Saturday, November 17, 2018

First Muslim Women in US Congress Misled Voters About Views on Israel - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

Both women deceived voters about their positions on Israel.

  • "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel." — Ilhan Omar, in a tweet, November 2012.
  • "When a politician singles out Jewish allies as 'evil,' but ignores every brutal theocratic regime in the area, it's certainly noteworthy...." — David Harsanyi, New York Post.
  • "With many Jews expressing distaste for an 'illiberal' Israel, it's little surprise that the bulk of American Jewry isn't overly bothered about the election of Socialists who are unsympathetic to the Jewish state or consider Zionism to be racist." — Commentator Jonathan Tobin.

Ilhan Abdullahi Omar (pictured) and Rashida Harbi Tlaib will be the first two Muslim women ever to serve in the US Congress. During her campaign, Omar criticized anti-Israel boycotts. Less than a week after being elected, however, Omar admitted that she supports the boycotts. (Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Ilhan Abdullahi Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Harbi Tlaib of Michigan will be the first two Muslim women ever to serve in the US Congress. Most of the media coverage since their election on November 6 has been effusive in praise of their Muslim identity and personal history.

Less known is that both women deceived voters about their positions on Israel. Both women, at some point during their rise in electoral politics, led voters — especially Jewish voters — to believe that they held moderate views on Israel. After being elected, both women reversed their positions and now say they are committed to sanctioning the Jewish state.

America's first two Muslim congresswomen are now both on record as appearing to oppose Israel's right to exist. They both support the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. Both are also explicitly or implicitly opposed to continuing military aid to Israel, as well as to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — an outcome that would establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Instead, they favor a one-state solution — an outcome that many analysts believe would, due to demographics over time, replace the Jewish state with a unitary Palestinian state.

Ilhan Omar, who will replace outgoing Rep. Keith Ellison (the first Muslim elected to Congress) in Minnesota's 5th congressional district, came to the United States as a 12-year-old refugee from Somalia and settled in the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and Saint Paul, in the late 1990s.

In her acceptance speech, delivered without an American flag, Congresswoman-elect Omar opened her speech in Arabic with the greeting, "As-Salam Alaikum, (peace be upon you), alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah), alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah." She continued:
"I stand here before you tonight as your congresswoman-elect with many firsts behind my name. The first woman of color to represent our state in Congress. The first woman to wear a hijab. The first refugee ever elected to Congress. And one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress."
Omar faced some controversy during the campaign, including a disturbing report that she had married her own brother in 2009 for fraudulent purposes, as well as a tweet from May 2018 in which she refers to Israel as an "apartheid regime," and another tweet from November 2012, in which she stated: "Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel."

After the tweets came to light, Omar met with members of her congressional district's large Jewish population to address concerns over her position on Israel, as reported by Minneapolis's Star Tribune. During a Democratic Party candidates' forum at Beth El Synagogue in St. Louis Park on August 6 — one week before Omar defeated four other candidates in the party's primary — Omar publicly criticized the anti-Israel BDS movement. In front of an audience of more than a thousand people, Omar said she supported a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and that the BDS movement aimed at pressuring Israel was not helpful in trying to achieve that goal.

Pressed by moderator Mary Lahammer to specify "exactly where you stand on that," Omar replied that the BDS movement was "counteractive" because it stopped both sides from coming together for "a conversation about how that's going to be possible."

Less than a week after being elected, however, Omar admitted that she supports the BDS movement. On November 11, Omar's office told the website that she favors BDS against Israel:
"Ilhan believes in and supports the BDS movement, and has fought to make sure people's right to support it isn't criminalized. She does however, have reservations on the effectiveness of the movement in accomplishing a lasting solution."
On November 12, Omar told TC Jewfolk, a website catering to the Jewish community in the Twin Cities, that her position on the BDS movement "has always been the same" and pointed to her vote as a state lawmaker against House bill HF 400, which prohibits the state from doing business with companies or organizations that boycott Israel.

In a recent interview with the Star Tribune, Omar characterized the controversy over her tweets about Israel as an effort to "stigmatize and shame me into saying something other than what I believed."

In a July 8, 2018 interview with ABC News, for a segment entitled, "Progressive Democrats Increasingly Criticize Israel, and Could Reap Political Rewards," Omar defended her tweets. She said the accusations of anti-Semitism "are without merit" and "rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe."

On September 22, Omar was the keynote speaker in Minneapolis at a fundraiser focused on providing monetary support for Palestinians in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. The US Department of State has officially designated Hamas a terrorist group. After the event, Omar tweeted:
"It was such an honor to attend the 'Dear Gaza' fundraiser ... I know Palestinians are resilient people, hateful protesters nor unjust occupation will dim their spirit."
Writing in the New York Post, political commentator David Harsanyi noted that Omar's rhetoric had anti-Semitic undertones:
"Now, it isn't inherently anti-Semitic to be critical of Israeli political leadership or policies. The Democratic Party antagonism toward the Jewish state has been well-established over the past decade. But Omar used a well-worn anti-Semitic trope about the preternatural ability of a nefarious Jewish cabal to deceive the world....
"Omar had a chance to retract, or at least refine, her statement. Instead, she doubled down ... blaming Jewish Islamophobia for the backlash....
"To accuse the only democratic state in the Middle East, which grants more liberal rights to its Muslim citizens than any Arab nation, of being an 'apartheid regime' is, on an intellectual level, grossly disingenuous or incredibly ignorant. And when a politician singles out Jewish allies as 'evil,' but ignores every brutal theocratic regime in the area, it's certainly noteworthy....
"Omar's defenders will claim she's anti-Israel, not anti-Jewish. 'Anti-Zionism' has been the preferred justification for Jew-hatred in institutions of education and within progressive activism for a long time. Now it's coming for politics. Democrats can either allow it to be normalized, or they can remain silent."
In Michigan, meanwhile, Rashida Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, won a largely uncontested race for the open seat in state's heavily Democratic 13th congressional district.

In Tlaib's acceptance speech, delivered with a Palestinian flag, she credited her victory to the Palestinian cause. "A lot of my strength comes from being Palestinian," she said.

Like Omar, Tlaib has changed her positions on key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. During her race for the Democratic nomination in the state primary, Tlaib actively "sought out the support and received the endorsement of J Street." J Street is a left-leaning organization that is highly critical of the Israel government, and through "JStreetPAC," it also allocates financial support to those who back J Street's policies.

