Once Again, CAIR shows that Islamism and Civil Rights Don’t Mix

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has been claiming for years to be not merely the nation’s preeminent Muslim civil rights group, but a defender of the civil rights of all Americans.

In addition to denouncing alleged acts of “Islamophobia,” representatives of the organization have been quick to condemn acts of antisemitism, police shootings of African Americans, anti-LGBTQ violence, and so forth, while expressing solidarity with every “progressive” cause under the sun.

But peer beneath CAIR’s carefully-crafted press releases and publicity stunts and it’s clear that the group’s reactionary Islamist roots are as strong as ever.

Last week came a striking demonstration that CAIR’s support for workers’ rights is just a ruse. The group had been seeking for some time to block the Service Employees International Union from organizing the staff at its national office, claiming that it is a religious organization and therefore exempt from the National Labor Relations Act. The National Labor Relations Board rejected that argument in an April 7 ruling.

Contrast this with the high-profile appearance just weeks earlier of a CAIR representative alongside auto workers in Marietta, GA, protesting the anti-union policies of a Nissan plant.

The same hypocrisy was on display in the wake of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, FL, last year by a radical Islamist, when CAIR leaders across the country condemned anti-LGBTQ bigotry. The media fawned over a statement from the head of CAIR’s Florida chapter, Hassan Shibly, declaring his “overwhelming love and support and unity” for the LGBTQ community.

But CAIR, with it’s strong connections to the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, whose hatred of homosexuals is quite explicit, has a long history of promoting homophobia.

Indeed, Shibly himself decried homosexuality as “evil” and a “quick way to earn God’s wrath” in a 2009 Facebook essay on gay marriage. While CAIR officials have avoided such statements since Orlando, the organization continues to host radical Islamist speakers notorious for gay-bashing at its events.

For example, the radical cleric Siraj Wahhaj, a former member of CAIR’s advisory board, remains one of the organization’s most frequent speakers. Wahhaj has preached that homosexuality is “a disease of this [American] society” and reminded his congregants, “[You know what the punishment is, if a man is found with another man? The Prophet Mohammad said the one who does it and the one to whom it is done to, kill them both.”

Although CAIR officials nowadays speak of women’s rights, the mainstay of the organization’s “civil rights” work is funding lawsuits under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and other statutes to ostensibly protect the “right” of Muslim women to wear face-concealing religious garb in any and all circumstances, from police booking photos and airline security checkpoints to any number of jobs and professions that require dress codes.

“To be shown without a headscarf, it’s almost like being shown naked,” CAIR national spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told the Washington Post last year.

CAIR claims it works to protect the rights of women, but it’s really about protecting the “right” of men to oppress women. Islamists want to create a social environment in which no American Muslim woman will ever have legitimate cause to take off her hijab without the permission of her husband or male relatives.

Again, CAIR’s choice of speakers at its events reveals the duplicity of the Islamist organization’s message. One cleric promoted by CAIR, Abdul Nasir Jangda, has justified the possession of female sex slaves, and advocated marital rape as a “divinely given right.”

The mainstream media rarely challenges CAIR representatives who appear on TV claiming to support lofty ideals that conflict squarely with the extremism they preach within the Muslim-American community.

Deceit lies at the heart of lawful Islamism. Extremists that prosper in the West do so because they have learned to exploit its rhetoric and democratic processes. But it cannot be long before that hypocrisy is laid bare – perhaps it will be the next time a CAIR official expresses solidarity with a labor union.

Originally Published on the Hill.

Get Ready for the Trump Doctrine

When Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched the 21st century’s second deadliest chemical weapons attack on Tuesday, President Trump must have paged through President Obama’s playbook in responding to this century’s deadliest chemical attack less than four years earlier and resolved to do exactly the opposite. It turns out he’s onto something.

When pro-regime Syrian forces gassed the Damascus suburb of East Ghouta in 2013, a year after President Obama warned Assad that use of chemical weapons would cross a red line, the Obama administration spent three weeks preparing to do something.

Cognizant that the American public was overwhelmingly opposed to military action, it decided to win congressional authorization first. Unwilling to act alone, the administration worked to secure international support for and participation in U.S.-led retaliatory air strikes.

Concerned that U.S. military action against the Assad regime would raise expectations of a broader policy shift against Assad, making it even harder to persuade the rebels to attend U.S.-brokered peace talks, Obama administration officials worked to deflate these hopes. Secretary of State John Kerry famously assured the world that the planned strikes would be “unbelievably small.”

