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The critical November 2018 mid-term election

The Arena, Abba Eban Institute, IDC, November 1, 2018, https://bit.ly/2JvJbth
https://bit.ly/2rgyMMh

Trump: a coattail – or an anchor chained – President?

The November 2018 mid-term election will determine the future maneuverability of President Trump, and will shape the dominant worldview of the strongest legislature in the world, which is co-determining and co-equal to the executive branch, and Israel’s systematic and most effective ally in face of pressure by all US Presidents from Truman through Obama.

The coming mid-term election will be – once again – a referendum on the popularity of a sitting President: 49% approval rating (50% disapproval) of President Trump, according to a November 1 Rasmussen Reports; 40% (54% disapproval) according to an October 28 Gallup poll; 43.9% (53% disapproval) according to an October 31 RealClear Politics.

Will Trump be a coattail-President elevating the Republican party to mid-term election gains in the House and Senate, as has happened on rare occasions, such as the 1934 election (President Roosevelt), 1998 (President Clinton) and 2002 (President G.W. Bush)?

Or, will Trump be an anchor-chained President pulling the Republican party down to significant losses – and even to minority status in one/both Chambers – as has usually been the case: President Obama (2014 and 2010), President G.W. Bush (2006), President Clinton (1994), President G.H. Bush (1990), President Reagan (1986 and 1982), President Carter (1978), President Ford/Nixon (1974), etc.?

Since 1950, a sitting President’s party has lost an average of 24 House seats in the mid-term election, which is the minimum required for a Democratic House majority in 2019.  The current balance is: 241 Republicans and 194 Democrats.

The Senate hurdle – facing the Democrats – is much higher, since the 35 Senate seats up for the coming November election consist of 9 Republicans and 26 Democrats, 10 of whom are in states won by President Trump in 2016 (only 1 Republican incumbent from a state won by Hilary Clinton in 2016), and 13 Democratic incumbents from states with a republican governor (no Republican incumbent from a state governed by a Democrat).

While sustaining the Republican majority in the House and Senate would maintain President Trump’s relative-freedom of operation, a loss of one/two Chambers would tie his hands internally and globally, commercially and militarily, due to the power of the US Legislature, which was deemed by the Founding Fathers as the “secret weapon” against a potential tyranny of the Executive.

The centrality of the US constituent and Congress

The unique power of the US Legislature – compared to all other democracies – was crafted by the 1789 US Constitution, which enshrined the concept of liberty (impacted by the Biblical concept of Jubilee, as inscribed on the Liberty Bell), by ensuring the co-equal, co-determining and independent status of the Legislature, as defined by the first article of the Constitution.

At the same time, the Constitution limits the power of the President, who – unlike other Western democracies – is not a super legislator, does not determine the legislative agenda, nor the identity of the legislators and the leaderships of the House and Senate, committees and subcommittees.

The natural ultra-ambition of the Executive branch is neutralized (in the US) by a complete separation of power among the co-equal and co-determining Legislature, Executive and Judiciary; an elaborate system of checks and balances; endowing the Legislature with the Power of the Purse and Oversight of the Executive; and the co-existence of the Federal government side-by-side with the governments of the 50 States. This transforms the American voters into the strongest constituents in the globe, directly determining the fate of their legislators, and the level of Presidential maneuverability, every two years.

Therefore, legislators are loyal, first and foremost, to their constituents, lest they follow in the footsteps of Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley (defeated in the 1994 general election) and Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (defeated in the 2014 primaries), who were substantially more engaged with national party issues, than with the concerns of their district constituents. In fact, the clout of constituents – who opposed the increase of imports – caused 2/3 and over 1/2 of the Democratic House Representatives to vote against Democratic President Clinton’s Free Trade Agreements with China (in 2000) and Canada (in 1993) respectively.

The US Constitution provides Congress with the power to limit, amend, suspend, rescind, fund/defund and investigate Presidential policies, establish and abolish government agencies (e.g., in 1947 and 2001, Congress established the CIA and the Department of Homeland Security respectively), initiate and terminate the development of military systems, confirm/reject appointments to top government positions, ratify/reject international treaties, covenants and agreements, impose/remove sanctions on foreign countries, etc.

Amending the US Constitution requires a 2/3 majority in both Chambers in addition to 3/4 of the Legislatures of the 50 States – a majority which is extremely difficult to assemble, and therefore only 27 Amendments to the Constitution have been approved so far.

Legislators prefer to focus on district and state issues – which preoccupy their constituents – rather than national security and foreign policy issues, which attract the attention of a slim percentage of the constituency.  However, the Legislature can flex its awesome muscle and severely limit or overrule a President – on domestic, national security and foreign policy issue – when a President acts like a monarch, ignores the Legislature, implements a significantly failed policy, or departs sharply from the worldview of US voters.

Globalization has expanded the number of congressional districts, which depend on foreign trade and the global arena, hence the substantially expanded number of legislators involved in international-oriented legislations.