J Street endorsed Tlaib "based on her support for two states" with the JStreetPAC website claiming that she "believes that the U.S. should be directly involved with negotiations to reach a two-state solution. Additionally, she supports all current aid to Israel and the Palestinian Authority."

After her primary win on August 7, however, Tlaib radically shifted her positions on Israel, so much so that Haaretz suggested that she pulled a "bait-and-switch."

In an August 14 interview with In These Times magazine, Tlaib was asked whether she supported a one-state or two-state solution. She replied:
"One state. It has to be one state. Separate but equal does not work.... This whole idea of a two-state solution, it doesn't work."
Tlaib also declared her opposition to US aid for Israel, as well as her support for the BDS movement.

When asked why she accepted money from J Street, Tlaib said that the organization endorsed her because of her "personal story," not her policy "stances."

In an August 13 interview with Britain's Channel 4, Tlaib revealed that she subscribes to the specious concept of intersectionality, which posits that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fundamentally a dispute between "white supremacists" and "people of color."

When Tlaib was asked about her position on Israel, she replied, "I grew up in Detroit where every single corner of the district is a reminder of the civil rights movement."

When Tlaib was asked whether, once in Congress, she would vote to cut aid to Israel, she replied: "Absolutely. For me, US aid should be leverage."

On August 17, J Street withdrew its endorsement of Tlaib's candidacy. J Street noted:
"After closely consulting with Rashida Tlaib's campaign to clarify her most current views on various aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we have come to the unfortunate conclusion that a significant divergence in perspectives requires JStreetPAC to withdraw our endorsement of her candidacy.
"While we have long championed the value of a wide range of voices in discussion of the conflict and related issues, we cannot endorse candidates who conclude that they can no longer publicly express unequivocal support for a two-state solution and other core principles to which our organization is dedicated."
Commentator Jonathan Tobin noted that many American Jews seemed indifferent to victories by these anti-Israel Democrats:
"The base of the Democratic Party has been profoundly influenced by intersectional arguments that, like Tlaib's slurs, view the Palestinian war on Israel as akin to the struggle for civil rights in the United States....
"For most [American Jews], Israel is, at best, just one among many issues they care about. At the moment, that means most American Jews are far more interested in evicting US President Donald Trump from the White House or expressing solidarity with illegal immigrants than about threats to Israel...
"With many Jews expressing distaste for an 'illiberal' Israel, it's little surprise that the bulk of American Jewry isn't overly bothered about the election of Socialists who are unsympathetic to the Jewish state or consider Zionism to be racist."

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

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Saturday schadenfuede: Avenatti's fall from grace with the left - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

The left is now saying, "Michael who"?

How deliciously satisfying is creepy porn lawyer Michael Avenatti's fall? The man who announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination of president in 2020 has just been evicted from his law offices in Newport Beach, is facing domestic violence charges after beating up his girlfriend, and has become a pariah on the left.

All in the space of a week.

Avenatti didn't even bother showing up for his eviction hearing.

Los Angeles Times:
In a brief hearing at Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana, Judge Robert J. Moss affirmed his Oct. 22nd order that Avenatti and his staff vacate their ocean-view suite in a building across from the Fashion Island mall. He ordered them to leave by Monday.
Avenatti’s longtime law firm, Eagan Avenatti, skipped $213,254 in rent payments due over four months, leading the landlord, the Irvine Co., to sue for eviction.
After the landlord won the case last month at a one-hour trial that Avenatti skipped, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office posted a notice at the law office ordering the firm to vacate the premises by 6 a.m. on Nov. 1.
Avenatti requested a reprieve that won him a delay until Friday’s hearing, which he also did not attend.
Moss asked Mark Kompa, the landlord’s attorney, if he had heard from Avenatti. Kompa said he spoke to the celebrity lawyer on Tuesday.
“There were other events that transpired so I haven’t heard from him since then,” Kompa said.
Those "events" included being arrested. The champion of the #MeToo crowd and a leader in the "resistance" to Trump now finds himself broke and ruined. Naturally, the left never heard of the guy - or, at least, they wish they hadn't.

I can’t say I was surprised when Michael Avenatti was arrested on suspicion of felony domestic violence on Wednesday. It’s not that he seems like someone who’d assault a romantic partner. For one thing, that’s not something you can accurately glean from a guy’s tweets and cable news appearances. For another, Avenatti strongly denies the allegations. But even if Avenatti didn’t do what he’s been accused of doing, the ingredients of this scandal—gossip rags! a thing to be mad about! a political opponent to loudly blame!—perfectly suit Avenatti’s confrontational, grandstanding persona.
At times, it feels like Avenatti, who came into our lives earlier this year as Stormy Daniels’ lawyer and shows no inclination to ever leave, is something akin to the drama-seeking friend who moans, “I’m so unlucky, drama just seems to follow me everywhere!” At others, he comes off as a full-on “messy bitch who lives for drama.” His past is full of weird professional tangents—he’s a race car driver?—and personal litigation. His present is packed with televised outbursts, high-profile beefs, and a compulsive urge to make his clients’ stories about him. It was only a matter of time before a lurid allegation about his personal behavior ended up on TMZ.
Now, Avenatti will likely lose whatever goodwill he still held with Donald Trump haters who hoped Daniels’ attorney held the key to impeachment. Alyssa Milano, who appeared at an anti-Trump protest with Avenatti in July and has been a hypervisible leader of the #MeToo movement, tweeted that she was “disavowing” him. Daniels says she’ll drop him as her lawyer “if these allegations prove true.” But even if Avenatti isn’t charged or convicted, it’s hard to imagine him retaining the trust of anyone who cares about women’s rights. That’s especially the case after the public statement in which he said he would “never disrespect [his two daughters] by touching a woman inappropriately or striking a woman,” a bizarre line of defense—he needs a reminder of his own female flesh and blood to keep him from abusing women?—to wedge into an extremely short comment to the press.
So air heads like Alyssa Milano now disavows Avenatti? Just what did the left expect from a guy who represents clients that reputable lawyers wouldn't touch? The glory-hunting Avenatti put his own interests above those of his clients and people are suprised that he's gotten torched?
Avenatti follows a long line of leftist heroes who eventually make such complete idiots of themselves, that the left eventually tip toes away pretending they weren't important to begin with.
Anyone remember Cindy Sheehan? She's the woman who lost a son in Iraq who camped out on President's Bush's ranch because she only wanted to "talk" to him. Her behavior eventually became so erratic and her words so extreme, that the left started to ignore her until she ended up on the extreme fringes of the movement.
There have been others who were lionized by the left for a time, only to disappear a short while later when their usefulness came to an end. Now that it's happened to Avenatti, it only remains to be seen whether he ends up in jail or as a late night punchline for some comi.

