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February 2017

Israel’s economic surge in defiance of adversity Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger

1. Notwithstanding Israel’s unique challenges of the chaotically unpredictable state of the Middle East, the Islamic and Arab onslaught, the scarcity of natural resources (other than brain power), the UN enmity, the European appeasement of rogue regimes, systematic criticism by the “elite” media and the attempt to boycott, divest and sanction, the independent, non-partisan quarterly, The American Interest, stated on January 24: “This is there is a new name on our list of The Eight Greats, Israel….

“Israel is a rising power with a growing impact on world affairs…. Large off-shore discoveries of natural gas and oil are turning Israel into an energy exporter [e.g., a $3.5bn-$4bn dollar initiative was just concluded to expand Israel’s natural gas fields]…. Turkey’s ties with Israel strengthened…. Israel’s newfound clout comes from the rise of industrial sectors and technologies that good Israeli schools, smart Israeli policies and talented Israeli thinkers and entrepreneurs have built…. The rise of domestic cybersecurity and infotech economy…. Private investors all over the world look to invest in Israel’s tech startups…. It’s not just America; India, China and Russia want a piece of Israeli tech wizardry…. In the Middle East, Israel has been transformed from a pariah state to a kingmaker…. Never has Egypt-Israel security cooperation been as close as it is today…. The rise of Iran has made Israel critical to the survival of the Sunni Arabs, including the Gulf States…. Israel begins 2017 as the keystone of a regional anti-Iran alliance, a most-favored-nation in the White House and a country that enjoys good relations with all of the world’s major powers bar Iran….

2. Bloomberg, February 16, 2017: Israel’s economy grew 6.2% in the fourth quarter of 2016, its most robust gain since 2014, sending the Shekel to its strongest level in more than two years. GDP for 2016 grew 4%, the most since 2013, supported by record-low unemployment rate of 4.3% in December, 2016. Manufacturing reached its highest level in 7 years. Exports advanced 11.2% and capital investment grew by 7.4%.

3. Israel’s debt-to-GDP ratio has systematically declined (62.1% in 2016), compared with Japan’s 250.4%, the USA’s 104.9%, France’s 97.1%, the Euro bloc’s 91.7%, Britain’s 89%, Germany’s 68.2% and South Korea’s 39.9% (Globes, January 23).

4. In 2016, Israel’s population grew by 2% – compared to 1.2% globally, 0.81% in the USA and 0.18% decline in Germany – identical to Israel’s population annual growth during the last 10 years – 83% due to natural growth and 17% due to Aliyah (Jewish immigration), resulting in a substantial expansion of Israel’s infrastructures of housing, transportation, education, health, medical, etc. (Globes business daily, January 9, 2017).

5. While global venture capital funding has declined during the last two years – according to PriceWaterHouseCoopers, Money Tree and CB Insights – $420mn were invested, during January 2017, in Israel’s hightech companies, sustaining the record level of 2016. Israel’s cyber technology companies attract investments. IntSights raised $15mn, 6 months following a round of $7.5mn. Israel’s CrediFi raised $13mn (Globes, Feb. 14). Israel’s Feedvisor raised $20mn (Globes, Feb. 1). Israel’s cyber security SentinelOne raised $70mn, led by RedPoint from the Silicon Valley (Globes, January 26), which also invested $16mn – along with Emergence Capital from the Silicon Valley – in Israel’s Chorus.ai (artificial intelligence), according to Globes, Feb. 8).

6. John Donovan, AT&T’s Exec. Vice President and Chief Strategist: In 2010, we established a research & development center in Israel, which offers a unique array of startups. Unlike other US companies, which acquire Israeli companies, we consider Israel a platform of development and expansion. AT&T’s personnel has grown 20% in 2016 (Globes, Jan. 17).

New National Security Advisor doesn’t believe in “radical Islamic terrorism”? By Ed Straker

President Trump’s new National Security Advisor doesn’t believe it is “helpful” to say the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.”

President Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser has told his staff that Muslims who commit terrorist acts are perverting their religion, rejecting a key ideological view of other senior Trump advisers and signaling a potentially more moderate approach to the Islamic world.

The adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, told the staff of the National Security Council on Thursday, in his first “all hands” staff meeting, that the label “radical Islamic terrorism” was not helpful because terrorists are “un-Islamic,” according to people who were in the meeting.

Wrong. The tens of thousands of people fighting in the “Islamic State” and Al Qaida and Boko Haram and Hamas and Hizbullah are radical Muslims. To pretend that they are not Muslims is to deny who the enemy is, and to give comfort to Muslim governments like Pakistan and Iraq and Afghanistan who are on the fence about confronting radical Islamists in their own rank.

In his language, General McMaster is closer to the positions of former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Both took pains to separate acts of terrorism from Islamic teaching, in part because they argued that the United States needed the help of Muslim allies to hunt down terrorists.

So we are now back to the Obama-era policy of refusing to say who the enemy is?

I don’t blame General McMaster for his Obama-style views.

I blame Donald Trump. He and his staff did a terrible job of vetting for this position, especially since an eminently qualified candidate, John Bolton, was available. McMaster’s view of the fight against radical Islam should have been the very first question that Trump asked him. Now it looks like Trump didn’t ask the question at all.

It reminds me how President Trump promised on the campaign trail to bring back waterboarding “and worse” for terrorists, and then hired General Mattis as his Secretary of Defense. After that, Trump seemed surprised to learn that Mattis was against it. Well, so much for another campaign promise.

This has not been his only bad pick. This week he had to fight Betsy DeVos, his own Secretary of Education, who reportedly wanted the federal government to force schools to let disguised boys into girls’ bathrooms.

Donald Trump campaigned for president saying that he knew how to hire the best people. Some of his picks, like Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Scott Pruitt at the EPA, have been excellent. Others, like George Soros minion Steve Mnuchin at Treasury, and now a NSA advisor who won’t say “radical Islam,” are terrible. I think we could get the same results using a dart board or a roulette wheel.

Nine Causes of Scientific Decline in American Academia By Leo Goldstein ****

People frequently write about academic political bias but rarely about the degradation of academic scientific capacities. Nevertheless, the signs of this degradation are everywhere. One example is embracing the pseudo-science of climate alarmism. The degree of enthusiasm has varied from Caltech’s tacit approval to the full-throat fervor of Harvard University president Dr. Drew Gilpin Faust. Another sign is a chronic failure of the $300 billion-dollar-a-year post-secondary educational system to produce enough computer specialists. Lastly, there’s the academia’s failure to distance itself from the Union of Concerned Scientists (Disclosure: the author has a pending lawsuit against the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Ford Foundation and other defendants.) and the ongoing “Bill Nye the Science Guy” media hoax.

In hindsight, over the period from the late 1980s to 2016, many factors had contributed to the downfall of the academic integrity and scientific capacity. The major factors were:

1. Unnatural, politically-spurred growth of college enrollment without regard to the economic or social demand for the increasing number of college graduates and even the supply of sufficiently prepared and motivated college applicants. This quantity instead of quality approach has been known to be harmful, and it was.

2. The takeover of the universities and colleges by the New Left. Apparently, many radicals of the 60s hadn’t learned from the fall of the Soviet Union and continued to think of the U.S. as an evil “system” that needed to be overthrown. By trusting the good will of its faculty, the university system presented the New Left an excellent opportunity to sabotage scientific development. Not all radicals went into social disciplines to poison the minds of the new generation. Some of them went into science, and corrupted scientific institutions through environmental studies and other means. Their impact was amplified by big money from the Ford Foundation and its ilk.

3. Foreign influence. Science, as a pursuit of knowledge, is international. But scientific recognition can be influenced by politics. Environmental politics of the European Union in the 1990s heavily impacted scientific processes in the U.S.

One of the most important things for a scientist is the ability to publish in peer-reviewed journals. Consequently, editors of the prestigious scientific journals wield enormous power. But most English-language scientific journals have international editorial boards. Furthermore, most scientific journals are owned by foreign publishers. The three largest scientific publishers are: Reed-Elsevier (UK), Springer (Germany), and Holtzbrinck (Germany). The latter two merged in 2015. EU-centric scientific publishing has allowed EU politics to infringe on American science without people noticing.

