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

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

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

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

What follows is the interview with Dr. Gorka:

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

Dr. Sebastian Gorka: Thank you for having me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Arizona joins Florida in passing groundbreaking pro-Israel legislation

On March 18th, he Arizona state legislature passed anti-BDS legislation, HB 2617, developed by the Israel Allies Foundation. Arizona makes it four states that have adopted this groundbreaking anti-BDS directed at barring state agencies from  investing  in companies that boycott Israel. That is not lost on listeners to the Lisa Benson Show on KKNT 960 The Patriot in Phoenix. We heard about the launch of that effort from South Carolina State Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Myrtle Beach) on a December 6, 2015 broadcast when he was in town to meet with members of the Arizona state legislature.  South Carolina led the way with the enactment of the Palmetto State’s version in June 2015. We have also had as frequent a guest on the eponymous weekly national security show, the head of the bi-partisan Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, Arizona U.S. Representative Trent Franks.

We posted on Florida Governor Rock Scott signing the anti-BDS statute into law on March 10th that in January and February, 2016 passed both the Senate and House in Tallahassee resoundingly. This past Tuesday, this writer and Northwest Florida ‘Your Turn” talk show host  Mike Bates on 1330 am WEBY Pensacola  interviewed Florida State Representative Mike Hill (R-District  2) on his co-sponsorship of this landmark anti-BDS legislation and sponsorship of ‘Andy’s law ‘ this session in Tallahassee. Listen to the interview.

The Israel Allies Foundation press release on the latest Arizona anti-BDS victory cited someone we regard as a valued friend of Israel and pushback against intrusive foreign laws, Joseph Sabag, Esq. Sabag is deputy director of the IAF. We worked closely with Sabag, Esq, Esq in the period 2012 to 2014 in the citizen lobbying effort,  with partner  Tony Verdugo and his team from the Florida Christian Family Coalition, to pass bi-partisan legislative resolutions in support of Israel and the Florida version of American Laws  for American Courts (ALAC) in 2014.

Sabag of IAF extolled this latest victory in the national fight against BDS:

We applaud the State of Arizona for HB-2617 the law. Arizona’s new anti-discrimination/boycott law is good as a matter of economic policy, public policy and foreign policy. We salute Speaker David Gowan and Arizona’s legislature for their leadership and public service. The low financial thresholds in this statute make it the most effective and far-reaching law yet passed in confronting the BDS problem,” said Joseph M. Sabag, Deputy Director of the Israel Allies Foundation.

Lead sponsor of the bill, Arizona House Speaker David Gowan, praised the Israel Allies Foundation for their role:

Arizona stands with Israel. Period. HB 2617 makes clear that our state will not invest in or contract with parties that harm our state’s economic interests and undermine our protections from discrimination. The hatred of the BDS Movement will receive nothing other than condemnation from the State of Arizona and its citizens I wish to especially thank the professionals at the Israel Allies Foundation, without whose policy support and educational resourcing our state could not have succeeded in defending such vital interests. I also wish to commend the terrific public support delivered from the pro-Israel community, and particularly the advocates at Stand With Us.

Stalwarts among Arizona’s Congressional Delegation supporting Israel offered their praise of the anti-BDS legislation:

Congressman Trent Franks, Congressional Israel Allies Caucus Chairman:

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movements (BDS) is a burgeoning campaign, shamefully aimed at disrupting the economic and financial stability of the State of Israel, including by causing direct harm to the economic interests of persons or American companies trading with Israel or conducting business in and with the State of Israel. As part of our efforts to combat this unusual and extraordinary threat, I stand in strong support with the State of Arizona’s Legislature in passing HB 2617, which promotes and strengthens Arizonians’ economic interests, while ensuring the state government does not financially support commercial efforts to boycott, divest or sanction the State of Israel.

Congresswoman Martha McNally (R-AZ 2nd), co-introducer of legislation, “The Fair Treatment of Israel in Product Labeling Act” on February 12, 2016 to protect against political boycotts of Israel:

I’m proud to see Arizona leading in the fight against Israeli discrimination. It’s never been more important that we stand with our ally against politically charged boycotts, which is why I’ve introduced legislation in Congress to prevent the discrimination of Israeli-produced goods. I’ll continue to stand with Israel and commend Arizona for doing the same.

Congressman Matt Salmon (R-AZ 5th), Congressional Israel Allies Caucus member:

The Boycott, Divest, and Sanction movement is just a new face on old anti-Semitism.  As ultra-liberal extremists have repeatedly tried to bully non-profits, schools, and municipal governments into supporting this cause, this legislation could not be more welcome.  I’m proud to hear it passed here in Arizona, and I’m looking forward to the governor taking quick action.

Let’s see how many other states adopt this groundbreaking anti-BDS legislation regarding scrutinized companies preventing state pension funds from investing in companies that boycott Israel.

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

Pentagon “smoking gun” email implicates Hillary Clinton

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

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

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

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

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

Ken Timmerman, veteran investigative journalist  discusses the background in a Daily Caller op-ed published  today, “Benghazi “smoking gun” email unmasks Hillary Clinton”.  Chris Farrell of JW will be speaking at the Tiger Bay Club in Pensacola, Florida on Friday, December 11, 2015. Doubtless we and others in attendance will ask questions about the Pentagon and other Clinton private server classified emails.

The House Special Benghazi Committee under Chairman, Trey Gowdy (R-SC) has acquired the alleged  “smoking gun” email  prior to Mrs. Clinton’s October 22, 2015 testimony, but was missing key evidence they needed to be able to question her effectively about it. Since the Committee member Rep. Lynn Westmoreland went to Africom headquarters in early December to interview top officials and line officials, hopefully they now have that evidence. The Pentagon email raises questions that need answers, if the American public is to assess the integrity and truthfulness of both Ms. Clinton and former Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta.

Watch this FoxNews Special Report segment on the Pentagon email obtained by JW.

Over the period July through October 2014, we ran a multiple part series called “Death in Benghazi” in the New English Review.  Northwest Florida Talk Radio station, 1330amWEBY  conducted two major interviews with Ken Timmerman, author of Dark Forces: The Truth about What Happened in Benghazi. In “Death in Benghazi: Part 1 The Attack,” NER July 2014 , we asked about whether resources could have been deployed in time to spare Ambassador Stevens and communications aide, Stan Smith and  possibly prevent the mortar attack at the CIA annex on the morning of September 12, 2012 that took the lives of Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

Here is Timmerman’s assessment of why the Pentagon email released by JW is significant.

