(Texas Tribune via JTA) — Two months after a prominent conservative activist and fundraiser was caught hosting white supremacist Nick Fuentes, leaders of the Republican Party of Texas have voted against barring the party from associating with known Nazi sympathizers and Holocaust deniers.
In a 32-29 vote on Saturday, members of the Texas GOP’s executive committee stripped a pro-Israel resolution of a clause that would have included the ban. In a separate move that stunned some members, roughly half of the board also tried to prevent a record of their vote from being kept.
In rejecting the proposed ban, the executive committee’s majority delivered a serious blow to a faction of members that has called for the party to confront its ties to groups that have recently employed or associated with outspoken white supremacists and extremists.
Fuentes came to prominence through his participation in the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, and last year made national headlines when he dined with Ye, the musician who had recently made a string of antisemitic comments, and former President Donald Trump at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago retreat.
In October, The Texas Tribune published photos of Fuentes, an avowed admirer of Adolf Hitler who has called for a “holy war” against Jews, entering and leaving the offices of Pale Horse Strategies, a consulting firm for far-right candidates and movements.
Pale Horse Strategies is owned by Jonathan Stickland, a former state representative and at the time the leader of a political action committee, Defend Texas Liberty, that two West Texas oil billionaires have used to fund right-wing movements, candidates and politicians in the state — including Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Matt Rinaldi, chairman of the Texas GOP, was also seen entering the Pale Horse offices while Fuentes was inside for nearly seven hours. He denied participating, however, saying he was visiting with someone else at the time and didn’t know Fuentes was there.
Defend Texas Liberty has not publicly commented on the scandal, save for a two-sentence statement condemning those who’ve tried to connect the PAC to Fuentes’ “incendiary” views. Nor has the group clarified Stickland’s current role at Defend Texas Liberty, which quietly updated its website in October to reflect that he is no longer its president. Tim Dunn, one of the two West Texas oil billionaires who primarily fund Defend Texas Liberty, confirmed the meeting between Fuentes and Stickland and called it a “serious blunder,” according to a statement from Patrick.
In response to the scandal — as well as subsequent reporting from the Texas Tribune that detailed other links between Defend Texas Liberty and white supremacists — nearly half of the Texas GOP’s executive committee had called for the party to cut ties with Defend Texas Liberty and its auxiliary groups until Stickland was removed from any position of power, and a full explanation for the Fuentes meeting was given.
But those proposed demands were significantly watered down ahead of the party’s quarterly meeting this weekend. Rather than calling for a break from Defend Texas Liberty, the faction proposed general language that would have barred associations with individuals or groups “known to espouse or tolerate antisemitism, pro-Nazi sympathies or Holocaust denial.”
Even that general statement was too much for the majority of the executive committee. In at-times tense debate on Saturday, members argued that words like “tolerate” or “antisemitism” were too vague or subjective. The ban, some argued, was akin to “Marxist” and “leftist” tactics, and would create guilt by association that could be problematic for the party, its leaders and candidates.
“It could put you on a slippery slope,” said committee member Dan Tully.
Rinaldi abstained from voting on the ban but briefly argued that antisemitism is not a serious problem on the right before questioning what it would mean to “tolerate” those who espouse it. “I don’t see any antisemitic, pro-Nazi or Holocaust denial movement on the right that has any significant traction whatsoever,” he said.
Supporters of the ban disagreed. They noted that the language was already a compromise, didn’t specifically name any group or individual and would lend credence to resolutions in which the Texas GOP has generally condemned antisemitism and restated its support for Israel.
“To take it out sends a very disturbing message,” said Rolando Garcia, a Houston-based committee member who drafted the language. “We’re not specifying any individual or association. This is simply a statement of principle.”
Other committee members questioned how their colleagues could find words like “antisemitism” too vague, despite frequently lobbing it and other terms at their political opponents.
“I just don’t understand how people who routinely refer to others as leftists, liberals, communists, socialists and RINOs (‘Republicans in Name Only’) don’t have the discernment to define what a Nazi is,” committee member Morgan Cisneros Graham said after the vote.
