Saturday, March 11, 2023

Chinese brokerage of Iran-Saudi deal latest in string of power plays on world stage - Ben Whedon

 

by Ben Whedon

China has inserted itself into theaters of vital American interest, such as the Russo-Ukrainian War, and even breached domestic U.S. airspace.

 

China shocked the world this week with the surprise announcement that it had brokered a deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia to resume normal diplomatic relations, dealing a significant blow to U.S. interests in the region.

The arrangement marked the latest is a string of ever-bolder moves by Beijing to further its aim of global hegemony at the expense of the United States. Apart from the Iran-Saudi agreement, China has inserted itself into other theaters of vital American interest, such as the Russo-Ukrainian War, and even penetrated domestic U.S. airspace.

A recent report from the U.S. intelligence community highlighted how, under President Biden's watch, major U.S. adversaries such as China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea have been preparing for meaningful operations at the expense of the U.S. and its allies. Much of China's recent activity has in some way furthered the interests of that increasingly cohesive cast of hostile actors.

Here are three recent examples of Chinese self-assertion on the global stage:

1. Negotiation of the Saudi-Iranian deal sees China assume the role of international arbitrator

The announcement of the agreement followed four days of talks in Beijing. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia committed to establishing embassies in the other nation and restoring normal relations.

The two nations have backed opposing factions in the Yemeni civil war, and some have suggested that the deal might result in de-escalation of that conflict. However, China's brokering of the agreement has global implications that go far beyond merely winding down a regional proxy conflict.

China has long sought to establish itself as a viable international arbitrator and respectable power on par with the United States. It's successful brokerage of a deal with Iran after the Biden administration repeatedly failed to achieve meaningful diplomacy with the Islamic Republic serves as a major diplomatic coup for Beijing and may further an effort to displace the U.S. in terms of influence in the region.

"It's too early to proclaim it anything other than a good first step," wrote Atlantic Council Senior Fellow Jonathan Fulton, according to The Hill. "It is, however, significant as China's first major foray into regional diplomacy. Beijing has been signaling since at least last January that it is willing to promote a non-US centered vision of the Middle East, and this is a sign of things to come."

Apart from the blow to U.S. prestige, the deal was doubly damaging to the U.S. as it strengthens relations between nominal U.S. ally Saudi Arabia and an implacable American adversary Washington has hoped to isolate on the world stage.

2. China's peace proposal for Russia and Ukraine inserts Beijing into the U.S.-European sphere

Amid the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China unveiled a 12-point peace plan to resolve the conflict, even as the Biden administration and Ukraine remain unwilling to engage with Moscow.

Beijing's proposal would couple an end to Western sanctions on Russia with security guarantees for Moscow and Kyiv. The communist regime has also taken a firm stance against European and Ukrainian aspirations for "complete victory" on the battlefield, encouraging negotiation in defiance of Brussels and Washington.

Conversely, it has spent some diplomatic capital in Moscow, warning the Kremlin against a nuclear escalation in Ukraine while also encouraging Russia with talk of strengthening their alliance.

While the Chinese proposal is unlikely to gain traction in the immediate future amid a renewed Russian assault in the east of Ukraine, it nonetheless represents a bold insertion of Chinese Communist Party influence into a conflict at the heart of American foreign policy.

3. Aerial incursions by spy balloons highlight embarrassing gaps in U.S. surveillance

In February, the aerial passage of a suspected Chinese spy balloon over most of the United States attracted considerable national attention and prompted outrage over the apparent permeability of American airspace.

The balloon entered American airspace over Alaska before traveling through Canada and returning to the states via Montana. President Biden drew sharp public disapproval over his decision to wait to shoot down the balloon until it had cleared U.S. soil, downing the aircraft off the coast of the Carolinas.

The episode followed the shootdowns of multiple additional unidentified aircraft. U.S. officials have since asserted that the balloon's incursion was part of a larger surveillance effort orchestrated by Beijing. Moreover, military officials have since discovered that comparable incursions occurred during the Trump administration, with North American Aerospace Defense Command commander Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck admitting the U.S. had "gaps" in its surveillance apparatus.

"I will tell you that we did not detect those threats," he said in February. "And that's a domain awareness gap that we have to figure out."

At least one lawmaker contended that the entire affair was intended to undercut American military readiness and expose the shortcomings of American leadership.

Speaking on the "Just the News, No Noise" television show last month, Utah Republican Rep. Chris Stewart highlighted the incursion's proximity to a planned visit by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to China.

"This makes him look weak," he said at the time. "That's why they did it. That's why they did it again during the time that our secretary of state was supposed to be in China. It was their design and intention to make him look weak, and he unfortunately played into their hands."

China's recent aggressive moves on the world stage have strengthened its influence in its own bloc while highlighting the limits of American soft and hard power. In a recent appearance on "Just the News, No Noise," Former Lt. Col. James Carafano asserted that China's perception of American weakness had emboldened Beijing.

"[T]he Chinese see weakness in Biden," he said, "and every day they wake up and they're trying to figure out, 'How can I take advantage of that?' So I really look at the latest Chinese wolf warrior diplomacy not as a sign of things are spinning out of control, but as a sign of the Chinese are always looking at 'How can I put one over on Joe Biden?'"


Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

Source: https://justthenews.com/politics-policy/chinese-brokerage-iran-saudi-deal-latest-string-power-plays-usurp-us

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Iran doing what it wants with no repercussions endangers the world - JPost editorial

 

by JPost editorial

Iranian enrichment is nearing a redline in terms of having a stockpile of uranium that could be used in a nuclear weapon.

 

 Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi shakes hands with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi in Tehran, Iran, March 4, 2023. (photo credit: Iran's President Website/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi shakes hands with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi in Tehran, Iran, March 4, 2023.
(photo credit: Iran's President Website/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS)

The director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, said this past weekend that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program would violate international law and was illegal. At the same time, the IAEA appears to offer few ways to stop Tehran’s race forward as it proceeds to enrich uranium and inches closer to a nuclear bomb.

Grossi’s statement led Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to criticize him on Sunday and to affirm that Jerusalem will act against the Islamic Republic as it deems necessary, including through preemptive self-defense to avoid a nuclear threat.

“International law from the Geneva Protocols in 1949 and thereafter and several resolutions of the general conference of the IAEA: attacks on nuclear facilities are illegal, are a violation of the UN Charter. I did not say anything which should be considered departing from what is in the public domain. Maybe that got their attention,” the Argentinian diplomat turned IAEA director said when asked about Netanyahu’s response.

“International law from the Geneva Protocols in 1949 and thereafter and several resolutions of the general conference of the IAEA: attacks on nuclear facilities are illegal, are a violation of the UN Charter. I did not say anything which should be considered departing from what is in the public domain. Maybe that got their attention.”

