[Premium] Trump’s Tariff’s Will Force Israel to Choose Between India and China

With all the flack President Trump has received on his steel tariff’s from the MSM, most observers are missing the point of the decision. Trump understands that China and the USA are already engaged in economic warfare, with China winning.  The tariffs are designed to balance out China’s trade policy.

More important than the effects of the tariffs, the signal from the Trump administration is that China is essentially American enemy number one.  This has a tremendous effect across the world.  With alliances consolidating from the east to west, Trump is trying to nudge allies to make a decision.

Israel is not immune to this challenge.  Since the early 2000’s it has courted both India and China with tremendous success.  Of course India is seen as more important and has been raised to the level of a strategic ally, which places Israel in the middle of the Indo-Chinese rivalry.

Up until now, Israel has been able to stay neutral on issues of dispute between China and India, yet with the USA making China into enemy number one, Israel appears to be heading towards a crossroads.  Of course, the decision in many ways was helped along by China’s actions towards India and its support of Pakistan which is an enemy of India and adversary of Israel.  China’s disregard of civil rights, persecution of opposition dissent, and the now appointement of President Xi for life make Israel’s decision that much easier.

What About the Chinese Investment Potential

While its true Israel will have to do away with Chinese money, the investments China has made seem to be part of a larger strategy of control.  One just needs to ask Zambia on how their ability to have self determination has gone since the Chinese have taken over the copper and coal industry there.

Zambia Reports published the following a few days ago: “The Zambia Association of Timber and Forestry Based Industry has alleged that about 5,000 mukula laden containers from Zambia have been exported to China following the ban on the exportation of timber species in 2017.”

According to the report the government appears to be working with China to help illegally export the mukula.  Of course China loves to insist that it is positively investing in Zambia.

Israel has deftly avoided going down the same route as Zambia and although the lure of Chinese investments can be great, Jerusalem realized early on that dealing with China is like a drug that feels great in the beginning but can be deadly down the line.

Trump’s tariff decision has now begun to force the concretization of new alignments that have already been underway.  As the trade wars and potential direct conflicts between China and the USA heat up, look for even more increased partnerships between Israel and India and a dampening of Israel-Chinese relations.


Bibi Netanyahu: “This will be remembered by our people through the ages”

Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Donald Trump held their first meeting after Trump’s dramatic decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.  In opening remarks President Trump spoke about his decision on Jerusalem.

“No one could get past Jerusalem, we’ve taken it off the table,” adding that he believes the Palestinians intend to return to the negotiating table, “and if they don’t, there will be no peace.”

In connection to his potential arrival for the US Embassy opening in Jerusalem, the President said the following: “We’re looking at coming. If I can, I will, but I’ll be there again. Israel is very special to me.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu said the following:

“Thank you. Mr. President, Donald, Melania, Sara and I want to thank you for your extraordinary friendship and hospitality. It’s always a pleasure to see you both.

This is the first time we meet Washington, America’s capital, after you declared, Mr. President, Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. And this was a historic proclamation, followed by your bold decision to move the embassy by our upcoming national Independence Day.

I want to tell you that the Jewish people have a long memory, so we remember the proclamation of the great king, Cyrus the Great, Persian king 2,500 years ago. He proclaimed that the Jewish exiles in Babylon could come back and rebuild our Temple in Jerusalem. We remember a hundred years ago, Lord Balfour, who issued the Balfour Proclamation that recognized the rights of the Jewish people in our ancestral homeland. We remember 70 years ago, President Harry S. Truman was the first leader to recognize the Jewish state. And we remember how a few weeks ago, President Donald J. Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Mr. President, this will be remembered by our people through the ages.

And as you just said, others talked about it; you did it. So, I want to thank you on behalf of the people of Israel, and I also look forward to our discussions on both challenges and opportunities.

If I had to say what is our greatest challenge in the Middle East to both our countries, to our Arab neighbors, it’s encapsulated in one word: Iran. Iran has not given up its nuclear ambitions. It came out of this nuclear deal emboldened, enriched. It’s practicing aggression everywhere, including on our own borders. And I think we have to stop this country that chants, “Death to Israel, death to America.” Iran must be stopped. That is our common challenge.

The second is seeking, because of that challenge, to exploit the opportunity for peace, because the Arabs have never been closer to Israel; Israel has never been closer to the Arab states. And we seek also to broaden that peace to the Palestinians.

So I look forward to those discussions, but I want to just reiterate what you just said: Mr. President, I’ve been here for nearly four decades with, talking, seeking to build the American-Israel alliance. Under your leadership, it’s never been stronger. And the people of Israel see your position on Jerusalem. They see your position on Iran. They see your magnificent defense of Israel and the truth in the United Nations. And I as prime minister see something that you as president see, but others can’t see. It’s the extent of our intelligence and other cooperation in matters that are vital for the security of both our peoples.

And Mr. President, I just want to say: Thank you for your leadership and thank you for your tremendous friendship”.


