Why President Trump should be careful in listening to Ronald Lauder regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Sunday, May 14, 2017. It is Mother’s Day, and an old man is very slowly walking North on Madison Avenue. Roughly a block behind him a Maybach Mercedes limousine is following in equidistance and close to the curb. Appearing sad and lonely on Mother’s Day, and not even looking at the storefronts he is passing, the man seems to get his daily exercise, closely watched by his driver.

He is Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress, once Assistant Secretary of Defense, U.S. ambassador to Austria under President Ronald Reagan, failed candidate for Mayor of New York City (losing to Rudi Giuliani in the Republican primary), philanthropist, art collector and founder of the Neue Museum on 86th Street and Fifth Avenue. Scion of the Lauder clan and Chairman Emeritus of Estée Lauder Companies, and, because he has known President Donald Trump for decades, he, currently, plays an outsized role in U.S. foreign policy that nobody knows about.

President Trump is known to be a good listener. On complicated subjects (and practically every issue reaching the President of the U.S. is highly complex since easier to resolve matters are handled at lower administrative levels), he also likes receiving diverse opinions. But he is also known to be easily swayed by the last opinion he hears. On February 15 of this year (Valentine’s Day) President Donald Trump welcomed Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House for their first face-to face-meeting and, as it turns out, and unreported by the media, Ronald Lauder played a very important role in that meeting.

On the surface, and as the usually divided mass media in this case unanimously reported, the meeting went exceedingly well; but Israeli sources tell a different story: Shortly before arriving at the White House, the Israeli delegation learned that Ronald Lauder succeeded in seeing the President in the Oval Office just before Netanyahu’s arrival at the White House. This immediately raised concerns because a, once very close political and personal relationship between Lauder and Netanyahu, had crumbled, as Netanyahu, increasingly, had realigned with another U.S. billionaire, Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino magnate. Initially a vocal supporter of the conservative Likud party in Israel, Lauder developed strong ties to Benjamin Netanyahu. In 1990, during Netanyahu’s first term as prime Minister, he even served as secret go-between in negotiations with Hafez-al- Assad, then the President of Syria.

After failing in his attempts to get elected Mayor of New York City, Lauder initiated a new business career, separate from the Lauder cosmetic empire by investing in real estate and media properties mostly in former Communist countries, like Hungary (where his family came from), Romania and Poland but he also made a major investment in Channel 10, one of two licensed commercial television channels in Israel at the time.

A 2015 report by Amir Teig in Israel’s strongly left-leaning Haaretz newspaper suggested that Lauder abandoned that investment 11 years later, losing some $130 million. Concomitantly, according to the same article, his business empire in Eastern Europe crumbled, “leading to his distancing from circles of power and seriously damaging his statesmanlike image.” Teig also noted that “when Netanyahu and Lauder were on good terms, the broadcaster (Channel 10) received what it wanted; and when Lauder and Netanyahu had a falling out – then the Prime Minister made things as difficult as he could for the station.”

The cooling relationship between Netanyahu and Lauder was replaced by an increasingly close personal and political relationship between Netanyahu and Adelson, who made major media investments in Israel, and whose media properties aggressively supported Netanyahu (and do so still today). Lauder, according to Teig, never hesitated to use his political standing in the Jewish community as President of the World Jewish Congress to enhance his own private business interests (as his personal conflict with the Hungarian Prime Minister Urban over one of his investments in Hungary well demonstrated, not always to the advantage of the world’s Jewish communities). Using his pulpit as president of World Jewish Congress, Lauder, after his falling out with Netanyahu, also did not hesitate to publically criticize the Israeli Prime Minister on political matters pertaining to the State of Israel. Their falling out became personal.

