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Senator Cotton Defends Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran

We posted several times this week on the controversy that erupted following  publication of letter on Monday, March 9th, 2014, authored by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK) and signed by 46 other Republican colleagues that was tweeted to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Seven Republican Senators for various reasons declined to do so.  It drew the ire of the President, Secretary of State Kerry and most Democratic Senators.  It triggered several White House website “We the People” website petition campaigns. One requested charges of “treason” be filed while the other accused Sen. Cotton and the 46 Republican signatories of violating the 1799 Logan Act suggesting they could be sued for illegally conducting foreign relations when Members of Congress are exempt from the hoary law. Further, both sides of the aisle have done so historically, including then Senators Kerry and Biden, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. That didn’t stop some media like the New York Daily News and others from suggesting Republican signatories of the Cotton Letter were acting in a traitorous manner in an editorial  and front page headline, “GOPers Sabotage Bam Nuke Deal”.

The letter  has been called “mutinous” by a former Army General cited by the Washington PostPolitico blamed Sen. Cotton for “getting us a hard-line Supreme Ruler.” President Obama found it “somewhat ironic” that the Cotton letter may have aligned them with so-called hardliner opposition in Iran to the nuclear deal. Others contended that the letter was “ misguided”  and ”disrespectful” of the Presidential perogatives under our Constitution for negotiations of treaties and executive agreements. In our most recent post on the controversy on Friday, we wrote:

Two independent legal experts confirmed the Constitutional requirements for review of foreign treaties and Congressional executive agreements. Sen. Cotton’s letter also pointed out that any executive order signed by the President may not survive past the end of his term in 22 months and might be modified or terminated for cause by any successor. That raised a question of why the Memorandum of Understanding was non-binding. That provoked responses from both Foreign Minister Zarif and Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei.  While the latter railed in rhetoric about how the GOP initiative reflected “the disintegration of the US” and why our representations can’t be trusted and laughing at the State Department citing Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. It was left to Foreign Minister Zarif, to reveal that Congress wouldn’t have to approve anything saying: “The executive agreement was not bilateral but rather multi-lateral with the rest of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, subject to a resolution of the Security Council.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu wrote in a Jewish Press article published today, “U.N. Security Council’s lifting of sanctions and endorsement of a deal might make Congress irrelevant.” He then cites the observation of Omri Ceren, Communications Director for the Washington, DC-based The Israel Project:

The letter forced the Administration to explain why they’re icing Congress out of Iran negotiations, and now that explanation has ignited a firestorm. The administration looks like it intentionally chose a weaker, non-binding arrangement, rather than a treaty, to avoid Senate oversight.

Ken Timmerman, whose FrontPageMagazine article, we cited noted the reason for Zarif’s and presumably the Administration position:

The Obama administration has told Congress that it won’t submit the nuclear agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, but now Zarif is saying that it will be submitted to the United Nations, to form the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution, presumably aimed at lifting UN sanctions on Iran.

That prompted Sen. Coker (R-TN) and Foreign Relations Senate Committee chair co-sponsor of The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 to write President Obama Thursday:

There are now reports that your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote.

Enabling the United Nations to consider an agreement or portions of it, while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would enable Congress to do the same, is a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’s appropriate role.

bill bennetSen. Cotton was interviewed on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America program on Wednesday, March 11th, 2014 in the midst of the continuing controversy. He presented the salient background and rationale for the letter.  Among points regarding his letter he made during the interview were:

He indicated that the letter took shape following Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s address to a Joint Meeting of Congress that, in his opinion, raised questions about what sort of deal the Administration was entering into among both his Republican and many Democratic colleagues, as it did not preclude Iran from achieving a nuclear capability.

His letter was directed at informing Iran’s leaders of the Constitutional authorities for Senate review of foreign treaties and executive agreements and that they may be terminated by end of President Obama’s term or modified by succeeding Presidents or Congress under existing related sanctions legislation.  He thought that the response from Iran’s foreign minister reflected his lack of understanding of Congressional review and ratification  requirements as regarding any Memorandum of Understanding on Iran’s nuclear program that the US P5+1 might enter into.

He illustrated the ability of President to rescind executive agreements of predecessors with reference to the 2004 letter of former President Bush to the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reaffirming Israel’s rights under UN Resolution 242 to “secure and defensible” borders and that Jerusalem was Israel’s undivided capital. President Obama, according to Sen. Cotton, rescinded that executive agreement by suggesting that Israel might divide Jerusalem along the lines of the pre-1967 1949 Armistice Line.

The President’s objective, endeavoring to conclude so-called verifiable agreements on Iran’s nuclear agreements in their current form, would be a bad deal as reflecting in Israeli Prime Minister’s address comments before a Joint Meeting of Congress on March 3rd as it could allow Iran to continue developing a nuclear capability, not preclude it.

