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Two Americans Among IDF Killed Fighting for Israel

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Two American citizens are among the 13 Israel Defense Forces soldiers in the Golani brigade killed in the ground operation into Gaza.

Max Steinberg, 24, was born in Woodland Hills, Calif., where he attended El Camino Real High School and Pierce College, according to the Jewish Journal of Los Angeles. He volunteered for the IDF in December 2012 and was a sniper in Golani.

Steinberg’s family still lives in the San Fernando Valley. They were flying to Israel for his burial.

“He was completely dedicated and committed to serving the country of Israel,” his father, Stuart, told the Associated Press. “He was focused, he was clear in what the mission was, and he was dedicated to the work he needed to be doing.”

Nissim Sean Carmeli, 21, was from South Padre Island, Texas, and moved to Israel four years ago.

The specific circumstances of their deaths aren’t known, only that all of the 13 IDF soldiers died in the Gaza City neighborhood of Shejaiya.

Seven were killed when their personnel carrier drove over an explosive device, three were killed by a fire in a building, and three were killed in a firefight with Hamas.

“We can confirm the deaths of U.S. citizens Max Steinberg and Sean Carmeli in Gaza,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a Sunday night statement. “Out of respect for those affected by this, we have nothing further at this time.”

 

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Max Steinberg

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Nissim Sean Carmeli

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How Israel is Winning the PR Battle Against Hamas

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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Moral equivalence is dead. When Bill Clinton, the “international community”-blessed architect of Oslo, can blatantly declare

In the short and medium term Hamas can inflict terrible public relations damage by forcing (Israel) to kill Palestinian civilians to counter Hamas. But it’s a crass strategy that takes all of our eyes off the real objective which is a peace that gets Israel security and recognition and a peace that gets the Palestinians their state.

it is obvious that Hamas has finally shot themselves in the foot with the terrorists’ ideological weapon of choice. So, why do news agencies insist on reporting nothing more than body counts in evening news reports, as if the latest conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians is nothing more than a sports game?

Clinton may be a pervert, but he isn’t stupid. He acknowledged the “public relations” battle because he knows that the press follows the cues given by Hamas, the terrorist organization that holds reporters in Gaza against their will. Unless they have the intellect of toddlers, these reporters cannot be blind to the brainwashing from birth that turns children into human shields. Nor can they be so totally blind to the rocket launchers hiding behind schools and mosques in residential neighborhoods. Yet, the best they can muster is a body count followed by sarcastic commentary like that of CNN’s Ben Wedeman: “There is no Iron Dome in Gaza to protect civilians.” Amazing. Toddler Ben gets a gold star for that stellar observation.

As my PJMedia colleague Ron Radosh so excellently pointed out, the intellectuals also have no problem fettering mainstream media with arguments of moral equivalence. All they need is the right costume and a little bathtub gin and they could easily chatter the night away as if they were on the porch of Gatsby’s mansion. That is how comfortable they are turning an international war against Islamic terrorism into the banal “one person’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter” claim. Like America’s “restless” President, these politicos prefer the comforts of today’s Weimar. No doubt they are taking fiddling lessons so they can be fully prepared when Rome begins to burn.

There is a reality on the ground that escapes the Hamas-controlled media: Israel loves life. Israel’s policy is to warn Palestinian civilians (or, as Hamas calls them, weapons in Operation Human Shield) to get out of the way before they drop bombs or conduct ground invasions. Israel sets up field hospitals to treat wounded Gazans. We know about these things because, much to the chagrin of the death-loving Hamas, they cannot control the Internet. Just as Israelis are winning the ground offensive, Israel-supporters are winning the ideological offensive through alternative news sources and, most importantly, social media.

This past Saturday, 200 anti-Israel protesters fell to the ground in Boston in a “die-in” meant to demonstrate the number of Palestinians who have been killed thus far in Operation Protective Edge. A number of Israel supporters attended the event and were cornered by the anti-Israel crowd. One Zionist, Chloe Valdary told the Times of Israel:

We really do manage to disrupt them and distract them when we show up. We show up and it’s in the media, so the public sees how hate-filled and incredibly deluded these Hamas supporters are.

We’ve caught onto the PR game and we play to win. Now it is our turn to Tweet with a smile and watch as the death-obsessed Hamas-brainwashed fools fall and take their wretched canard of moral equivalency down with them.

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The Libertarian Case for Supporting Israel

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Walter Hudson

As the presidential prospects of Senator Rand Paul grow more viable, so does the intensity of the foreign policy debate within the Republican Party. At the center of that debate is the U.S. relationship with Israel. What obligation do we hold to the Jewish state?

PJM associate editor Bryan Preston responds to a report from the Washington Free Beacon regarding a list of books scrubbed from Senator Paul’s website after the Weekly Standard called out some of the books as “anti-Israel.” Preston concludes:

I’d like to like Rand Paul, for his small government, libertarian principles. I share those, and the fact is, we will go bankrupt as a country if we do not get spending under control. But Paul’s foreign policy instincts have too much of the far left, Dennis Kucinich, blame-America-and-Israel-first detritus to make him a serious commander in chief. This reading list is a symptom of that. It suggests that Paul sees Israel as the prime problem in the Middle East, and Jews the prime problem in the world.

Whether Paul holds such views or not, a broader question emerges from the association of non-interventionist foreign policy with antisemitism. Does one indicate the other? Must we “support Israel” in a particular way to prove that we do not hate Jews?

Lost in the loudest rhetoric dominating the Republican foreign policy debate is an application of non-interventionism which nonetheless acknowledges Islamic totalitarianism. As Ayn Rand Institute executive director Yaron Brook explains in the clip above, the U.S. and Israel share a common enemy, an ideology which expressly seeks to deprive individuals of their rights. Non-intervention does not mean sticking our head in the sand and ignoring real enemies. It means limiting our response to actions which defend us rather than police the world.

Certainly, influences within the Paul family orbit err on the side of pacifism, and those forces deserve rebuke. Even so, it would be a mistake to dismiss the principle underlying non-interventionism. We should “support Israel” to the extent it defends our citizens by defanging a common enemy, not for Israel’s sake, but for ours. What that looks like in practice remains open to debate.

(Today’s Fightin Words podcast is on this topic available here. 16:14 minutes long; 15.64 MB file size. Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)

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State Department Official Tweets #UnitedforGaza

Saturday, July 19th, 2014 - by Paula Bolyard

UPDATE: Richard Stengel deleted the tweet with the #UnitedForGaza hashtag early Sunday morning and tweeted that it had been “a mistake.”

 

 

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Richard Stengel, under secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs at the U.S. Department of State, took to Twitter on Saturday night and appeared to take sides in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Stegel, appointed to his post at the State Department by President Obama last year and confirmed by a 90-8 vote in the senate in April, used his personal Twitter account to call for an investigation into Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The former managing editor of Time prefaced the tweet with the State Department’s Twitter handle and ended it with the hashtag #UnitedForGaza, indicating his solidarity with the Palestinians.

Not surprisingly, many Twitter uses were offended by the hashtag:

 

Several people offered excuses for Stegel’s tweet:

 

These excuses might possibly be credible if Stegel didn’t have a history of anti-Israel statements and sympathy for Hamas and the Palestinians. In 2010, when he was still with Time, Stengel penned an incendiary article titled “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace.” Discussing the article in a segment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, he blamed the West Bank security fence for what he considered to be Israel’s complacency in the peace process:

They haven’t had a car bombing in two and a half years. And the sad truth really is that the wall with the West Bank has actually worked. I mean, most Israelis in the course of their lives don’t come into contact with any Palestinians at all. The wall is functioning. And the Gaza strip is so small and so isolated they feel that those folks, the Hamas folks are not that big of a threat…

I mean, the Israelis feel like, you know what? The status quo isn’t so bad and we don’t mind is there is no peace at all.

The fence, of course, was built after Israel offered 98 percent of the West Bank and the Palestinians responded with an intifada that killed more than 2,000 Israelis with bombs and exploding buses.

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White House Extends Iran Nuclear Deadline by Four Months

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

With two days to go until the July 20 deadline for a final nuclear agreement with Iran, the Obama administration announced Friday evening that it would extend the deadline by four months.

In a lengthy statement from the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest lauded Washington’s “unprecedented diplomatic effort with the Islamic Republic of Iran to achieve a comprehensive solution to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

“As verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has met its commitments under that initial accord – ceasing its enrichment of uranium to higher levels; taking steps to neutralize its more dangerous stockpile of nuclear material; refraining from installing more centrifuges, including its more advanced models; halting advances at its Arak reactor; and submitting to broader and far more frequent inspections of its facilities,” Earnest said. “Meanwhile, the relief provided by the P5+1 and EU has been limited, and the overwhelming majority of our sanctions remain in force.”

The White House insisted that while “our negotiators have made progress in some areas and, while real gaps remain, there is a credible prospect for a comprehensive deal.”