Benghazi “smoking gun” email unmasks Hillary Clinton

By Kenneth R. Timmerman

It shows Mrs. Clinton gave the “stand-down” order

Touted by FoxNews as a “possible smoking gun,” the email from Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s chief of staff shows that special operations teams within a few hours flight from Benghazi were preparing to deploy as early as 7 PM Washington time on the night of the attacks, well within the time needed to get to Benghazi before the deadly mortar strike that killed U.S. Navy Seals Glen Doherty and Ty Woods.

You would think such a key piece of evidence would have been the first thing the State Department turned over to Congressional investigators. After all, it establishes that help was “on the way” to our diplomats and special operators and intelligence officers under siege.

Panetta aide Jeremy Bash emailed Mrs. Clinton’s top aides at 7:09 PM, to let them know that quick reaction forces, then stationed in Europe, were “spinning up as we speak” to deploy to Benghazi.

“Assuming Principals agree to deploy these elements, we will ask State to secure the approval from host nation,” Bash wrote. Please advise how you wish to convey that approval to us.”

Bash said he had just tried to call them at State, but that they were all in a meeting with Secretary Clinton, hence the email.

We know from the timeline submitted to Congress by the Defense Department exactly which forces Bash was referring to. They included a Delta Force hostage rescue team based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina that was on call 24/7, two Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST) platoons based in Rota, Spain, and the Commander’s In Extremis Force (CIF) for European Command, also known as C-110.

C-110 was a fifty-man team of Special Operations troops with their own airlift, specially composed to be able to respond to precisely the type of emergency that was then occurring in Benghazi.

They were trained in hostage rescue operations and “hot” extractions. This was the Unit most suitable for Benghazi. When they got word to start “spinning up,” they were in Croatia on a training mission, just a two-to-three hour flight from Benghazi.

As Bash sent his email, General Carter Ham, commander of Africa Command (Africom), initiated the process to transfer them from Eucom to Africom, temporarily placing them under his direct orders. The Unit commander ordered his men to begin loading their gear into their C-130s. All they needed was the go-ahead from State.

And that’s where it died. Hillary Clinton did not want U.S. Special Operations forces coming into Libya with “guns ablazing.” Instead of flying directly to Benghazi, C-110 was told to “stage” in Sigonella, Italy. Meanwhile, Panetta counter-manded General Ham’s order, and returned C-110 to the authority of EUCOM.

This is the key piece of information Mrs. Clinton and her protectors have fought tooth and nail to keep from Congress and the U.S. public until now. Why? Because it contradicts all the earlier timelines presented by the State Department, the CIA, and the Department of Defense, and shows that U.S. forces could have rescued our men in Benghazi before the fateful 5 AM mortar strike, if only Mrs. Clinton had given the go-ahead. Only a lawsuit by Judicial Watch forced its release.

I investigated this timeline and Mrs. Clinton’s role in blocking military assets from reaching Benghazi in my book Dark Forces: the Truth About What Happened in Benghazi. I interviewed senior Africom commanders, unit commanders, spec-ops officers and others with direct knowledge of the U.S. Forces available for deployment that night.

In the redacted version of his testimony that was ultimately released by the House Armed Services Committee, General Ham said the main reason he didn’t go balls to the wall to get forces to Benghazi was simple. “We were never asked,” he said.

Pathetic, but true.

The Bash email shows that the Pentagon was asking – two hours earlier than previous timelines have revealed. So far, the State Department has not released the response that Mrs. Clinton’s minions sent back to Bash. But we know what it was: stand down.

Glen Doherty and Ty Woods soon found out what it was as well.

Timmerman’s accusation begs the question of was there a stand down order issued by Clinton?

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

Will Republicans Protest and Litigate to Stop Iran Nuclear Pact?

stop iran rally september 9thWhere there were five undeclared Democrat Senators on the cusp of reconvening Congress, today there is only one, Ms. Cantwell from Washington State. Three Democrat Senators: Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Gary Price of Michigan declared for the President’s position. Two of the three Democrat Senators who declared for the President position, Blumenthal and Wyden are up for re-election in 2016, while Price is not. The lone Democrat who joined with the Republican majority to oppose the Iran Pact is West Virginia Senator, Joe Manchin.

In a statement released by his office, Manchin said, “I believe that to be a super power, you must possess super diplomatic skills, and I believe that we can use these skills to negotiate a better deal.”

That leaves possibly 58 Senators, 54 Republicans and four Democrats opposing the Iran nuclear pact. That is two shy of the required 60 votes for cloture under the current Senate Rule 22 to cut off a filibuster. A vote on the majority resolutions rejecting the Iran pact could be scheduled as early as Thursday. That is, if the promised filibuster led by Senator Minority Democrat Leader Reid doesn’t stop the vote first.

Reid unleashed the filibuster option on Saturday, September 5th. White House Spokesperson Josh Earnest said Tuesday, September 8th:

It would be a little ironic for now Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to express concerns about a tactic that he, himself, employed on countless occasions. The other thing that I’ll point out is that the 60 vote threshold is actually one that was approved by the 98 senators who voted for the Corker-Cardin legislation back in the spring.

Opponents of the Iran nuclear pact circulated a letter on Capitol Hill today signed by 15 governors including  four  Republican hopefuls; Jindal of Louisiana, Christie of New Jersey, Kasich of Ohio and Walker of Wisconsin.  Republican majority and other opponents of the filibuster floor maneuver by minority Democrats criticize it for denying an up or down vote on the measure that Americans in leading polls taken by a 2 to 1 margin have urged Congress to reject the Iran deal.  Harvard law professor emeritus, Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case Against the Iran Deal said in a Steve Malzberg Show interview on NewsMax TV, September 3, 2015:

As an opponent of the deal, a filibuster would be a good result because it would deny legitimacy to the deal. The American public is not going to accept a deal that was filibustered. Let’s remember what a filibuster is. It was a southern strategy designed to undo democracy and to offend equality.

Dershowitz drew attention to the quandary that Israel and PM Netanyahu would face if the Iran pact was approved:

I know Benjamin Netanyahu. I’ve known him since 1973. He is not going to sit back and allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.

This deal makes it much harder for Israel to defend its people.

In a Washington Post opinion article by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), member of the House Permanent Intelligence Committee, and Constitutional lawyer, David B. Rivkin, Jr.  Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies argued that the failure to deliver a side deal might void the Iran pact. Further they raised the prospect of   possible litigation against the President on the grounds that the he didn’t deliver the requisite information. They were especially concerned about the IAEA side agreements with Iran to prepare a Road Map on prior military developments. Aversion of which was leaked with provisions for self inspection at the military site of Parchin, Iran.  That Road Map is a condition for release of $100 billion in sequestered funds held by US and foreign financial institutions.    Switzerland has already released their sanctions and Russia and China are poised to release their holdings. The EU3 component of the P5+1 are already in discussions with Tehran over billions of trade deals preventing a possible snap back of sanctions should Iran be found cheating on a sneak out to a nuclear weapon.  A weapon that some believe it may already have and be able to possibly via a satellite launch.