PACKERS CORNER: Purim, Bibi, and the Trump Peace Plan

Its been a very hectic week in the Middle East and especially in Israel. So its Purim tonight and by tomorrow and if you’re celebrating correctly then you won’t remember anything, so let’s get right into it.
In Syria, things continue to get crazier and crazier. Turkey is doubling-down in Afrin (northwest Syria) and now sending in special forces. The Kurds continue to hold tough and now have some help from Syrian Government forces. Meanwhile, in the northeast of Syria, America went for the full Purim attack on Russian mercenary forces and Syrian/Iranian forces, killing at least 200 and wounding something like 200 more – out of a force of approximately 500. The short story is that the US and their primarily Kurdish allies have carved out an autonomous region east of the Euphrates River. For some reason, the Syrians/Russians/Iranians decided that now would be the right time to try and seize some of those areas, especially where there is oil. It turns out that now was not the right time. Remains to be seen if there will be further effects from this incident that reverberate throughout Syria. Important to keep in mind that Bashar Assad, the President of Syria, still only controls about 50% of Syria, the rest being held by rebels and Kurds (with US backing). This one ain’t nearly over. Over 600 people killed near Damascus (the capital!!) in just the last week and a half!
Turning to Israel. Everything fell apart and then it didn’t, but it still could.
-The FOUR investigations against the Prime Minister continue with no end in sight. The fourth investigation (“case #4000”) was reported to be quite serious and then the judge and investigator were proven to be secretly coordinating their efforts. Big legal no-no. This one may be a dud as well. Too soon to say. Endless.
-Coalition trouble. Big fight between the Haredi parties and Avigdor Lieberman and his goons. The reason – a new draft law. When the Haredi parties joined the Government it was on condition that a new draft law be passed (previous one was struck down by the Supreme Court) that would protect yeshiva students from having to go to the army. Lieberman thinks the army should decide the perameters of the law. So far, no one has quit, or even threatened to quit, the Government. Theoretically, the Haredi-proposed law can pass without Lieberman and his party’s support and that’s likely what will happen.
-The Supreme Court today ruled to delay the destruction of the 15 houses in the Jewish Community of Netiv Ha’Avot in Gush Etzion (Judea/Southern West Bank) for another 3 months, giving time for temporary houses to be built for the families to live in until permanent houses are built nearby. How many permanent houses will be built? A new government decision has ordered the legalization of Netiv Ha’Avot and the building of 350 more homes there. The point of the “Peace Now” lawsuit was to destroy the Jewish Community there but it was switched around and the Community will now (legally) thrive!  Coincidence that it happens near Purim – not bloody likely.
Finally, just tonight reports are coming out supposedly revealing details of the Trump Administration’s soon-to-be-released peace plan. Already there are those condemning it and those saying the reports are not accurate. Could go any which way. Who knows at this point. Nothing new in the plan, at least how’s its being reported. More of the same and will most likely end up the same as well – dustbin of history.
And as it was then, so should it be now:
“Now in the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, on the thirteenth day of the same, when the king’s commandment and his decree drew near to be put in execution, in the day that the enemies of the Jews hoped to have rule over them; whereas it was turned to the contrary, that the Jews had rule over them that hated them;” (Esther 9:1)

Trump, Netanyahu and the Post-Oslo era

If the peace process ends, Netanyahu will present his own plan.

You wouldn’t know it from the news, but this week, the probability that Israel will apply its law to areas of Judea and Samaria rose significantly.

This week was first time that either Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or the Trump administration ever addressed the possibility of Israel applying its law to areas of Judea and Samaria.

Lawmakers from Bayit Yehudi and the Likud have prepared separate bills on the issue. MK Bezalel Smotrich’s Bayit Yehudi party bill calls for Israel to apply its law to Area C – the parts of Judea and Samaria located outside Palestinian population centers.

The second bill, proposed by Likud MK Yoav Kisch, calls for Israel to apply its law to the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. The Likud’s central committee unanimously passed a resolution in December calling for the government to implement such a policy.

On Monday, Netanyahu met with the Likud Knesset faction to convince the lawmakers to postpone consideration of Kisch’s bill. Netanyahu gave two justifications for his position.

First, he said that he wants to discuss the issue with the Trump administration. Netanyahu explained, “On the topic of applying sovereignty [in Judea and Samaria], I can tell you that for some time now I have been discussing the issue with the Americans.”

Netanyahu continued, “Our relationship with them is a strategic asset to the State of Israel and the settlement enterprise.”

Netanyahu’s statement was very general. The media chose to interpret it to mean that Netanyahu was lobbying the Trump administration to support the application of Israeli law to parts of Judea and Samaria.

But that is not at all what he said. He said that he is discussing the issue with the Americans and that he wants to maintain the good relations Israel now enjoys with the Trump administration because those relations are a strategic asset for Israel.

The second guiding principle Netanyahu said inform his position on applying Israeli law to parts of Judea and Samaria contradicts the notion that he wants the Trump administration to adopt the cause of applying Israeli law in Judea and Samaria as an American position.

