Saturday, October 6, 2018

Susan Collins's finest hour caps a great week for America - Howard J. Warner

by Howard J. Warner

One of the finest speeches in Senate history and among the greatest of statesman moments.

Susan Collins of Maine rose yesterday to give a thoughtful and well reasoned speech on the floor of the Senate in support of Brett Kavanaugh. She decried the destructive nature of the confirmation process. This was one of the finest speeches in Senate history and ranks among the greatest of statesman moments.
Our Supreme Court confirmation process has been in steady decline for more than thirty years. One can only hope that the Kavanaugh nomination is where the process has finally hit rock bottom.
Collins is not a lawyer, yet she provided a thoughtful analysis of Kavanaugh's legal thinking:
In a dissent in Seven-Sky v. Holder, Judge Kavanaugh rejected a challenge to the ACA on narrow procedural grounds, preserving the law in full. Many experts have said his dissent informed Justice Roberts' opinion upholding the ACA at the Supreme Court. ...
Judge Kavanaugh has been unequivocal in his belief that no president is above the law. He has stated that Marbury v. Madison, Youngstown Steel v. Sawyer and United States v. Nixon are three of the four greatest Supreme Court cases in history. What do they have in common? Each of them is a case where the Court served as a check on presidential power. And I would note that the fourth case that Judge Kavanaugh has pointed to as the greatest in history was Brown v Board of Education. ...
Judge Kavanaugh described the Obergefell decision, which legalized same gender marriages [sic], as an important landmark precedent. He also cited Justice Kennedy's recent Masterpiece Cakeshop opinion for the Court's majority stating that: "The days of treating gay and lesbian Americans or gay and lesbian couples as second-class citizens who are inferior in dignity and worth are over in the Supreme Court." ...
Noting that Roe v. Wade was decided 45 years ago, and reaffirmed 19 years later in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, I asked Judge Kavanaugh whether the passage of time is relevant to following precedent. He said decisions become part of our legal framework with the passage of time and that honoring precedent is essential to maintaining public confidence.
Collins went on compare Judges Kavanaugh and Merrick Garland, the D.C. chief judge nominated by Obama but not given a hearing by the GOP Senate, and found that they are both mainstream:
That Judge Kavanaugh is more of a centrist than some of his critics maintain is reflected in the fact that he and Chief Judge Merrick Garland voted the same way in 93 percent of the cases that they heard together. Indeed, Chief Judge Garland joined in more than 96 percent of the majority opinions authored by Judge Kavanaugh, dissenting only once.
This leads some on the right to argue that his nomination by Trump was a mistake. However, with such a slim margin in the Senate, Kavanaugh is a substantial constitutionalist. One could not imagine the level of vitriol aimed at Kavanaugh. It is mostly aimed at Trump.

Collins forcibly explained the need for the presumption of innocence in our nation. It is our only protection from the mob or dictators:
The presumption of innocence is relevant to the advice and consent function when an accusation departs from a nominee's otherwise exemplary record. I worry that departing from this presumption could lead to a lack of public faith in the judiciary and would be hugely damaging to the confirmation process moving forward.
Some of the allegations levied against Judge Kavanaugh illustrate why the presumption of innocence is so important. I am thinking in particular not of the allegations raised by Professor Ford, but of the allegation that, when he was a teenager, Judge Kavanaugh drugged multiple girls and used their weakened state to facilitate gang rape. This outlandish allegation was put forth without any credible supporting evidence and simply parroted public statements of others. That such an allegation can find its way into the Supreme Court confirmation process is a stark reminder about why the presumption of innocence is so ingrained in our American consciousness.
Today, the final vote will take place. Senator Joe Manchin of WV will join Collins and the other Republicans to give Kavanaugh a victory. Senator Murkowski of Alaska will be the sole Republican voting against the judge. But the vicious attacks have energized the Republican base, and this will likely mean gains in the Senate. It will most likely lessen losses in the House for Republicans, too.

Last week, Senator Graham of S.C. gave one of his finest speeches in the Judiciary Committee hearings. Two of the more moderate Republicans have risen within a week to spur on the party to counter unreasonable and unwarranted hate and dishonesty by the opposition. This is the beginning of a new period and heralds a better future for our nation. 
A good week for America!

Howard J. Warner


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The West's New Antisemitism Crisis: Why Right Now? - Alexander H. Joffe

by Alexander H. Joffe

The trends in Europe and Britain portend negative changes in the US for Jews and Israel.

[Originally published under the headline "The Logic of the West’s New Anti-Semitism Crisis"]
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The antisemitism crises exploding in the British Labour Party and threatening to erupt in the US Democratic Party have complex sources in both the elites and the middle class. These include the logic of socialism, which opposes Jewish difference; rejection of the nation-state, which Jews still embrace; and conventional nineteenth-century beliefs in Jewish greed and conspiracies. Post-colonial guilt has also led to multiculturalism and societal self-mortification through Muslim mass immigration, which has enormously exacerbated antisemitism and terrorism. The trends in Europe and Britain portend negative changes in the US for Jews and Israel. 

Western political parties are undergoing astonishing antisemitism crises. The British Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn have been exposed as deeply and irrevocably antisemitic. The US Democratic Party has now nominated nearly a half dozen candidates for Congress who are implacably opposed to Israel, and stands on the verge of a millennial-driven transformation into Labour. Accusations of Jewish disloyalty and Israeli conspiracies are common, as are threats to banish Israel from the community of nations.


