America Should Stand Up for Kurdish Independence

While America spent the weekend hotly debating the NFL & the National Anthem — and as the world inched closer to possible war in North Korea and as millions of Puerto Ricans suffered the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria — a small speck of land in the Middle East was about to send shockwaves through the international system. Today — September 25, 2017 — the Kurds of Iraq will likely overwhelmingly vote for their independence in the referendum being held in Iraqi Kurdistan. This independence is well deserved. The Kurdish homeland in the Middle East dates back centuries — but the Kurds themselves find themselves split asunder & without a nation. As the world’s largest ethnic group without a nation to call its own, the Kurds have faced decades of severe persecution in Turkey, Iran, Iraq, & Syria. Aided by a No-Fly Zone instituted by the United States following the First Gulf War, the Kurds in Iraq were able to establish a semi-autonomous territory in Northern Iraq and to create the current Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). The Kurds were strong allies in the Second Gulf War as they helped topple Saddam Hussein’s regime, leading to even greater autonomy for themselves. And Iraqi Kurdistan was the only area of relative peace during the terror-fueled raging Iraqi insurgency & sectarian civil war that followed. Following the invasion of Iraq by ISIS in 2014, the Kurds demonstrated themselves to be the most dependable fighting force in-country, halting the sweeping gains of ISIS and giving the Iraqi government – and indeed the world – the breathing room to regroup and fight back. Independence has long been the desired goal of Kurds in the region, and the Kurds positioned themselves well as they battled ISIS, took back large swaths of territory from the terrorist organization, and consolidated these gains. But the Iraqi government – based in Baghdad and dominated by Shiite parties – is still the ultimate arbiter of power in Iraq, stifling Kurdistan’s economy, fighting with it over oil, limiting its armaments, and generally squeezing Kurdish autonomy. After decades of being ruled by Baghdad, the Kurds of Iraq have had enough.

The Kurds represent the largest ethnic group in the world without its own state. There are roughly 35 million Kurds worldwide, with nearly 30 million of them living within the bounds of Iraq, Syria, Turkey, & Iran. Within the Middle East, the Kurds are the fourth-largest ethnic group, following the well-known ethnic groups of Arabs, Persians, & Turks – all of whom have their own states. The Kurdish people have a cohesive identity spanning centuries — and their overarching goal is the establishment of an official homeland. This begins with today’s historic vote in Iraqi Kurdistan calling for independence – a vote that America should support.

The history of the Kurdish people in the 20th & 21st centuries is a story of oppression. Promises of a homeland in the wake of the World Wars proved to be false, and the Kurds found themselves separated by borders. The Kurds of Iraq were brutally oppressed by the Saddam Hussein regime, most notoriously through the Al-Anflal Campaign (the commission of genocide by Hussein against the tens of thousands of Kurds in the wake of the Iran-Iraq War). When the Kurds tried to rise up against Saddam Hussein in 1991 in the wake of the First Gulf War (at the tacit encouragement of the United States, mind you) this rebellion was put down in brutal fashion as the United States & the world stood by and let it happen. Following this, the U.S. instituted a No-Fly Zone in northern Iraq to protect the Kurds from further oppression in the wake of that war. This allowed the Kurds to establish a semi-autonomous self-governed region, representing the first real semblance of independence the Kurds have had. It took the Second Gulf War in 2003 to liberate the Kurds from Hussein’s regime entirely.

It must be emphasized that the Kurds have been absolutely critical in the fight against ISIS. When ISIS invaded Iraq in 2014, US-trained & US-equipped Iraqi forces fled by the thousands, abandoning bases, humvees, supplies, heavy artillery, & weaponry – all of which went on to be used by ISIS to devastating effect. But where the Iraqi military fled, a vastly under-supplied & in many instances out-gunned Kurdish Peshmerga force stood firm, stopping the spread of ISIS into Kurdish territory, in many cases turning back the terrorist group’s march, and in time liberating large swaths of territory within the Kurdish sphere of influence. The only reason that strategic cities like Kirkuk and strategic oil fields like of Baji didn’t fall to ISIS — and the only reason why attempted genocides against the Christians & Yazidis of Iraq were not fully successful — was thanks to the Kurds. The battlefield successes against ISIS in 2016 & 2017 would not have been remotely possible without the massive sacrifices of the Kurds in 2014 & 2015 & all the way through today. And an independent Kurdistan would be an even more effective ally in the fight against ISIS & related terror groups.

