Friday, May 4, 2018

14 Members of Congress call to stop aid to PA, citing PMW documentation - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

PMW sends evidence of PA violation of the Taylor Force Act to the Secretary of State and Congress

Last week, Palestinian Media Watch sent a report to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo with copies to members of Congress documenting that the Palestinian Authority had failed to implement the four conditions demanded by the Taylor Force Act, and thus were ineligible for further American funding.

Following PMW's report, 14 members of Congress sent a letter to the Secretary of State citing the documentation in PMW's report, and concluding: "... we urge you to immediately suspend all aid payments to the Palestinian Authority." [Washington Free Beacon, May 1, 2018]

PMW's report exposed that the Palestinian Authority budget for 2018 includes payments to terrorists and the families of so-called "Martyrs." PMW's report also included the following statement by PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas explicitly rejecting America's demands to stop paying salaries to terrorist prisoners:

From PMW's report p. 2:


Even before the Taylor Force Act (TFA) was signed into law and before the PA demonstrated its rejection through its budget, the PA publicly announced that it rejected the demands of the TFA:
a)    PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to the PLO Central Council:
"There is something that the Americans are telling us to stop - the salaries of the Martyrs and the Martyrs' families. Of course, we categorically reject this. We will not under any circumstances allow anyone to harm the families of the prisoners, the wounded, and the Martyrs. They are our children and they are our families. They honor us, and we will continue to pay them before the living."
[Official PA TV, Jan. 14, 2018]

 Click to view video of Abbas

This statement by Abbas from PMW's report openly rejecting the American request and the terms of the Taylor Force Act was quoted in its entirety by the 14 members of Congress in their letter to the Secretary of State (see yellow below).

The following is the letter:

[Washington Free Beacon, May 1, 2018]

The Taylor Force Act - a bill named after US citizen Taylor Force who was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv on March 8, 2016, which calls to cut almost all funding to the PA if it continues paying salaries to terrorists and allowances to families of "Martyrs." On March 23, 2018, the bill was approved by the American Congress and signed into law by US President Donald Trump.

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik


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Israel Mounts Daring Operation Against Tehran - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

Enforces its red lines in Syria.

On Sunday, in the late evening hours, a mysterious explosion rocked an army base belonging to Bashar Assad’s 47th Brigade near the city of Hama. Other targets near Aleppo were also reportedly hit. The blast at Hama was so powerful that it generated massive seismic activity, registering 2.6 on the Richter magnitude scale according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Center.

But this was no earthquake. It was a precision military strike aimed at destroying a large cache of missiles recently airlifted by Tehran from Mehrabad airbase to Hama’s military airport, through Iraqi airspace. Iran effectively controls Baghdad making the task of illegally transporting contraband through Iraqi airspace a rather simple affair.

According to reports, the strike hit pay dirt, igniting a stockpile of some 200 rockets and missiles, including anti-aircraft missiles, and generating a series of enormous secondary explosions. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 40 pro-regime mercenaries were killed in the blasts and some 60 were wounded. The SOHR noted that the death toll could climb. The semi-official Iranian news agency INSA reported that at least 18 Iranians were killed including a commander, a claim swiftly denied by the Islamic Republic, which for obvious reasons doesn’t like to advertise its losses or show images of its elite troops coming home in body bags. Satellite images of the site taken shortly after the blasts revealed widespread destruction with at least 13 buildings either severely damaged or leveled entirely. 

Iran and Syria initially blamed Israel for the attack but swiftly backtracked claiming that the attack was carried out by the United States and Britain. Some conspiracy theorists have even suggested that the Russians were responsible. These claims are dubious at best and in all likelihood, the attack was executed by the Israeli Air Force, a claim corroborated by three unnamed U.S. officials according to NBC. The Iranian/Syrian vacillation concerning assignment of blame remains a mystery.

Israel, which has carried out over 100 strikes in Syria in recent years, has no interest in being dragged into the Syrian quagmire but has set its own red lines that if crossed, would trigger a robust military response. Israeli leaders have repeatedly warned that they would not tolerate the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy militia that effectively controls Lebanon. More importantly, Israel is concerned about Iranian entrenchment in Syria and the possibility that Iran is seeking to open up another front against Israel.

Israeli fears are not unwarranted and have been proven correct. In Mid-February, the Iranians sent an explosive-laden drone, modeled after a captured American RQ-170, into the Jordan Valley. The UAV, which was being tracked by the Israelis from the moment it was launched, was promptly shot down by an Apache attack helicopter of the 113th Squadron. Israel then struck and destroyed the UAV’s control vehicle but an F-16 was shot down in the process. Both pilots safely ejected. Israel responded by destroying 1/3 to 1/2 of Syria’s surface-to-air missile batteries and further struck four Iranian bases.

In early April, Israel struck the T-4 airbase near the Syrian city of Homes severely disrupting Iranian drone operations in Syria. According to the SOHR, at least 14 people, including Syrian army personnel were killed. Iran admitted to the loss of 7 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps operatives including a colonel who was in charge of Iranian drone operations in Syria.

The heightened tensions come amidst the revelation of an astonishing Israeli intelligence coup. Early this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed to the world that Israeli intelligence agents (probably belonging to the Mossad) had seized a half-ton worth of documents and CDs containing top secret information regarding Iran’s opaque weaponized nuclear program that the Islamic Republic tried to conceal from the IAEA and the international community. The documents were seized from a highly secure facility in Tehran, which was only known to a few high-level Iranians, “and a few Israelis,” as Netanyahu dryly noted with a satisfying grin.

The Mossad’s intelligence coup resulted in a second ancillary achievement. It succeeded in sowing discord and suspicion within the highest echelons of the mullah establishment. The news of the Israeli action was greeted in Tehran with a wave of arrests. The mullahs are pointing accusatory fingers at each other with no one willing to accept responsibility for the embarrassing fiasco. 