The Pompeo- Rivkin Washington Post opinion was earlier supported by Jerome Marcus, Esq. in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, An Informed Vote on the Iran Deal.”  Marcus suggested  based on his experience as a young lawyer assisting former State Department counsel, Abraham Sofaer in the Reagan era,   executive agreements like JCPOA with far reaching implications should be treated as if it was a treaty.  Marcus concluded:

The lesson for today is clear: When a legislative body is deciding whether to approve an international agreement, especially one as important as the recent nuclear agreement with Iran, its members have the right to access the agreement’s negotiating record. Members of Congress should demand that record now, and they should examine it, before they cast their votes.

To bring such a suit Dr. Robert B. Sklaroff and Lee S. Bender, Esq. suggested in a FrontpageMagazine article that the Senate Majority Leader, McConnell should undertake the following steps:

Emergency Prescription for Senate:  [1]—Pass rule that abolishes the filibuster; [2]—Pass resolution declaring the Iran nuke deal to be a “treaty”; [3]—Defeat the deal; and [4]—Sue President Obama to enjoin him from implementing the deal.

The procedures for initiating the first critical step, achieving cloture cutting off the threatened filibuster, are contained in two relevant Congressional Research Service reports; Considerations for Changes in Senate Rules by Richard S. Beth, January 2013 and Filibusters and Cloture by Beth and Valerie Heitschusen, December 2014.

Sklaroff heard Dershowitz at a presentation in Cherry Hill, New Jersey on September 2nd.  He reported on Dershowitz’s remarks and response:

On September 2, Dershowitz, at the Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, N.J., amplified on this viewpoint, quoting Federalist 64:  “The power of making treaties is an important one, especially as it relates to war, peace, and commerce; and it should not be delegated but in such a mode, and with such precautions, as will afford the highest security that it will be exercised by men the best qualified for the purpose, and in the manner most conducive to the public good.”

When I [discussed] with him the necessity to sue Obama, he initially raised concern that this would be discarded as a “political question.” “Who would sue?” he asked rhetorically. “Senator McConnell!” said I. “Well, it’s a possibility, because he would have standing, representing the Senate.”

Has such a suit been brought by the Senate against President Obama and the Supreme Court ruled on the matter of executive overreach of lawful authorities?   There is the example of the Supreme Court   June 2014 unanimous ruling against the President for his three day recess appointment of National Labor Relations Board and Consumer Protection officials in 2012 that required approval by  the Senate.  The original matter was brought by a Washington State bottler and a decision rendered in the DC US Circuit Court of Appeals by Judge David B. Sentelle. Note the comments of the Republican Counsel for the Senate and then Senate Majority Leader Reid from a Washington Post article:

Miguel Estrada, who represented Senate Republicans in the case, called the ruling a victory for the Senate. “The Supreme Court reaffirmed the Senate’s power to prescribe its own rules, including the right to determine for itself when it is in session, and rejected the President’s completely unprecedented assertion of unilateral appointment power,” he said.

But Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) blamed Senate Republicans for denying nominees a chance to be confirmed through a vote of the full chamber. “President Obama did the right thing when he made these appointments on behalf of American workers.”

Tomorrow, September 9, 2015, Democrat Presidential front runner Hillary Clinton former Secretary of State, embroiled in a private email server controversy, will make the case for support of the President’s position.  She has previously gone on record saying:

The Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese, they’re gonna say we agreed with the Americans, I guess their president can’t make foreign policy. That’s a very bad signal to send.

Clinton will be a minor distraction from the Tea Party Patriots (TPP) Stop Iran Now Rally chaired by Jenny Beth Martin on the West Lawn of the US Capitol Building with a cast of media luminaries in the opposition camp.  The event is co-sponsored by TPP, Zionist Organization of America and the Center for Security Policy. The roster of those speaking includes TPP head Martin, Republican Presidential front runner Donald Trump, fellow Presidential hopeful Ted Cruz (R-TX), Conservative talk show Hosts Glen Beck and Mark Levin, David Bossie of Citizens United, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), Chairman of the Congressional Israel Allies Caucus, former CIA-director, Ambassador R. James Woolsey, Chairman of the FDD, Frank Gaffney of the CSP, Sarah Stern of EMET and Mort Klein of the ZoA. This will be a media spectacle.

Late this afternoon, my colleague at 1330amWEBY Mike Bates, host of “Your Turn”, and I reviewed these developments.  Listen to the WEBY audio segment here.  Bates observed that the motivation behind these political maneuverings was President Obama’s objective all along to bolster Iran’s position in the Middle East as a recognized nuclear threshold state threatening traditional support for Allies in the region, Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and Egypt. Bates thought the Reid filibuster play was simply a travesty of politics as usual in Washington.   In turn we both discussed the strange case of Florida US. Representative and Democratic National Committee head, Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, who has infuriated segments of her large but divided Jewish constituency.  In her public statement she said tearfully that from her “Jewish heart” the Iran pact, as defective as it is, was the correct thing to do.  We concurred that the filibuster if not upended by a Republican cloture to force an up or down vote would enable her and other Democrat colleagues up for re-election in 2016 to claim that there was never a vote. Political cover that comes at a high price of Iran receiving tens of billions now with promises of trillions in economic trade benefits. All while harboring secret development of nuclear weapons threatening the U.S. and Israel.

RELATED ARTICLES:

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

Kerry: U.S. Obligated to Prevent Israeli Sabotage of Iran’s Nuclear Program

Armin Rosen in a Business Insider article wrote about Florida’s US Senator Marco Rubio’s provocative question that generated a troubling response from Secretary Kerry at yesterday’s testy Senate Foreign Relations Hearing on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program. It had to do with the dilemma facing the Administration about a commitment by the world powers to defend the Iranian nuclear program against attack.

Rubio raised the hypothetical of what would be the U.S. obligation under a provision found in an Annex III to the agreement, if Israel might undertake a possible cyber attack.  An attack akin to the malworm, Stuxnet that disabled Iran’s enrichment centrifuges temporarily setting back their nuclear program.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) questions U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz (not pictured) before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington July 23, 2015.   REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) at Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing July 23, 2015. Source:  Reuters-Gary Cameron.

The Business Insider article laid out the quandary:

Republican presidential candidate and US Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) asked about a provision of the agreement that seems to obligate the US and its negotiating partners to help protect Iranian nuclear sites against potential outside attack.