The Kurds have accepted over 1.4 million refugees during the war with ISIS – including Muslims of all sects, Christians, Yazidis, & Jews. Religious tolerance (especially by Middle Eastern standards) is widespread inside Kurdish-controlled areas: Kurdistan’s small Jewish community has been allowed to practice their faith and Christians & Yazidis that saw their cities invaded by ISIS were able to flee to Kurdish regions that have protected them and that have taken back lots of their territory from the terrorist organization. Beyond embracing different religions in ways almost unheard of in the region, the Kurds also embrace impressive levels of gender equality as well – Kurdish women enjoy incomparably greater freedom, autonomy, & equality in Iraqi Kurdistan than in the rest of Iraq.

The Kurds would be a bulwark in the heart of the Middle East against all kinds of radicalism. The Kurds generally place their unique ethnic identity (along with their unique language & society) above any religious extremism – secularism is the heart of the Middle East is a lofty goal, but it is one that the Kurds have made great strides toward. Militant Islam – of either the Sunni or Shiite persuasion – has limited support among the Kurds. Where much of the current struggle on the battlefield against ISIS seemed like a battle between varying strains of religiously-motivated groups (radical Sunni Muslims like Jahbat al-Nusrah & the Islamic State on one side versus Iranian-backed Shia Muslim militias on the other), the Kurds are motivated by a unique heritage and a desire for democratic rule & independence. A stable & democratic Kurdish nation would be a great improvement over the civil wars & religious extremism that currently dominate Kurdistan’s surrounding neighborhood.

The Kurds would be able to use their independence to become more effective militarily and stronger economically. Currently, much of Kurdistan’s economic & military capabilities rely on decisions made by a Shiite-led (and Iranian-influenced) central government in Baghdad. Its shares of Iraqi oil revenue must come through Baghdad first. Its opportunities to sell oil to the E.U. and elsewhere are made vastly more difficult. Its ability to buy necessary weaponry is complicated & delayed. And so Kurdish independence would liberate their economy and allow for their self-defense – which is why the surrounding hostile nations oppose this independence.

It must be emphasized that Kurdish aspirations for independence are opposed by the United States, by the United Nations, and by nearly every other nation. It is very nearly Kurdistan Against The World. In fact, only the state of Israel supports the Kurdish bid – something that Saladin would approve — perhaps because Israel understands better than any other nation what it means to be a historically oppressed group surrounded by enemies. And surrounded by enemies the Kurds indeed are – the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan is most strongly opposed by the governments in Baghdad, Ankara, Tehran, & Damascus (Iraq, Turkey, Iran, & Syria) due to the potential regional fallout stemming from the large Kurdish populations residing in those countries. Indeed, recriminations against the Kurds have already begun – the government of Iraq has made it clear that it will punish Kurdistan’s economy if (when!) it goes through with the referendum. And the governments of Turkey & Iran are threatening the Kurds with severe retaliation – including possible military intervention. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — the wannabe dictator of Turkey — sees the Kurds as a threat to his hold on power, and has been openly threatening them with economic devastation & invasion. That’s right – our friends in Kurdistan might see their independence referendum celebrations almost immediately consumed by war with neighbors looking to bring a swift end to this bid for freedom. The Kurds are obviously feeling the pressure from the verbal onslaughts & the military exercises being conducted on their periphery, but the vote is happening anyway. Will the United States really cede our foreign policy to the mullahs in Iran and the strongman in Turkey and the corrupt government of Iraq? Will the United States really stand by and let this happen to the Kurds – to a nation that has fought alongside us against jihadists for years & years?

