Saturday, December 03, 2016

UN General Assembly ignores Jewish ties to Temple Mount

From JPost, 1Dec 2016, by DANIELLE ZIRI,TOVAH LAZAROFF:


The UN General Assembly overwhelming voted to support a resolution that used solely Muslim language to describe the Temple Mount.

Out of the United Nation’s 193 member states, 147 voted in favor, seven voted against and eight abstained.

The Jerusalem resolution was one of six resolutions condemning Israel and supporting the Palestinians that the General Assembly approved on Wednesday, as part of its special annual session for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, which began on Tuesday.

All the European member states present in the room voted in favor of the resolution – countries such as France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom.

The states that opposed the Jerusalem resolution were the United States, Canada, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Naura and Palu.

Those that abstained were Australia, Guatemala, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay and Vanuatu.

The text calls on Israel to have “respect for the historic status quo at the holy places of Jerusalem” and “urges all sides to work immediately and cooperatively to defuse tensions and halt all provocations, incitement and violence at the holy sites in the city.”

The resolutions were introduced by a group of mostly Arab countries, including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon, and the Palestinian Authority, but also some Asian countries, such as Indonesia and Lao People’s Democratic Republic, as well as a few African countries.

Resolutions A/71/l.18 and A/71/l.19, the first in the series, pledge respectively to support the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in its efforts to end the Israeli “occupation,” and extend member state’s cooperation with and support to the division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat.

Draft resolution a/71/l.20, also adopted on Wednesday, with 153 votes in favor of it, seven abstentions and seven negative votes, aims to disseminate information on the Palestinian narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as on all the activities of the United Nations system relating to the question of Palestine. The resolution also states the need to organize and promote “fact-finding news missions for journalists to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel.”

In resolution A/71/l.21, the General Assembly calls for “a peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine.” It also “calls upon Israel, the occupying power, to comply strictly with its obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, and to cease all of its measures that are contrary to international law and all unilateral actions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

The last draft text adopted by the assembly, resolution A/71/l.8, adopted by a vote of 103 in favor, six abstentions and 56 votes against it, demands that Israel withdraw from all of the Golan to the line of June 4, 1967, and hand it over to Syria.

Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said, “Today’s resolutions are yet another example of the daily bias Israel faces in the UN.

“At the same time that Israel is celebrating the historic decision to reestablish the Jewish state in our homeland, the UN continues to fund organizations and pass resolutions that do nothing to better the lives of the Palestinians.”

The United States voted against all the resolutions. The representative of the US Mission at the General Assembly session spoke out against the “disproportionate number of resolutions condemning Israel.”

He further stated that voting on these resolutions “damages the prospect for peace.”

“All parties to the conflict have responsibility to end the conflict,” he said.

The US representative added that his country is “disappointed” that the General Assembly chooses to single out Israel, which is “counterproductive.”

The International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is observed by the United Nations on November 29 each year, the date marking the anniversary of the General Assembly’s 1947 adoption of the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Do you know where your money is going?

From Middle East Forum, 28 Nov 2016:
Ibrahim Cooper (L), spokesperson, and Nihad Awad (R), executive director, for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). CAIR was recently designated as a terrorist organization by an ally of the United States.

...The Middle East Forum encourages Muslims and non-Muslims alike to support several important Muslim groups that are anti-Islamist, including:
But there are also organizations masquerading as civil rights groups and humanitarian aid groups which raise tax-deductible funds to promote extremist ideals.

...we are providing a list of prominent Islamist organizations that should not be supported
  • the Council on American Islamic Relations, 
  • Muslim American Society, 
  • Islamic Society of North America, Islamic Circle of North America, 
  • Helping Hand for Relief and Development, and 
  • Islamic Relief.

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)


CAIR presents itself as a civil rights organization fighting against bigotry, but its record tells a different story. During the 2008 Holy Land Foundation (HLF) terrorism financing trial, CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator. Because of CAIR’s extremist associations, the FBI has banned outreach with CAIR since 2008. In 2014, the United Arab Emirates, a pious Muslim country, designated CAIR as a terrorist organization. The Anti-Defamation League believes CAIR is a key promoter of anti-Jewish sentiment.
 
