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Obama Fires Back at Criticism for Refusing to Say 'Radical Islam': No Letup Seen in ISIS Terror for US & Western Cities

By DEBKAfile (Analysis)

President Barack Obama assaulted Donald Trump's proposal of a ban on Muslims entering the country, saying the suggestion violates the principles of American democracy. Seeking to increase surveillance of American Muslims or create a religious test for who can enter the country are antithetical to America's core principles, would fuel extremist propaganda, and could actually make the country less safe.

Likewise labeling terrorists who pervert a great religion as representing Islam. Obama claimed that the US war on ISIS in Iraq, Syria and Libya was making good progress. Obama offered no clear strategy for destroying ISIS other than predicting a long, hard road for his too-little, too-late military interventions overseas. That was evident from his latest speech Tuesday, June 14.

Realizing this, Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Bagdadi still does not feel threatened by military defeat, and whenever his forces are pushed back on one front, he promptly opens a new one. And so, when earlier this year, US and Russian-backed local forces aided by air strikes began forcing ISIS out of territory it had occupied since 2014 in Syria and Iraq. ISIS shifted a large part of its forces to Libya and opened a third front there.

The 5,000 Islamist fighters were quietly moved from Iraq to southern Jordan, from there to the Sinai Peninsula and from Egypt to Libya. How come that neither the Americans nor anyone else in the West acted to thwart this large-scale military movement?

Only after ISIS had got itself well organized in Libya, some 200km from Europe, did the Americans and Europeans step in to launch a limited military strike. ISIS also boosted another important front by launching and sponsoring terrorist assaults in American and European cities.

Obama described the war on the terror organization from a one-sided perspective, as though only his side was making progress on the battlefield. However, DEBKAfile military and counter terrorism sources say this account is skewed. Like any other tough war still in progress, both contestants have good days of achievements and bad days of failures.

The Orlando terror attack on June 12, when 49 Americans were murdered by a young Muslim man who swore allegiance to al-Baghdadi was one of the bad days, on which America suffered an agonizing blow. In his speech, Obama bent all his rhetoric skill and intelligence to drawing a thick line between 29-year-old Omar Mateen and "one of the world's great religions" by dismissing him as a "disturbed individual" notwithstanding the mass-murderer's oath of allegiance to the ISIS leader.

Obviously, any young Muslim ready to die in the service of ISIS for a terrorist attack on harmless civilians is "disturbed." This label is not a strategy and it will endure in the very short term only up to the next attack by an Islamic terrorist. Neither can such language be simplistically applied for thwarting terrorism, such as the jihadist killing sprees at San Bernardino, Paris and Brussels, the blowing-up of Russian and Egyptians airliners, the murderous assaults in Amman, Jordan and the Sarona Market in Tel Aviv - and now, Orlando, which capping a run of disasters that spread like a malignant plague in under a year.

Obama's words will not reassure worried and suffering Americans that the plague is over. His tactic, used also by the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, to urge restricting the purchase of guns as the main root of the evil, is no more than a distraction from the main cause. Denying Muslim terrorists free access to assault rifles will not stop them from getting hold of these guns and other weapons of death from illicit sources.

The same goes for Obama's lengthy defense against critics who accuse him of deliberately avoiding using the term "radical Islam" in relation to terror. "What exactly would using this label accomplish?" he asked rhetorically. "What exactly would it change? Would it make ISIL less committed to try and kill Americans?"

The truth is that a clear and precise definition of the enemy is vital to any nation and army fighting a war. When this definition is fuzzy or imprecise, the war is liable to continue to limp along as it does today against an enemy whose main advantage is relentless, undivided resolve. Even if Obama is correct in calling ISIS a perversion of Islam that is not shared by a billion Muslims worldwide, it will continue to spread, in the absence of a practical strategy for stemming Islamic terror, and American and European cities will continue to live under its dark cloud.

Huckabee: 'America Looks in the Mirror and Sees Israel'


"Every friend of Israel is a friend of the United States and every enemy of Israel is an Enemy of the United States," said former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and two-time GOP presidential hopeful. Speaking on Wednesday during the second day of the 16th annual Herzliya Conference, Huckabee said "America is looking into the mirror and sees Israel."

Huckabee immediately noted that the greatest common foe facing the two countries and the free world is a "radical Islamic ideology that takes us back to the 7th century." He repeated, "We have a common enemy and that enemy is radical Islam that wishes to destroy civilization itself and wishes to turn the clock back to centuries ago."

Mentioning the tragic acts of terror in Tel Aviv and Orlando over the past week, Huckabee said that the argument about whether the Orlando shooting was a terror attack or hate crime are "ridiculous. All terror is based on hate."

He said that he feared that sometimes people were afraid "to call out the common enemy of radical Islam in case we offend someone," but went on to state that he was offended when innocent people were murdered in the name of an ideology that wishes to destroy all semblance of peace."

He referred to the "ill-fated and tragic deal to trust the Iranians" saying that "there can be no deal with those who believe it's okay to murder people" because of their race, religion or ethnicity. "It's impossible to enter into any agreement with the present leadership of Iran… I hope and pray that it will be rescinded."

Focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the talks regarding a two-state solution, Huckabee said that the idea is naïve and cannot be realized "unless both sides agree that the other side has a fundamental right to exist." He said that until there were no longer schools celebrating the death of Jews, there could be no political settlement.

