Former CIA Station Chief Gary Berntsen’s analysis of ISIS videos

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Gary Berntsen, former CIA Station Chief.

This exclusive extended interview with former CIA Station Chief Gary Berntsen looks at the strategy behind the recent release of videos showing the beheading of two Americans, the most recent of Miami, FL journalist Steven J. Sotloff.

Isabel Kershner from the New York Times reports, “The beheading of Steven J. Sotloff, the American journalist from Miami who had been held hostage by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, suddenly loomed larger for many Israelis on Wednesday when it emerged that he held Israeli citizenship and had lived and studied in the country for a few years.”

On three separate occasions, Gary led the CIA’s most important counter-terrorism deployments including the United States’ response to the East Africa Embassy bombings and the 9/11 attacks and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Gary is one of the CIA’s most decorated agents receiving awarded the Distinguished Intelligence Medal in 2000 and in 2004 the prestigious Intelligence Star (only a few dozen CIA officers have received this award-most posthumously).

Watch Gary give his professional analysis of the message ISIS wants to send President Obama:

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Exposed: Do you know the real John B. Morgan, Charlie Crist’s alter ego?

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John Morgan with Barack Obama.

Many people do not know the real John B. Morgan, head of Morgan & Morgan legal firm in Orlando, FL. John B. Morgan is Charlie Crist’s boss and the power behind the Crist campaign. Charlie runs the Tampa office of Morgan & Morgan.

John Morgan and Charlie Crist are inextricably linked. Morgan supported Crist when he was a Republican governor, when he ran for the U.S. Senate as an Independent and now that he is running for governor as a Democrat.

So let’s take a quick look at the real John Morgan, the man behind the Florida marijuana legalization Amendment 2.

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Charlie Crist and John Morgan of Morgan & Morgan.

John Morgan – DUI and Police Battery:

In 1997, Morgan Was Arrested For Battery On A Police Officer. “Until his arrest last week in Casselberry for battery on a police officer, 1997 had been a very good year for Orlando attorney John B. Morgan.” (Lawrence Budd, “Attorney’s Arrest Has Batter Included,” Orlando Weekly, 12/18/97)

  • Morgan Was Pulled Over And Cited For A DUI. “But at about 3 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 10, Morgan and his red Cadillac were pulled over on S.R. 436 after pulling out of a Denny’s parking lot. Police say he swerved across lanes without signaling and stopped abruptly in the intersection with S.R. 17/92, after having traveled five feet past the white line marking a safe-stopping location. After the light changed, Morgan drove on, nearly clipping the curb, before using all three lanes to negotiate a curve, according to reports by Casselberry police. He was pulled over at Brewer Street and, after reportedly failing field sobriety tests, cited for driving under the influence.” (Lawrence Budd, “Attorney’s Arrest Has Batter Included,” Orlando Weekly, 12/18/97)
  • During The Arrest, Morgan Became “Enraged,” Hitting And Headbutting The Officer And Calling The Officer A “Fat Fucker” And “Baldy.” “But, according to the arresting officer, Morgan became enraged upon arriving at the Seminole County Jail, called the officer a “fat fucker” and “baldy,” twice headbutted him, and hit him in the face with his left hand.” (Lawrence Budd, “Attorney’s Arrest Has Batter Included,”Orlando Weekly, 12/18/97)
  • Morgan Was Charged With DUI, Failure To Provide Insurance, Two Other Traffic Violations, And Battery On A Police Officer. “So, in addition to charges of DUI, failure to provide insurance and two other minor traffic offenses, Morgan was charged with battery on a police officer, a third-degree felony calling for up to five years in prison.” (Lawrence Budd, “Attorney’s Arrest Has Batter Included,” Orlando Weekly, 12/18/97)
  • Morgan Pled Guilty To Drunken-Driving, Receiving A Year Probation, $500 Fine, And Having His License Suspended For Six Months, And Prosecutors Dropped The Battery Charge. “John Morgan, a personal injury attorney, has agreed to a plea deal in his drunken-driving case. Attorneys said Wednesday that Morgan would be sentenced to a year’s probation, fined $500 and give up his drivers license for six months. In return, prosecutors reduced the charge from a felony to misdemeanor and dropped a battery charge.” (“Lawyer Morgan Agrees To Plea Deal In DUI Case,” Orlando Sentinel, 1/29/98)

This Was Not Morgan’s First DUI Charge, Which Came In September 1993, When Morgan Pled Guilty To A Reduced Charge. “Then on Sept. 10, 1993, Morgan accepted a plea bargain reducing his charge to reckless driving. He paid a f $500 fine and agreed to serve 100 hours of community service or pay another $1,000. Perhaps more importantly, Morgan that time had escaped the public embarrassment of being convicted of DUI.” (Lawrence Budd, “Attorney’s Arrest Has Batter Included,” Orlando Weekly, 12/18/97)

  • In 1993, Morgan’s Attorney Filed 10 Motions And Attempted To Argue Alcohol Had Nothing To Do With The Two Car Accident, After Morgan Registered A 0.134 On A Breathalyzer. “In 1993, Hyman filed more than 10 motions contesting Morgan’s arrest for DUI after a minor two-car accident in Altamonte Springs. Morgan said he was ‘distracted by his car phone,’ according to the report. But after failing field tests, he registered 0.134 on the Breathalyzer.” (Lawrence Budd, “Attorney’s Arrest Has Batter Included,” Orlando Weekly, 12/18/97)
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John Morgan mug shot. For a larger view click on the image.

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Massachusetts: Pastor Scott Lively makes ballot for Governor — A Powerful voice on pro-family issues

Pastor Scott Lively officially makes ballot for Governor of Massachusetts! Speaking out on pro-family issues other candidates won’t touch. Submits over 12,500 valid signatures from 250 towns across the state! Supports Fisher in GOP primary.

Pastor Scott Lively, the internationally renowned pro-family activist, author, and spiritual leader of the Springfield, Massachusetts based Abiding Truth Ministries, has officially made the ballot for Governor of Massachusetts, as an Independent. He is joined on the ballot by his Lt. Governor running mate, Shelly Saunders.

Scott Lively’s candidacy has caught on around the state. Here’s one of their flyers. Here’s their website.

In Massachusetts 10,000 valid signatures are needed to get on the ballot for Governor. In the days leading up to the July 29 deadline Dr. Lively’s statewide team of signature gatherers turned in approximately 16,000 signatures. Over 12,500 have now been validated by the local town clerks, well over the amount needed, from over 250 Massachusetts cities and towns.

Scott Lively and his running mate Shelly Saunders were hitting the streets campaigning early. Here they are in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade back in March. Needless to say, they got a great reception that day!

Lively speaks out on issues that others don’t want to touch!

Since he announced his candidacy earlier this year, Dr. Lively has been a wonderful breath of fresh air at gubernatorial candidate forums on pro-family issues, especially the ones involving Democratic and Independent candidates together. In particular, he has been completely unafraid to take on the radical homosexual agenda, which is a subject that other candidates either tend to support, or stay away from. But he’s also articulated a Biblical approach to a range of other issues, such as health care and tax reform. Needless to say, voters in Massachusetts are not used to seeing this!

As we reported back in March, Scott Lively was outstanding in a candidates’ forum for “LGBT issues” sponsored by WGBH and the homosexual lobby group MassEquality. He was the only one actually willing to tell the truth among a sea of politicians shamelessly pandering to that lobby!

Lively was outstanding at this “LGBT issues” forum. Watch it here.

Recently at a candidates’ health care forum in Roxbury on Aug. 20, Lively outlined the Biblical-oriented approach to health insurance that he uses for himself, as opposed to RomneyCare (now ObamaCare) which is standard in Massachusetts. It’s very interesting. The other candidates were not too pleased, to say the least. Watch that forum HERE.

At the health care forum Lively outlined a Biblical-oriented approach that he uses himself!

To supporters: Vote for Mark Fisher in Sept. 9 Republican primary

Independent candidates for Governor do not go through a primary, but are directly on the ballot for the Nov. 4 General Election. Thus, the real “action “coming up is the Sept. 9 primary. There are three Democrat candidates for Governor and two Republican candidates for Governor in that primary. (There are also two other Independent candidates besides Lively who made the ballot for Governor.)

The Republican primary race features establishment RINO Charlie Baker against conservative Tea Party candidate businessman Mark Fisher. Fisher is good on all the issues. Because of his unabashed conservatism, the politically “moderate” State Massachusetts GOP has taken extraordinarily underhanded actions to destroy Fisher’s candidacy. Baker is leading in the polls but Fisher, with a big Tea Party and pro-family effort, is making a strong surge for conservative voters to go to the polls on Sept. 9.

Thus, Lively has released the following statement encouraging his supporters to vote for Mark Fisher in the Republican primary on Sept. 9:

I am asking my supporters to vote for Mark Fisher, a genuine conservative, in the Republican Primary on September 9th.  If Mark can win the primary, I have promised to defer to his candidacy and bow out of the race should he make a strong showing approaching the general election.  I will not be the reason an authentic conservative Republican would lose the governor’s seat.

Should Fisher lose, Lively’s campaign will go forward at full speed and he will definitely be a presence. The Boston mainstream media has a history of including the independent candidates in their televised gubernatorial debates. This may be because the independents have traditionally been hardcore liberals. And except for Lively, that’s the case this year.

In addition to campaign . . . cutting edge activism!

In addition to the formal campaign, Dr. Lively has continued his cutting-edge activism and religious pursuits as head of Abiding Truth Ministries, taking on many of the larger issues of the culture war. For example:

  • “Not Just Another Sin.” In response to what he (and others) see as a “tidal wave of gay theology” coming to Christian churches, he has published a pamphlet for pastors and others titled “Not Just Another Sin. ” It has already been highly acclaimed and he and others are preparing to distribute it across the country!  Read & download it HERE.
  • Debating Vicky Beeching. Lively did an excellent interview on British television debating Christian performer Vicky Beeching who recently “came out” as a lesbian and was celebrated in the mainstream media. Watch the video HERE (Scott Lively appears at 7 min 40 sec).
  • Anti-genocide organization. Dr. Lively is in the process of forming an organization in Springfield called “Christian Genocide Rescue” to address the horrors of the mass murders of Christians happening in Muslim countries right now. He recently held a “Rally Against Christian Genocide” that included a march through Springfield, MA.

However, he has curtailed much of his international traveling because of the campaign for Governor and other constraints. This month he had been scheduled to be in England for two weeks, and he recently canceled a trip to Russia scheduled for October.

And then there’s the international lawsuit against Lively . . .

As we’ve been reporting, back in March 2012, a radical Soros-funded organization based in New York began a high-profile lawsuit against Pastor Lively, filed in federal court in Springfield.  They are making the absurd and ridiculous accusation that Lively is guilty of international “crimes against humanity,” based on a few pro-family speeches he made in Uganda several years ago. This bizarre lawsuit is largely meant to intimidate Lively and anyone else from speaking out internationally on the homosexual issue.

Homosexual activists hold rally outside courthouse at Scott Lively’s initial hearing in 2012.

Quite a bit has happened in that case this year, and we have a full update coming up.

Currently, the case is in the midst of the “discovery” process. Dr. Lively has been required to find and submit over 4000 documents to the court and to the Soros-funded group, and he is still in the process of submitting more. His lawyers have also submitted lists of documents for the plaintiffs to submit.

The preliminary activities in the case will continue for several months. The trial itself would probably not start until early 2016 -– if it’s allowed by the judge to continue.

Lively is standing up boldly in this. The belief is still that the judge -– as left-wing as he is –- will eventually be forced to conclude that this lawsuit has no legal basis and dismiss it before it goes to trial. But in this insane world, anything is possible. We will keep you informed.

The New York Times Censors anti-ISIS ad

The New York Times will publish the most awful Abu Ghraib photos but will not publish a picture of an ISIS terrorist holding a knife standing alongside an American.

Rabbi Shmuley

Rabbi Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach, “America’s rabbi.”

This World – The Values Network founder Rabbi Shmuley in an email states:

‘America reinforces its values and thus its security by being transparent about even the worst abuses of those values, not by hiding the evidence deep in a file drawer.”

This sentence is from a New York Times editorial of August 30, 2014. The editorial was written in response to a decision by Federal district court Judge Alvin Hellerstein forcing the Obama administration to justify why it will not release approximately 2,000 photos that allegedly document abuse by the American military and investigators in Iraq and Afghanistan, which begs the question of why The New York Times forced us to remove a photograph of a hooded ISIS executioner holding a knife while standing by American journalist James Foley. We were forced to remove the photograph and replace it with one without a knife in order to have the ad appear this Tuesday in the Times.

