Thursday, April 25, 2024

Iran’s Nightmares - Victor Davis Hanson


by Victor Davis Hanson

The Iranian attack on Israel seems a historic blunder. It opened up a new chapter in which its own soil, thanks to its attack on Israel, is no longer off limits to any Western power.



Details of the recent limited Israeli retaliatory strike against Iranian anti-aircraft missile batteries at Isfahan are still sketchy. But nonetheless, we can draw some conclusions.

Israel’s small volley of missiles hit their intended targets, to the point of zeroing in on the very launchers designed to stop such incoming ordnance.

The target was near the Natanz enrichment facility. That proximity was by design. Israel showed Iran it could take out the very anti-missile battery designed to thwart an attack on its nearby nuclear facility.

The larger message sent to the world was that Israel could send a retaliatory barrage at Iranian nuclear sites with reasonable assurances that the incoming attacks could not be stopped. By comparison, Iran’s earlier attack on Israel was much greater and more indiscriminate. It was also a huge flop, with an estimated 99 percent of the more than 320 drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles failing to hit their planned targets.

Moreover, it was reported that more than 50 percent of Iran’s roughly 115-120 ballistic missiles failed at launch or malfunctioned in flight.

Collate these facts, and it presents a disturbing corrective to Iran’s non-stop boasts of soon possessing a nuclear arsenal that will obliterate the Jewish state.

Consider further the following nightmarish scenarios: Were Iranian nuclear-tipped missiles ever launched at Israel, they could pass over, in addition to Syria and Iraq, either Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, or all four. In the cases of Jordan and Saudi Arabia, such trajectories would constitute an act of war, especially considering that some of Iran’s recent aerial barrages were intercepted and destroyed over Arab territory well before they reached Israel.

Iran’s strike prompted Arab nations, the US, the UK, and France to work in concert to destroy almost all of Iran’s drones. For Iran, that is a premonition of the sort of sophisticated aerial opposition it might face if it ever decided to stage a nuclear version.

Even if half of Iran’s ballistic missiles did launch successfully, only a handful apparently neared their intended targets—in sharp contrast to Israel’s successful attack on Iranian missile batteries. Is it thus conceivable that any Iranian-nuclear-tipped missile launched toward Israel might pose as great a threat to Iran itself or its neighbors as to Israel?

And even if such missiles made it into the air and even if they successfully traversed Arab airspace, there is still an overwhelming chance they would be neutralized before detonating above Israel.

Any such launch would warrant an immediate Israeli response. And the incoming bombs and missiles would likely have a 100 percent certainty of evading Iran’s countermeasures and hitting their targets.

Now that the soil of both Iran and Israel is no longer sacred and immune from attack, the mystique of the Iranian nuclear threat has dissipated.

It should be harder for the theocracy to shake down Western governments for hostage bribes, sanctions relief, and Iran-deal giveaways on the implied threat of Iran successfully nuking the Jewish state.

The new reality is that Iran has goaded an Israel that has numerous nuclear weapons and dozens of nuclear-tipped missiles in hardened silos and on submarines. Tehran has zero ability to stop any of these missiles or sophisticated fifth-generation Israeli aircraft armed with nuclear bombs and missiles.

Iran must now fear that if it launched 2-3 nuclear missiles, there would be overwhelming odds that they would either fail at launch, go awry in the air, implode inside Iran, be taken down over Arab territory by Israel’s allies, or be knocked down by the tripartite Israel anti-missile defense system.

Add it all up, and the Iranian attack on Israel seems a historic blunder. It showed the world the impotence of an Iranian aerial assault at the very time it threatens to go nuclear. It revealed that an incompetent Iran may be as much a threat to itself as to its enemies. It opened up a new chapter in which its own soil, thanks to its attack on Israel, is no longer off limits to any Western power.

Its failure to stop a much smaller Israel response, coupled with the overwhelming success of Israel and its allies in stopping a much larger Iranian attack, reminds the Iranian autocracy that its shrill rhetoric is designed to mask its impotence and to hide its own vulnerabilities from its enemies.

And the long-suffering Iranian people?

The truth will come out that its own theocracy hit the Israeli homeland with negligible results and earned a successful, though merely demonstrative, Israeli response in return.

So Iranians will learn their homeland is now vulnerable and, for the future, no longer off limits.

And they will conclude that Israel has more effective allies than Iran and that their own ballistic missiles may be more suicidal than homicidal.

As a result, they may conclude that the real enemies of the Iranian nation are not the Jewish people of Israel after all, but their own unhinged Islamist theocrats.

Victor Davis Hanson


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Iran tried to cover up damage of alleged Israeli strikes - report - Jerusalem Post Staff


by Jerusalem Post Staff

Iran appears to have replaced a damaged radar with a different, incompatible radar in order to hide the impact of the strike.


Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with a group of academic elites and scientific talents in Tehran, Iran October 19, 2022 (photo credit: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA/Handout via Reuters)
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with a group of academic elites and scientific talents in Tehran, Iran October 19, 2022
(photo credit: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA/Handout via Reuters)

Iran tried to cover up the damage caused by the alleged Israeli airstrike near Isfahan last week, satellite imagery shared with the Economist and the Institute for Science and International Security showed on Wednesday.

The alleged Israeli strike targeted an S-300 air defense battery near Isfahan in central Iran in response to a drone and missile attack launched by Iran against Israel earlier this month.

While at first, Iran claimed no damage had been caused in the alleged Israeli strike, satellite imagery shared by Planet Labs and the Institute for Science and International Security later revealed that the 30N6E2 Tombstone radar used by the S-300 air defense battery had been destroyed in the attack.

On Tuesday, the Institute for Science and International Security shared two high-resolution Airbus satellite images from April 19 and 20, showing the targeted location in the Eighth Shekari Air Base, where four missile launchers and a mobile radar were deployed.

 The S-300 missile system is seen during the National Army Day parade ceremony in Tehran, Iran, April 17, 2024. (credit: Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters)Enlrage image
The S-300 missile system is seen during the National Army Day parade ceremony in Tehran, Iran, April 17, 2024. (credit: Majid Asgaripour/WANA via Reuters)

According to the Institute for Science and International Security, the imagery appears to show that the vehicle the radar was on was hit and likely caught fire. Marks near the vehicle appear to be from extinguishing fluids used to fight the fire.

After the attack, a covering of some sort was placed on top of the mobile radar. On April 20, a new vehicle was placed where the radar used to be, possibly a replacement radar, although it doesn't seem to be the same type as the one that was damaged.

Iran replaced damaged radar with incompatible radar to save face

Chris Biggers, an imagery analyst who used to work for the US's National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, told the Economist that the Tombstone radar had been replaced with a 96l6e “Cheese board” radar, which is not interchangeable with the Tombstone radar, meaning the battery cannot operate with it.

“It’s a case of denial and deception to suggest the site is still operational," said Biggers to the Economist.

The targeted site is a key part of air defenses for nuclear sites in both Isfahan and Natanz, according to the Institute for Science and International Security.

Jerusalem Post Staff


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Hezbollah’s vast subterranean network in Lebanon is in a different league - Nadav Shragai


by Nadav Shragai

With the help of Iran and North Korea, the terrorist organization has been working for 18 years on attack, strategic and booby-trapped tunnels.


