February 18/17

Compiled & Prepared by: Elias Bejjani

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Bible Quotations For Today
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Matthew 05/38-48/:"‘You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. ‘You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy."But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing for that would be harmful to you
Letter to the Hebrews 13/17-25./:"Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with sighing for that would be harmful to you. Pray for us; we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honourably in all things. I urge you all the more to do this, so that I may be restored to you very soon. Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen. I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, bear with my word of exhortation, for I have written to you briefly. I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been set free; and if he comes in time, he will be with me when I see you. Greet all your leaders and all the saints. Those from Italy send you greetings. Grace be with all of you."

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 17-18/17
Linda Sarsour, the Left’s latest star/By: Daniel Pipes/Jerusalem Post/February 17, 2017
Trump: Palestinians Must Earn a Two State Solution/Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/February 17/17
Scandinavia: The West's Citadel of anti-Semitism/Giulio Meotti//Gatestone Institute/February 17/17
The erosion of political practices in Iraq/Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/February 17/17
The revolt of radical European Muslims against their parents/Samar Fatany/Al Arabiya/February 17/17
Future of Palestine in the changing world order/Fawaz Turki/Al Arabiya/February 17/17/
Did Trump offer Putin sanctions relief/Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/February 17/17
Trump and the territories/Ophir Falk/Ynetnews/February 17/17

Titles For Latest Lebanese Related News published on February 17-18/17
Director of Plitical Affairs at Foreign Ministry Meets Kaag after
Aoun blames social media for killing the press, vows support
President Aoun enacts 32 laws approved by Parliament
Hariri Urges Preserving Ties with Gulf, Respecting 1701 as Cabinet Discusses Budget
Mustaqbal: Nasrallah's Stances Deal Strong Blow to Aoun's Initiatives towards Gulf States
Unidentified assailants open fire on passenger van in Arsal, no casualties
Govt. Offers Reward for Information on IS-Held Troops
U.S. Embassy Denies 'Fake News' on Visa Rule Changes
False Bomb Alert Aboard MEA Plane
Tueni: Passing the Wage Scale Depends on Revenues
Mock Bomb Raises Panic in North Lebanon
Qahwaji Vows to Safeguard New Presidential Tenure, Protect Parliamentary Vote
Shorter Urges Greater Representation For Women in Politics
British Interior Minister Calls for Electoral Law Acceptable to all Parties

Titles For Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published on February 17-18/17
Ontario court orders Iran to pay $300,000 in legal costs of victims of terrorist attacks
Lieberman to Mattis: 'Iran, Iran and Iran'
Liberman to present with Iranian, Saudi ministers at security conference
Trump in weekly address reaffirms bond with 'cherished ally Israel'
Ex-Admiral Turns Down US National Security Advisor Job
US Under Pressure on Syria Stance ahead of Geneva Talks
Trump to unveil overhauled immigration order next week
We ‘absolutely’ support two-state solution: US ambassador to UN
Several wounded in blast in southeastern Turkish town
Erdogan to Al Arabiya: We will eradicate terrorism with GCC support
Turkey clearing Syria’s al-Bab of remaining ISIS militants
Egypt Air flight detours after bird gashes front glass An)
US used depleted uranium rounds in anti-ISIS air strikes: military
Iran: Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Activities Crippled If Named a Terrorist Group
United States Should Cut off Iranian Regime's Fingertips (IRGC) in the Region
14-Year-Old Girl Beaten and Detained for 'Wearing Jeans' by Iran's Morality Police
MEK Plays Leading Role in Exposing Iranian Regime's Regional Conduct

Links From Jihad Watch Site for February 17-18/17
Germany: Muslim mob threatens cops as they arrest Muslim who threatened to behead shopkeepers
Leftist “historians” rate worst-ever US president Obama as 12th best
Champagne time: it’s a “bloodbath” at the State Department
Farage: They’re not refugees, they’re economic migrants
Travesty: Muslim who aided San Bernardino jihad massacre gets only 25 years
Trump Upsets the Academic Foreign Policy Establishment
UK imam: “Allah has given us this country and every knee will bow at the name of Allah”
Fake hate crime in Ohio: Muslim charged with painting anti-Arab graffiti
Pakistani army supporting anti-India jihadist groups
Raymond Ibrahim: Trump to American Muslims — Become Christian, Pay Jizya, or Die?

Links From Christian Today Site for February 17-18/17
Vatican Embassy Opened By Palestinians As Part Of Statehood Bid
Tory MP: Some Conservative Anglicans Are The Same As ISIS
Could This Be The End For Britain's Ugliest Cathedral?
'I Just Grabbed God...' Musician And Anglican Priest Peter Skellern Dies Aged 69
Christian Florist Barronelle Stutzman Loses Appeal Against Discrimination Conviction
Egyptian Christian Gunned Down By Suspected ISIS Militants
Has Trump Killed The Two-State Solution For Israel-Palestine – And What Are The Alternatives?
What About The Rights Of The Gay Christians Who Choose Celibacy?
How The Fight For Religious Liberty Is Harming Christian Witness
Memo To Bewildered Bishops - Please Be Shepherds, Not Sheep

Latest Lebanese Related News published on February 17-18/17
Director of Plitical Affairs at Foreign Ministry Meets Kaag after Tweet

Naharnet/February 17/17/Director of Political and Consular Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, Ambassador Charbel Wehbe, held a meeting with UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag on Thursday after the latter's tweets replying to comments made by President Michel Aoun about Hizbullah's arms. During the meeting, Wehbe stressed the necessity to comply with the provisions of the Vienna Convention in respect to what applies to accredited diplomats, the state-run National News Agency said. He emphasized Lebanon's full respect for international legitimacy as stated in the ministerial statement, and its commitment to the full implementation of UN 1701 resolution, without selectivity or discrimination, added NNA. Wehbe focused on “the daily Israeli violations against this decision since 2006 until today, which exceeded 11 thousand breaches, and Israel's continued occupation of Lebanese territory.” The Ambassador hoped that “Kaag would pay due attention to these violations against Lebanon's sovereignty in her report to the Secretary-General and to the Security Council, given that the Israeli acts of aggression represent a permanent threat to Lebanon's sovereignty and totally hinder the implementation of resolution 1701.”Replying to comments made by Aoun about Hizbullah's arms, Kaag said in a tweet on Monday that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 calls for the "disarmament of all armed groups."Kaag's tweet came two days after Aoun told Egypt's CBC TV that Hizbullah's weapons "do not contradict with the State."Reacting to Kaag's tweets, Arab Tawhid Party chief ex-minister Wiam Wahhab had also urged Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil to “summon” Kaag to the ministry to protest remarks he described as “insulting to the dignity of all Lebanese.”

Aoun blames social media for killing the press, vows support
The Daily Star/February 17/17/BEIRUT: President Michel Aoun said Thursday that the turmoil facing the Lebanese media sector was to be expected given new technologies, during a meeting with a visiting delegation from the National Audiovisual Media Council headed by Abdel-Hadi Mahfouz. “The advance and development of social media made things difficult for the written and print sector,” Aoun said. He added that “the development of technology has allowed print media to come to our homes.” Aoun expressed his support for media outlets facing financial crises that have left employees without pay for months. “Journalism is a part of the Lebanese society that was affected by the economy and its weak financial situation,” Aoun said. However, he vowed renewed support for the industry, echoing recent comments by both the current and former information ministers. “We will look to help after making trips abroad, which should positively help the sector,” Aoun said, suggesting that foreign nations may assist Lebanon’s media sector. Mahfouz renewed the call for more help for print media. “The written media sector is not in a good situation,” he said. “Political issues negatively affect it at times ... but freedom of the press is the demand.”He said that respect and freedom for journalists were paramount, while also calling for reporters to respect the general public. Mahfouz added that there must be legal protection of the freedom of press to end the current chaotic media situation. Aoun and Mahfouz’s meeting comes after fresh clashes between political supporters and the media. Hundreds of Amal Movement supporters rallied in front of Al-Jadeed TV’s headquarters in Hadath Tuesday night, throwing stones and fireworks at the building and damaging windows and offices after the station aired a skit protesters deemed offensive to Amal supporters. The political movement headed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has not issued an official statement over the matter. Al-Jadeed responded by taking the case to court and filing a lawsuit against the supporters. The station’s vice chair and news director Karma al-Khayat denied the station had insulted Amal Movement founder Imam Musa Sadr, saying that “what they [protesters] did was an insult to Sadr, who was the No. 1 advocate for the freedom of press.” Information Minister Melhem Riachi has promised to draft an integrated subsidy plan to support the media, but no concrete measures have yet been taken. Prominent newspaper As-Safir announced on Dec. 10, 2016, that it would be closing at the end of the year, after 42 years of publication. With its reputation for press freedom, Lebanon has long been an influential player in media in the region.

President Aoun enacts 32 laws approved by Parliament
Fri 17 Feb 2017/NNA - President of the Republic, Michel Aoun, promulgated on Friday 32 laws approved by the Parliament during the legislative sessions within the framework of the regulation of the work of constitutional institutions. Specialized departments of the Presidency are examining other laws referred to them so that the President takes the appropriate decisions according to his prerogatives. President Aoun confirmed to his visitors that he attached great importance to the demands related to the development and needs of municipalities. Aoun respectively met with Head of Maronite Meryamite Order, Father Boutros Torbay, a delegation from the National Union of Workers and Employees' Unions in Lebanon, another from the Order of Professional Artists, and the Committee of Central Municipalities in Lebanon. On another level, Aoun discussed with MP Emile Rahme contacts made for the realization of a new electoral law.

Hariri Urges Preserving Ties with Gulf, Respecting 1701 as Cabinet Discusses Budget
Naharnet /February 17/17/Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday called for preserving Lebanon's ties with Gulf countries and for respecting international resolutions, especially U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701. “Lebanon's immunity is preserved through its excellent relations with the Arab world, topped by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which President Michel Aoun has rightfully described as the leader of the confrontation against terrorism and extremism,” Hariri said at the beginning of a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail. “Lebanon is to be protected through the consensus we're living and the embracement of the state and its institutions,” the PM added. Hariri's remarks come a day after Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah accused Saudi forces of “oppressing and killing the Bahraini people” as he slammed Bahrain's government over its crackdown on Shiite-led dissent. Nasrallah also blasted Saudi Arabia and the UAE over their military campaign in Yemen against Iran-backed rebels. “We stress the need to safeguard the special ties with the brotherly countries, especially with the Arab Gulf states, including the UAE which hosts tens of thousands of Lebanese citizens,” Hariri said. “Lebanon and the Lebanese should also be protected from foreign threats through the policy of the president and government which is based on respecting international treaties and resolutions, topped by Resolution 1701,” the premier went on to say. Aoun had recently stirred controversy by announcing that Hizbullah's weapons “do not contradict with the State.” As for the issue of the draft state budget, which is the focus of the Cabinet's latest sessions, Industry Minister Hussein al-Hajj Hassan said the Cabinet is supposed to discuss the state budget “item by item” during Friday's session. “We must seek a new taxation system that is based on the progressive tax system,” Hajj Hassan added.

Mustaqbal: Nasrallah's Stances Deal Strong Blow to Aoun's Initiatives towards Gulf States
Naharnet /February 17/17/Al-Mustaqbal Movement on Friday called on President Michel Aoun to address Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah's latest verbal attacks against some Gulf countries, describing them as a “strong blow” to Aoun's efforts to mend ties with the Gulf. “Through his attacks on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain, Hizbullah's secretary-general has dealt a strong blow to President Michel Aoun's efforts and to the visits that he intends to make to Kuwait and the UAE after he had visited Riyadh, Doha, Cairo and Amman,” Mustaqbal said in a statement. “It is clear that Hizbullah is extremely annoyed by KSA and its role in defending Arab rights, and it is much clearer that it is annoyed by the kingdom and its wise leadership's embracement of the new presidential tenure and its recurrent attempts to reconcile between the Lebanese,” the movement added. And noting that the president “is keen on the best relations with KSA,” Mustaqbal called on Aoun to “address Nasrallah's stances” which it described as an “insult to the oath of office” of the president. Nasrallah had on Thursday accused Saudi forces of “oppressing and killing the Bahraini people” as he slammed Bahrain's government over its crackdown on Shiite-led dissent. He also blasted Saudi Arabia and the UAE over their military campaign in Yemen against Iran-backed rebels.