As part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran’s leaders were required to come clean about their past nuclear activities but they blatantly lied when they asserted that they had no weaponized nuclear program, an assertion flatly contradicted by the seized documents. The entire deal was thus premised on a lie. Moreover, the documents show that Iran violated clause T82.1 of the JCPOA which prohibits Iran from engaging in “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” Iran’s retention of this technology and its attempts to conceal it from inspectors by transferring it to secretive locations constitutes a serious breach of the agreement.

President Trump has sought to modify the agreement by ending the JCPOA’s sunset clauses on Iranian uranium enrichment, allowing unfettered inspections of sites like the highly opaque Parchin facility, which is currently off limits to inspectors, and curbing Iranian ICBM testing and development. Given Iran’s penchant for lying (confirmed by the seizure of the documents) and its increased aggressive stance and malign influence on five continents, these demands are quite reasonable. 

On May 12, Trump is set to decide whether the United States will pull out of the JCPOA. The daring Israeli operation has exposed Iran for what it is and has undoubtedly tilted the balance heavily in favor of those who believe that the Iran deal, standing as is, has harmed rather than helped the cause of world peace.   

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


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New Israel Fund blames human error for pro-BDS post - Arutz Sheva Staff

by Arutz Sheva Staff

The controversial organization says human error led to Adalah sharing Amnesty International petition calling for boycott of Israel.

Adalah Post
Adalah Post
The New Israel Fund (NIF) blamed "human error" after one of its affiliated organizations shared a Facebook post calling for a boycott of Israel.

Last week, the Adalah Arab legal aid organization shared a link to an Amnesty International petition calling on an arms boycott to Israel for what it alleged was the IDF's warrantless killing of Gazans.

"The time for symbolic statements of condemnation is over," read the post. "Israel is carrying out a murderous attack against Palestinians protesting in Gaza, with its armed forces killing and maiming protesters who pose no immediate threat."

The New Israel Fund has given Adalah $2 million over the last decade. However, the NIF says that the fund will not support an organization calling for a boycott of Israel.

According to the NIF, it "opposes the boycott and will not support any organization calling for a boycott. Regarding the post, this was a human error and the post was removed from Adalah's Facebook page."

Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel "was founded in 1996. Its founder, Attorney Hassan Jabareen, is a graduate of the NIF scholarship program. In the past, the organization published the "Democratic Constitution," a draft constitution for Israel that nullifies its Jewish character.

Adalah's post
Screen capture

Arutz Sheva Staff


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Lebanese Journalist: Hizbullah Settling In Syria As Part Of Iranian Plan To Change Its Demography - MEMRI


The effort to resettle parts of Syria with Shi'ites instead of Sunnis

In his April 21, 2018 column in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, titled "Hizbullah Resettling in Syria," Ahmad 'Ayyash referred to the policy of transfer and forced demographic change that the Bashar Al-Assad regime has been conducting in Syria over the past several years, with the assistance of Hizbullah and its other allies. [1] According to 'Ayyash, this is actually an Iranian "settlement project," which involves expelling residents from various parts of the country and resettling these areas with Shi'ite members of Hizbullah and of other Iran-backed militias, who prevent the original residents from returning to their homes. He warned that the presence of these new settlers in Syria may not be temporary.

The following are excerpts from his column:

Hizbullah fighters in Syria (image: Al-Nahar, Lebanon, April 21, 2018)

"Hizbullah's involvement in the Syria war is not confined to military action aimed at propping up the Syrian regime. [Its goals] extend much further than that, and have to do with an Iranian settlement project whose implementation began several years ago. The aim [of this project] is changing the demography [of Syria] by settling [it with members of] Iran-backed [Shi'ite] militias from Afghanistan, Lebanon and other countries in the region.

"Naturally, the world is currently occupied with the implications of the chemical [weapons] issue, which came up again after the Assad regime used such weapons... in Douma, near Damascus. But while addressing the issue of the chemical weapons, [the world] is ignoring the ongoing plan of demographic cleansing, as part of which tens of thousands of Syrians were transferred from their homes in Ghouta to northern Syria several days ago, and thousands of others left eastern Al-Qalamun, near Damascus, [as part of a move] 'brokered by Russia'...

"[These] tens of thousands of Syrians left their ancestral homes, where their families had been living for generations, just as hundreds of thousands of [other] Syrians had previously left their homes in Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Al-Qusayr. The world is oblivious [to the fact] that Iran has been acting vigorously to fill the demographic vacuum [left by these Syrians], with Hizbullah acting as the chief executive arm of this [project]. Whoever doubts the existence of this Iranian plan can read statements made by Ali Akbar Velayati, an advisor to Supreme Leader [Khamenei], as quoted by the Iranian news agency Mehr. [He said]: 'The Islamic awakening on our resistance front begins in Tehran and extends to Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Palestine, and will soon include Yemen as well. Were it not for Iran's support, Baghdad and Damascus would have been occupied by ISIS today, and Beirut would have been occupied by Israel.'

"Several weeks ago, Al-Nahar received information that people from Al-Qusayr had appealed to the Syrian regime for permission to return to their properties in that town, and had received permission to do so. But when they reached the town, they found themselves facing Hizbullah militiamen, who are still militarily occupying the town, and who ordered them back, saying: 'Whoever gave you permission [to return is welcome] to give you back your property.' According to the information [we received], Hizbullah is investing in developing thousands of acres in this area, known for its fertile fields, and will directly reap the profits.

"One of the most disturbing aspects of the Iranian plan in Syria was reported by our colleague, [Lebanese journalist] Randa Taqi Al-Din, in the daily Al-Hayat. She cited French sources, who assessed that Hizbullah will transform from the 'Lebanese Hizbullah' into the 'Syrian Hizbullah,' because its members are currently settling in Syria along with the Iranians.[2] 

"On May 6, thousands of these [Hizbullah] 'settlers' will be bussed to voting booths in Lebanon, and especially in the Baalbek-Hermel governorate, [to vote in Lebanon's parliamentary elections]. Then they will return to their 'properties,' to continue carrying out their 'duty of jihad.'"  

