Luke: Oh my God! No please no. You can’t send me to Israel, think about my career!
Prime Minister Hacker: Don’t be absurd. It’s an honor, Promotion!
Luke: But you’ll upset the Israelis They won’t want me they know I’m on the Arab’s side.
Prime Minister Hacker: I thought you were on our side?

Yes Prime Minister: A Victory for Democracy 1986

I’m old enough to remember when people scoffed when it was said that the Democrats didn’t care about Israel.

While the White House confirms that since the “Jerusalem Declaration” there has been a complete disconnect between the Palestinian Authority and the Trump administration, it turns out that the previous administration actually maintains contact with PA officials. Ma’ariv reported that former US Secretary of State John Kerry met in London with a close associate of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Hussein Agha, for a long and open conversation about a variety of topics. Agha apparently reported details of the conversation to senior PA officials in Ramallah. A senior PA official confirmed to Ma’ariv that the meeting took place.

During the conversation, according to the report, Kerry asked Agha to convey a message to Abbas and ask him to “hold on and be strong.” Tell him, he told Agha, “that he should stay strong in his spirit and play for time, that he will not break and will not yield to President Trump’s demands.” According to Kerry, Trump will not remain in office for a long time. It was reported that within a year there was a good chance that Trump would not be in the White House.

Can you imagine the outcry if Condi Rice met with the Israeli’s telling them not to make a deal just after Joe Biden met with the Palestinian authority?

According to the report, referring to the president, Kerry used derogatory terms and even worse. Kerry offered to help create an alternative peace initiative and promised to help garner international support, among others, of Europeans, Arab states and the international community. Kerry hinted that many in the American establishment, as well as in American intelligence, are dissatisfied with Trump’s performance and the way he leads America. He surprised his interlocutor by saying he was seriously considering running for president in 2020. When asked about his advanced age, he said he was not much older than Trump and would not have an age problem.

I’m old enough to remember when such acts by a previous administration to undermine the current one were considered unthinkable and would be universally condemned.  I suspect however that our current media will at best ignore this story or at worst celebrate it.

Via Elder of Ziyon who says:

John Kerry is acting to undermine his president and US national interests, apparently in a delusional effort set himself up for another presidential run. He is giving support for Abbas’ intransigence.

Kerry actually believes that he is the messiah who can bring peace, and he is willing to undercut his own country’s diplomatic efforts to do so.

This is even though his efforts in the past showed that Abbas is the one who is not interested in peace. Kerry knows this as well as anyone. Yet now we know that Kerry is actually encouraging Abbas to be intransigent, to act against the wishes of not only the US but much of the Arab world, and to continue to hold his own people hostage in order to avoid negotiations and compromises for peace.

It’s long past pretending that the Obama administration was on Israel’s side, I’m wondering if it’s Is it OK to stop pretending that they were on our side. I’ll give the last word to the folks at Israellycool

No word yet on whether Kerry also instructed Abbas to tone down on the antisemitism. Because he didn’t.

When the United States officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reactions around the world were pretty much what everyone expected. Anti-Israel activists were up in arms from San Francisco to the EU. Muslim countries protested. Violence broke out in Israel. Mild objections came from some of our allies, including Saudi Arabia.

One of the most important reactions came from the Palestinians themselves who declared they would not negotiate for peace if the United States was involved. Surely the Trump administration knew this was likely, but they’ve been working on a peace agreement that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told European leaders he liked this weekend. Why work on a peace deal if one party isn’t going to acknowledge it? To answer this, we look back a couple of months to Mohammed bin Salman and Jared Kushner.

The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia met after an unannounced trip by President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law in October. It was widely reported their two days of face-to-face meetings were about an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. This made little sense at the time because Saudi Arabia has been in favor of such an agreement for a long time. There’s no need to send Kushner for intense meetings unless they had more to discuss. Some (including I) have speculated that one topic of discussion was the “corruption purge” that happened days after Kushner left the Kingdom. It makes sense to coordinate stories ahead of a controversial move to eliminate any opposition to the next King of Saudi Arabia. Could they have also discussed Saudi Arabia’s role in a peace agreement?

There is no evidence of this that’s not circumstantial, but it’s easy to connect the dots once we look at it all as a whole. Saudi Arabia may be the perfect proxy for a Trump peace agreement to be presented to the Palestinians and Israelis. Netanyahu has already been told some of the details and seems potentially open to concessions in the agreement, a good sign if peace is to move forward. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will not work with the United States, but will likely work with the Saudis as a proxy.

