Saturday, December 28, 2019

Will giving away land to an Arab Palestinian Entity, bring peace? - Dr. Shmuel Katz

by Dr. Shmuel Katz

Relinquishing Jewish ancestral homeland land to sworn enemies of freedom, will not bring peace.

There are multiple messages delivered by certain self serving political organizations, who are recommending to the Israeli population to vote out the current Israeli Knesset leaders in order to accelerate the creation of a historically new Arab Palestinian State on a part of the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.

I had the great honor and privilege to talk with the late President Shimon Peres after the conclusion of the Oslo accords. As an honorable dreamer he sincerely believed that real peace is just around the corner. His thoughts were that regional alliances will have to be formed in order to be able to stand up against the Radical Islamic waves that were about to engulf the Middle East. He was hoping that this danger would convince the  Palestinian Arabs to emulate Israeli society and work with it toward peace.

I told President Peres that I had only one request from him - in order to try and make his efforts successful. I begged him to make sure that the Palestinian Arabs educate their children towards peace and stop anti-Israel incitement. He told me not to worry as he believed that they wanted to be free and prosperous just like the Israelis.

Unfortunately, he was wrong and I was right.

Recent interviews with Palestinian Arab children exposed once again, that they believe in peace only after killing or expelling all the Jews and other Infidels, from the "River to the Sea." This means that they are looking forward to the day when there are no Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. They did not distinguish between Left leaning Jews, between Right leaning Jews or between anybody in between, or even between Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem.

We should not forget, that the massacre of many innocent members of the Jewish community in the city of Hevron, and the expulsion of the rest, happened in the year 1929 many years before the reestablishment of the modern State of Israel. The current waves of incitement are coming not only from the educators and the children in Palestinian Arab schools, but also from all the Palestinian Arab Media outlets, from the infamous international BDS movement and from many others.

Even many intelligent people, do not realize that once evil is unleashed, all people from all walks of life will be affected. For example, we see it clearly in what happened to the Christian community in Lebanon, the Coptic community in Egypt, the Yazidis in Iraq and even the Christian community in Betlehem, once a thriving Israeli city, but which is currently controlled by the Palestinian Arab Authority.  

Many oblivious people ignore the fact that the State of Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East - that is at the forefront, defending, in many ways, the other peaceful Western populations. Israel has to face vicious threatening countries in the Middle East and beyond. Israel has to face hostility from many fanatic Shia of Iran and their surrogates, from many Sunnis in neighboring countries, from expansionist Turkey and even from some misinformed and problematic Europeans - and others.

Relinquishing Jewish ancestral homeland land to sworn enemies of freedom, will not bring peace. On the contrary, it will further destabilize the Middle East with unimaginable consequences for all.

Once the children and the general population, under the control and the influence of the Arab Palestinian Authority and their supporters, will be educated for real peace, it will take at least a generation or two, before real peace will become a reality. Stopping incitement is not an alternative to economical support and international political connections. If incitement and disinformation will continues and economical and political support will be provided, it will guarantee the perpetuation of evil trends and increase the chances of armed confrontations, as it will create stronger and more determined enemies of good.

Therefore, a long lasting responsible education for peace should be the first step toward creating a better future for all. A weak and an even smaller State of Israel, will enhance the ambitions of all forces of evil, to the detriment of the free world as we know it.

Dr. Shmuel Katz was born in Hungary, raised in Israel. served as an officer in the 6 Day War, gained extensive trauma experience during the Yom Kippur War, is double-boarded in Surgery, a Fellow of the Israeli Surgical Society and of the American College of Surgeons and other medical societies. He is on the board of many pro-Israel organizations.


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The War for the Persian Succession - Michael Ledeen

by Michael Ledeen

It’s time for a winning strategy.

Is this the end at last? Or just another speech? 

There doesn’t seem to be a crucial level of deaths and injuries that will lead to a revolution against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The latest reports put the death total at well over a thousand, with ten times as many wounded. And the list of victims continues to grow apace, with scores arrested every day. New victims are fished out of the waters or dragged from their death beds, and added to the grim totals. Banafsheh’s regular reportage brings us up to date:
A detailed report published on the Persian-language section of the Al Arabiya news website has estimated the number of Iranians killed by the regime during the November demonstrations to be 1,360. The report, which is very detailed, and lists the date, time and location of each clash between regime forces and the crowds, also identifies the specific Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) units involved in suppressing the people. The information is said to come from clandestine sources inside the IRGC.