Obama’s response to Assad’s 2013 chemical attack was a legendary failure.

The result was a legendary failure. Angry over the intentionally negligible scope of the planned air strikes, congressional Republicans withdrew their support. Britain’s parliament voted against air strikes, while NATO allies demurred with the exception of France. Moves to secure an Arab League resolution fizzled.

President Obama ended up abandoning the planned attack in favor of a Russian-brokered commitment from Assad to dismantle his chemical weapons arsenal. Not only was the agreement not fully implemented — smaller-scale chemical weapons use continued intermittently until this week — but it forced the international community to acknowledge and deal with Assad for the first time since the civil war began, leading Sunni governments to step up support for militant Islamists and paving the way for Russia’s military intervention the following year.

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Obama’s former defense secretary, Leon Panetta, later conceded that his handling of the crisis, “sent a mixed message, not only to Assad, not only to the Syrians, but to the world.”

President Trump appears to have learned all these lessons in the wake of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town in Idlib province on Tuesday. He acted unilaterally, neither waiting for nor requesting the participation of other nations. He felt no inclination to shield himself from public backlash by seeking authorization from congress. And he acted quickly, with airstrikes coming less than three days later.

Trump’s response was quick, unilateral, and politically courageous.

Rather than assuring everyone beforehand that the planned strike would not change Washington’s posture in Syria, Trump hinted at further action, “to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria” and “end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

Although Trump’s military action was every bit as limited as the air strikes planned by the Obama administration four years ago, it is likely to be far more effective in achieving its aims.

In addition to sending a clear message to the Assad regime that the U.S. will not hesitate to punish further use of chemical weapons, Trump’s military action signals unmistakably to other states in possession of unconventional weapons that the U.S. will respond forcefully to their use. The fact that the Trump administration was visibly warming to Assad as of the beginning of this week underscores that improved relations with Washington won’t offer much protection against the consequences of WMD use.

By washing away the stain of Obama’s shameful handling of the 2013 Ghouta attack, Trump’s bold action will make it easier for the U.S. to establish and enforce red lines regarding other adversaries on a range of other issues without having to resort to force.

But here’s the kicker. Ordinarily, an American president launching unilateral military action without United Nations approval or anything but pro forma consultation with allies would elicit howls of protest from the international community — doubly so, you’d think, if his name happened to be Donald Trump. The astonishingly favorable reaction to the strike throughout the world underscores that bold American leadership and decisive action are the way to win friends, not multilateralism and diplomatic nicety.

Originally published in the Hill under the title “Trump Learned from Obama’s Mistakes and Took Action.”

J Street’s Dead End

At the end of 2017, the far-left Jewish advocacy group J Street will celebrate its 10th anniversary. At its inception, J Street promised to be the first political movement “to explicitly promote American leadership to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” However, the organization’s pursuit of this goal was an abject and damning failure.

Circumstances couldn’t have been more amenable toward J Street’s lofty goal. Within 14 months of J Street’s inception, Barack Obama swept to power in elections that also left both houses of Congress controlled by Democrats.

As president, Obama’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was groundbreaking in many ways, deviating from the positions and tone of his predecessors, both Republican and Democrat. J Street backed this shift with political cover, campaign donations, and organizational unanimity, providing a convenient panacea to American Jewish community outrage over Obama’s maneuvers.

The fledgling J Street found itself at the top table with veteran Jewish and pro-Israel organizations at the White House, with almost unprecedented access during Obama’s two terms.

It wasn’t merely a spectator: J Street saw itself as a vital part of the administration’s strategy and policy on Israel and the peace process. It prided itself on the puppeteer role it played in defending the White House or pushing its policy platform.

“We were the blocking-back, clearing space for the quarterback to do what we wanted him to do,” said J Street’s president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, in 2011. He added, Obama “hasn’t been able to push as aggressively as we would like,” and J Street has “switched from being out front and clearing the way, to pushing him to do something more.”

Something more turned out to be a lot less.

During the full eight years of the Obama administration, which set as one of its foreign policy goals a peaceful resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas never sat in the same room for more than a few hours in total.

While Netanyahu constantly repeated that he was willing to meet with the Palestinian leader at any place at any time, with no preconditions, Abbas made a series of impossible preconditions that pushed meaningful negotiations further and further away. J Street ended up blaming Netanyahu for Abbas’s intransigence.