Six CAIR leaders have been arrested, convicted, or deported for terrorism-related crimes: Randall (“Ismail”) Royer, Ghassan Elashi, Bassem Khafagi, Rabih Haddad, Nabil Sadoun, and Muthanna Al-Hanooti. These terrorism links are unsurprising, given CAIR’s promotion of hate preachers Regular speakers at CAIR events include Suhaib Webb and Omar Suleiman, who have respectively described homosexuality as an “evil inclination” and a “repugnant, shameless sin.” CAIR leaders seem to follow their imams’ theological instruction. In 2009, CAIR-Florida executive director Hassan Shibly called homosexuality a “quick way to earn God’s wrath” and “evil.”
 
Muslim American Society (MAS)

 
MAS was founded in 1993 by operatives of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Chicago Tribune reported in 2004 that a MAS summer camp for teens included study materials promoting the Brotherhood’s philosophy. According to the Investigative Project, one MAS website even featured “reading materials that say Muslims have a duty to help form Islamic governments worldwide and should be prepared to take up arms to do so.” The ADL has criticized MAS for being “the leading American Muslim organization organizing anti-Israel activity in the U.S.” In 2014, MAS was designated by the UAE as a terrorist organization.

Islamic Society of North America (ISNA)

ISNA emerged from the Muslim Students Association, which was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood and continues to serve as a breeding ground for terrorists. A 1991 Brotherhood memorandum laying out its plan to infiltrate American institutions includes ISNA on its list of “our organizations and the organizations of our friends.”
 
ISNA was designated as an unindicted co-conspirator in the HLF’s illegal financing of Hamas. Specifically, ISNA was named among the “individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.” A judge later ruled that the government had “produced ample evidence” connecting ISNA to the HLF and Hamas. Indeed, ISNA had a joint bank account into which checks payable to “the Palestinian Mujahadeen” (Hamas) were deposited.

Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA)

In 2000, ICNA identified itself as an American front for Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), a Pakistani Islamist group that officials have linked to the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. JI’s extremist ideology pervades all aspects of ICNA: The 2010 ICNA handbook promotes the writings of JI’s anti-Jewish, pro-terror founder and outlines a strategy for building a “united Islamic state.” A war crimes tribunal recently convicted ICNA’s former secretary general Ashrafuzzaman Khan of murdering 18 intellectuals during the Bangladesh War of Independence. In 2013, ICNA openly protested the convictions of senior JI leaders in Bangaldesh, a fact that JI reported on its own website.
 
ICNA’s “charitable” wing, ICNA Relief, also backs extremist causes and was a top donor to the Al-Khidmat Foundation, a JI charity that, while being supported by ICNA Relief in 2006, delivered almost $100,000 to the head of Hamas.

Helping Hand for Relief and Development

Helping Hand is a large Islamist charity, boasting an income of over $40 million in 2015. Helping Hand was also a donor to JI’s Al-Khidmat Foundation. Helping Hand is notorious for promoting hate preachers at its events across the U.S. Recent speakers include Hussain Kamani, who advocates the use of female sex slaves and the killing of adulterers; and Sulaiman Hani, who writes that “‘freedom of speech’ is a facade of a tool that is used inconsistently by those in power.” It is used, Hani claims, to stifle “objective discussion” of the “Holocaust or Jews.”

Islamic Relief

The Islamic Relief franchise is the largest Islamic charity in America and the Western world, reporting an income of about $110 million in 2014. But it is a designated terrorist entity in Israel and even the UAE. Both UBS and HSBC have closed Islamic Relief bank accounts over reported concerns about terrorism financing. And the founders of Islamic Relief’s parent branch in Britain include Essam El-Haddad, who became the foreign policy advisor to Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president.

In America, a number of Islamic Relief officials, including board chairman Khaled Lamada, have been named by the Egyptian newspaper El Watan as prominent Muslim Brotherhood operatives. Islamic Relief USA staff include Omar Shahin, who, in 2002, gave a sermon in which he preached: “You will keep on fighting with the Jews until the fight reaches the east of Jordan river then the stones and trees will say: oh Muslim, oh (servant) slaves of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.” Islamic Relief’s headquarters, based in Britain, have a financial relationship with terror-linked charities. In 2004, 2007, and 2009, Islamic Relief Worldwide’s accounts revealed large donations from the Charitable Society for Social Welfare, founded by Al-Qaeda terrorist and “Bin Laden loyalist” Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani. According to the Washington Post, “U.S. and U.N. authorities accuse Zindani of recruiting for al-Qaeda camps and raising money for weapons for terrorist groups.”