Netanyahu said he opposes Kisch’s bill because he believes that applying Israeli law to the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria is “an historic undertaking.”

Netanyahu said, “This has to be a government initiative and not a private one, because this is a historic undertaking.”

Before considering the implications of Netanyahu’s second guiding principle, we need to examine carefully consider the US position on the issue.

Netanyahu’s general statement to the Likud Knesset faction provoked a media maelstrom. The outcry compelled the Trump administration to respond. The manner it responded to the media storm was instructive.

The administration’s first response came at the conclusion of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo. Tillerson was in Egypt on the first leg of his regional tour to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Given his hosts’ opposition to President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December, the State Department was certainly not interested in having the US embroiled in Israeli discussions about applying Israel law to areas in Judea and Samaria.

And yet, in his media appearance, Tillerson ignored the issue. He told reporters, “The Trump administration remains committed to achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

As the media storm in Israel and the region over Netanyahu’s remarks expanded with Palestinian condemnations of his statement, a senior diplomatic source in Jerusalem clarified Netanyahu’s remarks to reporters.

The senior diplomatic source explained that Netanyahu “has not presented the United States specific proposals for annexation, and the US has not expressed its agreement with any such proposal. Israel updated the US on the varying proposals that have been raised that the Knesset. The US expressed its clear position that it wishes to advance President Trump’s peace plan. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position is that if the Palestinians maintain their refusal to negotiate, Israel will present its own alternative.”

This statement is the most revealing statement any senior official has made on the issue of applying Israeli law to areas of Judea and Samaria. The senior official told us several things we didn’t know.

First, Netanyahu plans to wait to present any new Israeli position on Judea and Samaria until after Trump presents his peace plan.
Second, Netanyahu will postpone consideration of any plan to present an independent Israeli initiative if the Palestinians agree to return to the negotiating table.

Finally, like Tillerson, the senior Israeli official did not say that the US opposes Israeli plans to apply Israeli law to parts of Judea and Samaria.

Later on Monday, in response to virulent criticisms of the US following Netanyahu’s remarks, the Trump administration stiffened its tone.

White House spokesman Josh Raffel issued what the media presented as a harsh rebuke of Netanyahu’s statement before the Likud Knesset faction members.

“Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false, Raffel said.

“The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian initiative.”

Did Raffel’s statement tell us anything new? Not really.

The senior diplomatic source said Netanyahu has updated the administration on the various proposals for applying Israeli law to areas of Judea and Samaria. He didn’t say Netanyahu held discussions with administration officials about the various proposals. And the senior diplomatic source said that the US remains committed to advancing Trump’s peace plan.

In other words, there is no inherent contradiction between Netanyahu’s statement at the Likud faction meeting, the statement by the Israeli senior diplomatic source, Tillerson’s statement and Raffel’s statement. None of them said that Israel is interested in having the US support applying Israeli law to Judea and Samaria. None of them said the Trump administration opposes applying Israeli law to Judea and Samaria.

They all said the Trump administration is committed to advancing its own peace plan.

The sense that the dispute between Netanyahu and the White House was more apparent than real was reinforced on Tuesday at the State Department press briefing.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Neuert had no response to the news that the Knesset passed legislation placing Ariel University under the auspices of the Council of Higher Education, instead of a designated special council that deals specifically with higher education institutions in Area C. Like everyone else, she restated the administration’s commitment to advancing its own peace plan.

And this brings us to the peace plan the administration is now preparing.

Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem say that Netanyahu has presented two positions that he believes must be incorporated in any peace plan to ensure that the plan, if implemented will produce peace rather than war.

First, Netanyahu insists that the Palestinians must recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Second, Netanyahu insists that Israel must maintain permanent control over the eastern border with Jordan.

These goals are eminently reasonable. Israel cannot share sovereignty west of the Jordan River with an entity that rejects its right to exist. So any peace deal must involve Palestinian acceptance of the Jewish state’s right to exist.

By the same token, even in an era of peace, Israel cannot surrender its ability to defend itself. Since Israel cannot defend itself without perpetual control over the Jordan Valley, Israel cannot sacrifice its control over the Jordan Valley. Any deal Israel strikes with the Palestinians that does not include perpetual Israeli control over the Jordan Valley is a recipe for war.

If Trump accepts Netanyahu’s position and incorporates it into his peace plan, then as far as Netanyahu is reportedly concerned, the negotiations can begin in earnest.

On the other hand, if the Palestinians refuse to accept these conditions, then the peace process will be over.

And if the peace process ends, Netanyahu will present his own plan. That plan, apparently will look a lot like the Likud central committee’s plan to apply Israeli law over the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria.

Rather than supporting someone else’s bill, Netanyahu will present the plan to the cabinet for approval and then introduce it as a bill to the Knesset, just as then prime minister Menachem Begin applied Israeli law to the Golan Heights in 1981.

While all of these developments may appear odd, we have been here before.

