Friday, March 30, 2018

Are there Arabs who like Israel? The answer is a resounding yes - Dr. Mordechai Kedar

by Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Some are willing to talk in public, most are afraid to be identified, but a growing number of Arabs and Muslims see Israel as a country to be admired.

Usually, I present my readers with a most depressing picture of the Arab and Muslim worlds. I find it unavoidable because the troubles tearing apart those two worlds are beyond description –  the last seven years alone have witnessed hundreds of thousands of people killed, and millions of women, children and the elderly turned into homeless, destitute and suffering refugees. Despite the Middle East's enormous potential, its vast natural resources, panoramic vistas and unlimited opportunities, the entire region is in a state of pitiful collapse.

In the prevailing Middle Eastern discourse, the blame for all this chaos is placed squarely on the shoulders of one party – Israel, along with the colonialist regimes – mainly Britain and France – who brought the Jewish State into being. 

Placing the blame only on Israel is easy to do, for several reasons: 

a. It is easier for our neighbors to blame someone else for their terrible plight instead of taking a hard look at themselves in order to find the reasons for  their suffering; 

 b. Israel, neither Arab or Islamic, is considered an outsider in the region to begin with; 

c. Israel is the work of Satan, because Jews have no right to sovereignty and must be kept subjugated (with dhimmi status);

d. Israel gains the most from the surrounding chaos so it must have caused it to begin with, and 

e. Israel is successful while its neighbors are abject failures and therefore consumed by jealousy.

This anti-Israel stance is the rule in many of the populations making up the Middle East, and includes heads of state, subjects, the intelligentsia and  the ignorant, the religious and secular, elites and marginal persons, Muslims and members of other religions, Bedouin, villagers, rural folk and city dwellers. 

It has become "bon ton" to talk negatively about Israel all over  the Middle East, to the point where the Arabic word for normalization  of relations with Israel has become a vulgar and negative word in Middle East discourse.

Over the last few years, however, a parallel conversation has emerged, one that is free of the conventional way of talking about Israel and that Is often dramatically different. It is hard to nail down those who participate in it, some are educated and secular, some are ordinary citizens, others members of the ruling class or the opposition, they include the religious and non-religious, Muslims and members of other faiths. The main thing they have in common is the ability to free themselves from accepted conventions and swim against the tide, willing to face criticism and to deal with it.

It is important to note that the social media available at just about everyone's fingertips are the main force allowing pro-Israel conversation to reach the wider public's eyes and ears. Means of mass communication cannot be controlled completely by a government or any other entity, so they provide a public platform for people who wish to think independently and are not bound by the conventions surrounding them.

Just what are they saying? (Note: My comments are in parentheses, M.K.)

The first person quoted here is a Kuwaiti journalist named Abdallah Alhadlek. In an interview, he said:  "Whether we like it or not, Israel is a sovereign and independent state. It exists in reality, has a seat  at the UN, and most peace-loving nations have recognized it. There is, of course, a group of nations that have not come to terms with Israel's existence, but they are all despotic dictatorships." 

"Verse 21 in the Table Chapter of the Quran proves the Jewish right to the Holy Land: 'So says the exalted God: Moses said to his people: My nation go into the Holy Land that Allah granted you.' Accordingly, it is Allah who gave them the land and they did not steal it from anyone. In fact, the land was stolen by those who lived there before the Jews entered it. That is why I do not accept the outdated expressions like 'thieving entity' or 'Zionist entity.' 

"There is no Occupation, there is only a nation that returned to its promised land. The history of the Jews precedes Islam. As Muslims, it is our duty to recognize the right of the Jewish people to this land. In 1948, when Israel was established, there was no state called Palestine. There were people dispersed in different Arab countries, called Canaanites, Amalekites and by many other names."

Another example is a very interesting woman named Nonie Darwish. She stems from Egypt where her father was an Egyptian Intelligence officer stationed in Gaza. During the 1950s he would send fedayeen – today's terrorists – to attack Israel and murder, rob and destroy whatever they could get their hands on. One day Israel sent him the gift of a book which, when he opened it, exploded in his face and sent him to the place reserved in Hell for terrorists.

Noni understood that her father deserved the punishment he received for his cruelty to Israel and decided to leave Egypt, abandon Islam and convert to Christianity. Today she lives somewhere in the West and manages the ArabsForIsrael website. This is where she fights Islamic activities, the acceptance of Sharia law in Western countries, the culture of Jihad and where she speaks positively of Israel, its right to exist, defend itself and live in peace in its historic land. 

And despite what many Israeli Jews think, there are, among Israeli Arabs, those who see things differently and dare to utter their thoughts out loud. One of them is a young Muslim woman named Daima Taya, who appeared on a local Arab channel and told a hostile interviewer: "Israel is not an apartheid state, and anyone who says so should be ashamed of himself. You live in this country and have a blue identity card (like every other Israeli). You work, talk (as you wish), study (whatever you wish), become researchers, teachers, lawyers, leaders,  and live in a country that shows you respect." 

"Syria, Iraq, Egypt and all the other Arab countries – what have they done for their people? Israel is a democracy, and its Declaration of Independence states that it has  Druze, Muslim Arab and other minority groups. What is a democratic state? One that  respects its people, the people living in it, their right to lead their own religious lives, study, work, be elected, become judges, lawyers and MKs, to speak freely in the  Knesset on whatever subject they wish. (Israel) gives them the right to liberty and freedom. Just where do you find that (in the Arab world)? …I wish all the Arab states, Arab societies and citizens of Arab states the privilege to live in a democratic state like the State of Israel. I define myself as an Arab, a Muslim, I have Israeli citizenship, am proud of myself and of my religion, proud that I live in a state that respects me and grants me my rights…." 