The Gospel of Matthew states that “by their fruits ye shall know them.” Over the decades, the world has gotten to know the Kurdish people – and their fruits. They indeed have their flaws – political dysfunction, an imperfect record on the administration of territory that has come into their possession, big questions about the future status of religious & ethnic minorities within the state, incomplete political equality amongst the population, corruption that needs to be dealt with, and so on. But there is an incredible amount to be admired in the Kurds. They’ve been stalwart in defense of their homeland. Brave in the face of threats & violence from Great Powers. Sacrificial in their struggle against Saddam, against al-Qaeda, and against ISIS. Charitable in their taking in of hundreds of thousands of refugees of every creed — charity all the more impressive given Kurdistan’s relative poverty. And trustworthy, as their Peshmerga have served honorably side-by-side next to American & coalition forces against the Islamic State.

For all these reasons, the Kurdish independence movement is absolutely worthy of our support: it would grant a persecuted ethnic minority its own nation-state and would would result in a reliable pro-Western ally in the heart of the Middle East. Kurdistan is a bit of a miracle – landlocked, isolated, resource-scarce, & persecuted – but it has been able to establish a semi-autonomous region in Iraq where fleeing refugees & religious minorities have been kept safe and where warriors have proven their mettle. The vote for Kurdish independence will be good for the Kurds – and indeed good for the world, too.

For the closing argument, I will leave you with an excerpt from a Washington Post op-ed by Qubad Talabani, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (please read the entire piece):

“Yes, we have a choice. We can either go ahead with our symbolic vote, which has the potential to generate serious backlash from the countries that oppose it, or we can accept a proposed set of commitments from our allies, the most powerful nations in the world, in return for postponing the referendum. As it happens, though, we Kurds have a long and vivid memory of the many betrayals our people have suffered throughout history. For this reason, it is not at all clear to us that postponement is in our nation’s best interest… And we have seriously weighed the risks of holding a referendum. Who, indeed, could be more aware of them than us?… Rather than trying to convince us not to leave Iraq, the world should have tried harder to ask Iraq to convince us to stay… Yes, Kurdistan’s democracy is imperfect; our governance, institutions and political leadership have their flaws. But we are committed to economic prosperity, to transparency and accountability, and, above all, to the safety and protection of our citizens. We have far more of the building blocks for new institutions in place than many other new nations… While our people have a range of views about the referendum and the best path forward, in the heart of every Kurd we are already independent. We are already a nation. We did not hesitate to join the international coalition and the Iraqi forces that set out to liberate Mosul from the Islamic State. Nor did we hesitate before that to fight al-Qaeda, or before that, Saddam Hussein. But we are not mercenaries, paid to fight wars. Our lives are on the line, and we, too, have our strategic and national interests. We didn’t think twice about opening our doors to those displaced by conflict, despite our own economic problems… Despite all this, rather than recognizing or rewarding us, other nations have joined forces to oppose our right to self-determination. Where were you when we were being slaughtered, attacked with chemical weapons and buried in mass graves in 1988? How long did it take you to respond to our pleas when we fled to the mountains after Hussein crushed our uprising in 1991? Every Kurd around the world shook with fear and indignation at the predicament of our brothers and sisters on the top of Mount Sinjar in 2014. The wounds of past persecution and genocide are fresh in our hearts and minds… It is time for our international partners to seriously chart out a path that resolves the Kurdish question in Iraq and gives our people what you already enjoy, and what we deserve: a country of our own.”

They say that timing is everything – but there will never be a “good time” for the emergence of a new country in the heart of the Middle East. The Kurds could’ve broken away during the civil war that raged in Iraq from 2004—2007, but they didn’t. The Kurds could’ve broken away in the chaos that ensued when ISIS swept across Iraq in 2014 & 2015, but they didn’t. They waited until order had been largely restored and until ISIS had been mostly beaten back. They waited until they’d already taken in hundreds of thousands of refugees. And frankly — as the tens of millions of Kurds around the world would surely agree — they’ve waited long enough. If not now, then when?

What will follow this independence referendum will not be easy – the Kurds will face untold challenges in the coming weeks, months, & years — and they will need our help. So it is time for the United States to stop using the Kurds when we need them and then ignoring them when they need us. In foreign affairs, a country should defend its interests but should also reward its allies, not abandon them in their time of need. We left the Kurds to flee into the mountains after the First Gulf War and to suffer under Saddam Hussein’s cruelty for a decade more. They find themselves now surrounded by enemies that would like nothing more than to quickly snuff out even the faintest flicker of freedom in Iraqi Kurdistan. We should not – cannot – must not let that happen.

