- Improving ballistic missile defense and cyber technologies feature Israel as a top partner with the US in the area of groundbreaking research, development and production;
- Operational and technological homeland security and counter-terrorism highlight Israel’s unique experience as a game-changing contributor to the US’ intelligence, training and operations;
- The stress on innovation underscores Israel as a platform of cutting-edge technologies for over 200 US hightech giants, as well as the leading battle-tested laboratory of the US defense industries, upgrading the latter’s research and development, global competitiveness, exports and employment-base.
President Obama praised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as “a man of action” and one of the five world leaders with whom he had the strongest bond. President Trump met with him at the White House last spring.
And certainly Erdogan has tried to portray himself to Western leaders as a pragmatist with whom they can work.
But at a convention of his ruling party Sunday, Erdogan invoked a Muslim hadith – a collection of the accounts and sayings of Muhammad – that made clear his view of Jews and the state of Israel, according to dissident Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt, the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported.
“Those who think they own Jerusalem better know that tomorrow they won’t be able to hide behind trees,” Erdogan said, according to Bozkurt.
That statement essentially is an affirmation of a prophecy that all Jews will one day be destroyed, the journalist said.
Bozkurt explained Erdogan was making “a veiled threat of killing each and every Jew with a shocking reference to apocalyptic prophecy of tree story.”
The Turkish leader was responding to President Trump’s decision last week to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to begin the process of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Bozkurt said anti-Semitism has always been in the background in Turkish society, but this marks the first time Turkey’s head of state has publicly fueled it.
Last year, Erdogan shut down Bozkurt’s former newspaper, Today’s Zaman, which had Turkey’s largest circulation, IPT noted.
The full hadith that Erdogan referenced says:
The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.
Erdogan invoked the hadith during a Justice and Development Party gathering Sunday in which he also accused Israel of being a terrorist state.
Turkey, under Erdogan, has harbored and funded Hamas terrorists, provided covert support to ISIS and other jihadists in Syria, and bombed civilians belonging to his own Kurdish minority, IPT said.
IPT pointed out that the Turkish Youth Foundation, run by Erdogan’s son, Bilal, participated in anti-Israel and anti-U.S. rallies calling on Muslims to unite against Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.
On Friday, protesters in Istanbul chanted “Jerusalem is ours and will remain so!” along with “Down with America” and “Down with Israel.”
‘An approach typical of the Russians or Chinese’
In May, as WND reported, Erdogan watching his security officials beat protesters outside Turkey’s embassy in Washington. Members of his security team also clashed with demonstrators in 2016 outside the Brookings Institution in Washington, where he was giving a speech.
Brookings issued a statement at the time saying the security team “behaved unacceptably – they roughed up protesters outside the building and tried to drag away ‘undesired’ journalists, an approach typical of the Russians or Chinese.”
WND reported many geopolitical analysts are concerned the NATO nation, once regarded as a potential member of the European Union, is being systematically transformed into an anti-Western power. Fifteen years into his rule, Erdogan is abandoning the secular tradition of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, in favor of Islamic nationalism.
In April, Erdogan declared victory in a referendum to grant him sweeping powers in a vote opponents charged was marred by irregularities.
The measure, with 51.5 percent of the vote, replaced Turkey’s parliamentary system with an all-powerful presidency and abolished the office of prime minister.
A week before his visit to the U.S., Erdogan urged Muslims to swarm the Temple Mount to act as a counter to the “insult” of “occupied Jerusalem.”
He called Israel a “racist and discriminatory” state that is reminiscent of apartheid in South Africa.
Erdogan also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah to work on “unifying efforts to protect Jerusalem against attempts of Judaization,” the independent Palestinian Maan news agency reported.
In December 2016, as WND reported, hacked emails released by WikiLeaks showed Erdogan’s son-in-law was tied to the company accused of importing oil from ISIS. Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov previously told journalists in Moscow that Erdogan and his family were “involved” in ISIS’ illegal oil trade and personally benefiting from it.
At the White House in May, President Trump and Erdogan described the relationship between the two countries as strong but avoided the differences over strategies for confronting ISIS in northern Syria.
The previous week, the Trump administration decided to supply heavy weapons to Syrian Kurdish rebel militias, the YPG, fighting ISIS. Turkey is in an ongoing battle with Kurdish separatists in its southeast.
The Turkish embassy claims the protesters at the embassy Tuesday were affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), the leading Kurdish separatist group, which has been banned in Turkey.
