Tip Staff

  • Netanyahu says Israel is ‘systematically eliminating’ Hamas tunnel infrastructure

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    After the IDF attacked and destroyed a terror tunnel on Saturday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad “should not try” Israel. “We are systematically eliminating the tunnel infrastructure of Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” he said from India.

     

    Read full article on Jerusalem Online

  • TIP Applauds House Passage of Taylor Force Act

    TIP APPLAUDS HOUSE PASSAGE OF TAYLOR FORCE ACT; BILL TARGETS PA PAYMENTS TO TERRORISTS

    (WASHINGTON, D.C., December 5) – The Israel Project today applauded the U.S. House of Representatives for passing the bipartisan Taylor Force Act (H.R. 1164), legislation that would eliminate funding that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority if it continues to pay salaries to terrorists or their families.

    "The bipartisan measure passed today will send a very clear warning to the Palestinian Authority: the double-game is over and terrorism will not be tolerated, not in any form. Those who enable, inspire, or incite, will also pay a price,” TIP President Josh Block said.

    The bipartisan measure, which passed without objection on a simple voice vote, was adopted initially by the House Foreign Affairs Committee on November 15.

    The Taylor Force Act was named in honor of U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force, who was killed by a Palestinian terrorist in Tel Aviv last year.

    Attention now shifts to the Senate, where other versions of the legislation have been adopted in the Senate Foreign Relations and Appropriations Committees.

    “Today’s vote is another victory on the long road to holding the Palestinian Authority accountable for its actions,” Block added. “The PA cannot claim to be a legitimate partner for peace while simultaneously providing financial incentives to terrorists willing to commit murder and violence against innocent civilians.”

     

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  • TIP PRESIDENT JOSH BLOCK STATEMENT ON U.S. RECOGNITION OF JERUSALEM AS ISRAEL’S CAPITAL

    (WASHINGTON, D.C., December 6) – TIP CEO & President Josh Block issued the following statement today regarding President Trump’s speech recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital:

    The recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capital of Israel – the nation state of the Jewish people – is a welcome, long overdue acknowledgement of historic, religious and political realities, that enjoys broad bipartisan support across political lines in both the United States and Israel.

    The Jewish people's connection to Jerusalem spans an unbroken chain of more than two millennia and this U.S. administration's declaration is again an affirmation of this profound bond, acknowledged by Democratic and Republican administrations and successive congresses that dates back decades.

    In 1990, the House and Senate overwhelmingly adopted resolutions declaring that Jerusalem "is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel." In 1995, Congress reaffirmed this position with the passing of the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act.

    The city is the home of the Israeli government, parliament and high court. Shimon Peres, one of Israel’s founding fathers and a visionary for peace, is buried in Jerusalem. What is missing are the embassies of other nations to the state of Israel.

    Successive U.S. presidents vowed to change that and today’s speech represents the next logical step. The President is simply enacting the law.

    Charles Schumer, Senate Democratic Leader, stated in October 2017: “As someone who strongly believes that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, I am calling for the U.S. Embassy in Israel to be relocated to Jerusalem. Moving the embassy as soon as possible would appropriately commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification and show the world that the US definitively acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.”

    Likewise, Republicans have thrown their support behind the effort. “After thousands of years in exile, the Jewish people are finally back home. Home in the land of their ancestors, home in the land that so many have died fighting to defend, and home in their eternal united capital of Jerusalem never to be divided again,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in June.

    Moving the U.S. embassy is also a consensus view in Israel that enjoys broad support across the Israeli political spectrum, from the opposition Labor and Yesh Atid parties to the members of the country’s governing coalition.

    The administration decided to act at a critical time. Recent and continuous efforts at the United Nations to erase the connection of Jews to the birthplace of Judaism and the site of the First and Second Temples have been an insult to history. Earlier this year – on Independence Day in Israel – UNESCO approved a resolution denying Israeli claims to Jerusalem.

    Likewise, the Palestinians must realize that unilateralism will no longer be rewarded and that the only acceptable path forward is genuine peace negotiations. For too long, the embassy relocation has been delayed by threats of violence from leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Arab states. Incitement comes from the PA, which inspires terrorism and pays for murder. American Jewish leaders and diplomats must continue to make clear that U.S. policy will not be held captive to blackmail.

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  • US-Israel relationship is stronger than ever

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    The US-Israel relationship is “stronger than ever,” US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top advisor said Thursday in Tel Aviv at the top of a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Trump “is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in the area, and we really appreciate the commitment of the prime minister in engaging very thoughtfully and respectfully in the way the president has asked,” Kushner said.

    Read full article at The Jerusalem Post.


  • TIP Senior Fellow on Australian Broadcasting Corporation Discusses Barcelona Attacks

    Barcelona terrorist attack was a matter of 'when', not 'if'

    Speaking with AM's Samantha Donovan, Julie Lenarz says that Spain has been a hub for Islamic extremists for some time, with authorities arresting around 200 people on terrorism-related charges over the last two years. She says the Islamic State group has long threatened to 'retake' Spain, which was part of the Umayyad Caliphate of Damascus for nearly 800 years.

    Click here to listen to the full interview.


  • TIP Senior Fellow Op-Ed in The Telegraph on Barcelona Terror Attack

    Targeting Barcelona was sadly predictable - Spain holds both historic and modern importance to jihadists

    By Julie Lenarz

    18 August 2017

    Click here to read full article 

    The uncensored amateur videos taken in the immediate aftermath of yesterday’s terrorist attack make for gruesome viewing. Victims, dead and injured, young and old, scattered across the pavement of Barcelona’s busy Las Rambas street, lying in pools of blood, in a perverse spectacle reminiscent of the road to hell.

    The horrific scene was all-too familiar in Europe, which has dealt with a series of car-ramming incidents over recent months, such as in Nice, Berlin and London. And yesterday, Islamic extremists claimed another 13 innocent souls and ruined the lives of many others caught up in the atrocity claimed by ISIL in a statement published by its news agency Amaq.

    Spain has been spared Islamic-inspired terrorism since March 2004, when four bombs exploded on commuter trains in Madrid, leaving dead 191 people. The attack was carried out by an Al-Qaeda affiliated cell.  

    What happened in Barcelona, however, was not a freak incident. The writing on the wall has been there for years. No, not because of foreign policy often cited as a legitimate grievance of why we see “backlash” on our streets, despite ISIL writing in its magazine Dabiq in 2016 that “even if you were to stop bombing us … we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam.”

    On the contrary, Spain has kept a low profile and avoided foreign policy adventures since the departure of former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar in 2004, a close ally of the United States in “the war on terror” post-9/11. Under his leadership, Spain took part in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a decision for which Aznar paid a heavy price. Following the Madrid attacks, he lost in an election to José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who immediately ordered the withdrawal of Spanish troops.

    Spain has erred on the side of caution ever since and as countries around the world stepped-up their roles in a US-led coalition against ISIL in Iraq, the country remained a reluctant partner. But just because Spain had little appetite to confront ISIL, the group still showed interest in Spain. 