Thursday, November 17, 2016

John Bolton for Secretary of State

From National Review, 12 November 2016:


And just like that Donald Trump needs to govern. 

The outsider who shocked the world with his upsets in the primaries and the general election will have to arrive in Washington and take control of a vast and often hostile bureaucracy.

With allies nervous and a challenge from adversaries abroad likely to materialize quickly, the choice of secretary of state is his most important appointment.  

Naturally, names have already been mentioned in the press as possibilities, and none is better suited to the job than former U.N. ambassador John Bolton

First, the other possibilities:

  • Newt Gingrich is a brilliant thinker and glib talker who would always be one slip of the tongue away from creating an international crisis; 
  • Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee was last seen facilitating President Obama’s Iran-deal path through Congress, in one of the prime exhibits of GOP fecklessness in recent years; 
  • Rudy Giuliani has done yeoman’s work for Trump, but doesn’t have extensive foreign policy experience, to put it mildly. 


Bolton has the advantage of being an experienced, straight-talking yet nuanced foreign-policy hand, who also fits the Trump sensibility on national security.

Bolton is an American internationalist who believes in the importance of American power.  He is a hard-headed realist whose focus is always the national interest. He negotiated the creation of the Proliferation Security Initiative, for instance, a global effort to counter illicit trafficking in weapons and materials of mass destruction. It was, and is, a diplomatic rarity—“an activity, not an organization,” as one U.K. diplomat put it. United Nations, take note.

Bolton has been around the block—starting his career as a protégé of James A. Baker III—but has never become an establishmentarian or lost his edge. He would understand that he is the president’s emissary to the State Department, not the other way around, and avoid getting captured by Foggy Bottom’s bureaucrats the way, say, a Colin Powell did, or others with less experience likely would.

He is a scourge of international institutions and treaties that threaten our interests or sovereignty. In the George W. Bush administration, he removed America’s signature from the treaty creating the International Criminal Court, and negotiated over 100 bilateral agreements to prevent Americans from being delivered into the ICC’s custody.

And he negotiated America’s withdrawal from the 1972 ABM Treaty so President Bush could launch a national missile-defense program to protect America from the likes of rogue states such as Iran and North Korea.

He believes that diplomacy and negotiations should be directed not to reach agreement at any price, but to advance American interests. It is his view, correctly, that the process of negotiation is not, as too many in the State Department see it, an end in itself but simply a means to achieve larger objectives, and always from a position of American strength.

On top of all this, Bolton, who endorsed Trump soon after he clinched the Republican nomination in the spring, is respected by all factions of the party. (He is a long-time friend of this magazine and serves on the board of the National Review Institute.)

In short, John Bolton is an ideal pick, and his appointment would be a sign that the Trump administration intends to get off to a strong start.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Trump presidency may bring Israeli business boom


... a Trump presidency could prove good for Israeli business and technology.

Daniel Ritter, a senior partner at the Public Policy and Law practice group of the international law firm K&L Gates, told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday that Donald Trump’s electoral victory can actually usher in a boom for Israeli business and technology.
“At present Mr. Trump still remains – on most issues, for most countries – still a cypher, because he campaigned, with a few exceptions, largely on domestic policy,” Ritter told the Post. “That being said, to the extent we can make educated guesses and speculations, the answer is a resounding yes, Mr. Trump is good for Israeli business.”
According to Ritter, the people who are surrounding Trump both within his family and professionally are by and large very supportive of Israel. These individuals hold a highly positive outlook on Israel and the importance of the US-Israel relations.
“To my mind, based on who they are and their backgrounds, they are more supportive of Israel arguably than any presidential candidate in my political memory. If you look for example at Mike Pence, who is the vice president-elect, he’s an Evangelical Christian and he has been openly and very powerfully supportive of Israel and against BDS not just now but for the last 25 years...”...
Just ahead of the elections, the Trump campaign released a document stating that the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Israel and the US under Obama’s administration “is very good, but a floor not a ceiling,” and that previously passed legislation relating to US-Israel technology cooperation is also “a floor not a ceiling.”

