Thursday, July 31, 2014

Caroline Glick: Israel, Hamas and Obama’s Foreign Policy

by Caroline Glick

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post
When US President Barack Obama phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Sunday night, in the middle of a security cabinet meeting, he ended any remaining doubt regarding his policy toward Israel and Hamas.

Obama called Netanyahu while the premier was conferring with his senior ministers about how to proceed in Gaza. Some ministers counseled that Israel should continue to limit our forces to specific pinpoint operations aimed at destroying the tunnels of death that Hamas has dug throughout Gaza and into Israeli territory.

Others argued that the only way to truly destroy the tunnels, and keep them destroyed, is for Israel to retake control over the Gaza Strip.

No ministers were recommending that Israel end its operations in Gaza completely. The longer our soldiers fight, the more we learn about the vast dimensions of the Hamas’s terror arsenal, and about the Muslim Brotherhood group’s plans and strategy for using it to destabilize, demoralize and ultimately destroy Israeli society.

The IDF’s discovery of Hamas’s Rosh Hashana plot was the last straw for any Israeli leftists still harboring fantasies about picking up our marbles and going home. Hamas’s plan to use its tunnels to send hundreds of terrorists into multiple Israeli border communities simultaneously and carry out a massacre of unprecedented scope, replete with the abduction of hostages to Gaza, was the rude awakening the Left had avoided since it pushed for Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.

In other words, in their discussion Sunday night, Netanyahu and his ministers were without illusions about the gravity of the situation and the imperative of winning – however defined.

But then the telephone rang. And Obama told Netanyahu that Israel must lose. He wants an unconditional “humanitarian” cease-fire that will lead to a permanent one.

And he wants it now.

And by the way, the eventual terms of that cease-fire must include opening Hamas-controlled Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel and ending Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza coast. That is, the cease-fire must allow Hamas to rebuild its arsenal of death and destruction quickly, with US political and financial support.

Until Obama made the call, there was lingering doubt among some Israelis regarding his intentions. Some thought that US Secretary of State John Kerry might have been acting of his own accord last Friday night when he tried to force Israel to accept Hamas’s cease-fire terms.

But then Obama made his phone call. And all doubts were dispelled.

Kerry is just a loyal steward of Obama’s foreign policy.

Obama is siding with Hamas, and its Muslim Brotherhood patrons in Qatar and Turkey, against Israel, and its Sunni Arab supporters – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

It is Obama who demands that Hamas have open borders so it can resupply, and receive billions of dollars – starting with an immediate cash injection of $47 million from US taxpayers – so it can pay North Korea for more missiles and import building materials to reconstruct its tunnels.

The fact that the US’s current preference for genocidal, Jew-hating jihadists over the only liberal, pro-American, stable US ally in the Middle East is a White House position, rather than that of a rogue Secretary of State was actually exposed even before Obama’s phone call.

Sunday CNN’s Candy Crowley interviewed Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. She asked him what the administration thinks Israel can do to prevent civilians from being killed in Gaza beyond what it is already doing. Rhodes replied, “I think you can always do more.”

In other words, Rhodes said that no matter what precautions Israel takes to try to minimize Palestinian civilian deaths in Gaza, the administration will never be satisfied. The White House will never acknowledge that Israel is in the right, or that it is fighting a moral war against a barbaric foe. And since the administration will never be satisfied, Israel can expect to be condemned by various UN bodies, including the Security Council, because no matter what it does to try to earn the support of the administration, it will never receive such support.

The discovery that the Obama administration is entirely in Hamas’s corner hit all of Israel hard. But it hit the Left the hardest. Few on the Right, which recognized Obama’s hostility from the outset of his presidency, were surprised.

As for political leaders, the government cannot risk giving the administration justification for its anti-Israel policies, so senior ministers have all said nothing.

Consequently, the harshest criticisms of the administration’s pro-Hamas position were heard from quarters where rarely a peep of criticism for Obama has been heard.

The Israeli Left went ballistic.

Haaretz, the far-left broadsheet that has seldom taken issue with even the harshest rejections of Israel’s rights, went bananas after its reporter Barak Ravid received the details of Kerry’s cease-fire agreement. As Ravid put it, Kerry’s document, “might as well have been penned by Khaled Mashaal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.”

Ravid continued, “What Kerry’s draft spells for the internal Palestinian political arena is even direr: It crowns Hamas and issues Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a death warrant.”

And that is really the crux of the issue. The crowd at Haaretz is far more wedded to the PLO and Mahmoud Abbas than it is to the government of Israel. And the administration’s support for Hamas exposed the PLO as an irrelevance.

As the paper’s Amos Harel wrote the next day, Kerry’s pro-Hamas behavior convinced the Egyptians and other actors that the administration is “continuing its secret love affairs with the Muslim Brotherhood in the region.”

The Left understands that the administration’s behavior has destroyed it.

Leftists can no longer say that Israeli territorial withdrawals will win it international support.

They can no longer say that Israel will receive US support if it places the security of Palestinian civilians above the security of its own civilians and military forces.

They can no longer say that the PLO is the answer.

