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The Temple Mount is in our Hands: The Legacy of the 1967 Six Day War

The 28th of Iyar in the Hebrew Calendar falls on May 23, 2017. It marks the 50th anniversary of the June Six Days War in 1967 that resulted in the incredibly swift victory by Israeli forces against the massed armies and air forces of the United Arab Republic led by charismatic Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser had led the creation of the secular Pan-Arab movement encompassing Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq. He was playing off Moscow versus Washington. He sought to ‘erase Israel from the Map of the World’ in revenge for the defeats in both the Israeli War for Independence in 1948-49 and the abortive Suez Operation in 1956 with the UK and France.

Nasser was seeking a secular socialist Arab empire. That is in sharp contrast to Israel’s current nemesis, Iran, that adopted the same slogan. It is seeking a Pan Islamic conquest of the Middle East and beyond with the aid of nuclear weapons, missiles and proxy fighters, Shiite Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi in Yemen.

Nasser ratcheted up his game plan in May 1967, demanding that UNEF troops withdraw from the Sinai so that his mobilized Army could replace them. He created a causus belli with the closing the Straits of Tiran, at the mouth of the Red Sea., to Israeli navigation. That prompted US President Johnson and British Prime Minister Harold Wilson to consider forming an international  flotilla to break the impasse.  Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin had other plans.  The country mobilized its reservists, deployed its forward forces, girded for possible action.

On the morning of June 5th, Israel launched virtually its entire air force of French made Dassault Mirage fighter bombers, Fouga close air support aircraft and US A-6 fighters in a brilliant attack from the Mediterranean Sea. It caught and destroying the Egyptian air force unawares at breakfast time. Later Syrian and Jordanian air forces would be similarly decimated. That enabled a breakthrough in Gaza and the Sinai passes that facilitated armored units reaching the Suez bypassing struggling Egyptian forces. Israeli forces in the north fought their way up and took the strategic Golan Heights from Syria aided by intelligence from Israeli spy Eli Cohen who had penetrated their military. His identity discovered he was executed in 1965, after providing Israel with key information on Syria’s forces.

What to do about Jerusalem was initially left undecided. The immediate question was what to do about the Jordanians who had occupied east Jerusalem illegally for 19 years following the 1949 Armistice. Initially concerned about the opposition it would meet from the Jordanians and in response to shelling of West Jerusalem, the decision was made on June 5th to send the 55th Parachute and Jerusalem Brigades to enter the fray. That culminated in liberating Israel’s ancient capital on the morning of June 7, 1967 with a radio message from paratroop commander Col. Mordechai “Motti” Gur, “the Temple Mount is in our Hands.” The Six Days of War ended on June 10, 1967. Israel had increased its territory by more than three times. Much of that would be returned in subsequent disengagement agreements and peace accords with both Egypt and Jordan in 1979 and 1994.

50 years later there is a legacy of unresolved issues: the question of Israel’s sovereignty over its eternal capital, the fixing of ‘secure and just’ borders under UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, Israel’s legal rights to “close settlements on the land” under International law, and the impasse over a possible peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel. Also outstanding is the matter of a possible move of the existing US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem enabled under a 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Law passed by the US Congress. However, it has been but waived every six months by four US Presidents because of ‘national security issues’, meaning resolution of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict.

On the cusp of the 50th anniversary of the June Six Days of War, President Trump is making his first major overseas trip to the Middle East and Europe starting on Friday, May 19th. His first stop will be in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where he will be addressing a summit convened by King Salman with 50 Muslim Countries, members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Separately, he will be discussing possible military aid to the Saudis and the Emirati members of the Gulf Coordination Council concerned over the threat from Iran across the Persian Gulf. He may come away from that encounter with possible proposals for reigniting the moribund peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.

His 26 hours in Jerusalem will include the first American Presidential visit to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount. He will lay a wreath at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and hold a private dinner with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Present at that dinner will be the new US Ambassador to Israel, the Hon. David Friedman, who in contrast to the President’s 2016 election campaign promises, has taken up his seat in the existing Tel Aviv Embassy and the official residence in Herziliya.

Against this background, we convened another in the periodic 1330am WEBY Middle East round table discussions hosted by Mike Bates of “Your Turn” with  Shoshana Bryen, senior director of the Washington, DC-based Jewish Policy Center and Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor of the New English Review.  The Center’s Spring 2017 Quarterly edition of inFocus, “Six Days and Fifty Years“, was devoted to a review of historical documents and analysis of the legacy of that significant conflict

Mike Bates overlooking Kotel and Dome of the Rock Mosque on Temple Mount 3-2014

Mike Bates

Mike Bates:  Good afternoon and welcome to Your Turn. This is Mike Bates. This hour is one of our periodic Middle East round table discussions and I have with me in the studio Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor of the New English Review and its blog, “the Iconoclast”. Jerry welcome.

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Jerry Gordon

Jerry Gordon:  Glad to be back.

Bates:  And joining us by telephone Shoshana Bryen. She is Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center in Washington. Shoshana welcome.

Shoshana Bryen 2017 headshot

Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen: Thank you Mike.

Bates: So a lot is happening in the Middle East always but this week particularly it seems like it’s even more active than usual. President Donald Trump will be visiting Israel on the eve of Jerusalem Day commemorating the liberation of Israel’s capital during the Six-Day War.  As we approach the 50th anniversary, Monday the 22nd, the President will be in Israel. Shoshana, what’s your overall take?

Bryen: Mike it’s not actually his first foreign visit because his first visit is to Saudi Arabia and I think that’s great. I’m really pleased that the President is going to go to Saudi Arabia. He is going to meet with the leaders of other Arab countries and bring that information to Israel and I think that’s terrific. The largest problem in the region is Iran. We get fixated on Palestinians but the problem is Iran. This will help them bridge some of the gaps between the Gulf State positions and the Israeli positions and could lead to very interesting things in the future.

Bates: Do you expect any activity, anything significant on the big elephant in the room and that is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Bryen: No. I think the Presidents take a position saying let’s start working on this. Let’s think about this. Let’s talk about this. I don’t think you will see anything major pop up regarding the Palestinians.

Gordon: Shoshana, what is this spat that has popped up in the press between Netanyahu and Trump? How manufactured is that and really what is the background for it?

Bryen: How about a hundred percent manufactured.  The first question was, is Jerusalem in Israel? Does Israel have control over Jerusalem and somebody said no; Jerusalem is not in Israel. The White House very quickly put out a statement that saying this was “not authorized communication and comments about the Western Wall do not represent the position of the United States and certainly not of the President.” That was probably the fastest White House statement I have ever seen, so I think you have people who are trying to look for trouble and if they can’t find any they will make some. There was also another comment that didn’t quite make the same level of press. Secretary of State Tillerson said something about “Israel and Palestine.”  So the Palestinians said, “Oh wow, this is great!” Immediately Tillerson said, “No that wasn’t meant to do that.” That was a mistake. So, I don’t think the problem is with the President and I don’t think the problem is with Secretary Tillerson. I think the problem is looking for ways to embarrass the President or ways to embarrass Israel.

Bates: Many of these communication mistakes are coming from within the administration. Do you see the White House as being undisciplined?

Bryen: No, I don’t think it’s undisciplined. I think they still have an awful lot of holdover personnel particularly in the case of Israel are not going to be friends of either the President or Israel.  If it was up to me I would ask for the resignations of every single person that worked there in the prior administration.

Bates: What is the symbolism of the visit, specifically to the Western Wall? Do you anticipate and that it probably will occur, do you anticipate that Donald Trump will visit the Western Wall? If so I understand that he would be the first sitting President to do so and if he does, do you expect him to be accompanied by Prime Minister Netanyahu?

Bryen: On the first one, yes, I do think he will go to the Western Wall. I think he will set that precedent and be the first sitting President to do so. Whether he is accompanied by the Prime Minister is very hard for me to tell. By previous common understanding, American officials are accompanied by the Chief Rabbi of Israel. This is a decision that will be made by the President and the Prime Minister and you can second guess it but I won’t.

Bates: Can you give us some insight on what the pros and cons of a dual versus simultaneous visit would be? Why do it, and why not do it?

Bryen: There are people who say that if he goes with the Prime Minister of Israel who is a political figure, it’s like asserting Israeli sovereignty at that space. It’s as if the President accepts Israeli sovereignty there. There are people who don’t want that. There are people who do. There are people who will say, no, President Trump hasn’t agreed that Israel is the sovereign authority in Jerusalem. However, you can’t ignore the fact that this is the holiest place in the Jewish world and so the President has visited a holy Jewish place with a Jewish Prime Minister so you can play it either way.

Gordon: Shoshana there was a very interesting op-ed in  The Wall Street Journal by Northwestern University Law School Professor Eugene Kontorovich. He is the architect of a very successful anti-BDS law that has been passed by several states.  He drew attention to Russia’s recognition of Israel’s capital in West Jerusalem.  What were his arguments to support U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital.

Bryen: Essentially Kontorovich said if a major power in the world can do that then the United States can do it as well and he is correct. However, the Russian statement is not as definitive or as positive I think as Kontorovich paints it in The Wall Street Journal. The Russian statement says, “We reaffirm the U.N. approved principles for a Palestinian-Israeli settlement which include the status of East Jerusalem as the capital of the future Palestinian state. At the same time, we must state that in this context we view West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

The problem here is that if you see East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state in those kinds of blunt terms you are essentially making a case to re-divide the city. If you re-divide the city all the Jewish patrimony stays on the wrong side. I think the Russians were making a statement of principle. West Jerusalem for the Jews, East Jerusalem for the Palestinians, that’s probably not the best way to deal with Jerusalem. At the end of the day the Jewish people need to have access and control of Jewish holy places, so I’m not thrilled with that statement.

Bates: Do you anticipate that the United States Embassy will move to Jerusalem?

Bryen: No.

Bates: Ever? Well, maybe ever is too long a time, I mean in the next five years

Bryen: Yes, right, never. You know I don’t know about five years. I do believe the President will use the waiver this time. I would point out that President Trump used the waiver process in the case of Iran a few weeks ago to buy himself some time on the specifics of what he wanted to do with Iran.  Several people in Washington went crazy and they said,” Oh, he’s not going to get rid of the nuclear deal and he is caving on Iran.” No he wasn’t. He used it as an opportunity to have the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense begin pointing out other bad things Iran does. It’s not just the nuclear deal. So the waiver is a mechanism for deciding how you want to handle a sticky situation. In the case of Iran, it was well used to begin a process of pointing out that Iran is just basically a bad country.

In the case of Israel which is a friendly country and an ally, it still gives you an opportunity to push off the decision and do other things. What I want to know is, what are the other things? My greatest hope is he will use the time to talk to the Palestinians honestly about their behavior and make them understand that their behavior is incompatible with peace. If he uses it that way  – give one take one,/take one give one – he’s probably on the road to something useful.

Gordon: Shoshana, Trump met with the infamous PA President Mahmoud Abbas in the Oval Office. Among other things he criticized him for doing was paying stipends to Israeli jailed Palestinian terrorists like Marwan Barghouti and their families estimated at over four hundred million dollars annually. Are any of these funds coming from U.S. taxpayers and what evidence do we have of the Administration and Congress trying to stop such abuses?

Bryen: I must say the money that goes to terrorists does not come from U.S. distributions.  We are very clear about it because one hundred percent of our money is tied up in  projects. We have projects for economic development, improving water access, healthcare and education. We also pay Palestinian creditors certain of them directly. The United States pays the Israeli Electric Authority because the Palestinians don’t pay their bills. So U.S. money is not going to terrorists. That’s point one. Point two is that in the meantime there are bills in the House and Senate to cut off U.S. funds to the Palestinians. There is one by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, there is one by Lindsay Graham, there is corresponding legislation in the House. The issue that I see here is that if we cut off our money and we stop those programs in infrastructure, water access, and health, the Palestinian Authority is unlikely to fund them so they will wither on the vine. They will die. Maybe that’s good maybe it’s not good, those programs will go away. The Palestinian Authority will continue to use its other money – UNWRA money, EU money, Saudi, Qatari, PLO, direct tax money, any other way that they get money.  That money will continue to  go to terrorist salaries so we may be cutting off our noses here despite our faces.

Gordon: Shoshana there was news in The Wall Street Journal about a Gulf Cooperation Council plan based on the 2002 Saudi plan for recognition of Israel. Why is that a nonstarter?

Bryen: It’s a nonstarter because it’s backwards. It inverts the process. UN Resolution 242, which is the cornerstone of Israel’s security emanating from the ’67 war, requires that the Arab states go first because they were the ones who waged three wars in 1948, 1956 and 1967. They are required, according to the UN, to terminate their states of belligerency and respect the legitimacy, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the states in the region. The only one that matters in that context is Israel. After that there are supposed to be boundaries drawn. The Saudi plan says that if Israel withdraws from all the territory it acquired in ’67 – which by the way would include the Golan Heights today.  Can you imagine what would happen if the Syrians were on the top of the Golan Heights today? If Israel would withdraw from all the territory acquired in ’67 including Jerusalem and the holy sites, the Arab peace plan says, after that, the Arabs will consider their 242 obligations. It’s backwards. It won’t do.

Bates: Are you seeing any forward progress in the peace process at all?

Bryen: What’s the peace process?

Bates: Now that’s a good question.

Bryen: Look if you are talking about Palestinians and Israelis, no there is no peace process because the Palestinians will be the last people to make concessions to Israel. They need the backup of the Arab states who pay their salaries so they will never go first. Now, if you are talking about the broader region, where Israel fits in, how the Saudis, the Emirates and Jordan feel, there  may be some movement. There is movement because the Gulf states see their primary enemy as Iran, and on that subject Israel is a potential source of assistance on intelligence,  weapons, tactics and training. There is a place for Israel in the region if you leave the Palestinians out of it for the moment.  That was the suggestion we got when President Trump stood with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Washington and it was a very good vibe. They were going to lift their eyes, they were going to look at the region, they were going to see where the spaces were for movement and I think they will still do that.

Bates: Specifically with the Palestinian issue there was a recent revision to the Hamas Charter that allegedly recognized the Israel.  People have touted it as a complete reversal of the position of the Palestinians.  Specifically, Hamas,  who previously had called for the destruction of Israel.  Their revised Charter isn’t calling for that anymore.  The Palestinians want peace.  So, if peace doesn’t happen,  it’s now the Jews’ fault.  After those headlines Hamas came back and told their people, “We said that but we didn’t really mean it.”  How do you interpret this revised Hamas Charter?

Bryen: You know what Mike? I don’t require interpretation at all. Go straight to the text of the new document.  Forget about statements afterwards. In the new document it says:

Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea without compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and without rejecting any Palestinian rights. Hamas considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem along the lines of the June 4th, 1967 Armistice line with the return of the refugees displaced from their homes in 1949 to be the formula of national consensus.

In other words, no Israel. If the Palestinian Authority wants to talk to the Jews and if they accept a fully independent Palestinian state as a temporary measure that’s okay.  They are agreeing to accept Palestine wherever it gets liberated but “river to the sea” means all of it.  Anyone who is looking for anything else it’s not in there. It’s pretense, it’s all made it up. Hamas was making a single pitch to the Palestinian Authority saying, “If you want to negotiate with the Zionists you can, but it won’t be the end of the war.”

Bates: What is so striking about that is the new Charter is overt deception. It wouldn’t be deception at all to those who are paying attention, so why was this celebrated?

Bryen: Because people see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear and nobody who read it said any of those things. All they heard was you could have a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Jerusalem and it’s not the end of life. It’s not, it’s a stage in the destruction of Israel and I think the Israelis take that extremely seriously. You know you can’t account for people who read into these things what they want to. You really should go to the text and the text is clear.

Gordon: Shoshana, the Jewish Policy Center, where you are Senior Director published a rather interesting monograph. I commend it for our listeners to obtain a copy. It’s all about the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the June Six-Day War, 1967. One of the more important documents included was written by the late Professor Eugene Rostov of Yale Law School who formerly was a Senior State Department Official during the Johnson Administration. He had a hand in drafting the provisions of UN Security Resolution 242. What were his basic arguments about Israel’s international legal rights for “secure and just borders” and “close settlement on the land”?

Bryen: His single most important point was the British mandate. A mandate is a mission to do something. In this case, the mandate was for the establishment in Palestine, in their historic home. The British got the mandate to do that and the Mandate called for “closed settlement on the land” by Jews.  It was an invitation to Jews to settle in Palestine. A lot of places became states in the 20th century became states because they consolidated territory by war or by political means.  There are lots of reasons the places became states, but only one place in the world is a state because the countries of the United Nations wanted to make it one. Because of the mandate; the UN invited Jews to come and live in Palestine as their national home.  The Jews relied on that promise that the UN wanted them to come to Palestine and create the national homeland for the Jewish people.

Rostov feared that if the UN and the West  betray those commitments, “it would take a long step toward dissolving the world’s community as organized by the United Nations.”

The UN didn’t give the Jews their interest in Palestine. Palestine is the return of indigenous people to their homeland.  The UN wanted it and they helped to create it and they invited the Jews and made promises to the Jews.

The third point which is a little different than the other two,  is the League of Nations and then the United Nations did not see the territories as “Arab.” They are not “Arab territories” so anyone who says the Jews “came to the Arab territories” or the UN “took Arab territories for the Jews”, this is not correct. The territories in that region have been occupied by the non-Arab Ottomans for five hundred years and in those five hundred years all kinds of people lived there. Kurds, Jews, Turkmen, Baluchi, Yazidi – all kinds of people lived there.  Israel was not created out of  “Arab land”  in the eyes of the UN.  It was created out of the remnants of an empire that was dissolved, and that strengthens the Jewish claim to the piece of land that they have or to other lands that they wish to have.

Bates: Jerry, we are rapidly approaching the 50th anniversary of the Six-Day War, June 5th through June 10th, 1967. As a result, Israel expanded their country significantly having captured the Gaza, the Golan Heights, the Sinai and the West Bank.  We understand there is a documentary that will be playing in theaters across the country on Tuesday night, May 23rd. What do you know about that documentary?

Gordon: It is a docudrama produced by CBN and it focuses on the struggle and breakthrough into Jerusalem of the 55th Parachute Brigade of the IDF headed by then Colonel Mordechai “Motti” Gur.  I want to read an excerpt out of a book about Jerusalem and the breakthrough that will give you a sense of the drama that occurred. Simon Sebeg- Montefiore’s book, Jerusalem: The Biography captures the climactic moment of liberation during the June Six days of War in June 1967.  Note this excerpt published by the National Post, “The Temple Mount is in our Hands”:

First the Israelis bombarded the Augusta Victoria ridge using napalm, the Jordanians fled. Then Israeli paratroopers took the Mount of Olives and moved down towards the Garden of Gethsemane. We occupy the heights overlooking the old city. Paratroop Commander Colonel Motti Gur told his men in a little while we will enter it the ancient city of Jerusalem where for generations we have dreamed of and striven for we will be the first to enter. The Jewish nation is awaiting our victory. Be proud and good luck.

