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Why I Heart Israel and Salute the FIDF

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Jennifer Hanin

Last week I had the honor of attending the FIDF (Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces) gala in San Francisco. My invite was completely unplanned yet still eye-opening. I happened to casually meet an FIDF officer’s wife who was displaying her handcrafted jewelry at a Greek festival, and after chatting with her for sometime her husband invited my spouse and I to be their guests at their $10,000 table. So we there you have it.

One word capped the evening best: Heartstrings. I was so moved by the evening that I needed a week of respite to digest the effect the powerful evening had on me. In fact, looking back the evening holds even more importance after news broke of the recent ISIS (ISIL) beheading of American Peter Kassig. Once again, proving how important our Middle East allies are and how we must treat them with the upmost respect.

Note to Obama: LIKE Israel, Respect Netanyahu

More beheadings brings home a renewed awareness of how critical our ties with Israel and Egypt are to the US. For starters, Israel is known as the “Little Satan” and of course the USA is considered the “Big Satan.” Egypt after all is the most open of the Middle East countries. It’s known for its great philosophers and for leading the pack. It was and still is the only Middle East country that signed a peace treaty with Israel. It holds an important key to the future of the Middle East. For those who don’t follow Middle East politics closely, Egypt is the game changer. Egypt must flourish with its great scholars and  liberalism to lead the rest of its neighbors. And just in case it went unnoticed, ISIS is doing its best to be the game changer. The well-funded, well-organized group of 8 million strong (supported by 40 million last year) is baiting the USA to send even more boots to fight them then the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This call marks a new phase in war where our mad-masked enemy is not only unafraid of us, they taunting us into ground bloody assaults. Their call signals a type of bravado that we have yet to witness by any other terrorist group. I guess they think the head-rolling hobby they have going on is all that. Guess again.

Hearting Israel Stateside

Back to the gala. I’m one of those unique pro-Israel advocates who has never stepped foot in the Jewish nation-state let alone the Middle East. Closest I’ve come to Israel is Tunisia. Yet to my credit I’m likely one of the best layman’s experts on the Jewish nation-state you’ll ever meet. How so? Let me explain.

I not only converted to Judaism in 2008, launched a blog on Israel and world politics in 2009 on my jenniferhanin.com, co-founded Act For Israel, coauthored Becoming Jewish: the Challenges, Rewards and Paths to Conversion (Rowman and Littlefield, 2011) with then senior rabbi of Kehlliat Israel aka ‘rabbi to the stars’, Steven Carr Reuben, PhD, I also and coordinated a media fellowship to Israel with the Israeli MFA in 2012. Unfortunately, months later I had to pass on the fellowship as the second edition of my first book was due the same week.

Other ties to Israel? I communicate with my cousins via marriage on Facebook, and I can always count on their smiles to put a permagrin on my face. And I’m not talking about zealots who are complaining about incoming missiles but about incredible people living extraordinary lives.

So what thoughts did walk away with from the FIDF gala? Too many to report here yet suffice to say it was a uplifting evening that delivered warm fuzzies to anyone in attendance. Good friend Israeli Consul General of the Pacific Northwest Dr. Andy David was the keynote. Radio host, political lecturer and coauthor John F. Rothman MC’d the gala. Most touching? The FIDF dedicated the evening to lone soldiers who leave their countries with great pride to enlist in the IDF.

This tribute came to an obvious pinnacle when an attractive, young female soldier shared her testimonial and poured her heart and soul to dressed up strangers occupying a myriad of tables. She lost her soulmate in combat when she least expected it. Her American boyfriend was none other than Nissim Sean Carmeli who hailed from South Padre Island, Texas.

About twenty minutes later it was hard to find a dry eye in the soldout sea of tables as she graciously exited her tear-stained microphone. Why? Terrorists unceremoniously ambushed both Carmel and fellow lone soldier Max Steinberg who hailed from San Fernando, California while patrolling Gaza.

Surprisingly, Carmel’s Israeli funeral drew 20,000 many of which most were complete strangers. Likewise, Steinberg’s Israeli funeral drew 30,000 including US Secretary of State and failed Middle East diplomat John Kerry. Carmel (like Steinberg and other lone soldiers) didn’t receive a draft. Nor was he paid to pay the ultimate price for another country. He certainly was coerced into winning the affection of the brave Middle Easterner who shared her fleeting moments with her beloved before so many. Carmeli like Steinberg and other lone soldiers make a monumental sacrifice, and a colossal impression on locals who understand what it means to sacrifice it all.

Obama: ‘Our bond with Israel is Unshakable”

So president Obama made good on a cornerstone of his promise to Israel. He was part of funding the air defense system, the Iron Dome. I’ll give him that. It’s a godsend and a rockstar yet with all its hype its still far from boss as it boast an impressive but imperfect accuracy of about 85 percent. And despite the efforts to find and confiscate every short and long-range Iranian missile, Israelis are a lot of things but short of being psychic.

So what can we do to assure Obama stops embarrassing our ally and starts putting ‘leaders’ like Syria’s Assad, Turkey’s Erdogan, and Iran’s ayatollah on the hot seat? Plenty. Criticize Obama. Take it online. Keep the pressure on him. But don’t stop there. Go to bat for Israelis. Support the FIDF or any one of the laundry list of Jewish organizations out there. Need a list? Follow America’s most influential Jew who I’m proud to call my friend William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington office of the Jewish Federation of North America (JFNA) via @daroff on Twitter or Capital Hill friend Eli Gold, Vice President of the London Center for Public Policy, and you’ll soon learn the network.

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Menendez ‘Not Optimistic’ Iran Negotiations Shaping Up to ‘Anywhere Near’ Good Deal

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee told MSNBC this morning that he’s “not optimistic” that the P5+1 is near any sort of deal with Iran that he could support.

Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-N.J.) take on a final nuclear agreement with Iran is critical because he and sanctions legislation co-author Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) have promised to “act decisively” with a bipartisan majority in Congress should the administration forge an agreement that doesn’t kill Iran’s nuclear program.

“I don’t know that, as the negotiations sit right now, that they are anywhere near the type of deal that I certainly could support,” Menendez said.

“Iran with a nuclear — as a nuclear threshold state with the power to have nuclear energy for ultimately conversion into nuclear weapons, which the world is convinced that they were on a path to doing, is a threat to the national interest and security of the United States. It’s a threat to a whole host of our allies in the region,” he said.

The senator added that countries throughout the region have told him they’d have to beef up their nuclear programs in response to Iran’s development. “And of course, our ally, the state of Israel, I believe it would be an existential threat to them.”

“So the reality is, is that we cannot in our own national interest and security permit Iran to do this. And I am concerned that every benchmark that we originally stated in our negotiating posture has been moved closer and closer to the Iranians. So of course I’ll judge a deal when a deal is had, but I’m not optimistic that a deal will be had by the 24th.”

Secretary of State John Kerry is in London today to kick off “a very critical week, obviously, in Iran negotiations,” he told reporters.

“We hope we can get there, but we can’t make any predictions, nor will we. It’s imperative, obviously, that Iran work with us in all possible effort to prove to the world the program is peaceful, and we will reconvene in Vienna at the appropriate time later in the week,” Kerry said. “Our people are on the ground, they will begin work today, and we’ll see where we are.”

Last week, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) blocked an effort to force a vote on a bill requiring congressional approval on any nuclear deal, arguing that legislative action would send a “chilling message” to Iran and negotiators.

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Obama: ‘No Justification’ for Synagogue Ax Attack That Killed Three Americans

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama condemned the Palestinian terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue today that left four dead, saying in a statement that “there is and can be no justification for such attacks against innocent civilians.”

Three of the victims — Aryeh Kupinsky, Cary William Levine, and Mosheh Twersky — were U.S. citizens with dual Israeli citizenship.

“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and families of all those who were killed and injured in this horrific attack and in other recent violence,” Obama said. “At this sensitive moment in Jerusalem, it is all the more important for Israeli and Palestinian leaders and ordinary citizens to work cooperatively together to lower tensions, reject violence, and seek a path forward towards peace.”

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he told Secretary of State John Kerry “this horrendous terror attack in a house of worship is the direct result of President Abbas’s campaign of incitement.”

The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement saying, ”The presidency condemns the attack on Jewish worshippers in their place of prayer and condemns the killing of civilians no matter who is doing it.”

Kerry, meeting in London with his British counterpart, told reporters he was delayed by his call with Netanyahu.

“To have this kind of act, which is a pure result of incitement of calls for days of rage, of just an irresponsibility, is unacceptable,” Kerry said. “So the Palestinian leadership must condemn this and they must begin to take serious steps to restrain any kind of incitement that comes from their language, from other people’s language, and exhibit the kind of leadership that is necessary to put this region on a different path.”

“Our hearts go out to all Israelis for the atrocity of this event and for all the reminders of history that come with it. This is — simply has no place in human behavior, and we need to hear from leaders who are going to lead their people to a different place.”

Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said two terrorists armed with knives and axes attacked worshippers at a synagogue in the Har nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. Police responded to the scene and shot both.

One police officer was in critical condition from a shootout with the terrorists, though, Rosenfeld said.

He said police units were providing security for this morning’s funeral for the four rabbis murdered in the attack. “Thousands of people attending,” Rosenfeld tweeted.

Seven were injured in the attack, he said.

Netanyahu held a security consultation with Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and Jerusalem officials today, his office said.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered the demolition of the homes of the terrorists who perpetrated the recent attacks and directed that enforcement against those who incite toward terrorist attacks be significantly increased.”

In a tweet, the prime minister promised to respond “with a heavy hand to the brutal murder of Jews who came to pray and were met by reprehensible murderers.”

Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev told CNN that Abbas “must decide which side of the divide he’s on.”

“On one side you’ve got ISIS, Hamas, al Qaeda, people responsible for the most brutal attacks, the most heinous atrocities against innocent civilians. On the other side you’ve got Israel and Egypt and Jordan and other moderate countries,” Regev said.

“When you have an atrocity like this, you can unfortunately, give a motivation to other like-minded people. So we’ve got to make sure there are no copycat attacks,” he said of the need to beef up security in the aftermath. “We also, to be frank, want to make sure that there’s no hothead on the Israeli side who decides he wants to take the law into his own hands and conduct a vigilante counterattack.”

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said the ”massacre in a house of worship while innocent people prayed is absolutely horrifying and unconscionable.”

“My thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed and injured,” Gillibrand said. “Those responsible for these heinous and cold-blooded murders must be held accountable.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he was “deeply saddened and alarmed” by the attacks and vowed to stand with the Jewish state.

“These men of faith were cruelly murdered as they were worshiping in their synagogue in Har Nof,” Paul said. “I vow to stand with Israel and I will continue to do all I can to protect Americans at home and abroad. This is a horrific act of violence that should be universally condemned. We must demand that Palestinian leaders stop the incitement, which they have committed in word and in deed. My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Israel.”

“The senseless targeting of innocent civilians has to be stopped; it is unacceptable under any circumstances,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Ma.), adding Israelis have “endured far too many of these brutal assaults.”

 

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White House Hits Back Hard At ISIS Kidnappers With…A Policy Review

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

A fistful of meh.

President Barack Obama has ordered a comprehensive review of U.S. policy governing efforts to free Americans being held by militant groups overseas, the White House said on Monday.

In recent months, Islamic State militants have beheaded three Americans, including Peter Kassig, an aid worker and former U.S. Army Ranger, whose death was announced in a video released by the group on Sunday.

“The administration’s goal has always been to use every appropriate resource within the bounds of the law to assist families to bring their loved ones home,” White House National Security Council spokesman Alistair Baskey said in a statement.