View of a Hezbollah tunnel that crosses from Lebanon to Israel, Feb. 14, 2023. Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90.
View of a Hezbollah tunnel that crosses from Lebanon to Israel, Feb. 14, 2023. Photo by Yossi Zamir/Flash90.

In the summer of 2008, a group of Christian Lebanese from the Jezzine area were making their way by car towards the well-known Maronite summer resort town when it was suddenly forced to stop after being fired on at a Hezbollah roadblock.

They failed to understand why they had been detained and were even more astonished when they were sent for comprehensive questioning as to what they were doing in the area where they lived.

It was only in hindsight, after they saw the bulldozers, the heavy drilling equipment, and several Asian-looking individuals, that they suddenly realized that the members of the Shi’ite terrorist organization suspected them of being spies, collecting information on the excavation work being carried out on a whole network of fortifications and tunnels in the vicinity of their own homes. The individuals, it later turned out, were professional tunneling consultants from North Korea.

Similar to what the residents of the Christian village of Rumaysh did two weeks ago, the Christians from the Jezzine area asked Hezbollah not to be involved and to stop the activity there. They were mainly concerned that during a war, the village would become a target for Israeli strikes due to Hezbollah’s use of it.

The map of Hezbollah bases in Southern Lebanon that was uploaded to the web 15 years ago. Source: Alma Research and Education Center.

When their pleas went unanswered, they or their friends decided to take action, uploading a map to the web with 36 geographical areas or communities circled to show Hezbollah’s deployment there as part of its setup against a possible IDF ground incursion in Lebanon.

More than they sought to cause damage to Hezbollah, or to help Israel, these Christians were trying to protect themselves and to keep the members of the terrorist organization at a safe distance away from them.

Only a few people noticed this mysterious map that was uploaded onto the internet some 15 years ago. It encompassed the entire region between Sidon in the west, Lake Qaraoun in the east, and Marj Ayyun and Nabatiyeh in the south.

But a decade later it was noticed by a bunch of ex-IDF Military Intelligence Directorate soldiers, analysts from the Alma Research and Education Center.

This is how that map became the basis for a comprehensive study of the Lebanese terrorist tunnel land, an extremely long and winding underground route that Hezbollah built in the Land of the Cedars, mainly in Southern Lebanon.

Since its establishment in 2018, the Alma Center has focused on the security challenges to the State of Israel along its northern border, and one of its main areas of interest is Hezbollah’s tunnel project.

Into the hard rock

Maj. (res.) Tal Be’eri, the head of the center’s research department and somebody who had himself researched and coordinated the center’s extensive work on Hezbollah’s tunnels in Lebanon, says that this project covers “hundreds of kilometers of underground facilities excavated into the hard rock—much more dangerous, deeper, wider and more difficult to unravel and destroy than anything we have come across in the Gaza Strip in recent months.”

Brig. Gen. (res.) Ronen Manelis says the tunnel system is “10 levels above anything we have come across in Gaza.”

Manelis was the IDF spokesperson, but before that, he was head of the Lebanon Branch in the IDF Northern Command and the intelligence officer of the IDF Gaza Division.

He also served as assistant to the then chief of IDF Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, in the two years preceding 2018’s “Operation Northern Shield” in which six attack tunnels, excavated by Hezbollah in Lebanon and crossing under the border fence into Israeli territory, were exposed and destroyed.

Manelis returned this week to a video clip that Hezbollah put out in 2008.

“In that clip,” he recalls, “in which Hezbollah, using maps and other visual illustrative aids, described how it intended to take over the border communities and the IDF military posts along the northern border, and even beyond that, it depicted a combination of ground, air and naval forces that would take part in the effort to occupy part of the Galilee.

“It did not include a single word about tunnels and underground facilities. That clip was released as part of a military deception exercise, and it took some time for Israel to understand what was really happening along its border. It was only in 2014, following the IDF’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ [war against Hamas in Gaza] that we came to realize that Hezbollah had built a whole network of offensive tunnels crossing into Israel.

“Over the course of time,” Manelis recounts, “the offensive tunnels were deciphered by us more precisely, and in late 2018 we arrived at the point where Israel faced a dilemma that it was not accustomed to dealing with: Should it neutralize the enemy’s capability prior to the enemy having any actual intention to use that specific capacity, or should we wait. Israel, after some complex deliberations at both the military and political policymaking levels, decided to target this infrastructure as part of ‘Operation Northern Shield.’

“The six tunnels that were uncovered, were either destroyed or neutralized, mainly by pumping enormous volumes of concrete into them, and also by blasting them. That was an extremely brave decision,” states Manelis, “Israel neutralized a clear and present danger and a genuine threat. [Hezbollah chief Hassan] Nasrallah was taken aback. I really don’t want to think what might have happened along the northern border had those tunnels been operational today.”

Q: A tunnel heading towards the town of Shlomi?

“The offensive tunnels that were destroyed in 2018 were supposed to enable companies from Hezbollah’s elite Radwan Force to infiltrate Israeli territory without them being spotted when crossing over, to take over military posts and civilian communities along the border, and at the same time to hit the IDF reinforcements rushing to respond.

“One tunnel, which was excavated from inside a private house, crossed the border southwards from Kafr Kila to Metula, a stone’s throw away on the other side of the border fence. Another tunnel departed from the village of Ramyah and reached a point adjacent to Moshav Zarit. An additional tunnel was excavated from the area of the village of Ayta ash-Sha’b towards the neighboring Moshav Shtula, and another one, reaching a depth of 55 meters, which also housed a railway for transporting equipment, also came out of Ramyah,” Manelis says.

Five years and one war that might turn out to still be in its infancy have elapsed since and northern Israel is far from being quiet. The heads of the local municipalities such as Metula Mayor David Azoulai and Shlomi Mayor Gabi Na’aman say that they have not yet received any clear or satisfactory answers to the question of whether or not there are any more Hezbollah attack tunnels crossing the border from Lebanon into Israel.

Na’aman tells of information passed on to him by two members of Knesset, according to which there is a tunnel heading towards Shlomi.

Azoulai tells of complaints made by residents who claim to have heard underground digging noises at night. “I am extremely anxious,” he admits.

Moshe Davidovich, the head of the Asher Regional Council in the Western Galilee, is also concerned. In a meeting held recently at the Knesset’s State Control Committee, he claimed, “IDF officers have told me that there are numerous tunnels in the north.”

In contrast, Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, the head of the IDF Northern Command, recently made it clear in a conversation he held with local authority heads in the north, at the clubroom of Kibbutz Hanita, that the IDF is engaged in a constant effort to trace terrorist infrastructure both above and below the ground. “If we do find a threat, we won’t keep it a secret from anyone,” he promised.

Following “Operation Northern Shield” in January 2019, Nasrallah, claimed that there were tunnels that the IDF had failed to uncover, even though it had publicly announced the completion of the operation. Former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon admitted after the operation that for years he had denied the existence of cross-border tunnels in order to confuse Hezbollah and to create the impression that Israel was not aware of what was going on.

Only two months ago, the French daily newspaper LibĂ©ration reported that during the current war, the IDF had dropped phosphorus bombs in Southern Lebanon to burn the vegetation and thus expose tunnel exits.