At 9:45 a.m. the Israeli Sherman tanks fired at the Lions Gate smashing the bus that blocked it and blew open the doors. Under raking Jordanian fire the Israelis charged the gate. The paratroopers broke into the Via Dolorosa and Colonel Gur lead a group onto the Temple Mount. ‘There you are in a half track after two days of fighting with shots still filling the air and suddenly you enter this wide-open space that everyone has seen before in pictures,’ wrote Israeli Intelligence Officer Arik Ackmon, ‘and though I’m not religious I don’t think there was a man who wasn’t overwhelmed with emotion. Something special had happened.’ There was a skirmish with Jordanian troops before Gur announced over Israel radio the Temple Mount is in our hands”, hence the name of this docudrama. The docudrama portrays what occurred in the battle for Jerusalem through recreations and interviews with many of the surviving paratroopers who made that assault and liberated Jerusalem.

Bates: This docudrama that Jerry is talking about In Our Hands-The Battle for Jerusalem will be playing in Northwest Florida at the AMC Bayou 15 theatres which is on Bayou Boulevard between 9th Avenue and Davis Highway at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23rd and it’s one night only.

Bates: Shoshana, speaking about the Six-Day War and specifically the capture of the Old City,  I have three questions which I will ask all at once so that you can answer them however they need to be answered. 1) Why were the Israeli forces originally forbidden from entering the Old City, 2) why did they then decide they would go into the Old City,  and  3),after capturing the Temple Mount why did they give it back?

Bryen: There are three questions that are really one question.  The answer to the big question is remember that Israel didn’t think it was going to win that war and they didn’t think the Jordanians were going to enter the war. The Israelis were telling the Jordanians from the beginning don’t do this, don’t get involved, stay home.  The Jordanians for their own reasons began shelling Western Jerusalem from Eastern Jerusalem.  But before that, if you  remember  May of 1967 the Israelis believed they were going to lose. Twenty-five years after the Holocaust they believed this could be it for the remaining Jews. Rabbis were talking about mass graves.  So the reason they didn’t want to go into the Old City was they hadn’t planned on it.  Plus,  they were afraid that it was booby-trapped and that there would be greater destruction of holy places. And number three they just didn’t think about it.

Now, by the time they got to it was clear, they had destroyed the Egyptian Air Force, they were rolling in the Sinai, they were rolling on the Golan, they were going to roll in Jerusalem so they did it. They found it was not booby-trapped. The Arabs surrendered the city with not very much destruction.

To your third question. They didn’t give it back.  What they said was,  “The mosque on the top must be ruled by Arabs, by Muslims; it is not our space. Unlike the Muslims who in ’48 and ‘49 took all the Jewish spaces and they destroyed them. Forty-seven synagogues they destroyed, not to mention the Mount of Olive Cemetery. When it was the Jewish turn they said,  “No not us. We are not going to destroy it and we are not going to rule it.”  They went to the Waqf, the Muslim o, religious authority in the city of Jerusalem, which was under the control of King Hussein of Jordan, who is the guardian of the mosques of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. They made a deal that religious people would take care of religious space. It’s an amazing thought that having returned to the space of the Western Wall they looked on top and they saw someone else’s religious patrimony there and they respected it.

Bates: What they got for that respect was continued violence and even the Temple Mount you say that they didn’t give it back and I suppose arguably you are right. On the other hand, it’s being managed by this Waqf and Israeli police control the entry points to the Temple Mount. Muslims, with rare exceptions when violence is feared, can enter any time they want and can pray. Non-Muslims are limited to very specific entry times from very specific entry points and are prohibited from overtly praying on the Temple Mount.

Bryen: Well that’s a quirk. Because Israel’s Rabbinate did not want people praying on the Temple Mount and the Israeli Government took that as their signal – which was the answer the government wanted; a rare case of the Rabbinate making the government’s life easier rather than harder.  The Rabbis were concerned that people could find themselves praying in the space that was originally the Holy of Holies and you can’t and that’s a religious issue. The Israeli government said the Rabbis don’t want it, the Arabs do want it so we don’t want it. I don’t know what would have happened if the Rabbis had said the opposite. I don’t know where it would have gone.

Gordon: Shoshana one of the allied problems has been that the Waqf has been the perpetrator of excavating what is the archeological Jewish provenance under the Dome of the Rock and much of that has been scattered in the debris in the City of David scree pile. That doesn’t indicate that in respect of what the Israelis did to grant control over the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque that it respects Jewish heritage there.

Bryen: The Waqf does not respect Jewish heritage and I would suggest that the Israeli government made a mistake in allowing them to do excavation. It wasn’t necessary. You must remember there is a difference between what happened in the days shortly after the Six-Day War when first there was certain euphoria because they had not expected to survive.  In those first days after the Six-Day War the Arabs of Jerusalem were not threatening people. They surrendered the city rather than have it be blown up. They worked with the Israelis. They understood that they were occupied.  Things that happened immediately thereafter were in the context of decent relations. Over time those relations didn’t stand up for exactly the reason you said. The Waqf and the Arabs do not fundamentally respect the Israeli position vis-a-vis Jerusalem at all and the Temple Mount specifically. They’re not quite as nice as they used to be.  They continue to permit the Arabs to have a great deal of leeway on the Temple Mount and perhaps they shouldn’t.

Bates: I agree with that. I was in Israel in 2014 and I had a fair amount of difficulty getting to the Temple Mount. Ultimately we did get in and had a private tour from one of the Imams which is somewhat interesting itself.  I was shocked by how exclusive it is against non-Muslims. Non-Muslims don’t have decent access to the Temple Mount.  I just find that to be incredibly unjust. If there is any point of validity to the charge of apartheid it is the Temple Mount where the Muslims have it and the infidels don’t.

Bryen: Absolutely, but the Muslims will tell you don’t need to go to the Temple Mount because you are not a Muslim.  So what difference should it make to you if you don’t have free access?

Gordon: That means that infidels or Kufr as people call them in Islam.

Bryen: Yes.

Gordon: Or Dhimmi, subjugated people under Sharia law.

Bryen: And not entitled to the same rights and privileges as Muslims.

Gordon: That’s correct.

Bryen: Which is to say Muslims can go there when they want but you don’t need to and so you can’t.

Bates: If  I may editorialize for just a moment Shoshana and Jerry, Jerusalem isn’t really a holy place for Muslims anyway. They just want it so the Jews can’t have it and their claim is that Jerusalem is the third holiest site in Islam behind Mecca and Medina. This is based on the false story that the prophet Mohammed rode the winged horse from Mecca to Jerusalem on his night journey.  They claimed that he ascended into heaven from the location of what is now the Al-Aqsa Mosque accompanied by the angel Gabriel.  The problem with that nonsensical story is obvious to those who study history and just don’t take at face value what they are told. The night journey to Jerusalem referred to in the Hadith as the farthest mosque supposedly took place in 621. However, there was no mosque in Jerusalem in 621. It was Umar bin al-Khattab who built the first mosque in Jerusalem during the Rashidun Caliphate which didn’t begin until 632  following  the death of Mohammed.  Jerusalem wasn’t conquered by Muslims until 637! The likely date for construction of the first mosque in Jerusalem was 637.  That is sixteen years after Mohammed’s night journey..  If I may be so bold as to say it, Islam’s claim to Jerusalem is a myth and not based on fact!

Bryen: There you go making sense because you are not supposed to be reading the dates of conquest and things like that. You are supposed to take it on face that this is what they say it is. It is a problem, I mean I’m laughing a little bit but I’m not laughing. They will tell you that the calendar doesn’t matter. What matters is faith and we believe this and if we believe it then you must treat it as if it’s true. Here you get to something that you will see in the political sphere as well.

It is not just religion; what they call their “narrative.” That means the history that they make up. Saeb Erekat once said that he was a Canaanite and someone said if you are a Canaanite you can’t be an Arab, because Arabs and Canaanites were different people.  He said, “ Don’t tell me what my narrative is.” In other words, don’t tell me what my truth is. My truth is whatever I make it and so you are exactly right. If the dates of construction don’t match the reality of history and we care about that you’re supposed to say, “Oh well too bad, it doesn’t. It’s the narrative.”

You find a lot in the political sphere.  This is what the Palestinian text books do. They tell you things that are not true.  They say, “That is our narrative, that is what we teach our children because that is what we want them to understand.”

Bates: My motto is “truth above all” and whichever side that truth falls on that’s where I want to be.  That’s why it bothers me so much when people tell and subsequently believe lies.

Gordon: Shoshana, Charismatic, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser triggered the crisis that lead to his and the so-called United Arab Republics defeat in the 1967 War. What were his objectives, how did he treat the Palestinians and why does that resonate today given the Iranian threats to Israel’s existence?

Bryen: Nasser was not interested in Palestine or Palestinians. Nasser was an Arab nationalist and he had only two goals. First was to be the leader of the Pan Arab Nationalist movement and second to play Russia and the United States against one another. Yes, he wanted to destroy Israel because he thought it was important for his nationalist Pan Arab goals.  Occasionally, it was important to mention Palestinians, but the goals were always something else. The goals were always Pan Arab. How does it relate to Iran today? Iran is not Pan Arab obviously, however it is Pan Islamic and Pan Islam is a bigger and more expansive problem than Pan Arabism, but it has the same goal. It is the control of large stretches of territory and people.

Bates: And the re-establishment of an Islamic Caliphate.

Bryen: Nasser was not exactly Caliphate oriented because he was a secular nationalist. Now, the Iranians are looking for the Caliphate. ISIS is looking for the Caliphate. Al Qaeda is looking for the Caliphate.

Gordon: Erdogan is looking to create another Caliphate.

Bryen: Erdogan wants the Ottoman Empire back.

Gordon: Right.

Bates: Shoshana, you recently had the opportunity to interview Michael Oren, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States and the author of an outstanding book titled, Six Days of War – June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. What are your major takeaways from your interview with Michael Oren?

Bryen: Oren spent a fair amount of time talking about the difference between Pan Arabism and Pan Islamism.  But the biggest point he made was without the Six Day War Israel would not be the country that it is today and he means that in positive ways. The Six Day War made the borders of Israel much more defensible.  It made Jerusalem again the heart and soul not only of the State of Israel but of the Jewish people. The Six Day War brought religious freedom to Jerusalem. It gave the Jews a sense twenty-five years after the Holocaust, that they could compete in this modern world. They could live in this modern world.

What came out of that is the strategic alliance with the United States.  Plus, Israel is in the top tier of countries in terms of scientific and educational development. Other kinds of development include computers, music, agriculture and water technology.  All of that comes from the confidence to be who you are and to know that you can survive in the world. That is my favorite part of the interview which was also his biggest point.

That confidence has made Israel the only country in the modern world that has a birth rate that is above replacement. Israeli women have between three and five babies each and that is secular women. The Arab birth rate in Israel has gone down as Arab-Israeli women have more opportunities for education and professional opportunities, their birth rate has declined.  The birth rate for Orthodox Jewish women has declined for the same reason. More education, more opportunities in the secular world. The birth rate for secular Israeli women is going up and it is over three babies per woman which is more than replacement. It is the highest number in the developed world.  That is from optimism.

According to Ambassador Oren the Six Day War was itself a terrible trial of fire for the Jewish state, but what came out of it is a very positive optimistic and confident Israel which in his view and in mine can figure out how to solve their remaining problems.

Gordon: Shoshana on the back of your InFocus Spring 2017 Quarterly issue is a document you call your final thoughts entitled, “Back to the Future”. What are they?

Bryen: You cannot solve the current problems without going back to the fact that the Arab states have never ever recognized the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East. To solve the problem, they have to do what they failed to do since ’48. If they do that everything else is possible.

Bates: Any closing thoughts, Jerry?

Gordon: For our listeners in Pensacola you ought to come and watch this terrific docudrama called, In Our Hands-The Battle for Jerusalem. It will be shown the AMC Bayou 15 on May 23rd, the eve of Jerusalem Day in Israel at 7 p.m.  It’s the only showing and you ought to take someone with you and go see it.

Bates: Jerry and I will both be there and we hope to see you there as well. So, thank you Jerry Gordon from the New English Review and Shoshana Bryen with the Jewish Policy Center in Washington for joining us as well. Always enjoy these Middle East round table discussions. We thank you for listening today to Your Turn on 1330 WEBY.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. Listen to the 1330am WEBY interview. Download the Jewish Policy Center, inFocus Spring 2017 Quarterly, Six Days and Fifty Years .

Views on Radical Islam: An interview with Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President

The Trump Administration spearhead of the ideological war against Radical Islamic Jihadism is Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to President Trump and member of the White House Strategic Initiatives Group. He has recently surfaced as spokesperson for the Administration on this and related issues and been the subject of a number of media reports. We had prior knowledge of his views on Radical Islamic jihadism from our New English Review book review and interviews prior to his involvement in the Trump transition team.  Subsequently, following the President’s election he was selected to serve in the Executive Office of the President.  We were afforded an opportunity to interview him on a wide range of current issues on Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio 1330 AMWEBY.  The program aired February 28, 2017.

Among the following national security and foreign policy issues addressed in the 1330amWEBY interview with Dr. Gorka were:

  1. Why the Trump Administration is concerned about the threat from radical Islamic Jihadism?
  2. Who are the ‘self-styled’ counterterrorism experts criticizing the Administration for exposing the ideology behind Radical Islamic Jihadism?
  3. The dangerous threat of Iran’s nuclear and missile development, state support for global terrorism and hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East.
  4. Importance of Israel, Jordan, Egypt as allies in support of US national security interests in the Middle East.
  5. Possible formation of a NATO-type regional military alliance composed of Sunni Arab Monarchies, Emirates and states with possible links to Israel.
  6. Administration views on Turkey and the Kurds in the war to defeat ISIS.
  7. Global spread of Radical Islamic Jihad especially in Sudan, Nigeria, Niger and Mali in Africa.

What follows is the interview with Dr. Gorka:

Mike Bates: Good afternoon welcome back to Your Turn. This is Mike Bates. With me in the studio Jerry Gordon is the Senior Editor of the New English Review and its blog The Iconoclast and joining us by telephone Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President in the strategic initiatives group. Dr. Gorka, welcome.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka: Thank you for having me.

Bates: Dr. Gorka, you have been criticized significantly by so-called counter-terrorism experts for concentrating on addressing the ideology behind radical Islamic terrorism. Is there any merit to that criticism at all?

Gorka: It’s quite ironic that the individuals that have written these recent critiques are in many cases the people who are responsible for the last eight years of Obama administration policies. That completely ignored the ideological component of groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda and simply resulted in the atrocious situation we have today with ISIS declaring a caliphate of remarkable affiliates across the globe and with attack after attack occurring not only in America but especially in Europe. So the fact is denying the reality of what your enemy believes makes it very difficult to stop them recruiting new terrorists in the future. That’s my bottom line.

Bates: So how are you advising the Trump administration concerning the threat from radical Islamic terrorism?

Gorka: The President, even before he became the Commander in Chief, was very clear on these issues so we are just continuing the work of the presidential campaign. If your listeners look at a very important speech that wasn’t paid adequate attention to it, the Presidents’ Youngstown speech which was very clear on the ideological components of this war. Then we have the inauguration which was very specific, his fifteen minute speech that talked about the radical Islamic terrorist threat the phrase of your former President denied and refused to use.  Then we had  last Friday his address to CPAC which was just as strenuous and talked about obliterating the threat and wiping them from the face of the earth.  Our belief is that this is a war against individual organizations like ISIS. However, in the long term it is really a counter-ideological fight that has to resolve finally in the delegtimization of the religious ideology that drives groups like ISIS.

Jerry Gorda: Dr. Gorka, speaking about obliterating ISIS what changes might we expect in administration policies towards the Kurds in the war to defeat ISIS and the resolution to the conflict in Syria?

Gorka: Unlike previous administrations we don’t give our playbook away in advance. We don’t talk about the specifics of our war plan. However, the President has been clear that whether it’s the Kurds or whether it’s others in the region America is not interested in invading other peoples’ countries; that’s un-American. Our nation was born in a rejection of imperialism not the colonization or occupation of other countries.  Whether it is the Kurds or local Sunnis or the forces of Iraq, we are interested in helping our partners in the region win their wars for themselves. It’s not about American troops being deployed in large numbers, it’s about helping those Muslim nations and forces in the Middle East who want to be our friends help them win their battles for themselves.

Bates: Well speaking about them winning the battles for themselves there have been some news reports about some administration discussions about the possible formation of a NATO type regional military alliance in the Middle East. Is there anything developing there?

Gorka: Again we are going to keep our powder dry and we are not going to give away our game plans in advance. The bottom line is not the labels or not what we wish to package things into. The issue is the local actors stepping up to the plate with our assistance to fight their backyard war.  I mean it’s not, Christians who have been decimated, Yazidis have been decimated but by far the largest number of victims of the jihadist groups are their fellow Muslims. They are not just the Shia who they deem to be heretics but in many parts of Iraq and Syria and elsewhere the ISIS forces, the related groups are killing other Sunnis that they disagree with.  Whatever the coalition it will be very different from the smoke and mirrors coalition that was created under the Obama years which really wasn’t a serious force.

Gordon: Dr. Gorka, how dangerous is the threat of Iran’s nuclear and missile development, state support for global terrorism and hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East?

 Gorka: That’s a question that could have a PhD dissertation level response. Let’s just talk about the facts. We know Iran according to the U.S. Government is a state-sponsored terrorism, the largest state-sponsor of terrorism. It is not doing this recently it has been doing this since 1979 whether it is from the Iranian hostage siege crisis all the way down.  This is a nation that I like to depict as an anti-status quo actor. This is a nation that doesn’t share basic interests with the normal values of the international community. They are not interested. If you are a theocratic regime that wishes to forcibly and subversively export  your theocratic vision around the world what is the common interest you could have with America or with any of our allies? That’s the false premise upon which U.S. Iran relations were based in the last eight years and the idea that a nation that has that destabilizing ideology wishes to acquire weapons of mass destruction including nuclear capability means that they do represent a threat to all nations that believe in a global stability.

Gordon: Dr. Gorka, how important is Israel as an ally in support of U.S. National Security interests in the Middle East versus resolution of the impasse with the Palestinians?

Gorka: There is no greater partner of the United States in the Middle East. We are very close and we help the Jordanians, Egypt, UAE  redressing and improving the very  negative relationship that was established between the White House under the Obama administration and Egyptian President Sisi’s government. Israel, as a beacon of democracy and stability in the Middle East, is our closest friend in the region and the President has been explicit in that again and again So it would be difficult  to overestimate just how important Israel is not only to America’s interest in the region but also to the broader stability of the Middle East.

