Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Signs of Hope in the Middle East? Don’t Hold Your Breath - Dr. James M. Dorsey

by Dr. James M. Dorsey

In fact, the contours of a next round of volatility and violence are already visible.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 595, September 25, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Several indicators have sparked optimism that tensions in the Middle East may be starting to subside. The problem is that many of those indicators are speculative, and none holds out the possibility of a permanent resolution of multiple problems. In fact, the contours of a next round of volatility and violence are already visible.

Optimists see hopeful signs that the Middle East may be exiting from a dark tunnel of violence, civil war, sectarian strife, and debilitating regional rivalries.

The Islamic State (IS) is on the cusp of territorial defeat in Syria and Iraq. Saudi Arabia may be groping for an exit from its devastating military intervention in Yemen. The Gulf states are embarking on economic and social reform aimed at preparing for the end of oil.

Haltingly, the Gulf states may be forced to find a face-saving solution to the more than three-month-old crisis that has pitted a UAE-Saudi-led alliance against Qatar. There may even be an effort to dial down tension between the kingdom and Iran.

Hamas, the Islamist faction that controls Gaza, said it is willing to negotiate with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about joint rule of the Strip and move towards long overdue elections.

At first glance, these do appear to be reasons for optimism. But don’t hold your breath. Optimists are basing their hopes on shifting sands and tentative suggestions that the protagonists may be looking for ways out of the malaise.

The more sobering reality is that none of the indicators involve actions that would tackle the root causes of the Middle East’s multiple conflicts and problems. In fact, some of the solutions tossed around amount to little more than window dressing, while others set the stage for the next phase of conflict and strife.

Talks between the feuding Palestinian factions have repeatedly failed. It is not clear whether Hamas would now be ready as part of a deal to put its armed wing under Mr. Abbas’s control – a key demand of the Palestinian president that the Islamists have so far rejected. It also remains to be seen how Israel would respond. Israel, together with the US, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, sees Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Beyond Palestine, the contours of future conflict are already discernible. If Myanmar’s Rohingya are the 21st century’s rallying cry of the Muslim world, the Kurds could be one of its major fault lines.

The disputes over territory, power, and resources among Sunni Muslims, Shiites, and Kurds that fueled the rise of IS in Iraq are resurfacing with its demise. In a twist of irony, a recent poll showed Sunnis were for the first time more positive about Iraq’s future than the country’s majority Shiites.

The reconstruction of Sunni cities in the north destroyed by the fight against IS will be key to maintaining a semblance of Iraqi unity. With no signs of massive reconstruction gaining momentum, old wounds that have driven insurgencies for more than a decade could reignite IS in new forms. “All the writing is on the wall that there will be another IS,” said former Iraqi foreign minister and Kurdish politician Hoshyar Zebari.

The initial flash in the pan threatens to be the fact that the Iraqi Kurds are certain to vote for independence in a unilateral referendum scheduled for September 25. If the independence issue did not provide enough explosive in and of itself, the Kurds’ insistence on including in the referendum the ethnically mixed, oil-rich city of Kirkuk and adjacent areas further fueled the fire.

The referendum and the dispute over Kirkuk reopen the question of what Iraqi Kurdistan’s borders are. They will do so even if the Kurds opt not to hold an immediate vote on independence and remain part of an Iraqi federation for the time being.

The issue could blow a further hole into Iraq’s already fragile existence as a united nation state. Iraqi President Haider al-Abadi has denounced the referendum. His efforts to persuade the Iraqi parliament to fire Kirkuk governor Najmaldin Karim for backing the poll, as well as calls for parliament to withdraw confidence in Iraqi President Fuad Masum and sack ministers and other senior officials of Kurdish descent, could push the Kurds over the edge.

Iraqi military officials as well as the Iranian-backed Shiite militias that are aligned with the military have vowed to prevent the referendum from being held in Kirkuk. “Kirkuk belongs to Iraq. We would by no means give up on Kirkuk even if this were to cause major bloodshed,” said Ayoub Faleh aka Abu Azrael, the commander of Imam Ali Division, an Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite militia.

Nor will the fight necessarily be contained to Kirkuk. Kurdish and Iraqi government forces are vying for control of areas from which IS has been driven out, stretching westwards along the length of northern Iraq. Mr. Al-Abadi warned that he would intervene militarily if the referendum, which he described as unconstitutional, provoked violence.

Add to that the ganging up on the Kurds by Iran, Turkey, and the US. The US is backing the Iraqi government, though it was Washington that put Kurdistan on course towards independence when it allowed the autonomous enclave to emerge under a protective no-fly zone that kept the forces of Saddam Hussein at bay. (Breaking with the US and its Arab allies, Israel has endorsed Kurdish independence.)

Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and Iranian al-Quds force commander Qassem Soleimani have warned the Kurds on visits to Iraqi Kurdistan to back away from the referendum. Iran has threatened to close its borders with the region.

Describing the referendum as “a matter of national security,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said, “no one should have doubt that we will take all the necessary steps in this matter.” Turkey fears that Kurdish independence would spur secessionist aspirations among its own Kurds, who account for up to 20% of its population. It also suspects that an independent Kurdistan would harbor Turkish Kurdish insurgents already operating from the region.

Mr. Abadi alluded to possible Turkish and/or Iranian military intervention to prevent the emergence of an independent Kurdistan by suggesting that the referendum would be “a public invitation to the countries in the region to violate Iraqi borders.” He said, “The Turks are very angry about it because they have a large Kurdish population inside Turkey and they feel that their national security is threatened because it is a huge problem for them. And, of course, the Iranians are on the same line.”