Rick Moran


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What Do Leftists Think about the 2018 Election? - Gary Gindler

by Gary Gindler

The nonstop bombarding of Trump with political mud for two years has prevented Democrats and all other leftists from seeing the actual dynamics of what is happening in the White House.

Only a few of the left-wing parties expressed themselves directly after the midterm elections, while others took some time to formulate their position.

Let's start with the avant-garde of the American leftists -- the Communist Party USA. Immediately after the elections, the communists declared a "historic victory." Communists clearly do not hide their sympathies. They fully support their ideological fellows -- the Democrats -- and rejoice in the loss of a Republican majority in the House of Representatives. Consequently, one gets the impression that they both receive talking points from the same source. The rhetoric of the Communists and Democrats is similar. They say all the followers of Trump are fascists, as they relentlessly talk about the “blue wave.” And now, after tirelessly speaking out against U.S. Attorney General Sessions for the last two years, they turn to come to his defense after his dismissal by Trump. 

Another well-known left-wing party – the Democratic Socialists of America (the party that young Barack Obama joined immediately upon arrival in Chicago) -- clearly positions itself as the leader of the left-wing movement in the United States. In their statement after the elections, the Democratic Socialists do not hide the fact that the young communist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York and the anti-Semitic Rashid Tlaib from Michigan are members of the DSA who went to Congress under the banner of the Democrats. At the post-election victory party, the fresh member of Congress Tlaib danced, not with the U.S. flag, but with the flag of Palestine. So it is not surprising that this party’s position towards Israel, for example, parallels that of the Democrats and the Communists. Democratic Socialists also talk about “global warming,” support for LGBTQIA + (I still can’t remember what the Q stands for, and now + sign has appeared), and about Trump-the-racist.
The loudest-voiced leftist party in America is the Revolution Communist Party USA. This party, as usual, is trying to look like an “independent left party.” Immediately after the elections, they tried to distance themselves from both Republicans and Democrats. The Communist revolutionaries brought down all the standard epithets of Marxism to the "ruling class," and they did not forget, of course, to add the phrase that Trump is Hitler reincarnated. In fact, what else could be expected from those who seriously propose changing the U.S. Constitution to the constitution of the “Socialist Republic of North America”?

As for the American Green Party, it is difficult to answer the question – are they similar to Marxists, or are these Marxists similar to Greens as two peas in a pod? Judge for yourself – the press releases of the Green Party as a result of the elections are practically no different from the press releases of the Democratic Party and other left-wing parties. However, the Greens were forced to admit that their difficulties in the state of Georgia are connected to the methods of suppressing the opposition, introduced by the Democratic Party of Georgia back in 1943.

The Working Families Party, a breakaway from communists 20 years ago, does not hide its enthusiasm about the fact that dozens of members of this party won the election. The Working Families Party rightly notes that the newly elected House of Representatives will be "the most progressive in a generation."

The revolutionary Socialist Alternative party does not hide its joy of the fact that many of the newly elected members of the House of Representatives are socialists. The Alternative Socialists complain about Trump’s “reactionary regime” while they correctly emphasize that as a result of the elections, many anti-Trumpists got purged from the Republican Party.

The Marxist-Leninist Workers World Party sums up the results of the elections in a very original way. They call the victory of the Democrats “illusory” and call for the rejection of both “capitalist parties” -- the Republicans and the Democrats.

The only more or less significant Trotskyist party in America is the Socialist Equality Party. The party is a member of the Fourth International. The Trotskyists are trying to soberly assess the situation and note that many socialists who have gone to Congress diligently concealed their socialist roots and membership in socialist parties. Also, the Trotskyists criticize the Democratic party for the fact that it turns out to have made a "sharp turn to the right." They blame the Democrats for having some positions "to the right of the Trump administration." However, no one is surprised that the Trotskyists have declared the Democratic party "pseudo-left." Who would dare to be to the left of the Trotskyists?

Many left-wing parties in the United States did not express their opinion on the past elections. The official organization of the young communists -- League of Young Communists USA -- is still silent on the election. To this day, there is no word from The Marxist U.S. Marxist-Leninist Organization, League of Revolution for New America, Party for Socialism and Liberation, the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party, and many others.

However, apart from ideology, all the leftist parties of the United States are united by the amazing ability to transform election day into election week, and then into election month. Moreover, if you gave free rein to the Trotskyists, then their slogan, "permanent revolution" would be replaced by the slogan, "permanent elections."

Differences in the assessment of the current events by the American leftist parties are not something extraordinary. Traditionally, the leftists criticize all those who appear to be to the right of themselves. Therefore, for example, the Trotskyists are always criticized only on the right, and no one criticizes them on the left. There is simply no one to the left of them in the American political spectrum.

The nonstop bombarding of Trump with political mud for two years has prevented Democrats and all other leftists from seeing the actual dynamics of what is happening in the White House. Additionally, this applies not only to the left but also, (judging by the recent vote on the post of minority leader in the House of Representatives) to the right-wingers. Indeed, during the first two years of his first presidential term, Trump once again abandoned the ideas and symbols of the party to which he formally belonged. It seems that only American conservatives have noted this dynamic, and this gives them some hope.

The results of the elections in 2018 mean that Trump has finally abandoned both the Democratic Donkey and the Republican Elephant. Now the tenant of the White House is the Lion, the leader of the American conservatives, Donald J. Trump.

Gary Gindler, Ph.D., is a conservative blogger at Gary Gindler Chronicles. Follow him on Twitter.


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Israel’s stark option: Arabs in Gaza or Jews in Negev - Dr. Martin Sherman

by Dr. Martin Sherman

The problem in Gaza is not operational. It is conceptual. The failed formula of self-rule for Gaza must be set aside.

The nightmare stories of the Likud are well known. After all, they promised Katyusha rockets from Gaza as well. For a year, Gaza has been largely under the rule of the Palestinian Authority. There has not been a single Katyusha rocket. Nor will there be any Katyushas. –Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, September 28, 1995  

“I am firmly convinced and truly believe that this disengagement... will be appreciated by those near and far, reduce animosity, break through boycotts and sieges and advance us along the path of peace with the Palestinians and our other neighbors...—Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, October 25, 2004.

