BEN WEINGARTEN

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: Israel (Page 1 of 2)

13 Interviews that Will Make You Smarter on U.S. National Security & Foreign Policy

Over the last five years I’ve had the privilege to interview some of the savviest thinkers on American national security and foreign policy.

These discussions have covered critical subjects ranging from the global jihadist movement, to Iran, Russia and China, strategic disinformation and EMPs.

Below are what I think are some of the most insightful and thought-provoking of these conversations on such live and all-too-relevant topics.

1) Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Heretic

2) Andrew Bostom, Iran’s Final Solution for Israel: The Legacy of Jihad and Shi’ite Islamic Jew-Hatred in Iran

3) Victoria Coates, Special Assistant to the President & Senior Director for International Negotiations, NSC for the Trump Administration, David’s Sling [Transcript]

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Israel’s Temple Mount Policy is a Microcosm of What Ails the West

In a new piece for the Claremont Review of Books, I argue that Israel’s Temple Mount policy from its reclamation in 1967 to today — intended to appease Arab aggressors — is a microcosm of what ails the West. In fact, it reflects the perfect symbol of our civilization’s lack of confidence in its moral legitimacy, sovereignty, and the right to defend against aggression.

Here’s a taste:

Israel does not err alone. The Temple Mount, which is core to the Judeo-Christian world generally, and to Israel—which is the first line of defense of Western civilization against Islamic supremacism—is symbolic of the West’s broader ideological maladies. Leftism sees the West as an evil, oppressive, occupying force. The hysterical reaction to President Trump’s Poland speech in defense of Western civilization—which was read by the Left with scare quotes as a defense of racism and colonialism—is the product of such “progressive” brainwashing.

The West has deemed itself morally illegitimate, the decadent and depraved creation of dead European white males. To make up for real and imagined historic injustices, the West has frequently repudiated its fundamental principles, and actively undermined its institutions. Its crisis of moral legitimacy is revealed in virulently anti-religious secularism, and in attacks on the natural rights to life, liberty, and property by an administrative state operating without the consent of the people.

The West’s lack of confidence in its sovereignty is revealed in open-borders policies that result in endless migrant floods, regardless of whether the migrants will or can enhance economic or social development. Progressive activists go so far as to imply that every migrant—legal or not—has an inherent right to citizenship, or at least to the rights guaranteed by citizenship. The multicultural credo that holds all cultures to be equal and inherently valuable is thought to obviate the need for borders.

The West’s unwillingness to defend itself against Islamic aggression reveals itself in Europe’s “no-go zones.” In America, it reveals itself through our see-no-Islam national security and foreign policy, and in the pervasive belief that we must appease our enemies with bribery (Iran Deal), sacrifice our rights (anti-free speech measures so as not to offend), or remove our defenses through politically correct policies chiefly oriented towards concession rather than victory (“Countering Violent Extremism”). At the heart of these policies is a belief that the West is the aggressor, and our enemies are the aggrieved.

The West’s lack of confidence ultimately extends to its right to survive. If one of the least abashed Western nations won’t assert itself at Temple Mount, it is hard to be sure where other nations will draw lines they are prepared to defend without yielding.

Read the whole thing here.

Trump Reinvigorates the US-Israel Relationship Upending Obama’s Anti-Zionist Agenda

In the days since becoming president, Donald Trump took swift action indicating that days of Obama antipathy were coming to an end, through his symbolic and substantive appointment of staunch Zionist David Friedman as U.S. Ambassador to Israel, to his putting Iran “on notice” and imposing sanctions against it, and his reversal of U.S. policy on Judea and Samaria.

But February 15, 2017, the day that President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stood side by side at the White House for the first time, may have marked the official end to the shameful Obama years.

I write about this heartening change for the benefit of all of Western civilization in a new piece at Conservative Review.

Here are seven fundamental takeaways from the recent Trump-Netanyahu joint press conference:

1. Mutual dedication to thwarting Iran and fighting Islamic supremacism more broadly:

Contrary to an Obama administration that coddled Iran and allowed Islamic supremacism to metastasize, President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu mutually agreed to mitigate the disaster that is the Iran Deal, including stopping Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon and pushing back against its proxies like Hezbollah. Prime Minister Netanyahu lauded President Trump for his commitment to defeating jihadism more broadly, a fight Israel deals with daily in the form of Hamas, Hezbollah, and other terrorist threats. A common understanding of the nature of the Islamic supremacist threat to both nations, and Western civilization more broadly, is in and of itself a profound change.