American academia also corruptly promoted scientists for collaboration with the International Panel on Climate Change and other UN agencies.

4. The rise of “studies” with predetermined results, as opposed to the normative sciences, valued for their understanding of the laws of nature. Certain political developments caused this. Then confrontational environmentalism and tort litigation requested scientists to back their claims, no matter what, and generously paid. This went against all norms. Science starts with empirical facts (observations or experimental results) and arrives to conclusions based on them. “Post-normal science” starts with conclusions (provided by politicians or activists) and contorts itself accordingly to justify these conclusions.

Trump’s Immigration Approach Is Less Draconian than Obama’s His proposed alien removals follow his predecessor’s legacy of mass deportations. By Deroy Murdock

If President Donald J. Trump’s critics are correct, he is arranging for illegal aliens — especially those with criminal convictions — something nearly as excruciating as the Bataan Death March.

“I.C.E. MEN COMETH,” warned the front page of Wednesday’s New York Daily News.

“New immigration guidelines are about cruelty, not safety,” the San Francisco Chronicle wept.

The American Civil Liberties Union’s Joanne Lin told the Associated Press that Trump’s immigration enforcement stance is one in which “due process, human decency, and common sense are treated as inconvenient obstacles on the path to mass deportations.”

But where were these trembling voices during the Obama years?

An official report from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) suggests that Trump will struggle to match the pace at which Obama booted immigrants.

According to a document titled “FY 2016 ICE Immigration Removals,” the federal government deported 2,749,706 aliens between fiscal years 2009 and 2016 — on Obama’s watch. This averaged 343,713 deportees annually.

In fiscal year 2016 alone, Obama’s ICE kicked out 240,255 aliens, including 136,669 criminal convicts. However, the report says, “101,586 aliens removed . . . had no criminal conviction.” Furthermore, “the leading countries of origin for removals were Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador.” Obama’s disproportionately Hispanic deportees included 2,057 “suspected or confirmed gang members.”

“ICE also continues to focus on criminal aliens,” the report explains, “as 58 percent of overall ICE removals, including 92 percent of ICE removals initiated in the interior of the country, were of convicted criminals.” This echoes Trump’s promise to banish alien lawbreakers before others. “Our enforcement priorities will include removing criminals, gang members, security threats,” Trump said August 31.

Perhaps Trump echoes Obama.

America has no monopoly on deportation. Governments practice this basic function worldwide, even in countries that make American liberals swoon with social-justice fervor.

Take Mexico, a nation allegedly victimized by Trump and other gringos. It deported some 173,000 Central Americans in 2015, 70 percent more than in 2014, according to Mexico’s National Migration Institute. Why? “The government came under intense pressure from the U.S last year [2013] to crack down on migrants after waves of children from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala began arriving at the U.S.–Mexico border,” the Los Angeles Times observed.

Team Obama applied that pressure, and Mexican officials jumped.

Some 5,000 federales rolled into Chiapas, on the Guatemalan frontier. They opened border checkpoints, arrested migrants, and blocked them from a northbound train nicknamed “The Beast.”

What Is the Truth about Crime and Immigration in Sweden? The U.S. media debate has been misleading, but the biggest problem is that the Swedish political establishment doesn’t want to know the answer. By Tino Sanandaji

Last Saturday, another controversy erupted involving the now familiar mix of President Trump, the media, and immigration.

In a speech, Trump riffed on a Fox News segment he’d seen on immigration and crime in Sweden, causing much confusion. The situation hardly improved as journalists and pundits mostly unfamiliar with the topic rushed to explain the finer points of Swedish crime statistics.

So, what is the situation actually like? Nightmarish rape capital of Europe or a safe welfare state unfairly maligned by far-right agitators?

Sweden has a growing problem with crime that is linked to immigration, but the Fox News segment was sensationalistic. As with many exaggerated reports from Sweden in foreign right-wing outlets, the tone of the reporting implies there has been a large crime wave brought about by the recent migration crisis. This is misleading.

Refugees who arrived during the migration crisis are too few in number to explain much of Swedish crime trends. Sweden’s crime-heavy immigrant neighborhoods emerged gradually through the accumulated effects of many decades of immigration.