    The country has been identified as a key target on extremist websites for historical reasons, given that Muslims ruled in Spain for close to eight centuries until 1492, a fact that informs ISIL’s central narrative in the fight against the “crusaders”. In January 2016, the terrorist organization issued a chilling video threatening to launch attacks in Spain and to reconquer the territory of the Iberian Peninsula that previously was part of the Islamic caliphate. “We will recover our land from the invaders”, ISIL vowed in the video message.

    As ISIL continues to lose ground in Iraq and Syria, the group has increasingly focused on attacks abroad, including efforts to recruit supporters in Spain. In a report published in February 2017, the Spanish government warned that “ISIS has been publishing in Spanish, which means an increase in the risk of its influence on radicals living in our country”, adding that the group last summer “launched a campaign to hire Spanish translators, which suggests a growing interest in attracting Spanish-speaking foreign fighters”.

    An exact number is not available, but statistics show that up to 100 Spanish nationals have so far  travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the terrorist group on the battlefield. According to Spanish authorities, 181 alleged jihadists have been detained since 2015, with Barcelona being identified as a hotspot accounting for 30 percent of all foreign, mostly Moroccan, jihadists arrested across Spain, the majority of which were men aged between 20 and 34. Only 10 percent of suspects can be classified as “lone wolves”, with nine out of ten arrested individuals operating as part of a terrorist network, predominately ISIL but also groups in North Africa.

    Crucially, of those arrested on charges of terrorist activities between January 2013 and November 2015, over 40 percent were born in Spain. A Spanish passport belonging to a person of Moroccan origin has also reportedly been found at the scene of yesterday’s attack.

    The circumstances surrounding the incident in Barcelona therefore fit perfectly into the pattern that we see unfolding across Europe. Angry young men, many of them homegrown, radicalised online, promised honour and glory by a vicious terrorist organisation with only its own interest at heart. That interest is not so much informed by our actions but rather eminently shaped by a skewed historical narrative and fascist ideology.

    ISIL could not be clearer about its intention: “Even if you were to stop fighting us, your best-case scenario in a state of war would be that we would suspend our attacks against you … before eventually resuming our campaigns”, they wrote in Dabiq. “So in the end, you cannot bring an indefinite halt to our war against you. At most, you could only delay it temporarily.”

    It is an uncomfortable truth to accept for it sheds light on the real magnitude of the threat that we face, above all the admission that the options we have to stop, or at least contain, the global Islamist insurgency are limited. There is no common ground, no basis for negotiation with people that strap suicide belts around children to usher in an era of Islamic theocracy in which life as we know it would no longer exist.


  • The Israel Project Applauds Kansas for Passing Bipartisan Anti-discrimination Legislation

    The Israel Project Applauds Kansas for Passing Bipartisan Anti-discrimination Legislation

    (WASHINGTON, D.C., June 3) – The Israel Project today applauded the Kansas state legislature for passing a bill that opposes discriminatory boycotts of Israel.

    The Kansas Senate today passed HB 2409, a bill that prohibits the state from participating in any boycotts of Israel or entering into contracts with companies that participate in boycotts. The measure passed 28-9, making Kansas the 21st state to pass such a measure.

    In April, The House passed a similar bill 116-9. The bipartisan legislation now heads to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who is expected to sign it into law.

    “Discrimination is wrong, no matter who it affects,” said Josh Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project. “The whole community in Kansas should be applauded for standing up against anti-Semitism,” he said. “This legislation is a major, concrete step against bigotry and hate.”

    “Though BDS poses as a human rights movement, in truth, it is an attempt to sow anti-Israel and anti-Semitic prejudice,” Block said.

    Hiding behind laudable rhetoric on human rights, dignity and freedom, boycott advocates single out the Jewish state for special punishment. In fact, Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that universally protects these values.

    “We congratulate the lawmakers of Kansas, who saw through this attempt at deception,” Block said. “In particular, we want to thank Rep. William Sutton, Sen. Bud Estes, and Sen. Tom Hawk for their thoughtful leadership and dedication.”

                                                                                                     -30-

    About The Israel Project

    The Israel Project (TIP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that provides factual information about Israel and the Middle East to the press, policymakers and the public. Founded in 2003, TIP works in multiple languages to provide real-time background information, images, maps, audio, video, graphics and direct access to newsmakers. To learn more about TIP, visit http://www.theisraelproject.org


  • The Israel Project Applauds North Carolina for Passing Bipartisan Anti-BDS Legislation

    The Israel Project Applauds North Carolina for Passing Bipartisan Anti-BDS Legislation; Tar Heel State Becomes #22 to Stand up Against Anti-Semitism

    (WASHINGTON, D.C., June 28) – The Israel Project today applauded the North Carolina state legislature for passing a bill that opposes discriminatory boycotts of Israel.

    The North Carolina House of Representatives today passed Senate Bill 329, a bill that prohibits the state from participating in boycotts aimed against Israel, or engaging in any contracts with companies that participate in boycotts.  The measure passed the House 96-19.  A previous vote taken in the state senate passed 45-3.

    North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is expected to sign the measure into law.

    “The whole community in North Carolina should be applauded for standing up against anti-Semitism,” said Josh Block, President and CEO of The Israel Project.

    “And make no mistake, though BDS poses as a human rights movement, in truth, it is nothing more than an attempt to sow anti-Israel hate,” he said. “Hiding behind laudable rhetoric on human rights, boycott advocates single out the Jewish state for special punishment. In fact, Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that universally protects these values.”

    “We congratulate the lawmakers of Kansas for standing up and doing the right thing” Block said.  “We also want to extend special thanks to Representatives Stephen M. Ross and Ken Goodman and Senators Rick Gunn, Andrew Brock and Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue.”

    This victory follows the passage of similar bills in 21 other states across the country.

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    About The Israel Project

    The Israel Project (TIP) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that provides factual information about Israel and the Middle East to the press, policymakers and the public. Founded in 2003, TIP works in multiple languages to provide real-time background information, images, maps, audio, video, graphics and direct access to newsmakers. To learn more about TIP, visit http://www.theisraelproject.org


  • TIP Senior Fellow Op-Ed in International Business Times on Hamas’ Role in Gaza’s Suffering

    Hamas is behind Gaza's suffering, not Israel

    No work, no water, and now no light: The oppression of Gazan people is the bloodline of Hamas.

    By Julie Lenarz

    June 21, 2017

    Click here to read full article.

    Gaza's sole power plant shut down on last week for lack of funds, leaving the nearly two million residents of the coastal enclave with only three hours of electricity a day.

    The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza blame each other for the energy shortage. After multiple failed reconciliation attempts between the two parties, the Palestinian Authority is now flexing its muscles in an aggressive push to reassert some control over Gaza, which Hamas seized a decade ago in a violent takeover.

    The standoff has left Israel in a tough spot, having to choose between giving tactical support to Hamas by keeping the fuel running or risking a humanitarian crisis that could trigger an upsurge in violence. Last time Palestinian reconciliation collapsed, Hamas members kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June 2014.

    All of this is a tragedy. But it is a tragedy deliberately manufactured by Hamas that easily could have been avoided. Hamas is doing again what it has done a hundred times before: sacrificing the well-being of Gaza's civilian population on the altar of cynical political ambitions.

