Weeks after the most significant Hamas-led terrorist attacks against Israel since 2014, the broader geopolitical landscape in the region puts Israel in the driver’s seat to seize greater opportunities to pressure terror groups.
The Abraham Accords not only heralded a new era of economic prosperity between the Jewish state and Gulf nations, but also an openness to push back jointly and publicly against the regional ambitions of Tehran and its destabilizing proxies across the Middle East. CUFI leaders who recently visited the UAE for the first time and met with Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed heard as much.
Bahrain, and more pointedly the UAE, have long opposed Hamas and political Islam. Those fears were borne out of concerns for domestic stability rather than an affinity for Israel.
Nevertheless, the most recent conflict was a major test of the durability of these accords, which today show no sign of fraying. In fact, it appears that Hamas only succeeded in damaging the “Palestinian narrative” and strengthening the Accords, by underscoring the threat of unpredictable Iranian-backed terror.
Read More: Haaretz
Some things are unforgettable. Like what we saw in Israel last week.
We were standing in a neighborhood, looking at the wreckage caused by the latest round of terrorist rockets. We were outside the home of a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor – at least, what was left of it. She wasn’t there, because she was in the hospital. She lost her legs and nearly her life. Her caretaker died when the house was destroyed.
While we stood there, the next-door neighbor came rushing out to meet us. Screaming and crying, she invited us into her home. It was badly damaged, too. When the rocket hit, she was holding her grandchild. The blast threw them into the wall. We could see the outline of her body, and even her hair, which had stuck there. Still crying, she and her husband hugged us close, and thanked us for being there.
There was nowhere else we wanted to be.
We went to Israel in the wake of war. Less than three weeks earlier, Israel’s citizens endured 11 straight days of rocket attacks. The Hamas terrorists bear full responsibility. They launched more than 4,300 rockets at Israeli schools, homes and synagogues. Their goal was to kill as many innocents as possible – innocents like the family we met.
Read More: Fox News
As the Biden administration seeks to re-enter the failed 2015 Iran nuclear deal, a new survey from the nation’s largest pro-Israel group gives cause for pause.
In a survey of 800 people conducted between April 26 and April 29 by GS Strategy Group, 40% of respondents self-identified as Democrats, 34% as Republicans, and 20% as independents. Out of that dataset, 65% of respondents said that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign, which has deprived Iran of funding to support terrorism and other malign activities, should remain in place. Democrats support that stance by a 31-point margin, while Republicans do so by 66 points and independents by 43 points.
In the survey, commissioned by Christians United for Israel and shared exclusively with theWashington Examiner, when asked to choose between the United States renewing the 2015 nuclear accord or maintaining sanctions against Iran, 56% favor keeping the sanctions.
One of the criticisms behind the nuclear agreement was that it was not submitted to the Senate as a treaty. Obviously, former President Barack Obama did not do so since he knew he would not have the required two-thirds majority to approve it. That bears note here because according to the poll, 69% of Democrats favor sending any restored deal to the Senate for ratification. 61% of both Republicans and independents share that sentiment.
Read More: Washington Examiner
On May 20, news broke of a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. Time will tell how long this cessation of violence lasts, but all people of conscience should welcome this news. In the days of the most recent round of conflict, U.S. support for Israel was integral to getting the situation to the point where Hamas’ rocket fire stopped.
That is why the faithful in Florida applauded the bipartisan chorus of Florida lawmakers in Tallahassee and Washington who spoke clearly, directly and unambiguously about Hamas’ onslaught against Israel. The message from these lawmakers was clear: Terrorism is wrong, and America supports Israel.
Our elected leaders helped lead the nation and the world in support of one of our most important democratic allies. In doing so, they showed that they understand that there is no justification for the attacks perpetrated by Hamas, and that Israel was defending itself with precision and speed, and in accordance with its obligations to protect innocent lives. By contrast, the thousands of rockets and missiles fired by Hamas, a terrorist organization, inflict nothing but pain and suffering.
Read More: The Ledger
To the great consternation of Palestinian human rights activists and the innocent Palestinian people living under Hamas rule in Gaza, terrorists, Europeans and the media are spreading a false narrative about the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. Bassam Eid, a well-respected Palestinian activist living in Jerusalem, said as much last week in a guest column that ran in Israeli media. It’s about influence, Eid says, and Hamas started a war with Israel “to seize the narrative and increase its own influence and control over Palestinians in Jerusalem.”
