Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to meet with the presidential candidates from both political parties in the United States on Sunday, following his meeting last Wednesday with U.S. President Barack Obama.
He’ll meet first with GOP candidate Donald Trump, and then with Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, according to a source in the prime minister’s office (PMO).
“The meeting was first agreed to with the Trump people, and then we immediately reached out to the Clinton camp for balance,” said a PMO source.
Netanyahu has said he has no intention to get in the middle of the electoral campaign in any way. Four years ago, he was severely criticized for what appeared to be his perceived support of GOP candidate Mitt Romney, an old friend who visited Jerusalem during the campaign and discussed Obama’s foreign policies.
Not so the New York Times, whose editorial board on Saturday endorsed Clinton for president in a pointed article in which the paper’s management said bluntly, “In any normal election year, we’d compare the two presidential candidates side by side on the issues. But this is not a normal election year.”
The Times went on to list what it considers her finest moments and achievements, among them, “efforts to strengthen sanctions against Iran, which eventually pushed it to the table for talks over its nuclear program, and in 2012, she helped negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.”
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 look at the national, and state-by-state polls over the week since the Democratic convention reveals a devastating picture for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, with his opponent leading him by an average of 7 points, but in some polls reaching double digits, and going as high as 15 points. The Republican party is in a panic, obviously, with some suggesting it’s not too late to ask the candidate to bow out humbly and let another take his place. These Republicans have already given up on a chance to take the White House and are concentrating instead on retaining at least one of the two legislative houses. The rule of thumb in American politics is, apparently, that in states where the presidential candidate wins by a certain margin (8 points has been suggested as the accepted mark), he or she also sweep into office their party senators and congress members.
Even candidate Trump seems to have been injured by his campaign’s terrible numbers, because he started accusing a rigged election system in his projected loss come November. But at the same time Trump has been predicting a big victory for his side, and while the general media have treated this statement as just one more case of Trump unruly bravado, he just might know what he’s talking about.
Last Friday the website FiveThirtyEight released a Trump campaign memo from before the start of the RNC primaries, revealing an unorthodox strategy of going after unlikely voters in the primaries, people who rarely if ever participate in elections. The memo charted a campaign that relied on free media, using Trump’s controversial TV appearances, unmatched in media attention by any of his opponents, to bring in those irregular voters.
The memo suggests that Trump’s voters are Americans who are in a “persistent state of disenfranchisement,” and recommends pursuing them, leaving Trump’s opponents to fight over “the same heavily tilled soil” of likely voters. “An unprecedented targeting strategy must be in sync with this unprecedented campaign,” the memo concluded.
Looking back, it appears that this strategy was ingenious, resulting in candidate Trump filling up stadiums with newcomers to the Republican party who were there to answer his call — much the way candidate Obama back in 2008 brought in Black voters who otherwise would not have trusted the system enough to vote.
The Trump strategy worked to deliver him the nomination, so why is he dropping like a stone in the polls? The answer to that question can possibly be found in the mother of all polling failure stories, the 1936 Literary Digest straw poll that predicted a landslide victory for GOP candidate Alf Landon over Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with 57 percent of the vote. Why did the Digest fail, after having predicted correctly every presidential election from 1920 to 1932? The reason was that the Digest polled about 2 million people, whose name were gotten from lists of magazine subscribers, car owners and telephone customers—people who had money during the Depression, and who were outvoted by people who did not have any of the above.
The closer polling services get to November, the more they prefer to draw their random samples from likely voters rather than mere registered voters. Registered voters, according to Gallup, are people who in response to a standard poll question say they are “registered to vote in their precinct or election district.” This is the group whose data Gallup reports most often because they represent an estimate of Americans who in theory are eligible to vote and could vote if they want to.
Gallup established the rules of the polling game back in the same 1936 election, when their use of a random sample of 50,000 Americans yielded the correct prediction of a Roosevelt victory — so it’s safe to assume that most polling services adhere to the same guidelines, more or less.
But Gallup and other surveys know that in the final analysis, not all of these registered voters will actually vote. In fact, only a little more than half of eligible American voters actually show up come election day. And so Gallup has created systems to delineate the likely voters — lists of individuals who are most likely to actually vote, to provide more reliable predictions.
And herein lies the possibility that Gallup and everyone else in the polling business have been overlooking Trump’s voters. If we presume that the Trump victory relied on an untapped segment of the population, what can we expect to be some of this group’s common denominators?
They are white, they feel ignored by the system, they mistrust politicians and the media.
