Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Farcical 'Peace' Conference in Paris - P. David Hornik

by P. David Hornik

Last gasp of an old era?

The 70-nation conference on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in Paris on Sunday included neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives and was a farce and a fraud—but could have been still worse.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the conference represented the “last twitches of yesterday’s world. Tomorrow’s world will be different—and it is very near.”

It was, of course, one of the reasons the conference was farcical: although Secretary of State John Kerry was in attendance, he was representing an administration that is in its last five days in office, and whose policy of harassing Israel was—among much else—repudiated in the U.S. elections two months ago.

France, the host and convener of the conference, was hardly in a stronger position: the Socialist government of François Hollande is on its last leg and its path, too, is expected to be jettisoned in the upcoming French elections.

Israeli columnist Prof. Eyal Zisser notes that “in the actual Middle East…no one gives France a second thought and no one is taking its peace initiative seriously.” It was, after all, France that led the misguided Western assault on the defanged Qaddafi regime in Libya and reduced that country to jihadist chaos; and it is France that has sat impotently while its former colonies, Lebanon and Syria, have fallen under Hizballah rule in one case and into Hobbesian mayhem in the other.

And as David Harris has pointed out, France’s credentials as an honest broker on the Israeli-Palestinian issue are also less than sterling:

at the World Health Organization General Assembly in May…France voted in favor of a measure that bizarrely singled out Israel by name as the only country in the world accused of undermining “mental, physical and environmental health,” and…France could do no more than abstain at UNESCO in April on a resolution that denied any Jewish (and Christian) link to the holy sites in Jerusalem.

At Sunday’s conference, none of this prompted an ounce of humility on the part of Hollande and Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, or deterred them from drawing the de rigueur moral equivalency between Palestinian terror and Israeli home construction.

If this is what Netanyahu meant by the “last twitches of yesterday’s world”—a world in which the West has been obsessed for decades over Israeli home-building while its errant policies have helped turn the Middle East into crumbling chaos—then one can only hope Netanyahu’s optimism is not misplaced.

Foreign Minister Ayrault, however, went a step further.

It was on Saturday that Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, visiting the Vatican, issued a dire warning against moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, saying: “Any attempts at legitimizing the illegal Israeli annexation of the city will destroy the prospects of any political process, bury the hopes for a two-state solution, and fuel extremism in our region, as well as worldwide.”

If “fuel extremism in our region, as well as worldwide” sounds like a threat of terrorism, and an effort to get others to intimidate the incoming Trump administration out of transferring the embassy to Israel’s capital—that indeed is what it was.

A few hours later Osama Qawasmeh, a spokesman for Abbas’s Fatah movement, was more graphic, saying that if the embassy is moved “all chances for peace and stability will be lost. The gates of hell will be opened in the region and the world.”

And it was that chorus to which, at Sunday’s conference, the French foreign minister lent his voice, stating that moving the embassy would have “extremely serious consequences…. When you are president of the United States, you cannot take such a stubborn and such a unilateral view on this issue.” 

Translation: the “old world” insists that when it comes to Israel, the West’s role is to knuckle under to Arab and Muslim bullying, making Jerusalem the world’s only capital to be devoid of other countries' embassies. If this “old world” is truly on the way out, it cannot disappear soon enough.

So much for the deeply objectionable side of Sunday’s gathering. The event also yielded some relatively good news.

Israeli officials reportedly welcomed the fact that the conference’s final statement was much less harsh toward Israel than last month’s UN Security Council Resolution 2334, and “credited the efforts of [Israel’s] National Security Council and…Foreign Ministry” for achieving that result.

The officials also welcomed Kerry’s promise in a phone call to Netanyahu that the U.S. would rein in any further Security Council vilification of Israel—a promise to be tested in the administration’s waning days.

Also encouraging is that Britain, under Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative government, refused to sign the conference’s final statement, claimed it would merely “harden positions,” and said it had “particular reservations” about the lack of Israeli and Palestinian representatives—in other words, about the fact that the conference was an empty farce.

A new era in which conservative Western administrations, with the U.S. and Britain taking the lead, could treat Israel with diplomatic decency and take a clearer view of the Middle Eastern reality it deals with? Time will tell. 

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and author of the book Choosing Life in Israel. His memoir, Destination Israel: Coming of Age and Finding Peace in the Middle East, is forthcoming from Liberty Island later this year.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/265473/farcical-peace-conference-paris-p-david-hornik

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Spouting PLO statistics - Ze'ev Jabotinsky

by Ze'ev Jabotinsky

The PLO's successful psychological warfare has created deterrence among Israelis by disseminating lies about the unrealistic number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

Over the weekend, a billboard scare campaign was launched, featuring an Arabic sentence that translates as "Soon we'll be the majority." 

Despite the impression that this is a campaign by Hamas or the PLO, it turns out the message actually comes from Commanders for Israel's Security (a group of retired security agency officials that promotes diplomatic-security arrangements). Former Mossad head Danny Yatom told the media the campaign was designed to "stir up awareness that if we don't separate from the Palestinians, they will soon be the majority in the land between Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, and Israel will cease to be a Jewish, democratic state." 

The campaign rests on a pile of lies from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. The demographic balance Yatom and his friends are trying to use to frighten the Israeli public actually favors Jews, not Arabs. In the past, people have warned about the future threat of Jews becoming a minority in their own country. Back in 1898, Zionist thinker Simon Dubnov opposed Theodor Herzl's vision of a Jewish state, arguing that by the year 2000, no more than half a million Jews would be living in Israel. Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, was also faced with a prediction by experts, led by statistician Professor Roberto Baki, who warned against declaring the establishment of the state because, by the early 1960s, there would be an Arab majority in Israel. 

