Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Contradictions, Ironies and Disgraceful Rhetoric In The Face of Failed Policies. A Tragic V.A Story. Elliott Abrams Presentation Feb. 21.

Life if full of contradictions and ironies and to make my point I want to post three. (See 1 below.)
This from a dear friend and fellow memo reader: "Why can’t Americans understand what you have written!?!  The Liberals are total hypocrites and liars, saying what they feel the need to say at any given moment no matter what opinions they have already expressed. M------"
From another old and dear friend and fellow memo reader: "One could ask if the best thing the administration was able to do about the Middle East was a 70 minute speech 3 weeks before it's exit?


It's likely an attempt to "pivot" attention from Syria and other trouble and spin it all on Israel. Lefty Jews have already embraced it....R-----"

Tuesday, February 21, is The SIRC  President's Day Dinner.  In view of recent events our speaker, Elliott Abrams, because of his experience, becomes even more an appropriate choice.

Elliott Abrams (born January 24, 1948) is a former American diplomat, lawyer and political scientist who served in foreign policy positions for U.S. PresidentsRonald Reagan and George W. Bush.
He is currently a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Abrams holds positions on the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf (CPSG), Center for Security Policy & National Secretary Advisory Council, Committee for a Free Lebanon, and the Project for the New American Century. Abrams is a current member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and teaches foreign policy at Georgetown University as well as maintaining a CFR blog called "Pressure Points" about the U.S. foreign policy and human rights. In February 2014, Abrams, a commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, gave testimony before a House congressional committee that Christians globally are the most persecuted of the world religions.

During the Reagan administration, Abrams gained notoriety for his involvement in controversial foreign policy decisions regarding Nicaragua and El Salvador. During Bush's first term, he served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs. At the start of Bush's second term, Abrams was promoted to be his Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy, in charge of promoting Bush's strategy of advancing democracy abroad. 
Erick Erickson takes over from Trump and fires Obama. (See 2 below.)

Cliff May, Jonathan Schanzer and Barney Portnoy chime in as well.   (See 2a, 2b and 2c  below.)


Carnival Cruise Line announces a once in a life time opportunity: THE CRUISE INTO EXILE

Aboard their magnificent 3,646 passenger liner the Carnival Dream, Travel with a star-studded group of celebrities as they leave our shores for the last time.

In response to the many citizens who vowed to leave the country if Donald Trump was elected President, Carnival Cruise lines is providing a unique opportunity to fulfill that pledge in style.

Passengers will have the opportunity to rub elbows with and be entertained by dozens of famous celebrities and performers who are also going into political exile.

Premier Class travelers will be invited to dine at the Captain’s table with honorary captains Jon Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg. Non-denominational religious service will be conducted daily by the Very Reverend Al Sharpton in the Paradise Lounge.  Superstars Cher, Barbra Streisand and Miley Cyrus will perform nightly in the main lounge.

Amy Schumer and Rosie O’Donnell will do stand-up comedy in the Sky Bar. Other featured guests will include Spike Lee, Bryan Cranston, Amber Rose, Samuel L. Jackson, Stephen King, Barry Diller and many, many others… among them, special guest attraction Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
So reserve your cabin now, as space is limited. Call 1-800-FLEE, that’s 1-800-3533

Disclosure and disclaimer: Carnival Cruise line is not responsible for the number of celebrities referred to above who actually join the cruise. Customers should be aware that, based on past experience, a significant number of these celebrities will be no-shows. However, it is also possible the celebrity guest list may be augmented by some late additions. Carnival Cruise is in discussions with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, IRS Commissioner Koskinen and, Veterans Administration head McDonald along with several Cabinet members and federal officials. Reverend Sharpton’s attendance is conditional upon finding someone to pay for his ticket and negotiating satisfactory fees for performing religious services.

Prospective passengers should also be aware of the fact that several celebrities have indicated they aren’t going if Rosie O’Donnell is. Barbra Streisand has indicated that she will not attend unless her stateroom is bigger than Cher’s, which could be a problem. Cher requires better accommodations than Miley Cyrus, and a separate stateroom for her two Shih Tzus.