“Because of this – and because Iran has upheld its commitments under the initial accord – we agreed today to extend the Joint Plan of Action to November 24. This extension will allow us to continue the negotiations while ensuring that the progress of Iran’s nuclear program remains halted during the negotiations,” Earnest said.

He added “throughout this process, we have consulted regularly with Congress, whose efforts have been critical in supporting this diplomatic opportunity” — but lawmakers have regularly complained throughout the six-month period that they haven’t been included in the process.

“We have also engaged closely with our regional partners and allies – particularly Israel and our Gulf partners – given our shared interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and the United States’ enduring commitment to regional security,” Earnest said.

“We will not accept anything less than a comprehensive resolution that meets our objectives, which is why it is necessary for negotiations to continue.”

On Wednesday, the White House wouldn’t say if it would extend the talks, but was paving the way by waxing about Iran’s “surprisingly favorable” record.

Secretary of State John Kerry insisted tonight “this effort remains as intense as it is important, and we have come a long way in a short period of time.”

“Less than a year ago, President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani spoke for the first time to try to usher in a new diplomatic moment, and I held the first bilateral meeting between a Secretary of State and an Iranian Foreign Minister in more than three decades,” he said in a statement. “Since that time, we’ve been intensely engaged in a constant and comprehensive effort – the best chance we’ve ever had to resolve this issue peacefully.”

The six-month interim agreement, Kerry claimed, “has been a clear success.”

“Today, we have a draft text that covers the main issues, but there are still a number of brackets and blank spaces in that text,” he said, adding that some of those gaps are concentrated around “issues such as enrichment capacity at the Natanz enrichment facility.”

“Diplomacy takes time, and persistence is needed to determine whether we can achieve our objectives peacefully. To turn our back prematurely on diplomatic efforts when significant progress has been made would deny ourselves the ability to achieve our objectives peacefully, and to maintain the international unity that we have built. While we’ve made clear that no deal is better than a bad deal, the very real prospect of reaching a good agreement that achieves our objectives necessitates that we seek more time,” Kerry continued.

The Nov. 24 date was picked because it’s exactly one year since the initial agreement was finalized in Geneva. Kerry argued the extension is “warranted by the progress we’ve made and the path forward we can envision.”

The U.S. “will continue to suspend the sanctions we agreed to under the JPOA and will allow Iran access to $2.8 billion dollars of its restricted assets, the four-month prorated amount of the original JPOA commitment,” he said.

Kerry was quickly booked on all five Sunday morning news shows.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that Tehran would be open to an extension “if it becomes clear that the opposite side respects the Iranian nation’s rights and viewpoints within the framework of international law.”

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on the floor of the upper chamber this week noted the “same obfuscation, same Iranian tactics we’ve seen for decades … that’s not an endgame – that’s a nonstarter.”

Menendez stressed that the only acceptable agreement is one that would set off alarm bells if Iran tries to attain nuclear weapons capability over the next 20 to 30 years.

Along with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Menendez circulated a letter to President Obama around the Senate this week to gather signatures on the need for a tough stance against Tehran, touching off a lobbying battle of sorts with pro-Iranian groups.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said tonight the extension sounds like anything but the “progress” claimed by Kerry.

“It looks like the Iranians won extra time with a good cop-bad cop routine, backing off the Supreme Leader’s absurd claim for 190,000 centrifuges,” Royce said. “This tells me Iran, with centrifuges spinning, thinks time is on its side. Increased economic pressure would strengthen our hand, but the administration opposes it. It should welcome congressional efforts to ratchet up the economic pressure on Iran.”

“Any deal should be graded on its technical merits, not in the hopes of a partnership with Iran on Iraq and other issues, as some have argued,” the chairman added. “Iran’s terrorist-backing activities, including illicitly shipping missiles to Hamas, demands even higher standards of verification for any deal. Everything about Iran’s nuclear program signals ‘nuclear bomb,’ yesterday, today, and I worry tomorrow.”

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Psaki: ISIS ‘Seeks to Distort Religion Solely to Obtain Power Through Violence’

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

State Department spokeswoman said the stoning of a woman by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) was the result of a movement that “seeks to distort religion solely to obtain power through violence.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported today that a woman in her 30s in Tabaqa became the first victim of the Islamic State’s judiciary system.

“The Islamic state carried out its first sentence of death by stoning against a woman in Tabaqa, accusing her of adultery,” said the human rights group.

“The situation is unbearable. Stoning is the worst punishment history has known. A quick death is more merciful,” Raqqa activist Salameh, using a pseudonym, told AFP via the Internet. “The woman’s family did not know the sentence was going to be carried out at this time.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s barbaric stoning of the woman yesterday in Tabaqa — Tabaqa, Syria,” Psaki told reporters at the start of the daily briefing.

“This is the latest example of ISIL’s infamous atrocities against the Syrian people. ISIL is a vicious terrorist organization with a proven agenda of grotesque violence and repression, which runs against the Syrian revolution’s goals of freedom and dignity,” Psaki continued.

“We’ve been clear that all those who commit crimes against the Syrian people must be held accountable. The United States regularly reports on violence against women and girls around the world and supports efforts to prevent and respond to such violence, including advancing accountability by working with law enforcement, supporting civil societies efforts, and engaging with critical stake holders such as men and boys,” she said.

“We raise these issues with world leaders and an international force such as the United Nations to spur collective action against such — these egregious crimes.”

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Rand Paul’s Little Problem, Which Is Actually A Very Big Problem, Resurfaces

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Pauls have a longstanding strain of anti-Semitism in their libertarian politics. Sen. Paul has tried his hand at scrubbing some of that as he gears up for a presidential run. The WFB has the details.

Sen. Rand Paul’s (R., Ky.) office deleted a “student reading list” that promoted anti-Israel books from his official Senate website this week, shortly after the Weekly Standard published an article last Friday highlighting the controversial recommendations.

Paul’s Senate website has advertised the list of 17 books as “suggested titles for a student, or anyone else interested in learning more about freedom and the role of government in a free society” under a “students” section since 2011.

While most of the recommended titles focus on economic policy, the list also included books that claim the “Israel Lobby” controls U.S. foreign policy, call for the United States to cut ties with the Jewish state, and argue that support for Israel is anti-Christian and anti-American.

One of the recommended titles, Where the Right Went Wrong: How Neoconservatives Subverted the Reagan Revolution and Hijacked the Bush Presidency by Patrick Buchanan, has been criticized by the Anti-Defamation League for containing “anti-Semitic rhetoric.”

In the book, Buchanan accused “the Beltway Likud” of plotting the war in Iraq “long before 9/11.”

“President Bush no longer sits at the head of the negotiating table, but directly behind [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon,” Buchanan wrote.

Buchanan also compared former Bush adviser Richard Perle with “Fagin,” the villainous, anti-Semitic caricature in Oliver Twist.

And so forth.

I’d like to like Rand Paul, for his small government, libertarian principles. I share those, and the fact is, we will go bankrupt as a country if we do not get spending under control. But Paul’s foreign policy instincts have too much of the far left, Dennis Kucinich, blame-America-and-Israel-first detritus to make him a serious commander in chief. This reading list is a symptom of that. It suggests that Paul sees Israel as the prime problem in the Middle East, and Jews the prime problem in the world.

If that’s what he thinks, there isn’t a whole lot left to talk about.

We already have a president whose tendency is to blame America for the world’s ills and does not step up forcefully to defend American citizens or US global interests. That’s not working out very well at all. Today, Obama put himself even to the left of his own Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power. She spoke far more clearly on the Ukraine crisis today than he did. She called Putin out. Obama backed Putin’s call for a cease-fire and delayed any action he would have to take by hiding behind an investigation that stands no chance of being seriously and fairly conducted, not with Putin’s proxies in control of the crash site.

The best name you can put on that is “incoherence.” It’s also weakness, and it tells our enemies that we have no plan and no strong leadership. Commit a heinous act, give Obama a way to escape having to deal with it, and he’ll take it.

Eight years of that look like they’ll leave America economically and diplomatically weakened and more isolated than before, and Putin and his axis and every other bad actor out there emboldened.

It’s hard to see Rand Paul being an antidote to any of that.

Eight years of Obama stand to leave Israel also more isolated, as Islamists take over more territory around it.

It’s impossible to see Rand Paul being an antidote to that.

 

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Israel Launches Air, Ground and Sea Operations Against Hamas in Gaza

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Jerusalem Post reports that “IDF ground forces began to move into the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening at around 10:30, according to Palestinian news sources and Al-Jazeera.”

The Israeli Defense Forces haven’t confirmed the operation, but haven’t denied it either.

The IDF launched a massive wave of combined air and artillery strikes on Thursday night, in a possible signal that Israel may be on the verge of a ground offensive against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the
Gaza Strip.

Palestinian sources said strikes occurred up and down the Strip, adding that one strike targeted a motorcycle apparently carrying members of a rocket launching cell on their way to an attack on
Israel.

