsed by the political and cultural establishment, and more eagerly internalized by the citizenry, than in Sweden. Case in point: one of the consequences of "intersectional" feminism is a severe reluctance to punish Muslim men for acting in accordance with the moral dictates of their own culture; and it is precisely because of this reluctance that Sweden, with its "feminist government," has, according to some observers, become the "rape capital of the West." Moreover, it was "intersectionality" that, last year, led every female member of a Swedish government delegation to Iran to wear head coverings and to behave like the humblest harem on the planet. "With this gesture of subjugation," observed one Swiss news website, "they have not only made a joke of any concept of 'feminism' but have also stabbed their Iranian sisters in the back."

Yet another example of "intersectional" feminism is the 45-year-old Swedish woman who worked in a group-home for "unaccompanied refugee children." In November 2016, presumably out of the goodness of her heart, she took into her home Abdul Dostmohammadi, an Afghan former resident of the group-home, after he turned 18 and could no longer live there. Within a month they were lovers; some months later, as recently reported, Dostmohammadi sexually molested her 12-year-old daughter. When the girl told her mother, her mother did nothing, explaining later to authorities that she had feared Dostmohammadi would be deported.

When the girl told her father, who lives elsewhere, he informed the police. The mother need not have worried about deportation: Dostmohammadi was given a three-month suspended sentence, charged a small fine, and ordered to perform community service. Such is the power of "intersectional" feminism in Sweden's system: it enables a Swedish mother -- and a Swedish court -- to accord lower priority to the welfare of her sexually-molested child than to the welfare of the Muslim man who assaulted her.

I will close with another example of institutionalized "intersectional" feminism in action: Alicia's Iraqi parents took her to Sweden when she was four. When she was 13, they took her back to their homeland to marry her 23-year-old cousin. Returning alone to Sweden, Alicia, a Swedish citizen, gave birth to twin boys, who at birth automatically became Swedish citizens. After she cared for them for a period of time, her children were taken away, against her will, to be raised in Iraq by her husband. Last year, he petitioned the Stockholm municipal court for sole custody. On January 9, 2018, the Stockholm Municipal Court ruled in his favor, on the grounds that the twins had lived longer with him than with Alicia, who is now 24.

A Swedish court ruled against the parental rights of a female Swedish citizen and handed over her children, also Swedish citizens, to a foreigner who is known to have raped their mother, in the context of a sharia "marriage," when she herself was a child. Juno Blom, an expert in "honor-related" violence, is one Swedish woman who apparently did not get the memo about "intersectional" feminism. Calling the court's ruling a "disgrace," Blom charged that Sweden has failed Alicia throughout her life:
"A little girl was taken out of Sweden, married off, raped, and deprived of her children without action by the authorities. And now they have put the last nail her coffin by denying her custody. I have probably never seen a case in which so many mistakes have been committed."
Blom does not seem to understand. Swedish officials have not made any "mistakes" in Alicia's case. Every single action on their part has been rooted in a philosophy that they thoroughly understand and in which they deeply believe. They are, as they love to proclaim, proud feminists through and through. It just so happens that, in deference to the edicts of "intersectionality," their ardent belief in sisterhood ends where brutal Islamic patriarchy, systematic gender oppression, and primitive "honor culture" begin. That is feminism, Swedish style.

Bruce Bawer is the author of the new novel The Alhambra (Swamp Fox Editions). His book While Europe Slept (2006) was a New York Times bestseller and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist.


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