[2] Randa Taqi Al-Din's report stated: "Some circles assess that Hizbullah will split into Hizbullah Lebanon and Hizbullah Syria, because Hizbullah members are settling in Syria along with the Iranians. The families of Hizbullah fighters who were killed have been compensated with homes in Homs and other areas." Al-Hayat (Dubai), April 20, 2018. 



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World fumes over Abbas’s antisemitism - Tovah Lazaroff, Tamara Zieve

by Tovah Lazaroff, Tamara Zieve

UN, EU, US, Germany, Sweden, Shapiro, Kerry, Peace Now unite in censure.

Even Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s diplomatic friends condemned him.

Friends and foes alike blasted Abbas as an “antisemite” and a “Holocaust denier,” after he charged that the Nazis killed Jews in the Holocaust because they were money lenders.

“The Holocaust did not occur in a vacuum, it was the result of thousands of years of persecution,” UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov said on Wednesday.

“This is why attempts to rewrite, downplay or deny it are dangerous.”

Mladenov along with the European Union, Sweden, Germany and US officials from both the Trump and Obama administrations spoke out sharply against Abbas’s words spoken Monday night to the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah.

Abbas chose to “repeat some of the most contemptuous antisemitic slurs, including the suggestion that the social behavior of Jews was the cause for the Holocaust,” Mladenov said.

Israeli leaders have long charged Abbas with antisemitism, but it is unusual for the UN to do so, given its strong support for the Palestinian cause.

Mladenov also took issue with the portion of Abbas’s speech in which he charged that Ashkenazi Jews did not have roots in the Middle East, as he again attempted to disconnect Judaism from Zionism and the rights of Jews in the Land of Israel.

“Denying the historic and religious connection of the Jewish people to the land and their holy sites in Jerusalem stands in contrast to reality,” Mladenov said.

The Palestinians tried unsuccessfully to walk back the speech.

PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA: “President Abbas has stressed frequently his respect for the religion of Judaism, and that our problem is with who occupies our land.”

Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro wrote, “It’s over for Mahmoud Abbas. What a disgusting note to go out on.”

The Israeli left-wing organization Peace Now, which typically accuses Israel of thwarting the peace process, said Abbas’s speech was “vile,” “completely unacceptable, thoroughly offensive, and damaging to efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace.”

Germany Foreign Minister Heiko Maas took to Twitter to declare that it was Germany, not the Jews, who were responsible for the Holocaust.

“We reject any relativization of the Holocaust,” Maas tweeted. “Germany bears responsibility for the most atrocious crime of human history.”

The European Union, which has long lauded Abbas as a man of peace, said his speech “contained unacceptable remarks concerning the origins of the Holocaust and Israel’s legitimacy. Such rhetoric will only play into the hands of those who do not want a two-state solution, which President Abbas has repeatedly advocated.

Antisemitism is not only a threat for Jews but a fundamental menace to our open and liberal societies. The European Union remains committed to combat any form of antisemitism and any attempt to condone, justify or grossly trivialize the Holocaust.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, known for her strong support of the Palestinians, tweeted a statement against Abbas that was similar to that of the EU.

Sweden is the only Western European country that recognizes the “state of Palestine.”

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu said, “Abu Mazen [Abbas] gave another antisemitic speech. With utmost ignorance and brazen gall, he claimed that European Jews were persecuted and murdered not because they were Jews, but because they gave loans with interest.

Abu Mazen again recited the most contemptible antisemitic canards. Apparently the Holocaust denier is still a Holocaust denier. I call on the international community to condemn Abu Mazen’s severe antisemitism; the time has come for it to pass from the world.”

Former US secretary of state John Kerry, who served under the Obama administration, said that Abbas comments were “wrong, ugly, and unacceptable – anywhere from anyone – but particularly from anyone who says he wants to be a peacemaker.

No excuses for antisemitism: words to be condemned, not explained away.”

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was more circumspect, writing, “Abu Mazen has reached a new low in attributing the cause of massacres of Jewish people over the years to their “social behavior relating to interest and banks. To all those who think Israel is the reason that we don’t have peace, think again.”

Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon sent a letter to the Security Council and asked it to condemn Abbas’s “hateful” speech.

President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein also blasted the PA president’s speech.

The European Jewish Congress called on European officials to cease all contact with Abbas until he apologized.

“For far too long, European leaders have given Mahmoud Abbas the benefit of the doubt over his repeated incitement against Israel, the Jewish people and his denial of the Holocaust,” said Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress.

“This must come to an end and he must be treated like any racist or antisemite and contact with him must cease until he apologizes.

It is clear what the course of action European leaders would take if this was a neo-Nazi or far-right leader.

The comments and ideology are seemingly identical so the treatment should be the same.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO, said, “With public speeches like these, it is not surprising that under Abbas’s leadership, the Palestinian Authority has failed to renounce and combat Palestinian antisemitic incitement.”

The Anti-Defamation League also slammed Abbas’s comments, saying, “laden with ahistorical and pseudo- academic assertions, the Palestinian president’s latest diatribe reflects once again the depth and persistency of the antisemitic attitudes he harbors.”

The World Jewish Congress denounced Abbas for his “so-called history lesson,” calling his speech a “repugnant litany of propaganda and conspiracies dripping of sheer antisemitic incitement and vile.”

“The World Jewish Congress unequivocally condemns Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s despicable and outrageous exploitation of the oldest antisemitic tropes in the book, going so low as to accuse Jews of bringing genocide upon themselves, in some twisted attempt to disprove the Jewish historical connection to the Land of Israel.”

Abbas said in his speech that Jews living in Europe had suffered massacres “every 10 to 15 years in some countries since the 11th century and until the Holocaust.”