If the Israel leadership persists with its perception of the Palestinian-Arabs in general, and the Gazan's in particular, as potential partners in some future peace arrangement rather than perceiving them as they perceive themselves – as implacable enemies, whose enmity towards the Jewish state is not rooted in what it does but what it is—it will never be able to formulate a policy capable of effectively dealing [with]... the continuing, and continually intensifying, threat emanating from the Gaza Strip.

Fatal failure of conventional wisdom

The dramatic escalation in violence on Monday—the very day after Israel permitted the transfer of millions of Qatari dollars into the Hamas- ruled- enclave, allegedly to alleviate the worsening humanitarian crisis there—underscored the futility of adhering to the dictates of conventional wisdom—i.e. that increasing humanitarian aid will work to quell the violence along and across the border with Israel, or to significantly reduce it.  Indeed, recent events have only highlighted just how baseless prevailing dogmas that dominate the discourse have proved to be.

Time and again over the course of the conflict, it has been shown, clearly and convincingly, that the penury and privation are not the reason for Arab enmity toward Israel. Quite the reverse! It is Arab enmity towards Israel that is reason for the prevailing penury and privation.

Almost inevitably, the  dismaying recurrence of violence along Israel’s source border  brings to mind the pithy dictum attributed to Albert Einstein, who reportedly observed: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

After all, the problems of Gaza are the undeniable outcome of the ill-conceived attempt to foist self-governance on Gaza and the Gazans. As such it is aproblem that cannot be resolved by persevering with the same mode of thinking that created it. Accordingly, the failed formula of self-rule for Gaza must be set aside—since any obstinate insistence on it will only continue to exacerbate the current situation and extend the misery it precipitates—for Arab and Jew alike.

Irresponsible restraint

It is in this context that the Israeli government’s decision to refrain from decisive military action over almost eight months of violence against its civilians in the South must be assessed—and branded not only imprudent but irresponsible!

To grasp the significance of this rather harsh allegation, we should recall that since Israel unilaterally abandoned the Gaza Strip almost a decade-and a–half ago, its enemies have succeeded in upgrading the scope and size of their arsenal beyond recognition.  At the end of every round of fighting, the inter-bellum period of calm was only utilized for developing their society and advancing their economy—but rather to enhance their martial capabilities for the next round of fighting.  If back in 2005, on the eve of the “Disengagement”, some far-sighted individual had predicted  that reality would be as it is today, his caveats would have been disdainfully dismissed as unfounded scaremongering.

If back then—when the most formidable weaponry the Gaza-based terror organization possessed were primitive rockets with an explosive charge of up to 5 kg and range of no more than 5 km—some-one had warned that in the foreseeable future, all over Israel’s population centers within a 100 km radius would be threatened by high-trajectory weapons with war-heads of up to 100 kg; if, back then, some-one had suggested that Israel would be threatened with firepower of  hundreds of missiles/rockets/shells within an hour, no-one would have taken his prediction seriously.  

Tenacious strategic enmity

Accordingly, it would be perilous for Israel to underestimate the gravity of the long-term strategic significance this tenacious enmity, and its more radical offshoots, harbor against it.
Indeed, every time Israel has managed to thwart a given mode of terrorist activity, the Palestinian-Arabs have managed to devised methods to overcome or circumvent Israeli counter measures.

Thus when Israel managed to curtail terror attacks by means of a security fence and secured and regulated checkpoints, the Palestinians developed overhead rocket capabilities to by-pass  them from above; when Israel developed anti-rocket defense systems, the Palestinians began excavating an array of underground attack tunnels, to by-pass those systems from below; when Israel began constructing a massive billion dollar subterranean barrier to block the tunnels; the Palestinians began flying incendiary kites and explosive balloons,to by-pass it from above—and so on and so forth.

Indeed, one can hardly dismiss as implausible the specter of Israel being subjected, in the not-too-distant future, to attacks by a swarm of drones armed with explosive—or worse—non-conventional charges.  Disturbingly if the terrorist infrastructures in Gaza are left intact there is little reason to believe that such a scenario—or an equally harrowing one—will not materialize.

Growing disaffection with government inaction

The ramifications of this enduring Judeocidal war are beginning to take their toll on Israeli society. The increasingly vociferous demonstration by the residents of the Israeli communities close to the Gaza border, reflect the growing impatience with what is perceived as the government’s impotence in responding to the challenge from the terror organizations in Gaza—and its manifest failure to discharge its most basic duty—providing security to its citizens.  They indicate mounting unwillingness to endure the evermore onerous conditions in which they are being forced to live, with their economy being devastated— particularly tourism and agriculture, their livelihoods being drastically diminished, the constant disruption of daily life, and the ongoing danger to lives and their families.

It is difficult decipher the strategic rationale—if any-- behind the the current policy of the government. After all, unless, for some unknown and certainly unspecified reason, it is banking on the Palestinian-Arab morphing into something they have not been for over 100 years and indeed show little sign of doing so in any foreseeable future, it is hard to understand—given its penchant for inaction—how it sees the situation evolving in the future. In the next ten years? The next twenty years?

Justified skepticism

There is a perceptible sense of skepticism as to the government’s intentions regarding Gaza and its ability to adequately deal with the challenges it poses. This is hardly surprising, for when it comes to Gaza—as the opening excerpts clearly indicate (see above)—the Israeli public has been led gravely astray in the past, with previous assessment being proven wildly inaccurate.

It is thus understandable that cryptic government allusions to highly classified reasons, which cannot be made public, for eschewing large-scale punitive military action against Gaza  in response to months of violence, have been greeted with some suspicion.

The sudden resignation of the Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in protest against IDF inaction severely undercut any credibility afforded to such claims—since it seems highly implausible that he, of all people, would not have be aware of these inhibiting factors.

Indeed, the events of the last few days also tend to discredit the claims that the action in the South has been curtailed so attention can be focused on the North, considered to entail a greater peril to Israel. For they demonstrated that, even against the hundreds of projectiles from Gaza, Israel’s missile defense system was unable to prevent direct hits on residential properties. One can only wonder therefore how it would fare against the thousands of more formidable missiles in Hezbollah’s arsenal in the North.  Thus surely, military logic would dictate that the minor threat in the South be eliminated, so that it would not have to be dealt with while having to engage the greater threat from the North.  After all, if the military infrastructure in Gaza is left intact, Israel cannot determine when it might be activated. Indeed, it is not unlikely that this may well be the case should fighting erupt in the North.