At around 10:00 p.m. rocket sirens sounded in the Tel Aviv area, and in the Shfela. Iron Dome made a number of interceptions in the Tel Aviv area.

Hamas bombarded Israel on Thursday with rockets after the end of the humanitarian truce, firing over 100 projectiles after 3 p.m. Eighty one rockets landed in open areas, two fell inside villages, damaging two homes, and 20 were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defense system.

Update — confirmed.

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Vox.com: Sure, Hamas Commits War Crimes. So What?

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Vox.com is now unofficially Hamas’ foremost apologist among juiceboxers in the West.

I’m not making that up. Check out today’s offering.

vox-hamas

Do we even need to read the rest?

The “militants” are Hamas terrorists who are hiding weapons in schools, near children and families, to provide the Israelis with a terrible choice: Bomb the schools to get the rockets and maybe kill children, or leave the rockets alone knowing that they will eventually rain down on Israel’s cities and kill Israeli children.

Hamas forces Israel into that choice for the propaganda value gained with every civilian death. Or, to destabilize Israel’s government if it chooses not to strike those targets.

Hamas is still designated a terrorist group, even by the Obama-Kerry State Department. Vox is thus knowingly setting itself up as an apologist for terrorists.

Hiding weapons of war in schools is a war crime, straight up. Targeting civilians intentionally, as Hamas does, is also a war crime. Thus, Hamas quite deliberately commits war crimes, and quite deliberately poses impossible choices for the democratically-elected Israeli government, for strategic and propaganda reasons.

Here’s how Vox’s Max Fischer treats that.

Both Hamas’s use of civilian Palestinian buildings and Israel’s strikes against those buildings are highly controversial, and rightly so. It would be understating things pretty dramatically to say that this an aspect of the Israel-Hamas conflict where both sides are behaving badly. But that does not make them equivalent.

“…both sides are behaving badly.” Moral equivalency between the terrorists who are choosing to put their own people in peril, and the democratically elected government that is acting to protect its own people.

Only the people responsible can know for sure why Palestinian militants would use civilian buildings, but any real possibility is bad. Maybe militant groups use civilian buildings like this UN school simply because they don’t mind the danger this creates for the Palestinians they claim to protect. Maybe it’s because they are hoping that the rockets will be safer in a UN school because Israel won’t want to bomb it, which means using Palestinians kids and teachers as human shields. An argument you hear from Hamas’s harshest critics is that they are hoping Israel will target the schools, thus rallying people to their side.

Hamas’ “harshest critics” have it right.

None of these speaks well of militant groups or the effects of their rocket campaigns on Palestinian civilians. It is not a great secret that “resistance” campaigns by groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad bring far greater harm to Palestinian civilians than they do anything resembling liberation, but this incident is a small glimpse of how, and of the effects of militant groups firing hundreds of rockets into Israel from densely populated neighborhoods in Gaza.

Hey, he got something right. Have a cookie.

Here’s the thing, though: while incidents like this force Israel to decide between bombing civilian structures or allowing Hamas to use those structures as rocket storage depots, it does not actually force Israel to choose to bomb civilian buildings. It is entirely within Israel’s power to not bomb civilian buildings.

Did a 10-year-old write that? Certainly someone with no moral foundation at all, no understanding of the laws of war, and no understanding at all of military strategy or the purpose of propaganda, wrote it.

In all seriousness, it’s C level work for a decent middle school. Or it’s expert trolling, getting people to click just to gawk at the stupidity. Hey, Slate makes a decent living off that tactic.

If this is “explanatory journalism,” then the genre needs to die, and quickly.

 

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Israeli Ambassador: 20 Times as Many Germans Died in WWII; Did That Make U.S. Response ‘Disproportionate’?

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Israel’s ambassador to the United States stressed on CNN that the Jewish state cannot be accused of a disproportionate response to Gaza rockets because “it has nothing to do with a body count on both sides.”

“Twenty times as many Germans died in World War II than Americans. It didn’t make the American response disproportionate and didn’t make the Nazis right,” Ambassador Ron Dermer said.

Furthermore, he said, Israel is not targeting any civilians, unlike Hamas.

“How many of the total number of people who were killed were non-combatants I don’t know the exact number. After any time you have these types of activities, military activities we have an investigation into each and every incident. We do not target civilians. That’s is the difference between us and Hamas. We’re doing everything to keep their civilians out of harm’s way. We’re not perfect. It’s a very dense urban area,” Dermer said.

“We have an issue now where we have nearly three-quarters of our population, the equivalent of 200 million Americans in bomb shelters. We have to defend ourselves. They put their missile batteries next to schools, next to mosques, next to hospitals. We’re doing everything we can to keep their innocents out of harm’s way.”

Israel is “sending flyers, text messages, or phone calls” to warn Palestinian civilians of the bombings, but Hamas is “saying go into harm’s way.”

“Hamas is telling the Palestinians in Gaza to ignore the warnings of the Israeli Defense Forces and to go into harm’s way,” Dermer said. “…It’s very important to understand what it means for a disproportionate response. Sometimes say Israel is being disproportionate because more Palestinians have been killed than Israelis, 200 versus one.”

The ambassador disputed the Palestinians’ claim that Israelis targeted a charity for the disabled.

“We didn’t bomb a disabled center. Here’s the people you have to ask are the people using these civilians as human shields. They are using civilians as human shields. It’s a tactic of war. If the international community condemns Israel for defending itself legitimately, and you’ve heard the words of the American president, you’ve heard the secretary of state. We’ve appreciate the strong backing they’ve given for Israel’s right to defend itself. If you place the blame on Israel, Hamas is going to put more civilians in harm’s way,” said Dermer.

“We call off actions time after time. If you can really tell me that if 200 million Americans were in bomb shelters then the American government and the American military would use less force than Israel then that’s very surprising.”

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Virginia Dem Moran: Hamas Rockets are ‘Fairly Feckless’

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A Virginia congressman characterized the rockets being fired into Israel by Hamas as “fairly feckless,” pointing to “too many” Palestinian deaths as the problem.

“Well, Israel has the overwhelming support of the American Congress. There are a few of us who feel that, you know, a cease-fire is the only way to go, and it’s in Israel’s, as well as the Palestinians’ interest to have a cease-fire,” Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) said on MSNBC last night.

“Lives are of value. And there are going to be too many innocent Palestinians killed in this. I don’t think that there are going to be many Israelis. We have helped Israel secure the Iron Dome. And really these rockets that have been fired from the Gaza Strip, they’re fairly feckless. I mean, they fall in land that is generally unoccupied, but nevertheless, they are a threat. And I suspect if Hamas could kill people with them, they certainly would,” Moran said.

The Israeli Defense Forces reported this morning that a rocket fell on a house in Ashkelon.

“But Israel clearly has the capacity to kill more Gazans and I think they will as long as rockets continue to be fired from the Gaza Strip,” Moran said. “So, a cease-fire seems to be in everyone’s interest. The fact is Israel only generates more hatred, not just from Hamas, but the Arab and Muslim community throughout the world, I suspect with what’s going on, with the possible exception of Egypt, perhaps.”

“And certainly from the Palestinian standpoint, they’re going to continue to lose lives and many of them are going to be innocent women and children,” he added.

Hamas rejected a cease-fire agreement offered by the Egyptians today even though the Israeli cabinet accepted the plan.

Israel, Moran argued, “can’t kill all of the people in the Gaza and they can’t eliminate Hamas. They can certainly teach them a lesson and their objective is long-term stability in Gaza. I’m not sure that’s going to be achieved when you have as many deaths as has occurred from this recent conflict.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the congressman added, isn’t “going to be the prime minister of Israel forever.”

“At some point, there has to be a two-state solution or you’re going to have this revenge of the cradle where the demographics are going to prevent Israel from being able to have one state that elects a democratic government that isn’t Palestinian, because the Palestinian growth rate is so much greater than Israel’s growth rate. So, they need a two-state solution.”

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Kerry: ‘Very Real Gaps’ Remain with Iran, Coming Back to D.C. to ‘Consult’ with Obama, Congress

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Just five days away from the deadline for a final nuclear agreement with Iran, Secretary of State John Kerry said “very real gaps” remain between P5+1 and Iranian negotiators in Vienna.

“Despite the difficulties of these negotiations, I am confident that the United States and our partners in the P5+1 remain as squarely focused as ever on testing whether or not we can find a negotiated solution to this most pressing international security imperative,” Kerry told reporters today.

He said he’d had “lengthy conversations” with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif over the past few days “about what Iran is willing to do and what it needs to do to not only assure the community of nations, but to adhere to what the foreign minister himself has said repeatedly are Iran’s own limited objectives: not just to declare that they will not obtain a nuclear weapon, but to demonstrate in the actions they take beyond any reasonable doubt that any Iranian nuclear program, now and going forward, is exclusively for peaceful purposes.”