Unidentified assailants open fire on passenger van in Arsal, no casualties
Fri 17 Feb 2017/NNA - Unidentified assailants opened fire on a passenger van in the town of Arsal, inflicting material damage to van but no casualties reported, NNA correspondent said on Friday. The van belongs to a person from the family name of Hujairi.

Govt. Offers Reward for Information on IS-Held Troops
Naharnet /February 17/17/The council of ministers decided during its session on Friday to offer a reward for information leading to unveiling the fate of nine Lebanese soldiers held hostage by the Islamic State group since 2014. “Based on a suggestion from the president and the prime minister, and in coordination with the Army Command, the Cabinet decided to offer $250,000 to anyone who offers information leading to unveiling the fate of the captive Lebanese soldiers,” a Cabinet statement recited by Culture Minister Ghattas Khoury said. The fate of the nine servicemen has been shrouded with mystery for several months now and their families are demanding to know whether their sons are alive or dead. The nine troops were among more than 30 servicemen who were abducted during the deadly 2014 battle between jihadists and the Lebanese army in and around the northeastern border town of Arsal. While al-Nusra Front has released 16 captives as part of a swap deal with Lebanese authorities in December 2015, nine hostages remain in the captivity of the IS group and Lebanese officials have vowed to exert efforts to secure their release.

U.S. Embassy Denies 'Fake News' on Visa Rule Changes
Naharnet /February 17/17/Reports of new countries being added to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP), including Lebanon, are “false,” the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon said on Friday. “No new countries have been added, and Lebanon is not currently part of the Visa Waiver Program,” the Embassy said in a statement. It warned against “opening any emails, opening links or emails, or responding to any email or announcement purporting to have information about changes or additions.”“The full list of countries whose citizens or nationals are currently eligible for the VWP is available at (full link:,” the Embassy added. It also reminded that the U.S. Department of State is “committed to facilitating legitimate travel to the United States for qualified individuals, through a transparent and efficient visa application process,” encouraging visa applicants to “visit for more information about U.S. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries who meet certain requirements to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa.

False Bomb Alert Aboard MEA Plane
Naharnet /February 17/17/A bomb threat on Friday on a Greece-bound airplane that flew from the Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut and landed in Athens Airport turned out to be fake alarm. An anonymous call was made earlier on Friday giving Athens airport's air traffic control tower a false alarm about a bomb planted aboard a plane belonging to Middle East Airlines (MEA), the National News Agency reported. The plane was thoroughly searched and no bomb was found, NNA added. General Director of Civil Aviation, Mohammed Chehab told VDL (100.5) : “Information circulating on media outlets about the evacuation of a MEA airplane at Athens airports were untrue.”

Tueni: Passing the Wage Scale Depends on Revenues
Naharnet /February 17/17/State Minister for Combating Corruption Nicolas Tueni said on Friday that the approval of the longtime thorny wage scale for the public sector would be an achievement for the new term of President Michel Aoun, but stressed that its ratification is linked to finding the needed revenues to cover its expenses. “Endorsing the wage scale is an achievement for (President's) mandate and for Lebanon, but the matter is linked to finding the revenues to cover it. It is being discussed in cabinet,” Tueni told VDL (93.3). Referring to the government sessions dedicated to discussing the state's annual budget, amid reports that additional taxes could be imposed to cover it he said: “the cabinet's endeavors are not to tamper with limited income and middle class individuals to cover the required public budget revenues. “Increments will majorly affect large companies and depositors,” he added.

Mock Bomb Raises Panic in North Lebanon
Naharnet /February 17/17/Suspicions arose early on Friday after an improvised bomb placed inside an old car tire was found in the northern al-Beddawi area in Tripoli, the state-run National News Agency reported. The device, which turned out to be a mock bomb, was discovered near Salaheddine Mosque in al-Beddawi, NNA added. The security forces cordoned off the area and blocked the street and called for an explosives expert who inspected the device and found it be fake. The unknown culprits had tied two glass bottles with an adhesive tape to make it look like a bomb. Friday's scare is the second in two days after a similar mock bomb was found Thursday afternoon in the official school compound in the town and the perpetrator was arrested.

Qahwaji Vows to Safeguard New Presidential Tenure, Protect Parliamentary Vote
Naharnet /February 17/17/Army Commander General Jean Qahwaji on Friday pledged to safeguard the presidential tenure of President Michel Aoun and to protect the upcoming parliamentary elections. “The army units' top missions for the coming period are defending the country against the Israeli enemy's threats, combating terrorism and preserving security and stability in the country,” Qahwaji said during a meeting the army's top officers. “The election of General Michel Aoun as President, the formation of a government and the resumption of parliament's legislative role have led to boosting stability in the country,” Qahwaji noted. He also vowed that “the army will exert the utmost security efforts to safeguard the presidential tenure and achieve its aspirations, especially in terms of protecting the upcoming parliamentary elections.”

Shorter Urges Greater Representation For Women in Politics
Naharnet /February 17/17/Ambassador Hugo Shorter hailed Lebanese women seeking to take up a political role, in a speech addressing successful women from all walks of life, who are making an impact in their field, motivating and inspiring people around them, a press release on Friday said.
In the speech which Shorter delivered at a reception he hosted on the theme of ‘Women in Politics’, he noted the importance of women seeking to take up a bigger role in Lebanese political life just as much as they are excelling in other fields. Ambassador Shorter said:
‘Almost 18 months into my time in Lebanon I continue to be amazed by the way politics seems to be a different world as far as women’s participation goes. There are so many women leading the way in business, civil society, journalism and more, and yet in politics they are notably absent. No society can reach its full potential when half the population is not able to participate fully in public life. And tonight, what we mean by this is women in government, and women in parliament.’Ambassador Shorter urged Lebanese political parties and politicians to include women on their lists, welcoming Speaker Nabih Berri and PM Saad Hariri’s official declarations of support for women’s quota. He said: “Politicians and parties are the ones who have the power – and the responsibility - to put women on their lists, quota or no quota. Because a quota on seats is one powerful way to improve women’s representation, but it is not the only way. And quota or no quota, I hope that we will see more women in the next parliament and the next cabinet – including, who knows, women in this room this evening.”Concluding his speech Shorter said: “With the deadline to declare elections fast approaching, the British Embassy is ready to support women trying to enter politics – without picking sides in the political debate, or between political parties - to overcome the many and real obstacles that they face. Some of the ways we will do this is by pairing with the National Democratic Institute to offer skills training for candidates; another is through our support to Women in Front’’.In her speech, Ms Nada Anid - Co-Founder of Women in Front- spoke about the upcoming parliamentary elections and the need for strong advocacy and lobbying to convince parliament to vote for a women’s quota, hoping to see at least 30% of women MP’s in the next parliament.

British Interior Minister Calls for Electoral Law Acceptable to all Parties
Naharnet /February 17/17/British Interior Minister, Amber Rudd stressed Lebanon's need to stage the parliamentary elections on time, on the basis of an electoral law that meets approval of all Lebanese parties, the National News Agency reported on Friday.“It is encouraging to conduct the parliamentary elections this year in Lebanon. We hope the efforts succeed at finding a new electoral law acceptable to all sides,” Rudd said in a message to her Lebanese counterpart Nouhad al-Mashnouq. She stressed the UK's “commitment to security and stability in Lebanon and its continued support of the Internal Security Forces and their endeavors to confront challenges.”Rudd thanked Mashnouq, the cabinet and the airport security chief Brig. Gen. George Doumit for improving the security level at Beirut's airport. “Britain will continue to support your efforts to address the security challenges at the airport and ensure the aviation's safety,” she concluded.

Latest LCCC Bulletin For Miscellaneous Reports And News published February 17-18/17
Ontario court orders Iran to pay $300,000 in legal costs of victims of terrorist attacks
Stewart Bell/National Post/ February 17, 2017
TORONTO — The Ontario court has ordered the government of Iran to pay the legal costs of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorist attacks, dismissing the Islamic Republic’s claim to immunity. Justice Glenn Hainey ruled that Iran would have to pay the $300,000 legal bills of the victims, who had sought compensation in the Ontario court under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. The ruling is the latest loss in civil court for Iran, which was ordered last June to hand over millions worth of non-diplomatic assets in Canada to three groups of victims of Iranian-backed terrorism. In that case, Iran ignored the legal proceedings until the victims had already won judgments. It then tried to have the judgments set aside on the grounds it enjoyed state and diplomatic immunity. But Justice Hainey ruled against Iran, and did so again in awarding costs. “I see no reason to deprive the plaintiffs of their entitlement to costs of successfully defending these motions,” the Superior Court judge wrote. He said the factors he had considered in deciding whether the fees were reasonable included the fact the victims were claiming $1.7-billion, meaning Iran was trying to set aside “substantial judgments.” The case also involved “complex and important issues that had not been previously decided,” and he said he was satisfied the work of the victims’ lawyers had been done in a “cost-effective manner.”Iran has 30 days to pay. The ruling was dated Feb. 8. Enacted five years ago, the JVTA stripped immunity from regimes that sponsor terrorist groups, allowing victims to collect civil damages in Canadian courts. It has been used by victims of Hamas and Hezbollah, which are armed and bankrolled by Iran. The Iranian regime has signalled it wants the Liberal government to repeal the law and overturn the Ontario court ruling as a precondition to re-establishing diplomatic relations. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the 2015 election campaign he would restore ties with Iran, which were severed by the Conservatives in 2012

Lieberman to Mattis: 'Iran, Iran and Iran'
Ynetnews/Yoav Zitun|/February 17/17/Meeting in Munich, the Israeli defense minister and his American counterpart discuss security issues related to shared Israeli and American interests. Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman met with his American counterpart in Munich on Friday morning for the first time since former Gen. James Mattis assumed the role of secretary of defense. The two said that they intended to maintain open and frank dialogue and to cooperate to strengthen Israel's security and to preserve US interest in the region. During the meeting, the men discussed a series of matter, but Iran was first and foremost among them. The Israeli minister even stated that the three central problems that need to be dealt with were "Iran, Iran and Iran."He added that a real and effective coalition needed to be built to deal with the terrorist that the Islamic Republic was spreading throughout the world. This includes missile development and Iran's working towards a nuclear weapon. Lieberman said that North Korea and Iran are the two poles of the axis of evil that includes Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Syria, with Iran being the common thread, apparently mixing his metaphors. The secretary and the minister agreed that they must act decisively against Iran. During their meeting, they also discussed additional security issues related to developments in the Middle East and ways to strengthen cooperation between the US and Israel in dealing with them. They concluded that the two countries are true allies, and they agreed to meet again soon.

Liberman to present with Iranian, Saudi ministers at security conference
ByJPOST.COM STAFF/February 17, 2017/The session, titled "Old crises, new Middle East," is to be held on Sunday morning. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman will share the stage with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir at the annual Munich Security Conference, according to Israeli Radio. The presentation was announced Friday despite the fact that Israel currently does not have diplomatic relations with Iran or Saudi Arabia. Israel's connection with Iran is a hostile one, and Israel has an informal connection with Saudi Arabia due to their shared interests on the issue of Iran. The session, titled "Old crises, new Middle East," is to be held on Sunday morning. The Turkish foreign minister will also be in attendance. Liberman's office said that the presentation will not include discussion or interaction between the individuals on the panel, as they are each to speak one at a time. The BBC's Lyse Doucet will moderate. The Munich Security Conference is held every year and hosts heads of state, foreign ministers, and defense ministers from around the globe.

Trump in weekly address reaffirms bond with 'cherished ally Israel'
Ynetnews/February 17/17/ 'It was an honor to welcome my friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House,' says US President Trump in his weekly address to the American people, following Wednesday's meeting with PM Netanyahu. 'I affirmed to the prime minister America's commitment to working with Israel and our allies and partners toward greater security and stability.' US President Donald Trump referred to his meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his weekly address on Friday. "The United States also reaffirmed our unbreakable bond this week, with our cherished ally Israel. It was an honor to welcome my friend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House. I affirmed to the prime minister America's commitment to working with Israel and our allies and partners toward greater security and stability," said Trump to the American people during the address. "The threat of terrorism—and believe me, it is a threat—must be confronted and defeated, and we will defeat it. We share with Israel a deep conviction that we must protect all innocent human life."During their joint press conference on Wednesday, Trump mentioned Israel's building in the West bank. "I'd like to see you pull back on settlements for a little bit," Trump told Netanyahu. The Israeli leader later insisted that Jewish settlements were "not the core of the conflict" and made no commitment to reduce settlement Netanyahu, for his part, said during the press conferrence that there is "no greater supporter of the Jewish people and the Jewish state than President Donald Trump." The prime minister was addressing a question from Israeli media about fears the administration "is playing with xenophobia and maybe racist tones."