This explains concern by members of the Israeli delegation when they found out that Lauder had arranged a meeting with President Trump, and had left the Oval Office literally only minutes before Netanyahu’s arrival. Their concerns were confirmed, when the Israeli delegation learned from White House sources that Lauder badmouthed the Israeli Prime Minister and “had warned Trump from trusting Netanyahu,” had accused Netanyahu (and not, as one would have expected, Palestinian President Abbas) “of being responsible for the break down in peace talks with the Palestinians,” of “ subverting the idea of a two-state solution,” and had “strongly recommended against moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem,” as Trump had promised in his election campaign as one of his first steps after being elected President.

Though the Trump – Netanyahu meeting was still remarkably friendly in comparison to the chilly, at times almost hostile meetings between Netanyahu and President Obama, it dampened Israeli expectations, which, up to that point, had been, as Israeli sources noted, “likely greatly exaggerated.” One of the reasons why they had been exaggerated was a visit to the White House a few days earlier by Sheldon Adelson, in which Adelson had given Trump exactly the opposite assessment of Netanyahu and his policies.

The announced delay in moving the embassy to Jerusalem and some other signals the Trump administration has been giving to the Israeli government during the Washington visit, and since (like a warning about settlement expansions), appear to suggest that Lauder’s influence on Trump appears to have outweighed Sheldon Adelson’s, even though the latter had been the biggest single donor to Trump’s campaign and inauguration.

This is, of course, on one hand good news because it suggests that Trump is not influenced by donations to his campaign. On the other hand, it, however, is worrisome, – not only because it questions how real Trump’s pre-election commitment to Israel really is but also, because it, once again, reinforces the message that to be the last to whisper into Trump’s ears before a decision is made, appears to be very important.

The deepest cause of concern lies, however, in that Lauder’s obvious history of self-aggrandizement and abuse of the position as President of the World Jewish Congress for personal gains, now points toward the possibility that he, in his personal animus toward Netanyahu, may endanger the State of Israel. If a Jewish leader from the political left would have done what Lauder did, he, rightly, would be accused of treason toward the State of Israel. That an alleged Likudnik, like Lauder, would do this is, however, simply, beyond comprehension.
Time to resign as President of the World Jewish Congress, Mr. Lauder! And for President Trump, this is one more example that people you trust must, first, be very carefully vetted.

The Canary

Western Islamophobia: Who Are We Kidding?

Islamophobia in America

There is so much talk these days about Islamophobia and anti-Muslim discrimination, yet worldwide statistics demonstrate convincingly that, despite all the atrocities committed by Muslim extremists, anti-Semitism is actually growing much faster than anti-Muslim fervor, especially in Europe.

This is a rather fascinating observation, considering that Jews in Europe never threatened the lives of others, never proselytized their religion and never wanted to change their host countries’ governances. Radical Islam openly threatens innocent lives on a daily basis and openly proclaims its goal of upending Western society and democratic government structures in favor of Islamic Sharia law. This is no longer only a desire of radical Islam; the Muslim Brotherhood, considered by much of the European Union and the Obama administration to represent moderate Islam, is openly committed to governance under Sharia.

Threats no longer come from just the radical sectors of Muslim countries. The same ideology expressed by longtime radicals is now expressed by recently-radicalized Muslims living in Western societies, where they (or their parents) had settled to supposedly improve their lives over what they had left behind. Now, they paradoxically attempt to convert their host nations to the same 16th century-style governance that they (or their parents) fled before receiving sanctuary in the West.

Yet despite increasing fear of radical Islam, statistics in European countries and the U.S. persistently record significantly more anti-Semitic than Islamophobic hate crimes. The reasons are unclear but, at least in Europe, growing Muslim populations, characterized by overt societal anti-Semitism, are widely suspected as a principal cause of this.

Dictionaries define the term “anti-Semitism” as discrimination, prejudice or hostility toward Jews for no other reason but their Jewish heritage. Islamophobia is similarly described as discrimination, prejudice and hostility being unjustly directed at Muslims.