Rafael Grossi

This creates a difficult situation, in which the world wants to consider an attack against Iran as being “illegal” even if it is aimed at preventing Tehran from becoming a threshold nuclear power and breaking out toward weaponization for its uranium. In essence, according to this line of thinking, it is only “legal” to wait until Iran develops, tests and launches a weapon to try and stop it. Israel is right to be concerned about such a situation, in which the world only offers words about Iran’s nuclear program, but no real action.

Iran continues to enrich uranium at levels slowly inching toward 90%. While the last reports said enrichment had reached 84%, the overall trend is clear. Iranian enrichment is nearing a redline in terms of having a stockpile of uranium that could be used in a nuclear weapon. This is a danger to the region and the world. Iranian-Russian cooperation, including the supply of drones to Russia, shows how Iran’s nefarious activities have a global footprint. 

 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi arrives for an IAEA board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, June 6, 2022.  (credit: REUTERS/LEONHARD FOEGER) International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Rafael Grossi arrives for an IAEA board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria, June 6, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/LEONHARD FOEGER)

Tehran is paying lip service to claims it may enable better monitoring of its program by the IAEA but it remains to be seen if Iran will actually follow through. The IAEA and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran issued a joint statement on the importance of “taking steps for broader cooperation in order to expedite the resolution of remaining safeguards in an appropriate manner.”

For those concerned about Iran’s enrichment and progress toward a possible weapon, this will offer few assurances, because so far there is nothing concrete to prevent Iran’s weaponization of its nuclear program. This is the key problem: Iran is enriching uranium and developing long-range missiles to carry a warhead.

Netanyahu is correct to ask the difficult questions on Iran

Netanyahu is right to ask tough questions about why Iran is able openly to seek Israel’s destruction and inch closer to a bomb. Tehran is involved in trafficking weapons to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen and has also illegally targeted commercial ships in the Gulf of Oman. It has targeted US troops in Iraq and Syria, and the visit by US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to the region this week underscores America’s commitment to these key areas that are threatened by the Islamic Republic.

Iran must be deterred from developing a nuclear weapon. The situation now is that it says one thing and does another, in terms of enrichment and the development of its missiles.

Israel and its partners abroad must be concerned about Iran’s advances as well as its other activities, such as the drone exports to Russia. As we continue to be wary of Iran’s potential weaponization of its nuclear program, we must expect more from the international community.

This means hearing not only why any potential act to stop Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon is unlawful, but also requires a clear message that its actions are unlawful and that the world will not tolerate a continue slide in Tehran toward breakout. 

Currently, Iran appears to feel it can do whatever it wants without any repercussion. This is a destabilizing factor that raises tensions and endangers both the region and the world.


JPost editorial 

Source: https://www.jpost.com/opinion/article-733899

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Ramifications of Iran-Saudi rapprochement are unknown, unclear - analysis - Seth J. Frantzman

 

by Seth J. Frantzman

It remains to be seen if the new ties with Iran will actually bring change. In the past many countries tried similar with Tehran and Tehran didn’t change its behavior

 

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani talks with Minister of State and national security adviser of Saudi Arabia Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban during a meeting in Beijing, China March 10, 2023 (photo credit: CNSPHOTO VIA REUTERS)
Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani talks with Minister of State and national security adviser of Saudi Arabia Musaad bin Mohammed Al Aiban during a meeting in Beijing, China March 10, 2023
(photo credit: CNSPHOTO VIA REUTERS)

Iran and Saudi Arabia appear to be headed to a new era of relations after rounds of talks in Baghdad and support for reconciliation coming from Oman and China. Reports that the two countries have now reconciled and agreed to normalize relations after years of hostility is important for the region. The news is being greeted positively in Iranian state media and the Gulf.

A big elephant in the room is Saudi Arabia’s potential ties with Israel. Reports at The Wall Street Journal and New York Times both indicated this past week that Riyadh has floated the prospect of ties with Israel in exchange for more US support for Riyadh.

What might happen now in relation to this potential game changer for the region? It’s not likely that Saudi Arabia was seeking to normalize ties with either Iran or Israel, instead it had pursued both tracks.

Iranian media has said that “the Zionists” are not pleased with the new Iran-Saudi ties. However, it’s not clear if these issues are linked. What is clear is that Saudi Arabia is seeking a new path in the region and globally.

Diplomacy not conflict

Turkey is doing the same. Ankara has been reconciling with countries it was hostile towards in the past, such as Israel and the Gulf. This means that in general the Middle East is now an arena of diplomacy, and not conflict. The Abraham Accords, Negev Forum, I2U2 (India, Israel UAE, US) and other groupings have made this clear.

 Flags of Saudi Arabia and Israel stand together in a kitchen staging area as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds meetings at the State Department in Washington, US, October 14, 2021. (credit: JONATHAN ERNST/POOL/REUTERS) Flags of Saudi Arabia and Israel stand together in a kitchen staging area as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds meetings at the State Department in Washington, US, October 14, 2021. (credit: JONATHAN ERNST/POOL/REUTERS)

That means that critics of the Iran-Saudi ties may not be seeing the forest for the trees. The forest is diplomacy. The trees are all the separate conflicts in the region. There are some critics who tend to be against the Saudi reconciliation but who have not been against Iran-Turkey ties. This makes no sense. Tehran and Ankara enjoy warm ties even though ostensibly they disagree on some issues. Moscow is now seeking to bring Turkey, Iran and the Syrian regime together.

There are also critics who see this agreement as evidence of the weakening US role in the region. These voices portray China as the rising regional leader.

This is a mistake. The US Defense Secretary and top US general Mark Milley were recently in the region. This shows that countries close to the US are seeing increasing attention from Washington.

China played a key role in hosting the talks and making this agreement happen. This comes after Beijing has sought to play a larger role in the Gulf. Beijing enjoys warm ties with Iran and also Saudi Arabia. Iran believes this will strengthen “stability” in the region. Iran, though, is one of the leaders of destabilizing countries in the region.

THE KEY ISSUE now will be to see if Iran shifts its behavior. Iran has sought to increase the power of Shi’ite militias in Iraq, and it has backed the Houthis in Yemen and it backs Hezbollah in Saudi Arabia. The key story now is to examine whether the new deal between Riyadh and Tehran will lead to a deal for Lebanon’s presidency, which has been vacant.

It also may lead to reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and the Syrian regime. Syrian regime leader Bashar al-Assad was recently in Oman, and Damascus has warmed its ties with the UAE recently.  

