Archive for January 17, 2018

Congress Concerned Another Obama ‘Secret Deal’ With Iran Derailed New Sanctions on Tehran

January 17, 2018

Congress Concerned Another Obama ‘Secret Deal’ With Iran Derailed New Sanctions on Tehran, Washington Free Beacon , January 17, 2018

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems / Getty Images

Sources familiar with internal discussions over the IRIB issue told the Free Beacon that State Department officials have supported waiving sanctions on the Iranian broadcasting agency in order to uphold the 2013 agreement.

Officials claim there is no evidence Iran is jamming broadcasts and censoring content, despite repeated claims of such activity by Iranian protesters in the country, sources said.

However, there is mounting evidence that Iran continues to jam certain broadcasts and commit human rights abuses, according to experts.

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The Trump administration State Department is working to suppress new sanctions on Iran’s propaganda network that were promised to be implemented by the White House in response to a wave of protests that have gripped the Islamic Republic for weeks, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the matter.

The White House vowed in the opening days of Iran’s countrywide protests against the ruling government that it would take steps to level sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, a satellite service that disseminates propaganda across Iran and routinely censors content.

While Iranian protesters and opponents of the country’s hardline government welcomed the White House’s decision, the State Department is believed to be working against the effort in order to uphold a little-known deal with Iran that was struck during the Obama administration.

The apparent reversal has raised questions in Congress about the nature of the agreement between the Obama administration and Iran that prevents new sanctions on the IRIB. It also has sparked criticism from regional experts who view the move as part of a bid by the State Department to continue appeasing the Iranian ruling regime at a time when dissidents are pleading for help from the United States.

The Obama administration struck a deal in 2013 with Iran that waived existing sanctions on the IRIB as part of an agreement reached under the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, or ITSO.

Since that agreement, the United States has waived sanctions every 180 days on the IRIB, despite evidence it continues to censor content and jam broadcasts the hardline ruling regime finds unacceptable, sources said.

The little-known ITSO agreement with Iran is receiving new scrutiny as lawmakers try to determine how the Obama administration reached this deal and why many in Congress were never briefed on the matter.

“At such an important inflection point in Iranian history as brave Iranians are protesting an illegitimate tyranny, it defies logic that the State Department could be waiving sanctions to assist the Iranian regime,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees told the Free Beacon.

DeSantis is exploring avenues to obtain further information about the 2013 agreement and the context in which it was struck.

“Congress needs to get more information about this specific waiver and why waiving such sanctions is necessary at this moment given that the protesters are calling for more sanctions against the regime,” DeSantis said.

The White House signaled earlier this month, as the protests in Iran erupted, that it would no longer waive sanctions on the IRIB to boost the demonstrators and cut off the Islamic Republic’s chief propaganda organ.

However, the State Department favors continuing the waivers in order to uphold the Obama-era deal with Iran, according to multiple sources.

A State Department official acknowledged the existence of the deal, but would not provide the Free Beacon with details of the agreement, information on how it was struck, and whether Congress had a say in the matter.

This has raised even more questions with lawmakers and experts tracking the situation.

“The administration periodically renews the relevant sanctions waivers to allow international satellite companies to provide satellite broadcast service to IRIB in accordance with an understanding reached with the Iranian government under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) in 2013, where Iran committed to ensure that harmful interference does not emanate from its territory,” a State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon.

This waiver must be renewed every 180 days, the official said.

It also remains unclear if the deal with Iran was struck under the auspices of the landmark nuclear agreement or the negotiations that led to it.

A Treasury Department official directed questions about the IRIB sanctions to the State Department, but told the Free Beacon the entity is still subject to some sanctions by the United States

“Treasury can confirm that IRIB is still designated pursuant to Executive Order 13628 and remains on our SDN [Specially Designated Nationals] List,” the official said, pointing to a 2013 announcement of actions against the broadcaster. “IRIB is subject to secondary sanctions for activity outside the scope of the State Department-issued waiver.”

