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McKeon: White House Request That Congress Repeal Iraq Force Authorization ‘Past Absurd,’ ‘Dangerous’

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee ripped into the White House for trying to lobby House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on a vote today regarding the authorization of military force in Iraq, noting “if the administration fought terrorists with half the tenacity they fight straw men, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”

The resolution from Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Walt Jones (R-N.C.) directed President Obama “pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove United States Armed Forces, other than Armed Forces required to protect United States diplomatic facilities and personnel, from Iraq.”

It passed 370-40, with 37 Republicans and three Democrats voting against the resolution.

National Security Advisor Susan Rice sent Boehner a letter before the vote stressing that Obama has “made clear that if American interests are threatened, ‘we will be prepared to take targeted and precise military action if and when we determine that the situation on the ground requires it.’ The President has made exceedingly clear that he will consult closely with Congress and leaders in Iraq and in the region.”

“While we understand the House of Representatives will consider this resolution that supports the President’s position, we believe a more appropriate and timely action for Congress to take is the repeal of the outdated 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force in Iraq (P.L. 107-243),” Rice continued. “With American combat troops having completed their withdrawal from Iraq on December 18, 2011, the Iraq AUMF is no longer used for any U.S. government activities and the Administration fully supports its repeal. Such a repeal would go much further in giving the American people confidence that ground forces will not be sent into combat in Iraq.”

Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said when Boehner told him about the Rice letter, “I thought he was joking.”

“Obama Administration officials are warning us daily that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is ‘worse than al-Qaeda’ and an extreme threat to the American people. The American people aren’t worried that the president will send the military back to Iraq. They’re worried about a deadly terrorist state that can hit us from Wall Street to Main Street. They’re worried that this president refuses to do anything, at anytime, in any way, to stop the flood of national security crises that are popping up around the globe,” McKeon said.

“Why on earth is the president’s national security advisor pleading with Congress to help build Americans’ confidence that the president will not confront a clear and present danger to the United States? He needs no help there. Where is her plan to stop this looming threat? Where is her request for additional intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets to monitor the situation? Why isn’t she over here, building support to stop a common enemy? Why is she fighting Congress instead of ISIS? Why on earth is she refighting the 2003 Iraq War in 2014?”

McKeon said Rice’s move “isn’t just absurd.”

“We’re past absurd. This is dangerous. This administration is fiddling while the world burns, and now they’re demanding Congress play with them,” he said.

“If the administration fought terrorists with half the tenacity they fight straw men, we wouldn’t be in this mess. It is my sincere hope that someone comes to their senses on Pennsylvania Avenue, before something worse happens.”

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Gallup: If You Oppose Israel, You’re Probably an Uneducated Democrat

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Gallup has released a new poll on Americans’ opinions of the conflict in Gaza. It’s no surprise that Republicans tend to side with Israel, and Democrats tend to believe that Israel’s military actions against Hamas are unjustified. Fully 47% of Democrats take that view, compared with just 31% who back Israel. That, plus independent voters’ ambivalence toward Israel, helps explain why the Obama administration is not backing Israel more strongly than calling for a (now rejected) cease-fire. Their base does not back Israel.

The educational differences on the issue are found in this chart.

gallup-israel-education

 

The more educated one is, the more likely one is to believe that Israel is taking justified action against Hamas terrorists.

Younger Americans tend to go left on everything from socialism to redefining marriage, and lack of support for democratic Israel against Hamas terrorists is no exception. This is despite Israel’s long history of supporting women’s and minority rights, while the Palestinians side with extremism that denies women and non-Muslims their rights.

This poll is a warning: If the rising millennial generation doesn’t change its attitudes in a hurry, Israel cannot count on American support for more than few more years.

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Terrorist Tycoons: Meet Hamas’ Richest Men

Friday, July 25th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Palestinians project an image of poverty and powerlessness to the world. While most Palestinians do live in poverty, especially when compared to their Israeli neighbors, Globes profiles several Hamas leaders who have used their positions to amass incredible wealth while their own people suffer.

Hamas’ terrorist tycoons include Dr. Musa Abu Marzook. He was a US-based Hamas fundraiser who was arrested for supporting terrorism in 1995. After serving two years in prison, he was freed and allowed to leave. Marzook kept the money he raised for Hamas, left the US and resides in Gaza. He is estimated to be worth $2 to $3 billion now and maintains numerous ties to terrorists including al Qaeda, according to the Globes report.

Marzook is followed closely in wealth by Khaled Mashaal, who is estimated to be worth about $2.6 billion.

Following them is one of Hamas’ most public faces, Ismail Haniyeh. He is said to be worth about $4 million, which he has registered in the names of various family members to conceal the true size of his fortune.

According to Globes:

The question of where these officials got their money exposes the corrupt system used by Hamas through its control of the money pipelines in the Gaza Strip. They treated the money as their own personal possession. “Most of the money that went into the pockets of people in the Gaza Strip was obtained through tunnel deals and the creation of a flourishing smuggling market, which it is believed has created several hundred millionaires in the Gaza Strip, although most of the people there don’t live like that. The man pulling the strings from Egypt with the tunnels is none other than the number two man in the Muslim Brotherhood, Khairat el-Shater. His connection with Hamas was ostensibly for Islamic religious purposes, but they actually built a prosperous business, which earned phenomenal profits,” Elad says.

The Arshaq Al-Awsad (Middle East) newspaper, one of the most prestigious in the Arab world, recently reported that at least 600 millionaires were living in the Gaza Strip – the same people sitting on the money pipelines there.

Elad describes how the system worked and to how much money (huge amounts) Hamas leaders were exposed: “Senior Hamas leaders charged a 25% ‘tax’ and $2,000 on every disassembled vehicle coming through the tunnels. There are hundreds of smuggling tunnels from Egypt to Gaza, and these are the types of tunnel Israel has been less busy in destroying, because Egypt has destroyed many of them. From June 2007 until 2010, $800 million in cash was transferred in tunnel deals (according to information from Hamas money traders). Hamas also taxes Gaza merchants on everything traded, from boxes of vegetables to luxury cars, and the leaders scoop the money into their pockets.”

In summary, Elad says, “This is corruption at the highest level… What has united the Palestinian leaders all throughout the years is the saying, ‘We have to get rich quick.’ This is how the regime sees it. Their leaders have no shame.

The PLO’s Yasser Arafat was reportedly worth $1 billion when he died.

In addition to its graft, oppression and corruption, Palestinian leaders also live on money provided to them by the United States and Europe. The US and Europe pay hundreds of millions in aid to the Palestinians every year, mostly through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Some of that aid ends up in the hands of the Palestinian government, including Hamas, despite US law against supporting terrorism and despite the fact that Hamas is still a designated terrorist organization. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Israel this week pledging $47 million more aid to the Palestinians, while calling for a cease-fire as Israel pounds Hamas forces, tunnels and weapons caches.

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Deli Food for Thought

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Nathan D. Lichtman

Israel hasn’t been feeling the love lately. Not only are they in the midst of a literal war with Hamas, but also a PR war. I already wrote about how long it took President Obama to even make a phone call to Prime Minister Netanyahu, but his failure to lead has gotten worse, and has dictated another response from me.