“In these conversations, and indeed over the last almost six months since the Joint Plan of Action took effect, we have made progress. We have all kept the commitments made in the Joint Plan, and we have all lived up to our obligations. We have all continued to negotiate in good faith. But after my conversations here with both Iran and with our P5+1 partners in particular, it is clear that we still have more work to do,” Kerry said.

“Our team will continue working very hard to try to reach a comprehensive agreement that resolves the international community’s concerns. I am returning to Washington today to consult with President Obama and with leaders in Congress over the coming days about the prospects for a comprehensive agreement, as well as a path forward if we do not achieve one by the 20th of July, including the question of whether or not more time is warranted, based on the progress we’ve made and how things are going. As I have said, and I repeat, there has been tangible progress on key issues, and we had extensive conversations in which we moved on certain things. However, there are also very real gaps on other key issues. And what we are trying to do is find a way for Iran to have an exclusively peaceful nuclear program, while giving the world all the assurances required to know that Iran is not seeking a nuclear weapon.”

Members of Congress, including Democrats, have been wary from the beginning of this process of the Obama administration setting the July 20 deadline but secretly expecting that they could extend that indefinitely — while Iran continues to develop its nuclear program.

Kerry insisted that the goal is “realistic,” but “we have not yet found the right combination or arrived at the workable formula.”

Zarif told the New York Times that Iran is willing to accept short-term concessions for longer-term freedom with its nuclear program.

“I am definitively not going to negotiate in public,” Kerry said in response to the story. “I’m not going to comment on any stories with respect to substance one way or the other. The real negotiation is not going to be done in the public eye; it’s going to be done in the private meetings that we’re having, and it is being done there. And I might add these are tough negotiations. The Iranians are strong in their positions. They understand what their needs are, we understand what ours are. Both are working in good faith to try to find a way forward.”

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Obama at Iftar: ‘We Welcome That Debate’ on ‘Heart-Wrenching’ Images from Gaza, Israel

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama told guests at the White House’s annual Iftar dinner tonight that “further escalation” in the Middle East “benefits no one, least of all the Israeli and the Palestinian people.”

Faced with criticism from some Arab and Muslim activists who think he has been too friendly toward the Israeli side, Obama addressed the conflict near the end of his comments, which largely honored “the traditions of one of the world’s great faiths.”

“For all of us, whatever our faiths, Ramadan is a reminder of just how much we share. The values of peace and charity, the importance of family and community — these are universal values. The command to love one another, to uphold justice, and to care for the least among us — these are common threads in our faith traditions,” Obama said.

“…In Islam, there is a hadith that says God helps the servant as long as the servant helps his brother.  In other words, we’re summoned to serve and lift up one another, and that’s the lesson of several of our guests here tonight.”

Guests included Muslim Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.), as well as Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.). Ambassadors from Arab and Muslim-majority countries were also invited.

“The pictures we are seeing in Gaza and Israel are heart-wrenching. People here in the United States care deeply about what’s happening there, and I know there are strong views, as well as differences, about how we should move forward, which is part of American democracy. We welcome that debate. That makes us stronger,” Obama said.

“Our goal has been and continues to be peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. And I will say very clearly, no country can accept rocket fired indiscriminately at citizens. And so, we’ve been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself against what I consider to be inexcusable attacks from Hamas,” he continued. “At the same time, on top of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that we’ve worked long and hard to alleviate, the death and injury of Palestinian civilians is a tragedy, which is why we’ve emphasized the need to protect civilians, regardless of who they are or where they live.”

Obama promised “to continue doing everything we can to facilitate a return to the 2012 cease-fire.”

“We are encouraged that Egypt has made a proposal to accomplish this goal, which we hope can restore the calm that we’ve been seeking. More broadly, however, the situation in Gaza reminds us again that the status quo is unsustainable and that the only path to true security is a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians, where differences are resolved peacefully and in ways that respect the dignity of all people,” he said.

Obama has tried to forge a Mideast peace deal in his second term but the process fell apart when Fatah and Hamas negotiated a unity government. Hamas is on the U.S. foreign terrorist organization list.

“Here at home, even as we’re vigilant in ensuring our security, we have to continue to remain true to our highest ideals. In the United States of America, there is no place for false divisions between races and religions,” the president said. “We are all Americans, equal in rights and dignity, and no one should ever be targeted or disparaged because of their faith.  And that, too, is what makes us stronger.”

 

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BREAKING: Reports Indicate Israel Agrees to Ceasefire

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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After an unprecedented day of attacks from 4 fronts, Sinai, Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, reports indicate that the Israeli government has agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

The Jewish Week reports:

Israeli media is now reporting that Israel has agreed to an Egyptian draft ceasefire proposal. Hamas has not yet replied, but there are hints it may agree.

According to the proposal: There were would be de-escalation of the fighting beginning at 9 a.m. Israel time that would last for 12 hours. That would be followed by a ceasefire for 48 hours. Then delegations from Israel and Hamas would travel to Cairo for peace talks.

Israel has not rejected it, according to the media reports, because this war is seen as an achievement for Israel because it will have ended without Israel suffering any serious damage.

If Hamas were to reject it, Israel then would have international legitimacy to widen the war, according to analysts quoted in the Israeli press.

Early analysis published at the Times of Israel indicates that a deal is unfavorable to Hamas:

…there is some language providing for the opening of the border crossings, and an  easing of movement of people and goods via those crossings as permitted by the  security situation. But that language is almost a direct repetition of the  November 2012 ceasefire terms that brought Operation Pillar of Defense to a  close. Time and again, Hamas’s leaders have been stressing in recent days that “there will be no return to the 2012 ceasefire terms.”

However, Israel’s willingness to accept the ceasefire pins the terrorist organization into a tight corner in the international scene:

Hamas’s problem is that if it rejects the Egyptian proposal it will find itself  unprecedentedly isolated in the international community and the Arab world.  Cairo will accuse it of torpedoing the opportunity for calm, and Jerusalem  will have the legitimacy to mount a ground offensive into Gaza.

…And what of the Netanyahu government? It would seem that most members of the  security cabinet recognize that the Egyptian proposal represents a fair  achievement for Israel, and a significant failure for Hamas.

Will Israel only be pushing off the inevitable, or worse in seeking to negotiate with Hamas? Or is this merely a move by Netanyahu’s government to increase international support for a full-fledged military operation? With an unwilling partner in the White House, and an unlikely negotiating partner in Egypt, only time – or terrorists – will tell.

Update: 6 hours into the unilateral ceasefire, during which time Hamas fired 50 rockets into Israel, Israel has resumed strikes on Gaza. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has condemned Hamas for not accepting the ceasefire. Has Bibi called Hamas’ bluff?

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Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei Hamstrings His Nuclear Negotiators

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Stephen Kruiser

SURPRISE!

A major speech by Iran’s Supreme Leader has limited the ability of the Iranian delegation at high-level nuclear talks to make concessions with six world powers and this could scuttle chances for Tehran to reach an accord to end sanctions, diplomats said.

In a public address filled with technical detail, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said last week Iran needs to significantly increase its uranium enrichment capacity, clashing with the powers’ push for it to be reduced to minimise the risk of nuclear bombmaking, as July 20 deadline for a deal nears.

This is your weekly reminder that behind all of the “we want to play in the polite world” theater Iran occasionally engages in is an anti-Western, Islamic fundamentalist dictator who will kill those who don’t dance for him.

We counter that with a meandering, unfocused approach to this that has gotten so bad Bob Menendez and Linsdey Graham are the Senators calling for a hard line.

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Muslims Call for Boycott of White House Iftar Over ‘Endorsement’ of ‘Israel’s Current Massacre’

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee encouraged Muslims to boycott tonight’s Iftar dinner at the White House in celebration of Ramadan, citing the administration’s support for Israel.

The dinner is scheduled in the State Dining Room for 8:55 p.m., after the sun goes down to break the daily fast in accordance with Islamic law. Ramadan ends July 28.

In a statement, the committee aid the “deplorable situation” in Gaza, “brought on by Israel’s U.S.-sanctioned illegal occupation of Palestine, has received no direct action from President Obama.”

“The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) will not be attending this year’s government iftars and calls upon members of the Arab and Muslim communities to join us in the boycott, including tonight’s White House Iftar hosted by President Barack Obama, given the government’s condoning of the current slaughter of Palestinians in Palestine and the spying of American Arabs and Muslims domestically,” the group said in a statement.

“In the government’s silence, Israel is committing a massacre in Palestine with the possibility of an all-out ground assault. Our American tax dollars have contributed to over 100 civilian casualties as of Monday morning, of which 70% are estimated by the United Nations to be women and children,” continued the statement.

The ADC cited recent reporting from Glenn Greenwald that revealed “the government’s indiscriminate and ongoing criminalization of the community” through NSA spying on some Arab and Muslim community leaders.

“Political engagement is important and having a seat at the table is crucial — but only when that seat is intended to amplify our voice as a community, not tokenize or subdue it… In lieu of this year’s government iftars, ADC asks that senior officials take immediate steps to end Israel’s current military operation in Palestine and abolish the problematic practices of the NSA regarding the illegal surveillance of our community,” said the ADC.