Superficially, these definitions are almost identical. Closer examinations of their meanings, however, reveals very obvious differences: While anti-Semitism is directed at a peaceful religion and a well-integrated ethnic minority, to many that are full participants in their local societies, Islamophobia represents a different phenomena, and is a far more urgent concern.

First of all, it is didactically misleading since phobias are irrational, psycho-socially abnormal behavior patterns, and concerns about radical Islam are neither irrational nor psychologically abnormal behavior. The term, therefore, is factually incorrect because, in contrast to Judaism and all other major world religions, Islam is not only a religion but also a political movement with its own distinct anti-democratic political ideology.

If one were to discriminate or express prejudice and hostility toward Muslims because of their religion, such activity would be labeled as anti-Semitism. To publically express opposition to the political ideology of Islam, which is anti-democratic and contradictory to constitutions of practically all Western democracies, cannot, however, be labeled as discriminatory, prejudicial or hostile to a religion. The protection of a democratic constitution against undemocratic dictatorial forces is, indeed, the sworn duty of every citizen in Western democracies.

Nobody would be considered a religious bigot just because he opposes Communism, Fascism or other dictatorial ideological movements. Yet, criticism of Islamic political ideology immediately conjures the b-word, and raises the specter of Islamophobia. If the Muslim Brotherhood (widely present in most U.S. mosques, and representing most of the organized Muslim political power structure in the U.S.) were to restrict itself only to representation of Islam as a religion, it would be viewed as are representatives of any other major religion. But by actively propagating the introduction of Sharia in their many mosques, the Brotherhood becomes a political organization whose goals are incompatible with the U.S. constitution.

Paradoxically, it is exactly the political ideology of Islam that explains the strong association that the political left in Western democracies has forged with Muslims over the last few decades. On first impression, such a coalition would appear unlikely since the political left has, traditionally, been secular. Yet, despite the obvious religiosity of Islam, its religiously motivated anti-democratic tendencies, its radical discrimination of women and the ideological overlaps between Islam and the third-world, anti-imperialistic socialist ideology (including anti-colonialism, anti-Judeo-Christian morality and strong, third-world, underclass affinities with people of color) have established a strong emotional as well as a political alliance between the political left and Islam.

This coalition has been developing since the mid-1960s, and came together for the first time following the Arab-Israeli Six-Day War in 1967, in which Israel annihilated the combined armies of the Muslim Arab world and conquered all of the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. Suddenly, the prior underdog, Israel, morphed in the eyes of the political left into a White European Colonial outpost in the Muslim Middle East, obviously overlooking the fact that almost half of Israel’s Jewish population were not of European descent but actually refugees from African and Muslim countries. Picking up the argument of the Muslim world, the political left concurred that the Crusaders had returned and conquered Jerusalem again: but that this time, the Crusaders were not Christians but ‘The Jews.’

History demonstrates that anti-Semitism was religious at times over the past centuries, and at other times economic; but it always was used as a political tool of governing classes, whether during the monarchies in England, Spain or Russia; the Catholic church in her fiefdoms in Italy; rightist political parties in Fin-de-Ciecle Vienna at the end of the 19th century; Nazism in Hitler’s Germany or Communism in Russia (and later in the Soviet Bloc under Stalin and his successors).
In other words, anti-Semitism has over centuries been used as a political tool by both the political right as well as the political left. We now appear to have entered another historical period of political anti-Semitism on the political left.

It wasn’t always like that: Israel was founded on socialist principles in 1948. Her political leaders were among the founders of the Socialist International: the social-democratic leadership forum of social democratic political parties that were established after WWII. But everything changed with the 1967 war. Though widely recognized as a war of defense for Israel, the subsequent occupation of Arab lands branded the country as a neo-colonialist power in the eyes of the left. Even today, almost 50 years later, it is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East. But the majority of the Socialist International continues to view Israel with political distain. Through becoming a dominant military and economic power in the Middle East, Israel, like the U.S., is seen as a vestige of unmitigated capitalism and economic as well as military colonialism: little Satan and big Satan, as the Islamic Republic of Iran likes to call both countries.

