Posted tagged ‘Obama’

Inside Judicial Watch: The Truth Behind Fusion GPS & The Trump Dossier

January 19, 2018

Inside Judicial Watch: The Truth Behind Fusion GPS & The Trump Dossier via YouTube,  January 18, 2018

According to the blurb beneath the video,

In this compelling episode of “Inside Judicial Watch,” host Jerry Dunleavy joins JW Senior Investigator Bill Marshall to discuss Fusion GPS, how the infamous Trump dossier was produced, who paid for it, and how it may have led to the surveillance of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and his inner-circle. Prior to joining Judicial Watch, Bill Marshall worked in the private sector conducting corporate investigations and opposition research for various entities, similar to the kind of work carried out by Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS. You WON’T want to miss out on Bill’s compelling insight into the world of opposition research, Fusion GPS, and the Trump dossier.

Another lesson from Manchester

May 24, 2017

Another lesson from Manchester, Washington TimesTammy Bruce, May 24, 2017

People cry after a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, England, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The president’s remarks in Saudi Arabia and Israel, and no doubt through the rest of his tour, make it clear the United States and our allies must view ISIS, al Qaeda and other terror-mongers as something to be destroyed. The president’s approach is one that can bring both Islamic nations and Europe out of a self-imposed coma and back into a world that has dispatched mass-murdering fascists and their ideology before. 

*********************

After the horrific carnage unleashed by the terrorist attack in Manchester, England, some of the reactions were inexplicable. We’re used to jihadis celebrating the horror of mass murder, but it’s still perplexing to hear Western leaders and media reissue their bizarre insistence that we need to get used to the sick and depraved.

For some, perhaps it’s a reflection of a sense of hopelessness in the face of a savage enemy that has been allowed to flourish; considering the passive and useless attitude of the previous American president and rhetoric of his admirers, it’s not surprising the left remains stuck in dangerous cynicism.

Consider BBC anchor and frequent U.S. news show guest Katty Kay. On Tuesday morning after the attack, the Daily Caller reported, “Kay told MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ … that Europeans have no choice but to get used to terrorists murdering their families because ‘we are never going to be able to totally wipe this out. … Europe is getting used to attacks like this, Mika. They have to, because we are never going to be able to totally wipe this out,’ Kay said.”

Ms. Kay continued, “As ISIS gets squeezed in Syria and Iraq, we’re going to see more of these kinds of attacks taking place in Europe, and Europe is starting to get used to that.”

Ms. Kay’s defeated sentiment isn’t new. While not her intention, she articulated not the reality of our situation, but the policy preference of failed western leadership.

In 2004, Sen. John Kerry, then the Democratic presidential nominee, was interviewed by The New York Times. When asked “What it would take for Americans to feel safe again,” Mr. Kerry answered, “We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.”

Even with the Sept. 11 attacks just a few years earlier, making the nature of the Islamist terror threat clear, Mr. Kerry exposed the left’s surrender to carnage and chaos. The suggestion that terrorism should be viewed as a nuisance indicates an acceptance of it as a regular part of our lives.

All normal human beings reject the grotesque suggestion we simply adapt, but his comment wasn’t a lark. It ended up being one of the first articulations of liberal Western leadership’s strategy of management of the scourge, abandoning the idea of destroying it.

Fast forward to August 2016. Sensing that terrorism was an actual problem, Mr. Kerry had another idea. Speaking in Bangladesh he noted, “If you decide one day you’re going to be a terrorist and you’re willing to kill yourself, you can go out and kill some people. You can make some noise. … Perhaps the media would do us all a service if they didn’t cover it quite as much. People wouldn’t know what’s going on.”

Genius. Let’s just not mention it, and everything will be OK.

A month later, the viral nature of this menacing naivete was affirmed by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, a Muslim and son of Pakistani immigrants. Touring New York when the Chelsea terrorist bomb exploded, Mr. Khan blithely noted to a reporter, terrorism is “part and parcel of living in a big city.” Like riding the subway, going to a baseball game, enjoying the ballet? Sure, let’s add getting blown up by the occasional bomb pressure cooker.

Just a few months later, London suffered the horrific Westminster terrorist attack in which an Islamist used a car and a knife to murder people.

And now, Manchester. A terrorist attack at an event appealing to young people, as of this writing, killing 22 and wounding over 50. In every city where terrorists strike, local citizens transform into super heroes, as was the case in Manchester.