Messrs. Jackson, Sharpton, Lee and Ms. Goldberg have joined together to insist that any armed security personnel on board should be restricted to the Caucasian decks only. This requirement could be problematic because there are, at this time, no Caucasian decks on Carnival ships. Carnival Cruise Line cannot guarantee that any of these negotiations will be successfully concluded. Passengers are also advised that in the event of significant cancellations, Carnival Cruise Lines reserves the right to substitute a smaller vessel for the Carnival Dream, down to and including the Carnival Imperial Inflatable  luxury 20 passenger Zodiacs.

The itinerary for this star-studded cruise is not as yet finalized. We will most probably begin our voyage in Los Angeles because so many of our guests reside in that area; and New York City is an obvious port of call to pick up many additional guests before permanently leaving US territorial waters. Beyond that, Justice Ginsburg wants to be dropped off in New Zealand. Amy Schumer wants to go to Spain. Samuel L. Jackson says he is “moving my to South Africa”, Jon Stewart expects to end up “on another planet”, as yet unspecified. A stop in Canada has been requested by a number of our celebrities.
(I am posting this as a public service to those still in fear President Elect Trump will destroy what is left of America that President Obama failed to wreck.  I have one friend and fellow memo reader who resides in Savannah, who may already have booked suites for himself and his family.)
We know Obama has disdain for power and thus military, notwithstanding, his flowery praise etc.

If he really cared, after 8 years, I believe he could have done more. This is a must read and is a blight on our nation.  Help begins at home. I refuse to use the word "charity."  Our veterans do not seek charity and even if they did, they have already  made the sacrifice, far too many made the ultimate sacrifice. (See 3 below.)
I posted part of this before Perry spoke, then finished after Perry spoke and before BIBI spoke.  He and, as usual,I  turn out to be on the same page.

1) Life is full of contradictions and ironies and here are three I believe/submit make my case:

a) Liberal Jews actively supported the Civil Rights Movement. Some even died for the cause.  Most young black Americans know little about the Civil Rights Movement or the part Jews played in it.

I find it ironic that America's first black president chose to stab Israel and Jews in the back.

b) For decades liberals have read and swallowed what was written in The New York Times and Washington Post as gospel. They drank the "kool aid" and even elevated it to the status of "mother's milk."

During the campaign Trump responded to a question that he might not accept the election results  etc. He was vilified by the same people, who, when Hillary lost, did every thing and more to reject and ignore the results. Even Hillary piled on in support of recounts etc. What hypocrisy.

c) Move the clock forward and these same newspapers and liberals attacked Trump for being hostile to Israel and castigated him for appointing Steve Bannon as an adviser whom they accused of being anti-Semitic.

Then, Obama, Kerry and Ben Rhodes throw Israel under the bus and not one peep from these same sources, no attribution of veiled anti-Semitism, NADA.  Just more hypocrisy?

What Obama, Kerry and Rhodes have done, by secretly orchestrating this move, to sell Israel out by taking away their land for peace bargaining chips, is to elevate The Palestinians negotiating strength  and smacks of more than veiled anti-Semitism. I do not give a fig about Obama's claim he has always been willing to arm Israel when he secretly negotiated a deal with Iran and gave them billions which will allow Iran to attain nuclear status and all in contemptuous disregard of Iran's public assertion they will annihilate Israel and are actively engaged in arming Hamas and Hezbollah.

There is unconfirmed talk, before Obama leaves office, he will also orchestrate a vote in the U.N declaring the Palestinians they are a nation state.

These three liars engaged in perfidious actions and their place in hell is reserved as well as a shelf for Obama's Nobel Peace Prize.

Meanwhile, Kerry made an impassioned speech to justify their actions . He minced no words in balancing and or equating the positive and failed acts of Palestinians and Israelis. Much of what Kerry had to say cannot be disputed. I have no illusion that Israel has done things that are wrong and fly in the face of good faith.

That said, the problem goes back to when Israel was established, attacked multiple times and has won every war. Furthermore, every Palestinian government has remained opposed to Israel's survival. Palestinian leadership has constantly been unwilling to meet without pre-conditions.  Do not forget that after Arafat agreed, in OSLO, to enter negotiations he responded with attacks on Israel (Intifada) and this drove Israeli distrust even further into the ground and nothing since has provided Israelis with encouragement.