In many ways, the situation today recalls the situation in 1992. In 1992, the US was sponsoring peace talks between Israel and its Arab neighbors in Washington. Without informing the Americans, after taking office in 1992, the government of Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres began carrying out secret talks with the PLO under the auspices of the Norwegian government in Oslo.

After the first Oslo deal was concluded in August 1993, Rabin sent Peres and then-Foreign Ministry legal adviser Joel Singer to the US to brief then-secretary of state Warren Christopher on the agreement. Rabin hoped Christopher would agree to present the deal as an American peace plan. Rabin believed that the Israeli public would be more supportive of a deal with an American imprimatur.

In a 1997 interview with Middle East Quarterly, Singer described the meeting with Christopher. Singer recalled that as Christopher read the agreement for the first time, a shocked look came over his face. “His lower jaw dropped, and for the first and last time in my life, I saw Warren Christopher smile.”

But Christopher rejected Rabin’s request, all the same.

“Secretaries of state are not supposed to lie,” he told Peres and Singer.

Just as the Clinton administration was not willing to take the lead on a new strategic trajectory that placed Israel and the PLO on equal footing, so the Trump administration is not willing to initiate a new post-Oslo Middle East.

That is Israel’s job today just as it was Israel’s job in 1993.

A close reading of Netanyahu’s statement to the Likud Knesset faction makes clear that he understands this basic truth. And a close reading of the statements and counter-statements from Jerusalem and Washington following his briefing to the Likud Knesset faction indicates that if and when Netanyahu embarks on a new course, like Bill Clinton and Warren Christopher in 1993, Trump and his advisers will not stand in his way.

PACKER’S CORNER: The Middle East is a Mess

Just when you thought the Middle East couldn’t get any messier – it does! So far this week:

-Turkey continues to attack the Kurds in northwest Syria, but the Kurds seem to be hanging tough. Additionally, the Syrian rebels shot down a Russian fighter jet and then killed the pilot on the ground (because why not?). And then the American forces in Syria killed approximately 100 Syrian soldiers as they were trying to conquer areas previously liberated from ISIS.

– Another civil war has broken out in Yemen. How many civil wars does it take to stabilize Yemen? Apparently 3 isn’t enough. Now a group has broken off from the “official government” and is fighting for a southern Yemen independent entity. Surely this will be the solution to all the problems. Meanwhile, death continues to be Yemen’s #1 commodity.

– Reports emerged that Israel has been bombing ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula – part of Egypt. How many times? Like 100! This is actually not very surprising given the dramatically changing dynamics of the region that are pushing moderate sunni muslims and Israel together to combat Iran and sunni extremism. The large number of attacks is a bit surprising. Although not many Egyptian soldiers have been killed recently by ISIS, so I guess it all makes sense now.

Speaking of Israel, let’s continue with what’s going on there!

Nearly a month after the murder of Rabbi Raziel Shevach, hy’d, of Havat Gilad, there have been serious developments. The Israeli Government has declared that Havat Gilad will be LEGALIZED! As mentioned in previous pieces, this is a very big deal (and quite rare). Additionally, the leader of the terrorist cell that committed the murder was just now killed by Israeli forces. It would seem that all involved have either been killed or captured at this point – this is a good thing.

Unfortunately, in another terrorist attack in the Shomron (Samaria) region this week, another Rabbi was murdered. This time it was a stabbing and the killer remains on the run. The Rabbi killed, Itamar Ben-Gal, hy’d, lived with his wife and four children in the community of Har Bracha. Since the murder, there have been statements by right-wing Israeli politicians calling on the Government to approve significant numbers of housing permits in Har Bracha – upwards of 800. This would not only change Har Bracha (more than double it), but the entire region! A strengthening of the Jewish Presence in the area would pressure the Israeli Government to take further, bolder steps like returning permanently to Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem (nablus) and the former Jewish communities of Homesh and Sa-Nur farther to the north. (map of the area)

There have been a few other terrorist attacks since these, thankfully, much less successful. Remains to be seen if this is a new trend or just more of the same.

In less important news, leaks are leaking out of the Israeli Police (this is about the only thing they can be depended on to do) that they plan to recommend indicting Prime Minister Netanyahu on bribery charges next week. However, its only a recommendation, the Attorney General will be make the actual decision. There are reports that he thinks the whole thing is going nowhere, but we’ll have to see what happens. Regardless, its remarkable how similar the situations with Netanyahu and Trump are – on so many levels! Fascinating!

On the “diplomatic” front, President Trump’s emissaries, Ambassador David Friedman and Jason Greenblatt, are verbally sparring with the Palestinian Authority (PA) pretty regularly at this point. One can only imagine where this will lead President Trump, but its unlikely it will go well for the PA. I’d expect a vitriolic tweet sometime soon.

Israeli Government and Economy are totally stable!