The bitter dilemma

Given the continual upgrading of the military capabilities in Gaza, the irrelevance of humanitarian aid for stability, the growing disaffection of the civilian population, and the looming threats on other fronts, the Israeli leadership must internalize the bitter truth:

The solution to the problem of Gaza is its deconstruction—not its reconstruction. For at the end of the day, it must face a regrettable but unavoidable dilemma: Eventually there will either be Arabs in Gaza or Jews in the Negev.  In the long term, there will not be both!

Dr. Martin Sherman served for seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli Defense establishment, was ministerial adviser to Yitzhak Shamir's government and lectured for 20 years at Tel Aviv University in Political Science, International Relations and Strategic Studies. He has a B.Sc. (Physics and Geology), MBA (Finance), and PhD in political science and international relations, was the first academic director of the Herzliya Conference and is the author of two books and numerous articles and policy papers on a wide range of political, diplomatic and security issues. He is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies ( Born in South Africa,he has lived in Israel since 1971.


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Islamic Republic of Iran to be declared in breach of chemical weapons bans - Robert Spencer

by Robert Spencer

Trump again moves to undo the massive damage done by his predecessor, who did so very much to enable and empower the Islamic Republic of Iran.

"Iran to Be Declared in Breach of Chemical Weapons Bans,” by Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon, November 16, 2018:
The Trump administration is set to announce that Iran is not in compliance with the Chemical Weapons Conventions, marking a significant departure from that of the Obama administration, which refrained from making such a declaration amid efforts to solidify the landmark nuclear agreement.
The declaration comes in the aftermath of a flurry of activity by both the White House and State Department highlighting Iran’s malign activities across the globe. A bevy of economic sanctions on Iran were reimposed earlier this month, and the chemical weapons action is likely to further tighten the noose on the Iranian regime as part of what the administration has called a “maximum pressure” campaign on Tehran.
Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, backed by Iranian forces, is believed by the international community to have deployed chemical weapons, with support given by Tehran.
Multiple sources with knowledge of the matter confirmed that next week the Trump administration will transmit a formal finding to Congress regarding Iran’s non-compliance with the conventions, which ban stockpiling and use of these lethal weapons.
The use of chemical weapons in the Middle East has created scores of civilian casualties just in Syria alone.
The Obama administration stopped short of declaring Iran in non-compliance during its time in office, but did inform Congress that it was not able to verify Iran as upholding the conventions….

Robert Spencer


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How Hamas Brought Israel to the Brink of Election Chaos - Seth J. Frantzman

by Seth J. Frantzman

Domestic policy is now ruffling Netanyahu’s carefully crafted foreign policy and strategic equation

Israel’s defense minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned on November 14 in the wake of a ceasefire agreement with Hamas in Gaza. His resignation has now plunged Israeli politics into chaos as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must juggle what’s left of his fragile coalition government and is being pressured to appoint Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, as the new defense minister. Hamas, which has been challenging Israel with six months of protests and rocket fire from Gaza, has now achieved what it sees as a victory. Despite its inability to penetrate Israel’s defenses around Gaza, it may bring down the government.

The latest round of violence, that resulted in Lieberman’s departure, began on Sunday, November 11, when an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) special unit ran into trouble in Gaza during what has been characterized as a sensitive reconnaissance or surveillance operation. During an exchange of fire with Hamas near Khan Yunis, a high-ranking Israeli officer was killed and in subsequent air strikes seven Palestinians were also killed, including a senior Hamas commander. The next day tensions were palpable, and Israel heightened security around the Gaza Strip. Armored personnel carriers were brought up to the border. At dusk Hamas fired a Kornet anti-tank missile at a bus carrying soldiers and unleashed a barrage of rockets. Over the next twenty-four hours more than 460 rockets were fired at Israel, killing one man in Ashkelon. Israel’s Iron Dome defense system intercepted most of the rockets that were headed for towns and cities near Gaza. Others landed in open areas. The IDF retaliated by striking 160 targets.

This kind of cycle of rocket fire and air strikes has become common over the last six months. It began with Hamas launching the Great March of Return in late March of this year, sending tens of thousands of protesters to the border fence. Hamas wants to achieve relevance after twelve years of governing Gaza with nothing to show for it. Hamas has been isolated in the last year not only by Israel’s blockade, but also because the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank has sought to sanction civil servants in Gaza and cut their salaries. Opposed by Egypt, Hamas receives some financial support from Qatar and Iran, and verbal backing from Turkey, but it has failed to govern. It has also failed in its terror campaign against Israel as Jerusalem has found ways to stop Hamas tunnels, confront its “naval commandos” and thwart its rockets. In October, Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired dozens of rockets at Israel and the IDF struck eighty targets in Gaza. In July, after Hamas fired 170 mortars and rockets into Israel, the air force also struck forty sites in Gaza.

 Above: Rockets being fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel 

Netanyahu’s real concern is the Iranian threat and especially Iran’s role in Syria and Lebanon. He has called for Iran to leave Syria and Israel has waged a campaign against Iranian targets in Syria and against Iranian weapons transfers to Hezbollah. Since 2011, Israel has struck three hundred targets in Syria, two hundred in the last two years. Israel has also warned about Hezbollah’s growing network of rocket factories and facilities in Lebanon, especially as Iran’s ballistic missiles become more precise and Iran is alleged to have transferred that precision guidance to Hezbollah. In October, Russia transferred the S-300 anti-aircraft system to Syria and warned in late October against any “hot heads” in Israel testing the air defense. This means Israel has to work doubly hard to figure out how to continue to confront the Iranian threat in Syria. It also means working with the U.S. administration. U.S. envoy James Jeffrey said on November 14 that it was the U.S. goal to see Iranian forces leave Syria. Also, Netanyahu recently visited Oman and Israeli ministers visited the United Arab Emirates in early November. This points to a breakthrough in Israeli relations with the Gulf and is part of the wider regional strategy to confront Iran.

Given the Iran-focused regional strategy, the last thing Netanyahu wants is a difficult ground war in Gaza. Netanyahu already presided over the 2014 war in Gaza and the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense, which achieved little except setting back Hamas’s capabilities. Those conflicts were largely the result of Hamas importing weapons and expertise via smuggling from Sinai, taking advantage of the chaos of the Arab Spring. Now Hamas is weaker and its conduit to Sinai is cut off. Netanyahu and his security establishment, according to numerous conversations I had, are prone to avoid another war. They want an Egyptian-backed ceasefire to hold while maintaining the status quo in Gaza. This enables Israel to focus on the region, instead of inflaming the region with a war in Gaza.