We don't yet have the final numbers for 2016, but we do for 2015, which show that 6.7 million Jews were living in Israel then, compared with some 1.75 million Arabs inside the Green Line and a similar number in Judea and Samaria -- some 3.5 million Arabs in total. That's a clear two-thirds majority for the Jews, to start with. That same year, the average birth rate among Jews in the western part of Israel caught up to that of the entire Arab population, both within and beyond the Green Line. We are seeing a decline in the Arab birth rate, not only in Israel, but in most Islamic countries, alongside an unusual and steady increase in the birth rate among the Jewish population of Israel, mainly because of the increasing secular Jewish population. 

The demographic situation is the opposite of what Yatom and his buddies are warning us of. More than a year ago, the trend reversed itself, meaning that the Jewish population will continue to grow, even leaving out immigration, which only bolsters the Jewish majority. Every year, over 15,000 more Arab residents leave Judea and Samaria than arrive, while 20,000 more Jews immigrate to Israel than leave it. 

The PLO's successful psychological warfare has created deterrence among Israelis by disseminating lies about the unrealistic number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria. It's very sad to see good people who used to command a vital system making use of the PLO's data, and in doing so become mouthpieces for psychological warfare against us by inculcating false numbers from an unreliable count. They seem to be doing it for political reasons. 

Ze'ev Jabotinsky

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=18179

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Out with the Old, In with the New - Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror

by Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror

Obama is leaving behind a world far more dangerous than the one with which he was entrusted as leader of the most powerful country on earth – a title he managed to seriously compromise.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 395

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: President Barack Obama has eroded the US's superpower status and is leaving behind a far more dangerous world than the one he inherited. A Trump administration gives Israel reason to be optimistic, although it must bear in mind that he is a very shrewd businessman.

One cannot help but admire the American public, which eight years ago elected Barack Obama as the country's first African-American president. The genuine elation and joy in the streets of New York City, where I was when he was sworn in, reflected the change American society had undergone.

Obama assumed office with a very solid worldview. He believed many of the challenges the US was facing globally stemmed from its forceful conduct and ability to impose its will on other nations. In his view, many of Washington's international failures stemmed from the fact that it had not tried to improve ties with its adversaries.

This drove Obama to visit the Middle East – not including Israel – in 2009 and deliver his famous Cairo speech. He believed that addressing the people from the heart would be reciprocated. This was also the logic that drove his attempt to promote a new rapport with Russia.

Eight years later, it is hard to say the world has repaid Obama in kind. The world is not a better, more democratic place; nor does it favor the US in any way. This is especially true in the Middle East, but the sentiment is shared elsewhere as well.

Moreover, the US rollback on its role in different regions has made its allies wary of their aggressive neighbors. This is so much the case that in some countries, there has been talk of replacing the dwindling American nuclear umbrella – by which the US, as a nuclear power, guarantees the protection of its non-nuclear allies – with independent atomic abilities. Should this become reality, it would spell a horrific nuclear race.

Obama is leaving behind a world far more dangerous than the one with which he was entrusted as leader of the most powerful country on earth – a title he managed to seriously compromise.

As far as Israel-US relations go, the eight-year Obama administration has been complex. On the one hand, Israel had a sympathetic ear in Washington with regard to its security needs. The landmark $38 billion defense aid package signed with the US, and the fact that Israel, of all nations, was the first to receive the state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jet, speaks to the American commitment to the Jewish state's security for decades to come.

The relationship between the Israeli and American intelligence agencies continues to be excellent, a state of affairs that would not be possible without direction from the White House. Israel has also received vital US backing in the international arena more than once.

Still, Washington and Jerusalem were at odds under Obama on four important issues.

The first was nuclear nonproliferation. In 2010, the administration failed to keep its promise to Israel and gave in to Arab demands for supervision of Israel's alleged nuclear capabilities. This was done as part of the American effort to maintain consensus at that year's nuclear nonproliferation conference in Vienna.

The Americans may not have explicitly admitted that they broke a promise to Israel in this regard, but they understood that it was perceived that way by Israel and the world. Judging from the limited foreign reports on the issue, Israel's complaints were justified. The US ultimately took action to help Israel overcome the difficulties incurred as a result of that mistake, but that blatant breach of promise made a dent on the collective Israeli consciousness, even if its overall effect has dimmed.

The second issue is the settlement enterprise. The outgoing administration turned settlement construction in Judea and Samaria into the key issue with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It was nothing short of an obsession, and the issue by which any progress would rise or fall.

Washington refrained from pressuring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in any way, even when he failed to agree to the 2014 US framework to reignite the talks. The US deemed Abbas too politically weak to be pressured, while any Israeli construction, in either Judea and Samaria or Jerusalem, was denounced as an obstacle to peace. The administration thereby lost an opportunity of possibly historic proportions to advance the peace talks, while the Israeli government – and a Likud government at that – was more willing than ever to promote it.

The dissonance in the administration's responses was so jarring that it eroded the effectiveness of US condemnation, as the majority of the Israeli public, and some around the world, began to perceive it as one-sided, unjust and unwise. Moreover, the way in which the Obama administration handled the issue of settlements made Abbas climb up a very tall tree. It will be hard for him to climb down from such a height toward future negotiations.