Why did the Times condemn the American government for trying to suppress images of alleged abuse on the part of the American military, while it seeks to suppress the horrors of the world’s most monstrous terrorist organization, which decapitates Americans? But even that was a lot better than The Los Angeles Times that demanded the removal also of a second image which depicted Hamas terrorists standing alongside hooded “collaborators” which they were about to execute. The Telegraph in London demanded the same in order for the ad to be published.

Even The Wall Street Journal demanded the picture with the knife be replaced.

Here is the ad that the New York Times refused to publish:

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For a larger view click on the image.

ABOUT RABBI SHMUEL “SHMULEY” BOTEACH

Rabbi Shmuel “Shmuley” Boteach, “America’s rabbi,” whom The Washington Post calls “the most famous rabbi in America,” is the founder of This World: The Values Network, the world’s leading organization promoting universal Jewish values in politics, culture and the media. The international best-selling author of 30 books, he has recently published Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

Dear Rick and Pam — as in Scott and Bondi

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AG Bondi and Governor Scott in Sarasota, FL.

Let me publicly reiterate my private conversations with each of you at your campaign rally on Labor Day. I am a laborer, a small business owner who works at least 60 hours a week six days per week and barely pays our family’s bills. I am also a strong advocate of elders and of children; thus, I vociferously support your combined efforts to cleanse Florida of pill mills and to “stop the pot” machine steamrolling over the Sunshine State, about to become the “Stoned State.”

Both of these issues are inextricably interwoven with each other and with another urgent elder issue – guardianship abuse. How so? The mentality that pushes pills to adults also pushes pot to our youth, in particular, and exploits our elders, by filling them with prescription drugs while in guardianship as Wards of the State of Florida. We call it chemical restraint. If there is one State Ward in Florida who is not under the influence of chemical restraints – anti-depressants and other psychotropics – it would be extraordinarily rare.

Typically, the State of Florida forcibly administers to each of its tens of thousands of Wards some or all of the following prescription drugs, commonly against the will of both the Wards and their families: Zoloft, Lorazepam, Clonidin, Lexapro, Seroquel, Ativan, Xanax, Risperdal, Haldol, Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, … ad infinitum. If the names sound familiar, it is because these same drugs are part and parcel of the pill mills Florida has evicted from our borders. Why then are our beloved parents and grandparents victimized by court-authorized pill mills via guardianships?

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Beverly Newman speaking to Governor Scott.

At least equally hideous to the abusive use of chemical restraints on the elderly is the forcible immobilization of them through physical restraints, tethering frail elderly women and men to beds and chairs, such that they cannot move their bodies or limbs. On September 21, 2009, I personally witnessed both the chemical and physical restraint of my 89-year-old Father, Al Katz, at Manatee Memorial Hospital, against his will and mine.

From September 21 through September 24, with an emergency room diagnosis of cardiac and respiratory distress, my Father, a Ward of the State of Florida, was repeatedly drugged with Haldol, a narcotic that caused him to suffer vivid flashbacks to the tortures he endured as a slave laborer for seven years in the Holocaust. With each dosage of Haldol, Dad was infused with fear, which invariably led to what is known as four-point physical restraints on his wrists and ankles, tying him to the bed so that he could not move at all. Despite my pleas to cease the pill mill administration of Haldol to my Dad and to loosen the rigid physical restraints on him, which were causing him untold cardiac and respiratory stress, the Hospital staff did not relent.

Unknown to me at the time, Manatee Memorial Hospital had previously used the same chemical restraint, Haldol, and physical restraints on a patient whom it consequently buried due to cardiac arrest. During his Hospital stay for alcohol withdrawal in August 2007, Daniel Joseph Jordan, age 41. He entered the Hospital robust and left dead, a victim of torment; yet, two years later, the Hospital employed exactly the same measures on my Dad, a Ward of Florida, who miraculously survived after weeks of doctor-ordered chemical restraints, physical restraints, and isolation after his transfer to Manatee Memorial’s dark, deep basement.

The links between marijuana peddling, prescription pill mills, and guardianship abuse are based upon profit motives and a drug-culture mentality. We citizens of Florida call upon our Governor and our chief legal officer to cut the ties that bind these destructive forces in our State, which splinter our families and end human lives in immeasurable misery.

The Ethics of Fighting with Terrorists

The United States is supporting, funding, and arming “terrorists.” Not through back channels, middlemen, Swiss bank accounts or CIA covert operations, but openly and publicly. The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) was designated as a foreign terrorist organization on October 8, 1997 by the U.S. Department of State after thirteen years of insurgency, including bombing attacks and kidnappings, against Turkish military personnel and citizens. Aside from its use of terrorist tactics, the PKK found itself on the wrong side of the strategically crucial alliance between the United States and Turkey. Now, however, the United States is actively supporting the PKK rebels in their fight against the Islamic State (IS). Additionally, the United States is arming the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to combat IS; these two political parties were classified as “Tier III” terrorist organizations for their role in the armed uprising against Saddam Hussein in the 1990s, although Senator John McCain introduced a Senate amendment last November to have these groups removed from the terror list.

For months now, news headlines have updated the world on the Islamic State’s terrifyingly swift march through Iraq, as militants captured the major cities of Tikrit and Mosul and approached Baghdad and Erbil, where the United States retains military bases. Thousands, most notably the Christians of Mosul and the Yazidis trapped on the Sinjar Mountains, have been slaughtered or forced to flee their homes by IS militants. The Iraqi army failed to stop the onslaught of the Islamic State, even after the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters joined forces with them. But now, IS’s conquests have temporarily stalled in Iraq, due largely to the guerrilla fighters of the PKK, who have allied with the Peshmerga, their long-time rivals, to take back the Mosul dam with the aid of U.S. air strikes. This is good news for the embattled Iraqis and for the United States, which has suffered a loss of international respect for failing to intervene in the civil war and protect persecuted religious minorities sooner. However, these new Kurdish allies may create a legal problem for the United States concerning its terrorism laws.

A Troubled History

The U.S. government has a history of arming controversial rebel groups, beginning with its global mission to prevent the spread of communist ideology in the aftermath of World War II and continuing in the late 20th and early 21st centuries with groups fighting against Islamic extremists and dictators. Major operations include those in Honduras, Chile, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and now Iraq.

Some of the most infamous rebel groups to receive U.S. support were the Contras, groups of guerrilla fighters working to overthrow the communist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. In 1981, the Reagan Administration began financing and arming the rebels. This policy became controversial, not only because of the entanglement in the Iran-Contra Affair, but also because the Contras allegedly engaged in serious and frequent human rights abuses, including attacking and murdering non-combatant civilians, according to Human Rights Watch. Unsurprisingly, the Contras were never listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, but under current U.S. law, the group likely warranted the designation; 18 U.S. Code § 2331 defines “international terrorism” as:

violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping, and occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.

Around the same time, on the other side of the world, the United States was arming another group of rebel fighters—the mujahideen of Afghanistan. Beginning in 1979 and continuing through the 1980s until the collapse of the Soviet Union, mujahideen fighters received weapons and training from the CIA to push back Soviet forces and topple the communist government in Kabul. Unlike the U.S.-backed Contras, the mujahideen successfully drove out the Soviets, and liberated Afghanistan from communism. The ideology that succeeded this regime was even worse.

Dealing with the Consequences

From the U.S.-trained and -armed mujahideen sprung Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, responsible for the 9/11 attacks and deaths of more than 2,200 American soldiers and an estimated 20,000 Afghan civilians in the ground war in Afghanistan. A similarly dangerous and potentially more deadly situation is now unfolding with the Islamic State. Stalling in Iraq, IS has turned its attention to a renewed offensive in northern Syria, using U.S. Humvees captured from the faltering Iraqi army to transport militants and weapons across the border. Armed with American weapons, IS has increased its fighting capabilities and emboldened its fighters, which has added the brutal and tragic beheading of American journalist James Foley to its death toll.

While airstrikes in Iraq have been instrumental in the pushback against IS, President Obama has yet to authorize additional strikes in Syria; for now, America’s solution to the carnage wrought by IS is largely to fight terrorists with other terrorists. It goes without saying that IS must be stopped as quickly and effectively as possible. With an estimated 20,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, the PKK are by far the most experienced and well-trained group to lead a counter-ground attack against IS in northern Iraq and Syria, especially with American air support. After three decades of insurgency with Turkey, PKK rebels are battle-tested and well organized, whereas the Peshmerga and other Kurdish fighters have far less experience and have proven unable to take IS head on. The PKK’s support of besieged minorities and civilians against IS has spurred a lobbying effort in the United States to have the group taken off the State Department’s terrorist organization list. Since a cease-fire agreement with Turkey in March of 2013, the PKK has largely aborted the use of terrorist tactics; however, the group has launched several attacks against Turkish security forces in recent weeks, which could undermine peace negotiations and the recent attempt to declassify it as a terrorist organization.

Fighting in the Grey

It is difficult to determine whether the Contras should have been designated as a terrorist group or whether the United States should have been more cautious about arming the Afghan mujahideen; even hindsight isn’t 20/20. Supporting the PKK may well turn out to be a brilliant strategic move if it leads to the destruction of IS. Nonetheless, in this moment, the PKK is a terrorist organization, and that may put the United States government in a legally grey area. 18 U.S. Code § 2339B states, “Whoever knowingly provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both, and, if the death of any person results, shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”

This section of the law would seemingly prohibit the United States from supporting the PKK, but a later section of the same law states, “No person may be prosecuted under this section in connection with the term ‘personnel’, ‘training’, or ‘expert advice or assistance’ if the provision of that material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization was approved by the Secretary of State with the concurrence of the Attorney General. The Secretary of State may not approve the provision of any material support that may be used to carry out terrorist activity.” This is the exception. As long as the “material support” provided by the United States is not used in a terrorist act, the U.S. government, with approval from both the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, can support foreign terrorist groups. Currently, the PKK is working to defeat IS; killing armed combatants is a legitimate act of war, not terrorism, so it seems that the United States is not acting illegally. However, there is a possibility that arms provided indirectly to the PKK through the Iraqi army and other Kurdish groups could eventually be turned against Turkish security forces and civilians, the latter of which would be an act of terror against a U.S. ally.

A Country Without a Moral Conscious?

What do these situations and potential scenarios mean for U.S. terrorism laws? The point is not whether the United States might entangle itself in grey areas of the laws concerning terrorism; it likely already has. The real question is, do these laws hold any weight? Do they have anything meaningful to contribute to the country’s foreign policy principles and decisions? The United States has chosen not to label groups as terrorist organizations if it is politically inconvenient or would get in the way of a greater policy objective; it provides funding and arms to rebel groups it cannot control, and who have often turned against the United States at a later date; most recently, it is using terrorists to fight other terrorists. If not illegal, this part of American history at least presents a moral predicament, one that we are actively dealing with in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and Iraq. Laws are fundamentally impositions of morality on society, but if the laws we write do not create a guiding moral framework, and instead allow us to do what is most convenient, expedient, or politically popular in the moment without serious regard to a higher set of common ethical principles, then where does a secular society based on the rule of law derive its morality from?

Last year, President Obama, now infamously, said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria constituted a moral red line that, once crossed, would result in severe consequences for the Assad regime. This ended up being an empty threat when proposed airstrikes against Syrian military targets failed to gain support on either side of the aisle in Congress. The decisions that need to be made regarding policy in Middle East are complicated, and they are rarely black or white. But that is the entire point of having a strong set of moral principles—you stick to them even when the choices are difficult or unpopular, or when cutting corners might be easier. The question is, what set of moral principles does the United States have, and do its leaders have the backbone to uphold them?

EDITORS NOTE: Featured image source: ntvmsnbc.com.

Massachusetts: How the GOP tried to destroy Mark Fisher, conservative candidate for Governor

But as Sept. 5 primary nears, Tea Party activists are fighting back! How MassResistance made the difference . . .

Most people assume that the major threat to getting conservatives elected to high office is the liberal Democratic machine. In recent years there’s been another major front in that war: The Republican Party establishment –both state and national. This is fueled by millions of dollars from “progressive Republican” businessmen. And, sadly, it includes many sellout pro-family groups and politicians. [All photos by MassResistance except where noted.]

Fisher at the GOP convention:”I am a full-platform no-excuses-necessary loyal and proud conservative Republican … [Around the country] conservative solutions are the cure for liberal failures … The time has come to tear down that big liberal tent.”

This kind of talk drives the GOP establishment crazy!

But we’ve never seen anything like the Massachusetts Republican Party’s outrageous (and we believe, criminal) efforts to subvert pro-family/Tea Party candidate Mark Fisher’s campaign for governor, which we’ve detailed below.

During Fisher’s speech, former Mass. Governor Bill Weld (sitting, at right), a RINO who voted for Barack Obama, looks up at Mark Fisher and you can tell he’s not happy!