The case of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who has been imprisoned in Turkey without formal charges since October 2016, was brought up three times during Trump’s meeting with Erdogan, twice by Trump and once by Vice President Mike Pence, CBN reported.
A former member of Turkey’s Parliament who has advocated for Brunson’s release, Aykan Erdemir, told CBN that Brunson, improbably accused of “membership in an armed terrorist organization,” is now “a pawn, kind of a trump card in Erdogan’s hand.”
“There’s absolutely no rule of law, no due process in that case, it’s a completely bogus case. Anyone who has looked at the case knows that these are trumped up charges,” he said.
by Caroline Glick
Europe is the epicenter of the political war against Israel. Europe fights Israel on the streets of Europe. Europe fights Israel in the corridors of power in Brussels, other Western European capitals and the UN. Europe fights Israel in Israel itself.
Europe’s war against Israel is a passive-aggressive campaign fought and denied simultaneously. But in recent years, the mask has fallen over and over again.
In the days that have passed since US President Donald Trump’s dramatic announcement that the US recognizes that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and is beginning to take concrete steps to move its embassy to the city, Europe’s war against Israel has again become impossible to deny or ignore. Europe’s response to Trump’s announcement has been extreme, violent and more outspoken than the response of the Arab world.
The EU-funded Palestinian Authority reacted to Trump’s move by exhorting its subjects to riot and attack Israelis.
Sunday, Yassin Abu el-Qura heeded the call. Qura stabbed Asher Elmalich in the heart and critically wounded him. Elmalich was a security guard at Jerusalem’s central bus station.
According to Channel 2, Qura is a member of a prominent family of Fatah members with close ties to the PA and its EU- and US-funded and trained security forces. His father is the commander of one of the security forces in Salfit, in Samaria. Two of his brothers are also PA security officers.
Around the same time Qura was stabbing Elmalich, the British government announced it was providing the PA with 20 million pounds in supplemental budgetary funding.
Qura’s attack was notable because it took place against the backdrop of lackluster attendance at PA-organized protests. As former US Middle East mediator Aaron David Miller tweeted on Sunday, the low attendance at these demonstrations, like the low attendance at anti-US and anti-Israel demonstrations in the Arab world is an “indication of how much the region has changed [in recent years] and the loss of centrality of [the] Palestinian issue. [The] Palestinian street is exhausted; the Arab street has disappeared.”
But while the Arab street was indifferent to Trump’s declaration, the European street went berserk. Thousands of protesters assembled in London and Paris, in Berlin and Stockholm. They burned Israeli flags and called for the annihilation of Israel and the murder of Jews.
Physical attacks on Jews have been an integral component of the anti-Trump riots in Europe. Saturday night a group of 20 rioters firebombed a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden where Jewish children were holding a party. Friday a man clad in a keffiyeh attacked a Jewish restaurant in Amsterdam with a club while screaming Allahu Akbar.
European officials have refused to call these attacks hate crimes. As they see it, attacks against Jews in the name of hatred for Israel are totally justified.
For instance, as The Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal reported in January, a German regional court found that perpetrators of a 2014 firebombing of a synagogue in Wuppertal had not committed a hate crime. Instead, the court ruled the Arab German perpetrators firebombed the synagogue as a result of their legitimate concern over Israel’s military operations against Hamas terrorists in Operation Protective Edge.
They all received suspended jail terms.
And whereas the Europeans refuse to condemn antisemitic attacks launched in the name of rejection of Israel, they rapidly condemned Trump for accepting Israel’s right to its capital city. Everyone who is everyone, including EU High Commissioner on Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel slammed Trump for recognizing reality. They insisted he “endangered” prospects for peace and threatened to throw the region into “even darker times.”
Then there are the anti-Israel campaigns that the EU and its member states wage against Israel in Israel. In the aftermath of Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem last Wednesday, Israeli Arabs carried out violent riots in Wadi Ara, forcing the closure of sections of Highway 65 which connects Tiberias with central Israel. An Israeli girl was hospitalized after being wounded by rocks thrown at the passenger bus she was traveling in on Saturday night. A photographer for Yediot Aharonot was attacked and his motorcycle was smashed while he tried to report on the riots.
The EU has invested tens of millions of dollars radicalizing the Israeli Arab community in recent years. Organizations including Adalah, Baldana, Massowa, Zohrot and the Negev Coexistence Forum have indoctrinated, urged and paid Israeli Arabs to abandon their Israeli identity, view themselves as Palestinians and reject Israel’s right to exist.