British Labour Party Leader, Jeremy Corbyn

The question is why, and why now? Why have not only the Labour and Democratic Parties but universities, and, increasingly, the interlocked media and entertainment complexes, turned against Jews?

There are old and new explanations.

The first is the logic of socialism, where putative universalism and anti-elitism turn against their traditional nemesis, the Jews, despite outsized Jewish participation in these movements. Jewish difference is the enemy, and as affluent Westerners suddenly rediscover socialism in order to quell ennui and inner resentment against their bourgeois selves, traditional enemies have been rediscovered as well.

Since general approval of Israel is widespread, at least in the US, anti-Zionism is achingly transgressive, only a few stops beyond complaining about the cultural appropriation inherent in wearing a kimono or making tea. And for young Jews anxious to fit into the rapidly shifting cultural norms of the left, in universities and urban society, Israel support is an obvious target. The reluctance of Jews to conform on Israel then yields quickly to outright antisemitism.

Coupled with the burgeoning of racialized identity politics and ‘intersectionality’ –localized versions of Third Worldism and the ‘red-green alliance’ with Islamists – traditional antisemitism has been updated. Jews are suddenly called upon to play their traditional role – reject their identity and join the vanguard or become an enemy of the people. This is familiar from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Another explanation for the current explosion of deep-seated antisemitism is at once more historically cyclical and au courant. Jews are simultaneously the most assimilated Western minority and the one that remains demonstrably – even uniquely – grateful to host nations, and to the idea of the nation-state and its opportunities. This is intolerable to left-wing positions that reject the nation-state, national identity, and national pride. Jewish attachment to Israel compounds the transgression against post-nationalism, and this connection to a unique and cosmic evil positions the attitude firmly as old-new antisemitism.

Jews have traditionally celebrated institutions of national cohesion including higher education, political parties, and, during wartime, military service. But despite close Jewish adherence to the evolving liberal consensus, including internationalism, they can never be critical enough of the state and its institutions for the left wing. Now even national cohesion is anathema; hence the sudden passion for a borderless world and mass migration.

That Palestinians adhere to an even smaller and more parochial nationalism is no issue since victimhood is a paramount virtue for the left. But Jewish ‘whiteness’ and Israel’s ‘power’ have both erased Jewish victimhood and acted as de facto signs of evil. Anointing Palestinians as the ‘new Jews’ also resolves a theological problem for Protestant denominations and links handily to traditional Christian supersessionism and antisemitism.


A protester holding a 'Nazi Israel' sign 

Conspiracism regarding Jews is thriving in Britain and growing in the US, with accusations of dual loyalties and blood libels. Accusations that Israel is a ‘Nazi state’ that ‘created ISIS’ conveniently joins the 20th century’s most unequivocal villain with that of the 21st century, both utterly anathematized. The other great villain is the US, the traditional Great Satan to the British Left (with Israel as the Little Satan). In this manner past and present enemies are unified, with limitless power as the sources of evil, demanding cosmic justice.

These are mostly elite formulae, but they have given license to popular outbreaks of what might be called middle class antisemitism, expressed most vividly by hundreds if not thousands of Labour Party members. A sudden eruption of mostly traditional antisemitism from the public was waiting for its moment, with oddly familiar rhetoric: Jews as disloyal, greedy, alien, clannish, manipulative, and conspiratorial. This is merely nineteenth century antisemitism updated, no longer theological but not yet racial.

But antisemitic attitudes also refract another phenomenon: the unrootedness of a broad swath of the British populace from Britishness. Few nations have repudiated their histories with the speed and anger of Britain, and post-imperial and post-colonial Britain possesses a deep self-loathing of its history and culture. Few cultures are so explicit about guilt and repudiation, although this is matched by the American far left, which sees the country’s founding as Original Sin. These are elite formulae that have been disseminated to the middle class through the educational system and media.

Self-hatred (indistinguishable from overweening expressions of self-righteousness and self-love) also partially explains British and European attitudes towards Islam. Official multiculturalism of the 1980s and later was designed precisely to weaken the position of ‘white’ Europeans in their own countries, both demographically and culturally, and was cast in the guise of progressive enrichment and post-colonial restitution.

In accepting millions of Muslims, especially from the most backward and unassimilated areas of Pakistan and Africa, the instrument of national self-mortification was chosen. Social dissolution in the form of ethnic partitioning, no-go zones, rape gangs, terrorism, and violence followed, along with separatist political parties. Was this an unintended consequence on the part of European elites accustomed to Olympian decision-making; a deliberate conspiracy, as the ‘Eurabia’ thesis suggests; or an unconscious choice to self-destruct? Perhaps it was all three.


Antisemitic graffiti on a wall in Europe

The results for Europe’s Jews have been calamitous but entirely foreseeable. Antisemitism has risen sharply along with antisemitic violence, attributable almost entirely to Islamists. And speaking honestly about the causes, even to describe individual cases where the murderers of Jews have cried “allahu akbar,” is to invite condemnations for ‘Islamophobia.’ A closed mental ecosystem has thus been created which will, by default if not design, expunge Europe’s Jews. Political parties, often the bulwark against discrimination, are now leading the way; Muslim and Green parties are frank in their hatred of Israel and Jews, left-wing parties like Labour have now followed.

