The situation surrounding the negotiations with Iran and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress daily grows more ominous, more convoluted, and more contentious.
I would like to begin with the latest “scoop” – which is supposed to put the lie to Bibi’s charge in 2012 in the UN (complete with that famous chart) that Iran was on the cusp of becoming a nuclear power.
As Arutz Sheva described the situation yesterday:
“Al Jazeera began publishing Monday night several documents allegedly leaked from the Israeli Mossad – via the Spy Cables database shared with the British Guardian.
One of the documents alleged that, just a few weeks after the famous speech Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave in 2012 assessing Iran as being about one year away from building a nuclear weapon, the Mossad sent a confidential report to South Africa’s State Security Agency (SSA) stating that, in their estimation, ‘Iran does not engage in the necessary activities required for the production of weapons of mass destruction.’ (Emphasis added)
Ah ha! went the cries of those opposed to Bibi’s speech – See, he exaggerated, he misrepresented, he’s not to be trusted.
No so, my friends. And please do not take my word for this.
Today I contacted Brig. Gen. (ret.) Yossi Kuperwasser, until recently the director-general of the Ministry of Security Affairs. There is no contradiction between the alleged Mossad report and what Bibi said, Kuperwasser explained:
The Mossad was talking about weaponization. And it’s true that in 2012 Iran was not involved in the weaponization process – they had already done this before 2003. (I note that by 1998 Iran was domestically producing the Shahab-1 and Shahab-2, and by 2003 the Shahab-3 – ballistic missiles being one part of the weaponization.)
What the prime minister was talking about, said Kuperwasser, was the enrichment process: Iran had stocks of uranium enriched to 20%, and were in the position of being able to follow through to do enrichment to 90+%, which is what is needed for weapons purposes.
What must be made clear, however, is that in bringing the uranium to 20%, 90% of the enrichment effort has already been expended. That is, the hard part is getting it to 20%. To move it from 20% to 90+% – which is weapons grade uranium – is a relatively quick and simple process. This is the danger Netanyahu was warning the world about in 2012.
But there is even more, which I ask you to note as well, from Yossi Melman, intelligence correspondent, writing in the JPost (emphasis added):
“After promising to release a bombshell of leaked secret Mossad cables, Al Jazeera’s publication of documents later Monday fell short of that mark…Al Jazeera did not obtain an original and authenticated document from the Mossad…
“What they published was a South Africa Sate Security Agency (SSA document that is based on a briefing given to them by the Mossad. The document from 2013 contains no secrets and any reader, or follower of public reports on Iran’s nuclear program, especially the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is familiar with the facts written in that document.
“The Mossad provided details in its briefing, such as the quantities of Iran’s enriched uranium at its two levels – 3.5% and 20% – about the development of Iran’s nuclear reactor at Arak, and its statement that Iran is ‘not performing the activity necessary to produce weapons.’
“That assessment was correct – it isn’t possible to utilize fissile material for a bomb only with 20% enriched uranium – an enrichment of 93% is required – and Iran did not have it at the time of the document’s writing, and doesn’t have it now. Certainly it doesn’t present any evidence of a wedge between the Mossad and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with regard to Iran’s nuclear program…
“Israeli intelligence estimates are that Iran is working to be a nuclear power – a few months way from the ability to assemble the bomb – but not capable of building it now.
“More than anything, Iran wants the international community to lift the economic sanctions.
“Israeli intelligence researchers know that Iran is already on the verge of becoming a nuclear threshold state. It has the know-how, technology and materials to construct the bomb in a matter of a few months or perhaps a year, if and when the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gives the order.”
And so please, my friends, do not believe everything you read and hear in the current effort to discredit Netanyahu.
Please see, as well, yet another piece – “Now we know who to believe on Iran,” by David Horovitz, editor of Time of Israel (emphasis added):
“The Obama administration claimed Israel was misrepresenting its deal with the ayatollahs. Reports from Geneva indicate Israel’s concerns were all too accurate…
“After anonymous sources in Jerusalem leaked to Israeli reporters in recent weeks the ostensible terms of the deal being hammered out, various spokespeople for the Obama administration contended that the Netanyahu government was misrepresenting the specifics for narrow political ends. They sneered that Israel didn’t actually know what the terms were. And they made the acknowledgement — the astounding acknowledgement for a United States whose key regional ally is directly and relentlessly threatened with destruction by Iran — that the Obama administration is consequently no longer sharing with Jerusalem all sensitive details of the Iran talks.
“And yet among the terms of the deal being reported by the Associated Press from Geneva on Monday are precisely those that were asserted in recent weeks by the Israeli sources, precisely those that were scoffed at by the Administration. Centrally, Iran is to be allowed to keep 6,500 centrifuges spinning, and there will be a sunset clause providing for an end to intrusive inspections in some 10-15 years. If anything, indeed, some of the terms reported by the AP are even more worrying than those that were leaked in Jerusalem: ‘The idea would be to reward Iran for good behavior over the last years of any agreement,’ the AP said, ‘gradually lifting constraints on its uranium enrichment program and slowly easing economic sanctions.’ There is also no indication of restrictions on Iran’s missile development — its potential delivery systems…
”It goes without saying that this weekend’s developments in Geneva have only bolstered Netanyahu’s determination to sound the alarm before Congress next Tuesday. It’s also still clearer today why the Obama administration has been so anxious to query his motives and seek to discredit his concerns.”
“It is also still clearer today why the Obama administration has been so anxious to query [Netanyahu’s] motives and seek to discredit his concerns.”
Keep this in mind, please, as you read the hysterical accusations against Bibi. And I ask that you do something else. Speak out with the facts. You know the routine: do talkbacks on the Internet, letters to the editor, call-ins on talk-shows, put this information on your FB pages and websites, put it up on group discussion lists, etc. etc. Here is an opportunity to help Israel.