As they say in Kurdish, “Bale” Kurdistan! “Yes!” to a free & independent Kurdish nation.

Bernie Sanders Made Some INSANE Comments About Israel

In an interview with The Intercept, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) revealed his anti-Israel colors by advocating for the insane policy of ending all aid to the Jewish state.

Unsurprisingly, the interview was the quintessential ramblings of a madman, as Sanders naively endorsed the idea of meeting face-to-face with the murderous Kim Jong Un and embracing the Islamo-Nazi Iranian regime. But his worst comments were regarding Israel:

These days, unlike other members of Congress, Sanders has no qualms about identifying, and decrying, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. But does he accept that the United States is complicit in Israel’s occupation, through its military aid and arms sales? And does he also accept, therefore, that the occupation of the Palestinian territories will never end until the U.S. stops arming and funding the Jewish state?

“Certainly the United States is complicit, but it’s not to say … that Israel is the only party at fault,” he tells me. However, he adds, “in terms of Israeli-Palestinian relations the United States has got to play a much more even-handed role. Clearly that is not the case right now.”

Would he, therefore, ever consider voting to reduce U.S. aid to Israel — worth at least $3bn per annum — or U.S. arms sales to the Israeli military?

“The U.S. funding plays a very important role, and I would love to see people in the Middle East sit down with the United States government and figure out how U.S. aid can bring people together, not just result in an arms war in that area. So I think there is extraordinary potential for the United States to help the Palestinian people rebuild Gaza and other areas. At the same time, demand that Israel, in their own interests in a way, work with other countries on environmental issues.” He then, finally, answers my question: “So the answer is yes.”

It’s one thing to argue that the United States should end aid to Israel in order to prevent administrations that are hostile to the Jewish state from strong-arming the country into actions that would undermine it, or to argue that Israel simply doesn’t need it. Those are understandable positions. But Sanders’ comments are coming from a place of malice toward Israel since he’s embracing the lie that Israel is “occupying” West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

How can Israel be occupying the Gaza Strip when in 2005 they allowed the people of Gaza to have their own democratic elections, which ultimately resulted in the terror group Hamas rising to power? How can Israel be occupying the West Bank – which should be referred to as Judaea and Samaria – when they have a legal right to that land?

Unfortunately, such anti-Israel sentiments are par for the course for the wild-eyed lunatic socialist. For instance, last year Sanders claimed that Israel had killed 10,000 people in Gaza in the 2014 conflict, which is laughably false. Sanders’ campaign featured anti-Israel aides and allies and he is pro-Iran deal.

The fact remains that Israel is a crucial ally to America. The Jewish state is essentially America’s first line of defense in the Middle East against Islamic terror groups. Israel’s enemies are our enemies, which is why they have provided America with important intelligence and “technical know-how in defending against terrorist attacks.” The world, especially America, should be grateful for Israel knocking out Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 and Bashar al-Assad’s nuclear reactor that was in the process of being built in 2007.

And yet Sanders thinks that Israel deserves scorn and derision. God help us if he is ever elected president.

Kirsten Gillibrand on Israel: If You Can’t Say Something Nice, Say Something Stupid




Israeli diplomat Abba Eban once famously remarked of the endless conflicts in the Middle East, “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”  New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand seems to have taken that adage to heart, except that in her case she never misses an opportunity to make herself look like a vapid caricature of a politician–think William J. Lepetomane from Blazing Saddles, but without the charm and savvy.

Not content with swearing up a storm during a stump speech (pro tip, Kirsten:  if you can’t find more creative uses for the f-word, don’t bother), Gillibrand recently chastised Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, for not having a plan for peace with the Palestinians.  Unfortunately, as our friends at the Reagan Battalion pointed out, her timing kind of stunk given what just happened over there:

Yes, that’s blood on the floor in the picture on the left.  It belongs to four members of a Jewish family who were getting ready to sit down to a Shabbat dinner.  When they heard a knock on the door, they assumed it was a guest who had arrived–but when they opened up, a Palestianian terrorist who wanted to die a martyr forced himself in and started stabbing them.  Before a neighbor could rush over and shoot the man, three members of the family were dead and a fourth wounded.