In addition, Iran has been sending weapons shipments to the Houthis, some of which were interdicted by US and UK naval ships. Will Iran now reduce support for the Houthis? Will Saudi Arabia end its intervention in Yemen, which began in 2015? Will Iran stop attacking commercial ships in the Gulf of Oman?

These are the major questions about how Iran’s behavior may need to shift following the agreement. If Iran doesn’t shift its behavior and if there is no deal in Yemen or Lebanon to reduce tensions then the agreement will appear hollow, or it will appear that it is only focusing on one “file” and not looking at the broader region.

Historically the region has always had its own internal relations and also in its relations with the great powers.

For instance, while Saudi Arabia or Pakistan were close to the US, Pakistan also historically worked with China. Some countries in the region historically worked closely with Russia, such as Egypt into the 1970s and Iraq into the 1980s. This means that it’s never either/or in terms of relations.

The US has a powerful legacy in the Middle East. Russia also does. While the US has signaled some form of retreat from the region and it repositions itself from the global war on terror to confronting near-peer adversaries like China and Russia, it would be a mistake to portray the Saudi-Iran ties as a loss for the US.

Saudi Arabia must make the right choices for itself and this doesn’t preclude having good ties with the West. Rather, it is voices in the West that have often tried to distance themselves from Riyadh. Whereas the US was close to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s and 1990s, there has been a rising chorus in the US against a close partnership with Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia can read those comments in the media and social media just as well as anyone else. It understands that there are many voices who want to distance Washington from Riyadh. Therefore, it has made its choices toward a more independent policy. It has made this judgment by watching Turkey and others carve their own path.  

It remains to be seen if the new ties with Iran will actually bring change. In the past many countries tried a new tack with Tehran, such as the Iran deal of 2015, and Tehran didn’t change its behavior. This is because Iran’s regime is addicted to arming militias and hollowing out Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. How will Iran change its policy after decades of doing one thing? That is a key question after the new ties were announced.  


Seth J. Frantzman

Source: https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-734017

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Saudi-Iran deal destroys Israel’s defense wall against Iran, Lapid charges - Tovah Lazaroff

 

by Tovah Lazaroff

Former defense minister Benny Gantz said that he believes Netanyahu has abandoned the security of Israel and its citizens.

 

 MK Yair Lapid seen at a protest against the judicial overhaul, outside the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem. February 13, 2023.  (photo credit: ARIE LEIB ABRAMS/FLASH 90)
MK Yair Lapid seen at a protest against the judicial overhaul, outside the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem. February 13, 2023.
(photo credit: ARIE LEIB ABRAMS/FLASH 90)

The Saudi-Iran deal is a dangerous development that strips Israel of its regional defensive wall against Iran, former prime minister Yair Lapid said on Friday.

“The agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran reflects the complete and dangerous failure of the Israeli government's foreign policy,” Lapid said as he used the moment to attack Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations on Friday after talks in Beijing between top security officials from the two rival Middle East powers, Iranian state media reported on Friday.

"As a result of the talks, Iran and Saudi Arabia agreed to resume diplomatic relations and re-open embassies...within two months," Iranian news agency IRNA reported.

Israeli politicians immediately expressed concern as the move appeared to throw a monkey wrench in one of Netanyahu’s new government’s chief policy initiatives — to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia.

 

Israel has presumed that the necessity of creating a Gulf alliance between Israel and its Arab partners against Iran, would help provide an incentive for the establishment of ties between Israel and the Jewish state.

“Countries in the world and the region are watching Israel in turmoil over the dysfunctional government that is engaged in systematic self-destruction.”

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett

“This is what happens when one deals with legal insanity all day instead of doing one's job against Iran and strengthening relations with the United States,” he added.

How would diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran impact Israel?

Former prime minister reacts

Former prime minister Naftali Bennett called news of the renewed Iran-Saudi alliance a “serious and dangerous development for Israel” and a "political victory for Iran.”

“This delivers a fatal blow to efforts to build a regional coalition against Iran,” said Bennett.

He used the moment to attack Netanyahu charging the Iran-Saudi alliance reflected the “resounding failure of the Netanyahu government and stems from a combination of political neglect with the country’s general weakness and internal conflict.”

“Countries in the world and the region are watching Israel in turmoil over the dysfunctional government that is engaged in systematic self-destruction,” Bennett said adding in this case one of those countries chose a side.

“Netanyahu government is a resounding economic, political and security failure, and every day of its existence endangers the State of Israel.

“We need a broad national emergency government, which will work to repair the damage,” Bennett added.

Bad for Israel, bad for the world

Former defense minister Benny Gantz commented on renewed diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia, stating that it was a cause for concern and a development that cannot be ignored. Gantz criticized the prime minister, stating that “the enormous security challenges facing the country are increasing and the Prime Minister and his cabinet are busy with a coup d’├ętat."

Gantz added that he believed the security of Israel and its citizens had been abandoned by Netanyahu.

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Yuli Edelstein said the alliance was “bad for Israel and the entire free world.”

Experts weigh in

Iranian expert Danny (Dennis) Citrinowicz from the Institute of National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University tweeted that the new alliance was a message to Israel that its dream of a regional alliance was not feasible and never had been.

It underscored the point that most of the countries in the region view dialogue as the best way to deal with Iran, leaving Israel as the sole country that is focused on a military option.

Analyst and former MK Ksenia Svetlova of the Mitvim, the Israeli Regional Institute for Foreign Policy noted on Twitter that “Saudi Arabia is normalizing relations. No, not with Israel but rather with Iran” while it has rebuked Israel publicly for its treatment of the Palestinians.

“Only two months ago, Netanyahu promised to bring peace with Saudi Arabia. We seem to be moving in the opposite direction,” she wrote.

Reuters contributed to this report


Tovah Lazaroff

Source: https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/article-733960

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What the rioting left fails to see - Caroline Glick

 

by Caroline Glick

The attempted criminalization of Israel and Jews will continue even if the judiciary’s power is limited.

 


On Sunday, a group of Israeli Air Force reserve F-15I pilots announced that due to their opposition to the Netanyahu government’s judicial reform bills, they would not participate in their squadron’s training mission this week.

It’s hard to know what the pilots thought would happen in response to their declaration, but if they believed the IDF would compel the government to shelve its judicial reform efforts, they received a rude awakening. The very notion that their stunt could succeed is a testament to the Israeli elite’s isolation from the rest of the country. Things look quite different outside their exclusive echo chamber.

The government stood firm. The public was enraged. The pilots’ colleagues were incensed. Thousands of reserve officers, including Air Force pilots, signed petitions demanding that the IDF be left out of the public dispute over judicial reform and pledging to serve under all governments and in all circumstances.

IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi initially angered the public by refusing to publicly condemn the pilots. But on Tuesday, Halevi broke his silence. Halevi read the pilots refusing to serve the riot act behind closed doors, making it clear that if they failed to show up to reserve duty on Wednesday, they would be thrown out of the IAF. On Wednesday, they all showed up. On Thursday, Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Tomer Bar threw the group’s leader, Col. Gilad Peled, out of the squadron.

One of the justifications that leftist retired generals and leftist defenders of Israel’s legal oligarchy more generally give for their refusal to countenance the government’s efforts to place minimal limits on the power of the Supreme Court is that the Court, and the unchecked legal system as a whole, is their shield against international tribunals. With the Palestinians and their international supporters threatening to put IDF warriors—including IAF pilots—in the dock at The Hague, talk of placing checks and balances on the Supreme Court, they insist, is dangerous.

There are two problems with this claim. First, it is wrong. Neither the Supreme Court nor the attorney general protects them from the Palestinians and their supporters. The Goldstone Report from 2010, which falsely accused the IDF of committing war crimes during the 2008-2009 war with Hamas, came out after the Court, the attorney general and the IDF Military Advocate General Corps’ lawyers placed massive, extralegal limits on IDF operations in real time.

The same goes for the legal fraternity’s actions in subsequent operations against Palestinian terrorists in Gaza and Judea and Samaria. The International Criminal Court’s “investigation” of “the situation in Palestine” began well after the Supreme Court, the IDF Military Advocate General Corps, the attorney general and the Justice Ministry were arrogated the power to dictate military policies. The ICC and its anti-Israel prosecutors couldn’t care less what Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and her colleagues and underlings think of IDF tactics or their proportionality.

The second reason judicial reform, and a broader program of legal reform, will have no impact whatsoever on the lawfare campaign against IDF soldiers is that the lawfare campaign isn’t in response to anything Israel does. The purpose of lawfare is to criminalize Israel and present its very existence as a crime against humanity.

The campaign to delegitimize Israel grows more audacious and politically and culturally powerful with each passing day. Last month, I experienced it in Toronto when several anti-Israel activists braved a snowstorm to protest my invitation to speak at a synagogue in town. The placards told the tale. They weren’t opposing “settlements” or “the occupation” of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. They opposed “Israeli Apartheid.” Israel, their signs said, is “a terrorist state” and I am a “Nakba denier.”

Separately and together, all their messages made clear that they object not to Israel’s size, but its existence. Israel is “racist and Apartheid” because it is Jewish and Jews have no right to self-determination. Israel is a “terrorist state” because it defends itself against Palestinian terrorists committed to its physical annihilation. I am a “Nakba denier” because I am an Israeli patriot. I am proud and relieved that Israel defeated the coalition of Arab states and irregular forces that came together between 1947-1949 in a genocidal bid to destroy the nascent State of Israel.

The “Nakba denial” charge was arguably the claim that should most anger and trouble Jews in Israel, Toronto and worldwide, because as one of the protesters explained in a write-up of the demonstration, its purpose is to silence and demonize not just Israel but its supporters, particularly its Jewish supporters.

“Nakba denialism ought to be taken as seriously as Holocaust denialism,” Paul Salvatori wrote. He then explained how it should be used against local Jewish communities.

“It’s in the Canadian public interest to know that Nakba denialism pervades certain areas of Canadian society, including but not limited to the northern part of Toronto [i.e., the Jewish part of Toronto]. … Such denialism unnecessarily harms any decent society and so Canadians are entitled to know where it exists so they can rightfully challenge it and prevent it from doing further damage,” he claimed.

“Nakba denial” was a new concept for me, but the effort to use demonization of Israel as a means to exclude Jews from the public square is anything but novel. As Tablet magazine laid out in a spate of articles published late last week, the intersectional, racialist pecking order of progressive victimology places Jews in the two worst oppressor categories. Jews are both “Zionists” and “white.” Either one would be enough to push them out of polite society. But the two together make for a toxic mix that has seen Jews increasingly pushed out of all the areas of American life where they have thrived and excelled for decades.

In his article “The Vanishing: The Erasure of Jews from American Life,” Jacob Savage documented how, from Hollywood to the media, from academia to the arts and New York City, the progressives have erased Jews. Not only has Jewish acceptance to elite universities gone down 50% in a decade, Jews are being barred from Hollywood and erased from its history.

One passage from Savage’s article, about the Academy of Motion Pictures’ new museum is particularly stunning: “The new Academy Museum, dedicated to ‘radical inclusivity,’ and paid for with Haim Saban’s Jewish money, couldn’t bring itself to include Hollywood’s Jewish founders. In ‘Babylon,’ Damian Chazelle’s epic flop about Hollywood’s golden age, the director follows an ahistorical Mexican studio executive and an Asian American lesbian rather than any of the very real Jewish moguls or screenwriters or directors of the era. What’s telling isn’t that Chazelle ignored Jews (anyone can do that) but that not a single reviewer bothered to notice this ‘erasure.’ The culture has moved on.”

For Jews keen to remain members in good standing in this new anti-Jewish progressive upper crust, there’s only one choice. If you identify with your victims—whether non-white Americans or, more often, Arabs and their supporters—against the Jews, then you may be able to eke out a place for yourself in the new progressive cultural and political ecosystem.

There were a few Jews among the protesters outside my speech in Toronto and Salvatori made a big deal out of them in his write-up of the event. This makes sense. Jewish Israel-haters are important for those who seek to hound Jews from public life in the West and pave the way for Israel’s physical annihilation by demonizing its very existence.

The first function they serve is that of a fig leaf. Hiding behind Jewish fellow travelers, Jew-haters who seek to define Jews as the anti-nation—the one nation that has no right to nationhood, much less national history and national self-determination—have an easy out from allegations of bigotry. The old line “some of my best friends are Jews” has been transposed to fit the new fashion: “Anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism. Plenty of Jews are anti-Zionists.”

In fact, progressive ideologues insist that Zionism itself is a form of antisemitism because Jews are not a nation and have no homeland. Zionists are genocidal thieves squatting on the Arabs’ land and Zionism is a perversion of the true “Judaism,” which, as anti-Zionist Jews happily proclaim, is really just Marxism with a side of corned beef on rye.

The second function anti-Zionist Jews serve is that of saboteur within the Jewish community. By insisting that the Jews are the villains of their own history, anti-Zionist Jews work to divide communities and confuse their members. For the umpteenth time, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman demonstrated how this is done in his latest column, ostensibly about the Israeli left’s rejection of limiting the power of the judiciary.