“In light of the increasing number of U.S. citizens taken hostage by terrorist groups overseas and the extraordinary nature of recent hostage cases,” added Baskey, “this summer President Obama directed relevant departments and agencies, including the Departments of Defense and State, the FBI, and the Intelligence Community, to conduct a comprehensive review of how the U.S. government addresses these matters.”

This feels like a small band-aid on a gaping exit wound but, hey, at least they are now giving the appearance of being on top of things (someone must have gotten a current newspaper to the president).

Most, if not all, of the vague steps outlined in this article (“examining family engagement, intelligence collection, and diplomatic engagement policies”) seem like common sense things that the U.S. government should have been doing already so it’s difficult to see how anything markedly different will come out of this navel gaz…er…policy review.

That is unless they haven’t been doing any of the obvious things thus far.

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Israel’s Response to Terror: Relax Gun Laws

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Israel suffered yet another murderous terror attack today. The government has responded by electing to relax gun control laws.

Let that soak in for a minute.

America suffers a horrific school shooting and the gun control lobby is out in full force before the bodies are cold, screaming about stricter gun control laws. Israel suffers a bloody synagogue terror attack and

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch pledged to ease controls on carrying weapons for self-defense after a gruesome terrorist attack at a Jerusalem synagogue that left four dead Tuesday.

It was not clear exactly what new measures would be put in place, but it was reported that the move would apply to anyone licensed to carry a gun, such as private security guards and off-duty army officers.

Aharonovitch added that “we have instructed synagogues to place security guards at their entrances.”

Israel’s gun laws are strict and the Israeli attitude towards carrying firearms differs greatly from the almost comedic depictions of gun ownership in America. A 2012 article published after the Sandy Hook massacre detailed:

“There is an essential difference between the two. In America the right to bear arms is written in the law, here it’s the opposite… only those who have a license can bear arms and not everyone can get a license.”

Amit said gun licenses are only given out to those who have a reason because they work in security or law enforcement, or those who live in settlements “where the state has an interest in them being armed.”

He added that former IDF officers above a certain rank can get a license.

Anyone who fits the requirements, is over age 21 and an Israeli resident for more than three years, must go through a mental and physical health exam, Amit said, then pass shooting exams and courses at a licensed gun range, as well as background checks by the Public Security Ministry.

Once they order their firearm from a gun store, they are allowed to take it home with a one-time supply of 50 bullets, which Amit said they cannot renew.

The gun owner must retake his license exam and testing at the gun range every three years. As of January, Amit said, a new law will go into effect requiring gun owners to prove that they have a safe at home to keep their weapon in.

The relaxed restrictions may relate to regulations imposed after a 2013 shooting in Be’er Sheva:

One day after a Be’er Sheva man shot dead four people in a local bank before turning his gun on himself, the Public Security Ministry on Tuesday announced new rules to limit the number of guns in circulation. School security guards will have to turn in their weapons, which guarding firms will reissue at the start of the new school year. Licensed gun owners will have to store their weapon in a safe at home. Security companies must obtain special exemptions from being required to store a weapon when its bearer is off duty, only one gun license will be issued to any single individual and anyone applying to renew a gun license must show why they need a weapon.

What “relaxed” means is yet to be seen. But for Americans weary of gun control arguments that continue to be completely irrelevant to the situations at hand, Israel’s response to gun ownership in the face of terror is refreshing and worthy of further examination by our own government and pro-gun lobby.

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Kerry: ISIS Looking for ‘Pliable,’ Non-Devout Recruits Who are ‘Dummies’ About Tenets of Islam

Monday, November 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Declaring that ISIS “cannot live on hate alone,” Secretary of State John Kerry declared today that stopping the terror group includes choking off the fertile recruitment grounds of “people who are gullible enough to believe that terrorists enjoy a glamorous lifestyle and pliable enough to do whatever they are told.”

“Last year, two young men left Great Britain to join ISIL. Among the books that they ordered before departing was Islam for Dummies and The Koran for Dummies,” Kerry said in keynote remarks today at the Transformational Trends Strategic Forum. “So, let’s be honest: Those recruiting for ISIL aren’t looking for people who are devout and knowledgeable about the tenets of Islam.”

“ISIL insists that its acts of murder, torture, slavery, rape and desecration are in response to the commands of God, a claim that is, to use an old Boston expression, garbage,” he said. “Much depends on the ability of respected figures from every branch of Islam to help potential recruits understand that ISIL is against everything that faith teaches and in favor of everything that it abhors.”

Kerry stressed at the beginning of his talk, though, that “every part of the globe merits our attention.”

“And I’m not exaggerating. I will assume chairmanship of the Arctic Council next April and we’re already planning a two-year stint of the priorities for the Arctic and that includes, I might add, priorities that extend to the Antarctic,” he said.

He called the Middle East and North Africa “the region that I know a lot of Americans wish was out of the headlines.”

“You all remember that great moment in A Few Good Men when Jack Nicholson’s Colonel Jessup, besieged by tough questions, snaps, ‘You can’t handle the truth.’ Well, it might be heresy in today’s Washington of simple story lines and hyperbolic headlines, but I think the American people do want the truth. I think they demand it and I think they deserve it,” Kerry said.

“So, when it comes to the Middle East, this is my view of reality. A truth, if you want. We have to be deeply engaged — deeply engaged in this region because it is directly in the interest of our national security and our economy, and it is also in keeping with who we are.”

Kerry lamented that the Obama administration “has been faulted for not having the perfect answer to every question related to the coalition’s campaign” against ISIS.

“Fair enough. But as a student of history, I cannot recall the United States entering into any major confrontation with advanced knowledge of all the possibilities,” he said.

“ISIL’s leaders assumed that the world would be too intimidated to oppose them. Well, let us be clear — we are not intimidated. You are not intimidated. Our friends and partners are not intimidated. ISIL is very, very wrong.”

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Obama Says He’ll Send Ground Troops to Fight ISIS, But Only if They Get a Nuclear Weapon

Monday, November 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Any situation short of the Islamic State obtaining nuclear weapons, and the United States knowing about that, appears to mean that President Obama will not order American ground troops into battle to destroy the terrorist group.

Over the weekend, ISIS beheaded a third American, former Army Ranger turned aid worker Peter Kassig. But a day before that news broke, President Obama outlined an extreme scenario under which he would order troops to fight ISIS on the ground in Iraq and Syria. The president made his remarks at the G20 Summit in Australia Saturday.

Obama says that he would send ground troops into the fight, if ISIS gets its hands on a nuclear weapon.

Obama said, “There are always circumstances, in which the United States might need to deploy US ground troops. If we discovered that ISIL had gotten possession of a nuclear weapon, and we had to run an operation to get it out of their hands, then yes, you can anticipate that not only would Chairman Dempsey recommend me sending U.S. ground troops to get that weapon out of their hands, but I would order it.”

Obama chuckled as he spoke about ISIS obtaining nuclear weapons.

ISIS has beheaded three Americans and two Englishmen. It has murdered thousands of Iraqi and Syrian civilians and military. ISIS has sold women into sex slavery and has destroyed historical monuments and sites. ISIS has also threatened to attack Americans in the United States itself.

h/t NoMoreCocktails

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Obama’s Syria Plan: Calibrated and Reassessed? Try ‘Winging It.’

Friday, November 14th, 2014 - by Jennifer Hanin

So now we’re supposed to believe that president Obama just realized Syria’s president Bashar al Assad must be removed to take out ISIS (or in his words ISIL) as CNN reports and he’s calibrating and reassessing his strategy on Syria? One word:  idol. I can already hear proverbial headshakes and eyerolls occurring in unison around the Leviant and the rest of the world. Did someone just inform our commander in chief that Syria has been embroiled in first a civil uprising, which escalated to a civil war over nearly four years ago? According to the United Nations, Syria’s body count ranges roughly in the neighborhood of 191,000.

Newsweek to Uncover ISIS Money Trail

Does Obama subscribe to Newsweek? Maybe he should. Newsweek singlehandedly dedicated its November 14, 2014 cover to the terror juggernaut’s deep pockets. My analysis: ISIS is a more result of ‘watching and waiting and supplying arms to Gulf states funding terrorism’ who are bent on power, ethnic cleansing and challenging our Western ideology than anything else. ISIS didn’t just come onto the scene yesterday. Newsweek details the organization’s deep pockets that operate outside legitimate banking channels on page 26 – 41.

Fact remains, ISIS has successfully overtaken territory that equals the size of Austria. A small, broke band of bandits couldn’t pull this off.

Yet you know what they say about opinions and bungholes. Everyone has one. But what about Obama’s well-laid plan on Syria? Some would say this is yet another mirage, smokescreen or fictional tale spinning out of the White House at breakneck speed to prove Obama isn’t asleep behind the wheel.

Yet is he?

Many would agree Obama kicked the can on Syria for years. His Administration operates out of vacuum of “do nothing and see if it goes away” mentality. I don’t want to point fingers or claim war is the only solution, as we know it’s not. Diplomacy comes into play, really. But sticking one’s proverbial head in the sand to play the domestic race card instead of attending to national security concerns of securing our borders and helping the citizens of Syria when they are under genocide much the way the Jews of Europe were is about the same as the Pope acting like Hitler and Mussolini were two misunderstood protagonists. Neither is further from the truth.

Deep Pocket Parties: Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia

So exactly who is funding ISIS, ISIL or whatever you want to call this terrorist organization? Remember that inconsequential 11 billion arms deal our Administration signed recently with terrorist funding Qatar? Or how about the $60 billion arms deal in 2013 with Saudi Arabia? Or how about that paltry $5 billion arms deal with Kuwait who wanted 60 advanced Patriot Capability missiles with parts, equipment and training? Or how about the announcement of the  $123 billion arms deal to the Gulf States in 2010. Well, duh. Sound like we’re arming and greasing the enemy? Just a tad.

So the bright minds at Newsweek took on the daunting task of interviewing leaders from government officials in Iraq, Kurdistan, Europe, Syria, and the USA to find out how ISIS can survive, conquer and pay their bills when under aerial and land assault. Oddly enough, ISIS has mushroomed to support 8 million. It has received some $40 million or more in the last two years alone from oil rich countries that include private donors like Persian Gulf royalty, business consortiums and wealthy individuals or families. Newsweek credits criticism from former secretary of state and now 2016 POTUS contender Hillary Clinton and the international community as the reason Saudi Arabia passed 2013 legislation criminalizing anyone funding terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and ISIS.

Yet other area actors didn’t budge. While Saudi Arabia declared ISIS their number one enemy, Gulf states like Qatar and Kuwait remained mum. So if counterterrorist funding is connected heavily to Qatar and Kuwait, why is the Obama Administration agreeing to arms deals with these out-of-control actors? Likely, because there is no plan minus the uh-oh-reactionary-fly-by-the-seat plan like Benghazi was just an outraged Islamic mob reaction to a video. Remember that whopper?

Funding Terrorists Under the Guise of Humanitarian Aid

Nothing like starving children and widows to get people to open their pocketbooks. But haven’t we learned anything from the Holy Land Foundation? One of the best tips in the Newsweek article is the part on mobile apps like What’s App and Kik. A professional colleague and former president of the Middle East at one of my former employer’s once recommended that I use What’s App. What’s App and Kik are used often used by terrorists to coordinate geographical drop-off points for payments. These apps use a GPS mapping tool that makes it simple for terrorists to communicate locations.

My advice? Read the Newsweek article in its entirety as it’s much too lengthy to detail its contents fairly here. Yet suffice to say it took a Brookings analysis to point out that:

“in asymmetric conflict, if insurgents survive 12 months of activity, the likelihood of opposition victory increases significantly, but should the conflict perpetuate for at least three years, the chance of insurgent victory begins to diminish and political agreements become more likely.”

Obama’s evolving Syria plan? Well, all I can say is race baiting and campaigning for 2016 is useless and hindsight sucks. Syria’s bloodbath started in 2011 and in a month’s time we are entering 2015.