Ex-Admiral Turns Down US National Security Advisor Job
Agence France Presse/Naharnet /February 17/17/A former navy admiral reportedly tapped by President Donald Trump to be his national security adviser has declined the post, US media said on Thursday. Robert Harward's rejection leaves President Donald Trump without a replacement for retired general Michael Flynn, who resigned over a scandal involving his links with the Russian ambassador in Washington. Officially Harward said he had turned down the job because of family and financial commitments. However several US media outlets, including CNN and Politico, reported late Thursday that Harward was unhappy because he had no guarantees that the National Security Council -- and not Trump's political advisors -- would be in charge of policy, In a statement read on CNN, Harward said he had turned down the job because he "could not make that commitment."
"This job requires 24 hours a day, seven days a week focus and commitment to do it right. I currently could not make that commitment," the statement read. He added that since retiring he's had a chance "to address financial and family issues that would have been challenging in this position." An unnamed Harward friend told CNN he refused the job because of the chaos at the White House, while the Washington Post said it was in part because he would not be able to choose his own staff. - Man of action -Harward, 60, spent much of his career in the Navy SEALs, the tough special warfare units, and commanded SEAL Team 3, which specializes in operations in the Middle East.During his career Harward also worked closely with retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, the current defense secretary. He led Special Warfare task groups in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq beginning in 2002. A year later, he was in the White House of President George W. Bush as part of the National Security Council, and in 2005 moved to the new National Counterterrorism Center. After a tour in Afghanistan, from 2011 to his retirement in 2013 he was deputy commander of US Central Command - in charge of US military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan. After retiring Harward became a representative of defense contractor Lockheed Martin in the United Arab Emirates and made appearances as a military expert for the ABC television network.The shaven-head tough guy, who spent his teenage years in Iran in the 1970s and speaks Farsi, was widely seen as a steadying presence after the volatile Flynn. Flynn resigned after being implicated in several telephone conversations with the Russian ambassador in Washington before Trump took office. Harward's rejection caps a riotous day for the 70-year-old US president, who earlier Thursday lambasted his critics in the media and in politics in a wide-ranging one hour, 16-minute-long press conference.

US Under Pressure on Syria Stance ahead of Geneva Talks
Agence France Presse/Naharnet /February 17/17/US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday faced a grilling by global peers seeking clarity on Washington's position on the Syria conflict ahead of UN peace talks in Geneva. On the sidelines of a G20 gathering in Germany, Tillerson joined a group of countries supporting the Syrian opposition for talks pushing a political solution to the nearly six-year war. It is the first meeting of the so-called "like-minded" nations -- made up of around a dozen Western and Arab countries as well as Turkey -- since US President Donald Trump took office. Tillerson, on his first diplomatic trip abroad, will face pressure to spell out where Trump stands on the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. "It will be an opportunity to gauge the American position on the political aspect of the Syrian issue," a French diplomatic source told AFP. The meeting came ahead of a new round of United Nations-led talks in Geneva on February 23 involving Syrian regime and rebel representatives. Under Trump's predecessor Barack Obama, Washington insisted Assad had to go, putting it at odds with Moscow which backs the Syrian leader. Trump has called for closer cooperation with Moscow in the fight against the Islamic State jihadist group in Syria, leaving the Assad question open. With Russia's sway in the conflict growing, Moscow has seized the initiative by hosting separate peace talks in Kazakhstan along with Turkey, to broker a fragile six-week truce between Syria's warring parties but making little other progress. "It's essential to know what the US administration has in mind," a European diplomat said ahead of Friday's talks in the German city of Bonn. "Our goal is to make sure to bring the (peace) process back under UN control," the source added. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, host of the G20 meeting, said he wanted the "like-minded" countries to speak as one. "What we need is unity so we can achieve the resumption of negotiations in Geneva between the different interest groups and parties to the Syrian conflict."- 'Reassurance' -Tillerson has used the two-day G20 to meet with a string of foreign counterparts unsure about what Trump's "America First" policy means for the rest of the world. He moved to reassure nervous allies with a cautious approach to Russia, signalling there would be no radical shift despite Trump's pledges to seek a softer line. Speaking after his first sitdown with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday, Tillerson said the US sought cooperation with Moscow only when doing so "will benefit the American people". Tillerson may use the final day of the G20 gathering of the world's leading and developing economies to hold talks with his Chinese counterpart, after Sino-US ties got off to a rocky start under Trump. Trump angered Beijing by questioning the "One China" policy agreed in the 1970s as the basis for what has become one of the most important global relationships. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi only agreed to go to Bonn after a conciliatory phone call between Trump and President Xi Jinping in which the US president backtracked on his earlier comments. After the G20 ends on Friday, the action moves to the high-profile Munich Security Conference where US Vice-President Mike Pence will make his international debut.
"He's going to reassure our allies of our commitment to our European partners and the reassurance for the transatlantic alliance," a senior White House adviser said. In a speech on Saturday, Pence is expected to reassert Washington's commitment to NATO while pressing member states to follow through on pledges to share more of the defense spending burden with Washington.

Trump to unveil overhauled immigration order next week
Reuters, Washington/San Francisco Friday, 17 February 2017/US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will issue a new executive order to replace his controversial directive suspending travel to the United States by citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries. At a White House news conference on Thursday, Trump said the new order would seek to address concerns raised by federal appeals court judges, who temporarily blocked his original travel ban. “The new order is going to be very much tailored to what I consider to be a very bad decision,” Trump said, adding: “We had a bad court.”Trump gave no details about the replacement order. Legal experts said a new directive would have a better chance of withstanding courtroom scrutiny if it covered some non-Muslim countries and exempted non-citizen immigrants living in the US legally.
The original order, issued on Jan. 27, triggered chaos at some US and overseas airports, led to international protests, complaints from US businesses and drew more than a dozen legal challenges. In a court filing on Thursday, the Justice Department asked for a pause in proceedings before the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with a federal court in Washington state to suspend the travel ban, while litigation over its legality according to the US Constitution played out. The Justice Department asked the court to vacate that ruling once the administration has rescinded its original order and issued a new one. In an order later on Thursday, the 9th Circuit put proceedings over the ban on hold but did not say whether it would eventually withdraw its previous ruling. The ban has been deeply divisive in the United States, with a Reuters/Ipsos poll indicating about half of Americans supported it shortly after the order took effect.
Legal uncertainty Trump’s decision to issue a new directive plunges court proceedings over his earlier order into uncertainty. Litigants around the country said they will carefully examine any new policy to see if it raises similar constitutional issues and will continue to pursue legal action if necessary. Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who filed the case that produced the 9th Circuit ruling, claimed victory on Thursday. “Today’s court filing by the federal government recognizes the obvious – the president’s current executive order violates the Constitution,” Ferguson said, in a statement. “President Trump could have sought review of this flawed order in the Supreme Court but declined to face yet another defeat.”Trump has said travel limitations are necessary to protect the United States from attacks by Islamist militants. His original order barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days. Refugees were banned for 120 days, except those from Syria, who were banned indefinitely. Trump said on Thursday that the widely criticized rollout had been “very smooth” and once again blamed the court for “a bad decision.” The Justice Department court filing on Thursday said Trump’s order would be “substantially revised” but provided no more details than the president did at his press conference. Last week an congressional aide who asked not to be identified told Reuters that Trump might rewrite the original order to explicitly exclude green card holders, who have legal permission to live and work in the United States. Stephen Griffin, a professor of constitutional law at Tulane University, said adding non-Muslim countries could also help a new order withstand accusations that it discriminates based on religion. Given that the administration already identified the seven Muslim-majority countries as a threat, he said, it would be unlikely to remove any of those. “I’d speculate they would add to the list, as opposed to walk it back,” he said.

We ‘absolutely’ support two-state solution: US ambassador to UN
AFP, United Nations Friday, 17 February 2017/The United States “absolutely” supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but is thinking of new ways to push for a peace deal, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Thursday. It would be an “error” to say the United States is abandoning its decades-old policy of backing a Palestinian state as part of a final settlement, she told reporters. “We absolutely support a two-state solution, but we are thinking out-of-the-box as well,” Haley said following a Security Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She repeated her statement three times in response to questions from journalists outside the council chamber. The United States wants to help bring the Israelis and Palestinians “at the table to have them talk through this in a fresh way, to say ‘okay we’re going back to the drawing board: what can we agree on?” she said. The council earlier heard the UN envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, insist that the two-state solution remains “the only way” to meet the aspirations of the Palestinians and Israelis. Trump announced Wednesday that the United States would not insist on a two-state solution to the conflict, stepping back from previous US policy and the international consensus on the peace process. Haley accused the United Nations of having an anti-Israel bias. Describing her first council meeting on the Middle East as “a bit strange,” she said there was no mention of rockets fired by Hezbollah militants or the threat from Iran, but that discussions had focused on “criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East.”The US ambassador again described as a “terrible mistake” a council resolution adopted in the final weeks of former president Barack Obama’s administration demanding an end to Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian territory.
Germany: More settlements may end two-state solution
Germany’s foreign minister on Thursday warned that building more Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories could end the prospect of a two-state solution and fuel conflict in the region. “We are concerned that unlimited construction of settlements will ... make a two-state solution impossible and could increase the risks of conflicts in the Middle East, including possible war,” Sigmar Gabriel told reporters, showing Berlin’s growing frustration about settlement activity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. A vote by the Israeli Knesset to “legalize” settlements banned under international law further complicated the situation, Gabriel said during a news conference at a G20 foreign ministers meeting. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters after a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the US position on the Israeli-Palestinian dossier was “very confused and worrying”. Gabriel said Germany would continue to advocate a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling it “the only realistic option to reduce conflict in the region and prevent the emergency of a new war”. Germany’s concerns about settlements have already derailed a meeting planned between the German and Israeli governments in May, with one senior German official saying ties between the two countries had been “completely pared back.”(With Reuters inputs)

Several wounded in blast in southeastern Turkish town
Reuters, Diyarbkir Friday, 17 February 2017/A blast near a building housing judges and prosecutors in Turkey's southeastern town of Viransehir on Friday injured several people, security and hospital sources said. Police and ambulances were sent to the scene in the province of Sanliurfa, bordering Syria. The cause of the blast was not immediately clear.