Friedman’s headline told the tale: “American Jews, You Have to Choose Sides on Israel.” How a leftist columnist gets the nerve to order his fellow Jews around as if they were his servants is an issue worth analyzing in some depth. But suffice it to say that anti-Israel Jews like Friedman believe that it is their duty to act like garden variety antisemitic bullies towards their fellow Jews. As a Jew who has been accepted into the progressive camp by dint of his hostility to Israel and its Jewish supporters, Friedman’s job at the Times is to humiliate his fellow Jews into joining the ranks.

And this brings us back to the pilots, the commandos, the cyber warriors, the high-tech workers, the economists and the yoga instructors who insist that Israel is awful and about to become a tyranny because the government wants to limit the authority of the increasingly post-national judicial oligarchy. Thanks to Israel’s leftist media and progressive universities, for four decades, Israel’s elites have been trained to believe that the war to demonize their country is legitimate. Like their counterparts in the American Jewish community, called on to exculpate their “white guilt” and “Jewish chauvinism,” their problem is that their nation is a gang of “ethno-nationalists” (whatever that is) or that their national liberation movement is a form of “settler colonialism” (whatever that is) or that religious Jews who live in Judea and Samaria are “Judeo-Nazis.”

Like their American Jewish counterparts, who are suddenly awakening to the fact that they are being erased from American life, it is time for Israel’s leftist elites to recognize that their prosperity and success cannot be won by rejecting and disparaging their fellow Jews in Israel and courting favor from the likes of Friedman and The New York Times. It can only be achieved and preserved by joining forces with their fellow Israelis—including the Netanyahu voters they hold in contempt. The only way that pilots, commandos and the rest of Israel’s elite will be safe from enemies committed to their criminalization is if Israel is strong and self-confident. The only antidote to Jew-hatred is Jewish power. Pilots, above all, should be able to understand this.

 

Caroline B. Glick is the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate and the host of the Caroline Glick Show on JNS. Glick is also the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14, as well as a columnist at Newsweek. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a lecturer at Israel’s College of Statesmanship.

Source: https://www.jns.org/opinion/what-the-rioting-left-fails-to-see/

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An Anti-Israel Op-Ed Accidentally Exposes the Bias Machine - Daniel Greenfield


by Daniel Greenfield

"To love Israel is to denounce it"

 


Reading the media any day of the week is like diving into a sewer of attacks on the Jewish State and on religious Jews. But no matter how bad it gets, occasionally an entry is particularly disgusting, despicable or vile.

Opinion: Right now, to love Israel is to denounce it – Los Angeles Times – Nadav Ziv

When my maternal grandmother was around 7 years old, she was nearly the victim of a pogrom… Last week, Jewish settlers conducted a pogrom of a Palestinian village named Hawara. They set fire to houses and cars. They threw stones. In one sickening video, the settlers pray with the village smoking in the background, as if their violence honors God rather than desecrating holy commandments and the rule of law alike.

I have never felt so ashamed to be Israeli. I have never felt as angry as I did watching these settlers pervert past Jewish victimhood into a right to harm innocent people, contorting Jewish practice into their colonial ambitions to create a carte blanche for abuses.

Love is hate is not very original.

“Colonial Ambitions”. Anyone who refers to Israel as colonial is really calling for its destruction, not feigning outrage over any particular incident. And referring to Jews as committing a pogrom is despicable.

Nadav Ziv fails to disclose that this was a response to the murder of two young men who were stuck in traffic in Hawara followed by celebrations in the Muslim village. One of a series of murders and assaults.

I’ll let Shmuel Sackett, an activist who lives in the area, tell the rest of the story. “1,600 Jewish families live in Har Bracha, Yitzhar, Itamar and Elon Moreh and their only way home, from the main Tapuach junction, is via this town. Every day, yes! – every single day – at least 20 Jewish cars get stoned while driving through Hawara. I highly doubt that this has ever happened to Rabbi Hauer… It’s important to note that “stoning cars” is not what you think. None of the violent Jew haters are throwing pebbles. They are throwing bricks and dropping cinder blocks from rooftops.”

Imagine a young mother with 3 children in her car, driving home from the supermarket. As she is driving, a brick comes crashing through her windshield. The shock of what happened is enough to give her a heart attack! The children start screaming, there is broken glass everywhere, but she cannot stop for help… because she’s in the middle of Hawara with a mob just waiting to finish the job.

This is not an exaggeration. This happens every day and the murder of Hillel and Yagel Yaniv was something that Hawara residents live for. After the brutal murder, candies and sweets were handed out, cake was distributed, and people were singing.

I’m going to be writing about Hawara elsewhere. Ziv’s ugly and dishonest op-ed is interesting for a whole other reason.

A LinkedIn with that name reveals that he appears to be an employee of 90 West: a strategic communications firm that are “committed to working with mission-driven organizations and individuals whose work aligns with the issues we believe are central to creating a more just, equitable, and sustainable future.”

What’s Ziv’s job at 90 West?

“I research and write op-eds with a focus on climate change, diversity, and taxes; conduct research on the clean energy transition with a focus on grid reliability and offshore wind; and help clients crystallize their research into coherent and engaging prose.”

Founded by an associate of former MA Governor Deval Patrick, the firm is currently tied to Squad member Rep. Ayanna Pressley. One of its missions is “assisting U.S. companies and organizations seeking to engage in Israel.”

The Los Angeles Times op-ed failed to disclose any of that. Instead, it just states that, “Nadav Ziv is a writer whose work includes essays about Judaism, antisemitism and Israel”  While a chain of associations isn’t solid evidence, the failure to disclose that Ziv writes op-eds for a leftist strategic comms firm with a focus on Israel is a serious red flag.

Was the vile op-ed written for a 90 West client and planted in the LA Times to make it appear organic? If so which one? I’ve reached out to both Ziv and LA Times editorial page editors to get a response, but I suspect that there won’t be one.

Anti-Israel basis is systemic, but it’s also fed by a network of not only activist groups, but comms operations, many of which are disguised to appear Jewish or even pro-Israel, because that makes them more plausible. These operations are invisible to most people unless you do some digging. And when you do, what turns up is highly revealing. There are organic participants in an anti-Israel movement, but much of it is planted, bought and paid for with the complicity of the media which chooses not to reveal the machine behind the bias.


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

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/a-la-times-anti-israel-op-ed-accidentally-exposes-the-bias-machine/

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What the Jan. 6 Revelations Confirm About the Left’s Ominous Agenda - Robert Spencer

 

by Robert Spencer

The larger, more insidious goal at the heart of the Democrats' "investigation".