Survey data shows that a large and growing majority of Israeli Arabs wish to integrate into the wider Israeli society. And yet, with effectively unlimited funding from European governments, radical, irredentist forces inside the Israeli Arab community have managed to intimidate their opponents into silence and incite their members to reject Israel.
This then brings us to the EU’s role in subverting Israeli politics more generally. For the past several months, leftist political strategist and self-styled anti-corruption dragon slayer Eldad Yaniv has been leading a political campaign to demand that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted.
Yaniv’s campaign has involved weekly demonstrations against Netanyahu which are widely covered by the media.
Netanyahu’s supporters have repeatedly pointed to chants and placards at those demonstrations spending less time calling for Netanyahu to be indicted than they spend calling for him to be overthrown. That is, Netanyahu’s supporters allege Yaniv is manipulating the public by using unproved allegations of corruption to diminish public support for the government in the service of the radical Left.
Last Saturday’s demonstration in Tel Aviv bore out those allegations. Prominently displayed was a giant, brightly illuminated sign that read “BDS.” Radical demonstrators called for Israel to be destroyed and vowed never to defend “Zionism.”
According to an investigative report on the demonstration published Monday in Israel Hayom, among the demonstrations’ major financial backers and organizers are One Voice, a US-registered NGO that receives financial support from the EU, the British Muslim Organization and Labour Friends of Palestine. Other groups similarly receive money from EU governments and government-funded NGOs. In other words, according to the report, the EU is funding Israeli groups that are working openly to overthrow the democratically elected government of Israel.
On Sunday and Monday Netanyahu visited Paris and Brussels to confront Europe’s leaders and challenge their hostility toward Israel. He told his European hosts that their opposition to Trump’s recognition of reality in respect to Jerusalem was indefensible. Far from harming the cause of peace, Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital advanced it. After all, there is no way a sustainable peace can be based on rejection of reality, he argued.
As the lukewarm responses Netanyahu received from the likes of Mogherini and Macron made clear, the Europeans behind the war against Israel have no intention of permitting reality to get in their way.
They aren’t waging their political war geared toward delegitimizing Israel internationally, even at the expense of their local Jewish communities, and subverting Israel’s government domestically to advance peace. They are doing it because they think their interests are served by waging war against Israel.
Ahead of Netanyahu’s trip to Europe and US Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel later this week, the PA announced its leaders would boycott Pence in retaliation for Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem. The Palestinian notion – supported by their Israeli far Left supporters – is that the EU should replace the US as the mediator.
During his meeting Sunday with Netanyahu, Macron rejected those suggestions. And that makes sense. Because even if he wanted to supplant the Americans, there is no chance he would succeed. Israel will never permit the Europeans to mediate anything. Their war against Israel internationally and inside of Israel itself has achieved one clear result. The Europeans have convinced Israelis not to trust them, not to admire them, and not to consider them friends.
“Israel will never permit the Europeans to mediate anything.”
With or without Israel’s agreement, the EU is determined to take the roll of mediator. Circumstances change and so do the faces at the top. There is a man waiting in the wings whom Israel will put trust in. But he is a devil.
by Caroline Glick
With his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday, US President Donald Trump gave a Hanukka gift to the Jewish people. But he also gave a Christmas gift to the American people.
Trump’s gift to Israel is not merely that 68 years after Israel declared Jerusalem its capital, the US finally recognized Israel’s capital.
In his declaration, Trump said, “Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem, the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times.”
By stating this simple truth, Trump fully rejected the anti-Israel legacy of his predecessor Barack Obama.
In his speech in Cairo in 2009, Obama intimated that Israel’s legitimacy is rooted in the Holocaust, rather than in the Jewish nation’s millennial attachment to the Land of Israel. Whereas the Balfour Declaration and the League of Nations Mandate rooted the Jewish people’s sovereign rights to the Land of Israel in its 3,500-year relationship with it, Obama said that Israel is nothing more than a refugee camp located in an inconvenient area. In so doing, he gave credence to the anti-Israel slander that Israel is a colonialist power.
By asserting the real basis for Israel’s legitimacy, Trump made clear that the Jewish people is indigenous to the Land of Israel. He also made it US policy to view Israel’s right to exist, like its right to its capital city, as unconditional.
Trump’s extraordinary gift to Israel was an act of political and moral courage. It was also a stroke of strategic brilliance.
To understand why it was both courageous and wise, consider the political, institutional and geopolitical contexts in which Trump acted.
Politically, Trump made his declaration in a poisonous political environment at home.
The Democrats responded to Trump’s victory last year over Hillary Clinton by seeking to delegitimize his victory. To this end, they chose to oppose everything that he says and does.