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iran expert who tracks sanctions with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, expressed concern the Trump State Department is operating as if the Obama administration was still in power.

“The Iranian protesters specifically asked the Trump administration to ban the IRIB,” Ghasseminejad said. “Issuing a waiver for an entity whose job is to broadcast lies and promote violence against the protesters and pro-democracy movement in Iran and to prepare the ground for their arrest, torture, and execution is a slap in the protesters’ face.”

Former Secretary of State “John Kerry is gone and the United States has a new Iran policy but Foggy Bottom still follows the Obama era policy of appeasement,” he said.

Sources familiar with internal discussions over the IRIB issue told the Free Beacon that State Department officials have supported waiving sanctions on the Iranian broadcasting agency in order to uphold the 2013 agreement.

Officials claim there is no evidence Iran is jamming broadcasts and censoring content, despite repeated claims of such activity by Iranian protesters in the country, sources said.

However, there is mounting evidence that Iran continues to jam certain broadcasts and commit human rights abuses, according to experts.

Mahmood Enayat, director of the Small Media Foundation, an organization that advocates for the free flow of information in Iran, said satellite broadcasts are routinely jammed by the Iranian regime.

“Iran has certainly stopped orbital jamming but it has been continuing with terrestrial jamming, making it impossible for millions of Iranians to watch satellite TV channels broadcast from outside Iran, including VOA and BBC” said Enayat, who recently published a report on the matter.

Some insiders familiar with the agreement, which has not been mentioned in federal records since 2015, view it as another secret deal with Iran that was hidden from the American public, much like a series of secret side deals reached between the Obama administration and Iran as part of the nuclear deal.

One senior congressional official tracking the situation told the Free Beacon that lawmakers would try to scrap any previously unearthed secret agreements with Iran.

“As Iranians are protesting in the streets, our State Department is really considering waiving sanctions against the regime’s mouth piece?” the source asked. “We should be exerting maximum pressure on the regime and its backers, not letting them off the hook.”

“If this decision to take it easy on the regime’s broadcasting arm is pursuant to some secret side deal reached under the Obama administration, it’s time to expose this arrangement and terminate it, not abide by it,” added the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. “The State Department needs to get on the same page as the White House and start rolling out coherent Iran policy to push back against the regime.”

CAROLINE GLICK: Palestinian Leader’s Anti-American Rant Gives Trump Cause to Cut Funding

January 17, 2018

by Caroline Glick 17 Jan 2018 Breitbart

Source: Palestinian Leader’s Anti-American Rant Gives Trump Cause to Cut Funding

{President Trump wasn’t bluffing.  Calling President Trump’s ‘bluff’ was not a good idea.   Insults don’t work either. – LS}

For decades, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has been touted by American leaders as a moderate man of peace.

U.S. leaders from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, and from Condoleezza Rice to John Kerry, all insisted that Abbas is the Palestinian leader who will make an historic deal with Israel.

President Donald Trump has met three times with Abbas since taking office.

On Sunday night, Abbas showed them what he really thinks.

He cursed Trump saying that the U.S. President’s “house should be destroyed.”

He attacked U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman in lurid, antisemitic language:

“U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is a settler who is opposed to the term ‘occupation.’ He is an offensive human being, and I will not agree to meet him anywhere. They requested that I meet him and I refused, not in Jerusalem, not in Amman, not in Washington.”

Abbas then threatened U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

“She [Haley] threatens to hit people who hurt Israel with the heel of her shoe, and we’ll respond the same way.”

He called Trump’s anticipated Middle East peace plan “a slap in the face,” and said, “we will slap back.”

Abbas declared “dead” the peace agreements he and his colleagues in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed with Israel for the Palestinians since 1993. He pledged to block any future U.S. involvement in peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel: “We will not accept American leadership of a political process involving negotiations.”

Abbas then turned his attention to Israel and the Jews.