UN Security Council Resolution 2334 denouncing the settlement enterprise, passed in the last month of Obama's presidency, has only made things worse, and is likely to stall negotiations even further. The outgoing president appears to have decided to hinder his successor as much as possible, even at the expense of an interest he allegedly wants to promote. For anyone seeking to advance the peace talks, UNSCR 2334 is counterproductive. If anything, it will be remembered as a low point, the "revenge" of an administration purporting to be analytical and calculated.

Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry's Middle East vision speech, warning that Israel's settlement policies placed the two-state solution in "serious jeopardy," only exacerbated the feeling that the US administration's obsession with the issue has lost all proportion and clouded common sense.

The third issue of discord between Jerusalem and Washington was the Iranian nuclear program. Some would say this disagreement culminated in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress in March 2015, perceived as an affront to Obama on his own turf. Truth be told, the crisis was of the administration's making.

Contrary to how things are generally handled between allies, the White House made a conscious choice to deceive Israel and conceal the fact that it was holding intensive nuclear negotiations with Iran – an issue that has direct bearing on Israel's very existence.

This move was especially jarring as it involved a dramatic shift in US policy, which resulted in a very bad deal. Even those who believe the deal is solid have a hard time justifying the winding road walked by the US administration to reach it – even more so when some top officials within the administration itself thought it was wrong to hide the talks from Israel.

Choosing this path cost the US Israel's trust, good will, and, to an extent, professional assistance, which could have reduced the scope of error inherent in the agreement. The American claim that things were kept secret for fear of a leak on the Israeli side does not hold water, as nothing had been leaked from intimate Israel-US talks on the issue prior to the US's deviation off course.

The new reality presented by the administration required Netanyahu to outline Israel's position in the clearest possible way, especially before the American public, which is Israel's most important friend. Issues pertaining directly to the fate of the Jewish people must be addressed out loud, and it is right to do so in the highest seats of power. As Kerry himself said, friends must tell each other the truth.

Netanyahu had to consider that the bad deal inked between world powers and Iran might one day require Israel to use force to stop the Islamic Republic's nuclear program from developing military dimensions. He had to lay the moral groundwork that would justify such extreme measures.

This need stemmed from the change in US policy, which went from demanding that Tehran relinquish any nuclear ability to deferring the development of such abilities by 15 years at most, and allowing Iran to continue to develop the next generation of centrifuges and missiles without interruption.

Top US officials stress that the quality of defense ties is proof of the Obama administration's strong support of Israel, but to the president's opponents, it sounds more like an effort to justify undercutting Israel on the Palestinian issue and on Iran's nuclear program.

The fourth issue at odds is the chaos in the Middle East. This was particularly evident after the 2011 ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, when the Obama administration favored the Muslim Brotherhood's Muhammad Morsi as the representative of authentic sentiments among the Egyptian people over the military's countercoup.

Israel preferred Egypt not be ruled by the radical ideology propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood, even if the alternative was Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, who maintains an iron grip on Egypt as president. In this case, the lack of consensus between Washington and Jerusalem over the dangers of political Islam was at the heart of their dispute.

The American approach is ideological, in that it refuses to recognize that radical Islam is an authentic side of Islam. The very phrase "Islamic terrorism" was stricken from the politically correct vocabulary employed by Washington during the Obama years.

As to the incoming administration: as far as one can understand its positions on these issues, it appears that with regard to settlement construction and Iran's nuclear program, Israel is likely to find a far more sympathetic ear. Many of Trump's advisers understand that it is not the settlement enterprise that has prevented Abbas from resuming negotiations with Israel, so there is no point in locking horns over that issue. Instead, efforts should focus on measures that could reignite the peace talks – if that is even possible. Abbas will have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. He will have to take concrete steps, from halting the Palestinian Authority's financial support of terrorists' families to eliminating the incitement encouraged by Ramallah.

In this context, it is very important that Trump fulfill his campaign promise to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This would be a clear signal of US commitment to Israel and recognition of Jerusalem (or the west side of it at least) as its capital. After the outgoing administration's stunt at the Security Council and Kerry's settlement speech, the decision to move the embassy to the Israeli capital will carry even greater significance.

With regard to Iran, many in the incoming administration seem to believe the nuclear deal is as bad for the US as it is for Israel. The US is expected to pursue three paths of action: exhausting measures outside the framework of the agreement, such as imposing sanctions on the Iranian missile program and over the fact that it supports terrorism; holding Tehran to the letter of the agreement far more adamantly than did the outgoing administration; and collaborating with Israel on options by which Iran would be unable to pursue nuclear weapons after the deal lapses, even if that means reopening the deal.

It is not up to Israel to push for the annulment of the dangerous Iran deal, to which the outgoing administration committed itself. The US must do so to serve its own interests. Moreover, Iran is a dynamic force in the Middle East, one in the midst of tightening its control over an axis stretching from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus and Beirut. Unless Tehran is stopped, most of the Arab nations east of the Mediterranean will fall under its influence one way or the other.

This would be a historic change that would seriously undermine America's traditional allies, pushing many Sunnis into IS-style radicalism. This is another issue where collaboration between the US and Israel would be key, and it could involve the Sunni Arab states seeking regional stability. It might even be possible to pursue a more far-reaching move that would see the Palestinians enter negotiations as well.

As a guiding principle, ties between Israel and the Trump administration will have to be based on Israel-US relations going back decades. The two will have to determine what new areas of collaboration would prove most beneficial to both.