Hamas always wants to increase its influence and views terror as the means to that end. So, what made Hamas believe it could get away with raining missiles down on Israeli civilians? Hamas would have you believe it was a court decision, a police action or anything that Israel has control over. And that would be a lie.
The violent confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis in Jerusalem that immediately preceded Hamas rocket attacks were just a convenient foil—precisely how the terrorist playbook has read for more than two decades. Just as former U.S. Senator George Mitchell (D-ME) found in his role as lead investigator for the Sharm el-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in 2000 did not cause the Second Intifada (as the terrorists’ narrative suggested), so too will other investigators find that litigation over property in Sheikh Jarrah did not cause this latest spasm of rocket fire.
Read More: Newsweek
In recent days, local friends and acquaintances have understandably reached out to me asking variations of the same question: what is going on in the Middle East? The conventional wisdom is that there is no easy answer. But there is: the free and democratic nation of Israel was attacked by the terrorist group Hamas, and Israel is engaged in an armed conflict against the terrorists in an effort to keep her people safe.
Despite this simple truth, Israel’s detractors have repeatedly sought to justify Hamas’s terrorist onslaught. Some cite a housing dispute in east Jerusalem – despite the fact that Palestinian human rights activists reject this. Others argue that Israel’s defensive military operations are at fault, as if it were possible to ignore and accept hundreds of rockets being fired at Israeli cities every day.
The truth is far simpler than the moral and intellectual acrobatics necessary to justify attempted murder on the basis of faith or nationality. And this reality is exemplified in events that took place earlier this week at the Erez and Kerem Shalom border crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
On Tuesday, in the midst of the current conflict with the theocratic and tyrannical rulers of the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) sent convoys through these border crossings with humanitarian aid for the innocent Palestinians subjected to life under a terrorist regime. Israel was sending in fuel and medical equipment. Hamas attacked the conveys with mortars just as the trucks were passing through. A 19-year-old IDF soldier who was part of the humanitarian mission was wounded, and the border crossings were closed.
This stark moral contrast between Hamas and Israel is a constant in the conflict.
The IDF goes to great lengths to prevent Palestinian civilian casualties when it engages Israel’s terrorist foes. The IDF drops leaflets in areas that are soon to be struck, and even drops a small but loud device incapable of causing physical injuries on the roofs of buildings as a warning that a strike is coming so people will have a chance to leave. Yes, this enables terrorists to escape. But it protects innocent Palestinians, so for Israel, it is unquestionably worth it.
Read More: Yellow Hammer
American Jewish leaders reacted to the escalating situation in Israel on Monday with all condemning the rocket fire on Israel by Gaza terror groups.
American Jewish Committee CEO David Harris urged international support for Israel amid the rocket fire.
“The world needs to clearly and unambiguously recognize the nature and aims of Palestinian terrorist organizations, and specifically, their desire to wipe Israel off the map,” he said. “Hamas and its well-armed, Iranian-supported allies in Gaza are fundamentally opposed to Israel’s very existence and have employed rockets, missiles, incendiary balloons and other weapons to attack it.”
Harris said Hamas is falsely claiming that Israel was trying to change the status quo on the Temple Mount, and that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas further exasperated the tense situation by inciting Palestinians to defend the Al-Aqsa mosque just days after canceling planned Palestinian elections.
“Let’s be clear. Since 1967, Israel has protected freedom of worship for all religions in Jerusalem—a right denied to Jews during Israel’s first 19 years when Jordan was in control of the territory,” said Harris. “As in the past, Israel must take appropriate action to respond to the violence triggered by Hamas and supported by the P.A. If any other sovereign nation were being attacked as Israel is today, would its response be any different than Israel’s?”
He added that Hamas is using a legal dispute over a few homes in Jerusalem to spark a “wider conflict,” and that all Israelis, regardless of background, are being “forced yet again to seek shelter from the deadly threats of Palestinian violence.”
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations also condemned the rocket barrage, balming the “willful incitement by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that is instigating violence and unrest in Jerusalem.”
“We stand in solidarity with Israel as she continues to face lawlessness and rioting spurred by Palestinian leaders who are shameless fanning the flames of hate and violence with apparent disregard for the safety and security of Palestinians and Israelis alike,” said Dianne Lob, William Daroff and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference.