According to Annex III, the agreement’s section on “civil nuclear cooperation,” the signatories commit to “co-operation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.

This provision of the deal doesn’t mention any countries by name. But Rubio wondered if this was included in the deal because of Iranian concerns related to a specific US ally.

“If Israel decides it doesn’t like this deal and it wants to sabotage an Iranian nuke program or facility, does this deal that we have just signed obligate us to help Iran defend itself against Israeli sabotage or for that matter the sabotage of any other country in the world?” Rubio asked.

[Secretary of Energy] Moniz replied that “all of our options and those of our allies and friends would remain in place” after the deal goes into effect.

Kerry then jumped in to explain the provision’s specific purpose: “To be able to have longer-term guarantees as we enter a world in which cyberwarfare is increasingly a concern for everybody that if you are going to have a nuclear capacity, you clearly want to be able to make sure that those are adequately protected.”

Rubio posed the key question to Kerry:

If Israel conducts a cyber attack against the Iranian nuclear program are we obligated to help them defend themselves against an Israel cyber attack?

Kerry responded:

I don’t see any way possible that we would be in conflict with Israel with respect to what we might want to do there and we just have to wait until we get until that point,” Kerry said, cryptically — “that point” referring to a future time at which Israel believes it’s necessary to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program. It seems that at that juncture, the US would have to determine whose side to take.

The background of this troubling JCPOA provision was explored in our July 14, 2015 1330 amWEBY interview with Omri Ceren of The Israel Project and Shoshana Bryen of The Jewish Policy Center to be published as an article in the August edition of the New English Review.

Note this exchange between Mike Bates of WEBY and Bryen:

sbryen-804443500

Shoshana Bryen of The Jewish Policy Center.

Bates:  Shoshana.  Because with a deal in place, Iran will be free to covertly develop nuclear weapons without consequence.  …However, if the day comes when Israel has valid reasons to believe that a nuclear weapon is in the hands of the Iranians, or is imminently so, Israel is going to have no choice but to act unilaterally.  When they do, they will be excoriated and vilified.  … I think this makes it more dangerous, because the military option, as I see it, Shoshana, is off the table.

 Bryen:  I’m not sure it wasn’t always off the table.  Starting in the Bush Administration,the United States and Israel had a divergence of opinion about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. The Bush administration was in favor of sanctions and believed in squeezing them to death.  They were not in favor of military activity.   The Israelis always had believed that military action was best done in conjunction with the United States. Once they began to understand that there was no way, that even their good friend George W. Bush was not going to help them do this.   The military option became less viable.  You have to think about it from the point of view of a small country, Israel, and a large country, Iran, which has air defenses. Iran will now have better air defenses, because the Russians have sold them better air defenses.  The Iranians had more time to bury and harden their facilities.  They’ve had more time to dig them under populated places.  If you have to drop a bomb on something, the collateral damage there will be very heavy. I’m not sure that there was a great military option, to begin with.  However, you are right to the extent that if there was a facility you felt was absolutely crucial, I believe Israel could destroy it.

Omri Ceren

Omri Ceren, The Israel Project.

Note the following exchange between Bates and Ceren:

Bates:   I’m more concerned about the 8 million people living in Israel; the 300 millionpeople in the United States.  I’m concerned that Iran has been given a pathway to a bomb that is unobstructed.  This takes the military option off the table.  Even if Israel believes their existential threat is imminent, they can hardly attack militarily to stop it.  …I think the concessions are so much bigger than that.  Am I wrong, Omri?

Ceren:  Let me say that Shoshana’s answer was very compelling…Which is the military option was never Israel’s main option.  Sabotage and subterfuge were Israel’s real options, which is why it is so concerning that this deal puts the Iranian nuclear program under international sponsorship.There is an annex to the deal that says the EU-3 and their partners will teach them how to harden their nuclear assets against sabotage.  Specifically, against nuclear sabotage. In effect we’re protecting them,as they build up their program.  Forget protecting them in the last five minutes from Israeli action.  Thisdeal protects them from Israeli action throughout the entire lifetime of the deal

These exchanges between Senator Rubio and Secretary Kerry at yesterday’s Senate Foreign Relations Hearing and the excerpted WEBY interview exchanges with both Bryen and Ceren in the forthcoming New English Review article demonstrate how the JCPOA constrains both the US and Israel’s options to deal with the Iran nuclear threat. All due to the concessions made by Kerry and the negotiating team at both Lausanne and in Vienna. It explains why the Republican majority in both Houses of Congress and even some minority Democrats oppose the nuclear pact with Iran. Further, why Israel PM Netanyahu called the Nuclear pact with Iran a very bad deal in his speech on March 3,2015 before a Joint Meeting of Congress. We commend Republican Senator Rubio for asking the tough question that forced Secretary Kerry’s verification of how bad this deal is.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Secretary of State Kerry with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, and Energy Secretary Moniz, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, July 23, 2015. Source: AP/Andrew Harnik.

UNESCO: Muslims Own the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem

During  a panel discussion at Pensacola’s Brit Ahm Messianic Synagogue on June 27th following a showing of the APT documentary The J Street Challenge an audience member raised a question about the ancient Jewish claims to Jerusalem in the context of a recent Vatican declaration recognizing a Palestinian State. The panel spoke about the long term Vatican quest for internationalization of Israel’s eternal undivided capital of the Jewish nation that had protected the precincts if the world major faiths. Something that had not occurred during the 19 year occupation of Jordan until the liberation of the holy city by  the IDF on June 7, 1967. Panelist Mike Bates 1330amWEBY Talk Show Host and station  general manager discussed  the fictional Islamic doctrinal claims, based on the legend of Mohammed’s fabled night ride, to the Temple Mount including the  Western Wall –a revered Jewish site over two millennia. In our Iconoclast  post on the Pensacola event, we wrote:

That led to an exposition by Mike Bates about the realities concerning Muslims claims of control over Jerusalem. He noted the legend of the Prophet Mohammed’s dream of a night ride on the human headed horse to “the farthest Mosque” where he meets Jesus and rises to heaven to meet Abraham and other Jewish prophets all deemed Muslim. Bates pointed out that nowhere in the Qur’an is Jerusalem mentioned. Moreover, Muslims did not occupy Jerusalem until The Rash dun Caliphate conquest and submission to Caliph Umar bin –Khattab  in 637 C.E. Caliph  bin Khattab initiated the construction of what ultimately become  the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and established a Dhimma or pct for governance of subjugated peoples of the book, Christians, Jews and others. Muslims claim any conquered land as a possession in perpetuity under a trust from their god Allah. Jews have lived in Jerusalem for more than 3,000 years.