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Kerry Hopes Iran Acts Out of ‘Mutual Respect’ and ‘Interests We All Have’ for Nuke-Free World

Friday, November 14th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Meeting in Jordan this week, Secretary of State John Kerry said he and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talked “one-on-one for a little while” about Iran nuclear negotiations ahead of a Nov. 24 deadline for a deal.

“And he expressed his concerns, of course, and I made it clear to him that the standard that we have applied throughout this negotiation still applies, and that is that there are four pathways to a nuclear weapon and we need to make certain that each pathway — the Fordow facility, the Arak nuclear — the Arak heavy water plutonium reactor facility, the Natanz enrichment facility, and covert capacities — are all closed off so that not — not as a matter of bias or prejudice, but because that’s the only way the world can know for certain that a program is indeed a peaceful program,” Kerry told reporters in Amman yesterday. “And our responsibility is to make certain that there is a sufficient breakout time in the event that there was some change in policy or something happened.”

“So those guarantees are in place and we will keep all of our friends and allies informed of what we are doing in the days ahead. Our hopes remain still to try to achieve an agreement because it’s better for the world.”

Kerry said he hopes Iran cooperates in negotiations “not as a matter of coercion but out of mutual respect and out of the interests that we all have for living in a world that is free of nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu told the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly this week it should be “obvious that Iran is not prepared to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in return” for sanctions relief.

“Unfortunately, instead of holding firm and demanding that Iran dismantle its program, the international community is reportedly, and I hope these reports do not prove to be true, but the international community is reportedly willing to leave Iran’s nuclear program largely intact. They hope to rely on intelligence and inspectors to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said.

“We must recognize the limitations of our own intelligence gathering capabilities. Remember – for years, both Israel’s intelligence and US intelligence failed to discover Iran’s secret enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom. And given that record, there is no reason to believe that our intelligence facilities will be perfect in the future,” he added.

“As for inspectors, they weren’t able to stop North Korea from getting the bomb. And if the ten year run-around that Iran has given the International Atomic Energy Agency is any indication, inspectors won’t stop Iran from getting the bomb either.”

Netanyahu stressed that Iran should never be seen as a partner in the Middle East as long as the regime is in place.

“The Islamic State of Iran is not a partner of America,” he said. “It’s an enemy of America.”

“The greatest threat facing our world is to have the forces of militant Islam get the bomb.”

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Obama National Security Adviser Cites Bogus Iranian Anti-Nuke Weapons Fatwa

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 - by Patrick Poole

With just days before the November 24th deadline to conclude negotiations to continue the freeze on Iran’s nuclear program, a senior Obama administration official, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, invoked a fake fatwa by Iran’s top leader Ayatollah Khamenei while speaking to the media yesterday.

CBS reporter Major Garrett tweeted earlier this morning:

Rhodes nuke fatwa

Rhodes is not the first to fall for the bogus Iranian fatwa, as President Obama has cited it on at least two different occasions, including his address to the UN General Assembly in 2013.

But at that time, a number of sources pointed out that there’s no proof that such a fatwa exists. As CNS News reported:

As the international community has tracked Iran’s steady progress in developing technologies used to manufacture nuclear weapons, some critics have called into question the religious or ideological significance of such a ruling – or whether it even exists. Iranian officials in referring to it have given at least three different years of issue – 2004, 2005 and 2012.

“While Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s nuclear fatwa has been the stuff of diplomatic gossip for years, no one citing it has ever actually seen it,” commented American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin. “Khamenei lists all of his fatwas on his webpage, but the nuclear fatwa isn’t among them.”

“Such a fatwa was never issued by Supreme Leader Khamenei and does not exist,” the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) said on Sunday. “Neither the Iranian regime nor anybody else can present it.”

MEMRI has issued multiple reports about the fake fatwa, even noting that EU officials have been skeptical of its existence:

To date, the Europeans refuse to accept it. According to unofficial sources, the legal advisors of the EU3 made an official request to the Iranian regime in 2005 to provide a copy of the “fatwa,” but in vain.

MEMRI president Yigal Carmon told Fox News observed that Ayatollah Khamenei has been asked about it:

In July, the Iranian website Tasnimnews, which is linked to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, published an extensive list of 493 fatwas from Khamenei dating back to 2004. None forbade the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Carmon noted that Khamenei in 2012 was asked directly about the morality of pursuing nuclear weapons, and his answer was telling.

The question asked to Khamenei was, in light of a Koran teaching that orders Muslims to “prepare against [non-Muslims] whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah,” is it also “forbidden to obtain nuclear weapons, as per your ruling that their use is prohibited?”

Khamenei’s answer, according to MEMRI, was “your letter has no jurisprudential aspect. When it has a jurisprudent position, then it will be possible to answer it.”

Carmon said if a fatwa against the pursuit of nuclear weapons existed, Khamenei would have cited it.

“Wouldn’t you think he would say, ‘I given my fatwa, and it is this?’” Carmon said.

Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton has chided Obama for citing the fake fatwa:

In declaring that diplomacy could work, Obama referred to a “fatwa” by Iran’s supreme leader against nuclear weapons, but Bolton pointed out that no one in the West has ever seen this document.

“The President of the United States showed just how gullible and naive and inexperienced he is by saying ‘well, the Iranians say they don’t want nuclear weapons.’ Well, what could go wrong there?” Bolton asked.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also fell for the fake fatwa, according to CNS News:

In April 2012, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a visit to Tehran raised the fatwa issue with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Clinton told reporters in Istanbul that she was “very interested” to hear that the Turks had been told “that the supreme leader viewed weapons of mass destruction as religiously prohibited, against Islam.”

“If the Iranians are truly committed to that statement of belief as conveyed to the prime minister and the foreign minister, then they should be open to reassuring the international community that it’s not an abstract belief but it is a government policy,” Clinton added.

Two days later Clinton again mentioned the fatwa, saying she had discussed it with “a number of experts and religious scholars.”

Tariq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of the London-based, Saudi-owned daily Asharq Al-Awsat, in a column at the time said trusting Tehran on the basis of a religious ruling was “truly absurd.”

But not absurd enough for this administration, apparently.

UPDATE: A commenter on Twitter noted that Harvard’s Belfer Center has published a paper chronicling fatwas and statements by Islamic authorities for and against nuclear weapons. But the only apparent (from my quick read of the paper) reference to Ayatollah Khamenei was a reported 2003 statement (Correction: p. 61 also references statements made by Khomeini reported in this 2010 news article, but again, the actual fatwa is referred to but not produced). A statement or a news report, or even a claim that a fatwa exists, which as the MEMRI articles observe has been made several times by Iranian officials, is not an actual fatwa, which is specifically what Rhodes invoked according to Garrett.

As MEMRI has documented, Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwas are publicly cataloged on the Supreme Leader’s website, but no anti-nuclear weapons fatwa can be found. Or perhaps the fatwa is in occultation with the Shia’s Hidden Imam?

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Menendez, Kirk Vow to ‘Act Decisively’ If White House Forges Bad Deal with Iran

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his GOP co-sponsor of legislation to keep the heat on Iran vowed to “act decisively” against any administration deal that doesn’t kill the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), whose legislation includes strict guidance for the compliance necessary to ease sanctions, said in a joint statement today “a good deal will dismantle, not just stall, Iran’s illicit nuclear program and prevent Iran from ever becoming a threshold nuclear weapons state.”

Secretary of State John Kerry recently wrapped up the latest round of negotiations in Oman as the administration barrels toward a Nov. 24 deadline for a deal.

“This will require stringent limits on nuclear-related research, development and procurement, coming clean on all possible military dimensions (PMD) issues and a robust inspection and verification regime for decades to prevent Iran from breaking-out or covertly sneaking-out,” Menendez and Kirk said.

“Gradual sanctions relaxation would only occur if Iran strictly complied with all parts of the agreement. If a potential deal does not achieve these goals, we will work with our colleagues in Congress to act decisively, as we have in the past.”

They have the veto-proof votes, in this Congress or the next.

The White House feared this to the extent that a year ago Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who had vowed to bring a bill to the floor that would trigger additional sanctions on Iran if talks fell through, withheld the legislation at the administration’s request. The White House maintained that any action from Congress would spook Iran and derail talks.

Menendez received the biggest standing ovation at the March AIPAC conference in Washington when he declared, “When it comes to Iran, I have stood with you and have stood against so many in my own party.”

But he’s not the only powerful Senate Dem who’s unabashedly pro-Israel and highly skeptical of an Iran deal. That roster is led by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

That month after the AIPAC conference, 83 senators banded together to demand that President Obama meet core principles, including clear consequences, in any final nuclear agreement with Iran.

“We believe that Congress has a continuing role to play to improve the prospects for success in the talks with Iran,” the senators wrote. “As these negotiations proceed, we will outline our views about the essential goals of a final agreement with Iran, continue oversight of the interim agreement and the existing sanctions regime, and signal the consequences that will follow if Iran rejects an agreement that brings to an end its nuclear weapons ambitions.”

Members have complained over the past several months that they’re not being given appropriate involvement in the negotiations process.

And at his press conference last Wednesday, Obama danced around a question on implementing an agreement with Iran without coming to Congress.

“Whether we can actually get a deal done, we’re going to have to find out over the next three to four weeks. We have presented to them a framework that would allow them to meet their peaceful energy needs,” he said.

Obama argued he could repeal “a series of different sanctions” unilaterally, including ones imposed unilaterally.

“But I don’t want to put the cart before the horse. What I want to do is see if in fact, we have a deal,” the president said. “If we do have a deal that I have confidence will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and that we can convince the world and the public will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, then, you know, it’ll be time to engage in Congress.”

Key Democratic critics of the administration’s Iran policy in the House include Foreign Affairs Committee members Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Brad Sherman (D-Calif.).

Engel and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) sent a letter to Obama in July, signed by 344 members of the House, insisting that Congress play a role at the outset of any comprehensive agreement.

“I disagree with the Administration’s reported assertion that it does not need to come to Congress at this point during negotiations with Iran,” Engel said in October. “We don’t know if the negotiators will be able to reach a good deal.  In the meantime, we must ensure that the United States is in the best position to use our leverage at every point in the negotiation process, and the current sanctions regime represents our most powerful leverage against Iran.”

Over the weekend, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted about “how can Israel be eliminated.” On Monday, he tweeted why he supports the nuclear talks, including “repelling the evil of the Great Satan.”

“I’ve instructed my office to send a letter to the foreign ministers of the P5+1 countries,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau said in a Monday night statement. “In that letter I bring, verbatim, the words of Iran’s ruler Ayatollah Khamenei. The leader of this country that is depicted by some as moderate, the Islamic State of Iran, has said in the last 48 hours: one, that he calls for the annihilation of Israel – his words, not mine; two, he gives nine ways and reasons of how and why Israel should be annihilated – his words, not mine.”

“He’s publically calling for the annihilation of Israel as he is negotiating a nuclear deal with the P5+1 countries,” the prime minister continued. “There is no moderation in Iran. It is unrepentant, unreformed, it calls for Israel’s eradication, it promotes international terrorism, and as the IAEA report just said, it continues to deceive the international community about its nuclear weapons program.”

“This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power. And I call on the P5+1 countries – don’t rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.”

State Department press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN last night “there’s no question that those tweets link to an account associated with the supreme leader are reprehensible, they’re disgusting, and certainly we condemn that.”

“But let’s remember what’s at stake here. And that’s preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That’s in Israel’s interest. I believe the prime minister referenced that. That’s in the United States’ interests, that’s in the global community’s interests,” Psaki said.

“What’s the alternative? If we are not going to continue to pursue a diplomatic path and try to achieve a comprehensive deal in the next 13 days?”