Citing books written by various authors, Abbas argued: “They say hatred against Jews was not because of their religion, it was because of their social profession.

So the Jewish issue that had spread against the Jews across Europe was not because of their religion, it was because of usury and banks.”

Abbas’s views on the Holocaust have long been suspect.

In 1982, Abbas obtained a doctorate in history at the Moscow’s Institute of Oriental Studies in the then-Soviet Union. His dissertation, titled “The Secret Relationship between Nazism and the Zionist Movement,” drew widespread criticism from Jewish groups, who accused him of Holocaust denial. It was published as a book in 1984. In the book, Abbas dismissed as a “myth” and “fantastic lie” that six million Jews had died in the Holocaust, writing that the at most “890,000” were killed.

Daniel Roth in New York and Reuters contributed to this report.

Tovah Lazaroff, Tamara Zieve


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Former CIA Chief Blames Trump for Creating "Post-Truth" World - Michael Ledeen

by Michael Ledeen

But the intelligence world is totally complicit.

Truth and post-truth.

Those of us who have spent a lot of time in archives, trying to piece together what actually happened, will love this story about forgeries in a French art museum:

More than half the paintings owned by a southern French museum are worthless fakes, and authorities fear more forgeries may be on display at other public galleries.

The small museum in Elne, dedicated to local artist Etienne Terrus, a contemporary of Henri Matisse, learned that 82 of its 140 works are fakes after art historian Eric Forcadea raised the alarm.

Forcadea noticed while helping to prepare an exhibit that some of the paintings attributed to the Terrus featured buildings built after his 1922 death.

So the museum was tricked, as were those who visited it and thought they’d learned something about art history.  In the big picture, no big cheese, you may say, but this is an important story.  It shows us that the “truth” can be falsified with astonishing ease and effect.  Who knows how many “experts” looked at the forgeries without noticing the anachronism—buildings that didn’t exist during Terrus’ lifetime—until one careful scholar sounded the alarm.

General Michael Hayden, who once headed CIA and also NSA, needs to ponder this.  Instead, he lashes out at (not surprisingly) President Trump in the New York Times for saying things Hayden believes are false.  And he claims that Trump thereby jeopardizes the very quest for truth in America.

“We in the intelligence world have dealt with obstinate and argumentative presidents through the years,” Hayden intones.  “But we have never served a president for whom ground truth really doesn’t matter.”  So Hayden thinks that Trump has issued in a new era, which he dubs “post truth.”

We don’t get to the truth very often, especially, as General Hayden should know better than most, when it’s buried (or not there at all) in a pile of “intelligence” that has been amassed through means that are often illegal, and where the “sources” have many incentives to provide false information. 

I read a lot of material from “the intelligence world” way back in the 1980s, and frankly wasn’t very impressed.  The intelligence folks, very much including General Hayden’s agencies, were very far from “ground truth” on subjects of consummate importance, such as Iran and the Soviet Union.  Some of my colleagues suspected that the intelligence community must have known better, but were distorting the truth in order to support policy views that were very different from President Reagan’s.  CIA has a long record of misreading Iran, starting before the Islamic Revolution.  It failed miserably to analyze the piteous state of the East German system, and so forth.

The recent revelations by Israel about Iran’s secret nuclear program, which show that the Iranians have been violating their public promises, are the latest in a long series of American intelligence failures. 

Surely General Hayden knows all this, and much more than I do.  For him to hold up the intelligence community as a model of the search for truth is ludicrous.  It isn’t qualitatively better than the French experts who stocked their museum with forgeries. In my world, most of the time we fail to correctly collect information, thus arriving at false conclusions, thereby ensuring misguided policies.

Not that General Hayden is wrong to warn us the perils of “post truth” claims;  he’s quite right about that.  But an intelligence professional should apply these important standards across the board.  If you want to see a fine example of the quest for truth, read Mollie Hemingway’s outstanding deconstruction of the Times’ wildly inaccurate, clearly politically biased effort to slime Devin Nunes.  Her bottom line:

The New York Times article is riddled with factual errors that are denied on the record by multiple sources. It fails to include information that was easily found and in the public record. And all for the goal of derailing rigorous oversight of intelligence agencies.

So by all means pursue the truth as best you can, but pursue it thoroughly.  General Hayden doesn’t do that.  He blames error on Trump, which is silly;  error has long abounded, and will continue forever.  And our intelligence desperately needs serious remedial attention.  Pretending otherwise, blaming it on one president or another, just delays the reckoning.

Many years ago, Daniel Patrick Moynihan called for the abolition of CIA.  He thought we needed to reconstruct the whole thing.  He was right then (the early sixties, as I recall) and the advice applies with greater force today.

Michael Ledeen


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Did Comey Learn His Monkey Trick from Adam Schiff? - Henry Scanlon

by Henry Scanlon

It isn't just rhetorical gymnastics and sleight-of-hand, although that's part of it.

How the heck do they do it, Comey and Schiff? Each can deliver a string of half-truths, contradictions, outlandish obfuscations, distortions, misrepresentations, and even preposterously self-serving whoppers in a way – and here's the monkey trick – that makes him seem, on balance, and taken as a whole...reasonable.

Anderson Cooper dinged Comey pretty hard, and then Brett Baier absolutely hammered him, but if you don't know the underlying facts, the contradictory things previously said; if you don't know the history of vicious predation; if you don't realize that the narrative is rife with holes and implausibilities; in short, if you are not paying very close attention, it all comes off as a guy reading off the latest baseball statistics or offering a favorite recipe for shrimp and grits – what sounds remarkably like the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but which is fully, completely, shrewdly exsanguinated. There is no blood, no guts, no there. A recitative... It's as if, rather than being a participant in the events under discussion, they are reviewing a movie, each a dispassionate critic passing aesthetic rather than moral judgment from the vantage point of a merely observing (and therefore unaccountable) audience member.

