Friday, February 5, 2021

Chuck Schumer incited violence, threatened SCOTUS justices on steps of Supreme Court only 11 months ago - Thomas Lifson


​ by Thomas Lifson

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions,” Schumer threatened

If Donald Trump can be impeached for urging peaceful protest at the Capitol, why isn’t Chuck Schumer being impeached for far, far worse rhetoric aimed at intimidating members of the Supreme Court he specifically named into voting his way. I mean morally, because obviously The Dems use impeachment to score political points, not as a serious remedy for misbehavior as those dead white males, the Founders, intended.

The invaluable Molly Hemingway of The Federalist remembers Schumer’s call for insurrection:

Less than one year ago, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York led a mob on the steps of the Supreme Court while a case was being heard and tried to thwart the natural deliberation of justices by violently threatening two of them to rule in favor of his and other Democrats’ preferred outcome.

“I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions,” Schumer threatened the two most recently confirmed justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

"I wanna tell you, Gorsuch...." (YouTube screen grab)


The threat was so alarming that even leftist activists such as Laurence Tribe condemned it. Schumer received a rare, same-day rebuke from Chief Justice John Roberts, who said, “Justices know that criticism comes with the territory, but threatening statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous.”

Then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned Schumer’s remarks as “astonishingly reckless and completely irresponsible.” However, Sen. Josh Hawley’s efforts to censure Schumer for his violent threats were scuttled.



Mark Levin believes that Schumer ought to be on trial. Via Breitbart:

Levin explained to host Sean Hannity [last night on FNC’s Hannity] that Schumer’s rhetoric led to protesters attempting to storm the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C.

“[I] want to talk quickly about Chuck Schumer — you mentioned it,” Levin said. “He threatened two U.S. Supreme Court justices. He threatened the Supreme Court. He assembled a mob on the stairs of a Supreme Court that tried to break into the Supreme Court, but for that 13-foot bronze door there. And he warns those justices that they are, in fact, in for hell if they don’t vote the way he wants. He threatened the Supreme Court. He used the Kavanaugh hearings him as Mollie Hemingway so brilliantly wrote, ‘to convene a mob, to disrupt hearings.'”

“Who the hell does this clown, Schumer, think he is?” Levin continued. “Stomping all over the Constitution with a 50-50 vote in the Senate, trying to impose his will on the American people, on the whole country, and now going to have a rogue trial? He’s the one that should be on trial and all the other reprobates that have for decades been threatening the American people and making outrageous comments to try to stir up and create fringies among their own base.”

You can be sure that Patrick Leahy, who will be presiding over the Senate trial of President Trump’s second impeachment (because John Roberts refused to dignify the farce), will try to rule out of order any consideration of the rhetoric of Schumer or any other Democrat when Trump’s lawyers present his defense. But they can raise the issue and be ruled against in front of the American people. Social media will do its best to limit the public’s access to the record, but this is a fact that is relevant and whose suppression only increases the public’s interest.

As the now-tired joke puts it, "If it weren't for double standards, the Democerats would have no standards at all."

Update. A friend has a suggestion:

I’ve thought that Trump should hold a competing press event in the Capitol, but outside the impeachment chamber.  You said it right, Leahy will overrule attempts to use examples of others actually inciting violence.  Trump could put on his “case” without being overruled.  Pelosi may try to have him removed, but, wow, make Trump’s day!

Hat tip: J.J. Sefton


Thomas Lifson  


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Biden needs to understand the world has changed - Amjad Taha


​ by Amjad Taha

Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE share great concerns over Iran's regional and military aspirations. Will the American president listen?

Israel, Bahrain, and the UAE have stressed the concern they share over Iran's nuclear program, ballistic missiles, and its activities across the Middle East, and the joint regional position on these issues will likely be used to exert greater influence on the United States. However, the question remains, how much of that will US President Joe Biden heed?

With the Palestinian Authority calling its first general election since 2006, and Biden's indication of his desire to re-join the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, this will mean that negations will take place as Iran most likely asks the Hamas terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip to hijack the election, meaning chances of them taking over PLO will be very high.

This act could infiltrate the idea of peace, and certify the Iranian revolutionary guards mini-state on the borders of Jordan and Israel.

The Biden administration should understand that the situation is no longer the same as it was during Obama's presidency. President Trump may have a negative reputation, but he has succeeded in changing the perception of power in the Middle East and with it the impact Iran has within it.

The Gulf states are no longer weak, but countries like Bahrain, despite its small geographic size , have become influential and have played a major role in supporting Egypt in its fight against the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism, and participated in the war against Iran's militia in Yemen.

The United Arab Emirates was also able to succeed in changing the military and political equation in Libya and in imposing a reality that made the world stand with Abu Dhabi by demanding the expulsion of Turkey's militia from western Libya.

With the support of the Gulf states, Sudan is now in more secure than ever. With the mediation of the Gulf states, Morocco and Sudan entered the circle of peace with Israel. The Arab world's economic and military power is currently concentrated in the Arabian Gulf, and all Arab countries view Gulf Cooperation Council member-states as developed, successful, and prosperous.

It is clear that America will not undermine its own interests in the Gulf in order to favor Iran. However, what Washington should remember is that if the Gulf states are forced to make a firm decision, they will do so – just as they did during the Obama presidency.

In March 2011, the GCC responded to a request from Bahrain by sending its Peninsula Shield Force to assist the Bahraini government in defeating Iranian backed riots in the country, which were ostensibly supported by Obama's administration. Times like these cannot be forgotten, and now the Emirates and Bahrain have found a strong and resolute ally in Israel.

Over the years, this ally has not changed its position and has continued to refuse any negotiations with the Iranian regime. However, the US has and will continue to change its positions – and allies – with every change of presidency.

What needs to be made clear to Biden is that the Arab world understands that not much separates the Iranian regime from the Nazis – the only difference is that Iran is in the Middle East.

The Iranians have continuously proven to be fascist and racist towards all Arabs. Since the 1970s, the Iranians have occupied three of UAE's islands. Iran has murdered millions of Arabs by inflicting and supporting multiple wars, such as the ones in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, and it has supported every terrorist attack in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait.

The citizens as well as the governors of GCC member-states know that Israel was not responsible for blast explosions near the Kaaba, and it did not target Mecca with  missiles. Israel does not bankroll militias that kill people of Iraq and Yemen, nor did it occupy Syria, Ahwaz, and the Emirates Islands. Rather, Iran is responsible for all of the aforementioned atrocities and the ayatollahs continue to prove that they are the enemies of the Arab nations and of humanity at large.