Erdogan to Al Arabiya: We will eradicate terrorism with GCC support
Al Arabiya English Friday, 17 February 2017/Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes that ISIS is living its final days and the decisive victory in fighting the terrorist organization would happen with the support of GCC countries led by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Erdogan is convinced that ISIS and other international terrorist groups like Boko Haram and Al Qaeda are being aided by some members of the international community. In an interview with Turki AlDakhil that was aired on Al Arabiya on Friday, Erdogan tackled a number of regional and international issues including the Syrian crisis, the war on terror, as well as Turkey’s stance towards the Muslim Brotherhood group.
When asked about the Syrian conflict, Erdogan said that Assad’s regime in Syria has killed nearly one million “innocent people”, as he added that the fight against terror in the region is a continuous process. Erdogan said that Turkey – as discussed with Saudi and European officials - will continue aiding the anti-Assad local forces with the needed training. He added that his country currently hosts 2.8 million Syrian refugees, adding that a safe and no-fly zone should be established between Jarabulus and Al-Rai to provide a safe haven for more refugees. He added "the Relationship between Russia and Turkey may worry some, maintaining friendly relationship between the two countries is very important for the future of the region and its stability."
Muslim Brotherhood
According to Erdogan, the Brotherhood is an ideological group rather than a militant one, adding that he will not blacklist the group’s member unless they have resorted to armed and violent activities. “I have not seen any armed acts [by the Muslim Brotherhood], and if I do see any militant activities by the group, my stance towards it will be the same as that against terrorist organizations,” Erdogan said. “We have many ideological groups and organizations of thought that function freely,” he added.
Failed coup
Erdogan said that the failed coup attempt Turkey faced was plotted by a terrorist organization that is headed by Turkish dissident Abdullah Gulen, who may have played a part in downing a Russian fighter jet in order to harm Turkey’s solid ties with the Russian Federation.“We faced a terrorist group of the highest level. But thank God we managed to beat this failed coup attempt. We lost 248 martyrs in the process,” he said. "We were able, by the good grace of God, and the sincere support of the people, to foil the coup attempt, many martyrs sacrificed their souls for the good of the homeland. We were facing a new virtual terrorist organization with unusual and different technics; this terrorist organization has been premeditating for 40 years and then suddenly emerged. The leader of this organization went to the United States where he ran the activities of his cell. The organization is active in 170 countries in the world via endowments, education, trade and others." he added. Erdogan said that he does not consider secularism to be against religion, but it is rather a system that maintains the freedom of practice for all religions and beliefs. “It is not right to consider secularism as a form of imposing [certain] opinion on religious people,” he said. "Individuals cannot be secular; having a secular state is an important step. #secularism means being tolerant to all faiths, the state is neutral in matters of religions and stands from the same distance towards all religions and beliefs. Is this un-Islamic? Or does it not contradict with Islam? There are those who try to reinterpret this by introducing new concepts. In the past years, we always regarded secularism as anti-religion; secularism became an equivalent to atheism. We said no. Secularism means that the state guarantees freedoms to all groups, without privileging one over the other. That is our understanding of secularism." he said. Erdogan was interviewed during his GCC visit, which included Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and aims at “uplifting mutual ties with the brotherly countries on the highest levels” as described by the Turkish President.

Turkey clearing Syria’s al-Bab of remaining ISIS militants
AFP, Istanbul Friday, 17 February 2017/Turkey on Thursday said its armed forces were engaged in “clean-up” operations to clear remaining ISIS militants from the flashpoint Syrian town of al-Bab after a weeks-long campaign. The Turkish army, backing Syria rebels, have since December been engaged in fierce fighting to oust the militants from the town but Ankara now says Al-Bab is largely under its control. “Al-Bab is now completely surrounded,” Defense Minister Fikri Isik told Turkish media in Brussels where he was attending a NATO meeting. “There is a serious clean-up going on inside to clear Daesh (ISIS) completely,” he added. “Once this clean-up is completed, we expected life in Al-Bab to return to normal.”Turkey’s offensive has been matched by a separate operation by forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on the town from the south. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights however said Turkish forces had made little progress since entering the town from the west. Also read: Pro-Ankara rebels, Syria regime ‘agree security line’ in al-Bab. It accused Turkey of killing 24 civilians in air strikes. But Turkey’s army said it had killed 15 “terrorists” in air strikes, artillery fire and clashes. Isik said the Turkish forces subsequently wanted to move on the town of Manbij but wanted the Kurdish militia fighters who ousted ISIS there last year to leave first. Isik reaffirmed Turkey was also looking into the possibility of a joint operation with the United States and other powers to take the militant bastion of Raqa from ISIS. But he again insisted that the Kurdish militia – enemies of Turkey but allies of the US in the fight against ISIS – must not be involved in the operation. Isik announced that US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford would be visiting Ankara on Friday for talks about the issue. “We will consider whether to do the Raqa operation together,” Isik said. “I don’t think the US has taken a definite decision on this,” he added.

Egypt Air flight detours after bird gashes front glass An)
Staff writer, Al Arabiya English Friday, 17 February 2017/An Egypt Air flight from Aswan to Cairo was forced to return to its boarding point on Friday after a bird hit and smashed the Embraer E170 jet gashing its front glass. According to a company official, the plane had to return to Aswan to be replaced by another that especially flew from Cairo.All passengers were booked at a hotel near Aswan awaiting the arrival of the replacement plane.

US used depleted uranium rounds in anti-ISIS air strikes: military

AFP, Washington Friday, 17 February 2017/The United States used depleted uranium anti-tank rounds on two occasions in 2015 during devastating air strikes against convoys of ISIS tanker trucks, the Pentagon said Thursday. The military prizes depleted uranium munitions for their armor-piercing capabilities as well as for protective armor for tanks and vehicles. But they have been criticized for posing health risks to soldiers who use them and being potentially toxic to surrounding civilian populations. The United Nations Environment Program has described them as “chemically and radiologically toxic heavy metal.” A by-product of uranium enrichment, depleted uranium “is mildly radioactive, with about 60 percent of the activity of natural uranium,” it says. A military spokesman said A-10 attack aircraft used depleted uranium rounds on November 16 and 22, 2015 in attacks on tanker trucks carrying oil for the ISIS militants. The operations destroyed hundreds of trucks. A total of 5,265 depleted uranium rounds were fired in combination with other incendiary rounds, US Central Command spokesman Major Josh Jacques said. The combination of armor-penetrating and high explosive incendiary munitions was used “to ensure a higher probability of destruction of the truck fleet ISIS was using to transport its illicit oil,” he said. “We will continue to look at all options during operational planning to defeat ISIS, this includes DU rounds,” he added. The munitions have been suspected – but never proved – to be a possible cause of “Gulf War syndrome,” the name given to a collection of debilitating maladies suffered by veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War. The UN Environment Program has conducted studies and clean-ups of areas affected by use of the munitions in conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and Iraq.

Iran: Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) Activities Crippled If Named a Terrorist Group

NCRI /Friday, 17 February 2017/What would be the effects of listing IRGC as a terrorist group on its activities beyond Iran’s geographical borders? In his interview with Al-Arabiya on February 14, Dr. Mohammed Alsulami, head of (Persian) Gulf Center for Iranian Studies, answers this question: “With IRGC listed as a terrorist group, Iranian regime’s activities abroad and its influence in Arab and African countries, such as Nigeria, as well as in Latin America will be completely crippled. IRGC is divided into four divisions with which we need to be familiar so that we can block them. IRGC has its own military arm and affiliated groups and militias. It has also carried out a lot of investments. It has set up so-called cultural centers, which are actually centers for gathering intelligence, recruitment and promoting the ideology of vilayat-e-faqih. And the fourth division is related to IRGC’s so-called humanitarian affairs and charity organizations which actually serves as a cover for IRGC’s other activities and is directly headed by Khamenei. These are IRGC’s four arms which constitute the main structure of Iranian regime’s activities abroad. IRGC and particularly its Quds Force are directly commanded by Khamenei’s viewpoints. If the IRGC, with all divisions included, is blocked, or even if only its military wing is put under pressure, it would severely affect not only regime’s activities in foreign countries, but also the political composition and clash of rival bands within the regime.” r. Mohammed Alsulami added: “courtiers in the region along with Western countries and the United States will have the responsibility to name IRGC as a terrorist group. What’s important in this regard, however, is that in addition to limiting and blocking IRGC’s investments and offering full support by these countries, they also need to apply political and diplomatic pressures to ensure that the resolutions will be implemented and that listing IRGC as a terrorist group will not be just ink on paper. I’m expecting a change. If the Iranian regime feels threatened or IRGC and its forces in Syria feel threatened, regime’s positions will change, fearing the US policies. I believe that if the United States is serious about this, we will see changes coming.”

Iran Regime Sold the Corpse of an Executed Prisoner for $3,000
NCRI /Friday, 17 February 2017/Selling unclaimed corpses in Iran has been widely noticed in recent weeks after it was found that medical colleges are paying up to $3,000 per corpse in the black-market, according to new reports. The state-run Rokna news agency reported on February 15 that the lack of deceased bodies has forced medical students to seek help from the black markets to buy corpses to use as cadavers for medical research purposes. The report said around 100 unclaimed corpses were found in Tehran’s streets, with doctors urging that they should be handed to medical schools so that students may benefit from them. Rokna quoted Niousha Mohammadzadeh, a practicing doctor, as saying that her college had purchased three bodies, one of which belonged to a man who was executed in prison and who didn’t have immediate relatives. His corpse cost 10 million toman ($3,000), she said. The second body belonged to a homeless person and the third body was of an unidentified person. Trading human organs is currently legal under the Iranian regime’s law. The poor are often exploited to sell body organs such as kidneys, a practice that has spread widely in recent years in Iran.

United States Should Cut off Iranian Regime's Fingertips (IRGC) in the Region
NCRI /Friday, 17 February 2017/The US administration should cut off Iranian regime’s fingertips in the region. They are a threat to stability and security in Syria, Iraq, and the entire region.
A report by Aljazeera TV on February 15: The Iranian regime could expand its political and military influence in Iraq during the Presidency of Barack Obama. They launched a new form of Revolutionary Guards called ‘al-Hashd al-Shaabi’ and also passed a law to give it a legal form.
How could you ask a pro Iranian regime government in Iraq to harness an armed group which has been created by this same regime?
In Syria, the Iranian regime deployed Iraqi militias called ‘Abolfazl al-Abbas’ to fight next to Hezbollah. They try to disrupt resolving Syrian crisis and throw obstacles in the way of setting up safe zones in the country. Iranian regime has other tools that can still threaten the security of Arab countries in the region. Donald Trump advisors are expecting him to isolate the Iranian regime, but this won’t happen unless the United States cuts off the regime’s fingertips in the region.
Experts believe that in this confrontation, Trump won’t need to go too far.
Harlan Ulman, former US Assistant Secretary of Defense, believes that “the threat coming from Iranian regime’s militias is not too serious. We know that the Iranian regime lacks military facilities and its allies don’t have invasion facilities, either. Due to Iranian regime’s missile program, there’s currently a tension between the United States and the0 regime. They are whistling in the dark. But such actions will have no effect on the United States or on the region. The United States won’t pay attention to such remarks. The United States and its navy know pretty well that US ships and forces may be attacked by US enemies. The United States is quite alert in this regard. They’re constantly on alert to confront any kind of attack to US ships. The threat by the Iranian regime or its militias will have no effect on the balance of power, either.”

14-Year-Old Girl Beaten and Detained for 'Wearing Jeans' by Iran's Morality Police
NCRI /Friday, 17 February 2017/A 14-year-old girl was innocently celebrating her birthday with friends in the city of Shiraz, when a patrol of “morality police” pulled up. The teenager, who is only being identified as “Zahra”, over fear of reprisals, said the officers forced her and her friends into a van, beating them when they resisted. She described what happened, “There were two women and two men in a huge van and they pushed us into it with the force of their beatings. Their objection was to the ripped jeans that we were There were really no other issues concerning my friends and I.” Zahra and the other girls were released once they had signed pledges that they would not wear the ‘ripped jeans’ again, and that they would adhere to Iran’s ‘modest’ dress codes in the future. “I still carry the bruises sustained from their beatings on my face. I still feel their pressure on my arm and my ribs still hurt,” she said. Her mother followed the morality police van to the station. She described the ordeal in an interview as “the worst day of my life, as if the world has ended for me,” adding, “I know my daughter feels the same.” She also stated that the male officers threatened the girls with pepper spray to get them into the van, and that the female officers hit them and pulled their hair. Zahra’s mother suffers from multiple sclerosis. “It was unbelievable,” she continued, “When I entered the room, they were saying that these girls are not children any more and should wear proper clothes. Signs of bruises are still visible all over her body. My daughter and her friends were wearing ordinary clothes, it was just that they were wearing ripped jeans.” Many others have gone through similar experiences, said a human rights activist, “In the 21st century it is shameful to hear that a government makes decisions on how women should dress,There are many women sharing stories showing that they got lashes just because of attending a mixed party with men or dancing with men at a birthday party.”Thousands of visible and undercover “morality” police patrol the streets to check for violations. Women whose hair or bodies are deemed to be inadequately covered may be publicly admonished, warned, fined or even arrested.

