Hamas, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and problematic DC positions

Editor’s Note – Caroline Glick’s columns appear frequently in the Jerusalem Post and other publications. It is an honor to count her among the many close friends of both General Vallely and the Stand Up America family.

Hamas and the Washington establishment

By Caroline Glick

CarolineGlick.com

To date, the Republican presidential primary race has been the only place to have generated any useful contributions to America’s collective understanding of current events in the Middle East. Last month, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich became the first major political figure in more than a generation to pour cold water over the Palestinian myth of indigenous peoplehood by stating the truth, that the Palestinians are an “invented people.”

Newt Gingrich describing the "Invented People" - Palestinians

As Gingrich explained, their invention came in response to Zionism, the Jewish national liberation movement. Since they were created somewhere around 1920, the Palestinians’ main purpose has not been the establishment of a Palestinian state but the obliteration of the Jewish state.

For his truth telling, Gingrich was attacked by fellow politicians and policy hands on both sides of the ideological divide. To his credit, Gingrich has not backed away from the truth he spoke. Rather he has repeated it in two subsequent Republican candidates’ debates.

The second important contribution that Republican presidential candidates have made to the discourse on the Middle East was undertaken by Texas Gov. Rick Perry during a candidates’ debate in South Carolina on January 17, shortly before he pulled out of the race. When asked about Turkey, Perry said that country “is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists.” He went on to say that the US ought to be having a debate about whether Turkey should continue to serve as a member of NATO.

Like Gingrich, Perry was pilloried by all right thinking people in the US foreign policy elite. And like Gingrich, Perry was right. The hoopla his statement generated showed just how destructive so much of America’s received wisdom about the Middle East has become. Moreover, it demonstrated the extent to which the US has adopted Middle East policies that are inimical to its national interests.

After Hamas won the Palestinian elections in January 2006, Turkey was the first country to invite Hamas’s terror master Khaled Mashal to Ankara. Turkish Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan’s move provoked criticism from the Bush administration. But Erdogan just shrugged it off. And he was right to do so. By 2006, then secretary of state Condoleezza Rice had come to view Erdogan as the US’s indispensable ally in the Muslim world. As she saw it, he was proof that Islamist parties could be democratic and moderate.

The fact that Erdogan embraced Hamas could not get in the way of Rice’s optimistic assessment. So, too, the fact that Erdogan embarked on a systematic campaign to stifle press freedom, curb judicial independence and imprison his political critics in the media and the military could not move Rice from her view that Erdogan personified her belief that moderate jihadists exist and ought to be embraced by the US.

Rice’s starry-eyed view of Erdogan set the stage of US President Barack Obama’s even stronger embrace of the increasingly tyrannical Turkish Islamist. Since Obama took office, not only has Ankara stepped up its support of Hamas, and ended even the pretense of a continued strategic alliance with Israel that it maintained during the Bush years. Turkey began serving as Iran’s chief diplomatic protector while vastly expanding its own strategic and economic ties with Tehran.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recip Tayyip Erdogan and President Barrack Obama

In the face of Turkey’s openly anti-American behavior and actions, Obama clings to Erdogan even more strongly than Rice did. Obama reportedly views Erdogan as his most trusted foreign adviser. According to the media, Obama speaks with Erdogan more often than he speaks to any other foreign leader. In a recent interview with Time magazine, Obama listed Erdogan as one of the key foreign leaders with whom he has formed a friendship based on trust.

Over the past few weeks, Turkey has emerged as Hamas’s largest financier. During an official visit in Turkey, Hamas’s terror master in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh received a hero’s welcome. Erdogan pledged to finance the jihadist movement to the tune of $300 million per year.

COMMENTATORS CLAIM that Turkey’s sponsorship of Hamas was necessitated by Iran’s abandonment of the terror group. Iran, it is claimed, cut Hamas off in August due to the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood’s refusal to actively assist Iran’s other Arab client – Syrian President Bashar Assad – in massacring his domestic opponents.

These analyses are problematic for two reasons. First, it is far from clear that Iran cut Hamas off. Iran’s rulers have invited Haniyeh to Tehran for an official visit. This alone indicates that the mullahs remain committed to maintaining their relationship with the jihadist movement that controls the Gaza Strip.