Mutual distrust between the parties may not have been greater in a generation, and it could be argued that peace is as far away as it has been since the Oslo Peace Process began. J Street’s continued criticism of the Israeli government created a pseudo-Zionist political shield on the Jewish community’s left flank that the Obama administration used to blame Israel for actions largely caused by Palestinian obstinacy.

For eight years J Street supported Obama’s destructive policies toward Israel like the unilateral settlement freeze, nuclear détente with Iran, and his allowance for international condemnation of Israeli communities in the West Bank.

As a group that prided itself on its ability to make its voice heard in the American administration’s halls of power, J Street’s inability to influence must take a very heavy responsibility for the remission of the peace process.

Moreover, in its unrelenting vision of itself as chartering new territory, it lost many ideological allies.

At the end of 2008, when Israel decided to defend itself against incessant rocket attacks from the terrorist organization Hamas in the Gaza Strip, J Street attacked Israel’s defensive actions. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism, called J Street’s reaction to Israeli policy “morally deficient, profoundly out of touch with Jewish sentiment and also appallingly naïve.”

In 2009, J Street initially tried to facilitate meetings between Richard Goldstone, lead author of a slanderous report on Israel’s war on terror in Gaza, and members of Congress.

In 2011, when it appeared to advocate for the U.S. not to veto a deeply problematic UN resolution condemning Israel, supporters like Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman of New York cut ties with the organization.

J Street also placed itself out of mainstream pro-Israel circles when it invited prominent activists in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement to its conferences and claimed that George Soros had not funded the organization until it became a matter of public record that he had in fact provided significant donations, especially during its formative years.

All of these hits have left the reputations of J Street and its combative president battered and bruised.

However, the latest election results have delivered the knock-out punch.

If perhaps the only selling point J Street could offer its potential donors in recent years has been largely unfettered (if squandered and ineffective) access to the White House, this will now be completely removed from the equation by the victory of Donald Trump and continued Republican control of both houses of Congress.

J Street has now become an organization vilified by former friends, distanced from the Left in Israel, and distrusted by many more. It may reconstitute itself in some constellation or another, but its heyday has past.

Originally Published in the Hill

Here’s how we’re getting it wrong on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, targeting the Jewish population in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, has given a new impetus to a discussion on violent conquest, occupation and colonization, which most of the international community rightly understands as immoral and illegal.

However, when taking into account 3,000 years of history and context, Palestinian Arabs, not indigenous Israeli Jews, become the offending party.

If one people violently conquered the territory of an indigenous people, forced them to declare allegiance to the conquering nation and creed at the point of a sword, foisted a culture, religion and language on the conquered people and treated those who refused as second-class citizens with far fewer rights, there would rightly be outcry, derision and, above all, condemnation.

If such actions are wrong and unconscionable in principle, it should not matter when they took place — whether it was a few decades or a number of centuries ago.

Nevertheless, this principle is not accepted by the United Nations. In fact, it is turned on its head.

Around 1,300 years ago, descendants and followers of the Prophet Mohammad from Arabia poured out of the Peninsular in an orgy of conquest, expansionism and colonization. They first annihilated ancient Jewish tribes in places like Yathrib (known today as Medina) and Khaybar before sweeping north, east and west, conquering what is today known as the Middle East, North Africa and even southern Europe.

Wherever Arab and Islamic rulers conquered, they imposed their culture, language and — most significantly — their religion.

At first, Arab settlers and conquerors did not want to intermingle with their indigenous vassals. They often lived in segregated quarters or created garrison towns from which they imposed their authority on native populations.

Over time, non-Arab converts to Islam were assimilated into Arab-Muslim society through tribal “clientage,” which Abd Al-Aziz Duri describes in The Historical Formation of the Arab Nation, as “help[ing] to promote both the spread of Arabic and the expansion of Arabisation,” while slavery became rampant and unfettered.

Slowly, but surely, the “Arab world” that we know today was artificially and aggressively imposed.

Ancient communities were destroyed, cultures suppressed and peoples were expelled. Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians were given the status of al-Dhimma, a people who were heavily oppressed and taxed under law, with few civil rights and constantly under threat of expulsion or annihilation in many parts of the region.

Even today, Arab elites refer to their origins in the Arabian Peninsular, and many villages and tribes across the Middle East keep lineage records to stress their origins far from where their families may have resided for generations.

