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Poised to Sanction IDF, Biden Administration Runs Hard Left NGO’s Playbook

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Follow Steve Postal: @HebraicMosaic

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This week, the Biden administration is planning on sanctioning Israel’s IDF unit Netzah Yehudah for alleged human rights violations. The administration is preparing to prevent the battalion from receiving any US aid and training, leveraging the 1997 Leahy Law that prohibits such aid and training to foreign military and police that have violated human rights. The State Department is also considering applying such sanctions to other IDF units, and has been investigating IDF units “for well over a year,” according to Israeli press. In fact, the State Department has established a “Israel Leahy Vetting Forum” which months ago recommended that “multiple” Israeli police and military units be sanctioned under the Leahy Law.

The State Department’s pending sanctions come right from the playbook of a radical far left NGO. According to Arutz Sheva (citing Israel Hayom), Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN) has been pushing for the Biden administration to sanction Israeli military units. DAWN was founded by Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist with a checkered past who was murdered by Saudi agents in October 2018. By looking at a recent report by NGO Monitor, as well as DAWN’s own words, DAWN has been agitating against Israel for quite some time. DAWN stands for the following:

Sanctioning the IDF. DAWN called for the State Department to sanction Israel’s military as recently as April 19 of this year. In November 2022 and June 2023, DAWN asked the State Department to apply the Leahy Law to sanction Israel’s Netzah Yehudah battalion. In July 2023, DAWN then asked the State Department to do the same thing, on the same grounds, to Israel’s YAMAN counter-terrorism unit.

Arms Embargo to Israel. In November 2023, DAWN called for an arms embargo to Israel, especially calling out the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Italy, and the Netherlands. DAWN had similarly called for an arms embargo to Israel in August 2021. A mere week after Hamas’ October 7 attack, DAWN called on the United States to “monitor and restrict [the] use of U.S. weapons by Israel to avoid complicity in war crimes.” DAWN had specifically signed a letter to the Biden administration calling for an end to weapons sales to Israel in July 2021. In May 2021, DAWN opposed the State Department granting Israel an export license for $735 million in weapons.

Political cover to Hamas. DAWN has run interference for Hamas several times. After Hamas’ October 7 attack, DAWN’s executive director bizarrely predicted that the attack would cause “…major PR problems for Israel because each death will confirm it’s [the October 7 attack perpetrators] an Israeli ISIS.” In December 2023, again rather than condemning Hamas for October 7 and its continued war crimes, DAWN called on the ICC to prosecute 40 IDF officers for war crimes over Israel’s counter-offensive against Hamas. DAWN’s Director of Research for Israel-Palestine called Israel’s trial of Mohammad al-Halabi  “outrageous” in February 2022, only to see an Israeli court convict al-Halabi months after for diverting aid money away from an NGO to Hamas.

Upending US interests in the Middle East. DAWN is not only seeking the unravelling of the US-Israel relationship, but the dismantling of the United States’ relationship with many of its Arab allies as well, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt. DAWN’s website contains specific profiles criticizing Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Jordan, and “Israel-Palestine,” and several articles critical of Bahrain and Morocco. In contrast, DAWN does not devote similar energy to condemning Iran, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Qatar, Turkey, or Algeria. DAWN also opposed the Abraham Accords, and later called on its Arab signatories to withdraw from the Accords and cease military cooperation with Israel. These data points all suggest that DAWN favors a complete upending of US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Spreading libels against Israel. DAWN has called Israel an “apartheid” country multiple times, and has falsely accused Israel of not living up to obligations to vaccinate Palestinians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ties to CAIR. Lastly, DAWN’s board includes Nihad Awad, the Executive Director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Awad has made several pro-Hamas statements, including immediately after October 7, and CAIR has supported the BDS movement, claims that Israel is an apartheid state, and its members have spread anti-Semitic rhetoric in the US.

It remains to be seen if the Biden administration will move forward on sanctioning the IDF. While Israeli readouts of recent conversations between Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicate that Israel is trying to convince the Biden administration to not sanction any IDF units, the State Department’s readouts of both calls interestingly omit this discussion. However, one thing is clear: the Biden administration is on the verge of implementing policies of a highly anti-American, anti-Israel NGO.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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