We raise this because this week, a committee of UNESCO approved a resolution condoning these Muslim claims to the Western Wall based on Mohammed’s night legend, virtually excluding from consideration ancient Jewish historical claims and even Christian ones preceding the Islamic conquest of Jerusalem.  Patrick Goodenough  revealed the absurdity of the UN panel proposal in a CNS report, “UNESCO Backs Muslim Narrative on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount”:

A key committee of the United Nations cultural agency adopted a resolution this week whose language implicitly endorses the legend underpinning Islam’s claim to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount — the assertion that Mohammed tied his winged steed there while en route from Mecca to heaven.

Famed as a place of Jewish pilgrimage and prayer, the Western or “Wailing” Wall is the remnant of a retaining wall on the western flank of the platform that once housed the biblical Temples. As such it is the closest point observant Jews are usually able to get to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.

But for Muslim leaders wanting to deny Jewish historical and religious claims to the site, it is dubbed the al-Buraq wall, and the area in front of it the al-Buraq plaza. This is based on the belief that the founder of Islam stopped there during his “night journey” from Mecca to heaven, and tethered his legendary steed, al-Buraq, there while he led prayers with a congregation of “Islamic prophets” including Adam, Noah and Joseph.

Now the World Heritage Committee of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has adopted a resolution which refers to the area below and to the west of the Temple Mount as the “Buraq plaza.”

The resolution, proposed by three Arab countries, Qatar, Algeria and Lebanon, refers to the Temple Mount itself as a “Muslim holy site,” with no reference to its importance to Jews.

It slams Israel for various actions in Jerusalem’s Old City, including construction and excavation work. A light railway system whose route passes near – but does not enter – the Old City is said to be damaging the “visual integrity and the authentic character of the site.”

The resolution’s introduction at the World Heritage Committee’s session in Bonn, Germany, brought criticism from Israeli Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold, who said it was “full of distortions and is totally disconnected from reality on the ground.”

Gold said in a statement the measure “deliberately ignores the historical connection between the Jewish people and their ancient capital,” and also does not acknowledge Christianity’s links to Jerusalem.

He accused the UNESCO committee of hypocrisy, at a time when jihadists were destroying ancient heritage sites across the region.

“As the historical heritage sites of this area are being systematically destroyed by jihadist forces, such as the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, UNESCO’s adoption of utterly false allegations about Israeli archeological practices is misplaced and hypocritical, at best,” Gold said.

UNESCO in 2011 became the first U.N. agency to admit “Palestine,” a decision that triggered a U.S. funding cutoff mandated by a 1990 law barring financial support for “the United Nations or any specialized agency thereof which accords the Palestine Liberation Organization the same standing as member states.”

Goodenough noted the motivation for the UNESCO resolution:

The Palestinians want parts of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount, as capital of a future independent state, and Palestinian and Islamic figures have long challenged Jewish historical and religious claims to the mount.

For instance, fatwas attributed to former grand mufti of Jerusalem Ikrama Sabri and former mufti of Egypt Nasr Farid Wasil, dispute Jewish claims to the Western Wall.

“Al-Buraq Wall is part of al-Aqsa Mosque and it is an Islamic endowment,” Wasil said. “Hence, it is not permissible in shari’a for any non-Islamic quarter to claim or possess it. The wall would remain part and parcel of Islamic heritage and endowment forever.”

“Al-Buraq Wall is part of al-Aqsa’s western wall and the whole walls of al-Aqsa are Islamic endowments,” said Sabri. “Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, had honored and blessed the place by tying al-Buraq to the wall, during his Night Journey and Ascension to the Heaven.”

“Hence al-Buraq Wall belongs to Muslims alone in the four corners of the earth and will remain so till Judgment Day. We neither admit nor acknowledge that Jews possess it (al-Buraq Wall) and, also we stress that there is no stone there dating back to Hebrew history.”

This UNESCO  al-Buraq (Western Wall) resolution  based on the fiction of Mohammed’s night ride to “the farthest Mosque” preceded Al Quds or Jerusalem  Day, July 10, 2015  observed during  the last Friday during Ramadan.   The Founder of the Islamic Republic in Iran, Ayatollah Khomenei  declared it as a religious duty for all Muslims to further the “liberation” of Jerusalem . Al Quds Day promotes the Palestinian assertion that Jerusalem should be its state capital reflecting the Muslim claims based on the Mohammed night ride legend.  Qur’anic doctrine and Shariah law considers all conquered territory, whether Jerusalem or Andalusia in Southern Spain, as a Waqf, or trust conveyed by Allah in perpetuity.  The Times of Israel  reported  Jerusalem  Day was celebrated in Tehran with millions marching shouting “Death to  America and Israel”, burning  US and Israeli flags, an effigies of Netanyahu and the Saudi King.  We note that the events in Tehran occurred in the midst of the P5+1 negotiation for a nuclear deal with Iran.

In our July 2015 NER interview with Manfred Gerstenfeld, we asked him about UN engaging in such delegitimization of Israel. He replied:

The UN is a major demonizer and hatemonger of Israel. That includes UN-associated bodies such as the United Nations Human Rights Commission, UNESCO, UNWRA and many others agencies. The UN is supposed to be a moral body. When it comes to Israel its views reflect the extreme moral degradation of this largest supranational body. Hate expressions and double standards against Israel symbolize that.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Obama, J Street and the American Jewish Divide

Former Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren is a native of West Orange, New Jersey best exemplifies the special relations between the two allies, Israel and the U.S. Ally-book cover jpgWith the publication of his memoir, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide (2015), he has another best seller. Previous ones were Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2003) and Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present (2007)Having read Ally, I concur with praise from two pundits: Bret Stephens, the Tuesday Wall Street  Journal columnist of note, and Vic Rosenthal, a former resident of Fresno, California, now a Jerusalem resident whose Abu Yehuda blog  posts are a must read about an American  living in Israel.

Bret Stephens’ opening stanza in his June 29, 2015 WSJ column “The President Against the Historianexplains why Oren’s memoir is a must read:

Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, has written the smartest and juiciest diplomatic memoir that I’ve read in years, and I’ve read my share. The book, called “Ally,” has the added virtues of being politically relevant and historically important. This has the Obama administration—which doesn’t come out looking too good in Mr. Oren’s account—in an epic snit.

Vic Rosenthal in his July 2, 2015, Abu Yehuda blog post, Michael Oren is tired of American Jews, and so am I, addresses  the yawning  divide between Israel and American Jews, another of Oren’s themes in Ally:

Rabbi Eric Yoffie is offended by Michael Oren, on behalf of (non-Orthodox) American Jews. These Jews, like America’s “first Jewish president,” turn out to be very easy to offend: just suggest that Israelis are more qualified than they are to decide the future of their country.

