Saturday, May 11, 2019

The Mullah Panic - Michael Ledeen

by Michael Ledeen

Iran gauges that time's up.

The regime in Tehran is panicking, and Israel (or was it a Revolutionary Guards defector?) seems to have told the United States that the Mullahs are preparing to take violent action against Americans in their neighborhood, prompting harsh words from National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, plus real military power, in the form of a carrier group and bombers, sent to the region.

I don’t think the Iranian regime is going to open hostilities against us.  They don’t want to start a fight they would surely lose, and their current strategy is to stall, hoping Trump loses the next presidential election and is replaced by a friendlier Democrat.  The problem with that approach is that the regime might not last that long.  As Shoshanah Bryen surveys the domestic battlefield, she sees a lot of anti-regime action all over the country:
Early protests were registered in 70 towns and cities, with at least 22 people killed and 3,700 arrested in the first three weeks. Protesters chanted, “Reza Shah, bless your soul,” and called for Khomeini to step down, shouting, “Khamenei, shame on you, leave the country alone.”
There were strikes of shopkeepers, whole bazaars in Tehran, Kermanshah, Arak and Tabriz. Economic protests emerged in Karaj, Qeshm, Bandar Abbas, and Mashhad and more. There were strikes by teachers, factory workers, university students, farmers, railway workers, and retirees. Truckers — a mainstay of the rebellion — have been on a rolling series of strikes in various locations for more than a year. They have so irritated the government that the Iranian judiciary announced that truckers face the possibility of the death penalty.
On the political side, workers in Ahvaz marked the 25th day of strikes with the chant, “Palestine and Syria are not our problem.” “Not for Gaza, not for Syria, my life only for Iran.”
Through the summer of 2018, Iranians in various cities protested a shortage of clean drinking water. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s video message to the Iranian people offering Israeli water technology as a gift was vehemently rejected by the Iranian government, but nearly 100,000 Iranians joined the Israeli government’s Farsi-language Telegram account within 24 hours of the video going live.
Moreover, regime security officers are getting shot, whereas in the past only anti-regime protesters were victims.  Khamenei believes that the Islamic Republic will defeat the American infidels in the end, but the true believers are diminishing.  The Supreme Leader may feel it necessary to demonstrate his capacity to thwart Trump, which, as Commander Dyer, is what Tehran is up to by sending its agents into Nicaragua, and from there into our homeland.  As Bryen writes:
At least some of what the Iranians in Venezuela are doing is probably about reposturing in the Americas.  While Maduro still holds a semblance of power is the time to do that: to move people, materiel, assets, before they have to be abandoned.  Iran has a lot invested in Venezuela.  If Maduro is dragged out the door, the Iranian regime doesn’t want to have to execute a disorderly retreat.  It will want to move stuff north (e.g., to Nicaragua, perhaps Cuba), rather than end up scrambling off to the east being chased by torches and pitchforks.
Iran may also double down on hemispheric efforts to hold the U.S. homeland at risk, as a means of lashing out when sanctions bite.  The “Iranians” arriving in Venezuela probably aren’t all actual Iranians.  Syrians and other Middle Easterners recruited by Iran have been ferried into Venezuela for some time now for the purpose of getting through Central America to Mexico and the United States.
And then, needless to say, there are the missiles aimed at Israel, apparently at Iran’s behest.  But this is a fool’s game, driven by desperation.  The Iranian leaders know Hamas can’t defeat Israel, and indeed an impressive number of Iranians want Israel to win, and hope that the Israelis can help with the dreadful water shortages and floods. 

So what we’ve got is panic in Tehran, and the Mullahs are spreading it from the Middle East to Latin America.  Trump famously hates the idea of military conflict with the Iranians, but he may eventually have to act.  The longer he waits, the harder it will be.

Michael Ledeen


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Contemptible Nadler - Joseph Klein

by Joseph Klein

Leads dishonest partisan vote to hold Barr in contempt.

Representative Jerrold Nadler, the New York Democrat who is the House Judiciary Committee chairman, proclaimed, “We are now in a constitutional crisis. Now is the time of testing whether we can keep a republic, or whether this republic is destined to change into a different, more tyrannical form of government. We must resist this." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed with Nadler’s hyperbole, which followed his committee’s partisan vote on Wednesday to recommend that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives hold Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt of Congress. Democrats are livid that Attorney General Barr would not break the law by acceding to their demands. They want to hold him in contempt for not complying with the committee’s subpoena and turning over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report as well as the underlying materials that include secret grand jury information protected by law. President Trump had also  asserted executive privilege to prevent disclosure of the full report and underlying materials to Congress.

Assuming that the full House proceeds to hold Attorney General Barr in contempt, it will have to go to court to enforce the subpoena. Any ensuing litigation can be tied up in the courts for months, if not longer.

Contrary to Nadler’s fear-mongering, shared by Pelosi, the country is not facing a constitutional crisis. Nadler and his fellow Democrats have manufactured their own crisis. More than 90 percent of the Mueller report was released to the public without redactions. The majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate, and chairs and ranking members of select House and Senate committees, including Chairman Nadler and Republican Ranking Member Doug Collins, along with a single staff member each, were offered the opportunity to view even more of an unredacted version of the report, except for grand jury materials. The Democrats declined to do so.