People coming together in the midst of horror to help one another is magnificent, and worthy of celebrating, but it’s safe to say everyone in the world who had to deal with terrorism wished they hadn’t had to face it at all. We still prefer our “part and parcel” normal to be safe and sound, void of mass murdering maniacs.

Breitbart reported, “Europe, the United Kingdom, and Russia have witnessed terror attacks or attempted attacks every nine days in 2017 on average, analysis of security incidents has revealed.”

“Attacks and attempted attacks have taken place in Austria, France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Russia, Sweden, Norway, and Germany. Security services in Britain — population 65 million — are known to be tracking 3,500 potential terror suspects or persons posing a threat. Meanwhile Belgium, with its population of just 12 million, is tracking around 18,000 potential jihadists,” revealed Breitbart.

The importance of President Trump’s Middle Eastern and European trip is now even more clear. In 2015, then-President Barack Obama eliminated the word “destroy” when referring to actions against the Islamic State terror group, or ISIS. All that was left was the intention to “degrade” the terrorist scourge, as though our only hope was to try to keep in check a cancer that was metastasizing around the world.

Mr. Trump’s remarks in Riyadh made it clear that is not good enough. Accepting terrorism as a “nuisance” or simply a part of big city living is obscene and is rejected.

The president’s remarks in Saudi Arabia and Israel, and no doubt through the rest of his tour, make it clear the United States and our allies must view ISIS, al Qaeda and other terror-mongers as something to be destroyed. The president’s approach is one that can bring both Islamic nations and Europe out of a self-imposed coma and back into a world that has dispatched mass-murdering fascists and their ideology before. And we will do it again.

Trump’s Middle East Trip Was a Big, Surprising Success—and the Iranian Regime is Nervous

May 24, 2017

Trump’s Middle East Trip Was a Big, Surprising Success—and the Iranian Regime is Nervous, Tablet MagazineLee Smith, May 23, 2017

The Obama administration moved quietly behind the scenes to reorient American policy toward Iran, while it pulled the rug out from under traditional American allies. Among other things, the Obama White House leaked Israeli strikes against Hezbollah convoys, it coordinated operations with Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, and it stood aside as Bashar al-Assad waged a genocidal campaign in Syria so as not to affect the prospects of the nuclear deal with Iran.

The Iranians know how much they owe the Obama administration—whether it was air support for Qassem Soleimani in Tikrit, legitimization of Iranian interests in Yemen, deterring Israel from striking their nuclear facilities, turning a blind eye as they built a highway from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut.

Now the Americans are dancing with the Arabs and praying with the Jews, and Iran is on its own again.

***************************

“I want to tell you,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to President Donald Trump during a joint press conference Monday, “how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.”

So how is Trump’s first foreign trip as president playing out? Suddenly, the scandal-mired President seems like a plausible world leader. He is certainly a more welcome guest in the capitols of America’s traditional allies than his predecessor, President Barack Obama. In addition to enjoying the show, viewers at home—the ones who voted for Trump last fall—likely appreciate the $110 billion arms deal Trump struck with Saudi Arabia. With another $350 billion to come over the next decade, those contracts will certainly help put assembly-line Americans back to work.

Trump’s speech before a worldwide audience about terrorism and Islam was a useful initiative that will also put some of the dozens of Muslim leaders who attended the speech on notice. Acknowledging that Jerusalem is in Israel is a break with strict Obama policy. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall.

But having spent nearly a decade living in Cairo and Beirut, and traveling throughout the Middle East, I can easily imagine the spin that the region’s intellectuals are putting on the trip as they sit in their coffee houses and smoke Gitanes:

Habibi, the Saudis just paid the Americans nearly half a trillion dollars to keep them safe from Iran, right? But Iran was nothing before Obama built them up with $150 billion. It’s only because Obama kept paying Iran—first to stay in negotiations over the nuclear program and then as a reward for signing the deal—that Iran was empowered. Obama and his pallets of cash helped Iran extend its reach from the Persian Gulf to the eastern Mediterranean.

Iran thought that it got the better of the Americans, but the Americans played them for suckers! The CIA had something up their sleeves the whole time! They just wanted the Arabs to pay even more to defend them from Iran. So the Americans created this Iranian bogeyman and then they sent the Arabs a bill to make the Iran problem go away. They drove up the price!