All of this means the Saudis may end up being the key to Middle East peace. Even if it’s the Trump administration that creates the plan and sells it to the Israelis, it’s the Saudis who may actually end up brokering the deal. Keep an eye on this in the coming months. Chances are strong this will move quickly once it’s officially rolling.

Jerusalem Capital of Israel Trump

Sir Humphrey Well I’m sure it’s a question of us maintaining our relationship the Arabs.  The power of Islam.  [lowering his tone]  Oil Supplies.

PM James Hacker:  Humphrey I’m talking about what’s right and wrong.

Sir Humphrey:  Well don’t let the foreign office hear you.

Yes Prime Minister A Victory for Democracy 1986

Don Corleone: And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you.

The Godfather 1972

One might think Donald Trump’s propensity to keep promises that he made to the voters who he considers his customers, enough of a reason for his decision to finally recognize the reality of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel when all of his predecessors failed to do so.  But even ignoring that character trait of Trumps to see things as they are there are two factors that make this the most opportune time for the US to make this move.

Fracking

Since the 1970’s the Arab nations have held their control over oil prices over our head as a club to restrain us from serious opposition.  Their ability to increase energy prices and hurt the US economy has been a factor for presidents from Nixon to Clinton to consider.  Only a massive attack like 9/11 was enough to override those considerations and act.

However the Fracking booms has changed the equation.

With the US now able to supply it’s oil need to the point that we are a net exporter combined the ability of US Frackers who have become more and more efficient, to add to production if prices start to increase suddenly trumps any attempt by Arab nations to push us around on the basis of oil, and that’s not even considering Trump’s actions to enable pipelines and drilling within the country.

Put simply the Arabs ability to mess with our energy supply is now a thing of the past and without the Obama administration trying to regulate Fracking away it’s unlike to return in our lifetimes.

Iran:  

Fracking takes away the ability of the Arabs to muscle us but the rise of Iran and the advancement of the Iranian nuclear program (ironically aided by the Obama administration)  has suddenly given states like Saudi Arabia , Jordan and others completely dependent on the US (and Israel) to keep Iran in check.

As none of them are willing or even able to hold off Iran on their own the US and Israel can name their price for that protection.

So while Palestinians will the Jerusalem decision as a justification to commit terrorism and murder Jews (as opposed to all the other reasons they have used for such terror for years) the reality those same Arab nations, while giving lip service to these Palestinian moves will quietly refrain from any concrete or meaningful action because they know that American and Israeli power is the only thing keeping them from becoming vassal states of Iran.

And with countries from both Africa and Europe already following suit the genie is out of the bottle for good.

And that doesn’t even count the possibility that Trump might be willing to cut the purse strings that keep the corrupt Palestinian authority in power.  Or his willingness to call Arab empty threats and bluffs.

Trump understand negotiating from strength and while he has that strength and leverage he’s going to use it.

That’s what a leader does.

LAYOFF UPDATE:  So far we have reached 20% of my goal since yesterday’s layoff.  (full story here) if you want to help us reach that goal please consider hitting DaTipJar here




You can also help out by buying my book Hail Mary the Perfect Protestant (and Catholic) Prayer and recommending it to your friends. Using scripture as it’s basis it explains why the Hail Mary is a prayer our protestant brothers should embrace rather than reject.

Every 1,000 paperback copies sold at $6.99 can replace a couple of week’s pay.    And of course it would make an excellent Gift for the person of faith on your Christmas list.

Finally the math of my now former job is pretty simple. $440 a week comes to $1892 a month over the course of a year. (440 x 4.3) If you divide that by 20 that comes out to 94.6 meaning if I can get 95 new subscribers by the end of this month. I can permanently replace my warehouse job and do this full time.

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Update 2:  Now at over 110% of our goal!  Thanks so much also corrected a spellcheck error that Steve MacDonald of Granite Grok noticed “Fracking” not “Franking (which is the practice of members of congress sending mail via the gov to voters in their district).

With all the scandals raging from the dossier to the huge budget to Obama’s slush fund, it’s time for some good news coming from Washington DC. That news came last night from Vice President Mike Pence as he announced the United States will directly assist faith-based groups actively supporting Christians and other religious minorities whose lives have been destroyed by the Islamic State.

