Friday, November 15, 2019

Europe Backs Iranian Nuclear Breakout - Majid Rafizadeh


by Majid Rafizadeh

The international community, particularly European nations, must take urgent steps to counter Iran-backed international terrorism and prevent it from becoming a nuclear state.

  • Tehran shelters members of the terrorist group Al Qaeda, and it is reportedly continuing to facilitate the group's operations.
  • Now imagine if this rogue state obtains nuclear weapons, what kind of destruction could it inflict on the world?
  • The international community, particularly European nations, must take urgent steps to counter Iran-backed international terrorism and prevent it from becoming a nuclear state.

Iran continues to smuggle weapons and provide military, financial, intelligence and advisory assistance to proxies throughout the Middle East, such as the Houthis, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite militias, Kata'ib Hizballah, and Hamas. Pictured: Lebanese Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah visits Iran's "Supreme Leader" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Image source: khamenei.ir)

When the US State Department released its annual Country Reports on Terrorism on November 1, 2019, four countries -- North Korea, Sudan, Iran, and Tehran's staunch ally, Syria -- were listed as state sponsors of terrorism. The annual report describes the theocratic establishment of Iran as "the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism" in 2018.

How, in 2018, did the Iranian government receive the title "the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism"? The criteria by which it is determined if a country should be listed as a state sponsor of terrorism are based on whether that state has constantly provided support for acts of terrorism.

In the region, Iran has continued to smuggle weapons and provide military, financial, intelligence and advisory assistance to proxies such as the Houthis, Hezbollah, Iraqi Shiite militias, Kata'ib Hizballah, Hamas and other designated Palestinian terrorist groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC).

Tehran has spent roughly one billion dollars per year to arm and train these militant groups, which serve Iran's interests. This sum has contributed to a greater capability for Houthi rocket launches at civilian targets in Saudi Arabia, the deployment of thousands of Hezbollah foot-soldiers in Syria, and the regular bombardment of southern Israel with Hamas rockets bankrolled by Iran.

The report indicates that in 2018:
"These Palestinian terrorist groups [Palestinian Islamic Jihad and PFLP-GC] were behind numerous deadly attacks originating in Gaza and the West Bank, including attacks against Israeli civilians in the Sinai Peninsula."
While Iranian leaders often attempt to deny any involvement in arming or training militia groups, the leader of one of these terror groups, Hassan Nasrallah openly admitted in 2016:
"We are open about the fact that Hezbollah's budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran... As long as Iran has money, we have money... Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it."
Iran also went a step further in 2018 by providing technology to its proxies in order to enable them manufacture advanced weapons and missiles at home. The State Department report states:
"Israeli security officials and politicians expressed concerns that Iran was supplying Hizballah with advanced weapons systems and technologies, as well as assisting the group in creating infrastructure that would permit it to indigenously produce rockets and missiles to threaten Israel from Lebanon and Syria."
The Iranian government has, in addition, sponsored Shiite militant groups in Bahrain. The State Department blacklisted the Bahraini Shiite militant group, Al-Ashtar Brigades, because of its ties to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). In Iraq, Iran's Shiite militia groups have also committed unspeakable crimes against humanity.

Iran's terrorist plotting has been seen beyond the Middle East, particularly in Europe. In January 2018, German authorities discovered 10 individuals linked to the IRGC who were alleged to have been spying on Israeli citizens.

European officials also foiled a terrorist attack that in June 2018 targeted a large "Free Iran" convention in Paris, attended by many high-level speakers such as former US House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. An Iranian diplomat and several other individuals of Iranian origin were arrested in France, Belgium and Germany. After a thorough investigation, French officials concluded that the Iranian regime had been behind the bomb plot.

Iran's attacks were also evident in 2018 in Denmark, where officials accused Tehran of attempting to assassinate one of its citizens. Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen emphasized the seriousness of the plot:
"An Iranian intelligence agency has planned an assassination on Danish soil. This is completely unacceptable. In fact, the gravity of the matter is difficult to describe. That has been made crystal clear to the Iranian ambassador in Copenhagen today."
In Albania, two Iranian authorities were expelled from the country for plotting terrorist attacks in 2018.

The Iranian government was also behind major cyber attacks against foreign governments and private companies.

Finally, Tehran shelters members of the terrorist group Al Qaeda, and it is reportedly continuing to facilitate the group's operations.

Iran is indeed the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism, due to the government-backed terrorism in the region and beyond. Now imagine if this rogue state obtains nuclear weapons, what kind of destruction could it inflict on the world? The international community, particularly European nations, must take tangible steps to counter Iran-backed international terrorism and prevent it from becoming a nuclear state.


  • Follow Majid Rafizadeh on Twitter
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/15149/europe-iran-nuclear-breakout

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European Court’s interpretation of international law in Psagot labeling case seriously flawed - Andrew Tucker & Pieter Hoogendoorn


by Andrew Tucker & Pieter Hoogendoorn

Hat tip: Dr.Jean-Charles Bensoussan


This case is yet another example of how law has become politicized.