Later, she added: "There is nothing perfect, nothing is 100%, go look at what is going on in the Arab world. Compared to that, Israel is just fine! And show me one Arab state where one can criticize the government!"

These are just examples of the pro-Israel opinions in the Arab world. Names such as Wafa Sultan, Bridget Gabriel, Sacar Alnablasi, Camal Govriel, Walid Shoebat and the Saudi Arabian Louis Alsherif are others, who have said things like:  "If Israel did not exist, the Arabs would have had to invent it" or "Israel does not fit in the Middle East because it is not a dictatorship, not a tribal state, not a clan-based state and not run by a military junta" and "The Arab world is not willing to accept Israel because Israel's head of state gets his bribes in envelopes and our rulers need boxes to transport their bribes" and "Arab and Israeli journalists have  something in common: Their governments allow them to malign Israel" and "Israel mirrors the Arabs – when they look at it they see the opposite of themselves."

There is much more to say about the few people who appear on Arab media and defend Israel. There is much more to say about those who do so secretly for fear of the reaction that would come from their surroundings. I myself am in contact with quite a few of these people, those who are out in the open and those who are afraid to reveal their identities.  

I am going to tell just one story. Every few weeks a group of 3-4 people phone me from somewhere in the Gaza Strip and beg me to tell Israel to re-conquer the region, because their lives are Hell since the day in 2007 when Hamas pushed out the PA to take control of Gaza. In the past they had worked in Israel, earned decent wages and provided for their families. Israel as a state and the Israeli people treated them well, showed them respect and usually paid them fair wages for their work.

When Hamas took over, they lost their jobs in Israel. Now only those who flatter Hamas manage to obtain some sort of employment and anyone not willing to sing Hamas' praise finds himself unemployed.  Work, however, is only a minor issue, because there is something much worse – the difference between Hamas' treatment of women and local girls and Israel's. The friends who phone me remember well that if it was necessary to do a security search on a woman at a checkpoint or other place while Israel controlled Gaza, the IDF would ensure that a policewoman or female soldier was called in to perform the search.  Not once did a male IDF soldier touch a local woman. Today the situation in that regard is simply horrible – if there is someone who has lost  favor in Hamas eyes, the Hamas men arrive at his house late at night in cars without license plates, break in with their faces masked, remove the men from the house and abuse the women and young girls left unprotected inside.

That is what makes all the difference. The Arabs themselves know the truth about Israel, how it treats its citizens. They know that those who malign and slander Israel, whether or not they have reason to do so, do not have truth on their side. Even those who support Israel realize that it is not perfect, that there is no perfect nation in the entire world. What Israel has, however, and none of its neighbors possesses, is the Israeli desire and intent to be decent, law abiding and moral, to respect human rights and respect  men and women. Israel does not wish to see dead and wounded Arabs. If its neighbors would only allow Israel to live in peace and tranquility, they would never find themselve attacked.

What is really important, though, is for us, the Israelis, to remember that not every Arabic speaker is an Israel-hater by definition. There are many people to be found in the Arab and Islamic world who accept Israel's existence from the start and not just after the fact, and believe in the right of Jews to live securely and tranquilly in the land of their forefathers. They also believe in Israel's right to defend itself and its citizens' lives, welfare and health.

That is the Arab tragedy: The modern Arab state appears in several places as its nation's own worst enemy, hated by its citizens, murdering its residents, denying their rights and stealing their property – while the head of state, its ruler, can best be described as "the liaison officer between his citizens and the World to Come." 

When such is the difference between Israel and its neighbors, is it any wonder that there is a not insignificant number of Arabs willing to accept Israel's right to exist and defend its citizens like any other nation in the world? Is there any way Israel can help them? Probably not, and they know this well. 

We can only wish them long, healthy and successful lives, as we wish all the people of Israel.

Written in Hebrew for Arutz Sheva, translated by Senior Consulting and Op-ed Editor Rochel Sylvetsky

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.


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The Palestinian statehood-demographic crisis dilemma - Gideon Sa'ar

by Gideon Sa'ar

For some reason, however, there are those among us who would rather rely on dubious statistics provided by the Palestinians that they purposely inflated.

I was reminded of the Yiddish saying "bubba maisa" (which translates into something like old wives tales) when I read the apocalyptic headlines this week warning that the number of Jews and Arabs in Israel were approaching parity, or perhaps already equal.

I specifically recalled a common trope that revolves around the stupidity of the inhabitants of Chelm, a Polish town of well-wishing fools who consider themselves enlightened. In reality, however, they consistently exacerbate problems by misunderstanding essential facts or create new problems by trying to fix that which is not broken. Just like the fools in these tales, those who use demographics to say "Keep out!" are not really interested in understanding the facts. The truth is we have never enjoyed a better demographic situation: Jewish fertility rates are constantly on the rise, having passed Arab fertility rates in 2017 in the whole country, including Judea and Samaria. Along with Jewish immigration to Israel, this means the Jewish majority will only grow in the future.

For some reason, however, there are those among us who would rather rely on dubious statistics provided by the Palestinians that they purposely inflated. In the Palestinian Authority's fake registry, for example, a Palestinian who has lived in Brazil for 20 years is counted. By the same token, we can easily count every Israeli that has emigrated, which would add some 600,000 or more.

The real question here is why are we even bothering to count the Palestinians living in territories from which we withdrew a generation ago that are no longer under our control? For Israel disconnected from the Palestinian population in two moves: establishing the PA in the 1990s through the Oslo Accords and unilaterally withdrawing from the Gaza Strip in 2005. One of the main justifications for these moves was demographics. Today, almost the entire Palestinian population is under Palestinian control – either under the PA in Judea and Samaria or under Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

So why do we hear the same alarming tune after withdrawing? Should we, by the same token, add the number of Arabs on the other side of the Jordan River as well?

