A man seen in multiple ISIS propaganda videos speaking with a British accent and beheading Western hostages had his identity revealed in the Washington Post this morning, and yet again the suspect is another case of what I have termed “known wolf” syndrome since he was already known to authorities before engaging in acts of terrorism.
The Washington Post reports:
The world knows him as “Jihadi John,” the masked man with a British accent who has beheaded several hostages held by the Islamic State and who taunts audiences in videos circulated widely online.
But his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize.
But the article goes on to reveal that Emwazi had been detained by authorities not once, but twice:
Emwazi and two friends — a German convert to Islam named Omar and another man, Abu Talib — never made it on the trip. Once they landed in Dar es Salaam, in May 2009, they were detained by police and held overnight. It’s unclear whether the reason for the detention was made clear to the three, but they were eventually deported.
Emwazi flew to Amsterdam, where he claimed that an officer from MI5, Britain’s domestic security agency, accused him of trying to reach Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab operates in the southern part of the country, according to e-mails that he sent to Qureshi and that were provided to The Post.
Emwazi denied the accusation and claimed that MI5 representatives had tried to recruit him [...]
In June 2010, however, counterterrorism officials in Britain detained him again — this time fingerprinting him and searching his belongings. When he tried to fly back to Kuwait the next day, he was prevented from doing so.
The Daily Mail adds that after that June 2010 encounter with law enforcement, Emwazi was put on the UK terror watch list:
They allegedly fingerprinted him and searched his belongings, and he was not allowed to fly back to Kuwait. Emwazi was put on a terror watch list and banned from leaving the UK.
The BBC added that Emwazi was part of a known network of jihadist sympathizers:
We don’t know when the British or the American security services worked out that the masked man in the killing videos was Londoner Mohammed Emwazi.
But we do know that he was a “person of interest” to MI5 going back to at least 2011 because he features in semi-secret court cases relating to extremism overseas and back in the UK.
Nobody in official security circles is going to comment on what they know and why they know it.
Emwazi has been previously described as a member of a network involving at least 13 men from London – and at least two of them were subjected to house arrest control orders or T-Pims. One absconded. The chances of Emwazi ever returning to the UK are vanishingly small.
So yet again, as we’ve seen in practically every recent terrorism case, the suspect was already known to authorities.
I’ve reported here at PJ Media on the long line of “Known Wolf” terror suspects who committed acts of terror:
- Earlier this month I reported that the Copenhagen shooter was Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, who had been convicted in a stabbing in December, and yet remarkably released by authorities despite being branded as “extremely dangerous.”
- Also this month I noted that Moussa Coulibaly, who stabbed three police officers outside a synagogue in Nice, France, had just days before been deported from Turkey for attempting to join ISIS.
- The two Kouachi brothers behind the massacre on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices last month in Paris had been long known to law enforcement, with one of them already having been in prison on terror-related charges, and yet they had been removed from the radar by authorities just last summer because they were deemed no longer a threat. They were also on the no-fly lists of both the U.S. and the UK.
- Man Haron Monis, aka Sheikh Haron, who in December took hostages at a chocolate shop in the heart of the commercial district in downtown Sydney, Australia, was not only known to law enforcement, but was out on bond on two separate cases and had previously been convicted of harassing the widows of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Authorities had been tipped off via their hotline to extremist statements Haron had been making on his website 48 hours before the attack.
- I first noticed this “Known Wolf” trend back in October after two separate attacks in Canada by Martin “Ahmad” Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, both of whom reportedly had their passports stripped by Canadian authorities because they were deemed “high risk” to travel overseas to join ISIS.
Yesterday, an interview I had with Erick Stakelbeck aired where I discussed the “Known Wolf” terror phenomenon (the first 11 minutes of the program):
Needless to say, if the currently growing track record of Western authorities missing these “known wolf” suspects is any indication, the next terror case will undoubtedly be a subject already known to law enforcement and intelligence authorities, but sufficient action not taken to stop their terrorism.
Two prominent Senate Democrats invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to sit down with their caucus while he’s in town next week — he said thanks, but no thanks.
Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) extended the invite to the prime minister on Monday in a letter first reported by Bloomberg.
Netanyahu accepting the invitation to address a joint session of Congress, they wrote, “sacrifices deep and well-established cooperation on Israel for short-term partisan points — something that should never be done with Israeli security and which we feel could have lasting repercussions.”
“To maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress, we invite you to a closed-door meeting with Democratic senators during your upcoming visit to Washington,” Durbin and Feinstein wrote. “We believe such a venue would be a wholly appropriate opportunity to discuss the range of issues that face our two countries.”
Reuters obtained the decline, which wasn’t released publicly by Netanyahu’s office.
“Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit,” he wrote.
Netanyahu stressed that he agreed “wholeheartedly” of the bipartisan foundation for strong U.S.-Israel ties. “I also fully understand the importance of bipartisan support for ensuring that our alliance remains strong in the future,” he wrote.
“I can assure you my sole intention in accepting it was to voice Israel’s grave concerns about a potential nuclear agreement with Iran that could threaten the survival of my country.”
Netanyahu said he’d be happy to meet with senators when all of them are welcome in the meeting room.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde followed Obama’s trendsetting “War on Muslims” narrative, thus failing the cause of women’s equality across the globe. The Feminist Fail started out on the right track:
Nations should remove laws that prevent women from working in order to increase the female labour supply and boost their economies, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said.
“In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active,” Lagarde wrote in a blog. “In a world in search of growth, women will help find it, if they face a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy.”
What exactly is this “insidious conspiracy” Lagarde is referring to? Don’t worry, she hasn’t taken the Patty Arquette pill, although she’s definitely drinking the Obama Kool Aid, because it’s all downhill from here:
But the IMF has to tread a careful line on this issue to avoid explicitly critiquing the laws in its 188 member countries, including states like Mali and Yemen, which have been among the worst performers on indices of gender equality.
Mali and Yemen, both Muslim-dominated states. Mali’s logo, “one people, one goal, one faith” is a contradiction in terms, at least when it comes to fostering economic growth, which is the only topic up for discussion on Lagarde’s watch:
The IMF has sought to couch its arguments in economic terms, saying in a previous study that having as many women in the labor force as men could boost economic growth by 5% in the United States, 9% in Japan and 34% in Egypt.
Note the radical climb in potential economic growth when the stats begin speaking to Muslim nations? Oops. Guess Lagarde’s staffers didn’t get the “War on Muslims” memo until after they prepared their findings, to which they quickly tacked on the following caveat:
“In recommending equal opportunities …this study does not intend to render a judgment of countries’ broadly accepted cultural and religious norms.”
Classy. Let’s talk about an obvious problem without directly drawing attention to it, since the problem is defended by radicalized terrorists. Is that called the White Elephant defense strategy?
The mayor who took down a knife-wielding terrorist on Sunday told Fox that “the residents of Jerusalem are part of me” and “the last thing you do is run away” from that situation.
Footage from the Jerusalem Municipality Emergency and Safety Department, above, shows an 18-year-old Palestinian from Ramallah attacking a 27-year-old Haredi man on a street corner in central Jerusalem’s Safra Square.
Barkat, in the white shirt, was passing by and jumped out of his car with his bodyguard.
“I was on my way to the office, and, coincidentally, we just were first at the light,” he said. “And my team sitting in the front of the car told me there’s something going on. And I exited the car with my bodyguard. And we slowly approached to figure out, what is going on? Is it a fight or anything? We weren’t sure what is going on.”
“And as we got close, we saw this terrorist with a knife in his hand, seeking, who else should he hurt? And so my bodyguard pulled his pistol and aimed at him. And he immediately froze and threw the knife on the floor.”
Barkat is seen on the video lunging first at the suspect, grabbing him and taking him down. “We tackled him on the ground and neutralized him. And then I looked around and I saw this wounded person and started treating him. And when we realize that there’s no more terrorists around, we realized that the situation is under control. And we wait for the police and the ambulances to come and clear out the place,” Barkat said.
The mayor said once they realized what was happening, there was no turning back. “Once we entered it, we’re in it, and then we had to figure out what the right thing to do is,” he said. “…I was a company commander in the paratroopers. And the DNA we have is to solve the problem.”
The father of four wounded in the attack, Avraham Goldschmidt, got the opportunity to thank Barkat at the hospital yesterday. “It was a humane thing, what you did,” Goldschmidt told the mayor, according to YNet News. “…God willing, I will be the last person to be wounded in a terror attack in Jerusalem.”
Barkat’s word of advice to Americans wanting to avoid terrorist attacks on U.S. soil? “The Iranians are the bad guys. They want nukes. They’re very radical and extremist people. Don’t trust them.”
The JTA reports:
More than half of current American Jewish college students have personally witnessed or experienced an anti-Semitic incident, according to a new study.
Some 54 percent of Jewish college students participating in the survey released Monday by the Louis D. Brandeis Center and Trinity College said they had experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism within the past academic year. The survey was taken in the spring of 2014, prior to the outbreak of hostilities last summer in Gaza.
The online survey of 1,157 students, conducted by Trinity College Professor Barry Kosmin and Associate Professor Ariela Keysar, found that percentages of students reporting encounters with anti-Semitism were relatively consistent across gender, religious outlook, and geographical region.