This FAA debacle is indicative of an Administration that is throwing around its political leverage to bully Israel into succumbing to their harmful cease-fire demands. They prohibited all US flights from landing at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. They haven’t even prohibited flights to Moscow, Kiev, or anywhere near Ukraine—and we just witnessed a plane shot out of the sky there! But Israel gets flights canceled?!?

John Kerry’s lobbying hard for a cease-fire arrangement, which would be more restrictive and harmful to Israel than the Egyptian one…which Israel accepted. Think about that: Egypt, a country that has traditionally not gotten along with Israel, is promoting a less-harsh cease-fire than the US Secretary of State.

Meanwhile, a coincidence—Israel gets flights banned. I think it’s more than a coincidence.

Israel relies heavily on tourism. In 2013, Israel had 3.5 million visitors, which propelled the market to a $12 billion industry. The situation in Israel has already slammed its tourism profits. According to a Yahoo Travel article: “’It is devastating us economically,’ said Leon Avigad, the developer of Brown Hotels, a small collection of boutique hotels in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. ‘We are losing tons of money by the minute. The entire profit from the summer is wiped out.’” And Avigad said these things in the days leading up to the flight ban.

So the FAA, under Obama, really hit Israel where it hurts. An already suffering tourism trade, and they ban flights… Doesn’t seem like how we should be treating one of our top allies.

Obama is flexing his muscles, likely because he can’t seem to get away with it against Putin. Israel, he thinks, is one situation he can dominate. His egotistical and radical nature leads him to assert himself into this problem, not on Israel’s side, but by condemning them with bad cease-fire proposals and by essentially threatening them economically.

It’s no wonder why Marc Schulman, of Newsweek, reports, “On a number of different levels, there is a growing sense of frustration with the Obama administration among average Israelis.”

So, rather than stay in Washington and deal with these problems, Obama went on another fundraising trip these past couple days. This time, he came to my neck of the woods—Los Angeles. Probably to get some of that big-time Hollywood money for the Democrats.

As an aside, his motorcade has been mucking up the traffic here pretty badly, even getting the nickname “Obamajam.” They even closed down a street, keeping a woman from crossing while in labor. He wasn’t even at the scene while this was going on.

But back on topic, the Jewish community here, in LA, is very close to the events in Israel, with pro-Israel rallies going on often and with much fervor. I, personally, attended New Community Jewish High School in the San Fernando Valley area of the city, and just found out that a fellow alumnus has been hospitalized after a bomb went off near him in Gaza. Max Levin was serving as a part of the Israeli Defense Forces, when the incident occurred. He is in stable condition, but wounded. I don’t know him, as he graduated several years after I did, but it touches the community. Out of my small private high school alone, 26 alumni currently serve in the IDF.

So with Obama being seen as a hindrance to Israeli needs, or maybe even a counterforce, what did he do while here?

Our photo-op-in-chief went to the famous Canter’s Deli, a Jewish deli that’s been in the predominantly Jewish Fairfax district for almost 85 years. The patronizing President figured he would show his support for the Jewish community by eating a rye bread sandwich and schmoozing.

I cannot believe the condescension he is exposing here, especially just after telling Governor Perry that he doesn’t participate in photo-ops.

We need a leader, not a schmoozer, and we need a President who will stand up for our allies.

Oy gevalt!

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Caliphate Adds Tourism Sector with Passport-Free Travel

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

isistour

The Islamic State has added a tourism sector to lure the ummah to the large swath of territory ISIS seized in Syria and Iraq:

Running twice-weekly tours from Syria’s Raqa to Iraq’s Anbar, ISIS buses fly the group’s black flag and play militant songs throughout the journey.

One of the first clients was Chechen militant Abu Abdel Rahman al-Shishani, aged 26, who took his new Syrian wife on honeymoon, according to activist Hadi Salameh.

“Just after they got married, he took her to Anbar. These militants are very romantic,” Salameh joked.

But the two weren’t able to sit together, because “women sit in the back, and men at the front. The bus driver plays militant songs all through the ride, and the ISIS black flag flies over the bus.”

ISIS proclaimed a “caliphate” last month straddling Iraq and Syria. According to a rebel from eastern Syria, the tours started operating immediately afterwards.

…Salameh said the group’s tour buses “start their journey in Tal Abyad (on Syria’s Turkish border) and end in Iraq’s Anbar. You can get off wherever you want, and you don’t need a passport to cross the border.”

The activist, who lives in Raqa and uses a pseudonym to avoid retribution from IS, told AFP via the Internet the company is for profit.

“Of course it’s not free. The price varies, depending on how far you go on the bus,” Salameh said.

Clientele has primarily been foreign fighters who speak English; a translator on board points out the sights. Tours run on Wednesdays and Sundays.

No word on whether this is one of the caliphate’s tour guides:

 

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Is Tech Site Mashable.com Siding with Hamas Terrorists?

Thursday, July 24th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Mashable.com, one of the largest tech and culture websites on the planet, appears to be taking a side in the ongoing war in Gaza.

The site best known for posts about things buried in software user agreements and happy photo ops with the president who claims that he isn’t interested in photo ops is taking a decidedly pro-Hamas editorial point of view as it and Israel fight in Gaza.

That war started when terrorists linked to Hamas, which is itself categorized as a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department and the European Union, kidnapped three Israeli teenagers and later executed them. One of those teenagers, 16-year-old Naftali Frankel, also had American citizenship.

On June 14, when Mashable reported on the boys’ kidnapping, in describing Hamas it put “terrorist group” in scare quotes.

Even after the boys’ bodies were discovered, Mashable made sure to distance Hamas from the murders.

Hamas soon began to launch some of its estimated 10,000 to 20,000 rockets at Israeli population centers. Israel has responded with an air, land and sea campaign to destroy Hamas’ tunnels and its rocket arsenal.

Israel is going out of its way to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas places civilian casualties at the center of its strategy. Hamas targets Israel’s civilians, and it places its weapons close to Palestinian schools and hospitals to force Israel to choose between risking killing Palestinian civilians to destroy those weapons, or leave its own civilians at risk if it does not destroy those weapons. If Palestinian civilians die in Israeli attacks, they become part of the group’s propaganda. If Israel decides not to strike Hamas weapons caches near civilian targets, then some Israelis will be attacked with those very weapons.

Mashable’s coverage of the conflict has tilted away from Israel, the Middle East’s sole democracy and one in which Arabs can become full citizens, and toward Hamas terrorists. Where Hamas rules, as in much of the Islamic world, Christians and Jews are at best second-class, are systematically persecuted and are often subjected to pogroms.

In an Associated Press story on the “disappearance” of rockets that Hamas hid in UN schools to which Mashable contributed reporting, the AP and Mashable hide the lead down in the sixth paragraph, and even then avoid calling Hamas what it is.

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. secretary-general on Wednesday said he was “alarmed” to hear that rockets were placed in a U.N.-run school in Gaza, and now “have gone missing.” He also demanded a full review of such incidents.

A spokesperson for Ban Ki-moon expressed the U.N. chief’s “outrage and regret” at the placement of weapons at a site run by the global organization. This has happened at least twice so far in the current conflict, according to the U.N.

“Those responsible are turning schools into potential military targets, and endangering the lives of innocent children,” U.N. staff and anyone seeking shelter, the statement said.