A disturbing national trend explodes in Massachusetts

Ever since the days of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, there’s been a tension between the GOP establishment — who felt they could avoid the Left’s hostile attacke by appeasing them on most “hot-button” issues — and the conservative base who vote on principle. In recent years, this has led to many high-profile battles with Tea Party backed candidates in Republican primaries, which has angered the establishment considerably.

So now we’re seeing the next step: The aggressive purging of conservative candidates for high office before they can get a foothold.

Here in Massachusetts this has turned the State Republican Party into an overtly hostile anti-family institution devoid of political principles that long-time activists no longer recognize. This year Party elites were particularly determined to avoid a primary battle for Governor that could endanger their annointed “moderate” candidate, Charlie Baker.

Fisher’s candidacy for Governor attracts a torrent of GOP hostility

The appearance of Mark Fisher in the Massachusetts governor’s race stymied the Republican establishment. He is not only a fairly solid conservative and wealthy enough to get his campaign off the ground, but he is bright and articulate and can hold his own in any debate. For example, in several head-to-head debates with GOP rival, Charlie Baker, does a much better job in our opinion.

Mark Fisher and Charlie Baker debate at Boston Globe office, which is unquestionably hostile to Fisher.See article and VIDEO of debate here.[Boston Globephoto]

From the very beginning of his campaign, Fisher became Public Enemy #1 to the Republican State Committee and their allies. Their goal was to keep him from being able to run in the primary. And they almost succeeded.

Below is a list of the efforts by the GOP and “pro-family” establishment in Massachusetts over the last year to keep conservative Mark Fisher from being able to run for Governor against the RINO Charlie Baker in the Republican primary. Even most Republicans aren’t aware what’s been going on. That’s why we’re publishing this.

Don’t be surprised if you see these things happen in other states:

A. Prior to the State convention . . .

1. Hostility at his candidacy by “pro-family” Republicans. Late last year when Fisher announced his candidacy, and it became known that he was a pro-family conservative with the means to carry on a serious candidacy, the establishment (including so-called “pro-family” people) began hounding him not to run so Baker would not have a “conservative” challenger. According to newspaper reports this included Karyn Polito (currently running for Lt. Governor), State Rep. Ryan Fattman, and GOP National Committeewoman Chanel Prunier, who also leads the Coalition for Marriage and Family. We know of many other prominent GOP politicians and pro-family “leaders” who also approached Fisher.

2. Turned down by GOP sign company. According to reports, in February Fisher was turned down by a company that regularly makes campaign signs for the GOP because the company was warned  not to do business with Fisher or risk losing other GOP sign business.

B. At the March 22 GOP State Convention . . .

The Mass. GOP state convention filled Agganis Arena at Boston University.

To get on the state ballot, a candidate needed 15% of the delegates to vote for him at the state GOP convention on March 22, 2014. The Mass. GOP made an enormous effort to keep Fisher from getting that amount.

3. Outrageous fee to speak at GOP convention. In order to speak at the GOP State Convention, the Mass GOP raised the “entry fee” for gubernatorial candidates to $25,000, to deter Fisher. Candidates for other statewide offices were charged a fraction of that to speak. Fisher paid it.

4. State Committee emails telling delegates to vote for Baker. The day before the Convention, delegates received “official” looking emails from their state committee representatives telling them that to vote for Charlie Baker – and thus not have a primary by keeping Fisher off the ballot — would be the best thing for the Party.

This “official” email to delegates from their state committeewoman started off with “official” info, but then told them that voting for Baker would be best for the Party.Read it here.

5. The waiting room from hell. State-wide candidates were given nice rooms to prepare for their convention speeches. Mark and his team were given a smelly locker room with benches surrounded by toilets and shower stalls.

Going into the convention Fisher people expected to get 30%. Given that GOP activists who become delegates and actually go to the convention are generally fairly conservative, and seeing who they were on the day of the convention, it was generally believed that Fisher would get at least 30% of the vote. But no one was prepared for the high-pressure campaign that took place that day.

6. Huge pressure on delegates to vote for Baker. Throughout the day, a small army of State Party officials, State Committeemen, GOP State Reps, Town Party Chairmen, GOP candidates for office, and others put on a coordinated effort to strong-arm and harangue delegates not to vote for Fisher –- to either vote for Baker or vote “blank.” We heard about all kinds of interesting threats, mostly involving loss of GOP financial support and/or access to GOP facilities.

On the giant screen GOP national committeewoman Chanel Prunier exhorts the delegates to vote for Charlie Baker.
This delegate told us that during the convention he was pressured by his state committeeman, state committeewoman, State Rep. and even a state pro-family activist to vote for Baker.But he held out and voted for Fisher!

7. GOP won’t release video of Fisher’s convention speech. When his turn came at the convention, Fisher gave a very good speech. The GOP had set up a sophisticated video recording system in the auditorium. But later when Fisher asked for a copy of his speech, the Mass GOP refused to give it to him. Luckily, MassResistance also made a video of his speech, which we’ve allowed his website to use.


VIDEO: Fisher’s convention speech was one of the best we’ve ever seen. The GOP wouldn’t release their video of it, so we let him have OURS!

8. Delegations’ votes are publicly announced, but result is ignored.The vote tally was very public. A GOP official at the podium called out to each of the 40 delegations for their results. Each delegation, using a portable microphone from their area in the auditorium, announced their totals for Baker, Fisher, and “blanks” from their tally sheets which had the names of the delegates and how they voted. The whole thing took about 20 minutes. But at the end, the grand totals were not announced.

9. Convention halts while “re-counting” takes place. The convention immediately stopped and a group of party officials huddled around some tables in front of the stage. At first was not clear what they were doing. Finally, we were told that a “re-counting” of sorts was taking place. This went on for at least half an hour or more.

Right after the public vote. Party officials gathered around a table at the front of the hall for a “re-count.”

10. Baker is declared winner, but actual vote totals still not announced. A few minutes later, Baker was declared the “winner. ” And with a rain of balloons and confetti, and he came up and gave a speech. But what percentage did Baker get? What percentage did Fisher get? It was not announced – only that Baker won.

Even though no vote totals were announced, Charlie Baker was hailed as the “winner” with a sea of confetti. Here Baker (center) is being congratulated by Bill Weld (right).

11. “Re-counting” continues, and “results” finally announced. After Baker’s speech, party officials moved to tables in a back room area and continued their mysterious “re-counting.” After about another two hours, it was announced that Fisher had only received 14.765% of the votes, just missing the 15% requirement. Fisher’s people were not allowed to examine the tally sheets for themselves, however.

The “re-count” group then convened to a back room out of sight. Long after the convention had been gaveled to a close, people continued waiting for the results of the “re-count.”

C. After the convention . . .

12. Mass GOP announces Fisher will not be the ballot. The day after the convention, the Mass GOP announced to the press that Mark Fisher had not received the 15% requirement, and therefore would not be on the ballot. The GOP stood by its “re-count.”

13. Tally sheets still kept hidden.  The Mass GOP continued to refuse to let anyone see the individual delegate vote tally sheets, which apparently added up to the GOP’s new official vote count. Several delegates expressed concern that their votes had been tampered with, miscounted, or that they were “assigned” votes when they hadn’t voted at all.

14. MassResistance video of public vote during convention shows Fisher got his 15%! During the convention, while the delegation votes were being publicly announced, no one had thought to write them down and add them up. But MassResistance videoed the entire process.When we played the video and counted the votes that were announced, we found that Mark Fisher GOT just over 15%, even if you include blank votes. We posted the video and allowed the Fisher campaign to use it, and it was reported in the Boston media. This brought up an additional question: Why were “blank” votes counted in the total, when it was apparently against the rules?


VIDEO: MassResistance video of the roll call vote at the GOP convention revealed that Fisher GOT his 15%! Thus, Fisher’s campaign got new life.

15 Fisher takes the Mass GOP to court.  Why did the public vote count show that Fisher got his 15% but the mysterious “recount” by the GOP showed he didn’t? Why the difference? Obviously, an examination of the tally sheets –- which should have had every delegate’s name and how he voted — would reveal that. But the Mass GOP refused to release them, and they would not give a reason. So the Fisher campaign filed a lawsuitagainst theMass GOP in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston to examine the tally sheets and get on the ballot.

16. Mass GOP caves in and allows Fisher on the ballot. After about three months of preliminary court hearings, the Mass GOP decided to let Fisher on the ballot. But they still refused to release the tally sheets – even to State Committee members – for examination.

17. Court case temporarily crippled Fisher candidacy. Although Fisher won the case, it left his campaign in terrible shape. It cost Fisher’s campaign approximately $100,000 in legal fees. But also, during that 3-month period he was considered “not on the ballot,” so he could not easily raise money, nor could he attract enough volunteers to help get his required 10,000 signatures which were also needed to get on the ballot, so he had to pay professional signature gatherers. And during that time he wasn’t included in candidate forums, etc. so he lost a lot of public visibility. It was a devastating blow that almost sunk him.

18. Fisher campaign not allowed to use Mass GOP campaign resources. The Mass GOP has set up an expensive and elaborate “MassVictory” operation with offices, phone banks, etc. around the state. All GOP candidates are allowed to use those facilities -– except Fisher. They won’t let his campaign use them. It’s outrageous.

19. Fisher not listed on Mass GOP website. The State Party website currently has names and photos of all the statewide candidates on the ballot – except Fisher. The sheer hatred of Fisher by the party establishment takes them to these absurd lengths.

20. Sleazy GOP State Committee votes to keep tally sheets secret.Even after the court case subsided, the Mass GOP executives had even refused to let the 80-member elected State Committee see the tally sheets! So in July, a group of conservative State Committee members petitioned the Chairman to call a meeting so the Committee could vote to release them. The Chairman called the meeting, but it was closed to the public and held in secret. In the closed meeting, the majority of the State Committee voted not to release the tally sheets to anyone, not even to themselves! (What possible reason would there be to keep them secret . . . unless there was some criminal wrongdoing that took place?)

21. Mass GOP lavishly funding Baker, Fisher gets nothing. The Mass GOP is using its resources to raise enormous funds for the Baker campaign, but nothing for the Fisher campaign. This includes, according to the Boston Globe, paying a consulting firm to fundraise for Baker. In fact, we have been told that Republican donors are being told NOT to donate to the Fisher campaign. This has had a disastrous effect on Fisher’s fundraising capabilities.

22. Alleged threats to media by Mass GOP. A radio talk show host told us that members of the media have been threatened by GOP officials if they cover Mark Fisher to any extent, they will be persona non grata by the rest of the GOP during this election cycle.

By far the most troubling aspect of this was how easily virtually every “pro-family” GOP politician sold his soul and fell into line for Baker and against Fisher when pressured by the establishment.

We don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the Mass GOP has become a dishonest, unprincipled cesspool that good people should stay away from — and only donate money to individual candidates.

And then there’s the Frank Addivinola episode

Mark Fisher wasn’t the only pro-family candidate squashed at the convention. Frank Addivinola, a businessman and college professor, was a U.S. Senate candidate. But like Mark Fisher, he was an unabashed pro-family advocate.

Although his campaign had a booth at the convention, through a still unresolved series of events he was not given a chance to speak.

U.S. Senate Candidate Frank Dddivinola (left) at his table at the Mass. GOP convention.

But Addivinola was VERY popular among conservatives across the state and would have easily gotten his 15%. So the Mass GOP didn’t take any chances. When it came time for the nomination of candidates, the Chairman allowed the establishment candidate, Brian Herr, to be nominated, then immediately closed the nominations! So no one could even nominate Addivinola.

Even though Addivinola’s banner (for which he paid them plenty!) was right next to the podium, they pretended that his candidacy didn’t exist.

It was still possible for Addivinola to get on the ballot via signatures, since he was running for a federal office. But once the Party officially considered him a non-candidate and denied him all support, his campaign never recovered from that. Thus, Herr is now unopposed in the primary.

Tea Party groups & others rallying statewide for Fisher as Sept. 9 primary nears

Fisher’s campaign is making a surge!

None of the above adversities have stopped the Fisher campaign or its supporters statewide. Fisher continues to appear everywhere, every day, and has impressed people wherever he goes. This has only ignited Fisher’s people even more.

In mid-August a group of Tea Parties, conservative leaders, and non-establishment pro-family groups, began a furious grassroots push to energize the GOP conservative base of voters to go to the polls on Sept. 5 and vote for Fisher. Will this become another David Brat over Eric Cantor? No one knows. But the energy is there!

This is the flyer that Tea Parties across the state are handing out. You can download a copy here.

This is a favorable primary race because Democrats and independents will be drawn to the highly contested Democratic primary, and many mainstream Republican voters will likely think Baker is a shoo-in and not bother to go to the polls. Even Jeff Jacoby, the Boston Globe’s (relatively) conservative columnist, who’s a registered Independent, said he’s voting in the Democratic primary — because that’s “where the action is.”

