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Imagine what hypocrites would do without Israel to condemn

June 13, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO–Sometimes one wonders what the media, the pundits, the leftists, the Presbyterians, and most of Europe would all do if they did have not the Jews to examine and excoriate.  Certainly it’s a collective straight line away from their own inexhaustible layers of racial hypocrisies, inquisitions, crusades, slave-trading, and discarding-all-principles-for-oil that comes with their parlor anti-Semitism.

Since BP (then the Anglo-Persian Oil Company) first raped that land, now called Iran, for oil in 1908, there has been a love-hate liaison with the Arabs that has manipulated the American consumer, cost the lives of the thousands of American soldiers in several business war adventures [Kuwait-Iraq-Saudi Arabia], while conveniently stonewalling our finest ally in the region, Israel, as the scapegoat for any and troubles.

For us, world history has been an oil leak, from betrayal to BP. 

The current, essentially unchecked gushing of oil into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig, and the attendant destruction now wrought upon the waters, coast, wildlife, environment—not to mention the hard-working people, economy, and the future of a significant portion of the United States—remains a toxic allegory of this entire duplicity.

Millions of words of analysis and somber reflection, if not steaming chastisement, fill the pages and testimonies of the world’s press and legislative records about Israel’s bungled incident with the cynically presented “peace” flotilla.  Not a lot of parallel consideration has been given to Egypt’s quiet cooperation with Israel’s arms blockade of the Hamas-locked Gaza, or to the fact that Turkey’s sudden and overwrought concern for the Palestinians does not seem to extend to their refugee camps in Lebanon, or to the fact that Jordan massacred manifold times more Palestinians in 1970 deliberately than Israel ever has in defense of its borders, or that the United Kingdom (whose academic centers practically offer anti-Semitism as a curriculum item) invented white colonialism.

Moreover, while it is invigorating that South Africa is hosting the World Cup, it is also beyond any realm of pretense for that nation to join in the knee-jerk labeling of Israel as an “apartheid” state.  Such a libelous claim was again obviated when one of fourteen Arab members of the Israeli Parliament, Azmi Bishara, who was on board the raided flotilla but then addressed her fellow legislators in Jerusalem two days later (I’m not saying she wasn’t heckled).  Try that same scenario in Teheran, Cairo, Damascus, or even Istanbul.

The Israeli people, feisty, democratic, weary, filled with self-awareness, though unwilling to ever give up their remarkable country, are undergoing a thorough and painful period of introspection in the wake of recent events and the larger question of this 43-year occupation of territory that followed the 1967 war forced upon them.  Jews all over the world join with them in contemplation and reflection, hope and prayer.

We are not doing it because the chorus of anti-Semitism is getting louder and uglier.  We are not going to suddenly capitulate on anything, however.  For us, world history has been an oil leak, from betrayal to BP.  So you see, it’s just that we are not going to be marched to the gas chambers ever again.

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Rabbi Kamin is based in San Diego.  This article also appeared on examiner.com

Napolitano meets with Arab ministers on aviation security

June 1, 2010 Leave a comment

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (Press Release)—Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano on Tuesday visited Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), at the invitation of UAE Minister of the Economy Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, to meet with her counterparts from the Middle East region and officials from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to discuss ways to bolster global aviation security.

“The attempted terrorist attack on Dec. 25 demonstrated that international terrorist threats must be countered with a coordinated, global response,” said Secretary Napolitano. “My meetings today with partners from nations throughout the Middle East underscore our shared commitment to strengthening global aviation security to better protect the traveling public.”

In Abu Dhabi, Secretary Napolitano addressed UAE ministers and representatives from numerous Middle Eastern countries who attended the conference, including Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, and met with officials from ICAO—stressing the need for collaborative international action to prevent terrorists from boarding commercial aircraft.

Secretary Napolitano underscored the Obama administration’s commitment to strengthening information sharing with international partners about terrorists and other dangerous individuals and emphasized the need for enhanced cooperation on technological development and deployment; stronger aviation security measures and standards; and coordinated international technical assistance.

This meeting marked the fifth in a series of major international summits—coordinated with ICAO—intended to build consensus around the world to strengthen global aviation security.  These meetings have resulted in joint declarations on aviation security with partners in Africa, the Asia/Pacific region, the Western Hemisphere, and Europe. 

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Preceding provided by U.S. Department of Homeland Security

While the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) does not conduct screening at foreign airports, Secretary Napolitano is committed to strengthening coordination with international partners to implement stronger and more effective measures to protect the integrity of the global aviation network. Since April, TSA has utilized new enhanced threat and risk-based security protocols—tailored to reflect the most current information available to the U.S. government—for all air carriers with international flights to the United States to strengthen the safety and security of all passengers.

A vision in a California olive grove of Mideast peace

May 16, 2010 1 comment
 

Clockwise from left: Oren Blonder of the Peres Peace Center; Thom Curry of Temecula OliveOil Company, Bonnie Stewart of the Hansen Institute for World Peace; Catherine Demuth-Pepe of the Temecula Olive Oil Company and Sam N. Husseini of the Palestinian consulting company Lion Heart confer in groves in Aguanga.

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

AGUANGA, California—The olive groves in this rural Riverside County community about 20 miles east of Temecula may become one of the growing grounds for Middle Eastern peace if Israeli, Palestinian and American visionaries are successful in promulgating the idea that entrepreneurship and business cooperation between the Middle Eastern neighbors can lead to enduring peaceful relations.

Two entrepreneurial families who own the Temecula Olive Oil Company recently hosted a delegation from San Diego State University’s College of Business Administration; the private Fred J. Hansen Foundation which has provided some funding for the project; and the Peres Peace Center in Israel.  The two-man delegation from the Middle East included Sam N.  Husseini, a Palestinian entrepreneur, and Oren Blonder, an Israeli staff member at the Peres Peace Center who oversees cooperative agricultural projects between Israelis and Palestinians.

Sanford Ehrlich, who heads the Entrepreneurial Management Center within SDSU’s College of Business Administration, and Bonnie Stewart, executive director of the Fred J. Hansen Institute for World Peace, which has become part of that center, have been working for years with the Peres Peace Center and the Palestinian Center for Research and Development to foster a new Palestinian-Israeli industry that would blend olives from both areas into a single peace product.  They call their multinational organization “Entrepreneurs for Peace.”

The organization plans to award 20 scholarships for Middle Eastern MBA students, agribusiness graduate students and young entrepreneurs – 10 from Israel and 10 from the Palestinian areas – to study together August 13-22 at a special institute sponsored by San Diego State University.  While class work will occur on the SDSU campus, at least one of the field trips will be to the Temecula Olive Oil company’s 26-acre farm here and to that company’s retail store in Old Town Temecula or in Old Town San Diego. Application forms now are online at http://emc.sdsu.edu.

The Temecula Olive Oil Company is a partnership of two married couples: Thom and Nancy Curry, and Catherine Demuth-Pepe and Ernie Pepe.  Thom Curry, who oversees the agricultural aspects of the company, serves on the California Olive Oil Council and is one of the judges on that body’s panel giving awards for the oil’s taste.  But besides as a food ingredient, olive oil and its byproducts have many other uses that can quicken the heart of an entrepreneur.

