The State of California Prays to the Sun God

The Bogus Advantages of Solar Panels 

The state finds another way to make housing less affordable.

Wall Street Journal – The Editorial Board May 11, 2018

California is often where bad ideas spring to life these days, and they’re worth highlighting lest they catch on in saner precincts. Consider the state Energy Commission’s decision this week to mandate solar panels on all new homes. Meanwhile, Democrats bemoan the lack of affordable housing. Hmmm, maybe there’s a connection?

Regulators say the panels will add $8,000 to $12,000 to the cost of a home, which may be chump change in the Bay Area where the median home price is $1.2 million. But that’s a lot of money in Fresno or Bakersfield.

The commission’s estimate that the mandate will add only $40 to a monthly mortgage appears to assume that interest rates stay low forever, that the cost of panels continues to fall and that Congress extends the 30% renewable energy tax credit. The average cost of a rooftop solar panel system today is $18,840, which amortized at a 5.5% interest rate over 30 years is $107 a month.

Oh, and to ensure panels are operating efficiently, homeowners would have to pay between $300 and $500 for an annual cleaning and inspection. Repair costs average $650. This is a boon for contractors, which is why the home builders lobby endorsed the mandate. Crony green capitalism lives.

Regulators also say the panels will shave $80 off monthly utility bills, but that’s only because the state’s 50% renewable-energy mandate has made electricity so expensive. The retail rate of power in California is about 19.15 cents per kilowatt hour, twice as much as in Washington and a third higher than in Arizona.

Homeowners with solar panels also benefit from the state’s net metering subsidy, which compensates them for the excess power they produce and remit to the grid at the retail rather than wholesale rate. Yet California sometimes produces so much solar power that it has to pay Arizona to take it to avoid overloading power lines.

Thus, utilities pay homeowners to produce energy that they don’t need at a huge mark-up and then send it to Arizona at a loss. Brilliant. Balancing the electrical grid will also become more expensive and challenging due to the solar-panel mandate.

California’s astronomical housing costs are a result of these government mandates, zoning restrictions, and permitting fees. The state Legislative Analyst Office estimates that it costs between $50,000 to $75,000 more to build a home in California than in the rest of the country. 

Building a low-income housing unit costs about $332,000.

Last year the Democratic legislature approved a $4 billion general-obligation bond for the November ballot and imposed a $75 fee on mortgage refinancing to expand “affordable” housing. The Democratic model in a nutshell: Make housing more expensive with government mandates and then subsidize it, which makes it still more expensive.

Liberals have long supported more dense housing to cut carbon emissions, yet Democrats earlier this year killed legislation that would have streamlined reviews for housing projects by public transit stations. 

“Density for density’s sake doesn’t necessarily lead to affordability,” declared state Senator Ben Allen of the People’s Republic of Santa Monica.

All of this explains why hundreds of thousands of middle-class Californians are fleeing. 

In 2016 Arizona welcomed twice as many Californian refugees as Mexican immigrants. California’s labor force last year expanded by a mere 1% compared with 2.2% in Nevada and Arizona. Sharing a border with California is a gift that keeps on giving.

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Rabbi Meir Kahane’s open letter to the world describing its treatment of the Jew over the centuries.

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Jews once again play ostrich in Germany to their great peril

Jews celebrate the 70th anniversary of Israel’s re-birth

By Bret Stephens

New York Times  Opinion Columnist

April 20, 2018

Adam Armoush is a 21-year-old Israeli Arab who, on a recent outing in Berlin, donned a yarmulke to test a friend’s contention that it was unsafe to do so in Germany. On Tuesday he was assaulted in broad daylight by a Syrian asylum-seeker who whipped him with a belt for being “yahudi” — Arabic for Jew.

The episode was caught on video and has caused a national uproar. Heiko Maas, the foreign minister, tweeted, “Jews shall never again feel threatened here.”

It’s a vow not likely to be fulfilled. There were nearly 1,000 reported anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin alone last year. A neo-fascist party, Alternative for Germany, has 94 seats in the Bundestag. Last Thursday, a pair of German rappers won a prestigious music award, given largely on the basis of sales, for an album in which they boast of having bodies “more defined than Auschwitz prisoners.” The award ceremony coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day.

To be Jewish — at least visibly Jewish — in Europe is to live on borrowed time. That’s not to doubt the sincerity and good will of Maas or other European leaders who recommit to combating anti-Semitism every time a European Jew is murdered or a Jewish institution attacked. It’s only to doubt their capacity.

There’s a limit to how many armed guards can be deployed indefinitely to protect synagogues or stop Holocaust memorials from being vandalized. There’s a limit, also, to trying to cure bigotry with earnest appeals to tolerance. The German government is mulling a proposal to require recent arrivals in the country to tour Nazi concentration camps as a way of engendering a feeling of empathy for Jews. It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that, to the virulent anti-Semite, Buchenwald is a source of inspiration, not shame.

All this comes to mind as Israel this week marks (in the Hebrew calendar) the 70th anniversary of its independence. There are many reasons to celebrate the date, many of them lofty: a renaissance for Jewish civilization; the creation of a feisty liberal democracy in a despotic neighborhood; the ecological rescue of a once-barren land; the end of 1,878 years of exile.

But there’s a more basic reason. Jews cannot rely for their safety on the kindness of strangers, least of all French or German politicians. Theodor Herzl saw this with the Dreyfus Affair and founded modern Zionism. Post-Hitler Europe still has far to fall when it comes to its attitudes toward Jews, but the trend is clear. The question is the pace.

Hence Israel: its army, bomb, and robust willingness to use force to defend itself. Israel did not come into existence to serve as another showcase of the victimization of Jews. It exists to end the victimization of Jews.

That’s a point that Israel’s restless critics could stand to learn. On Friday, Palestinians in Gaza returned for the fourth time to the border fence with Israel, in protests promoted by Hamas. The explicit purpose of Hamas leaders is to breach the fence and march on Jerusalem. Israel cannot possibly allow this — doing so would create a precedent that would encourage similar protests, and more death, along all of Israel’s borders — and has repeatedly used deadly force to counter it.

The armchair corporals of Western punditry think this is excessive. It would be helpful if they could suggest alternative military tactics to an Israeli government dealing with an urgent crisis against an adversary sworn to its destruction. They don’t.

It would also be helpful if they could explain how they can insist on Israel’s retreat to the 1967 borders and then scold Israel when it defends those borders. They can’t. If the armchair corporals want to persist in demands for withdrawals that for 25 years have led to more Palestinian violence, not less, the least they can do is be ferocious in defense of Israel’s inarguable sovereignty. Somehow they almost never are.

Israel’s 70th anniversary has occasioned a fresh round of anxious, if not exactly new, commentary about the rifts between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry. Some Diaspora complaints, especially with respect to religion and refugees, are valid and should be heeded by Jerusalem.

But to the extent that the Diaspora’s objections are prompted by the nonchalance of the supposedly nonvulnerable when it comes to Israel’s security choices, then the complaints are worse than feckless. They provide moral sustenance for Hamas in its efforts to win sympathy for its strategy of wanton aggression and reckless endangerment. And they foster the illusion that there’s some easy and morally stainless way by which Jews can exercise the responsibilities of political power.

Though not Jewish, Adam Armoush was once one of the nonchalant when it came to what it means to be Jewish in the 21st century. Presumably no longer. For Jews, it’s a painful, useful reminder that Israel is not their vanity. It’s their safeguard.

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The Catholic Fracture via Pope Francis

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The Catholic Fracture Via Pope Francis

National Review  April 16, 2018
Pope Francis (center) during the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, October 2015. (Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images)

To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism, by Ross Douthat (Simon & Schuster, 256 pp., $26)

With this new book, Ross Douthat has done a service to all those who take an interest in the life and teachings of the Catholic Church.

Douthat, a political columnist who writes for a mostly secular audience, is exquisitely careful in delineating the factional fault lines within the Church under Francis. He credits Francis with a surprising turnaround in the media’s perception of the Church, one that seemed impossible after the nadir of the child-sex scandals.

But what motivates this book are not questions of politics or of media perceptions, but ones concerning theology: Does a pope have authority to change Church teaching? Can Christian doctrine develop in such a way that it has practically the opposite meaning in one age that it has in the next? Is the Church about to undergo a schism? And beneath it all, a much more personal question lurks.

Douthat’s account really takes off when he comes to narrate, and comment on, the hour-by-hour intrigue of the two-year Synod on the Family (2014–15). To much of the rest of the world, the Catholic Church looks like an inscrutable closed system, one in which the chief occasionally shows a different personality to the world but that otherwise functions like a machine according to its own internal logic, breaking down here or there, as machines do.

But watching the sometimes ugly maneuvering and wheedling of the Synod’s progressives, and the alternating attempts at flattery and bold confrontation by the Synod’s conservatives, all over theological concepts, will return many readers to the palace intrigue of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

Francis closed the proceedings of the first year’s synod with a speech that sought a middle ground between the two factions, placing himself at the center. At the close of the second year’s synod, the pope, obviously frustrated that his desired language had not received approval, thundered openly and hysterically against the conservatives.