The Kurdish quest for some form of self-rule is likely to manifest itself in Syria too. The US backs a Syrian Kurdish militia aligned with Turkish Kurdish militants in its fight against IS. The militia that prides itself on its women fighters is among the forces besieging the IS capital of Raqqa.

The Kurds are hoping an end to the war in Syria will leave them with an Iraq-style autonomous region on the Turkish border – an aspiration that Turkey, like Iraq, vehemently opposes. The Kurds, who have been the target of strikes by the Turkish air force, hope to benefit from the force’s shortage of pilots resulting from mass purges in the wake of last year’s failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (To make up the pilot shortfall, the air force last month ordered all former fighter pilots flying for Turkish airlines to report for service.)

The Kurds may provide the first flashpoint for another round of volatility and violence, but there are others. Sectarian and other ethnic divisions are likely to wrack Iraq and Syria once the current round of fighting subsides.

As it tries to find a face-saving exit from its ill-fated invasion of Yemen, which has pushed the country to the edge of the abyss, Riyadh will have to cope with a populous country on its border, many of whose citizens harbor deep anger at the devastation and human suffering caused by the Saudis – consequences that will take years to reverse.

Similarly, the three-month-old rift between Qatar and an alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is likely to leave deep scars that will hamper integration among the six states that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Middle East’s only functioning regional organization prior to the crisis. The failure of talks between Qatar and its detractors, mediated by US President Donald Trump, even before they got started, suggests that a resolution to the crisis is nowhere in sight.

Coping with the fallout of the Qatar crisis and the Yemen war simply adds to Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman’s woes as he prepares to at some point succeed his ailing father, King Salman. Prince Muhammad, who is popular among the country’s youth in expectation of economic and social change, has already had to backtrack on some of that promised change. Foreign lenders have moreover indicated a lack of confidence as they head for the exits rather than explore new opportunities.

In addition, Prince Muhammad has signaled concern about opposition to his proposed reforms within the kingdom’s ruling Saud family, his determination to avoid political change, and his willingness to rule with an iron fist. Prominent religious scholars with significant followings and activists have been arrested in recent weeks while dissenting members of the ruling family have been put under house arrest.

The optimistic view may be that the Middle East is six years into an era of political, economic, and social change. If historic yardsticks are applicable, that amounts to one-third of a process of transition that can take up to a quarter of a century to work itself out. There is little reason to believe the next third will be any less volatile or violent.

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

Dr. James M. Dorsey, a non-resident Senior Associate at the BESA Center, is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture.

Source: https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/middle-east-hope/

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Israeli team spends Rosh Hashanah looking for Mexico quake survivors - Lilach Shoval, Shlomo Cesana, Eli Leon, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

by Lilach Shoval, Shlomo Cesana, Eli Leon, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff 

IDF team of search and rescue experts, engineers, and medics is one of the largest international contingents in Mexico

An IDF search and rescue crew works to extract survivors 
from the rubble  Photo: Reuters  

As international contingents of search and rescue personnel labored to find and extricate survivors of the major earthquake that hit Mexico City last week, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck southeast of the town of Matías Romero in Oaxaca on Saturday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The region had already been hard-hit by a quake on Sept. 7. The official death toll from the recent seismic events stands at 384, but given the extent of the destruction, it is expected to rise as more casualties are discovered.

The quake on Sept. 19 leveled 52 buildings in the sprawling Mexican capital, leaving thousands homeless and bringing down apartment blocks, a school and a textile factory. Mexican soldiers, volunteers, supported by international teams, have rescued at least 60 people from the ruins in Mexico City and surrounding towns.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto visited quake-stricken areas of Chiapas on Saturday to pledge aid for those affected.

An IDF search and rescue team set out for Mexico on Wednesday afternoon, the eve of Rosh Hashanah, and landed in Mexico early Thursday. The team members have been working around the clock under the command of Col. (res.) Dudi Mizrahi, who told Israel Hayom, "As far as we're concerned, there is still a chance to save lives. Rescuers can't work without the assumption that they can still find people alive. The locals are looking to us."

Mizrahi's contingent comprises some 70 soldiers and officers, both current military personnel and reservists. In addition to search and rescue experts, the team has brought in pilots, engineers, and medical staff. The team members have been divided to three main assignments: a collapsed building site where some 60 people appeared to be trapped beneath the rubble, most of whom were thought to be alive; a collapsed six-story apartment building, where Homefront Command soldiers used advanced technology to identify sounds made by a trapped person they hope is still alive; and engineers who examine buildings to determine whether they are safe for people to enter.

"We got to a site where a lot of layers of concrete had collapsed, with about 60 people trapped, most of whom I believe are still alive," Mizrahi said.

"The Mexicans didn't know how to handle it, and we explained that there are techniques for approaching the site, even though it was complicated."

At the second site, where special acoustic equipment picked up the sounds of tapping by a trapped person, the rescuers are still working fervently.

"The rescuers are tired, but extremely motivated. In Haiti, for example, we rescued someone who had been trapped for seven days. We have at least another two and a half days of work ahead of us. The difficult sights and the psychological stress of dealing with bodies and stenches is still ahead of us," Mizrahi said.

"To the Mexicans, the Israeli engineers' work is of the utmost importance. We are getting a lot of help from the Jewish community, which is 45,000 strong and is providing us with amazing support. They gave us space in one of the Jewish community centers, they're surrounding us with love, and providing us with food. The [rest of] the locals are also welcoming us with open arms, and every time an Israeli soldier goes by, they clap. It's flattering and charming."

Mizrahi said that Mexicans are throwing themselves into the rescue efforts: "There are thousands of people in the streets lending a hand. They've opened civilian aid centers, and anyone who donates so much as a bag of rice gets a round of applause."

