Netanyahu Under Attack In Last Ditch Effort To Undermine Israel at U.N.

Benjamin_Netanyahu_Official_portraitTVCELI has been warning legislators in Washington for months as to the potential dangers of an 11th hour stab in the back from the Obama administration.

After altering several NGOs the response was almost universal — nothing to see here.

…until something did happen.

Last week’s debacle at the United Nations was Israel’s 62nd condemnation at the hands of an organization that has failed to condemn pariah states such as North Korea, Iran, or even ISIL as many times.

After learning that the refusal to exercise the U.S. veto was intentional according to Reuters, the reaction from the American press was visceral — and nearly united in defense of Israel and shock at the actions of its outgoing president.  From National Review:

As an initial matter, it is important to state that there is one — and only one — true obstacle to peace in the Middle East: the persistent failure of Israel’s enemies to accept that it has a right to exist, as a Jewish state and within defensible borders. Israel’s enemies sought to exterminate it on the very day of its declaration of independence (when there were no settlements, and the West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands), and they seek to exterminate it still today.

Obama’s 11th hour move came at a time when many Christian families in the United States were preparing to celebrate the Christmas season, and in a not-so-ironic twist, at the very moment when millions of Jews worldwide were preparing to celebrate Hanukkah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who has to date held the title “Leader of the Free World” in the total absence of American leadership — was quick to hold the contrast up in stark relief:

“Whole countries in the Middle East are collapsing, terror is everywhere and for an entire hour the Secretary of State of the United States talks only about the only democracy in the Middle East, a democracy that is one of the only stable places in the entire Middle East,” Netanyahu said.

“We are now celebrating Christmas,” the Israeli PM said. “Maybe Secretary of State John Kerry didn’t see that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where Christians can celebrate Christmas in security and peace and happiness.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli press is warning of worse to come, according to the Times of Israel:

Kerry is quoted as saying that he could present his ideas for a final status solution if the Palestinians pledge they will support the proposed framework. The US officials advised the Palestinians to travel to Riyadh to present the plan to Saudi leaders.

Israel fears that Kerry, who is slated to give a speech Wednesday on the subject, will then lay out his comprehensive vision for two-state solution at a Paris peace conference planned for January. Israel has refused to attend. Israel further fears that this Kerry framework could be enshrined in another UN Security Council resolution.

What has the Israeli government so concerned?  Rumors of an American-brokered but UN enforced peace deal are emerging, one that has Israels neighbors working in concert to impose an Arab “peace” on the Jewish State:

The Egyptian report fits with Israeli claims that it had received “ironclad” information from Arab sources that Washington actively helped craft last week’s UN resolution declaring Israeli settlements illegal.

“We have ironclad information that emanates from sources in the Arab world and that shows the Obama administration helped craft this resolution and pushed hard for its eventual passage,” said David Keyes, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli government has been alarmed at such reports for months.  The U.S. State Department and Secretary John Kerry have adamantly denied there to be any truth to these allegations… that is, right up until the first extension of “good faith” — the condemnation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank — had mystically manifested itself to be ironclad fact.

TVCELI will be monitoring these developments over the course of the next few weeks.

 

 

Iran Admits That Islam has a Violence Problem – But Will They Act to Stop It?

They say acceptance is the first step in rehabilitation, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged in remarks at a press conference in Tehran today that Islam has a violence problem.  On the face of it, such a statement seems like a step in the right direction:

He voiced concern that damage was being done to Islam’s reputation by the violence in its heartlands, and urged all Islamic nations in the region to stop the ‘violence, terror and massacres’.

This being Iran, though, there was another agenda at work.  Its greatest rivals in the region are not America or Britain, but Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, and Rouhani implied that they are to blame for much of the violence he spoke of:

Hassan_Rouhani

‘How many bombs and missiles have you purchased from America this year?’ Mr Rouhani asked. ‘If you had distributed the money for those bombs and missiles among poor Muslims, nobody would be going to bed hungry.’

Nevermind that Iran itself is the world’s most notorious sponsor of terrorism, having long supported violent anti-Israel groups such as Hezbollah.  Its policy toward Israel is itself violent and unchanging.

Iran’s recent efforts to prop up the regime of Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad made Rouhani look especially hypocritical when discussing his purported sorrow at seeing Muslim children flee places such as Syria for the safety and security of non-Muslim countries.  After all, a senior Iranian general was killed two months ago in Syria while helping organize government forces.