“These points argued that we should take [US-Israel cooperation] further and Congress should add more money. This is striking, especially given that it was put out just before the elections,” Ritter told the Post.

Ritter’s practice, K&L Gates, has been working in partnership with Gilad Government Relations and Lobbying firm over the past four years to assist Israeli companies that wish to enter the US market or expand their position in it. According to Ritter, with regard to US policy toward Israel, the earth has moved in a seismic shift which opened both political and business opportunities.
“The priorities the new administration described, where additional spending will take place, are some key Israeli specialties,” he said. “First and foremost cybersecurity – and Trump has spoken about both offensive and defensive cybersecurity. He also specifically spoke about a partnership with Israel in that context, and that has not always been the case historically.”
Other fields the Trump administration had earmarked for expansion and funding include fossil fuel technology, UAV related technology, and facial and voice recognition technology, all fields Israeli companies are pioneering.
“There are a host of Israeli technologies which relate to those issues, and these represent an opportunity for Israeli companies looking for R&D partnerships, joint ventures or even first entry into the US market,” Ritter explained. “From our perspective, the opportunity for Israeli companies now, given the priorities of the new administration, have never been better.”

A look at Trump's Israel policy and advisors

From The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC),  11 November 2016, by Ahron Shapiro:

... with the election passed, the time has arrived to examine the stated policies of president-elect Donald Trump, as well as take an introductory look at his Middle East Israel advisors.
Trump's Israel Policy
... Israel wasn't much of an issue in the US elections. Both candidates kept it low-key (in the case of Hillary Clinton, we know from emails revealed by Wikileaks that she received advice to leave Israel out of her stump speeches and reserve the issue exclusively for talks with donors).
For the most part, Trump's views on Israel were parcelled out in a piecemeal fashion during the campaign. However on November 2, his advisors on Israel, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman, issued a 16-point policy statement that compiled his position based on all of his previous discussions and speeches.
"Each of these positions have been discussed with Mr. Trump and the Trump campaign," they wrote, "and most have been stated, in one form or another, by Mr. Trump in various interviews or speeches given by him or on his social media accounts."
AIJAC has also reproduced Trump's policy points on our own Web site.
Rather than comment on every point, this blog will focus on a few highlights.
Of particular note is Trump's explicit opposition to UN Security Council interference in Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolution, and certainly against any attempts to impose a settlement between the parties. Trump also clearly promises to push back against any anti-Israel measures at the UN or any of its organs, going so far as to threaten to pull US funding from the UN Human Rights Council.
Furthermore, and very significantly, he introduces conditions for the creation of a Palestinian state as part of any peace agreement.
Finally - contrary to the belief that Trump will "tear up" the Iran nuclear deal, this statement says he will only "counteract" Iranian violations to the deal and issue new sanctions against Iran, if needed.
In regards to his views on the Security Council, Trump's unequivocal statement could act as a deterrent for outgoing President Barack Obama to consider backing or abstaining from a long-rumoured French resolution that would effectively supersede the politically land-for-peace Resolution 242 by making the creation of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 lines an objective endorsed by the Security Council.
Widely believed to have been delayed to avoid impacting the US elections, this resolution now would seem to be in jeopardy, as its success would require Obama to act in open defiance of the incoming president's wishes, against all tradition and protocol. That, of course, doesn't mean it's impossible, but unlikely.
On the other hand, some very respected analysts, including Cifford May and Jonathan Schanzer  of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, have come to the opposite conclusion - that Trump's victory may very well increase the chances of such a resolution, with Obama's support or acquiescence.
Trump's stated policies vis-à-vis the peace process break new ground as a US president is signalling to the Palestinians that US support for statehood will be withheld unless Palestinians abandon violence and incitement, and permit Jews to live in their territory. Further, in what appears to be a first for a US President is Trump's acknowledgement that the divided Palestinian leadership, as evidenced by Hamas control of Gaza, is itself a show-stopping obstacle to peace.