In determining the likelihood of a respondent showing up to vote, Gallup and other services have developed a list of questions for which they give the respondent one point for each positive answer:
1. Thinking about the election (quite a lot, some) 2. Know where in the neighborhood to go to vote (yes) 3. Voted in election precinct before (yes) 4. How often have they voted before (always, nearly always) 5. Plan to vote in 2016 election (yes) 6, Likelihood of voting on a 10-point scale (7-10) 7. Voted in last presidential election (yes)
Let’s assume that a Trump voter gets the call from Gallup and decides to answer the above questions truthfully (it’s always possible that they would decide to fool the pollster, as an act against the hostile media — Israel experienced more than one such case in which polls failed to predict a rightwing victory because rightwing voters lied to pollsters whom they viewed as representing a leftwing media elite).
The Trump voter answering truthfully may answer No to Questions 2, 3, 4, and 7, thus scoring only 3 points and being discarded as unlikely to vote. So that while the bulk of Trump’s outsiders remain under the polling radar, come November they would all show up at the polling stations and possibly give their candidate his unlikely victory.
Finally, some in the rightwing media (Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren comes to mind) have suggested there may be a phenomenon of pro-Trump respondents feeling ashamed of revealing to a stranger, an educated pollster, that they support a man who is vilified by almost every media outlet in the land, the brunt of jokes, a boob, even a potential traitor (called on President Putin to hack into a US party’s computers). They may vote for him in November, but they may be uncomfortable admitting it.
It should be noted that in most of the polls where she is beating Trump by significant margins, Hillary Clinton rarely receives more than 45% of the votes, and that consequently in every such poll, Trump’s votes plus the “I don’t know” votes add up to more than the Democrat’s numbers. With fewer than 55% of Americans normally voting in presidential elections (in midterm elections the figures plummet well below that), all Trump needs is to bring in five to ten percent of the voters who have never gone to the polls before.
Reporter Byron Tau tweeted Wednesday morning that “protesters are burning an Israeli flag now in front of the secure perimeter and chanting ‘intifada.'”
As can be seen in video snippets that are being uploaded on Facebook and YouTube, a woman whose face was covered in a black bandanna, Hamas fashion, set an Israeli flag on fire amidst a group of protesters outside of the cordoned Wells Fargo arena in Philadelphia. A person standing next to her was waving a Palestinian flag. There were reports of protesters burning the American flag as well.
The protesters are Senator Bernie Sanders supporters who have not heeded their own champion’s call to join the DNC in supporting the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton against their common enemy, GOP candidate Donald Trump.
More than 50 protesters were detained on Monday following a demonstration outside the Wells Fargo Center by activists from Democracy Spring. Police issued the detainees citations for disorderly conduct,
Sanders activist Jocelyn Macurdy Keatts told CNN she supports the Democracy Spring “very coherent” set of demands. “There seems to be legislative leverage here,” she said, adding, “The Democrats are already moving further to the left to accommodate Bernie supporters.”
It should be noted in this context, that during the writing of the DNC platform, Sanders fielded five rabid anti-Israel proxies who tried to enter anti “occupation” language into the platform, and they were blocked firmly by the majority of the platform committee: five Clinton proxies and four proxies appointed by then DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Congresswoman Wasserman-Schultz has been maligned this week and forced to resign her post, but it should be remembered that in the DNC she is one of the most consistent pro-Israel voices. She may differ with rightwing Jews and Israelis on the two-state solution, but she has been a dyed in the wool pro-Israel legislator. And, unlike many fellow Democrats, and despite the fact that she was Obama’s handpicked leader of the Democratic National Committee, the Congresswoman attended Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to Congress. She ended up voting for the Iran deal, which turned out to be a giant mistake, but she did not shame the Israeli PM publicly as other Democrats have done.
“This is a con job, sabotage, political character assassination plan from the get go!” declared the former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke regarding the embarrassing Monday night GOP convention speech of Donald Trump’s wife Melania, which lifted several key segments from a 2008 speech in a similar setting by then Democratic candidate Barak Obama. “Did a Jewish Neocon Speechwriter Sabotage Melania Trump’s Big Speech?” he wondered.
“I would bet a gefilte fish that this was sabotage,” Duke continued, “I would also bet a bagel it was orchestrated by an Israel Firster who wanted to damage the American Firster.”
Thank God, he didn’t bet a matzo or a Hamantash on anything…
According to the NY Times, two sources inside the Trump campaigned actually confirmed it was a Jew — Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, who commissioned a draft of Ms. Trump’s speech from Matthew Scully and John McConnell, two former speechwriters for George W. Bush.
The two writers were told that the timing of Melania’s speech had been shortened, and that she worked with a person inside the Trump organization to make substantial revisions.
Those revisions obviously included lifts from that great 2008 Michelle Obama speech.
Melania said: “From a young age, my parents impressed on me the values that you work hard for what you want in life, that your word is your bond and you do what you say and keep your promise, that you treat people with respect . . . They taught and showed me morals in their daily life. That is the lesson that I continue to pass along to our son. And we need to pass those lessons on to many generations to follow because we want our children in this nation to know that the only limit to your achievements is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
Michelle Obama said: “… Barack and I were raised with so many of the same values: that you work hard for what you want in life; that your word is your bond and you do what you say you’re going to do; that you treat people with dignity and respect, even if you don’t know them, and even if you don’t agree with them . . . And Barack and I set out to build lives guided by these values, and pass them on to the next generation. Because we want our children — and all children in this nation — to know that the only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.”