Weirdly, it seems to work: they come off as reasonable guys, giving reasonable answers in good faith and with innocent intention. Somehow, the fact that none of it hangs together and all of it is self-serving fails to register. As such, they get a pass.

Here's the way Jonah Goldberg put it in a tweet:
I don't think people appreciate Adam Schaff's [sic] incredible talent to sound above the fray, non partisan and more in sorrow than in anger, while being hyper partisan.
It's odd, even a bit creepy. How could stuff that tendentious, that self-serving, that shaded, slanted, and purposefully obfuscatory, come off as so...not that?

It isn't just rhetorical gymnastics and sleight-of-hand, although that's part of it. "That's not my understanding"; "That's not my recollection"; and "That's a fair point, but I don't see it that way" are all useful dodges to get nettlesome accusations and implications to ricochet off into more comfortable pastures. But it's actually something else: look closely, and you'll see that the primary ingredient is – no ingredient. That is, no emotion. That is, no human emotion. That is, not reacting as you and I would if we were caught in a lie, an exaggeration, a deflection, or an obvious contradiction.

You and I would get indignant and defensive, even if we tried to hide it. Our voices could rise a pitch. Our body language would reveal our discomfort; we might even squirm a tad. So, too, if things were going the other way, if we were making an accusation, pointing out a wrongdoing; if we were attempting to imply malfeasance, mendacity, or criminality on someone else's part, we might appear, at the very least, chagrined if not aggressive. "J'accuse!" There would be some hint of humanity in our behavior, some revelation of our inner shock or contempt or indignation, our humanity.

But watch Comey and Schiff. Nothing. Emotional flatline. Only well saddled and judiciously inserted regret, a kind of ruefulness that their high-throned fealty to truth-telling requires them to reveal things that, yes, others would no doubt find upsetting, even shocking, but they, Spock-like, merely report. "I never could have imagined saying this, but..." is a phrase designed to mask one's feeling about the behavior itself while crafting theatrics of disappointment that one has (unfairly, but who's complaining?) been put in the position of having to reveal it.

But since they, themselves, have no dog in the fight, only the obligation of duty, their posture, demeanor, voice intonation, and anodyne rhetoric accurately reflects the neutrality of their purely public-service motivations. This allows them to employ – which they both do constantly – the incredibly weaselly technique of invoking their access to privileged, classified information to imply without actually saying it that they have seen the goods on their opponent, things you can't see but they can, or have, but then, at the same time, due to their vaunted commitment to honorable behavior, "I can't talk about that." As in: "Yes, I know whether Joe Blow is a wife-beating, drug-addicted child predator – but I can neither confirm nor deny it." Guess how Joe Blow is faring in that little exchange!

It's a trick. It works, and it's a lot harder to do than they make it look. If you can convince people you are not involved in what you are saying, merely a messenger whose internal ethical rudder compels fealty to truth-telling with disregard for the consequences those truths might engender, your words will tend to be taken at face value, rather than as a calculated attempt to implement a particular strategy such as exonerating yourself or incriminating an opponent. That's the irony: it's all about emotion, or the lack of it, rather than substance. If you can say it in way where you can convince people you don't care about the implications, or, at least, you don't care to manipulate those implications, you come off as righteous.

It's unclear how the two of them got so good at it, but they certainly are. As Comey's day in the spotlight approached, did he take note of Schiff's technique, on display incessantly as Schiff eagerly galumphed from one friendly camera-op to another?

If Comey did, the chances are he's starting a chain. There will be others, because it works, and people are taking note. Watch for it. We may be witnessing the ascendancy of the robo-politician, and the only way to derail it might be a degree of determination to hold their feet to the fire that most of the mainstream media have no desire to do, even if they had the ability, which, these days, they don't. (Gee, thanks, Columbia Journalism School!)

All of this recalls, somehow, and maybe incongruously, the day in 1958 when Yankees manager Casey Stengel was summoned to give testimony in Congress. (The issue was whether baseball should be allowed to keep its monopoly status, but no matter.) Stengel was considered by many to be a crackpot and by many others to be a crackpot genius. He was asked one question. One. He proceeded to give an early clinic on how to appear cooperative and sound sincere while serving up a completely incomprehensible word salad designed to avoid even a scintilla of actual responsiveness or accountability. It was a meandering, soaring masterpiece of rhetorical acrobatics. Every time he began to teeter on the high-wire, threatening to fall and crash to earth, he somehow regained his balance and instead surged forward with increased momentum. This went on until, finally, he arrived at not so much a conclusion as a random stop in mid-sentence, nevertheless, apparently, done. The room sat in stunned silence, utterly incapable of figuring out what to do with all this. Finally, the chairman regained enough presence of mind to ask the next witness, Mickey Mantle, if he had anything to add. The Mick leaned into the microphone and said what was perhaps the only thing that could possibly be called for. "My views are just about the same as Casey's."

Believe me: Casey and The Mick have absolutely nothing on Adam and James.

Henry Scanlon is a writer and photographer from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. See more at Twitter: hscanlon33.


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Questions for Special Counsel Mueller - Lloyd Billingsley

by Lloyd Billingsley

Turning the tables on President Trump’s interrogator-in-chief.

Special Counsel and former FBI boss Robert Mueller is on record that President Trump is not a target of his investigation, yet the questions he wants to ask the president have now been leaked to the media. Since the questions are fully predictable and totally without significance, President Trump should not waste his time. On the other hand, the president, and all Americans, might pony up a few questions for Herr Mueller his own self. 

Investigations normally pursue a crime. What crime, exactly, are you investigating? Given the time and money you have put in, the people have a right to know.

Special Counsel Mueller, if you operate in search of collusion, what statute, exactly, would you use to prosecute collusion? Please supply the numbers in the U.S. code.

Special Counsel Mueller, you have been called a man of great integrity. Why did you front-load your investigative team with highly partisan supporters of Hillary Clinton? Were independent, non-partisan lawyers not available? 