The redacted portions involving grand jury information must remain secret as a matter of law, with few exceptions that would not appear to apply here. Rule 6 (e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure specifically provides that “an attorney for the government,” among other individuals, “must not disclose a matter occurring before the grand jury.” Congress does not have any special constitutional entitlement to require the Justice Department to hand over otherwise-secret grand jury materials without court approval. The Justice Department has long expressed concern – going back more than 30 years prior to Nadler’s spat with Attorney General Barr – regarding separation of powers implications when Congress demands grand jury material. “Independent access by Congress to grand jury materials without the consent of the Department of Justice would seriously endanger grand jury secrecy and thereby weaken the grand jury as an institution,” wrote the then-Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel in a 1985 opinion.

First, Chairman Nadler’s House Judiciary Committee sought to shift the burden to the Justice Department to seek permission from the district court to produce the grand jury materials to the committee. Then Nadler suggested that his committee and the Justice Department work together to obtain such permission. Frustrated that the Justice Department would not do his bidding, he complained in a letter dated May 3, 2019 to Stephen Boyd, Assistant Attorney General, that the Justice Department “remains unwilling to work with the Committee to seek a court order permitting disclosure of materials in the report that are subject to Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e).” The Justice Department has no such legal obligation.

Instead of going to court itself immediately to seek such permission, Nadler’s committee decided to go the purely partisan route and recommend holding Attorney General Barr in contempt for protecting the secrecy of grand jury materials as required by law. House Republicans waited hundreds of days before ultimately deciding to hold former Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress in 2012 for not handing over materials relevant to the “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking congressional investigation. Nadler at that time boasted in a tweet: “Just joined the #walkout of the House chamber to protest the shameful, politically-motivated GOP vote holding AG Holder in contempt.” Now Nadler has hypocritically led his committee to recommend a finding of contempt against Attorney General Barr in far less time than the Republicans took in 2012, while refusing to negotiate in good faith to reach an accommodation with the Justice Department.

“Why this rush?” asked Representative Collins. “Without any valid legislative or administrative reason, we can only assume Democrats, led by the chairman, have resolved to sully Bill Barr’s good name and reputation.”

There are some on the left suggesting that the House of Representatives consider using what has been called its “power of inherent contempt” to order its sergeant at arms to arrest Attorney General Barr for disobeying a lawful order of Congress and detain him if necessary for trial. Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, for example, told a writer for The Atlantic that “we should be aware that Congress has inherent powers of contempt that can relate to fines, orders, as well as arrests.”

Representative Raskin cited a Supreme Court case nearly 200 years old for the proposition that Congress can constitutionally enforce its own orders, including by having its sergeant at arms detain the alleged offender, even if not expressly authorized in the Constitution. The case he cited involved an attempt by an individual to bribe a member of Congress. The Court concluded that if the House of Representatives did not possess the implied power of contempt it would “be exposed to every indignity and interruption, that rudeness, caprice, or even conspiracy, may meditate against it.”

Whether the Supreme Court today would continue to uphold the constitutional validity of Congress’s sweeping assertion of the power of inherent contempt is highly questionable. There is virtually no chance that it would allow Congress to exercise such asserted power against a senior member of the co-equal executive branch of government, who is abiding by the president’s claim of executive privilege and seeking to comply with existing law protecting grand jury secrecy. Just imagine a stand-off between the sergeant at arms and executive branch law enforcement officials if the sergeant at arms attempts to take Attorney General Barr into custody and detain him. Talk about precipitating a constitutional crisis!

Nadler and his cronies have contemptuously sought to paint Attorney General Barr as the archenemy of the rule of law when the attorney general has done all he can to make as much of the Mueller report public as possible without violating the law. They are trying to discredit the attorney general to get at the president and to cast doubt on the results of any Justice Department investigation into how the Russian collusion hoax got started in the first place. It’s time for the Republicans to walk out when Nadler’s contemptible contempt resolution against Attorney General Barr comes to the floor of the House.

Joseph Klein


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'Eyewitness 1948' - The brave US Jews who helped found Israel - Arutz Sheva Staff

by Arutz Sheva Staff

Watch the archives of rare historical footage - the fascinating stories of American Jews who contributed to the founding of Israel.

“Eyewitness 1948: The American Contribution”- a film series produced by Toldot Yisrael tells the stories of the roles of American Jews in the period before the establishment of the State of Israel. The Ruderman Family Foundation is releasing the films to the public for the annual Jewish American Heritage Month. They published 19 videos in honor of Israel's 71st Independence Day on Thursday.

“We want to convey the message that the State of Israel is a collective enterprise of Jews around the world,” said Eric Halivni, Director of Toldot Yisrael. “These short films will help educate Israelis about the unique contribution that American Jews made to Israel's founding and give American Jews a sense of pride that this is their story, too.”

“The individual stories of these American Jews combine to make an unparalleled collective impact,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “The Eyewitness 1948 films bring to life inspirational stories of solidarity, peoplehood, and shared destiny that deserve a broad audience in the American Jewish, Israeli, and other communities.”

Arutz Sheva Staff


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Get Me Rewrite, Or, Who Killed The Palestinian Baby? - Hugh Fitzgerald

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Chalk this tragedy up to not-so-friendly fire

For many days we have read and heard from the world’s media that Israel was responsible for killing a Palestinian baby and a woman first identified as her pregnant mother.

From the very beginning the Israelis categorically denied that they were responsible. Only a few media sources saw fit to include that denial in their reports, always putting it last.

Stories bore the telling headlines: “Israelis Kill 23 Palestinians, including pregnant woman and baby.’