Dear friends,

Greetings from The Hague, we hope this special Newsletter finds you in good health. The European Court of Justice issued on Tuesday 12th November its much-anticipated judgment in the Psagot Winery Case, concerning the question how products imported into Europe from the “occupied Palestinian territories” should be labeled. A legal analysis of the judgment shows that this judgment is seriously flawed. This case is yet another example of how law has become politicized.

The European Court’s judgment

The Court ruled that, in order to ensure that European consumers are not misled about the provenance of imported products, “foodstuffs originating in a territory occupied by the State of Israel must bear not only the indication of that territory but also, where those foodstuffs come from a locality or a group of localities constituting an Israeli settlement within that territory, the indication of that provenance.”

There are many reasons why this judgment is problematic, including the fact that it picks out one specific case of “occupation” in the world and subjects it to condemnation. That is not only unfair, it is a breach of Israel’s right to be treated equally.

But there are two other aspects of the Court’s judgment that are, in our view, of concern, and which we address in this article:

First, the court endorses official EU policy that all territories outside the “1967 lines” are “occupied” and therefore by definition cannot belong to territory of Israel.

Second, the Court re-states the oft-heard assertion that all “Israeli settlements” in those territories infringe international law.

These legal conclusions reflect an incomplete, imbalanced and distorted view of the history of these territories, as well as a fundamental misinterpretation of the law of occupation.

The “occupied” territories are not part of the territory of Israel
 
The Court reasons that “under the rules of international humanitarian law, these territories are subject to a limited jurisdiction of the State of Israel, as an occupying power, while each has its own international status distinct from that of that State.” Further, citing the International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion in the Wall Case (2004), the Court states that “the West Bank is a territory whose people, namely the Palestinian people, enjoy the right to self-determination.” All of this means, according to the Court, that these territories are not “in Israel”, and therefore products originating from these territories may not bear the label “made in Israel”.


These statements are astounding in their incompleteness and inaccuracy.

First, it is highly questionable whether all of these territories are “occupied” within the meaning of the law of occupation. The arguments that are consistently made by Israel and others that the territories captured by Israel in June 1967 are not necessarily “occupied” are not even addressed by the Court.


But, secondly, and perhaps more importantly, even if they are “occupied” within the meaning of the law of belligerent occupation, this does not necessarily mean they cannot be part of the State of Israel. The law of occupation does not determine the territorial sovereign status of the territory. The law of occupation simply imposes certain obligations and prohibitions on the occupying power, which are to be respected pending the finalization of a peace treaty to resolve the dispute. In other words, it is quite possible under international law for territory to be both “occupied” and “disputed”. Both Israel and the Palestinians make claims to these territories. It is not up the European Court of Justice to make a determination on this.


The fact is that there are very strong arguments that some, if not all, the territories captured in 1967 already belonged to the territory of Israel, based on the Mandate for Palestine (1922), and the Oslo Accords (1993-1995). In brief: the State of Israel emerged in May 1948 as a result of the Mandate for Palestine (1922), the core purpose of which was the creation of a ‘Jewish homeland in Palestine’. The Mandate conferred on the Jewish people the right to settle in the territory of Palestine – which included all territory west and some of the territory east of the Jordan River. It was undoubtedly intended that Jews should have a right to live in what is now known as East Jerusalem and the West Bank. After termination of the Mandate, and pending the establishment of a Trusteeship (which, in the case of Palestine, never happened), Article 80 of the UN Charter expressly preserved the pre-existing rights of the Jewish people under the Mandate.


When Israel was created on 14th May 1948, upon the termination of the Mandate, its borders were arguably – on the basis of the principle of uti possidetis juris – the pre-existing administrative boundaries under the Mandate - in accordance with the same principle that has determined the borders of all other States emerging out of Mandates – such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – as well as many other states in the world.


Jordan (with other Arab states) attacked the infant State of Israel on 15th May 1948, resulting in Jordan’s control of East Jerusalem and the West Bank until 1967. This attack was clearly illegal and could not have resulted in Jordan acquiring any territorial sovereignty over these territories. So when, in effect, Jordan ‘abandoned’ its claims to East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the late 1980’s in favor of the Palestinians, it could not confer on the Palestinians more rights than it itself possessed.


Further, it is simply not true that the Palestinian people have a “right” to self-determination in all of the territories captured by Israel in 1967. On the contrary, international law requires that the right to self-determination cannot infringe the territorial integrity or security of neighboring states. The territorial scope of their right to self-determination is precisely one of the topics of negotiation under the Oslo agreements. In the Oslo Accords, the PLO itself agreed to a process for achieving self-determination, in which it agreed (Article V, Oslo I) that issues like borders, settlements and Jerusalem would be the subject of permanent status negotiations. In other words, the parties themselves agreed that the status of these territories is under negotiation, and at least some of these territories could in fact be part of the territory of the State of Israel.