The Israeli Left has been Obama’s ace in the hole since he first ran for office, fresh from the pews in Jeremiah Wright’s anti-Semitic church. They were the grease in the wheels that legitimized the administration’s anti-Israel pressure group J Street. They were the ones who could be counted on to tell the US media and the American Jews that Netanyahu is to blame for Obama’s hostility.

Yet, rather than backtrack, and try to save the Israeli Left, the administration doubled down on Monday, releasing a series of statements condemning the Israeli media’s condemnations of Kerry’s pro-Hamas position.

By Monday afternoon, the administration went so far as to say that by criticizing Kerry, Israel’s media were endangering their country’s alliance with the US.

In other words, through his actions, Obama demonstrated that his “love affairs with the Muslim Brotherhood in the region,” are so central to his foreign policy calculations that he is willing to destroy the Israeli Left in order to strengthen the Brotherhood.

And this leads us to the larger point about Obama’s foreign policy, which his Sunday night telephone call to Netanyahu revealed. As rattled as Israelis are over Obama’s decision to support Hamas against Israel, Netanyahu made clear in his remarks Monday night that Israel has no choice but to keep fighting until we defeat this barbaric enemy.

Netanyahu didn’t mention Obama, but it was obvious that he was respectfully refusing to hand Israel’s head on a platter to Hamas’s friend in the White House.

And while it is hard for Israel to ignore Obama, it is impossible for Americans to ignore him. He runs their foreign policy.

Americans are the ones who need to be most alarmed by what Obama’s actions on behalf of Hamas reveal about the general direction of American Middle East policy under his leadership.

For the past five years, Americans from all quarters have concluded that the manifold failures of Obama’s Middle East policies – from Iraq to Iran, Libya, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and beyond – owe to a combination of Obama’s personal disinterest in foreign affairs and his presumed preference for withdrawal and isolationism over engagement.

Obama himself has often encouraged this perception with his endless golf games and his talk about fighting “the war at home.”

Obama’s open, public engagement in Hamas’s war against Israel shows that the popular assessment is wrong.

Obama is as involved in the Middle East as all of his immediate predecessors were. He is personally leading US policy on every front. Kerry is not an independent actor.

The problem is that in every war, in every conflict and in every contest of wills that has occurred in the Middle East since Obama took office, he has sided with Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood, against America’s allies.

Under Obama, America has switched sides.

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit


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Italian Reporter Reveals Hamas Cover-Up Over Misfired Rockets

by Ari Soffer

Journalist backs IDF version of missile strike on school playground, says Hamas rockets went astray. But it's just the tip of the iceberg.

Child injured in rocket strike on playground in Shati refugee camp
Child injured in rocket strike on playground in Shati refugee camp
Flash 90
An Italian journalist who until Tuesday was embedded in Gaza has backed the IDF's account of a rocket strike on a school playground in central Gaza's Shati refugee camp on Monday.

At least 10 people were killed in the attack - most of them children - and some sources claimed the death toll was as high as 30. Palestinian sources were quick to blame Israel, claiming that an Israeli fighter jet fired missiles directly at the playground and nearby hospital. Israel denied the accusations, saying that Hamas rockets aimed at Israel from the area misfired, and struck both the school and the hospital:

IDF Tweet illustrating the path of misfired Hamas rockets:

Verifying facts on the ground in Gaza is notoriously difficult for foreign reporters, and even for Palestinian journalists seen as aligned with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, as journalists are closely watched by Hamas security forces and can face interrogation and a permanent ban from Gaza for publishing material deemed unfavorable to the territory's Islamist rulers. As such, little information has emerged on what exactly happened that day in Shati.

But returning from a stint in Gaza, and safe from what he ominously referred to as potential "Hamas retaliation", Italian journalist Gabriele Barbati broke the media silence by tweeting the following message, confirming that Hamas terrorists rushed to cover up evidence of what was indeed errant rocket fire aimed at Israel:

During the 23 days of Operation Protective Edge a handful of journalists have defied, purposefully or inadvertently, Hamas's restrictions on reporting negative information from Gaza - only to backtrack soon after.

Two cases in particular were highlighted earlier this week. In one, Wall Street Journal reported Nick Casey tweeted evidence - and veiled criticism - over Hamas's leadership's use of Shifa Hospital in Gaza as a command center, shedding more light on the group's use of human shields. Hamas reacted furiously, and a Hamas-affiliated twitter account blacklisted him as a journalist "who lies for Israel" - a potentially deadly accusation for anyone in Gaza, let alone a foreigner. Shortly afterwards, the tweet was promptly removed by Casey.


Numerous foreign journalists have admitted to interviewing Hamas leaders inside the hospital, but their reports are notable for the lack of emphasis placed on such a flagrant violation of international law.

In the second case, another WSJ journalist tweeted evidence of a Hamas rocket misfire which damaged Gaza's main hospital. Again, shortly after tweeting it, Tamer El-Ghobashi removed the evidence.

Deleted tweets:

The use of human shields by Gazan terrorist groups during the current conflict has been repeatedly documented. Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad have stored and fired rockets from within densely-populated civilian areas, making Israeli attempts to stop them without causing collateral damage near to impossible. To compound the problem, Hamas has openly encouraged civilians to act as human shields, glorifying their actions as heroism.