“We produce olive oils the way they have done it for thousands of years,” Thom Curry told the visitors on Friday, May 7.  “The olives are ground into a paste with seeds and everything.  It goes into a mixer, where it is mixed up a little bit, and then it goes into a centrifuge.  It spins about 5,000 revolutions per minute (rpm) and that spins the solids out.  Then you separate the oil from the water when you spin it at 8,000 rpm.  You can do all that continuously and you get oil out the other end, a very efficient process.”

Curry said that the Temecula Olive Oil Company’s operation differs from those occurring over the last several thousand years in that it manufactured its own olive press out of stainless steel, rather than stone. Stainless steel doesn’t absorb oil, and can be easily cleaned.  Thus a problem affecting other presses is eliminated: the tendency for the absorbed oil to turn rancid and to spoil the taste of the newly pressed olive oil.

During the tour and over a lunch of pizza, which guests garnished with different flavors of Temecula Olive Oils  including garlic, citrus and an herbal flavored Rotture di Oro, Curry engaged his guests in a discussion about what else can be done with the oil, water, and solids from pits.

Husseini mentioned that he has seen machines that compress the pits and other solid materials from the olive oil pressing into logs “that burn for hours.”   Blonder said he has witnessed operations in which the byproducts are dried out in a furnace and used for cattle feed.  “It is a pretty neat process, but it is expensive.  The machinery that is involved is a big investment.”

Curry said that water and oil can be separated from the olive oil paste.  “We use the oil for bio-diesel; we run our tractors and I run my truck on it.  The water we get is rather acidic—and there has been some research done on this in Italy and some at UC Davis – where if you spray it in the vineyards, it will act as a weed killer.  It also solidifies the soil a little bit and it increases your yields in the vineyard.   But you have to rotate though; you can’t constantly spray in the same place all the time.”

Husseini said that the olive oil coming from the northern portion of the Palestinian area, near Jenin, are said to contain the highest ratio of anti-oxidants of any fruit or vegetable.

Dr. Gail K. Naughton, a cellular biologist who serves as dean of the SDSU’s College of Business Administration, commented that olive water imbued with anti-oxidants can be sold in the anti-aging market to combat wrinkles.

Naugton, who was the founder of Advanced Tissue Sciences and inventor of some of its products, including skin grown in a test tube for burn victims, noted that a small bottle of anti-wrinkling oil sells for between $25 and $30 at stores. 

Curry said that olive water represents only a tiny portion of byproducts – perhaps 2 percent.  “We were actually talking with someone about this, and one of the ways to affect that (and increase the yield of olive water)  is if you pit the olives before you crush them, you won’t have pits being extracted into that water…. We have looked into buying the pitter.”   However, one of the problems is that when crushed without pits, “everything squirts out – the pits give it more texture.”

Naughton said the anti-oxidant content of olive water can be easily tested by laboratories, adding that the development of the byproduct into an anti-aging cream developed after people noticed that olive workers in Spain, who should look very weathered, somehow managed to have smooth skin.  “They were washing with the water,” she said.  Today, “you can see the little tiny bottles of it on-line.”

Catherine Demeth-Pepe, who oversees Temecula Olive Oil Company’s retail outlets, said, “we do have some ladies who come in for our citrus oil and they use it as a body oil.  We sell it for $17.99 for a large-sized bottle.  You can’t go to Estée Lauder for that!”

One of the women in the group laughingly shook some of the citrus olive oil that had been served with the pizza onto her hand and spread it onto her arms.  “Ooooh, wonderful!” she exclaimed, prompting general merriment.

Curry said that another possible use for olive oil is ice cream, explaining “ice cream is an emulsification product so you need the fat.  Even using the traditional olive oil, you can make ice cream out of that – with sea salt.”

And, commented, another guest, “It has no cholesterol.”

“Actually,” said Curry, “a lot of studies show that it can lower your bad cholesterol and raise the good cholesterol.”

Marvin Spira, a consultant to food industries and to SDSU, pantomimed drinking an  entire bottle of the olive oil to bring his cholesterol down.

Ehrlich said that he had been in Israel last summer and “I was sitting next to a biochemist who says that he takes two tablespoons of olive oil a day, and his cholesterol is at a theoretical zero. …  He said he puts it on his yogurt in the morning.”

The afternoon of brainstorming about possible entrepreneurial products illustrated the excitement that can be generated among creative people with common interests, even those who come from countries that are traditionally adversaries or even enemies.

Husseini acknowledged in an interview with San Diego Jewish World that the Husseinis are one of the well-known extended families who have played a part in Jerusalem history for centuries.  However, he cautioned, just because someone is named Husseini does not mean he is closely related to other Husseinis.  “It’s like the name ‘Cohen’,” among Jews, he explained.  While Cohens may trace their family branches to a common root, they do not automatically consider each other cousins.

Husseini said he is proud that his own family has a reputation for humanitarianism.  He said his father, Dr. Najah Husseini,  retired a few years ago as an orthopedic surgeon with Hadassah Hospital.  “He was a very prominent doctor there, very kind to his patients.  He loves his work, and even today, though he is retired from the hospital, he works a lot over the West Bank.  And, he added, “my mother is a genius: she builds houses.”

Husseini asked me, “Did you ever see the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding?   That is my family.  Everybody tells each other what to do, interferes with each other’s business, and I love that!”

In his own career, Husseini, 38, created Ivycon International, an Italian company specializing in software solutions, especially for high performance automobiles.   He subsequently was invited by USAID in Jerusalem to become a fellow of the Aspen Institute and the first meeting he attended, in Jordan, was eye opening.

At that meeting, “Palestinians, Israelis, Saudis, Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Kuwaitis, Qataris, and other people from the Middle East came together.  These were not politicians, they were CEOs, general managers and directors of big organizations, and we came together and we talked about leadership.  They gave you a bunch of essays to read and then you have to discuss them as a group.  It was one of the most profound experiences that I have ever gone through.  Initially believing that as a Palestinian I was the odd man out, I found out that the Israelis also believe everyone hates them, and so do the Lebanese, and the Saudis.  So there was this leadership in the room and we got that  monkey on the table and we discussed it, and we realized that each of us is weak as one entity but we are very strong when we are united.  So the Aspen Institute changed my life by making me think outside the box more than I was doing.”

The Aspen Institute urges its participants to try to change the world for the better, not in a small way, but in a major way.   “They don’t demand it, but you feel an obligation to be part of this elite group to do so.   So I went back to Jerusalem and I am thinking to myself what can I do to really have an impact?  And I thought to myself, I can do something on the Palestinian side myself, but wouldn’t it be better to do a joint project?  So I go to the Peres Center – the Peres Center didn’t come to me – and I meet Oren there and I explain to him my vision of what I would like to do, and it seems that I hit it right on the nail because that is what they wanted to do.”