That being said, the argument that we must separate for demographic reasons is being used we already separated. Those addicted to pulling back no longer demand additional separation from the Arab population, but rather a widespread uprooting of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the heart of the country.

But if we are indeed dealing with demographics, how will the establishment of such a state influence the demographic future of the land of Israel? In the current state of affairs, Israel is the sole authority controlling the country's borders. From the moment the Palestinians have the authority and power to determine who enters the country, expect a population wave of Arabs to gush in from all over.

Just recently, PA President Mahmoud Abbas demanded 400,000 Palestinian "refugees" from Syria be "absorbed" into PA territory. Contrary to all accepted international definitions of refugee status, for Palestinians being a refugee is passed down forever. According to their reckoning, there are millions of Palestinian refugees who, if all goes to plan, will return after their state is established. Not only them, however – we must assume zealous Islamist extremists from all over the world will flow to such a Palestinian state, as it will be the front line in the struggle against the "Zionist entity." They will all gather here, just a few miles away from our major population centers. This will be an inglorious reversal that compromise nearly every achievement the Zionist enterprise has obtained.

To put it simply, besides the loss of security we will experience, God forbid, a sovereign Palestinian state would also mean the loss of demographic control. In fact, the establishment of a Palestinian state is the only way the Jewish majority in Israel will be lost. Not only does establishing such a state not solve the demographic problem, it is actually what causes it. And what will our own sages of Chelm tell us then? Certainly more material for superstitious folk tales.

Gideon Sa'ar is a former minister and a member of the Likud party.


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Time to Get Tough with Turkey - Kenneth R. Timmerman

by Kenneth R. Timmerman

The U.S. has lots of leverage – let’s use it.

The Trump administration is trying to walk a fine line between Turkey, which it still refers to as a NATO ally, and our Kurdish allies on the ground in northern Syria, and it has become increasingly painful and disheartening to watch.

For the past two months, as Turkish troops have pounded civilians in the northern Syrian city of Afrin, Turkish President Recip Tayip Erdogan has verbally assaulted and taunted America.

After initially threatening to kill U.S. liaison officers working with the Kurds, Erdogan then warned the U.S. commander in Syria, LG Paul Funk, to beware an “Ottoman slap.” 

The fact that U.S. commanders – undoubtedly under the direction of Defense Secretary Mattis - continued to avoid any direct contact with Turkish troops only emboldened Erdogan. Just before the final assault on Afrin last week, he taunted: “NATO members are not powerful enough to stand up to Turkey… [T]hey do not have the cheek.”

Once YPG fighters withdrew from Afrin on March 15, and civilians evacuated in the following days, Islamist militias backed by the Turkish army swooped into the city, destroying Kurdish cultural sites and plundering homes and businesses.

These were exactly the people the U.S. has been trying to defeat on the battlefield. And here Turkey has made them their allies and is training and equipping them.

As I argued in these pages two months ago, Turkey has long since stopped behaving like a NATO ally. It’s time that the Trump administration faced these facts and got tough on Turkey.

There can be no doubt that the appeasement policy carried out by the outgoing national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, and Rex Tillerson, has failed miserably. How deeply SecDef Jim Mattis buys into that policy could be a factor in his survival on the Trump team.

Erdogan is now threatening to unleash his Islamist allies on the remaining YPG strongholds further east, in Manbij, and even to push across the border into Mount Sinjar in Iraq to attack Iranian Kurds he considers to be allied to the PKK. 

Earlier this week, General Mattis acknowledged that Erdogan’s blood-lust for the Kurds has brought coalition operations against ISIS strongholds along the Syrian-Iraqi border to a standstill, all the while he continued to call Turkey a “NATO ally” and spoke positively about “an open dialogue” with Turkey.

I’d call that surreal if it weren’t pathetic – and tragic.

The United States needs to stand by our allies. In this battle, there can be no doubt who they are: the Kurds, not Turkey. The Kurds have built a secular, pluralistic, democratic government in northern Syria, whereas Turkey has become an Islamist autocracy that compares itself increasingly to the Ottoman empire.

The Trump administration has much more leverage it can bring to bear against Turkey than the President’s generals would have us believe.

First, we can increase U.S. military support for the YPG, and draw clear red lines beyond which any advance by Turkey or its Islamist allies will mean a direct confrontation with the United States.

That is not a far-fetched proposal. After all, when a force of Russian mercenaries violated a similar red line near the Syrian-Iraq border last month, they were torn to shreds by U.S. artillery and aircraft, causing an estimated 300 Russian casualties. Since then, the Russians have kept their distance from U.S. forces.

Next, we can accelerate the disengagement from Incirlik airbase in eastern Turkey, as Germany has already done. This is the NATO airbase that Turkey refused to let us use in the first battle against Saddam Hussein in 1991, and again in 2003, and again more recently for strikes against ISIS. This is the base where Erdogan loyalists besieged U.S. Air Force personnel during the August 2016 coup, treating their NATO allies (us!) as a hostile, occupying force.

I have long argued we should withdraw from Incirlik and move those air assets to Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. Israel’s believes such a move is already under way.

Next, the U.S. should go to NATO to seek sanctions against Turkey for violating the North Atlantic Treaty by conducting offensive operations beyond its borders without NATO approval and without having been attacked.

If Turkey does not withdraw from Syria and cease threatening Iraq within ten days, NATO should impose a series of increasingly severe sanctions against Turkey, starting with the suspension of all military cooperation and military sales to Turkey.

If Turkey still does not comply, NATO should suspend Turkey until it does.

After these NATO sanctions go into effect, and if Turkey remains defiant, the U.S. should seek United Nations sanctions against Turkey’s banking and defense sectors, nether of which is prepared for sanctions.