It’s a protection racket, don’t you see? And the Americans cleared nearly $300 billion. Oh man, you can be sure Trump and Netanyahu are laughing it up in Jerusalem. Very clever, those Americans!

No, of course it wasn’t really a CIA shakedown orchestrated over two presidencies. And yet Trump’s maiden foreign presidential venture, or at least the first two stops, is indeed all about the new Administration’s determined recalibration of American Middle East policy after eight years of Obama’s adventurism—especially regarding Iran.

Trump made his intentions toward Iran pretty clear in his Riyadh speech. “For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” said Trump. “It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”

The visuals from Riyadh and Jerusalem were even more important than the speeches. After all, you can reassure your allies on the phone—to scare your shared adversaries, you create a photo album and broadcast it on Facebook and Twitter.

Here’s the president of the United States being celebrated in Saudi Arabia with a sword dance. And clearly, this is not the secretary of state’s first ardha. As a famous oil man who is always welcome to visit the global swing producer of oil, Rex Tillerson knows all the steps already. See him dancing with Wilbur Ross? The Americans and Saudis are like family.

And look—the president of the United States actually has Jews in his family. Here is a picture of his daughter praying at the Western Wall. Here is a picture of the president also at the Western wall wearing a kippah. And oh, look—Trump has made it his status picture on Twitter.

The Iranian regime isn’t very happy. Trump’s photo ops stole the entire foreign policy news cycle from an Iranian regime that wanted a few days of good press after its rigged presidential elections last Friday. The message that Tehran received from the presidential pomp and circumstance in Riyadh is that things are different now.

The Obama administration moved quietly behind the scenes to reorient American policy toward Iran, while it pulled the rug out from under traditional American allies. Among other things, the Obama White House leaked Israeli strikes against Hezbollah convoys, it coordinated operations with Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, and it stood aside as Bashar al-Assad waged a genocidal campaign in Syria so as not to affect the prospects of the nuclear deal with Iran.

The Iranians know how much they owe the Obama administration—whether it was air support for Qassem Soleimani in Tikrit, legitimization of Iranian interests in Yemen, deterring Israel from striking their nuclear facilities, turning a blind eye as they built a highway from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut.

Now the Americans are dancing with the Arabs and praying with the Jews, and Iran is on its own again.

 

Trump’s new deal

May 24, 2017

Trump’s new deal, Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, May 24, 2017

(The “nattering nabobs of negativism” are still numerous. No matter what happens it will be bad, they say. — DM)

Trump, it turns out, is not going to make the improvement of U.S.-Israel ties contingent on warmer relations between Israel and the Arabs. In his way, he apparently understands the Middle East better than most of the pundits analyzing him. He knows that in this part of the world, people respect you if you are strong; if you weaken your allies you are looked at with scorn. The players in the region respect his decision to stand by Israel — because they know this means he will keep his promises to them as well.

I have long said that Trump was good for the Jews. I said it as soon as he entered the 2016 race. I have long maintained that Trump’s new deal is actually going to be more pressure — on the Palestinians.

*****************************

Over the past several years, conventional wisdom among pundits was that Israel had lost America. They tried to drive home this argument even forcefully after Barack Obama became president.

They told us that Israel was losing its No. 1 ally because it was not relinquishing land; because it insisted that the Arabs recognize it as a Jewish state, and because it was not in a hurry to see a Palestinian state be established. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s personal relations with Obama were thrown into the mix as well, and the bottom line was that Israel and the U.S. are no longer friends. Israel, so their thinking went, could only pine for Christopher Columbus.

And then Donald Trump came along. As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the other day, “America is back.”

It is also back in Israel. But the truth of the matter is that it never really went anywhere. It was Obama and its administration that went off course, not Israel. The experts said Israel must do a mea culpa and expected Obama to change the world, and Israel.

Ahead of Trump’s visit, this chorus of experts decided they would sing the same song they sang during the 1990s, using the same lyrics: “Palestinian state”; “ending the occupation is a prerequisite for ending Israel’s state of despair.” We all know how well things turned out during the 1990s.

They were willing to swear that as soon as Trump came to Israel, he would apply pressure on Israel and present demands. They said Netanyahu was nervous from what may come. They warned a diplomatic tsunami was making its way to Israel’s shores.