The rockets had been placed at one of the schools run by the U.N. refugee agency for Palestinians, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza (UNRWA).

Once they were found, “in accordance with standard practice, UNRWA handed them over to the local authorities. Since then, they have gone missing,” Ban’s deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said in an email Wednesday evening.

The Islamic militant group Hamas controls Gaza. The U.S., Israel and the European Union all consider Hamas a terrorist organization, but the U.N. does not.

The entire story is written to hide what Hamas was doing — hiding its rockets in UN-run schools, rockets it uses against Israel’s civilian population. Both of those acts are war crimes.

In the most biased story Mashable has run on the conflict to date, the site takes cues from Pallywood and puts a dying Palestinian child front and center. This is the kind of propaganda story Hamas hopes comes from Israel exercising its duty to defend its people.

In “‘Am I Going to Die, Daddy?’ The Child in Gaza Asked,” reporter Jon Snow states that “If the Israelis have proved anything, it is that there is no such thing as a forensic strike.” Snow never allows for the fact while Israel tries to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas feeds on them.

After chronicling several heart-breaking cases of kids caught up in the crossfire, Snow rhetorically asks “Can they really be the acceptable collateral damage of targeting militants?”

The tone of the entire piece puts the moral responsibility for all casualties in Gaza not on Hamas, the terrorist group that is still dedicated to destroying Israel and which started the current conflict, but on Israel.

Snow ends his piece with this:

I was amazed to find a small sachet of shampoo as I went to a cold shower tonight — salty again. Obviously, you cannot make bombs out of shampoo and so there is no embargo on it. But clearly you can make bombs from paint because there isn’t any. This is the most wretchedly unpainted urban place I have ever been.

And beyond it all, why won’t they talk? This cannot go on. It is the children, tomorrow’s Palestinians, who are paying the price.

Today’s and tomorrow’s Israelis are paying a price too, are they not? You wouldn’t know it from reading Jon Snow, or indeed anything published at Mashable.

Snow’s piece fits well within Hamas’ anti-Israel propaganda. Why is a tech site like Mashable publishing it?

The closest that the site gets to fair reporting is probably this piece on Jews and Arabs who are making friends and more despite the conflict. Even this piece, though, plays up Arabs’ peaceful intent and ignores the anti-Semitism that pervades Arab culture and communications around the world.

The fact is, whether Mashable is aware of it or not, Palestinian voters elected Hamas to power knowing full well that that would mean war with Israel. And polls find that Palestinians continue to want to destroy Israel.

In the current war, Hamas and the Palestinians who still support Hamas are getting what they want.

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Schumer, Graham, Cardin to Obama: Don’t Force Israel Into Cease-Fire that Doesn’t ‘Remove’ Rocket Threat

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Two Democratic senators joined Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) today in insisting that President Obama not force any cease-fire in the Middle East that leaves Israel in danger of rocket attacks.

Graham, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) wrote to Obama that “the threats posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels whose only purpose is to kill and kidnap Israelis are intolerable, and Israel must be allowed to take any actions necessary to remove those threats.”

Obama dispatched Secretary of State John Kerry, who met today with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to forge a cease-fire agreement.

The senators wanted to impress upon Obama their “strong belief that any viable cease fire in Gaza must remove the threat to Israel posed by Hamas rockets and tunnels.”

“Any cease fire should create a situation in which Israeli citizens no longer face the threat of brazen terrorist attacks,” they wrote. “Israeli citizens have faced over 1800 rocket launches from Hamas since June. While Iron Dome has saved countless lives, over five million Israelis live in fear of incoming rockets fired indiscriminately from Gaza. Twenty-eight tunnels have been discovered by the IDF since the ground operation in Gaza began. Israel has an absolute right to defend its citizens and ensure the survival of the State of Israel.”

“…Any effort to broker a ceasefire agreement that does not eliminate those threats cannot be sustained in the long run and will leave Israel vulnerable to future attacks.”

Schumer, Graham and Cardin stressed to Obama that Israel “has taken great pains to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties.”

“The IDF has used text messages, leaflet drops, phone calls, and other methods to clear out areas before attacks. The same cannot be said about Hamas. Their rockets have only one purpose: to kill as many innocent Israelis as possible. At the same time, they use their own civilians as human shields by placing missile launchers next to schools, hospitals, mosques, and private homes. The Hamas interior ministry has called on Gaza residents to ignore IDF warnings to get out of harm’s way,” they continued.

“The human toll in this crisis is tragic. Both Palestinian and Israeli civilians are dying because of the distorted priorities of the leaders of a terrorist organization whose primary goal is to destroy Israel. We must do everything possible to ensure they do not succeed.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said today that “obviously our top priority is getting a ceasefire and achieving a ceasefire.”

“What the contours of that ceasefire will look like, I’m obviously not going to outline. But longer term, the issue of rocket fire does need to be addressed. We’re very serious about that. Again, how that looks like, what that looks like, I’m not going to get into the details of that either,” Harf said.

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Images of Syrian Victims Poached for Hamas Propaganda

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

More than 170,000 people have been killed in Syria as the world has largely ignored the slaughter. So, Hamas figured it could poach some of those victims for its own use without the world noticing:

 

 

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Survey Says Millennials Think Socialism is a Joke

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

The Reason Foundation just released a survey proving the failure of the American public education system. But, according to Derek Thompson in The Atlantic, we might as well just laugh at it:

3. Far less important, but entertaining nonetheless: Millennials don’t know what socialism is, but they think it sounds nice.

I predict that any readers over the age of 30 will absolutely love this fact about voters under the age of 29. Forty-two percent of Millennials think socialism is preferable to capitalism, but only 16 percent of Millennials could accurately define socialism in the survey.

Say what you want about the tenets of national socialism, dude, at least it’s an ethos that young people can define in an Internet survey.

A number of my PJMedia colleagues jumped on the survey with the usual complaint that “kids these days” want everything handed to them on a silver platter. Conservatives in general fail to address the far more creepy comedic love affair with socialism because we fail to understand the media that informs the Millennial generation.

Case in point: The “Jon Stewart takes on Gaza” debacle. Times of Israel editor David Horovitz did an excellent job ripping the comedian to shreds for his stereotypical, biased account of the meanie Israelis versus the poor Palestinians. Conservative media proceeded to join in the dissection 15 years too late. From the day he took the anchor’s chair on the set of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has attempted to be the court jester of the hipster elite. An admitted leftist, he was a psych major turned stand-up comedian who makes no bones about being a professional satirist – nothing more. Yet, the bulk of the millennial news audience share goes to Stewart and his former Daily Show co-star, Colbert Report comic actor Stephen Colbert. Knowing this, why should we be the least bit surprised that Millennials are laughing about the real issues facing the world and our country today, including socialism?

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Dem Chairmen to Obama: Don’t Wait for Europe to Get Tough on Russia as National Security is at Stake

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

A trio of Senate Democratic chairmen channeled their “outrage over the wanton destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17″ today to directly ask President Obama to consider designating the Donetsk People’s Republic a foreign terrorist organization.

Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Obama to impose broad sanctions on Russia’s defense sector as well as energy and finance industries.