2. Upending the two-state peace paradigm:

Turning the decades-old status quo on its head, the Trump administration indicated it would no longer be official U.S. policy to seek a peace agreement between the Israelis and Arabs of Palestine that takes the form of two states. As both leaders suggested, such an agreement could take many forms, but “labels” were secondary to substance.

3. The U.S. will not dictate the peace:

President Trump suggested that only a direct agreement between the Israelis and their Arab counterparts would clinch a deal. The U.S. will be happy to facilitate such conversations, including broader ones with Sunni Arab partners, but President Trump indicated a deal would not be forced on Israel by other parties. Moreover, President Trump appeared to endorse the preconditions Prime Minister Netanyahu put on such a peace, including recognition of Israel and its ability to adequately secure Judea and Samaria. Consistent with the administration’s prior statement, President Trump did not call the settlements an obstacle to peace, but did call for a pause seemingly in connection with forthcoming negotiations.

4. Recognition of Arab Jew-hatred as a primary obstacle to peace:

Both President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about the pervasive fundamental Jew-hatred animating large numbers of the Arabs of Palestine, which has stood as a main obstacle to peace. Trump did not draw moral equivalence between the Israelis and Arabs, solely stating that both sides would have to make compromises in a deal.

5. Engaging with Sunni Arab partners:

One of the few silver linings of the Obama administration’s Iran-strengthening policy is that Israel and its Arab neighbors were drawn closer than perhaps at any time in the last hundred years given their common existential threat from Tehran. President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to work with such powers on areas of common interest, presumably including countering jihadists that would threaten their regimes and in context of a broadly negotiated Israeli-Arab peace deal. One such potential plan floated on the eve of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s trip to the U.S. involves creating an area for the Arabs of Palestine spanning from Gaza to the Sinai.

6. Ensuring protection at the United Nations:

Contrary to the Obama administration, President Trump pledged to work to protect Israel from the many hostile nations comprising the United Nations. Trump’s statement comes on the heels of UN Ambassador Nikki Haley’s rejection of former Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad’s appointment as the UN representative to Libya.

7. Rejecting the BDS movement:

Again contra the Obama administration, President Trump declared that he would oppose boycotts targeting Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu concluded the press conference by stating:

I’ve known the president and I’ve known his family and his team for a long time. There is no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump. I think we should put that to rest.

The positive rapport between the two figures appeared genuine, based on a shared worldview and mutual respect.

Watching the press conference, it was self-evident that the pall cast over the relationship between the U.S. and Israel under President Obama has lifted, and the U.S.-Israel alliance reset at an auspicious moment in history.

A rebooted and robust U.S.-Israel relationship will play a central role if we are win the fight to preserve Judeo-Christian Western civilization against the jihadist forces that threaten our survival.

Read the whole thing here.

My Interview With Cruz National Security Advisor Dr. Victoria Coates on ‘David’s Sling’

I recently had the opportunity to speak at length with Republican Presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz’s national security and foreign policy brain trust, Dr. Victoria Coates, on behalf of Encounter Books in connection with the release of her intellectually stimulating and compelling new David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art.

During our extensive interview — which you can listen to in full or in parts per the below — we discuss the indelible link between democracy and creativity, the significance of great works of art and architecture in the history of freedom from Michelangelo’s David to the Parthenon and Picasso’s Guernica, why the entrepreneurial art community endorses political stances anathema to the freedom that sustains it, and everything you would ever want to know about Sen. Ted Cruz’s foreign policy vision. On this latter point, among other subjects, Dr. Coates and I discuss the principles that form the Cruz Doctrine, who in the foreign policy sphere truly carries the mantle of Jeanne Kirkpatrick, what “winning” in the Middle East would look like for America under a President Cruz, Saudi Arabia vs. Iran, whether America has a responsibility under NATO to defend an Islamic supremacist Turkish regime against Russia, how a President Cruz would handle an ascendant Russia, the long-term threat posed by China and how to counter her, the greatest threat to America’s national interest we are most underestimating or ignoring, and much more.

You can also read the transcripts to both parts of our interview here (Part I on David’s Sling) and here (Part II on Foreign Policy/National Security.

PJ Media: Israel, the Media’s Hard Bigotry of ‘High’ Expectations and the Obama Intifada

The notion that a video caused a jihadist attack, or that jihadism more broadly is tolerable or understandable given socioeconomics, “climate disruption” or anything else evinces a soft bigotry of low expectations.

