Jordanians were jumping in joy Friday morning, when they heard their team had just won its first official Olympic medal ever, and it is gold to boot. The winner was a 20-year-old business student named Ahmad Abu Ghaush, who took the gold in the 65 kg Taekwondo event, after beating Russia’s Alexey Denisenko 10-6 in the Rio Olympics.
The Abu Ghaush family immigrated to Jordan from the Israeli Arab village of Abu Ghaush, located on the main highway to Jerusalem.
The Korean martial art Taekwondo was developed in the 1940s and 1950s by martial artists who incorporated elements of Karate and Chinese martial arts. Since 2000, taekwondo has been one of only two Asian martial arts (along with judo) that are included in the Olympic Games.
A Royal Court statement Friday said His Majesty King Abdullah called the champion after the game to express his “happiness with the distinguished sports achievement, congratulating Abu Ghaush for the historic victory that raised the name of Jordan high in the Olympic games.” Also, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Hussein called to congratulate the champion. And Her Majesty Queen Rania “took to social media to share with Jordanians her joy for the achievement.”
The gold winner also received congratulatory calls from HRH Prince Feisal, president of the Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC), HRH Prince Hassan, president of the Higher Council for Self-Defense Sports and HRH Prince Rashid, president of the Jordanian Taekwondo Federation.
“I can’t believe it,” Abu Ghaush told the JOC News Service. “I dedicate this medal to His Majesty King Abdullah II and all the people of Jordan. This is for you.”
At the local council of Abu Ghaush they were also delighted to hear about the great achievement of their wayward cousin. “He brought great honor to the family, to his parents, and to himself, and it makes us very happy,” council head Issa Jaber told Israel Channel 2 News. “We hope someone living in Abu Ghaush today will reach a similar achievement.”
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday gave a foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, outlining his plan to fight terrorism. Addressing the large crowd (as usual), Trump opened, “Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again. In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
The candidate cited a very long list of terrorist attacks against individual Western targets (Paris, Brussels, Orlando), as well as a more generalized but no less forceful depiction of attacks on Muslims: “Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another. … We cannot let this evil continue.”
Trump promised, “We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.” He then threw a jab at both president Obama and Democratic presidential Candidate Clinton, saying, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country.”
This led to a Trump analysis of how President Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton are to blame for the current alarming state of events. He blamed them for policies that led to the creation of ISIS, saying, “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour.’”
Remarkably, Trump omitted eight whole years in which the US was attacked by a different group of Islamic radicals, and the fact that then President GW Bush retaliated by invading a country that had nothing to do with that attack, inflicting chaos on Iraq and taking out the one fierce regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein. According to Trump, none of those eight bloody years of a Bush war had anything to do with the creation of ISIS (which took place in 2004) — it all began with “a series of speeches,” in which “President Obama described America as ‘arrogant,’ ‘dismissive,’ ‘derisive,’ and a ‘colonial power.'”
“Perhaps no speech was more misguided than President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009,” Trump said Monday night. Of course, the Obama Al Azhar University speech did launch a bizarre foreign policy that punished America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Even if one were not pro-Israel, one would have to wonder what drove that disastrous foreign policy. But the Obama speech did not instigate the catastrophic failure of US policy in the Middle East, it only picked up Obama’s predecessor’s very bad situation and made it worse.
Trump believes that “the failure to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal, surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS.” But in eight miserable years, having spent trillions of borrowed dollars our grandchildren and their grandchildren after them will continue to pay for, there were no US gains in Iraq — which is why when Obama honored the Bush agreement with the Iraqi government and withdrew some of the US forces, the whole thing came tumbling down.
Trump blames Hillary Clinton for destabilizing Libya, a claim supported by many, including President Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He also added a jab at the Clintons, saying, “Yet, as she threw the Middle East into violent turmoil, things turned out well for her. The Clintons made almost $60 million in gross income while she was Secretary of State.” It’s factually true, but the implied moral outrage is hard to accept with a straight face, seeing as it came from a man who prided himself on turning homeowners’ misery into a hefty profit for himself during the housing crisis of 2008.