Understandings will have to be reached to bring about a breakthrough in ties between the two countries. The cyber sphere is one area in which such understandings are likely to reached. This will not be the only area, of course, but Israel should focus its efforts on improving the issues most important to it and refrain from scattering its interests.

It is generally believed that once in office, Trump will break rules, abandon politically correct practices, and act from his gut, in stark contrast to his predecessor. Although it is too soon to judge, the incoming president's instincts seem to be more Israel-friendly than those of his predecessor – although we would be wise to remember that he is also a shrewd businessman.

This is an edited version of an article that appeared in Israel Hayom on January 13, 2017.
PDF Version

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family.

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror is the Anne and Greg Rosshandler Senior Fellow at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He is also a distinguished fellow at JINSA's Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy.

Source: https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/amidror-out-with-the-old/

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Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooter Converted to Islam Before He Joined Army - Robert Spencer

by Robert Spencer

Why wasn’t he stopped?

It has now been definitively established that Esteban Santiago, who opened fire in the baggage claim area of the Fort Lauderdale Airport on January 6, murdering five people, was a convert to Islam who took the name Aashiq Hammad, downloaded jihadist material and recorded himself singing the Islamic confession of faith. The universal mainstream media indifference to these facts is yet another indication of how the prevailing denial and willful ignorance about the jihad threat is hamstringing our opposition to it.

The new revelations came after it was discovered that Santiago/Hammad had told the FBI, in a bizarre incident, that he was being forced to fight for the Islamic State (ISIS). He was also photographed making the one-finger sign that signifies one’s adherence to Islamic monotheism, and which has come to be associated with allegiance to ISIS.

Santiago’s aunt, Maria Ruiz Rivera, claimed that it was all about his mental problems: after he served in the U.S. army in Iraq, she said, “He lost his mind.” But this only raises a larger question: why was he able to join the army in the first place, since Santiago’s enlistment came after his Muslim alter ego, Aashiq Hammad, had downloaded jihad propaganda?

The obvious answer is that to bar him from the army on those grounds would have been “Islamophobic.” Recall that the Fort Hood jihad mass murderer, army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, had been in repeated contact with jihad mastermind Anwar al-Awlaki. But when the FBI agent who was monitoring Hasan’s communications reported these contacts to his superiors, they told him again and again that they had no interest. After the agent persisted, he was told that the bureau “doesn’t go out and interview every Muslim guy who visits extremist websites.”

Why not?

Hasan, in any case, remained on active duty until, screaming “Allahu akbar,” he massacred 13 people at Fort Hood on November 5, 2009.

Esteban Santiago was likewise not stopped. Nor was he by any means singular in this. After an Islamic jihadist set off bombs in New York City and New Jersey in September 2016, the New York Post reported: “It happened again: The FBI had the future Chelsea bomber on its radar — for a while, anyway — but let him slip through. Just as officials had done with men who became the perps in at least eight other terror attacks.”

Terror researcher Patrick Poole, who for years has tracked what he has dubbed the “known wolf” phenomenon – that is, jihad attacks perpetrated by people who were known to authorities who had turned a blind eye to the threat they posed – details one incident that is as disquieting as it is emblematic:

When the problem of terror recruitment amongst the U.S. Somali community by al-Shabaab became an issue in 2008 and 2009, there were reports in my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, which has the second largest Somali population in the country, that al-Shabaab operative Dahir Gurey was fundraising and recruiting for the terrorist group in the area. He later showed up in Minneapolis.
When we told the FBI about it, the response was that our information couldn’t be accurate, because if it were true they would have heard about it from their local Muslim outreach partners.
This indicates a level of credulity on the part of law enforcement authorities that is truly breathtaking. Many who are aware of the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat blandly assume that officials parrot the party line about Islam being a religion of peace and “extremism” being a problem among people of all faiths in public, but in private are aware of the jihad threat and working to counter it. Poole’s account, however – and there are many other similar accounts – shows that they really believe the nonsense they purvey in public.
The establishment media, meanwhile, is no better. Three days after the Aashiq Hammad story broke, ABC News reported, in the 26th paragraph of a story about the Fort Lauderdale shooting, that “since the attack, investigators recovered his computer from a pawn shop, and the FBI is examining it to determine whether the alleged shooter created a jihadist identity for himself using the name Aashiq Hammad, according to officials familiar with the case.” That’s it, as far as the mainstream media is concerned.

Imagine, in order to put this into perspective, imagine if Santiago had put up a webpage some years ago indicating that he had joined the KKK, and had downloaded white supremacist literature. Do you think the establishment media would be so indifferent to this as a possible indication of a motive for the Fort Lauderdale Airport shootings? Neither do I.

Esteban Santiago/Aashiq Hammad could have been stopped before he killed anyone. But that would have required an entirely different culture within law enforcement and the media. If such a sea change is not forthcoming, there will be many more Aashiq Hammads.

Robert Spencer

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/265467/fort-lauderdale-airport-shooter-converted-islam-he-robert-spencer

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Trump proposes dropping Russia sanctions in exchange for nuclear arms deal - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

Trump has put Europe on notice that they have a brand new negotiating partner

Donald Trump told the London Times in an interview that he was willing to entertain the idea of swapping the removal of sanctions on Russia imposed after their annexation of Crimea for a nuclear arms reduction treaty.