Yet another charge that is being leveled at Netanyahu is that the unrest he is “causing,” the tension he is generating politically in the US, will result in a reduction of American support for Israel.
The only problem with this charge is that it’s not true. A Gallup poll conducted between February 8 and February 11 indicates that seven in 10 Americans continue to view Israel favorably, and there has been no significant change in that number from a year ago.
“According to Gallup’s explanation of the results, these numbers suggest that neither the friction between Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama nor last summer’s conflict in Gaza significantly impacted on the US public’s perceptions toward Israel or the Palestinians.”
And then this piece of news:
Two Democratic Senators, Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Dianne Feinstein (D-California), have written a letter to PM Netanyahu, inviting him to meet with Democratic lawmakers while he is in Washington next week. Their intention is to “maintain Israel’s dialogue with both political parties in Congress.”
I have no more information at this point, but this seems a positive turn of events.
The negotiations in Geneva? Terrifying. Rushing at break-neck speed to something disastrous. News about how the deal is shaping up, and other indications that it might not come together.
I will be writing about this in up-coming posts, needless to say, but hope also to touch some other bases.
Curiously, a massive wave of vicious anti-American sentiment in Iran has been utterly ignored by vintage media, even as the Obama administration does its level best to position the regime as a nuclear power.
On February 11, 2015, the Iranian regime marked the Islamic Revolution’s 36th anniversary. Regime spokesmen, and first and foremost Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, emphasized in processions and speeches the anti-American character of Revolution Day, the Iranian regime’s hatred for the United States and its yearning for America’s downfall. Regime spokesmen motivated the public to participate in processions in which the regime’s top leaders, including the heads of the pragmatic camp took part.
With nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and Iran in an attempt to reach an agreement soon in the background, the displays of hatred towards President Obama, depicted as hanging from a gallows, and towards Secretary of State Kerry, who was shown as a devious fox were prominent…
Experts indicate that the deal being worked out by the Obama administration fails to address Iran’s nuclear weaponization program whatsoever.
Which should work out well in the future, what with its development of ballistic missiles, its support of terror groups worldwide, and its virulent hatred of America.
Hat tip: BadBlue News
Before I get to the ugly stuff, let me begin with a lovely scene: Jerusalem in the snow.
The snow fell this past Thursday night, accumulating to the better part of a foot and enfolding our beautiful city in a mantle of white. It is gone now because of heavy rains over Shabbat.
The windmill you see in this picture is a Jerusalem landmark. Built in the Mishkenot Sha’ananim neighborhood – the first Jewish neighborhood outside the walls of the Old City – in 1857, it was restored to working order a couple of years ago.
From the sublime – the beauty of Jerusalem in the snow – to the ridiculous. Because ridiculous is how I see the current political hoopla, which, yes, is also very, very ugly.
The issue is the scheduled talk by Prime Minister Netanyahu on March 3 in the Congress, on the subject of the negotiations with Iran. Should he go? Is he damaging Israel’s relationship with the US by doing this? Has the focus on Iran been lost because of the politics? Is this a partisan issue in the US, pitting Democrats against Republicans? And on and on and on…
Now it has been announced that Obama and Biden and Kerry may boycott the AIPAC conference, which is being held at the time Netanyahu will be in Washington.
And I doubt we’ve seen the end of this yet.
I am not going to belabor every step of this on-going maneuvering. It would be a waste of my time and yours.
For all who have eyes to see, the situation that underlies this is quite clear: Obama is seeking to throw up a political smokescreen. He wants to make things difficult for Netanyahu – to make him look small and less competent, to seem to be a trouble maker – because he desperately does not want the Congress or the American people to give credence to what our prime minister is going to say. For what Bibi intends to say stands a reasonable chance of undercutting the negotiations.
This is not about personal animosity between Obama and Netanyahu, it is about an existential issue.
It is not really a partisan issue, dividing Democrats and Republicans, either. A piece written in Algemeiner last week estimated that 98% of the Senate and 95% of the House of Representatives will attend. “Despite two weeks of intense anti-Netanyahu leaks, insults, and pressure, the White House has so far succeeded in persuading only a handful of Democratic members of Congress to stay away from the speech.”
I would say it is more an issue that divides the Congress from the White House. Which is why Congress should be given the courtesy of having Netanyahu share directly the information he has.
As to damaging our relationship with the US… In the end, what is being damaged is our relationship with one particular president, not our relationship with the US. Both Congress and the American people are with us. Note that just today Israel announced the purchase of 14 additional next-generation US-made F-35 fighter jets, to be delivered in 2016.
Were Israel to adhere to whatever Obama wanted of us now, it would be suicidal. In Hebrew we say, ein breira – no choice. Obama has to be challenged. Netanyahu has made the point repeatedly now that we have displeased American presidents several times over the years, and yet have sustained a solid relationship with the US. It started, our prime minister reminds us, with Ben Gurion, who flouted President Truman’s wish that he not announce Israeli independence when he did.
I am one of those who believes Netanyahu absolutely must not back down now – rescheduling his talk or changing the venue. There can be no backing down at this point. There has been so much talk about how politicized this issue has become. But for Bibi to decline to speak to Congress as scheduled would also be a political act, because of how the situation has been framed. He would be seen as weak, and Obama as the winner. And he would be letting down those who have spoken out for him to come.
Senator Marc Rubio (R-FL) makes yet another point: it is exceedingly important for Israel’s enemies to see that the Congress stands with Israel, for if they believe Congress is not with Israel as strongly as was once the case, they will be emboldened. He implores all members of Congress to be present, to provide the support that Israel deserves. They must not be distracted, he says, by the minor issues such as the way Boehner extended the invitation. Israel has been the most loyal of allies, and is in trouble now – and the members of Congress must provide public backing with their presence.