These children Rouhani spoke of wouldn’t have to flee their homes if Iran wasn’t so desperate to keep its violent ally in power, and Islam wouldn’t have such a violence problem if Iran wasn’t so consumed by hatred for our Israeli allies.  It is nice to see some kind of acknowledgement of how Islam has come to be defined by its terrorists, but unless Iran recognizes it own responsibility for this happen, change is unlikely.

Islamic Terrorism Isn’t Just Big Attacks in Big Cities

With the recent shooting of dozens of people in southern California, ISIS has made its debut in America.  There remain a great many details to be sorted out, but news has emerged that one of the attackers pledged her allegiance to the terrorist organization on social media before conducting the attacks.

The Eiffel Tower lit up in the French colors after the Nov. 13 attacks (Divulgação Prefeitura de Paris)

Before this attack, terrorism was understandably defined for many Americans as something resembling 9/11 – a major attack on a major city, and one designed to draw the world’s attention in the most bloody way possible.  This concept was reinforced by what happened only last month on the streets of Paris, when a large team of terrorists launched numerous coordinated attacks on targets ranging from a high-profile soccer match to restaurants and a Jewish-owned concert hall.

But as the San Bernardino shootings have tragically reminded us, Islamic terrorism is much more than big attacks in big cities.  While there is something important in the symbolism of attacking a capital city, not every terrorist or organization is capable of such a plan.  The result is a variety of threats which go beyond 9/11, the Paris attacks, or the London transit bombings of 2005.

The shootings in California appear to be the work of one married couple – not a network of trained jihadists.  Two people would never be able to hijack planes or spread out across an entire city, but they can create a similar effect from shooting people in a single building.  If we forget about these smaller attacks, then we will be leaving our communities in unnecessary danger.

When ISIS struck Paris, it was the largest terrorist attack in Europe in over a decade.  In the meantime, terrorists from various Islamist organizations had conducted fatal attacks in Germany, Belgium, Bulgaria, Sweden, and two other cities in France.  It is ture that the death toll from these smaller attacks is far fewer than for those in major cities, and these kind of attacks may become harder to pull off as Americans become more vigilant.  But as terrorists increasingly try to strike America and spread fear throughout our communities, the pattern in Europe of hitting smaller targets may be repeated here.

 

Instead of Defunding Planned Parenthood, Maine is Suing A Pro-Life Activist

This past year has seen a series of revelations about Planned Parenthood, as a number of videos showed its employees discussing the still-beating hearts of aborted children and joking about “wanting a Lamborghini” while selling the body parts of those same children.  The result has been a national conversation on America’s largest abortion provider and increased scrutiny of many of its activities.

Maine Attorney General Janet Mills (D)
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills (D)

In some states, it has also led to a push to defund the organization.  The results have been mixed, as there are some surprisingly difficult legal obstacles to making defunding a reality, leaders have stepped up in places such as Louisiana and Texas to try and make something work.  Other states have conducted investigations into the organization, and in many places, those efforts are still continuing.

But in Maine, something else is happening – instead of limiting the actions of those conducting abortions, state leaders are limiting the right of ordinary citizens and Christians to protest it.  Brian Ingalls, a 26-year old man from the state, is facing a lawsuit from the state’s own Attorney General after he was removed from public property outside a Planned Parenthood location for expressing his pro-life views.  There is some dispute about how loud Ingalls was being, but no dispute about where he was standing or what he was standing for.

The Washington Post gets into the details:

Erin Kuenzig, trial counsel for Thomas More Law Center, which is representing Ingalls, said her client was with his wife and baby “preaching from the Bible.” She said when police told him to quiet down, he did — but that Planned Parenthood called in another complaint anyway.

“Planned Parenthood didn’t like what this young Christian was saying,” Kuenzig told The Post.

Fortunately, as the above quote shows Ingalls has legal representation and will be fighting this lawsuit.  Yet it is still disturbing to see a state more worried about the volume level of those defending life than stopping the people engaged in the abhorrent practice of ending it.

New Survey Shows (Again) that Americans are Still Believers

It is easy to go through a pile of numbers and draw any conclusion you want, and the latest national survey on religion from the Pew Research Center will inevitably allow people to do just that.  But when you look at the bottom line, one basic facts is clear: most Americans believe.