Limiting the Commander-in-Chief

While the US Constitution (Article 2, Section 2) refers to the President as the Commander-in-Chief, his maneuverability can be heavily constrained by Congress.

For example, in 1974, Congress legislated – in defiance of the Administration – the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which facilitated the Aliyah (immigration) of one million Soviet Jews to Israel.  In 1964, Congress passed the “Gulf of Tonkin Resolution,” which authorized President Johnson to launch the military involvement in Vietnam, but in 1973 – in defiance of President Nixon – the Church-Case Amendment terminated the US military involvement in Southeast Asia, as did the Clark Amendment (1976) and the Boland Amendment (1984) – in defiance Presidents Ford and Reagan respectively – to the US military involvement in Angola and Nicaragua, respectively. In 1986, Congress overrode President Reagan’s veto of the Comprehensive Apartheid Act, which paved the road to ending South Africa’s Apartheid regime. In 1999, President Clinton signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but the Senate has yet to ratify it. The 2012 Defense budget included Congressional sanctions, which halved Iran’s oil export, contrary to President Obama’s policy. In 2012, in opposition to President Obama’s stance – Congress reduced foreign aid to the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt by $450MN. In 2015, the Senate refused to ratify the Iran Nuclear Agreement (JCPOA), thus enabling President Trump to withdraw from the agreement in 2018. In 2017/2018, Congress enacted the Russian Sanctions Bill, notwithstanding President Trump’s opposition.

Congress and Israel

Being the most authentic representative of the US constituency, both Congressional chambers reflect the special attitude by the American people toward the Jewish State since the 17th century’s Early Pilgrims. According to the 2018 annual Gallup poll of country-favorability, Israel benefits from a 74% favorability (71% in 2017).  Israel is perceived as a special ally, morally and strategically, in a region with is vital to the US economy, national and homeland security.

For instance, in 1891 – six years before the First Zionist Congress – 431 top US personalities, including the Chief Justice, the House Speaker, additional Congressional leaders, Governors, Mayors and businessmen, signed the (William) Blackstone Memorial, calling for the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. In 1947/48, the State Department, Pentagon and CIA, along with the NY Times – in contradiction to public opinion and Congress – lobbied brutally against the establishment of the Jewish State. In 1957, leaders of the US Senate and House (led by then Senate Majority Leader LBJ) forced President Eisenhower to retreat from imposing sanctions on Israel (in an attempt to force an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza), but they were “outflanked” by Israel’s full withdrawal…. During 1990-1992, Congress (led by the late Senator Daniel Inouye – D-HI) expanded US-Israel strategic cooperation unprecedentedly, notwithstanding the systematic, aggressive opposition by President G.H. Bush and Secretary of State Jim Baker. In 2014, Congress thwarted President Obama’s attempt – during the Protective Edge war in Gaza – to withhold $225MN, which were committed to Israel’s acquisition of Iron Dome’s missiles.

The 400 year old roots of the special American attitude toward the Jewish State; the track record of Israel as a uniquely unconditional, reliable, effective ally, militarily, economically, scientifically and morally; as well as Israel’s role/potential in face of the mounting challenges and threats to the US and the Free World, provide for the sustained Congressional support of enhanced US-Israel strategic cooperation, in spite of the retirement of a relatively-large number of pro-Israel legislators, and the expected election of a few potentially-hostile new legislators.

The US public, in general, and the 2019 incoming Congress, in particular, will approach Israel, by and large, in accordance with Israel’s proven and potential contribution – to the US – in facing the threats of the anti-US Iran’s Ayatollahs; Sunni and Shite terrorism (from the Middle East to Latin America); and the need to bolster the pro-US Arab regimes, which have the Ayatollahs’ machete at their throats.

The incoming Congress will become, increasingly, aware of Israel’s proven capabilities (already benefitting the US and the pro-US Arab regimes) in the areas of intelligence, counter-terrorism, conventional warfare, counter-Cyber warfare, upgrading and developing military systems, groundbreaking hi-tech innovations, irrigation, agriculture, etc.

The November 2018 midterm election will produce the 116th Congress, which will determine the domestic and international maneuverability of President Trump, including US-Israel relations, which have been transformed from a one-way street to a mutually-beneficial, two-way street relations, increasingly benefitting the US militarily and economically.

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Demography

Demographic optimism IN, demographic pessimism OUT

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
October 2, 2023

The suggestion that Israel should retreat from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) is based, partly, on the assumption that the Jewish majority is exposed to an “Arab demographic time bomb,” which would explode if Israel were to apply its law to Judea and Samaria.

However, Israel’s Jewish majority is not vulnerable to an “Arab demographic time bomb,” but benefits from demographic momentum, fertility-wise and migration-wise.

Arab demography artificially inflated

This erroneous assumption is based on the official Palestinian numbers, which are embraced and reverberated by the global community – with no due-diligence auditing – ignoring a 1.6-million-person artificial inflation of the reported number of Arabs in Judea and Samaria.