The U.S. can also unilaterally impose sanctions on Turkey as an ongoing money-laundering concern, based on the recent conviction of Turkish bank officials in New York for laundering money on behalf of Iran. (USA v. Zarrab et al).

Most powerful of all, however, would be for the U.S. to declassify intelligence information detailing the corruption of the Erdogan family, an investigation that proved so embarrassing to Erdogan that he launched a broad crackdown against judges and police investigators in December 2013 to shut it down.

The U.S. could also release intelligence information about the role of Erdogan’s son as a conduit for ISIS oil sales, and of Erdogan’s daughter role in setting up hospitals just inside Turkey’s border with Syria specifically to treat wounded ISIS fighters.

Put simply: ISIS would not exist, and never would have become as powerful as it became, without the active assistance of the Turkish president and his family.

Turkey is not behaving as a NATO ally, and is actively seeking to revive the Ottoman Empire and its Islamic Caliphate. With combined pressure from the U.S., NATO, Saudi Arabia and other allies, escalating pressure can be brought on Turkey to change its behavior or face the possibility of economic collapse.

Kenneth R. Timmerman


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The Secret World of the Palestinian Authority - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

One would have expected the Western donors to have woken up and noticed that Palestinian leaders are misusing the taxpayer money they send.

  • The failure of the donors -- mainly the US and the EU -- to demand accountability and transparency from the Palestinian Authority has deprived Palestinians of a significant part of the funds.
  • It has also encouraged Palestinian leaders to continue pocketing millions of dollars, enriching their private and hidden bank accounts.
  • The Palestinians, of course, are the primary victims in this story.
A report published this week offers a rare glance into the secret world of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which was established in 1994 in accordance with the Oslo Accords signed between Israel and the PLO.

Headed by Mahmoud Abbas, the PA has since received billions of dollars in aid from the US, EU and several other donor countries.

However, the failure of the donors to demand accountability and transparency from the Palestinian Authority has deprived Palestinians of a significant part of the funds. It has also encouraged Palestinian leaders to continue pocketing millions of dollars, enriching their private and hidden bank accounts.

One would have expected the Western donors to have woken up and noticed that Palestinian leaders are misusing the taxpayer money they send.

One would have expected the Americans and Europeans to come to Abbas and his cronies, bang on the table, and demand that they start using and investing money for the welfare of their people, and not for their friends and family members.

The report, published by the Coalition For Accountability And Integrity (AMAN), established in 2000 by a number of civil society organizations working in the field of democracy, human rights, and good governance, shows that the Western donors have learned nothing from their past mistakes.

The report also shows that the Palestinian Authority remains the same corrupt body it has been since its inception more than twenty years ago.

Under Yasser Arafat, the PA was plagued with widespread corruption and mismanagement. His successor, Mahmoud Abbas, has followed in this tradition and, despite his repeated promises, the Palestinian Authority remains as corrupt as ever.

Why should Abbas and his associates work to improve the living conditions of their people if those who are pouring billions of dollars on them continue to turn a blind eye to financial and administrative corruption in the PA they are funding?

Entitled "Integrity and Combating Corruption: Palestine 2017," the AMAN report reviews the status of corruption and lack of transparency and accountability in the Palestinian Authority during 2017.

It is one of the most comprehensive reports looking into the widespread corruption and squandering of public funds by the Palestinian Authority leadership.

The report found, for example, that the Palestinian Authority had invested $17.5 million in building a "presidential palace" for Abbas. The palace is built on an area of 4,700 square meters.

After facing criticism over the project, Abbas decided to convert the palace into a huge national library.

Here is what the report had to say about the grandiose project:
"Honorable as it may sound to convert the presidential palace into a public library, it remains to be the epitome of misuse of public funds as well as a bad example of lack of prioritization. And although the idea of building a hospitality palace for official foreign delegations is not evil in itself, it is not and never was a priority for Palestinians, given the urgent need to finance vital services such as health and education. This is apart from the chronic financial crisis plaguing the Palestinian Authority. And while recognizing the importance of a national library, the idea of converting the palace to one is detrimental, since it would cost more than building a new library from the start due to the construction and re-construction details it involves."
The 83-year-old Abbas could have invested the $17.5 million in building a new hospital or creating new jobs for his people, but he chose to build a palace for his cohorts and himself on a hilltop on the outskirts of Ramallah.

Was the palace part of Abbas's plan for a quiet, comfortable and luxurious retirement? The idea of converting the palace into a national library is equally ridiculous. For the Palestinians, a new school or hospital is more urgently needed than a library. Besides, at this point, the Palestinians hardly need a library that looks like a royal palace.

Pictured: Mahmoud Abbas' $17.5 million "presidential palace" near Ramallah. After facing criticism over the project, Abbas decided to convert the palace into a huge national library. (Image source: Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction)

Here is another example provided by the report concerning the Palestinian Authority's practice of squandering public money: paying the salaries and expenses of a non-existent airline called "Palestine Airlines."

It said that "hundreds of employees of this company continue to receive salaries and allowances from the Palestinian Authority, although the company is not registered as a company in accordance with Palestinian law."

The budget for this company, the report found, is included in the budget of the Palestinian Ministry of Transportation, but with no specific details of how the money is spent.

The "Palestine Airlines" employees are not the only civil servants who are paid despite not working and their being employed by a company that does not really exist. According to the report, members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), the Palestinians' parliament, have also been benefiting from monthly salaries, despite the parliament having been paralyzed for more than a decade as a result of the dispute between Abbas's ruling Fatah faction and Hamas.

