Saturday, February 17, 2018

History Lessons from Years Under Islamism - Majid Rafizadeh

by Majid Rafizadeh

Many will still think it is impossible for something like this to happen in their country. What they fail to understand is that Iran is an example of exactly how successful this meticulous grab for power can be.

  • My father's generation in Iran lived in an environment in which the Islamist party of the country's clergy cunningly depicted themselves as intending no harm, supportive of the people, and not interested in power. So, before the revolution, many Iranians did not think that Khomeini's party would be committing the atrocities that they are committing now or that they would have such an unrelenting hunger for power. Instead, during this time, the country thought it was on a smooth path towards democracy, with no expectation of ever returning to a barbaric era. Even the then-US President Jimmy Carter viewed Khomeini as a good religious holy man.
  • Iranians did not just submit to these new laws; they rose up in protest. This uprising was met with torture, rape, and death. With the regime eager to wipe any who dared to resist, the people had no choice but to surrender. Everyone's daily activities were now under the scrutiny of the Islamists.
  • Many will still think it is impossible for something like this to happen in their country. What they fail to understand is that Iran is an example of exactly how successful this meticulous grab for power can be. Islamists in other countries including the West are pursuing the same techniques on the path to seizing power. It is a quiet, and subtle process, until the moment you wake up with no rights, a culture of fear, and no promise that you will live in freedom or even to see the next day.
In Iran, my generation, the first after Islamism came to power, is called the Burnt Generation (Persian: Nasl-e Sukhteh). Our generation earned this name for having to endure the brutality of the Islamist and theocratic regime from the time we were born, to adulthood. This brutality included the regime's merciless efforts, such as mass executions, to establish its power, impose its barbaric and restrictive rules, and brainwash children and indoctrinate the younger generation with its extremist ideology through various methods including elementary schools, universities, state-controlled media outlets, imams and local mosques, and promoting chants such as "Death to America" and "Death to Israel".

Women and men were segregated. Teenagers were prevented from performing daily activities considered harmless by most of the world. Any kind of enjoyable social activities were barred, including listening to music, dancing, drinking, dating, women participating in a chess championship unless you were wearing a hijab or attending a football match or other sporting event if men were playing in it. If it made you smile, if it gave you hope, it was probably against the law, such as what could be worn, whom you were allowed to talk to, what you could listen to, and whether or not you pray or fast during Ramadan. Even the most personal and private issues became the business of the regime's forces.

The main purpose of these restrictions and the intense control of the people, especially youths, was for the regime to expand its Islamist agenda domestically and abroad. These laws were enforced with cruel and violent punishments such as public flogging along with the threat of even more dire consequences, including stoning, public hanging and amputations. My generation was raised in an atmosphere of terror. While the rest of the world became more modern and developed, we were left to grapple with following Islamist laws and restrictions that were impossible to obey.

My generation in Iran should be seen as a lesson for the West. Almost every state (and non-state actors) underestimated the power that these Islamists could wield. Warning signs were overlooked. No one believed that such a massive change could occur and be enforced. Many underestimated the crimes that these Islamists were willing to commit to maintain their power once they came into control. To this day, they continue to prove that there are no limits to the cruelty and lack of humanity that they will engage in, such as conducting mass executions, executing children and pregnant women, stoning, amputations, public hanging, flogging, torture, and rape just to maintain this power.

Jahangir Razmi's Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of the execution of Kurdish men and others by the Iranian Islamic regime in 1979.

Many underestimated the smooth-talking strategy that these Islamists were using for decades to seize power. The radical group of Ayatollah Khomeini deceived many Iranians and the international community into believing that they were peaceful and divine people. Once they had power, the truth was revealed; by then it was too late to prevent the abuse that unfolded.

My father's generation in Iran lived in an environment in which the Islamist party of the country's clergy cunningly depicted themselves as intending no harm, supportive of the people, and not interested in power. So, before the revolution, many Iranians did not think that Khomeini's party would be committing the atrocities that they are committing now or that they would have such an unrelenting hunger for power.

Instead, the country thought it was on a smooth path towards democracy, with no expectation of returning to a barbaric era. Even then-US President Jimmy Carter viewed Khomeini as a good religious holy man. According to recently declassified documents, the Carter administration even paved the way for Khomeini to return to Iran. Many internationally known scholars such as Michelle Foucault thought highly of the Islamic revolution. Foucault's enthusiasm can be seen in his articles in European newspapers, written right before and after the revolution.

They portrayed themselves as leaders of the people, as spiritual and peaceful. However, once the Islamists rose to the top, all hell broke loose. As soon as they had a stranglehold on the country, they shifted gears to become one of the most ruthless regimes in history. Once in power, their true face was revealed; at that point, there was no way to turn back.

Thousands upon thousands of people were executed simply for voicing their opinion. Many also died for crimes they likely did not commit. The Islamic law (sharia) of the ruling Shiite party was imposed on everyone. Women were forced to wear a hijab and were stripped of their rights. They could no longer leave the country without the permission of their husbands. A women could not work in any occupation if her husband did not agree to it. Women's testimony in court, under sharia, is worth half a man's testimony. Women are banned from pursuing certain educational fields or occupations, such as being judges. Women are prohibited from entering sports stadiums or watching men's sports. Women are entitled to receive half as much inheritance as their brothers or other male relatives.

