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An e-newsletter delivering updates and analysis on current issues about Israel and the Middle East conflict

March 29, 2016

Clinton, Kasich, Trump and Cruz Deliver Positions on Israel to AIPAC Delegates—Reveal Their Political Savvy

Dear Friend of FLAME:

It was certainly educational to hear four Presidential candidates all give a full speech on the same basic subject—Israel—on the same day. I was among the 18,000+ delegates at the AIPAC policy conference last week, and it was a great way to compare at least four of them head to head. (Bernie Sanders, the first ever Jewish candidate for President, couldn't fit in an appearance, which itself is telling of how he ranks Israel as an issue or AIPAC members as a constituency.)

I want to give you my impressions of the candidates' presentations, because they were revealing and fascinating. First, let me remind you that FLAME is strictly a non-partisan educational foundation. We do not endorse candidates, and our small staff is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

We also realize that while your choice of a Presidential candidate may be influenced by his or her position on Israel, this may not be your sole criterion. Nonetheless, we do care very much what the candidates say about Israel, regardless of party affiliation, so here's my take.

First came Clinton, on Monday morning. She was welcomed warmly—no surprise since most Jews are Democrats, many AIPAC members voted for her against Obama and most of us remember Bill Clinton's groundbreaking support of Israel. On top of that, her speech was definitely "pro-Israel" and markedly more outspoken than President Obama. For starters, Hillary talked about Islamic terrorism and categorically opposed any UN pressure on Israel and the Palestinians.

Clinton is also undeniably a very practiced and articulate politician/diplomat. She definitely came across as "presidential," and there's nothing dumb about her. Like most of the candidates, she got a good share of standing ovations (we're suckers for bold statements of support of the Jewish people and Eretz Yisrael and opposition to anti-Semitism), and she was heartily cheered when she finished up. I sensed a lot of support and votes in that room.

Later that evening, the Republicans took the stage at Washington's Verizon Center. In short, every one of them spoke more enthusiastically and unqualifiedly in their support of Israel than Clinton. Kasich led off and was, too, very warmly and enthusiastically received. He was both controlled and articulate in his positions and even quite emotional about his admiration of Jews and Israel, which also played well with this crowd. I could also imagine him as the President. He had almost as many standing ovations (SOs) as Hillary and I must say, probably got as hearty a closing applause as she did. He showed surprisingly well for the third-place runner.

Then came Trump, and this was revealing. At the AIPAC event over the previous two days we'd heard some of the smartest politicians in the country. New Jersey (D) Senator Robert Menendez is always inspiring on Israel, but also Wisconsin (R) Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Maryland (D) Representative Steni Hoyer, California (R) Representative Kevin McCarthy and Vice President Joe Biden all proved their mettle—very experienced, thoughtful, nuanced and articulate people.

By contrast, quite frankly, Donald came across as a blowhard—an amateur. Even though he was reading from a script, his egotistical style swamped most of the content he delivered. What he said was the opposite of thoughtful and nuanced. By comparison to the other politicians we heard, Trump seemed coarse and imprecise. He talked about Israel and Palestine, which is politically incorrect for Israel supporters, since there is no state of Palestine.

However, Trump clearly reversed his earlier insistence that he would be "neutral" on the Israel-Palestinian conflict, delivering harsh criticism for President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian terrorists and his assertion that he'd hold the Palestinians' feet to the fire in any negotiations. Most notably, Trump also called for immediately moving the US embassy to Jerusalem—the first time I'd heard a politician at the conference articulate this.

Overall, however, Trump just didn't seem credible in the company of so many other very accomplished politicians. He had a good number of SOs, but fewer than any of the others, and while he got strong closing applause, it was the weakest of the four candidates.

Finally, Ted Cruz closed the evening. He came across as very credible, very articulate (no surprise) and arguably the most stridently supportive of Israel among the four. Cruz alone swore he would "tear up" the Iran Deal on his first day in office and then immediately move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. The arena crowd loved these commitments. In terms of overall audience approval, I estimate that Cruz was not quite as heartily received as Kasich, but definitely more enthusiastically supported than Trump.

As I left the policy conference, a question weighed heavily on my mind. After eight years of President Obama's disappointing misadventures in foreign policy, particularly as regards Israel, is it time to make Israel's safety my highest priority in next year's election? I have not yet resolved this question.

While I was in Washington, of course, Brussels was attacked by Islamic terrorists inspired by ISIS. That's why I want to share this week's FLAME Hotline featured article with you. It provides a valuable perspective on how the current administration—and the world—is failing to address the problem of global Islamic terrorism in general and ISIS in particular.

This piece is by Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior policy fellow at the National Review Institute and an advisor to Ted Cruz. While the article includes a small plug for Cruz, please know that we reprint it despite this partisan nod and because we believe McCarthy's position has value far beyond the Presidential race. It will help you articulate to others how the U.S. must more forcefully respond to the scourge of Islamic terror.

In addition, I hope you'll also review the P.S. immediately below, which describes FLAME's hasbarah campaign to clarify our concerns about unbridled immigration of Middle East and North African Muslims to the United States.