This is a great opportunity for a possble pro-family upset – in a RINO state! If you are a registered voter in Massachusetts, you know what to do on Sept. 9.We’ll see if Massachusetts can do it!

GOP, Are You Ready To Reach Out to Blacks Yet?

Because I am a black conservative, someone wrote asking me this great question.

“What is it that compels some black men and women to cling to, and follow people like Sharpton, Jackson, Wright, Obama, Spike Lee, Black Panthers, Holder, etc.?”

I have pondered the same question. Some black folks embrace victim status because it provides cover for their laziness and irresponsible lifestyles. Black Judases preach a false evil gospel of victimhood-ism for profit. Some blacks are racist, pure and simple.

I believe a majority of black Americans simply have not been exposed to unfiltered Conservatism; blacks articulating how blessed they are to be born in the greatest land of opportunity on the planet.

Ironically, all of the blacks who are given big microphones to tout the horrors of being black in America are wealthy. The MSM and Democratic Party viciously and relentlessly block any and all patriotic black voices from the main stage touting achieving success and wealth the old fashion way via education, hard work and morally right choices. And of course, we know the reason for their attempts to silence such voices is because the MSM and Democratic Party’s mission is not to empower blacks, but further their big government socialist/progressive agenda.

Now that America is burning in the flames of racial tension and polarization, it is crucial that Republicans/Conservatives finally reach-out to black America. I am not suggesting that they offer blacks a Democrat-lite, America sucks and is somewhat racist — so we will lower standards and give you free stuff message. Heaven forbid.

I am talking about taking a pedal-to-the-metal conservative message to black America, boldly articulating its virtues and why it is the best for all Americans; the most direct route to success.

While I have no problem with packaging our message to better connect with diverse audiences, our rock solid conservative principles must remain in tack. Republicans must reject using the Democrats’ insidious tactic of dividing Americans into victimized voting blocs (blacks, women, Hispanics and so on). After convincing various groups of Americans that they are victims, the Dems request their votes to use as protection money to keep their white racist sexist Republican/conservative enemies at bay. It is disgusting and evil.

A young black college student worked on the Tea Party candidate Joe Carr’s U.S. Senate campaign for college credit. The black youth told me that he realized he is conservative. That’s what I am talking about; giving blacks an opportunity to hear our inspiring be-all-you-can-be feel good message. Ronald Reagan’s speeches always made me feel good about myself and my country.

Several years ago, I produced many of the Volusia County Florida Republican Executive Committee annual Lincoln dinners. I was one of two blacks on the committee. I was always thinking of ways to invite and involve more blacks. A few outspoken voices said, “Why bother? They are going to vote for the Democrats no matter what we do.” I have experienced that same defeatist mindset in the national GOP leadership.

Using my background from working in the Creative Services Dept of a major TV station, I designed a campaign to reach out to blacks titled, “Reach Your Dreams”. My campaign included touring the black community; music and conservative minority speakers telling their stories of how they achieved their American dreams. GOP officers consistently shot my idea down. “Why bother?” They thought it would not produce enough votes to make it a wise financial investment. I argued that it was not totally about producing votes. It was the moral and right thing to do.

Well, the GOP’s chickens have come home to roost for allowing the Democrat’s lie that America and Republicans/Conservatives are racists to go unchallenged. Oh my gosh, did I just quote that evil man, Rev Jeremiah Wright?

To spread Christianity, Romans 10:14 says:

“And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

I wish to apply this same wisdom to spreading our gospel of Conservatism. Blacks can not embrace the liberation of Conservatism without hearing about it.

My dad has been a Christian preacher for over 50 years. Little did I know that God was preparing me for such a time as this; appointed to spread the gospel of Conservatism to those suffering, lost and enslaved by Liberalism.

Bottom line, we conservatives must find a way to bring our good news to black Americans. It is the moral and right thing to do for America.

Why doesn’t America want to be sovereign?

There is an urgent need for the U.S. to recover its lost sovereignty, especially in terms of borders and immigration but also in more subtle ways such as freeing ourselves from UN Agenda 21 or Common Core in education. Part of our problem is the distorted idea of what sovereignty really is.

Some think national sovereignty is a possible encroachment on state and personal sovereignty. Some say that sovereignty was a term avoided by the Founders because they were conditioned to think it referred to sovereign kings and queens of Europe. These concerns raise the question of what sovereignty really is, and I hope herein to add a few grains to our understanding. There are several levels of sovereignty, which are, from lower to higher, essentially as follows:

  1. Popular sovereignty,
  2. State sovereignty,
  3. National sovereignty.

The founders did not eschew the notion of sovereignty, as some have worried. In fact, it is central to their founding idea as pointed out here. Nor does national sovereignty imply a loss of state sovereignty. The Tenth Amendment is dedicated to protecting state sovereignty. When I mentioned sovereignty above, I was referring to national sovereignty. National sovereignty is the concept that the national government is not beholden to any other outside country or entity and has the full right to decide its path and destiny.

But in the case of our political class, it is clear that they are following leadership that does not come from We the people. Mind you, it does not necessarily come from the UN or from any particular country. But there are bits and pieces of supranational ,and what could be called ‘foreign’ leadership in Washington.

Recent presidents have all had cabinet members who were members of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) or the Trilateral Commission. According to Carroll Quigley, a liberal professor who taught at Georgetown, wrote in his book “Tragedy and Hope”:

“The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is the American Branch of a society which originated in England… (and) believes national boundaries should be obliterated and one-world rule established. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years, and was permitted in the early 1960’s to examine its papers and secret records…. I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known.”

Richard Haas, as president of the CFR, once wrote that it is time to “rethink” sovereignty. Only a person who does not want countries to be sovereign would think that way. Now you might say, “what’s wrong with that? The CFR is not part of our government, and even if the organization came from England, it is not making the US subservient to England.” All very true.

However, any organization, whether domestic or foreign, that seeks to weaken our national sovereignty, as Quigley describes above, is intentionally undermining the US as a sovereign nation, taking it closer to becoming part of a supranational entity, similar, for example, to the Soviet Union or the EU, whose member states were barred from making independent decisions (the people of EU nations are starting to push back against this authoritarian top-down rule). Yet all presidential cabinets have prominent members from this clearly subversive organization. This does not bode well for our national security or our freedom to shape our own destiny.

There are two aspects of sovereignty that are being undermined routinely by our national government, and they are: borders and immigration. Just as no household can survive for long if the owner leaves the doors wide open 24-7 and hangs a sign on the door “All welcome to enter any time. Help yourselves to furnishings and fridge contents,” no nation can claim sovereignty if it has no control over its borders or invites all and sundry to enter and stay, with or without ID and without any background checks. Spain, under Prime Minister Zapatero, of which Obama seems to be a reasonable facsimile, kept Spain’s borders notoriously wide open, giving rise to a concept dubbed the “call effect”, an unspoken invitation to illegal immigration, a phenomenon that, in our case has birthed the “children’s invasion” from Central America.

I did not mean to give short shrift to state sovereignty. State sovereignty has been unduly undermined, particularly since Lincoln and needs to be restored to its rightful place. For example, state authorities must annul federal laws that encroach on their sovereignty, as in the case of the Bundy ranch.

As for popular sovereignty, it was a concept held in high esteem by our Founders: Sadly, this concept has been so badly distorted in today’s America that there are groups of people who think they are free to drive cars with no plates or drivers licenses, citing the Constitution’s mention of free travel. Others insist that the Constitution gives them the right to buy, sell and take drugs. It also leads some to side with criminals who are shot by police in self-defense. Many “sovereign citizens” openly defy the law, declaring themselves sovereign when confronted by law enforcement. They have gotten the cart before the horse. You don’t acquire freedom simply by declaring yourself to be sovereign. The authorities do not give people special rights based on their ability to quote the Founders. I have known some who wound up behind bars and were forced to find a new hobby.

This warped concept of “sovereignty” has detracted from the overall concept of national sovereignty and is one reason why our national sovereignty has taken a back seat. 

Many fail to apprehend that no one is truly free in a nation that is not sovereign. If people can be deluded into believing that they are each a king or queen, then national sovereignty and winning back our lost national rights to exist are no longer a relevant issue for them. But the reality of the situation is that we are losing jobs and inviting dangerous criminals to our shores in ways that will not be sustainable for too much longer — in ways that will affect even “sovereign citizens.”

So far no national political party has arisen to make this issue of national sovereignty a central part of its platform. Both of the main ones are rushing to open our borders even further, using false mantras and excuses, such as pretending that building a border fence would lead us to become another Soviet Union, with its famous Iron Curtain, or suggesting that because Americans are all descended from foreigners, we should welcome foreigners without background checks or ID. Yet none of these bleeding heart idealists would think of requiring other nations to do likewise.

Americans across the political spectrum would say “we must respect the sovereignty of all nations.”What they mean is, all nations is the U.S.

Fox News – and CNN, ESPN, CBS & NBC – Sponsor and Recruit at Biased ‘Gay Journalists’ Convention

AFTAH exclusive: FOX, CNN, NBC, CBS, ESPN fund conference where mainstream journalists heard highly partisan, pro-”gay” presentations by Peter LaBarbera

CHICAGO–As it has year after year, Fox News Channel served as a major sponsor of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association (NLGJA), providing a $10,000 grant for its 2014 annual convention, which recently concluded here (August 21-24). The conservative-leaning network also recruited at the homosexual journalists event.

Fox signed on as a “Feature Sponsor” for the convention–which included several one-sided presentations in favor of homosexual and transgender activist goals, and zero speakers advocating against LGBT goals such as the legalization of same-sex “marriage.” I attended a day and a half of the three-day conference, which was held at the swank Palmer House Hilton hotel in the downtown Loop. As in the past, NLGJA organizers allowed me (a critic, and not a homosexual journalist) to attend, but only after paying a “non-member” registration fee ($330/day).

Other media and corporate sponsors of the event included: CNN; CBS; ESPN; Comcast-NBC; Bloomberg; Gannett; Coca-Cola (the largest sponsor at $25,000); JetBlue airlines; Eli Lilly & Co.; Toyota; Nissan and the homosexual lobby organization Human Rights Campaign.

A natural bias?

Proud 'Gay' Christianity? Openly homosexual Lutheran (ELCA) Bishop Rev. Dr. Guy Erwin (far left) and former Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson (second from right) pose for photo following their presentation at the NLGJA convention. Robinson, who gained international fame as the first openly homosexual bishop of a major Christian denomination, criticized Christians who do not wish to participate in homosexual "weddings." Robinson said there is something "profane and sacrilegious" about "religious people arguing for the right to discriminate." No opposing orthodox Christian viewpoint was included on the panel.

What I found at the Chicago conference is what I have observed at every other NLGJA convention I have attended in the last two decades: the natural bias that one would expect from an organization whose members view homosexuality personally and mainly through a “civil rights” prism.

The prevailing viewpoint at the conference–surely shared by most secular media professionals these days–is that “gay, lesbian and transgender” journalists are a legitimate sexual (or gender) “minority,” not unlike racial and ethnic minorities, deserving solicitous attention in newsrooms. That would include allowing LGBT journalists to guide coverage on homosexual-bisexual-transgender stories in culture and politics.

Even the NLGJA panel on religion and “gay rights” was bereft of a traditionalist perspective, while the two openly homosexual speakers—former Episcopal Church bishop V. [Vicky] Gene Robinson and new Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA) Bishop Rev. Doctor Guy Erwin—were heralded in the program as leaders of “this next wave of the civil rights movement.”

Both Revs. Robinson and Erwin compared opposition to homosexuality and Christian businessmen’s principled refusal to participate in “gay weddings” to racist bigotry (see below).

Perhaps it is asking too much of “mainstream” journalists who consider homosexuality part of their intrinsic identity (“who they are”) to cover LGBT-related issues impartially. Nevertheless, intellectual diversity and ‘opposing’ viewpoint inclusion—the watchwords of this conference and pro-LGBT advocacy in general—were in short supply at the NLGJA convention. That is a peculiar and glaring deficit for a profession that ideally is supposed to cover “both sides” of controversial issues.

To quote the famous Fox News’ slogan: the NLGJA religious panel was hardly “Fair and Balanced” regarding the controversial question of (pro-) “gay Christianity”: who could argue that openly homosexual bishops advocating for rights based on homosexuality is not a divisive issue?

Note that as opposed to the attendees working in “mainstream” (non-LGBT) media corporations like NPR and CBC, many NLGJA members work in LGBT media, like the Windy City Times for Chicago-area homosexuals–from whom is expected a lower standard of objectivity.

