Friday, April 13, 2018

The New Cold War Heats Up in Syria - Joseph Klein

by Joseph Klein

Sending a clear message to Assad, Putin and beyond.

President Trump laid down the gauntlet Wednesday morning in a blunt tweet directed at Russia:  "Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!" The president then added: "Our relationship with Russia is worse now than it has ever been, and that includes the Cold War." He was evidently reacting to a warning by Alexander Zasypkin, Russia's ambassador to Lebanon, that Russian President Vladimir Putin would order the downing of any American missiles fired at Syrian territory and take military action against "even the sources from which the missiles were fired."

A Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman wasted no time in responding to President Trump's Wednesday morning twitter threat: “Smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not a legal government."

Add to this saber rattling the fiery accusations exchanged between U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Russian Ambassador to the UN Vassily Nebenzia at the United Nations Security Council earlier this week and it does seem like we are going back to the future.

However, considering how close the world came to an all-out nuclear war during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, it is an exaggeration to say that our relationship with Russia (then the Soviet Union) has never been worse. Nevertheless, with so many strategic geopolitical cross-currents in Syria and an established Russian military presence committed to supporting the Assad regime, events could spin out of control and turn President Trump's hyperbole into a grim reality. The new "cold war" is on the verge of turning very hot, potentially involving Russia and the U.S. with its Western European allies in a direct military confrontation, as well as sweeping Iran, Israel and other Middle East regional powers into the fight.

Whether Russia is bluffing will depend in part on whether any Russian personnel are killed or injured by U.S.-led airstrikes or whether there is any significant damage to Russian military facilities or assets. 

Even if Russia does not retaliate directly against the United States right away, Russia may be planning to work together with Iran to target Israel in the event of U.S-led air strikes against Syria. According to a report from Debkafile, Alexander Lavrentiev, the special Russian emissary on Syria, proposed such military cooperation during a visit to Tehran. The Iranian regime has vowed revenge for Israel's air strike earlier this week on Syria's T4 base near Homs, which killed several members of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard. Both Iran and Russia are convinced that Israel was working in concert with the United States to inflict the first blow in the U.S.-led offensive. They see themselves as amongst possible targets in the rounds of attacks to follow. 

President Trump is unbowed by Russia’s threats. Preparations for a U.S.-led attack, in coordination with France and the United Kingdom, are underway. The U.S. has already issued warnings for civilian aircraft to avoid Syrian airspace. U.S.-led coalition warplanes have reportedly flown over the Iraqi border. The USS Donald Cook carrier, loaded with tomahawk missiles, has been moving towards Syria. F22 Raptor fighter jets, stationed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, are available to conduct air strikes. The United Kingdom has RAF Tornado fighter jets stationed nearby in Cyprus on standby.

According to Debkafile's Washington sources, any U.S.-led strikes in Syria will not be a one-off action like last year's missile strikes on a Syrian airbase in response to the Syrian regime's chemical attack that killed 80 civilians. This time, President Trump is reportedly looking at an operation that could last several days and involve multiple targets. This may explain the reported departure of the nuclear-powered USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier from its U.S. port on Wednesday, headed towards the Mediterranean where it will arrive next week.

Russia has not been sitting back.  A French navy ship equipped with cruise missiles capable of being used against the Assad regime was buzzed by a low-flying Russian warplane in the eastern Mediterranean several days ago. Russia has also been busy jamming U.S. drones flying over Syria. This could complicate U.S. military operations in Syria, although Russia’s jamming has not yet adversely impacted the Predator and Reaper drones used in combat. A Pentagon spokesperson claimed that the U.S. military “maintains sufficient countermeasures and protections to ensure the safety of our manned and unmanned aircraft, our forces and the missions they support."

There are reasonable arguments for and against a full-scale air attack against Syria in response to the latest alleged chemical attack. A major reason to hold back is the law of unintended consequences, including a wider all-out war involving Russia, Iran and Iran's terrorist proxy Hezbollah on one side against the United States, its coalition partners and Israel. Once the furies of war are unleashed there may be no turning back. A second major argument against initiating a direct U.S-led military operation against the Syrian regime is that we lack definitive evidence at this time that the regime was responsible for the latest chemical attack. The Syrian regime was on the verge of defeating the rebels without the need to use chemical weapons. The chemical attack could even have been a false flag, so the argument goes, staged by terrorists who were still in control of the area to draw U.S. firepower against Assad. The U.S. is said to be gathering more intelligence before reaching a final conclusion. A third major reason to hold back is that this is not our fight. Assad, some argue, is no worse than the Islamic terrorists who have been trying to take over the country. Indeed, as horrible as Assad is, he may be the lesser of two evils. Our experiences in Iraq and Libya should have taught us that destabilizing, much less overthrowing, a secular dictatorship leads only to worse outcomes by creating power vacuums filled by Islamic terrorists. 

These are all valid reasons not to involve ourselves any further in the Syrian conflict. Indeed, President Trump just recently expressed a desire for the U.S. to pull its forces out of Syria once the mission to defeat ISIS was completed. That said, he nevertheless wants to send a vital message in the wake of the latest alleged chemical attack. The Trump administration will not repeat the mistakes of the Obama era by drawing red lines and then ignoring them. However, it is not just a matter of maintaining the credibility of red lines per se. What matters is whether the content of the red line makes sense and the scope of military force used to enforce it.

