Friday, November 19, 2021

'Israel will act on its own against Iran if necessary,' senior official says - Ariel Kahan and JNS

 

​ by Ariel Kahan and JNS

With IAEA set to issue critical report on Iran, diplomatic officials say Vienna talks may not go ahead as planned. In historic first, Israel takes part in joint Red Sea naval drill with the US, the UAE, and Bahrain.

 

'Israel will act on its own against Iran if necessary,' senior official says

Two weeks before talks on Iran's nuclear program are set to restart in Vienna, Israel is making clear it plans to kick its independent efforts to stop Iran up a notch.

A senior diplomatic official said Israel's goal was to ensure Iran was prevented from ever becoming a nuclear state.

He said Israel would act independently as necessary. As part of this effort, Jerusalem has begun to build up its military so as to have the ability to contend with the challenge posed by Iran in both the nuclear arena but also its efforts to undermine regional stability.

He said Israel would contend with the challenge in a multidimensional manner to instill a sense of desperation among officials in Tehran.

Diplomatic officials, however, are of the mindset the talks may not be held at all.

With Iran is now in violation of the 2015 nuclear accord and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi is expected to issue a critical report of Tehran's policies during his visit to the Islamic Republic next week. Israeli officials believe such a report could provide Iran with an excuse to call off the talks at the last minute.

Iranian entrenchment activities in the Middle East are occurring at sea as well as on land, an Israeli Navy official said, as Israel for took part in a joint Red Sea naval drill with the United States, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain for the first time.

The historic joint exercise, held last week under the auspices of the US Fifth Fleet, occurred as Iran held a major war exercise near the Strait of Hormuz, a naval chokepoint where some 20% of the world's oil passes through.

That exercise included Iranian military drills in the Arab Gulf and the Arabian Sea.

The Red Sea exercise, meanwhile, simulated "basic" scenarios and boosted maritime security, said the Israeli naval official. "We exchanged information together. There will be more advanced exercises."

While Iran is trying to deter and project power, Israel was working on cooperation, the official said.

Israel faces an ongoing terror threat at sea, he said, that included Iran's efforts toward entrenchment through its proxies.

"We have to deal with the safety of the sea and keep it a safe dimension. Not just for Israel, which we are concerned with, but for all the countries around us," he stated.

In describing Iranian threats, the officer drew attention to the July 30 drone attack on the Mercer Street oil tanker off the Oman coast that killed a British security guard and the ship's Romanian captain.

"We are dealing with Iranian terror in many dimensions. The Mercer Street [attack] was a brutal terror act on an innocent vessel, and at the end of the day, two people were killed," said the official.

That attack made clear the fact that Iran's conduct "can also be a problem for other countries on land and at sea," he said. "We're not the only ones feeling this threat. We see other places where those [Iranian] UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles] are being fired in this arena in many countries. This is not just a threat to Israel. It's a challenge for the area."

The drill was made possible thanks to the US putting Israel under the responsibility of its Central Command, which covers the Middle East, and away from EUCOM, in September.

Senior US and Israeli defense officials, including Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of CENTCOM; Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of the US Fifth Fleet, which is headquartered in Bahrain; Israel Defense Forces' Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi; and Israeli Navy Commander Vice Adm. David Sa'ar Salama formulated a program of joint naval training in recent months.

The Fifth Fleet's umbrella coalition maritime forces are currently made up of 34 countries; Israel is set to become its 35th member.

Israeli and American naval vessels trained together in the Aqaba Gulf on Aug. 31 in an exercise involving the Fifth Fleet, but the Israeli naval official said this latest drill was the most important collaboration of its kind to date.

He described scenes of Israeli Navy officers and sailors meeting with Bahraini, Emirati, and American counterparts onboard the same ships. The US Navy's USS Portland Landing Platform Dock took part in the drill.

"This will increase cooperation and the safety of the Red Sea—but not just the Red Sea," said the official.

"This is the beginning of cooperation which will be conducted in stages under the planning that we did together. What is beautiful about the sea is that, for many years, it has been easier to create partnerships and cooperation there," the source said. "The sea is further away from land, and sometimes it is not visible to the eye. It is a different dimension."

JNS.org contributed to this report.

 

Ariel Kahan and JNS

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/11/18/israel-ramps-up-efforts-to-stop-iran-in-its-tracks/

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The fallacy of 1,300 'obstacles to peace' in Middle East - Micha Danzig

 

​ by Micha Danzig

The truth is that the "obstacle to peace" in the Arab-Israeli conflict before 1967 is the same obstacle that since 1937 has caused every Palestinian Arab leader to reject six different peace and partition plans that would have created the first independent Arab state west of the Jordan River.

Recently, much of the so-called "international community" has waxed apoplectic about a recent announcement by the Israeli government that it approved 1,300 additional apartments to be built and sold in Judea and Samaria (more commonly referred to as the West Bank).

Given the well-documented (by CNNABCCBSNBCAl JazeeraReutersThe Independent, etc.) outcry over the Israeli announcement, one would think that the Israeli government had announced its approval to build 1,300 additional Jewish cities or communities ("settlements") in Judea and Samaria, and not just 1,300 new apartments in existing Jewish communities.

That's right. At a time when Syria executed 24 people under the pretense that they were "arsonists," Iran is executing a gay couple for "adultery," at least 80 people were massacred during an Islamist terrorist attack in West Niger, the Nigerian government is violently waging war against the Igbo and with coronavirus deaths surging once again in Russia and China, much of the mainstream media and many American and European politicians were expressing great distress about 1,300 roughly 900-square-foot apartments being built in six existing Israeli cities in Judea and Samaria.

Perhaps to justify this disproportionate reaction to the building of fewer apartments than one would find in two to three buildings in downtown LA, the various news articles, talking heads on cable TV and numerous politicians spoke with tremendous certitude about two things: 1) how "illegal" these 1,300 apartments are under "international law"; and 2) how it's these apartments and presumably, really, the Jews who will have the temerity to live in them, that are the "obstacle to peace."

The problem is that both of these claims are complete and utter nonsense. Nevertheless, that doesn't stop many world leaders and many mainstream news networks from repeating these claims over and over again as if they are black-letter laws.

One such example occurred on Oct. 29 when Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney was on CNN and pronounced that Jewish "settlements" "built on territories in the West Bank" are "illegal" under the "4th Geneva Convention" because it "forbids the transfer of civilians." In addition to making this assertion to CNN's entire audience, as if it was no more controversial than claiming that the earth is round, Coveney added that it is these "settlements" that are "making a two-state solution and a peace process more and more distant and more and more difficult."

The Geneva Conventions of 1949, which were the basis for these "international law" claims by the Irish foreign minister, were drafted to prevent the kinds of deplorable forcible deportations and mass transfers of peoples perpetrated by Nazi Germany during World War II. They are, however, completely inapplicable to how Israel came into control of Judea and Samaria.

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention cited by Coveney, in order for territory to be "occupied," it must be conquered by force from an existing sovereign state. But Judea and Samaria were never part of any recognized sovereign state because Jordan conquered it in 1949 as part of the Arab League's collective war to annihilate Israel in 1948 and Jordan's attempted annexation of Judea and Samaria (after it renamed the territory the "West Bank") was rejected by every country in the world, other than the British.