Until the Obama administration came to power, following their Judeo-Christian believe systems, Israel and the U.S. shared most definitions of political rights and wrongs. The political left, however, believes that this view leads to neo-colonialism, and that it is reactionary in its rejection of the political relativism of the left.

This political relativism of the left allows and even encourages those considered to be suppressed by colonialism to revolt. Under the believe system of political relativism, the “oppressed” can practically do no wrong, and are even in the right when committing acts of terror, kidnappings, mass murder, abuses of civilian populations and initiating wars if it is in the name of freedom and social justice. So naturally, Hamas (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) and Hezbollah (a vassal of Iran) are considered moderate political organizations to the political left. It is almost surprising that the left has not embraced ISIS.

Threatened since its creation by the United Nations in 1948 with extinction, the country of Israel, despite its founder’s socialist traditions, could not afford to go along with the moral relativism of the political left, which increasingly sided with those who openly sought her destruction. The country, along with over 200 member states of the United Nations, is the only that is openly threatened with extinction by other member states (Iran and others). Yet no resolution ever condemned such threats. Indeed, over 90 percent of resolutions of condemnation in the various bodies of the United Nations are directed at Israel every year. Though it is the only parliamentary democracy in the Middle East, Israel cannot even get nominated as a member of the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission. In the meantime, human rights pariahs like Iran, Libya and Saudi Arabia are routinely elected.

So, the history of recurrent political anti-Semitism appears to repeat itself: the world needs a bogeyman, and nobody is better suited for this role than ’The Jew,’ – this time in the form of the Jewish state of Israel, which, objectively, is one of the world’s great national success stories.

Even the U.S. political system is proof of the connection between anti-Israel polemics and unadulterated anti-Semitism. One just has to listen to some of the sermons of President Obama’s longtime pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and of his ideological twin, the Nation of Islam’s Minister Louis Farrakhan. Both are well-known Afro-centric racists and anti-Semites who discovered their Jewish bogeyman!

Like many politicians of the political left in Europe before them, members of President Obama’s foreign relations team have expressed the opinion that the creation of Israel was a political mistake. This is not a new opinion in this country’s foreign policy establishment. Indeed, when President Truman ordered a United Nations vote in favor of Israel’s creation in 1948, he overruled his own Secretary of State. Such opinions voiced by the current administration, however, deserve attention, since the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel has been clearly influenced by the administration’s leftish ideology. So it should not surprise that we have witnessed a clear turn away from the traditional support of Israel, and more alignment with antagonistic policies toward Israel from the European Union.

Economic and academic boycott movements against Israel started in the UK and Scandinavian countries (mostly Norway and Sweden). They were initiated by leftish fringe groups but appropriated over time by social democratic politicians all over Europe, and became official policy of some social democratic political parties and governments led by those parties in Sweden and Norway. Boycott movement have also crossed the Atlantic and are now present on most college campuses in the U.S., once again demonstrating the common cause of the political left fringe and Muslim groups.

Outright anti-Israel stances are still rare in U.S. politics but, as noted before, the U.S.–Israel relationship has changed decisively under President Obama. Moreover, it was surprising to see how much political support Israel has lost from the left in Congress, when even prominent Jewish politicians in the Democratic Party publically supported President Obama’s Iran deal, which was considered an existential threat to Israel. It was also interesting to note that, desperate to secure votes to prevent the override of a potential Obama veto, the administration did not hesitate to subtly raise concerns about Jewish dual loyalty, an argument that has fed anti-Semitic prosecutions of Jews for centuries.