FISA-gate, Russian Collusion, and the KGB Infiltration into America’s Political Ecosystem

There are times when a country must come to the conclusion that they have been hacked.  Now I don’t mean an acutal computer hacking, but rather something far more sinister.  Both Democrats and Republicans have been pointing fingers at one another in an attempt to claim the other are traitors to the country.  Ever since the Russian collusion narrative was injected into the political discourse, the assumption has been that the Trump team willfully sought out Russian help in winning the election against Hillary.  This is of course highly speculative.  With the new revelations about the FISA warrant being issued due to spurious intelligence by the FBI as well as the Hillary Clinton Campaign’s ties to Fusion GPS as well as her connection to Uranium One, it appears that the Deep State and Hillary can also be accused of collaborating with the Russians if the same lack of deep thinking is applied.

The problem with all of these assumptions is that almost no one has looked at this the other way, because both sides are trying to knock the other side out.  It is far easier to believe that Putin who is a master at disinformation from his KGB days has set both sides up against one another and that this was his intention from the beginning.

With Hillary easily influenced through her foundation as well as the floating of a “damaging” dossier, Putin’s fingerprints are all over the initial setup.  All of this mirrors Russian tactics. The result would be easy at that point to lead the FBI Deep State on a witch-hunt during the election season.  Knowing that the dossier would spark a FISA warrant, Putin would only have to lure Donald Trump’s team, which was prone to dirt digging into a meeting with a Russian lawyer and that is in fact what actually happened.

What this shows everyone, is that it is in fact Putin from his days in the KGB who has been determined to destroy the USA from the inside.

Mike Rogers, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said as much in 2014:

“Putin is playing chess and I think we’re playing marbles,” Rogers said. “I don’t think it’s even close. If you look at the nuclear negotiations, we got our fanny handed to us. They took tactical nukes out of the equation; huge mistake, especially for our allies in the Baltics. When you move down the list in Syria, the Russians got everything that they believe they needed in Syria.”

“So they’ve been running circles around us,” Rogers continued. “And I really think it’s the naive position on the National Security Council and the president’s advisors that if we just keep giving things to Russia, they’ll finally wake up and say, boy, the United States isn’t all that bad. That is completely missing the motivation of why Russia does what Russia does.”

Nothing seems to have changed since then.

If the Democrats and the Republicans do not stop and pause and thus realize they are both the unwilling puppets of the Russian regime, the USA may find itself in a situation it will not be easy to dig itself out of. This will give Putin an advantage in the unfolding neo-Cold War and place America in a peril it has never seen before.

As President Lincoln stated: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”


A new diplomacy is already changing the Middle East.

What a difference an administration makes.

Under Bush, Muslim World League secretary-general Abdullah Al-Turki described the Jews as “perfidious” and suggested that “it is the natural disposition of the Jews who inherited this deception from their forefathers.”

Under Obama, the Muslim World League Journal ran an article claiming that “Jews” and “Jewesses” run the media. It was one of many violently anti-Semitic pieces that had appeared in the publication.

Under Trump, the Muslim World League sent a letter to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum before the commemoration of International Holocaust Memorial Day expressing, “our great sympathy with the victims of the Holocaust”. It goes on to completely disavow any support for the Holocaust or its denial, “This human tragedy perpetrated by evil Nazism won’t be forgotten by history, or meet the approval of anyone, except criminal Nazis or their genre. True Islam is against these crimes. It classifies them in the highest degree of penal sanctions and among the worst human atrocities ever.”

The letter was signed by Dr. Mohammad Al Issa, the new Secretary General of the MWL who had replaced Al-Turki in the summer of ’16. The MWL is under Saudi control and Al Issa, who is loosely associated with the reformers, was appointed as major changes were sweeping the desert kingdom.

The MWL Holocaust letter never mentions the Jews by name. It was sent to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, a United States government institution, rather than a Jewish communal institution. The new alignment between the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia is based on a growing threat from Iran. The letter allows Saudi Arabia to distinguish itself from Iran’s anti-Semitic obsession with the Holocaust.

“One would ask, who in his right mind would accept, sympathize, or even diminish the extent of this brutal crime,” the Muslim World League letter asks. The answer is meant to be quite obvious.

Two years ago, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a Holocaust denial video. Iran’s bizarre obsession with Holocaust denial, convening a conference and hosting Holocaust cartoon events, is extreme even by the standards of a region where Mein Kampf is a bestseller and it’s generally believed that Hitler didn’t go far enough.

After Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left office, he claimed that his Holocaust denial “broke the spine of the Western capitalist regime.” His successor, Hassan Rouhani, tried to put on a moderate façade by being ambiguous about the subject. And that gives the Saudis an easy opening.

But it’s not just the Iranians.

Not all that long ago, the Muslim World League had hosted Muslim Brotherhood leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi at its First International Islamic Conference on Dialogue. Also present was William W. Baker, a Neo-Nazi, who found a second career appearing at Islamist events to bash Israel.

Qaradawi would later combine the typical Islamist toxic cocktail of Holocaust fantasies and denial by declaring that Allah had sent Hitler to punish the Jews.  “The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.” The believers are Muslims. The Brotherhood’s icon was fantasizing about a Muslim holocaust of the Jews. It’s a theme to which Brotherhood clerics frequently return to.

