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Syria’s crematoriums echo the Holocaust — President Trump, bomb them now

The most important human rights story of the week seems to have been largely overshadowed by political headlines. The report that should consume the international community is the revelation that U.S. satellite photos have identified crematoria at Syrian President Bashar Assad’s Sednaya prison. Assad built these killing centers to destroy the evidence of his mass murder of innocent civilians and political opponents in Syria, amid a growing genocide.

Just over 70 years ago, the United States failed to bomb the Auschwitzextermination camp and other death camps, allowing the Nazis to continue to murder millions of Jews with impunity. If the phrase “Never again” is to have any meaning, the United States, Israel, or some other power that stands for morality and against the evils of genocide, must immediately bomb the Syrian crematoria.

On Sunday night, a tribute will be held in New York City in honor of Elie Wiesel at the World Values Network Gala, of which I am founder. After surviving the concentration camps, Wiesel devoted his life to doing everything in his power to ensure that nothing like the Holocaust would ever happen again. If he were alive, he would be demanding action from the world’s leaders. He would not be silent just because the rest of the world is mired today in moral ambiguity. He would be horrified that the pages of major newspapers around the world published pictures of crematoria taking place before our eyes and the world did nothing.

With Wiesel’s death last year, the responsibility to stop innocent Arab men, women, and children from being slaughtered in Syria falls to all of us.

I accompanied Elie’s son, Elisha, to his recent “March of the Living Speech” at Auschwitz, where he electrified the audience with a demand that we finally become our brother’s keeper. Twelve thousand young Jews walked down the same paths of those whose lives were extinguished, whose bodies and souls were burned in crematoria and remains floated to heaven.

Today, we know many of these Jews could have been saved had the president of the United States bombed the camp, or at least the train tracks leading to Auschwitz. It was not a complicated operation — the Allies were already bombing targets in the area. Nevertheless, for reasons that remain as unacceptable today as they were then, Franklin Roosevelt refused to act, knowing the deadly consequences of his inaction.

For many years the Roosevelt administration pretended not to be aware of the “Final Solution” to the “Jewish problem.” The president knew Hitler’s intent as early as 1939, and he knew the Nazis were engaged in mass murder, but saving the Jewish people was never his priority.

 

Roosevelt was one of our greatest presidents, and he ultimately defeated Hitler. But his legacy will forever be tarnished by his failure to do more to prevent the destruction of European Jewry. His failure on Auschwitz is Exhibit A.

Now there is no pretense, no question about what we know. We see pure evil before our eyes.

Hitler was emboldened by the world’s failure to act after the Nuremberg laws were enacted, after Kristallnacht foreshadowed the fate of European Jewry, after Hitler’s explicit declaration of his intent to exterminate the Jews, and after learning of the Final Solution.

Barack Obama did nothing while Assad terrorized and used chemical weapons on his people. Worse, Obama’s failure to enforce his “red line”emboldened Assad to gas his people again. Recently, the former president bizarrely and brazenly claimed that his inaction in Syria required “political courage,” as if a failure to punish the gassing of children is something merits applause.

Now, a failure to destroy the crematoria in Syria will give Assad an international license to continue to slaughter his people and destroy the evidence in puffs of smoke.

President Trump will be in Israel in a few days and visit Yad Vashem, the museum and memorial to the 6 million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust. Just 150 miles away, Syria is running a killing center that is a reminder of the adage that those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them.

To his credit, Donald Trump took decisive action in response to Assad’s last chemical attack. It was his proudest moment as president. Now, he must be equally decisive by sending cruise missiles or whatever munitions are required to reduce the crematoria to rubble.

It is unconscionable to allow Assad to get away with his continuing war crimes. He must be charged in the International Court of Justice with crimes against humanity.

Every nation must speak out against this evil. More important, each must contribute to putting a stop to Assad’s killing spree — starting with the destruction of his crematoria.

http://origin-nyi.thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international-affairs/334161-syrias-crematoriums-echo-the-holocaust-president

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No, Assad is not good for Israel, and he never will be

By far the most shocking thing I heard at the Jerusalem Post conference in New York was former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff Dan Halutz saying that Bashar Assad was good for Israel, because Assad keeps the peace in Syria and a modicum of stability.

Expect that he doesn’t. Syria is a mess of death and destruction.

Even if Assad did keep the peace in Syria, he would never be good for Israel.

The Jewish state is fundamentally different, founded as it is on a dream — a vision of a nation emerging from the cauldron of Auschwitz, an ancient homeland resurrected following eviction from another brutal power, Rome, 2,000 years ago. The Jews are survivors of genocide, and above all else they cherish life. That’s why Israel mourns its dead soldiers perhaps more than any nation on earth.

This past Shabbat, my family and I hosted Aviram Shaul, brother of Oron Shaul, an IDF soldier who was murdered by Hamas in July 2014 in Gaza. Hamas kidnapped his body and is holding it as ransom until today. His family is suffering terribly.

Israel is trying everything to recover his body, because to the Israeli people, its boys must always come home. Sitting with Shaul and with his IDF escort, who helps run the unit that deals with Israel’s 170 MIA families, was painful, but also an inspiration.

I thought of this as I listened to the former IDF head telling a New York City crowd two days later that Israel should support Assad. Halutz has a moral obligation to retract his words. Genocide is the world’s foremost abomination. Assad is guilty of using poison gas against innocent Arab men, women and children. His foremost critics should be not Arabs but Jews. For no one knows better than us what murder by poison gas is like.

