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Pro-Palestinian Protesters Demonstrate At Lockheed Martin in King of Prussia

Chanting, waving signs and Palestinian flags, about 30 people protested U.S. military support for Israel at the Lockheed Martin plant in King of Prussia late Friday afternoon.

Numerous Upper Merion police officers guarded the gates of the defense contractor. Pro-Palestinian groups have been protesting at defense contractors since the war began after the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel. The U.S. division of the Israeli company Elbit Systems has been a frequent target, including vandalism and property damage.

One protester, Asher Garza of Ambler, leader of the group “Montco for Liberation,” said its members agree with Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery), who announced she supports a bilateral ceasefire after a recent trip to Israel.

“The vast majority of Americans, on a bipartisan basis, are demanding a ceasefire,” said Garza. “And part of that is reflected in our Congresswoman Madeleine Dean’s call for a ceasefire to be initiated, which we have been lobbying for.”

Carmen Guerrero

Dean’s position is at odds with the views of her fellow Pennsylvania Democrat, U.S. Sen. John Fetterman.

“At any point, Hamas could have ended this burgeoning tragedy to surrender and release every hostage,” Fetterman posted on social media Sunday.

“Now, they’re unwilling to provide a list of any surviving hostages. Hamas is anathema to peace in Gaza. Hamas instigated and owns this humanitarian catastrophe.”

Garza also mentioned a voting campaign in Michigan where 100,000 Democratic primary voters, including members of the state’s Arab-American community, voted “uncommitted” instead of for  President Joe Biden.

“It was clearly a referendum on Biden’s policies and lack of meaningful action to stop the slaughter,” said Garza.

However, a new Harvard Harris poll reported 82 percent of Americans support Israel in its war against Hamas.

Also on Friday, Biden said a ceasefire may be possible by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on March 10.

Philadelphia resident Timour Kamran said he attended the protest as part of a vigil for U.S. Airman Aaron Bushnell, who lit himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., on February 25. Several other people told DVJournal they came to the protest because of Bushnell.

Kamran wanted to “honor (Bushnell’s) sacrifice for the cause of freeing Palestine.”

“We’re outside the Lockheed Martin campus because we believe the oppression of Palestine is part of a global system of empire. Companies like Lockheed Martin profit at the expense of people’s lives.”

The company provided this statement: “Lockheed Martin’s core values are to do what’s right, respect others, and perform with excellence. These values provide clear, unambiguous, and uncompromising standards for how we treat each other with understanding and compassion. We respect the right to peaceful protest and we are honored to partner with the U.S. military and our international partners to deliver strategic deterrence and security solutions.”

David, who declined to give his last name because of ongoing death threats from pro-Palestine protesters, came from Lancaster to counter-protest.

“It really comes down to the defeat of Hamas,” said David, who held a large Israeli flag on a tall pole. “I don’t hear anyone calling for the release of hostages. I just hear ‘ceasefire’ and a lot of antisemitism.”

Chants included, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which David said is antisemitic and means, “They want Israel and the Jewish people wiped off the map.”


“It’s tragic what’s happening,” he said. “There are innocent civilians being killed every day. I think the numbers are inflated. We’re relying on UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) and Hamas agencies to report those supposed facts. I’m going to trust Israel.”

“I hope Hamas will stop using innocent civilians as human shields,” David added.

Using a megaphone, Garza called on Lockheed Martin employees to resign.

“Break free of your comfortable bondage,” Garza said. “It’s not a hefty price to pay. I call all of good conscience to walk out. Seek just and righteous employment.” Mentioning F-16 fighter jets, he exhorted Lockheed employees, who were not likely to hear his entreaties, to not “create the machines of death.”

Then he led the chant, “Not another nickel, not another dime. No more money for Lockheed crimes.”

“Free, free, free Palestine,” the crowd chanted. And “resistance is justified if the people are occupied.”

King of Prussia resident Christina Nassir also came for the Bushnell vigil.

She said she is half-Iraqi and half-Irish. She attends a Lebanese Christian church and is concerned that Israel may bomb Lebanon next.

Carmen Guerrero, also of King of Prussia, put together a shrine for Bushnell on a blanket surrounded by flowers and candles. She said she was a member of the Mayan tribe and a native American who supports the Palestinians.

A woman who came to the protest with her toddler in a stroller, said she felt compelled to leave her King of Prussia home to support the Palestinians.

“No more money for Israel’s war,” she chanted with the others.

Members of other left-wing and pro-Palestinian groups, including Philly Palestine Coalition, Lancaster Palestine Coalition, the Philadelphia Chapter of American Muslims for Palestine, CAIR Philadelphia, BuxMont DSA, the Party for Socialism and Liberation, NEPA for Palestine, and the Abandon Biden Campaign also participated.

The protest was one of several those groups have held in the Delaware Valley since the war began. There’s also been an upsurge of antisemitism at schools and universities.