Students who affiliate with the Conservative and Reform movements were more likely to report such experiences than Orthodox students, with 69 percent of Conservative students, 62 percent of Reform students and 52 percent of Orthodox students responding that they had reported anti-Semitic encounters. Those who said they were always open about their Jewishness on campus were roughly as likely to have encountered anti-Semitism as those who said they were never open about their Jewishness, at 58 percent and 59 percent respectively.
According to the report, those taking the survey defined the term “anti-Semitic incident”. The organization Jew Hatred on Campus, a new organization established by the David Horowitz Freedom Center,
…compiled a list of the 10 U.S. campuses having the worst anti-Semitic activity in 2014. Universities included in the top 10 played host to numerous incidents of anti-Jewish acts, such as Israeli Apartheid Week (a week-long event that demonizes the Jewish state); interrupting university activities by staging mock “checkpoints” on campus; campus speakers that call for the destruction of the Jewish state; and verbal or physical harassment and violence against Jewish and pro-Israel students. These anti-Semitic incidents occur on university property, often with the support of university funds, despite the fact that such behavior is explicitly forbidden under campus codes of conduct.
From my own personal experience I’d add to the list a set of individual encounters with various students who questioned me as to why “there are so many of you in the media” and demanded my opinions about the”injustice” of the non-massacre at Jenin. In the case of these encounters, each oddly enough motivated by foreign students from Middle Eastern Muslim nations, the interrogators waited until we were alone with no witnesses before launching the “conversations”.
Perhaps it’s time campus Jewish groups start offering Krav Maga classes.
BREAKING: Islamic State Attacks Assyrian Christian Villages in Northern Syria, Taking Captives and Torching Churches
Breaking news late yesterday and this morning bring reports of an assault by the Islamic State in Northern Syria targeting Assyrian Christian villages along the Khabour River that began early yesterday morning. Other reports indicate that ISIS has taken captives and torched several churches, including one of the most ancient churches in Syria, and hundreds are fleeing the area downriver to Hassake. ISIS is meeting resistance from Christian and Kurdish militias.
European Syriac Union rights activist and journalist David Vergili reports:
Assyrian Christian villages along the Khabour river in the Hassake region are under heavy attacks of ISIS. Hundred of people left the region and number of women and children have been kidnapped by ISIS. Clashes continue between MFS, YPG against ISIS.
On Monday around 5am ISIS carried out an attack on the Assyrian villages in the Khabour region leaving casualties and another exodus of Christians from the region. ISIS attacks are concentrated in the Khabour villages of Til Hirmis, Til Shamiram, Qabre Shamiye and Til Khebish. Local sources confirm that there are ongoing clashes in all front lines against ISIS. Various reports suggest casualties of civilians and burning of churches.
A Demand For Action, another Christian rights organization, published this map to show the area of activity:
The Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reported late last night of captives taken and churches torched by ISIS (Warning: graphic images at link):
ISIS has abducted dozens of Assyrian men, women and children, including 12 from Tel Hurmiz, 15 from Tel Goran. They have been brought to Jabal Abdul Aziz. The residents of the villages of Tel Shamiran (approximately 50) and Tel Jazira (about 40) are being held captive in their own villages by ISIS.
According to a report by Newsweek, ISIS will use the Assyrian hostages for a prisoner swap with Kurdish fighters.
A number of churches have been destroyed, including the church in Tel Hurmiz, one of the oldest churches in Syria, the Mar Bisho church in Tel Shamiran, the church in Qabr Shamiy and the church in Tel Baloua.
The Newsweek report referenced above cited threats made against the lives of the captured Christian villagers if a prisoner exchange doesn’t happen:
The terrorist organization demanded a prisoner exchange with Kurdish fighters; they are seeking the release of ISIS members in exchange for the villagers. The exact number of prisoners ISIS is looking to swap for is not known. They have threatened the lives of the village men, estimated to be more than 100, if the swap does not go through.
A Reuters report published this morning provides a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that ISIS has taken at least 90 captives and notes the strategic importance of the area for Kurdish and Christian militias, as well as for ISIS:
Syrian Kurdish militia have renewed their assault on the militants, launching two offensives against them in northeast Syria on Sunday, helped from U.S.-led air strikes and Iraqi peshmerga who have been shelling Islamic State-held territory from their side of the nearby border.
This part of Syria is strategically important in the fight against Islamic State because it borders territory controlled by the group in Iraq, where last year the ultra-hardline group committed atrocities against the Yazidi community.
Tel Tamr, a town near the Assyrian Christian villages where the abductions occurred, has witnessed heavy clashes between Islamic State fighters and the Kurdish YPG militia, the Observatory said.
— Conflict News (@rConflictNews) February 24, 2015
— Eshu Polis (@EshuAssyrian3) February 23, 2015
— Save Assyria ن (@assyrian_anon) February 24, 2015
— steven nabil (@stevoiraq) February 24, 2015
— A Demand For Action (@DemandForAction) February 24, 2015
— steven nabil (@stevoiraq) February 24, 2015
~ PRESS RELEASE ~ pic.twitter.com/lnJG9CVA93
— EuropeanSyriacUnion (@esu_int) February 24, 2015
A new 50-page e-book released this month by ISIS gives directions to would-be jihadists and women wanting to join the Islamic State on everything from securing a safehouse in Turkey to packing enough underwear for the trip.
Maps in the book suggest flying into Şanlıurfa, Turkey, for a nearly 80-mile overland trip to Raqqa, Syria, the capital of the “caliphate.”
“People who leave to get to Syria do not tell anyone, not even family. Travellers to Syria usually want to reach Turkey. But for safety reasons, they buy a ticket for an indirect holiday country like Spain or Greece so their destination doesn’t seem suspicious,” the guide states, suggesting buying a return ticket to tamp down suspicion.
Upon arriving in Turkey, the person waits for a contact arranged through Twitter, important because “they will require protection in addition to not knowing where to go to, or who to trust.”
The old way of getting into Syria, the handbook said, was dressing in a non-religious fashion and hoping Turkish border guards let them past checkpoints, but the “updated method” is now looking for border guards and sprinting into Syria near Akçakale, Turkey. “Lately things have got harder at the Turkish border, so Islamic State members often meet new people in Turkey hotels and smuggle them across the border,” though the safehouses are “usually males only” and can only be accessed with “a paper signed by an existing member to show he is trustworthy.”
“The only reason members live in Turkey in some peace is because Turkey fears revenge attacks,” says the manual.
It also stresses that financial aid could be available, noting a group of Turkistanis (Kazakhstan) who were broke but had their trip arranged and paid for after sending a letter to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
For the journey, ISIS recommends carrying no more luggage than a suitcase, a “tough” backpack with lots of pockets, and one “satchel-type bag” or fanny pack to stash passport and wallet along with other “vitals” including wet wipes, “a few pills (if you suffer from any condition),” a little flashlight and a “few band-aids.”
If a would-be jihadist can’t fit a full change of clothes into the backpack along with all of his electronics, “at least pack some clean underwear.” ISIS recommends packing tablet computers, MP3 players for lectures, external hard drives to stash jihadi material, unlocked WiFi modem, headlamp, and solar chargers to work around “erratic and interrupted” electricity in the Islamic State and not be “dirtying the Earth which belongs to Allah.”
The guide recommends bringing an electric hair trimmer. “If you’re a brother, this is the quickest way to trim your moustache here, and if you like the Talafi buzzcut or egghead-style, then bring a bigger hair clipper.”
For clothes, jihadists are advised to bring knee pads, running shoes, flip-flops, long johns, windbreakers, beanies, goggles, and lots of socks. The handbook on how much clothes to bring: “Bring only the strict minimum (okay, so some sisters fainted after reading this bit, but continue reading, in shā Allah).”
Also on the packing list, in addition to standard toiletries: “Skin lotion and hand lotion if you have dry skin” and utensils including a spork. The guide notes that “knives here are scarce” and low quality.
There’s a section on how to talk to Turkish authorities if stopped, including claiming the purpose of the visit is tourism or helping Syrian refugees along the border. “Make sure you have a good knowledge of the tourist attractions in Turkey. Go to a travel agent and get yourself some brochures on Turkey or buy a traveller’s handbook. This is important since if they question you, you can just brandish this in front of their noses and show them how serious of a tourist you are.”
It advises women to arrange contacts beforehand, to learn some conversational Turkish, not travel on the same plane in groups larger than three, buy a SIM card for a cell phone at the airport, and to “be chill to the airport officers.” Once at a hotel, the woman would call contacts for a ride to a home of an ISIS sympathizer in preparation to cross the border at night or dawn. It cautions that if you leave your luggage at the safehouse “they might steal your stuff.” The guide also recommends bringing an extra abaya in case a woman rips hers while crawling under barbed wire at the border.
After crossing into ISIS territory, newbies are advised to “be sure to take a breath of fresh air, ‘cause that’s how sharī’ah feels like.”
The handbook includes some testimonials from foreign fighters who made the trip, including a European jihadist who “hacked some Israeli credit cards” to cover the cost of his ticket.