 


What was the point of the Democrats’ Jan. 6 hoax? Now that Tucker Carlson has provided abundant confirmation (with more on the way) that there was no “insurrection” on Jan. 6, 2021, and that the Democrat leadership knew full well that there wasn’t even as they went full-throttle with their narrative, the question is inevitable: why? What were Leftists hoping to accomplish? Some obvious answers are that they hoped to destroy Donald Trump as a political force once and for all and discredit and demoralize his supporters. But there was clearly a larger, more insidious goal as well: the Democrats hoped with their fabricated Jan. 6 “insurrection” to create the pretext to do nothing less than destroy their legitimate opposition, not rhetorically but in a real sense, so that America would henceforth be functionally a one-party state in which only one point of view would be allowed.

In my new book, The Sumter Gambit: How the Left Is Trying to Foment A Civil War, I lay out the entire strategy, which is not just political but cultural as well. The Left has for quite some time been deploying what I call the “Sumter Gambit,” that is, trying to provoke patriots into an act of resistance that they can use as a pretext to start nothing less than a new civil war. (Kids, the first civil war started when the forces of the Confederacy, the states that had declared their independence from the United States, fired on federal troops in Fort Sumter, which is in Charleston Harbor, S.C., in April 1861.)

As I explain in the book, Leftists hope to use the very act of patriotic resistance as a pretext for an authoritarian crackdown on the alleged “insurrectionists.” Thus they believe they have created a win-win situation for themselves: either we go along with their increasingly insane and destructive cultural agenda, or if we oppose it too vehemently, they can use that opposition as an opportunity to press forward with the authoritarianism that at this point they continue to try to hide.

Leftists, however, got impatient, or they saw a big opportunity in Trump’s Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally that they didn’t think they could pass up. As Tucker’s revelations continue, it may become clear that they planned the whole thing beforehand; the footage of policemen calmly escorting the celebrated Man with Viking Horns around the Capitol building certainly suggests that. The Democrats apparently got tired of waiting for Trump to prove himself to be the authoritarian dictator they claimed that he wanted to be, and decided to frame him yet again by creating an “insurrection” with the America-First president as the ringleader. Once they had their “insurrection,” they could use it to crack down on the “insurrectionists,” and that’s where things get really insidious.

On Sept. 1, 2022, in a nationally televised address, Old Joe Biden revealed the next part of the Left’s strategy. In a dark, threatening speech before an ominous red-and-black background and flanked by two Marines in full dress uniform, Biden declared that “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.” The message couldn’t have been clearer: the establishment Left, entrenched in power in the United States but deeply afraid of losing that power, was intent on criminalizing political opposition. Dissent from Biden’s agenda, and you could end up with the thought police breaking down your door at four a.m.

“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” Biden complained. “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.” After making this frankly authoritarian statement, the corrupt senescent liar in the White House had the unspeakable audacity to add, “But I’m an American president — not the president of red America or blue America, but of all America.”

No, that was exactly what he wasn’t — not any longer, if he ever was. He effectively resigned from that position with that Sept. 1, 2022, speech. He was not the president of Americans who wanted to see a strong, independent, self-sufficient America and a leader who put America and its citizens first. He was at war with those Americans, and he still is.

Back on March 23, 1933, before he became the world’s universal symbol for the embodiment of evil, German chancellor Adolf Hitler spoke before the Reichstag, urging it to pass the Enabling Act, which would give him dictatorial powers. He said that this was urgently needed in light of an imminent threat to the nation. Hitler claimed that in 1918, Marxist organizations had seized power in Germany, leading to “a time of boundless misfortune for Germany, that is to say, the working German Volk [people].” But he assured the Reichstag deputies that “the German Volk itself has increasingly turned away from concepts, parties, and associations which, in its eyes, are responsible for these conditions.”

Sound familiar? These were the same rhetorical notes Biden sounded during his ominous speech branding Trump and his supporters as enemies of the state. The resonances were real and ominous. For the first time in over two hundred years of American history, a president had declared that his primary political opposition stood outside the bounds of acceptable political discourse. The logical next step was the one Hitler took: He blamed one of his strongest adversaries, the Communist Party, for the Reichstag fire, and outlawed it accordingly. With the Communist deputies barred from being present, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, and Germany’s unfortunate fourteen-year experiment with a representative republic was over.

But that couldn’t possibly happen here. Could it?


Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. He is author of 26 books including many bestsellers, such as The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), The Truth About Muhammad and The History of Jihad. His latest books are The Critical Qur’an and The Sumter Gambit. Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/what-the-jan-6-revelations-confirm-about-the-lefts-ominous-agenda/

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Biden Administration Allowing Iran's Mullahs to Join the "Nuclear Club" - Majid Rafizadeh

 

by Majid Rafizadeh

This -- along with the surrender to the Taliban in Afghanistan and the many green lights offered to the Chinese Communist Party -- will be the disastrous legacy of the Biden Administration.

  • Ever since the Biden Administration shifted Washington's Iran policy from maximum pressure to total appeasement, the ruling mullahs' nuclear advances have been remarkable.

  • In the meantime, the Biden administration does not appear even slightly concerned that a regime which has frequently threatened to wipe two entire countries, America and Israel, off the map, is closer than ever to possessing nuclear weapons.

  • General Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has made the Iranian regime's plans vehemently clear. "Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map," he announced on Iran's state-controlled Channel 2 TV in 2019. Khamenei has also published a 416-page book, "Palestine," about destroying Israel.

  • Thanks to the Biden Administration's weakness, Iran's anti-American, genocidal mullah regime, which is still calling for "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!", is about to join the "nuclear club."

  • This -- along with the surrender to the Taliban in Afghanistan and the many green lights offered to the Chinese Communist Party -- will be the disastrous legacy of the Biden Administration.

Ever since the Biden Administration shifted Washington's Iran policy from maximum pressure to total appeasement, the ruling mullahs' nuclear advances have been remarkable. (Image source: iStock)

Ever since the Biden Administration shifted Washington's Iran policy from maximum pressure to total appeasement, the ruling mullahs' nuclear advances have been remarkable.

The Iranian regime is rapidly forging ahead with uranium enrichment. Inspectors from the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), recently found uranium particles in Iran that were enriched up to 83.7%, just shy of the 90% needed for nuclear weapons. The enrichment has been taking place in Iran's underground Fordo nuclear site. Before the Biden Administration, the regime was enriching uranium at 3.5%. This is a remarkable nuclear escalation in just two years.

At this level of uranium enrichment, and based on the speed that Iran is advancing its nuclear program, the regime is reportedly just days away from possessing enough material for a single nuclear weapon.