Now is the time that we should unite in order to thrive together. We should stand together as one against one enemy. Regardless of Biden's suggestion return to square one by re-joining the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, we need to live in peace and prosperity and allow coexistence and mutual culture and religious understandings to thrive.


Amjad Taha  


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Former Shin Bet chief calls for Israel to 'initiate military operations against Iran' - Ariel Kahana and ILH Staff


​ by Ariel Kahana and ILH Staff

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avi Dichter cautions lack of Trump administration response to Iranian attacks on Saudi oil facilities taught Iranians that under Biden, they could achieve more.

Lawmakers to vote on contentious bill defining Israel as Jewish nation-state
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Avi Dichter (Likud)

In light of Iran's fast-moving efforts to develop a nuclear bomb, Likud MK and Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avi Dichter has called to "initiate serious operational moves, in the IDF in particular."

The comments followed an Israel Hayom report that the International Atomic Energy Agency had also found Iran was systematically violating the agreement and getting closer to obtaining a nuclear weapon.

According to Dichter, the lack of a US response under then-US President Donald Trump to the massive Iranian attack on Saudi oil facilities in 2019 taught the Iranians there would be no price to pay for ramping up their aggression in any arena and "instilled in them the belief that under a Biden administration, they could achieve more."

As a result of US restraint, Dichter said, the Iranians accelerated their deployment of militias, construction of long-range missiles, and uranium enrichment.

"They're already doing a lot, with the knowledge of the International Atomic Energy Agency, not to mention intelligence agencies, including ours."

Given the Americans' approach, Dichter warned Israel must prepare for military action.

"In the 1990s, the US fell asleep at the wheel and we got a North Korea with significant nuclear weapons. In that case, Israel could watch as the tragedy unfolded from the sidelines. If, God forbid, the American guard falls asleep on Iran, the Israeli bystander" must not stand idly by again, he said.

J Street Israel Executive Director Nadav Tamir countered that "since the Trump administration's unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear accord, Iran is on a trajectory of enriching uranium at a dangerous rate. We must remember that before the US withdrawal, the International Atomic Energy Agency determined Iran was adhering to the limits set by the accord."

He said, "In the absence of diplomacy, Iranians will suffer, but it won't be translated into a change in policy. Upon a return to the accord, the Biden administration intends to focus on the issue of ballistic missiles and Iran's regional subversion."


Ariel Kahana and ILH Staff  


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Parler CEO John Matze says he’s been terminated by board: ‘I did not participate in this decision’ - Brian Flood


​ by Brian Flood

"The future of Parler is no longer in my hands," Matze wrote

Parler's best option is to get 'real moderation' on their site to return: Stagwell Group president

 Parler has terminated CEO John Matze, according to a memo Matze sent to staffers that has been obtained by Fox News.

"On January 29, 2021, the Parler board controlled by Rebekah Mercer decided to immediately terminate my position as CEO of Parler. I did not participate in this decision," Matze wrote. "I understand that those who now control the company have made some communications to employees and other third parties that have unfortunately created confusion and prompted me to make this public statement."


Parler has terminated CEO John Matze, according to a memo Matze sent to staffers that has been obtained by Fox News. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Matze wrote that over the past few months he has been met with "constant resistance" to his original vision for the social media platform following Amazon Web Services' decision to shut Parler down for failure to moderate "egregious content" related to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

"Over the past few months, I’ve met constant resistance to my product vision, my strong belief in free speech and my view of how the Parler site should be managed. For example, I advocated for more product stability and what I believe is a more effective approach to content moderation," Matze wrote.

Parler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"I have worked endless hours and fought constant battles to get the Parler site running but at this point, the future of Parler is no longer in my hands," he continued. "I want to thank the Parler employees, the people on Parler and Parler supporters for their tireless work and devotion to the company. They are an amazing group of diverse, hardworking and talented individuals and I have the utmost respect for them. Many of them have become my second family."


Parler, a social media app that was widely embraced by Trump supporters because it favored free speech, saw a spike in users following Twitter’s permanent suspension of President Trump.

Parler has been down since Amazon Web Services cut it off and was expected to relaunch before the beginning of February but things were delayed. A Parler insider told Fox News the delay was caused by new branding and changes occurring within the company for the sake of stability.


Matze emerged as a star of conservative media amid the chaos surrounding his company being taken offline by Amazon, making regular cable news appearances to defend free speech.

Matze told staffers he will take a few weeks off before searching for a new venture.

"After that, I’ll be looking for new opportunities where my technical acumen, vision and the causes I am passionate about will be required and respected," he wrote. "I want to thank all the people of Parler that supported me and the platform. This has been the true American Dream: an idea from a living room to a company of considerable value. I’m not saying goodbye, just so long for now."

In addition to Amazon, Google and Apple have both suspended Parler from their respective app stores.


Brian Flood  


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Campus Hate Speech and its Use as a Tool Against Opposing Views - Richard L. Cravatts


​ by Richard L. Cravatts

The first victim in the corruption of academic free speech has been the truth.

“Everyone is in favor of free speech,” Winston Churchill once wryly observed. “Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.”

Churchill’s prescience is obvious on college campuses today, especially concerning how students, on the one hand, support the general principle of free speech but, when pressed further to reveal their attitudes, admit that certain classes of expression should be suppressed and proscribed—sometimes even punished. On campuses where identity politics has manifested itself in a protected language of victimization and members of historically marginalized” groups seek (and most often receive) protection from criticism and judgment, who may say what about whom is carefully controlled.

Part of that process has involved categorizing speech and deciding what speech is acceptable, which views are not to be challenged, what parameters there are to major issues affecting race, sexuality, religion, and ethnicity, issues with which students grapple on a regular basis. In their zeal to purge from campus any dissenting views which question the prevailing orthodoxies, students quickly learn how to use the status as a member of a victim group to insulate themselves from critique and opprobrium.

In that process, a new tactic has emerged, namely, the designation of certain expression of being what is called “hate speech,” a contrived category of speech that has the effect of making some views beyond the moral pale, outside of acceptable standards for dialogue, thoughts that, by their very nature, are to be prohibited and labeled as not deserving of First Amendment protection.

Unfortunately for students, of course, the courts have not agreed with their flawed opinion that some speech is illegal, that this new class of what is called hate speech does not enjoy the protection of free speech, and those who utter it ought to be exposed to ridicule, condemnation, and even punishment. Most frequently, accusations of hate speech are made against students and faculty who have not conformed to the prevailing progressive thought at today’s universities, conservatives who question and often debate the policies and ideology of those on the left who obsess about oppression and marginalization by the majority culture.