MEK Plays Leading Role in Exposing Iranian Regime's Regional Conduct
NCRI /Friday, 17 February 2017/On Tuesday, Feb 14, Alireza Jafarzadeh, the Deputy Director of the National Council of Resistance of Iran - US Representative Office, revealed information about the headquarters and foreign mercenary training centers of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).The information was gathered and documented by the social network maintained inside Iran by the People's Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The network gathered the information over a period of several months, relying on sources inside the Iranian regime and the IRGC itself.
According to the report provided by the MEK, the IRGC has created a large directorate in its extraterritorial arm, the Quds Force, in order to expand its training of foreign mercenaries as part of the regime’s strategy to step up its meddling abroad, including in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The MEK reported that the directorate has dozens of training camps across Iran, and it pinpointed 14 of them, eight of which are located near Tehran. MEK sources established that the headquarters of the directorate is located at the Imam Ali military base, at kilometer 20 of the Tehran-Karaj highway. The MEK’s detailed revelations included satellite images of some of the sites, maps, and diagrams. The Iranian Resistance and its components including the MEK have expressed support for the US government’s recent imposition of new sanctions against a number of individuals and companies affiliated with the clerical regime for their role in missile proliferation. The resistance views this as a positive step in confronting the illegitimate dictatorship whose record includes 120,000 political executions and ongoing support of terrorism.
The Resistance maintains that it is imperative to impose comprehensive sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards, its affiliated entities, the Ministry of Intelligence, and other entities involved in the suppression of the Iranian people and the exportation of terrorism.
This economic pressure would go a long way toward addressing the threats emanating from the Godfather of state-sponsored terrorism, the biggest source of war and instability in the region, and a major player in the creation of the environment that enabled the survival and expansion of ISIS.
MEK’s long track record in exposing Iran’s destructive role in the region
The revelation was the latest in a litany of cases in which MEK sources have exposed Tehran’s egregious and destructive conduct throughout the region.
In December 2016, the MEK sources provided a detailed report on the role of the IRGC and its foreign mercenaries in the massacre in Aleppo, Syria. According to the MEK revelation, the IRGC played an extensive role in the rape of Aleppo, building a network of bases around the Syrian city and directing militiamen from Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan to do the killing.
The Washington Times reported upon this MEK intelligence on December 20 and noted that it had characterized the IRGC as an occupying force. The MEK report pointed out that the IRGC had amassed an army of 25,000 Iranian and foreign militias in and around the burned and cratered Aleppo.
Since the onset of the Iranian regime’s extensive involvement in the support of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad and in his massacre of the Syrian people, the MEK has provided various reports, detailing the scope of the Iranian regime’s role.
On April 28, 2016, the MEK revealed that the Iranian regime has embarked on a new propaganda campaign to recruit children to join the war in Syria. The information was picked up by various international media outlets and included a promotional clip from Iranian state media aimed at persuading children to enlist in militant forces in order to “defend the sacred shrine” in Syria.
MEK revelations have not been limited to Syria.
On April 12, 2015, MEK spokesman Shahin Gobadi said that commanders from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force have been training members of the Houthi rebel group in Yemen. In an online conference, Gobadi said that information obtained from inside the clerical regime by the MEK network showed that the IRGC Quds Force oversees Iranian policy toward Yemen. The military plans and operations of the Houthis are completely under the supervision and control of the Quds Force, which is in charge of organizing and commanding the Houthis. In a subsequent statement, Gobadi cited MEK information revealing how the IRGC has been trying to smuggle weapons to Yemen in this quest to support Houthis in that country’s conflict. With regard to Iraq, as well, the MEK’s information about the Iranian regime’s extensive meddling has been spot on.
On Jan 26, 2007, in a press conference in Paris, Mr. Mohamamd Mohaddessin, the Chairman of the NCRI Foreign Affairs Committee released the names of 32,000 agents of the Iranian regime in Iraq. Mohaddessin, underscored that the detailed information, the only in its kind, had been obtained by MEK sources inside Iran. The MEK information showed how the Iranian regime is exploiting the chaotic situation in Iraq to pursue its long-held ominous objective of imposing its hegemony in Iraq as a springboard to the rest of the region.
In January of this year, the MEK prepared a detailed profile of IRGC Brigadier General Iraj Masjedi, who has been nominated to be the Iranian regime’s new Ambassador to Iraq. According to the MEK, Masjedi is a deputy to IRGC Major General, Qassem Soleimani, the notorious commander of the Quds Force, or foreign special operations division of the IRGC. Masjedi for years oversaw the operations and activities of the Iranian regime’s agents and militia groups in Iraq. As such, he directly oversaw the operation of the Iranian regime’s terrorists against the Coalition Forces in Iraq after 2003.
In short, over the years, the MEK has played an instrumental role in exposing the Iranian regime in general and the IRGC in particular in the region. By taking huge personal risks, the MEK activists have acted as the eyes and ears of the international community in establishing the malevolent nature and objective of the Iranian regime’s activities throughout the region.
More about the People’s Mojahdin Organization of Iran (PMOI/ MEK)
The People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (Also known as MEK, or Mujahedin-e-Khalq / Mujahedeen-e-Khalq), was founded on September 6, 1965, by Mohammad Hanifnejad, Saeed Mohsen, and Ali-Asghar Badizadgan. All engineers, they had earlier been members of the Freedom Movement (also known as the Liberation Movement), created by Medhi Bazargan in May 1961.1The MEK’s quest culminated in a true interpretation of Islam, which is inherently tolerant and democratic, and fully compatible with the values of modern-day civilization. It took six years for the MEK to formulate its view of Islam and develop a strategy to replace Iran’s dictatorial monarchy with a democratic government.
MEK’s interpretation of Islam
The theocratic mullah regime in Iran believe interpreting Islam is their exclusive domain. The MEK reject this view and the cleric’s reactionary vision of Islam. The MEK’s comprehensive interpretation of Islam proved to be more persuasive and appealing to the Iranian youth.
MEK’s founders and new members studied the various schools of thought, the Iranian history and those of other countries, enabling them to analyze other philosophies and ideologies with considerable knowledge and to present their own ideology, based on Islam, as the answer to Iran’s problems.
MEK’s leadership’s arrest during the 70s.
The Shah’s notorious secret police, SAVAK, arrested all MEK leaders and most of its member’s in1971. On May 1972, the founders of the MEK, Mohammad Hanifnejad , Saeed Mohsen and Ali Asghar Badizadegan, along with two members of the MEK leadership, Mahmoud Askarizadeh and Rasoul Meshkinfam, were put before death squads and were executed after long months of imprisonment and torture. They were the true vanguards, who stood against the dictatorial regime of Shah. However, they are also recognized for their opposition to what is today known as Islamic fundamentalism.
The death sentence of Massoud Rajavi, a member of MEK’s central committee, was commuted to life imprisonment as a result of an international campaign by his Geneva based brother, Dr. Kazem Rajavi (assassinated in April 1990 in Geneva by mullahs’ agents) and the personal intervention of the French President Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand. He was the only survivor of the MEK original leadership.
Massoud Rajavi’s critical role in characterizing religious extremism
From 1975 to 1979, while incarcerated in different prisons, Massoud Rajavi led the MEK’s struggle while constantly under torture for his leading position.
Massoud Rajavi stressed the need to continue the struggle against the shah’s dictatorship. At the same time, he characterized religious fanaticism as the primary internal threat to the popular opposition, and warned against the emergence and growth of religious fanaticism and autocracy. He also played a crucial role when some splinter used the vacuum in the MEK leadership who were all executed or imprisoned at the time, to claim a change of ideology and policy. Massoud Rajavi as the MEK leader condemn these individual’s misuse of MEK’s name while continuing to stress the struggle against dictatorship. His efforts while still in prison forced these individuals to no longer operating under the name of MEK and adopting a different name for their group. These positions remained the MEK’s manifesto until the overthrow of the shah’s regime.
Release of Political Prisoners on the last days of the Shah
A month before the 1979 revolution in Iran, the Shah was forced to flee Iran, never to return. All democratic opposition leaders had by then either been executed by the Shah’s SAVAK or imprisoned, and could exert little influence on the trend of events. Khomeini and his network of mullahs across the country, who had by and large been spared the wrath of SAVAK, were the only force that remained unharmed and could take advantage of the political vacuum. In France, Khomeini received maximum exposure to the world media. With the aid of his clerical followers, he hijacked a revolution that began with calls for democracy and freedom and diverted it towards his fundamentalist goals. Through an exceptional combination of historical events, Shiite clerics assumed power in Iran.
Khomeini’s gradual crackdown on MEK in fear of their popular support
In internal discourses, Rajavi the remaining leader of the MEK, argued that Khomeini represented the reactionary sector of society and preached religious fascism. Later, in the early days after the 1979 revolution, the mullahs, specifically Rafsanjani, pointed to these statements in inciting the hezbollahi club-wielders to attack the MEK.
Following the revolution, the MEK became Iran’s largest organized political party. It had hundreds of thousands of members who operated from MEK offices all over the country. MEK publication, ‘Mojahed’ was circulated in 500,000 copies.
Khomeini set up an Assembly of Experts comprised of sixty of his closest mullahs and loyalists to ratify the principle of velayat-e faqih (absolute supremacy of clerical rule) as a pillar of the Constitution. The MEK launched a nationwide campaign in opposition to this move, which enjoyed enormous popular support. Subsequently, the MEK refused to approve the new constitution based on the concept of velayat-e faqih, while stressing its observance of the law of the country to deny the mullahs any excuse for further suppression of MEK supporters who were regularly targeted by the regime’s official and unofficial thugs.
Khomeini sanctioned the occupation of the United States embassy in 1979 in order to create an anti-American frenzy, which facilitated the holding of a referendum to approve his Constitution, which the MEK rejected.
MEK’s endeavors to participate in the political process avoiding an unwanted conflict with government repressive forces
The MEK actively participated in the political process, fielding candidates for the parliamentary and presidential elections. The MEK also entered avidly into the national debate on the structure of the new Islamic regime, though was unsuccessful in seeking an elected constituent assembly to draft a constitution.
The MEK similarly made an attempt at political participation when [then] Massoud Rajavi ran for the presidency in January 1980. MEK’s leader was forced to withdraw when Khomeini ruled that only candidates who had supported the constitution in the December referendum – which the MEK had boycotted- were eligible. Rajavi’s withdrawal statement emphasized the MEK’s efforts to conform to election regulations and reiterated the MEK’s intention to advance its political aims within the new legal system”. (Unclassified report on the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran(PMOI/ MEK) by the Department of State to the United States House of Representatives, December 1984.)
However, the MEK soon found itself in a direct struggle against the forces of the regime’s Supreme leader. The MEK’s differences with Khomeini dated back to the 1970s, and stem from its opposition to what is known today as Islamic extremism. Angry at the position taken by the MEK against his regime and worried about the MEK’s growing popularity, Khomeini ordered a brutal crackdown against the MEK and its supporters. Between 1979 and 1981, some 70 MEK members and sympathizers were killed and several thousand more were imprisoned by the Iranian regime.
June 20, 1981- Khomeini’s order to open fire on peaceful demonstration of half-a-million supporters of MEK
The turning point came on 20th June 1981, when the MEK called a demonstration to protest at the regime’s crackdown, and to call for political freedom which half-a-million supporters participated at. Khomeini ordered the Revolutionary Guards to open fire on the swelling crowd, fearing that without absolute repression the democratic opposition (MEK) would force him to engage in serious reforms – an anathema as far as he was concerned; he ordered the mass and summary executions of those arrested.
Since then, MEK activists have been the prime victims of human rights violations in Iran. Over 120,000 of its members and supporters have been executed by the Iranian regime, 30,000 of which, were executed in a few months in the summer of 1988, on a direct fatwa by Khomeini, which stated any prisoners who remain loyal to the MEK must be executed.
Having been denied its fundamental rights and having come under extensive attack at the time that millions of its members, supporters and sympathizers had no protection against the brutal onslaught of the Iranian regime, the MEK had no choice but to resist against the mullahs’ reign of terror.
“Towards the end of 1981, many of the members of the MEK and supporters went into exile. Their principal refuge was in France. But in 1986, after negotiations between the French and the Iranian authorities, the French government effectively treated them as undesirable aliens, and the leadership of the MEK with several thousand followers relocated to Iraq.” (Judgment of the Proscribed Organizations Appeal Commission, November 30, 2007.)
MEK Today
The MEK today is the oldest and largest anti-fundamentalist Muslim group in the Middle East. It has been active for more than a half century, battling two dictatorships and a wide range of issues. The MEK supports:
• Universal suffrage as the sole criterion for legitimacy
• Pluralistic system of governance
• Respect for individual freedoms
• Ban on the death penalty
• Separation of religion and state
• Full gender equality
• Equal participation of women in political leadership. MEK is actually led by its central committee consist of 1000 women.
• Modern judicial system that emphasizes the principle of innocence, a right to a defense, and due process
• Free markets
• Relations with all countries in the world
• Commitment to a non-nuclear Iran
The MEK remains a strong and cohesive organization, with a broad reach both worldwide and deep within Iran. MEK is the leading voice for democracy in Iran, supported by its interpretation of Islam that discredits the fundamentalist mullahs’ regime.