It's significant that the death toll comes from secret sources from within the Revolutionary Guards Corps, apparently eager to reveal what they have done to the protesters, and to make sure that the victims’ families know the details. 
150 doctors inside Iran have signed an open letter critiquing the regime for its abuses against the protestors. “Regular and disguised military, law enforcement and security forces opened fire on the people and used the destruction and rioting of a few opportunists as an excuse to attribute the rightful protest of the people to foreign [powers]. Our country with God-given abundant resources should have enjoyed a much better situation than it does now. Unfortunately, our statesmen with costly and fruitless adventurism have repeatedly pushed the country to the brink of the abyss,” the statement read.

A recent Iranian poll found that only fifteen percent of the citizens of Tehran supported the regime, and approved of the uprising.

In other words, the most violent and widespread insurrection against the Tehran regime produced the most systematic, murderous repression since the revolt against the shah in 1979, all across the country. And both the insurrection and the repression are continuing. This is a continuation of the fierce internal struggle that I have called the war for the Persian succession, a struggle to name the next supreme leader after Ayatollah Khamenei.

The two main contenders are the old leaders of the Revolutionary Guards Corps and the current spokesmen for the regime, starting with President Hassan Rouhani. The former chief of the IRGC, Mohammad Ali Jafari, has called for Rouhani to stand trial for causing the massive protests, oppressing the people, and wrecking the society.

Once the regime had gained the upper hand against the demonstrators, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered his usual series of warnings, placing the United States firmly on the side of the insurrection, and expanding sanctions on Iranian leaders. It was a fine speech, and numerous commentators pointed out that the Trump Administration was edging closer and closer to a policy of regime change. 

Yet, despite the powerful rhetoric, there is still no sign that the United States is actually moving to assist the Iranian people to bring down the detested regime. If we were serious about regime change, we would hear about it, in no uncertain terms, from Pompeo and Trump himself. But we do not. I wonder if we even have ongoing contacts with the leaders of the insurrection.

On the other hand, there is abundant evidence of Iranian penetration of U.S. defenses, highlighted by the sentencing of Ali Kourani to forty years imprisonment for plotting to carry out terrorist acts. Kourani, originally Lebanese, was trained by Hezbollahis, and trained like-minded terrorists to unleash attacks on American soil. It was an Iranian operation.
“Ali Kourani’s arrest was a reminder to us all that New York City and its surrounding areas remain primary targets for those looking to conduct a violent attack against our way of life,” said FBI assistant director William F. Sweeney Jr.

The Kourani case shows that our intelligence services can see the enemy at work, and that our courts have the will to lock away the perpetrators. Kourani cannot be the only such case; we need a more active counterintelligence campaign against the Islamic Republic.

Which brings us back to the insurrection, which remains open-ended:
Islamic authorities willfully continues to invest in additional apparatus of oppression, in order to crack down on Iranians who protest, the regime’s rampant corruption, financial waste and depletion of the country to fund its regional adventurism. This reflects a pattern common to the entirety of the Islamic regime’s 40-year-long reign, where national development, infrastructure, and social services have been overlooked, while Iran’s oil wealth has been thrown around on the regime’s military machine, foreign interventions, and terrorism.

The regime in Tehran is at war with us. Enough speeches, it’s time for a winning strategy.

Michael Ledeen


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Why Are Academics Ignoring Iran's Colonialism? - A.J. Caschetta

by A.J. Caschetta

Khomeini's Islamic Revolution was an imperialist project from the beginning

Academics nowadays can't tell colonialism from a hole in the ground.