And why would they want to cut off that relationship?

By serving as Hamas’s chief sponsor since 2006, Iran has won enormous credibility in the Arab world. This credibility has bought Tehran influence with the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and beyond. Particularly now, with the Brotherhood taking over Egypt and much of the Arab world, Iran would only stand to lose by cutting off Hamas.

The second problem with these assessments is that it makes little sense to believe that Turkey has replaced Iran as Hamas’s main state sponsor since Iran and Turkey are not necessarily competing over Hamas. Given the interests shared by Tehran and Ankara, it is far more reasonable to assume that they are coordinating their moves regarding Hamas.

Iran became Hamas’s chief financier and weapons supplier the same year that Erdogan emerged as Hamas’s most important political supporter. And in the six years since then, Iran and Turkey have become strategic allies. Even with regards to Syria, the fact that Assad remains in power today is due in no small measure to the fact that Erdogan has used his influence over Obama to ensure that the US has remained on the sidelines and so effectively supported Assad’s survival.

In light of Erdogan’s enormous influence over leaders in both US parties, it is little wonder that Perry’s factual statement about the nature of the Turkish government and the need for the US to reassess its strategic alliance with Turkey provoked such an across the board outcry. Erdogan’s close relationship with Obama – like his previously close relationship with Rice – renders it well nigh impossible for US government officials and inside-the Beltway “experts” to make the kind of commonsense assessments of Turkey’s counterproductive regional role that an outsider like Perry was able to make from his perch in Austin, Texas.

CONTRARY TO what several leading commentators have argued since the onset of the Syrian popular rebellion against Assad, Hamas has not been seriously damaged by the events. True, its leaders are looking for a new place to station their headquarters. But there is no law that requires terrorist organizations to have one central office. The families of Hamas’s leadership have decamped to Jordan. Hamas leaders have close relations with the Qataris – who remain major funders – as well as with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Sudanese regime.

Hamas Leader - Khaled Mashal

In addition to these state supporters, through its relations with Turkey and Fatah, Hamas has Washington as well. To understand how Washington acts as Hamas’s protector, it is necessary to consider not only the corrosive impact of Washington’s relations with Turkey, but also the nature of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Since its inception in 1993, the peace process has been predicated on Israeli concessions to the Palestinians. To the extent that Israel makes concessions, the peace process is seen as advancing. To the extent that Israel fails to make concessions, the peace process is seen as collapsing. True, at certain times, the Bush administration blamed the Palestinians for the failure of the peace process, but the blame owed to the fact that Palestinian terrorism made Israel less amenable to concession making.

Palestinian terrorism was not in and of itself blamed for the demise of the peace process. Rather it was perceived as the means through which Israel avoided making more concessions. And at certain times, the US supported Israel’s avoidance of concession making.

Since Israeli concessions to the Palestinians are the only tangible component of the peace process, the US, as the chief sponsor of the peace process, requires the Palestinian Authority – run by Fatah – to be accepted as a credible repository for Israeli concessions regardless of its actual nature. Consequently, despite Fatah’s two unity deals with Hamas, its sponsorship of terrorism, its incitement of terrorism, its refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist, its adoption of negotiating positions that presuppose Israel’s demise, and its conduct of political warfare against Israel, neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration ever showed the slightest willingness to consider ending their support for the PA.

If Israel has no peace partner, then it can’t make concessions. And if it can’t make concessions, there is no peace process. And that is something that neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration was willing to countenance.

It is true that under Obama the US has become far more hostile towards Israel than it was under Bush. The most important distinction between the two is that whereas George W. Bush sought to broker a compromise deal between the two sides, Obama has adopted Fatah’s negotiating positions against Israel. As a consequence of Obama’s actions, the peace process has been derailed completely. Fatah has no reason to compromise since the US will blame Israel no matter what. And Israel has no reason to make concessions since the US will deem them insufficient.

Condoleezza Rice and Recip Tayyip Erdogan

Noting this distinction, Washington Post commentator Jennifer Rubin wrote this week that for the benefit of the peace process, it is important for a Republican administration to be elected to replace Obama in November. As she put it, “If history is any guide, progress is made in the ‘peace process’ when the Israeli prime minister operates from a position of strength and has the full support of the US president. We might get there, albeit not until 2013.”