“If President Obama and the U.S. government truly seek to empower and connect with the Arab and Muslim communities, they must provide a forum for such dialogue to take place. While our request for a meeting with Secretary of State John F. Kerry continues to be ignored, we ask that senior officials meet with the community to discuss these important issues. Government iftars, such as the White House Iftar, are highly politicized events that will be taking place in the shadow of the government’s lack of representation of the community, and will provide no room for this productive dialogue.”

Asked about the boycott at the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said the purpose of the Iftar dinner “is to observe a religious tradition that Muslims all around the globe are observing at this time of Ramadan.”

“It also is an opportunity for the president and other senior administration officials to pay tribute to the important role that Muslim Americans play in American communities all across the country,” he said. “There are immigrants to this country from a variety of regions of the world who are Muslim, and it is important for every American to understand that they are critical to the success of our country and inter-woven into the basic fabric that makes United States of America such a unique place to live.”

“We certainly respect the differences that some people may have on this — on these matters, but we would not want that to overshadow the efforts of the president and other senior administration officials to pay tribute to the contribution that so many American Muslims play in their communities.”

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Pro-Palestinian Rioters Corner Jews in Paris Synagogues

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The Times of Israel reports:

Several thousand demonstrators walked calmly through the streets of Paris behind a large banner that read “Total Support for the Struggle of the Palestinian People”.

But clashes erupted at the end of the march on Bastille Square, with people throwing projectiles onto a cordon of police who responded with tear gas. The unrest was continuing early Sunday evening.

Media reports said that hundreds of Jews were trapped inside a synagogue in the area and police units were sent to rescue them.

A person in the synagogue told Israel’s Channel 2 news that protesters hurled stones and bricks at the building, “like it was an intifada.”

The event comes after a firebomb was hurled at a synagogue in the suburbs of Paris this past Friday night. Despite it being Shabbat, there were no injuries and only minor damage occurred. 

On July 8, the day Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, a teenage girl in Paris was physically assaulted by a man with a “Middle Eastern appearance” who pepper sprayed her while shouting, “Dirty Jewess, inshallah you will die.”

France, home to one of the largest Jewish populations in Europe, is second only to Russia in terms of Jewish immigration to Israel. According to Israeli politician and former Soviet political prisoner Natan Sharansky, “Something historic is happening. It may be the beginning of the end of European Jewry.”

According to Israel’s Channel 2 news, Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, has confirmed that anti-Israel rioters attempted to enter two synagogues in central Paris. The rioters were stopped by French police.

Instagram user Jean-Baptiste Soufron posted a video from the Synagogue de la Roquette where pro-Palestinian activists were in the midst of a standoff with French police. One French Instagram user commented, “A shame for France ….far from the land of my childhood.” Another wrote, “The French media are responsible for inciting strong hatred and misinformation.”

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Americans Also Targets in Hamas Attacks

Sunday, July 13th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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The above news clip represents what the average American hears on a daily basis regarding Operation Protective Edge, the latest military spate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has been going on (officially) since 1948. In the span of the 2 minute report, the Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza were mentioned 3 times. What was not mentioned: These civilians have been instructed by their Hamas government to ignore the flyers and phone calls from the Israeli Defense Forces warning citizens to get out of the way of impending rocket attacks in their areas.

While an Israeli mother putting her baby to sleep in a bomb shelter is included in the report, what the reporter didn’t bother to tell you are the number of Israelis currently being hospitalized for shock. Nor did the report include the fact that this is just another day for the residents of Sderot, who’ve received a constant barrage of rockets since Israel relinquished Gaza back to the Palestinians in 2005. That’s nearly a decade of rocket fire, making the generation who grew up under these attacks old enough to train incoming school students in how not to suffer the inevitable PTSD associated with a lifetime of death threats flying through the air and landing in your back yard.

American audiences hear none of this because the majority of American and world media have fallen prey to Hamas’s most powerful ongoing terrorist operation: A disinformation and glasnost campaign designed to destroy western support for Israel through a constant barrage of media bias.

Here is how the disinformation and glasnost campaign has been executed in response to Operation Protective Edge :

Seed of Truth: Palestinian civilians are being killed by Israeli rocket fire in Gaza.

Pack of Lies: Israelis are safely protected in bomb shelters under the Iron Dome while their military targets innocent civilians in the impoverished Gaza Strip.

Ultimate Goal: Encourage American and worldwide support for the Hamas campaign to wipe Israel off the map and eliminate all evidence of the Zionist entity, including the Jewish people and their supporters, from the face of the earth.

The glasnost element is the most perverse. Hamas plays on the western disbelief in the idea of martyrs, portraying these women and children as “innocent civilian victims” of Israeli aggression. When speaking to the non-Western media, these dead are referred to in a term most recently used by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas, “the Gazan martyrs.” Glasnost is the term for glorifying the leader’s image abroad. In this case, Hamas is using the bodies of women and children to shield their missiles in life and glorify their reputations in death.

Some news agencies and opinion sites are catching onto this disinformation campaign, willing to call it “media bias against Israel.” This is more than media bias. This is a calculated effort on the part of Hamas to sway world opinion against the only nation willing to confront and fight against Islamic terror. Therefore, whether the mainstream media is a willing partner in this endeavor makes no matter. The bottom line is, the media is marketing this disinformation to audiences in America and worldwide that are watching blind, with no Iron Dome to protect them.

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House Affirms Support for Israel ‘As It Defends Itself Against Unprovoked Rocket Attacks’

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The House passed a bipartisan resolution by unanimous consent today to support Israel “as it defends itself against unprovoked rocket attacks from the Hamas terrorist organization.”

Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) introduced the resolution two days ago, and it was fast-tracked to the floor with more than 140 co-sponsors.

“I applaud the passage of this bipartisan resolution affirming U.S. support for Israel’s right to defend itself against violence,” said Israel, who is also chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “It demonstrates the strong and unwavering partnership between the U.S. and the State of Israel and sends a clear message to Hamas and other terrorist organizations that acts of terror against Israel will not be tolerated.”

Cole said the House “reinforced its support of our friends in Israel during times of great tension and unrest in the region.”

“Over the last several weeks, Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, putting the lives of our Israeli friends in grave danger. As Israel combats these acts of terror, I am pleased that this resolution shows that America stands behind our friends,” he said. “I am also very proud that the Iron Dome, a joint Israeli-American project that intercepts missiles, has helped in the fight against terror and protected millions of lives. During these times of unrest, this technology is proving indispensable.”

The Iron Dome battery has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Congress since they went into action in 2011.

The resolution “reaffirms [House] support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel, condemns the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel, and calls on Hamas to immediately cease all rocket and other attacks against Israel.”

It included an amendment from House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) noting that Iran is an enabler of Hamas.

“Hamas and their supporters remain committed to armed struggle against Israel’s right to exist–as they deliberately target Israeli population centers using many weapons provided by Iran,” Royce said. “With these threats arrayed against Israel, we will continue stand with the Israeli people.”

A similar resolution has been introduced in the upper chamber by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and is expected to come to the floor for a vote next week.

When asked at today’s briefing if there is anything more the U.S. can do to stop the violence, White House press secretary Josh Earnest noted that President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from Air Force One yesterday.

“The president, in that telephone call, also did something that we have done several times publicly, which is reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks,” Earnest said. “That said, we also condemn the attacks this morning that were launched from Lebanon.”

“In the course of that telephone call, the president also expressed his concern about the risks associated with further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides in this dispute to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm,” he added.

“It is evident that civilians have been killed, including children; that’s tragic and we offer our condolences to the families.”

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Obama Calls Netanyhu for First Time Since Crisis Began

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today for the first time since the murder of three Israeli teens touched off the latest rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

“The president reiterated the United States’ strong condemnation of continuing rocket fire into Israel by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza and reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks. The president expressed concern about the risk of further escalation and emphasized the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm,” the White House said in a readout of the call.

“The United States remains prepared to facilitate a cessation of hostilities, including a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.”

Press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama “once again expressed condolences to the people of Israel on the kidnapping and murder of teenagers Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrach, and Naftali Fraenkel, who was an American and Israeli citizen, and urged that the perpetrators be brought to justice.” Obama expressed those condolences in a statement issued by the White House on June 30.

“The two leaders also discussed the situation in East Jerusalem and the West Bank,” today’s readout continued. “The president welcomed the arrest of suspects in the abduction and murder of Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khdeir and expressed appreciation for the prime minister’s determination to see that they be brought to justice. He expressed concern about the beating and detention of teenage American citizen Tariq Khdeir and acknowledged Israel’s efforts to resolve this case.”

“The two leaders discussed the P5+1 negotiations with Iran and the president reiterated that the United States will not accept any agreement that does not ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes.”