He suggested that President Obama’s motivation for pushing for the Iran nuclear deal was to achieve a strategic rapprochement with Iran. This despite the Islamic Republic cited by our State Department as a state sponsor of terrorism. Among specific examples cite by Cotton during the interview  were the 1979 US Embassy hostage taking and terrorist attacks by proxies  over several decades that resulted in deaths and injuries to hundreds of American diplomats and service personnel in Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

On the Matter of the Administration’s new Authorization for the Use of Military Power submitted to the Senate, he called it seriously restrictive. He pointed to the collapse of Iraq and rise of the Islamic State following the Administration’s failure to conclude a status of forces agreement with Iraq on the termination of the Iraq War in 2011.

When asked about Iran’s involvement in the current battle for Tikrit with Iraq national security forces and Iranian controlled Shia Militia, Cotton noted the role of the Quds Force, a combination of Special Forces and its CIA and its ubiquitous commander Qassem Suleymani. He accused Suleymani’s Quds Force of involvement in American casualties in both the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. It also reflected Iran’s rapidly expanding sphere of influence over four Arab countries in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and more recently, Yemen.

Sen. Cotton’s Bennett program interview came just before revelations about the implications of Foreign Minister Zarif’s remarks suggesting the non-binding Memo of Understanding reflected resort to UN approval of any appraisal arising from the multilateral negotiations with the P5+1. You may listen to the Bennett interview with Sen. Cotton, here.

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

If you want to know what’s in the Nuclear Deal with Iran — Ask Tehran

Yesterday, we wrote how 47 Republican Senators, led by Arkansas U.S. Senator Tom Cotton, did us a real favor when they sent an open letter to the “Leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran”. By published the open letter to Iran’s leaders, responses from Tehran revealed that the Congress may be by-passed and its approval might not be required to ratify a nuclear deal with Iran. Secretary of State Kerry indicated during his Senate Armed Services Hearing Wednesday that the Memorandum of Understanding was “non-binding” and thus no approval was required. State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki affirmed that position. The White House “We the People” website petition campaign created by  “C.H.” of Bogota, New Jersey accused the 47 signatories of ‘traitorous’ actions violating the 1799 Logan Act which  bars private persons, but not members of Congress, from conducting  foreign relations was simply a smokescreen. Ditto for the New York Daily News front page and editorial declaration published Tuesday. 

Two independent legal experts confirmed the Constitutional requirements for review of foreign treaties and Congressional executive agreements. Sen. Cotton’s letter also pointed out that any executive order signed by the President may not survive past the end of his term in 22 months and might be modified or terminated for cause by any successor. That raised a question of why the Memorandum of Understanding was non-binding. That provoked responses from both Foreign Minister Zarif and Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei.  While the latter railed in rhetoric about how the GOP initiative reflected “the disintegration of the U.S.” and why our representations can’t be trusted and laughing at the State Department citing Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism. It was left to Foreign Minister Zarif, to reveal that Congress wouldn’t have to approve anything saying: “The executive agreement was not bilateral but rather multi-lateral with the rest of the Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, subject to a resolution of the Security Council.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu wrote in a Jewish Press article published today, “U.N. Security Council’s lifting of sanctions and endorsement of a deal might make Congress irrelevant.” He then cites the observation of Omri Ceren, Communications Director for the Washington, DC-based The Israel Project:

The letter forced the Administration to explain why they’re icing Congress out of Iran negotiations, and now that explanation has ignited a firestorm. The administration looks like it intentionally chose a weaker, non-binding arrangement, rather than a treaty, to avoid Senate oversight

After we published our clarification of Sen. Cotton’s letter, our colleague Ken Timmerman wrote and thanked us for our piece. He said more would be revealed in his FrontPage Magazine, article published today, “Iran Deal Secrets Revealed – by Iran.”

Here are some excerpts from the Timmerman article.

On why Zarif said Congressional approval wasn’t required:

 That if the current negotiation with P5+1 result[s] in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.

Timmerman’s observation:

The Obama administration has told Congress that it won’t submit the nuclear agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, but now Zarif is saying that it will be submitted to the United Nations, to form the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution, presumably aimed at lifting UN sanctions on Iran.

That prompted Sen. Coker (R-TN) and Foreign Relations Senate Committee chair co-sponsor of The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 to write President Obama Thursday:

There are now reports that your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote.

Enabling the United Nations to consider an agreement or portions of it, while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would enable Congress to do the same, is a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’s appropriate role.

Timmerman then recounts the repeated Iranian violations of the interim Joint Plan of Action adopted in November 2013 and how the Administration has caved to Iran’s demands:

When the negotiations began, the U.S. was insisting that Iran comply with five United Nations Security Council resolutions and suspend all uranium enrichment. Now the discussion is on how many centrifuges Iran can spin, and more importantly, how many new generation (and more efficient) centrifuges Iran can install.

On issue after issue, it’s the United States – not Iran – that has given way. When Iran got caught violating the terms of the November 2013 agreement within the first two months, by enriching fresh batches of uranium to 20%, the United States pretended not to notice.