“Israel,” he said “is a colonial project that has nothing to do with Jews.”

“Europeans wanted to bring the Jews here to preserve their interests in the region. They asked Holland, which had the world’s largest fleet, to move the Jews,” he said.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said that Abbas’s remarks harken back to “things that led him to be accused years ago of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.”

Abbas’s Ph.D. thesis, which he wrote for a Soviet university controlled by the KGB in the 1960s denied the Holocaust.

Over the past 25 years, the Western and Israeli leaders that have hailed Abbas as a moderate dismissed the significance of his doctorate – which he later published in Jordan as a best-selling book – saying it was a relic of the PLO’s former rejection of Israel’s right to exist.

The problem with Rivlin’s statement is that it ignores Abbas’s record.

Contrary to Rivlin’s view of Abbas’s racist assault on Jews as a throwback to an earlier time, antisemitic diatribes have been a consistent feature of Abbas’s public statements, whether he is speaking to Arab or Western audiences.

In a speech before the European Parliament in 2016, for instance, Abbas recycled the medieval blood libel that Jews poison the wells of Christians. That blood libel incited the death of thousands of Jews through the ages.

Speaking to European lawmakers, Abbas said, “Certain rabbis in Israel have said very clearly to their government that our water should be poisoned in order to have Palestinians killed.”

As for his Holocaust denial being a thing of the past, Abbas posted his doctoral thesis on his official website. His lies are taught as fact in Holocaust education in the Palestinian school system – which he controls.

Then there is his anti-Americanism.

Abbas controls every aspect of the Palestinian Authority (PA), including the rent-a-mobs.

Over the years, protesters have greeted every senior U.S. policymaker who has visited Abbas in Ramallah.

In 2013, 150 protesters demonstrated against then-president Barack Obama when he met with Abbas. In 2007, protesters who worked for Abbas’s government greeted then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with signs calling for Hezbollah to bomb America.

So in stark contrast to Rivlin’s statement, Abbas’s speech was not a throwback to a long ago time. It was a throwback to what he said yesterday, and the day before yesterday and the day before that, and what the Palestinian newspapers and television – which he controls — reported the day and week and month and year before that.

Another explanation of Abbas’s scorched-earth speech Sunday is that he scorched the earth in preparation for his resignation from office. Abbas, Israel’s commentators were quick to note, is 82 years old. So it seems reasonable to conclude that his decision to launch a frontal assault against Jews and Americans was a sort of valedictory address.

But here too, the assessment is contradicted by Abbas’s record.

It is true that Abbas is approaching his 83rd birthday. But he is also approaching the 14th year of his four-year term of office. Abbas has repeatedly refused to stand for reelection since his four-year term ended in 2009.

Not only has Abas rejected repeated calls from his Palestinian colleagues and from successive U.S. administrations to designate a successor, he has sidelined and exiled all of his political rivals in the PLO.

Then there are the steps he has taken to coopt Hamas and so minimize the threat Hamas poses to his maintenance of power.

The Hamas terror group ousted Abbas and his U.S.-trained PLO forces from Gaza in 2007. Rather than launch a U.S.-backed counterstrike against Hamas, Abbas chose to collaborate with Hamas. He has funded Hamas’s government. That funding has enabled the jihadist group to launch a series of missile wars against Israel.

Moreover, Abbas has used the PLO’s position at the UN and in Europe to protect Hamas from criticism and wage a political war against Israel. The goal of this war is to end Western support for Israel’s right to exist by delegitimizing Israel as a colonialist implant of European imperialists.

A man interested in retiring would not have eliminated all of his potential heirs to cling to power, or agreed to a power-sharing deal with Hamas to keep everyone at bay.

So if Abbas isn’t planning to retire, why is he cursing Trump and his senior advisors? Why is he recycling anti-Jewish blood libels from the 12th century and announcing that the deals he signed with Israel and the peace process as a whole are dead?