With the subsequent papal document Amoris Laetitia (2016), Francis and his fellow progressive reformers sought to institute a legal and official way of granting Holy Communion to those who live in a state of life the Church traditionally recognizes as adultery, without calling them to repent and reconcile with their first spouse or to live “as brother and sister” in their new household.

This debate has opened up rhetorical tools the Church seemed to have put away: bishops charging other bishops with heresy, or with schismatical disobedience to the Roman pontiff. Douthat sensitively navigates the generational, political, and geographical features of this conflict: In general, the older, richer, and more European parts of the Church insist on change. The younger, poorer, and African parts insist on orthodoxy.

The Church’s liberal reformers often say that if the great mass of Catholics are failing to practice one of the Church’s teachings or recognize its authority in their lives, then they have not “received” that teaching, and that the teaching itself is to be blamed. The People of God can’t be so wrong, can they?

Reformers apply this to the Church’s prohibition on artificial contraception: Catholics flout the teaching. If the sheep do not recognize the voice of the shepherd, they reason, perhaps it isn’t the shepherd speaking. (For reasons I cannot grasp, they rarely apply this logic to the Beatitudes.)

The reformers, seeking to get their new policy’s nose under the tent, sought a “pastoral” change, not a doctrinal one: They claimed to be changing not the teaching but its application. But the theories undergirding their approach ultimately rewrote the moral law into a system of beautiful but unreachable moral ideals that could be only approximated in the lives of believers, not fully obeyed with the generous help and grace of God.

The practical effect of this change is to seek for signs not of repentance or holiness in believers but of stability and sincerity in their purpose. Instead of reaching out to wretches begging forgiveness, and falling down before the godliness of saints, this approach hallows the respectable and the bourgeois. The Church used to make mistakes in mystifying the authority of kings and potentates; now it is reduced merely to flattering remarried stockjobbers.

The greatest strength of Douthat’s book is the way he draws out how this supposedly “merciful” reform ultimately hollows out the authority of the Church — not because it is merely inconsistent with a previous paradigm, but because it contradicts the ultimate authority.

“This is where Francis-era liberal Catholicism has so often ended up,” Douthat writes: “in arguments that imply that the Church must use Jesus to go beyond Jesus, as it were, using his approach to the ritual law as a means to evade or qualify the moral law, which means essentially evading or qualifying his own explicit commandments, and declaring them a pharisaism that the late-modern Church should traffic in no more. To fulfill Jesus’s mission, to follow the Jesus of faith, even the Jesus of Scripture must be left behind.”

Francis’s men apparently thought that conservative bishops could be steamrolled on these points, believing that they were all spineless timeservers, morally compromised mediocrities, or at least sufficiently conditioned to accept and implement the documents that poured out of the Vatican.

In fairness to the conservative bishops, I should point out that, for some three decades, these Roman documents had been polished like gems by the exacting Joseph Ratzinger, first as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then as pope; and they stood out against the pious political dribble that is produced by most national conferences of Catholic bishops.

Further, Francis and his allies knew that the sacramental approach to the divorced and remarried, and even homosexuals, that they want to institute de jure is often the de facto way of the world even in many conservative dioceses. But it turned out, when the chips were down, that the conservatives were capable of putting up at least a little fight on behalf of the orthodoxy, at least on paper.

And ever since Francis’s fulminations, conservatives seem to have stopped boosting Francis, and instead, when possible, have passively resisted these reforms with simple noncompliance or nonrecognition. But their relatively feeble, disorganized, and hesitant resistance seems to have resulted in a stalemate, and the impression now is that this pontificate has stalled out and that Francis is playing a longer game.

Douthat outlines several possibilities for the Church’s future. He correctly locates Francis’s influence in his ability to shape the College of Cardinals and to choose bishops — but he asks whether this power can possibly overcome the generational conflict within Catholicism: “The real Francis legacy might be less a swiftly unfolding progressive revolution than a new impasse.

He could leave liberal Catholicism with control of the most important levers of power within the Church — but without having solved its longstanding manpower-and-enthusiasm problem. There might be fewer cardinals equipped to stop his would-be heirs — but also too few priests enthusiastic about following them.” This generational conflict is a staple of Francis’s own parables, which frequently pit young, fire-breathing priests who want to protect tradition and orthodoxy against wise old clerics who know how to be merciful. …

 Michael Brendan Dougherty is a senior writer at National Review Online

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The Iran-Israel Shadow War

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The 2015 nuclear deal has financed Iran’s Syria military buildup.

In a presentation on national TV, Mr. Netanyahu revealed the country’s spooks had obtained “half a ton” of documents and CDs from a secret facility in the Shorabad District in southern Tehran. The Israeli leader claims the files “conclusively prove” that Iran lied about its nuclear-weapons program before signing Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear pact, and that it has since worked to preserve its nuclear-weapons related capabilities.

Mr. Netanyahu offered photographs, videos, charts and blueprints from the intelligence haul relating to Tehran’s Project Amad, which the Israeli leader called “a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons.” The Iranians have always denied the existence of such a program, and the United Nations downplayed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in 2015.

Potomac Watch Podcast

It’s no coincidence that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif mentioned that 2015 U.N. assessment in a tweet Monday as evidence that Tehran should be trusted. Perhaps the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors would like to revisit those findings in light of this new evidence?

Mr. Netanyahu also claimed that the underground Fordow uranium enrichment facility was designed “from the get-go for nuclear weapons as part of Project Amad,” and misled the U.N. about its activities. The Iranians preserved Project Amad’s documentation and have kept its research team, headed by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, largely in place in a new organization housed within the Defense Ministry.

The Israelis have shared this information with the U.S., and Trump Administration officials said Monday it seems authentic. Mr. Trump has said he’ll decide by May 12 whether to withdraw from Mr. Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, and the Israeli intelligence findings are surely relevant. If Tehran is waiting until the deal sunsets starting in 2025 to rev up its reactors, then the evidence tilts toward withdrawal unless the deal can be reworked to make it permanent.

Meantime, Israel is taking action against Iran’s increasing military buildup in Syria near the Golan Heights. On Sunday Syria’s state news agency reported missile strikes hit military bases in Aleppo and Hama, destroying an arms depot and killing more than 20 fighters. Some of the dead were reported to be Iranians, though Iran denied it. Israel has a policy of not commenting on such strikes, but the force and accuracy of the strike could only have come from a state power like Israel. As long as both sides pretend not to be doing what they’re doing, they have an easier time avoiding escalation.

The intrigue was magnified by Mike Pompeo’s swing through Israel and other U.S. Middle East allies on his first trip as Secretary of State. One of his goals is to build a new alliance against Iranian aggression in the region. On Sunday he said that Iran is “the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and we are determined to make sure it never possesses a nuclear weapon,” adding that “the Iran deal in its current form does not provide that assurance.”

The issues are linked because Iran has used the windfall from the nuclear deal to fund its regional aggression. The sooner the world pushes back against Iranian imperialism, the better the chance of avoiding a much larger war.

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The Iran-Israel Shadow War

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The 2015 nuclear deal has financed Iran’s Syria military buildup.

Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a news conference at the Ministry of Defence in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 30.

In a presentation on national TV, Mr. Netanyahu revealed the country’s spooks had obtained “half a ton” of documents and CDs from a secret facility in the Shorabad District in southern Tehran. The Israeli leader claims the files “conclusively prove” that Iran lied about its nuclear-weapons program before signing Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear pact, and that it has since worked to preserve its nuclear-weapons related capabilities.

Mr. Netanyahu offered photographs, videos, charts and blueprints from the intelligence haul relating to Tehran’s Project Amad, which the Israeli leader called “a comprehensive program to design, build and test nuclear weapons.” The Iranians have always denied the existence of such a program, and the United Nations downplayed Tehran’s nuclear ambitions in 2015.

Potomac Watch Podcast

It’s no coincidence that Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif mentioned that 2015 U.N. assessment in a tweet Monday as evidence that Tehran should be trusted. Perhaps the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors would like to revisit those findings in light of this new evidence?

Mr. Netanyahu also claimed that the underground Fordow uranium enrichment facility was designed “from the get-go for nuclear weapons as part of Project Amad,” and misled the U.N. about its activities. The Iranians preserved Project Amad’s documentation and have kept its research team, headed by Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, largely in place in a new organization housed within the Defense Ministry.

The Israelis have shared this information with the U.S., and Trump Administration officials said Monday it seems authentic. Mr. Trump has said he’ll decide by May 12 whether to withdraw from Mr. Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, and the Israeli intelligence findings are surely relevant. If Tehran is waiting until the deal sunsets starting in 2025 to rev up its reactors, then the evidence tilts toward withdrawal unless the deal can be reworked to make it permanent.

Meantime, Israel is taking action against Iran’s increasing military buildup in Syria near the Golan Heights. On Sunday Syria’s state news agency reported missile strikes hit military bases in Aleppo and Hama, destroying an arms depot and killing more than 20 fighters. Some of the dead were reported to be Iranians, though Iran denied it. Israel has a policy of not commenting on such strikes, but the force and accuracy of the strike could only have come from a state power like Israel. As long as both sides pretend not to be doing what they’re doing, they have an easier time avoiding escalation.