Moreover, even if Judea and Samaria was presently "occupied territory," Coveney's cite to the Geneva Convention for the proposition that Jews living in Judea is "illegal" (because Article 49 prohibits the "transfer of civilians" by the "occupying power") is simply wrong. Nowhere in Article 49 does it say that civilians can't voluntarily move to live in "occupied territory." Nor does it require "occupying powers" to make it difficult or burdensome for their civilians to reside in these territories.

That is particularly the case here, where Israel did not gain control of Judea and Samaria from any Palestinian Arab state or polity, but in a defensive war launched against Israel by Jordan. A war in 1948 that Jordan and the Arab League indisputably started and where Jordan literally ethnically cleansed all of the Jews from the territories it had conquered as a result.

To say that it would somehow be "illegal" for Jewish citizens of Israel to voluntarily move back into the homes, neighborhoods and villages that Jews had inhabited in Judea and Samaria before 1949 simply because Israel in 1967 gained control of that territory in a war started by Jordan would be a complete perversion of international law and the Geneva Conventions. That is especially so when you apply that perverted claim to assert that Jews can't even pray at their holiest sites in the Old City of Jerusalem or live in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, where Jews have lived for centuries until they were expelled from the Jewish Quarter by the Jordanian Army in 1949.

Moreover, even if the Fourth Geneva Convention didn't require land to be taken from a sovereign member of the Conventions in order to be considered "occupied," the repeated claim that Judea and Samaria and the Old City of Jerusalem are "occupied Palestinian territory" would be fallacious. To put it plainly, these lands were never – at any point in time in history – part of a Palestinian Arab country or polity of any kind. In fact, the last time these lands were even under the control of an Arab empire was in the 11th century. These territories are thus far more accurately described as "disputed territories."

Notably, when Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria and Egypt controlled Gaza, no one – not even the leaders of the Palestinian Arabs – called out for those lands to be "liberated." In fact, the PLO's original charter (in 1964) expressly disclaimed any sovereignty interest in either the West Bank or Gaza. Back then, the only land they claimed needed "liberation" was land that Jordan, Syria and Egypt had not been able to conquer and control in the 1948 war.

Why? How is land – when it is controlled by Egyptians governing from Cairo or Jordanians governing from Amman – not considered by the PLO (or by so many apparent international-law experts) to be "Palestinian territory," but it magically transformed into "Palestinian territory" needing "liberation" after it came under the control of Israelis governing from Jerusalem?

Finally, why is it that the Irish foreign minister and so many others in the "international community" feel so comfortable expressing the idea that Jews and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are an "obstacle to peace" while nearly 2 million Arabs living in Israel are not an "obstacle to peace"? Why is it so clear for people like Coveney and so acceptable for his interviewer at CNN to hear that Jews living in Judea is what somehow makes peace impossible? Or that in order for there to be a first-ever independent Palestinian Arab state in the history of the world west of the Jordan River, it must first be Judenrein ("free of Jews")?

Sadly, I think almost everyone knows the answer to these questions. It is because everyone expects that Arabs can continue to live in peace and prosperity in democratic Israel (sadly, the only place in the entire MENA where Arab citizens have the right to vote, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, etc.), though almost no one believes that a Jewish minority could live in peace and prosperity in any new Arab state that would be created out of the Palestinian Authority's and Hamas's war for control of the land.

The truth is that the "obstacle to peace" in the Arab-Israeli conflict before 1967 (before there were any "occupied territories") is the same "obstacle to peace" now. It is the same "obstacle to peace" that since 1937 has caused every Palestinian Arab leader from Nazi collaborator Haj Amin el-Husseini to current P.A. "president for life" Mahmoud Abbas to reject at least six different peace and partition plans that would have created the first independent Arab state west of the Jordan River. It's the Palestinian Arabs' collective intolerance for Jews living with sovereignty and self-determination anywhere in the land of Israel that is the true "obstacle to peace."

After all, if the Irish foreign minister and the rest of the "international community" really believe that 500,000 Jews being in a new independent Arab state isn't possible while 2 million Arabs can continue to live in Israel without issue, then what does that say about their respective expectations for the tolerance, democratic values and peacefulness of this new country? And how could such a country be expected to live peacefully right next to Israel and not be immediately taken over by Hamas (just as what happened with Gaza in 2006)?

Of course, none of this likely matters to Coveney or others like him, as they would never have to live with the consequences of the creation of a state in Judea and Samaria controlled by Hamas, with the consequences of another failed terrorist state governed by Hamas but with this one sitting right on top of more than 50 percent of Israel's population, its three largest cities and its only major international airport. Jewish history has taught the Jewish people that we should never expect people like Coveney or the hosts at CNN to care about, let alone respond to, attacks on Jews from the likes of Hamas. And that is precisely why Israel should never take legal, military or diplomatic advice from the likes of these folks.

Reprinted from JNS.org.

 

Micha Danzig

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/the-fallacy-of-1300-obstacles-to-peace-in-middle-east/

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Israeli security and policy need to serve settlement - Nadav Shragai

 

​ by Nadav Shragai

The same descriptions of “complications” ascribed today to settlements in Judea and Samaria were once used to describe Petach Tikvah.

(JNS) Oh, the shame: “The party that built the state” is now a radical left-wing outfit that is turning its back on its glorious legacy. Instead of Zionist activism, the Labor Party is leading a confused, lenient ideological line that seeks to dry up settlement. The new map of national priorities that the Labor secretary-general is drawing up denies not only the Zionist legacy, but also the historic paths of many of its founders.

During the first Rabin government, dozens of Jewish communities had already been established in Judea and Samaria—and not only in settlement blocs. Even Ofra and Kedumim and Kiryat Arba, which Labor wants to drop from the map of national priorities, were already there. Yigal Allon, a notable Labor figure, promoted the founding of Kiryat Arba. He explained that this settlement, and settlement as a whole, had been set up to “transfer vital points in different parts of the Land from foreign ownership to the ownership of the Jewish people … to deepen the hold on the internal parts of the land.”

These are simple, direct words. Founding father and first prime minister of Israel David Ben-Gurion was unwilling to give up Hebron under any circumstances. Even Yaakov Hazan of the Mapam—once a partner of the Mapai movement and now part of Meretz—made it clear that from a historical perspective, Hebron was closer to him than Ramla.

The map the Labor Party of today is putting together denies that the settlements, whether in the blocs or deep in the territories, cannot be measured by their political and security worth alone. “A small Hebrew community between large Arab villages … all its homes in one place, its fields in another, the Arab fields beyond that, and the ownership of the land is complicated,” is how Moshe Smilansky described the first days of Petach Tikvah. His words could have been written right now about Ofra or Beit El.

Like Allon, Ben-Gurion and Yisrael Galili or Avraham Herzfeld, Smilansky was not concerned merely with settlements’ contribution to the state’s military security or its chances of survival. Ben-Gurion insisted on holding on to far-flung settlements in the hills of Jerusalem and the Negev and the western Galilee. Even the existence of Yehiam and Gush Etzion went against all narrow security and political considerations, but Zionism did not forgo them. It measured their worth by broader criteria, that included Zionist and national values, the spirit of the people and the question of borders.

Today, all these are played down to only “the national security view.”

Negba, Gush Etzion, Kfar Drom, Yad Mordechai and Mishmar HaEmek, like those which followed them in Binyamin and Samaria, weren’t founded merely to provide security, but mainly to implement Jewish presence and shape the country’s borders.