If your target is Russian influence in general, Special Counsel Mueller, why are you not investigating the Clinton Foundation and its dealings with Russia? Have you consulted the book Clinton Cash? 

Special Counsel Mueller, what is your understanding of Fanny Ohr? She is the Russia expert, wife of demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr, who worked for Fusion GPS on the Steele dossier. In your expert opinion, why might Fanny Ohr have acquired a short-wave radio license about that time? Was it to communicate with Russian contacts and avoid detection? Did the FBI monitor any of Ohr’s communications?

As you know, Peter Strzok was formerly FBI counterintelligence boss, a very important position. Why was agent Strzok unable to detect the work of the Democrats’ IT man Imran Awan, who had no security clearance but gained repeated unauthorized access to computers of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs Committees? Was that because agent Strzok was busy exonerating presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for her destruction of evidence, including more than 30,000 emails.

Agent Strzok changed “gross negligence,” which was a crime, to “extremely careless,” which was not, and FBI boss James Comey repeated that change. What is your take on that? Did you ever exonerate a suspect before you even talked to them? 

In your view, former FBI Director Mueller, what was all that business with Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton out on the tarmac? Was it just to exchange pleasantries? Given the time and money you have put in, the public has a right to know. 

As you know, Special Counsel Mueller, the FBI sought to identify and discipline the agent who made public the Lynch-Clinton meeting. Who is that person and what is he or she doing now? As you know, agent Strzok still has his badge, his gun and his security clearance. 

As you also know, the Communist Party USA was created and sustained by Soviet Russia. In the 1980 and 1984 elections, their candidates were Gus Hall for president and Angela Davis for vice president. Former FBI Director Mueller, how much did Russia spend on those elections? Or did the FBI not bother with Russian intervention in those days? 

Former CIA boss John Brennan is claiming that Donald Trump will be relegated to the dustbin of history. In 1976, Brennan voted for the Stalinist Gus Hall for president. In your opinion, former FBI Director Mueller, should that have disqualified Brennan from working for the CIA? And would you have hired him at the FBI? If so, in what capacity? 

As you know, Special Counsel Mueller, the FBI failed to stop Omar Mateen’s attack in Florida, and despite warnings failed to stop the Tsarnaev brothers from bombing the Boston Marathon. Why did the powerful agency you once headed fail to stop those acts of terrorism that claimed so many innocent lives?

The FBI was aware of Major Nidal Hasan’s emails to terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki but failed to stop him from murdering 13 unarmed American soldiers at Fort Hood. Sen. Joseph Liebeman sought to make the Hasan-Awlaki emails public but the FBI blocked their release. 

Former FBI Director Mueller, when reporters asked you if the FBI had dropped the ball by failing to act, you said, “No. I think, given the context of the discussions and the situation that the agents and the analysts were looking at, they took appropriate steps.” Any second thoughts on that? At the time you expressed no regret over Hasan’s victims, but maybe you have some now? 

Given that massive and deadly failure on your watch, why should the people have any confidence in your current probe? Given the time and money you have put in, your team of Clinton cronies, and the absence of any crime or collusion, the people have a right to know. Meanwhile, please indulge a final question

As Paul Kengor showed in The Communist, the FBI had an extensive file on African American Stalinist Frank Marshall Davis, who was in fact a Soviet agent. Were you aware that Frank Marshall Davis was the man known only as “Frank” in the Dreams from My Father book by POTUS 44? Did that ever come up in your time as FBI Director from 2001-2013? The people would sure like to know. 

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of the new crime book, Lethal Injections: Elizabeth Tracy Mae Wettlaufer, Canada’s Serial Killer Nurse, and the recently updated Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation.


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A Nobel for Trump! - Ruthie Blum

by Ruthie Blum

-- the US president's historic initiative to denuclearize the Korean peninsula deserves this recognition

  • "President Trump's peace through strength policies are working and bringing peace to the Korean peninsula. We can think of no one more deserving of the Committee's recognition in 2019 than President Trump for his tireless work to bring peace to our world." — 18 Members of the US Congress to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, May 2, 2018.
US President Donald Trump was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by a group of 18 members of Congress. In a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, dated May 2, Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) and 17 other House lawmakers -- including Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Steve King (R-Iowa) -- wrote that Trump has worked "tirelessly to apply maximum pressure to North Korea to end its illicit weapons programs and bring peace to the region."

The letter further stated that the Trump administration
"successfully united the international community, including China, to impose one of the most successful international sanctions regimes in history. The sanctions have decimated the North Korean economy and have been largely credited for bringing North Korea to the negotiating table. Although North Korea has evaded demands from the international community to cease its aggression for decades, President Trump's peace through strength policies are working and bringing peace to the Korean peninsula. We can think of no one more deserving of the Committee's recognition in 2019 than President Trump for his tireless work to bring peace to our world."
Although the letter constituted a formal nomination, it was not the first suggestion that Trump might, or should, win a Nobel Peace Prize. On May 1 -- mere days after an historic summit between Moon and North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un, during which the two leaders vowed to work toward "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula -- Moon was quoted by a Blue House official as saying, "President Trump should win the Nobel Peace Prize. What we need is only peace."

US President Donald Trump and President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea in Washington, D.C., June 30, 2017. (Image source: White House/Shealah Craighead)

As she walked the red carpet of the White House Correspondents' dinner on April 30, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked by a Pajamas Media reporter whether Trump would be eligible for a Nobel Peace Prize in the event that North Korea actually agrees to denuclearize, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) replied:
"We're a long way from that, but let's see. There's always an opportunity for a president of the United States to qualify. Let's see how it goes."
Pelosi and other Trump detractors are in an uncomfortable position where the Nobel Peace Prize is concerned. Former US President Barack Obama was awarded the prize in 2009, "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama's vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons."