If fact, the left’s obsession with the woes of those they deem to be oppressed forms the basis of what Charles J. Sykes, author of A Nation of Victims, has called a culture of victimization. “On the campuses of elite universities,” Sykes wrote, “students quickly learn the grammar and protocols of power—that the route to moral superiority and premier griping rights can be gained most efficiently through being a victim.”

If they have not previously been aware of their victim status, then indoctrination about diversity, Sykes points out, quickly helps them assume that identity and exploit it for social gain.  “In the society of victims,” he writes, “individuals compete not only for rights or economic advantage but also for points on the ‘sensitivity’ index, where ‘feelings’ rather than reason are what count. Once feelings are established as the barometer of acceptable behavior, speech (and, by extension, thought) becomes only as free as the most sensitive group will permit.” [Emphasis added.]

Students know that they are violating the precepts of free speech yet feel such a radical step is necessary and worth it because, they feel, unrestrained expression may harm vulnerable individuals for whom speech now is seen as “violence,” It may make them feel “unsafe” on campus to have to listen to and confront the opposing views of others. They may feel further marginalized by having to react to and debate those who have other, competing views.

So, labeling certain speech as “hate speech” is an effective and powerful way to suppress the ideas of those who are one’s ideological foes. If someone is accused of uttering hateful speech, and their target is a vulnerable member of a historically marginalized group of under-represented students, the accusation that the person is committing a hate crime by articulating ideas is a powerful, if immoral, deterrent to actual debate and dialogue. What is alarming is how large a percentage of students have come to see restrictions on their own free speech as being a beneficial objective, that they are willing, even eager, to restrict their own expression and that of their peers to ensure that targeted minority groups are not harmed, made to feel unsettled, or otherwise maligned when participating in the marketplace of ideas.

A 2018 report produced by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-profit group that helps defend free speech on college campuses, for example, found that while, overall, students recognized the importance of First Amendment guarantees of free speech and expression, they mistakenly carved out exceptions to those protections by favoring diversity and inclusion over free speech rights—particularly when hateful speech was allegedly aimed at minority groups.

In fact, the study revealed, “Sixty percent of students responded that promoting an inclusive environment that is welcoming to a diverse group of students should be a more important priority than protecting students’ free speech rights, including hurtful or offensive speech.” More alarming was the finding that students were willing to give universities more control over what ideas could be expressed, and specifically when those ideas could potentially “injure” or discomfort members of victim groups. “More than half of students (57 percent),” the study found, “think colleges and universities should be able to restrict student expression of political views that are hurtful or offensive to certain students.”

A similar study by the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership at the University of Wisconsin, which surveyed 530 undergraduate students about their views on free speech and religious liberties, had similarly troubling findings, particularly the revelation that 63% of the respondents “believe government should punish hate speech,” and that “50% of students believe government should restrict the speech of racially insensitive people,” the “government,” in the case of students, being the respective universities they attend. And even though universities almost universally proclaim that they want their campuses to be places where unbridled free speech and robust debate are promoted and welcomed, the survey found that more than “35% [of student respondents] believe that public institutions should be allowed to revoke invitations to speakers who might offend someone.”

As apparently many students and faculty members fail to recognize, diversity and inclusion are important goals for universities, as is protecting members of marginalized groups, but the zeal to insulate campus victims from ideological harm should not, and cannot, involve relinquishing individuals’ rights to free speech, no matter how uncomfortable, corrosive, or even hateful that expression is.

The other major problem, of course, is, who has the right to decide what is and is not considered hate speech? Where does this right come from? Why should those individuals currently making these decisions, and labeling their ideological opponents as hateful, be listened to and their views accepted as reasonable, virtuous, or even worthy? Speech protection is most frequently requested from those in protected campus groups and their allies, so the speech most likely to be condemned as hateful is conservative thought.

Thus, when someone on a campus claims that “All Lives Matter” or that “Blue Lives Matter,” as has been said, are those examples of hate speech because they question the importance and virtue of the Black Lives Matter movement? Can the utility and equity of affirmative action be questioned without the speaker being accused of hate speech against black students? Can a professor be accused, similarly, of hateful thought for claiming that “black privilege” exists? Is it hate speech to deny that there is something called “white privilege”? That speech can be equivalent to violence? That racism is systemic in universities?

Is it hateful to speak against gay marriage or to be pro-life on a campus where women are predominantly pro-choice? Is it hateful to question whether Islam is actually the “Religion of Peace” but acceptable to call campus supporters of Israel racist for supporting what pro-Palestinians consider to be a brutal, apartheid, colonial occupier of stolen Muslim land? Is it hateful to link terrorism to Islam but not equally cruel to accuse Israeli Jews of being the new Nazis, something uttered promiscuously on campuses nationwide?

Should invited speakers like Ben Shapiro, David Horwitz, Charles Murray, Ann Coulter, Milo Yiannopoulos, Heather Mac Donald, and other conservatives be justifiably condemned as purveyors of hate speech and their speaking events disrupted or canceled, while former Black Panther and Marxist Angela Davis or plane hijacker and unrepentant terrorist Leila Khaled are welcomed on campus and speak without incident because their ideology is somehow seen as not hateful because its predominant theme is oppression?

These, and a myriad of other questions, can and should be vigorously debated and currently animate discussions on campus. It is obvious that by designating certain ideas as hate speech, campus progressives seek to suppress the ideas with which they disagree, making it unnecessary, of course, that they even have to defend their own views with facts, evidence, or common sense. That they are violating both the letter and spirit of free speech standards at their respective universities apparently is irrelevant or unknown to them. Thinking that they are virtuous, tolerant, woke, and morally superior, these social justice warriors feel empowered to suppress the views of their ideological foes, choosing rather than debating to simply shut down others’ speech and neutralize and condemn it as hate speech—thereby compromising what a university should and always has stood for: a vibrant, open place for dialogue, debate, and discussion of many viewpoints.

In 2014, The Committee on Freedom of Expression at the University of Chicago published what has come to be known as the Chicago Principles, a statement on academic freedom and free speech that has since been adopted by other universities and which anticipated, and cautioned against, the impulse to discard some speech as prohibited. “. . . [I]t is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.,” it stated. “Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.”