Academics today are obsessed with colonization, empire, and cultural hegemony, along with post-colonialism, ethnic studies, and intersectionality. Scholarship in many fields has come to be dominated by hegemony-fighting, indigenous-supporting anti-imperialists who attack anyone who disagrees with them. When a journal called Third World Quarterly published an article in 2017 about the benefits of colonialism, the uproar from the social-justice professors led to the article's being withdrawn and 15 members of the editorial board resigning amid threats.
So if the profession is so adamant about the evils of colonialism, why is it ignoring Iran?
If academic are so adamant about the evils of colonialism, why are they ignoring Iran?
When strong countries exert their (unfair) advantages over weaker ones, imposing their values and cultures and manipulating indigenous economies, academics are among the loudest and most creative critics. Even the most benign influence of a powerful country over a weaker one is excoriated — hence the long obsession with something called "cocacolonization." Legions of scholar-activists are busy enlisting history to shed light on the present, drawing parallels between a benighted European era of colonization and an ongoing American or Israeli one, looking under rocks for signs of Western, American, and Trumpian oppression and proclaiming a new American empire. Fair enough — but why ignore the Iranian attempts to do exactly to others what they accuse others of having done to Iran?
Journalists such as Jonathan Spyer (left) and Seth Frantzman (right), have been documenting Iran's colonial expansion for years.

Journalists and analysts, such as Jonathan Spyer and Seth Frantzman, have been documenting Iran's colonial expansion for many years. But most academics have been reluctant to turn their skills on Iran. Many prefer softer targets, such as Israel and the U.S. Earlier this month, the United Nations' Decolonization Committee pushed eight anti-Israel measures through the General Assembly, showing where its priorities lie.
Even without its violations of other countries' sovereignty, Iran itself is an empire, with ethnic Persians dominating the Arabs, Kurds, Balochis, Azeris, Turkmen, Lur, Gilakis, and Mazandaranis. Only a few, notably Daniel Pipes, Ilan Berman, and Shoshana Bryen, are interested in this fact.
Left to right: Daniel Pipes, Ilan Berman, and Shoshana Bryen recognize Iran as an empire.

Khomeini's Islamic Revolution was an imperialist project from the beginning, as one of his first moves after taking power (even before the collapse of the post-shah provisional government in November 1979) was to establish the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to spread his ideas. Shortly thereafter he made moves in Lebanon, dispatching "1,500 IRGC advisers [to] set up a base in the Bekaa Valley as part of [his] goal to export the Islamic Revolution to the Arab world," as Matthew Levitt put it. Those advisers were instrumental in creating Hezbollah, which has served to spread Iran's influence throughout the world.
In 1998, the al-Quds Force, the IRGC's unconventional-warfare unit, got a new leader when Qassem Soleimani was appointed commander. Soleimani has ramped up Iran's colonial enterprise, capitalizing on the U.S. toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 to take over Iraq in a way Iran could never have accomplished on its own. The so-called Arab Spring offered Soleimani the opportunity to stake out territory in Syria using Hezbollah and in Yemen using the Shia Houthi rebels, completing the goal of a "Shia Crescent" stretching from the Gulf to the Mediterranean.
Almost no academics are writing about one of the world's bloodiest colonizing projects.
Books on British and American empire building in Iran and the greater Middle East (real and imagined) come out every year. The topic has earned tenure for many willing to genuflect at the altar of Edward Said by exposing alleged evils of European and American "Orientalism." Yet almost no academics are writing about one of the world's most obvious and bloodiest colonizing projects even as it plays out right under their noses.
There are exceptions, of course. Efraim Karsh's Islamic Imperialism (2006) reminded everyone that the Middle East is "where the institution of empire not only originated . . . but where its spirit has also outlived its European counterpart."
Another exception is Tallha Abdulrazak, a researcher at the University of Exeter's Strategy and Security Institute, but his interests in Iranian colonialism seem to end at Iraq, and the anti-American and anti-Israel tendencies in his writing at Al Jazeera and the Middle East Eye suggest a lack of interest in the totality of Iranian empire-building. These tendencies were doubtless instrumental in his being awarded the Al Jazeera Young Researcher Award in 2015.
Michael Rubin (left) and Hillel Frisch (right).