However, Husseini had been thinking along the lines of joint projects for water recycling, or bio-diesel generation from algae, whereas Blonder was pushing the concept of encouraging entrepreneurship, explaining “Sam, this project is to generate companies and creating employment.”

Agreeing with the concept, Husseini formed the  Lion Heart consulting company in Jerusalem as a vehicle for this work.

With relations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel so tense—particularly as the proximity talks are occurring under U.S. sponsorship—does Husseini ever worry about his safety as he promotes regional cooperation?

He responded:  “My wife told me, ‘Sam, I don’t want you to get involved with politics.’  I said, ‘I am not.  I am involved with leadership.’ She says, ‘you are involved with the Peres Center and that is a political entity.’   I will be very frank with you. There is a part of me that is worried.  Yes there is.  But I am also worried that nobody does something and that worries me even more. So I am inspired by the Aspen Institute to do something and I want to do something.  I really want to do something.  I am worried because of the Peres Center affiliation but my joy is overcoming my fear.”

And whereas Husseini cooperates with the Peres Center—in reaching out to other Palestinians—he does not always agree with the Peres Center’s philosophy. 

“Israelis and Palestinians are not different,” he said.  “The same characteristics  good and bad that exist with Israelis exist with the Palestinians.  Me and my friend Oren (Blonder), we argue all the time, and we argue how to solve the situation.  We argue on a positive note.  He believes that we should have a two-state solution and I really highly respect that. My opinion is that we should have a one-state solution.  I just cannot believe that we can divide the people up, the sons of Abraham. We have so much in common and we have one piece of land that is so tiny.  I just don’t believe we can divide it up. … The country is so tiny and I just believe we need to be united.  It is a crazy dream and I am going to try to live everyday with this dream until something happens.”

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Harrison is editor of

San Diego Jewish World
 

 

Sixty-two years later, Arabs still reject independent Israel

May 14, 2010 Leave a comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO — Today, May 14,  is the sixty-second anniversary of the independence of the State of Israel—which had been voted into existence by the Security Council of the United Nations.  We have no apologies; we are elated; we regret that the two-state solution legislated by the UN at that time has been systemically obviated by Arab truculence and warmongering ever since.

Palestine is one of the greatest default realities to confront the Jewish people, most particularly Israel (which is not 100% Jewish and less than 20% religiously observant), but, as of this printing, Palestine never was, has never been, and does not presently have great prospects of becoming an actual nation.  Palestine is a historic region of the Middle East, a geographic term like, say, “America,” but at no time in history, from scripture till today, was it a nation-state with any kind of civil structure, federal hierarchy, or until the United Nations mandated the creation of Israel in 1947, even a requirement to exist.

Within the region of Palestine, two national entities have existed.  The first was the Kingdom of Judea, founded by David in 1000 BCE, as recorded in both Jewish and Christian Testaments.  Judea fell at the hands of the Roman Empire in the year 70 CE.  In the ensuing 1900 years, no interest was expressed in the region of Palestine by the Arab-Islamic world while millions of Jews, dispersed globally, prayed for a return to Jerusalem.  Palestine was colonized, overrun, and generally left to rot by successive invaders and conquerors.

Jews continued to read and chant about places such as Hebron and Jericho in the Hebrew Scripture, let alone Jerusalem—the centerpiece of Jewish aspirations and history.  Jerusalem, now suddenly sought as the capital of a Palestinian state, is not referred to even once in the Holy Quran.

The second of the only two polities ever created therein is the State of Israel, voted into existence with a 33-13 margin by the UN Security Council in November 1947, following the European genocide of its Jews, and legally recognized as independent on May 14, 1948. 

Meanwhile, there are scores of Arab realms that have existed (though unlike Israel, not one is a democracy) without all of these complications, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, which border Israel, and have either launched wars or served as safe-havens for terrorists over the past 60 years. 

The map reveals other outlying Arab nations, such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other sheikdoms that systematize our gasoline prices, even as 2% of their populations live in oil-lubricated mega-wealth while the rest starve in the desert sun.  The Palestine political saga, as exploited by many Arab leaders, is a great diversion for these poor masses.

It should be noted that the very name “Palestine” was given to Judea by the Romans as a pejorative slap at the Jews; the Romans called it “Philestina” to afflict the Jews with the tag of their arch-enemy, the Philistines.  The section of the Talmud, the greatest wisdom anthology of the Jews that was written in the land is called “the Palestinian Talmud,” and the world-renowned Israeli daily, The Jerusalem Post, was known as The Palestine Post for the first half of the twentieth century. 

It is difficult to invoke or discuss the term “Palestine” without inciting debate, heat, or blood.  Sadly, what are so often left behind in the haze and anguish are facts and realities that blind and endanger people.  My own parents were born in the British Mandate of Palestine—the League of Nations-authorized colony that prevailed there from the close of World War I until the British walked away in 1948 and left the Israelis to fend-off a massive Arab invasion that also canceled the original two-state solution.

And yet:  None of the above erases the several million human beings, who are now effectively the Palestinians (even though the Gazans were once Egyptians and the people in the West Bank were once Jordanians) and who are now deserving of a place on this earth that is free of the righteousness, the manipulation, the cynicism of their own leaders and of those in the Jewish people brave enough to know that there is no future jailed in the past.

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Rabbi Kamin is based in San Diego

Obama using Israel as a scapegoat for his own failed policies

April 26, 2010 1 comment

By Rabbi Ben Kamin

Rabbi Ben Kamin

SAN DIEGO–There was no particular courage required to excoriate the government of Israel when its housing minister announced the construction of so many new home units in the Jerusalem area exactly when Vice President Joe Biden was arriving in the country to discuss peace talks.  Many in the Israeli establishment and editorial community were just as mystified by the timing—even the arrogance.

But no courage whatsoever is required for one nation to tell its primary ally and devotee in the Middle East what to do generally within that ally’s municipal sovereignty (especially with respect to its capital city)—let alone try to micro-manage that ally’s business.  Timing is one thing, protocol is another.  No courage here—just temerity. 

Every American president before Obama, Republican and Democrat, has celebrated our extraordinarily special relationship with this brave and spirited little country.

Israel is boldly democratic, to a fault, and at the expense of its own functionality.  It is home to some 120 nationalities and it turns 62 this week without a single US soldier, sailor, or airman ever dying on its soil in a wartime action.  This is not Iraq, Kuwait, Vietnam, Korea, or Afghanistan–or Lebanon, where hundreds of American Marines were killed in a 1983 suicide bombing.

President Obama has practically broken his back extending invitations to, declarations of support for, and generally winking at President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan—known to have been elected by fraud, most highly questionable in the categories of democracy and gratitude.  For the better part of a decade, young Americans have been dying in the deserts and mountains of this fractious and bellicose nation of innumerable tribal conflagrations.
President Obama has visited Afghanistan—which is great and surely cheers our brave soldiers there.  He has not chosen to set foot yet in Israel, a republic that both mirrors and fawns over America, even while protecting US interests via its military, scientific, biotechnological, and strategic commitments and successes.