According to LibĂ©ration, 12 tunnel exits were uncovered and destroyed.

An Israeli military source was quoted as saying to the newspaper that the IDF uses movement sensors, fiber-optic cables, robots, drones and information sources to map out the tunnel network.

It is not wholly clear from the report whether this relates to cross-border attack tunnels or tunnels that form part of the extensive underground defensive and combat setup that Hezbollah has built deep under Southern Lebanon.

Whatever the case might be, although Hezbollah’s cross-border attack tunnels are an important part of the underground story of Southern Lebanon, according to all the indications and the information available, this is only a small part of a much more expansive picture, which has developed there over the last 18 years, a period in which Israel has done next to nothing against the “Tunnel Land” that Hezbollah built across Lebanon.

According to the information collected by Be’eri and the Alma staff from open sources, in addition to the offensive tunnels, Hezbollah has also built in Lebanon a broad network of strategic interregional tunnels covering tens and hundreds of kilometers, which are deployed and connect the chief command centers of the organization in Beirut with the Beqa’a Valley, and from there link with Southern Lebanon.

Moreover, according to Alma, the Hezbollah tunnel network also connects the various staging areas of the terrorist organization within Southern Lebanon itself.

A map of an approximate tunnel route in Lebanon. Credit: Alma Research and Education Center.

 ‘Approach tunnels’

Be’eri calls this network “The Hezbollah Tunnel Land.” He recounts how North Korean experts provided direct help with this project, and even brings a report from Asharq Al-Awsat, which was given to the popular Saudi newspaper by a senior officer from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

According to that report, a North Korean consultant helped in the construction of a highly sophisticated 25-km.-long (15.5-mile) tunnel in Lebanon, “a tunnel with numerous connection and collection points that Hezbollah used to transport and concentrate its forces.”

Be’eri assumes that there is more than one such tunnel.

“According to the testimonies,” he says, “Hezbollah has carried out fortification works in those geographical areas, using enormous amounts of building materials. The works were carried out by a Korean company called the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation under the supervision of an Iranian officer from the IRGC.

“The actual construction work was carried out by Hezbollah’s Jihad Construction Association, which is in fact a branch of the Iranian Jihad Construction Association, established in 1988. The Jihad Construction used companies under a civilian guise to build the ‘Tunnel Land.'”

“One of them,” so the Alma analysts think, “is the ‘Beqa’a for Construction and Contracting Work,’ or under its previous name, ‘The Iranian Authority for the Construction of Lebanon.’ The company was established in 2005 under the guise of the IRGC, and until 2013 it was headed by the Iranian military engineer Hassan Shateri, a senior IRGC officer with the rank of major general, who was killed in Syria about a decade ago.”

According to Be’eri, “Hezbollah’s strategic tunnels are fitted with underground C2 (command & control) rooms, arms and quartermasters’ stores, field clinics and dedicated tunnel shafts intended for firing various types of missiles (rockets, surface-to-surface missiles, anti-tank missiles, anti-aircraft missiles).”

Those shafts, the Alma experts believe, “are concealed and camouflaged, and they cannot be observed from above the ground. They are opened for only a very short period of time for the purpose of missile fire and then immediately closed again, in order to reload the hydraulic launcher with new arms.

“In addition, the tunnels enable forces [on foot or in vehicles] to be transported from one location to another for reinforcement, defense or conducting an offensive, all in the safest, most protected, and concealed manner possible. We believe that Hezbollah’s strategic tunnels also enable the movement of motorcycles, ATVs [all-terrain vehicles], and both small and medium-sized vehicles.

“The map with which we set off,” he confirms, “is the map that was uploaded to the internet by anonymous figures, perhaps from the Christian surroundings that had been disturbed by the Hezbollah presence in the area. Our most up-to-date information today indicates that the entire area—from Sidon in the west to Lake Qaraoun in the east and Nabatiyeh in the south—is linked by a network of strategic tunnels, which also serve as a platform for the storage and launching of arms, as well as for transporting forces.

“This is topography that combines tunnels and wadis where the tunnel networks are interrupted. Beyond the offensive and strategic tunnels,” Be’eri explains, “there are a further three types of tunnels: ‘Approach tunnels’ that allow Hezbollah to stealthily approach the border area without being exposed, and then, at least potentially, to try and breach the IDF border obstacle; [local] tactical tunnels, which are located in Hezbollah’s first and second defensive strips, to the Litani River, and from there inwards into the heart of Lebanon—they serve the organization for defense and for combat; as well as booby-trapped tunnels that are filled with explosives after being excavated in order to explode them, at a time to be chosen by Hezbollah, alongside Israeli targets such as an Israeli community or IDF post.

“As far as the issue of underground facilities is concerned,” Be’eri sums up, “Hezbollah is at the head of the food chain, and it is of course led by Iran. Hamas is Hezbollah’s industrious student, and the tunnels that it has established in Lebanon were excavated over a period of many years, in stone, so that their natural defense against a powerful strike is much stronger than those dug by Hamas in the sand of Gaza, in the south.”

‘A good intelligence picture’

“Apart from that, Manelis points out, “the underground network that Hezbollah built in Southern Lebanon, which includes bunkers and arms depots, enables it to move in a more protected and concealed manner between the villages, whose residents are Hezbollah men, and the open terrain, from which attacks are carried out. For example, the attack in which IDF soldiers Goldwasser and Regev were abducted in 2006 [the incident that triggered the Second Lebanon War—N.S.].

“That underground network also houses positions, which when the command is relayed, following a whistle, are meant to be occupied by members of the Radwan force.”

Manelis believes that Israel’s overall intelligence picture today regarding Hezbollah’s underground network is “not bad, and even a good one. It is slightly different to the Gaza area,” he points out, “in the Gaza Strip, everything is buried under a densely-populated built-up area. In Lebanon, there are both built-up areas and open terrain. But compared with the situation in Israel’s south, Hezbollah’s underground facilities are in a league of their own. They have genuinely built here an underground monster.

“It certainly won’t be easy,” Manelis assesses, “but, the fact that we have a good intelligence picture enables our forces to train in an orderly manner. They ought to know where the underground facilities are located, and I guess that even now, while the IDF is operating north of the border, its airstrikes are also hitting underground facilities and infrastructure.”

Q: Do you think that Israel should be taking the initiative to operate in an orderly fashion in order to destroy the Hezbollah Tunnel Land, as it does in the Gaza Strip?

“Israel should be operating wherever it might be forced to pay a heavy price in the future if it fails to take action now. On the other hand, it cannot simply engage in warfare for years against the enemy’s capabilities just because they exist, and as far as I am aware, it is very difficult to prevent the enemy from arming its forces with conventional arms. Therefore, the method involves a system of checks and balances and deterrents, and of course, also operations wherever that is necessary.

“Above all, we must not allow Hezbollah to obtain any game-changing weapon systems. Are precision weapons, in large quantities, that are aimed at the State of Israel, considered a game-changer? Yes, I believe so. Are cross-border tunnels that penetrate into Israeli territory also a game-changer? In my opinion, yes they are.”