The umbrella group added that the rockets constitute a “clear violation of international law and must be condemned by the international community at once.”
In a statement, Christians United for Israel (CUFI) lamented that as Israelis celebrate Jerusalem Day, “Palestinian terrorists continue to fire a barrage of rockets targeting innocent men, women and children within Jerusalem and communities surrounding Gaza. We condemn these assaults, and unequivocally stand with the Jewish people and our nation’s greatest ally as she continues to fight for her right to exist in peace and security.”
The American Jewish Congress said it, too, stands in solidarity with Israel as “rockets from terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad continue to indiscriminately target Israeli cities.”
Importantly, it noted that “Israel has a right to protect itself and its citizens.”
Read More: JNS
The governors of Idaho and West Virginia signed into law this week anti-BDS legislation, while the Alabama State Senate passed a resolution promoting Holocaust education.
Idaho’s Anti-Boycott Against Israel Act, signed by Gov. Brad Little, said a public entity in the state may not enter into a large-scale contract with a company “unless the contract includes a written certification that the company is not currently engaged in, and will not for the duration of the contract engage in, a boycott of goods or services from Israel or territories under its control.”
West Virginia’s “prohibition on contracting with companies that boycott Israel,” signed by Gov. Jim Justice, noted that the state “has an economic and a humanitarian obligation to denounce and reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel, and to prevent the state or any of its instrumentalities from contracting with companies that engage in the movement.”
The Alabama legislature encouraged and endorsed Holocaust education by stating that public schools should teach students about the history of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust, as well as “the impact of personal responsibility, civic engagement and societal response in the context of the Holocaust.”
Read More: JNS
Perhaps the most perplexing of Washington’s bad habits is the knee-jerk regression of the newly empowered to return to the failed policies of the past. Both parties are guilty, and nowhere is this phenomenon more endemic than in America’s Middle East policy. In recent weeks, however, President Joe Biden’s administration has displayed an almost defiant opposition to recognizing the realities on the ground in the region. The Middle East has changed since Biden was last in office, and his policies should reflect the same.
For decades, the Palestinian Authority (PA) made the case that without American and international support, the PA would crumble, leaving Hamas, ISIS, or other terrorist organizations to usurp the supposedly moderate political leadership in Ramallah. Successive U.S. administrations accepted this flawed argument, particularly in the years after the disastrous 2006 Palestinian legislative election that briefly made Hamas leader Ismail Haniya the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, which allowed Palestinian leaders to demand immediate and unconditional forgiveness for its most egregious sins: support for terrorism and rampant corruption.
The PA’s partner in crime in perpetrating this fallacy has been the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA). It too has argued for years that its efforts are indispensable to avoid a complete Palestinian collapse. And, like their PA accomplices, UNRWA demanded the world look the other way as they turned classrooms into breeding grounds for hatred toward Israel and violated international norms by bestowing refugee status upon every generation of Palestinians.
Accordingly, both the PA and UNRWA, therefore, are guilty of perpetuating the Palestinian conflict and making any chance of its resolution increasingly challenging.
The dire warnings of political and economic Armageddon in Palestinian-controlled territories did not come to pass when the Trump administration ended U.S. support for both entities. In the PA’s case, the American calculous was simple: end the policy of paying terrorists or the United States will cease providing aid. The PA chose the latter. For UNRWA, things were a bit more complicated since the UN already has a refugee agency, deeming UNRWA completely unnecessary.
Utah has become the latest U.S. state to pass legislation targeting the anti-Israel BDS movement.
The bill sponsored by Utah State Sen. Daniel Hemmert and State Rep. Joel Ferry, known as the Anti-Boycott Israel Amendments, prohibits a government entity from contracting with a person that boycotts the State of Israel.
The legislation was welcomed by Christians United for Israel (CUFI), which supported the measure.
“I believe the passage of S.B. 186 is essential to demonstrate Utah’s continued support of Israel’s rights as a nation to engage in free trade without the unwarranted attempts to do damage to its economy. Israel is the U.S.’s best friend in the region and we should stand with her as opportunities allow,” said CUFI Utah state director Craig McCune, senior pastor at New Creation Church in the city of Sandy.