Bates: And what kind of role do you foresee for Turkey?

Gorka: I think that is in many ways up to Ankara. Historically, after it’s accession to NATO, Turkey became one of the most important nations in the alliance. It had the largest army in Europe. As a result of its location it was highly important during the Cold War geo-strategically. Recent events with an emphasis to rising fundamentalist attitudes have questioned the future trajectory of Turkey. The administration and the President is clear that it wishes to be a friend to those who wish to be our friends.  I think you know any good relationship depends upon both parties willingness to work together. We would like to continue a fruitful relationship with Turkey but that depends upon the government in Ankara itself.

Gordon: Dr. Gorka, the Obama administration lifted sanctions against the Islamic Republic of the Sudan on the cusp of leaving office. This despite evidence that the regime of President Bashir is raising a terrorist army literally to foment jihad in the Sahel region of Africa. What remedies might the administration consider to combat this?

Gorka: Again you are trying to tease out very concrete policy prescriptions from us and I’m really not prepared to do that at this point. Remember we are in week six of the administration.  However, we do recognize and we are very serious about the fact that of what I call the global jihadi movement isn’t just an issue in the Middle East. We like to focus on the so-called five meter target. It was Al Qaeda for a decade then it morphed into the Islamic state or ISIS.  There are large swaths of territory in Africa that are unstable, are not sovereign in the sense that the local government exercises full control over them. The mere fact alone if you look at Nigeria, the Boko Haram, the black African jihadi group has sworn allegiance to ISIS and Ab? Bakr al-Baghdadi and has been incorporated into the Islamic state, changed its name to the West African Province of the Islamic state. That shows you just how serious the situation is.  Jihadism truly spreads from whether it’s Aleppo, whether it’s Raqqa, whether it’s Africa, Mali, Nigeria or to the streets of Brussels or San Bernardino. We fully appreciate just how global the threat is and that includes Africa as well.

Bates: Dr. Gorka, it obviously includes the United States as well.  One of President Trump’s very first executive orders had to do with the restriction of entry into the United States from people from seven countries. The administration was criticized by the Democrats and the media, my apologies for being redundant there.  However, if you look at the numbers of those seven affected countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen,  have a combined population of  220 million people and there is a global Muslim population of 1.6 billion.  That means that 86 percent of Muslims in the world are not prevented from entering the United States and yet it was portrayed as a Muslim ban. How does the administration intend to come out with a revised plan that can avoid that criticism or do you think the criticism will come no matter what?

Gorka: The criticism will come no matter what because there is a fundamental disjuncture between the mainstream media, a perception of the world and the actual reality of how serious the threat is. These are the countries that either are state sponsors of terrorism or are the hotbeds of jihadist activity today be it Islamic State or Al Qaeda. This is a threat analysis we inherited from the Obama administration.  The idea that it is controversial is asinine and secondly you’re absolutely right. If this had been an Islamaphobically generated executive order then how is it the most populous Muslim nation in the world, Indonesia, was left off of the list? How is it the most populous Arab Muslim nation in the world  Egypt was left off the list? The challenge that was politically brought was that there was some ulterior motive behind the listing of these seven countries.  The fact is it is an unemotional cold analysis of the threat to America that was the reason for the drawing up of that moratorium of that list of seven nations.  But if you have a political agenda then of course you will spin things politically.

Bates: Another nation that’s not on that list is Saudi Arabia. Can you address the cooperation we are getting from the House of Saud regarding the overall global war on Islamic terrorism?

 Gorka: Again, it’s getting a little too specific.  However,  I will talk about some good things that have occurred. We know that there were issues with certain elements of Saudi society propagating or supporting the propagation of radical ideologies around the world. That attitude changed quite drastically in about ’05, ’06 when Al Qaeda started targeting Saudi officials on Saudi soil.  A nation that may have been problematic for several years has recently been reassessing its attitude to these international actors.  We expect to see even more positive things coming out of Saudi Arabia as we in the White House, especially the President and Secretary Tillerson start to rebuild the relationships with all our allies in the region that were so detrimentally affected by the treatment they received at the hands of the Obama White House.

Bates: Well if I may editorialize for just a moment, it is a relief to see an administration that is taking the threats seriously and is dealing with the world as it is and not as it wishes the world were. Dr. Sebastian Gorka, Deputy Assistant to the President in the strategic initiatives group, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon on Your Turn on 1330 AM WEBY.

LISTEN to the 1330 AM WEBY interview with Dr. Gorka.

RELATED ARTICLE: Swede Democrat leaders pen WSJ op-ed imploring Americans to avoid the mistakes Sweden made 

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

‘The Golan is ours’ — Israel Sovereignty and American National Security

A momentous joint press conference was held at the White House with President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu on February 15, 2017. For the first time in recent memory, a U.S. President was not demanding that Israel relinquish sovereign territory that had been granted under international law. That meant that the Jewish nation was entitled to negotiate secure borders in the land west of the river.

Things appear to be changing in the Middle East among the Sunni Arab monarchies, Emirates and states recognizing that America’s democratic ally is the proverbial strong horse opposing the hegemonic aspirations of the Shia Islamic Republic of Iran. An Iran that in consort with its proxy Hezbollah is actively engaging in creating a Shia crescent from the Persian Gulf via Iraq and Syria to the Mediterranean Coast of Lebanon. Moreover, Iran has control of two world maritime choke points in the oil trades; the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab al Mandab (at the mouth of the Red Sea).

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The Golani tree symbol of the IDF Golani Brigade of the Northern command.

For Israel there is evidence that Iran’s IRGC Qods force and its proxy Hezbollah are ranging across the vital Golan Heights frontier. That is reflected in clashes that resulted in the deaths of IRGC Generals and a Hezbollah commander, son of the terrorist mastermind Imad Mughniyah.   A frontier that is also witnessing the expansion of ISIS militia on the southern portion of the Golan frontier.

The Golan is strategic to Israel’s national security reflected in its annexation by Israel’s parliament the Knesset in 1981. Yet, there have been efforts at the UN suggesting that Israel’s sovereign claim to the Golan is questioned. That despite it being included in the original Palestine Mandate granted to Great Britain at the Sam Remo conference in 1920. After two climatic wars fought in 1967 and in 1973, Israel is not about to give up its sovereign claim to the Golan.Further, Israel’s ears on the Middle East can be found on the summit of Mount Hermon at the base of the frontier monitoring digital communications.  IDF Golani units are deployed on the heights of this important bastion.  The UNDOF force in the demilitarized has been routed during the six plus years of the Syrian civil war. Israel has provided humanitarian aid and medical assistance to Syrian civilians and casualties of opposition militias often treating them in field hospitals and in emergency cases sending them to hospitals in central Israel.  The Syrian frontier on the Golan divides the Druze community, the Israeli branch of which are loyal citizens and yet understand the predicament of their cousins across the frontier.

There has been talk of establishment of so-called safe zones in southern Syria at the apex where Israel, Jordan and Israel meet.  At issue is what international forces would staff it. Given the record of the UN peacekeepers it is dubious that it could effectively defend the suggested safe zones. Israel’s experience in the Lebanon wars indicates that it is not about to take on the responsibility of a security zone in Syria. The one in Lebanon ended disastrously in the pell mell withdrawal from the Southern security zone   in 2000.

That apex at the conjunction of the three counties frontiers is now the target of the Islamic State. A recent Jewish Press report confirms the activity of Islamic State Salafist militia overrunning the apex area of Southern Syria, Jordan and Israel threatening the Golan frontier. It reports that the ISIS militia is lead by a Palestinian Salafist. While the IDF Chief of Staff Eizenkot would like the UNDOF to block further movement by the ISIS, their track record has been abysmal. Thus his assessment is that the IDF on the northern frontier could see intense fighting occur this spring.

Jonathan Schanzer and Marc Dubowitz crystallized in a Wall Street Journal article, “Golan,” stressing the vital importance of Israel’s sovereignty.  They noted:

Benjamin Netanyahu has achieved his primary objective of resetting ties with the U.S. after eight years of tensions. True, the Israeli prime minister and Donald Trump still need to bridge the gap on issues such as Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy and West Bank settlements. But they seem to be on the same page on a broad range of regional matters.

That could lead to a breakthrough on an issue of strategic importance to Israel. According to reports of the two leaders’ meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu asked for U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

The move makes sense for both sides. It would provide the Israeli government with a diplomatic win while helping the Trump administration signal to Russia and Iran that the U.S. is charting a new course in Syria.

[…]

By recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan, the Trump administration would signal to Russia that, while Washington may now coordinate with Moscow on activities such as fighting Islamic State, it doesn’t share Russia’s goals for Syria.

Moreover, it would show that the U.S. will take a tougher line on the provision of arms and intelligence to Iran and Hezbollah.

Recognition of Israel’s Golan claims would acknowledge that it needs these highlands to hold off a multitude of asymmetric and conventional military threats from Syria—and whatever comes after the war there. Israel continues to target Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah to prevent them from establishing a base of operations on the Syrian Golan.

Recognizing Israel’s sovereignty in the Golan would also soften the Palestinians’ core demand for a state within the 1967 borders. If an international border can be revised along the Syrian border, the Palestinians will have a harder time presenting the 1949 armistice line along the West Bank as inviolable.

Against this background we reached out to someone who knows the strategic importance of what Messrs. Schanzer and Dubowitz have espoused, Ambassador Yoram Ettinger former Israeli emissary in Washington involved with Congressional liaison.

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Mike Bates

Mike Bates:  Good afternoon welcome back to Your Turn, this is Mike Bates. We continue with our conversation, our Middle East round table discussion. With me in studio is Jerry Gordon,  Senior Editor of the New English Review and his blog the Iconoclast.

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Jerry Gordon

Jerry Gordon: Glad to be back.

Bates: And joining us by telephone from Israel is Yoram Ettinger, former Israeli Congressional Liaison.

Yoram Ettinger: Thank you very much.

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Former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger

Bates: Ambassador Ettinger, from your perspective as a former Israeli Emissary involved with Congressional relations, how significant was the outcome of the joint press conference at the White House on January 15th?

Ettinger: I would say that the outcome of the meeting between the leaders of the US and Israel is very significant.  It signals reconnection of the US administration with Middle Eastern reality after eight years – and more years – of assuming that the Palestinian issue is the core cause of regional turbulence and the crown jewel of Arab policymaking. Now there is an Administration that realizes, with all due respect, the Palestinian issue is not the primary or secondary, not even tertiary issue when it comes to Middle East priorities. The current administration seems to focus on the major threats to the US as well as to Western democracies and the regional and global stability. These are: Iran’s megalomaniacal aspirations and its  aim to become a major nuclear power. Second is Islamic terrorism  and third, the need to minimize the clear and present danger to every  pro- American Arab regime in the middle east, such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Bahrain and Oman.

On all of those issues – Iran, Islamic terrorism, and the need to stabilize the pro- American Arab regimes – Israel plays a very unique role. The question is, are you going to sacrifice the very essential cooperation between US and Israel on the altar of the Palestinian issue? It seems to me that President Trump and his advisors may or may not go along entirely with Israel’s view of the Palestinian issue.  They are not going to sacrifice dire American national security interests on the altar of the Palestinian issue, which is not, is not, a core cause as far as Arab policymaking is concerned.

Bates: Ambassador Ettinger, I realize Israel is a democratic country, and like every democratic country, the people are not unified in their view of the world any more so in Israel as it is in the United States. But I’m curious. If you can generalize, what is the sense of the Israeli people to President Trump versus what we had for the previous eight years, President Obama?

Ettinger: Certainly Israel is highly diversified as far as ideology, as far as world view, even as far as Judaism is concerned.  However, one should note that a major factor in Israel is a sense of patriotism. We see that on the occasion of wars, on the occasion of conflicts with Arab countries, and recently on the issue of the Palestinians.  We see coalitions of all the big groups in Israel.  In fact, something which is not common in the US. The  majority of our special operation forces are very Dovish, and I emphasize very, very Dovish in their world view, and the majority of Israel’s combat pilots are also very Dovish.

And, their worldview has nothing to do with the fact that they are first to be called to serve during wartime, and they serve superbly.

When it comes to President Trump, the perception in Israel is that he is supportive of Israel. The public has accorded him at this point very significant support, unlike the case of the eight years with President Obama – when many Israelis sympathized with him as far as personality is concerned, maybe as it was reflected by television, newspapers, radio – but most Israelis were aware that as far as President Obama was concerned, Israel was not exactly one of his top positive priorities. When it comes to President Trump, the sense is that he does regard the Jewish State as a cardinal, positive element on his agenda.

Gordon: Ambassador, what is the danger of having a Palestinian state adjacent to the Jewish nation of Israel?

Ettinger: When it comes to Israel, the clear and present lethal threat is highlighted at this time of global instability, violence, and intolerance, tenuous agreements, tenuous regimes and policies. With a Palestinian state, Israel would be once again constrained to an eight-to-fifteen mile sliver along the Mediterranean, over-towered and dominated by the mountain ridges of the West Bank of Judea and Samaria. This is not exactly a prescription for long life expectancy. It’s a prescription for suicide, I believe.

But the key point is not what it means for Israel. For your American listeners, the issue is what would the impact be on America’s national security. And Americans should know when it comes to a Palestinian State, based on its track record, we are talking about a definite erosion of America’s authority in the Middle East and definite injury to very important American national security interests. For instance, there is the American-supported Hashemite monarchy in Jordan. A Palestinian State on the one hand and Hashemite regime in Jordan east of the Jordan River constitute an oxymoron.

Top Jordanian military officers made it very clear to their colleagues in Israel that the top priority of the Hashemites  is to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. Now the issue is not merely one more, or one less pro- American Arab regime.  A change in regime in Jordan would cause tectonic ripple effects, which would not be limited only to Jordan, but a definite spill- over southward to Saudi Arabia and from Saudi Arabia to the rest of the pro- American  Arab Gulf states.

This means that a Palestinian state could trigger ripple effects all the way into the Persian Gulf area, playing into the hands of Iran, also possibly into the hands of Russia and China and certainly adversely effecting America’s interest. It could create an Iranian block from Iran through Iraq, Jordan, all the way to fifteen miles from the Mediterranean. That  would mean loss of pro- American control of two critical waterways, the Bab el Mandab and Hormuz Straits in the Indian Ocean and the Persian Gulf, two of the most critical waterways for oil tankers, which would have an impact on the  global economy and  American economies.

You might also find a guarantee of naval rights, landing rights for the Russian, possibly Iranian, maybe Chinese, naval and air force, in the eastern flank of the Mediterranean, which once again would undermine vital American interests.

All this is based on the track record of Palestinians, which includes the waves of terrorism in the 1920s, 30s, 40s; collaboration with the Nazis during the Second World War; collaboration with the USSR after the war; collaboration with Ayatollah Khomeini after the demise of the Shah of Iran; and very close ties with Russia, North Korea, China, Cuba, and Venezuela.

Bates: Ambassador  Ettinger there was a recent  The Wall Street Journal op-ed by Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz of the Washington DC based Foundation for Defense of Democracies drew attention to the possibility of Israel asserting sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Why did Israel annex the Golan Heights in 1981 and what geo-political and national security significance does it have given the threats on the frontier from Iran’s proxy Hezbollah and Syrian Islamic opposition  and ISIS?

 Ettinger: First of all, the Golan Heights is not foreign terrain for the Jewish state. The Golan Heights is part of the Jewish homeland going back some 3,500 years .  As far as contemporary strategy is concerned, there are only two options when it comes Golan: will it be part of Israel, controlled by Israel; or will it be a platform for rogue organizations, rogue regimes. There is no other option, although again in the wishful la-la land of some western policymakers, one could transform it into an international, neutral area.  Certainly when you look at the Middle East there is no such thing as a neutral element or neutral space.

As far as the impact of the Golan Heights, once again on the region as a whole and on Israel. One can go back to 1970 when Syria was a major military Arab power, Syria invaded Jordan. With the US bogged down in Southeast Asia, there was no way it could stretch military hand and help the pro- American late King Hussain. They called Israel. Israel mobilized its troops and the following day – without firing a single shot, only through the posture of deterrence of the presence of Israel – the Syrian military withdrew back to Syria. That was possible because Israel controlled the Golan Heights in 1970, which meant we were at the point where we could reach Damascus and basically take over Syria.

Should Israel be off the Golan Heights, and once again there is violence which threatens pro-American Arab regime in Jordan, without the Golan (and certainly there would already be a Palestinian state), Israel would be in no position, have no power to exert any posture of deterrence to assist the US, assist pro-American Arab regimes. We are talking today about the proliferation of Islamic terrorist organizations, many of which operate in Syria, which means with proximity to the Golan Heights and should Israel get off Golan Heights, the only question would be: which rogue regime, which rogue organization, will then control the Golan Heights.

Bates: There is no question that the Golan Heights are critical to the security of Israel. I made a day trip through Golan Heights when I was in Tiberius a few years ago. It’s beautiful, sparsely populated area.  It is of  massive strategic importance. Why doesn’t the United States recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel’s sovereign territory and is there any chance that will change under a Trump presidency?

Ettinger: It’s true that Golan Heights is critical for Israel’s national security, but it’s also true that it is  very important for America’s own national security, America’s own posture of deterrence in the Middle East.  Israel on the Golan Heights, Israel on the mountain ridges of Judea Samaria extends the strategic hand of the USA. With Israel off the Golan Heights and certainly off the mountain ridges of the West Bank, Israel is going to be transformed from a national security asset to a national security liability and a burden on the US. And the US is facing, in my mind, intensifying, and not reduced, threats due to the current trends in the Middle East and throughout the world. The US cannot rely on Europe which has lost its will power gradually – and is also losing its muscle. Israel is the only element in the Middle East upon which the US can rely. It is probably the most effective force anywhere in the world upon which the US can rely on.

Bates: No, question about it Ambassador.

Gordon: Ambassador, what is behind Israel’s emergence as a world leader in high tech global investments and its impact on the country’s economy?

 Ettinger: Out of necessity, due to the attempt to strangle Israel territorially, militarily, economically; due to various attempts to boycott and sanction Israel; and due to real lack of natural resources, Israel had to rely on its brain power. We have managed not only to survive but we have managed to develop – I would say next to the US – a major global, high tech technological country, both commercially and militarily. Today, in Israel, we have 250 research and development centers operated by global high tech giants, most of them American, some European. These are the centers that develop for Intel and Microsoft, and Apple and Google, and other giants, the latest innovative technologies. Israel contributes to research and development in America, to the competitiveness of American industries in the global competition, and to America’s foundation of employment.