    Hamas could, if it wanted to, pay for the lack of electricity and ease the suffering immediately. According to data from the Hamas Finance Ministry, the group collects at least $15m (£11m) a month in taxation. But instead of paying for education, medical services and electricity, Hamas invests millions of dollars a year in its military infrastructure and preparations for war, including smuggling tunnels and rockets. 

    Why? Because it is a terrorist organisation and terrorists, as their name says, live off terrorising people. Despite its claims to the contrary, the last thing Hamas cares about is the welfare of the Palestinians in the impoverished seaside territory.

    The bitterness and hardship of Gaza's residents is the bloodline of Hamas. It is the fertile ground on which its extremist Islamist ideology flourishes and from which it recruits its fighters. The same rationale is guiding Hamas in confiscating food aid and blankets and robbing fuel stockpiles from hospitals: the more misery the better.

    The same rockets, bombs and rifles that are killing Israeli civilians are being used by Hamas to terrorise and oppress its own population 

    No wonder the Gazan population is growing increasingly agitated as conditions worsen. Gaza's economy lies in ruins. In its decade-long rule, Hamas has offered its people preciously little but destruction and death. 

    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees paints a grim picture. Gaza's unemployment rate is at 43.9 per cent - the highest in the world. Over the last 20 years, real per capita income has fallen by 31 per cent. Over two-thirds of the population receive social assistance and nearly 40 percent of them fall below the poverty line. The water is dangerously polluted. And now the lights have gone out.

    Since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2004 and Hamas took control of the Strip, it has become increasingly evident that the only way to achieve meaningful and enduring peace is to disarm the group and dismantle its military infrastructure. 

    The same rockets, bombs and rifles that are killing Israeli civilians are being used by Hamas to terrorise and oppress its own population. The residents of Gaza have been abused by the group as human shields and Hamas has exploited civilian infrastructure as deceptive sanctuaries to provoke an Israeli response.

    And all the while the people of Gaza have been humiliated, threatened and had to fear for their lives and the lives of their children as a price to pay for the cynical political agenda of Hamas, its leadership has ruled with an iron fist from the comfort of lavish hotels in Qatar where they reside in exile.

    Hamas warned of renewed violence if Israel acquiesces to the demands of the Palestinian Authority and reduces its electricity supply for the Gaza Strip. If the current crisis spirals out of control, there is only one party to blame: Hamas. 

    Julie Lenarz is the Executive Director of the Human Security Centre and a Senior Fellow at The Israel Project. She tweets at @MsJulieLenarz


  • TIP Senior Policy Analyst in MinnPost on BDS and the Double Standard it Creates

    Boycotting Israel for political purposes is unfair and creates a double standard

    By Jacob Millner | 07:00 am

    MINNPOST

    August 4, 2017

    Click here to read the full article.

    BDS not only seeks to do damage to the Jewish state, but also would do grave harm to the U.S.

    Individual states, including Minnesota, have been quick to pass legislation aimed to push back against the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) effort. To date, 21 states and New York, which enacted an Executive Order, have some form of anti-Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) legislation enshrined in law. In just about two years, since Illinois passed the first-in-the-nation anti-BDS legislation in May of 2015, numerous other states have followed suit. This has been one of the most successful efforts in recent legislative memory.

    These bills call out BDS efforts directed at Israel for what they are — a form of economic hate warfare and discrimination aimed at the lone Jewish state in the world. Additionally, this successful legislative effort has prospered from the East Coast to the West Coast, from north to south, and in blue, red, and purple states. In a nation seemingly divided on everything, legislatures in New Jersey, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Florida, and many more have all forcefully, and with strong bipartisan support, decided that BDS is hate, and states will not tolerate or condone taxpayer dollars going to subsidize discrimination.

    In February, Republican Minnesota State Rep. Ron Kresha said, “It's pretty widely accepted that discriminating against the Jewish people ... is not a practice the state of Minnesota should engage in.” His assessment was shared by Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who wrote in an op-ed, “My order ensures that no state agency or authority will engage in or promote any investment activity that would further the harmful and discriminatory BDS campaign.” And Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott added as he signed this bill, “As Israel’s No. 1 trading partner in the United States, Texas is proud to reaffirm its support for the people of Israel and we will continue to build on our historic partnership. ... Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally.” 

    Double standard should not be tolerated 

    What the comments made by Kresha, Cuomo, and Abbott all have in common is the understanding, correctly, that boycotting Israel for political purposes is unfair and creates a double standard, which the U.S. State Department has deemed anti-Semitism. I do not use this term lightly. There is legitimate criticism of Israel, her government, and her policies. However, the singling out of the lone Jewish nation-state for divestment and sanction under the guise of “opposing occupation,” while not addressing the hundreds of other territorial disputes around the world, is a form of double standard that should not and cannot be tolerated.

    French President Emmanuel Macron echoed this exact sentiment recently when he stated, “We will never surrender to the messages of hate; we will not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.” 

    This follows U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, who recently said that “The denial of the right of the State of Israel to exist is one of the modern forms of anti-Semitism. “[Israel] should be treated like any other member state.”

    If one takes the time to actually listen to the words of the leaders of the insidious BDS movement, it becomes even clearer. The clarion call “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” says everything you need to know. No more Israel. No more Jewish state. And those who say they are solely fighting the post-1967 “occupation” should ask themselves why BDS activists constantly target concerts and art exhibitions in Tel Aviv, far from the Green Line. 

    American state legislators and governors, Democrat and Republican alike, understand that BDS is a hateful movement focused on the destruction of Israel. Taking a stand against it must be applauded.

    Bills show sound economic sense

    In addition to the moral courage legislators and state governments are showing, it also makes sound economic sense for states. According to the latest figures from the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), in 2016, trade between the U.S. and Israel totaled $35 billion. From across the nation, states trade in the millions and billions of dollars with Israel. Nevada, for example, conducted $97 million worth of trade with Israel; California exported $2 billion; New York $4.9 billion; and Minnesota, $105.6 million. 

    Hatemongers, who aim to harm the economy of the Jewish state, are also hurting the economy of the U.S. States recognize the importance of the innovative achievements of Israel and clearly see that translating into business for us over here.

    Why has the effort to pass anti-BDS legislation been so successful? It comes down to two simple truths. First, discrimination is wrong and must never, under any circumstances, be tolerated. Second, BDS not only seeks to do damage to the Jewish state, but also would do grave harm to the U.S. Almost half of the states, in just over two years, have passed anti-BDS legislation. More will follow and now Congress is working on bipartisan legislation as well. America is a beacon for freedom and democracy and continues to lead the way with strong and sound judgment. 

    Jacob Millner, of Minnetonka, is the Midwest regional director and senior policy analyst for The Israel Project as well as a board member of the local Jewish Community Relations Council.




  • TIP CEO Op-Ed in The Orlando Sentinel on Pressuring Qatar to Stop Funding Radicals

    Trump, allies must pressure Qatar to stop funding radicals

    June 21, 2017

    Click here to read the full article.

    U.S. President Donald Trump launched a blistering attack against Qatar recently when he accused the Gulf emirate of sponsoring terrorism. "The nation of Qatar, unfortunately, has historically been a funder of terrorism at a very high level," the president told reporters at the White House.