Chemical weapons are weapons of mass destruction. Russia signed on as a guarantor that the Syrian regime would dispose of its chemical weapons stock and abide by the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention to which Syria became a signatory. Russia has not only failed to fulfill this commitment. It has become the Syrian regime’s shield against the truth by preventing any accountability for conducting chemical weapons attacks if so determined by an international investigatory panel of experts. Russia killed the previous international investigatory mechanism established by the UN Security Council for that purpose, after the investigators had found the Syrian regime responsible for past chemical attacks. Russia’s consciousness of the Syrian regime’s guilt in the latest reported chemical attack is demonstrated by the length to which it has gone to block any new independent investigation as to who was responsible.  As the United Kingdom's UN ambassador put it following the Security Council vote on a resolution to establish a new independent investigation into Syrian chemical attacks, which Russia vetoed, "Russia would rather cross the WMD line than risk sanction of its ally Syria. Instead we are asked to believe that the Russian version of this latest attack should be the one that the Security Council believes."

Aside from humanitarian concern for the innocent victims of chemical attacks, President Trump as commander in chief has the responsibility to protect U.S. forces already in Syria to fight ISIS against the use of chemical weapons, whether by the Syrian regime or the terrorists. The military operation in response to the latest alleged chemical attack need not be lengthy or involve the commitment of U.S. ground troops sent into battle. However, it must inflict much more pain than what former Secretary of State John Kerry had in mind when describing Obama’s planned military response that never happened - an "unbelievably small, limited kind of effort."  

Beyond sending a clear message to the Syrian regime itself and to its enablers, President Trump would be sending a clear message to the Iranian and North Korean regimes that mere words on paper are insufficient to guarantee that they are not in a position to threaten international peace and security with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles capable of delivering them. Using military force to back up the red line in Syria against the use of chemical weapons will show that President Trump would be willing to do the same to back up his red lines against nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea.

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


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Watergate Every Week: Using the FBI to Suppress a Political Revolution - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

From Steele to Mueller, the cost of overturning the 2016 election.

In the early seventies, political operatives disguised as delivery men broke into a Washington D.C. office. These efforts to spy on the political opposition would culminate in what we know as Watergate.

In the late teens, political operatives disguised as FBI agents, NSA personnel and other employees of the Federal government eavesdropped, harassed and raided the offices of the political opposition.

The raids of Michael Cohen’s hotel room, home and office are just this week’s Watergate.

Political operatives have now seized privileged communications between the President of the United States and his lawyer. Despite fairy tales about a clean process, these communications will be harvested by the counterparts of Peter Strzok, who unlike him are still on the case at the FBI, some of it will appear in the Washington Post and the New York Times, and some will be passed along to other political allies.

That’s what happened at every juncture of Watergate 2.0. And it only follows that it will happen again.

Just like the eavesdropping, the process will be compartmentalized for maximum plausible deniability. The leakers will be protected by their superiors. The media will shrilly focus the public’s attention on the revelations in the documents rather than on the more serious crimes committed in obtaining them.

Nixon couldn’t have even dreamed of doing this in his wildest fantasies. But Obama could and did. Now his operatives throughout the government are continuing the work that they began during his regime.

Attorney-client privilege is just one of those rights we have to give up to protect ourselves from a conspiracy theory invented by the Clinton campaign. (But no amount of dead Americans can ever justify ending immigration from Islamic terror states or deporting illegal alien gang members.)

We are at the latest stage of a process that began when the Clinton campaign funded a dossier alleging foreign ties by her political opponent. It did this using a law firm while lying on its FEC disclosures about payments to that firm. (But unlike Cohen, Hillary’s lawyers will never be raided by the FBI.)

That dossier was then used to justify eavesdropping on Trump associates by political allies in the State Department, the FBI, the CIA and the National Security Council. This wasn’t really breaking new ground. Obama had already been caught using the NSA to spy on members of Congress opposed to his Iran Deal. 

The contents of the dossier were rambling nonsense. Its claims about Michael Cohen were easily disproven. But that covert investigation was transformed into an overt one with Mueller. And Mueller’s very public investigation follows the same path as the secret investigation by Obama associates. Both used the dubious claims of the Clinton dossier as the starting point for an endless fishing expedition.

Eavesdrop enough, raid enough, squeeze enough and you will eventually find something. And even if you don’t, you can always manipulate them into denying something and nail them for lying to the FBI.

Keep squeezing and maybe you’ll even find someone willing to lie under oath for you.
Mueller has yet to deliver on Russian collusion. But Susan Rice and Samantha Power couldn’t do it either. Instead they all assembled a vast network of international conspiracy theories whose only purpose is to justify more raids, more eavesdropping and more fishing expeditions. 

These are the police state tactics usually used by Communist dictatorships where domestic security agencies accuse the political opposition of treason, spy on them, raid their homes on fake charges and then look for anything that can be used to put them away. Just like in Russia. And for the same reasons.

Russian domestic security agencies, from the KGB to the FSB, used these tactics against political opponents who might pose a threat to their rule. That is exactly what’s happening here.