Mizrahi said his team members "left home at a moment's notice, in the middle of preparations for the holiday, but with great love. Given an opportunity like this to provide assistance, there was no question or dilemma. It's a privilege to save lives, even when it's at a distance of thousands of kilometers from home.

"We've brought the best technology with us, and it's a great privilege for us to be part of this effort. The Israeli people should be proud that they have a Homefront Command that manages to make such a big impact with only 70 people, thousands of kilometers away from home."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Yoni Peled on Saturday, as well as with Mizrahi, and congratulated them both.

"What you are doing is a mitzvah. You are shining Israel's light in the world, a big light. It is important from a humanitarian standpoint and also to show the world the true Israel. You are making the State of Israel very proud. Be blessed and return home safely," Netanyahu told them.

The IDF team is not the only Israeli delegation on the ground in Mexico. A search and rescue team from the Israel-based iAID international humanitarian agency led by Eran Magen, who is coordinating the organization's work with the Mexican government's emergency crews and the IDF contingent, is also providing aid.

Lilach Shoval, Shlomo Cesana, Eli Leon, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/2017/09/24/israeli-team-spends-rosh-hashanah-looking-for-mexico-quake-survivors/

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Who is out to get Trump National Security Adviser General McMaster? - Jeff Dunetz

by Jeff Dunetz

Israel Embassy & NSC officials say McMaster Hezbollah/Yelling story is false. What is going on?

Pajamas Media and Israel National News (Arutz Sheva) both ran a story this month that U.S. National Security Adviser McMaster sparked an argument with an Israeli delegation during an August meeting to discuss the terrorist group Hezbollah. According to the reports, the argument was sparked by McMaster bringing an unwanted NSA official to the meeting and his denying that Hezbollah was a terrorist group.

 In a statement to The Lid, the spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in DC called the reports “totally false,” and in a separate discussion, an NSC official who was at the meeting says the NSC employee in question wasn’t in the meeting.

Per each of the reports, National Security Advisor. McMaster invited NSC Senior Director on Counter-Terrorism Mustafa Javed Ali to the meeting with Israel that took place in the White House. Supposedly Mr. Ali is against designing Hezbollah as a terrorist group. According to the reports, the Israeli delegation demanded that Ali leave the room.

Both PJM and Israel National News claimed that McMaster yelled at the Israeli delegation at the meeting, PJM claimed that McMaster seemed to blow off” Israel’s worry that a safe zone in Syria for refugees would become a safe zone for Hezbollah to operate. Israel National News went further saying that McMaster claimed that Hezbollah was not a terror group.

Both stories are false.

I spoke to Itai Bardov, spokesperson for the Israeli Embassy in Washington and asked him if he could address the above charges on the record. He responded  with this statement:
The allegations in the article relating to Israel are totally false.
Israel never asked for Mustafa Ali to not attend a meeting on Hezbollah, Syria or any other matter.
Israel is not aware of any Trump administration official that does not consider Hezbollah a terror organization, and General McMaster never yelled at Israeli officials.
Israel appreciates General McMaster’s efforts to strengthen the US-Israel relationship and looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Trump administration to counter the threats posed by Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah.

An NSC official who was at the meeting confirmed to me that the U.S. delegation didn’t plan to bring Mustafa Javed Ali to the meetings, didn’t bring Mr. Ali to the meeting, and at no time did he attempt to come into the meeting. A pretty Shermanesque declaration.

Finally, on August 18th, the day after the meeting (the PJM article said it was the week of August 27), Jason Greenblatt and advisor for President Trump on Israel, posted a picture of everyone at the meeting (see below) Mr. Ali was not in this “team picture.”

This is the second time in a month that an enemy of General McMaster within the White House (or possibly one who just left) created a story about McMaster and Israel that was false. The first claim was that he was an enemy of Israel which was also proven to be nonsense (read the linked article Slandering a Good Name to see how fake news works). Sheldon Adelson, who was said by JTA to be against him, has disavowed the campaign against McMaster.

The Jewish High Holiday period begins with Rosh Hashanah and continues with the fast of Yom Kippur on September 29th. During that time we are supposed to apologize to the people who we have wronged and begin atoning for our sins. Whether Jewish or not, I recommend to this teller of McMaster tales that this would be a great time to stop with the slanders and atone for their wrong-doings.

Jason D. Greenblatt‏Verified account @jdgreenblatt45  Aug 17

Organized important bilateral meeting between @WHNSC / US National Security team and our counterparts from Israel at the @WhiteHouse today.

Team Photo

Jeff Dunetz, editor/publisher of the blog "The Lid," Jeff is also a contributing reporter to TruthRevolt.org and MRCTV.org. He is also the political columnist for The Jewish Star, and co-host of the weekly radio show, The Hump Day News Report on the 405 Radio Network.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/21050

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

China and the independent Kurdish state - Dr. Mordechai Chaziza

by Dr. Mordechai Chaziza

The Iraqi Kurdistan region will be holding a referendum on independence on September 25, 2017. While Beijing fears that Kurdish independence could fuel separatist movements within China,a Kurdish state could be a net positive for the Asian giant.

This past June, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani announced that on September 25, 2017, a referendum on independence would be held on the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The referendum will take place within the borders of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, as well as in disputed territories that have been under de facto Kurdish control since their liberation from ISIS (e.g., Kirkuk). Kurds will vote to decide whether autonomous Kurdistan should disengage from Iraq and become independent or remain within the Iraqi state.