The problem with her analysis is that it is of a piece with the insiders’ attacks on Gingrich and Romney alike. That is, it is based on the false assumptions of the peace process and the generally accepted wisdom embraced by the American foreign policy elite on both sides of the aisle that the PA is a reasonable repository for Israeli concessions.

Here it is worth noting that this week Fatah-controlled PA TV aired a sequence venerating the murderers of the Fogel family. Udi and Ruth Fogel and their children Yoav, Elad and Hadas were brutally murdered in their home last March.

Fatah’s glorification of their murderers is yet further proof that the foundations of the peace process are false. Peace cannot be based on appeasing societies that uphold mass murderers as role models. It can only be based on empowering free societies to defeat societies that embrace murder, terror and in the case of Hamas, genocide.

And this brings us back to the Republican primaries and Gingrich’s and Perry’s statements. For the US to secure its interests in the Middle East, it requires leaders who are willing to reassess what passes for common wisdom on both sides of the aisle.

Latma – Caroline Glick interviewed

We want to break the Leftist monopoly on public discourse in Israel

An Interview with political analyst Caroline Glick

Jewish Press by Sara Lehmann

CarolineGlick.com

Laughter really is the best medicine. Caroline Glick, deputy managing editor of the Jerusalem Post and senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, has found humor and satire to be valuable tools in making the case for a strong Israel. Her latest venture to that end is Latma, the Hebrew-language media satire website Glick created and edits.

Caroline Glick - Deputy Managing Editor of the Jerusalem Post

The non-profit Latma is Glick’s newest platform for her staunchly nationalistic defense of Israel, promoted in her biweekly syndicated columns for the Jerusalem Post and in articles in The Jewish Press, The Wall Street Journal, National Review and Moment magazine, among others. Glick also is a frequent guest on Fox News, MSNBC and Israeli television.

Glick is currently in the U.S. to raise awareness of Latma.

The Jewish Press: How effective has Latma been since you started it?

Glick: I think Latma has been extremely effective since we started it about three years ago. Our goal was to use television and Internet in a new way. We want to break the leftist monopoly on public discourse in Israel. We are using groundbreaking new images through satire and humor to make the non-leftist worldview and the classical Zionist worldview about Israel’s place in the world socially acceptable. It’s been working very, very well – beyond our expectations. Right now we’re negotiating a contract with Channel One on Israel Television to produce our program as a regular prime-time series. If that occurs it will represent a revolutionary change.

Have you detected any tangible effect on public opinion since Latma’s appearance?

Public opinion in Israel is very strange, in the sense that polling data shows the overwhelming majority of Jews in Israel are right-wing, but the policies that government after government enacts are left-wing. The public tends to be quiescent in the face of this, largely because of the media, which makes it seem as though right-wing, nationalist positions are extremist.

The only way to stop this situation is to discredit the left. Subjecting Israel’s icons to ridicule has the effect of empowering the public to speak its mind. I believe the fastest and most effective means is through satire, because the thing about humor is that when you laugh at something, it’s no longer intimidating.

The left’s ability to frighten people into accepting the left’s arguments is diminishing. When Netanyahu went to the United States in May and Obama used the trip to try to force Netanyahu to accept the 1949 armistice lines, there was a very big pushback from the public. The media tried very hard to portray Netanyahu in the wrong, but the public embraced Netanyahu rather than the media’s version of events. At the time, I spoke at a very large demonstration outside the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv and several hundred people flocked to me afterward thanking me for Latma, telling me they never were activists before watching it.

Do you think the recent public embrace of Netanyahu will empower him to move more to the right?

No. Just look at how he capitulated with the Shalit deal. It was [an emotional experience] to see Gilad Shalit, emaciated and traumatized, finally come home. But the deal Netanyahu agreed to is signed with the blood of the past and future victims of the terrorists he let go. The truth is that politicians, wherever they are, are beholden to the elite forces in a society. The elite are generally the media, academia, and whatever version of Hollywood exists in that country, and their beliefs tend to dictate the terms of reference for any politician. The positions of the voters are shunted aside because while they’re known at the ballot box, on a daily basis they’re not heard from.