This isn’t just an ideological war. Washington D.C. is fighting to suppress a political revolution.

Even Obama and Hillary’s political operatives couldn’t have pushed the DOJ and other agencies this far outside their comfort zone under ordinary circumstances. There had been previous abuses of power, under JFK, LBJ, Nixon and Clinton, but there has been nothing like this since the Alien and Sedition Acts or Madison’s Machiavellian scapegoating of the Federalists for the disastrous War of 1812.

To apolitical operatives like Mueller, Strzok and their many allies in the FBI, Trump is an unprecedented threat to the business of the Federal government. They shrug at the economy or tax reform, except where it affects them. And social issues don’t move them either. They are as interested in the ideological left-right battles as the nomenklatura were in the works of Karl Marx. 

There are indeed two Americas. One is your country. The other consists of the people who run it. Both have their headquarters in Washington D.C. And they get along pretty well most of the time. 

The people are allowed to vote for whomever their party chooses. They can even vote for less respectable choices as long as they understand that those people will never get anywhere. Then the people they select will go to Washington D.C. and be briefed on what they can and can’t do. There they will rent pricey condos, bicker with each other, eat at nice restaurants and, in theory, make laws.

Then the nomenklatura, the bureaucracy that runs the country, will transform laws into policy. The policy will be shaped by judicial rulings and expert opinion. By the time the policy sausage comes out the other end of the Imperial City, it will have very little to do with what the voters might have wanted.

There are plenty of gatekeepers to keep a common sense idea from being implemented. If a congressman proposes that sensible measure you suggest to him, it will never leave the committee or it’ll be watered down. The Senate will neuter it or the president, on the advice of his advisors, will veto. 

And then came Trump. 

The gates began to collapse. The nomenklatura propped them up. Judicial rulings were used to block everything. The petty bureaucracies within government agencies stalled and sabotaged. Former agency bosses, their internal allies and the media colluded to target Trump’s agency heads with scandals. 

The elected head of the government and the unelected heads of the government were at war.
Mueller is the tip of the nomenklatura’s spear. The DOJ is the bluntest weapon in the D.C. arsenal and for the first time it’s been completely unleashed to undo the results of a presidential election.

The same leftists that fought for the civil rights of terrorists and drug dealers, cheer government eavesdropping on the political opposition and the violation of attorney-client privilege because it was never about civil rights, it was about protecting their political allies and punishing their enemies.

Radical movements are inherently totalitarian. And totalitarians view process, whether of elections or criminal justice proceedings, as a train that they ride until they take power and then disembark.

As Roger Nash Baldwin, a co-founder of the ACLU, wrote, “If I aid the reactionaries to get free speech now and then… it is only because those liberties help to create a more hospitable atmosphere for working class liberties... When that power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever.”

The working class of Washington D.C. has achieved quite a bit of power along with a fortune in overseas bank accounts, mansions, private schools and all the privileges of membership in the ruling class.

But the leftists cheering Mueller’s abuses might pause to consider the consequences. 

The Romans broke their republic. Now we’re breaking ours. The pink hat brigade enlisted the Praetorian Guard to bring down Trump. But the Roman lesson is that once you break the republic, it stays broken. Once you use political mercenaries like Mueller to overturn an election for you, they might not stop.

The left likes to believe that it can close Pandora's Box whenever it pleases. History tells us differently.

The Praetorian Guard didn’t stop. What can be done once, will be done again. When control of the DOJ and FBI matters more than elections, then voters will be irrelevant and the Praetorian of D.C. will rule.

And then a new Watergate really will happen every week.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.


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Attacking Trump's Attorney: Calling All Tea Partiers - Lloyd Marcus

by Lloyd Marcus

The Deep State, which is void of morals, seeks to play on our morals to remove our president.

Raiding the office of the personal attorney of the president of the United States is the most outrageous of the Deep State's unprecedented, unhinged, and relentless attempts to overturn the 2016 election. This raid should tell everyone that the Deep State will twist and bend the law to get rid of Trump. As stated by President Trump, the Deep State truly is engaged in a disgraceful witch hunt

Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton are loyal Deep State operatives. They have been stealthily transforming America into a socialist-progressive nation in which the federal government controls every aspect of our lives. Trump is the new sheriff in town determined to crush the Washington, D.C. cartel by draining the swamp. The Deep State is determined to block and destroy Trump at any and all cost.

This is why the Deep State outrageously turned a blind eye to Obama's, Bill's, and Hillary's numerous unconstitutional acts, numerous confirmed lies, policies bad for America, bags of money under the cover of darkness, and extreme character and moral failures

For example, the Deep State ignored the fact that their President Obama outrageously won PolitiFact's Lie of the Year award

The Deep State ignored the semen-stained dress that surfaced after Bill Clinton lied about not having sex with intern Monica Lewinsky. The Deep State ignored revelations that Bill and Monica used his $1,000-each Gurkha cigars as sex toys.

The Deep State ignored the fact that Clinton had so many adulterous affairs that his campaign formed the Bimbo Eruptions team to immediately destroy women who considered going public about their sexual encounters with Bill Clinton. The Deep State ignored the fact that Hillary (Miss I'm a Champion for Women) Clinton headed the Bimbo Eruptions team in bullying, silencing, and destroying Bill's women

The Deep State ignored credible women such as Juanita Broaddrick, who accused Bill Clinton of rape, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. 