The United States recognized the State of Israel within moments of its independence on May 14, 1948.  President Harry Truman was clear-eyed and declarative.   Every American president since, Republican and Democrat, has celebrated our extraordinarily special relationship with this brave and spirited little country that still fights daily against terrorism and now the announced threat of Iranian nuclear annihilation.

The government of Israel formally recognized the existence of the Palestinian nation on September 13, 1993: I was there at the White House when this happened and witnessed the fateful handshake between Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Chairman Yasser Arafat.  It is not the fault of Israel that what is now left, sadly, of the Palestinian nation is an unrecognizable bloody stand-off between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank. 

But to now equate America’s entanglements in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the tragic loss of US lives in those places, to Israel’s dangerous equation with the Palestinians is facile at best and libelous at worst.  In fact, even as the frustrations and failures of American policy in the Muslim world (including the just-now published government admission that we are not succeeding with Iran) grow, some Americans are simply dumping blame on our friendship with Israel.

This is a blood libel and we Americans have better principles than that.

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Kamin is a freelance writer and author.  His Nothing Like Sunshine: A Story in the Aftermath of the MLK Assassination was recently published.

Why would U.S. want Afghan pilots trained in Lebanon or Syria?

April 23, 2010 Leave a comment

By Shoshana Bryen

Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C — The U.S. Department of the Army put out a request for information on “Afghanistan National Army Air Corps English and Pilot Training.”

The Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation (PEO STRI) is conducting market research by seeking sources with innovative business solutions to (1) train and certify up to 67 Afghani student pilots to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) English level 4 in the English language; and (2) provide basic rotary wing or fixed wing Commercial Pilot Training to the European Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) standards.

It is desired that the English language and basic pilot training take place within South West Asia. PEO STRI requests information on sources available to perform training in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, U.A.E, Uzbekistan, Yemen or other locations in Southwest Asia with the capability to provide requested training.

How is it possible that Syria, a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorism-supporting countries, is considered an acceptable place to train Afghan pilots? Or Lebanon, which has Hezbollah as a member of the governing cabinet in Beirut? Hezbollah is a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations, and until September 11, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group. Didn’t Kyrgyzstan just have a coup inspired/financed by Russia? Wouldn’t training pro-Western Afghan pilots in Pakistan send those people from the frying pan into the fire? Isn’t Yemen home to some of the most virulently anti-American, anti-Western al Qaeda operatives and preachers, including Anwar al-Awlakiwho was talking to U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan before he killed 13 Americans at Ft. Hood?
 
Aside from the fact that some of the countries listed are not in South West Asia, as the request for information requires, not one is remotely democratic. OK, we’ll give Jordan a few points and some to Iraq, but that’s it. 
 
What would possess the United States Army to expose Afghani pilots, who are supposed to secure a functional and consensual state in Afghanistan, to countries where the governments are almost uniformly totalitarian, functionally repressive, less than hospitable to reform or dissent, and have women in positions of legal inferiority? Saudi Arabia is the financier of a particularly repressive, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic form of Islam exported around the world.
 
We did not expect to see Israel on the list, although Israel certainly is capable of training pilots to the European Joint Aviation Authority standards, and a few months in Israel would impart some Western governmental, judicial and social norms, including religious and political tolerance.
 
But if not Israel, why not Britain or Italy or France or Spain or Portugal? Why not Denmark or Colombia or Mali or Uruguay? Why not India or Indonesia or Taiwan or Japan?
 
The list is clearly weighted toward the part of the world to which President Obama wishes to show American comity. Unfortunately, it is also a part of the world in which neither American policies nor American values are particularly welcome items on the agenda. The list and the thinking behind it are political mistakes that should be corrected. Certainly, they should be corrected before we give the Afghanis the idea that the norms of Syria and Lebanon are ones we want them to adopt.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member

Campbell describes himself as a supporter of Israel

February 10, 2010 3 comments

By Bruce Kesler

ENCINITAS, California – In the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, former U.S. Rep. Tom Campbell is being accused of being anti-Israel by his Republican opponents, who cite his votes in the House of Representatives to reduce aid to Israel and his early advocacy of a Palestinian state. 

In a direct email exchange with this writer, Campbell answered a series of questions intended to probe his overall views on the Middle East.

1. Would Campbell have voted for, against, or abstained in the Senate vote on the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (S. 2799)?

Yes, I would have voted in favor. Note that I’m already on record to support Israeli military action, if it comes to that, directed at destroying Iran’s nuclear capability. This Act is an attempt to increase the pressure so that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon. It’s worth trying, but my patience has already run out with all forms of sanctions.

2. Would Campbell vote in favor, against, or abstain in the vote on the full $3-billion security assistance aid to Israel in President Obama’s proposed budget?

I have always voted for the military aid portion of assistance to Israel. Like the Netanyahu government, in the past and now, I favor lowering the amount of American economic assistance to countries more able to take care of themselves, so that US foreign economic assistance can go to the neediest countries.

3. Would Campbell vote in favor, against, or abstain in the repeated votes in favor of the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there?

I always favored the United States paying Israel the respect we pay other nations, of recognizing the capital city of their own choosing, and placing our embassy there.

4.A. Would Campbell require an act of Congress under the War Powers Act in order to send emergency arms and supplies to Israel if attacked?

The War Powers Act is triggered only by the presence of US troops in “hostilities.” Nothing in sending arms and supplies to Israel would trigger the Act. So, no, I would not require an act of congress to send emergency arms and supplies to Israel if attacked.

4.B. Would Campbell vote in favor, against, or abstain in his vote for such an act of Congress?

I would vote in favor. My vote in favor of going to war when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait was as much a vote to defend Israel as to defend Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. All three nations were attacked.

5. Does Campbell support, criticize, or have no public position about the Goldstone Report?

I have not read the Goldstone Report, and would need to do so before offering an informed opinion.

6. Does Campbell believe, not believe, or stand undecided on whether the “Israel lobby” has excess influence on US foreign policy?

 All Americans have the right to petition Congress and the President, and those Americans who wish to do so on behalf of a stronger American-Israeli relationship should  not be criticized for doing so. The influence of those Americans is not “excess influence.”

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Okay, politicians are politicians, and often say what they think the electorate wants to hear.  Campbell’s record of speaking his mind, however, has not followed that tacky pattern.  One may agree with him, or not.  It is most important  to remove Senator Barbara Boxer. 

Carly Fiorina, Campbell’s well-self-funded primary opponent, can directly speak to current issues and differences without selectively tossing mud-covered rocks.  That is jackelish. That only aids Boxer, and does not further Republicans or Fiorina, or Israel.

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Kesler is a freelance writer based in Encinitas, California

Has U.S. eliminated Israel’s qualitative edge over possible Arab foes?

January 23, 2010 2 comments

By Shoshana Bryen

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The Forward started it in December. Ha’aretz picked up the theme this month, writing, “The Bush administration violated security related agreements with Israel in which the U.S. promised to preserve the IDF’s qualitative military edge (QME) over Arab armies, according to senior officials in the Obama administration and Israel,” and suggesting that National Security Adviser Jim Jones’s trip to Israel in mid-January was to discuss the QME. (Actually it was to push Israel into more pointless talks with Palestinians, who declined to cooperate.)