    His comments echoed allegations of the Saudi-led group of Arab countries that last week cut diplomatic ties to Qatar over the emirate’s links to extremist groups. Qatar has long bankrolled with billions of dollars radical Sunni Islamist organizations and forged close ties with the Shiite Republic of Iran and its terror proxy Hezbollah.

    This refreshing honesty from Washington and states in the region is an important step in the right direction to bring an end to Qatar’s malign influence. For that to happen, it is just as important that his statement of condemnation translates into real action. Two concrete steps that could be taken immediately would be for the United States and other allies to call for the sanctioning of the Muslim Brotherhood and the disarmament of Hamas in Gaza — primary beneficiaries of Qatar’s terror network.

    Regional dynamics explain why these measures would significantly strengthen the stability of the Middle East. The diplomatic rift between Qatar and the Saudi-led group is not taking place in a vacuum. It is the product of deep fault lines created by a power struggle between forces of extremism and forces of stability.

    The camp of extremism includes the Islamic Republic of Iran, trans-national jihadist organizations like al-Qaida and Islamic State, as well as radical Islamist-nationalist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Their vision of the Middle East violently clashes with that of the camp of stability, a group of countries ranging from most Gulf states to Egypt, Jordan and even Saudi Arabia.

    In this battle for hearts and minds that is affecting security far beyond the borders of the Middle East, the United States must come down on the right side of history. And the Trump administration has already set the stage when, during his visit to Saudi Arabia, the president endorsed Riyadh’s campaign to challenge Iranian influence with $110 billion in arms sales to the kingdom.

    The Trump administration has also indicated its intention to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a “foreign terrorist organization.” At his confirmation hearing, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson grouped al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood as “agents of radical Islam.”

    The Muslim Brotherhood is a global Islamist organization with tentacles of influence everywhere, both in the Islamic world and the West, where it works toward a Shariah-based caliphate. The Qatari government has bankrolled this organization with billions of dollars across the Middle East.

    The Brotherhood is often misrepresented as an acceptable branch of political Islam, a fatal miscalculation best demonstrated by the group’s credo: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”

    With Qatar now under serious pressure to stop the funding and the United States in a unique position to sanction the organization, there is a real opportunity to significantly disrupt the group’s operations and that of its affiliates, including Hamas.

    Since Israel pulled out of Gaza and Hamas took control, it has been evident that the only way to achieve meaningful and enduring peace is to disarm Hamas and dismantle its military and financial infrastructure. The group’s hundreds of thousands of rockets, bombs and rifles, with which it oppresses its own population and murders Israeli civilians, must be surrendered.

    Critical to that is ending the support of Qatar’s ruling family. The al-Thanis pour millions of dollars every year into the Gaza Strip to cement Hamas's grip on power. Last year alone, Doha transferred $31 million to the group, and the country is expected to pledge an additional $100 million to Hamas in the coming years.

    Isolating Qatar and its terror network is not unprecedented. A similar diplomatic rift took place in 2014, when several Gulf states temporarily withdrew their ambassadors from Qatar over its support for the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt. And it worked. Qatar backed down and made concessions.

    With the full backing and support of the United States, pressure on Qatar to end its funding of radical Islamist organizations could be multiplied. By coordinating with our regional allies and striking on all fronts — expose Qatar, sanction the Muslim Brotherhood, and disarm Hamas — a significant blow could be struck against the forces of extremism.

    Joshua S. Block is president and CEO of The Israel Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization that provides factual information about Israel and the Middle East to the press, policymakers and the public.


  • TIP Senior Fellow in The Daily Telegraph on Confronting Terrorism

    Failing to confront far-right terrorism will only embolden the other barbarians among us

    JULIE LENARZ

    Op-Ed

    The Daily Telegraph

    June 19, 2017 

    Click here to read the full article.

    One man has died and 10 others were wounded after a van was rammed into worshippers outside Finsbury Park mosque in north London Monday night. The killed and injured are the latest victims in a grim wave of attacks that have plagued the country in recent months.

    The victims all have one thing common. They lost their lives not because they did harm to anyone. They were murdered, in cold blood, simply because of who they were.

    To Islamic extremists we are not human beings – mothers, husbands, children. We are infidels unworthy of life and deserve to die at the sword of radical Islam. To far-right extremists all Muslims are potential terrorists. They are “fair game” in the struggle to preserve the identity of our country in the name of ethno-nationalism.

    The perpetrators behind such senseless acts of barbarism do not conceal their motivation. They take pride in it. According to an eye witness at the scene of last night’s attack, the suspect – a 48-year-old white man who was detained by members of the public before being arrested by police – screamed "I'm going to kill all Muslims”.

    These killers all have one thing in common: they are terrorists. 

    Terrorism has not one religion. Terrorism is not linked to one ideology. It is a tactic that has been used by many groups for many centuries to achieve political ends.

    The government has labelled the attack at Finsbury Park mosque an act of terrorism and the investigation of the incident is being carried out by the Counter Terrorism Command.

    This is hugely significant. The language used by Islamic extremists and far-right perpetrators is similar. Their crimes are similar. Yet public discourse has somewhat been hesitant to apply the term terrorism to atrocities not grounded in Islamic extremism.

    But for words to have any meaning we must apply them consistently, without moral double standards. Using the wrong words, either deliberately or by neglect, to describe the exact same problem distorts public perceptions, as well as the decisions taken by our leaders. If we rightfully call someone an Islamic extremist for killing in the name of radical Islam, then we also have to call someone a far-right extremist for murdering in the name of white nationalism. 

    Finsbury Park mosque has a complicated history. For many years it served as a hotbed for extremists dating back to the arrival of Abu Hamza al-Masri, who was the mosque’s imam from 1997 to 2005. Hamza, a notorious hate preacher, is thought to have radicalised with his poisonous sermons attendees such as Zacarias Moussaoui, a former al-Qaeda operative involved in 9/11, and Mohammed Sidique Khan, one of the four suicide bombers who blew themselves up on the London underground and a bus in July 2005. The mosque was eventually raided by police and shut down in 2003 before reopening in 2005 under new management. 

    Does that mean they had it coming? Absolutely not. Although, sadly, it is only a matter of time until someone will suggest exactly that. Few things in life are absolute, but this is one: there is no justification or excuse for terror.

    Our drones are not “triggering” Islamic extremists to blow themselves up among a crowd of children at a pop concert. And the decision to attend mosque is not “making” far-right extremists ram cars into a group of worshippers. Victim-blaming is not just revolting. It is also dangerous for it takes away agency from the perpetrators.

    We demand not to absolve Islamic extremists of responsibility for their acts of violence on the grounds of any grievances, real or perceived, and we must be very clear not to allow excuses to be made in this case either. When Islamic extremists strike, we seek out the hate preachers within Muslim communities that declare war on our way of life. We must do the same to those that encourage violence against innocent Muslims. 

    After the attacks in Manchester and London, we were told that Britain stands united. But the frightening truth is that there are barbarians among us, born and raised in this country, Muslims and non-Muslims, that are determined to divide us through acts of terror.

    Both Islamic and far-right extremism produce the same type of people, driven by the dehumanisation of “the other”, that are willing to kill for their cause and cleanse society of an undesirable ethnic or religious group. It is exactly this negative reciprocity between Islamists and the far-right that makes consistency when dealing with their crimes pivotal as a first step to break the vicious cycle of violence.