The Washington Free Beacon reported Tuesday on emails obtained from the Truman National Security Project, vowing to assemble a “crack team of writers” to push the administration narrative about a final nuclear deal.

“Our community absolutely must step up and not cede the public narrative to neocon hawks that would send our country to war just to screw the president,” Graham F. West, Truman’s writing and communications associate, wrote. “…The core message is the same: a deal is the only way to prevent an Iranian bomb and keep the U.S. out of another war.”

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Netanyahu Sends Letter to P5+1 Negotiators Warning of Ayatollah’s Threats

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to make the Jewish state’s voice heard as reports circulate that the P5+1 is close to a nuclear deal with Iran.

The deal would come as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei tweeted steps on “how can Israel be eliminated.”

“I’ve instructed my office to send a letter to the foreign ministers of the P5+1 countries,” Netanyhau said in a Monday night statement. “In that letter I bring, verbatim, the words of Iran’s ruler Ayatollah Khamenei. The leader of this country that is depicted by some as moderate, the Islamic State of Iran, has said in the last 48 hours: one, that he calls for the annihilation of Israel – his words, not mine; two, he gives nine ways and reasons of how and why Israel should be annihilated – his words, not mine.”

“He’s publically calling for the annihilation of Israel as he is negotiating a nuclear deal with the P5+1 countries,” the prime minister continued. “There is no moderation in Iran. It is unrepentant, unreformed, it calls for Israel’s eradication, it promotes international terrorism, and as the IAEA report just said, it continues to deceive the international community about its nuclear weapons program.”

“This terrorist regime in Iran must not be allowed to become a nuclear threshold power. And I call on the P5+1 countries – don’t rush into a deal that would let Iran rush to the bomb.”

State Department press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN last night “there’s no question that those tweets link to an account associated with the supreme leader are reprehensible, they’re disgusting, and certainly we condemn that.”

“But let’s remember what’s at stake here. And that’s preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. That’s in Israel’s interest. I believe the prime minister referenced that. That’s in the United States’ interests, that’s in the global community’s interests,” Psaki said.

“What’s the alternative? If we are not going to continue to pursue a diplomatic path and try to achieve a comprehensive deal in the next 13 days?”

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Hizballah Claims that Israel Killed an Iranian Nuclear Scientist in Syria

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Age reports that Hizballah has admitted that an ambush outside Damascus, Syria on Sunday has left five nuclear scientists dead. The five men were killed by machine gun fire while riding in a van on the outskirts of Damascus. The attack may have been carried out by Syrian rebels on Israel’s behalf.

One of the dead was reportedly Iranian. The nationalities of the other four have not been revealed.

In years past, Syrian is known to have accepted nuclear expertise from Iran and North Korea.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the deaths of the five scientists. That group is based in London but has operatives all over Syria, according to The Age.

The Syrian government has confirmed the deaths, and that one was Iranian.

Terrorist group Hizballah said that the “five scientific experts were martyred by terrorists as part of the ongoing plots of the Zionist entity,” Israel.

Israel launched a surprise raid on a previously unknown Syrian nuclear facility in 2007, and destroyed it.

The report of the killing of five nuclear scientists in Syria, and Hizballah’s public angry reaction to it, raises all kinds of questions about Syria’s ongoing nuclear ambitions and the terrorist group’s connections to that. Israel fears that should Iran develop a nuclear weapon, it could hand that off to the terrorist group for a devastating attack on Israel’s people.

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State Dept. Tells Israel to ‘De-escalate Tensions’ After Bloody Day of Terrorist Stabbings

Monday, November 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The State Department called upon Israel and the Palestinian Authority to “de-escalate tensions” after two Israelis were killed in separate stabbings by terrorists Monday.

Almog Shiloni, 20, served in the Israel Air Force and was attacked in the afternoon near the Haganah train station in south Tel Aviv. He died of his wounds at the hospital.

Nur a-Din Hashiya, from the Askar refugee camp in Nablus, was apprehended in the attack, Haaretz reported, adding he had entered the country illegally.

“It just can’t be like this,” the victim’s twin brother told media. “There are soldiers and people getting hurt, being stabbed in the streets. You can’t go out in this country alone, you can’t go out into this country quietly. This is our state, we fought for it, and my twin brother fought for his life.”

Hours after Shiloni was attacked, another knife-wielding terrorist struck again at a bus stop in the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut.

Dalia Lemkus, 26, was stabbed in the neck and killed. Two men, including one driving by who stopped to fight the terrorist, were injured. A security guard shot the attacker, Maher Hamdi al-Hashalmoun from Hebron, who survived. The Times of Israel reported that al-Hashalmoun, affiliated with Islamic Jihad, spent time in Israeli prison.

Lemkus had survived a stabbing eight years ago.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting of his security council after the attacks.

State Department press secretary Jen Psaki called the brutal stabbings “unfortunately a couple of events.”

“So let me just speak to all of them. We strongly condemn the stabbings – the stabbing today in the West Bank and we deeply regret the loss of life. Our condolences go out to the victim’s family. It is absolutely critical that parties take every possible measure to protect civilians and de-escalate tensions,” Psaki said.

“We are also seeking additional information surrounding the incident of the Israeli Arab who was shot with – who was shot as well with a live bullet. We’re looking for information surrounding this incident. We’re in touch – close touch with the Ministry of Justice. And of course, we urge all parties to exercise restraint. Obviously, these events happened over the course of the last 12 to 24 hours, so I don’t have more details than what’s been out there at this point.”

The shooting early Saturday came as Khayr al-Din al-Hamdan reportedly approached police wielding a knife. Netanyahu has stood by the officers even as some are disputing the officers’ account of firing a warning shot first.

Psaki said when she talks about “restraint,” she’s “talking about the Israelis, the Palestinians – any who are involved in these tension-raising, rhetoric-raising incidents.”

“If you’re standing at a bus stop or something and someone runs a car into you or comes up and stabs you, I don’t know how – I mean, those people aren’t – don’t need to exercise restraint, do they?” a reporter asked.

“I think I’m referring to the fact that we know that there have been – there’s been rising tensions in the region that has led to some of these incidents. I think we all are aware of that,” Psaki replied.

“…Obviously, there have been a range of issues and events that have led to the rising tensions in the region that both sides need to do more to fix.”

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Rand Paul Declares that Obama’s War Against ISIS is ‘Illegal’

Monday, November 10th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Writing in the Daily Beast, Sen. Rand Paul lands on a new position on the war against ISIS.

It’s the right war, but being done by Obama in the wrong way, rendering it illegal.

The Constitution, Paul correctly writes, puts the power to declare war not with presidents but with Congress.

Congress has not actually declared war on anyone since World War II. Since then US forces have been engaged in conflicts from Korea to Vietnam to the Middle East to Central America and Europe, but not once has it actually declared war. The closest that we have gotten to a full declaration of war is probably the Authorization for the Use of Military Force against Saddam Hussein.

Obama has engaged US forces in Libya and now Iraq without bothering to take it to Congress, before or after the limits imposed by the War Powers Act. That, plus Paul’s contention that the US is not under attack by ISIS, is where Paul says the problem is.

In a war with transnational terrorists on the other side, though, when are we under attack and when are we not? It’s not as cut and dried as a group of terrorists crossing the porous border and wreaking havoc. They’re not going to roll across the border in an armored column and they’re not going to launch sorties of bombers over our cities. That’s not how it works. ISIS has beheaded two Americans and has shown that it can recruit other Americans to its cause using social media. It is building a base from which it says it intends to strike us.

Paul writes:

If the Constitution were not enough, the War Powers Act reiterates the legislature’s prerogative. The War Powers Act does not allow for any military action to take place that is not authorized by Congress or to repel imminent attack. Period. The only exception is military action to repel an imminent attack. In that case, the president has 60 days to report to Congress. Obviously, it’s an exception that doesn’t apply to any of our current wars.

This administration has allowed, as Professor Michael J. Glennon writes, “nothing less than a collapse of the equilibrium of power, the balance expected to result from ambition set against ambition, the resistance to encroachment that was supposed to keep the three branches of the federal government in a state of equilibrium and to protect the people from the government.”

It’s time for conservatives to say enough is enough. Obama’s commandeering of Congress’s powers—from making war, to remaking our health-care system—has to stop. There needs to be an across-the-board, consistent defense of the constitutional separation of powers. Nothing less will win the day. That should include this current battle in the Middle East. Taking military action against ISIS is justified. The president acting without Congress is not.

On this question, Sen. Paul is probably right. He gets there in a strange way though, decrying the unlimited geographical scope and timeline of fighting terrorism.

That’s not the choice of any American leader. 9-11, London, Madrid, Fort Hood, Boston, beheading Americans in what used to be Syrian territory…how many times do terrorists have to attack us on our own soil and our allies’ soil and elsewhere before the likes of Rand Paul figure out that the enemy isn’t bound by any of our norms, notions or ideas about anything? We hold ourselves to the Geneva Conventions regarding how we treat terror masterminds while they kidnap schoolgirls, behead reporters and sell Christian women into sex slavery — and tweet images of themselves flying their flag right outside the White House.

It would be nice to put some geographical and time limits on this war. The enemy won’t abide by any limits, though.

This is Paul’s third or fourth position on what to do about ISIS. He mused that there may be no solution (May) has had mixed feelings while taking a dovish posture (August) and in September allowed that he was coming around to a more hawkish stance. At that time, he quoted Reagan and wrote that he would have acted “more decisively and strongly against ISIS” than Obama has.

Which wouldn’t be all that difficult. Obama has trickled troops in while signaling ISIS that while they have to duck US air power they will never have to face the true might of the American military on the ground. Obama isn’t even drawing fake red lines. The president is slow-rolling America into fighting ISIS in a way that is hauntingly similar to the way US forces were slow-rolled into the war in Vietnam.

Paul’s own stances don’t really bear out the claim that he would have been more decisive than Obama. He just probably would not have been any less decisive.

That’s not much to put on the resume for someone who wants to be commander-in-chief.

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Prager University: Raymond Ibrahim on Muslim Persecution of Christians

Monday, November 10th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

In the newest Prager University course, I discuss Muslim persecution of Christians. From the Prager University website: “The most persecuted and victimized people in the world today are Christians in the Middle East. The perpetrators of the widespread destruction of that region’s Christian community? Islamists. Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim lays out the grim details.”

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Obama Coy on Khamenei Letter; Ayatollah Tweets About Eliminating Israel and ‘Evil of the Great Satan’

Monday, November 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama wouldn’t comment on whether he’s received a reply to the letter he wrote to Ayatollah Khamenei last month.

“I tend not to comment on any communications that I have with various leaders,” he told CBS in an interview broadcast Sunday. “I have got whole bunch of channels where we’re communicating to various leaders around the world.”

Khamenei republished on his website a op-ed on the letter published in Kayhan newspaper, an outlet close to the regime. “Iran does not trust America. Underneath their velvet gloves, they have hidden iron hands,” the op-ed quoted the ayatollah previously saying.

Over the weekend, Khamenei tweeted about “how can Israel be eliminated.” Today, he tweeted why he supports the nuclear talks, including “repelling the evil of the Great Satan.”

Obama acknowledged to CBS that on the nuclear talks “there’s still a big gap. We may not be able to get there.”

“We have now had significant negotiations. They have abided by freezing their program and, in fact, reducing their stockpile of nuclear-grade material — or weapons-grade nuclear material,” the president said.

“And the question now is, are we going to be able to close this final gap, so that they can reenter the international community, sanctions can be slowly reduced, and we have verifiable, lock-tight assurances that they can’t develop a nuclear weapon?”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the letter “tells you how delusional the president is about the world he’s supposed to be managing here.”