The other good news in the announcement is that we will no longer rely on the United Nations to do their job in this regard.

“Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly,” Pence said at a dinner organized by In Defense of Christians. “And tonight, it is my privilege to announce that President Trump has ordered the State Department to stop funding ineffective relief efforts at the United Nations. And from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through [the United States Aid Agency.]”

This has long been a problem that many of us have wanted solved even before the Islamic State started displacing Christians across the Middle East. Aid dollars sent to ineffective United Nations programs have been completely wasted with no tangible benefits. Organizations on the ground that aren’t pet projects of the United Nations have much better opportunity and experience with helping in these issues. Now, they’ll get the support from the United States they need.

It’s conspicuous that this announcement came from the Vice President. President Trump is currently in the middle of other issues from North Korea and Iran to tax reform and the opioid epidemic. It’s important at times like these that the Vice President be more than just a backup quarterback. Some issues are important enough for the White House’s attention though not as timely as other issues the President must address. This may be the perfect opportunity for Pence to take the lead on a project that needs him.

What would Americans do if other countries and the United Nations told us our actual capital was Los Angeles? We can say it’s Washington DC all we want, but shouldn’t we just accept it if the international community decides they want Los Angeles to be the capital? Of course not.

This idea seems to be lost on those who refuse to acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Now, President Trump can be counted as one of those people who, despite very clear campaign promises, has decided to do what every U.S. President has done for years. He’s proactively not moving the U.S. Embassy there.

It’s important to note that this is an active decision. If he had done nothing, it would have been on the State Department to make the move immediately or lose funding. Instead, the President waived a law requiring the move. This doesn’t jibe with a simple campaign promise.

“We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem,” he told an extremely excited crowd.

As Jared Kushner, Reince Priebus, and others in his administration would note, any such move would do damage to America’s relationship with Muslim nations in the Middle East. They claim East Jerusalem as theirs, often claiming that it’s part of their religious history. What they won’t tell you is that it isn’t mentioned in the Quran. Not once. They also aren’t interested in the fact that it was claimed as the Jewish capital over a millennium-and-a-half before Islam was even established.

None of that’s important when feathers might be ruffled, right?

The notion that this is a temporary move is ridiculous. There’s never going to be a good time to keep this campaign promise. Never.

Some might throw up a silly argument that we don’t need to mess with international affairs, that Trump’s “America First” pledge supersedes all other promises. They might even say we can’t afford it (though we can somehow afford everything under the sun in the spending agreement DC just passed), but that’s even sillier. Trump could say, “We’re going to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and Israel’s going to pay for it.”

They would. In a heartbeat.

The list of broken promises is already piling up almost as quickly as President Obama’s did when he took office in 2009. The difference is that President Trump is passing on some of the easiest. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem is a layup. Whether it’s his advisers, some backroom deals he made with Muslim countries, or influence from “the orb” that’s making him backtrack, this is not what we were promised when we put him in the White House.

Today, President Trump had what a majority of Americans would consider to be a successful foreign policy day. His tone when speaking about terrorism to the core of the Muslim world in the Middle East was generally approved; the left liked that he didn’t go off the rails and the right witnessed a breath of fresh air after eight years of failure to even acknowledge the problem.

Not everyone was excited by his message, but conservatives should be able to agree that he sounded exponentially better than President Obama. He didn’t call it “radical Islamic terrorism” but he wasn’t making excuses for them, either. Most importantly, he urged Muslim countries themselves to take the lead on expelling and extinguishing the threat; there were no Neocon or Establishment hawk leanings towards police action by America.

Now, his and the world’s attentions turn to Israel where he has the greatest foreign policy opportunity as well as the biggest potential letdown for those of us who consider Israel to be our most important strategic ally. His trip to the Jewish state will set in motion his agenda in the Middle East. After success in Saudi Arabia, any failure from a diplomatic perspective will be magnified. There are already people on the right attacking his implicit support for Saudi Arabia’s most heinous activities. If he doesn’t follow that up with an equally strong (or stronger) level of support for Israel, the comparisons to Obama’s policies on the Middle East will grow louder.

Will he move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem? Preliminary reports tell us they won’t, but this is President Trump so you never know what will happen until it does.

Can he avoid public conflict over allegedly revealing sensitive Israeli intelligence to the Russians? We can assume any dismay from the Israelis or reassurances from the President will happen behind closed doors, so this is likely a non-topic during this trip as far as the public is concerned.