The intrigue was magnified by Mike Pompeo’s swing through Israel and other U.S. Middle East allies on his first trip as Secretary of State. One of his goals is to build a new alliance against Iranian aggression in the region. On Sunday he said that Iran is “the greatest sponsor of terrorism in the world, and we are determined to make sure it never possesses a nuclear weapon,” adding that “the Iran deal in its current form does not provide that assurance.”

The issues are linked because Iran has used the windfall from the nuclear deal to fund its regional aggression. The sooner the world pushes back against Iranian imperialism, the better the chance of avoiding a much larger war.

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THE BUILDERS AND FOUNDERS OF THE CITY OF JERUSALEM

(A most beautiful, remarkable tale that will bring tears to your eyes)

By Rabbi Meir Y. Soloveichik

COMMENTARY, JANUARY 2018

Why does no one find it remarkable that in most world cities today there are Jews but no one single Hittite even though the Hittites had a great flourishing civilization while the Jews nearby were a weak and obscure people?

When one meets a Jew in New York or New Orleans or Paris or Melbourne, it is remarkable that no one considers the event remarkable. What are they doing here? But it is even more remarkable to wonder, if there are Jews here, why are there not Hittites here? Where are the Hittites? Show me one Hittite in New York City.

By Walker Percy

If I forget thee O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its cunning.
Psalm 137

In 1983, Yehudah Avner, a British Jew who had emigrated to Palestine and later served most of Israel’s prime ministers, was appointed Menachem Begin’s ambassador to the United Kingdom.

After 40 years in one of the most informal nations on earth, Avner now found himself back where he had been born, alighting a horse-drawn carriage at Buckingham Palace, “escorted by a chamberlain dressed like the Duke of Wellington,” presenting his ambassadorial credentials to the queen whose subject he had once been.

Though Elizabeth II had been greeting ambassadors for many decades, something about Avner struck her as extraordinary. “I do believe this is the very first time I have ever received credentials from a foreign ambassador actually born in this country,” she said. “How did you manage that?”

“Your Majesty,” said I, “though physically born in this country, I was spiritually given birth to in Jerusalem, from whence my ancestors were exiled by Roman legions 2,000 years ago.”

“Were they really?” said the queen. “How unfortunate!” and she began to talk about the weather. Droplets of sweat trickled down my armpits. Here was I alluding to the mysteries of Jewish history’s conundrums, and there was she talking about the weather.

What could she possibly know of the dreams of a 17-year-old Jewish boy in post-war Manchester…who now, 36 years later, had returned to the country of his birth bearing the credentials of the country of his birthright? How could she not be mystified?

Striking: A royal representative of a monarchy whose entire purpose is to embody history may have found the timeless nature of Jewish existence, and Judaism’s eternal bond to an ancient city, too mysterious to grasp.
The Jewish link to Jerusalem goes hand in hand with the mystery of Jewish eternity.

Established as Israel’s capital when the now extinct Hittites still bestrode the world, Jerusalem was the city toward which the Jews of Rome, Aleppo, Paris, Baghdad, and Berlin said their prayers, binding themselves thereby to one another as empire after empire became the Ozymandias of its age.

By continuing to lay claim to this bond, Jews remind the world that, as Chaim Weizmann said to Arthur Balfour, “we had Jerusalem when London was a marsh,” or, as Disraeli more pithily put it to an anti-Semitic parliamentary opponent, “while the ancestors of the right honorable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests in the temple of Solomon.”

This may not be something of which some European nations enjoy being reminded. It is with this in mind that we must understand the world’s angry overreaction to President’s Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem in his remarkable December 6 address. The speech was nothing less than the recognition of reality.

The “decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” writes Elliott Abrams, “is absolutely the right decision for one reason above all others: because Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.” Why then the international outcry? Abrams suggests that “hatred of Trump combines with longstanding anti-Israel bias, especially in the foreign ministries. The many phony statements of regret and copious crocodile tears about possibly forthcoming violence broadcast the clear hope that there would be plenty of rioting, just to prove Trump wrong.”

This is certainly correct; but there is, I believe, a deeper meaning to Europe’s displeasure. The world’s rage over the president’s announcement reveals a deeper dislike than of the president himself. Jerusalem, as Norman Podhoretz once put it in these pages, reflects what many consider “the scandal of Jewish particularity.”

The uniqueness of one city in the history of the world testifies to the enduring nature of one people on this earth. It is this notion, Podhoretz argued, that so many countries cannot tolerate, and it is this, not enthusiasm for a moribund peace process, that truly drives European anger today.

Meanwhile, the enduring, miraculous nature of Jews and their city is something many Americans have understood, and they have revered the Jewish link to Jerusalem long before the modern Jewish State was born. In 1871, William Seward, Abraham Lincoln’s one-time secretary of state, journeyed on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

As his travelogue recounts, “our last day at Jerusalem has been spent, as it ought to have been, among and with the Jews, who were the builders and founders of the city, and who cling the closer to it for its disasters and desolation.”

Seward spent several hours on a Friday afternoon at the Wailing Wall, admiringly observing the Jews who were “pouring out their lamentations over the fall of their beloved city, and praying for its restoration to the Lord, who promised, in giving its name, that he would ‘be there.’”

Upon departing at sunset, he encountered a rabbi who begged him to attend kabbalat Shabbat, Sabbath evening prayers, at the Hurvasynagogue, then the most magnificent Jewish house of worship in the Holy Land (it was destroyed by the Jordanians in 1948 and just recently rebuilt).

Seward sat through the entire service, which concluded with a special Hebrew benediction. “The rabbi informed us,” the travelogue reports, “that it was a prayer of gratitude for Mr. Seward’s visit to the Jews at Jerusalem.” This was nothing less than what Jewish law calls hakkarat ha-tov—an expression of Jewish gratitude to any world leader who publicly embraces the Jewish link to their eternal city.

This obligation of hakkarat ha-tov binds Jews today. And that is why, whether one is a supporter or a critic of the president, whether or not the State Department follows suit in adding “Israel” to the passports of those born in Jerusalem, whether the future peace plan proposed by this administration will be worthy of consideration or not, this speech should be recognized by Jews as one of the most important, and profoundly American, speeches Trump has given.

It will be remembered by an eternal people, a nation whose memory exceeds that of any other, a nation afflicted with so many enemies and too few friends, who are enjoined by God never, ever to forget.

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Rx: Agenda for Ambassador John Bolton: Guide President Trump with Iran, N. Korea, Islamist Terror

By Jed Babbin

The Washington Times , April 9, 2018

When former U.N. ambassador John Bolton steps into the national security adviser’s job next week, the hyperventilating media would have you believe that the first thing on his “to-do” list is to start a nuclear war with North Korea and probably launch an attack on Iran just because we can. That’s nonsense.

The media are terrified of Mr. Bolton because he is a conservative hawk and has made some very aggressive statements about the North Korean and Iranian regimes. He may be aggressive, but he’s neither crazy nor stupid.

Mr. Bolton will be the president’s third national security adviser, after retired generals Mike Flynn and H. R. McMaster. Mr. Flynn’s tenure was so brief he couldn’t accomplish much, which can’t be said of Mr. McMaster. He and departing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson dissuaded the president from taking some of the most important actions necessary to repair the damage to our nation’s security done by former President Obama.

There are at least four policy matters that could comprise an initial agenda for Mr. Bolton, each of which would significantly assist the president in bolstering our national security.

The first is to begin fighting the ideological war that Islamists have constantly waged against us and which we have never tried to counter. In August 2016 Mr. Trump, probably voicing what he had learned from Mr. Flynn, said, “Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”

Mr. Trump was right and strategically so. Radical Islamic terrorism is motivated by a religiously-based ideology. It can only be won by the defeat of that evil ideology.

Mr. McMaster has always insisted that there is no connection between Islam and terrorism. In that he is dangerously wrong. As national security adviser, Mr. Bolton, who better understands the threat, will be uniquely-positioned to commence and manage our ideological war. He will be able to assemble the best psychological warfare team from the CIA, the Pentagon and other agencies to craft and commence the campaign. He will be able to guide the president and other government leaders, to play their critical roles in defeating the Islamist ideology.

The ideological fight will take many years, perhaps decades, to win but there is no prospect of defeating this enemy unless it is won.

The next big item on Mr. Bolton’s agenda should be Mr. Obama’s 2015 nuclear weapons deal with Iran. Since his inauguration, Mr. Trump has been pressured — by Messrs. Tillerson and McMaster, as well as our European allies — to stick with the deal. 

In January, the president gave Iran and our allies until May to fix the deal’s defects, implying that unless it is fixed he will revoke it. No changes have been made. Mr. Bolton, from the outset highly critical of the deal, can be expected to press the president to do the right thing and cancel the deal in May.