The objective appears to be PR for the Obama Administration, the standing of which is very, very low among Israelis. Trashing the previous administration is a favored tactic – but the truth is both less and more than it appears.

The concept of a QME is “iffy” to begin with; the Bush Administration did several things that reduced Israel’s capabilities against certain of its enemies, while strengthening Israel in other ways; the Obama administration is repeating the mistakes, doubling down on them and adding its own new ones;
Israel, in very important ways, isn’t protesting where it might.

The QME began as a Johnson Administration promise (not a treaty) to maintain Israel’s ability to prevail over any reasonable combination of Arab forces in a non-nuclear war.  The promise has been repeated by successive administrations-unquantified and unquantifiable. Weapons themselves can be counted, but Israel’s edge over Arab armies was always more than that. It was-and remains-a combination of: the quality and quantity of weapons in both Israeli and Arab arsenals; the tactics and training of Israeli and Arab soldiers; and the quality of the soldiers and their leadership.

Only in the last is Israel independent.
In the beginning, it was easy. When the Soviets supplied the Arabs and the United States supplied Israel, the quality of Western arms would prevail over the quantity of Russian arms. The tactics and training of Israeli soldiers was an exclamation point-after the 1982 Lebanon War, when Israel shot down 82 Syrian (Russian) MiGs over Lebanon, Israeli pilots said that had the Syrians been flying F-16s and the Israelis flying MiGs, the ratio might have changed but the end result would have been the same.

But those days are over. Throughout the 1980s, 1990s and the first decade of the new millennium, the United States has been selling to the Arabs apace (beginning with President Reagan’s Saudi AWACS sale in 1981) including depleted uranium tank rounds and bunker buster bombs, and training Saudi pilots and Egyptian tank drivers and Kuwaiti radar operators. Israel, at formal peace with Egypt, does not actively oppose arms sales there, preferring or understanding the need to work to reduce the bells and whistles-keeping the edge in the technology if not in the platform. This is one reason Israel consistently “tweaks” what it buys from the United States, to extend the technological edge with indigenous capabilities.

Similarly, at one point in the 1980s, Israel declined to participate in certain U.S. air exercises, knowing that tactics the IAF developed for use in U.S. aircraft would be shared with American pilots and then shared with Saudi pilots. (“It’s one thing for our lover to take pictures in the bedroom,” said an Israeli pilot at the time. “It is another for them to sell the pictures on the street.”)

The U.S. administration certifies that each specific arms sale to each individual Arab country will not upset the balance in the region and Israel generally retains the right to buy more of almost anything it needs (see exceptions on Apache helicopters and the F-35 next generation fighter coming in Part II of this report). But Israel does not have unlimited resources-if the Saudis have about 153 American F-15 fighter jets of various types and six Eurofighter Typhoons (as it does), and then signs a deal for 71 more Typhoons (as it did), how does Israel compete when the Obama Administration announces 24 more F-16s for Egypt and 24 additional F-16s for Morocco (as it did)?

Israel, as previously noted, retains control of the quality of soldiers entering the IDF and their leadership.

That hardly seems enough.

**

The concept of the Qualitative Military Edge (QME) failed to keep up with the changes in U.S. arms sales and training policy over the decades. It also failed to keep up with the changes in the regional picture of Israel and its adversaries-and the problems the adversaries themselves face. And finally, the Obama Administration posture toward Iran-including diplomatic overtures to the government and failure to obtain allied agreement on meaningful sanctions or other action-appears to have shifted from preventing Iranian acquisition of nuclear capabilities to deciding how to deal with a nuclear Iran. The implications for the security “edge” Israel requires in the face of continued Arab and Iranian rejection are huge.
 
During the “decade of the oughts” (as it appears to have been retroactively dubbed), the strategic alignment in the region changed from “everybody against Israel” to a “pro-Iran vs. anti-Iran” axis. Israel found itself on the same side of the strategic divide as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Bahrain and Lebanese democrats. On the other side are Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran and, increasingly, Turkey. Iraq appears out of the picture, which is a very big change in historical terms. That doesn’t mean Saudi Arabia likes Israel any better, but there is a clearer meeting of the minds on what threatens who and how. Saudi condemnation of Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon war and decision not to give even rhetorical support to Hamas during the Gaza war were demonstrations of the shift; as was passage of an Israeli warship through the Suez Canal during the summer.
 
Early in the decade, the Bush Administration needed Gulf Arab help for the war in Iraq-particularly after Turkey denied the United States entrance into Iraq from the north-and wanted to bolster their ability to deal with problems as they saw them. There was little objection from Israel, which despite being pleased that Iraq was no longer in the circle of enemies, had always insisted that Iran was the real threat and increasingly saw the increased, if unspoken, relationship with Egypt and Saudi Arabia as positive. Arms sales to the Gulf ensued-but nothing much to Egypt, in American protest of Egyptian human rights violations.
 
The Obama Administration, however, has announced major new sales to the Arab states, including Egypt. Egypt will receive four batteries (20 missiles) of advanced Harpoon Block II anti-ship cruise missiles-capable of overcoming the countermeasures and electronic warfare suites generally available for defense-along with four fast missile boats, 450 Hellfire antitank missiles usually launched from Apache attack helicopters-12 of which the Obama Administration sold to Egypt during the summer (see below), 156 jet engines for F-16 jets to follow the October sale of 24 F-16 C/D fighter aircraft equipped with advanced electronic warfare suites.
 
Saudi Arabia will get 2,742 TOW-2 antitank missiles. Ha’aretz reports that Jordan will receive 1,808 night vision-equipped Javelin antitank missiles with 162 launchers capable of penetrating the most modern tanks. These are in addition to the September deal for more than 80 advanced rocket launchers of types that have been sold to Israel in the past. The UAE will get 1,600 laser-guided “smart” bombs, 800 one-ton bombs, and 400 bunker buster bombs. Morocco has contracted for 24 F-16s.
 
So, what’s the problem if Israel doesn’t consider those countries to be immediate threats?  The problem is that the increased sales come at the same time U.S. policy has shifted from support for Israel’s right of self-defense to support for a new “peace process” aimed at settling borders to provide for a Palestinian state Secretary of State Clinton told the Qatari Prime Minister the Palestinians “deserve.” Changing Israel’s local security paradigm at the same time as increased sales to the neighbors-and no new sales to Israel-means the balance is pushed further out-of-whack. 
 
Indeed, Israel’s request for six AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopters was blocked by the Obama Administration in June-the same time the Egyptian sale was approved. U.S. sources reported that the request was undergoing an “interagency review to determine whether additional Longbow helicopters would threaten Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.” “During the recent war, Israel made considerable use of the Longbow, and there were high civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip,” a source close to the administration was reported to have said. 
 
So Hamas paid no American price for its assault on the people of Israel, but Israel’s defense was subject to U.S. “review.”
 