One woman tells of sneaking off from her family to join the Islamic State yet being detained by Turkish authorities who didn’t buy her story of being an aid worker. ISIS “found out about our predicament and sent us a lawyer who worked some magic” and got she and other women released from Turkish custody after a week, she writes.
The guide includes a list of Twitter handles, some suspended, of contacts within the Islamic State, reminding would-be jihadis to reach out only through secure browsers and chat apps.
The White House made clear today that President Obama isn’t interested in attending the giant American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington beginning a week from Sunday.
Obama last addressed the conference in 2012, when he was stumping for re-election votes.
In 2013, Vice President Joe Biden address AIPAC. Biden is heading to Uruguay “the first week in March,” according to the White House, for their presidential inauguration and will also hold meetings in Guatemala.
The conference runs March 1-3 at the convention center in D.C. It coincides with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress. That’s also the lobbying day of the conference, when thousands of pro-Israel activists will flood Capitol Hill.
Netanyahu will also directly address AIPAC while in town.
Last week, the State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry, who spoke at the conference last year, will be out of town at an undetermined location.
“We are still in discussions with AIPAC about what sort of administration representation they’ll have at the meeting,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today. “You’ll recall that, you know, there were previous — in previous years there have been administration representatives, including the president on at least one occasion I can think of off the top of my head, but we’re still evaluating the invitation and as soon as we have some more information about who will be available to speak to the group I will let you all know.”
Obama spoke to the conference as a senator in 2008, when he was stumping for votes, and as president in 2011 in addition to 2012.
Kerry speech’s last year, which received a lukewarm reception, extolled the brilliance of Obama’s Iran negotiating plans in an address that began 45 minutes late.
Asked directly if Obama was considering going to AIPAC this year, Earnest replied, “Not that I’m aware of.”
Democrats confirmed to speak at the conference this year include longtime supporters of Israel and critics of the administration’s policy on Iran and ISIS.
Dem Speakers include Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.).
If you weathered the Academy Awards last night, you may have been pleasantly jolted out of your seat by Lady Gaga’s pitch-perfect tribute for the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music.
After Gaga belted out her medley of the musical’s numbers in an uncharacteristically conservative chiffon gown, none other than Julie Andrews came out to give her blessing to the tribute and to give Gaga a big hug.
Then came the haters:
— DJ Rubiconski (@Rubiconski) February 23, 2015
On FB: People calling Lady Gaga a zionist devil-worshipper. OK.
— Erna Mahyuni (@ernamh) February 23, 2015
— KuddlyKalli (@KuddlyKalli) February 23, 2015
6 weeks after Israel killed 2000+ in Gaza, Lady Gaga said the world was wrong on Israel ’cause everyone was so nice to her @TerrinaMajnoona
— Julie (@NYCJulieNYC) February 23, 2015
— susi hoy (@palestininianpr) February 23, 2015
Despite intense pressure from the BDS movement to boycott Israel, Lady Gaga performed in Tel Aviv last September. “Put your hands up and cheer for yourselves,” she told the crowd. “You are strong, you are brave, you are confident, and I f*cking love you, Israel.”
Afterward, she stressed that “the world view of Israel is just not reality.”
“It’s in a beautiful place, the people are in good spirits. I had a very emotional show with those fans. It was wonderful.”
By the time most folks at home had passed out from boredom, or gone to bed because they have real jobs to wake up for on Monday morning, Patricia Arquette sobered up enough to use her Best Supporting Actress win to preach to the choir about wage inequality.
Snort, blink, roll over, resume snooze.
The speech stood in stark contrast to host Neil Patrick Harris’s earlier joke about the $160,000 SWAG bags being given to those nominated in the Oscars’ top 5 categories. After saying that the bags were loaded with such goodies as two vacations and a $20,000 astrology reading, Harris joked that the bags also contained “an armored car ride to safety when the revolution comes.” The stars clad in gold and diamonds responded with appropriate Marie Antoinette-style laughs and gloved claps.
Having won the Oscar, Arquette won’t be getting any SWAG. Those bags are only for the runners-up. Perhaps that’s what she meant when she referenced wage inequality among the rich and famous. Shouldn’t all the beautiful people get $20,000 astrology readings for free?
92.5 million of the Oscars’ potential viewers are currently jobless. For Arquette’s reference, that’s boys as well as girls. Those 92.5 mil and their employed compatriots just spent a week listening to their president tell them he could solve the problem of terrorism (not Islamic, just terrorism) by offering ISIS members (ironically notably all Islamic terrorists) the power of job creation. While the men of ISIS would argue that they already have jobs, I bet the women that have been kidnapped by ISIS and forced into marriages/sex slavery would really dig some income equality right now. Or perhaps just some equality in general.
But hey, Hollywood women suffer. They don’t get paid “as much” and they definitely don’t all get the SWAG at the parties. Thanks, Patricia, for addressing the economic inequalities in our society that, much like the revolution preached and fostered by your fellow stars, is the responsibility of none other than Hollywood’s favorite politicians.
Had Arquette really wanted to bring a much-needed laugh to the boring ceremony, she would’ve threatened that Hollywood’s women would join ISIS if their wage issues weren’t resolved. If there’s anything that can’t wear down radical, non-descript terrorists, it’s the incessant whining of spoiled socialists.
The mayor of Jerusalem and his bodyguard took down a knife-wielding terrorist today, a takedown captured on Jerusalem Municipality Emergency and Safety Department footage.
According to YNet News, the 18-year-old Palestinian teen from Ramallah stabbed a 27-year-old Haredi man in central Jerusalem’s Safra Square.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, 55, was in his car nearby, jumped out of his vehicle along with his security guard, and rushed the suspect. They also gave first aid to the victim, who suffered “moderate” wounds, until paramedics arrived.
Barkat, who was a paratrooper during his six years of IDF service, is in the white shirt in the above security footage.
UPDATE: Looks like the victim is going to be OK.
PHOTO: Avraham Goldschmidt, married w/4 children from Betar Illit, stabbed & wounded by Arab terrorist in Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/Nm92X6YbZB
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) February 22, 2015
Qatar yanked its ambassador from Egypt after Cairo accused the state of supporting terrorism — and Egyptians aren’t exactly broken up by Doha’s departure.
The Gulf Cooperation Council is siding with Qatar, though, with secretary general Abdullatif al-Zayani saying in a statement that he “rejects accusations by Egypt’s permanent envoy at the Arab League that Qatar supports terrorism.”
The accusations are “unfounded, contradict reality, and ignore the sincere efforts by Qatar as well as the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab states in combating terrorism and extremism at all levels,” he said, according to Al-Arabiya.
It all started at Wednesday’s Arab League session when Qatar criticized Egypt for its strikes against ISIS forces in Libya, upset that “unilateral” action was taken after the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians without consulting other Arab nations first.
Tarek Adel, Egypt’s representative at the Arab League, replied, according to the Middle East News Agency, “According to our reading in Egypt of the Qatari reservation, it is evident that Qatar is revealing its position that it is supportive of terrorism.”
Qatar’s news agency released a statement from their foreign ministry claiming Adel’s “tense statement… confuses the need to combat terrorism and the brutal killing and burning of civilians.”
Ousted former President Mohamed Morsi is currently on trial, accused of leaking state secrets to Muslim Brotherhood-supporter Qatar. Morsi could receive the death penalty if convicted.
Nasser Bin Hamad M. Al-Khalifa, the former Qatari ambassador to Washington, tweeted that his country objected to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s “behavior as it was violation of UN charter and international law resulting in killing and burning of innocent ppl!”
“After Sisi committed his crimes against Libyan children men and women in Derna, he tried to force Arab states to back him up after the fact,” Al-Khalifa wrote.
Top trending hashtag in Egypt now: Qatar, daughter of a bitch…Qatar recalled its ambassador in Egypt.
— The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh) February 18, 2015
— Yasmine El Bilbeissi (@samantousha) February 19, 2015
Now they are holding us back to present those criminals to justice #Qatar_supports_isis
— Yasmine El Bilbeissi (@samantousha) February 19, 2015
— S A Ⓜ E H (@samehabouelkhie) February 19, 2015
— S A Ⓜ E H (@samehabouelkhie) February 19, 2015
— Amina (@amina10000001) February 19, 2015
#Qatar_supports_isis Qatar help and protect terrorist criminals ran away from Egypt and refused to comply with interpol jurisdiction
— أحمد (@Al3askarY) February 19, 2015
— Asho (@ashrafthewand) February 19, 2015
President Obama told a gathering of international dignitaries today that “all of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like ISIL somehow represent Islam, because that is a falsehood that embraces the terrorists’ narrative.”
He also called on Muslim clerics and organizations to “push back not just on twisted interpretations of Islam” but “on the lie that we are somehow engaged in a clash of civilizations.”
“Obviously, there is a complicated history between the Middle East, the West, and none of us I think should be immune from criticism in terms of specific policies, but the notion that the West is at war with Islam is an ugly lie. And all of us, regardless of our faith, have a responsibility to reject it,” the president said.
“At the same time, former extremists have the opportunity to speak out — speak the truth about terrorist groups. And oftentimes, they can be powerful messengers in debunking these terrorist ideologies. One said, ‘This wasn’t what we came for, to kill other Muslims.’ Those voices have to be amplified.”