“To suggest a military alliance between us and Iran is insane. ISIL will take this as the greatest recruiting opportunity in the history of the organization,” Graham told Fox. “You’re talking about radical Sunnis who now cannot only fight the Great Satan, American, but the great heretic, the Iranian Shias. It is dumb at every level. Sunni Arabs would rebel with this alliance. Israel would not accept this. The people in Syria would see us joining with Iran, the group that’s helping Assad stay in power to kill them. It’s dumb at every level.”

“But the biggest mistake is yet to come and that is a bad deal with the Iranian government over their nuclear program. To suggest that the nuclear program should be part of another alliance is ridiculous. I fear more than anything else that President Obama is going to do a deal with Iran. He wants a deal way too badly over their nuclear program that’s going to wind up being just like North Korea. A small enrichment program monitored by the U.N. that one day leads to a weapon,” the senator continued.

“That’s why I’m going to insist to Senator McConnell and Senator Reed that any deal with Iran regarding their nuclear program come to the Senate so we can look at it and vote on it. If it’s a good deal, I vote yes. If it’s a bad deal, I will kill it. And the president doesn’t want the deal to come to the Senate. Well, we need to pass legislation making it come to the Senate.”

 

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Turkish Journalist: Western Feminism Excuses Islam’s Abuses

Monday, November 10th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Turkish journalist Uzay Bulut succinctly detailed the crisis situation faced by women across the Islamic world. In doing so, she leveled her gaze at Western progressives, particularly feminists, who have a penchant for sweeping Islam’s crimes against women under the rug of “multiculturalism,” to the continued detriment of their sisterhood abroad:

Statements that come up with “multicultural” excuses to provide cover for the practices of fundamentalist Islam, however, never have, and never will, help to liberate women who suffer under Islamic misogyny, gender apartheid and jihad.

To make a positive change in Muslim countries, we need to be able to speak openly and tell the (too-often criminalized) truth about what Islamic teachings and traditions actually contain. Yet in Muslim countries, it is impossible speak openly about what is in these Islamic teachings and traditions, without putting one’s life at risk.

There is a situation even more frightening. It now seems to be difficult to speak openly about fundamentalist Islam even in Western countries, in part thanks to the dangerous enchantment of Western progressives and feminists who romanticize Islamism.

Women in the Muslim world desperately need the voice of Western progressives and feminists. But when it comes to finding excuses to neutralize critical questions about Islamic violence, Western progressives seem endlessly creative.

Feminists in the Islamic world have a laundry list of Western progressive feminism’s “Excuses for Abuses” which include:

Criticizing Islam is racist and reveals “intolerance,” “bigotry” and “Islamophobia.”

“Injustices against women take place all around the world, not just against Muslims or in Muslim countries.”

“What you are seeing is not the real Islam; Islam has been hijacked.”

“It is not about Islam. Crimes were committed and are being committed in all places throughout history.”

Bulut’s responses to the last two “Excuses” are particularly interesting:

“Not all Muslims are the same. There are good and bad Muslims, just as there are good and bad people in all religions.”

First of all, thank you very much for this genius discovery. But how can it help reduce the Islamic violence around the world?

Of course it is true that there are many good Muslims, whose values do not follow Islamic teachings verbatim, but also include humanitarian values. They do not wage war on other religions or try to bring them under submission to Islam. In the eyes of jihadis or Islamists, however, who live by the harshest interpretation of most doctrinaire Islamic teachings, such a quality makes them “bad Muslims.”

“All religions are essentially the same.”

Well, not quite. Biblical values are far more benign than Islamic ones, and generally descriptive rather than proscriptive. Furthermore, the most violent of them were long ago abandoned.

No religion, for instance, other than Islam, has ever commanded that those who insult or leave it should be put to death. (See Surahs 6:93, 33:57, 33:61)

Bulut’s conclusion acts as a clarion call to Western feminists: You can defend Islam, or you can defend women, but you cannot defend both.

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State Department Spokeswoman Picks Another Fight with Israel

Friday, November 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

According to Haaretz, Gen. Martin Dempsey, U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made some helpful and conciliatory comments toward Israel. The nation’s top military officer lauded Israel for going to “extraordinary lengths” to avoid civilian casualties during the latest round of fighting with the Palestinians.

Dempsey’s comments come after unknown figures within the Obama administration blasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickensh*t” and a coward. Relations between the U.S. and its ally, already shaky, were made shakier by those comments, and by the administration’s refusal to investigate who made the comments and reprimand them.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked to react to Dempsey’s diplomatic comments during today’s press conference, by the AP’s Matt Lee. Psaki had the choice of agreeing with Gen. Dempsey, refusing to offer an opinion, or disagreeing with him — the latter, carrying the possibility of opening up another argument with Israel.

Psaki chose the latter.

Lee asked Psaki to comment on whether the Obama administration believes that the Israelis lived up to their own “high standards” on civilian casualties.

Psaki undiplomatically replied, “It remains the broad view of this administration that they could’ve done more. And they shouldv’e taken feasible precautions to prevent more civilian casualties.”

Such as?

Psaki’s comment here sets the United States up for criticism on the question of civilian casualties should we get more deeply involved on the ground fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. She has also singled out Israel for criticism that is ultimately unfair and impossible to satisfy. One can always “do more” to avoid civilian casualties, but the Israelis are fighting Hamas, which goes out of its way to increase civilian casualties and use them for propaganda.

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Are We About to Increase Troops in Iraq to Fight ISIS? (Update: Yes, Double)

Friday, November 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Yahoo News/Reuters is running this cryptic little number on the Friday after pivotal mid-term elections.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military has drawn up plans to significantly increase the number of American forces in Iraq, which now total around 1,400, as Washington seeks to bolster Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State, U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday.

It’s an anonymously sourced report, making it tough to evaluate. Did it come from the Joint Chiefs of Staff or a lower-level planner, SecDef Hagel or someone else? The source matters quite a bit.

It’s also missing an awful lot of detail, such as, how many troops are we talking about — a few hundred, tens of thousands, what? Did Obama order this plan, or is it an ordinary contingency plan of the type that the Pentagon draws up for every possibility, or is this more of an action plan that is in some stage of deployment? The story just doesn’t go into any of that.

Its timing raises the possibility that the Obama administration did not want to go public with any possibility of escalating the war against ISIS until after the election, lest he further alienate the hard left Democrat base.

Update: NBC gets some more detail. Post-election, the Obama administration is looking to double the number of American troops in Iraq, but not in actual ground combat roles. They will be “advisers” to the Iraqis and the Kurds.

We’ve seen this war before. It’s not the last couple of Iraq wars, in which the U.S. went in big to win quickly, and succeeded.

It’s the slippery slope war that we lost in Southeast Asia.

Update: The cryptic story has turned into an authorization to double forces in Iraq, and a request for $5.6 billion more to fund the operation. That’s less than Obama requested to fight Ebola. It’s quite fascinating that this news is hitting on the Friday following the election. It has clearly been in the works for a while.

On Fox a few minutes ago, Chris Wallace said that this slow-drip approach has “the scent of Vietnam.” That seems to be the prevailing reaction today.

My opinion on all this is that fighting ISIS on the ground is inevitable. They are recruiting about 1,000 new fighters a month, and despite the airstrikes they are still hauling in buckets of money every day. Some of our allies on the ground in Syria have already switched sides to join ISIS. The Kurds continue to fight with amazing capability and bravery, but they are not enough to defeat ISIS. At this point, they are holding ISIS in place, which is good, but they’re not rolling ISIS back. Likewise, the less capable Iraqi security forces.

We can choose to fight ISIS hard now, and win, or we can continue with the current approach, which allows ISIS to strengthen to the point that they actually become entrenched and we may not be in a position to take them on (not with Russia menacing Europe, which may require our attentions through NATO). Obama continues to pursue the latter approach, which he admits will not defeat ISIS. That’s what he is saying when he holds up Yemen and Somalia as successful counter-terrorism.

 

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Clinton State Department’s ‘Lady Taliban’ Under Active FBI Investigation

Thursday, November 6th, 2014 - by Patrick Poole

Stunning news related to a top Clinton State Department diplomat, former Assistant Secretary of State Robin Raphel, that the Washington Post is reporting tonight is subject to an active FBI counter-intelligence investigation:

A veteran State Department diplomat and longtime Pakistan expert is under federal investigation as part of a counterintelligence probe and has had her security clearances withdrawn, according to U.S. officials.

The FBI searched the Northwest Washington home of Robin L. Raphel last month, and her State Department office was also examined and sealed, officials said. Raphel, a fixture in Washington’s diplomatic and think-tank circles, was placed on administrative leave last month, and her contract with the State Department was allowed to expire this week.

Two U.S. officials described the investigation as a counterintelligence matter, which typically involves allegations of spying on behalf of foreign governments. The exact nature of the investigation involving Raphel remains unclear. She has not been charged.

She was the first official to hold the position of assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, appointed to that position by President Bill Clinton, and later served as US Ambassador to Tunisia and Senior Vice President of the National Defense University.

In August 2009, she was appointed as deputy for US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, where she was responsible for disbursing non-military aid to Pakistan.

This appointment was controversial because Raphel had been a registered agent for the Government of Pakistan just days before her new position was announced, and because of her close association with the Taliban during the Clinton Administration, earning Raphel the moniker, “Lady Taliban.”

According to one 2009 report:

Robin Raphel, 67, who has the dubious distinction of being a lobbyist for the former military regime of General Pervez Musharraf and who also has close ties with the Taliban as part of her lobbying for UNOCAL, will be the main person overlooking the $1.5 billion aid package to Pakistan, giving rise to concerns the U.S. taxpayers monies would go down the Pakistan drain.

Raphel is widow of former US Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel who had perished in the mysterious aircrash that killed Pakistan military dictator General Ziaul Haq and top brass of his military on August 17, 1988.

Raphel was appointed last month as deputy to Mr. Richard Holbrooke, the US. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan…

He said another reason to doubt Secretary Clinton’s assertion of accountability is in the naming of Robin Raphel as a deputy to U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakstan, Richard Holbrooke.

“She had been a Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs beginning in 1993 and on her watch, the madrassas bloomed. Robin Raphel is the person who, during the Clinton presidency, squired Taliban officials around Washington as the next best hope for Afghan leadership,” Dienstag recalled.

Raphel was lobbying for the ill-fated UNOCAL pipe line project at the time.

Raphel eventually became a lobbyist at Cassidy & Associates for the military administration of General Pervez Musharraf. “She was responsible for the lobbying for Pakistan in the State Department as a registered foreign agent of Pakistan and the firm had a $1.2 million contract with the Govt of Pakistan. At this time Jezail sees this as a highly dubious appointment of a well known revolving door retread to a sensitive position,” Dienstag said.

Details of the current FBI investigation haven’t been released, but it is expected that her ties to Pakistan are likely to be focus of the matter.

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Bloodbath

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Rather than write a string of words to describe what has happened to Barack Obama’s Democratic Party tonight, I’ll show you a short movie. It’s from a horror film that is nowhere near as terrifying as what the Democrats have experienced tonight.

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To get the obvious results out of the way, Wendy Davis not only did not make a strong showing in her race for Texas governor, she bombed. Greg Abbott defeated her literally everywhere, in the cities and in the countryside, among men and among women (52-47, by the way), even among Hispanic men. It was embarrassing, for her and for Battleground Texas.

Wendy Davis fared poorer than the Democratic nominee did four years ago, even though she had the vaunted Battleground Texas operation backing her. Embarrassing.

Not only did Wendy Davis lose, all of the statewide Democrats lost, and all by huge margins. Not a single Texas Democrat got above 40%. And then, Davis’ state Senate seat went to Republican Konni Burton. Go ahead and laugh, if you’re not a Wendy Davis fan.