Bates: It is a huge benefit, Ambassador. We have been speaking with Jerry  Gordon of the New English Review and its blog the Iconoclast and  with Ambassador Yoram Ettinger.  You can find Ambassador Ettinger online at www.theettingerreport.com.

Thanks so much for joining us this afternoon on 1330amWEBY

Listen to the broadcast, here.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

PODCAST: On Defeating Global Jihad

Listen to the below podcast of the April 10, 2016 The Lisa Benson Show with our guest, Dr. Sebastian  Gorka, noted counterterrorism expert and author of Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War.  See our review, “Freedom is Precious and Fragile”, in the April edition of the New English Review currently serves as the Major General Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University. He is a much sought after guest on Fox News, BBC, CNN, Sky News.

Dr. Gorka was interviewed in by host Lisa Benson, co-host Jerry Gordon and Member of the Advisory Council Richard Cutting.  Gorka’s incisive responses to questions from the panel and callers presented key elements of his thesis that the war against Global Jihad is winnable.  His template for achieving this was the US doctrine and road map adopted at the start of the Cold War that led to the defeat of Soviet Communism with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 without firing a bullet.

Gorka was motivated to write this book in part by his heroic parents experience as refugees from the 1956 Hungarian Revolt who found freedom in the West. The other motivation was to portray the hybrid religious based tyranny of Global Jihadism.  In the course of the discussion he identified the grand masters who implemented the Islamic doctrine of Global Jihadism that spawned the competition between Al Qaeda and the monster it spawned, the Islamic State. He dismisses the false and opaque arguments of the Bush and Obama Administration that Islamic terror is perpetrated by so-called “lone  wolves”  and the priority should be given to  “countering violent extremism.” The latter ironically  has involved the Administration reaching out to  Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamic clerics perpetrating the same Global Jihad doctrinal messaging we should be defeating.   One of the Cold War templates he referred to in the discussion was the “long telegram” drafted by US Diplomat George Kennan in Moscow in 1946. That led  President Truman to announce the ‘containment’ policy before a joint Session of Congress in 1947. The companion document  he mentioned is  NSC-68, authored by Paul Nitze of the State Department Planning Staff in 1950 that providing a road map to victory in the Cold War

Gorka identified in the discussion four grand masters of Global Jihad.  They were  Osama bin Laden’s  real boss who created Al Qaeda, Jordanian Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, Sayyid  Qutb, author of Milestones, Pakistani  Gen. S.K. Malik, author of  The Qur’anic War that espoused terror tactics implemented by Al Qaeda’s bin Laden successor Ayman  Al -Zawahiri and American Yemeni, Anwar al-Awlaki, the so-called “bin Laden of the Internet”. When queried about what was it that the caused ISIS to attract more that 76,000 supporters from100 countries, 6,000 from the west including returning fighters who perpetrated the November 2015 Paris Massacres and March 2016 Brussels, he pointed out the end times significance of the eschatology of the self-declared Caliphate, the Islamic State.  The term Al-Shaam in  ISIS refers the mythic venue of the final war against the infidel Christian Jews and others, Syria and Iraq. The genius of Islamic State Caliph Abu Bakr al Baghdadi was he declared the Caliphate after conquering swaths of Syria and Iraq , the Shaam site of  the final war vanquishing  the armies of world’s infidels..   When asked about the significance of ISIS’ use of chemical, biological and so-called dirty bomb and drones for delivery, Dr. Gorka said we didn’t have to get too sophisticated about  creating  panic from Jihadi terrorist threats. He pointed  out the Washington sniper case with his son as a spotter had wreaked havoc in the metro area shooting victims on the beltway and in service stations. People were fearful of filling up their cars at gasoline stations unless there were under a tarpaulin. The message  Gorka conveyed was it doesn’t cost much for members of Global Jihad networks here in the US  to unleash terror in a major urban areas.

Besides  appendices  containing the Cold War template documents, Kennan’s “Long Telegram” and Nitze’s NSC-68 “roadmap”, Gorka also mentioned  he included in a separate appendix  a list of readings and a valued guide to better inform citizens so they might challenge Presidential nominees, US Senators  and Members of Congress on the issue of winning the 15 year long war against Global Jihadism.

To emphasize the importance of that goal he cited a question from a Department of Homeland Security employee  at a recent  briefing he gave who contested that  the real threat were the KKK,  some Militia group in Montana, noting  the bombing of a federal office building  by Timothy McVeigh in Oklahoma City in 1995.  As tragic as the example cited by the DHS employee was, Gorka asked the person wasn’t there something more contemporary than  unfortunately one that  occurred 21 years ago? The inference was that more Americans were killed  in 9/11, Little Rock, Fort Hood, Chattanooga and at a Christmas Party in San Bernardino by members of Al Qaeda and US members of the ISIS Global Jihad network.  The Pentagon, FBI and  DHS  at the behest of the Administration have redacting words like Islam and Jihad from training material preventing national counterterrorism and counterintelligence echelons from naming the religious hybrid tyranny of Global Jihad as the real threat.

Dr. Gorka’s  message to win the war against Global Jihad is laid out in a compact  44,000 words in Defeating Jihad. There is the option of listening to a  week’s worth  of audio tapes of the book during commute to work time. However, you can start by listening to this highly informative podcast from The Lisa Benson Show sharing it with friends and groups.

Our usually astute Europeam listener commented:

An excellent show and Dr. Gorka knows his subject profoundly. The way he explains the massive danger facing the free world needs to be distributed everywhere.The main problem that I find is that the free peoples of the world are still sleeping. They prefer to push the danger they are facing into their sub-conscious instead of demanding massively from their elected politicians to fight Global Jihad. Are these populations waiting for the day that Global Jihad will decide to use dirty bombs to assassinate very large numbers of civilians? Regretfully I think that the awakening will come only after a huge shock which is a dreadful feeling for me.

RELATED ARTICLE: Kuwaiti Urges Arab & Muslim States to Recognize Israel Immediately

EDITORS NOTE: This podcast and column originally appeared in the New English Review.

The Counter-Terrorism Impasse in Afghanistan, Israel and the United States

by Jerry Gordon, Lisa Benson and Richard Cutting…

The New Year marks the 14th year in the conflict in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan with the Taliban. Following 9/11, a victory against the Salafist Taliban was achieved in less than six months with special operators of the US and cadres of Afghan war lords. Fast forward to the fall of 2015, the Taliban has undertaken stunning attacks against NATO-ISAF forces. There was the brief Taliban takeover of the northern regional capital of Kunduz in September 2015 culminating with the mistaken USAF bombing of a Medicins sans Frontiere hospital with 26 dead. There was the instability of local regional police and Afghan security failing to prevent the Taliban from regaining control over Helmand province. An explosives laden motorcycle attack on December 22, 2015 on a joint NATO-ISAF Afghan patrol took the lives of six Americans, including a 15–year veteran of the NYPD, John Lamm. Stratfor in an analysis of the situation in Afghanistan commented:

Without local support and adequate resources, the Afghan government will not be able to keep crucial areas from falling to the Taliban. Winning public support domestically and securing international aid, important in any counterinsurgency, will remain vital components of Kabul’s fight for survival in the Afghanistan conflict.

A serious emerging threat was the rise of ISIS in Afghanistan and the eruption of a barbaric internecine war between the two extremist Islamic groups. That was graphically portrayed in a PBS Frontline report in November 2015, ”ISIS in Afghanistan.” In neighboring Pakistan, the Taliban have spread havoc beyond their bastion in Northwest Waziristan conducting terror attacks in Islamabad and Lahore. Emblematic of that was an attack that killed 22 on January 20, 2016 by the Pakistani Taliban at Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Pakistan.

The Obama Administration was poised at the start of its final year in office with less than 9,800 US forces in Afghanistan winding down to less than 5,500 engaged in primarily advisory and training roles. That was supplemented by a few thousand NATO forces under the ISAF Command.  During hearings in the fall of 2015 before the US Senate and House Armed Services, in testimony by US Amy General John Campbell, he called for the equivalent of a surge in Afghanistan. In a USA Today interview he said: “My intent would be to keep as much as I could for as long as I could. If that means more people, it’s more people.” In response to his and other military experts’ testimony, Senate Armed Services Chairman, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain commented:

We have made significant and steady progress in Afghanistan. But as U.S. military officials and diplomats have warned for years – I repeat, for years – these gains are still reversible, and a robust and adaptive U.S. troop presence based on conditions on the ground is essential to ensuring that these gains endure.

Failure to adopt such a conditions-based plan, these experts have warned, would invite the same tragedy that has unfolded in Iraq since 2011. If we have learned anything from that nightmare, it is that wars do not end just because politicians say so.

An additional burden has been placed on Gen. Campbell. On January 20, 2016, the White House announced that the U.S.-led ISAF could now undertake operations against the growing ISIS threat in eastern Afghanistan.

The Pakistani counterterrorism effort has been brought into question given the announced retirement on January 25, 2016 of Armed Forces strategic thinker, Gen. Raheel Sharif, who will leave in November 2016. The popular General Sharif had led the tough counterterrorism campaign against the Pakistani Taliban and other Islamist terror groups.

Embattled Israel was confronting a low-intensity wave of violence that the media has labeled, a “knife intifada.” It has been waged daily since September 2015 by Palestinians and some Israeli Arabs allegedly incited by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian and Israeli Arab violence has claimed 29 Israeli, US and foreign migrants dead. Dozens were injured from knifings, car rammings and shootings. 149 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security. In one troubling case, in January 2016, an Israeli Arab using a semi-automatic weapon at a Tel Aviv café killed three persons. He fled the scene and was eventually tracked by Israeli security forces to his home area in Northern Israel and killed.

In June 2015, the Palestinian Authority in an apparent “diplomatic Intifada” brought charges before the International Criminal Court at The Hague in the Netherlands. The PA alleged that the IDF had committed “war crimes” during the 50 day summer rocket and tunnel war in 2014  waged cross border by the terrorist group Hamas. The ICC released preliminary findings which brought this reaction from Israel’s Justice and Foreign Ministries according to a Jerusalem Post report, “Israel has an engagement with the ICC over competence issues.”

 “Competence” is a code word for trying to convince the ICC that there is no state of “Palestine” and that the ICC cannot investigate IDF personnel, because the IDF’s own investigations of its personnel meet international law standards.

An International Military Tribunal presented testimony at the UN Human Rights Council probe chaired by former New York Supreme Court Justice Mary McGowan Davis in mid-June 2015. The Tribunal, composed of former generals and diplomats, concluded that ”the IDF acted within the bounds of international law during its war with Hamas in Gaza.” Further, the group’s report concluded:

During Operation Protective Edge last summer, in the air, on the ground and at sea, Israel not only met a reasonable international standard of observance of the laws of armed conflict, but in many cases significantly exceeded that standard.

We saw clear evidence of this from the upper to the lower levels of command. A measure of the seriousness with which Israel took its moral duties and its responsibilities under the laws of armed conflict is that, in some cases, Israel’s scrupulous adherence to the laws of war cost Israeli soldiers’ and civilians’ lives.

One of those who presented testimony was former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan, Col. Richard E. Kemp (ret.), CBE.  In a New York Times op-ed, Kemp disputed the ruling by UNHRC Special Rapporteur Judge Davis, saying:

It pains me greatly to see words and actions from the United Nations that can only provoke further violence and loss of life. The United Nations Human Rights Council report on last summer’s conflict in Gaza … will do just that.

[…]

The former British commander wondered why the commission refused to incorporate a 242-page report commissioned by Israel after it declined to cooperate with the U.N. Commission, which included findings by 11 senior military officials from seven nations, including Kemp and Chairman of the Unites States Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey. That report said Israel’s actions were “lawful” and “legitimate” and rejected claims the IDF intentionally targeted civilians.

Kemp also noted several internal contradictions in the U.N. report, such as acknowledging that Israel Defense Forces tactics saved lives while indicting “decision makers at the highest levels of the government of Israel of a policy of deliberately killing civilians.”

He accused the U.N. commission of endorsing “Hamas’s anti-Israel narrative.”

Kemp said he was in Israel for much of the 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza last summer.

When the Paris and San Bernardino massacres occurred in November and December 2015, with large mass casualties, the worst since 9/11 in the California jihad attack, questions were raised about both fraudulent passport and questionable Visa screening procedures. This was especially the case as the US DHS was responsible for vetting Iraqi and Syrian refugees being admitted  under the authorized US Refugee Admissions Program.

Given the infiltration by ISIS operatives in the stream of Syrian asylees flooding into Europe, including jihadis killed in the Paris attack, Congress created legislation – the Security Against Foreign Enemies or SAFE Act, H.R. 4038. The SAFE Act required additional clearances by the FBI and unanimous consent by the DHS, FBI and Director of National Intelligence before Iraqi and Syrian refugees could be admitted. It was passed by the House on November 19, 2015 by a vote of 239 to 137, including 47 Minority Democrats. The SAFE legislation was rejected from consideration by the US Senate on January 20, 2016. The bill was “provisionally dead due to a failed vote for cloture required to move past a Senate filibuster or the threat of a filibuster that required a 3/5th vote.” The measure couldn’t be considered as Senate Republicans could only muster 55 votes. That still left the dual questions of how we could stem the flood of Iraqi and Syrian conflict refugees into the US.

Against this background, The Lisa Benson Show convened a discussion about these issues in a January 10, 2015 broadcast with guests Counterterrorism experts Col. Richard E. Kemp (ret.) CBE, and Dr. Sebastian Gorka.

Listen to the podcast of the Lisa Benson Show broadcast with Kemp and Gorka.

Lisa Benson

Lisa Benson: Welcome, America. Welcome, everyone. And good evening to our friends listening from around the world tonight. Shalom to our friends joining us from Israel, and we thank them for staying up. It’s 10:00 PM in Israel. This is your host, Lisa Benson. Our broadcast today has two distinguished guests, very highly qualified counterterrorism experts. They are Dr. Sebastian Gorka, often seen on FOX News, andColonel Richard Kemp, the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan.

There are several breaking stories we are watching today. As you heard this week, the insurgency of ISIS sympathizers in the United States is on the rise. This is evidenced by the attacks in San Bernardino and Philadelphia. ISIS sympathizers were arrested in Sacramento, Rochester, New York, and Houston, Texas. At the same time, we are learning that the New York Police Department is being curtailed on profiling Muslimsunder suspicion, and an award of $11 million has been made to Muslim advocates. That story was in the Wall Street Journal weekend edition. We are going to discuss that with Dr. Gorka today. Adding to the nexus of international geopolitics, the Saudi Arabians are cutting their ties with Iran. North Koreans are claiming detonation of an H-bomb. ISIS and Hezbollah are on the northern Israeli border. Sanctions are to be lifted on Iran this week or next. Transfer of $100 billion to Iran, and still we do not have a signed agreement on the Iran deal that our lawmakers handed them on a silver platter. All the while, Iran continues to violate the agreement, but we will lift our sanctions. You know full well what will happen to those released funds. The Taliban, ISIS and Al-Qaeda are on the rise in Afghanistan. Those are just a few of the stories we have been following this week.  Jerry Gordon, are you with me?

Jerry Gordon

Jerry Gordon:  I am with you.

Benson:  Thank you so much. Jerry Gordon, senior editor, New English Review, our honorary, board member, and co-producer of this show.

Gordon:  Thank you.

Benson:  It is quite an honor to have once again back with us, Col. Richard Kemp. Col. Kemp, are you there?

Colonel Richard Kemp

Col. Richard Kemp:  I’m here, and it’s a real pleasure to be with you.

Benson:  Richard Kemp is the best-selling author of Attack State Red and a regular columnist for the Times of London. He frequently writes for other national and international newspapers, and is a prolific contributor to television and radio news and current affairs programs. He is a Distinguished Fellow at the Gatestone Institute. Col. Kemp was a front-line observer in three IDF operations against Hamas in Gaza in 2009,2012, and 2014. He has presented expert testimony on IDF counterterrorism operations in Gaza before the tribunals of the United Nations. Richard, I was reading your Facebook page, and one thing that strikes me is you think the Royals should pay a visit to Israel.

Kemp:  Yes, I go there as often as I possibly can. It’s an absolutely brillian country. The only democracy in the Middle East. They have been at war constantly since, the modern State of Israel was founded in 1948. They have been attacked many times, both by conventional armies and by terrorists using rocket attacks from Gaza. Yet they manage to not only to maintain their country, to develop their country, which has produced major benefits, inventions and technical advancements for the world. I think it’s a fantastic country. I do think the British royal family should go there. They haven’t.

The Queen hasn’t visited Israel. She is the head of the Church of England. The Church of England, of course, owes its origins to Jerusalem. I think it is time that the royal family should visit in 2017 which is the anniversary of the re-conquest of Jerusalem by General Allenby, who headed British Empire forces, liberating Jerusalem from the Turks. Many British and Empire soldiers, particularly Australians and New Zealanders, died in that, in Palestine. I think that it is the time for the Queen to commemorate the deaths of those brave soldiers.

Benson:  I hope you can make that happen. Your Prime Minister Cameron should be whispering into our president’s ear on why exactly he deemed the MuslimBrotherhood a terrorist organization. We just can’t seem to make that kind of headway here. The president of the United States believes that the Muslim Brotherhood in America is a moderate entity. Would you like to tell the listeners why that was important for you in Great Britain to deem them a terrorist organization that follows suit with the United Arab Emirates?

Kemp:  Our prime minister has many failings and faults, as do every prime minister, every other human being. However, one thing that you can say for him is that he is a strong supporter and friend of Israel. He made a speech two years ago in the Knesset in which he spelled out very clearly the, the United Kingdom’s support for Israel. Not perfect by any means, but it is there. We enjoy very, very close relations, particularly on the intelligence front with the upper levels of Israeli military. Israeli battlefield and medical technology have saved the lives of British soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, as it has American soldiers. The Muslim Brotherhood is an evil organization. It is an organization that wishes to spread the Islamic caliphate into Europe. That wishes to effectively take over all governments in the Middle East and in Europe as well. It would run them along Islamic lines. And, that also includes Israel. The terrorist organization Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. They are very closely linked.  They wish to destroy the state of Israel. They wish to drive Israel into the sea. They want to see all Jews out of not only Israel, but the world as well. That is in their charter. The Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas have very similar objectives. In some respects, similar also to the Islamic State, which of course, is involved in the worst depravity we are seeing in the world today.  Witness the torture, murder, massacre, abuse that takes place throughout the Middle East under their dispensation. So I think our prime minister, our government, is quite right to outlaw and brand the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. And I think that President Obama should take the same steps.

Benson:  We hope so.