To conclude on this point: not only is the Court’s reasoning deficient, it simply has no jurisdiction to make a determination that these territories do not belong to Israel. The most it should have done is conclude that the status of the territories is disputed. The judgment interferes with difficult and complex matters of negotiation between two parties (Israel and the PLO).

Israeli settlements are illegal

 
According to the court, any product that “comes from an Israeli settlement located in one of those territories” must indicate that fact. This is because “the settlements established in some of the territories occupied by the State of Israel are characterized by the fact that they give concrete expression to a policy of population transfer conducted by that State outside its territory, in violation of the rules of general international humanitarian law.”
Here again, the Court’s reasoning is open to criticism.

First, there are good arguments that these territories are not “occupied” within the meaning of the law of belligerent occupation. One of these is that the law of occupation only applies when there is another state claiming sovereignty over these territories. In the case of the “occupied Palestinian territories”, there is simply no other state that has a legitimate claim to the territories.


But even if the territories were “occupied” (as most people seem to think), the Court makes a further error by suggesting that all Israeli settlements in these territories are illegal. This cannot be correct, first because under the law of belligerent occupation, it is only an Israeli policy to ‘transfer or deport’ Israeli civilians into those territories that could be said to be illegal (article 49(6) Fourth Geneva Convention).


But second, because a particular settlement can only be regarded as the product of such a policy if it can be shown that the Israeli person or company concerned is living/working/residing in the occupied territory as a result of an Israeli policy to transfer or deport that person into the occupied territories. The fact is that many Israeli’s living in these territories are doing so voluntarily. Israel did not compel anybody to establish wineries in Judea or Samaria. At best, the government allowed the wineries to be established. The mere granting of government approval can hardly be regarded as ‘deportation’ or ‘transfer’ and thus is not sufficient to bring the government’s actions within the purview of Article 49(6).

We would argue that, notwithstanding this judgment, EU law cannot require an importer of products originating in Israeli settlements in the West Bank to label that product as such, unless it can be shown that the producer has been forced by the Israeli government to establish the production company in those territories.

Conclusion 

 
This reasoning in this judgment is seriously flawed. However, the Court’s judgment is final and binding; it is not possible to appeal the judgment. Thus this flawed line of reasoning is likely to become accepted as definitive. In this way, the case is yet another example of how law has become politicized.


Please, visit our website for an online version of this analysis and a lot more information about our work and the legal aspects of the Israel-Palestine dispute.

Warm regards,

Andrew Tucker - Director
Pieter Hoogendoorn - Secretary & Treasurer



Andrew Tucker & Pieter Hoogendoorn

Source: https://mailchi.mp/d43e56be7879/ecj-ruling-over-psagot-labeling-case?e=19c421fc68

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Israel Faces Unprecedented Security Threats - Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen


by Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

In the words of David Ben-Gurion: “The experts are experts about what was, not about what will be.”





BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,343, November 14, 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The unprecedented convergence of strategic threats now taking shape under Iran’s inspiration and guidance requires the IDF to adopt a new operational approach without delay (including a reorganization and a suitable buildup) and the Israeli public to prepare for the emergency situations attending these new emergent threats. 

PM Benjamin Netanyahu recently warned of new threats that necessitate immediate emergency measures, and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi has made similar warnings. Yet some claim this is fear-mongering for political purposes.

True, none of these threats are new—but their unprecedented convergence under Iran’s inspiration and guidance has created a new strategic system that renders the outbreak of war on several fronts simultaneously a realistic scenario.

Security and political advisers, hampered by a lack of imagination, have not infrequently failed to identify strategic and political processes and to anticipate the future. In the words of David Ben-Gurion: “The experts are experts about what was, not about what will be.”

The weakening of American dominance in the Middle East has many far-reaching implications—above all, an increased risk of war without the restraining superpower influence at hand to help bring it to a close. This reality does not stem solely from the change in the White House’s Middle East policy. It is also relates to major changes that have occurred on the battlefield, such as the emergence of widely dispersed, sophisticated, easily available weaponry, which has seriously dented American military superiority.

Recent US Defense Department publications reflect a keen awareness of the implications of this phenomenon, especially the availability of advanced military technologies and hardware to civilian and state actors, including Iran. Thus, for example, in the Iranian attack on the Saudi oil facilities, cruise missiles and drones were guided by sophisticated information-processing technologies that enabled them to fly under the radar and score accurate hits. Tehran-backed Houthi rebels have been using drones and cruise missiles for quite some time, and they are even being constructed in Yemen under Iranian tutelage. This new balance of forces augments Tehran’s influence in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, and jeopardizes Jordan’s stability.