Problems with Israel’s bid for the next-generation F-35 fighter have yet to be resolved.  Israel wants permission to put its own avionics in the plane-a “tweak” that would give Israel its edge-and wants to be able to service the plane in Israel, thinking that sending it abroad for repairs during wartime might be a tad inconvenient. The Pentagon said “no” to both. To be fair, Britain was also denied access to the central computer codes as well, but that doesn’t help Israel.
 
The Obama Administration made much of the installation of the U.S. X-Band Radar in Israel and the November Juniper Cobra joint exercises as proof of its support for Israel.  Both are useful and important, although the Bush Administration approved the X-Band Radar and the Juniper Cobra exercise was one in a long series of annual joint exercises. More important, both could be seen as ways to prevent Israeli action against Iran should Israel think that action necessary.
 
Radar serves to detect an attack and the X-Band will help Israel see an Iranian attack much earlier than its indigenously-developed Green Pine radar, but preparing to receive an Iranian attack means that efforts to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons will have failed. Likewise, the Juniper Cobra exercises are about defending Israel from attack, not preventing the attack in the first place.
 
The American commitment to Israel cannot only be to Israel’s defense should someone (Iran or any combination of Arab states) attack it; the commitment has to be to the security of Israel-including measures Israel deems necessary to protect its citizens before an attack, and deciding not to provide the means of attack to Israel’s enemies. 
 
Including the Palestinians.

***

In this decade, threats to Israel from the inner circle of its enemies changed in a qualitative way as Hamas and Hezbollah acquired arms and training from Iran-and in the case of the Palestinians, the United States.
 
Arafat’s Fatah launched the “second intifada” in late 2000 primarily from the West Bank. Hamas was not a real factor and Gaza was relatively quiet. Israel was comfortable in the early years with the Bush Administration’s approach to the Palestinian Authority (PA), for example, not meeting Arafat, the June 24th speech, the President’s consistent support for Israel’s need to defend itself from terror across the borders including 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield and the construction of the Security Fence, the 2005 Gaza disengagement, the 2006 Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead against Hamas rocket attacks. 
 
In what turned out to be a mistake of historic proportion, however, Israel and the United States agreed to allow Hamas to run in the 2006 Palestinian election, changing the Palestinian dynamic after the Palestinian civil war and the ouster of Fatah from Gaza.  And it was the Bush administration-with Israeli acquiescence and assistance-that undertook training of Palestinian “security forces” under the leadership of an U.S. Army general.
 
It wasn’t the first time.
 
During the Oslo years, the Clinton Administration and Israel agreed that the Palestinians would have an armed “police force” working in concert with Israel against…  Well, against what? The Israelis and Americans hoped that the Palestinians would provide security for Israel by “dismantling the terrorist infrastructure” and, and, and … Well, what? It was a vain hope that Palestinians could be induced to kill other Palestinians on behalf of security for the State of Israel and its citizens. A JINSA group met with a Palestinian police commander and his troops in 1997. A retired American general remarked, “These are soldiers, not police. They look like soldiers, they train like soldiers and they will kill like soldiers.”
 
True enough. During the “second intifada,” Palestinian police turned on Israel, bragging about their American training and equipment. The United States stopped the program, but reinstated it in 2005-with agreement from Israel. The 2006 Palestinian civil war showed that (U.S.-trained) Fatah forces were no match for Hamas troops, and had no more respect for human rights. Fighters on both sides appear to have executed wounded enemies and tossed people off rooftops.
 
The United States has spent hundreds of millions of American tax dollars training Fatah-related Palestinians as police and, increasingly under the Obama Administration, as Hamas-hunters-the theory being that the more Fatah does to control Hamas, the less Israel has to do to control Hamas. OK, but who controls Fatah? 
 
Who ensures that the skills and discipline, the communications equipment, the sniper rifles, the armored personnel carriers and the body armor aren’t turned into weapons against Israel? What happens if Hamas and Fatah form a unity government-which the Obama Administration is pushing-and decide that they would do better to combine forces against Israel? Who will ultimately control the force, and why is the United States training a military whose ultimate loyalty cannot be reasonably assured? How does this help Israel be secure? And, parenthetically, why does the Israeli government think this is a good idea? Regular JINSA Report readers have all the details, going back to 2006.
 
[Also parenthetically, American military support for the Lebanese Armed Forces-increased under the Obama Administration-with a government that includes Hezbollah in the cabinet, raises precisely the same difficulties for Israel. It is inconceivable that Hezbollah government ministers are walled off from Hezbollah commanders in south Lebanon, particularly when Hezbollah is now an “official” militia operating with government permission. The destructive power of Iran’s supply of weapons directly to Hezbollah would be greatly enhanced by the UAVs, radars and communications equipment in the hands of the Lebanese government. Where is Israel’s “edge”?]
 
Unelected PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad recently told associates that what the United States carefully calls the “security force” is actually the nucleus of the Palestinian army he plans to have in the independent Palestinian state he plans to declare some time next year. Other media reports cite growing friction between PA authorities and the U.S. general in charge, with the Palestinians looking for other, perhaps more pliable, sources of training and arms. Someone should be looking into reported CIA support for the PA army.
 
Even now, Palestinian human rights organizations-not our favorite sources-regularly report Fatah security force harassment, arrest and detention of Palestinians who are not Hamas, but who are insufficiently obedient to Fatah. There is increasingly less freedom for journalists to report on activities of the PA, and Abu Mazen canceled the scheduled January election, announcing he would not run for a new term of office, but also would not stop governing. With his own U.S.-trained private army, who was going to complain?  But that is not our problem here.
 
To the extent that there is such a thing as a Qualitative Military Edge (QME), a dubious proposition, it must exist at the level closest to Israel’s citizens as well as being balanced with countries far away. The Obama Administration doubled down on the Bush money to the Palestinian Army and added tens of millions more, making the Palestinians ever less likely to be receptive to constraints on their future military capabilities.
 
We would rather have an extra couple of dozen fighter planes in Morocco than an extra dozen battalions of American-trained, Fatah/Hamas-controlled Palestinians next to Israel’s population centers.

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Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.  Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member

Two Guantanamo detainees transferred to Algeria

January 23, 2010 1 comment

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Press Release)–Two Algerian detainees, Hasan Zemiri and Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili, have been transferred from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay to the custody and control of the Government of Algeria.

As directed by the President’s Jan. 22, 2009 Executive Order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of these cases. As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including the potential threat posed by each individual and the receiving country’s demonstrated capabilities to mitigate potential threats posed by the individuals in their home country, each detainee was approved for transfer.

The transfers were approved by unanimous consent among all the agencies involved in the review — including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the Departments of Defense, State, Justice and Homeland Security.

In accordance with Congressionally-mandated reporting requirements, the Administration informed Congress of its intent to transfer these detainees at least 15 days before their transfer. These transfers were carried out under an arrangement between the United States and the Government of Algeria. The United States coordinated with the Government of Algeria to ensure the transfers took place under appropriate security measures.