Garza said a ceasefire is the only way the Israeli hostages will be released. Although, the Israeli Defense Forces have rescued some in raids on Hamas’ terror tunnels.

“Ceasefire is the only reasonable way to preserve life on both sides, if you will,” Garza said.

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PATTERSON-Before Oct. 7, U.S. Gave $1 Billion to UNRWA/Hamas

On September 23, 14 days before the Hamas terror attacks on Israel, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced more funding for the United Nations Human Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). The funding goes to Gaza and the West Bank. 

“I am proud to announce the United States is providing more than $73 million in additional funding to support UNRWA’s core and emergency services,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

After Hamas terrorists slaughtered more than 1,000 innocent Israelis, including 14 Israeli-Americans, on Oct. 7, the Israeli Defense Forces entered Gaza to save 200 hostages. Hamas held the hostages in underground tunnels. During the hostage recovery mission, IDF and Israeli intelligence found evidence that UNRWA personnel assisted Hamas in the Oct. 7 attacks.

In late January, Thomas-Greenfield announced the suspension of U.S. funds to UNRWA. She called for “fundamental change” in UNRWA. Change might include assurances by U.N. officials that UNRWA would discontinue using U.S. funds to massacre Israeli and American civilians.

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, withheld U.S. funding from UNRWA until Palestinians began peace negotiations with Israel. The negotiations did not happen. In his 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden promised to restore funding for UNRWA.

Based on UNRWA’s website, Biden has given more than $1 billion to the agency. Al Jazeera reported that the United States gave more than $400 million in 2023. Hamas used the money to buy military weapons, build secret tunnels, and plot with UNRWA officials to attack Israel, murder Israelis and Americans, undermine peace and security in the region, and interfere with U.S. foreign policy.

Biden and his administration say they were unaware of the UNRWA-Hamas terror connection. Now they know. Now America and the world know.

While the IDF seeks Israeli and American hostages in Gaza, it could find more evidence about UNRWA’s support for Hamas and, possibly, other terrorist groups. It is worthwhile that the IDF continue its mission in Gaza. It might find Hamas/UNRWA plans for future terror attacks. The IDF’s mission could help prevent more terror attacks and save innocent lives.

The role of UNRWA in the Oct. 7 terror attacks has caused some to question the U.S. role in the United Nations. Thomas-Greenfield is right that “fundamental change” is needed at UNRWA and the United Nations. U.N. personnel should be subject to thorough background investigations to determine if they have a connection with international terror groups. Congress should insist that Thomas-Greenfield take responsibility for the actions of all U.S. personnel found to be involved with terrorist organizations. Diplomats should not have immunity from prosecution for their involvement with terrorist groups.

It is a positive first step for Biden to cease U.S. funding for UNRWA. Some at the United Nations call this “immoral” due to the immense hardship on the Palestinians. It would be immoral for the Palestinians to continue suffering under the control of Hamas. It would be immoral for the United States to continue funding Hamas.

Biden should suspend all U.S. funding to UNRWA until Hamas releases all hostages, surrenders to the IDF, and Palestinians begin peace negotiations with Israel.

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ELAND: Ukraine Should Negotiate an End to the War with Russia and Justifiably Claim Victory

Russian leader Vladimir Putin, despite his public swaggering, has privately signaled support for a settlement in his war with Ukraine that would freeze current battle lines, according to former Russian officials close to the Kremlin and U.S. and international officials who have received Putin’s offers.

After a failed recent counteroffensive and less certain continued U.S. and European assistance, Ukraine should accept negotiations that could require it to give up territory but nevertheless credibly claim victory in the war against Russia.

Understandably, after Putin’s unnecessary and brutal invasion of Ukraine, which has purposefully killed many Ukrainian civilians, President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian leaders are still pledging to fight until they regain all their lost territory. Yet, Ukraine’s uncompromising position, which demands that the Russian military withdraw from all Ukrainian land and pay for damages, is untenable.

Even if the war ended today, and existing battle lines became future national boundaries, the magnitude of Ukraine’s victory should not be forgotten. Recent news reports have focused on the failed counteroffensive and the vicissitudes of Western aid. Still, Ukraine, a country much smaller in population and much weaker in military power than invading Russia, not only repulsed the initial Russian attack but has succeeded in clawing back territory in previous counteroffensives in Kherson and the northeast region of Ukraine, after which Putin licked his wounds and made a prior entreaty for a ceasefire in the fall of 2022.

The Ukrainian military has fought tenaciously, and the civilian population has valiantly endured many intentional Russian attacks and depredations that should be deemed war crimes. In short, Ukraine has nothing to be ashamed of.

Instead, Ukraine can be satisfied that it has inflicted severe pain on Putin and Russia — for example, catastrophic casualties, erosion of military capability through destroyed equipment, economic pain and the destabilization of Putin’s rule, as indicated by an aborted coup against his government.