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All Educated Women Are ‘Unoriginal and Common’ — Says Islamic Cleric

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

In order to expose the Islamist and Salafi mindset, Egyptian journalists continue posting and commenting on the assertions and observations made by the various clerics during former President Morsi’s one year reign and earlier, when the “radicals” felt especially free to speak their mind.

One of these, Sheikh Yusuf al-Huwaini—who earlier justified buying and selling captured “infidel” women for sex and said the face of a woman “is like her vagina”—was recently shown on video giving his thoughts on women, intelligence, and knowledge.

After he mocked women who, although wearing proper Islamic attire—including the niqab—still appear on television, including as authoritative hosts, he said the following:

On what basis does a woman appear on a satellite station facing millions of people all around the world?  And what sort of knowledge could this woman have to offer?  Knowledge belongs to men—knowledge belongs to men alone.  Any woman—with all due respect, lest some woman think I’m attacking all—any woman, no matter how high and advanced she appears, is unoriginal and common.

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Time Well Spent? Obama Isn’t Where He Needs to Be

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Nathan D. Lichtman

I’m not going to delve into the situation in Israel. I’m only going to say that I am beyond saddened by the death of the kidnapped teens, appalled by the unleashing of rockets on Israeli cities, and concerned for Israel’s ability to defend herself. I will not even entertain the critics’ argument, that Israel is an aggressor, and deserves carnage and punishment. These arguments are made by people who do not know the history, and who do not have the courage to know what is right. Israel is the only free democracy in the Middle East, the biggest proponent towards peace, and the main funder of Gaza and West Bank services. And Israel is a sworn ally of the US.

This last statement is something President Obama has trouble remembering.

With rockets overhead and bomb sirens becoming a norm, Israel is in crisis. Since the situation escalated, Obama has not even made a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Not any kind of reassuring message, nor any offer of support. Silence.

Remember President Bush, in 2003, said directly to then Prime Minister Sharon, “Israel must not feel constrained in defending the homeland.” But he’s a right-winger! In 1994, President Clinton spoke before the Israeli Knesset (parliament) and said, “Israel must always be able to defend itself,” and reaffirmed the US’ commitment to stand by our ally. So where’s Obama’s statement to the people of Israel? Not even a phone call?!?

Meanwhile, Obama has been in the Southwest of our country. He spoke of the need to reform our immigration policy, and asked for billions of dollars to strengthen border security as he enables a quasi-amnesty anyway. But, he was in Texas. Did he go to see the border he’s talking about? Did he look at what unique factors might need to be taken into account? Did he ask border patrol and local enforcement officers what could best be done?

President Bush did. He toured a long patch of the border in 2006, to ascertain what could be done to assist Federal law enforcement. This is after serving as Governor of Texas.

Obama did not. The Selfie-in-Chief claimed that he did not want to go actually look at our border, because he doesn’t like photo ops.

So he didn’t go to the border, and he hasn’t called Israel. What has our President had time to do in the past few days?

Obama has been watching the World Cup; he even dropped in on a party to cheer on our team. And, he knows how to dial a phone, because he called Soccer players Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey after their loss. And he had a debaucherous night of drinking, billiards, and mustache complimenting, in Denver.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a beer or several. And I have been avidly watching the World Cup—but not in detriment to my job. I would not fail to meet my obligations because I was too busy drinking, partying, and watching sports.

But calling foreign dignitaries and securing our borders are the President’s job responsibilities. Like literally—they are two of the only things the Constitution actually says he should do.

So Obama: it’s time to start putting your responsibilities first.

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California Dem Blasts Al-Jazeera on Al-Jazeera: ‘The Owners of This Network Fund Hamas’

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson
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Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) may not get an invitation to reappear on Al-Jazeera America, but he sure gave the network an earful in the segment he did get this week.

“Every one of those rockets is a war crime… every rocket that is not aimed at a military target but is aimed at a city,” Sherman said on a live feed from Capitol Hill. “The owners of this TV network help fund Hamas.”

He went on to call the Hamas offensive launched against Israel “open season on those of the Jewish faith.”

“The idea that you would have a TV clear effort to kill as many Israeli civilians as possible and then you on this TV station say, ‘well, maybe it’s not a war crime because it’s not successful — the rocket didn’t hit a kindergarten. It was aimed at a kindergarten but it didn’t hit a kindergarten. So then it’s not reprehensible.’”

Sherman defended Israel’s response to the Gaza rockets as “proportionate.”

“I don’t think there are always two sides to every story. Those who are trying to kill as many babies and children and women as possible, who rejoice in their death… no, you have one side in this conflict that is doing everything it possibly can to reduce and avoid civilian casualties and to prosecute those who engage in acts against civilians,” the congressman said.

“And then you have the Hamas side… which of course Qatar supports, which rejoices in how many babies they can kill, how many children they can kill. They name squares and provide subsidies to those who are able to kill civilians and they aim their rockets at civilian targets. That’s not two equal sides.”

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Hagel: Uranium Seized by ISIS ‘Not a Threat Now’

Thursday, July 10th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel indicated the administration isn’t particularly concerned with the uranium seized by ISIS terrorists in Iraq, saying the “old chemicals” aren’t weaponized.

Reuters obtained a letter written to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on July 8 from Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim, in which the envoy asks the world body for help to “stave off the threat” of the use of the 88 pounds of uranium compounds from the University of Mosul by terrorists.

“Terrorist groups have seized control of nuclear material at the sites that came out of the control of the state,” Alhakim wrote, adding that such materials “can be used in manufacturing weapons of mass destruction.”

“These nuclear materials, despite the limited amounts mentioned, can enable terrorist groups, with the availability of the required expertise, to use it separate or in combination with other materials in its terrorist acts,” he added.

“We were aware of that facility,” Hagel told reporters on a stop at the Naval submarine base at King’s Bay, Ga. “We’ve known about it for a number of years. And I think the best way to respond to it is — it is not chemical weapons munitions.”

“They are not weaponized. They’re old chemicals from many years ago,” he continued. “So, we know where they are. We’ve known about them, we’re keeping our eye on them, but again, they’re not munitions and they’re not weaponized.”

Under questioning, Hagel acknowledged that the compounds seized by terrorists are inherently dangerous.

“Well, there are toxins. That’s right. But again, they are not munitions. They are not weaponized. And there’s no question, if you venture into that — that area, there is danger. That’s right. And there is danger for those who happen to wander in there,” the Defense secretary said.

“But they are not a threat now in — in any way as a form of a weapon.”

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Obama Administration Threatens Israel Under Fire

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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What do you do when you’ve got some time to kill in an Israeli bomb shelter? Start a spirited sing along, of course. If you’re a guest in the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem, your song of choice is Oseh Shalom, (A Prayer for Peace): “He who makes peace in High Places, He will make peace for us and for all Israel and let us say, Amen.”

Meanwhile, at the Ha’aretz peace conference (where right-wing Israeli politicians get punched by pacifist leftists), White House Mideast chief Phillip Gordon delineated a series of thinly-veiled threats, so thinly veiled, in fact, that he had to actually include the following phrase in his speech:

Let me be absolutely clear that these are not threats.

No, in fact, they came off more like a public relations campaign issued from a platform granted by an already hot far-Left crowd that makes no bones about their admiration for a two-state solution. Remove the veil and it is plain to see Gordon’s threat: Israel will  ”…embolden extremists on both sides, tear at Israel’s democratic fabric, and feed mutual dehumanization.”

Embracing an HBO-esque mobster tone, Gordon so politely “advised”:

Reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians would help turn the tide of international sentiment and sideline violent extremists, further bolstering Israel’s security. We know all too well the troubles that can arise for Israel internationally when there is no movement on the political track, especially when settlement activity continues to make the potential peace map more difficult and to undermine international support for Israel. On this, I should also be clear of the United States’ longstanding position: we consider settlements illegitimate and an impediment to progress on peace negotiations. Settlement announcements would be a counter-productive reaction to the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers.

…if we fail to come back to peace talks, renewed efforts to isolate Israel internationally and legitimize Palestinian statehood unilaterally are all but certain. The United States will do all it can to fight boycotts and other delegitimization efforts. But in many of these realms, particularly outside the Security Council, our ability to contain the damage is limited, and becoming more and more challenging. This is what American friends of Israel mean when they express concerns about the potential for Israeli isolation if peace talks do not succeed. Let me be absolutely clear that these are not threats. The United States will always have Israel’s back.

One thing is clear from this peace conference speech: Gordon and the Obama administration have Israel’s back …up against a wall. Ironically, peace conference attendees would later run to bomb shelters for cover as sirens indicated another Hamas rocket was on its way. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the same guy Gordon cites as a courageous and reliable peace partner, hasn’t uttered a word to stop his government’s partner from firing in Israel’s direction. Nor has he bothered to reveal that his own Fatah members are joining in the rocket barrage. In fact, the most this “peace partner” can say is, ”it all started when Israel fired back”.

Keep singing in those shelters, Israel. While the American people support you, our administration is failing you. He Who Makes Peace in High Places is our only hope.