There is nothing unseemly about countering speech—even hateful speech—with more speech. In fact, as the Chicago statement correctly asserted, that is the very heart of the university’s mission. The claim of liberal students and faculty members is that they are seeking a greater civility on campus through reasoned academic discourse, but their real intention seems to be to create that civility by having only their side of the discussion heard—without the uncomfortable necessity of hearing other, dissenting views. Like many of their fellow academics, they proclaim widely the virtues of open expression, but only for those who utter those thoughts with which they agree. But true intellectual diversity—the ideal that is often bandied about but rarely achieved—must be dedicated to the protection of unfettered speech, representing opposing viewpoints, where the best ideas become clear through the utterance of weaker ones.

The university officials and student groups who now try to expel all thought that “they hate;” who proclaim their desire for campuses where there will be vigorous discourse, on contentious issues, from many points of view, but end up allowing the expression of only acceptable opinions; who label speech with which they do not agree as hateful, and demonize or shun the speakers who utter those alternate views; and who shout down, heckle, and bully their ideological opponents during on-campus events—all of these individuals have sacrificed one of the core values for which the university exists.

In their zeal to be inclusive, and to recognize the needs and aspirations of perceived victim groups, they have pretended to foster inquiry—a core purpose of the university—but they actually stifle and retard it.

And, as this otherwise noble purpose for the university has devolved, the first victim in the corruption of academic free speech has, unfortunately, been the truth.


Richard L. Cravatts,Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of Dispatches From the Campus War Against Israel and Jews. 


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Crucifying Jordan Peterson - Bruce Bawer


​ by Bruce Bawer

The Times of London does a hit job.


Jordan Peterson was a relatively unknown clinical psychologist and University of Toronto professor until his brave 2016 challenge to a draconian Canadian law on transgender pronouns drew widespread attention. Millions watched his brilliant, wide-ranging YouTube lectures about life, truth, feelings, personality, and values. For a while there he seemed ubiquitous, giving interviews and lectures around the world and, in the process, becoming the planet’s most famous living public intellectual. He published a massive bestseller, 12 Rules for Life.

Then, suddenly, he disappeared. For the last two years he’s been in medical hell, experiencing torturous pain and being brought to the brink of death by a puzzling malady that took him, in search of answers, to hospitals, clinics, and rehab centers in Canada, the U.S., Russia, and Serbia. Meanwhile his wife was diagnosed with a rare and deadly cancer from which she now seems, miraculously, to have recovered. On top of everything else, he, his wife, and his deeply devoted adult daughter all contracted the COVID virus.

Emerging from this nightmare and prepared to step back onto the public stage, Peterson agreed to a major interview with Decca Aitkenhead for the Sunday Times of London. The story appeared on January 31; on the same day, Peterson posted on YouTube a recording of the nearly three-hour Zoom conversations that he and his daughter, Mikhaila, had with Aitkenhead. In the recording (which as of Wednesday had accumulated half a million hits), Peterson is friendly and forthcoming, but emotionally fragile as a consequence of his long torment; at one point he breaks into tears and has to step away from the microphone. Mikhaila, for her part, spends an hour and a half telling Aitkenhead the full story of Peterson’s illness, complete with vivid particulars. And Aitkenhead poses throughout as entirely sympathetic, sounding more like a compassionate social worker than a journalist.

But – and this is why Peterson felt compelled to post the audio of the interview – Aitkenhead’s piece for the Times proved to be a masterpiece of pure snideness and dishonesty. She reduced Peterson’s deep learning and richly nuanced wisdom about life to “bracing advice about how to be a real man.” She caricatured the multitudes of people whose lives he’s helped to turn around as “young men who idolise him” as a “fantasy father figure.” Grotesquely simplifying and vulgarizing his message, she described him as “defend[ing] traditional masculine dominance.” Noting that his critics view Peterson as “the respectable face of reactionary misogyny, and a dangerous gateway drug to online alt-right radicalization,” she certainly seemed to agree.

Even worse than Aitkenhead on Peterson was Aitkenhead on Peterson’s daughter, who, as her father faced one health crisis after another, appears to have played a heroic role in scouring the globe for doctors who might understand what was going on and might know what needed to be done. Aitkenhead’s passages about this topic were one long sneer:

If this was a movie, its director would unquestionably be the 28-year-old Mikhaila Peterson, CEO of her father’s company. She and her Russian husband appear to have assumed full charge of his affairs, so before I am allowed to speak to him I must first talk to her. Unrecognisable from the ordinary-looking brunette from photos just a few years ago, Mikhaila today is a glossy, pouting Barbie blonde, and talks with the zealous, spiky conviction of a President Trump press spokeswoman.

Barbie? Trump? What? Where did this nastiness come from? And what’s Trump doing here? Admirers of Peterson who’ve heard him discuss his family in interviews know that Mikhaila herself grew up with a horrific illness that she overcame valiantly. Writing about that ordeal, Aitkenhead was dubious, almost flippant:

According to her website she has suffered from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disorder, since early childhood, which necessitated a hip and ankle replacement at 17. Other symptoms — chronic fatigue, depression, OCD, nose bleeds, restless legs, brain fog, itchy skin, the list goes on — forced her to drop out of university, “and it finally occurred to me that whatever was happening was likely going to end in my death, and rather soon. After almost 20 years, the medical community still had no answers for me.” So she decided to cure herself.

Eliminating everything from her diet except for red meat, Mikhaila found herself getting well. In 2018, Peterson adopted the diet too, and was pleased with the results. Good for them. I don’t pretend to know anything about these matters; all I know, without having looked into the details of their regimen, is that I don’t see any reason for them to lie about it, and that every indication is that Mikhaila is an estimable and conscientious woman who has at all times only wanted the best for her father. But for Aitkenhead, Mikhaila was, quite simply, a dangerous quack and Peterson a patsy.

In the recorded interview, Mikhaila, knowing she’s talking to a reporter, is at pains to get every detail right, down to the dosages of various drugs; but for Aitkenhead, the young woman’s impressive mastery of these specifics merits only mockery:

Like every medical autodidact I’ve ever met, Mikhaila rattles off pharmacological jargon at 100 miles an hour, sweeping from one outlandish tale to another with breathless melodrama that becomes increasingly exhausting to follow.…By now my head is spinning. The blizzard of obscure pharmaceutical terminology keeps on coming, as Mikhaila reels off the names of more antibiotics and antidepressants and antipsychotics prescribed to her father, recounting her objections to this one and that one until it all becomes a blur.

Well, one wants to say, nobody forced you to do the interview. Appallingly, Aitkenhead asserted that after her 80-minute conversation with Mikhaila, “the one thing of which I’m certain is that, were I as close to death as she assures me her father repeatedly was, this is not the person I would entrust with saving my life.”