The referendum is neither a declaration of independence nor a trigger of immediate change in the nature of Kurdish sovereignty in northern Iraq, since the vote lacks both a legal framework for binding implementation and support from the international community. However, the referendum will be the Iraqi Kurds’ first concrete step towards realizing their over-a-century-old dream of an independent Kurdish state. The vote will likely give the Kurds more bargaining power vis-à-vis Baghdad and the international community once the fight against ISIS has been concluded.

The question of independence has existed ever since the Kurds established a semi-autonomous region in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. These aspirations have gained momentum during the current period of turmoil, which has seen the outbreak of civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS, and the aftershocks of the “Arab Spring.” The Kurds took advantage of the instability to seize an opportunity for radical change in the balance of power in the Middle East.

More importantly, the major role the Kurds have played in the US-backed campaign to defeat ISIS has brought them growing international attention and wider acknowledgment of their achievements and national rights. However, without international recognition and support, Kurdish statehood will remain a dream.

China, a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) with ambitions to become a major player in the Middle East, will need to take a clear position on the “Kurdish question.” The issue is not simply a matter of regional security and stability. It is also a matter of international law and moral norms that involve Chinese interests and national security.

In the post-Cold War era, China has become increasingly engaged in the Middle East due to broader national interests – namely, to continue its economic growth, preserve its Communist-ruled political system, defend its sovereignty from foreign threats and other interference in its internal affairs, and expand its global influence as a rising economic and political power.

Beijing’s policy on the Kurdish question is part of its overall policy on Iraq, which in turn is part of its policy towards the Middle East in general, which in turn is part of its foreign policy at the global level.

Since the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Beijing has strongly opposed separatist movements abroad as a means of gaining support for its own opposition to separatist movements within China. Beijing officially considers separatism one of the “three evil forces,” along with terrorism and extremism. This reflects its uncompromising adherence to the maintenance of territorial integrity at all costs – primarily with regard to Taiwan, but also to Tibet, Xinjiang, and Inner Mongolia. China avers that self-determination should not necessarily involve national independence, and that stateless nations should not necessarily form or be given states.

Beijing’s policy on the Kurdish question is part of its overall policy on Iraq, which in turn is part of its policy towards the Middle East in general, which in turn is part of its foreign policy at the global level. The core of China’s official Middle East policy is to maintain a stable and peaceful regional environment that facilitates continued domestic reform and development. On the matter of Middle East hotspots, Chinese policy is to promote peace and the reasonable settlement of disputes through dialogue and negotiation, with an emphasis placed on the role of the UN Security Council.

Beijing has officially supported the Iraqi central government in its efforts to safeguard sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity and establish respect, equality, and mutual benefit based on bilateral relations. It actively supports political reconstruction and national reconciliation, as well as Iraq’s counter-terrorism efforts in fighting ISIS. China firmly advocates the adoption of a peaceful democratic process to achieve security and stability in Iraq.

However, there are several interests underlying Beijing’s Kurdish policy. First, an independent and friendly Kurdish state – particularly one China helped create – could provide Beijing with a new ally in the Middle East and a new instrument of influence in the region. Second, despite Beijing’s official opposition to separatist movements, Chinese companies have strong energy and economic stakes in Kurdistan, making it different from other such movements. Third, Beijing has found the Kurds to be a reliable regional ally as well as a lethal and valuable asset against ISIS and al-Qaeda. Fourth, the Kurdish issue provides China with leverage against Turkey, which continues to host Uyghur separatists and organizations. Fifth and most important, China is interested in Iraqi Kurdistan’s rich oilfields, which could diversify its oil supplies.

With all that said, an independent Kurdistan would have a range of negative implications for Chinese interests and national security. First, an independent Kurdish state could unleash regional instability that would be detrimental to China’s economic and strategic interests, and which could encourage other separatist movements (notably the Uyghurs and the Tibetans) to fight for their own causes. Second, the birth of a new Kurdish state would face strong opposition from the major regional states, produce greater instability, and possibly be accompanied by war. Baghdad, Tehran, Damascus, and Ankara are all opposed to an independent Kurdish state for the same reason the prospect gives China pause: it could encourage separatism among their own minorities. Support for an independent Kurdistan could harm Beijing’s relations with regional powers that it has spent years attempting to cultivate.

Kurdish secession could destabilize the rump Iraqi state politically, economically, and militarily. Beijing is not in the least interested in further destabilizing Iraq or in alienating Baghdad. Moreover, Washington has historically shunned the idea of breaking apart the Iraqi state out of fear of setting a precedent for secessionism throughout the region.

However, the behavior of President Trump, who is both malleable and volatile, may prove favorable for Iraqi Kurds’ aspirations towards independence. It is quite clear that if a Kurdish state emerges, it will be friendly to the US, which will have important consequences for its regional interests and national security.

The emergence of an independent Kurdistan would have favorable implications for the Western powers: it would likely be relatively well-governed and stable, and it would be pro-Western. Such developments could significantly weaken Chinese economic and strategic interests in the region.

The Kurdish referendum cannot lead to independence without international recognition, a crucial pre-condition to full statehood. Since the KRG is located in a war-torn country and in a region of economic and geopolitical significance, it will need support and legitimacy to be conferred by both global and regional powers.

Beijing’s position on the Kurdish question is intricate. China has traditionally had friendly relations with the Kurds, and joined the other four members of the UN Security Council in opening a consulate in Erbil. However, Beijing opposes a unilateral Kurdish declaration of independence. It will support an independent Kurdish state only if it emerges with the consent of the Iraqi central government in Baghdad and other countries in the region.

China’s dilemma with regard to the Kurds is not necessarily insoluble. Beijing could opt to allow the emergence of an independent Kurdistan while remaining rhetorically opposed to it at the same time. That kind of approach has been a common tactic of Chinese diplomacy in the region.