Best regards,

Jim Sinkinson
Executive Vice President, Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME)



The world was again shattered as Muslim terrorists attacked Brussels. One of the attackers is believed to have sneaked into Belgium with other Middle East immigrants after having been trained and indoctrinated by ISIS in Syria. It's because significant numbers of Muslims have beliefs that contradict American values that FLAME is now publishing a new position paper in media nationwide—which explores these values and their danger to our society. I urge you to preview this outspoken hasbarah message today: "The Muslim Immigrant Question." This hard-hitting paid editorial appears in magazines and newspapers, including college newspapers, with a combined readership of some 10 million people. In addition, it has been sent to every member of the U.S. Congress and President Obama. If you agree that this kind of public relations effort on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's powerful ability to influence public opinion comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able—with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that the war on global Islamic terror gets the support it needs—from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people. To donate online, just go to donate now.

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Brussels and Willful Blindness

by Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, March 22, 2016

Defense Secretary Ash Carter happened to be scheduled to testify before Congress today. Thus, he provided the government's first reaction to the jihadist atrocity in Brussels, in which 31 are dead (the toll is expected to rise) and scores of others have been wounded. Secretary Carter called the attacks a "tragedy."

The mass murder obviously has tragic effects for those killed and wounded, and for their families, but this is not a tragedy. It is a war crime targeting a civilian population in the course of an ongoing war, which—notwithstanding the reckless posturing by the commander-in-chief—is not close to "winding down," much less being over. It was simply shocking this morning to watch split screens. On one, we saw President Obama spend fleeting seconds on a peremptory acknowledgement of the attacks before moving on to his long, celebratory speech about how he has put the Cold War to rest in Cuba by working with "President Castro." On the other screen, Belgians chaotically fled fire and debris while emergency personnel rushed the wounded to ambulances and carried out the dead.

Our enemies are at war with us. They continue to execute acts of war, not tragedies, against us. We cannot "end" the war by withdrawing from it; we can only lose that way. We cannot prevail, or even adequately protect ourselves, without seeing the enemy plain: radical Islam—Islamic supremacists determined to impose sharia on the world, with jihadists as the pointy end of the spear, and ideological sympathizers as their support system.

Because the latest round of war crimes occurs in the context of our momentous decision about who will be the next commander-in-chief, it is worth observing that Ted Cruz, whom I support (and on whose advisory team I serve), has stressed a recognition that the enemy is radical Islam. [ Editor: Most other Presidential candidates have also now identified the enemy using some form of the word "Islam."] This is not just campaign rhetoric. We know, nearly a quarter century after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, that jihadist cells arise and thrive in ideological enclaves; that is where the radicalization, recruitment, fundraising, plotting, and injection and protection of jihadist immigrants occurs. We cannot deny reality by rationalizing that if we admit the truth we will be misunderstood as being "at war with Islam"—as in all Muslims.

What we like to think of as "radical Islam" is actually a legitimate and rabidly anti-Western interpretation of Islam that is followed by millions of Muslims. It is irrelevant to non-Muslims in the West whether theirs is a correct or incorrect construction of Muslim scripture. The remorseless fact remains that its adherents believe it—with a fervor that inspires the kinds of attacks we've seen today and have seen over and over again. Those adherents include Muslims who lack the commitment to carry out attacks themselves but nevertheless provide moral (and other) support to those who do, and who populate the Western immigrant enclaves in which the ideology thrives.

It's a welcome fact that there are other ways of interpreting Islam that do not endorse war and hostility against the West; those who offer these interpretations are our allies, and we should be encouraging them rather than turning to enemies such as the Muslim Brotherhood to help us conduct "community outreach." Still, the fact that there are pro-Western Muslims and authentically tolerant interpretations of Islam does not—and cannot be allowed to—obscure the fact that Islamic supremacism is a mainstream construction of Islam. It is not "false" Islam, or "anti-Islam." It is Islam that competes, violently, with other constructions of Islam.

It is not our job to broker the claims these competitors make regarding what is the "true Islam." It is our job to protect ourselves and our allies, and to crush the jihadist armies and cells that are prosecuting the war against us. If we do not acknowledge what the threat is and where it is coming from, we will continue to embrace the policies that empower the enemy. In a time of war, we cannot indulge a policy of mass immigration from countries where sharia supremacism is a significant presence.

With respect to Muslim immigrant communities that are already here, we must have sensible surveillance policies that identify and focus police attention on mosques and community centers that endorse anti-Western Islamic supremacism. That is not a dragnet against all Muslims; it is the arena where pro-American Muslims can step up and help us. No law-enforcement or intelligence agency wants to waste its time and resources investigating innocent people. But we have to be clear that Muslims who endorse Islamic supremacism, who want our Constitution supplanted by sharia, are on the wrong side of this war, regardless of whether they cross the line into violence.

Finally, we cannot tolerate jihadist safe havens anyplace on earth. The administration recently conceded that it has no strategy to deny the Islamic State—which has claimed responsibility for today's attack—their sanctuary in Raqqa (to say nothing of their other strongholds). Let's be clear: If ISIS is orchestrating attacks on the West from Syria and Iraq, that is an American national-security challenge, not just a civil war in a faraway place. American national-security problems cannot responsibly be delegated to other forces who will carry out our defense and war-fighting responsibilities for us. This is our problem.

There has not yet been a serious bombing campaign against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq, and it is fair enough to say that the number of troops we may have to commit hinges on how committed we are to an intense air campaign. We should not delude ourselves, however: The jihadists are planning to attack the United States as well as Europe, and it is going to take American military commitment to destroy them—not to carry out an experiment in democracy-building, but to eradicate the threat to our nation and our allies.


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