Many were shocked that this political party, which spoke about the religion of peace, would do such things. Iranians, however, did not just submit to these new laws; they rose up in protest. This uprising was met with torture, rape, and death. With the regime eager to wipe out anyone who dared to resist, the people had no choice but to surrender. Everyone's daily activities were now under the scrutiny of the Islamists.

In a four month period, some 30,000 political prisoners were hanged simply for suspected loyalties to anti-theocratic resistance groups, mainly the PMOI -- incidents largely ignored by media outlets.

These are only few examples of the Islamists' atrocities that took hold of a once thriving and modernizing country. Information about their crimes against humanity would fill several books. As bad as you may think all this is, you must understand that the reality is far, far worse. The Islamist Republic of Iran, according to Human Rights Watch, became the world leader in executing children. The legal age for girls to marry was reduced to 9. Women needed the approval of their parents to marry, and girls could not object to their guardian's decision in marrying them off.

It may be hard to believe that such a murderous force could come into power so easily and fast. What is important to understand is that the Islamists and their followers work covertly in a society for decades to deceive the people and reach the top. Iran's was a meticulously planned takeover that no one saw coming. The Islamists' willingness to be patient to complete their control of the society cannot be underestimated.

Despite openly reading about all this, many will still think it is impossible for something like this to happen in their country. What they fail to understand is that Iran is an example of exactly how successful this meticulous grab for power can be.

Seeing these shrewd and calculating strategies, Islamists in other countries including the West are pursuing the same techniques on the path to seizing power. It is a quiet, subtle process, until the moment you wake up with no rights, a culture of fear, and no promise that you will live in freedom or even to see the next day.

Now, those Islamists, whom almost everyone made light of, have not only been in power for almost four decades; they have expanded their expansionist ideology to other nations and taken first prize as being the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism and among its leading executioners.

This is a history lesson that Western and non-Islamist countries cannot afford to ignore. It is not just about history; it is about what can happen at any moment, in any country. It is about what is happening right now, beneath our noses -- in East Asia, Canada, South America and Europe. The only defense is to recognize it and confront it at its roots, before it has the opportunity to woo your politicians. Once they worry more about their popularity with voters than about the future of the country you are electing them to run, you are done. Once there is control of the ballot box, there will be more and more control over every aspect of your life, destroying any future you had planned and leaving the country you once had loved in ruins.
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Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu


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German Activist Has Her Eyes Opened About Muslim Refugees - Mark Tapson

by Mark Tapson

“Those people who ate with me, drank, danced, laughed – they talk about me as ‘stupid German whore’.”

The must-read Vlad Tepes blog posted a lengthy but fascinating interview recently with a German artist, activist for the rights of indigenous peoples, and UN advisor Rebecca Sommer, posted by the Polish website EuroIslam.

As Vlad Tepes notes, "Rebecca used to support Muslim 'refugees' in Germany, and describes how her experience made her gradually change her mind over core issues." That's putting it mildly. Sommer's experiences were eye-opening enough that she is now unafraid to declare truths about Islamic mass migration that are unacceptable to the European elites who insist on accelerating their countries toward cultural suicide.

Among some of her revelations:
  • I have tried to justify these constantly repeated patterns of behavior and thinking, their way of perceiving the world – which are based on their religion, Islam, and their culture – for example, in such a way that they are new here. I believed that these medieval views would change over time. I placed great trust in our libertarian, equitable European values, and I naively thought that every person must delight in them and take them on.
  • I had to admit to myself that when it comes to Muslim refugees, they have grown up with completely different values, into which they have been brainwashed and are indoctrinated by Islam, and have no intention of adopting our values – worse, they look at us, unbelievers with superiority and arrogance.
  • It turned out that those people who dealt with everything who ate with me, drank, danced, laughed, did not pray, did not go to the mosque, did not observe Ramadan, mocked religion and deeply religious people, they, all while eating my food and sitting in my garden, they don’t talk about me other than “a stupid German whore”.
  • This freedom is very precious and very fragile, if we think about how many people are arriving here all of a sudden, with their “scarf in the head” [their Islamic mindset] and just because of their numbers everything changes here. We see it now. I became very cautious and extremely distrustful. I believe that those who really do not need asylum with us should seek asylum or seek a better life in Muslim countries, instead of trying to force their medieval values over us and over time simply hurt us all.
  • In a Muslim marriage, we have a lot of violence and rape. A woman has no human value, she is perceived as a sexual object and not as a partner. She is a worker and a birthing machine. This is her job as a good Muslim woman. Just like most Muslims don’t respect us, they don’t respect their own women.
  • Thanks to the existence of taqqiya Muslims are free from any responsibility towards the unbeliever – this is my warning for women who deal with them! But also especially for our politicians who enter into agreements with Islamic unions – no oath, even in the name of Allah, matters because of taqqiya, because Allah has dispensed his faithful from oaths towards unbelievers.
  • The sexual molesting of volunteers happens all the time, but none of us has ever reported such a case to the police because none of us wanted to be seen as an opponent of refugees and cause problems for the center.
  • Then there was a very unpleasant surprise when a friendly – until now – immigrant dragged her by her hair into the bathroom at the moment when she wanted to say goodbye. He cannot understand that she wants to go now, because why did the “whore” come alone to his room?
  • The courts here are rather leftist. Many judges are pro-immigrant and there are cases where immigrants and Germans with a migratory background receive a “cultural and religious bonus” and are favored. Among them are also female judges and I consider them particularly bad – women who are against women.
  • I am afraid that in the next election, in four years, we can see a new phenomenon – Muslims will establish their party and because they already have a large electorate, they will become unstoppable. With the help of the left wing and almost all parties, they will begin to change the rules and we will be the ones who will have to adapt.
It's worth reading the entire thing and sharing with anyone whose eyes are still closed to the threat of importing huge numbers of people into the West with values aggressively opposed to ours. Read it all here.