A further aspect of the systemic change is the military strengthening of Hezbollah and Hamas—terror organizations that were long ago essentially  transformed into regular military forces. These “terror armies,” as Chief of Staff Kochavi calls them, are structured into battalions and brigades and are endowed with formidable firepower and intelligence capabilities as well as advanced command and control systems. Under Iranian direction and guidance, these groups also possess sophisticated weapons systems such as drones, rockets, and missiles, the accuracy of which continues to improve.

In time of war, these developments will pose serious challenges to Israel when it comes to protecting the country’s civilian population and infrastructure. In a recent article, Maj. Gen. Tamir Yadai, head of Home Front Command, set forth the elements of the new challenge. He said, “Even though the directions of change in the threat to the home front are known to all in the Home Front Command and in the IDF, the aggregate nature of the emergent threat is undefined as yet.” Among the aspects that form the new threat, he numbered not only a far-ranging fire offensive aimed at paralyzing the Israeli home front—with heavy civilian casualties and strikes on national infrastructure—but also the developing efforts of Hezbollah and Hamas to take the war into Israeli territory with extensive ground attacks.

The convergence of these threats, which can emerge all at once in coordinated synchronization, changes the threat equation to one fundamentally different from that of the past: quantitative change becomes a qualitative change that mandates a new, suitable reorganization. The IDF’s current order of battle, both in the standing and reserve forces, is insufficient for an all-out multi-front war and cannot provide an adequate response to all the threats combined.

This is an edited version of an article published in Israel Hayom on November 8.


Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen is a senior research fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He served in the IDF for 42 years. He commanded troops in battles with Egypt and Syria. He was formerly a corps commander and commander of the IDF Military Colleges.

Source: https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/israel-security-threats/

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Europe: The New Political Weapon of 'Islamophobia' - Alain Destexhe


by Alain Destexhe

The word "Islamophobia" deliberately intends to transform the critique of a religion -- a fundamental right in Western societies -- into a crime.

  • The objective of using the word "Islamophobia" appears to have been to make Islam untouchable by placing any criticism of it as equivalent to racism or anti-Semitism.
  • The word "Islamophobia" deliberately intends to transform the critique of a religion -- a fundamental right in Western societies -- into a crime.
  • "The term 'Islamophobia' serves several functions....Above all, however, the term is intended to silence Muslims who question the Koran, who demand equality of the sexes, who claim the right to renounce their religion, and who want to practice their faith freely and without submitting to the dictates of the bearded and dogmatic." – Pascal Bruckner, in his book, Un racisme ordinaire : Islamophobie et culpabilité, Grasset, 2017 [English version: An Imaginary Racism: Islamophbia and Guilt, Polity 2018]
  • It is not Muslims people "hate," any more than they hate Hindus or Buddhists or Shintos. It is the violence and coercion that some adopt -- what is known as jihad or holy war -- that people reject.
  • In the attacks at the Bataclan Theater and other sites in 2015, terrorists murdered 131 persons and wounded 413. Is it irrational to remember who was calling those shots?

As noted by the journalist Stéphane Charbonnier, murdered in the Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015, Islamophobia "is not only a poorly chosen word but also a dangerous one." (Image source: Arzu Çakır/VOA/Wikimedia Commons)

France is once again profoundly divided over Islam. Last Sunday, November 10, a "March against Islamophobia" was held in Paris in response to an appeal from 50 public figures. In an op-ed in the leftist newspaper Libération, the demonstrators pleaded to "stop Islamophobia and stop the growing stigmatization of Muslims, victims of discrimination and aggression".

Two recent incidents ignited the public debate and served as a pretext for the march. On October 26, an 84-year-old man shot and injured two men while trying to set fire to the mosque of Bayonne. Earlier in October, in the Regional Assembly of Burgundy, a member of the National Rally party (RN) complained about the presence in the gallery of a woman wearing an Islamic headscarf. The French political class and media condemned both incidents almost unanimously.

Among the signatories of the op-ed are Jean-Luc Mélenchon, president of La France Insoumise ("Unsubmissive France"), the most prominent leftist political party in the French National Assembly; Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party candidate in the last presidential election; Philippe Martinez, leader of the Communist trade-union General Confederation of Labor (CGT); Yannick Jadot, a prominent Member of European Parliament from the Green party and Edwy Plenel, editor of Mediapart, a successful online media news platform and former editor of the newspaper Le Monde.

The op-ed sparked a national debate. How could these established public figures sign a text alongside known Islamist sympathizers, such as Nader Abou Anas, an imam who believes that "women can only go out with the permission of their husband", or Marwan Muhammad, the former CEO of the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) -- an organization suspected of links with the Muslim Brotherhood -- who compared the situation of Muslims in France today with those of the Jews in Germany in the 1930s, going so far as to add that "in France, mosques are machine-gunned" ("mitraillé")?