In Judea and Samaria, too, the stretches of settlements bolster security and the Israel Defense Forces ongoing security activity. They also give our presence in our historic homeland a permanent dimension, not one of passing randomness that invites terrorist attacks. If it weren’t for the settlements in Judea and Samaria, the IDF would be forced to send out bigger forces to prevent the foundation of a “Hamastan” across from the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.

But first and foremost, before any of these are weighed, this settlement—like its predecessors—arose from a much simpler source that we should remember and repeat. It was founded because the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, and security and policy must serve settlement. Not the opposite.

 

Nadav Shragai is a veteran Israeli journalist. This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

Source: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/317157

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Over 100 House Republicans introduce bill to block reopening of US consulate - JNS and ILH Staff

 

​ by JNS and ILH Staff

Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) said the proposal to reopen it would be "inconsistent" with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.

 

Over 100 House Republicans introduce bill to block reopening of US consulate

The former US Consulate in Jerusalem, July 19, 2009 | File photo: Wikimedia Commons

More than 100 Republicans in the US House of Representatives introduced a bill on Wednesday that aims to block the Biden administration's efforts to reopen the US consulate for Palestinians in Jerusalem.

The bill, known as the Upholding the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law Act of 2021, prohibits the use of funds for any diplomatic facility in Jerusalem other than the United States Embassy to Israel. It was sponsored by Rep. David Kustoff (R-Tenn.) and co-sponsored by 100 other Republicans, including House Republican Whip Steve Scalise (R-La), Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY).

The legislation is a companion piece to one introduced in the Senate by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn) and is being supported by the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the Faith & Freedom Coalition.

In a statement, Kustoff said that the proposal to reopen the consulate would be "inconsistent" with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995.

"This bill is necessary to ensure the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is faithfully implemented, upheld and preserved. I thank all my colleagues for joining me in introducing this legislation and sending a strong message that we stand shoulder to shoulder with our greatest friend and ally in the Middle East, Israel," he said.

Under the Trump administration, the United States fully implemented the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 by officially and formally recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's unequivocal capital in 2017, relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem in May 2018, and merging the previous consulate general to the Palestinians into the embassy in 2019, becoming known as the Palestinian Affairs Unit.

"The Biden administration absolutely must not betray our critical alliance with Israel by reopening the US consulate general in Jerusalem, which is being pushed by the Palestinian Authority to divide Israel's eternal capital," said Zeldin, who earlier this month led more than 200 House Republicans in a letter to US President Joe Biden opposing the consulate's reopening.

In recent days, two Democrats – Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Juan Vargas (D-Calif) – have also broken with the Biden administration and announced that they oppose the move without the consent of the Israeli government.

Reprinted  from JNS.org.

 

JNS and ILH Staff

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/11/18/over-100-house-republicans-introduce-bill-to-block-reopening-of-us-consulate/

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In Praise of Incivility - Don Feder

 

​ by Don Feder

Don’t get caught in the Left’s civility trap.

 


A specter stalks the land – rampant incivility toward the President of the United States. People are using colorful language to express their disgust with Joe Biden’s efforts to destroy America as we know it.

Oh, the horror of it all.

A story in the Washington Post warns that “Biden’s critics hurl increasingly vulgar taunts.” This includes handmade signs displayed on parade routes with F**K Joe Biden” and chants of “Let’s Go Brandon” – a euphemism for … you know.

While admitting that U.S. politics has rarely resembled a garden party, the Post assures us, “The current eruption of anti-Biden signs and chants, however, is on another level, far more vulgar and widespread” than anything seen in the past.

The authors claim to be mystified that a gentle soul could provoke such vitriol.

“During the 2020 presidential campaign, one of Biden’s political superpowers was his sheer inoffensiveness, the way he managed to embody – even to those who didn’t like him – the innocuous grandfather, the bumbling uncle, the leader who could make America calm, steady, even boring again after four years of Donald Trump” – truly cringe-worthy prose.

I must admit, this is a side of Mr. C’mon Man that I somehow managed to miss.

Campaigning in Michigan in March of last year, the innocuous grandfatherly type was challenged by a construction worker, who asked if he was “actively trying to end our Second Amendment right and take away our guns.” (The answer to that rhetorical question is a resounding yes.)

The man with the ability to bring us all together shot back “You’re full of shit” and “don’t be such a horse’s ass.” (I believe this is called punching down.) He then asked, “Do you want to step outside” – presumably so Biden’s Secret Service agents could hold him while he was pummeled by the feisty senior.

For four years, it was F-Trump this and F-Trump that. Trump was a white supremacist. Trump was Hitler. Trump was worse than Hitler. At the 2018 Tony Awards, Robert De Niro (who confuses playing tough guys with being a tough guy) strode on stage and growled to thunderous applause, “I’m gonna say one thing, F*** Trump!”

Madonna said she thought about blowing up the White House. (She later claimed her comment was taken out of context.) Comedian Kathy Griffin posted what appeared to be her holding up a bloody, severed head of Donald Trump.

Mad Maxine Waters took civility to new heights when she urged the mob to get in the faces of members of the Trump administration, harass them mercilessly, and drive them from restaurants and other public places.

Recently, on more than one occasion, Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D. AZ) was followed into the ladies’ room by protestors who bullied and filmed her.

The Left rarely stops at verbal violence.

An Antifa mob descended on Tucker Carlson’s D.C. home, while his wife was alone, tried to smash in the front door, spray-painted anarchist slogans in the driveway and left signs warning the FOX News host, “Tucker Carlson, we will fight! We know where you sleep at night!” The police treated it as a hate crime.

Senator Rand Paul and his wife were surrounded by a mob shouting threats as they left the 2020 Republican Convention. Without a police escort, there would have been blood in the streets. (These are just a few examples of the way the Post’s favorite activists conduct a civilized debate.)

Blood there was aplenty in the George Floyd riots which rocked over 100 cities, left dozens of business districts in cinders, resulted in $1-billion in property damage, as well as scores of dead and injured. During the campaign, it took the innocuous grandfather months to condemn this anarchist orgy, and then only in the most general terms, after polls showed him losing on the issue.

Following the Post’s alleged news story, Jeff Jacoby (the Boston Globe’s pseudo-  conservative columnist), while admitting the Left had been naughty, sniffed: “Yes, it is appalling that so many Americans can’t seem to express their opposition to the president without resorting to the filthiest, most uncivil words they know.” Tsk, tsk.

The rude response to Biden, should be weighed against what he’s done to the republic in his short time in office.

In less than nine months, he has opened our southern border to an alien invasion (almost two million to date), made us energy dependent once again, orchestrated a withdrawal from Afghanistan that made The Little Big Horn seem a successful deployment, pushed unconstitutional mandates, set the dogs of DOJ on concerned parents, appointed officials who resemble members of the old Soviet Politburo, and saddled us with trillions in new debt.

How should Americans respond to this unprecedented attack on republican government, like the fraternity pledge in “Animal House” who, while he’s on his  hands and knees being paddled, exclaims, “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”

The Left’s civility for-thee-but-not-for-me ploy is intended to indict conservative as savages and somehow intimidate us into pulling our punches.

Ain’t gonna happen.