Please, see and then widely share Senator Rubio’s extraordinary speech:
The public figure who most recently voiced support for what Netanyahu is doing is former NY City mayor, Rudy Guiliani. In an interview with Israel Hayom, he said (emphasis added):
“Netanyahu’s speech is absolutely essential. If I had been in his position, and the third most important person in the U.S. [the speaker of the House of Representatives] invited me to speak before Congress to explain the danger of a nuclear Iran — of course I’d accept the invitation and come. You have to understand that I, as an American, fear a nuclear Iran no less than the prime minister of Israel and no less than the people of Israel. Think for a moment — a bad agreement with Iran would give a group of irrational and insane people nuclear capability. If I were Netanyahu, I would go to the ends of the earth to discuss Iran’s nuclear program — on any stage I was given and in every situation. In our case, it’s the Congress….
“I met with Bibi privately on two occasions two weeks ago. I told him I would be doing the exact same thing if I were him. I told him that the American people respect him and agree with him, even if Obama and his administration are trying to paint a different picture. Netanyahu is doing exactly what he needs to do: to come and speak out against a bad agreement, even if the government doesn’t like it. Most Americans agree with Netanyahu on the Iranian issue.”
In the course of this on-going political melodrama, we have just learned that Netanyahu has been accused of “leaking” information about the negotiations. In fact, Obama has now admitted that he has been withholding information about the negotiations from Israel.
Obama’s claim is that Netanyahu would “cherry pick” the information he wished to leak without placing it “in context.” He claims that Israel does not know the full context of negotiations, and thus is in no position to critique what’s going on. But truth lies elsewhere: Obama does not want anyone to know how bad the deal is.
As to not having full context, there are certain elements of what is going on that have been made public and are clear: that the infrastructure for enriching uranium would be left in place, that there are no restrictions on building of the missiles that would deliver a nuclear warhead, etc.
Key here is the matter of a confidential report from the IAEA, which has been obtained by AP and Reuters. Any deal with Iran that lifted all sanctions is supposed to be predicated on the ability of the IAEA to monitor its program. But, says, the IAEA, Iran is being “evasive and ambiguous” as it tries to do a full assessment of the Iranian nuclear program.
In the face of this evidence of the unreliability of Iran, world powers should not be wooing Iran for a deal, declared Netanyahu.
Not exactly “cherry picking,” is it?
I note with more than passing interest that Sunni Arab states have been voicing concern to the US about the impending deal with Iran.
What I wonder is whether these states would be speaking out if Netanyahu had not done so first.
Of course, they are not saying explicitly that they agree with the Israeli prime minister. Perish the thought. But this is implicit in what’s happening. And as I see it, it shifts the dynamic. While Obama is prepared to come out swinging when the critic is Netanyahu, his tone is more deferential with the Arabs.
In fact, we’re hearing something now that we haven’t heard in a while. For some time Obama has been saying that a deal is close, is possible. But yesterday, Kerry declared that there were “significant gaps” and that the US was prepared to walk away if terms were not satisfactory. Doesn’t mean they don’t still intend to push ahead (they do), but this is a different tone.
That the US is pushing ahead was made evident as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of State John Kerry were meeting today for “intensive talks.”
I end with this piece, “Divided over that speech, not over a lousy deal with Iran,” by David Horovitz, editor of The Times of Israel (emphasis added):
“It is time to reframe the dispute. We are not witnessing what is being widely depicted as a battle between the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government over the timing, content and ostensible partisan implications of the prime minister’s scheduled March 3 address to Congress over Iran. We are, rather, watching the collapse of trust between the two leaderships over the critical issue of thwarting Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
“The looming deal is similarly inexplicable to the political rivals of Netanyahu who are campaigning to oust him in general elections on March 17…
”Where [Zionist camp head Bujie] Herzog and other Israeli party leaders differ with Netanyahu is over his handling of the crisis. Like Herzog, centrist Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid does not underestimate the Iranian threat. They just both think that Netanyahu is acting counterproductively and for domestic political reasons by preparing to lobby publicly against Obama in Congress, when they say he ought to be working to shift the administration more discreetly, behind the scenes.
“Of course, party leaders like Herzog and Lapid have to publicly criticize and castigate the prime minister; we’re less than a month from elections, and their entire domestic political goal is to undermine Israeli public confidence in his leadership so as to unseat him…”
No, no. There is no “of course” here! Horovitz elaborates on this point:
”In truth, it can hardly be doubted that Netanyahu has tried to impact the president’s stance in years of one-on-one conversations and in the endless top-level contacts between his officials and the Obama administration. The nature of the imminent deal — whose terms cannot be independently verified, but are profoundly troubling to such diplomatic veterans as Henry Kissinger and George Shultz — would indicate that private argument and entreaty have failed…
”In these final weeks of the election campaign, the face-off with Obama has become one more issue for the challengers to use against Netanyahu…
”Three years ago at a graveside in Jerusalem, the prime minister eulogized his father, historian Benzion Netanyahu, for having ‘taught me, Father, to look at reality head-on, to understand what it holds and to come to the necessary conclusions.’
“The prime minister says it would have been unthinkable to turn down the invitation to set out his concerns in the world’s most resonant parliamentary forum.
“Israel and those who care for Israel should not be blindsided by the battling between Netanyahu and Obama, or between Netanyahu and his domestic rivals, over the Congressional speech.
“They should be sounding the alarm to prevent a deal that would allow Iran to maintain an enrichment capability and other core aspects of its nuclear program.
“Those who care for Israel, in short, should look at reality head-on, understand what it holds, and come to the necessary conclusions…”
By: Alan Caruba
We begin with the reality that the United States and many other nations are at war with militant Islamists. They are a growing army of religious zealots murdering Christians, Jews, others who are not Muslim, and even other Muslims.
In my youth America knew how to win wars. In Europe it bombed Germany into submission, leading its allies in an invasion that left Germany divided for decades until the Soviet Union collapsed. In Asia Truman dropped two atomic bombs on Japan because they didn’t get the message when Hiroshima was destroyed on August 6, 1945. It took a second bomb on Nagasaki on August 9 to bring about Japan’s surrender.