The Deep State ignored Hillary's blatant multiple crimes. The Deep State ignored Hillary illegally using an unsecured private server, deleting thousands of emails, and lying by saying the emails were not work-related. The Deep State ignored that Hillary deleted 1,000 work-related emails to General David Petraeus. 

The Deep State ignored Bill's and Hillary's history of corruption unmasked in the documentary Clinton Cash. The Deep State ignored the Clintons' corruption exposed in Dinesh D'Souza's movie, Hillary's America.

The Deep State ignored the fact that Hillary paid for the disgusting, bogus Trump golden shower hit piece. 

Folks, I could go on and on with documented prosecutable crimes by the Clintons that have been ignored by the Deep State.

Displaying extreme arrogance and glaring hypocrisy, these evil people in the Deep State are digging deep into the bowels of President Trump's life and businesses over the decades to find something to use to kick him out of office. The Deep State obviously believes that We the People will passively allow it to remove our president. In essence, the Deep State is saying: Screw you, America; we're taking this country back.

The Deep State, which is void of morals, seeks to play on our morals to remove our president. While the Deep State ignores the deviancy, lies, and crimes of its operatives, the Deep State will pressure Republicans to back away from Trump for moral reasons. Sadly, some Republicans will fall for the Deep State's dirty trick. I pray that We the People will stand strong, unwavering in our support of Trump and his vow to make America great again.

I agree with a dear conservative activist friend who said it is time we stop allowing the Deep State to control the public's focus. Let's get the Tea Party visible again with rallies in support of Trump's agenda, the border wall, ending sanctuary cities, and other important issues. We must inform the masses about Trump's remarkable achievements. Here's a taste: for each regulation that Trump has introduced, he has ended 66 of Obama's overreaching, job-killing, and insane leftist regulations. 

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." –Edmund Burke

Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American
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Palestinians: License to Kill Americans - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

The anti-US campaign -- feeds into the ideology of the Islamic State terror group, Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, which considers the US the "Great Satan."

  • The ruthless rhetoric the Palestinians are using against the US suggests that they have decided to put the Americans on an equal footing with Israel. They miss the days when the State Department sometimes seemed to be more pro-Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves.
  • We are talking about the same Palestinian Authority (PA) that continues to receive millions of dollars in US aid annually. The same PA whose security forces are trained and equipped by Americans and Europeans. The same PA that has a "diplomatic mission" in Washington that is actively taking part in the campaign of incitement against the US and its leader.
  • The anti-US campaign paves the way for terrorists to kill Americans. It feeds into the ideology of the Islamic State terror group, Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, which considers the US the "Great Satan."
Hate speech and incitement make up the core of the Palestinian narrative.

For several decades now, the Palestinians have been waging a massive and vicious campaign of incitement against Israel. This campaign has made it impossible for any Arab to even think about the prospects of peace with Israel. Notably, the Palestinian hatred of Israel is not linked to anything Israel does or does not do. Rather, the Palestinian hatred of Israel is based on Israel's existence. Palestinians hate Israel because they believe that Jews have no right to a sovereign country of their own in the Middle East.

Palestinian hate speech against Israel is part of the global landscape: by now, no one even expects anything else from them. A Palestinian mosque preacher calling Jews "descendants of monkeys and pigs" is no story at all -- just more of the same. Similarly, a Palestinian maiming or murdering a Jew has become the norm.

The day will come -- and it is not far away -- when reports of Palestinians not inciting against Israel and Jews will be a remarkable one. The day will come when the only story worth reporting is when a Palestinian did not carry out a terrorist attack against a Jew that day.

Much ink has been spilled about the Palestinians' ongoing efforts to delegitimize Israel and demonize Jews. Hundreds, if not thousands, of such cases have been documented in the past few decades. We have become so inured to this Palestinian campaign of incitement and indoctrination that we see it as no different than a daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper.

This campaign of hate and incitement has always served as a catalyst for terror attacks against Jews, thousands of whom have been killed and injured since the establishment of Israel 70 years ago.

In recent months, we have witnessed a new twist in the Palestinian campaign of enmity. Israel is no longer the sole target of this campaign. For the Palestinians, there is a new enemy in town: the US and President Donald Trump and his administration.

The Palestinians' anti-US drive is, by all accounts, unprecedented -- because of its tone and because of its terminology. Never before have the Palestinians dared to voice contempt, hostility and revulsion toward a US president and his senior officials.

Israel can now take cold comfort in the fact that it is no longer alone at the top of the Palestinians' most-wanted list of enemies.

The ruthless rhetoric the Palestinians are using against the US suggests that they have decided to put the Americans on an equal footing with Israel. The abusive rhetoric also shows that the Palestinians miss the "good old days" of the Obama administration, which they admired because of what they perceived as its support for everything the Palestinians said or did and its anti-Israel positions.

The Palestinians miss the days when the Obama administration used to come out in public against Israel at all available podiums, especially in the United Nations. They miss the regular briefings of US officials who displayed "political correctness" by bad-mouthing the settlements and being hard-pressed to say a word against Palestinian abuses. They miss the days when Obama administration officials would lash out, on and off the record, against Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. They miss the days when the State Department sometimes seemed to be more pro-Palestinian than the Palestinians themselves.