For instance:

*The official Palestinian census includes 500,000 residents, who have been away for over a year, while international standards require their elimination from the census (until they return for, at least, 90 days).  This number was documented by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (325,000 in 1997), Election Commission (400,000 in 2005) and the Ministry of Interior, increasing systematically through births.

*The Palestinian census ignores the net-emigration of 390,000 since the first 1997 census, as documented by Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority, which supervises Israel’s international passages.

*375,000 Jerusalem Arabs and more than 150,000 (mostly) Judea and Samaria Arabs, who married Israeli Arabs are doubly-counted (by Israel and the Palestinian Authority). This number increases systematically through births.

*A September 2006 World Bank report documented a 32% artificial inflation of the number of births.  At the same time, death has been substantially underreported as evidenced by the 2007 Palestinian census, which included Arabs born in 1845….   

*The aforementioned data indicates an artificial inflation of 1.6 million in the Palestinian census of Judea and Samria Arabs: 1.4 million – not 3 million – Arabs.

Arab demography Westernized

Contrary to Western conventional wisdom, Arab demography has been westernized dramatically in recent years, from a fertility rate of 9 births per woman west of the Jordan River during the 1960s to 2.85 births in 2021 in pre-1967 Israel and 3.02 in Judea and Samaria.

The westernization of Arab demography has been a result of sweeping urbanization. From a 70%-rural-population in Judea and Samaria in 1967, to a 77%-urban-population in 2022.  In addition, almost all girls complete high school, resulting in the expanded integration of women in employment and academia, as well as an increase in wedding age (from 15 to 24-year-old).  Moreover, there has been an expansion of the use of contraceptives (70% of women in the Palestinian Authority) and a shorter fertility cycle (25 through 45 in 2022 compared to 16 through 55 during the 1960s).

Demographic westernization has occurred in the entire Moslem World, other than the Sub-Saharah countries: In 2022, Jordan – 2.9 births per woman, Iran – 1.9, Saudi Arabia – 1.9, Morocco – 2.27, Iraq – 3.17, Egypt 2.76, Yemen – 2.91, the UAE – 1.62, etc.

Jewish demographic momentum

Israel’s Jewish demography features a fertility momentum – especially in the secular sector – simultaneously with a moderate decline in the ultra-orthodox sector. In fact, Jewish fertility (3.13 births per woman) is higher than any Arab country, other than Iraq’s (3.17). The OECD’s average fertility rate is 1.61 births per woman.

In 2022, the number of Jewish births (137,566) was 71% higher than in 1995 (80,400), while the number of Arab births (43,417) was 19% higher than in 1995 (36,500).

Contrary to most global societies, Israel enjoys a positive correlation between the level of fertility, on the one hand, and the level of education, income, urbanization and (the rise of) wedding age on the other hand.

The growth of Jewish fertility reflects a high level of patriotism, optimism, attachment to roots, communal responsibility, frontier mentality, high regard for raising children and the decline in the number of abortions.

The Jewish population is growing younger, while the Arab population is growing older.

Until the 1990s, there was a demographic race between Arab births and Jewish immigration.  Since the 1990s, the race is between Jewish and Arab births, while net-migration provides a robust boost to Jewish demography.

The Jewish demographic momentum has been bolstered by an annual Aliyah (Jewish immigration) – which has been the most critical engine of Israel’s economic, educational, technological and military growth – simultaneously with the declining scope of annual emigration.  From an additional 14,200 emigrants in 1990 to 10,800 in 2020, while the overall population has doubled itself since 1990. A substantial decline in emigration has taken place since the 2007/2008 global economic meltdown, which has underscored the relative stability and growth of Israel’s economy.

In 2023, there has been an increase in Aliyah. This highlights a potential of 500,000 Olim (Jewish immigrants) in five years – from Europe, the former USSR, Latin and North America – should the Israeli government resurrect the pro-active Aliyah policy, which defined Israel from 1948-1992.

The bottom line

In 1897, upon convening the First Zionist Congress, there was a 9% Jewish minority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel.

In 1948, upon the establishment of the Jewish State, there was a 39% Jewish minority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel.

In 2022, there was a 69% Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel (7.5 million Jews, 2 million Arabs in pre-1967 Israel and 1.4 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria), benefiting from a tailwind of fertility and net-migration.

Those who claim that the Jewish majority – in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel – is threatened by an Arab demographic time bomb are either dramatically mistaken, or outrageously misleading.

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Iran

Diplomatic option toward Iran is self-destructive

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
December 19, 2023

*The US State Department’s diplomatic option has facilitated the transformation of Iran from “the American policeman of the Gulf” to “the largest anti-American venomous octopus in the world,” stretching its rogue arms from the Persian Gulf through Africa to Latin America and the US-Mexico border, which it perceives as the soft underbelly of the US.