Mr. Bolton steps into his new job at an opportune moment to address a third item on his agenda. The president is supposed to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un in the next few weeks. Mr. Bolton will be able to advise the president on the pitfalls of any proposed agreement with Mr. Kim. 

When the meeting ends, as it almost certainly will with no agreement other than to talk again, he will be able to convince the president to do far more than has been done to improve our defenses against ballistic missile attacks.

One of the ways to improve our ballistic missile defenses is a space-based system called “Brilliant Pebbles” first unveiled in the 1990s. It is a system of small interceptor missiles, linked to our satellite missile tracking systems, which — even with 1990s technology — would have made America almost penetration-proof against such attacks. Modern technology would make the system even more effective depriving many adversaries, not just North Korea, of a “first strike” capability.

The fourth item on Mr. Bolton’s agenda should be to recommence sending captured terrorists to the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Mr. Obama stopped the military and the CIA from sending any terrorists to Gitmo in 2008.

Gitmo, isolated and secure, is a place where terrorists can be interrogated at length. Such interrogations, which take place over months and even years, have proven to be a consistent source of actionable intelligence.

We are constantly lectured, by the left and self-proclaimed human rights advocates, that we have no right to hold prisoners indefinitely and that Gitmo is a propaganda tool used to recruit more terrorists. Under the law of war, we can hold prisoners until the conflict is over. It has never been demonstrated that Gitmo benefits terrorist recruitment, but so what if it does? Gitmo — and the fact that no prisoners are tortured there, a fact that is verified by frequent inspections by international groups — is another weapon we should use in the ideological war.

Each of these four policy matters is important, the first three overwhelmingly so. John Bolton is one of the few people who is sufficiently smart and politically-savvy to make them happen.

• Jed Babbin, a deputy undersecretary of defense in the George H.W. Bush administration, is the author of “In the Words of Our Enemies.”

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A New Realism: America and Israel in the Trump Era by John Podhoretz

COMMENTARY  MAGAZINE 

JOHN PODHORETZ / FEB. 20, 2018

(After months of constant derision in COMMENTARY, even arch-typical  ‘elite intellectual snob’, editor,  John Podhoretz, finally comes down on the side of Donald Trump. Below, he presents a most impressive discussion as to why.) jsk

Of all the surprises of the Trump era, (to Podhoretz and the like) none is more notable than the pronounced shift toward Israel. Such a shift was not predictable from Donald Trump’s conduct on the campaign trail; as he sought the Republican nomination, Trump distinguished himself by his refusal to express unqualified support for Israel and his airy conviction that his business experience gave him unique insight into how to strike “a real-estate deal” to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. In addition, his isolationist talk alarmed Israel’s friends in the United States and elsewhere if for no other reason than that isolationism, anti-Zionism, and anti-Semitism often go hand in hand in hand.

But shift he did. In the 14 months since his inauguration, the new president has announced that the United States accepts Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and has declared his intention to build a new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, first mandated by U.S. law in 1996. 

He has installed one of his Orthodox Jewish lawyers as the U.S. ambassador and another as his key envoy on Israeli–Palestinian issues. America’s ambassador to the United Nations has not only spoken out on Israel’s behalf forcefully and repeatedly; Nikki Haley has also led the way in cutting the U.S. stipend to the refugee relief agency that is an effective front for the Palestinian terror state in Gaza. 

And, as Meir Y. Soloveichik and Michael Medved both detail elsewhere in this issue, his vice president traveled to Israel in January and delivered the most pro-Zionist speech any major American politician has ever given.

Part of this shift can also be seen in what Trump has not done. He has not signaled, in interviews or in policy formulations, that the United States views Israeli actions in and around Gaza and the West Bank as injurious to a future peace. And his administration has not complained about Israeli actions taken in self-defense in Lebanon and Syria but has, instead, supported Israel’s right to defend itself.

This marks a breathtaking contrast with the tone and spirit of the relationship between the two countries during the previous administration. The eight Obama years were characterized by what can only be called a gut hostility rooted in the president’s own ideological distaste for the Jewish state.

The intensity of that hostility ebbed and flowed depending on circumstances, but from early 2009, it kept the relationship between the United States and Israel in a condition of low-grade fever throughout Barack Obama’s tenure—never comfortable, never easy, always a bit off-kilter, always with a bit of a headache that never went away, and always in danger of spiking into a dangerous pyrexia. 

That fever spike happened no fewer than five times during the Obama presidency. Although these spikes were usually portrayed as the consequences of the personal friction between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, that friction was itself the result of the ideas about the Middle East and the world in general Obama had brought with him to the White House. In this case, the political became the personal, not the other way around.

Given the general leftish direction of his foreign-policy views from college onward, it would have been a miracle had Obama felt kindly disposed toward the Jewish state’s own understanding of its tactical and strategic condition. And Netanyahu spoke out openly and forcefully to kindly disposed Americans—from evangelical Christians to congressional Republicans—about the threats to his country from nearby terrorism and rockets, and a developing nuclear Iran 900 miles away. 

His candor proved a perpetual irritant to a president whose opening desire was to see “daylight” (as he said in February 2009) between the two countries. Obama caused one final fever spike as he left office by refusing to veto a hostile United Nations resolution. This appeared churlish but was, in fact, Obama allowing himself the full rein of his true and long-standing convictions on his way out the door.

The things Trump both has and has not done should not seem startling. They constitute the baseline of what we ought to expect one ally would say and not say about the behavior of another ally. But as Obama’s disgraceful conduct demonstrated, Israel is not just another ally and never has been. It is a unique experiment in statehood—a Western country on Mideast soil, born from an anti-colonialist movement that is now viewed by many former colonial powers as an unjust colonial power, created by an international organization that is now largely organized as a means of expressing rage against it.

Historically, American leaders have had to reckon with these unique realities—and the fact that the hostile nations surrounding Israel and hungering for its destruction happen to sit atop the lifeblood of the industrial economy. The so-called realists who claim to view the world and the pursuit of America’s interests through cold and unsentimental eyes have experienced Israel mostly as a burden.

Through many twists and turns over the seven decades of Israel’s existence, they have felt that America’s support for Israel is mostly the result of short-sighted domestic political concerns for which they have little patience—the wishes of Jewish voters, or the religious concerns of evangelical voters, or post-Holocaust sympathy that has required (though they would never say it aloud) an unnatural suspension of our pursuit of the American national interest.

Israel created problems with oil countries, and with the United Nations, and with those who see the claims for the necessity of a Jewish state as a form of special pleading. As a result, the realists have spent the past seven decades whispering in the ears of America’s leaders that they have the right to expect Israel to do things we would not expect of another ally and to demand it behave in ways we would not demand of any other friendly country.

The realists and others have spent nearly 50 years propounding a unified-field theory of Middle East turmoil according to which many if not all of the region’s problems are the result of Israel’s existence. Were it not for Israel, there would not have been regional wars in 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982—no matter who might have borne the greatest degree of responsibility for them. 

There would have been other conflicts, but not this one. There would have been no world-recession-inducing oil embargo in 1973 because there would have been no response to the Yom Kippur War. Were it not for Israel, for example, there would be no Israeli–Palestinian problem; there would have been some other version of the problem, but not this one.

Unhappiness about the condition of the Palestinians in a world with Israel was held to be the cause of existential unhappiness on the Arab street and therefore of instability in friendly authoritarian regimes throughout the Middle East. Meanwhile, Israel’s own pursuit of what it and its voting populace took to be their national interests was usually treated with disdain at the very least and outright fury at moments of crisis.

It was therefore axiomatic that the solution to many if not most of the region’s problems ran right though the center of Jerusalem. It would take a complex process, a peace process, that would lead to a deal—a deal no one who believed in this magical process could actually describe honestly and forthrightly or give a sense as to what its final contours would be. If you could create a peace process leading to a deal, though, that deal itself would work like a bone-marrow transplant—through a mysterious process spreading new immunities to instability in the Middle East that would heal the causes of conflict and bring about a new era.

Again, this was the view of the (so-called) realists. With Israel’s 70th anniversary coming hard upon us, the question one needs to ask is this: What if the realists were nothing but fantasists? What if their approach to the Middle East from the time of Israel’s founding was based in wildly unrealistic ideas and emotions? 

Central to their gullibility was the wild and irrational idea that peace was or ever could be the result of a process. No, peace is a condition of soul, an exhaustion from the impact of conflict, born of a desire to end hostilities.  Only after this state is achieved can there be a workable process, because both parties would already have crossed the Rubicon dividing them and would only then need to work out the details of coexistence.

There was no peace to be had. The Arab states didn’t want it. The Palestinians didn’t want it. The Israelis did and do, but not at the expense of their existence. The Arabs demanded concessions, and the Israelis have made many over the years, but they could not concede the security of the millions of Israel’s citizens who had made this miracle of a country an enduring reality. The realists fetishized “process” because it seemed the only way to compel change from the outside. And so Israel has borne the brunt of the anger that follows whenever a fantasist is forced to confront a reality he would rather close his eyes to.