The Republicans easily picked up the six U.S. Senate seats that they needed to take control. The GOP candidates picked up West Virginia, Iowa, Colorado, Arkansas, South Dakota, Montana and North Carolina. They needed six; that’s seven. And we don’t know what will happen yet in Louisiana and Alaska. The Republicans could take both. If they do, that exceeds even the most optimistic projections. I had it at +7 for weeks. They beat the spread.

The misery for Democrats by no means ends in the Senate. The Republicans increased their margin in the U.S. House by about 10 seats.

And they wrested three governorships away from Democrats in deep blue states. Republican Bruce Rauner defeated incumbent Democrat Pat Quinn in Illinois, 50-46. Martha Coakley turned in another dismal performance in Massachusetts, losing to Republican Charlie Baker. And in probably the most shocking result of the night, Maryland elected just its second Republican governor since the 1970s. Larry Hogan defeated Gov. Martin O’Malley’s chosen successor, easily, 52-46.

It goes without saying that Illinois, Massachusetts and Maryland are not generally considered to be battleground states. But now they are. The Republicans also held serve in Maine. Republicans came close to winning Senate seats in New Hampshire and Virginia.

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How Obama Walked Boehner and GOP Leadership Off the Syrian Rebel Cliff

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 - by Patrick Poole

One of the last acts Congress undertook before leaving Washington, D.C., in September for the midterm election break was to add $500 million in new funding to arm and train the so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels. The $500 million in funding had been an agenda item for Obama since June, when ISIS began making quick gains in an offensive push back into Iraq.

But the political net effect of this vote was to get the GOP leadership in Congress to publicly buy into Obama’s rapidly crumbling Syria policy. Led by Boehner in the House and McConnell in the Senate, the congressional GOP leadership allowed Obama to walk them off the Syrian rebel cliff.

As I reported here at PJ Media yesterday, the most important “vetted moderate” rebel groups are in retreat, having surrendered or defected to Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.

This development should come as no surprise to any member of the congressional GOP. In the week before the rebel amendment funding vote, I was asked to brief a number of GOP members and prepared a presentation on the collapse of the U.S.-backed Syria rebels that was widely circulated amongst both the House and Senate GOP conferences.

Among the chief trends I noted in these briefings — and that I was concurrently reporting on here — was that large groups of Free Syrian Army (FSA) units were defecting to al-Qaeda and ISIS, surrendering their U.S.-provided weapons along the way, and that other FSA units were forging peace deals and fighting alongside al-Qaeda and ISIS in some areas.

Even before the votes on the rebel funding, there was growing evidence that these “vetted moderate” forces were not moderate at all, and certainly would provide little assistance in fighting against ISIS.

Obama was hinting at where his policy was headed, too. Just a month before those congressional votes, in an interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Obama said that the belief that arming the Syrian rebels would have changed the situation had “always been a fantasy”:

With “respect to Syria,” said the president, the notion that arming the rebels would have made a difference has “always been a fantasy. This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”

Even now, the president said, the administration has difficulty finding, training and arming a sufficient cadre of secular Syrian rebels: “There’s not as much capacity as you would hope.”

Again, this was more than a month before congressional GOP leadership took up the cause of sending $500 million more to the Syrian rebels, even though there were reports that the FSA had already lost at least $500 million in arms to ISIS and other jihadist groups.

GOP leaders also bought in on another highly controversial element to Obama’s Syrian rebel policy. In September 2013, it was reported that Obama had signed a waiver circumventing a federal law intended to prohibit aid from going to terrorist groups. But when GOP leadership rolled out their amendment to fund the “vetted moderate” Syrian rebels, it contained hardly any substantial limits to Obama’s waiver policy.

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U.S.-Armed ‘Vetted Moderate’ Syrian Rebel Groups Surrender, Defect to Al-Qaeda

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 - by Patrick Poole

Reports the past two days indicate that two “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups, Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF), have surrendered, with some even defecting, to Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.

Ruth Sherlock reports today at The Telegraph:

Two of the main rebel groups receiving weapons from the United States to fight both the regime and jihadist groups in Syria have surrendered to al-Qaeda.

The US and its allies were relying on Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front to become part of a ground force that would attack the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

For the last six months the Hazm movement, and the SRF through them, had been receiving heavy weapons from the US-led coalition, including GRAD rockets and TOW anti-tank missiles.

But on Saturday night Harakat Hazm surrendered military bases and weapons supplies to Jabhat al-Nusra, when the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria stormed villages they controlled in northern Idlib province.

The development came a day after Jabhat al-Nusra dealt a final blow to the SRF, storming and capturing Deir Sinbal, home town of the group’s leader Jamal Marouf.

The attack caused the group, which had already lost its territory in Hama to al-Qaeda, to surrender.

A couple important points to note based on other reporting.

First is that al-Nusra was reportedly aided in the attack on the SRF by ISIS. According to a McClatchy report:

Even more ominous was that that the Islamic State, now far stronger and claiming to run a Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, reportedly had joined Jabhat al Nusra in the attack on the village of Deir Sinbul…

If Islamic State fighters in fact joined Nusra in the attack, it will have major repercussions for the war in Syria, for the two groups have been divided since April 2013, when Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the Iraq-based leader, announced the creation of the Islamic State. Nusra had supported the rebel war against Assad until very recently and also was at war with the Islamic State.

This is evidence of growing rapprochement between al-Nusra and ISIS, a movement I predicted just two weeks ago.

The second point is that reports indicate that one contributing factor to SRF’s collapse was the defection of some of their “vetted moderate” fighters:

In the past few days, the Nusra Front captured several villages in the Jabal al-Zawiya region of Idlib province and on Saturday it entered the village of Deir Sonbol, the stronghold of the Revolutionaries’ Front, forcing Maarouf to pull out.

“Dozens of his fighters defected and joined Nusra, that is why the group won,” Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told Reuters.

A Nusra fighter confirmed the report, saying: “They left him because they knew he was wrong and delusional.”

“He left his fighters in the battle and pulled out. Last night, we heard them on the radio shouting ‘Abu Khaled (Maarouf) escaped, Abu Khaled escaped’,” he added.

One Arabic language report indicates that 600 Hazm fighters defected, with 400 in Qalamoun and 200 up north (HT: Aymenn al-Tamimi). Whoever is doing the vetting of the “vetted moderates” for the State Department is clearly not doing a good job.

But perhaps more important is that both SRF and Hazm were  armed and trained by the U.S., with those weapons now falling into the hands of Al-Qaeda.

As the Telegraph report cited above indicates, SRF had been armed with GRAD rockets and TOW missiles. Another report indicates that SRF tanks and other arms were captured following SRF’s retreat.

I reported here at PJ Media that Hazm had publicly condemned U.S. airstrikes on ISIS and al-Nusra as “an attack on the revolution.”

Both groups also received the hearty support of the Washington, D.C., foreign policy establishment, with Harakat al-Hazm being praised as “rebels worth supporting” and “a model candidate for greater U.S. and allied support, including lethal military assistance,” and SRF being hailed as “the West’s best fighting chance against Syria’s Islamist armies.”

Those chances are looking pretty bleak at the moment.

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Did Kerry Apologize to Netanyahu? Israeli Media Say Yes, State Dept. Not So Sure

Friday, October 31st, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The State Department said Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss ”the importance of deescalating tension” in Jerusalem.

“The secretary emphasized the importance of refraining from provocative actions and rhetoric and preserving the historic status quo on the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters today. “He also spoke with President Abbas this morning. He expressed his serious concern about the escalating tensions in Jerusalem.”

“He stressed the importance of both sides taking steps to calm the situation, refrain from actions and rhetoric that could inflame the situation and work cooperatively to lower tensions and discourage violence.”

Given Kerry’s “strong relationship” with leaders involved, Psaki said, he felt talking with both was “an important component of what we’re doing.”

Yehuda Glick, a U.S.-born activist who has campaigned for the right of Jews to pray at the Temple Mount, was hit in a drive-by shooting Wednesday night after attending a conference about the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Israel temporarily closed the Temple Mount in response as Palestinian jihadists called for more attacks.

The State Department chided Israel, saying “we believe that Muslim worshippers should be able to worship” at the al-Aqsa mosque.

Kerry is scheduled to meet Monday with top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat to “discuss the way forward for the Middle East, the situation in Gaza, and lowering tensions in Jerusalem.”

Psaki was prodded on whether the Kerry-Netanyahu conversation included discussion of a senior administration official telling The Atlantic that Bibi is a “chickenshit” and “coward.”

“Let me check with him. I didn’t have a chance to ask him that question this morning,” Psaki said, not confirming reports in Israel that Kerry had apologized for the comments.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Kerry reiterated what he said many times publicly, which was that these don’t represent his views or the president’s views. But I’ll check with him,” she said. “He likely reiterated just as I said.”

Pro-Paletinian lobbying group J Street sent out a fundraising email today on behalf of Senate Democratic candidates Michelle Nunn (Ga.), Bruce Braley (Iowa), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.) and Mark Udall (Colo.), warning of “forces hostile to Middle East diplomacy” taking control of the upper chamber.

“Just this week, media reports indicated that Prime Minister Netanyahu hopes to pit Congress against the Obama Administration to prevent a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran or the Palestinians. You can bet he’s counting on the Senate falling into neocon hands to allow for such an outcome,” the email said.

“But with victories for Michelle, Bruce, Jeanne and Mark we can save the Senate and score a victory for diplomacy this Tuesday.”

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Even SecDef Hagel Hates Obama’s Syria Policy

Friday, October 31st, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has reportedly blasted President Obama’s Syria policy. Behind the scenes, Hagel sent a two-page memo to Obama national security adviser Susan Rice. In it, he assailed the dysfunctional policy toward Syria.

The memo was sent last week to President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, a defence official said on Thursday, confirming a New York Times report.

The memo was cited in the Times article by Hagel’s aides as an example of how the Pentagon chief is more assertive behind the scenes than his reserved public performance might suggest.

Hagel warned that the Syria policy was “in danger of unraveling” due to confusion over the US stance toward Assad, the paper wrote.

The Obama administration has focused on defeating the Islamic State group in Iraq first, and described US-led air strikes in Syria as a way of disrupting the jihadists’ supply lines.

Washington also plans to arm and train a group of 5,000 “moderate” Syrian rebels, but has not committed to attacking Assad regime forces that threaten moderate rebel fighters.

Obama’s Syria policy is a mess, but the decision not to attack Assad isn’t its main problem at this point. And frankly, now that the ISIS horse is out of the barn, we don’t really have any good options.

Attack Assad, you invite his allies Iran and Russia in to defend him one way or another, and if you take him out you may be creating a vacuum into which ISIS can move and grow stronger. So, you weaken Russia and Iran economically by dropping the price of oil. The Saudis are doing that, but so far, Iran and Russia haven’t gotten any less belligerent. They’re not any less likely to find ways to defend their ally, especially if doing so damages us.

Leave Assad alone, and he has a free hand to attack our allies on the ground. Arm the rebels, and odds are at least some of them are not so moderate, and are in fact Islamist, and have allied with ISIS — or soon will. The Kurds on the Syria-Turkey border are putting up a brave fight, but making them too strong invites action against them by Turkey. Not that Turkey would be in the right from our point of view.

So let’s attack both Assad and ISIS. They won’t work together, but soon enough we’re in the middle of Syria’s civil war, fighting ISIS on one hand and Assad (plus Iranian and Russian proxies or actual forces) on the other. That’s a recipe for us to get bogged down, while starting a world war. And that’s even if we don’t put boots on the ground.

Meanwhile, the Obama regime seems to be greenlighting Iran’s nuclear program while it alienates our strongest ally in the region, Israel.