“Evidence compiled since the crash, along with efforts to hide evidence and block international investigators, indicates the culpability of Russia and the separatist militants it supports in Ukraine. The attack on the Malaysia Airlines jet follows the downing of a Ukrainian AN-26 transport plane three days earlier, as well as the shooting down of a Ukrainian SU-25 attack jet and the downing of several Ukrainian government helicopters –  the Donetsk People’s Republic has claimed responsibility for each of these acts,” the senators wrote.

They noted how the separatists have controlled the crash site with many bodies uncollected after six days, tampered with evidence and scooped up the flight recorders before OSCE investigators could get their hands on them.

“President Putin may have publicly stated that all sides should allow an investigation into the downed airliner, but Russia’s actions belie his words,” the chairmen wrote. “These contemptible actions cannot go unanswered.  We strongly urge you to aggressively exercise your authorities under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and other relevant statutes to impose immediate broad sanctions against Russia’s defense sector, including state-owned Rosboronexport, in order to prevent Russia from providing weaponry, equipment, or assistance and training to separatists in Ukraine.”

The Russian arms giant that has been the target of so much consternation in Congress since President Obama lifted its sanctions in 2010 recently marketed to Malaysia the Buk missile system believed to have taken down the Malaysia Airlines jet.

Lawmakers have been trying to block U.S. funds from lining the pockets of Rosoboronexport — Russia’s state-owned arms behemoth that has raked in more than $1 billion in Defense Department contracts since 2011. President George W. Bush had placed a ban on doing business with the firm in 2008.

“We further urge you to explore the possibility of designating the Donetsk People’s Republic as a foreign terrorist organization. Increasing evidence of their human rights violations in Eastern Ukraine – including abductions and torture – demonstrates that their actions have threatened the lives of innocent Ukrainians, not to mention those unfortunate innocents merely traveling in civilian airspace over Ukraine,” the senators wrote.

“We understand and strongly support your efforts to coordinate the imposition of sanctions with our key European allies in order to ensure their maximum intended effect, and we encourage further cooperation in pursuit of this goal. However, the United States must not limit its own national security strategy when swift action will help fulfill our strategic objectives, support an independent Ukraine, and counter malignant Russian interference.”

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FAA Empowers Hamas, Sets Stage for Israel’s Long Term Win

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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A loser in the PR battle, Hamas decided to move their international offense to a new front today. Taking advantage of the Malaysian airliner downed by pro-Russian rebels, Hamas is now targeting air traffic entering Israel. Israel National News reports:

A rocket hit a home in the city of Yehud, near the airport, on Tuesday morning. Having failed to cause significant casualties due to Israel’s extensive defense systems, Gaza terrorists have focused rocket fire on the area in hopes of disrupting Israeli air travel.

Delta Air Lines was the first to suspend service, rerouting an Israel-bound flight with 273 passengers and 17 crew members to Paris, as if France is really a safer place for Israel lovers right now. Not long after, the Federal Aviation Administration barred flights to Israel for 24 hours. Air Canada, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM and Turkish Air followed suit. The State Department (whose official tweeted #UnitedforGaza this past weekend) rushed to clarify that the FAA’s move was “in no way politically motivated”.

Israel’s Transportation Minister released the following statement in response to the flight cancellations, rightly observing:

“Ben Gurion Airport is safe — takeoffs and landings — and there is absolutely no need to be concerned about the security of planes and passengers. There’s absolutely no reason why American airlines in particular should stop their flights and thus hand a prize to terrorism.”

The brash action of Hamas may have larger ramifications than even they realize. Analysts are already commenting on the long term impact of the airline safety concerns:

The implications are enormous. Whether intended or not, Hamas has made the case as to why its rocket arsenal and infrastructure must be dismantled no matter the cost. It also has justified why Israel cannot give up security control of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”). Hamas has to fire a long way to scare away air traffic, but from the West Bank it’s practically a stone’s throw.

Regardless of how Israel chooses to handle the West Bank, the actions taken by Hamas today have made two things very clear: Hamas has no problem holding America and the rest of the world hostage, and right now Israel is the free world’s last, best and only hope.

 

 

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Obama: Pro-Russia Rebels Demonstrating ‘Kind of Behavior That Has No Place in the Community of Nations’

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama added a brief statement to his schedule this morning to come to the podium and ask Russian separatists in Ukraine what they’re trying to hide at the MH17 crash site.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Saturday that OSCE monitors were only allowed 75 minutes at the crash site Friday and fewer than three hours on Saturday, all confined to a small area. “The site is not secure, and there are multiple reports of bodies being removed, parts of the plane and other debris being hauled away, and potential evidence tampered with. This is unacceptable and an affront to all those who lost loved ones and to the dignity the victims deserve,” Psaki said.

The location of the black boxes was also uncertain, with rumors over the weekend saying that the rebels turned the flight recorders over to Moscow.

“Now, international investigators are on the ground. They have been organized. I’ve sent teams. Other countries have sent teams. They are prepared. They are organized to conduct what should be the kinds of protocols and scouring and collecting of evidence that should follow any international incident like this,” Obama said on the South Lawn of the White House.

“And what they need right now is immediate and full access to the crash site. They need to be able to conduct a prompt and full and unimpeded, as well as transparent investigation. And recovery personnel have to do the solemn and sacred work of recovering the remains of those who were lost,” he added.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has declared a demilitarized zone around the crash site, but the separatists are still hampering the investigation.

“As investigators approached, they fired their weapons in to the air. The separatists are removing evidence from the crash site. All of which begs the question: What exactly are they trying to hide?” Obama said. “Moreover, these Russian-backed separatists are removing bodies from the crash site, oftentimes without the care that we would normally expect from a tragedy like this. This is an insult to those who’ve lost loved ones. This is the kind of behavior that has no place in the community of nations.”

The president said that given Russia’s “extraordinary influence” over the separatists, Russian President Vladimir Putin should have greater pull in getting them to behave.

“President Putin says that he supports a full and fair investigation, and I appreciate those words, but they have to be supported by actions,” Obama said. “The burden now is on Russia to insist that the separatists stop tampering with the evidence, grant investigators who are already on the ground immediate, full and unimpeded access to the crash site.”

“If Russia continues to violate Ukraine’s sovereignty and to back these separatists, and these separatists become more and more dangerous and now are risks, not simply to the people inside of Ukraine but the broader international community, and Russia will only further isolate itself from the international community, and the costs for Russia’s behavior will only continue to increase,” he added.

Putin made his own address earlier today, insisting “no one should and no one has the right to use this tragedy to pursue their own political goals.”

“I believe that if military operations had not resumed in eastern Ukraine on June 28, this tragedy probably could have been avoided,” Putin said. “…All those who are responsible for the situation in the region must take greater responsibility before their own peoples and before the peoples of the countries whose citizens were killed in this disaster.”

Poroshenko told CNN this morning that he doesn’t see “any differences from the tragedy of 9/11″ and the shooting down of the civilian airliner.

“We should demonstrate the same way of reaction,” said the Ukrainian leader.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight Spotted as Lone Transcontinental Traveler Over Syria

Monday, July 21st, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

With all of the scrutiny surrounding the path of doomed MH17 over a war zone in eastern Ukraine, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH4 took a questionable route from Kuala Lumpur to London yesterday:

 

Homs remains an area of heavy fighting despite a recently lifted siege, with ISIS taking over a gas field and executing many of the workers.