But in the process, relentless Muslim violence against European society as a whole must be explained and excused. Muslims in Europe are increasingly the antithesis of its Jews: culturally demanding, politically active, and prone to public displays of dominance, such as taking over entire streets for prayers, and to private acts of violence. Governmental responses to these have been remarkably uniform. Both politicians and public safety officials decry a ‘misunderstanding’ of Islam that results in organized violence and routinely ascribe individual violence to ‘mental illness.’ In Scandinavia in particular they absolve behavior by alleging cultural misunderstanding, as if rape and murder are somehow contingent concepts. Muslim antisemitism, however, is uniformly covered up, particularly when it is the motive for murder.

Perhaps these are unconscious efforts to domesticate European Islam by exculpation and by gently defining conceptual boundaries and behavioral patterns – but they barely mask a terrifying fear of what politicians have wrought. Ironically, the larger effort seeks to shape European Muslims into something that already exists: European Jews, who are loyal, passive, and compliant.

The actual trend is the reverse. European Muslims, suffused with theological antisemitism and conspiracism, influence majority cultures and give still further license to unlock antisemitic tendencies. Growing Muslim minorities also make it politically expedient for parties such as Labour to abandon the Jews.

The complex dynamics described here are also occurring in the US, a society long exempt from European- (and Middle Eastern)-style antisemitism and violence. That will now change. Whether American political and cultural traditions of self-correction will temper this remains to be seen. Socialism and self-loathing are alien to most non-elite Americans, and local sources of antisemitism are not nearly as deep as they are in Europe. But American Jews should prepare for changes unlike anything seen in the five centuries since their arrival on that continent. Israel should prepare as well.

Alexander H. Joffe is an archaeologist and historian. He is a senior non-resident fellow at the BESA Center and a Shillman-Ingerman Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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France’s Fight Against Islamic Radicalization: The Writing Is Still on the Wall - Dr. Tsilla Hershco

by Dr. Tsilla Hershco

The French leadership has failed to cope with the uncontrolled Islamist radicalization as it is not politically correct to intervene in religious matters.

Montage of Islamist attacks in Paris in 2015, via Wikipedia

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 967, October 5, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The lack of integration into France of many Muslims over a long period, combined with severe socioeconomic problems, has produced bitterness, alienation, and fertile ground for radical imams who use the French separation between state and religion (Laïcité) to promote uncontrolled Islamist radicalization. The French leadership has failed to cope with these problems as it is not politically correct to intervene in religious matters. The ISIS terrorist attacks, perpetrated by radicalized French Muslims, brought the issues to the center of the public discourse. President Macron embraced many of his predecessor’s counterterrorism measures and moved further with ambitious de-radicalization plans designed to address the core problems, including mounting suburban crime. However, increasing Muslim radicalization, as well as a growing left-right polarization regarding the ways to tackle the problem, still present serious challenges to the French republican order. 

French president Emmanuel Macron, in a major policy address at the August annual French ambassadors’ conference, reiterated that the fight against Islamist terrorism is his top priority goal. During his presidential campaign and soon after his election, Macron underlined that his main objectives – alongside his social and economic platform – were to ensure security within France and to fight Islamist terrorism as a central pillar of his foreign policy.

Macron inherited the complicated problem of Muslim radicalization, which for years had been either swept entirely under the carpet or inefficiently dealt with. Initially, the problem relates to the lack of integration into the French society and economy of numerous second- and third-generation French Muslims of North African descent who live mainly in the suburbs around Paris and other cities in France (they are estimated to number between six and eight million). Many years of unsolved socioeconomic problems such as high unemployment (especially among young people), poverty, poor housing, and low-level schools produced a vicious circle of high crime rates, resentment, and alienation on the one hand and growing discrimination towards Muslims in French society on the other.

Additionally, radical imams from abroad who provide religious services in France have taken advantage of the French law of separation between state and religion (Laïcité) to promote uncontrolled radical Islam. Radical imams have also provided religious services to Muslim prisoners, leading to their radicalization. Indeed, many perpetrators of terrorist acts, such as those of Toulouse in 2012, Paris in 2015, Nice in 2016, and Trebes in 2018, were criminals who had undergone radicalization in French prisons.

From time to time, this complicated problem has exploded in mass riots, accompanied by violent confrontations with police and the burning of public and private property. The most challenging riots (in October 2005) lasted about three weeks and were followed by President Chirac’s declaration of a state of emergency.

Geostrategic factors – particularly the so-called “Arab spring,” the Syrian civil war, and the strengthening of ISIS – also contributed to the radicalization process. Radical Islamist internet messages encouraged young Muslims and non-Muslims to join the ranks of ISIS, or detailed how to carry out terrorist attacks. Hundreds of French Muslims joined ISIS and became security threats upon their return to France.

Growing Muslim radicalization has also been reflected in the increasing number of incidents of violent anti-Semitism in France. The French authorities and media preferred, at first, to view the crimes as stemming from socioeconomic factors rather than from Islamic radicalization. They occasionally presented or even justified the increase in anti-Semitic violence as a product of the Muslims’ identification with the Palestinians. It seems that the Laïcité principle created a barrier that prevented an examination into the intensification of anti-Semitic violence as a result of radicalization and religious incitement.