Furthermore, it is evident no Arab nation is willing to accept Palestinians and have used the refugee plight as a wedge to keep The Middle East unbalanced and in turmoil. Why? Because it keeps attention focused on them and brings in billions of dollars.  Every time Israel made concessions there has never been a positive response and even after their withdrawal from Gaza the consequence resulted in heightened rocket attacks on their citizens.

Now Israelis are being disingenuously lectured to again by their supposed friend and are .being told -trust us.  Trust Obama and Kerry's desire to bring peace through a two state solution.   This from the men who have Syrian blood on their hands. This from two men who have lied about their actions. This from a president who has consistently lied with respect to Ben Ghazi, and a multitude of  other deceptive actions that have effected the life style of even his own American citizens.

What is the most amazing part of Kerry's speech is that he acknowledges the Arab World is now anxious to work with Israel because of their fear and concern about Iran's rising shadow which Obama and Kerry helped bring about.

Ironically, Israel is being told by Kerry that Israel's military strength and power and economic clout has encouraged Arab nations to realize their own safety relates to peace with Israel.  This from the two men who made a secret deal with Iran.

Israeli distrust is born out of an accumulation of Arab actions which have killed so many of their people, the constant call on the part of Palestinian Leadership for the destruction of Israel and their continued willingness to educate future generations to hate Israelis. This from a leadership that names streets after 'martyrs' who have killed Israelis..

Once again, Obama, operating through Kerry, believes rhetoric, to assuage a perfidious act, will work. Obama has always resorted to meaningless words to rectify a dire mess much of which occurred because of his own failures and cowardice.

Maybe Kerry's long speech will be bought but I am not buying and why now?

What I heard was too much explaining of bad decisions. The Middle East is in flames and as Obama departs he seems compelled to toss more gasoline on the pyre. Throwing Israel under the U.N bus is not the forum to establish an agreement between Israel and The Palestinians, unless you want to ignore the U.N's ugly anti-Semitic history, but then Sec. Kerry was never accused of being too bright. He has always been a lackey and nothing he said today, even though he spoke some truths, changes my view.

You decide.
2) The Moral Cowardice of Barack Obama and John Kerry

For eight years, Barack Obama has given lip service to our special relationship with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and our long time ally. During that time, the United States has opposed anti-Israel efforts in the United Nations, standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel. But with less than four weeks before he leaves office, Barack Obama finally worked with Israel’s enemies to pass a United Nations resolution hostile to Israel.
This is an act of moral cowardice and immaturity the likes of which Barack Obama thinks only Donald Trump is capable of.
Nothing has changed in our relationship with Israel in the past several years. Obama has been increasingly hostile toward Israeli interests, but he has maintained a facade of friendship. Nothing has changed. The only thing that has changed is how much longer Barack Obama has in office and the fact that voters will never again see him on a ballot.
Today, with less than three weeks to go before they depart, John Kerry intends to give a speech offering a “comprehensive vision” on Middle East peace. He is allegedly expected to recognize a Palestinian state — something no American administration, including this one, has done.
Doing so three weeks before departing office does nothing but create headaches for an incoming administration by an outgoing administration too cowardly to do this before now.
It is not leadership to wait till you have one foot out the door to be bold. It is reckless cowardice and a descent into stereotype of Trumpism this administration believes. Turning nearly a half-century of American foreign policy on its head in the literal final weeks of a Presidency is not competent leadership, but childish petulance.
Childish petulance, however, is Barack Obama’s legacy. His childish petulance, though he may never admit it, gave rise to Donald Trump, who is Obama’s ultimate

2a)Throwing Israel to the U.N.’s wolves
Obama encourages Israel’s enemies, caliphate-builders among them

Palestinian Islamic Jihad is, as its name suggests, an organization committed to jihad – against Israel most urgently, though not exclusively. So when the U.N. Security Council on Friday passed a resolution condemning Israel, PIJ spokesman Dawood Shihab was pleased. He called it a “victory.” He wasn’t wrong.

Nor was Fawzy Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, another organization openly committed to Israel’s extermination, as well as to “a jihadi revolution” that will bea “prelude to the establishment of the future Islamic caliphate.” He called the resolution an “important evolution in international positions.” He expressed Hamas’ “appreciation.”