None of the stories noted that Israel has a long record of telling the truth, while the Palestinians have an equally long record of lying. The Israelis insisted that a rocket fired by Islamic Jihad in eastern Gaza fell short and exploded in a nearby house, killing a baby. Few in the media seemed to care..

Now we have an admission supporting Israel’s version. The Islamic Jihad terror group has admitted that a rocket it fired on Saturday evening {May 4] killed a baby in the Gaza Strip, despite initial claims she was killed in an Israeli strike.

“Gazan sources identified the victims as 14-month-old Saba Mahmoud Abu ‘Arar and her pregnant mother Falastin.

The full story is here:
“TPS (Jewish News Agency) has learned that the baby was killed when Islamic Jihad terrorists launched a rocket towards Israel from within a populated area in the east of Gaza City, but the rocket misfired and landed short, exploding in a nearby house and killing the baby.
“The baby’s mother was not killed, but she did have a miscarriage.
“Mahmoud H., a local resident, told TPS about a massive pit he saw inside the house after the rocket’s explosion.
“The rocket was locally produced and may have malfunctioned or exploded prematurely because of the low-grade explosives.
“The Hamas-controlled Gazan Ministry of Health initially announced that Saba’s mother was killed, but then claimed that another woman named Falastin Abu ‘Arar was killed in the explosion. She may be Saba’s aunt.
“A source in Gaza told TPS that Islamic Jihad representatives met with the Abu ‘Arar family on Sunday morning and offered them full compensation and a registry of the baby as a “Shahid” entitled to long-term support in exchange for their silence.
“Arab journalists in Gaza are aware of the facts, but have refrained from reporting on them due to the sensitivity of the situation.
“TPS was successful in capturing Hamas’ report on the Islamic Jihad’s culpability.
“Hamas’ al-Risala News published a news item on the issue in its Telegram account on Sunday afternoon, but removed it shortly after. The item then appeared on another Hamas-lined Telegram channel and quickly disappeared.
The item says: “A leak from the heroes of the [Islamic Jihad’s] Sarayat al-Quds (Jerusalem Brigades) on the circumstances of the death of the baby Saba Abu ‘Arar indicates that a rocket of the resistance exploded inside the family’s home due to a technical failure, and prematurely exploded. There is a claim that the technical failure was caused by low-grade explosives in the rocket.”
“There is no doubt that the baby’s death has nothing to do with the enemy’s (Israel’s) planes,” the report added.
“The IDF stated Sunday afternoon that “Palestinian weapons caused the tragic death of a mother in Gaza and her baby.”
“Hamas blamed Israel. Journalists amplified the lie. Our assessment indicates that the incident had nothing to do with IDF strikes,” it underscored.
How many major media outlets– newspapers, radio, television –will now issue a correction, a full report about what has been admitted by Islamic Jihad and Hamas? The BBC? CBS, NBC, ABC? National Public Radio? The Guardian? The Washington Post? The New York Times? Don’t be silly.

I doubt if a single one of those major outlets will bother to carry the truthful account, the one Israel insisted on all along. They have so many other things to get right. The Mueller Report. Trump’s tax returns. Climate change. Baby-naming at Buckingham Palace. I can hear them now: “Who cares if we get a little something wrong in one more story about Gaza? Besides, the Israelis get away with so much, why should we in the unbiased mainstream media care if once in a great while Israel is wrongly accused?“

But at least you and I now know. Spread the word.

Hugh Fitzgerald


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Facebook accused of auto-generating jihadist propaganda, creating page for al-Qaeda with 4,400 likes - Christine Douglass-Williams

by Christine Douglass-Williams

The obvious unmatched, biggest threat today is jihad terror, yet Facebook does not see fit to put resources into tackling that threat.

Facebook has put enormous efforts into launching  witch-hunts against those who fight for democratic freedoms–like Milo, Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, going so far as to reference them as “dangerous individuals”, right alongside the truly dangerous, violent-minded, anti-semitic, racist nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan who has actually called openly for 10,000 men to murder white policemen, using a Baptist Church platform.

Facebook also banned Tommy Robinson, threatened and suspended the Voice of Europe for criticizing mass migration, and shut down a Danish news outlet for the same reason. The list goes on.

The obvious unmatched, biggest threat today is jihad terror, yet Facebook does not see fit to put resources into tackling that threat.  Facebook has recently allowed a platform to a genocidal anti-Christian Muslim cleric and in fact, consulted with Hamas-linked CAIR over who gets banned from its platforms. Now Facebook stands accused of “automatically generating celebratory jihadist videos and promoting terrorist business pages.”  Cracking down on jihad terror and murder is just not important enough to Facebook higher ups. They would rather torment and damage those who battle against this grave evil. Facebook is in effect continuing to aid and abet jihad terrorists.
A business page generated by Facebook for al-Qaeda received over 4400 “likes” and provided the group with “valuable data” to use when recruiting new followers
“Facebook accused of auto-generating terrorist propaganda, creating page for al-Qaeda”, by Fatima Olumee, 9 News,  May 10, 2019:

Social network Facebook has been accused of automatically generating celebratory jihadist videos and promoting terrorist business pages.

The videos were uncovered by an anonymous whistleblower who filed a complaint with a US regulator, accusing Facebook of misleading investors on its efforts to clean up the platform.

A five-month study of more than 3000 accounts found Facebook’s artificial intelligence algorithms were creating ‘memories’ and video celebrations for active users, including accounts of extremist organisations such as al-Qaeda, white supremacist groups, and self-identified Nazis.