Millions died in World War II but the alternative would have been the loss of freedom for millions worldwide.
If one spends any time learning history, the primary lesson is that war has been a constant factor from the beginning of what we call civilization about five thousand years ago.
The Bronze Age introduced new weapons that gave the residents of the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East a distinct advantage over invading nomadic people, but the invaders introduced chariots and it took the Egyptians and Babylonians a while to catch up. War has always been about new, more lethal weaponry.
Why would we be surprised to learn that the Assyrians who originated in what is now northern Iraq or the Islamic State (ISIS) were the most violent and bloodthirsty of the ancient world’s peoples? Known to all their neighbors by 1300 B.C.E., their army become a source of terror for the Middle East during the ninth century. They destroyed the Kingdom of Israel around 732 B.C.E., but the southern part of the Kingdom of Judah survived. In time the Babylonians would defeat the Assyrians.
Not all wars involved religion. The Greeks fought each other and then fought the Persians. Alexander the Great, a Macedonian, loved waging war and was very successful. The constant factor, however, was war and, of course, Rome would become the greatest empire of its time, beginning around 509 B.C.E., fighting three Punic wars with Carthage, but losing an estimated 400,000 in the first war and 150,000 in the second.
Eventually, Rome was so powerful it imposed a “Pax Romana” on the entire Mediterranean area it controlled. In time, Rome would be destroyed by the “barbarians”, Visigoths, Vandals, Ostrogoth’s, and Burgundians. By 476 C.E., the Roman Empire was history.
After establishing a group of followers in the Arabian Peninsula as the “last prophet”, proclaiming Islam as the one, true faith, Muhammad died in 632 C.E. Within ten years, the Arabs had conquered Jerusalem and were taking aim at Damascus and Cairo. Baghdad and the Libyan Desert were the next to be conquered. They moved on to Spain and Central Asia.
During his lifetime, Ali, Mohammad’s son-in-law, was the leader of the Arab forces. As noted in Samuel Willard Crompton’s ‘The Handy Military History Answer Book’, by the time the Arabs fought the Byzantines and the Persians they had also initiated the great split that remains today between the Sunnis and the Shiites.” Shiite means “follower of Ali.” The Sunnis wanted to elect their own caliph.
After taking the southern half of Spain, the Muslim army was poised to take all of Europe, but their 732 C.E. defeat in the Battle of Tours put an end to further expansion. Their momentum in Asia was stopped in 751 C.E. with a defeat in the Battle of Talas. As Crompton notes, “in the century that followed the Prophet’s death, the Arabs took over ninety percent of all the urban centers in the Western world, and their conquests equaled those of ancient Rome.”
Which brings us to the first Crusade; it began when Pope Urban II in 1095 told a gathering of 10,000, mostly French and German knights, that a “new accursed group”, the Muslims, had taken control of the holy land were preventing pilgrims from visiting holy sites. The knights responded to his call to liberate Jerusalem by chanting “Deus Volt! Deus Volt!”—God wills it.
They were joined by a “Peasants Crusade” between 1095 and 1096. By June 1099 the knights arrived outside Jerusalem and what followed was a wholesale murder of everyone there. In 1185, Saladin, the emir of Cairo and Lord of Damascus, proclaimed a jihad—a holy war—against the Christians in the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The knights defending it were defeated.
A Second Crusade followed in 1147 C.E. but accomplished little and the Third Crusade had the same result. A Fourth Crusade resulted in the Europeans taking control of Constantinople in August 1204 C.E. They would rule it for the next fifty years. Years later, in 1489, a war drove the Muslims from Spain.
The spokeswoman from our Department of State who said that the present generation of Muslim holy warriors can’t all be killed doesn’t know that this is the way wars are won. You kill the enemy until the enemy decides that dying for their cause is not worth it.
If ISIS is insane enough to bring the war to our homeland (and even if it doesn’t), a war of total destruction will be the only way to end the present conflict. Currently, the Jordanians and the Egyptians are doing what they can to resist ISIS, but recent polls confirm that Americans are beginning to conclude that our active boots-on-the-ground participation is the only way this will end.
Obama is merely going through the motions of conducting a war against ISIS, but retired generals and diplomats have told Congress that only full-scale war will end the threat they represent.
Meanwhile, ISIS is committing genocide against the Christians of the Middle East while Boko Haram is doing the same in Africa. Hezbollah would do the same against Israel if it could. Given nuclear arms, Iran will assert control over all of the Muslim warriors, threatening both Israel and the U.S.
Our next President will have to commit to destroying ISIS. There is no alternative. That is history’s primary lesson.
Editor’s Note: The Handy Military History Answer Book is published by Visible Ink, $21.95, softcover.
© Alan Caruba, 2015
By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
David Axelrod’s book tour is off to a rollicking start, with perceived attacks on Hillary Clinton’s upcoming presidential run, and an absurd comment about the ethics and integrity of the administration he served so loyally, and continues to do so.
Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Obama, recently asserted something so patently untrue that it demands a response. “And I’m proud of the fact that, basically, you’ve had an administration that’s been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal,” he pronounced at a University of Chicago event.
The Washington Post leapt in to defend Axelrod’s claim by pointing to how President Obama’s approval ratings did not shift in the wake of the potential scandals he has faced since taking office. “It could be that scandals don’t have a lot to do with how Americans rate the president,” writes Hunter Schwarz for the Post.
It could also be that the liberal media, along with academia, determine what is classified as a “scandal”—and then refuse to report on scandals which don’t meet their own predetermined criteria. In this case, any lies, corruption, abuses of power, financial payoffs, or associations with unsavory characters or organizations that involve President Obama or anyone in his administration are never to be treated as a scandal.
