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When Our allies Are Hamas Allies

The Muslim Brotherhood axis: a poster in Gaza shows Qatar’s rulers alongside the leaders of Hamas and Turkey. Photo: Twitter. – During the middle of December, New Yorkers were treated to the sight of brash maroon and white beams splashed across the Manhattan skyline when the Empire State Building was lit up in the colors of the Qatari flag in honor of the Gulf emirate’s national day.

Qatar owns 10% of the iconic skyscraper as a result of a $622 million investment made by its sovereign wealth fund in 2016. Qatar also owns lucrative real estate elsewhere in the city, including the Park Lane and St. Regis hotels, and retail outlets along Fifth Avenue that house such names as Victoria’s Secret and Ralph Lauren—a purchasing strategy that the Qataris have utilized in other world cities as well, including Paris and London, enabling one of the world’s smallest countries to become one of the most influential.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s message of greeting to Qatar on its national day neatly illustrated this status. “I want to express my gratitude for Qatar’s key role as a mediator in efforts to secure the release of unjustly detained Americans in Iran in September, and hostages held by Hamas in Gaza,” he stated. “These efforts reflect a shared US and Qatari commitment to promote security and stability in the Middle East and beyond.”

So much, of course, was left unsaid, particularly regarding Qatar’s role as a principal financier and supporter of the rapists and murderers in Gaza known as Hamas. The unvarnished truth here is that Qatar’s colossal wealth—on display every day in office buildings, university campuses, private hospitals and myriad other locations in Western cities—effectively gives the ruling Al Thani clan a pass on precisely those matters of “security and stability” that Blinken talked about.

The issue of Qatar gets to the heart of the policy dilemma facing Western nations in the Middle East, in that the emirate effectively plays both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Qatar is a key American ally in terms of both hard power, hosting the US Central Command (CENTCOM), and soft power, as at least six US universities operate their own campuses there. Yet at the same time that Doha is cultivating these relationships, it is backing a terrorist group that is sworn to Israel’s elimination and sending a signal to other Arab countries that it will not be compromised by their peace agreements with Israel. Unlike its neighbors the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, Qatar elected not to join the Abraham Accords signed with the Israelis in 2020, while right now, Saudi Arabia looks like a better candidate for the next peace deal.

This isn’t a problem we face in dealing with our more straightforward adversaries. For example, delicate diplomacy isn’t really necessary with Iran or Russia—two more states that actively back Hamas—since we don’t have any major economic or cultural ties with these countries now that robust sanctions are in place. Back in October, Blinken declared on “Face the Nation” that war with Iran was “not at all what we’re looking for, not at all what we want, but we’ll be prepared, if that’s what they choose to do.” One can’t imagine the secretary being so glib about Qatar, even though, like the Iranian regime, its rulers also openly support Hamas and run their state in accordance with Islamic imperatives rather than democratic consent.

Arguably a similar principle applies in the case of Turkey, whose president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has outdone even the Iranians when it comes to bloodthirsty rhetoric targeting Israel. Since the Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7, Turkey has become one of the most hostile countries on earth for Jews and Israelis. Last month, there was a grimly amusing scene in the Turkish parliament when an Islamist MP, Hasan Bitmez, abruptly collapsed and died at the podium while delivering a viciously antisemitic rant. The following day, Bitmez received what looked like a state funeral, his coffin draped with the Turkish and Palestinian flags as a military honor guard gave a salute in front of hundreds of dignitaries. The spectacle communicated the unmistakable message that securing the defeat of Israel is now part of Turkey’s raison d’état, just as preserving the existence of the Jewish state has been part of post-war Germany’s.