Some even borrowed medical lingo, saying Trump the candidate put some cotton wool on our skin to prepare from the shot, and now he was going to administer it.

What ultimately unfolded? It turned out that the president who visited Israel this week is the most pro-Israel we have seen in several decades. This man likes us, period. He repeatedly mentions the strong ties between Jerusalem and the Jewish people.

He has promised to protect Israel and to eradicate terrorism, and on the way he said he was determined to make sure Iran would not obtain nuclear weapons and that he would not let anyone hurt Israel. During his visit here he has repeatedly called Netanyahu “my good friend,” as if to make the point that he was not Obama.

How is that possible, the experts wondered. Hasn’t he visited Saudi Arabia on his way? Hasn’t he delivered a speech in front of some 50 Arab and Muslim leaders while he was there? Hasn’t he visited the Palestinian Authority during his trip?

And what about Tillerson, the former head of an energy giant? He cannot possibly be pro-Israel because he is a known wheeler and dealer in the Arab world, they warned.

They also noted that Trump promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem but has not done so in the first 120 days of his presidency. Undoubtably, that period is eternity. Not only that, they continued, Trump considered visiting the Western Wall with the prime minister but ultimately decided it would be a private visit. This, they insist, proves that he is actually Obama in Trump clothes.

But lo and behold, Trump’s visit actually ended well, and he had us asking for more. It feels good to have that genuine embrace of a U.S. administration once again. Yes, Israel was deeply loved in America even before Trump came to power, but in recent years this was manifested in Congress, in the public opinion polls in America, among American Christians and among taxi drivers. That’s it.

The Obama White House turned its back on Israel and helped, albeit indirectly, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement flourish on U.S. campuses.

In the wake of the visit, I dared to think that maybe those experts don’t really know him. After all, the same Trump who was accused of being anti-Muslim got the royal treatment when he arrived in Saudi Arabia, meeting with some 50 Muslim leaders who know full well that he is in love with Zionism.

Trump, it turns out, is not going to make the improvement of U.S.-Israel ties contingent on warmer relations between Israel and the Arabs.. In his way, he apparently understands the Middle East better than most of the pundits analyzing him. He knows that in this part of the world, people respect you if you are strong; if you weaken your allies you are looked at with scorn. The players in the region respect his decision to stand by Israel — because they know this means he will keep his promises to them as well.

I have long said that Trump was good for the Jews. I said it as soon as he entered as the 2016 race. I have long maintained that Trump’s new deal is actually going to be more pressure — on the Palestinians.

Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign-Intelligence Collection Start Before Trump?

April 5, 2017

Did the Obama Administration’s Abuse of Foreign-Intelligence Collection Start Before Trump?, Tablet MagazineLee Smith, April 5, 2017

The accusation that the Obama administration used information gleaned from classified foreign surveillance to smear and blackmail its political opponents at home has gained new traction in recent days, after reports that former National Security Adviser Susan Rice may have been rifling through classified transcripts for over a year that could have included information about Donald Trump and his associates. While using resources that are supposed to keep Americans safe from terrorism for other purposes may be a dereliction of duty, it is no more of a crime than spending all day on Twitter instead of doing your job. The crime here would be if she leaked the names of U.S. citizens to reporters. In the end, the seriousness of the accusation against Rice and other former administration officials who will be caught up in the “unmasking” scandal will rise or fall based on whether or not Donald Trump was actively engaged in a conspiracy to turn over the keys of the White House to the Kremlin. For true believers in the Trump-Kremlin conspiracy theories, the Obama “spying and lying” scandal isn’t a scandal at all; just public officials taking prudent steps to guard against an imminent threat to the republic.

But what if Donald Trump wasn’t the first or only target of an Obama White House campaign of spying and illegal leaks directed at domestic political opponents?

In a December 29, 2015 article, The Wall Street Journal described how the Obama administration had conducted surveillance on Israeli officials to understand how Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, like Ambassador Ron Dermer, intended to fight the Iran Deal. The Journal reported that the targeting “also swept up the contents of some of their private conversations with U.S. lawmakers and American-Jewish groups.”