Latest LCCC Bulletin analysis & editorials from miscellaneous sources published on February 17-18/17
Linda Sarsour, the Left’s latest star
By: Daniel Pipes/Jerusalem Post/February 16, 2017
I learned about Sarsour’s vicious attacks on Israel. She encouraged stoning the Israel Defense Forces.
What to make of Linda Sarsour of Brooklyn, lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against US President Donald Trump’s immigration order and the new, seemingly ubiquitous symbol of the hard Left-radical Islam alliance?
The Obama White House designated her a “champion of change.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio sought her endorsement. Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders used her as a surrogate in his presidential campaign. She served as a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
She appeared on major television shows and The New York Times ran a long puff piece calling her “a Brooklyn homegirl in a hijab.” David Brock’s Media Matters for America advocates for her. She was one of four lead organizers of the anti- Trump Women’s March on Washington.
Actress Susan Sarandon and Rep. Keith Ellison endorse her. Sarsour, in brief, is “venerated by leftists,” observes Muslim reformer Shireen Qudosi. And Islamists too: for example, Al-Jazeera celebrates her.
Sarsour plopped herself into my life in March 2010 when she confused me, Daniel Pipes, with, a “boutique news service” that had run a critical article on her calling her a “Hamas sympathizer.” She responded by showering me with mock gratitude for the attention (“THANK YOU Mr. Pipes!”). Noting her error, I wrote a sarcastic response (“Sarsour ought to shower, not me, with her affections”). When she did not acknowledge her mistake, I took an interest in her career.
I learned that Sarsour frequently errs without later correcting herself.
She wrongly portrayed the murder of Shaima Alawadi as resulting from hatred of Muslims when in fact Alawadi’s Muslim husband, Kassim Alhimidi, honor-killed her.
I learned about Sarsour’s paranoid loathing for the US government.
She portrayed would-be underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as a CIA agent, implying that the federal government murders Americans to frame Muslims. She also off-handedly claimed Muslim “kids [are] being executed” in the United States, presumably by the government.
I learned about Sarsour’s promotion of Islamism. She endorsed Saudi Arabia because the application of Islamic law there brings such alleged benefits as paid maternity leave and no interest payments on credit cards.
I learned about Sarsour’s vicious attacks on Israel. She encouraged stoning the Israel Defense Forces. She posed for a photograph with Salah Sarsour, a former Hamas operative jailed by the Israeli authorities in the 1990s. She acknowledges having many male relatives in Israeli prisons.
I learned about Sarsour’s ignorance of history. She promotes a fantasy notion of Islam’s founder, Muhammad: “Our prophet was a racial justice activist, a human rights activist, a feminist in his own right. He was a man that cared about the environment. He cared about animal rights... He was also the first victim of Islamophobia.”
Her musings on American slavery caught my eye: “The sacrifice [that] the black Muslim slaves went through in this country is nothing compared to Islamaphobia [sic] today.”
I learned about Sarsour’s low reputation among her should-be allies.
Debbie Almontaser, an Islamist colleague, disparaged her immodesty and lack of humility. Feminist Aki Muthali called her a racist (read again that quote about black slaves). The anti-Zionist Ikhras website also accused her of harboring “an ugly racism towards African-Americans.”
Additionally, it characterized Sarsour’s public persona as “a masquerade inundated with pretense and exaggeration”; it portrayed her as fake religious; and it found her lacking a moral compass or “genuine convictions or principles.”
I learned how Sarsour answered critics with vitriolic vulgarity. Typical of her charm and grace, she said of Brigitte Gabriel and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, two leading anti-Islamists (and the latter a victim of female genital mutilation), “I wish I could take their vaginas away – they don’t deserve to be women.”
I learned that Sarsour, a plain, illdressed woman in a lumbering hijab, indulges in coquettish vanity. She publicly boasts of her “striking good looks,” announces “I am beautiful,” and raves about “Such a beautiful photo taken of me.” Sarsour also clumsily self-inflates, for example, by referring to herself as one of the “amazing people.”
This long record of incompetence, extremism, vulgarity and eccentricity makes me wonder how Islamists and Leftists jointly swoon, as they do, over Linda Sarsour. If she’s their vaunted star, conservatives can rest easy.
**The author is president of the Middle East Forum.

Trump: Palestinians Must Earn a Two State Solution
Alan M. Dershowitz/Gatestone Institute/February 17/17
President Trump raised eyebrows when he mentioned the possibility of a one state solution. The context was ambiguous and no one can know for sure what message he was intending to convey. One possibility is that he was telling the Palestinian leadership that if they want a two state solution, they have to do something. They have to come to the negotiating table with the Israelis and make the kinds of painful sacrifices that will be required from both sides for a peaceful resolution to be achieved. Put most directly, the Palestinians must earn the right to a state. They are not simply entitled to statehood, especially since their leaders missed so many opportunities over the years to secure a state. As Abba Eben once put it: "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."
It began back in the 1930s, when Great Britain established the Peale Commission which was tasked to recommend a solution to the conflict between Arabs and Jews in mandatory Palestine. It recommended a two state solution with a tiny noncontiguous Jewish state alongside a large Arab state. The Jewish leadership reluctantly accepted this sliver of a state; the Palestinian leadership rejected the deal, saying they wanted there to be no Jewish state more than they wanted a state of their own.
In 1947, the United Nations partitioned mandatory Palestine into two areas: one for a Jewish state; the other for an Arab state. The Jews declared statehood on 1948; all the surrounding Arab countries joined the local Arab population in attacking the new state of Israel and killing one percent of its citizens, but Israel survived.
In 1967, Egypt and Syria were planning to attack and destroy Israel, but Israel preempted and won a decisive victory, capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Sinai. Israel offered to return captured areas in exchange for peace, but the Arabs met with Palestinian leaders in Khartoum and issued their three infamous "no's": no peace, no recognition, and no negotiation.
In 2000-2001 and again in 2008, Israel made generous peace offers that would have established a demilitarized Palestinian state, but these offers were not accepted. And for the past several years, the current Israeli government has offered to sit down and negotiate a two state solution with no pre-conditions-- not even advanced recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. The Palestinian leadership has refused to negotiate.
President Trump may be telling them that if they want a state they have to show up at the negotiating table and bargain for it. No one is going to hand it to them on a silver platter in the way that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon handed over the Gaza strip in 2005, only to see it turned into a launching pad for terror rockets and terror tunnels. Israel must get something in return: namely real peace and a permanent end to the conflict.
The Palestinian leadership's unwillingness to come to the negotiating table reminds me of my mother's favorite Jewish joke about Sam, a 79 year old man who prayed every day for God to let him win the New York lottery before he turns 80. On the eve of his 80th birthday, he rails against God:
"All these years I've prayed to you every day asking to win the lottery. You couldn't give me that one little thing!" God responded: "Sam, you have to help me out here-- buy a ticket!!"
The Palestinians haven't bought a ticket. They haven't negotiated in good faith. They haven't accepted generous offers. They haven't made realistic counter proposals. They haven't offered sacrifices to match those offered by the Israelis.
Now President Trump is telling them that they have to "buy a ticket." They are not going to get a state by going to the United Nations, the European Union or the international criminal court. They aren't going to get a state as a result of the BDS or other anti-Israel movements. They will only get a state if they sit down and negotiate in good faith with the Israelis. The Obama Administration applied pressures only to the Israeli side, not to the Palestinians. The time has come – indeed it is long past – for the United States to tell the Palestinians in no uncertain terms that they must negotiate with Israel if they want a Palestinian state, and they must agree to end the conflict, permanently and unequivocally. Otherwise, the status quo will continue, and there will be only one state, and that state will be Israel. The Palestinians are not going to win the lottery without buying a ticket. © 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.