A business page generated by Facebook for al-Qaeda received over 4400 “likes” and provided the group with “valuable data” to use when recruiting new followers, according to the complaint.

Islamic State and al-Qaeda terrorists are also openly networking on Facebook’s website, according to the whistleblower’s research.

The confidential complaint, supported by the US National Whistleblower Centre (NWC)……

Christine Douglass-Williams


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'Pinkwashing' and Israel: How to Work against Your Own Best Interests - Denis MacEoin

by Denis MacEoin

The conundrum of the LGBT-Palestinian alliance

  • A secular government that uses religious law to suppress human rights is a sign of how deeply ingrained homophobia is in Muslim countries, most of them much more conservative than Tunisia.
  • How is it, then, that LGBT people who claim to love the Palestinians and care about their lives, pinning all blame for whatever suffering they undergo on the state of Israel, never say a word about the excesses against gays – and other extreme abuses -- by of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority?
  • More perversely, why is nothing said about Aguda and the work it does to save and protect gay Palestinians?
  • Why are no gay rights activists boycotting any of those lowest-ranking countries or protesting outside their embassies? Why do they choose instead to condemn and act against one of the world's most genuinely progressive and liberal states?

In 2015, Israel ranked number 7 on the first Gay Happiness Index, a survey that measured public opinion, public behaviour, and life satisfaction for gay men in 127 countries. Pictured: The annual LGBT pride march in Tel Aviv, Israel, on June 8, 2018. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Early in April, the British gay newspaper Pink News ran a headline: "LGBT performers to boycott Eurovision in Israel with online broadcast". The broadcast, known as Globalvision, will be part of the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which tries hard to delegitimize Israel economically and politically.

Referring to a letter which activists had written to the pop star Madonna, Pink News reported:
"We feel we must write to you to express our deep concern at the political use of the Eurovision that is being made by Israel this year, and to highlight in particular the issue of 'Pinkwashing,'" the letter said.
The letter said that 'pinkwashing' is a "PR tactic used by Israel which cynically exploits support for LGBTQIA people to whitewash its oppression of the Palestinian people."
The open letter argues that Israel is attempting to ingratiate itself with LGBT+ people in an attempt to distract from its "colonial and apartheid reality."
Before commenting on the situation of Israel, it might help to turn our attention to the conditions of LGBT people in countries that are sworn enemies of Israel, but which no-one swears to boycott, divest from, or sanction.

It is hard to know where to start when it comes to the mistreatment of LGBTQ people, especially male homosexuals, across the Muslim world. It is a scandal that has been little exposed in the mainstream media, although even there it has begun to attract unfavorable comment.

The Iranian case is the worst. According to a Wikileaks report published by Britain's Telegraph newspaper:
"Human rights activists and opponents of the Iranian regime claim between 4,000 and 6,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual preference since 1979."
That report was published in 2011, a full eight years ago. On April 12, 2018, Radio Farda wrote about an Amnesty International report released the same day:
Amnesty International said "more than half (51%) of all recorded executions in 2017 were carried out in Iran."
Iran ranks second in the world after China in terms of executions and has "carried out 84% of the global total number of executions with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan"...
Meanwhile, Mahmoud Amiri Moghaddam, head of the Iran Human Rights Organization in Norway, said in an interview with Radio Farda that some 70 to 80% of executions in Iran are not reported.
Within that overall context, it is impossible to guess just how many Iranian citizens with unorthodox sexual identities have suffered this fate over the 40 years the Islamic regime has governed the country -- ironically a country whose world-famous literature has repeatedly celebrated homoeroticism.

The death penalty for homosexual acts is in the penal codes in other Muslim countries: Afghanistan, Brunei, Mauritania, Nigeria (northern states), Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Not all actually carry out executions, but the same source indicates that in some regions, gays have been murdered by Islamist militias, such as Islamic State in parts of Iraq and Syria and the Houthi movement in Yemen.

At the beginning of April 2019, it was announced that the state of Brunei had called for homosexuals to be stoned to death. A storm of criticism from governments, international bodies, celebrities, and gay rights activists continued over the month, and on May 6, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah placed a moratorium on the new legislation. But that legislation had been based on Islamic law, and not even the Sultan will find it easy to remove the basic decree as Brunei moves further in a hard-line direction, and there seems no way that gay sex will ever be considered legal in the country.

Also in April 2019, it was reported that Saudi Arabia had carried out beheading 37 men, five of whom were gay. Under Saudi law, homosexuality is punishable in several ways, from whipping to life imprisonment to execution. In other words, under the Saudi system LGBT people have no rights whatever.

At the western end of the Muslim world, the North African state of Tunisia underwent significant changes after its 2011 Jasmine Revolution. It shifted almost overnight from a single party regime to a multi-party democracy. Briefly ruled by a moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, in 2014 secular parties edged out the Islamists and all seemed set for further democratic reforms. Since then, however, reforms have slowed down. It might at one point have seemed that Tunisia might become the first Muslim country to backtrack on severe anti-homosexual attitudes and practices. Its government already had a number of organizations promoting human rights for gays and a thriving LGBT community.