During the last week, the Turkish press has been filled with lurid yet vague reports concerning the arrest of an alleged Israeli spy ring. Key details of the arrests are missing — we don’t know the names or nationalities of those in custody, nor the exact charges they are facing — but that hasn’t prevented Erdoğan from waxing enthusiastically about his country’s resolve. “We are aware that plots of some circles were derailed thanks to our country’s stand against crises in our region, particularly against massacres in Gaza,” Erdoğan told a gathering of Turkish intelligence officials last week. “These espionage activities show how disturbed they are. Israel is confounded by how we rounded up those suspects. But wait, this is just a first step. You will recognize what Turkey is capable of soon.”

That last line might just be grandstanding or it might be a threat worth taking seriously. The hatred of Israel and Jews being stoked by Erdoğan’s regime—some Turkish stores have even posted signs in their doorways forbidding entry to Jews—is so intense that you are forced to believe that anything is possible. Certainly, that is the mindset that Western policymakers should carry.

The point is this: Israel is an ally of the West and securing Israel’s continued existence is a declared aim of Western policy. But our countries are allied with states like Qatar and Turkey, both of whom are pledged to fatally weakening Israel. The question therefore arises as to whether we challenge or mollify them.

Disappointingly, our leaders are doing more mollifying than they are challenging. If you were to ask Blinken why this is, his answer would probably be along the same lines as the answer he gave to MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell when she asked him about post-war reconstruction plans in Gaza. “There’s something that’s very powerful, and that’s changed in the last few years in the region, and this is why I think—despite the incredible challenge of this moment, despite the horrific suffering that we’re seeing—there actually is an opportunity that we haven’t seen in the past,” Blinken remarked. “And the change is this: All of these countries now want a region that’s more integrated. They want a region that includes Israel. They’re prepared to do things, to make commitments, to give assurances for Israel’s security. But that also has to include the Palestinian piece.”

In other words, the final outcome of the present conflict should be a two-state solution with Israel and Palestine living side by side, enjoying good political and commercial relations with their neighbors. But Israel cannot be asked to sign up to such a vision as long as US allies in the region—most clearly, Qatar and Turkey—cozy up to Hamas and laud it as a legitimate “resistance” organization. Both those countries need to be told by Washington that the price of inclusion in any peace process is throwing Hamas under the bus because Hamas isn’t going to be part of any post-war settlement. With a regional conflagration still very much a possibility, the time to deliver that message is very much now.

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‘American Leadership Will Not Waver’: Senate Passes $95.3 Billion Aid Package for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan

US President Joe Biden addresses the nation on the Hamas onslaught against Israel. Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

After months of negotiations, the Senate passed a $95.3 billion aid package for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan on Tuesday by a vote of 70-29. 

The bill, if signed by President Biden, would provide $14 billion in military assistance to Israel to help it replenish the Iron Dome and weapons that can help it defeat Hamas. While US President Joe Biden supports the bill, it is not certain to pass the House of Representatives.

The aid package gives $9.2 billion for humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, along with people in Ukraine and other war zones. However, it is well documented that much of the aid to Gaza does not reach Palestinian civilians but instead goes to Hamas.

The bill also provides about $5 billion toward countering Chinese aggression and $2.5 billion for fighting the Houthis as they continue to terrorize civilian ships in the Red Sea, disrupting global trade.

In the immediate aftermath of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said the bill’s passage showed “that American leadership will not waver, not falter, not fail.” 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel (R-KY) said, in a statement, that “Our adversaries want America to decide that reinforcing allies and partners is not in our interest, and that investing in strategic competition is not worth it. They want us to take hard-earned credibility and light it on fire.”

“But today,” he wrote, “the Senate responded by reaffirming a commitment to rebuild and modernize our military, restore our credibility, and give the current Commander-in-Chief, as well as the next, more tools to secure our interests.”

More progressive members of the Senate objected to funding Israel in its war against Hamas. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), called the idea of voting for Israel funding “unconscionable.” He wrote, “This bill provides Netanyahu $10 billion more in unrestricted military aid for his horrific war against the Palestinian people. That is unconscionable. I will vote NO on final passage.”