Even when the French political leadership became aware of the problem of radicalization, it did not sufficiently internalize the threat. France passed laws banning the carrying of religious symbols by Christians, Jews, and Muslims in French schools (2004) and prohibiting women from hiding their faces behind the Muslim burqa while in the public sphere (2011). These laws sparked debates in France about their legality and effectiveness while also stoking bitterness among Muslims.

The appalling ISIS terrorist attacks of 2015-17 caused deep shock due to their frequency, their scope in terms of casualties, and their disruption of citizens’ sense of security. The shock was particularly severe as the perpetrators were French citizens who had undergone a process of radicalization and carried out acts of terror by joining ISIS or identifying with it. The terrorist attacks opened a Pandora’s Box and brought the problem to the epicenter of French public discourse.

However, even after the terrible attacks of January and November 2015, President Hollande’s messages to the nation continued to reflect a politically correct attitude. In accordance with the Laïcité principle and in order to prevent the stigmatization of the Muslim community, he refrained from explicitly naming Islamists as the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks as well as of the increasing anti-Semitic violence.

Hollande’s politically correct messages were at a dissonance with the reality in which Muslims, particularly young ones, defiantly expressed their religious identity as standing above their allegiance to the French republic and its values. For instance, Muslim pupils in French public schools refused to respect a nationwide moment of silence in memory of the victims of the “Charlie Hebdo” terror attack in January 2015. They reportedly said the terrorist act constituted justifiable vengeance, as the satirical magazine had published caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. This shocked the French public, which viewed the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office as an attack on freedom of speech – one of France’s central republican values.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls deviated, to some extent, from Hollande’s politically correct discourse. He spoke of a new type of anti-Semitism in France, created in the suburbs and driven by hatred of Israel. Moreover, he stressed critically that people refrained from overtly condemning radical Muslims for fear of being charged with racism and “Islamophobia,” and that fear prevented an open public debate.

Concurrently with Holland’s politically correct discourse, he approved several counterterrorism measures, such as allocating budgets for increasing the number of counterterrorism agents as well as boosting intelligence gathering units designated to monitor and curb jihadists. In addition, he announced the formation of a military force of 10,000 soldiers and 4,500 policemen and gendarmes (Operation Sentinelle) to protect “sensitive” points in France from terror attacks.

Following the “Black Friday” Islamist assaults in November 2015, Hollande decreed a state of emergency, which allowed the French security powers to (inter alia) carry out preventive arrests of suspects, conduct massive raids without a judge’s warrant, ban demonstrations, and close websites considered to pose a danger to public order. Hollande also proposed tougher measures such as expelling foreigners viewed as security threats, rescinding French nationality from dual nationals implicated in terror activities, introducing greater state involvement in the training and appointment of imams, and making emergency laws part of the constitution. However, Hollande withdrew from most of these tougher proposals because of protests by civil rights supporters.

Hollande later unveiled an extensive plan to fight delinquency and radicalization in order to strengthen the republic’s values among pupils in the suburbs. In May 2016, the government created an inter-ministerial committee for the prevention of delinquency and radicalization (CIPDR). At the end of September 2016, an experimental center was set up in Pontourni, in central France, aimed at the de-radicalization of young Muslims who had expressed a desire to join ISIS. The center, which was supposed to serve as a model for additional centers, was closed several months later, due in part to the small number of participants and in part to the opposition of local residents.

It should be noted that the security services and general intelligence services have increased their alertness with regard to outward signs of radicalization. For instance, they wrote a report in 2015 stating that fitness clubs are a magnet for radicalized Muslims as part of their training for terrorist acts. However, it was not until 2017 that they organized sessions for educators and social workers to teach them to recognize signs of radicalization such as beard-growing or changes of lifestyle.

The terrorist attacks, combined with the deteriorating economic situation involving high unemployment and a large public deficit, led to a massive drop in Hollande’s public support. Conversely, the attacks increased support for the far right in France. Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front party (FN), demanded that the authorities clearly pronounce the connection between Islamists and terrorist acts, that all religious activities be banned from the public sphere, that radical imams be expelled, and that Muslim immigration to France be stopped. Le Pen also demanded that the Schengen agreements be annulled, arguing that a closure of the borders would prevent illegal immigration to France. Le Pen’s views on Islamic radicalism and immigration increased her popularity, and for the first time, the FN representative reached the final stage of the presidential elections.

In May 2017, Emanuel Macron was elected president. He managed this by winning the support of a large proportion of the public that did not necessarily support him but wished to prevent Le Pen’s election. At his inauguration, Macron used symbolic gestures to manifest the importance he attached to the fight against terrorism. For instance, on his way from the Elysees Palace to the traditional ceremony at the Arc de Triomphe, he stopped to pay tribute to the memory of the policeman shot dead by French Islamists in April 2017. In addition, one of his first trips outside France as president was a visit to French troops stationed in Mali to fight terrorism.