Despite the calm exterior of a former KGB operative, Putin is likely livid at the horrific performance of his generals and vastly overrated military. And in the negotiations, perhaps Ukraine could regain more of its territory.

In the future, Putin, in his created kleptocracy, cannot be sure that, once again, any “much improved” military will be just another shell for corruption and, therefore, incompetence on the battlefield. Even if current battle lines become frozen, Putin, despite his show of arrogance and despite the fears of other Eastern European countries, will likely be deterred by this black eye from using his badly decimated army to invade any NATO country or engage in other substantial mischief anytime soon.

Ukraine is not the first smaller country to best the big Russian bear in a conflict. In 1939, Russia invaded Finland. Like the Ukrainians, the Finns fought hard and effectively to preserve their country from Russia’s larger army. Although Finland had to give up some territory, it prevented Russia from erasing Finland from the map. Today, the world perceives that Finland won the Winter War against Russia. Bearing this out, Finland became a prosperous, non-communist country living in the shadow of an imperially oriented great power.

Ukraine should keep the Finnish example in mind when assessing the costs and benefits of continuing to fight this bitter war. A pragmatic conclusion should question the sensibility of continuing the bloody fight and suffering many more casualties in an unlikely, and even quixotic, effort to regain from a dug-in Russia the Russian-speaking areas of eastern Ukraine, which may well prefer to be in Russia.

A measure to help both countries save face and sell a negotiated settlement to their own publics would be to conduct legitimate, internationally monitored referenda in Crimea and east and southeast Ukraine (unlike Putin’s early sham referenda in those areas) to allow the people there to genuinely determine the country they want to call home.

For Ukraine, the future of continued war looks dismal; the future, if peace is restored, looks much brighter. Ukraine made inroads in being able to start the application process for becoming a member of the European Union — its ticket to future prosperity and becoming part of the West. As it did with Finland after 1940, the world will regard the outcome of this war as an unlikely but courageous victory for Ukraine in preserving its sovereignty against a hostile great power aggressor.

Ending the war rapidly, despite some loss of territory, is the ticket to getting its economy rapidly on the road to prosperity.

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DelVal Dems Vote Against Israel Aid Funding Bill

On Tuesday, a $17.6 billion bill to help fund Israeli security failed in the U.S. House. Israel has been at war since the savage Hamas terrorist attacks on Oct. 7 took the lives of some 1,200 people. Terrorists kidnapped another 240 people, including Americans, and are holding them hostage in Gaza.

Delaware Valley’s three congressional Democrats, Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, Madeleine Dean, and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Philadelphia/Delaware/Montgomery) voted against the bill. Local Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick voted for it.

The GOP-proposed legislation was a “clean” bill, not attached to any other issues like border security or aid to Ukraine.

In a Feb. 3 letter, House Speaker Michael Johnson (R-La.) said, “Given the Senate’s failure to move appropriate legislation in a timely fashion and the perilous circumstances currently facing Israel, the House will continue to lead. Next week, we will take up and pass a clean, standalone Israel supplemental package. During debate the House and the original House bill was with its offsets. The Senate will no longer have excuses, however misguided, against swift passage of this critical support for our ally.”

Although the vote was 250 to 180, two-thirds approval was needed for passage.

The Senate had formulated a bill that would have included $60 million for Ukraine and $20 million for the U.S. border, although not for items Republicans believe are needed, such as a border wall. Both Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman joined the majority of their fellow Democrats and backed the $118 billion package, but it failed a procedural vote (49-50)  on Wednesday.

President Biden had said he would have vetoed the House bill but would have signed the Senate bill had they reached his desk.

Delaware Valley Democrats who helped kill the aid to Israel bill went to great lengths to explain their votes.

“I have always supported Israel’s right to defend itself and will continue to vote accordingly,” said Houlahan. “But I cannot support a politically motivated piece of legislation that falls short on a host of related national security issues, including the needs of Ukraine, Taiwan, innocent Palestinians, and our southern border.”

Houlahan added, “Of course, this vote was not easy. I know Israel needs further support as they seek to root out Hamas’ entrenched control in Gaza. That’s why I’m hopeful that cooler, more bipartisan heads will prevail, and I will soon be able to vote on a supplemental package that supports our ally, Israel, as well as Ukraine, Taiwan, and the many community groups and law enforcement agencies along our southern border.”

Dean explained her no vote: “On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas launched a brutal attack on Israeli civilians that killed more than 1,400 men, women, and children. In the wake of that horrifying attack, I have been unwavering in my belief that Israel has a right to exist, every hostage must be returned, and Hamas must be dislodged — without destroying innocent life.

“I have also repeatedly expressed my deep concern — for the men, women, and children in harm’s way, through no fault of their own, without adequate food, water, shelter, or medical supplies. This legislation contains no humanitarian aid for Gazans or Israelis.