Some conservatives also voted against the bill because it did not include provisions to secure the U.S.’s southern border. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), released a statement making clear that while “It is important that Israel eradicates Hamas, that Taiwan remains resilient against China’s threats, and that Ukraine defeats Russia,” he would vote for the bill “only after America’s border is secured.”

The bill faces an uphill battle to pass in the House, where Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has suggested provisions will have to be added to secure the southern border for him to bring it to the floor for a vote.

He said, “House Republicans were crystal clear from the very beginning of discussions that any so-called national security supplemental legislation must recognize that national security begins at our own border.“ 

Johnson continued, “In the absence of having received any single border policy change from the Senate, the House will have to continue to work its own will on these important matters.”

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Police are investigating after a group of anti-Israel protesters targeted Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital

Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, a century-old Canadian medical institution originally built for Jewish doctors and patients who faced discrimination but which now treats all the city’s residents, became the latest target of anti-Israel protests on Feb.12. Protesters took over portions of southbound University Avenue with one individual climbing a scaffold and waving the Palestinian flag […]

The post Police are investigating after a group of anti-Israel protesters targeted Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Yeshiva Loses its Ninth Student in War in Gaza

Fallen Israeli soldier Maj. Gen. Ziv Chen. Source: Twitter/X

Israelis on Monday woke up to bittersweet news: the good was the successful rescue of two hostages from the Gaza Strip. The bad, that three soldiers, Maj. Gen. Ziv Chen, Lt. Col. Nathaniel Elkoubi, and Maj. Yair Cohen were killed in separate fighting in the Strip.

Chen, 27, from Kfar Saba, was a graduate of a religious Zionist yeshiva in southern Israel which has now lost nine students in the war against Hamas in Gaza.

“We wanted to believe that we had finished paying the heavy price,” the head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Chaim Wolfson, told Hebrew media.

The yeshiva, Yeruham Hesder, is a program for observant Israelis who wish to combine regular military service with Torah study. A longer program than regular enlistments – five years total – there are thousands of students every year participating.

“We have lost a mainstay of the Beit Midrash (study hall). Ziv, as his name is, was all light,” Rabbi Wolfson added. “A loving and beloved man, I will bless you, everything he did was with infinite love. He loved people, loved the Torah, and everything he was involved in was done wholeheartedly.”

Chen was set to celebrate his wedding anniversary this upcoming Sunday with his wife Hillel, his family said.

At the funeral, held on Tuesday in his hometown, accompanied by hundreds of Israelis paying their respects, his uncle, Danny Chen, said about the fallen soldier: “He was a salt of the earth, a brilliant yeshiva student who loved the Land of Israel. He was a walking encyclopedia, very knowledgeable. Saturday night, two weeks ago, I saw him for the last time, always hugging and kissing. An exemplary child, a great loss. We are all shocked and hurt.”

The organization overseeing the Hesder yeshivot, the Hesder Yeshiva Association, released a statement that said, “We bitterly mourn the death of the soldier Maj. Gen. Ziv Chen, a fighter in the Givati ​​Brigade, student of the Hesder Yeshiva Yeruham, who fell in the war. On behalf of the leaders of the Hesder Yeshivas and all the rabbis and students, we embrace the family, the the rabbis of the yeshiva, its students and graduates, and pray for an overwhelming victory of our heroic soldiers over our vile and cruel enemies. May his soul be wrapped in the bundle of life.”

The three soldiers who perished on Monday were the victims of an IED explosion in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, where the IDF has been concentrating its fighting for the last few weeks.

As mentioned, Chen is the ninth soldier to fall during the war from the Yeroham Yeshiva. The other eight are: Sergeant Ariel Eliyahu, 19, Staff Sergeant Yanon Fleishman, 31, First Sergeant Eitan Dov Rosenzweig, 21, Captain Eitan Fish, 23, Sergeant Yakir Yedidia Shankolevsky, 21, Advanced Sergeant Gideon Ilani, 35, First Sergeant Elisha Levinstern, 38, and First Sergeant Ephraim Yachman, 21.


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