When the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran had produced fresh batches of 20% uranium on Jan. 20, 2014, no one called it a violation, highlighting instead Iranian steps to convert a portion of the 20% uranium into fuel rods for a research reactor.

Anyone who was been observing Iran’s nuclear cheat and retreat over the past twenty years recognizes the pattern: Iran is constantly pushing the limits, and when they get called out, they take a step backwards until they think we are no longer watching, when they do it again.

And we never punish them. Not ever.

Timmerman asked a rhetorical question and gave the obvious answer:

Can Obama legally circumvent Congress and go directly to the United Nations?

Undoubtedly, just as he could ignore multiple U.S. laws – and his own statements – that prevented him for granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens by Executive Order.

But if the Iranians really believe they can find sanctuary from Congress in Turtle Bay, former White House speech writer Marc Thiessen suggests they should think again.

“The US constitution trumps international law. The U.S. constitutional trumps the United Nations,” he told FoxNews anchor Megyn Kelly on Thursday. “The Supreme Court has actually ruled on this.”

It should be crystal clear to anyone observing the U.S.-Iran charade what Tehran wants from these talks: absolute victory over the United States.

Iran’s “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator himself, said it the day the November 2013 agreement was announced: “In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iran’s national will,” he tweeted victoriously.

So why is Iran engaging in this subterfuge?  It is all about achieving victory, meaning continuing the inevitable development of nuclear weapons, and having their financial sanctions lifted:

This is the deal-maker for the Iranian regime, the one thing they want so bad they actually will make concessions to achieve it.

But wait: even though the Iranians claim the sanctions are unjust, and that all the sanctions imposed over the past two decades must be removed instantaneously for a deal to be signed, that does not mean they will walk away if some sanctions stay in place.

“What they really care about are the financial sanctions,” an Iranian businessman familiar with the way the Tehran regime moves money told me. “As long as they can use and move dollars, the rest they don’t care about.”

Iran has lived so long with sanctions on dual use technology and weapons procurement that they have learned how to get around them. “They can get anything they want,” the businessman told me. “It may cost them 5 percent or 10 percent more, but they consider that the cost of doing business.”

So be prepared for a last minute, Hail Mary deal that will lift financial sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iranian promises not to build the bomb.

If such a deal will prevent or even delay a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East is anyone’s guess.

Remember, Sen. Cotton’s observation in a Tweet, after hearing Secretary Kerry’s testimony on Capitol Hill, Wednesday:

cotton tweet on iranEDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, second from right. Source: CNN September 2014.

Obama’s NPR Interview Raises Troubling Questions About Normalization of Relations with Iran

President Obama held a year end  interview with NPR’s  Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep on December 17, 2014 that aired on December 30th. During the interview Obama  was questioned about possible normalization of relations with Iran. He coyly said , “ I never say never.”  He also said  that he might like  to see the Islamic regime become  a “successful  regional power in the region.” All while the  P5+1 beavers away trying to conclude a nuclear deal with Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran, the last time we looked, is still called  a state sponsor of terrorism by the State Department  Read the transcript here.

This sounds like legacy building akin to his dramatic announcement of a renewal of relations with Communist Cuba.

Today’s  concerning remarks are in juxtaposition to his signing into law on December 19, 2014, The US Israel Strategic Partnership Act, H.B. 938  which passed after a year of debate by Congress allegedly deepening trade and military support for Israel. The Times of Israel reported:

Obama said his administration will interpret certain sections in a manner that does not interfere with his constitutional authority to conduct diplomacy. That includes a section requiring the administration to provide Congress with certain diplomatic communications.

The US-Israel Strategic Partnership Act increases the value of emergency US weaponry kept in Israel by $200 million, to a total of $1.8 billion. It promotes closer US-Israeli links in energy, water, homeland security, alternative fuel technology and cybersecurity.

It also offers a verbal guarantee of Israel maintaining a qualitative military edge over its neighbors.

The law also expands cooperation on research and development, business, agriculture, water management and academics.

Perhaps the December 19, 2014  signing of the US Israel Strategic Partnership Act was to bolster the Labor- Hatnua alliance in the March 17, 2015 snap election for a new Knesset. The leftist alliance position is that the right in Israel have abused the partnership with the US  through approval of settlement building authorizations undermining possible two state peace arrangements with the Palestinian Authority. Meanwhile the PA supported by Arab League  is rushing to file a resolution for a vote by the  UN Security Council  demanding a peace deal with Israel within a year for and the end of alleged Israeli occupation of the West Bank by 2017. The PA, the Arab League and sponsor of the proposed resolution, Jordan  have been  emboldened by the Recent actions of the European Parliaments and several EU member states passing symbolic Palestinian statehood resolutions. There has been an indication from Secretary Kerry that the US might veto the Palestinian resolution  as it might jeopardize  the March 2017 Israeli snap elections result. Meaning that Israeli leftist allies might hopefully form a new  ruling coalition more amenable to a peace deal . There have also been leaks that the US might threaten to  abstain from such a resolution. The PA believes it may have sufficient votes on the Security Council to pass such a resolution.