The ongoing incestuous relationship between the Obama administration and the media often tilts in favor of the administration, leaving many scandals uninvestigated, minimized, or outright ignored. For example, both CBS News president David Rhodes and former ABC News president Ben Sherwood have siblings working for the administration. CNN’s deputy Washington bureau chief, Virginia Moseley, is married to Tom Nides, a former Obama staffer under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And David Plouffe, Obama’s former campaign manager, joined Bloomberg News, while MSNBC hired Axelrod.
President Obama even joked in 2013 that “… David Axelrod now works for MSNBC, which is a nice change of pace since MSNBC used to work for David Axelrod.”
With so many members of the elite media in bed with the administration, Dartmouth College professor Brendan Nyhan’s 2011 observation that “the current administration has not yet suffered a major scandal, which I define as a widespread elite perception of wrongdoing” becomes essentially meaningless. Nyhan said that a scandal becomes a scandal “once the S-word is used in a reporter’s own voice in a story that runs on the front page of the [Washington] Post.”
If Axelrod is using the same criteria, then, of course, President Obama probably can be considered scandal-free. But a real scandal involves actual administration wrongdoing or lies, regardless of the “perceptions” dished out by the media.
Axelrod’s comments ignore the presence of a number of real scandals which the mainstream media, including The Washington Post, continue to report on as phony—including but not limited to:
The deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 were greeted with a concerted public relations campaign by the Obama administration blaming the attacks on a protest inspired by a YouTube video, as revealed in the smoking gun Ben Rhodes email. (Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor to President Obama, is CBS’ President David Rhodes’ brother.) The media, including David Kirkpatrick of The New York Times, continue to dispute key facts of the case such as al Qaeda’s involvement, have championed erroneous Congressional reports, ignore evidence of a cover-up, and have generally covered for the administration by promoting the idea that this is one of many “phony scandals.” The interim report of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi details the various failings and scandals related to Benghazi.
The IRS targeted conservative groups applying for non-profit status from 2010 to 2012. In what some see as an attempt to influence elections, the IRS began requesting inappropriate information disproportionately from conservative groups and then delaying their approval, generally chilling free speech throughout the country. Lois Lerner, at the heart of the scandal, has refused to testify before Congress, pleading the Fifth Amendment. The media continue to argue that President Obama is not connected to this scandal, but it can be tied directly to the White House. The President has tried to assert that there isn’t a “smidgeon” of corruption at the IRS.
Fast and Furious
The Obama Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) encouraged gunwalking across the Mexican border of thousands of weapons, resulting, ultimately in the murder of border agent Brian Terry. An ATF whistleblower, John Dodson, spoke out in 2011 about the problems with the ATF’s decision to let guns go to Mexico. As I wrote about in 2011, Fast and Furious was a scandal that no longer could be denied, but the media continued to do so. Sharyl Attkisson recounts in Stonewalled, “But as outrageous and remarkable as the allegations are, most of the media don’t pick up on the story. They’re steering clear.” As I wrote, the scandal “involves some 1,500 guns, about 1,000 of which ended up in Mexico, and a Border agent…who was murdered with weapons found near the scene of the crime in Arizona. The weapons were among 57 linked to Fast and Furious which have been tied to at least 11 violent crimes in the U.S., including the Terry murder.” Like Benghazi, Fast and Furious resulted in real deaths—but the media continue to ignore or downplay this scandal.
Following revelations in 2014 that there was widespread Veterans Administration falsification of health care wait times, and that certain locations had created secret waiting lists for veterans, the media finally declared this a scandal. But it’s not Obama’s scandal, it’s a Veterans Affairs scandal. Hunter Schwarz writes for the Post that “It was a very significant scandal, to be sure, but perhaps not one that people laid directly at Obama’s doorstep.” The Washington Post’s Fact Checker Glenn Kessler recently referred to this one as a scandal, noting that only eight people have lost their jobs so far as a result of this veterans care debacle, not 60 as the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald said last week on Meet the Press. But as I have argued, there were really two scandals at the Veterans Administration at the time: health care wait times and the disability benefits backlog.
Solar panel business Solyndra received more than half a billion dollars as part of the administration’s green energy program, before going bankrupt. Its executives took substantial bonuses before the layoffs began. And, a Solyndra investor was also a major bundler for Obama, demonstrating a conflict of interest when the administration refused to turn over more documents as part of a Congressional investigation. And yes, the Post reported on its front page that the Obama administration had asked the company to “delay announcing it would lay off workers until after the hotly contested November 2010 midterm elections that imperiled Democratic control of Congress.” But NPR ran an article last year victoriously announcing that “Now that the loan program is turning a profit, those critics are silent”—as if that had anything to do with the crony capitalism of the Solyndra scandal.
Obamacare is an ongoing debacle of premium increases and high deductibles coupled with crippling regulations. It leads to less, not more, health care access. While the focus has been on errors made within the “Obamacare rollout,” the media continue to champion exaggerated statistics regarding the alleged 10 million who have received health insurance under President Obama’s signature legislation. In reality, this program marks a rapid increase in Medicaid, and many enrollees are part of a “substitution effect” by which people who previously had insurance have switched to Obamacare. The subsidies, which the media casts as essential to the law, are under dispute in the courts, and increase the burden on the American taxpayer. Even Politifact called President Obama’s false assertion that Americans could keep their health plan if they liked it the 2013 “Lie of the Year.” Meanwhile, the complicit media finds every chance it can to champion this legislation’s “successes.”
This list just scratches the surface. Executive overreach has become standard fare, whether on immigration or environmental regulations. The Obama administration’s penchant for controlling leaks, a lack of transparency, and a war on journalists has been noted by the likes of former Washington Post executive editor Len Downie Jr. who said “The [Obama] administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration leaks,” and New York Times reporter David Sanger who said, “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.” James Risen of the Times added that the Obama administration has been “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.”