A look at FlightRadar24 this morning found that MH4 wasn’t flying over Syria anymore, but heading over the Islamic State and Mosul:

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Planes are having to find new diversions since last week’s takedown of the passenger airliner by a Russian-made missile, including this wide curve under the Crimean peninsula.

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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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Power at UN: Russia Recently Transferred Tanks and Artillery to Separatists

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

UN Ambassador Samantha Power said at the United Nations today that the shootdown of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 came on the heels of discoveries by Ukrainian officials of Russian arms transfers to separatists.

Power said three infants were among the 283 passengers killed.

“Of the operational SAM systems located near the border, only the SA-11, SA-20, and SA-22 SAM systems are capable of hitting an aircraft at this flight’s altitude of 33,000 feet. We can rule out shorter-range SAMs known to be in separatist hands, including MANPADS, SA-8 and SA-13 systems, which are not capable of hitting an aircraft at this altitude,” she said. “Early Thursday, an SA-11 SAM system was reported near Snizhne by a Western reporter and separatists were spotted hours before the incident with an SA-11 system at a location close to the site where the plane came down.”

“Separatists initially claimed responsibility for shooting down a military transport plane and posted videos that are now being connected to the Malaysian airlines crash. Separatist leaders also boasted on social media about shooting down a plane, but later deleted these messages. Because of the technical complexity of the SA-11, it is unlikely that the separatists could effectively operate the system without assistance from knowledgeable personnel. Thus, we cannot rule out technical assistance from Russian personnel in operating the systems.”

Power said the Ukrainian government does also possess the Buk missile system, or SA-11, but “we are not aware of any Ukrainian SAM systems in the area of the shoot-down.”

“And, more importantly, since the beginning of this crisis, Ukrainian air defenses have not fired a single missile, despite several alleged violations of their airspace by Russian aircraft,” he said.

However, Russian separatists shot down a Ukrainian transport plane, carrying 40 paratroopers and nine crew, on June 13. On June 24 separatists downed a Ukrainian helicopter, killing all nine on board.

Separatists claimed credit for the downing of a Ukrainian military cargo plane on July 14 and a Ukrainian fighter jet two days later.

“If indeed Russian-backed separatists were behind this attack on a civilian airliner, they and their backers would have good reason to cover up evidence of their crime. Thus, it is extremely important that an investigation be commenced immediately,” Power said.

She stressed that “in the last few weeks, Russia has increased the number of tanks, armored vehicles, and rocket launchers in southwest Russia. More advanced air defense systems have also arrived.”

“Moscow has recently transferred Soviet-era tanks and artillery to the separatists and several military vehicles crossed the border,” Power continued. “After recapturing several Ukrainian cities last weekend, Ukrainian officials discovered caches of weapons long associated with Russia stockpiles, including MANPADS, mines, grenades, MREs, vehicles, and a pontoon bridge.”

“Ukrainian forces have discovered large amounts of other Russian-provided military equipment, including accompanying documentation verifying the Russian origin, in the areas that they have liberated from separatists in recent days. Recruiting efforts for separatist fighters are expanding inside Russia and separatists have openly said that they are looking for volunteers with experience operating heavy weapons such as tanks and air defenses. Russia has allowed officials from the ‘Donetsk Peoples’ Republic’ to establish a recruiting office in Moscow.”

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Pentagon Doesn’t ‘Have a Working Theory’ on Culprits Behind MH17 Takedown

Friday, July 18th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters today that more than 24 hours after a passenger airliner was downed with a Russian-made surface-to-air missile they don’t have any operational theories on what was behind the takedown.

“I don’t think we have a working theory at this point… I mean, this just happened yesterday,” Kirby said. “There’s teams of investigators now trying to get to the site and pore through this. And I mean, we just have to let them do their job.”

It was one of the few press briefings on the Malaysia Airlines attack at which questions were taken, as press secretary Josh Earnest’s daily briefing was canceled by the White House around noontime.

“We see strong evidence that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was hit by a surface-to-air missile at an altitude of about 33,000 feet and that the missile was launched from a location near the border that is controlled by Russian separatists. This incident obviously occurred in the context of a conflict fueled by Russian support for Ukrainian — or for these Russian separatists and that support has — and that support has included arms, materiel and training,” Kirby said.

“As we investigate who did this and why, this terrible tragedy underscores for Russia to take immediate and concrete steps to deescalate the crisis in Ukraine and support the Ukrainian government’s plan for a ceasefire and peace settlement.”

Kirby said they see see “no hint that Russian support for the separatists has ceased.”

“In fact, we believe that Russia continues to provide them with heavy weapons and other military equipment, financing as well. And they continue to allow these Russian fighters to enter Ukraine freely,” he said. “There have been — as you know, we’ve acknowledged that some tanks, some personnel vehicles have — have made their way across the border. It is a — it has been a steady, concerted campaign by Russia’s military to continue to support and resource, advise these separatists.”

Kirby said they didn’t have any specific information corroborating reports that a Buk system was seen being hustled back across the Russian border missing two missiles.

“The missile itself, the SA-11, which is the one we believe was used to down Flight 17, is a sophisticated piece of technology,” the admiral said. “And it is — it — it strains credulity to think that — that it could be used by separatists without at least some measure of Russian support and technical assistance.”

“I don’t have an indication now that a system was brought over. And we don’t exactly know who is responsible for firing that missile, or with — or with what assistance. What I’m saying is that that system is fairly sophisticated,” Kirby added. “…Nobody is suggesting that the Russian military advice and assistance has not somehow crossed the border. It is just unclear exactly how much and when and who. That is what the investigators are going to look at and that is what we need to let them do.”

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel conferred by phone today with Malaysian Minister of Defense Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, whose step-grandmother was among the passengers killed.

Kirby said they’re still keeping an eye on “roughly still about 10,000 to 12,000″ Russian troops at the Ukrainian border.

“And it fluctuates a little bit from week to week, but the point is that it has been a — over time, a steady increase of these combined arms tactical battalions across the border on the Russian side, but to the southeast of Ukraine. And they are close to the border. In many cases, closer than those forces who were more aligned right on the east. If you remember we had, you know, tens of thousands that were along the eastern border with Ukraine, but not as close as these units appear to be,” he said.

“All they’re doing is further escalating tension. It’s difficult to know what the intent is. That’s a question you should ask the Russian ministry of defense. But they’re there. They’re growing in size week by week, and they continue to just do nothing more than escalate the tension.”

He said various government agencies would likely be participating in an international investigation of the takedown, but “I have no expectation right now that there’ll be a DOD representative on this team.”

Kirby said the Pentagon continue to review Ukrainian requests for military assistance.

So far, they’ve received MREs, radios, body armor, individual first aid kits, sleeping mats, and uniform items to battle Putin’s army and militia.

“Over the next few months, additional items will start moving through the procurement process to include night vision goggles, thermal imagers, Kevlar helmets, explosive ordnance disposal robots, and some additional radios. And there’s been some other equipment given to Ukraine’s border guards — barbed wire, alarm systems, excavators, trucks, generators, that kind of thing — communications gear,” he said. “…I think I’ve said it before that they have requested a lot of material, some of it lethal in nature. But the focus has been and remains on the non-lethal side of the assistance.”