And so, despite their long-held and recently voiced support for US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, leading Democratic senators including New Jersey’s Cory Booker and California’s Diane Feinstein condemned Trump’s declaration.
The Democrats’ rejection of Trump’s move was an astounding act of hypocrisy. But it was also predictable.
Trump had to know the Democrats would oppose him. And he also had to know that in their opposition, they would empower US allies in Europe and the Arab world to publicly condemn his move in a manner they would be loath to do if the Democrats supported him. And still, despite this sure knowledge, Trump took action.
And it wasn’t only the Democrats, the Europeans and the Arabs Trump willingly opposed. His chief opposition came from within his own government.
Since 1949, the State Department has driven US policy on Israel and on the Middle East as a whole. And since 1949, the State Department’s Israel policy has refused to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Even worse, it worked to undermine any international support for Israel’s sovereign rights to Jerusalem.
For instance, a 1962 State Department memo to then-president John F. Kennedy’s national security adviser McGeorge Bundy laid out the law on Jerusalem.
The memo told Bundy that not only did the State Department oppose Israel’s decision to make Jerusalem its capital. It detailed the efforts the State Department had made over more than a decade to lobby every government that opened diplomatic ties with Israel not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not to locate its embassy in Jerusalem.
Over the years, various presidents have taken issue with the State Department’s policy toward Israel. These disputes have been informed both by genuine disagreement with Foggy Bottom’s institutional hostility toward Israel and by political concerns. The American people have been supportive of Israel, and that support has only grown over the years.
But despite their genuine disputes and political concerns, no president who opposed State Department hostility toward Israel seized control over US Israel policy from the State Department.
That is, no one did until Trump did.
On Wednesday, in a very public way, Trump wrested control over US policy toward Israel generally, and Jerusalem specifically, from the State Department. The consequences of Trump’s seizure of the reins over US Middle East policy are enormous, and entirely positive for the US itself. Indeed, two in particular are great gifts to the American people.
In his declaration, Trump said, “Today we finally acknowledge the obvious. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.”
Under State Department control for 68 years, US foreign policy relating to Israel specifically and the Middle East as a whole was made in deliberate defiance of reality. In the case of Jerusalem, rather than recognize the plain fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital city, the State Department insisted on pretending that Israel has no capital. This position was a central component of an overall US Middle East policy that the State Department similarly based on a defiant rejection of observable reality.
So it happened that for decades the US ignored the multiple, systemic pathologies of the Arab and Islamic world and opted instead to predicate its policies on the false assumption that the problems of the Middle East are rooted in Israel’s refusal to sufficiently appease the Arab world.
By rejecting the State Department’s position on Jerusalem, and by noting that its position is rooted in a rejection of reality, Trump initiated a new course for US Middle East policy rooted in reality for the first time in three generations.
The salutary implications of a reality-based policy for America are as self-evident as the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.
This brings us to the second positive advantage America gained from Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.
Over the span of decades, a US president’s power to determine foreign policy was measured by two things: the amount of daylight between White House statements and traditional State Department positions, and the disparity between US foreign policy positions and the positions of Western European governments and the EU. The greater the distance between White House positions and those of the State Department and Europe, the more power the president held over US foreign policy.
The only exception to this rule was Obama. Like the State Department, and like Europe, Obama’s foreign policy was predicated on the need for the US to appease its enemies at the expense of its allies – first and foremost Israel. It was also based on the State Department’s long-held assumption that the US should align its policies with Europe. Given his convictions, Obama could advance his agenda in harmony with the State Department.
During Obama’s tenure, US allies and enemies alike were conditioned to believe that the US would not challenge them and that the State Department controlled US foreign policy. The Europeans came to believe that despite their military and economic dependence on the US, it was the US that had to take their policies into account when it fashioned its foreign policies – and not the other way around. This was certainly the case in the Middle East where Obama eagerly joined them in appeasing Iran and turning the screws on Israel.
As for America’s enemies, Obama and his State Department made it clear to the North Koreans and Iranians that American threats were a joke. The US would do nothing to seriously challenge them. And in the interests of appeasing them, the US was willing to sell out all of its allies.
With this track record, it was clear that Trump would need to take dramatic action to show US allies and enemies alike that the rules of the game had changed in Washington.
Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem did the job.
By recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in defiance of Europe and the Arabs and in the course of wresting control of Middle East policy from the State Department, Trump showed US allies and enemies alike that he is in charge. And he is willing to act even when doing so provokes US enemies to threaten retaliation, when he believes that his action advances US interests.