Among other components of his anti-extremism plan already outlined, including jobs and good governance, Obama stressed ensuring “that our diverse societies truly welcome and respect people of all faiths and backgrounds, and leaders set the tone on this issue.”
He noted “acts of anti-Semitism” in Europe, “or in some cases, anti-Muslim sentiment or anti-immigrant sentiment.”
“When people spew hatred towards others because of their faith or because they are immigrants, it feeds into terrorist narratives. If entire communities feel they can never become a full part of the society in which they reside, it feeds a cycle of fear and resentment and a sense of injustice upon which extremists prey,” Obama continued. “And we can’t allow cycles of suspicions to tear at the fabric of our countries.”
“So we all recognize the need for more dialogues across countries and cultures. Those efforts are indeed important. But what’s most needed today, perhaps, are more dialogues within countries, not just across faiths, but also within faiths. Violent extremists and terrorists thrive when people of different religions or sects pull away from each other and are able to isolate each other, label them as ‘they,’ as opposed to us, something separate and apart.”
So, Obama said, “let’s share the truth of our faiths with each other.”
He announced a program named after murder U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens “to connect 1 million young people from America and the Middle East and North Africa for dialogue.”
“In some of our countries, including the United States, Muslim communities are still small and, you know, relative to the entire population. And as a result, many people in our countries don’t always know personally somebody who is Muslim. So the image they get of Muslims or Islam is in the news. And given the existing news cycle, that can give a very distorted impression,” he said. “A lot of the bad, like terrorists who claim to speak for Islam, that’s absorbed by the general population; not enough of the good — the more than 1 billion people around the world who do represent Islam, and are doctors and lawyers and teachers and neighbors and friends.”
“So we have to remember these Muslim men and women, the young Palestinian working to build understanding and trust with Israelis, but also trying to give voice to her people’s aspirations; the Muslim clerics working for peace with Christian pastors and priests in Nigeria and the Central African Republic to put an end to the cycle of hate; the civil society leaders in Indonesia, one of the world’s largest democracies; parliamentarians in Tunisia working to build one of the world’s newest democracies; business leaders in India with one of the world’s largest Muslim populations; entrepreneurs unleashing new innovations in places like Malaysia, health workers fighting to save lives from polio and from Ebola in West Africa and volunteers who go to disaster zones after a tsunami or after an earthquake to ease suffering and help families rebuild, Muslims who have risked their lives as human shields to protect Coptic churches in Egypt and to protect Christians attending mass in Pakistan and who try to protect synagogues in Syria.”
Obama reminded all that a Muslim police officer was killed in the Charlie Hebdo massacre and a Muslim employee saved Jews at the kosher grocery store.
“It’s not a question of Jews or Christians or Muslims,” he said. “We’re all in the same boat, and we have to help each other to get out of this crisis.”
Thanks to Al-Arabiya for circulating this gem on the same week of Galileo’s birth:
Answering a student question on whether the Earth is stationary or moving, Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari replied: “stationary and does not move.”
He then attempted to support his argument by quoting some clerics and selected religious statements. But his most controversial method to debunk the rotation theory was a “logical” deduction in which he used a visual.
“First of all, where are we now? we go to Sharjah airport to travel to China by plane, clear?! focus with me, this is Earth;” he said, holding a sealed water cup.
He argued that if a plane stops still in air “China would be coming towards it” in case the Earth rotates on one direction. It the Earth rotates on opposite direction, the plane would never reach China, because “China is also rotating.”
The sheikh also said the moon landings were a hoax, which actually just puts him the company of a bunch of American conspiracy theorists.
Twitter is huge in Saudi Arabia, so the mocking came swiftly after his Sunday science lesson.
The pathetic hack who sold out his own countrymen during the Vietnam War and is now, of course, secretary of state, deserves every bit of abuse that comes his way during the sham negotiations with Persia:
Iran’s foreign minister and lead negotiator in nuclear talks with the United States has been ordered by the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader to stop shouting and yelling at Secretary of State John Kerry during negotiating sessions. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told his country’s state controlled media in a recent interview that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has instructed him to stop yelling at Kerry and other top U.S. officials during the talks.
Reports about Zarif’s temper first emerged in the Iranian press last November, when the United States and Iran agreed to extend talks through June of this year. Zarif is said to “frequently shout at Western diplomats” with such force that bodyguards have been forced to enter the negotiation room.
And, naturally, Mr. Sixteen Weeks sits there and takes it, because he knows that an even worse man than himself — that would be Barack Hussein Obama II — wants him to help Iran succeed in getting its nuclear weapons program fully functional.
Abbas Araqchi, an Iranian diplomat who is also a member of the negotiating team, is reported to have said in an interview that during past negotiations in Geneva, Zarif “shouted” at Kerry and spoke to him in a manner “unprecedented” in the history of U.S. diplomacy. Zarif appeared to cop to this behavior during a recent interview with the state-controlled Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), according to an independent translation of the report provided to the Washington Free Beacon.
Following reports that Zarif shouts at Kerry, Zarif was summoned to a meeting with Khamenei. He referred to this meeting during recent remarks made to a high school class, according to the IRNA. “‘Why you are yelling in negotiations? Smile and speak,’” he recalled the Supreme Leader saying. “‘Do not quarrel on the negotiation table, reason with them,’” Khamenei continued, citing a verse from the Quran that states “Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds.… But speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear [Allah].”
Zarif added that he begins each day by praying over six verses of the Quran before entering the nuclear discussions. He went on to say that U.S. sanctions no longer have an impact on Tehran.
The problem is, we’re no better than Kerry. We just sit here and take it, too.
Secretary of State John Kerry will be out of town — somewhere, according to the State Department — and unable to speak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference.
Kerry spoke to AIPAC last year, an annual event that draws thousands of pro-Israel lobbyists to Capitol Hill. President Obama last addressed the conference in 2012, when he was seeking re-election.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu is scheduled to speak at the conference, which runs March 1-3 at the convention center in D.C. It coincides with Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress.
“I expect we certainly will have representation. I don’t think we’re at a point of announcing who that will be yet,” State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said today when asked about the conference.
And why won’t Kerry be there?
“I think the more likely reason is that the secretary is probably going to be out of town, which I don’t think surprises any of you, given his overseas travel schedule. We’re still working out the next couple of weeks,” Psaki said.
Vice President Joe Biden has also announced unspecified travel plans that will keep him from being in the chamber when Netanyahu speaks. “Is everyone fleeing?” a reporter asked.
“We’ve all spent days, if not months on a plane. I don’t think it’s should surprise anyone that the chief diplomat might be overseas,” Psaki retorted.
“I believe the vice president is attending the inauguration for the new government of Panama, I believe. I can’t remember the specifics, but it’s a set date. And again we, as you know, always have a fluid schedule. And as we have more information, we’ll let you know. I expect we’ll be certainly represented there,” she continued. “I think, again, the secretary of state never speaks at this every single year. I expect we’ll have a representation there. I would leave it at that.”
The new Panamanian leader was inaugurated last summer.
“Perhaps that’s not the right information. I’m sure you can check the vice president’s schedule on his Web site,” Psaki said. Biden is heading to Uruguay “the first week in March,” according to the White House, for their presidential inauguration and will also hold meetings in Guatemala.
“Might you invent a country that he could go to if — if there isn’t any?” a reporter asked of Kerry.
“I don’t think inaugurations for new leaders are invented,” Psaki snapped before asking for a change of subject.
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki stressed the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by ISIS wasn’t just an issue of religion, even when confronted with the pope’s words on the murders.
Pope Francis today said a Mass for “our 21 Coptic brothers, slaughtered for the sole reason that they were Christians.”
“The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out to be heard,” Francis said earlier. “It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians!”
Asked about the pope’s reaction in a phone call today with reporters, and asked specifically “does the administration agree” the men were killed because of their faith, Psaki said she was “not going to put new labels or — or, certainly, argue with comments of the pope.”
“But I would say that we have spoken in the past about, you know, our concerns about the, you know, targeting of — of religious groups, and we’ve seen, unfortunately, this happen in Iraq and other places,” Psaki said. “ISIL has gone after not just individuals for religious affiliation but for being a woman, for being — for even people with disabilities. And so we’ve seen the barbarity of their tactics.”
“But, you know, beyond that, obviously, this is simply a horrific attack of terrorism and one that we came out this weekend and joined many countries in the world in condemning.”
The Obama administration stood out among other U.S. allies for not identifying the slain men as Coptic Christians, simply condemning the mass murder of “Egyptian citizens.” Australia, the UK, and Canada all noted the victims were Christian.
Psaki was also asked about spokeswoman Marie Harf’s comments to MSNBC that “we cannot kill our way of this war” and assertion that disaffected jihadists need good-paying jobs.
“Marie, my colleague, was saying what we’ve said many times, which is this is not only a military solution. A military solution will not bring an end to ISIL,” Psaki replied. “That’s why there are several components of our coalition. Yes, the military component is important, and we’ve done thousands of strikes in Iraq and Syria. That’s continuing to pick up, as you know, and you’ve covered quite a bit.”