The genocidal hadith once featured in the Hamas charter has recently been preached at mosques from California to New Jersey. “Judgment day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Muslims will kill the Jews, and the Jews will hide behind the stones and the trees will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’”

In June of last year, the Muslim World League booted Qaradawi from the Islamic Fiqh Academy. The realignment was strategic. The Saudis, UAE and Egypt were fighting the Brotherhood and Qatar. The new regional battle lines put Iran, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood on the same side.

The MWL letter is meant to remind us that the Saudis are different than Iran and the Brotherhood.

The Obama era had broken the old alliance between the Brotherhood and most of their Gulf allies by giving the Islamist group too much and too soon. With political backing from the Obama regime and financial support from Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood had begun seizing entire countries. Qatar was too drunk on the power of being able to conquer countries with its checkbook to stop. Its former allies isolated it and the Sunni terror state in Doha formed an alliance with the Shiite terror state in Tehran.

The Saudis went looking for allies in strange places. One of those places was Israel. They adapted to a radical new environment with major changes at home and abroad. The MWL letter is a product of shifts in an organization associated with support for the ruthless export of Wahhabism. Those same shifts have opened some limited opportunities for women in Saudi Arabia as it questions Wahhabism.

It would be unwise to read too much into the new Saudi attitude. There have been clear political changes in response to military, social and economic threats. If those threats were to go away, if oil were once again a sure thing, if Iran were to fall apart, if the Islamists became more pliable, then reform would likely prove to be another mirage. Like Gorbachev’s Perestroika, the Saudi reforms are necessitated by circumstances rather than sincerity. They might become the real thing in time.

But it would be a mistake to confuse posturing with principle. Or to disregard its significance.

The repercussions of Osama bin Laden’s original campaign against the House of Saud have transformed the region and the world. 9/11, the Iraq War and the Arab Spring have changed everything. Iran has become a regional power. Islamist organizations have been able to seize entire countries. Energy independence for America and Europe is becoming a reality. Qatar controls the foreign media’s narrative of the region through Al Jazeera. And that narrative is very unfriendly to the Saudis.

The House of Saud responded by questioning whether its arrangement with the House of Wahhab, the two swords on the coat of arms of Saudi Arabia, temporal power and religious power, is still relevant. Its reforms negotiate a complex balancing act between modernizing its political system while still holding on to religious power. The Saudis need America more than ever even as we need them less than ever. Its show of social changes, like the abolition of slavery in response to pressure from JFK, are also a message.

Had Hillary won, the Saudis would have been left alone to mastermind a regional struggle from Yemen to Lebanon to Libya. The former Secretary of State had made it clear that she would double down on the Arab Spring. But instead Trump won. And that’s one of the reasons that the MWL letter exists.

The Trump administration is unlike any of its Republican predecessors. It mixes the type of traditional energy diplomats like Tillerson, whom the Saudis have always been very comfortable with, with non-traditional thinkers and a sprinkling of serious pro-Israel people. Unlike the Bush era neo-conservatives who believed in regional democracy, but who have been frozen out of the Trump administration, they have very little interest in the democracy folly that led to the Arab Spring. Instead they are realists who prioritize fighting terrorism and stabilizing the region by throwing out a lot of the discredited old ideas.

That’s why President Trump imposed a travel ban and recognized Jerusalem, among other moves.

The realists reflect Trump’s desire for results over the misguided fantasies that led to the Palestinian Authority and the Arab Spring. And after decades of negotiating ideological delusions from D.C., the Saudis have eagerly embraced that realism. Trump, the Saudis and the Israelis want to stop Iran, stop the destabilizing expansion of Islamist civil wars and restore a measure of stability to the region.

Trump and Netanyahu want stability because they don’t want the region’s problems to be their problems. Trump doesn’t want to have to deploy more soldiers in more wars. And Netanyahu doesn’t want to see more terrorists showing up on Israel’s borders. Neither man wants Iran to have nukes.

The Saudis want to reclaim their central role in the region. They’ve offered Trump a way out of more regional wars that will be unpopular at home and they’ve offered Netanyahu a “Palestine” solution that may appear more feasible than the PLO dead end represented by Abbas. Like the Trojan Horse, it’s best to be wary of such gifts. But for now they’ve cemented a secretive alliance in a complex conflict.

The Middle East is a region of shifting sands and illusory mirages. Like thirsty caravans crossing the bleak desert, even the experts often see what they want to see. But one thing is as clear as water in the oasis.

President Trump has redefined what we expect of the Saudis. We can’t know whether the ripples in the House of Saud extend below the surface, but we do know that America is a moral authority again.

Originally Published in FrontPageMag.

Trump Derangement Syndrome as Leftists Target Britain’s Former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks

Originally published in Breitbart
Trump Derangement Syndrome reached a new low last week, as Jewish leftists in America and Britain waged a brutal assault against Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of Britain.

It isn’t only President Donald Trump that the “Resistance” seeks to destroy. And their bloodlust isn’t limited to those who work for him, or even to his voters.