[To read more on the NLGJA’s record of advocacy, FOX News’ financing of the NLGJA and the network’s escalating pro-homosexual coverage, see the PDF of my 2013 in-depth report for America’s Survival, Inc: “Unfair, Unbalanced & Afraid: Fox News’ Growing Pro-Homosexual Bias & the NLGJA.”]

The NLGJA convention also included professional workshops that were unrelated to the homosexual debate—e.g., a panel on the economy and the 2014 election led by even-keeled NPR business editor Marilyn Geewax—and others geared to improving participants’ journalism skills.

NLGJA program lists major sponsors for the conference. Click to enlarge.

As you can see, Fox News was hardly alone as a major media sponsor of the NLGJA and its “Breaking Barriers” convention. The following are media corporate sponsors and their donations to the NLGJA [see the group’s sponsorship levels HERE]:

  • Fox News Channel – $10,000
  • CNN – $10,000
  • ESPN – $10,000
  • CBS News – $5,000
  • Comcast -NBC Universal – $5,000
  • Gannett – $5,000
  • Bloomberg – $5,000
  • Crain Communications Inc. – $5,000
  • Cox Media Group – $2,500
  • The McClatchy Co. – $2,500

The following were the non-media corporate sponsors of the NLGJA convention:

  • Coca-Cola Company – $25,000
  • JetBlue – $20,000 
  • Eli Lilly and Company – $15,000
  • Nissan – $15,000
  • Prudential – $15,000
  • Toyota – $15,000
  • Stolichnaya – $15,000
  • Chevrolet – $10,000
  • Human Rights Campaign (world’s leading homosexual activist organization) – $5,000
  • Astellas – $5,000
  • SAG [Screen Actors Guild] -AFTRA – $5,000

Lastly, the following Journalism schools and foundations were listed as NLGJA sponsors:

  • Knight Foundation – $10,000
  • McCormick Foundation Journalism Program – $5,000

AFTAH will delve more deeply into the NLGJA conference, but the following are some examples of pro-homosexual advocacy and anti-Christian/anti-conservative bias at the event and demonstrated by its presenters:

Religious panel – no attempt at balance:

CNN Kicks in $10,000: Like Fox News Channel, CNN gave $10,000 to the “gay” journalists group. This is an ad in the NLGJA convention program. It reads: “CNN Proudly Supports the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association.” Click to enlarge.

The following is the NLGJA convention brochure’s tendentious, pro-LGBT description of the Saturday panel on religion and “gay rights”:

“The church and other religious groups were an essential organizing force when it came to the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, yet they have not been as helpful when it has come to LGBT civil rights efforts. Now, as LGBT equality has become more accepted by the mainstream, more churches and synagogues are on board. While there are still strong hold-outs when it comes to equality and inclusiveness, more religious groups are helping to shape this next wave of a civil rights movement.”

On the panel, Rev. Robinson, who gained international fame a decade ago as the first openly homosexual bishop of a major Christian denomination (Episcopalians), criticized Christian small businessmen who refuse to participate in homosexual “weddings” on the basis of their religious liberty. He said there is something “profane and sacrilegious” about “religious people arguing for the right to discriminate.”

Robinson compared discrimination based on homosexuality and “gay marriage”–e.g., Christian wedding cake bakers refusing to bake a wedding cake for homosexuals–to past racism: “This is a very slippery slope and we’ve been there before.” He said such religious-based refusals constitute an “overblown understanding of religious liberty” and are an extension of invidious discrimination against black Americans, like saying, “I don’t want to serve you at a lunch counter because you’re African-American.”

Rev. Doctor Guy Erwin, bishop of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, echoed Robinson’s concerns, saying with regard to Christian non-participation in homosexual “weddings”: “I see this as an assault on pluralism.” He said it “goes against the law of Christianity,” as a manifestation of not loving one’s neighbor as commanded by Jesus Christ in Scripture.

What might have been a lively debate between the Christian Left and a more orthodox perspective on religious liberty and the outworking of Christian faith in the culture did not occur, as there was no forceful defender of the latter worldview on the panel. Moreover, none of the assembled journalists pressed Robinson or Erwin on their comments, which took a very dim view of Christian citizens asserting their freedom under the First Amendment not to participate in homosexual “weddings,” based on their belief that homosexual behavior is sinful and that marriage as ordained by God is an institution solely between one man and one woman.

[To read more on the NLGJA’s record of advocacy, FOX News’ financing of the NLGJA and the network’s escalating pro-homosexual coverage, see the PDF of my 2013 in-depth report for America’s Survival, Inc: “Unfair, Unbalanced & Afraid: Fox News’ Growing Pro-Homosexual Bias & the NLGJA.”]

NEXT ARTICLE: More examples of “advocacy” journalism and anti-social-conservative bias at the NLGJA convention.

Witnessing a Failed Presidency

When we elect someone—anyone—to the office of President, it is only natural that we attribute great political skills, intellect, and judgment to that man. We want to believe we have selected someone with the ability to do what must be done in a dangerous and very complex world.

This may explain why Presidents who have presided in times of war are more highly regarded than those that have not. Washington brought the nation into being by patiently pursuing a war with Great Britain, Lincoln saw the Civil War to a successful conclusion, preserving the Union

The last century offered two world wars and several lesser ones, Korea and Vietnam. Voters put Franklin D. Roosevelt in office in 1933 and then kept him there until his death in 1945 just before the conclusion of World War Two. They had no wish to disrupt his conduct of the war with anyone else. It fell to Harry Truman to wrap up World War Two and to pursue the Korean War to repulse communist North Korea’s invasion.

The Vietnam War had its genesis in the JFK years, but it was Lyndon Johnson who committed to it with a massive influx of infantry and massive bombing, neither of which was able to deter the North Vietnamese from uniting the nation. Having lied the nation into the war LBJ concluded at the end of his first term which he had won in a landslide that he should not run again given the vast level of unhappiness with the conflict.

The failure to respond in a strong way to the Iranians who took U.S. diplomats hostage left Jimmy Carter with a single failed term in office. Neither domestically, nor in the area of foreign affairs did he demonstrate strength or much understanding.

After 9/11 George W. Bush used U.S. military strength to send a message to the world in general and al Qaeda in particular. By the end of his second term, a completely unknown young Democrat emerged as the Democratic Party candidate for President by campaigning on a promise to get out of Iraq and offering “hope and change.”

AA - Going from bad to worseBarack Hussein Obama captured the imagination of the voters. He was black and many Americans wanted to demonstrate that an African-American could be elected President. He was relatively young, regarded as eloquent, and seemed to project a cool, self-composed approach throughout his campaign.

The only problem was that he lacked a resume beyond having been a “community organizer.” He had graduated from Harvard Law School, but all of his academic and other public records had been put under seal so they could not be examined. Twice he ran against relatively lackluster, older men who did not possess much charisma, if any.

In his first term, his “stimulus” to lift the economy out of recession was a trillion-dollar failure. By his second term, however, the singular first term “achievement” was the passage of the Affordable Patient Care Act—Obamacare. When finally ready to enroll people it instantly demonstrated technical and policy problems. Obama began to unilaterally make changes to the law even though he lacked the legal power to do so.

The war in Iraq whose conclusion he had ridden to victory in 2008 and 2012 came unraveled and the Syrian civil war in which he had resisted any involvement metastasized into a barbaric Islamic State that seized parts of Iraq and northern Syria.

Halfway through his second term, it was increasingly evident that Obama did not want to fulfill the role of the Presidency to provide leadership in times of foreign and domestic crisis.

On August 28 Gallup reported “Americans are more than twice as likely to say they “strongly disapprove” (39%) of President Barack Obama’s job performance as they are to say they “strongly approve” (17%). The percentage of Americans who strongly disapprove of Obama has increased over time, while the percentage who strongly approve has dropped by almost half.”

His passion for golf became noticeable in ways that went beyond just a bit of vacation time. The time he spent fund raising seemed to be more of a priority than dealing with Congress. Not only did he fail to develop strong political working relations with members of his own party, his churlish talk about the Republican Party began to grate on everyone.

Though no President cares much for the demands of the press, they play an essential role in a democracy. His administration went to extremes to close off access to its members and by striking out at the press in ways that turned it from one that had gone out of its way to support him in the first term to one that actively, if not openly, disliked him in the second.

One characteristic about Obama had become glaringly obvious. He lies all the time. He lies in obvious and casual ways. In politics where one’s word must be one’s bond, this is a lethal personality trait. He dismissed the many scandals of his administration as “phony.”

Given the vast implications of what is occurring in the Middle East, in Ukraine, and elsewhere around the world his response was to interrupt his golf game to give a short speech and then return to the greens. In a recent press conference he said he has “no strategy” to address the threat that ISIS represents.

What Americans have discovered is that they have twice either voted for (or against) someone with fewer skills and even less desire to do the job for which he campaigned. This lazyness combined with his radical liberal politics have finally become obvious even to his former supporters.

His statement that he had no strategy to deal with the threat of the Islamic State and that it was perhaps too soon to expect one to have been formulated has led to the conclusion that he was far less intellectually equipped to be President than many had thought.

Now he must be endured and survived.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image was taken by the AP on May 12, 2014 of President Obama speaking during a press availability in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington.

CLICHES OF PROGRESSIVISM #20 – Government Can Be a Compassionate Alternative to the Harshness of the Marketplace

In every election campaign, we hear the word “compassion” at least a thousand times. One political party supposedly has it, the other one doesn’t. Big government programs are evidence of compassion; cutting back government is a sign of cold-hearted meanness. By their misuse of the term for partisan advantage, partisans and ideologues have thoroughly muddied up the real meaning of the word.

The fact is that some of what is labeled “compassionate” is just that, and it does a world of good; but a whole lot of what is labeled “compassionate” is nothing of the sort, and it does a world of harm. The former tends to be very personal in nature, while the latter puts an involuntary burden on someone else.

As Marvin Olasky pointed out in his 1994 book, The Tragedy of American Compassion, the original definition of compassion as noted in The Oxford English Dictionary is “suffering together with another, participation in suffering.” The emphasis, as the word itself shows—“com,” which means with, and “passion,” from the Latin term “pati,” meaning to suffer—is on personal involvement with the needy, suffering with them, not just giving to them. Noah Webster, in the 1834 edition of his American Dictionary of the English Language, similarly defined compassion as “a suffering with another.”

But the way most people use the term today is a corruption of the original. It has come to mean little more than, as Olasky put it, “the feeling, or emotion, when a person is moved by the suffering or distress of another, and by the desire to relieve it.” There is a world of difference between those two definitions: One demands personal action, the other simply a “feeling” that usually is accompanied by a call for someone else—namely, government—to deal with the problem. One describes a Red Cross volunteer, the other describes the typical Progressive demagogue who gives away little or nothing of his own resources but lots of yours.

The plain fact is that government compassion is not the same as personal and private compassion. When we expect the government to substitute for what we ourselves ought to do, we expect the impossible and we end up with the intolerable. We don’t really solve problems, we just manage them expensively into perpetuity and create a bunch of new ones along the way.

From 1965, the beginning of the so-called War on Poverty, to 1994, total welfare spending in the United States was $5.4 trillion in constant 1993 dollars. In 1965, total government welfare spending was just over 1 percent of gross domestic product, but by 1993 it had risen to 5.1 percent of GDP annually—higher than the record set during the Great Depression. The poverty rate in 1994 was almost exactly where it was in 1965 and now, 20 years later, it’s even higher. It was apparent when “welfare reform” was enacted in 1996 that millions on welfare were living lives of demoralizing dependency; families were rewarded for breaking up; and the number of children born out of wedlock was in the stratosphere—terrible facts brought about, in large part, by “compassionate” government programs.

A person’s willingness to spend government funds on aid programs is not evidence that the person is himself compassionate. Professor William B. Irvine of Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, once explained, “It would be absurd to take a person’s willingness to increase defense spending as evidence that the person is himself brave, or to take a person’s willingness to spend government money on athletic programs as evidence that the person is himself physically fit.” In the same way as it is possible for a “couch potato” to favor government funding of athletic teams, it is possible for a person who lacks compassion to favor various government aid programs; and conversely, it is possible for a compassionate person to oppose these programs.

It is a mistake to use a person’s political beliefs as the litmus test of his compassion. Professor Irvine said that if you want to determine how compassionate an individual is, you are wasting your time if you ask for whom he voted; instead, you should ask what charitable contributions he has made and whether he has done any volunteer work lately. You might also inquire into how he responds to the needs of his relatives, friends, and neighbors.

Many of the political world’s most boisterous welfare statists are also among the most duplicitous and selfish (in the bad sense of the term) hypocrites. While small-government conservatives and libertarians generally give generously from their own pockets, charitable organizations are often lucky to get a little more than token donations from the “progressives” of the world. For a mountain of evidence in that regard, see the 2006 book, Who Really Cares? by Arthur Brooks, then at Syracuse University and now president of the American Enterprise Institute.