Most deserving of their gratitude is Barack Obama who decided to spend his last days in office playing golf in Hawaii and throwing America’s most reliable ally to the wolves at the U.N., an organization that exhibits passivity when it comes to the ongoing carnage in Syria, the genocide of Christians, Yazidis and other minorities in the broader Middle East, the conflict in Yemen, failing states – the list goes on and on.

The U.N. does, however, expend considerable energy railing against the world’s only Jewish state, a tiny democratic nation on the front lines of the war against radical Islam, a war the West is fighting in only the most desultory fashion. This year alone, the U.N. General Assembly passed 20 resolutions censuring Israel, compared to one against Iran and none against Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Venezuela and China. With assistance from President Obama, who instructed his ambassador not to veto Resolution 2334, the Security Council has now piled on as well.

For decades, Democrats and Republicans have agreed that it would be “unwise” to give the Security Council the responsibility “to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians.” Those words were spoken by Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s first ambassador to the U.N., when, following his instructions in 2011, she blocked a similar resolution. But back then Mr. Obama still had one more presidential election to win so antagonizing Israel’s supporters may have seemed ill-advised.

Perhaps that’s unfair. Perhaps Mr. Obama sincerely believes that a two-state solution could be achieved if only Israel would withdraw from the “occupied territories.” If so, he’s ignoring both history and experience. Start with the fact that Arab, Muslim and Palestinian leaders first rejected a two-state solution back in 1948 – almost a generation before Israelis took possession of the West Bank and Gaza.

Those lands fell to Israel as a consequence of the 1967 war, one of several attempts by Israel’s neighbors to drive the despised Jews into the sea. It was from Jordan and Egypt respectively that Israel took those territories. Palestinians had never governed them.
But that led to a bright idea: Why not trade land for peace with the Palestinians? With President Bill Clinton serving as honest broker, specific offers were put on the table in 2000 and then again in 2001. Another offer was proffered in 2008. Palestinians leaders turned them down. They made no counteroffers. 

In 2005, an experiment was conducted: Israelis withdrew from one of the occupied territories. Within two years, Hamas was firmly in charge of Gaza from which it began launching missiles at Israeli villages. Israelis learned a lesson.

The “international community” did not. On the contrary, President Obama and the U.N. Security Council have just told the Israelis that they envision a land-for-peace deal that omits the peace part.

Meanwhile, on the West Bank, only thanks to Israel’s military and intelligence presence (read: occupation) does Fatah maintain its hold on power. Mahmoud Abbas, who leads both Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, is no wild-eyed jihadi. But, he, too, refuses to acknowledge the right of Jews to self-determination in any part of their ancient homeland.
Resolution 2334 demands nothing of Palestinians. Its definition of “occupied territory” is extreme, including even the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Conquered in 1949 by Jordan’s Arab Legion, it was then “cleansed” of Jews. Synagogues and cemeteries were destroyed. Jewish holy places were desecrated. The U.N., of course, did nothing.
Look at the map: Across North Africa and the Middle East, from Morocco to Pakistan, there is only one state not ruled by Muslims, only one in which minorities – ethnic, religious, sexual -- are guaranteed basic human rights. The dream of PIJ, Hamas, the Islamic State, the Islamic Republic of Iran and other Islamic revolutionaries is to destroy that exceptional state, to incorporate it into a new empire – an empire that, over time, is to expand well beyond the region.

Mr. Obama has now encouraged that dream. That will be his legacy. And he still has a few weeks left to do more damage. I wouldn’t put it past him.

The day before the UN vote, President-elect Trump stated what President Obama once claimed to believe, that “peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians will only come through direct negotiations between the parties, and not through the imposition of terms by the United Nations.” After the vote, he added: “As to the U.N., things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

His nominee for ambassador, David Friedman, has proposed moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. That would be an appropriate response to this latest provocation.

Among the additional measures Mr. Trump will consider: dramatically reducing American funding for the U.N. Like other transnational progressives, Mr. Obama regards the U.N. as a proto-global government. Mr. Trump, an anti-globalist, does not.