He also called NATO "obsolete" for its failure to address the problem of terrorism, and called Brexit "a great thing."

But Trump, who will be inaugurated on Friday as the 45th U.S. president, raised the prospect of the first big nuclear arms control agreement with Moscow since the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed by President Barack Obama in 2010.
"They have sanctions on Russia — let’s see if we can make some good deals with Russia," the Republican president-elect was quoted as saying by The Times.
"For one thing, I think nuclear weapons should be way down and reduced very substantially, that’s part of it. But Russia’s hurting very badly right now because of sanctions, but I think something can happen that a lot of people are gonna benefit."
The United States and Russia are by far the world's biggest nuclear powers. The United States has 1,367 nuclear warheads on deployed strategic missiles and bombers, and Russia has 1,796 such deployed warheads, according to the latest published assessment by the U.S. State Department.
Under the 2010 New START treaty, Russia and the United States agreed to limit the number of long-range, strategic nuclear weapons they can deploy.
Trump has said he will seek to improve relations with Moscow despite criticism that he is too eager to make an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The United States and other Western powers imposed sanctions on Russia in 2014 over its annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine and its support for pro-Russia separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Asked whether he would trust German Chancellor Angela Merkel or Putin more, Trump said: "Well, I start off trusting both --but let’s see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all."
Many of Trump's foreign policy positions had been talked about during the campaign, including his view that NATO is obsolete. But this is his first hint of how he might approach negotiating with Vladimir Putin.
In the interview with The Times, Trump was also critical of Russia's intervention in Syria's civil war which, along with the help of Iran, has tilted the conflict in President Bashar al-Assad's favor.
"I think it's a very rough thing," Trump said of Russian intervention in Syria. "Aleppo has been such a terrible humanitarian situation."
The war has killed more than 300,000 people, created the world's worst refugee crisis and aided the rise of the Islamic State militant group.
On NATO, Trump repeated his view that the military alliance was obsolete but said it was still very important for him.
"I took such heat, when I said NATO was obsolete," Trump told The Times, referring to comments he made during his presidential election campaign. "It’s obsolete because it wasn’t taking care of terror. I took a lot of heat for two days. And then they started saying Trump is right."
Trump said many NATO member states were not paying their fair share for U.S. protection.
“A lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair to the United States," Trump said. "With that being said, NATO is very important to me. There’s five countries that are paying what they’re supposed to. Five. It’s not much."
The idea that Trump is a tool of Russia - as hinted at by Democrats - is a product of the hysteria generated by Trump's victory. It's irrational to believe such nonsense but that won't stop Trump's opponents from trying to make the ridiculous sound reasonable. 

But at the same time, the idea that Putin would trade sanctions relief for a nuclear arms reduction is a non starter. The sanctions aren't bitting the Russian economy as much as they could have. They are mostly aimed at individuals in Putin's inner circle with restrictions on foreign bank accounts and travel. 

And why should Putin look to reduce nuclear arms when he's spending billions to modernize them? Unless Trump is ready to give away the store and allow Russia's modernization while curbing efforts by the US to improve our own arsenal, Putin probably won't bite.

That said, Trump may be trying to light a fire under NATO by calling it "obsolete." NATO is alliance in search of a reason for being and getting NATO members to think about the future of the alliance can only be a good thing.

Trump has put Europe on notice that they have a brand new negotiating partner who is taking an entirely different approach to transatlantic relations than his predecessor.

Rick Moran

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2017/01/trump_proposes_dropping_russia_sanctions_in_exchange_for_nuclear_arms_deal.html

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'Nothing Abbas can do to block US embassy move to Jerusalem' - David Rosenberg

by David Rosenberg

Minister mocks threats by Palestinian Authority over planned move of US embassy to Jerusalem. 'They're shooting themselves in the head.'

Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Hadas Parush/Flash 90
While the Palestinian Authority has issued repeated warnings against the planned relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the Israeli capital of Jerusalem, one Likud minister said the threats amounted to little more than a storm in a tea cup.

Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi spoke with reporters on Monday regarding the dire warnings of violence and regional destabilization made by senior PA leaders, mocking them as empty threats.

Last week, a spokesperson for PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction warned that relocating the US Embassy to Jerusalem would “open the gates of hell” – the latest effort by PA leaders to deter the incoming Trump administration from making good on the campaign’s promise vis-à-vis the embassy.

Abbas himself warned moving the embassy would “bury” hopes for peace and “fuel extremism” worldwide. The Palestinian Authority leader has reportedly lobbied Russian President Vladimir Putin to intercede on his behalf with Trump and to dissuade him from implementing the move.

But Hanegbi ridiculed the PA’s efforts, adding that warnings of dire consequences were utterly baseless.
"What can they do? What can they do? There are not going to be any consequences."

The Likud minister also pushed back on suggestions the Palestinian Authority itself could instigate a new intifada as retribution for moving the embassy.

"This is not a threat. This is shooting themselves in the head," Hanegbi said. "I don't think Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas’ alias] has an interest to open an intifada, I don't think the Palestinians would like another intifada."

Hanegbi said he did not expect a "domino effect," and that most other countries would keep their embassies in Tel Aviv.

"It is a decision reflecting the special relationship between Israel and the United States. It is not going to be a domino effect."

AFP contributed to this report.

David Rosenberg

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/223360

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Is Tolerance a One-Way Street? - Douglas Murray

by Douglas Murray

The entire world press has internalised what happened at Charlie Hebdo and instead of standing united, has decided never to risk something like that ever happening to them again.