Terrorists have also used hospitals and schools as command centers and military bases.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Work and Relief Agency (UNWRA) admitted that it had discovered rockets stored in one of its schools for the third time.

Hamas has not issued a response to Barbari's claims, and it is unclear whether he will face a ban from reporting from the Strip in the future. But whatever happens to him, his claims raise some uncomfortable questions about the objectivity of reports coming from Gaza - in particular the accuracy of the much-touted civilian death toll, and who may be responsible for it.

Ari Soffer


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Hamas Uses Hospitals and Ambulances for Military Purposes

by IDF Blog

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One of the fundamental aims of the laws of armed conflict is the protection of hospitals, ambulances, and medics from attack. International law grants this group special protection from attack during active conflict.

Hamas chooses to use these protected areas for military purposes in order to shield itself from IDF strikes – and to draw international condemnation of Israel if the IDF is forced to respond.
In Hamas’ world, hospitals are command centers, ambulances are transport vehicles, and medics are human shields. Hamas’ actions in this regard are flagrant violations of international law. Hamas undermines the essential protections that enable the provision of medical services to those in need during wartime, and threatens the security of all who are carrying out legitimate medical services in dangerous conditions.

Wafa Hospital: A Hamas Command Center and Rocket-Launching Site

Hamas transformed Wafa Hospital, a civilian building in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of Gaza City, into a command center, rocket-launching site, observation point, sniper’s post, weapons storage facility, cover for tunnel infrastructure, and a general base for attacks against Israel and IDF forces. Hamas repeatedly opened fire from hospital windows and used anti-tank missiles from the premises. Hamas deliberately and cynically turned the hospital into a legitimate military target.

In response to threat that this posed to IDF forces, the IDF repeatedly conveyed warnings to the hospital staff, Palestinian officials, and international aid organizations, including the World Health Organization, requesting that they act in order to stop the hospital from being used for military purposes, and warning that the IDF will be forced to act if these activities continue. When Hamas’ activities did not cease, already in the first week of the operation, the IDF repeatedly spoke with all of the relevant parties and warned all civilians to leave.

On July 23, Hamas had continued firing from the hospital. The IDF made an additional warning call on that day; audio from the call confirms that the hospital was closed and that no medical staff or patients were in the building.

After confirming that no civilians were present, the IDF attacked the compound and the terrorists within the hospital grounds, in order to remove the threat posed to IDF forces. Secondary explosions can be seen, confirming IDF intelligence about the site.

Watch this video showing gunfire from the hospital, the warning calls, the IDF airstrike, and the secondary explosions:

The IDF’s actions in this case went beyond its obligations under international law.

In addition to turning hospitals into fortresses, Hamas also uses ambulances to transport its fighters. When ambulances are exploited for military purposes, they may lose their protection from attack and be targeted subject to the requirements of international law.

On the morning of July 22, IDF forces engaged terrorists in the Gaza Strip, killing ten of them. Other terrorists used an ambulance in order to escape the firefight. In order to avoid the possibility of civilian casualties, the IDF did not target the ambulance.  Watch:

Minimizing Harm to Civilians

The IDF goes to great efforts to minimize harm to the civilian population in the Gaza Strip. This includes facilitating the provision of medical services through the Civil Liaison Administration, which coordinates such activity with international organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. The IDF also facilitates the transfer of medical supplies in the Gaza Strip through the land crossings and in some cases, permits persons with medical emergencies to enter Israel in order to receive care. The IDF has also set up a field hospital at the Erez border crossing, to facilitate care for wounded civilians from the Gaza Strip.

The IDF will continue in its efforts to minimize harm to the civilian population, and to ensure that only military objectives are attacked in accordance with international law. The IDF warns that where medical facilities and vehicles are used for military purposes, they are liable to lose their protection from attack and may be targeted in accordance with the requirements of international law.

IDF Blog


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Krauthammer: Kerry 'Undermined' Israel-Hamas Peace Efforts

by John Blosser

U.S. meddling in Israeli-Hamas negotiations has sewn "wreckage" in attempts to end the murderous conflict, according to Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer, who points the finger of blame directly at Secretary of State John Kerry.

Speaking on "Special Report with Bret Baier" on Fox News, Krauthammer blasted Kerry, saying he crashed the negotiations uninvited and "undermined" Egypt's attempts to settle the war in Gaza.

"The Israelis did not invite him," Krauthammer told Fox. "The Egyptians did not want him and he still says he advanced a peace plan that was sort of building on the Egyptian one. It didn't at all. It undermined it."

"Egypt wanted a cease-fire in place, which means no reward for Hamas starting this war by attacking civilians, which is a war crime," Krauthammer told Fox. "And that was proposed before the ground incursion. The casualties would have been infinitely lower. Israel accepted — Hamas said no.

"Kerry goes over and then he negotiates in Paris with who? Qatar and Turkey, and returns essentially as the lawyer for Hamas and hands Israel a proposition that is so outrageous that the Cabinet votes 19-0 against it.

"Israeli Cabinets have never voted 19-0 on whether the sun rises in the east. It was unbelievable. It would have given Hamas all of its demands," Krauthammer told Fox News.

Or worse, said Danny Danon, former Israeli deputy defense minister, who told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, "Secretary Kerry's proposal was an insult for us."