*The diplomatic option – including a frail US response to sustained Iranian attacks on US installations in the Persian Gulf region – has aggravated Middle East instability, threatening the survival of every pro-US Arab regime, and is inducing anti-US global Islamic terrorism.  This is severely eroding US posture of deterrence, benefitting Russia, China and mostly Iran, while undermining US national and homeland security. 

*The diplomatic option has suspended most economic sanctions – without Congressional consent – surging Iran’s oil export from 500,000 barrels per day to 2-3 million barrels per day, increasing Iran’s national income by some $100bn, mostly dedicated to bolster Iran’s anti-US rogue operations, increasingly in Latin America, the US’ backyard.

*The diplomatic option has consistently overlooked the decisive power of the Ayatollahs’ imperialistic ideology, and its determination to export the anti-US Islamic Shiite Revolution. Consequently, the State Department has deluded itself into believing that an astounding financial and diplomatic bonanza would induce Iran’s Ayatollahs to accept peaceful coexistence with their pro-US Arab Sunni neighbors, become good-faith negotiators, and abandon their 1,400-year-old religious, fanatic vision, which is enshrined in their Constitution, K-12 school curriculum, Friday mosque sermons and official media.

*However, as expected, the mega-billion-dollar bonanza yielded by the diplomatic option (e.g., the 2015 JCPOA and the current suspension of economic sanctions) has bolstered its global terroristic network, advancing its vision to topple all pro-US Sunni regimes, and bring the “infidel” West to submission, especially the “The Great American Satan,” while egregiously oppressing and suppressing Iranian women and religious and ethnic minorities.  

*The State Department’s diplomatic option was initiated in 1978/1979, stabbing in the back the pro-US Shah of Iran, and contending that Ayatollah Khomeini was anti-Communist and therefore potentially pro-Western and a stabilizing element geopolitically, “…holding a Gandhi-like positionpreoccupied with tractors, not tanks….”

*Has the diplomatic option dumped the Monroe Doctrine?! In 2023, Iran’s Ayatollahs invest mega billions of dollars in fueling civil wars, terrorism, drug trafficking and money laundering throughout the Middle East, Africa and especially in Latin America. There, they collaborate – along with Hezbollah terrorists – with the drug cartels of Mexico, Columbia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, and train terror organizations. They cooperate with all anti-US governments (especially Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Bolivia), testing ballistic missiles, and supplying predator drones, attack boats, anti-ship missiles, and equipment for the construction of underground tunnels along the US-Mexico border, which smuggle drugs and illegal Middle East terrorists into the US.

*The bottom line is: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me!  After 44 years of being fooled by the Ayatollahs, critically undermining the strategic posture of the US and its allies, it is time to reassess the diplomatic option, and consider other options, such as regime-change and a credible military threat hovering above the head of the Ayatollahs.  

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Judea & Samaria

Secretary Blinken on settlements – vindicated by facts?

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
February 27, 2024

Secretary of State Antony Blinken represents conventional wisdom when claiming that “It’s been longstanding US policy… that new settlements are… inconsistent with international law.”

However, conventional wisdom is frequently demolished by the march of facts

For instance:

*According to Prof. Eugene Rostow, who was the co-author of the November 22, 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242, served as Undersecretary of State and was the Dean of Yale University Law School: “Jews have the same right to settle in the West Bank as they have in Haifa.”

*According to UN Resolution 242, Israel is required to withdraw from territories, not the territories, nor from all the territories, but some of the territories, which included Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.  Moreover, according to Prof. Rostow, “resolutions calling for withdrawal from all the territories were defeated in the Security Council and the General Assembly…. Israel was not to be forced back to the fragile and vulnerable [9-15 mile-wide] lines… but to secure and recognized boundaries, agreed to by the parties…. In making peace with Egypt in 1979, Israel withdrew from the entire Sinai… [which amounts to] more than 90% of the territories occupied in 1967….”

*Former President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, stated: “Between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967 (according to Article 52 of the UN Charter), on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has better title in the territory of what was [British Mandate] Palestine…. It follows that modifications of the 1949 armistice lines among those States within former Palestinian territory are lawful…. [The 1967] Israeli conquest of territory was defensive rather than aggressive… [as] indicated by Egypt’s prior closure of the Straits of Tiran, blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat, and the amassing of [Egyptian] troops in Sinai, coupled with its ejection of the UN Emergency Force…[and] Jordan’s initiated hostilities against Israel…. The 1948 Arab invasion of the nascent State of Israel further demonstrated that Egypt’s seizure of the Gaza Strip, and Jordan’s seizure and subsequent annexation of the West Bank and the old city of Jerusalem, were unlawful….” 

*The legal status of Judea and Samaria is embedded in the following 4 authoritative, binding, internationally-ratified documents, which recognize the area for what it has been: the cradle of Jewish history, culture, language, aspirations and religion.