Mark Tapson is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and the editor of


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The art of the possible - Ariel Bolstein

by Ariel Bolstein

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-Charles Bensoussan

The Kremlin knows Iran has the power to throw the entire Middle East into general chaos, and it has many reasons to fear such a scenario

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Donald 
Trump attend a summit in Vietnam in Nov. 2017
Photo: AP 

Israel's diplomatic standing is steadily improving in many regions of the world. But one of the country's greatest diplomatic achievements is the turnaround in ties with Russia.

Russia is not an ideal partner. Far from it. Its conduct in the global arena is often characterized by aggression, and what Russia perceives as its national interests often contradicts the fundamental values of Western civilization. But politics, particularly international politics, require players to be skilled in the art of the possible.

Israel can't pick and chose the superpowers that exert their influence and weight in the Middle East. The only thing Israel can do is to open channels of communication with the superpowers that clearly do have influence. That is precisely what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has done so successfully. But much like a game of chess, it is not enough to identify the possible – players must also determine the path to the possible and overcome many obstacles on the way to achieving it. Only true grandmasters achieve this goal, and when it comes to relations with Russia, Netanyahu has indeed displayed the characteristics of a grandmaster.

Over the last 10 years, Israel's relationship with Russia has changed unrecognizably. The frequency of the meetings between the countries' respective leaders, the positive atmosphere surrounding these meetings, and even the absence of media leaks regarding the agreements or disagreements therein, all attest to the seriousness of the relations.

The intensive exchanges, including meetings between security chiefs and military commanders, point to a significant upgrade in the understandings between the two countries. The personal chemistry between the countries' to leaders has also helped. There are not many foreign leaders who enjoy true respect from the Kremlin. Netanyahu is one of this select few.

Let us not kid ourselves, though. Barring any far-reaching permutations in the region, Russia is not about to become Israel's ally. In facing off with the U.S., Russia has opted for a strategy that has sent it into tactical alliances with Iran, Venezuela, North Korea and other undesirables. Additionally, the Russians are determined not to abandon their age-old allies – from the Soviet era – the Palestine Liberation Organization and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In the face of these challenges, everything that has been achieved so far is quite admirable. Ever since Russia entered the Syrian quagmire, Israel has succeeded in translating its military might, and its other assets, into diplomatic power, allowing Israel to strike understandings with Russia to protect mutual interests. In practice, this has ensured Israel's complete freedom to take action in Syria. So while the Russians may have claimed Syria as their territory, the IDF has not been forced out.

As a result, Israel has been free to strike targets in Syria whenever it saw fit, and the Russians never made a peep. Even after Israel's multiple strikes deep within Syria on Saturday, in response to an Iranian drone that breached Israeli air space, Moscow didn't go any further than making a toothless plea to honor Syrian sovereignty, which, in diplomacy speak, means go ahead and protect your interests, but try not to harm ours in the process.

So while Russia is not Israel's ally, it respects Israel's interests. Anyone who fails to see the enormity of this achievement – Israel's ability to maintain its freedom of action in Syria – simply doesn't understand Russia's nature or Israel's natural limitations when it comes to relations with this superpower.

At the start, the playing field was not favorable for Israel. Ever since his ascent to power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has gradually intensified Russia's resistance to the policies of the U.S. and its allies in almost every arena. He fortified his rule, which often resembles a monarchy, and set out to restore the greatness of the former Soviet Union.

Israel shouldn't be too eager to see the Soviet Union restored. The Soviet Union was an arch-enemy of Zionism. But still, while anti-Western sentiments are rapidly taking hold in the Russian population and certainly in the Russian government, Israel has managed to make itself the exception, evading Russian hostility.

Among most of the Russia population, the U.S. is perceived as a clear enemy, but Israel is not. Furthermore, Israel enjoys this special status without having had to mar its existing relationships with the objects of Russia's objections, which have been leading the charge against Russia as well. On the contrary, the Russia media often notes that Netanyahu is the only world leader that has the ear of both Putin and U.S. President Donald Trump. This unique position gives Netanyahu a lot of leverage.

The big question now is whether Israel has taken full advantage of what its relationship with Russia has to offer. Is it possible to persuade Russia to align even more closely with Israeli interests, particularly in curbing Iran's aggressive aspirations?