House Speaker Dade Phelan similarly condemned the vote Saturday evening, calling it “despicable.”
The Texas GOP executive committee “can’t even bring themselves to denounce neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers or cut ties with their top donor who brought them to the dance,” Phelan wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “There is a moral, anti-Semitic rot festering within the fringes of BOTH parties that must be stopped.”
For two months, Phelan and his staff have routinely and publicly sparred with some in the party – namely Rinaldi, a longtime political foe – over how to address the Fuentes scandal and extremism more broadly. After the Texas Tribune first reported on the Fuentes meeting, Phelan called on fellow Republicans to redirect money from Defend Texas Liberty to pro-Israel charities, a request that quickly drew the ire of Patrick and others who accused Phelan of politicizing antisemitism and demanded he resign.
After subsequent reporting on Defend Texas Liberty’s ties to white supremacists and other extreme figures, Patrick said he was “appalled” and that antisemitism is “not welcome in our party.” He then announced that the he had invested the $3 million he recently received from Defend Texas Liberty in Israel bonds.
Patrick reiterated that stance late Saturday night, calling the executive committee’s vote “totally unacceptable” and saying that he is “confident” the board will reconsider the ban at its February meeting.
“This language should have been adopted – because I know that is our position as a Party,” Patrick wrote on X. “I, and the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Texas, do not tolerate antisemites, and those who deny the Holocaust, praise Hitler or the Nazi regime.”
Saturday’s vote is the latest sign of major disunity among the Texas GOP, which for years has dealt with simmering tensions between its far-right and more moderate, but still deeply conservative, wings. Defend Texas Liberty and its billionaire backers have been key players in that fight, funding primary challenges to incumbent Republicans who they deem insufficiently conservative, and bankrolling a sprawling network of institutions, media websites and political groups that they’ve used to incrementally pull Texas further to the right.
The party’s internecine conflict has exploded into all-out war since the impeachment and acquittal of Paxton, a crucial Defend Texas Liberty ally whose political life has been subsidized by the PAC’s billionaire funders.
After Paxton’s acquittal, Defend Texas Liberty vowed scorched-earth campaigns against those who supported the attorney general’s removal, and promised massive spending ahead of next year’s primary elections. (Before the Saturday vote, executive committee members separately approved a censure of outgoing an outgoing state representative over his lead role in the investigation and impeachment of Paxton.)
News of the Fuentes meeting has only complicated Defend Texas Liberty’s retribution plans, as infighting intensifies and some Republicans question whether the group and its billionaire funders should have so much sway over the state party.
Meanwhile, Defend Texas Liberty’s allies and beneficiaries have tried to downplay the scandals and discredit the Tribune’s reporting, claiming the Fuentes meeting was a one-off mistake or attacking critics as RINOs, in bed with Democrats to suppress true conservatives.
Ahead of Saturday’s vote, two Defend Texas Liberty-backed representatives briefly spoke to the executive committee. The day prior, State Sen. Bob Hall — who has received $50,000 from Defend Texas Liberty — was also at the Austin hotel where executive committee members were meeting, and in a speech condemned attempts to cut ties with the group based on what he called “hearsay,” “fuzzy photographs” and “narratives.”
“If you want to pass a resolution, I would make it positive,” Hall said to executive committee members on Friday. “We don’t need to do our enemy’s work for them.”
Hall reiterated that stance in an interview, calling the Fuentes meeting a “mistake” but claiming that there was “no evidence” that Stickland or Defend Texas Liberty are antisemitic. “I’ve had meetings with transgenders, gays and lesbians,” Hall said. “Does that make me a transgender, gay or a lesbian?”
Asked if he was comparing gay people to white supremacists or Hitler admirers like Fuentes, Hall responded: “I’m talking about people who are political hot potatoes.”
The post Texas GOP leaders reject proposed ban on associating with Nazi sympathizers and Holocaust deniers appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
‘Enough is Enough’: Petition to Replace UNRWA Gets More Than 130,000 Signatures
Geneva-based monitor group UN Watch has collected more than 130,000 signatures in support of replacing UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees — after it was exposed to have extensive connections to Palestinian terrorists.