Read More: JNS
On Saturday, in a statement marking the mass murder of Armenian Christians in Ottoman Turkey, President Joe Biden became the first U.S. president to refer to the atrocity as a “genocide,” a symbolic move that nevertheless marks a major shift in U.S. policy. The move was lauded by portions of the Jewish community.
More than a century after the Ottomans murdered between 650,000 and 1.2 million Armenian Christians, the question of whether to use the word “genocide” to describe the atrocity has morphed into a global geopolitical controversy, with Turkey exerting its muscle to urge countries like the U.S. and Israel to avoid using the term. Biden’s declaration marked the end of a years-long effort by activists to push the federal government to use the word.
The push for congressional recognition of the Armenian genocide, which culminated in a near-unanimous 2019 resolution recognizing the genocide, was led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), a Jewish member of Congress whose L.A.-area district includes a sizable Armenian population. “The word ‘genocide’ is significant because genocide is not a problem of the past — it is a problem of today,” Schiff told JI. “By speaking the truth about this horrific period of history, refusing to be silent, and calling it a genocide, we can ensure that the United States is never again complicit.”
The announcement was met with resounding praise from a number of Republicans as well — conservative commentator Ben Shapiro credited Biden and called the move “long overdue.”
Read More: Jewish Insider
Upon taking office, President-elect Joe Biden will be greeted with a Middle East very different from the one he may recall from his days in the White House. Nowhere are these changes more apparent and more important than in the effort to curb Iran’s regional ambitions.
But to be successful in this context, Biden must acknowledge the current reality in the region and make use of the leverage afforded him.
Discussions about reengagement with Iran must acknowledge the historic realignment in the Middle East as enshrined in the Abraham Accords, and as such, any agreement with Iran must take into consideration the viewpoint of regional allies who unanimously opposed the original deal. A return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in its present form is thus a non-starter.
And despite elements of then candidate Biden’s September op-edon the subject, the President-elect and his camp seem to recognize this.
In August, Biden’s choice for Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said, “[Biden] would seek to build on the nuclear deal to make it longer and stronger if Iran returns to strict compliance.”
Read More: Haaretz
This year, Christians United for Israel, one of the most powerful voices for Israel in the United States, marked its 15th anniversary.
“We could never have imagined CUFI would achieve so much, so quickly. But God has blessed us because we are fulfilling our biblical mandate to stand with Israel and His Chosen people,” Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of CUFI, told JNS. “This said, I noted when we launched CUFI that there was a sleeping giant of Christian Zionism in this country. That giant has now been awakened. When millions of people share a passion for Israel, great things are possible.”
Still, the organization and the movement it represents, Christian Zionism, is also one of the least understood. For some American Jews, they see an organization rooted in Christian theology and are reminded of centuries of Christian persecution. Or for others, they see a movement that holds many traditional and conservative values, and consider it out of place in an increasingly diversifying world. Yet a deeper look into CUFI, through its leadership and grassroots supporters, reveals an organization that reflects the diversity and forward-thinking in its support for Israel, and not afraid to call out all forms of bigotry and anti-Semitism while remaining true to its biblical values.
“I won’t use the word ‘proud’ because the glory for CUFI’s success is God’s alone,” said Hagee. “The most significant achievement was bringing together millions of people from many different backgrounds and denominations across America in support of one single cause—Israel and the Jewish people.”
Read More: JNS
Several pro-Israel and Jewish organizations urged US legislators to pressure the United Nations to end hateful antisemitic content found in the curriculum of schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
The letter to Congress—spearheaded by Hadassah and signed by more than a dozen leading Jewish and pro-Israel groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith, the Orthodox Union, the Zionist Organization of America, the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement and Christians United for Israel—called on lawmakers to urge “UN Secretary-General António Guterres to shield students in UN-run schools from lessons steeped in antisemitism and supportive of violence.”
“It is critical that we stand together to demand systemic reform to educational materials used by … UNRWA before one more child is taught from textbooks riddled with hateful lessons,” the letter stated.
It cited a recent report by IMPACT-se that discovered how UNRWA staff have authored and disseminated educational content, which in some cases was “more egregious than that of the Palestinian Authority.”
The Biden administration is currently working to push its nominees for high office through the Senate confirmation process. The majority seems to be well-qualified and will be confirmed in a bipartisan manner, though not all are deserving of holding public office.