 

Don Feder

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/11/praise-incivility-don-feder/

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Something very peculiar is happening with our Strategic Petroleum Reserve - Andrea Widburg

 

​ by Andrea Widburg

Even as Americans are dealing with gasoline price inflation, the Biden administration has other plans for our oil reserves.

It's no secret that Americans are paying record prices at the gas pumps.  Rapidly ascending prices also affect the cost of all the goods and services that are an integral part of the American economy.  Farmers, manufacturers, delivery companies, repair people...you name it: they're paying more to do their jobs, and they're passing those costs to consumers.  So why now, of all times, is the Biden administration selling off America's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to Asia?

As the name suggests, the SPR is America's emergency backup supply of oil.  The reason we have it is because of the energy crisis in the early 1970s.  According to Wikipedia, which is probably accurate about this, "[t]he United States started the petroleum reserve in 1975 after oil supplies were interrupted during the 1973–1974 oil embargo, to mitigate future supply disruptions."

Fast-forward to 2021.  Upon entering the Oval Office, one of the first things Biden did was to shut down the Keystone XL pipeline.  Henceforth, rather than flowing safely through a pipeline, Canadian oil will come the expensive way, over land, whether in trucks (which are in short supply) or on trains.

At the same time, Biden halted new oil, gas, and coal leases on federal lands, something that's being fought in the courts.  As long as the suit continues, no sane business would start to drill.

Biden's also on the verge of ending all new oil and gas leases around major Native American cultural sites, which will shut down massive amounts of exploration and drilling in New Mexico.  And following initial denials, the administration admitted that it plans to close a major Michigan pipeline.

No wonder gas pumps across America are blooming with Biden stickers like this one:


Image: Internet meme.  Source unknown.

Practically overnight, America went from oil independence and being a net oil importer to suffering shortages and, as noted, rising prices.  When asked about the problem, Biden risibly blamed OPEC and Russia. Meanwhile, Jennifer Granholm, the energy secretary, simply cackled maniacally and claimed that the administration was helpless.

Biden is now under pressure to tap the SPR to relieve some of the pressure on fuel prices.  (Again, remember that Biden birthed this problem by squashing American fuel production, thereby creating the shortage.  There's also the little matter of his administration working with Congress to print money like rolls of toilet paper — except that toilet paper is more useful than inflationary dollars.)  Even Chuckie Schumer wants to lower prices by chipping away at our SPR emergency supply, despite our having vast, untapped resources beneath American land.

It turns out that Biden is already tapping into the SPR; he's just not doing it to help Americans.  A report in investment circles is finally trickling down into the mainstream news: Biden is selling massive amounts of SPR oil...to Asia!

According to Bloomberg/Quint:

About 1.6 million barrels of crude from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve — a monthly record — was shipped out in October, according to data from market intelligence firm Kpler.

All three supertankers went to Asia.

"Given the ongoing pace of the current SPR release — 12 million barrels in the last two months and the biggest weekly release so far last week at 3.1 million barrels — it's fair to assume more SPR barrels are going to leave U.S. shores in the weeks ahead," said Matt Smith, an oil analyst at Kpler.

As far as I can tell, the administration has not explained why, with Americans struggling to keep up with rising fuel prices, it's shipping our SPR to Asia.  During the virtual meeting between Biden and Xi Jinping, the two men allegedly discussed releasing oil from both countries' petroleum reserves but made no mention of the sales to Asia that already took place.

It's becoming clearer daily that there is a clown in the White House, but it's not a cute, loving clown like Bozo (although I always found him kind of creepy).  Instead, we're being led by the political equivalent of the Joker from the D.C. Comics, a mad man who wants to burn it all down.

 

Andrea Widburg

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2021/11/something_very_peculiar_is_happening_with_our_strategic_petroleum_reserve.html

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Whither the Iran deal? - Hamid Enayat

 

​ by Hamid Enayat

Iran remains very committed to having a nuclear weapon, despite the cost and isolation this causes. Why such an attachment to nuclear weapons, and why does it lead to a deadlock?

What's the situation with the Iran nuclear deal, originally negotiated by President Obama? Now that Joe Biden has become president of the U.S., here are some thoughts from a source in Tehran:

"The problem is not in the JCPOA* talks; the problem is in the future of the nuclear talks," said an Iranian regime theorist. "In the nuclear negotiations, the United States is looking for negotiations on JCPOA and post-JCPOA, while Iran wants to negotiate only within the framework of JCPOA and not beyond," he added.

Before his election, President Joe Biden laid out his roadmap, saying he was prepared to renege on the nuclear deal and lift sanctions, but Iran's missile programs and regional interventions must also be discussed.

According to this theorist, "assuming that all disputes are put aside, and Iran and the United States agree on the outcome, that Iran returns to its obligations and the United States lifts sanctions, Washington will again say: Let's talk about missiles and regional influence. But Tehran says: JCPOA and nothing else, not a word more, not a word less."

Therefore, the Iranian regime is procrastinating to buy time to enrich uranium to a higher degree (or pretend to do so). It also aims to trigger panic in the P5+1 to obtain more concessions. However, reports indicate that given the explosions at the main Natanz facility and the elimination of Fakhrizadeh, the father of Iranian nuclear power, it will not be possible to produce an atomic bomb for a long time.

Asymmetric war

After the Iran-Iraq war, a theory emerged in Tehran that power was not limited to a thriving economy, long-standing democratic institutions, and a formidable army, but that superpowers could be challenged in asymmetric warfare. As the country grew stronger, power turned to nuclear weapons building, terrorism, and regional influence.

Born of medieval dogmas, the Iranian regime has had to spread in order to survive, like a parasite that ensures its survival by colonizing a tree trunk. This theory of asymmetrical power stems from its nature.

It sees nuclear weapons as a guarantee of its survival. After the Iranian opposition, the People's Mojahedin, revealed in 2003 that Tehran was building an atomic bomb, international pressure put a serious brake on the process. It, therefore, turned to extending its regional influence and developing missiles as an alternative.

According to an Iranian analyst in power circles, "What can guarantee the survival of the JCOPA is Iran's national strength: first, preserving its nuclear capabilities so that if the Americans want to play again, Iran will move towards 90% enriched uranium. Second, maintaining the country's defense strength (its missile and drone development program), and finally, reducing its vulnerability to sanctions."

Another source close to the Iranian regime believes that what prevents another Trump from breaking the deal is that "Iran says if the deal is broken, then Iran will build its own bomb and we will set Saudi Arabia on fire." Otherwise, according to an analyst who requested anonymity, if Iran is deemed weak, the P5+1 will not only dismantle its nuclear facilities but also reduce its missile power and call for an unconditional withdrawal from the region.

This analyst assumes that Iran is a lightweight boxer and P5+1 is a heavyweight. For him, "no one expects a lightweight to win, but if he can resist and buy time, he will wear out his opponent in this confrontation. We must increase our resistance, and above all, strengthen the economy. I am sure that what keeps the power breathing is first its economy, second its defense capability, and third the amount of enriched uranium."

Sitting on a powder keg 

The Iranian regime is aware of the explosive state of society due to galloping inflation and the mullah-regime impoverishment of 80% of the population. It knows that a spark could set off a much more terrible explosion than in the 2018 and 2019 uprisings. According to a former strategic researcher, the economic collapse and the resulting pressures, as well as fears of a new uprising, will lead the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to conclude that there is no other way forward than to accept the demands of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Like the capitulation to UN resolution 598 during the Iran-Iraq war, or Khomeini's release of American hostages under pressure from the 1980 election of President Reagan, the Iranian regime only understands the language of force.