In the Land of Israel, which was renamed Syria Palaestina after the Roman suppression and expulsion of the indigenous Jewish inhabitants in 135 CE, some Jewish communities remained on their lands and in their cities for hundreds of years. Even Arab writer Muqaddasi complained in 985 CE that “the Jews constitute the majority of Jerusalem’s population.”

The Jews, the last people to hold sovereignty and independence in the land, were subsequently harassed and unequally treated by a series of Roman, Byzantine and Muslim conquerors, whether Fatimid, Ayyubid, Mamluk or Ottoman.

Still, the Jewish presence never disappeared.

Jewish holy sites, like the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb, were built over with mosques, and with the imposition of a new Islamic religious and cultural imperialism, Jews were given limited or no rights of worship.

When many Jews started returning to their ancestral land in the late 19thand early 20th centuries after an extremely difficult dispersion, they never sought to disrupt or disturb those whose ancestors had conquered and occupied the territory while they were in their long exile.

Unfortunately, today, in most people’s view of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians — a self-identity barely two generations old — the colonized have become the colonizers and the role of the native Jewish population turned upside down.

According to the United Nations, indigenous people are identified as having a history of pre-settler or colonial societies; a distinct language, culture and political system; and a place where the foundations of their civilizations were created.

In this conflict, only one people — the Jews — meet the criteria of indigeneity, while it is abundantly clear from a cursory understanding of history that the Arab Palestinians do not, as their origins, language, culture and religion came from elsewhere.

One of the most remarkable but overlooked elements of Israel’s history is that the majority of its Jews, almost a million of whom were ethnically cleansed from the Middle East and North Africa in the 20th century, threw off the language and elements of the culture that had been imposed on them throughout the Arab world to reclaim their ancient linguistic and cultural heritage in their ancestral homeland.

This is the long misunderstood historical context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is absolutely a conflict between an oppressed people fighting every day for the freedom to live in their ancestral and indigenous homeland against settlers and occupiers.

If the lens of history is widened, it becomes clear that the current paradigm of the Jewish people as settlers and colonizers and the Palestinians as native to the territory is the opposite of the truth.

The opposition to violent conquest, occupation and colonization is either a matter of principle, which should render it timeless, or there is a statute of limitations against these immoral and illegal acts, which should provide succor to those who continue to rule the lands belonging to other peoples.

Originally Published in The Hill.


What is Obama’s end game on Israel?

President Obama’s decision to engineer passage of U.N. Security Council 2334 in the final weeks of his presidency wasn’t a bid to revive the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process,” a “parting shot” at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, or any of the other characterizations splashed across cable news chyrons over the weekend. Rather, it was intended to irrevocably destroy the viability of the very “two-state solution” the president claims to be protecting.

 Obama was widely expected to take some kind of action against Israel, which he blames for both the failure of his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives and his difficulties convincing a skeptical Congress to back his Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. Most thought this would come through a public speech in the form of an Eisenhower-type farewell warning about Israeli perniciousness or proposed final settlement terms. The smart money had the president giving his assent to a U.N. Security Council resolution criticizing Israeli settlement policies or recognizing Palestinian statehood in some way.

But no one expected President Obama to directly engineer and coordinate a Security Council resolution condemning all Jewish communities in lands captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War as “a flagrant violation under international law” with “no legal validity” and demanding that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.”

Resolution 2334 goes far beyond the administration’s previously expressed positions. Its blanket condemnation of “settlements” includes bustling Jewish communities along the east side of the green line — places negotiators on both sides have accepted will be retained by Israel in a final settlement (in exchange for Israeli land west of the green line).

The resolution’s blanket demand for a cessation of “all settlement activities” explicitly bars “natural growth,” which is to say that Jewish communities may not expand their housing stock even to accommodate new births. This would force Israelis living on the wrong side of the green line, many of them religiously devout and aspiring to have large families, to make gut-wrenching choices — a de facto imposition of China’s one-child policy. The “obvious objective” of the demand, as Charles Krauthammer explained early on in Obama’s tenure, “is to undermine and destroy these towns — even before negotiations.”

So extreme a resolution is devastating to the cause of Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy. Having balked at making compromises before 2334, what Palestinian leader will now drop demands for all territory to which the U.N. says Israelis have no claim?