If you so much as help the administration achieve a goal that you believe in, for the “Resistance,” you are a criminal.

Sacks served as Britain’s chief rabbi from 1991 through 2013. He is arguably the most widely respected Jewish religious leader in the English-speaking world.

Sacks stands out for his universal accessibility. His written and oral Torah commentaries appeal to Jewish and non-Jewish religious scholars, and to the Jewish and non-Jewish layman, alike.

During his long tenure as Britain’s chief rabbi, Rabbi Sacks developed close working relationships with Britain’s leaders. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, David Cameron and John Major all sought his guidance during their respective tenures as prime minister. They called on Sacks to help them prepare public comments that touched on themes of his scholarship.

And so, too, did U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Last week, Pence gave an extraordinary address before Israel’s Knesset. It isn’t often that a single speech rises to the level of an historic event. But Pence’s address easily crossed the line that separates a great speech from an epic address.

In his speech, Pence gave the clearest expression of Zionism – the Jewish national liberation movement — any non-Jewish leader has ever presented. In so doing, he demolished former President Barack Obama’s narrative legacy in the Middle East. This was a critical achievement.

In June 2009, Obama laid out his ideological approach at his speech “to the Muslim world,” which he delivered at Cairo University. Obama embraced the Islamist view of Israel as a colonialist outpost of European imperialists, and of the Jews as rootless wanderers, with no historical ties — let alone indigenous rights — to the Land of Israel.

Israel, under the Arab-Islamist interpretation, is either the consequence of a conspiracy of Europeans to oppress, divide and conquer the Arabs, or a means for Europeans to expiate their collective guilt for the Holocaust.

Obama said that America’s “strong bonds” to Israel are “based upon … the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied. Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust…”.

Israeli politicians and commentators from across the political spectrum were scandalized by Obama’s remarks.

Obama was almost as contemptuous of America as he was of Israel.

Throughout his speech he drew a moral equivalence between the U.S. and its Islamist enemies: Iran and America were equally responsible for their bad relations; the U.S. was just as bad at respecting religious freedom as Islamic regimes; and so on and so forth.

By adopting the anti-American and anti-Semitic Islamist narrative of history, Obama destroyed America’s ability to wage a war of ideas in the Muslim world.

So long as the Trump administration failed to renounce this view, it remained America’s position.

But Last Monday, in his speech before the Knesset, Pence relegated Obama’s intellectual legacy on the Middle East to the dustbin of history.

In elegant prose rich in quotes from the Scriptures, Pence transported his audience through space and time over thousands of years and three continents. He disavowed Obama’s perception of Israel as a colonial outpost born of Holocaust guilt. Instead, Pence restored Israel and America to their rightful positions in human history as the bearers of the torch of freedom.

Pence said, “We stand with Israel because we believe in right over wrong, in good over evil, and in liberty over tyranny.

“We stand with Israel because that’s what Americans have always done, and so has it been since my country’s earliest days.”

He continued, “In the story of the Jews, we’ve always seen the story of America. It is the story of an exodus, a journey from persecution to freedom, a story that shows the power of faith and the promise of hope.”

Without mentioning it, Pence rejected the Islamist libel that Jews have no roots in the land of Israel. He said, “The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages, written so long ago, that ‘even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,’ from there He would gather and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed.”

Far from being regrettable but understandable byproducts of the Holocaust, as Obama alleged, Pence demonstrated that Zionism and the State of Israel are the natural consequences of the millennial attachment of the Jews to the land of their forefathers.

In the weeks before he came to Israel, Pence told his associates that he was determined to give the most pro-Israel speech ever delivered by a non-Jewish leader at the Knesset. So as he prepared his speech, like Blair and Browne, Cameron and Major, he turned to Rabbi Sacks for guidance.

Rabbi Sacks met with the Vice President in New York for ninety minutes. He helped Pence to develop the themes he wished to discuss in his address. In the weeks that followed their meeting, Pence’s office sent early drafts of his address to Sacks for his comments.

If Pence’s name had been Joe Biden, he would have been congratulated by the entire Jewish world for reaching out to Sacks. And Sacks would have been celebrated by one and all as a towering Jewish figure who helped to craft one of the most important speeches about the Jewish people, the Jewish faith, and the Jewish state ever given by a non-Jewish leader.

But alas, we are not living in normal times.

We are living at a time where the left deems anyone who treats the Trump administration as legitimate as an enemy of the people. We live in times when Jews on the left are unable to distinguish friend from foe, or discern their own interests.

The leftist Jewish media flew into a rage when Sacks’ role in drafting Pence’s speech was reported.

By helping Pence, Batya Ungar-Sargon at the far-left Jewish Forward raged, Sacks empowered Pence’s faith, which she abhors.

“Pence believes God has a plan, not just for him but also for everyone, especially if he agrees with his numerous co-religionist white evangelicals who believe that we are living in the end times.”