The simple answer is that Abbas is acting as he is because he is certain that he can. This is how he has always acted. There is nothing new in his speech. And he doesn’t think that he will suffer any consequences for behavior.

Abbas expects President Trump to disregard his statements and continue to bankroll his terror-supporting regime in the name of “the peace process,” or “humanitarian assistance” just as Bush and Obama did.

Abbas gave his speech at start of a two-day conference of the PLO’s Central Committee, which he convened to determine a response to President Trump’s announcement on December 6 that for the first time in nearly seventy years, the U.S. recognizes that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.

Trump’s Jerusalem declaration placed Abbas and his colleagues in a conundrum. On the one hand, his declaration had no practical implications. Trump signed a waiver delaying the transfer of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. No immediate plans have made to move the embassy.

Moreover, the State Department insists that there is no practical significance to Trump’s statement. Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield told reporters the day after Trump’s announcement that his statement does not change U.S. policy barring American citizens born in Jerusalem from listing Israel as their country of birth on their official documents. Indeed, Satterfield refused to answer a question regarding whether Jerusalem is even in Israel.

On the other hand, simply by recognizing the basic fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and has been Israel’s capital for nearly 70 years, Trump broke with the longstanding U.S. policy of denying observable reality in relation to Israel in order to advance “peace” between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Only by denying reality can anyone pin hopes on the PLO as a peace partner. Since its inception in 1964, the PLO has rejected Israel’s right to exist. It has rejected that the Jews are a people. It has denied the history of continuous Jewish habitation of the land of Israel for 3,500 years. And it has denied the fact that the Jews built two temples in Jerusalem.

When Abbas said on Sunday that Israel is the creation of European imperialists, he was merely echoing the PLO’s charter.

By recognizing the truth, Trump took a red-hot poker to the PLO’s false, antisemitic founding narrative.

As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in response to Abbas’s remarks, “For too long, the Palestinian Authority has been pampered by the international community which didn’t dare tell them the truth – not about Jerusalem and not about recognizing Israel. That has changed. I think Abu Mazen [Abbas] was reacting to that. This is the first time somebody’s told him the truth to his face.”

Trump and his top advisers have made several statements in recent weeks that indicate that his Jerusalem declaration last month was not a one-off.

The President threatened to cut off U.S. aid to Abbas’s regime.

Haley threatened to cut off aid UNRWA, a UN Palestinian refugee agency that works hand and glove with Hamas in Gaza.

Tuesday, the Trump administration informed UNRWA that it is withholding “for further consideration” $65 million of its $370 million annual contribution to UNRWA’s budget.

Statements by Trump’s senior negotiator Jason Greenblatt and Friedman condemning Palestinian Authority finance of terrorism and incitement to murder Israelis have also been groundbreaking.

So far, Tuesday’s hold on a fraction of U.S. funding to UNRWA is the only substantive policy step the Trump administration has taken. Its other moves have been declaratory. They have signaled the beginnings of a new U.S. policy towards Abbas, the PLO and the Palestinian Authority, but the new policy has not yet been articulated, let alone felt on the ground.

By attacking Trump, his advisers, Israel and the Jewish people on Sunday, Abbas was effectively daring Trump to act on his words.

Abbas is betting that Trump is bluffing so the White House’s next moves will be determinative.

The partial funding postponement to UNRWA is notable, but not significant enough to make clear that the U.S. is serious in its policy shift. If no further practical, indisputable steps are taken to translate Trump’s stated positions into a clear move away from the past 25 years of unconditional American support for the Palestinians, Abbas will be empowered to continue to treat him and his administration with the same contempt he exhibited towards Obama and Bush.

Linda Sarsour endorses Chelsea Manning for U.S. Senate

January 17, 2018

Linda Sarsour endorses Chelsea Manning for U.S. Senate, Washington Times,  Larry O’Connor, January 16, 2018

(Please see also, Humor | Chelsea Manning hopes to become Senate’s first openly transgender disgrace. — DM)

This frame from video released by the Chelsea Manning Senate campaign on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2018 shows Chelsea Manning in a campaign video. Manning on Sunday confirmed via Twitter that she is a candidate for U.S. Senate.