Today’s State Department Press Briefing evinced concerns over the President NPR interview in an exchange between Jeff Rathke, Director of the Department’s Press Office and AP’s Matt Lee who covers both the White House and State Daily Press Briefings.

Omri Ceren of The Israel Project in a post this evening drew attention to concerns over the President’s NPR interview comments and a recent wave of support in Washington among advocates for normalization of relations with the Islamic Republic. He  wrote:

He said two things about an Iran nuke deal that are getting talked about: (1) it “would serve as the basis for us trying to improve relations over time” beyond the nuclear issue and (2) it would allow Iran to become “be a very successful regional power.”

The AP’s Matt Lee asked about both of those at today’s briefing: whether negotiations are designed to “bring Iran back into the fold” and whether the White House would reverse 35 years of Iran policy “designed to keep it from becoming a successful regional power.

There’s a separate reason why the normalization comments are getting so much attention: pro-engagement advocates have been flooding the zone with the argument. Barbara Slavin from the Atlantic Council said on Friday that “a deal with [the] US would be transformative.” Robin Wright from the Wilson Center toldFace the Nation on Sunday that for the “first time in 35 years, Iran and United States are on the same page at the same time.”.

The push has raised some eyebrows, because the Iranians – including and especially Khamenei – have been saying the exact opposite and rejecting any possibility of post-deal normalization.

Since taking office, President Obama has written four letters to Ayatollah Khamenei. All have been dismissed by the Supreme Ruler. The fourth and latest ‘secret’ October  2014 letter suggesting that the US and Iran had common interests regarding the Islamic State came amidst P5+1 efforts to obtain a final agreement by the deadline of November 24, 2014. That failed  to interest Khamenei leading to  the P5+1 to set a new  date for June 2015. Obama was roundly criticized by both querulous Arab allies and Israeli PM  Netanyahu  as constituting appeasement of this state sponsor of terrorism. Joseph Puder in a FrontPage Magazine article on November 17, 2014 wrote:

Ayatollah Khamenei rejected Obama’s overtures for improved relations, and in the words of Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic, the latest letter smacks of “Obama chasing after Khamenei in the undignified and counterproductive manner of a frustrated suitor.”

Watch this C-Span Excerpt we prepared of the exchange between Rathke of State and AP’s Matt Lee:

Below is an excerpt from the transcript of today’s State Department Press Briefing:

Matt Lee: Well, no, I mean normally I would ask the people at the White House, since it was the President’s words. But is that this building’s understanding of the way the negotiations, the nuclear talks with Iran are going on? They’re not an end to themselves IE to get to get rid of any ability Iran might have to build a nuclear weapon, but they are actually aiming towards normalization of the sort that you are looking for, that the President is looking for with Cuba?

Jeff Rathke: Well I think I would encourage folks to read the entire text of the president’s interview in particular with respect to Iran. He was, in response to a question about the possible opening of a U.S. embassy, he said, “I never say never,” and then he proceeded to lay out the fact that right now the focus is on getting the nuclear issue resolved and that’s a question of whether Iran is willing to seize the opportunity that the nuclear talks represent. So, and then he describes that as the first big step and then there would then perhaps be a basis over time to improve relations. But I think reading the President’s answer to that question, it’s quite clear that the focus is on the nuclear negotiations and that is…

Matt Lee: But my question is that, given his comments, is the specific, the nuclear negotiation, is that just a part of what the administration hopes will be a broader reconciliation or rapprochement with Iran that ends up with normalization of relations by 2016 when the president leaves office?

Jeff Rathke: Well as the administration has said, we are not closing any doors, but our concerns on Iran are well-known and our focus now is on resolving the nuclear issue. There is a chance to do that but that’s a question of Iran taking that, taking that opportunity.

Matt Lee: Another thing he said in the interview on Iran is that if they went ahead and reached an agreement, if they got a deal, a nuclear deal, and if the Iranians actually comply, that Iran would be in a position to become a successful regional power and suggested that that’s something that the United States would like to see. And you guys have made no secret of the fact that it’s not just the nuclear issue that is a problem for you with Iran, that there are numerous other things including the fact that it is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world, as identified by you guys. I’m just wondering does the administration want to see Iran become a “successful regional power,” given the fact that since 1979, American foreign policy, with respect to Iran, has been designed to keep it from becoming a successful regional power, has been designed to keep it from exerting its strength over your or exerting pressure on your allies in the region, both Israel and the Arab states?

Jeff Rathke: Well, again, the President’s answer to the question and U.S. policy is focused on resolving the nuclear issue. That is our focus and that’s why we have the P5+1 talks going on.

Matt Lee: Well right, but then why bring all this other stuff in then? If the focus is just on the nuclear issue, why even broach the idea that you want to see Iran become a successful regional power and leave the door open to you know, normalization of relations to the point where you could open an embassy?