“These grave circumstances demand serious action — but this bill, hastily introduced by House Republican leadership, is, unfortunately, not that. Instead of considering a bipartisan package addressing our border and immigration systems — in addition to our commitments to long-term peace in the Middle East — House Republicans are once again using Israel as a political cudgel,” Dean said.

Scanlon called the GOP bill “a cynical political maneuver.”

“Since the horrific Oct. 7 attack, I have stood with President Biden and House Democrats to strongly support Israel and secure the return of the hostages. Our commitment to Israel’s security and existence has not wavered, and we remain ready to support serious, bipartisan efforts that honor the special relationship between the United States and Israel. H.R. 7217 is neither serious nor bipartisan, having been crafted solely to sow political division and to block the bipartisan security supplemental negotiated by the Senate and the White House.

“America’s national security interests, and those of our close allies, should not be subject to partisan political games. H.R. 7217 is designed to politicize support for Israel while denying military aid to Ukraine and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and Gaza. It would undermine the longstanding, bipartisan support for Israel in Congress while harming both America’s and Israel’s national security. Congress must act now to support Israel, surge humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, support Ukraine against Russian aggression, tackle the challenges at the southern border, and strengthen our democratic allies in the Indo-Pacific,” Scanlon said.

Residents took to Facebook to react to this vote.

“These three need to be turned out and replaced by real American First candidates,” wrote Denise Myers.

And Vince Gambone said, “As usual, they’re following orders given by the DNC. Can’t remember any of them ever thinking for themselves.”

On the other hand, Rich Heiland said, “I am fine with her vote. The Republicans have sabotaged aid to Israel, Ukraine, and the border because of their obedience to Trump. Why should Chrissy play along with their politics? We should fund all those areas, as well as assist Palestinian victims in Gaza. We also should fund the border. But, as long as Trump is calling the shots, we won’t. As for the homeless in the U.S., Republicans won’t help them, either.”

And Teri Selleck Majewski added, “I think we need to worry about our homeless first before sending anything to other countries. Are any of them sending anything to us besides their citizens sneaking in?”

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HOULAHAN: Why Help Ukraine: An Open Letter to My Congressional Colleagues

In a departure from a largely do-nothing Congress, we may have real votes and many difficult choices to make in the coming weeks. During this time, with respect to Ukraine, I ask my colleagues to remember our collective history, remember who we serve, and be brave.

There is a buzz in the nation and Washington D.C. that we should no longer continue to support the Ukrainians in their battle against Putin’s unlawful invasion. Many of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, say that they hear from their communities and constituents that we should send our resources elsewhere: the southwestern border, Israel, to support childcare or end homelessness, to name a few. The list of our nation’s needs is indeed long and worthy.

I would argue two things, however: 1) it is the responsibility of the elected Members of Congress not simply to hear and reflect in Washington what our constituents might be feeling and saying but also to bring home from Washington and the world what our role as a nation should be, and 2) sometimes it also is a Representative’s fiduciary, rather than elective, job to vote based on the needs of the nation as a whole and over the long term, and it is our job to help our community understand why we voted the way we did.

Last week, I traveled to Lithuania as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. I was also there because my home state of Pennsylvania’s Army National Guard partners with Lithuania for their State Partnership Program. The Pennsylvania Guard has worked with Lithuania for over 30 years; we specifically help them with cyber security. In addition, many of our nation’s active duty troops from all over the United States are based in Lithuania as part of our collective forward line of defense of the NATO alliance.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan meets with U.S. Troops in Lithuania

Lithuania borders Russia and Belarus. Belarus has proven itself to be nothing more than a puppet state of Russia throughout the war in Ukraine; recently, one might recall it housed and harbored the Russian merciless mercenary Wagner Group.

While in Lithuania, I had the chance to meet with the Assistant Minister of Defense. While speaking with him, he implored me to bring an urgent message back home: we must continue to help Ukraine defend itself. He reminded me that Lithuania and many, many more nations have spent upwards of 2.75 percent of their GDP on their defense and the defense of Ukraine, materially surpassing our commitment here in the U.S. Recall at one point that former President Trump maligned the members of NATO for their supposed lack of commitment.

This, indeed, is no longer the case.

Over the past couple of years, the Biden Administration has led a large international coalition to support Ukraine robustly, and the participation of dozens of nations has been historic in scale and scope. In fact, the United States is not even ranked in the top ten in terms of our overall contribution by GDP to defense and Ukraine support. NATO and many non-NATO nations are doing their part, and we must continue to do ours.

I also had the chance to meet with many of our troops in Lithuania. They are stationed very close to the border of Belarus — thousands of miles from home — in cold and challenging conditions. It is not lost on them that they are on the frontline. I was struck by their youth, their eagerness and patriotism, and their commitment to the people of Lithuania and NATO. I was also struck by their exposure and the fact that they were in literal harm’s way should the war in Ukraine go sideways.