Several types of crimes such as gang shooting, arson, and sexual assault have increased in Sweden, but other categories such as assault, car thefts, and property crimes have decreased. The increase in sexual assault and violent crime is not as spectacular a development as the Fox News segment made it out to be. Even in Swedish immigrant enclaves, criminality is still fairly mild compared with U.S. crime hubs. Last year the famously multicultural Swedish city of Malmö had a homicide rate of 3 per 100,000, far lower than the 28 per 100,000 rate in Chicago.

In their response to Donald Trump, the Swedish government has pointed out that the homicide rate in Sweden is lower now than in 1990. We should nevertheless note that the homicide rate has decreased in almost every Western country since 1990, owing to social reasons, changes in attitudes, and, in part, medical advances that save the lives of more crime victims. The homicide rate in Sweden has declined less than in the United States, Western Europe, and other Nordic countries, and has increased again the last few years.

Prison Is for the Guilty The Justice Department should encourage the Supreme Court to kill the ‘responsible corporate officer’ doctrine. By Andrew C. McCarthy

No sooner had Robert M. Gill received his get-out-of-jail-free card than he was back at it again. One of a record 1,715 felons to have their lengthy jail sentences commuted by President Barack Obama, Gill celebrated his dumb luck — sudden release from his life-imprisonment term for a major narcotics-trafficking conviction — by attempting to sell two pounds of cocaine. He was captured by Texas police after a violent collision at the end of a high-speed chase.

Having inevitably done the crime, he’ll now probably do the time that should never have been interrupted. Obama justified the release of Gill and hundreds of hardened criminals on the laughable fiction that the federal penitentiaries overflow with “non-violent drug offenders.” You’re supposed to imagine jails teeming with sad-sack Millennials nabbed while toking on a joint behind the local Starbucks. Actually, it is settled law that guns are “tools of the trade” of drug dealing (which is why the cases typically feature evidence of weaponry — and often separate charges for deploying weapons in protection of the lucrative cash business). A quick perusal down the long list of Obama commutations, which includes several gun crimes along with drug offenses, puts the lie to the convict-as-victim storyline. Heather Mac Donald is right: “Prison remains a lifetime achievement award for persistence in criminal offending.”

In Obama world, there was an exception to this wisdom. The just-departed administration was just as anxious to send innocent business executives to jail as it was to spring actual criminals back onto our streets.

The vehicle for this perversion of justice is known as the “responsible corporate officer” doctrine. The Supreme Court, which created it, may soon have the chance to revisit and bury it. The Justice Department, now under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions rather than Obama’s anti-corporate zealots, should provide the shovel.

It is a bedrock principle of the criminal law that there may not be liability for a bad act in the absence of bad intent — mens rea. In fact, this is the principle that FBI director James Comey was purporting to defend — not very convincingly — when the Obama Justice Department strained to avoid indicting Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information. The requirement of mens rea for criminal liability does not mean absent-minded wrongdoers are off the hook for the damage they cause, not by a long shot. We have a very elaborate civil-justice system to address just such harms. It is not unusual for civil judgments to run into the tens of millions of dollars. If the suffering caused by a corporation is significant, civil lawsuits, including lawsuits brought by the Justice Department and government regulatory agencies, can put the company out of business.

But this is not enough for the anti-capitalist Left, for whom there is no justice but “social justice” — a morality play in which minority men are imprisoned owing solely to systemic racism while greedy executives go unscathed despite exploiting the masses for profit. For every violent crime, there is an excuse; for every business-related accident, there must be a scalp.

Sam Sacks on the Best New Fiction A riveting Israeli thriller by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen,

Even readers who didn’t manage to plow to the end of Tom Wolfe’s 1987 “The Bonfire of the Vanities” remember the novel’s crackerjack opening, in which a Manhattan yuppie and his mistress driving from the airport strike and kill a young black man and then flee the scene. Israeli writer Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, operating on the sound theory that good premises don’t need fixing, begins “Waking Lions” (Little, Brown, 341 pages, $26) with another hit and run. While speeding through the Negev Desert on his way home from work, neurosurgeon Eitan Green kills an Eritrean immigrant. He thinks there are no witnesses and drives away. But the next morning the dead man’s wife, Sirkit, knocks on his door bearing the wallet he left behind.