  • TIP CEO Op-Ed in The Boston Herald on Hezbollah’s New Attacks With Human Shields

    Block: Hezbollah preps for new attacks with ‘human shields’

    By Joshua S. Block

    Guest Column

    The Boston Herald

    June 30, 2017 

    Click here to read the full article. 

    Those who follow events in the Middle East are no stranger to the carnage in Syria, but there is another humanitarian crisis in the making you probably haven’t heard much about. Why? Because you will only read it, splashed across international newspapers, when it is too late and everyone acts surprised and outraged that it happened.

    Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist organization bankrolled by Iran and effectively in control of Lebanon, is steeling itself for a new war with Israel. At the heart of the group’s military strategy is the deployment of human shields — a war crime and terrorist tactic aimed at exploiting the moral sensibility of the enemy.

    Israeli military officials have warned that Hezbollah has turned hundreds of Lebanese villages into fighting zones, establishing bases in Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon, both “above and below live civilians whom we [Israel] have nothing against — a kind of human shield,” said Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, chief of staff for the Israel Defense Forces.

    Hezbollah has a presence in “every third or fourth house,” he added, spread out across 240 villages in southern Lebanon, in blatant violation of U.N. Resolution 1701, which calls for the removal of all armed groups from the area. Hezbollah continues to receive weapons from its patrons in Iran and the U.N. Security Council has so far failed to enforce the resolution.

    A significant part of Hezbollah’s military infrastructure is embedded in civilian areas. Rockets, bombs and rifles are placed under homes, schools and hospitals with the grim intention that, if Israel needs to take out Hezbollah’s arsenals in a preventive strike, the operation will lead to mass civilian casualties.

    Hezbollah is playing a zero-sum game at the expense of its own population, thus leaving Israel in a tough spot: knock out the weapons before they put at risk the lives of Israelis, or wait until they are deployed and risk the lives of both Israeli and Lebanese civilians. It is a no-win situation for Israel. Either way, Israel will be inevitably blamed for any civilian casualties.

    A senior Israeli defense official told The New York Times in May 2015 that the buildup of Hezbollah’s terror infrastructure in southern Lebanon meant that “civilians are living in a military compound. … We will hit Hezbollah hard, while making every effort to limit civilian casualties as much as we can…[but] we do not intend to stand by helplessly in the face of rocket attacks.” 

    No doubt Hezbollah will shamelessly exploit images of dead Lebanese civilians and, as expected, certain elements in the political and media arena will blindly swallow the propaganda spoon-fed to them by a terrorist organization. Meanwhile, the United States and Europe will come under pressure to force upon Israel a premature cease-fire.

    It is a tactic that has worked for Hezbollah in the past. In 1996 and again in 2006, Hezbollah blackmailed impoverished Shiite families when they offered to rebuild their homes — not out of goodwill, but on condition that they agree to store rocket launchers in their apartments, ready to strike against Israel at any time.

    When the time comes for Israel to take preventive military action against Hezbollah, civilians will die. In a perverse twist of reality, Israel will stand accused of violating international law and committing war crimes against the people of Lebanon.

    But whatever rewriting of history takes place, it will forever be on record that Israeli officials warned repeatedly that Hezbollah was putting Lebanon’s civilian population at risk and that the international community did nothing to prevent it.

    When you sleepwalk into disaster with alarm bells ringing, the moral high ground is no longer yours to claim.

    Joshua S. Block is president and CEO of the Israel Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.


  • TIP Chief of Staff Op-Ed in The Washington Blade on Chicago Dyke March

    Dyke March aims for safe space for all — unless you’re Jewish 

    By Ian Sugar

    Guest Column

    The Washington Blade

    June 30, 2017

    Click here to read the full article.

    Pride weekend is a celebration unlike any other. For LGBTQ activists like myself, it is an opportunity to bring our diverse community together. To celebrate how far we have come. And to honor the lives of those brave men and women whose shoulders we stand on, who fought tirelessly for equal rights for all people. Oh, and to have just a little bit of fun.

    And so it was profoundly disappointing to read reports from the recent Dyke March, a separate but confluent event with Chicago’s traditional annual Pride parade. The Dyke March was supposed to be intersectional, sold by its organizers as “more inclusive” and “more social justice-oriented.” Just that their inclusiveness and justice-oriented world stopped with the Jews. At the event, three queer women were asked to leave the march because they were holding a rainbow flag adorned with the Jewish Star of David. The women were bullied by being asked if they were Zionists. When they answered in the affirmative, this was so upsetting to marchers and organizers that they were “triggered” and made to “feel unsafe.”

    The Star of David, of course, has only recently been used to identify with Zionism and the State of Israel, and it is indeed used today as a symbol of modern Jewish identity and Judaism. Despite its recent renaissance and prominence on the Israeli flag, the first archeological example of the symbol can be found in Israel, appearing in a stone from a 3rd or 4th century synagogue. The star continues to appear through the historical record into the Middle Ages and into the 20th century.

    The history turns darker before and during World War II, when Jews in Nazi Germany and across occupied Europe were severely punished for not identifying themselves clearly with the star on their clothing. Later, Jews were forced to wear the star on their uniforms in the death camps before being murdered in gas chambers. All in all, more than six million Jews were exterminated during the Holocaust.

    But before history’s greatest criminal enterprise, righteous gentiles around Europe stood with their Jewish compatriots by wearing the star in the streets. This act of meaningful resistance helped defy the Nazi invaders and was a powerful show of solidarity with their Jewish friends and compatriots.

    Like the brave European gentiles who proudly wore their Star of David under Nazi dictatorship, the Dyke March organizers had an opportunity to embrace the symbol in the spirit of resistance. Instead, the organizers accomplished something very different and sinister.

    They acted so that any openly Jewish person does not have a place under the rainbow flag unless they denounce Israel. While one can and should speak out against Israeli government policies when their conscience demands it, this act clearly not only crossed, but also demolished any line Israel’s enemies claim exists between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

    The most meaningful part of Pride each year is beholding the immense diversity of the people who just show up: cis people and trans people, straight allies, Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, conservatives, liberals, people of color and whites, and everyone in between. We rally under the rainbow flag to show our support for all LGBTQ people, including the many millions around the world struggling for basic equality. From Syria to Russia, from Nigeria to Iran, and from Jamaica to Palestine, LGBTQ people cannot be who they are. They must hide in the shadows or risk arrest, torture, and execution by barbaric regimes whose intolerance knows no bounds.

    The Dyke March organizers have a standing invitation to join me in Israel for next year’s Pride to see for themselves the thriving pluralistic democracy that exists in a region filled with intolerance and hate, including Palestine where LGBTQ people are routinely harassed.

    If they really are what they claim to be, they should join me and many others in demanding equal rights for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, where homosexuality is still illegal. They should support the thousands of LGBTQ Palestinians who seek and receive refuge in Israel, who fear that returning home would lead to certain violence and likely death.

    One day, if we stick together, we can all march together in Ramallah or Gaza City to celebrate what brings us together, and not what drives us apart. Sadly, this is not possible today. 