Jeff Rathke:  Well, I think the point is that Iran’s behavior is the factor that drives that, and it’s, Iran’s behavior needs to change, not only on the nuclear issue where we have been involved in the negotiation process, but in other respects as well.

Matt Lee: I get all that but I’m just wondering why, and I guess someone needs to ask the president why he answered the questions the way he did, to leave this thing open because it sounds as though that, it sounds as though the administration sees or at least he sees the nuclear negotiations as a path to bring Iran back into the fold, back into the fold and not just the United States, but…

Jeff Rathke: That’s not the way I interpret the transcript. I think it’s quite clear that focus is on dealing with the nuclear issue.

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

IDF arrests 100 Hamas Leaders after kidnapping of three Jewish boys

It hit us like a proverbial 2×4 this morning when we opened today’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) with a report on 100 Hamas leaders arrested yesterday by the IDF, “Israel Arrests Hamas Officials”. These arrests were in retaliation from the alleged Hamas kidnapping of three Jewish youths caught hitchhiking home five days ago from a yeshiva in the Gush Etzion bloc between Bethlehem and Hebron. See our Iconoclast post, “IDF Raids Seek an American and Two Israelis Allegedly Abducted by Hamas”.

Among those  the IDF detained was  Abdul Aziz Duwaik, speaker of the non-functioning Palestinian parliament and a University of Pennsylvania Architecture graduate.   Students  from the  University of California  at Irvine Olive Tree Initiative program purportedly met him by accident in the disputed territories back in 2009. We chronicled that in our NER article, “Does the Olive Tree Initiative Lack Credibility?”   This is not the first arrest for Duwaik as the IDF previously detained him in January 2012 in the wake of the October 2011 release by Hamas of former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held in captivity in Gaza since his capture by terrorists in 2006.  Duwaik had previously been detained by the IDF in 2006, when Shalit was originally abducted.

Investigations by local Orange County Zionist activists, among  them Deidre or “Dee” Sterling  and Debra Glazer, had revealed funding of the OTI program in part by an affiliate of the Orange County Jewish Federation, the Rose Project,  and the Chancellor of the UCAL University system. Those revelations of the chance encounter  with Duwaik raised contretemps over why a Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC)  was funding the OTI program that  put  UCIrvine students, both Jewish and not, in harm’s way during trips to the disputed territories.  A subsequent OTI trip included a visit to Ramallah to pay respects at the tomb of the late Fatah-PLO leader, Yassir Arafat.   In our NER article on the episode we noted:

The JFOC’s credibility problem surfaced from a response to a California Public Records Act (PRA) request by local activists from Ha’Emet. That information surfaced a “smoking gun” letter sent by JFOC President Elcott to UCI Chancellor Drake in October, 2009 revealing a meeting between OTI students and Hamas representative Duwaik. The JFOC leaders seized upon this letter as evidence that they had brought this to the attention of UCI administrators seeking an investigation. The JFOC leaders never informed the community.

In the JFOC letter the authors wring their hands about the fact that Jewish students on the 2009 OTI trip inadvertently met with a Hamas leader of the West Bank, Aziz Duwaik, on September 16th. The students were told by an unidentified person, presumably, the field co-coordinator for the OTI program, to say nothing while passing through Israel or upon arrival back in California, as it might look as if under our laws they were giving material assistance to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

As noted in a  FrontPage Magazine article, “The Patrons of Anti-Israelism”, U.Cal   Chancellor Yudoff also provided funds to OTI:

. . . only a matter of weeks after the Hamas meeting was made known to Drake, University of California Chancellor Mark Yudoff donated $5000 to the OTI via the Lumina Foundation for Education. This was followed in May 2010 with a $2000 award to the STUDENT LEADERS OF OTI by Yudoff for the university’s Presidential Leadership Award.

Sources tell us that the same OTI program leaders who perpetrated the 2009 encounter with Duwaik are still in charge at UCIrvine.  Further that UCIrvine graduate are conducting OTI program elsewhere in the UCAL university system.

Then there was Sheik Hassan Yousef, co-founder of Hamas in West Bank and father of the fabled Shin Bet double agent,  Mosab Hassan Yousef, subject of the 2010 bookSon of Hamas , and the  acclaimed 2014 Sundance Festival movieThe Green Prince.   We had contacted  the younger  Yousef in 2010 to facilitate  legal clinic aid to assist him in fighting a  Department of Homeland  Security  (DHS) immigration hearing that might have resulted in his being deported  back to Israel.  The immigration Judge dismissed the charges in a June 2010 decision granting Mosab asylum.  We noted in an Iconoclast post on the DHS immigration hearing decision:

The efforts of many, including his former Shin Bet handler, have been rewarded with this decision of the DHS. We had been an early advocate for Congressional investigation of this misinformed deportation matter.