  • When just about every other magazine in the free world fails to uphold the values of free speech and the right to caricature and offend, who could expect a group of cartoonists and writers who have already paid such a high price to keep holding the line of such freedoms single-handed?
  • Most of the people who said they cared about the right to say what they wanted when they wanted, were willing to walk the walk -- to walk through Paris with a pencil in the air. Or they were willing to talk the talk, proclaiming "Je Suis Charlie." But almost no one really meant it.
  • If President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel had really believed in standing up for freedom of expression, then instead of walking arm-in-arm through Paris together with such an inappropriate figure as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, they would have held up covers of Charlie Hebdo and said: "This is what a free society looks like and this is what we back: everyone, political leaders, gods, prophets, the lot can be satirised, and if you do not like it then you should hop off to whatever unenlightened hell-hole you dream of."
  • For the last two years, we have learned for certain that any such tolerance is a one-way street. This new submission to Islamist terrorism is possibly why, in 2016, when an athlete with no involvement in politics, religion or satire was caught doing something that might have been seen as less than fully respectful of Islam, there was no one around to defend him.
The 7th of this month marked two years to the day since two gunmen walked into the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and murdered twelve people. This period also therefore marks the second anniversary of the period of about an hour during which much of the free world proclaimed itself to be "Charlie" and attempted, by walking through the street, standing for moments of silence or re-tweeting the hashtag "Je Suis Charlie" to show the whole world that freedom cannot be suppressed and that the pen is mightier than the Kalashnikov.

So two years on is a good time to take stock of the situation. How did that go? Did all those "Je Suis" statements amount to anything more than a blip on the Twitter-sphere? Anyone trying to answer such a question might start by looking at the condition of the journal everyone was so concerned about. How has it fared in the two years since most of its senior editorial staff were gunned down by the blasphemy police?

A Paris rally on January 11, 2015, after the Charlie Hebdo attack, featuring "Je Suis Charlie" signs. (Image source: Olivier Ortelpa/Wikimedia Commons)
Not well, if a test of the magazine's wellbeing is whether it would be willing to repeat the "crime" for which it was attacked. Six months after the slaughter, in July 2015, the new editor of the publication, Laurent Sourisseau, announced that Charlie Hebdo would no longer publish depictions of the Prophet of Islam. Charlie Hebdo had, he said, "done its job" and "defended the right to caricature." It had published more Muhammad cartoons in the issue immediately after the mass murder at their offices and since. But, he said, they did not need to keep on doing so. Few people could have berated him and his colleagues for such a decision. When just about every other magazine in the free world fails to uphold the values of free speech and the right to caricature and offend, who could expect a group of cartoonists and writers who have already paid such a high price to keep holding the line of such freedoms single-handed?

Now, at the second anniversary of the atrocity, one of the magazine's most prominent figures, Zineb El Rhazoui, has announced that she is leaving the magazine. El Rhazoui, who has been described as "the most protected woman in France" because of the security detail she receives from the French state, has announced that Charlie Hebdo has gone "soft" on Islamic radicalism. She told Agence France-Presse that "Charlie Hebdo died on [7 January 2015]." The magazine had previously had a "capacity to carry the torch of irreverence and absolute liberty" she said. "Freedom at any cost is what I loved about Charlie Hebdo, where I worked through great adversity.'

Of course, El Rhazoui is an unusual person. And a scarce one in twenty-first century Europe. Which is why she needs the security detail. Most of the people who said they cared about the right to say what they wanted when they wanted, about everything and anything -- including one particularly stern and unamused religion -- were willing to walk the walk: that is, they were willing to walk through Paris with a pencil in the air. Or they were willing to talk the talk, proclaiming "Je Suis Charlie." But almost no one really meant it. If they had, then -- as Mark Steyn pointed out -- those crowds in Paris would not have been parading through the streets holding pencils, but holding cartoons of Mohammed. "You're going to have to get us all" would have been the message.

And ditto the leaders. If President François Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel had really believed in standing up for freedom of expression, then instead of walking arm-in-arm through Paris together with such an inappropriate figure as Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, they would have held up covers of Charlie Hebdo and said: "This is what a free society looks like and this is what we back: everyone, political leaders, gods, prophets, the lot can be satirised, and if you do not like it then you should hop off to whatever unenlightened hell-hole you dream of. But Europe is not the continent for you."

Instead, in the two years since those gestures, European society went quiet. Of course, there have been regular opportunities to display the modern idea of virtue, often using Charlie Hebdo as the punching bag. Since being alerted to the existence of the magazine by the gunmen, the censorious types who now fill our societies (and who probably do not even buy or read magazines) nevertheless regularly send out social media messages objecting to things to which they have been alerted within the magazine.

So it is that a rude and satirical magazine has found itself repeatedly judged by the humourless morality police of our day and often deemed to be insufficiently reverential about various world events. A Charlie Hebdo cartoon about the Cologne New Year's Eve sexual assaults was deemed in poor taste. Elsewhere, the publication's response to an earthquake in Italy failed to hit the single acceptable note in the eyes of some non-readers. Likewise the crash of a Russian jet and other stories that were considered to lack appropriate piety.