"The continuation of the dysfunction of the PLC, in 2107, posed the biggest challenge to formal accountability and oversight of the government's performance in terms of management of public funds and public affairs in general," the report stated. In 2017, the report revealed, the Palestinian Authority spent more than 39 million shekels (about $11 million) on the PLC. Half of the money went to salaries for the Palestinian lawmakers even though they have not been working for more than a decade. The report continued:
"It is the right of citizens to inquire about the feasibility of these expenses without tangible results of the role of the PLC, and its failure to hold sessions that include members of Parliament in the West Bank and Gaza, in accordance with the law... Results of the government's plans did not show restraint in the continuing financial crisis of the PA, nor rationalization of public expenditures, or control over procurement and administrative and operational expenditures. In addition, talk of austerity continued without carrying out any serious implementation steps."
The report also found continued flaws in the structure of the Palestinian Authority security apparatus. The increase in the number of high-ranking officers had a negative impact on the performance of the security forces. In addition, this increase in the numbers placed an added burden on the public budget. The percentage of officers in three security apparatuses accounted for 50% of all officers in the Palestinian Authority's eight security forces.

The report found that corruption has also extended to the purchase of vehicles for Palestinian officials and their family members and friends. "Influential persons in senior positions were granted tax exemptions with legal basis for approval," the report found. "The amount of wasted funds is enormous." Here, it is worth noting that the Palestinian Authority law allows Palestinian terrorists who spent more than 20 years in Israeli prison to receive, one time only, a free car. This, of course, is in addition to the Palestinian Authority's policy of paying salaries to families of Palestinian prisoners and "martyrs."

According to the report, "political corruption has deepened in the Palestinian case due to the presence of two authorities, one in the West Bank and the other in the Gaza Strip." This division, which is the result of the Hamas-Fatah power struggle, has harmed Palestinian lives on many levels and negatively affected public funds, human rights and freedoms, and development as the two governments took decisions and measures to weaken each other.

In 2017, the Palestinian Authority's Anti-Corruption Commission received 430 complaints, but only 21 were referred to the prosecution's office, the report noted. "This indicates that the commission, its staff and follow-up mechanisms are slow," it added. "As for the nature of the cases, they ranged from embezzlement to abuse of power to fraud to breach of trust and bribery." The largest proportion of those accused of corruption crimes were employees in the governmental public sector.

The report also took to task the Palestinian Authority for the way it approved its 2017 budget. The full version of the budget was not made public; only revenues and expenditures were presented with no details as to allocations for each ministry. Nor did the budget law include a table illustrating the Palestinian Authority's debts and loans or propose a plan for the collection of payments of these debts and loans. In addition, contributions and investments of the Palestinian Authority in local and non-local companies were also not clarified.

The Western media completely ignores such reports. By doing so, Western journalists are betraying their own people by failing to inform them how their foreign-aid money is being embezzled and squandered by corrupt Palestinian leaders. The Palestinians, of course, are the primary victims in this story. They live in poverty as their leaders scrabble to misappropriate public funds. The lives of the Palestinians could have been much better had their leaders been held accountable for their actions.

For Palestinians, to confront the dictators in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip means nothing short of putting one's life on the line. Yet the same is not true for the international community, including Western mainstream media.

Why, then, do they continue to look the other way as Abbas constructs gilded mansions for himself and his buddies? Perhaps because they are too busy digging up dirt about Israel. But when journalists close their eyes and ears, enabling the theft of American and European taxpayer money by despotic Palestinian leaders who continue to injure their own people, the tinsel begins to tarnish on the golden world of the Palestinian Authority.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.


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Video - Israel and Syria: The UN and the Distortion of International Law - Amb. Dore Gold

by Amb. Dore Gold

While the UN Human Rights Council is completely preoccupied with Israel, it is missing the very type of activity that the Fourth Geneva Convention was conceived to prevent.

Institute for Contemporary Affairs
Founded jointly with the Wechsler Family Foundation

Israeli settlements are back in the news, not because of something going on here in the Middle East, but rather because of decisions – distorted decisions –  that are being taken in Geneva at the UN headquarters. This month, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Prince Zeid, came out and described Israeli settlements as a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. He therefore set the stage for resolutions that were shortly thereafter adopted by the UN Human Rights Council, which, like all the resolutions of the Human Rights Council, were completely prejudicial against the State of Israel.

How did Prince Zeid, or the other critics of Israel, come to the conclusion that Israeli settlements were problematic from the standpoint of international law? Essentially, they focused on the Fourth Geneva Convention from 1949, and in particular article 49 of that Convention, which makes, among other claims, two essential points. First, it clearly states that “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of an occupying power,” is prohibited. The second point of the Fourth Geneva Convention of article 49 states that, “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” This has been thought of by legal experts to involve the forcible transfer of your own population into the territory which your army now controls.

For example, there’s Eugene Rostow, who was Undersecretary of State of the United States in the Johnson administration and served at the time of the 1967 Six-Day War. People forget he was also the Dean of Yale Law School. He wrote about the intent behind the Fourth Geneva Convention. For example, he says that “the convention prohibits many of the inhumane practices of the Nazis and the Soviet Union during and before the Second World War, specifically the mass transfer of people into and out of occupied territories, for the purposes of extermination, slave labor, or colonization.”

Once we understand the true intent behind the Fourth Geneva Convention, it becomes obscene to connect Israel with an international convention conceived to prevent actions like the transfer of German Jews to occupied Poland for extermination. For that reason, international legal experts in the late 1960s and early 1970s, like Eugene Rostow, rejected any link between Israeli settlements and the Fourth Geneva Convention. But the emerging problem with the critics of Israeli settlement activity in Geneva is not what they’re doing to Israel. It’s what they’re missing in other parts of the world, like in the case of Syria. The Syrian civil war, since 2011, has involved the mass forcible transfer of Syrian Sunni Arabs out of Syria into Turkey, Jordan, and of course into Europe, and while the UN Human Rights Council is completely preoccupied with Israel, it is missing the very type of activity that the Fourth Geneva Convention was conceived to prevent. For in Syria, not only is the Syrian Sunni population being ejected, but there’s a parallel effort under way, sponsored by Iran, to colonize Syria with Shiite Muslims.