When asked if they were withholding lethal aid to avoid stoking tensions with Russia, Kirby replied, “Look, I mean, I’m not going to get into hypothetical here. The concern is that the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been violated and continues to be violated by its neighbor in Russia and that needs to stop.”

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Putin Directly Blames Ukraine for MH17 Shootdown, Because It Crashed In Ukraine

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

In Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama has met his match for shameless blame-shifting.

Unbelievable.

By the logic of the first statement, then, the actions of Islamist terrorists against Russians in Moscow are Putin’s fault.

h/t The Interpreter

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US Official Confirms that a Missile Brought MH17 Down

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The Washington Post has a source who says, yes, a missile brought that civilian airplane down.

Obama said U.S. national security officials are in close contact with the Ukrainian government. “The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why,” he said. Vice President Biden called Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to extend that offer, the White House said.

Hours later, a U.S. official said American intelligence agencies had confirmed that the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile. The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record about an early intelligence assessment, said government analysts were scrambling to determine who fired the missile.

“This is a contested area,” the official said. “It’s going to take time to get some information on the intentions of whoever was involved.”

Rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine denied possessing the Buk missile launcher, but journalists reported seeing a similar weapon in the region earlier Thursday.

The rebels began bragging about capturing Buk missiles around June 29. Russian-controlled media reported that the rebels had “captured” Buk missiles this week, in what looks like a cover story designed to protect Russian from any culpability for what the rebels do with those missiles.

So that cat is out of the bag. The rebels have the missiles. But who trained them how to use them? When? Where?

photo credit Loskutnikov / Shutterstock.com

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Pro-Russian Rebels Admit Downing MH17 in Intercepted Phone Call

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The outlines of what happened today in Ukraine are starting to emerge.

Pro-Russian rebels recently obtained Russian-made BUK surface-to-air missiles. These missiles have a vertical range of 72,000 feet, making them more than capable of shooting down a civilian airliner, and also of shooting down most military aircraft.

The rebels have in fact shot down two Ukrainian military aircraft this week, a cargo transport and a fighter jet.

Today, they fired on another aircraft and brought it down. They bragged about it on social media, and warned Ukraine not to fly in that area again.

They had a video crew on hand to capture their moment of triumph.

Then they arrived at the scene, expecting to find trophies of war.

Instead, they found horror. The rebels had used Russian gear to shoot down a civilian airliner.

The rebels called Russia to report what happened. That phone call and a subsequent one between two rebels was intercepted by Ukraine. Kyiv Post has translated both.

One phone call apparently was made at 4:40 p.m. Kyiv time, or 20 minutes after the plane crash, by Igor Bezler, who the SBU says is a Russian military intelligence officer and leading commander of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic. He reports to a person identified by Ukraine’s SBU as a colonel in the main intelligence department of the general headquarters of the armed forces of the Russian Federation Vasili Geranin regarding the shot down plane, which is about to be examined by the militants.

The second intercepted conversation released by the Security Service of Ukraine was apparently between militants nicknamed “Major” and “Greek” immediately upon inspection of the crash site.

“It’s 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft,” Major is recorded as saying, as he admitted to seeing no weapons on site. “Absolutely nothing. Civilian items, medicinal stuff, towels, toilet paper.”

In the transcript, one of the rebels appears to hope that there are no Russian fingerprints on the shootdown.

“Major”: The plane fell apart in the air. In the area of Petropavlovskaya mine. The first “200” (code word for dead person). We have found the first “200”. A Civilian.

“Greek”: Well, what do you have there?

“Major”: In short, it was 100 percent a passenger (civilian) aircraft.

“Greek”: Are many people there?

“Major”: Holy sh__t! The debris fell right into the yards (of homes).

“Greek”: What kind of aircraft?

“Major”: I haven’t ascertained this. I haven’t been to the main sight [sic]. I am only surveying the scene where the first bodies fell. There are the remains of internal brackets, seats and bodies.

“Greek”: Is there anything left of the weapon?

If there are no traces of the weapon left, Russia can claim that someone else shot the aircraft down, to create confusion if nothing else.

That’s just what Russia is doing. Russia’s western mouthpiece, Russia Today, reports that Ukraine deployed BUK systems in the region recently, suggesting that Ukraine fired the missile.

Fox reported earlier that the Russians are saying that the missile was a Ukrainian fire aimed at Putin himself. Obviously that would absolve Russia and become a causus belli for Russia to fully invade Ukraine. If it was true, which it isn’t.

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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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Obama: Malaysia Airlines Downing ‘Looks Like It May Be a Terrible Tragedy’

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

President Obama briefly addressed the downed Malaysia Airlines flight before comments this afternoon about infrastructure executive actions in Delaware, saying that the loss of the plane carrying 295 passengers and crew “looks like it may be a terrible tragedy.”

“Right now we’re working to determine whether there were American citizens on board. That is our first priority and I’ve directed my national security team to stay in close contact with the Ukrainian government,” Obama said. “The United States will offer any assistance we can to help determine what happened and why and as a country our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers wherever they call home.”

His remarks on the flight barely exceeded 30 seconds before he launched into his previously scheduled speech on transportation projects at the Port of Wilmington.

The White House said Vice President Biden called Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

Poroshenko spoke on TV after Obama’s remarks, stressing, “We don’t call this an ‘incident’ or ‘catastrophe,’ but a terrorist action.”

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev posted a message on his Facebook page expressing “deepest condolences following the crash of the Malaysian Airlines plane over Ukraine.”

“This tragedy has claimed the lives of hundreds of people from different countries and has caused profound grief for those who lost loved ones,” Medvedev said. “I mourn for the victims.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters today that she didn’t have “any confirmed information about casualties, the cause or additional details.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those on board, their families and loved ones. We’re closely monitoring the situation. The secretary is, of course, aware of these reports. And we’re seeking additional information,” Psaki said. “Our embassy in Kiev is also in close contact with the Ukrainian authorities on this incident. But at this point, those are all the details that we have.”

Reports have indicated 23 Americans were on the manifest, but Psaki said they were “looking to, of course, obtain that information.”

Psaki said Secretary of State John Kerry hadn’t called any Russian officials, and she didn’t know of any plans to do so.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told CNN that he didn’t want to leap to conclusions about the cause of the crash, but “if it was a missile that took this plane down, then it has to be a very sophisticated weapons system.”

“And the Ukrainians do not have that capability. So if it is the case, we’re going to have to act, and act in the most stringent fashions, including real sanctions, including giving the Ukrainians the ability to defend themselves, which we have not done so far,” McCain said.

“I think Putin was disappointed that he didn’t get more support both in Eastern Ukraine, Odessa, other parts of Southern Ukraine. But most of us who get to know Vladimir figured that he was not was going to give up easily and that he would continue to try to foment disorder in Eastern Ukraine, which, as we all know, is the most important part of the Ukrainian economy,” he said. “So I never believed he was going to go quietly, I’d – it’s impossible to assume that he’d believe that something like this would do anything but have the most negative effects.”

McCain told MSNBC, “If it is the result of either separatist or Russian actions mistakenly believing that this was a Ukrainian war plane, I think there’s going to be hell to pay, and there should be.”

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Did Pro-Russian Rebels Shoot This Video of the MH17 Impact?

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

This video, purported to be of the moment that MH17 crashes, has been making the rounds.

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On it, Russians speakers can be heard conversing about the crash.