In 2015, however, the non-voting Director of the Nobel Institute until 2014, Geir Lundestad, published a memoir -- "Fredens sekretær. 25 år med Nobelprisen" ("Secretary of Peace: 25 years with the Nobel Prize") -- in which he expressed regret about the decision to give the prize to Obama, "as it did not achieve what the committee had hoped for."

However the upcoming discussions between the US and North Korea turn out, regardless of whether one is Republican, Democrat or independent, the US president's historic initiative to denuclearize the Korean peninsula deserves this recognition.

Ruthie Blum is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"


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Turkey: Erdoğan's World of Terrorists Includes Everyone but Terrorists - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

Anyone who freely thinks for himself regarding Turkish President Erdoğan's one-man rule, at home or abroad, can get the label "terrorist."

  • Anyone who freely thinks for himself regarding Turkish President Erdoğan's one-man rule, at home or abroad, can get the label "terrorist."
  • On April 25, a Turkish court sentenced 14 staff members of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet to prison on charges of "terrorism," and handed down sentences ranging from 2½ years to 7½ years.
  • When Erdoğan is not fighting hundreds of millions of "terrorists," including almost the entire European continent, the U.S. and probably half his own nation, he is busy cultivating deeper ties with countries such as Russia, Sudan and Iran.
Many Middle East despots have historically accused the free world of being terrorists.
For Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, for instance, the entire Western civilization is a terrorist machine programmed to spill Muslim blood. Turkey's strongman, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is no exception.

In an April speech Erdoğan, evidently overcome with amnesia regarding Turkey's invasions of Northern Cyprus and, a few weeks ago, Syria's Afrin, called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a "terrorist." Erdoğan told party loyalists:
"We don't have the shame of invading on us, Netanyahu. You are an invader and right now are present in those lands as an invader. At the same time, you are a terrorist."
In another speech, again apparently succumbing to amnesia regarding decades of Arab and Muslim wars against Israel, he said: "You [Israel] are a terrorist state. It is known what you have done in Gaza and what you have done in Jerusalem. You have no one that likes you in the world." -- as if the entire world were a fan of Erdoğan.

On April 7, Erdoğan accused France of abetting terrorists by "hosting them" at the Élysée Palace, amid a diplomatic row between NATO allies Turkey and France over Paris's support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the main, Kurdish-dominated ground force that defeated Islamic State swathes of land in Syria. SDF also is an ally of the U.S. troops fighting in Syria. But Erdoğan said:
"You [France] will not be able to explain this. You will not be able to rid yourself of this terror burden... As long as the West nurtures these terrorists, you will sink".
Then, there is the United States that "works with the terrorists:" In February Turkey warned American soldiers in Syria of the possibility of being treated as terrorists if they keep backing Kurdish militants. Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ threatened that U.S. soldiers risk being caught up in clashes and that Turkish troops would not make a distinction if Americans appear in Kurdish uniforms.

In the worldview of the Turkish government, almost the entire continent of Europe is made up of terrorist states. In an April 25 speech, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım accused European nations, with the exception of Spain, of supporting terrorist organizations. A few weeks earlier, Yıldırım warned Bosnia-Herzegovina, a state friendly to Turkey, that it could be a target if it supported the "Gülenist terror organization," a reference to the Muslim cleric, Fethullah Gülen, who was once Erdoğan's staunch ally, but now is in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

Anyone who freely thinks for himself regarding Erdoğan's one-man rule, at home or abroad, can get the label "terrorist." On March 24, Erdoğan criticized anti-war students at one of Turkey's best universities, Boğaziçi, calling some of the people there terrorists after a fight that erupted on campus over Turkey's military incursion into a Kurdish enclave in neighboring Syria. He called the protesting students "communist, traitor youth" protesting a "religious, nationalist, local youth." The "communist, traitor youth" were immediately detained.

On April 25, a Turkish court sentenced 14 staff members of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet to prison on charges of "terrorism," and handed down sentences ranging from 2½ years to 7½ years. Another defendant in the case, who was not employed by Cumhuriyet and had been charged for his activities on Twitter, got the stiffest sentence, 10 years. "It has been journalism itself that has been in the dock and today's verdicts defy logic and offend justice," said Milena Buyum, Turkey campaigner at rights group Amnesty International. "These politically motivated sentences are clearly intended to instill fear and silence any form of dissent."

All that is insane. When Erdoğan is not fighting hundreds of millions of "terrorists," including almost the entire European continent, the U.S. and probably half his own nation, he is busy cultivating deeper ties with countries such as Russia, Sudan and Iran.

During a December visit to Sudan, Erdoğan called his host, President Omar al-Bashir "his brother". Sadly, Erdoğan's brother, al-Bashir, is a man who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes against his people.

Erdoğan, meanwhile, is allying with Russia and Iran, ironically, to topple Syria's Russia- and Iran-backed dictator, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to "bring peace to Syria" while invading the Kurdish enclaves in the country's north.

In Erdoğan's ideological divide, the world consists of "terrorist" countries such as the entire continent of Europe (minus Spain), plus the U.S. and half of his own country -- as opposed to "noble" countries such as Russia, Sudan and Iran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Sochi, Russia, on November 22, 2017. (Image source:

Burak Bekdil, one of Turkey's leading journalists, was recently fired from Turkey's leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing what was taking place in Turkey for Gatestone. He is a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Great Deception March on Gaza's borders - Noah Beck

by Noah Beck

The biggest deception of all in the so-called “Great Return March” is deceiving the Palestinians themselves into thinking that they have any hope of “returning” to any homes in present-day Israel that their ancestors might have occupied before 1948.

What would the US do if 30,000 Mexicans, organized by a known terrorist group, marched towards the Texas border, demanding to return to their ancestors’ homes, with many of the protesters throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, carrying fence cutters, launching burning kites that set ablaze US territory near the border, igniting tires, and even shooting guns at US agents across the border?