Oren’s new book has offended both Yoffie and the Obama Administration, which has launched an all-out media blitz against him (as far as I know, Obama spokespeople haven’t called him a ‘chickenshit’ yet, but give them time).

Yesterday morning, I dialed into an Israel Project  (TIP)sponsored presentation by Oren. He told the listeners ,unlike the daylight between Obama and Netanyahu over the Iranian nuclear nightmare threat, that there is no daylight across the political divide in the  obsessive democratic cockpit of the Knesset. As Oren tells it, whether Likud, Zionist Union and even Arab parties, all Israel is united that Iran achieving nuclear breakout is “a very bad deal”. Further, he said while some  in the media, the Obama claque of  “senior officials’ and former aides have excoriated him for the early publication  of his memoir, he was heartened that they haven’t addressed the facts of what the Administration has perpetrated. Listen to this recorded  TIP presentation by Oren and the following Q&A.

Oren’s memoir has a lot to say about President Obama and his Administration acolytes isolating Israel over Iran and  Netanyahu’s vigorous defense of Israel  sovereign right of Israel to warn America and the untrusting world about Iran’s nuclear  threat and the very bad P5+1  deal. Perhaps  a  deal about to be announced in Vienna in a few days. Or if not simply kicked down the road.  All while Iran’s  Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei  and Mahdist acolytes of terrorism perfect the means of taking out the “little Satan”, Israel ,with one bomb and the “big Satan”, the  US, with a nuclear tipped ICBM.

Oren clearly takes pride that his well honed skills as a Columbia and Princeton educated historian who earned his PhD in Middle East Studies with the venerable Bernard Lewis.   Not bad for a pudgy dyslexic , pigeon toed 15 year old who shook the hand of the late Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin, when the latter was  Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the US.  He exclaimed on that memorable occasion that some day he would be Israel’s Ambassador.  A late bloomer in high school Oren fulfilled his quest, slimed down hardened through rowing .  Equipped with his backpack he made aliyah to Israel to go through  grueling  paratrooper training  earn his coveted red beret along with an oath taken  to defend Israel on Masada with his IDF comrades.  He ends up in combat and later as a reserve officer during the Second Lebanon War as a military spokesperson to the foreign press.  Along the way he  meets his  American wife Sally Edelstein, a  Jersey girl, dancer and former San Francisco hippy groupie when she makes Aliyah to Israel and they ultimately form their Israeli family.

Ally  depicts what it was like for an American-Israeli to fulfill his dream as his adopted country’s Ambassador in Washington  Israel’s  interests in the byzantine politics of the Obama era from 2009 to 2013. After leaving Washington, Oren turns home to Tel Aviv to lecture, teach at Harvard and Yale and write his memoir.   Oren is now a member of the Kulanu party headed by former  Likud Communications Commissioner and economic reformer Moshe Kahlon.  Oren is a thinking liberal and  both he and the family are members of a Reform synagogue.  His memoir culminates on a dramatic note when he  and Sally attend  a  Bar Mitzvah celebration for 13 year olds at  Kibbutz Na’an, with one of his former Washington Embassy aides, Lee Moser, mother of  one of the bar mitzvah candidates when a red alert sounds, sirens wail and they scurry for shelter. He writes:

I held Sally’s hand and glanced over my shoulder over my shoulder just as two Hamas rockets roared in. Then with twin booms that rattled the tin overhang  and shook the ground below, the missiles exploded. Iron Dome interceptors, developed by Israel and funded by the United States, scored perfect hits. For moment afterward, as we emerged into the uncertain night, the glow of those bursts hovered over us, beaming like kindred stars.

All  of which brings  us to why he has frosted the J Street  fawning rabbinic leadership of the Reform Movement in America and  earned  both Vic Rosenthal’s and my admiration. This came on the cusp of having orchestrated a  recent viewing and panel discussion of the Americans for Peace and Tolerance documentary, J Street Challenge with Pensacola pro-Israel colleagues; Rabbi Eric Tokajer of Brit Ahm synagogue, Mike Bates, 1330amWEBY general manger of “Your Turn host and Florida State Representative Mike Hill, a U.S. Air Force Academy grad.

Vic Rosenthal notes a similar experience in his Fresno in his Abu Yehuda column:

We tried to bring the local Jewish community – the organizations, the synagogues and individual Jews – along with us. With a few exceptions, mostly people like us who had lived in Israel or had relatives there, we had to drag them kicking and screaming. Most of our pro-Israel events drew the same few supporters.

The local Reform temple was probably the most frustrating. A film critical of J Street, followed by a discussion? Absolutely not, it would be ‘divisive’! The Jewish Federation and Hadassah were better, but it was always easier to organize an event about Jewish culture than Israel.

Is Oren right that American Jews are more interested in helping others than their own? Certainly they were far more upset about terrorism in Charleston than Jerusalem, and far more ready to criticize our Prime Minister than their own Administration. The Reform rabbi threw himself into activities to help the poor and homeless. He is seen on TV on panels with the Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center. He is an outspoken advocate of liberal causes, but he did not give a sermon in favor of PM Netanyahu’s speech about Iran before the Congress.

In preparation for the recent J Street Challenge  Pensacola event, we culled excerpts from Oren’s Ally about his views on J Street  and its defenders inside the Obama Administration, illustrative of what  concerns Vic Rosenthal.

On J Street’s inclusion in Major American Jewish organizations meeting with Obama in 2009 p. 78

He promised to be more evenhanded in asking all parties, not just Israelis, to make sacrifices for peace. Yet the meeting would be remembered as a turning point in the administration’s approach toward the Jewish State.

Included for the first time with the mainstream Jewish leaders were the heads of Americans for Peace Now and the newly founded J Street, both organizations stridently critical of Israel and its traditional American supporters.  Their presence rattled the other participants, many of whom had been personally slighted by these parvenus.

The President concluded, “When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs”.

Commenting on the discussion, J Street founder Jeremy Ben Ami cited Obama’s ability to connect with the Muslim World and his immense standing in America and the World. “He was very clear that this is a moment that has to be seized and he intends to seize it.  By contrast the other American Jewish leaders emerged from the meeting concerned about Obama’s departure from the long standing principle of “no daylight” in U.S. –Israel relations.