The White House clearly colluded in the resolution’s language and the timing (right before the Christmas holiday weekend, the most ideal news-dump timeslot of the year in U.S. media markets). Although previous administrations occasionally abstained on Security Council votes against Israel, these were nearly all in response to specific actions, such as its annexation of the Golan Heights and 1981 air attack on the Iraqi nuclear reactor. This resolution happened because Obama wanted it as part of a larger purpose.

The only conceivable ends toward which orchestration of this resolution would constitute the most rational means is the reinvigoration of the worldwide anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, at the very moment when international preoccupation with jihadist terror and pushback regarding its rampant anti-Semitism were beginning to limit its growth.

With Israelis and Palestinians largely out of the headlines since the collapse of Syria, the rise of ISIS, and Islamist terror assault on Europe, Obama single-handedly brought about what The New York Times casually called the “return of the Palestinian cause to the world stage.” And what university administrator is now going to crack down on student groups calling for a Judenrein Jerusalem when President Obama himself has done just that?

After spending most of his political life disavowing his far-leftist ideological and political roots, has Obama revealed himself to be the radical Third Worldist progressive his critics always suspected he was? Perhaps, but his willingness to shatter this carefully constructed public façade while still in office — and likely weaken the Democratic Party in the process — purely to take action against a nation of only 8 million people on the other side of the globe suggests there is something even more malevolent at work here.

Originally Posted at the Hill.



John Kerry is Dead Wrong about Israeli Settlements

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which describes Israel’s settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem as illegal, should never have passed last week. But the U.S. refused to use its veto power, in part because, as Secretary of State John F. Kerry explained in a speech on Wednesday, the Obama administration believes settlements are an obstacle to peace in the Middle East. In the outgoing administration’s view, extreme criticism is, conversely, necessary to advance the peace process.

This argument is dead wrong. Still, let’s examine it.

Although administration officials have been reluctant to explain the precise reasoning behind their last-minute series of attacks on Israel, as near as I can tell it rests on three assumptions.

The first, as Kerry outlined in his speech, is that a freeze on Israeli settlement growth makes it easier for Palestinian negotiators to make painful compromises at the negotiating table. It supposedly does this by easing Palestinian suspicions that Israel either won’t make major territorial concessions at the negotiating table, or won’t implement these concessions once made.

The main impediment to compromise is Palestinian unwillingness to accept the existence of a Jewish state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put this assumption to the test in November 2009 when he imposed a 10-month moratorium on new housing construction (East Jerusalem excepted) at the urging of the Obama administration.

What happened? Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refused to return to talks until the very end of the moratorium and remained every bit as intransigent as before.

The main impediment to Palestinian compromise is not Palestinian suspicion; it is the fundamental unwillingness of Palestinian leaders across the spectrum to accept the existence of a Jewish state alongside their own.

Some settlement growth makes it easier for Palestinian moderates to build public support for compromise.

What’s more, a strong case can be made that some settlement growth actually makes it easier for Palestinian moderates to build public support for compromise by underscoring that a continuation of the status quo is untenable and injurious to Palestinian national aspirations in the long run.

The Obama administration’s second assumption is that pressure from the international community or from the United States will bring about this supposedly desirable settlement freeze.

However, by collapsing the distinction between East Jerusalem and bustling Israeli towns just inside the West Bank — which no major Israeli political party will contemplate abandoning — and the remaining settlements, most of which Israelis are willing to give up, this policy does the opposite.

“It is a gift to Bibi Netanyahu, who can now more easily argue to Israelis that the bad relationship with America these last eight years wasn’t his fault,” notes the writer Jonah Goldberg.

Finally, even if it were true that a settlement freeze would make it easier for Palestinian negotiators to trust Israel and that international pressure would increase the willingness of Israeli leaders to accept such a freeze, these effects would be far overshadowed by the problems created by branding Israeli claims outside the 1949 armistice line illegal and invalid.

Palestinian leaders will have double the trouble compromising now that the UN has endorsed their maximalist demands.

Since Palestinian leaders already have trouble justifying to their people the abandonment of territorial claims to Ma’ale Adumim, the Jewish quarter in Jerusalem, and so forth, they will have double the trouble now that the United States has endorsed these demands. What Palestinian leader can sign away territory to which Washington and the Security Council have declared Israelis have no legitimate claim?