Conversely, the notion that Israel’s defensive action in response to jihadism is always and everywhere “disproportionate” – that unless Israel acts in a self-righteously suicidal manner it is in the wrong – evinces a hard bigotry of “high” expectations.

I explore this outrageous double standard in context of the Third Intifada — in which the media is effectively complicit — in a new article for PJ Media titled Israel, the Media’s Hard Bigotry of ‘High’ Expectations and the Obama Intifada.

Here’s a taste:

As the Lutheran pastor and courageous Nazi resistor Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Not to speak is to speak.” Today he might say of Israeli-Arab coverage, “Not to judge is to judge.” That is, in trying to appear “even-handed,” the media actually explicitly judges when it comes to Arab jihadists versus Jews in Israel.

In drawing moral equivalence between two morally unequivalent sides, the media downgrades Israelis while upgrading jihadists, and worse judges the Israeli as the oppressor and the Arab as the oppressed. The media judges jihadist savagery as tolerable, but Jewish defensive action as unacceptable. The media judges the Arab right to a state (for a Palestinian people that has never existed) as inviolable, but Israel’s right to exist as unconscionable.

Read the whole thing here.

Featured Image Source: MEMRI.

ESPN Silenced Curt Schilling, So What Would It Say to This Arab Writer Who Compared Hamas to the Nazis?

According to the invaluable MEMRI, an Arab writer named Majed Hadib recently published an article in a PLO-affiliated publication in which he compared Hamas to Hitler and the Nazis.

In particular, he argues that the terrorist group’s tactics are going to lead those under its control to destruction akin to that of the Germans during WWII:

[Hamas’] measures resemble those taken by Hitler when he sought the permission of the Germans to lead Germany and its people towards years of glory. [However,] Hitler led Germany to collapse and division, after murdering, arresting and oppressing the German people. The laws he passed were meant to protect his regime on the one hand, and on the other hand to rally the people behind him and lead Germany towards the ‘glorious skies,’ as he called it. If Hamas continues to march on his path and try to rally the people around it without any comprehensive and unified national strategy, and under the pretext of letting the resistance win – it will lead our people to doom and to the end of its lengthy historic struggle, which is soaked in the blood of martyrs…

The author continues:

Hamas must understand now, before it is too late, that its adherence to the principle of attempting to eliminate the other, the steps it is taking to silence others, its increasing oppression of Palestinian national forces and of the people of Gaza, the legislation of the so-called ‘Mutual Responsibility [Tax] Laws’[2] and the taxation that preceded them, the restriction of general liberties… and the hobbling of all media that oppose its activity – all this will not cause the Palestinian people to rally behind it. This, because the Palestinian people is not a herd, but rather a people with a national cause [which has shown] creativity throughout its lengthy struggle. The attempts to eliminate the national forces of the Palestinian people or suppress them will not enable Hamas to lead [the Palestinians] to victory and to the establishment of a Palestinian state. Rather, [Hamas will lead them] where Hitler led the German people – namely to defeat and years-long destruction.

He concludes:

… Will Hamas learn a lesson and cease seeing the other components of the people as something that must be uprooted in order to strengthen [itself], under the pretext of ‘resistance’ and of leading the people towards victory? Or will it insist on following in Hitler’s footprints by levying taxes, legislating harsh laws, and taking increased security measures – [which] will lead the people to the brink of disaster and cause it to deteriorate for many years, even decades, has happened to Nazi Germany?

Now I grant that the rationale behind the comparison of Nazi Germany to Hamas-controlled Arab is not the one I would have made.

Hamas seeks the annihilation of the Jewish state of Israel, and I think that pretty much says it all. Not to mention the fact that we could loosely trace Hamas’ ideology to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, one of Hitler’s close allies.

But given the comparison of Hamas to the Nazis, one wonders what ESPN would say.

In the case of current ESPN anchor and former pitching great Curt Schilling, he might have had a more compelling case than this Palestinian author, and his comment was far less pointed.

The image Schilling tweeted, deleted and paid for — with ESPN canceling his telecast assignment for the Little League World Series — made the comparison of Islamic supremacists to Nazis.

(Image Source: Twitter)

(Image Source: Twitter)

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Hamas Lawyers Up With the Help of the Red Cross While Israel Unilaterally Disarms

Michael Freund has the details in the Jerusalem Post:

This past Sunday, The New York Times ran a story encapsulating all that is wrong with the Western world’s approach to extremist Islamic fundamentalism.