The administration’s Middle East policies have been a disaster, if not scandalous. Just look at the growing threat from the Islamic State (ISIS) and other radical jihadist Muslim groups. More than 200,000 have been killed in Syria, Libya has become a jihadist playground, described by former CIA officer Bob Baer as “Mad Max,” and Yemen, as recently as September held up as example of where Obama’s foreign policy is working, has seen a coup by Iranian backed jihadists. And looming over all of this is the unfolding, outright appeasement of an Iran with nuclear aspirations.
What unifies all of these scandals and lies is how our news media have looked past all the administration’s corruption, treating, these occurrences as discrete, minor grievances, gaffes—or even conservative or Republican political maneuvering. This means that the constant lies by the administration, and President Obama himself, can be made with impunity. The media simply will not hold President Obama, or any of his associates who might tarnish his reputation, accountable.
It is just short of two years ago that Adelle Biton, then two years of age, was driving in the Shomron with her mother and two older sisters, when Arabs threw rocks at their car, causing it to spin out of control and collide with an oncoming truck. Her mother and sisters were moderately injured. Adelle, however, incurred severe brain injury. She spent a long time in a hospital and then time in a rehab center, before she was brought home, still severely disabled, to continue therapies.
Adva, her mother, was remarkable for her constant devotion and her optimism.
Today, Adelle Biton succumbed to pneumonia.
On learning the news, I cried. Such a painful and unnecessary loss of tender young life. Such anguish for the family.
And so, Baruch Dayan HaEmet. The Almighty has taken Adelle. May He grant healing for the hearts of Adva and her husband, Rafi, and other members of the family.
As to those who throw such stones (or firebombs or firecrackers), may He allow them no peace.
An occurrence such as this brings us upright, and sharpens our perspective. There are issues that truly, truly matter. And others that are imbued with nonsense and pettiness and self-interest. And I say honestly today that I have precious little patience for the constant flow of nonsense and pettiness and self-interest that passes for “news” these days.
Sadly, there is yet one more death I must report: Minister Uri Ohrbach, 54, passed away yesterday after a battle with an unnamed blood disease. He had worked as a journalist and author for years, before joining a new Habayit Hayehudi and entering the Knesset.
He is being widely saluted as a man of exceptional sincerity, gentleness and wit. What is clear is that this was a man who was greatly loved.
Credit: Alex Kolomoisky
So, let us look at some of the news that does matter (if only people would pay attention):
Just a week ago, the IDF and the Shin Bet launched raids in the area southwest of Jenin, uncovering large quantities of firearms, ammunition and knives – sufficient to “strengthen [Hamas’s] grip on the territory.” Hamas does not intend to stop trying, folks. Let us not forget this.
The IDF has warned the government that the PA could collapse at any time.
“In one of the scenarios that the IDF presented, a small localized security incident, like an altercation between settlers and Palestinians, or the throwing of a Molotov cocktail could quickly escalate to rioting in the Galilee and the Triangle area. With the weakened Palestinian Authority a situation like this is liable to lead to terrorist organizations taking control of the West Bank.”
Repeatedly, it has been the case that rumors spread by Palestinian Authority “leaders” regarding alleged Israeli threats to the Al Aqsa Mosque have served as incitement – whipping up the populace to fury and violence.
Now we learn from the Palestinian Media Watch that the PA is renewing this incitement:
For example, on February 5, the PA Minister of Religious Affairs Sheikh Yusuf Ida’is warned that since January, Israel has made “over a hundred attacks and incidents of desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Ibrahimi Mosque (i.e., Cave of the Patriarchs)” and that “the Al-Aqsa Mosque is in grave and direct danger and that with every sunrise. this danger grows.”
Similar statements are being made by others.
Defense Minister Bogie Ya’alon, for his part, has leveled another sort of charge at the PA. In a taped address to the annual conference of the INSS – the Institute for National Security Studies, he said:
“We tried after [Operation] Protective Edge, with Egyptian agreement, to facilitate the entry of the PA into the Strip, but they didn’t want it,”
“…it was clear that the only way to allow the more open transfer of goods and people in and out of Gaza to Israel and Egypt would be through the stationing of PA troops at the border crossings.
“We created a three-way mechanism – the [Israeli] Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Palestinian prime minister, and the UN representative Robert Serry. What’s left of that today? The coordinator and Robert Serry. The Palestinians ran away! They are good at accusing us at the UN and the Security Council and the ICC. But when it comes time to take responsibility, they are nowhere, and this was not the first time.” (Emphasis added)
In sharing this accusation by Ya’alon, I am not endorsing the idea of PA officers at the Gaza crossing. My intent, rather, is to point a finger directly at the PA and to be certain that people understand precisely what we are dealing with. With the focus on Iran, I hadn’t mentioned Abbas or the PA for several days.
Martin Indyk, who consistently works against Israel’s best interests, has just made a statement regarding what’s going to happen after the elections. There will be increased pressure on Israel to go back to negotiations, he warned, including via a Security Council resolution.
And my inclination is to tell him, and all of his ilk, to stuff it. We are supposed to make “peace” with these guys? They are going to administer a secure and responsible and peaceful state? Of course neither Martin or others who think as he does believe a peaceful “two-state solution” is really around the corner. But hey, if Israel can be weakened…
The lesson. We have to be on our guard in all quarters.
Of course, there is also the occasional politician on the far left here in Israel who says it’s time for us to withdraw unilaterally from Judea and Samaria since negotiations don’t work. Great idea! I believe they have oatmeal between their ears in place of brains.
Yesterday, Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot was sworn in as IDF Chief of Staff, replacing Benny Gantz. Eisenkot is described as “cool and calculated, someone who will strike hard and fast – but only if he has to.” He served in the vaunted Golani Brigade.
We can only pray for General Eisenkot’s wisdom and bravery and cool head, as he faces incredible challenges in the weeks and months ahead.
Credit: Israel Defense
The Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations is meeting here in Jerusalem this week. I close today by sharing a video of the remarks of Prime Minister Netanyahu to this group. His focus, of course, was his up-coming speech in the Congress on Iran. Worth a listen.