Manelis levels harsh criticism at the “defeatist and alarmist policy” that Israel has adopted over the years in relation to Hezbollah, according to him, “including in response to the terrorist attack in Megiddo, and the tent that Hezbollah erected in Israeli territory and that we were afraid to take down, as well as the incident at the IDF ‘Gladiola’ post in 2020, when the soldiers were issued with an explicit order not to fire at the attackers, but only to fire into the air.

“In 2019 too, at Avivim, when Hezbollah AT [anti-tank] squads attacked, there was no return fire against them.”

Now, Manelis believes things are changing.

Like Okinawa

Engineer Yehuda Kfir, a former intelligence officer who served in both the Gaza Strip and in Lebanon, points out the high degree of natural protection afforded by the tunnels in Lebanon compared with in Gaza.

“This involves cutting into limestone, dolomite and on occasion into basalt rock. It is very difficult for air-dropped bombs or artillery shells to penetrate such material,” says Kfir.

“The topography in Lebanon also has an impact on the warfare there. It enables the enemy to create long-range fire positions, that are well-protected, concealed, and camouflaged deep in the heart of the territory, with arrays from which they can launch missiles either via direct or indirect fire, laser target designation, and even launching Iranian-made drones.”

Kfir believes, stressing that this is purely an assessment, that “the model of the war, in the event of a ground maneuver in Lebanon, will be similar to the Battle of Okinawa in the Second World War, in which the Japanese used the topography and the ridge lines that were fortified with tunnels across the island. This was a defensive array that made it extremely difficult for the U.S. Army to conquer the island, and even after it was conquered, the U.S. military continued to suffer considerable losses.”

In addition, he thinks that one of the undeclared reasons for the extensive evacuation of the civilian population from Israel’s northern border is concern over the existence of additional attack tunnels that have yet to be revealed. Kfir raises doubts as to the IDF’s level of readiness to engage in underground warfare in Lebanon.

“Despite the experience that we have accumulated now in the Gaza Strip, this is a whole new ball game,” he reiterates. “At the Engineers’ Association, we set up a professional group that is intended to help the IDF with this. Some of the people are already part of the military setup in their reserve service capacity, people who deal with ground and terrain on a routine basis. The army does not ordinarily have access to so many people from this specific discipline.”

Originally published by Israel Hayom.

Nadav Shragai is a veteran Israeli journalist.


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Qatar, 'Leading Sponsor of Terrorism in the World, More than Iran,' Is Not an Impartial Mediator - Bassam Tawil


by Bassam Tawil

Qatar's goal is to keep Hamas in power. Qatar has no reason to care if thousands of Palestinians die in the Gaza Strip, so long as Hamas is permitted to continue ruling the coastal enclave.


  • The idea that Qatar has been acting as a mediator in the negotiations between Israel and Hamas is nothing short of laughable. Qatar has actually long been staunchly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood organization, of which Hamas is an offshoot.

  • The Muslim Brotherhood -- according to a hearing at the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Security on July 11, 2018 -- is a militant Islamist organization with affiliates in over 70 countries, including groups designated as terrorist organizations by the US.

  • ""Qatar has huge influence over the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian affiliate, Hamas.... For too long, Doha has danced between its Islamist allies and its Western and Arab partners." — Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, The Atlantic, October 20, 2023

  • Qatar has a long history of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and its radical terrorist offshoots.... Qatar has also provided political and financial support to Hamas. In 2008, Doha reportedly pledged $250 million to Hamas, one year after the terror group violently seized control of the Gaza Strip. In 2012, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani became the first head of state to visit Gaza, pledging $400 million to Hamas. Since then, the Qatari government has continued to send money to Hamas.

  • Qatar's goal is to keep Hamas in power. Qatar has no reason to care if thousands of Palestinians die in the Gaza Strip, so long as Hamas is permitted to continue ruling the coastal enclave.

The idea that Qatar has been acting as a mediator in the negotiations between Israel and Hamas is nothing short of laughable. Qatar has actually long been staunchly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood organization, of which Hamas is an offshoot. Pictured: Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal meets with Qatar's then Crown Prince (today's Emir) Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the Royal Palace in Amman, Jordan on January 29, 2012. (Photo by Khalil Mazraawi/AFP via Getty Images)

Recently, the rulers of Qatar demonstrated that they not only serve as gracious hosts to the leaders of the Palestinian Hamas terror group, but that they also have a sense of humor.

The Gulf state's Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani announced during a press conference in Doha that his country is reassessing its role as a mediator between Israel and Hamas after facing criticism.

"Qatar is in the process of a complete re-evaluation of its role," al-Thani said. "There is exploitation and abuse of the Qatari role," he said, adding that Qatar had been the victim of "point-scoring" by "politicians who are trying to conduct election campaigns by slighting the State of Qatar."

Earlier, al-Thani said negotiations to secure the release of more than 130 remaining Israeli hostages, abducted by Hamas to the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023, had stalled.

"We are going through a sensitive stage with some stalling, and we are trying as much as possible to address this stalling," the Qatari premier said.

Oh really.

The idea that Qatar has been acting as a mediator in the negotiations between Israel and Hamas is nothing short of laughable. Qatar has actually long been staunchly aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood organization, of which Hamas is an offshoot.

The Muslim Brotherhood's motto is: "Allah is our objective; the Prophet is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."

The Muslim Brotherhood -- according to a hearing at the U.S. House Subcommittee on National Security on July 11, 2018 -- is a militant Islamist organization with affiliates in over 70 countries, including groups designated as terrorist organizations by the US.

After the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi was elected president of Egypt in 2012, 22 million Egyptians could not wait to get rid of him. In a year and a few days, he was gone.

"Qatar has huge influence over the Muslim Brotherhood's Palestinian affiliate, Hamas," said Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

"Qatar's dalliance with Islamist groups has long been the primary means for Doha to project influence in the Arab world, particularly through state support for Al-Jazeera Arabic. For too long, Doha has danced between its Islamist allies and its Western and Arab partners."

Qatar has a long history of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and its radical terrorist offshoots. During the Brotherhood's year in power in Egypt, Qatar loaned Morsi's regime approximately $7.5 billion. Qatar also reportedly aided Morsi's regime with grants and "energy supplies." During Morsi's presidency, "payments ranging from $250,000 to $850,000 to top Morsi associates from the former Prime Minister of Qatar," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

Qatar has also provided political and financial support to Hamas. In 2008, Doha reportedly pledged $250 million to Hamas, one year after the terror group violently seized control of the Gaza Strip. In 2012, Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani became the first head of state to visit Gaza, pledging $400 million to Hamas. Since then, the Qatari government has continued to send money to Hamas. In July 2016, Qatar announced a payment of $30 million to Hamas-hired workers in Gaza.

Qatar, in addition, has long hosted Hamas leaders and allowed the terrorist group to set up an office in Doha. Khaled Mashaal -- the former leader of Hamas, whose wealth is estimated above $5 billion "while more than half of his own citizens in Gaza live under the poverty line" -- has held press conferences on behalf of the terrorist group at internationally owned businesses in Qatar, including at the Four Seasons Hotel and the Sheraton Doha (owned by Marriott). Mashaal has previously resided "in the most luxurious hotel in the most beautiful district [in Qatar]," according to one Egyptian television host. Mashaal is also reported to own four towers and a commercial center on a seven-acre plot in Qatar, developed by a domestic real estate agency. Qatar has repeatedly denied rumors that Mashaal was evicted from Qatar, and in 2015 called him a "dear guest of Qatar."