Despite this reporting, it seemed inconceivable at the time that—given myriad legal, ethical, political, and historical concerns, as well as strict National Security Agency protocols that protect the identity of American names caught in intercepts—the Obama White House would have actually spied on American citizens. In a December 31, 2016, Tablet article on the controversy, “Why the White House Wanted Congress to Think It Was Being Spied on By the NSA,” I argued that the Obama administration had merely used the appearance of spying on American lawmakers to corner opponents of the Iran Deal. Spying on U.S. citizens would be a clear abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance system. It would be a felony offense to leak the names of U.S. citizens to the press.

Increasingly, I believe that my conclusion in that piece was wrong. I believe the spying was real and that it was done not in an effort to keep the country safe from threats—but in order to help the White House fight their domestic political opponents.

“At some point, the administration weaponized the NSA’s legitimate monitoring of communications of foreign officials to stay one step ahead of domestic political opponents,” says a pro-Israel political operative who was deeply involved in the day-to-day fight over the Iran Deal. “The NSA’s collections of foreigners became a means of gathering real-time intelligence on Americans engaged in perfectly legitimate political activism—activism, due to the nature of the issue, that naturally involved conversations with foreigners. We began to notice the White House was responding immediately, sometimes within 24 hours, to specific conversations we were having. At first, we thought it was a coincidence being amplified by our own paranoia. After a while, it simply became our working assumption that we were being spied on.”

This is what systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection for domestic political purposes looks like: Intelligence collected on Americans, lawmakers, and figures in the pro-Israel community was fed back to the Obama White House as part of its political operations. The administration got the drop on its opponents by using classified information, which it then used to draw up its own game plan to block and freeze those on the other side. And—with the help of certain journalists whose stories (and thus careers) depend on high-level access—terrorize them.

Once you understand how this may have worked, it becomes easier to comprehend why and how we keep being fed daily treats of Trump’s nefarious Russia ties. The issue this time isn’t Israel, but Russia, yet the basic contours may very well be the same.

***

Two inquiries now underway on Capitol Hill, conducted by the Senate intelligence committee and the House intelligence committee, may discover the extent to which Obama administration officials unmasked the identities of Trump team members caught in foreign-intelligence intercepts. What we know so far is that Obama administration officials unmasked the identity of one Trump team member, Michael Flynn, and leaked his name to the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

“According to a senior U.S. government official,” Ignatius wrote in his Jan. 12 column, “Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on Dec. 29, the day the Obama administration announced the expulsion of 35 Russian officials as well as other measures in retaliation for the hacking. What did Flynn say, and did it undercut the U.S. sanctions?”

Nothing, the Times and the Post later reported. But exposing Flynn’s name in the intercept for political purposes was an abuse of the national-security apparatus, and leaking it to the press is a crime.

This is familiar territory. In spying on the representatives of the American people and members of the pro-Israel community, the Obama administration learned how far it could go in manipulating the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for its own domestic political advantage. In both instances, the ostensible targets—Israel and Russia—were simply instruments used to go after the real targets at home.

In order to spy on U.S. congressmen before the Iran Deal vote, the Obama administration exploited a loophole, which is described in the original Journal article. The U.S. intelligence community is supposed to keep tabs on foreign officials, even those representing allies. Hence, everyone in Washington knows that Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer is under surveillance. But it’s different for his American interlocutors, especially U.S. lawmakers, whose identities are, according to NSA protocol, supposed to be, at the very least, redacted. But the standard for collecting and disseminating “intercepted communications involving U.S. lawmakers” is much less strict if it is swept up through “foreign-foreign” intercepts, for instance between a foreign ambassador and his capital. Washington, i.e. the seat of the American government, is where foreign ambassadors are supposed to meet with American officials. The Obama administration turned an ancient diplomatic convention inside out—foreign ambassadors were so dangerous that meeting them signaled betrayal of your own country.

During the long and contentious lead-up to the Iran Deal the Israeli ambassador was regularly briefing senior officials in Jerusalem, including the prime minister, about the situation, including his meetings with American lawmakers and Jewish community leaders. The Obama administration would be less interested in what the Israelis were doing than in the actions of those who actually had the ability to block the deal—namely, Senate and House members. The administration then fed this information to members of the press, who were happy to relay thinly veiled anti-Semitic conceits by accusing deal opponents of dual loyalty and being in the pay of foreign interests.