The Russians don't have an abundance of partners, so they are in no rush to let go of their alliance with the Iranians. Without the land forces Tehran sent to Syria, the Russians would have never succeeded in turning the war around and salvaging the Assad regime, which was headed for a near-certain fall.

Even after Russia declared "victory" a number of times, and thinned its own presence in Syria, it still relies heavily on Iran's forces. Perhaps the Russians are starting to understand that in the Middle East, the real trouble comes when you declare a victory, and that without the Iranians they don't stand a chance of imposing their will on Syria.

On top of that, there is also the financial aspect. Iran is a substantial commercial partner for Russia, and Russia's hopes of tapping Syria's energy reserves (as a way of compensating itself for the massive investment in the war there) will never materialize without Iran's approval.

However, it would be a mistake to infer that the Russia's and Iran's interests don't overlap. Their alliance rests on immediate gains rather than ideological kinship. During the few years that they have been collaborating in the Syrian civil war, they have had quite a few disagreements. For example, when the Russians drafted a constitution for a future federal Syria state, it was met with immediate resistance, not just from Assad but also from Iran. Tehran objected to the idea of federalization or granting autonomy to this or that territory within Syria, and the hostile response was an embarrassment for the Russians.

Moreover, Moscow understands that Iranian adventurism could drag the entire region into a general clash, which could deprive the Russians of their Syrian loot while bringing the U.S. into the mix in full force. Such a scenario would completely undo all of Putin's gains in the Middle Eastern front, and therefore, the Kremlin has every reason to be wary.

Keep in mind that despite Russia's ambition, and despite that fact that it sees itself as a "first fiddle" in the rapidly changing world, the Russians still lag far behind the U.S. in every practical parameter, starting with the economy (the U.S.'s GDP is 10 times that of Russia) and ending with military power.

The Russians' goal is still as it always was, to restore the country's former glory. And perhaps this is the key to distancing them from the ayatollahs. Russia would consider abandoning Iran only if whatever they are offered as an alternative contains the ultimate temptation – recognition of Russia as a superpower. Such a change can only be effected by one man, and his name is Donald Trump. 

Ariel Bolstein


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Abu Dis-information - Nadav Shragai

by Nadav Shragai

The Palestinians call the offer of an alternative capital in the village of Abu Dis, east of Jerusalem, the "slap of the century," conveniently overlooking the fact that they rejected much more generous offers made by previous Israeli governments.

Abu Dis could have been the Palestinians' point of entry to the 
Temple Mount
Photo: Moshe Shai

The abandoned Palestinian parliament building in Abu Dis is 2.8 kilometers (1.7 miles) east of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City. The Knesset is the same distance west of the holy site.

Back when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was serving as deputy to PLO founder Yasser Arafat, Abu Dis was known as "the second Jerusalem," a temporary substitute before the anticipated permanent division of the city. At the time, Abbas was willing to swallow this bitter pill, and even see Abu Dis decked out with various Palestinian government institutions.

But today the Trump administration is trying to put Abu Dis back on the table as part of the "deal of the century," and Abbas is denigrating it as the "slap of the century."

The penny dropped for Abbas when he met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman in December. In that meeting, he heard for the first time that U.S. President Donald Trump was offering the Palestinians Abu Dis instead of Jerusalem as their capital. That was when Abbas decided to hand the current White House its walking papers, which he did a month later.

Abbas sees the proposal as embarrassing, not to say humiliating. After two Israeli prime ministers – Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert – put the division of Jerusalem on the table (Barak at Camp David in 2000 and Olmert in 2008), the offer of Abu Dis as a capital comes a little too late. Jerusalem was nearly in their grasp, and now someone is pushing them back in time.

It is unclear who gave the Americans the idea to revert to the Abu Dis option. What is clear is that the village's not-very-distant-past status as an alternative to Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, especially Abbas' place in that option, gave the Americans grounds to assume they should give it another try.

Twenty years ago, Abbas and Israeli former minister Yossi Beilin worked together to draft their famous document of "understandings." It was not an agreement, merely an unofficial document that sketched out parameters for a permanent peace deal. When it came to Jerusalem, the two suggested expanding the city and establishing an umbrella municipality that would be managed by two sub-municipalities: Jewish Jerusalem and Arab Al-Quds.

Abu Dis was given a prominent place in these understandings. Israelis were already calling it "the second Jerusalem." The Palestinians saw it as another rung on the ladder but began treating it as an alternative, temporary seat of government. They set up a number of Palestinian governmental entities there: the headquarters of the Palestinian security establishment; local government offices; and the crown jewel, a five-story parliament building with an opulent 132-seat hall for the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and roomy offices – never occupied – for the heads of the PLO and the Palestinian parliament.

But fate has a sense of humor: The Palestinian parliament building was built on land owned by the Jewish National Fund, a third of which lies within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, but Israel ignored that. The JNF land, along with another 450 dunams (112 acres) of Jewish-owned land purchased by residents of the Mea Shearim neighborhood 90 years ago, remains outside Israel's security barrier, which divided Abu Dis into two unequal sections based on the municipal boundaries established in 1967. Ninety percent of the town was transferred to the civil control of the Palestinian Authority and classed as Area B (jointly administered by the Palestinian Authority and Israel) and only 10% is still within the borders of Jerusalem and the Green Line.