How to prevent the Iranian regime from acquiring an atomic bomb

Respect for human rights and protection of the lives of protesters should be at the heart of any negotiations with the clerical regime. Insisting on human rights and adopting a decisive policy is indispensable to prevent the regime from acquiring the bomb.

*JCPOA: Vienna Agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).


Hamid Enayat

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2021/11/whither_the_iran_deal.html

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Malign Foreign Influence: China's United Front - Peter Schweizer

 

​ by Peter Schweizer

China seeks not to be feared, but as having peaceful intentions. Looking at its use of "united front" tactics reveals how China's messaging seeks to convince gullible people in the West that Chinese interests are really their interests, too.

  • Newsweek did an extensive report that linked 600 groups operating in the US to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

  • [FBI Director Christopher] Wray used a phrase common among counter-intelligence professionals: "malign foreign influence." This phrase describes the covert efforts the FBI has seen in several cases where American politicians were influenced indirectly to adopt policies the Chinese regime desires, particularly in four areas: Hong Kong, Taiwan, human rights abuses against the Uighurs, and the Chinese government's role in the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • That is fascinating considering that just this month, the U.S. State Department announced it would stop using that phrase.

  • The irony here is that those "PRC nationals" the State Department wishes not to offend are exactly the kinds of people that are employed by or connected to [Chinese Communist] entities operating in the US.

  • "This is the second time Chairman Meeks [D-NY] has blocked taking action against the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party, an organization which literally exists for the purpose of undermining our democracy and engaging in political warfare. It baffles me why Chairman Meeks seems to oppose any measure holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable." — Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), National Review, September 13, 2021.

FBI director Christopher Wray has spoken openly about Chinese intelligence efforts inside the US, including activities by united front organizations, saying, "We've reached a point when the FBI opens a new case related to Chinese intelligence every 10 hours." Pictured: Wray speaks at a press conference on October 28, 2020, after US authorities arrested eight people as part of an investigation into a program called "Foxhunt," created by Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Foxhunt is China's way "to target Chinese nationals whom Xi sees as threats and who live outside of China across the world." (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

China obsesses over what the world thinks of it. Its rise to rival the US as the world's greatest economic superpower includes a strong psychological element. China seeks not to be feared, but as having peaceful intentions. Looking at its use of "united front" tactics reveals how China's messaging seeks to convince gullible people in the West that Chinese interests are really their interests, too. This is one example where Chinese communism borrows "Russian characteristics," using the old Soviet tactic of "united front" groups that wittingly or not do their bidding.

Within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the United Front Work Department (UFWD), a bureaucracy that oversees the CCP's foreign-influence network. In recent years, concern has grown about UFWD's efforts to influence how Western democracies view China. A report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute warned UFWD and other affiliated organizations have worked among the elites of many countries to influence foreign opinions of China.

According to the report, these networks operate covertly or deceptively. The effort "undermines social cohesion, exacerbates racial tension, influences politics, harms media integrity, facilitates espionage, and increases unsupervised technology transfer" outside China's borders.

Newsweek did an extensive report that linked 600 groups operating in the US to the CCP. These groups "range from businesses, universities and think tanks, social and cultural groups, Chinese diaspora organizations, Chinese-language media and WeChat, the Chinese social media and messaging app," according to John Garnaut, an Australian political analyst and expert on global CPC interference. These groups all regularly communicate with the CCP. They organize social and business meetings, obtain information of various kinds, and build the economic and political ties within the US that can be leveraged for Beijing's advantage.

In my investigative reporting I have seen this pattern play out at the highest levels. Hunter Biden's extensive dealings with business entities linked to the CCP and the People's Liberation Army, as well as Chinese banks and Chinese industry all make perfect sense when viewed through the lens of China's strategy to ingratiate itself with the highest levels of American politics, commerce, academia, and culture.

First, they ingratiate. Then, they co-opt.

For one brief example, in 2017 Hunter Biden rented office space in Washington, D.C. Asking for signage for the office, Hunter said his new office mates would include Joe, Jill, and James Biden, and Gongwen Dong, a Chinese national who was an emissary for CEFC, a Chinese energy giant, and the CFO of a China-based real estate investment firm called Radiance Property Holdings. This firm is run by Lam Ting Keung, a businessman with deep connections to "united front" groups linked to Chinese intelligence.

Last year, in an eye-opening and frank discussion at the Hudson Institute, Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, spoke more openly than ever about Chinese intelligence efforts inside the US, including activities by united front organizations. "We've reached a point when the FBI opens a new case related to Chinese intelligence every 10 hours." Wray stressed that he meant the Chinese government and the CCP specifically. But it is through groups linked to the UFWD that China identifies and pursues many of its intelligence targets.

As one example, Wray described a program called "Foxhunt" created by Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Foxhunt is China's way "to target Chinese nationals whom Xi sees as threats and who live outside of China across the world... political rivals, dissidents, and critics seeking to expose China's extensive human rights violations." These victims -- some of whom are American citizens and green card holders -- are openly or indirectly threatened, often by having their relatives back in China arrested as leverage.

Wray spoke at length about China's intimidation exercises on American businesses, policymakers, academia, even professional basketball players, using more subtle approaches. Instead of arresting your relatives back home until you do what they want, the Chinese take away your millions of dollars in sneaker sales or NBA jersey revenue. It seems to work.

Wray used a phrase common among counter-intelligence professionals: "malign foreign influence." This phrase describes the covert efforts the FBI has seen in several cases where American politicians were influenced indirectly to adopt policies the Chinese regime desires, particularly in four areas: Hong Kong, Taiwan, human rights abuses against the Uighurs, and the Chinese government's role in the Covid-19 pandemic.

That is fascinating considering that, just this month, the U.S. State Department announced it would stop using that phrase. A State Department spokesperson explained to National Review that "malign influence" was too generic a phrase and might undercut "our goal of identifying specific behaviors of concern, especially those posing serious threats to U.S. national security or the international rules-based order." The spokesperson wanted to make it clear that "U.S. criticism is not directed toward PRC nationals, the global Chinese diaspora, or U.S. citizens of Chinese descent, as well as citizens of other countries who are of Chinese ethnicity or heritage."

The irony here is that those "PRC nationals" the State department wishes not to offend are exactly the kinds of people that are employed by or connected to UFWD entities operating in the U.S. The statement reads as though the State Department does not quite understand the extent of leverage and control Beijing can exert, even on an American citizen. Instead, State seems to have agreed with the Quincy Institute. Quincy's Jessica Lee claimed credit for State's turn away from calling out the party-state's malign influence during a public webinar last month. She said:

"My communication with Asian-American diplomats at the State Department shows that the work that we're doing to shine light on these issues is having a positive impact in ensuring that we don't use sweeping terms like 'malign influence' to describe China's influence."

In Congress, Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have tried twice to sanction entities linked to UFWD, but committee chairman Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) has consistently rebuffed them. In September they offered an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act which would have required the Secretary of State to report to Congress on whether the UFWD can be sanctioned under existing laws that allow the executive branch to punish entities involved in China's crackdown in Hong Kong, its repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang province, its cyber-attacks against western government and industrial targets, and its transnational criminal activities.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) complained:

"This is the second time Chairman Meeks has blocked taking action against the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party, an organization which literally exists for the purpose of undermining our democracy and engaging in political warfare. It baffles me why Chairman Meeks seems to oppose any measure holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable."