(I) The November 2, 1917 Balfour Declaration, issued by Britain, calling for “the establishment in Palestine (a synonym to the Land of Israel) of a national home for the Jewish people….”
(II) The April 24, 1920 resolution, by the post-First World War San Remo Peace Conference of the Allied Powers Supreme Council, entrusted both sides of the Jordan River to the British Mandate for Palestine, for the reestablishment of the Jewish Commonwealth: “the Mandatory will be responsible for putting into effect the [Balfour] declaration originally made on November 2, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favor of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It was one of over 20 Mandates (trusteeships) established following WW1, responsible for the boundaries of most Arab countries.
(III) The July 24, 1922 Mandate for Palestine was ratified by the Council of the League of Nations, entrusted Britain to establish a Jewish state in the entire area west of the Jordan River, as demonstrated by its 6th article: “[to] encourage… close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands….” The Mandate was dedicated exclusively to Jewish national rights, while guaranteeing the civic rights of all other religious and ethnic groups. On July 23, 1923, the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Lausanne, which included the Mandate for Palestine.  
(IV) The October 24, 1945 Article 80 of the UN Charter incorporated the Mandate for Palestine into the UN Charter.  Accordingly, the UN or any other entity cannot transfer Jewish rights in Palestine – including immigration and settlement – to any other party. According to Article 80 of the UN Charter and the Mandate for Palestine, the 1967 war of self-defense returned Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria to its legal owner, the Jewish state.  Legally and geo-strategically the rules of “belligerent occupation” do not apply Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, since they are not “foreign territory,” and Jordan did not have a legitimate title over the West Bank.  Moreover, the rules of “belligerent occupation” do not apply in view of the 1994 Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty. The 1950-67 Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria violated international law and was recognized only by Britain and Pakistan.

*The 1949 4th Geneva Convention prohibits the forced transfer of populations to areas previously occupied by a legitimate sovereign power. However, Israel has not forced Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria, and Jordan’s sovereignty there was never legal.

*The November 29, 1947 UN General Assembly Partition Resolution 181 was a recommendation, lacking legal stature, superseded by the Mandate for Palestine. The 1949 Armistice (non-peace) Agreements between Israel and its neighbors delineated “non-territorial boundaries.”   

*The term “Palestine” was a Greek and then a Roman attempt (following the 135 CE Jewish rebellion) to eradicate Jews and Judaism from human memory. It substituted “Israel, Judea and Samaria” with “Palaestina,” a derivative of the Philistines, an arch enemy of the Jewish people, whose origin was not in Arabia, but in the Greek Aegian islands.    

*The aforementioned march of facts demonstrates that Secretary Blinken’s conventional wisdom on the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is based on gross misperceptions and misrepresentations, which fuels infidelity to law, undermining the pursuit of peace.

*More on the legality of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria in this article by George Mason University Law School Prof. Eugene Kontrovich.

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Jerusalem

United Jerusalem – a shared US-Israel legacy and interest

US departure from the recognition of a United Jerusalem as the exclusive capital of the Jewish State, and the site of the US Embassy to Israel, would be consistent with the track record of the State Department, which has been systematically wrong on Middle East issues, such as its opposition to the establishment of the Jewish State; stabbing the back of the pro-US Shah of Iran and Mubarak of Egypt, and pressuring the pro-US Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, while courting the anti-US Ayatollahs of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Arafat, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Houthis of Yemen; transforming Libya into a platform of global Islamic terrorism and civil wars; etc..

However, such departure would violate US law, defy a 3,000 year old reality – documented by a litany of archeological sites and a multitude of documents from Biblical time until today – spurn US history and geography, and undermine US national and homeland security.

United Jerusalem and the US law

Establishing a US Consulate General in Jerusalem – which would be a de facto US Embassy to the Palestinian Authority – would violate the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which became US law on November 8, 1995 with substantially more than a veto-override majority on Capitol Hill.

According to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which enjoys massive support among the US population and, therefore, in both chambers of Congress:

“Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….

“Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the state of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem….

“In 1990, Congress unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, which declares that Congress ‘strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected….’

“In 1992, the United States Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 113… to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, and reaffirming Congressional sentiment that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city….

“In 1996, the state of Israel will celebrate the 3,000th anniversary of the Jewish presence in Jerusalem since King David’s entry….

“The term ‘United States Embassy’ means the offices of the United States diplomatic mission and the residence of the United States chief of mission.”

United Jerusalem and the legacy of the Founding Fathers

The US Early Pilgrims and Founding Fathers were inspired – in their unification of the 13 colonies – by King David’s unification of the 12 Jewish tribes into a united political entity, and establishing Jerusalem as the capital city, which did not belong to any of the tribes (hence, Washington, DC does not belong to any state). King David entered Jerusalem 3,000 years before modern day US presidents entered the White House and 2,755 years before the US gained its independence.