Gordon:  Col. Kemp, it is a pleasure to have you back on the program. And I want to return to your days in Afghanistan as Commander of British Forces in HelmandProvince. Why was the Taliban, vanquished in the first months following 9/11, able to return as a significant threat in Afghanistan in what is now a 14-year war?

Kemp:  I think one of the problems that we experienced in Afghanistan was that we, we were fighting two campaigns at the same time. We were fighting Iraq and we were fighting in Afghanistan. I think we took our eye off the ball a little bit in Afghanistan after initially vanquishing the Taliban. We then ended up with a resurgentTaliban. That does not need to continue.  It has been curbed to an extent. However, we must actually maintain our military presence, and support for the government of Afghanistan, to try and stop the spread of the Taliban and the Islamic State which is gaining increasing traction there as well.

Benson:  I am now going to bring on Richard Cutting, actor, film and, TV writer, producer and counterterrorism commentator. Welcome back, Richard.

Richard Cutting

Richard Cutting:  Thanks for having me back. ISIS and the Taliban are now at each other’s throats in Afghanistan. ISIS is having a presence of some note along the Pakistani border. What is the relative probability of ISIS gaining significant traction in Afghanistan long-term? What is the Afghan government doing to fight any ISIS advance? How are they getting, involved with Pakistan? How, are they gaining access to the theater in Afghanistan?

Kemp:  I think one of the issues here is the support that Pakistan has given to the Taliban over many years. If it had it not been for the support of the Pakistani government, in particularly their intelligence services and their army for the Taliban, then their insurgency would not have been as powerful and successful as it has been. That is one area that remains a concern as the Taliban continues its encroachment. The Islamic State is, um, gaining strength in Afghanistan.  They are gaining recruits from the Taliban. There are some whole units of the Taliban moving across to the Islamic State. In some cases, individual recruits are crossing over. They are gaining power; they’re gaining strength.

They are still not as strong as the Taliban; they’re fighting the Taliban. That is a good thing, of course, because the Islamic State members are killing Taliban people and Taliban are killing Islamic State forces, which we should encourage. We should hope that will continue because they’re both evil groups. They’re both enemies ofthe West. They’re both enemies of the Democratic Republic in Afghanistan. We need to see that continue. One of the problems is, that Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state. The Islamic State wishes to gain control in Pakistan. There is a risk of them gaining more traction in Pakistan. And the Pakistani Taliban is trying to seize control in Pakistan. We have Al-Qaeda, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The two theaters in some ways, I think, need to be seen as one. The difficulty is that they are enemies of each other. Pakistan hates Afghanistan, and vice versa. So this rivalry and animosity feeds and enables the growth of the Taliban and the Islamic State in both of these countries. It is an area that we need to be very concerned about. We certainly need to keep military engagement in Afghanistan. And we certainly need strong political engagement and pressure put on the Pakistani government.

Benson:  Col. Kemp: Do you see Al Qaeda and ISIS threatening the United States and its European allies?

Kemp:  As we all know 9/11 was spawned in Afghanistan. There is a very strong risk that if significant areas of Afghanistan or even the whole country, is again taken over by Islamic jihadists, we could see a scenario where they’re able to plan, organize and launch attacks against the U.S. and the West. However, it is not simplyAfghanistan today. We have very strong issues in Syria and Iraq, where the Islamic State has gained power. Admittedly, some of the areas are being taken back. We also have problems in Libya, in many parts of the Middle East, and in North Africa. There is territory that is being gained by the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and the jihadists. All of these areas are areas that we need to monitor closely. I know the CIA is doing that. The U.S. military is doing that as well. Wherever ISIS raises its head, it has to be hit. It has to be knocked off. The problem is not going away. It is a generation’s long problem that we are facing and fighting for a very long time. We need to be constantly vigilant. We need to be aggressive in the way that we deal with it. We cannot afford simply relax our guard and hope that it is going to die down; it is not. The US has to be very politically active in the Middle East. The U.S. actually is backing the wrong horse. They are supporting one of the world’s most dangerous powers – Iran. They are abandoning their allies in the region. Their allies include Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. Unfortunately, under President Obama, the US is not providing backing for those powers which have been effective stalwarts and bulwarks against Islamic jihad throughout the region and the world.

Benson:  I hope we can last another year with less than 10,000 combat forces in Afghanistan and soon to be reduced. We cannot imagine what will happen.

Gordon:  By the end of the Obama presidency, which is now a year away, are the Afghan security forces under the status of forces agreement, capable of defendingthe country against both the Taliban and ISIS?

Kemp:  They are not, unfortunately no. That is not without strong U.S. and Allied assistance. Britain is providing some assistance, but not as much as it should be. The problem with the Afghan security force is that they are working for a corrupt government. Corruption is endemic in Afghanistan. It started, under President Karzai and is continuing. What armed forces can be expected to fight for a corrupt regime that doesn’t support them, that does not pay them properly, that does not put a priority on giving them the resources they need? That is why U.S. forces need to retain a presence there. If they don’t, then we risk the same situation occurring in Afghanistan, perhaps on an even worse scale as we saw when President Obama pulled virtually all U.S. forces out of Iraq in 2012 as part of his domestic political agenda, which helped him to be reelected for a second term.

Benson:  As we wrap up this segment with Col. Richard Kemp, I would like to have. Richard Cutting summarize.

Cutting:  What occurs to me in listening to the Colonel is, simply this: we are in a new world. We really have to integrate that in our daily thinking. Just as you go out to hear your candidates and in your local political arenas, talking about taxes and your local issues, we must now begin to listen to our friends in the military. Col. Kemp’s message couldn’t have been clearer today. As a citizen of this country, we are in a generational battle, and we need to start acting that way. We need to think about these theaters of war as part of our everyday lives, and support the people who are intelligently analyzing this, and leading this fight. We are not in episodic wars like World War II anymore. This is going to be, unfortunately, something we pass on to our children. There must be a continuum of intelligent political discussion, that is precise, and based on the good efforts and fine work of people like Col. Kemp. Thank you, Colonel, for putting in that generational aspect. It has to start becoming normalized.

Gordon:  Col. Kemp is a man who has also put his finger on what the problem is here in the West. He calls it the “amoral revolution.” He, however, has been an exemplar of defending those common Judeo-Christian values, coming to the assistance of the Israel Defense Force.  The IDF has been unfairly castigated in international forums. It has been unjustly accused of war crimes. Kemp also put his finger on whom in the Muslim world, are backing the Taliban and ISIS, particularly in the Middle East, North Africa, and even South Asia.

Kemp:  I think it’s very important that Americans realize the war that we’re in. The two commentators there made it absolutely clear, and rightly, that this is agenerational struggle. It’s a struggle between the West and radical Islam. This is not a war sought by the West. This is a war that has been sought by radical Islamists. They want to dominate the Middle East. They want to deny any access to the Middle East by the West. They also want to dominate areas of the West, perhaps the whole of the West. We have to fight them. We have to stand up and fight them. We are not going to fight them by pretending that the struggle doesn’t exist, by pretending that they are not our enemies, because they are our enemies.

I am not suggesting that all Muslims are our enemies. Those who wish to see us destroyed, those who wish to change the way of life in countries like Britain and the United States of America that have been responsible for the vast majority of good that’s been done in this world. We just cannot allow them to destroy us. We have to stand up against them and fight them. We should not deny that this problem exists. We need to find ways of dealing with it.  Our politicians are too enthusiastic about understanding and wanting to embrace cultures that simply don’t work in our countries. They cannot work in our countries unless we wish to see our countriesdescending into the kind of violence and amorality that exists in so many parts of the Middle East. Let us support Israel. Let us do everything we can to support the outpost of civilization, the outpost of Western values that exists in the Middle East. It is a very valuable country. It is a magnificent country from which we all benefit. We must support Israel as we support our own civilizations.

Benson:  I’d like to bring on my next guest, Dr. Sebastian Gorka. Welcome, Dr. Gorka.

Dr. Sebastian Gorka

Dr. Sebastian Gorka:  Thank you so much, Lisa.

Benson:  Dr. Gorka, You are advisor to the Department, the Department of Defense in its irregular warfare joint operation concept. You currently serve as the Major General Matthew C. Horner Distinguished Chair of Military Theory at Marine Corps University. Previously you were Associate Dean of Congressional Affairs and Relations to the special operations community at the National Defense University.

Gordon:  Dr. Gorka, in early December we had the San Bernardino, California terrorist massacre. This weekend we had a shooting of a police officer in Philadelphia by a former convicted felon. Were these crimes by Muslims inspired by loyalty to the pure Islam of ISIS?

Gorka:  The most important thing we have to do is jettison a phrase that is used so regularly in the media, of “lone-wolf terrorism.” This is a phrase that was invented to make the listener disconnect the dots. There is this idea that there has to be some kind of operational link between the perpetrators and Al-Qaeda central, or ISIS headquarters in Iraq or Syria. The fact is that, whether it’s the Boston Bombers whether it’s the Chattanooga shooter, whether it is the two in San Bernardino or this new, attempted murder of this police officer in Philadelphia, it’s very clear that the connective tissue for all of them is the ideology of global jihad. We have to understand that all of these actors from 9/11 down are connected, share the same concept that we are the infidel; America is antithetical to Islam, and as a result we must be destroyed. This is the big picture. This is the strategic understanding that the current administration doesn’t want your listeners to have.

Cutting:  Dr. Gorka, two Iraqi refugees, one in Sacramento and the other in Houston, were arrested this past week. One had joined ISIS in Syria and returned toCalifornia as a trained jihadi, influencing the other to join ISIS. How deficient is our system for vetting refugees, in light of the Administration’s resettlement of thousands of Syrian refugees in the United States?

Gorka:  It is not just deficient; it’s actually, impossible to do the vetting that would be required. So, if you want to vett somebody, from the national securityperspective, who’s coming into the country as a refugee, there are really only two ways to do it. This is very personal to me; my parents were refugees. They escaped the Communist country during the Cold War, and they were vetted. They escaped Hungary in the revolution of 1956. They arrived in a refugee camp in Austria. For the next few weeks, they were persistently and repeatedly interviewed by counterintelligence professional who would make the determination after dozens of interviews, whether or not the individual was truly a refugee and should be supported and given succor? Or whether they were an agent of a hostile power – in that case, a Communist regime? So that’s the first way you do it. Right now America does not have the manpower to do that. Remember, the president has just declared that his priority is to provide more agents to the FBI to do background checks for firearms purchases. I doubt this would be a priority.

The second way to vet is to compare that individual’s story and the data they are providing you, against an objective, confirmed database – a source that you know is true. You check that against their presentations to the individual who’s interviewing them. As Director Comey of the FBI, has testified on the Hill, we do not have that database to check refugee data against. It doesn’t even exist. Even if it existed in Syria, the Assad regime would not give us access to that information. So when it comes to the very basic 101 of national security, we don’t have the manpower, nor do we have the objective data – the verifiable data – available to do a proper refugee screening as the U.S. national security would require.

Gordon:  Dr. Gorka, you were in both Israel and Jordan during the Christmas/New Year’s holiday. You visited a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan. What did you take away from that experience about Administration policies regarding the conflict in Syria and the strategy combating ISIS?

Gorka:  There were two big takeaways after we visited the biggest refugee camp in Jordan. The first one is the fact that Jordan is doing an incredible job with minimal assistance from either the United States or the, very wealthy Gulf states. So think about this; Jordan has a population of 6 million Jordanians, and they’ve absorbed atleast one and a half million refugees from Syria. This is a nation that doesn’t have oil; that is not wealthy. They are doing an incredible job absorbing the aftermath of the murderous war that is occurring in Syria. So they need support, and fundamentally they need support from the Gulf States that are in a position to assist them. Secondly, I think the biggest take-home is what the Jordanian authorities shared with us after we had seen everything, and after we asked them, so what’s the long-term scenario here? And they were very candid with us. Remember, Jordan is a Muslim country. It is a Sunni Muslim country; it headed by King Abdullah II, who is descended from Mohammed. That is why it’s called the Hashemite Kingdom. They were very explicit; they said, look, these are Syrians from Syria. We don’t want them to stay in refugee camps. Nor does it make sense for them to move further north into Europe, nor does it make sense for them to travel across the Atlantic to be accepted into countries like the United States. The long-term answer is for the crisis in Syria to be resolved, and for these Syrians to go back to Syria. So when a, a Muslim nation right next to the Syrian conflict tells you that, I think we should listen.

Benson:  Dr. Gorka, New York City concluded a settlement ending the NYPD Muslim community profiling program imposing a civilian monitor on the policedepartment. Do you think this puts New York City at greater risk for Islamic terror?

Gorka:  Absolutely. I was actually briefing a House Committee about this Friday. One of the Congressmen asked me, “So what’s the good news?” Because I gave them a very depressing presentation on how we are losing the war with the jihadists. At the end of the briefing, one of them said, “So, Dr. Gorka, give us some good news about what works. What have we done right in the last 15 years?”  I said, “You know what? Our federal government really hasn’t done very much right in the last 15 years. But if you want a model of how to make America secure or part of America secure, it’s the NYPD.”

The NYPD after 9/11 made a very simple decision. They said, “The feds have let us down. The Big Apple was the key target. and, they didn’t do their jobs. So we’re not going to ask, we’re not going to expect Uncle Sam to protect the citizens of New York again, but we’re going to do it ourselves.” New York went from having six counterterrorism intelligence analysts, to building probably one of the world’s best counter-jihadi intelligence capabilities, with amazing human intelligence networks. People who were trained to go into the communities to monitor the radical Imam, the radical mosques. This is way to do it to protect Americans. But that only lasted until Mayor de Blasio. So now you have in New York, a, another version of what’s happening here in Washington with the White House. You have politics getting in the way of national security. And you’ve got ideology undermining American lives.

Cutting:  Dr. Gorka, you cover such a range. The one thing that didn’t get factored into this is the Persian Gulf, situation with Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Gorka:  I’m going to steal somebody else’s words here. There is no better summary than Netanyahu’s, description before Congress recently, when he said, “If you want to understand what’s going on in the Middle East now, you have to understand that it is a game of thrones for the crown of the caliphate.” We’re obsessed with Al-Qaeda, with ISIS; but we have to understand that it is actually a war between the Shiite version of the Caliphate, as, designed by the Mullahs in Tehran, and the Sunni version of the Caliphate, as exemplified by Al-Qaeda and, ISIS. So this, this is the war that we are caught up in. Two versions of the Caliphate and Iran is potentially even more dangerous than ISIS, because of their nuclear capabilities.

Gordon:  Dr. Gorka has basically told us that we can forget about the administration’s famous program combating violent extremism. If you don’t focus on theunderlying Islamic Koranic doctrine, you will not succeed in combating either domestic terrorism or ISIS and settling the problems in the Middle East. Furthermore, you’ve got a sectarian divide rising between Iran – which is potentially going to be nuclear-powered – and Saudi Arabia.

 Benson:  Thank you, Jerry Gordon. Thank you, Richard Cutting. Thank you Dr. Gorka.

Gorka:  You’re very welcome.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

PODCAST: The Dangers of the Iran Nuclear and Missile Deals

LISTEN to this podcast of the January 17, 2016 Lisa Benson Show with Claudia Rosett on KKNT 960 – The Patriot. Lisa Benson and New English Review Senior Editor Jerry Gordon co-hosted this show with commentary from Board of Advisors member, Richard Cutting.

On Saturday, January 16, 2016 there was a plethora of breaking news. It was kicked off with the lifting of sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program triggered by alleged compliance with terms of the JCPOA political agreement certified by the UN watchdog agency, the IAEA.  This was the Orwellian “implementation Day” under the unsigned agreement by all of the parties to JCOPA starting 24/7 monitoring of Iranian enrichment facilities.  There was the announcement from Tehran  of  the swap of  five US citizens held hostage in Iran  in exchange for  Clemency granted by President Obama  for  seven Iranians convicted or charged with industrial espionage and acquisition of illicit equipment and software for nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Sunday morning, January 17, 2016 there were further developments; the announcement by   the US Treasury Office e for Foreign Assets Control of new sanctions against 11 individuals and entities in Iran involved with illicit procurement  for ballistic missile development. Iran had launched two precision guided ballistic missiles in tests in October and November 2015 that violated UN Res. 1929 and JCPOA provisions arousing the ire of Congress.

President Obama in remarks on these developments, released on Sunday, said:

“Today’s progress — Americans coming home, an Iran that has rolled back its nuclear program and accepted unprecedented monitoring of that program — these things are a reminder of what we can achieve when we lead with strength and with wisdom; with courage and resolve and patience. America can do, and has done, big things when we work together”.

Watch the President’s  YouTube video remarks on this alleged historic political deal  purportedly preventing Iran  from developing nuclear weapons:

To complicate matters there was seizure of 10 U.S. Navy sailors and their Riverine Command boats coincidental with the President’s State of the Union Address before Congress on Tuesday, January 12th. Iran flashed video and pictures of the crews kneeling with hands behind their heads at gunpoint held by IRGC soldiers followed with an apology by the young commander for entering Iranian controlled waters off Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. Earlier on January 6th, a mini earthquake registering 5.5 on the Richter scale was picked by the several seismographic agencies in China, Japan and the US signaling the fourth in a series of illicit nuclear blasts by North Korea. That immediately led to the question of whether it was a mini-hydrogen bomb as promoted in propaganda by Pyongyang or perhaps a test of nuclear warheads. Warheads capable of being fitted on missiles that North Korea had developed and sold to Iran.

In anticipation of these developments we had asked recommendations from a valued guest of the Lisa Benson broadcasts, Shoshana Bryen , senior director of the Washington, DC  Jewish Policy Center as to who we might bring on to comment on these developments and the Iran – North Korea  strategic alliance. She suggested we contact Claudia Rosett, Journalist in Residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  We followed up on her suggestion and arranged to have Rosett as our guest on the Sunday, January 17th broadcast. That was a fortunate coincident. We had met Rosett in 2009 at a presentation she gave in Pensacola, Florida on the official corruption in the UN Oil for Food program. See our New English Review article; “Claudia Rosett: The UN is Absolutely Corrupt” (February 2009).

Claudia Rosett Journalist-in-Residence Foundation for Defense of Democracy.

Claudia Rosett is an award-winning reporter and commentator. Over the past 35 years, including 18 years as a staff writer for The Wall Street Journal from 1984-2002, she reported from Asia, the former Soviet Union, Latin America and the Middle East. Ms. Rosett has testified before six U.S. Congressional committees on topics including corruption under the United Nations Oil-for-Food program in Iraq, and the strategic alliance between North Korea and Iran. Currently she is focused on illicit networks of Iran and North Korea, including shipping traffic. Ms. Rosett holds a B.A. from Yale, an M.A. from Columbia, and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, with a specialization in finance.