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

She’s with [Insert your preferred pronoun here]!

The traitor formerly known as “Bradley Manning” announced their candidacy for United States Senate in Maryland Monday and the former Army private has already lined up a key endorsement of sorts, none other than anti-Israel activist and pink-hat-wearing-angry-woman-march organizer Linda Sarsour:

If you are cool with Sheriff Arpaio running for Senate in Arizona but up in arms that Chelsea Manning is running in Maryland – you my friend are a HYPOCRITE.

Manning served a little over seven years (including time served during investigation and trial) of a 35-year sentence in Leavenworth for espionage and theft of over 700,000 military including battlefield videos and diplomatic cables from classified computer accounts. (This was back when the The Swamp took classified diplomatic documents seriously and didn’t reward the breach of these state secrets with a nomination for president.)

During the trial Manning came out as a transgender individual and proclaimed himself to be “Chelsea.” In his final days as president, Barack Obama commuted Manning’s remaining sentence.

Recently, Manning has used Twitter to deliver wildly popular left-wing sentiments like “F*** the police” and “Taxation is sharing.”

taxation is a sharing of responsibility 🌈 only the wealthy believe that taxation is theft 🧐💵 they dont pay taxes 🚫 we should make them 👩‍🌾✊ https://twitter.com/DericFORreal45/status/884113845920440320 

So, in short, the transgender thief, spy, traitor who hates the police and wants more and higher taxation just got endorsed by a virulent anti_Israel terror sympathizer.

No wonder she’s running as a Democrat.

Humor | Chelsea Manning hopes to become Senate’s first openly transgender disgrace

January 17, 2018

Chelsea Manning hopes to become Senate’s first openly transgender disgrace, Duffel Blog, January 17, 2018

 

Although the 30-year-old traitor with no advanced education is a historically unqualified candidate, supporters claim her emotional problems and mental instability make her a great fit for the current political climate.

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BETHESDA, Md. — Convicted traitor Chelsea Manning has announced the start of her campaign to become the US Senate’s first openly-transgender disgrace, sources confirmed this week.

Manning is also hoping to become the youngest female disgrace of a senator.

“There have been many disgraceful senators,” said political analyst Rob Tembley. “In fact, there are many serving right now. Manning, however, would be the first openly transgender one.”

Manning, best known for leaking classified information to Wikileaks, listed a number of reasons on her campaign website showing why she is qualified to be a disgrace.

A self-described “intelligence expert” after serving three years in the Army, she was reprimanded for publicly describing the interior of a SCIF. Her other military achievements include almost being discharged from boot camp, punching her supervisor in the face, flipping a table after minor corrective counseling, and being awarded the National Defense Service Medal.

In her first campaign ad, Chelsea proclaims “We don’t need more, or better leaders,” a sentiment anyone who wants Chelsea Manning in the senate would agree with.

“We need someone willing to fight,” Manning continues, referring to her inability to fight when her supervisor removed the bolt from her rifle after she was found in a cupboard in the fetal position.

Although the 30-year-old traitor with no advanced education is a historically unqualified candidate, supporters claim her emotional problems and mental instability make her a great fit for the current political climate.

When reached for comment, Manning responded with four emojis and a cartoon photo of herself flashing a peace sign.

Trump Makes Good on Threat, Cuts Payment to UNRWA

January 17, 2018

Trump Makes Good on Threat, Cuts Payment to UNRWA, Jewish PressHana Levi Julian, January 16, 2018

US President Donald Trump

U.S. President Donald Trump has made good on his warning that funding would be withheld in response to a lack of movement towards peace by the Palestinian Authority.