    American Jews have been on the forefront of every civil rights movement in American history — from supporting better working conditions for workers during the industrial revolution, to the fight for women’s suffrage, to the bloody civil rights movement for people of color, to the right for marriage equality.

    Jews have consistently fought for the rights of the marginalized and oppressed. And yet the Jewish community faces new dangers from the far-right and the far-left. Hate crimes against Jews are on the rise. Our cemeteries are being defaced, and our students are being bullied on college campuses.

    Laying the seeds of peace and tolerance isn’t easy. Advancing the rights of all marginalized people across the world will require hard work from everyone. Even if you’re openly Jewish.

    Ian Sugar is the chief of staff of The Israel Project (TIP), and a member of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund’s Campaign Board of Directors.

     


  • TIP CEO Quoted After North Carolina Passes Anti-BDS Measure

    North Carolina Becomes Latest State to Pass Measure Opposing BDS Movement

    JNS

    June 30, 2017

    Click here to read the full article.

    JNS - A bill titled “Divestment from Companies That Boycott Israel” requires North Carolina state institutions to cease all contracts with companies that boycott Israeli companies and/or products made in Israel. The bill passed the North Carolina House of Representatives 96-19 following a 45-3 vote in the state’s senate. Governor Roy Cooper is expected to sign the legislation.

    “The state of North Carolina has long been a trading partner with Israel and thanks to this legislation, that connection will not be hindered. North Carolina businesses conduct $140 million per year in exports and commerce with Israel,” said a joint statement from North Carolina’s Jewish Federations.

    Josh Block, president and CEO of The Israel Project, praised North Carolina lawmakers “for standing up against antisemitism.”

    “And make no mistake, though BDS poses as a human rights movement, in truth, it is nothing more than an attempt to sow anti-Israel hate,” he said. “Hiding behind laudable rhetoric on human rights, boycott advocates single out the Jewish state for special punishment. In fact, Israel is the only nation in the Middle East that universally protects these values.” 

    More than 20 US states have now passed similar anti-BDS legislation.


  • TIP CAO Op-Ed in Jerusalem Post on Shared Struggle of Jews and Kurds

    JEWS AND KURDS: TWO PEOPLES, BOUND BY HOPE

    By Joe Roberts

    The Jerusalem Post   

    July 4, 2017

    Click here to read the full article. 

    One year after the collapse of the Axis powers and the end of World War II, a group of Kurdish men meet to discuss their passion for a national homeland for their people. A dream that had been in the works for more than 500 years. A dream that had survived the deadly violence of war, genocide and government persecution.

    The men put pen to paper and created a framework for a country for their people to be safe and free from tyranny. But these men wouldn’t ever know the feeling of freedom or independence. These men would only know the coarse feeling of a cold Iranian noose around the neck of anyone who dared to dream.

    As Jews, we know all too well the fear of the hangman’s noose. Our aggressors may have historically been different, but we’ve been subject to the same fear. We’ve felt the noose of the Spanish, the Russians and the Germans throughout our history. In 1948, after our very own declaration of independence, we feared the noose yet again. But this time was different. It was different because we had a state of our own. A state in which Jews could be Jewish. A state where dreams that had spanned millennia could be realized. Through this newfound independence, a realization emerged that the hangman’s noose could no longer come for us without a response; that we were, for the first time since the Roman expulsion of our people from Israel, truly free. 

    The Kurdish narrative is not that different from our own. An ethnically unique people, rich in culture, a belief in democracy and human rights, and the quest for a place to call their own. We know these dreams because we share them. As Jews, and as supporters of Israel as a Jewish state, we are morally bound to support the Kurdish people’s right to self-determination.

    What Israel represents to the Kurds is the realization of that dream. They see in us a people that endured a similar history of oppression and genocide. The Kurds, like Jews, have been subject to the rule of others for thousands of years, never fully being able to trust their neighbors and living in fear of the governments that have ruled over their people. They see what Israel has achieved, and they rightfully want it for the 30-45 million Kurds who live in the region and in the around the world. 

    When more than 800,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries in the 1950s, we had somewhere to welcome them. In Israel, we had a place for them to live and thrive. This includes Kurdish Jews, of whom 125,000 call Israel home today.

    For their non-Jewish Kurdish brothers, however, it wasn’t so easy. The hangman came for them again, and this time the price was heavy. When Saddam Hussein’s government came for them, they had nowhere to go. Through a crescendo of violence and oppression, the governments of Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Syria put in place laws that restricted the Kurdish language, culture and freedom of religious expression.

    The culmination of this violence was the Anfal genocide carried out by Saddam’s killing machine from 1986-1989, which resulted in the deaths of as many as 182,000 Kurdish men, women and children. The worst of the atrocities happened in Halabja, where as many as 5,000 civilians were killed in a deadly mustard gas attack.

    The Kurdistan Regional Government, a semi-autonomous government in Northern Iraq, has announced that it will hold a referendum for independence on September 25, 2017. While not a perfect plan, and one that is likely to be challenged by the government in Baghdad, it is incumbent on us as Jews to support their quest for statehood. Their neighbors are already readying their ropes. If we have learned anything from our own history, it is that we cannot expect the hangman to show mercy for those he is obligated to hang. Only self-determination and self-rule can cut his rope.

    The Kurdish People stand on the precipice of history, and they will remember the friends who came to their aid when they needed it most. Let’s hope it is a friendly Jewish face they see. In an ever-changing Middle East, the hangman’s rope casts a long shadow. Let’s support our Kurdish brothers as they seek to sever it once and for all. 

    The author serves as chief advancement officer at The Israel Project and has spent the past 15 years in international politics and in the Jewish Federation system in various capacities.

     


  • TIP CEO in Jerusalem Post on America’s Missed Opportunity in Syria

    AMERICA’S MISSED OPPORTUNITY IN SYRIA

    By Joshua S. Block

    Jerusalem Post Opinion

    July 25, 2017 

    Click here to read the full article.

    A cease-fire brokered by the United States and Russia, in consultation with Jordan, began in southwest Syria two weeks ago, including along the sensitive border between Israel and Syria, following a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Germany.

    As is customary, Trump took to Twitter to praise the agreement: “Now it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia!” he wrote in a post. Not everyone, however, welcomes the deal and for good reason.

    The agreement fails to address the active threat of Iran, ignoring the realities on the ground in Syria, where after taking over Iraq, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism seeks to ensure its dominance through Hezbollah, other Shi’ite militias and its influence over Syrian President Bashar Assad himself.

    Israel has long warned about the strong footprint left by the Iranians in Syria and neighboring Iraq. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu predicted that the deal would pose a long-term threat on Israel’s northern border by cementing Tehran’s presence there. Iran wants Assad to retake all of Syria and, by extension, consolidate its own power.

    And accepting the terms of the agreement doesn’t fit into that scheme.

    Already the Iranian presence on Israel’s border is impossible to miss. Just meters from the fence that separates Israel and Lebanon near Metulla, flags adorned with Iranian, Hezbollah and Palestinian symbols are provocatively displayed on the Lebanese side of the border. The message is clear. Iran is looking down on Israel from the north.