That is why I think what Trump and his people have done over the past 14 months represents a new and genuine realism. They are dealing with Israel and its relationships in the region as they are, not as they would wish them to be. They are seeing how the government of Egypt under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is making common cause with Israel against the Hamas entity in Gaza and against ISIS forces in the Suez. 

They are witness to the effort at radical reformation in Saudi Arabia under Muhammad bin-Salman—and how that seems to be going hand in hand with an astonishing new concord between Israel and the Desert Kingdom over the common threat from Iran. This is a harmonizing of interests that would have seemed positively science-fictional in living memory.

Mostly, what they are seeing is that an ally is an ally. Israel’s intelligence agencies are providing the kind of information America cannot get on its own about Syria and Iran and the threat from ISIS. Israel is a technological powerhouse whose innovations are already helping to revolutionize American military know-how. Israel’s army is the strongest in the world apart from the regional superpowers—and the only one outside Western Europe and the United States firmly locked in alliance with the West. 

Things are changing radically in the Middle East, and as the 21st century progresses it is possible that Israel will play a constructive and influential role outside its borders in helping to maintain and strengthen a Pax Americana.

Donald Trump is a flighty man. (Podhoretz was compelled to put in this schtick) All of this could change. But for now, the replacement of the false realism of the past with a new realism for the 21st century seems like a revolutionary development that needs to be taken very, very seriously.

Why do the Arabs hate the so-called “Palestinian” Arabs so?


(An erudite in-depth history and explanation of the “Palestinian” Arab Refugee Scam)

Redacted from a much more detailed article

By Dr. Mordechai Kedar

www.israel-commentary.org

The Arab world, for many reasons, is not at all interested in giving the Palestinian Arabs a state. The Palestinian Arabs don’t really want one either, because why kill the “refugee” goose that lays the golden eggs?

In Israel, and in much of the Western world, we tend to think that the Arab world is united in support of the Palestinians, that it  wants nothing so much as to solve the Palestinian problem by giving them a state, and that all the Arabs and Muslims love the Palestinians and hate Israel.

This, however, is a simplistic and partial point of view, because while It is true that many, perhaps even the majority of Arabs and Muslims hate Israel, there are a good many who hate the Palestinians just as much.

Their hatred of Israel stems from Israel’s success in surviving despite wars, terror, boycotts and the enmity aimed at the Jewish state; it stems from the fact that there is an existing Jewish state even though Judaism has been superseded by Islam, the ‘true religion.’ 

It is exacerbated by Israel’s being a democracy while they live under  dictatorships, because Israel is rich and they are poor, because Israel is Paradise compared to Arab countries, many of which resemble nothing so much as the last train stop before Hell (see Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan – and the list goes on) …and most importantly, because Israel has succeeded in areas in which they have failed, and their jealousy drives them up a wall.

But why should they hate the ‘unfortunate’ Palestinian Arabs? After all, the Arab narrative says that the Palestinian Arabs’ land was stolen and they were forced to become refugees. The answer to this question is complex and is a function of  Middle Eastern culture, which we in Israel and most Westerners neither understand nor recognize.

One of the worst things in Arab eyes is being cheated, fooled or taken advantage of. When someone attempts to cheat an Arab – and even more so, if that person succeeds – an Arab is overcome by furious anger, even if the person involved is his cousin. 

He will call on his brother to take revenge on that cousin, in line with the Arab adage: “My brother and I against my cousin – and my brother, my cousin and I against a stranger.”

Regarding the Palestinian Arabs, first of all,  many are not originally Palestinians at all. They are immigrants who came to the Land of Israel from all over the Arab world during the British Mandate in order to find employment in the cities and on the farms the Jews had built.    ( a fact universally ignored especially by Jew and Israel haters)

These supposed indigent “Palestinian” Arabs are themselves immigrants who still have names such as “Al Hurani (from Huran in southern Syria)”, “Al Tzurani (from Tyre in Southern Lebanon)”, “Al  Zrakawi (from Mazraka in Jordan),” “Al Maztri (the Egyptian)” and many other names that point to their actual, geographically origin – not “Palestine” or Israel. Why, ask the other Arabs, should they get preferential treatment compared to those who remained in their original countries?

Starting with the end of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence, the politics in the Arab world began to center on Israel and the “Palestinian problem” whose solution was to be achieved only by eliminating Israel. In order to help succeed in that mission, the Arab refugees were kept in camps, with explicit instructions from the Arab League to  keep them there and not to absorb them in other  Arab countries.

UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency – whose only customers are 3 generations of Arabs that should  have been resettled by their 20 Arab brethren nations 60 plus years ago!) guarantees unlike any other genuine refugees that they were provided with food, education and medical care without charge – that is to say, the nations of the world footed the bill, while the Arab neighbors of these eternal “refugees” had to work and provide food, education and medical care for their families by the sweat of their brow.  

Refugees who were supplied with free foodstuffs, such as rice, flour, sugar and oil, for the use of their families, would often sell some  of it to their non-refugee neighbors and make a tidy profit.

Those living in the refugee camps do not pay municipal taxes, leading to a significant number of “refugees” who rent their homes to others and  collect exorbitant sums in comparison with those renting apartments in nearby cities, thanks to this tax exemption. In other  words, the world subsidizes the taxes and the refugees line their own pockets .

In Lebanon, several refugee camps were built near Beirut, but were incorporated into the expanding city, then turned into high class neighborhoods with imposing high rise apartment buildings. Someone has profited from this change, and it is not the man in the  street, who has every reason to feel cheated.

The Palestinian “refugee” camps located in Lebanon have been taken over by armed organizations, from the PLO to ISIS, including Hamas, the Popular Front, the Democratic Front and organizations of Salafist Jihadists. These organizations act viciously towards surrounding Lebanese citizens and in 1975 brought on a civil war that  lasted for 14 long  years of bloodshed, destruction and saw the emigration of hundreds of thousands of real Lebanese from their villages to lives of horrible suffering in tent camps all over the country’ Many took  refuge in Palestinian “refugee” camps, but the Lebanese refugees received less than 10 per cent of what  Palestinian Arabs received, causing much internecine jealousy  and hatred.

In Jordan, in 1970, the Palestinian Arabs, led by PLO head Yassir Arafat, attempted to take over the country by establishing autonomous regions of their own, complete with roadblocks and armed Palestinian Arabs in the country’s north that challenged the monarchy. In September 1970, known as “Black September”, King Hussein decided he had had enough and would show them who is boss in Jordan. The  war he declared against  them cost thousands of  lives on both sides.

Meanwhile, in Israel,  20% of the citizenry within the pre-1967 borders is made up of “Palestinian” Arabs who do not rebel or fight against the state. In other words, the “Palestinians” living in pre-1967 Israel enjoy life in the only democracy in the Middle East, while the Arab countries sacrifice their soldiers’ blood to liberate “Palestine.” Is there a worse case of feeling that you are being exploited than that of an Arab soldier putting his life in danger for this meaningless cause?

Worse still is what every Arab knows: Palestinian Arabs have been selling land to Jews for at least a century, profit immensely from the deals and then go wailing to their Arab brothers to come and free “Palestine” from the “Zionist occupation.”

Over the years, the Palestinian Arabs were given many billions of euros and dollars by the nations of the world, so that the yearly per capirta income in the PA is several times greater than that of the Egyptian, Sudanese or Algerian man in the street. His life is many, many times better than that of Arabs living in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen over the past seven years,

On a political level, the Palestinians have managed to arouse the hatred of many of their Arab brethren: In 1990, Arafat supported Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In revenge, Kuwait, once it was freed of Iraqi conquest, expelled tens of thousands of Palestinians, most of whom had been employed in its oil fields, leaving them destitute overnight. This led to an economic crisis for their families in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, who had been receiving regular stipends from their sons in Kuwait.

Today, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are supported by Iran, the country abhorred by many Arabs who remember that airplane hijacking and the ensuing blackmail were invented by the Palestinian Arabs who hijacked an El Al plane to Algiers in 1968, fifty years ago, beginning a period of travail still being endured by the entire world.

Despite the 1989 Taif agreement that ended the civil war in Lebanon and was supposed to lead to the de-weaponization and dissolution of all the Lebanese militias, Syria  allowed Hezbollah to keep its arms and to develop its military power unrestrainedly. 

The repeated excuse was that the weapons were meant to “liberate Palestine” and would not be aimed at the Lebanese. To anyone with a modicum of brains, it was clear that  the Palestine story was a fig leaf covering the sad truth that the weapons were going to be aimed at Hezbollah’s Syrian and Lebanese enemies. “Palestine” was simply an excuse for the Shiite takeover of Lebanon.

Worst of all is the Palestinian demand that Arab countries refrain from any relations with Israel until the Palestinian problem is solved to the satisfaction of the PLO and Hamas leaders. 

However, a good  portion of the Arab world cannot find any commonalities that could unite the PLO and  Hamas. They have given up on achieving an internal Palestinian reconciliation, watching the endless squabbles ruin any chances of progress regarding Israel. 