While it is not spelled out explicitly, the implication of Trump's policy statement is tantamount to an endorsement of the separately voiced views of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog that peace progress with the Palestinians, at present, is impossible because Israel lacks a Palestinian partner to negotiate with, that is both willing and able to deliver a secure peace.
When it comes to Palestinian independence, Trump puts the onus on the Palestinians to negotiate directly with Israel and prepare their society for peace, while his views on the borders of a future Palestinian state place the needs of Israel's security over Palestinian territorial aspirations.
It should be added that Trump, like several other US presidential hopefuls over the years, has promised to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the US embassy to Jerusalem. However, previous presidents who have made that promise as candidates have found reasons to avoid doing so once in office, and it remains to be seen whether Trump will act differently than his predecessors.
Iran and Syria
As stated before, Trump's statement on Israel policy takes a tough line on Iran in stark contrast to the Obama Administration. However, while he briefly mentions that Iran backs the Syrian Assad regime (and this is presented as a bad thing), he conspicuously avoids discussing his overall policy towards Syria.
And here is where things get sketchy for Israel. Trump has repeatedly said during his campaign that his goal in the Syrian conflict is to stop ISIS rather than confront Assad.
As he told Reuters on October 25:
"Assad is secondary, to me, to ISIS," Trump said, using another term for Islamic State.
He also suggested that Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's strategy for the region would lead "to World War III," because of the potential for military conflict with a nuclear-armed Russia, which is backing the Assad regime.
"What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria," said Trump over fried eggs and sausage at his Trump National Doral golf resort. "You're going to end up in World War III over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton."
Russia backs its client Assad and Trump apparently doesn't want to risk confrontation with Russia over Syria. However, as Trump himself admits, Iran backs Assad as well and benefits from a land bridge through Syria for Hezbollah to southern Lebanon and the Mediterranean.
Many Israeli analysts, including BESA Center Director Efraim Inbar (who was just speaking on this very topic, among others, in Australia) maintain that the Syrian-Iranian Axis represents a significantly bigger strategic threat to Israel than ISIS.
Beyond his Israel policy, Trump has been labelled inside his party and out as an isolationist, looking to downgrade American involvement abroad, economically and militarily.
It's too early to tell whether standing up to Iran will be an exception for Trump, though again, his minimal, weak Syrian policy hints at a somewhat contradictory stance at this point.
Trump's Israel advisors
Trump's Israel Advisory Committee is co-chaired by Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman. Both are real estate lawyers who have worked closely with Trump for many years and have risen to top levels of his businesses.
While he has not taken a prominent role thus far, Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner co-wrote Trump's well-received speech to AIPAC earlier this year and should be included among Trump's trusted advisors on Israel.
Jason Greenblatt
Greenblatt, 49, is the chief legal officer at the Trump Organisation and an executive vice president. A yarmulke-wearing orthodox Jew, Greenblatt is a graduate of Yeshiva University.
In August, he was interviewed by Katie Glueck from the website Politico in a fairly hostile piece which questioned how a real estate lawyer with no foreign policy experience should be put in an advisory position for a presidential candidate.
In his defence, Greenblatt suggested that perhaps a fresh approach wouldn't be a bad thing:
"There are lots of experts, over decades, who have lived in the policy world, have lived in the world of diplomacy and government," Greenblatt said, speaking in a gold-hued conference room on the 26th floor of Trump Tower in Manhattan and waving off questions about his inexperience. "Not to diminish their role, but are we any closer to achieving the peace process? Are we any closer to achieving peace?"

Not surprisingly, this attitude annoyed the people who have trained their whole lives to be political advisors.
"To me it's almost degrading to say, just because you're Jewish, you know this," said Lisa Spies, who ran Jewish outreach for Mitt Romney in 2012 and works extensively with pro-Israel donors. "This is degrading to people who actually do this professionally."
David Friedman
Friedman, 58, who tells reporters he has acted as Trump's attorney many times. He works at the New York law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP and counts former U.S. Vice-Presidential candidate, Senator Joe Lieberman among his work colleagues at the firm.
Friedman owns an apartment in Jerusalem and is rumoured to be a top contender to be the next US ambassador to Israel.