The uncomfortable truth, however, seems to be that Mikhaila did save his life. These things happen. Jordan Peterson is not the only person with a mysterious malady ever to have been rescued by the tireless efforts of a fanatically determined loved one to track down just the right doctor, the right hospital, the right diagnosis, the right therapy. Some of us have learned through experience that, yes, doctors can be ignorant, stubborn, lazy, indifferent, or just plain busy, and that a smart layman willing to put in the work can learn a lot more about this or that recondite malady than an off-the-rack specialist is likely to know.

You might think that Aitkenhead would grasp this, and would recognize Mikhaila’s breathless account of Peterson’s medical journey as a story of the triumph of love and determination over even the most horrific of circumstances. But no. For her it’s all one big “medical circus.” For her, all that matters is that Mikhaila “doesn’t have any medical training.” Asked about this, Mikhaila replied that “because of my experience of being ill, I’ve done a lot of research. There’s this trust people have of doctors that I don’t have. Because doctors are just people, right?” On the tape Aitkenhead responds to this attitude with empathy; in the article, she mocked it: “This opinion is not uncommon in North America, where surprising numbers regard YouTube as a viable substitute for medical school.” Oh, those stupid North Americans! You’d think that Mikhaila, instead of simply making endless phone calls and writing endless e-mails to track down the right doctors, had prescribed drugs and performed surgery.

As dismissive as she was of Mikhaila’s efforts to find a proper diagnosis and cure for her father, Aitkenhead was eager to proffer her own diagnosis. What if his book tour – “a different lecture each night at 160 cities in 200 days,” during which was “busy dispensing advice to fans about their mental health” – crashed his mental health? Could “toxic masculinity…have been a culprit”? Could his illness be the price he paid “for his bootstrap philosophy”? She also seems deliberately to have tried to get everybody to think that Peterson is schizophrenic – a lie that media around the world have repeated in the last few days.

Aitkenhead palpably relished the idea “that when life became excruciatingly stressful, Peterson’s stand up, man up, suck it up mentality didn’t work” – that “when the most famous public intellectual on the planet was preaching a regime of order and self-discipline, he was privately in chaos.” In fact, the tale of how Mikhaila went the extra mile – thousands of miles, really – to save the life of her father is something right out of a Jordan Peterson lecture. So, for that matter, is Peterson’s ability during his spin through hell to write a whole new book, Beyond Order, which is about to be published.

But for Aitkenhead all of this was little more than a good excuse for her to mention once again the 45th president of the United States: “Parallels with Donald Trump come to mind; another unhappy man closed off from his emotions, projecting strong man mythology while hunkered down in a bunker with his family against the world.” No one who has seen a representative sampling of Peterson’s online lectures and interviews – or who has heard him break into tears on the recording of his conversation with Aitkenhead – could ever describe him as “projecting strong man mythology” or as an “unhappy man closed off from his emotions.”

As of Wednesday evening, Aitkenhead’s interview had garnered almost three thousand comments, almost all of them justifiably accusing her of misrepresentation and slander and calling her article a “hatchet piece.” A reader named Russell Sharpe commented: “If anyone were in any doubt why people nowadays go to longform podcasts for intelligent reflection on contemporary issues rather than to the legacy media, where they know to expect only conventional platitudes, disinformation and lies, then a comparison of this article with the unedited audio interview now available on Mikhaila Peterson's YouTube channel would be a good place to start.” 

One commenter was puzzled as to how Aitkenhead could be so heartless, given her own personal history. Knowing nothing about Aitkenhead, I looked her up. It turned out that she has had cancer – and, moreover, like Mikhaila Peterson, has challenged orthodox medical treatment. In 2016, she wrote for the Guardian about her discovery that “there are ways to ease” the horrors of chemotherapy “that feature in none of the official advice.” Despite her mockery of Mikhaila’s all-meat diet, Aitkenhead herself, in her 2016 article, urged chemo patients to fast, citing an arcane study’s preliminary finding that “periods of severe fasting significantly increased the efficacy of chemotherapy.”

That’s not all. In 2016, Aitkenhead published a memoir, All at Sea, about her ten-year relationship with a man named Tony who couldn’t have been more different from Jordan Peterson. I will quote from it at some length because her relationship with this thoroughly vile fellow is fascinating when viewed in light of her ugly take on Peterson. Tony, she wrote, began his career as “a highly proficient hustler” in Soho, London, where he haunted “the clip joints and late-night illegal drinking dens, promising fictional pornographic beauties to gullible tourists and passing off bags of tea leaves for cannabis, before disappearing into the shadows with pockets crammed full of cash.” After shooting up some pimps and spending five years in prison for it – mostly in solitary because of his hyperaggressive personality – he “became a violent gangster who made a lot of money out of drugs, gunrunning, protection and so forth,” although eventually, after marrying and having a daughter, he “wound up the more ostentatiously lawless aspects of his criminal lifestyle, and confined his business concerns to the discreet wholesale trade of cocaine.” Somewhere along the way he became a crack addict.

Then Aitkenhead entered the picture. She and her husband, Paul, were Tony’s neighbors in London, and while Paul was away in Afghanistan, she and Tony grew intimate. “Why I did not find [his crack addiction] more off-putting was a puzzle,” she claims. But he had such “magnetism.” Also, “charm.” Plus “beauty, mesmerizing to the point of hypnotic.” Aitkenhead even admits that she may have been attracted to Tony not despite but because of his criminality. “I very much hoped it was the former,” she wrote, “and thus pleasing proof of my good liberal credentials. I worried that it could be the latter, and nothing but the cheap thrill of vicarious transgression.”

Of course, the whole thing was a cliché: white lefty journo falls for black “bad boy.” Her attraction to criminals and drugs was hardly a secret: she’d written a whole book, The Promised Land: Travels in Search of the Perfect E (2002), about (to quote a Guardian review) her “global quest for the perfect ecstasy tab,” which led her to some of the seamier corners of South Africa, Thailand, Detroit, San Francisco, and Amsterdam, and into the company of “leading figures in the drug gangs.” Anyway, Tony and Aitkenhead left their spouses and spent ten years together until, on vacation in Jamaica, Tony was swept out to sea while trying to rescue one of their two sons (who survived).