The Trump administration informed the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Tuesday that it will transfer a payment of just $60 million in aid to the organization – a cut of more than 50 percent of what was to be a tranche of $125 in its initial annual pledge to the agency.

The remaining $65 million in funding is being withheld, according to State Department spokesperson Healther Nauert. “It’s money that’s being frozen at this time,” she told journalists at a press briefing. “It’s not being canceled. It’s just being held for future considerations.” She said additional U.S. funding will be dependent on changes being made at the agency.

The U.S. provides about 30 percent of UNRWA’s overall budget. In 2016, the European Union – the agency’s second-largest donor – gave less than 50 percent of the American contribution, which was $355 million.

More than half of UNRWA’s budget is devoted to education; but a look at the textbooks from which the children in UNRWA schools are taught shows the agency is violating the basic tenets of the UN Charter, and blatantly inciting against Israel.

UNRWA school textbooks show there is “no hope for peace in the region,” according to a September 28, 2017 study by the Center for Near East Policy.

The study reviewed 150 Palestinian Authority textbooks for grades one to 12, half of which were published in 2016-17. Among other things, the textbooks claim Jews have no rights in ‘Palestine,’ deny the existence of Jewish holy places there and delete Israel from the map. The books also promote violent struggle as the path to liberation.

During the last war between Israel and the Gaza-based Hamas terrorist group, a number of UNRWA schools were used by terrorists to stockpile weapons and missiles. Launching sites for rocket and missile attacks against Israeli civilians were situated close to UNRWA facilities, and terrorists were not stopped by staff from using civilians sheltering there as human shields while attacking Israel. Hamas terror tunnels were found beneath UNRWA schools.

Senior U.S. officials told Associated Press on Sunday that the plan to withhold the funds is supported by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis, who both see it as a compromise to the plan backed by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who believes all funds should be cut off until the Palestinian Authority returns to the moribund final status talks with Israel.

A phony Islamophobia panic is ruining Canadian politics – The Washington Post

January 17, 2018

Source: A phony Islamophobia panic is ruining Canadian politics – The Washington Post

( Even the Washington Post recognizes the phony islamophobia for what it is… –  JW )

 January 16 at 1:13 PM

Then-Canadian Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau arrives for a news conference in Ottawa on Oct. 20, 2015, after winning the general elections. (Nicholas Kamm/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

During the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq War, back when invading that country was a more popular idea among Canadians than many care to remember, I recall observing an encounter at the bus stop near my house between a group of middle-aged white folks, perhaps three or four of them, and a hijab-wearing Muslim woman. I didn’t see how it began, but everyone was arguing about the war, with the Muslim woman against and everyone else for. No one was making particularly good points, but it was nevertheless obvious, through the white folks’ sneering, dismissive tone, that they regarded the logic of the Muslim woman with far more suspicion than was warranted simply because of who she was. There were no “go-back-to-where-you-came-froms” or anything like that, but it was a visibly tense conversation made all the tenser by one obvious variable.

Was what I witnessed Islamophobia? It was certainly an unpleasant swirl of politics and culture in which many divisive sources of social discord — violence, patriotism, religion, race and immigration — were present, either explicitly or just below the surface. Without being too presumptuous, when Muslim Canadians experience episodes of social anxiety, I imagine the triggers often resemble what I witnessed: awkward encounters with representatives of the majority that leave the Muslim feeling devalued or marginalized and hyper-aware of their “otherness.”

The world being what it is, however, most of us would prefer Islamophobia to manifest in a more sensationalistic, even cartoonish way. The Canadian Parliament certainly resorted to fairly cartoonish language of its own when it passed  a motion last March describing the scourge of Canadian Islamophobia as an “increasing public climate of hate and fear,” which only heroic government action at the highest levels could redress.

When, last week, an 11-year-old Muslim girl from Ontario claimed she was attacked out of the blue by a bigoted monster who literally tried to cut the hijab off her head with scissors, this desire for cartoonish Islamophobia was satiated. Politicians from the prime minister on down tumbled over each other to tweet messages of sadness and remorse — on behalf of the whole country, naturally — that such wickedness had been allowed to transpire (though a barely hidden subtext was that they all pretty much expected it).