Think-tank scholars have not shied away from Iran's interference in other countries. Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute notes that "aside from Russia, Iran is the world's most imperialistic country today . . . little different in its quest for political and economic domination of poorer states as its tormentors were in the nineteenth century."
Israeli scholars too seem more interested in today's Iran than in yesterday's. Hillel Frisch, professor of political studies and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, calls Iran "the only country whose focus is on political, military, and terrorist intervention and involvement in areas beyond its contiguous borders against states that have not struck the homeland."
But where are the clarion calls from the ivory towers? Are all the anti-Orientalists busy stigmatizing the West, privileging victimhood over achievement and finding new ways to use "other" as a verb (perhaps at UC Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute)? Where are the conferences, symposia, and special-issue journals on Iranian imperialism? The Council on Foreign Relations hosted an event dedicated to Iran's imperial foreign policy in February, but if any similar event occurred at an American university in 2019, it wasn't advertised and remains well hidden.
The 21st century began with a frenetic deluge of articles and books decrying a new American "imperialism" in the Middle East that had begun after 9/11. But books decrying the rise of Iranian imperialism have not even come in a trickle.
So what exactly are the Middle East specialists up to?
On the fringes of the profession, where the activists lurk, a counteroffensive is under way. Iran apologist Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University wrote and published a "Letter Against US Imperialism" on December 7 objecting to "the current U.S. imperial project," aided by the IMF, that "seek[s] a return to neocolonial governance in the form of a U.S.-backed regime." Dabashi somehow persuaded 38 academics (12 from colleges in California) to join with an odd assortment of artists, activists, lawyers, and podcasters to sign the desperate and bizarre letter that completely misunderstands the protests in Iran in November.
Even the socialists at New Politics find fault with Dabashi's letter for its "dismissal of the Iranian regime's oppressive and violent influence in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq" and its shallow "conceptualization of imperialism [which] does not include and condemn the sub-imperialisms of Iran."
Mainstream Middle East specialists prefer to pretend that there is no Iranian imperialism.
Mainstream Middle East specialists prefer to pretend that there is no Iranian imperialism, "sub" or otherwise. When hundreds, perhaps thousands, of them assembled in New Orleans at the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) last month, the topic seems to have escaped them. Over the course of four days they convened 20 academic sessions, each comprising between 18 and 24 topics, for a total of 304 events: panels, round tables, thematic conversations, conference papers, and special current-issue sessions. In each of these events at least a half dozen experts presented, chaired, or refereed. And not a single event was devoted to Iran's colonial influence in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, or Yemen. There was nothing about the ascendant Iranian empire. The Qajar Empire, on the other hand, was covered in multiple sessions. Also popular were events about someplace called either "Palestine/Israel" or "Israel/Palestine," depending apparently on the whims of the moderator.
The Iranian colonial project is among the most significant events in modern history, and its contours coincide with the interests and deeply held beliefs of the professoriate. But most academics are remarkably uncurious about Iran's colonialism. Talk about wasting the moment.

A.J. Caschetta is a principal lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a fellow at Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum where he is a Ginsburg-Ingerman fellow.


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New York State Blocks ICE and Border Patrol Access to DMV Database - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

Cuomo’s gift to ISIS, the drug cartels, and human traffickers.

On December 17, 2019 Democrat & Chronicle, a publication affiliated with USA Today, published this extremely worrisome report: ICE, Border Patrol had access to NY's DMV database. With a new license law, now they don't.

Here is how that report begins:
ALBANY, N.Y. – Federal immigration and border officials have been blocked from New York's DMV database, a move that keeps them from accessing data that can be used to help determine whether a vehicle owner has a criminal history or a warrant for their arrest.
New York's Green Light Law took effect Saturday, allowing those without legal immigration status to apply for driver's licenses in New York.
But the law also included a provision prohibiting state DMV officials from providing any of its data to entities that enforce immigration law unless a judge orders them to, leading the state to cut off database access to at least three federal agencies last week.
Among them were U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP — which patrols the U.S.-Canada border in New York — and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.

Providing illegal aliens with driver’s licenses is reckless beyond belief, and reverses a previous policy that had been implemented in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001.

I detailed some of my more salient concerns about the dangers inherent in providing illegal aliens with driver’s licenses in my earlier article, "New York Will Provide Illegal Aliens With Driver’s Licenses."

Now I want to call your attention to a paragraph from the official report, 9/11 and  Terrorist Travel - Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States:
Exploring the Link between Human Smugglers and Terrorists
In July 2001, the CIA warned of a possible link between human smugglers and terrorist groups, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Egyptian Islamic Jihad.  Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that since 1999 human smugglers have facilitated the travel of terrorists associated with more than a dozen extremist groups. With their global reach and connections to fraudulent document vendors and corrupt government officials, human smugglers clearly have the “credentials” necessary to aid terrorist travel.