Here are some of the high points raised by Rosett during the Lisa Benson Show broadcast:

  • Iran never signed the nuclear deal now being implemented, nor did any of the other parties (the U.S., U.K., France, Russia, China, and Germany).
  • This is not a lasting or enforceable deal.
  • IAEA monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program guarantees nothing. The IAEA has no power to enforce, only to monitor. Iran can play the same game of chicken as North Korea did, throwing  out IAEA monitors when convenient, and carrying on to make nuclear bombs.
  • In the deals now going on, both nuclear and the hostage/prisoner releases this past weekend, Iran is cleaning up.
  • Remember, Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. The real headline should be: Return of some $100 billion in unfrozen funds to world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
  • Iran carried out two sanctions-violating ballistic missile tests this past fall; the only real reason Iran to continue developing ballistic missiles would be to put nuclear warheads on them.
  • President Obama, in deciding which Iranians to release in the hostage/prisoner swap, ruled out prisoners detained for terrorism and violent crime, but released violators of sanctions in other words; he pardoned people some of whom had abetted Iran’s weapons and nuclear programs. A damaging signal that the U.S. is not serious about enforcing this nuclear deal.
  • Iran will now be able to access roughly $100 billion, or by some accounts more, in unfrozen funds though the actual amount remains murky.  We have never been given a full accounting of these funds.
  • There has been deliberate obfuscation by the Obama Administration on the terms of this nuclear deal (the secret side agreements between Iran and the IAEA, for instance) as well as the consequences.
  • The possibility of Iran and North Korea working together on nuclear missiles is a serious concern. In the 21st century, North Korea is the only country known to have tested nuclear weapons. It is the obvious place for the Iranians to hide a nuclear test, or benefit from the data, in plain sight.
  • Israel’s air force destroyed the Al Kibar nuclear reactor that was being built in Syria with substantial help from North Korea. The U.S. should have allowed a similar strike against Iran some time ago, or the U.S. should have carried one out itself.
  • We have just seen U.S. sailors detained on their knees before the Iranians before they were released. When have we seen members of the Iranian military on their knees before the U.S?  Iran is humiliating America. This is an invitation to other enemies of America to do the same.

The Iran deal is worse than the nuclear deals the U.S. cut with North Korea.  North Korea has been making nuclear weapons and conducted four nuclear tests. Iran is even more dangerous, and the consequences here could be much worse.

Our usually astute European listener commented with his opinions:

The Iranian deal agreed and pushed forward by the Obama administration gave in to all Iranian demands and the nuclear watchdog deal by the IAEA is a complete sham. As mentioned numerous times the Iranians have in undisclosed parts of Iran three other nuclear research sites which have never been checked on and where they are continuing enrichment.

The JCPOA is a draft which was to be negotiated and approved but nothing was discussed and the addendums were all kept top secret.

For the P5 the whole deal is a way to boost their trade deficits and they accepted everything that the Obama Administration and the Iranians agreed on.

The IAEA made a complete flop of their controls in North Korea and the same could occur in Iran.

It has been that North Korea is being financed by Iran and they could easily sell nuclear warheads and ship them by plane to Iran.

I sincerely hope that some lawmakers in the U.S. have listened to this broadcast and will take the necessary steps to block the Iranian agreement after the elections.

RELATED ARTICLE: World Watches How Iran, Now Free of Nuclear Sanctions, Will Act

EDITORS NOTE: This podcast originally appeared in the New English Review.

Judicial Watchdog on Corruption in Washington, D.C.

benghazi-libya-_teccOn December 8, 2015, Judicial Watch (JW) issued a press release about a long sought Pentagon email sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and aide, Jake Sullivan, by Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash, a deputy to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, on the evening of September 11th, 2012. The Bash Pentagon email was sent just after the attack by Ansar al-Sharia and others at the Benghazi Special Mission Compound. The JW release noted:

Judicial Watch today released a new Benghazi email from then-Department of Defense Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash to State Department leadership immediately offering “forces that could move to Benghazi” during the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012. In an email sent to top Department of State officials, at 7:19 p.m. ET, only hours after the attack had begun, Bash says, “we have identified the forces that could move to Benghazi. They are spinning up as we speak.” The Obama administration redacted the details of the military forces available, oddly citing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) exemption that allows the withholding of “deliberative process” information.

Bash’s email seems to directly contradict testimony given by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2013. Defending the Obama administration’s lack of military response to the nearly six-hour-long attack on the U.S. Special Mission Compound in Benghazi. Panetta claimed that “time, distance, the lack of adequate warning, events that moved very quickly on the ground prevented a more immediate response.”

The first assault occurred at the main compound at about 9:40 pm local time – 3:40 p.m. ET in Washington, DC.  The second attack on a CIA annex 1.2 miles away began three hours later, at about 12 am local time the following morning – 6 p.m. ET.

Due to the leadership of President Tom Fitton, Director of Investigations Christopher “Chris” Farrell,  and Director of Litigation Paul Orfanedes and the team of investigators and lawyers at Washington, DC-based JW, we now know that U.S. special operations assets were “spinning up” to go to the aid of besieged U.S. personnel in Benghazi within hours of the attack on the evening of September 11, 2012. If launched that operation might have spared the lives of former Navy Seals and CIA contractors Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods who were killed in a mortar attack of suspicious origins on the morning of September 12. Did Former Secretary of State Clinton, currently 2016 Democrat Presidential front runner deny the release of those special operator assets?

Ken Timmerman, veteran investigative journalist in a Daily Caller column declared, “Benghazi “smoking gun” email unmasks Hillary Clinton.”

Judicial Watch, Inc. (JW) is a conservative non-partisan foundation whose objective is to assure “integrity, transparency and accountability in government” often unearthing official corruption, regardless of which party is in power. Founded in the mid-1990’s it has become the watchdog of record pursuing high profile issues using the power of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and when required, filing cases in the federal courts to force open government files to produce evidence of official wrongdoing. Currently, JW has over 3,400 outstanding pending FOIA requests.

JW has been in the forefront of a series of high profile investigations. There was the Fast and Furious Justice Department Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) “gun walking” probe by the House Government Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearings with former Attorney General Eric Holder. They were triggered by the killing of US Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry in a 2010 Arizona border shoot out by two Mexican “rip gang” members. The Two Mexican nationals, who perpetrated Agent Terry’s murder, using weapons sold under the controversial BATF program, were extradited and convicted of the crime in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix, Arizona in October 2015.

There is the continuing House Select Benghazi Committee investigation that divulged the alleged Pentagon “smoking gun” email and former Secretary Clinton’s State Department’s dereliction in preventing special operator aid to the embattled CIA annex team in Benghazi, Libya. Currently JW is heavily engaged in more than 16 lawsuits in connection with its investigations of the alleged abuse of private email servers by Democratic frontrunner, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton that prompted FBI seizure of four email servers and investigation into possible national security law violations by Clinton and aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills.

JW was instrumental in bringing a suit against the IRS that forced the federal revenue agency to recover over 1,800 disputed emails of former Federal Elections Commission executive and IRS official Lois Lerner regarding complaints over delays in processing non-profit applications of Tea Party groups. In July 2015, the IRS released the emails under a court order by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan.

JW raised denials from the Texas Department of Public Safety and US Department Homeland Security when in the spring of 2015; it revealed the possibility, based on informed sources, that ISIS may have established possible training camps just across the US border at El Paso in the adjacent area of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. JW’s further investigation into the porous southern border influx of illegal immigrants from Central America has revealed an underground network of camps in Mexico radiating out of the port of Tampico enabling the transformation of Islamic terrorists from “Mohammed into Manuel” replete with authentic Mexican identification documents, linguistic and cultural training.

Evidence of JW’s non-partisan investigations into official Washington corruption is exemplified by its examination of Hillary Clinton’s role in the unauthorized development of Health Care national programs under a semi-secret task force in the mid-1990’s versus that of former Vice President Cheney’s unauthorized energy task force a decade later in the Bush Administration. In the later case, JW went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court that remanded a decision to a lower Federal court that forced open the files of the illegal Bush Administration energy task force led by Vice President Cheney.

The interview by my colleague Mike Bates with Chris Farrell was triggered by an encounter we had with him when he appeared at a Pensacola, Florida Tiger Bay presentation on December 11, 2015 on the heels of the Pentagon ‘smoking gun” email news. Farrell was interviewed by Bates about JW and its activities unearthing corruption and fascinating historical information that aired on 1330amWEBY on December 28, 2015. We published an earlier New English Review interview with Farrell in September 2014 on “Insecure Borders and Broken Immigration Laws.”

Christopher ”Chris” Farrell is Director of Investigations at JW. Farrell is a long term member of the staff and board of JW in Washington D.C.  He is a Distinguished Military Graduate from Fordham University with a Bachelor in History after which he accepted a regular Army commission and served as a Military Intelligence Officer specializing in counter-terror intelligence and human intelligence. He has appeared frequently on cable news TV programs, Fox News channel and others.

(READ MORE)

RELATED VIDEO: 13 Hours – The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi – Official Trailer

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

PODCAST: Spreading the Muslim Holy War in the name of ‘Humanity’

Listen to an extraordinarily informative Lisa Benson Show for National Security that aired Sunday November 22, 2015 on KKNT960The Patriot in the aftermath of the ISIS jihad in ParisLisa Benson and New English Review Senior Editor Jerry Gordon and special guest Richard Cutting co-hosted  this show.

Our guests were:

Morten Storm – Storm is a former Muslim convert and apostate who became a double agent for Danish Security and Intelligence Service and CIA who penetrated Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula  targeting the late Anwar al Awlaki. He is the author of Agent Storm: My Life Inside al Qaeda and the CIA  and been frequently, interviewed on Fox News and CNN.  Storm picked up on a private discussion this past week with more than 100 callers including members of the National Security Task Force of America launching a “know your Imam” campaign. He did that  this past weekend. In the private NSTFA call he stressed not to be complacent about additional ISIS attacks in Belgian, France and major EU countries now inundated with hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants, especially young men in detention camps.

Dr. S. Jill Bellamy –  was  interviewed by both  Cutting and Gordon in a segment on possible ISIS Chemical and Biological agent threats to  Europe and the US.  Bellamy is a recognized international expert on biological warfare and is a member of the United Nations Counter Terrorism Task Force. She has previously developed and run NATO sponsored policy programs on biological terrorism and has published extensively in related fields. Her papers have appeared in the National Review, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Le Monde, Le Temps, New English Review and the Jerusalem Post. Over the past twenty five years she has worked in non-proliferation and counter terrorism.  She has developed and run nuclear and biological war games and scenarios supported by European Ministries of Defense.  Currently she advises governments on national strategic stockpiling and force protection. She is the founding Director of Warfare Technology Analytics.  Bellamy suggested that French Premier Valls expressions of concerns over possible use of  CBW by ISIS in terror attacks  in  the West were reflective of recent uses of chemical weapons by the Islamic State in Syria .  She suggested that was reflected in  confirmed reports on mustard gas against both Syrian Kurdish YPG and Iraqi Peshmerga forces, as well as Sarin gas that may have been used to kill hundreds of civilians in a suburb near Damascus in 2013. Those reports led to the Hague based Organization for the Prohibition   of Chemical Weapons that removed only a fraction of the Assad Regimes stockpile. She pointed out that ISIS ,and other Islamic terror groups like al Nusrah and Hezbollah, wouldn’t refrain from using CBW, as they simply consider  them another weapon in their inventory. She said they would have no compunction against the use of such silent killers given the burning alive of a downed Jordanian pilot.  That would extend to using the hoards of teeming refugees in UN  camps in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon as the equivalent of human weaponized vectors to spread disease and pathogens causing a pandemic.  She also responded to queries about major silent killers Anthrax, Smallpox and botulinum toxin developed by the Syria Scientific Research Center that might fall into the hands of ISIS and other terror groups like Hezbollah.  It  has been reported that ISIS may  have established laboratories and acquired research scientific personnel which  could pose a threat to the EU and  the US.  Bellamy covered the extent of protection against these silent killers  under US and international vaccine stockpile programs.

Nidra Poller  provided an eye witness report of what was unfolding in France. Poller is a Lisa Benson Show  Advisory Board Member, American  writer and translator, resident of Paris, France, since 1972,  contributor to The Wall Street Journal, National Review, FrontPage Magazine, The New York Sun and New English Review, author of the forthcoming, The Black Flag of Jihad stalks la RepubliquePoller spoke of her experiences in Paris following the November  13th massacres and the  November 18th St. Denis banlieuse  battle that resulted in the deaths of the alleged Belgian born ‘mastermind’ Abdelhamid Abaaoud, his French born cousin Hasna Ait Boulahcen and third, as yet to be identified suicide bomber. In a New English Review/ Iconoclast post, “Bonjour Tristesse”, she considered them as “punk’ jihadis akin to those who burned vehicles banlieuse nightly in Paris and other French cities for weeks in 2005. She spoke of the muted aftermath following the recent terror events in Paris and the myopia of the international media following these stories forgetting about rallies in July 2014 at which the ISIS banners were prominent in rallies condemning Israel during Operation Defensive Edge fighting Hamas at the statue of Marianne, the symbol of France, at la place de la Republique. She also returned to the theme of, Humanitarian Jihad,  a chapter in her latest book,  to describe how the conflict in Syria  with ISIS and other terror groups had sent hundreds of thousands refugees and illegal migrants bursting the open borders of Europe’s Schengen system . She said that was an unwarranted intrusion of national sovereignty and western values with reports of destructive behavior by migrant Muslim young men in reception centers in EU countries. She said that was triggered by the EU and international response to the imagery a drowning victim, Aylan Kurdi, a three year old  Syrian Kurdish child  from an overloaded a life raft  provided by Turkey headed for the Greek Island of Leros.

RELATED ARTICLE: In Texas, Leftist community organizers target governor over Syrian refugee stance

EDITORS NOTE: This podcast originally appeared in the New English Review.

Lebanon: Unraveling the Enigma

Politics and War in Lebanon book coverTo paraphrase Winston Churchill, “Lebanon is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Unraveling the Lebanese enigma is the objective of a new book by Dr. Mordechai Nisan, Politics and War in Lebanon. Nisan is an accomplished Israeli political scientist and retired Hebrew University lecturer. His  body of work covers Zionism, Islam, Arab history, minority peoples, Lebanon, U.S. Middle East policy and the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is rare that a book achieves its objective of unraveling the complex nuances of the Lebanon puzzle in both an astute and yet literate manner. Dr. Nisan has views on many issues including why the 80 year old confessional political system persists and has resilience. It has a lot to do with the adoption of the Maronite Christian independence ethos arising from the historic resistance against centuries of Muslim and later Ottoman rule under Islamic Sharia law.

The confessional political system maintains, a Maronite as President, Sunni as Premier and Shiite as Speaker of the Lebanese National Assembly. The Lebanese Parliament has 128 members split equally between Christians and Muslims elected to four year terms in multi-member constituencies, which often produces unexpected alliances. Nisan writes: “the idea of a numerical democracy for Lebanon, as for all typical democratic states, had been, as we know, rejected in favor of political confessionalism by assigning office according to a sectarian key.” Of course the Lebonese paradox was assisted by the fact that it only had one census back in 1932 that reflected a Maronite Christian majority which has since dwindled due to war, emigration and the demographic rise of both Sunni and Shia. Even during the period of the internal wars triggered by Palestinians against the Maronite hegemony that began in 1975, there were episodes where Druze, Shia and Sunni militias protected the precinct of the Maronite patriarch. The confessional political system remains durable despite the inroads made by external enemies like Syria, the Palestinians and internal ones, like Iran’s proxy Hezbollah dominating the country’s southern border and Eastern Bekaa Valley adjoining Syria.

There is also the long standing history of Maronite Christian – Zionist mutual respect that has never been recognized in formal agreements. Yet that figures prominently in understanding  the role of Israel in episodic military operations in Lebanon – dislodging PLO-Fatah terrorist armies, only to have them replaced with Shia Hezbollah forces occupying the Southern security belt that the IDF abandoned in 2000. Now, that Southern border is crenellated with underground fortifications and tunnels, equipped with over 150,000 Iranian-supplied rockets and missiles. That could figure significantly in a new Middle East War arising from a possible nuclear deal with Hezbollah’s creator, Iran. Nisan considers that episode one of Israel’s most abject geo-political failures.

Among the issues addressed in Nisan’s timely and cogent book is the political disintegration triggered by the Palestinian war on the Maronites in 1975. He addresses the Israeli incursion in 1978 and First Israeli Lebanese War in 1982 that ousted Yassir Arafat and Fatah-PLO leaders sending them packing under UN auspices to Tunisia and nine other countries. Nevertheless, he is critical of Israel’s pell mell abandonment of the southern security belt, held by the IDF and the South Lebanese Army (SLA) in alliance with Israel. The evacuation was ordered by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in May 2000. That catastrophe gave rise to the Hezbollah takeover and ethnic cleansing of South Lebanon. There is also the nearly 20 year predatory Syrian occupation of large sections of Lebanon that began in 1976.

Nisan has nothing but contempt for the behavior of the Assad Syrian regime of both father and son in what could only be characterized as the virtual looting of Lebanon’s economic and natural resources. There were Syrian companies grabbing Lebanese tenders, Syrian officials  pocketing tax revenues and running a protection extortion racket with local businesses. The results were a once vibrant economy faltering, with unemployment and poverty soaring. He notes that Syria never recognized an independent Lebanon in 1946. He considers the Syrian occupation the equivalent of the Nazi Anschluss of Austria comparing Lebanese Sunni and Orthodox Christians as the equivalent of pan-Germanic Austrians, because the latter identified strongly with both Syria and being Arab.

Nisan contends that the Israeli justification for the Southern withdrawal in 2000 was faulty. It was based on the following logic:

  1. Israel had to dismantle the SLA to comply with UN Resolution 425 of March 1978 that called for Israel to withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory.
  2. Hezbollah would overwhelm and murder its Christian and Shiite elements prompted by the memories of the 1982 Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camp massacres.
  3. That if the SLA put up resistance against Hezbollah that it might complicate withdrawal leading to a possible return by Israel to assist its former allies.
  4. Israel sacrificed the SLA as a necessity to assure that Hezbollah not interfere with Israel’s withdrawal from the South.

Nisan believes that the debacle that occurred in the wake of the Israeli withdrawal might have been prevented if:

  1. Israel had bolstered the SLA as an independent force.
  2. Israel might have disarmed both the SLA and Hezbollah.
  3. Israel had called upon Syrian Forces to withdraw simultaneously with the IDF.

He concludes, “In Lebanon, Israel was drained of its political and public energy, had done little strategic planning, and in the end lacked a moral compass.”