It will be useful for him to emphasize that so long as he’s in the White House, America’s sovereignty will not be surrendered to transnational organizations, America’s tax dollars will not be squandered on transnational organizations, America’s enemies will not be rewarded and America’s allies will be abused no longer.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a columnist for the Washington Times.


Team Obama is not done slamming Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fuming over President Obama’s abstention in last week’s anti-Israel vote at the United Nations. Israelis warn Obama may have even more in store for the Jewish state before he leaves office.
Here’s why they might be right.
Since September, if not well before that, Obama has been weighing a menu of possible actions to hammer Israel before leaving office. I know this because US officials openly admitted this to me. Indeed, they were almost boasting about it.
This is what we know of the options on Obama’s menu:
The first was recognizing a Palestinian state. Mohammed Shtayyeh, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, called upon Obama to do this in The New York Times on Oct. 26. His piece was titled, “How to Save Obama’s Legacy in Palestine.” The piece didn’t receive much attention at the time, given that such a move would fly in the face of decades of US policy.
Another option, as we now know, was to push for a resolution that took Israel to task for building settlements. Administration officials insisted that it wouldn’t allow for such a measure if it lacked “balance.” Apparently, last week’s resolution, which denied Israel’s right to the Western Wall, somehow met that criteria.
Obama was also mulling a “parameters resolution” at the United Nations, which would lay out the president’s complete vision for a two-state solution — including everything from borders and Jerusalem to refugees and settlements. This seemed like a particularly tall order, given how difficult it can be for UN member states to agree on such complex issues — especially in such a short amount of time.
In the event Obama couldn’t get traction at the United Nations, he had the option of a formal speech — the “Obama Parameters” — to delineate his full vision for the two-state solution and, at least in his view, have that speech endure as a milestone for future negotiations.
Finally, the president was reportedly mulling punitive measures against Israel, either by sanctions or new guidance at the IRS. The goal, it appeared, was to deny 501c3 tax-deductible status to US-based organizations that funded settlement construction. A US official confirmed to me that he was tasked with exploring sanctions opportunities, but found the prospect “legally challenging.”
Interestingly, in an Oct. 6 press release, the controversial left-wing J Street lobby, which reportedly has good access to the Obama White House, openly called for denying “tax-deductible treatment for donations to NGOS that advance settlement expansion.”
Fast forward to Obama’s UN abstention last week — which his UN ambassador Samantha Power bizarrely tried to spin as pro-Israel in her speech after the vote. The media billed this as Obama’s “parting shot,” implying that this was his administration’s last slap at Netanyahu after eight years of antagonism.
But there’s no reason to think Obama isn’t considering at least one of the other menu options — if not three.
Secretary of State John Kerry (not Obama) is now set to deliver a final speech on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The Israelis fear that this speech would present pre-packaged solutions for the thorniest negotiating issues, including borders and Jerusalem, making bilateral negotiations unnecessary for the Palestinians, who would get most of what they want. Israel’s diplomatic leverage would be obliterated.
But wait, there’s more. Israel’s Channel 2 and the Times of Israel now report that Netanyahu fears Obama will take these parameters to the UN to be ratified by the international community.
And new reports suggest that Obama is preparing to recognize a Palestinian state at the Security Council.
The dangers of these final two moves cannot be overstated. They are tantamount to a green light for the Palestinians to launch, through diplomacy, lawfare or violence, a war to claim what Obama granted them. They would also set the stage for a tsunami of Arab and European delegitimization or economic-warfare efforts that the Israelis would be forced to battle for years to come.
Netanyahu has understandably reached out to President-elect Donald Trump, hoping he’ll intervene. Trump can and apparently will try to mitigate the damage Obama has wrought — both before and after he becomes president.
The goal now for Team Trump is to come up with its own menu of options, both to protect America’s only reliable Middle East ally from Obama’s vicious broadside and to devise punitive measures against those who colluded with him. They should start by taking a hard look at the United Nations, the countries that voted in favor of Obama’s parting shots and even those shameful elements of the US bureaucracy that are all too willing, under any administration, to gang up on the Jewish state.
Jonathan Schanzer is vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

2c) Top US Jewish Leader: Obama Administration Might Take ‘Further Damaging Step’ Against Israel Before Trump Inauguration

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

After the passage of an anti-settlement UN Security Council resolution last week, it is possible the Obama administration will take a “further damaging step” against Israel before President-elect Donald Trump takes office next month, a top US Jewish leader told The Algemeiner on Tuesday.