In a wide-ranging interview with Media Line's Felice Friedson on August 3, he stressed that Trump's tougher position on a Palestinian state should not be misconstrued as an endorsement for a one-state outcome.
His position is not a one-state solution. His position is that he's observed the obvious, which is that a two-state solution over the past generation has been attempted over and over again and has been a failure. The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result - and he's not insane. To blindly embrace a two-state solution because it's been an American policy for the past 25-years is not something he's going to do, any more so than one would have expected a president in the 1970s embrace the Vietnam war because it was a 20-year policy of the United States. Policies are only good if they work.
During the last months of the Trump presidential campaign, Friedman wrote four op-eds for the Jerusalem Post defending Trump on Israel and Jewish issues.
They can be accessed here.
Contenders for Secretary of State under Donald Trump
As widely known, for a variety of reasons beyond the scope of this blog, a significant fraction of Republican lawmakers and strategists either refused to accept Trump as their candidate or distanced themselves from him at some point during his campaign.
In perhaps the most telling example, a month before the election - amidst the backdrop of embarrassing recordings of Trump saying lewd remarks about women - House Speaker Paul Ryan said he would no longer campaign for Trump.
For this reason, in choosing the all-important cabinet position of Secretary of State, Trump will likely limit his choices to those eligible candidates who were most loyal to Trump during his campaign.
Pundits have thus far focused their attention on three individuals: Former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
While much could be said about the world view and professional resumes of these candidates, of particular interest to AIJAC readers is the fact that Bolton and Corker have been outspoken in their criticism of the Iran nuclear deal, while Newt Gingrich is known for his hawkish views on Israel.
Rafael Medoff of the Jewish News Service has just published a profile of these candidates from the perspective of Israel which can be accessed here.
Other prominent Jewish voices close to Trump
In July, journalist Armin Rosen, writing for the Web site Tablet, published a series of short profiles of prominent Jews associated with Trump.

Besides Friedman, Greenblatt and Kushner, Rosen included short profiles of Trump's Jewish family including his daughter (Kushner's wife and Jewish convert) Ivanka, and Trump's father-in-law (and campaign donor) Charles Kushner.
Within his corporate inner circle, Rosen profiled his special counsel, executive vice president Michael Cohen (a Democrat, it should be noted). Finally, rounding out the review were Jews who helped Trump finance his campaign, including Trump's national fundraising chairman Steven Mnuchin, and Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
Postscript - A campaign controversy: Antisemitism among Trump supporters
While Israel wasn't a major issue in the campaign, Hillary Clinton supporters strongly criticised the Trump campaign for not doing enough to distance itself from endorsements by neo-Nazis and other extreme-right elements. At times, this criticism extended to promotional materials produced by the Trump campaign itself.
Trump's Jewish advisors vehemently rejected the accusations.
"The danger in the U.S. is on the left, not on the right," Friedman told the JTA in a story published on October 25. "I'm not saying that there aren't neo-Nazis floating around in the United States, because I'm sure there are. But the movement we ought to be concerned about is on the left."

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trump takes stock of the world

From The Australian Editorial, November 14, 2016:

... Donald Trump ....is so far showing a level of finesse that seemed unlikely during the election campaign. His early prioritising of Israel and the Middle East — woefully neglected by Barack Obama for so long — is a case in point. 

The protracted civil war in Syria, with its dire consequences for the growth of jihad terrorism and the opportunity it has handed Russia to gain regional strategic ascendancy, owes much to Mr Obama’s lackadaisical attitude and his unwillingness to assert US power.

His first nine calls to world leaders after his victory made his priorities clear. ...those called included key Middle East figures who have long been at loggerheads with Mr Obama — Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Saudi King Salman.

On the negative side, the last rites of the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership have been announced. Asian leaders saw the pact as a vital sign of Washington’s commitment to the region. Its collapse, unfortunately, opens up new opportunities for China to expand its influence....

At least Mr Trump has moved quickly to reassure regional nations, including South Korea, of continued backing. The first foreign leader he will meet will be Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. It is also good that two Trump advisers have set out the president-elect’s “Peace Through Strength Vision for the Asia-Pacific”, borrowed from Ronald Reagan’s Cold War mantra.

The world will be watching his moves in Europe closely, after he cast protocol aside to welcome Britain’s UKIP Brexit leader Nigel Farage to Trump Towers....


Monday, November 14, 2016

Israel in the Trump Era

From Caroline Glick, Friday, November 11th, 2016:

bibitrump

What can we expect from President-elect Donald Trump’s administration?