Our best bet at this point seems to be to drive ISIS out of Iraq and keep it out. Its supply lines in Iraq are tenuous and can be disrupted. Its hold on most of its Iraqi territory is weak, though it does retain some popularity among the Sunni. You put Syria’s civil war back in Syria, preserve Iraq’s territorial integrity and build up Iraq against Iran and ISIS. Let ISIS and the rebels fight it out with Assad, take on the winner if that turns out to be ISIS. Or, maybe, if it turns out to be Assad. But the Russians and Iranians won’t just sit by on the sidelines for that. The Russians have been hacking White House computers and probing our air defenses from Europe to Alaska to Japan.

Driving ISIS out of Iraq is a long-term strategy that requires a significant number of American boots on the ground in Iraq to accomplish, since Iraq’s security forces have proven themselves incapable of defeating ISIS on their own. But, it’ll never happen. Obama doesn’t want to put more troops on the ground and he is obviously not gung ho to take on Islamist enemies. He and his lieutenants prefer to slam Israel.

When Obama held up Yemen and Somalia as examples of what he considers to be successful counterterrorism, he meant it, and that means that ISIS is here to stay. Al Qaeda operates fairly freely in both Yemen and Somalia, and what government there is in both countries is weak and tends to change hands. The way things are going, according to Obama’s stated strategy, ISIS will be a problem for the next president to deal with.

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Dem Senator: ‘Those Responsible Should be Held Accountable’ for Netanyahu Slur

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A Democratic senator blasted the senior administration official’s anonymous comments to The Atlantic calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “chickenshit” and “coward,” saying the White House needs to hold the guilty party responsible.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) issued a statement this afternoon stressing that “outlandish remarks made by anonymous sources leave scars that mask the truth of America’s relationship with Israel: we have no greater ally in the Middle East.”

“I’ve just spent two days in New York at the UN meeting with diplomats, including the Israelis who thanked me profusely for all the United States has done to support their efforts,” said Cardin, co-chairman of the Helsinki Commission. “The truth is that Israel has one and only one reliable ally that exercises its leadership at the UN to support its friend Israel and that is the United States. President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu understand the strategic importance and the special bond between our two countries.”

However, the senator continued, “the only parties that benefit from anonymous sources making inappropriate comments about one of America’s closest allies are those who want to weaken the unified, bipartisan support for Israel in both the legislative and executive branches of our government.”

“The leaks and side-shows need to end; those responsible should be held accountable,” Cardin said.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday he doesn’t “know of any effort” underway to find or punish the official who insulted Netanyahu.

“Again, there are anonymous comments like this that are shared with reporters like yourself on a pretty regular basis, and what we have found to be the most effective tactic is to help all of you understand the proper context for those comments,” he said.

“In this case, I’m not sure there is a proper context for those comments, because they are so directly in opposition to the true view and policy of this administration.”

Earnest said President Obama had no plans to call Netanyahu to apologize, and press secretary Jen Psaki said at the State Department today that they were “working to schedule a call” with Secretary of State John Kerry.

“I can assure anybody who thinks that that the president and the secretary of state don’t feel — feel that those comments were inappropriate and counter-productive and they’ll feel that way next Wednesday as well,” Psaki said of speculation that the administration is holding back open criticism of Netanyahu until after midterm elections.

The State Department has denied the remarks came from one of their people, and Rep. Brad Sherman  (D-Calif.) said the White House “assured me that the pejorative statements were not made by anyone at the White House.”

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called it “unprofessional for administration officials to air their dirty laundry in such a public way.”

“I am getting tired of hearing about the leaks and denials,” Engel said. “This ought to be the last time we hear of such talk because it is getting to a point where nobody believes the denials anymore.”

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Kerry: If Israel ‘Wants to Be a Jewish State’ It Must Accept Two-State Solution

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the word “chickenshit” to describe Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as a senior administration official told The Atlantic, but in the same breath described the country as one that “wants to be a Jewish state.”

As soon as the article was brought up to Kerry today at the Washington Ideas Forum, he said “the long game, as everybody knows from the investment I made much of last year, is to find a way to bring the parties to make peace in the Middle East.”

“We still believe it is doable, but it takes courage, it takes strength. You have to be prepared — both sides have to be prepared to compromise in order to do it,” he said. “Here’s what I know, and I think all of you know this, viscerally and intellectually. And I’ve asked this question of people in the Middle East.”

“One of the great challenges for Israel is obviously not to be a bi-national state. It wants to be a Jewish state. To be a Jewish state, you clearly have to resolve the issue of two states.”

Kerry argued that “if you don’t and you are a unitary state and people have equal rights to vote and participate as citizens, is Israel going to have a Palestinian prime minister?”

“I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Not going to happen.”

Netanyahu regularly refers to Israel as the Jewish state.

“So therefore, what is the solution here? How do you move forward?” Kerry said. “And what we’re trying to do is evenhandedly and hopefully thoughtfully strengthen Israel’s ability to free of rockets — not strengthen, to make it free of rockets, to — to end this perpetual conflict in a way that provides for the complete security of Israel, which has a right totally to be free of tunnels coming into its country, terrorists jumping out of a tunnel with handcuffs, with tranquilizer drugs, guns next to a kibbutz. No country would tolerate that.”

Kerry said to put pressure on the parties the administration needs “to work quietly and effectively, and we condemn anybody who uses language such as was used in this article.”

“It does not reflect president. It does not reflect me. It is — it is disgraceful, unacceptable, damaging, and — and — and I think neither President Obama nor I — I’ve never heard that word around me in the White House or anywhere,” he added.

“I don’t know who these anonymous people are who keep getting quoted in things, but they make life much more difficult, and we are proud of what we have done to help Israel through a very difficult time.”

Kerry lauded Obama for being “supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself in the recent — obviously, in this recent war.”

“But at the same time, the president wants to try to nurse the parties together to resolve these differences.”

On the Nov. 24 deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran, Kerry said he’s “not gonna give it odds.”

“As I said to the president recently, I’m not going to express optimism,” he said. “I’m going to express hope.”

“Whether Iran can make the tough decisions that it needs to make will be determined in the next weeks. But I have said consistently that no deal was better than a bad deal. And we’re going to be very careful, very — very much based on expert advice, facts, science as to the choices we make,” Kerry continued, adding it shouldn’t be an ”ideological or political decision.”

“If we can do what we’ve said, what the president set out in his policy — the president said they will not get a bomb. If we could take this moment of history and change this dynamic, the world would be a lot safer, and we’d avoid a huge arms race in the region where Saudis, Emirates, Egyptians, others may decide that if they’re moving towards a bomb, they gotta move there, too.”

Yesterday Daniel W. Drezner, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, suggested in the Washington Post that there could be a reason for the foul language.

“The one thing this kind of trash-talking does is send a signal to Iran about the U.S. commitment to a nuclear deal,” Drezner wrote.

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NYT Editor Admits Giving a Pass to Palestinian Racism

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The New York Times often prints stories alleging Israeli racism, but never runs any pieces about Palestinian racism. This is despite overwhelming evidence that not only is Palestinian society deeply racist, it also teaches racism to its children, and explicitly ties that racism to hoping for genocide against Jews. Palestinian media also teaches Muslim supremacy. Examples are not difficult to find.

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Yet the NYT, the alleged paper of record, doesn’t expose videos like the one above, or report on Palestinian racism. Why?

Editor Matt Seaton revealed why, in a tweet.

Times opinion editor Matt Seaton today provided a window into the mindset of the editors in his response to a query by this media analyst about whether readers “can expect two hit pieces on Palestinian racism in the next month” in keeping with the pace of the publication of (error-ridden) screeds about Israeli racism, both real and imagined.

Seaton, a former editor at the Guardian, known for its hostile treatment of Israel, tweeted back that The Times opinion pages would cover Palestinian racism as “soon as they have [a] sovereign state to discriminate with.”

There’s much more at the link, detailing just how many stories that the Times has recently run on so-called Israeli racism. The Old Gray Lady is being intentionally unfair and biased, and says it will only change its ways once the Palestinians have a state. The Times’ conscious decision not to report Palestinian society’s racism, Muslim supremacy and genocidal tendencies will have gone some way toward creating that state, of course. What kind of state will the New York Times have helped create?

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Treating Israel Like ‘Chickensh*t’ is Official Obama Administration Policy

Thursday, October 30th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) says he is “shocked” that senior Obama administration officials call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickensh*t.”

“I was shocked and disappointed on reading the comments in The Atlantic,” Engel said in a statement. “I call upon the Administration to reassert the importance of the relationship between the United States and Israel, and to reaffirm that the bonds between our two countries are unbreakable.

“I realize that two allies, such as the United States and Israel, are not going to agree on everything, but I think it is counterproductive and unprofessional for Administration officials to air their dirty laundry in such a public way,” he added. “I am getting tired of hearing about the leaks and denials. This ought to be the last time we hear of such talk because it is getting to a point where nobody believes the denials anymore.”

Engel is a pro-Israel Democrat but, tellingly, he didn’t call for an apology. He did not call for anyone to be ejected from the administration. He called for words to undo the damage that other words are doing.

The Obama administration, given two chances to apologize for the remark and make amends Wednesday, chose not to. And, both Josh Earnest at the White House and Jen Psaki at the State Department were clearly singing from the same sheet of music when both said that the administration would not even bother to try to find out who made the remarks. So they were operating off of official Obama administration policy, which attempted to assert that the smears are not reflective of the administration’s stance, but no one will be punished for undermining what is the official administration stance, with regard to a key ally.

There could be a behind-the-scenes effort to get to the bottom of it, if one supposes that hating Israel is not the pervasive attitude in the Obama administration. But Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in the Atlantic makes it clear, despite most readers and pundits’ failure to pick up on this, that the anti-Israel attitude is widespread in the Obama administration.

That’s right up top before the article officially starts:

The Obama administration’s anger is “red-hot” over Israel’s settlement policies, and the Netanyahu government openly expresses contempt for Obama’s understanding of the Middle East. Profound changes in the relationship may be coming.

That’s not one official — the whole administration is said to be “red-hot” against Israel.

In the article itself, we have the unnamed senior administration official dubbing Netanyahu a “chickensh*t” and another agreeing with that (in paragraph six of the story), adding that he is a “coward.” That second official brags that the Obama administration’s pressure has worked against Netanyahu, long enough to stall him and allow Iran’s nuclear program to proceed. That’s right here:

The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

“Now it’s too late,” the Obama administration official bragged, for Israel to stop Iran from building deployable nuclear weapons. Iran, by the way, has vowed in the past to use those weapons to annihilate Israel.

So that’s two Obama administration officials hiding behind anonymity while insulting Netanyahu, and one evidently tilting toward Iran.

There are more, many more, than just those two according to Goldberg.

Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.)

How many Obama officials are on that list? Does it include the president, the vice president, current and former secretaries of state? Is it two? Is it ten? Does the list include the likes of Valerie Jarrett? How about Ben Rhodes, brother of CBS News president David Rhodes? Don’t the American people deserve to know how rife the Obama administration is with anti-Israel officials?

The question is relevant because of some recent incidents, and one from three years ago. In the recent ones, Vice President Joe Biden said some negative things about Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. He chided them for funding ISIS, which they have.

Those countries objected, and they each got personal apologies from Biden by phone.

But no apologies now for Israel.

Three years ago, a hot mic caught President Obama griping about Netanyahu with then French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“Obama began by reproaching Sarkozy for not warning him in advance that France would vote in favour of Palestinian membership of  UNESCO,” the website reported. “The conversation turned to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, with Sarkozy saying ,’I don’t want to see him anymore, he’s a liar.’

“To which President Obama replied: ‘You’ve had enough of him, but I have to deal with him every day!’ Obama then asked Sarkozy to try  to convince the Palestinians to slow down with their UN membership drive.”