To judge by the testimony of Aitkenhead, the woman who loved him, the best thing you can say about Tony is that he perished while performing a selfless act. But he lived the life of a total creep, profiting from doing great harm to others. In this regard he was the polar opposite of a man like – oh, let’s see – Jordan Peterson. Which raises a question: what to make of a woman like Decca Aitkenhead, whose moral compass appears to point due south? She hooked up – and had two kids – with a total reprobate, knowing that he’d brought pure evil into heaven knows how many lives; but she’s capable of cruelly ridiculing a man who’s done so much good for so many people and who’s still laboriously climbing out of the pit of hell.

How exactly does that work? Is Aitkenhead so defined by the most fatuous and ethically perverse kind of leftist ideology that she’s capable of finding an appealing rebelliousness in a savage monster like Tony but can only be outraged by an extraordinarily sensitive and gentle soul who speaks eloquently about personal responsibility and who openly struggles to practice it, even when times are toughest? Does Peterson’s day-to-day struggle to be a better husband, father, friend, teacher, neighbor, and fellow citizen strike too close to home for this woman who wrote a book about her struggle to find the best tab of Ecstasy? Does she experience his very life, which has been focused for decades on helping other people to be better human beings, as a personal rebuke to her own life, which for a long time, anyway, was by her own account focused on the most puerile kind of self-indulgence? Has his determination to dig deeper and deeper into himself, in a preternatural attempt to comprehend, to correct, and to cultivate, shamed her own chronic superficiality?

How else to explain someone who, having lived for ten years with an odious thug like Tony, manages to see Jordan Peterson, of all people, as an embodiment of toxic masculinity?

Or is Aitkenhead, when you come right down to it, just one more supremely callous – indeed, sociopathic – left-wing hack who will destroy anyone to get a juicy story? Maybe it’s really just that. Let’s face it: when you look at what the New York Times and The Washington Post have been doing every day for the last few years, why should any of us be surprised that the Times of London is capable of running a surpassingly disingenuous profile of someone whose greatest offense is being a good man?

Can it be that we owe Aitkenhead, and the Times, a debt of gratitude for showing us just how nakedly hostile the leftist media are, in 2021, to sheer decency?

Investigating Aitkenhead’s background, I ran across one curiosity. A Guardian review by Ian Penman of her Ecstasy book began as follows: 

Where is Decca Aitkenhead's The Promised Land coming from? Is it a drugs book? Traveller's confessional? Political reportage? All, or none, of the above? There ought to be a German word for it: gimmickschwerk, say. In an ingeniously disingenuous introduction to a determinedly tentative book, Aitkenhead claims that even she doesn't really know for sure any more.

Reading this, I was reminded immediately of the opening lines of Aitkenhead’s piece on Peterson:

I thought this was going to be a normal interview with Jordan Peterson. After speaking with him at length, and with his daughter for even longer, I no longer have any idea what it is. I don’t know if this is a story about drug dependency, or doctors, or Peterson family dynamics — or a parable about toxic masculinity. Whatever else it is, it’s very strange.

Yes, very strange. Very strange indeed.


Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Fellow of the David Horowitz Freedom Center.


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Progressives Cry 'Insurrection' and 'Treason' - Don Feder


​ by Don Feder

But who is really threatening our survival as a free people?


“You’re a traitor,” the left bellows. “It’s an insurrection." But don’t sweat it. Progressives merely want to demonize their opponents, crush free speech, stage witch hunts, and destroy as many lives as possible in the process.

The left is on a roll. It has practical control of both houses of Congress as well as the presidency, with Joe Biden pirouetting to a lively tune played by Bernie, AOC and Kamala, as Big Tech and Big Media cheer from the sidelines.  So why not censorship, shaming and ostracism?

The House that Pelosi built impeached Donald Trump again, this time after he left office, essentially for words he spoke – saying he won the 2020 election and urging his supporters to fight certification of the electoral vote.

Oh, that and January 6, when an “insurrectionist mob breached the Capitol building, vandalizing federal property and taking selfies on the floor of the Senate,” PBS hyperventilated. Insurrection, like an attempt to overthrow the government -- by protestors taking selfies?

Apparently, that’s all it takes to overthrow a government with 1.3 million active-duty military personnel armed with nuclear missiles, stealth fighters, battleships, tanks and all the rest.

It’s said that some of the “insurrectionists” inside the Capitol came from a Trump rally on the Ellipse that had a festive atmosphere, with children playing ball while parents cheered speeches. “Allons enfants de la Patrei, let’s storm the Bastille! And, while we’re at it, let’s bring the kids along. Afterward, we can take them to a puppet show and get ice cream.”

The cries of treason and demands for censorship are too loud to ignore. A group of self-styled publishing professionals (mostly hack writers and mailroom clerks) have signed an open letter demanding that publishers shun books by former Trump administration officials. The manifesto was originally titled “No Book Deals for Traitors.”

A Washington Post opinion writer had nice things to say about the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts, by which the Federalists tried to suppress the speech of their opponents in time for the election of 1800.

Those urging boycotts of conservative media outlets and de-platforming once were content with calling us bitter-clingers and incorrigibles. Now the Post’s media columnist demands that advertisers “walk away from FOX News,” because of its “role in the 400,000 lives lost to the pandemic and (watch out, here it comes) the disastrous attack of January 6.”

All the left has to do is level an accusation, use the magic words “January 6” or “insurrection” and any one of us can find ourselves accused of treason.

Of course, when urban centers went up in flames throughout the spring and summer (property damage estimated between $1 billion and $2 billion), when cops were murdered, when rioters tried to storm federal buildings and when so-called autonomous zones were being set up, there was not a word of protest from the guardians of constitutional government.

Then candidate Biden insisted Antifa wasn’t really an organization but just an idea. He’s yet to say anything at all about Black Lives Matter, just nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, in perhaps the ultimate irony.  And now he’s singing its refrain, when he bloviates about America’s “deep racial inequalities.”

Remember Antifa’s chant: “No borders. No wall. No USA at all.” What do you suppose that was about? A call for reform?

Nancy Pelosi, who says “the enemy is within the House of Representatives” (she means Republican Reps), doesn’t care how many people lost their livelihoods when their businesses burned to the ground (or how many died when cities slashed police budgets in response to rioters’ demands), but should someone put their feet on her sacred desk – and it’s a threat to the very foundations of the republic.

The same people who told us that refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance was patriotic are now telling us that complaining about election fraud is treason.

Progressives define treason not as an attempt to change the nature of our government (Obama said he wanted to “fundamentally transform America”) by mob action or elite subversion. They don’t mean Jane Fonda’s 1972 trip to Hanoi, where she provided aid and comfort to an enemy that had killed more than 50,000 Americans. They don’t mean the president’s son taking gobs of money from the Chinese Communists (with 10% set aside for the big guy), the principal threat to our security for the rest of this century.