Without our continued support to Ukraine, we are dangerously close to this, ultimately evolving into a war that requires our troops to be pulled in. If we allow Ukraine to fall to Russia, it is Putin’s expressed and stated purpose to continue onward to places like Lithuania. We have a commitment through Article 5 that if Lithuania or any other NATO nation is attacked, it is an attack on us all. And we will be required to respond.

So, as a U.S. House Representative, I know fully that there are many pulls on my community, Commonwealth, and country that deserve our attention. But I also know it is my responsibility to take hard and unpopular stands when I know it’s the right thing to do — in this case, to passionately advocate and vote for continued support for Ukraine. Such actions and support show our allies we are good for our word and here to stay. Actions such as these keep our young men and women in uniform out of harm’s way. And this is an effective use of our resources because it helps decimate Russia’s military and capabilities without depleting our own.

I genuinely believe that my colleagues — both Republicans and Democrats — fully know this, too. We must not put ourselves in a position to regret not supporting Ukraine when the war has come to us. The loss will become more severe, and I fear the price will be much more expensive in many ways. So, I ask my colleagues once again: remember our history, remember who we serve, and be brave.

CHERRY: Damned if They Do and Dead if They Don’t:  Why Israel Has No Redlines

The International Court of Justice is now hearing a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of “grave violence and genocidal acts.”  Those charges are both achingly obvious and irrelevant to the legal definition of genocide.

As long as there is no intent to commit genocide, then Israeli military actions taken to disable Hamas from committing further atrocities, as their leadership promised to do, is justified even though the same acts, with intent, would be genocidal.

Notwithstanding the calls and leaflets from the Israel Defense Forces to provide some measure of direction for the hapless population, the real question of intent can only be determined if Hamas were to release the 133 hostages and surrender.  If Israel continued its military campaign once the threat of Hamas were eliminated, that would be genocidal.  Until then, Israel’s Defense Minister makes the reasonable claim that without military pressure Hamas will not release those hostages.

Israel has a political obligation to its citizens and a moral obligation to humanity to not allow Hamas’ illegal and immoral exploitation of international laws to deprive Israel of her ability to defend herself.  Israel targets hospitals, schools, and mosques because Hamas camouflages its military infrastructure with Gazan civilian infrastructure.  Those who argue that Hamas’ terrorist tactics do not justify the mass murder of Palestinian civilians are naïve children of light (Luke 16:8) who enjoy the luxury of selectively loving their neighbors from a safe distance.

Once we agree that Israel has a moral duty to eliminate the threat that Hamas poses to its existence, there are no redlines.  If it’s between “damned if we do and dead if we don’t,” that’s not a choice.

It’s not a choice for any country.  October 7 was proportionately more deadly than 10 9/11s.  Furthermore, under the guise of championing Palestinian rights, Hamas’s prurient predators defiled Israeli women with a depravity that will stain Islam forever.  The barrages of missiles from both Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which have intermittently overwhelmed Israel’s missile defense systems, continue daily. And then there are the Shi’ite militias, backed by Iran, who are probing Israel’s borders for weaknesses.  Thirty years ago, Professor Samuel Huntington wrote that “Islam has bloody borders.”  Given Israel’s borders with fundamentalist Islamists, a baby aspirin is contraindicated.

Most Israelis had been hopeful that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 would result in a peace even warmer than that which Israel had previously achieved with Egypt and Jordan.  Hamas, however, dedicated to the destruction of Israel, has proven an implacable neighbor.

Alas, the devastation of October 7 and its aftermath are crushing for all involved.  Many are ashamed by the reports of the mistreatment of Palestinian prisoners and, worse, vigilante justice in the West Bank.  Many are aghast at the wholesale destruction of large swaths of Gaza.  Many seek the downfall of the current government on whose watch this calamity befell.  But nothing about how Israel prosecutes this war, or which international bodies pressure Israel, will change the necessity of neutralizing Hamas.

Jews know what genocide is.  Those in the Warsaw Ghetto couldn’t have surrendered to save their lives because what the Nazis were perpetrating was genocide.  Hamas, however, has the power to stop, immediately, the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza and remove all barriers to desperately needed aid to the Gazans.  But the fact that Hamas, even now, especially now, remains unwilling to release the hostages is yet another signal that they are dedicated to the elimination of Israel rather than the wellbeing of the Palestinians. No international forum should interfere with the necessary self-defense of a state.  Such a precedent invites future exploitation.

Hamas’s Charter is explicit about their intention to destroy Israel.  Their pogrom on October 7 joined act to intent.  Israel is waging a war of survival against a genocidal, Islamist regime.  The war is both devastating and asymmetric, but Israel’s intention is self-defense and deterrence, not genocide.  To apply pressure on Israel for a cease-fire rather than on Hamas to release its hostages and surrender corroborates Israel’s raison d’être:  Jews can depend only on themselves to survive.