The Muslim Brotherhood has been militant from its very beginning. Its founder, Hassan al-Banna, who founded the group in 1928, said that "Jihad (holy war) is an obligation from Allah and every Muslim and cannot be ignored nor evaded." In a book titled The Way of Jihad, he wrote:

"Jihad means the fighting of the unbelievers and involves all possible efforts that are necessary to dismantle the power of the enemies of Islam, including beating them, plundering their wealth, destroying their places of worship, and smashing their idols."

In 2005, a former Kuwaiti minister of information, Dr. Ahmad al-Rabi', wrote in the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper:

"The beginnings of all the religious terrorism that we are witnessing today were in the Muslim Brotherhood's ideology...all those who worked with bin Laden and al-Qaeda went out under the mandate of the Muslim Brotherhood."

This jihadist ideology continues to fuel the Muslim Brotherhood today. The Brotherhood mourned the death of Osama bin Laden, and its leaders developed teachings justifying revolutionary violence under sharia law. The Brotherhood has preached hatred towards Jews, denied the Holocaust, and called for Israel's destruction. The Brotherhood incited violence against Coptic Christians in Egypt amidst a wave of church bombings and other attacks by terrorist groups, including ISIS.

One of the leading members of the Muslim Brotherhood was Haj Amin al-Husseini, known to many as the father of Arab terrorism, who was Grand Mufti of Jerusalem from 1921-1937. According to Middle East expert Tony Duheaume:

"Through his leadership of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Husseini's infamous exploits aided in the creation of one that blended Muslim beliefs with all of the vile ideologies created by the Nazis, spawning many groups that followed the same cause.

"With al-Husseini having lived in Palestine during the start of the First World War, he had sworn his allegiance to the Ottoman Empire, and had become an officer in the Ottoman Turkish army.

"It was during this time, he had found himself assigned to the Forty-Seventh Brigade, which was stationed in the city of Smyrma, and whilst serving there, he had become a willing participant in the Armenian genocide, during which one-and-a-half million Christians were reportedly slaughtered by Turkish troops.

"This event had twisted al-Husseini's mindset, turning him into a leading advocate of creating an Islamic Caliphate, which was envisaged by all of his followers, and which they believed could only come about through the annihilation of all Jews and Christians living in the Middle East."

For many years, Qatar hosted Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the spiritual leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was famous for shaping the concept of violet jihad and who promoted terrorism, including suicide bombing attacks against Israeli civilians, US forces in Iraq, and some of the Arab regimes. "I supported martyrdom operations, and I am not the only one," al-Qaradawi told the BBC in 2004. Because of that, he was banned from entering Western countries and some Arab states.

Al-Qaradawi also issued fatwas authorizing attacks on all Jews. On Al Jazeera Arabic in January 2009, he said:

"Oh God, take Your enemies, the enemies of Islam... Oh God, take the treacherous Jewish aggressors... Oh God, count their numbers, slay them one by one and spare none."

Qatar's close relations with Hamas should clearly disqualify it from brokering the release of the Israeli hostages. It is said, "Qatar is Hamas and Hamas is Qatar."

Qatar's threat to quit the role of mediator is unfortunately nothing but a sick joke. Qatar has always been on the side of Hamas, whose other billionaire leaders continue to enjoy a comfortable life far from Gaza in foreign villas and five-star hotels.

If the Qataris had wanted to end the war in the Gaza Strip, they could have summoned the leaders of Hamas and issued an ultimatum to them to release the hostages or face deportation from the country. The Qataris are not doing so because they do not seem to be facing any pressure from the US administration. If the US administration really wanted to exert pressure on Qatar, it could threaten to withdraw fro Al-Udeid Air Base, located in the desert southwest of Doha. Al-Udeid is the biggest US military installation in the Middle East and is the main reason why Qatar enjoys security and stability.

Qatar's goal is to keep Hamas in power. Qatar has no reason to care if thousands of Palestinians die in the Gaza Strip, so long as Hamas is permitted to continue ruling the coastal enclave.

"Qatar is the leading sponsor of terrorism in the world, more than Iran," said Dr. Udi Levy, a former senior official of Israel's Mossad spy agency who dealt with economic warfare against terrorist organizations. Commenting on the double game of the Qataris, who fund Hamas and at the same time pretend they are assisting in a hostage deal, Levy said:

"Qatar has been playing a dual role since the beginning of the Gaza war. On the one hand, it is a well-known supporter of Hamas, and even finances it with a lot of money, and on the other hand, it is trying to help in the deal for the release of the Israeli hostages. So what is the real face of the Qataris? The Qataris are the No. 1 country in the world that finances terrorism, more than Iran."

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim Arab based in the Middle East.


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Is Columbia funding its own occupation? Student organization policies suggest so - Steven Richards


by Steven Richards

Many student groups that have organized the pro-Palestine encampments are official student organizations, often eligible for funding from the very administration they are disrupting.


As the pro-Palestine protest movement has engulfed several prestigious universities over the past week, questions swirl about how these student groups are funding their occupations of centrally located student spaces.

These questions have spurred congressional inquiry and testimony who want to probe pro-Palestine protest groups and raising concerns about alleged funding from opaque sources. One member of Congress told Just the News on Monday he wants to find out if any money is coming from foreign sources.

There may be another way some of these student groups may be funding their operations: through the direct support of the universities themselves. In other words, these elite universities may be funding their own occupation.

A review of the organizations leading the most prominent protest at Columbia University reveal that nearly 120 student groups comprise the coalition currently protesting the Gaza war. These groups are part of a coalition called Columbia University Apartheid Divest.

At least 36 of these groups are listed in Columbia’s database of recognized student groups, indicating they are currently active.

Because of their status, these groups are eligible for direct funding from Columbia through allocations of the student activity fee—which every student pays as part of their tuition and which goes towards programming costs for officially recognized student groups. These fees can cost as much as $623 per student per semester.

According to guidance provided by the Columbia engineering school, student groups are eligible for two funding types: allocation—which is provided as a lump sum at the beginning of the school year funded by student fees—and independent fundraising or revenue.

Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine is one of the groups that helped to organize and is participating in the encampment. The organization’s current status at the university is murky, but the group likely received funding from the administration in the past as a registered organization, provided the group filled out the proper applications. The group is also found in the Columbia database of official student organizations.

However, its status remains unclear as Columbia SJP and its coalition partner, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), were suspended from campus for the fall semester for allegedly violating campus protest rules.

“This decision was made after the two groups repeatedly violated University policies related to holding campus events, culminating in an unauthorized event,” Senior Executive Vice President Gerald Rosberg wrote in a statement in November.

Though the suspension was designated for the fall semester, in March both groups sued Columbia over what they argued was an “unlawful suspension.” The two groups were supported by the New York Civil Liberties Union and Palestine Legal. Until that case is decided it remains unclear if the group is currently recognized by the university, though its official page remains active on the Columbia website. JVP’s page also remains active.

Columbia did not respond to questions from Just the News about funding either group received in the past year allocated from the student activity fees. Columbia SJP could not be reached for comment and Columbia JVP did not respond to an email request for comment.