The potential heirs of the land tried to fight for their right to it, but quickly gave up as Palestinians claimed most of the Jewish-owned land in Abu Dis for the purpose of building an Islamic college.

On the Israeli side of Abu Dis, some 60 dunams (15 acres) of the land originally bought by the people of Mea Shearim remain. Jewish financier Irving Moskowitz purchased some of it and housed eight Jewish families there. For 15 years, they have been living on the Jewish side of Abu Dis, in an area relatively sparsely populated by Arabs. For years, the families have been waiting in vain for the implementation of the Kidmat Zion (Advancement of Zion) plan, which calls for the building of 300 housing units on the Jewish land of Abu Dis. The plan is stalled in the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee, as per orders from the political echelon and American pressure.

The main reason the plan is frozen is the Trump administration's decision to reintroduce the Abu Dis option. Even before the Beilin-Abbas understandings, Abu Dis was part of a peace plan that international officials and various Israeli governments had seriously considered that would create a safe "corridor" under Palestinian sovereignty that would connect the Jericho area to the Temple Mount. The corridor would consist of a road, a tunnel, and possibly even a bridge, and Abu Dis was to be its eastern entry point and safe crossing point for Palestinians going to Al-Aqsa mosque. One of the earlier versions of the plan even floated the possibility that the corridor would fall under Saudi or Jordanian sovereignty.

When Barak won government in 1999, he tried to give Abu Dis to the Palestinians and make it part of Area A, under full Palestinian control. Spiritual mentor to the Shas party Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Ariel Sharon worked together and managed to torpedo that move. Events played into their hands: A day before the territory was supposed to have been handed over to the Palestinians, a wave of violence that foreshadowed the Second Intifada broke out. Then-Labor and Social Welfare Minister Eli Yishai suggested that Barak hold off a few days on transferring the territory to the Palestinians, and the temporary hold became permanent. Abu Dis is still part of Area B.

Nineteen years later, the Palestinians' demonstrated offense at the attempt to reintroduce the idea of Abu Dis as their capital throws two issues into sharp relief: First, there is apparently zero chance of implementing the idea as long as Abbas is in power, and second, the gap between the Abu Dis plan and the far-reaching concessions that Barak and Olmert were prepared to make on Jerusalem is immense. The Palestinians have yet to realize that in the era of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the parameters have changed.

In 2000, the Barak government agreed in principle to a framework plan proposed by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, who suggested handing the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem over to the Palestinian Authority and leaving the Jewish neighborhoods (including those built after the 1967 Six-Day War) under Israeli sovereignty and control. Eight years later, a mere five days before he resigned as prime minister, Olmert showed Abbas a map of his plan to divide Jerusalem. The map, like the Clinton framework plan, split up Jewish and Arab neighborhoods and divided the oversight of the cradle of holiness – including the Old City – between five countries: Israel, the U.S., Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and a future Palestinian state.

Olmert hoped Abbas would accept the plan. He planned to present it immediately for approval by the U.N. Security Council, the European Union, and both houses of the U.S. Congress, then sign it at the White House. But Abbas rejected the most generous plan any Israeli leader had ever offered.

Now that the idea of Abu Dis as the Palestinian capital has been raised again, Abbas is using it to serve two purposes: as a way of goading the U.S. as part of his face-off with Trump after the president in December recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and as a measure showing how far the Palestinians of today have moved away from the idea after rejecting much more generous offers from Barak and Olmert.

Nadav Shragai


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Waking up to the Iranian threat - David M. Weinberg

by David M. Weinberg

The coverage of the events on the Syrian border last weekend exposed a dangerous trend: the tendency of Western observers to ignore the root of so much evil in the region – Iran.

Perusing global media coverage of the sharp skirmish on Israel's northern border last weekend, I was struck by the fact that few outlets focused on the Iranian aggression that sparked it. Instead, the story was played out as a clash between Israel and Syria.

This is a serious error in analysis that belies a deeper and more dangerous trend: the tendency of Western observers to ignore the root of so much evil in the region – Iran.

In fact, it continually surprises me that public figures, visiting Israel from North America and Europe, are truly not aware of the scope of Iranian muckraking and troublemaking in the region. Generally, they know that there are bad actors at play here, from al-Qaida and ISIS to Hezbollah, but they don't have a comprehensive picture of Iranian belligerence and ambition, or the transformative tectonic threat to regional stability posed by Iran.

If anything, they often think that the JCPOA (the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran) has shunted concerns about Iran to the back burner, and that the ayatollahs are now placidly focusing on rebuilding their society and economy.

But of course, nothing could be further from the truth. The Islamic republic of Iran is on an aggressive march across the Middle East, presenting significant security challenges to Israel and to moderate Sunni Arab countries while also challenging Western interests. Iran does not hide its overarching revolutionary ambitions: to export its brand of radical Islamism globally, to dominate the region and to destroy Israel.

So for the purposes of briefing those who haven't been paying sufficient attention, here is a summary of the treacherous Iranian record.

Iran is carving out a corridor of control – a Shiite land bridge – stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea, including major parts of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, under the control of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force, various Shiite militias and the Hezbollah organization. This corridor gives Iran a broad strategic base for aggression across the region.