After much more of the candidate’s unique view on US foreign policy and the causes for rise of terrorism, Trump finally cut to the chase.
“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended,” he said. “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. … As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President [Al] Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”
Trump added to the list of his envisioned coalition partners the NATO countries, explaining that although he “had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”
He also wants Russia to participate, clearly despite its dubious new alliance with both Iran and Turkey that threatens the very presence of US troops in that part of the region.
On this point, the Trump vision looks an awful lot like the current Administration’s policy on fighting ISIS: “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”
So far so good, but then Trump suggested “we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”
Trump then depicted his opponent as contributing to the repression of Muslim gays and women, promising his “Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”
At which point one must ask if the candidate is relying on expert advise on the Middle East. Because while he is absolutely right in condemning the cruelty and repression that have been the reality in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Morocco, his idea of promoting an American foreign policy of “speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings” and against the myriad other acts of unimaginable violence against women, his ideas that to defeat Islamic terrorism, the US must “speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow” is shockingly sophomoric. Surely Trump knows that these attempts are a recipe for a far worse disaster than the one brought on by the Obama Al Azhar speech.
At this point, Trump turned to an area with which he is more familiar, the need for a new immigration policy. “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” the candidate declared, adding that “the time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said, explaining that “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.”
Easier said than done, of course, because it’s naturally difficult to discern what lurks inside the mind of any person, immigrants included. Trump’s solution is, to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”
“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” It should be interesting to gauge the response of, say, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, to the news that no more cash-laden Arab oil sheiks would be allowed to visit Vegas under a Trump Administration.
“Finally, we will need to restore common sense to our security procedures,” Trump declared, listing several notorious murders committed by Muslims on US soil, noting that in each case there had been warning signs that were overlooked by the authorities.
“These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society,” Trump stated flatly, adding, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam. … The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”
“This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners,” Trump said, essentially suggesting legitimizing the police profiling that has been so vilified in the media and by many politicians. He also promised to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open (although Obama has just released fifteen of its inmates). He wants additional staff to Intelligence agencies and will keep drone strikes against terrorist leaders as part of his options. He also wants military trials for foreign enemy combatants.
In conclusion, there was absolutely no new policy idea in the Trump speech on foreign policy Monday night, but there was an implied, if mostly unspoken promise, to encourage all levels of law enforcement to be less restrained in pursuing their targets. In fact, across the board, what Trump was offering Monday night were not so much new ideas as the promise of taking existing ideas to a new level of dedication in their execution. It could mean a wider loss of individual civil rights, and serious economic hardship for US industries that cater to any aspect of immigration, and it could also end up with the alienation of both European and Mid-Eastern countries who would not take kindly to Trump’s promised level of fierceness, and would retaliate.
It should be noted in that context, that after having spoken bluntly about extreme security measures that could harm specific ethnic and religious groups, Trump attempted to soften his own tone with a final paragraph that promised: “As your President … I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people. — Only this way, will we make America Great Again and Safe Again – For Everyone.”
Like him or hate him, Donald Trump remains the champion of cognitive dissonance.
A new group of 235 immigrants from Ukraine landed this week at Ben Gurion Internation Airport. Many of them arrived still badly traumatized from their experiences over the past two years in war-torn areas of the former Soviet satellite.
Many have been homeless, wandering from town to town, ducking bullets and praying for safety. More than a few have found themselves in the middle of what is known as the “The Republic of Luhansk”, a separatist state established in eastern Ukraine by Pro-Russian separatist forces. It is now a battlefield between the two factions.
The new Israelis made the trip with special assistance from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The organization is helping the new immigrants with grants of $1,000 for every adult and $500 per children. The group also paid for each new immigrant’s flight to Israel.
The flight was one of 28 that was arranged by the IFCJ in the past three months in order to bring new immigrants to Israel. On those flights were more than 4,000 new olim who came home to the Jewish State from places like Ukraine, France, South America and elsewhere.