In the Torah, we read in Leviticus 19, “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” This is the biblical basis for the responsibility to protect, the moral imperative imposed on the powerful to protect the weak.

In the White House a few years ago I studied this passage, along with its commentaries, with Samantha Power before she became America’s ambassador to the United Nations. Samantha had earned a global reputation fighting genocide, only to see it undermined by the Obama administration’s refusal to take action against Assad, once he began gassing his people in August of 2013. Her name has been forever compromised by Syria, just as Donald Trump’s name was greatly enhanced through his decisive action against Assad once the butcher decided to gas his people again.

Israel must be on the right side of history. Choosing the political stability of a neighbor while its people are massacred is not something the Jewish state can countenance. Israel should be calling loudly for an end to Assad’s atrocities against his people.

Yes, ISIS is a real danger, and yes, Assad might serve as a bulwark against it. But not at the price of gassing children.

I’m surprised that an IDF chief of staff doesn’t understand this. Israel is strong primarily because it has morality on its side, which is what brings people of goodwill throughout the world to its defense. It can never lose the moral argument.

Yes, Israel is loathed by a great many around the world. But compare them to the 80 million born-again American Christians whose support for Israel is stalwart. And this is precisely because Israel is the realization of a biblical dream of justice and righteousness.

Just imagine how we Jews would have reacted if Halutz were speaking 70 years earlier as the head of the American military, telling us that stopping Hitler’s slaughter of the Jews is subordinate to the overarching war aims of defeating the Third Reich. Our response would be, “Are you kidding? You can’t at least bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz, where 10,000 people are gassed every day? And if you can’t, are you still moral?”

FDR has a claim to being the greatest president of the 20th century because it was he who defeated Hitler. But his legacy will be forever stained, even among progressives, by his refusal to take decisive action to stop the Holocaust.

I recognize that Israel’s options in Syria are limited. Any action the Jewish state takes against Assad will be interpreted by many in the Arab world as an aggressive rather than a compassionate action. But I also understand that Israel’s voice is still robust.

No senior IDF officer should be on the wrong side of history.

Halutz should reconsider his words and publicly repudiate such misguided sentiments.

On May 21 our organization will be hosting a tribute to Elie Wiesel at Cipriani in New York City. It will feature his son Elisha delivering a keynote address. In attendance will be President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and some of Israel’s leading diplomats. We will focus on the human responsibility to oppose genocide. No doubt Syria will be on everyone’s mind.

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international-affairs/332400-no-assad-is-not-good-for-israel-and-he-never-will-be

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Never again? The Holocaust can happen again — and it’s up to us to stop it

Since my recent return from March of the Living at Auschwitz, I’ve written a series of articles on both my experiences at the death camp and the harrowing mental processing that’s followed. When you visit a place like Birkenau, where the very earth you walk on is soaked in the blood of innocent men, women and children, there is simply no limit to the pain, loss, and righteous indignation one can feel for their deaths.

But there’s another side to the equation. There weren’t just victims at the death camps — there were perpetrators, too. Who were these people? How could they have done this? What brand of brutal inhumanity could ever possess a man so deeply that he could herd droves of children into a furnace?

Were they monsters?

Well, if you’d been reading the signs at Auschwitz-Birkenau or almost any other concentration camp, you may be led to believe they were: a special brand of beasts known as Nazis.

There is almost no mention at the camps of where these Nazis came from, what they believed, or what they were fighting for. They might as well have arrived from another planet. One would, in all likelihood, find no evidence that these men had anything to do with a Western-European state called Germany. That they came from Germany, believed in Germany, fought for Germany, and killed for Germany.

In my humble opinion, that’s a problem.

The truth is, these men weren’t monsters. They were ordinary people, just like me and you. They had families, girlfriends, pets and gardens they’d tend to. Hitler himself was known for the warmth and love he felt for his dog, Blondi. Many of those who perpetrated the holocaust were not just professional killers — they had advanced degrees in such areas as agriculture and the humanities.

Ludolf von Alvensleben, one of the SS leaders in Poland and Crimea, had a degree in agronomy, for example, and spent his years after the war overseeing fisheries in Argentina (no, he was never brought to justice.) Hans-Adolf Prützmann likewise earned a degree in agriculture just a few years before he would oversee the Einsatzgruppen detachments that perpetrated the Holocaust in the Baltic States. Paul Blobel, who murdered over 33,000 Jews in the forest of Babi Yar and commissioned the first gas vans, was a trained architect and spent nearly a decade in that profession. Richard Baer, who ran Auschwitz in the last year of the war, was a trained confectioner. Yes, one of the men who ran the world’s largest factories of death originally made sweets for a living.

The Nazis were not monsters at all. They were in fact people who believed so deeply in the superiority of Germany and its godlike Fuhrer that they’d kill 6 million innocent people to advance their national cause.

Twice in 1932, the German people elected the Nazis as the largest party in the Reichstag, and in 1933, the Nazis got 43.9 percent of the popular vote — making the Nazis Germany’s most popular party by far.

Then, in 1933, the parliament voted to allow the Deutschnationale Coalition to govern without the consent of parliament members. The law itself was unconstitutional, but it was passed with such an overwhelming majority — a majority large enough to change the constitution — that the democratically elected parliament didn’t even bother taking the step to legalize their measures.