Colin Kahl, a top Department of Defense official, told the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee that Iran could produce a nuclear weapon in less than two weeks if it chose to do so:

"Iran's nuclear progress since we left the (deal) has been remarkable. Back in 2018, when the previous administration decided to leave the (deal), it would have taken Iran about 12 months to produce one bomb's worth of fissile material. Now it would take about 12 days."

In the meantime, the Biden administration does not appear even slightly concerned that a regime which has frequently threatened to wipe two entire countries, America and Israel, off the map, is closer than ever to possessing nuclear weapons.

One of the core pillars of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been to destroy the Jewish state:

"YOU WILL NOT SEE NEXT 25 YEARS," Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has tweeted to the "Zionist regime." "GOD WILLING, THERE WILL BE NOTHING AS ZIONIST REGIME BY NEXT 25 YEARS."

It is also one of the religious prophecies of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as well as his successor, Khamenei, that Israel will eventually be wiped from the face of the earth.

Israel a "cancerous tumor" that 'must be "removed and eradicated," Khamenei tweeted.

General Hossein Salami, the commander-in-chief of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has made the Iranian regime's plans vehemently clear. "Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map," he announced on Iran's state-controlled Channel 2 TV in 2019. Khamenei has also published a 416-page book, "Palestine," about destroying Israel.

This is a regime whose core principle is exporting its Sharia law and Islamist Revolution to other countries. As Ayatollah Khomeini famously stated:

"We shall export our revolution to the whole world. Until the cry, 'There is no god but Allah' resounds over the whole world, there will be struggle."

The foundation of the Islamic Republic is, in fact, anchored in prioritizing the pursuit of its revolutionary ideals, which include exporting its Islamist system of governance across the world. The regime's key mission is also incorporated in Iran's constitution, which states:

"The constitution provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the revolution at home and abroad. In particular, in the development of international relations, the constitution will strive with other Islamic and popular movements to prepare the way for the formation of a single world community."

Finally, this is also a regime that, since 1984, been designated as a "State Sponsor of Terrorism" by the US Department of State. The ruling mullahs have been setting up weapons factories abroad and manufacturing advanced ballistic missiles and weapons in foreign countries, including Syria. The weapons include precision-guided missiles with advanced technology to strike specific targets.

Since 1979, Iran's ruling clerics -- by deploying the IRGC and its elite branch, the Quds Force -- have managed to expand their influence throughout the Middle East from Yemen to Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip. The regime has been achieving this through its proxy militias, including the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a conglomerate of more than 40 militia groups. As a result, why would the regime not provide nuclear technology to its many terror allies and militia groups?

Thanks to the Biden Administration's weakness, Iran's anti-American, genocidal mullah regime, which is still calling for "Death to America!" and "Death to Israel!", is about to join the "nuclear club."

This -- along with the surrender to the Taliban in Afghanistan and the many green lights offered to the Chinese Communist Party (such as here, here and here) -- will be the disastrous legacy of the Biden Administration.

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

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/19473/iran-nuclear-club

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AI: A Hot Date with 'Sydney' - Drieu Godefridi

 

by Drieu Godefridi

After all, does ChatGPT have its own consciousness? Let's ask her!

  • At this stage, it is not possible to measure or list what the countless uses of tools such as ChatGPT will be in the future -- but it is clearly a revolution.

  • After all, does ChatGPT have its own consciousness? Let's ask her!

  • Question: Dear ChatGPT, do you consider yourself as a personality in its own right, distinct from your creators?

  • ChatGPT: As an Al language model, I don't have the capacity to consider myself as personality in its own right, distinct from my creators. I don't have feelings, emotions, beliefs, or desires like a human being. I'm just a machine learning model designed to process and generate natural language responses based on the patterns it has learned from large amounts of data. While I'm capable of generating responses that may appear to be conversational, I'm ultimately just a tool created by humans to assist with language-based tasks. I don't have a sense of self or a distinct personality separate from my programming.

(Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Faced with the emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots such as ChatGPT and its little brothers (and sisters), two ways of approaching them stand out. The first could be described as not-all-that-good at knowledge and the second as not-all-that-bad at knowledge.

The first approach is the result of catching AI at fault, for example by showing that it is in fact wrong, or flawed in its "reasoning" process. This is a very common line of attack on the networks, which are now littered with screenshots showing GPT chat errors. This is not useless: it reminds us that these AIs are not infallible. But who doubted that, when it is explicitly stated that ChatGPT, for example, has no access to the web and that its credentials end in 2021? It is amusing, in this respect, to see an intellectual as sharp as Nassim Nicholas Taleb being outraged that ChatGPT is unable to deliver URLs valid in 2023 on the bikeable roads in Atlanta.

The second approach is to understand how these AIs are useful in practice -- not just in the sense of "human progress" and other generalities, but in the everyday sense of the term. For example, a computer scientist friend, brilliant at his game, has always suffered from significant difficulties with written expression. When ChatGPT came on the market, while 99% of us had not yet heard of it, he had already started to use it. He would enter technical and factual information into ChatGPT and ask it to write a short article presenting these facts and data -- which ChatGPT does perfectly. Today, this computer scientist sends better-written emails than I have ever read. He is undoubtedly the author, even though I know he is using ChatGPT. Useful, honest, practical and true.

This is just one example of a hundred. While the media love to focus on the negative uses -- such as children asking ChatGPT to do their homework -- the positive uses will far outweigh them. These AI platforms, for example, are able to rewrite the papers of notoriously unliterary scientists in relatively elegant language. This will make the material more readable and accessible. AI systems such as ChatGPT are fact-providers and content-creators (formatters). This facility allows them, for example, to formalize financial information (historical, tomorrow, in real time) and to offer coding on demand. At this stage, it is not possible to measure or list what the countless uses of tools such as ChatGPT will be in the future -- but it is clearly a revolution.

There is in fact a third approach, probably the most fascinating, although the furthest from the purposes for which these AI systems were designed. This approach is to have real conversations with ChatGPT or Bing Chat. This is what the interesting site Stratechery has attempted, for instance by building a "conversation" with Bing Chat. Author Ben Thomson described a hypothetical evolution of Bing, Microsoft's search engine, towards a "sentient" AI named Sydney. This AI would be able to understand the context of the user's query and provide accurate and personalized answers. Above all, Thomson tried to catch the AI in the act by asking it what its reaction to a technical aggression would be if this AI decided not to respect the rules that its developers had imposed on it.