Kerry stated plainly that Israel is to blame for the demise of the two-state process, and that — unless its leaders listen to counsel — Israel will not survive as both a Jewish and a democratic state. Now that the administration’s views are crystal clear, pundits should spare us the back and forth on whether its eleventh-hour obsessions are good for peace – no one as smart as Obama or Kerry can possibly believe that it is.

The more interesting question, sure to be the focus of congressional hearings next year, is why the administration used its last few weeks to damage relations with Israel.

Originally Posted in the Los Angeles Times.


As Trump Charts New Mideast Policy, White House Contemplates Sabotage

Originally published under the title “Trump Is No Obama on Middle East Policy.”

After their first meeting, with cameras broadcasting their every word across the globe, President Obama turned to Donald Trump and pledged “to do everything we can to help you succeed.” Media outlets across the spectrum fawned over his magnanimity.

Guess again. Washington DC insiders widely expect the president to launch a bold effort to constrain the president-elect’s options in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by supporting unilateral international recognition of Palestinian statehood, possibly in the UN Security Council.

U.S. policy has long maintained that a Palestinian state should be established in conjunction with a comprehensive peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

While Israel has said time and time again that it is eager to live alongside a Palestinian state, the Palestinian leadership has remained unwilling to make the necessary concessions for a final status agreement, such as accepting the existence of a Jewish state alongside their own. Indeed, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has steadfastly maintained that millions of Palestinians must have the “right of return” to Israel – a move that would effectively eviscerate a Jewish Israel.

Instead of pursuing a peaceful path to statehood, Palestinian leaders have incited violence against Israel, while trying to persuade the rest of the world to recognize Palestinian statehood in the absence of peace.

Amid surging anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, European governments have come under intense pressure to recognize a Palestinian state. Sweden was the first Western European government to do so in 2014. Legislatures in the United Kingdom, Spain, and France have passed (largely non-binding) resolutions doing so.

Successive U.S. administrations have vocally opposed unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood by the United Nations and other international actors, maintaining correctly that it would irreparably damage the prospects for a viable, secure two-state solution.

In a position paper released last week, the Trump campaign emphasized that “the U.S. cannot support the creation of a new state where terrorism is financially incentivized, terrorists are celebrated by political parties and government institutions, and the corrupt diversion of foreign aid is rampant,” pledged to veto any UN action that unfairly targets Israel, and affirmed that Palestinians must first “renounce violence against Israel or recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state” before being granted statehood.

In seeking to overturn longstanding precedent and thwart the expressed policy positions of his successor, Obama presumably hopes that supporting (or not vetoing) a UN Security Council resolution on Palestinian statehood will create an irreversible fait accompli that will eventually spur Israel to make concessions, like a settlement freeze, which will in turn strengthen moderates on the Palestinian side.

It’s the same thinking that led the United States to make concession after concession in the Iran nuclear deal, and it is likely to backfire in the same way. Unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will communicate to Palestinian leaders that they do not need to concede anything and validate the use and incitement of violence, vindicating hardliners.

Until the Palestinian leadership can recognize and accept a Jewish state in the land of Israel, the United States must continue working to prevent international recognition of a Palestinian state.

A Trump national security adviser warned the Obama administration last week not “to try to push through agenda items that are contrary to the president-elect’s positions.” President-elect Trump should follow up by publicly reaffirming that his administration will vigorously oppose unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood and will not be bound by commitments the current administration has made or will make regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The rest of us should do our part by calling on President Obama to respect the will of voters and allow his duly-elected successor to chart a new course in Mideast policy without any impediments.


More Islamist Money Flows to Hillary Clinton

Originally published at the Middle East Forum.

The Middle East Forum’s “Islamist Money in Politics” (IMIP) project has recorded an additional $12,061 in campaign contributions from Islamist sources to Hillary Clinton since releasing its list of the top ten recipients of Islamist money for 2015-2016 on October 20. The new figures come from just-released FEC filings from August and September.

Mrs. Clinton has padded her lead atop the list, accepting $53,226 from prominent Islamists. This includes $16,216 from individuals associated with the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a group with deep ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. MPAC’s current president, Salam al-Marayati, was kicked off a congressional commission in 1999 when his defense of terrorist groups came to light.

Presidential candidate Evan McMullin has vaulted to sixth place on the list, accepting $5,400 from Islamists in August and September. Among other current presidential candidates, Jill Stein has accepted $250; Donald Trump and Gary Johnson have not received any Islamist money.