Macron also unveiled plans for numerous counterterrorism policy measures, such as increasing the security forces, enforcing the expulsion of migrant workers, initiating educational programs for de-radicalization, and allocating budgets for the suburbs. Additionally, he announced the creation of a national center for counterterrorism, located at the Elysees Palace and operating under his command. The center, which operates 24 hours a day, unites internal and external intelligence services and monitors and coordinates all activities in the war on terror. Macron proposed a return to community policing in order to improve relations between the police and young people of the suburbs. Concurrently, he revived legislation that enshrines counterterrorism laws in the constitution. The French parliament voted with a significant majority in support of the law, which replaces the state of emergency.

Parliament members introduced amendments to the initial bill, according to which all the new measures will expire at the end of 2020. Civil rights groups criticized the law anyway, claiming that it will be used mainly against Muslims.

In February 2018, Prime Minister Edward Phillip unveiled a comprehensive plan to fight Islamist radicalism. It includes several key components, such as detection and prevention of radicalization in the education system and in prisons, interdisciplinary and inter-ministerial cooperation, professional specialization in the subject of radicalization, increases in financial and personnel resources, and collaboration and exchange of information among security authorities in the various French regions.

Macron also proposed replacing the traditional model “Muslims in France,” which implies non-governmental involvement, with the model “Islam of France,” which implies the shaping of a moderate Islam that adapts itself to French republican values and rejects the Islamist radical version of Islam. In this context, France has already promoted a university program for French imams that trains them, among other things, in French law. The program has not fulfilled its goal in terms of the number of participants. Many imams still receive their training and accreditation in Arab countries.

Liberal circles sharply criticized Macron’s plans, arguing that they do not conform to French liberal values, that they violate French republican laws of non-interference in religious affairs, that they contradict citizens’ freedom of religion, and that the French authorities use terrorist attacks to promote a nationalist agenda. Conversely, far-right circles persist in their arguments that Muslims in France present an inherent danger to the French republic as they do not wish to integrate but to impose sharia law over French secular law, as their values and way of life contradict the values of the republic. They also criticize French authorities for their weakness in confronting these threats.

Another criticism has surfaced regarding Macron’s policy towards illegal immigrants in France. Macron emphasized that uncontrolled illegal immigration is a security problem as well as a burden on the budget of the French Republic. The interior minister Gérard Collomb accordingly ordered that immigrants in public shelters be registered and checked whether they are asylum seekers or migrant workers, who are liable to be expelled. However, intellectuals, opposition journalists, and social associations appealed to the Council of State (Conseil d’Etat), which advises the government on legal and administrative matters, to cancel the order on the grounds that it is inhumane and illegal. In January 2018, the news weekly Nouvel Observateur published a provocative photo of Macron covered with barbed wire to illustrate its criticism of what it considers to be his inhumane attitude towards immigrants. Macron responded with a sharp message, stressing the need to be humane as well as effective and to be careful with “false good sentiments.” He also noted that France had given entry permits to 100,000 refugees, maintaining international humanitarian law. Far-right circles and particularly Le Pen continue to loudly oppose any additional Muslim immigration to France.

The growing right-left polarization regarding the ways to tackle these complicated problems increases the difficulties of the French authorities in shaping and promoting effective counterterrorist and de-radicalization policy. The numerous counterterrorism and de-radicalization measures embraced by President Macron and by his predecessor through trial and error have not yet effectively addressed the root problems that have bred Islamist radicalization and increasing anti-Semitic violence. Furthermore, surveys indicate an increase in the process of radicalization of Muslims in France and its expansion in French republican schools, including among teachers. Patrick Calvar, head of the Internal Security Agency (DGSI, or General Directorate for Internal Security) reportedly warned in June 2016 that additional terror attacks might ignite revenge attacks by right-wing circles against Muslims and lead to confrontation with Muslims. Calvar’s warning took on a more ominous significance when in June 2018 the French police arrested a radical right-wing group that planned to attack radical imams, radicalized ex-prisoners, and veiled Muslim women.

France has come a long way in its fight against Islamist terrorism. However, the unsolved core issues of increasing Muslim radicalization and the deteriorating socio-economic conditions in the “no-go” suburbs, combined with the growing left-right polarization regarding how to tackle the problem, still present serious challenges to the French republican order.

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

Dr. Tsilla Hershco, a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, specializes in Franco-Israeli and EU-Israeli relations.


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The Politics of Hate and the Soul of Democracy - Abraham H. Miller

by Abraham H. Miller

Never before in the history of any polity has one side maintained a monopoly on intimidation, harassment, and violence.

The politics of hate will not win. So say those who have a strong abiding faith in human decency but a frail understanding of history. As noted by Eric Hoffer, the reflective student of mass movements, hate is the great unifier of political causes, the motivator of true believers. Sometimes it does win.

For now, hate is winning, and it is out of control. Kelley Paul, wife of Sen. Rand Paul, writes a heartfelt plea to Sen. Cory Booker to dial down the rhetoric of hate and incitement. The Pauls live in a state of fear. The senator was severely beaten by a deranged neighbor and still suffers the pain and physical damage of the beating. Mrs. Paul sleeps with a loaded gun by her bed. The local sheriff makes extra patrols around their home.

Rather than apologize for Sen. Booker’s incendiary comments, his staff seized on the tried-and-true “out of context” excuse, the same grasp of rhetorical straws Madonna used when she explained away her desire to blow up the White House.