Trump senior communications adviser Jason Miller explained away the plagiarized text, saying, “In writing her beautiful speech, Melania’s team of writers took notes on her life’s inspirations, and in some instances included fragments that reflected her own thinking.”
But KKK Duke believes it was the Jews looking to humiliate candidate Trump. “Nobody could have been so stupid as to make about five or six common quotes out of Michele Obama’s Demo convention speech just a few years before and put it in Melania Trump’s speech and not think it would get exposed,” he wrote.
So, what did the Jews stand to gain from humiliating Trump, who, as we all know, is surrounded by Jews, including some of his own offspring? “Of course, that’s easy to answer,” writes Duke. “A vicious corrupt lying Zio Media who are going all out to destroy Donald Trump just as they are setting out to destroy this nation with a flood of immigrants in their bid to divide-and-conquer!” and he reminded his readers of Israel’s Mossad motto, “By deception Thou Shalt Wage War.”
Of course, Duke got that one wrong, too, or perhaps he lifted it off of a White Power website. The Mossad logo is Proverbs 11:14, which goes: “Without clever tactics an army is defeated, and victory comes from much planning.”
Some state delegates wore hats shaped like yellow wedges of cheese (Wisconsin), some of the hats were green and shaped like little trees.
But it was the dignified, albeit exultant red, white and blue state delegates from Donald J. Trump’s home State of New York who put the vote count over the top, and sealed his party’s nomination for president of the United States of America.
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., led the state’s delegates in announcing they had the privilege of putting his father “it is my honor to be able to throw Donald Trump over the top with 89 delegate votes” from the Empire State. Surrounded by his siblings, the younger Trump added in a happy shout, “Congratulations Dad, we love you!”
At the end of the vote, Trump had won 1725 votes; by comparison, opponents Texas Senator Ted Cruz had garnered 484, Ohio Governor John Kasich had 125, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio had 234.
The magic number needed to win the nomination was 1237. Alaska’s head of delegation came to the microphone after the roll call, saying it was contesting its delegate vote count and demanding a review.
House Speaker and Republican National Convention chairman Paul Ryan gravely acknowledged the demand; he also immediately agreed to hold the review, saying the delegation should meet with vote officials alongside the convention in order to address the issue.
Within minutes, however, it became clear the night was going to belong to Donald Trump despite the best efforts of Ted Cruz to up-end that eventuality.
Still to be heard from are the Trump children and the candidate himself, as well as the various other speakers who will talk about why they think the citizens of the United States should vote for Donald J. Trump.
Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, rabbi emeritus of New York City’s Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and the rabbi who is known for having converted Ivanka Trump, has backed out of his commitment to offer the invocation Monday at the U.S. Republican National Convention.
The rabbi was to offer the prayer in Cleveland but reconsidered out of his growing discomfort with having to deal with anti-Trump elements — including those he has found within his own congregation, according to a report by the New York Sun.
Rabbi Lookstein, who has also served as the head of the modern Orthodox Ramaz High School, said in an announcement that once he was listed as a speaker at the GOP convention “the whole matter turned from rabbinic to political, something which was never intended.”
According to the Sun, it was Ivanka Trump who invited the rabbi to offer the invocation in Cleveland.
But when faced with the naysayers in his own community — and those elsewhere — he reconsidered and instead, publicly released his prayer in a statement to the masses with the hope Ivanka’s father would forgive the move and release him from his commitment.
Rabbi Lookstein has recently experienced his own personal discomfort after having his conversions challenged by the Chief Rabbinical Court of the State of Israel, which backed a decision by the Rabbinical Court of the city of Petach Tikva.
It is possible that he decided he’d simply had his fill of controversy for one season.
The invocation he published, and was to deliver is as follows:
“Eternal God: We thank you for this blessed nation that for 240 years has translated into reality the Biblical command to ‘proclaim liberty throughout the land for all the inhabitants thereof.’ We thank you for our constitutional government that has created and fostered the American ideals of democracy, freedom, justice and equality for all, regardless of race, religion, or national origin...
“Almighty God: We know that we are living in very dangerous times, when all of these blessings are threatened from without, by forces of terror and unimaginable brutality, and from within, by those who sow the seeds of bigotry, hatred and violence, putting our lives and our way of life at risk. And so we pray, Dear God: Help us to form a government which will protect us with sound strategy and steady strength; which will unite us with words of wisdom and acts of compassion; and which will thereby bring peace and harmony, safety and well-being to our beloved America and to all of humankind, and let us all say, Amen.”