Meantime, we are in a situation, as the British author Kenan Malik said of the period after the Satanic Verses affair, of having "internalised" the atrocity. The entire world press -- perhaps especially, in free countries -- has internalised what happened at Charlie Hebdo, and instead of standing united has decided, quietly and in the privacy of their own offices, never to risk something like that ever happening to them again. This new submission to Islamist terrorist demands is possibly why, in 2016, when an athlete with no involvement in politics, religion or satire was caught doing something that might have been seen as less than fully respectful of Islam, there was no one around to defend him. Even the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, asked in the House of Commons to stand up for the right of an athlete not to have his career destroyed because of one fleeting, drunken joke, equivocated:
"This is a balance that we need to find. We value freedom of expression and freedom of speech in this country -- that is absolutely essential in underpinning our democracy.
"But we also value tolerance to others. We also value tolerance in relation to religions. This is one of the issues that we have looked at in the counter-extremism strategy that the Government has produced.
"I think we need to ensure that yes it is right that people can have that freedom of expression, but in doing so that right has a responsibility too -- and that is a responsibility to recognise the importance of tolerance to others."
For the last two years, we have learned for certain that any such tolerance is a one-way street. Our societies had been walking up it. But from the other direction came the Kalashnikov brigade who only had to fire once; in the face of it, the whole civilised world chose to U-turn and run back the other way. Allah's blasphemy police would be foolish not to push the advantage that such capitulation gives their cause over the months and years ahead.

Douglas Murray, British author, commentator and public affairs analyst, is based in London, England.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/9753/tolerance

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The Global Warming Smoking Gun - Norman Rogers

by Norman Rogers

According to the promoters of global warming, doubters are like the people who put Galileo on trial, or the people who think the Earth is flat.

The global warming narrative is straightforward. Carbon dioxide, (CO2), released by burning coal, oil and natural gas, is increasing in the atmosphere. The increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause the globe to warm. The warming will create numerous bad effects. Therefore, we must reduce the emissions of CO2 by switching to green energy such as windmills, solar power and crops that can be burned for energy.

The global warming idea has caught on, at least in left-leaning circles. Millions of people believe that global warming is solid science. If you doubt the global warming idea, you will be accused of not believing in science. According to the promoters of global warming, doubters are like the people who put Galileo on trial, or the people who think the Earth is flat.

The global warming narrative consists of assertions, supposedly based on science, and proposed actions that will avert the (purported) disaster. The narrative is very fragile and is susceptible to collapse if the assertions or proposed actions are faulty.

There are a lot of faults in the narrative. For example, the alternative energy proposed is too expensive by an order of magnitude. Carbon dioxide increase could be stopped by switching coal electricity to nuclear electricity because it is only necessary to reduce CO2 emissions by about half, because the other half of the CO2 emitted disappears into the ocean. (See this.) But, most of the global warmers hate nuclear, so nuclear is not on the menu.

The global warming program to reduce CO2 emissions and change the world’s energy sources is a political impossibility because China and India are not going to participate beyond selling windmills to us and to the Europeans. China burns 4 times as much coal as we do.

Then, it is not clear that warming is a bad thing. It might be very beneficial. Some of the supposed bad effects, such as the oceans rising and flooding the coasts, are so silly as to be not deserving of refutation. It is well-established that adding CO2 to the atmosphere helps agriculture, because plants grow better, with less water, in an atmosphere with enhanced CO2.

The most vulnerable item in the global warming narrative is the assertion that CO2 is going to cause substantial warming. It is not unreasonable to expect CO2 to create warming. The real question is how much. The high priests of global warming, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, say that doubling the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere will raise the average global temperature by 3 degrees Celsius or 5+ degrees Fahrenheit. The scientific basis for this claim is extremely shaky. The claim is based solely on computer models of the Earth’s atmosphere.

A perspective on the climate models from a prominent scientist, Kevin Trenberth, who is allied with the global warmers, can be seen here. He says there is a lot wrong with the models and the IPCC is not actually making predictions with the models.

The climate models include many approximations and assumptions that are not necessarily well grounded in atmospheric physics. As a result, there are many adjustable parameters the value of which must be set by a “tuning” process. The tuning is accomplished by running the models against the past, adjusting the parameters to make the model output agree with the known past climate. The past climate is also not well known in many respects, so estimating is used, and different modelers have different past climate estimates. The great danger is that the model may be tuned to agree with the past but then fail to predict the future. This can happen if the model is based on faulty assumptions, but that there is enough spare adjusting capacity inherent in the parameters so that the model can be forced to agree with the past even though the model is faulty.

The situation with the climate models used by the IPCC is that they cannot be made to even agree with the past climate. The illustration below is from the 2013 report of the IPCC (AR5: ). It plots the climate temperature observations against the averaged output of the various models used by the IPCC. There are two areas of serious disagreement illustrated by added annotation. From 1910 to 1940 the Earth warmed strongly, but the models do not generate a match to that warming. The other area of disagreement is the period starting in 1998 when global warming stopped, called the “Hiatus” or the “Pause.” The models project global warming continuing, not stopping in 1998.

The climate models attribute the strong warming trend from 1975 to 1998, the late 20th century warming, to the influence of CO2 (and minor greenhouse gases). However, the very similar warming from 1910 to 1940, the early 20th century warming, cannot be blamed on CO2 because in that less industrialized time there was not enough increase in CO2 to account for more than a tiny part of that warming. Although there are plenty of theories, the cause of the early 20th century warming is unknown. Some modelers incorporate speculative theories to try to make their models better match observations. But, the average of the models still cannot fit to the early 20th century warming. The obvious important question is how do we know the late 20th century warming was caused by CO2 and not by the same unknown force that caused the early 20th century warming?