By: Benjamin Weingarten
The White House’s “Countering Violent Extremism” summit is barely underway, yet the message is already clear: the conference is politically correct — and far worse — a charade.
And that is a charitable interpretation.
Its sponsors are engaging in intentional obfuscation (e.g., saying “violent extremism” is the enemy), as well as peddling ineffective and ill-considered policy proposals (more community “empowerment”). The conference will effectively aid and abet America’s increasingly ascendant jihadist foes.
Violent extremism is not an enemy, it’s a euphemism. Terrorism is not an enemy, it’s a tactic.
Reviewing the Obama administration’s summit preview, here are its 10 most disturbing aspects:
1. Contrary to its big government ethos, the Obama administration asserts that national security should be driven by the people, not the state.
According to the White House preview [emphasis mine]:
Really at the core of our approach is that the government does not have all the answers in combatting violent extremism. It is, at its core, a bottom-up approach. It puts communities with civic leaders, with religious authorities, with community power brokers, teachers, health providers, et cetera, in the driver’s seat. They know their citizens best. They are the first line of defense to prevent or counter radicalizing forces that can ultimately lead to violence. And so our approach is to really embrace and empower what local communities can do. So we’ve been working with our federal partners and our local partners to put in place this approach over the past couple of years.
Again, this is not about government, especially the federal government. The federal government doesn’t have all the answers. This is about building a comprehensive network to fight back against violent extremism. And we are explicitly recognizing the role that civil society plays, the private sector plays, and that families, et cetera, can play in countering violent extremism.
Who knew the Obama administration had so much respect for and faith in civil society?
Yet of course, this faith turns out to be dangerously misplaced as…
2. The groups the president wants to empower are those who may pose the biggest threat.
As Patrick Poole noted in an extensive report for TheBlaze:
In December 2011, the White House issued the “Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States” – the local partners, of course, being Islamic organizations, including those cited by the Justice Department as working to aid foreign terrorist organizations. All national security and law enforcement agencies on the federal, state and local level would now have to consult these groups and rely on “local partners” as a matter of policy. And as made clear in Salam al-Marayati’s Los Angeles Times op-ed, Islamic groups complaining about counter-terrorism policies or training would disrupt government efforts to “counter violent extremism” gave them an implicit veto over counter-terrorism policies. [Los Angels Times link added for context]
Why should we care about this 2011 report?
A senior Obama administration official noted in previewing the summit that the report details the very efforts the administration will be hawking during the three-day event.
Local partners such as the Council on American-Islam Relations — an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest Hamas funding trial in history — has advised members of the Muslim community not to work with the FBI, and religious leaders to lawyer up as opposed to working together with law enforcement when it comes to potential jihadists. On the eve of the summit, CAIR is reportedly calling for the Department of Justice to “protect those who act in good faith to prevent violent extremism by engaging with [Muslims] considering it in order to dissuade them.”
A partner of perhaps higher standing is the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB), a group linked to numerous jihadis and jihadi-sympathizers, that is reportedly the primary liaison between the Muslim community and law enforcement in countering violent extremism. The Boston program will be one of the three held up as a success story during the summit, despite the ISB’s Islamic supremacist efforts.
Looking to the heart of Muslim communities, according to the Mapping Sharia project, imams in over 80 percent of 100 randomly surveyed representative mosques in America recommended the study of violence-positive texts. The correlations with these texts are disturbing, as illustrated below:
In Pew’s extensive 2011 report on Muslims in America, 21 percent of those polled indicated there was a great deal or fair amount of “support for extremism among Muslim American;” 19 percent did not indicate that “suicide bombing/other violence against civilians is justified to defend Islam from its enemies;” only 70 percent indicated that they viewed Al Qaeda “very unfavorably.”
As leaked Department of Homeland Security documents reveal, the second highest concentration of people designated as “known or suspected terrorists” by our government reside in Dearborn, Michigan. Dearborn’s population is 96,000, and it has the highest percentage of Arab-Americans of any city in the country.
In light of these figures, and the fact that jihadist groups worldwide claim they are at war with America, having committed over 25,000 attacks in the name of Allah since Sept. 11, 2011, one must ask, what exactly is the rationale behind leaving self-policing to Muslim communities when these are the very places from whence jihadists spring?
Such a policy of course is only baffling if you are of the belief that jihad is an Islamic tenet, and that Islamic supremacist ideology is what animates the vast majority of the world’s “violent extremists.”
But of course…
3. According to the administration there is no profile of a “violent extremist.”
Returning to the transcript:
[I]n the United States there has been violent extremists that come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and so the agenda for all three days is going to show a wide array of speakers and participants from all backgrounds who combat radicalization, violent extremism and terrorism in its many forms.
…In terms of the phrase “vulnerable community,” I think one is that we want to be clear that the evidence doesn’t show that there’s any particular community, there’s no profile that we can point to say this person is from this community, is going to be radicalized to violence.
4. The administration thinks a key focus should be on non-Muslim terrorist groups — like those in Colombia.
Per the preview:
Q: I’m just wondering, in light of the current events that Andrea Mitchell and others mentioned during this call, almost all of those involves Muslim extremism. And I get that the phrase for this three-day event is “violent extremism.” Might some critics think that you’re avoiding the world “Muslim” as though extremists in the Islamic communities are the focus — or are they not the focus? That’s my question.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: …I think obviously we want to be taking into account the current concerns that different countries are facing. But as I think will be clear from the variety of presentations and case studies that are mentioned — to include some of the media that we have organized to help catalyze the discussion that features some of the longer-running terrorist threats that people sometimes forget about in the current context, such as the FARC in Colombia, which is now in negotiations, but has been a designated terrorist organization for some time, responsible for countless acts of violence.
I think we will see through the complexity of the discussion that violent extremism is a broader trend…I think we’ll see in the context of the meeting itself the diversity that reflects the reality of recent history.