The assistance came in additition to the regular benefits package provided to new immigrants by the State of Israel Ministry of Immigration and Absorption.
The youngest of the new olim is only six months old, and the oldest is age 95. They are set to live in 30 different cities across Israel, including Nahariya, Haifa, Netanya, Afula, Bat Yam, and Eilat.
The past 15 years have seen a significant decline in crime committed by immigrant youth – from 23% of all minors involved in crime in 2001, to only 6% in 2013, this according to a study commissioned by the Yedidim social services organization. These figures were revealed during Monday’s meeting of the Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, and Committee Chairman MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) stressed that “in light of the success of the organization’s ‘A Second Chance (Sikuim)’ program, the Education, Welfare, Immigrant Absorption and Public Security ministries must significantly increase their support for the program, mainly because rehabilitation and prevention save the state hundreds of thousands of shekels.”
Neguise noted that some 30% of imprisoned immigrant teenagers are of Ethiopian descent. Many of them have been to prison before, he said.
Yedidim’s website describes the second chance program as “a strategic partnership between the Ministry of Immigrant Integration, the police, the Ministry of Welfare, local municipalities and Yedidim designed to offer [immigrant juvenile delinquents] an opportunity for a fresh start and a clean slate.”
Yedidim Executive Director Shimon Siani said the program is aimed at “saving children and their families from a general deterioration.”
Professor David Leiser of Ben-Gurion University, who conducted the study, noted that for every shekel the state invests in preventing delinquency or rehabilitating a juvenile delinquent, it will save 5-10 shekels in the future by avoiding the delinquent’s imprisonment, compensating those hurt by the delinquent, etc.
Adva Meltzer, a social worker in charge of the program, spoke about the rehabilitation of 620 youths with the help of 400 tutors who are in charge of re-integrating the youths in the community. The tutors volunteer and assist weaker communities, provide life-skills and accompany parents, with an emphasis on multiculturalism.
Ilan Shemesh, manager of the National Youth Advancement department in the Ministry of Education, also praised the program, its success and the student-tutor guidance. However, he said his office grants only a modest amount of funds for the program. This is not the case in the instances of imprisoned youth, youth villages and rehab villages, in which the office invests hundreds of millions of shekels, and as a result many of the youths enrolled there complete their education and are entitled to a high school matriculation exam certificate.
According to Sarah Cohen, head of the Welfare Services Department at the Absorption Ministry, the program began as an initiative of the government, which manages it. She explained that Yedidim was chosen as an operational organization, and “does so successfully and with dedication.” She noted that the Ministry for the Development of the Negev and Galilee assisted in funding the program in other cities.
Jerusalem (TPS) – While most eyes have been on Avigdor Liberman being appointed as Defense Minister, another new minister from the Yisrael Beiteinu party was sworn into office on Tuesday afternoon in the Knesset. Incoming Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver, an Olah (immigrant) from Russia, has now returned to the office she headed between 2009 and 2015 and will be in charge of successfully integrating Israel’s many immigrants into society.
Sofa Landver, 66, was born in Leningrad in the Soviet Union (today Saint Petersburg, Russia) and moved to Israel in 1979. After serving in the Ashdod city council and in the Jewish Agency, she was elected as Knesset member for the Labor party in 1996 – the first former Soviet citizen to become a member of the Israeli parliament.
She was a Labor MK until the elections in 2003 when she lost her seat in the parliament. But in 2006 Landver made a significant political shift by leaving the left-wing Labor party and becoming a Knesset member for the right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party headed by Avigdor Liberman, another immigrant from the former Soviet Union.
After the last elections in March 2015 Landver was forced to leave her office when her party did not join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition. Ze’ev Elkin, also originally from the Soviet Union, replaced her for one year until Liberman rejoined Netanyahu’s government last week.
Perceptions of Islam have turned more negative over the past few years. Today, 56% of Americans agree that the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life, while 41% disagree. Opinion on Islam’s compatibility with American values varies greatly by religious beliefs. 73% of white evangelical Protestants believe Islam is at odds with American values, compared with 63% of white mainline Protestants, 55% of black Protestants, 61% of Catholics and 41% of the religiously unaffiliated. In 2011, Americans were still about evenly divided in their views of Islam: 47% agreed, 48% disagreed it was at odds with American values.