The debate was particularly tense within the Left. Historically, the Left in France was always a powerful advocate of secularism ("laïcité" in French; a strong separation between church and state). However, a portion of the Left now chooses to support multiculturalism and so-called "identity politics" and to ally itself with Islamists whose agenda opposes having a secular state. The alliance between the traditional Left and Islamists is often described as "Islamo-gauchisme" ("Islamo-leftism"). The controversy became so great that some of the signatories even decided to abstain from participating in the demonstration.

The choice of the word "Islamophobia" as the central rallying call was, of course, not neutral. As noted by the journalist Stéphane Charbonnier, murdered in the Charlie Hebdo attack in 2015, in his posthumous book[1], Islamophobia "is not only a poorly chosen word but also a dangerous one."

Historically, the word Islamophobia -- coined in the 1910s by a French colonial administrator[2] -- was rarely used until the 1990s. After Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, particularly after Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa against Salman Rushdie following the publication of The Satanic Verses, the term became used as a political weapon.[3] The objective appears to have been to make Islam untouchable by placing any criticism of it as equivalent to racism or anti-Semitism.

The word "Islamophobia" deliberately intends to transform the critique of a religion -- a fundamental right in Western societies -- into a crime.

Pascal Bruckner, a French philosopher, suggested the role played by the concept. According to him:
"The term 'Islamophobia' serves several functions. It denies the reality of an Islamic offensive in Europe all the better to justify it. It attacks secularism by equating it with fundamentalism. Above all, however, the term is intended to silence Muslims who question the Koran, who demand equality of the sexes, who claim the right to renounce their religion, and who want to practice their faith freely and without submitting to the dictates of the bearded and dogmatic."[4]
Unfortunately, many media outlets and human rights groups fell directly into the trap and often use the word "Islamophobia" despite its lack of any legal basis or precise definition. Every time the word is used, it is a small victory for the Islamists.

A phobia is an extreme irrational fear or an aversion to something. Why, however, is it irrational to be afraid of Islam when terrorists murder, and call for murder, in the name of their God? -- even if the perpetrators are but a small minority among Muslims. Forty years ago, who could have imagined that terrorist attacks could be perpetrated in the United States or Europe in the name of a religion? In this context, being "Islamophobic" (being afraid of a religion) is not a crime. And it is light years' different from "hating" Muslims "for being Muslims". It is not Muslims people "hate," any more than they hate Hindus or Buddhists or Shintos. It is the violence and coercion that some adopt -- what is known as jihad or holy war -- that people reject.

The signatories were also severely criticized for their bias regarding the facts. Muslims are not targeted in France. According to the official records of the French government, last year, with 100 incidents, anti-Muslim acts were actually at their lowest level since 2010.

By comparison, after two years of decline, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in 2018 rose sharply: 541 compared to 311 in 2017 -- an increase of 74%. Eighty-one of the incidents included violence, attempted homicide, or homicide. The number of recorded anti-Christian incidents reached 1063, ten times more than anti-Muslim ones.

The demonstration "against Islamophobia," which drew 13,500 persons, took place on November 10, three days before the commemoration of the massive jihadi attacks in Paris in 2015 at the Bataclan Theater and other sites, in which terrorists murdered 131 persons and wounded 413. Is it irrational to remember who was calling those shots?
Alain Destexhe, honorary Senator (Belgium) and former President of the International Crisis Group.

[1] Lettre aux escrocs de l'islamophobie qui font le jeux des racistes.
[2] Un racisme ordinaire : Islamophobie et culpabilité, Grasset, 2017. [English version: An Imaginary Racism: Islamophobia and Guilt, Polity 2018].
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.


Alain Destexhe, honorary Senator (Belgium) and former President of the International Crisis Group.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/15159/islamophobia-political-weapon

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End the War on Trump, Abolish the National Security Council - Daniel Greenfield


by Daniel Greenfield


We can have free elections or the NSC.




Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the latest star of the Democrat effort to undo the 2016 election, is still at work on the National Security Council. While Trump supporters on the NSC like Rich Higgins and Ezra Cohen-Watnick were forced out, Vindman won't be. NSC staffers who criticized Obama holdovers or sought to expose their misbehavior are gone, but Vindman is still there while undermining Trump.

And that’s the SNAFU of things on the NSC.

The National Security Council has been ground zero in the campaign against President Trump from the beginning. General Flynn’s appointment as National Security Advisor had touched the third rail because the NSC had been used to coordinate anti-Trump operations in the Susan Rice era.

The NSC doesn’t answer to Congress. Its members are meant to advise the president. (Except when they’re actually working for a previous president.) They command the implements of foreign policy, traditionally the weakest element in domestic politics, but not when they start treating their domestic political opponents as agents of a foreign state. And the size of the NSC has gotten out of control.

Under Obama, the NSC staff hit 400 people. That’s up from a dozen during its Cold War origins.

And it’s the staff that’s the problem.