It didn’t take much imagination for members of Congress to imagine their names being inserted in the Iran deal echo chamber’s boilerplate—that they were beholden to “donors” and “foreign lobbies.” What would happen if the White House leaked your phone call with the Israeli ambassador to a friendly reporter, and you were then profiled as betraying the interests of your constituents and the security of your nation to a foreign power? What if the fact of your phone call appeared under the byline of a famous columnist friendly to the Obama administration, say, in a major national publication?

To make its case for the Iran Deal, the Obama administration redefined America’s pro-Israel community as agents of Israel. They did something similar with Trump and the Russians—whereby every Russian with money was defined as an agent of the state. Where the Israeli ambassador once was poison, now the Russian ambassador is the kiss of death—a phone call with him led to Flynn’s departure from the White House and a meeting with him landed Attorney General Jeff Sessions in hot water.

Did Trump really have dealings with FSB officers? Thanks to the administration’s whisper campaigns, the facts don’t matter; that kind of contact is no longer needed to justify surveillance, whose spoils could then be weaponized and leaked. There are oligarchs who live in Trump Tower, and they all know Putin—ergo, talking to them is tantamount to dealing with the Russian state.

Yet there is one key difference between the two information operations that abused the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus for political purposes. The campaign to sell the Iran deal was waged while the Obama administration was in office. The campaign to tie down Trump with the false Russia narrative was put together as the Obama team was on its way out.

The intelligence gathered from Iran Deal surveillance was shared with the fewest people possible inside the administration. It was leaked to only a few top-shelf reporters, like the authors of The Wall Street Journal article, who showed how the administration exploited a loophole to spy on Congress. Congressmen and their staffs certainly noticed, as did the Jewish organizations that were being spied on. But the campaign was mostly conducted sotto voce, through whispers and leaks that made it clear what the price of opposition might be.

The reason the prior abuse of the foreign-intelligence surveillance apparatus is clear only now is because the Russia campaign has illuminated it. As The New York Timesreported last month, the administration distributed the intelligence gathered on the Trump transition team widely throughout government agencies, after it had changed the rules on distributing intercepted communications. The point of distributing the information so widely was to “preserve it,” the administration and its friends in the press explained—“preserve” being a euphemism for “leak.” The Obama team seems not to have understood that in proliferating that material they have exposed themselves to risk, by creating a potential criminal trail that may expose systematic abuse of foreign-intelligence collection.

Urging Millions to Rise Up, Trump Foes Issue Call to ‘Resist Fascism’

January 14, 2017

Urging Millions to Rise Up, Trump Foes Issue Call to ‘Resist Fascism”Millions must rise up in a resistance [to] stop the Trump/Pence regime before it starts!’byNadia Prupis, staff writer

Source: Urging Millions to Rise Up, Trump Foes Issue Call to ‘Resist Fascism’ | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Thousands of activists, journalists, scientists, entertainers, and other prominent voices took out a full-page call to action in the New York Times on Wednesday making clear their rejection of President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence with the simple message: “No!”

“Stop the Trump/Pence regime before it starts! In the name of humanity we refuse to accept a fascist America!” the ad states, followed by a list of signatories that includes scholar Cornel West; author Alice Walker; Chase Iron Eyes of the Standing Rock Sioux; educator Bill Ayers; poet Saul Williams; CNN‘s Marc Lamont Hill; Carl Dix of the Communist Party USA; and numerous others.

Trump is “assembling a regime of grave danger” that is an “immoral peril to the future of humanity and the earth itself,” the call to action continues. “Millions must rise up in a resistance with a deep determination such that we create a political crisis that prevents the Trump/Pence fascist regime from consolidating its hold on the governance of society.”

Countering Trump and Pence’s “regime” will require a month of resistance leading up to the president-elect’s inauguration on January 20, the ad states. That means refusing to accommodate or work with the administration, as well as taking part in “protests that don’t stop—where people refuse to leave, occupying public space, and more and more people stand up with conviction and courage.”

(Image: RefuseFascism.org)(Image: RefuseFascism.org)

Such movements are taking shape elsewhere, as the Women’s March on Washington is now poised to be the biggest inauguration demonstration despite a shaky start and bureaucratic roadblocks.

The Times ad calls for concerned citizens to support the call to action—or commit to it themselves. More than 2,000 people have already signed the declaration.

“Our only recourse now is to act together outside normal channels,” the ad states. “Every faction within the established power structure must be forced to respond to what we do—creating a situation where the Trump/Pence regime is prevented from ruling.”