With less than one year to go until the 2016 general election, the mood of the American people is marked by anxiety and mistrust, concludes the PRRI poll: more than 72% believe that the country is still in a recession, as they did in 2014. Americans are divided down the middle, 49-49% on whether America’s best days are ahead of us or behind them. They are pessimistic and anxious about crime, racial tensions, and immigration.
And they don’t trust Muslims. More than 60% of white Protestants and Catholics, 55% of African-American Protestants, and 56% of Americans overall see a split between American and Muslim values, up from 47% in 2011 and 2014.
The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) conducted the 2015 American Values Survey among 2,695 Americans between September 11 and October 4, 2015. It measures public opinion about the economy, racial discrimination, the criminal justice system, trust in public institutions, perception of the Tea Party, the relationship between religious affiliation and political attitudes, views of immigrants, and how demographic changes impact the cultural landscape in the country.
Compared with a few years ago, Americans report less tolerance when encountering non-English speaking immigrants. 48% of Americans say they are bothered when they come into contact with immigrants who speak little or no English, compared with 40% in 2012. 63% of white working-class Americans say they feel bothered when they come into contact with immigrants who do not speak English, compared with 43% of white college-educated Americans.
73% of Donald Trump’s supporters say they are bothered by encounters with immigrants who speak little English. 69% of Trump supporters rate immigration as a critical issue to them personally, compared with only 50% of supporters of other Republican candidates.
The survey Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish between September 11 and October 4, 2015 among a random sample of 2,695 U.S. adults (age 18 and up). Interviews were conducted both online and by telephone. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2.6% at the 95% level of confidence.
An older Jewish woman who recently immigrated to Israel from the United States on aliyah was attacked when she made her first trip to the Temple Mount this week.
Brenda Rubin, a resident of Jerusalem, was a new Israeli for seven months when she was punched in the ribs Tuesday morning by a burka-clad Muslim woman.
Because the attacker was wearing a burka, as were those around her, security personnel obviously knew it would be impossible to identify with certainty who the attacker had been — possibly a factor in the planning of the Arab harassment campaign in the first place.
“It was my first time on the Mount and it was a very important thing for me,” she said. “This woman in black came in between our lines and gave me a big punch under my rib on my side that I’m still feeling.”
When Rubin reported the attack to a police officer immediately after, he brusquely told her to “file a complaint” (at the nearby police station – after leaving the Temple Mount.)
He took no further action, even though the group of burka-clad Muslim women from which her attacker emerged was still standing nearby, harassing a small group of Jews.
“I feel like, we came to Israel, this is our Land, we didn’t come here to be shivering Jews,” Rubin said in a taped interview afterwards. “It’s really painful that somebody could feel they could come and use the name of God to come and hurt us.”
According to a Facebook post by The Temple Institute, “Muslim women are paid a daily stipend by the Muslim Brotherhood (Hamas) to be present on the Temple Mount during the hours that Jews are allowed on the Mount, and to verbally and physically harass the Jewish worshipers from the moment they enter the Mount to the moment they exit the Mount.
“The Israel police, following strict orders, do nothing to prevent the attacks nor intervene once the attacks have occurred, (due to government fear of offending the Muslims).”
The Temple Mount is the holiest site on earth in Judaism, and the third holiest site in Islam. Nevertheless, the Israeli government has allowed Jordan to govern the site via the Islamic Waqf Authority. Jews are regularly mistreated at the site and sometimes attacked; often they are denied access to the site altogether, despite legal rights to the contrary.
Rubin, who still feels pain in her side, added, “I would like the people who feel that there is some commonality, to come [to the Mount] and walk around on some morning and see… how we’re being harassed – and that’s very disturbing.”
A text at the end of the videotaped interview states in Hebrew: “This time, the blow came as a punch; but the next time could be a knife.”