Not only do they believe, but a majority of Americans pray every single day.  An overwhelming majority – almost 90% – believe religious organizations bring us together, strengthen community bonds, and play an important role in helping the poor and needy.

logo_pew72

It must be said that the report is not all good news, as those who believe have become less likely to attend worship services regularly.  But that does not mean they have abandoned their faith – believers have actually become more likely to read scripture, participate in small prayer or study groups, and share their faith directly with others over the past few years.

Support has also grown for the idea that faith should “preserve traditional beliefs and practices.”  Overall, the evangelical movement is particularly strong, growing steadily to a membership of over 62 million people.

It is true that belief in America will change, as everything does, particularly in terms of how and where it is expressed.  There is certainly a part of the media that would love for America to abandon religion completely – and probably start worshiping them instead – but the fact religion is changing in America does not mean it is becoming any less vital or any less important to what makes our nation special.

 

Reporter Kicked Off Campus for Asking About Liberal Bias

When the student paper at Cornell University wrote a story showing how 96% of political donations from professors went to Democrats, you would think the administration would be concerned with this lack of intellectual diversity.   After all, it’s impossible for students to learn about the full range of viewpoints available when virtually all their professors share the same one.

The school actually did the exact opposite – when a reporter came to the school to ask about the story, they promptly kicked him off campus.  They also refused to explain why.  The motivation seems clear enough, though: to avoid being accountable for creating a one-sided atmosphere.

Cornell_logo

The school is a private one, so it has the right to kick someone off, but a college which chooses to ban speech in this way cannot seriously hold itself up as a place of higher learning.  One professor interviewed by the student paper, who also served as a vice provost in the administration for four years, summed up the impact:

“[I was] concerned that there were not enough conservative voices in the faculty… a lot of the time conservative professors don’t want to work here.”

Every one of the 13 separate colleges at Cornell showed the same bias, from engineering to arts and sciences.  The Cornell Sun story quoted multiple students whose professors often inserted their personal political views into class and acted dismissively toward opposing ideas instead of fostering discussion of them.

The school has offered no further explanation on its decision for this bias or its to kick the reporter off campus who was asking students about it.  The TV news segment where the reporter was kicked off can be seen here:

Should America Still Shoot Deserters?

It says a lot about the American military that Bowe Bergdahl is the only notable example of a soldier deserting his unit despite over 14 years of tough fighting in Afghanistan.  For those not familiar with him, Bergdahl walked off his base in 2009 due to dissatisfaction with his leadership.  This idea turned out to be just as stupid as it sounds, and he was quickly captured by the Taliban and held for five years.

Because nobody abandons their post anymore, there isn’t much recent precedent about how to punish somebody that does.  Only one soldier has been executed for desertion since the Civil War, and that decision was made in part to stop others from deserting.  Thanks to the professionalism of the U.S. Army, that isn’t a problem now.

PFC Bergdahl abandoned his unit in 2009

But that doesn’t mean deserting can just be ignored.  Somehow, the military commission in charge of Bergdahl’s case seems ready to do that:

In a memorandum dated Friday, the legal team said it agreed with Lt. Col. Mark Visger’s conclusion that their client be referred to a special court-martial and receive neither jail time nor a punitive [dishonorable] discharge.

The recommendation, which hasn’t been announced publicly by the U.S. military, is a significant development for Bergdahl, who in March was charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

This decision is ridiculous.  There is still one level of review left, so the Army may come to its senses.  But it is an insult to even suggest that someone who abandons their post in wartime should just be released.  He deserves a dishonorable discharge and a jail sentence at a minimum – and he should feel very fortunate if that’s all that happens to him.  Nobody made him join the Army, and nobody should feel sorry for him if he received the traditional punishment for traitors – a bullet – instead of a plane ticket home.

This hesitancy to punish one of the worst crimes a soldier can commit against his country is a prime example of the kind of fundamental weakening of America we have seen under the Obama administration.  Make no mistake: our enemies notice this kind of decision, and it makes them bolder about fighting our troops and attacking our interests overseas.  No commander should enjoy punishing a soldier, but a good commander knows it is sometimes necessary.  It will be a worrying sign if all the punishment Bowe Bergdahl receives is being kicked out of the same Army he voluntarily abandoned when it needed him.