Iran is establishing air and naval bases on the Mediterranean and Red seas,  especially in Syria, in order to project regional power. It has also stepped up its harassment of international shipping and Western naval operations in the Persian Gulf.

Iran is inserting militia forces into many regional conflicts, including its backing of the Houthi rebels in the Yemeni civil war. It seeks control of the Horn of Africa and the entrance to the Red Sea – a critical strategic chokepoint on international shipping.

Iran is fomenting subversion in Middle Eastern counties that are Western allies, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. It is particularly focused on destabilizing the Hashemite regime in Jordan in order to gain access to Israel's longest border (its border with Jordan) and from there to penetrate Israel's heartland.

Iran is arming guerrilla armies on Israel's northern border (Hezbollah), southern border (Hamas and Islamic Jihad), and terrorist undergrounds in the West Bank. It has equipped Hezbollah with an arsenal of over 150,000 missiles and rockets aimed at Israel, and supplied Hamas with the arms and rockets that fueled three military confrontations with Israel over the past decade.

Iran is sponsoring terrorism against Western, Israeli and Jewish targets around the world, including unambiguous funding, logistical support, planning and personnel for terrorist attacks that span the globe, from Buenos Aires to Burgas. Iran maintains an active terrorist network of proxies, agents and sleeper cells worldwide.

Iran is building a long-term nuclear military option, under the cover of the 2015 nuclear deal, an agreement which expires within a decade and which legitimizes Iranian uranium enrichment and advanced nuclear research as it sunsets.

Iran is developing a formidable long-range missile arsenal of great technological variability, including solid and liquid propellant ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The latest Iranian missile, called the Khorramshahr, seems to be based on the North Korean BM25 missile with a range of 3,500 km. The Iranian ballistic missile program is in violation of United Nations Security Council prohibitions.

Iran is threatening Israel with war and eventual destruction. Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei regularly refers to Israel as a cancerous tumor in the Middle East that must be removed, and speaks of the complete liberation of Palestine (meaning the destruction of Israel) through holy jihad.

Israel and Iran have essentially been at war, indirectly, since the early 1980s (when Hezbollah was established). But now Iranian generals and military forces have camped on Israel's border with Syria and shifted to direct and open military confrontation with Israel. Last weekend, the Iranian military launched a drone from Syria on a spy mission into Israel, and was said to command the anti-aircraft batteries that subsequently fired on Israeli jets (and hit a $50 million F-16 fighter jet – the first Israeli jet felled by enemy fire in 30 years).

With the weakening of ISIS, the growing strength of Russia in Syria, and the continuing retraction of American involvement in the region – Iran apparently feels emboldened enough to escalate its confrontation with Israel.

Iran is also confident enough to continue to oppress its own people, with no regard for human rights or true free speech. It had no problem putting down  the anti-corruption protests that erupted this winter, and the ayatollahs continue to hunt down and assassinate critics of the regime abroad as well.

Time to pay attention to the grave Iranian threat to us all.

David M. Weinberg is vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, His personal website is


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Trump Stares Down Putin In Syria - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

But the left still desperately clings to the discredited Russia collusion narrative.

On February 7, a large pro-Assad force of battalion-sized strength, equipped with tanks, rocket launchers and artillery approached a base housing U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the Deir-Ezzor region, and opened fire. The force was approximately 5 miles east of the so-called de-confliction line before mounting the attack. The offensive represented an attempt by the Russian-backed regime of Bashar Assad to secure areas that are currently not under regime control.

United States military advisers operate alongside the SDF, which was initially formed primarily to fight ISIS. The defeat of ISIS has made this anti-Assad force useful as a bulwark against Iranian expansion in Syria. After warnings to disengage went unheeded, the U.S. responded with overwhelming force to break up the attack. Air power and artillery were used to good effect. The force immediately turned tail and ran off without further interference by U.S. fighters.

According to U.S. sources, at least 100 pro-regime soldiers were killed and an additional 200 to 300 were injured. This wasn’t the first time the U.S. employed military force to thwart regime aggression in Syria. In June 2017, a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 after the latter dropped bombs on SDF positions, and U.S. airpower had been employed in the past to breakup menacing Syrian convoys approaching the de-confliction line. Moreover, just one week after the Deir-Ezzor engagement, a U.S. unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) blasted a Russian-made T-72 battle tank operating near Al Tabiyeh in Syria. The tank had been firing on SDF positions. The fate of its crew and their respective nationalities were not known.

But the February 7, incident was markedly different in scope and has far greater ramifications than the other engagements. According to multiple Russian sources familiar with the incident, at least 200 and possibly as many as 300 Russian and pro-Russian Ukrainians were killed in the U.S. strikes. They were mercenary contract workers, employed by a shadowy outfit called Wagner, the Russian equivalent of Blackwater. Some of the Ukrainians had been doing Russia’s bidding in eastern Ukraine before they were shipped off to Syria.  