Israel has made peace with Egypt, Jordan, and most recently the countries participating in the Abraham Accords.  Peace is possible when both parties want their own people to live more than they want their enemies to die. Israel awaits a Palestinian partner for peace.

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LUKACS: The Mirage of Israeli-Saudi Peace

To what extent was the Biden administration responsible for the events leading up to the attack by Hamas on October 7?

Before the war, the administration was busy trying to hammer out an unprecedented Israeli-Saudi normalization agreement while downplaying the Palestinian question.

President Biden’s efforts to conclude a landmark Israeli-Saudi peace deal were intended to build upon the Abraham Accords signed in Washington in 2020, sponsored by the Trump administration. The accords normalized diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel. Morocco and Sudan also joined the accords later.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), sought a hard bargain from the United States in exchange for the proposed deal with Israel. Riyadh demanded a mutual defense treaty with Washington and a green light for an ambitious civilian nuclear program, including the enrichment of uranium on Saudi soil.

Saudi Arabia’s re-establishing diplomatic relations with Iran, orchestrated by China in March 2023, raised alarm bells in the White House. Given the animosity between Washington, Tehran and Beijing, a trilateral Israeli/Saudi/American treaty would counter Iran’s regional ambitions and check China’s growing influence in the Middle East. Moreover, it was hoped that such a spectacular foreign policy breakthrough would pay off domestically by elevating Biden’s popularity before the elections.

Ultimately, were those formidable concessions, especially committing its military to defend an unpredictable Saudi royal autocracy, congruent with America’s vital national interests? Further, should the United States have sanctioned nuclear proliferation in the world’s most volatile region? Certainly not on both counts.

The Trump and Biden administrations were captivated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vision of the pathway to peace with the Arab world. In his address to the U.N. General Assembly in September 2023, Netanyahu declared that “I’ve long sought to make peace with the Palestinians. But I also believe that we must not give the Palestinians a veto over new peace treaties with Arab states.” He continued, “The Palestinians could greatly benefit from a broader peace. They should be part of that process but they should not have a veto over it.”

The Saudi position on peace with Israel was outlined by the resolutions of the 2002 Arab League summit in Lebanon. It called for a complete Israeli withdrawal from all the territories it occupied in the 1967 war and for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel, however, rejected it as a basis for negotiations.

Once the White House approached Riyadh about a possible deal with Israel, the 2002 plan was no longer relevant. MBS dismissed the centrality of the Palestinian issue in any future deal as envisioned by Netanyahu.

Unquestionably, the Biden administration bought into this half-baked scheme. Publicly, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that “normalization (with Israel) cannot come at the expense of the Palestinian cause.” 

Such a statement, however, was issued for public consumption only. It had no real policy relevance. There was no way that Netanyahu’s Israel would make any meaningful concessions to the Palestinians. The administration was aware of that, yet it went along with the proposed treaty while disregarding its potentially dire consequences.

This cynical triple deal was meant to satisfy each player’s interests; MBS, a ruthless dictator, exploited Washington’s anxiety about China and demanded an alliance; Biden aspired to re-establish a “pax Americana” in the Middle East; and Netanyahu planned to celebrate the “deal of the century” by making peace with the most prominent Arab state. This untenable diplomatic ménage à trois collapsed on October 7. Hamas’ leaders were fully aware that once an Israel-Saudi agreement was inked, Netanyahu’s goal to crush the Palestinians’ aspirations for an independent state would be realized with MBS’ blessing.

The attack by Hamas was partly an attempt to derail the Israeli-Saudi deal, and it succeeded in aborting it. Biden acknowledged this saying, “One of the reasons Hamas moved on Israel … they knew that I was about to sit down with the Saudis.”

“Guess what? The Saudis wanted to recognize Israel.”

After the October 7 attack, the administration’s vocal support of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel has become a core component of its conflict resolution strategy once the war is over.

Advocating peace and promoting a two-state solution is certainly laudable at this juncture. But given the deep-seated mutual hatred, the rejectionist disposition of both parties, the fresh scars left by the continuing violence and the humanitarian trauma in Gaza, peace is nothing short of a pipedream.

Still, Biden’s misguided diplomatic adventure, peddled by Netanyahu and cheered by MBS, has exposed America’s gullibility and ineptitude to pursue a coherent policy worthy of a superpower trying to steer clear of the deadly Middle East quicksand.

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McCormick Travels to Israel, Tours Site of Hamas Terror Attack

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dave McCormick has made no secret of his support for Israel or belief that the U.S. should stand by its key ally.

The Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania native put those beliefs into action this week, traveling to Israel to meet with members of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and tour a site of the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack.

“[H]e has a packed schedule while there,” a McCormick campaign spokesperson told DVJournal.