It was in this complex context that Lieberman resigned. A competent defense minister who helped manage Israel’s $19 billion defense budget and helped secure the $3.8 billion in annual U.S. military aid that was signed in 2016, he shepherded through deliveries of the first F-35s and also contemplated new purchases by Israel of a squadron of F-15s and new helicopters.

But politically Lieberman found himself isolated at the defense ministry. Eran Lerman, vice-president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, and a former deputy director for foreign policy and international affairs at the National Security Council in the Israeli prime minister’s office, describes Lieberman as isolated by the rest of Netanyahu’s security cabinet which supported the ceasefire. Those who supported the ceasefire included the Mossad, the Israel security agency (Shin Bet) and the chief of staff of the army. In such a position, Lieberman’s role as defense minister became less relevant and he chose to resign so as to appear more hardline on Gaza than Netanyahu. This will play well in upcoming elections, which will be held sometime next year, because many Israelis in the south who have been affected by the rockets think that Jerusalem should deal Hamas a strong blow. That was clear on Wednesday and Thursday night as protesters burned tires near Sderot, one of the towns often targeted by Hamas. Protesters have also marched on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Domestic policy is now ruffling Netanyahu’s carefully crafted foreign policy and strategic equation. In this respect, Hamas’s claims of “victory” in the ceasefire are not just empty rhetoric. Hamas didn’t achieve a military victory. But toppling the defense minister is a kind of victory because it shows that Hamas can shake Jerusalem’s politics at the very top, after years of being unable to put a dent in the iron ring of security fences and missile defenses around Gaza.

Now Netanyahu will be faced with several complex choices. Naftali Bennett, the head of the Jewish Home party, says he wants the defense portfolio. But Bennett, like Lieberman, will want to be an independent defense minister. This would once again challenge Netanyahu to do more in Gaza. The prime minister could also take on the job of defense minister himself, something former Israeli prime ministers have done. But Netanyahu is already the foreign minister, how he would handle the three top jobs, concentrating so much power, is unclear.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani © Reuters
If Israel’s Prime Minister is unable to sort out the current instability, then the country will go to elections. Given Netanyahu’s interest in the current regional strategy, elections would be another distraction. This was exactly what he sought to avoid in Gaza, but now it may be presented in another form. After almost ten years in power, Netanyahu will have trouble winning another election. He wants to preserve his legacy and being forced into elections and potentially forced from office now would be humiliating. Lieberman has thrown Israel’s politics into momentary chaos at a crucial time in the region. Hamas thinks it has gained an advantage and it may try to press that advantage or seek to interfere if it thinks it can gain something amid the instability in Netanyahu’s coalition.

Seth J. Frantzman is a Jerusalem-based journalist who holds a PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis and a writing fellow at Middle East Forum.


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War, deterrence and capitulating to terror - Dr. Mordechai Kedar

by Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Israeli military doctrine considers deterrence preferable to war, but the state has not attained the necessary conditions for it to work, and has capitulated to terror instead.

Winning a war depends on two main factors. The first is real, tangible and measurable, and is attained by destroying or paralyzing the military capability of the enemy.  The second is virtual, emotional and psychological, and requires convincing the enemy that he has been defeated, so that his only choice is to completely abandon any desire to return to the fight. 

The first factor is a necessary condition for the existence of the second, because as long as an enemy has military power and the ability to make use of it, he will not give up the desire to fight.  Once the first factor has been achieved, chances are good that the second, psychological one will follow, but that is not necessarily the case, because even an enemy that has been routed militarily can continue efforts to rebuild its strength and renew hostilities. Peace is possible only after both objectives of the war are achieved: Utter destruction of the enemy's military power and a complete change in his mental state. The clearest example of this is Germany's defeat at the end of WWII.

The catch is that in order to achieve peace on the lines of that agreed to by Germany and its neighbors, an out and out war is unavoidable. Significant elements of the enemy's forces along with a large number of his people, his economy and infrastructure must be damaged extensively.  The world has developed the theory of deterrence in order to avoid this kind of war and the price both sides have to pay for waging it: In order to prevent a war, you do not have to destroy the enemy, his economy and infrastructure, all you need to do is paralyze his desire to employ force against you because of the high price he will have to pay for acting against you. Deterrence provides a de facto peace, with all the benefits it entails, without your investing the effort needed to wage a war and without having to suffer its resulting fatalities.

Deterrence, however, is a mental state, and every psychological state is subject to change when the conditions that brought it about are altered.  The most deleterious effect on deterrence is the other side's ceasing to be perceived as dangerous and seen as losing power because it has lost the desire to make use of that power. This is a very dangerous situation, because the side that was once subject to deterrence can decide to return to the battlefield and aim its entire weapons arsenal against its no longer fearsome opponent.

Israel's military outlook has undergone a major change over the years. Until the first Lebanon War in 1982, Israeli doctrine called for destroying the enemy's forces and eliminating his desire to fight, in order to engage in peace negotiations from a position of such power that the enemy would be forced to accept Israel's conditions. From that period onward, Israel has changed its mindset and the doctrine of a decisive victory has become a doctrine of deterrence based on the advanced military technology Israel can bring to bear in its operations, along with its ability, desire and intention to use this technology for as long as necessary. Israel's decision makers do not want to be responsible for soldiers' funerals and are willing to do anything to avoid war - and that means settling for deterrence.
To Israeli politicians, the peace that prevails between Israel, Egypt and Jordan serves as proof in justifying this approach, because it is generally believed that these two Arab states signed the agreements as a result of a change in their mental state regarding the Jewish state, leading them to believe Israel is too strong for them to destroy on the battlefield. No Israelis  think that this peace continues to exist as a result of any great love the Egyptians and Jordanians have for Israel, but because the two Arab states are afraid of the high price of reneging on it.


Israel's war against Hamas has the same two components: Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have a massive and varied arsenal of weapons at their disposal, some manufactured in the world's best munitions plants. One such weapon is the Russian Kornet, the antitank missile that hit a bus this week, turning it into a smoking ruin and injuring one soldier. Others are of local manufacture and less efficient, sometimes injuring those activating them instead of hitting their targets. The terrorist organizations in Gaza have other kinds of weapons, from attack tunnels to incendiary kites and balloons. It is almost certain that as long as these groups have weapons of any kind, they will want to make use of them and will do so if they have reason to. 