The NSC was born in the Truman era, not as a byzantine government bureaucracy full of endless departments and hundreds of staffers, but as a means for key foreign policy and national defense figures to coordinate, develop options and then present them to the President of the United States.

People like Vindman or Fiona Hill were never supposed to be there.

In the 1947 National Security Act, the Council was to consist of the Secretary of State, the Defense Secretary, the heads of the branches of the military, and various strategic services and agencies, who would meet at sessions presided over by the President.

There was also to be a staff "headed by a civilian executive secretary".

What started out as a formal kitchen cabinet turned into a monster. And that didn’t exactly take decades. The NSC staff was at 50 people under George H.W. Bush. It hit 400 under Obama.

That’s an eightfold increase from Bush I and a threefold increase from his predecessor, Bush II.

The NSC’s permanent members were there to advise the president. The staff were there to support the work of the permanent members. And then the staff became the permanent members while the presidential appointees ended up being forced out or even worse for running afoul of them.

President Trump’s move to prune back the NSC is worth doing. But reorganizations of the NSC have been carried out before. Bureaucracy is the urban weed of Washington D.C. And even when it’s occasionally pruned, it always grows back. The only solution is to pull it up by the roots.

The National Security Council needs to go.

The NSC was meant to be a forum in which the heads of existing agencies would coordinate foreign policy and national security options. Instead, the NSC’s staff tends to set the foreign policy. What was once a support structure turned into a think tank and a policy shop. And then its very own deep state.

The very worst example of this was Ben Rhodes, an aspiring novelist who evolved from a speechwriter to deputy national security adviser for communications, and, in that capacity ran our foreign policy. War and diplomacy weren’t run by the cabinet members accountable to Congress, but by political operatives.

The NSC had become a state within a state, a rogue organization reporting directly to Barack Obama.

This wasn’t Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex or the deep state, it was something worse. It allowed a gaggle of political operatives to take control of national defense and intelligence, and retool them to spy on political opponents, to manufacture cases against them, and then to act as moles within future administrations with the aim of subverting them and perpetuating their old political agendas.

The NSC violates constitutional checks and balances. It undermines the rule of law. Its current function is an absurd perversion of the simple and straightforward purposes that it was meant to serve.

A coordinating body for national security and foreign policy may be a good idea. But the NSC isn’t it.

What would we do without the NSC? Agencies and departments would actually formulate policies internally and cabinet members would offer them to the president instead of the NSC acting as a rogue policy shop with the National Security Advisor competing with the cabinet members he is meant to be coordinating with. That would cut out some of the infighting and increase congressional accountability.

But that’s a 1980s argument. The 2019 argument is that the NSC is a threat to America.

Old NSC scandals involved its people overriding and sidelining the Pentagon, the State Department, the CIA, and determining and implementing policy on their own. Those scandals of departmental infighting seem almost nostalgic now that NSC personnel are working to actively oust a sitting president.

The NSC staff isn’t just undermining cabinet heads, it has become a rogue political organization.

It needs to go.

That’s not something that might be achievable right now, but it should become a Republican goal. The Flynn case and the latest impeachment bid are warnings that the NSC has become a toxic organization.

Traditionally, Republicans have been proponents of the NSC. Eisenhower and Nixon had expanded the NSC, while Kennedy and Carter had contracted it. But that pattern began to shift with the Clinton era, and fundamentally altered under Obama. The current NSC is a creature of the Clinton and Obama eras.

But the Obama administration only completed the corruption of an organization that had lost its way.

Abolishing the NSC will, in some ways, be a policy victory for the Left. But the Left has shown that it can do far more damage with the NSC, than without it, and that makes it too dangerous to exist

The NSC was meant to counter problems like the military-industrial complex or the deep state by organizing their functions and putting them more directly under the control of the White House. That plan worked so well under Obama, that White House political operatives used the NSC to take control of intelligence, the military, and law enforcement, and weaponized them against Republicans.

The central principle of politics is that proximity is power. The NSC was only meant to coordinate. Its staff were only meant to support. But the very act of creating an organization that would advise the president also made the position irresistible to men like Kissinger and Brzezinski who used it as a means of accumulating vast amounts of unchecked power. And after the National Security Advisor’s power had been rolled back, it was the anonymous staffers who picked it up and ended up in the driver’s seat.

Then it was just a simple matter of blowing up the staff and padding their ranks with political operatives.

Suddenly, the NSC was no longer overthrowing foreign governments, but our own government. And previously unknown NSC staffers in a byzantine organizational chart had become key figures in the war.

And, these days, it’s not a war on foreign enemies, it’s a war against President Trump and his voters.

A civil war.

The current crisis shows that we can’t have both the NSC as well as free and open elections.
A free country can’t afford the hybrid Democrat think-tank and pretorian guard that the NSC has become. It’s time to dismantle it, declassify and release all NSC activities involving the domestic political opposition, and go back to the way foreign policy and national security were run for over 200 years. 