The president recently nominated a Washington insider, Colin Kahl, to serve as one of the highest-ranking officials in the U.S. Department of Defense. Kahl has earned many distinctions—mostly for being imprecise and incorrect about U.S. policy outcomes, and for being a reliably antagonistic anti-Israel voice.
In the coming days, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) will have the opportunity to vote on his nomination as a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services. He should vote “no” and send Kahl back to a Washington think tank where he can do no harm to our national security or our great allies in Jerusalem.
Kahl’s hostility towards Israel is beyond unconventional. It’s outlandish. While serving in the Obama administration, he led an effort to strip recognition of Israel’s true capital of Jerusalem from the Democratic Party’s platform. Around the same time, Kahl argued in The Washington Post that Israel’s daring 1981 operation to destroy Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor was a failure, despite its actual real-world success, and came dangerously close to pinning Saddam’s subsequent behavior on Israel.
Read More: JNS
WASHINGTON – Christians United for Israel (CUFI) published a full-page ad in six West Virginia newspapers this week asking state residents to urge Senator Joe Manchin to oppose the nomination of Colin Kahl to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy.
“Kahl’s hostility towards Israel is beyond unconventional,” the ad reads, in an op-ed from CUFI’s West Virginia State Director Pastor Doug Joseph. “It’s outlandish. While serving in the Obama administration, he led an effort to strip recognition of Israel’s true capital of Jerusalem from the Democratic Party’s platform. Around the same time, Kahl argued in The Washington Post that Israel’s daring 1981 operation to destroy Saddam Hussein’s Osirak nuclear reactor was a failure, despite its actual real-world success, and came dangerously close to pinning Saddam’s subsequent behavior on Israel.”
A centrist Democrat, Manchin is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has yet to schedule a vote on Kahl’s confirmation.
Pastor John Hagee, founder and chairman of CUFI, told The Jerusalem Post that the original action alert concerning the Kahl nomination focused on all members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“However, in looking at the foreign policy approach of the members of the committee, it is clear to us that Senator Manchin is the most likely swing vote,” he said. “Manchin opposed the Iran nuclear accord and hails from a state where support for Israel is extremely strong. We believe that Senator Manchin’s approach to the Middle East has reflected his constituents’ values, and therefore we wanted to ensure he heard from his constituents on the Kahl nomination.”
Read More: Jerusalem Post
As I watch the trailer for the forthcoming documentary Never Again?, it’s strange to hear myself talking about how I hated America and believed the Jews were responsible for all the evil in the world. But that was the reality of the person I was—a person I would be forced to confront during the making of this film. As I traveled to places of once-great significance in my life, especially after a long day of shooting, I became, in some ways, a spectator to my own life. I would remember the moments and details that led me into that darkest corner of the human mind, where one sheds any pretense of basic humanity in pursuit of an unjust and evil cause.
Thankfully, that person no longer exists. And in the 13 years since I changed my views, I’ve seen the world around me change—and the same ideology that once poisoned my mind grow, mutate and continue to poison the minds of young people all over the world.
It’s important to note that my radicalization did not take place in a madrasa in Pakistan or a university in Damascus; I was born and raised in England. I was raised to hate in a country that should largely be proud of its ambition to be truly tolerant.
Read More: Newsweek
WASHINGTON—Jewish and pro-Israel groups applauded the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain for signing historic agreements at the White House on Tuesday to normalize relations with Israel, the first Persian Gulf nations to normalize ties with the Jewish state.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee called the ceremony “a historic event in the advancement of peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.”
“Today’s ceremony sends a clear message that it’s a new era for Israeli-Arab relations. Peace in the region is possible through diplomacy, mutual recognition and negotiation,” said AIPAC. “We hope other nations in the Middle East and the Palestinian leadership will follow this inspiring example to bring conflicts in the region to an end and promote prosperity and cooperation.”
“The historic agreements signed today show that peace is on the march and the so-called Arab-Israeli conflict is increasingly an anachronism. Israel is strong and flourishing, and the Arab world is coming to see the Jewish state not as a foe, but as an ally against Iran and a partner for peace and prosperity,” said Christians United for Israel (CUFI) chairman Pastor John Hagee in a statement. “It is my sincere hope and prayer that other Arab nations will follow the UAE and Bahrain’s lead, and that the Palestinian leadership, in particular, will accept that peace with Israel is the only path forward.”
Read More: JNS