According to a report in Bloomberg News, they were hired by Assad or his allies to guard Syria’s energy assets. The Deir-Ezzor region is an oil-rich area and the likelihood is the Russian force was making an effort to seize oil-rich regions in the vicinity on behalf of the regime. These mercenaries may have also been hired directly by Russia to do their dirty work. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman released a statement that made no mention of Russian mercenaries but condemned the American action in harsh terms and claimed that 25 Syrian fighters were injured. The Defense Ministry termed the U.S. military presence as “illegal” and accused the U.S. of “attempting to seize [Syrian] assets.” In a blatant display of abject hypocrisy, the Assad regime, which used sarin and other forms of poison gas against its own people, called the U.S. action “barbaric,” and a “war crime.”

We also cannot discount the possibility that these Russian mercenaries were bankrolled by the Iranians. Flush with $1.7 billion in cash ($400 million of which was ransom for the release of U.S. hostages illegally seized by Iran) as well as billions more in sanctions relief, compliments of Obama, the Iranians have been funding and sustaining numerous proxy armies across the region including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Houthis in Yemen and multiple proxy militias in Iraq. In addition, Iran has also recruited willing Shia mercenaries from impoverished failed states like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The U.S maintains two primary interests in Syria. The first, the defeat of ISIS, has largely been accomplished. Unlike his predecessor Obama, Trump made the defeat of ISIS a priority and adopted a robust approach toward accomplishing this goal. Trump accomplished in one year what Obama could not accomplish in three.

The second goal is to prevent further Iranian entrenchment and expansion in Syria. In an absurd effort to curry favor with the mullahs, Obama turned a blind eye toward their nefarious regional activities and even considered them allies in the fight against ISIS. Trump however, is under no illusions about the malignant nature of the Islamic Republic. Shia and Sunni extremism pose equal dangers to Western civilization.

Trump’s approach toward Iran places him squarely at odds with Vladimir Putin, who regards the Iranians as indispensable allies in Syria. The death of at least 200 Russian contract mercenaries has almost certainly further heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia. Nevertheless, Trump, by both word and deed has made clear that the U.S. will act to preserve its own interests in Syria regardless of any friction it may cause with Putin.

Notwithstanding Trump’s hardline approach toward Moscow in Syria and the impending imposition of new sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 elections, Democrats led by oleaginous propagandists like Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi, and their allies in the Trump-hating establishment media continue to peddle the discredited narrative that Trump is Putin’s stooge. Their entire argument rests on a fully discredited, Russian-sourced dossier compiled by a shady ex-British intelligence agent and Hillary Clinton’s infamous “Black Ops” hack, Sidney Blumenthal. It should be clear to all that if anyone is Putin’s stooge, it’s Adam Schiff & Company.  

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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Israel’s police joins the political opposition to topple Netanyahu - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

Lawmakers accused the police of abusing their power to carry out criminal investigations to conduct a spurious investigation of Netanyahu for the sole purpose of -- replacing him with a leader who is more to their liking.

milchan lapid

Foreign observers may have a hard time squaring Benjamin Netanyahu’s international stature as a statesman with his suddenly vulnerable position at home.

Abroad, both those that hate the Israeli prime minister and those that admire him view him as a successful leader. His diplomatic skills have transformed Israel from an international pariah, at the mercy of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the international left, to a rising star on the international scene.

Economically, Netanyahu is credited worldwide with shepherding Israel from a sclerotic socialist backwater in the early 1990s into a first world economy and a global leader in innovation and technological advancement.

In the context of these extraordinary achievements, and as Israel faces mounting security challenges from Iran in Syria, Lebanon and Gaza — challenges amplified last Saturday with the violent clashes between Iran and the Syrian military and Israel — the police’s sudden announcement that they recommend indicting Netanyahu for bribery seems incongruous.

But as Tip O’Neill, the late, long-serving Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, famously said, “all politics is local.”

This truth was borne out in spades on Tuesday night in Israel, when the Israeli police announced that they are recommending that Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit indict Netanyahu on two counts of bribery and two counts of breach of trust in two separate investigations.

The reason these events are happening is because Netanyahu is hated by Israel’s entrenched elites, who benefited most from the way things used to be. And they would like very much to unseat him and replace him with someone who would change the direction of Israel’s foreign, defense and economic policies.

To be sure, there would be nothing untoward or inappropriate about a police investigation of a sitting prime minister if the suspicions were of significant seriousness to warrant endangering the stability of Israel’s political leadership.

But the cases for which Netanyahu has been investigated, and for which the police now recommend his indictment, are not serious. Indeed, officials at the Israeli justice ministry blasted the police Wednesday in conversations with reporters. According to Hadashot news, justice ministry attorneys say the police “inflated the balloon” of suspicions against Netanyahu to its bursting point, and that the investigation reports the police submitted do not support their conclusions.

So why did the police rush to announce their conclusions? Why did they time the release of their recommendations to the start of the primetime news broadcasts on Tuesday night?

Likud lawmakers Wednesday accused investigators of trying to carry out a coup. Specifically, the lawmakers accused the police of abusing their power to carry out criminal investigations to conduct a spurious investigation of Netanyahu for the sole purpose of overthrowing him and replacing him with a leader who is more to their liking.