Nisan notes the three signal events that occurred in 2000:

  1. In May the Israeli Army withdrew from Southern Lebanon and likewise forced the collapse of its SLA ally there.
  2. In June President Assad of Syria died and was succeeded by his son Bashar.
  3. Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, Walid Jumblatt, the Druze leader, and a variety of political personalities, both Christian and Muslim, called for Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon.

In mid-July 2015, a worldwide gathering of Lebanese activists occurred in Washington, DC in the First Convention on the Cedars Revolution. It was the commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the Cedars Revolution. Several sessions were held with Members of Congress, the State Department and the Pentagon. The issues they addressed concerned the preservation of democracy in Lebanon’s confessional political system, military and security matters with the incursion of Syrian forces, reminiscent of original issue that ignited the Cedars Revolution in March 2005. It is indicative of the abiding concerns of the Lebanese and largely Christian diaspora, estimated at upwards of 14 million.

Even during several Arab Israeli conflicts, Lebanon stayed out of the conflicts. After the failure of the 1970 Black September campaign between PLO-Fatah forces and the Kingdom of Jordan, Yassir Arafat and Palestinian resistance leadership were given sanctuary in Lebanon. Less than five years later, Arafat fomented open warfare on Christians in a ferocious and bloody conflict. It was during that period that Lebanese Maronite leaders like Etienne Sakr (Abu Arz) and Pierre Gemayel reached out to Israel whose military covertly provided training and equipment to Christian militia forces. There were hopes of an eventual enduring peace between Lebanon and Israel. That possibility ended with the assassination on September 15, 1982 of Maronite President-Elect and leader of Lebanese Forces Bashir Gemayel of the Phalange Party. He was allegedly on his way to conclude a treaty with Israel in Jerusalem.

Nisan addresses the transformation of Lebanese Shia under Sayyid Fadlaallah from willing confessional participants to Sharia infused support of an Islamic state, reducing the dominant Maronite and other Christians to dhimmi status. Along with that, Fadlaallah denied Israel’s legitimacy and boosted the Palestinian cause against the “Zionist enterprise.” Instead of involving himself in the Lebanon political structure, Fadlaallah sought out the means of supporting jihad, through zakat, Muslim charity. The person who completed the transformation of Lebanon’s Shia was Imam Musa al-Sadr who, in the political chaos of the mid-1970’s, created the Movement for the Disinherited (al Harakat al-Muhrimum) to promote Shiite social equality and political activism and its companion military wing, Amal (“Hope”). Sadr disappeared in 1978 on a flight to Rome under mysterious circumstances. Leadership of Amal fell to successors Hussein al-Husseini, who later became Speaker, and ultimately, lawyer Nabih Berri. Berri sought resistance against the PLO in the 1970’s and 1980’s including laying siege to Palestinian refugee camps. However, the ultimate destination of Lebanon’s Shia community was to Iranian theocratic influence emanating from Shia seminaries in Iraq. The pro-Khomeinist returnees from Najaf provided fertile grounds to build Hezbollah – the party of God, a Qur’anic designation. Nisan notes that the ultimate leadership of Hezbollah was drawn from Southerners like Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah and Abdul Karim Obeid, graduates of the apocalyptic Twelver seminary in Qom, Iran. By 1982, 1,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards were stationed in the Bekaa Valley training young Lebanese Shia fighters in Khomeinist doctrine and providing them with weapons and millions in funding. Syria under the Assad family became a strategic ally during the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980’s allowing Damascus to become a transfer point for Iran to supply its proxy, Hezbollah. Hezbollah became Iran’s global terrorism arm. That is reflected in Iran’s support for Lebanese Shia émigrés in the Latin American tri-border area that provided a base for the 1992 Buenos Aires Israeli Embassy and 1994 Jewish AMIA blasts. The later is still roiling Argentine politics with the recent mysterious death of Argentine Jewish prosecutor Alberto Nisman and accusations of involvement at the highest political levels in both Iran and Argentina.

The Israel invasion of 1982 launched a series of terrorist spectacles by the late Imad Mughniyahin. In Beirut in 1983  he killed over 400 French paratroopers, US Marines and US embassy staff. That was followed by the 1986 TWA flight hijacking and killing of a US Navy diver hostage. Mughniyah, went big time with the Khobar Towers blast in Saudi Arabia in 1995. He had links to the East African US Embassy blasts in 1998 and a major role in training and facilitating the travel via Iran and Germany of the 19 Sunni perpetrators of 9/11. Mughniyah’s leading terrorist role ended in Damascus in February 2008, when his vehicle exploded in what many believe was a Mossad revenge attack.

The big breakthrough for Hezbollah was its campaign of attacks in the South of Lebanon and Israeli border incursions in the late 1980’s to 2000. Nisan notes that Hezbollah undertook 1,030 military operations over the period from 1990 to 1995, escalating to more than 4,928 operations from 1996 to 2000.

Nisan links Hezbollah’s political rise with the adoption of the triumvirate Lebanese Presidency system with the Taif agreement. That enabled Hezbollah to secure seats in the Chamber of Deputies in competition with the Shia Amal party. Its further rise to power was the product of one of its three expressed objectives of a 1985 Open Letter:

  1. Accepting Ayatollah Khomeini as leader of the world’s Muslims.
  2. Wiping out Israel and opposing America.
  3. Forming relations with Christians in Lebanon while calling them to embrace Islam.

Nisan noted the impact of the third objective expanding the 128 member Assembly split 64 Christian/64 Muslim. He wrote, “many Muslim voters were electing Christian deputies in the South, while Christians elected a Shiite in Jbayl and Sunnis were elected by Maronites and Druze in the Shouf.”

By 1999, when the US State Department designated Hezbollah a foreign terrorist group, Hezbollah was a mini-state within a state. In May of 2000, the ring of fate was sealed in Southern Lebanon with the Israel evacuation and collapse of the SLA resistance. Under a secret agreement between Hezbollah and the IDF, the former agreed not to attack Israeli forces as they completed their retreat. That action, as Nisan notes, led Yassir Arafat to instigate the so-called Temple Mount Second Intifada triggered by the visit of Israel PM Sharon on September 28, 2000. Sharon was the Defense Minister who undertook the invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

At the conclusion of Nisan’s book, he posits three scenarios:

  1. The Iranian Shiite axis could collapse with a short time.
  2. The Arab world could continue its slide into fissured decay while distracted from its historic and national vision.
  3. The Arab-Israeli conflict will likely remain intractably irresolvable according to the tried and tested formulae for peace.

In the midst of Nisan’s speculations he draws attention to the aftermath of the Maronite Patriarch a-Ra’I 2012 visit to Jerusalem. That enraged Hezbollah, but brought commendation from Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. Maronite President Sleiman whose term ended in 2014 paid a visit to Jumblatt’s home town of Mukhtara before he stepped down. The message was one of reconciliation within the confessional system that might bring the sectarian groups together and avoid a civil war. With a vacant presidential post and parliamentary elections postponed until 2017, trouble looms for the country caught up in the vicissitudes of the Syrian civil war spilling over its borders, bringing in a flood of refugees. Currently, Lebanon is embroiled in a highly politicized trash crisis involving a protest Group “You Stink” that some believe may cover a possible power grab by the Hezbollah party and Michael Aoun’s Free Patriot Movement. The concern is the crisis might bring down the National Unity Government of Sunni Prime Minister Tammam Salam.Reuters reported both Saudi Arabia and Iran gave their blessing to the present government with a Cabinet composed of Sunni Muslim former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s Future movement, Shi’ite Hezbollah and Christians. Nisan wrote about a hopeful sign, “The March 14 camp asked Patriarch Beshara a – Ra’I to suggest names for the presidential post. Maybe somehow two Maronites – patriarch and president would help save the country from oblivion.” The expression in Hebrew is, alevai. Its English meaning, “that should only be.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. Also see Jerry Gordon’s collection of interviews, The West Speaks.

Obama’s Dangerous Spin on the Iran Nuclear Deal

There was a spirited panel discussion on  the August 9, 2015 Lisa Benson Radio Show for National Security stemming from President Obama’s  remarks on the Iran nuclear deal  during  his interview on CNN’s Farid Zakaria’s Global Public Square (GPS) Sunday morning program.  Panelists Barry Shaw in Israel, Shoshana Bryen of The Jewish Policy of the Washington, D.C. based Jewish Policy Center and this writer. The interview was recorded last Thursday following the President’s speech at American University and contentious meeting with a select group of American Jewish leaders. It was alleged that he told them that “if they left  off criticizing his deal, he would leave off criticizing them. That was a warning to the major American Jewish lobby group , the American Israel Political Action Committee. (AIPAC) and an affiliate, Concerned Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran have funded a multi-million ad campaign opposing the President’s Iran nuclear deal up for a vote in Congress in  Mid-September.

President Obama  also asserted during the interview that the Republican opposition to the Iran nuclear deal was ideological and political and not dissimilar from so-called hardliners in Iran. In response to a question on this from Zakaria he said:

The reason that Mitch McConnell and the rest of the folks in his caucus who oppose this jumped out and opposed it before they even read it, before it was even posted, is reflective of an ideological commitment not to get a deal done. And in that sense they do have a lot in common with hard- liners who are much more satisfied with the status quo. What I said was that there are those who, if they did not read the bill before they announced their opposition, if they are not able to offer plausible reasons why they wouldn’t support the bill or plausible alternatives in preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon other than potential military strikes, then that would indicate that they’re not interested in the substance of the issue, they’re interested in the politics of the issue.

Zakaria asked, “Is it appropriate for a foreign head of government ( a reference to Israeli Pm Netanyahu] to inject himself into a debate that is taking place in Washington?“  The President  responded:

You know, I’ll let you ask Prime Minister Netanyahu that question if he gives you an interview. I don’t recall a similar example. Obviously the relationship between the United States and Israel is deep, it is profound, and it’s reflected in my policies because I have said repeatedly and, more importantly, acted on the basic notion that our commitment to Israel security is sacrosanct. It’s something that I take very seriously, which is why we provided more assistance, more military cooperation, more intelligence cooperation to Israel than any previous administration.

But as I said in the speech yesterday, on the substance, the prime minister is wrong on this. And I think that I can show that the basic assumptions that he’s made are incorrect. If in fact my argument is right that this is the best way for Iran not to get a nuclear weapon, then that’s not just good for the United States, that is very good for Israel. In fact, historically this has been the argument that has driven Prime Minister Netanyahu and achieved consensus throughout Israel.

So the question has to be, is there in fact a better path to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon than this one? And I’ve repeatedly asked both Prime Minister Netanyahu and others to present me a reasonable, realistic plan that would achieve exactly what this deal achieves, and I have yet to get a response. So, as I said yesterday, I completely understand why both he and the broad Israeli public would be suspicious, cautious about entering into any deal with Iran.

Notwithstanding the President remarks in the CNN Zakaria interview, New York Democratic Senator Charles E. Schumer and Bronx New York House Member, Elliott Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Relations Committee and several other leading Democrat members of both the New York and California delegations have also opted to oppose the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action announced in Vienna on July 14th and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security on July 22nd.  Congress will reconvene after Labor Day for more Hearings and a vote to either approve or reject the Iranian nuclear deal. President Obama has threatened veto it if a majority of both the Houses of Congress vote to reject it.

Watch these CNN Video clips of President Obama interview with Farid Zakaria on August 9, 2015

On Israeli PM Netanyahu

On Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei

On his American University Speech

LBS Soundcloud August 9 correctedThe following were important takeaways from  the August 9th Lisa Benson Radio Show:

Israel’s History of Unilateral Actions against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs despite US Objections.

Barry Shaw speaking from Israel drew attention to Israeli attacks on the Osirak reactor in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1981 and Syria’s al-Kibar reactor in September 2007. He noted that Israeli PM Menachem Begin suggested that  his order for the so-called Raid on the Sun in Iraqi would set a precedent for future similar actions by his successors.  Shaw noted the objections by the Reagan Administration and even US media  characterizations of Israel’s actions  as state sponsored terrorism . However a decade later in the 1990’s Dick Cheney , then Secretary of Defense expressed  the thanks of the US  for Israel’s action in 1981 during the Gulf War in 1991.  Following, the 2007 Syria reactor raid, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Israel for not exhausting diplomatic efforts. Shaw noted that following the raid Syria let in the IAEA to inspect the reclaimed site of the former Al-Kibar nuclear bomb factory Shaw also reflected the views of a  significant majority of Israelis backing PM Netanyahu’s intervention criticizing the Iran nuclear pact.

The Dangers of Obama’s Withdrawal of US Assets in the Region.

Shoshana Bryen drew attention to the dangers of withdrawal of US military assets in the Persian Gulf abetting the hegemonic objectives of Supreme Ayatollah Khamenei  and the Islamic Regime IRGC. As of the fall, the US will have no carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf for the first time in decades. She went to note  the President postulated that Saudi Arabia and Iran might find themselves coming closer on certain issues. If the Gulf States see their future with Iran, rather than with the US, we will not have a base in the Persian Gulf. The US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and US facilities in Kuwait and Oman may not be able to use those facilities to attack Iran if, in fact, their governments see Iran as the key power for the future.

Military Option  may have been  taken Off the Table with Iran Weapons Purchases from Russia and China.

This  writer  drew attention to the Moscow trip of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani to meet with Russian President Putin and Defense Minister Shogui to speed up deliveries of the S-300 air defense system and the $10 billion oil barter deal with China for delivery of stealth fighters.  He suggested that this was a breach of both UN travel bans on the Quds Force Commander as well as the UN resolution 1929 sanctions against purchase of conventional  weapons and missile technology precluded on both five and eight sunsets under the JCPOA.  It makes any military option harder by orders of magnitude. While both the US and Israel  aren’t without resources of our own, Iran breaches  of  sanctions  makes the decision to use American military power more complicated.

Iran North Korea Nuclear and ICBM Development Cooperation may already have developed a bomb

Host  Lisa Benson drew attention to a recent American Thinker article co-authored by Bryen and her husband,  Stephen, “Does Iran Already Have Nuclear Weapons?”  The Bryens suggest that Iran may already have developed a nuclear weapon in cooperation with North Korea.  This writer interviewed analyst Ilana Freedman regarding the same issue in a March 2014  NER article, “Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea ?”   The Bryens postulate that Iran may already have a small nuclear bomb that might be used  as a threat in the region to provide a nuclear cover for hegemonic objectives. The motivation on the part of the North Korean, who earn hard currency through illicit transactions is receipt of funds from Iran, a member of the same original A.Q. Khan network that provided techno logy for the North Korean bomb making and Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges.

Plan B –Restoring Military Funding in support of National Security Objectives in the Middle East and NATO Allies in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States Threatened by Putin’s Russia

Notwithstanding , a possible veto of a Congressional  resolution rejecting the Iran nuclear deal, Bryen and Gordon suggested that the Congress has to stop the hollowing out of our military capabilities under sequestration. That should be addressed in September when National Defense Act Appropriation bills come up for approval in both chambers.  Bryen noted Plan B is precisely to end sequestration – which has to happen for American national security reasons including Iran and beyond Iran. The size of the Army has to increase (it is projected to decrease by another 40,000) and the drain of mid-level officers (Captains, Majors and LT Colonels) has to stop. Our Navy has to begin to restore ship building. She noted the fleet size is he smallest since WWI.

Poland and the Baltic States have requested a stronger NATO presence out of fear that Russia will do to them what it did to Ukraine. Ukraine was NOT a member of NATO, so there were mixed ideas about what to do, but Poland and the Baltic States are. If Russia thinks it can intimidate or even occupy parts of those states, simply because it sees the US as a waning power, NATO will be finished. With that, the remnants of American influence will be finished. We have to put troops in those places and do exercises in those places and we should reconsider installing the radars that President Obama declined to place in Poland and the Czech Republic when he first took office.

Listen to the Soundcloud of the August 9, 2015 Lisa Benson Radio Show

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Coming to America: Asylum Seekers from Cuba, Africa and South Asia

Our June NER article, Trojan Horse Federal Refugee Program Brings Jihadi Threat to America: An Interview with Ann Corcoran noted the increasing numbers of illegal migrants making global treks by air and water to Latin America and the trek north to the U.S. border for asylum. They sought this difficult passage for a variety of reasons; but really one, “to seek a better life”.  Although there may be some among the 3,400 who have undertaken this dangerous long distance passage who may have other reasons in mind. Coincidentally, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Weekend Edition had a front page article, focusing on the passage through the Darien jungle of Panama, “Panama’s Perilous Jungle Is a New Route for Migrants”.  There are  also costly water passages by human traffickers that avoid the Darien jungle equivalent to those we have written about in the Mediterranean.  However, ike the experience of illegal migrants fleeing Syria, Sub Sahara Africa endeavoring to reach the EU via Libya and other crossing points they may be robbed and murdered by ‘coyotes,’ human traffickers.

 Among those interviewed in the WSJ article were illegal migrants from Guinea, Somalia, Pakistan and Cuba.  Note that common thread is escape from Jihadis, Sharia arranged marriages or tyranny, as in the case of Cuban refugees in this group.  What is also not lost is that all  illegal migrants have prior knowledge, that if they survive the trek north and illegally cross the U.S. southern border, they can present themselves as asylum seekers.  Because of U.S. asylum privileges for Cuban border crossers, they will likely not be detained but released to possible relatives. In other cases, as we have seen, they will  be transported to a DHS Immigration Customs Enforcement Detention Center, to await  a hearing before a Justice Department, Executive Office for Immigration Review,  immigration judge. Before him they will invoke the important words, ‘fear of physical or political threats’ before a quick decision is gaveled down admitting them as a refugee. They will then obtain benefits under the Refugee Act of 1980, including community placement, unless they can claim relatives here in the U.S.  The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program then takes over providing a smorgasbord of welfare, Medicaid, housing assistance and a pathway to ultimate citizenship. All without any reasonable means of screening asylees as documentation may be absent or virtually unavailable from their country of origin.

Watch this WSJ video:

Note these WSJ article excerpts.

A Somali:

Ahmed Hassan staggered through dense Panamanian jungle, crazy with thirst, his rubber sandals sliding in the mud, fearing he would die thousands of miles from his homeland in Somalia.

“I told my family I would go to the U.S., that was the plan,” said the 26-year-old truck driver, who said he fled late last year when al-Shabaab militants took his village. He flew to Brazil and made a cross-continental bus trip to Colombia.

In March came his biggest test: crossing the Darien Gap that connects South America with Panama and Mr. Hassan’s ultimate goal, the U.S.

“There was no water. There were snakes,” he said in a small holding center in Metetí, north of the jungle, gashes and bites covering his legs under his traditional sarong. “I thought I might die in that jungle.”

A Guinean:

There is still the journey through Central America and Mexico, but migrants say the Darien is the hardest. “I want to get to the U.S.,” said Hawa Bah, 20, who fled Guinea in West Africa. She spoke as she lay weak on a cot in a Panamanian holding center after getting lost in the Darien for more than 10 days.