To sum up the situation, the Arab world – that part of it which sees Israel as the only hope in dealing with Iran – is not happy at the expectation that it must mortgage its future and  its very existence to the internal fighting between the PLO  and Hamas.

And let us not forget that Egypt and Jordan have signed peace agreements with Israel, have moved outside the circle of war for the “liberation of Palestine” and have  forsaken their Palestinian Arab “brothers,” leaving them to deal with the problem on their own.

Much of the Arab and Muslim world is convinced that the “Palestinians” do not want a state of their own. After all, if that state is established, the  world will cease to donate those enormous sums, there will be no more “refugees” and the Palestinian Arabs will have to work like everyone else. How can they do that when they are all addicted  to receiving handouts without any strings attacked?

One can say with assurance, that 70 years after the creation of the “Palestinian problem,” the Arab world has realized that there is no solution that  will satisfy those who have  turned “refugee-ism”  into a profession, so that the “Palestinian problem” has  become an emotional and financial scam that only serves to enrich the corrupt leaders of Ramallah and Gaza.

Translated by Rochel Sylvetsky, Senior Consultant to A7 English site, Op-ed and Judaism editor.

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Black Congressional Caucus Stands by its Man – Louis Farrahkan!

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(Note: Members of Caucus must be Black by Unwritten Rule – 49 total members  and virtually all Democrat  48 Democrat, 1 Republican (Mia Love Utah).  White guy turned down in 2006 for being white!)

Redacted from article 

By Valerie Richardson – The Washington Times

March 19, 2018

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Women’s March co-President, Tamika D. Mallory, have come under fire this month for failing to condemn Louis Farrakhan after revelations that they met with or appeared at events with the notorious anti-Semite.

The Republican Jewish Coalition has called on eight black lawmakers to resign over their Farrakhan association. Not all have commented, but those doing so have been careful to denounce anti-Semitism without condemning the Nation of Islam leader himself.

Is that enough? Not for the Anti-Defamation League, which called it “disturbing to see people of good conscience and character meeting with this individual whose worldview is so warped and tainted by anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.” “We hope that political leaders will reject meetings with him in the future and denounce him for the bigot he really is,” the ADL said in a statement.

For Democrats, the Farrakhan flap threatens to fray the progressive coalition in Congress by exacerbating tensions with Jewish voters already worried about the party’s direction as anti-Israel movements such as Boycott, Divest and Sanctions gain steam on the left.

Liberal Jews who have joined anti-Trump rallies sponsored by the Women’s March have been taken aback by revelations over the group’s links to Mr. Farrakhan, including social media photos showing him holding hands with Ms. Mallory and board member Carmen Perez.

“Many progressive Jews have reacted with shock to the Farrakhan adoration from leaders of the Women’s March,” said Cornell Law School professor William A. Jacobson. “That Farrakhan connection, however, has been public and unapologetic for years.”

Even before Mr. Farrakhan gave a shout-out to Ms. Mallory at his Feb. 25 Saviours’ Day speech, the Women’s March had been accused of anti-Semitism through its link to convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Odeh, who has been embraced by Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour.

“Rather than treating the alignment of the Women’s March leaders with a notorious anti-Semite as an aberration, progressive Jews need to ask themselves whether it reflects a deeper anti-Semitism in the progressive world, masquerading as anti-Zionism,” said Mr. Jacobson, who runs the conservative Legal Insurrection blog.

Republican National Committee blasts ‘hateful eight’

The uproar also has touched off scrutiny of the relationship between the Nation of Islam and the black political establishment, which can be traced to 1984, when Mr. Farrakhan rushed to defend Jesse Jackson in the Democratic presidential primary after he was reamed for calling New York “Hymietown.”

Some hailed Mr. Farrakhan as a hero for leading the 1995 Million Man March, a rally on the National Mall aimed at uniting black men and promoting self-reliance against economic and social ills.

The result is that Mr. Farrakhan, 84, has apparently become politically untouchable in some pockets despite repeatedly denouncing Jews in public, including during his Feb. 25 Saviours’ Day speech in which he blasted “the Satanic Jew” and said that “powerful Jews are my enemy.”

Even the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center has listed the Nation of Islam as a “hate group” and condemned Mr. Farrakhan’s tirades against “wicked Jews” and gays.

“In reality, Farrakhan has done almost nothing for black America,” said Mr. Magida. “The Nation of Islam, under Elijah Muhammed at least, had certain economic programs that marginally helped African-Americans. He has done nothing to help African-Americans economically, socially, educationally, intellectually.”

In politics, however, where perception is often reality, black leaders who renounce Mr. Farrakhan may pay a political price if they are seen as kowtowing to outside pressure.“If you do renounce him, are you then seen as an Uncle Tom?” asked Mr. Magida.

The Republican National Committee issued a press release Tuesday detailing the links between Mr. Farrakhan and the eight Black Caucus members, dubbing them “the hateful eight.”

A video taken at a 2006 caucus event showed Mr. Farrakhan hugging and shaking hands with several Democratic members of Congress, including Reps. Al Green of Texas, Barbara Lee of California and Maxine Waters of California. Assistant Minority Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina — the House’s third-ranking Democrat — shared a stage with him in 2011, and Rep. Andre Carson, Indiana Democrat, acknowledged Friday that he had met with Mr. Farrakhan.

Democratic National Committee Deputy Chairman Keith Ellison has taken heat for reports linking him to Mr. Farrakhan after 1995, despite saying he has had no relationship with him since the Million Man March.

Even President Obama was pulled into the fray after a long-suppressed 2005 photo surfaced showing him with Mr. Farrakhan at a caucus gathering. Mr. Obama has not commented publicly on the photo.

“It is not sufficient to condemn anti-Semitism without condemning the nation’s leading anti-Semite,” Mr. Siegel said. “If members of Congress met with David Duke and then refused to condemn him, they would have been forced to resign long ago. The right moral action is for the Farrakhan members to resign.”

 

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Arab Leaders Change Gear on Palestinian Distortion

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By Walter Russell Mead

Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2018

Facing threats from Iran and Turkey, they want peace—and to strangle Hamas.

On the surface it was business as usual in the Gaza Strip. Hamas bussed thousands of residents to the border with Israel to begin a six-week protest campaign ahead of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence—or, as the Palestinians call it, the nakba, or “catastrophe.” This protest would mark “the beginning of the Palestinians’ return to all of Palestine,” according to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

It didn’t. Stones were thrown, tires were set aflame, and shots were fired. When the smoke cleared, the borders were still in place and 15 Palestinians lay dead, with three more succumbing later from injuries. While families endured their private tragedies, familiar controversies swirled. The usual people denounced Israel in the usual ways, countered by the usual defenders making the usual arguments.

But what is happening in Gaza today is not business as usual. Tectonic plates are shifting in the Middle East as the Sunni Arab world counts the cost of the failed Arab Spring and the defeat of Sunni Arabs by Iranian-backed forces in Syria.

In headier times, pan-Arab nationalists like Gamal Abdel Nasser and lesser figures like Saddam Hussein dreamed of creating a united pan-Arab state that could hold its own among the world’s great powers. 

When nationalism sputtered out, many Arabs turned to Sunni Islamist movements instead. Those, too, have for the time being failed, and today Arab states seek protection from Israel and the U.S. against an ascendant Iran and a restless, neo-Ottoman Turkey.

But the American protection on which Arabs rely cannot be taken for granted, as President Trump’s apparent determination to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria in the near term demonstrates. Under these circumstances, Israel’s unmatched access to Washington makes Jerusalem even more important to Arab calculations. Perhaps only Israel can keep the U.S. engaged in the region.

It is against this backdrop that the old Palestinian alliance with the Arab nations has frayed. Most Arab rulers now see Palestinian demands as an inconvenient obstacle to a necessary strategic alliance with Israel. 

The major Gulf states and Egypt apparently have agreed on two goals. The first is to strangle Hamas in Gaza to restore the authority of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. The second is to press the authority to accept the kind of peace that Israel has offered repeatedly and that Yasser Arafat and his successor have so far rejected.

Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are playing for time. They support the first goal by refusing to pay the salaries of government employees in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip even as they resist pressure to make peace with the Jewish State. It is not yet clear what the authority’s final response to the peace pressure will be. Even if it ultimately decides to accept an Arab-sponsored compromise, making a show of resistance can improve its credibility with the Palestinian public and, perhaps, extract better terms.

Hamas is in an even more desperate plight. The Arab blockade and donor strike cripples Gaza in ways the Israelis never could. Food is growing scarce, electricity is erratic, unemployment exceeds 40%, and raw sewage runs into the sea. Many Gaza residents presumably want the only thing Hamas can’t offer: relief.

Historically Hamas has reacted to this kind of pressure by launching wars against Israel, trusting its friends abroad to force the Jewish state to cease fire before it can inflict serious damage on Hamas’ leadership. But in the 2014 war, Arab foot-dragging gave Israel time to deal a serious defeat to Hamas. Another war would be equally ruinous and for the same reason: The Arab governments want Hamas crushed, and they won’t stop Israel from doing the job.