Following the death of President Hindenburg in August 1934, Hitler gave the German people a referendum whereby they would approve his assumption of supreme power. Here, over 88 percent of the population voted for the Fürher.

Finally, in the German and Election Referendum of 1936, 98.8 percent of the German population voted in support of Hitler, a level of popularity unparalleled in history. This election, I must mention, took place just after the passage of the notorious Nuremberg Laws, which stripped all Jews and other non-Germans of all rights.

Sure, Hitler didn’t campaign on promises of a Holocaust, but as the Nuremberg Laws had shown, his outspoken hatred of the Jews and his willingness to act upon his virulent anti-Semitism was abundantly clear. Worst of all, once Hitler did begin to perpetrate unprecedented atrocities, the German people, by and large, stood fervently by his side.

According to historian Ian Kershaw, German popular support for Hitler reached its peak when he returned from his tour of the newly conquered Paris in July of 1940. By this time, the Einsatzgruppen had already begun their campaigns of systematic murder throughout Poland. Over 95,000 Jews had been deported as part of the Nisko Plan. Concentration camps were up and running. And Reinhard Heydrich had begun to hole up all of Poland’s Jews in the squalor of the ghettos, where thousands died from maltreatment, disease, starvation and exhaustion.

So let’s say it as it is: the Holocaust wasn’t a crime perpetrated by just the Nazis, a political party, but one supported and therefore committed by the German people as a collective.

This is not to say that Germans today are culpable for the actions of their forbearers. Judaism has never preached vertical accountability, where children must bear the guilt of their ancestors (18 Ezekiel says most emphatically they do not). But what we do demand is horizontal accountability, where if an entire nation elects, supports and executes the orders of a murderous government like that of the Nazis — especially when they do so enthusiastically — then they must own the crime.

If there’s any reason we must remember the Holocaust, aside from its own sake, it’s so that we never allow it to happen again. To do that, we have to foresee potential mass killings before they start. And if we have any hope of achieving that critical goal, we need to understand that mass murderers like the Nazis can rise up at any place and at any time.


It is for this reason that our organization, The World Values Network, plans to announce, at our May 21 Gala in New York City honoring the memory of our friend Elie Wiesel, and in the presence of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the creation of a global anti-Genocide initiative with offices in New York, Jerusalem, and Kigali, Rwanda.

As I walked through Auschwitz and saw that all the signs said “Nazi” without mention of the word “Germany,” I felt like I was being subjected to historical revisionism of the worst kind. I felt like museum curators were inadvertently trying to load the blame of the Holocaust upon a foreign screed of devils who somehow made it onto earth. That they were a historical fluke, an exception to humanity’s rule, some sort of once-in-a-historical-lifetime aberration.

But they weren’t. They were people. And people today can become whatever it is that they choose to become. Yes, Bashar Assad can embrace the ideology of the mass murder that we associate with the Nazis — as the death toll in his country nears the half-million mark, he’s well on his way. The mullahs in Iran, threatening as they are to raze Israel to the ground and wipe it off the map, are using 1940s Germany as their model.

Perpetrators of genocide can and will rise so long as we fail to see them. So long as we dissociate the crimes of the Nazis from the nation of Germany, we push the concept of genocide one step further away from our collective consciousness and out of our world. In a world, however, where mass killing and the threat thereof is a regular reality, our awareness of genocide needs to be right here with us always, down to- earth and firmly set within our minds.

http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/religion/333158-never-again-the-holocaust-can-happen-again-and-its-up-to-us-to

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NO HOLDS BARRED: A CHABAD RABBI APOLOGIZES FOR MEETING THE POPE

The moral of the story is that not every dispute in Chabad is about pure ideology.

Twenty-three years ago, I was forced to resign as Chabad rabbi to the Jewish students at Oxford University. The reason: I had some 5,000 non-Jewish student members of our organization,

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Rabbi Shmuley: We Do Not Forget — President Trump Promised Jerusalem

This Sunday, I will be flying to Israel immediately after the gala dinner of our organization, the World Values Network. I am going to attend the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem Day, when Israel reunified Jerusalem in the 1967 war, affirming the Jewish people’s rebirth in their ancient capital after the devastation of the Holocaust.

President Donald Trump will be there, too. During his campaign, he made a commitment to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

In addition, the Republican Party platform at last year’s convention said: “We recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state, and call for the American embassy to be moved there in fulfillment of U.S. law.”

President Trump is being pressured from many sides to renege on that pledge. But he must resist the naysayers and do what he knows in his mind and heart to be the right thing for America and for our foremost ally, Israel.

Barack Obama did good things for the Jewish state, including stepping up military and economic cooperation, as Israel repeatedly acknowledged. There was little good, however, about his policies of paying ransom to the genocidal Iranian regime,;or providing funding to the Palestinian Authority so it can pay salaries to terrorists; or doing nothing after Syria’s tyrant gassed his people.

President Trump did the right thing in attacking the Syrian tyrant following the latest chemical weapons attack, in telling Mahmoud Abbas he must stop paying terrorists, and in denouncing the catastrophic nuclear deal with Iran. But more must be done — and the Jerusalem Embassy move is especially long overdue.

It is outrageous that out of the 190 nations America has diplomatic relations with, Israel is the only one whose capital is not recognized by the U.S. government.