Maxine Waters is unapologetic about incitement, having doubled down on the get-in-their-face tactic visited upon Sarah Sanders, now the only press secretary ever to need Secret Service protection, and more recently upon Sen. Ted Cruz, who can’t go out to dinner without being confronted by an angry in-your-face group of hooligans.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh were turned into political theater, encouraged by the antics of the Democratic members of the committee. There were neither pleas nor admonitions to their partisans in the audience to respect the need for civility in our democracy.

Never before in the history of any polity has one side maintained a monopoly on intimidation, harassment, and violence. The fragility of democracy is that mass movements feed on their success and move to the extremes. Today, it is harassment and intimidation. Tomorrow it will be violence. And violence will beget violence.

It was not just Hitler’s Brownshirts that loaded up sedans with tommy guns and shot up the watering holes of the Communists in the fading days of the hapless Weimar Republic. The Communists also knew how to cover the streets in the blood of their opponents.

The campus has become the Bonneville proving grounds of leftist violence. At present, they have a monopoly. They control who can speak and who can listen, and they receive little to no disciplinary action by perverted administrators who share their politics and salivate over their behavior, yearning to be out in the streets ganging up on unarmed conservatives.

Having a just cause gives moral license. That’s what is taught on campus. Redeem your guilt of white privilege by going into the street and being baptized in hooliganism, feeling the “agro” of a soccer rioter while smashing your way to social justice.

The spring panty raid of the 1950s has been replaced by the political violence of the twenty-first century. And the ritual, honed on the campus, has come to the nation’s capital where members of the Senate provide the same role models as do campus administrators.

For many, the meaning is to be found in the act, no matter how abhorrent or how out of place it is in a society that offers myriad forms for a variety of peaceful and civil actions.

And how will this violence play out? For the vulgar Marxists and their leftist companions who are embracing the revolution in the streets, they should be reminded that students of Marx have long noted that “Every revolution has its Thermidor.

But the Thermidorian reaction, the gravedigger of revolutions, will not come from within the revolution. It will come on a November day when the soul of decent America will awake to the realization that this is not America as a democratic civilization.

For the soul of America is born of neither hatred nor the politics of confrontation. It is born of the essence of democracy, as that dead white European male Alexis de Tocqueville so eloquently noted. It is born of compromise and conciliation in the corridors of government.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center.


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The Mask Drops: Russia Reveals Itself As Israel's Enemy - Yigal Carmon

by Yigal Carmon

Following the September 18 downing of an Ilyushin-20 plane by Syrian missiles, Russia's mask dropped, and the true anti-Israel face of its policy was fully revealed.

A year ago, Russia's mask of non-hostility towards Israel was still in place, in the form of strategic coordination with Israel regarding the latter's bombings in Syria. This allowed it to conceal that it fully sided with Israel's enemies – Syria and Iran. Even as it refrained from trying to stop Israel from bombing Iranian targets in Syria – as if it could have prevented this – it was at the same time enabling and sponsoring Iran's expansion into Syria.

An article I wrote a year ago presented the unvarnished facts about Russia's support for Iran's expansion in Syria at the expense of Israel's national security.[1] It asserted that the Iranian forces' presence in Syria constituted an existential threat to Israel. It further explained, for the benefit of those who could not conceive of Putin as so anti-Israel – after all, he had made Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu a guest of honor at the Moscow Victory Day parade in Red Square in May – that this was nothing personal against Israel, but, as they say in the Mafia, just business connected to Russia's rivalry with the U.S. In truth, the strategic Israel-Russia coordination of Israeli bombings in Syria served Russian interests: Israel declared that it would continue the bombings no matter what, and an Israel-Russia military escalation could only draw the U.S. into the melee and expose Russia as a mere regional power that was no match for the U.S. 

Following the September 18 downing of an Ilyushin-20 plane by Syrian missiles, Russia's mask dropped, and the true anti-Israel face of its policy was fully revealed. Indeed, Putin first attempted to conceal it by refraining from fully blaming Israel for the tragedy. But soon enough he joined his subordinates in blaming Israel, and announced that Russia would equip Syria with S-300 missile systems, which would, inter alia, protect Iranian forces in Syria from Israeli attacks.

Now the picture is crystal clear: The Russians, who originally enabled and sponsored the Iranian expansion in Syria as an anti-U.S. measure, will now also protect the Iranians in Syria from Israeli attacks. This constitutes an undeclared act of war against Israel by an enemy, i.e. Russia – since it will not be the Syrians operating the S-300s against Israeli aircraft, because they yet face a long learning curve to do this; it will, for an indeterminate time, be Russian officers. 

But with Russia's equipping Syria with S-300s, and their inevitable operation by Russian officers against Israeli  aircraft, the Russians risk a major military and technological debacle. They will learn, if they haven't yet from the Ilyushin tragedy, that Israeli-American technology is far superior to Russia's – and that goes not just for the S-300s now being shipped to the Syrians, but also for the S-300s and S-400s that Russia already has in place in Syria for its own defense. Perhaps only an internal Russian military investigation can show what these systems were doing when the Ilyushin was shot down.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu rejects the Israeli version of events, according to which the Israeli planes were already back over Haifa when the Ilyushin was shot down. The Russians argue that the radar picture showed an Israeli plane using the Ilyushin as a shield. A possible explanation for this, revealed by the Israeli daily Haaretz, is that the radar picture available to the Russians was not actual, but was the product of Israel's electronic warfare. Given that this will continue to be part of any future Israeli bombing, the advanced Russian missile defense systems will be rendered no longer marketable. Perhaps this is why the Russians, upon announcing that they will deliverer S-300s to Syria, simultaneously announced their willingness to negotiate with the U.S. on this delivery, in order to avert any possible clashes with Israel and their ramifications.