The inability to explain the early 20th century warming, and the real probability that the late 20th century warming may be forced by factors other than CO2, constitute a smoking gun type of evidence, casting doubt on the predictions of global warming forced by CO2. Doubt concerning the viability of the climate models is further reinforced by the lack of warming during the last 18 years, the Hiatus.

What other forces may be driving the Earth’s climate? Exchange of heat with the oceans can potentially have a large effect on climate. Vast quantities of cold, salty water sink to the bottom of the ocean in the polar regions. That sinking water tends to warm the Earth because cold water is removed from the surface environment. However cold water is upwelling to the surface in various places. That cools the Earth. In the short term the sinking and up welling are not necessarily in balance, resulting in net storage or net emission of cold water from the subsurface ocean. The promoters of global warming try to use ocean heat storage to explain model failure. The ocean can “explain” any failure of the models. But, that is speculation because there are not good observations of the interchange of heat between the atmosphere and the oceans. The ocean influence cuts both ways, explaining away the model failures, or else providing an alternative, non-CO2, explanation for the warming and cooling of the Earth.

The sun may have an effect on the Earth’s climate not acknowledged by the models. It is known the sun has various cycles, the 11-year sunspot cycle being most prominent. It is known that an exceptionally cold period from 1645 to 1715, the Maunder Minimum, was accompanied by the near absence of sunspots. But good measurements of the sun only began in the satellite era, so we have a lack of knowledge concerning the effect of the sun. The Danish physicist, Henrik Svensmark, has a pretty good theory suggesting that cycles in the strength of the sun’s magnetic field modulate the arrival of cosmic rays to the Earth and the cosmic rays provide nuclei for the formation of cloud droplets. Clouds affect climate.

The pacific decadal oscillation changes the temperature of parts of the Pacific Ocean about every 30 years. It was only discovered in the 1990’s by a biologist investigating variation in the Alaska salmon catch. That and a similar oscillation in the Atlantic are probably driven by ocean circulation and may drive climate. There may be, and probably are, forces driving climate that are yet to be discovered.

As one professor said, to err is human, but to really foul up you need a computer.

Norman Rogers writes often about environmental issues. He has a website.

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/01/the_global_warming_smoking_gun.html

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Paris buried 'Palestine' and UN SC Council Resolution 2334 - David Singer

by David Singer

There is a simple way to achieve the two-state resolution: One Jewish State – Israel – and one Arab State – Jordan – in the territory covered by the Mandate for Palestine.

72 States and Organizations who met in Paris on 15 January repudiated Security Council Resolution 2334 (“UNSCR 2334”) - just three weeks after it was passed on 23 December 2016.

UNSCR 2334 had reiterated the Security Council’s:

“vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace within secure and recognized borders,” 

The final Paris communique dumped this “two democratic states solution” by reaffirming:

“that a negotiated solution with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, is the only way to achieve enduring peace.”

The word “democratic” was in fact omitted in the Paris communique in nine places – signalling that Paris did not accept the definitive terms of the “two-state solution” proposed by the Security Council.

The Paris communique deliberately sought to mislead and deceive what UNSCR 2334 had actually stated – declaring the Participants:

“welcomed international efforts to advance Middle East peace, including the adoption of United Nations Security Council resolution 2334 on 23 December 2016 which … called on both sides to take steps to advance the two-state solution on the ground ;

- blatantly failing to identify that it was the “two democratic states solution” that was envisioned in UNSCR 2334.

Paris went even further in attempting to gloss over the obligation for any Palestinian State to be democratic - the communique noting:

 “the importance of addressing the dire humanitarian and security situation in the Gaza Strip and called for swift steps to improve the situation.”

No mention about addressing the absence of democracy in Gaza - where Hamas has denied the Arab population any elections for the last 10 years.

Paris omitted any reference to the only framework within which Israel and the PLO have been negotiating during the last 13 years – the 2003 Bush Roadmap – which clearly states:

“A settlement, negotiated between the parties, will result in the emergence of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors.”

The Paris communique:

“called on both sides to take steps to advance the two-state solution on the ground ; the recommendations of the Quartet on 1 July 2016 ; and the United States Secretary of State’s principles on the two-state solution on 28 December 2016.”

However one Quartet recommendation states:

“Gaza and the West Bank should be reunified under a single, legitimate and democratic Palestinian authority on the basis of the PLO platform and Quartet principles and the rule of law, including control over all armed personnel and weapons in accordance with existing agreements.”

Kerry mentioned “two-state solution” 29 times but never once uttered the word “democratic”.

Israel should now not fall into the trap of negotiating with any entity less than one already democratically elected and functioning in Areas “A” and “B” of the West Bank and Gaza – nor rely on any promises of democracy emerging there in the future.

Paris has managed to bury the “two democratic states solution” in just 24 hours.

The Roadmap and UNSCR 2334 have received the last rites.

Perhaps the Security Council and the Paris participants should now consider the practical “two-state solution” first envisaged in 1922:  

One Jewish State – Israel – and one Arab State – Jordan – in the territory covered by the Mandate for Palestine. 

This territorial subdivision has already happened in 95% of the Mandate territory. It can happen very quickly in the remaining 5%.

In fact it only involves slightly redrawing the existing international boundary between Israel and Jordan – two states already living side by side in peace within secure and recognised borders.

Simple and achievable.

David Singer is an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the "Jordan is Palestine" Committee in 1979.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/20050

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