The current demonstrations, Hamas hopes, can whip up a global wave of rage and indignation against Israel without provoking a full-on war. That might weaken the Arab coalition against it. But the prime audience for Hamas’s performance this time isn’t the Arab world; it is Turkey and Iran, whose support Hamas will need to survive if it is driven from Gaza (as Arafat was once driven from Jordan and Lebanon).

Rifts between Palestinians and other Arabs are nothing new. But the collapse of Arab nationalism and the failure of Sunni radicalism have weakened the political forces that rallied Arab support to the Palestinian cause. With millions of new Arab refugees in Syria, and growing threats to Arab independence from powerful neighbors, prioritizing Palestine is a luxury many Arabs feel they can no longer afford.

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The Greek Church and the Jews

By Jerome S. Kaufman

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Last week I decided to attend the funeral services of a friend of mine. He was a good guy, always kind to me but to be honest, I think I was simply following Yogi Berra’s advice when he declared that he attended his friends’ funerals in the hope that they would attend his!

I sat quietly listening, in the very impressive ornate Greek church, to the somber melodious  Greek chant coming from the deep voice of the huge Greek priest and I tried not to fall asleep – like I do in my own synagogue services.

Then my ears suddenly perked up when the priest lapsed into a bit of the English translation.  I heard him say something about Jesus and how he told the Jews to follow his teachings. Huh!

Excuse me, but what has Jesus and the Jews got to do with this funeral service and how did this priest know what Jesus said to the Jews? And, what could it have possibly been anyway, except the same vile anti-Semitic distribe and lies that have permeated the Roman Catholic churcn, the Eastern Orthodox  churches  and the Protestant churches of Martin Luther and John Calvin for the  past near 2000 years?

Then I told myself, please don’t get excited.  Just Google, The Greek Liturgy and the Jews,  and see what comes up.  Sure enough, at the top of the list was the article quoted below confirming my worst suspicions.

But, before we read the Greek article, please let us happily acknowledge that within the last 50 years there have been major Catholic Church changes and admonitions against the preaching of Jew-hatred by the Church and its officials.

In fact, after centuries of perpetual hatred, formal dialogue between Roman Catholics and Jews began about 50 years ago, with the Vatican’s 1965 Nostra Aetate declaration. The declaration finally and formally repudiated the charge that Jews were collectively responsible for killing Jesus and stressed the religious bond between Jews as the big brothers of the Church.

Also of note is the fact that the Jews’ dedication to monotheism pre-dated that of the Christians by over 3000 years and it was adopted by the Church as a result of the teachings of a Jewish carpenter named  Jesus Christ.

DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS, NOSTRA AETATE, PROCLAIMED BY HIS HOLINESS POPE PAUL VI ON OCTOBER 28, 1965.

Thirty five years later, Israeli Jews were treated to an official visit by the very kind, empathetic Pope John Paul II who had actually lived with and through the horrific World War II  killing of the Jews by the Poles,  the Germans and with the enthusiastic support of almost all of the rest of Europe.

Pope John Paul II arrived in Israel, March 21, 2000, for a historic five-day visit, during which he visited the holy sites of the three major religions and met with Israel’s political leaders and Chief Rabbis. His Yad Vashem speech was viewed as the inspiring  climax of John Paul’s great efforts to reconcile Christians and Jews.

There is no doubt that the Vatican Declaration of Nostra Aetate and the very personal involvement and preaching of Pope John Paul II has had a major positive effect upon most Roman Catholics. They are no longer blaming the Jews for the death of Jesus Christ nor are they heaping upon the Jews whatever other calumnies  are in fact, their own responsibility.

Finally, to the article on the Greek liturgy that had perked up my ears:

PRIESTS DEMANDED  TO REMOVE ANTI-SEMITIC LITURGY

Exclusive: Jews called ‘God-killers’ in Orthodox sects’ Easter prayer services.

BY ETGAR LEFKOVITS APRIL 20, 2007

April 20, 2007, A group of 12 Orthodox priests have called on their Eastern Orthodox  Churches to review its longstanding theological positions toward Jews and the State of Israel, and to excise anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy.

The dissident priests made their demands in a 12-point declaration adopted during a weeklong visit to Israel that is meant to spur debate in the Eastern Orthodox Christian world and to challenge centuries-old anti-Semitic views.

“Sadly, there are some Orthodox Christians who propagate disgusting anti-Semitism under the banner of Orthodoxy, which is incompatible with Christianity,” said Rev. Innokenty Pavlov, professor of theology at Moscow’s Biblical Theological Institute.

“We have to raise our voices and call on Orthodox laity and the Church leadership to formulate an official position of the Orthodox Church toward our relations with Judaism, as it was formulated a few decades ago by the Catholic Church,” he added, referring to the Second Vatican Council of 1962 to 1965.

The 10-page declaration issued Thursday calls for the renunciation of replacement theology and the removal of anti-Semitic passages from Church liturgy – particularly Easter services – and endorses the eternal connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel.

The passages appear in the standard Orthodox liturgy all over the world. The dozen Orthodox priests who signed the declaration – some in open defiance of directives from church leadership – represent five different Orthodox churches, including the Russian, Greek, Ukrainian, Georgian and Ecumenical Orthodox Churches. “We came to the firm belief that it is high time for the Orthodox Church to correct its attitude toward Jews and Judaism,” the declaration states.

Unlike the Catholic and Protestant churches, the Orthodox Church has never removed anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy, which still refers to Jews as Christ killers, said Dr. Dmitry Radyehsvky, director of the Jerusalem Summit, a conservative Israeli think tank that co-sponsored the visit.

He said the anti-Semitic passages were most conspicuous during Easter services, and included statements such as “the Jewish tribe which condemned you to crucifixion, repay them, Oh Lord,” which is repeated half a dozen times, and “Christ has risen but the Jewish seed has perished,” as well as references to Jews as “God-killers.”

“Orthodox Christianity lives up to its name: it’s extremely conservative – even more than Catholicism,” Radyehsvky said. “For them to even pose the question about the need to throw out Judophobic passages from the liturgy, which were there for 1,500 years, is a revolution,” he said.

Radyshevsky said that while some of the best Orthodox Christian philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries, like Vladimir Soloviev and Sergiy Bulgakov, were philosemites, it never filtered down to the masses.

Now, however, some Orthodox Christian intellectuals feel their church needs revival and that this has to start with their roots: reconciliation with the Jews. “It is high time to start the dialogue between Orthodox Christianity and Judaism,” said Rev. Ioann Sviridov, editor-in-chief of the Russian Christian radio-station Sophia.

“In light of rising anti-Semitism and other manifestations of nationalism in Russia, our church has to respond to this ugly phenomena and review some of the aspects of its relations with Jews and Judaism,” he said.

(I love the demands above but,  from my own last week’s experience at the local Greek Church, they  seem to have fallen upon deaf ears)  jsk

One final aside — I never could really understand another indisputable  “achievement” of the  Greeks during WWII.

From: The Jewish-Greek Tragedy during the Holocaust — The Illusion of Safety.

By Curt Leviant

The first book of a four part series depicts the Greek Jews under 3 Zones of German occupation during WW II —  German, Bulgarian and Italian. “Although the Bulgarians protected their Jews, in the Greek zone this benevolence was set aside. The Greeks  deported 11,000 Jews to concentration camps and only 2200 survived!  In the Italian zone, Jews were not persecuted and racial laws were ignored.

One can’t wonder whether or not the mindless poison pouring out of the sermons of Eastern Orthodox Churches, to this very day,  had anything to do with these damning statistics?

Jerome S. Kaufman, Editor/Publisher

Israel Commentary

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Bolton’s appointment — a brilliant “America first” move by President Donald Trump

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Redacted from an article originally published at Breitbart.com.

By Carolyn Glick

President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint former UN Ambassador John Bolton to serve as his National Security Advisor is arguably the most significant single step he has taken to date toward implementing his America First foreign policy.

The news hit America’s enemies and competitors — from Pyongyang to Teheran to Moscow to Beijing — like a wall of bricks Thursday night.
Early criticisms on the political right of Bolton’s appointment have centered on two points. First, it is argued that Bolton, who has been involved in U.S. foreign policymaking since the Reagan administration, is a creature of the Washington foreign policy swamp.

While it is true that Bolton is from Washington – or Baltimore, to be precise – and although it is true that he held senior foreign policy positions in both Bush administrations, he has always been a thorn in the side of the establishment rather than a member of that establishment.

For the better part of three decades, Bolton has bravely held positions that fly in the face of the establishment’s innate preference for appeasement. He was a vocal critic, for example, of then-President Bill Clinton’s disastrous nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.

The 1994 “Agreed Framework” that Clinton concluded with Pyongyang was touted as a peaceful resolution of the nuclear crisis with North Korea. In exchange for shuttering – but not destroying — its nuclear installations, North Korea received light water reactors from the U.S. and massive economic relief.

As Bolton warned it would, North Korea pocketed the concessions and gifts and continued to develop its nuclear weapons. In other words, far from preventing North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, the Agreed Framework preserved the North Korean nuclear program and enabled the regime to develop it effectively with U.S. assistance.