Yet at the end of April, it emerged that the government, run by the secular Nidaa Tounes party, is now invoking shari'a law in order to shut down the country's leading gay rights activist organization, Association Shams. Shams has for some years called for the abolition of the dated French article 230 of its penal code. One spokesman for gay rights now says:
Although the LGBT activism scene marks 'a notable post-revolution achievement... we have seen no decrease in article 230 arrests and prosecutions, and there is little indication that parliament is willing to abrogate article 230 in the near future. As of now, article 230 continues to be widely implemented.'
A secular government that uses religious law to suppress human rights is a sign of how deeply ingrained homophobia is in Muslim countries, most of them much more conservative than Tunisia.

If one goes beyond the Islamic world:
72... countries and territories worldwide continue to criminalise same-sex relationships, including 45 in which sexual relationships between women are outlawed.
There are eight countries in which homosexuality can result in a death penalty, and dozens more in which homosexual acts can result in a prison sentence, according to an annual report by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA).
Having said all this, it is time to take another look at the anti-Israel -- but of course no other country -- attempt to boycott the Eurovision Song Contest to be held in Tel Aviv between May 14 and 18. The problem is where to start....

Why not here? In 2015, Israel ranked number 7 on the first Gay Happiness Index, a survey that measured public opinion, public behaviour, and life satisfaction for gay men in 127 countries. The only countries that ranked above Israel were Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Uruguay, and Canada. The Netherlands, another liberal state, came next at 8. The UK came in at 23, the US at 26, Russia at 87, Turkey at 82, Iran at 121, and many African and Muslim states in the 100 to 127 slots.

Before that, Tel Aviv stood out even more internationally. In January 2012, it was announced that:
Tel Aviv has been named the Best Gay City of 2011 in an international American Airlines competition selecting the most popular destinations among LGTB tourists.
The Israeli metropolis won 43% of the votes, leaving New York City behind in the second place with only 14% of the votes.
On February 23, 2016, Israel's parliament introduced the country's Gay Rights Day, making support for LGBT people official. That was really icing on the cake. As in other democracies, LGBT rights took time to develop, but in 1988, in a decision of Israel's Supreme Court, same-sex relations were decriminalized. This was a full 15 years before the US Supreme Court did the same in its 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling.

Much of the groundwork that went into making Israel one of the friendliest places for gays in the world was done by the country's National LGBT Task Force Ha-Aguda, founded in Tel Aviv in 1975 by eleven gay men and one lesbian. Aguda's work in the political and legal realms brought real changes at the highest levels. Its other initiatives cover several other fields, such as social services that provide LGBT people with therapy, social assistance, medicine, healthcare, a helpline, youth projects and support groups. Its pride and community department organizes gay pride events alongside communal gatherings that bring LGBT people into the core of Israeli life by dinners for Passover, Rosh Hashana, and Shabbat.

Aguda is not an afterthought. It is a serious and important part of Israel's diverse society, playing a key role in a small nation that ensures full rights to women, a wide range of Jewish communities and a startlingly broad spectrum of non-Jewish religious minorities. What is often overlooked is that none of those groups is given any rights in those countries that condemn Israel and threaten to wipe it off the face of the earth.

Let us look again at "pinkwashing", the charge that Israel uses its promotion of LGBT rights to cover up its ostensible "crimes" against the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Accusations of "pinkwashing" come from all the usual suspects who seek -- or invent -- pretexts to defame Israel, such as, for instance, Columbia University's Joseph Massad, who has said, "The Jews are not a nation.... The Jewish state is a racist state that does not have a right to exist," and that Jews are responsible for anti-Semitism.

As a result, "pinkwashing" protests and campaigns have become a regular feature for anti-Israel activists, including many gay and lesbian groups. David Kaufman, writing in Time magazine in 2011, summarized the situation:
Although its foundations lie in decades of political struggle, the pink-washing movement has recently kicked into high gear. In June 2010, gay-pride parade organizers in Madrid banned a contingent of Israeli marchers in response to the deadly Gaza flotilla raid weeks earlier. That same month, activists protested the Israeli government's co-sponsorship of San Francisco's Frameline LGBT Film Festival. In March this year, the pro-Palestinian group Palestina protested a conference in Stockholm featuring Israeli LGBT cultural figures.
It is not hard to see how one-sided and perverse this sort of activism is. More than anything, it is rooted in a very real ignorance or acquiescence in the denial of LGBT rights in the Palestinian territories, a denial accompanied by beatings, torture, and killings. With reference to Palestinian treatment, one gay online site quotes Yossi Klein Halevi, writing for New Republic in August 2002:
[He] described the treatment of one gay youth: "He was beaten by his family, then warned by his father that he'd strangle (him) if it ever happened again." Later, "he was arrested ... and forced to stand in sewage water up to his neck, his head covered by a sack filled with feces, and then he was thrown into a dark cell infested with insects and other creatures he could feel but not see."
This is not by any means the worst. Halevi quoted the friend of another victim. "They put him in a pit. It was the fast of Ramadan, and they decided to make him fast the whole month but without any break at night. They denied him food and water until he died in that hole."

How is it, then, that LGBT people who claim to love the Palestinians and care about their lives, pinning all blame for whatever suffering they undergo on the state of Israel, never say a word about the excesses against gays -- and other extreme abuses -- by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority? Would that be rocking too many boats for comfort?