As for the terrorist, he didn’t get his wish.  He survived, and was rushed to a hospital.  That didn’t stop large crowds of Palestinians from celebrating the murders, though–because that’s what Palestianians do.



So, Senataor Gillibrand from the great state of New York–how exactly do you propose that the prime minister of Israel make a plan for peace with people like that?

Golda Meir once wrote, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”  Not much has changed in the 44 years since that time, during which the Palestianians have steadfastly refused to recognize the existence of the state of Israel.  And therein lies the problem:  You can’t make peace with somebody who wants you dead.  Oh, the Palestianian Authority may talk differently for Western audiences, saying that they want to coexist–but the actions of their people say differently.  Those who would celebrate the death of innocents are infected with a hatred that has been taught from a very early age.  People like that are not interested in peace.

If Senator Gillibrand doesn’t understand that, she’s an even bigger fool than she makes herself out to be.

Rex Tillerson Justifies Increased Aid to Palestinians by Promoting a Falsehood

Whose side are they on, anyway?

It is becoming increasingly difficult to say the Trump administration is a true friend to Israel, one of the selling points to Evangelical voters during the run up to the election.

At best, the Trump administration is just as duplicitous in their dealing with our only true allies in the Middle East as every other administration has been. The apparent misconception is in that Trump’s administration is somehow more of a friend because where the Obama administration was openly hostile to Israel, Trump smiles in their faces before an act of betrayal.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sought to justify a Trump budget proposal that would increase payments to the Palestinian government, in spite of the fact that the Palestinian government uses a portion of those funds to pay terrorists and their families – a reward for attacks against Israel.

Tillerson made the false claim that the Palestinian government had assured him that their practice of paying off terrorists was over. Almost immediately, not only did Israel dispute the claim, but the Palestinian government, themselves, scoffed at the notion.

In other words, the ones who would know best are saying Tillerson is full of it. The Palestinians are dedicated to the continued death of Israeli school children, and they will use U.S. tax dollars to fund it.

Tillerson, testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was asked to explain his remarks earlier this week claiming that the Palestinian government had stopped its longstanding policy of paying terrorists salaries using aid granted by the U.S. government, a claim that was almost immediately rebutted by Palestinian and Israeli officials.

To be specific, the Trump budget proposal increases aid to the Palestinians by almost 5 percent, bringing payments up to $215 million.

The increase in aid to the Palestinians, who continue to sponsor and incite terror attacks on Israel, drew opposition from Democrats and Republicans who criticized Tillerson for seeking to increase this aid while cutting the overall State Department budget by more than 30 percent. This includes a massive funding cut to overseas security for U.S. facilities, a move that has prompted security concerns.

The Palestinian Authority has “not complied with their commitments under U.S. law, yet all potential sanctions were waived,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R., Fla.) said during the hearing. “How can you justify and increase [the aid], when so many things in the budget were cut, but the PA has an increase in your budget request.”

Tillerson, to date, has not offered a coherent explanation. He chose not to directly address the question as it was presented to him.

“We’re in active discussion with the Palestinian Authority,” Tillerson said. “These discussions are around issues of how they manage terrorism and how they manage violence in the West Bank and Gaza but it’s also hopefully setting the stage for a reengagement in the peace process with the Israelis.”

Giving them more resources for terror is probably not the way to go about achieving peace.

In fact, there has been nothing but concessions put on Israel. Trump blindsided Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this year, when he turned to him during a joint press conference and asked him to stop further construction on the West Bank.

Netanyahu seemed caught off guard.

Later, Trump’s administration pulled plans to move the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move that would show the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel.

This was another broken promise, compounded by Trump’s later comments that moving the capital would depend on that elusive “peace process.” You can take that to mean, specifically, how much more is Israel willing to give up?

When Trump made those promises on the campaign trail, they didn’t come with qualifiers.

Yet, here we are. Israel is, once again, left with a lap full of empty promises, and the Trump administration is adding insult to injury by attempting to increase aid to the very ones who are trying to kill them.