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AP: ISIS Has Seized Thousands of Rockets with Chemical Warheads

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

It’s a confirmation of reports in June that ISIS had taken control of a site where some of Saddam’s WMD arsenal remained.

Iraq has informed the United Nations that the Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad where 2,500 chemical rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin or their remnants were stored along with other chemical warfare agents.

Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon circulated Tuesday that “terrorist” groups entered the Muthanna site June 11 and seized weapons and equipment from the protection force guarding the facility.

AP likes its scare quotes. ISIS is a terrorist group that is in the early stages of forming a nation. It’s calling that nation a “caliph” to establish itself as the hub of the Islamic world. Now ISIS is holding some of the WMDs that the likes of AP convinced the world did not even exist.

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Brookings Scholar Tweets: Israel Finally Dupes Hamas into Bombing Israel

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 - by Patrick Poole

Charles Lister of the Brookings Institution is a sought-after expert on the jihadist insurgency in Syria. But this morning he decided to wade into the Israel-Hamas conflict, tweeting out this gem:

Lister-Israel-HamasMissing from Lister’s 140 character analysis, however, is the fact that missiles from Hamas-controlled Gaza have been raining down on Israel all year, with 450 launched so far in 2014 — 250 of those within the past week and 80 yesterday alone. Fully 40 percent of Israel’s population — 3.5 million — live within range of missile strikes from Gaza. The vast majority of missiles launched from Gaza end up hitting non-military targets.

Of particular concern is that Hamas has been the recipient of longer-range missiles from Iran, including the Fajr-5 and the M-75, which has an effective range of 75km. This is why Hamas officials were bragging to the media back in March that in any future confrontation that the “heart of Israel” would be targeted. Just days before that boast, Israel stopped a Gaza-bound ship loaded with 40 long-range rockets that could travel as far as 160km (100 miles).

The 1988 Hamas Covenant also invokes a notorious Hadith calling for the genocide of Jews (article 7):

Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).

Lister is currently a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center, which is funded by the State of Qatar. One of the chief architects of the recent rapprochement between Hamas and Iran (on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict) has reportedly been Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid al-Attiyah, who visited Iran in late February.

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Republican Senator Blocks Paul Effort to Stop Aid to Palestinian Authority

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee blocked an effort by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to stop aid to the Palestinian Authority, saying that the bill shouldn’t be rushed through with unanimous consent.

Paul tried to get consent yesterday for the Stand with Israel Act, which stops all aid while the Palestinian government includes Hamas and refuses to recognize Israel.

But Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said the bill should be considered first by the Foreign Relations Committee, where Paul is a member.

“This is an issue I really believe the committee itself should deal with first,” Corker said.

Propping a photo of the three slain Israeli teens — Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16 — on the Senate floor, Paul resurrected his bill that was originally introduced on April 29. He unsuccessfully called for unanimous consent on the legislation on May 1.

“I don’t believe that foreign aid should go to countries that persecute Christians. I also don’t believe that foreign aid should go to countries that host terrorists within their government. I’ve had this belief for some time, but I’ve met with a great deal of resistance in the Senate,” Paul said. “…Your foreign aid, your hard-earned American tax dollars continue to flow to these countries no matter what their behavior is.”

The senator charged that “foreign aid is so entrenched in our national psyche that it goes on regardless of the behavior.”

“The Democrats came and said no. President Obama doesn’t want to give up the authority to continue sending money to these countries. Well, a week ago, we had another disaster. In Israel, three young teenagers were killed. The response of Hamas was to stand up and cheer. I can give you the direct response of Hamas — their political director said that — ‘Blessed be the hands that captured them,’” Paul said.

“They stood with glee and cheered when these three teenaged boys were killed in cold blood. These were not soldiers. These were civilians. The news reports are that Hamas has joined this unity government precisely because they are bankrupt. They want to get our money. That’s why they are joining the unity government. What is ours? Ours is a tepid please don’t behave that way. But we have no teeth. The same thing in Egypt, the same thing in Pakistan,” he continued.

“Some will argue that foreign aid is a way to project American power. Well, if it is, we ought to be projecting American values. We should project what America stands for. We shouldn’t be saying here’s some money, do with it what you will.”

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More: 

Booker, Paul Aim to Restore Welfare Benefits for Nonviolent Drug Offenders

 

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US ‘Vetted Moderate’ Free Syrian Army Brigades Surrender Weapons, Pledge Allegiance to Islamic State

Monday, July 7th, 2014 - by Patrick Poole

The heart of the Obama Administration’s policy to overthrow Assad in Syria has been the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which has been provided U.S. taxpayer-financed weapons training, small arms, and, most recently, TOW anti-tank missiles.

This has been done under the pretense that the State Department has carefully selected the FSA as “vetted moderates,” ensuring that those weapons wouldn’t end up in the hands of Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

Many, including myself, have scoffed at this policy since the State Department has a poor track record in recent decades of identifying “vetted moderates,” expressing concerns that there was never any guarantee those weapons wouldn’t end up in the hands of terror groups.

But reports emerging from Syria confirm those fears stating that FSA brigades in eastern Syria have surrendered their arms and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State announced recently by ISIS:

Sources and eyewitnesses in the border town of al-Bukamal east Syria informed Zaman Alwasl that many factions affiliated with FSA have pledged allegiance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) amid a huge public attendance, where their weapons have been handed over to “ISIS”.

The source said brigades of Ahl Al Athar, Ibin al-Qa’im, and Aisha have pledged allegiance to the State after clashes that ended quickly for the benefit of ISIS, while the leader of these brigades and factions have fled to the countryside of al-Bukamal into neighboring towns in Deir Ezzor province.

In fairness, the FSA as “vetted moderates” policy has been a laughable bipartisan folly, receiving support from John McCain and Lindsey Graham, among other Republicans.

But past incidents of US-backed FSA weapons caches falling into the hands of ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra over the past year have not prompted any reconsideration of this policy. Thus, it is unlikely that this most recent dramatic setback is going to give either the Obama administration or McCain GOP foreign policy orbit a moment of pause.

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ISIS Caliph Emerges, Threatens Another Holocaust

Monday, July 7th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi used to live in the shadows. But as his ISIS terrorist army is taking over Iraq and President Obama isn’t doing anything about it, al-Baghdadi has come out of hiding to declare himself the caliph.

The State Department said today it has “no reason to doubt” that the shadowy leader of a powerful Iraqi terror group revealed himself before a crowded mosque over the weekend, providing the first clear picture of the violent extremist who now believes himself to be the prince of all Muslims.

For years the public only saw Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State (IS) formerly known as ISIS or ISIL, in a couple grainy pictures, like the one posted on the U.S. Rewards for Justice program wanted poster offering $10 million for information leading to his capture. But Friday a man looking very much like al-Baghdadi stepped into the spotlight, giving a fiery sermon at a mosque in the Iraqi city of Mosul in which he called for all Muslims to follow him.

“I was cursed with this great endeavor,” a 21-minute video of the event shows the man saying in Arabic. “Obey me in my obedience to God, disobey me if I disobey God.”

Al-Baghdadi’s ISIS group is threatening to unleash a new Holocaust.

A Twitter post Thursday by supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), now calling itself the Islamic State (IS), has promised a Holocaust against the Jews.

“The Real Zionist Holocaust is Predicted in the Hadiths! The Hour [resurrection] will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews and the Muslims kill them, and the tree will say: “Oh, Muslim, servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, kill him! THE PROMISED Holocaust,” the terrorist group’s Islamic State Media a graphic posted on its @ISIS_Conquests’s Twitter account said.

This hadith has proven popular with Islamic extremists of all stripes, ranging from IS toHamas – and even on television in the Middle East.

Daniel Pipes, an expert on jihadism, said the hadith likely was a recruitment tool.

“​Yes, ​calling for a holocaust against Jews refers to a violently anti-Semitic strain among jihadis and will surely appeal to some of them,” Pipes said in an email to the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

Want some comfort in this dangerous world? Here’s the US Central Intelligence Agency, showing the world that they’re on this ISIS threat.

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What an Islamic Caliphate Would Mean for the West

Monday, July 7th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim


I was recently interviewed by CBN News’ George Thomas on the rise of the Islamic State, its aspirations for caliphate, and what all that means for free peoples around the world:

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Intel Community Unified on Threat of ‘Largest and Richest Enclave of Radical Terrorism in History’

Monday, July 7th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who just returned from Afghanistan with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), says the intelligence community is unified in its assessment that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL) is a direct threat to the United States.

“According to director of national intelligence, the FBI director and most of our intelligence community, ISIS presents a direct threat to the homeland in Syria, now Iraq,” Graham told CBS on Sunday. “Americans and Western Europeans are going to help their cause. And they can flow back here. So, yes, they are a direct threat to the homeland and they’re getting much stronger as we speak.”

“I think it’s important to recognize that we did have this situation stabilized, thanks to the surge, that we could have left a residual force behind which would have stabilized the situation,” McCain said.