It is clear that bogus identity documents can serve as camouflage for criminals and terrorists and that providing illegal aliens with official identity documents when their true identities may be unknown and unknowable directly undermines national security and public safety.  It is in direct conflict with the findings and recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

Then there is this brief paragraph from that report:
Mohammed Salameh, who rented the truck used in the bombing, overstayed his tourist visa. He then applied for permanent residency under the agricultural workers program, but was rejected. Eyad Mahmoud Ismail, who drove the van containing the bomb, took English-language classes at Wichita State University in Kansas on a student visa; after he dropped out, he remained in the United States out of status.

The unavoidable fact is that an illegal alien terrorist was able to rent the truck that was used in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and another illegal alien terrorist drove that bomb-laden vehicle. For terrorists around the world, motor vehicles have become their weapon of choice for deadly terror attacks. Consider the August 20, 2018 CNN report, Terrorist Attacks by Vehicle Fast Facts.

New York City experienced such a deadly terror attack on October 31, 2017 on the Westside Highway just block from what came to be known as “Ground Zero.”

Ironically, on October 31, 2019 CBS News in New York reported, 2 Years Later, NYPD Says Halloween Terror Attack Along West Side Highway Still Fresh On Its Mind.

While it detailed how, in response to the attack Westside Highway terror attack, barriers were being erected to protect pedestrians from future such attacks, we now see that barriers to the driver’s seat for possible terrorists have been willfully removed even though the 2017 Halloween Terror attack is still “fresh in the mind of the NYPD!”

But it has gotten worse -- unfathomably worse. The so-called “Green Light Law” not only requires that DMV personnel issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, but also prevents any and all information contained in the databases of the New York State DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) from being provided to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and CBP (Customs and Border Protection), compromising and obstructing their ability to carry out their vital duties.

On December 19, 2019 USA Today published a report, New York law lets undocumented immigrants apply for driver's licenses, blocks ICE access that included this explanation for the “reasoning” behind the decision to block ICE and CBP from accessing the DMV database:
The law reversed the state's post-9/11 policy of denying driving privileges to immigrants without legal immigration status.State lawmakers inserted the data-blocking provision into the bill a week before it passed, when immigrant organizations and Cuomo expressed concern that ICE and CBP would be able to easily obtain information about immigrants seeking a license, perhaps making it easier for them to be deported.
Specifically, the provision says DMV "shall not disclose" any records or information to "any agency that primarily enforces immigration law.
"The only exceptions are if the DMV commissioner is served with "a lawful court order or judicial warrant," according to the law. Even then, the DMV has to notify the person at the center of a federal agency's inquiry within three days.

This “Green Light Law” will obstruct criminal investigations and aid and abet alien and drug smugglers and human traffickers.

ICE agents also conduct vehicle stops as part of their investigative assignments to combat a wide variety of serious crimes that include, but are not limited to, violations of our immigration laws.

Criminals who engage in human trafficking and/or drug smuggling virtually universally own and/or drive motor vehicles as an integral part of their crimes. Indeed, under 8 U.S.C. § 1324 - U.S. Code, transporting an illegal alien is a felony comprehended within the statutes concerning alien smuggling and harboring.

DMV records are vital to determining who the co-conspirators are in human trafficking and drug-smuggling criminal enterprises. Without DMV records the owners of vehicles used in these crimes will be shielded from ICE and Border Patrol agents and thus escape detection and prosecution.

This law has the potential to get Border Patrol and ICE agents badly injured or killed.

Border Patrol agents patrol the borders of the United States and, in their mission of interdicting illegal aliens and narcotics and other contraband, routinely stop countless vehicles along the northern and southern borders of the United States. Motor vehicles stops are among the most dangerous activities that law enforcement officers do. I have been involved in numerous vehicle stops and I can attest to how risky such stops are, although they are a routine part of law enforcement work.

ICE agents also conduct vehicle stops as part of their investigative assignments to combat  a wide variety of serious crimes that include but are not limited to violations of our immigration laws.

Any time police officers or federal agents prepare to make a vehicle stop, they radio in the license plate and description of the vehicle to determine if the plates match the car, to determine if the registered owner has an outstanding warrant, or to obtain other relevant vital information. If, for example the registered owner is the subject of an active warrant or the vehicle has been reported stolen, the officer will likely call for backup. Without that vital information, the Border Patrol or ICE agent making that stop may be walking into a nightmare scenario that may cost that agent his or her life!