Since 2002, more than 570 detainees have departed Guantanamo Bay for other destinations, including Albania, Algeria, Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Belgium, Bermuda, Chad, Denmark, Egypt, France, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Pakistan, Palau, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Spain, Sweden, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom and Yemen.

Eight detainees were transferred from Guantanamo Bay to Algeria under the previous Administration. As of Friday, 196 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.

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Preceding provided by U.S. Justice Department

All military should be required to report Islamist extremists in the ranks –Senate Homeland Security Committee

January 14, 2010 1 comment

 

WASHINGTON, DC (Press Release)—Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman, (Independent, Connecticut)  and Ranking Member Susan Collins, (Repubilcan, Maine) – who are conducting an investigation into the shooting deaths of 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, last November – issued preliminary policy recommendations Wednesday to the Department of Defense (DoD).

The recommendations, which came in a letter to DoD Secretary Robert Gates, focus on explicitly prohibiting violent Islamist extremism in the military and training servicemembers to recognize, address, and report such extremism.

The Committee held a November 19 hearing on the Fort Hood shootings and has been investigating violent Islamist extremism and homegrown radicalization for over three years.

Lieberman and Collins’ letter to Secretary Gates follows:

 Dear Secretary Gates:

The Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs has initiated an investigation into the events surrounding the November 5, 2009, shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, pursuant to the Committee’s authority under Rule XXV(K)(1) of the Standing Rules of the Senate, Section 101 of S. Res. 445 (108th Congress), and Section 12 of S. Res. 73 (111th Congress).  The purpose of our investigation is to assess the information the U.S. Government had prior to the shootings and the actions it took in response to that information.  Ultimately, the investigation will identify the steps necessary to protect the United States against future acts of terrorism by homegrown violent Islamist extremists.

 We are committed to completing a comprehensive fact-finding investigation concerning the U.S. Government’s failure to identify Major Nidal Malik Hasan as a possible threat and to take action that may have prevented the attacks.  Even at this stage of our investigation, however, it has become apparent to us that DoD’s approach to the threat of servicemembers who adopt a violent Islamist extremist ideology needs to be revised.  Updating that approach will protect from suspicion the thousands of Muslim-Americans who serve honorably in the U.S. military and maintain the bonds of trust among servicemembers of all religions which is so essential to our military’s effectiveness.

I.                DoD Should Update Its Approach to Extremism in the Ranks Given the Threat of   Homegrown Terrorism Inspired by Violent Islamist Extremism.

During the past four years, our Committee has conducted an extensive investigation of the threat facing the United States from homegrown terrorism inspired by violent Islamist extremism.  The Committee’s work makes clear – particularly in light of the increased number of attacks, plots, and arrests during 2009 – that the threat of homegrown terrorism inspired by violent Islamist extremism has evolved and is expanding.  In over a dozen incidents in 2009, U.S. citizens or residents sought to mount an attack within the United States, including one who shot two Army recruiters in Arkansas, a number who apparently fought for al-Shaabab in Somalia, seven men in North Carolina who allegedly planned to attack the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia, and several who plotted to bomb a synagogue in New York City.  The violent Islamist terrorist threat includes individuals who self-radicalize by visiting Internet websites or reading other propaganda that promotes terrorist causes, i.e., without any connection to or affiliation with an established or recognized group.  Efforts to detect and disrupt terrorist activity are complicated when these self-radicalized terrorists operate as “lone wolves.”  

This Committee and senior Executive Branch officials have identified domestic violent Islamist extremism as a rising threat.  As Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano recently stated, “We’ve seen an increased number of arrests here in the U.S. of individuals suspected of plotting terrorist attacks, or supporting terror groups abroad such as al Qaeda.  Homegrown terrorism is here.  And, like violent extremism abroad, it will be part of the threat picture that we must now confront.”

The Department has previously adopted policies to address servicemembers engaged in certain violent extremist activities.  Policies exist that address servicemembers who become involved in both racist activities and criminal gangs.  However, there have been cases of servicemembers becoming radicalized to violent Islamist extremism, including Sergeant Hasan Akbar, who murdered fellow servicemembers at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait in 2003.  Given these events, and the increasing incidence of violent Islamist extremism in the United States, the Department must revisit its policies and procedures to ensure that violent radicalization, whether based on violent Islamist extremist doctrine or other causes, can be identified and action taken to prevent attacks before they occur.

Exhibiting signs of violent extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations, including those associated with violent Islamist extremism, is incompatible with military service and access to classified or sensitive information.  An April 2005 report by DoD’s Defense Personnel Security Research Center, Screening for Potential Terrorists in the Enlisted Military Accessions Process, concluded that “the allegiance to the U.S. and the willingness to defend its Constitution must be questioned of anyone who materially supports or ideologically advocates the legitimacy of Militant Jihadism” and that “determination of participation in or support or advocacy of Militant Jihadist groups and their ideologies should be grounds for denial of acceptance into the Armed Forces of the U.S. and denial of access to classified or sensitive information.”  As seen in the cases of Major Hasan and Sergeant Akbar, the adoption of violent Islamist extremism has been associated with violence against military personnel and other Americans. 

We believe that DoD’s approach to countering the threat of violent extremism by servicemembers needs to be updated to reflect the current threat of homegrown violent Islamist extremism faced by the United States.  Even though we have not completed our investigation of Major Hasan’s conduct and his colleagues’ and commanders’ response to him specifically, we make the following recommendations based on our knowledge of the overall threat of homegrown violent Islamist extremism, our careful review of relevant DoD and Army policies, and interviews and testimony of former high-ranking DoD personnel, intelligence, and military officials and briefings by current officials.  We may supplement these recommendations based on the specific facts of Major Hasan’s case and on additional information. 

II.        DoD Should Increase Training of DoD Personnel Concerning Violent Islamist Extremism.

Increased training of servicemembers at all levels – from enlisted personnel to commanders – is needed to ensure that they can understand the warning signs of violent Islamist extremism.  Such training will need to be crafted carefully and will likely need to vary by rank.  Training should include:

•           Why exhibiting violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations is incompatible with military service and access to classified or sensitive information.

•           The process of violent radicalization, including the warning signs of violent Islamist extremism. 

•           Servicemembers who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations are not necessarily members of any established or recognized group.  Instead, the servicemember could be a “lone wolf,” having undergone a process of self-radicalization via Internet sites, literature, or videos.

•           What violent Islamist extremism is, and how terrorists distort the Islamic faith to promote violence.

Existing DoD policies provide some authority for commanders and other appropriate officials to respond to servicemembers that exhibit signs of violent extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations.  However, commanders should be trained to apply such policies to servicemembers who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremism and to recognize those signs in a specific servicemember.  Relevant policies include but are not limited to:

•  Army Regulation 600-20, Army Command Policy:  This policy gives every commander broad discretion to prohibit activities by servicemembers in order to preserve good order, discipline, and morale.  Training should ensure that commanders are aware that exhibiting signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations by a servicemember would constitute a threat to good order, discipline, and morale.  The training should explain the difference between religious faith and observance, on the one hand, and violent extremist views, behaviors, and affiliations on the other – albeit recognizing that warning signs of extremist views, behaviors, and affiliations should not be ignored just because they are comingled with religious faith or observance.