Though he describes himself as “Israel’s best friend in the White House,” he is a politician brought up on the extreme Marxist left, with a Muslim Marxist father dedicated to fighting British Colonialism (for details see The Canary’s earlier biographical series on President Obama). Obama’s psychological affinities to leftist ideologies render him sympathetic to the European Socialist view on Israel. Socialist ideology has dominated his presidency from the beginning, whether in domestic or foreign policy. In one of his first acts as President, he actually removed Winston Churchill’s bust from the Oval Office because he did not, unlike most Americans, see him as a WWII hero but as the villain of British colonialism between the two World Wars. Considering Obama’s foreign policy toward Israel, his very public support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Muslim Brotherhood offshoots in the U.S., is no wonder that President Obama’s relationship to ‘The Jews’ has been questioned. Some media outlets have publically questioned whether President Obama should be considered anti-Semitic.

Once his White House tapes became public, President Richard R. Nixon did not mince words in his conversations with Kissinger, which could be viewed as anti-Semitic. But he likely saved Israel after the surprise attack by Egyptian and Syrian armies when he expedited weapon deliveries during the Yom Kippur War. President Lyndon B. Johnson was also known to have uttered anti-Semitic remarks at times. But a few such remarks do not yet make an anti-Semite.

While nobody reported President Obama to have made an anti-Semitic remark, his intimate 20-year relationship with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a flaming anti-Semite with violently anti-Israeli view points, suggests that future presidential historians will have to pay close attention to this question when assessing Obama’s presidency. Such a close assessments of the administration’s attitude toward Islam will not be required because no other population, African Americans included, has received as much positive attention from the Obama Administration. But who would have expected anything else from the most socialist administration in decades?

We Were Right: Obama Will Do Everything to Destroy Israel

Canary in the Mine: Obama 1

“We predicted outright confrontation between Obama and the Jewish state for the time period after the November elections in our pre-election profile series on Obama. We then also noted the considerable influence the Rev. Wright exerted on Obama’s worldview. However, even we underestimated the degree of antagonism Obama would publicly demonstrate against Israel and the country’s leadership. He very obviously cannot help himself.”

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Why Netanyahu’s Speech to Congress Matters

Canary in the Mine: Netanyahu

While Democrats may feel blindsided by the arrangement, Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, planned secretly by Republicans, huge implications for American Jewry:  U.S. Jews, who have historically favored Democrats over Republicans, will not only be able to see where the Democratic Party really stands in regard to Israel but, by extension, toward Jewry in general.

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Israel in Crisis: Will the United States Continue to Support Netanyahu?

Canary in the Mine: Netanyahu

The Democratic Party started to shift away from supporting Israel during the 2012 Democratic Convention, when Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa faced fierce resistance from the floor in attempting to reinsert the longstanding recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel into the official Party Platform.

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How Israel Became the Enemy

Canary in the Mine: Netanyahu

In our last post, we discussed how Jews had helped found the European socialist movement to then become excommunicated by that very movement.

After Israel’s overwhelming military victory against the united Arab world in the 1967 Six-Day War, the political left immediately started questioning the continuous inclusion of Jews and their nation-state, Israel, in the international socialistic brotherhood. Indeed, the left increasingly rejected the concept of the Jewish “victim,” and replaced him with a brand-new victim – the “Palestinian”-Arab. This concept had never even existed before 1967.

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A History of Judaism and the Political Left

Canary in the Mine: Judaism

The French journalist Jacques Mallet du Pan (1749-1800) is credited with coining the adage “la révolution dévore des enfants” or “the revolution devours its children.” This observation was initially made in commenting on the excesses of the French Revolution (1789-1799) and has been used repeatedly throughout history in times of upheaval.

Jews have been leading figures of social movements and social revolutions throughout history. Eli Barnavi, Professor of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University, recently noted in an article on Jewish Socialism in Europe that over the last 200 years, every generation of Jews has generated a small group of activists who fought for a type of social utopia: In Germany, Jews were the pioneers of the socialist workers’ movement after the industrial revolution, when Moses Hess introduced Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to Historical Materialism. Marx and Engels, of course, co-authored the Communist Manifesto in 1848, and Engels financially supported Marx while the latter wrote Das Kapital.

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