More than 20 years ago, in 1990, Congress passed a resolution declaring that “Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel” and “must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.” Five years later, Congress overwhelmingly passed legislation reiterating that position and requiring the U.S. embassy in Israel to be moved no later than May 1999. The Jerusalem Embassy Act passed the Senate by 93-5. The most famous Democratic Senators of the time all voted for it, including Senators Joe Biden (D-DE), John Kerry (D-MA), Harry Reid (D-NV), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

It is now May 2017, and the embassy remains in Tel Aviv. Trump’s predecessors, despite pledging during their campaigns to move the embassy, repeatedly signed waivers that allowed them to ignore the legislation on grounds that delaying would be in the national security interests of the United States. Trump is now being asked to sign a similar waiver to frustrate the will of Congress and to break a central campaign promise, once again.

He is being told the embassy cannot be moved because it might provoke outrage in the Muslim world and violence in Jerusalem. That is blackmail and the United States cannot give in to such threats. We cannot allow others to dictate what should and should not be sovereign U.S. territory. And no one should be making threats to the most powerful and righteous nation on earth without assuming there will be serious consequences.

Furthermore, the Muslim world should not be treated with such disrespect. We should not take the paternalistic view that Muslims cannot understand that Jerusalem has long been Israel’s capital and that the United States is the Jewish state’s closest ally. Reinforcing our special relationship by moving a building should not be seen as a provocation or retreat from our friendship with Arab and Muslim nations.

Furthermore, Muslims in the Middle East have far more serious concerns that, unlike U.S. policy toward Jerusalem, directly affect their lives. They suffer deprivations and persecution in many of their own countries. Shiites and Sunnis are at war throughout the region. Iran is threatening the well-being of Muslims throughout the area as well as the leaders of several Arab countries. Muslims are dying daily in fighting in Iraq, Yemen, and Syria. Will all of these problems evaporate with the relocation of our embassy? Will the ongoing conflicts stop so Muslims can redirect their anger toward the United States and Israel?

Radical Islamists want to destroy our way of life and nothing we do – or don’t do – will change their agenda. Furthermore, the best way to prevent violence is to show we will not give in to threats, and to send a clear message to the provocateurs in the Palestinian Authority and elsewhere that we will not tolerate any actions on their part to incite violence.

Moreover, moving our embassy will not harm the peace process. The opposite is true. By making clear the United States position that Jerusalem should remain unified under Israeli sovereignty, unrealistic Palestinian expectations regarding the city can be moderated, and thereby enhance the prospects for a final agreement.

Despite the outrageously biased UN Resolution 2334, supported by Trump’s predecessor, Israel will not compromise its sovereignty over its capital. It will never give up Judaism’s holy places. It will not allow the Palestinian Authority or its supporters at UNESCO to erase the history of the Jewish people from their homeland.

There is no better time than President Trump’s upcoming visit to Jerusalem to declare that, a he promised during the campaign, he will move the U.S. embassy to Israel’s eternal capital. Doing so will help him domestically by demonstrating that he is indeed a man of his word. It will help him internationally by showing that he cannot be intimidated by threats. It will advance  his interest in peace by sending a message to the Palestinians that he stands by Israel and will not capitulate to their demands or force Israel to do so. Showing his commitment to Jerusalem will also restore the confidence of the people of Israel that the United States has their back. Finally, standing up for American values and correcting a historical wrong will be a part of his presidential legacy, which will earn him the gratitude of the Jewish people and the respect of all Americans.

Last month, on Holocaust Memorial Day, President Trump spoke movingly about the memory of the six million Jews murdered in the Second World War. He praised genocide’s foremost witness, Elie Wiesel, as “a great man” whose “absence leaves an empty space in our hearts, but his spirit fills this room.”

This Sunday, at the World Values Network gala, Professor Wiesel’s son, Elisha, will be reciting the very last Kaddish — the Jewish prayer for the dead — for his father. Immediately after that, I will leave for Israel.

We Jews do not forget. We have mourned the destruction of Jerusalem for thousands of years. President Trump has a unique opportunity to turn that mourning into the joy of celebration when he, too, arrives in Israel. He can, at a unique moment in history, move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and confirm its permanence as Israel’s capital.

It is an opportunity he must not decline.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/05/16/remember-president-trump-promised-jerusalem/

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No Holds Barred: The Israeli general who supports Assad must retract his words

Israel is trying everything to recover his body, because the Israeli people demand that their children must always come home.

By far the most shocking thing I heard at The Jerusalem Post Conference in New York was former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad was good for Israel, by which he meant that Assad keeps the peace in Syria and modicum of stability.

Expect that he doesn’t. Syria is a mess of death and destruction.

But even if Assad did keep the peace in Syria, he would never be good for Israel.

The Jewish state is fundamentally different to others, founded as it is on a dream, a vision of a nation emerging from the cauldron of the Holocaust to resurrect itself in its ancient homeland from which it was evicted by another brutal power, Rome, 2,000 years ago. The Jews are survivors of genocide and above all else they cherish life. That’s why Israel mourns its dead soldiers more than any nation on earth.

This past Shabbat my family and I hosted Aviram Shaul, brother of Oron Shaul, an IDF soldier who was murdered by Hamas in July 2014 in Gaza.

Hamas is still holding his body for ransom. Israel is trying everything to recover his body, because the Israeli people demand that their children must always come home. Sitting with him and with his IDF officer escort, who help run the IDF unit that deals with Israel’s 170 MIA families, was painful but also an inspiration.