Either that or abolish elections and put the NSC in charge of running the country.


Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2019/11/end-war-trump-abolish-national-security-council-daniel-greenfield/

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By 'abandoning' PIJ, Hamas risks sparking crisis with Iran - analysis - Khaled Abu Toameh


by Khaled Abu Toameh

“We have shown that we can go to war without Hamas,” said a PIJ official. “We are no longer seen as the little brother of Hamas.”



HAMAS TERRORISTS carry the body of their comrade Mahmoud al-Adham, 28, during his funeral in the northern Gaza Strip in July. (photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
HAMAS TERRORISTS carry the body of their comrade Mahmoud al-Adham, 28, during his funeral in the northern Gaza Strip in July.
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)


Hamas’ failure to join the round of fighting between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which began after Tuesday’s assassination of PIJ commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata, was one of the main reasons why PIJ agreed to the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, Palestinians said on Thursday.

The heavy casualties PIJ suffered during the two days of fighting also contributed to the terror group’s decision to accept Egypt’s mediation efforts, they said.

Several Palestinians in the Gaza Strip said that relations between Hamas and PIJ have been strained as a result of recent round of fighting with Israel. The tensions between the two groups could trigger a crisis between Hamas and Iran, they predicted. Officials from the two groups, however, sought to dismiss the talk about a crisis between Hamas and PIJ and accused Israel of seeking to drive a wedge between the Gaza-based groups.Sources close to Hamas explained that the movement chose not to involve itself in the fighting out of fear of dragging the Gaza Strip into an all-out war with Israel.“The residents of the Gaza Strip can’t afford another major war like the one that took place in 2014,” the sources said, referring to the seven-week Operation Protective Edge military offensive after Hamas fired rockets into Israel.According to the sources, Hamas did not believe that the assassination of al-Ata was sufficient to spark another war with Israel. “As far as Hamas was concerned, this was an internal issue concerning Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” the sources explained. “While Hamas did not try to stop the group from avenging the death of its commander, it saw no reason why its men should join the rocket attacks on Israel.”

Palestinian political analysts claimed that Israel relayed a message to Hamas shortly after the targeted killing of al-Ata to the effect that the IDF would not target the movement as long as it does not fire rockets at Israel. The message, they said, was delivered to Hamas through senior Egyptian intelligence officials.

Hamas, meanwhile, is facing sharp criticism from many Palestinians for its refusal to join the fighting with Israel. Some PIJ officials have also privately criticized the Hamas stance.The officials were quoted as saying that the leaders of Hamas are afraid of “losing the Qatari suitcases of cash,” reference to Qatar’s cash grants that were delivered to the Gaza Strip in the context of the ceasefire understandings reached with Israel earlier this year under the auspices of Egypt and the United Nations.In response, Hamas officials said that the movement’s long-standing position is that any decision to go to war with Israel should be taken by all Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, and not by one alone.PIJ officials on Thursday tried to depict their agreement to the ceasefire as a “victory,” insisting that Israel had “begged” the Egyptians and UN mediators for an end to the violence. They claimed that the Iranian-backed PIJ has consolidated its role as a major player in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip by engaging alone in two days of fighting with Israel. The PIJ officials also boasted that their rockets had paralyzed half of Israel, prompting it to seek a quick end to the violence.“We have shown that we can go to war without Hamas,” said a PIJ official. “We are no longer seen as the little brother of Hamas.”Hamas, on the other hand, has emerged from the Israel-PIJ conflict as the “responsible adult” that managed to avoid plunging the Gaza Strip into another war with Israel. Hamas is already facing growing discontent over its failure to improve the living conditions of Palestinians, and the last thing it needs now is another war that would further undermine its rule over the coastal enclave.It now remains to be seen how Iran will react to Hamas’ failure to help Tehran’s major proxy, PIJ. In recent years, Hamas has made a big effort to mend fences with Iran in wake of the crisis that erupted between the two parties over the civil war in Syria. Hamas’ failure to side with Syrian President Bashar Assad against the opposition forces in his country angered Tehran, whose leaders responded by reducing financial and military aid to Hamas.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Source: https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/By-abandoning-PIJ-Hamas-risks-sparking-crisis-with-Iran-analysis-607876

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Rocket fired from Gaza towards Israel - after ceasefire - Arutz Sheva Staff


by Arutz Sheva Staff

Despite ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad, rocket launched from Gaza Strip Thursday evening.



Iron Dome fires interceptor missile at rockets launched from Gaza (archive)
Iron Dome fires interceptor missile at rockets launched from Gaza (archive)
Reuters

A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel Thursday evening – hours after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire went into effect.

Sirens were heard in the Sdot Negev, Shaar HaNegev, and Eshkol regional council areas Thursday evening following the rocket launch.

Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system targeted and shot down the rocket. No injuries or damage have been reported.