One cannot but marvel at the deference shown in so many places to the persistent threat of China's malign foreign influence on aspects of American policy and life. The pattern is worth continued study.

 

Peter Schweizer, President of the Governmental Accountability Institute, is a Gatestone Institute Distinguished Senior Fellow and author of the best-selling books Profiles in Corruption, Secret Empires and Clinton Cash, among others.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17946/china-influence-united-front

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LGBTQIA+ is not our cause célèbre - Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer

 

​ by Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer

This article should not really be deemed controversial, but it possibly is the most daring I ever have published. It is time. If the words below resonate, know you are not alone.

 Almost daily, my inbox and RSS news feeds bear LGBTQIA+ advocacy articles, often from sources labelled “Reform Judaism,” “Open Orthodoxy,” “Conservative Judaism,” and “Reconstructionist Judaism.”

Only a week ago, two “Conservative lesbian rabbis tied the knot,” celebrating the first-ever such desecration in their contra-Torah movement that now is no different from “Reform Judaism.” This week, “Open Orthodoxy” proudly announced it was adding to its seminary’s Board of Directors a therapist who is quite focused on his Gay identity. In Israel a colleague whom I knew once to be an Orthodox rabbi when he practiced in Southern California thirty years ago, stepped beyond everything that normative mainstream Orthodoxy holds dear when he ordained a fellow whose homosexuality-centric public writings, focus, and public behavior even transcended what the “Open Orthodox” ordaining body could bear.

Contemporary sensitivities are such that the LGBTQIA+ subject barely can be discussed safely in the secular world from a Torah hashkafah (perspective). Ironically, I probably have pastorally counseled and stood by more LGBTQ men and women than have 99% of my colleagues in the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), where I served six years on its Executive Committee and continue to be active Most of those whom I have counseled have been non-Jews who have approached me in venues varying from law school where I teach to actual law-firm practice where law associates have approached me confidentially.

Because most non-Jews, at least in Southern California, are not acquainted with the nuances of Orthodox Judaism, just as the typical Orthodox Jew does not know a Presbyterian from a Methodist to a Lutheran — and certainly not a Missouri Synod Lutheran from a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran — and because people like me do not discuss or reveal our religious views at secular work because of cancel culture (and also because of simple propriety and rudmentary common sense) — many in pain just naturally assume that a rabbi would be more sympathetic than a regular law professor or big-firm litigation associate. They are correct. Then word of mouth spreads from those whom I helpfully have counseled, giving rise to more individuals privately seeking my guidance and caring.

Let us assume (a datum I do not accept) that five percent of the general population are homosexual. That still would mean that fewer than that would come Orthodoxy’s way. Of 100 homosexuals, more of those supposed five will be inclined to steer clear of Orthodox clergy and congregations, no matter what. It kind-of is obvious: the lifestyle, the perceptions. So, if the starting point is that five out of every 100 begin at that place, we Orthodox do not get approached by anywhere near five out of every 100 — unless we happen to be the outlier marketing to that population. Few, if any of us, are.

I think of “percentages,” and I ask my rabbinic colleagues and normative mainstream Orthodox laity to think about the other issues that come our way and need our help:

. . . What percent of people do we encounter in our lives who are religious teens within our rubric who, all data show as do empirical results in America, will become non-observant in the United States in a few years after the American secular colleges have finished with them? . . .

. . . And what percent are “Modern Orthodox” adults who do not regularly daven or wear tzitzit, do not regularly learn more Torah, who tell dirty jokes, watch dirty TV and movies, have nothing of substance to discuss so fall back on loshon horo, and create a home where their children are destined to end up in the line above? . . .

. . . And what percent of people do we encounter who are Torah-observant women (long-term singles, divorced, widowed) over age 40 or 45 who desperately want to marry, but cannot find a husband, so (i) live desperate lonely lives, and (ii) sometimes ultimately will marry a non-observant guy and give up their Orthodoxy because they can’t take the loneliness anymore, even as foolish “friends” tell them they are developing wrinkles and that the odds are more probable for a woman to get blown up in a terror attack than to marry over age 50 or 60? . . .

. . . And what percent of people do we encounter who are non-observant but deeply Jewish-conscious women over age 40 or 45 who desperately want to marry, but cannot find a husband, so (i) live desperate lonely lives, and (ii) sometimes ultimately will marry a non-Jew and give up their Jewish home altogether rather than face later years alone? . . .

. . . And what percent of people do we encounter who are non-Jews seeking to convert to Judaism properly according to halakha (Jewish law)? . . . .

. . . And what percent of couples do we meet who once had been two non-observant secularists when they married, but now — ten or twenty years later — one wants to become Torah-observant while the spouse is holding him or her back? . . .

. . . And do we encounter people going through divorce, needing gittin (bills of divorce) that are being disrupted by recalcitrant and intransigent spouses? . . .

. . . And do we encounter people diagnosed with terminal diseases like cancer, needing incredible amounts of chizuk (encouragement) and reassurance just to go on? To do their chemo, overcome the psycholigical impact of their hair falling out, sitting for hours during infusions, living with bouts of nausea, doubting the time they have left? And what of their families and loved ones? . . .

. . . And people who have lost their jobs or incomes or never really have had enough income, and maybe never will, and face losing their homes or marriages for financial reasons? . . .

. . . And people with someone autistic in the family among their kids . . . or other illness? . . .

. . . And people with all kinds of other needs — physical, spiritual, emotional — that deserve and demand at least as much of our time and focus as do the LGBTQIA+ population who basically do not occupy much of our orbit?

We live in a world of chesed (kindness) and of so much goodness, but life includes pockets of hurt and pain. College professors and The Woke and “Influencers” throughout the social and cultural Left have decided that the “LGBTQIA+ cause” one of our society’s priority issues in this generation’s fight for what it considers social justice — along with the “oppressed victims” of “Palestine,” the Marxist-founded-and-based “Black Lives Matter” organization, the fight on campuses and in Ben & Jerry’s board rooms against “Zionist Apartheid,” and the need to defund police in America’s inner cities while securing rights for undocumented people who break into America illegally unlike the way my grandparents entered at Ellis Island.

No matter the personal cost, we must not allow others to coerce us to adopt their alien values and priorities.

The Torah repeats so very often that we must be especially sensitive to the ger (the “stranger” or “alien” who either jons the Jewish people as a “ger tzedek” convert or at least lives among us as a “ger toshav” accepting Jewish sovereignty in Israel) because we once were gerim (such “strangers” or “aliens”). But nowhere in Judaic literature are we told — not in Tanakh (our Bible), not in the Talmud, not among other Rishonim (earlier leading rabbinic authorities) nor among Acharonim (later leading rabbinic authorities), to be sensitive to homosexuals because we were homosexuals.

Instead, the Torah speaks of homosexuality as it does in Vayikra (Leviticus) 18:22 and 20:13. It tells us that such behaviors were the way of Egypt where we found ourselves for centuries, are the way of Canaan where we are destined to enter, and that such behavior must be rejected and avoided if we do not want to replicate upon ourselves the end result of Canaan: exiled and spit out from our Land, soil that is too holy to abide such behavior. Lev. 18:3, 20:22-23.