•           DoD Directive 1332.30, Separation of Regular and Reserve Commissioned Officers:  Training of DoD personnel should clarify that exhibiting violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations by an officer would constitute substandard “attitude or character” for which separation from military service may result.

III.       DoD Should Revise its Policies to Address Violent Extremism Generally and Violent Islamist Extremism in Particular.

Other DoD policies should be revised to address servicemembers who exhibit violent extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations, including those associated with violent Islamist extremism. 

The Department should update DoD Instruction 1325.06, Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces.  The Department originally issued the Instruction in response to Vietnam-era anti-war activities by servicemembers and has updated the Instruction to address servicemembers involved in supremacist activities and criminal gangs.  The most recent version of the Instruction prohibits not only servicemember participation in certain organizations but also prohibits “actively advocat[ing] supremacist doctrine, ideology, or causes.”  The inclusion of active advocacy broadens the instruction to cover situations in which a servicemember acts alone without involvement with a group.  However, the history of the Instruction, combined with the common understanding of the term “supremacist,” suggests that the prohibition is limited to racial extremism.  Accordingly, the Instruction should be broadened so that it clearly applies to other types of violent extremism, including violent Islamist extremism. 

The Army also should update its Pamphlet 600-15, Extremist Activities.  This pamphlet, issued in response to the racially-motivated murders committed by servicemembers at Fort Bragg in 1995 and DoD’s subsequent revision of Instruction 1325.06 in 1996, is heavily oriented toward supremacist activities and other racial extremism.  The pamphlet should be expanded to address servicemembers who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations.  Accordingly, the Army should revise the pamphlet to discuss signs of such views, behaviors, or affiliations.  In doing so, the Army should specify that servicemembers who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations, may do so as the result of self-radicalization or as “lone wolves.”  The Army should also consider how the Instruction should be revised to prospectively address future threats from other violent extremist ideologies.  The other Services should make corresponding changes to their policies and procedures. 

IV.       DoD Should Ensure that Servicemembers Report Signs of Violent Islamist Extremism.

The Department and the Services should also revise their policies to ensure that servicemembers have a clear obligation to report servicemembers who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations.  As General Keane testified before our Committee, “It should not be an act of moral courage for a soldier to identify a fellow soldier who is displaying extremist behavior.  It should be an obligation.”

DoD’s policies do not clearly require that servicemembers report other personnel who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations.  Neither the version of DoD Instruction 1325.06 on extremism, Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces, in effect before the Fort Hood shootings nor the revised directive issued in November 2009 contains a reporting obligation by servicemembers with respect to the types of activities covered by that Instruction.  In addition, DoD Instruction 5240.6, entitled Counterintelligence (CI) Awareness, Briefing, and Reporting Programs, includes a requirement that servicemembers report “circumstances that could pose a threat to security of U.S. personnel, DoD resources, and classified national security information.”  This Instruction could be read to require reporting of violent Islamist extremist activities by servicemembers.  However, the reporting requirements within this policy focus primarily on threats from foreign intelligence services and terrorist organizations.  As such, the policy’s main requirement is that DoD personnel report contacts with such organizations, not that they report personnel who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations.  The Department should revise its policies to ensure that servicemembers understand they have an obligation to report personnel who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations. 

Likewise, Army policies are vague regarding the extent of any obligation that Army personnel have to report other personnel who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations.  Army Pamphlet 600-15 contains a brief reference to servicemembers needing to “report specific indicators [of extremism] to the chain of command.”  But the Pamphlet does not detail an individual servicemembers’ reporting obligations or sanctions for noncompliance, and thus contrasts to the highly structured reporting obligation for subversion and espionage under Army Regulation 381-12, Subversion and Espionage Directed Against the U.S. Army (SAEDA).  However, even Army Regulation 381-12 does not appear to require that Army personnel report other personnel who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations.  For example:

•           Army Regulation 381-12’s requirements for reporting “contacts by [Army] personnel with persons whom they know or suspect to be members of or associated with…terrorist organizations” and “active attempts to encourage military or civilian employees to violate laws, disobey lawful orders or regulations, or disrupt military activities” do not seem to address servicemembers who merely exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations and do not encourage other servicemembers to take any specific actions. 

•           Army Regulation 381-12 also requires reporting of “information concerning any international or domestic terrorist activity or sabotage that poses an actual or potential threat to Army or other U.S. facilities, activities, personnel, or resources.”  However, signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations prior to any indication of terrorist activity or sabotage would not appear to trigger this reporting requirement.

Accordingly, the Army needs to revise its policies to clearly and unequivocally require that servicemembers report fellow servicemembers who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations.  Concomitantly, the Army needs to ensure that its personnel receive training that clearly outlines their obligation to report indicators of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliation.  The training should explain how such activities differ from the exercise of religious faith, including the practice of Islam.  The other Services also should clearly require that their servicemembers report signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations and provide training. 

The threat posed by servicemembers who exhibit signs of violent Islamist extremist views, behaviors, or affiliations raises both personnel and counterintelligence / subversion concerns.  The extremism policies referenced above are promulgated by the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army for Personnel while the counterintelligence/subversion policies referenced above are promulgated by the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence and the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army for Intelligence.  Senior Department and Service officials should ensure sufficient coordination between the personnel and the counterintelligence/ subversion components of their organizations to ensure that violent Islamist extremism among servicemembers is handled appropriately.

*                                 *                                 *

Clearly, violent Islamist extremism is highly distinct from Islam, and thousands of Muslim-Americans serve honorably in the military.  We believe that the changes recommended above will not serve to increase scrutiny of these servicemembers’ religious beliefs or practices or to cause tension with their colleagues.  To the contrary: we believe that the opposite will occur.  Efforts by DoD to educate its personnel concerning what violent Islamist extremism is and what the warning signs of such extremism are – as distinguished from the practice of the Islamic faith – will increase trust between the thousands of Muslim-Americans serving honorably and their colleagues.  Clear policies and training should foster greater respect for Muslim-Americans who serve in the military.  We trust that, given the sensitivity of this issue, DoD will proceed to make the revisions and changes outlined in this letter in a manner that seeks to avoid unintended consequences and interpretations of its new policies and training.

We understand that the Department’s initial review concerning the Fort Hood shooting is scheduled to conclude on January 15, 2010.  We understand that the initial review will focus on the military’s personnel evaluation system; we plan to review that system in the course of our full investigation.  We assume that the Department’s overall review will assess the adequacy of the Department’s approach to violent Islamist extremism among DoD personnel and hope that our recommendations as outlined above will be helpful to your review.  As mentioned above, we will continue our investigation and may make further recommendations in this area based on the specific facts concerning Major Hasan and any *
additional information.

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Preceding provided by Senators Lieberman and Collins