Since December 2017, when President Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the Palestinians have been waging a systematic campaign of hatred and incitement against the US administration and its top officials. As the days pass, this campaign escalates in its defamatory tone.

Hardly a day passes without the Palestinian Authority (PA) or one of its senior representatives launching a scathing attack on the Trump administration in particular, and the US in general.

Just a reminder, please: We are talking about the same Palestinian Authority that continues to receive millions of dollars in US aid annually. We are also talking about the same PA whose security forces are trained and equipped by Americans and Europeans. We are talking about the same PA that has a "diplomatic mission" in Washington that is actively taking part in the campaign of incitement against the US and its leader.

The silence and indifference of the international community toward calling out the Palestinian offensive serves to embolden Palestinian leaders to step up their vicious rhetorical assaults.

And, as is the situation with Israel, this incitement and indoctrination is being translated into acts of violence and exhibitions of hatred towards the US. Burning effigies of Trump and US flags have become the norm in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Attacking and intimidating US citizens visiting Palestinian cities and villages have also become familiar in the Palestinian landscape.

Chanting anti-US slogans has become so common that one is left with the impression that the Americans are responsible for the sum total of Palestinian, Arab and Muslim misery. It's only a matter of time before a US citizen or official visiting a Palestinian city is harmed or, God forbid, killed. US citizens are no longer different than an Israeli soldier or settler; they, too, have become legitimate targets of Palestinian violence. This is what the campaign of hatred and incitement has done to the Palestinian public.

When Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas calls US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a "son of a dog," he is telling Palestinians that they should treat this American as they treat animals: with no respect at all and with disdain and contempt. In Islam, dogs are traditionally considered ritually impure.

For many Muslims, the mere sight of a dog during prayer has the power to nullify a pious Muslim's supplications.

Abbas's derogatory remark sends a message to the Palestinians that there is no difference between an "unclean" dog and Trump's ambassador to Israel. Abbas, who is far from naive, knows very well the strength of this insult in Islam: he would never use it against his rivals in Hamas or any Arab or Muslim.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called David Friedman, the US Ambassador to Israel, a "son of a dog" in a televised speech, on March 19, 2018. (Image source: MEMRI video screenshot)

Friedman is not the only top US official being targeted by the Palestinian leaders' vicious campaign of hate and contempt. US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, is also at the top of the list. The fact that she is a woman makes her even easier prey.

Saeb Erekat, the top PLO official, has no problem telling Haley that she needs to "shut up." Would Erekat ever dare to insult an Arab or Muslim woman in public? The consequences would be disastrous. The woman's family would never let it pass, and if Erekat would be lucky he would be shot only in a limb.

The organization that Erekat represents, the PLO, by the way, is often referred to by Palestinians as the Professional Liars Organization.

Last week, the Palestinian Authority took the anti-Haley campaign to new heights of hypocrisy by denouncing her as an "ambassador of hatred, animosity and dark ideology."

US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt is yet another frequent target of the Palestinian campaign of hate and incitement. Palestinians hurl insults at Greenblatt virtually every day, although they still apparently have not decided if he, too, is a "son of a dog."

Now the Palestinians are being told by their leaders that the US is "complicit" in Israeli "crimes." The Palestinians are furious that the US has not condemned Israel for defending its border with the Gaza Strip against infiltration attempts by Hamas the past two weeks.

The Palestinians are even more angry with the Trump administration for blocking recent anti-Israel resolutions at the Security Council. The resolutions were supposed to have condemned Israel for thwarting attempts by thousands of Hamas supporters to infiltrate the border and kill Jews. Gone are the days when the Obama administration would permit the passing of such anti-Israel resolutions at the UN.

Let us say this clearly: the anti-US campaign paves the way for terrorists to kill Americans. It feeds into the ideology of the Islamic State terror group, Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, which considers the US the "Great Satan."

The Palestinian campaign is a license to kill US citizens and officials. Yet the international community is once again failing to call out the Palestinians for their cutthroat incitement.
Yesterday it was Israel. Today, it is Americans. Would the Europeans care to hazard a guess on whose turn is next?

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.


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Anti-Semitic incidents in US up 57% in 2017, report says - Dan Lavie and Israel Hayom Staff

by Dan Lavie and Israel Hayom Staff 

Several tens of thousands of Jews have relocated in recent years, in what authors call "internal exodus."

A Jewish cemetery in Brumath, France, vandalized with Nazi symbols
Illustration: RTXN0PC

Anti-Semitic expressions in the public sphere saw a rise in 2017 even as acts of physical violence toward Jews continued to drop, the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University said in a report published Wednesday.

The report noted a particularly dramatic spike in anti-Semitic comments and abuse in schools and across social media. This anti-Semitism is attributed in the report to three primary factors: the rise of the extreme Right; the heightened anti-Zionist discourse among the Left, which is often accompanied by expressions of anti-Semitism; and radical Islam.

"Jews were especially exposed on social media, to direct threats, pestering, harassment, derision and calls to harm Jews in the workplace. In schools, universities, soccer stadiums, at street rallies, near Jewish institutions," the Kantor Center report said.