“But we also need to delegitimize ISIL. If the ideology is out there and growing, ISIL will continue to grow and thrive. We need to cut off their financing. We need to prevent foreign fighters from moving.”
Psaki said Harf was talking “not just ISIL” but referring to the Countering Violent Extremism summit that began in Washington today, which “is broad.”
“It’s not just about ISIL. That’s certainly the part of it. But it’s about countering violent extremism and how to take on this threat over the long term,” she said. “And obviously, there are several components as — and the evidence of that is also all of the different breakout groups that are happening throughout the summit. But, again, I think this is something we’ve talked about quite a bit. And the need to make sure we’re working with countries to address some of the root causes that have led to the — you know, ability to recruit.”
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), whose state includes a “vibrant and thriving Coptic community,” said the “innocent men were murdered because of their Christian faith.”
“But this attack was targeted at all people — Coptic, Egyptian, American, and all who reject extreme ideologies that have no basis in religious doctrine, but rather are rooted in hatred and ignorance,” Menendez added in a statement.
Adi Ben Hur reports that there is more than one foreign government funding the “Anybody but Bibi” V15 campaign in Israel:
Recently, the activity of V15 and One Voice, those “spontaneous” groups established to defeat the reigning government in elections, were revealed to the public at large. They have been pounding the pavement, going door-to-door, and conducting a campaign with a very simple message: “Anyone but Bibi” and “Bring Back Hope.”
So, who is their alternative to Benjamin Netanyahu? After all, despite the strident denials, the people behind this campaign are a long list of known Labor activists. They understand that Labor’s uncharismatic leader, Isaac “Bujie” Herzog can’t do the job alone, and so they’ve decided to lend a hand.
…Even if all this activity is technically legal, it’s still very problematic. What makes it worse is the massive funding from foreign governments. Democracy means rule by the people, and the intervention of foreign countries is nothing short of subversion. According to the screenshot below from One Voice’s website (accessed on January 29th this year), One Voice’s funding sources are “corporations and governmental sources in Israel, the PA and the international community.”
But even this isn’t accurate: last month, Christina Taylor, in charge of grants to One Voice in the US, said told Front Page Magazine that One Voice had received two grants from the American State Department in 2014. Taylor claimed that the money was not meant to assist intervening in Israeli elections. The present heightened activity and presence of V15 in elections makes this disavowal dubious to say the least.
In addition, the list of “partners” to One Voice on the English website includes the European Union, the U.S. State Department, and the British Labour and Conservative Parties. Strangely, none of these last appear on the Hebrew-language website. Instead, we see other partners, including “Shatil” – the practical arm of the New Israel Fund.
…One Voice is billed as an international organization with branches in the US, Israel, and Europe. However, to prevent problems, none of the local branches are connected to the main headquarters, and appear to be listed separately in their host countries. Thus, it can declare in tax reports that it does not “maintain offices, employees or agents outside the United States,” and that it did not “take part in activities…to promote a campaign for or against a candidate for public office” – all this while engaging in just that.
Is anyone bothering to ask why Bibi poses such a threat to these various factions? Or why no single Labor candidate is strong enough to combat him face-to-face in a clean election that doesn’t dance around ideology with “anybody but” and “hope and change” lingo? What is it that the U.S. State Department, European Union, and British Labour and Conservative Parties fear the most about Netanyahu’s potential re-election?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem on Monday that the “real question” that should be asked about his upcoming Washington trip “is how could any responsible Israeli prime minister refuse to speak to Congress on a matter so important to Israel’s survival.”
“How could anyone refuse an invitation to speak on a matter that could affect our very existence when such an invitation is offered?” he said.
Netanyahu also defended the timing of the March 3 speech, which coincides with the AIPAC mega-conference in D.C. but the White House complains is too close to Israeli elections.
“The deadline for reaching an agreement with Iran is March 24th. That’s the date that drives the speech. Now is the time for Israel to make its case – now before it’s too late. Would it be better to complain about a deal that threatens the security of Israel after it’s signed? I believe it’s more responsible to speak out now to try to influence the negotiations while they’re still ongoing,” he said.
The prime minister added “the whole point of Zionism is that the Jewish people would no longer be spectators to the decision-making that determines our fate.”
“Remember, we were once powerless. We were once voiceless. We couldn’t even speak on our own behalf. Well, we can and we do now,” he said. “The answer to all three questions are the same. Why Congress? Why Washington? Why now? Because of the grave dangers posed by the deal that is on the table right now.”
Netanyahu stressed that the “survival of Israel is not a partisan issue.”
“The fight against militant Islamic terrorism is not a partisan issue. The battle against the Islamic State, which just beheaded 21 Christians, is not a partisan issue. And the effort to prevent the Islamic Republic from building nuclear weapons, that’s not a partisan issue either,” he continued. “I think the pursuit of nuclear weapons by Iran is the most urgent security challenge facing the world. I think the greatest danger facing humanity is the possibility that any movement or any regime of militant Islam will arm itself with the weapons of mass destruction. Everything that we see in our region now will pale by comparison. Everything that we see in Europe will pale by comparison.”
“When a militant Islamic regime that is rampaging through the region right now – that’s what Iran is doing, it’s conducting a rampage through the region – when such a regime has nuclear weapons, the whole world will be in peril. Look at what Iran is doing now without nuclear weapons. States are collapsing. And Iran is plunging forward. It’s already controlling four capitals. It’s controlling now through its Houthi proxies the Bab-el-Mandeb Straits. It’s trying to envelope Israel with three terrorist tentacles – Lebanon, Hezbollah, Hamas in Gaza and now it’s trying to build with its Hezbollah proxies a third front in the Golan. Such a regime with nuclear weapons would be infinitely more dangerous to everyone, not only to Israel.”
Netanyahu asked if his address to a joint session of Congress “will prevent a dangerous deal with Iran from being signed.”
“Honestly, I don’t know. No one knows,” he replied.
“But I do know this – it’s my sacred duty as prime minister of Israel to make Israel’s case. On March 3rd, I’ll fulfill that duty, representing all the citizens of Israel before the two houses of Congress. And I will make the best case for Israel that I can, knowing that our case is just, that our case is sound, and that our case offers the best hope to resolve this issue peacefully.”
The crown prince of Bahrain argued in an op-ed for the Telegraph that bickering over ISIS’ name or religion (see the White House refusal to use “radical Islamists”) needs to be replaced across the board with the recognition that the world is fighting theocrats.
Bahrain is sending units from its Defense Forces to help Jordan and is also the base for the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, a 45-year-old educated in America and England, is viewed as the reformer among Bahrain’s royal family.
Writes the prince, in part:
Terrorism is not an ideology; we are not merely fighting terrorists, we are fighting theocrats.
…If we start to define ourselves as in a war with theocrats, however, then I believe we can begin the process of delivering the military, political, economic – and maybe even the social – policies to counter this threat together, as we have in the past. In the last century, the world faced a series of overwhelming threats: fascism, totalitarianism, cold-war communism. They were studied, however, as concepts, understood and clearly defined. We addressed them, clinically, as ideologies.
So what do we call this new form of ideology, how do we identify it and how do we define it? We must agree the specific terminology and identified characteristics to take us to the very root of the problem we face. For one group alone, we already struggle with an absurdity of titles including Isis, Isil, IS and Da’ish. We see the likes of al-Qaeda and its various offshoots. We have al-Shabab and Boko Haram and that’s before contemplating yet unformed groups of their type that may develop in the future. In each case, however, we continue to hop blindly and haphazardly from one tactical threat to the other, without strategically understanding or categorising our foe.
We can begin this process by more fully analysing their characteristics. We know these are people who attempt to govern us here on Earth as well as in the hereafter. They isolate themselves and place no value on the social contract established among ourselves as societies of human beings. They oppress women and slaughter those who do not condone, approve of or subscribe to their own twisted ideology. They also govern by religious edict, constraining the use of reason itself among would-be believers. Their methodology combines the tactics of religious ideology alongside lawless paramilitary rule. It is fuelled by the gains of criminal enterprise in order to establish the fiction of governance, through which continues the desperate fight for geographic territory to claim, protect and rule.
The prince adds that “while we grapple with the conceptual, practical and legal protections of media regulation and online freedom, they ruthlessly exploit these platforms to sow hatred and showcase evil.” A “new-world foe,” he argues, cannot be defeated “through old world solutions alone.”
“While in all probability we will sadly be fighting them for a long time to come, barbaric and primitive though they are, it is naming and understanding of the ideology itself that should next be our target,” Salman writes. “These individuals and groups will of course ebb and flow, but it is the ideology that must be combated and defeated. In the process, we can replace the term ‘war on terror’ and focus on the real threat, which is the rise of these evil fascist theocracies.”
With ancient Jewish communities in Europe and elsewhere starting to flee, that’s what the great Joel Kotkin is wondering:
Recent anti-Semitic events – from France and Belgium to Argentina – are accelerating the relentless shrinking of the Jewish Diaspora. Once spread virtually throughout the world, the Diaspora – the scattering of Jews after the fall of ancient Israel – is retreating from many of its global redoubts as Jews increasingly cluster in two places: Israel and the United States.