Our man in Ukraine, Oleg Atbashian, interpreted it for us.

The title of the video is “17.7.14 Plane Crash,” so what’s the point of editing out the plane? The plane in the sky probably just wasn’t picked up by the cheap cell phone camera. The dialogue is also about the crash, in both Russian and Ukrainian. The discussion is about whether anyone had been able to jump out before the crash, and also mentioning that the debris were still falling down as they watched the smoke. Then someone else asks them what’s going on and they explain that a plane has just crashed.

The video is posted by the separatist “Novorossy” channel. “Novorossy” is how the separatists call themselves now, as opposed to “Ukrainians.”
At 0:47 they were speculating if the plane was being shot at and that someone had hit it. At that point a loud voice says, laughing, “So it was worth bringing it in,” possibly referring to the Buk anti-aircraft missile launcher that was seen around the area earlier in the morning.

Hm.

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Did the Russians Plant a Cover Story to Hand Separatists the BUK Missile System? (Updated)

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

The missile system suspected of being used in the suspected shootdown of MH17 over Ukraine is the Russian-made BUK surface-to-air system. Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine are suspected of firing the missile. Fox has reported that the rebels even bragged about the downing on the Russian version of Facebook, before deleting the post. In that post, the rebels wrote about shooting down a Ukrainian military cargo plane. Now they deny shooting it down.

The Interpreter lays out how the rebels may have gotten their hands on such a powerful missile system.

Several weapons, including the Buk, are capable of hitting aircraft at this height. But so far, none of those weapons have been documented as being in the hands of separatists. Not only had it never been filmed or photographer, there were never any reports of the Ukrainian military losing such a weapon.

However, on July 14th we ran a story that one news agency, TV Zvezda, had run a report that a Buk was captured by separatists who stole it from the Ukrainian military. The problem, however, is that TV Zvezda is the official news agency for the Russian Ministry of Defense, and they are the only source for this story. In other words, if the Russian military were going to give the separatists a Buk, they would need to plant a story about how the separatists got the Buk in the first place, and they’d likely use TV Zvezda to do it.

Today, AP reporters did see a Buk in eastern Ukraine — the first time one has been seen.

The timing makes sense. The Malaysian airliner is the third aircraft to crash in the region in the past couple of days. The first was a Ukrainian military cargo transport. The second was a fighter jet. Both of those were shot down by the pro-Russian rebels. The third would be MH17.

The tactic of handing the rebels such a system but using a cover story alleging that it was stolen makes sense as well, for the very reasons that we are seeing today. If the Russians directly gave those weapons to the rebels, and they turn and kill 23 Americans and more than 200 others either by mistake or intentionally, the Russians are directly linked to the murder of Americans and in civilian aviation. But a cover story gives them a fig leaf to hide behind, and an angle for the US to escape taking any retaliatory action if it so chooses. A cover story is practically standard KGB craft.

Longstanding American policy has been to defend the world’s seas and skies for free navigation and trade. That alone could cause a serious crisis over this crash/shootdown. But it may or may not be true of the Obama administration, of course, lack of clarity being its chief principle, with abandonment of longstanding American policy following closely behind. The US also once defended its own citizens first, but that principle no longer applies.

There is, at the moment, a dispute over how and when President Obama even learned of the crash. The Russians are saying that Putin told Obama of the crash during a phone call this morning to discuss a new round of sanctions against Russia. That would suggest a Russian openness that may not exist. The White House is not confirming that or saying how and when exactly Obama learned of the crash.

There also remains a question regarding why the plane crossed the Ukraine war zone. The US FAA ordered American carriers to avoid that region back in May. So did the British government.

The black boxes from the downed aircraft have reportedly been found.

Udpate:

The Donetsk Militia — that would be the pro-Russian rebels — say they have found the black boxes, and are sending them somewhere for “expert analysis.”

Anyone want to bet that those experts are in Moscow?

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Malaysia Airlines 777 Down in Restive Area of Ukraine

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

Malaysia Airlines confirmed that it has lost another Boeing 777: Flight MH17 from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam, over a restive region near Donetsk, Ukraine.

There were 280 passengers on board and 15 crew members.

The incident comes a day after President Obama announced new sanctions on Russia. “Along with our allies, with whom I’ve been coordinating closely the last several days and weeks, I’ve repeatedly made it clear that Russia must halt the flow of weapons and fighters across the border into Ukraine; that Russia must urge separatists to release their hostages and support a cease-fire; that Russia needs to pursue internationally-mediated talks and agree to meaningful monitors on the border,” Obama said Wednesday evening.

“On top of the sanctions we have already imposed, we are therefore designating selected sectors of the Russian economy as eligible for sanctions,” he said. “We are freezing the assets of several Russian defense companies.  And we are blocking new financing of some of Russia’s most important banks and energy companies.  These sanctions are significant, but they are also targeted — designed to have the maximum impact on Russia while limiting any spillover effects on American companies or those of our allies.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone this morning about the new sanctions regime. It was unclear if that call took place before or after MH17 went down.

Earnest told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Delaware that Obama “had been briefed about the airliner crash and had instructed his staff to keep him updated,” according to the White House pool report.

Obama is speaking at the Port of Wilmington today to “announce a new initiative, using his pen and his phone, to increase private sector investment in our nation’s infrastructure.”

Malaysia Airlines, which lost Flight MH370 in March, has given few updates as the situation unfolds.

An aide to Ukraine’s interior minister posted on Facebook that they believe the plane was taken down by a Buk missile system “kindly” given to pro-Russian rebels in the region.

The aide said the plane was flying at 10,000 meters when it was taken down. “Cynicism of Putin and his terrorists have no limit! Europe, USA, Canada, the civilized world – open your eyes! Help us all what you can! This is a war between good and evil!” the aide wrote.

“Here’s a video from the crash site! Some rascals shouted ‘Beauty! Beautifully lit’! Nonhumans!”

YouTube Preview Image Ukrainians posted photos of a Dutch passport reportedly found near the crash site.

 

 

 

 

 

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Liberty Island: Liberal’s Newest, Greatest Threat

Thursday, July 17th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

libertyisland

Apparently, it takes the declaration of a culture war for most human beings to acknowledge how dreadfully sad liberalism truly is.

Not classical liberalism, of course. The political philosophy guiding America’s founding fathers espouses an incredibly positive attitude built on, above all things, faith in the success of the individual against all odds. The liberalism I am referring to is the darker ethos that currently masquerades as Liberal, despite the fact that it is anything but. One need look no further for proof of this truth than Adam Kirsch’s response to Adam Bellow‘s call for a counterculture conservative establishment via Liberty Island.

…why does Adam Bellow continue to believe that conservative writers are a persecuted minority? The reason may have something to do with the description of the kind of work he seeks at his Liberty Island website: “At Liberty Island, good still triumphs over evil, hope still overcomes despair, and America is still a noble experiment and a beacon to the rest of the world.” The problem is not that these are conservative ideas, but that they are simpleminded ideological dogmas, and so by their very nature hostile to literature, which lives or dies by its sense of reality. If you are not allowed to say that life in America can be bad, that Americans can be guilty as well as innocent, that good sometimes (most of the time?) loses out to evil—in short, that life in America is like human life in any other time or place—then you cannot be a literary writer, because you have censored your impressions of reality in advance.