I thought of this as I listened to the former head of the IDF telling a New York City crowd two days later that Israel should support Assad. Gen. Halutz has a moral obligation to retract his words. Genocide is the world’s foremost abomination. Assad is guilty of using poison gas against innocent Arab men, women and children. His foremost critics should be not Arabs but Jews. For no one knows better than us what murder by poison gas is like.

In the Torah this past weekend we read in Leviticus 19, “Do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” This is the biblical basis for R2P, or Responsibility to Protect, the moral imperative imposed on the powerful to protect the weak.

In the White House a few years ago I studied this passage, along with its commentaries, with Samantha Power before she became America’s ambassador to the United Nations. Samantha had earned a global reputation fighting genocide, only to see it undermined by the Obama administration’s refusal to take action against Assad once he began gassing his people in August of 2013. Samantha’s name has been forever compromised by Syria, just as Trump’s name was greatly enhanced through his decisive action against Assad once the butcher decided to gas his people again.

Israel must be on the right side of history.

Choosing the political stability of a neighbor while its people are massacred is not something the Jewish state can countenance. Israel should be calling loudly for an end to Assad’s atrocities against his people.

Yes, Islamic State (ISIS) is a real danger and yes, Assad might serve as a bulwark against it. But not at the price of gassing children.

I’m surprised that a former IDF chief of staff doesn’t understand this. Israel is strong primarily because it has morality on its side, which is what brings people of goodwill throughout the world to its defense. It can never lose the moral high ground.

Yes, Israel is loathed by a great many around the world. But these are people with no moral compass. Compare them to the 80 million bornagain American Christians whose support for Israel is stalwart. Stalwart precisely because Israel is the realization of a biblical dream of justice and righteousness.

Just imagine how we Jews would have reacted if Halutz was speaking 70 years earlier as the heads of the American military, telling us that Hitler’s slaughter of the Jews was subordinate to the overarching war aims of defeating the Third Reich.

Our response would be, “Are you kidding? You can’t bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz where 10,000 people are gassed every day? And if you can’t, are you still moral?” FDR has a claim to being the greatest president of the 20th century because it was he who defeated Hitler. But his legacy will be forever stained by his refusal to take decisive action to stop the Holocaust.

I recognize that Israel’s options in Syria are limited. Any action the Jewish state takes against Assad will be interpreted by many in the Arab world as an aggressive rather than a compassionate action. But I also understand that Israel’s voice is still robust.

No senior IDF officer should be on the wrong side of history.

Halutz should reconsider his words and publicly repudiate such misguided sentiments.

On May 21 our organization will be hosting a tribute to Elie Wiesel at Cipriani in New York City.

It will feature his son Elisha delivering a keynote address. In attendance will be President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and some of Israel’s leading diplomats.

We will focus on the human responsibility to oppose genocide. No doubt Syria will be on everyone’s mind.

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/No-Holds-Barred-The-Israeli-general-who-supports-Assad-must-retract-his-words-490155

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RABBI SHMULEY: For Steve Bannon, Israel Is on the Whiteboard

Yesterday, insofar as anyone can recall, was the first-ever White House commemoration of Israel’s birth as a nation.

It was a top-of-the-line, incredible Israel Independence day celebration, attended by many of America’s leaders paying homage to the Jewish state.

Here you had the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, representing himself and President Donald Trump, summoning Jewish, Christian, and other American leaders to our country’s center of power to celebrate the creation of a foremost ally, a nation comprised of survivors of history’s greatest crime.

The event showed such immeasurable respect from the Trump administration toward the world’s only Jewish state, and was profoundly moving.

David Friedman, in his first official role as the new U.S. Ambassador to the State of Israel, served as master of ceremonies. Also present was Jason Greenblatt, a true friend of Israel who serves as Chief Middle East negotiator. Mike Pence gave a religiously-themed address, quoting often from the Bible. He displayed a deep connection to his Christian faith, fused as it is with a sincere attachment to Israel and the Jewish people. As he spoke of the Jewish people’s return to their land, and the fulfillment thereby of so many Biblical promises, one could see just how moved he was. Then, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, followed with another beautiful address about the deep and fundamental friendship shared by America and the Jewish State.

Steve Bannon, the President’s Chief Strategist, agreed to receive me and my wife, and I thanked him for his deep friendship to Israel, which he had always displayed as head of Breitbart and now as a trusted counselor to the President.

I had first met Steve during the transition. You can imagine how busy he must have been at the time, too. Still, when I asked to discuss the importance of the administration having a strong human rights agenda, he immediately agreed and was generous with his time. 

In Syria, Aleppo was being bombed regularly. The Assad offensive was devastating civilians, with untold thousands being murdered. I believed firmly that something had to be done.

In the end it would be the Trump Administration which would be the first to take action against Assad, punishing for gassing Arab children, after years of inaction on the part of President Obama.

I greatly enjoyed the conversation with Steve. I found him to be stimulating, direct, focused, warm, knowledgeable, and to the point.

As I left the meeting, I was astonished that this was the man who was being so demonized. What was more disturbing was that he was being labeled an antisemite.

How can a man who publicly fights BDS, stands as a foremost opponent of the Jew-hating genocidal regime in Iran, and opens a Breitbart bureau in Jerusalem so that Israel’s voice can be heard be labeled an antisemite? Tell me, if you can, how a man who appoints some of the proudest Jews I know – like my friend Joel Pollak – to senior positions at Breitbart be an enemy of my people?