It’s worth noting that not even progressives donate to supposedly “compassionate” government agencies a penny more than the law requires them to. There’s nothing illegal about writing out a check to the “Department of Health and Human Services,” but progressives, when they seek to personally help others, tend to write their checks out to private agencies.

True compassion is a bulwark of strong families and communities, of liberty and self-reliance, while the false compassion of the second usage is fraught with great danger and dubious results. True compassion is people helping people out of a genuine sense of caring and brotherhood. It is not asking your legislator or congressman to do it for you. True compassion comes from your heart, not from the state or federal treasury. True compassion is a deeply personal thing, not a check from a distant bureaucracy.

In a television interview in Nassau, Bahamas, in November 2012, I was asked by host Wendall Jones, “Mr. Reed, what about the Good Samaritan in the New Testament? Doesn’t that story show that government should help people?” My reply: “Wendall, what made the Good Samaritan good was the fact that he personally helped the stricken man along the road. If he had simply told the helpless chap to ring up his congressman, no one to this day would have the gall to call him anything but a good-for-nothing.”

“But what about Christianity itself?” Jones then asked me. “Isn’t it in favor of redistribution as a compassionate way to help the poor?” Fortunately, I know a few things about the Bible and Christianity. My reply: “Wendall, the Eighth Commandment says ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ It doesn’t say, ‘Thou shalt not steal unless the other guy has more than you do or unless you’re convinced that you can spend it better or unless you can find a politician to take it on your behalf.’ And even more to the point, a new book on the subject, For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty (link provided below) answers this question in both a detailed and scholarly fashion.

Progressives are often so convinced of their moral superiority that they tend to be very intolerant of a good, opposing argument. Mr. Jones edited out the above exchange before airing the show, but you can see the rest of it here.

The marketplace is often dismissed as a cold, impersonal, and selfish place where compassion takes a back seat to self-interest. But that view ignores some important facts: 1) The marketplace is what produces the wealth that compassion allows you to share or give away; 2) Historically, the freest of societies are the most compassionate in the truest sense of the term; 3) Nothing about being a government employee spending other people’s money makes you more compassionate or effective than the rest of society; 4) Government “compassion” usually gets diverted toward vote-buying and programs that perpetuate the very problems it was supposed to remedy. The news brings daily reminders that there’s no shortage of “harshness” in government—as well as greed, waste, fraud, and inefficiency.

The next time you hear the word “compassion,” probe the person invoking it to find out if he really knows what he’s talking about—or at least to determine if he is compassionate with his own resources.

Lawrence W. Reed
President
Foundation for Economic Education

Summary

  • “Compassion” isn’t simply giving something away, especially if what you’re giving wasn’t yours in the first place.
  • True compassion means getting personally involved.
  • Instinctively, when we want to help others with our own time and resources, we overwhelmingly tend to do so through donations of time and money to private agencies, not to public ones.
  • The marketplace, where self-interest is a powerful motivator for the creation of wealth, is therefore the primary source for whatever wealth anybody has to give away.

For further information, see:

The Politics of Compassion” by William B. Irvine

Presidents and Precedents” by Lawrence W. Reed

For the Least of These: A Biblical Answer to Poverty, edited by Anne Bradley and Art Lindsley

Book Review: The Tragedy of American Compassion by Marvin Olasky” as reviewed by Daniel Bazikian

larry reed new thumbABOUT LAWRENCE W. REED

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s. Prior to becoming FEE’s president, he served for 20 years as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. He also taught economics full-time from 1977 to 1984 at Northwood University in Michigan and chaired its department of economics from 1982 to 1984.

EDITORS NOTE: Earlier versions of this essay have appeared in FEE publications under the title, “What Is Real Compassion?” The featured image is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Is it time for a Free World ‘intifada’ against the Islamic State?

jan sobieski king of poland

King Jan Sobieski of Poland.

As the world remembers the 13th anniversary of the attack on September 11, 2001 perhaps it is time to remember another September 11th. This September 11th occurred three-hundred thirty-one years ago in 1683.

Walter Leitsch in History Today wrote:

[I]n the summer of 1683, the main army of the Ottoman Empire, a large and well-equipped force, besieged Vienna. The town was nearing the end of its ability to resist: but just as the capture of Vienna was becoming only a matter of time – not more than a week away, at most – an army came to its rescue [on September 11th]. On September 12th, in an open battle before Vienna, the Ottoman army was defeated, and the city escaped pillage and destruction. There is probably no book on the general history of Europe that does not record these events.

The Chief Commander of the army that rescued Vienna was the Polish King, Jan Sobieski. He brought with him about 23,000 soldiers, without whom the combined forces of the Emperor and the Imperial princes were not have ventured an open battle. It was only the combination of all three that made victory possible.

Read more.

Perhaps it is now time for another alliance made up of members of the free world to take a stand against the Islamic State. Is it time for an “intifada” (uprising) against those who are spreading violence globally? But who will lead this army?

In 1683 the world was looking for a leader. The major world leaders at the time did not see the danger of the Ottoman Empire. They were so focused on their petty political intrigues and infighting to notice the real threat. Europeans were tired of the fighting that occurred during the Hundred Years’ War, a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453 pitting the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the House of Valois for control of the Kingdom of France.

It was Jan Sobieski, the King of Poland, who stepped up and took on the Ottoman Army. Who is today’s Jan Sobieski?

Leitsch notes:

The battle of Vienna was a turning point in one further respect: the success was due to the co-operation between the troops of the Emperor, some Imperial princes and the Poles. In previous wars against the Ottoman Empire the German princes had frequently sent auxiliary troops; even Italian princes and the Pope had occasionally sent troops and funds. However the co-operation between the two non-maritime neighbours of the Ottoman Empire in Europe, the Emperor and Poland, was something new.

Since the Ottoman Empire had become a menace to the Christian lands in East-Central Europe both countries had repeatedly tried to ensure they received help from the other in case of danger. All their efforts to build up a common defence against the Ottoman Empire remained unsuccessful.

This inability of two states under the same threat to unite was due first of all to the military superiority of the Ottoman Empire. Even the combined forces of the German Habsburgs and the Poles were not necessarily superior to the Ottoman forces. This made any such campaign a risky affair. [Emphasis added]

The free world, the West, must unite once again or ISIS will not stop until it reaches the gates of Vienna.

Michigan Governor affirms Israel’s right to exist at Hamas-linked ISNA convention

Snyder ISNA conference

Governor Rich Snyder (R-MI) at ISNA Conference

Islamic supremacist academic propagandist Hatem “Hate ‘em” Bazian, a professor of “Islamophobia” at (where else?) the University of California Berkeley, has equated the Boston jihad bombings with “Islamophobia” and, several years ago, called for an “intifada” in the U.S. Tonight he is enraged that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has dared to affirm Israel’s right to exist at the convention of the Hamas-linked Muslim Brotherhood group the Islamic Society of North America. He posted this on Facebook. Be sure to call Snyder and tell him, “Bravo!”:

Call Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and express that Palestinians have the right to exist, be free on their land and an immediate end to Israeli Occupation. You lost the Muslim-Arab vote in Michigan!

(517) 373-3400

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder spoke at the opening session of ISNA’s 51st Annual Convention on Friday held in Detroit and made it a point to declare that Israel has the right to exist without making any references to the Palestinians. The statement was completely out of context and seems intended to make a point to his audience as if to each them a lesson considering the recent situation in Gaza.

Being in America, one understands the political leadership taking its marching orders from AIPAC and repeating the same exact words every opportunity they have as if it is part of the US constitution. While the Governor is welcome to his point of view but to come to a Muslim convention and attempt to score points by pushing AIPAC’s agenda is insulting and demonstrate a lack of basic political respect to the community.

What is more glaring is that no one on the stage jumped to make any comments after him to indicate that the implied insult conveyed by the Governor in this speech is not acceptable to the Muslim community and for it to be expressed at this time considering the slaughter campaign unleashed by Israel on Gaza….

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Has the Third Gaza War Between Israel and Hamas Ended?

On Tuesday, August 26, 2014, the thirteenth cease fire in Operation Protective Edge between Israel and Hamas and its terrorist partners in Gaza was declared at 7:00 PM local time. The cease fire had been brokered by Egypt was unconditional and without a set time limit. Despite the onset of this latest cease fire, some rockets continued to be launched from Gaza towards Israel past the time set for cessation of attacks. Subsequently, this latest cease fire has held. It is only temporary and there is no definitive peace agreement in the works. The suspicion is that Israel may have exacted significant punishment on both Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad forces who agreed to a tadiah, a time out, with no hudna, or truce in the offing.

Some quarters in the world media have expressed the opinion that this might be the end of the third war between Israel and Hamas in nearly six years. It has been the longest in the series, 50 days. But it is only a temporary halt and the conflict may be renewed. This conflict was perpetrated by Hamas in June with the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish youths near the West Bank community of Hebron. It was reportedly organized by a senior Hamas military wing operative based in Turkey, Saleh Muhammad Suleiman al-Arouri. He took credit for that on August 20, 2014 at the fourth conference of the World Union of Islamic Sages held in Turkey. Al-Arouri allegedly was speaking on behalf of Hamas leader Khalid Mashal ensconced in luxury in Qatar. Al-Arouri may also have planned what some have called a Mega-9/11 event  that would  have attacked Israel from the West Bank coordinated with suicide Hamas commandos infiltrating Israel’s southern frontier through a network of terror tunnels from Gaza. The IDF and General Security Service, Shin Bet, uncovered arms caches and millions of dollars in the West Bank that could have been used for this attack planned for Rosh Hashanah in late September. That planned attack was evidence of a power play by Hamas seeking to topple Fatah and the PA Leadership in the West Bank, akin to the terror group’s bloody ousting of Fatah in the 2007 takeover in Gaza. PA leader Abbas, sidelined in the current Gaza War, allegedly had heated discussions with Mashal when they met in Qatar in mid-August over the alleged power plot.

This third war between Israel and Hamas firing rocket and mortar barrages on July 6th and retaliatory Israeli air attacks on a command center in southern Gaza. A ground incursion phase by the IDF began following a surprise tunnel attack by Hamas commandos inside Israel  on July 16th. More than 4,500 rockets and missiles have been fired at Israel to date during this third war. Israel’s Iron Dome System has been effective in taking down several hundred rockets headed for populated areas. Those rockets and missiles have covered virtually 80 percent of the Jewish nation including Israel’s populous central and northern areas. Israel’s South has been the most exposed since Hamas and  the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) began rocket launches nearly a decade ago. The rain of terror from the skies has targeted communities and cities like Sderot and Beersheba in the Western Negev and Ashdod and Ashkelon on Israel’s southern border. Many residents of those most exposed communities have left temporarily for safety elsewhere. Upwards of 16,000 rockets and missiles and untold thousands of mortars have been fired over the past decade at Israel from Gaza. The vast preponderance of those has been supplied from Iran supplemented by locally manufactured short and medium range Qassem and M-75 rockets.

One community on the frontier with Gaza, Kibbutz Nahal Oz, has borne the onslaught from Hamas and the PIJ  during all 50 days in this current war. Forty eight hours before this cease fire, a four year boy, Dan Tragerman, who was about to depart with his family for the security of his grandparents’ home near Tel Aviv, was mortally wounded with shrapnel in a mortar attack. Israel has no defense against indiscriminate mortar fire. He was the first Israeli child to die in the current war. 70 Israeli deaths have occurred in this third war with Hamas, 66 IDF service personnel and four civilians including young Dan Tragerman. Casualties in Gaza according to unconfirmed reports of the Health Ministry there were 2,100 killed, half of whom Israel maintains were Hamas and PIJ fighters.

Israel scored several hits via air strikes on four senior military wing commanders of Hamas, the CFO for the terror group and may have taken out the elusive overall military wing commander, Mohammed Deir. Hamas reacted by publicly executing 18 Gazans who they contended were Israeli collaborators. Those attacks and Hamas’ public executions of civilians may have demonstrated Israeli intelligence prowess in the conflict and its network of local assets in Gaza. Those assets have also assisted in targeting command centers that have been flattened by precision air attacks.

During the ground incursion in a section of northern Gaza City, the IDF uncovered a Hamas combat manual that revealed a conscious policy of using women, children and civilians as human shields by launching rockets and mortars from homes, hospitals, apartment complexes and schools used as refuge centers. The mortar attack that took the life of young Dan Tragerman came from a position near a school in Gaza, one of the refuge centers for displaced Gazans.