The impact of Jerusalem on the US founders of the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist system and overall civic life is reflected by the existence, in the US, of 18 Jerusalems (4 in Maryland; 2 in Vermont, Georgia and New York; and 1 in Ohio, Michigan, Arkansas, North Carolina, Alabama, Utah, Rhode Island and Tennessee), 32 Salems (the original Biblical name of Jerusalem) and many Zions (a Biblical synonym for Jerusalem and the Land of Israel).  Moreover, in the US there are thousands of cities, towns, mountains, cliffs, deserts, national parks and streets bearing Biblical names.

The Jerusalem reality and US interests

Recognizing the Jerusalem reality and adherence to the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act – and the subsequent recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the site of the US Embassy to Israel – bolstered the US posture of deterrence in defiance of Arab/Islamic pressure and threats.

Contrary to the doomsday assessments by the State Department and the “elite” US media – which have been wrong on most Middle East issues – the May 2018 implementation of the 1995 law did not intensify Palestinian, Arab and Islamic terrorism. State Department “wise men” were equally wrong when they warned that Israel’s 1967 reunification of Jerusalem would ignite a worldwide anti-Israel and anti-US Islamic volcanic eruption.

Adherence to the 1995 law distinguishes the US President, Congress and most Americans from the state of mind of rogue regimes and terror organizations, the anti-US UN, the vacillating Europe, and the cosmopolitan worldview of the State Department, which has systematically played-down the US’ unilateral, independent and (sometimes) defiant national security action.

On the other hand, US procrastination on the implementation of the 1995 law – by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama – eroded the US posture of deterrence, since it was rightly perceived by the world as appeasement in the face of pressure and threats from Arab/Muslim regimes and terrorists.  As expected, it radicalized Arab expectations and demands, failed to advance the cause of Israel-Arab peace, fueled Islamic terrorism, and severely undermined US national and homeland security. For example, blowing up the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and murdering 224 persons in August 1998; blowing up the USS Cole destroyer in the port of Aden and murdering 17 US sailors in October 2000; the 9/11 Twin Towers massacre, etc.

Jerusalem and Israel’s defiance of US pressure

In 1949, President Truman followed Secretary of State Marshall’s policy, pressuring Israel to refrain from annexing West Jerusalem and to accept the internationalization of the ancient capital of the Jewish people.

in 1950, in defiance of brutal US and global pressure to internationalize Jerusalem, Prime Minister David Ben Gurion reacted constructively by proclaiming Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State, relocating government agencies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and settling tens of thousands of Olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) in Jerusalem. He upgraded the transportation infrastructure to Jerusalem, erected new Jewish neighborhoods along the 1949 cease fire lines in Jerusalem, and provided the city land reserves for long-term growth.

In 1953, Ben Gurion rebuffed President Eisenhower’s pressure – inspired by Secretary of State Dulles – to refrain from relocating Israel’s Foreign Ministry from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In 1967, President Johnson followed the advice of Secretary of State Rusk – who opposed Israel’s 1948 Declaration of Independence – highlighting the international status of Jerusalem, and warned Israel against the reunification of Jerusalem and construction in its eastern section. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol adopted Ben Gurion’s statesmanship, fended off the US pressure, reunited Jerusalem, built the first Jerusalem neighborhood beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines, Ramat Eshkol, in addition to the first wave of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (West Bank), the Jordan Valley and the Golan Heights.

In 1970, President Nixon collaborated with Secretary of State Rogers, attempting to repartition Jerusalem, pressuring Israel to relinquish control of Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, and to stop Israel’s plans to construct additional neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem.  However, Prime Minister Golda Meir refused to rescind the reunification of Jerusalem, and proceeded to lay the foundation for additional Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines: Gilo, Ramot Alon, French Hill and Neve’ Yaakov, currently home to 150,000 people.

In 1977-1992, Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir defied US and global pressure, expanding construction in Jerusalem, sending a clear message: “Jerusalem is the exclusive and non-negotiable capital of Israel!”

“[In 1978], at the very end of [Prime Minister Begin’s] successful Camp David talks with President Jimmy Carter and President Anwar Sadat, literally minutes before the signing ceremony, the American president had approached [Begin] with ‘Just one final formal item.’ Sadat, said the president, was asking that Begin put his signature to a simple letter committing him to place Jerusalem on the negotiating table of the final peace accord.  ‘I refused to accept the letter, let alone sign it,’ rumbled Begin. ‘If I forgot thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning,’ said [Begin] to the president of the United States of America, ‘and may my tongue cleave to my mouth’ (The Prime Ministers – An Intimate Portrait of Leaders of Israel, 2010)”

In 2021, Prime Minister Bennett should follow in the footsteps of Israel’s Founding Father, Ben Gurion, who stated: “Jerusalem is equal to the whole of the Land of Israel. Jerusalem is not just a central Jewish settlement. Jerusalem is an invaluable global historical symbol. The Jewish People and the entire world shall judge us in accordance with our steadfastness on Jerusalem (“We and Our Neighbors,” p. 175. 1929).”