He added that there was no magical formula for the issues but that the base issue of radical Islam and one people wanting to destroy another and celebrating every time someone on the other side was killed had to be solved first. "This is not a conflict about land, or about power, but about existence. Neither Israel nor the United States is perfect but we do have a system of laws that we insist are abided by… we do not name streets after or make heroes out of terrorists."

Huckabee also focused on the issue of Jerusalem, "the notion that Jerusalem should be divided is nonsense.... Only one nation in the world every claimed it as its capital… it is never even mentioned in the Quran… At some point we have to come to grips that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, not because it has been since 1948 but because it has been for 3000 and it has to be accepted."

Returning to his original point, Huckabee concluded, "We have to recognize that if it's good for Israel then it's ultimately good for the United States and if it's good for the United States then it's ultimately good for Israel… the similarities between the two countries are just too glaring to ignore… our alliance is too precious." He said that Israel's sovereignty, safety and security had to be protected because Israel was just the first "domino" and the United States would follow. "Anyone who comes after you is after us next." |

Does France Believe Tel Aviv is Palestinian Territory?


Does the French Embassy in Israel consider Tel Aviv to be Palestinian territory? According to a letter recently received by a Tel Aviv resident, that would seem to be the case. A Tel Aviv resident who applied for a French residency card was surprised to receive a document from the embassy that included the words "Tel Aviv, Israel/Palestinian Territories."

A number of documents on the official website of the French Embassy in Israel have used the phrase "Israel/Palestinian Territories" in referring to areas that are not beyond the Green Line. The French Embassy is located in Tel Aviv, but its notices have referred to the area as "Israel/Palestinian Territories."

Knesset Member MK Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu) approached Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) about the issue, asking her to summon French diplomatic representatives for clarification. "I was shocked to see that the French consulate has begun to treat the land of Israel as Palestinian territory," said Forer. "We will not accept foreign governmental bodies attempting to dictate the reality on the ground as they might want to imagine it."

The French Embassy in Israel responded to the complaint with a statement saying, "This was a technical error originating in the software. The error has been corrected and now all the documents on the website read 'Israel.'"

Iraq to Sue Israel for Destroying Nuclear Reactor in 1981


The first deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Homam Hamoudi, announced that Iraq plans to sue Israel for monetary compensation for carrying out Operation Opera, Israeli attack on the Osirak nuclear reactor in southeastern Baghdad which occurred on June 7, 1981 .

A statement published by Turkish news agency Anatolia said that "the Iraqi Foreign Ministry and the Foreign Relations Committee of the Parliament has to raise the issue in the international arena and give it special attention, especially as it is the 35th anniversary of the Israeli attack against the nuclear reactor."

At the same time, Hamoudi called on the UN to implement Security Council Resolution 487 from 1981 which gives Iraq the right to ask for compensation for the operation against the reactor, which he claims affected the country's development. In the resolution the UN Security Council demanded that "Israel, in view of its international responsibility for its act of aggression, pay prompt and adequate compensation for the material damage and loss of life suffered as a result of the said act."

Deputy Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Iraqi parliament, Abdel Bari Zibari, explained that there are several obstacles which stand in the way of filing the suit, especially the fact that so far Iraq has not received the required international assistance needed to sue Israeli regarding its attack. According to Zibari, such action requires international assistance, particularly from Security Council member countries, so that they will guarantee Iraq's right to file the lawsuit.

In the past there were voices raised in the Iraqi parliament regarding compensation from Israel due to the attack, but these never led to any concrete action. It seems that this time as well, in light of the issue having been dropped from the Iraqi agenda and Iraq's involvement in internal crises, the plans to sue will not come to fruition.


'Google of the Bible' Goes Live


"Scroll down" is taking on a new meaning: The first comprehensive Internet edition of the Bible has gone online to meet the demands of a world gone digital. On Tuesday, Herzog College, in Gush Etzion, launched -- the "Google of the Bible," as it is calling the project with the permission of Google Corporation. The online Bible is the fruit of five years of work by a team of 10 researchers who wanted to make not only the Bible itself, but also biblical commentary, scholarly articles, and religious lessons accessible through a user-friendly site. Another feature of the site is its stock of Google Maps that allow users to "tour" biblical locations.

The site launched in Hebrew and English versions, and while still in its testing version clocked hundreds of thousands of page views, 53% of them from repeat visitors. Users aged 18 to 34 comprised 40% of the visitors. Most of the visitors were based in Israel, but the site also saw traffic from the U.S., France, Russia, England, Canada, and Australia.

According to Herzog College head Rabbi Dr. Yehuda Brandes, the project includes tens of thousands of content items amassed throughout 50 years of research, study, instruction, and writing. The technological development aspect of the project was entrusted to Matrix, which built the site using open code so that external applications can be added in the future.

"This is another step in the revival of Bible study in Israel and the Diaspora and making the Bible the foundation of Israeli and Jewish identity, through a connection to the past and the future -- an ancient legacy and modern advancement," Brandes said.

Rabbi Dr. Shuky Reiss, the site's editor-in-chief, said that he expected it to become a leading Bible study tool. Over NIS 10 million ($2.6 million) has been invested in the site. Herzog College is seeking major donors who can help translate it into additional languages. The team plans to have the site translated into five more languages in 2017, as well as integrate film clips and a GPS navigation system that will enable users to navigate key biblical sites.

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