With the announcement of the normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE, and trips by Secretary of State Pompeo and Jared Kushner to Israel, Bahrain , Oman and Sudan, a warm Peace between Israel and Arab Emirates in the Gulf has ended the leverage of “Peace through a Palestine State ”.
One of those who welcomed that change is Sarah Stern, founder, and President of EMET –the Endowment for Middle East Truth. She had just published a JNS.org article, “The Center of Gravity has shifted under the Palestinians Feet”. She wrote: “ It has taken 72 years and the Iranian threat, but the icy-cold chill of the presence of a modern Jewish state in the Middle East has gradually begun to thaw; first, with Egypt in 1979, then with Jordan in 1994, and now today with the UAE”.
The group under Stern’s leadership has been a ‘force-multiplier’ for peace with Israel and justice for the victims of terrorism.
Rod Reuven Dovid Bryant and Jerry Gordon interviewed Sarah Stern of EMET about the prospects of expanding Israeli normalization of relations with other Gulf Emirates and Arab Middle East Muslim nations and why the hold-back on extending sovereignty to Jewish parts of Area C in Judea and Samaria is only “temporary” given comments by the UAE Ambassador in Washington at an Atlantic Council meeting on this historic Abraham Accord.
EMET’s Policy and Think Tank activities.
The Washington, DC policy think tank’s motto captures its myriad activities as an Advocating for Effective Middle East Policies. EMET was chartered as a 501.c3 nonprofit with limited lobbying abilities. Notwithstanding EMET uses educational and information and contacts with key members of Congress and Administrations to provide policy information and education of prevailing issues and webinars with think tank experts.
EMET makes daily calls to key Capitol Hill and Executive Foreign Policy staffs, which have become “popular”, as she noted during the lockdowns under the current COVID-19 Pandemic.
Stern’s weekly opinion articles are featured in a wide range of publications like The New Republic, Newsweek, The Washington Times, The Hill, American Thinker, Front Page Mag.com, JNS.org, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, Israel HaYom and others.
Recent webinars have featured think tank experts like David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security on their assessment of the mysterious explosions that have setback Iran’s nuclear program. Another was with Tony Badran, the Lebanese policy expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies on Lebanon’s failures as a government dominated by Hezbollah and impact following the “historic’ Port Blast and UN Tribunal verdicts in the case arising from the 2005 Valentine’s Day assassination of the late Premier Rafik Hariri. Israel experts such Ephraim Inbar of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, Dan Diker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Brigadier General Michael Herzog of the IDF (retired) and former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger.
Stern’s Extensive Background and Noteworthy Accomplishments.
Before establishing EMET in 2005, Stern was Executive Director for Governmental and Legislative Affairs of the American Jewish Congress, prior to that, she was the National Policy Coordinator of the Zionist Organization of America, and prior to that, she was a National Vice President of WINPAC, a national women’s pro-Israel political action committee. Among her notable achievements were assisting in the passage of the Koby Mandel Act in 2003 by Congress that led to the establishment of the US Department of Justice Office for Justice for Victims of Overseas Justice the 2008 Amendments to Title VI Higher Education Act that mandated universities receiving federal aid for Middle East Studies ensure presentation of a variety of viewpoints and the 2017 passage of the Taylor Force Act directed at curbing US financial assistance to the PA and its “pay for slay” payments to Palestinian terrorists.
The Extradition of Hamas Terrorist Ilham involved in the 2001 Sbarro Pizza Bombing in Jerusalem.