Seventy years after the liberation of Auschwitz, Jewish communities throughout Europe are again on the decline. This time, the pressure mainly comes not from the traditional anti-Semitic Right but from Islamic fundamentalists, which include many European citizens. Not all this decline is attributable to attacks from Islamic militants. Demographic factors – intermarriage and low birth rates – afflict almost all Diaspora communities.
But large-scale migration out of Europe is something not seen since the 1950s. In France, the nation with the largest Jewish population outside Israel and the United States, the outflow of Jews doubled in 2014, to 7,000, from the year before. The Jewish Agency is now drawing up plans to attract 120,000 more to Israel.
Kotkin notes that the creation of the state of Israel inadvertently helped reduce the presence of Diaspora Jews in their traditional communities of North Africa and the Levant. Further, America’s welcoming presence has sheltered Jews from Iran and South Africa who have fled the political turmoil in those two countries.
As one Jewish community after another has declined, the role of Israel has expanded. In 1939, most of the world’s 16 million Jews lived in Europe, and, even by 1945, barely one in five Jews resided in Palestine. Since then, the Diaspora population has dropped from 10 million to 8 million, while Israel now accounts for roughly 40 percent of the world’s Jews, according to the Jewish Agency. Overall, the United States and Israel account for 81 percent of Jews worldwide, compared with barely a quarter in 1939.
At the same time, Israel’s Jewish community will grow faster due to a birthrate twice as high as in most countries, including the United States. These trends confirm some of the predictions made a half century ago by the French sociologist Georges Friedmann in his provocative book, “The End of the Jewish People?” As Israel became stronger, more dominant and, more Middle Eastern in mentality, he suggested, Israeli identity would soon supplant that of the Diaspora. “The ‘Jewish people,’” he wrote, “is disappearing and giving place to the Israeli nation.”
Kotkin, a professor of urban studies at Chapman University in southern California, however, makes some powerful arguments in favor of continuing a strong Jewish presence across the world:
The mingling of Jewish and other cultures helped create the earliest global financial networks, the development of “off the shelf” clothing and the Hollywood entertainment industry. Intellectually, the Diaspora created some of the world’s greatest minds, including Moses Maimonides, Baruch Spinoza, Karl Marx, Franz Kafka, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Andrew Grove and Saul Bellow.
Diasporas tend to produce remarkable innovation and creative thinking. Dispersed colonies of Armenians, Lebanese, Chinese and Indians have played disproportionate roles in modern cultures and economies, due largely to their global reach and knowledge. One of the great tragedies of the current wave of Islamist agitation lies in the gradual eviction of Christians, Baha’i and other minorities from the Middle East, where they have played critical roles in these countries.
Ultimately, maintaining the Diaspora may prove as important to Jews as the continued security of Israel. Without the Diaspora, Israel just becomes another nation, with its unique history but no real universal message. The universality of the Jewish experience grows not from the soil, but from culture and thought developed largely in “exile.” In this respect, the erosion of the French Jewish community, as well as others, is not just a tragedy for that country, but for the world.
Over to you, David Goldman.
Yeah, right. And this is the “enlightened” “kingdom” of Jordan:
A court in Jordan jailed the deputy head of the country’s Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday for publicly criticizing the United Arab Emirates, in a verdict his lawyer described as illegal and an attack on free speech. The military court sentenced Zaki Bani Rushaid to 18 months in prison after convicting him of souring ties with a foreign country, a judicial source said.
He is the most high-profile political figure in decades to be imprisoned in Jordan, a U.S. ally that has so far been spared the turmoil that has spread across much of the Middle East following the Arab Spring revolts.
Convicted of “souring ties with a foreign country”? Here’s the beef:
Bani Rushaid was arrested in November after criticizing the UAE on social media for designating the Brotherhood, which is Jordan’s biggest opposition party, as a terrorist group and thereby serving Israeli interests. His arrest was condemned by rights groups. The UAE is one of Jordan’s main financial backers and the two countries are close political allies, both participating in U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
Hard to tell the players without a scorecard in the part of the world…
Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has substantial grassroots support, said in a statement the verdict “represses freedoms and confiscates the rights of individuals and is proof of the regime’s retreat from (political) reforms.” The organization has ideological ties with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which Cairo authorities banned in December 2013, but the two groups are not directly affiliated.
… but, like whatever.
Qatar’s Al Jazeera network got their hands caught in the proverbial felafel jar today when it recycled pictures of dead children from an accident months ago, claiming they were killed in Egypt’s overnight bombing of ISIS positions in Derna, Libya.
The pictures were posted on both the Al Jazeera website and their Facebook page. The picture has been changed on their website and the Facebook post has been removed, but I did screen capture the Facebook posting:
— Alwasat (@alwasatengnews) February 16, 2015
— إسلام الديب (@Deebo250) February 16, 2015
That hasn’t prevented others from repeating Al Jazeera’s claims that 40-50 women and children were killed in the overnight airstrikes:
من 40 الي 50 قتيل طفل ونساء كانوا نائمين ليبين اتقتلوا في طبرق – طيب الفيديو مصورمصريين اتقتلوا في طرابلس (غرب… http://t.co/Se9KWm46hL
— مصطفي ابو العدل (@mostafaaboadll) February 16, 2015
Egyptian Twitter users were quick to express frustration with the network’s ongoing information war against Egypt:
Want to know why Egyptians hate AJ? here you go, it's using old pics of kids claiming they were killed by Egypt army https://t.co/pjbCruM1Fz
— Mina Fayek (@minafayek) February 16, 2015
— The Big Pharaoh (@TheBigPharaoh) February 16, 2015
Since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi in Egypt after the massive June 30, 2013 protests, many in the Middle East have grown to see Al Jazeera not as a news network but as an information warfare arm of the State of Qatar and their owner, Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
In December, AlJazeera shut down its Egyptian channel in an effort to smooth relations between Egypt and Qatar.
The tension between the two states could be seen in the international protests devoted to the cause of three Al Jazeera employees that had been jailed in the wake of the June 30th revolution on charges of attempting to undermine the new Egyptian government.
While whole news organizations dedicated themselves to the Al Jazeera employees’ release, highlighted by the #FreeAJStaff hashtag, there was little discussion that Egyptian authorities had repeatedly warned Al Jazeera that they were not properly licensed to broadcast out of the country.
All three of the Al Jazeera employees have recently been released. Peter Greste, an Australian citizen, was released and deported on February 1st. The other two employees, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed were released last week on $33,000 (US) bail.
And yet when Fahmy and Mohamed were released, despite more than a year of agitation directed at Egypt for their employees’ release, the network refused to pay their bail:
— سلطان سعود القاسمي (@SultanAlQassemi) February 15, 2015
Even after his release, Mohamed Fahmy admits that his case wasn’t entirely about free expression, but rather Qatar’s weaponizing Al Jazeera against its perceived international enemies:
Their arrest came against the backdrop of deteriorating ties between Cairo and Doha, which backed the Muslim Brotherhood government of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Morsi was ousted by then army chief Sisi in July 2013.
“This case is partly about freedom of expression … however there is also a part of the case that is an ongoing cold war and score settling between Qatar and Egypt,” Fahmy said.
That more of an admission than you would hear from most U.S. establishment media outlets.
Is Netanyahu justified in wanting to present his position on the Iranian
nukes before the American Congress?
Yes 56% No 36% Don’t know 8%
Is the American Government interfering in the Israeli elections?
Yes 61% No 31% Don’t know 8%
What should Netanyahu do in the wake of criticism regarding his planned
address to Congress?
41% Go and speak regardless
17% Go but speak at AIPAC
36% Don’t go at all
06% Don’t know
According to the Jerusalem Post, the poll had a margin of error of 4.5%.
The interference on the part of the American government, specifically the Obama administration, appears to be nothing less than a part of Obama’s well-orchestrated “Bulworth Plan” to “be more honest” in his second term, as Seth Mandel at Commentary writes:
So what does it mean for Obama to be “authentic?” Here’s CNN:
In addition to revealing his actual position in favor of legal same-sex marriages, and working on immigration reform and to combat climate change, the president singled out the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Axelrod wrote. Specifically, he wanted to be tougher on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Just to put this in perspective, Obama had been working to collapse Netanyahu’s government almost immediately. What Obama was saying was that trying to collapse the duly elected Israeli government was his way of pulling punches, of not being tough enough on Netanyahu. It’s easy to see why Obama thought this might make some of his advisors nervous.
Mandel is right that Obama’s strategy is “morally bankrupt and ill advised,” although I wonder why he’d think Obama was out to gain the trust of an already doubtful Israeli electorate. Based on Obama’s “War on Muslims” platform, gaining the support of the Israeli population is furthest from the American president’s mind. Obama’s real end-game is simple: Destroy whatever is left of the Israeli-American political alliance by fostering as much distrust as possible among the Israeli and American electorates towards one another and their respective governments.
Don’t let the Messiah motif mask the reality that Obama is only the figurehead of a very large, very powerful snake that seeks to crush more than any one human being, no matter how powerful, could possibly control or destroy on their own.
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) February 15, 2015
J Street, a progressive organization that encodes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” has just released the slate for their 5th annual conference to be held in March. The list contains the usual suspects with one attempt at a surprise addition in the form of former Republican Secretary of State James Baker.
Pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon gives a concise summation of exactly why this union is anything but a bipartisan move:
…according to the Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov, James Baker is the keynote speaker.
Baker is of course infamous for reportedly saying in private conversation, while George HW Bush’s secretary of state, “F**k the Jews, they didn’t vote for us anyway.”
But his antipathy towards Israel is well documented. He wanted the US to punish Israel for destroying Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. He hated Netanyahu as early as 1990, barring him from entering the State Department’s building. And last but not least, he co-wrote the Iraq Study Group’s 2006 paper that recommended (among other things) that the US tilt its foreign policy away from Israel and towards Syria and Iran, advice that President Obama seems to have taken to heart.
So who says that J-Street isn’t bipartisan? It loves anti-Israel, antisemitic Republicans too!
Who’s next on the J Street line up, Pat Buchanan?
Note to parents of public school children: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, is also listed as a featured speaker. Perhaps she’ll enlighten the audience as to how the J Street platform ties into Common Core.
The State Department said the number of refugees admitted from Syria is expected to increase despite concern voice in a House Homeland Security hearing this week that the program is a “huge mistake.”
Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that 524 Syrians have been admitted as refugees since the uprising against Bashar Assad’s regime began in 2011.
“We’re likely to admit 1,000 to 2,000 Syrian refugees for permanent resettlement in fiscal year 2015 and a somewhat higher number that is still in the low thousands in fiscal year 2016,” she said. “I don’t have anymore details on where. There’s obviously an entire process that is undergone.”
Psaki defended the process as keeping in standing with the United States’ “long tradition of welcoming refugees, many of whom have fled unspeakable horrors and persecution.”
“There has been longstanding bipartisan support for this in Congress. And certainly I think if we look at the crisis in Syria and the unspeakable horrors that many people in that country have gone through, what many people have called for is support for more refugees, which certainly we are open to,” she added.
Refugees are admitted “in a way that is safe and consistent with our national security interests” in a process that “can take months, if not longer.”
“And we have a lot of experience with this, with Afghanistan, with Iraq, with Somalia and other places where the United States has taken refugees in from,” Pskai said. “Refugees are the most carefully vetted of all travelers to the United States. Every refugee under consideration for admission to the United States undergoes the same intensive security screening involving multiple federal intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies. These include the NCTC, the Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Defense, the FBI. This process includes a lengthy overseas in-person refugee determination and security screening interview conducted by specifically trained — specially trained DHS officers.”
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) recently sent a letter to the White House expressing concern over the State Department’s plan to resettle tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the conflict in the U.S. “I am worried that ISIS could exploit this effort in order to deploy operatives to America via a federally funded jihadi pipeline,” McCaul said this week.
Psaki said today she’s “not seen evidence that suggests that the screening system is not as rigorous as it needs to be.”
She said additional screening measures were implemented “as a result of evidence that came in on two Iraqis after they were admitted to Kentucky” tying them to violent activity in Iraq.
In full-page ads in the New York Times and Washington Post, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, who will be attending the March 3 joint session of Congress featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chided lawmakers who have vowed to boycott the address.
Relating the history of Haman in ancient Persia, who vowed to “annihilate, murder and destroy the Jews, young and old, children and women,” Wiesel stressed that “now Iran, modern Persia, has produced a new enemy.”
“The Ayatollah Khamenei has been as clear as his predecessor in declaring his goal: ‘the annihilation and destruction’ of Israel. He is bent on acquiring the weapons needed to make good on the deadly promise,” he writes in the ad.
“On the day before Purim the Prime Minister of Israel will address Congress on the catastrophic danger of a nuclear Iran. I intend to be there. Should we not show our support for what might be the last clear warning before a terrible deal is struck? Santayana wrote that those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it. I believe that those who deny history – specifically the Holocaust – are determined to repeat it. President Obama, Vice President Biden, distinguished members of Congress,” the survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald continues.
“I ask you – As one who has seen the enemies of the Jewish people make good on threats to exterminate us, how can I remain silent?”
Wiesel, 86, pleads with Congress “to put aside the politics that have obscured the critical decisions to be made.”
“Surely it is within your power to find a solution that will permit Israel’s Prime Minister to deliver his urgent message,” he says. “Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?”
The ad was produced through Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s organizations.
The list of Democrats who have said they’re not attending Netanyahu’s speech stands at 19 House lawmakers and three senators.
The Twitter responses, pro and very anti, speak for themselves.
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) February 13, 2015
Nakba denier, mass grave apologist & ethnic cleansing defender Elie Weisel supporting Netanyahu’s trip to Congress http://t.co/h6ry6RluHq
— Remi Kanazi (@Remroum) February 13, 2015
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) February 13, 2015
Elie Weasel is a terrible man. http://t.co/Fa4FupodKS
— MJ Rosenberg (@MJayRosenberg) February 12, 2015
Islamic State insurgents took control on Thursday of large parts of the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, threatening an air base where U.S. Marines are training Iraqi troops, officials said.
Al-Baghdadi, about 85 km (50 miles) northwest of Ramadi in Anbar province, has been besieged for months by the radical Sunni Islamist militants who captured vast swathes of northern and western Iraq last year.
Militants attacked al-Baghdadi from two directions earlier in the day and then advanced on the town, intelligence sources and officials in the Jazeera and Badiya operations commands said.
The officials said another group of insurgents then attacked the heavily-guarded Ain al-Asad air base five km southwest of the town, but were unable to break into it.
About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at the base, which has been struck by mortar fire on at least one previous occasion since December.
Here’s a little perspective on just how quickly the world is spinning out of order.
Five years ago this month (maybe even this week), I was at al-Asad air base with four other comics doing a show. The place was still a war zone but the Americans and Iraqis were very much in charge. The show was packed, the troops were ready to go home and leave things in what seemed to be capable hands. Heck, the other comics and I hit the base store for souvenirs before we choppered out of there.
Now ISIS is trying to overrun some Americans there.
One can debate all that went wrong in Iraq in the last five years, but there has been one constant in this equation that entire time: the Americans have had the same commander in chief since 2010.
Lawmakers have been chased around Capitol Hill to answer the question of whether or not they’ll attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress.
But a resolution introduced in the Senate today will put them on the record of supporting Netanyahu’s visit or not.
Majority Whip John Cornyn (-Texas) introduced the resolution today, which recognizes the “government of Iran’s ongoing pursuit of nuclear weapons poses a tremendous threat both to the United States and Israel,” and that Congress has “heard the perspectives, both publicly and privately, of a number of close allies involved” in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations.
The resolution states that the Senate “warmly welcomes” Netanyahu in a “timely opportunity to reinforce the United States-Israel relationship” and “eagerly awaits” his address.
It reaffirms the Senate’s “commitment to stand with Israel during times of uncertainty” and the “unequivocal and bipartisan support for the friendship between the people and governments of the United States and Israel.”
“During this time of such great instability and danger in the Middle East, the United States should be unequivocal about our commitment to one of our closest and most important allies,” Cornyn said in a statement. “I hope all my colleagues will join me in welcoming Prime Minister Netanyahu to Washington so we can continue to work together to advance our common security interests.”
Co-sponsors of the resolution are Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jim Moran (R-Kansas), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Pete Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
With GOP majorities in the House and Senate, the resolution will likely get pushed through to President Obama’s desk quickly. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), though, is not among the original co-sponsors.
Cornyn said on the Senate floor today that he could not think of a “more timely or critical subject” than the threat of Iran and terrorism to hear about from “one of the world’s great leaders.”
The senator called the opposition to Netanyahu’s address “mystifying and somewhat disappointing.”
Cornyn is also circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter inviting all senators to join in support of the resolution.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu said his speech to Congress will be about the ‘very survival’ of the State of Israel. Therefore, I believe it is critical for every Member of Congress to hear directly from the Prime Minister of our closest friend and ally in the region on how we can work together to confront the common challenges of Islamic extremism and a nuclear Iran,” Gardner said.
“It’s never been more important for the United States to stand strong beside Israel. I will use my position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to consistently advocate for policies which serve to strengthen this critical partnership. Israel’s enemies have consistently threatened to wipe Israel off the map. It’s our job to ensure that never happens.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he’s opposing President Obama’s request for an authorization to use military force against ISIS because it’s a “battle for the soul of Islam” that needs to be fought by Muslim nations.
“I remember the war in Afghanistan, which was supposed to last a few months. The war in Iraq was going to be very easy. We were in those countries for over 10 years. We have lost close to 7,000 brave men and women. The country has spent trillions of dollars,” Sanders told CNN.
“At the end of the day, if ISIS is going to be defeated — and this is a brutal, horrible organization that needs to be defeated — it is going to have to be defeated by the Muslim nations in the region,” he added. “Saudi Arabia has the fourth largest defense budget in the world. You’ve got billionaire families in Qatar, in the UAE. They have got to be increasingly involved in providing security in their region. The U.S. can be supportive. Western Europe can be supportive. But they’re going to have to do the hard work.”
After months of needling from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Obama submitted his AUMF plan to Congress yesterday. It includes an exception that “does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.”