The petition was announced at a UN Watch conference which aimed to “address the humanitarian situation in Gaza and formulate a plan for a future beyond UNRWA,” which the planners described as “a failed agency.”
The petition notes that, over the past few months, it has been reported that at least 12 UNRWA employees took part in Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attacks, about 1,200 UNRWA members have terrorist connections, thousands of UNRWA teachers are part of a Telegram channel that celebrated Hamas’s attack, and Hamas built a large tunnel under the UNRWA headquarters.
“Since its creation in 1949, the agency has brainwashed Gazans into believing that their home is not Gaza, but rather on the other side of the fence, in Israel,” the petition says, referencing the fact UNRWA counts Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as refugees even though they are living in land they consider to be Palestine.
“Enough is enough,” the petition concluded, “It’s time to stop the perverse logic of an agency that perpetuates war. It’s time to replace UNRWA.”
The show of popular opposition to UNRWA comes as a growing number of countries — more than a dozen so far — have pulled funding from the UN agency amid its many scandals.
The US State Department said “The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel,” and, consequently, it “has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”
Other countries, such as Japan, used similar language, noting that it was “extremely concerned” and that it would pause new funding until an investigation takes place.
Israel welcomed these developments. Israel’s Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, said “major changes need to take place so that international efforts, funds and humanitarian initiatives don’t fuel Hamas terrorism and the murder of Israelis.”
However, others argue that, without UNRWA, Palestinians would have no way of obtaining critical humanitarian aid.
In January, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, after the Biden administration announced that it would pause funding to the agency, “Cutting off support to @UNRWA – the primary source of humanitarian aid to 2 million+ Gazans – is unacceptable. Among an organization of 13,000 UN aid workers, risking the starvation of millions over grave allegations of 12 is indefensible.”
“The US should restore aid immediately,” she argued.
The post ‘Enough is Enough’: Petition to Replace UNRWA Gets More Than 130,000 Signatures first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
The New York Times Shares Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theory About Boars
In a recent profile of the Israeli settlement of Homesh and the tensions between its Jewish residents and their Palestinian neighbors, The New York Times’ Steven Erlanger uncritically echoes the claim that some settlers are using boars to uproot local Palestinian agriculture.
Partway through the piece, Erlanger writes, “They [settlers] chop down olive trees, roll flaming tires down the hills to burn crops and even send boars to dig up Palestinian seedlings and fruit trees, the locals say.”
In the next paragraph, he expands on this claim, relating how a local Palestinian man has bought dogs to keep these boars away from his land.
This is not the first time that Israelis have been accused of setting wild boars loose in order to attack Palestinians and destroy their property.
However, in the more than 15 years that this libel has made the rounds of both Palestinian and foreign media outlets, it has proven to be only an incendiary cudgel used against the Jewish residents of the West Bank — not a legitimate news story.
Why would @nytimes legitimize the utterly ridiculous charge that Israeli settlers are “send[ing] boars to dig up Palestinian seedlings and fruit trees?”
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) February 26, 2024
As far back as February 2007, the Elder of Ziyon blog reported on the Palestinian claim that Israeli settlers were using trained wild boars to terrorize local Palestinian communities and to tear up their agricultural fields.
However, the claim that Israelis were using trained wild boars against local Palestinian communities really gained steam in 2012, when it was reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had previously stated that Israelis were training wild boars to uproot Palestinian trees and to “spread corruption on the face of the earth.”
In 2014, Abbas reiterated this baseless claim at a conference in Ramallah.
Since then, this libel has routinely popped up in Palestinian publications as well as news outlets aimed at foreign audiences.
As the blog Israellycool has previously noted, when it comes to blaming Israelis for wild boar attacks in Palestinian areas, there are a wide variety of conspiracies about how Israel is to blame.
These contradictory conspiracies include the allegations that Israelis are setting these pigs against Palestinian communities; that Israeli security fences are protecting Jewish communities while allowing for Palestinian areas to be ravaged; that Israelis are allowed to shoot wild boars while Palestinians are not; and that Israeli construction has forced these animals to venture into Palestinians towns and cities.