“We need to prepare for every option,” Malcolm Hoenlein — the executive vice chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations — said.

Of particular concern, Hoenlein noted, is an upcoming French-sponsored international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process — set to be held in Paris on Jan. 15.

“That could produce a document that could then be brought to the Security Council for an immediate vote,” Hoenlein cautioned. “There could also be a Quartet meeting in Paris or elsewhere and they could come up with a framework or plan that could be presented to the Security Council. The US had opposed the French initiative, but may now embrace it. In addition, Sweden is taking the chair of the Security Council [on Jan. 1] and has said repeatedly that it wanted to pass the [anti-settlement] resolution during its tenure, and it may seek to pass an additional one.”

“I don’t believe there’ll be a resolution creating a Palestinian state, but there could be one laying out the parameters of what an agreement would look like,” Hoenlein went on to say. “This would further preempt the chance for any real direct negotiations.”

Furthermore, Hoenlein said, US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected deliver a speech on the Israeli-Palestinian issue in the near future and “there could also be an address by the president laying out his record on Israel and his view of an agreement.”

In terms of thwarting any such potential moves, Hoenlein said, “Messages from members of Congress about the price the UN will pay are important. Also, I think the across-the-board response [to last week’s resolution], with many Democratic senators expressing themselves in very strong ways, sent a powerful message to the Obama administration about any additional steps.”

Trump, Hoenlein pointed out, “has weighed in, but I hope he will send strong messages or at least put down markers, so that countries will think twice about the price that would be paid for continued provocations. This resolution, in fact, limits the prospects for his administration.”

Looking ahead to the post-Obama era, Hoenlein said, “We can’t rescind the resolution, but we have to work to, for instance, stop the Palestinians from going to the International Criminal Court, which the US has helped prevent in the past. We have to try to limit the damage until other measures can be considered that would counteract the resolution.”

“There are a lot of other things being contemplated, whether it’s country-specific actions or things of a more general nature, that have to be carefully considered, and we have to think both about the impact and the backlash,” he continued. “This is not something you just rush into. It shouldn’t be an emotional response.”
Also, Hoenlein stated.

“We need to reiterate the facts and do much more to assert the legitimacy of Israel’s position.”
Recalling last week’s events, Hoenlein said, “We had heard in the days before [the vote] that there was a possibility of a US abstention and increasingly it became a likelihood, although we worked until the last minute for that not to be the case. I can tell you that some key members of the administration involved in foreign affairs, were not clued in and did not know Friday morning what the decision would be. This was kept within a very closed circle, primarily in the White House around President Obama. However, Secretary Kerry is reported to have promoted the resolution for some time.”

“The ramifications of this will be with us for a long time,” Hoenlein emphasized. “This could be on par with the ‘Zionism is racism’ resolution, but this is in the Security Council, not the General Assembly. It really carries potentially serious implications.”

The US abstention, according to Hoenlein, marked a “betrayal of the fundamentals of the special relationship and President Obama’s own promises he made during his tenure including that he would protect Israel at the UN and not leave it isolated. This will tarnish President Obama’s legacy. For those who felt all along that he was hostile to Israel, this will be seen as vindicating their view, and for many others who did not share that outlook, they are now very critical.”

Obama’s presidency, Hoenlein added, will be “book ended by the unfortunate, misinformed and even counterproductive speech in Cairo and the vote at the UN.”

Regarding the reaction of American Jews to the Security Council vote, Hoenlein said, “People are frustrated and many are angry. These feelings are very widespread in the Jewish community, probably much more than the Obama administration anticipated. It was such a public affront and went so far that even those who were not generally settlement supporters came out against the resolution.”

With 2016 coming to an end and Inauguration Day approaching, Hoenlein said, “The most pressing issue facing all of us is still Iran and its growing regional aggressiveness and expanding footprint. It remains a threat to Israel, the entire region and the whole world.”

Our Postwar Trauma at the VA

My husband was blinded in Iraq. At the VA rehab center, he was given books on cassette. Cassettes!

Former Army Maj. Scotty Smiley and his wife Tiffany.ENLARGE
Former Army Maj. Scotty Smiley and his wife Tiffany. PHOTO: AMBER GLANVILLE
On an April day in Iraq in 2005, my husband’s world went black.
It came by way of a suicide car bomb. In one second, all the plans we had—for a military career, children and a happy life—seemed to go out the window. Quickly we learned that the 
federal bureaucracy, including the Department of Veterans Affairs, that would determine 
so much of our future was not up to the job.
My first encounter with the military bureaucracy came days after I arrived at Walter Reed
 to see Scotty, a West Point graduate, after he’d been flown in from Iraq. This was the 
other side of the country for me, away from everything and everyone I knew. I was 
supposed to be on “orders” and receiving a stipend for food, but somewhere along the 
way someone filled out the form incorrectly. The man I spoke to said that it would be a 
huge hassle to try to fix it, which seemed ridiculous in light of all that had happened, but I
 just accepted what he told me.
We got by on Scotty’s first lieutenant pay and the generosity of friends and family. But 
there has to be a better way for our federal government to make it easier for the spouses, 
parents and siblings who have to quit their jobs and forfeit their livelihoods to care for an 
injured veteran.
My next challenge came when we entered the world of rehabilitation for the blind. 
Scotty was 24-years-old and had his whole life ahead of him. I knew he needed a center 
that would teach him new things, challenge him and give him the confidence that he 
would once again be a contributing member of society. We were promised customized 
care at a blind rehab center. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was clear that no one 
was ready to rehabilitate post 9-11 warriors.
Here’s an example. We kept asking for computer training because we knew that 
technology and computers were going to be key to a future of dignity and productivity 
for Scotty. So imagine how appalled I was when I was informed that computer training 
came last—behind belt braiding and woodshop. Also, he was given books on cassette. 
Meanwhile, a wonderful church community in Georgia sent Scotty an iPod with tons of 
books and music already downloaded on it. What a lifesaver that was. It helped give 
Scotty hope that his future was not going to be braided belts and cassette tapes.
It should not be this hard.
Once retired, Scotty spent most of his days filling out paperwork to get VA grants that 
were offered—things like housing grants to adapt our home to be safer and more efficient
 for him. After spending a month filling out these forms and searching for and contacting 
the right people, my husband was informed that he was not eligible for the largest grant 
because although 100% disabled and completely blind he needed to be missing a limb as 
well to qualify. Needless to say we shredded the forms and chalked it up to another 
government promise that would never become reality.
In a world where technology is making almost all aspects of life easier, why isn’t there a 
website, a liaison, or an advocate to fill out government paperwork and get deserving 
veterans the benefits they were promised and deserved? When I asked for help, someone suggested we hire a lawyer.
Most recently, Scotty had an infection that needed emergency care. Upon arriving at the 
VA emergency room, which was packed, I noticed that there were at least four people 
behind the counter for paperwork. They informed us it would be a four to five hour wait 
to see a doctor.
As Scotty’s wife and caregiver, I quickly had to navigate staying with Scotty and a 3-
year-old in a VA ER waiting room for five hours, then having to leave him so I could be 
home to get our kids off the bus only to return and pick Scotty up later. I was left 
wondering, what if I could not have left Scotty?
At every turn in this experience, this army wife has been asked to give more and more. 
Don’t get me wrong: It is an honor to serve and be a hero to a hero. But often I find 
myself thinking about the soldier who does not have an advocate. What about the private 
who does not have a spouse?
We’ve been running our own business now for about six years, and I know that any 
business would fail with these VA kinds of policies. We’re fortunate that we have options
 others do not. We bought his first talking phone, and now his iPhone that he uses like 
any other sighted individual; this solution worked for us, but I know there are many 
families that wouldn’t be able to afford to buy those things.
Our men and women who have sacrificed on the battlefield deserve better when they 
come home. So unlike others who worry that our new president is a businessman, this 
background gives me hope. Because unlike most federal agencies, the VA is primarily 
about dealing with people—customers. If Donald Trump hopes to make America great 
again, a good start would be making the VA run more like a business, and giving the 
customer what the customer needs.
Mrs. Smiley is a caregiver, writer and motivational speaker.

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