It may include visits with the families of hostages, top IDF leaders, and government officials. One site McCormick has already visited is the Kfar Aza kibbutz east of Gaza. Nearly 50 residents were murdered, and at least 20 others were reported missing after the Hamas attack. Some 1,200 Israelis were killed and and another 250 were kidnapped that day. At least 33 American citizens were killed, while others were taken hostage.

McCormick has made foreign policy a centerpiece of his campaign to oust Democrat Sen. Bob Casey, who is seeking a fourth term. The author of the recent book, “Superpower in Peril,” McCormick also holds a Ph.D. from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, served as an undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury for international affairs under President George W. Bush, and was an Army officer and Gulf War veteran.

McCormick’s wife, Dina Powell McCormick, is also on the trip. A former deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration, Powell McCormick worked on Trump’s Middle East peace plan, the Abraham Accords, with the former president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

It’s not known how long McCormick will be in Israel.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia sees McCormick’s trip as a positive from an educational standpoint.

“We are always appreciative when individuals work to educate themselves with an in-person visit to Israel,” organization CEO and President Michael Balaban told DVJournal. “However, it is our policy, as a non-profit, not to comment on individuals running for office.”

McCormick’s visit may prompt Casey to make his own trip.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she and “at least four” other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee will be in Israel for the rest of the week. Casey is on the committee, but a spokesperson did not respond to requests about whether he’s part of the group. It plans discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The McCormick-Casey contest will be one of the biggest races in Pennsylvania and the U.S. this year. Democrats have a one-vote majority in the Senate. Polls currently show McCormick trailing Casey by about seven points.

McCormick lost the 2022 Pennsylvania GOP Senate primary to Dr. Memet Oz, who was soundly defeated by Democrat John Fetterman months later.

McCormick has been dogging Casey over what Republicans see as less-than-wholehearted support for Israel in the wake of Oct. 7. During a recent podcast interview with DVJournal, McCormick said U.S. aid to the Jewish state is vital, and he urged Republicans to come to an agreement with the White House to fund Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and reform policies at America’s southern border.

“They have a supplemental with funding for Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and changes to the border. And the president is not involved. He has not been involved from the beginning. He is apparently MIA on everything,” McCormick said.

“I’m particularly worried about Israel getting the support it needs to be able to finalize the destruction of Hamas. All these things are essentially creating uncertainty in the world about America’s leadership. And this weakness has to be replaced.”

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Anti-Israel Protestors Block Expressway Even as Area Synagogues Face Bomb Threats

Hundreds of rush-hour drivers were stuck on the Schuylkill Expressway near the Philadelphia Art Museum when pro-Palestinian protesters locked arms and blocked the highway Thursday.

According to a state police spokesperson, 32 people were arrested for disorderly conduct.

The protesters, with the left-wing groups Jewish Voice for Peace and Rabbis for Ceasefire, blocked traffic in the westbound lanes of the I-76 Expressway at 3:38 p.m. Officers from the Pennsylvania State Police, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Department took them into custody and reopened the highway. The protesters were transported to the State Police Headquarters on Belmont Avenue, where they were cited for disorderly conduct and released, police said.

Most of those who were cited gave Philadelphia addresses. Two were from Maryland, according to police records.

“I hope the people on I-76 can understand that demanding a ceasefire, that calling attention in every way that we can to the horrific situation in Gaza makes being stuck in traffic not that important,” protestor Rabbi Linda Holtzman reportedly said.

But law enforcement officials said protesting on a major highway at rush hour is not just foolhardy; it is dangerous for demonstrators and people in vehicles.

“They should be arrested, period,” said Mike Chitwood, retired Upper Darby police chief.

“I think the police department did the right thing with respect to opening up the freeway. You cannot block a major thoroughfare for any type of protest. It impacts the safety of the public.”

The protest was “dangerous to everybody,” he said. “Not just the protesters but the motoring public, especially at that time of day. And at the entrance to I-76, give me a break. They put everyone in danger.”

Radnor Police Superintendent Chris Flanagan agreed.

“It’s extremely dangerous to themselves and to the motoring public,” said Flanagan. Stopping traffic on the expressway might have caused a chain reaction accident with “a significant loss of life.” And ambulances or doctors heading to work could have been impacted by the highway closure.

Flanagan said if people want to protest, they should contact the local authorities and get a permit.

“They can get their message out in a safe way,” said Flanagan.

On its Facebook page, Jewish Voice for Peace said it held protests on the last night of Hannukah in Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland, Ore., Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Diego, as well.

“Thousands shut down rush hour traffic with banner drops, candle lightings, and giant handmade ceasefire menorahs demanding an immediate, lasting ceasefire, an end to the siege on Gaza, and full Palestinian freedom,” the anti-Zionist group stated.

At the same time the protest occurred, police and FBI agents were investigating bomb threats against Pennsylvania synagogues and Jewish centers, including some in the Delaware Valley. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the Germantown Jewish Centre and Kol Ami in Newtown, Bucks County, were among the locations that received bomb threats.