If this claim about Israel-trained fighter pigs seems fantastical, it’s because it is.
As HonestReporting noted last year (when we critiqued a UK education magazine for publishing similar absurd claims), there is no evidence that wild boar attacks in Palestinian areas of the West Bank are attributable to a nefarious Israeli plot.
In recent years, due to a variety of factors, there has been an uptick in boar sightings in both Jewish and Palestinian communities in the West Bank, as well as parts of pre-1967 Israel. In fact, the rise in boar appearances inspired a 2021 New York Times profile on the boars of Haifa.
Parallel to the rise in boar sightings has been the rise in boar attacks, with both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians falling victim to the pigs’ aggression and viciousness.
Even Yesh Din and B’Tselem, two Israeli organizations that focus on alleged human rights abuses in the West Bank, have found there to be “no evidence” of any boar attacks in Palestinian communities being attributable to a Jewish conspiracy.
This boar conspiracy is yet another point in a long line of Israel-related animal conspiracy theories.
While they might seem ridiculous, some of the theories include:
The claim that Israel trained dolphins to serve as spies or assassins.
The claim that a vulture was trained by the Mossad to conduct reconnaissance.
The claim that Israel was using rats to drive out Palestinians from their eastern Jerusalem homes.
The claim that the Mossad was responsible for a slew of shark attacks in the Red Sea off the coast of the Sinai Desert.
Much like these other conspiracies, the claim that boar attacks in the West Bank are attributable to an Israeli plot is hogwash, and should not be spread by The New York Times or other reputable news organizations.
The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.
The post The New York Times Shares Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theory About Boars first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
The True Motivation of Terror — Hamas Terrorists Don’t Want a State
What really drives terror against Israel? To begin a proper answer, we must first understand the universal human need “to belong.” This primal need can be expressed harmlessly, as in sports fandom or rock concerts, or perniciously, as in jihadist terror-violence.
In matters of terrorism, widely alleged political motivations (e.g., sovereignty, “self-determination,” and statehood) are actually secondary or reflective. In the case of any proposed “two-state solution,” Palestinian sovereignty is never anything other than political manipulation or subterfuge. Not only would a Palestinian state fail to stop Palestinian terrorism, it would render such terrorism increasingly likely and even more injurious.
In ancient times, Aristotle already understood that “man is a social animal.” Typically, the seminal philosopher recognized, even a “normal” individual can feel empty and insignificant apart from any tangible membership in the “mass.” Inter alia, that mass is the State. Sometimes, however, it is the Tribe. Sometimes the Faith (always, of course, the “one true faith”). Sometimes it is “The Liberation” movement or simply “the Revolution.”
Details aside, whatever the mass claims of any particular moment, it is an unquenchable craving for belonging that threatens to produce catastrophic downfalls of individual responsibility and variously correlative triumphs of collective wrongdoing. Today, in jihadist-centered parts of the Middle East, unless millions can finally learn how to temper the overwhelming human desire to belong at all costs, all military, legal, and political schemes to control war and terrorism will fail.
It’s time for more serious explanations. To more genuinely understand what lies behind Palestinian terrorism against Israel, science-based analysts must first learn to look more deeply behind the news. In the final analysis, such “molecular” looks could helpfully explain jihadist fusions of susceptible individuals into murder-centered terror gangs. Prima facie, in the jihadist Middle East, war and terrorism would never take place in the absence of such inherently barbarous collective identifications.
Earlier, relevant core concepts were clarified by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Whenever individuals crowd together and form a mass, both recognized, the exterminatory dynamics of a mob can quickly be unleashed. More precisely, they discovered, these dynamics could lower each single person’s moral and intellectual level to a point where even anonymous mass killing would be widely welcomed and encouraged. This is precisely what happened with Hamas’ October 7, 2023, attack upon vulnerable Israeli civilians.
In today’s jihad-oriented Middle East, Islamic faith has been placed in the witting service of war and terror. Hamas terror against Israel is fueled by effectively unchallengeable evocations of “divine will.” Ironically, the net result of any such perfidious summoning is to drown out any authentic hints of sacredness or godliness.
