The Squirrel Hill Synagogue Massacre
An interview with Arsen Ostrovsky on the murderous attack on Jewish worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue and global anti-Semitism
Arsen Ostrovsky is the Executive Director of the Israeli-Jewish Congress and a leading international human rights lawyer, political analyst and commentator, with a focus on Israel and the Middle East. Arsen has testified & spoken in support of Israel before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, United Nations in New York, the European Parliament, the Knesset and various capitals and high-level gatherings in Europe and around the world. He is also considered an expert on the topics of Antisemitism, BDS, digital diplomacy, international law, the United Nations and Middle East foreign policy.
The murder of 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh by a Jew-hater was the deadliest attack on Jews in U.S. This most recent manifestation of modern anti-Semitism draws on three thousand years of hatred of the Jewish people and against Israel, the Jewish nation state. Jews in Israel and across the world, united with their co-religionist brothers and sisters in mourning their loss, were equally touched and heartened by the many members of other faiths who expressed solidarity with them.
The toxic combination of motives activating anti-Semitic attackers who target Jews, whether in the U.S., Europe or the Middle East, may stem from the far right or far left of political spectrums. However, all of them share the same poisonous root – Jew-hatred. Anti-Semitism, called the oldest hatred in the world, is further fueled by the advent of social media and various fringe social media platforms. These platforms can make it all too easy for attackers to go from ideation to activation. The hateful rhetoric seen online in English is not dissimilar to the incitement spewed against Jews on Islamist and Palestinian Arab sites in Arabic.
Particularly egregious is the insidiousness of two-faced anti-Semites in the West, like Linda Sarsour, Islamist and national co-chair of the Women's March, who exploited the Pittsburgh tragedy for a photo op. In a crass manipulation of the media, Sarsour, whose organization MPower Change raised monies for funeral costs of the Pittsburgh victims, held a vigil outside the White House. Crying crocodile tears and promising to "dismantle" anti-Semitism, Sarsour is better known for her long history of vicious verbal attacks against Zionism and the existence of Israel, home to more than 6 million Jews. Sarsour is an unapologetic supporter of the BDS economic warfare campaign to isolate and delegitimize Israel, openly embraces convicted terrorist Rasmieh Odeh who murdered Jewish Israeli civilians, and supports anti-Semites like Louis Farrakhan, who last week called Jews "termites." While MPower Change earned media credit for its fundraising efforts on behalf of the families of the victims, Sarsour's consistent association with anti-Semites who vilify living Jews exposes her hypocrisy. Sarsour is not the
only offender indulging in the charade of hiding her hatred behind a well-crafted façade. To alert the mainstream to Sarsour's cynical exploitation of this tragedy, the Jewish community needs to expose the bigotry and hatred that her true face promotes.
The two lessons learned from this painful chapter in Pittsburgh's Jewish community are that anti-Semitism doesn't distinguish between Jews or their friends, and that those who claim to support Jews in a crisis but are in league with anti-Semites, will exploit a political opportunity for their own ends. The heightened security Jews in Europe live with may well become part of future Jewish life in America. Still, the expressions of support that American Jews have found from fellow citizens of other faiths should be nurtured because history has shown that what starts with Jews seldom ever ends with the Jews.
Qatar's Soft Power Threat
An interview with Ronald Sandee, Dutch intelligence analyst cyber-attacked by Qatar.
Ronald Sandee is a former senior analyst with Dutch Military Intelligence where he worked on issues regarding the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, as well as organized crime and terrorism with a focus on the al-Qa'ida network in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa. In 2013 he began working as a private consultant and a chief global jihad analyst for Kronos Advisory and is currently the Co-founder of Blue Water Intelligence, a research group based in the Netherlands.
Sandee's intelligence organization, Blue Water, is a consortium of counter terror experts serving the public and private sector. Schooled in the history of Islamist threats in the Netherlands, Sandee cited the current threat posed by returnees from Syria and Iraq who were ISIS fighters and their supporters. While Dutch authorities remain vigilant in monitoring jihadis radicalized in jail, Sandee cited a thwarted bomb attack targeting a large event in the Netherlands by recently released plotters who were still connected to al Qaeda and its aim to attack Western targets.
Among the threats targeting the West is Qatar. The Persian Gulf state successfully counters the West by playing a double game, masking its malign influence through soft power means. Sandee was recently a victim of a cyber-attack by the Qatari government for his open criticism of that country's support of the Muslim Brotherhood and of jihadi factions in Africa and Syria, as well as Qatar's relations with Iran.
The lure of Qatar's billions have caused politicians in Europe and the U.S. to turn a blind eye to Doha's support of Islamists and terrorists, thus failing in their responsibility to protect Western interests. Qatar's purchase of Western real estate and soccer teams is part of their bid to host the World Cup. Given the lucrative deals offered to Western contractors, slave conditions endured by thousands of workers in Qatar goes ignored.
The strategic use of soft power can be furthered by "agents of influence" who impact government policies. Such was the case in the U.S. with the Palestinian Terrorism International Support Prevention act, a legislative proposal introduced in May 2017 with bipartisan support. The act would have required the U.S. government to designate Qatar as a state sponsor of terrorism for sheltering Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Enter agent of influence Joey Allaham, an American Jewish businessman and one of the lobbyists hired by Qatar to promote trips to Doha for pro-Israel Jewish-American community leaders. These same lobbyists who successfully courted the Jewish community leaders also met with members of Congress and circulated a memo that the legislation was a threat to the Qatari-U.S. relationship. Qatar's influence operation, currently under civil investigation, torpedoed the legislation that would have undermined its support of terrorist groups that target Jews specifically and Western liberal democracies in general.
In Europe, France is now engaged in a large criminal investigation involving Qatar's relationship with former French president Sarkozy amid reports of policies that were influenced through bribes. Still, Qatar has been very effective in thwarting investigations with its effective use of its monies. Doha is now focused largely on increasing the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe and supporting new Salafist centers, an incubator for ISIS fighters in Syria.
Among the European politicians who understand the corrosive impact of Islamism are Geert Wilders and Thierry Baudet in the Netherlands. In France, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has been vocal in his criticism of the Qatari government for funding the kidnapping of French nationals in Cameroon a few years ago. British politicians also understand the Islamist threat but are largely unwilling to take effective actions.
Another area of Sandee's expertise is NATO and its presence in Afghanistan. Assessing that there is no good exit strategy for NATO or the Europeans, many NATO alliance partners remain in Afghanistan for strategic reasons to stay ahead of events there that are affected by China and India. Prospects for any deals with the Taliban are doubtful because of their xenophobia and highly tribal nature. It is difficult to see a future for the Afghan people who are the victims in the many political games being played out in Afghanistan.
Summary accounts by Marilyn Stern, Communications Coordinator for the Middle East Forum