Some at the time, and on my Twitter feed since, have taken to calling Bannon a “Nazi.” And here, you must forgive a brief diversion.

Just last week, I visited Auschwitz, this time as part of the hope-filled and inspiring March of the Living. If you were to walk through Auschwitz-Birkenau, seeing the tens of thousands of pairs of shoes, of men, women, and especially children; or seeing the tons, literally, of shorn hair from the women brought to the camps so as to be used by the SS in manufacturing; or, had you just walked through the haunting shadows of the gas chambers, the idea that there are those who would trivialize the horrors of the Holocaust and abuse the word “Nazi” would sicken you to your core.

What is most shocking is that this smear comes from people want to be decent, all while burning with such ferocious hatred that they will take a presidential advisor whom they dislike and drape him with history’s most damning term, drawing an equivalence between him and the men who gassed 1.5 million children.

Let’s call such name-calling what it is: the trivialization of the Holocaust and the demeaning of its victims. 

I am well aware that we have just been through a tough election and I completely understand those who disagree with Trump or Bannon’s policies. I personally and publicly disagree with a refugee ban, and as a Jew I stand up strongly for those who are fleeing horrors at home. America should be a sanctuary for the oppressed.

But to call someone an antisemite with zero evidence, or the disgusting moniker “Nazi,” is completely beyond the pale, especially when the person in question has shown stalwart support for the State of Israel. And I, as a member of a people who have been unfairly demonized often, will stand up to defend the name of those being falsely maligned.

While America should most definitely take in Syrian refugees, something I have said publicly and repeatedly, the real issue is that there should never have been refugees in the first place. President Obama should have done something to stop the slaughter. We pleaded with him to do so. But while Aleppo was falling in December 2016, and being bombed into oblivion, the Obama administration seemed more concerned to condemn Israeli settlements at the United Nations than the mass murder of Arab civilians in Syria. The world would have to wait for the Trump administration to see action taken to punish Assad’s despicable use of poison gas.

Joel Pollak had shared with me many times how Bannon showed the highest respect to Jewish employees at Breitbart, always accommodating their religious requirements. Joel told me how Bannon would often ask questions about Judaism in order to ensure that the Jewish employees would have all their needs accommodated, like leaving early on the Sabbath and festivals.

It goes without saying, of course, that Breitbart itself is arguably one of the most consistently pro-Israel sites on the web today, and has been a staunch adversary of the antisemitic “boycott, divestment, sanctions” (BDS) movement, which seeks the economic destruction of the State of Israel.

As for racist comments, I write for Breitbart, just as I write for the Huffington Post, the Wall Street JournalThe Hill, the Jerusalem Post, the New York Observer, and the Daily Beast. I have seen racist nut-jobs comment on my posts at each of those outlets. My innumerable columns about Israel on The Huffington Post have brought significant Israel-hatred. But I never saw that as a reflection on the publication.

As for charges of extremist rhetoric, some of the most anti-Israel screeds I have ever read have appeared in places like the Huffington Post, even as I consider my long-time friend Arianna Huffington an obvious and phenomenal friend of the Jewish people. I condemn in the strongest terms white supremacist hate speech wherever, and in whatever outlets, it appears. No one has suffered more under white supremacist hate speech that we Jews and all must be vigilant against racism of every stripe.

In my religion, defaming someone unfairly is a sin. And there is zero evidence that Steve Bannon has anything but warmth and respect toward the Jewish people. I have my disagreements with Bannon on some important policies. But the level of hate I have witnessed on my Twitter feed over the past few days disappoints and saddens me. We have to learn to live with each other and respect each others’ views. Argue, disagree — but not hate.

All of us are responsible. And all of us must make more of an effort at harmony in America so that we can disagree but without the levels of acrimony that are becoming unacceptable.

Yesterday I invited Bannon to our organization’s annual Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala, being held on May 21 at New York’s Cipriani. The dinner will also feature President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, the only living person to have stopped a genocide, which he did in 1994 after nearly one million Tutsis had been hacked to death by Hutu genocidaires. We are also extremely honored to host Martin Luther King III as a keynote speaker at our gala.

At the White House this week, after thanking Steve for his support of Israel on its 69th birthday, we took a picture and he allowed me tweet it.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter
 Needless to say, the picture — with the whiteboard of campaign promises and priorities in the background — seems to be the tweet heard around the world.

While I did not notice anything on the board behind us at the time, I must say that I am happy to see that repealing the catastrophic Iran nuclear agreement, and moving the American Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, remain important to the administration. 

Many condemned me for the picture, and a steady stream of hate has been channeled, one again, in my direction. That will not deter me from standing up for friends of Israel and my people.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/05/03/whiteboard-rabbi-shmuley-steve-bannon-israel/

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Do US taxpayers know that Palestinian terrorists are on their payroll?

As for those terrorists who never made it home, they have streets, schools, parks, and competitions named after them.

I wonder what the reaction of steel-workers in Pennsylvania, coal miners in West Virginia, and produce workers in California would be to the news that their tax money is directly funding Palestinian terrorism.