Trump’s move wasn’t merely strategically brilliant. It was also a political masterstroke.
Consider the liberal Union for Reform Judaism’s contradictory responses to his recognition of Jerusalem. In the lead-up to Trump’s declaration, URJ President Rick Jacobs condemned Trump’s anticipated move which he claimed would harm chances for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Jacobs’s statement – which was supported by key groups within the Reform movement – effectively divorced Reform Judaism from Zionism. By giving the PLO a veto over Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, Jacobs said that the Reform movement thinks PLO claims to Jerusalem are stronger than Jewish claims.
This self-evidently anti-Zionist position apparently didn’t go down well with the Reform rank and file. Because less than 24 hours after Trump gave his speech, the URJ issued a new statement praising Trump’s move.
And the URJ leaders aren’t the only ones with egg on their face.
Trump risked political support in the opinion polls by deepening US support for Israel in the face of strident opposition from the Democrats, the State Department, the media, the Europeans and the Arabs because he believed it was the right thing to do.
And as it works out, it was also an astute, if incredibly gutsy political move.
By standing up to the Democrats who just months ago called for him to take the very actions he took, but now opposed them because it was Trump adopting them, Trump exposed the likes of Booker and Feinstein as hypocritical opportunists. At the same time, he took ownership of a policy of supporting Israel that enjoys broad and deep public support.
To sum up then, by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump made clear that US support for Israel is not conditioned on anything. Israel, the Jewish state, is supported by the US because it deserves US support as an allied democracy.
Trump strengthened himself against his political opponents by taking ownership of a deeply popular foreign policy position.
He took control of US foreign policy from a State Department that opposes his policies. He made reality, rather than the defiance of reality, the foundation of US Middle East policy.
He put US allies and enemies on notice that he is calling the shots in US foreign policy. And he took a large step toward restoring US credibility as a superpower.
Oh, and he accomplished all of these things without spending a dime.
For his gift to Israel, Trump now enters the pantheon of Israel’s friends in the annals of Jewish history.
For his gifts to America he has taken his place among the most astute American statesmen.
And for his political and economic mastery, he enters the ranks of the geniuses of American political history.
by Caroline Glick
Over the weekend, The New York Times published its latest broadside against US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for what the newspaper referred to as his “culling” of senior State Department officials and his failure to date to either nominate or appoint senior personnel to open positions.
But if the State Department’s extraordinary about face on the PLO’s mission in Washington is an indication of what passes for US diplomacy these days, then perhaps Tillerson should just shut down operations at Foggy Bottom. The US would be better off without representation by its diplomats.
Last week, in accordance with US law, Tillerson notified the PLO’s Washington envoy Husam Zomlot that the PLO’s mission in Washington has to close within 90 days because it has breached the legal terms governing its operations.
Specifically, Tillerson explained, PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas breached US law when he called for the International Criminal Court to indict and prosecute Israeli nationals during his speech before the UN General Assembly in September.
Tillerson explained that under US law, the only way to keep the PLO mission in Washington open is if US President Donald Trump certifies in the next 90 days that its representatives are engaged in “direct and meaningful negotiations” with Israel.
The PLO didn’t respond to Tillerson with quiet diplomacy. It didn’t make an attempt to appease Congress or the State Department by for instance agreeing to end its campaign to get Israelis charged with war crimes at the ICC. It didn’t put an abrupt end to its financial support for terrorism and terrorists. It didn’t stop inciting Palestinians to hate Israel and seek its destruction. It didn’t disavow its efforts to form a unity government with Hamas and its terrorist regime in Gaza.
It didn’t join Saudi Arabia and Egypt in their efforts to fight Iranian power and influence in the region. It didn’t end its efforts to have Israeli companies blacklisted by the UN Human Rights Committee or scale back its leadership of the international boycott movement against Israel.
The PLO certainly didn’t begin “direct and meaningful negotiations” with Israel.
Instead of doing any of these things, in response to Tillerson’s notification, the PLO lashed out as the US. Abbas and his advisers launched an all-out assault against President Donald Trump and his team of Middle East envoys led by his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and his senior negotiator Jason Greenblatt.
PLO-controlled media outlets published a flood of stories which trafficked in antisemitic conspiracy theories against Trump and his Jewish American advisors. The PLO media renewed its allegations that Kushner, Greenblatt and US Ambassador David Friedman are more loyal to Israel than to the US.