“This is not like a hurricane or an earthquake. This didn’t have to happen. This is a failure of United States policy. And, by the way, there still is none that I can discern, either a policy or a strategy, to handle this situation.”

McCain called the new caliphate, which encompasses an area stretching across Syria and Iraq that eclipses the size of Jordan, “the largest and richest enclave of radical terrorism in history.”

“And one of the things that we need to do, of course we want Maliki to be replaced, but we got to stop ISIS first. And that means that we’re going to have to do airstrikes. And we need to step up our support for the Free Syrian Army that is really right now getting very badly beaten,” McCain said.

“…You’re going to see the same result in Afghanistan. We just came back from there. They feel abandoned.”

“I think the big fear I have about what we’re doing in Afghanistan is that we have great capability now. We can watch a part of the world that is a safe haven for terrorists. Thirteen years after 9/11, there are more safe havens. There are more terrorist groups with more weapons and more capabilities than before 9/11, and we’re having less capability, less presence,” Graham said.

“If we get down to 1,000 troops by 2017, and dismantle our eyes and ears in Afghanistan and Pakistan, it will haunt us far worse than Iraq. The counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan is a front-line defense against — for the homeland and it is being destroyed by this idea of leaving completely in 2017,” he continued.

“Mr. President, reverse your course. Keep our counterterrorism capabilities in effect to protect us here at home.”

McCain stressed that they’re not advocating combat troops.

“We’re advocating leaving sustaining capability to give them the capabilities that they don’t have right now,” he said.

Related: 

DHS Secretary: ‘Obviously We’re Concerned Any Time a Terrorist Organization Acquires Territory’

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Obama’s Secret Directive Supporting Global Islamism

Monday, July 7th, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

recent Gulf News report sheds some light on how and why the United States helped bring the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies to power, followed by all the subsequent chaos and atrocities in the Mideast region.

Large portions of the report follow with my commentary interspersed for added context:

Dubai: For the past decade, two successive US administrations have maintained close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Libya, to name just the most prominent cases.

The Obama administration conducted an assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2010 and 2011, beginning even before the events known as the “Arab Spring” erupted in Tunisia and in Egypt. The President personally issued Presidential Study Directive 11 (PSD-11) in 2010, ordering an assessment of the Muslim Brotherhood and other “political Islamist” movements, including the ruling AKP in Turkey, ultimately concluding that the United States should shift from its longstanding policy of supporting “stability” in the Middle East and North Africa (that is, support for “stable regimes” even if they were authoritarian), to a policy of backing “moderate” Islamic political movements (emphasis in bold added throughout).

And we have certainly witnessed this shift.  Chaos and the Islamic ascendancy in the Middle East and North Africa never flourished as under the Obama administration—and precisely because the administration shifted from supporting stability under secular-minded autocrats.

The most significant example of this is how the Obama administration threw Hosni Mubarak—a U.S. ally for three decades—under the bus in order to support the Islamists, most specifically the Muslim Brotherhood.  And we saw how that ended—with another revolution, hailed as the largest revolution in human history, with the average Egyptian accusing Obama of being a terrorist supporter.

To this day, PSD-11 remains classified, in part because it reveals an embarrassingly naïve and uninformed view of trends in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

“Embarrassingly naïve and uninformed view” is synonymous with the “orthodox and mainstream view pushed forth by Mideast studies professors and academics,” especially those with political influence, such as the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies of Georgetown University, in Washington D.C.  Such programs, which I’m only too well acquainted with, begin with false—that is, “embarrassingly naïve and uninformed”—premises, namely: that the source of all the region’s woes are (formerly) U.S.-propped autocrats (reality is that dictators don’t create such societies but rather are the natural outcome of Islamic societies and are the ones most prone to keeping law and order—compare Iraq under Saddam and Iraq now, as a “democracy,” with “ISIS” proclaiming a caliphate).

Mideast academics have also long spearheaded the idea that there are “moderate” Islamists and “radical” Islamists, and that the U.S. should work with the former (in reality they are all radical—to be an Islamist is to be radical—the only difference is that the “moderate” Islamists don’t wear their radicalism on their sleeves, even as they work toward the same goals that the more open “radicals” work for, namely, a Sharia-enforcing caliphate)… Keep reading

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GOP, Dem Reps Visit Netanyahu, But No Call from Obama

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Two members of Congress met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today to convey their condolences for the killings of three teens and to express their support for Israel.

Eyal Yifrach, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Frenkel, 16, were kidnapped from the kibbutz Kfar Etzion in the West Bank on June 12. Naftali was a dual citizen with an American passport. Their bodies were discovered this week.

The visit from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, comes as the White House said Wednesday that President Obama had not called Netanyahu.

“I don’t have any calls to read out at this point, or any calls to give you an indication that we’re planning — but as we consider calls like that, we always have a discussion about whether to read them out and if we’re in a position to do so, I’ll make sure that you guys are informed,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

Following their meeting with Netanyahu, Ros-Lehtinen and Deutch said in a joint statement that “these last few days have been a trying and difficult time for the people of Israel after the bodies of three of their sons were found.”

“As an entire nation mourned, we mourned with it. We conveyed our deepest sympathies to Prime Minister Netanyahu and reaffirmed to our closest ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel, that the United States stands firmly with it as it struggles to cope with the tragic loss of Eyal, Naftali and Gilad and as it seeks to bring the perpetrators to justice,” the lawmakers said.

Deutch and Ros-Lehtinen also discussed with Netanyahu “the threats that Israel faces as the stability of the region continues to deteriorate.”

“The growing threat of extremism in Syria and Iraq, and the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear weapons program, could have severe repercussions throughout the region, and these toxic obstacles put both Israel and U.S. national security interests at risk,” they said. “We vowed to continue our unwavering support for the people of Israel and their safety and security, and will do whatever we can to ensure Israel maintains her qualitative military edge so that she can defend herself from all threats.”

At a eulogy for the boys on Tuesday, Netanyahu reminded mourners that “a deep and wide moral abyss separates us from our enemies.”

“They sanctify death while we sanctify life. They sanctify cruelty while we sanctify compassion,” he said. “This is the secret of our strength; it is the foundation of our unity.”

 

 

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The Obama Arc of Assad

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Assad regime was an enemy of the United States for decades. The gangsters sided with Saddam, they sided with Iran, they helped out Hizballah, they fomented violence in Lebanon, they have been an enemy of Israel. Nasty people.

Until Hillary Clinton came along. When she was Secretary of State of the United States, she labeled baby Assad a “reformer.”

That was too ridiculous for the Washington Post to swallow.

“There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”

–Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, on “Face the Nation,” March 27, 2011

It was also too ridiculous for Clinton to defend.

“I referenced opinions of others. That was not speaking either for myself or for the administration.”

–Clinton, two days later

If you didn’t agree with those opinions, why did you tout them? Why give them a bipartisan veneer?

Time goes by, Assad the “reformer” dictator faces an Arab Spring uprising, and pretty soon he’s a gas-spewing monster who must go.

President Obama and European leaders called Thursday for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign, after months of his violent crackdown on protesters. The rhetorical escalation was backed by new U.S. sanctions designed to undermine Assad’s ability to finance his military operation.

“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way,” Obama said in a written statement. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Time goes by, ISIS rises up in Syria and Iraq, establishes a caliphate, chops off some heads, threatens the world, shows off some captured SCUDs, does what Islamists do — and now the Obama government has a strange new respect for one Bashar Assad.

As President Obama slowly but surely increases the U.S. military presence on the ground in Iraq, his administration is grappling with the immediate need to stop the ISIS advance and push for a political solution in Baghdad. The 3 1/2-year grinding civil war is Syria has been put on a back burner for now. Some officials inside the administration are proposing that the drive to remove Assad from power, which Obama announced as U.S. policy in 2012, be set aside, too. The focus, these officials argue, should instead be on the region’s security and stability. Governments fighting for survival against extremists should be shored up, not undermined.

“Anyone calling for regime change in Syria is frankly blind to the past decade; and the collapse of eastern Syria, and growth of Jihadistan, leading to 30 to 50 suicide attacks a month in Iraq,” one senior Obama administration official who works on Iraq policy told The Daily Beast.

In effect, the American government has been in a limited partnership with the Assad regime for almost a year. The U.S., Russian, and Syrian governments made a deal last September to destroy Assad’s stockpile of chemical weapons—and relied on Damascus to account for and transport those weapons, in effect legitimizing his claim to continued power.

Indeed. That legitimized Putin in the same stroke. It enhanced his standing in the Middle East too.

So here we are now, allying with a reformer gas-weapons using monster who must go, but who also must stay, at least for now.

Supposing that ISIS is defeated and Assad hangs on, which is a big leap at this point, do we then go and invoke the “responsibility to protect” that got us involved in Libya and topple the gas-spewing-reformist-monster-who-must-go-except-when-we-need-him-to-stay?

 

 

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