In a report appearing in its first section, the paper revealed a startling bit of news: “Red Cross offers workshops in international law to Hamas.”

That’s right. The global institution, which claims that it works “to prevent suffering by promoting and strengthening humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles,” is busying conducting seminars for terrorists in Gaza on how they can be, umm, more humanitarian when attacking Israel.

What’s next? Teaching table manners to the Taliban? The Times article goes on to describe the three-day seminar that the Red Cross conducted for Hamas last month. It included role-playing and case studies, noting that “one exercise involved an armed group firing on an invading tank from the garden of a civilian home near a hospital.” How educational! Mamadou Sow, head of Red Cross operations in Gaza, breezily noted to the Times that earlier this year, when he presented Hamas leadership with a critique of their conduct during last summer’s Gaza war, they “welcomed it” and “indicated that they are a learning organization.”

The article does not indicate whether Sow was able to maintain a straight face while uttering such inanity.

But lest you suspect that Hamas’ indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets at Israel may indicate that it is somewhat indifferent to the value of human life, Red Cross leaders went out of their way to stress that “they have seen an increasing commitment from Hamas leaders and linemen alike” to respect international humanitarian law.

“For the first time,” said Jacques de Maio, Red Cross director for Israel and the Palestinian territories, “Hamas is actually, in a private, protected space, expressing a readiness to look critically at a number of things that have an impact on their level of respect for international humanitarian law.”

Curiously, de Maio made no mention of the two Israelis Hamas is believed to be holding captive, Avraham Mengistu and an unnamed Beduin, or of the organization’s refusal to take responsibility for their fates. So much for their “respect for international humanitarian law.”

The gathering was one of six such workshops organized by the Red Cross for Hamas’ Kassam Brigades this year, in addition to two more for other, unnamed terrorist groups.

These are the kinds of stories you get in a fundamentally sick society of dupes, useful idiots and worse.

Perhaps the Red Cross’ legal aid for Hamas is something our federal government should look into, on top of the organization’s failed efforts to stymie a Government Accountability Office (GAO) inquiry into its activities, the subject of a recent report from ProPublica:

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Obama’s Progressivism Requires A Zionistrein Democratic Party

Over at Commentary, Jonathan Tobin has a highly perceptive piece on the broader impact of the Obama administration’s scalping of the always outspoken though recently microphone-shy Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

Here is how Tobin explains the Democrats’ visceral emotional reaction to opposition to the Iran deal:

One simple answer might be that it is merely a function of the president’s vindictive nature. It’s no secret that this is a leader who runs a top-down administration that does not encourage vibrant debate within its ranks. Obama is notoriously thin-skinned and seems to take criticism or opposition even more personally than most of its predecessors.

But that only goes so far in explaining why Obama is not respecting Schumer’s need to stay within the pro-Israel fold. After spending years covering for the president’s efforts to pick fights with the Jewish state by claiming that he will always be the guardian (shomer in Hebrew) of the U.S.-Israel alliance, you’d think Schumer was entitled to be cut some slack on Iran.

But that is not what is happening. The White House isn’t content to merely whip Democrats on the issue in an effort to obtain the one-third-plus-one votes they need to sustain a veto of a resolution of disapproval for the Iran deal. Instead, they are sending a rather pointed message to the pro-Israel community that no one, not even a good Democratic soldier and future leader like Schumer, can get away with crossing the president when it comes to his plans for détente with Iran.

Rather than merely another Obama tantrum at the chutzpah of critics, the singling out of Schumer seems to be the beginning of an effort to rid the Democratic leadership of a staunch pro-Israel figure. If we assume, as perhaps we should that the Iran deal will not be stopped, the White House may have already skipped ahead to fighting future battles with Israel over what will happen once the pact is put into effect. Obama has already done his best to isolate Israel and its government and to brand opponents of Iran détente as either mindless GOP partisans or guilty of dual loyalty to Israel. The logical next step is to ensure that no one like Schumer becomes Democratic leader, or at least to inflict the sort of beating on him that will ensure that no many members of his party ever challenge his effort to create daylight with Israel again. The attacks on Democratic opponents of the deal illustrate the depths to which the administration is prepared to sink to win this fight. But it also reflects its desire to downgrade the alliance with the Jewish state and start chipping away at the heretofore solid and bipartisan pro-Israel consensus.