Abbas’s media outlets also escalated their criticism of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE for their focus on combating Iranian aggression. These regimes are selling the Palestinians down the river, the PLO outlets have proclaimed, as Abbas’s flacks have insisted that the PLO will not accept any regional peace.
Relations between Arab states and Israel, the PLO insists, cannot be fostered so long as Israel fails to capitulate to all of the PLO’s demands.
In commentary published at the Gatestone Institute website, Palestinian commentator Bassam Tawil alleges that the Palestinian rejection of the requirements of US law and its assaults against the Trump administration and Sunni Arab states may serve as a pretext for another Palestinian terror campaign against Israel, which will be justified as a response to an American-Israeli-Saudi-Egyptian plot against the Palestinians.
Given that the US is a superpower and the largest state financier of the PA, not to mention the foundation of the PLO’s claim to legitimacy on the world stage, the US might have been expected to respond harshly to the PLO’s threats and slanders. But then, that isn’t the State Department’s way of doing things with the PLO.
Rather than shrugging their shoulders and acknowledging that Abbas and his comrades have absolutely no intention whatsoever of abiding by the terms of their mission’s operations in Washington and shutting it down, the State Department began to stutter.
Obviously we wish to continue our good relations and our position as mediator between the Israelis and the PLO.
Obviously we wouldn’t wish the PLO any harm and really, really don’t want to close down its mission in Washington.
It’s just that we have this stupid law and we have to follow it, State Department officials insisted.
And then, less than a week after Tillerson sent his letter to Zomlot, the State Department beat a hasty retreat from its earlier decision to actually abide by US law when it comes to the PLO.
Saturday, The Hill online newspaper reported that the State Department had changed its mind. It is no longer interested in following the law. Instead, it has rewritten the law. Now, it’s fine for the PLO to operate in Washington while trampling US law. It just needs to pretend it isn’t doing what it is doing.
According to the State Department spokesman who revealed State’s about face to the media, the PLO mission can continue to operate, but its operations must be “related to achieving a lasting, comprehensive peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.”
And if they aren’t, well, under this new interpretation of the law, the State Department can pretend it hasn’t noticed.
Two questions arise from the State Departments reversal. First, how does this decision advance the cause of peace between Israel and the Palestinians? And second, how does this decision impact the Trump administration’s bid to realign the balance of forces in the Middle East away from Iran and toward the US’s Arab allies, led by Saudi Arabia? The answer to the first question is straightforward. By empowering the PLO to continue to breach US law – with the full expectation of continuing to receive US assistance to the tune of more than $500 million a year – the US has made itself a laughingstock. Neither Hamas nor the PLO will take the US seriously. Any pressure the US attempts to apply toward the PLO to moderate its stand toward Israel will be ignored by Abbas and his cronies in the PLO and Hamas alike.
The Palestinians have taken the Trump administration’s measure. By beating a hasty retreat from its initial decision to stand with the law against the PLO, the State Department has told the PLO that the Trump administration is a paper tiger, at best.
They can get away with publicly trashing Trump. They can get away with antisemitic attacks against Friedman, Greenblatt and Kushner. Abbas and his deputies can get away with their war to delegitimize Israel in the West and harm its economy through their boycott campaign.
And the PLO can finance terrorism, sign a unity deal with Hamas and side with Hezbollah in Lebanon against Saudi Arabia.
The Trump administration will do nothing against them. Instead, in the face of this contemptuous slap in the face to the US, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Ramallah next month and have his picture taken with Abbas the “moderate” leader and peace partner.
This then brings us to the second question of how surrendering to PLO threats will influence the US’s regional position. As Tawil reported, Al Quds, a Palestinian paper that reflects the views of Abbas and his associates, blasted the Arab League for focusing on Iran at its most recent foreign ministers’ meeting in Cairo.
“The meeting ignored the Palestinian cause,” the paper complained.
“We are facing new Arab alliances against Iran, all under American pressure.
This will have a negative impact on our cause,” it warned.
For more than a generation, the State Department, and through it US Middle East policy as a whole, have been captivated by the myth that nothing can happen in the Middle East without Israel first capitulating to PLO demands.
Today, 17 years after the PLO rejected statehood and peace at Camp David and in so doing, made clear that no Israeli capitulation short of national suicide will satisfy it, and with the Sunni Arab world now eagerly working with Israel to defeat Iran and its proxies, it is clear that it is time for the US to cut the cord on the PLO.
By reversing course on closing the PLO mission, and groveling to the threatening PLO, the State Department made a laughingstock of the US and President Trump. The decision to reverse course should itself be reversed, in accordance with US law and in the interest in restoring what it is still possible to restore of US credibility in the Middle East.