“There have been talks about making the payments in a different way, but not ending them,” one Palestinian official was quoted as telling Reuters. “They could perhaps be labeled differently,” but they “are not going to be stopped.”

Remember that.

Nobody is trying to pass off the long boiling conflict between Israel and Palestine as an easy fix. Many have come before Trump and his equally inexperienced secretary of state, attempting to find common ground that cannot be held.

What we shouldn’t do is allow for our lawmakers to mislead us, as well as our allies about where our taxes are being allocated, especially if those funds are going to terrorists.

Haley’s Ultimatum on UN Human Rights and Israel: Fix It or Else…

Using the strongest words yet, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley issued what could be called an ultimatum to the UN Human Rights Council. In a speech in Geneva, Haley kept a promise she made last week.

She called on the UN to make two key changes:

  • “Act to keep the worst human rights abusers form obtaining seats on the Council.”
  • “Agenda Item Seven must be removed.” This is the permanent item that singles out Israel for condemnation.

On the first item, Haley recited a litany of abuses by sitting members of the Council, including Venezuela and Cuba. She called Cuba’s jaw-dropping hypocrisy “a reversal of the truth that would make George Orwell blush.”

She singled out Russia, Zimbabwe, and North Korea; and accused China, Burundi and Saudi Arabia of failing to “uphold the highest standards” of human rights. “They clearly do not uphold those highest standards,” she said.

Citing former Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s 2005 disbanding of the erstwhile Human Rights Commission, Haley levied the same charges against the new body that was supposed to fix the problems of the discredited body.

These problems were supposed to have been fixed when the new Council was formed. Sadly, the case against the Human Rights Council today looks an awful lot like the case against the discredited Human Rights Commission over a decade ago.

Once again, over half the current member countries fail to meet basic human rights standards as measured by Freedom House.

And she closed with an implied threat.

For our part, the United States will not sit quietly while this body, supposedly dedicated to human rights, continues to damage the cause of human rights.

She called on America’s allies–“likeminded countries”–to join her call for reform.

Let the world be on notice: We will never give up the cause of universal human rights. Whether it’s here, or in other venues, we will continue this fight.

Like the Paris Accords, the Human Rights Council is nothing more than a cover for globalists to seek legitimacy and despots to do as they please; it’s proclamations are without effect, and it statements without power. The U.S. should have nothing to do with it.

In the question and answer session following the speech, however, Haley pulled her punches.

“America does not seek to leave the Human Rights Council,” Ms. Haley said. “We seek to re-establish the council’s legitimacy.” Pressed by the audience, she would not commit to staying or leaving.

Some organizations believe that, even with these egregious problems, the U.S. should stick with the HRC.

Eight rights organizations wrote to Ms. Haley last month highlighting the importance of the United States’ leadership role and its ability to change the council’s practices and its approach toward Israel.

(Source.)

They pointed out that during the Bush years, America’s ability to influence the Council was at its nadir. But former President Obama’s terms helped the Council focus on other issues than Israel. One could argue that the Council didn’t see Israel as a necessary target since Obama’s own policies (and in the Security Council) seemed to take care of that checkbox.

“What is certain is that the departure of the U.S. from the Human Rights Council would only result in worse, and perhaps even pernicious, outcomes,” the rights organizations said in their letter.

Israeli officials are not so convinced. They believe (and I agree) that the structure and form of the HRC are too corrupted to be corrected from within, unless and until Haley’s demands are met.

“The US should present the Council with an ultimatum: Either Item 7 goes or we go,” Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren told The Times of Israel in a recent interview. The organization would still be heavily biased against Israel, he added, “but at least it would not condemn us three times a year automatically.”

However, Oren said at the time that the Council cannot be reformed from the inside, urging the US to leave. “By being there, the US and like-minded countries are only legitimizing an inherently anti-Semitic organization. I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but wanting to reform the UNHRC is like wanting to reforming the BDS [Boycott, Divest and Sanction] movement from the inside.”

The UN as a whole teeters on the brink of irrelevancy–especially in the Trump era, where multilateral cooperative deals are definitely out of favor. The HRC has zero credibility for the supposed purpose for which it was created. Why should the U.S. continue to lend it legitimacy?