Residents of Israeli towns on the Gaza border were forced to seek shelter after the rocket launch, following two days of rocket attacks by the Islamic Jihad terror organization.

The fighting broke out Tuesday morning, after Israeli aircraft carried out a pinpoint airstrike against the home of arch terrorist Baha Abu al-Ata, the chief of Islamic Jihad’s Al Quds Brigades in the Gaza Strip.

Abu al-Ata was responsible for numerous attacks on Israel, the IDF said, including a 2008 infiltration attack on Nahal Oz that left two Israelis dead.

Following Abu al-Ata’s elimination, Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets at Israel Tuesday and Wednesday, while the IDF retaliated with strikes in Gaza, killing 25 terrorists.


Arutz Sheva Staff

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/271687

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Muslim Brotherhood Subversion vs. Jihadist Rage - Raymond Ibrahim


by Raymond Ibrahim


The connection between ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood.




What do Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri—that is, the late leader of ISIS, and the late and current leaders of al-Qaeda—have in common? That they’re among the world’s most notorious Islamic terrorists?  Yes, but there’s something else, something more subtle, that binds them: they all began their careers as members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the oldest and most widespread political Islamic organization in the world.

In a 2014 video interview, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi—a spiritual leader of the Brotherhood whose Al Jazeera program on shari‘a is watched by tens of millions of Muslims—asserted that “this youth [al-Baghdadi] was from the start among the top ranks of the Brotherhood, but he was inclined to [positions of] leadership and so forth…  Then, after he spent years in prison [for Brotherhood activities] he came out and joined with them [the nascent Islamic State],” eventually becoming first “caliph.” (I first discussed this Qaradawi video soon after it appeared in 2014; predictably, YouTube has since taken it down, though Arabic websites still have it.)

In response, Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments (awqaf), Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Gom‘a had said that “Qaradawi’s confession [concerning al-Baghdadi] confirms that the Brotherhood is the spiritual father to every extremist group.”

So it would seem: In a 2012 video, Ayman al-Zawahiri, current leader of al-Qaeda, said of his predecessor that “Sheikh Osama bin Laden was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Arabian Peninsula,” during his youth and in the 1980s.

As for al-Zawahiri himself, his involvement with the Brotherhood in Egypt, where it was founded in 1928, is especially well known.  Indeed, he wrote an entire book about it, The Bitter Harvest: The [Muslim] Brotherhood in Sixty Years (which first surfaced around 1991; translated portions appear in The Al Qaeda Reader). The book is dedicated to demonstrating how and why the Brotherhood had lost its way by choosing to participate in elections instead of waging jihad against the “apostate” government of Egypt.

What’s noteworthy here is that al-Baghdadi, bin Laden, and al-Zawahiri all agreed with the overall vision of the Muslim Brotherhood—unsurprisingly so, considering its motto is “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader.  The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

What the three jihadist leaders had grown frustrated with is the Brotherhood’s patient and nonviolent approach—its willingness to compromise Islam (including jihad) in order to “play the game,” as it were.  Consider what al-Zawahiri, who had joined the Brotherhood when only fourteen years old, before abandoning it for more militant groups, wrote in Bitter Harvest:

[N]ot only have the Brothers been idle from fulfilling their duty of [waging] jihad, but they have gone as far as to describe the infidel governments as legitimate, and have joined ranks with them in the jahiliyya [infidel-style of] governing, that is, democracies, elections, and parliaments. Moreover, they take advantage of the Muslim youths’ fervor by bringing them into their fold only to store them in a refrigerator. Then, they steer their onetime passionate Islamic zeal for jihad against tyranny toward conferences and elections.

Interestingly, when all is said and done, the Brotherhood’s patient and incremental methodology has proven far more effective than the outright jihad of its terroristic offshoots.  Despite Zawahiri’s grumblings from the early 1990s, and after decades of grassroots efforts, the previously banned Brotherhood won Egypt’s 2012 elections, with one of its members, the late Muhammad Morsi, becoming the nation’s first democratically elected president.

Of course, a year later Egypt revolted against the Brotherhood, which found itself again labeled a terrorist organization.  Even so, the Brotherhood remains alive and well, particularly in the United States of America.  According to a 1991 Muslim Brotherhood document written in Arabic and presented as evidence in the 2008 Holy Land Terror Funding Trial, the Brotherhood’s purpose in America is to wage a soft and subversive jihad of attrition; in the Brotherhood’s own words:

The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers.

Towards the end of the document, “A list of our organizations and the organizations of our friends” appears and includes the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA).

All of these Brotherhood front groups remain alive, well, and highly influential in America—and therefore pose a greater long term and subversive threat for the security of the United States than ISIS, al-Qaeda, or any other jihadi organization.


Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2019/11/muslim-brotherhood-subversion-vs-jihadist-rage-raymond-ibrahim/

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