The people who are heard from are those with the microphone, and in Israel, like in America and Europe, the people with the microphone tend to be on the left.

What we’re trying to do [with Latma] is enact a revolutionary change in Israel as opposed to a gradual change, to replace one elite with another.

Will that goal be thwarted by leftists in Israel who routinely accuse dissenters of having crossed a red line?

There is always the question of where the red line is. The left tries to paint the line very close to the left as opposed to where it should be, which is on the margins of both sides’ spectrums. We do have a problem with expression of free speech. The people who are being silenced, I think completely unacceptably and in an anti-democratic manner, have been demonized.

That’s the problem. The discourse in Israel is so limited that it’s shocking. It’s completely distorted because the only side that really gets to decide what’s going to be discussed is the radical left. So you then have a counterpart which is called the radical right. But the vast majority of Israel is neither radical left nor radical right. The vast majority love the country, want to defend it, don’t want to surrender, don’t want to establish a Palestinian state that’s going to be the death of the country, and don’t want to be beholden to foreign powers, but this view is never expressed.

One of the reasons we have a situation where we are going back time and time again, beating our heads against the wall with this false paradigm of peace on the basis of the establishment of a Palestinian state, is because the left has discounted any alternative policy. Every time we say it doesn’t work, the left always comes back and says, “What’s your alternative?”

Well, the alternative of course is to annex Judea and Samaria, but we haven’t had any discussion of that possible alternative for the past thirty years. It’s been discredited by the left because they don’t want to discuss it. So most Israelis, because we never talk about it, just assume it’s not a possibility. And the reason we end up having these situations where a right-wing government implements left-wing policies is because there is an absence of right-wing policies.

Do you believe a stronger leader than Netanyahu is needed for such a change to occur?

A big problem throughout the Western world, not only in Israel, is that due in large part to the intellectual terror of the left there is a huge leadership crisis. People who actually have the strength of their convictions, the character and moral fiber to stand up for their country, are being marginalized. As a result, the people who end up getting through the vetting process of the elite tend to be without strong convictions. This is the real problem. And the answer I found is that the way to have strong leaders is to have strong people. We have to do the hard work the public demands of leadership and then I believe the leaders we need will emerge or the leaders we have will be strengthened.

Do you think it will take a crisis for that shift to occur more rapidly?

Since 1993, when we allowed the PLO to decamp to the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, we’ve been in continuous crisis. The public has been energized by that and has opened its eyes to the perils of the left-wing agenda, but it hasn’t been sufficient to change the way leaders act once they’re in office. The reason is that while the left’s policy paradigms have been discredited, the leftist elite has not. So you have the same radicals running the court system, running the law enforcement arms of the government; the same sort of homogenization of anyone who wants to rise in the ranks of Israel’s media and entertainment industries. That has to be changed. And I think the way to change that is to discredit those who’ve been immune from criticism – the leftist elite.

The latest Latma song is an optimistic one. Does that reflect your personal opinion or are you more pessimistic about Israel’s current situation?

I really believe Israel will win and that justice is on our side. I have a deep and abiding faith in the Jewish people to stand up for ourselves. We didn’t come to Israel in order to see this country destroyed. We are so close to victory. We have everything going in our favor. Our people are extraordinary, our economy is doing well, our soldiers are brave and trained well. Our enemies are falling apart in front of our faces; their economies are falling apart.

We just have to stand tough and stand up for our rights. Once we do that it’s not going to bring peace forever and ever, but when did the Jewish people ever have such a thing? It could bring peace and security and prosperity for a generation. We have been told for the past generation that we have no right to defend ourselves, that if we stand up for our rights then people are going to hate us, when the exact opposite is true.

We’ve been brainwashed by a left that produces demoralizing pictures of what we can expect from our region and our world, which isn’t based on anything but their own fantasies. We need to expose that. Once we do that, I don’t think there’s anything we can’t accomplish. So I am very optimistic, but I understand the obstacles we have to surmount in order to get to that place are formidable and we will have to use our greatest talents in order to get past them.