Ambassador Haley, your message should be received as: Get right or America gets out.

Trump Unloads On Abbas: “You Tricked Me!”

Donald Trump has been a true believer in the idea of peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but, according to an Israeli TV report, the bloom may be off that rose.

The president met with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority last week in Bethlehem, and Trump unloaded on Abbas for deceiving him when it comes to the Palestinians’ commitment to peace.

“You tricked me in DC! You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement [against Israel],” Trump is said to have shouted at a shocked Abbas.

The TV report said the outburst was followed by several minutes of shocked silence from the Palestinians, and that the meeting was very tense before the two sides managed to get back on track.

Palestinian sources denied the report, saying the meeting was good and to the point.

Israeli television reported on the exchange in Hebrew, but one reporter tweeted about the meeting in English.

Publicly, Trump continued to maintain his own commitment to a peace process and gave assurances that the Palestinian leaders are interested in working things out as well.

“I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal,” Trump said. “President Abbas assures me he is ready to work toward that goal in good faith, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has promised the same. I look forward to working with these leaders toward a lasting peace.”

And:

At Trump’s final appearance in Israel, at the Israel Museum on Tuesday afternoon, the president declared that Abbas and the Palestinians “are ready to reach for peace.” Departing from his prepared text, he added: “I know you’ve heard it before. I am telling you. That’s what I do. They are ready to reach for peace.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, doubted the assertion that Abbas is ready for peace by noting that, had the Manchester attack been carried out by a Palestinian terrorist, Abbas would have rewarded the terrorist’s family financially.

Is President Trump naive enough to believe that the Palestinians really want peace with Israel? Or has he fallen for Abbas’ smooth talk? Time will tell if Trump’s statements at the end of the Israel trip demonstrate a true belief or if they’re just rhetoric.

President Trump Should Be Applauded for Bolstering U.S.-Israeli Relations

President Donald J. Trump is breaking new ground with respect to U.S.-Israeli relations.

First and foremost, he became the first sitting American president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel. If you recall, former President Barack Obama was photographed visiting this sacred site in summer 2008–but he did so as then-candidate Barack Obama. Moreover, Trump’s administration said in a memo of his joint talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Jerusalem is formally located in Israel–a bold move considering Israel antagonists dispute Jerusalem being the eternal, indivisible capital of the Holy Land.

While Trump has expressed an interest in bolstering relations with Israel, his administration hasn’t been entirely free of missteps or errors in their attempt to restore positive relations. Although he campaigned to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Trump has held off on this move for now so as to not provoke Arabs who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Back in February, Trump also said the construction of new settlements in the West Bank would stifle peace talks. However, Trump likely changed his tune given the speech he delivered yesterday short of endorsing a Palestinian state–which is encouraging news.

 

Ties between the U.S. and Israel are said to be stronger than ever since Trump assumed office earlier this year. It was quite evident that U.S.-Israeli relations were strained under Trump’s predecessor. However, happier times with our greatest ally in the Middle East seem to be unfolding now as evidenced by the picture below.

https://twitter.com/zlando/status/866984952214192128

President Trump is currently participating in his first official trip abroad, hitting up both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Up next on his itinerary is a visit to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis, who previously questioned Trump’s Christianity.

We shall see what transpires during that meeting.

Nevertheless, U.S.-Israel relations seem to be in a much better spot than before. Let’s hope the State Department and rest of the Trump administration will get Israel policy right rather than kowtow to enemy forces.

President Trump Becomes the First Sitting U.S. President to Pray at Western Wall

On Monday, President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. President to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Washington Examiner reports.

The site is known to be one of the “holiest sites” in Judaism, and was visited by President Trump and his family.

In a traditional practice, the president placed his right hand on the stone and placed a note of prayer into the wall.

The president and his family also toured the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christians believe that Jesus Christ was crucified and buried.

President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka also prayed at the wall. The couple practices Orthodox Judaism.

The Western Wall “forms the foundation of the Second Jewish Temple,” which was built by King Herod in the first century B.C.

Trump’s visit also marks the first time a sitting U.S. President has visited Israel during the first foreign tour.