Doctrinally, once empathy and compassion are extended outside the terrorizing jihadist mass,they must go unrewarded. In the case of Jews, moreover, humane sentiments must also be actively punished. Here, as generalizable virtues, empathy and compassion become extraneous and presumptively self-destructive.
There are pertinent details. In the name of allegedly divine commandment, jihadist/Hamas terror-criminality offers the wider world neither salvation nor holiness, but only conspicuously lethal “groupthink.” Among other things, the dissembling rhythms of this annihilating ethos make it futile for Israel to advance even the most honest efforts at peaceful coexistence.
This fundamental dilemma can never be solved by pundits, political leaders or self-declared “experts.” True solutions will require the concentrated intellectual efforts of uncommonly gifted thinkers. For Israel, it would emerge, any purported two-state solution could be a “final solution.” Here, the ironies would be both insufferable and unconscionable.
To undertake increasingly urgent investigations of Hamas terror-criminality, capable scholars and policy makers should look much more closely at the complex determinants of human meaning. Before we can slow-down terror-violence against Israeli and various other noncombatants, Hamas and kindred groups will first have to be shorn of their inclination to bestow celebratory status upon murderers. To affect those mass-directed individuals who turn to terrorism (i.e., ritualistic murder) for affirmations of personal worth, capable thinkers should first identify more benign but still comparably attractive sources of belonging.
In the very deepest analytic sense, Hamas terror-violence represents the result of cumulative individual failures to draw personal meaning “from within.” In Gaza and other mass-directed Palestinian areas, “redemption” requires “the faithful” to present tangible and perpetual proof of belonging. In any such presentation, evidence of participation in violence against Israeli men, women, and children is self-evidently gainful.
At its heart, Palestinian terror-violence against Israel is a problem of displaced human centeredness. Ever anxious about drawing meaning from their own “inwardness,” Hamas adherents draw ever closer to mass-based defilements. In all too many cases, a blood-soaked voice of anti-reason makes even the most gratuitous forms of terror-killing seem glorious.
There is more. When it is correctly understood as a form of religious sacrifice, Hamas terrorism confers the greatest possible form of power. This is the power of “martyrdom,” or power over death. At that stage, it is not merely belief or belonging that is being offered to jihadist murderers. It is also immortality. Lest anyone forget, the heroic death that the Palestinian “martyr” expects to endure is nothing more than a transient inconvenience on the path to a life everlasting. In essence, therefore, the Palestinian shahid “kills himself” (or herself) in order not to die.
At birth, each person contains the possibility of becoming fully human, an opportunity that could reduce potentially destructive loyalties to any murderous mass. Indeed, it is only by nurturing this indispensable possibility that we humans can seek serious remedies to war and terrorism. In principle, at least, Israel’s long-term struggle against Hamas and other jihadists should be to encourage potential terror-killers to discover the way back to themselves as empathetic human beings. But that’s hardly a realistic suggestion.
It’s a time for a summation. Israel should never misunderstand or misrepresent the core causes of Palestinian terror. To wit, Hamas killers are not most genuinely interested in sovereignty, “self-determination,” or statehood, but rather in evidence of belonging, pretended heroism, and a faith-reinforcing immortality.
For the immediate future, Israel will need to continue its life-saving military response to jihadist terrorism, especially when Hamas leaders remain determined to sacrifice Palestinian civilian populations for narrowly cynical and self-serving reasons. If Hamas leaders really believe in their own “sacred” promises of life everlasting to Palestinian “martyrs,” why are they unwilling to “sacrifice” themselves or their families? Only when this core question is raised and candidly answered could Israelis finally understand why well-intentioned concessions to Palestinian statehood would be misconceived and self-destructive.
Louis René Beres, Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue, is the author of many books and articles dealing with nuclear strategy and nuclear war, including Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1980) and Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (D.C. Heath/Lexington, 1986). His twelfth book, Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy, was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2016. A version of this article was originally published by Jewish Business News.
The post The True Motivation of Terror — Hamas Terrorists Don’t Want a State first appeared on Algemeiner.com.