So there you have it – removing one population and bringing in another – and yet the world is largely silent. The problem with the UN Human Rights Council, and for that matter the UN as a whole, is that it’s distorting international law, focusing on the wrong issues and leaving some of the greatest abuses of human rights since World War II unanswered.

Amb. Dore Gold has served as President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs since 2000. From June 2015 until October 2016 he served as Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously he served as Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN (1997-1999), and as an advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.


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Leftist Rage Over Citizenship Question - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

Asking Census respondents if they’re Americans is unconscionable, progressives fume.

Left-wingers have been throwing an extended temper tantrum across the nation after the Trump administration announced it plans to ask individuals responding to the 2020 U.S. Census if they are American citizens.

Racist. Sexist. Xenophobic. That’s what you are if you dare to believe it is perfectly reasonable in a Census questionnaire to ask respondents if they’re citizens of this country, according to Democrats.

The U.S. Department of Commerce, which administers the decennial, constitutionally required head count, said the surprisingly controversial question will be added to Census forms at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice to help identify possible violations of the Voting Rights Act, something left-wingers claim to care about.

That any sane person would be outraged at this commonsense proposal is a depressing reminder of the power of the leftist, multiculturalist indoctrination that has robbed generations of Americans of the ability to think for themselves. The Left has been trying to blur the lines between citizens and non-citizens for years and it’s clear their hard work has paid off.

Democrat office-holders from blue states could be found shrieking and hyper-ventilating on cable news programs about this supposedly nightmarish assault by President Trump on the rights and self-esteem of illegal aliens and on the left-wingers at groups like National Council of La Raza, ACLU, and NAACP that go to great lengths to help them vote illegally in elections.

These people don’t care about the U.S. Constitution or the rule of law. The only thing they care about is power, and anything that dilutes the power of U.S. citizens in order to privilege foreigners and illegal aliens is a good thing in their eyes.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wrote on Twitter, “The census must count every person. Our Constitution demands it. Our democracy requires it. @realDonaldTrump is jeopardizing its accuracy by adding an unnecessary citizenship question. I stand with former Census directors from both parties in opposing this terrible decision.”

Warren was promptly corrected by Mike Gonzalez of the Heritage Foundation.

He tweeted in reply:
Jefferson first requested the question in 1800. The Census continuously and without controversy asked a question on citizenship from 1890 to 1950--years when the foreign-born population was higher than today. The ACS continues to ask this question to this day. Stop the hyperbole.
The ACS refers to the American Community Survey, which is conducted by the Census Bureau. According to the agency’s website, the survey “helps local officials, community leaders, and businesses understand the changes taking place in their communities. It is the premier source for detailed population and housing information about our nation.”

The Washington Examiner reports that the Census Bureau has been asking questions similar to the citizenship question on three of its surveys since at least the Obama administration.
What’s more, according to a new analysis, those unwilling to cooperate with the Census due to citizenship and other questions has not increased under President Trump, though they did surge under Obama.
“I cannot find a sudden decrease in the public's willingness to take part in Census Bureau surveys that already include a citizenship question,” said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies.
Unrestrained by logic or facts, radical leftist and community organizer Tom Perez, who is now chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said his party would “fight this attempt to undermine our democracy.”

“This is a craven attack on our democracy and a transparent attempt to intimidate immigrant communities,” Perez said in a statement. “The census is a constitutionally-mandated count of all U.S. residents, not a political tool for Donald Trump to push his agenda and disempower Latinos and other people of color.”

Perez spewed post-modernist-sounding drivel, claiming that restoring the citizenship question that the Obama administration took out lets Trump and Republicans stoke “fear” so they can make immigrant communities “invisible.” In reality they are “guaranteeing an inaccurate count that lays the groundwork for sustained racial gerrymandering and jeopardizes critical resources for communities across the country.”

On MSNBC Perez offered a conspiracy theory. 

"They want to change it to count the number of U.S. citizens so that they can engage in very not subtle voter suppression," Perez said. "That is illegal and that is totally inconsistent with what the North Star of the Census in Republican and Democratic administrations have been."

"This is just another divide-and-conquer effort. This is a first cousin of these voter ID laws sought to make sure that African Americans and Latinos can't vote," he said.

The crazed nonsense continued.

After California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) brought a lawsuit, New York State’s ambulance-chasing leftist attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman (D), said Tuesday he was launching multi-state litigation to prevent the reintroduction of the citizenship question, even though it had been a mainstay of the Census prior to the Obama era.

Using Orwellian double-speak, Schneiderman claimed the lawsuit was aimed at preserving a “fair and accurate Census.” He attacked the administration as “reckless” for bringing the question back, adding improbably that its inclusion would “create an environment of fear and distrust in immigrant communities that would make impossible both an accurate Census and the fair distribution of federal tax dollars.”

“This move directly targets states like New York that have large, thriving immigrant populations – threatening billions of dollars in federal funding for New York, as well as fair representation in Congress and the Electoral College,” he claimed.

California’s Becerra, who has been at the forefront of defending his state’s unconstitutional sanctuary laws that thuggishly punish people for cooperating with federal immigration enforcement officials,  tweeted, “Including the question is not just a bad idea –it is illegal.”

It may be the first time a leftist has opposed an inclusionary policy.

Disgraced and nearly impeached former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (D) vowed to “litigate to stop the administration from moving forward with this irresponsible decision.”