There is another important matter to consider: CBP agents and ICE agents frequently encounter individuals who are the subject of active warrants by the NYPD or other law enforcement agencies. When such individuals are located, they are taken into custody and held for the law enforcement agency that posted the warrant in the database.

In fact, many of the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted” are encountered by other law enforcement agencies doing car stops.

Without access to the database such fugitives, wanted by the NYPD, New York State Police or other police agencies within the state of New York will not be stopped and continue on their way, perhaps to commit more crimes and kill or injure more innocent victims.

But this is clearly of no concern for New York Governor or legislature. I guess they think of dead victims as “collateral damage,” or perhaps speed bumps on the road to their corrupt political objectives.

Michael Cutler


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Why Palestinian Leaders Fear Opinion Polls - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

Palestinian leaders fear that reports about corruption could contribute to a drying up of international funding of the PA.

  • The Palestinian Authority leadership was far from pleased about AMAN's exposure of the Palestinians public's discontent with corruption.
  • Palestinian leaders fear that reports about corruption could contribute to a drying up of international funding of the PA. If donor countries got whiff of the fact that their taxpayers' money is being squandered and stolen by senior PA officials, the cash cow might just kick over the PA bucket.
  • The statement by Transparency International is a clear indication of the campaign of threats and intimidation its representatives have been facing since the release of the corruption survey. The statement implies that AMAN was forced to withdraw its public opinion poll after its staff received threats from the PA leadership.
  • Mahmoud Abbas also apparently wants to make sure that donor countries continue to channel funds to his government without noticing that a majority of Palestinians are complaining about corruption.

Palestinian leaders fear that reports about corruption could contribute to a drying up of international funding of the Palestinian Authority. If donor countries got whiff of the fact that their taxpayers' money is being squandered and stolen by senior PA officials, the cash cow might just kick over the PA bucket. (Image source: iStock)

Palestinian Authority leaders are upset: a survey published on December 11 by Transparency International, a global organization that "gives voice to the victims and witnesses of corruption," found that corruption is increasing in the PA and in five Arab countries.

Transparency International said that its survey, called "Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – Middle East and North Africa," revealed that "almost two-thirds of all people (65%) in six countries surveyed think that corruption is getting worse in their country, and that their governments are not doing enough to end corruption."

The GCB report, one of the largest, most detailed surveys of citizens' views on corruption and experiences of bribery, incorporates the views of more than 6,600 citizens from Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan and Tunisia, according to Transparency International.

"For the first time, the GCB also measures the prevalence of wasta, or the use of personal connections, to access public services, in three countries: Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine," it said in a statement. "Despite the relatively low bribery rates in countries like Jordan and Palestine, citizens often resort to wasta in order to get public services they need."

According to the survey, more than one in three Jordanians, Palestinians and Lebanese who accessed pubic services used wasta in the previous 12 months. "This is equivalent to approximately 3.6 million people," Transparency International noted.

The survey also found that "in Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan, one in five people experiences sexual extortion -- or sextortion -- when accessing a government service, or knows someone who has."

In addition, the survey revealed that one in five Arabs, including Palestinians, paid a bribe to access public services, such as health care and education.

Majdi Abu Zaid, Executive Director of the Palestinian Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN), said that the findings of Transparency International were consistent with a recent poll his group conducted among Palestinians.

The AMAN opinion poll represented the views of 1,025 respondents in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

Abu Zaid said that 62% of surveyed Palestinians believe that corruption has increased during the past year, while 51% said that the PA government performance in combating corruption was inadequate. "The results showed that the bribery rate in Palestine was 17%," Abu Zaid added.

Embarrassed by the results, the Palestinian Authority government was quick to cast doubt about the credibility of the two surveys. In a statement, the PA government expressed "reservations about the errors" in the surveys and urged AMAN to be accurate and to rely on scientific methods in obtaining information, and not on impressions that are far from the criteria of accuracy and the values of integrity and transparency." The PA government claimed that AMAN later withdrew its poll and "apologized for the lack of accuracy in its reports."

It did not take the directors of AMAN long, apparently, to grasp the thinly veiled threat by the PA government. The PA leadership was far from pleased about AMAN's exposure of the Palestinians public's discontent with corruption.

Palestinian leaders fear that reports about corruption could contribute to a drying up of international funding of the PA. If donor countries got whiff of the fact that their taxpayers' money is being squandered and stolen by senior PA officials, the cash cow might just kick over the PA bucket.