One of the unpleasant surprises for Israel was the more than 35 tunnels crossing the frontier from Gaza into adjacent communities inside Israel. Those tunnels had been built using funds diverted from the hundreds of millions of dollars supplied by Qatar for reconstruction following the eight days Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012. Qatar may also have supplied sophisticated cyber warfare technology for remote launching of rockets and booby traps in these terror tunnels. In 2006, Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit was kidnapped and held captive by terrorists who abducted him through one of the tunnels. For whatever reason, the military bureaucracy in Tzahal had stymied development of a system to detect tunnel excavation, an effort begun as early as 2004. A successfully tested system may be deployed by the IDF in 2015, too late for this current conflict. Those dozens of tunnels destroyed by the IDF in Operation Protective Edge are only one aspect of the struggle. The other is the several hundred tunnels between Gaza and the Egyptian Sinai through which weapons and cash could be transferred to Hamas and the PIJ.  Egypt under President al-Sisi has successfully destroyed over 1,300 tunnels on the Rafah frontier with Gaza. Those Gaza tunnels have been excavated at great human cost. Reports surfaced during this campaign of over 160 children and dozens of adults killed in the terror tunnel projects. Projects allegedly designed with assistance from Hezbolleh based on North Korean tunnel excavation expertise.

An ominous new terrorist group has emerged in Gaza, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS that has conquered vast swaths of both Syria and Iraq. The black flags of Islam flown by the Islamic State have been seen at funerals and on other occasions in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Against this background, another in the periodic 1330amWEBY Middle East Round Table discussions was convened.

Mike Bates

Mike Bates:  Good afternoon and welcome to Your Turn. This is Mike Bates. We are having our periodic Middle East round table discussion and I have with me in the studio Jerry Gordon, Senior Editor of the New English Review and its blog the Iconoclast. Welcome Jerry.

Jerry Gordon

 Jerry Gordon:   Glad to be back.

 Bates:  Also we have Rabbi Eric Tokajer. He is the Rabbi at Brit Ahm Messianic Synagogue in Pensacola.  Joining us by telephone from Jerusalem is Dan Diker, former Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress. He is currently a research fellow with the International Institute for Counter-terrorism and Foreign Policy and he is a Foreign Policy Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Dan Diker, welcome to Your Turn.

Daniel Diker

Daniel Diker:  Good to be with you

Bates:  Thank you for joining us. We will begin with what is hopefully good news,  a cease fire was announced at roughly 7:00 p.m. Jerusalem time or noon Central time. Dan Diker, what is the cause of that and has it held so far?

Diker:  First of all it has held. I am not exactly sure that it’s good news. It’s certainly news that can be called in two words a time out. There is a tendency in the West to look at cease fires of any kind as a stepping stone towards a peace agreement. This is very different from what a Middle Eastern Muslim/Arab understanding is of a cease fire. This is really in Arab/Muslim terms a tahdia, calming down. This is not a hudna, truce. This is not a long term detailed cease fire that would be closer to a Western understanding. Israel has accepted it because there are no conditions attached that would have forced Israel under different circumstances to accept impossible demands by Hamas. It affords Israel the opportunity to watch Hamas from the air, sea and ground and to see how it behaves. To see if there are any terrorist troop movements in the Gaza strip. It essentially allows the Israeli Army to see what is happening on the ground from moment to moment without conceding anything substantial.

Bates:  How did this cease fire come about? Who brokered it?

Diker:  The cease fire was brokered by Egypt and it was unexpected by many in Israel especially those in the South. They have suffered the most as many know in the United States. A beautiful four year old child, Daniel Tragerman was killed just forty-eight hours ago and then a person was killed today, just minutes before the cease fire went into effect. Many people in the South have fled to Central and Northern Israel to relatives and friends effectively creating a situation which Hamas is publicly celebrating. They call Jewish Israelis who move refugees inside the State of Israel. This is  first time that you have had this massive movement away from one particular area of Israel in order to recover from ongoing fire. However, all in all it is a neutral cease fire. Perhaps it joins one of the other twelve cease fires that have come and gone over the last fifty days. I would definitely not hold my breath; my assessment is that this will probably be broken by Hamas. I would not be surprised to see it broken in the coming days perhaps a week, or two. It gives Hamas a much needed chance to lick its wounds, to recover and get ready for the next round of assault against Israel.

Gordon:  Dan, there is a strange story out of Israel that the demand for this cease fire came from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. How did that occur and contrast that with the demands typically that Hamas has been making.

Diker:  Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) fighters have been hit really badly in this latest round. We don’t know exactly the number of PIJ fighters versus Hamas fighters that were killed. We do know that upwards of twelve hundred terrorists have been eliminated in this latest round but we understand  through reports coming from Gaza that Islamic Jihad officials were placing a lot of pressure on their Hamas compatriots to accept this cease fire. The Israeli Army stepped up its policy of decapitating, not in the Islamic State sense, but decapitating in terms of eliminating Hamas command structure from mid to senior-levels. The IDF started collapsing buildings making sure that first of all that there were no people inside. However,  fifteen and sixteen story buildings that housed command structures were also the homes a lot of Hamas officials.  The terrorist leadership felt that enough was enough for this round and they wanted a chance to pull themselves together.

Tokajer

Tokajer:  Is this part of an infighting that has been going on between the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad? How does that fit in with Abbas’ new movement to force a vote at the UN on allowing an Islamic Palestinian state in the West Bank?

Diker:  Two things. First of all Islamic Jihad is an extension of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps which  is under the direct command of Khamenei. Hamas is not under the direct command of Khamenei and the Iranians at this point. There was a falling out between the Hamas leadership and their Iranian benefactors and sponsors two and a half years ago when Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood fell on the wrong side of the conflict in Syria. The Iranian backed Syrian government expelled Hamas and the Hamas leaders looked for a different home. They are now housed by the Qataris. Yet there is a new courting relationship going on between Hamas and Iran. This is sort of an important test for the Hamas leadership in order to re-engage their former benefactors. Having said that, the Islamic Jihad and Hamas have cooperated, however they have also killed each other. This is not unsurprising in the Middle East. Many people believe that the Sunni Jihadist organizations cooperate with, but usually hate their Shiite adversaries which are not necessarily true all of the time. They cooperate and they kill one another when it is convenient for them to do that. However, these two groups have mostly cooperated in their coordinated assaults against Israel. I would not  be surprised if Iran also played a strong role in asking their proxies to agree to a temporary halt in the fighting. This is a temporary halt in the fighting. This is not a long term arrangement.

Oh I’m sorry I didn’t answer Eric’s other question regarding Mahmoud Abbas and his threat to take Israel to the International Criminal Court. That move is merely a result of Mahmoud Abbas, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, feeling irrelevant over the last fifty days. Hamas has taken center stage. Part of this war is really behind the black curtain or hijab. It is a darker war between Fatah and  Hamas for control, influence, power and support of the Palestinian people. They work it out by attacking Israel. This is exactly the reason why Mahmoud Abbas actually fell into the arms of Hamas in the very beginning of the current war in order to vie for power and support of the Palestinian people. He felt in the last two months completely irrelevant and powerless. The West has re-empowered Mahmoud Abbas by wanting to dance him into Gaza and to become the new white knight there once the Hamas forces are demilitarized which is the demand that’s being made by Israel. He’s taken that to the next  level; and said if you guys are going to back me anyway I’m going to threaten Israel and try to force them to withdraw to the 1967 line by  going to the International Criminal Court. The Palestinian Authority did the exact same thing in the 2008/2009 Cast Lead Operation. They petitioned the International Criminal Court and  brought Israel up on war crimes charges that triggered the Goldstone Report. This is not a new strategy by the Palestinian Authority. However it will fail and it will help them commit suicide in their quest for a Palestinian State. The Israeli public will completely reject that and move further away from the Palestinian Authority as any kind of honest and real partner for peace.

Bates:  You brought up the Goldstone Report, not all of our listeners are going to be familiar with that. If you could  review what it is and why Goldstone himself ultimately renounced it?

Diker:  The Goldstone Report was a grotesquely inaccurate UN sponsored report that was led by South African Judge Richard Goldstone. He made extraordinarily twisted and inaccurate charges against Israel.  He charged the Israeli Army with malice of forethought targeting in a premeditated way Palestinian civilians which he himself retracted a year later in either a Washington Post or New York Times Op/ed in which he wrote that he was incorrect. He had the wrong information and these were claims that Israel was making all along. However, the damage to Israel’s image, good name and reputation as a liberal, democratic free country defending itself against radical Islamic terror had already been done. We have seen that the role of the Western media has been particularly injurious to Israel by its largely non-objective reporting. That is due to fear of either being killed or expelled by their Hamas host for reporting what they knew was Hamas’ use of children, women and civilians as human shields. Planting weapon factories and weapon depots very near to where the international media themselves were staying in Gaza.

Bates:  The accusations are always on page one and the retractions and corrections are always on page 26 if they appear at all.

Diker:  Well said.

Gordon:  You mentioned cutting off the snakehead of leadership in Hamas. We had the spectacular series of air assaults by the IAF resulting in the killing of significant military commanders and potentially the head of the military wing itself, Mohammed Deif. Can you connect the dots between those events and what occurred prior to the cease fire, public executions of Palestinians or Gazans as so-called collaborators?

Diker:  The summary execution of eighteen most probably completely innocent Palestinian civilians over the weekend really strengthens the charge that Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas, referring to the Islamic State network, was the result of complete desperation in the Hamas leadership. They were absolutely shocked that Israel had completely penetrated their command structure and done it with local informants. Israel has excellent intelligence networks inside Gaza and they had conducted pinpoint operations, many of which were not covered by the press. Israel  took out not only leadership but lots of weapons storage and manufacturing depots hitting the homes of Hamas officials and the military structure. They were really freaked out, to use the colloquial expression, that Israel had been able to take out their top three or four commanders and they had to make someone responsible for it. They didn’t know quite how to handle it otherwise and they wanted to send a very strong message to Gaza and to other Jihadis with whom they are competing. Let’s remember, they are competing with ISIS for the reality show of who can be the best Jihadi organization in the Middle East. Thus there was a cognitive reason and PR reason to do that. They were just plain desperate.

Bates:  Dan you speak of the Israeli intelligence network in Gaza that has been phenomenal and yet Israel seemed genuinely surprised at the extent of the tunnels coming out of Gaza leading into Israel. Was that genuine surprise?

Diker:  That’s a very good question Mike. It’s a very difficult issue for the Israelis. I think one of the better ways to approach the whole surprise over the attack tunnel issue is from an Israeli point of view. Their point of reference was tunnels into Gaza coming from the Egyptian Sinai. Those were the tunnels built over the last fourteen or fifteen years. Their building intensified after the 2005 unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. Those were the scores of tunnels that supplied the underground economy that was Hamas driven and mostly controlled with some cooperation of Salafist groups in the Egyptian Sinai. Perhaps there were a hundred tunnels from Sinai into Gaza. What happened since the Egyptian government changed through a coup by President al-Sisi was that he shut down those tunnels. Israel had still not paid enough attention to a whole new tunnel network that was being created as attack tunnels.

Even though Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier kidnapped in 2006 and held captive for five years in Gaza, was kidnapped and dragged through one of those new types of attack tunnels. Hamas created a major network of these attack tunnels. So yes there was surprise to the extent  these tunnels were actually death tunnels, attack tunnels. Some were million dollar tunnels that you could move cars through. These tunnels also provided, much to the surprise of some in the Israeli Security and Defense Establishment, the whole underground city to protect Hamas operatives, senior members and their families. So yes, there is a real serious question as to why Israel did not know the full extent of this massive network. Hamas leadership intended to send hundreds of Hamas operatives through these tunnels simultaneously next month in order to launch a  mega-9/11 attack against Israeli cities.

Tokajer:  Could you comment upon the drop in support that Bibi Netanyahu is receiving now? I saw polls that said he went from over 80% favorable to down to about 33% favorable currently as a result of these constant cease fires. The Israeli public actually wanted him to send the military in force into Gaza to stop these attacks.

Diker:  That is correct. It is ironic, because it is precisely Netanyahu’s strategy of staged attacks against Hamas using Hamas’ breaking of the cease fire to create additional legitimacy abroad and support at home for the Israeli army to take the next military step. That has backfired on his local support. There has been a very large amount of support from the Israeli public for the Israeli Army to go into Gaza in a full-fledged multi-divisional ground assault against Hamas. They wanted the IDF to get rid of all of Hamas’ weapons and demilitarize Gaza. Netanyahu chose not to do that, ironically in order to maintain more legitimacy. He felt that the perceived price as discussed by the media in Israel, was pending large IDF Israeli casualties from a massive ground operation. He thought that would please the Israeli public to keep things done from the air. I will say this. It was noted in Israel that he did not launch a ground operation even though it did reflect in lower public support numbers ended up forcing Hamas into an unconditional cease fire without sending in ground forces. The jury is still out as to whether that decision was right or wrong. However, there was a big outcry by many in the public, especially in the South that wanted to finish this problem. They have been dealing with this for years in the South. They have been getting hit by Hamas rockets and mortars for fourteen years and they said enough is enough. No country in the world would put up with it and Israel shouldn’t put up with it either. Therefore, they wanted the government to finish the job even if it took another three, four or five months and that didn’t happen. The public wants certainty. Number two, the public feels uncertain as to what the government strategy is. The example of that is this unconditional cease fire that nobody really understands what it means. My assessment of this, it is  just a calming down. It’s a seventh inning stretch. It’s just a momentary cease fire before Hamas starts firing again.