“The addition of a citizenship question to the census questionnaire is a direct attack on our representative democracy,” the corrupt ex-official said. “This question will lower the response rate and undermine the accuracy of the count, leading to devastating, decade-long impacts on voting rights and the distribution of billions of dollars of federal funding.”

He added: “Make no mistake—this decision is motivated purely by politics.”

The increasingly fragile House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the move by President Trump was a “dog-whistle tactic to raise funds for his campaign committee.”

“The Census is supposed to count everyone,” whined Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D).

Proving she habitually snoozed her way through law school, Healey said, “This is a blatant and illegal attempt by the Trump administration to undermine that goal, which will result in an undercount of the population and threaten federal funding for our state and cities.” 

Left-wingers have been trying to hijack the U.S. Census for partisan purposes for years.

The Obama administration tried to use what might be called the brute force approach to compel the Census to do the Democrats’ bidding. The White House wanted to arrogate to itself control over the Census, a move that no doubt would have had huge ramifications for congressional redistricting. After lawmakers such as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) denounced the plan as a "naked political power grab," the Obama administration backed down, assuring lawmakers the Census would remain at the Commerce Department.

Before that, when Bill Clinton was president, left-wingers tried to use statistical voodoo to inflate the count in their big-city strongholds, but they were slapped down by the courts. This kind of statistical modeling or sampling is controversial because it is flagrantly unconstitutional and because it opens the counting process to political manipulation.

The Supreme Court ruled in U.S. Department of Commerce v. U.S. House of Representatives (1999) that using statistical sampling methods for congressional redistricting purposes was not permissible.

The court opinion noted that Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution states that "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective Numbers," and that "the actual Enumeration” shall take place “within every subsequent Term of ten Years.”

The Fourteenth Amendment states that "Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed."

Despite their side’s loss in the high court, a month after President George W. Bush was inaugurated, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Stamford, Conn., and other localities filed a federal lawsuit in hopes of forcing the new administration to use sampling in the next Census. Presumably they viewed the 1999 ruling as applying only to the 2000 Census.

The new state lawsuits against the citizenship question are part of the Left’s long-running war against America’s free institutions.

No doubt more such legal proceedings are coming.

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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We won't allow Hamas to disrupt the Passover Seder, IDF vows - Yoav Limor, Daniel Siryoti, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

by Yoav Limor, Daniel Siryoti, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff 

IDF deploys additional combat troops, over 100 snipers to Israel-Gaza border ahead of mass Palestinian march • Hamas pledges to prevent protesters from breaching fence

The Israeli military declared Wednesday it was prepared to use "substantial force" to prevent Palestinians from rushing the Israel-Gaza border fence, ahead of a mass Hamas-orchestrated march, planned for Friday.

One defense official stressed that "we won't allow Hamas to disrupt the Passover Seder."

The terrorist group that rules the coastal enclave has called for a series of "peaceful protests" beginning March 30, when the Palestinians mark Land Day in commemoration of a 1976 incident in which Israeli forces killed six unarmed Arab citizens and wounded about a hundred amid violent riots.

Hamas said it expected as many as 100,000 Palestinians to take part in Friday's so-called "March of Return."

Bracing for potential violence, the IDF has deployed Infantry, Armored Corps and Combat Intelligence troops, alongside special forces, sappers and more than 100 snipers to the border.

Military, Border Police and Israel Police troops on the ground will be backed by aerial assistance to better monitor protesters' movement along the fence and alert the troops in the event of attempts to target IDF posts or infiltrate border-adjacent communities.

Security forces have been ordered to prevent a breach of the security fence, but they have also been instructed to exercise maximum restraint so as to minimize the number of Palestinian casualties.

"We will not allow security infrastructure to be compromised," IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot said Tuesday. "If the Palestinians think they can organize a march and cross the fence into our territory, they are wrong."

"We will use an iron fist to prevent protesters from infiltrating Israel. We have granted permission to open fire if lives are in jeopardy. [Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh and whoever sent them [the protesters] there will be solely responsible for whatever happens."

U.N. envoy to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov called on all parties "to exercise restraint and take the necessary steps to avoid a violent escalation."

Palestinian protesters near the Israel-Gaza border, last week

In an interview with the Arabic-language satellite TV channel Alhurra on Wednesday, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said that any attempt by the Palestinians to breach the Gaza border "would meet a forceful Israeli response and not just toward the protesters."

Mordechai said Israel has "contacted over 20 bus companies in Gaza that were paid by Hamas to shuttle protesters to the border and warned them that the companies' owners will be subject to personal sanctions."

He leveled harsh criticism at Gaza's Hamas leadership, saying "Hamas has failed – in the economy, in governing Gaza, in the reconciliation [with Fatah], and it has also failed in its terrorist army project, when it chose to invest its millions in terror tunnels."

Israel is nearing the completion of an underground barrier meant to counter the threat posed by Hamas' grid of terror tunnels. The cost of construction is expected to exceed $850 million.

'This is not a violent protest'

A senior Hamas official in Gaza told Israel Hayom that the mass march is planned as a peaceful protest and that Hamas has instructed its security forces to prevent protesters from coming within 800 meters (2,600 feet) from the security fence.

"Military wing personnel will be deployed near the gathering point in Khan Younis and will serve as a buffer between the protesters and the border. We instructed organizers to prevent protesters from approaching the fence. We have made it clear to organizers that we will now allow protesters to reach the fence," he said.

Hamas security forces have been instructed to prevent riots during the Friday's march

While Hamas seems earnest in its attempt to prevent riots in Friday's march, some on Palestinian social media have been calling for protesters to clash with Israeli security forces and carry out terrorist attacks.

The official said that Hamas security forces will search protesters to ensure no weapons are brought in.

"We don't want to see a bloodbath. Just a quiet protest," he said, warning that "if there are Israeli provocations and if Israel deliberately harms protesters or our people we will mount a harsh response."