"I think what Secretary Kerry did last week was a mistake. It put Israel and Hamas on the same level. It is like, I would tell you that the U.S. and al-Qaida are on the same level."

In an interview with Israeli Radio, the Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said she told Kerry his proposal was "completely unacceptable" and "would strengthen extremists in the region."

Krauthammer told Fox, "Look at the wreckage Kerry has done in intervening in the Israeli-Gaza fighting. A left-wing Israeli paper said Kerry had dug a tunnel under the Egyptian peace plan.

"When you see what happens when America engages, you wonder if we shouldn't have more disengagement."

John Blosser


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Why the Media Bear Moral Responsibility for the Gaza Civilian Casualties

by Thomas Lifson

Former Col. Richard Kemp, who was head of British forces in Afghanistan, has laid out with great clarity why the very media who bemoan the civilian casualties in Gaza bear moral responsibility for the carnage. The video below is short and eloquent, and should be viewed. But if you are in a hurry, the essence of his point is that Hamas deliberately uses children and others as human shields in order to gain media coverage of the victims. Without media coverage, there would be less incentive for this cruelty.

But rather than my poor summation, please watch this video.

Hat tip: Clarice Feldman

Thomas Lifson


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What would Hamas do without Hillary Clinton to Rationalize its Behavior?

by Carol Brown

Jorge Ramos of Fusion TV recently interviewed Hillary Clinton. In discussing the war between Hamas and Israel, Clinton managed to say at least half a dozen outrageous things in a span of just 2 minutes.

When asked the now familiar and misguided question about whether Israel has responded to Hamas in a disproportionate way, Clinton seized the opportunity to tout how when she negotiated a cease fire “it held until just this month. And then Hamas, which has its back against the wall, decided to fire rockets into Israel.”

As quick aside. Can we stop with “proportionality” already? Israel (and the West) is in a fight for its life. The enemy is Islam. The opponents are terrorists. Anything less than wiping them out as quickly and efficiently as you can is madness.

But back to the interview.

Hillary admitted that Hamas's tactic of maximizing civilian casualties worked for her:
But I and everybody who has seen these terrible pictures on TV hope there can be a cease-fire and try to end the killing and try to prevent the unbelievable heartbreak that we see happening.
First, Clinton’s self-absorption and opportunism were on full display. 

Second, what’s up with Hamas having its back against the wall? What in the world was she trying to say? By suggesting that Hamas was in some kind of untenable position and therefore had to start firing rockets was ludicrous, legitimized a terror organization, and legitimized their actions.

But she was just warming up.

Clinton stated an idea (well a partial idea) using an incomplete sentence – something the left is fond of doing: “Israel said they have to stop the rockets and then they discovered all these tunnels.”
Hold it.

Israel discovered tunnels, you say? Hm. That’s interesting. Might it not be important to elaborate for the audience just what those tunnels are about? Are they ancient ruins? A network of subway lines in the making? An unsolved geologic mystery?

Please, Mrs. Clinton. Do explain about the tunnels that we found. Do tell how the cement Israel provided to build hospitals and schools in Gaza actually went to building a complex tunnel system to be used for terrorist attacks on Israel. Share with the audience how weapons are stockpiled in the tunnels. And not just weapons, but Israeli uniforms, sedating drugs, and handcuffs. Share with those who are listening how these tunnels run deep underground and penetrate into Israel so that terrorists can infiltrate Israel in order to kidnap and kill Israelis. Help listeners imagine an Israeli family waking up one morning to find they are surrounded by armed terrorists who invaded through terror tunnels with plans for the family that include kidnapping, torture, and murder. Use this teachable moment to educate the audience about how Hamas used young children from Gaza like slave labor to help build the tunnels. And about how hundreds of those children died in the process.

And Hillary, if you feel short on time and can’t say all that, at least say that Israel did not just find tunnels, but they found a maze of tunnels penetrating into Israel, designed and built by terrorists in order to kidnap and kill innocent Israelis.

Next up. The now familiar refrain: “Obviously Israel has a right to self-defense, but….”

You know it’s coming. It always does. The “but…” It obliterates the first part of the statement every time.

“But” what you pathetic woman? Would you prefer if Israel were weak? Would you like it better if Jews were defenseless? Would you would feel more comfortable with greater Jewish casualties?

When she droned on about the need to “end the killing” and the unbelieeeeeeeeevable “heartbreak that we see happening,” I found it curious. I’ve never heard Clinton talk about the heartbreak of Israelis being surrounded by the expanding Caliphate that calls for her destruction and the determination to finish the work Hitler started. I can’t recall Clinton ever making empathic statements after the ruthless murders of Israelis simply because they were Jews.

No. Such things don’t resonate with the woman. She’s more simpatico with outlandish accusations that, for example, Israel uses poison gas on so-called Palestinians causing increased cancer rates among women and children.

Uh huh.

But back to the interview. This pitiful excuse for a dignitary saved the best for last:
“Hamas puts its missiles, its rockets in civilian areas. Part of it is that Gaza’s pretty small and it’s very densely populated. The put their command and control of Hamas military leaders in those civilian areas.”
What??? Huh??? And, what???