The Center, meanwhile, documented 327 cases of anti-Semitic acts across the globe in 2017, compared to 361 in 2016.

The excuse: Trump's declaration

The authors of the report stressed that the source of anti-Semitic incidents was not relegated to Muslim and Arab circles or organizations. Other groups with no such affiliations from across the political spectrum have held protest rallies expressing anger over a wide range of political developments completely unrelated to the issue of Jerusalem or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – which has fostered a sense of insecurity among Jews and concerns pertaining to the erosion of Jewish communal life. These feelings were reinforced by the murders of Sarah Halimi and Mireille Knoll in their homes in Paris.

The final weeks of 2017 (and initial months of 2018) were characterized by a large number of anti-Semitic incidents across the globe. U.S. President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December of 2017 either motivated or was used as an excuse for these incidents. Angry protests featuring anti-Semitic slogans and even calls for killing Jews and burning the Israeli flag were not carried out solely by Muslim or Arab groups.

In 2017, 65% of violent anti-Semitic incidents involved damaging property (214 cases); threats comprised 24% of the incidents (64 cases); followed by cases involving blunt weapons or arson.

'Internal exodus'

France marked a 7.2% overall decrease in the number of incidents but saw a rise in violent anti-Semitic acts, which jumped from 77 in 2016 to 97 in 2017. Several tens of thousands of Jews in recent years have relocated homes in their respective countries, in what the authors of the report called an "internal exodus."

Another disconcerting trend the authors of the report point to is the growing strength of the far Right in several European countries and in the United States. The success of the far Right, meanwhile, can serve as a distraction from the rise in anti-Semitism among leftist groups – such as the BDS movement and ANTIFA and within the British Labour Party under the leadership of Jeremy Corbin – which support radical Muslim and anti-Zionist viewpoints.

Leaders and governments declare their support for Israel and the Jewish community, but "as time passes and the Second World War and Holocaust increasingly belong to the distant past, so wanes the commitment to the safety of Jews and Israel among the younger generations," the report said.

Dan Lavie and Israel Hayom Staff


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Syria calls US threats of strike 'reckless,' repositions strategic asset - News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

by News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff 

Syrian forces vacate potential targets, Russia pulls vessels from Port of Tartus.

Syrian leader Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir 
Putin in Moscow, January 2016
Photo: Reuters

With a mix of fear and defiance, Syria braced Wednesday for a possible U.S. strike in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed dozens over the weekend.

U.S. President Donald Trump twitter Wednesday that Syria and its ally Russia should "prepare themselves" missiles "will be coming."

The Syrian Foreign Ministry denounced Trump's threat to attack the country as "reckless," saying such belligerent rhetoric was "a danger to international peace and security."

The ministry said that Washington's allegations were "unsubstantiated fabrications and lies" and that the alleged chemical attack is being used as a pretext to target Syria.

"We are not surprised by this reckless escalation from a regime like the one in the United States, which has and continues to sponsor terrorism in Syria," the ministry said, adding that statements from Washington lack "wisdom and logic" and endanger international peace and security.

The statement was the latest in a war of words raging between Washington and Moscow since Saturday's chemical attack on the rebel-held town Douma, just outside Damascus, which killed more than 40 people.

The World Health Organization said about 500 patients showed signs of exposure to toxic chemicals following the Douma attack.

Syria denies such an attack happened.

Trump's threat of retaliatory military action prompted a slew of Russian comments warning that U.S. strikes could trigger a direct military clash between them.

France said it would consider a response with the United States and Britain. Saudi Arabia said it would support a military operation in Syria.

Syrian Government forces vacated strategic potential targets, including air bases around the country in apparent preparation for incoming strikes.

Defense analysts said Syria's attempt to shelter aircraft, perhaps by locating them alongside Russian military hardware that Washington might be reluctant to strike, could limit the damage that the United States and its allies might be able to inflict on Syrian President Bashar Assad's military.

U.S. military officials were frustrated by Trump's decision to confirm – on social media – the nature of the weapons that would be used in a potential strike on Syria.

"By telegraphing our punch so early, you give the Syrians the opportunity to harden themselves as a target and you give them the opportunity to have more time to think through what our potential response might be," said Christine Wormuth, a former undersecretary of defense for policy in the Obama administration.

The Russian military said on Wednesday it had observed movements of U.S. Navy forces in the Persian Gulf. Any U.S. strike would almost certainly involve the navy, given the risk to aircraft from Russian and Syrian air defenses. A U.S. guided-missile destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, is in the Mediterranean, and other naval assets could be used in an attack.

Wormuth said the early telegraphing of U.S. military actions also allowed Syria, Russia and Iran to think about "how they in return might try to fight back against it."

The tweet by ImageSat International

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was cautious in his public remarks about Syria on Wednesday, disclosing little about the decision-making process on the issue and saying only that the U.S. was still studying the relevant intelligence.

Social media pages were flush with defiant comments, mostly from government supporters, some lamenting Syria's perpetual conflict while others taunted Trump to go through with his threats.

"They [the U.S.] have threatened us a thousand times. Let them go through with it or shut up," said a participant in an online poll asking if Syrians were afraid of a U.S. attack.