"We will not tolerate any aggression by the Israeli enemy," he vowed.

Also on Wednesday, the IDF said that a weeklong closure will be imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip beginning on Thursday night, ahead of the Passover holiday.

Restrictions of this kind are routinely imposed ahead of major Jewish holidays to minimize friction.

The military said that all crossings to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip would be closed to Palestinians beginning Thursday at midnight until Saturday, April 7 at midnight. Exceptions will be made in humanitarian, medical and other urgent cases, as determined by the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

Yoav Limor, Daniel Siryoti, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


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Russians, Identity Theft, and Campaign Interference - Michael Bargo, Jr.

by Michael Bargo, Jr.

There is nothing new about one nation trying to manipulate the political campaigns of other foreign nations.  But the internet makes it easy.

The grand jury indictment announced by the Justice Department on February 12, 2018 alleged that 13 Russian nationals acted to interfere with the U.S. political process. The program had the code name "Laktha" and began in 2013. The headquarters, named "Internet Research Agency LLC," was located in St. Petersburg, Russia. Two other companies were also created in order to organize the efforts: "Concord" and "Concord Catering."

In order to conceal the Russian origin of the acts – those 13 defendants indicted for interference with the 2016 election – the Russians had to disguise the identity of the persons behind the activities and carefully conceal the origin of the money used.

In order to purchase Facebook ads, a source of money was needed. Payments were also necessary to purchase campaign rally signs, print leaflets, and so on. The Russians did not want to use their real names, since the U.S. intel community would immediately know that Russian operatives were behind activities to disrupt the American political process.

How the Russians hid their involvement for four years is an interesting story. What they did was pay for everything done in the U.S. through a "straw man" payment scheme. But what is interesting is that the straw men the Russians used knew nothing about their own involvement. The amount of money involved was substantial: often $1.25 million a month. These funds, originating in Russian government grants, were used to fund campaign interference operations in the U.S.

The Russians moved the money into the U.S. banking system by using unwitting Americans to establish bank accounts and PayPal accounts. Through these accounts, the Russians funded their campaign disruption activities.

Since the program needed established, legal American identities, the Russians purchased personal information on the internet of real Americans who already had bank accounts. The Russians obtained the names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and birthdays of Americans. Enough to open bank accounts.

But while most people understand identity theft as a method used to break into somebody's personal bank accounts and credit accounts in order steal that person's assets, or establish a new credit card and run up debt for the unknowing victim, the Russians employed a far more clever identity theft scheme: using the personal information of real Americans, they opened up new bank accounts using people's valid information. Then they put money into those accounts. The next step was that they then opened new PayPal accounts, using as a bank reference the bank accounts. The PayPal accounts were used to pay for all their subversive activities. The money from the Russian government grants was moved into these bank accounts through Internet Research, LLC; Concord; and Concord Catering, who were legitimate companies.

This scheme solved two critically important problems: 1) it enabled the Russian nationals to hide behind the valid accounts of Americans, and 2) it enabled them to readily use a PayPal account, legitimately set up using a valid bank account, to pay for their U.S. subversive activities. These activities involved everything from travel expenses to purchases of signage to set up anti-Hillary rallies and so on. All the expenses associated with traveling to, living in, and setting up campaign rallies were paid for this way.

Since these PayPal accounts were set up using legitimate bank accounts (PayPal requires an established, legitimate bank account such as checking or savings to serve as the source of funds), no one suspected anything. The persons whose identities were stolen were never alerted and never became suspicious, since the Russians never stole from them or set up credit card accounts. When PayPal checked on the credit and personal information of these phony Russian bank accounts, all they found was an ordinary American John Doe, who already had other bank accounts using the same name, Social, home address, and credit history.

The clever part of this is that only eight people's names and IDs were used, and this scheme lasted, for each person, only five days. No red flags came up, since no money was stolen from a person's existing credit card account or bank account. The cleverness is that the identities were used to establish new accounts, and the Russians always put money into these accounts. They made American citizens into straw financiers of their U.S. operations. It was all smoothly done and lasted for nearly four years. The indictment published February 12 actually gives the initials of the real U.S. persons whose identity information was used and the dates the scheme went on.

There may well be similar operations going on right now through PayPal to fund Russian activities in the U.S. And given the tens of millions of American identities floating around on the internet, there may be new accounts started, used, and closed within days. The Mueller indictment covered only the operations done under the three companies. The true number will probably never be known. But for now, the Mueller investigators had enough to indict 13 Russian operatives. It's a fascinating study in how to funnel money into U.S. bank accounts using the information of real Americans.

In the past, the CIA and other U.S. intel agencies would use shell companies or straw purchasers. But compared to the Laktha project, these were relatively unsophisticated.

It was easy for the Russians to find complete identity information on Americans: forty million Target Store accounts were hacked in 2013 alone.

And 22.1 million federal employees had their personal information hacked in July 2015. The database was managed by the federal Office of Personnel Management, and the hack was considered a serious breach of the OPM's I.T. firewalls. The information hacked was personal identity information from retired federal personnel as well as those currently employed.

Any one of these cyber-security breaks, which involved over 60 million people, could have easily provided the Russian operatives all the information they needed to cover up the Russian involvement while engaging in activities designed to disrupt the 2014 and 2016 American elections. In fact, the Mueller indictment lists only eight people who were exploited in 2015 and 2016 whose identity information was used by the Russians to set up PayPal accounts.

These activities, generically called disinformation campaigns by the intel community, are as old as humanity. There is nothing new about one nation trying to manipulate the political campaigns of other foreign nations. The CIA does it all the time. But the internet and the presence of virtually all personal financial information on the web make such information available to anyone around the world who knows how to tap into and exploit it.

Michael Bargo, Jr.


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