From Columbia, pro-Palestine encamped protests have spread widely to other elite U.S. universities, including Harvard, Yale, NYU, and MIT. These universities have responded with suspending protest groups and arresting students trespassing on university property without permission.

Columbia asked for the arrest of several of the protestors last week after university President Nemat Shafik requested the New York Police Department’s intervention. The action came the day after Shafik testified before the House Education and Workforce Committee about allegations of antisemitism on campus. She told the committee she has “absolutely no hesitation in enforcing our policies.”

One of the students arrested was Isra Hirsi, the daughter of progressive Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Michigan. Hirsi attended Barnard College at Columbia until she was suspended by the administration last Thursday.

So far, Columbia does not appear to have suspended any of the 36 student groups listed in its official database and which are members of the Columbia University Apartheid Divest coalition for participation in the protest, despite suspensions of individual students and arrests.

Instead, the university decided to cancel in-person classes Monday as the Jewish holiday of Passover began. The school also announced this week that classes would be a hybrid of live and virtual sessions for the rest of the semester because of the disruptions caused by the protests.

Some of the groups involved the university protests have previously organized broader demonstrations since the October 7 terrorist attacks against Israel and their funding remains obscured by left-wing grant-making organizations or donor pass-throughs.

Jewish Voice for Peace, whose affiliate helped organize the Columbia encampment and other demonstrations, also organized a protest in October after the U.S. Capitol which saw one office building temporarily overrun. The demonstration was part of a growing—and enduring—movement that has swept the country since Israel first invaded Gaza after the October 7 terrorist attacks.

Jewish Voice for Peace has a long history of anti-Israel activism and has found itself consistently aligned with pro-Palestine movements in the United States. The national organization portrays itself as a community for Jews “with justice at the center” and tells prospective members that “you are part of building a Jewishness and Jewish life beyond Zionism.”

Jewish Voice for Peace has been funded by left-aligned foundations and was founded by longtime progressive organizers. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund provided a $140,000, two-year grant to the organization. However, the organization makes none of its funding public and available on its website.

Students for Justice in Palestine also receives funding through an opaque arrangement with progressive donor group WESPAC—which stands for the Westchester Peace Action Committee. Any donations sent to the National Students for Justice in Palestine organization notify the donor that payments are processed through the “Wespac Foundation Inc.”

Because of this dark-money arrangement, donations to the national organization are shielded from public disclosure required of nonprofits. According to the Anti-Defamation League—an organization dedicated to fighting the defamation of the Jewish people—“as a fiscal sponsor WESPAC receives and administers donations on behalf of groups” and “keeps a percentage of the donation and gives the rest to the groups/projects that it fiscally sponsors.”

Steven Richards


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Why does the US criticize its ally while supporting those who demonize it? - Itamar Marcus and Ephraim D. Tepler


by Itamar Marcus and Ephraim D. Tepler

Why are Hamas’ allies -- in the same breath screaming “death to Israel” and “death to America”?


Official PA daily:

  • “We always emphasize that our main problem is with the US”
  • Washington is the mind behind the conspiracy against the Palestinian people

Why are Hamas’ allies, who are terrorizing and threatening supporters of Jews and Israel on campuses around the US, also in the same breath screaming “death to Israel” and “death to America”?

The answer is that while the US is the driving force pressuring Israel to accept PA rule in Gaza and while the PA welcomes US aid and quietly thanks it for life-saving support, the PA simultaneously demonizes the US incessantly. The PA goes so far as to claim that Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza is actually an anti-Arab and anti-Islamic US war in which Israel is merely the American tool. And now, PA-driven anti-US hate has reached the US in full force.

We are witnessing a recurring pattern. For years, Palestinian Media Watch has been warning about the PA’s Islamist Antisemitism, but the West has been ignoring the issue and on the contrary, it continued funding the PA’s Nazi-like demonization of Jews. That Islamist Antisemitism has now established itself among the mainstream of Palestinian supporters in the US and is echoed by Palestinian supporters worldwide.

One of the PA’s prominent mouthpieces, the PA’s official daily columnist Muwaffaq Matar, regularly accuses America of colonialism and of making Israel its pawn in the Middle East.

“We always emphasize that our main problem is with the US and the colonialist states that planned and actively contributed to establishing Israel, and they established it on the Palestinian people’s homeland (Palestine) [parentheses in source] with the rank of their main worker in the region! As long as this is the situation, [Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar] Ben Gvir will continue as he does to knead [US President Joe] Biden’s flour with the blood of the Palestinian people in general, and of the hundreds of thousands of hungry in the Gaza Strip in particular.”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 3, 2024]

Matar was particularly triggered of late by the US veto of a UN Security Council resolution calling to provide the PA with full UN membership. In response, he lashed out at the US, labeling it “the mind behind the conspiracy against the Palestinian people”:  

“The American veto did not surprise those who are knowledgeable about the details of the colonialist world powers’ decisions on establishing the colonialist settler occupation system (Israel) [parentheses in source], ever since the approval of the Campbell[-Bannerman] document in 1905 (sic., see note below regarding PA conspiracy theory on "the Campbell-Bannerman plan"), on through the Balfour Promise (i.e., Declaration) (which is American in its essence and content, and British for the sake of appearance) [parentheses in source] in 1917, and up until the American pressure on the UN to accept Israel as a member, even though it has not obeyed the international institutions’ conditions since 1949 and to this day, and foremost among them to recognize an Arab-Palestinian state according to [UN] partition resolution 181 of 1947 (see note below - Ed)...

In this context, we think that [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas has for a long time been directing the attention of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian National Liberation Movement [‘Fatah’] leadership to the historical fact that the Zionist organization is the pawn of the US, in order to take control of the most important strategic location in the Middle East (Palestine) [parentheses in source], so as to ensure the American interests.

Since Washington is the one that makes decisions for ‘Israel,’ and the one that determines the clauses of its foundational missions in the region, and the one that determines how its future will look and what its nature will be, the peaceful popular national struggle (i.e., refers to the use of violence and terror) on the land of the homeland Palestine is not an alternative for a political, legal, and diplomatic struggle meant to extricate the Palestinian right from the mind behind the conspiracy against the Palestinian people (the US) [parentheses in source].”

[Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 21, 2024]

Mahmoud Abbas’ advisor on Islam and top PA religious leader has also demonized the US as the current Pharaoh who will be punished by the Palestinians or by Allah himself, asserting “[America] the oppressor will not last”:

The Pharaoh of this period, America thinks it can do anything without any draw back, and without any consequences... America used its veto for the third time, to prevent the cessation of the war against our people in the Gaza Strip... Just as He [Allah] punished the oppressors in the past, so He will punish the oppressors of this period. He will punish the Pharaohs of this age [America], the criminals of this age, sooner or later, by our hands or by His punishment. By our hands, or in pain from Him. The oppressor will not last.”

[Mahmoud Al-Habbash, top advisor to Mahmoud Abbas and Supreme Shari'ah Judge, Official PA TV Live, Feb. 23, 2024]

The PA makes no secret of its contempt for the United States, yet the US has not changed its favorable view of the PA, and continues to promote it as the alternative administrator of the Gaza Strip. If the US wants the trust of its allies and those to whom it has pledged support, such as Taiwan, it would be wise to give unequivocal support to Israel, which is its close ally of mutual benefit, and to publicly censure the source of growing worldwide anti-American hate.