Nope. When they say treason, they mean opposition to their ideology: abortion that blends into infanticide, boys in girls’ bathrooms, white-coat fascism, the destruction of domestic energy production in the name of global warming and open borders.

Traitors would include the Keystone pipeline worker who bemoans the loss of a high-paying job, those who fail to pay homage at the shrine of Anthony Fauci, and bigots who adhere to Judeo-Christian values.

By conducting cultural purges, staging Congressional show trials, and trying to regulate speech, progressives are the real threat our existence as a free people.

Coming soon, the House Committee on Un-Pelosi Activities.


Don Feder  


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'Nuclear war with China or Russia a very real possibility,' top US general warns - News Agencies and ILH Staff


​ by News Agencies and ILH Staff

Adm. Charles Richard, head of US Strategic Command, stressed that while the prospect of nuclear war is "low," it is not "impossible, particularly in a crisis." The assessment comes as the US and Russia extended the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty for five years.

A top US general warned Wednesday that there was a "real possibility" the United States could end up in a nuclear conflict with China or Russia.

Adm. Charles Richard, the head of US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) issued this stark assessment in an article published in the February edition of the US Naval Institute. According to a report on Fox News, Richard further called on military and federal leaders to reimagine the United States' methods of deterring aggressive action from its rivals.

Richard, whose command is responsible, among other things, for the US's strategic and nuclear deterrence, wrote that while the prospect of nuclear war was currently "low," it is not "impossible, particularly in a crisis," he maintained.

The admiral warned that China and Russia have "begun to aggressively challenge international norms" in "ways not seen since the height of the Cold War." Richard cited a rise in cyberattacks and "threats in space," as well as their investment in advanced arms such as nuclear weapons.

He added that the acceleration of Russia and China's strategic capabilities and witnessing the progress they have been able to make were "sobering."

"China continues to make technological leaps in capabilities in every domain," Richard wrote. "Across its conventional weapons systems, it continues to invest significant resources in hypersonic and advanced missile systems, as well as to expand its space and counter-space capabilities."

The admiral further explained that although China has maintained a No First Use policy with regard to nuclear weapons since the 1960s, it has, however, pursued a buildup of advanced capabilities.

"There is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state," he continued.

"Consequently, the US military must shift its principal assumption from 'nuclear employment is not possible' to 'nuclear employment is a very real possibility,' and act to meet and deter that reality. We cannot approach nuclear deterrence the same way. It must be tailored and evolved for the dynamic environment we face."

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced that the White House and the Kremlin have extended the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) for five years.

US President Joe Biden "pledged to keep the American people safe from nuclear threats by restoring US leadership on arms control and nonproliferation," he said in a statement.

"Today, the United States took the first step toward making good on that pledge when it extended the New START Treaty with the Russian Federation for five years," he added.

The New START was signed in April 2010, shortly after the expiration of START I treaty between the US and the USSR.

The accord places a cap of 1,550 on the maximum number of strategic nuclear warheads either of the sides can have deployed.

After the administration of former President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the New START is the last remaining arms reduction pact between the former Cold War rivals.

"We will also pursue arms control to reduce the dangers from China's modern and growing nuclear arsenal," Blinked said in Wednesday's statement.

i24NEWS contributed to this report.


News Agencies and ILH Staff  


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Increasing number of Israelis defeat cancer, Health Ministry says - Dan Lavie


​ by Dan Lavie

Israel ranks 45th on the list of the world's 50 countries with the most cancer patients, but has a relatively low mortality rate, ranking in the 89th place out of 90 countries with the highest number of fatal cancer cases.

Ahead of World Cancer Day, marked on Thursday, the Health Ministry released encouraging data showing that there has been a decrease in cancer mortality rates in Israel over the past 20 years, as well as a drop in the number of new cancer patients.,

According to the Israeli Cancer Association, the Jewish states ranks 45th on the list of the world's 50 countries with the most cancer patients. However, it did rank relatively low on the list of mortality rates, 89th place out of 90 countries with the highest number of fatal cancer cases.

"This indicates that the disease is being detected at an early stage and treated with effective and up-to-date methods," director of the Israel Center for Disease Control Prof. Lital Keinan-Boker said.

According to the National Cancer Registry data, 31,000 Israelis were diagnosed with cancer in 2018, of whom approximately 27,000 had invasive cancer.

Men were most commonly diagnosed with prostate and lung cancer. Women were most often diagnosed with breast cancer.

Some 11,000 Israelis died of invasive cancer in 2018. The most common cause of death for men was lung cancer, for women, breast cancer.

The risk of cancer mortality is higher for men than for women. Between 1996 and 2018, there's been a significant decrease in cancer mortality for both genders.

Besides lung and prostate cancer, men were diagnosed with colon, rectal and bladder cancers, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

As for blood cancer, the main cause of which is smoking, despite the early diagnoses, the survival and morbidity rates between 1996 and 2018 have not changed.

Some 401 patients died from bladder cancer in Israel in 2018, 77% of whom were men. The mortality rate among men is four times higher than women.


Dan Lavie  


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Thursday, February 4, 2021

Biden Administration Trying to Fix Obama’s Syria Blunders With the Same Team That Created Them - Samir A. Zedan


​ by Samir A. Zedan

They believe recognizing your mistakes is self-forgiveness.


With Antony Blinken confirmed by the US Senate as the new Secretary of State, some analysts hope US policy in Syria will not revert to what it was when Obama was in office. This came in the wake of reports that US tanks had rolled back into Syria a few days ago, reversing Trump’s policy of ending military involvement in that conflict.

The fiasco of Obama’s Syria policy benefited no one involved and served no US interest. The Syrian people paid the highest price for this tragedy. ISIS managed to crush all Assad’s opposition, as it turned a vast area in Iraq and Syria into an Islamic state, while many of the US’s traditional allies turned a blind eye.

Even worse, an influx of Muslim terrorists from Europe into Syria was allowed by Turkey, which stood on the sidelines while Syrian forces and the US-backed SDF faced off against ISIS. The Syrian people’s initial revolt against Assad began to wane once it became apparent that the United States was not serious about bringing any meaningful change to the country.

However, the takfiri ideology of ISIS and other anti-Assad groups caused alarm among Arab regimes, since it was perceived as the true teaching of Islam by many Muslims. Nevertheless, the Biden administration is expected to continue economic sanctions against Syria, hoping to increase pressure on the Assad regime to negotiate with the opposition.