At London’s liberal Jewish Chronicle, the writers are beside themselves. Referring to Pence as “loathsome,” Marcus Dysch wrote: “What on earth is Jonathan Sacks, the erudite, polite, shy Englishman doing getting involved with the homophobic, extreme Christian campaigner against women’s rights who is currently serving as Vice President of the United States?”

Dysch then all but accused Sacks of selling his soul for money, writing, “There will be countless wealthy churches across Republican states now falling over themselves to invite Lord Sacks to speak.”

Matthew Gindin, an anti-Zionist Jewish leftist and former Buddhist monk, wrote that Sacks “embodies a communal failure which threatens both the Jewish soul and future.”

Sacks, Gindin said, “has chosen to sell out for Jewish power and glory.”

Notably, neither Dysch nor Gindin wrote a word about Pence’s support for Israel. They didn’t applaud his stated commitment to finding a path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians, for instance, which was a section of the speech that drew a standing ovation from Israel’s leftist lawmakers at the Knesset.

They didn’t care about that. Like Ungar-Sargon and a half dozen other writers that piled on against Pence, they hate Pence, and they hate Sacks for helping Pence, because Pence is Trump’s vice president, and because he is an evangelical Christian who takes his faith seriously. And now they hate Sacks because he helped Pence to prepare and deliver the most stunning message of support for Israel any non-Jewish leader has ever given.

It is hard to see a happy end to this madness for the Jewish Left.

Under President Trump, America is moving from strength to strength.

Just as Trump’s tax cuts brought immediate benefits to the U.S. economy, so his decision to make truth, rather than jihadist propaganda, the basis of his Middle East policy is already paying dividends.

After eight years in which Obama wouldn’t say a bad word about jihad but had no end of bad words for America and its allies, less than a week after Pence ground to dust Obama’s ideological legacy in the Middle East, the impact was already being felt.

The Muslim World League served for decades as one of the largest disseminators of jihadist doctrine worldwide. Ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, the leader of the Muslim World League published a letter condemning the Holocaust and Holocaust denial.

Sheikh Mohammed Al-Issa called the Holocaust “an incident that shook humanity to the core and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.”

“True Islam,” he added, “is against these crimes.”

Where President Trump’s determination to base America’s Middle East policy on the truth will lead is still unknown. But what is abundantly clear is that wherever it takes us will be a far better place than where Obama’s obsequious appeasement was moving the world.

Sacks should be proud of his contribution to Pence’s epic speech. He did a great service to America and to the Jewish people by helping to formulate the clearest expression of America’s historical ties to the people of Israel ever spoken. Pence is to be congratulated for turning to him for advice.

As for their liberal Jewish detractors, the longer they are moved by their hatreds rather than their reason, the more irrelevant they will become as the world moves on, freed from the moral and cognitive shackles of Obama’s intellectual legacy.

CHAOS GROWING: Turkey Risking War Against the US and Russia

Some people are gamblers and others are just downright insane.  Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey appears to be shifting from political gambler to a completely insane autocrat.  Turkey’s current invasion of the autonomous Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin has not only unnerved the United States, who is the main backer of the the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), but Russia’s Putin as well.  Given the neo Cold War relationship between Russia and the USA, Erdogan has actually accomplished an astounding feet.

Due to the SDF’s American training and advanced weaponry, Turkey has found its operation harder than originally expected.  Most leaders would stop after watching a number of their tanks get blown up in the first hours of combat, but this has made Erdogan more set on invading the Kurdish areas of Northern Syria.  He claims that he will move South into Idlib as well as moving forces into the Kurdish heartland of Manbij which hosts a sizeble American base.

Courtesy of Syria War Map

“We will rid Manbij of terrorists, as it was promised to us, and our battles will continue until no terrorist is left until our border with Iraq,” Mr Erdogan said this past Friday.

This maneuver alone brings Erdogan close to a direct confrontation with US soldiers who according to reports have not planned on moving aside for Turkey’s assault.

As far as the possibility of the US pulling its forces from the Manbig, General Joseph Votel, head of the United States Central Command, Speaking on CNN, said that withdrawing US forces from the strategically important city is “not something we are looking into.”

Yet Erdogan insists he is in the right as his Turkish forces are simply destroying “terrorists.”  The question is whether Erdogan will actually make a move against US forces in Manbij.  For the US, there has been no question that its position in the area is not only just, but necessary.

“Turkey knows where our forces are in Manbij, and what they are doing there, and why they are there –to prevent any kind of escalation between the groups who are in that area,” Dillon told Rudaw TV. “The Coalition will continue to support our Syrian Democratic Forces in the fight against ISIS. We have said this all along, and we have said this with the Kurdish elements of the SDF. We will provide them equipment as necessary to defeat ISIS.”

As if this was not enough, Erdogan’s move South to Idlib brings Russia into the mix.  The following set of Tweets from Jenan Moussa, reporter for Arabic Al Aan TV gives over another one of Erdogan’s toughtless maneuvers.

With Russia appearing not to decide to move out of the way for Erdogan’s scheme to rebuild the Ottoman Empire, the die is cast for a very explosive expansion of the Syrian war.