"The Campbell-Bannerman plan" - PA leaders have often promoted a conspiracy theory denying Israel's legitimacy, claiming that Israel's establishment was the result of a British-led colonialist plot termed "the Campbell-Bannerman plan," which was recorded in a similarly named document. This alleged plan's goal was to create a "pawn" in the form of Israel that would keep the Arab peoples divided and backwards, in order to ensure European domination over the Middle East. The conspiracy theory apparently refers to the 1907 Imperial Conference led by former British Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the minutes of which disprove the PA's claims of a conspiracy to undermine the Middle East. In 2017 the conspiracy theory was investigated by Prof Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh, head of the Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations, a Lebanese pro-Palestinian research institute. Saleh reported that he traveled to Britain to investigate the alleged document but "found no trace or source of it!" [Website of Al-Zaytouna, Political Analysis: Is the “Campbell-Bannerman Document”: Real or Fake?, Sept. 29, 2017] Saleh noted that former head of the PLO Research Center Dr. Anis Sayegh learned an Egyptian named Antoun Canaan was the first to write about the alleged document, and Sayegh learned in talking with Canaan that his source was an unidentified Indian man: "When [Canaan] travelled from Palestine to London to study law in the mid-1940s, he met in the plane an Indian man sitting next him. The man told him he remembers reading about a colonial conference held in London attended by delegates from several colonial powers to discuss the partition of the Arab nations, prevent their reunification, and the establishment of a Jewish state, but the Indian man did not give Canaan any documented academic material regarding the document." Nevertheless, PA leaders continue to cite the conspiracy theory in their attacks against Israel.

The Balfour Declaration of Nov. 2, 1917 was a letter from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Baron Rothschild stating that "His Majesty's government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people." In 1922, the League of Nations adopted this and made the British Mandate "responsible for putting into effect the declaration," which led to the UN vote in favor of partitioning Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state in 1947. In response, Britain ended its mandate on May 15, 1948, and the Palestinian Jews, who accepted the Partition Plan, declared the independent State of Israel. The Palestinian Arabs rejected the plan and together with 7 Arab states attacked Israel, in what is now known as Israel's War of Independence.

Itamar Marcus and Ephraim D. Tepler


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SCOTUS shocked by Biden administration's view of federal power over states in ER abortion challenge - Greg Piper


by Greg Piper

Justice Gorsuch asks solicitor general if she "really want[s] to rely" on [a] decision that "wasn't exactly our brightest moment" on Supreme Court. Protection for "unborn child" is "odd phrase" to put in putative abortion mandate, Justice Alito says.


To convince the Supreme Court that the Biden administration could use federal Medicare funding to force hospitals to perform abortions in violation of Idaho law, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar conceived and gave birth to some unusual arguments Wednesday.

She reached for a 129-year-old precedent that crippled the labor movement for decades, neutered legal obligations to the "unborn child" in the federal law that allegedly requires abortions in certain situations, and didn't deny a Republican administration could use her rationale to functionally ban abortion and even transgender care nationwide.

Such is the federal government's interest in ensuring that abortion-minded women can use emergency rooms to terminate pregnancies as conservative states approve new abortion restrictions, or reinstate old ones, under the high court's reversal of Roe v. Wade in 2022.

Backed by 22 conservative states and sued by the feds, Idaho challenged the Biden administration's use of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act as a "super-statute" that overrides its Defense of Life Act, which includes criminal penalties and loss of license, and "turns emergency rooms into a federal enclave where state standards of care do not apply."

While Prelogar faced skepticism from GOP-appointed justices about the massive expansion of federal power her argument implied, a recurring point of confusion for the whole bench was how much "daylight" stood between EMTALA, designed to stop "patient-dumping," and Idaho's law.

The former requires "immediate medical attention" when the health of the individual or "unborn child" would otherwise face "serious jeopardy, serious impairment to bodily functions, or serious dysfunction of bodily organs." The latter has one health-related abortion exception: "necessary to prevent the death of the pregnant woman."

Idaho Chief of Constitutional Litigation Joshua Turner struggled to convince both parties' appointees at oral argument Wednesday that Idaho doctors need not fear prosecution for performing abortions that would save a woman's life in their "good-faith medical judgment."

Gem State hospitals aren't taking any chances, Prelogar told the court, citing one system that says it has transferred a pregnant woman who needs an emergency abortion out of state every other week. Justice Elena Kagan said Idaho's busiest emergency department airlifted six women to less draconian pro-life states in "the few months" before the law was blocked.

This case is limited to "grave medical emergencies" that EMTALA requires hospitals to treat to "stabilize" women who, "within reasonable medical probability," would suffer "material deterioration" of their emergency conditions if transferred, Prelogar said. 

That may require performing abortions, and it's how the law has been "understood and applied for decades," even by pro-life states that further restricted abortion following the high court's 2022 Dobbs ruling, she said. 

"This is not a post-Dobbs unprecedented position by the government," Justice Sonia Sotomayor told Idaho's Turner, who insisted it was in both his main argument and rebuttal.

Turner emphasized that the government's spreadsheet of "115,000 enforcement instances" did not show "a single example where state law was overridden by EMTALA."

The administration's reading would mean each state's standard of care on opioids, which varies from a five-day supply to "no limit," could be "wiped out" by the feds, he said.

Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito suggested the administration took an unprecedented step by using its constitutional spending clause authority to not only override a state's criminal law but regulate a party – Idaho – not subject to the Medicare conditions.

Idaho wants to have it both ways, Prelogar responded: It wants its hospitals to get federal money without federal strings. 

"It does seem odd that through a side agreement" between the feds and a private party, the latter "can get out of state law, right?" Justice Amy Coney Barrett asked Prelogar. That reasoning would allow "another administration" to ban abortions or "gender reassignment surgery" – removal of healthy breasts and genitals to treat gender dysphoria.

Prelogar walked a tightrope, saying the spending clause grants Congress "broad" but not "wholly unlimited" power to attach conditions. Asked if she meant Congress would have to act "pursuant to an enumerated power" to ban abortion and transgender surgery, Prelogar clarified "it would have to be valid spending."

The solicitor general amazed Justice Neil Gorsuch by arguing Congress "very likely" had the authority to preempt all state medical licensing laws through a medical ethics rule. The yanking of Medicare funds is an "extreme sanction" that would only follow a hospital's repeated refusal to comply with the government's view of EMTALA, she emphasized

When the court's most libertarian justice questioned Prelogar's case law that supposedly justified the government's "inherent action in equity" to protect its sovereign interests, she invoked the 1895 ruling known as In Re Debs, which approved an injunction against a nationwide railroad strike. 

It involved labor leader Eugene Debs, who later ran for president as a socialist while imprisoned for opposing the draft.

"Oh, Debs," Gorsuch interjected, asking Prelogar if she "really want[s] to rely" on a decision that "wasn't exactly our brightest moment" as a court. The ruling – later superseded by Congress – "reflects the history and tradition of this nation in recognizing that it's entirely appropriate for the United States to seek to protect its interests in this manner," she responded.

Alito peppered Prelogar with questions about how the government understands undefined terms in EMTALA – say, if it could require abortions to stabilize women with "mental health" problems. That would be "incredibly unethical" as a violation of informed consent and isn't the standard of care, she said.