More perversely, why is nothing said about Aguda and the work it does to save and protect gay Palestinians? One of Aguda's many ventures is its Palestine Project:
The Palestinian Project of the Agudah has existed since 2000 in response to the great need of LGBT Arabs and Palestinians. This population is mainly closeted because of the Arab community's traditionally conservative stance on LGBT persons. LGBT Arabs have almost no personal freedom to come out. This means a higher suicide rate, drug abuse and alcoholism. Fear of violence and persecution from their peers, families and community is extraordinarily high.
Palestinian gay men often seek asylum in Israel. But for basic security reasons and the political demand not to favour anything that might trigger calls for a "right to return", it is not easy for the Israeli government to offer full asylum status. However:
That's where Aguda has stepped in by running its 12-year-old SOS project offering social and legal assistance to LGBT Palestinians residing illegally in Israel. Over the years, the organization has dealt with about 800 applications. About 60 began a process toward gaining political asylum abroad but only 17 chose to finish the process, Deutsch said.
More, I am sure, than anything else, the hypocrisy of the anti-Israel far left shows its true colors. The knowing fantasy about "pinkwashing" and Israel's perpetuation of suffering by a people who have clung to their often imaginary agonies sum up the hollowness of anti-Israel groups and their supporters, who demand of Israel behavior they evidently do not even begin to expect of any other country. It is time for a major rethink, not just about Eurovision, but of the moral balance between Israel and its two-faced enemies.

It is worth taking pause here to ask two simple questions. Why are no gay rights activists boycotting any of those lowest-ranking countries or protesting outside their embassies? Why do they choose instead to condemn and act against one of the world's most genuinely progressive and liberal states?

Denis MacEoin, PhD has studied and written about the Middle East for some fifty years. Resident in the UK, he is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at New York's Gatestone Institute.


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Post–Mueller Report Reminder: The Russians Would Have Loved President Hillary Clinton - Chris J. Krisinger

by Chris J. Krisinger

Russia could have achieved its objectives — more easily and at less cost — with the pliable globalist President Hillary Clinton.

Had Daniel Patrick Moynihan been around for today's politics, fellow New York Democratic politician Representative Hakeem Jeffries may well have provided the inspiration for his astute quote: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

During the recent House Judiciary Committee hearing, Representative Jeffries asserted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report showed that Moscow "artificially" placed President Donald Trump in the White House. As the House Democratic Caucus chair, and not said as some off-the-cuff remarks, Jeffries further insisted that "Russia interfered with our elections, attacked our democracy for the sole purpose of artificially placing someone at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue."

Jeffries's contention flies in the face of the Mueller report's clear and unambiguous conclusion: yes, Russia did interfere in the election, but the investigation "did not find that the Trump campaign, or anyone associated with it, conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in these efforts, despite multiple efforts from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign." Jeffries overlooks the fact that two years of intense investigation by a Mueller team of handpicked lawyers — largely Democratic donors and Clinton-supporters — did not return any findings supporting the charge of "collusion" (to the dismay of Democrats.)

Had Congressman Jeffries approached his solemn congressional oversight duties with objectivity, impartiality, and an open mind, the idea of Russia "colluding" with Donald Trump and his campaign — or even Russian support for Donald Trump — would never have made any sense to him.

Congressman Jeffries, like most Americans, must watch enough TV crime dramas to know that their favorite TV sleuths always seek to establish motive for a crime. Motive goes a long way to explain "who done it" and, more importantly, why. With Russia, TV's best would also have been at a loss to make a case against President Trump because there was never a persuasive explanation for collusion comporting with events and information tempered by a dose of perspective. What was Russia's motive, and what did the Russians stand to gain from colluding with Donald Trump?

Russia could have achieved its objectives — more easily and at less cost — with the pliable globalist President Hillary Clinton. In reality, autocrats, dictators, and warlords around the world wanted the more malleable Hillary Clinton instead of the nationalistic and assertive Donald Trump who campaigned on, and then adopted, a more aggressive "America first" leadership approach to defense and foreign policy.

That point is even more compelling, given the Trump administration's more uncompromising U.S. policy vis-à-vis Russia. Russia felt — in the Trump administration's first year alone — consequences of a more assertive United States. In November 2017, the U.S. approved the $10.5-billion sale of Patriot anti-missile systems to NATO ally Poland to counter perceived Russian aggression. In December, the U.S. authorized the transfer of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine to help that nation defend against Russian-backed separatists. U.S. troop presence in Eastern Europe was increased over Obama-era levels to bolster European defenses, while the U.S. imposed monetary sanctions targeting individual Russian actors and companies (rather than punishing that nation's sovereign debt.)

Further, the Trump administration persisted in convincing U.S. NATO allies to increase defense spending. In even more direct confrontations, Russian mercenaries and other pro-Syrian regime forces attacking U.S. troops in Syria were killed, while U.S. opposition to Russian president Putin's largest geo-economic project, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe, threatens to pinch billions of dollars in revenue from an energy-dependent Russian economy.

Instead, Russia would fondly remember President Obama's secretary of state. Her inane "reset button" set the tone. Mr. Putin had surveyed the Hillary Clinton of Benghazi infamy and noted the facilitation of the transfer of large uranium assets to Russia. The U.S. obliged the Kremlin by removing missile defense systems from Central Europe and never did more than complain about Crimea's annexation. The Obama administration's fuzzy line-in-the-sand indecisiveness over Syrian chemical weapons made way for Russia's effective military intervention in Syria. President Putin surely approved of Mr. Obama's concessions to Iran on the nuclear deal, and it was President Obama who notably told former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that Vladimir Putin should give him more "space" because after his election he would "have more flexibility." He had, in essence, passed out samples of what a Clinton administration would allow.