Ha’aretz in a March 2010 report noted that Sheik Hassan has disowned his son Mosab when it was revealed that the latter had become an agent for Shin Bet. Mosab had  assisted  in conducting intelligence operations disrupting terrorist plans purportedly saving lives, both Israeli and Palestinians.   Part of the Sheik’s animus for doing this was Mosab’s public conversion to Christianity. The Ha’aretz article cited the Sheik’s message conveyed by letter while serving a six year term in an Israeli prison:

Hamas Web sites published a letter by Sheikh Hassan that the militant group said was smuggled out of the Israeli prison where he is serving a six-year sentence.

In the letter, he said his family announced its “complete renunciation of the one who was once our eldest son, who is called Mosab.” The father said though he was sorry to take such [a step], he had no choice after his son “disbelieved in God…and collaborated with our enemies.”

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

9/11 Museum Refuses to Censor Al-Qaeda Film

Deborah Weiss, Esq. is a regular contributor to FrontPage Magazine and the Washington Times. She is a contributing author to “Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Terrorist Network” and the primary writer and researcher for “Council on American Islamic Relations: Its Use of Lawfare and Intimidation”.  Ms. Weiss is also a 9/11 Survivor.  Her thoughts on the controversy reflect her unique views and expertise.  This article was originally published in Front Page Magazine.  We had posted on the controversy surrounding the seven minute film, The Rise of Al Qaeda in  an Iconoclast post, “Denying the Truth of Islamic Terrorism in the National 9/11 Memorial Museum Film”.   The 9/11 Memorial Museum opened yesterday in Manhattan.

Read this AP report of the emotions and remarks of survivors and families at the opening ceremonies for the 9/11 Museum. Among them was someone we have met, conferred and interviewed, David Beamer,. His son Todd was a Passenger on Flight 9/11, one of 43 on board the aircraft that fateful day, who valiantly undertook the first counter attack against the Al Qaeda jihadis to the cry of “let’s roll”. Beamer contributed  to the 9/11 Museum his late son’s watch recovered in the field of debris in Southwestern Pennsylvania with the time of impact sealed forever.

Amidst a barrage of controversy and criticism, the 9/11 museum officials stand firm in their decision to air a documentary on Al-Qaeda without censorship of Islam-related language.

The 911 Museum will open to the public on May 21, 2014, with a preview period for 9/11 families and survivors from May 15, 2014 to May 20, 2014.

Included is a 7-minute documentary titled, “[T]he Rise of Al-Qaeda.” It shows footage of Al-Qaeda’s journey over the prior several years on the way to 9/11, from its training camps to a series of terrorist attacks.  The film will be adjacent to a room displaying photos of the 9/11 hijackers.

The film portrays the 9/11 hijackers as “Islamists” who viewed their mission as a “deadly jihad.” After all, in the words of the hijackers: “[M]any thanks to Allah for his kind gesture and choosing us to perform the act of jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims.”  So, it was the hijackers themselves that believed they were on a jihadi mission for the cause of Islam.

The film has been thoroughly vetted and its accuracy is not in dispute.  But an advisory panel of interfaith clergy who previewed the film is complaining about the use of the words “Islamist” and “jihad,” insisting that the jihadists should be shown in a greater “context” that portrays most Muslims as peaceful.

Reverend Chloe Breyer (Justice Breyer’s daughter), who preaches at Saint Philips Church in Harlem, wants the video to show Islam as a peace-loving religion where only a few outliers like the 9/11 hijackers are violent.  She believes that the word “jihad” is an Islamic struggle to do good and that the film in its current form may justify bigotry or violence unless accompanied by a disclaimer.

Sheikh Mostafa Elazabawy, the only Imam on the advisory panel, made a splash when he quit the panel in response to the film, stating that “unsophisticated visitors who don’t understand the difference between Al-Qaeda and Muslims may come away with a prejudiced view of Islam, leading toward antagonism and even confrontation toward Muslim believers near the site.”  He went on to say that “the screening of the film in its present state would greatly offend our local Muslim believers as well as any foreign Muslim visitor to the museum.”

Akbar Ahmed, Chair of Islamic Studies at American University, protested that most museum visitors will assume that the language refers to all Muslims. He argues that one shouldn’t associate the terrorists with their religion because doing so implicates 1.5 billion Muslims by association.

John Esposito, an apologist for Islam at the Saudi-funded Prince Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University, generally prefers the phrase “Muslim terrorism” to “Islamic terrorism” in order to dissociate the motivating ideology from the terrorist behavior, and instead give the impression that the terrorist conduct is just coincidently committed by Muslims.

Others want the museum to go out of its way to show Muslims mourning over the 9/11 attacks to “balance out” images of Islam.  Ibrahim Hooper, spokesperson for CAIR, a group which holds itself out as a Muslim civil rights organization but which in reality has many terrorist ties of its own, insisted that the film will reinforce “stereotypes” of Muslims as terrorists.  He emphasized: “it’s very important how Islam is portrayed.”

But the film is not about Islam.  The purpose of the museum is to educate the public on the events of 9/11, including who committed it and what their motivation was.  The focus should be on the atrocity that murdered almost 3000 people in cold blood, not a PC version of feel-good Islam.