First, this creature rationalizes with a complete lie why Hamas puts weapons in civilian settings. But even more insane is that she doesn’t even question or seem to have a problem with Hamas having such weapons in the first place.

There is, of course, no reason to be surprised by any of this. And I wasn’t. But the fact that the steady propaganda put out by the left, including Hillary Clinton, reaches millions of people around the world remains distressing, to say the least. It fuels and legitimizes Jew hatred. And the consequences are dire.

Carol Brown


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Christians United For Israel Rocks Washington D.C.

by Edwin Black


Recent events have propelled Christians United for Israel (CUFI) to the front row of pro-Israel organizations.

The group advertised last week’s Washington D.C. Summit, held July 21, as a more compact two-day program. Last year’s conclave offered a three-day affair. But if anyone thought the faith-based pro-Israel organization was becoming less relevant, they would think otherwise after attending the latest confab.

At the very moment when the Jewish State was under a crushing vise of global criticism for its involvement in Operation Protective Edge, CUFI (pronounced koo-PHI and not koo-FEE) roused its American heartland membership in loud, rollicking support of Israel. It did so in the pivotal capitol of Washington D.C. at a pivotal time.

Led by firebrand evangelist Pastor John Hagee, some 4,800 foot stomping, shofar-blowing Christian delegates traveled from across the nation and some from overseas to attend the non-stop cavalcade of podium grandiloquence, towering video effects, mesmerizing Israeli music, and special informational sessions. Part tent revival and part political salvo, CUFI’s Washington Summit is patterned after the mega-gatherings staged by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in the same hall. CUFI speakers brought clarity and context to its attendees in the midst of the latest fog of the latest Arab-Israeli war.

Indeed, at the very hour CUFI’s convention gaveled open, the Jewish State was fiercely fighting moment-to-moment terrorist threats scampering over the Gaza border fence, paddling in from the sea, streaking in from the sky, and tunneling beneath the ground. Moreover, Jerusalem was contending with a well-financed highly-politicized adverse humanitarian political machine supported by American tax-deductible 501(c)(3) donations. So every round of CUFI applause and utterance of support was considered a precious gesture to beleaguered Israelis who right now need a friend.

CUFI’s long A-List roster of speakers included media personalities deputy editorial page editor Bret Stephens from The Wall Street Journal, Bill Kristol from The Weekly Standard, and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer from PBS. No fewer than five members of Congress attended.

Particularly on fire were two speakers: Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of President of Major Jewish Organizations and investigative reporter Erick Stakelbeck from Christian Broadcast Network. Both wowed the crowd with history, insight, and reason as Israel tried to justify its right to exist–free from terrorism robustly financed by Qatari money and others.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took time, via taped message, to thank the evangelical crowd for standing by Israel during its hourglass of need. He spoke from Israel, bunkered in a secure room at the height of the conflict that day. To thunderous applause, Senator Lindsay Graham exhorted the Israelis in their Gaza strategy to “go as far as you need to go, and do what you’ve got to do.”

Ambassador Ron Dermer not only exhilarated the crowd, but felt so comfortable with the audience that when he was heckled on three separate occasions by pro-Hamas Palestinian protestors, he defiantly talked back drowning out the disruptors as they were being hustled from the auditorium. Dermer felt so comfortable with the audience that he openly and repeatedly referred to the hecklers as “moral idiots” as cheering crowds chanted “Israel! Israel!”

Honored special guests were Jewish philanthropists Sheldon Adelson and his wife Miriam who were lauded with a gold award for helping charitable causes.

More than just lip service and sloganizing, CUFI announced several major initiatives. CUFI’s leadership acknowledged from the podium that there was a distinct disconnect with the younger Christian generation — a group they call “the millennials.” Sons and daughters are increasingly detouring from the path their fathers walked, as is so common in generational divides. Increasingly the millennials are buying into BDS, anti-Israel distortions about international law and a rewriting of Israeli’s history.

Moreover, millennials are adopting wholesale rejection of Israel via a wave of campus teachings called “Replacement Theology,” which maintains God has forsaken Israel and His “covenant” with the Jews has been replaced by a new covenant with the Church. To counter Christianity’s internal upheaval about the Jewish State, the podium proudly acknowledged 800 campus representatives in attendance engaged in a bold new student-led initiative to combat BDS, anti-Jewish agitation, and a rash anti-Israel attacks on campus, from the dorm room to the classroom. This strategy involves talking back to biased professors and the entire notion of Replacement Theology.

The day after the celebration, CUFI’s membership swarmed into the halls of Congress to lobby their representatives from the heartland to stop funding the Palestinian Authority until it ceases paying terrorist salaries, and to stand with Israel’s in its fight against Hamas.

CUFI has proven that it is an expanding organization with a broadening agenda at the precise moment that Israel needs allies in every corner.

Edwin Black is the award-winning author of the international bestseller IBM and the Holocaust. His latest volume is the just-released newsbook, "Financing the Flames: How Tax-Exempt and Public Money Fuel a Culture of Confrontation and Terrorism in Israel."