A BESA Center Perspectives Paper, published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Dr. Mordechai Chaziza is a senior lecturer in Political Science at Ashkelon Academic College, specializing in Chinese foreign and strategic relations.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/21057

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

PA bid to join Interpol likely to succeed - Gary Willig

by Gary Willig

International Police Organization allows PA bid for membership to go to vote which could allow PA to issue arrest warrants for Israelis.

The Israel effort to prevent the Palestinian Authority (PA) from joining Interpol, the International Police Organization, has been unsuccessful so far.

This afternoon it became clear that the attempt to have the Interpol Executive Committee reject the PA's application had failed. Israel will therefore have to direct its efforts towards Interpol’s General Assembly, which will convene for its annual meeting in China tomorrow (Tuesday) and vote on new members.

The General Assembly is expected to approve the PA's bid to join the international law enforcement body.

Israel has waged a wide-spread diplomatic battle over the last several days to prevent the PA's imitative from succeeding. Israel seeks to strengthen the standards required to join Interpol.

The US has stood alongside Israel in seeking to convince the organization to deny the PA's request. The US believes that allowing the PA to join international bodies without negotiating with Israel gives the PA incentive to avoid peace negotiations altogether and undermines US efforts to broker a peace deal.

Israel fears that if the PA is allowed to join Interpol, sensitive intelligence will be leaked to Arab terrorist organizations. The Jewish State also believes that the PA could abuse Interpol membership and attempt to use the organization to issue arrest warrants against Israeli political and military officials.

Israel succeeded in preventing a similar PA bid to join Interpol last year, when the executive board voted to delay a vote on its application.

Gary Willig

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/235912

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Ideological Hijacking of the University and the Betrayal of its Traditional Mission - Bruce Thornton

by Bruce Thornton

David Horowitz's "The Left in the University."

Reprinted from American Thinker

Below is Bruce Thornton's review of David Horowitz’s new book, “The Left in the Universities" which is volume 8 of The Black Book of the American Left, a multi-volume collection of David Horowitz's conservative writings that will, when completed, be the most ambitious effort ever undertaken to define the Left and its agenda. (Order HERE.) We encourage our readers to visit BlackBookOfTheAmericanLeft.com – which features Horowitz’s introductions to Volumes 1-8 of this 10-volume series, along with their tables of contents, reviews and interviews with the author.

The corruption of American higher education has been in the news a lot in the last few years. “Snowflakes” and “safe spaces,” crowds of thugs shutting down conservative speakers, craven administrators caving in to demands of activist students and faculty have become increasingly common since the rise of Donald Trump sparked a “resistance” movement. Even progressives who have run afoul of campus Robespierres are writing books about free speech now that their revolutionary children have started devouring their own. What David Horowitz has been warning about in his books and speeches for more than thirty years -- the ideological hijacking of the university and the betrayal of its traditional mission -- has finally grabbed the national spotlight.

The essays in his latest book, The Left in the University, are indispensable for anyone who wants to understand how we got to this pass.

The first chapter, “The Post-Modern Academy,” is a succinct analysis of the left’s takeover of the university. He starts with one of the most publicized and representative incidents that illustrates how far our campuses have descended into preposterous political correctness and left-wing shibboleths. Ward Churchill was the University of Colorado professor who called the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks “little Eichmanns,” and whose exposure in 2005 led to a national scandal when his academic and personal frauds were revealed. What is less well-known is the enthusiasm that many universities had shown in inviting Churchill to speak at their campuses -- 40 invitations before the scandal broke -- despite his vicious anti-Americanism and shoddy scholarship. As Horowitz explains, such views were “far from obscure to his academic colleagues. They reflected views comparing America to Nazi Germany that were part of the intellectual core of his academic work.” The widespread agreement with such nonsense implicated not just one rogue college professor, but “the academic culture itself.”

How did such a consensus of belief in ideas more at home in the pages Pravda or Granma happen? The Gramscian “long march through the institution” on the part of Sixties radicals began the redefinition of academic work from a search for truth according to professional norms, to a political activism that in the name of “relevance” and “social justice” shaped research and teaching to confirm leftist ideology and discredit whatever alternatives students might believe. These new academic departments and programs like Women’s Studies and Black Studies, Horowitz writes, “maintained no pretense of including intellectually diverse viewpoint or pursuing academic inquiries unconnected to the conclusions they might reach.”

That these new “disciplines” were political rather than academic was obvious in their creation, which resulted from political protests and sometimes threats of violence, most famously at Cornell, where in 1969 black radicals with loaded shotguns occupied the administration building. Soon, Horowitz continues, other “studies” like Post-Colonial Studies and Social Justice Studies proliferated to promote “narrowly one-sided political agendas,” and create “institutional settings for political indoctrination” and the “exposition and development of radical theory, and education and training of a radical cadre and the recruitment of students to radical causes.” Moreover, their claims to be pursuing “social justice” or “equality” have created an end-justifies-the-means rationalization, a “logical consequence of decades of university pandering to radical intimidators and campus criminals who regularly assault property, persons and reputations” with charges of racism, sexism, or even rape. “If the ideas are correct, it’s okay to silence anyone who disagrees.” In the last few years this phenomenon has become public knowledge, as Antifa thugs have disrupted campus events. Way back in 1998, Horowitz presciently called such behavior “brown-shirt activism.”

Horowitz in his essays frequently makes an important point: it’s not just the ideological prejudices of this or that faculty member, but a whole institutional, professional, and administrative apparatus that has made possible today’s overwhelmingly leftist and progressive university.