Pre-1967 borders have suddenly entered the equation since the White House released a video showing Israel without the “occupied” territories as part of their lands. This may be played off as an intern’s mistake or it may become an issue.

The BDS movement will be discussed. It’s an issue that should bring unification between the administration and Israeli leaders, particularly as he will undoubtedly point out how the movement hurts Muslims as much or more than it hurts Jews.

Lastly, will there be any talks of a two-state solution? If it happens during the Israel trip, it will push this portion of his agenda to the forefront and we can expect repercussions from many on the American right as well as an adversarial situation in Israel itself. This is unlikely, but again, it’s Trump so you never know.

If President Trump makes it out of Saudi Arabia and Israel with both allies feeling good about their relationship with America, Trump will be set up for success. If Israel turns south on the President, this could be the start of a foreign policy disaster that will likely spiral throughout his term(s).

Today, a truce has been brokered in Syria that will hopefully turn the corner on the worst humanitarian crisis in modern history. With the country torn to pieces, refugees have been flooding into Europe and some parts of the Middle East, creating a dangerous situation for the entire region. America, under the leadership of President Obama, was not a part of the talks.

America, under the leadership of President Obama, didn’t deserve to be part of the talks.

Let’s take a quick look at recent history in Syria. It was a chain reaction of horrible mistakes. First, Obama drew his “red line” of chemical and biological weapons, claiming that if Bashar al Assad used them it would change the calculus for the United States to take action. Assad crossed the red line. Obama didn’t take action, letting the window of opportunity close before Russia stepped in.

Then, Obama went with the plan of arming and training Syrian rebels to take on Assad’s army. As many will recall, much of the support that Obama gave to enemies of Assad ended up being transferred to the Islamic State and other radical Islamic militants. They were supposed to be the force that drove back the Islamic State and got rid of Assad. Instead, they were neutered from the start by the poor plan before being obliterated by Russia, Iran, and Syria.

Finally, Obama attempted to negotiate peace while bickering with Russia over who would be involved. He tried to work through Turkey to get one done. His “smart power” policy would share the credit for cleaning up the mess he created. Instead, Turkey found a better partner in Russia and they got it done without him.

With 22 days before Obama is out of office, it’s fitting that he’s been excluded from cleaning up the mess that he created. As a parent, I’ve used with incredible efficiency the non-involvement tactic when the kids leave a mess behind. I draw their attention to the mess they made, then I proceed to clean it. When they offer to help, I tell them that I’ll take care of it because if they were concerned about the mess, they would have cleaned it up before. The guilt they feel as they watch their mess being cleaned has more of a lasting impact than making them clean it up themselves. Today, they clean up their messes before I see them.

Obama is being treated like a child by the international community because he’s acted like a foreign policy neophyte for eight years. He cannot take credit for fixing Syria and will get most of the blame for allowing the situation to explode. America is meant to be strong, to lead. Obama wanted to lead from behind. Instead, he’s being left behind. The result is a world that is much worse off today than when he became President.

The Roman ruins at Palmyra, Syria, before the self-proclaimed Islamic State took control

Syria was always one of my favorite places in the world—an amazing mix of ancient sites that even despots couldn’t destroy until now.

When I worked for Newsweek and ABC News in the Middle East in the 1970s and 1980s, I spent many days there.

It was difficult to report in the police state of President Hafez al-Assad, who ruled the country until his death in 2000. He was a bad guy—perhaps even worse than his son Bashar, who now heads the country.

Nevertheless, Syria, the country, was always a nice place to visit. Damascus is considered the longest continuously inhabited city in the world—founded more than 3,000 years ago.

When you go to the old market or souk, you travel along the road where St. Paul was converted. Yes, it’s that road to Damascus. Nearby is thought to be the grave of St. John the Baptist.

The souk is one of the most amazing in the Middle East. I bought my first Persian carpet there, along with numerous copper and brass tables, plates and tea services from “Cha Cha,” a Syrian trader who was a favorite of the foreign community. He even found an old Russian samovar that still has a special place in our home.

The Roman ruins at Palmyra are among the most beautiful in the Middle East, with more than 150,000 tourists visiting the site before the civil war.

Some Arabic dishes in Syria have a distinctly different taste, mainly from a special red pepper from Aleppo, the city now in ruins from the civil war.