It’s been known for some time now that the Palestinian Authority celebrates terrorism and lionizes those who perpetrate it. There was no secret made of the heroic homecoming offered by PA President Mahmoud Abbas to freed Palestinian terrorists in 2013, in which he triumphantly held up the hands of brutal thugs such as Abu Musa Atia, who axed Isaac Rotenberg, a 67-year-old survivor of the Sobibor death camp, to death at a construction site.

As for those terrorists who never made it home, they have streets, schools, parks, and competitions named after them.

Dalal Mughrabi was just 19 when she led the most barbaric and deadly terrorist attack in modern Israeli history, known as the “Coastal Road Massacre,” in 1978. Infiltrating Israel by boat, the young woman hijacked a bus and began to systematically murder those inside. As the bus careened down the highway, Mughrabi and her accomplices threw the corpses of their victims out of the back door of the bus, so as to obstruct the pursuing security forces. By the time police were able to take over the bus and eliminate the terrorists, she had murdered 38 Israelis, among them 13 children, seven of whom were under the age of six.

Her reception in Palestinian government and society was applause and veneration. Two girls’ high schools, a computer center, a soccer championship, two summer camps and a public square have been named after her. As it turned out, one of those schools – a girl’s school in Hebron – is being directly funded by USAID.

But now we’ve learned something new. The PA does not only celebrate terrorism, but actually funds it. And they do so with American taxpayers’ money.

The facts are straightforward. Every year the United States gives nearly half a billion dollars to Abbas and the PA. About four-fifths of that money is used to provide the payroll for Palestinian terrorists who have murdered Israelis and Americans.

Among those murdered in the most recent wave of terrorism was Taylor Force, a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point and a veteran of both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist during a visit to Israel. The man who killed him, the 21-year-old Bashar Masalha, was later killed by police. But his family now receives a monthly stipend of $3,500 – many times the average monthly Palestinian income – all courtesy of the PA, and by extension, their American benefactors.

The brutal thug I mentioned earlier, the one who axed a Holocaust survivor to death: he’s getting that payment, too.

Forty-two thousand dollars a year.

These payments are not even hidden, rather they’re stipulated by Palestinian law. Just last year, Abbas – who was in Washington yesterday for a meeting with President Donald Trump – even re-signed this pay-for-slay policy into Palestinian law. The law, moreover, dictates that the deadlier an attack, the richer the reward. The monthly income received by imprisoned terrorists and their families is directly proportional to the length of the prison sentences that they receive in Israeli courts, or – in other words – the number of people they manage to maim and kill.

There are currently two Palestinian government bodies, each with special office space and hundreds of civil servants, dedicated to dispersing funds to terrorists and their families. In the past year, these funds allotted $315 million, or 8% of the PA’s total budget, to this twisted system of terrorist welfare.

To put it simply: if you blow up children, disembowel pregnant women, or stab Jews and American tourists to death, you are legally entitled to an official Palestinian government stipend for the rest of your life. And even if you don’t survive the attack, your family will thank you. They’ll get the money in your stead.

This is all official Palestinian government policy. To call it abhorrent is an understatement. But far worse, it makes every American taxpayer complicit in acts of terrorism.

That this has gone on since the Oslo accords of the 1990s is shocking enough. But even more surprising is how successive American administrations have done nothing to stop it.

But President Trump can.

From Jared Kushner to Steve Bannon, from Jason Greenblatt to David Friedman, Trump has surrounded himself with tremendous friends and defenders of Israel. It’s time to cut off funding to the PA unless it immediately takes terrorists off the government payroll.

This is not an American issue, or even a pro-Israel issue, for that matter. On the contrary, it’s a moral issue, and it’s what the president owes the American people. It’s not acceptable to have hard-working Americans send their money to imprisoned killers and the families of suicide bombers.

The reputation of president Barack Obama will forever be stained by the Iran nuclear agreement. Not only because he allowed Iran to keep 6,500 centrifuges when North Korea built its bombs with a third of that number. And not because he did not demand that prior to any deal the murderous mullahs first cease their genocidal incitement against Israel and America.

But because president Obama actually released $150b. to the terrorist government of Iran knowing full well, and even admitting, that some of that money would be used to murder people in terrorist attacks.

Allowing the Palestinians to do the same, with money that we don’t just unfreeze, but actually give them, is simply unforgivable.

Congress, under the lead of Senator Lindsey Graham, and with support of senators Cotton, Cruz and Rubio, among others, is finally taking steps to cut Palestinian funding so long as they directly fund terrorism. It’s known as the Taylor Force Act, and it’s fitting name. This American hero had his life cut short at the hand of a killer, as have far too many of Israelis.

And, President Trump, after showing incredible leadership on striking at the murderer Assad, we look to you to reverse previous administration’s amorality of allowing hard-earned taxpayer money to go to terrorists.

http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Do-US-taxpayers-know-that-Palestinian-terrorists-are-on-their-payroll-489666

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RABBI SHMULEY: President Trump, Confront Abbas on Official Funding of Terror

When he ran for office, the President promised to make America more discerning in its dispersal of foreign aid. Well, now he’s got somewhere to start.

Every year, the United States gives the Palestinian Authority (PA) a fluctuating mega-sum of money hovering somewhere around the amount of four hundred million dollars. As it turns out, the PA spends more than three-quarters as much directly funding terrorists and their families.