For example, the problem of conservative speakers being underrepresented at campus events is not a dearth of interest among students. At Vanderbilt, a conservative student group called Wake Up America was formed to invite conservative speakers to campus. But the university refused to provide the same sort of funding it gives to other student groups. When challenged, the administrator in charge of Student Life hid behind the Speakers Committee, which Horowitz describes as “a partisan student group dedicated to bringing left-wing speakers to campus.” With $63,000 a year to spend, the Committee had brought expensive lefties like James Carville and Gloria Steinem. Wake Up America, Horowitz writes, in its entire existence “has never been granted a single cent to bring conservatives” to Vanderbilt.

Such largess for leftists go beyond funds dedicated to speakers. In 2002, when Horowitz was invited, Vanderbilt disbursed over a million dollars to student groups ostensibly to promote a “diversity of activities,” in the words of the university. At the same time that Wake Up America received nothing, other identity-politics groups received over $130,000. Horowitz recounts other appearance he made across the country where left-wing speakers received tens of thousands of dollars, while his visit had to be financed by funds raised off campus. As Horowitz notes, such political bias is “completely normal in the academic world.”

The bulk of Horowitz’s book documents his efforts to get state legislatures and college administrators to adopt an Academic Bill of Rights (ABR) as a way of stopping such abuse. After some initial successes, particularly in Colorado, the campaign was stalled by relentless misrepresentation and outright lies on the part of colleges, the media, and academic organizations. For example, the ABR called for common sense principles similar to those colleges adopted over a century ago. But the principle that universities should base hiring on a candidate’s “competence and appropriate expertise in the field,” and foster “a plurality of methodologies and perspectives,” was transformed by the Colorado media into “affirmative action for conservatives.”

Most reprehensible was the reaction of the American Association of University Professors, which has long touted its dedication to academic freedom. In 1915 the AAUP promulgated a report that gave impetus to a wider recognition of the need for universities to respect the freedom of its professors to practice research without fear of retribution for challenging any ideologies, preferences, and prejudices. The AAUP report became the template for most of higher education’s policies on academic freedom.

The University of California’s Berkeley campus, for example, in 1934 established the “Sproul” rule, named for its author, university president Robert Gordon Sproul. This rule identified the function of the university as the effort “to seek and to transmit knowledge and to train students in the processes whereby truth is to be made known. To convert, or to make converts, is alien and hostile to this dispassionate duty.” If “political, social, or sectarian movements” are to be considered, they should be “dissected and examined, not taught, and the conclusion left, with no tipping of the scales, to the logic of the facts.”

In 2003, the Berkeley Faculty Senate voted 43-3 to scrap this noble aspiration. The distinction between indoctrination and education was tossed, and the faculty were made the arbiters of teaching and research standards “by reference to the professional standards” and “the expertise and authority” of the faculty, which now should govern the acquisition of knowledge. As Horowitz writes, “academic freedom is whatever the faculty says it is.” The proliferation of “studies” and programs nakedly political and designed to pursue politically correct ideology, rather than a dispassionate search for truth through disinterested professional methodologies, guaranteed that “professional standards” would be politicized. The academic freedom created to protect scholarship has now been changed to a “substitute for it -- a license for professors to do what they liked.” As a result, courses like “The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance” replace traditional history courses that present all the documented evidence of a historical event gathered by the neutral protocols governing research. The decline of professional competence, as Martin Kramer documented regarding Middle East Studies programs in his Ivory Towers on Sand, creates a vacuum filled by political ideology and faddish theory.

Of course, the AAUP, its board dominated by leftists, had long ago abandoned the principles of the 1915 report, tending instead “to overlook infringements” of it, like the excising of the Sproul rule, “and even defend them,” Horowitz writes. So it is no wonder that the AAUP went after the ABR, misrepresenting its clear meaning. During the debate over the Colorado state legislature’s bill to codify the ABR into law, the AAUP went on the offensive, calling the ABR “a grave threat to fundamental principles of academic freedom,” and recommending that it should be “strongly condemn[ed].” It also blatantly distorted the bill’s language, saying it required that “universities... maintain political pluralism,” a phrase that doesn’t appear in the bill, which called for “the fair representation of conflicting viewpoints on issues that are controversial,” as Horowitz explained. The numerous other misrepresentations that Horowitz analyzes show that the AAUP, much like the UN, no longer believes in the principles of one of its foundational documents.

With such concentrated opposition by university faculty, administrators, unions, and professional organizations, the ABR didn’t have a chance. As Horowitz writes of the AAUP response.

If any act might serve as a symbol of the problems that have beset the academy in the last thirty years -- its intense politicization and partisanship and consequent loss of scholarly perspective -- it is this unscholarly assault on a document whose philosophy, formulations and very conception have been drawn from its own statements and positions on academic freedom.

Such an abuse of language to serve power and ideology, first described by Thucydides and memorably expressed in George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language,” is now standard operating procedure in the American university.

Now that Donald Trump’s success has driven the academic left into even greater absurdities and thuggery, perhaps conditions are right for cleaning the Augean Stables of campus corruption. But such change will require the efforts of congressmen, state legislators, the Department of Education, university trustees, and the taxpayers who directly and indirectly fund American higher education. And we need many more champions of the university’s mission to study and teach “the best which has been thought and said in the world, and, through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits, which we now follow staunchly but mechanically, vainly imagining that there is a virtue in following them staunchly which makes up for the mischief of following them mechanically,” as Matthew Arnold wrote.

David Horowitz has long tried to hold accountable the presumed guardians of the university’s mission. It’s time for more citizens to join him and dismantle the “stock notions and habits” of the left that are responsible for so much of our country’s political and cultural “mischief.” Reading The Left in the University is the place to start.

Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/267959/ideological-hijacking-university-and-betrayal-its-bruce-thornton

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

'Uncle Tom' and the 'N-Word' - Larry Elder

by Larry Elder

The real traitors are those who refuse to look at the obvious connection between the rise of fatherless households in the black community and the welfare state.

The pejorative "Uncle Tom" causes more damage than does the word "n——-."

The "N-word," when used by a white person as an epithet against a black person, is an insult, designed to convey to the recipient that he or she is a second-class citizen. It is designed to make one feel inferior. But it hasn't worked. My parents, as did the parents of my friends, said no one can make you feel inferior without your permission. Lesson learned. For decades, tests measuring self-esteem show that teenage black boys and girls test higher than do white boys and white girls.

"Uncle Tom," on the other hand, when used by a black person as an epithet against another black person, is designed to do one thing and one thing only — to label that person as a traitor, a sellout, as a black person who colludes with white racists to undermine the success of black people.

During my pre-election debate at an inner-city black church in Los Angeles against Roland Martin of "NewsOne," a "black" news show on cable channel TV One, Martin advised me to "get in touch with my blackness." My crime? I supported the candidacy of Donald Trump, and predicted he would attract a greater share of the black vote than did Mitt Romney. I suggested that the damage done to the black family by the welfare state was far more than the degree of racism in today's America.

Because of blacker-than-thou people like Martin, the black community is not having a robust debate about, for example, whether there is a causal connection between the welfare state and the growing number of fatherless households.

How bad is this lack of critical thinking? During the O.J. Simpson murder trial, a New Jersey high school teacher wrote about the reaction to the case by his mostly black and brown students. Out of 110 students, only four thought Simpson actually did it. Whenever anyone dared suggest an alternative theory, that possibly Simpson himself might have murdered two people, he or she was denounced as a sympathizer for the wrong side. Several thought Kato Kaelin, Simpson's houseguest, did it. Another thought O.J. Simpson's friend Al Cowlings did it, despite a complete and utter lack of evidence. The teacher observed that the black females in his class exerted what he called "social control" over the others in the class to induce unanimity on Simpson's innocence.

Because of the intolerance of different points of view in the black community, we are not having a fact-based debate about the allegation of "systemic" racism in the criminal justice system. The real "traitors" are those who continue to push a false narrative about the alleged "proliferation" of anti-black police brutality, when, according to the Centers for Disease Control, police killings of blacks are down nearly 75 percent since 1968. In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel admitted that the Black Lives Matter movement has made officers reluctant to proactively police, and that cops have become increasingly passive: "There's no doubt Ferguson, Baltimore, New York, Cleveland, in my view, have put the genie out of the bottle. ... Unless we deal with backing them up, the gang members know (police) are not putting their hands on them because they don't want to be prosecuted, whether it be by public opinion or by the court. ... We have allowed our police department to get fetal, and it is having a direct consequence. ... They have pulled back from the ability to interdict. ... They don't want to be a news story themselves, they don't want their career ended early, and it's having an impact." Crime in many areas of the country has increased, victimizing the very people the Black Lives Matter movement claims to care about.

The real traitors are those who refuse to have a conversation about race-based preferences, even though those admitted to college under affirmative action are far likelier to drop out of college due to a mismatch of skills and school.

The real traitors are those who refuse to look at the obvious connection between the rise of fatherless households in the black community and the welfare state. In 1965, 25 percent of black kids were born outside of wedlock. That figure today is 71 percent. Today 29 percent of white kids are born outside of wedlock. Yet we do not have a serious debate about the causal connection between the welfare state and the No. 1 domestic problem in the country — the rise of fatherless households. But to even raise this issue makes a black person a "traitor" who is "blaming the victim"?

The executive editor of The New York Times, Dean Baquet, a black man, recently acknowledged left-wing intolerance. "The left," he said, "as a rule, does not want to hear thoughtful disagreement." The black left, as a rule, does not believe that there is such a thing as thoughtful disagreement. 

Larry Elder

Source: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/267958/uncle-tom-and-n-word-larry-elder

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Free Palestine? Why not Balochistan? -Tzvi Lev

by Tzvi Lev

English Defense League founder Tommy Robinson calls out United Nations' hypocrisy.

Tommy Robinson, a prominent British nationalist activist, wants to know why the United Nations focuses solely on the Palestinians despite their history of terrorism while ignoring other oppressed minorities in the world, such as Balochistan, which has been occupied by Pakistan since 1947.

Wearing a 'Free Balochistan' T-shirt, the English Defense League founder describes the history of the beleaguered Balochistan, detailing the oppression he says the Baloch people have suffered from under Pakistan and noting the five major conflicts that were fought between Balochistan and Pakistan. According to Robinson, Pakistan benefits tremendously from Balochistan's natural resources while denying the proceeds to the native people.

"The West is silent about this, total silence," charged Robinson. "The media is not interested in real struggles. Where have they been on this issue? Why don't they talk about this when they constantly cover Jewish people defending themselves against Palestinian terrorists?"

Balochistan was annexed to Pakistan after it split off from India in 1947 and makes up 44% of its territory, but according to Robinson, "it's not a surprise that the Left wastes its time defending barbaric actions against the only democracy in the Middle East".

Robinsons has been a prominent activist on what he calls "the Muslims waging war on England". He was one of the principal founders of the English Defense League in 2009, which quickly became known for its large street demonstrations against radical Islam.

Tzvi Lev

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/235888

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Kaepernickitis Is Rooted in Lies - Trevor Thomas

by Trevor Thomas

The tragic truth is, the most dangerous place for a black American is not in the presence of a police officer. The most dangerous place for a black American -- especially for young black males -- is a black neighborhood.