In this one paragraph Kirsch clearly defines the Liberal view of reality. According to Kirsch, Liberals view America as a “bad” place where good is defeated ”most of the time” by evil. Bellow’s desire to publish positive, hopeful literature illustrates his biased impression of reality, an implied trait among conservatives. According to Kirsch, Bellow is both deficient and needy: “…he wants reassurance, the certainty that reality—of which literature is the perceiver and guardian—is always on the side of his political beliefs.” He accuses Bellow of seeking succor through “Tea Party”-esque revenge tactics.

These accusations stand in stark contradiction to Kirsch’s conclusion in which he blatantly accepts the fact that Liberals have abused the arts, turning what used to be pleasurable cultural outlets into forums for intense, almost religious levels of political brainwashing. According to Kirsch, true writers understand that politics “must be corrected by literature” and not vice-versa. Hence, so many writers are Liberals. Liberals who busy themselves using their screeds to “correct” the political landscape. Thus, is his own grand conclusion he ends up convicting Liberals for Bellow’s supposed crimes.

In creating Liberty Island, Adam Bellow did one better than scare the Liberal literary establishment: He annoyed them. In his conservative counterculture manifesto Bellow named the sins that have turned the world of American fiction into nothing more than a finely written dystopia. It is what Bellow proposes, marketing hope to the hopeless, that is the greatest cause for alarm. Kirsch and his ilk can attempt to disinform the public by accusing conservative writers of being “out of touch” with reality. This has and will only continue to act as a public airing of their own hopeless despair. When challenged with a positive alternative, Liberal literati will ultimately fail, because in a world rife with rockets and bomb shelters, riots and dictators, wars and rumors of wars, there is nothing the public craves more than a future and a hope.

 

 

 

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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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Air Force ‘Aggressivly Pursuing Reductions’ Through HQ Reorganization, Buyouts

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Bridget Johnson

The Air Force announced a major reorganization today that it hopes will save $1.6 billion over the next five years.

The Air Force “will create efficiencies by deactivating and realigning organizations at headquarters Air Force, major commands (MAJCOMs), numbered air forces and field operating agencies,” the Pentagon said, on a target to reduce staffing by more than the 20 percent laid out as a benchmark by the Defense Department.

That translates to 3,459 positions on the chopping block at headquarters across the Air Force, both in country and overseas. Early retirements and buyouts will be offered to civilian personnel “to foster voluntary reductions before pursuing involuntary measures.”

The Air Force will try to reap “any additional savings…from staff functions above the wing level.”

“I will work to ensure the world’s best Air Force is the most capable at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in a statement. “Everyone knows our economy is still not where it should be; we have a responsibility to ensure that every dollar adds value to the taxpayers and our national defense.”

“We are aggressively pursuing reductions within the first year, rather than spread them out over five years as allowed by DoD,” she said. “It’s better for airmen because it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize our workforce sooner. It also allows us to harvest the savings earlier so that we can plow it back into readiness and some of our key modernization programs.”

A new Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (AFIMSC), which will report to Air Force Materiel Command, will be created in an effort to streamline operations.

“We will now have an organization, A5/8, that is responsible for developing, managing and constantly assessing an Air Force strategy that is bounded by long-range resource projections and another organization, FM, that deals primarily with the day-to-day budget activities involved in running the Air Force,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III said. “Keeping organizations aligned will ensure we keep moving towards our long-range strategic goals despite the short-term budget upheaval we face regularly.”

“The Air Force has been making incremental changes in our business practices for the last several years, but we must change the way we are doing business if we are to meet the Air Force’s goal to reduce staffing functions by more than 20 percent,” said Bill Booth, Air Force acting deputy chief management officer. “Reducing higher headquarters’ staffs means we can save money that can be re-invested in getting ready for combat missions at the wing level.”

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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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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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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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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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Mohammed Abu Khdeir and Jewish Guilt’s Double Standard

Monday, July 7th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

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We, the Jewish people, are good at guilt. Gilbert Gottfried jokes that, in the Jewish world, the fetus is only viable after its finished law school. I’d add to Gottfried’s joke by explaining the reason for the degree: So that we may continue to expertly condemn ourselves in the court of public opinion.

This past weekend, Jews across the political spectrum rushed to denounce the murderous crime committed by radical Jewish activists in Israel. The fact that we live in a world where one must proclaim their disgust of such a vile act is a crime in and of itself. However, it is not their condemnation of the act, but the tone and style of their condemnation that I call into question. We don’t expect all Palestinians, nor all Muslims to apologize for the acts of radicals. Why, then, should we expect the entire nation of Israel, and Jewry’s worldwide collective, to apologize for the crime of 6 Israeli Jews?

Of the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, Ben Shapiro rightly observed:

The world will apply Western standards of morality to the Jewish nationalists, as they should – they will not ask about their “root causes” or ponder their anger. They will then ignore those same Western standards, as they always have, when dealing with the Palestinians… Because Jew hatred is all about double standards and ignoring the facts.

We are all too familiar with the world’s double standard when it comes to judging Israel’s every breath. The Zionist nation has become the brunt for the Jewish burden established on Mount Sinai. We were called out to be different, to be a “light”, an example for the nations to follow, and we have been paying for being the “good student” ever since. Despite what our detractors would lead you to believe, we take our Biblical responsibility very seriously, and have no problem holding it over our collective head when even one of us fails to achieve the group’s objective.  This is why Jewish accusations against our people’s moral fiber are running at an all-time high. It is also precisely why they shouldn’t be.

People of Israel, world Jewry at large, stop your self-flagellation. Your enemies will make the most of 6 bad decision makers the way any disinformation operative makes the most of a good crisis. In the meantime, you think your best defense is a self-inflicted finger in the wound before the bullies can poke at it for you? Neither you nor I are guilty for the bad choices of others. They should and will receive the full punishment that the law allows. That is our testimony to our God, ourselves and to the world of who we are: a nation of laws, not terror, or as one Jewish Press writer so eloquently put it:

We didn’t destroy trains and infrastructure, we didn’t hand out candies in celebration, we didn’t post photos of praise on Twitter and Facebook, we didn’t provide support and succor to the killers. We won’t be giving them salaries in jail, we won’t be naming streets and schools after them, we won’t be demanding their release for peace. Our mother’s won’t be saying they are proud of them, our leaders won’t have photo-ops with them, we won’t parade them through the streets as heroes, they won’t be portrayed as role models for our children, and we won’t be painting murals of them on the walls of our schools.

If you really want a sackcloth and ashes moment, take a tip from the families of Eyal, Gilad, Naftali and Mohammed, children who were murdered by the kind of insane radicals whose stripe transcends any and every national identity. Spare me your incessant, neurotic, hot-air attempts at obtaining the forgiveness you don’t need and the approval you so desperately seek. Want to be respected? Stop equating 13.8 million Jews worldwide, 6.1 million of them Israelis, with 6 murderous lunatics.

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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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Video: Is the Jihad Islam’s ‘Reformation’?

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014 - by Raymond Ibrahim

Does Islam need a “Protestant Reformation?” What if the jihad is it?

I recently appeared on Sun News’ Byline with Brian Lilley, discussing my PJ Media article, “Islam’s Protest Reformation” (part 1, part 2)

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