“Look, I think the president is doing everything that he can in trying to defeat ISIS. But when I hear words like ‘enduring conflict,’ it makes me very, very nervous. I think it opens the door wider than it should be. I think we’ve got to continue airstrikes. I think we’ve got to use Special Operations Forces when we can,” Sanders argued. “But I do not want to see a never-ending quagmire in the Middle East where our troops die, come back with terrible illnesses and we end up spending trillions of dollars.”
“Once again, this war is a battle for the soul of Islam. And it’s going to have to be the Muslim countries who are stepping up. These are billionaire families all over that region. They’ve got to get their hands dirty. They’ve got to get their troops on the ground. They’ve got to win that war with our support. We cannot be leading the effort.”
On his own presidential aspirations, Sanders said he’ll decide whether he runs in 2016 “as soon as I have to.”
“We are going around the country. We’re talking to a lot of people. We’re getting a lot of support. But when you take on the billionaire class, that ain’t an easy assignment. So I got to make sure the support is there, and that’s what we’re trying to ascertain,” the senator said.
“I would be taking on the Koch brothers and Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry and the private insurance companies. My job is not to run against Hillary Clinton. My job is to take on the political, economic and media establishment which have so much power in this country.”
Canadian author and broadcaster Ezra Levant became a world-famous free speech warrior after a foreign-born imam took him to “human rights” court for publishing the Danish Muslim cartoons.
Levant was forced to educate himself about Muslim concepts like sharia, taqiyya, hudna and other Islamic supremacist concepts, then shared this knowledge with other Canadians and the world.
His latest project, CanadianJihad.ca, teams Levant with Middle East expert Jonathan Halevi, a polyglot who specializes in translating both Arabic jihadist phraseology and the weasel words of so-called “moderates” into plain English.
From the website:
Canadians believe in freedom of speech and freedom of religion. But when Muslim leaders preach violence against women, gays and non-Muslim “infidels”, and even support violent jihad and the creation of an Islamic state, our police and security services have a duty to investigate to see if Canadian laws are being broken.
We call upon the Director of CSIS, the Commissioner of the RCMP, and the Ministers of Public Safety, Justice, National Revenue and Immigration to examine the evidence of extremist conduct compiled on this website to consider if it warrants further investigation and potential action.
At the site, you’ll find videotaped speeches and sermons by “Canadian” Muslim leaders, declaring their sinister intentions for their adopted homeland.
CanadianJihad.ca is clearly inspired by the Conservative government’s proposed anti-terror legislation.
I have mixed feelings about these new laws, but will always support any effort to help dangerous Muslims publicly hang themselves by their own petard.
With Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at his side, President Obama this afternoon vowed to go after ISIS with the military might of the U.S.
Well, to a point.
Obama was trying to gin up support for an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) proposal that he submitted to Congress this morning.
“This resolution reflects our core objective to destroy ISIL. It supports the comprehensive strategy that we’ve been pursuing with our allies and our partners. A systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, support and training for local forces on the ground, including the moderate Syrian opposition, preventing ISIL attacks in the region and beyond, including by foreign terrorist fighters who try to threaten our countries; regional and international support for an inclusive Iraqi government that unites the Iraqi people and strengthens Iraqi forces against ISIL; humanitarian assistance for the innocent civilians of Iraq and Syria who are suffering so terribly under ISIL’s reign of horror,” Obama said.
“…The resolution we’ve submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war like Afghanistan or Iraq. The 2,600 American troops in Iraq today largely serve on bases. And yes, they face the risks that come with service in any dangerous environment, but they do not have a combat mission.”
The text states it “does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.”
The president, who often notes he pulled U.S. forces out of Iraq, stressed he’s “convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East.”
“That’s not in our national security interest and it’s not necessary for us to defeat ISIL. Local forces on the ground who know their country’s best are best positioned to take the ground fight to ISIL and that’s what they’re doing,” Obama said.
“At the same time, this resolution strikes the necessary balance by giving us the flexibility we need for unforeseen circumstances. For example, if we had actionable intelligence about a gathering of ISIL leaders, and our partners didn’t have the capacity to get them, I would be prepared to order our special forces to take action because I will not allow these terrorists to have a safe haven.”
His proposal repeals the 2002 Iraq AUMF and limits the new one to three years. “I do not believe America’s interests are served by endless war or by remaining on a perpetual war footing,” Obama said, adding that it’s “not a timetable” but “it’s conceivable that the mission is completed earlier.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) called Obama’s three-year AUMF limit “aspirational,” but noted that the limit gives the next president time to review Obama’s strategy and decide if a change in course is needed.
Obama insisted that progress is being made against ISIS: “We’re taking out their commanders, their fighters and their leaders… and we’ve seen reports of sinking morale among ISIL fighters as they realize the futility of their cause.”
“Its barbaric murders of so many people, including American hostages, are a desperate and revolting attempt to strike fear in the hearts of people it can never possibly win over by its ideas or its ideology, because it offers nothing but misery and death and destruction.”
Lawmakers from both parties generally agreed that the AUMF will go through lots of debate and negotiations in Congress.
“I’m concerned that the president is more focused on threading a political needle here rather than how to be successful in beating ISIS,” House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told CNN.
Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said he was concerned about the AUMF definition of “associated persons or forces” and safeguarding against “mission creep.”
“We must strike a balance between providing the current administration with the authorities it needs to ensure national security, while safeguarding against future Executive Branch overreach,” Smith said.
“If you put a geographic limit on the authorization of the use of force, you’ve basically told ISIL where they can go to hide,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told Fox. “If you say, for example, you can only hit them in Iraq and Syria, they have every incentive now to move their operations and their training facilities to some other place that’s not included within it.”
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a should be recognized as a victory for Iran.
Reports from Yemen said that the Iran-backed Houti Shiite rebels seized between 20 and 30 vehicles from the U.S. Embassy after staff withdrew.
Marines leaving the country also had their weapons stripped away before they were allowed to depart Yemen.
According to an airport official in Sana’a, “the Houthis seized many U.S. Marines’ weapons at the airport, and the American troops also handed over some to random airport officials Wednesday,” CNN reported.
Embassy staff were burning documents and destroying weapons stores last night, but they had plenty of warning. After the Houthis seized power just before President Obama’s State of the Union address in January, a defense official told NBC News that the Embassy was “not at risk.”
The departure date comes as supporters of the regime in Tehran are celebrating the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution by burning American and Israeli flags.
“This is yet another indication of Iran’s aggressive efforts – often using armed proxy forces – to spread its malevolent influence throughout the Middle East,” Intel Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said. “The Iranians continue to act as the primary supporter of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, even as the Obama administration offers the Iranian regime ever more concessions in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.”
“The coup in Yemen and the deteriorating security situation in Sana’a are particularly concerning because they will hinder the United States’ campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which publicly claimed responsibility for the recent terrorist massacre in Paris,” he continued.
“Having inspired Nidal Hassan’s killing spree at Fort Hood and orchestrated multiple attempts to bomb U.S. airliners, AQAP is a direct threat to the U.S. homeland that we must continue to hunt down with unrelenting persistence.”
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby confirmed this morning that “all the military personnel are out of there.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed in a statement Tuesday that despite controversy over his impending address to a joint session of Congress, he needs to address lawmakers “because Congress might have an important role on a nuclear deal with Iran.”
Netanyahu stressed that Israel’s survival “is not a partisan issue, not in Israel nor in the United States”:
This doesn’t mean that from time to time Israeli governments have not had serious disagreements with American administrations over the best way to achieve the security of Israel.
Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared Israel’s independence in the face of strong opposition from US Secretary of State George Marshall. Likewise, Prime Minister Eshkol’s decisions at the start of the Six Day War, Prime Minister Begin’s decision regarding the nuclear reactor in Iraq, and Prime Minister Sharon’s decisions to press ahead with Operation Defensive Shield; these were all strongly opposed at the time by American administrations.
Disagreements over Israel’s security have occurred between prime ministers in Israel from the left and from the right and American presidents from both parties.
None of these disagreements led to a rupture in the relationship between Israel and the United States.
In fact, over time, our relationship grew stronger.
But we do have today a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran.
This offer would enable Iran to threaten Israel’s survival.
This is a regime, Iran, that is openly committed to Israel’s destruction. It would be able, under this deal, to break out to a nuclear weapon in a short time, and within a few years, to have the industrial capability to produce many nuclear bombs for the goal of our destruction.
This is not a personal disagreement between President Obama and me. I deeply appreciate all that he has done for Israel in many fields. Equally, I know that the President appreciates my responsibility, my foremost responsibility, to protect and defend the security of Israel.
I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the President, but because I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters yesterday that even though “it seems unseemly to have created this political issue” with House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) invitation, he won’t be among Dems ditching the speech.
“Secretary Kerry said, and I agree with this, that prime minister is welcome to speak to a session of Congress… He is the leader of one of our closest allies in the world, a nation to which we have very strong, unbreakable ties,” Hoyer said. “But it was unfortunate that we have not raised political questions about the politicization either of the Israeli election, or the political relationship between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of Israel.”
So far The Hill has counted 14 House Democrats and three senators who plan to skip Netanyahu’s speech, including Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairmen Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.).