For now, the PA government seems to have won this round of the nascent attempts at corruption-busting. Last week, AMAN issued a statement distancing itself from the Transparency International survey.

Shortly after the PA lashed out at the surveys, AMAN representatives held an urgent meeting with the PA's "Anti-Corruption Commission" in the West Bank city of Ramallah. In a joint statement after the meeting, the two groups claimed that the Transparency International survey "does not provide certain and documented facts." The statement said that "contrary to some media reports, AMAN asserted that Transparency International has not presented any written or verbal positions stating that Palestine ranks second after Lebanon in terms of the most corrupt countries."

Transparency International, for its part, responded in a December 12 statement by attacking the PA government and accusing it of harassing AMAN staff:
"In light of recent criticism by the Palestinian government, Transparency International affirms the validity of its Global Corruption Barometer methodology and stands by the results of its research into the views and experiences of corruption among Palestinian citizens.
"Statements published by the Palestinian government contain factual errors and misrepresent the survey methodology...
"Transparency International further affirms that AMAN: Coalition for Integrity is the official national chapter of Transparency International in Palestine. Its staff are highly respected members of the global anti-corruption coalition."
Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International, said:
"It is sad and disappointing to see a government attack one of our chapters over the results of a scientific and methodologically sound corruption survey, rather than engage constructively with the findings to improve the lives of citizens."
Transparency International urged PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian security services to "fulfill their obligation to guarantee the security and safety of civil society." It said that "[o]nline harassment and incitement against AMAN is completely unacceptable" and demanded "fast and thorough investigation and action by the authorities."

The statement by Transparency International is a clear indication of the campaign of threats and intimidation its representatives have been facing since the release of the corruption survey. The statement implies that AMAN was forced to withdraw its public opinion poll after its staff received threats from the PA leadership.

Abbas and his government seem to be worried that renewed talk about financial and administrative corruption would also harm their chances of winning in new elections for the PA presidency and parliament.

In September, Abbas announced his intention to hold long overdue elections, but has still not set a date for the vote. Abbas's ruling Fatah faction lost in the 2006 parliamentary election, mainly because of its corruption. Hamas ran in that election under the banner of change and reform, and that is one of the reasons it won the vote.

Abbas now seems determined to prevent another Hamas victory, if and when the elections take place. That seems why he is prepared to do his utmost to prevent groups such as AMAN from publishing polls that show that Palestinians are unhappy with corruption. Abbas also apparently wants to make sure that donor countries continue to channel funds to his government without noticing that a majority of Palestinians are complaining about corruption.
  • Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.


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Chuck Schumer blasts Mitch McConnell for declared partiality on impeachment but said the same thing himself in 1999 - Monica Showalter

by Monica Showalter

Schumer holds himself to easier standards when the shoe is on the other tootsie.

When you're a storied jurassic in the Senate who's been around the block a few times, it's only a matter of time before your words come back to bite you.

This brings us to Sen. Chuck Schumer, who's been chiding Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell for his statement that in President Trump's impeachment, he was no "impartial juror" — a reasonable statement, actually, because impeachment is a political act, not subject to usual courthouse rules for jurors.

Here he went, according to CNN:
"Let the American people hear it loud and clear, the Republican leader said, proudly, 'I'm not an impartial juror. I'm not impartial about this at all.' That is an astonishing admission of partisanship," Schumer said in a floor speech.
Yet Schumer himself said the same thing at President Clinton's 1998 impeachment and somehow expected that it wouldn't be noticed. Look at how parsey-farcey he got about it back then:
Speaking on CNN's "Larry King Live" in January 1999, Schumer said the trial in the Senate was not like a jury box.
"We have a pre-opinion," Schumer said, citing himself and two newly-elected Republican senators who had voted on impeachment in 1998 as members of the House of Representatives who said they would vote in the Senate. "This is not a criminal trial, but this is something that the Founding Fathers decided to put in a body that was susceptible to the whims of politics."
"So therefore, anybody taking an oath tomorrow can have a pre-opinion; it's not a jury box," King asked Schumer.
"Many do," Schumer responded. "And then they change. In fact, it's also not like a jury box in the sense that people will call us and lobby us. You don't have jurors called and lobbied and things like that. I mean, it's quite different than a jury. And we're also the judge."
Actually, what I'm most amazed about is that CNN of all places spotted the hypocrisy and double standard.