So the compassionate thing for us is not the way of the Nations. When it comes to kindness and compassion to the individual, we act — quietly, often outside the klieg lights, person by person. Mere virtue-signaling is not our way. We do (i) what is right (ii) when it is right (iii) because it is right.

Among the vast overwhelming majority of normative mainstream Orthodox Jews, ranging from Haredi Agudists to Chabad Chassidim to Modern Orthodox Religious Zionists, from America to Europe to Israel, most of us would never incline to organize at our shuls or in our associations a night of “Gay Activists” ruefully discussing their “plight.” That kind of programming is tres chic, “woke” and intersectional — but it is not our way.

Founders of Eshel, of “Orthodykes” (their term, not ours), therapists whose predominant life focus is on their own homosexuality? They are in pain, but we are not there to provide a forum or public validation for the phenomenon. Some issues are for private, just as almost all rabbonim (Orthodox rabbis) do not publicly pasken (pronounce rabbinic rulings) for an individual when someone asks a question after a public event, inquiring publicly whether she may proceed with an abortion. Rather, we compassionately invite her to set an appointment to discuss the matter privately. Does she ultimately receive a heter (permissive rabbinic ruling) in private? No one but the rav and she, and whoever she shares with, will know. Some things in Judaism are private.

We are so immersed in coarse liberal Western culture that we lose sight of how alien so much around us is from Judaism. Today I read of a “music” band that staged a sold-out concert three days ago at which the lead woman “singer” invited a man onto the stage so that she could urinate on him. And a man came on the stage. And she did it. It is on YouTube: 896,762 hits at the time of this writing (3.4K likes vs. 4.3K thumbs down). It was at 256,000 a day ago so it will be over a million when you read this.

Similarly, someone who goes by the name “Cardi B” has emerged in America as a major “influencer,” did a Zoom session with Joe Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign to help him attract younger voters, and recorded a song called “WAP” that was the #1 hit-song in all of America in 2020. It debuted atop the US Billboard Hot 100, with the largest opening streaming week for a song in country's history, topping the digital, streaming, and hip hop charts, and giving Cardi B her fourth number-one single in the U.S. The “song” has been met with widespread critical acclaim, as though it were Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony composed while he was deaf. I was directed to the song and its lyrics by one of my co-contributors at The American Spectator, where I am a Senior Contributing Editor, and I could not believe my eyes.

I am not a prude, have been quite “around the block” in my life — four years undergraduate at Columbia University, three years at UCLA Law School, a year clerking in the federal appellate court in Louisville, Kentucky; a decade-long career as a civil litigator, sixteen years as a law professor — but was quite taken aback that the culture now has descended to this depth of coarseness. I am not even embedding the hyperlinks here — not to the micturating band singer nor to the lyrics of the “WAP” Number One song. There was a time when such a person with such a “song” would have been sent to reform school or had her mouth washed out with soap. Now, instead, presidential candidates vie for her endorsement, and she is lauded as an artist with vision, an “Influencer” among college and teen-age students.

This is the alien culture that surrounds us.

Those who are LGBTQIA+ deserve our compassion and our sincerest deepest love for their souls, not a stage at a shul or public audience accolades and hands clapping. They should be seeking rabbinic pastoral advice privately and confidentially rather than marching on the streets in “pride parades.” Pride? In being homosexual? Or, alternatively, in suffering from the mental illness of gender dysphoria — transgender desires?

As of this writing, Mayo Clinic still lists gender dysphoria as a mental illness with symptoms and complications: “Gender dysphoria is a diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association to diagnose mental conditions. This term is intended to be more descriptive than the one that was previously used, gender identity disorder. The term gender dysphoria focuses on one's discomfort as the problem, rather than identity. A diagnosis for gender dysphoria was created to help people get access to necessary health care and effective treatment.”

In Orthodoxy, do we have “pride parades” for people who transgress Shabbat? No. They seek pastoral chizuk (rabbinic insight and strengthening) for navigating their Torah commitment with the challenges that burn inside them..

In Judaism, homosexuality among the relatively few so afflicted always was personal, not in the open — but so was and is “straight” heterosexuality. We are private about when mom goes to mikvah. We literally hide the entrance and exit of the mikvah and ask husbands not to park in front to pick up or drop off their wives. We avoid touching people of the other gender, dealing even with the awkwardness of someone extending his or her hand in a welcoming gesture at a business meeting. We are a world apart from “Open Orthodox” non-Orthodox institutions like “Torat Chayim” having “Gay Picnics” on Shavuot.

We understand what “pride events” are. “Black pride” events celebrate racial Blackness. That indeed is an appropriate theme. “Jewish pride” events celebrate Jewishness. Likewise, we understand that “Gay pride” events celebrate homosexuality and transgenderism. That is outside Judaism’s “four cubits.”

When that once-normative-Orthodox rabbinic colleague of mine, who promoted the mainstream Orthodox Judaism thirty years ago in Southern California from which he now has moved on, ordained that homosexuality-obsessed “Gay married rabbi” whom even the Chovevei Torah Academy would not ordain, he was ordaining a fellow whose pre-ordination public articles included those focusing on why men should entertain being pretty like Joseph of Egypt, putting on make-up and fingernail polish. It is not our way.

Take careful note the next time you read of an “Open Orthodox” sort, a Reform or “Conservative” or Reconstructionist sort, advocating for LGBTQIA+. The “B” in that acrostic says so much about the advocates. Do the “Open Orthodox” really endorse or support bisexual conduct? How could they? After all, a bisexual person, by self-definition, is born with a perfectly kosher outlet within his or her natural make-up. To be “bisexual” and to ask for rabbinic endorsement to “go both ways” is like asking for rabbinic endorsement of adultery; it is devoid of the argument that such person is constructed with no other outlet.

And yet “Open Orthodoxy’s” advocacy for “LGBTQ,” never is limited solely to “LGTQ.” Because, really, such advocates and virtue-signalers are driven not by a Torah perspective but rather by parroting the passing “woke” trend that dominates today’s coarse secular Western culture. So they advocate for the woke cause, not individuating among the various letters in the Gay alphabet soup. Indeed, literally every few months, a new dimension is added to the acrostic that began once simply with “Gay and Lesbian.” Soon, “T” and “Q” — “transsexual” and “questioning” — were added, along with “bisexual.” Then the “T” was modified also to include “transgender” and the “Q” to include “Queer.” This website is one among many that now explains for newcomers and outsiders what else has been added to the acrostic:

LGBTQIA+ is an acronym that means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Two- spirit, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Ally, A-gender, Bi-gender, Gender Queer, Pansexual, Pangender, and Gender Variant. Keep an open mind because this is continuously evolving.

Not for us, it isn’t.

This is not for our agenda. We still must be respectful of all people. Never use derogatory language, certainly no epithets. Know that many in our orbits may have a close relative or coworker or neighbor or acquaintance who identifies among the LGBTQIA+ population. Those whom we may be able to help will find and seek us because we have done nothing to alienate them. If they do not seek us, our plates always will be full with so many other Jews and others who have so much other need for our focus and time.