Joseph Daniels, the museum’s Executive Director, said that museum officials “stand by the scholarship that underlies the creation of this video.”  NBC News Anchor, Brian Williams, who narrates the film explained, “[w]e have a heavy responsibility to be true to the facts, to be objective.”  He asserted that the film in no way smears a whole religion, but instead talks about Al-Qaeda, a terrorist group.  And, the film clearly acknowledges that Muslims were among the 9/11 victims, mourners, and recovery workers.

So the issue is how the terrorists are characterized and whether the public can discern the difference between Al-Qaeda and those who identify themselves as Muslim but are peaceful and law-abiding.

First, it is a fact that Al-Qaeda’s interpretation of Islam motivated the 9/11 attacks.  To say that acknowledging Al-Qaeda’s motivational ideology indicts 1.5 billion Muslims is to say that all 1.5 billion Muslims agree with Al-Qaeda’s interpretation of Islam.  If they do, they should be indicted. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be offended because the statements don’t apply to them.

Second, it’s unlikely that the Imam on the advisory panel speaks for all local and foreign Muslims, whom he claims to know will all be offended.  If all Muslims should be painted with this broad brush, then the offense is deserved.  If they are not a monolith, they shouldn’t be offended. On the contrary, they should be insulted that some unknown Imam thinks they can’t handle the truth.

Third, to claim that 9/11 or any other Islamic terrorist attack was just terrorism that incidentally was committed by Muslims is just a lie.  It is the terrorists, not the reporters, who assert that they are motivated by their faith.  Those who disagree with the terrorists’ interpretation of their faith should take it up with the terrorists, not those observing and reporting the facts.  The same goes for terrorists who are members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Boko Haram, Hezbollah and others.

Fourth, CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror financing trial in the history of the United States and has many terrorism ties.  It is on a mission to stamp out all criticism of anything Islam-related, even if it’s true.  Indeed, there’s nary a terrorist that CAIR doesn’t defend.  Asserting that the 9/11 hijackers were Islamic terrorists is factual reporting, not “stereotyping.”  But CAIR wants the public to believe that anybody except for Muslims can be terrorists.  Besides, CAIR has no credibility and should not be given legitimacy by accommodating its gripes.

Fifth, the film is not a theological documentary about Islam; it’s about the events of 9/11. The documentary needn’t endorse or oppose Islam, nor evaluate the theological accuracy of the hijackers’ beliefs.  It merely reports what their beliefs were; how the hijackers viewed themselves.

Sixth, it is not the museum’s job to soothe the feelings of hypersensitive Muslims. The museum should not go out of its way to portray a disproportionate number of Muslim mourners or recovery workers to “balance” things out.

Seventh, it’s ludicrous to believe that the general public is so stupid that it can’t distinguish between Al-Qaeda members and law-abiding Muslims.  There is no reason to believe that learning about Al-Qaeda will lead the general citizenry to become bigots.

But even if it did, it is a falsity to claim that this bigotry would necessarily lead to actual violence.  There is no evidence whatsoever that so-called anti-Islam sentiment leads to violence.  This argument is disingenuously used to stifle criticism of Islam and shut down the debate.  On the contrary, it is primarily in the Muslim world where offense leads to violence.  It is “blasphemy” or insults to Islam that Muslims use to justify their violence, blaming the victims and evading personal responsibility.  But in the West, one can have an emotion, even hatred, without acting on it.  When someone does act violently, it’s illegal.  So, there is no basis to conclude that Islam-hating infidels will assault and batter Muslims at the 9/11 memorial site, which will also be heavily policed.

Most importantly, it’s critical that the motivation of the hijackers be accurately conveyed.  Their ideology must not be whitewashed, for fear of deleting history altogether, depriving future generations of an education regarding the largest terrorist attack on US soil, and increasing the likelihood that history will repeat itself.

Some 9/11 families and survivors believe that the truth should take priority over “sensitivity.”  The museum officials should be saluted for standing firm under a storm of criticism and for holding to the facts.

After all, only the truth shall set us free.

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

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in trouble over anti-Israel appointee?

On Monday there was an expose of the well regarded father of Ms. Samar Ali an accomplished American Muslim appointee of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. The expose published in Frontpage Magazine concerned Samar’s father, Dr. Subhi  Ali, an esteemed member of the local and state medical community, who practices in Waverly,Tennessee, “Samar Ali: Her Father’s Organization Wants to Destroy Israel”.

Dr. Ali is Chairman of The Jerusalem Fund in Washington, DC, a pro-Palestinian anti-Israel NGO promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the Jewish State of Israel seeking its destruction. David James, the author of the expose has limned his sources, the disclosures of which are sure to cause headaches for both Tennessee Gov. Haslam and Bill Hagerty the State Commissioner of Economic and Community Development. According to sources in Tennessee, Commissioner Hagerty, where Ms. Ali heads a state international trade office, is fighting the possibility of losing her talents and Middle East financial connections. Perhaps it may be intimidation from Muslim Advocacy groups who have penetrated the Haslam Administration Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

Samar Ali(1)

Samar Ali, Director TN Trade Department of Economic & Community Development

Back in June of 2012, we posted on Ms. Ali’s impressive background. She was the first American Muslim student council President at Vanderbilt University, a graduate of its Law School, and a White House Fellow in the Obama Administration.  She was also an associate at a Washington, DC law firm with a client list that included major Saudi and Emirate financiers with a specialization in the growing practice of Shariah compliant finance.