In Hillary Clinton, Russia saw a candidate more interested in globalists' demands from Paris, Katowice, and Davos than tough issues like global proxy wars, Russian revanchism, nuclear proliferation, and NATO solidarity. Given the world's pre-election political and media consensus, a Clinton victory was almost assuredly a given inside the Kremlin. Albeit speculative, Vladimir Putin was probably just as surprised as CNN to wake up that November Wednesday morning in 2016 to learn the "impossible" had materialized.

Did Russia interfere in the 2016 election by other means? That answer is assuredly "yes," but there was no organized scheme of coordination, conspiracy, or "collusion" with the Trump campaign. It wasn't necessary and would pay no dividends. Clinton was Russia's preferred candidate.

So why would Russia interfere? Quite simply, to sow (more) discord and acrimony among the political parties and voters to undermine American government, society, and leadership. After the Trump victory, the Russian agitprop apparatus shifted to organizing anti-Trump demonstrations that American media all too obligingly covered. For all that, Kremlin actors likely exchanged high fives and fist bumps for their handiwork's amplified effects. You can bet they'll be back with more meddling in 2020.

All 400-plus pages of the Mueller report — redacted or not — are now a historical document. The more important question now is, whom does Russia — and whom do other global bad actors — wish to see in the White House come 2020? Whom would Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping prefer to face in a stare-down with the stakes higher and the objectives being the Baltics, Central Asia, or the South China Sea? Which candidate does Iran or North Korea prefer to see in the White House? If our 2016 experience is prologue, such actors will both overtly and covertly default to the Democratic candidate.

U.S. competitors and adversaries want to see us fiscally exhaust ourselves on social programs instead of defense and security. They hope we are more interested in Davos, Paris, and climate change than Russian adventurism. They seek the further breakdown of societal mores and law and order and will take pleasure in watching Americans further divided by identity politics, bathroom protocols, and political animus.

One last, but not small, point for Congressman Jeffries and others. With Russian (and likely other) interference in the 2016 presidential election, one person was ultimately responsible for this nation's defense and security as "commander-in-chief." That was Barack Obama. With the known determined organized foreign interference, he ultimately failed in oath-sworn responsibilities to keep the nation's democratic processes secure and free from that interference.

In any thorough and continued forensic untangling of relevant events, shouldn't Americans know more about what all really happened? For the future, if we can acknowledge it in objective, impartial, and even bipartisan ways, our national security apparatus can be more and better prepared to combat, and maybe prevent, any new foreign interference during the 2020 campaigns, election, and beyond.

Chris J. Krisinger (colonel, USAF ret.) served in policy advisory positions for both the Pentagon and the State Department. He was a National Defense Fellow at Harvard University.


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Fake News: The Post-Trump Economic 'Disaster' - Larry Elder

by Larry Elder

The unsung post-Obama economic boom.

Many "experts" expected, predicted and warned of instant economic disaster under a Donald Trump presidency. But a funny thing happened on our way to economic oblivion. The economy took off.

Former President Barack Obama presided over the worst economic recovery since 1949. He became the first president to preside over a recovery without at least one year of gross domestic product growth at 3% or better. Last year, under President Trump, the economy hit 3% GDP growth. And despite the predictions of an economic slowdown at the beginning of this year, the economy, according to the advance estimate by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, showed a healthy 3.2% GDP growth the first quarter.

Economist Paul Krugman, with his column in The New York Times and appearances on cable, is one of the nation's most widely read and influential economists. How wrong was Krugman? He predicted Trump would cause a "recession." Just hours after the 2016 presidential election, he called Trump "the mother of all adverse effects." Krugman wrote:

"The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear.

"Still, I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.

"Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world's most important economy would be very bad news. What makes it especially bad right now, however, is the fundamentally fragile state much of the world is still in. ...

"Now comes the mother of all adverse effects — and what it brings with it is a regime that will be ignorant of economic policy and hostile to any effort to make it work. ...

"So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight. I suppose we could get lucky somehow. But on economics, as on everything else, a terrible thing has just happened."

Filmmaker Michael Moore, one of the few to predict a Trump victory, nevertheless predicted post-election economic doom and gloom. Weeks before the 2016 election, Moore said, "So when the rightfully angry people of Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania and Wisconsin find out after a few months in office that President Trump wasn't going to do a damn thing for them, it will be too late to do anything about it." In August 2017, Moore said: "I have no stocks. I advise people not to invest in the stock market, not now. Way too dangerous."

The NASDAQ recently hit a new high, and the Dow Jones is close to one. Not going to do "a damn thing for them"? Consumer confidence polls show a level of economic optimism not seen in years. A February 2019 Gallup poll, for example, found that 69% of Americans expect their personal finances to be even better "at this time next year." How impressive is this level of optimism? Gallup's Jim Norman wrote:

"The 69% saying they expect to be better off is only two percentage points below the all-time high of 71%, recorded in March 1998 at a time when the nation's economic boom was producing strong economic growth combined with the lowest inflation and unemployment rates in decades. ...

"Fifty percent say they are better off today than they were a year ago. That 50% still represents a post-recession milestone — the first time since 2007 that at least half of the public has said they are financially better off than a year ago.

"Ten years ago, as the Great Recession neared its end, the percentage saying their finances had improved from the previous year was at a record low of 23%. More than half the public, 54%, said they were worse off. Now, with unemployment below 1998 levels and the job market growing steadily, the number saying they are worse off than a year ago has dropped to 26%, the lowest level since October 2000."