"We have become accustomed to such threats that aim to frighten the Syrian people," said Marwan Ghata, 66, an engineer. "We will not leave our houses and our army is ready to retaliate."

Russia has threatened to retaliate against any U.S. strike in Syria, but satellite images showed Wednesday it has moved almost all of its warships out the Port of Tartus in Syria ahead of a potential attack.

The images, taken by Israeli satellite company ImageSat International shows what ImageSat described as Russia's regular deployment of naval vessels in Tartus, including 11 warships, cargo vessels and submarines.

A second image shows most of those vessels gone on Wednesday, with only one Kilo-class submarine remaining in the Syrian port. The company maintained that the other Russian vessels have been "deployed at sea due to possible near-future strikes."

The Port of Tartus is the main military port in Syria and has been used by Russia since the 1970s.

News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


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Israeli airstrike kills Hamas terrorist as Gaza border simmers - Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

by Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff 

Strike follows detonation of a bomb placed on security fence as Israeli troops were working in the area

An IDF tank on the Israel-Gaza Strip border
Illustration: AP

The Israeli Air Force struck Hamas targets in the northern Gaza Strip in the early hours of Thursday morning. The strike followed the triggering of an explosive device on the security fence Wednesday, as IDF engineering troops were working in the area.

The military said a Hamas terrorist cell opened machine-gun fire at the IAF aircraft, which triggered the Color Red rocket alert in the Shaar Hanegev and Sdot Negev regional councils.

Several bullets hit a home in Shaar Hanegev but no injuries were reported.

The military confirmed that the aircraft, which was not hit, eliminated the terrorist cell.

Palestinian medical officials said one Hamas gunman was killed and another wounded in the strike.

Both sides are bracing for Palestinian demonstrations at the Gaza border on Friday – the third round of weekly protests that are scheduled to peak in mid-May, the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding, which Palestinians mourn.

Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff


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Elizabeth Warren calls on Israel to show restraint in Gaza - JTA

by JTA

US Senator asks Israel to 'respect rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest' after violent riots at Gaza border fence.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
JTA - U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called on the Israeli government to respect the rights of Palestinian Arab protesters on the Gaza border.

Warren, D-Mass., made the call in a statement sent to The Intercept on Wednesday, the online news publication reported the following day.

“I am deeply concerned about the deaths and injuries in Gaza,” Warren said. “As additional protests are planned for the coming days, the Israel Defense Forces should exercise restraint and respect the rights of Palestinians to peacefully protest.”

In addition to Warren, who has been cited as a possible presidential candidate in 2020, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., a Jewish lawmaker who ran in 2016 for the Democratic presidential nomination, late last month tweeted his criticism of Israel’s use of force during border demonstrations and called the killing of Gaza protesters “tragic.”

Three other members of Congress, all Democrats, have publicly voiced concerns about Israeli conduct toward protesters in Gaza: Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont; Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota; and Rep. Barbara Lee of California, according to The Intercept.

The Intercept said that Democratic and Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill contacted by the news magazine would not condemn the killings of protesters or the Israeli military’s attempts to disperse them. Some lawmakers said they did not know enough about the incidents and others put the onus back on the Palestinian Arabs, it reported.

On two successive recent Fridays, Palestinian Arab protesters have gathered at the border with Israel demanding the right to return to lands they claim their ancestors held. Israeli forces have fired on the protesters, killing at least 30, saying they are backed by Hamas and some have been violent, including throwing rocks and burning tires as a smokescreen so some may cross the border.



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Saudi Moderation? Prince Muhammad Is on Shaky Ground - Dr. James M. Dorsey

by Dr. James M. Dorsey

His top-down approach to social change, which brushes aside Saudi history, rests on shaky ground.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 794, April 12, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has dazzled international media and public opinion by lifting some restrictions on women’s rights and holding out hope for the abolishment of others, vowing to return the kingdom to a vague form of moderate Islam that many believe is defined by the social reforms he has already implemented, and curbing the powers of the country’s ultra-conservative leadership. But his top-down approach to social change, which brushes aside Saudi history, rests on shaky ground.

No doubt, Prince Muhammad’s recent reforms have benefitted women and created social opportunity with the introduction of modern forms of entertainment, including the opening this month of Saudi Arabia’s first cinema as well as concerts, theater, and dance performances. Anecdotal evidence testifies to the popularity of these moves, certainly among urban youth.

But Prince Muhammad’s top-down approach to countering religious militancy rests on shaky ground. It involves rewriting history rather than owning up to responsibility, imposing his will on an ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim establishment whose change of heart in publicly backing him lacks credibility, and suppressing religious and secular voices who link religious and social change to political reform.

Prince Muhammad has traced Saudi Arabia’s embrace of ultra-conservatism to 1979. That year, a popular revolt toppled the Shah and replaced Iran’s monarchy with an Islamic republic, and Saudi zealots took control of the Great Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.

While there is no doubt that the kingdom responded to those two events by enhancing the power of Saudi Arabia’s already prevalent ultra-conservative religious establishment, Prince Muhammad is brushing aside Saudi history.