Israel's position on Gaza is actually not different from its position regarding Egypt and Jordan, because the Israeli public believes that deterrence is enough to bring Hamas, the ruling power in Gaza, to agree to the same cold but functional peace Israel has with Egypt and Jordan. Since mid 2007, when Hamas terrorists took over Gaza by force, Israel has been attempting to achieve a level of deterrence that could succeed in attaining that goal. It  has done that by targeted elimination of Hamas leaders (Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Salah Shchada, Ahmed Aljabri, for example), destroying terror tunnels, bombing specific targets, but it has never decided to destroy the movement itself and end its rule over Gaza, in reality accepting its existence and trying to deter  it from attacking Israel.

At first glance, this seems like the right approach, since Hamas has no intentions of leaving Gaza where its civil and military control is strong and deep-rooted enough to have convinced Israel's top brass and Intelligence services that "there is nothing to do about it," that "war cannot eliminate terror," and that "we are not going to go out to fight a war where many of our sons will go to their deaths only to bring the PLO back to Gaza." The problem is that as soon as an Israeli says that, he encourages Hamas terrorists to believe that Israel is weak and unable to use its power because it has lost the will to use its state of the art weaponry. The feeling that Israel is weak and lacks the desire to use its power is the fuel that keeps the Jihad fires burning and terrorist ideology flourishing in Gaza.

And that is exactly what happened this week: On Tuesday and Wednesday Hamas terrorists launched more than 400 rockets and mortars into Israeli territory. What would the UK have done to anyone who launched 400 rockets at its civilians? How about just one rocket? What would France do to anyhone who dared launch one single rocket at its territory? What would any US president do to Mexico if it dared launch one mortar shell at America? Israel began to act decisively against Hamas targets and Hamas leaders, in order to stop the Israeli war machine that might destroy their accomplishments, decided to stop firing and declare a ceasefire.

Israel was dragged into the current situation and fell right into a trap, letting Hamas become the sole party to decide when war against Israel is to be waged, how serious a war it is to be, and when it is going to end. Do you get it? A terror organization is now dictating to a powerful state the conditions for a ceasefire, and in the midst of this absurd scenario, a cowardly government has to decide what it is to do with Hamas.

Is it any wonder that this government actually agreed that a hostile country like Qatar, a supporter of terror by means of funding and political backing for every Sunni Jihadist movement, can transfer tens of millions of dollars in hard cash to Hamas so as to keep its motors running, pay its personnel and enhance its ability to stand up to Israel and dictate the terms for a ceasefire?

Worst of all is that Qatari money is being transferred at Iran's behest. Iran's rulers, under severe economic sanctions at present, do not want peace and tranquility between Israel and Gaza. On the contrary, they want the smoke rising from a war between Israel and Gaza to divert media attention from Iran and  the "deal" which granted the Ayatollahs 150 billion dollars in cash with which to destroy the Middle East. Qatar, a long time supporter of the terror espoused by organizations whose ideology originated in the Muslim Brotherhood, backs Hamas publicly. It has, for the most part, built the infrastructure, including the military one, for a Hamas state in Gaza. Qatar's media Jihad channel, Al Jazeera, broadcasts 24/7 and serves as Qatar's propaganda arm against Israel.

The absurd situation in which Israel allows Qatar to fund Hamas terror, capitulating to this terrorist organization's dictates, will most definitely lead to Israel's Right having to face the existential question of "to be or not to be." 

Written in Hebrew for Arutz Sheva, translated by Op-ed  Editor Rochel Sylvetsky.

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


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Sweden: What 'Humanitarian Superpower'? - Judith Bergman

by Judith Bergman

As early as 2001, a news report by newspaper Dagen showed that Christian asylum seekers had their applications rejected in Sweden far more frequently than Muslim asylum seekers

  • Self-proclaimed "humanitarian superpower" Sweden, with its pride in upholding "human rights," decided to take a 6-year old boy, who lost his mother, away from his grandparents and deport him to an orphanage in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Sweden refuses to deport the worst criminals and terrorists if there is the tiniest perceived risk that they might be harmed in the country to which they would be sent.
  • In spite of sharp criticism from Sweden's highest government agencies, the Swedish government defied Swedish law to allow 9,000 mainly undocumented Afghan men, whose asylum applications were rejected, to study in high school alongside Swedish adolescents.
  • As early as 2001, a news report by newspaper Dagen showed that Christian asylum seekers had their applications rejected in Sweden far more frequently than Muslim asylum seekers.

In October, Sweden, which apparently likes to see itself as a "humanitarian superpower," decided to expel and deport a 6-year old boy to the Ukraine. The boy had been technically orphaned when his mother died and his father, who lives in the Ukraine, formally renounced custody of his child in a Ukrainian court. The boy, Denis, has no other relatives in the Ukraine and would therefore have to go straight to an orphanage.

In 2015, Denis's mother brought him from the Ukraine to Sweden -- where his mother's parents were already living. She applied for a residence permit for herself and her son, but it was rejected, for reasons apparently still undisclosed. News outlets do not seem to have been digging into why her original request was rejected. The Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) decided to deport Denis, even though he is living with his maternal grandparents, who have applied to adopt the child.

Denis "has not given probable cause that he will not be suitably taken care of upon [his] return to Ukraine" wrote the migration authority in its decision. They also mystifyingly referred to the decision as being "in the child's best interest".

That the boy is technically an orphan and that his grandparents, with whom he lives in Sweden, have begun adoption proceedings, is not enough to stop the deportation, said Karin Fährlin, unit head at Migrationsverket.

"This is a matter of... a boy who is a Ukrainian citizen, and then it is primarily family, or the father, or Ukrainian authorities who must answer for this child. That's the reason [for the deportation]", she said.

The decision to deport Denis, after it became known to the public in Sweden, caused an enormous scandal. More than 60,000 Swedes signed a protest against the deportation on Facebook and several celebrities and politicians expressed their revulsion over the decision. "His mother just died. He has no father. He is six years old and cannot stay with his grandparents in Sweden but will be deported to a Ukrainian orphanage. This is inhuman and disgusting," wrote one TV personality, Jessica Almenäs.

The pressure from the public evidently became too much. Officials at Migrationsverket temporarily stopped the deportation and admitted that they had made their decision "too quickly".

"There are several investigative measures that we should have taken," said Per Ek, Press Director at Migrationsverket. "That's what we will be working on now".

Wrong decisions are made by state authorities and government agencies all the time; what makes this decision different is that it was made by the migration authorities of Sweden, the Foreign Minister of which claims that the country is a "humanitarian superpower."