If the US used force to protect its border against such a “peaceful protest,” what percent of the 30,000 Mexicans would end up dead or injured? Would it be more or less than 40 (about .13%)? And how would the global media and human rights organizations react to these incidents?

Now consider the reaction to Israel’s defense against precisely this kind of assault on its sovereign border, dubbed the “Great Return March” and organized by Hamas, a US-State-Department-designated-terrorist organization. Hamas has acknowledged that at least five of its members were among those killed in the march. The number of terrorists involved in the related violence is likely much higher. According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, “32 of the 40 Palestinians killed (80%) were terrorist operatives or individuals affiliated with them.”

If the “Great Return March” had any truth to it, the Hamas-organized propaganda offensive would have been called the “Great Deception March” because it is entirely founded upon deception. Incredibly, on April 6, an advisor to Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority (PA), himself highlighted the deceptive nature of the march, accusing Hamas of “only selling illusions, trading in suffering and blood.” Mahmoud Al-Habbash, Abbas’ Advisor on Islamic Affairs and Supreme Sharia Judge, delivered a sermon, broadcast on official PA TV, in the presence of Abbas, in which Al-Habbash accused Hamas of intentionally sending Palestinians in Gaza to “go and die,” only so that Hamas has stories of dead Palestinians for “the TV and media.”

Hamas has a long history of using human shields to maximize Gazan casualties and thereby smear Israel’s image. As each of the last three Gaza-Israel wars has shown, the more Gazan victims Hamas can produce, the more easily Israel can be tarnished by the media and its consumers. Such demonization supports the broader goal of delegitimizing Israel legally, with lawfare attacks in international forums, and economically, with boycotts, divestments, and sanctions (BDS).

Hamas knows that most observers will simply focus on images of injured and killed Gazans, rather than blame Hamas for sending children towards a militarized border. Obviously, there would be no risk of provoking any forceful reaction from Israel’s border protection forces if the protests were peacefully held at a distance of at least 500 meters from the border. But instead, the protestors actively tried to damage the border fence itself, while threatening Israelis on the other side of it. Were they expecting hugs and flowers in response?

But the biggest deception of all behind the so-called “Great Return March” is deceiving the Palestinians themselves into thinking that they have any hope of “returning” to any homes or territory in present-day Israel that their ancestors might have occupied before 1948. Have Israeli Jews ever demanded a “return” to the millions of homes their ancestors lost in Europe, during the Holocaust, or in the Arab and Muslim world, from which roughly a million persecuted Jews were displaced between the 1940s and the 1970s? Instead, the Jews accepted the cruelty of history and focused their energies on building a vibrant state in the tiny sliver of land they were given the chance to develop in 1948.

By contrast, when Gazans received a historic opportunity, after Israel’s 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, to prove that they can engage in responsible and peaceful state-building, they opted to turn Gaza into a Somalia rather than a Singapore. Instead of choosing coexistence and cooperation, Hamas has promoted a culture of anti-Israel hatred, whilediverting Gaza’s resources to terrorist rockets and attack tunnels, even after launching and losing three wars against Israel in the span of seven years (2008, 2012, and 2014). 

Poor governance has consequences, as Gazans have painfully learned from a shortage of jobs, electricity, sanitation and other basic goods that Hamas has failed to deliver.

Yet global reaction to the Gaza border “protests” shows just how much the Great Deception March succeeded in deceiving so many, who end up blaming Israel while ignoring Hamas’ role in the violence and, more generally, giving Hamas a pass on its cruelty, corruption, and disastrous policies.

The human rights organization Amnesty International recently called for an arms embargo against Israel, arguing that Israel has been “killing and wounding of civilians demonstrating in Gaza by the Israeli forces, despite the fact that they don’t pose any immediate threat.”

If even Palestinian leaders see through the Hamas ruse, why do Amnesty, the UNthe NY Times, Bernie Sanders, and so many others have such a hard time understanding what's really going on?

Their reactions show no regard for history or context, and demonstrate how little Israelis can rely on the assurances of those pressuring them to make concessions to Israel’s sworn enemies.

Why is there no comparable outrage for Turkey's recent actions in Afrin, for example, where far more have died (500 civilians) and at least 150,000 have been displaced. Maybe because Palestinians somehow deserve a unique level of sympathy?

But then why has there been a deafening silence about the 36 Palestinian civilians killed during ten recent days of fighting in Yarmouk, Syria, which violence has produced an estimated 5,000 Palestinian refugees?

Maybe because, for example, the New York Times devoted almost four times as much coverage to Gaza than to Yarmouk. Comparing the Times’ coverage of the two conflict zones from April 17 (when fighting in Yarmouk began) through April 30, the results are striking:

-Yarmouk is covered by 22 articles with zero op-eds

-Gaza is covered by 81 articles, including at least three op-eds.

To put that distorted Times’ focus into perspective, nearly 4,000 Palestinians in Syria have been killed since 2011 – about double the number of Gazans, including terrorists, killed in all conflicts with Israel during the same period. Such figures, coupled with the Times’ well documented and extensive bias against Israel, suggest that the disproportionate coverage is driven more by an anti-Israel animus than any compassion for Palestinian suffering.

It has been an article of faith among European and US “progressives” that Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians could be resolved if only Israel withdraws from territory that it conquered in 1967, after surrounding Arab armies threatened to annihilate the NJ-sized country. In 2005, to test that idea and hopefully promote better relations with Gazans, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza Strip.

Israelis on the right argued that such a move would be perceived as a surrender out of weakness, and the power vacuum created by the Disengagement, as Israel’s 2005 Gaza withdrawal was called, would be quickly filled by extremists who exploit their newfound freedom to attack Israel.

Israelis on the left claimed that taking a big risk to promote better relations, and eventually peace, with Gaza would strengthen Israel’s international standing. Those supporting the Disengagement also argued that it would bring Israel global support if ever the Israeli army was forced to defend its border with the Gaza territory that it evacuated.

The Great Deception March shows just how much the right was right.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East


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