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Who Checks the Fact-Checker?

by Peter Huessy

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler not only invents points the Cheneys did not make, he then casually dismisses "uncomfortable points" they did make. How many Pinocchios is that worth?
Kessler evidently assumes that when intelligence assessments differ, the correct version is only that which differs from the points made by the Cheneys but not by their critics.
Most senior Democratic members of the Senate at the time voted -- twice -- for giving the President the authority to take down Saddam Hussein. How else can Democrats say they made a mistake voting for the war if they cannot now make the case that they were "fooled"?
The U.S. took down Saddam Hussein's regime because on balance the threat-intelligence could not be ignored.

A recent article in the Weekly Standard by former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Liz Cheney, noted that there was sufficient evidence prior to the 2003 liberation of Iraq that Saddam Hussein might coordinate terrorist attacks against the U.S. and its interests.

"It is undisputed," they wrote, "and has been confirmed repeatedly in Iraqi government documents captured after the invasion, that Saddam had deep, longstanding, far-reaching relationships with terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda and its affiliates. It is undisputed that Saddam's Iraq was a state based on terror, overseeing a coordinated program to support global jihadist terrorist organizations. Ansar al Islam, an al Qaeda-linked organization, operated training camps in northern Iraq before the invasion. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the future leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, funneled weapons and fighters into these camps, before the invasion... We also know, again confirmed in documents captured after the war, that Saddam provided funding, training, and other support to many terrorist organizations and individuals over decades, including to Ayman al Zawahiri, the man who leads al Qaeda today."

Dick and Liz Cheney, appearing last month on Fox News to discuss Iraq. (Image source: Fox News video screenshot)

Glenn Kessler, the fact-checker at the Washington Post, awards one to four "Pinocchios" to various news stories he finds less than truthful. Kessler is also generally the keeper of "liberal" conventional wisdom – although on January 16, 2014 he even gave himself three Pinocchio's for getting Medicaid numbers screwed up.

On July 17, 2014, he awarded the Cheneys "Three Pinocchios," indicating that, in their Weekly Standard essay on Iraq, they had been playing fast and loose with the facts.

To conclude as he did, Kessler had subtly to change the terms of the argument, while relying upon material provided by Warren Bass, a current Wall Street Journal writer and former 9-11 Commission staff member. Bass was referred to apparently to give the "Fact Check" a semblance of authority.

Here is the way Kessler changed the terms of the debate:

The Cheneys write that:
  • Saddam led a state based on terror and that Iraq was long officially designated by the U.S. as a sponsor of terror.
  • Ansar al Islam -- a terror group -- was based in northern Iraq.
  • Saddam gave weapons and support to terror groups including a group involving the current Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
  • The Iraqi relationship -- direct and indirect -- was with terror groups that included affiliates of Al Qaeda [AQ].
  • Abu Musab al-Zarqawi -- eventually an Al Qaeda leader -- was located in Iraq and funneled weapons to Ansar al-Islam before the 2003 invasion.
Does Kessler dispute any of these facts? No. (He inexplicably claims that Saddam's secret police were so incompetent that a terrorist such as Zarqawi was operating in Iraq unknown to the government.)

He writes, however, that there was no "long standing" "operational relationship" between Iraq and Al Qaeda. He references, presumably to support his position, a 9-11 Commission conclusion that there was no "collaborative operational relationship" between Saddam and AQ.

The Cheneys, however, had never made any claim about an "operational" relationship.
Parenthetically, what exactly is a "collaborative operational relationship" with AQ? The 9-11 Commission never defined the term. No one since has defined the term, including Mr. Kessler.

But the use of the term served its purpose: to be a distraction from the facts. It also enabled the narrative to remain that "facts were cooked" to justify the war in Iraq as "a war of choice."

The third concern of Kessler is, as the 9-11 Commission put it: "Did Iraq cooperate with AQ in attacks against the United States"?

Again, the Cheneys' article never makes such a claim.

Left unclear, of course, is whether "the United States" means just the continental United States, or includes U.S. interests, embassies or military bases overseas.

While Saddam may not have been working to attack the continental United States, there is evidence that he did attack U.S. interests, especially, for example, with his 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

What Kessler does, is to use "undefined" 9-11 Commission statements and then repeatedly criticize the Cheneys for making claims they never made.

Kessler not only invents points the Cheneys did not make, he then casually dismisses "uncomfortable" points they did make. How many Pinocchios is that worth?

Why, for example, did Kessler dismiss a statement -- not from the Cheneys, but from the 9-11 Commission chairman himself, former Governor Tom Kean -- that indeed there was a relationship between Saddam and Al Qaeda that had to do with "chemicals"?

Perhaps Kessler is unaware that the contents of a 1998 U.S. indictment of Al Qaeda -- the very first indictment of it by the U.S. Justice Department -- concluded that Al Qaeda in Sudan had indeed both sought and received assistance from Iraq (probably from a top regime chemical weapons expert, Ali Hassan al-Majiid, and known as "Chemical Ali").

An additional indictment dropped the reference to cooperation between Iraq and Al Qaeda because the prosecutors could not confirm the testimony of an Al Qaeda defector upon which the earlier indictment was based. But lack of confirmation does not invalidate the claim -- it just means the U.S. could not determine the facts one way or the other.

In response to Kessler's award of three Pinocchios, the Cheneys replied with a series of references to an extensive terrorism study by the Institute of Defense Analysis, which examined the connections between terrorism and Iraq.