Scandinavia: The West's Citadel of anti-Semitism
Giulio Meotti//Gatestone Institute/February 17/17
Hate for Israel has become a real obsession in Scandinavia, which revived the glorious partnership between the liberal "useful idiots" -- the ones concerned about equality and minorities -- and the Islamists, the ones concerned about submission and killing "infidels". Despite the fact that Jews in Norway are only 0.003 percent of the total population, Oslo is now world's capital of European anti-Semitism. Norwegian newspapers are full of classic anti-Semitic tropes.
A festival in Oslo also rejected a documentary, "The Other Dreamers," about the lives of disabled children, simply because it was Israeli. "We support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel," wrote Ketil Magnussen, the founder of the festival.
The same racism exists in Sweden. Dagens Nyheter, the most sophisticated Swedish newspaper, published a violently anti-Semitic op-ed entitled, "It is allowed to hate the Jews".
Does Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström really mean that to defeat Islamic aggression, Israel must surrender? The Palestinians' situation is indeed desperate, but as they have had full autonomy for decades, their desperate situation is caused by their own corrupt leaders who appear deliberately to keep their people in misery try to blame it on Israel, in the same way that people maim children to make them "better" beggars.
The Nazi daily Der Stürmer could not have drawn it better.
On January 12, the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten published an article about Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and his senior adviser: "The Jew Kushner reportedly pushed for David M. Friedman as the new ambassador to Israel", Aftenposten wrote. The newspaper had later to apologize for calling Kushner "the Jew".
A few weeks earlier, the city council of Trondheim, Norway's third-largest city, passed a motion calling on its residents to boycott Israeli goods -- a city aspiring to be "Israel-free". Then it was the turn of another Norwegian city, Tromso, population 72,000, whose city council approved a similar motion. More than 40% of Norwegians are already boycotting Israeli products or are in favor of doing so, according to a poll.
What hell is happening in Scandinavia, whose countries, Norway and Sweden, are bastions of political correctness, champions of multiculturalism and, according to the Global Peace Index, the most "peaceful" countries in the world? "The most successful society the world has ever known", however, as The Guardian labelled Sweden, has a dark side: Israel-slandering and anti-Semitism.
Sweden and Norway are manipulating public opinion in the way immortalized by George Orwell in his novel "1984" as the "Two Minutes Hate". These countries have seen the creation of a public opinion according to which Israel is a merciless enemy of humanity that ought to be dismantled forthwith.
A year ago, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, an updated map of Israel's friends and enemies. Only five countries are openly at war with the Jewish State: Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and North Korea. Then there are the friendly countries, including many non-Muslim African countries that once had no diplomatic relations with Jerusalem. But the map also included a European country that for the first time moved into the "non-friends" camp: Sweden.
Hate for Israel has become a real obsession in Scandinavia, which revived the glorious partnership between the liberal "useful idiots" -- the ones concerned about equality and minorities -- and Islamists, the ones concerned about submission and killing "infidels".
Despite the fact that Jews in Norway are only 0.003 percent of the total population, Oslo is now world's capital of European anti-Semitism. Recently, the Norwegian National Theater opened its Festival in Oslo with a dramatic video clip. The video urged a boycott of the National Theater of Israel, Habima, in Tel Aviv. Funded by the government and aired at the festival, the clip shows an actress posing as a spokesman for the National Theater and calling for a boycott of the Israeli theater. Pia Maria Roll labelled Israel a state "based on ethnic cleansing, racism, occupation and apartheid". Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded saying that the seven-minute video recalls "the Norwegian collaborationist Vidkun Quisling and Knut Hamson" (a Nobel laureate for Literature who sympathized with Hitler).
It is not the first time. A festival in Oslo also rejected a documentary, "The Other Dreamers," about the lives of disabled children, simply because it was Israeli. "We support the academic and cultural boycott of Israel," wrote Ketil Magnussen, the founder of the festival.
Norway is the European country most engaged in the campaigns against Israel. All Norwegian universities refused to host Alan Dershowitz for a speaking tour about the Middle East. A proposal for an official academic boycott against Israel was promoted by Norway's University of Trondheim. If approved, the boycott would have been the first of its kind in a European university since the Nazi boycott of Jewish professors.
The Norwegian Ministry of Finance has excluded Israeli companies, such as Africa Israel Investments and Danya Cebus, from its Global Pension Fund, a fund that invests the national wealth in foreign stocks and bonds, and which holds more than one percent of all global stocks. The Norwegian trade union EL & IT, which represents workers from the energy and telecommunications sectors, has boycotted the Histadrut, Israel's national labor union.
In Norway, anti-Semitism has affected many "intellectuals". One is Johan Galtung, a Norwegian sociologist dubbed the "father of peace studies", a proud leftist who made anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli statements at the University of Oslo and who claimed (falsely) that there is a link between the perpetrators of the massacre at Utoya in Norway and the Mossad.
Norwegian newspapers are full of classic anti-Semitic tropes. A cartoon in the largest newspaper, Verdens Gang, showed the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's feet as those of an animal. In Aftenposten, the second-largest newspaper, a rat eats the Star of David, the symbol in the Israeli flag. Another daily, Dagbladet, a glory of the Norwegian Left, published a cartoon in which Palestinian terrorists leave an Israeli prison with the German motto of the Buchenwald concentration camp: "Jedem Das Sein".
Evelyne Zeira, who works at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, asked a Norwegian researcher, Ingrid Harbitz, to send her material to develop treatments for Palestinian victims of thalessemia, a blood disease. Harbitz's answer was: "Due to the current situation in the Middle East, I will not deliver material to Israeli universities". To her, Israeli Jews and even Palestinians do not deserve Norwegian blood!
During Israel's war against Hezbollah in 2006, the daily Aftenposten published an article by Jostein Gaarder, Norway's most famous writer and a "thirdworldist", in which he imagined the destruction of Israel. Gaarder, whose novel "Sophie's World" has been translated into 53 languages ​​and has sold millions of copies, justified the expulsion of Israeli Jews from their land. "We no longer recognize the State of Israel," Gaarder wrote, as if he were an Iranian imam.
The same racism exists in Sweden.
A few days ago, the Swedish Parliament discussed a deal between Volvo, the country's most important car maker, and the Israeli bus companies. Volvo provides, in fact, some buses which keep the Israelis alive in Judea and Samaria. Jewish schoolchildren in these areas have to use armored buses to avoid being shot and murdered by Palestinian terrorists. But according to the chairman of Sweden's parliamentary committee on foreign affairs, Kenneth G. Forslund, their right to life, granted by Volvo's buses, is "a violation of international law". Swedish dockworkers sponsored a week-long boycott of Israeli ships and goods. The old good days when Swedish ships saved the Jews from Nazis are gone.
Sweden's former Minister for Housing and Urban Development, Mehmet Kaplan, a Muslim of Turkish origin, took part in the pro-Hamas assault against Israel by the "Freedom Flotilla" in 2010. He compared Israel to Nazism and called for the "liberation of Jerusalem". The education minister, Gustav Fridolin, has been arrested for protesting in front of the anti-terrorism fence built by Israel in Judea and Samaria to protect the lives of their citizens on the coastal plain, massacred by suicide bombers.
Recently, Swedish public television broadcast "The Occupation of the American Mind", a conspiracy film about the "Israeli Lobby" supposedly controlling in the United States. During the Second Intifada, in a Stockholm Museum, a photograph was reprinted of a smiling Palestinian suicide bomber, who had killed dozens of Israelis at a restaurant in Haifa. In the photograph, he was on a white boat in a bathtub full of blood-red liquid. Aftonbladet, Sweden's largest daily newspaper, then ran an article by Donald Bostrom where, without any evidence, he charged the Israeli army of harvesting the organs of Palestinians.
Dagens Nyheter, the most sophisticated Swedish newspaper, published a violently anti-Semitic op-ed entitled, "It is allowed to hate the Jews", in which the historian Jan Samuelson said that until Israel ceases to "occupy" the territories, hatred for the Jewish State will be justified. He totally disregards, however, that the Jordanians illegally seized the territories in the aggression they initiated against Israel in the War of 1948; in 1967, Israel, in fact liberated its own land from illegal Jordanian occupation.
After Trump's election, the daily Dagens Nyheter ran an anti-Semitic cartoon, in which the Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President-elect were being carried by an Orthodox Jew, a Ku Klux Klan member and a gun-carrying man branded with the Israeli flag. The Nazi daily Der Stürmer could not have drawn it better.
After the massacres of November 13 in Paris, Sweden's minister of Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, said that "to counter the radicalization we have to go back to the situation in the Middle East where the Palestinians see that there is no future for them and must accept a desperate situation and resort to violence".
Does Wallström really mean that to defeat Islamic aggression, Israel must surrender? The Palestinians' situation is indeed desperate, but as they have had full autonomy for decades, their desperate situation is caused by their own cynical and corrupt leaders who appear deliberately to keep their people in misery try to blame it on Israel, in the same way that people maim children to make them "better" beggars.
Meanwhile, the Trondheim synagogue has become one of the best protected buildings in Norway, and Jews live under siege in the Swedish city of Malmö. Vidkun Quisling, the Nazi collaborationist, would have been proud of his heirs, even if now they are self-proclaimed "progressives".
In January 2009, an Arab mob in Malmö pelted a peaceful Jewish demonstration with bottles, eggs and smoke bombs. The police pushed the Jews, who had a permit for their gathering, into an alley.
*Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.
© 2017 Gatestone Institute. All rights reserved. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone InstituteTrump team and the Iran challenge
Pierre Ghanem/Al Arabiya/February 17/17
It is not important that Michael Flynn, the National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, has resigned. I know the press is interested in the topic and that viewers are following up on the White House However, the truth remains that Trump has surrounded himself with a group of military men who are hostile to Iran and who believe that radical Islam threatens the security of the US. Retired Lieutenant General Micheal Flynn was only one of these men.
Let’s take a look at the list. Keith Kellogg, who is now serving as the Acting National Security Advisor, worked in Baghdad in 2003 and was a witness to Iranian infiltration and escalation of al-Qaeda violence against American troops.
On Tuesday, the Department of Defense announced sending General Joseph Rank, the American military attaché in the UAE, to head the Middle East team in the National Security Council (NSC). Practically, he is in charge of coordinating and planning Trump’s policies toward the region. I don’t remember that former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama hired generals in charge of the Middle East affairs in the NSC. The current Secretary of Defense is James Mattis. He too served in Iraq and he was the commander of the Central Command when shelling Iran was an option.
the truth remains that Trump has surrounded himself with a group of military men who are hostile to Iran and who believe that radical Islam threatens the security of the US
When asked about what worries him, Mattis replied: Iran..Iran..Iran.” His department is also responsible for fighting terrorism all the way from North Africa to Pakistan. The Secretary of Homeland Security is John Kelly and he is in charge of border security, travelers and immigrants’ entrance into the US and the infiltration of terrorists into the US. Kelly lost his son in the Afghanistan war. When current director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, was in the House of Representatives, he opposed the Iranian nuclear agreement and he considered the Iranians to be the masters of lying. He’s also well-known for opposing radical Islam.
Lone civilian
Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, is the only civilian among the list. During the hearing session at the Congress, he said: “The demise of ISIS would allow us to increase our attention on other agents of radical Islam like al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and certain elements within Iran.”
I am listing these figures’ biographies so that we can take a thorough look at the members of this team and imagine them around the table in the White House Situation Room when Trump sits to discuss security threats confronting the US and the first answer will be that they all oppose Iran and radical Islam.
The names proposed to succeed Flynn include two generals who have experience in the war against terrorism and against Iran. The first one is David Petraeus who led American escalation against al-Qaeda in Iraq and who witnessed the Iranian attacks, either directly or through militias, of American soldiers in Iraq. He later became the director of the CIA. The other general is Robert Harward a former admiral and member of Navy SEALs. He was the former Deputy Commander of the Central Command and he also worked in the National Counterterrorism Center. Truth is that President Trump replaces one general with another. Truth also is that Trump chose these military men because he believes that Iran poses a security threat and intervenes in the region’s affairs and that militias affiliated with it threaten the stability and safety of international navigation. Trump is the one who believes that radical Islam poses a threat to US security. Flynn’s departure is not important. Just hope for a meeting between these men and Trump. *This article is also available in Arabic.

The erosion of political practices in Iraq
Adnan Hussein/Al Arabiya/February 17/17
The accusations related to the existence of cameras placed all over the Sunni Endowment Diwan, including in toilets, to spy on employees, could be true or blatant lie targeting the Diwan management for vested political interests. The Public Information office of Diwan’s president, Abdul Latif al-Hemyem, said that these accusations are part of a web of conspiracy. In his statement, he said that “yellow press and paid journalists had circulated fabricated news about the president of the Diwan”. He stressed that the news is untrue and is “aimed at tarnishing the reputation of Hemyem so as to influence his increased popularity among Sunnis at the expense of his rival politicians from the Islamic Party.” On the other hand, Hemyem’s political rivals seemed to be very confident about the news being circulated. The coalition forces MP, Abdul Qahar al-Samarrai, who is one of the Islamic Party leaders, urged Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to dismiss the head of the Sunni Endowment Diwan and investigate him.
In a statement, Samarrai said: “the scandal of using spying devices and cameras without the prior approval of the employees and without their knowledge shows a dangerous moral deviance.”Al-Samarrai blamed the prime minister for “the consequences of appointing Hemyem in a very important religious institution” as he was the one who insisted on his appointment without the consent of the Sunni faction and its legitimate representative, i.e. the Fiqh Council in Iraq. According to him, this was done without even taking the legal process into consideration. There is no law guaranteeing the right of journalists and citizens to freely obtain accurate information as is the case in many democratic countries in the world
The political dimension
The political dimension of this issue is clear from the content of both statements. However, no one knows whether these accusations were true or not. There is no law guaranteeing the right of journalists and citizens to freely obtain accurate information as is the case in many democratic countries in the world.
Even if we did have such rights, Iraqis’ access to classified information, as is the case with the spying issue, could be a risky adventure. It is very easy in Iraq to kill a journalist on his way to get information from the source or on his way back to office. Anyway, regardless of the accuracy or the truth of the matter, the aforesaid allegations and circulating news related to it show how political practices have degenerated in the country. This collapse is linked to the erosion of political class in power and the deterioration of the judiciousness and ethics of political parties seeking to mark their presence through administrative, financial and political corruption. *This article is also available in Arabic.