Excited at the prospect of a Biden presidency, Iran mounted a PR campaign designed to project strength and defiance, Syria seems trying to project similar euphoria by claiming that “it learned that it is easy to say ‘no’ to the U.S.

Here in the United States, USAID is expected to play a more active role in trying to alleviate the suffering of Syrian refugees scattered through Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. With Blinken at the helm of the State Department, the US might wish to trim off Iran and Russia’s influence.

However, given that the US faces challenges to keep the pandemic under control and rebuild alliances with some NATO members, President Biden will want to address Iran’s nuclear program, while taking into account Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE’s concerns.

Now more than ever, a regional alliance that includes Israel and some Gulf states will not easily accept the United States returning unconditionally to the Iran nuclear deal.

This could also explain why Iran is trying to reach out to Saudi Arabia, despite their major rifts regarding the Islamic Republic’s interference in Yemen, which does not seem as if it is going to end anytime soon.

At the start of the Syrian civil war, Obama could not know that his attempt to rely on the Muslim Brotherhood group to bring about change in the region was going to end in disappointment.

But now, bitterness over this disappointment is widespread in the Biden administration, as many of its members played a crucial role in causing that failure. They tend to follow the saying of “recognizing your mistakes is also called self-forgiveness.”

Robert Ford, the former US ambassador in Syria, who once bragged about his popularity among the Syrian people while visiting Syrian cities without the regime’s knowledge, is among the pioneers who made efforts to topple the Assad regime. He remains a strong influencer within the new US administration and a potential candidate for many of the remaining senior vacant appointments.

Nevertheless, the new Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has said he feels the need to try different approaches. He may very well rely on those State officials who have previously served during several administrations, and who argue that they have learned valuable lessons from previous experiences and would like to take part in shaping a new US policy on Syria.

It is hoped that the US is fully aware that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, and Egypt are in agreement about the need to retain the Assad government.

It is also expected that US officials will likely work with other European allies to give diplomacy an important role, despite the fact the recent US military buildup inside Syria sends contradictory signals.

The US will always find in ISIS a convenient pretext to justify that military presence, but it will also have to avoid any confrontation with the Assad regime. Russia’s military investment in Syria (mainly in the Mediterranean base in Tartus and Latakia and the airbase in Hmeimim) cannot be overlooked by the Biden’s team.

Last and by all means not least, as part of lifting the restrictions on the Syrian refugees seeking asylum under the political asylum program, the Biden administration is expected to allow more Syrians to settle within the US, while the “Islamic Emirate of Idlib” inside Syria will enjoy greater humanitarian aid.


Samir A. Zedan is a former Senior Counter-Terrorism Analyst at the US Department of State, and a former Development Outreach and Communication Specialist at USAID/Iraq. He has contributed to hundreds of articles published in major media outlets with assignments in the Palestinian Areas, Israel, Jordan, Iraq, and Europe.


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Israel could find itself alone against Iran - Oded Granot


​ by Oded Granot

Qatari-Iranian relations have not been severed and the Saudis are more concerned with ending the war in Yemen. Meanwhile, only Israel views an Iranian bomb as an existential threat.

Iran's calculated move, intended to prod the Biden administration to quickly return to the 2015 nuclear deal, was successful this week because of the three strong cards it put on the table: threatening to continue enriching uranium at high grades; activating new and fast centrifuges at Natanz; restricting the International Atomic Energy Agency's access to its nuclear facilities.

This success was evidenced, among other things, in interviews granted by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Instead of warning Iran that the US would not reopen nuclear talks if Iran doesn't immediately and unconditionally halt these severe violations, he chose instead to echo the intimidation. At this rate, so he said, Iran could make a breakthrough toward a nuclear bomb within several weeks. In other words: We need to hurry up.

The frustrating aspect of this story is that alongside Iran's recent violations of the nuclear agreement, which indeed draw it closer to building an atomic bomb (even if it would take longer than a few weeks), the Iranians are also showing no willingness to consider an improved, longer-term nuclear deal that would be more resistant to violations. 

They insist on returning to the old deal and aren't prepared to revisit any of its clauses, while also opposing any negotiations pertaining to their ballistic missiles or subversive activities in the region. If that wasn't enough, meanwhile, the Iranians are also demanding that the US make the first move: lifting the harsh sanctions imposed on them by the Trump administration since withdrawing from the deal in 2018. If the Americans ask nicely, maybe the Iranians will agree to a mutual gesture. In other words, trust-building measures, by both sides at the same time.

No one should envy the new administration's task of handling the Iranian nuclear problem. Mutuality in the eyes of the Iranians means they can cease the violations at any moment, but the Biden administration will need, for example, to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the list of organizations that support terrorism, annul the sanctions imposed on Iran's central bank, oil exports and on companies wishing to do business with Iran; and all this for what, exactly? Going back to the old nuclear deal?

The Biden administration publicly vowed to consult with Congress and America's friends in the Middle East before taking any significant steps regarding Iran. In Congress, even among the Democrats, are many who oppose returning to the old nuclear deal. They believe doing so would be a mistake that would only jeopardize the interests of America and its allies.

However, as it pertains to America's friends in the Middle East, the Biden administration could discover the task isn't impossible. The reason: On the anti-Iran front, the first signs of cracks are showing.

For instance, the reconciliation between Qatar and its neighbors, aimed at weakening Qatar's ties with Iran (which had grown very strong over the three and half years Qatar was boycotted by the Sunni states, chief among them Saudi Arabia), not only failed to sever the relations between the two, it did the opposite. The Qataris are now offering their services to mediate between Washington and Tehran.

The Abraham Accords, too, which were meant to entrench a robust anti-Iran alliance through normalization treaties between Israel and Gulf states, may not have realized their purpose. The reason: Israel views Iran's nuclearization process as an existential threat it cannot tolerate under any circumstances, while Saudi Arabia, for example, is currently more preoccupied with trying to improve its image in the eyes of the Biden administration and trying to find a face-saving exit from the never-ending war in Yemen, in its backyard, which has taken a severe toll on the Saudi treasury.

Consequently, Israel could struggle to confront the Biden administration on a return to the nuclear deal, particularly after the Jewish state was already granted power of attorney, if you will, to act out of the Sunni Gulf states, and will have to, perhaps alone, try convincing the new administration that enriching uranium beyond 20%, activating more advanced centrifuges and accumulating 30 tons of yellowcake signal more than anything that the Iranians are racing toward a bomb -- not medical isotopes.


Oded Granot  


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