5. The administration disavows a link between jihadism — a word it won’t use — and religion.
Per the administration preview:
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Let’s be clear. We recognize that violent extremism spans many decades and has taken many forms. But we all agree that the individuals who perpetuated — who perpetrated the terrorist attacks in Paris and elsewhere are calling themselves Muslims and their warped interpretation of Islam is what motivated them to commit these acts. They’re not making any secret of that, and neither are we.
But we are very, very clear that we do not believe that they are representing Islam. There is absolutely no justification for these attacks in any religion, and that’s the view of the vast majority of Muslims who have suffered huge casualties from the likes of folks like ISIL or al Qaeda. So you can call them what you want. We’re calling them terrorists.
6. The administration continues its “mea culpa” campaign, attributing radicalism to economic, social and political disparities — but not religion.
Per the White House preview [emphasis mine]:
The final panel will focus on secure and resilient communities, and it will, in particular, begin by looking at the role of civil society, particularly youth and women preventing violent extremism. It will look at community-police relations and community-security force relations as a critical element of prevention. And it will finally broaden that conversation to address social, economic and political marginalization, including the effects of integration of minority communities.
Based on all we have observed from this White House, do you think that the onus will fall on law enforcement to work on “improving relations” with “violent extremist” communities, or vice-versa? Reports on the Minneapolis countering violent extremism pilot program, one of the three that will be presenting at the summit, indicate that its Somali Muslim community mistrusts law enforcement because it fears being spied upon. Does this give you confidence in cooperation from a neighborhood that has produced over a dozen known jihadists in recent years?
The notion that “marginalization” and poor integration in minority communities is the root cause of jihadism, as echoed by State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf is a canard. Not only are there very wealthy families from the bin Ladens to the Saudi royals who drive jihadism worldwide, but conversely practically every group that has ever succeeded in America came to this country poor and marginalized, yet did not resort to strapping bombs to themselves or chopping off heads.
None of this is even to mention the fact that Muslims, other ethnic and religious minorities and the most important minority, the individual, has at least historically had more freedom and opportunity in America than in any other country in the world. Perhaps the White House wishes this forum to be a vehicle for revisiting Ferguson.
7. The administration wants to rehabilitate and reintegrate violent extremists.
Clearly the recidivism rate for Guantanamo Bay detainees has not sunk in to the collective mind of the public, as the White House continues:
The third session focuses on weakening the legitimacy and the resonance of the brand of violent extremism. So that will include a panel on strategic communications, social media. It will include a discussion of how non-violent religious issues and education can be elevated as a matter of international and local-level concern. And it will look at best practices with regard to rehabilitating and reintegrating violent extremists.
Note that this is also in keeping with the Obama administration’s efforts through Eric Holder’s Justice Department to treat terrorism as a criminal matter.
8. The Obama White House has regularly partnered with and enabled ”violent extremists,” without whom a countering violent extremism summit would not be necessary in the first place.
One of the more unbelievable indications of the Obama administration’s willful lack of self-awareness is that it has regularly partnered with the “violent extremists,” aiders, abetters and sympathizers with whom theoretically this summit is about countering.
The administration is currently negotiating with Iran on its nuclear program — the largest state sponsor of terror in the world.
Several weeks ago the White House met with the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization whose 1991 strategic memorandum on North America called for a “grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
How can a president who so frequently makes common cause with, and whose interventions overseas have so consistently aided jihadists, have any credibility in countering violent extremism?
9. The summit’s very name tells us how fatally flawed the exercise is.
Little exemplifies better how ill-equipped America is to deal with the threats facing her than the fact that the Obama administration wants us to believe that we are fighting “violent extremism.”
Violent extremism is not an enemy, it’s a euphemism. Terrorism is not an enemy, it’s a tactic.
As many have said in recent weeks, if you cannot identify your enemy, you cannot defeat it. By not having the moral clarity, or even worse by exhibiting such cowardice in creating a mushy phrase like “violent extremism,” which not only obscures the enemy from the American people, but allows the Obama administration to associate all sorts of other peoples with jihadists is shameful.
Islamic supremacists are at war with us. It is quite evident we are not at war with them.
10. Finally, the key issues crucial to understanding the nature of, and means of best countering Islamic supremacism are not going to be addressed.
Were the summit actually to identify Islamic supremacism as the enemy, as the Center for Security Policy’s recent Defeat Jihad Summit illustrated, we might examine issues among many others including:
- The Islamic doctrine that animates jihadists both Shitte and Sunni, and the goals, tactics and strategies set forth therein
- The global funding of the jihadist support architecture
- Activist groups
- Educational institutions including America’s Middle East studies departments
- Media organizations
- Other agents of influence
- Jihadist infiltration of American political institutions
- The undefended borders through which jihadists are surely entering
- Legal immigration policies including visas for religious leaders, student visas and immigration from jihadist areas worldwide
- Iran’s efforts to infiltrate South America
- Radicalization in prisons
We should seriously consider the aforementioned 1991 Muslim Brotherhood memorandum on its mission in North America:
The process of settlement is a “Civilization-Jihadist Process” with all the word means. The Ikhwan [Brotherhood] must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions. Without this level of understanding, we are not up to this challenge and have not prepared ourselves for Jihad yet. It is a Muslim’s destiny to perform Jihad and work wherever he is and wherever he lands until the final hour comes, and there is no escape from that destiny except for those who chose to slack. But, would the slackers and the Mujahedeen be equal.
…A mission as significant and as huge as the settlement mission needs magnificent and exhausting efforts. With their capabilities, human, financial and scientific resources, the Ikhwan will not be able to carry out this mission alone or away from people and he who believes that is wrong, and God knows best. As for the role of the Ikhwan, it is the initiative, pioneering, leadership, raising the banner and pushing people in that direction. They are then to work to employ, direct and unify Muslims’ efforts and powers for this process. In order to do that, we must possess a mastery of the art of “coalitions”, the art of “absorption” and the principles of “cooperation.”