We noted the following in our post on Ms. Ali’s appointment.

In mid- May 2012 Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam appointed Samar Ali, a former White House fellow and member of the international Washington, DC – based law firm of Lovells & Hogan, LLC as international director of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development. The Nashville Post noted this in a May 12, 2012 article about Ms. Ali’s appointment:

Ali, who is from Waverly, will serve as international director. She joins ECD after serving as a White House Fellow and practicing corporate law at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., and Abu Dhabi. Her role will include overseeing TN Trade as well as ECD’s other international initiatives, including managing the operations of the state’s four international offices.

The White House website announcement provided further background on Ms. Ali when she was appointed a Fellow for the 2010-2011 class:

Samar Ali is an Associate with the firm Hogan Lovells US LLP.  She is responsible for counseling clients on mergers & acquisitions, cross-border transactions, Shari’a compliant transactions, project finance, and international business matters.  During her time with Hogan Lovells, she has been a founding member of the firm’s Abu Dhabi office.

[. . .]

While in Nashville, Samar led the YMCA Israeli-Palestinian Modern Voices for Progress Program, and is currently the transatlantic liaison for the development of the Palestine Diabetes Institute.  She is a founding member of the first U.S. Delegation to the World Islamic Economic Forum, and has served as an Advisory Board Member of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health.

Hogan Lovells’ website revealed how important and material their Shari’a compliant finance practice is:

Over the past four years, we have advised on more than 200 Islamic finance transactions with an aggregate deal value in excess of US $40 bn. Our team members are at the forefront of developments in the Islamic finance industry.

Governor Haslam defended his announcement of Ms. Ali’s appointment despite criticism from within Republican state party ranks. Note this exchange in a Knoxville News column of Nashville Bureau Chief Tom Humphrey in July 2012:

A resolution passed by the Stewart County Republican Party called Ali “an expert in Shariah Compliant Finance, which is one of the many ways Islamic terrorism is funded.” It also noted that she is a one-time appointee of President Barack Obama — she served in a White House fellowship program — and that her family has a long history of supporting the Democratic Party.

Speaking after his appearance before a congressional panel in Washington, Haslam said Ali is highly qualified for the state job and “we’re lucky to have her in Tennessee.”

Humphrey did a follow up column based on a Knoxville News interview with Ms. Ali in November 2012 where she dismissed the Anti-Muslim allegations, saying that, “such attacks were hurtful.” But she called them “silly and “untrue.”  Moreover as a student council president she had spoken out against ‘terrorism’ after 9/11. She was grateful for the support from Governor Haslam. Humphrey cited Clint Brewer, assistant commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development who called Ms. Ali “one of the brightest leaders of her generation from this state.”

“Her extensive work experience in international business makes her eminently qualified to serve the people of the Volunteer State,” he said.

She has been traveling the globe opening up state trade offices in the UK, Mexico, Germany, China and India to boost Tennessee exports by 10% per annum over five years. Her project is backed by a $616,000 Federal grant.

Not to be excluded from support for Ms. Ali’s appointment is the Nashville Jewish Federation. The Federation board penned a letter in 2012 to Governor Haslam applauding his decision.

ATCPJ Newsletter noted her father’s role as Chairman of The Jerusalem Fund. The Fund’s executive director Yousef Munayyer openly advocates BDS against Israel. It noted:

It seems the Jerusalem Fund’s anti-Israel bent has not wavered much since its founding. It’s very public advocacy for BDS against Israel makes this organization’s position question.

Does the Jewish Federation understand that the end goal of BDS is the delegitimization and destruction of the State of Israel?

The answer to that is no. With the revelations of FPM dossier piece accusing The Jerusalem Fund Chaired by Dr. Subhi Ali of advocating delegitimization of Israel the Nashville Jewish Federation will probably opt to remain silent. After all Dr. Subhi Ali and the leaders of the Volunteer Muslim community have ready access to both Capitol Hill and Metro government in Nashville. We are told that they have powerful friends in Washington, as well.

Will Ms. Ali think that the evidence of her father’s organization supporting BDS against Israel is “hurtful” to the Volunteer State’s Jewish community and Gov. Haslam’s Administration?  Somehow we doubt it. After all Gov. Haslam may want to take advantage of a Shariah compliant sukuk bond financing that  Ms. Ali’s Middle East financial connections would deem exemplary of ‘ethical investing’. Ethical investing with a portion of proceeds devoted to Zakat, Muslim Charity, which includes the way of Allah, Jihad.

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