For their part, the police are doing nothing to dispel the notion that they are behaving not as dispassionate crime-stoppers but as adjuncts of political forces. The police’s star witness in one of the probes is Netanyahu’s chief political challenger for the premiership, Yair Lapid. Lapid, Netanyahu’s former finance minister, is the leader of the center-left Yesh Atid party, which has been polling in second place behind the Likud for more than a year.

Lapid’s conflicts of interests with Netanyahu, with the police, and with the other principle suspects in the case — businessman Arnon Milchan and newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes — are legion.

Furthermore, Lapid recently brought Yoav Segalovich — the retired police superintendent and the head of the police’s investigations and intelligence department — into his party.

In addition, police spokeswoman Deputy Superintendent Merav Lapidot served as Lapid’s spokeswoman when he was finance minister, and has publically supported him politically and disparaged Netanyahu.

Moreover, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich exposed his personal hatred and betrayed his desire to see Netanyahu thrown from office in a scandalous interview last Wednesday on Israel’s top rated television news magazine, Uvda.

Lapid is the central witness in what the police have dubbed Case 1000, which involves allegations that Netanyahu and his wife Sara received exorbitant gifts from Hollywood movie producer and Israeli businessman Arnon Milchan, and in exchange intervened on his behalf in multiple instances. For example, Netanyahu asked then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to renew Milchan’s residency visa to the US.

In his testimony to police, Lapid alleged that in 2013, during his tenure as finance minister in Netanyahu’s government, Netanyahu had two conversations with him where he told Lapid that he supported an amendment to Israel’s income tax law that Milchan was trying to advance.

In 2008, the government of then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert government passed a law through the Knesset that gave tax exemption on global income and an exemption on reporting on global income for a period of ten years for new immigrants and returning Israeli expatriates.

In 2013, in two separate meetings, Milchan lobbied Lapid, a close friend, to back an amendment to the law that would extend the tax and reporting exemptions for another ten years.

Lapid told investigators that he told Milchan that he opposed his proposal. Notably, according to media reports, no one at the finance ministry remembers the meetings.

Lapid told police that after both meetings, Netanyahu called him up and told him that he thought Milchan’s proposal was a good idea and that it would increase immigration of high net worth individuals to Israel.

On the basis of these conversations, the police recommended that Attorney General indict Netanyahu for bribery.

(Lapid, for his part, was never the subject of a criminal probe for his friendship with Milchan.)

As for Mozes, the police allege that he offered Netanyahu a bribe whereby Netanyahu would help his newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, by working to curtail circulation and government advertising in Israel Hayom, a free daily owned by U.S. billionaire and Netanyahu supporter Sheldon Adelson. In exchange, Mozes allegedly offered to scale back his newspaper’s implacably hostile editorial line against Netanyahu.

Although Netanyahu never agreed to Mozes’s terms, and instead disbanded his government and went to early elections partly to protect Israel Hayom (see below), Lapid did everything he could to advance Mozes’s goal of expanding his paper’s market share by wiping out his chief competitor.

Lapid had a long history with Mozes. He worked for him as a columnist at Yediot Ahronot for decades. Lapid also launched his political career at a party Mozes threw for him.

In 2014, Lapid’s lawmakers were co-sponsors of a draft law referred to as the Israel Hayom law. The purpose of the law, which Yediot Ahronot’s lawyers helped to draft, was to shut down Israel Hayom. Half of his Knesset faction voted in favor of the law in a preliminary reading. It was in response to that preliminary reading, where the bill passed through the first of three formal readings with with 43 “yea” votes, that Netanyahu fired Lapid and two other faction heads in his government, disbanded the Knesset, and called for new elections barely a year after the 2013 elections.

And yet, neither Lapid – who enjoys overwhelmingly positive coverage in Yediot Ahronot – nor any of the members of his Knesset faction were ever investigated for their role in advancing Mozes’s agenda.

Watching this drama unfold, Israelis and foreigners alike are wondering how Netanyahu’s legal troubles will affect his ability to lead the country.

Given the political nature of the police’s actions, the answer is that Netanyahu will be able to continue to carry out his duties so long as he retains the support of his base of voters. So far, he is maintaining his voters’ support.

A poll conducted for Hadashot news Wednesday showed that the Likud gained a seat in a hypothetical Knesset election. Lapid’s Yesh Atid lost two seats.

But the police recommendations do hurt him. They hurt him by casting a shadow over his legitimacy. Over the coming months, that shadow can erode his support base.

And they hurt him because they place enormous pressure on the attorney general to indict him. Justice ministry officials reportedly believe that the police put them in an impossible situation. On the one hand, investigators exaggerated Netanyahu’s alleged misdeeds — and on the other hand, they didn’t provide the prosecutors with the evidence needed to sustain an indictment, let alone a conviction.

Netanyahu recently told associates that he can handle the criminal probes while leading the country because he is a multitasker. “When I went through the tests to serve in [my commando unit] in the IDF,” he said, “they were amazed at my score for multitasking. They had never seen a score that high,” he said.

Netanyahu’s multitasking skills – and mainly his political skills — are going to be tested as never before in the coming months, as he is called upon to satisfy his voters in a brutal political environment.

But what is clear enough is that so long as he is able to keep their support, there is no reason to expect a change in the general direction of Israel’s foreign, defense, or economic policies.

Originally published at

Caroline Glick


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