    Meanwhile, forces loyal to the regime in Tehran are closing in on Israel from inside Syria. The Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militia has reached a strategic corridor along the Iraq-Syrian border near Sinjar and with the Syrian regime simultaneously advancing along the other side of the fence near al-Tanf, the two Iran-backed parties could physically link the territory. In effect, that would allow the Iranians to create a corridor between Iran and Lebanon, through northern Iraq and Syria.

    The establishment of a permanent Iranian base in Syria poses a direct and imminent threat to Israel, placing it at risk of a simultaneous confrontation with Tehran’s proxy Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria.

    Iran’s terrorist activities along the border have long caused headaches in Jerusalem. In 2015, several high-ranking Hezbollah and Iranian operatives were killed in a strike on a convoy in Syria, near the border with Israel, including notorious Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh and IRGC commander Mohamed Allahdadi.

    Crucially, the US could help Israel contain the threat, as it is in a position in Syria it hasn’t been in a long time. It has leverage.

    Following the decision by the Trump administration early in the presidency to enforce the red line declared but never enforced by president Barack Obama, the US won back some of the credibility it had squandered over eight years.

    Responding to what President Trump called a “horrible chemical weapons attack” in Idlib, the US military delivered powerful air-strikes on a Syrian airfield, in the first direct military action against the Assad regime.

    With the lightest application of force, the US netted meaningful leverage – much like the limited application of military power by Russia had given it absolute primacy in shaping the battlefield and the future of the territory. 

    Although the decision didn’t translate into significant military intervention or a major overhaul of US policy in Syria, the strikes were applauded by the opposition and crucial in signaling to Assad and his allies, Russia in particular, that the US was back in the game and that our interests need to be taken into account.

    Of course, a cease-fire that stops or reduces the bloodshed is, in theory, always a good thing. But not if it’s being exploited by forces not aligned with our interests, like Hezbollah and their terror-masters in Tehran, with the potential to unleash even more death and destruction against our allies, and likely to create a major conflagration in an already unstable region.

    Unfortunately, prior experience in Lebanon, Iraq and elsewhere teaches us that the cease-fire will be exploited by these malign actors, and others.

    Not only does the deal require blind faith that the Russians will hold their Syrian partners accountable in the event of a violation. Given the length to which Russia protects Assad amid chemical weapons attacks on innocents and untold other brutality, that is highly unlikely. 

    This troublesome development is not helped by the fact that the Trump administration last week announced the end to the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling Syrian regime forces. It is a move long sought by Russia that will further tip the balance in favor of Assad and the Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis. 

    Until now, reports of a substantial US-Russia realignment were largely exaggerated. But the brokered ceasefire and the phasing out of the covert CIA program clearly reflect the administration’s intent to find ways to work with Russia even if it makes the US and its allies less safe.

    It is an incredibly short-sighted and dangerous policy that tragically throws away the hard-won goodwill garnered by the administration from opposition figures inside Syria and allied governments in the Middle East.

    For Syria, it marks yet another missed opportunity in a long line of mistakes. 

    The author is CEO and president of The Israel Project.


  • TIP CEO Op-Ed in The Hill on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act

    Congress can send a powerful message by passing the Israel Anti-Boycott Act

    By Joshua S. Block

    July 25, 2017

    Click here to read the full article.

    Is the ACLU actually attempting to sway congressional debate against Israel? The red flags are alarming, including this recent tweet by Jamil Dakwar, Director of the ACLU’s Human Rights Program: “Israeli leaders exploit horrible acts of anti-Semitism to encourage Jews to move to Israel. Judaism ≠ Zionism; Anti-Zionism ≠ Anti-Semitism.”

    Mr. Dakwar is wrong, and his tweet is anti-Semitic. Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said at a symposium held at the United Nations, “Racism in all forms is intolerable. Anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism. Both are unacceptable.”

    Greenblatt’s reaction was echoed by António Guterres, the sectary general of the United Nations, who told the Simon Wiesenthal Center that the “denial of Israel’s right to exist is anti-Semitism.”

    Greenblatt and Guterres would agree with me that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. To deny this connection is to deny reality. Greenblatt even confronted the ACLU directly in response to its top “Human Rights” official making such a despicable statement.

    The recent uptick in troubling statements and tweets regarding Jews and Israel is obviously disturbing, but it should not come as a surprise. Seen in the context of “intersectionality” and the rise of the Alt-left, an upward trend in the use of this kind of language is to be expected. However, it is appalling to see one of the longest-standing and most venerated civil rights organizations in our country’s history disseminating misinformation, fomenting anti-Semitism and lauding hatemongers.

    Even more worrisome, the ACLU now apparently is looking to influence Congress to the detriment of Israel.

    Currently, the U.S. Congress is considering important legislation to counter the economic warfare waged by those who seek to destroy the world’s only Jewish state. S. 720, also known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, would expand existing U.S. anti-boycott laws, which currently prohibit participation by Americans in discriminatory foreign government-led boycotts against Israel. The new legislation would include similar efforts by international governmental organizations like the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU).

    The specific focus of the proposed legislation on international bodies is necessitated by the new and dramatic growth of international anti-Israel movements that are attempting to use the UN and EU as vehicles to promote economic boycotts against Israel.

    The bill, sponsored by  Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), has already garnered an impressive 45 bipartisan co-sponsors.

    In response, the ACLU, a civil liberties organization, has paradoxically come out strongly against this anti-discrimination bill, arguing in a letter they sent to senators that the Israel Anti-Boycott Act would violate the right to free speech.

    This legislation does not in any way regulate civil society organizations which are critical of Israeli policies or prevent them from speaking out in favor of boycotts. Any suggestion that this bill creates potential criminal or civil liability for non-profit organizations is simply an effort to create confusion as to the bill’s impact. Commercial conduct is not speech.

    From the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, “Anti-Semitism is a word that has been used throughout history when Jewish people are judged and measured by one standard and the rest by another. So it is with anti-Zionism; the idea that all other peoples can seek and defend their right to self-determination, but Jews cannot.” 

    The complete and utter failure of the ACLU to recognize anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism is unacceptable. That failure loans credence to those who say the ACLU has become a political tool of the Alt-Left. Given the storied history of this organization, that’s a genuine tragedy.

    I hope the ACLU will take some time to better understand that individuals like Mr. Dakwar, far from being paragons of virtue and defenders of civil rights, are nothing more than the latest in a long line of hateful individuals, who twist facts and figures to hide their thinly veiled anti-Semitism. The only thing noteworthy about them is their attempt to cloak their true intentions in the language of “civil rights,” “liberation,” and “intersectionality.”

    Once again, the haters are on the wrong side of history. Legislation protecting Israel from boycotts has already passed in over 20 U.S. states. Additional legislation is pending in several others.

    The Israel Anti-Boycott Act is not an effort to suppress free speech, but an important weapon in the fight against hate and intolerance. Passing federal legislation now would send a powerful message: anti-Semitism is not welcome in America and Israel is our great friend and ally.

    Joshua S. Block is CEO and President of The Israel Project


  • TIP Senior Policy Analyst Quoted in Algemeiner on the Israel Anti-Boycott Act

    Progressive Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan Under Fire for Supporting Anti-BDS Legislation

    By Ben Cohen

    Algemeiner

    July 26, 2017

    Click here to read the full article.