EMET has been active in pursuit of justice for American Victims of Palestinian Terrorist. A leading example is Alham Tammimi who scouting locations for a suicide bomber Izz al-Din Shuheil al Masri who denoted a bomb at the Sbarro Pizza in Jerusalem on August 9, 2001 that killed 15, 13 Israelis and Two Americans including 15-year-old Malka Roth. Over 130 were injured in the blast. Tammimi was captured by Israelis and sentenced but released in the October 2011 prisoner exchange for release of Sgt. Gilad Shalit. Tammimi was remanded to the Kingdom of Jordan where she was feted and became a host of a popular Hamas sponsored TV show. EMET has assisted the Roth Family’s effort to have Jordan extradite Tamimi under an extradition treaty that was signed by the government of Jordan in 1995. This is also pursuant to the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1991 which states that anytime an American is murdered or injured overseas , has the right and the responsibility to prosecute and punish that suspect in US courts and have the punishment meted out in US jails. Three other To that end, at EMET’s encouragement, this past April several members of Congress have signed a letter authored by Congressman Greg Steube of Florida, seeking extradition of Ms. Tamimi from Kingdom of Jordan. Jordan’s Ambassador to Washington, Dina Kawar has refused to discuss the impasse.
On why the ground has shifted under the Palestinians.
Sarah Stern said the UAE – Israel normalization agreement is evidence of a “warm” versus cold deal like the 1979 Egyptian and 1994 Jordan agreements. When she had reviewed translations of both the Egyptian and Jordanian Agreements they were “rife” with Antisemitism. She was present on July 25, 2000 when former Israel Justice Minister Eliyakim Rubenstein briefed her and others on the failure at Camp David saying Israel went as far as they dare go, but Arafat ‘simply walked away from the table”. The UAE had never been in a conflict with Israel. Given Palestinian intransigence and rejectionism, after the Gaza 2005 withdrawal Stern contends that the PA became irrelevant in discussions between Israel and Arab States like the UAE.
We brought up the example of Abdel Rahman al-Shantti, the 11 year old Palestinian boy in Gaza, a rapper who talks of peace with Israel only to have Hamas bring in his father for interrogation. Stern finds that encouraging and applauds the behind the direct people to people exchanges between Israelis and Arabs using a variety of social media, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and encrypted services like Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp. She thought that was a ray of light in the darkness and looks forward to the blossoming of other normalization agreements with Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan. The bad actors in the region are Qatar that has spent billions funding Hamas, ISIS and other terrorist threats and Erdogan’s Turkey. Both countries have aligned with the Islamic Republic of Iran and the PA ,threatening Gulf Emirates like the UAE entering normalization agreements with Israel. Qatar has spent tens of millions funding anti-Israel programs at US Universities and K-12 programs in public schools.
Stern drew attention n to the recent introduction of a bi-partisan Senate Bill by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Corey Booker (D-NJ) “Strengthening Reporting of Actions taken Against Normalization with Israel Act of 2020”.
She commended the Trump Administration for its launch of its Vision for Peace through Prosperity Plan. She noted the presence of Foreign Ministers from the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia at the White House proceedings. She complimented the roles of Jared Kushner, former Special Envoy Jason, Avi Berkowitz, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Special Envoy on Iran Brian Hook.
An intriguing EMET new hire – Hussein Aboubaker Mansour.
Stern is adding to her staff Hussein Aboubaker Hussein, the author of a life changing book, Minority of One: The unchaining of the Arab Mind. Hussein came from a conservative, Islamic, anti-Semitic family background in Egypt and was transformed by learning Hebrew, and ultimately through self-education into a Zionist. He received asylum from former President Obama after suffering torture and imprisonment by Egypt’s security. He has taught Hebrew at Yeshivas at the US Defense Language Institute and serves in the US Army reserves.
Passing of Helen Freedman of AFSI and Esther Levens of Voices United for Israel
Stern spoke of her memories of “two Zionist Matriarchs” who passed recently: Helen Freedom, executive director of Americans for a Safe Israel and Esther Levens of Voices United for Israel. Levens, who was an early advocate for Christian outreach, told Stern that she and her late husband had made a Zionist of former Kansas Republican Senator Bob Dole.
Abiding concerns – Jewish education for the next generation.
Stern expressed concern about the lack of effective Jewish education for the next generation. They know little about Jewish history, the Holocaust, identity, and sense of pride. “We need fighters for their future”. Both Bryant and Gordon cited two northwest Florida young women and recent high school graduates, who spent time in Israel, who chose to enter the Garin Tzabar lone soldier program after graduation and elected before going on to college because they said “We want to do our part”.