The Cheneys note, for instance, from the IDA report: "Captured documents reveal that the [Iraqi] regime was willing to co-opt or support organizations it knew to be part of al Qaeda."
That would appear to qualify as supporting an "affiliate" of Al Qaeda -- an organization we have been repeatedly told is a serious threat to the U.S.

The IDA report suggests the "indirect cooperation" was "somewhat analogous" to the Cali and Medellin drug cartels, in that the two organizations competed for a share of the illegal drug market. Fair enough.

Kessler in turn responds with more tricks. He somehow arbitrarily decides that supporting an organization that is "a part of" Al Qaeda does not constitute a "relationship" with Al Qaeda. What then does it connote?

Kessler admits that Saddam tolerated the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam in Iraq's territory.

To most people, this would spell "sanctuary" and would indicate "support" -- as the 9-11 Commission concluded. Did not the Taliban similarly give sanctuary -- and thus support -- to Al Qaeda in Afghanistan?

Kessler, however, says that, yes, the 9-11 Commission report did conclude that Saddam tolerated, and may have assisted, Ansar al-Islam's presence, but only because it served Saddam's purpose. But is that not precisely the point -- that Saddam used terror groups for his own purposes?

Kessler then tries another trick. He goes on to say that the 9-11 Commission evidence used by the Cheneys was "out of date" because the intelligence community later concluded that the leadership of Ansar al-Islam was different from the leadership of AQ, so cooperating with Ansar al-Islam did not constitute cooperating with Al Qaeda.

But the Cheneys claimed only that Iraq cooperated with Ansar al-Islam.

An additional question remains about Kessler's critique: Why cannot two organizations be affiliated but with a different and "distinct leadership?" Isn't that usually what an "affiliation" is?

IDA, the Cheneys tell us, determined that, "Saddam supported groups... associated directly with al Qaeda (such as Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led at one time by bin Laden's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri)."

Kessler dismisses this reference because, he says, the objective of the terror group Islamic Jihad was the overthrow of the U.S. allied government in Egypt. Well, was that not a sufficient threat?

Overthrowing the government in Cairo is no mean feat. What was one of the main goals of Sheik Abdul Rahman, now in jail for his advocacy of terror attacks against the U.S. and as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing? Precisely the overthrow of the Egyptian government. What did the Muslim Brotherhood government under Mohamed Morsi in Egypt seek? The return of Sheik Rahman to Egypt. Certainly trying to bring down the Mubarak regime in Egypt at that time might seriously have harmed U.S. interests. Does this not constitute a "threat to the U.S.?"

So it is that Kessler struggles mightily to dismiss or minimize any and all references to a relationship of any kind between Saddam and terrorist entities, especially Al Qaeda or its affiliates.

Contradictory evidence, or lack of 100% clarity about terrorism, does not, however mean one side or the other is engaging in telling falsehoods. Contradictory material, as well as lack of clarity or consistency, is often in the nature of available intelligence.

Kessler evidently assumes that whenever intelligence assessments differ, the correct version is only that which contradicts the points being made by the Cheneys but not by their critics.

In addition, perhaps Kessler's concentration on what types of "direct" connections there were between Saddam and Al Qaeda is the wrong approach in trying to understand exactly what is the nature of the terrorist threats we faced.

After all, if Saddam were using terrorists to attack his enemies, as he did, does it matter if he never used Al Qaeda for such attacks but did use its "affiliates"?

And what about other terrorist groups, such as the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, Ansar al-Islam, Islamic Jihad, the Taliban or the warlords of Somalia? For example, according to the IDA study Saddam funded jihadi fighters in Afghanistan who were eventually directed to Somalia in 1993.

It is not as if terrorism against the U.S. was, and is, tied only to Al Qaeda. The U.S. was the victim of many terror attacks before the 1998 Embassy bombings in Africa -- the first officially recognized Al Qaeda attack against the U.S.

What is this seeming obsession by opponents of the Iraq war -- still today -- artificially to equate terrorist threats to the U.S. as solely a matter of "Al Qaeda and its affiliates"? In the view of this author, it is to keep alive and well the narrative or conventional wisdom that Iraq was a "war of choice" and unnecessary to protect America's security.

It is not as if there is a scarcity of evidence pointing to state sponsors of terror assisting Al Qaeda. It is official U.S. policy according to the U.S. Department of State, for example, that Iran is the world's "prime sponsor of terrorism." Iran's sponsorship of terror included ties to the 9/11 attacks.

According to the New York Times, "The 9-11 Commission report, for example, said there was strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of Al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9-11 and that some of these were future 9-11 hijackers."[1]

There is no doubt that the evidence available to U.S. policy makers prior to the decision to take down Saddam Hussein was contradictory.

Kessler, however, ignores the most credible explanation for why America decided to liberate Iraq. The U.S. took down Saddam Hussein's regime because on balance the threat-intelligence could not be ignored.

The intelligence about terrorism and Iraq was neither as clear nor as readily available as one might have wished, but most senior Democratic members of the Senate at the time voted for giving the President the authority to take down Saddam.

Similarly, over 90 U.S. Senators voted in favor of the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, which called for the same thing.