How should Israel respond to Obama’s betrayal and Resolution 2334?

January 3, 2017

How should Israel respond to Obama’s betrayal and Resolution 2334? | Anne’s Opinions, 3rd January 2017

Party like it's 1949 By AF Branco at Legal Insurrection

Party like it’s 1949 By AF Branco at Legal Insurrection

The implications, immediate and far-reaching, have been discussed almost ad nauseum in the political world, in the media, even on this little blog. But the question remains: what ought Israel do in light of the resolution’s adoption, and how should we respond (if at all) to Obama’s betrayal?

Isi Leibler, in his column at the Jerusalem Post, asks this very question. In answer he recommends Jewish unity, bi-partisan Jewish support of President-elect Trump, and a plea to Israeli politicians to stop antagonising the nations with their loose-lipped talk and shoot-from-the-hip political suggestions:

We are more powerful today than ever before and in the course of our history we have successfully overcome far greater threats to our existence than the United Nations. Now is a time for us to display unity and strength.

In this context, if the proclaimed decision to move the U.S Embassy to Jerusalem is implemented it will send the world a powerful message. To his credit, Trump used all his weight as an incoming president in efforts to ward off the UN resolution, albeit unsuccessfully.

In light of these developments most of the mainstream Jewish leadership who were in denial for over eight years should share a deep sense of guilt and shame.

They remained silent as Obama treated Israel diplomatically as a rogue state whilst he groveled to the Ayatollah. They continued voting for him and we now see how he repaid them. The only consistent critic was indefatigable Morton Klein, head of the Zionist Organization of America who has now been more than vindicated.

Individual American Jews are free to express their personal political opinions in any manner they deem fit, but mainstream Jewish organizations are obliged to avoid activity which reflects political bias.

But now is the time for us to look forward and unite. This U.N. resolution was not just about settlements. It was to undermine the security of the state and pave the way for anti-Semitic boycotts and sanctions by those seeking Israel’s demise.

The resolution employing Obama’s malevolent views made no distinction between isolated outposts and settlements in outlying regions and Jewish suburbs of Jerusalem including the Western Wall.

Looking down onto the thousands of people crowding the Kotel plaza, Sukkot 2016

Looking down onto the thousands of people crowding the Kotel plaza, Sukkot 2016

Any Jew who endorses the view that Judaism’s most sacred site – formerly occupied by the Jordanians who denied Jews access to worship – is occupied territory is reminiscent of medieval “mosers” (informers), who were ostracized from the religious and social life of the community. Those in J Street, The New Israel Fund and other far left Jewish groups who consider Jewish districts of Jerusalem and Judaism’s holiest site to be “occupied territories” should be regarded as renegades and treated as such.

The immediate challenge is to encourage the incoming Trump administration to salvage what it can from Obama’s betrayal of Israel.

Most important to note is that the moderate Sunni countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states will be desperate to ally themselves with Trump and are hardly likely to do more than express formal protests if and when the US treats Israel as a genuine ally.

But for this to be effective, Israel must tread cautiously and not provoke the incoming administration by seeking to impose arrangements without prior consultation.

Naftali Bennett and other right-wing elements should be silenced and Prime Minister Netanyahu must be enabled to determine the attitude of the new administration. They should also realize that whilst there is close to a consensus for ultimately annexing the settlement blocs and creating defensible borders, most Israelis do not seek to incorporate Judea and Samaria in their entirety because this would effectively lead to the demise of a Jewish state and its substitution by a binational state which would be swallowed up by the Arab world.

The recent statements and settlement policies certainly provided Obama with additional ammunition to justify his perfidious initiative. But it is almost certain that he would have acted no differently had the government not been engaged in any public discussion because his prime intent, since the day of his inauguration, has consistently been to impose such a settlement on Israel.

The reality is that all political parties – other than the Joint Arab list and Meretz – are no less opposed to this resolution than the government. This is surely a time for all political parties to set aside parochial squabbles and act in the national interest by displaying strength and unity.

Jewish unity is always an excellent idea, particularly in times of trouble. Whether American Jews or Israel’s politicians will pay any heed to Leibler’s suggestions is another matter altogether.