The dominance of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia dates back to 1744, when Muhammad bin Saud, the founder of the Al Saud dynasty, concluded a power sharing agreement with Islamic scholar Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab that lent Bin Saud the religious legitimacy he needed to unify and control Arabia’s warring tribes.

Similarly, Saudi global propagation of Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism significantly accelerated in the wake of the events of 1979 but predates them by almost two decades.

Prince Muhammad’s uncle, King Faisal, who ruled Saudi Arabia from 1964 until his assassination in 1975, embodied the export of ultra-conservatism as a pillar of Saudi diplomacy and soft power. Faisal saw it as a way to create a network of supporters capable of defending the kingdom’s strategic and economic interests while simultaneously catering to the outlook of Saudi Arabia’s religious establishment.

Both the Muslim World League, one of the kingdom’s primary vehicles for the funding of its global campaign, and the Islamic University of Medina were founded in the 1960s. The university served as a citadel of ultra-conservative learning and thought, including the notion that Islamic law dictates unquestioned obedience to the legitimate ruler.

Prince Muhammad has exploited that view to put the religious establishment in its place and legitimize reforms it condemned for decades. In doing so, he not only undermines the credibility of ultra-conservative scholars but also enhances that of both more militant ones and those he has either imprisoned or silenced because they advocated not only social but also democratic reforms like free and fair elections, release of political prisoners, and respect for human rights.

Prince Muhammad’s assertion that Saudi Arabia propagated ultra-conservatism as part of countering communism during the Cold War is not inaccurate, but it ignores the fact that Saudi Arabia felt threatened by Arab nationalism – not simply because countries like Egypt and Syria aligned themselves with the Soviet Union, but also because they questioned the legitimacy of monarchs. Aligning Saudi Arabia with the West, moreover, ensured that the US had a greater stake in the survival of the Sauds.

Born 14 years after the events of 1979, Prince Muhammad’s projection of a kingdom whose liberalism was hijacked by Cold War-inspired policies and errant Islamic scholars jars with the experience of Saudis who are generation older. They recall a process in which post-1979 ultra-conservative social mores were codified into rules, regulations, and laws.

“I was a teenager in the 1970s and grew up in Medina… My memories of those years…are quite different,” said Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist who last year went into self-imposed exile because he feared arrest. “Women weren’t driving cars. I didn’t see a woman drive until I visited my sister and brother-in-law in Tempe, Arizona in 1976. The movie theaters we had were makeshift… You would pay 5 or 10 riyals (then approximately $1.50-$2) to the organizer, who would then give a warning when the religious police approached. To avoid being arrested, a friend of mine broke his leg jumping off a wall. In the 1970s, the only places on the Arabian Peninsula where women were working outside the home or school were Kuwait and Bahrain.”

Prince Muhammad seemed to acknowledge ultra-conservatism’s long-standing and deep-seated shaping of Saudi culture when he was asked about abolishing the kingdom’s system of male guardianship that forces women to get approval of a male relative for most major decisions in their lives. “We want to move on it and figure out a way to treat this that doesn’t harm families and doesn’t harm the culture,” Prince Muhammad said.

Khashoggi traces the formalization of existing social restrictions on women’s rights not to an edict issued by the religious establishment but to an attempt by a 19-year-old princess to elope with her lover. The couple’s drama, ending in public execution in 1977, was described in ‘Death of a Princess,’ a dramatized 1980 British documentary that strained relations between Britain and Saudi Arabia.

The incident marked the kingdom’s first major effort to use its financial and energy muscle to thwart freedom of the press beyond its borders and shape its international image. It also spurred codification of the suppression of women’s rights.

“The reaction of the government to the princess’s elopement was swift: The segregation of women became more severe, and no woman could travel without the consent of a male relative… MBS would like to advance a new narrative for my country’s recent history, one that absolves the government of any complicity in the adoption of strict Wahhabi doctrine. That simply isn’t the case,” Khashoggi said (referring to Muhammad bin Salman by his initials).

Liberals were already warning in the 1970s that the restrictions would tarnish the kingdom’s image. Celebrated poet and novelist Ghazi al-Gosaibi, who served as minister of industry and electricity, urged King Khalid in a handwritten letter in 1980 to shy away from banning the projection of women’s images in the media “so we would not be made an example of rigidity and stagnation in front of the whole world.”

Al-Gosaibi’s warning fell on deaf ears at the time, but it has been heard loud and clear by Prince Muhammad. To put his reforms on solid footing, however, Prince Muhammad will have to acknowledge and confront his country’s demons and pursue structural reform including a revamping of religious education, which is currently limited to shaving off raw ends like hate speech. Structural reform will also have to entail the grooming of a more independent and critical class of Islamic scholars. Such reform is preferable to simply whitewashing the royal family’s role, whipping former allies into subservience, and suppressing any expression of dissent.

“Strangling moderate independent Islamic discourse may succeed in silencing democratic voices within Islam in Saudi Arabia, but it will also create a vacuum for the less moderate discourse that the state has shown it tolerates,” said Abdullah Alaoudh, a post-doctoral fellow in Islamic Law and Civilization and the son of Salman al-Odah, a Saudi scholar imprisoned since September for calling for social as well as political reform.

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

Dr. James M. Dorsey, a non-resident Senior Associate at the BESA Center, is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture.


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