The revolt of radical European Muslims against their parents

Samar Fatany/Al Arabiya/February 17/17
According to French political scientist Professor Olivier Roy of the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, the revival of religions today is mainly due to the separation of culture and religion. American evangelical movements, Protestant fundamentalism and Islamic Salafism all reject culture, philosophy and even theology and promote their sacred texts basing the absolute truth on their individual faith, neglecting educational and religious institutions. Today, what we label as fundamentalism is happening not only in the Muslim world but in the Western world as well. The revival of religious belief in a lot of European countries is happening under the same conditions as the revival of religious belief in Christianity, be it Protestant or Catholic. Therefore, traditional Islam asserts itself against an equally traditional Christianity. What we are witnessing is a global phenomenon – a globalization of religions. Islam in Europe today is going through a globalization process from within, including in its most fundamentalist forms. The issue with Islam in Europe is that Muslim immigrants had to separate Islam from the culture of their new country. This is unlike Muslims in Muslim countries where religion is part of the culture and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between cultural trends and religious practices. People are raised as Muslims and society provides the space for religious practice. It is easy to fast during Ramadan and perform the five daily prayers without any duress. However, immigration has created a divide between religion and society, between religion and culture, and eventually in some cases religious belief just disappeared. Muslims living in Europe had to somehow reinvent what they believed belonged to the Islamic belief.
Muslims in Europe, uprooted from their societies, need the guidance of liberal scholarly religious leaders to offer solutions asserting values more than norms and judicial rules
Radical movements
The spread of fundamentalism among European Muslims today continues to be an issue of major concern. However, the liberal Muslim or the contemporary Muslim who represents the vast majority of Muslims living in the Western world is not a threat. The problem lies with the minority that is shaping the radical movements. Fundamentalism was the major cause of the loss of cultural identity. The Salafis, who live in Europe and preach to young Muslim immigrants in Europe that their parents claim to be Muslims but they are not, have brainwashed many into going against their parents and radicalized their thoughts. Young European Muslims recruited by Daesh terrorists are revolting against their parents’ generation. Therefore, fundamentalism in Europe is not a protest of an original culture; it is the result of the disappearance of the original culture. Prof. Roy concludes, “It would be a huge mistake to link modern forms of fundamentalism to the idea of a clash of cultures, or a clash of civilizations, because there is no culture any more, there is no civilization.”Today’s religious revival in the Muslim world symbolizes “a return to the way of the pious ancestors”, i.e. of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his successors. The Salafi or neo-fundamentalist movements criticize modern Muslim cultures. They are anti-cultural and are against music, poetry and all forms entertainment. To be a Muslim Salafi means strict observance of religious obligations — therefore, all forms of entertainment are considered as distractions and therefore forbidden.
Quest for salvation
Fundamentalists oppose culture because it distracts Muslims from their religion and their quest for salvation. This religiosity has undermined the Islamic cultural heritage and killed any attempt to promote cultural activities, innovations and creativity. This is also the reason why there have not been many Muslim contributions to the rich Islamic ancestral heritage of years gone by. Today the traditional and scholarly knowledge produced by religious leaders does not provide the answers that the new believer is looking for. Muslims in Europe, uprooted from their societies, need the guidance of liberal scholarly religious leaders to offer solutions asserting values more than norms and judicial rules. The transformation of Saudi Arabia today ushers in a new vision that is based on liberal and Islamic ideals in tune with the reality of the 21st century generation. Saudi Vision 2030 supports a new policy toward a less rigid reading of the Qur’anic text. Hopefully, the transformation can influence change and play a leading role in ushering in a clear and correct understanding of religion to guide troubled Muslims in Europe and elsewhere and protect them from a radical ideology that is alien to Islam. The message of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is meant to be a divinely guided way of life that is suitable and practical for all human beings until the Day of Judgment. *This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on January 28, 2016.

Future of Palestine in the changing world order

Fawaz Turki/Al Arabiya/February 17/17/
The mainstream American media were in full agreement: President Trump’s shift on the two-state solution, as evinced in his remarks last Wednesday during a white House press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, has upended a long-held position by the US and by the international community. In its editorial the following day, the Washington Post, for example, did not mince words. President Trump, it opined, has “signaled a dangerous retreat from the Middle East policy that Republican as well as Democratic presidents have pursued for the past two decades ... In fact, by retreating from the two-state formula, the president has made the already slim prospects for an accord even more remote.” And in its own, the New York Times wrote: “President Trump came forward with a nonsensical statement on Wednesday as he dangerously backed away from the two-state solution, which has been central American Mideast policy for more than 20 years and remains the only just answer to the Israeli Palestinian conflict.”And the collective response of the international community about the reversal, as verbalized by the UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutteres, was no less vehement in tone, despite its brevity. “There is no alternative to the two-state solution,” he said.
‘Honest broker’
Retrenching on the idea of an independent Palestinian state is, as it were, a shock to the system – especially in the US, a big power that for decades, certainly since the 1969 Rogers Peace Plan, has advanced itself as an “honest broker” of the dispute between Arabs and Israelis. In Washington, lest we forget, the idea of a two-state solution became official policy when first President Bill Clinton endorsed it in a speech in January 2001, just two weeks before leaving office, where he said that the conflict would never be settled without “a sovereign, viable Palestinian state.”The vagueness of his remarks suggests that the businessman-turned-president has no inkling about diplomacy, least of all Mideast diplomacy, or about the complexities of the issues at hand in that part of the world. His successor, President George W. Bush, picked up on that later that year, cementing it further as official US policy. And finally President Obama made it a bed-rock of America's approach to Mideast peace. To be sure, it was not altogether clear what President Trump was trying to say during his White House Press conference, with Netanyahu beaming by his side. “So I’m looking at the two-state or the one-state,” he averred. “I was thinking for a while that the two-state looked like the easier of the two ... I’m happy with what the parties like best.” Then he pleaded with the Israeli prime minister to ease up “a bit” on building colonies. If you can decipher any of these cryptic statements, then you are better at deciphering Trumpian syntax. The vagueness of his remarks suggests that the businessman-turned-president lacks experience in dealing diplomacy and the complexities of the issues at hand in the Middle East. For his part, Netanyahu has no reason to worry. To know that Washington has taken the idea of a separate Palestinian state off the table is nirvana. Trump’s plea to hold back “a bit” on building new, or expanding old, colonies is a meaningless off-the-cuff request.
And the status quo – a 50-year-old military occupation with carte blanche – is fine by all manner of expansionist, messianic Jews. Indeed, from Israel’s perspective, it would be irrational to change anything at this time because Israel is sitting pretty. Since 1993, that is, since the signing of the Oslo agreement that year and the establishment soon after that of the Palestinian National Authority the cost of occupation to Israel has been nil in blood and treasure. The occupation, after all, was being funded by others, in this case international donors. Last week, Nathan Thrall, an analyst at the International Crisis Group, was quoted by the New York Times, as saying: “Israel has a captive market for its goods, it pockets several percent from all of the taxes it collects for the Authority, and the levels of violence since the end of the second intifada have been very low.”
The rabbit and fox proverb
And the lesson learnt from all this? The lesson learnt from all this may be found in a very appropriate French proverb. It says: “If you’re a rabbit, you don’t invite a fox over for dinner”.
This is exactly what PLO leaders did when they went to Oslo in 1993 to sign a historic agreement without a single expert in international law at their side to advise them about its most glaring pitfall – the failure to include a clause there stipulating a block on colony-building or colony expansion while talks were underway. Now most land in the West Bank is not contiguous, and 85 percent of it in East Jerusalem is under Israeli control. This is a bleak future indeed that will leave Palestinians in the dust – unless they stand up instead of waiting for Godot or for Washington to deliver them from evil.

Did Trump offer Putin sanctions relief?

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim/Al Arabiya/February 17/17
Gen. Michael Flynn was the first sacrificial lamb of the Trump administration. But behind the gory details of this scandal, there lies a question which nobody seems to be asking: how much of Gen. Flynn’s actions did President-elect Trump know about, and when? Let us quickly recap the situation: at the end of December, President Obama put another layer of sanctions on Russia for its meddling in the US election – a charge that Russia denies, but for which there is as good corroborating evidence coming out of the US intelligence community as you can hope for. On the very same day that the sanctions were announced, it later emerged, Gen. Flynn had been on the phone with the Russian ambassador in Washington no fewer than five times. Coincidentally or not, Russia then did not retaliate to the new sanctions. This is completely out of character for the Russians. And Gen. Flynn had since been appointed National Security Adviser to the President, when President Trump moved into the White House. Gen. Flynn has previously denied the phone calls. Then he admitted that some phone calls happened, but denied their content. Unfortunately for Gen. Flynn, the ambassador’s phone was, naturally, tapped by the American intelligence agencies and the transcript of the exact content of the calls emerged. Gen. Flynn did not, strictly speaking, “negotiate” with the Russians to not retaliate to the sanctions. Rather, he just gave every assurance that relations between the United States and Russia would be very different once Donald Trump took office. Which is to say that President Obama’s sanctions would be pointless, and they would not warrant a diplomatic response. Gen. Flynn should be thankful for being relieved of his duties, because much of the heat will not be taken off him, as it moves on to the other catastrophe-prone members of the presidential team
Critical issues
These events raise several critical issues. First, Gen. Flynn communicated with a foreign power on matters of US foreign policy without any authorization by the acting executive of the United States. This is illegal according to the Logan Act (1799), which prohibits citizens to negotiate on behalf of the United States with foreign powers without authorization. The likelihood that Gen. Flynn will be prosecuted for this is negligible, not least because nobody has ever been prosecuted under the Act, but through his behaviour, Gen. Flynn had painted big crosshairs on his head for the Democratic opposition to the Trump administration, and thus became baggage for Trump. Though to be fair, Gen. Flynn should be thankful for being relieved of his duties, because much of the heat will not be taken off him, as it moves on to the other catastrophe-prone members of the presidential team. Secondly, and a point that should not be overlooked, Gen. Flynn briefed in direct opposition to the acting Commander-in-Chief, and undermined the stated position of the Government of the United States. If he acted on his own, it was treason. Luckily for Gen. Flynn, he is retired and thus no longer a member of the military hierarchy, or he would have been lined up for court-martial.
Unconstitutional intervention?
But thirdly, what if Gen. Flynn did this at the behest of the President-elect Trump? If President-elect Trump directed Gen. Flynn to speak to the Russians, then this was an unconstitutional intervention from the incoming President. In the words of Chris Christie, “the United States only has one President at a time”.
This would be instant grounds for impeachment. And one suspects that if the President had been a Democrat, the impeachment hearings would have already started. But even if Trump only found about it later, it is unlikely that he only heard about it now. In all likelihood, he knew about this before the inauguration and proceeded to reward Gen. Flynn for his treason with the position of National Security Advisor. It will be interesting to see what becomes of Gen. Flynn now that the ruse was discovered, and he no longer enjoys the protection of the President. Even more interesting will be what President Trump will do. Will he wash his hands off the situation and direct the Attorney General to prosecute Michael Flynn? Can he still afford politically a thaw in relations with Russia which might indicate that he did, in fact, coordinate with the Russians before taking office? Whatever happens, I don’t imagine we’ve heard the last of this.

Trump and the territories
Ophir Falk/Ynetnews/February 17/17
Op-ed: Most disputed land in Judea and Samaria is barren and unpopulated by either Jews or Arabs. Until the title to that territory is negotiated and finalized,
If Jews are asked to stop building homes in West Bank, Arabs should be asked as well, otherwise—it’s racism.
“… While we don’t believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal. ….The Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussions, including with Prime Minister Netanyahu when he visits with President Trump later this month.”—The White House, Office of the Press Secretary. February 2, 2017.
After eight long Obama years, it is heartening to hear the White House declare that it does not see existing settlements as an obstacle to peace. This substantial statement acknowledges the often-forgotten fact that the century-old conflict with the Palestinians began well before the 1967 Six-Day War, and the subsequent settlements built on the biblical landscape of Judea and Samaria (aka the territories). The White House’s concern, however, that new settlements or the significant expansion of existing ones may not be beneficial for the prospects of peace also has merit and should be addressed appropriately.
The rationale for limiting Israeli construction in the territories is clear: Such new settlement construction or expansion of existing ones may jeopardize the final border to be set between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. Yet such a suggestion has yet to be demanded of the same neighbors: If Jews are expected to limit construction in the territories, Arabs should be expected to do the same.
The first step in resetting negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is not a freeze on Jewish settlements, but rather a basic and candid declaration by both sides to recognize one another (ie Israel as the Jewish state) and to reinstate “reciprocity” into the process. A term Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightfully takes pride in introducing to the process during his first term as prime minister now needs to be a cornerstone in catalyzing the stagnant peace process.
Before establishing his policy, US President Donald Trump should understand that Israel considers Judea and Samaria part of the historic Jewish homeland just as the Palestinians view the West Bank as part of a future Palestinian state. That premise is problematic since the West Bank and Judea and Samaria are one and the same. Jews have a right to live and have lived in Judea and Samaria for millennia—just look to the Bible, history, and indisputable archaeological evidence. However, those in the Israeli political Right who contest Netanyahu and complain about his lack of lust to annex territories should note that Menachem Begin rightfully annexed the Golan Heights and officially reunited Jerusalem only after completely withdrawing from the Sinai. Today, there is no ripeness for further unilateral withdrawals or substantial annexations.
On the Palestinian side, over a million Arabs living in the West Bank regard it as their home. The question is whether Arab rights to build in a village called Ras Atia near the Israeli town of Rosh Ha’ayin outweigh Jewish rights to build in ancient Shilo not far from Nablus. Do Arab building rights in Naalin, near Modiin, outweigh Jewish building rights in Beit El, near Ramallah? Not if reciprocity is to be applied objectively.
Most of the disputed land in the “territories” is barren and unpopulated by either Jews or Arabs. The title to that territory needs to be negotiated and finalized. Until then and for the sake of reciprocity, if Jews are asked to stop building homes, Arabs should be required to do the same; limiting Jews while giving Arabs a free hand is not reciprocity—it’s racism.