The drama that plays out between “the extorted and the extorter” takes an unexpected shape. Instead of demanding money for her silence, Sirkit forces Eitan to spend his nights working at a makeshift clinic for undocumented African migrants. To keep the exhausting arrangement secret Eitan concocts an elaborate set of lies to tell his wife, Liat, who happens to be a police detective investigating—you guessed it—his hit and run.

Ms. Gundar-Goshen turns floodlights on Israel’s unseen corners. Liat gradually exposes a drug trafficking ring involving the head of a kibbutz, local Bedouins and Sirkit’s husband. Eitan, meanwhile, is confronted by otherwise invisible masses of ailing, destitute Eritreans and Sudanese. Compelled to tend to them against his will yet increasingly ensnared by the extremity of their need, his connection to this shadow population is a compound of guilt, resentment and compassion: “Just as the smell of blood drove sharks mad, the smell of weakness made him furious. Or maybe it was the opposite, and it wasn’t that he had the power to destroy them that made him angry at them but the clever way they destroyed him. The way their wretchedness oppressed him, accused him.”

“Waking Lions,” in a propulsive translation from Hebrew by Sondra Silverston, yokes a crime story to thorny ethical issues in ways reminiscent of Donna Tartt and Richard Price. Its motor doesn’t always purr—the sections in the middle unpacking Eitan and Liat’s troubled marriage are laborious. But it’s a rare book that can trouble your conscience while holding you in a fine state of suspense.

A ‘Notorious’ 2016 for Ginsburg and Comey The justice’s politicking and the FBI director’s appropriation of prosecutorial authority likely did lasting damage.By Laurence H. Silberman

Last year we experienced a rather spirited presidential election season. It was probably the fiercest of my lifetime. But we should not be troubled by heated political campaigns. They are the occasional episodes that mark a healthy democracy.

In one respect, however, the 2016 election campaign was quite troubling. We saw two of our most important legal institutions—the Supreme Court and the Justice Department—bend in the political winds.

Years ago, I gave a speech in which I tried to explain why some justices moved, over time, to a more activist posture, less restrained or principled—in other words, result-oriented. A major factor was the influence of the press. Hence the “Greenhouse effect,” referring to Linda Greenhouse, who covered the justices for the New York Times. The Supreme Court press is increasingly dominated by lawyer-journalists who reflect the change in the composition of law-school faculties, which are now almost uniformly left-activist. That political flavor was recently demonstrated by the stunningly uniform opposition at law schools to the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general.

Since the press’s orientation is sympathetic to activist results, which I think it is safe to say are largely on the left, it is not surprising that the Greenhouse effect is more demonstrable vis-à-vis Republican appointees. And the effect has been particularly strong on Washington neophytes—judicial appointees who had not served in prior Republican administrations and therefore had not yet experienced the attacks of the mainstream press. The neophytes had not yet grown the thicker skin that Republican officials in the executive branch necessarily develop. Compare, for instance, Justices John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor,Anthony Kennedy and David Souter with William Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia,Clarence Thomas,John Roberts and Samuel Alito. The latter five had served in Republican administrations, but none of the former had.


The climate may change but one thing that never does is the use of climate change as a political wedge against Republicans. Also never changing is the call from some Republicans to neutralize the issue by handing more economic power to the federal government through a tax on carbon. The risk is that Donald Trump takes up the idea, which would hurt the economy with little benefit to the environment.

George Shultz and James Baker, the esteemed former secretaries of State, have joined a group of GOP worthies for a carbon tax and recently pressed the case in these pages. They propose a gradually increasing tax that would be redistributed to Americans as a “dividend.” This tax on fossil fuels would replace the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan and a crush of other punitive regulations. Energy imports from countries without a similar structure would face a tax at the border.

A carbon tax would be better than bankrupting industries by regulation and more efficient than a “cap-and-trade” emissions credit scheme. Such a tax might be worth considering if traded for radically lower taxes on capital or income, or is narrowly targeted like a gasoline tax. But in the real world the Shultz-Baker tax is likely to be one more levy on the private economy. Even if a grand tax swap were politically possible, a future Congress might jack up rates or find ways to reinstate regulations.