By Caroline Glick
Five months ago, 28 year old Ziv Moyal, an Israeli security officer at Israel’s embassy in Amman, was stabbed in his apartment by a Jordanian assailant, whom he shot and killed.
Moyal also accidentally killed his Jordanian landlord, who was present on the scene.
In the immediate aftermath of the incident, incited by the state-controlled media, the Jordanian public was whipped into an anti-Israel frenzy. In short order, a mob surrounded the embassy, to which Moyal and another 20 Israeli diplomats fled immediately after the shooting.
For 24 hours, those Israeli diplomats, led by Ambassador Einat Schlein were besieged.
Despite the fact that they are barred from doing so under the Vienna Convention, Jordanian authorities demanded to interrogate Moyal. By refusing to enable the diplomats to safely return to Israel until Moyal submitted to questioning, they effectively held Schlein and her colleagues hostage.
It took the intervention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the life-threatening crisis. The price Jordan’s King Abdullah II exacted for the freedom and protection of Israel’s diplomatic personnel was high. In exchange for their safe passage, Netanyahu agreed to permit Jordanian officials to be present during Moyal’s questioning by Israeli officials. He also succumbed to Abdullah’s demand that Israeli police remove metal detectors from the Temple Mount, which had been deployed a few days before amid wide-scale violence by Muslim worshipers against Jews.
Since its diplomats were evacuated in July, Israel’s embassy has been closed. Jordan has refused to permit Schlein to return to her duties and has insisted that Moyal be tried for the death of his assailant and his landlord.
It was reported Wednesday that in the interest of ending the diplomatic crisis and reopening Israel’s embassy, Netanyahu has decided to promote Schlein to a senior position in the Foreign Ministry and appoint a replacement.
But Jordan isn’t interested in ending the crisis it deliberately precipitated.
On Thursday, Reuters quoted a Jordanian diplomatic source saying that a new Israeli ambassador “will not be welcome in Jordan until a due legal process takes its course [against Moyal] and justice is served.”
So, unless Israel criminally prosecutes its diplomat who was attacked in his home by a terrorist, Jordan will continue to breach its peace treaty with Israel and bar the Israeli embassy from operating in Amman.
Jordan’s latest round of diplomatic war against Israel took place while Abdullah was in Washington on a “working visit.”
More often than not, Abdullah, who is touted by the US as a moderate leader and a US ally, spends his visits in Washington lobbying against Israel. And, given his reputation as a moderate, he is usually successful.
This week’s visit was no different.
According to the Jordanian media – which he controls – Abdullah is devoting significant time in his meetings with senior administration and Congressional officials to attacking Israel.
Specifically, Abdullah is lobbying against President Donald Trump’s intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, in accordance with US law.
By December 4, Trump will have to sign a semi-annual waiver of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.
The act requires the State Department to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. If Trump doesn’t sign the waiver, the embassy will automatically be moved to Jerusalem, in accordance with the law.
Speculation that Trump may refuse to sign the waiver was raised this week by Vice President Mike Pence. In his speech at a UN event marking the 70th anniversary of the UN vote to end the British Mandate in the land of Israel and partition the land between a Jewish state and an Arab state, Pence made clear that moving the embassy is being actively discussed.
According the Times of Jordan, Abdullah told senior US lawmakers that “moving the embassy… could be potentially exploited by terrorists to stoke anger, frustration and desperation in order to spread their ideologies.”
During his visit, Abdullah also met with Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster.
Although Jordanian media reports of those visits did not include information regarding the possible move of the US embassy, it stands to reason that Abdullah made similar points to Pence, Tillerson and McMaster.
It can only be hoped that Abdullah’s warnings were rebuked by his American interlocutors.
Because, if terrorists are motivated to act in the wake of a US decision to move the embassy, Jordan will hold a significant share of the blame.
To understand why, it is important to remember what happened last July in Amman. Had Abdullah ordered his media organs to either tell the truth about what happened at Moyal’s apartment or simply not report the incident at all until the embassy staff were safely in Israel, the diplomatic crisis would have been averted.
Abdullah chose, instead, to stoke the passions of his people, which wasn’t difficult. Thanks to decades of antisemitic incitement at the hands of his media, school system and religious authorities, the people of Jordan are overwhelmingly antisemitic. And this suits Abdullah just fine. He, too, is largely sympathetic to anti-Israeli terrorism and terrorists.