Foolish athletes (and their like-minded playmates) should direct their political and social ire elsewhere. Instead, they’ve joined their Hollywood cohorts as mouthpieces for the Democratic Party. 

Take Colin Kaepernick. His failed efforts at protesting during the National Anthem were predicated upon a lie. After his initial protest in the 2016 preseason, NFL Media reported:
“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. “To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
In other words, Kaepernick has bought the lies of Black Lives Matter hook, line, and sinker. As I noted last year, the lie is this:
There’s widespread and institutionalized racism inside America’s law enforcement agencies, and black Americans are especially targeted. This racism has led to the deaths of a disproportionate number of innocent black Americans. In order to stop this heinous activity, we need more gun control legislation, more wealth redistribution, more job and education programs, and thus Americans need to elect more Democrats.
As has been refuted ad nauseam -- most notably by Heather MacDonald -- few things are further from the truth. The tragic truth is, the most dangerous place for a black American is not in the presence of a police officer. The most dangerous place for a black American -- especially for young black males -- is a black neighborhood. Again, as a 2016 report by the Manhattan Institute reveals:
  • In 2013, homicide was the leading cause of death among African-Americans aged 15–35.
  • During 1990–2008, for 93 percent of black homicide victims, the perpetrator was also black.
  • In 2009, in the 75 largest U.S. counties, blacks were charged with 62 percent of robberies, 57 percent of murders, and 45 percent of assaults -- despite constituting 15 percent of the population in those counties.
  • In 2014, in New York City, blacks committed 75 percent of shootings and 70 percent of robberies, while constituting 23 percent of the population.
  • During 2005-2014, blacks were also responsible for 40 percent of murders of police officers nationwide.
And perhaps the most shocking statistic of all: Black men in the U.S. are half as likely to die if they are in prison than if they are not. And why are these black neighborhoods so dangerous? Again, the breakdown of the black family.

It has been widely reported for years now that the out-of-wedlock birth rate among American blacks is over 70 percent. Almost always, mothers are left to raise their children alone. In U.S. cities, where the violence and poverty among U.S. blacks is most pronounced, the out-of-wedlock birth rate is even worse. For example, in Chicago about 80 percent of black children are born to single mothers. Today, only 17 percent of American black teenagers reach age 17 in a family with their biological parents married to each other. In no state in the U.S does black family intactness exceed 30 percent.

Among many other sad outcomes, fatherlessness is one of the leading predictors of future criminal activity. Children living with their married biological parents are the least likely to commit criminal acts. On the other hand, children from single-parent homes (almost always without a father) are
more likely to… engage in questionable behavior, struggle academically, and become delinquent. Problems with children from fatherless families can continue into adulthood. These children are three times more likely to end up in jail by the time they reach age 30 than are children raised in intact families, and have the highest rates of incarceration in the United States.
Far more rampant than any form of racist police discrimination is the plague of fatherlessness in the black community. Yet, when it comes to this grave matter, Colin Kaepernick and his NFL ilk are virtually silent. In fact, with their sexually immoral lifestyles and lack of devoted marriages, many of them are doing nothing but perpetuating the problem.

The same moral ignorance pervasive in the NFL is present in the NBA (and virtually every other prominent entertainment arena) as well. After an announcement that they would vote on whether to attend the White House invitation to celebrate their NBA championship, the Golden State Warriors’ biggest star, Stephen Curry, in declaring he would vote against the visit, said,
We don’t stand for basically what our president… the things that he said and the things that he hasn’t said in the right terms that we won’t stand for it. And by acting and not going, hopefully that will inspire some change when it comes to what we tolerate in this country and what is accepted and what we turn a blind eye to.
Ahhh, “tolerance.” Of course, after winning the championship in 2015, Curry and his teammates had no hesitation in visiting the Obama White House. This is particularly revealing because, like Kaepernick, Curry has long been outspoken about his Christian faith. After winning the NBA’s MVP for the 2014-2015 season, Curry said,
First and foremost I have to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for blessing me with the talents to play this game, with the family to support me, day in, day out. I’m his humble servant right now and I can’t say enough how important my faith is to who I am and how I play the game.
Curry’s shoe deal with Under Armour includes shoes that contain “4:13” and the quote, “I can do all things” which is a direct reference to Philippians 4:13. In spite of his demonstrative Christian faith, Curry seems to have a “blind eye” when it comes to the Democrat Party’s support of killing children in the womb, gender perversions, homosexuality, pornography, a redefinition of marriage, asinine climate policies, an enslaving welfare state, and so on. How “tolerant” of him.

In support of Trump’s NBA critics, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said “I am proud of our players for taking an active role in their communities and continuing to speak out on critically important issues.” Do you think Silver would have issued such a statement if, after the infamous Obergefell ruling, NBA players would have blasted the Obama administration for such an egregiously mistaken sea-change in legal policy? Me neither.

One of the greatest lies of the modern era is that consenting adults have the “right” to do whatever they wish in the sexual realm. This has led to many of the above perverse policies backed by the Democratic Party. Other than the NFL’s Ben Watson, I can think of no active professional athlete who stands against the sexual lies of the left (and actually lives it), and who outspokenly stands for the truth on life, marriage, and family.

Whatever a morally minded -- especially a so-called Christian -- person’s problem with the current President, those problems should pale in comparison to the immorality perpetrated by modern Democrats. Instead of using their high-profile platform to speak against this evil, riddled with liberals, the American entertainment industry is typically an accomplice in this evil, or at best, complicity silent.

If you want to stand against something -- especially in the political realm -- Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Curry, look to your left.

Trevor Grant Thomas - at the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason - is the author of
The Miracle and Magnificence of America


Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/09/kaepernickitis_is_rooted_in_lies.html

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.