On J Street’s promotion of the Goldstone Report that Maligned Israel in Operation Cast Lead in 2008 – 2009 p. 102

Though J Street refrained from formally endorsing the [Goldstone Report], activists in the organization escorted Goldstone to Congress for meetings with progressive members.  Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner told the UNHRC of America’s disappointment with the document’s double standards. But he also cited Goldstone’s ‘distinguished record of public service” and called on Palestinians to investigate Hamas abuses. This, for Israelis, was tantamount to asking al-Qaeda to investigate 9/11.

On the contretemps between the Israeli Embassy and J Street P. 107

Irksome was the embassy’s continued imbroglio with J Street. Unlike my predecessor, Sallai Meridor, who had shunned the lobby, I initially engaged it in a dialogue.  I had no illusions about the group, which received funds from anti-Israel contributors, supported every legislator critical of Israel, and stridently attacked mainstream American Jewish leaders. Though J Street defined itself as “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace”, its logo bore no connection to Israel whatsoever, not even the color blue, and portrayed other pro-Israel organizations as anti-Israel. Before becoming Ambassador, I chanced to meet one J Street board member and asked him why he had joined. “I’m uncomfortable with the special relationship,” he told me. “I want to normalize U.S.-Israel ties.”

Outrageously, J Street members hosted Goldstone in Congress and lobbied  against sanctions on Iran. These actions were deeply deleterious to Israel’s security – “they endangered seven million Israelis,” I said –and made interacting with J Street virtually impossible. Both the Prime Minister [Netanyahu] and the foreign minister [Avigdor Liberman] vetoed my participation in its annual conference.

On the Obama White House relations with J Street p. 108

J Street… fashioned itself as the Administration’s wing in the American Jewish Community. Obama acknowledged that fact by sending his National Security Advisor [former Marine General] Jim Jones, one of Washington’s most powerful officials to greet the organization. “I’m honored to represent President Obama at the first national J Street conference.  And you can be sure that this administration will be represented at all other J Street conferences…” Obama’s newly appointed advisor on anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, an early J Street supporter, issued her first denunciation not of anti-Semites, but rather of me for boycotting the summit.

Michael Oren’s Ally might be considered a 21st Century version of Emile Zola’s J’accuse.  Oren , like Zola in the fin de siècle Dreyfus affair,  addresses the calumnies of President  Obama, nurtured  in Muslim Indonesia, creating daylight isolating Israeli PM Netanyahu over nuclear Iran and recognition of a Faux Palestinian State.  Daylight promised  to Obama’s  Chicago anti-Israel confreres, Rashid Khalidi, holder of the Edward Said Endowed Chair on Modern Arab Studies  at Columbia and Ali Abunimah , editor of The Electronic Intifada blog, that he wouldn’t forget them. Oren chronicles how Obama delivered on that promise.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of President Obama and former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, July 2009. Source: White House Photo

Rising Concerns over Muslim Refugee Resettlement in U.S. [Video]

Ann Corcoran’s brief video on Muslim Refugee Resettlement in the U.S. has gone viral since being put up on YouTube on April 20, 2015 by the Center for Security Policy. It has had over 200,735 hits to date climbing every day. Clearly, Corcoran’s message has resonated among concerned Americans. Watch it on YouTube:

Refugee Resettlement and Hijra jpgThe CSP YouTube video is a complement to her recently published book on the problems confronting America over the threat of mass Muslim migration that has transformed Europe and now troubles grass roots America, “Refugee Resettlement and the Hijra to America .

Corcoran and her team chronicle news and developments about this issue on the blog where she is editor, Refugee Resettlement Watch. You may have read our interview with Erick Stakelbeck, ISIS Threat to America  in the current edition of the NER where he drew attention to the Somali refugee communities in the American heartland sending jihadi terrorists in Somali and Syria.  He spoke of young Somali émigré men who have joined up with, first Al Shabaab in Somalia, and now increasingly, join the Islamic State to fight for the self-declared Caliphate in Syria and Iraq.   We have drawn attention to the problems of Somali refugee resettlement in NER articles and Iconoclast posts over the past eight years.  They have  covered  severe cultural and integration problems in the American heartland  in places like Shelbyville, TennesseeEmporia, KansasGreeley , ColoradoMinneapolis, Minnesota,  Columbus, Ohio, and Lewiston, Maine.

The Somali émigré jihadis aren’t the only terrorists among admitted refugees. Think of the brothers Tsarneav who perpetrated the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. See our NER article, “Refugee Jihad Terror in Boston.”  An ABC investigation reported that dozens of terrorists have been admitted fraudulently under the U.S. Refugee Admission Program.

 One example was two Iraqi refugees, al Qaeda operatives, arrested in Bowling Green, Kentucky in 2011 convicted in 2013. They were charged with sending weapons and cash to Al Qaeda. They lied on their Federal Refugee Admission forms about their prior terrorist involvements in Iraq. One had constructed IEDs, involved in killing four members of a Pennsylvania National guard unit in 2006 in Iraq. A check of fingerprints on the shards of the IED caught the perpetrator. Watch this 2013 ABC Report. Recently, one of those convicted, Mohanad Shareef Hammadi, filed a motion seeking to overturn his conviction because his counsel said he wouldn’t get life.  That episode briefly raised the criticism of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

In excess of 250,000 Somali and Iraqis have been admitted to the U.S. as refugees.  An estimated one million have immigrated to the U.S. from Muslim lands. Through births and admittance of relatives under the problematic P-3 Family Reunification Visa program the impact could mean millions of additional Muslim émigrés in the U.S.  Virtually all of the Somali and Iraqi refugees were Muslim.  Endangered Christians and other minority religion accounted for less than 8 percent of Syrian Refugees admitted under the State Department administered U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. Eleven Christian, Jewish and special interest NGOs or voluntary agencies (VOLAGS) are paid by the billion dollar State Department refugee program to process and place refugees in American communities. VOLAGS like Catholic Charities, Lutheran World Services, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society and the International Rescue Committee. The total annual federal and state program costs of refugee resettlement are estimated to range in excess of $12 to $20 billion annually.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees  establishes priorities for U.S. Admissions under the Refugee Act of 1980. An Act co-sponsored by the late Edward Kennedy and then Senator, now Vice President in the Obama Administration, Joe Biden. The U.S. may be poised to accept another wave of over 75,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years.   Doubtless they and growing number of  Muslim refugees from  elsewhere in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia will be “seeded”  in American cities under the Fostering Community Engagement  and Welcoming Communities Project of  the Office of Refugee  Resettlement with the Soros-backed  NGO, “Welcoming America“.