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Jewish Holidays

Chanukah guide for the perplexed, 2023

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
November 29, 2023

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1. According to Israel’s Founding Father, David Ben Gurion: Chanukah commemorates “the struggle of the Maccabees, which was one of the most dramatic clashes of civilizations in human history, not merely a political-military struggle against foreign oppression…. Unlike many peoples, the meager Jewish people did not assimilate.  The Jewish people prevailed, won, sustained and enhanced their independence and unique civilization…. It was the spirit of the people, rather than the failed spirit of the establishment, which enabled the Hasmoneans to overcome one of the most magnificent spiritual, political and military challenges in Jewish history….” (Uniqueness and Destiny, pp 20-22, David Ben Gurion, IDF Publishing, 1953).

2. A Jewish national liberation holiday.  Chanukah (evening of December 7 – December 15, 2023) is the only Jewish holiday that commemorates an ancient national liberation struggle in the Land of Israel, unlike the national liberation holidays, Passover, Sukkot/Tabernacles and Shavu’ot/Pentecost, which commemorate the liberation from slavery in Egypt to independence in the land of Israel, and unlike Purim, which commemorates liberation from a Persian attempt to annihilate the Jewish people.

3. Chanukah and the Land of Israel.  When ordered by Emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid region to end the Jewish “occupation” of Jerusalem, Jaffa, Gaza, Gezer and Akron, Shimon the Maccabee responded: “We have not occupied a foreign land…. We have liberated the land of our forefathers from foreign occupation (Book of Maccabees A: 15:33).”

Chanukah highlights the centrality of the Land of Israel in the formation of Jewish history, religion, culture and language. The mountain ridges of Judea and Southern Samaria (the West Bank) were the platform for the Maccabean military battles: Mitzpah (the burial site of the Prophet Samuel, overlooking Jerusalem), Beth El (the site of the Ark of the Covenant and Judah the Maccabee’s initial headquarters), Beth Horon (Judah’s victory over Seron), Hadashah (Judah’s victory over Nicanor), Beth Zur (Judah’s victory over Lysias), Ma’aleh Levona (Judah’s victory over Apolonius), Adora’yim (a Maccabean fortress), Eleazar (named after Mattityahu’s youngest Maccabee son), Beit Zachariya (Judah’s first defeat), Ba’al Hatzor (where Judah was defeated and killed), Te’qoah, Mikhmash and Gophnah (bases of Shimon and Yonatan), the Judean Desert, etc.

4. Historical context  Chanukah is narrated in the four Books of the MaccabeesThe Scroll of Antiochus and The Wars of the Jews.

In 323 BCE, following the death of Alexander the Great (Alexander III) who held Judaism in high esteem, the Greek Empire was split into three independent and rival mini-empires: Greece, Seleucid/Syria and Ptolemaic/Egypt.

In 175 BCE, the Seleucid/Syrian Emperor Antiochus (IV) Epiphanes claimed the Land of Israel. He suspected that the Jews were allies of his Ptolemaic/Egyptian enemy.  The Seleucid emperor was known for eccentric behavior, hence his name, Epiphanes, which means “divine manifestation.”  He aimed to exterminate Judaism and convert Jews to Hellenism. In 169 BCE, he devastated Jerusalem, attempting to decimate the Jewish population, and outlaw the practice of Judaism.

In 166/7 BCE, a Jewish rebellion was led by the non-establishment Hasmonean (Maccabee) family from the rural town of Modi’in, half-way between Jerusalem and the Mediterranean.  The rebellion was headed by Mattityahu, the priest, and his five sons, Yochanan, Judah, Shimon, Yonatan and Eleazar, who fought the Seleucid occupier and restored Jewish independence.  The Hasmonean dynasty was replete with external and internal wars and lasted until 37 BCE, when Herod the Great (a proxy of Rome) defeated Antigonus II Mattathias.

5. The reputation of Jews as superb warriors was reaffirmed by the success of the Maccabees on the battlefield. In fact, they were frequently hired as mercenaries by Egypt, Syria, Carthage, Rome and other global and regional powers.

6. The significance of Chanukah. Chanukah celebrates the Maccabean-led national liberation by conducting in-house family education and lighting candles for 8 days in commemoration of the re-inauguration of Jerusalem’s Jewish Temple and its Menorah (candelabra).

The Hebrew words Chanukah (חנוכה), inauguration (חנוכ) and education ((חנוך possess the same root.

7. As was prophesized by the Prophet Hagai in 520 BCE, the re-inauguration of the Temple took place on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev, which is the month of miracles, such as the post-flood appearance of Noah’s rainbow, the completion of the construction of the Holy Ark by Moses, the laying of the foundations of the Second Temple by Nehemiah, etc.

In 1777, Chanukah candles were lit during the most critical battle at Valley Forge, which solidified the victory of George Washington’s Continental Army over the British monarchy.

The 25th Hebrew word in Genesis is “light,” and the 25th stop during the Exodus was Hashmona (the same Hebrew spelling as Hasmonean-Maccabees).