The positions that Trump struck during the presidential campaign were sometimes inconsistent and even contradictory. So it is impossible to forecast precisely what he will do once in office. But not everything is shrouded in mystery. Indeed, some important characteristics of his administration are already apparent.

First of all, President Barack Obama’s legacy will die the moment he leaves the White House on January 20. Republicans may not agree on much. But Trump and his party do agree that Obama’s policies must be abandoned and replaced. And they will work together to rollback all of Obama’s actions as president.

On the domestic policy front this means first and foremost that Obamacare will be repealed and replaced with health industry reforms that open the medical insurance market to competition.

With the support of the Republican-controlled Senate, Trump will end Obama’s push to reshape the US Supreme Court in the image of the activist, indeed, authoritarian Israeli Supreme Court. During his four year term, Trump may appoint as many as four out of nine justices. In so doing he will shape the court for the next generation.

Trump made clear during the race that the justices he selects will oppose the Obama-led leftist plan to transform the Court into an imperial judiciary that determines social and cultural norms and legislates from the bench.

Trump will also clean out the IRS. Under Obama, the IRS became an instrument of political warfare. Conservative and right wing pro-Israel groups were systematically discriminated against and targeted for abuse. It is possible to assume that Trump will fire the IRS officials who have been involved in this discriminatory abuse of power.

To be sure, much is still unclear about Trump’s foreign policy. But here too, certain things are already known. Trump will vacate the US’s signature from the nuclear deal with Iran.

Trump will not be able to repair the damage the deal has already caused – at least not immediately. He will not be able to reimpose the multilateral and UN Security Council sanctions on Iran that the nuclear deal cancelled. Such a move will require prolonged negotiations and their conclusion is far from assured.

Trump will likewise be unable to take back the billions of dollars that Iran has already received due to the abrogation of economic sanctions and through cash payoffs from the Obama administration.

At the same time, from his first day in office, Trump will change the trajectory of US policy towards Iran. He will oppose Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. He will oppose Iran’s rise to regional hegemony.

A second conclusion that it is already possible to draw about the Trump presidency is that Trump will be much more like the hands off Ronald Reagan than the hands on Obama. His past as a businessman along with his lack of governmental or political experience will lead Trump to set general policy guidelines and goals and delegate responsibility for crafting suitable policies and programs to his cabinet secretaries and advisors.

This means that personnel will very much be policy in the Trump administration. Whereas Obama’s cabinet members and advisors have been more or less interchangeable since Obama himself determined everything from the details of his policies to the ways that the policies would be sold to the public (or hidden from the public), and implemented, Trump’s pick of advisors will be strategically significant.

Clearly it is too early to know who Trump’s advisors and cabinet members will be. But there is good reason for Israel to be encouraged by the advisors who have worked with Trump during the campaign.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence is one of the most pro-Israel policymakers in America. Former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich is an outspoken ally of Israel and of the US-Israel alliance. Likewise, former New York mayor Rudy Guiliani, former senator Rick Santorum, retired general Mike Flynn, and former UN ambassador John Bolton are all extraordinary champions of the US alliance with Israel.

Trump’s Israel affairs advisors during the campaign, David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt are also among the strongest advocates of the US-Israel alliance that have arisen in decades.

The striking friendliness of the Trump election team is even more notable when we consider what Israel would have faced from a Hillary Clinton administration. Clinton’s cabinet-in-waiting at the George Soros-funded and John Podesta-run Center for American Progress contained no serious advocates of the US-Israel alliance.

And her stable of advisors were not merely indifferent to Israel.

The Wikileaks revelations from Podesta’s emails, like the correspondences published by Judicial Watch from Clinton’s tenure as secretary made clear that Clinton’s team included several advisors with deep-seated hostility if not animus toward Israelis and toward the Israeli government.

The third thing that is already clear about the nature of the Trump administration is that it will not hesitate to abandon received wisdom on a whole host of issues and initiate policies that the bipartisan policy elites wouldn’t be caught dead even talking about.

Trump’s victory was first and foremost a defeat for the American elite, what Prof. Angelo Codevilla memorably referred to as America’s “ruling class.”

Trump’s campaign did not merely target the Democratic establishment. He attacked the Republican establishment as well. True, in his victory speech Trump said that he intends to heal the rifts in American society – presumably starting with his own party. But at least one thing ought to be clear about that reunification. As the president-elect, Trump will set the terms of the healing process.