Recognizing the Heroism of Brave Christians in Syria

There has been a lot of discussion recently about religious freedom in America, and for good reason – the courts and bureaucrats deep in government have been chipping away at that freedom.  But today we ask you to reflect on the sacrifices of Christians halfway around the world, including 12 brave souls who stood up for the freedom to believe in Jesus and were brutally killed for it.

These missionaries were from Syria.  Even as civil war spread across that country, they insisted on staying in their homeland, and they insisted on bringing the word of Christ to those trapped by the violence.

The black flag of ISIS
The black flag of ISIS

Christian Aid Mission describes the situation:

‘Every time we talked to them,’ the director said, ‘they were always saying, ‘We want to stay here – this is what God has told us to do. This is what we want to do.’ They just wanted to stay and share the gospel.’

These missionaries knew ISIS militants were approaching the town where they lived and worked, but they refused to flee the terrorists, believing the work of sharing Christ to be too important to abandon.

They were soon captured by ISIS forces and given a chance to renounce Christianity and spare their own lives.  Instead they prayed publically in the name of the Jesus, continuing to follow a peaceful path until the terrorists beheaded and crucified them in front of the entire town.

This is reality of terrorism – and the danger it poses both to America and Christians everywhere.  As we continue to fight to uphold our values, I ask that you join us in taking a moment to appreciate the sacrifice of these missionaries and all those who risk their lives in the name of the Lord.

House Bill Makes Iran Re-pay Terror Victims Before Sanctions Lifted

The fight against the Iran nuclear deal is continuing, this time with a bill in Congress which would make the current Iranian regime – the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism – pay back the families of its American victims before any sanctions on it were lifted.

The explosion of the Marine Corps building in Beirut, Lebanon, created a large cloud of smoke that was visible from miles away.
The bombing created a cloud of smoke visible from miles away.

The bill was introduced by Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), and is known as the Justice for Victims of Iranian Terrorism Act (or H.R 3457).  It requires Iran to pay over $40 billion in court judgments, most of which comes from lawsuits brought in connection to the 1983 bombing of a Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon.  The bombing, which killed 241 servicemen, was the deadliest day for the U.S. Marine Corps since the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

American investigations found terrorists backed by Iran and Syria were likely responsible, and one terrorist leader was indicted in federal court.  But instead of going to court, that terrorist leader went on to join Hezbollah – a group dedicated to the destruction of Israel and consistently backed by Iran.  And Iran has never admitted responsibility or paid a dime to the victims of the horrific attack.

In passing this bill, House Republicans finally voted to change that.  The bill declares that “the President may not waive, suspend, reduce, provide relief from, or otherwise limit” sanctions” until he has “certified to the Congress that the Government of Iran has paid each judgment against Iran.”

President Obama, predictably, opposes this accountability for sponsors of terror.

Fierce Criticism of the Iran Deal at UN by Netanyahu

More than 150 world leaders are gathered in New York this week at a meeting of the United Nations. Most of the press attention went to Vladimir Putin attending the meeting for the first time in a decade – until today, when Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called out the array of presidents and prime ministers for accepting an Iran deal which is woefully insufficient to guarantee the safety of his country or the world at large.  It was a remarkable display of leadership, and one our current administration could learn a lot from.

Prime Minister Netanyahu

On a day where two Israelis were murdered while driving their family through the West Bank, Netanyahu addressed the existential threat that Iran poses both as a nation chasing nuclear weapons and as a sponsor of organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah.

Netanyahu specifically noted the financial windfall Iran will receive from the deal and the inevitable home for that money – terrorism.  The total monetary benefit for the Iranian regime is unknown, but as the Israeli leader noted, it will be more than enough to continue undermining the stability in the world’s most volatile region:

This deal doesn’t make peace more likely. By fueling Iran’s aggressions with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, it makes war likely.

Unleashed and unmuzzled, Iran will go on the prowl, devouring more and more prey… You think hundreds of billions of dollars in sanctions relief and fat contracts will turn this rapacious tiger into a kitten?”

For all its passion, though, the speech was careful in its approach to America.  After weeks of strong disagreement with the Obama administration, Netanyahu was careful to keep disagreeing without risking the relationship, lauding America as a long-standing Israeli ally and saying any differences were “within the family.”

Netanyahu’s speech to the United Nations can be watched below: