Thursday, March 16, 2017

Andy Falk - What Happened? Is Ryan and His Party Busily Engaged in Killing The Golden Opportunity Goose. Kim Thinks Not.


Family off to St Patrick's Day Parade and Blake After The Parade



a
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I have mentioned this in the past but when I posted the article on the U.N's continued indictment of Israel, Thursday evening, I forgot to mention the author was Richard "Andy" Falk, my college fraternity brother.  When and why Andy became a hateful anti- Israel Jew, I do not know.  I remember he was very  bright, somewhat withdrawn.  Perhaps during his post college days he fell on his head.

"That it was drafted by Richard Falk, a man who has repeatedly made biased and deeply offensive comments about Israel and espoused ridiculous conspiracy theories, including about the 9/11 terrorist attacks, is equally unsurprising. The United States stands with our ally Israel and will continue to oppose biased and anti-Israel actions across the U.N. system and around the world."
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Ryan's blind spot? 

I have made the same comment about Ryan that Kraushaar makes. Ryan is a solid policy wonk who might be missing the big picture. 

Is Ryan leading his disunited House into a wall and leaving  those who voted for Republicans scratching their head and asking how self-destructive can they be? Republicans have a once in a lifetime opportunity to produce a health care bill that is vastly better than Obamacare. What have they been doing for the last seven years? Did they think they would never be in office again? Why did they wait to resolve the issues that divide them until now?

Republicans need to set our nation on a fiscally sane course.  They have an enviable chance to "Make America Better."  So what are they doing? They are fighting among themselves, demonstrating they are incapable of governing and thus, appearing foolish. 

Will Republican politicians prove they are excellent at slaying the golden opportunity goose?

I do believe no Republican wants their finger prints on legislation defeating a Republican Health Care Bill.

My friend, Kim, thinks otherwise. Instead, what she sees is a return to old fashion politics which means heavy arm twisting, pressured negotiations and trade-offs.

Let her words reach God's ears.(See 1, 1a, 1b and 1c below.)
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Pelosi continues to believe Russians have a strangle hold on Trump and, therefore, wants him to release all his tax returns.

My advice to Pelosi: you need to impeach Trump first so you can learn what you needed to know afterwards just like you told us to do  when you rammed Obamacare down the nation's throat along while lying about keeping our doctor.
+++ 
Don't widen the plate. Simple but profound. (See 2 below.)
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Are Iran and N Korea serious? (See 3, 3a and 3b below.)

Meanwhile:

Last night, the Israeli Air Force conducted an operation inside Syria. In response, the Syrian government launched anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli planes. While the jets were able to evade the threat, the missiles were headed toward the Israeli home front. 

However, thanks to your work with Congress and investment in AIPAC, Israel was able to use one of the most advanced missile defense technologies in active military service to intercept an incoming missile. The Arrow missile defense system was used for the first time, and the threat was eliminated. 

In 2016, you helped secure $146 million for the Arrow program, as part of $487 million in U.S.-Israel missile defense funding. In total, the United States has provided more than $2.5 billion for the Arrow program since 1990. 

As the threats persist, we will remain ever more determined to keep Israel and the Israeli people safe. We are currently lobbying Congress to ensure Israel receives the $600.7 million in missile defense funding for fiscal year 2017—funds it needs to defend itself from a growing array of rocket and missile threats. These funds will support the next generation of the Arrow system, in addition to the Iron Dome and David Sling’s systems. 

Thank you for helping ensure we have the resources to lobby Congress to fund critical programs like Arrow. Today's news wouldn't have happened without your commitment to our work together.   

Mark Kleinman 
AIPAC Southeastern States Director 

===
A U.S president finally gets tough with the U.N. (See 4 below.)
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Dick
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1)

Paul Ryan’s Political Blind Spot

By pushing through an Obamacare replacement that has little support with the public or his caucus, he’s risking a major political backlash against the GOP.


House Speak­er Paul Ry­an is a bril­liant policy wonk, but he seems ob­li­vi­ous to the pop­u­list polit­ic­al forces that pro­pelled Don­ald Trump to the pres­id­ency. And after this month’s dis­play of un­even health care sales­man­ship by the White House, it’s not clear that Trump ap­pre­ci­ates how the speak­er’s health care le­gis­la­tion threatens to ali­en­ate the work­ing-class voters who provided his nar­row mar­gin of vic­tory in last year’s pres­id­en­tial elec­tion.


The emer­ging mess over selling Ry­an’s ver­sion of health care re­form is ex­pos­ing an un­pleas­ant polit­ic­al real­ity for the fisc­ally re­spons­ible wing of the Re­pub­lic­an Party: People like free stuff, and it’s aw­fully dif­fi­cult to take en­ti­tle­ments away after they’re gran­ted. Ry­an’s en­tire ca­reer has been based on the sunny be­lief that well-in­ten­tioned re­forms have a siz­able con­stitu­ency of voters wor­ried about budget-bust­ing gov­ern­ment giveaways. But there’s a long trail of evid­ence that points the oth­er way. Just look at Trump’s win­ning cam­paign mes­sage, unique for a Re­pub­lic­an, pledging to pro­tect en­ti­tle­ments.
Pres­id­ent George W. Bush learned that the hard way when he tackled
So­cial Se­cur­ity re­form at the be­gin­ning of his second term. Al­though Bush claimed a man­date from his reelec­tion, many nervous Re­pub­lic­ans quickly de­fec­ted as Demo­crats ef­fect­ively ex­ploited voter anxi­ety about privat­iz­ing a long-stand­ing pub­lic pro­gram. In 2012, when Ry­an was tapped as Mitt Rom­ney’s run­ning mate, Rom­ney dis­tanced him­self from the “Path to Prosper­ity” budget blue­print that Ry­an had cham­pioned in the House. That didn’t stop Demo­crats from slam­ming the tick­et for sup­port­ing cuts to Medi­care—one ma­jor reas­on why the Rom­ney-Ry­an tick­et ran poorly among work­ing-class voters, es­pe­cially in the Mid­west­ern swing states that would go on to sup­port Trump in 2016.
Even Pres­id­ent Obama’s sig­na­ture health care le­gis­la­tion cre­ated both polit­ic­al win­ners and losers, which is the main reas­on it be­came such a po­lar­iz­ing law. Polit­ic­ally speak­ing, its fatal flaw was that it re­dis­trib­uted be­ne­fits from the young to the old, and from the wealthy to the poor. It placed in­flex­ible man­dates on young­er Amer­ic­ans and small busi­nesses, while rais­ing premi­ums for many who bought in­sur­ance on the in­di­vidu­al mar­ket. All that dis­rup­tion came at a massive polit­ic­al cost, in­clud­ing both cham­bers of Con­gress.
So it’s sur­pris­ing that Ry­an didn’t pick up any polit­ic­al les­sons des­pite hav­ing a front-row seat to ap­praise the de­fects of Obama­care. For all the at­ten­tion be­ing paid to the 29 dis­rupt­ive Free­dom Caucus mem­bers in the House, it’s the 36 Re­pub­lic­an mem­bers in com­pet­it­ive dis­tricts who are much more im­port­ant to the speak­er’s fu­ture. While many are re­main­ing tight-lipped now, there’s palp­able nervous­ness that they’re be­ing forced to cast a polit­ic­ally pois­on­ous vote for le­gis­la­tion that has little chance of passing through the Sen­ate.
Re­mem­ber: It’s the House that is po­ten­tially in play for 2018, not the Sen­ate. Ry­an is risk­ing his party’s com­fort­able con­trol of the lower cham­ber on a bet that re­peal­ing and re­pla­cing Obama­care is the top pri­or­ity for Amer­ic­ans. And he’s do­ing it without en­er­get­ic back­ing from Pres­id­ent Trump, and without even at­tempt­ing to win over red-state Demo­crats up for reelec­tion in 2018.
Rep. Dar­rell Issa of Cali­for­nia, re­garded as the most vul­ner­able House Re­pub­lic­an, has already come out against the le­gis­la­tion in its cur­rent form. Sen. Tom Cot­ton of Arkan­sas, one of the most pro-Trump voices in the Sen­ate, has been an out­spoken con­ser­vat­ive crit­ic of Ry­an’s plan. It’s no co­in­cid­ence that his home state has seen the largest re­duc­tion in the un­in­sured between 2013 and 2015. Sen. Shel­ley Moore Capito of West Vir­gin­ia, rep­res­ent­ing the Trumpi­est state in the coun­try, was one of the first four GOP sen­at­ors to cri­ti­cize the Ry­an le­gis­la­tion over con­cerns about Medi­caid fund­ing.
The fact that the cri­ti­cisms are com­ing from states where Trump won over­whelm­ingly should be es­pe­cially con­cern­ing to the White House. The most out­spoken sen­at­ori­al crit­ics of Ry­an’s le­gis­la­tion hail from Ohio, Ken­tucky, Arkan­sas, Texas, West Vir­gin­ia, and Utah—all solidly GOP states in last year’s elec­tion. The fact that eco­nom­ic self-in­terest is trump­ing polit­ic­al par­tis­an­ship on this is­sue should be a ma­jor red flag to Re­pub­lic­ans. In fact, a new Demo­crat­ic sur­vey of Obama-Trump voters (con­duc­ted by An­za­lone-Liszt Grove Re­search) found that 58 per­cent of them viewed Obama­care fa­vor­ably. This is the new GOP con­stitu­ency that cham­pioned Trump’s pop­u­lism but nev­er was com­fort­able with tra­di­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an or­tho­doxy.
As one de­jec­ted Demo­crat­ic poll­ster told me after the elec­tion: “The only way we can win back Obama-Trump voters is on Planned Par­ent­hood cuts or if they over­ reach on health care.” The GOP strategy is play­ing right in­to Demo­crat­ic hands. It’s the equi­val­ent of the At­lanta Fal­cons get­ting pass-happy des­pite hold­ing a 25-point lead over the New Eng­land Pat­ri­ots in the Su­per Bowl. The GOP’s polit­ic­al max­im should be akin to the Hip­po­crat­ic Oath: First, do no harm. In­stead, they are en­dan­ger­ing their most vul­ner­able mem­bers.

1a) The Republican ObamaCare Choke

If they blow health-care reform, why would anyone vote Republican again?



President Trump meets with House committee leaders at the White House, March 10.
President Trump meets with House committee leaders at the White House, March 10. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Less than three months into full control of government and the chance to reshape the 
American system for a generation, Republicans are doing something no one thought 
possible: They are reinventing the circular firing squad.
Even a politician of such limitless cynicism as Chuck Schumer is agog: “We are on 
offense and united. They are on defense and divided, the opposite of what people would 
have predicted a month or two ago.”
Maybe in politics, genes really are destiny. Under pressure from a CBO “score,” the 
genetic disposition of Republican politicians is to go wobbly. The disposition of 
movement conservatives is to get out the long knives and start carving up other 
conservatives.
The result will be guaranteed political defeat for years if congressional Republicans 
choke at the chance to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
The Beltway bubble has never looked so big or real as now, to wit: The Trump-Ryan-
Price health-care reform bill is too tough on Medicaid. Or it isn’t tough enough. It will 
break the Trump entitlement bond with the middle class. We want the 2015 repeal-only 
bill. Let ObamaCare collapse. What’s the rush? We can do this reform some other time.
The American people didn’t endure and survive the 2016 presidential election for this. 
The public that voted Donald Trump into the White House will drive Republicans into a 
deserved wilderness if they go back on the only promise anyone can remember them 
making the past six years.
The day the Republicans clutch on this reform, there will be six-column headlines across 
the Washington Post and New York Times: “Trump Abandons Promises on Health Care.”
It will be a fast ride downhill from there. That is because the health-care reform bill is 
linked inextricably to the politics of tax reform, the second pillar of the Trump legislative 
agenda.
The CBO score gifted the Republicans with $1 trillion in savings over a decade from the 
adjusted spending baseline, a number that would carry forward into the score for the tax 
bill, enabling the lower tax rates on income and capital that will lift the economy. 
(Remember that promise?)
The cruder political point is that if health-care reform fails under media-driven Beltway 
pressure, the same timid people will next block the historic tax-reform bill with the same 
tactics. They will peck it to death with misgivings. Political courage used to have a 
post election shelf life of about 12 months. Now it has the life cycle of a moth.
The logic is inescapable of what will happen if reform of both health care and taxes goes 
out with a whimper. As President Trump’s political capital and approval decline under a 
barrage of media-payback glee, and as the clock moves closer to the midterm election, Republicans will head for the tall weeds on everything. The Trump presidency will be 
over in under a year.
The conservative “friends” counseling Mr. Trump to give up now on health-care reform 
will move overnight to the next darling, say, Sen. Mike Lee who wrote on the Heritage Foundation’s blog Monday that Republicans should vote for repeal only and “take our 
time” on reform.
In the wake of repeal only, the U.S. health insurance market would be reduced to a 
shambles. After that, the next major party will be the Libertarians, because the GOP will 
be defunct. Maybe that’s what cable-TV star Rand Paul is up to.
An important separation may be occurring with this bill. On one side you have the status 
quo. It’s not just the American Medical Association and others who created the Obama-
Care that failed and want its replacement to fail. The status quo is also the activist groups 
and pundits whose status and power are tied to keeping their opinions first and all else 
second.
Across from this status quo that is the one real thing that drove the 2016 election: the 
voting public’s desire for change. The 2016 election seemed like a radical upheaval, but 
it was mainly a cry for a restoration.
That means restoring the balance of power between the branches of government that was 
undone by Barack Obama. When some members of Congress say they “won’t vote” for 
the health-care bill, what they are saying is: “Let’s negotiate. I want something for my 
vote.” Mr. Trump’s personal willingness to do business with his opposition restores this 
normal reality to American politics.
The election was also about resetting the balance of authority between Washington and 
the states—a key goal of this reform’s Medicaid provisions. The Democrats are united in opposition because they’ve become a rule-from-Washington party. But the Republicans?
If this bill fails, there is only one Plan B. It will be a single-payer system enacted after 
2020 with votes from what’s left of the Republican party after—Donald Trump is right 
about this—they get wiped out in 2018 and lose the presidency two years later. After 
blowing it on ObamaCare, why would anyone vote for them again?

1b) The real world of Obamacare repeal
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, but for governments it’s not that easy. Once 
something is given — say, health insurance coverage to 20 million Americans — you take 
it away at your peril. This is true for any government benefit, but especially for health 
care. There’s a reason not one Western democracy with some system of national health 
care has ever abolished it.

The genius of the left is to keep enlarging the entitlement state by creating new 
giveaways that are politically impossible to repeal. For 20 years, Republicans railed 
against the New Deal. Yet, when they came back into office in 1953, Eisenhower didn’t 
just keep Social Security, he expanded it.

People hated Obamacare for its highhandedness, incompetence and cost. At the same 
time, its crafters took great care to create new beneficiaries and new expectations. 
Which makes repeal very complicated.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that, under House Speaker Paul Ryan’s 
Obamacare replacement bill, 24 million will lose insurance within 10 years, 14 million 
after the first year.

Granted, the number is highly suspect. CBO projects 18 million covered by the 
Obamacare exchanges in 2018. But the number today is about 10 million. That means 
the CBO estimate of those losing coverage is already about 8 million too high.

Nonetheless, there will be losers. And their stories will be plastered wall to wall across 
the media as sure as night follows day.

That scares GOP moderates. And yet the main resistance to Ryan comes from 
conservative members complaining that the bill is not ideologically pure enough. They 
mock it as Obamacare Lite.

For example, Ryan wants to ease the pain by phasing out Medicaid expansion through 
2020. The conservative Republican Study Committee wants it done next year. This is 
crazy. For the sake of two years’ savings, why would you risk a political crash landing?

Moreover, the idea that you can eradicate Obamacare root and branch is fanciful. For all 
its catastrophic flaws, Obamacare changed expectations. Does any Republican propose 
returning to a time when you can be denied health insurance because of a preexisting 
condition?

It’s not just Donald Trump who ran on retaining this new, yes, entitlement. Everyone did. 
But it’s very problematic. If people know that they can sign up for insurance after they get
sick, the very idea of insurance is undermined. People won’t sign up when healthy, and 
the insurance companies will go broke.

So what do you do? Obamacare imposed a monetary fine if you didn’t sign up, for which 
the Ryan bill substitutes another mechanism, less heavy-handed but still government-
mandated.

The purists who insist upon entirely escaping the heavy hand of government are 
dreaming. The best you can hope for is to make it less intrusive and more rational, as in 
the Ryan plan’s block-granting Medicaid.

Or instituting a more realistic age-rating system. Older patients use six times as much 
health care as their younger counterparts, yet Obamacare decreed, entirely arbitrarily,
that the former could be charged insurance premiums no more than three times that of 
the latter. The GOP bill changes the ratio from 3-to-1 to 5-to-1.

Premiums better reflecting risk constitute a major restoration of rationality. (It’s how life insurance works.) Under Obamacare, the young were unwilling to be swindled and 
refused to sign up. Without their support, the whole system is thus headed into a death 
spiral of looming insolvency.

Rationality, however, has a price. The CBO has already predicted a massive increase in 
premiums for 60-year-olds. That’s the headline.

There is no free lunch. GOP hard-liners must accept that Americans have become 
accustomed to some new health-care benefits, just as moderates have to brace 
themselves for stories about the inevitable losers in any reform. That’s the political price
for fulfilling the seven-year promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare.

Unless, of course, you go the full Machiavelli and throw it all back on the Democrats. 
How? Republicans could forget about meeting the arcane requirements of
“reconciliation” legislation (which requires only 51 votes in the Senate) and send the 
Senate a replacement bill loaded up with everything conservative — including tort 
reform and insurance competition across state lines. That would require 60 Senate 
votes. Let the Democrats filibuster it to death — and take the blame when repeal-and-
replace fails and Obamacare carries on and then collapses under its own weight.

Upside: You reap the backlash. Downside: You have to live with your conscience.


1c)The Republicans Relearn Politics




The health-care bill is far from dead, and a contentious debate is a sign of vigor.


House Speaker Paul Ryan in the U.S. Capitol, March 13.
House Speaker Paul Ryan in the U.S. Capitol, March 13. PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
With a hat-tip to Mark Twain, reports of the death of the Republican health-care bill have 
been greatly, vastly, even bigly exaggerated. What we are witnessing isn’t a legislative 
demise, but the rebirth of a long-lost Washington concept: politics.
From the moment Speaker Paul Ryan unveiled his ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill, 
the media have declared it a doomed project. The newspapers have run out of synonyms 
for division, disunity, discord, conflict, struggle, mess. Since the only thing the media 
enjoy more than bashing Republicans is helping Republicans bash each other, the cable 
stations have offered a nonstop loop of a handful of GOP naysayers and grandstanders 
(cue Rand Paul) who wish the bill ill.
Perhaps the talking heads can be excused for their dim outlook. The Obama 
administration marked one of the more dysfunctional and destructive periods in 
Washington—eight years of threats, executive rule, non-communication and opposition 
politics. So it is undoubtedly confusing for some people suddenly to watch an honest-to-
goodness legislative process, with all its negotiating, horse-trading and consensus-
building.

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Under prior management, Nancy Pelosi did her thing, Harry Reid did his thing, President 
Obama did his thing, and the three tried not to talk if at all possible. The Obama 
legislative affairs team couldn’t have found Capitol Hill with a map.
Today’s negotiations over the health bill feature a White House that is working hand-in-
hand with congressional leaders to get to yes. Even as the critics looped on cable TV, the 
Trump administration was working with House leaders on a substantive amendment to 
the bill to address conservative concerns before the legislation hits the floor.
Vice President Mike Pence held a listening session Wednesday with the Republican Study
Committee, an influential bloc of 170 House conservatives. President Trump met last 
week with conservative activists. Sources confirm daily telephone round robins among 
Mr. Ryan, Mitch McConnell, President Trump, Mr. Pence, White House chief of staff 
Reince Priebus, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.
One sign of progress: Rep. Mark Meadows (of the Freedom Caucus) and Sen. Ted Cruz 
(of Cruz-Still-For-President) penned a joint op-ed Thursday for this newspaper’s online 
edition, laying out their demands for the health-care bill. These two super-critics have not 
only refused to walk away from the negotiating table but are positioning themselves 
potentially to take credit for changes.
President Obama disdained Congress and didn’t want to legislate. He waited to see if he 
liked what his Democratic underlings brought him. Today veterans of the legislative 
process are professing admiration for the way Mr. Trump is handling this deal.
On the one hand, the president has made clear that the Ryan bill must be the vehicle for 
repeal and replace, and that the consequences of failure would be severe. His rally 
planned for Monday in Kentucky (cue Rand Paul again) is designed to demonstrate the 
pressure he can exert on Republican holdouts.
On the other hand, Mr. Trump has wisely refrained from publicly committing to the 
specifics of the bill, instead using behind-the-scenes meetings to listen, negotiate, nudge. 
He has, to his credit, ignored all those putative allies telling him to ditch Mr. Ryan & Co.
Speaker Ryan is avoiding his predecessor’s mistakes, too. During the Obama years, 
Speaker John Boehner struggled to control his conference and the legislative process. 
True, Mr. Ryan is negotiating, but he’s also relentlessly driving the bill through the 
chamber. By Thursday, it had cleared three committees, with only three GOP defections. 
Next up is the Rules Committee, and then it comes to the floor. Mr. Ryan is banking on 
these deadlines to drive Republicans to make their final deals and then get behind the bill.
He also seems to understand his chamber’s outsize role here. The bill can pass the House 
only with conservative support. Once gained, that support will make it much harder for 
GOP senators to balk. Leadership will be able to focus on the demands of a much smaller 
number of skeptics, and Mr. Trump will be able to target his considerable powers on 
defectors.
Could all this break down? Yes, but then again, a bill dies only when leadership stops 
pushing it. Mr. Ryan shows no sign of stopping. This is how it works. Go read your old 
copy of “Showdown at Gucci Gulch,” which tells how the 1986 tax reform was “dead” a 
dozen times—until it wasn’t.
This process takes time because the GOP is itself relearning the political craft. It was easy
 in the Obama years to back “perfect” House legislation, since it would never get through 
the Senate. It was easier to oppose than it is to propose. Some conservative lawmakers 
seem to have realized only now that they’d have been better off working in their 
committees to improve today’s health-care bill than to complain and then later ask for 
changes.
Is health-care reform inevitable? No. But is it a lost cause? Not even close. Oh, this will 
be ugly and messy and painful. But only because that’s how real, old-fashioned politics 
works.
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2)Twenty years ago, in Nashville , Tennessee , during the first week of 
January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA's convention.

          While I waited in line to register 
with the hotel staff, I heard other more veteran coaches rumbling about the 
lineup of speakers scheduled to present during the weekend.  One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with 
the same sentiment — “John Scolinos is here? Oh, man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

          Who is John Scolinos, I wondered.  No matter; I was just happy to be there.

          In 1996, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 
1948.  He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing 
dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, 
and a string around his neck from which home plate hung — a full-sized, stark-
white home plate.

          Seriously, I wondered, who is this guy?

          After speaking for twenty-five 
minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach 
Scolinos appeared to notice the 
snickering among some of the coaches.  Even those who knew Coach Scolinos 
had to wonder exactly where he was 
going with this, or if he had simply 
forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.  Then, finally …
“You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck,” 
he said, his voice growing irascible.  I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility.  “I may be
 old, but I’m not crazy.  The reason I 
stand before you today is to share with 
you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate 
in my 78 years.” 

Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room.  “Do you know how 
wide home plate is in Little League?”

          After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches?”, more of a question than answer.

          “That’s right,” he said.  “How about in Babe Ruth’s day?  Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?” Another long pause.

          “Seventeen inches?” a guess from another reluctant coach.

          “That’s right,” said Scolinos.  “Now, how many high school coaches do we 
have in the room?”  Hundreds of hands 
shot up, as the pattern began to appear.  “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

          “Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

          “You’re right!” Scolinos barked.  
“And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

          “Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

          “Any Minor League coaches here?  How wide is home plate in pro ball?”............“Seventeen inches!”

          “RIGHT!  And in the Major 
Leagues, how wide home plate is in the Major Leagues?

          “Seventeen inches!”

          “SEV-EN-TEEN INCHES!” he confirmed, his voice bellowing off the 
walls.  “And what do they do with a Big League pitcher who can’t throw the ball 
over seventeen inches?”  Pause.  “They send him to Pocatello !” he hollered, 
drawing raucous laughter.  “What they 
don’t do is this: they don’t say, ‘Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy.  If you can’t hit a seventeen-inch target?  We’ll make it eighteen 
inches or nineteen inches.  We’ll make 
it twenty inches so you have a better 
chance of hitting it.  If you can’t hit that, 
let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.'” 

Pause.  “Coaches… what do we do 
when your best player shows up late to practice? or when our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven?  What if he gets caught drinking?  Do we hold him accountable?  Or do we change the rules to fit him?  Do we widen home plate? "

The chuckles gradually faded as four thousand coaches grew quiet, the fog 
lifting as the old coach’s message began
 to unfold.  He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to 
draw something.  When he turned it 
toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows.  “This is the 
problem in our homes today.  With our marriages, with the way we parent our 
kids.  With our discipline.


We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there is no consequence for failing 
to meet standards.  We just widen the 
plate!”

          Pause.  Then, to the point at the 
top of the house he added a small 
American flag.  “This is the problem in 
our schools today.  The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful, and to 
educate and discipline our young people.  We are allowing others to widen home plate!  Where is that getting us?”

          Silence.  He replaced the flag with a Cross.  “And this is the problem in the Church, where powerful people in 
positions of authority have taken 
advantage of young children, only to 
have such an atrocity swept under the 
rug for years.  Our church leaders are widening home plate for themselves!  
And we allow it.”

          “And the same is true with our government.  Our so called 
representatives make rules for us that 
don’t apply to themselves. They take 
bribes from lobbyists and foreign 
countries.  They no longer serve us.  And we allow them to widen home plate! We 
see our country falling into a dark abyss while we just watch.”

          I was amazed.  At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curve balls and bunting and how to run better practices, I had learned something far more valuable.
From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I had learned 
something about life, about myself, 
about my own weaknesses and about 
my responsibilities as a leader.  I had to 
hold myself and others accountable to 
that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society 
continue down an undesirable path.

          “If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. 

It is this: "If we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable 
to provide a consequence when
they do not meet the standard; and if our schools and  churches and our 

government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to …”

          With that, he held home plate in 
front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark black backside, “…We have dark days ahead!.”

         His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players—no matter how good they are—your own children, your churches, your government, and most of
all, keep yourself at seventeen inches."

          "Don't widen the plate."

+++++++++++++++++
3)Has Iran's success in Syria made it an 
arena for longer-term conflict?
Having spent heavily to preserve its geopolitical link to Hezbollah, Iran appears to be settling in for a long presence in Syria.
That has caught the attention of the US and Israel, which fears a 
widening of its Southern Lebanon front to the Golan Heights.


BEIRUT, LEBANON—Having successfully propped up the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against an array of armed rebel groups for more than six years, 
Iran appears to be preparing the ground for a long-term presence in the war-
ravaged country, causing rising alarm in neighboring Israel, its bitter foe, and 
garnering the attention of Washington.

Iran has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to buttress Syria’s economy, 
oversees a multinational Shiite militia force to bolster Mr. Assad’s flagging army, 
and trains Syrian militia networks based on Iran's Basij paramilitary volunteer 
force.

But Iran’s success and expanding reach into Syria, which serves as Tehran’s vital geopolitical link to its client Hezbollah in Lebanon, has made Syria potentially a 
key arena if the US wants to undermine Iran’s regional stance, analysts say.

As a consequence, President Trump’s administration has signaled an intention to 
roll back the Islamic Republic’s influence, not only in Syria but elsewhere in the 
region.

“The best strategy to roll back Iranian influence is to weaken it in Syria by 
denying it the resources it has invested in through the Assad regime,” Randa 
Slim, a scholar with the Washington-based Middle East Institute and an expert on Hezbollah, says without elaborating. “Syria anchors the Iran-Syria-Iraq-Hezbollah
axis. Denying Iran that anchor will roll back its influence not only in Lebanon and weaken Hezbollah but in the whole region.”

In Moscow last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told President 
Vladimir Putin there could be no peace in Syria as long as Iranian forces remained there.

“Iran is arming itself and its forces against Israel, including from Syria territory, 
and is, in fact, gaining a foothold to continue the fight against Israel,” he said 
following his meeting with Mr. Putin.

Plans for a naval base.

Iran seems to have no intention of abandoning Syria. In November, Gen. 
Mohammad Hossein Baqari, the chief of staff of the Iranian armed forces, said the Islamic Republic could in the future establish naval bases in Yemen and Syria. 
Iran is providing some military support to Houthi militiamen, who with their 
Yemeni allies have been battling a Saudi-led military coalition since March 2015.

Mr. Netanyahu raised the Iranian naval base proposal during his meeting with 
Putin. Moscow’s immediate response to Netanyahu’s concerns is so far unclear, 
but many analysts doubt that Russia will – or can – apply pressure on its Iranian battlefield ally to reverse its agenda in Syria.

Although Assad and his Russian, Iranian, and Lebanese allies have gained the 
upper hand in the conflict, the war is far from over. Given the chronic manpower shortage facing the Syrian Army, Assad and his partners continue to need each 
other to prevail, a reality that weighs against an unraveling of the alliance for 
now.

"The possibility of working with Russia in an attempt to minimize Iranian 
influence is being examined,” says Frederic C. Hof, the director of the Rafik 
Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council in Washington. "As of 
now there is no evidence of Moscow's willingness to do so and no evidence that 
it has the leverage to restrain Assad or Iranian-led militias.

“Russians are telling members of the Syrian opposition that they are fed up with 
the unprofessionalism of Assad's army and the Shiite militiamen brought in by 
Iran from Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan," Mr. Hof continues. "But it's not clear 
what Moscow would be willing and able to do about it."

Israel’s diplomatic attempts to block an Iranian naval presence in Syria may have 
come too late. On Monday, Russia’s Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reported that 
Assad has already green lighted the establishment of an Iranian naval base, 
which is to be located on the coast close to Jableh and the Hmeimim air base, 
which is currently being used by the Russian Air Force.

If the report is confirmed, a naval base in Syria potentially grants Iran a 
maritime route to transfer armaments to Hezbollah in Lebanon in addition to the 
long-established air route via Damascus airport. It could also create friction in 
the waters of the Mediterranean, which is patrolled by the Israel Navy and the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet.

Building up the Golan front

The other area of interest for Iran in Syria is the Golan Heights, the volcanic 
plateau in southwestern Syria that overlooks northern Israel. Much of it was 
seized by Israeli troops in the 1967 war and has since remained under Israeli 
occupation. Hezbollah fighters and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) 
personnel have had a presence on the northern Golan since at least late 2013.

According to sources close to Hezbollah, the Lebanese group in 2014 installed 
some military infrastructure in the area north of Quneitra, including bunkers and 
firing positions, with the goal of extending the front with Israel from south 
Lebanon into the Golan. In January 2015, an IRGC general and six Hezbollah 
members, including two senior officers, were killed in an Israeli drone strike near Quneitra. The team had been inspecting the newly-installed facilities when they 
were attacked, say sources close to Hezbollah.

Between 100 and 150 Hezbollah fighters are deployed in the northern end of the 
plateau, and an unknown number of IRGC personnel are suspected to be with them, say Western security sources familiar with the dynamics on the Golan. Currently, they and other government forces are in a standoff with anti-Assad rebels in the area. 
However, the Assad regime is negotiating a series of cease-fire agreements with communities in the northern Golan in which rebels are allowed to move to the 
Idlib province in the north in exchange for the resumption of state control in the 
vacated villages.

If the process continues to be successful, the northern Golan may become 
neutralized from the Syria conflict, which could allow Iran and Hezbollah to 
revive its original plans for the area. In a possible signal of Iran’s future 
intentions, the Hezbollah al-Nujaba Movement, an Iran-backed Iraqi Shiite 
militia, announced last week that it was establishing a new unit called the Golan Liberation Front.

“This is a trained army with specific plans,” said Sayyed Hashem Moussawi, the 
leader of the group, in a press conference announcing the new group. “If the government of Syria requests, we and our allies are ready to take action to 
liberate the Golan.”

Since the last war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, the border between 
Lebanon and Israel has remained mostly calm, with both sides wary of triggering another, more devastating, conflict. But, says Giora Eiland, a former Israeli 
national security adviser and retired general, unlike Lebanon, where Israel can 
hold the Lebanese government accountable for Hezbollah actions from its 
territory, the Syrian government has limited control over its land.

"Syria is far from a state that can be accountable, and if Hezbollah manages to 
create positions on the Israeli-Syrian border and act against Israel from Syria, it 
would be very hard to deter the Syrian government,” he says. 


3a) President Trump, North Korea, and 




Israel's Nuclear Strategy



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Although concerns about a Trump confrontation with a 
nuclear North Korea are widespread, there has been little corollary discussion of crisis implications for other parts of the world. Yet there are important spillover implications to 
be considered, specifically with reference to the Middle East and Israel's nuclear strategy.
It appears increasingly plausible that President Donald Trump's first major test in strategic crisis management will come from North Korea. The spillover effects of any such test, a complex 
challenge that may or may not have a nuclear dimension, could rapidly involve other countries, 
including several powerful states in the Middle East.
Context is vital. All world politics ultimately comprise a single integrated system of states. What happens in any one geographic area, therefore, can quickly affect another.
Israel is a case in point. As a beleaguered state possessing a prospective (and still intentionally 
opaque) nuclear “equalizer,” Israel is no doubt well aware that the use of nuclear weapons 
anywhere in the world would immediately erase the longstanding nuclear taboo. A prima facie 
erasure of this sort could increase the odds of subsequent nuclear firings in Israel's own volatile neighborhood.
Furthermore, as North Korea already has a documented nuclear assistance history with Syria 
and Iran (the Syrian nuclear threat was eliminated by Israel's preemptive Operation Orchard on September 6, 2007), Jerusalem's concerns over escalations by Pyongyang would be entirely 
reasonable. Over time, for example, Iran, with or without any additional direct nuclear 
assistance from North Korea, could be encouraged to render itself less vulnerable to an Israeli 
hard-target preemption or Israeli cyber-deterrence. The extent of any such encouragement 
would depend, at least in part, on Pyongyang's prior success or failure in navigating “escalation dominance” with the Trump-led US.
For now, Israel's nuclear strategy remains deliberately ambiguous. The so-called “bomb-in-the-basement” posture has endured since the 1960s, primarily because Jerusalem has not yet had to 
worry about confronting any enemy state's nuclear forces. This once reasonable position would 
need to change, however, if Iran were perceived by Israel to have become nearly nuclear. Israel's strategic posture would need to change even more urgently if Jerusalem should find itself facing a nuclear fait accompli in Tehran.
For Israel, however, it's not just about Iran. For entirely sound reasons, the Jewish State could 
at some point decide to shift to a more credible and persuasive measure of nuclear disclosure 
once an actual nuclear attack had taken place anywhere on earth. In essence, there would not 
need to be any direct connection between such an attack and Israel for Jerusalem to 
acknowledge new national survival obligations.
For example, any belligerent use of nuclear weapons by North Korea might lower Pakistani 
cost-benefit calculations of a nuclear war with India. While not directed in any way towards 
Israel, such a destabilizing development in an already nuclear and coup-vulnerable Islamic state would naturally raise red flags in Jerusalem.
For Israel, a key question is this: What scenarios should be considered once Pyongyang has 
actually fired nuclear weapons at another state (e.g., Japan, or American military targets) or configuration of states (e.g., South Korea, Japan, and/or the in-range US)? The precise manner 
and extent to which Israel could be affected in any such taboo-breaking circumstances would 
depend, inter alia, on prevailing geopolitical alignments and cleavages, both regional and 
worldwide.
More precisely, the expected impact on Israel would lie in the particular way President Trump 
had handled the nuclear crisis with North Korea. In this regard, all players in both Washington 
and Jerusalem need to remember that there is no scientific way of ascertaining risk in 
unprecedented circumstances. That is because in any valid scientific calculation, probabilities 
must be based upon the discoverable frequency of pertinent past events.
Leaving aside the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which may or may not represent an apt analogue 
here, there simply are no pertinent past events.
Inevitably, the potential spillover effect on Israel of any nuclear weapons use by North Korea 
would depend, in part, upon the combatants involved; the expected rationality or irrationality of 
those combatants; the yield and range of the weapons fired; and of course, the aggregate 
calculation of civilian and military harm suffered in the affected areas. If, for example, 
Pyongyang fired nuclear weapons against American targets, military and/or civilian, Jerusalem 
could reasonably anticipate an overwhelmingly destructive US response. That said, the extent of
the American response would depend a great deal on the inherently uncertain “Trump Factor.”
It follows that Israel's senior strategic planners should already be preparing their best estimates 
of this eccentric factor – although again, there can be no scientifically meaningful basis for any 
such calculations.
For Israel, further complications could affect its decision-making. Israeli planners would have 
to account not only for singular nuclear weapons operations launched by North Korea, but also 
for any interactions or synergies that might then be expected. Because world politics is not 
geometry, the Israelis would need to take into consideration that the whole of inflicted harm can
be substantially greater than the sum of attack “parts.”
How should Israeli strategic planners cope with such bewildering insights, complications, and expectations? First, they will need to factor into the evolving corpus of national nuclear policy preparation an updated version of Carl von Clausewitz's classic “friction.” According to this 
nuanced conceptual consideration, Israeli analysts will have to base their enhanced adjustments
of the country’s nuclear doctrine on a widely integrated range of potentially critical factors. 
This range should involve a calculated loosening of “deliberate ambiguity,” including a 
recognizable Israeli capacity to deny expected enemy nuclear attack objectives with advanced 
anti-missile defenses.
Among other refinements, Jerusalem will need to assess whether or not the new American 
president is able to maintain complete rationality during any anticipated process of crisis 
escalation, and whether he can grasp certain plausible expected benefits of “pretend 
irrationality.” In this connection, Israeli leaders will want to recall Moshe Dayan's advice. Said 
the Israeli Minister of Defense many years back, “Israel must be seen as a mad dog, too 
dangerous to bother.”
When contemplating a nuclear crisis between Washington and Pyongyang, Jerusalem must bear
in mind that several intersecting and overwhelmingly destructive consequences could extend to
other countries, including Israel. To prepare for such a threat, Israel's strategic planners should
be gaming various scenarios in which President Trump (1) hews closely to fully rationa
l “plays;” and (2) adheres to other moves in which he might (however unwittingly) act upon 
Dayan's apt metaphor of feigned madness. In the latter case, Israeli analysts should examine 
Trump's expected crisis decision-making together with a pretended irrationality option.
Strategic planners should be warned. A “mad dog” strategy might work for the US and Israel, 
but it could also backfire against both countries with potentially egregious human costs. In the 
case of Israel, which is half the size of America's Lake Michigan, these costs could prove 
existential.
Louis RenĂ© Beres is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue and the author of 
twelve books and several hundred articles on nuclear strategy and nuclear war. His newest 
book is Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel's Nuclear Strategy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

3b)Those commuters crammed into the underground system are 
the lucky ones — initially, at least. When the missile hits, they are protected from the blinding light of the 20-kiloton detonation.
But above ground, in the area centred on the Yeouido financial district, all is destruction. Buildings up to a mile from Ground Zero have been vaporised or reduced to rubble. Some 70,000 people are dead, killed by the heat and the   
blast wave. Many more will succumb to radiation burns and radioactive fall-out over coming days.
The nuclear nightmare that has long bedevilled South Korea — America’s key ally in the region and one of the world’s most dynamic economies — has become reality.
North Korea, most rogue of rogue nations, has struck. The nuclear explosion, similar in size to that which leveled Hiroshima, signaled the start of a blitzkrieg-style ground invasion intended to swiftly overwhelm its richer, more advanced neighbour.
A second atomic warhead, inbound on a crude Rodong rocket, has been successfully intercepted by America’s THAAD (Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence) anti-ballistic missile system. But Seoul’s torment is only beginning as hundreds of North Korean heavy guns rain down shells on the capital, many containing Sarin nerve gas.
The city, bunched up against the North-South border, is hopelessly vulnerable to a mass sneak attack of the kind now taking place, as hundreds of thousands of North Korean troops, and thousands of tanks, pour out of innumerable underground bunkers built within miles of the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries.
The rest of the world watches as the horror is relayed via 24- hour rolling news and on social media. And waits for the next move …
Could such a scenario ever come to pass? Will Kim Jong-un, latest incarnation of the cult dynasty that has ruled the Communist northern half of Korea since 1948, exchange  bluff for action and, one day, deploy his small but lethal nuclear arsenal?
That terrifying possibility moved a step nearer this month when, without warning, Kim Jong-un ordered a salvo of missiles to be fired towards his other nervous neighbour, Japan.
The latest in a series of escalating acts of provocation by the North Korean dictator this year saw three (non-nuclear) missiles land in Japanese waters. North Korean media,which released photographs of the launch ‘supervised’ by a delighted Kim Jong-un, said the missiles had been aimed
 at American bases in Japan.
International condemnation was swift and wide-ranging, with the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, describing the launch as a ‘new level’ of threat. The U.S. appears to be losing patience.
On Tuesday, it ratchetted-up the pressure further with the deployment to Korean waters of the super-carrier USS Carl Vinson. The 100,000-ton Nimitz-class carrier, with 40-plus F-18 fighters on board, and a powerful escort of cruisers and destroyers, is the ultimate ‘big stick’ expression of American power — and a provocation to paranoid minds in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.
Sources in South Korea are claiming the heightened military presence — which includes moving in ‘Grey Eagle’ attack drones — is part of a U.S. plan to ‘decapitate’ North Korean leadership and demolish key military facilities.
Ostensibly, The Vinson is there to take part in the annual U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises — code named ‘Foal Eagle’ and ‘Key Resolve’ — involving 300,000 South Korean personnel and 20,000 Americans.
This act of allied solidarity was met, as usual, with blood-curdling threats from Pyongyang. It warned of ‘merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater’ in retaliation.
As the Vinson berthed in the South Korean port of Busan, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on a tour of the region, warned that the ‘diplomatic and other efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to a point of de-nuclearisation have failed’.
The United States, said Tillerson, had provided $1.35 billion in assistance to Pyongyang to encourage it to abandon its nuclear programme, but to no effect. A ‘new approach’ was required — but what that might be, he refused to say.
President Donald Trump has stated that ‘every option was on the table’ when it comes to North Korean aggression. While the phrase was meant to reassure, many Japanese, and South Koreans worry that the Americans are contemplating pre-emptive strikes on North Korean military sites — which would indeed place them in the crosshairs of retaliatory attacks.
In unusually graphic language, China, North Korea’s reluctant patron, has warned that the communist state and the U.S. are like ‘two accelerating trains’ speeding towards a head-on crash. The rhetoric may not be misplaced.
If World War III is to break out anywhere, then it will probably be in this febrile region. North Korea is intent on developing nuclear-tipped missiles that can hit the States. Large areas of Japan and all of South Korea are already in range. Its nuclear arsenal numbers some 20 Hiroshima-size atomic bombs.
What is not clear is if North Korea has the ability to marry these A-bombs to its missiles to create workable devices 
But even the most cautious of analysts warns it is only a matter of time.
Kim Jong-un, irrational and unpredictable at the best of times, appears increasingly trigger-happy, reveling in his ability to make Western powers squirm. In February, North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, superior to anything that had gone before.
Just days later came the brazen murder, by a hit squad using powerful VX nerve toxin of Kim Jong-un’s estranged half-brother, Kim Jong-nam. The manner of the killing, at Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia, was intended to strike terror into the hearts of exiled opponents of the Kim regime. (Yesterday, Interpol issued warrants for the arrest of four North Koreans in connection with the murder.)
It is, however, the test-firing of four ballistic missiles towards  Japan on March 5 (a fifth is thought to have failed) that most concerns the West.
++++++++++++++++++++++
4)More than Just Another Anti-Israel U.N. Farce

A new United Nations report libels Israel, promotes hatred, and makes peace even less likely.
By Jonathan S. Tobin
It isn’t easy to get worked up at the United Nations, an institution where the egregious is merely 
business as usual. But even veteran observers of the world body had to sit up and take notice when
its Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia published a report about Israel that Secretary General Antonio Gutteres himself immediately disavowed. The lengthy document purported to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the state of Israel was guilty of “the crime of apartheid” according to
international law. As such, it didn’t merely criticize Israel’s policies in the West Bank; it called into 
question the legitimacy of the Jewish state itself, even with pre-1967 borders.

The immediate reaction to this piece of libel from both the head of the U.N. and the U.S. government was quick and appropriate. Through his spokesman, Gutteres said he was not consulted by the report’s 
authors and its contents did not reflect his views. Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the U.N.
said that the United States was “outraged’ by the report and demanded that the secretariat officially 
withdraw it.

Gutteres agrees, and today said the report should be withdrawn from the U.N. website where it was published. But whether or not it is pulled from that site, the damage is already done. The report is a 
pseudo-scholarly compendium of specious charges, distortions, and outright lies. Even for an 
institution in which agencies devoted to human rights are run by representatives of Saudi Arabia and
Iran — an institution that has made grossly unfair accusations against Israel something of a sport 
over the years — this one stands out, because it goes beyond merely smearing the Jewish state 
offering legal justification for future attacks against Israel and Jews. Never before has the U.N. 
officially tied Israel to apartheid. At a time when, despite the efforts of the Trump administration to 
revive talks, Middle East peace seems more unlikely than ever, the report’s findings will make it even
harder to persuade the Palestinians to compromise and finally accept the necessity of giving up its 
war on the Jewish state. And by putting the U.N. seal of approval on the “apartheid” libel, the report 
will provide aid and comfort to those whose anti-Zionist incitement provides a thin veil of legitimacy f
or the growth of anti-Semitism across the globe.

The report is the work of two Americans, Princeton Law professor emeritus Richard Falk and 
Virginia Tilley of the University of Southern Illinois. As a 9/11 truther and an anti-Israel extremist, Falk is particularly  unqualified to evaluate the conflict. Yet together with Tilley, he has put together a 
document that lists Palestinian grievances while ignoring those of Israel in a complex conflict where 
both sides have suffered. And that’s not all: Rather than merely claim that Israel must evacuate the 
territories it won in a defensive war in 1967, as most of its critics assert, their report goes straight to 
the heart of the matter by using Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state to justify the apartheid charge.

By arguing in this way, it dismisses the obvious differences between what happened in South Africa
 — where a tiny white majority denied all rights to the black majority — and Israel, a Jewish-majority 
country where the Arab minority has full rights, including suffrage, representation, and equality under
the law. It similarly considers irrelevant the fact that the standoff over the disputed territory of the 
West Bank is the result of Palestinian unwillingness to recognize Israel’s right to exist within any 
borders, stubbornly maintained through repeated refusals of peace offers that would have created a Palestinian state. And by denying legitimacy to Israel’s basis for existence as the one Jewish state 
on the planet, surrounded by multiple nations that are explicitly Muslim or Arab, it implicitly
legitimizes the century-long war that has been waged against the Zionist effort, positing that Jews
may be legally denied rights granted to others as a matter of course.

The report comes at a particularly inopportune time for those hoping President Trump’s surprising 
interest in reviving peace talks might bear fruit. The Palestinians rejected President Obama’s efforts 
to tilt the diplomatic playing field in their direction. They torpedoed the negotiations sponsored by 
Secretary of State John Kerry, embracing efforts to get the U.N. to grant them statehood without first 
requiring them to make peace with Israel. Their unwillingness to make compromises will only be 
strengthened by a report that encourages them to regard Israel as having no rights whatsoever. They are likely to make Falk’s and Tilley’s findings the basis for renewed efforts to sue Israel in the 
International Criminal Court, as well as for renewed provocations in other U.N. bodies such as the 
Human Rights Council or even UNESCO, which in the past year has taken up measures that denied
 the historical Jewish ties to Jerusalem and some of Judaism’s holiest sites.

Just as unfortunate is the way the report will be used to buttress the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement against Israel, which is one of the primary engines of anti-Semitic incitement 
both in Europe and the United States. While BDS claims to be merely a protest against Israel, 
wherever its banner is raised, anti-Jewish hate speech and actions soon follow. Those who 
subscribe to the notion that the Jewish state has no rights that need be respected are not merely 
promoting bias on the international stage, but also are part of an effort that leads inexorably to anti-
Semitic hate speech.

Liberal groups have labeled President Trump as the main source of encouragement for the uptick in 
anti-Jewish incidents in the United States. This is due in part to his inflammatory statements during 
the election campaign, the support he received from anti-Semites in the small but loud alt-right and 
far-right elements of his base, and his refusal to quickly disavow such hate once he became 
president. Partisans have overstated this argument while failing to take into account Trump’s close 
Jewish ties, his support for Israel, and the things most of those actively promoting anti-Semitism 
actually care about. The U.N. report is a reminder that in our time, the singling out of Jews for 
discriminatory treatment is primarily driven by anti-Israel propaganda, which serves as a thin veil for 
a new and insidious form of anti-Semitism. Those looking for the reason behind the rising tide of 
hate against Jews around the globe would do better to read Falk and Tilley than to read Trump’s 
tweets.

— Jonathan S. Tobin is the opinion editor at JNS.org and a contributing writer for National Review 

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


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