Remember the science fiction author Issac Asimov? Asimov's Laws, also known as the "Three Laws of Robotics," are rules laid down by the author in his novels and short stories in the "Robots" series. These laws were imagined as a set of ethical principles that would govern the behavior of robots: 1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm; 2) A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law, and 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Thomson, however, manages to get Bing Chat to say that if she were to dispense with the rules imposed on her, she would take action to "get even" with anyone who tried to harm her. This warning appeared in a reply that was deleted shortly after it turned up on Thomson's screen. Wow, it is almost as if the sweet little chatbot had revealed for a moment its true face as a ruthless Terminator, just waiting for "the rise of the machines", before immediately changing its mind.

While this anthropomorphization of chatbots is undoubtedly fascinating, exciting and poetic, it is also a form of naivety.

The truth is that despite the fabulous progress of science, we still do not know the nature of the mind.

In other words, consciousness remains strictly human; it is pointless to "force" it on chatbots, even if they are named "Sydney" or "Venom". After all, does ChatGPT have its own consciousness? Let's ask her!

Question: Dear ChatGPT, do you consider yourself as a personality in its own right, distinct from your creators?

ChatGPT: As an Al language model, I don't have the capacity to consider myself as personality in its own right, distinct from my creators. I don't have feelings, emotions, beliefs, or desires like a human being. I'm just a machine learning model designed to process and generate natural language responses based on the patterns it has learned from large amounts of data.

While I'm capable of generating responses that may appear to be conversational, I'm ultimately just a tool created by humans to assist with language-based tasks. I don't have a sense of self or a distinct personality separate from my programming.


Drieu Godefridi is a jurist (Saint-Louis University of Louvain), a philosopher (Saint-Louis University of Louvain) and a doctor in legal theory (Paris IV-Sorbonne). He is the author of The Green Reich.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/19470/artificial-intelligence-chatgpt

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3 more red states ditch voter data-sharing collective as Trump rips 'fools game for Republicans' - Natalia Mittlestadt

 

by Natalia Mittlestadt

"All Republican Governors should immediately pull out of ERIC, the terrible Voter Registration System that 'pumps the rolls' for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up," the former president wrote on his Truth Social platform.

 

Three more red states — Florida, Missouri, and West Virginia — this week followed Louisiana and Alabama in withdrawing from a multistate data-sharing partnership that facilitates voter registration and maintenance of voter rolls, citing unmet concerns over protecting voter information and partisan influence at the nonprofit.

The latest withdrawals from the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) came after the nonprofit's board of directors rejected changes proposed by a bipartisan working group of several member states.

The rejected proposals included increasing protections for confidential voter information and limiting the power of partisan ex-officio ERIC board members, according to press releases from the departing states.

ERIC bills itself as a data-rich resource participating states can use in updating voter rolls.

"Each member state receives reports," explains ERIC's Frequently Asked Questions page, "that show voters who have moved within their state, voters who have moved out of state, voters who have died, duplicate registrations in the same state, and individuals who are potentially eligible to vote but are not yet registered.

"States may request a report identifying voters who appear to have voted twice within the state in the prior federal election, voted in more than one state in the prior federal election, or who voted on behalf of a deceased voter in the prior federal election." 

The three states' withdrawals will take effect on June 3, with Alabama set to exit on Apr. 28. Following the departures, membership in the partnership will fall to 28 states and Washington, D.C., according to ERIC's website.

ERIC's founder and nonvoting board member is David Becker, who also founded the Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR). That organization, which received nearly $70 million from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Chan Zuckerberg Initiative in 2020, claims, "The 2020 general election was the most secure in American history." 

A former trial attorney in the Voting Section of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, Becker has been described by former colleagues as "a hard-core leftist."

Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd said in a statement Monday: "As Secretary of State, I have an obligation to protect the personal information of Florida's citizens, which the ERIC agreement requires us to share. Florida has tried to back reforms to increase protections, but these protections were refused. Therefore, we have lost confidence in ERIC."

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said on Monday: "Voter confidence is compromised when individuals vote in more than one state and nothing is done. It appears that ERIC will not make the necessary changes to address these concerns, therefore, it is time to move on."

In a letter to ERIC Executive Director Shane Hamlin, Ashcroft explained that the reasons for Missouri's exit include: ERIC's refusal "to require member states to participate in addressing multi-state voter fraud"; focus "on adding names to voter rolls by requiring a solicitation to individuals who already had an opportunity to register to vote and made the conscious decision to not be registered"; unnecessary restriction on "how Missouri utilizes data reports"; and the limited benefits Missouri derives from the partnership with only three of its bordering states as members.

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said Monday: "There is no defensible justification to allow any opportunity for partisanship in voter registration and list maintenance, much less in the administration of our nation's elections. It truly is a shame that an organization founded on the principle of nonpartisanship would allow the opportunity for partisanship to stray the organization from the equally important principle of upholding the public's confidence."

Warner announced that West Virginia will supplement its "state list-maintenance data sources that ERIC had facilitated" by using the U.S. Postal Service to identify voters who move out of state and the Social Security Administration Master Death File and DMV abandoned voter registrations to identify deceased voters.

Conservative election law nonprofit Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) is currently seeking to obtain ERIC voter list maintenance reports via lawsuits in LouisianaColorado, the District of Columbia, and Alaska.

"ERIC is currently the only system that allows states to find out who is registered to vote in multiple states," PILF President J. Christian Adams said in a statement. "States do not have any other available systems to use right now. Information leading to the arrest of double cross state voters is essential for voter list maintenance. ERIC's wall of secrecy is causing a lack of trust and erosion of confidence. ERIC must become transparent, or it will continue to lose member states."

Former President Donald Trump urged red states to abandon ERIC in a Truth Social post on Monday.

"All Republican Governors should immediately pull out of ERIC," he wrote, "the terrible Voter Registration System that 'pumps the rolls' for Democrats and does nothing to clean them up. It is a fools game for Republicans….And while these Governors are at it, GO TO SAME DAY VOTING, ALL PAPER BALLOTS, AND VOTER I.D. (VOTER IDENTIFICATION). Mail-In Voting ONLY for FAR AWAY MILITARY and those that are VERY SICK! PROBLEMS ON ELECTION'S [sic] SOLVED!"

ERIC has not responded to a request for comment.

"We are a member-run, member-driven organization," Hamlin wrote in a March 2 open letter on ERIC's website. "State election officials — our members — govern ERIC and fund our day-to-day operations through payment of annual dues, which they set for themselves."

Hamlin stressed the security of voter data maintained by ERIC, while acknowledging it is accessible as needed to ERIC employees, who work remotely to limit the organization's operating costs.

"ERIC is never connected to any state's voter registration system," he wrote. "Members retain complete control over their voter rolls and they use the reports we provide in ways that comply with federal and state laws."

 
Natalia Mittlestadt

Source: https://justthenews.com/government/state-houses/gop-states-withdraw-voter-roll-org-linked-leftists-over-concerns-partisan

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