There is every reason to expect that at a minimum, Trump will not soon forgive the Republicans who refused to support and even opposed his presidential bid. Members of the NeverTrump camp will be denied positions and influence over the Trump administration and sent into the political desert.

Another establishment that fell on its sword in this election is the American Jewish establishment. Led by the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish establishment, including its largest donors, stood almost as one in its support for Clinton. The American Jewish leadership placed their partisan preferences above their communal interests and responsibilities. In so doing they enfeebled the community in a manner that will be difficult to repair.

Both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have anti-Semites in their ranks. The Jewish establishment ignored and pretended away the Democratic anti-Semites, even when they were burning Israeli flags at the Democratic convention. They said nothing when anti-Israel ravings that were at best borderline anti-Semitic of senior Clinton advisors like Thomas Pickering and Anne Marie Slaughter were published by Judicial Watch.

On the other hand, the Jewish establishment castigated Trump as anti-Semitic for the presence of anti-Semites like David Duke on the fringes of the Republican Party. Legitimate criticisms of anti-Israel financier George Soros were condemned as anti-Semitic while truly anti-Semitic assaults on Trump donor Sheldon Adelson by Clinton backers went unaddressed.

The consequence of the Jewish establishment’s almost total mobilization for Clinton is clear. The Trump White House won’t have an open door policy for those who falsely accused Trump of anti-Semitism.

Jewish Americans are going to have to either oust the leaders of the groups that put their party before their community or establish new organizations to defend their interests. Whatever path is chosen, the process of rebuilding the communal infrastructure the community’s leaders have wrecked will be long, difficult and expensive.

Unlike the American Jewish community, for Israel, the defeat of the American establishment is a positive development. The American foreign policy elite’s default bipartisan position on Israel was bad for both Israel and the health and reliability of its alliance with the US.

As I explained in my book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, there was a dismaying consistency in US policy towards Israel that ran from Bill Clinton’s administration through the George W. Bush administration and on to the Obama administration.

At least since the Clinton years, the received wisdom of the American foreign policy elite has been that the US must seek to swiftly cause Israel to sign a deal with the PLO. The contours of the deal are similarly clear to all concerned. Israel must surrender control over all or most of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and transfer the areas, more or less Jew free, to the PLO.

This bipartisan view is inherently hostile to Israel. It places all the responsibility for making peace on Israel. And as the sole responsible party, Israel is also the sole party that is guilty for the absence of peace. The flipside is similarly dismal. Palestinians are absolved of responsibility for terrorism, hatred and political warfare against Israel.

The anti-Israel hostility inherent in the two-state paradigm has brought on a situation where even pro-Israel US officials end up joining their anti-Israel colleagues in bearing down on Israel to act in manners that are inimical both to its national security and to the very concept of a US-Israel alliance. The foreign policy ruling class’s commitment to the two-state paradigm has blinded them to Israel’s strategic importance to the US and caused them to see the US’s only stable ally in the region as a drag on US interests.

Many of Trump’s advisors, including Gingrich, whose name has been raised as a leading candidate either to serve as Trump’s White House chief of staff or as Secretary of State, have rejected this received wisdom. In a Republican presidential debate in 2011, Gingrich referred to the Palestinians as an “invented people,” and noted that they indoctrinate their children to perceive Jews as subhuman and seek their annihilation. For his statement of fact, Gingrich was brutally assaulted by Democratic and Republican elites.

But he never rescinded his statement.

Trump’s election provides Israel with the first opportunity in fifty years to reshape its alliance with the US.

This new alliance must be based a common understanding and respect for what Israel has to offer the US as well as the limits of what the US can offer Israel. The limits of US assistance are in large part the consequences of the many genies that Obama unleashed during the past eight years. And the opportunities will come more in areas related to Israel’s relations with the Palestinians and the political war being waged against it by the Europeans and the international left than to the challenges posed by the ascendance of Islamism in the Middle East.

To be sure, Trump is inconsistent. But from what we do know we must recognize that his rise is a deflection point in US history.

It is a rare moment where things that were unimaginable a month ago are possible. And if we play our cards right, like the American people, Israel stands to gain in ways we never dreamed.