Not every cause is our cause. The right of women to drivers’ licenses in Saudi Arabia is a good issue, but not ours. Political freedom in Venzuela, another compelling isue, does not draw us from our daily thoughts. The price of milk in Lebanon is closer to home for an Israel that must be ever-vigilant regarding developments in the Hezbollah-occupied north, but the Lebanese economy otherwise is not our issue. Aboriginal rights in Australia and Maori rights in New Zealand are compelling but not our predominant issue. Similarly, the LGBTQIA+ cause is not our cause. It never has been in 3,300 years of Judaism. It very possibly never will be, regardless of what the coarse Western culture around us tries to preach. Individuals always should hve access to our pastoral care when they approach us privately. But it is not our cause célèbre.

 

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer is Contributing Editor at The American Spectator, adjunct professor of law at two prominent Southern California law schools, Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California, and has held prominent leadership roles in several national rabbinic and other Jewish organizations. He was Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerked for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and served six years on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America. His writings have appeared in The Weekly Standard, National Review, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Jerusalem Post, Israel Hayom, and The Jewish Press. Other writings are collected at www.rabbidov.com .

Source: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/317114

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Thursday, November 18, 2021

Accounting games: Democrats are downplaying the price of their massive spending bill, watchdog says - Tyler Olson

 

​ by Tyler Olson

Programs made temporary to cut hide real cost, tax enforcement revenue underestimated, budget watchdog says

 

Stuart Varney: Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ won’t be paid for

FOX Business' Stuart Varney argues the White House is ‘downplaying’ that Biden’s Build Back Better plan will add to the U.S. budget deficit.

As House Democrats push to finally vote for their massive reconciliation spending bill before Thanksgiving, budget watchdogs are arguing their estimates are systematically undercounting how much the bill will cost taxpayers.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) is the loudest among these voices. It released a report Monday saying that the real cost of the reconciliation bill could be nearly $5 trillion if programs that are being artificially cut short are made permanent. 

"They want to spend $2.4 trillion and buy with that almost $5 trillion worth of stuff. So the way they're doing that is by making a number of the policies temporary," CRFB senior vice president Marc Goldwein told Fox News. 

CRFB also said the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is likely to strongly disagree with Democrats over how much stepped-up IRS enforcement efforts will raise to offset the costs of the bill.

Overestimating returns from IRS enforcement

Goldwein said the Biden administration's estimate that increased IRS enforcement efforts will raise $400 billion is significantly off from what the CBO is going to say. 

THESE FIVE DEMOCRATS ARE KEY TO WHETHER PELOSI CAN PASS BIDEN'S MASSIVE SPENDING PLAN BEFORE THANKSGIVING

"The number we have is 125 [billion]," Goldwein told FOX Business. "I would not be surprised if it was 150. But I would be extremely surprised if it were 200. And I would be flabbergasted beyond disbelief if it were 400." 

Goldwein said the reason the numbers are so different is because the Treasury is overestimating how effective its policy will in two respects. 

"Unlike the CBO, they don't think that taxpayers get smarter and better at avoiding over time," he said. "The Treasury thinks it's going to be a really large deterrent effect that basically once there's more audits, people are going to voluntarily pay a lot more of their taxes. And CBO doesn't think there's going to be a large effect."

White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said Tuesday that the CBO does not have the proper experience to analyze how the increased IRS enforcement will work. 

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., conducts her weekly news conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021.  (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images / Getty Images)

"There's wide agreement CBO doesn't have experience analyzing revenue amounts gained from cracking down on wealthy tax cheats who are taking advantage of honest taxpayers," he said. 

Affordable Care Act expansion will only last until 2025

Affordable Care Act (ACA) expansion, meanwhile, is one of the policies that is being cut short in the reconciliation bill that will cost a lot more if it's expanded.

According to the CRFB, the bill's ACA expansion will cost $125 billion on two major policies. The first is a three-year extension of insurance subsidies that were enhanced by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) through 2022 to cover 2023, 2024 and 2025 as well. 

Second is a provision to cover Americans in the 12 states that never took advantage of the federally subsidized Medicaid expansion option in the ACA. That would start in 2022 and go through 2025 for a total of four years. 

BIDEN USES INFRASTRUCTURE SIGNING TO SET UP BBB PASSAGE, GIVES SINEMA MAJOR ROLE

Many Democrats pushed for the creation a lookalike program to Medicaid that would cover those who did not get Medicaid expansion outside of the ACA. But that was cut in negotiations and replaced with temporary subsidies through 2025 via the ACA to achieve the same effect for less money. 

If both of those policies are made permanent, according to the CRFB, it would cost an additional $405 billion for a total of $530 billion.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.Y., speaks with reporters on the steps of the House of Representatives on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Child care subsidies, universal pre-k will only last six years

One of the provisions Democrats tout the most in the bill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says is "for the children," is funding for universal pre-k for all children who are 3 and 4 years old. It will also cap the expenses a family must pay for child care at 7% of their income. 

The CRFB estimates that over their six-year lifespan, these programs will cost $390 billion combined. But if extended permanently, that price tag would soar another $410 billion to $800 billion total. 

Expanded child tax credit, earned income tax credit will only last one year

Democrats' reconciliation bill also extends a set of changes to the earned income tax credit (EITC) and child tax credit (CTC) that were included in the ARP — but each of those only lasts one year. 

The two changes to those programs that have the most fiscal impact are the increased payments in the CTC and the expansion of the EITC subsidies to childless adults. 

Under the ARP, parents are paid $3,000 for children over 5 years old and $3,600 for children 5 and under. And adults who do not have children will now get EITC payments much closer to what adults with children get. 

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., speaks to the Economic Club, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Washington. Manchin says he's "concerned" about tricks Democrats used in writing the reconciliation bill to make it look less expensive than it is.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin / AP Newsroom)

If the child tax credit were made permanent, it would be the single most expensive item in Democrats plan at $1.13 trillion, according to the CRFB. The earned income tax credit, meanwhile, would cost an additional $120 billion for a total of $135 billion. 

SALT cap changes will only last four years

After demands from Democrats in high-tax states like New York and New Jersey, Democrats included an increase to the cap on state and local tax deductions (SALT cap) from $10,000 to $80,000 in their bill. 

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It will cost the government $285 billion through 2025, according to the CRFB. But if Congress keeps the SALT cap at $80,000 permanently rather than reducing it back to $10,000 after 2025, it will cost the government another $340 billion for a total of $625 billion. 

President Biden gestures as he boards Air Force One for a trip to New Hampshire to promote his economic agenda, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP Newsroom)

Research and experimentation amortization

Under current law, businesses would be forced to start deducting research costs over time rather than all in the year that they spend the money. But Democrats' reconciliation bill, that would be delayed until 2026, costing $5 billion according to the CRFB. The cost is so modest because while it would be expensive in the first few years, the government would make up for it on the back end. 

"But it's pretty clear they don't actually want this to happen at all. And so the delay is going to be another delay, it's gonna be another delay, eventually it is going to be repealed," Goldwein said. 

If that is the case, according to the CRFB, the cost would skyrocket up $145 billion for a total of $150 billion. 

Other programs

The CRFB estimates $1.44 trillion of other programs are also cut short one way or another in the bill, and that if all of those were made permanent it would run taxpayers another approximately $100 billion. 

Among those programs, Goldwein said, are a child nutrition program that expires in five years, housing programs that expire, energy tax credits that could be extended and more. 

Fox News' Jacqui Heinrich contributed to this report. 

 

Tyler Olson

Source: https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/budget-tricks-reconciliation-spending-house-pelosi-biden

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