In contrast to Leibler’s plea for caution on the subject of settlements, Evelyn Gordon urges “Build baby, Build” – settlements of course:

There’s really only one suitable Zionist response to last week’s UN Security Council resolution on the settlements: massive settlement construction. That’s the appropriate response for more than one reason, but I’ll focus here on the most obvious one: The resolution proves conclusively that Israel gets no credit for showing restraint on this issue, so there’s no earthly reason why it should continue suffering the costs of restraint.

As I’ve written repeatedly in the past, data from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics shows that there has been less settlement construction under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than under any of his predecessors. Nor is this a matter of partisan dispute: The left-wing daily Haaretz, a virulent opponent of both Netanyahu and the settlements, used the same data to reach the same conclusion last year.

For Netanyahu, this restraint has come at a real price. First, it caused him political damage, because it infuriated his voter base. The result, as I’ve noted before, is that by last month, he was facing an open revolt in his own party over the issue.

Second, it caused Israel strategic damage, because it kept the country from strengthening its hold over areas that most Israeli governments have considered essential for security under any future agreement. To take just one example, all Israeli premiers have deemed the E1 corridor, which links Jerusalem with the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement bloc, critical for Israel’s security – even Yitzhak Rabin, the patron saint of the peace process. Moreover, E1 in no way prevents the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state, and has actually been assigned to Israel by every serious international peace plan ever proposed. Yet for years, Israel has refrained from building there out of deference to international public opinion, even as illegal Palestinian construction has mushroomed in this formerly empty area. The result is that it now has no “facts on the ground” to act as a counterweight to Palestinian claims. And since Palestinian claims always enjoy the international community’s automatic support, facts on the ground, in the form of large numbers of Israelis whom it’s simply too difficult to evacuate, are Israel’s best guarantee of retaining areas it deems essential to its security.

Rise in house prices in Israel because of a housing shortage

Rise in house prices in Israel because of a housing shortage

Third, settlement restraint has caused major financial damage by exacerbating Israel’s massive housing crisis. As of last year, the price of an average apartment had soared to 146 average monthly salaries, more than double the ratio in most other countries, and up from just 43 in 2008; rents have risen correspondingly. In short, housing in Israel has simply become unaffordable for most people, and that’s a major threat to Israel’s future:…

The settlement blocs are all within commuting distance of the center of the country, which is where the jobs are, and thus where people want to live; inside the Green Line, in contrast, there are few empty areas left in the country’s narrow waist. And in Jerusalem, the housing shortage is the main reason why the capital loses some 18,000 Jews every year.

Commuting distances from Kedumim in the Shomron (Samaria) to other Israeli cities

Commuting distances from Kedumim in the Shomron (Samaria) to other Israeli cities

Netanyahu was willing to absorb all this damage in the belief that international leaders, regardless of what they said publicly, would know the truth about the brakes he has put on settlement construction and support him when it mattered. But to most of the world, the facts have never mattered where Israel is concerned, and it turns out the same is true of the post-truth Obama Administration.

So if Israel is going to be accused of “accelerated settlement activity” and slapped with potentially serious consequences no matter how much restraint it shows, there’s no justification whatsoever for it to incur the very real costs of this restraint. Hence there’s only one sensible response to this resolution: Build, baby, build.

And once again, in case anyone had the slightest doubt about the invalidity of the “Israeli occupation” myth, law blogger Elliott Hamilton lays to rest the myth of the “illegal Israeli occupation” in a scholarly article in The Daily Wire.

From the perspective of someone who does not understand international law or the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, this resolution tells the story that Israelis have trampled over Palestinian lands illegally and decided to build houses on them in a fit of colonial aggression. Unfortunately for them, that is nonsensical and false.

I recommend you read the entire article which has detailed quotes from the laws of treaties from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

His concluding paragraph chimes with the Quora comment by Gail Ellis which I quoted in my earlier piece on “what’s wrong with Resolution 2334“. Hamilton writes:

Since there has never been a sovereign state of “Palestine” prior to 1948 or 1967 and since there is still no legitimate state of “Palestine” today, there cannot legally be an “occupation of Palestinian lands” by Israel according to the Hague Convention of 1907. Since there was no legitimate Palestinian state and Israel already has legal claim to Judea, Samaria, and Eastern Jerusalem, Israel has the right to build Jewish communities in disputed territory in Area C until a final peace agreement is signed with the Palestinian Authority, if that is still possible at this point…

We must keep hammering this point home until the world gets it.