Russia's true face has been revealed not only in the military/strategic sphere – by providing S-300s to Syria – but also by its reversion to the old Russian/Soviet antisemitism that not even Russian President Putin's "special relationship" with Chabad can camouflage. Former Israeli Ambassador to Russia Zvi Magen noted: "The media blamed Israel on the day of crisis in a well-timed orchestrated manner, filled with antisemitic elements. This wasn't random."[2] Given Russia's actual policy towards Israel, this should come as no surprise.

[1] See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 138, The Russia-Iran Axis: An Existential Threat To Israel's Security – A Wakeup Call, October 23, 2017.
[2] JNS, September 26, 2018.

Yigal Carmon is president and founder of The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). From 1988-93, he served as an advisor on countering terrorism to two successive Israeli prime ministers.


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Germany Seeks Skilled Migrants - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door migration policy has failed to resolve the country's most pressing demographic challenges and labor shortages.

  • The new immigration law is a tacit admission that Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door migration policy, which has allowed into Germany more than a million mostly unskilled migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, has failed to resolve the country's most pressing demographic challenges and labor shortages.
  • "We are creating the framework for more controlled immigration of qualified specialists." — Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.
  • By the middle of 2018, only a quarter of those who arrived during the migrant crisis had found a job and only a fifth were paying into the social welfare system, according to the Institute for Employment Research. Most of those who were employed had low-paying jobs, and many of them were receiving supplementary welfare benefits to make ends meet.

Germany's Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (left), Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier (middle) and Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (right) present the government's immigration policy framework for skilled workers, at a press conference on October 2, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

After months of wrangling, Germany's coalition government has reached an agreement on the key points of a new immigration law — one that is aimed at filling labor shortages and stabilizing the public pension system by encouraging the immigration of skilled workers from outside the European Union.

The new law, which will tighten restrictions on the immigration of unskilled workers, is a tacit admission that Chancellor Angela Merkel's open-door migration policy, which has allowed into Germany more than a million mostly unskilled migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East, has failed to resolve the country's most pressing demographic challenges and labor shortages.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU), Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) and Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier (CDU) presented the compromise agreement during a joint press conference in Berlin on October 2.

The so-called Fachkräftezuwanderungsgesetz (Law on Immigration of Skilled Workers) would waive existing requirements for companies to give preference to German or EU citizens when filling job vacancies. Specifically, it would allow companies to recruit non-EU (Drittstaaten) citizens in all economic sectors, provided that those recruits are qualified for the job and have satisfactory German language skills.

Even lower requirements would apply for information technology professionals, who would be allowed to come to Germany without formal academic qualifications, provided they have solid work experience and a job offer.

The new law would also provide skilled workers without concrete job offers a six-month residence permit to find a job, provided they have German language skills and the financial means to support themselves during this period.

On the other hand, the proposed law states that non-EU citizens without higher education will not be allowed to migrate to Germany: "We do not want any immigration from unqualified third-country nationals," the deal states.
"We will ensure through clear criteria that the rules cannot be abused. We will align our efforts with the needs of our economy, taking due account of qualifications, age, language skills, evidence of a real job offer and the ability to guarantee livelihoods."
The agreement does not specifically mention the so-called Spurwechsel ("lane change") proposal, a plan championed by the SPD that would allow migrants living in Germany to exchange their asylum seeker status for permanent residency status if they find a job and learn German. "We maintain the principle of separation of asylum and labor migration," the document states. "We will prevent immigration into the social welfare system."

Seehofer and others said they feared that the "lane change" proposal would reinforce the immigration pull factor, thereby further encouraging unskilled economic migrants to travel to Germany in the hopes of being allowed to stay. "We had a silent consensus that there should be no lane change," said Seehofer.

In a compromise, however, the deal commits the government to "define clear residence criteria" for so-called Geduldete ("tolerated") migrants: well-integrated refugees whose asylum applications have been rejected but who cannot be deported because they lack identification papers, their home countries refuse to take them back, or there is legitimate fear for their safety once home. Currently, there is no unified policy on Geduldete migrants; some of Germany's 16 federal states are showing leniency while others are taking a hard line.

Seehofer said he was "extremely satisfied" with the results and described the agreement as a "pragmatic, practical response to the reality of life." He added: "We are creating the framework for more controlled immigration of qualified specialists."

Labor Minister Heil said the agreement represented the first step for a "modern immigration law in Germany."

Economic Affairs Minister Altmaier said that the deal would "ensure that all jobs for skilled workers can also be filled."