I worked on a variety of stories in Syria—almost always under the watchful eye of government censors and secret police. The last one was more than 30 years ago—an investigation of Syria’s connection to the 1983 attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut that left 241 servicemen dead.

In 2011, I gave a speech in Beirut to a group of journalists. I argued that the civil war—only a few months old then—required U.S. boots on the ground. More important, journalists needed to document the atrocities of the Assad regime without any concern for objectivity, fairness and balance. Simply put, there were not two sides of the story—only the need to stop the brutality of government.

Two prominent journalists—one from The Washington Post and another from National Public Radio—disagreed with me. I hope they realize now how wrong they were to oppose the involvement of U.S. troops and the need to change from the neutral stance of journalists in covering the civil war.

In 2013 President Obama drew a line in the sand in Syria–a line that was quickly swept away by inaction.

Most people see the horror of what has happened in Syria as a result of the atrocities of the Assad regime and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. I’m glad I still have some good memories left.


Christopher Harper worked as a journalist for many years, including nearly a decade in the Middle East for Newsweek and ABC News. He teaches media law.

Last year I noted a plan being advanced for 24/7 cameras at the Temple Mount in order to substantiate Palestinian claims of Israel violating agreements concerning it which the Jordanians, John Kerry and the Israelis agreed.

However for some reason our peaceful Palestinian who have been accusing Israel of misdeeds objected even though such cameras would allow any Jews violating said agreements to be caught in the act.

Of course the question was exactly who would be caught in what acts?

Another reason the Palestinians are opposed to King Abdullah’s idea is their fear that the cameras would expose that Palestinians have been smuggling stones, firebombs and pipe bombs into Al-Aqsa Mosque for the past two years. These are scenes at the PA, Hamas and the Islamic Movement do not want the world to see: they show who is really “contaminating” the Haram al-Sharif. Needless to say, no Jewish visitors have thus far been caught trying to smuggle such weapons into the holy site.

Well five months later the final verdict is in:

Following fierce palestinian protests and threats, Jordan said on Monday that it has abandoned its plan to install security cameras on the Temple Mount.

The decision was announced by Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour.

The security cameras were supposed to be installed on the Temple Mount in accordance with an agreement reached late last year between Israel and Jordan under the auspices of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Apparently the Palestinians were so opposed to cameras recording all the evil actions of Israelis and the peaceful non threatening nature of Palestinian actions at the temple mount that they distributed leaflets urging Palestinians to break the cameras if installed.

One might be shocked at the lack of transparency on the part of the Palestinians, of course that’s because I find their actions transparent in the extreme.

For almost my entire life I’ve been hearing that all it takes is some concessions from Israel and you will have peace in the middle east.

There is however a poll at Israel National News that suggests otherwise:

A new public opinion poll among the Arab residents of Judea, Samaria and Gaza found that an overwhelming majority supports continuing the ongoing terror wave to the bitter end.

The poll was conducted by the Watan Research Center between November 14-21 and included 1,167 Arab respondents.

A full 72% said they support continuing the “Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Intifada,” as it has been termed, until it achieves its “goals,” which they were later asked to define.

That refers to the series of fatal attacks on Jews that has been going on for the last two months.

At Elder of Ziyon Mike Lumish puts it in perspective

This is to say that 72 percent of Arabs who live within the Land of Israel believe that they have a religious-political imperative to send their kids into the streets with kitchen knives for the Allah-inspired purpose of murdering random Jews.
It does not matter the age of those Jews; a woman in her 80s, a child in her crib, it does not matter. Nor does it matter the personal beliefs of those Jews. All that matters is that, if you are to kill them – and you are, young Achmud – that they be Jewish.

 

Maybe it’s just me but I’d say it’s pretty had to make peace with people when the vast majority of them want you dead and are willing to sacrifice their kids to do it.

 

Another way of gaining perspective on this 72% figure is to understand that it also means that 72% of Arabs within Israel yearn for the genocide of the Jews. It can mean nothing else. If you believe that Allah wants you to send your children into the streets for the purpose of killing Jews then, ipso facto, you favor the genocide of the Jews.

There is no way to escape from that conclusion, now, is there?

 

Well that doesn’t mean that our friends on the left won’t try.

Why Israel doesn’t act accordingly frankly is beyond me, given the situation with ISIS there is never going to be a time where they can do more with less pushback from the west.