The Obama administration’s anti-Netanyahu attitude goes all the way to the top. That’s why the administration won’t even pretend to hunt down the officials who talked with Jeffrey Goldberg. They won’t reprimand or fire someone for saying what they’re all thinking and saying behind closed White House doors. President Obama will order Vice President Biden to apologize for saying an unpleasant but true thing about Arab countries, but will not go after anyone around him for smearing the Prime Minister of Israel. Because in his heart of hearts, Barack Obama agrees with the smear.

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Say No to Obama Kicking Israel Curbside

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 - by Jennifer Hanin

Oops. They did it again. Only this time president Obama’s senior staffer called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickensh*t” then tacked on this egregious disparagement “worthless coward” in Jeffrey Goldberg’s underhanded article in the Atlantic.

Seemingly Phony Support of Israel

Think there was no response? Hardly. Israeli Economic Minister Nafatali Bennett had these choice words in response to Goldberg’s article in the Atlantic:

“The United States administration is planning to throw Israel under the bus.” He added “Israel is stronger than all those who curse it.” Then he let Obama’s staff have it by saying, “Neither the leader of Syria, who has slaughtered 150,000 of his citizens, nor the leader of Saudi Arabia who stones women and gays, have been called chickensh**t. If what is written is true, then the current administration intends to throw Israel under the wheels of the bus.”

There is no damage control or morning-after chill-pill that will correct or erase Obama’s staffer’s comments either. The Internet lives 24×7. In fact, one word describes this kind of demonization and defamation besides political suicide (as that’s two words): sham. Actually, it sounds a lot like roadkill to me (or as my pre-teens like to term it road pizza). And I’m not talking about Obama as much as I am about Democrats running in the shadow of our POTUS’s train wrecked economy and hemorrhaging foreign policy blunders that are currently twisting and turning into a taut noose around just about every Democrat trying to get elected.

So what was Obama’s staffer thinking when he slandered America’s chief Middle East ally? His critics would likely say “not much.” This most recent disparagement of Netanyahu doesn’t even sound close to the “unshakeable bond” Obama campaigned on and publicly paraded, purported and shoved down our throats at AIPAC.

Repairing Obama’s Trainwreck

It will easily take years if not decades to undo the damage Obama has caused Israel. It will definitely take years to rewind and repair the apathy caused by the Occupy Movement, the wreckage left by race card division, Wall Street’s mortgage fiasco, our flatlined economy, and once and for all kill the albatross known as Obamacare. It’s the only way America can defibrillate our foreign policy, cauterize our bleeding economy and regain credibility among world leaders.

Sick of supporting an administration that prefers the Muslim Brotherhood rules Egypt over its liberal intellectuals, rewards its cousin Hamas with financial aid while the regime lobs rockets at Israelis from U.N. schools? Or maybe you’re tired of an Administration who kicks the can on Syria, gives stateside carte blanche access to Ebola-infected airline passengers, turns its head on ISIS (ISIL) and arms countries like Qatar and Turkey who fund terrorism like Iran?

And Netanyahu? Isn’t time we had a POTUS who employed staffers who acted like patriots or at least like adults and understood the value of embracing and emboldening our allies instead of harpooning them and embarrassing us?

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Earnest: Boehner’s Penchant for ‘Salty Language’ Means He Can’t ‘Lecture’ Over Bibi Insults

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wasn’t qualified to “lecture” a senior administration official who called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayhu a “chickenshit” because he uses bad words himself.

Boehner issued a statement today decrying the “fundamental failure” of “the disrespectful rhetoric used time and again by this administration with respect to the special relationship the United States has with the state of Israel.”

“The administration scoffs at the enduring willingness of members of both parties to maintain commitments to our friends and allies, contending that those commitments are mere sentiment, while all the while the administration and the president himself are taken aback that friends and allies won’t support him when he ignores them and, in some cases, belittles them,” Boehner said.

“When the president discusses Israel and Iran, it is sometimes hard to tell who he thinks is America’s friend and who he thinks is America’s enemy. The House of Representatives has no trouble drawing that distinction. Over the last several months, I have watched the administration insult ally after ally. I am tired of the administration’s apology tour. The president sets the tone for his administration. He either condones the profanity and disrespect used by the most senior members of his administration, or he does not. It is time for him to get his house in order and tell the people that can’t muster professionalism that it is time to move on.”

At today’s briefing, Earnest called the statement “an interesting observation by the speaker of the House, whom you all know has a penchant for using some pretty salty language himself.”

“So it’s a little rich to have a lecture about profanity from the speaker of the House,” the press secretary added.

“Has he ever said that about a prime minister or a president?” Earnest was asked.

“I don’t know. You’d have to ask him,” Earnest replied. “…He’s reportedly said that about the majority leader of the United States Senate. And as long as we’re talking about respect, I think that’s notable.”

Boehner has told Harry Reid “go f–k yourself” and called the cap-and-trade bill a “pile of s–t” — on the record.

“But I will say as a general matter that I am not aware of who made those comments to Mr. Goldberg,” Earnest said of The Atlantic article. “I do not know if the president knows who made those comments. I would be surprised if he did. But the fact is anonymous comments like that on a range of issues are not particularly unique. A lot of you spend a lot of time talking to administration officials and trying to discern what those individuals have to say, or what those individuals have to say and how it reflects on United States policy.”

Earnest was asked if Obama had or would call Netanyahu to apologize for the comment.

“I don’t have any calls on the president’s schedule to tell you about,” he said. “But I think — I can confidently say that, based on the numerous conversations that President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have held, that the prime minister is well aware of the value that President Obama personally places on the strength of the relationship between the United States and Israel.”

Earnest said he doesn’t “know of any effort” underway to find or punish the official who insulted Netanyahu.

“Again, there are anonymous comments like this that are shared with reporters like yourself on a pretty regular basis, and what we have found to be the most effective tactic is to help all of you understand the proper context for those comments,” he said.

“In this case, I’m not sure there is a proper context for those comments, because they are so directly in opposition to the true view and policy of this administration.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) stressed that the comments were “not isolated insults.”

“They are part of a pattern of disrespectful and profoundly counterproductive behavior that has strained the critical alliance between the United States and Israel,” McCarthy said. “I call on President Obama to firmly repudiate these views and to instruct his staff that such comments are completely unacceptable.”

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Obama Admin Anonymously Rejects ‘Chickensh*t’ Comments

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Haaretz reporter Barak Ravid tweets that the Obama White House is rejecting the “chickensh*t” comments that a senior official lobbed at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But no official has attached their name to that rejection.

Ravid does not identify the source, just as Jeffrey Goldberg does not identify the “senior official” who slammed Netanyahu in the first place. So at this point, we have Obama officials using anonymity to slander Israel’s leader, and using anonymity to back off from that cricitcism. Leading to this:

And this.

Buried in that controversial article, Goldberg relays Obama White House glee that Iran’s nuclear program is now unstoppable — because the Obama administration pressured Netanyahu not to strike it.

I ran this notion by another senior official who deals with the Israel file regularly. This official agreed that Netanyahu is a “chickenshit” on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a “coward” on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. “It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

We also learn in that paragraph that the Obama administration’s hatred for Netanyahu is not limited to just the one official whose comments form most of Goldberg’s article. And that none of these courageous officials will attach their name to the insults they are lobbing at the Israeli PM.

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Human Rights Abuses Worsening in Country Being Trusted to Abide by Nuclear Deal

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) warned the administration, which is heading toward at Nov. 24 nuclear deadline with Iran, is proving its nefarious intentions simply in the way it treats its own citizens.

On Saturday at dawn, Iran hanged Reyhaneh Jabbari, 26, who stabbed a former intelligence officer as he attempted to sexually assault her.

The State Department issued a statement condemning the execution. “There were serious concerns with the fairness of the trial and the circumstances surrounding this case, including reports of confessions made under severe duress,” press secretary Jen Psaki said. “Iranian authorities proceeded with this execution despite pleas from Iranian human rights activists and an international outcry over this case.”

“We join our voice with those who call on Iran to respect the fair trial guarantees afforded to its people under Iran’s own laws and its international obligations.”

The United Nations issued a sobering report this week noting a “widening of the range of offenses” punishable by execution under the supposedly moderate regime, including political dissent and economic crimes.

“The main concerns in my report deal with issues of right to life,” Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Iran, told reporters Monday. He said there has been a “surge” in executions in the country in the past 12 to 15 months.

Women’s rights are also deteriorating. University enrollment has dropped from 62 percent to 48 percent in the past two years, and girls as young as 9 are being forced into marriage.

Royce said the report is “troubling” yet “does not come as a surprise.”

“Under ‘reformist’ President Rouhani, the Iranian regime continues to commit grave human rights abuses against the Iranian people. All too often, women bear the brunt of this brutality,” he said.

“The regime’s response to the recent acid attacks on Iranian women is appalling but not surprising,” Royce continued. “When a number of young women such as 27-year old Neda were blinded by acid thrown from men on motorcycles, the regime responded to popular protests by detaining a prominent female human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, and passing a law that could incite, rather than discourage, similar heinous attacks.”

Neda Agha-Soltan was murdered by Basij militia during the 2009 Green Revolution protests.

“I fear that Iran’s Basij militia will see this new law as an even more liberal license to attack Iranian women for how they are dressed. Hopefully Iranian society will step up to these acts of cowardice,” the chairman said.

“The Obama Administration should keep these abuses in mind when negotiating with the Iranian regime —it is difficult, if not impossible, to believe that the regime would be a peaceful nuclear power when it behaves so violently towards its own citizens. Common sense says we must be intensely skeptical of Iran’s intentions.”

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Netanyahu on U.S. Insults: ‘I am Under Attack Simply Because I am Defending the State of Israel’

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said verbal attacks from the Obama administration — namely, being called “chickenshit” and a “coward” by an anonymous senior administration official in an article in The Atlantic — won’t dissuade him.

“Netanyahu will continue to uphold the security interests of Israel and the historical rights of the Jewish people in Jerusalem, and no amount of pressure will change that,” the prime minister’s office said, according to Haaretz.

Soon after, Netanyahu addressed the Knesset.

“When there are pressures on Israel to concede its security, the easiest thing to do is to concede. You get a round of applause, ceremonies on grassy knolls, and then come the missiles and the tunnels,” he said.

“I am not prepared to make concessions that will endanger our state,” Netanyahu continued. “Understand, our national interests, topped by security and the unity of Jerusalem, are not what top the interests of those anonymous forces attacking us, and me personally. I am under attack simply because I am defending the State of Israel. If I didn’t stand firm on our national interests, I would not be under attack.”

The prime minister added, “I respect and cherish the deep connection with the United States.”

“Since the establishment of the state, we’ve had our arguments and then some,” he said. “We have seen time after time, year and year, support rising among the American public. The strategic alliance between the stances is continuing and will continue.”

The founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center says President Obama needs to “name, apologize for, and repudiate” the anonymous official who said the insults.

“It is rather ironic that a senior American official is prepared to curse his friends, yet when it comes to the mortal enemies of the United States – as the Iranians discovered during the recent nuclear negotiation – praise is heaped on them,” Rabbi Marvin Hier told The Algemeiner.

“He said Netanyahu is a coward for not taking pre-emptive action against Iran, but I suppose this anonymous official who is hiding behind his desk is very brave.”

Whether or not the official is fired is “up to the president,” the rabbi said.

“A senior American official who doesn’t name himself and then hurls curse words at one of our strongest allies should be repudiated by the president. President Obama needs to make it clear that these officials don’t speak for him. Most of all, an apology is in order: That is not the way a senior American official should speak to the Prime Minister of Israel, that is not the way to conduct foreign policy,” Hier continued.

“There are no curse words on or off the record about the emir of Qatar for supporting Hamas and supporting Islamic State,” he noted. “The emir of Qatar is being rewarded for supporting Hamas and Islamic State. He is certainly not being treated in the way that Netanyahu is now.”

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