Last March, for instance, Abdullah rejected the US’s extradition request for Hamas terrorist and mass murderer Ahlam Tamimi, the mastermind of the 2001 Sbarro bombing in Jerusalem.
Fifteen people, including eight children were murdered in the attack. Tamimi selected the Sbarro pizzeria as her target because of the large number of children who frequented the eatery during summer vacation.
She was sentenced to 16 life-in-prison sentences, but was released in Israel’s exchange of Hamas terrorists for captive IDF sergeant Gilad Schalit in 2011. Upon her release, she moved to Amman where Abdullah gave her the red carpet treatment. In her new home, Tamimi hosts a show on Hamas’s television station. She uses her platform to incite terrorism and indoctrinate her viewers to aspire to murder Israelis, as she did.
Several of Tamimi’s victims at Sbarro were American citizens, including 15-year-old Malki Roth and 31-year-old Shoshana Judy Greenbaum.
Greenbaum was five months pregnant when her body was blown apart.
By harboring Tamimi, Abdullah tells his subjects they are right to hate Israelis and to work toward Israel’s destruction.
This brings us to the question of Trump’s possible decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Israel’s capital.
By having his media spew a constant diet of genocidal antisemitism, Abdullah is all but guaranteeing that the terrorism he warns of will occur if Trump enforces US law and moves the embassy. So he is not speaking as a worried friend when he tells his American hosts of the dire consequences of moving the embassy. He is threatening them with an outcome for which he will have significant responsibility.
One of the reasons Abdullah feels comfortable making the argument that moving the embassy will provoke terrorism is because that is the argument that has been used successfully to block the transfer of the US embassy to Israel in the past.
But, in October, we received a clear indication that these Chicken Little warnings are untrue.
In October, Trump overruled Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Tillerson and McMaster, and chose not to tell Congress that Iran was in compliance of the nuclear deal the Iranians were breaching. Supporters of the nuclear deal in the administration and outside of it warned that such a move would have a deeply destabilizing impact on the region and endanger the US.
As the past three months have shown, those warnings were entirely wrong.
The world did not explode after Trump rejected the received wisdom of the foreign policy establishment in Washington. Instead, the US’s Sunni-Arab allies have been empowered to join forces to combat Iran. Economically and diplomatically, Iran is far more isolated globally today than it was three months ago.
Moreover, freed from the need to pretend that Iran is a credible actor in the international community, Trump can base US policy toward Iran on reality.
No, Trump has not mapped out a clear strategy for containing and scaling back Iranian power. If he had, the US would have stopped arming and funding the Iranian-controlled Lebanese Armed Forces by now.
But, at least he hasn’t based an Iran policy on fantasy as his predecessor Barack Obama did.
Moreover, even the limited steps Trump has taken toward developing a strategy for dealing with Iran have been effective and rational. For instance, to protect the nuclear deal and maintain its claim that Iran was formally complying with its terms, the Obama administration paid the Iranian regime $8.6 million to buy heavy water that Iran produced in excess of the quantities permitted under the nuclear deal.
This week, the White House announced that it would stop this practice. As a National Security Council spokesman told the Washington Free Beacon, “The United States is not planning to purchase any Iranian heavy water. We have made it clear to Iran that it is their responsibility to remain under the heavy water limit.”
In summary, disaster did not strike after Trump bucked the collected wisdom of the entire foreign policy elite in Washington, including his top three national security advisers. To the contrary, things improved. By basing his policy on reality, Trump expanded his maneuver room, empowered US allies and began basing US policies toward Iran on reality.
By the same token, if Trump disregards Abdullah’s threats posing as warnings, and disregards the advice of Abdullah’s many friends in Washington, and moves the US embassy to Jerusalem, the sky will not fall. By recognizing the basic fact that Jerusalem is and always will be Israel’s capital, Trump will give himself the ability to develop Middle East policies that are similarly grounded in reality.
By calling the bluff of the myriad experts that insist recognizing reality will bring war, Trump can expand US power, credibility and deterrence in an unstable region. Far from causing a war, Trump can diminish the chance of war by demanding that Jordan and other disingenuous allies stop empowering jihadists and terrorists.
To this end, rather than heeding Abdullah’s threats of violence, Trump can tell Abdullah to prevent that violence by ending his media’s antisemitic incitement; extraditing Tamimi to the US; accepting the credentials of the Israeli ambassador; and reopening the Israeli embassy in Amman.
Truth is a powerful weapon. Once you base your foreign policy on it, there is no limit to the potential effectiveness of that policy in preventing war and expanding the prospects of true and lasting peace.