After a couple days as the cause celebre of Canadian woke-Twitter, the hijab-chopping story was declared false by the Toronto police. It “did not happen,” the news release bluntly stated. It thus joined the ranks of such other scandalous nonevents as the grocery store Islamophobe  in London, Ontario (who wound up being a Farsi-speaker in treatment for mental illness) or the Muslim man who got beat up  by a slur-yelling assailant in a Whitby park bathroom (only to be later deemed unreliableby police and prosecutors).

There is something unmistakably perverse about the bizarre appetite many Canadians, particularly those on the left or in elite positions, seem to have for tales of outlandish Islamophobia, an appetite that causes otherwise sensible people to turn off their faculties for caution and skepticism and adopt the credulity of a supermarket tabloid reader. At best, they gobble up such anecdotes as a variant of so-called “decay porn,” in which weird cravings for tales of a hellish world can be satisfied only by increasingly outlandish stories cooked up by fabulists. At worst, these are mini-Gulf of Tonkins of the mind, emotional pretexts that rationalize backing politicians or legislation that erode free speech, due process or national security in the name of fighting some unprecedented enemy.

As the Toronto Sun’s Anthony Furey observed, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a long track record of erring on the side of radical Islam, a pattern seemingly born from a larger tendency to frame Muslims as creatures without agency and deserving reverence for all claims of persecution, no matter how dubious or ambiguous. This, in turn, animates many of the man’s marquee political promises, from a generous intake of Syrian refugees to eliminating judgmental language from the Canadian citizenship guide to ending bombing raids against the Islamic State, all of which have, at their core, an implied need to redeem the Islam-skeptical character of Canadian society.

Phony or exaggerated charges of Islamophobia, in other words, are not merely victimless non-crimes. They inflate the resolve of a certain flavor of progressive whose political agenda aims to sacrifice much of traditional liberalism in the name of a bigotry course correction, as well as the denialist ignorance of the reactionary right, like those who peddled conspiracy theories about last year’s mosque shooting in Quebec City. The end result is a society whose politics have been agitated to polarize around the Muslim issue in a deeply inaccurate, unserious way.

It was particularly unfortunate to see Conservative leader Andrew Scheer, who will face an uphill battle to unseat Trudeau next year, among those scrambling to denounce the scissor attack long before any hard facts were known. History had offered plenty of cause for suspicion. As the left seems poised to learn absolutely nothing from this episode, there is surely ample political ground to be seized by any politician brave enough to argue that the worst stories of bigotry are not automatically the truest, and the peaceful integration of Muslims into Canadian society, whatever the obvious challenges, must begin with a greater presumption of their host’s goodwill.

Abbas’ ultimatum to Trump: Choose between a Palestinian Jerusalem or war

January 17, 2018

Abbas’ ultimatum to Trump: Choose between a Palestinian Jerusalem or war, DEBKAfile, January 17, 2018

(Please see also, Did Abbas just give his valedictory speech, blaming everyone for his failures? — DM)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) speaks during a meeting with members of the Central Committee in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 14, 2018. Photo by Flash90

The Palestinian leader finds himself tied down by two handicaps: shortage of funds for buying supporters and his advanced age. At 82, he may choose a fourth option, to retire voluntarily and make way for a younger leader.

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Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas kicked back hard after grasping he was confronted with an orderly, Arab-backed US peace plan that left his strategy in ruins.

Abbas now sees he is cornered by his nemesis: Trump’s move to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, was not just a one-off whim, but a component of the “deal of the century,” which the US president and his advisers had crafted for months together with Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman and the UAE ruler Sheikh Muhammed Bin Ziyad.