Chuck Schumer knows very well how politics goes, and now he's trying to make it into something it's not, while attempting to turn hardball-playing Cocaine Mitch into some kind of miscreant. 

He's a hypocrite and a liar for it. Or as they say, "Full of Schumer." Seems as though that's what it takes to be Chuck Schumer.

Monica Showalter


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A Response to the Editor of Christianity Today - Dennis Prager

by Dennis Prager

The magazine's amoral view says more about its editor than about Trump.

The editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, Mark Galli, wrote an editorial calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

In my view, this editorial only serves to confirm one of the sadder realizations of my life: that religious conviction guarantees neither moral clarity nor common sense.

The gist of the editorial — and of most religious and conservative opposition to President Trump — is that any good the president has done is dwarfed by his character defects.

This is an amoral view that says more about Galli than it does about the president. He and the people who share his opinion are making the following statement: No matter how much good this president does, it is less important than his character flaws.

Why is this wrong?

First, because it devalues policies that benefit millions of people.

And second, because it is a simplistic view of character.

I do not know how to assess a person's character — including my own — outside of how one's actions affect others. Since I agree with almost all of President Trump's actions as president and believe they have positively affected millions of people, I have to conclude that as president, Trump thus far has been a man of particularly good character.

Of course, if you think his policies have harmed millions of people, you will assess his character negatively. But that is not what never-Trump conservatives or Christians such as the Christianity Today editor-in-chief argue. They argue that his policies have indeed helped America (and even the world), but this fact is far less significant than his character.

In the words of Galli: "(I)t's time to call a spade a spade, to say that no matter how many hands we win in this political poker game, we are playing with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence."

This rhetorical sleight of hand reflects poorly on Galli's intellectual and moral honesty.

Galli and every other Christian and conservative opponent of the president believe their concerns are moral, and that the president's Christian and other conservative supporters are political.

This is simply wrong.

I and every other supporter of the president I know support him for moral reasons, not to win a "political poker game." Galli's view is purely self-serving; he's saying, "We Christian and other conservative opponents of the president think in moral terms, while Christian and other conservative supporters of the president think in political terms."

So, permit me to inform Galli and all the other people who consider themselves conservative and/or Christian that our support for the president is entirely moral.

— To us, putting pressure on the Iranian regime — one of the most evil and dangerous regimes on Earth — by getting out of the Iran nuclear deal made by former President Barack Obama is a moral issue. Even New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, who loathes Trump, has written how important the president's rejection of the Obama-Iran agreement has been.

— To us, enabling millions of black Americans to find work — resulting in the lowest black unemployment rate ever recorded — is a moral issue.

— To us, more Americans than ever being employed and almost 4 million Americans freed from reliance on food stamps is a moral issue.

— To us, appointing more conservative judges than any president in history — over the same period of time — is a moral issue. That whether the courts, including the Supreme Court, are dominated by the left or by conservatives is dismissed by Galli as "political poker" makes one question not only Galli's moral thinking but also his moral theology.

— To us, moving the American embassy to Israel's capital city, Jerusalem — something promised by almost every presidential candidate — is a moral issue, not to mention profoundly courageous. And courage is a moral virtue.

— To us, increasing the U.S. military budget — after the severe cuts of the previous eight years — is a moral issue. As conservatives see it, the American military is the world's greatest guarantor of world peace.

Yet, none of these things matter to Galli and other misguided Christians and conservatives. What matters more to them is Trump's occasional crude language and intemperate tweets, what he said about women in a private conversation and his having committed adultery.

Regarding adultery, that sin is for spouses and God to judge. There is no connection between marital sexual fidelity and moral leadership. I wish there were. And as regards the "Access Hollywood" tape, every religious person, indeed every thinking person, should understand that there is no connection between what people say privately and their ability to be a moral leader. That's why I wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal 20 years ago defending Hillary Clinton when she was charged with having privately expressed anti-Semitic sentiments.

That the editor of Christianity Today thinks the president's personal flaws, whatever they might be, are more important than all the good he has done for conservatives, for Christians, for Jews, for blacks and for America tells us a lot ... about Galli and the decline of Christian moral thought.

Dennis Prager


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