For his warnings, Bolton has been reviled as a “warmonger” and a “superhawk” by the foreign policy elite, which has gone out if its way to undercut him.

President George W. Bush appointed Bolton to serve as UN ambassador in 2005 in a recess appointment. Three moderate Republicans on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Lincoln Chafee (RI), Chuck Hagel (ND), and George Voinovich (OH), signaledthat they would oppose Bolton’s confirmation, blocking it.

At the time, rumors surfaced that then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had quietly undercut Bolton’s confirmation in private conversations with senators. Those rumors were denied, and Rice publicly supported Bolton’s confirmation.

But in 2016, Rice, along with her mentor, former secretary of state James Baker, and her deputy and successor as National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley, openly opposed President Trump’s intention to appoint Bolton Deputy Secretary of State. At the same time, all three lobbied Trump to appoint outgoing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Bolton was a vocal opponent of Rice’s nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, undertaken after Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test in 2006. He also opposed Rice’s pursuit of diplomatic ties with Iran through negotiations in Iraq. In both cases, as events showed, Bolton’s criticisms were all in place.

Rice’s nuclear diplomacy with North Korea emboldened the regime, and enabled its continued testing of nuclear weapons and development of ballistic missiles.

In Iran’s case, Rice’s negotiations with the Iranians in 2007 and 2008 set the stage for president Barack Obama’s nuclear talks with Tehran, which led to the 2015 nuclear deal. That deal, like the 1994 Agreed Framework with North Korea, preserves, rather than dismantles, Iran’s nuclear program while providing Iran with the financial means to expand its regional power through its terrorist proxies.

On the other hand, Bolton’s actions while in office brought extraordinary benefit to US national security. For instance, as Bush’s undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, in 2003 Bolton conceptualized and launched the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI). The purpose of the PSI was to empower nations to interdict ships suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction, delivery systems, and related materials from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. Originally launched with 11 state members, today the PSI has 105 state members. Its members have interdicted multiple ships suspected of transferring illicit weapons systems to other states and to non-state actors.

Like Trump, Bolton is an opponent of international treaties that bind the U.S. in a manner that may be antithetical to its national interests, and prefers bilateral agreements that are tailor-made to defend America’s national interests. Bolton was a firm opponent of the Rome Treaty, which established the International Criminal Court. He worked avidly to vacate America’s signature from the treaty.

Due largely to his cogent opposition, the Bush administration decided not to submit the treaty to the Senate for ratification. Bolton concluded 100 bilateral treaties with nations committing them never to present complaints against U.S. military personnel before the tribunal.

Bolton’s nationalist convictions, and his refusal to join the foreign policy elite in its adoration of diplomacy, whatever the substance, over a firm, fact-based pursuit of America’s national interests lies at the heart of the foreign policy establishment’s opposition to him.

Indeed, the level of hostility the foreign policy establishment has directed towards Bolton over the years has been so ferocious, it is a testament to his diplomatic skills, and success, that he has managed to persevere in Washington, in and out of office for forty years.

As to the second charge by conservative critics, that Bolton is a neoconservative interventionist, the fact is that he is neither a neoconservative nor is he a knee jerk interventionist. Rather, Bolton supports the judicious use of American power in the world to advance U.S. national security and economic interests when the use of force is the best way to achieve those interests.

It is true that Bolton supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. But it is also true that he opposed the nation-building strategy that stood at the root of America’s failure to achieve its aims there.

It is also true that like many of the neoconservatives, Bolton is a firm supporter of Israel. However, Bolton is actually far more supportive of Israel than the neoconservatives are. As a nationalist, he supports U.S. allies because he understands that the stronger America’s allies are, the better able they are to defend their interests. Since American allies – particularly Israel – share America’s interests, the more powerful they are, the more secure America’s interests are, and the less the U.S. needs to assert its power abroad.

Bolton supported — indeed, urged — Israel to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations during the Obama presidency. Rather than treating Israel as what Rice referred to patronizingly as America’s “special friend,” Bolton views Israel as America’s most powerful ally in the Middle East. He opposes Palestinian statehood and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

 

Bolton’s healthy skepticism for international agreements; his support for a foreign policy that prioritizes the advancement of American national interests over multilateral diplomacy; and his belief that Obama’s signature diplomatic achievement, the nuclear deal with Iran, is a disaster, all make him the senior diplomat most aligned with President Trump’s America First agenda in Washington.

The combination of Trump and Bolton no doubt puts fear in the hearts of America’s enemies, and heartens America’s allies. Given the hatred Bolton inspires in the Washington swamp, it took great courage for Trump to appoint him. America and its allies will be the primary beneficiaries of this bold move.

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Congressional Pork Barrel Spoilage system alive and well in Florida thanks to 1.3 trillion dollar spending bill

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And, not to knock Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and the State of Florida. I am sure the other 49 State Senators can send out a similar message to their constituency.  Never mind  the entire nation is catapulting  to the inevitable sink hole where your dollar becomes worthless and you will find yourself unable to pay your home mortgage while standing in bread lines with a bushel basket full of worthless dollars.  G-d Forbid!

Jerome S. Kaufman

From:  Florida Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)

A big win for Florida

Dear Friends,

Early Friday morning, the Senate passed a spending bill that is great news for Florida – and our country. From increasing funding to address the opioid crisis, to making sure we have the right equipment to track hurricanes, to protecting Florida’s citrus industry, this legislation will includes funding for a number of projects I’ve been fighting for here in the Senate:

$3.3 billion to fight the opioid epidemic and mental health crises. An estimated 2.6 million Americans suffer from opioid use disorder. In Florida alone, more than 5,200 people have died from an opioid-related event in 2016 – a 35 percent increase from 2015. I requested additional funding for treatment, prevention and research.

$67.47 million in total funding for citrus greening research and the Citrus Health Research Program. As citrus greening has hurt growers across Florida, I’ve advocated for increased funding to study and address the problem to help our citrus industry.

• $895 million for Kennedy Space Center to modernize launch facilities, more than doubling what the center received last year. I requested the increased funding to bolster work on launch and processing infrastructure needed for NASA’s initiative to explore deep space.

• $121 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to purchase a reliable backup for its aging hurricane hunter jet. I’ve been pushing for a replacement since 2015. The funding comes in the wake of several incidents over the last two years when the jet NOAA uses to gather hurricane measurements was grounded during the hurricane season.

• $76.5 million in total funding to protect and restore the Everglades. The U.S. Army Corps budget was also increased, allowing additional funding for Everglades restoration.

• $82 million to repair the Herbert Hoover Dike. U.S. Army Corps budget was also increased, allowing for additional funding for dike repairs.

• $279.6 million, a 14-percent increase, in funding to support Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The four historically black colleges and universities in Florida – Florida A&M in Tallahassee, Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach and Edward Waters College in Jacksonville – prepare over 16,000 students for careers in STEM, aviation, law, nursing and other fields.

• $250 million in federal funding for positive train control grants. Positive train control technology will help prevent deadly crashes on our railroads. It’s critically important for those railroads that carry passengers, like Sunrail and Tri-Rail. As the ranking member on the Senate Commerce Committee, I pressed for the funding to help passenger railroads meet a federal deadline to install the lifesaving technology.

• $100 million for research and development program for automated vehicles. The SunTrax facility at Florida Polytechnic University is a qualified proving ground and will have the opportunity to benefit from the program.

• Restored and increased funds to $35 million for democracy programs in Venezuela and Cuba. I requested Congress “redouble, not eliminate support for democracy and human rights” in Venezuela. The democracy programs support civil society organizations and promote human rights.

• $60 million for the Nonprofits Security Grant Program. The program helps certain non-profits harden their facilities against attack, such as organization like the Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) in Orlando and Miami and elsewhere. I requested this funding after JCCs across Florida received a series of telephone bomb threats.

• Increased funding for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program to $5 million. I requested $5 million in funding to provide long-term support and services for Holocaust survivors.

In addition to this critical spending, we also moved a little closer to turning the voices of these students who are demanding action on gun violence into policy. The spending package included several provisions I co-sponsored to address gun violence in Florida and across the country, including:

• Fix NICS Act. I cosponsored this bipartisan bill, which requires federal agencies and states to develop implementation plans to upload to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) all information prohibiting a person from purchasing a firearm, rewards states who comply with these plans through federal grant preferences, and reauthorizes and improves programs that help states share information on criminal records with NICS, among other things.

• STOP School Violence Act. I co-sponsored this bipartisan bill that would allow schools to access federal funds to invest in programs, training and technology to keep students safe.

• CDC Gun Violence Research. The spending package included language to clarify that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can conduct research on gun violence. This bill is fantastic news for our state. And while these gun violence provisions are just steps, they are steps in the right direction and show just what we can do when we work together.

(And, who could possibly argue with the justness,  political correctness and legitimacy of all of the above?  Only one very major problem — WE ARE RAPIDLY RUNNING OUT OF SPENDING OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY.)

Jerome S. Kaufman

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