By contrast, the leader of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany (AfD), Alexander Gauland, said that the compromise on the so-called lane change proposal would encourage more illegal immigration:
"With the new immigration law, the SPD has once again prevailed against Seehofer. Asylum and immigration are now being mixed beyond recognition and the opportunities to escape deportation are massively expanded.
"This is now officially what the AfD has always warned: As soon as illegal immigrants have crossed our borders, they may stay with us forever."
Business leaders praised the deal. The chief executive of the Confederation of Employers' Associations, Steffen Kampeter, said that the German economy "relies on qualified specialists from abroad" in order to maintain competitiveness: "We need the brightest brains from all over the world."

The president of the Federal Association for Information Technology (Bitkom), Achim Berg, said there currently are about 55,000 job vacancies in the IT sector, costing German companies about 10 billion euros in lost sales each year:
"Bitkom has been campaigning for years for the immigration of skilled workers. We very much welcome the fact that this is now fundamentally addressed by the federal government with the Law on Immigration of Skilled Workers. We need the brightest minds from around the world to shape digitization in Germany, to support our economy and to strengthen the labor market."
Germany will need to take in 300,000 migrants annually for the next 40 years to stop population decline, according to a leaked government report. The document, parts of which were published by the Rheinische Post, revealed that the German government is counting on permanent mass migration to keep the current size of the German population (82.8 million) stable through 2060.

The report implied that Chancellor Merkel's decision to allow into the country some 1.5 million mostly Muslim migrants between 2015 and 2016 was not primarily a humanitarian gesture, but a calculated effort to stave off Germany's demographic decline and to preserve the future viability of the German welfare state, in which the young are obligated support the elderly.

The report stressed the need quickly to integrate migrants into the workforce so that they can begin paying into the social welfare system. "According to past experience, this will not be easy and will take longer than initially often hoped," the report conceded. "Successes will only be visible in the medium to long term."

By the middle of 2018, only a quarter of those who arrived during the migrant crisis had found a job and only a fifth were paying into the social welfare system, according to the Institute for Employment Research (IAB). Most of those who were employed had low-paying jobs in the hospitality or services sectors, including in cleaning, package delivery or security, and many of them were receiving supplementary welfare benefits to make ends meet.

In August 2018, Deutschlandfunk public radio reported that "disillusionment has arrived" as many refugees are still receiving social welfare benefits or working in the low-wage sector:
"'First refugees, then 'German craftsman,' 'Young, alone and motivated,' 'People come to work hard,' 'Refugees are lucky.' This is what the headlines sounded like in the summer of 2015, when images of the German welcome culture were seen around the world. The welcoming teddy bears at Munich's central station promoted the view that hundreds of thousands of young men from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Iran could solve several problems in one go — rejuvenate aging German society and alleviate the skills shortage.
"Three years later, the headlines sound sobering: 'Job miracle among migrants is missing,' 'Where are the specialists?' 'Most of the refugees live on Hartz IV [unemployment benefits],' 'The high burden of refugee policy.'
"Was Germany naïve in summer 2015? Did policymakers and experts see the situation from too rosy a perspective and forget that integration into the labor market is a long, sometimes rocky path? ....
"Only one out of every 100 refugees is working in a highly skilled job in Berlin. Nationwide, 8 out of 10 asylum seekers have neither a university degree nor a vocational qualification...."
In another segment entitled, "No New German Economic Miracle in Sight," Deutschlandfunk reported:
"The German economy needs skilled workers: When almost one million refugees came to Germany in 2015, hopes of the big corporations were aroused. But what role do the 30 DAX [blue chip stock market index consisting of the 30 major German companies trading on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange] companies play in integrating into the labor market?
"Deutschlandfunk conducted a survey — the result is sobering: only 800 refugees have been recruited by DAX companies. Most of them work at Deutsche Post — especially in parcel sorting centers or as couriers — and also at the carmakers BMW and Daimler. But: The majority of stock market heavyweights has not hired any migrants...."
Company executives said the main problem is that migrants lack professional qualifications and German language skills.

According to the Federal Labor Office, the educational level of newly arrived migrants in Germany is far lower than initially expected: only a quarter have a high school diploma, while three quarters have no vocational training at all. Only 4% of new arrivals to Germany are highly qualified.

For now, the vast majority of migrants who entered Germany in 2015 and 2016 are wards of the German state. German taxpayers paid around €21.7 billion ($25 billion) on aid for refugees and asylum seekers in 2016, €20.8 billion in 2017, and will pay a similar amount in 2018, according to government figures published by Focus magazine.

A Finance Ministry document revealed that the migrant crisis could end up costing German taxpayers an additional €94 billion ($107 billion) by 2020. About €25.7 billion would be for social spending, such as unemployment benefits and housing support. About €5.7 billion would be destined for language courses and €4.6 billion for integrating refugees into the workforce.

Over the long-term, the 2015 migrant crisis could end up costing German taxpayers more than one trillion euros -- the equivalent of around one-third of Germany's current GDP -- according to calculations presented by economist Bernd Raffelhüschen on behalf of the Market Economy Foundation (Stiftung Marktwirtschaft). He concluded:
"We need people, that is clear. But we need people we need. Which means: Germany needs an immigration limitation law. Only those who fit into the German qualification requirements may come. Other countries do that too. One must have the courage to discriminate, that is to select."
Germany currently has more than 1.2 million job vacancies, according to the Institute for Employment Research (IAB). Of these, 440,000 are for skilled jobs, which, if filled, would increase German economic output by a full percentage point, according to the German Economic Institute in Cologne.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute.


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