Carrie Adamowski, an FBI spokeswoman,  confirmed there is an ongoing investigation into bomb threats but declined to confirm that those specific locations were targets.

“The FBI is investigating a series of bomb threats targeting synagogues in Pennsylvania and multiple other states across the country. The FBI takes all threats seriously, especially those motivated by hate or bias. Although, at this time, no explosive devices related to these threats have been found, we continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners and will remain vigilant to protect our communities.”

Shapiro, Jewish Leaders Condemn Protest Targeting Israeli-Owned Philly Restaurant

Pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets in Center City Philadelphia Sunday night, shouting their opposition to Israel, calling for “intifada,” and demanding a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. Some went to the University of Pennsylvania campus, a site of earlier demonstrations. Others headed to Goldie, a Jewish-owned restaurant serving Israeli food on Samson Street.

They chanted, “Goldie, Goldie, you can’t hide. We charge you with genocide.”

The protest was organized by the Philly Palestine Coalition, which earlier this year called for a boycott of Zionist-owned businesses, including Goldie and other restaurants also owned by Israeli-born chef Mike Solomonov.

The protest drew quick condemnation from Gov. Josh Shapiro (D-Pa.). “Tonight in Philly, we saw a blatant act of antisemitism — not a peaceful protest. A restaurant was targeted and mobbed because its owner is Jewish and Israeli. This hate and bigotry is reminiscent of a dark time in history,” Shapiro posted on X.

Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) added his own post. “They could be protesting Hamas. They could be protesting Hamas’ systematic rape of Israeli women and girls or demanding the remaining hostages be immediately released. Instead, they targeted a Jewish restaurant. It’s pathetic and rank antisemitism.”

The protest in Philadelphia is just one of many from pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activists, some openly antisemitic, in the wake of Israel’s military response to the Oct. 7 terror attack carried out by Hamas. It claimed the lives of some 1,200 people in Israel, injured thousands more, and resulted in some 240 people taken hostage.

Rabbi Lance Sussman, author and rabbi emeritus of Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, said he supports free speech. “However, targeting individuals and businesses solely based on their personal identities borders on harassment and a violation of their rights. There are many ‘public squares’ and spaces in our area to share one’s message. Good citizenship is a multidimensional responsibility.”

“Hamas seeks to carry out a genocide against Israel—that is their explicit intent, and intention is one of the two criteria that the Jewish refugee from Nazi Europe included when coining the term genocide to describe the Holocaust. Were Hamas to surrender, there would be no more Palestinian bloodshed precisely because Israel has no genocidal intentions. The perversion of language and ethics is truly Orwellian,” said Rav Shai Cherry, senior rabbi at Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park.

Michael Solomonov, a chef and restaurateur who co-owns Goldie and several other Philadelphia eateries, declined to comment.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said, “Additionally, I called Michael Solomonov this morning to share that I’m buying lunch for my SEPA team at Goldie in solidarity with him and his team.”

Dave McCormick, Casey’s Republican opponent, said, “This ‘protest’ is despicable — antisemitism, plain and simple. I call on everyone who cares about our Jewish community to support Goldie’s. There are more supporters who care than antisemites who hate.”

Shapiro added, “I’ve communicated tonight with @Mike_Solomonov and his team at Goldie to share our support, and Lori and I look forward to breaking bread there with them again soon.”

In the aftermath of the October attack, Solomonov, who immigrated to the U.S. from Israel, donated a day of the proceeds from all his restaurants to the Friends of @unitedhatzalahofisrael, a volunteer emergency medical services program in Israel.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia also condemned the protests. “As we have said before, this tactic only serves to intimidate, isolate, and scapegoat Israeli and Jewish businesses, further contributing to the alarming levels of hate against Jews nationwide,” it said in a statement. “We stand with Gov. Shapiro and other local officials in denouncing this protest for what it is: blatant antisemitism. We call on the community to counter this hatred by increasing their support to Jewish-owned and pro-Israel businesses by purchasing gift cards from them as gifts for the holidays.”

The Philadelphia Free Palestine Coalition announced Sunday’s protest on its Facebook page.

Bryan Fuller wrote on it to the group: “My two best friends are Islamic. My husband is Hindu. I have hundreds of Jewish and Islamic friends. We are celebrating my husband’s 46th birthday at a restaurant owned by an Islamic couple so our two best friends can eat halal meat. I am disgusted by your actions last night. I have always supported Gaza and Israel. Your HATE is unbearable to watch. As a devout liberal, you do not represent me and the majority. Israel is often wrong. So is Gaza. The hate you showed last night towards a Jewish business is disgusting. I would NEVER target an independent business because of the acts of people I don’t agree with. I will personally frequent every establishment you attempt to destroy. So will my Islamic, Jewish, and Christian friends. Hate has no home!”

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