These two overwhelmingly favorable votes from both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate in 1998 and 2003 to take down Saddam demonstrated that the available evidence spoke loud and clear -- Saddam had to go.

But how else can Democrats say they made a mistake voting for the war if they cannot now make the case that they were fooled?

In the end, even while Kessler concedes that most of the facts presented by the former Vice President and Assistant Secretary are correct, Kessler has to try to demonstrate that the Cheneys' argument is wrong in order to keep alive the long-held narrative that Iraq was a war of choice and therefore unnecessary.

To do so he rests his only real, and supposedly clinching, argument on a difference of opinion over the definition of the Cheney's description of Iraq's relationship with Al Qaeda and its affiliates as "long lasting." Kessler apparently believes the relationship was more sporadic or occasional.

Does this distinction even matter -- especially when the other points made by the Cheneys' essay and rebuttal stand up to Kessler's scrutiny?

It is not as if Saddam wrote down every item on paper for all to see as a contract after terror groups responded to an Iraqi "Request for Proposal" from the central government in Baghdad.

By their nature, terror ties are most often kept "in the shadows." When they begin and conclude is often not clear. Even after decades of the Cold War, for instance, many in the U.S. intelligence community apparently could not find any ties between the Kremlin and terrorism.

It was not until 1981, that CIA Director William Casey, in response to charges from the Washington Post that the Reagan administration was exaggerating Soviet sponsorship of terrorism, asked the then-leading CIA Russia expert and analyst, Robert Gates (later Deputy Director), to explore the evidence of Soviet ties to terrorism.

In its subsequent report to Casey, the CIA that claimed Moscow had no such ties or that the information was "murky." Casey told them to look again. The preliminary report that followed said that ties were extensive. Unfortunately, political opposition to releasing the report hindered its completion.

CIA technocrats were apparently opposed to detailing Moscow's sponsorship of terrorism because, in their view, as one Washington Post article said at the time, if such ties were revealed, "d├ętente would suffer."

As Robert Gates would detail in his 1996 book, From the Shadows, the charge -- which President Reagan made along with his Secretary of State, Alexander Haig -- that Moscow was "up to its eyeballs," in supporting terrorism, was true. Gates concluded that, in fact, the extent of Soviet sponsorship of terrorism had actually been "understated" by President Reagan and Secretary Haig, and was worse than they had thought.

This revelation, however, did not stop one widely used university author, Raymond Garthoff, from concluding in 1994, in The Great Transition: American-Soviet Relations and the End of the Cold War, that the Soviets did not support terrorism at all.

As Russia's archival evidence, discovered after the end of the Cold War, revealed, however, throughout the entire Cold War, Moscow was indeed the world's chief sponsor of terrorism. Unfortunately, a further search of the Russian archives has since become impossible: the current Russian government has made most of those contents off-limits.

If, after 70 years of analyzing the Soviet Union, top scholars can get wrong such widespread evidence of state sponsorship of terrorism -- the CIA did not even see that the Soviet Union was about to collapse -- it is not implausible that with Iraq and its connections to terrorism, there can be disparate conclusions based on what is accurately described as incomplete and contradictory evidence.

Terrorism, a fact of life in the world today, is not the result of one terror group or one terror sponsor. Rather, as the head of the Northern Alliance, Ahmad Shah Massoud said of Afghanistan, the U.S. was faced with what he described as a "poisonous coalition" of "armed Islamic radicalism which included Pakistani and Arab intelligence agencies, recruits from religious schools, and wealthy sheiks with money and supplies" of which "Al Qaeda was but one part (and a part Afghans apparently found 'abhorrent')".[2]

This "poisonous coalition" exists today. One can see it in Hamas's rocket fire into Israel; Qatar funding its Muslim Brotherhood ally, Hamas; Iran, and possibly now North Korea, supplying weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah; massive military assistance from Russia to both Iran and Syria; Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons against his own people; Russia abrogating trade and anti-ballistic missile treaties for years, this year the Budapest Treaty, in which Ukraine gave up its nuclear capability in exchange for Russian assurances not to invade, and this month, Russia's 1987 Treaty not to test nuclear missiles; Iran's death squads operating in Iraq and its terrorist attacks against Iraq and Afghanistan[3]; jihadis and the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan, blowing up airports and hotels; and the bloody handiwork of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, to name but a few.

The terrorism we face today goes far beyond one terrorist group. It is the "poisonous coalition" of our age of armed Islamic jihadis and their state allies.

To miss this point not only reveals a failure to tell the truth, it reveals a failure to understand what the truth even is.

Iraq was indeed part of murderous coalition of terror groups and terror-sponsoring states. The Cheneys said so and made their case.

In that light, it looks as if Glenn Kessler should generously be awarded four Pinocchios.

[1] Benjamin Weiser and Scott Shane, "Court Filings Assert Iran Had Link to 9/11 Attacks", New York Times, May 19, 2011; see also Adam Zagorin and Joe Klein, "9-11 Commission Finds Ties Between Al Qaeda and Iran", Time, July 16, 2004.
[2] Steve Coll, "Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the Cold War," 2005.
[3] CFR Backgrounder, October 13, 2011, "State Sponsors: Iran".

Peter Huessy


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