A self-proclaimed "humanitarian superpower" is not supposed to take 6-year-olds away from their grandparents and deport them to orphanages in Ukraine. Sweden takes such pride in upholding the "human rights" of all, that it refuses to deport the worst criminals and terrorists if there is the tiniest perceived risk that they might be harmed in the country to which they would be sent.

In contrast to the decision about deporting 6-year old Denis, the Swedish parliament, in June, passed a special law allowing a very large number of rejected asylum seekers to stay in Sweden, despite harsh criticism from the highest government agencies. The new law allowed 9,000 unaccompanied male "minors" from Afghanistan, whose asylum applications were rejected -- and who therefore should have been deported -- to acquire temporary residence permits in Sweden.

Approximately 7,000 of these "unaccompanied child migrants" reportedly turned out to be older than 18 and therefore were not even minors. The temporary permits would be given if the "minors" planned to attend high school or were already enrolled in one. Notably, even those among the 9,000 whose identities were unverified -- presumably, because they had no papers -- were allowed to stay.

So, in spite of sharp criticism from Sweden's highest government agencies, the Swedish government defied Swedish law to allow 9,000 rejected, mainly undocumented, Afghan men to study in high school alongside Swedish adolescents.

Both the police and the Swedish migration courts heavily criticized the legislation: it broke with Swedish law, which requires people who want to stay in Sweden to be able clearly to identify themselves. Lowering this requirement reduces the ability of the Swedish authorities to know who is living in the country.

The Swedish Council on Legislation (Lagrådet), a government agency consisting of current and former Supreme Court justices who deliberate on the legal validity of legislative proposals, reportedly pronounced its harshest critique ever about the measure. It wrote that, "the limit has been reached for what is acceptable in terms of how legislation can be formulated". This verdict, however, did not stop the Swedish parliament from passing the law anyway. Neither did the fact that a majority of Swedes -- 54% -- were against letting the 9,000 Afghans stay. According to the government, the cost to taxpayers of absorbing the 9,000 Afghan "minors" is estimated at more than SEK 2.9 billion (roughly $319 million) over the next three years.

Sweden then determined that a vulnerable 6-year old child who just lost his mother, and who is living with his grandparents and studying in a Swedish preschool must be deported. (At least until public outrage forced it to reexamine its decision.)

Unfortunately, the decision to deport Denis does not even appear to be a one-time error, but rather an indication of what seems a trend in Sweden of favoring certain immigrant groups over others.

As early as 2001, a news report by the newspaper Dagen showed that Christian asylum seekers had their applications rejected in Sweden far more frequently than Muslim asylum seekers. Out of all Christian refugees who had applied for asylum in Sweden in 2000, fewer than half (40%) were granted asylum. In the Muslim group, 75% of all applicants were granted asylum.

After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the persecution of Iraqi Christians by jihadists began to exponentially increase. Nevertheless, Sweden was rejecting and deporting Christian Iraqi asylum seekers back to Iraq in 2009: Of 25 Iraqi Christians whom Sweden deported in 2009, 24 fled from Iraq again, while one hid in Mosul, according to Sveriges Radio.

One Christian couple, who had fled Iraq in 2005 and lived in Sweden for four years, were forcibly deported back to Iraq in 2009. They then fled from Iraq to Turkey. "I loved Sweden and the Swedish people, but I will never forget how inhumanely the people who threw us out treated us. It was like a nightmare. Were they really Swedish?" the couple told Sveriges Radio.

At the time, Sveriges Radio also spoke to Nina Shea from the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, who said that an ethnic cleansing of Christians was ongoing and that it was enough just to be a Christian in Iraq to be considered under persecution. Human rights organizations at the time also said it was not safe to return Christians to Iraq: they were certain to be persecuted for their faith.

None of that, however, stopped the Swedish migration authorities from deporting Christians. The authorities said again that the Christians had "not given probable cause that there is an actual, predictable risk that they would personally be submitted to serious abuse" if they were to return to Iraq.

In 2014, the "humanitarian superpower" was deporting Christian minorities, such as Assyrians, to Iraq, where ISIS had appeared on the scene with its ruthless campaign of ethnic cleansing of all religious minorities with rape, torture, enslavement and murder. However, that did not impress the "humanitarian superpower". In one of several decisions to deport Assyrian Christians to Iraq, the Swedish migration authorities wrote
"Because of IS's [Islamic State's] activities in the North, fighting has decreased in Bagdad. There are, however, terrorist attacks and shootings in Baghdad... The Migration Authority finds that you have not given probable cause that your fear of being seriously abused is justified... You are therefore not seen as... needing protection..."
In July 2017, Swedish migration authorities decided that an Iranian actress, Aideen Strandsson, who had secretly converted to Christianity in Iran before coming to Sweden in 2014 on a work visa, should be deported back to Iran, even though in Iran, she could face prison -- with the accompanying rape and torture common in Iranian prisons -- and, as apostasy in Iran is subject to the death penalty, also possibly death. At Strandsson's hearing, a Swedish migration official reportedly told her it would not be as bad for her in Iran as she expected because it "would only be six months in prison". 

Swedish officials also reportedly told her that converting to Christianity was her decision, so now the consequences of that decision were her problem, not theirs.

Swedish police have a backlog, so mercifully it could take considerable time before Strandsson is deported. As of August 2018, Strandsson still did not know the date of her impending deportation.

There are an estimated 8,000 Christians under deportation orders hiding in Sweden, according to Swedish Attorney Gabriel Donner, who has assisted an estimated 1,000 Christian asylum-seekers facing deportation.

According to Donner, migration officials do not understand why someone would become a Christian:
"This is most apparent when they come to the question when a convert says I converted because of the love I have received from Jesus Christ. And they almost mockingly ask the convert, what do you mean by love? It's just completely alien to them."
Additionally, in January 2018, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) stopped Sweden from deporting a former Muslim, Abdul Malik, to Pakistan. Having arrived in Sweden in 2012 from Baluchistan (a region in Pakistan), he converted to Christianity in 2015, was baptized and worked on Bible translations. Despite all this, the Swedish authorities did not believe that his conversion was genuine and in 2017 decided to deport him. In Pakistan, he was at risk of torture and arrest, not only for his political activities on behalf of Baluchistan, but also for converting to Christianity.

As it turns out, Sweden does not seem to be such a "humanitarian superpower" after all.

Judith Bergman, a columnist, lawyer and political analyst, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.


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