Another problem is the “dividend.” A carbon tax would be regressive, as the poor spend more of their income on gasoline and household energy. The plan purports to solve this in part by promising to return the tax to the American public. But the purpose of taxes is to fund government services, not shuffle money from one payer to another. No doubt politicians would take a cut to funnel into renewable energy or some other vote-buying program.

The rebates would also become a new de facto entitlement with an uncertain funding future. A family of four would receive a $2,000 payout in the first year from a carbon tax, according to a report from the Climate Leadership Council, and that “amount would grow over time as the carbon tax rate increases.” But the point of taxing carbon is to emit less of it, and eventually revenues would decline as the tax rate rises. The public would then receive minimal or no help paying for energy the government made more expensive, and the progressives will try to make up the difference by raising other taxes.

Meanwhile, the energy import fee looks like an appeal to Mr. Trump’s protectionist impulses, but it’s too clever by half. The idea is an attempt to export U.S. climate and tax policy with the threat of tariffs, which other countries my resent. It’s a particular stick in the eye to Canada and Mexico and the promise of North American energy security. China and India aren’t likely to follow while they need fossil fuels to lift millions out of poverty.

The anticarbon Republicans want a commission to consider after five years whether to raise the tax based on the “best climate science available,” but all methods of calculating a price for carbon are susceptible to political manipulation. The Obama Administration spent years fudging “social cost of carbon” estimates to justify its regulatory agenda. The tax rate would also be influenced by international climate models that have overestimated the increase in global temperature for nearly two decades.

A carbon tax is always pitched as “insurance” against climate change, but no one thinks it will change the trajectory of temperatures. A 2016 paper from the Cato Institute makes the point that insurance policies hedge risks that are well-known, unlike climate change, whose risks are highly uncertain.

Would You Want Your Vaccine Produced by Supporters of Jihad? by Judith Bergman

“Selling the crucial manufacture of vaccines to an ideologically hostile country, which might – for whatever reason – suddenly decide to shut down production, does not sound like a good idea… Those who say that the Saudis are merely interested in profit, just like everybody else, should know better”. — Rachel Ehrenfeld, expert on financing terrorism

Virtually all political parties supported the Danish government’s sale of its vaccine manufacturing facility to the Saudi conglomerate.

After the publication of the Danish Mohammad cartoons in 2006, Saudis boycotted Danish goods. Do Danish politicians really have such short memories?

Vaccines are not an easy commodity to come by. It takes minimum six months for an order of vaccines to be delivered, but, according to the World Health Organization, delivery can also easily take up to two years.

How much trust are Danish consumers supposed to have in a Saudi owned conglomerate, which employs jihadists such as Usmani and donates heavily to jihadist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, who want to bring about a caliphate? The potential for political exploitation is too evident to reject.

Would you want your vaccines produced by a Saudi company that supports jihad? Danes, it seems, may have no choice.

Denmark recently sold its state-owned vaccine manufacturing facility to a conglomerate owned by the Aljomaih Group, a Saudi family dynasty[1] led by Sheikh AbdulAziz Hamad Aljomaih. The sheikh is also the largest single stockholder and chairman of Arcapita Bank, (formerly First Islamic Investment Bank) headquartered in Bahrain. As an Islamic bank, it has a so-called Sharia Supervisory Board comprised of Islamic scholars, who ensure that the bank’s activities comply with sharia (Islamic law).

Former Islamic judge and leading Islamic scholar Taqi Usmani, who sits on the bank’s Sharia Board, in his book, “Islam and Modernism”, writes ruminations such as: “Aggressive Jihad is lawful even today… Its justification cannot be veiled…”

Usami had also, after Danish newspapers reprinted the Mohammad cartoons in 2008, co-signed an appeal to the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), urging it to boycott Denmark:

“If the Danish government does not declare the [publication of] shameful and blasphemous cartoons as a criminal act, the OIC [should] appeal to all Islamic nations for a trade boycott of that bigoted country”.