“I was being forced into marriage, and I was worried about Ebola,” she said. “I’d rather have died in the jungle than go back.”

A Cuban Couple:

Yamil Gonzales, a Cuban, staggered up an incline above the beach, wheezing. “Agua,” murmured Mr. Gonzales, 45, collapsing against a tree as companions frantically dug through black garbage bags for water.

Soon, he was plowing through underbrush littered with bottles and broken sandals left by prior processions.

“It’s been hard, really hard,” said his wife, Yalile Alfonso, 47. “But in Cuba, there’s nothing. We had to come this way.” The couple was well-prepared, with passports, detailed plans to take buses to the U.S. border and knowledge of U.S. asylum laws.

A Pakistani:

But unlike the jungle route, this approach is close to Colombia, so border authorities can easily deport migrants without passports. That was Mohammed Khan’s fate. A father of four from Swat, a Pakistani area plagued by Taliban violence, he had landed with Mr. Gonzales. Months before, people of his village had pitched in $7,000 for his trip, he said.

A small pack on his back, Mr. Khan, 38, looked elated as he scrambled down the slope toward the tiny town of La Miel. People had told him Panama police would be hospitable.

But he had dumped his passport much earlier. The border authorities shook their heads as he pleaded: “Please, please, help me.” They marched him back up the mountain to Colombia.

Early this month, Mr. Khan texted that he re-entered Panama via the jungle, where he had seen “a lot dead.” He was in Guatemala, waiting to head north.

“Go USA,” he texted. “Plz pray.”

Note the open pathway to the U.S. once access to Panama is obtained:

Critics like Otto Reich, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, have said Ecuador’s open-door stance may result in a threat to the U.S. And Panamanian officials “know they are coming to the U.S. and then once here they will no longer be Panama’s problem,” said Mr. Reich, who heads a government-relations and trade-consulting firm.

Javier Carillo, director of Panama’s National Migration Service, says it is unfair to blame Panama for the problem, since migrants arrive illegally and pass through some nine other countries on their way to the U.S. A spokesman for Colombia’s immigration authority said it combats human smuggling and offers migrants the opportunity to apply for asylum or safe-conduct papers.

Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it “is not aware of this human trafficking route.” Officials at Ecuador’s immigration authority didn’t respond to requests for comment. Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry has said the country doesn’t support criminal activity.

Cubans, who say crossing the Florida Straits has become too tough, are the biggest group flowing across and around the isthmus. Others from far-off countries are also arriving in growing numbers: Panama processed 210 Somalis crossing the Darien this year through March, up from 60 in the year-earlier period.

Where have we heard about the Darien Gap in what is now Panama?  Think of the brief Scottish colony of “Caledonia” established in the 1690 in the Gulf of Darien, that was supposed to conduct trade in both the Atlantic and Pacific. The so-called “Darien Scheme” failed for a host of reasons including poor planning, provisions and being ravaged by epidemics until the colony was overrun by Spanish military in 1700. Because it was backed by upwards of 50 percent of currency in circulation in Scotland, its failure ultimately forced the merger that created the United Kingdom in 1707.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

Obama’s Phased Nuclear Deal with Iran: Kicking the bomb down the road?

This column is co-authored with Ilana Freedman who is a veteran intelligence analyst and specialist in counter-terrorism. Ilana is Editor of FreedmanReport.com.

When we posted late Monday night, February 23, 2015, on breaking news about the phased deal resulting from bilateral discussions between U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, we knew from our sources that more shoes would be likely to drop. Last night we received information from these reliable sources on the extent to which the Administration had strayed from its original mandate. The information was:

  • Secretary of State John Kerry is poised to sign a secret Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the U.S. and Iran that was completed by negotiators on Saturday, February 14.
  • The State Department has received a decision from Eric Holder’s Department of Justice that the MoU does not require approval by the U.S. Senate in the Constitutionally defined process of Advise and Consent for treaties between the United States and other nations, and that therefore Congress will not be consulted.
  • The agreement does not cover the subject of inspections, removing the requirements of having inspections at any of the sites covered by the memorandum.
  • The agreement will allow Iran to have 10,000 enhanced centrifuges that will increase their nuclear program capacity by upwards of 50%.
  • Of the 10,000 centrifuges allotted, all of Iran’s 6,000 existing centrifuges will be converted to the enhanced, next generation versions. The conversion can begin immediately after the agreement is signed. This will enable Iran to achieve a nuclear threshold state in less than two years. The balance of 4,000 centrifuges will, according to our sources, be supplied by Russia.
Alireza Jafarzadeh Deputy Director of Natioal Council of Reskistance of Iran National Press Club  @-24-15 Source AFP

Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director, Washington Office of NCRI, National Press Club, Feb. 24, 2015.

It is not known whether other Iranian nuclear sites will likewise fall under this inspection exemption, including military test sites like Parchin and the secret parallel Lavizan site, which was disclosed in Washington on Tuesday, February 24th by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in a National Press Club briefing. At the NPC briefing, Alireza Jafarzadeh, Deputy Director of the NCRI’s Washington D.C. office, reported on a secret test site which has been previously identified in reports of the Washington, D.C. based, Institute for Science and International Security.

“Despite the Iranian regime’s claims that all of its enrichment activities are transparent … it has in fact been engaged in research and development with advanced centrifuges at a secret nuclear site called Lavizan-3,” he said.  Jafarzadeh said the site was hidden in a military base in the northeastern suburbs of Tehran.

According to the presentation, the complex was described as a facility 164 feet underground. The Lavizan-3 site was apparently constructed between 2004 and 2008 and has underground labs connected by a tunnel, and lead-lined doors to seal out radiation leaks.  The facility itself is heavily shielded from radiation and insulated against noise and radiation leaks to avoid detection.

“Since 2008, the Iranian regime has secretly engaged in research and uranium enrichment with advanced… centrifuge machines at this site,” Jafarzadeh said.

The NCRI called the existence of the site “a clear violation” of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as UN resolutions and an interim November 2013 deal struck with the P5+1 group, he said.

When asked about the NCRI findings at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on the bi-lateral discussions with Iran, Secretary Kerry commented:

That U.S. officials knew of charges related to the site prior to this week, but that “it has not been revealed yet as a nuclear facility.”

“It is a facility that we are well aware of, which is on a list of facilities we have,” the Secretary of State said during a Capitol Hill budget hearing on Wednesday morning. “I’m not going to go into greater detail. . . .But these things are obviously going to have to be resolved as we go forward.”

Rep. Brad Sherman, ranking Democrat on the House Affairs Committee replied to Kerry:

 “The MEK sometimes gives us accurate information.”

“They are the ones that told the world about the Iranian nuclear program,” Mr. Sherman said. “They now say that there’s a secret facility at Lavizan-3.”

A credible independent expert monitoring Iran’s nuclear program raised questions about the NCRI findings.  David Albright of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Science and International Security commented in a USA Today article, February 27, 2015:

“The basic story raises questions about its authenticity. They may have answers but the questions raise further doubts,” Albright said. “The claims are so controversial that any manipulated evidence casts doubt on the whole story.”

The matter of possible violations of the P5+1 interim agreements, the lack of inspections of military applications facilities like Parchin, the Arak heavy water reactor and the Lavizan-3  site near Tehran underlines the evidence of Iran’s  retention of significant uranium enrichment  centrifuge capabilities under the suggested 10 year phase deal the Administration announced  earlier this week.  It begs the question of why any enrichment capabilities are provided to Iran under the proposed arrangement, given that the principal use of centrifuges is for enrichment of uranium into fissile materials for bomb making.

That was a point made by Dan Diker, executive producer of the Voice of Israel “National Security” program during a Middle East Round Table discussion on 1330am WEBY Northwest Florida’s Talk Radio, “Your Turn” with co-hosts Mike BatesJerry Gordon of the NER and Shoshana Bryen , senior director  of the Washington, D.C. based Jewish Policy Center.

Diker of the VOI noted:

The notion that Iran would be able to enrich any uranium is completely unacceptable.  The civilian nuclear programs around the world hosted by Canada and other western countries have nothing to do with centrifuges.  They are just not part of the nuclear file.  Many countries want to have peaceful civilian nuclear power.  The notion that the Iranians would claim that they need centrifuges to produce peaceful nuclear power is an absurdity.  The fact that the P5+1 have allowed any uranium to be enriched is an extremely dangerous proposition.  That is the message that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to bring to the American people and by extension to the world community.

As to why President Obama and Secretary Kerry would sanction the phased program, Bryen of the JPC suggested:

“[The President’s] thinking appears to be that ten years from now the Mullahs will have fallen, young Iranian democrats will have taken over, and it will be OK.  The big piece of this that he missed is that the Mullahs only represent one part of the Iranian body politic and that is the religious part. Iran is also Persian and Persians are empire-oriented.  Even if we get rid of the Mullahs, even if we get rid of the religious basis for governance in Iran and we have secular people, secular people in Persia believe in a Persian Empire. If we kick this can down the road ten years and the Mullahs are gone, Obama thinks that will be a good thing. I’m not sure that’s true.”

Listen to the February 24, 21015 1330am WEBY Middle East Round Table discussion on the Iranian nuclear program: Segment 1Segment 2Segment 3Segment 4.

An article based on the 1330am WEBY Round Table program will be published in the March 2015, NER.

The WEBY panel will also be heard on a separate Voice of Israel “National Security” program, Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 1PM Israel Standard Time ( 6:00 AM EST in the U.S.).  A sound cloud of that VOI broadcast will also be available on March 1st.

Iran’s provocative activities during the so-called Great Prophet-9 maneuvers this week raised questions about the untimely demonstrations of force directed at the US Fifth Fleet presence in the Persian Gulf. The first episode was the destruction by Iranian cruise missiles on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 launched at a replica of a U.S. aircraft carrier as a target near the international oil/gas choke point, the Straits of Hormuz, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf.  Watch the video, here.

Then on Friday, February 27, 2015, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps Navy announced the successful launch of a cruise missile from a submerged Ghadir midget-submarine with a range of 150 miles. Watch the video, here.   Sepah news service quoted Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, commander of IRGC-N saying:

The new weapon would be critical in any future naval war against the U.S.

“The new weapon will have a very decisive role in adding our naval power in confronting threats,” he was quoted as stating in Sepah News.

Iran’s latest operations in the Persian Gulf near the Strait of Hormuz raises many questions. Why mount exercises in which a mock US aircraft carrier is destroyed by the Iranian navy? Or launch cruise missiles designed to take out a US naval destroyer just as the US is about to give them everything they want without a shot fired?  It may be a show of arrogance, a finger in the eye of the Obama administration (which it believes to be weak and foolish), or a move beyond the MoU into a new level of saber rattling to show its neighbors the seriousness of its ambitions. Or it might be all three, a typical multi-dimensional Persian chess play by the IRGC.

What the US must learn – and fast – is that this is not an enemy one can toy with. As in most Middle East politics, the weak are despised and the game goes to the powerful. As the secrets of Obama’s secret negotiations are revealed (or leaked), and the truth comes out about our feckless policies of negotiations and appeasement, the outcome is likely to be devastating for the region and the world.  Iran revels in its possible conquest of American might and moves a giant step closer to achieving its nuclear ambitions with America’s assistance – and blessings.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

“Zionism Unsettled” is a hatefilled document endorsed by Iran and David Duke

zionism unsettledA century ago the Presbyterian Church was among the leading Christian Zionists. These days a minority within  the Presbyterian Church USA is engaged in relentless delegitimization of Israel through a decade long BDS campaign. Their affiliate the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) released last month a 74 page guide, Zionism Unsettled (the Guide) that recently stoked the ire of the American Jewish community. A JNS.org story on the Zionism Unsettled guide cited Rabbi Noam Marans, the American Jewish Committee’s  Director of Intergroup and Interreligious Relations, who called it:

 A devastating distortion of Jewish and Israeli history, aimed at nothing less than eradicating the State of Israel.

The study guide is reminiscent of medieval Christian polemics against Judaism, with the authors claiming to know better than the Jewish community how Jews define themselves. This is another example of the ongoing effort to demonize Israel by a cadre of people who want to see the dismantlement of the Jewish state.

Here are some examples drawn from the Guide  that led to adverse criticism:

The Nakba (catastrophe) that befell the Palestinian people in the late 1940s should never have taken place. The Palestinian story is one of suffering at the hands of the international community, which authorized the division of Palestine in 1947, and at the hands of the Zionists who planned, organized, and implemented systematic ethnic cleansing.

Now, 65 years later, the Zionist quest for demographic control of the land in still underway – not only in the occupied territories, but within Israel itself.

Yesterday, the Guide received the endorsements of the Shiite Islamic Anti-Semitic Regime’s Press TV in Tehran and the American Anti-Semite, David Duke.  Duke has conducted outreach to Muslim Anti-Semitic groups in both Syria and Iran, to say nothing of his racist efforts here in the US.

Press TV’s report, “Zionism destroying lives of Palestinians, Jews” applauded the anti-Zionist Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP):

In a study guide on the Israeli regime released by the IPMN of Presbyterian Church (USA) last month, the authors argue that Jewish criticism of Zionism is on the rise, hailing the Jews who speak against the ‘supremacist’ movement.

“Contemporary voices are breaking the taboos that have stigmatized and punished critical examination of Zionism and its consequences,” says the study guide, calling on the brave Jews who criticize Zionism to resist a concerted effort by Pro-Zionist groups to silence them.

Press TV supported the Guide’s anti-Israel views:

A Presbyterian Church group has described Zionism as the single reason behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying it is destroying the lives of both Palestinians and Jewish communities across the world.

Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst for the Boston-based Middle East media watchdog, CAMERA, cited praise for the Guide from David Duke in an Algemeiner article:

In a major breakthrough in the worldwide struggle against Zionist extremism, the largest Presbyterian Church in the United States, the PC (USA), has issued a formal statement calling Zionism “Jewish Supremacism” — a term first coined and made popular by Dr. David Duke.

The IPMN website has additional acclamation from leftist Anti-Zionist Ben Gurion University Professor Neve Gordon (no relation) and former Palestinian National Council spokesman, Professor Rashid Khalidi, holder of the endowed Edward Said Chair on Modern Arab Studies  at Columbia University:

Gordon said in his blurb:

In my work I am inspired by the great Jewish prophets’ struggle for justice and freedom, while simultaneously I am often astounded how certain strains in Judaism and Christianity invoke the Bible in order to justify oppression and social wrongs in Israel/Palestine. Therefore I welcome the effort to emphasize a conception of Judaism and Christianity that espouses universalistic ethics – whereby all humans are imago dei – and to use it to expose injustices carried out in my homeland.

Khalidi said:

The denial of the rights of the Palestinians is largely driven by the exemption of Zionist ideology and its real-world implications from any serious scrutiny. Zionism Unsettled explains accurately and concisely why it is essential to look at the theological roots of Zionism, and how it has appealed to both Jews and Christians, in order to understand the true nature of the long ordeal suffered by the Palestinian people, as well as the real roots of so much of the strife in the Middle East.

Today, the Presbyterian Church (USA ) entered the fray with a news release in the wake of this kerfuffle over the Guide:

 “Our church has a long history of engaging many points of view when it comes to dialogue on critical issues facing the world around us — it’s who we are, part of our DNA,” said Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “There are likely as many differing opinions as there are Presbyterians — and, like many denominations, we don’t always agree.”

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) policy calls for a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine and the right for each to exist within secure and recognized borders. The church has condemned acts of violence on both sides of the conflict, as well as the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlements. Our church has categorically condemned anti-Semitism in all its forms, including the refusal to acknowledge the legal existence of the State of Israel. At the same time, we believe that condemnation of injustices perpetrated in the name of the State of Israel, including the violation of human rights, does not constitute anti-Semitism.

In 2004, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) formed the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) to help move the church toward the goal of a just peace in Israel/Palestine. The independent group — which speaks to the church and not for the church — recently published a study guide, Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study. The guide is intended to prompt discussion on the ever-changing and tumultuous issue of Israel-Palestine. The IPMN booklet was neither paid for nor published by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

“There are myriad voices within congregations, and some would like to see the church go beyond that stance,” added Valentine. “But we remain guided by the policies of the General Assembly, seeking peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Then it quotes the head of the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace:

There are a variety of voices and opinions within the Jewish community on this issue as well. Jewish Voice for Peace advocates for a peaceful and just solution among Palestinians and Israelis that respects human rights for all.

“We are in opposition to the settlements and occupation, and in favor of a true and just peace,” said Sydney Levy, director of advocacy for Jewish Voice for Peace. “And we are not alone in this — Jews, Christians, and Muslims join us in the prayer for peace.”

Is this the view of all members of the PCUSA?  Not by any means.  Robert Norvell, a Presbyterian Minister and counter-jihad activist in Jonesboro, Arkansas wrote in an email:

I believe 85% of all Presbyterians are adamantly opposed to this study. Is Israel perfect? No, but neither is the USA. But Israel is far superior morally to Hamas, Fatah and the other Muslim savages populating the neighborhood. They are our only reliable friends and allies in the region. I am embarrassed by the actions of a few Presbyterian extremists.

Dexter Van Zile in the JNS.org article corroborated Norvell’s comment saying:

The folks who lead this church in Louisville (site of Presbyterian Church USA’s headquarters) are quite willing to allow a small but vocal minority to demonize Israel and use the church’s brand-name to do it. They have behaved like this since 2004. Most of the denomination’s laity does not support these extremists, but their voice has not proven to be decisive.

When I wrote about a battle within the PCUSA over an anti-Israel BDS resolution at the annual conference in an American Thinker article in June 2006, “Divest Hate”, I noted who were among the Presbyterians opposing it:

Because grass roots opinion has been building among both pastors and their flocks against the leadership of the PCUSA on the divestment resolution. They want to eliminate hate and most importantly protect the religious freedoms of minority Christians in the Middle East from the real threat of Islamic fundamentalism. Their allies in this battle include leading grassroots Presbyterian groups like End Divestment Now!, founded by Jim Roberts.  Among vocal opponents of the BDS resolution was former CIA director, R. James Woolsey, a Presbyterian Elder,  and chairman of the Washington, DC-based foundation for Defense of Democracies..

Zionism Unsettled  is a hateful document that has had a spotlight thrown on it  by the endorsement of Iran’s Press TV and David Duke. As cited by Norvell, we trust that  a majority of Presbyterians will rise to the occasion and defeat another BDS resolution at the Church’s upcoming annual conference in June.  Whether they can remove the current PCUSA leadership and return to the moral high ground is another matter. Nonetheless, we wish the activist laity well in their battle to support the Jewish nation of Israel.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.