 But now there is pushback by American cities, as witnessed by concerns expressed in letters to Secretary of State Kerry by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), chairman of the House Judiciary Sub Committee on Immigration and Border Security. Both The House Subcommittee and the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, chaired by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) hold annual hearings over refugee allotments. Gowdy’s letter of April 13, 2015 was prompted by constituent complaints in Spartanburg, South Carolina of the establishment of a VOLAG office to processing Muslim refugees. He wrote Secretary Kerry seeking answers as to why the office was being established and had not been reviewed with state and local agencies. He ended his letter:

I request that any plans to resettle refugees in the Spartanburg, South Carolina, area be placed on hold until my constituents and I receive your substantive responses to the questions and information requested in this letter. Additionally, before moving forward, both the Spartanburg community and I should have time to substantively review the information and be comfortable with the information provided.

As previously stated, I am troubled by the lack of notice and coordination with my office and the Spartanburg community, particularly local officials, regarding the plans to resettle refugees in the area. In that vein, I request at least one month’s notice prior to the arrival of the first refugee[s] in the Spartanburg area.

To find out more about what could become an important issue for evaluation of 2016 Presidential candidates, be sure to listen to an interview with Ann Corcoran of RRW by Jerry Gordon and Mike Bates on 1330am WEBY “Your Turn.” The program will air at 5:30 PM CDT (6:30 PM EDT), Tuesday, May 12th.  You may Listen Live here. The recorded program will be archived and posted following the broadcast.  A transcript of the interview may appear in the June edition of the NER.

RELATED ARTICLES:

U.S. Welcomes Millions of Aliens ‘Sight Unseen’

“A Growing Threat”: You’ll be Amazed at the Number of Immigrants Who Have Come to America From Muslim Countries Since 9/11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “The MEK sometimes gives us accurate information.”

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

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

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

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

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

Diker of the VOI noted:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

France Passes Palestine State Recognition: Could UN Security Council be Next Stop?

In a majority vote, the French National Assembly passed a  resolution  for symbolic recognition of Palestine statehood.  This adds France to a list of EU members, Sweden, Ireland,  the UK, and Spain whose Parliaments have passed similar resolutions.  Another such vote is pending in Denmark, while the European Parliament has scheduled a debate and possible vote on December 18, 2014. France24 provided this report on the vote in Paris, “French legislators vote in favor of recognizing Palestinian state”:

The non-binding, but highly symbolic National Assembly vote urges the government to recognize Palestine as state, reflecting growing European impatience with the stalled Middle East peace process.

MPs voted 339 to 151 in favor of the motion calling upon the French government to recognize the state of Palestine “as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict.”

Reporting from the National Assembly shortly after the vote, FRANCE 24’s Armen Georgian noted that while the motion was expected to pass, the number of votes in favor revealed “a very clear majority” of French lawmakers supported the move by the ruling Socialist Party.

The vote came despite the opposition from the centre-right UMP party, whose newly-elected leader, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, urged his party members to vote against the motion.

France is home to Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities and right-wing lawmakers have criticized the ruling Socialist Party of trying to woo Muslim voters.

The Voice of America account of today’s National Assembly vote  indicted that 60 percent of French polled support Palestinian statehood.

This latest EU member declaration vote for Palestine statehood has been criticized by Israel and praised by the PA. France24 reported:

The Israeli embassy denounce[ed] the move as harmful to prospects of peace in the region.

“Israel believes that the vote in the National Assembly… will reduce the possibility of achieving a deal between Israel and the Palestinians,” according to an Israeli statement released shortly after the vote. “Decisions of this nature harden the Palestinian position and send the wrong message to the people and the leaders of the region,” it added.

The Palestinian leadership, on the other hand, welcomed the vote and expressed its “gratitude” to French lawmakers.

“We call on the French government to translate its parliament’s vote into action,” Hanan Ashrawi, a senior leader in the Palestine Liberation Organization, said in a statement.

“We wish to express our gratitude to the members of the French parliament for adopting a resolution on the side of justice and human dignity,” she said. “For peace to prevail, support for the two-state solution must be more than lip service.”

 This is all part of PA President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestine 194 Campaign that has garnered  formal recognition from more than 130 members of the UN General  Assembly, where the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has a controlling vote bloc.  Our European source in Geneva reports possible moves by the Hollande government to introduce formal statehood recognition before the UN Security Council this month, not waiting for the outcome of European Parliament vote on their resolution in Strasbourg.

Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracy in our NER interview ,published in the current December edition, warned about  what the Administration might do at any scheduled UN Security Council vote on Palestinian statehood. Note  his responses  on this question  by this writer and Mike Bates of 1330AM WEBY in Pensacola, Florida:

Gordon:  The Palestinians have campaigned at the UN and elsewhere for Palestinian state recognition. We have seen votes in Sweden, UK, Spain, something that may even occur in France and the European Parliament. Is that realistic or is it simply just symbolic?

Schanzer:  It’s symbolic for now. However, the Palestine 194 Campaign does pose a threat to Israel long-term. It is not just that the Palestinians would declare a state or gain recognition of statehood. The problem is as this campaign continues to gain steam you are going to see countries that are at least potentially going to impose sanctions on Israel. Why? Because they disagree with where Israel’s borders are, or that Israel’s policies continue in the West Bank in terms of its maintaining control of certain territory that the Palestinians claim as their own. There is also the threat of an ICC, the International Criminal Court action that the Palestinians have been promoting. If the Israelis don’t basically bend or buckle to their territorial demands, that Israel could find itself fighting off an international lawsuit. There is significant concern on the part of the Israelis about where this is going. I think it’s undeniable at this point that the Palestine 194 Campaign is gaining steam.

Bates:  Can the United Nations recognize Palestine as a state without the approval of the Security Council?

Schanzer:  They already have two years ago at the General Assembly. It was roughly 130 countries that recognized the state of Palestine; however, it was only a symbolic vote because it did not make Palestine the 194th country. PA has not backed down. They continue to push the issue. They continue to work with sympathetic countries to have internal votes that would recognize the State of Palestine. This would entail an upgrade of the diplomatic mission and perhaps other perks and agreements on how to deal with the Israelis moving forward. While, it wouldn’t make the state of Palestine, so to speak, the 194th country, it would give the Palestinians more facts on the ground and leverage to work with.

Bates:  The General Assembly vote was purely symbolic. It didn’t admit Palestine as a member state to the UN. Does that require approval of the Security Council?

Schanzer:  It does. The Security Council would be absolutely necessary to make it the 194th country. One of the things that Jeffrey Goldberg’s [The Atlantic] article noted was a one line that was very disconcerting. That was that the United States may be considering lowering the shield, as they call it, at the UN Security Council so that they might abstain on a vote about Palestinian statehood as opposed to vetoing it, which they have in the past.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius smiling during National Assembly Debate on Palestine Statehood resolution. December 2, 2014, Source AP.