That the PA would do this should come as no surprise. There are few governments on earth as proud and excited about terror as is the Palestinian regime under Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas and his government both celebrate terror and lionize those who perpetrate it. One need only look at the heroic homecoming offered by PA President Abbas to freed Palestinian terrorists in 2013, in which he triumphantly held up the hands of brutal-thugs such as Abu-Musa Atia, who axed a sixty-seven year old survivor of the Sobibor Death Camp to death as he walked through a construction site.

Those terrorists who don’t outlive their own attacks have streets, schools, parks, and competitions endowed with their names. Dalal Mughrabi, for one, was just nineteen when she led the most barbaric and deadly terrorist attack in modern Israeli history, known as the “Coastal Road Massacre,” in 1978. Infiltrating Israel on a boat, the young woman hijacked a bus and began to murder those inside. As the bus careened down the highway, Mughrabi and her accomplices threw the corpses of her victims out of the back door of the bus, so as to obstruct the security forces that pursued them. By the time Israeli police were able to take over the bus and eliminate the terrorists, she had murdered thirty-eight Israelis, among them thirteen children – seven of whom were under the age of six. Her reception in Palestinian government and society for such gruesome acts was – purely – applause and veneration. Two girls’ high schools, a computer center, a soccer championship, two summer camps, and a public square have since been named after her. As it turned out, one of those schools – a girl’s school in Hebron – was being directly funded by USAID. Mahmoud Abbas himself presided over a birthday celebration for what would have been her fiftieth birthday — one you can see for yourself on video.

So, with the Palestinian Authority so in love with terror, it’s not exactly shocking that they’d pay for it. What is shocking is that they do so with American taxpayer money. In fact, they even use this money to pay terrorists who have murdered Americans — even a former American servicemen at that.

Among those murdered in the most recent wave of terror was Taylor Force, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and a veteran of both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was stabbed to death last year by a Palestinian terrorist during a visit to Israel, while he was innocently paying a visit to the Tel Aviv boardwalk with fellow classmates from Vanderbilt University. The murderer was twenty-one year old Bashar Masalha, who was himself later killed by police, after he had injured another ten people. Amazingly, the family of this cold-blooded killer now receives a monthly stipend three times larger than the average Palestinian income – all courtesy of the PA.

Generally, when someone commits murder in America, our government holds them accountable. Through the PA, we quite literally reward them.

These payments are not even hidden, but are paid as a part of codified Palestinian law. Just last year, Abbas – who will be in Washington this coming Wednesday for a meeting with President Trump – even re-signed this pay-for-slay policy into Palestinian law. The law, moreover, dictates that that the deadlier an attack, the richer the reward. The monthly income received by imprisoned terrorists and their families is directly proportional to the length of the prison sentences they receive in Israeli courts — or, in other words, to the number of people they manage to maim and kill. Those who receive sentences of over thirty years’ imprisonment are entitled to $3,400 a month – twenty times the average Palestinian income.

The brutal thug I mentioned earlier — the one who axed a Holocaust survivor to death? He’s banking that payment, too. Forty-two thousand dollars a year, all for one blatant and indiscriminate act of murder. This, with help from Uncle Sam.

There are currently two Palestinian government bodies, each with special office space and hundreds of civil servants, dedicated to dispersing funds to terrorists and their families. In the last year, these funds allotted $315 million, or 8% of the Palestinian Authority’s total budget, to this twisted system of terrorist welfare.

To put it simply: If you blow up children, disembowel pregnant women, and stab Jews and American tourists to death, you are legally entitled to an official Palestinian government stipend for the rest of your life. And even if you don’t survive your own attack, your family will thank you when they receive the money in your stead.

That this is all official Palestinian government policy would sicken any moral person to his or her very core. But far worse, it makes every American taxpayer complicit in acts of terrorism.

This has gone on since the Oslo Peace Accords of the nineties, which means that at least three successive American administrations have done nothing to stop it.

But President Trump can. The President, in meeting Abbas Wednesday, can look him squarely in the eyes and tell him: Funding to the Palestinian Authority will be cut unless terrorists are taken immediately off the government payroll. You just can’t buy blood with our money.

This is not an American issue, or even a pro-Israel issue, for that matter. On the contrary, it’s a moral issue, and it’s what the president owes the American people. It is not acceptable to have hard-working Americans send their hard-earned money to imprisoned killers and the families of suicide bombers.

The reputation of President Obama will forever be stained by his Iran nuclear agreement. Not only because he allowed Iran to keep 6500 centrifuges — more than enough to produce a nuclear weapon over the next decade. And not only because he failed to demand that the murderous mullahs cease their genocidal incitement against Israel and America.

No — the worst part of the deal was that President Obama actually released $150 billion to the terrorist government of Iran knowing full well, and even admitting, that some of that money would be used to murder people in terror attacks.
Allowing the Palestinians to do the same with money that we don’t just unfreeze, but actually give them, is simply unforgivable.

Congress, under the lead of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and with the support of Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), among others, is finally taking steps to cut Palestinian funding as long as the PA directly funds terror. It’s known as The Taylor Force Act, and it’s fitting name. An American hero had his life cut short at the hand of a killer, as have far too many Israelis.

Since taking office President Donald Trump has distinguished himself as a tremendous friend of Israel.

Now, President Trump, after showing incredible leadership in striking at the murderer Bashar al-Assad, can confront Abbas and reverse the previous administration’s amorality of allowing hard-earned taxpayer money to go to terrorists.

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/05/02/rabbi-shmuley-president-trump-confront-abbas-on-official-funding-of-terror/