The Palestinian leader’s first predicament was how to explain to the Palestinian and Arab public what happened to his master strategy of the past 25 years, for using world opinion to force a pro-Palestinian peace solution down Israel’s throat. Not too long ago, Abbas boasted he was about to pull it off. Now it is crashing before his eyes. It is not enough for him to yell that the “deal of the century” is the “slap of the century.”

Here and there, he may find international pro-Palestinian stalwarts, but the doors are slamming shut as funds for UN bodies and NGOs dry up. Even the Europeans, who dislike Trump and sympathize with the Palestinians, are beginning to think twice about sticking to a blunt line against the US and Israel. They are reluctant to buck the two allies’ partners, the oil-rich Saudi and Emirate rulers, a luxury they can ill afford in these times of profound economic decline.

Much of the criticism of the US-Arab peace plan is prompted by a misapprehension. The plan is based strongly on a two-state solution that offers the Palestinians their own state and negates binational Israeli-Palestinian statehood. But the contours are different from any former peace proposal. Gone for good are the pre-1967 war lines which were Abbas’ sine qua non. According to the fragments leaked about the new proposal, which is still on the work bench, this Palestinian state would rise on territory currently governed by the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria. Its backbone would be formed by the chain of Palestinian towns running from Nablus in the north through Ramallah and Bethlehem and up to Hebron in the south. They would link up with the Gaza Strip and acquire parts of northern Sinai, presumably Egyptian Rafah and El Arish.

According to this plan, the governmental and population of the new Palestinian state would be oriented mainly in the south, so that Jerusalem would not be relevant as its capital. It would still have Ramallah and possibly Abu Dis, outside Jerusalem, where government and parliamentary compounds were installed long ago, after one of several stillborn peace initiatives.

This plan for Palestinian statehood bears little resemblance to the goal of the 50-year old Palestinian struggle. The Palestinian national movement has consistently aspired to a state that would swallow Israel and extinguish the Zionist vision. However, the contemporary Palestinian state as envisaged in the new plan would be dependent for its strength and survival on Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, all of which maintain good security and economic ties with Israel.

For Mahmoud Abbas this prospect is anathema. He is so beside himself that on Sunday, he cursed the house of US President Donald Trump before the PLO central committee. But, then on Monday, Jan. 16, Trump whipped out his ultimate weapon and slashed aid to the UN Works and Relief Agency for Palestinian refugees, from $165m to $60m.

For many years, UNWRA has been a powerful political sponsor of any Palestinian group willing to join the “struggle” against Israel. Its personnel were flush with the funds paid in as dues by UN members, unlike the often cash-strapped Palestinian Authority in Ramallah. Trump therefore decided that the key to getting the US-Arab peace plan on its feet would be to cut off the flow of cash to its opponents. It is a little-known fact that he was joined in this endeavor by the Saudis, the Emiratis and even Qatar, all of whom started some weeks ago to staunch aid funds to the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority and its chairman Mahmoud Abbas therefore find they are being squeezed into an US-Arab blockade, which leaves Abbas with three options:

  1. To realize his back is to the wall and he has no option other than to accept the “deal of the century.”
  2. Face being ousted by the rest of the Palestinian leadership and replaced with a successor who is amenable to reaching an understanding with the Trump administration, Cairo, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.
  3. Regress to Yasser Arafat’s doctrine of armed struggle – not just against Israel this time but against US targets as well. Abbas indicated that was on the warpath when he challenged President Trump in a ferocious speech he delivered in Cairo Wednesday, Jan 17. He shouted, “Jerusalem would be a gate for peace only when it was the capital of Palestine. But it is also a gate for war, insecurity and instability, if not. Trump must choose.”

His barefaced ultimatum to the US president was accompanied by a rumor his cronies began to circulate, charging that the Trump administration was plotting to forcibly depose Abbas as PA chairman. The Palestinian leader finds himself tied down by two handicaps: shortage of funds for buying supporters and his advanced age. At 82, he may choose a fourth option, to retire voluntarily and make way for a younger leader.