    New Hampshire Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan is under fire from fellow progressives over her support for the Anti-Israel Boycott Act currently making its way through Congress.

    A former governor of New Hampshire, Hassan became the state’s junior senator in 2016 after she defeated Republican Kelly Ayotte in closely-fought contest. An important figurehead for the left-wing of her party, Hassan has won plaudits from progressives for her support of reproductive rights, stricter gun control and affordable higher education.

    But by joining a bipartisan group of 45 other senators in co-sponsoring the anti-boycott act — introduced in March by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md) — Hassan is now being accused by some civil rights activists of supporting a major abridgment of free speech.

    The charge against Hassan has been led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has spent the last several months vocally opposing the proposed legislation — which would amend the 1979 Export Administration Act “to include in the prohibitions on boycotts against allies of the United States boycotts fostered by international governmental organizations against Israel.”

    The ACLU, along with several groups from the BDS campaign targeting Israel, insists that the true aim of the act is to suppress boycott advocacy. “We urge you to refrain from co-sponsoring the legislation because it would punish individuals for no reason other than their political beliefs,” the ACLU said in a July 17 letter to Hassan.

    In an oped published the Concord Monitor, one BDS activist alleged that Hassan was backing legislation that “would make it a felony for Americans to support an international boycott against Israel.”

    Last week, a spokeswoman for Hassan denied the bill could limit free speech as protected under the First Amendment.

    “Senator Hassan strongly opposes the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and believes that it harms efforts to secure enduring peace through bilateral negotiations toward a two-state solution,” Ricki Eshman, Hassan’s press secretary, said in a statement.

    Hassan’s support for a political solution based on a sovereign state of Palestine alongside Israel has earned her the admiration of left-wing Jewish groups in the past. During last year’s election cycle, the leftist lobby group J Street warmly endorsed Hassan’s senate candidacy, praising her for supporting the July 2015 Iran nuclear deal and declaring that she “identifies closely with the core values of J Street and pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans.”

    J Street has not, however, come to Hassan’s aid over the boycott controversy. The group firmly opposes the act, claiming that it would extend “US legal protections to illegal West Bank settlements.”

    Jacob Millner — a senior policy analyst with the communications strategy group The Israel Project — told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that Hassan “deserves to be commended for supporting a bill that fights back against the hateful and antisemitic BDS campaign. 

    “The bill does not in any way stifle free speech or prevent the expression of a certain point of view,” Millner said. “Rather, it regulates commercial activity.”

    Millner pointed out the growing consensus among world leaders, among them French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, that “equates BDS with antisemitism.”  The ACLU bitterly opposes this conclusion, with one of its top leaders accusing Israel on July 3 of “exploiting” antisemitism “to encourage Jews to move to Israel.”


  • TIP Senior Fellow Op-Ed in International Business Times on PA’s Salaries to Terrorists and Their Families

    How can the Palestinian Authority defend paying lifetime salaries to terrorists convicted of murder?

    By Julie Lenarz

    IBT

    July 27, 2017

    Click here to read the full article.

    Researchers from the Office of National Statistics found that in 2016, the average wage in the UK was around £27,271, or £2,272 per month. Congratulations – if you fall into that category, your hard-earned money can't compete with the salary of Palestinian terrorists. Yes, you heard that right.

    Under the Palestinian Authority's (PA) "Pay-for-Slay" programme, terrorists convicted of murder are entitled to monthly lifetime salaries. The pitch is simple and deadly: The more Jews your murder, the richer you will get.

    The family of Omar al-Abed, the knife-wielding Palestinian terrorist who brutally butchered three members of the Salomon family at Shabbat dinner on Friday 21 (July), will soon enjoy a generous monthly payment of at least £2,385 plus supplements, courtesy to the PA. It is the standard rate typically being paid to perpetrators sentenced to 30 years or more in prison.

    But even if a terrorist's earning is not on the high end of the spectrum, the average monthly Palestinian prisoner salary (£650) is still higher than the monthly salary of a Palestinian civil servant (£598) or Palestinian military personnel (£562).

    In addition to the prisoner's salary, the PA also gives out a special monthly supplement for children under the age of 18 of £10 for every child. But it gets better. A spousal supplement paid by the PA means that £65 extra a month can be earned for every wife that you have. Yes, that's right. Plural.

    In other words, murder, preferably multiple murder, is a lucrative business in the Palestinian territories. The PA's policy of rewarding terrorists – or "martyrs" as they call the murderous jihadists that slaughter innocent people – directly makes complicit the official representation of the Palestinian people in the murder of Jews.

    Sometimes, of course, by mistake, they are wounding and killing the "wrong" kind of people. On July 14, two Druze policemen were killed in an attack carried out by three Palestinian terrorists just outside the Temple Mount Plaza that led to metal detectors being installed by the Israeli military. In response, violence broke out, fuelled by incitement of the Palestinian leadership, claiming the lives of even more people. On Monday, a Palestinian terrorist almost stabbed to death an Arab bus driver.

    Perhaps, if Israel really were as apartheidist as these hatemongers claim, finding Jews to murder wouldn't be that difficult.

    But what's most revolting is the fact that Palestinian incitement for murder is bankrolled by the international community. The PA receives hundreds of millions in financial assistance every year from across the world. The US alone transferred £273 million to them last year.

    As foreign aid budgets partially derive from taxpayer's money, there's a good chance that your hard-earned cash could end up being used as blood money by the PA to reward murderous terrorists. A possibility that increases by the year.

    The PA's latest budget revealed that its spending on salaries to terrorists and their families has again risen in 2017. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, reported that payments to imprisoned terrorists increased 13%, from 488 million shekels (£103 million) in 2016 to 550 million shekels (£121million) this year. The overall 2017 budget for payments to terrorists and their families amounted to 1.237 billion shekels (£271 million)

    This problem feeds into the broader issue of incitement among Palestinian leaders and Palestinian society as a whole. Jew hatred is openly taught in schools and spread in textbooks, including those sponsored by international donors. PA television is also known for airing interviews with children that aspire to become "martyrs" and fantasise about killing Jews. And on Friday, following the brutal murder of the Salomon family, at the peak of perversity, Palestinians took to the streets in Gaza to celebrate the massacre.

    Fortunately, governments are waking up to the grim reality. In 2016, the UK froze more than £25 million in financial aid to the PA, after the Department for International Development ordered an investigation into the sponsorship of Palestinian terrorists. In addition, Norway last year demanded that the PA return funding for a women's youth centre named after a terrorist responsible for the murder of 38 Israelis, 13 of whom were children.

    The tone at the UN, an organisation often criticised for its obvious bias against Israel, has also changed since the appointment of António Guterres as Sectary General. "The glorification of terrorism or the perpetrators of heinous terrorist acts is unacceptable under any circumstances," read a statement released in May 2017 by a representative for Guterres' office. "The UN has repeatedly called for an end to incitement to violence and hatred as they present one of the obstacles to peace."

    For too long, the PA has not just tolerated acts of terrorism, but has actively encouraged and supported them with their glorification of "martyrs" and their generous financial rewards handed out to Palestinian criminals. If we are serious about fighting terrorism, scrutinising their behaviour before donating hundreds of millions in aid would be a good place to start.

     


Tip Staff -90sc