Then there's Steve Rattner, an MSNBC economic analyst and money manager who served as then-President Obama's "car czar." In October 2016, Rattner said: "I have never seen an election in which the markets had so strong a view as to what was good and bad about the outcome. And what you saw was the markets rallying yesterday because of the FBI thing on Sunday. And the reason I mention this particularly is if the unlikely event happens and Trump wins, you will see a market crash of historic proportions, I think. ... (The markets) are terrified of him."

Will someone please tell Paul Krugman and his fellow doomsdayers they can crawl out from under their beds?

Larry Elder


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Fired CNN contributor raising funds for anti-Israel Palestinian pastor in Chicago - Hesham Shehab

by Hesham Shehab

Marc Lamont Hill, fired for expressing his desire at the U.N. to destroy Israel, has a new gig.

Marc Lamont Hill, the recently fired CNN contributor, will be the keynote speaker for a Christian Palestinian non-profit organization that promotes anti-Israel propaganda in churches in the West.

Hill's termination at CNN followed a speech at the United Nations, where he used the anti-Israel eliminationist rhetoric "from the river to the sea." He will be the keynote speaker at Bright Stars of Bethlehem (BSB)'s 15th Anniversary Gala in Chicago on September 29.

BSB was founded in 2004 by the Palestinian pastor Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, who promotes anti-Israel views and seeks to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish state. In addition, Raheb plays a leading role in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in Christian communities in the United States.

BDS is a global campaign promoting various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets what the campaign describes as Israel's "obligations under international law." The campaign is organized and coordinated by the Palestinian BDS National Committee under the guise of human rights in order to delegitimize and destroy Israel.

Raheb carries out campaigns in Christian communities with the aim of depicting the State of Israel as an apartheid state. He says Israel "has now assumed the role of Pharaoh" and calls for an end to American aid to Israel.

In the wake of the fighting that erupted between Israel and Hamas on May 4 and 5, Raheb posted on his Facebook page a prayer request only for Gaza, ignoring the suffering of innocent Israeli citizens under the barrage of hundreds of rockets launched by Hamas from the Strip.

Daniel Swindell described the duplicity of Raheb: "In 2017, two Druze-Israeli policemen were shot to death near the entrance to the Al-Aqsa Mosque. In response, Israel attempted to install some new metal detectors[.] ... However, the Palestinians held protests against the installations of these metal detectors. Raheb joined in these protests ... and declared that his visit to Al Aqsa was an 'unforgettable night ... demonstrating ... Christian-Muslim unity as a tool of creative resistance.'"

Raheb promotes an upside-down worldview that condemns a democratic nation for protecting its citizens and sympathizes with the Islamic terrorist theocracy in Gaza and the kleptocratic Palestinian Authority that seek to destroy its neighbor.

In an attempt to rewrite the history of Christianity and erase every memory of the Jewish people, Raheb ignores the Jewish roots of Christianity and emphasizes anachronistic historical narratives that could portray Jesus Christ as Palestinian.

In a YouTube video, Raheb summed up the pro-Palestinian Christian narrative that works for his benefit in the West Bank, where Christians are a minority in a sea of Muslims.

In that video, Raheb tried to obliterate the historical Jewish bond to the land of Israel and ignored the Old Testament's detailed narratives. He asserted in that video: "Unfortunately, Palestine has been occupied for most of the time. Remember, the first people to occupy Palestine were the Assyrians — 722, then we had the Babylonians — 587, then the Persian came, 538, all of this is B.C. — OK? Then the Greeks, then the Romans, then the Byzantines, then the Arabs, then the Crusaders, then a few others, then the Ottomans, then the British...and then Israel."

The most troubling part of Raheb's revisionism of the Jewish roots of Christianity is that such Christian Palestinian leaders bring this message to so many American churches — without ever being confronted by the leaders of these Christian congregations.

Meanwhile, Christians in the West Bank and Gaza are annihilated. Michael Oren, former U.S. ambassador to Israel, summed up this tragic reality in his Wall Street Journal article in 2012. He wrote that since the Hamas takeover of Gaza in 2007, half of the Christian community has fled. Christmas decorations and public displays of crucifixes are forbidden.

In addition, the West Bank is hemorrhaging Christians. Once 15% of the population, they now make up less than 2%.

Dexter Van Zile notes, "Because of his [Raheb's] ties and utility to the Palestinian Authority, Raheb has been able to build something of an empire [a college and two NGOs] in the West Bank," often described "the third largest private employer in Bethlehem."

Van Zile adds, "Like all empires, Raheb's promotes a story that legitimizes its existence to itself and to its core constituents, which in this case are proponents of Israel's destruction in Palestinian society and anti-Zionist activists in North America and Europe."

Hence, Raheb, in order to maintain his empire in the West Bank, needs the support of "Israel haters in Palestinian society" and the support of "Israel haters in the West" who "provide him with the funds he needs to maintain his empire financially," Van Zile concludes.

Therefore, Raheb is using Marc Lamont Hill in order to raise funds for his institutions, and the Left is using him to justify its anti-Israeli narrative.

Chicago-area Christian leaders should be aware of the false narrative of Palestinian Christian leaders like Raheb and their manipulative tactics for promoting BDS as well as fleecing Western churches.

Image: Hannity via YouTube.

Hesham Shehab is the Illinois Associate of the Counter Islamist Grid.


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