The first day of Chanukah is celebrated when daylight hours are equal to darkness hours – and when moonlight is hardly noticed – ushering in brighter days.

8. Chanukah highlights the defeat of darkness, disbelief, forgetfulness and pessimism by the spirit of light, faith, commemoration and optimism over.

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Golan

Secretary Blinken on settlements – vindicated by facts?

Islamic Terrorism

US and Israel facing the mutual threat of Islamic terrorism

Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative”
February 21, 2024

*FBI Director Christopher A. Wray visited Israel on February 14, 2024, during the Israel-Hamas and Israel-Hezbollah wars, meeting with leaders of the Mossad, Israel’s Secret Service, and Israel’s National Police in order to benefit from Israel’s unique urban and tunnel warfare experience and battle tactics in the war against Islamic terrorists, who are advancing the vision of Iran’s Ayatollahs and the Moslem Brotherhood.

*Director Wray considers Israel’s as the most effective battle-tested laboratory of the US armed forces, law enforcement agencies and defense industries.

*Director Wray is aware of the Ayatollahs’ and Hezbollas’ growing entrenchment in Mexico, along the US-Mexico border and throughout Latin America. In fact, since the early 1980s, Iran’s Ayatollahs and Hezbollah have entrenched themselves in Latin America, bolstering collaboration with the drug cartels of Mexico, Columbia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, all Latin American terror organizations, and each anti-US Latin American government. They supply the drug cartels underground tunnel construction equipment, and train them in the areas of car bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices. In addition, they have leveraged the convoys of illegal aliens from Guatemala to the US-Mexico border, smuggling terrorists and drug traffickers into the US.

*Islamic terrorism has targeted the US since the early 19th century irrespective of US policy and independent of the identity of the US President.  Thus, Islamic terrorism afflicted the US during the presidencies of both Trump and Obama, G.W. Bush and Clinton, Reagan and Carter.

*Hamas is a branch of the Moslem Brotherhood – the largest Sunni terror organization with religious, educational and welfare branches – whose charter aims to topple all national Islamic regimes, establish a universal Islamic society, bring the Western “infidel” – and especially the USA – to submission, and establish Islam as the only legitimate and divinely-ordained religion.

*Hamas and Hezbollah are proxies of Iran’s Ayatollahs, whose Constitution highlights a megalomaniacal vision, which stipulates the toppling of all “apostate” (Sunni) regimes, asserting itself globally – beyond the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, all the way to Latin America – and bringing the “infidel” West, and especially “The Great American Satan” to submission.

*Since February 1979, when it toppled the Shah of Iran, the Ayatollahs’ regime has transformed Iran from “The American Policeman of the Gulf” to the leading anti-US epicenter of global terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering and the proliferation of advanced military systems.

*Israel’s war against Hamas and Hezbollah terrorism has bolstered the US’ defense against Islamic terrorism.

*On November 15, 2023, Director Christopher Wray testified at the House Committee on Homeland Security:

“The war in the Middle East has raised the threat of an attack against Americans in the US to a whole other level…. Since October 7th, we’ve seen a rogue gallery of foreign terrorist organizations call for attacks against Americans and our allies. Hezbollah threatened to attack US interests in the Middle East. Al-Qaida issued specific calls to attack the US. Al-Qaida called on jihadists to attack Americans and Jewish people everywhere. ISIS urged its followers to target Jewish communities in the US and Europe.

“Our most immediate concern is that individuals or small groups will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home. That includes homegrown violent extremists inspired by a foreign terrorist organization and domestic violent extremists…. We cannot discount the possibility that Hamas or another foreign terrorist organization may exploit the current conflict to conduct attacks on our own soil…. But it’s not just Hamas. As the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, Iran has directly, or by hiring criminals, mounted assassination attempts against dissidents and high-ranking current and former U.S. officials, including right here on American soil. Hezbollah, Iran’s primary strategic partner, has a history of raising money and seeking to obtain weapons here in the US…. Hezbollah has tried to seed operatives, establish infrastructure, and engage in spying here domestically, raising our concern that there may be contingency planning for future operations in the United States….”

*The bottom line is that FBI Director, Christopher Wray, is driven by Middle East reality, not by alternative, less frustrating, but self-destructive reality. Therefore, he does not subscribe to the diplomatic option in the battle against Islamic terrorism, and does not propose to negotiate with – and make financial and diplomatic concessions to – terrorists. He does not expect Iran to accept peaceful coexistence with its pro-US Sunni Arab regimes, conduct good faith negotiation, or abandon its 1,400-year-old fanatic vision. Director Wray attempts to defeat Iran-controlled Islamic terrorists. He does not expect Israel to slow down its war on Hamas, which is a proxy of Iran. Just like Saudi Arabia and all other pro-US Arab countries, Director Wray is aware that the obliteration of Hamas, militarily, politically and educationally, will bolster the posture of deterrence of both Israel and the USA, reducing terror assaults on pro-US Arab countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Morocco) and in the US mainland.

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