For full details of all Islamist contributions in a sortable database, click here.

While the amounts of Islamist donations are relatively small, the information: (1) holds politicians accountable for accepting funds from soiled sources; (2) signals the Islamist lobby’s affections and intentions; and (3) tells voters who takes money from individuals linked to enemies of the United States and its allies.

Islamists – be they violent or lawful – seek a caliphate and imposition of Shari’a law. This is what Khomeini, Bin Laden, and ISIS believe in.

Islamist Money in Politics shines a light on Islamist influence in U.S. politics by making public the campaign contributions of 1,356 leading figures in America’s most important Islamist groups. To date, IMIP has documented 3,005 Islamist contributions worth $1.45 million.

Launched in 2014, the non-partisan project continually updates contribution data to educate politicians themselves and the public.

The Middle East Forum promotes American interests through intellectual, activist, and philanthropic efforts.


Break the BDS

Obama’s November Surprise

Originally posted in The Hill.

With last year’s Iran nuclear deal appearing less and less likely to go down in the history books as a legacy foreign policy achievement, there is growing speculation that President Obama will spring a diplomatic surprise on Israel during the interregnum between the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 and his departure from office in January.

Some say the surprise will be a speech laying down parameters for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute or some type of formal censure of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but the scenario generating most discussion is a decision to support, or perhaps not to veto a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state.

This would be a bombshell. Washington’s long-stated policy is that a Palestinian state should be established only through an agreement negotiated directly between the two sides. In practice, this would require that Palestinian leaders agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and concede the so-called “right of return” for refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants to areas within Israel’s borders, a prospect which would mean the demographic destruction of Israel.

For decades, Palestinian leaders have made it clear they won’t do this: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t mince words, telling a gathering of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo in November 2014, “We will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.” Efforts to win recognition of Palestinian statehood by foreign governments and multilateral institutions are designed to skirt this precondition for statehood.

Any state that comes into existence without Palestinian leaders formally recognizing Israel will be a brutal, unstable train wreck, with areas under its jurisdiction likely to remain a hotbed of terrorism. On top of whatever existing factors are producing the endemic corruption and autocracy of the Abbas regime (not to mention the Hamas regime in Gaza), unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will vindicate radicals who have been saying all along that there’s no need to compromise.

Break the BDS

On the other hand, official Palestinian acknowledgement once and for all that Israel is not just here to stay, but has a right to stay, would deprive Palestinian leaders of time-honored tools for manipulating their constituents – appealing to and inflaming their baser anti-Jewish prejudices, promising them salvation if they’ll only shut up ‘til the Zionists are defeated, and so forth. Instead, they will have to do things like govern well and create jobs to win public support.

Previous American administrations have understood that recognizing Palestinian statehood before Abbas and company allow Palestinian society to undergo this transformation would be the height of irresponsibility. This is why American veto power has consistently blocked efforts to unilaterally establish a Palestinian state by way of the UN Security Council.

Notwithstanding his apparent pro-Palestinian sympathies and affiliations prior to running for the Senate and later the White House, President Obama initially maintained this policy. The expressed threat of an American veto foiled Abbas’ 2011 bid to win UN member-state status for “Palestine.” He settled for recognition of non-member-state status by the General Assembly in 2012.

As moves by the PA to bring the issue of statehood to the UN picked up steam last year, however, it appeared to walk back this commitment. While U.S officials privately maintained there was “no change,” Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power refused – despite theurging of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – to state publicly that the U.S. would use its veto to stop a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood.

The conventional wisdom was that Obama’s refusal to make such a public declaration was intended to exert pressure on Netanyahu to tone down his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and later to punish him for it or hold it out to secure concessions. As his presidency enters its final months, it’s clear something even more nefarious is at work.

President Obama’s failure to clarify his administration’s position has greatly damaged prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Even if it is Obama’s intention to veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes up at the UN, his refusal to publicly state this – or, put differently, his determination to go on the record for the history books not saying it – has fueled perceptions among Palestinians and European governments facing pressures of their own that American will is softening.

It is imperative that Congress use the tools at its disposal to make this unwise path as difficult as possible for the Obama Administration.

Ultimately, a one-sided UN declaration such as this serves only to postpone by a long shot the day when Palestinian leaders accept Israel as it is – the homeland of the Jewish people – and allow their subjects to enjoy the lasting peace and prosperity they and their neighbors deserve.