The progressive movement that has overtaken the Democratic Party gains its moral authority in a morally relativistic world in part based on its support of the “oppressed” over the “oppressor.” As Joshua Muravchik ably argues in his Making David Into Goliath, in this construct, Israel has morphed into the
oppressor, swapping roles with the Muslim countries that have wished to destroy her from the time of her founding.

The Leftist-Jihadist nexus of which Andy McCarthy writes, on display from elite college campuses to the president’s cabinet, is perhaps stronger than it has ever been. It believes in punishing the ultimate oppressor, the decadent Judeo-Christian West, by redistributing power to its enemies, including notably Islamic supremacists. The Iran deal under such a formulation is the quintessential example of global social justice.

While many bury their heads in the sand, in its efforts to delegitimize Israel — the West’s first line of defense against those who wish to destroy it — and strengthen its enemies, the Leftist-Jihadist nexus shows that the distinction it makes between anti-Zionism and Jew-hatred is without a difference.

The natural endpoint of all of this, which Tobin hints at, is that the progressive Democratic Party must be Zionistrein. The proof is in the pudding of the Obama era.

#RockThrowerLivesMatter: An Onion-Worthy LA Times Ferguson Tweet Befitting of the Age of Trigger Warnings

That old saying about sticks and stones breaking bones but words never harming us has effectively been turned on its head in Post-America.

Stated differently, tweets like the above are the natural outgrowth of a culture in which hypothetical threats like global warming or The Great Books are treated as existential, while actual threats to life and limb like say a nuclearized Iran or armed protestors are either ignored or whitewashed if they do not serve a political narrative.

Exit question: Will we see this tweet from the LA Times in the future? “Hundreds arrested in Gaza raid, but no violence other than thousands of rockets lobbed at Israelis?”

H/T: Instapundit.

 

Featured Image Source: REUTERS/Rick Wilking.

Apropos John Kerry’s ‘Emotional’ Jews, the Holocaust and Iran

Matti Friedman, he of some truly exceptional reporting on blatant anti-Israel bias in the media, has written a book review highly relevant in a time in which those who oppose President Obama’s Iran Deal are derided as “emotional” by the likes of Secretary of State John Kerry and others.

Describing Padraig O’Malley’s theories about Israeli Jews in The Two State Delusion, Friedman writes:

The “bonding, primal element” of the Jewish psyche, we learn, is the Holocaust. Israelis are in thrall to weapons because of the Holocaust; they are obtuse to the suffering of others because of the Holocaust; and in general they are sort of crazy because of the Holocaust. Actually, half of the Jewish population in Israel has roots in the Islamic world. Their families were displaced by Muslims, not Nazis. Israelis think many of their neighbors are out to destroy Israel not because of the Holocaust, but because many of their neighbors say they are out to destroy Israel. Israel’s actions in the Middle East, in other words, have to do with its experience in the Middle East. The country’s objective success against long odds would have to indicate that at least some of its decisions have been reality-based, if not quite reasonable.

The idea that a collective memory renders Jewish judgment defective seems to be something acceptable to say aloud these days in connection with Israel, which is why I’ve dwelled on it. It’s important to point out not only that this observation is wrong, but that it is a patronizing ethnic smear. I don’t like the careless generalizations in Mr. O’Malley’s book or his shaky grasp of the facts. But I don’t think they have anything to do with the potato famine.

One would expect an exercise in conflict resolution to end with a few suggestions on resolving the conflict. Friends of the author who read the manuscript shared this expectation, we learn, and wondered about the absence of constructive ideas. If not two states then what? “But why should I be so presumptuous as to dare provide a vision for people who refuse to provide one for themselves, not just in the here and now, but in the future too?” he replies. “For people who have no faith in the possible? Who themselves believe the conflict will take generations to resolve? Who are content to live their hatreds? Who are so resolutely opposed to the slightest gesture of accommodation? Who revel in their mutual pettiness?”

On behalf of my Holocaust-addled, Uzi-wielding countrymen and—if I may—on behalf of our intellectually depleted neighbors, I would like to express gratitude for being led to common ground: our mutual pettiness.

“The Two-State Delusion” illustrates a strange aspect of our current intellectual moment: At a time when the Middle East has achieved a truly surreal level of awfulness, many in the West have become even more acutely fixated on the Jewish minority enclave in one corner of the region. The death toll in Syria alone in four years is more than double the Israel-Arab death toll in a century. That being the case, it should be clear that believing Israel’s conflict to be the most important in the Middle East is, and always has been, a delusion—one that unconsciously underpins this treatise about the delusions of others.

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