Gordon:  There was a heated discussion in Qatar last week between PA President Abbas and Hamas leader Khalid Mashal who lives there  in luxury. What was that all about and what is the connection to this current war?

Diker:  Behind this current war has been the well known enmity between Fatah and Hamas. It was recently reported that the Israeli Security Services uncovered a plot by Hamas to launch mass casualty attacks from the West Bank and at the same time engineer a coup against, Fatah for control in the West Bank and take over the PLO. The Hamas/Fatah competition for control of the PLO has been the Arab/Palestinian narrative that has governed these very bloody relationships between Fatah and Hamas. The Israeli Security Service in searching for the kidnapped and ultimately murdered Israeli teens used the help of the PA, against Hamas. Hamas has positioned Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah as essentially stooges of the Israelis and the United States. Hamas sees itself as the true inheritors of the PLO throne. Further, they have been taking violent actions in order to topple Fatah. We saw an example of that in 2007 in Gaza when Hamas took over. Remember Fatah used to control Gaza until 2007 so this has been a bloody war. The attempts in Qatar were to try to broker the existing shell of unity between these two unfriendly factions. They cooperate on Monday, kill each other on Tuesday and cooperate on Wednesday. That’s exactly what Fatah and Hamas have been doing to one another.

Bates:  Has the funding of Hamas continued out of Turkey and Qatar? Why hasn’t Washington been doing more to put pressure on those two nations to reduce or preferably cease funding of the Hamas terrorists?

Diker:  That is a really complex question Mike. There was a real brouhaha in Israel when the Obama administration through the auspices of Secretary of State Kerry proposed and backed Turkey and Qatar as the two potential brokers for a long term peace agreement for a cease fire. You remember they gathered in Paris just a few weeks ago and there was real displeasure in Israeli government circles over that as opposed to the Israeli full-fledged support for the Egyptians as much more favorable brokers. It’s a matter of public record that President Obama has pursued a strategy of engaging political Islam which translated into support for the Muslim Brotherhood. He supported President Morsi in Egypt. He was not exactly thrilled with the actions of President al-Sisi when he overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt. President Obama has made Turkey a key partner. Turkey is a Muslim Brotherhood supporter as is Qatar. While he has come out in favor of Israel’s right to defend itself the American administration has never come out in this current war and said Hamas is a terror organization. It really raises questions. At the same time, one does have to say publicly the United States continues to be Israel’s major ally in defense, intelligence and in other matters. However, there are real questions that have gone unanswered as to why Israel and the United States are not completely on the same page. Both countries are facing radical Islamic terror on their borders. I remind Americans that Hezbollah at the behest, funding and backing of Iran is sitting in Mexico today working with Mexican drug cartel groups close to America’s Southern border.

Tokajer:  How do the Israelis view the United States and the rest of the world the situation from their perspective? They seem to only identify the conflict going on in Israel. For instances, we have the Egyptians, the United Arab Emirates that are involved in Libya now. We have ISIS all over Syria and Iraq. We have these Islamic battles going on with hundreds of thousands being killed. Contrast that with hundreds and low thousands being killed in the Israel conflict with Hamas in Gaza.

Diker:  The Israeli body politic feels very much alone at this juncture. There is a strong feeling here in Israel that the American people and Congress embrace the Israeli people. There is, to be a little bit cynical about it, probably more support for Israel in the American Congress than there is in the Knesset if you take all of the parties together. That’s just an attempt at humor, to express an idea that’s very profound in Israel. They really do feel embraced by the American people. But on the world stage there is a completely disproportionate view of the world towards Israel versus the Palestinians than the much larger problem of radical Islamic terror in the world. No one can quite understand why people in the West refuse to understand that Hamas, the Islamic State formerly ISIS, Al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Iran are all the same in terms of their ultimate goals. That is to kill Americans, kill Israelis, kill Christians, kill Jews, and kill anybody that is not a Muslim in their image. We do not understand why people are not making the connection to radical Islamic terror and have isolated the Palestinian/ Israeli Conflict as if it were some other sort of conflict other than the Jihad in Gaza. It is the same Jihad that attacked the United States on September 11th and twenty-nine times after that trying to penetrate the borders of the United States.

Tokajer:  How do the Israeli people view the world accusing them of disproportional use of weaponry against Hamas? Yet the United States may have used much more weaponry in just a short time against ISIS than Israel has used in Gaza during this whole fifty day period.

Diker:  I’m  unclear as to what is the charge of disproportional force. As former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “If a murderer comes into your house do you call one police officer or do you call the entire police force to come and save you?” That’s what, the understanding here is of disproportional force. The disproportional force is that which is used to maintain security and protect the civilian population of any country. People, either with malice of forethought or people who are just ignorant, do not understand it has nothing to do with international law, the use of massive force in order to turn back or kill terrorists. If we were to use the common understanding of proportional force, that would mean that Israel would be entitled to send over three thousand rockets indiscriminately into Gaza because that’s what they send in to Israel. Would that be proportional?

Bates:  Of course they are blaming it on the death toll but what is ridiculous about that as I have argued many times on this program with callers who somehow think Israel is the bad player here. Even though I think anywhere on the world stage in the modern era if there is a clear good player and a clear bad player it is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and Israel is clearly the good guy. The example that I always cited is if you are in a military firefight and your enemy is poorly armed and poorly trained  they’re just firing at you indiscriminately. If  your forces are all expert marksmen are you not allowed to take out one of them until they luck out and take out one of you? I mean that’s absurd and Israel is using precision munitions. Gazans are just firing indiscriminately hoping to kill civilians in Israel. Rabbi Eric before we began this program you were telling me that Hamas is actually saying that they want precision munitions. What’s that about?

Tokajer:  Right, the leader of the Hamas in Gaza came out and said they do not purposely fire at civilians in Israel. They just have unguided munitions and if the world will provide them with guided munitions then they will only fire at military installations. It’s not their fault that they don’t have the equal equipment to not kill civilians.

Diker:  Right. Exactly. That is their use of psychological warfare on the part of Hamas. One should applaud their …

Tokajer:  Creativity?

Diker:  … upgrade in use of psychological warfare. That’s exactly why they attempted to target our nuclear facilities, our airport, all of our sensitive installations with the weapons that they already had. If they had precision weapons they would be killing children not indiscriminately but very discriminately as their Charter calls for. We have to be very firm in terms of our moral clarity as to whom we are dealing with. We are dealing with an evil, radical Islamic, genocidal, terrorist organization that is dedicated to murdering Jews, Christians, people from the West. That’s what they say, that’s what they do. So all of this other stuff is pure nonsense and should be ignored.

Bates:  While I support Israel completely I must confess that I often don’t understand why they are playing so nicely. If I was in charge it would be a lot more like Dresden than Gaza. Let me just point out that Israel, throughout this entire conflict has been providing humanitarian aid into Gaza. Just last week, on the 21st and 22nd of August, there were periods when Israel was bringing into Gaza 232 trucks full of food, medicine and supplies, 262 tons of gas and one hundred seventy-two thousand, two hundred sixty-five gallons of gasoline and in exchange Hamas fired 83 rockets back “during” the crossings! What country in the history of warfare has provided assistance to the people that are attacking them? I can’t think of anyone but Israel.

Diker:  Your memory is correct and in fact, it’s worse than that. It has not been reported in the West, but is clearly well known in Israel, that Hamas systematically refuses international humanitarian delegations to come  to Gaza. They have systematically refused to allow injured Palestinian civilians to come to a field hospital that was set up by the State of Israel. This installation on the border outside of Gaza where Israel was prepared with a full contingent of surgeons, nurses, orderlies, specialists to receive Gazans that Hamas had used as human shields and had been injured inadvertently in Israeli strikes against Hamas. Israel was prepared to take care of them by the hundreds. Hamas refused to allow civilians to cross the border into Israeli territory to be given medical care.

Gordon:  There is also a blood libel going on. We see it on posters in the US and elsewhere saying that Israel murders Palestinian children. Rabbi Tokajer, you had something on that that we were just discussing?

Tokajer:  Time Magazine is coming out with a news article which proclaims as blood libel that Israelis are harvesting organs from the Palestinians to make a profit off them. Blood libel goes way back to the 1400’s with the Spanish Inquisition, the claim of Jews making matzo out of blood of babies and such but this is a constant thing that comes up. Dan, can you talk about that?

Diker:  Frankly what was been uncovered were propaganda sheets that Hamas used  to re-energize the 15th century blood libel that Jews use blood of, they didn’t even say blood of Christians in this case, but they said blood of Muslims in order to make Matzos on Passover. Hamas in a very sophisticated way, working even in the United States through Muslim Brotherhood backed organizations and in Europe, promoted these blood libels against Israel. These libels have been transformed into what many Americans understand as BDS, Boycotts, Divestitures and Sanctions. The BDS movement is an extension of a terrorist strategy. That is not a grassroots punitive initiative by well meaning people in order to create two states for two peoples solution as many in the United States think it is. It is not that at all. It is war by other means. It is political warfare in order to cause the dissolution of Israel through its criminalization and isolation in the international community. Back of it are these blood libels advanced by Hamas the way the Nazis and Soviets did. As you pointed out Rabbi, the Spanish did that in the Inquisition. It’s just a continuation of the same blood libel.

Bates:  I’ve got a question about the Islamic state ISIS, ISILL, whatever name they happen to be going by today. They just beheaded an American journalist, James Foley, and they are threatening to kill more. It is very clear that they pose a threat to the region. Is Israel concerned about their border integrity vis-a-vis ISIS or the Islamic State?

Diker:  Let’s be clear about what the Islamic State is. The Islamic State is a terrorist network very well   funded in Syria and Iraq. Now they are finding their footing, a little more difficult in Southern Lebanon because that is controlled by the Hezbollah an enemy of ISIS. However, they are in Gaza and operatives have been found in the West Bank. From an Israeli point of view a terrorist is a terrorist is a terrorist. If it’s Hamas that targets children or executes innocent Palestinians by shooting them as opposed to beheading them or crucifying them as ISIS does, Israel looks at it as all the same. Hamas itself is no less cruel and evil than ISIS. We are surrounded by Hezbollah in Lebanon, ISIS in Syria and in Gaza. Israelis are surrounded by radical Islamic terrorist threat on all sides. ISIS plays a role in it. There is no additional challenge to Israel’s border integrity by them than by anyone else. Hamas is clearly in control in Gaza as Hezbollah is in Southern Lebanon. Those are, the central addresses that Israel looks for when defending their territory.

Bates:  I thank Ha Shem that Israel has the Golan Heights because without holding the high ground there it would pose a much greater threat coming out of Syria into Tiberias and along the sea of Galilee.

Diker:  Very true.

Bates:  The Iron Dome has been very successful intercepting the rockets that have been fired out of Gaza. Now Hamas is firing mortars and Iron Dome is not designed to intercept mortars. How big of a threat are these mortar attacks?

Diker:  Mortar attacks are a threat. They claimed the life of that young child, Daniel Tragerman, just the other day and claimed the life of an Israeli today as well. There are only three seconds in between the firing of a mortar and the alert for a person to zip into a protected area. There is virtually no trajectory on mortars.  It’s very low.  It is a dangerous nuisance and one that affects the Southern most communities abutting the Gaza border. The majority of projectiles fired have been these short and medium range rockets. Even with medium range rockets there are only between twenty and sixty seconds to get into a protected area. Iron Dome doesn’t protect against mortars and they have been part of the difficulty. They are considered no less dangerous in terms of  an overall threat to Israel. This is no tolerance policy for mortars or rockets. There is a no tolerance policy for any of it.

Bates:  Dan, thanks much. We’ve been speaking with Jerry Gordon, Rabbi Eric Tokajer and Dan Diker on this international round table discussion here on 1330 WEBY.

Listen to this August 26, 2014 audio from the WEBY AM 1330 “International Middle East Round Table Discussion”: Segment 1Segment 2Segment 3 and Segment 4.

EDITORS NOTE: This Middle East round table discussion with Dan Diker, Mike Bates, Eric Tokajer and Jerry Gordon originally appeared on the New English Review.