Prelogar did admit the government might require abortion to prevent "temporary" impairment, because "I'm not sure that it's easy to parse" the difference between temporary and potentially permanent impairment in the moment a doctor evaluates a woman.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Gorsuch caught the solicitor general in an apparent walkback on conscience rights. 

Prelogar first told Roberts that both religious hospitals and physicians can opt out of abortions without violating EMTALA, then implied the former "as a matter of best practice" should ask physicians to articulate their conscience objections in advance so they are "appropriately staffed" to provide any medically necessary abortions under Medicare. 

"I imagine" the Department of Health and Human Services would "work with" a religious hospital that was "continually disobeying" the abortion-staffing requirement to bring it into compliance, Prelogar said. 

That's the opposite of what Prelogar said "a minute ago," that hospitals with conscience objections can refuse abortions without violating EMTALA, Gorsuch interrupted. "Which is it?" She responded, without elaborating: "That's correct."

Gorsuch asked Idaho's Turner how the court should think about the "unborn child" part of EMTALA. That doesn't mean the federal law "prohibits abortions," just that "stabilizing treatment may involve abortions consistent with" state law, like in liberal California, Turner said.

"It would be a very strange thing for Congress to expressly amend EMTALA to require care for unborn children" in 1989 "when the child itself has an emergency medical condition," even if the mother is not in labor, and yet intend EMTALA to mandate abortion, Turner said.

Justice Alito returned to the "unborn child" question 90 minutes into oral argument, by his time count, saying he was surprised no one further examined the "odd phrase" in a putative abortion mandate.  

Prelogar said the 1989 amendment was intended to protect pregnant women whose condition threatens their fetuses without inhibiting their individual rights. But the "plain meaning" of the statute obligates the hospital to protect the fetus, making abortion "antithetical," Alito said.

EMTALA does not say how to "adjudicate conflicts" between mother and unborn child, and Prelogar's argument boils down to "the Idaho law is a bad law" rather than explaining how a federal law signed by pro-life President Reagan mandates abortion, Alito said.

Greg Piper


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GOP secretaries of state, legislators fight against ‘Bidenbucks,’ federalization of GOTV efforts - Natalia Mittlestadt


by Natalia Mittlestadt

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner is trying to “let the [Biden] administration know we do not intend to follow their illegal directives.”


Republican secretaries of state and state legislators are pushing back against “Bidenbucks,” what call the federalization of voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts, claiming that the executive order is unlawful.

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner and Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson, along with Republicans in the Pennsylvania legislature, are fighting President Biden’s Executive Order 14019 from March 2021, which turns federal agencies into "Get Out The Vote" (GOTV) centers across all states.

The executive order is often referred to by critics as “Bidenbucks,” which alludes to "Zuckerbucks," the approximately $400 million from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg widely alleged to have been funneled through left-leaning nonprofits to turn out the Democratic vote in the 2020 presidential election.

According to the executive order, “The head of each agency shall evaluate ways in which the agency can, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, promote voter registration and voter participation,” including "soliciting and facilitating approved, nonpartisan third-party organizations and State officials to provide voter registration services on agency premises.”

Similar to “Bidenbucks,” “Zuckerbucks" came to notice when the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) poured about $350 million into local elections offices managing the 2020 election, with most of the funds donated to the nonprofit by Zuckerberg. The nonprofit has claimed its 2020 election grants — colloquially known as "Zuckerbucks" — were allocated without partisan preference to make voting safer amid the pandemic.

However, a House Republican investigation found that less than 1% of the funds were spent on personal protective equipment. Most of the funds were focused on get-out-the-vote efforts and registrations.

Following controversy surrounding the disproportionate private funding funneled to Democratic jurisdictions and claims the imbalance helped sway the 2020 election in Biden's favor, 28 states have either restricted or banned the use of private money to fund elections, while 12 counties have also restricted or banned the funds, according to the Capital Research Center.

According to information provided to The Daily Signal from the Indian Health Service (IHS), which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, organizations that have worked with IHS for voter registration are the American Civil Liberties Union, Demos, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Native American Rights Fund.

The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project obtained documents showing how the U.S. Department of Agriculture worked with Demos, a left-wing public policy advocacy group, for voter registration purposes.

Biden’s executive order instructs heads of federal agencies “to provide recommendations to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, on strategies to expand the Federal Government’s policy of granting employees time off to vote in Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial elections.” However, those recommendations have not been made public.

Warner told The Federalist last week that he is trying to “let the [Biden] administration know we do not intend to follow their illegal directives.”

He explained that his state is “not going to accept these registrations” that result from the executive order, citing Article I Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, where state legislatures are given the authority to prescribe the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives.”

Warner added that duplicate registrations could result from federal agencies registering people to vote, which would create more issues that county clerks have the responsibility to resolve.

“Somebody might already be registered and then they go in for [Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program] or another federal assistance program and they get registered again,” Warner said. “Now you have a double registration, and the clerks have to take time to go and sort it out.” 

He also noted, “It sounds like it’s a good thing. I mean, who would be against registering voters to vote? But if it comes in outside the law, well that’s what America should be addressing now. What do you do with a ballot that comes from outside the law?”

Meanwhile, Watson sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland last month, seeking information regarding the scope of how the executive order is being implemented in Mississippi while noting his concerns about its legality.

Watson also submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the U.S. Department of Justice for communications between the DOJ and detention facilities in Mississippi.

The secretary of state requested the information because Biden’s executive order “instructs the U.S. Attorney General to establish procedures for educating felons on how to register to vote, facilitate voter registration, assist vote by mail, and require the U.S. Marshals Service to modify intergovernmental agreements and jail contracts with the aforementioned requirements,” Watson wrote in an op-ed earlier this month.

“These efforts are not only an intrusion into state matters but are a misuse of federal revenue to register potentially ineligible felons and/or illegal immigrants,” he added.

Watson was informed that his FOIA request “was overly broad,” he noted. After asking a White House official about the agencies’ plans to follow the executive order, Watson was told that Biden's plans will not be made public.

Warner, Watson, and 13 other Republican secretaries of state wrote a letter to Biden in August 2022 regarding unconstitutionality of the executive order.

“Executive Order 14019 was issued without Constitutional authority nor Congressional approval,” the letter reads. “Executive Order 14019 calls for federal agencies to develop plans that duplicate voter registration efforts conducted at the state level and ignores codified procedures and programs in our state constitutions and laws.”

Warner told The Federalist that he is contacting the secretaries of state who signed the letter about considering joining an amicus brief in an ongoing lawsuit against “Bidenbucks.”

The federal lawsuit was brought by 27 legislators of the Pennsylvania General Assembly against both the Biden administration and Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D), claiming that the executive order is both unlawful according to the commonwealth’s law and unconstitutional.

A U.S. district court judge dismissed the lawsuit last month for lack of standing, and the legislators are appealing it to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

A separate FOIA lawsuit was filed by the Foundation for Government Accountability in April 2022, after the organization didn’t receive documents it requested regarding the executive order.

Last August, a U.S. district court judge ordered the DOJ to provide documents to the court to determine whether the records were justifiably withheld. The case is still ongoing.

Natalia Mittlestadt


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